תמונות בעמוד

called MARCUS GEMINUS, the Latin tragedy of PROGNE, and an English comedy on the story of Chaucer's PALAMON AND Arcite, all acted by the students of the university, The queen's observations on the persons of the last mentioned piece, deserve notice: as they are at once a curious picture of the romantic pedantry of the times, and of the characteristical turn and predominant propensities of the queen's mind. When the play was over, she fummoned the poet into her presence, whom the loaded with thanks and. compliments: and at the same time turning to her levee, remarked, that Palamon was so justly drawn as a lover, that he certainly must have been in love indeed : that Arcite was a right martial knight, having a fwart and manly countenance, yet with the aspect of a Venus clad in armour: that the lovely Emilia was a virgin of uncorrupted purity and unblemished. fimplicity, and that although she fung so sweetly, and gathered flowers alone in the garden, she preserved her chastity undeflowered. The part of Emilia, the only female part in the play, was acted by a boy of fourteen years of age, a son of the dean of Christ-Church, habited like a young princess; whose performance fo captivated her majesty, that she gave him a present of eight guineas". During the exhibition a cry of hounds, belonging to Theseus, was counterfeited without, in the great square of the college: the young students thought it a real chace, and were feized with a sudden transport to join the hunters ; at which the queen cried out from her box, “ O excellent ! Thefe boys, in very

troth, are ready to leap out of the windows to follow the

*This youth had before been introduced begged him to repeat his elegant perfor to the queen’s notice, in her privy chamber mance. By Wood he is called, fummde at her lodgings at Chrift-Church; where Spei puer. Hist. ANTIQ. Univ. Oxon. he faluted her in a short Latin oration with lib. i. p. 287. col. 2. See also ATHEN. fome Greek verses, with which she was so Oxon. i. 152. And Peck's. Desid. Cupleased, that she called in fecretary Cecill, Rios. vol. i. lib. vii. Num. xviii. p. 46. and encouraging the boy's modesty with feq. many compliments and kind speeches,

« hounds!”

“ hounds * !” In the year 1564, queen Elizabeth honoured the university of Cambridge with a royal visit'. Here she was present at the exhibition of the AULULARIA of Plautus, and the tragedies of Dido, and of HezeKIAH, in English: which were played in the body, or nave, of the chapel of King's college, on a stage extended from side to side, by a select

company of scholars, chosen from different colleges at the discretion of five doctors, “ especially appointed to set « forth such plays as should be exhibited before her grace z.' The chapel, on this occasion, was lighted by the royal guards ; each of whom bore a staff-torch in his hand". Her majesty's patience was so fatigued by the sumptuous parade of shews and speeches, with which every moment was occupied, that she could not stay to see the AJAX of Sophocles; in Latin, which was prepared. Having been praised both in Latin and Greek, and in prose and verse, for her learning and her chastity, and having received more compliments than are paid to any of the pastoral princesses in Sydney's. ARCADIA, she was happy to return to the houses of some of her nobility in the neighbourhood. In the year 1583, Albertus de Alasco, a Polish prince Palatine, arrived at Oxford, In the midst of a medley of pithy orations, tedious sermons, degrees, dinners, disputations, philosophy, and fire-works, he was invited to the comedy of the Rivales, and the

* Wood. Athen. Oxon, ubi supr.

y For a minute account of which, see Peck's Desid. Curros. ut supr. p. 25. Num. xv. (MSS. Baker. vol. x. 7037. p. 109. Brit. Muf.] The writer was probably N. Robinson, domestic chaplain to archbilhop Parker, afterwards bishop of Bangor: See Wood, ATHEN. Oxon. i. col. 896. MS. Baker, ut supr. p. 181. And Parker's ANT. BRIT. Eccles. p. 14. MAT:. Vir fuit prudens, &c. edit. 1572-3. z Peck, ut fupr. p. 36. 39. Peck, ibid. p. 36.

Supposed to be the person whom Shakespeare, in the MERCHANT OF VENICE,

called the Count Palatine. Act. i. Sc. i.

• This was in Latin, and written by William Gager, admitted a student of Chrift-Church in 1572. By the way, he is styled by Wood, the best comedian of his time, that is dramatic poet. But he wrote only Latin plays. His Latin Me, LEAGER was acted at Chrift-Church before lord Leicester, fir Philip Sydney, and other diftinguished persons, in 1581. Ath. Oxon. i. p. 366. This Gager had a controversy with doctor John Rainolds, president of Corpus, at Oxford, concerning the lawfulness of plays : which produced from the latter a pamphlet, called The Overe



tragedy of Dodo, which were presented in Christ-Church hall by some of the scholars of that society, and of saint John's college. In the latter play, Dido's supper, and the destruction of Troy, were represented in a marchpane, or rich cake: and the tempest which drove Dido and Eneas to the same cave, was counterfeited by a snow of sugar, a hailstorm of comfits, and a shower of rose-water“. In the year 1605, king James the first gratified his pedantry by a visit to the same university'. He was present at three plays in Christ-Church hall: which he seems to have regarded as childish amusements, in comparison of the more folid delights of scholastic argumentation. Indeed, if we consider this monarch's insatiable thirst of profound erudition, we shall not be surprised to find, that he slept at these theatrical performances, and that he sate four hours every morning and afternoon with infinite fatisfaction, to hear fyllogisms in jurisprudence and theology. The first play, during this solemnity, was a pastoral comedy called ALBA: in which five men, almost naked, appearing on the stage as part of the representation, gave great offence to the queen and the maids of honour: while the king, whose delicacy was not easily shocked at other times, concurred with the ladies, and availing himself of this lucky circumstance, peevishly expressed his wishes to depart, before the piece was half finished'. The second play was VERTUMNUS, which although learnedly penned in Latin, and by a doctor in divinity, could not keep the king awake, who was wearied in consequence of having executed the office of moderator all that day at

THROW OF STAGE-PLAYS, &c. Printed 1599. Gager's letter, in defence of his plays, and of the students who acted in them, is in Bibl. Coll. Univ. MSS. J. 18. It appears by a pamphlet written by one W. Heale, and printed at Oxford in 1609, that Gager held it lawful, in a public A& of the university, for husbands to beat their wives.

d Hollinsh. CHRON. iii. 1355.

e See PREPARATIONS AT OXFORD, &c. APPEND. LELANDI COLL. vol. ii. p. 626. feq. edit. Lond. 1774. [MSS. Baker, ut supr. Brit. Mur.] They were written by one present.

Ibid. p. 637


the disputations in faint Mary's church. The third drama was the Ajax of Sophocles, in Latin, at which the stage was varied three times 5. “ The king was very wearie before “ he came thither, but much more wearied by it, and spoke

many words of dislike'.” But I must not omit, that as the king entered the city from Woodstock, he was saluted at the gate of saint John's college with a short interlude, which probably suggested a hint to Shakespeare to write a tragedy on the subject of Macbeth. Three youths of the college, habited like witches, advancing towards the king, declared they were the same who once met the two chiefs of Scotland, Macbeth and Bancho; prophesying a kingdom to the one, and to the other a generation of monarchs: that they now appeared, a second time,' to his majesty, who was descended from the stock of Bancho, to shew the confirmation of that prediction". Immediately afterwards, “ Three young youths,

in habit and attire like Nymphs, confronted him, representing England, Scotland, and Ireland; and talking dia

logue wise, each to the other, of their state, at last con« cluded, yielding themselves up to his gracious government'.'

[ocr errors]


age, and

& The queen was not present: but next Mary's church, were chiefly conducted by morning, with her ladies, the young prince, one Mr. Jones, a great traveller, who and gallants attending the court, the faw an « undertooke to furnish them with rare deEnglish paftoral, by Daniel, called AR “ vices, but performed very little to that

REFORMED. Ibid. p. 642.* Al “ which was expected.” Ibid. p. 646. though the anecdote is foreign to our pur Notwithstanding these fighting expressions, pose, I cannot help mentioning the reason, it is highly probable that this was Inigo why the queen, during this visit to Oxford, Jones, afterwards the famous architect. He was more pleased to hear the Oration of was now but thirty-three years of the professor of Greek, than the king just returned into England. He was the • The king heard him willingly, and the principal Contriver for the masques at " Queen much more ; because, le fayd, Whitehall.' Gerrard, in STRAFFORDE'S • ihe never had heard Greek.Ibid. 636. LETTERS, describing queen Henrietta's

h Towards the end of the hall, was a popish chapel, says, “ Such a glorious scene scene like a wall, “ painted and adorned is built over the altar! Inigo Jones never " with stately pillars, which pillars would “ presented a more curious piece in any of “ turn about, by reason whereof, with the “ ihe malks at Whitehall. [dat. 163;.) vol. “ help of other painted clothes, their i. pag. 505. “ stage did vary three times in the acting ibid. p. 639. « of one tragedy.” LEL APPEND. ut k Rex PLATOXICUS, five MUS Æ Rece fupr. p. 631. The machinery of these NANTES, Oxon. 1627. 4to. p. 18. plays, and the temporary stages in St. ILEL. APPEND, ut fupr. p. 636. Vol. II. D dd


It would be unnecessary to trace this practice in our universities to later periods. The position advanced is best illustrated by proofs most remote in point of time; which, on that account, are also less obvious, and more curious. I could have added other antient proofs; but I chose to select those which seemed, from concomitant circumstances, most likely to amuse.

Many instances of this practice in schools, or in feminaries of an inferior nature, may be enumerated. I have before mentioned the play of Robin and MARIAN, performed, according to an annual custom, by the school-boys of Angiers in France, in the year 1392". But I do not mean to go abroad for illustrations of this part of our present inquiry. Among the writings of Udal, a celebrated master of Eton, about the year 1540, are recited Plures Comedia, and a tragedy de Papatu, on the papacy: written probably to be acted by his scholars. An extract from one of his comedies


be seen in Wilson's LOGIKE". In the antient CONSUETUDINARY, as it is called, of Eton-School, the following passage occurs. « Circa feftum divi Andreæ, ludimagister eligere folet, pro “ suo arbitrio, SCENICAS FABULAS optimas et accommoda"tiffimas, quas Pueri feriis Natalitiis subsequentibus, non

fine LUDORUM ELÉGANTIA, populo spectante, publice ali

quando peragant. - Interdum etiam exhibet Anglico fer“ mone contextas fabulas, fiquæ habeant acumen et lepom " "

remo." That is, about the feast of faint Andrew, the thirtieth day of November, the mafter is accustomed to chuse, according to his own discretion, such Latin stage-plays as are most excellent and convenient; which the boys are to act in the following Christmas holidays, before a public audience, and with all the elegance of scenery and ornaments

m Supr. i. 245. See more inftances, ibid. n Written in 1553, p. 69.

Supposed to have been drawn up about

the year 1560. But containing all the antient and original customs of the school. MSS. Rawlint, Bibl. Bodl.


« הקודםהמשך »