תמונות בעמוד

liam Brown, a student of that society, about the year 1620" From this piece, as a specimen of the temple-masques in this view, I make no apology for my anticipation in transcribing the following ode, which Circe sings as a charm to drive away sleep from Ulysses, who is discovered reposing under a large tree. It is addressed to Sleep.

Sonne of Erebus and Nighte!
Hye away, and aime thy flighte,
Where consorte none other fowle
Than the batte and sullen owle:
Where, upon the lymber gras,
Poppy and mandragoras,
With like fimples not a fewe,
Hange for ever droppes of dewe:
Where flowes Lethe, without coyle,
Softly like a streame of oyle.
Hye thee thither, gentle Sleepe!
With this Greeke no longer keepe.

of English poets, there was a correspondence between fir Fulke Greville and Da. niel the poet, concerning improvements and reformations proposed to be made in these court-interludes. But this subject will be more fully examined, and further pursúed, in its proper place.

After the Restoration, when the dignity of the old monarchical manners had suffered a long eclipse from a Calvinistic usurpation, à feeble effort was made to revive these liberal and elegant amusements at Whitehall. For about the year 1675, queen Catharinę ordered Crowne to write a Pastoral called CALISTO, which was acted at court by the ladies Mary and Anne daughters of the duke of York, and the young nobility. About the same time lady Anne, afterwards queen, plaid the part of Semandra, in Lee's MITHRIDATES. The young noblemen were instructed by Betterton, and the princesses by his wife ; who perhaps conceived Shakespeare more fully

than any female that ever appeared on the stage. In remembrance of her theatrical instructions, Anne, when queen, assigned Mrs. Betterton an annual pension of one hundred pounds. Langb. Dram. P. p. 92,

edit. 1691. Cibber's APOL. p. 134. This was an early practice in France. In 1549, Margaret de Valois, queen of Navarre, wrote Moralities, which the called PASTORALS, to be acted by the ladies of her court.

• Printed from a manuscript in Emanuelcollege at Cambridge, by Tho. Davies. Works of W. Browne, Lond. 1772. vol. iii. p. 12!.

In the dedication to the Society the author says, “ If it degenerate in “ kinde from those other the society hath “ produced, blame yourselves for not keep"ing a happier muse." Wood fays that “ Browne " retiring to the inner temple, " became famed there for his poetry.ATH. Oxon. I. p. 492.

Thrice I charge thee by my wand,
Thrice with moly from my

Doe I touch Ulysses' eyes,
And with th' iaspis. Then arise
Sageft Greeke!

In praise of this song it will be sufficient to say, that it reminds us of some favorite touches in Milton's Comus, to which it perhaps gave birth. Indeed one cannot help observing here in general, although the observation more properly belongs to another place, that a mafque thus recently exhibited on the story of Circe, which there is reason to think had acquired some popularity, suggested to Milton the hint of a masque on the story of Comus. It would be superfluous to point out minutely the absolute fimilarity of the two characters: they both deal in incantations conducted by the same mode of operation, and producing effects exactly parallel.

From this practice of performing interludes in the inns of court, we may explain a passage in Shakespeare: but the present establishment of the context embarrasses that explanation, as it perplexes the sentence in other respects. In the SECOND PART OF HENRY THE FOURTH, Shallow is boasting to his cousin Silence of his heroic exploits when he studied the law at Clement's-inn. “ I was once of Clement's « inn, where I think they will talk of mad Shallow yet. Sil. You were called lusty: Shallow then,, cousin. Shul. I “ was called any thing, and I would have done any thing, « indeed too, and roundly too. There was I, and little

John Doit of Staffordshire, &c. You had not four “ such swinge-bucklers in the inns of court again. We " knew where all the Bona Roba's were, &c.-Oh, the mad

days that I have spent'!” Falstaffe then enters, and is recognised by Shallow, as his brother-student at Clement's

Pag. 135

d Act ii, Sc. ini. Fff 2

« inn;

inn; on which, he takes occasion to resume the topic of his juvenile frolics exhibited in London fifty years ago.

" She's “ old, and had Robin Night work, before I came to Cle“ ment's inn.-Ha, cousin Silence, that thou hadst That that “ this knight and I have seen! Hah, Sir John, &c.” Falstaffe’s recruits are next brought forward to be inrolled. One of them is ordered to handle his arms: when Shallow fays, ftill dwelling on the old favorite theme of Clement's inn, “ He is not his craft-master, he doth not do it right. I “ remember at Mile-End Green, when I lay at Clement's-inn, " I was then Sir Dagonet in Arthur's Show, there was a sc. little quiver fellow, and he would manage you his piece * thus, &c.” Does he mean, that he acted sir Dagonet at Mile-end Green, or at Clement's-inn? By the application of a parenthesis only, the passage will be cleared from ambiguity, and the sense I would assign will appear to be just..“ I re“ member at Mile-end Green, (when I lay at Clement's-inn,

I was then Sir Dagonet in Arthur's Show,) there was a « little quiver fellow, &c.” That is, “ I remember, when " I was a very young man at Clement's-inn, and not fit to “ act any higher part than Sir Dagonet in the interludes “ which we used to play in the society, that among the soldiers *<". who were exercised in-Mile-end Green, there was one remark'« able fellow, &c.The performance of this part of Sir Dagónet was another of Shallow's feats at Clement's-inn, on which he delights to expatiate: a circumstance, in the mean time, quite foreign to the purpose of what he is saying, but introduced, on that account, to heighten the ridicule of his character. Just as he had told Silence, a little before, that he saw Schoggan's head broke by Falstaffe at the court-gate,

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

" and the very same day, I did fight with one Sampson Stock« fish, a fruiterer, behind Gray's-inn." Not to mention the satire implied in making Shallow act Sir Dagonet, who was King Arthur's Fool. Arthur's Show, here supposed to have been presented at Clement's-inn, was probably an interlude, or masque, which actually existed, and was very, popular, in Shakespeare's age: and seems to have been compiled from Mallory's MORTE ARTHUR, or the history of king Arthur, then recently published, and the favorite and most fashionable romance'.

When the societies of the law performed these shews within their own respective refectories, at Christmas, or any other festival, a Christmas-prince, or revel-master, was constantly appointed. At a Christmas celebrated in the hall of the Middle-temple, in the year 1635, the jurisdiction, privileges, and parade, 'of this mock-monarch, are thus circumstantially described'. He was attended by his lord keeper, lord treasurer, with eight white staves, a captain of his band of pensioners and of his guard; and with two chaplains, who were so seriously impressed with an idea of his regal dignity, that when they preached before him on the preceding Sunday in the Temple church, on ascending the pulpit, they faluted him with three low bows. He dined, both in the hall, and in his privy-chamber, under a cloth of estate. The pole-axes for his gentlemen pensioners were borrowed of lord Salisbury. Lord Holland, his temporary Justice in Eyre, supplied him with venison, on demand: and the lord mayor and fheriffs of London, with wine. On twelfth-day, at going to church, he received many petitions,

+ That Mile-end green was the place for public sports and exercises, we learn from Eroiffart. In the affair of Tyler and Straw he says, “ Then the kynge sende to them " that they shulde all drawe to a fayre “playne place, called Myle-end, where the “ people of the cytie did sport themselves

« in the fomer season.” &c. Berner's TRANSL. tom. i. c. 383. f. 262. a.

& See also Dugd. Orig. Jurid. p.151. where many of the circumstances of this of ficer are described at large : who also mentions, at Lincoln's-inn, a KING OF THE Cockneys on childermas-day, cap. 64. p. 247

[ocr errors]

which he gave to his master of requests: And, like other kings, he had a favorite, whom, with others, gentlemen of high quality, he knighted at returning from church. His expences, all from his own purse, amounted to two thousand pounds. We are also told, that in the year 1635, “ On Shrovetide at night, the lady Hatton feasted the king,

queen, and princes, at her house in Holborn. The Wednesday before, the Prince of the Temple invited the

prince Elector and his brother to a Masque at the Temple', “ which was very compleatly fitted for the variety of the “ scenes, and excellently well performed. Thither came the " queen with three of her ladies disguised, all clad in the " attire of citizens. This done, the Prince was deposed, « but since the king knighted him at Whitehall k.

But these spectacles and entertainments in our law-societies, not so much because they were romantic and ridiculous in their mode of exhibition, as that they were institutions celebrated for the purposes of merriment and festivity, were suppressed or suspended under the false and illiberal ideas of reformation and religion, which prevailed in the fanatical court of Cromwell. The countenance afforded by a polite court to such entertainments, became the leading topic of animadversion and abuse in the miserable declamations of the puritan theologists; who attempted the business of national reformation without any knowledge of the nature of society, and whose censures proceeded not so much from principles of a purer morality, as from a narrowness of mind, and from that ignorance of human affairs which necessarily accompanies the operations of enthusiasm.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« הקודםהמשך »