« PreviousContinue »
addressed a lampoon to the other in the form of a cocozzo or gourd, which is their national emblem of stupidity: to this the antagonist replied by verses shaped like a certain vase de nuit; and this again was met by a poem shaped like a what we cannot name. It sometimes required a little force of imagination to trace any resemblance between the outline of the verses and the objects meant to be typified ; but, generally speaking, the name of the object was introduced somewhere in the lines, and thus did the same duty as the old sign-painters' inscriptions, " This is meant for a horse—this is an eagle," &c. &c.; and so saving a good deal of trouble in the way of conjecture.
Now and then a man of real genius would put on these
ridiculous shackles, and write good poetry in spite of them.
The two following old French specimens are very cur iou
and spirited. The first of them, or the bottle, may be
even called a fine bacchanalian poem. We believe they
were both written by Panard, about the year 1640.
f 1 a c o n
me semble bon!
Sans l ui
F e n n u i
j e sens
p e s a n t s.
Quand je le tiens.
Dieux ! que je suis bien!
que son aspect est agreable!
queje fais cas deses divins pr&ens!
C'est de son sein fecond, c'est de ses heureux (lanes
que coule ce nectar si doux, si delectable,
qui rend tous les esprits, tous les crews' satisfaits I
Cher objet de mes voeux, tu fais toute ma gloire.
Tant que mon coeurvivra, de tes charmants bienfaits
il saura conserver la fidele memoire.
Nous ne pouvons rien trouver sur la terre
qui soit si bon, ni si beau que le verre.
Du tendre amour berceau charmant,
c'est toi champêtre fougère,
c'est toi qui sers à faire
ou souvent pétille,
mousse, et brille
le jus qui rend
il porte au cœur!
Qu'on m'en donne
vite et comme il faut
qu'on m'en donne
vite et comme il faut.
L'on y voit sur ses flots chéris
nager l'allégresse et les ris.
Mr. D'Israeli has given a specimen of the echo poems, which are also mentioned by Sam Butler as among the performances of Benlowes, and which were once very fashionable. The witty object of these compositions was, that each line should so end that the last syllables, on being repeated, as if by an echo, should convey a separate and pointed meaning. At times, this fancied repetition had something of the nature of the Irishman's echo, which not merely repeated his sentences, but varied them to make more fun, and even answered them; for when he said, " How . . . do . . . you ... do ?" his echo replied," Pretty .... well . ... I ... . thank . .
Mummers from Strut*..
mumming, or dumb show,— a favourite entertainment of the middle ages.
In the next reign, there is an entry in the wardrobe accounts, for " 21 linen coifs, to represent men of the law with in the King's plays," at Christmas, in the twelfth year of his (Richard the Second's) reign, A.d. 1389. Imagine a play with twenty-one lawyers in it! But, "enius of Ducrow! what is the next piece of information respecting dramatic pageantry which the annals of the English stage afford us? A chronicle in the Cotton Collection * gives a description of a performance at Windsor, before the Emperor Sigismond and King Henry the Fifth, during the visit of the former to England in 1416, founded on no less a subject than " St. George and the Dragon!" In the first part was exhibited the " armyng of St. George, an angel doing on his spurs;" in the second, St. George riding and fighting with the dragon, with his spear in his hand ; and in the
* Caligula, B. ii.
third, St. George and the King's daughter leading the lamb in at the castle-gates. It is a question, we humbly conceive, whether " his Majesty's servants," in the year 1416, were not more splendidly and correctly attired than " his Majesty's servants'' in the year 1836. As far as the chivalric appointments went, indeed, it does not admit of a doubt; for nothing can be less like armour than the "leather conveniences" into which theatrical tailors stuff our modern representatives of the " mirrors of knighthood."
The valuable laboursof Mr. Wharton, in his " History of English Poetry," and of Mr. Payne Collier, in his "Annals of the Stage," * have brought to light many curious notices of the expenses attending the getting up of pageants and dramatic shows during the reigns of Henry the Sixth, Edward the Fourth, Richard the Third, and Henry the Seventh ; and the Chronicles of Hall and Holinshed are replete with descriptions of the gorgeous masqueradings of our eighth Harry and his splendid court. Grotesque effect, or mere magnificence, appear, however, to have been the principal objects in such exhibitions, which were little more than the disguisings and mummings we have before mentioned; but a roll in the Chapter-house at Westminster, examined by Mr. Collier, contains some particulars respecting the interludes performed at Richmond during the Christmas holidays, A.d. 1514-15. In one, called "The Triumph of Love and Beauty," written and acted by Master William Cornyshe,and others of theKing's Chapel, and the children of the Chapel, " Venus and Bewte dyd tryumph over al ther enemys, and tamed a salvadge man and a lyon, that was made very rare and naturall ; and moreover Venus dyd synge a song with Bewte, which was lykyd of al that harde yt, every staffe endyng after this sorte:
"' Bowe you downe, and doo your deutye,
* 3 vols, small 8vo. London, 1831.
The costume of the fair performers in this interlude is dimly shadowed forth by the items in an account discovered with this paper. Venus, it appears, was arrayed in a surcoat and mantle of yellow sarcenet, adorned with hearts and wings of silver; and a piece of cypress silk, valued at 4?., was " spent and employed for the tyer (attire) of the lady called Bewte, and the other half for the lady called Venus." * A taste more fanciful than classical seems, therefore, to have prevailed at this period; and the antiquary alone would understand, or be interested in, the long dry list of" Garments for Players," quoted also by Mr. Collier, f and dated the 7th of Henry the Eighth. They appear to have been principally intended for miracle-plays, and were composed of the richest stuffs, cloths of gold and silver, crimson and blue velvets and satins, &c.; and the list terminates with "Item, cappes of divers fassions for players, and of divers colours, xviii. of sattin and sarcenet, olde peces. Item, certain peces of garments in a coofer (coffer), with borders of embroidery, being loose to some, to alter garments from tyme to tyme, as shal be thought convenient."
In the thirteenth year of the same reign (1522), the Lord of Misrule paid, amongst other charges, for disguisings, &c. at Christmas, %
"To a man at Datchet, for playing the Fryer before the Princesse (Mary) 8d.
"Item. For making a payre of sloppys for Jakes when he played the Shipman ; and a blewe garment made lyke harness (armour) for the same Jakys, and another garment for Master Renyngton, 12d, The said Master Jakes, or Jack, or whatever his name might be, was therefore dressed in the loose breeches, called slops, worn at this period by sailors ; but whether the shipman he represented was supposed to be of his own time, or of
* Annals of the Stage, vol. i. p. 65-6. t Ibid. vol. i. p. 80. X Household Expenses of the Princess Mary, Chapterhouse, Westminster. Collier's Annals, vol. i. p. 9.