Page images
PDF
EPUB

the quart bottle was, that, after travelling all the taverns, not one could be found due measure.

PLAGIARISM IN THE

HEIR AT LAW.” Pangloss says to Dick, At lover's perjuries, they say, Jove laughs;” to which, replies Dick, more shame for him.” This is without the slightest variation from Dryden's “ Amphytrion,” act v. where Phædra makes the same reply to Jupiter.

MISS HAWKINS' ACCOUNT OF FOOTE's EXCUR

SION TO STRATFORD-ON-AVON.

Foore, it is well known, went to Stratford purposely to laugh at and caricature Garrick's jubilee; and I never can forget the merriment excited in my mind, by the anecdotes of his manner of doing this. His meeting, early one morning, in the streets of Stratford, an Essex 'Squire full dressed in blue and silver, whose countenance expressed a kind of vagrant curiosity ;-the 'squire's asking him, as if doubting of the worthiness of its object, in the present instance, what all this meant ?-his unfortunate expression, nay, almost lamentation, that “ he had been brought out of Essex," by the report of the jubilee; and Foote's cutting query, with a

stare that may be imagined ;—“ Out of Essex! And pray, sir, who drove you?”

LUDICROUS MISTAKE. HOLMAN, while performing the part of Romeo, was seized with an involuntary fit of laughter, which subjected him to the severe rebuke of his auditors. It happened in the scene of Romeo and the Apothecary, who, going for the phial of poison, found it broken; not to detain the scene, he snatched, in a hurry, a pot of soft pomatum. Holman was no sooner presented with it, than he fell into a convulsive fit of laughter ; but, being soon recalled to a sense of duty, by the audience, he came forward, and made the following whimsical apology :-“ Ladies and gentlemen, I could not resist the idea that struck me, when the pot of pomatum, instead of the phial of poison, was presented. Had he, at the same time, given me a tea-spoon, it would not have been so improper; for the poison might have been made up as a lenitive electuary, But, if you please, ladies and gentlemen, we will begin the scene again without laughing."

VANDERMERE. This performer was the most complete Harle

quin that ever trod the stage.

His agility was, to the last degree, astonishing. He has been seen to leap through a window on the stage, when pursued by the Clown, at the height of full thirteen feet from the ground. Whenever his performance was announced in the Dublin playbills, it attracted a crowded house. One night, when he had a prodigious leap to execute,

the persons behind the scenes, whose business it was to have received him in a blanket, not being duly prepared, he fell, of course, upon the boards, and was miserably bruised. This accident occasioned him to take a solemn oath, that he would never take another leap upon the stage; nor did he violate his vow; for when he played Harlequin afterwards, George Dawson, another actor, about his size, and of considerable activity, was equipped in the party-coloured habit, and, when a leap was necessary, Vandermere passed off on one side of the stage, as Dawson entered at the other, and undertook it. Vandermere then returned, and continued his business.

PRYNNE'S HISTRIOMASTIX. WILLIAM Prynne, the record of whose cruel sentence will for ever live to point out to uni

versal execration the infamous Court of the StarChamber, and every individual of which it was composed, was cited before it, in the year 1633, for the publication of a libellous book, called “ Histriomastix ; or, a Scourge for Stage Players."

In this severe attack on the stage, he had collected a variety of quotations from authors of all ages, sacred and profane; with the assistance of which he proposed to write down plays, masques, dancing, hunting, public festivals, especially the keeping of Christmas, bonfires, maypoles, dressing up houses with ivy, the use of music in general, and especially of church music, new year's gifts, church ceremonies, &c., besides occasional attacks on altars, images, the hair of men and women, bishops, bonfires, and all other games, and even the wearing of perukes. One of the passages which peculiarly excited the court against him, inasmuch as it was alleged to contain a manifest comparison between Nero and his most gracious Majesty, greatly to the disadvantage of the latter, was the following. “ The multitudes of our London play hunters," says he, “ are so augmented, that all the ancient devil's chapels, though five in number, are

not sufficient to contain their troops, when we see a sixth now added to them; whereas, even in vicious Nero's reign, there were but three standing theatres in Pagan Rome, though far more spacious than Christian London.” He adds, " that our English ladies, shorn and frizzled madams, have lost their modesty;"~" that plays are the chief delight of the devil, and they that frequent them are damned ;” and “ that princes dancing in their own persons, was the cause of their untimely ends."

Among the heads in the index of the work was, women actors notorious whores ;' and on this theme the commissioners were inexhaustibly eloquent, applying it to the Queen, who had, a short time before, acted in a pastoral, at Somerset House, although they well knew that Prynne could have had no such object in view, inasmuch as his book was published some time previous to this exhibition, and the passage in the body of the work to which it referred, was quite incapable of any such application.

The sentence passed upon Prynne for the publication of this work was, that his book should be burnt by the common hangman; that he should be excluded from the bar of Lincoln's Inn, de

« PreviousContinue »