« PreviousContinue »
These Notes have been designed to include whatever appeared of value in the notes and preceding editions of Poetaster. Where the exact words of other editors have seemed important for present purposes, they have been given; facts and suggestions originating elsewhere and referred to or developed here have uniformly been acknowledged. Notes signed W. are from Whalley, G., from Gifford, N., from Nicholson; statements credited to Cunningham are to be found in the Gifford-Cunningham edition of 1875, at the ends of the various volumes. Many expressions requiring elucidation have been dealt with in the Glossary, which should therefore be used in connection with the Notes. Abbreviated titles of books can be understood by reference to the Bibliography.
References to Poetaster are by act, scene, and line of the present text; other plays of Jonson are cited from the Gifford-Cunningham edition of 1875. References for Satiromastix are to pages in Vol. I of Dekker's Dramatic Works, published by Pearson, 1873; where not otherwise specified, references in Shakespeare are to the Globe edition.
POËTASTER. Thus in quarto 1602 and in the folios. Gifford and Nicholson use the incorrect title THE POETASTER.
Specifically, the name Poetaster is applied by Jonson in this play exclusively to Crispinus, who represents the satirist and dramatist John Marston. It should be noted that although he ridicules Crispinus for gallantry, affectation, poverty, and envy, Jonson delivers his most elaborate attack upon his rival's uncouth vocabulary: see act 5, scene 3, in particular.
Cf. C. Revels 2. I.: 'She is like one of your ignorant poetasters of the time, who, when they have got acquainted with a strange word, never rest till they have wrung it in, though it loosen the whole fabric of their sense.'
By the then Children of Queene Elizabeths Chappell. Quarto 1602 has 'by the children of her Maiesties Chappell. In January 1603-4, however, the Chapel Children were taken under the Queen's protection and became known as the 'Children of the Queen's Revels' (cf. W. C. Hazlitt, English Drama and Stage, 1869, p. 40); the 1616 folio therefore implies the change of name in company and sovereign.
Licensed boy actors, gathered chiefly from the choristers of St. Paul's Cathedral and from the Chapel Royal and Westminster school, are heard of from 1587 on. In 1597 a regular children's company was established at the Blackfriars Theatre, and their performances soon became more popular than those of the adult companies. As appears from Hamlet 2. 2. 349-364, the regular men's companies had to tour the country in order to avoid serious losses.
The Children of the Chapel were originally eight in number, with a Master of Song to teach them (see the Old Cheque-Book of the Chapel Royal, Camden Soc. 1872, iii-iv). They were boarded and lodged in the royal palace, and were allowed food and drink, and one servant. At the age of eighteen, if not preferred in the Chapel service, they might be sent to college at the king's charge. Instances of the practise of pressing men and boys into the service of the chapel choir are recorded as early as the reign of Richard III (ibid. p. vii.). Hazlitt (Eng. Dram. and Stage 33-4) prints a warrant of Queen Elizabeth to Thomas Gyles, master of the Children of Paul's, authorizing him to take up and train boys to be performers in the Revels at Court, April 26, 1585. Fleay (Stage 14 ff.) records the performance of a play by the Paul's Children Aug. 7, 1559, and of one by the Children of the Chapel at Christmas 1563-4. The right of the master of the Chapel Children to take up boys with good voices found in the choirs of cathedrals, and of collegiate and parish churches, and train them for singing and acting at Court, frequently led to abuses. In December 1600 a flagrant case was made public. Thomas Clifton, aged 13, son of a Suffolk gentleman, was kidnapped on his way to school in London by the emissaries of Nathaniel Gyles above-mentioned, and delivered over to the Blackfriars Company to be made a player. The boy had noe manner of sighte in songe, nor skill in musique'; and when the father vainly demanded the release of his son, no pretense was made of intention to train the latter as a chorister. Through some acquaintance in the Privy Council, Clifton secured the boy's freedom, and then formally complained to her majesty. The father's bill of complaint (printed by Jas. Greenstreet in the Athenaeum, Aug. 10, 1889, vol. 2. 203-4) is interesting for its mention of names of other children taken against the will of themselves and their parents or guardians. Among these names is that of 'Nathan field, a scholler of a grammer schole in London, kepte by one Mr. Monkaster; ... Salmon Pavey, apprentice to one Peerce; being children noe way able or fitt for singing, nor by anie the sayd confederates endevoured to be taught to singe, but by them the sayd confederates abusively employed, as aforesayd, only in playes & enterludes.' This information is of especial interest to us, because
the lists of principal comedians for Cynthia's Revels and Poetaster contain the names Field and Pavey. The former grew to be famous as actor and dramatist; but the latter died soon after his appearance in Poetaster, at the age of thirteen. 'He was celebrated as a personator of old men,' remarks Greenstreet.
Et mihi de nullo fama rubore placet. From Martial, Epigr. 7. 12. 4. This may be paraphrased: 'No reputation gained at the cost of another's blush is pleasing to me.'
VVilliam Stansby. The following entry appears in Arber's Transcript of the Stationers' Registers, 1554-1640, 2. 173:
12 Januarij (1591) master windet william Stansby son of Richard Stansby of Exon
(Exeter) cutler hath put him self Apprentice to John wyndet citizen and Stacioner of London for vij yeres begynnynge at Christmas Anno XXXI Jdo Regin [a]e Elizabeth [ae] .
ijs vid William Stansby was admitted to the Stationers' Company 7 Jan. 1597 (2. 717), and printed and published 1597–1639. Matthew Lownes. Again from the Stationers' Register (2. 115):
Vto Die Novembris (1582] Nicholas Linge Mathewe Lownes sonne of Hughe lownes of the
parishe of Astburie in the countie of Chester fletcher. Hathe putt him self apprentes to nicholas Linge Staconer for Tenne yeres from the feast of Sainct Michaell th[e] archangell Last
paste (29 September 1582] .. ijs vja Matthew Lownes was admitted to the Stationers' Company il Oct. 1591, and published from 1595 to 1627. (2. 710.)
Mr. Richard Martin. This Dedication did not appear in quarto 1602. Martin flourished 1570-1618.
Gifford notes: 'It appears from the Apologetical Dialogue subjoined to this Drama, that Jonson was accused of having reflected in it, on the professions of law, and arms. By one of these he was probably threatened with a prosecution either in the Star-chamber, or the King's Bench, from which the friendly offices of Mr. Martin with the Lord Chief Justice seem to have delivered him. So, at least, I understand the passage.'
The following note is supplied by Anthony Wood (Athenae Oxonienses, ed. Bliss, 1815, 2. 250-1): 'R. M., son of Will. Martin (by Anne his wife, daughter of Rich. Parker of Sussex,) was born at Otterton in Devonshire, became a commoner of Broadgate's hall (now Pembroke coll.) in Michaelmas term 1585, aged 15,
.. where by natural parts, and some industry, he proved in short time a noted disputant. But he leaving the said house before he was honoured with a degree, went to the M. Temple, where, after
he had continued in the state of inner barrister for some years, [he] was elected a burgess to serve in parl. 1601 There was no person in his time more celebrated for ingenuity than R. Martin, none more admired by Selden, serjeant Hoskins, Ben. Johnson, &c. than he; the last of which dedicated his comedy to him called The P! Wood also says that he has seen copies of Martin's speeches in Parliament (he was elected for Barnstaple in 1601; and sat for Christchurch, 1604-1611); also of an oration delivered in the name of the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex, on the accession of James I. (Cf. Nichols’ Progresses of Jas. I. I. 113.) Martin died Oct. 31, 1618.
'He was a very handsome man, a gracefull speaker, facetious, and well-beloved. I thinke [sic] he died of a merry symposiaque. He was recorder (of London] but a moneth before his death.' Thus John Aubrey, Brief Lives, ed. A. Clark, 1898, 2. 47.
One of Martin's intimate friends was Sir James Whitelocke, a judge of the court of King's Bench under James I. and Charles I. See his Liber Famelicus, ed. Bruce, 1858, passim. Of the manner of Martin's death Sir James says that Martin found after his election as recorder of London that he was expected to pay £1500 toward compensating a knight who had vacated another office to allow of several advancements, among them Martin's. 'This money,' Whitelocke tells us (p. 63), 'was layd downe by sir Lyonell Cranfeild (cf. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1611-1618, p. 595) for mr. Martin, but it lay so heavye at mr. Martin's hart after he knewe of it, that he fell ill and heavye upon it, and toke his chamber and never came forthe untill he was caryed to buryall.' This accounting for Martin's death is doubtless more trustworthy than Aubrey's.
The 1611 edition of Coryat's Crudities (repr. L. 1776, vol. 2) contains by way of preface a letter to Sir Henry Wotton, signed Richard Martin,' and dated ‘Middle Temple, May 1, 1608.' Wotton was at that time English ambassador at Venice, and the letter recommends to him the 'bearer Mr. Thomas Coryat, of Odcombe, in Somersetshire,' who is about to visit Venice. Though this letter has a general tone of humourous over-praising of its destined bearer, it is another testimonial to Martin's kindliness. Cf. also Collier, Bibliog. Acct., 1866, 1. 234; and John Davies of Hereford, Scourge of Folly, epigram 96.
The Persons of the Play. Note the omission in this list of Luscus, Tibullus, and Aesop.
After .. sounding. In the Elizabethan theatre the performance was announced by flourishes of trumpets, the prologue usually entering after the third sounding. The scenes of each act went on without interruption, but between the acts music was fur
nished by trumpets, fiddles, viols, recorders, etc. Malone (Shakesp. 1. 2. 93-96) thinks that until after the Restoration the orchestra sat in an upper balcony. After the third sounding the play began. There was no front curtain (cf. W. J. Lawrence, in Englische Studien, 32 pp. 36-51).
Envie. In his discussion of Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, Small (Stage-Quarrel, 142) remarks: “I have said my prayers, and devil Envy say amen” (ii. 3, 22) seems an allusion to Jonson's employment of Envy as prologue to the Poetaster, about June 1601.'
Fleay (Chr. 2. 189) says this expression in Troilus and Cressida refers to the end of Lodge's Mucedorus, but not necessarily to the later version.' It is, however, only in the 'later version' (ed. 1610) that Envy says 'Amen!' (Hazlitt's Dodsley 7. 259 note.) In the Induction, ed. 1598, there is the stage direction : 'Enter ENVY, his arms naked, besmeared with blood,' (ibid. 203). On the same page, Envy is described as a hag. Jonson's monster may easily have been suggested by Mucedorus. Cowley seems to have had Poetaster or its source in mind when picturing Envy in Davideis, bk. 1.
It should be remembered that in general envy in Jonson's time meant primarily hatred, malice, rather than envy in the modern sense. Arising
stage. Stage mechanism was not elaborate in 1601, but there seems to have been a trap-door, together with apparatus for raising and lowering persons or properties. In Catiline 1. 1, we find: 'The Ghost of Sylla rises,' and at the close of its speech, 'Sinks.' Cf. R. Greene, Alphonsus, King of Arragon 1: ‘After you haue sounded thrise, let Venus be let downe from the top of the Stage, and when she is downe, say:' etc.
E. 1. Light, I salute thee. “There is no reason to suppose Satan's address to the sun in the Paradise Lost (4. 32 ff.] more than a mere coincidence with these lines; but were it otherwise, it would be a fine instance what usurious interest a great genius pays in borrowing.' Thus Coleridge, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, 1874, p. 266. In Men, Women, and Books (1847, 2. 12–3), Leigh Hunt over-praises this passage in Poetaster.
E. 3. What's here? Th’Arraignment? The name of the play to be presented used to be painted upon a board and placed in some prominent position upon the stage. In order that there might be full and general information, however, the prologue usually referred to the title in his speech to the audience. In this case, Envy discovers and reads the sign, which must have borne not Poetaster, but THE ARRAIGNMENT. Cf. Tucca's exclamation, 5. 3. 187–9: 'Body of JUPITER! What? will they arraigne my briske POETASTER, and his poore iourney-man, ha?' Also 5. 3. 220 ff.