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Vortimer, during a successful reign of four years, proved a fatal scourge to the Saxons; till at length the victor was vanquished by his fair mother-in-law, Rowena, who took him off by poison; and then, by the witchcraft of fair word, so enchanted the British nobility, that Vortigern, like old Lear, became a king again.'
Vortigern, his kingdom once more overrun with Saxon locusts, retired into Wales, building there a castle, strong enough to laugh a siege to scorn; which being at length beset by Aurelius Ambrosius, whether by wild-fire, or by fire from Heaven, both Vortigern and his castle, yea, all that were within it, were burnt to ashes."
THE FIVE AUTHORS' COMEDY. CARDINAL Richelieu caused a comedy to be produced, composed by five different persons, each of whom wrote an act. This play was called “ La Comedie de Tuilleries, Par Les Cinques Auteurs.” It was represented before the King, the Queen, and the Court of France, with great magnificence. The actors sat by themselves on a bench. The idea was thought to have originated with Chapelain. He, however, only corrected the piece in several places. The cardinal requested his assistance in the business, promising to give Chapelain his help on a similar occasion.
MASKS IN THE PLAY-HOUSE. It is not very easy to determine the precise period of time when the fashion of females going masked to a play originated in this country. We may be almost certain, that no such practice existed before the Civil wars, for we find no allusions to it in the works of our older dramatic writers, and the same reason induces us to beJieve that it did not come into fashion for some time after the Restoration.
These masqued ladies are, however, referred to in a multitude of passages in the prologues and epilogues to Dryden's, Lee's, and Otway's plays. The custom was, doubtless, imported from France, and, in all probability, about the year 1666 or 1667. The many disturbances which these disguised females (whose characters may be readily understood from the nature of the allusions of which they are the subject,) continually caused in the pit and boxes, at length almost entirely drove the women of character and respectability from the Theatre; and such was the continual scandal arising from it, that the sober and grave part of the town were frequently, by the tumults and disorders to which it gave rise, deprived of the pleasure of witnessing the theatrical entertainments.
Constant uproars and riots, which sometimes reached an alarming height, called loudly for public redress; and, at length, after this nuisance had been endured for nearly forty years, an accidental dispute, concerning one Mrs. Fawkes, which terminated in a duel, produced an entire prohibition (emanating, it is to be conjectured, from the Lord Chamberlain, whose powers, in controlling the Theatres, were, however, not so well defined in those days as at present) of women's wearing masks in play-houses, which took place about the year 1707.
EARLY PUBLICATION OF SIIA KSPEARE's
“ Every writer on Shakspeare,” says Dr. Farmer,“ hath expressed his astonishment, that his author was not solicitous to secure his fame by a correct edition of his performances. This matter is not understood. When a poet was connected with a particular play-house, he constantly sold his works to the company, and it was their interest to keep them from a number of rivals.”. A favourite piece, as Heywood informs
us, only got into print when it was copied by the ear, “ for a double sale would bring on suspicion of honestie."
Shakspeare, therefore, published none of his dramas : when he left the stage, his copies remained with his fellow managers, Heminge and Condell, who, at their own retirement, about seven years after the death of the author, gave the world the edition now known by the name of the first folio; and call the previous publications (of separate plays,)“ stolne and surreptitious, maimed and deformed by the frauds and stealths of injurious impostors.” But this (the folio) was printed from the play-house copies; which, in a series of years, had been frequently altered, through convenience, caprice, or ignorance. We have a sufficient instance of the liberties taken by the actors, in an old pamphlet by Nashe, called " Lenten Stuffe, with the prayse of the red herring, 4to. 1599,” (reprinted in the Harleian Miscellany,) where he assures us, that in a play of his, called “The Isle of Dogs," foure acts, without his consent, or the leaste guesse of his drift or scope, were supplied by the players.”
This, however, was not his first quarrel with them. In the epistle prefixed to Greene's Arcadia, Tom has a lash at some “ vaineglorious tragedians,” and very plainly at Shakspeare in particular, which will serve for an answer to an observation of Pope (founded on a similar remark of Ben Jonson, and for which the latter has been subjected to the most unlimited and scurrilous abuse from the Shakspeare Commentators). “ It was thought,” says Pope, “ a praise to Shakspeare, that he scarce ever blotted a line :I believe, the common opinion of his want of learning proceeded from no better ground. This, too, might be thought a praise by some.”
But hear Nashe, who was far from praising: “ I leave all these to the mercy of their mothertongue, that feed on nought but the crums that fall from the translator's trencher.-That could scarcely latinise their neck verse if they should have neede, yet English Seneca, read by candle light, yields many good sentences; hee will afford you whole Hamlets, I should say, handfulls of tragicall speeches."
LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT.
Soon after Garrick's appearance on the stage of Drury Lane, an elderly woman called at his apartments and desired to speak with him on