Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

the author I know much offended with M Jaggard (that altogether unknowne to him) presumed to make so bold with his name. These, and the like dishonesties, I know you to be cleere of; and I could wish but to be the happy author of so worthy a worke as I could willingly commit to your care and workmanship.” .

Heywood's carelessness regarding his voluminous productions frequently exposed him to these impositions :* one, which he records in a letter prefixed to his w Brazen Age, 1613, is not much to the credit of a schoolmaster at Ham, named Austin, whom Heywood exposes as having insinuated himself, and stolen three books of Ovid's Art of Love, and two books of Ovid's Remedy for Love: these translations Austin afterwards published under his own name, without making the slightest acknowledgment of any kind.

After an address by the author “ to his good friends and fellows, the City Actors," in which he congratulates them on “ the Royal and Princely services in which they now live," seven commendatory copies of verses are inserted, by Webster, author of the Duchess of Malfy, Taylor the Waterpoet, and others : one of the seven is in Greek, and another in Latin. We extract the following lines by Heywood from the edition of Cartwright, because in that of 1612, by some unaccountable blunder of the printer, the first nine are omitted. It cannot fail to remind the reader of a wellknown passage in an author that cannot be too well known.

. 66 The Author to his Booke.
« The World's a Theater, the earth a Stage, .
Which God and Nature doth with Actors fill,
Kings have their entrance in due equipage,
And some their part play well, and others ill.
The best no better are (in this Theater,)
Where every humour's fitted in his kinde.
This a true Subject acts, and that a Traytor,
The first applauded, and the last confin'd,
This plaves an honest man, and that a knave;'
A gentle person this, and he a clown;
One man is ragged, and another brave:
All men have parts, and cach man acts his own.

• In the address to his Rape of Lucrece, (4th edit. 1630,) he laments that he had not been more attentive to the publication of his pieces, some of which had got abroad in so mangled a shape, that he was ashamed of own. ing them. This circumstance will account, in some degree, for the fact, that of the 220 pieces in which he was concerned, only about a tenth part have come down to us, and even some of those are only given to Heywood by probable conjecture. CRIT. Rey. Vol. IV, Sept. 1816.

2 R

She a chast Lady acteth all her life,
A wanton Curtezan another playes ;
This, covets marriage love--that, nuptial strife;
Both in continuall action spend their dayes. .
Some Citizens, some Souldiers, born to adventure,
Shepheards and Sea-men. Then our play's begun
When we are born, and to the world first enter;
And all finde Exits when their parts are done.
If then the world a Theater present,
As by the roundnesse it appears most fit,
Built with star-galleries of high ascent,
In which Jehove doth as spectator sit,
And chief determiner, to applaud the best,
And their indeavours crown with more than merit;
But by their evill actions doomes the rest
To end disgrac't, whilst others praise inherit;

He that denies, then, theaters should be,
He may as well deny a world to me.

Thomas Heywood.The Apology for Actors opens with an attack upon the Puritans.

« Moved by the sundry exclamations of many seditious sectists in this age, who, in the fatness and rankness of a peaceable Commonwealth, grow up like unsavoury tuffts of grass, wch, though outwardly green and fresh to the eye, yet are they both unpleasant and unprofitable, being too sower for food, and too rank for fodder : these men, like the antient Germans, affecting no fashion but their own, would draw other nations to be slovens like themselves; and undertaking to purifie and reform the sacred bodies of the Church and Common-weale, (in the true use of both which they are altogether ignorant,) would but, like artlesse phisitians, for experiment sake, rather minister pils to poison the whole body, than cordials to preserve any or the least part.”

Heywood, in an easy, unaffected style, goes on to apologise for undertaking the task of vindication, and states, that in a dream the tragic muse, Melpomene, appeared to him, “ her haire rudely dishevelled, her chaplet withered, her visage with tears stained, her brow furrowed, her eyes dejected, nay, her whole complexion quite faded and ‘al. tered.” Reflecting upon her degraded state, “the enraged Muse cast up her scornful head, her eye-balls sparkled fire, and a sudden flash of disdain, intermixed with rage, purpled her cheek.” She thus exclaims:

“ Am I Melpomene, the buskend Muse,
That held in awe the tyrants of the world,

And plaid their lives in public Theaters, .
Making them feare to sinne, since fearless I
Prepare to write their lives in Crimson Inke,
And act their shames in eye of all the world?
Have not I whipt Vice with a scourge of steele,
Unmaskt sterne Murther, sham'd lascivious Last,
Pluck'd off the visar from grimme Treasons face,
And made the Sun point at their ugly sinns?
Hath not this powerfull hand tam'd fiery Rage,
Kild poisonous Envy with her own keen darts,
Choak’t up the Covetous mouth with moulten gold,
Burst the vast womb of eating Gluttony,
And drownd the Drunkards gall in juice of grapes ?
I have shew'd pride his picture on a stage,
Laid ope the ugly shapes his steel-glasse hide,
And made him passe thence meekly: In those daies
When Emperours with their presence grac't my Scenes,
And thought none worthy to prescnt themselves
Save Emperours, to delight Embassadours.

Then did this garland flourish; then my Robe " Was of the deepest Crimson, the best die."

Waking from his dream, the author reflects upon the many ancient tragic and comic poets still living in their works, and upon the antiquity of acting comedies, tragedies, and histories, which he proceeds to exemplify with much learning; noticing the historical plays of Edward III. and Henry V. as calculated “ to new mould the hearts of the spectators, and fashion them to the shape of any noble. and notable attempt;" adding a translation from Ovid, to shew that Romulus first brought plays into Italy. He incidentally speaks in high terms of the London theatres, compared with those of the provincial towns; and in the conclusion of his first part, he gives a parting blow to his antagonists.

« To proceed, and to look into those men that profess themselves adversaries to this quality, they are none of the gravest and most ancient Doctors of the Academy, but onely a sort of find-faults, such as interest their prodigal tongues in all mens affairs without respect. These I have heard as liberally, in their superficial censures, tax the exercises performed in their Colledges, as these acted on our publick Stages; not looking into the true and direct use of either, but ambitiously preferring their own presumptuous humours, before the profound and authentical judgements of all the learned Doctors of the University. Thus you see that, touching the antiquity of Actors and Acting, they have not been new, lately begot by any upstart invention; 'but I have derived them froin the first

Olimpiads, and I shall continue the use of them even till this present age. And so much touching their antiquity.”

The second book, as the title specifies, treats of the an. cient dignity of actors; and having stated the etymology of tragedy, he quotes from Horace, Ovid, &c. various passages in honour of the art : he then notes the homage paid to dramatic poetry in the old world, by the erection of stately theatres by the wisest princes, and the encouragement given abroad, at the time he wrote, to theatrical representations, and particularly to English actors-companies of whoin, he asserts, were maintained by the King of Denmark, on the recommendation of the Earl of Leicester, and by the Duke of Brunswick and the Landgrave of Hesse. He enforces the tribute of Cicero to Roscius, and from thence takes occasion to mention the actors in England that had been highly esteemed: his words are these, and we transcribe them from Cartwright's edition, in which is inserted a long passage regarding Edward Alleyn, the founder of Dulwich College, omitted in that of 1612.

“ To omit all the Doctors, Zanyes, Pantaloones, Harlakeens, in which the French, but especially the Italians, have been excellent, and, according to the occasion offered, to do some right to our Eng. lish Actors, as Knell, Bentley, Mills, Wilson, Cross, Lanam, and others: these, since I never saw them, as being before my time, I cannot (as an eye-witness of their desert) give them that applause which, no doubt, they worthily merit; yet, by the report of many judicial auditors, their performance of many parts have been so ab solute, that it were a kind of sin to drown their worths in Lethe, & not commit their (almost forgotten) names to eternity. Here I must needs remember Tarlton, in his time gracious with the Queen, his Soveraigne, and in the peoples general applause; whom succeded William Kemp, as well in the favour of her Majesty, as in the opinion and good thoughts of the general audience. Gabriel, Singer, Pope, Phillips, Sly, all the right I can do them, is but this, that though they be dead, their deserts yet live in the remembrance of many. Among so many dead let me not forget one yet alive in his time, the most worthy famous Mr. Edward Allen, who in his lite time erected a Colledge at Dulledge for poor people, and for education of youth. When this Colledge was finisht, this famous man was so equally mingled with humility and charity, that he be came his own Pensioner; humbly submitting himself to that pro. portion of diet and cloathes which he had bestowed on others; and afterwards were interred in the same Colledge. To omit these, as also such as for divers imperfections may be thought insufficient for the quality; Actors should be men pick'd out personable, accord. ing to the parts they present; they should be rather schollers, that though they cannot speak well, know how to speak, or else to have that volubility, that they can speak well, though they understand not what, and so both imperfections may by instructions be helped and amended : But where a good tongue and a good conceit both fail, there can never be good Actor. I also could wish, that such as are condemned for their licentiousness, might, by a general con sent, be quite excluded our society: For as we are men that stand in the broad eye of the world, so should our manners, gestures, & behaviours, savour of such government & modesty, to deserve the good thoughts & reports of all men, & to abide the sharpest censures even of those that are the greatest opposites to the quality. Many amongst us, I koow to be of substance, of government, of sober lives & temperate carriages, house-keepers, & contributary to all duties enjoyned them, equally with them that are ranked with the most bountifull; and if amongst so many of sort, there be any few degenerate from the rest in that good demeanour, which is both requisite & expected at their hands, let me intreate you not to censure hardly of all for the misdeeds of some, but rather to excuse us, as Ovid doth the generality of women. · Parcite paucarum diffundere crimen in omnes,

Spectetur meritis quæque puella suis.” These remarks upon the conduct and character of actors are very just and creditable to Heywood, who is admitted always to have set an example to his companions of regularity and sobriety; indeed, had he not done so, how could he have written half he is admitted to have composed ? It is in this part that Thomas Kyd is pointed out distinctly as the author of the Spanish Tragedy, a question for some time in dispute. '

The third book, or treatise, “ Or the Actors, and the true use of their quality,” opens with a disquisition on the nature of tragedy and comedy; and goes on to refute, with logical skill, the arguments of those who deny their utility. Having pointed out various other advantages, the author thus enforces the improvement of the English language by theatrical representations.

“ Our English tongue, which hath been the most harsh, uneven, and broken language of the world, part Dutch, part Irish, Saxon, Scotch, Welch, and indeed a gallimaffry of many, but perfect in none, is now, by this secondary means of playing, continually refined, every writer striving in himself to add a new flourish unto it; so that in process, from the most rude and unpolisht tongue, it is grown to a most perfect & composed language, and many excellent works, and elaborate Poems, writ in the same; that many Nations grow inamoured of our topgue, before despised. Neither Sapbick, Iouick,

« ElőzőTovább »