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Judg. Thou hast well said, thou shalt haue a full fair and a free hearing."
Morton. The English bishops and the Romish pope are here considered much upon a par: Hall was a furious mar-prelate, I have no doubt. Does the unhappy prisoner obtain a full, fair, and free hearing?
Bouene. You may judge from this fact, that the judge acts as the crown advocate, and the jury are both jurymen and witnesses: but we have not arrived at the end of the ridiculousness of this mock trial. Holy-Scriptures is the first called to come into court.
"Holy-Scriptures. My Lord, I cannot get in.
Judg. Who keeps you out.
Holy-Scriptures. My Lord here is a company of ignorant, rude, prophane, superstitions, Atheistical persons that will not suffer me to come in.
Judg. Oyer, knock down those prophane persons and make room for Holy-Scriptures to come in."
Elliot. He is as summary as Jack Cade with the soldier, who omitted to call him Lord Mortimer; "Knock him down there!"
Bourne. After the evidence of this juryman is received, a little flattery of the newly restored Charles II. is inserted, for the prisoner declares, " My Lord, I and my retinew are uery much deceived in this Charls the Second; we all conceited that he was for us: my Drunkards cryed, a Health to the King: the Swearers swore a Health to the King so long till they swore themselves out of health. The Papist, the Atheist, the Roarer and the Ranter, they all concluded that now their day was come, but alass how are we deceived!"
Morton. Or rather how were the puritans deceived in their hopes of Charles.
Bourne. To proceed with the trial: the ordinance of parliament of 1644 for keeping holy the Lord's day, the Solemn League and Covenant, an order from the Council of State, and Ovid, (with a passage from his Fasti, lib. 5,) with some others, compose the rest of the jury, who find the prisoner guilty; and then follows " the aweful sentence of the law," as it is called, which is, perpetual banishment. Such is the result of the " full, fair, and free hearing" poor Flora obtains. This is really all that is worth reading in the tract.
Elliot. Then we need not detain ourselves further with it.
Bourne. If so, we have advanced as far as Dr. Rainoldes's " Overthrow of Stage-Plays," 1599.
Morton. That is one of the most notorious works upon the subject, and I suppose one of the least scarce, as there was a second edition of it in 1629, which is not unfrequently met with at book sales.
Bourne. It is, and while it is one of the longest, most learned, and most laboured, it contains even less information than others regarding the state of the stage; in fact, although the question is handled generally in some places, the principal object of the author was to abolish the then prevailing custom of representing what were called University Plays, performed by students, and written in Latin.
Elliot. I should have imagined that the severest puritan, and the most prejudiced opponent of theatrical performances, would not have carried his antipathy quite so far. I thought that they were on all hands allowed.
Bourne. They are by some, but not by all, and among the last, Dr. Rainoldes, or Reynolds, of. Queen's College, who, by the testimony of all writers (and by his own, as far as his productions are witnesses in his favour), was a man of vast erudition. Bastard, in his Chrestoleros, 1598, a book I have often quoted, and with the best parts of which you are by this time acquainted, has the following Epigram, addressed to him in L. IV.
"Ad Johannem Reynolds.
"Do I call iudgement to my foolish rimes
Elliot. The compliment is rather clumsily paid. Your mention of Bastard's book brings to my recollection an epigram I saw in it, connected, in some degree, with our immediate subject, I mean on the profaneness of the stage. It is L. VI. Epigr. 7» and entitled " In prophanationem nominis Dei."
"Gods name is bare of honour in our hearing,
Bourne. The practice of swearing on the stage was not long afterwards reformed under the highest authority, and in the editions of plays subsequently printed, it is not uncommon to observe variations occasioned by it: thus Heaven is generally substituted for God, and other similar changes made.
Elliot. I here also find an epigram to Richard Tarlton the comedian and jester, whose name we Saw introduced by Nash into his "Almond for a Parrot," in which he is praised for having "made folly excellent," and spoken of as being "extoll'd for that which all despise."
Bourne. Although Bastard entertained, to a certain extent, the same opinions as Dr. Rainoldes, he nevertheless seems, at least, to tolerate actors, and to praise such as were sober and meritorious. When upon the learning of the author of the "Overthrow of Stage-plays," I was about to quote from thehighest authority in his favour, I mean Bishop Hall, who has the following sentence in one of the epistles' of his Decades, addressed to M. Bedell: "He (Dr. Rainoldes) alone was a well furnished library, full of all faculties, of all studies, of all learning; the memory, the reading of that man went near to a miracle." I will make merely a short extract or two from his Overthrow of Stage Plays, observing first, that his work consists of two portions, and forms part of a contest between him and Doctor Gager oa the subject of theatrical representations. Dr. Gager had written an academic tragedy, under the title of Ulysses Redux, Trageedia nova, in cede Christi OxonitR publice recitata, which gave offence to a great body of the puritans.
Morton. And Dr. Gager, of course, vindicated himself?
Bourne. Yes, but only to the extent of academic plays: however, the attack of Dr. Rainoldes is general, and it is supported by an amazing number and variety of learned quotations: the publisher boasts that it had had the effect of first silencing, and then converting his antagonist.
Morton. I have seen it asserted somewhere, that Dr. Gager's reply to Dr. Rainoldes is in the library of C. C. college, Cambridge. If this be so, it would, mainly disprove that assertion.