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Bourne. Of course. I read the following paragraph from Dr. Rainoldes, not because it countenances the story against Shakespeare, that he had been guilty of deer-stealing, but because it is singular that that offence should be named as ordinarily committed by vagrants, such as itinerant players.
Elliot. Some persons disbelieve it altogether, and it is not impossible, that on account of its being frequently committed, the charge has been invented against our great dramatist.
Bourne. I do not think that likely, supported, as the story is, by the ballad upon Sir Thomas Lucy. Besides, the deer, if stolen at all, was stolen before Shakespeare left Stratford. "Time of recreation (says Dr. Rainoldes) is necessary, I graunt, and think as necessary for schollers that are schollers indeed, I meane good students, as it is for any. Yet in my opinion it were not fit for them to play at Stoole-ball among wenches, nor at Mumchance or Maw with idle loose companions; nor at trunkes in Guile-halls, nor to dance about Maypoles, nor to rufle in alehouses, nor to carowse in tauernes, nor to steale deere, nor to rob orchards. Though who can deny but they may doe these things, yea worse."
Morton. Shakespeare's annotators would certainly have adduced this quotation, if they had recollected it, as an incidental confirmation of the imputation upon Shakespeare.
VOL. II. r
Bourne. I will only read one more extract from another part of this volume, because, as I have said, the book is not by any means so rare as many others, and it is strangely barren of all information regarding the state of the stage about that date.
Morton. Perhaps not very strangely barren, when we recollect that a man like Dr. Rainoldes, as Hall has described him, could not be much acquainted with the nature or condition of the acted drama in the metropolis or elsewhere.
Bourne. No doubt that is to be taken into view, and wherever he enters into particulars, they refer to the plays represented at the universities: for instance, in one place he speaks of the expense of getting up a play, "trimming vp a stage and borrowing robes out of the revils," as thirty pounds, but it has no allusion to the public theatres.
Morton. There seems to be very little general argument in the book; it is almost entirely controversial, and the author disputes Dr. Gager's positions seriatim, citing in the margin a long list of authorities, .christian and heathen.
Bourne. The minuteness of Dr. Rainoldes' knowledge is sometimes astonishing; he is ostentatiously learned upon the merest trifles, and to him, without derogating from his great erudition, I think we may, in some degree, apply the censure of John Webster, in his "Duchess of Malfi," (1623): "a fantastical Scholar, like such who study to know how taany knots were in Hercules club; of what colour Achilles' beard was, or whether Hector were not troubled with the tooth-ache: he hath studied himself blear-eyed to know the true symmetry of Caesars nose by a shoeing horn."
Elliot. A clever and often just piece of ridicule: but where is the other extract from the " Overthrow of Stage Plays" you recommended to our perusal?
Bourne. It is here; on the subject of the propriety of men wearing the apparel of women, and women of men.
Elliot. Juvenal asks, you know,
Quem prtestarepotest mulier galeata pudorem
Bourne. Dr. Rainoldes treats the point with more lightness than "was his wont." "Now (says he) if this were lawfully done because he did it, then William, Bishop of Ely, who to saue his honour and wealth, became a greene-sleeues, going in womans raiment lesse way then twenty miles, from Dover castle to the Sea side, did therein like a man; although the women of Dover, when they had found it out by plucking downe his muffler and seeing his new shauen beard, called him a monster for it: then with vs a Scholler who thinketh of some man as Euclide did of Socrates, and cannot well frequent his house in the day time for suspition of lewdnesse with his Xanthippe, or of Popery, may come like a maiden thither by night: then our Vniuersitie Statute of night walkers would be taken away, or qualified at least, and if our Proctors meete one like a woman at midnight, they must not be suspicious; some studious youth it may be, come from JVickham to Benconsfield, and daring not to trauaile by day for theeues through Shotouer, is going to some learned man. In like sort touching Eurphrosyna, a maid of Alexandria (of Antiochc you name her by slippe of penne or memorie) the storie is that shee, desiring much to liue in an Abby like a Monke, forsooke not only her father, who had brought her vp to be a staffe in his olde age, a comfort in his weakenesse to him, but also a worthie, noble, vertuous gentleman to whom she was betroathed: clad in mans apparell she came vnto the Abbot, and being asked of him who shee vat, from what place and for what cause she came, she answered that her name indeed was Smaragdus, and shee was of the Emperours Court and came to that Abbey to lead a holy life, if shee might be admitted, and so finding fauour to be admitted as a man, she liued there eight and thirty yeares in mans apparell." I apprehend you would not wish to hear much more from a book, of which what I have just read is, I believe, the most entertaining passage.
Mobton. Certainly not: you may close the " Overthrow of Stage Plays" as soon as you please.
Bourne. We have not time to go further at present. When next we meet and renew this subject, we will enter upon Thos. Heywood's very amusing pamphlet, called "An Apology for Actors," 1612, and upon the reply to it by I. G. published three years afterwards.