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a place whither all the nations knowne vnder the Sunne resorted: so is London.... I neuer yet could read any History of any Commonweale which did not thriue and prosper whilst these publike solemnities were held in adoration."
Morton. I made a few extracts the other day from a voluminous and entertaining work, by a person of the name of Thomas Gainsford, one of which is not inapplicable, as it relates to the occupations and amusements of London before the year 1619.
Elliot.- Your extract will be very welcome; but first, ought we not to hear the title of the work from whence it is copied?
Morton. I was forgetting that: it is called "The Glory of England, or a true Description of the many excellent prerogatiues and remarkable blessings whereby she triumpheth ouer all the nations of the World." To make my extract more intelligible, I should mention that the author has been instituting a comparison between London and Paris. "With vs, our riding of horses, musique, learning of Arts and Sciences, dancing, fencing, seeing of comedies or enterludes, banquets, masques, mummeries, turnaments, shewes, lotteries, feasts, ordinarie meetings and all the particulars of mans inuention to satiate delight, are easie expences, and a little iudgement with experience will manage a very meane estate to wade through the current of pleasure, although it runne to voluptuousnesse." His conclusion is, that both living and pleasures are much cheaper in London than in Paris.
Elliot. The tables are a little turned now, I fear: in economy of living, as well as variety and cheapness of amusements, Paris is admitted to have the advantage at present.
Bourne. I do not see that we are at all called upon either to discuss or decide that point: we will, therefore, continue our examination of Heywood, and enter upon his second division on the ancient dignity of Actors, and here amid a great variety of learned matter to support his point, the author inserts the following interesting notice of some of the principal English actors. "To omit all the Doctors, Zawnyes, Pantaloones, Harlakeens, in which the French, but especially the Italians, haue been excellent, and, according to the occasion offered, to do some right to our English Actors, as Knell, Bentley, Mils, Wilson, Crosse, Lanam, and others: these, since I neuer saw them, as being before my time, I cannot (as an eye-witness of their desert) giue 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 absolute, that it were a kinde of sin to drowne their worths in Lethe, & not commit their (almost forgotten) names to eternity. Here I must needs remember Tarlton, in his time gracious with the Queene, his Soueraigne, and in the peoples general applause; whom succeeded Wiliam Kemp, as well in the fauour of her Maiesty, 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 liue in the remembrance of many. Among so many dead let me not forget one yet aliue in his time, the most worthy famous Maister Edward Allen."
Morton. Edward Allen or Alleyn was the founder of Dulwich College.
Bourne. The same: that fact is added in a subsequent edition of the "Apology for Actors," published after Allen's death.
Elliot. That is a curious quotation as connected with the history of the stage.
Bourne. It is. I do not delay to speak of the persons separately, because not a few of them were actors in Shakespeare's plays, and many particulars have been collected by Malone, by Chalmers in his "Supplemental Apology," and by other writers.
Elliot. You have mentioned some of them before, such as Richard Tarlton and Kemp.
Bourne. I have, but I cannot resist here mentioning that in an old play, called "The pleasant and Stately Morall of the three Lordes and three Ladies of London," 1590, written by one Paul Bucke ((whose name is subscribed at the end " Finis Paule
Bucke"), is a curious tribute to the memory of Tarlton, who had died only a short time before: Simplicity, a clown, a sort of inferior Autolicus, enters with a basket singing ballads; afterwards a countryman takes what is called "a picture" of Tarlton out of the basket and asks who it is: Simplicity pronounces an eulogium upon him, ending thus:
"But it was the merriest fellow that had such iestes in store, That if thou hadst seene him thou wouldst haue laughed thy hart sore."
In the course of the scene Wit and Wealth, two personages represented, avow their acquaintance with Tarlton.
Morton. I have read of a book called " Tarltons Jests:" no doubt it contains many curious stories— I suppose it is something like " Peele's Jests."
Bourne. The difference is chiefly this, that Tarlton's Jests consist more of merry sayings, and Peele's of merry doings. Here is a copy of "Tarlton's Iests: Drawn into three Parts.—His Court witty Iests—His sound Citty Iests—His Country pretty Iests: full of Delight, Wit and honest Mirth," 1611; and it is not improbable that this wood-cut on the title-page, in his fool's dress and playing on his pipe and drum, is a copy from the very " picture" carried by Simplicity in his basket. The tract contains a great many particulars regarding the stage, but it has been ransacked by Oldys, Malone, and the rest of the annotating tribe.
Elliot. Surely you can find one specimen; the annotators would extract the minute particulars without the least relish for the jests.
Bourne. That is true in some degree: the following is not only one of the best of the jokes, but relates to a personal peculiarity of Tarlton:
"Tarltons answer in defence of his flat nose.
"I remember I was once at a play in the Country where, as Tarltons vse was, the play being done, euery one so pleased to throw vp his Theame, one among the rest was read to this effect, word by word:"Tarlton I am one of thy friends and none of thy foes;
Then I prethee tell how camst by thy flat nose?
"Tarlton, mad at this question, as it was his property sooner to take such a matter ill then well, very suddenly returned him this answere, "Friend or foe, if thou wilt needs know, marke me well,
With parting dogs & bears, then by the ears, this chance fell;