Imatges de pÓgina


'Fire !' was given, but by whom I know King-street, opposite to Royal Exchangenot, but concluded it did not come from lane, flourishing their arms, and saying, the officer aforesaid, as I was within a yard Damn them, where are they,' and crying of him, and must have heard him had he 'Fire;' the bells then rang as for fire; I was spoken it, but am satisfied said Preston did then called in again for half a minute, and not forbid them to fire; I instantly leaped returning again to the door, the inhabitwithin the soldier's bayonet as I heard him ants began to collect. Soon after a party cock his gun, which that moment went off of soldiers came down the south side of between Mr. Palmes and myself. I, thinking King-street, and crossed over to the Custom there was nothing but powder fired, stood House sentinel, and formed in a rank by still, till, upon the other side of Mr. Palmes, him, nor did I see any manner of abuse and close to him, I saw another gun fired, offered the sentinel, and in three minutes and the man since called Attacks fall. I at the farthest they began to fire on the then withdrew about two or three yards, inhabitants, by which several persons were and, turning, saw Mr. Palmes upon his killed, and several others were wounded. knee, and the soldiers pushing at him with Some time after this the party marched off their bayonets. During this the rest of very leisurely, and without molestation, the guns were fired, one after another, and presently after the main guard was when I saw two more fall. I ran to one, drawn out in ranks between the Guard and seeing the blood gush out of his head, House and Town House, and was joined by though just expiring, I felt for the wound, the picket in the same manner, with fixed and found a hole as big as my hand. This bayonets and muskets shouldered, except I have since learned was Mr. Gray. I then the front rank, who stood with charged went to Attucks, and found him gasping, bayonets, until the Lieutenant-Governor pulled his head out of the gutter, and left came up. And I do further declare, as him; I returned to the soldiers, and asked near as I can judge, there was not more them what they thought of themselves, and than one hundred persons in the street at whether they did not deserve to be cut to the time the guns were discharged.” pieces, to lay men wallowing in their blood By this one fatal volley eleven unoffend. in such a manner ? They answered, ‘Damn ing citizens of Boston were either killed or them ! they should have stood out of our wounded. The victims were Samuel Gray, way.' The soldiers were then loading a young rope-maker, who was killed by a their muskets, and told me upon my peril ball through the head, and then bayoneted; not to come any nearer to them. I further Crispus Attucks, a mulatto, killed by two declare that I heard no other affront given balls in the breast; James Caldwell

, shot them than the huzzaing and whistling of in the back. Samuel Maverick (seventeen) boys in the street.”

and Patrick Carr died soon after. Mr. A citizen named Marshall gives a view Payne, a merchant, standing at his own of the scene from a different point of per- door, was wounded, and five other persons spective. He says: “On Monday night, were dangerously hurt. the 5th of March, four or five minutes after Presently through the snow, which was nine o'clock, coming from Colonel Jackson's a foot deep that fatal March night, came house in Dock-square, to my house in the English commander-in-chief to inquire King-street, next door to the Custom House, into the causes of this lamentable collision. I saw no person in the street but the sen- The soldiers had still their bayonets fixed, tinel at the Custom House, in perfect peace. and were presenting their firelocks. His After I had been in my house ten or twelve honour went round on the right flank of minutes, being in my shop in the front of the Twenty-ninth Regiment, now drawn up the house, I heard the cry of murder at a between the State House and Main-guard distance, on which I opened the door, but House, and facing down King-street tosaw no person in the street; but in half a wards the crowd, and said to Captain minute I saw several persons rushing out Preston, . Sir, are you the commanding from the main guard-house. They came officer ?” On Preston replying he was, down as far as the corner of Mr. Philip's he said, “Do you know, sir, you

have no house; I saw their swords and bayonets power to fire on any body of people colglitter in the moonlight ; at which time lected together except you have a civil I was called into the house one of magistrate with you to give orders ?” my family, but returned again in half a Captain Preston replied, “I was obliged minute, and saw ten or twelve soldiers, in to to save my sentry. a tumultuous manner, in the middle of On which a man in the crowd called out,

“ Then you have murdered three or four celebrated the anniversary of the massacre, men to save your sentry.”

in order, as they said, to annually develop A few hours after Captain Preston and “the fatal effects of the policy of standing seven of the firing party were committed armies, and the natural tendency of quarter. to jail.

ing troops in populous cities in times of The soldiers showed a cruel delight peace.” This anniversary was regularly ob rather than any regret at this massacre. served till 1784, when the celebration was One was heard to say it was a fine thing, superseded by that of the 4th of July and the town should see more of it. The men at Green's Barracks, when the first gun was fired in King-street, shouted,

“ALARUMS AND EXCURSIONS." “That is all we want,” then ran in and armed. A doctor of the Fourteenth It is clear that playgoers of the ShakeRegiment remarked to a citizen : “The spearian period dearly loved to see a battle townspeople have always used us ill, and represented upon the stage. The great I wish, instead of killing five or six, the poet thoroughly understood his public, and men had killed five hundred. Curse me if how to gratify it. In some fifteen of his I don't.” A quarter-master of the Twenty- plays he has introduced the encounter or ninth Regiment was heard to say: “The the marshalling of hostile forces. “Alarums troubles were nothing to what they will and excursions" is with him a very frebe in six months, for the affair will get quent stage direction; and as much may home, and the people will be disarmed, as be said of “they fight,” or “exeunt fightthey have been in Ireland.” Oh! These ing.” Combats and the clash of arms he men little knew what stuff the colonists obviously did not count as "inexplicable were made of. The very evening of the dumb show and noise.” He was conscious, massacre many inoffensive Boston men however, that the battles of the stage dewere stopped and struck by soldiers, and manded a very large measure of faith on the sticks they carried taken from them. the part of the spectators. Of necessity One of the soldiers' witnesses swore that they were required to "make believe" a good the people outside the Custom House, just deal. In the prologue to Henry the Fifth, before the fatal volley was fired, had cried, especial apology is advanced for the pre“Come out you rascals, and fight us if you sumption of the dramatist in dealing with dare." And that there had been a cry so comprehensive a subject; and indulgence from a rioter, “I wish we could get into is claimed for the unavoidable feebleness of the Custom House, we would soon make the representation as compared with the the money circulate.” But this was never force of the reality: proved, and the witness was generally con

But pardon, gentles all, fessed to be untrustworthy.

The flat unraised spirits that have dared, The public funeral of the victims of the so great

an object. Can this cock-pit hold

On this unworthy scaffold, to bring forth “massacre” took place on the 8th of March. The vasty fields of France ? or may we cram The shops were closed, and all the bells of Within this wooden O the very casques

That did affright the air at Agincourt ? Boston, as well as those of the neighbouring towns, solemnly tolled. The bodies of Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts, two of the victims (strangers) were borne Into a thousand parts divide one man, from Faneuil Hall

, the others from the Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them residences of their families; the hearses Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth; meeting in King-street, near the scene of For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings, the tragedy, passed through the main Carry them here and there ; jumping o'er times;

Turning th' accomplishment of many years street, followed by a vast throng, to the Into an hour-glass. burial-ground, where their bodies were all These conditions, however, were acdeposited in one vault. The two regiments cepted by the audiences of the time in the were at once removed to the barracks at most liberal spirit. Critics were prone to Castle Island, and the town militia in- deride the popular liking for "cutler's stituted a nightly military watch, to pre- work" and "the horrid noise of target vent the soldiers rescuing

their comrades. fight;" “the fools in the yard” were cenThe alarmed commissioners never held sured for their “ gaping and gazing" at up their heads after this melancholy affair. such exhibitions. But the battles of the Mr. Robinson left for England, the others stage were still fought on; "alarums and stole away under various pretexts.

excursions” continued to engage the scene. The Boston people for long afterwards Indeed, variety and stir have always been elements in the British drama as opposed hear one another. Why, if they but outto the uniformity and repose which were stretched their arms they could have characteristics of the ancient classical touched each other; and they were suptheatre.

posed to be mutually eager for combat to Yet our early audiences must have been the death! It became manifest, indeed, extremely willing to help out the illusions that the spectators had lost greatly their of the performance, and abet the tax thus ancestors' old power of “making believe." levied upon their credulity. Shakespeare's They could no longer hold their reason in battles could hardly have been very forcibly suspense for the sake of enhancing the presented. In his time no "host of auxi- effect of a theatrical performance, though liaries” assisted the company. “Two prepared to be indulgent in that respect. armies fiye in," Sir Philip Sidney writes in What is called “realism” had invaded the his Apologie for Poetrie, 1595, “repre-stage since Shakespeare's time, and could sented with four swords and bucklers, and not now be repelled or denied. Hints and what harde heart will not receive it for a suggestions did not suffice; the positive pitched fielde ?" So limited an array and the actual had become indispensable. would not be deemed very impressive in There can be no doubt, however, that these days; but it was held sufficient by Shakespeare's battles had oftentimes the the lieges of Elizabeth. Just as the Irish important aid of real gunpowder. The peasant is even now content to describe a armies might be small; but the noise that mere squad of soldiers as “the army," so accompanied their movements was surely Shakespeare's audiences were willing to very great. The stage direction “ alarums regard a few “blue-coated stage-keepers” | and chambers go off” occurs more than as a formidable body of troops.

And cer

once in King Henry the Fifth. The tainly the poet sometimes exercised to the Chorus to the play expressly states : utmost the imaginations of his patrons.

Behold the ordnance on their carriages He required them to believe that his small With fatal mouths gaping on girded Harfleur, stage was immeasurably spacious; that his

and the nimble gunner

With linstock now the devilish cannon touches, handful of “supers” was in truth a vast

And down goes all before them. multitude. During one scene in King John he does not hesitate to bring together

Gunpowder was even employed in plays opon the boards the three distinct armies wherein battles were not introduced. Thus of Philip of France, the Archduke of at the close of Hamlet, Fortinbras says, Austria, and the King of England; while, “Go bid the soldiers shoot," and the stage in addition, the citizens of Angiers are

direction runs,

A dead march. Exeunt supposed to appear upon the walls of their bearing off the dead bodies; after which a town and discuss the terms of its capitula- peal of ordnance is shot off.” And just tion. So in King Richard the Third, Bos- as in 1846, the Garrick Theatre, in Goodworth Field is represented, and the armies man's Fields, was destroyed by fire owing of Richard and Richmond are made to en- to some wadding lodging in the flies after camp within a few feet of each other. The a performance of the Battle of Waterloo, ghosts of Richard's victims rise from the so‘in 1613 the Globe Theatre, in Southstage and address speeches alternately to wark, was burnt to the ground from the him and to his opponent. Playgoers who firing of " chambers” during a representacan look back a score of years may re

tion of King Henry the Eighth. Howes, member a textual revival of the tragedy, in his additions to Stow's Chronicle, thus in which this scene was exhibited in exact describes the event : “ Also upon St. Peter's accordance with the original stage direc- Day last (1613) the playhouse or theatre tions. Colley Cibber's famous acting ver- called the Globe, upon the Bankside, near sion was for once discarded, and Richard London, by negligent discharging of a peal and Richmond on the eve of their great of ordnance, close to the south side thereof, battle quietly retired to rest in the presence the theatre took fire, and the wind sudof each other, and of their audience. denly dispersed the flame round about, and However to be commended on the score of in a very short space the whole building its fidelity to the author's intentions, the was quite consumed and no man hurt; the scene had assuredly its ludicrous side. house being filled with people to behold The rival tents wore the aspect of opposi- the play, namely, of Henry the Eighth ; and tion shower-baths.

It was exceedingly the next spring it was new builded in a far difficult to humour the idea that the figures fairer manner than before." occupying the stage could neither see nor The paucity of Shakespeare's stage


armies has sometimes found its reflex in to impressing his audience deeply by his the limited means of country theatres of skill in combat. Charles Mathews, the more modern date. The ambition of stroll elder, has recorded in his too brief chapters ing managers is apt to be far in advance of of autobiography, “his passion for fencing their appliances, but they are rarely stayed which nothing could overcome.” As an by the difficulties of representation, or amateur actor he paid the manager of the troubled with doubts as to the adequacy Richmond Theatre seven guineas and a of their troop, in the words of a famous half for permission to undertake "the commander, to “ go anywhere and do any inferior, insipid part of Richmond," who thing." We have heard of a provincial does not appear until the fifth act of the Rolla who at the last moment discovered play. The Richard of the night was a that the army, wherewith he proposed to brother amateur, equally enthusiastic, one repulse the forces of Pizarro, consisted of Litchfield by name. “I cared for nothing," one supernumerary only. The Peruvian wrote Mathews, “except the last scene of chieftain proved himself equal to the situa- Richmond, but in that I was determined tion, however, and adapted his speech to to have my full swing of carte and tierce. the case. Addressing his one soldier, he I had no notion of paying my seven guineas declaimed in his most dignified manner : and a half without indulging my passion. “My brave associate, partner of my toil, In vain did the tyrant try to die after a my feelings and my fame, can Rolla’s words decent time ; in vain did he give indicaadd vigour to the virtuous energies which tions of exhaustion ; I would not allow him inspire your heart ?” and so on. Thus to give in. I drove him by main force from altered, the speech was found to be suf- any position convenient for his last dying ficiently effective.

speech. The audience laughed; I heeded Two things were especially prized by them not. They shouted; I was deaf. the audiences of the past : a speech and a Had they hooted' I should have lunged on combat. “For God's sake, George, give in my unconsciousness of their interruption. me a speech and let me go home!" cried I was resolved to show them all my accom. from the pit the wearied country squire of plishments. Litchfield frequently whisQueen Anne's time to his boon companion pered 'Enough! but I thought with MacPowell, the actor, doomed to appear in a beth, ‘Damned be he who first cries, Hold! part deficient in opportunities for oratory. enough! I kept him at it, and I believe

But, Mr. Bayes, might we not have a we fought almost literally a long hour by little fighting ?" inquires Johnson, in the Shrewsbury clock. To add to the merriburlesque of the Rehearsal," for I love ment, a matter-of-fact fellow in the gallery, those plays where they cut and slash one who in his innocence took everything for another on the stage for a whole hour reality, and who was completely wrapt up together.”

and lost by the very canning of the scene, The single combats that occur in Shake- at last shouted out, “Why don't he shoot speare's plays are very numerous. There him ?'" is little need to remind the reader, for The famous Mrs. Jordan was, it seems, instance, of the hand-to-hand encounters unknown to Mathews, present among the of Macbeth and Macduff, Posthumus and audience on this occasion, having been atIachimo, Hotspur and the Prince of Wales, tracted from her residence at Bushey by Richard and Richmond. Romeo has his the announcement of an amateur Richard. fierce brawl with Tybalt, Hamlet his famous Years afterwards,” records Mathews, fencing scene, and there is serious crossing “when we met in Drury Lane green-room, of swords both in Lear and Othello. English I was relating, amongst other theatrical audiences, from an inherent pugnacity, or a anecdotes, the bumpkin's call from the natural inclination for physical feats, were gallery in commiseration of the trouble wont to esteem highly the combats of the I had in killing Richard, when she shook stage. The players were skilled in the use me from my feet almost by starting up, of their weapons, and could give excellent clasping her hands, and in her fervent

, effect to their mimic conflicts. And this soul-stirring, warm-hearted tones, exclaim. continued long after the wearing of swords ing, "Was that you? I was there!' and had ceased to be a necessity or a fashion. she screamed with laughter at the recolThe youthful actor acquired the art of lection of my acting in Richmond, and the fencing as an indispensable step in his length of our combat.” theatrical education. A sword was one of "Where shall I hit you, Mr. Kean?" the earliest "properties” of which he be inquired a provincial Laertes of the great came possessor. He always looked forward | tragedian.


“Where you can, sir,” was the grim accentuated tune, and the swords clashed reply. For Kean had acquired fencing together in strict 'time with the music. under Angelo, and was proud of his pro- The fight raged hither and thither about ficiency in the art. He delighted in pro- the stage, each blow and parry, thrust and longing his combats to the utmost, and guard, being a matter of strict pre-arrangeinvested them with extraordinary force and ment. The music was hurried or slackened intensity. On some occasions he so iden- accordingly as the combat became more or tified himself with the character he re- less furious. “ One, two, three, and under; presented as to decline to yield upon almost one, two, three, and over;" "robber's cuts;" any terms. Hazlitt censures certain excesses “sixes ;” the encounter had an abundance of this kind which disfigured his perform- of technical terms. And each performer ance of Richard. “He now actually fights was allowed a fair share of the feats acwith his doubled fists, after his sword is complished: they took turns in executing taken from him, like some helpless infant.” the strangest exploits. Alternately they " The fight,” writes another critic,“ were beaten down on one knee, even lower maintained under various vicissitudes, by still, till they crawled serpent-wise about one of which he was thrown to the earth; the boards; they leaped into the air to on his knee he defended himself, recovered avoid chopping blows at their lower memhis footing, and pressed his antagonist with bers; they suddenly spun round on their renewed fury; his sword was struck from heels, recovering themselves in time to his grasp—he was mortally wounded; dis- guard a serious blow, aimed with too much daining to fall," and so on. No wonder that deliberation, at some vital portion of their many Richmonds and Macduffs, after com- frames; occasionally they contrived an unbating with Mr. Kean, were left so ex- expected parry by swiftly passing the hausted and scant of breath as to be sword from the right hand to the left. Now scarcely able to deliver audibly the closing and then they fought a kind of double speeches of their parts. The American combat, wielding a sword in either hand. stage has a highly coloured story of an Altogether, indeed, it was an extraordinary English melodramatic actor with the pseu- entertainment, which evoked thunders of donym of Bill Shipton, who, “enacting a applause from the audience. The eccenBritish officer in the Early Life of Washing. tric agility of the combatants, the pecuton, got so stupidly intoxicated, that when liarities of their method of engagement, Miss Cnff, who played the youthful hero, had the stirring staccato music of the band, the to fight and kill him in a duel, Bill Shipton clashing of the swords and the shower of wouldn't die; he even said loudly on the sparks thus occasioned, were found quite stage that he wouldn't. Mary Cuff fought irresistible by numberless playgoers.

Mr. on until she was ready to faint, and Crummles, it will be remembered, had a after she had repeated his cue for dying, very high opinion of this form of enterwhich was 'Cowardly, hired assassin !' for tainment. the fourteenth time, he absolutely jumped Of late, however, the broad-sword comoff the stage, not even pretending to be on bat has declined as a theatrical attraction, the point of death. Our indignant citizens if it has not altogether expired. The art then chased him all over the house, and involved in its presentment is less studied, he only escaped by jumping into the coffin or its professors are less able than was once which they bring on in Hamlet, Romeo, the case. And perhaps burlesque has exand Richard.” The story has its humour, posed too glaringly its ridiculous or seamy but is not to be implicitly credited. side. It was not one of those things that

Broad-sword combats were at one time could long endure the assaults of travesty. very popular interludes at minor theatres. The spell was potent enough in its way, They were often quite distinct perform- but it dissolved when once interruptive ances, prized for their own sake, and quite laughter became generally audible. irrespective of their dramatic relevancy. creature of theatrical tradition, curiously It cannot be said that they suggested much sophisticated and enveloped in absurdities, resemblance to actual warfare. Still they its long survival is perhaps more surprising demanded of the performers skill of a than the fact, of its decease. Some attempt peculiar kind, great physical endurance and at ridiculing it seems to have been made so ceaseless activity. The combat-sword was far back as the seventeenth century in the an unlikely looking weapon, very short in Duke of Buckingham's Rehearsal. Two the blade, with a protuberant hilt of curved characters enter, each bearing a lute and a bars to protect the knuckles of the com- drawn sword, and alternately fight and batant. The orchestra supplied a strongly sing, " so that,” as Bayes explains, "you

« AnteriorContinua »