Imatges de pÓgina


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 flye 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 upon 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


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

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

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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 strollo 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 virtuons energies which tions of exhaustion ; I would not allow him inspire your heart ?” and so 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 conning 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.


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“Where you can, sir,” was the grim accentuated tune, and the swords clashed reply. For Kean bad acquired fencing together in strict time with the music. ander 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 Cuff, 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. А 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

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have at once your ear entertained with indeed, outgrown the stage, and the faculty
music and good language, and your eye of making “imaginary puissance” has be-
satisfied with the garb and accoutrements come lost. In the theatre, as elsewhere,
of war.” In the same play, also, the the demand is now for the literal, the ac-
actors were wont to introduce hobby-horses, curate, and the strictly matter of fact.
and fight a mimic battle of very extrava-
gant nature,

Ridicule of a stage army was one of the

BY THE AUTHOR OF “BLACK SHEEP," "WRECKED IN established points of humour in the old burlesque of Bombastes Furioso, and many a pantomime has won applause by the

BOOK III. comical character of the troops brought

CHAPTER XV. AT LAST. upon the scene. It should be said, how- Two months have elapsed since the date ever, that of late years the more famous of the proceedings last recorded, and the battles of the theatre have been reproduced newspapers, for lack of something more with remarkable liberality and painstaking. exciting, have begun to chronicle the moveIn lieu of “four swords and bucklers," a ments of the barometer, and the prospects very numerous army of supernumeraries of a severe winter. If, however, throughhas marched to and fro upon the boards. out England the climate were as it is in In the ornate revivals of Shakespeare, Torquay this bright sunny morning, the undertaken from time to time by various weather prophets would be considerably managers, especial attention has been out in their calculations, and the disapdirected to the effective presentment of the pointment of the schoolboys and the cutbattle scenes.

The "auxiliaries” have fre- lers, who were looking forward to a three quently consisted of soldiers selected from weeks' skating season, would be intense, the household troops. They are reputed to for here the air is soft and balmy, the sun be the best of “supers,” imposing of aspect, bright and hot-so hot, that the gentleman stalwart and straight-limbed, obedient to toiling slowly up the hill stops just opposite command, and skilled in marching and the club, and unbuttons his long greatmilitary formations. Londoners, perhaps, coat, and lifts his hat to let the sea-breeze are little aware of the services their fa- cool his forehead. Then, reinvigorated, he vourite regiments are prompt to lend to proceeds, though his step is still slow, theatrical representations. Notably our and his breathing somewhat laboured; grand operas owe much to the Coldstreams his destination is, however, close at hand. and Grenadiers. After a performance of Through the trim and pretty garden he Le Prophète or L'Etoile du Nord, let us approaches a villa, perched on a green say, hosts of these warriors may be seen mound and overhanging the sea, and a hurrying from Covent Garden back to their young lady, who has been apparently barracks. Plays that have depended for watching for his arrival from the window, their success solely upon the battles they meets him in the hall with outstretched have introduced have not been frequent of hands, and with a face bright with late years, and perhaps their popularity pleasure. may fairly be counted as a thing of the “You are come at last, Mr. Drage," she past. We have left behind us the times said. when versatile Mr. Gomersal was found “You may be certain I came as soon as submitting to the public by turns his im- I could,” said the rector, bending down, personation of Napoleon at Waterloo and and kissing her forehead; “but it took Sir Arthur Wellesley at Seringapatam; some time to settle my father's affairs, and when Shaw, the Lifeguardsman, after per- put matters in train for disposing of his forming prodigies of valour, died heroically share of the business to his partner. Howto slow music; when Lady Sale, armed ever, all that required my personal superinwith pistol and sabre, fought against heavy tendence is now at an end, and I have Afghan odds, and came off supremely escaped from London. And Margaret ?" victorious. Perhaps the public has ceased “ Still progressing slowly, but surely. to care for history thus theatrically illus- You will find her greatly changed in aptrated, or prefers to gather its information pearance, dear Mr. Drage; she is still very on the subject from despatches and special weak and very thin, but she has improved correspondence. The ast theatrical ven- wonderfully since she came

to this place, ture of this class referred to our army's and day by day we see a happy difference exploits in Abyssinia. But the play did in her. not greatly please. Modern battles have, “You told me in your letter that she

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had made no allusion to anything that oc- “ you have just allowed that you are still carred during that dreadful time.

very weak; don't you think that any con“Nor has she up to this moment. She versation of this kind had better be postis perfectly tranquil, and apparently not ponedunhappy, speaks frequently of Gerald, and “Not for one moment,” she said; “I am seems anxious that we should be married strong enough to hear anything, and shall as soon as possible ; but sometimes she will merely be restless and uneasy until I know lie for hours without speaking, and when how much of what is constantly recurring I steal quietly up to her, I find the traces in my mind is true, and how much false. of tears upon her cheeks.”

Tell me, then, at once. I remember nothing "Poor dear Margaret! She knows I after fainting in the court. Stay,” she am coming ?"

added, seeing him hesitate, "you fear to “Oh, yes; and has been expecting you distress me. But I already know that very anxiously. If you like I will take you Philip Vane is dead. Did he die by his to her now.

own hand ?" Mr. Drage left his hat and coat in the “ That is not positively known,” said the pretty little hall where this conversation rector; “but it is believed that he acci. took place, and followed Rose Pierrepoint dentally fell from the pier at Dover. The into the drawing-room. On a couch before body was found two days afterwards off the window overlooking the sea lay Madge, St. Margaret's, and was recognised as that looking very pale and very delicate, but, as of a man who had left a portmantean in the rector thought, wonderfully beautiful, the cloak-room at the railway. On being looking, as the rector also thought, more opened, the portmanteau was found to conlike a pictured saint than a human being; tain a shirt with blood-stained wristbands, with her long brown hair hanging over and heavily-mudded trousers and boots ; her shoulders, and her white hands clasped the latter corresponding exactly with the in front of her. Her eyes were closed, and footmarks on the Wheatcroft lawn. Further she did not open them until Rose said, inquiry proved that he had been in Spring** Madge, darling, here is our best friend." side on that dreadful day, having actually Then she looked up, and a bright burning called at my house and spoken to my serfiush

overspread her face as she partially vant; and all these circumstances, corraised herself on one arm, and stretched out roborated with your evidence, left no doubt the other hand. The rector took the hand, on the minds of the magistrates, who disand lifted it to his lips, dropping into the charged Mr. Heriot; while the coroner's easy-chair placed by the sofa as Rose left jury brought in a verdict of wilful murder

against Philip Vane. You are distressed, Margaret was the first to speak.

Margaret, I had better stop ?”
find me much changed ?" she “No; pray go on.

And Gerald was said.

liberated at once ?" “No," said the rector, brightly, “ nothing “Not merely liberated, but became the

so much as I had anticipated. You idol of the hour. The revulsion of popular have had a serious illness, and you are still feeling was extraordinary. Nothing, howvery weak, but your eyes are bright, and ever, not even his restoration to Rose's your voice is clear, as it was in the old days.” arms, I think, gave him so much joy as " The old days," echoed Madge, “how my discovery of a letter amongst poor Sir

seem! part and parcel of Geoffry's papers, written two days before another life almost, so indistinct are they his death, a letter addressed to George, in


you know that up to this hour which he confessed his harsh treatment of my ideas of what happened at that fearful him, and implored his return to his position is time are dim and blurred ? Do


know and his home. You are crying, Margaret ?” that I have asked no one, not even Gerald, They are tears of joy, dear friend. I not even Rose, for any details of those had no idea that letter had been written,

Do you know why I have been though Sir Geoffry had spoken of his in80 silent ?"

tention of writing it. Thank Heaven he The rector bent his head.

lived to carry that intention into effect. "Because,” she continued, " I was wait And Gerald-George-is now happy ?” ing for


to whom I have given my Intensely happy. I know not which atmost confidence, to tell me all that had is the happier, he or Rose. Your illness Occurred. I could not trust myself to talk has been the only blot on their felicity.” on the subject with them ; I can with you.”


suppose they will be married at once ?" “Margaret,” said the rector, gently, I asked Madge.

the room.


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