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Containing three briefe Treatises


Written by Thomas Heywood

Et prodesse solent et delectare. blue


NOWING all the vertues and endowments of nobility which florisht in their height of eminence in your ancestors, now, as by a divine legacy and lineall inheritance, to survive in you, and so consequently from you to your truly ennobled issue (right honourable), I presumed to publish this unworthy worke under your gracious patronage, first as an acknowledgement of that duty I am bound to you in as a servant. Next, assured that your most judiciall censure is as able to approve what therein is authentike and good, as your noble and accustomed modesty will charitably connive [close your eyes] if there be any thing therein unworthy your learned approbation. I have striv’d (my Lord) to make good a subject which many through envy, but most through ignorance, have sought violently (and beyond merit) to oppugne, in which, if they have either wandred through spleene or erred by non-knowledge, I have (to my power) plainly and freely illustrated, propounding a true, direct, and faithfull discourse touching the antiquity, the ancient dignity, and the true use of actors, and their quality. If my industry herein be by the common adversary harshly received but by your honour charitably censured, I have from the injuditious (whom I esteeme not) but what I expect, but from your lordship (whom I ever reverence) more then I can merit.

Your Honour’s humbly devoted



UT of my busiest houres I have spared my selfe so much time as to touch some particulars concerning us, to approve [demonstrate] our antiquity, ancient dignity, and the true use of our quality. That it hath beene ancient, we have derived it from more then two thousand yeeres agoe successively to this age. That it hath beene esteemed by the best and greatest, to omit all the noble patrons of the former world, I need alledge no more then the royall and princely services in which we now live. That the use thereof is authentique, I have done my endeavour to instance by history and approve by authority. To excuse my ignorance in affecting no florish of eloquence to set a glosse upon my treatise, I have nothing to say for my selfe but this: a good face needs no painting and a good cause no abetting. Some overcurious have too liberally taxed us, and hee (in my thoughts) is held worthy reproofe whose ignorance cannot answere for it selfe. I hold it more honest for the guiltlesse to excuse then the envious to exclaime. And we may as freely (out of our plainnesse) answere as they (out of their perversnesse object), instancing my selfe by famous Scalliger, learned Doctor Gager, Doctor Gentiles, and others, whose opinions and approved arguments on our part I have in my briefe discourse altogether omitted. because I am loath to bee taxed in borrowing from others: and besides, their workes, being extant to the world, offer themselves freely to every mans perusall. I am profest adversary to none, I rather covet reconcilement then opposition, nor proceedes this my labour from any envy in me, but rather to shew them wherein they erre. So wishing you judiciall audiences, honest poets, and true gatherers, blue I commit you all to the fulnesse of your best wishes.

Yours ever,
T. H.



spacerHAVE undertooke a subiect (curteous reader) not of sufficient countenance to bolster it selfe by his owne strength, and therefore have charitably reached it my hand to support it against any succeeding adversary. I could willingly have committed this worke to some more able then my selfe, for the weaker the combatant, hee needeth the stronger armes. But in extremities I hold it better to weare rusty armour then to goe naked. Yet if these weake habilliments of warre can but buckler [shield] it from part of the rude buffets of our adversaries, I shall hold my paines sufficiently guerdoned [rewarded]. My pen hath seldome appeared in presse till now. I have beene ever too jealous of mine owne weaknesse willingly to thrust into the presse, nor had I at this time but that a kinde of necessity blue enjoyned me to so sudden a businesse. I will neither shew my selfe over-presumtuous in skorning thy favour, nor too importunate a beggar by too servilly intreating it. What thou art content to bestow upon my pains I am content to accept: if good thoughts, they are all I desire; if good words, they are more then I deserve; if bad opinion, I am sorry I have incur’d it; if evil language, I know not how I have merited it; if any thing, I am pleased; if nothing, I am satisfie7d, contenting my selfe with this: I have done no more then (had I beene called to account) shewed what I could say in the defence of my owne quality.

Firma valent per se, nullumqe Machaona quaerunt.



Fallor? An haec solis non solum grata theatris
(Esse putes solis quanquam dictata theatris)?
Magna sed a sacro veniet tibi gratia templo,
Parve liber; proles haut infitianda parenti.
Plurimus hunc nactus librum de plebe sacerdos 5
(Copia verborum cui sit, non copia rerum)
Materiae tantum petet hinc quantum nec in uno
Promere mense potest, nec in uno forsitan anno.
Da quemvis textum, balba de nare locutus
Protinus exclamat “Nefanda piacula!, In urbe 10
(Proh dolor!) Impietas nudata fronte vagatur!
Ecce librum (fratres) damnando authore poeta.
Peiorem nec sol vidit, nec Vorstius ipse blue
Haeresiarcha valet componere. Quippe theatri
Mentitas loquitur laudes (o tempora!), laudet 15
Idem si potis est, monachum monachive cucullum.
Sacro quis laudes unquam nomenve theatri
Repperit in canone? Haud ullus. Stolidissime, dogma
Non canonem sapit hoc igitur, sed Apocryphon.”
(Lymphatum attonito pectus tundent popello, 20
Et vacuum quassante caput moestumque tuenti)
Sic multo raucum crocitans sudore perorat.
Quod non dant proceres dedit histrio, nempe benignam
Materiam declamandi, plebemque docendi.
Quis tamen hic mystes tragico qui fulmina ab ore 30
Torquet? Num doctus? Certe. Nam metra Catonis blue
Quattuor edidicit, totidem quoque commata Tulli,
Ieiunamque catechesin pistoribus aeque
Sartoribusque piis scripsit. Liber utilis his, qui
Baptistam simulant vultu, Floralia vivunt, 35
Queisque supercilio brevior coma. Sed venerandos
Graios hic Latiosque patres exosus ad unum est,
Et canones damnans fit Apocryphus. Uritur intus.
Laudibus actoris multum mordetur. Ab illo
Laude suâ fraudatur enim. Quis nescit? Iniquum’st 40
Praeter se scripto laudetur a hypocrita quisquam.
Fallor? An haec solis non solum grata theatris?



Cease your detracting tongues, contest no more,
Leave off for shame to wound the actors fame.
Seeke rather their wrong’d credit to restore,
Your envy and detractions quite disclaime.
spacerYou that have term’d their sports lascivious, vile, 5
spacerWishing good princes would them all exile,
spacerSee here this question to the full disputed.
spacerHeywood hath you and all your proofes confuted.

Wouldst see an emperour and his counsell grave,
A noble souldier acted to the life, 10
A Romane tyrant how he doth behave
Himselfe at home, abroad, in peace, in strife?
spacerWouldst see what’s love, what’s hate, what’s foule excesse,
spacerOr wouldst a traytor in his kind expresse?
spacerOur Stagerites can (by the poets pen) blue 15
spacerAppeare to you to bee the selfe same men.

What though a sort for spight, or want of wit,
Hate what the best allow, the most forbeare,
What exercise can you desire more fit,
Then stately stratagemes to see and heare? 20
spacerWhat profit many may attaine by playes,
spacerTo the most critticke eye this booke displaies,
spacerBrave men, brave acts, being bravely acted too,
spacerMakes, as men see things done, desire to do.

And did it nothing but in pleasing sort 25
Keepe gallants from mispending of their time,
It might suffice: yet here is nobler sport,
Acts well contriv’d, good prose and stately rime.
spacerTo call to church, Campanus bels did make, blue
spacerPlayes, dice, and drinke invite men to forsake. 30
spacerTheir use being good then, use the actors well,
spacerSince ours all other nations farre excell.


Sume superbiam quaesitam meritis

I cannot, though you write in your owne cause,
Say you deale partially, but must confesse,
(What most men wil) you merit due applause,
So worthily your worke becomes the presse.

And well our actors may approve your paines, 5
For you give them authority to play,
Even whilst the hottest plague of envy raignes,
Nor for this warrant shall they dearly pay.

What a full state of poets have you cited
To judge your cause? And to our equall view 10
Faire monumentall theaters recited,
Whose ruines had bene ruin’d but for you.

Such men who can in tune both raile and sing
Shall, viewing this, either confesse ’tis good,
Or let their ignorance condemne the spring, 15
Because ’tis merry and renewes our bloud.

Be therefore your owne judgement your defence,
Which shall approve you better then my praise,
Whilst I in right of sacred innocence,
Durst ore each guilded tombe this knowne truth raise.
Who dead would not be acted by their will, 25
It seemes such men have acted their lives ill.



Thou that do’st raile at me for seeing a play,
How wouldst thou have me spend my idle houres?
Wouldst have me in a taverne drinke all day,
Melt in the sunnes heate, or walke out in showers?

Gape at the lottery from morne till even, 5
To heare whose mottoes [tickets] blankes have, and who prises?
To hazzard all at dice (chance six or seven?)
To card or bowle? My humour this dispises.

But thou wilt answer, “None of these I need.”
Yet my tird spirits must have recreation. 10
What shall I doe that may retirement breed,
Or how refresh my selfe, and in what fashion?

To drabbe [use whores], to game, to drinke, all these I hate.
Many enormous things depend on these,
My faculties truely to recreate 15
With modest mirth, and my selfe best to please.

Give me a play, that no distaste can breed.
Prove thou a spider, and from flowers sucke gall,
Il'e, like a bee, take hony from a weed,
For I was never puritannicall. 20

I love no publicke soothers, private scorners, blue
That raile ’gainst letchery, yet love a harlot.
When I drinke, ’tis in sight and not in corners:
I am no open saint and secret varlet.

Still, when I come to playes, I love to sit 25
That all may see me in a publike place,
Even in the stages front, and not to git
Into a nooke, and hood-winke there my face.

This is the difference, such would have men deeme
Them what they are not. I am what I seeme 30



Let others taske things honest, and to please
Some that pretend more strictnesse then the rest,
Exclaime on playes. Know I am none of these
That in-ly love what out-ly I detest.
Of all the modest pastimes I can finde 5
To content me, of playes I make best use,
As most agreeing with a generous minde.
There see I vertues crowne and sinnes abuse.
Two houres well spent, and all their pastimes done,
Whats good I follow, and whats bad I shun. 10



Have I not knowne a man that to be hyr’d,
Would not for any treasure see a play,
Reele from a Taverne? Shall this be admir’d?
When as another but the t’other day,
spacerThat held to weare a surplesse [surplice] most unmeet, 5
spacerYet after stood at Pauls-crosse in a sheet. blue



Of thee and thy Apology for playes
I will not much speake in contempt or praise,
Yet in these following lines Il’e shew my minde
Of playes, and such as have ’gainst playes repin’d.
A play’s a briefe epitome of time, 5
Where man may see his vertue or his crime blue
Layd open, either to their vices shame,
Or to their vertues memorable fame.
A play’s a true transparant christall mirror,
To shew good minds their mirth, the bad their terror, 10
Where stabbing, drabbing, dicing, drinking, swearing
Are all proclaim’d unto the sight and hearing,
In ugly shapes of heaven-abhorrid sinne,
Where men may see the mire they wallow in.
And well I know it makes the Divell rage, 15
To see his servants flouted on a stage.
A whore, a thiefe, a pander, or a bawd,
A broker, or a slave that lives by fraud,
An usurer, whose soule is in his chest,
Untill in Hell it comes to restlesse rest. 20
A fly-blowne gul [gullible fool] that faine would be a gallant,
A raggamuffin that hath spent his tallant,
A selfe-wise foole that sees his wits out-stript,
Or any vice that feeles it selfe but nipt,
Either in tragedy or comedy, 25
In morall, pastorall, or history.
But straight the poyson of their envious tongues
Breakes out in vollyes of calumnious wronges.
And then a tinker or a dray-man sweares,
“I would the house were fir'd about their eares.” 30
Thus when a play nips Sathan by the nose,
Streight all his vassails are the actors foes.
But feare not, man, let envy swell and burst,
Proceed, and bid the Divell do his worst.
For playes are good or bad as they are us’d, 40
And best inventions often are abus’d.




The world’s a theater, the earth a stage,
Which God and nature doth with actors fill,
Kings have their entrance in due equipage,
And some there parts play well and others ill.
The best no better are (in this theater,) 5
Where every humor’s fitted in his kinde.
This a true subjects acts, and that a traytor,
The first applauded, and the last confin’d.
This plaies an honest man and that a knave,
A gentle person this, and he a clowne. 10
One man is ragged and another brave.
All men have parts and each man acts his owne.
She a chaste lady acteth all her life,
A wanton curtezan another playes.
This covets marriage love, that nuptial strife, 15
Both in continuall action spend their dayes.
Some citizens, some soldiers borne to adventer,
Sheepheards and sea-men. Then our play’s begun
When we are borne, and to the world first enter,
And all finde exits when their parts are done. 20
If then the world a theater present,
As by the roundnesse it appeares most fit,
Built with starre-galleries of hye ascent,
In which Jeho•e doth as spectator sit
And chiefe determiner to applaud the best, 25
And their indevours crowne with more then merit.
Bt by their evill actions doomes the rest,
To end disgrac’'t whilst others praise inherit.
He that denyes then theaters should be,
He may as well deny a world to me. 30




OOVED by the sundry exclamations of many seditious sectists in this age, who in the fatnes and ranknes of a peaceable common-wealth grow up like unsavery tufts of grasse, which though outwardly greene and fresh to the eye, yet are they both unpleasant and unprofitable, beeing too sower for food and too ranke for fodder, these men. like the antient Germans, affecting no fashion but their owne, would draw other nations to bee slovens like them-selves and, undertaking to purifie and reforme the sacred bodies of the Church and common-weale (in the trew use of both which they are altogether ignorant), would but, like artlesse phisitions, for experiment sake rather minister pils to poyson the whole body then cordials [potions] to preserve any or the least part. Amongst many other thinges tollerated in this peaceable and florishing state, it hath pleased the high and mighty princes of this land to limit the use of certaine publicke theaters, blue which since many of these over-curious heads have lavishly and violently slandered, I hold it not amisse to lay open some few antiquities to approve the true use of them, with arguments (not of the least moment) which, according to the weaknes of my spirit and infancy of my judgment, I will (by Gods grace) commit to the eyes of all favorable and judiciall readers, as well to satisfie the requests of some of our well qualified favorers as to stop the envious acclamations of those who chalenge to them-selves a priviledge invective, and against all free estates a railing liberty. blue Loath am I (I protest), being the youngest and weakest of the nest wherin I was hatcht, to soare this pitch before others of the same brood more fledge [fledged] and of better winge then my selfe. But though they whome more especially this taske concernes, both for their ability in writing and sufficiency in judgement (as their workes generally witnesse to the world), are content to over-slip so necessary a subject, and have left it as to mee the most unworthy, I thought it better to stammer out my mind,then not to speake at all; to scrible downe a marke in the stead of writing a name, and to stumble on the way rather then to stand still and not to proceede on so necessary a journey. Nox erat, et somnus lassos submisit ocellos. blue
spacer2. It was about that time of the night when darknes had already overspread the world, and a husht and generall sylence possest the face of the earth, and mens bodyes tyred with the businesse of the day, betaking themselves to their best repose, their never-sleeping soules labored in uncoth dreames and visions, when suddenly appeared to me the tragicke Muse Melpomene: blue

spaceranimosa tragedia.
spacerspacer et movit pictis innixa cothurnis red
Densum cesarie terque quaterque caput.

spacer3. Her heyre rudely disheveled, her chaplet withered, her visage with teares stayned, her brow furrowed, her eyes dejected, nay her whole complexion quite faded and altered: and perusing her habit, I might behold the colour of her fresh roabe all crimson breathed, blue and with the invenomed juice of some prophane spilt inke in every place stained. nay more, her busken of all the wonted jewels and ornaments utterly despoyled, about which in manner of a garter I might behold these letters written in a playne and large character:

Behold my tragicke buskin rent and torne,
Which kings and emperors in their tymes have worne.

spacer4. This I no sooner had perus’d, but suddenly I might perceave the inraged Muse cast up her skornfull head, her eyebals sparkle fire, and a suddain flash of disdaine intermixt with rage, purple her cheeke when, pacing with a majesticke gate and rowsing up her fresh spirits with a lively and queint action, shee began in these or the like words:

Grande sonant tragici, tragicos decet ira cothurnos. blue
Am I Melpomene, the buskend Muse
That held in awe the tyrants of the world,
And playde their lives in publicke theaters,
Making them feare to sinne, since fearelesse I 5
Prepar’d to wryte their lives in crimson inke,
And act their shames in eye of all the world?
Have not I whipt Vice with a scourge of steele,
Unmaskt sterne murther, sham’d lascivious Lust.
Pluckt off the visar from grimme Treasons face, 10
And made the sunne point at their ugly sinnes?
Hath not this powerfull hand tam’d fiery Rage,
Kild poysonous Envy with her owne keene darts,
Choak’t up the covetous mouth with moulten gold,
Burst the vast wombe of eating Gluttony, 15
And drownd the drunkards gall in juice of grapes?
I have showed pryde his picture on a stage,
Layde ope the ugly shapes his steele-glasse hid,
And made him passe thence meekely. In those daies
When emperours with their presence grac’t my sceanes, 20
And thought none worthy to present themselves
Save emperours to delight embassadours.
Then did this garland florish, then my roabe
Was of the deepest crimson, the best dye.
Cura ducum fuerant olim regumque poetae, blue 25
Premiaque antiqui magna tulere chori
Who lodge then in the bosome of great kings.
Save he that had a grave cothurnate Muse.
A stately verse in an iambick stile
Became a Cesars mouth. Oh, these were times red blue 30
Fit for you bards to vent your golden rymes!
Then did I tread on arras, cloth of tissue blue
Hung round the fore-front of my stage, the pillers
That did support the roofe of my large frame
Double apparreld in pure Ophir gold, 35
Whilst the round circle of my spacious orbe
Was throng’d with princes, dukes and senators.
Nunc hederae sine honore iacent. blue
But now’s the Iron Age, and black-mouth'd curres
Barke at the vertues of the former world. 40
Such with their breath have blasted my fresh roabe,
Pluckt at my flowry chaplet, towsd [tousled] my tresses.
Nay some whom for their basenesse hist and skorn’d
The stage as loathsome, hath long-since spued out, blue
Have watcht their time to cast invenom’d inke 45
To stayne my garments with. Oh Seneca,
Thou tragicke poet, hadst thou liv’d to see
This outrage done to sad Melpomene,
With such sharpe lynes thou wouldst revenge my blot.
As armed Ovid against Ibis wrot! 50

spacer5. With that in rage shee left the place, and I my dreame, for at the instant I awaked, when having perused this vision over and over againe in my remembrance, I suddenly bethought mee how many antient poets, tragicke and comicke, dying many ages agoe live still amongst us in their works, as amongst the Greekes Euripides, Menander, Sophocles, Eupolis, Eschilus, Aristophanes, Appollodorus, Anaxandrides, Nichomachus, Alexis, Tereus and others, so among the Latins Attilius, Actius, Melithus, Plautus, Terens, and others whome for brevity sake I omit:

Hos ediscit et hos arcto stipata theatro blue
Spectat Roma potens, habet hos, numeratque poetas.

These potent Rome acquires and holdeth deare.

spacer6. These or any of these, had they lived in the afternoone of the world as they dyed even in the morning, I assure my selfe wold have left more memorable tropheys of that learned Muse whome in their golden numbers they so richly adorned. And amongst our moderne poets who have bene industrious in many an elaborate and ingenious poem, even they whose pennes have had the greatest trafficke with the stage, have bene in the excuse of these Muses most forgetfull. But, leaving these lest I make too large a head to a small body and so mishape my subject, I will begin with the antiquity of acting comedies, tragedies, and histories. And first in the golden world.
spacer7. In the first of the Olimpiads, blue amongst many other active exercises in which Hercules ever triumphed as victor, there was in his nonage presented unto him by his tutor in the fashion of a history, acted by the choyse of the nobility of Greece, the worthy and memorable acts of his father Jupiter.Which, being personated with lively and well-spirited action, wrought such impression in his noble thoughts that in meere emulation of his fathers valor (not at the behest of his stepdame Juno), he perform’d his twelve labours. Him valiant Theseus followed, and Achilles Theseus. Which bred in them such hawty and magnanimous attempts that every succeeding age hath recorded their worths, unto fresh admiration. Aristotle, that prince of philosophers, whose bookes carry such credit even in these our universities that to say ipse dixit is a sufficient axioma, hee, having the tuition of young Alexander, caused the destruction of Troy to be acted before his pupill,in which the valor of Achilles was so naturally exprest that it imprest the hart of Alexander, in so much that all his succeeding actions were meerly shaped after that patterne, and it may be imagined, had Achilles never lived, Alexander had never conquered the whole world. The like assertion may be made of that ever-renowned Roman Julius Caesar, who after the like representation of Alexander in the temple of Hercules standing in Gades was never in any peace of thoughts till by his memorable exployts hee had purchas’d to himselfe the name of Alexander, as Alexander till hee thought himselfe of desert to be called Achilles. Achilles Theseus, Theseus till he had sufficiently imitated the acts of Hercules, and Hercules till hee held himselfe worthy to bee called the son of Jupiter. Why should not the lives of these worthyes, presented in these our dayes, effect the like wonders in the princes of our times, which can no way bee so exquisitly demonstrated nor so lively portrayed as by action. Oratory is a kind of a speaking picture, blue therefore may some say is it not sufficient to discourse to the eares of princes the fame of these conquerors? Painting likewise is a dumbe oratory, therefore may we not as well by some curious Pigmalion drawe their conquests to worke the like love in princes towards these worthyes by shewing them their pictures drawne to the life, as it wrought on the poore painter to bee inamored of his owne shadow? I answer this:

Non magis expressi vultus per ahenia signa blue
Quam per vatis opus, mores animique virorum
Clarorum apparent.

The visage is no better cut in brasse,
Nor can the carver so expresse the face
As doth the poets penne, whose arts surpasse
To giue mens lives and vertues their due grace.

spacer8. A description is only a shadow received by the eare but not perceived by the eye: so lively portrature is meerely a forme seene by the eye, but can neither shew action, passion, motion, or any other gesture to moove the spirits of the beholder to admiration. But to see a souldier shap’d like a souldier, walke, speake, act like a souldier; to see a Hector, all besmered in blood, trampling upon the bulkes of kinges; a Troylus returning from the field in the sight of his father Priam as if man and horse even from the steeds rough fetlockes to the plume in the champions helmet had bene together plunged into a purple ocean; blue to see a Pompey ride in triumph, then a Caesar conquer that Pompey; labouring Hanniball alive hewing his passage through the Alpes — to see, as I have seene, Hercules in his owne shape blue hunting the boare, knocking downe the bull, taming the hart, fighting with Hydra, murdering Gerion, slaughtring Diomed, wounding the Stimphalides, killing the Centaurs, pashing [dashing to the ground] the Lion, squeezing the Dragon, dragging Cerberus in chaynes, and, lastly, on his high pyramides writing nil ultra, oh these were sights to make an Alexander!
spacer9. To turne to our domesticke hystories, what English blood seeing the person of any bold English man presented and doth not hugge his fame and hunnye [fawn] at his valor, pursuing him in his enterprise with his best wishes and, as beeing wrapt in contemplation, offers to him in his hart all prosperous performance, as if the personater were the man personated? So bewitching a thing is lively and well spirited action that it hath power to new mold the harts of the spectators and fashion them to the shape of any noble and notable attempt. What coward to see his contryman valiant would not bee ashamed of his owne cowardise? What English prince should hee behold the true portrature of that famous King Edward the Third foraging France, taking so great a king captive in his owne country, blue quartering the English lyons with the French flower-deluce [fleur de lys], and would not bee suddenly inflam’d with so royall a spectacle, being made apt and fit for the like atchieuement? So of Henry the Fift. blue But not to be tedious in any thing. Ovid in one of his poems holds this opinion, that Romulus was the first that broght plaies into Italy, which he thus sets downe:

Primus sollicitos fecisti, Romule, ludos blue
Cum iurit viduos rapta Rabina viros.
Tunc neque marmoreo pendebant vela theatro

Which wee English thus:

Thou noble Romulus first playes contrives,
To get thy widdowed souldiers Sabine wyves.
In those dayes from the marble house did wave
No saile, no silken flagge, or ensigne brave.
Then was the tragicke stage not painted red, 5
Or any mixed staines on pillers spred.
Then did the sceane want art, th’ unready stage
Was made of grasse and earth in that rude age:
About the which were thicke-leav’d branches placed.
Nor did the autients hold themselves disgraced 10
Of turfe and heathy sods to make their seates
Form’d in degrees of earth and mossy peates.
Thus plac’d in order, every Roman pry’d
Into her face that sate next by his side.
And, closing with her, severally gan move 15
The innocent Sabine women to their love.
And whil'st the piper Thuscus [i. e., the Tuscan piper] rudely plaid,
And by thrice stamping with his foote had made
A signe unto the rest, there was a shout
Whose shrill report pierst all the aire about. 20
Now at a signe of rape given from the king,
Round through the house the lusty Romans fling,
Leaving no corner of the same unsought,
Till every one a frighted virgin caught.
Looke as the trembling dove the eagle flyes, 25
Or a yong lambe when he the woolfe espyes,
So ran the poore girles, filling th’aire with skreekes [shrieks].
Emptying of all the colour their pale cheekes.
One feare possest them all, but not one looke.
This teares her haire, she hath her wits forsooke. 30
Some sadly sit, some on their mothers call,
Some chase, some flye, some stay, but frighted all.
Thus were the ravish’d Sabines blushing led
(Becomming shame!) unto each Romans bed.
If any striv’d against it, streight her man 35
Would take her on his knee (whom feare made wan)
And say, “Why weep’st thou, sweet? What ailes my deere?
Dry up these drops, these clowds of sorrow cleere.
Il’e be to thee, if thou thy griefe wilt smother,
Such as thy father was unto thy mother.” 40
Full well could Romulus his souldiers please,
To give them such faire mistresses as these.
If such rich wages thou wilt give to me, blue
Great Romulus, thy souldier I will be.

spacer10. Romulus, having erected the walles of Rome, and leading under him a warlike nation, being in continuall warre with the Sabines, after the choyce selecting of a place, fit for so famous a citty, and not knowing how to people the same, his traine wholly consisting of suldiers, who without the company of women (they not having any in their army) could not multiply, and red so were likely that their immortall fames should dye issulesse with their mortall bodies. Thus therefore Romulus devised: after a parle and attonement made with the neighbour nations, hee built a theater, plaine according to the time yet large, fit for the entertainement of so great an assembly, and these were they whose famous issue peopled the cittie of Rome, which in after ages grew to such height that not Troy, founded by Dardanus, Carthage layed by Dido, Tyrus [Tyre] built by Agenor, Memphis made by Ogdous, Thebes seated by Cadmus, nor Babylon reared by Semiramis, were any way equall to this situation grounded by Romulus, to which all the discovered kingdomes of the earth after became tributaries. And in the noone-tide of their glory and height of all their honor they edified theaters and amphi-theaters. For in their flourishing common-weale their publike comedians and tragedians most florished, insomuch that the tragicke and comicke poets were all generally admired of the people, and particularly every man of his private Mecenas [his personal patron].
spacer11. In the reigne of Augustus Christ was borne, and as well in his dayes as before his birth, these solemnities were held in the greatest estimation. In Julius Caesars time, predecessor to Augustus, the famous hony-tong'd orator Cicero florished, who, amongst many other his eloquent orations, writ certaine, yet extant, for the comedian Roscius (Pro Roscio Comaedo), of whom we shall speake more large hereafter. These continued in their honour till the reigne of Tiberius Caesar, and under Tiberius Christ was crucified. To this end do I use this assertion, because in the full and perfect time our Saviour sojurned on the earth, even in those happy and peacefull dayes the spacious theaters were in the greatest opinion amongst the Romans, yet neither Christ himselfe, nor any of his sanctified Apostles, in any of their sermons, acts, or documents so much as named them, or upon any abusive occasion touched them. Therefore hence (me thinkes) a very probable and important argument may be grounded, that since they, in their divine wisdomes, knew all the sinnes abounding in the world before that time, taxt and reproved all the abuses reigning in that time, and foresaw all the actions and inconveniences (to the Church prejudiciall) in the time to come; since they (I say) in all their holy doctrines, bookes, and principles of divinity were content to passe them over as things tollerated, and indifferent, why should any nice and over-scrupulous heads, since they cannot ground their curiousnesse [criticism] either upon the Old or New Testament, take upon them to correct, controule, and carpe at that against which they cannot finde any text in the sacred Scriptures?
spacer12. In the time of Nero Caesar, the Apostle Paul was persecuted and suffered. Nero was then Emperour, Paul writ his epistle to the Romans, and at the same time did the theaters most florish amongst the Romans. Yet where can we quote any place in his epistles which forbids [commands] the Church of God then resident in Rome to absent themselves from any such assemblies?
spacer13. To speake my opinion with all indifferency, God hath not enjoyned us to weare all our apparrell solely to defend the cold. Some garments we weare for warmth, others for ornament. So did the children of Israel hang eare-rings in their eares, not was it by the law forbidden them. That purity is not look’t for at our hands, being mortall and humane, that is required of the angels, being celestiall and divine. God made us of earth men, knowes our natures, dispositions and imperfections, and therefore hath limited us a time to rejoyce, as hee hath enjoyned us a time to mourne for our transgressions. And I hold them more scrupulous than well advised that goe about to take from us the use of all moderate recreations. Why hath God ordained for man varietie of meates, dainties and delicates, if not to taste thereon? Why doth the world yeeld choyce of honest pastimes if not decently to use them? Was not the hare made to be hunted, the stagge to be chaced, and so of all other beasts of game in their severall kindes? Since God hath provided us of these pastimes, why may wee not use them to his glory? Now if you aske me why were not the theaters as gorgeously built in all other cities of Italy as Rome, and why are not play-houses maintained as well in other cities of England as London, my answere is it is not meet [fitting] every meane esquire should carry the part belonging to one of the nobility, or for a noble-man to usurpe the estate of a prince. Rome was a metropolis, a place whither all the nations knowne under the sunne, resorted: so is London, and being to receive all estates, all princes, all nations, therefore to affoord them all choyce of pastimes, sports, and recreations. Yet were there theaters in all the greatest cities of the world, as we will more largely particularize hereafter.
spacer14. I never yet could read any history of any commonweale which did not thrive and prosper whilst these publike solemnities were held in adoration. Oh but (say some) Marcus Aurelius banisht all such triviall exercises beyond the confines of Italy. blue Indeed this emperour was a philosopher of the sect of Diogenes, a Cinicke, and whether the hand of Diogenes would become a scepter or a root better, I leave to your judgments. This Aurelius was a great and sharpe reprover who, because the matrons and ladies of Rome in scorne of his person made a play of him, in his time interdicted the use of their theaters. So, because his wife Faustine plaid false with him, he generally exclaimed against all women; because himselfe could not touch an instrument, he banisht all the musitians in Rome, and being a meere coward, put all the gladiators and sword-players into exile. And, lest his owne suspected life should be againe acted by the comedians, as it before had beene by the noble matrons, he profest himselfe adversary to all of that quality. So severe a reformation of the weale publike hee used, restraining the citizens of their free liberties, which till his daies was not seene in Rome. But what profited this the weale publicke? Do but peruse the ancient Roman chronicles and you shall undoubtedly finde that from the time of this precise emperour that stately city, whose lofty buildings crowned seven high hils at once, and over-peered them all, streight way began to hang the head, by degrees the forreigne kingdomes revolted, and the homage done them by strange nations was in a little space quite abrogated. For they governed all the world, some under consuls, some under pro-consuls, presidents and pretors; they divided their dominions and countryes into principalities, some into provinces, some into toparchyes, some into tetrarchyes, some into tribes, others into ethnarchyes. But now their homage ceast. Marcus Aurelius ended their mirth, which presaged that shortly after should begin their sorrow,. He banisht their liberty, and immediatly followed their bondage. For Rome, which till then kept all the nations of the world in subjective awe, was in a little space awd even by the basest nations of the world.
spacer15. To leave Italy and looke backe into Greece, the sages and princes of Grecia, who for the refinednesse of their language were in such reputation through the world that all other tongues were esteemed barbarous, these, that were the first understanders, trained up their youthfull nobility to bee actors, debarring the base mechanickes so worthy imployment. blue For none but the yong heroes were admitted that practise, so to embolden them in the delivuery of any forraine embassy. These wise men of Greece (so called by the oracle) could by their industry finde out no neerer or directer course to plant humanity and manners in the hearts of the multitude then to instruct them by moralized mysteries what vices to avoyd, what vertues to embrace, what enormityes to abandon, what ordinances to observe, whose lives (being for some speciall endowments in former times honoured) they should admire and follow, whose vicious actions (personated in some licentious liver) they should despise and shunne. Which, borne out as well by the wisedome of the poet as supported by the worth of the actors, wrought such impression in the hearts of the plebe that in short space they excelled in civility and governement, insomuch that from them all the neighbour nations drew their patternes of humanity, as well in the establishing of their lawes as the reformation of their manners. These Magi and Gymnosophistae, that liv’d (as I may say) in the childhood and infancy of the world, before it knew how to speake perfectly, thought even in those dayes that action was the neerest way to plant understanding in the hearts of the ignorant. “Yea (but say some) you ought not to confound the habits of either sex as to let your boyes weare the attires of virgins &c.” To which I answere, the Scriptures are not alwayes to be expounded meerely according to the letter (for in such estate stands our mayne sacramentall controversie) but they ought exactly to bee conferred with the purpose they handle. To do as the Sodomites did, use preposterous lusts in preposterous habits, is in that text flatly and severely forbidden, nor can I imagine any man that hath in him any taste of relish of Christianity to be guilty of so abhorred a sinne. Besides, it is not probable that playes were meant in that text, because we read not of any playes knowne in that time that Deuteronomie was writ among the Children of Israel, nor do I hold it lawfull to beguile the eyes of the world in confounding the shapes of either sex, as to keepe any youth in the habit of a virgin, or any virgin in the shape of a lad, to shroud them from the eyes of their fathers, tutors, or protectors, or to any other sinister intent whatsoever. But to see our youths attired in the habit of women, who knowes not what their intents be? Who cannot distinguish them by their names, assuredly knowing they are but to represent such a lady at such a time appoynted?
spacer16. Do not the universities, the fountaines and well-springs of all good arts, learning and documents, admit the like in their colledges? And they (I assure my selfe) are not ignorant of their true use. In the time of my residence in Cambridge, I have seene tragedyes, comedyes, historyes, pastorals and shewes publickly acted, in which graduates of good place and reputation have bene specially parted [assigned parts]. This is held necessary for the emboldening of their junior schollers, to arme them with audacity against they come to bee imployed in any publicke exercise, as in the reading of the Dialecticke, Rhetoricke, Ethicke, Mathematicke, the Physicke, or Metaphysicke lectures, It teacheth audacity to the bashfull grammarian, beeing newly admitted into the private colledge and after matriculated and entred as a member of the university, and makes him a bold sophister [sophomore], to argue pro et contra, to compose his sillogismes cathegoricke, or hypotheticke (simple or compound) to reason and frame a sufficient argument to probe his questions, or to defend any axioma, to distinguish of any dilemma, and be able to moderate in any argumentation whatsoever.
spacer17. To come to Rhetoricke, it not onely emboldens a scholler to speake, but instructs him to speake well and with judgement, to observe his commas, colons and full poynts, his parentheses, his breathing spaces and distinctions, blue to keepe a decorum in his countenance, neither to frown when he should smile nor to make unseemely and disguised faces in the delivery of his words, not to stare with his eies, draw awry his mouth, confound his voice in the hollow of his throat, or teare his words hastily betwixt his teeth, neither to buffet his deske like a mad-man, nor stand in his place like a livelesse image, demurely plodding, and without any smooth and formal motion. It instructs him to fit his phrases to his action and his action to his phrase, blue and his pronuntiation to them both.
spacer18. Tully in his booke Ad Caium Herennium blue requires five things in an orator, Invention, Disposition, Eloquution, Memory, and Pronuntiation, yet all are imperfect without the sixt, which is action. For be his invention never so fluent and exquisite, his disposition and order never so composed and formall, his eloquence and elaborate phrases never so materiall and pithy, his memory never so firme and retentive, his pronuntiation never so musicall and plausive [commendable], yet without a comely and elegant gesture, a gratious and a bewitching kinde of action, a naturall and a familiar motion of the head, the hand, the body, and a moderate and fit countenance sutable to all the rest, I hold all the rest as nothing. A delivery and sweet action is the glosse and beauty of any discourse that belongs to a scholler. And this is the action behoovefull in any that professe this quality, not to use any impudent or forced motion in any part of the body, no rough, or other violent gesture, nor, on the contrary, to stand like a stiffe starcht man, but to qualifie every thing according to the nature of the person personated. For in overacting trickes, and toyling too much in the anticke habit of humors, men of the ripest desert, greatest opinions, and best reputations may breake into the most violent absurdities. I take not upon me to teach, but to advise, for it becomes my juniority rather to be pupild my selfe then to instruct others.
spacer19. To proceed, and to looke into those men that professe themselves adversaries to this quality, they are none of the gravest and most ancient doctors of the academy, but onely a sort of finde-faults, such as interest their prodigall tongues in all mens affaires without respect. These I have heard as liberally in their superficiall censures taxe the exercises performed in their colledges as these acted on our publicke stages, not looking into the true and direct use of either, but ambitiously preferring their owne presumptuous humors before the profound and authenticall judgements of all the learned doctors of the uni ersitie. Thus you see that, touching the antiquity of actors and acting, they have not beene new lately begot by any upstart invention, but I have derived them from the first Olimpiads, and I shall continue the use of them even till this present age. And so much touching their antiquity.

Pars superest coepti, pars est exhausta laboris. blue

The end of the first Booke.


ULIUS Caesar the famous conquerour, discoursing with Marcus Cicero the famous orator, amongst many other matters debated, it pleased the emperour to aske his opinion of the histriones, the players of Rome, pretending some cavell against them, as men whose imployment in the common-weale was unnecessary. To whom Cicero answered thus: “Content thee, Caesar, there bee many heads busied and bewitched with these pastimes now in Rome, which otherwise would be inquisitive after thee and thy greatnesse.” Which answere how sufficiently the emperour approved may bee conjectured by the many guifts bestowed and priviledges and charters after granted to men of that quality. Such was likewise the opinion of a great statesman of this land about the time that certaine bookes were called in question. blue Doubtlesse there be many men of that temper who were they not carried away and weaned from their owne corrupt and bad disposition, and by accidentall meanes removed and altered from their dangerous and sullen intendments, would be found apt and prone to many notorious and trayterous practises. Kings and monarches are by God placed and inthroaned supra nos, above us, and we are to regard them as the sun from whom we receive the light to live under, whose beauty and brightnesse we may onely admire, not meddle with. Ne ludamus cum diis [“let us not make sport with the gods”], they that shoot at the starres over their heads, their arrowes fall directly downe and wound themselves. But this allusion may bee better referred to the use of action promised in our third treatise. Then to their dignity, which next and immediatly (by Gods grace) our purpose is to handle. The word tragedy is derived from the Greeke word τράγος, caper, a goat, because the goat, being a beast most injurius to the vines, was sacrificed to Bacchus: Heer upon Diodorus blue writes that tragedies had their first names from the oblations due to Bacchus; or else of τρύξ, a kinde of painting, which the tragedians of the old time used to stayne their faces with. blue
spacer2. By the censure {In the opinion] of Horace, Thespis was the first tragicke writer: blue

Ignotum tragice genus invenisse Camenae
Dicitur, et plaustris vexisse poemata Thespis.

The unknowne tragicke Muse Thespis first sought,
And her high poems in her chariot brought.

This Thespis was an Athenian poet, borne in Thespina, a free towne in Boetia by Helicon,. Of him the nine Muses were called Thespiades. But by the censure of Quintilian, blue Aeschiles was before him, but after them Sophocles and Euripides clothed their tragedies in better ornament.
spacer3. Livus Andronicus was the first that writ any Roman tragedy, in which kinde of poesie Accius, Pacuvius, Seneca, and Ovidius blue excelled:

Sceptra tamen sumpsi curaque tragedia nostra blue
Crevit, at huic operi quamlibet aptus eram.

The sceptred tragedy then proov’d our wit,
And to that worke we found us apt and fit.

Againe, in his fift Booke De Tristibus, Eleg. 8: blue

Carmen quod vestro saltari nostra theatro
Versibus et plaudi scribis (amice) mei

Deere friend, thou writ’st our Muse is ’mongst you song,
And in your theaters with plaudits rong.

Likewise in his epistle to Augustus writ from the Ponticke island whither he was banisht:

Et dedimus tragicis scriptum regale tyrannis, blue
spacerQuaeque gravis debet verba cothurnus habet.

With royall stile speakes our cothurnate Muse,
A buskind phrase in buskin’d playes we use.

spacer4. The word comedy is derived from the Greeke word κόμος, a street, and ὠδή, cantus, a song, a street song, as signifying there was ever mirth in those streets where comedies most florisht.

Haec paces habuere bonae ventique secundi. blue

In this kinde Aristophanes, Eupolis, Cratinus were famous, after them Menander and Philemon, succeeding them Cicilius, Nevius, Plautus and Terentius:

.Musaque Turani tragicis innixa cothurnis blue
spacerEt tua cum socco Musa, Melisse levis.

Turanus tragicke buskin grac’d the play,
Melissa’es comicke shooe made lighter way.

The ancient histriographers write that among the Greekes there were divers places of exercise appointed for poets, some at the grave of Theseus, others at Helicon, where they in comedies and tragedies contended for several prises, where Sopocles was adjudged victor over Aeschilus,. There were others in the citty of Elis, where Menander was foyled by Philomene. In the same kinde Hesiod is sayd to have triumpht ouvr Homer. So Corinna for her excellencies in these inventions, (called Musca Lyrica [“The Tuneful Fly”]) excelled Pindarus the Theban poet, for which she was five times crowned with garlands.
spacer5. The first publicke theater was by Dionysius blue built in Athens. It was fashioned in the manner of a semi-circle or halfe-moone, whose galleries and degrees were reared from the ground, their staires high, in the midst of which did arise the stage, beside such a convenient distance from the earth that the audience assembled might easily behold the whole project without impediment. From this the Romanes had their first patterne, which at the first not being roof’t, but lying open to all weathers, Quintus Catulus was the first that caused the out-side to bee covered with linnen cloth and the inside to bee hung round with curtens of silke. But when Marcus Scaurus was aedilis [aedile] hee repaired it and supported it round with pillers of marble
spacer6. Caius Curio, at the solemne obsequies of his father, erected a famous theater of timber in so strange a forme that on two severall stages two sundry playes might bee acted at once, and yet the one bee no hinderance or impediment to the other; and when hee so pleased the whole frame was artificially composed to meet in the middest, which made an amphi-theater.
spacer7. Pompey the great, after his victories against Methridates King of Pontus, saw in the citty Mitelene a theater of another forme, and after his triumphes and returne to Rome he raised one after the same patterne, of free stone, of that vastnesse and receit [capacity] that within his spaciousnesse it was able at once to receive fourescore thousand people, every one to sit, see and heare.
spacer8. In emulation of this sumptuous and gorgious building, Julius Caesar, successor to Pompeyes greatnesse, exceeded him in his famous architecture. Hee raised an amphitheater Campo Martio, in the field of Mars, which as farre excelled Pompeyes as Pompeyes did exceed Caius Curioes, Curioes that of Marcus Scaurus, Scaurus that of Quintus Catulus, or Catulus that which was first made in Athens by Dionysius. For the basses, columnes, pillars, and pyramides were all of hewed marble, the coverings of the stage, which wee call the heavens (where upon any occasion their gods descended) were geometrically supported by a giant-like Atlas, whom the poets for his astrology feigne to beare heaven on his shoulders, in which an artificiall sunne and moone of extraordinary aspect and brightnesse had their diurnall and nocturnall motions; so had the starres their true and coelestiall course; so had the spheares, which in ther continuall motion made a most sweet and ravishing harmony. Here were the elements and planets in their degrees, the sky of the moone, the sky of Mercury, Venus, Sol, Mars, Jupiter and Saturne, the starres, both fixed and wandering, and above all these the first mover or primum mobile,. There were the 12 signes, the lines equinoctiall and zodiacal, the meridian circle or zenith, the orizon circle or emisphere, the zones torrid amd frozen, the poles articke and antarticke, with all other tropickes, orbs, lines, circles, the solstitium and all other motions of the stars, signes [constellations], and planets. In briefe, in that little compasse were comprehended the perfect modell of the firmament, the whole frame of the heavens, with all grounds of astronomicall conjecture. From the roofe grew a loover or turret of an exceedding altitude, from which an ensigne of silke waved continually, pendebant vela theatro. But lest I waste too much of that compendiousnesse I have promised in my discourse in idle descriptions, I leave you to judge the proportion of the body by the making of this one limbe, every piller, seat, foot-post, staire, gallery, and whatsoever else belongs to the furnishing of such a place, being in cost, substance, forme, and artificiall workmanship most sutable. The floore, stage, roofe, out-side, and in-side, as costly as the Pantheon or Capitols. blue In the principall galleries were special remote, selected &and chosen seats for the emperour, patres conscripti, dictators, consuls, pretors, tribunes, triumviri, decemviri, ediles, curules, and other noble officers among the senators. All other roomes were free for the plebe or multitude. To this purpose I introduce these famous edifices as wondring at their cost and state, thus intimating that, if the quality of acting were (as some propose) altogether unworthy, why for the speciall practise and memorable imployment of the same were founded so many rare and admirable monuments. And by whom were they erected but by the greatest princes of their times, and the most famous and worthiest of them all, builded by him that was the greatest prince of the world, Julius Caesar, at what time in his hand he grip’t the universal empire of the earth? So of Augustus Caesar:

Inspice ludorum sumptus, Auguste, tuorum blue
spacerEmpta tibi magno —

Behold, Augustus, the great pompe and state
Of these thy playes payd deere for, at hye rate.

Tu spectasti spectandaque saepe dedisti. red

spacer9. And could any inferiour quality bee more worthily esteemed or noblier graced then to have princes of such magnificence and state to bestow on them places of such port and countenance,? Had they been never well regarded they had been never so sufficiently provided for, nor would such worthy princes have strivd who should (by their greatest expence and provision) have done them the amplest dignity, had they not with incredible favour regarded the quality. I will not traverse this too farre, least I incurre some suspition of selfe-love, I rather leave it to the favourable consideration of the wise, though to the perversnesse of the ignorant, who had they any taste either of poseie, phylosophy, or historicall antiquity would rather stand mated at [checkmated by] their owne impudent ignorance then against such noble, and notable examples stand in publicke defiance. I read of a theater built in the midst of the river Tyber, standing on pillers and arches, the foundation wrought under water like London-bridge, the nobles and ladyes in their barges and gondelayes [gondolas] landed at the very stayres of the galleryes. After these they composed others, but differing in forme from the theater or amphi-theater, and every such was called circus, the frame globe-like, and merely round:

Circus in hunc exit clamataque palma theatris . red blue

spacer10. And the yeare from the first building of Rome five hundred threescore and seven, what time Spurius Posthumus Albinus and Quintus Martius Philippus, were consuls, Nero made one, and the noble Flaminius another, but the greatest was founded by Tarquinius Priscus, and was called Circus Maximus In this the gladiators practised. The widenesse and spaciousnesse was such that in it they fought at barriers [their starting gates], and many times ran at tilt. Dion blue records eighteene elephants slaine at once in one theater. More particularly to survey the rarer monuments of Rome, neere to the Pantheon (the temple of the Roman gods) at the discent from the hil Capitolinus lies the great Forum, by which is scituate the great amphi-theater of Tytus, first erected by Vespatian, but after (almost ruined by fire) by the Roman Tytus rarely reedified. It is called Colliseus, also a cavea, which signifies a scaffold, blue also arena, a place of combate, by Silvianus and Prudentius, which name Tertullian, Pliny, Ovid, Firmicus, and Apuleius likewise give it. It had the title of circus, caula, and stadium, by Suetonius, Capitolinus and Arcadius. Cassianus affirmes these theaters consecrated to Diana Taurica, Tertullian, to Mars and Diana, Martiall to Jupiter Latiaris and to Stigian Pluto, whose opinion Minutius and Prudentius approve. The first structures were by the tribune Curio, blue which Dio, lib. 37. affirmes. Vitruvius lib. 5. saith, blue multa theatra Romae red structa quotannis. Of Julius Caesars amphi-theater Campo Martio Dio Cassius records, blue which Augustus after patronized, as Victor remembers of them, whose charge Statlius Taurus assisted, of whom Dio speaketh thus, ὸ Ταῦρος Στατίλιος θέατρον &c. anno urbis DCCXXV. blue Pub. Victor forgets not Circus Flamiinii, and Suetonius blue remembers one builded by Caligula at Septa, whose building Claudius at first interdicted.Nero erected a magnificent theater in the field of Mars.
spacer11. Publius Victor speakes further of a castrense theatrum, a theater belonging to the campe, in the country of the Aesquiles, built by Tiberius Caesar , and of Pompies theater Pliny witnesseth. blue The great theater of Statilius, being in greatest use, was burnt in the time of Nero, which Xiphilinus thus speakes of, τό τε παλάτιον, τὸ ὄρος σύμπαν καὶ τὸ θέατρον τοῦ Ταύρου ἐκαύθη.red blue This was built in the middest of the old citty, and after the combustion repaired by Vespatian consulatu suo 8, whose coyne of one side beares the expresse figure of his theater, yet was it onely begun by him, but perfected by his sonne Tytus. Eutropius and Cassiodorus attribute this place soly to Titus, but Aurelius Victor gives him onely the honour of the perfecting a place so exquisitely begun, This after was repaired by Marcus Anthonius Pius, by whose cost, sayth Capitolinus, blue the temple of Hadrianus was repaired and the great theater reedified, which Heliogabalus, by the testimony of Lampridius, blue patronized, and after the Senate of Rome tooke to their protection under the Gordians.
spacer12. Touching theaters without Rome, Lypsius records theatra circa Romani, extructa passim, blue even in Jerusalem, Herodes magnificus et illustris rex non vuno loco Iudeae amphi-heatra aedificavit, extruxit in ipsa urbe sacra (as Josephus saith). blue Herod, a magnificent and illustrious king, not in one place of Judea erected amphitheaters, but even in the holy citty hee built one of greatest receit. Also in Greece, Asia, Affricke, Spaine, France, nor is there any province in which their ancient structures do not yet remaine or their perishing ruines are not still remembred. In Italy, ad Lyrim Campaniae fluvium iuxta Minturnas, remaines part of an ample amphi-theater.
spacer At Puteolis, a city by the sea-side in Campania, 8 miles from Naples, one.
spacer At Capua, a magnificent one of sollid marble.
spacerAt Alba in Italy, one.
spacer At Oriculum in Umbria one.
spacer At Verona, one most beautifull.
spacer At Florens, one whose compasse yet remaines.
spacer At Athens in Greece, one of marble.
spacerAt Pola in Istria, by the Hadriaticke sea, one described by Sebastian Serlius.
spacer At Hyspalis in Spaine, one built without the walles of the citty.
spacerIn at one of squared stone, the length 30 perches or poles, the bredth 2.
spacer At Arelate one.
spacer At Burdegall one
spacer .At Nemaus one, remembred by Eusebius. in Ecclesiasica Historia.
spacer At Lygeris one.
spacer Another among the Helvetians.
spacerspacer13. The Vernese theatrum marmoreum, erected before the time of Augustus, as Torellus Seayna in his description of Verna records. But Cyrnicus Anconitanus reports it built in the nine and thirtieth yeare of Octavian. Carolus Sigonius referres it to the reigne of Maximinian, blue who saith, Maximinian built theaters in Mediolanum, Aquilea, and Brixium. The like Cornelius Tacitus 2. Hist. remembers in Placentia, blue the description of the Verona theater Levinus Kersmakerus sets downe. This the great King Francis anno 1539 gave to certaine actors, who thirty dayes space together represented in the same the Acts of the Apostles, nor was it lawfull by the edict of the king for any man to remove any stone within thirty poles of his scituation, lest they should endanger the foundation of the theater.
spacer14. The like have been in Venice, Millan, blue Padua. In Paris ther are divers now in use by the French kings comedians, as the Burgonian and others. Others in Massilia, in Trevers, in Magontia, in Agripina, and infinite cities of Greece, Thebes, Carthage, Delphos, Creet, Paphos, Epyrus, also in the citie Tydena. So at Civil in Spaine, and at Madrill, with others.
spacer15. At the entertainement of the Cardinall Alphonsus, Archduke Alphonsus., and the Infant of Spaine into the Low-countryes, they were presented at Antwerpe, with sundry pageants and playes. The King of Denmark, father to him that now reigneth, entertained into his service a company of English comedians commended unto him by the honourable the Earle of Leicester. The Duke of Brounswicke and the Landsgrave {Landgraf] of Hesse retaine in their courts entertaine certaine of ours of the same quality. blue But among the Romans they were in highest reputation, for in comparison of their playes they never regarded any of their solemnities, there ludi funebres, blue their Floralia, Cerealia, Fugalia, Bachinalia, or Lupercalia.
spacer16. And amongst us one of our best English chroniclers records, that when Edward the Fourth would shew himselfe in publicke state to the view of the people, hee repaired to his palace at S. Johnes, where he accustomed to see the citty actors. And since then that house, by the princes free gift, hath belonged to the office of the Revels, where our court playes have beene in late daies yearely rehersed, perfected, and corrected before they come to the publike view of the prince and the nobility. Ovid, speaking of the tragicke Muse, thus writes.

Venit et ingenti violenta tragedia passu, blue
spacerFronte comae torva palla iacebat humi.
Laeva manus sceptrum late regale tenebat,
spacerLydius apta pedum vincta cothurnus habet.

Then came the tragicke Muse with a proud pace,
Measuring her slow strides with majesticke grace.
Her long traine sweepes the earth, and she doth stand,
With buskin’d legge, rough brow, and sceptred hand.

spacer17. Well knew the poet what estimation she was in with Augustus when he describes her holding in her left hand a scepter. Now to recite some famous actors that lived in the preceding ages, the first comedians were Cincius and Falisius, the first tragedians were Minutius, and Prothonius. Elius Donatus in his preface to Terence his Andrea saith that in that comedy Lucius Attilius, Latinus Prenestinus, and Lucius Ambivius Turpio were actors,: this comedy was dedicated to Cibil [Cybele], and such were called ludi Megalenses, acted in the yeare that M. Fuluius was edilis and Quintus Minutius Valerius and M. Glabrio were curules, which were counsellers and chiefe officers in Rome, so called because they customably sate in chayres of ivory. The songs that were sung in this comedy were set by Flaccus, the sonne of Clodius. Terence his Eunuchus or second comedy was acted in the yeare L. Posthumus, and L. Cornelius were edili curules, Marcus Valerius and Caius Fannius consuls. The yeare from the building of Rome 291, in his Adelphi one Protinus acted and was highly applauded, in his Hecyra Julius Servius. Cicero commends one Rupilius, blue a rare tragedian. I read of another called Arossus, another called Theocrines, who purchased him a great applause in the playes called Terentiniblue There were other playes in Rome called Actia and Pythia, made in the honour of Apollo for killing the dragon Python. In those one Aesopus bare the praise, a man generally esteemed, who left behind him much substance, which Clodius his sonne after possest:

Quae gravis Aesopus, quae doctus Roscius egit. red blue

spacer18. Labericus was an excellent poet, and a rare actor, who writ a booke of the gesture and action to be used by the tragedians and comedians in performance of every part in his natiue humor. Plautus himselfe was so inamored of the actors in his dayes that hee published many excellent and exquisite comedies yet extant. Aristotle  commends one Theodoretes blue to be the best tragedian in his time. This in the presence of Alexander personated Achilles, which so delighted the emperour that hee bestowed on him a pension of quinque mille drachmae, five thousand drachmaes, and every thousand drachmaes are twenty nine pounds, three shillings, foure pence sterling.
spacer19. Roscius, red  whom the eloquent orator and excellent statesman of Rome Marcus Cicero blue for his elegant pronuntiation and formall gesture called his jewell, had from the common tresury of the Roman exchequer a daily pention allowed him of so many sestertiji as in our coine amount to 16 pound and a marke or thereabouts, which yearely did arise to any noble mans revenues. So great was the fame of this Roscius, and so good his estimation, that learned Cato made a question whether Cicero could write better then Roscius could speake and act, or Roscius speake and act better then Cicero write. Many times when they had any important orations, to be with an audible and loud voyce delivered to the people, they imployed the tongue and memory of this excellent actor, to whom for his worth the senate granted such large exhibition:

spacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacer—quae pervincere voces, blue
Evaluere sonum referunt quem nostra theatra?
Gorganum mugire putes nemus aut mare Thuscum,
Tanto cum strepitu ludi spectantur et artes.

What voyce can be compared with the sound
Our theaters from their deepe concaves send?
For their reverberate murmures seeme to drownd
The Gorgan wood when the proud windes contend,
Or when rough stormes the Thuscan billowes raise,
With such loud joy they ring, our arts and playes.

spacer20. To omit all the doctors, zawnyes [zanies], Pantaloones, blue Harlakeenes, in which the French, but especially the Italians, have beene excellent, and according to the occasion offered to do some right to our English actors, as Knell, Bently, Mils, Wilson, Crosse, Lanam, and others, these, since I never saw them, as being before my time, I cannot (as an eye-witnesse of their desert) give them that applause which no doubt they worthily merit, yet by the report of many juditial auditors their performance of many parts have been so absolute that it were a kinde of sinne to drowne their worths in Lethe and not commit their (almost forgotten) names to eternity. Heere I must needs remember Tarleton, blue in his time gratious with the Queene his soveraigne, and in the peoples generall applause, whom succeeded Wil. Kemp, as wel in the favour of her majesty as in the opinion and good thoughts of the generall audience. Gabriel, Singer, Pope, Phillips, Sly, all the right I can do them is but this, that though they be dead, their deserts yet live in the remembrance of many. Among so many dead let me not forget one yet alive in his time the most worthy, famous Maister Edward Allen. To omit these, as also such as for divers imperfections may be thought insufficient for the quality, actors should be men pick’d out personable, according to the parts they present; they should be either red that, though they cannot speake well, know how to speake, or else to have that volubility that they can speake well, though they understand not what and so both imperfections may by instructions be helped and amended. But where a good tongue and a good conceit both faile there can never be good actor.
spacer21. I also could wish that such as are condemned for their licentiouanesse might by a generall consent bee quite excluded our society. For as we are men that stand in the broad eye of the world, so should our manners, gestures, and behaviours savour of such government and modesty to deserve the good thoughts and reports of all men, and to abide the sharpest censures even of those that are the greatest opposites to the quality. Many amongst us I know to be of substance, of government, of sober lives and temperate carriages, house-keepers, and contributary to all duties enjoyned them, equally with them that are rank’t with the most bountifull. And if amongst so many of sort there be any few degenerate from the rest in that good demeanor which is both requisite and expected at their hands, let me entreat you not to censure hardly of all for the misdeeds of some, but rather to excuse us, as Ovid doth the generality of women:

Parcite paucarum diffundere crimen in omnes, blue
spacerSpectetur meritis quae{que} puella suis.

For some offenders (that perhaps are few).
Since every breast containes a sundry spirit,
Spare in your thoughts to censure all the crew,
Let every one be censur’d as they merit.

Others there are of whom should you aske my opinion, I must refer you to this, consule theatrum [“consult the theater”]
spacer22. Here I might take fit opportunity to reckon up all our English writers, and compare them with the Greeke, French, Italian, and Latine poets, not only in their pastorall, historicall, elegeicall and heroicall poems, but in their tragicall and comicals subjects, but it was my chance to happen on the like learnedly done by an approved good scholler in a booke called Wits Comon-wealth, blue to which treatise I wholy referre you, returning to our present subject. Julius Caesar himselfe for his pleasure became an actor, blue being in shape, state, voyce, judgement and all other occurrents exterior and interior excellent. Amongst many other parts acted by him in persom, it is recorded of him, that with generall applause in his owne theater he played Hercules Furens, and amongst many other arguments of his compleatnesse, excellence, and extraordinary care in his action, it is thus reported of him: being in the depth of a passion, one of his servants (as his part then fell out) presenting Lychas, who before had from Deianeira brought him the poysoned shirt dipt in the bloud of the Centaure Nessus, he in the middest of his torture and fury finding this Lychas hid in a remote corner (appoynted him to creep into of purpose) although he was, as our tragedians use, but seemingly to kill him by some false imagined wound, yet was Caesar so extremely carryed away with the violence of his practised fury and by the perfect shape of the madnesse of Hercules, to which he had fashioned all his active spirits, that he slew him dead at his foot, and after swoong [beating] him terque quaterque (as the poet sayes) blue about his head.
spacer 23. It was the manner of their emperours, in those dayes, in their publicke tragedies to choose out the fittest amongst such as for capital offences were condemned to dye, and imploy them in such parts as were to be kil’d in the tragedy, who of themselves would make suit rather so to dye with resolution and by the hands of such princely actors then otherwise to suffer a shamefull and most detestable end. And these were tragedies naturally performed. And such Caius Caligula, Claudius Nero, Vitellius, Domitianus, Commodus and other Emperours of Rome, upon their festivals and holy daies of greatest consecration, used to act. Therefore M. Kid in The Spanish Tragedy, upon occasion presenting it selfe, thus writes.

Why Nero thought it no disparagement, blue
And kings and emperours have tane delight
To make experience of their wits in playes.

These exercises as traditions have beene since (though in better manner) continued through all ages, amongst all the noblest nations of the earth. But I have promised to be altogether compendious, presuming that what before is discourst may for the practise of playes, their antiquity and dignity be altogether sufficient. I omit the shewes and ceremonies even in these times generally used amongst the Catholikes, in which by the churchmen and religious divers pageants, as of the Nativity, Passion, and Ascention, with other historicall places of the Bible, are at divers times and seasons of the yeare usually celebrated. Sed haec praeter me.
spacer24. In the yeare of the world 4207, of Christ 246,  writ certaine godly epistles to Philip, then emperour of Rome, who was the first Christian emperour, and in his life I reade that in the fourth yeare of his reigne, which was the 1000 yeare after the building of Rome, he solemnized that yeare as a jubilee with sumptuous pageants and playes. Homer, the most excellent of all Poets, composed his Illias in the shape of a tragedy, his Odisseas like a comedy. Virgil in the first of his Aeneiads, in his description of Didoes Carthage:

spacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacerspacer Hic alta theatris blue
Fundamenta locant alii immanesque columnas,
Rupibus excidunt scenis decora alta futuris.

Which proves that in those dayes immediatly after the ruine of Troy, when Carthage had her first foundation, they built theaters with stately columnes of stone, as in his description may appeare.
spacer25. I have sufficiently discourst of the first theaters and in whose times they were erected, even till the reigne of Julius Caesar the first emperour, and how they continued in their glory from him till the reigne of Marcus Aurelius the 23 emperour, and from him even to these times. Now to prove they were in as high estimation at Lacedemon and Athens, two the most famous citties of Greece. Cicero in his booke Cato Maior seu de Senectute, blue Cum Athenis ludis quidam grandis natu in theatrum venisset &c. an ancient citizen comming into one of the Athenian theaters to see the pastimes there solemnized (which shewes that the most antient and grave frequented them) by reason of the throng, no man gave him place or reverence, but the same citizen being implyo'd in an embassy to Lacedemon, and coming like a private man into the theater, the generall multitude arose at once and with great ceremonious reverence gave his age place. This Cicero alledges to prove the reverence due to age, and this I may fitly introduce to the approbation of my present subject. Moreover, this great statesman of Rome, at whose exile twenty thousand of the chiefest Roman citizens wore mourning apparrel, oftentimes commends Plautus, calling him Plautus noster and Atticorum antiqua comedia, where he proceeds further to extoll. Aesopus for personating Ajax, and the famous actor Rupilius, in Epigonus, Medea, Melanippe, red Clytemnestra and Antiopa, proceeding in the same place with this worthy and grave sentence, Ergo histrio hoc videbit in scena, quod non videbit sapiens in vita? shall a tragedian see that in his scene which a wise man cannot see in the course of his life? So in another of his workes, blue amongst many instructions to his sonne Marcus, he applauds Turpio Ambinius for his action, Statius, Nevius, and Plautus for their writing. Ovid in Augustum:

Luminibusque tuis totus quibus utitur orbis blue
spacerScenica vidisti lusus adulteria.

Those eyes with which you all the world suvuay,
See in your theaters our actors play.

spacer26. Augustus Caesar, because he would have some memory of his love to those places of pastime, reared in Rome two stately obelisci or pyramides, one in Julius Caesars temple in the Field of Mars, another in the great theater called Circus Maximus, built by Flaminius. These were in height an hundred cubits apeece, in bredth foure cubits. They were first raised by King Pheron in the temple of the sunne and after removed to Rome by Augustus. The occasion of their first composure was this: Pheron for some great crime committed by him in his youth against the gods, was by them strooke blinde and so continued the space of ten yeares. But after, by a revelation in the citty Buci,s it was told that if he washt his eyes in the water of a woman that was chaste and never adulterately touch’t with any save her husband, he should againe recover his sight. The king first tride his wife, then many other of the most grave and best reputed matrons, but continued still in despaire, till at length hee met with one vertuous lady by whose chastity his sight was restored; whom (having first commanded his queene and the rest to be consumed with fire) he after married. Pheron in memory of this builded his two pyramides, after removed to Rome by Augustus:

Sanctaque maiestas et erat venerabile nomen blue

The end of the second Booke.


RAGEDIES and comedies, saith Donatus, had their beginning a rebus divinis, from divine sacrifices, they differ thus: in comedies, turbulenta prima, tranquilla ultima, in tragedyes, tranquilla prima, turbulenta ultima, vomedies begin in trouble, and end in peace, tragedies begin in calmes and end in tempest. Of comedies there be three kindes, moving comedies, called motoriae, standing comedies, called statariae, or mixt betwixt both, called mistae. They are distributed into foure parts, the Prologue, that is, the Preface; the Protasis, that is, the proposition, which includes the first Act, and presents the actors; the Epitasis, which is the businesse and body of the comedy; the last the Catastrophe, and conclusion. The definition of the comedy, according to the Latins: a discourse consisting of divers institutions, comprehending civill and domesticke things, in which is taught what in our lives and manners is to be followed, what to bee avoyded. The Greekes define it thus: κωμῳδία ἔστιν ἰδωτικῶν καὶ πολιτικῶν πραγμάτων ἀκίνδυνος περιοχή. red blue Cicero saith a comedy is the imitation of life, the glasse of custome, and the image of truth. In Athens they had their first originall. The ancient comedians used to attire their actors thus: the old men in white as the most ancient of all; the yong men in party-coloured garments to note their diversity of thoughts; their slaves and servants in thin and bare vesture, either to note their poverty or that they might run the more lighter about their affaires; their parrasites wore robes that were turned in and intricately wrapped about them, the fortunate in white, the discontented in decayed vesture or garments growne out of fashion; the rich in purple, the poore in crimson; souldiers wore purple jackets; hand-maids the habits of strange virgins, bawds pide coates, and curtezans garments of the colour of mud to denote their covetousnesse. The stages were hung with rich arras, which was first brought from King Attalus into Rome: his state-hangings were so costly that from him all tapestries and rich arras were called Attalia. This being a thing ancient, as I have proved it, next of dignity, as many arguments have confirmed it, and now even in these dayes by the best, without exception, favourably tollerated, why should I yeeld my censure, grounded on such firme and establisht sufficiency, to any tower founded on sand, any castle built in the aire, or any triviall upstart and meere imaginary opinion?

Oderunt hilarem tristes tristemque iocosi.

spacer2. I hope there is no man of so unsensible a spirit that can inveigh against the true and direct use of this quality. “Oh,” but say they, “the Romanes in their time and some in these dayes have abused it, and therefore we volly out our exclamations against the use.” Oh shallow! Because such a man had his house burnt we shall quite condemne the use of fire, because one man quaft poyson we must forbeare to drinke, because some have beene shipwrak’t no man shall hereafter trafficke by sea. Then I may as well argue thus: he cut his finger, therefore must I weare no knife; yond man fell from his horse, therefore must I travell a foot; that man surfeited, therfore dare not I eate. What can appeare more absurd then such a grosse and sencelesse assertion? I could turne this unpoynted weapon against his breast that aimes it at mine, and reason thus: Roscius had a large pension allowed him by the senate of Rome, why should not a actor of the like desert have the like allowance now, or this, the most famous city and nation in the world, hold playes in great admiration? Ergo, but it is a rule in Logicke, ex particularibus nihil fit. No These are not the basses we must build upon, nor the columnes that must support our architecture:

Et latro et cautus precingitur ense viator.
spacerIlle sed insidiis sic sibi portat opem.

Both theeves and true-men weapons weare alik,
Th’one to defend, the other comes to strike.

Let us use fire to warme us, not to scortch us, to make ready our necessaries, not to burne our houses. Let us drinke to quench our thirst, not to surfet, and eate to satisfie nature, not to gormondize“

spacerspacerspacerspacerspacerComedia recta si mente legatur,
spacerConstabit nulli posse nocere.

Playes are in use as they are understood,
Spectators eyes may make them bad or good.

spacer3. Shall we condemne a generallity for any one particular misconstruction? Give me then leave to argue thus: amongst kings have there not beene some tyrants? Yet the office of a king is the image of the majesty of God. Amongst true subjects have there not crept in some false traitors? Euen amongst the twelve there was one Judas, but shall we for his fault, censure worse of the eleven? God forbid:. At thou prince or peasant? Art thou of the nobility or commonalty? Art thou merchant or souldier? Of the citty or country? Art thou preacher or auditor? Art thou tutor or pupill? There have beene of thy function bad and good, prophane and holy. I induce these instances to confirme this common argument, that the use of any generall thing is not for any one particular abuse to be condemned, for if that assertion stood firme, wee should run into many notable inconveniences.

Quis locus est templis augustior? Hanc quoque vitet,
spacerIn culpam siqua est ingeniosa suam

spacer4. To proceed to the matter: first, playing is an ornament to the citty, which strangers of all nations, repairing hither, report of in their countries, beholding them here with some admiration. For what variety of entertainment can there be in any citty of Christendome more then in London? But some will say this dish might be very well spared out of the banquet. To him I answere: Diogenes, that used too feede on rootes, cannot relish a march-pane {marzipan]. Secondly, our English tongue, which hath ben the most harsh, uneven, and broken language of the world, part Dutch, part Irish, Saxon, Scotch, Welsh, and indeed a gallimaffry [potpourri] of many but perfect in none, is now by this secondary meanes of playing continually refined, every writer striving in himselfe to adde a new florish unto it, so that in processe from the most rude and unpolisht tongue it is growne to a most perfect and composed language, and many excellent workers and elaborate poems writ in the same, that many nations grow inamored of our tongue (before despised.) Neither Saphicke, Ionicke, iambicke, Phaleuticke, Adonicke, gliconicke, hexamiter, tetramiter, pentamiter, Asclepediacke, choriambicke, nor any other measured verse used amongst the Greekes, Latins, Italians, French, Dutch, or Spanish writers but may be exprest in English, be it in blanke verse or meeter, in distichon or hexastichon, or in what forme or feet, or what number you can desire. Thus you see to what excellency our refined English is brought that in these daies we are ashamed of that euphony and eloquence which within these 60 yeares the best tongues in the land were proud to pronounce. Thirdly, playes have made the ignorant more apprehensive, taught the unlearned the knowledge of many famous histories, instructed such as cannot reade in the discovery of all our English chronicles, and what man have you now of that weake capacity that cannot discourse of any notable thing recorded even from William the Conquerour, nay from the landing of Brute untill this day, beeing possest of their true use? For, because playes are writ with this ayme and carryed with this methode to teach the subjects obedience to their King, to shew the people the untimely ends of such as have moved tumults, commotions, and insurrections, to present them with the flourishing estate of such as live in obedience, exhorting them to allegeance, dehorting [discouraging] them from all trayterous and fellonious stratagems:

Omne genus scripti gravitate tragedia vincit.

spacer5. If we present a tragedy, we include the fatall and abortive ends of such as commit notorious murders, which is aggravated and acted with all the art that may be to terrifie men from the like abhorred practises; if wee present a forreigne history, the subject is so intended that in the lives of Romans, Grecians or others, either the vertues of our country-men are extolled or their vices reproved, as thus by the example of Caesar to stir souldiers to valour and magnanimity, by the fall of Pompey that no man trust in his owne strength. We present Alexander killing his friend in his rage to reprove rashnesse, Mydas choked with his gold to taxe covetousnesse, Nero against tyranny, Sardanapalus against luxury:, Nynus against ambition, with infinite others, by sundry instances either animating men to noble attempts or attaching the consciences of the spectators, finding themselves toucht in presenting the vices of others. If a morall, it is to perswade men to humanity and good life, to instruct them in civility and good manners, shewing them the fruits of honesty and the end of villany:

Versibus exponi tragicis res comica non vult.


Et nostri proavi Plautinos et numeros et
Laudavere sales.

spacer6. If a comedy, it is pleasantly contrived with merry accidents and intermixt with apt and witty jests to present before the prince at certain times of solemnity, or else merily fitted to the stage. And what is then the subject of this harmelesse mirth? Either in the shape of a clowne to shew others their slovenly and unhansome behaviour that they may reforme that simplicity in themselve, which others make their sport, lest they happen to become the like subject of generall scorne to an auditory [audience]; else it intreates of love, deriding foolish inamorates who spend their ages, their spirits, nay themselves in the servile and ridiculous imployments of their mistresses. And these are mingled with sportfull accidents to recreate such as of themselves are wholly devoted to melancholly, which corrupts the bloud, or to refresh such weary spirits as are tired with labour or study, to moderate the cares and heavinesse of the minde, that they may returne to their trades and faculties with more zeale and earnestnesse after some small soft and pleasant retirement. Sometimes they discourse of Pantaloones, usurers that have unthrifty sonnes, which both the fathers and sonnes may behold to their instructions; sometimes of curtesans, to divulge their subtelties and snares in which yong men may be intangled, shewing them the meanes to avoyd them. If we present a pastorall we shew the harmelesse love of sheepheards diversly moralized, distinguishing betwixt the craft of the citty and the innocency of the sheep-coat. Briefly, there is neither tragedy, history, comedy, morral or pastorall from which an infinite use cannot be gathered. I speake not in the defence of any lascivious shewes, scurrelous jeasts, or scandalous invectives. If there be any such, I banish them quite from my patronage. Yet Horace, Sermon. 1, satyr 4 thus writes.

Eupolis atque Cratinus Aristophanesque poetae,
Atque alii quorum comaedia prisca virorum est,
Si quis erat dignus describi, quod malus, aut fur,
Quod maechus foret, aut sicarius, aut alioqui
Famosus, multa cum libertate notabunt.

spacer7. Eupolis, Cratinus, Aristophanes and other comicke poets in the time of Horace with large scope and unbridled liberty boldly and plainly scourged all such abuses as in their ages were generally practised, to the staining and blemishing of a faire and beautifull common-weale. Likewise, a learned gentleman in his Apology for Poetry speakes thus: Tragedies well handled be a most worthy kinde of poesie. Comedies make men see and shame at their faults and, proceeding further amongst other uniuersity-playes, he remembers the tragedy of Richard the Third acted in Saint Johns in Cambridge so essentially that, had the tyrant Phaleris beheld his bloudy proceedings, it had mollified his heart and made him relent at sight of his inhumane massacres. Further, he commends of comedies the Cambridge Pedantius and the Oxford Bellum Grammaticale and, leaving them, passes on to our publicke playes, speaking liberally in their praise, and what commendable use may bee gathered of them. If you peruse Margarita Poetica you may see what excellent uses and sentences he hath gathered out of Terence his Andrea, Eunuchus and the rest. Likewise out of Plautus his Amphitrio, Asinaria, and moreover ex comaediis Philodoxus, Caroli Aretini De Falso Hipocrita et Tristi Marcelli Ronsii Versellensis, et comaedia Philogenia Ugolini Parmensis, all reverend schollers and comicke poets. Reade else the 4 tragedies Philunica, Petrus, Aman, Katherina Claudii Roiletti Belnensis. But I should tire my selfe to reckon the names of all French, Roman, German, Spanish, Italian, and English poets, being in number infinite and their labours extant to approve their worthinesse.
spacer8. Is thy minde noble, and wouldst thou be further stir’d up to magnanimity? Behold, upon the stage thou maist see Hercules, Achilles, Alexander, Caesar, Alcibiades, Lysander, Sertorius, Hannibal, Antigonus, Phillip of Macedon, Methridates of Pontus, Pyrrhus of Epire, Agesilaus among the Lacedemonians, Epaminondes amongst the Thebans, Scevola alone entring the armed tents of Porsenna, Horatius Cocles alone withstanding the whole army of the Hetrurians, Leonides of Sparta, choosing a lyon to leade a band of deers rather then one deere to conduct an army of lyons, with infinite others in their owne persons qualities and shapes animating thee with courage, deterring thee from cowardise. Hast thou of thy country well deserved and art thou of thy labour evill requited? To associate [reconcile] thee thou mayest see the valiant Roman Marcellus pursue Hannibal at Nola, conquering Syracusa, vanquishing the Gauls, all Padua, and presently (for his reward) banisht his country into Greece. There thou mayest see Scipio Africanus, now triumphing for the conquest of all Africa and immediatly exil’d the confines of Romania [Roman territory]. Art thou inclined to lust? Behold the falles of the Tarquins in the rape of Lucrece, the guerdon [reward] of luxury in the death of Sardanapalus, Appius destroyed in the ravishing of Virginia, and the destruction of Troy in the lust of Helena. Art thou proud? Our scene presents thee with the fall of Phaeton, Narcissus pining in the love of his shadow, ambitious Hamon, now calling himselfe a god and by and by thrust headlong among the divels. We present men with the uglinesse of their vices, to make them the more to abhorre them, as the Persians use, who, above all sinnes loathing drunkennesse, <were> accustomed in their solemne feasts to make their servants and captives extremely overcome with wine, and then call their children to view their nasty and lothsome behaviour, making them hate that sin in themselves which shewed so grosse and abhominable in others. The like use may be gathered of the drunkards so naturally imitated in our playes, to the applause of the actor, content of the auditory, and reproving of the vice. red Art thou covetous? Go no further then Plautus his comedy called Euclio:

Dum fallax servus, durus pater, improba lena
spacerVixerit et meretrix blanda, Menandros erit.

While ther’s false sevant, or obdurate sire,
Sly baud, smooth whore, Menandros wee’l admire.

spacer9. To end in a word, art thou addicted to prodigallity, envy, cruelty, perjury, flattery, or rage? Our scenes affoord thee store of men to shape your lives by, who be frugall, loving, gentle, trusty, without soothing, and in all things temperate. Wouldst thou be honourable, just, friendly, moderate, devout, mercifull, and loving concord? Thou mayest see many of their fates and ruines, who have beene dishonourable, injust, false, gluttenous, sacrilegious, bloudy-minded, and brochers [fomentors] of dissention. Women likewise that are chaste are by us extolled and encouraged in their vertues, being instanced by Diana, Belphebe, Matilda, Lucrece and the Countesse of Salisbury. The unchaste are by us shewed their errors in the persons of Phrine, Lais, Thais, Flora, and amongst us Rosamond and Mistresse Shore. What can sooner print modesty in the soules of the wanton then by discovering unto them the monstrousnesse of their sin? It followes that we prove these exercises to have beene the discoverers of many notorious murders long concealed from the eyes of the world. To omit all farre-fetcht instances, we wil probe it by a domestike and home-borne truth, which within these few yeares happened. At Lin in Norfolke, the then Earle of Sussex players acting the old History of Fryer Francis, blue and presenting a woman who, insatiately doting on a yong gentleman, had (the more securely to enjoy his affection) mischievously and seceretly murdered her husband, whose ghost haunted her, and at divers times in her most solitary and private contemplations, in most horrid and fearefull shapes appeared and stood before her. As this was acted, a townes-woman (till then of good estimation and report), finding her conscience (at this presenment) extremely troubled, suddenly skritched and cryd out “Oh my husband, my husband! I see the ghost of my husband fiercely threatning and menacing me.” At which shrill and unexpected out-cry the people about her, moov’d to a strange amazement, inquired the reason of her clamour, when presently un-urged she told them that seven yeares ago she, to be possest of such a gentleman (naming red him), had poysoned her husband, whose fearefull image personated it selfe in the shape of that ghost. Whereupon the murdresse was apprehended, before the justices further examined, and by her voluntary confession after condemned. That this is true as well by the report of the actors as the records of the towne, there are many eye-witnesses of this accident yet living vocally to confirme it.
spacer10. As strange an accident happened to a company of the same quality some 12 yeares ago or not so much, who playing late in the night at a place called Penryn red in Cornwall, certaine Spaniards were landed the same night unsuspected and undiscovered, with intent to take in the towne, spoyle and burne it, when suddenly, even upon their entrance, the players (ignorant as the townes-men of any such attempt) presenting a battle on the stage with their drum and trumpets strooke up a lowd alarme. Which the enemy hearing, and fearing they were discovered, amazedly retired, made some few idle shot in a bravado, and so in a hurly-burly fled disorderly to their boats. At the report of this tumult the townes-men were immediatly armed and pursued them to the sea, praysing God for their happy deliverance from so great a danger, who by his proufdence made these strangers the instrument and secondary meanes of their escape from such imminent mischife and the tyranny of so remorcelesse an enemy.
spacer11. Another of the like wonder happened at Amsterdam in Holland. A company of our English comedians (well knowne) travelling those countryes, as they were before the burgers and other the chiefe inhabitants, acting the last part of The 4 sons of Aymon, blue towards the last act of the history where penitent Renaldo, like a common labourer, lived in disguise, vowing as his last pennance to labour and carry burdens to the structure of a goodly church there to be erected. Whose diligence the labourers envying, since by reason of his stature and strengt, hee did vsually perfect more worke in a day then a dozen of the best, (hee working for his conscience, they for their lucres). Whereupon, <when> by reason his industry had so much disparaged their living, <they> conspired amongst themselves to kill him, waiting some opportunity to finde him asleepe, which they might easily do, since the forest labourers are the soundest sleepers and industry is the best preparative to rest. Having spy’d their opportunity, they drave a naile into his temples, of which wound immediatly he dyed. As the actors handled this, the audience might on a sodaine understand an out-cry and loud shrike in a remote gallery, and, pressing about the place, they might perceive a woman of great gravity, strangely amazed, who with a distracted and troubled braine oft sighed out these words: “Oh my husband, my husband” The play without further interruption proceeded. The woman was to her owne house conducted without any apparant suspition, every one conjecturing as their fancies led them. In this agony she some few dayes languished, and on a time, as certaine of her well disposed neighbours came to comfort her, one amongst the rest being church-warden, to him the sexton posts [hastens] to tell him of a strange thing happening him in the ripping up of a grave. “See here (quoth he) what I have found,” and shewes them a faire skull with a great nayle pierst quite through the braine-pan. But we cannot conjecture to whom it should belong, nor how long it hath laine in the earth, the grave being confused and the flesh consumed. At the report of this accident, the woman, out of the trouble of her afflicted conscience, discovered [revealed] a former murder. For 12 yeares ago, by driving that nayle into that skull, being the head of her husband, she had trecherously slaine him. This being publickly confest, she was arraigned, condemned, adjudged, and burned. But I draw my subhect to greater length then I purposed: these therefore out of other infinites I have collected, both for their familiarnesse and latenesse of memory.
spacer12. Thus our antiquity we have brought from the Grecians in the time of Hercules, from the Macedonians in the age of Alexander, from the Romans long before Julius Caesar, and, since him, through the reigns of 23 emperours succeeding, even to Marcus Aurelius: after him they were supported by the Mantuans, Venetians, Valencians, Neopolitans, the Florentines, and others: since, by the German princes, the Palsgrave [Pfalzgraf], the Landsgrave, the Dukes of Saxony, of Brounswicke, &c. The Cardinall at Bruxels hath at this time in pay a company of our English comedians. The French king allowes certaine companies in Paris, Orleans, besides other cities; so doth the King of Spaine in Civill, Madrid red and other provinces. But in no country they are of that eminence that ours are: so our most royall and ever renouned soueraigne hath licenced us in London, so did his predecessor, the thrice vertuous virgin Queene Elizabeth, and before her her sister Queene Mary, Edward the Sixth, and their father Henry the Eighth. And before these in the tenth yeare of the reigne of Edward the Fourth, 1490, John Stowe, an ancient and grave chronicler, records (amongst other varieties tending to the like effect) that a play was acted at a place called Skinners Well fast by Clerken-well, which continued eight dayes, and was of matter from Adam and Eve, (the first creation of the world.) The spectators were no worse then the royalty of England. And amongst other commendable exercises in this place, the company of the Skinners of London held certaine yearely solemne playes. In place wherof, now in these latter daies, the wrastling and such other pastimes have been kept, and is still held about Bartholmew-tide. Also in the yeare 1390, the 14 yeare of the reigne of Richard the Second, the 18 of July, were the like enterludes recorded of at the same place, which continued 3 dayes together, the king and queene, and nobility being there present. Moreover, to this day in divers places of England there be townes that hold the priviledge of their faires and other charters by yearely stage playes, as at Manningtree in Suffolke, Kendall in the north, and others. To let these passe, as things familiarly knowne to all men.
spacer13. Now to speake of some abuse lately crept into the quality, as an inveighing against the state, the court, the law, the citty, and their governements, with the particularizing of private mens humors (yet alive), noble-men, and others. I know it distastes many, neither do I any way approve it, nor dare I by any meanes excuse it. The liberty which some arrogate to themselves, committing their bitternesse and liberall invectives against all estates to the mouthes of children, supposing their juniority to be a priviledge for any rayling, be it never so violent, I could advise all such to curbe and limit this presumed liberty within the bands of discretion and government. But wise and juditial censurers, before whom such complaints shall at any time hereafter come, wil not (I hope) impute these abuses to any transgression in us, who have ever been carefull and provident to shun the like. I surcease to prosecute this any further, lest my good meaning be (by some) misconstrued and, fearing likewise lest with tediousnesse I tire the patience of the favourable reader, heere (though abruptly) I conclude my third and last treatis.

Sultitiam patiuntur opes, mihi parvula res est.


HE infinite faults escaped in my booke of Britaines Troy by the negligence of the printer, as the misquotations, mistaking of sillables, misplacing halfe lines, coining of strange and never heard of words. These being without number, when I would have taken a particular account of the Errata, the printer answered me hee would not publish his owne disworkemanship, but rather let his owne fault lye upon the necke of the author. And being fearefull that others of his quality had beene of the same nature and condition, and finding you on the contrary so carefull and industrious, so serious and laborious to doe the author all the rights of the presse, I could not choose but gratulate your honest indeavours with this short remembrance. Here likewise I must necessarily insert a manifest injury done me in that worke, by taking the two epistles of Paris to Helen, and Helen to Paris, and printing them in a lesse [smaller] volume under the name of another, which may put the world in opinion I might steale them from him. And hee, to doe himselfe right, hath since published them in his owne name: but as I must acknowledge my lines not worthy his patronage, under whom he hath publisht them, so the author I know much offended with M. Jaggard (that altogether unknowne to him) presumed to make so bold with his name. These, and the like dishonesties I know you to bee cleere of; and I could wish but to bee the happy author of so worthy a worke as I could willingly commit to your care and workmanship.

Yours ever,