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“O, rare Ben Jonson'" To him we are indebted for the only picture of Smithfield at “ Barthol'me'-tide” in his time. In his play of “Bartholomew Fair,” we have John Littlewit, a proctor “o' the Archdeacon's-court,” and “one of the retty wits o' Paul's" persuading his wife, "in-the fight, to go to the Fair. He says “I have an affair i' the Fair, Win, a puppet-play of mine own making.—I writ for the motion-man.” She tells him that her mother, dame Purecraft, will never consent; whereupon he says, “Tut, we'll have a device, a dainty one: long to eat of a pig, sweet Win, i' the Fair; do you see? i' the heart o' the Fair; not at Pye-corner. Your mother will do any thing to satisfie your longing.” Upon this hint, Win prevails with her mother, to consult Zeal-of-the-land Busy, a Banbury man “of a most lunatick conscience and spleen;” who is of opinion that pig “is a meat, and a meat that is nourishing, and may be eaten; very exceeding well eaten; but in the Fair, and as a Bartholmew pig, it cannot be eaten; for the very calling it a Bartholmew pig, and to eat it so, is a spice of idolatry." After much deliberation, however, he allows that so that the offence “be shadowed, as it were, it may be eaten, and in the Fair, I take it —in a booth.” He says “there may be a good use made of it too, now I think on't, by the public eating of swine's flesh, to profess our hate and loathing of Judaism;” and therefore he goes with them. In the Fair a quarrel falls out between Lanthorn Leatherhead, “a hobby-horse
seller,” and Joan Trash, “a gingerbread woman.” “Leatherhead. Do you hear, sister Trash, lady o' the basket? sit farther with }. gingerbread progeny there, and inder not the prospect of my shop, or I'll ha' it proclaim'di' the Fair, what stuff they are made on. “ Trash. Why, what stuff are they made on, brother Leatherhead? nothing but what's wholesome, I assure you. “Leatherhead. Yes; stale bread, rotten eggs, musty ginger, and dead honey, you know. “Trash. Thou too proud pedlar, do thy worst: I defy thee, o and thy stable of hobby-horses. I pay for my ground, as well as thou dost, and thou wrongs’t me, for all thou art parcel-poet, and an ingineer. I'll find a friend shall right me, and make a ballad of thee, and thy cattle all over. Are you puft up with the pride of your wares 2 your arsedine? “ Leatherhead. Go too, old Joan, I'll talk with you anon; and take you down too—I'll ha' you i' the Pie-pouldres.” They drop their abuse and pursue their vocation. atherhead calls, “What do you lack 2 what is't you buy? what do ou lack 2 rattles, drums, halberts, horses, abies o' the best ? fiddles o' the finest ?” Trash cries, “Buy my gingerbread, gilt gingerbread Î" A “costard-monger" bawls out, “Buy any pears, pears! fine, very fine pears!” Nightingale, another character, sings, “Hey, now the Fair's a filling O, for a tune to startle The birds o' the booths, here billing, Yearly with old Saint Barthle/
The drunkards they are wading,
The punks and chapmen trading,
Who'ld see the Fair without his lading? Buy my ballads new ballads!”
Ursula, “a W.". laments her vocation: – “Who would wear out their youth and prime thus, in o of pigs, that had any cooler occupation? I am all fire and fat; I shall e'en melt away—a poor vex'd thing I am; I feel myself o already as fast as I can: two stone of sewet a-day is my proportion : I can but hold life and soul together.” Then she soliloquizes concerning Mooncalf, her tapster, and her other vocations: “How can I hope that ever he'll discharge his place of trust, tapster, a man of reckoning under me, that remembers nothing I say to him 2 but look to't, sirrah, you were best; threepence a pipefull I will ha” made of all my whole half pound of tobacco, and a quarter of a pound of colts-foot, mixt with it too, to eech it out. Then six-and-twenty shillings a barrel I will advance o' my beer, and fifty shillings a hundred o' my bottle ale; I ha’ told you the ways how to raise it. (a knock.) Look who's there, sirrah! five shillings a pig is my price at least; if it be a sow-pig sixpence more.” Jordan Knockhum, “a horse-courser and a ran; of Turnbull,” calls for “a fresh bot. le of ale, and a pipe of tobacco.” Passengers enter, and Leatherhead says, “What do you lack, gentlemen 2 Maid, see a fine hobby-horse for your young master.” A corn-cutter cries, “Ha' you any corns i' your feet and toes " Then “a tinder-box man” calls, “Buy a mousetrap, a mouse-trap, or a tormentor for a flea 1". Trash cries, “Buy some gingerbread " Nightingale bawls, “Ballads, ballads, fine new ballads!” Leatherhead repeats, “What do you lack, gentlemen, what is't you lack? a fine horse 2 a lion ? a bull a bear ! a dog? or a cat? an excellent fine Bartholmew bird 2 or an instrument what is't you lack " The F. lo. with her guests and Ils foul on her tapster: “In, you rogue, nd wipe the pigs, and mend the fire, that they fall not; or I'll both baste and wast %. till your eyes . out, like 'em.” nockhum says to the female passengers, “Gentlewomen, the weather's hot! whither walk you? Have a care o' your fine velvet caps, the Fair is dusty. Take a sweet delicate booth, with boughs, here, i' the way, and cool yourselves i' the snade;
you and your friends. The best pig and bottle ale i' the Fair, sir, old Urs'la is cook; there, you may read; the pig's head speaks it.” Knockhum adds, that she roasted her pigs “with fire o' o and rosemary branches.” Littlewit, the F. tor, and his wife, Win-the-fight, with her mother, dame Purecroft, and Zeal-of-theland enter. Busy Knockhum suggests to Ursula that they are customers of the right sort, “In, and set a couple o' pigs o' the board, and half a dozen of the bygist bottles afore 'em—two to a pig, away !” In another scene Leatherhead cries, “Fine purses, pouches, pincases, pipes; what is't you lack? a pair o' smiths to wake you i' the morning ! or a fine whistling bird?” Bartholomew Cokes, a silly “esquire of Harrow," stops at Leatherhead's to purchase: “Those six horses, friend, I’ll have; and the three Jews trumps; and a half a dozen o' birds; and that drum; and your smiths (I like that device o' your smiths,)—and four halberts; and, let me see, that fine painted great lady, and her three women for state, I'll have. A set of those violins I would buy too, for a delicate young noise I have i'the country, that are every one a size less than another, just like your fiddles.” Trash invites him to buy her gingerbread, and he turns to her basket, whereupon Leatherhead says, “Is this well, Goody Joan, to interrupt my market in the midst, and call away my customers? Can you answer this at the Pie-pouldres 2" whereto Trash replies, « , if his master-ship have a mind to buy, łł. my ware lies as open as anothers; I may shew my ware as well as you yours.” Nightingale begins to sing,
“My masters and friends, and good people draw near."
Cokes hears this, and says, “ Ballads! hark, hark I pray thee, fellow, stay a little 1 What ballads hast thou? let me see, let me see myself—How dost thou call it? “A Caveat against Cut-purses o' —a good jest, i' faith; I would fain see that demon, your cut-purse, you talk of." He then shows his purse boastingly, and inquires, “Ballad-man, do any cut-purses haunt hereabout? pray thee raise me one or two : begin and shew me one.” Nightingale answers, “Sir, this is a spell against 'em, spick and span new : and 'tis made as 'twere in mine own person, and I sing it in mine own defence. But 'twill cost a penny alone if you buy it."
My masters, and friends, and good people draw near,
It hath been upbraided to men of my trade,
At Worc'ter 'tis known well, and even i' the jail,
At plays, and at sermons, and at the sessions,
- Nay, one without grace,
At a better place,
At court, and in Christmas, before the king's face,
But O, you vile nation of cut-purses all,
And know that you ought not by honest men's fall,
In silks as you may,
It is not the highway to heaven (as they say.)
While Nightingale sings this ballad, a fellow tickles Cokes's ear with a straw, to make him withdraw his hand from his pocket, and privately robs him of his purse, which, at the end of the song, he secretly conveys to the ballad-singer; who, notwithstanding his “Caveat against Cut-purses,” is their principal confederate, and, in that quality, becomes the unsuspected depository of the plunder. }. tells his wife, Win, of the great hog, and of a bull with five legs, in the Fair. Zeal-of-the-land loudly declaims against the Fair, and against Trash's commodities:—“Hence with thy basket of popery, thy nest of images, and whole i. of ginger-work.” He rails against “ the prophane pipes, the tinkling timbrels;” and Adam Overdoo, a reforming justice of peace, one of “the court of Pie-powders,” who wears a disguise for the better observation of disorder, gets into the stocks himself. Then “a western man, that's come to wrestle before my lord mayor anon,” gets drunk, and is cried by “the clerk o' the market all the Fair over here, for my lord's service.” Zeal-of-the-land Busy, too, is put with others into the stocks, and being asked, “what are you, sir?” he answers, “One that rejoiceth in his affliction, and sitteth here to prophesy the destruction of fairs and may-games, wakes and whitsun-ales, and doth sigh and groan for the reformation of these abuses.” During a scuffle, the keepers of the stocks leave them open, and those who are confined withdraw their legs and walk away. From a speech by Leatherhead, preparatory to exhibiting his “motion,” or puppet-show, we become acquainted with the subjects, and the manner of the performance. He says, “Out with the sign of our invention, in the name of wit; all the fowl i' the Fair, I mean all the dirt in Smithfield, will be thrown at our banner to-day, if the matter does not please the eople. Ol the motions that I, Lanthorn atherhead, have given light to, i' my time, since my master, Pod, diedl Jeru.
salem was a stately thing; and so was Nineveh and The City of Norwich, and Sodom and Gomorrah; with the Rising o' the Prentices, and pulling down the houses there upon Shrove-Tuesday; but the Gunpowder Plot, there was a get-pennyl I have presented that to an eighteen or twenty pence audience nine times in an afternoon. Look to your gathering there, good master Filcher—and when there come any gentlefolks take twopence a-piece.” He has a bill of his motion which reads thus: “The Ancient Modern History of Hero and Leander, otherwise called, the Touchstone of True Love, with as true a Trial of Friendship between Damon and Pythias, two faithful Friends o' the Bank-side.” This was the motion written by Littlewit. Cokes arrives, and inquires, “What do we pay for coming in, fellow 7" Filcher answers, “Twopence, sir.” “Cokes. What manner of matter is this, Mr. Littlewit? What kind of actors ha' you? are they good actors? “Littlewit. Pretty youths, sir, all children both old and young, here's the master of 'em, Master Lantern, that gives light to the business. * Cokes. In good time, sir, I would fain see 'em; I would be glad to drink with the young company; which is the tiring-house? “Leatherhead. Troth, sir, our tiringhouse is somewhat little; we are but beginners yet, pray pardon us; you cannot go upright in't. “Cokes. No? not now my hat is off? what would you have done with me, if you had had me feather and all, as I was once to-day? Ha' you none of your pretty impudent boys now, to bring stools, fill tobacco, fetch ale, and beg money, as they have at other houses? let me see some o' your actors. “Littlewit. Shew him 'em, shew him 'em. Master Lantern; this is a gentleman that is a favourer of the quality. [Leatherhead brings the puppets out in a basket.]
“Cokes. What! do they live in basIkets? - “Leatherhead. They do lie in a basIket, sir: they are o' the small players. “ Cokes. These be players minor indeed. Do you call these play;rs? “Leatherhead. They are actors, sir, and as good as any, none dispraised, for dumb shows: Indeed I am the mouth of 'em all.—This is he that acts young Leander, sir; and this is lovely Hero; this, with the beard, Damon; and this, pretty Pythias; this is the ghost of king Dionysius, in the habit of a scrivener: as you shall see anon, at large. “Cokes. But do you play it according to the printed book? I have read that, “Leatherhead. By no means, sir. ... * Cokes. No 2 How then 2 “Leatherhead. A better way, sir; fhat is too learned and poetical for our audience: what do they know what Hellespont is? guilty of true love's blood A or what Abydos is 2 or the other Sestos height?—No; I have entreated master Littlewit to take a little pains to reduce it to a more familiar strain for our people. “Littlewit. I have only made it a little easy and modern for the times, sir, that's all: as for the Hellespont, I imaine our Thames here; and then Leaner, I make a dyer's son about Puddlewharf; and Hero, a wench o' the Bankside, who going over one morning to Old Fish-street, Leander spies her land at Trig's-stairs, and falls in love with her: now do I introduce Cupid, having metamorphosed himself into a drawer, and he strikes Hero in love with a pint of sherry.” ... While “Cokes is handling the puppets” the doorkeepers call out “Twopence apiece, gentlemen; an excellent motion.” Other visitors enter and take their seats, and Cokes, while waiting with some of his acquaintance, employs the time at the “game of vapours, which is nonsense;
every man to oppose the last man that spoke, whether it concerned him or no.” The audience become impatient, and one calls out, “Do you hear puppet-master, these are tedious vapours; when begin you?” Filcher, Leatherhead's man, with the other doorkeepers, continue to bawl, “Twopence a-piece, sir; the best motion in the Fair.” Meanwhile the company talk, and one relates that he has already seen in the Fair, the eagle; the black wolf; the bull with five legs, which “was a calf at Uxbridge Fair two years agone;” the dogs that dance the morrice; and “the hare o' the taber.”
Ben Jonson's mention of the hare that beat the tabor at Bartholomew Fair in his time, is noticed by the indefatigable and accurate Strutt; who gives the following representation of the feat itself, which he affirms, when he copied it from a drawing in the Harleian collection, (6563,) to have been upwards of four hundred years old.
Hare and Tabor.
For an idea of Leatherhead's motion take as follows: it commences thus:
Leatherhead. Gentiles, that no longer your expectations may wander, Behold our chief actor, amorous Leander; With a great deal of cloth, lapp'd about him like a scarf, For he yet serves his father, a dyer at Puddle-wharf. Which place we'll make bold with to call it our Abidus,
ank-side is our Sestos ; and let it not be denied us
Now as he is beating, to make the dye take the fuller,