Stuart civic pageants and textual performance.
We cannot always know why some dramatic texts were printed and others were not. But we do know that, roughly speaking, the number of printed dramatic texts doubles as we move from the Elizabethan to the Jacobean and Caroline periods. This suggests an ever-increasing reading public, a market for playtexts, and an emerging self-consciousness that drama might become a book. As in so many things, Ben Jonson led the way, culminating in the publication of his Folio Workes in 1616, all under his careful guidance. That folio marks literary and printing history in England some seven years before the great Shakespeare First Folio. Not surprisingly, Jonson repeats on the title page of his Folio an epigraph from Horace that he had first used on the title page of the 1612 quarto edition of The Alchemist. An English translation of the Horatian dictum reads, "I do not work so that the crowd may admire me; I am contented with a few readers." Admittedly self-serving, the statement allows Jonson to show off his classical learning (an impulse that he never resisted) and also to make a pitch beyond theater-going audiences to a reading public that Jonson imagines.
Similarly, the Shakespeare Folio continues this appeal to readers. In a prefatory and laudatory poem in this Folio, Jonson insists of Shakespeare: "Thou art a Moniment, without a tombe, / And art alive still, while thy Booke doth live, / And we have wits to read, and praise to give." Whatever we may think of Jonson's poem, he hits on a fundamental reason for publication: the perpetuation of the text and therefore the life of the writer. John Heminge and Henry Condell, the two actors responsible for gathering Shakespeare's plays into this collection, include an address "To the great Variety of Readers." With unexpected savvy, the actors acknowledge that "the fate of all Bookes depends upon your capacities: and not of your heads alone, but of your purses" (A3). Therefore, they repeatedly urge: "But, what ever you do, Buy." They also, however, press the claim of reading and interpretation: "Reade him, therefore; and againe, and againe: And if then you doe not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger, not to understand him." Actors urge the reading of dramatic texts - surely an extraordinary development and a tacit recognition that plays do not only exist on stage and in performance, but also have an ongoing life in a reading public.
If we could know that the playwright had some involvement in the printing of his texts, we could more easily postulate probable connections between theatrical and textual performance. But we need only think of Shakespeare and remember that half of his plays had not appeared in print before the 1623 Folio. Recalling this, we perceive the difficulty of knowing whether, say, the text of The Winter's Tale represents the actual stage version of the play, a revised text, or even something in between.
This uncertainty leads me to raise disturbing and unpleasant questions about the nature of many printed dramatic texts. How often and in what way do they constitute some meta-dramatic event, resembling yet differing from what took place on stage? In a sense I am asking Stephen Orgel's question of several years ago: "What is a text?"(2)
If we ask this question about civic pageant texts, we encounter a special set of problems. Like their court masque cousins but only more so, pageant dramatic texts should report and represent an actual event that occurred in city streets. Pageants contain both dramatic fictions and historical reality; a real sovereign or mayor passed through the streets and witnessed the various dramatic scenes or tableaux prepared for the entertainment. In fact, one could argue that only the printed text provides the total scene because most spectators could have seen or heard only the action near them.
Increasingly, playwrights intend the pageant texts for readers; these texts become commemorative books that both capture and immortalize the event and add to it. They assume an expository and narrative function that sets them apart from the typical dramatic text. By examining the extant printed texts of Jacobean and Caroline Lord Mayor's Shows, I will argue that they exhibit a growing self-consciousness as books and that these publications do not obliterate theatrical performance or displace it so much as they complete it.
Gerald Bruns reminds us that "texts are historical creatures (they are temporal as well as structural), and their historicity complicates and sometimes confounds their objectivity in ways that we may not be able to see."(3) He distinguishes the "closed text" of print culture from the "open text" of a manuscript culture. Bruns argues that print "closes off the act of writing and authorizes or, in a technological way, canonizes its results. The text, once enclosed in print, cannot be altered - except at considerable cost and under circumstances watched over by virtually everyone." Of course, as Bruns admits, the "world of revisions is richly complicated and is a famous source of exasperation and delight among literary critics" (45). Although he does not do so, Bruns might well have cited the practice of revision among Renaissance playwrights as their reshaping of dramatic texts changes the understanding of theatrical performance.
Again, Jonson offers an especially interesting case and one astutely commented on by a number of critics. Jonson, of course, rewrote textual and literary history as he revised his texts for the 1616 Folio. As Timothy Murray has observed, the "folio flaunts but one image: its own intratextuality, or Jonson's own version of his textual history."(4) "The transfer of a text from playhouse to printed book," Murray insists, "displaces almost completely the textual invisibility prescribed by the stage" (57). Following an image of a closed text, Murray suggests that in Jonson's revised texts his "goal was to restrict the act of evaluation by offering to the readers an authoritative and stable terrain of text, one whose constancy and consistency would contrast strongly with the fluid ways of players and the polysemous interpretations of readers" (79). If that was indeed Jonson's goal, he cannot but have been frustrated because, as Heminge and Condell noted, readers will respond in a variety of ways to a printed text, in ways that the author cannot possibly control.
Citing the example of Jonson's treatment of his play Sejanus, Joseph Lowenstein argues that "we also find here the beginnings of an important feature of much of Jonson's late textuality, including the textuality of the Folio: text as transhistorical and, frequently, as anti-occasional, text as antitheater."(5) A few years earlier Lowenstein had observed that "the printshop and the theater were, in many ways, competitors," with "publication complet[ing] the displacement of the performers as a representational and as an economic fact."(6) Especially in Jonson's treatment of his masque texts, it "becomes clear . . . that the assertion of the authority of the text, its counterauthority with respect to performance, entails Jonson's contentious jealousy of his own cultural authority" (1991, 183). These critics underscore an inherent and ongoing tension between theatrical and textual performance.
Jonson signals the possible gap between text and performance in his puppet play in Act V of Bartholomew Fair. Here Leatherhead begins to explain the imminent performance by the puppets of the Hero and Leander story, until the dim-witted Cokes asks: "But do you play it according to the printed book? I have read that."(7) Leatherhead answers: "By no means, sir." Puzzled, Cokes asks for further explanation, and Leatherhead obliges: "A better way, sir; that is too learned and poetical for our audience" (lines 103-04). Littlewit, Leatherhead insists, has taken "pains to reduce it to a more familiar strain for our people" (line 109). Here the actors presumably build in a discrepancy between theatrical and textual performance.
Compared to Jonson, Shakespeare remains a cipher with regard to his printed texts. He peers out from the Folio engraving as just slightly inscrutable, having gone to his grave without signaling anything definitive about the printing of his texts. His "indifference" maddens; Jonson's swirling textual activity fascinates. Perhaps I remark only a difference in ego; perhaps I note a difference in professional understanding, not to say jealousy, and a desire to manipulate the response of readers. In any event, playtexts in this most vital period of dramatic activity gain status as books, as printers join forces with playwrights to create permanent records of theatrical performance.
Or is that quite what happens? At the very end of his text of the magnificent London royal entry pageant for King James in March 1604, Thomas Dekker includes an address "To the Reader" - material that typically appears in a prefatory position but which Dekker curiously places at the conclusion. He writes: "Reader, you must understand, that a regard, being had that his Maiestie should not be wearied with teadious speeches: A great part of those which are in this booke set downe, were left vnspoken: So that thou doest here receiue them as they should have bene delivered, not as they were."(8) This vexing confession lets us know of the problem but does not enlighten about which speeches fell prey to the exigencies of time. We know that Dekker has presented an idealized text, a Platonic text that bears only a resemblance to the Aristotelian reality of what took place in London's streets. Textual performance here fantasizes theatrical performance. Readers possess a text that cannot fix the event as event because the dramatic text does not purport to fulfill that function. Indeed, Dekker's text does not provide the whole event because Ben Jonson has also produced a different text of the same event, each having different emphases. In addition, Gilbert Dugdale's text, The Time Triumphant (1604), offers an eyewitness account of the 1604 royal entry, augmenting, expanding, and differing from the texts of Dekker and Jonson.(9) The pictorial evidence provided in Stephen Harrison's Arches of Triumph (1604) also requires consideration if one intends to have a complete understanding of the royal entry pageant.
A fundamental paradox inheres in the situation: as the book seeks to "fix" the event of the pageant, it apparently liberates the dramatist to create materials not represented in the street entertainment. The playwright constructs a gap between printed text and actual performance, and through this gap he moves with digressions, descriptions, and discourses on sometimes arcane topics. That gap may also consist of ellipses - omitted details of the dramatic event. We therefore come to experience the pageant text as an event itself, resembling but differing from the show.
We as readers also become more aware of the dramatist as writer because many of his moves call attention to himself. In the construction of the book of the event, the playwright intrudes in self-reflexive ways, uncommon in typical printed play texts. As I analyze these texts, I will focus on four major issues: how the dramatist conducts an imagined dialogue with his readers, how he engages in a dialogue with himself, what materials he adds to the event, and how the dramatist attempts to present the actual performance of the pageant, what Paula Johnson has called the "rhetoric of presence."(10) Rather than merely re-presenting the dramatic occasion, the dramatist mediates this dramatic performance: he imitates and innovates.
From the texts themselves we can learn something of the dramatist's dealings with the sponsoring guild. From guild records we understand that typically the dramatist had the responsibility of having the books printed, usually 300 or 500 copies. That is, the playwright could not complete his theatrical function until he saw to the printing of the text. In these cases the print shop did not function in opposition to the theater. Margreta de Grazia and Peter Stallybrass have argued that we need to rethink Shakespeare "in relation to our new knowledge of collaborative writing, collaborative printing, and the historical contingencies of textual production."(11) I am making this point about the pageant texts.
Looking at the three extant texts of Elizabethan Lord Mayor's Shows, those of 1585 and 1591 by George Peele and the 1590 one by Thomas Nelson, we can draw certain conclusions. Models of simplicity, these printed texts contain only the speeches given in the pageant - no prefatory material, no elaboration, no description, no marginalia, nothing else. By contrast, the first extant Jacobean mayoral pageant text, Anthony Munday's The Triumphes of Re-United Britannia (1605), looks like a book, containing much material that does not reflect theatrical performance. I pause to mention that Jonson actually wrote the first Jacobean mayoral pageant in 1604; although the Haberdashers spent [pounds]1 10s "for printing the bookes of the device," none survives.(12) One would certainly like to know what Jonson did in this, his only excursion into the Lord Mayor's Show, and what his text looked like.
It may well have resembled Munday's 1605 one, just as Jonson's later masque texts do. Indeed, the opening pages of the 1605 text have little to do with the performance of the pageant that took place in late October. Munday begins: "Because our present conceit, reacheth unto the antiquitie of Brytaine . . . I thought it not unnecessary, (being thereto earnestly solicited) to speake somewhat concerning the estate of this our Countrey.(13) One wonders who "earnestly solicited" Munday to take this historical path - perhaps the guild. The marginal notes in the opening pages of the quarto would do Jonson proud as they refer both to arcane and better known historians, such as Annius de Viterbo, Berosus, Wolfgangus Lazius, John Bale, John Price, John Caius, and John Leland. Not bad for the start of a pageant text. Munday traces the pseudo-history of England, beginning after the Flood and coming down through Brutus up to the reign of Ecbert in 800 A.D. After a few brief speeches, Munday's text offers more discourse about the Brutus family, with Munday finally writing that "What further may be required, to expresse Britaniaes triumph more perfectly to the life, with all the other personages her servants and attendantes, is more at large set downe in the severall speeches, which I have hereto annexed as most meet and convenient" (7, my emphasis). Munday "annexes" the speeches of the pageant, implying that his text has other business to perform. This dramatic quarto serves as a brief history, a book about England, which manages to include the material of theatrical performance.
In 1614 Munday wrote Himatia-Poleos, a pageant honoring the new mayor who came from the ranks of Drapers, Munday's own guild. Not surprisingly, the opening pages contain discourse about this guild and the office of mayor in London. Within this discussion Munday pauses to look back to the text of his 1611 show, Chrusothriambos. In 1614 Munday writes that "Heere before I passe any further, it may appeare as a blemish on mine own browe, because in my Booke in the worthie Company of Goldsmiths, I did set downe Henrie Fitz-Alwine, Fitz-Leofstane to be a Goldsmith, and the first Lord Major of London, alleadging my authoritie for the same in the margent of the same booke, out of John Stowe, which now I may seem to denie" (73). Additional research in the Drapers' hall has shown Munday the error of his ways, and Stow's as well. Stow's Survey of London, which Munday is himself presumably revising and correcting for its eventual 1618 edition, stands under correction; one book responds to another. This argument takes place beyond theatrical performance, although it occurs in the pages of a dramatic text. Munday refers precisely to an earlier text, even noting that he had cited Stow in the margins of that text. I know of no clearer evidence of a dramatic quarto as a book (Munday's own term).
The title page of Thomas Dekker's Troia-Nova Triumphans, the Lord Mayor's Show for 1612, promises that the text contains "All the Showes, Pageants, Chariots of Triumph, with other Devices, (both on Water and Land) here fully expressed." But when we reach the end of the text, we find a different response, self-consciously referring to the title page itself. As Dekker writes, "The Title-page of this Booke makes promise of all the Shewes by water, as of these On the Land; but Apollo having no hand in them, I suffer them to dye by that which fed them; that is to say, Powdere and Smoake. Their thunder (according to the old Gally-foyst-fashion) was too lowd for any of the Nine Muses to be bidden to it."(14) Dekker's reaction to the title page of his own pageant text marks the only time that such a thing happens in these texts. It raises some puzzling questions, starting with the connection Dekker had with the title page. At what point did he write this response, obliterating the promise of the title page? Did Dekker oversee the printing in Nicholas Okes's shop? Did the printer promise more than Dekker became willing to provide?
Earlier in the text Dekker had seemingly set up the report of the river entertainment. "Lanch into the River," he writes, "and there the Thames it selfe shall shew you all the Honors, which this day hath bestowed upon her: And that done, step againe upon the Land, and Fame will with her owne Trumpet proclaime what I speake" (231). But Dekker refers only to the mayor's journey on the river and the firing of guns. Elliptically, Dekker writes: "And see! how quickly we are in ken of land, as suddenly therefore let us leap on shore, and there observe what honorable entertainment the Citty affords to their new Praetor" (231). Dekker takes the readers by the hand and helps us on to land in what Johnson refers to as the "rhetoric of presence." But he also institutes in the text proper a gap between it and the title page, and at the end underscores this hiatus. The twin forces of time and aesthetic judgment compel Dekker to omit description of the river entertainment. But did he not know this when he began preparing his text, or did the exigencies of printing force him to curtail? At the very least, Dekker reveals his preoccupation with his text as a book, one in which he might have a conversation with his own title page.
In Britannia's Honor (1628) Dekker devotes the opening sixty lines not to a description of the event but rather to an elucidation of the position of London among the world's cities and to a delineation of the office of mayor. "London, and her Royall Daughter (Westminster)," he writes, "are the Representative body of the general State."(15) Dekker busies himself with metaphors designed to capture the city's essence: the king's storehouse, the nurse to all the shires in England, the magazine of merchandise - "hers is the Master-wheele of the whole Kingdome." "Fully to write downe all the Titles, Stiles, and Honors of this our Metropolis," Dekker adds, "would weary a thousand pennes: Apollo shall have a New Garland of Bayes, to undertake it." He then discusses the office of mayor, its precursors and current power, and he likens the mayor to a prince. Dekker concludes by backing away from this extended discourse on the city and its mayor in order to make his move to the event itself. "Thus having (as it were in Lantschip) a farre off shewne you the Toppes onely of our City-Buildings; and in a little Picture drawne the Face of her Authority, giving but a glimpse of her Praetor as hee passes by," he writes, "let mee now open a Booke to you, of all those Ceremonies, which this great Festivall day hath provided to Attend vppon him, and doe him Honor" (83). The opening of Dekker's text therefore becomes a preface to the description of the event, a visual representation of the city and mayor that leads to a book, the very one that captures the dramatic activity of the pageant. A dialogue with readers precedes the rhetoric of presence.
In the device called Britannia's Watch-Tower, Dekker includes among allegorical figures those kings who have been especially beneficent to London, such as Richard II, King John, and Henry III. Many had connections to the Skinners' guild, the one that sponsors this pageant. Dekker observes: "And that many of our Kinges likewise, besides Princes and Great Personages, have bin Free of This Company, whose Names I forbeare to set downe, because they have in former yeeres beene fully exprest" (92). Dekker seems to be referring explicitly to the text of Middleton's The Triumphs of Love and Antiquity (1619), which contains an extensive list of former Skinners. Assuming a continuing readership, one pageant dramatist sees no reason to repeat information from a pageant book of nearly ten years earlier: one book looks at another.
Having offered a metaphorical view of London and the mayor in the opening of the 1628 pageant, Dekker turns in the 1629 London's Tempe to a historical account of the mayor's office, as if he had intended the opening sixty lines of Britannia's Honor to serve as a first installment in his discourse about the mayoralty. In a brief sketch, Dekker traces significant events that have led to the power of the mayor's office. "Thus," Dekker writes, "small Rootes grow in time to Caedars, shallow streames, to rivers, and a Hand of Government to be the strongest Arme in a Kingdome" (4:103). He follows with a description of the pageant. But in an unusual rhetorical move he anticipates criticism of his inclusion of Apollo in the final device: "Some Hypercriticall Censurer perhaps, will aske, why having Tytan, I should bring in Apollo, sithence they both are names proper to the Sunne. But the yongest Novice in Poetry can answer for me, that the Sunne when he shines in heaven is called Tytan, but being on Earth (as he is here) we call him Apollo" (111). Dekker anticipates a possible response to his text - as unlikely as that may be - by a preemptive strike, a strategy that makes sense only in a book; this move has nothing to do with the event itself, as he moves from the rhetoric of presence to the rhetoric of rhetoric.
Thomas Middleton's Lord Mayor's Show texts all begin with a formal dedication to the new mayor (only Dekker's 1612 text before Middleton has such prefatory matter). Not yet commonplace in dramatic texts, these dedications add to the sense of this document as a book. In his first show, The Triumphs of Truth (1613), Middleton uses the Epistle Dedicatory to comment on the new mayor's past, especially his preservation in foreign travels. Such observations lead the dramatist to think of himself: "Next, in that myself, though unworthy, being of one name with your lordship [a Grocer also named Thomas Middleton], notwithstanding all oppositions of malice, ignorance, and envy, should thus happily live."(16) Like the mayor who has overcome perils, the dramatist has also overcome opposition in his professional career. He now arrives at this moment, with "my pen only to be employed in these bounteous and honourable triumphs, being but shadows to those eternal glories that stand ready for deservers" (lines 26-29). The pageant text thus provides the writer with an opportunity to comment on his career - a matter not, of course, included in the street performance.
In the text proper, Middleton begins by discussing the quality of the mayor's reception into London and then moves to comment on his dealing with the Grocers, the sponsoring guild ("the wardens and committees, men of much understanding, industry, and carefulness, little weighing the greatness of expense, so the cost might purchase perfection" [lines 27-29]). Middleton adds that "if any shall imagine that I set fairer colours upon their deserts than they upon themselves, let them but read and conceive" (lines 33-35). The personal pronouns "I" and "you" that recur in these texts imply a dialogue with a reader, not an attempt to reproduce only the event. Of course, part of the persona in the 1613 text is a writer who speaks the truth. If we think that he exaggerates the virtue of the guild, then we need only "read and conceive" - a wonderfully disingenuous position for Middleton, who in fact provides the principal (and maybe only) means by which to judge his accuracy. Certainly he provides the only printed text.
Having been greeted by the allegorical figure of London as he emerged in the morning from the Guildhall, the mayor and his retinue move to the river for their journey to Westminster, where he will take the official oath of office as new mayor. The worthy company, Middleton writes, "are led forward toward the waterside, where you shall find the river decked in the richest glory to receive him" (lines 154-56). Middleton informs us of the five islands that rest in the river, and then somewhat abruptly writes: "But making haste to return to the city again" (line 160). The text abandons its report of the event, providing no account of the river activities - thus deliberately creating an ellipsis, as Dekker had done. The dramatist reports what he chooses to report, even if incomplete.
Middleton pauses at the end of the 1613 text to cite the contributions of Humphrey Nichols, John Grinkin, and Anthony Munday in the first such recognition in a pageant text. This information clearly takes us beyond a report of the dramatic show. Middleton adds that "I now conclude, holding it a more learned discretion to cease of myself than to have Time cut me off rudely: and now let him strike at his pleasure" (lines 775-77). No longer a conversation with a reader, this statement suggests Middleton's having a conversation with himself. Through and in the text he now participates in the allegorical fiction that he had created for the late October pageant.
In The Triumphs of Honour and Industry (1617), Middleton pulls the reader into the event: "if you give attention to Industry that now sets forward to speak" (lines 33-34); "And that you may take the better note of her adornments" (lines 59-60). In effect Middleton asks the reader to pretend actual attendance at the pageant - part of his narrative fiction. But as he writes further, "before I entered so far, I should have showed you the zeal and love of the Frenchman and Spaniard, which now I hope will not appear unseasonably" (lines 81-84). This authorial intrusion calls attention to itself and to this document as a reconstructed text. Middleton overtly calls for the reader's assistance; "now the favour and help must be in you to conceive our breadth and limits," he writes, "and not to think we can in these customary bounds comprehend all the nations" (lines 127-29). That is, the reader must recognize inherent limits (as the writer does) about what the text can reproduce. Middleton also presupposes the reader's reaction when he writes, "I know you cannot part contented without their several inscriptions" (lines 126-27) - therefore providing the necessary information.
Of course, Middleton begins the text with information which few standing along London's streets could have known: namely, he writes this show for the Grocers, as he had in 1613. "It hath been twice my fortune in short time," he writes, "to have employment of this noble society, where I have always met with men of much understanding, and no less bounty; to whom cost appears but as a shadow, so there be fullness of content in the performance" (lines 2-6). I believe that "the performance" gains its "fullness of content" in the text also, a text that completes the performance. Only a reader could experience all of this. Middleton's text also takes us to the feast at the Guildhall: "I commend my lord and his right honourable guest to the solemn pleasure of the feast, from whence, I presume, all epicurism is banished; for where honour is master of the feast, moderation and gravity are always attendants" (lines 227-31). The author's own moral voice blatantly intrudes in the text in a way that one has difficulty imagining in a conventional dramatic text. At the end, after the usual praise of those who assisted, Middleton writes: "The season cuts me off; and after this day's trouble I am as willing to take my rest" (lines 281-82). These highly personal notes running through the pageant text suggest a writer who uses the text for his own performance.
Middleton repeatedly calls attention to the text as a fashioned report of the entertainment, one that adds information that no spectator could have known. Presumably he offered the guild some kind of sketch and possibly the speeches, but the printed text forms another event altogether. On occasion Middleton forces the text to resemble the pace of the pageant. He notes, for example, in The Triumphs of Love and Antiquity (1619): "At the close of which speech the whole triumph takes leave of his lordship for that time; and, till after the feast at Guildhall, rests from service" (lines 266-68). For the next 100 or so lines the text also "rests" by going off to enumerate all the kings, queens, princes, dukes, and earls who have been somehow members of the Skinners guild, the one sponsoring the pageant. Therefore, nearly one-fourth of the text consists in this "pause." Finally, Middleton writes: "The feast ended at Guildhall, his lordship . . . goes, accompanied with the triumph before him, towards St. Paul's" (lines 389-91). The text proceeds when the pageant procession resumes. In the interim Middleton scans the landscape of antiquity for a history lesson. While the mayoral party feasts at Guildhall, the reader dines on an extensive list of former Skinners.
Such lists appear regularly in pageant texts, the sort of information that would be most difficult if not impossible to convey in actual performance. In The Sun in Aries (1621), for example, Middleton includes a list of famous Drapers and their accomplishments. Then he adds that "many whose names for brevity's cause I must omit and hasten to the honour and service of the time present" (lines 104-06). Middleton creates a fascinating tension in his texts between the desire to celebrate and the necessity to give us the dramatic event. At the end of the 1619 text Middleton adds ten lines of verse (lines 442-51) that enumerate the various fur-bearing animals that Skinners may use. These lines of rhymed couplets have nothing directly to do with the pageant's performance; they seem instead to call attention to how clever the writer can be - a kind of bonus for the reader. Time and again Middleton reminds us that pageant texts exist as a special breed, as dramatic texts that fulfill a wide array of functions, including but not restricted to providing the speeches and other apparatus of dramatic performance.
In addition to Middleton and Dekker, two other writers, John Squire and John Webster, produced Lord Mayor's Shows in the 1620s. Squire in his Tes Irenes Trophae, or, The Triumphs of Peace (1620) provides a straightforward report, complete with extensive visual details. As Paula Johnson concludes: "Whatever the actual occasion may have been like, Squire's booklet is tidy but uninspiring."(17) Only in the Dedication to Sir Francis Jones does Squire's personal voice emerge, a voice caught between timidity and boldness. Squire begins: "I doubt it is my Fortune, to hazard calumny, in the employment of my invention in your service, and not the thing, but the person incurs it."(18) Therefore, Squire writes, "I beseech your Honor seriously to supervise this slight labour, scarce meriting your attention." But, Squire hopes, when the mayor sees the actual pageant, "then I doubt not but to attempt that credit, which many will Envy" (A2v). Squire then describes the devices and records the speeches. But for its elaborate description, this could be the text of a late Elizabethan mayoral pageant. At the end of the report Squire notes that Peace and War conduct the mayor to his house at night, and he adds a terse one-sentence paragraph: "And thus the solemnity dissolved" (C2). Such a succinct, non-evaluative remark typifies the rhetorical economy of this pageant. This text performs minimally, devoid of authorial intervention and rewarding digressions.
By contrast, Webster in his Monuments of Honor (1624) goes out of his way to call attention to himself, to assert his "authorial presence," as Paula Johnson suggests (169). Perhaps because he is himself a Merchant Taylor, from whose ranks the new mayor comes, Webster seeks to establish his identity. He first notes in the Dedication to John Gore that this pageant, having honored the mayor in the streets, comes "now humbly to kisse your Lordships handes."(19) It kisses the mayor's hands in part by being a book, a means of perpetual, instead of ephemeral, homage.
Webster self consciously constructs a "Preface" that opens the text proper. He uses an unusual locution: "I could in this my Preface"; "I could likewise" (317). He could discourse on the origins of triumphs from the time of the Romans; he could also survey the triumphs of London itself. But instead he recognizes the constraints of the text, as "both my Pen, and ability this way are confin'd in too narrow a Circle"; indeed, he does not have "space enough in this so short a Volume." Long before we get to a report of the event, Webster as writer sketches the space in which he works, performing in textual space that which does not occur in theatrical space. He does find time, however, to praise the "great care and alacrity" of the guild. Coming to the end of his "preface," Webster makes his rhetorical move. "Leaving therefore these worthy Gentlemen," he writes, "I do present to all modest and indifferent Judges these my present endeavours." Readers of the text will constitute the judges, a point of which Webster seems especially aware.
Unlike the beginning of any other pageant text, Webster's uses the first person pronouns "I" and "my" ten times in the first twenty-two lines: for example, "I could," "my work," "my Pen," "I do present," "my endeavours." A clear pattern of such personal references emerges throughout the text. Typically, Webster also uses the present tense, with "I present," "I prepare," "I say," "I bring," "I call," "I figure." This present-tense rhetoric underscores the writer's act of doing, as if he performs in the text now rather than simply reporting a past event. The concluding paragraph of the text returns to the conditional statements of the opening: "I could a more curious and Elaborate way have exprest my selfe in these my endeavors" (327). But, Webster continues, "to have bin rather too teadious in my Speeches, or too weighty, might have troubled my Noble Lord, and pusled [puzzled] the understanding of the Common People." I do not share Paula Johnson's view that this statement shows Webster "sneering" at the less learned (169). It seems rather a tacit admission of the constraints the writer has imposed on himself in order to reach satisfactorily a large audience. At the least, the text ends right where it began in terms of the focus on Webster himself, in contrast to what had become the common practice of using the final paragraph in these texts to single out the contributions of the artificers who helped prepare the pageant. Basically Webster engages in a dialogue with himself and a self-fashioning of presence.
He also adds materials, mainly historical and about the Merchant Taylors. Describing the figure who represents John Hawkwood, Webster adds his accomplishments, such as his worthy service to Edward III, before explaining the reason for including him: "This worthy Gentleman was Free of our Company"; he writes, "and thus I prepare him to give my Lord entertainment" (321). Webster also pauses to characterize the eight kings who have been free of the guild, commentary that would not have been performed in the streets. Thus Webster describes Henry VI as the "religious, though unfortunate Sonne" of Henry V (321). Richard III, Webster calls, "the bad man, but good King" (322). The greatest praise falls on Henry VII, "the Uniter of the devision and houses . . . from whence his Royall Majesty now raigning tooke his Motto for one peice of his Coyne" (322). Webster devotes nearly sixty lines of the text to further historical discussion of the guild and to the accomplishments of Sir Thomas White, founder of one of the colleges at Oxford (323-24). At one point he links the Merchant Taylors to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem "because these Knights, I say, were instituted to secure the way for Pilgrimes in the desert" (323). Even in the midst of this historical report, Webster feels constrained to call attention to himself ("I say"). This exceptional pageant closes with a representation of the dead Prince Henry, whom Webster had memorialized in his elegiac poem of 1613, "The Monumental Columne." To recall Henry some twelve years after his death not only attests to his staying power in cultural memory but also to Webster's desire to remember his own poetic work: art thus serves history, and history, art.
Thomas Heywood in the 1630s makes clear that his pageant texts carry on an imagined dialogue with readers. For example, he writes in his description of the river entertainment for Londini Speculum (1637) after Saint Katherine's speech, "These few following Lines may, (and not impertinently) be added unto Jupiters message, delivered by Mercury, which though too long for the Bardge, may perhaps not shew lame in the booke, as being less troublesome to the Reader than the Rower."(20) All of Heywood's texts begin with sometimes extensive discussions of related topics which do not describe what happened in the actual pageant - topics such as the history of Rome, the history of London, the eight virtues needed of merchants. Heywood regularly indulges in discourses sprinkled with classical allusions and quotations or with religious references. His texts in many ways resemble Munday's early Jacobean ones, performing that which spectators of the theatrical event never experienced.
Heywood thus maintains a regular tension between "I" and "eye." The "I" of the author manifests itself in part by the revelation of the dramatist's detailed experiences with the sponsoring guilds - more extensive information than that provided by any other writer. Near the end of the 1631 text of Londons Jus Honorarium, Heywood describes his encounters with the Haberdashers guild, the sponsors of the entertainment. "I cannot heare forget," he writes, "that in the presentment of my papers to the Master, Wardens, and Committies of this Right Worshipfull Company of the Haberdashers . . . nothing here devised or expressed was any way forraigne unto them" (24). Taking us beyond theatrical performance, Heywood reveals something of the process of the playwright's negotiations with the guild as he presented his concepts to the appropriate groups within the guild. Heywood also flatters the guild when he writes that "they neglect not the studdy of arts, and practise of literature in private" (25) - that is, the guild members read (and perhaps also write) books.
In the final pageant before the Restoration, Heywood writes in his Londini Status Pacatus (1639) of his work with the Drapers: "yet in all my expressions either of Poeticall fancie, or (more grave History), their [guild members'] apprehensions went equally along with my reading" (136). Heywood's "reading" sounds slightly ambiguous; presumably it refers to an appearance before the guild at which he read his ideas and speeches for the pageant. Writing in Londini Emporia, the mayoral pageant of 1633, Heywood discusses his appearance before the Clothworkers. "I cannot but much commend both for their affability and courtesie," he writes, "especially unto my selfe being at that time to them all a meere stranger, who when I read my (then unperfect) Papers, were as able to judge of them, as attentively to heare them" (64-65). The dramatist stands before a committee with his "unperfect papers" (presumably a sketch for the pageant), and listens to the responses. Collaboration characterizes such potential theatrical performance.
Heywood also attempts to encourage a dialogue with other books, especially his own. In fact, in 1632 Heywood describes in Londini Artium the character Saint Katherine; "Of the Etymologie of her Name, her Royal Birth, her Breeding, her Life and Death, in the last yeeres Discourse I gave a large Charactar" (40), he writes. Therefore, in the 1632 book Heywood need not go over the same terrain. Like Munday, Heywood presupposes a reading public conversant with his other texts. This concept takes a different twist in the 1638 pageant text, Porta Pietatis. Writing about a ship presented in the pageant, Heywood adds "But concerning Ships and Navigation . . . I have lately delivered my selfe so amply in a Booke published the last Summer of his Majesties great Shippe, called the Soveraigne of the Seas, that to any, who desire to be better certified concerning such things, I referre them to that Tractate, from whence they may receive full and plenteous satisfaction" (113). Heywood refers to his A True Description of His Majesties Royall Ship (London, 1638), and in performing this dramatic text promotes his other writing. Rather like Heminge and Condell in the Shakespeare Folio, Heywood in effect urges readers to buy his other text as well. The ship in the pageant performance does not necessarily recall the king's ship; the reference grows wholly out of the author's preference, as he reaches outside the entertainment to a reading public.
In the rhetoric of presence the "I" adds material suited only for the "eye." In an unprecedented way Heywood includes events of the pageant devoid of verbal content and designed to please the eye: "I" calls attention to "eye." Spectators alone could have gained appreciation of these events; yet the dramatist's text includes reports, encouraging a sense of presence. Four pageant texts (1632, 1633, 1635, and 1637) include such material. In Londini Artium (1632), for example, Heywood writes of the third shew on land: "This is more Mimicall then Materiall, and inserted for the Vulgar, who rather love to feast their eyes, then to banquet their eares" (42). Heywood add that "at this time I affoord it no tongue." Londini Emporia (1633) includes what Heywood calls an "intruded Anti-maske," designed for those "who carry their eares in their eyes" and consisting of "motion, agitation and action" (62). In vain, Heywood writes, "should I imploy a speaker, where I presuppose all his words would be drown'd in noyse and laughter, I therefore passe to the fourth and last [show]." "I" certainly battles with "eye" in this account. In the text of Londini Speculum (1637) Heywood offers a rationale for these "vulgar" shows that appeal only to the eye. They can be justified in "such a confluence, where all Degrees, Ages, and Sexes are assembled, every of them looking to bee presented with some fancy or other, according to their expectations and humours" (97). "Eye" satisfies theatrical audiences; "I" satisfies reading audiences. A book results in which the "I" of the author who has created episodes to satisfy the "eye" of the audience asserts its authority.
In the only Lord Mayor's Show of the 1630s not written by Heywood, the prolific John Taylor sets out initially to provide the event in the text of The Triumphs of Fame and Honour (1634). Plunging right in to description, he writes: "The first shew that is to be presented on the water, is a vessell like a Boat or Barge, adorned with the armes and Impresses of the honourable Citie and Company."(21) Rather like John Squire earlier, Taylor moves systematically through the pageant until after the final speech by Time; then he interrupts the report of the event by writing that "For a period to these Triumphs . . . It were shamefull impudence in mee to assume the invention of these Structures and Architectures to my selfe, they being busines which I never was inured in, or acquainted with all, there being little of my directions in these shewes" (B4). Instead, Taylor can lay claim only to the "Speeches, and Illustrations which are here printed I doe justly challenge as mine owne." He gives credit to Robert Norman and Zachary Taylor for creating these various devices but not without noting the seeming hegemony of the Christmas family as artificers in these pageants; "after good CHRISTMAS," he writes, "the authors may be the more merry at the next."
Although the report of the theatrical event ends, the text for this pageant does not. Taylor decides to add material explicitly designed for readers. He chooses to include commentary glosses and interpretations for three of the pageant devices: the pageant of Thetis on the river, the pageant of Time and Mercury, and the pageant representing London. For example, the speech by Thetis includes references to many different and somewhat exotic rivers; therefore, Taylor explains the significance of these rivers (sigs. B4v-B5), such as "Po a famous river in Italy" and "Seine a river in France which runs through Paris" (B4v). In effect, Taylor functions as editor of his own text, just as he defines and locates all the cities referred to in the speech by London (B6-B6v). He closes these commentary notes by indicating their purpose: "These few expressions I thought fit to set downe here for the illustration of such words and places as may seeme hard and obscure to some meane Readers" (B6v). Because more room remains on sheet B of the text, one wonders why Taylor stopped with explicating only these three pageant devices. Surely references in Endymion's speech to certain pastoral figures might warrant a gloss, as might the references in Time's final speech to former Clothworkers who served the city as Lord Mayor. In any event, no other pageant writer has chosen to use his text in precisely this way, that is, to offer editorial commentary as a kind of appendix to the event, as an aid to readers.
These printed dramatic texts thus complete a process of collaboration. Patron, playwright, and printer unite their skills to produce drama and to produce a text. Such a book may or may not faithfully or exclusively represent the dramatic event, as the examples clearly demonstrate. Increasingly, dramatic texts with their prefatory material of dedications and addresses to readers, marginal notes, digressions, and other seemingly extraneous material resemble books of other kinds. I think that this development reflects an increased status and stature for playtexts as they come to take their position in the marketplace, jostling hip by thigh with prose tracts and poetry editions. As Robert Hapgood writes: "It is sometimes said backstage that a play belongs at first to the playwright. During rehearsals, it belongs to the director. After opening night, it belongs to the actors. And after it has run for a few weeks, it belongs to the audience, to whose responses the actors cater."(22) Hapgood fails, however, to mention the printed text. When a play or pageant becomes a book, it gains a permanence otherwise unavailable in stage performance alone. Clearly, dramatists and printers come to recognize the lasting value of textual performance in civic pageants.
UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS
1 Adams, 84.
2 Orgel, 3-6.
3 Bruns, 44.
4 Murray, 73.
5 Lowenstein, 1991, 182.
6 Lowenstein, 1985, 105, 107-08.
7 Jonson, V.iii.99-100.
8 Dekker, 2:303.
9 For further information about Dugdale's text, see Bergeron, 111-25.
10 Johnson, 151-71.
11 De Grazia and Stallybrass, 279.
12 Collections, 63.
13 Munday, 3. All quotations from Munday will be from this edition.
14 Dekker, 3:247. Text slightly modernized.
15 Dekker, 4:82. All quotations from this pageant and from the 1629 one will come from the Bowers edition.
16 Middleton, lines 21-24. All quotations from Middleton will be from this edition and cited by line numbers.
17 Johnson, 168.
18 Squire, A2.
19 Webster, 3:315. All quotations will be from this edition.
20 Heywood, 95. All quotations from Heywood will come from this edition.
21 Taylor, A5. All quotations will come from this unique octavo text in the collection of the John Rylands Library, Manchester.
22 Hapgood, 49.
Adams, Robert M., ed. Ben Jonson's Plays and Masques. New York, 1979.
Bergeron, David M. "Gilbert Dugdale and the Royal Entry of James I (1604)." Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 13 (1983): 111-25.
Bruns, Gerald L. Inventions: Writing, Textuality, and Understanding in Literary History. New Haven, 1982.
Collections III: A Calendar of Dramatic Records in the Books of the Livery Companies of London 1485-1640. Ed. Jean Robertson and D.J. Gordon. Oxford, 1954.
De Grazia, Margreta, and Stallybrass, Peter. "The Materiality of the Shakespearean Text." Shakespeare Quarterly 44 (1993): 255-83.
Dekker, Thomas. The Dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker. 4 vols. Ed. Fredson Bowers. Cambridge, 1955-61.
Hapgood, Robert. Shakespeare the Theater Poet. Oxford, 1988.
Heywood, Thomas. Thomas Heywood's Pageants: A Critical Edition. Ed. David M. Bergeron. New York, 1986.
Johnson, Paula. "Jacobean Ephemera and the Immortal Word." Renaissance Drama, n.s. 8 (1977): 151-71.
Jonson, Ben. Ben Jonson: Three Comedies. Ed. Michael Jamieson. Baltimore, 1969.
Lowenstein, Joseph. "The Script in the Marketplace." Representations 12 (1985): 101-14.
-----. "Printing and 'the Multitudinous Presse': The Contentious Texts of Jonson's Masques." In Ben Jonson's 1616 Folio, ed. Jennifer Brady and W.H. Herendeen, 168-91. Newark, DE, 1991.
Middleton, Thomas. The Complete Works of Thomas Middleton. Ed. Gary Taylor. Oxford, 1998.
Munday, Anthony. Pageants and Entertainments of Anthony Munday. Ed. David M. Bergeron. New York, 1985.
Murray, Timothy. Theatrical Legitimation: Allegories of Genius in Seventeenth-Century England and France. New York, 1987.
Orgel, Stephen. "What Is a Text?" Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama 24 (1981): 3-6.
Squire, John. The Triumphs of Peace. London, 1620.
Taylor, John. The Triumphs of Fame and Honour. London, 1634.
Webster, John. The Complete Works of John Webster. Ed. F.L. Lucas. London, 1927.
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|Author:||Bergeron, David M.|
|Date:||Mar 22, 1998|
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