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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: January ::
New Discovery
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0009. Friday, 5 January 1996.

From:           Thomas G. Bishop <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Jan 1996 13:21:54 -0500
Subject:        New Discovery

To inaugurate the move to Bowie State, I thought I'd take the opportunity to
announce an important new discovery I recently made in our field while doing
some research in England. Please address comments to me personally rather than
to this list, unless they would interest us all.

Recently, among the uncalendared MSS in the collection of the late Marquis of
Blattant, I came across the following interesting account.  It appears to be a
report from the Venetian Ambassador at the court of King James 1 to the Council
of Ten at Venice.  The late Marquis was, as you will know, a keen snapper-up of
unconsidered trayfuls, and may have acquired this during one of his many
Italian sojourns, where he was the special friend of the old Duca dei Angoli
Oscuri, the gossip-merchant and notorious "fence."

In the new MS, Ambassador Correr seems to be reporting on a previously unknown
masque, given during the negotiations for the Spanish Marriage of Prince
Charles.  By an unknown author, clearly of strong Puritan sensitivities, it
apparently is a kind of answer to the wedding masques, such as "Hymenaei," of
earlier in the reign, and purports to examine what might be called "The
Miseries of Enforced Marriage."  I offer Correr's account here in translation
from the Italian. As Correr spoke no English, he gives no indication of text,
but his eye for visual detail was always keen. He reports as follows:

"I went to the Prince's masque this evening, where, as usual, all was made
ready with great expense and endeavour.  At the end of the hall was hung a
great curtain with a scene from antiquity: Jason telling Medea of his new
marriage to Creon's daughter, Medea holding her two sons by the hand. Above was
a motto: "Cuckullus non facit monarchum" which I thought very bad Latin. At the
loud sound of a mass of very untuneful crumhorns, the curtain fell in a heap
and the antimasque rushed in, which consisted of a swarm of "paparazzi" with
very bright flashing torches in their hands, surrounding a woman dressed as the
virginal DIANA. With a great noise of words and a dance full of a thousand
frantic gestures, the antimasquers assailed Diana, but at last she threw them
back with the help of a team of sober-clad lawyers. A woman dressed as "The
Sun" then sang a song in praise of Diana, while the latter most graciously
removed some of her clothes and performed athletic and martial dances for her
admirers (one sneaking paparazzo was here driven off again) and then withdrew.
Then the whole scene was wonderfully changed to Windsor forest, where was
discovered the Prince, arrayed magnificently as HERCULES, beating off a crowd
of tiny dwarvish detractors (I had seen this one before some years hence). A
man dressed as Fama or "The Times" then made a great (and somewhat lengthy)
speech in praise of Hercules, but told of a quarrel he had unto Diana, for that
she had stolen the Club wherewith he used to beat down the press of his
enemies, much weakening his glory and power over his people.  The Prince's
followers, a team of Royal Equerries dressed as Scotsmen, entered and performed
a fantastical dance with swords (not without danger to the Prince), whereupon
there entered also Diana with her lawyers and supporters dressed as the nymphs
of London. After several bitter speeches uttered upon either side, a great
battle then ensued, in which Hercules and Diana shot arrows at one another from
their great bows, while lawyers and Scotsmen skirmished in duels, and the
nymphs lamented. All at once, there appeared Hercules' minion, Camilla, who
menaced Diana with a terrible scowl. Here the action became most various and
remarkable, the air crowded with missiles, epithets and implements. By
marvellous design, a sort of thick dust began to obscure the whole, the Sun set
fire to the Times, nymphs tore their hair and leapt upon Scots, the paparazzi
returned in a mass, and a great noise of dogs and citizens began lewdly to
brabble without.  Whereupon, most precipitately, the Monarch of this Realm
commanded the whole show to be brought unto a sudden end, and withdrew in a
high displeasure, leaving Hercules and Diana crestfallen and dishevelled among
the ruins."

Cheers,
Tom
 

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