AMUSEMENTS OF THE PEOPLE
225. ALTHOUGH Thespis, mounted on his cart, was unquestionably the father of the Greek drama, the Origin of Dramatic Representations of every kind must be sought in an idolatrous form of public worship. When Danaus, a son of Belus, having quarrelled with his brother, Agyptus, with whom he shared the throne of Egypt, set sail with a numerous retinue in quest of a new settlement, he in due time landed near the city of Argos, of which he presently became king. Here he instituted festivals in honour of Bacchus, a god synonymous, as is generally believed, with the Egyptian Osiris. These festivals soon became popular all over Greece, but, owing to the low state of literature at the time, the songs were very mean, and the festivals were conducted in a most licentious manner. In after years, however, when literature had made some advancement among the various tribes, and these licentious revels had, in a great measure, filled the minds of the Athenians with disgust, a praiseworthy attempt was made to honour the god in a more befitting manner; they gave him the appellation of Dithyrambus, and the odes sung at the celebration of his festival, Dithyrambs. But the Athenians did not stop here. True to their character as patrons of learning, they offered a prize for the best Dithyramb, delivered exlemj5ore in a wild, enthusiastic manner. The prize was a Iragos, or goat, and he who gained it had the privilege of sacrificing it to the god. From this circumstance every theatrical representation in which the life of a person was supposed to be taken came to be denominated a Tragedy, or song of the goat. Some years later a second prize, consisting of a cask of wine, was offered for the best comic song delivered extempore in praise of the same god, each competitor having his face besmeared with the lees of wine. As these comic performers were not tolerated in the city, but were compelled to abide in and around the villages near Athens, the comic ode thus strangely called into existence received the name, first of a village song, and then vintage song; until at last the Greek term Komus was applied to every festal procession and dramatic representation not purely tragic, and in which singing bore a part. Hence the modern word Comedy. The drama remained in this rude state until Thespis, a native of Icaria, appeared on the scene. Taking his subjects from history, he introduced a singer who addressed himself to the chorus in a monotonous strain, and they in return addressed themselves to him. By-and-by it occurred to Thespis to make an actor recite the brave deeds of some hero, between the singing, and so relieve both the chorus and the singer. This introduction proved so satisfactory to the Athenians that many among them materially assisted the foundation of a regular drama by applying themselves to the composition of tragedies and comedies. But the great reformer of the ancient drama was AEschylus. He introduced dialogue, and diminished the length of the chorus singing, which had no longer any reference to Bacchus, but partook of the subject of the play. The portable stage he abolished, having a regular theatre built, replete with scenery; he also introduced a chief character or hero of the play, whom he raised above all the others by means of the cothurnus, or buskin, and dressed the whole of the performers in elaborate costumes; so that little remained to be done by Sophocles, a later reformer and writer of tragedies, except to add a third speaking character, and to dress each performer in a habit suited to the character he played.
226. Pantomime had its origin among the Romans. One day, while Livius Andronicus, a favourite actor and poet, was reciting his own pieces in the theatre, he was encored so many times that he became quite hoarse, and was unable to finish his performance. Seeing which, the audience compelled another actor to recite the words, and entreated Andronicus to supply the action. In this novel form of entertainment the poet acquitted himself so well that his admirers insisted upon a repetition of it on the following day, and pantomime, or the art of mute gesture, at once became popular. An early step in the development of this new art was the selection of a singer who possessed a voice closely resembling that of the pantomimist. The singer was generally stationed out of sight of the audience. When several singers accompanied the actions of the pantomimist, a man wearing iron shoes beat time for them with his feet. Pantomime was brought to the highest state of perfection under the Empire by two incomparable exponents of the art. These were Pylades of Cilicia, and Bathyllus of Alexandria. The former represented tender, graceful, and pathetic characters; while the latter excelled in comedy. The subjects of the pantomimus, or pantomime, in which they appeared were taken from the myths of gods and heroes; and as no other actors were considered sufficiently talented to lend them support, the representations of all the different characters, both male and female, by turns devolved upon them alone. From first to last they were never off the stage for an instant. Scenic and mechanical accessories were wanting altogether, but a choir, accompanied by flute-players, sang the text of the play all through. A later stage in the development of the Roman pantomime was the introduction of a number of dancers of both sexes, whose gestures conveyed a distinct dramatic idea. This species of performance was clearly the ballet d'action, which employs the talents of so many Continental pantomimists of the present day.
227. The elements of the Italian Comedy, which was the parent of that portion of our English pantomime denominated the Harlequinade, were drawn from the oral drama of the Romans rather than from the pantomimus. Contemporary with the pantomimus there existed two other highly popular forms of theatrical representation in the days of the Empire--the Atellana and the Mimus. Both were a species of improvised burlesque, though differing widely in many respects. The Atellana received its title from the Oscian city of Atella, where it first came into notice. As originally performed by young citizens, in typical masks, it was simply a caricature of the persons and a parody of the private lives of the trading classes; but in proportion as it became popular it developed into a regular comedy, and at length found a place in the theatre as a comic relief to the serious drama. The four chief characters in the Atellana were identical with those afterwards revived in the Italian comedy, and styled "the Four Masks," viz., Harlequin, Pantaloon, Brighella or Clown, and the Doctor. Like the Atellana, the Mimus was pressed into service as an interlude or postlude to the regular drama. The dialogue was always witty, occasionally not only coarse, but highly indecent. Its principal character was Archimimus, dressed in the particoloured costume of a harlequin, with the addition of a short cloak. To him all the other characters were subordinate; he was, in short, the catechiser of them all. Armed with a short staff or wand--which survives to-day in Harlequin's Wooden Bat--he conducted a conversation with his companions upon current events, and the witty retorts. he elicited in answer to his various questions were well calculated to raise a laugh on the part of the audience. This was the origin of the Topical Allusions in our modern pantomimes. In the Italian comedy the fun was kept alive all through by Harlequin; but after the death of John Rich, the original Harlequin on the English stage, this character degenerated into a mere dancing lover, whose business it was to protect Columbine and play off tricks upon his boorish rival, the Clown, and the father of his beauteous sweetheart, Pantaloon; and when Joe Grimaldi appeared upon the scene his genius invested the part of Clown with an importance before undreamt of. It is a fact very little known that Rich made Harlequin speechless not only to afford himself scope for his marvellous pantomimic abilities, but because he was such a "bad study " that he never could learn a speech of any kind by heart.
228. The Dress of the Pantomime Clown was a blending of the costumes of the French Pierrot and the old English court jester introduced by Grimaldi himself; the floured face and white garments of the former being used as a groundwork for the variegated spots and patches of vermilion paint. The closely-shaven head was from time immemorial a characteristic of all fools, while the tail of a hare took the place of the cock's comb generally worn by the jesters of a bygone age. The Pantaloon's Dress is, according to Goldoni, the historian and reformer of the Italian comedy, that of a Venetian merchant of the time of the Republic. "The red waistcoat, and breeches cut like drawers," says he, "and red stockings and slippers, represent exactly the dress of the ancient inhabitants of thq Adriatic lagoons, and the beard, which was a great ornament in those distant days, has been carried to a grotesque extreme in these latter days." Harlequin's Black Mask, which, as may have been noticed, he pulls over his forehead when the Clown and Policeman attempt to lay hold of him, is a relic of the magic cap which in fairy legends afforded its wearer the power of becoming invisible at any moment by simply turning it round. His parti-coloured dress and wooden bat have already been accounted for (see 227). With regard to the latter, it should be added that it performs certain magical changes because the Fairy Queen is supposed to resign her magic wand to Harlequin directly he is introduced in the transformation scene (see 230).
229. The Pantomime Opening now demands our careful attention. In the days of Rich and Grimaldi this was by no means the chief attraction of the evening's entertainment, being merely intended to lead up to and introduce the Harlequinade, or Pantomime properly so-called. But, after the death of Grimaldi, when good clowns were hard to find, managers had to rely principally upon an elaborate scenic display, and the Harlequinade sank into insignificance. It is a remarkable fact that the Pantomime "Opening" found its origin neither in the opera nor in the drama, but in the puppet-shows. During the Restoration period these puppet-shows became the rage of London; so much so that the regular actors petitioned the king for the removal of a puppet-show in Cecil Street, Strand, on the plea that it interfered with the prosperity of Drury Lane Theatre. Nor was it the drama alone that had cause to fear competition from the puppet-showman; his success affected even the opera. From an account of a dispute between Powell, the proprietor of a celebrated puppet-show in Covent Garden, and the managers of the Italian Opera (temp. 1711), we learn that "the Opera at the Haymarket, and that under the Piazza of Covent Garden are at present the two leading diversions of the town; Powell professing in his advertisements to set up 'Whittington and his Cat' against 'Rinaldo' and 'Armida.'" We are told by Strutt that the subjects of the puppet-show, plays were always taken from popular stories of knights and giants, therefore the foundation of our modem pantomimes upon well-worn nursery legends and fairy tales is no new thing. Perhaps this was the secret of the success of the puppet-shows. They contained all the essentials of the opera, which was closely imitated, even to the mechanical effects and the apotheosis in the final scene. If the musical portions of the puppet-show performance were far below the level of those of the opera, these shortcomings were atoned for by the interest of the story, which could be understood by young and old alike. Children were delighted with the puppet-shows, and so were their parents, who had long been surfeited with mythology and ancient history at the opera. Barring the quality of the music, the only material differences between the two forms of dramatic representation were the subject of the story, and the substitution of fairies and demons in the puppet-shows for the "goddesses" and "furies" of the opera. The self-same arrangement was introduced in the pantomimes. The "Demon Scene," with its red fire and trap business, invariably discovered on the rising of the curtain upon a pantomime of the old-fashioned order, is now a thing of the past; but the fairies, the fairy ballet, and the transformation scene remain (see 230).
230. It is to the masques that we must look for the origin of the Transformation Scene, and, indeed, of every other kind of spectacle that now captivates the eyes of the beholder on the boards of a theatre. These Masquesso called from the masks originally worn by the male performers--were the private theatricals of the nobility, and of royalty at the court. "But while the public theatre continued long in this contracted state," writes Isaac D'Israeli, in his "Curiosities of Literature," speaking of the drama during the reign of James I., "without scenes, without dresses, without an orchestra, the court displayed scenical and dramatical exhibitions with such costly magnificence, such inventive fancy, and such miraculous art, that one may doubt if the combined genius of Ben Jonson, Inigo Jones, or Lawes, or Ferobosco, at an era most favourable to the arts of imagination, has been equalled by the modem spectacle of the opera." It was directly from these masques that the scenic embellishments of the theatre and the English opera itself took their rise (see 231). The organization of a court masque involved preparations on a most extensive scale, and employed the talents of some of the foremost men of the time. We read how Lord Bacon, Selden, and Whitlock sat in committee for days together in order to work out the details of the last grand masque set before Charles I. Not only did they invent the devices, but they formed the processions and arranged the dances. When the eventful day arrived, they took upon themselves all the responsibilities of the stage management; while Lawes, Inigo Jones, and Ben Jonson, who had lavished their entire resources upon their respective departments of the production, took care to work the machinery themselves as a safeguard against hitch or accident. It is gratifying to learn that the success of this masque was so great that the enthusiasm of those who were privileged to witness it knew no bounds. Now this, similar to every other masque, had, for its "last scene of all," an apotheosis gradually led up to by a series of picturesque mechanical changes to the strains of melodious music, and amid a perfect blaze of illumination, similar in all respects to the modern transformation scene.
231. Considering the part played by music in the early Greek drama, The Opera can scarcely be regarded as an invention of modern times. All musical authorities are agreed that the opera had its origin in the tragedies of the ancient Greeks, of which the dialogue and chorus parts were rendered in a kind of rhythmic monotone or chant (see 225). To trace the gradual development of music until it culminated in the opera would be an onerous task; but it may safely be assumed that for this form of theatrical representation we are indebted to the Italians, who are, as a nation, ardent lovers of music, and whose soft language lends itself so admirably to musical setting. The first musical piece of which we have any record was "Pomponiano," a tragedy, partly sung and partly recited, which was produced at Rome in the year 1480. Eighty years afterwards Alfonso delle Viola set a drama to music; while a so-called opera was performed for the entertainment of Henry III., of France, on his return from Poland, at Venice, in 1574. Most people imagine that the opera was introduced to our countrymen by the Italians, but this is a mistake. The opera in England is an institution of native growth. Curiously enough, it came about in consequence of the interdiction of all theatrical representations and public amusements during the Commonwealth. Effectually though the Puritan régime crushed every attempt to re-establish the drama in the public theatres, it never succeeded in suppressing the masques in the private mansions of the wealthy (see 230). Profiting by the loophole thus presented for the re-introduction of the drama under a musical disguise, Sir William D'Avenant produced at Rutland House, Charterhouse Yard, on May 23rd, 1656, what was styled "An Entertainment of Declamation and Musick after the Manner of the Ancients." This was the first attempt at a musical piece in this country, and it proved highly successful. The following year the same astute manager produced what purported to be an opera, though described as "The Siege of Rhodes; a Representation by the Art of Perspective in Scenes, and the Story Sung in Recitative Musick." It is undeniable that this was the first opera ever heard of in England. Encouraged by its success, Sir William D'Avenant had the plays of "Macbeth" and "The Tempest" converted into operas; but before these were ready for production he died, and it devolved upon his son, Sir Charles D'Avenant, to bring them out at the Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre, under royal and distinguished patronage. From this time forward the opera and the drama flourished in the open light of day side by side.
232. The English Concert came into existence under the following circumstances. During the early part of the year 1672 John Banister, "the king's first violin," and conductor of the court band of Charles II., incurred the mortal displeasure of his majesty by observing that the court band should, in all fairness to native talent, be composed exclusively of Englishmen instead of foreigners. For this indiscretion he was promptly cashiered. Whereupon he at once converted his house "over against the George Tavern," in Whitefriars, into a "Musick School," and determined, in the course of the ensuing winter, to give a series of concerts at which the public might derive pleasure from hearing good music, similar to that which the king and court had every day at their command at Whitehall. A gallery erected for the instrumentalists in the largest room of his house was, with singular modesty, shut in with curtains, while the ground floor was filled with small tables and chairs in ale-house fashion. A shilling was charged for admission, returnable in refreshments. According to advertisements in the "London Gazette" the concerts were held daily at four o'clock in the afternoon. This was six years anterior to the establishment of those select musical assemblies by Thomas Britton, the "Musical Small-Coal Man" in Clerkenwell, which so many excellent people believe to have given rise to the English concert. That Banister's enterprise must have been attended with considerable success is evidenced by the fact that his advertisements are traceable in the "Gazette" until the close of 1678, or within a year of his death.
233. The first London Music-Hall was the Canterbury, in the Westminster Bridge Road, opened in 1848. Under another name, however, the music-hall can boast of an antiquity as venerable as the opera and the stage of the Restoration. When the Civil War scattered the players it did not spare the musicians, who were compelled to seek their livelihood as best they could. A few of the more favoured ones visited the houses of the gentry, the rest resorted to taverns, where they invited the public to hear them play. The taverns at which such entertainments, both vocal and instrumental, were given, took the name of "Musick Houses," to distinguish them from taverns of an ordinary kind. They were established in all the most populous parts of the town, and adapted for the reception of all kinds of visitors. Pepys speaks of the Dolphin Tavern in St. Paul's Churchyard as having "an excellent company of fiddlers;" and in another place he tells us how, at the Globe Tavern at Greenwich, he heard the music, led by a woman "with a rod in her hand keeping time." At the Castle Tavern in Paternoster Row second-rate singers from the operas were regularly engaged, in addition to the best instrumentalists in town. We hear also of famous music houses at Wapping and in Moorfields, which were kept open day and night, and had bands of fiddlers and dancers for the entertainment of visitors. The Moorfields establishment is described as built in the form of an amphitheatre, the dances taking place on a circular platform in the centre. The Wapping Music House was elaborately decorated and had numerous apartments, both above and below ground, all calculated to give greater zest and variety to the pleasures of the hour. Sadler's Wells Theatre was originally a "Musick House" where tumbling, tight-rope dancing, and other performances of the "variety" order took place. And what in after years became the Grecian and Britannia theatres were at first "saloons" devoted to instrumental music, singing, dancing, and variety entertainments. Nor must we omit to mention the far-famed Evans's Supper Rooms, in "the joyous Neighbourhood of Covent Garden," which were at the height of their popularity a quarter of a century ago. To trace the origin of the variety show it will be necessary to go back to feudal times, when every castle throughout the land had its own music-hall in miniature. "At evening in the castle hall, when the lord and his retainers sat at ease over their measures of wine or ale, the minstrels sang their ballads, acrobats tumbled and wrestled, dancers twirled and pirouetted, jugglers threw balls and swallowed swords, and trained beasts were put through their paces." Truly a lineage so ancient as this cannot be laid claim to by the British drama itself.
234. Oddly enough the prototype of the Court Fools and jesters of a bygone day was a woman. We read in Greek mythology that when Ceres went in search of her daughter, Proserpine, she was accompanied by Jambe, one of the merry maids of the Queen of Eleusis, who enlivened her with her witty sayings. As this lambe kept a sort of commonplace book filled with short satirical verses written in a novel measure, it is from her that the designation "Iambic Verse" has been derived. The professional humorists whose business it was to make princes and nobles "laugh and grow fat" were early introduced into Northern Europe from Italy. They were of two distinct kinds. The first, a jester, dressed in a parti-coloured costume, was the constant attendant upon his royal or noble master; whereas the second was a half-witted fellow, attired in fantastic garments, whose place was in the scullery, to afford sport for the retainers and menials. The latter undoubtedly suggested the fools of Shakespeare's plays, and survives to-day in our Circus Clowns. The French Pierrot and the English pantomime clown had a different origin altogether (see 227, 228).
235. The perennial Christy Minstrel Entertainment was originally a very different thing from that with which we are all familiar at the present day. Instead of, as they often are, operatic artists and low comedians in disguise, the companions of the world-famous Ned Christy were accomplished imitators of the darkies of the sunny South; rendering their plantation songs and dances exactly as they had been handed down from generation to generation. Their funny sayings and droll antics were also drawn from life. Recourse was therefore had to the burnt cork only to make the impersonation the more perfect. No mawkish sentimental ballads entered into their programme. Their costume was that commonly met with on the cotton plantations. It was, in fact, Ned Christy's darling idea to transplant the negro life of the South to the North. For a time his experiment was tried upon a very small section of the public, albeit it proved successful from the first. Arriving in the spring of 1842 at a lake-side hotel in Buffalo City, he made a proposal to the hostess of that establishment to give a series of darkey impersonations there for the entertainment of the visitors. It mattered not to him that he was single-handed. With the assistance of the son of the hostess (who, under the assumed name of Charles Christy, afterwards introduced the minstrel entertainment into England), and a young man named Vaughan, Ned Christy gave his nigger show once or twice every day, to the intense delight of the guests at that lake-side resort. The instruments played upon by these three imitation niggers were a banjo, violin, tambourine, triangle, and bones. By the month of June these concerts had attracted so much attention that the proprietor of the Buffalo Theatre was induced to allow the black-visaged trio to occupy his boards for four nights in succession. This daring innovation proved an immense success. An extending tour followed, until at last Ned Christy, with an augmented troupe, pitched his tent at the Mechanics' Hall, 472, Broadway, New York City, where he remained for several months, giving two performances daily. Such was the origin of the Christy Minstrel entertainment. Although the gentlemanly performers at St. James's Hall and elsewhere have nowadays little or nothing in common, either in regard to their songs or manner of speech, with the darkies of the sunny South, it is not likely that they will ever abandon the use of burnt cork. This is because there are times and seasons when, in the absence of a more remunerative engagement on the operatic stage or in the concert-room, vocalists of high standing will often condescend to appear with the minstrels under an assumed name, and proof against recognition behind their sable disguise. To this fact the excellent vocalization of the burnt-cork entertainers at St. James's Hall is in a large measure attributable.
236. Playing the audience out with "God Save the Queen" at the close of an entertainment had its counterpart in the London theatres of Shakespeare's day. As soon as the epilogue was spoken, all the performers came on the stage, and, kneeling down, prayed for their noble patrons, whose "servants" they were. "Her majesty's servants" always prayed for the queen. The first public performance of the National Anthem is reported in the "Daily Advertiser" for Monday, September 30th, 1745, as follows:--"On Saturday night last the audience at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, were agreeably surprised by the gentlemen belonging to that house performing the anthem, 'God save our noble King.' The universal applause it met with-being encored with repeated huzzas-sufficiently denoted in how just abhorrence they held the arbitrary schemes of our enemies, and detest the despotic attempts of Papal power." The enthusiasm displayed by the patriotic auditors on this memorable occasion doubtless accounts for the idea that a modern audience should stand up while the National Anthem is being played, to show their loyalty. Though the actors no longer appear on the stage at the conclusion of the night's performance, the chorus still sing "God save the Queen" before the orchestra strikes up the overture on the opening night of the opera season.
237. The fact that Women rarely applaud at the theatre or in the concert-room is no evidence that they do not appreciate a fine performance. To tell the truth, their hands are not well adapted for any great demonstration of their feelings; moreover, they have their gloves to consider. As for shouting "Encore!" or indulging in any other vocal manifestations of approval, such a proceeding would be regarded as highly indecorous. On the other hand, laughter and tears are easily induced, and these may be looked upon as legitimate outlets for their feelings.
238. Equestrian artists, acrobats, and other "variety" performers invariably make their obeisance to, and acknowledge the plaudits of the audience by Kissing and Extending the Hand; or, in the case of females, both hands, in addition to bending the knee. This was the Roman mode of saluting the statues of the gods, the emperor, and other exalted personages. Charioteers in the circus likewise saluted the populace with the whip-hand as they flew round the arena; but actors in the theatre kissed both hands and bent the knee.
239. The reason why the Tuning up of Musical Instruments always takes place in the orchestra itself is, because the temperature of the ante-room being different from that of the theatre or concert-room, if the instruments were tuned up in the former place they would instantly get out of tune again in the latter.
240. The Construction of a Modern Theatre differs in no essential respect from that of the Elizabethan playhouses, which did not require to be built at all, being ready to hand in the London inn-yards. The galleries ranging one above the other round the yard served for the more select portions of the auditorium, and are evident in the tiers of a modern theatre; while our pit, or floor of the house, was derived from the inn-yard itself; where were congregated the City 'prentices, tradesmen, sailors, and the rougher element of playgoers--the "groundlings," as they are styled by Shakespeare.
241. Panoramas were the invention of Robert Barker, an Irish portrait painter residing. in Edinburgh towards the close of the last century. It was within the narrow confines of a prison cell that the idea of the panorama first arose in his mind. By all accounts, life in a Scottish Debtors' Prison was very different from that in the Fleet, whose inmates, of whatever station, were compelled to herd together. In his Edinburgh prison-house, at all events, Robert Barker had a cell to himself. This cell was so feebly lighted by means of a small air-hole in one of the corners, that the only way in which he could read the letters that came to him was by holding them up at arm's length against that part of the wall which was opposite to the airhole. By so doing the words not only became perfectly distinct, but the effect produced was very striking. It then occurred to him that if a picture were placed in a similar position it would produce a still more wonderful effect. Having plenty of time on his hands, he devised first of all the illuminated panorama in a darkened room, and subsequently the circular panorama, which after his liberation he patented on June 19th, 1787. "Out of evil cometh good." If he had not been imprisoned for debt in Edinburgh he would never have amassed a considerable fortune by his Panorama in Leicester Square.
242. The Waxwork Exhibition had its origin in a custom of the Romans, who caused a waxen bust of a distinguished citizen to be borne in front of the bier at his funeral, and afterwards assigned it to a particular niche in the vestibule of the house (see 137). The vulgar notion that wax models of illustrious personages were first produced and exhibited by the far-famed Madame Tussaud is altogether wrong. Around the walls of Islip's chapel in Westminster Abbey there may yet be seen, preserved in glass cases, the waxen effigies of royal and other exalted personages which, from their faded and dilapidated appearance, have merited the description of "The Ragged Regiment." These comprise Queen Elizabeth, Charles II., William III. and Mary, Queen Anne, John Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham, with his Duchess and child, the Duchess of Richmond, William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, and Lord Nelson; and, like the busts of the Romans, they originally played an important part in the obsequies of the persons represented. Arrived at the tomb, the counterfeit presentment of the deceased worthy was left there as a temporary monument until such time as it could be replaced by a more enduring one of stone. These figures are clearly of French workmanship, and very faithful portraits they are too. Modelling the human figure in wax was a favourite pursuit during the Middle Ages, and the revival of art in the fifteenth century gave it a new impetus, more particularly in Italy and Germany. One of the masterpieces of the Florentine ceroplastor, Orsini, is now preserved in the museum at Lille. Other examples by the same hand were dedicated as votive offerings to the shrines of saints by the friends of Lorenzo di Medici, in thanksgiving for his escape from death at the hands of the conspirators of the Pazzi in the year 1478. The earliest printed account of a group of wax figures exhibited to the public for payment occurs in "The Enterprising Correspondent" for 1738, which gives a detailed description of "The Nativity in the Stable at Bethlehem," then on view in the Maze at Amsterdam. Now this subject was not at all new, for the visitors must have met with the very same thing in the churches every year at Christmas time. Indeed, there can be no question that the travelling waxwork show originated in the "Crib," which proves such an attraction in all Roman Catholic churches during the Christmas season; for it is a fact that until the period of the French Revolution none but Biblical subjects were chosen. Such groups as "The Death of Abel," "The Judgment of Solomon," and "Daniel in the Lions' Den," are still as popular as ever at country fairs. Madame Tussaud was not the foundress of the first permanent exhibition of life-size wax models of celebrated personages, either in Paris or elsewhere. The credit of founding a cosmopolitan portrait gallery, such as has now for many years constituted one of the sights of London, belongs to her uncle, J. C. Curtius, who shortly before the outbreak of the Revolution of 1789 had two distinct exhibitions in the French capital--one in the Palais Royal, containing the counterfeit presentments in wax of celebrities of all kinds; and another on the Boulevard du Temple, exclusively set apart for those of murderers and other sensational notorieties. The latter collection was undeniably the original "Chamber of Horrors." It was from M. Curtius that his niece, Mdlle. Marie Gresholtz, afterwards Madame Tussaud, learned the art of modelling in wax.
243. Fairs originated among the ancient Egyptians. At the periodical overflow of the Nile, when the lower levels of the Nile valley were converted into a watery waste, it was the custom for the entire population to crowd in barges to the various festivals held in the principal towns or in the neighbourhood of the great temples. At these places the scene was one of unusual bustle and activity; produce and manufactures of every kind found a ready market, while the priests made a rich harvest by practising astrology, computing genealogies, consulting oracles, and in divers similar ways turning popular superstition to their own profit. This periodical flocking to the great festivals, and the marts and amusements carried on there, obtains at the present day among the Hindoos and other Asiatic races. The Greeks and Romans had their fairs also, when labour and law pleadings were for the nonce suspended. In the early days of the Church these assemblages always took place on the festival of the patron saint of the town in which they were held, or else on the anniversary of the day upon which the parish church was dedicated to him. Tradesmen were then allowed to display their wares for sale in the churchyard, and all who came could, if they were so minded, quench their thirst with excellent ale brewed by the clergy themselves, the proceeds being given to the poor (see 445). Instead of fairs, however, these annual merry-makings were styled 'Wakes, because the faithful were supposed to spend the vigil in watching and offering up prayers to the local patron saint. Descending to more modern times, we find the religious element altogether wanting, and the term "Fair" substituted for the old-fashioned "Wake." Country fairs were little short of a necessity in the days when the population was small, and facilities for reaching the larger commercial centres were few. At the present time those which still remain have long since outlived their usefulness. It is easy to understand that the shows, swings, booths, etc., were merely the incidental adjuncts to the commercial fair (see 333).
244. It is interesting to learn how and when the Rival Blues in the Oxford and Cambridge boat-race first became settled. When on June 10th, 1829, the first inter-University contest took place, the Oxford crew adopted the colours of one of their colleges, Christ Church, then head of the river, and which had four of its men rowing in the boat. Those colours were dark blue. The members of the Cambridge crew were drawn from two colleges only, and as they could not agree about the colours, they wore their respective college colours, over which each man had a pink sash, in compliment to their captain, whose colours were pink. The second University boat-race was not rowed until 1836. It was on this occasion that the colours were determined. Oxford had their dark blue, but the Cambridge boat displayed no colour in her bows. Just before the start many suggestions were made, and no agreement could be arrived at until a famous oarsman rushed into an adjacent haberdasher's shop, asked for a coloured handkerchief or a piece of Eton light-blue ribbon, got it, and affixed it. The light blue then became the Cambridge colour; while the Oxford blue was in the following year deepened, to make the distinction the more marked. For the foregoing account of the origin of the colours we are indebted to one of the three survivors of the first crews, the Very Rev. Charles Merivale, Dean of Ely.
245. It is not simply for amusement that the Eastern shepherds beguile the time by Playing on the Pipes. According to a very general belief in the East, music renders sheep docile, and makes them fatten readily.
246. Playing Cards were invented about the year 1390, for the amusement of Charles VI., of France, who had relapsed into a very melancholy state of mind; who the inventor was is not recorded. The French playing cards are the same now as they were five centuries ago. And, since the court cards bear different names upon them, this helps us not a little to determine their meaning. The four KINGS are David, Alexander, Caesar, and Charlemagne, representing the four celebrated monarchies of the Jews, Macedonians, Romans, and Franks under Charlemagne. The QUEENS are Argine, Esther, Judith, and Pallas, typifying noble birth, piety, fortitude, and wisdom, the four qualifications supposed to reside in the person of every queen. A key to these names is furnished us by the circumstance that Argine is an anagram for Regina, meaning queen by descent. The KNAVES are the servants or pages of the knights, represented by what we call the "spades." Knave is an old English term for servant; witness the allusion in an old translation of the Scriptures, where St. Paul is styled the Knave of Jesus Christ. To come now to the suits, or colours, as they are called in France. These suits were intended by the inventor to represent the four orders or classes of men in the king's dominions. The HEARTS, or Caesars, are the gens de choeur, choir-men and ecclesiastics. The Spaniards, who undoubtedly derived their playing cards from the French, have instead of hearts colas, or chalices, which mean the same thing. The SPADES are an imperfect representation of the ends or points of the pikes anciently carried by the nobility, forming the prime military section of the people. The Spaniards make use of estades, or swords, in lieu of the pike ends; which being so, perhaps accounts for our misapplication of the figure. The DIAMONDS denote the order of citizens, merchants, and tradesmen. The French term for this figure, carreaux, square stone tiles or the like, is translated by the Dutch Stienen, literally stones, but applied in the sense of diamonds or precious stones. The Spaniards substitute a coin for this figure. Lastly, Treste, the trefoil or common clover, signifies the husbandmen or peasants. The English term CLUBS has been derived from the Spaniards, who employ staves or clubs.
247. The invention of Chess is ascribed to a Chinese general who was put to the necessity of devising some means of reconciling his soldiers to pass the winter in uncomfortable quarters in the country of Shensi; the cold and dreary aspect of which were likely to have occasioned a mutiny amongst them. That was nearly two thousand years ago. The story goes that when the emperor learned how well the troops had employed themselves, he sent for the inventor, and desired him to teach him the game. So delighted was he with it that he offered the general whatever remuneration he cared to name as the reward of his discovery. When the latter replied that he would be satisfied with a grain of corn for the first square of the chess-board, two grains for the second, four for the third, and so on, reckoned by a simple process of doubling until the sixty-fourth square was reached, the emperor expressed his astonishment at such a modest request; but he very soon found that the sum total would represent an altogether fabulous amount. According to this computation the total number of grains would be 18,446,743,5 and if placed side by side they would reach 3,883,401,821 times round the world. This then must have been the origin of the story of the horse-shoe nails. By the Chinese the game is styled Chong-he, signifying a royal game. The European term "Chess" is most probably a corruption of hensi, the name of the country where it was first played.
248. The Game of Dominoes was invented by a couple of French monks, who amused themselves with square flat stones marked with spots. When the game was the winner declared his victory by reciting the first line of the Vesper Service, "Dixit Dominus Domino Meo." The game eventually became the recreation of the whole convent, and the Vesper line being abbreviated into "Domino," suggested a title for the game itself.
249. The Game of Marbles, so popular in its due season among boys, was originally an imitation of another popular game among boys of a larger growth--Bowls. The howls of the ancients were of marble, hence the name of the diminutive bowls that came after them.
250. The Game of Quoits, which is similar to that of the discus of the ancients, grew out of the rural pastime of throwing an old horse-shoe to a required spot as a trial of skill. In some parts of the country a quoit still goes by the name of "the shoe."
251. Cock-fighting, as a form of sport, was introduced by Themistocles. Having one day chanced to see a couple of cocks light, he instituted periodical contests between such birds, from a notion that they would encourage bravery among the people that witnessed them. These cock-fights became exceedingly popular among the Greeks and Romans. The birds were regularly fed, and after the contest the victor was, like a hero, crowned with palm. But this was not all. So addicted to the sport did the people become, that as often as a favourite gamecock died he was accorded a solemn funeral and a monument suitably inscribed.