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ADAPTATION OF THE TEMPEST
ardently applauded such bastard sentiment than the playgoing Pepys.
Of the two pieces, the text of Macbeth was abbreviated, but otherwise the alterations in the blank-verse speeches were comparatively slight. Additional songs were provided for the Witches, together with much capering in the air. Music was specially written by Matthew Locke. The liberal introduction of song and dance rendered the piece, in Pepys's strange phrase, “a most excellent play for variety." He saw D'Avenant's version of it no less than eight times, with ever-increasing enjoyment. He generously praised the clever combination of "a deep tragedy with a divertissement." He detected no incongruity in the amalgamation. "Though I have seen it often," he wrote later, "yet is it one of the best plays for a stage, and for variety of dancing and music, that ever I saw."
The Tempest, the other adapted play, which is prominent in Pepys's diary, underwent more drastic revision. Here D'Avenant had the co-operation of Dryden; and no intelligent reader can hesitate to affirm that the ingenuity of these worthies ruined this splendid manifestation of poetic fancy and insight. It is only fair to Dryden to add that he disclaimed any satisfaction in his share in the outrage. The first edition of the barbarous revision was first published in 1670, after D'Avenant's death, and Dryden wrote a preface, in which he prudently remarked: "I do not set a value on anything I have written in this play but [i.e., except] out of gratitude to the memory of Sir William Davenant, who did me the honour to join me with him in the alteration of it."
The numerous additions, for which the distinguished coadjutors are responsible, reek with mawkish sentimentality, inane vapidity, or vulgar buffoonery. Most of the leading characters are duplicated or triplicated. Miranda has a sister, Dorinda, who is repellently coquettish. This new creation finds a lover in another new character, a brainless youth, Hippolito, who has never before seen a woman. Caliban becomes the most sordid of clowns, and is allotted a sister, Milcha, who apes his coarse buffoonery. Ariel, too, is given a female associate, Sycorax, together with many attendants. The sailors are increased in number, and a phalanx of dancing devils join in their antics.
But the chief feature of the revived Tempest was the music, the elaborate scenery, and the scenic mechanism.1 There was an orchestra of twenty-four violins in front of the stage, with harpsichords and "theorbos" to accompany the voices; new songs
1 The Dryden-D'Avenant perversion of The Tempest which Pepys witnessed underwent a further deterioration in 1673, when Thomas Shadwell, poet laureate, to the immense delight of the playgoing public, rendered the piece's metamorphosis into an opera more complete. In 1674 the Dryden-D'Avenant edition was reissued, with Shadwell's textual and scenic amplification, although no indication was given on the title-page or elsewhere of his share in the venture. Contemporary histories of the stage make frequent reference to Shadwell's "Opera " of The Tempest; but no copy was known to be extant until Sir Ernest Clarke proved, in The Athenæum for 25th August 1906, that the second and later editions of the Dryden-D'Avenant version embodied Shadwell's operatic embellishments, and are copies of what was known in theatrical circles of the day as Shadwell's "Opera." Shadwell's stage-directions are more elaborate than those of Dryden and D'Avenant, and there are other minor innovations; but there is little difference in the general design of the two versions. Shadwell merely bettered Dryden's and D'Avenant's instructions.
SCENERY OF THE TEMPEST
were dispersed about the piece with unsparing hand. The curious new "Echo" song in Act III.—a duet between Ferdinand and Ariel-was deemed by Pepys to be so "mighty pretty" that he requested the composer-Bannister-to "prick him down the notes." Many times did the audience shout with joy as Ariel, with a corps de ballet in attendance, winged his flight to the roof of the stage.
The scenic devices which distinguished the Restoration production of The Tempest have, indeed, hardly been excelled for ingenuity in our own day. The arrangements for the sinking of the ship in the first scene would do no discredit to the spectacular magnificence of the London stage of our own day. The scene represented "a thick cloudy sky, a very rocky coast, and a tempestuous sea in perpetual agitation." "This tempest," according to the stagedirections, "has many dreadful objects in it; several spirits in horrid shapes flying down among the sailors, then rising and crossing in the air; and when the ship is sinking, the whole house is darkened and a shower of fire falls upon the vessel. This is accompanied by lightning and several claps of thunder till the end of the storm." The stage-manager's notes proceed:-"In the midst of the shower of fire, the scene changes. The cloudy sky, rocks, and sea vanish, and when the lights return, discover that beautiful part of the island, which was the habitation of Prospero: 'tis composed of three walks of cypress trees; each side-walk leads to a cave, in one of which Prospero keeps his daughter, in the other Hippolito (the interpolated character of the man who has never seen a woman). The middle walk is of great depth, and leads to an open part of the island." Every
scene of the play was framed with equal elaborate
Pepys's comment on The Tempest, when he first witnessed its production in such magnificent conditions, runs thus:-"The play has no great wit but yet good above ordinary plays." Pepys subsequently, however, saw the piece no less than five times, and the effect of the music, dancing, and scenery, steadily grew upon him. On his second visit he wrote:-"Saw The Tempest again, which is very pleasant, and full of so good variety, that I cannot be more pleased almost in a comedy. Only the seamen's part a little too tedious." Finally, Pepys praised the richly-embellished Tempest without any sort of reserve, and took "pleasure to learn the tune of the seamen's dance."
Other adaptations of Shakespeare, which followed somewhat less spectacular methods of barbarism, roused in Pepys smaller enthusiasm. The Rivals, a version by D'Avenant of The Two Noble Kinsmen (the joint production of Fletcher and Shakespeare), was judged by Pepys to be "no excellent piece,' though he appreciated the new songs, which included the familiar "My lodging is on the cold ground," with music by Matthew Locke. Pepys formed a higher opinion of D'Avenant's liberally-altered version of Measure for Measure, which the adapter called The Law against Lovers, and into which he introduced, with grotesque effect, the characters of Beatrice and Benedick from Much Ado about Nothing. But it is more to Pepys's credit that he bestowed a very qualified approval on an execrable adaptation by the actor Lacy of The Taming of the Shrew. Here the hero, Petruchio, is overshadowed
PEPYSIAN AND MODERN METHODS
by a new character, Sawney, his Scottish servant, who speaks an unintelligible patois. "It hath some very good pieces in it," writes Pepys, "but generally is but a mean play, and the best part, Sawny, done by Lacy, hath not half its life by reason of the words, I suppose, not being understood, at least by me."
It might be profitable to compare Pepys's experiences as a spectator of Shakespeare's plays on the stage with the opportunities open to playgoers at the present moment. Modern managers have been producing Shakespearean drama of late with great liberality, and usually in much splendour. Neither the points of resemblance between the modern and the Pepysian methods, nor the points of difference, are flattering to the esteem of ourselves as a literature-loving people. It is true that we no longer garble our acting versions of Shakespeare. We are content with abbreviations of the text, some of which are essential, but many of which injure the dramatic perspective, and with inversion of scenes which may or may not be justifiable. But, to my mind, it is in our large dependence on scenery that we are following too closely that tradition of the Restoration which won the wholehearted approval of Pepys. The musico-scenic method of producing Shakespeare can always count on the applause of the average multitude of playgoers, of which Pepys is the ever-living spokesman. It is Shakespeare with scenic machinery, Shakespeare with new songs, Shakespeare with incidental music, Shakespeare with interpolated ballets, that reaches