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Reviews Dorset, ed. Rosalind Conklin Hays and C. E. McGee. Cornwall, ed. Sally L. Joyce and Evelyn S. Newlyn. (Records ofEarlyEnglish Drama).Toronto andBuffalo: UniversityofToronto Press and Brepols Publishers, 1999. Pp. vüi + 719. $150.00. It is always difficult to do justice in a review to volumes in the REED series, and there is a particular complexity in the present volume, which combines two counties, the second ofwhich has dramatic traditions both in English and in Cornish. For each county this volume follows the pattern of earlier ones in attempting to present as fully as possible all records ofplay in its broadest sense. Thus after an historical introduction a listing is provided first of the relevant source documents, then the material itself is presented, and this is elucidated by end-notes, with translations offered separately ofthe Latin texts. Given this already complicated pattern, with texts arranged by diocese and boroughs and endnotes accessible by page number, it might have been more convenient to place at least the translations (if not also the notes) with the originals. The Dorset section has various appendices (on the Cobb and the Cobb ales). The Cornish section adds to this sequence what is effectively a separate section (in the form of further appendices) on the Cornish material proper, with a separate bibliography partly duplicating the main one. Dorset is not a particularly rich source for records ofearly drama, nor are the records always very full. G. L. Gomme commented in 1886 (The Literature ofLocalInstitutions, London: Elliot Stock, 1886) on the role ofJames Sherren in rescuing some of the Weymouth archives, but a lot is missing. Gomme notes too, however, that public records for Wareham (noted here as a significant lacuna ) are at least described in the General Report ofthe Commissioners on the Public Records XV (1837). There are no guild records. One of the later major sources, however, is the diary of William Whiteway, a prominent Dorchester merchant. His diaries do record dramatic events within the county, such as the 245 246Comparative Drama comedies performed in 1623 during the episcopal visitation (199) or the rejection of the puppet players in 1630 (200); but the diary entries often refer to incidents outside the county, so that their value as dramatic records can become somewhat tangential. Thus he refers (202) to the suicide on April 1, 1632 of"Dr Buts Vicechancellour ofCambridge," referring this (with the qualifier"it is said") to the dissatisfaction of the king with a play. There are notes elucidating this on page 345f., but they misname the unfortunate Butts (Henry, not William) and misdate him as Master of Corpus (Patrick Bury's history of the college, revised for the Internet in 1997, has him as Master from 1626-32, in his second term as Vice-Chancellor). There is a cross-reference here to the Cambridge volume, but a note might have been useful to the effect that in spite of Whiteway, the performance ofHausted's play in Cambridge a week or so earlier probably had little to do with Dr Butts's sad end (on which the king sent a letter of condolence to the college); it also has litde to do with drama in Dorset as such, apart from indicating the preoccupations ofthe Puritan Dorchester merchant . The picture thatwe build up overall is, aswith other REED volumes,patchy; nor could it be otherwise. From this somewhat sparse material everything that might be conceived of as public performance is adduced, but the lengthiest texts are Star Chamber cases concerned with the performance oflibellous material , most relevandy Condytt v. Chubbe (173-198). The policy of exhaustive collection means that not all such cases demonstrate so clearly the Puritan antagonism towards players, although the detailed and bawdy poem cited in the Star Chamber case ofSalterv. Cowper is ofseparate interest. Otherbawdy songs are referred to and sometimes cited, and ifthe precisevalue as a record ofdrama is most questionable in the case of the drunken shoemaker fined in 1631 for singing "a fy[l]thy song" (200), the citing ofa fragment ofhis text is noteworthy . There is also evidence (sometimes negative in the condemnation) of customs such as the christeningofapples (224), orthe use ofthe maypole.Whiteway...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 245-248
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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