Category Archives: Entertainment

Entertainment Music

The sublime, the grand, and the tender

Having recently attended a production of Handel’s Messiah, this snippet is a little background to one of the world’s most famous and recognisable oratorios.

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) wrote his Messiah in just 24 days, between 22nd August and 14th September 1741. It’s first performance was in Dublin on 13th April 1742. The venues was Neal’s Music Hall on Fishamble Street, a room which was designed to hold 600 people. However, anticipating the performance’s popularity, the announcement in Faulkner’s Dublin Journal ran:

The stewards of the Charitable Musical Society request the favour of the Ladies not to come with Hoops this day,’ and that ‘Gentlemen are desired to come without their swords.’

On 17th April, the Faulkner’s Dublin Journal printed the following:

On Tuesday last Mr Handel’s Sacred Grand Oratorio, the MESSIAH, was performed at the New Musick-Hall in Fishamble Street; the best judges allowed it to be the most finished piece of Musick. Words are wanting to express the exquisite Delight it afforded in the admiring crowded Auditorum. The Sublime, the Grand and the Tender; adapted to the most elevated, majestic and moving Words, conspired to transport and charm the ravished Heart and Ear. It is but Justice to Mr Handel, that the World should know, he generously gave the Money arising from this Grand Performance to be equally shared by the Society for relieving Prisoners, the Charitable Infirmary, and Mercer’s Hospital, for which they will ever gratefully remember his name.

The Messiah was performed over 56 times in England between 1743 and Handel’s death in 1759. King George II, who attended one performance, was so moved by the Hallelujah Chorus that he rose to his feet with the surrounding audience following suit. A tradition which persists in England to this day.

© 2009-2012 All Rights Reserved

Drunken cocks & bear baiting

More snippets on London from the 16th Century Swiss tourist Thomas Platter

There is also in the city of London not far from the horse-market, which occupies a large site, a house where cock-fights are held annually throughout three quarters of the year (for in the remaining quarter they told me it was impossible since the feathers are full of blood), and I saw the place, which is built like a theatre.  In the centre on the floor stands a circular table covered with straw and with ledges round it, where the cocks are teased and incited to fly at one another, while those with wagers as to which cock will win sit closest around the circular disk, but the spectators who are merely present on their entrance penny sit around higher up, watching with eager pleasure the fierce and angry fight between the cocks, as these wound each other to death with spurs and beaks.  And the party whose cock surrenders or dies loses the wager; I am told that stakes on a cock often amount to many thousands of crowns, especially if they have reared the cock themselves and brought their own along.  For the master who inhabits the house has many cocks besides, which he feeds in separate cages and keeps for this sport, as he showed us.  He also had several cocks, none of which he would sell for less than twenty crowns; they are very large but just the same kind as we have in our country.  He also told us that if one discovered that the cocks’ beaks had been coated with garlic, one was fully entitled to kill them at once. He added too, that it was nothing to give them brandy before they began to fight, adding what wonderful pleasure there was in watching them.

Every Sunday and Wednesday in London there are bearbaitings on the other side of the water. . . . The theatre is circular, with galleries round the top for the spectators; the ground space down below, beneath the clear sky, is unoccupied.  In the middle of this place a large bear on a long rope was bound to a stake, then a number of great English mastiffs were brought in and shown first to the bear, which they afterwards baited one after another: now the excellence and fine temper of such mastiffs was evinced, for although they were much struck and mauled by the bear, they did not give in, but had to be pulled off by sheer force, and their muzzles forced open with long sticks to which a broad iron piece was attached at the top.  The bears’ teeth were not sharp so they could not injure the dogs; they have them broken short.  When the first mastiffs tired, fresh ones were brought in to bait the bear.

Entertainment Pudding

Jack Pudding & A Dumpling

Following on from yesterday’s post, this little snippet from 1688 describes a young man taking part in jests with the previously mentioned Jack Pudding.

Named by the author as William, this merry maker, who apparently longed for adventure, made his way over to London’s Bankside.  A large crowd surrounded a makeshift stage outside an inn, amongst which

stood an Old Fish Wife, looking attentively towards the Stage, her Mouth as wide open as a gaping Oyster Barrel. William, seeing her, stoops down and picks up two or three Oyster-shells, then taking his opportunity, chucks them into her mouth.

He then danced on the toes of some of the spectators, and came face to face with Jack Pudding, who ‘roaring in his party coloured Cloaths, and his Flat Cap’ was like a ‘Bull with his Horns saw’d off’.  There then followed a spirited exchange between Jack Pudding and William:

‘I will come for all your Goods!’ Jack Pudding warned the crowd.
William heckled, ‘That’s a lye!  Half of us don’t believe you!’
‘Friend, where do you live that thus dares to interrupt me?’ Retorted Jack Pudding.
‘I live in Whore and Bastard Lane, next door to your Mother!’ William replied.
Jack scolded, ‘Your Manners is worn out, and can’t be mended but at the carts-arse!’
‘I will silence you strait!’ called William.

With this William went over

to a Woman that sold Dumplings. Mother, says he, Mr Pudding sent me for a Dumpling.  She gives him one, he goes to the corner of the Stage, and when the Fool was in the height of his Ribaldry, William hits him in the Mouth with a Dumpling, some of the hot Liquor flying into his Eyes. There was Mirth and Vexation mixt to the general Satisfaction of the Spectators.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

Court Entertainment

Egges dancing upon a Staffe

This little snippet is an advertisement from 1634 detailing forthcoming entertainments at Court.

This present day shall bee showne rare dancing on the Ropes, Acted by his Majesties servants, Wherein an Irish Boy of eight yeares old doth vault on the high rope the like was never seene: And one Mayd of fifteene yeares of age, and another Girle of foure yeares of age, doe dance on the low Rope.  And the said Girle of foure yeares of age doth turne on the Stage, and put in fourescore threds into the eye of a Needle.  And other rare Acrobatics of body, as vaulting and tumbling on the Stage, and Egges dancing upon a Staffe, with other rare varietyes of Dancing, the like hath not beene seen in the realme of England.  And the merry conceites of Jacke Pudding.

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

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