Cupid's Festival

Anon. (1614?)

Historical Records

Dramatic Records of Sir George Buc

A slip of scrap paper pasted into the holograph manuscript of Sir George Buc's "A Commentary vpon the New Roulle of Winchester, commonly called Liber Domus Dei" (Bodleian, MS Eng. misc. b. 106) seems to preserve a note written by Buc in his capacity as Master of the Revels relating to the license of a play called "'Cupid's Festival." R.C. Bald (193) was the first to transcribe the note as:

Cupid's festivall comed
Intrat in off. Rev
18 Decemb per Histr. Dausse Rob

Later, Kincaid (462) offered a different transcription:

Cupids festivall Comed
Restat in off Revell
18 December per Histr. Duorff Bob
mimis saepe genua flectuntur ad sagos

The composition and revision of Buc's manuscript seems to have taken place c. 1614–21 (Clapinson and Rogers 1:457–58).

Theatrical Provenance

Perhaps performed by Lady Elizabeth's Men (see Critical Commentary below).

Probable Genre(s)

Comedy (Harbage).

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Unknown. (Content welcome.)

References to the Play

None known. (Content welcome.)

Critical Commentary

Bald (193) suggested that "Histr. Dausse Rob" referred to the actor Robert Dawes, who was a member of Lady Elizabeth's Men in 1614.

Harbage assigned a date range of 1614 to 1622, the year of Buc's death.

Bentley (5:1315) endorsed Bald's suggestion that the actor referred to in the note was Robert Dawes. On the date of the note, Bentley, while noting the possibility that the slip of paper could have been "lying about for a number of years before he used it for his corrections or that it records an entry made between the completion of his first draft of the 'Commentary' and his death," nevertheless thought it most plausible that the note was contemporary with the original composition of the "Commentary" (1315–16).

Kincaid (462) argued that his transcription was more accurate than Bald's given his own familiarity with Buc's hand. According to Kincaid, "Duorff Bob" should be understood as Dwarf Bob, and the Latin motto, which Kincaid translated roughly as "Actors often bow the knee to the prophets of the profane," may have been a sneer at "the frivolity and fiction of the stage" (462). Dating Buc's composition of "A Commentary" to 1614, Kincaid endorsed 18 December 1614 as the date on which the license for "Cupid's Festival" was granted (462–63).

Wiggins (6:489) observes that 18 December in 1614 was a Sunday, a fact that may recommend the year 1615 for the date of the requested license. (Unlike Kincaid, Wiggins assumes that 18 December was the day the play was received by Buc rather than the day the license was granted.) Following Bald and Bentley's argument that the actor was Robert Dawes, Wiggins notes that Lady Elizabeth's Men seem "to have reconstituted itself as a provincial operation in March 1616, which would have markedly reduced its repertory needs," making 1615 "the likeliest year, albeit solely by default."

For What It's Worth

OED does not record "duorff" as a form of dwarf.

Works Cited

Bald, R.C. "A Revels Office Entry." TLS (17 March 1927): 193.
Clapinson, Mary and T.D. Rogers. Summary Catalogue of Post-Medieval Western Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, Oxford: Acquisitions 1916–1975. 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1991.
Kincaid, A.N. "A Revels Office Scrap Deciphered." N&Q 19 (1972): 461–63.

Site created and maintained by Misha Teramura, University of Toronto; updated 19 May 2016.