Difference between revisions of "Christmas Comes but Once a Year"

 
(26 intermediate revisions by 2 users not shown)
Line 4: Line 4:
 
==Historical Records==
 
==Historical Records==
  
===Payments to Playwrights (''Henslowe's Diary'')===
+
=== Payments ===
 +
 
 +
==== For playwrights in Philip Henslowe's diary ====
 
<br>
 
<br>
'''F. 117<sup>v</sup> ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n244/mode/1up Greg I.184])'''
+
Fol. 117<sup>v</sup> ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n244/mode/1up (Greg I.184)])
<blockquote>
+
 
{| {{table}}
+
::{| {{table}}
 
|-
 
|-
 
| Lent vnto Thomas hewode & John webster||}
 
| Lent vnto Thomas hewode & John webster||}
Line 18: Line 20:
 
| some of ||} iij<sup>li</sup>
 
| some of ||} iij<sup>li</sup>
 
|}
 
|}
</blockquote>
+
[[category:Update]][[category:John Webster]][[category:Thomas Heywood]]
 +
 
 +
F. 118 ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n245/mode/1up Greg, I.185])
 +
 
  
'''F. 118 ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n245/mode/1up Greg, I.185])'''
+
::{| {{table}}
<blockquote>
 
{| {{table}}
 
 
| Lent vnto John dewcke the 23 of novmb''er'' 1602||}
 
| Lent vnto John dewcke the 23 of novmb''er'' 1602||}
 
|-
 
|-
Line 32: Line 35:
 
|}
 
|}
 
<br>
 
<br>
{| {{table}}
+
::{| {{table}}
 
| pd at the a poyntment of Thomas hawode the||}
 
| pd at the a poyntment of Thomas hawode the||}
 
|-
 
|-
Line 41: Line 44:
 
| comes but once a yeare the some of ||}  xxxx<sup>s</sup>
 
| comes but once a yeare the some of ||}  xxxx<sup>s</sup>
 
|}
 
|}
</blockquote>
+
[[category:Thomas Dekker]][[category:Henry Chettle]]
 
<br><br>
 
<br><br>
  
===Payments for Properties (''Henslowe's Diary'')===
+
=== Payments ===
 +
 
 +
==== For properties in Philip Henslowe's diary ====
 
<br>
 
<br>
'''F. 118<sup>v</sup> ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n246/mode/1up Greg, I. 186])'''
+
Fol. 118<sup>v</sup> ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n246/mode/1up Greg, I. 186])
<blockquote>
+
 
{| {{table}}
+
::{| {{table}}
 
| Layd owt for the companye the 9 of novmb''er''||}
 
| Layd owt for the companye the 9 of novmb''er''||}
 
|-
 
|-
Line 57: Line 62:
 
| once a yeare the some of ||} xxxviij<sup>s</sup> 8<sup>d</sup>
 
| once a yeare the some of ||} xxxviij<sup>s</sup> 8<sup>d</sup>
 
|-
 
|-
| ||
+
|}
|-
+
 
|
+
::{|  
|-
 
| ||
 
|-
 
| ||
 
 
|-
 
|-
 
| Sowld vnto the company the 9 of desemb''er''||}
 
| Sowld vnto the company the 9 of desemb''er''||}
Line 73: Line 74:
 
| <small>for the play of crysmas comes but once a year</small>||
 
| <small>for the play of crysmas comes but once a year</small>||
 
|}
 
|}
</blockquote>
 
  
 
==Theatrical Provenance==
 
==Theatrical Provenance==
  
<Enter information about which company performed the play, and where/when it was performed, etc.>
+
"Christmas Comes but Once a Year" was written for Worcester's players while they were at the Rose, 1602-3; the purchase of apparel in December 1602 invites the conjecture that the play was in performance by February 1603. If so, its maiden run would have been disrupted by London playhouse closures due to the mortal illness of Queen Elizabeth in mid-March 1603 and further by the general raggedness of theatrical schedules later in the year due to the onset of plague.
 
+
<br>
 
+
<br>
  
 
==Probable Genre(s)==
 
==Probable Genre(s)==
  
<List possible genres of the play: if noted by a critic, cite them, e.g. "Comedy (Harbage)". If an original speculation, simply list the genre.>
+
Comedy (Harbage)
 
+
<br>
 +
<br>
  
  
 
==Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues==
 
==Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues==
  
<Enter any information about possible or known sources. Summarise these sources where practical/possible, or provide an excerpt from another scholar's discussion of the subject if available.>
+
The impetus behind the play is likely to have been the proverbial saying that is the title. Books of proverbs record the appearance of the phrase as early as 1573, in ''Five hundreth pointes of good Husbandrie ...'' by Thomas Tusser ([http://www.archive.org/stream/fivehundredpoint08tussuoft/fivehundredpoint08tussuoft_djvu.txt Tusser]). In Tusser, the phrase occurs in the following stanza of a holiday-themed verse:
  
 +
::All Saints doe laie for porke and souse,
 +
::for sprats and spurlings for their house.
 +
::At Christmas play and make good cheere,
 +
::for Christmas comes but once a yeere.
  
 +
''Five hundreth points of good Husbandrie'' began in 1557 as ''A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry''; the Christmas proverb occurs in the 1573 expansion to five hundred points. Very popular, the book enjoyed reprintings every few years to 1604, then sporadically until 1692.
 +
<br>
 +
<br>
  
 
==References to the Play==
 
==References to the Play==
  
<List any known or conjectured references to the lost play here.>
+
See [[#For What It's Worth|For What It's Worth]], below.
 
 
  
 +
<br><br>
  
 
==Critical Commentary==
 
==Critical Commentary==
  
<Summarise any critical commentary that may have been published by scholars. Please maintain an objective tone!>
+
'''Fleay''' made no guesses about the content of ''Christmas Comes but Once a Year'' (''BCED''); '''Greg''' was equally silent, saying "Nothing is known of this piece" (II, #272).
 
+
<br><br>
 +
'''Clark''' was bolder, suggesting that the play "may have been a Christmas show for the holiday season" (35). Observing that "Henslowe proved more lavish than usual" by expenditures for costumes, Clark posited that an entry immediately following the payment in earnest to Heywood and Webster on 2 November might also be for the Christmas play (35, n. 2). That purchase was for "vj yarde''es'' of tynsell" at the cost of £3 ([http://www.archive.org/stream/henslowesdiary00unkngoog#page/n244/mode/1up Greg I.184]).
  
 +
<br><br>
  
 
==For What It's Worth==
 
==For What It's Worth==
  
<Enter any miscellaneous points that may be relevant, but don't fit into the above categories. This is the best place for highly conjectural thoughts.>
+
One extant play that includes the proverb, "Christmas comes but once a year," is ''Satiromastix.'' This play is also notable for weaving references to contemporary plays—as well as old favorites—into the speeches of several characters, most cleverly in those of Tucca, the blowhard captain. Given the uncertain date of composition of ''Satiromastix'' (it was published in 1602), it isn't possible to argue that the reference to the Christmas proverb is also a reference to the Christmas play, but it is Tucca who has the lines, and he has alluded to several other plays in the scene with the Christmas reference; in that very speech, there is plausibly a faint hint of Tybalt, Prince of Cats from ''Romeo and Juliet'' (in "Tyber ... Prince of Rattes" [Bowers, vol. 1, 5.2.204-5]).
 +
<br><br>
 +
The speech recalling the Christmas proverb is as follows:
  
 +
<blockquote>
 +
''Tucca'': But to bite euery Motley-head vice by'th nose, you did it Ningle to play the Bug-beare Satyre, and make a Campe royall of fashion-mongers quake at your paper Bullets; you Nastie Tortois, you and your Itchy Poetry break out like Christmas, but once a year, and then you keep a Reuelling, and Araigning, and a Scratching of mens faces as tho you were Tyber the long-tail'd Prince of Rattes, doe you? (Bowers, vol. 1, 5.2.199-205)
 +
</blockquote>
  
 +
<br><br>
  
 
==Works Cited==
 
==Works Cited==
 +
<br>
 +
<div style="padding-left: 2em; text-indent: -2em">Bowers, Fredson (ed.) ''Dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker'', 4 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1962.</div>
 +
<div style="padding-left: 2em; text-indent: -2em">Clark, Arthur Melville.''Thomas Heywood, Playwright and Miscellanist''. 1931. rpt. New York, Russell and Russell, 1958, 1967.</div>
 +
<div style="padding-left: 2em; text-indent: -2em"> Tusser, Thomas. ''Five hundreth points of good Husbandrie, as well for the Champion or Open country, as also for the Woodland or Several, mixed in eerie month with Huswiferie, ouer and besides the book of Huswiferie''. London 1585.  </div>
 +
<br><br>
  
<List all texts cited throughout the entry, except those staple texts whose full bibliographical details have been provided in the masterlist of Works Cited found on the sidebar menu. Use the coding below to format the list>
+
[[category:Proverbs]]
 
+
Site created and maintained by [[Roslyn L. Knutson]], Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 28 March 2015.
<div style="padding-left: 2em; text-indent: -2em"> citation goes here </div>
+
[[category:all]][[category:Roslyn L. Knutson]][[category:Henslowe's records]][[category:Thomas Heywood]][[category:collaborations]][[category:Dekker, Thomas]][[category:Heywood, Thomas]][[category:Webster, John]][[category:Chettle, Henry]]
 
 
<If you haven't done so already, also add here any key words that will help categorise this play. Use the following format, repeating as necessary: [[category:example]]>
 
 
 
 
 
Site created and maintained by [[your name]], affiliation; updated DD Month YYYY.
 
[[category:all]][[category:your name]]
 

Latest revision as of 17:12, 3 August 2022

Thomas Heywood, John Webster, Henry Chettle, and Thomas Dekker (1602)


Historical Records

Payments

For playwrights in Philip Henslowe's diary


Fol. 117v ((Greg I.184))

Lent vnto Thomas hewode & John webster }
the 2 of novmber 1602 in earneste of a playe }
called chyssmas comes bute one ayeare the }
some of } iijli

F. 118 (Greg, I.185)


Lent vnto John dewcke the 23 of novmber 1602 }
to paye vnto hareye chettell & thomas deckers }
in parte of paymente of a playe called crysmas }
comes but once a yeare the some of } xxxxs


pd at the a poyntment of Thomas hawode the }
26 of novmber 1602 … to harey chettell in }
fulle paymente of a playe called cryssmas }
comes but once a yeare the some of } xxxxs



Payments

For properties in Philip Henslowe's diary


Fol. 118v (Greg, I. 186)

Layd owt for the companye the 9 of novmber }
1602 to by ij calleco sewtes & ij buckerom }
sewtes for the playe of cryssmas comes but }
once a yeare the some of } xxxviijs 8d
Sowld vnto the company the 9 of desember }
1602 ij peces of cangable taffetie to macke }
a womones gowne & a Robe some of } iiijli xs
for the play of crysmas comes but once a year

Theatrical Provenance

"Christmas Comes but Once a Year" was written for Worcester's players while they were at the Rose, 1602-3; the purchase of apparel in December 1602 invites the conjecture that the play was in performance by February 1603. If so, its maiden run would have been disrupted by London playhouse closures due to the mortal illness of Queen Elizabeth in mid-March 1603 and further by the general raggedness of theatrical schedules later in the year due to the onset of plague.

Probable Genre(s)

Comedy (Harbage)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

The impetus behind the play is likely to have been the proverbial saying that is the title. Books of proverbs record the appearance of the phrase as early as 1573, in Five hundreth pointes of good Husbandrie ... by Thomas Tusser (Tusser). In Tusser, the phrase occurs in the following stanza of a holiday-themed verse:

All Saints doe laie for porke and souse,
for sprats and spurlings for their house.
At Christmas play and make good cheere,
for Christmas comes but once a yeere.

Five hundreth points of good Husbandrie began in 1557 as A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry; the Christmas proverb occurs in the 1573 expansion to five hundred points. Very popular, the book enjoyed reprintings every few years to 1604, then sporadically until 1692.

References to the Play

See For What It's Worth, below.



Critical Commentary

Fleay made no guesses about the content of Christmas Comes but Once a Year (BCED); Greg was equally silent, saying "Nothing is known of this piece" (II, #272).

Clark was bolder, suggesting that the play "may have been a Christmas show for the holiday season" (35). Observing that "Henslowe proved more lavish than usual" by expenditures for costumes, Clark posited that an entry immediately following the payment in earnest to Heywood and Webster on 2 November might also be for the Christmas play (35, n. 2). That purchase was for "vj yardees of tynsell" at the cost of £3 (Greg I.184).



For What It's Worth

One extant play that includes the proverb, "Christmas comes but once a year," is Satiromastix. This play is also notable for weaving references to contemporary plays—as well as old favorites—into the speeches of several characters, most cleverly in those of Tucca, the blowhard captain. Given the uncertain date of composition of Satiromastix (it was published in 1602), it isn't possible to argue that the reference to the Christmas proverb is also a reference to the Christmas play, but it is Tucca who has the lines, and he has alluded to several other plays in the scene with the Christmas reference; in that very speech, there is plausibly a faint hint of Tybalt, Prince of Cats from Romeo and Juliet (in "Tyber ... Prince of Rattes" [Bowers, vol. 1, 5.2.204-5]).

The speech recalling the Christmas proverb is as follows:

Tucca: But to bite euery Motley-head vice by'th nose, you did it Ningle to play the Bug-beare Satyre, and make a Campe royall of fashion-mongers quake at your paper Bullets; you Nastie Tortois, you and your Itchy Poetry break out like Christmas, but once a year, and then you keep a Reuelling, and Araigning, and a Scratching of mens faces as tho you were Tyber the long-tail'd Prince of Rattes, doe you? (Bowers, vol. 1, 5.2.199-205)



Works Cited


Bowers, Fredson (ed.) Dramatic Works of Thomas Dekker, 4 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1962.
Clark, Arthur Melville.Thomas Heywood, Playwright and Miscellanist. 1931. rpt. New York, Russell and Russell, 1958, 1967.
Tusser, Thomas. Five hundreth points of good Husbandrie, as well for the Champion or Open country, as also for the Woodland or Several, mixed in eerie month with Huswiferie, ouer and besides the book of Huswiferie. London 1585.



Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 28 March 2015.