Paradox

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Anon. (1596)


Contents

Historical Records

Performance Records (Henslowe's Diary)

F.21v / Greg 1.42:

ye 1 of Ju[n]ley 1596 . . . . ne . . . . . . R[d] at <peth> paradox . . . . . . . . . . xxxxvs


MS VII f21v detail sml.jpg
© David Cooper and reproduced with kind permission of the Governors of Dulwich College. No further reproduction permitted.



Theatrical Provenance

Performed as a new play by the Admiral's on 01 July 1596.


Probable Genre(s)

Comedy (?) (Harbage)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

It is incredibly difficult to make any convincing speculation on so generic a title as Paradox. See For What It's Worth below.


References to the Play

(Information welcome)


Critical Commentary

Greg doesn't add anything beyond noting that "paradox" was altered from "peth", which he thinks appears to have been a false start for "pythagoras".

See also Wiggins serial number 1038.


For What It's Worth

Whilst an EEBO-TCP search for "Paradox" returns numerous hits, these typically fall under the rubrics of religion (e.g. the transubstantiation of Christ's body) and science (or Pythagoras more specifically). With the exception of the latter (see the separate entry for Pythagoras), none of these hits are particularly suggestive of readily adaptable material for dramatic purposes. Since Pythagoras was itself played as "ne" on 16 January 1595, and had already received 5 performances by the time Paradox was entered as "ne" on 1 July 1596 (including as recently as 15 June 1596), it seems impossible that Paradox and Pythagoras could be the same play.


There is one curious exception to the generic list of "paradox" returns from EEBO-TCP, however:

A Paradox in Praise of Serieants by Thomas Dekker and George Wilkins, in Iests to make you merie with the coniuring vp of Cock VVatt, (the walking spirit of Newgate) to tell tales. Vnto which is added, the miserie of a prison, and a prisoner. And a paradox in praise of serieants. Written by T.D. and George Wilkins. (1607).

Here, "paradox" conforms to the OED's 4th sense of the noun, "4. A composition in prose or verse expounding a paradox. Now rare." (The title of the Dekker/Wilkins text is cited by the OED as an example of this sense).

Although too late to be a source, this text may be of interest as an analogue for at least two reasons. First, unlike the other texts currently returning hits for the word "paradox," a jest could actually form a viable analogue to a play (or, if penned earlier than printed, a source). Second, this particular jest is authored by two playwrights, one of whom (Dekker) had been associated with the company who produced the lost play: the Admiral's men.

Summary:

Cock Watt (or Watch), the "spirit" of Newgate, is skulking about the city after dark. A raucous fight erupts within a tavern he passes; when the "fury of the multitude was quencht" and all retired for the night, Cock alone was left to follow the main culprit:
Onely the good Daemon, whose nature it was to sit out the very last Sceine, of such Tragi-comedies, followed the cheife Actor (that played This) euen vp into his bed-chamber, where he was fast enough lockt all night, to rehearse his parts by himselfe. (59)
The man was a "gallant that had spent much, and learnt little, one whose outside onely shewd he was a Gentleman," and one who "to make him wise, and to take héede what pasture he breakes into next" had been put into prison like "a Iade into a pownd" (59). He "sharply began to rayle against Sergiants, ... Marshals men, ...[and] Bailifes," writing "Inuectiues Satyres, Lybals, [and] Rimes" against the Sergeants in particular (60-61). All through the night this "furious Tamberlaine" suffers from "a foolish humor to pistoll them with paper-bullets shot out of pen & inke-hornes" (61-62), but when the sergeants arrive and unlock his chamber, they amiably explain that on account of his creditors they were powerless to prevent his arrest and detention, offer him drinks, and strike such a chord with him that he immediately retracts his pages of invective, and offers to "instantly powre out a parodox to their praises, which should do them more honour when they were deade, then twentie Epitaphes" (62). They thank him and promise to deal with his creditors. The paradox he produces likens the private home to a prison in terms of its security and employees (porters, cooks), and praises prisons as "goodly bird-cages" in which the inhabitants attain wisdom through experience (63). He proceeds to sing the praises of sergeants, e.g.: "Serieants are the cunning pilots that in all stormes bring men safely to these hauens of peace and contemplation: the compasse they saile by, is the Law, which is toucht by the Loadstone of Reason" (58 [65]). In a final twist, the sergeants arrive at the tail end of his praises, announcing the news that he must come with them and "meete all his creditors (in a more dangerous place than the field) in a Tauerne" (63 [67]). He is led away by only one Achate of a sergeant, whilst the rest follow "marching softly behinde, to share in his ransome" (63 [67]). Cock Watch steals away and the story is concluded.



Works Cited

Dekker, Thomas, and George Wilkins. A Paradox in Praise of Serieants by Thomas Dekker and George Wilkins, in Iests to make you merie with the coniuring vp of Cock VVatt, (the walking spirit of Newgate) to tell tales. Vnto which is added, the miserie of a prison, and a prisoner. And a paradox in praise of serieants. Written by T.D. and George Wilkins. 1607. Print.
"paradox, n. and adj.". OED Online. June 2011. Oxford University Press. 28 June 2011. Web.



Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated 28 June 2011.

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