R.J. Broadbent.

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Author of "STAGE WHISPERS," etc.




This book is dedicated as a small token of the
Author's esteem and regard.



One of the most important factors in the making of Theatrical History
has been that of Pantomime, yet in many of the published works dealing
with the History of the Stage it has, with the exception of a passing
reference here and there, been much neglected.

It is with a view of conveying to the reading public some little, and,
perhaps, new information about this ancient form of entertainment that I
am tempted to issue this History of Pantomime in the hope and belief
that it may not only prove interesting, but also instructive, to all
lovers of the Stage.


Liverpool, December, 1901.



Origin of Pantomime


Origin of Tragedy and Comedy - Mythology - The meaning of
the word Pantomime - The origin of Harlequin, Columbine,
Clown, and Pantaloon - Grecian Mythology - Transformation
Scenes - The rise of Grecian Tragedy and Comedy - The
Satirical Drama


The origin of the Indian Drama - Aryan Mythology - Clown
and Columbine - Origin of the Chinese Drama - Inception
of the Japanese Drama - The Siamese Drama - Dramatic
performances of the South Sea Islanders, Peruvians,
Aztecs, Zulus, and Fijis - The Egyptian Drama


"Dancing," _i.e._ Pantomime - Grecian Dancing and Pantomimic
Scenes - Aristotle - Homer - Dances common to
both Greeks and Romans


Thespis - The Progress of Tragedy and Comedy - Aeschylus - The
Epopée - Homer - Sophocles - Euripides - Grecian
Mimes - The First Athenian Theatre - Scenery
and Effects


Roman Theatres - Description - "Deadheads" - Pantomime
in Italy - Livius Andronicus - _Fabulae Atellanae_ - Extemporal
Comedy - Origin of the Masque, Opera, and
Vaudeville - Origin of the term Histrionic - Etruscans - Popularity
of Pantomime in Italy - Pantomimists banished
by Trajan - Nero as a Mime - Pylades and Bathyllus - Subjects
chosen for the Roman Pantomimes - The Ballet - The
_Mimi_ and _Pantomimi_ - _Archimimus_ - Vespasian - Harlequin - "Mr.
Punch" - Zany, how the word originated - Ancient
Masks - Lucian, Cassiodorus, and Demetrius
in praise of Pantomime - A celebrated _Mima_ - Pantomimes
denounced by early writers - The purity of the
English stage contrasted with that of the Grecian and
Roman - Female parts on the Grecian and Roman stages - The
principal Roman _Mimas_ - The origin of the Clown
of the early English Drama


Introduction of the Roman Pantomimic Art into Britain - First
English reference to the word Pantomime - The
fall of the Roman Empire - The sacred play - Cornish
Amphitheatres - Pantomimical and Lyrical elements in
the sacrifice of the Mass - Christian banishment of the
_Mimis_ - Penalties imposed by the Church - St. Anthony
on Harlequin and Punch - Vandenhoff - what we owe to
the _Mimis_


Pantomime in the English Mystery or Miracle Plays and
Pageants - A retrospect of the Early Drama - Mysteries
on Biblical events - Chester, Coventry, York, and Towneley
Mystery Plays - Plays in Churches - Traces of the
Mystery Play in England in the Nineteenth Century - Mystery
Plays on the Continent - The Chester series of
Plays - The Devil or Clown and the _Exodiarii_ and
_Emboliariae_ of the Ancient Mimes


The Clown or Fool of the early English Drama - Moralities - The
Interlude - The rise of English Tragedy and
Comedy - "Dumb Shews" in the Old Plays - Plays
suppressed by Elizabeth - A retrospect


The Italian Masque - The Masque in England - First
appearance in this country of Harlequin - Joe Haines as
Harlequin - Marlowe's "Faustus" - A Curious Play - The
Italian Harlequin - Colley Cibber, Penkethman - Shakespeare's
Burlesques of the Masque - Decline of the Masque


Italian Pantomime - Riccoboni - Broom's "Antipodes" - Gherardi - Extemporal
Comedies - Salvator Rosa - Impromptu Acting


Pantomimical Characters - Neapolitan Pantomime - The
Harlequin Family - The Original Characters in the
Italian Pantomimes - Celebrated Harlequins - Italian
and French Harlequins - A French view of the English
Clown - Pierrots' origin - Pantaloon, how the name has
been derived - Columbine - Marionette and Puppet Shows


Italian Scenarios and English "Platts" - Pantaloon - Tarleton,
the Clown - Extemporal Comedy - The Poet
Milton - Ben Jonson - The Commonwealth - "A Reign
of Dramatic Terror" - Robert Cox and his "Humours"
and "Drolleries" - The Restoration


Introduction of Pantomimes to the English Stage - Weaver's
"History of the Mimes and Pantomimes" - Weaver's
Pantomimes - The prejudice against Pantomimes - Booth's


John Rich and his Pantomimes - Rich's Miming - Garrick,
Walpole, Foote - Anecdotes of Rich - Pope - The dance
of internals in "Harlequin Sorcerer" - Drury Lane - Colley
Cibber - Henry Fielding, the Novelist - Contemporary
Writers' opinion of Pantomime - Woodward, the
Harlequin - The meaning of the word Actor - Harlequins - "Dr.
Faustus," a description - William
Rufus Chetwood - Accidents - Vandermere, the Harlequin - "Orpheus
and Eurydice" at Covent Garden - A
description - Sam. Hoole, the machinist - Prejudice
against Pantomime - Mrs. Oldfield - Robert Wilks - Macklin - Riot
at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre - Death of Rich


Joseph Grimaldi


Plots of the old form of Pantomimes - A description of
"Harlequin and the Ogress; or the Sleeping
Beauty of the Wood," produced at Covent Garden - Grimaldi,
_Père et Fils_ - Tom Ellar, the Harlequin, and
Barnes, the Pantaloon - An account of the first production
of the "House that Jack built," at Covent Garden - Spectacular
display - Antiquity and Origin of some
Pantomimic devices - Devoto, Angelo, and French, the
Scenic Artists - Transparencies - Beverley - Transformation


Pantomimic Families - Giuseppe Grimaldi - James Byrne,
the Harlequin and Inventor of the modern Harlequin's
dress - Joseph Grimaldi, Junior - The Bologna Family - Tom
Ellar - The Ridgways - The Bradburys - The
Montgomerys - The Paynes - The Marshalls - Charles
and Richard Stilt - Richard Flexmore - Tom Gray - The
Paulos - Dubois - Arthur and Charles Leclerq - "Jimmy"
Barnes - Famous Pantaloons - Miss Farren - Mrs.
Siddons - Columbines - Notable Actors in Pantomime


Popular Pantomime subjects - Poor Pantomime Librettos - Pantomime
subjects of our progenitors - The various
versions of "Aladdin" - "The Babes in the Wood" - "Blue
Beard" - "Beauty and the Beast" - "Cinderella" - "Dick
Whittington" - "The House that Jack Built" - "Jack
the Giant Killer" - "Jack and the Beanstalk" - "Red
Riding-Hood" - "The Sleeping Beauty in the
Wood" - Unlucky subjects - "Ali Baba and the Forty
Thieves" - "The Fair One with Golden Locks" - The
source of "Sindbad the Sailor" and "Robinson Crusoe"


Pantomime in America


Pantomimes made more attractive - The Restrictive Policy
of the Patent Houses - "Mother Goose" and "George
Barnwell" at Covent Garden - Lively Audiences - "Jane
Shore" - "Harlequin Pat and Harlequin Bat" - "The
first speaking opening" - Extravagence in Extravaganzas - The
doom of the old form of Pantomime - Its
revival in a new form - A piece of pure Pantomime - Present
day Mimetic Art - "_L'Enfant Prodigue_" - A
retrospect - The old with the new, and conclusion


Origin of Pantomime.

From the beginning of all time there has been implanted in the human
breast the Dramatic instinct full of life and of vigour, and finding
undoubtedly its outlet, in the early days of civilization, if not in the
Dramatic Art then in the poetry of motion with that necessary and always
essential concomitant of both - Pantomime. Indeed, of the Terpsichorean
Art, it has been truly observed "That deprived of the imitative
principle (_i.e._, Pantomime), the strength, the mute expression, it
becomes nothing but a series of cadenced steps, interesting merely as a
graceful exercise." Equally so in every way does it apply to the
Dramatic Art, which minus its acting, its gestures - in a word, its
Pantomime - we have nothing but, to quote Hamlet, "Words, words, words."

In observing "That all the world's a stage, and the men and women merely
players," Shakespeare doubtless included in the generic term "players,"
Pantomimists as well: Inasmuch as this, that when, and wherever a
character is portrayed, or represented, be it in real life or on the
stage - "Nature's looking-glass," and the world in miniature - the words
that the individual or the character speaks, are accompanied with
gesture and motion, or, in other words, Pantomime, when "The action is
suited to the word, the word to the action."

To trace the original origin of Pantomime, or Mimicry, we must go to
Nature herself where we can find this practised by her from the
beginning of all time as freely, and as fully, as ever it was, or ever
will be, upon the stages of our theatres. What better evidence, or
instances, of this can we have than in those studies of her handiwork?
as the larger species of caterpillars, when, by stretching themselves
out in imitation of, and to make their foes think that they are snakes;
tigers and lions choosing a background in keeping with, and in imitation
of, the colours of their bodies, in order to seize their unwary prey;
and for the same purpose crocodiles imitating a rotting log; the green
tint of the lizard's skin for the sake of concealment; the playful
imitativeness of the mocking bird; the hysterical laugh of the hyaena;
the gaudy colours of tropical snakes imitated by others, besides many
other examples of Mimicry, in such as butterflies of the species
_Danaidae_ and _Acraediae_, the _Heliconidiae_ of tropical America; and
hornets, wasps, ants, and bees. All this, it may be urged, is only
instinct. True; but is it not also Mimicry - the Pantomime of Nature,
and, though, of course, of a different kind, and for very different
objects, is, nevertheless, of a kind of instinctive Pantomime or Mimicry
which each and every one of us possesses in greater or lesser degrees,
and as much as we do the Dramatic instinct.

The very name Pantomime itself signifies Nature as Pan was amongst the
Ancients, the allegorical god of Nature, the shepherd of Arcadia, and
with _Mimos_, meaning an imitator, we have, in the combination of these
two words, "an imitator of Nature," and from whence we derive the origin
of our word Pantomime.

Dryden says: -

"Pan taught to join with wax unequal reeds;
Pan loves the shepherds and the flocks he feeds."

"Pan," says Servius, "is a rustic god, formed in similitude of Nature,
whence he is called Pan, _i.e._, All: for he has horns in similitude of
the rays of the sun and the horns of the moon; his face is as ruddy as
the imitation of the aether; he has a spotted fawn skin on his breast in
likeness of the stars; his lower parts are shaggy on account of the
trees, shrubs, and wild beasts; he has goat's feet to denote the
stability of the earth; he has a pipe of seven reeds on account of the
harmony of the heavens, in which there are seven sounds; he has a crook,
that is a curved staff, on account of the year, which runs back on
itself _because he is the god of all Nature_."

Bernardin de St. Pierre observes of Pantomime, "That it was the first
language of man; it is known to all nations; and is so natural and so
expressive that the children of white parents learn it rapidly when they
see it used by the negroes."

Of the Pantomimic language - a universal language and common to the whole
world from time immemorial - Charles Darwin says in his "Descent of Man,"
that "The intellectual and social faculties of man could hardly have
been inferior in any extreme degree to those now possessed by the
lowest savage; otherwise primeval man could not have been so eminently
successful in the struggle for life as proved by his early and wide
diffusion. From the fundamental differences between certain languages
some philologists have inferred that, when man first became widely
diffused, he was not a speaking animal; but it may be suspected that
languages, far less perfect than any now spoken, _aided by gestures_,
might have been used, and yet have left no traces on subsequent and more
highly-developed tongues."

With the progress of, and also as an aid to, civilization how could the
traveller or the trader, not only in the beginning of time, but also
now, when occasion demands, in their intercourse with foreign nations
(unless, of course, they know the language) make themselves understood,
or be able to trade, unless they were or are able to use that "dumb
silent language" - Pantomime? Civilization undoubtedly owes much of its
progress to it, and, also the world at large, to this only and always
universal language. To both the deaf, as well as the dumb, its
advantages have ever been apparent.

Therefore, from prehistoric times, and from the beginning of the world,
we may presume to have had in some form or another, the Pantomimic Art.
In the lower stages of humanity, even in our own times, there is, in all
probability, a close similarity to the savagedom of mankind in the early
Antediluvian period as "This is shown (says Darwin) by the pleasure
which they all take in dancing, rude music, painting, tattooing, and
otherwise decorating themselves - in their mutual comprehension of
_gesture language_, and by the same inarticulate cries, when they are
excited by various emotions." It naturally follows that even if there
was only dancing, there must necessarily, as a form of entertainment,
have also been Pantomime. Again, all savage tribes have a war-dance of
some description, in which in fighting costume they invariably go
through, in Pantomimic form, the respective movements of the Challenge,
the Conflict, the Pursuit, and the Defeat, whilst other members of the
tribe, both men and women, give additional stimulus to these
representations by a rude form of music.

The Ostyak tribe of Northern Asia give us a specimen of the rude
imitative dances of early civilization in a Pantomimic exhibition of the
Chase; the gambols and habits of the wolf and other wild beasts. The
Pantomimic dances of the Kamchadales are in imitation of birds, dogs,
and bears; and the Damaras represent, by four of the tribe stooping down
with their heads together, and uttering harsh cries, the movements of
oxen, and of sheep. The Australian Bushmen Mimic the leaping of calves,
the antics of the baboon, and the buzzing of swarms of bees. Primitive
Pantomimic dancing is practised amongst the South Sea Islanders, and
other races, and just as it was, presumably, at the beginning of the

Having briefly traced the origin of Pantomime, and the source of
dancing, let us, in order to further amplify my subject, look at also
for a moment the origin of music, in the time of prehistoric man.

From Nature also do we derive this art, as "The sighing of the wind
passing over a bed of reeds is Nature's first suggestion of breath," and
of music. The clapping of hands and the stamping of feet is man's first
element in the making of music, which developed itself into the
formation of drums, bells, and cymbals, and the evolution of the same
primary principle.

It has been argued, and also ridiculously pretended, that in the
Antediluvian period mankind only lived in caves with the hairy mammoth,
the cave bear, the rhinoceros, and the hyaena, in a state of barbarous
savagery; and that only since the Deluge have the Arts been known and
cities built on this terrestrial sphere of ours. Could anything be more

We know, from the Bible, that the first man was created about six
thousand years ago, and some sixteen hundred and fifty-six years
afterwards the inhabitants of the world, with the exception of Noah and
his family, consisting of eight souls all told, were destroyed by the
flood. Noah and his family, we can take it, were of the same race of
mankind then on the earth, of the same descent and of the same flesh and
blood (as we all are) of our common father and mother, Adam and Eve; yet
we are not told that Noah (he was six hundred years old when he went
into the Ark) and his family were savages. In the 4th chapter, 21st
verse of Genesis, of Jubal-Cain, we learn that "He was the father of all
such as handle the harp and organ"; and in the following verse,
Tubal-Cain is described as "An instructor of every artificer in brass
and iron."

We learn, also, that magnificent statues were made in Egypt some six
thousand years ago; and that mention is made of a statue of King
Cephren, said to have been chiselled about this period, and many learned
men also affirm that letters were known to the inhabitants of the
Antediluvian world. All this, however, hardly looks like the work of a
barbarous race, and points to an acquaintance with the Arts, at any rate
of Music and Sculpture, and that of the artificers and workers in brass
and iron.

To follow, for my subject, this reasoning a little further, if there was
music (which, doubtless, there was) there must also have been dancing,
and, if dancing, there must, in the Antediluvian age, as a form of
entertainment, have also been Pantomime. On the other hand, even
supposing that man, at this period, was nothing else but a complete
savage, the words of Darwin, that I have quoted on a previous page,
conclusively proves, I think (on a common-sense like basis), of the
existence of dancing, a rude form of music, and, of course, Pantomime at
this epoch.

Ingersoll's doctrine was that "The distance from savagery to Shakespeare
must be measured not by hundreds, but by millions, of years."

Finally, why, and for what reason, should the Lord God, in His
all-seeing goodness and mercy, punish the inhabitants of the
Antediluvian world if they were only poor unenlightened savages? Was it
not because they were idolaters and worshippers of idols, "And that
every imagination of the thoughts of his (man's) heart was only evil
continually," as the sixth chapter and fifth verse of Genesis tells us?
This then being so, we know also that in every ancient form of religion
dancing was one of the acts of worship, and if dancing, there must as
previously stated, have also been Pantomime.


Origin of Tragedy and Comedy - Mythology - The meaning of the word
Pantomime - The origin of Harlequin, Columbine, Clown, and
Pantaloon - Grecian Mythology - Transformation Scenes - The rise of Grecian
Tragedy and Comedy - The Satirical Drama.

In the year 2347 B.C., in Chapter 9, verse 20, in Genesis, there occurs:
"And Noah began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard." This is
one of the first acts that Noah did after the Deluge, and it is, as
history tells us, from the rites and ceremonies in celebration of the
cultivation of the vine, that we owe the origin of Tragedy and Comedy.

After the Deluge God placed His bow in the heavens as His covenant with
man that the world should no more be accursed; and in the first ages of
this world's history, Noah and his descendants celebrated their
deliverance from the Ark, the return of the seasons, and the promise of
plenty in their several religious rites and ceremonies. The children of
Shem had in general Asia as their portion; Japhet had Europe; and Ham,

Soon, however, religion began to lose its purity, and it then began to
degenerate very fast. Men began to repair to the tops of mountains,
lonely caves and grottoes, where they thought resided their gods. To
honour them they erected altars and performed their vows. Amongst the
Ancients their Mythology went no further than the epoch of the Deluge,
and in honour of which, and also of the Ark, they erected many temples
called Aren, Theba, Argus (from whence was probably derived the Argo of
the Argonauts, and the sacred ship of Osiris), Cibotus, Toleus, and

The symbol by which the Mythologists represented the Ark was an immense
egg. This was supposed to have been produced by Ether and Chaos, at the
bidding of Time, the one ethereal being who created the universe. By Nox
(Night) the egg was hatched, which, being opened into two parts, from
the upper part was formed heaven, and the lower earth.

In the sacred rites of Osiris, Isis, and the Dionysia of Bacchus, the
Ark or Ship was introduced. The Dove, by many nations, in their
celebrations, was looked upon as a special emblem of peace and
good-will. Theba, in Egypt, was originally one of the temples dedicated
to the Ark. Both priests and sooth-sayers were styled Ionah or Doves. To
Dodona, in Epirus, was brought this and the first Grecian oracle all the
rites and history of the Thebans. The priestesses of this temple were
known in the Latin as _Columbae_. It is from this word that we derive
the name Columbine, which means, in the Italian, "little dove." Homer
alludes to the priestesses as doves, and that they administered to Zeuth
(Noah). Nonnus speaks of Cadmus, and others of Orpheus, as introducing
into Greece the rites of Dionysus or Bacchus.

The Ancients, mentions Kennedy in his work on "Mythology," have highly
reverenced Noah, and designated him as Noa, Noos, Nous, Nus, Nusas,
Nusus (in India), Thoth, Hermes, Mercury, Osiris, Prometheus,
Deucalion, Atlas, Deus, Zeus, and Dios. Dios was one of the most ancient
terms for Noah, and whence was derived Deus - Nusus compounded of Dios
and Nusos, which gives us Dionysus, the Bacchus of the Greeks, and the
chief god of the heathen world. Bacchus was, properly speaking, Cush
(the son of Ham, and grandson of Noah), though both Dionysus and Bacchus
are, by ancient writers, frequently confounded with one another.

The resting of the Ark upon Mount Baris, Minyas, the Ararat of Moses in
Armenia, the dispersal of the flood, the multiplication of the families
of the earth, and the migration from the plains of Shinar of the
descendants of the sons of Chus or Cush (as it is sometimes written),
and called Chushites or Cushites, to different parts of the world, being
joined by other nations, particularly those of the descendants of Ham,
one of the sons of Noah. They were the first apostates from the truth,
but being great in worldly wisdom and knowledge they were thought to be,
and looked upon as a superior class of beings. Ham they looked upon as a
divinity, and under the name of Ammon they worshipped him as the Sun,
and Chus likewise as Apollo, a name which was also bestowed by the
Ancients upon Noah. The worship of the sun in all probability originated
the eastern position in our churches.

Another of the ancient deities worshipped by the Ammonians was Meed, or
Meet, the Cybele of the Phrygians, the nurse of Dionysus, and the Soul
of the World.

Nimrod, the "mighty hunter" (who possessed the regions of Babylonia and
Chaldee), and one of the sons of Cush, was the builder of that seminary
of idolatory the City and Tower of Bel, and erected in honour of the god
Bel, and another name for the sun. Upon the confusion of tongues when
hitherto "The whole earth was of one language, and of one speech," it
came to be known as Babylon, "The City of Confusion." Homer introduces
Orion (Nimrod) as a giant and a hunter in the shades below, and the
author of the "Pascal Chronicles" mentions that Nimrod taught the
Assyrians or Babylonians to worship fire. The priests of Ammon, named
Petor or Pator, used to dance round a large fire, which they affected in
their dancing to describe. Probably from this the Dervish dances all
over the East may be traced to this source.

Kennedy observes, of the confusion of tongues at Babel, that it was only
a labial failure, so that the people could not articulate. It was not an
aberration in words or language, but a failure and incapacity in labial
utterance. Epiphanius says that Babel, or Babylon, was the first city
built after the flood.

The Cushites were a large and numerous body, and after their dispersion
from Babylon they were scattered "Abroad upon the face of the earth."
They were the same people who imparted their rites and religious
services into Egypt, as far as the Indus and the Ganges, and still
further into Japan and China. From this event is to be discovered the
fable of the flight of the Grecian god Bacchus, the fabulous wanderings
of Osiris, and the same god under another name, of the Egyptians.
Wherever Dionysus, Osiris, or Bacchus went, the Ancients say that he

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