Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/316

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of those kinds of dramatic amusement that have been described in Chapter XIV. of the author's Shakespeare's London.

The masque, which reached its greatest glory during the reign of King James, had a very meagre beginning long before in England. In the beginning it was nothing more than a form of disguising indulged in by some of the regular guests who took part in a festive occasion where dancing was a part of the ceremony. These details must be constantly borne in mind. The masquers were of the regular and expected guests, there was always a dance to give rise to the masque, and there was a disguise. Bacon, in his essay Of Masques and Triumphs, says, "Let the suits of the masquers be graceful and such as become the person when the vizers are off; not after examples of known attires—Turks, soldiers, mariners, and the like." This allusion is to what constituted the next step in the development of the masque, namely the assumption of some costume that was so unusual as to require a word of explanation. It was customary to have this explanation of what the masquers represented spoken by a page, and it is such a speech that is referred to in Romeo and Juliet under the name "without-book prologue." When the page had spoken his piece he withdrew and left the masquers to choose their