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Black-letter Broadside Ballads Of The years 1595-1639

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Stationers' Hall, all during the years 1591—1595. The reason for the small number lies, no doubt, in the unwill­ingness of the dramatic companies to have their jigs "staled" by the press: they protected the jigs in their repertory more successfully than their plays. Uncertainty about printers' rights to the copies caused the Clerk of the Stationers' Company to license, in December, 1591, two jigs with the proviso, so often met with in entries of plays, "so that they appertain not to any other1." But jigs did not die out in 1595; far from it.
On December 12, 1597, Philip Henslowe bought two jigs for the use of a company of actors, paying for the two six shillings and eight pence2,—proof that jigs had received the approval of the box-office. In 1598, Ben Jonson tells us, jigs came "ordinarily after a play3." He loathed "the concupiscence of jigs and dances," and be­lieved that they prevented audiences from appreciating plays4. "Your only jig-maker," Hamlet calls himself after he has carried on a vulgar dialogue with the bewildered Ophelia. As for Polonius, who is bored by the long tragic speech of the Player, Hamlet sarcastically remarks: "He's for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps5."
Customarily when a play was finished and the epilogue spoken, the musicians struck up a tune and the comedians came dancing out for the jig. "I haue often seene," wrote Thomas Dekker in 1613, "after the finishing of some worthy Tragedy, or Catastrophe in the open Thea­ters, that the Sceane after the Epilogue hath beene more blacke (about a nasty bawdy Iigge) then the most horrid Sceane in the Play was6." There can be no doubt that some people went to the theatres to see the jig no less
1  Arber's Transcript, 11, 600.
2  Henslowe's Diary, ed. W. W. Greg, 1, 70, 82.
3  Every Man out of His Humour, 11, i.
4   Induction to Bartholomew Fair.
5  Hamlet, in, ii, 132; 11, ii, 522.
6  A Strange Horse Race {Works, ed. Grosart, in, 340). Cf. Edmund Gayton's Pleasant Notes upon Don Quixot, 1654, pp. 108, 187, 271-272.
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