by Brendan Clifford

PART FOUR—Sweeney Among The Fifth Monarchy Men.

Revolutionary England abolished the theatre in September 1642. All the Parliamentary parties were agreed that play-acting was incompatible with virtue and must be suppressed. This was a unique point of general agreement amongst them.

The theatre was restored by the counter-revolution in 1660. Its restoration by the Restoration was a deliberate act of counter-revolutionary policy. And the Restoration theatre made a virtue of displaying vice in order to show that the Puritan era was over and done with. Because the Puritans were so good, the Cavaliers made a point of being bad. It was not their purpose to show that the Puritans were mistaken in supposing that the theatre was more suited to the representation of vice than to the representation of virtue. Their purpose was to restore vice to its proper place in human affairs. And they were not mealy-mouthed about it.                                             

But while the Restoration theatre was abandoned as to content, it was not free in any other sense. It was a licensed theatre. And in the whole of England only two theatres were allowed, both in London. Two theatres sufficed for the purpose of giving bad example, and horrifying the Puritans.

The Puritans were diligently scandalised by the Restoration theatre. The Restoration might be said to have lasted until 1832. And throughout that period the Puritans remained scandalised by it. The 1832 Reform readmitted them to political power, from which they had been excluded in 1660.

The Cavaliers restored the theatre in principle, but held it in check. The Restoration theatre was the spice of life, not the substance. In 18th century England real life and theatrical make-believe were in no danger of merging.

Puritan England retained a strong bias against the theatre all through the Restoration era. In 1832 it forced its way into parliament by a credible threat of rebellion. And it was under the growing influence of this Puritan revival that theatre developed into the universal medium of actual life that it is today.

The theatrical development of Puritanism is more obvious in America than in England. America originated in a detachment of Puritan England that split off in order to construct a way of life according to its own moral vision. It was not greatly affected by the Restoration (except that the flow of Puritan migrants, which dried up when the English state was Puritan, resumed). It remained Puritan when England became Cavalier. Westminster imposed taxes on it but did not impose the theatre. There seems to have been little or no theatre in 18th century Puritan America and not very much in the early 19th century. But in 20th century America real life has been lived in the shadow of the theatre. The most competent President of the second half of the century trained for the job by being a film actor. He treated the Presidency as another acting job. And he coped with an assassination attempt with the same nonchalance as if it had happened on a film set.

The Puritan adventure began by abolishing the theatre and ended by abolishing real life.

This turn of events makes it reasonable to suspect that Puritanism must always have been a kind of theatricality. And in fact that is how the Cavaliers saw it. The Puritans denounced the theatre for what they called hypocrisy, and the Cavaliers despised the Puritans as hypocrites.

The most popular play immediately following the Restoration was Cutter of Coleman Street by Abraham Cowley.

This was a play with a social function. And having served that function it was promptly forgotten. Its function was to transform the decade of Puritan rule, which had been experienced by people of a Cavalier disposition as a nightmare, into a farce. It heaped ridicule on the Puritan regime from which the country had just escaped, and especially on the Fifth Monarchists, the Puritan party which came within a hairsbreadth of stabilising the Puritan regime by a comprehensive reform of the law and the economy, (and which governed Ireland in the 1650s).

English catharsis was not achieved by tragedy but by farce. And the instrument of catharsis, having performed its function, was discarded. Cutter was not dropped from the theatrical repetoire because it was a bad play. Worse plays have survived. It was dropped because Cavalier England did not want a constant reminder of what England had almost become.

Cowley was born in London in 1618. He was the son of a stationer; was ejected from a Cambridge Fellowship in 1646; was authorised by Cromwell to return to England in 1654; was imprisoned in 1655; was released on a bond of £1,000 in 1657 and permitted to take an M. D. degree at Oxford; retired to France when Cromwell died in 1658 and English affairs went into flux; and returned at the Restoration and was reinstated in his Cambridge Fellowship.

The play is set in London in 1658, the year Cromwell died. Cromwell had suppressed the Fifth Monarchists (the most coherent and powerful Puritan party ) in England in 1653 (and had given them Ireland to govern), but he could not devise a replacement party which functioned. His personal dictatorship kept things in a state of suspended animation for five years. On his death animation was restored, and things went into flux again until the Restoration was accomplished in 1660.

Cutter is a down-at-heel gentleman living by his wits and pretending to have been a Colonel in the King's army. He strikes up an acquaintance with Jolly, whose estate was confiscated,

"...for being with the King at Oxford. A curse upon an old Dunce that needs must be going to Oxford at my years! My good Neighbour, Colonel Fear-the-Lord Barebottle, a Saint and a Soap-boiler, bought it; but he's dead, and boiling now himself, that's the best of it; there's a Cavalier's comfort. If his damnable Wife would marry me, it would return again, as I hope all things will at last."

Truman wants his son to marry Tabitha, daughter of the Soap-boiler's widow. But Cutter, instructed by Jolly, affects a conversion to Sainthood and woos Tabitha:—

"Jolly: So, now the Widow's gone, I may breathe a little. I believe really that true Devotion is a great Pleasure, but 'tis a damned constraint and drudgery me-thinks, this Dissimulation of it. I wonder how the new Saints can endure it, to be always at the work, Day and Night Acting. But great Gain makes everything seem easy; and they have, I suppose, good Lusty Recreations in private. She's gone, the Little Holy thing, as proud as Lucifer, with the Imagination of being a Chosen Instrument of my Conversion from Popery, Prelacy, and Cavalierism; she's gone to brag of it to Joseph Knock-down, and bring him to confirm me. But Cutter, there was the best Humor that ever was begot in a Rogue's Noddle!, to be Converted on the Instant, the Inspiration way, by my example! It may hap get thee Tabitha.

"Cutter: Nay, and I hit just pat upon her way, for though the Mother is a kind of Brownist (I know not what the Devil she is indeed) yet Tabitha is of the Fifth Monarchist Faith, and was wont to go every Sunday a-foot over the Bridge, to hear Mr. Feak, when he was a Prisoner in Lambeth house. She has had a Vision, herself, of Horns and strange things.

"Jolly: Pish! Cutter, for the way that's not material, so there be but enough of Nonsense and Hypocrisie."

The seduction goes like this:—

"Widow: My brother Cutter here is grown the Heavenliest man o' the sudden...

"Cutter: Sister Barebottle, I must not be called Cutter any more. That is a name of Cavalero darkness: the Devil was a Cutter from the beginning. My name is now Abednego.

"Tabitha: The wonderful Vocation of some Vessels!

"Cutter: It is a name that signifies Fiery Furnaces, and Tribulation, and Martyrdom. I know I am to suffer for the Truth.

"Tabitha: Not as to death, Brother, if it be his will.

"Cutter: As to death, Sister; but I shall gloriously return.

"Jolly: What, Brother, after death? That were miraculous.

"Cutter: Why the wonder of it is, that it is to be miraculous.

"Jolly: But Miracles are ceased Brother, in this wicked age of Cavalierism.

"Cutter: They are not ceased Brother, nor shall they cease till the Monarchy be established. I say I am to return, and to return upon a Purple Dromedary, which signifies Magistracy, with an Ax in my hand that is called Reformation; and I am to strike with that Ax upon the Gate of Westminster-hall, and cry, Down Babylon; and the Building called Westminster Hall is to run away and cast itself into the River; and then Major General Harrison is to come in Green sleeves from the North upon a Sky-coloured Mule, which signifies heavenly Instruction.

"Tabitha: Oh the Father! He's as full of Mysteries as an Egg is full of meat.

"Cutter: And he is to have a Trumpet in his mouth as big as a Steeple, and at the sound of that Trumpet all the Churches in London are to fall down.

"Widow: O strange! What times we shall see here in poor England.

"Cutter: And then Venner shall march up to us from the West in the figure of a Wave of the Sea, holding in his hand a Ship that shall be called the Ark of the Reformed.

"Jolly: But when must this be, Brother Abednego.

"Cutter: Why all these things are to be when the Cat of the North o'er-come the Lion of the South and when the Mouse of the West has slain the Elephant of the East. I do hear a silent Voice within me, that bids me rise up presently and declare these things to the Congregation of the Lovely in Coleman-street. Tabitha, Tabitha, Tabitha, I call thee thrice: come along with me, Tabitha.

"Tabitha: There was something of this, as I remember, in my last Vision of Horns the other day. Holy man! I follow thee."


"Cutter: And the same Vision told me, Sister Tabitha, that this same day, the first of the seventh month, in the year of Grace 1658, and of Revelation, and Confusion of Carnal Monarchies the tenth [ie of the era begun with the beheading of the King in January 1649], that we two, who are both holy Vessels, should by a holy man be joyned together in the holy Bond of sanctified Matrimony.

"Tabitha: Aye, brother Abednego, but our friends consents...

"Cutter: Heaven is our friend, and, Sister, Heaven puts this into our thoughts; it is, no doubt, for propagation of the great Mystery; there shall arise from our two bodies, a great Confounder of Gogmagog, who shall be called the Pestle of Antichrist, and his children shall inherit the Grapes of Canaan.

"Tabitha: My mother will be angry, I'm afraid.

"Cutter: Your Mother will rejoice; the Vision says so, sister. The Vision says your Mother will rejoice; how it will rejoice her righteous heart to see you, Tabitha, riding behind me upon the Purple Dromedary? I would not for the world that you should do it, but that we are commanded from above".

And so marriage with the Puritan heiress becomes an accomplished fact. And then she is bedded:—

"Cutter: Come to my bed, my dear, my dear,
My dear come to my bed,
For the pleasantest pain, and the loss with gain
Is the loss of a Maidenhead.

"Tabitha: Is that a Psalm, brother Husband, that you sing?

"Cutter: No, Sister Wife, a short Ejaculation only".

One thing leads to another. Cutter causes Tabitha to re-discover the pleasure of dancing, and she is ripened for the Restoration.

The audience at the first performance of the play disliked it. Because the central character was a Royalist confidence trickster they took it to be anti-Royalist. The Puritan influence had struck deep and the sense of humour had to be reconstituted. The play became immensely popular when the audience learned how to see it.

Cowley published the play with a Preface which warned of the dangers of a kind of counter-Puritanism:

"The Church of Rome with all her arrogance, and her wide pretence of cetainty in all Truths, and exemption from all Errors, does not clap on this enchanted Armour of Infallibility upon all her particular Subjects, nor is offended at the reproof even of her greatest Doctors. We are not, I hope, become such Puritans our selves as to assume the Name of the Congregation of the Spotless. It is hard for any party to be so Ill as that no Good, Impossible to be so Good as that no Ill, should be found among them."

Cowley's previous publication appeared almost twenty years earlier: The Puritan And The Papist—A Satyre, By a Scholler in Oxford, was published in 1643, near the beginning of the Civil War when the idea of a Puritan Republic was still barely conceivable:—

So two rude waves, by storms together thrown,
Roar at each other, fight, and then grow one.
Religion is a Circle; men centred,
And run the round in dispute without end.
Now in a Circle who go contrary
Must at last meet of necessity.
The Roman to advance the Catholic cause
Allows a Lie, and calls it Pia Fraus.
The Puritan approves and does the same,
Dislikes nought in it but the Latin name

They keep the Bible from Lay-men, but ye
Avoid this, for ye have no Laitie.
They in a foreign, and unknown tongue pray,
You in an unknown sense your prayers say
So that this difference 'twixt ye does ensue,
Fooles understand not them, nor Wise men you.
They an unprofitable zeal have got
Of invocating Saints that hear them not.
'Twere well you did so; nought may more be feared
In your fond prayers, than that they may be heard.

They keep the people ignorant, and you
Keep both the People, and yourselves so too.
They blind obedience and blind duty teach;
You blind Rebellion and blind faction preach.
Not that I blame you much, that ye advance
That which can only save ye, Ignorance,
Though Heaven be praised, t' has oft been proved well
Your Ignorance is not Invincible.
Nay such bold lies to God himself ye vaunt,
As if you'd fain keep him too ignorant

They of strange Miracles and wonders tell,
You are your selves a kind of Miracle;
Even such a miracle as in writ divine
We read o'th Devils hurrying down the Swine.
They have made Images to speak, 'tis said.
You a dull Image for your Speaker made

I' th' Sacrament ye agree not, but 'tis noted,
Bread must be Flesh, Wine Blood, if ere it be voted

Nay all your Preachers, Women, Boys, or Men,
From Master Calamy, to Mistress Ven,
Are perfect Popes in their own Parish grown;
For to outdo the story of Pope Joan;
Your Women preach too, and one like to be
The Whore of Babylon, as much as She.

Marxism, often described as "the science of history", tends to deprive the mind of historical sense, or to attract minds without historical sense. A Marxist historian is a sort of contradiction of terms. It was the great merit of Louis Althusser's life that it demonstrated the impossibility of Marxist history. The inherent tendency of what is particular to the Marxist vision is to conjure away the dimension of human affairs that gives rise to history, and to conceive human affairs as if they were of a kind with the affairs of a beehive or an ant colony.

Maeterlinck wrote a History Of The Bee around the turn of the century. What it showed was that the bee does not live in history, but in sociology. It escaped from the turmoil and uncertainty of history into the routine of sociological existence some millions of years ago. The life of the bee can be known objectively in the way that the life of the planets is known. Whatever in the way of subjectivity exists in the bee is under such regular physiological control that the life of the bee is entirely predictable generation after generation, century after century, millenium after millenium. But in human nature subjectivity is not under regular physiological control. Arbitrary subjective impulse plays a major part in human behaviour, which is therefore erratic and unpredictable by comparison with the behaviour of other animal species. Kant summed it up when he said: "Out of the crooked wood of humanity nothing straight can be made".

The Puritan movement was an attempt to straighten out humanity and reduce it to a regular mode of life. So was the Marxist movement. That is the point of affinity between them. And it must be why English Marxism has been fascinated by the Puritan revolution on the one hand and has been entirely unable to write its history on the other.

Christopher Hill, the doyen of English academic historians, began writing the Marxist history of the Puritan revolution fifty years ago. He inspired hundreds, possibly thousands, of other academics to take part in the business of establishing the economic determinants of the affair. The first attempt was the most coherent because it was based on the least information. The attempt to reinforce the first statement of the case with more detailed information, and to "nuance" it by relating particular tendencies or emphases to particular economic groupings, led towards chaos. The requisite economic alignments with political and theological tendencies could not be constructed.

The Puritans sought to bring humanity to rest through compliance with the will of God as revealed in the Scriptures, and they embarked on the project believing it must succeed because God had finally decided to back up his words with deeds. The Marxists, not believing in God, necessarily regarded the Puritan belief that they were the agents of divine Providence as an ideological delusion. But Hill and his followers had an atheist counterpart of Providence in the shape of determination of human conduct and subjectivity by economic forms. History consisted of the succession of a small number of economic forms, each leading through its contradictions to its successor, until the final, non-contradictory, economic form was produced and history came to an end. The Puritan revolution marked the entry into the last-but-one economic form. The Puritan belief that history was about to end was therefore a delusion, but only because it was a stage premature.

Because the Puritans were inaugurating the second last economic form, and the one most riven by violent contradiction, they could not have scientific knowledge of social affairs. Their forms of thought were necessarily ideological and theological. Their ideal of bringing humanity to rest, though admirable, could not be realised until the economic form which they ushered in had run its course and, by making itself intolerable, produced the final economic form.

Something like this was the given conceptual framework through which Hill and his followers looked at the Puritan revolution. They knew what the Puritans were really doing and so they had little interest in what the Puritans thought they were doing. The development of the new economic form was what was real. The particular notions which the Puritans generated for the doing of it were delusions, useful in that through them the Puritans stimulated themselves to do what the new economic form required that they should do, but otherwise not to be taken much notice of. Thus Puritanism was at once admired and discounted.

I said in the first article in this series that there was no Marxist writing on Puritanism and the theatre. I find I was mistaken. A book entitled Puritanism And Theatre was published by Cambridge University Press in 1980. The author is Margot Heinemann, "Fellow of New Hall, Cambridge". Before becoming an academic Margot Heinemann was for twenty or thirty years, (during the forties and fifties, and for some years before and after), one of the standard propaganda writers for the Communist Party.

Her book is one that would have been better not written. It would have been more creditable to the intellectual conscience of the Communist Party to have said nothing on the subject of Puritanism and the theatre than to have said this. Unfortunately one of the remarkable powers of the Communist Party was its ability to erase from the minds of its intellectuals whatever semblance of intellectual conscience they might have had on joining it.

Heinemann's book is subtitled "Thomas Middleton and Opposition Drama under the early Stuarts". The central fact that the Puritans in power abolished the theatre, acting by general consensus, is scarcely mentioned. And Prynne's massive anti-theatre pamphlet, Histrio Mastix, for which he spent eight years in prison, is scarcely mentioned. That might be fair enough if the history of the Puritan suppression of the theatre were dealt with in other books or pamphlets currently available. In such circumstances Heinemann's book might be seen as supplying some interesting marginal notes to the main history of the subject. But in fact her's is the only publication on the subject. And her title suggests that it deals with the basic history of the matter. In these circumstances it must be seen as an attempt in the 1980s to conjure away a central fact of the English revolution by application of the methods used around 1950 to conjure away obvious facts of British political life. She plods obscurely around the margins of the subject with the object of focussing attention on minor incidentals and thereby causing the central fact not to be seen.

The bare mention of the central fact is found on page 18:—

"That Parliament in 1642 ordered the theatres to be closed is probably the best known fact in English theatrical history. And since the Parliamentary Puritans were then in power, all critics of the theatre are commonly assumed in literary history to be Puritans, and all Puritans hostile to the theatre, as if the two were synonymous.

"The identification of Puritans and Parliament with total hostility to art, culture and beauty has become almost axiomatic. It is, indeed, so integrated into the language that to speak of Puritans who were not "puritanical" sounds like splitting hairs...It is easy to show that this stereotype does not fit many of those we most readily think of as 17th century Puritans—Milton or Marvell, Cromwell or Colonel Hutchinson."

Now I had come across no murmur of Puritan discontent about the abolition of theatre. I was therefore eager to find Heinemann's evidence for her suggestion that there was not a Puritan consensus on the matter. But she presents no such evidence. And since her purpose is to suggest that the "stereotype" of Puritan hostility to theatre is false, and that there was actually Puritan theatre, I take it that her failure to show any Puritan dissent from the act of abolition in 1642 is evidence as conclusive as one could hope for that there was no such dissent.

Her "evidence" that the relationship of Puritanism and theatre is not clear-cut relates to the 1620s or earlier, and therefore to the pre-history of Puritanism as a distinct political phenomenon, which as far as I can see began in the Parliament of 1628/9 and was hardened in the course of the 1630s, the decade without Parliaments. Prior to 1628 one finds a welter of different impulses jostling together and engaged in fluctuating relationships with each other and with the Crown. The crystallisation of Puritanism into a coherent political force was the outcome of the attempt of Charles I and Archbishop Laud to shape England into a different kind of coherence.

Heinemann says:-

"Milton was a passionate theatre-goer in his youth, profoundly sensuous in Paradise Lost, yet in some sense a Puritan. Leicester and Walsingham were noted patrons both of Puritans and players. The 3rd Earl of Pembroke, Shakespeare's patron, was considered leader of the Puritan group in James I's government...Bulstrode Whitelocke was a habitue of Blackfriars' and as a Cromwellian official persuaded the Protector to allow operas. The Puritan Sir Thomas Barrington's library included Shakespeare's First Folio"…etc., (p. 21).

Having a soft spot for Milton I assumed that he had not shared the Puritan hostility towards theatre but out of political prudence had gone along with the suppression making mental reservations. In an attempt to confirm this I looked through the 20 volume Works published by Columbia University. Two of those 20 volumes are an exhaustive Index. I found the following headings: Actors, Players, Playhouses, Playwriters, Stageplayers and Theatres. His references to the theatre of his time were all disparaging, and writers for it were "despicable creatures" (Vol IV, p. 286).

The following passage is from Eikonoklastes, Milton's reply, after the execution of the King in 1649, to the Eikon Basilike, a book purportedly written by the King:—

"And who knows not the superstitious rigor of his Sunday's Chappel, and the licentious remissness of his Sunday's Theater; Dominical Jiggs and May-poles,published in his own Name, and derived from the example of his Father James. Which testifies all that rigor in supersitition, all that remissness in Religion to have issued out originally from his own House, and from his own Authority" (Vol 5, p. 81).

And from Angli Pro Populo Anglicano, Milton's reply to Salmasius:—

"You make comparisons between king Charles and some of the good kings of Judah...It were to no purpose to inquire into the private actions of his life, who in public at the theatre would wantonly embrace and kiss women, and fondle virgins' and matrons' breasts, not to mention the rest. I advise you...you counterfeit Plutarch, henceforth to abstain from such absurd Parallels" (Vol 7, p. 237).

"If you say that Charles 'died a death fully answerable to his life', I agree with you; if you say he died piously, holily, and 'composedly', remember that his grandmother Mary, an infamous woman, died on the scaffold with as much outward show of piety, holiness, and constancy as he did. And lest you should ascribe too much to that very strong impression of courage which many common malefactors often give at their death, let me tell you that despair or a hardened heart many times puts on a certain look and mask, as it were, of fortitude, and stupidity, many times a show of tranquillity of mind. The worst of men desire to appear good, undaunted, innocent, and sometimes holy, not only in their life, but at their death as well. In going to their death for very great villainies, they are wont to make a last parade of their hypocrisy and deception as handsomely as they can, and, as is the way with foolish poets or stageplayers, hanker after applause even when the play is over" (p. 485).

"I will be content to pass by in silence the life he spent amid banquets, plays, and bevies and troops of women" (p. 515).

All of Milton's references to the theatre are of this kind. I came across no hint that he had any reservations about the abolition at the time it was done or at any time thereafter, although a reflection on the possibility of creating a form of theatre that was not base and evil occurs in a Commonplace Book written in Latin, the manuscript of which was found in 1874 and published in 1876. A translation is given in Vol. XVIII of the Works. The paragraph on theatre is as follows:—

"In the work entitled On Spectacles Tertullian condemns their vogue and excludes Christians from them. In fact, it is not only with arguments (which excoriate the pagan games only) that he supports his obligation to bind with religious scruples the mind of a wary and prudent Christian from venturing to witness a dramatic poem, artistically composed by a poet in no wise lacking in skill. Still, in the epilogue of the work he very finely with all the powers of rhetoric directs the mind of a Christian to better spectacles, namely, those of a divine and heavenly character, such as, in great number and grandeur, a Christian can anticipate in connection with the coming of Christ and the Last Judgment. Cyprian, or whoever wrote the book that deals with the same subject, rolls exactly the same stone. And Lactantius by arguments no whit stronger puts a stigma upon the whole dramatic art. He does not even once seem to have reflected that, while the corrupting influence of the theater ought to be eliminated, it does not follow that it is necessary to abolish altogether the performance of plays. This on the contrary would be quite senseless; for what in the whole of philosophy is more impressive, purer, or more uplifting than a noble tragedy, what is more helpful to a survey at a single glance of the hazards and changes of human life? In the following chapter the same writer seems to be desirious of removing from social life the whole art of music" (p. 207).

The Common-Place Book is undated. Its discoverer, A.J. Horwood, dated it by the handwriting as having been written in 1637.

The profound embarrassment of post-Restoration England about what England did in those 20 years from 1641 to 1660 is well demonstrated by the fact that there is not amongst the great multitude of books about Milton one entitled "Milton and the Abolition of the Theatre in England". And this ongoing embarrassment three and a half centuries later indicates that what went on in those 20 years was not a transient aberration but, despite the great display of Restoration, formed a continuing element of English life.

In her attempt to escape from this embarrassment, Margot Heinemann performs a sleight-of-mind by presenting "Opposition Drama" as Puritan drama. Her "Puritan playwright", Thomas Middleton, died in 1627. His best known play, A Game At Chess (1624), was part of the anti-Spanish propaganda of the time when a Spanish marriage for the future Charles I seemed to be in prospect, with various political personalities of the time represented by chess pieces. The opposition to the Spanish marriage included Puritans along with others, and the Puritans at that juncture were not sharply distinguished from other elements in the opposition. And other plays by Middleton make it absurd to think of him as a Puritan, e.g. The Honest Whore and The Roaring Girl.

Bellafront, "a harlot", reflects:—

"Had I but met with one kind gentleman,
That would have purchased sin alone to himself,
For his own private use...
I would have been true unto his pleasures,
Yea, and as loyal to his afternoons,
As ever a poor gentlewoman would be."

When it is suggested that if she hooked such a gentleman she would soon cheat on him, she replies:—

"Not I! therein I'll prove an honest whore,
In being true to one, and to no more."

The Roaring Girl is much more spirited. She is based on an entrepreneur in what is nowadays called the sex industry, who lived at the Barbican, and whose life continued after Middleton's death, into the period of the Civil War. She was a brothel keeper who never asked anybody to do what she would not do herself, a receiver of stolen goods, and the first woman smoker. She was also a gender bender, dressed male or female as the inclination took her, and pursued the sex object appropriate to the role. She is discussed as follows:—

"Mistress Gallipot: Some will not stick to say she is a man. And some, both man and woman.

Laxton: That were excellent: she might first cuckold the husband, and then make him do as much for his wife."

And she reflects about herself:—

"I have no humour to marry: I love to lie a' both sides a' the bed myself."


"...I defy all men, their worst hates
And their best flatteries, all their golden witchcrafts,
With which they entangle the poor spirits of fools,
Distressed needle-women and trade-fallen wives;
Fish that must needs bite or themselves be bitten.
Such hungry things as these must soon be took
With a worm fastened on a golden hook:
These are the letcher's food, his prey; he watches
For quarelling wedlocks and poor shifting sisters

"I scorn to prostitute myself to a man,
I that can prostitute a man to me

"She that has wit and spirit may scorn
To live beholden to her body for meat;
Or for apparel, like your common dame,
That makes shame get her clothes to cover shame

"How many are whores in small ruffs and still looks!
How many chaste whose names fill Slander's books!
Perhaps for my mad going some reprove me;
I please myself, and care not else who love me".

To call that Puritan theatre in order to avoide thinking about the fact that Puritanism in power abolished theatre (and that the societies in which Puritanism abolished theatre subsequently became more dependent on theatre than any others because they also obliterated the traditional sources of social life) is the last word in weak-mindedness. But it helps one to understand why in the end the Communist Party of Great Britain simply evaporated.      

Regarding Bulstrode Whitelocke and Operas: what I recall of Whitelocke is that he was a prudent gentleman who attached himself to the Puritan cause when it was in the ascendant; that in the early 1650's he was opposed to Cromwell making himself King; but that around 1656 he sensed that the Revolution had failed to make a settlement and then urged Cromwell to make himself King so that the country might settle down under a familiar title and a new Royal dynasty might legitimise the act by which King Charles was put an end to. And if Cromwell was to be King, then, of course, he ought to be a patron of the Opera. But what has that to do with Puritanism? It was a proposal that the leader of the Puritan Revolution should acknowledge its failure and enact a Counter-Revolution.                  

Part One:—A Wanton Dissipation Of Spirit.

Part Two:—Whores, Adulterers And Fornicators.

Part Three:—Hollywood And Humanism—Cars And Courtesans.

Part Four:—Sweeney Among The Fifth Monarchy Men.

Part Five:—Of Prods & Gods & Dancing Girls; Of Censorship & Things.

Part Six:—Theatre & Life; Part One.

Part Seven:—Theatre & Life; Part Two.

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