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The Lord Mayor's shows from Peele to Settle : a study of literary content, organization, and methods of production.
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The London Lord Mayor's Show had two origins: The Lord Mayor's journey to Westminster to be sworn before the King, dating from the twelfth century; and the sixteenth century Midsummer Watch. In 1585, the year of the first extant pamphlet describing the Show, there was but a single pageant; within thirty years the Show was an impressive size, and remained so, as pamphlets and eyewitness accounts alike indicate, despite the satirical tone of the latter, till 1708, when the last descriptive pamphlet was published. The Show was for the glory of the City, and was paid for and organized by the major Company from which the Lord Mayor was drawn. One cause of the Show's decease was the increased unwillingness of the Companies to pay. The necessary exacting arrangements for the procession and tableaux were partly delegated. The poet and artificer of a Show were responsible, in various combinations of responsibility, for the device and construction of the pageants, the writing of the speeches and pamphlets. The artificers, except Garret Christmas, were obscure. The-poets included Jonson, Middleton, Peele, John Tatham, Thomas Jordan, and, Elkanah Settle. It is often possible to suggest reasons for the appointment of a particular poet, though no rule can be laid down. On the whole the earlier pageant-poets were superior, but Jordan is an exception. The word "pageant-poet" is usually to be preferred to "city-poet", since this latter suggests an office which-did not exist except possibly in Settle's case, and even then there was no pay.
AuthorsWilliams, Sheila Hannah
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