[D.-L.L.] (XVII) Bc [Pernassus] SR
The “Parnassus plays” are a series of three plays performed as Christmas entertainments at St John’s College, Cambridge, between 1597 and 1603, aiming to depict the wretched state of scholars and the scant effect paid to learning by the world at large. Their primary interest is in their references to, and judgements on, contemporary dramatists. They include some of the earliest comments on the merit of Shakespeare, before editorial work on his plays had fairly begun. In this play, the graduate Philomusus quotes the beginning of Richard III. Judicio, a press corrector, says that Shakespeare’s verse contains “heart [th]robbing life” and regrets: “Could but a graver subject him content / Without loves foolish languishment”, and William Kemp (an actual actor of the time) praises Shakespeare: “Few of the university pen plaies well … Why heres our fellow Shakespeare puts them all down, I and Ben Jonson too. O that Ben Jonson is a pestilent fellow … but our fellow Shakespeare hath given him a purge that made him beray his credit”.