The following article was originally published in A Dictionary of the Drama. W. Davenport Adams. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1904.

Horses, dogs, etc., have figured on the boards from "time immemorial"--not only as "properties," but in reality. Plays have even been written for them. At one time the "equestrian drama," as it was called, "flourished" indeed. To trace the origin of the appearance of animals even on the English stage would be impossible. Pepys speaks of witnessing in 1668 a performance of Shirley's Hide Park, in which horses were brought before the audience. In 1727, when Shakespeare's Henry VIII was revived, a mounted champion figured in the coronation spectacle. In 1802 Astley rebuilt his amphitheatre, and it was then, says Dutton Cook, that the "equestrian drama" became an institution. In the same year a dog had figured at Drury Lane in Reynolds's Caravan, and had been so successful as to receive the tribute of the Managerial raptures. In 1811 Colman's Blue Beard was brought out at Covent Garden with a troop of horses--a spectacle satirized at the Haymarket in The Quadrupeds of Quedlinburgh, and at the Drury Lane in The Quadrupeds; or, The Manager's Last Kick. In the prologue to the former, it was said--

"Dear Johnny Bull....
Your taste, recovered half from foreign quacks,
Takes airings now on English horses' backs,
While every modern bard may raise his name,
If not on lasting praise, on stable fame."

In the brothers Smith's Rejected Addresses, published in 1812, we read in the parody on Coleridge--

"Amid the freaks that modern fashion sanctions,
It grieves me much to see live animals
Brought on the stage. Grimaldi has his rabbit,
Laurent his cat, and Bradbury his pig.
Fie on such tricks!"

The Dog of Montargis; or, The Forest of Bondy has, as its title indicates, a dog for its hero; whilst in The Hindoo Robber there are two dogs. Horses are introduced in more than one of Boucicault's dramas, and, as Percy Fitzgerald reminds us, Chilperic, in the opera, sings a song on horseback. In Claude Duval (Stephens and Solomon) the highwayman make his first appearance thus. Mazeppa, to the representative of which a horse is essential, is still seen at intervals; an elephant has played its part in Round the World; a donkey figured in La Cigale; sheep have been employed in comic opera; and the presence of live animals is, of course, frequent in pantomime. Birds have often appeared in plays, as in Tennyson's Falcon for example. For more anecdotes about animals on the stage, see Dutton Cook's Book of the Play (1876) and Percy Fitzgerald's The World Behind the Scenes (1881).


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