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contain something of a fable or plot, and even atten delineate characters and manners. I have now befor two that were printed early in the reign of Henry VI which I think one may plainly discover the seeds of Tr... and Comedy; for which reason I shall give a short ani. of them both.

One of them is entitled Every Wan5. The subject o piece is the summoning of Man out of the world by D and its moral, that nothing will then avail him but a spent life and the comforts of religion. This subject moral are opened in a monologue spoken by the Messe (for that was the name generally given by our ancesto the prologue on their rude stage): then GoD6 is represent who, after some general complaints on the degeneracy mankind, calls for Deth, and orders him to bring before tribunal Every-man, for so is called the personage who presents the human race. Every-man appears, and recei the summons with all the marks of confusion and terr When Deth is withdrawn, Every-man applies for relief this distress to Fellowship, Kindred, Goods, or Riches, t they successively renounce and forsake him. In this d consolate state he betakes himself to Good-dedes, who, aft upbraiding him with his long neglect of her7, introduces hi to her sister Knowledge, and she leads him to the “holy mai Confession," who appoints him penance: this he inflicts upo himself on the stage, and then withdraws to receive th sacraments of the priest. On his return he begins to wa faint, and after Strength, Beauty, Discretion, and Five Wits have all taken their final leave of him, gradually expires on the stage; Good-dedes still accompanying him to the last. Then an Aungell descends to sing his requiem: and the

5 This play has been reprinted by Mr. Hawkins in his Origin of the English Drama, 3 vols. 12mo. Oxford, 1773. See vol. i. p. 27.

6 The second person of the Trinity seems to be meant.

7 Those above mentioned are male characters.

8 i. e. The five Senses. These are frequently exhibited as five distinct personages upon the Spanish stage (see Riccoboni, p. 98); but our moralist has represented them all by one character.

pilogue is spoke verson called Dele Mates the whore, and beavers the moral

This memoral zen may have in my ale

Ye terers, cake of worth old and vunge
And forsake me be dicevethane-d
Armenore Bease. Five Witts, Stør
Thay at last da Ever-man forsake
Sare the Good Dedes there dothe he take
Beware, for and they be mail,
Bebre not be bath no heipe at a

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upon the stage, and presently found by Frewyll, representing a lewd debauchee, who, with his dissolute companion Imaginacion, relate their manner of life, and not without humour describe the stews and other places of base resort. They are presently joined by Hick-scorner, who is drawn as a libertine returned from travel, and, agreeably to his name, scoffs at religion. These three are described as extremely vicious, who glory in every act of wickedness; at length two of them quarrel, and Pity endeavours to part the fray; on this they fall upon him, put him in the stocks, and there leave him. Pity, thus imprisoned, descants in a kind of lyric measure on the profligacy of the age, and in this situation he is found by Perseverance and Contemplacyon, who set him at liberty, and advise him to go in search of the delinquents. As soon as he is gone, Frewyll appears again; and, after relating in a very comic manner some of his rogueries and escapes from justice, is rebuked by the two holy men, who, after a long altercation, at length convert him and his libertine companion Imaginacion from their vicious course of life; and then the play ends with a few verses from Perseverance, by way of epilogue. This, and every Morality I have seen, conclude with a solemn prayer. They are all of them in rhyme; in a kind of loose stanza, intermixed with distichs.

It would be needless to point out the absurdities in the plan and conduct of the foregoing play; they are evidently great. It is sufficient to observe, that, bating the moral and religious reflection of Pity, &c. the piece is of a comic cast, and contains a humorous display of some of the vices of the age. Indeed the author has generally been so little attentive to the allegory, that we need only substitute other names to his personages, and we have real characters and living manners.

We see, then, that the writers of these moralities were upon the very threshold of real Tragedy and Comedy; and therefore we are not to wonder that tragedies and comedies in form soon after took place, especially as the revival of

learning about this time brought them acquainted with the Roman and Grecian models.

II. At what period of time the Moralities had their rise here, it is difficult to discover; but plays of Miracles appear to have been exhibited in England soon after the Conquest. Matthew Paris tells us, that Geoffrey, afterwards Abbot of St. Alban's, a Norman, who had been sent for over by Abbot Richard to take upon him the direction of the school of that monastery, coming too late, went to Dunstable, and taught in the abbey there; where he caused to be acted (probably by his scholars) a MIRACLE-PLAY OF ST. CATHARINE, Composed by himself1. This was long before the year 1119, and probably within the eleventh century. The above play of St. CATHARINE was, for aught that appears, the first spectacle of this sort that was exhibited in these kingdoms; and an eminent French writer thinks it was even the first attempt towards the revival of dramatic entertainments in all Europe; being long before the representations of Mysteries in France, for these did not begin till the year 13982.

But whether they derived their origin from the above exhibition or not, it is certain that holy plays, representing the miracles and sufferings of the Saints, appear to have been no novelty in the reign of Henry II., and a lighter sort of interludes were not then unknown3. In Chaucer's time,

1 Apud Dunestapliam.... quendam ludum de sancta Katerina (quem MIRACULA vulgariter appellamus) fecit. Ad quæ decoranda, petiit a sacrista sancti Albani, ut sibi Capa Chorales accommodarentur, et obtinuit. Et fuit ludus ille de sancta Katerina. Vitæ Abbat. ad fin Hist. Mat. Paris, folio, 1639, p. 56. We see here that Plays of Miracles were become common enough in the time of Mat. Paris, who flourished about 1240; but that indeed appears from the more early writings of Fitz-Stephens, quoted below.

2 Vide Abrégé Chron. de l'Hist. de France, par M. Henault, à l'ann. 1179. 3 See Fitz-Stephens's Description of London, preserved by Stow, Londonia pro spectaculis theatralibus, pro ludis scenicis, ludos habet sanctiores, representationes miraculorum, &c. He is thought to have written in the reign of Henry II., and to have died in that of Richard I. It is true at the end of this book we find mentioned Henricum regem tertium; but this is doubtless Henry the Second's son, who was crowned during the life of his father, in 1170, and is generally distinguished as Rex juvenis, Rex filius, and sometimes they were jointly named Reges Angliæ. From a passage in his Chap. De Religione,

"Plays of Miracles" in Lent were the common resort of idle gossips4. They do not appear to have been so prevalent on the continent, for the learned historian of the Council of Constance ascribes to the English the introduction of plays into Germany. He tells us that the emperor, having been absent from the council for some time, was, at his return, received with great rejoicings; and that the English Fathers in particular did, upon that occasion, cause a sacred comedy to be acted before him on Sunday, January 31st, 1417; the subjects of which were: THE NATIVITY OF OUR SAVIOUR; THE ARRIVAL OF THE EASTERN MAGI; and THE MASSACRE BY HEROD. Thence it appears, says this writer, that the Germans are obliged to the English for the invention of this sort of spectacles, unknown to them before that period.

The fondness of our ancestors for dramatic exhibitions of this kind, and some curious particulars relating to this subject, will appear from the HOUSHOLD-BOOK of the fifth Earl of Northumberland, A. D. 15126, whence I shall select a few extracts, which show that the exhibiting Scripture Dramas on the great festivals entered into the regular establishment, and formed part of the domestic regulations of our ancient nobility: and, what is more remarkable, that it was as much the business of the Chaplain in those days to compose PLAYS for the family, as it is now for him to make sermons.

"My Lordes Chapleyns in Household vj. viz. The Almonar, and if he be a maker of INTERLUDYS, than he to have a servaunt to the intent for writynge of the Parts; and ells to have non. The maister of Gramer," &c. Sect. v. p. 44. "Item. - My lorde usith and accustomyth to gyf yerely,

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it should seem that the body of St. Thomas à Becket was just then a new acquisition to the church of Canterbury.

4 See Prologue to Wife of Bath's Tale, v. 6137, Tyrwhitt's ed.

5 M. L'Enfant. Vide Hist. du Conc. de Constance, vol. ii. p. 440.

6 "The regulations and establishments of the household of Hen. Alg. Percy, 5th Earl of Northumb. Lond. 1770," 8vo. Whereof a small impression was printed by order of the late Duke and Duchess of Northumberland to bestow in presents to their friends. Although begun in 1512, some of the regulations were composed so late as 1525.

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