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with me was soaked. But this was often occur when the ice breaks up, not the worst. At a spot where the but there is little to be dreaded from rising river had broken the ice either man or beast. I drove two away from the shore one of the thousand miles alone through the horses nearly perished. Making a wildest parts of Russia in the height false step, it slipped into a gaping of the famine and the depth of crevice, but by a miracle the animal winter. I carried no revolver or struggled out of the water before other arm of defence of any kind. either the driver or myself had There were only two occasions time to realize the gravity of the when, had I been armed, I might accident. It is due to a much- have been led to use any weapon in abused country to say that
my possession; but, in either of dangers of travelling in Russia are these cases, I feel certain that regreatly exaggerated. Storms are course to fire-arms would have cost always to be feared, and accidents
me my life.
“UNTO THE DESIRED HAVEN.”
BY AMY PARKINSON.
The night drew on apace; a wild, dark night,
The night grew more
0 Thou, the Star
And, when Thou drawest nigh,
Swift shall my boat's keel touch the longed-for Land.
The mysteries and miracle plays of our forefathers and of the condi. of the Middle Ages present a rich tion of mediaval society. They exmine of poetical material for the hibit the conceptions of religious modern explorer. His labour will truth then entertained, and the mode be rewarded by not a few nuggets of its communication to the people. of virgin gold, although he may They contain also the germ of that have to sift a large quantity of noble dramatic literature which so worthless ore to find them. The wonderfully blossomed forth during gems of thought he may discover the Elizabethan era in the writings are in the rough, it is true, unpol- of Shakespeare and his contemporished and unwrought, yet they are aries. Their origin is somewhat often precious gems notwithstanding. obscure. According to Voltaire they These plays are interesting as giv- first came from Constantinople, where ing vivid illustrations of the manners the Greek drama was Christianized in the fourth century. They were the appropriate season of Christmas, probably brought thence by return- Good Friday, or Easter, was easily ing palmers and pilgrims during understood and vividly rememthe Crusades. In France, indeed, bered.* But these sacred representhere was an order of pilgrims tations soon became subject to abuse. called the Confraternity of the Pas- Droll characters, comic scenes, and sion, from their representation of ridiculous speeches were introduced that subject. In England these re- in order to excite mirth; and a ligious plays seem to have been first flippant and irreverent treatment of exbibited at the universities, and the most sublime themes became a were written in Latin. The monk. prevailing vice. Many of the cleri. ish influence is very strongly mark. cal performers degraded themselves ed on every page. They were after- to the level of buffoons, and the ward written in the common tongue, miracle plays, originally intended both in France and England, and to communicate religious instruction, are among the earliest relics of the frequently degenerated into broad vernacular literature of those coun- and indecent farce. The lower tries.
clergy adopted this vehicle for the This carly drama is of three sorts : abuse of their superiors, and the the mysteries, the miracle plays, and rude populace found in them both the moralities. The first represented subjects for burlesque and caricature. the principal subjects of the Chris. Thus the most sacred associations of tian faith, as the fall of man and religion became degraded into obthe nativity, passion, and resurrec- jects of vulgar mirth. The language tion of Christ. The second exhib- of even the female charactersited the miracles of the saints and generally represented by boys, howtheir astounding adventures. The ever-was frequently exceedingly third were, properly speaking, pure- coarse, and gives us a low opinion ly allegorical representations of of the manners of the age. The vices and virtues. They sometimes devils, or “tormentours," as they set forth the parables of the New were called, were the clowns of the Testament and the historical parts play, and caused infinite merriment of the Old; then, however, they by their rude jokes and buffoonery. became indistinguishable from the The stage was divided into three mysteries. The voluminous relig- parts, to represent heaven, earth, ious plays of Calderon and Lope de and hell; and very intricate and Vega partake largely of the alle ingenious machinery was often em. gorical character of the moralities. ployed to produce theatrical effects.
In the thirteenth and fourteenth These stages were frequently on centuries these plays were performed wheels, so that they might be drawn in the churches for the instruction about. The gross ideas of the age of the people; but the monks, find.
A passion play is still represented every ing that the exhibitions of the jug ten years at Oberammergau, in Bavaria, in glers at the Easter revels drew the fulfilment of a vow made on the cessation of populace away from the churches, a pestilence in A.D. 1633. As many as five gave their plays a more attractive
hundred peasant performers take part, and
the spectacle is witnessed by thousands of character and performed them in visitors from all parts of Bavaria and Tyrol the open air. Reading was an art and from more distant places. The rehearsal confined, of course, entirely to the
lasts several days and, like the Greek clergy, and the ignorant masses
drama, is performed in the open air. It
partakes of a highly religious character, and could only vaguely comprehend the the representatives of sacred persons are dull homilies they heard; but the
selected for their piety of life and are set public representation of the nativity, apart by prayer. Similar plays, but of in
ferior merit, are also performed in the vil. the passion, or the resurrection, at lages around Innspruck.
concerning the material torments of skies. They shrank not from ex. the damned were faithfully delin- ploring with unfaltering step the eated. The monks, doubtless, thought regions of the damned, and depicted a very salutary lesson was incul- with Dantean vigour and minutecated when a man who refused to ness the tortures of the lost. They pay bis tithes or a woman who adul- pierced the mysteries of the future terated her ale or sold too scanty and revealed the awful scenes of the measure was dragged off forcibly to last judgment and the final consumhell-mouth, from which belched fire mation of all things. In recording and smoke. The devils wore flame- in his lofty numbers the story of the coloured and grotesque clothing and fall of man and loss of paradise, how carried clubs of buckram stuffed far soever he may have surpassed with sawdust, with which they vig. his predecessors, the sightless bard orously belaboured each other and of English poesy, whose inner vision the crowd. In one play Satan and seemed more clear for that the outer a "nigromancer" dance, when the ray was quenched forever, could latter is suddenly tripped up and hardly be said to have pursued carried off bodily. Yet the sign of the cross or the invocation of the
Things unattempted yet, in prose or rhyme. Virgin or the saints immediately For not only in the miracle plays discomfits them; and of holy water and mysteries, but also in the still they have a mortal terror. In the older legendary poem of Cædmon, “ Nativity Play” they roar horribly the Saxon monk, is the same story when Christ is born and make a related with wondrous vigour and great noise under the stage. The sublimity. various parts, originally performed The literary execution of these by monks, came, in course of time, plays, as might be expected, is very to be enacted by companies of citi- imperfect. The most absurd anachzens. Different crafts and guilds ronisms and solecisms perpetually vied with each other in the repre- occur. The Old Testament char. sentation of the plays allotted them. acters repeatedly swear—a habit to The rivalry between the worshipful which they are generally addictedtanners, chandlers, vinters, mercers, by "Sanct Peter and Sanct Poule,” bowyers, skinners, and weavers was by “Mahoun and the Sy bill." Titles keen and exciting *
are strangely modernized. The When we consider how humble “ knights" who crucify our Lord were the talents employed, the ma- speak of “Sir Pylate” and “Bishop jestic sweep and the sublime com- Caiaphas." The devils talk of Sir pass of these plays astonish us. They Satan” and “Lord Lucifer." The comprehend the entire drama of interlocutors in the play quote from time, from the creation of the world “Gregory," "Austyne," and "Sir to the day of doom. Nay, the
Nay, the Goldenmouth.” The geography is daring imagination of the monkish inextricably confused. The local writers went back beyond the dawn topography of England is transferof time to the counsels of eternity red to the fields of Palestine; and and, scaling the battlements of
battlements of London and Paris are familiarly heaven, laid bare the secrets of the referred to by the shepherds of
Bethlehem. * In the book of accounts of these plays
The awful scenes of the passion some strange charges are recorded; for example, "Item payed for mending hell.
are most painfully realized, and are mouth. ij d. ; for keeping fire at ditto, iiijd. ; delineated with all the force and for settying the world on fire, j d. ; ij worms breadth of Rubens' sublime painting. of conscience, iij s. ; whyte or saved sowles, and ij blake or dampnyed sowles, v s. ; barylí
The ribaldry and scurrile jests of for ye earthquakes, ij s. ;" etc.
the rude soldiery throw into stronger contrast the dread terrors of the parallel can be drawn between the scene. The monkish authors do petty conflict around the walls of not scruple to heighten the dramatic Troy, or the wanderings of Ulysses, interest by the introduction of leg- or the building of a Latin town, and endary stories, often absurdly, the fall of man, the redemption of sometimes with wonderfully pictur- the world, and the Judgment Day? esque effect. English and Latin are What terror of Æschylus or Sophostrangely intermingled, according cles can shake the soul like the to the necessities of the rhyme or record of the drowning of the world rhythm.
by water or the vision of its deThe writers manifest a sublime struction by fire? What pathos of disdain of the servile rules of syntax Euripides can melt the heart like and prosody, and each spells as the tender story of the nativity or seems right in his own eyes. The the awful tragedy of the cross ? The same word will occur in two or ignorant populace of a petty burgh three different forms on the same and the boorish inhabitants of the page. The rhymes are frequently surrounding country, in that ultiso execrable that in some manu- mate dim Thule of the West, where scripts and printed copies brackets such plays were enacted, had brought are used to indicate the rhyming before their minds, and doubtless couplets. This was, of course, the often deeply impressed upon their very childhood of dramatic art, and hearts, holier lessons and sublimer it was therefore extremely infantile truths than Plato wrote or Pindar in its expression; it nevertheless sung, or than were ever taught by gave token, like the infant Hercules, sage or seer in Stoa of the temples of a power of grappling with diffi- or grove of the Academy. culties which was an augury of the And these were no mere poet's glorious strength it was afterward fancies. They were solemn realities to manifest.
and eternal verities to their unletWith majestic sweep of thought tered hearers. The Judgment Day, the drama of the ages is enacted in whose terrors they beheld portrayed, these plays. All the converging they believed to be at hand—at the lines of providence and prophecy very door. Through the purifying centre in the cross of Christ; and flames they felt that they themselves from it streams the light that ir. must pass, till the foul crimes done radiates the endless vista of the in their “days of nature,” were future. Heaven itself seems open, “burned and purged away." Though and the vision of the great white there may have been little in this throne and the procession of the homely drama to refine the manners palm-crowned, white-robed multi- or to cultivate the taste, there was tudes pass before us. We hear the much to elevate and strengthen the “sevenfold chorus of hallelujahs and character and to project the acts of harping symphonies,” the choiring every day upon the solemn backof the cherubim and seraphim, and ground of eternity. To such Christhe song of the redeemed in the tian teachings as these do we owe presence of God. Anon the scene is the grave and God-fearing Anglodarkened by the shades of endless Saxon manhood of the heroic past. gloom, is lurid with the glare of The outcome of such sacred influences quenchless fire, and awful with the may be seen in every great work of ceaseless wailing of the lost.
our literature, in every noble act of Compared with these lofty themes our history-in “Hamlet,” “ Lear," the sublimest tragedies of Greece or “Macbeth ";
“ Macbeth "; in Milton, Bunyan, Rome and their noblest epics pale Burns; in Cromwell and Hampden, into “ faded splendour wan.” What in Sydney and Vane; in the deeds