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serve as many of these as could be recovered, and that they might be the more easily found, to exhibit them in one collective view. This Second Book is therefore set apart for the reception of such ballads as are quoted by SHAKESPEARE, or contribute in any degree to illustrate his writings: this being the principal point in view, the candid reader will pardon the admission of some pieces, that have no other kind of merit.
The design of this BOOK being of a Dramatic tendency, it may not be improperly introduced with a few observations ON THE ORIGIN OF THE ENGLISH STAGE, and on THE CONDUCT OF OUR FIRST DRAMATIC POETS: 2. fubject, which though not unsuccessfully handled by several good writers already *, will yet perhaps admit of some further illuftration.
THE ORIGIN OF THE ENGLISH STAGE,
It is well known that dramatic poetry in this and most other nations of Europe owes its origin, or at least its revival, to those religious shows, which in the dark ages were usually exhibited on the more folemn festivals. At those times they were wont to represent in the churches the lives and miracles of the faints, or some of the more important itories of scripture. And as the most mysterious subjeets were frequently chofen, such as the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Chrift, &c. these exhibitions acquired the general name of MYSTERIES, At first they were probably a kind of dumb fhews, intermingled, it may be, with a few short speeches ; at length they grew into a regular series of connected dialogues, formally divided into acts and scenes. Specimens of these in their most im
* Bp. I'arburtor's Shakesp. vol. 5. p. 338.--Pref. rDorfley's Old Plays
Riccoboni's Acct. of Tbeat. of Europe, &c. &c.
proved state (being at best but poor artless compo fitions) may be seen among Dodfley's Old Plays and in Osborne's HARLEYAN Miscel. How they were exhibited in their most simple form, we may learn from an ancient novel (often quoted by our old dramatic poets (a)) intitled
a merge Heft of a man that was called Howleglas (6) &c. being a translation from the Dutch language, in which he is named Ulenspiegle. Howleglas, whose waggifh tricks are the subject of this book, after many adventures comes to live with a priest, who makes him his parish-clark. This priest is defcribed as keeping a LEMAN or concubine, who had but one eye, to whom Howleglas owed a grudge for revealing his rogueries to his mafter. The story thus proceeds, “ And than in the meane season, “ while Howleglas was parysh clarke, at Eafter they “ should play the resurrection of our lorde : and for “ because than the men wer not learned, nor could
not read, the priest-toke his leman, and put her in “ the grave for an Aungell : and this feing Howleglas, “ toke to hym iij of the symplest persons that were in " the towne, that played the iij Maries ; and the Per“ fon [i. e. Parson or Rector] played Chrifte, with a “ baner in his hand. Than faide Howleglas to the “ fymple persons. Whan the Aungel alketh you, “ whome you seke, you may saye, The parsons leían “ with one iye. Than it fortuned that the tyme was
come that they must playe, and the Aungel aked “ them whom they fought, and than fayd they, as
Howleglas had shewed and lerned them afore, and “ than answered they, We seke the prieits leman with
one iye. And than the prieste might heare that he was mocked. And whan the priestes leman herd
(a) See Ben Jonson's Poetaster, Act 3.
4. and his Masque of the Fortunate Isles. Whalley's Edit. vol. 2. p. 49, vol. 6. p. 190.
(b) Howleglass is said in the Preface to have died in M.cccc, d, At the end of the book, in M.ccc. L.
“ that, she arose out of the grave, and would have
smyten with her fift Howleglas upon the cheke, but " the missed him and smote one of the simple persons “ that played one of the thre Maries; and he gave “ her another; and than toke se him by the heare
[hair] ; and that seing his wyfe, came running halrely to smite the priestes leaman; and than the priest seeing this, cafte down hys baner and went to
helpe his woman, so that the one gave the other “ fore strokes, and made great noyse in the churche. “ And than Howleglas seyng them lyinge together by “ the eares in the bodi of the churche, went his way
out of the village, and came no more there (c).”?
As the old Mysteries frequently required the reprefentation of some allegorical personage, such as Death, Sin, Charity, Faith, and the like, by degrees the rude poets of those unlettered ages began to form compleat dramatic pieces consisting intirely of such personifications. These they intitled MORAL PLAYS, or Mo
The Myiteries were very inartificial, representing the scripture stories fimply according to the letter. But the Mcralities are not devoid of invention; they exhibit outlines of the dramatic art: they contain something of a fable or plot, and even attempt to delineate characters and manners. I have now before me two that were printed early in the reign of Henry VIII; in which I think one may plainly discover the seeds of Tragedy and Comedy; for which reason I fhal! give a short analysis of them both.
One of them is intitled Every man (d). The subject of this piece is the summoning of man out of the world by death; and its moral, that nothing will then avail him but a well-spent life and the comforts of religion. This subject and moral are opened in a mo
(c). Impronted ... bp Wyllpam Copland: without date, in 410. bl. let. a:nong Mr. Garrick's Old Plays, K. vol. 10.
(d) See a farther account of this play in Vol. II. Book II. page 112.
nologue spoken by the Messenger (for that was the name generally given by our ancestors to the prologue on their rude stage:) then God (e) is represented; who, after some general complaints on the degeneracy of mankind, calls for Deth, and orders him to bring before his tribunal EVERY-MAN, for fo is called the personage who represents the human race. EVERYMAN appears, and receives the summons with all the marks of confusion and terror. When death is withdrawn, Every-man applies for relief in this distress to FELLOWSHIP, Kindred, Goods, or Riches, but they successively renounce and forsake him. In this disconsolate state he betakes himself to GOOD-DEDES, who, after upbraiding him with his long neglect of her (), introduces him to her sister KNOWLEDGE,, and the leads him to the “ holy man Confession,” who appoints him penance: this he inflicts
upon himself on the stage, and then withdraws to receive the facraments of the priest. On his return he begins to wax faint, and after STRENGTH, Beauty, Discretion, and Five Wits (g) 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 fing his requiem : and the epilogue is spoken by a person, called Doctour, who recapitulates the whole, and delivers the moral,
« . This memoriall men may have in mynde, “ Ye herers, take it of worth old and yonge, * And forsake pryde, for he disceyveth you in thende, " And remembre Beautè, Five Witts, Strength and " They all at last do Every-man forsake ; [Discrecion, " Save his Good Dedes there dothe he take : Vol. I.
(e) The second person of the Trinity seems to be meant. (f) Those above-mentioned are male characters.
(g) i.e. the Five Senses. These are frequently exhibited as five distinct personages upon the Spanish stage; (fee Riccoboni, p. 98.) but our moralift bas represented them all by one character.
“ But beware, for and they be small,
From this short analysis it may be observed, that Everp man is a grave solemn piece, not without fome rude attempts to excite terror and pity, and therefore may not improperly be referred to the class of tragedy. It is remarkable that in this old simple drama the fable is conducted upon the strictest model of the Greek tragedy. The ačtion is simply one, the time of action is that of the performance, the scene is never changed, nor the stage ever empty. EVERY-MAN, the hero of the piece, a!ter his first appearance never withdraws, except when he goes out to receive the sacraments, which could not well be exhibited in public; and during his absence KNOWLEDGE defcants on the excellence and power of the priesthood, fomewhat after the manner of the Greek chorus. And indeed,
except in the circumstance of Every-man's expiring on the stage, the Sampfon Agonistes of Milton is hardly formed on a feverer plan.
The other play is intitled Nick-Scorner (b), and bears no diftant resemblance to comedy: its chief aim seems to be to exhibic characters and manners, its plot being much less regular than the foregoing. The prologue is spoken by Pity represented under the character of an aged pilgrim, he is joined by CONTEMPLACYON and PersevERANCE, two holy men, who, after lamenting the degeneracy of the age, declare their resolution of ftemming the torrent. Pity then is left upon the stage, and presently found by FREWYLL, representing a lewd debauchee, who, with his diffolute 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
(b) Empronted bp me Wynkpn de Worde, no date; in 4to. bh Let.