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leading facts of Scripture or church legend were told in Miracleplays. The leading doctrines were put into a dramatic form, as Mysteries ; due care being taken to provide fun for the crowd in such details as were furnished by the behaviour of devils, by disputes between Cain and his Man, by the interchange of abuse between Herod's soldiers and the angry mothers at the massacre of innocents, or by the avarice of Judas, who higgles with Caiaphas for the thirty pieces of silver and then gets them in base coin. No irreverence was intended; but nothing can prove more strongly how low and degraded men's conceptions of religion had become. Our earliest plays of the kind were performed in French or Latin, and the church was the theatre; but in this country the foreign tongue was soon laid aside, and town guilds, on behalf of the church, presented its series of animated Scripture pictures for instruction of the people on great festival days at the street corners, on convenient hills, and in the squares

of The pageants were exhibited upon carts constructed for the purpose, with floors to represent the place of the Pater Cælestis and of angels, that of the saints, and that of man. Hell mouth was in the corner of man's stage; and here burnt a fire, up and down which demons came. Payd for mending hell mought ijd,' says an old account; 'Item payd for kepyng of fyer at hell mothe, iiijd;' and, --cost of a grand stage effect, Payd for setting the world of fyer, vd.'

Scenes in heaven often included representatives of heavenly virtues, who became talkative in course of time, and mixed with actions

upon earth. Thus a way was made for a second form of entertainment, the Moralities, in which allegorical persons were employed upon the stage to make a moral lesson palatable to the people. But abstract morality needed enlivenment by actual example. Appius and Virginia served this purpose as well as David and Bathsheba. Stories from profane history found their way upon the platform; and as the living human interest won more upon the people than the allegorical machinery to which it was attached, increased stress came to be laid upon

the acts of men and women. Of this gradation no writer upon our English drama has pointed out the several steps so carefully as Mr. Collier, who cites as one of the last pieces written in English without mixture of history or fable, and consisting wholly of abstract personages, a drama by George Wapul, of which the single known copy is in the library of the Duke of Devonshire. It was printed only eight years before Shakespeare came to London. It is called “The Tide tarryeth no Man, and the principal persons introduced into it are Painted-profit, Nogood-neighbourhood, Wastefulness, Christianity, Correction,


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Courage, Feigned-furtherance, Greediness, Wantonness, and

, Authority-in-despair.

Authors as well as managers were furnished by the Church. The work which ranks as the first comedy (Udall's 'Ralph Roister Doister'), because it is the first known effort to present actual life and character, apart from Scriptural or allegorical machinery, came from the pen of a churchman. The · Gaimer Gurton's Needle' of Still, which was once supposed to have preceded it, though it is now known to have been written several years later, was also the production of a man who died a bishop. But a new feature here enters into the story of our drama. The revival of letters brought Latin authors into note and favour, and particular regard was paid to the comedies of Plautus and the tragedies of Seneca. Their reputation was still great at the close of the century, when we find Meres writing that “as Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for comedy and tragedy among the Latins, so Shakespeare among the English is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage.' 'Seneca,' says Polonius, 'cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light.' The first, or ecclesiastical chapter of the history of our drama leaves our lay comedy writers with the works of Plautus open at their elbows. Udall himself loved Terence, but the world read Plautus most.

A lay lord and a lawyer were the writers of Gorboduc,' the oldest extant tragedy; they wrote it when they were young men, one a student, the other a lounger in the Inner Temple, and it was produced scarcely five-and-twenty years before Shakespeare became associated with the London stage. We may accept,

if please, the fact, that Norton, one of the authors of Gorboduc,'

, was a fierce zealot in religion, as furnishing a point of contact between the end of the drama as a religious and the beginning of it as a social institution. Suddenly, however, and abruptly, it was separated from the church. Paul's boys continued to act; Latin stage-directions were still written, according to old priestly fashion; but the drama had fallen among lay wits, and ceased to be obedient to the clergy.

London was then a metropolis in which the drama could not fail to thrive. It can be developed only where men live in fellowship together; where every man is near the centre of a hundred great and small intrigues; where sins are blackest, virtues most conspicuous; where little is seen of sunsets and buttercups, but life is made up of the stir and dialogue of men, of clashing human interests and the incessant change of human hopes and fears; and where leisure is left to no man to brood for days over a single incident. No national drama has been formed among any people that had not a town Vol. 105.—No. 209.


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teeming with activity. No genuine dramatic poet has been bred in any land on country milk, or has found sufficient inspiration in the winds and clouds, the starlight, or the scent of new mown hay. At Stratford, and before coming to London, if the reasonable belief of the investigators of his life be just, Shakespeare wrote Venus and Adonis. Had he remained at Stratford, he would have produced more such poems, and become, most probably, a grand Elizabethan Wordsworth. But he would not, we suspect, have written plays. In Shakespeare's day the busiest European capitals were those of the two rival nations, Spain and England ; and the drama reached its culminating point at the same time in London and Madrid. Lope de Vega wrote some of his verse on board a ship in the great Spanish Armada, and celebrated the death of Sir Francis Drake in his Dragontea. There was but a difference of a year and a half between the ages of Lope de Vega and of Shakespeare; and Calderon followed upon one poet as Beaumont, Fletcher, or Massinger upon the other. Lope de Vega sent forth an absolute Armada of plays. In one of his own later works he rates their number at sixteen hundred, of which one hundred were produced in as many days. Montalvan says that he wrote upwards of twentyone millions of lines; but there is hardly one Elizabethan writer whose small fleet of half-a-dozen, or a dozen dramas, is not more than a fair match for the sixteen hundred pieces of the prolific Spaniard.

Not only was the depressing influence of Catholicism on Lope de Vega evident in a number of his religious plays, not less preposterous than the rudest of our ancient Mysteries, but the national character favoured a form of drama that was in its prime little more than a simple. drama of intrigue. Lope paid no more heed than Shakespeare to the unities of Aristotle; but neither did he regard probabilities of life, or bring well-defined charac

his scene. His kings and peasants are alike; his chief care is to invent a plot rich in the rapid sequence of events, commonly based on love and jealousy, among which he found no incidents more welcome to his audience than duels and disguises. This was the drama which afterwards, in the reign of Charles the Second, influenced, to its great hurt and shame, the stage of London. Had the Englishmen of Elizabeth's days loved the Spaniard as much as they hated him, they would yet never have used his playbook.

It was through the medium of pastoral eclogues that the Spaniards had drawn the business of their stage out of the church into the world. Ten of Virgil's eclogues, adapted to the flattery of patrons, six religious, and five secular pastorals, form


ters upon

the dramatic works of Enzina, the founder of the Spanish secular drama. Lope de Rueda, who died three years after Shakespeare's birth, and when Cervantes was a young man, shows from what rude material the Spanish, like the English, drama sprang into maturity. In his latter days he tells us that

The whole stock of a manager was contained in a large sack, and consisted of four white shepherd's jackets, turned up with leather, gilt or stamped; four beards and false sets of hanging locks, and four shepherd's crooks, more or less.


The plays were colloquies like eclogues between two or three shepherds and a shepherdess, fitted up and extended with two or three interludes, whose personages were sometimes a negress, sometimes a bully, sometimes a fool, and sometimes a Biscayan. The theatre was composed of four benches, arranged in a square, with five or six boards laid across them, that were thus raised about four palms from the ground. The furniture of the theatre was an old blanket drawn aside by two cords, making what they call a tiring-room, behind which were the musicians, who sang old ballads without a guitar.'

In one sense, the Spanish drama, or the Portuguese, which is its first-born, has been always very national, for it has reflected the self-importance of the people, and their own fancied superiority over all the rest of the world. Within the last hundred years a traveller has described an entertainment called "The Creation of the World,' presented on the stage at Lisbon. After the expulsion of Eve from the Garden of Eden, the Eternal Father came down in great wrath, called for Noah, and told him he was sorry to have created such a set of ungrateful scoundrels, and that he was resolved to drown them altogether. Here,' says the narrative, Noah interceded for them, and at last it was agreed that he should build an ark, and he was ordered to go to the king's dockyard in Lisbon, and there he would see John Gonsalvez, the master builder, for he preferred him to either the French or English builders. (This produced great applause.)? What must have been the ideas of Scripture history where such revolting profanity could be borne ?

Religious feuds and persecutions banished from Paris the free energies of life on which the drama thrives. It was not until Paris, under Louis Quatorze, made some approach to the condition of Madrid or London in Elizabethan days, that the French drama came to its maturity. When Shakespeare wrote in England, Hardy was the popular French play-wright. author of about six hundred pieces, which he sold for ten dollars apiece to the wandering comedians. The forgotten French Lope was not less fertile than the Spaniard. They said that he could


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write two thousand lines in four-and-twenty hours. Plays and players abounded, but there was then no fixed stage in the capital, and no concourse of wits at a Parisian Mermaid. This was true also of Italy, which had produced many plays for strolling players, and which dated forty or more years earlier than England her first regular tragedy, 'Sofonisba ;' but, for want of a brisk centre of wit, she still failed to achieve distinction in the drama.

Latest of all to flower was the German drama, which is accounted by its countrymen to have begun only with Lessing, and which certainly vanished with the setting of the literary stars of Weimar. Sixty years after Shakespeare's death money was spent in a German capital on the magnificent mounting of a temple for the Scripture Miracle play of Solomon; and when the play was done, an Englishman purchased the temple for two thousand five hundred pounds. Less than a century ago, Miracle plays were to be seen publicly acted at Bamberg and elsewhere, quite in the old fashion ; with the dropping of a veil half white, half black, to represent light parted from darkness; with real pigs, and dogs, and pigeons introduced to represent the creation of animals. The ancient stage direction used to be, "Introduce here as many and as strange animals as you can.' Even at this day, we believe, Miracle plays are represented by puppets in the cellars of Berlin, as they were represented in Steele's day under the piazzas of Covent Garden, when Powell promised 'his next opera of “Susannah, or Innocence Betrayed,” which will be exhibited next week with a pair of new Elders.'

Nevertheless there is a special interest for us in the misty beginnings of the German stage, for we see in it some of the light shed by our Elizabethan dramatists. The German drama had the usual church origin. In the oldest of their mummeries the taste for allegory was displayed. One of them, “Death Expelled,' represented at Easter time the fight between Summer and Winter, and closed with the conveyance through the streets, and final drowning in the river, of an idol made out of old rags, and carried in the midst of youth and song, and waving of green boughs and blossoms. There was the usual progress through mysteries and legends. In the year 1480 the nearest approach to a play was ' Frau Jutten,' written by a priest, who represented in it heaven and hell at war. For

many years after this date the German drama was but a half pious, half profane ingredient in Shrovetide follies. One disadvantage was the want of a capital. The nearest approach to a great centre of life and action, which contained a public free enough to follow its own humours, was Nuremberg; and it is in Nuremberg therefore that to say


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