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asked, “ But was the Devil a proper man ?” Gossip Mirth replies, “ As fine a gentleman of his inches as ever I saw trusted to the stage or anywhere else ; and loved the commonwealth as well as ever a patriot of them all : he would carry away the Vice on his back, quick, to Hell, wherever he came, and reform abuses.” Again, at the end of the second Act, the question being put, “How like you the Vice in the play?” Widow Tattle complains, “ But here is never a fiend to carry him away. Besides, he has never a wooden dagger! I would not give a rush for a Vice that has not a wooden dagger, to snap at everybody he meets." Whereupon Mirth observes, “That was the old way, gossip, when Iniquity came in, like Hocus Pocus, in a juggler's jerkin, with false skirts, like the knave of clubs.” *

The most ancient specimen of a Moral-Play known to have survived dates as far back as the reign of Henry VI., which closed in 1461. It is entitled The Castle of Perseverance, and is opened by Mundus, Belial, and Caro descanting on their several gifts : Humanum Genus, who represents mankind, then announces himself, just born, and naked; while he is speaking Good Angel and Bad Angel appear on his right and left, each claiming him as a follower. He prefers Bad Angel, who leads him straight to Mundus; the latter orders his friends Voluptas and Stultitia to take him in hand. Detractio, who calls himself Backbiter, is also made one of his train, and procures him the acquaintance of Avaritia, by whom he is introduced to the other Deadly Sins : not long after, he meets with Luxuria, and falls in love with her. At all this Bad Angel exults, but Good Angel mourns, and sends Confessio to Humanum Genus, who repels him at first, as having come too soon. However, Confessio at last reclaims him; he asks where he can live in safety, and is told, in the Castle of Perseverance: so, thither he goes, being at that time “forty Winters old.” The Seven Cardinal Virtues there wait upon him with their respective counsels. Belial, after having beaten the Seven Deadly Sins for letting him escape, heads them in laying siege to the Castle; but he appeals to “ the Duke that died on rood” to defend him, and the assailants retire discomfited, being beaten “ black and blue” by the roses which Charity and Patience hurl against them. As he is now grown

* Shakespeare has several allusions to this old stage custom. See the author's Harvard Edition of Shakespeare, vol. v. page 222, note 17; also, vol ix. pages 202, 203, notes 8 and 9.

“ hoary and cold,” Avaritia worms in under the walls, and induces him to quit the Castle.

No sooner has he got well skilled in the lore of Avaritia, than Garcio, who stands for the rising generation, demands all his wealth, alleging that Mundus has given it to him. Presently Mors comes in for his turn, and makes a speech extolling his own power; Anima also hastens to the spot, and invokes the aid of Misericordia : notwithstanding, Bad Angel shoulders the hero, and sets off with him for the infernal regions. Then follows a discussion in Heaven, Mercy and Peace pleading for the hero, Verity and Justice against him: God sends for his soul; Peace takes it from Bad Angel, who is driven off to Hell; Merey presents it to Heaven; and “the Father sitting in judgment "pronounces sentence, which unfolds the moral of the performance.

This analysis shows that the piece partakes somewhat the character of a Miracle-Play. A list of the persons is given at the end; also a rude sketch of the scene, showing a castle in the centre, with five scaffolds for Deus, Belial, Mundus, Caro, and Avaritia. Bad Angel is the Devil of the performance: there is no personage answering to the Vice.

The next piece to be noticed bears the title of Mind, Will, and Understanding. It is opened by Wisdom, who represents the Second Person of the Trinity ; Anima soon joins him, and they converse upon heavenly love, the seven sacraments, the five senses, and reason. Mind, Will, and Understanding then describe their several qualities; the Five Wits, attired as virgins, go out singing ; Lucifer enters “in a Devil's array without, and within as proud as a gallant,” that is, with a gallant's dress under his proper garb;

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relates the creation of Man, describing Mind, Will, and Understanding as the three properties of the soul, which he means to assail and corrupt. He then goes out, and presently returns, succeeds in the attempt, and makes an exulting speech, at the close of which “ he taketh a shrewd boy with him, and goeth his way crying”; probably snatching up a boy from the audience, - an incident designed to “ bring down the house." Lucifer having gone out, his three victims appear in gay apparel; they dismiss Conscience; Will dedicates himself to lust; all join in a song, and then proceed to have a dance. First, Mind calls in his

a followers, Indignation, Sturdiness, Malice, Hastiness, Wreck, and Discord. Next, Understanding summons his adherents, Wrong, Slight, Doubleness, Falseness, Ravin, and Deceit. Then come the servants of Will, named Recklessness, Idleness, Surfeit, Greediness, Spouse-breach, and Fornication. The minstrels striking up a hornpipe, they all dance together till a quarrel breaks out among them, when the eighteen servants are driven off, their masters remaining alone on the stage. Just as these are about to withdraw for a carouse, Wisdom enters : Anima also reappears, “ in most horrible wise, fouler than a fiend,” and presently gives birth to six of the Deadly Sins; whereupon she perceives what a transformation has befallen her, and Mind, Will, and Understanding learn that they are the cause of it. They having retired, Wisdom opens his mouth in a long speech; after which the three dupes of Lucifer return, renounce their evil ways, and Anima is made happy in their reformation.

These two pieces have come down to us only in manuscript. A Goodly Interlude of Nature is a Moral-Play written by Henry Medwall, chaplain to Archbishop Morton, which has descended to us in print. It is in two parts, and at the end of the first part we learn that it was played before Morton himself, who became Primate in 1486, and died in 1500. Like the two foregoing specimens, it was meant to illustrate the strife of good and evil in man.

There are several other pieces in print dating from about the same period. One of them, printed in 1522, and entitled The World and the Child, represents man in the five stages of infancy, — boyhood, youth, maturity, and infirmity. Another of them, called Hick Scorner, deserves mention chiefly as being perhaps the earliest specimen of a Moral-Play in which some attempt is made at individual character. The piece is somewhat remarkable, also, in having been such a popular favourite, that the phrase “ Hick Scorner's jests” grew into use as a proverb, to signify the profane scurrility with which certain persons treated the Scriptures in the reign of Elizabeth.

The Necromancer, written by Master Skelton, Laureate,” came from the press in 1504, having been played before the King at Woodstock on Palm Snnday. The piece is now lost; but a copy was seen by Warton, who gave an account of it. As the matter is very curious, I must add a few of its points. The persons are a Conjurer, the Devil, a Notary Public, Simony, and Avarice. The plot is the trial of Simony and Avarice, the Devil being the judge, and the Notary serving as assessor. The Conjurer has little to do but open the subject, evoke the Devil, and summon the court. The prisoners are found guilty, and ordered off straight to Hell : the Devil kicks the Conjurer for waking him too early in the morning; and Simony tries to bribe the Devil, who rejects her offer with indignation. The last scene presents a view of Hell, and a dance between the Devil and the Conjurer; at the close of which the former trips up his partner's heels, and disappears in fire and smoke.

Another piece of Skelton's entitled Magnificence, and designed to expose the vanity of worldly grandeur, has survived in print. Magnificence, the hero, being eaten out of substance by his friends and retainers, falls into the hands of Poverty and Adversity: in this state he meets with Despair and Mischief, who furnish him with a knife and halter; he is about killing himself, when Good-hope steps in and stays his arm; Redress, Circumspection, and Perseverance then take him in hand, and wean him from his former passion. The most note-worthy feature of the thing is, that comic incident and dialogue are somewhat made use of, to diversify and enliven the serious parts; which shows the early disposition to weave tragedy and comedy together in one dramatic web.

The play of Every-man, printed some time before 1531, opens with a soliloquy by the Deity, lamenting that the people forsake Him for the Seven Deadly Sins. He then summons Death, and sends him after Every-man, who stands for the human race. Death finds him, delivers the message, and tells him to bring his account-book; but allows him to prove his friends. First, he tries Fellowship, .who, though ready to murder any one for his sake, declines going with him on his long journey. Next, he tries Kindred, who excuses himself as having “the cramp in his toe.” Then he applies to Riches, who also gives him the cold shoulder. At last he resorts to Good-deeds, whom he finds too weak to stand; but she points him to the blank in his book of works. However, she introduces him to Knowledge, who takes him to Confession: there he meets with Strength, Discretion, Beauty, and Five Wits, who undertake to go with him. Arriving at the brink of the grave, he calls on his friends to enter it with him. First, Beauty refuses, then Strength, then Discretion, then Five Wits; even Knowledge deserts him ; Good-deeds alone having the virtue to stick by him.

Considering the ecclesiastical origin of the English Drama, it had been something wonderful if, when controversies arose, different sides had not used it in furtherance of their views. In the reign of Henry the Eighth, Bishop Bale, as we have seen, wrote Miracle-Plays for the avowed purpose of advancing the Reformation ; and his plays were printed on the Continent in 1538. This, no doubt, was because a royal proclamation had been set forth some years before, forbidding any plays to be performed, or any books

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