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and more enabled to secure and maintain their personal interests. As the work of education advanced and the Reformation drew on, priestly tyranny abated as popular opinion prevailed, and every separate order of society well understood its legitimate sphere and function. It was in strict coincidence with the waning power of an exclusive Catholicism and the rising of a liberal Protestant faith, that Mysteries in the hands of a few gave way to Moralities in the hands of the many. Fleshand-blood humanity appeared on the stage in the place of angels and the canonized martyrs of the church, while the times of the patriarchs and the marvelous narratives of biblical history were superseded by a matter-of-fact exhibition of English character and habit. As Scott correctly phrases it: "Nowhere is the history of the revolution which transformed the England of Mediævalism into the England of the Renaissance written more legibly than in these plays," such as, "The Castle of Perseverance" and "The Conflict of Conscience," in their contrasted teachings. Allegorical and abstract as the method was, the natural and practical had thrust aside the supernatural and the theoretical, and the devil alone was common to both periods. "The moral plays," says Collier,
were enabled to keep possession of the stage as long as they did, partly, by means of their approaches to an improved species of composition, and, partly, because under the form of allegorical fiction, the writers touched upon public events, popular prejudices and temporary opinions." It is on the ground of this double excellence of a distinct dramatic element and an adaptation to varying popular needs that we find these old Moralities upon the English boards in the days of Elizabeth and thus observe the historical connection fitly sustained between the earlier and the later drama.
3. Interludes and Chronicle Plays. This was a transitional form, partaking of the features of each of the other forms, and was presented as a kind of middle play and on independent occasions of public interest. The history of the English drama from this early period until after the coronation of Elizabeth is full of literary and general interest. With Henry VIII. and his scholarly court, the Interlude was the favorite form of scenic representation, and John Heywood, the epigrammatist, was the literary idol of the royal circle. It was a time of unwonted agitation in church and in state, in literature and public senti
ment, and hence the various movements of the time were reflected in the drama of the time. The Interludes assumed at once a political cast and were also made both by Romanists and Protestants the media of their respective religious views. The Miracle Plays, abandoned by the reforming Edward as savoring of Romish bigotry, were reinstated in original splendor by papal Mary, and the passion of Christ was again before the English public on the very borders of the modern drama. Henry VIII. sat with manifest relish as a spectator of the caricature of Martin Luther and the Reformers, while Edward VI. hastened to repeal the statutes of his father forbidding Interludes directed against the Church of Rome. This anomalous state of things was repeated when the edicts of Bloody Mary concerning the drama were speedily revoked by order of Queen Elizabeth. Bishop Bale, a writer of Interludes on behalf of Protestantism, hastened from the court of the treacherous Henry to await the induction of Edward, and from the court of the desperate Mary to await the crowning of the Maiden Queen. Merrie Heywood, the writer of comic dialogues in favor of Romanism, prudently withdrew from the court of Henry's successor. When Mary came to the
throne, the judicious playwright reappeared, to retire with similar promptness at the accession of her nobler and more liberal sister. It was thus that civil and ecclesiastical history repeated itself, as the comic dialogue, in the hands of Bale and Heywood and less renowned composers was made the medium of the most vital discussions in politics and religion. It is significant here to note that, in the Chronicle Play, such as Bale's "King John," the most pronounced abstractions were converted into real personages, and the Historical Plays of Elizabeth's time thus anticipated. With the Mysteries and Moralities still in vogue and their combination suggestively seen in the form of the Interlude, the gradational development of our dramatic history may be seen from its modest beginnings in the Miracles of Hilarius on to the far greater miracles of Shakespearean art.
The historical sketch already given of the Antecedents of the English Drama would be scarcely complete apart from a brief account of the first examples of the modern drama for which all that preceded was the natural preparation. The theory advocated of late, that the Elizabethan and later. drama is altogether traceable to the Italian drama of the Renaissance, and has no dependent relation.
to any preceding dramatic forms in England, is but partially admissible. To deny such dependence is as unnatural as it is unhistorical. In the examination of our first tragedy and first comedy, we stand at the very opening of the new dramatic era and can look "before and after."
As late as the middle of the sixteenth century, we find that there was much confusion of view as to the tragic and comic divisions of the drama, so that it was quite impossible to state from the mere title of a play to which of these departments it really belonged. Even in the last quarter of this same century, we hear a writer speaking of "a pleasant tragedy" and of "a pitiful comedy," while in France and Spain and throughout the Continent the distinctions now existing were quite reversed. The most sacred portions of biblical history were classed under the comic order. The great standard poem of Italy's greatest poet was styled the "Divina Commedia," despite its description of hell, purgatory, and heaven. In fact the Dantean definition of comedy is given us as that which begins in sadness and ends in happiness, its happy ending, as it was argued, entitling it to the name of "comedy." Of comedy as conceived by the modern dramatist, there was thus little, and