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GERMANY, PRESENT AND PAST.

CHAPTER XI.

THE STAGE.

God be with you, good people, go and act your play; and if there be anything in which I may be of service to you, command me, for I will do it readily; having been from my youth a great admirer of masques and theatrical representations.— Don Quixote.

"On April 26, in the year 1322,' says Johann Rothe in his “Thuringian Chronicle,' after Easter there was performed at Eisenach a dramatic representation of the “Ten Virgins," five of whom were wise, and five foolish, according to the Gospel, as preached by Christ. And the Landgrave Frederick was present, and saw and heard how the five foolish virgins were cast out of eternal life, and how Mary and all the saints interceded for them in vain. Then he fell into great doubt, and was very wroth, and exclaimed: “What profit is there in the Christian faith if God will show no pity at the prayer of Mary and the saints ?” And he went to the Wartburg, and was wroth five days, and the learned could hardly appease him and make him understand the purport of the Gospel. And then he had a stroke, brought on by the great distress he was in, and he lay sick of it three

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years in bed.

And then he died, at the age of fiftyfive.'

It is significant that the first historic notice of a dramatic performance in Germany should also illustrate the strong impression it produced upon a German mind.

In his Confessions' Saint Augustine bewails the hold the stage had on his affections in his unregenerate days. The heathen stage certainly deserved the censure of the early Fathers as dangerous to morals. Under the condemnation of the Church, without the imperial court at Rome to support it, the drama died out in the West, to be revived in a Christian form in the Mystery. Germany produced her great dramatist in the tenth century-an abbess, Hroswitha, who, finding that the reading of Plautus was not of spiritual profit to her daughters in religion, wrote for them a series of Latin plays on the legends of the saints: dramas of no ordinary merit, and not without their spice of comedy,

It is not my intention to enter at any length into the history of Mystery Plays; but something must be said of those which were performed in Germany, as this species of performance is not extinct.

In 1412, at Bautzen, was performed in the marketplace the play of Saint Dorothea,' and thirty-three spectators, standing on the roof of a house, were killed by the giving way of the rafters. In 1417, during the sitting of the Council of Constance, the Mystery of the Birth of Christ,' the 'Adoration of the Magi,' and the Massacre at Bethlehem,' were performed before the Emperor Sigismund. These plays often lasted several days. In 1536, one, ‘Les Actes des Apôtres,' was put on the stage at Bourges ; it continued forty days, and consisted of 40,000 verses, contained in nine volumes.

Every village church, probably, had its theatrical per

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