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that intermediate but unimportant step in the history of art-was not content with so limited a company of actors, but in 1514 appointed eight players of Interludes (which from the time of Edward IV. was the usual title of all scenic representations, as being played in the intervals of other entertainments,) and he moreover permitted or ordered the singing-boys of the Royal Chapels to appear as stage-players. Music also, which was greatly cultivated in this reign, was adapted to dramatic purposes. The eighteen minstrels, singers, pipers, and fiddlers, which this monarch maintained, were, however, almost all Germans or Italians. The example of Henry was imitated by his nobles, among whom it now became the fashion to have stage-players among their household retainers; i. e. to take them under their protection, so that they wore the arms and livery of their noble patrons and were, moreover, paid for every representation (twenty shillings by an earl, and ten by a baron,)—a custom which prevailed even to the times of Shakspeare.

The Moralities naturally now gained outward extent, while the increasing number of the parts, the enlargement of the action, and the greater outward splendour of representation, tended to promote greater carefulness in the conception, structure, and execution of the piece itself. But the more these plays were improved, both inwardly and outwardly, the less calculated would merely allegorical impersonations prove to afford satisfaction. The extension of the matter led to more of action, and to a more precise division of the subject, and consequently to a more accurate individuation of the acting personages, and thus their outward and material enlargement necessarily carried them beyond the narrow limits of allegory. At the same time, too, the spectators ceased to be content with purely moral subjects. Accordingly, by the same principle which urges every thing possessing vitality to gain for itself the widest possible development, and by assimilation to attract to itself whatever is of like nature, the Moralities also encroached upon and took possession of a neighbouring domain. An extant Morality, by an unknown author, had, for instance, the design of convincing men, and the English especially, whom it represents as employing themselves in the compilation of "ballads and other matters not worth a mite," of the necessity of the study

of philosophy. Its title is "The Four Elements," and from a passage referring to the discovery of America, appears to have been written about 1512. Others treated of the education of children, and such like matters. But not only was the change in this direction carried constantly further, but the practice arose of mingling with the allegorical personages certain characters of real life, though sketched at first only in their most general features. Thus, as early as the above-named piece, we meet with an innkeeper, while in some later ones several similar characters occur. Of which practice Skelton appears to have set the example in his "Negromansir," which was printed in 1504, but is now lost. In this piece, however, the two characters of the Negromansir and the notary appear only incidentally, and are quite secondary personages, taking no influential share in the action. (Warton, iii. 185.) An analysis of several Moralities of this kind. is given by Collier, ii. 319. This enlargement of domain, and this intermixture of real characters, were necessary conditions of each other, in so far as the pure allegory could not easily be expelled at once from the sphere of the Moralities. In both cases a step was taken which brought the drama nearer to real life, and consequently also to history.

But at this period the great ecclesiastical and religious struggle, which, spreading from Germany over the whole of Europe, took especial root in England, began to attract all minds. So deeply did the Reformation penetrate into the marrow of life, that scarcely a head or hand escaped being set in motion by it. Even dramatic art, which, however, at this period, was still more closely allied to religion and morality than -it was afterwards, did not escape the contagion. Pieces were first written against or in defence of the prevailing abuses of the church, or the reformers of Wittemburg; and the further step was soon taken of introducing on the stage the events of the time, and their chief agents, although as yet invariably under an allegorical guise. Thus, for instance, in 1527, John Roe was deprived of his office of sergeant-at-law, for some reflections on the pomp of the clergy, in which he had indulged, in an interlude; and in 1528, Henry VIII. accompanied by the French ambassador, by Wolsey, and others of the great nobles, was present at Greenwich at the representation of a piece, written by John Rightwise, master of St. Paul's School, and performed by his scholars,

the object of which was to set forth the Reformation as the work of false interpretation, heresy, and corruption of Scripture. Among the characters were Luther, as a monk; his wife, Katherine Boren, dressed in red silk-the costume of a woman of Spires; and with them Religio, Ecclesia, and Veritas; the apostles Peter, Paul, and James; an orator and a poet; a Cardinal, the Dauphin of France and his brother; Lady Peace, Lady Contentment, Lady Tranquillity, and so forth.

If at an earlier period a thread of history had occasionally been interwoven with the picce, as, for instance, in the history of King Robert of Sicily-an Interlude which dates as early as the reign of Henry VII., and was exhibited before the corporation of Chester in the year 1529, in which Robert is dethroned by an angel, on account of his impious pride and arrogance, but after various degrading afflictions is brought to repentance, and finally restored to his kingdom,-still, as this slight sketch of the piece sufficiently demonstrates, the history is throughout treated as a legend, the entire action being carried on under the superintendence of angels. and other supernatural beings. On the other hand, as soon as the most interesting topics and circumstances of the day had been brought on the stage, it became necessary to adhere closely and strictly to the historical narrative, even though it was less the fact itself than the writer's judgment upon it, and the impression it made upon contemporaries - thoughts and reflections upon it, in short that was pourtrayed under the allegorical guise : much, nevertheless, was gained by the simple fact that the epical element the historical matter-had resumed its due place in the drama.

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The same lyrical subjectivity both in conceiving and treating the subject-matter still prevails even in the pieces of John Heywood, who first appeared as a writer somewhere about 1520, (Collier, ii. 385), and rapidly became a general favourite. But still the titles alone of his plays, as, for instance-The Pardoner, Friar, Curate, and Neighbour Pratte, The Merry Play between Johan the husband, Tyb the wife, and Sir Jhan the priest; the Four P.'s (in Dodsley's Collection, vol. i.) &c. &c. are sufficient to prove that he had already passed beyond the sphere of the Mysteries as well as of the older Moralities. He took the lead in the direction which his contemporaries, Roc, Rightwise, and others, also main

tained, and passed from the domain of history into common everyday life. His pieces, which may in some sense be compared to the mimes of Sophron, were but a succession of scenes, for the most part comic, but destitute of every thing like complication of plot, yet boldly sketched, lively, and teeming with popular wit, directed to matters of public or domestic interest, or existing characters, manners, and opinions. An opening was hereby made for a proper national comedy, which naturally retained the satirical cast, as may be seen in the piece of David Lindsay, played before James V. of Scotland, entitled "A Satyre of the Three Estaites," and aimed against the unreformed clergy.

Although the pieces of John Heywood, to which, in the opinion of Collier, the title of Interlude most properly belongs, struck quite a new chord, by abandoning both the allegorical form and a directly religious or moral end; and although on this account the author may deserve to be regarded as the inventor of a peculiar, and, for the time, new species of the drama, still his pieces did not appear wholly without preparation, nor even do they stand absolutely alone in their kind. Not to mention others, there was published, as early as 1530, "a Commedye in manner of an Enterlude," from an unknown hand, entitled, "The Beauty and Good Propertie of Women, as well as their vices and evil condition ;" worked out in the same manner, but exhibiting much more earnestness of style, and in so far performing the same service to tragedy as Heywood's pieces had done for comedy (see Collier, ii. 408.) Unfortunately, the comedies and tragedies which Ralph Radcliffe composed since 1538 for his pupils at Hitchin are lost. Among other subjects he treated the History of Job, Jonas, and Judith, the story of the Patient Griselda, the burning of John Huss,the history of Titus and Gesippus, (Warton, iii. 213). When we reflect that Radcliffe was a scholar, and his Patient Grisel, as it is expressly asserted by his biographer, was composed after Boccaccio, we can have no hesitation in concluding, what, indeed, the titles of his pieces generally warrant, that the historical element was predominant in them. Of Moral-plays still extant, "The Conflict of Conscience," by Nathaniel Woodes, is one of the oldest, in which an historical character, the Italian Jurist, Francisco Spiera, and the account of his fall from the church, is mixed up with allegorical personages. Preston's "Cambyses, King of Persia," and the "Appius

and Virginia" of an unknown author signing himself R. B., and some other picces, contain, in like manner, a motley mixture of history and allegory. However, as it would seem, the Moral-plays did not adjust themselves to the reception of historical matter until after the Miracle-plays had already abandoned their epic colouring and purely religious tendency. What in the case of Radcliffe we can only conjecture, is positively established by a drama printed in 1568, but which in all probability had previously been acted before Mary (1556-7). It bears the title, (Collier, ii. 247; W. iv. 252,) "A new, merry, and witty Comedy or Interlude of Jacob and Esau," is divided into acts and scenes, and exhibits the history of the two brothers in a dramatic form, which, considering its date, is tolerably perfect.

The great difference between such religious dramas, and the old Mysteries, consisted in this,—that in the former the sacred history was made to adjust itself to the laws and requirements of art, while in the latter, art was made subordinate to the religious matter. The piece was now no longer a merely dramatised narrative; the plot, although rude and heavy, unfolded itself more independently; the action had its motives, and the personages were characterised, though as yet only in rude and sketchy outline; in short, the lyrical element had now arrived, through many indirect transitions, at an union with the epical, which, however, was yet unshapely, and rather of a mechanical than of an organic kind. Still such was, in the proper and strict sense of the term, the Birth of the Drama. After the Moralities and Interludes had fallen gradually into disrepute, the taste of the educated classes, as well as the talents of authors, were directed for the most part. to comedies and tragedies, and to histories as distinguished

*The first to employ, or rather to misemploy, the names of Comedy and Tragedy for dramatic poetry, was John Bale (1530), who entitled his "God's Promises," a tragedy, and his "Christ's Temptation," a comedy. His pieces, how. ever, are nothing better than Miracle-plays. Hitherto the term Tragedy had been employed to denote any serious piece composed in a lofty style; and that of Comedy designated a comical poem, or one written in a low style, and in the ordinary language of life: and even so late as the last days of Elizabeth, Churchyard gave the name of Tragedy to some elegies, and Markham to an heroic poem, in rhyming octaves. In a public document, however, of 1574, Tragedies, Comedies, and Interludes, (in which term the Moral plays were included), are already distinguished.

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