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larity were gradually introduced. Dumb-shows of this kind were in all probability the plays in vogue at the court of Edward the Third, which are mentioned by the name of the Ludi domini regis. Historical and allegorical characters represented some appropriate story or event on moveable stages, erected for the occasion, in the public streets, courts, and halls; and sovereigns and nobles were greeted, on their arrival at any city or cloister, with an address from a Hector, a Julius Cæsar, an Arthur, a Charlemagne, &c., delivered from a raised platform or stage (Warton, iii. 37; Collier, ii. 261). In the reign of Henry the Sixth, about the middle of the fifteenth century, when companies of strolling players, for the most part in the pay of the wealthy nobles, became common, speeches in verse and prose were introduced into the pantomimic exhibitions, though as yet they were only irregularly interspersed. The practice was, however, gradually so far extended, that dialogue regularly alternated with pantomime; that being first indicated in dumb-show which was afterwards to be more fully developed in the dialogue and action.
The first period of the history of the English drama reaches to the middle of the fifteenth century; the second dates from the union of its ecclesiastical and religious original with its secular element; while the third, commencing with the influence of the study of classical antiquity, closes with the appearance of Shakspeare as a dramatic writer.
It was in the earlier half of the fifteenth century that Moral plays first appeared—an event which may unhesitatingly be regarded as marking an epoch. For the Moralities, as they subsequently attracted the attention of the people, greatly contributed to the gradual decay of a taste for the Miracle-plays, although it was from them in part that they themselves derived their origin. For the . natural desire to give greater variety and attraction to these exhibitions, which were so constantly recurring, gradually led to the practice of introducing in the Mysteries the favourite allegorical characters of the lay pageants. Thus, in the eleventh piece of the Coventry collection, we meet with Veritas, Justitia, Pax, and Misericordia, while Death is personified in three of the following pieces. Out of the church especially this innovation was eagerly adopted, and the allegorical characters of Sin and Death, Faith,
Hope, and Charity, the chief virtues and vices, soon became leading parts of the piece, and ultimately absorbed the historical matter. The Moralities, therefore, arose in part out of the combination of the Mysteries with the lay-pageants.* The Devil and Vice (called also Iniquity, Sin, Desire, Haphazard, &c.), were too important personages to be omitted: the former was usually represented in the most hideous form possible, with a huge bottle-nose, hairy skin, cloven feet, and a tail; while Vice-the prototype of our modern Harlequin-was dressed in a parti-coloured cloak, with a long wooden sword, the very impersonation of agility and mischief, whose delight was in bantering, jeering, and belabouring the devil (his frequent but not invariable companion) until his Satanic majesty, to the great amusement of the spectators, bursts out into a loud roar of pain. The catastrophe is generally the reward of virtue, the condemnation of vice and of the vicious, or their pardon by God's grace. The end in view appears to be the moral improvement of the spectators, by a representation of good, and its consequences, under general and abstract forms, in the same way that the Mysteries were intended to promote the cause of religion. With this serious object, however, there was joined a plentiful provision for fun and merriment. A good idea of these Moralities may be derived from a sketch of one of the oldest, but nevertheless a very elaborate one, belonging to the time of Henry VI., and still existing in MS., entitled "The Castle of Perseverance. The piece opens with a dialogue between Mundus, Belial, and Caro, in which they dilate on their respective powers and privileges. When this is finished, "Humanum Genus" appears, just born and naked, and announces himself. While he is yet speaking, a good and a bad angel take their places on his right and left, and invite him to follow them. Humanum Genus joins the bad angel, who immediately conducts his pupil to Mundus, who is talking with his two friends, Stultitia and Voluptas. The latter are commanded to wait and attend upon Humanum Genus. Detractio is likewise bidden to be one of his attendants, and procures him the acquaintance of Avaritia, who thereupon introduces him to the
* Warton, ibid., derives them exclusively from the latter; Collier, ibid., from the former. Collier, however, overlooks the fact, that allegorical representations were, without doubt, much earlier in the lay spectacles than in the miracle-plays.
six other deadly sins. While the bad angel rejoices, the good one grieves, and at last sends Confessio to Humanum Genus, by whom he is at first rejected as coming too soon, &c. &c. However, by the help of Pœnitentia, Confessio ultimately succeeds in reclaiming Humanum Genus, and the penitent, upon wishing to know where he can dwell in security, is brought to the Castle of Perseverance, whereupon the bad angel remarks that Humanum Genus is now forty winters old. The seven cardinal virtues are his companions in the castle, which is besieged unsuccessfully by the seven deadly sins, headed by Belial. From the lamentations of the latter, we learn that they suffer most from the roses which Caritas and Pœnitentia shower upon them, and by which they are beaten black and blue. They ultimately retire discomfited. The siege, however, must have lasted long, for we are told that during it Humanum Genus has become "hory and olde." Nevertheless, the conflict is not yet at an end; what did not succeed by open force, is now attempted by stratagem. Avaritia crawls unperceived beneath the castle walls, and by her artful persuasions, Humanum Genus is induced to quit it. He leaves the castle, and lives with Avaritia; but Garcio (a boy) as representative of the rising generation, demands of him the treasures which, with the assistance of Avaritia, he had accumulated, alleging that Mundus had given them to him. Mors also and Anima appear, and the former delivers a long speech on the greatness and universality of his power, while Anima, on the other hand, invokes the aid of Misericordia; notwithstanding which, the bad angel sets off for the infernal regions with Humanum Genus on his back. A discussion then takes place in heaven between Misericordia and Pax on one side, and Justitia and Veritas on the other, the former pleading for, the latter against, Humanum Genus. At last God decides in favour of the former, and the evil spirit is driven to hell, and God himself concludes the piece with an epilogue, wherein he sets forth the moral.
Similar in form and contents, but much more simple in construction, are several other Moralities which have been preserved either in MS. or print, from the times of Henry VI., Edward IV., Henry VII.; and of these a detailed analysis is given by Collier. To the commencement of the reign of Henry VIII. the characters
appear, in all essential points, to have been but little changed. The form of language also remained the same, being for the most part short rhyming verses of a lyrical complexion.
It is easy enough, in a more advanced period, to throw ridicule on these rude essays, but more difficult to recognise their truly artistic value, and to discern in them an indispensable step in the progressive development of art. If the drama be the organic union of epic and lyric poetry, (see below, § 3), it is obvious that in order to its more perfect development, the scenic exhibition of narratives from the Holy Scriptures-the dramatic employment of the epical, required of necessity to be conjoined with a lyrical element. For its further improvement, art stood in absolute need of that vivid human subjectivity which is the root of all lyrical poesy. It was requisite, therefore, that the drama should descend from the supernatural and semi-celestial sphere of the sacred past into the domain of a more earthly humanity-the ideality of what had been must be combined with the reality of what is: then could the dramatic exhibition first become-as its outward form (the immediate presentation of the action before the eyes of the spectators) requires—real and present, and comprehend at once in its ideal presence all and every period. But, at the same time, the essence of art demanded that the subject-matter of exhibition should be of universal application and interest. In order to raise the individual personality into a spectacle for all mankind in its absolute humanity-for such an object all the powers and means of art were still wanting; the cognition of the general in the special required a higher development of the self-consciousness than had yet been attained. The human subjectivity, with its powers and properties, must, therefore, be generalised; and, as the only means to this end, allegorical representation spontaneously offered itself; for, in truth, generalisation is in itself nothing less than an intellectual allegory. On the other hand, the sphere of morals is precisely the one in which the merely human unites itself most readily with the supernatural of religion and the divine. It was that which fits it pre:eminently for dramatic representation, for in this sphere more than in any other it concerns itself with action and volition; in short, with the daily realities of life. It is through the will and the deed that the lyrical life of the feelings
and affections, of thought and reflection, pass into the drama. The Moralities, consequently, formed in fact no inconsiderable advancement of dramatic art, in so far as from their very nature they required the represented action to be carefully evolved from adequate motives, and also in so far as the poetry being once set free from any dependence on a given epical subject, allowed of a more artistic and perfect construction. In the Moralities greater care was necessarily paid to the connection and arrangement, as well as to a more skilful and accurate delineation of manners and character, since without the thread of a well-known story as the groundwork, there would have been, in the absence of these, nothing to connect the several parts. In short, this precisely is the distinction between the Moralities and the older Mysteries. But, on the other hand, there was this defect in the structure of the Moralities, that the lyrical element in its allegorical garb had encroached too far, and was so exclusively evolved as completely to absorb the epical and historical matter. This, however, is invariably the mode and manner in which all organic contrarieties first present themselves in the history of art, no less than in that of humanity itself. It follows, indeed, from the very nature of mind, that it should always first develop separately its individual tendencies and powers with the utmost energy; this is, in short, indispensable, in order that having fully and clearly unfolded their matter and their form, it may afterwards combine them together into a higher organic unity.
Under Henry VII. the Moralities reached their perfection. They had been gradually improving in form and matter without undergoing any essential change; as yet moral instruction in the - strict sense was their sole end, and the represented personages were purely allegorical. Generally the number of the principal parts was limited to four or five, since the King's company of players consisted only of four members; and when this number was exceeded great care was taken that not more than four or five characters should be on the stage together, as the same actors undertook two or more parts. The magnificent and voluptuous Henry VIII. whose interview with Francis I. (mentioned by Shakspeare in his play of that name) cost £3000 for dresses and masques, and in whose reign was produced the first masque