תמונות בעמוד

tism, and in alienating the minds of the people from the new doctrines and reformed rites of worship. Being silenced by authority, they had recourse to the stage : and from the pulpit removed their polemics to the play-house. Their farces became more successful than their sermons. The people flocked eagerly to the play-house, when deprived not only of their antient pageantries, but of their pastoral discourses, in the church. Archbishop Cranmer and the protector Somerset were the chief objects of these dramatic invectives". At length, the same authority which had checked the preachers, found it expedient to controul the players: and a new proclamation, which I think has not yet appeared in the history of the British drama, was promulgated in the following terms o. The inquisitive reader will observe, that from this instrument plays appear to have been long before a general and familiar species of entertainment, that they were acted not only in London but in the great towns, that the profession of a player, even in our present sense, was common and established ; and that these satirical interludes are forbidden only in the English tongue. “ Forasmuch 66 as a great number of those that be coMMON PLAYERS of “ ENTERLUDES and PLAYES, as well within the city of Lon- don as elsewhere within the realm, doe for the most part play “ such ENTERLUDES, as contain matter tending to sedition, " and contemning of sundry good orders and laws; whereupon

are grown and daily are likely to growe and ensue much difquiet, division, tumults and uprores in this realm ? : the Kinges Majesty, by the advice and consent of his dearest

" Fuller, Ch. Hist. B. vii. Cent. xvi. P. 390. Dat.


Edw. vi. Aug. 8. P lt 1hould, however, be remarked, that the reformers had themselves shewn the way to this sort of abuse long before. Bale's comedy OF THE THREE Laws, printed in 1538, is commonly supposed to be a Myftery, and merely doctrinal: but it is a sadirical play against ropery, and perhaps she first of the kind in our language. I

have mentioned it in general terms before, under Bale as a poet; but I reserved a more particular notice of it for this place. [See fupr. p.78.] It is exceedingly fcarce, and has this colophon." Thus endeth thys “ Comedy concernynge the thre lawes, “ of Nature, Moses, and Christ, corrupt. “ed by the Sodomytes, Pharisees, and

Papyftes, most wycked. Compyled by Johan Bale. Anno M.D.XXXVIII.

And “ lately imprented per Nicolaum Bambur

“ gensem."

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

“ uncle Edward duke of Somerset, and the rest of his high-
“ nesse Privie Councell, straightly chargeth and commandeth
“ all and everie his Majesties subjects, of whatsoever state,
“ order, or degree they be, that from the ninth day of this pre-
“ sent month of August untill the feast of All-saints next com-
“ ming, they nor any of them, openly or secretly PLAY IN
“ DIALOGUE, or other matter set forth in form of Play, in

[merged small][ocr errors]

“ gensem." duod. It has these directions about the dresses, the first I remem. ber to have seen, which shew the scope and fpirit of the piece. Signat. G. « The

apparellynge of the fix Vyces or frutes “ of Infydelyte. ---Let Idolatry be decked ** lyke an olde wytche, Sodomy lyke a “ monke of all feétes, Ambycyon lyke a “ byshop, Covetoufnesse lyke a Pharisee or

spyrituall lawer, False Doctrine lyke a

popysh doctour, and Hypocresy lyke a “ graye fryre. The rest of the partes are " easye ynough to conjecture." A scene in the second Act is thus opened by INF:DELITAS," Por cantionem, Infidelitas alta

voce dicat. Oremus. Omnipotens fem“piterne Deus, qui ad imaginem et fimi“ litudinem noftram formaiti laicos, da,

quæsumus, ut ficut eorum fudoribus vi“ vimus, ita eorum uxoribus, filiabus, et “ domicellis perpetuo

frui mereamur, per “ dominum noftrum Papam." Bale, a clergyman, and at length a bishop in Ireland, ought to have known, that this profane and impious parody was more offenfive and injurious to true religion than any part

of the misfal which he means to ridicule. INFIDELITY then begins in English verse a conversation with Lex Moysis, containing the moft low and licentious ob. scenity, which I am alhamed to transcribe, concerning the words of a Latin anteme, between an old fryre, or friar, with fiesta. cles on hys noje, and dame Isabel an old nun, who crows like a capon. This is the

most tolerable part of INFIDELITY's dialogue. SIGNAT. C. iiij. It was a good world, when we had sech

wholsome storyes Preached in our churche, on fondayes and

other feryes!
With us was it merye
When we went to Berye",

And to our. Lady of Grace :
To the Bloud of Hayles
Where no good chere fayles,

And other holye place.
When the prests myght walke,
And with yonge wyves talke,

Then had we chyldren plentye ;
Then cuckoldes myght leape
A score on a heape,

Now is there not one to twentye.
When the monkes were fatte, &c.

In another place, the old philosophy is
ridiculed. SIGNAT. E. v. Where Hypo.
CRISY fays,
And I wyll rays up in the unyversitees
The seven sleepers there, to advance the

pope's decrees; As Dorbel, and Duns, Durande, and Tho

mas of Aquyne, The Mastre of Sentens, with Bachon the

great devyne : Henricus de Gandavo; and these shall read

ad Clerum Ariftotle, and Albert de fecretis mulierum : With the commentaryes of Avicen and

Averoyes, &c.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

any place publick or private within this realm, upon pain, that “ whosoever shall PLAY in English any such PLAY, ENTER“ LUDE, DIALOGUE, or other MATTER, shall suffer impri“ sonment, or other punishment at the pleasure of his Majes" tie ?." But when the short date of this proclamation expired, the reformers, availing themselves of the stratagems of an enemy, attacked the papists with their own weapons. One the comedies on the side of reformation still remains'. But the writer, while his own religion from its simple and impalpable form was much less exposed to the ridicule of scenic exhibition, has not taken advantage of that opportunity which the papistic ceremonies so obviously afforded to burlesque and drollery, from their visible pomp, their number, and their absurdities : nor did he perceive an effect which he might have turned to his own use, suggested by the practice of his catholic antagonists in the drama, who, by way of recommending their own superstitious solemnities, often made them contemptible by theatrical representation.

This piece is entitled, An Enterlude called LUSTY JUVENTUS: lively describing the Frailtie of youth: of Nature prone to Vyce: by Grace and Good Councell traynable to vertue'. The author, of whom nothing more is known, was one R. Wever, as appears from the colophon. “ Finis, quod R. Wever. Imprinted at “ London in Paules churche yarde by Abraham Vele at the

figne of the Lambe.” Hypocrisy is its best character : who
laments the loss of her superstitions to the devil, and recites a
long catalogue of the trumpery of the popish worship in the
metre and manner of Skelton'. The chapter and verse of
Scripture are often announced : and in one scene, a personage,
called God's. MERCYFULL: PROMISES, cites Ezekiel as from
the pulpit.

9 Fuller, ibid. p. 391. See also stati From Bale's THREE LAWES above.
2, 3. Edw. vi. A. D. 1548. Gibs. Cod. i. mentioned, Sign. B. v.
p 261. edit. 1761.

Here have I pratye gynnes,
- See fupr. vol. i. 241. ii. 378. 397.

Both brouches, beades, and pynnes,
And Gibl. Cod. i. p. 191. edit. 1761.
r See Hawkins's OLD Plays, i. p. 135.

With soch as the people wynnes
Unto idolatrye, &c.


[ocr errors]

The Lord by his prophet Ezekiel fayeth in this wise playnlye,
As in the xxiii chapter it doth appere :
Be converted, Oye children, &c'.

From this interlude we learn, that the young men, which was natural, were eager to embrace the new religion, and that the old were unwilling to give up those doctrines and modes of worship, to which they had been habitually attached, and had paid the most implicit and reverential obedience, from their childhood. To this circumstance the devil, who is made to represent the Scripture as a novelty, attributes the destruction of his fpiritual kingdom.

The old people would beleve stil in my lawes,
But the yonger sort lead them a contrary way;
They wyll not beleve, they playnly say,
In old traditions as made by men,
But they wyll 'leve as the Scripture teacheth them'.

The devil then, in order to recover his interest, applies to his son Hypocrisy, who attempts to convert a young man to the antient faith, and says that the Scripture can téach no more, than that God is a good man", a phrase which Shakespeare with great humour has put into the mouth of Dogberry*. But he adds an argument in jest, which the papists sometimes seriously used against the protestants, and which, if we consider the poet's ultimate intention, had better been suppressed..

The world was never so mery,
Since children were so bolde :
Now every boy will be a teacher,
The father a foole, the chylde a preacher'.

· Ibid. p. 159.

Ibid. p. 133.
Ibid. 141.

3 Much Ado, iii, 8.
y Ibid. p. 143•

Сс 2


It was among the reproaches of protestantism, that the inexperienced and the unlearned thought themselves at liberty to explain the Scriptures, and to debate the most abstruse and metaphysical topics of theological speculation. The two songs in the character of YOUTH, at the opening and close of this interlude, are flowery and not inelegant ?.

The protestants continued their plays in Mary's reign : for Strype has exhibited a remonstrance from the Privy-council to the lord President of the North, representing, that “ certain “ lewd [ignorant] persons, to the number of fix or seven in a

company, naming themselves to be servants of fir Frauncis

Lake, and wearing his livery or badge on their sleeves, have “ wandred about those north parts, and representing certain

Plays and Enterludes,” reflecting on her majesty and king Philip, and the formalities of the mass“. These were familyminstrels or players, who were constantly diftinguished by their master's livery or badge.

When the English liturgy was restored at the accession of Elisabeth, after its suppression under Mary, the papists renewed their hostilities from the stage; and again tried the intelligible mode of attack by ballads, farces, and interludes. A new injunction was then necessary, and it was again enacted in 1559, that no person, but under heavy forfeitures, should abuse the Common Prayer in “ any Enterludes, Plays, fongs or rimes b." But under Henry the eighth, so early as the year 1542, before the reformation was fixed or even intended on its present liberal establishment, yet when men had begun to discern and to repro

z Ibid. p. 121.153.

* Eccl. Mem.Hi. Append. lii. p. 185. Dat. 1556. Sir Francis Lake is ordered go correct his servants so offending,

One Henry Nicholas a native of Amtterdam, who imported his own tranflations of many enthusiastic German books into England, about the year 1550, tranNated and published, “ COMOEDIA, a worke “ in rhyme, conteyning an interlude of

· Myndes witnesling man's fall from God “and Cryst, set forth by H. N. and by “him newly perused and amended. Tran“ flated out of base Almayne into Eng. “ lyfh." Without date, in duodecimo. It feenis to have been printed abroad. Our author was the founder of one of the numerous offsets of calvinistic fanaticism, called the FAMILY OF Love.

Ann. i, Eliz.


« הקודםהמשך »