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THE HISTORY OF in 1547, published in two volumes a collection of religious interludes, which abounded in Germany. They are in Latin, and not taken from legends but the Bible.

The puritans were highly offended at these religious plays now revived'. But they were hardly less averse to the theatrical representation of the christian than of the gentile story. Yet for different reasons. To hate a theatre was a part of their creed, and therefore plays were an improper vehicle of religion. The heathen fables they judged to be dangerous, as too nearly resembling the superstitions of popery.

• A very late scripture-play is, “ A “ newe merry and witte comedie or enter. " lude, newlie imprinted creating the his

tory of JACOB AND ESAU, &c." for H. Bynneman, 1568. 4to. Bl. Lett. But this play had appeared in queen Mary's reign, ** An enterlude vpon the history of Jacobe

and Efawe, &c.” Licenced to Henry Sutton, in 1557. RegistR. STATION. A. fol. 23. a.

It is certain, however, that the fashion of religious interludes was not entirely discontinued in the reign of queen Elisabeth. For, I find licenced to T. Hac. kert in 1561, “ A newe enterlude of the “ij synnes of kynge Dauyde.” Ibid. fol. 75. a. And to Pickeringe in 1560-1, the play of queen Esther. Ibid. fol. 62. b. Again, there is licenced to T. Colwell, in 1565, “A playe of the story of kyng “ Darius from Esdras.” Ibid. fol. 133. b. Also “ A pleasaunte recytall worthy of “ the readinge contaynynge the effecte of

iij worthye squyres of Daryus the kinge " of Persia,” licenced to Griffiths in 1565. Ibid. fol. 132. b. Often reprinted. And in 1566, John Charlewood is licenced to print

" An enterlude of the repentance * of Mary Magdalen.” Ibid. fol. 152. a. Of this piece I have cited an antient manuscript. Also, not to multiply instances, Colwell in 1568, is licenced to print“ The “ playe of Susanna.” Ibid. fol. 176. a. Ballads on scripture subjects are now innumerable. Peele's DAVID AND BATHSHE,

BA is a remain of the fashion of fcripture.
plays. I have mentioned the play of Ho.
LOFERNES acted at Hatfield in 1556. Life
OF SIR THOMAS Pope, p. 87. In 1556,
was printed " A ballet intituled the hifto.
“ rye of Judith and Holyfernes." RE-
GISTR. ut supr. fol. 154. b. And Registr.
B. fol. 227. In Hearne's manuscript Col.
LECTANEA there is a licence dated 1571,
from the queen, directed to the officers of
Middlesex, permitting one John Swinton
Powlter, “ to have and use some playes
“ and games at or uppon pine severall son.
“ daies,” within the said county. And
because greate resorte of people is lyke to come
thereunto, he is required, for the preserva-
tion of the peace, and for the sake of
good order, to take with him four or five
discreet and substantial men of those places
where the games fall be put in practice, to
superintend duringe the contynuance of the
games or playes. Some of the exhibitions
are then specified, such as, Shoringe with
the brode arrowe, The lepping for men,

pytchynge of the barre, and the like. But
then follows this very general clause,
“ With all fuche other games, as hace at

anye time heretofore or now be lycensed, “ used, or played.” COLL. MSS. Hearne, tom. Ixi. p. 78. One wishes to know, whether any interludes, and whether religious or profane, were included in this inftrument.


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T appears, however, that the cultivation of an English style

began to be now regarded. At the general restoration of knowledge and taste, it was a great impediment to the progress of our language, that all the learned and ingenious, aiming at the character of erudition, wrote in Latin. English books were written only by the superficial and illiterate, at a time when judgment and genius should have been exerted in the nice and critical task of polishing a rude speech. Long after the invention of typography, our vernacular style, instead of being strengthened and refined by numerous compositions, was only corrupted with new barbarisms and affectations, for want of able and judicious writers in English. Unless we except fir Thomas More, whose DIALOGUE ON TRIBULATION, and HISTORY OF RICHARD THE THIRD, were esteemed standards of style fo low as the reign of James the first, Roger Ascham was perhaps the first of our scholars who ventured to break the shackles of Latinity, by publishing his Toxophilus in English ; chiefly with a view of giving a pure and correct model of English compofition, or rather of thewing how a subject might be treated with

grace and propriety in En lifh as well as in Latin. His own vindication of his conduct in attempting this great innovation is too sensible to be omitted, and reflects light on the revolutions of our poetry.

As for the Lattine or Greeke tongue, euerye thinge is so excellentlye done in Them, that none can “ do better. In the En_lishe tongue contrary, euery thing in " a maner so meanlye, both for the matter and handelinge, that “ no man can do worse. For therein the learned for the most TI 2


“ part haue bene alwayes most redye to write. And they which “ had least hope in Lattine haue bene most bould in Englishe: “ when surelye euerye man that is most ready to talke, is not « most able to write. He that will write well in any tongue, “ must folow this counsell of Aristotle; to speake as the common people do, to thinke as wise men do. And so shoulde

euerye man vnderstand him, and the iudgement of wise men « alowe him. Manye Englishe writers haue not done so; but « vsinge straunge wordes, as Lattine, French, and Italian, do “ make all thinges darke and harde. Ones I communed with a

man, which reasoned the Englishe tongue to be enriched and “ encreased thereby, sayinge, Who will not prayse that feast “ where a man shall drincke at a dinner both wyne, ale, and “ beere ? Truly, quoth I, they be al good, euery one taken by “ himselfe alone; but if you put Malmesye and sacke, redde wyne and white, ale and beere, and al in one pot, you

shall make a drinke neither easye to be knowen, nor yet holsome * for the bodye. Cicero in folowing Isocrates, Plato, and De“ mosthenes, encreased the Lattine tongue after another fort. “ This way, because diuers men that write do not know, they ~ can neyther folow it because of their ignoraunce, nor yet will

prayse it for uery arrogancy: two faultes seldome the one out " of the others companye. Englishe writers by diuersitie of

tyme haue taken diuers matters in hand. In our fathers time nothing was red, but bookes of fayned cheyalrie, wherein a " man by readinge should be led to none other ende but only “ to manslaughter and baudrye. If anye man suppose they “ were good enough to passe the time withall, he is deceiued. “ For surely vaine wordes do worke no smal thinge in vaine, “ ignorant, and yong mindes, specially if they be geuen any " thing therynto of their owne nature.

These bookes, as I " haue heard say, were made the most part in abbayes and mo“ nasteries, a very likely and fit fruite of such an ydle and blind

« kind

« kind of living”. In our time now, whan euery man is geuen “ to know much rather than liue wel, very many do write, but “ after such a fashion as very many do shoote. Some shooters “ take in hande stronger bowes than they be able to maintaine. “ This thinge maketh them sometime to ouershoote the marke, “ sometime to shoote far wyde and perchance hurt some that " loke on. Other, that neuer learned to shoote, nor yet know“ eth good shaft nor bowe, will be as busie as the best.

Ascham’s example was followed by other learned men. But the chief was Thomas Wilson, who published a system of Logic and Rhetoric both in English. Of his Logic I have already spoken. I have at present only to speak of the latter, which is not only written in English, but with a view of giving rules for composing in the English language. It appeared in 1553, the first year of queen Mary, and is entitled, The ARTE OF RHETORIKE for the vse of all suche as are studious of Eloquence, sette forthe in Englishe by THOMAS WILSON Leonarde Cox, a schoolmaster, patronised by Farringdon the last abbot of Reading, had published in 1530, as I have observed, an English tract on rhetoric, which is nothing more than a technical and elementary manual. Wilson's treatise is more liberal, and discursive; illustrating the arts of eloquence by example, and examining and ascertaining the beauties of composition with the speculative skill and sagacity of a critic. It may therefore be justly considered as the first book or system of criticism in our language. A few ex

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• He says in his SCHOOLEMASTER, writ. ten soon after the year 1563, “ There be “ more of these vngracious bookes set out “ in print within these few monethes, than " have bene seene in England many score

years before." B. i. fol. 26. a. edit. 1589. 4to.

b To all the Gentlemen and Yomen of EngLAND, Prefixed to TOXOPHILUS, The Schole or partition of mooting, Lond. 1545. 4to.

° Lond. 1553. 4to. Dedicated to John Dudley, earl of Warwick. In the Dedication he says, that he wrote great part of

this treatise during the last summer vacation in the country, at the house of fir Edward Dimmoke. And that it originated from a late conversation with his lordship, “e

monge other talke of learnyng.” It was reprinted by Jhon Kynston in 1570. Lond. 4to. With “ A Prologue to the Reader," dated Dec. 7. 1560. Again, 1567. 4to. And 1585. 400. In the Prologue, he mentions his escape at Rome, which I have above related : and adds, “ If others

neuer gette more by bookes than I have «.doen, it wer better be a carter than a “ scholar, for worldlie profite.”


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tracts from so curious a performance need no apology; which will also serve to throw light on the present period, and indeed on our general subject, by displaying the state of critical knowledge, and the ideas of writing, which now prevailed.

I must premise, that Wilson, one of the most accomplished scholars of his times, was originally a fellow of King's Col. lege", where he was tutor to the two celebrated youths Henry and Charles Brandon dukes of Suffolk. Being a doctor of laws, he was afterwards one of the ordinary masters of requests, master of saint Katharine's hospital near the Tower, a frequent embassador from queen Elisabeth to Mary queen of Scots, and into the Low countries, a secretary of state and a privy counsellor, and at length, in 1579, dean of Durham. He died in 1581. His remarkable diligence and dispatch in negotiation is faid to have resulted from an uncommon strength of memory. It is another proof of his attention to the advancement of our English style, that he translated seven orations of Demosthenes, which, in i 1570, he dedicated to fir William Cecille.

Under that chapter of his third book of RHETORIC which treats of the four parts belonging to elocution, Plainnesse, Aptnefse, Composicion, Exornacion, Wilson has these observations on fimplicity of style, which are immediately directed to those who write in the English tongue.

“ Among other lessons this 6 should first be learned, that we neuer affect any straunge ynke“ horne termes, but to speake as is commonly receiued: neither

seking to be ouer fine, nor yet living ouer carelesse, vsing our

speache as moste men do, and ordering our wittes as the fewest “ haue doen. Some seke so farre for outlandishe Englishe, that

they forget altogether their mothers language. And I dare

• Admitted scholar in 1541. A native Wilsonus, patrii gloria prima soli. of Lincolnshire. MS. Hatcher.

Wilson published many other things. In c Which had been also translated into Latin by Nicholas Carr. To whose ver.

Gabriel Harvey's SMITHUS, dedicated to fion Hatcher prefixed this distich. [MSS.

fir Walter Mildmay, and printed by Bin

his More. 102. Carr's Autograph. MS.]

neman in 1578, he is ranked wi

learned cotemporaries. See SIGNAT. D Hæc eadem patrio Thomas sermone polivit iij.--E ij.--I j.

ci sweare

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