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Innocents, one of the children of the choir completely apparelled in the episcopal vestments, with a mitre' and crosier, bore the title and state of a bishop, and exacted canonical obedience from his fellows, who were dressed like priests. They took possession of the church, and performed all the ceremonies and offices', the mass excepted, which might have been celebrated by the bishop and his prebendariesk. In the statutes of the archiepiscopal cathedral of Tulles, given in the year 1497, it is said, that during the celebration of the festival of the boy-bishop, “MORALITIES were presented, and shews of MIRACLES, with farces and other sports, but compatible with decorum. After dinner they exhibited, without their masks, but in proper dresses, such farces as they were masters of, in different parts of the city'.” It is probable that the same entertainments attended the solemnisation of this ridiculous festival in Englandm: and from this supposition some
į In the statutes of Eton-college, gi 1 Statut. Eccles. Tullens. apud Carven 1441, the Eptscopus PUERORUM is pent. Suppl. Lat. Gl. Du Cang. V. ordered to perform divine service on KALENDÆ. saint Nicholas's day. Rubr. xxxi. In m It appears that in England, the boythe statutes of Winchester-college, given bishop with his companions went about 1380, Pueri, that is the boy-bishop and to different parts of the town; at least his fellows, are permitted on Innocent's- visited the other religious houses. Asin day, to execute all the sacred offices in Rot. Comp. Coll. Winton. A. D. 1461. the chapel, according to the use of the “ In Dat. episcopo Nicolatensi.” This church of Sarum. Rubr. xxix. This I suppose was one of the children of the strange piece of religious mockery flou- choir of the neighbouring cathedral. In rished greatly in Salisbury cathedral. the statutes of the collegiate church of In the old statutes of that church there S. Mary Ottery, founded by bishop is a chapter De EpiscoPO CHORISTARUM: Grandison in 1337, there is this passage: and their Processionale gives a long and “ Item statuimus, quod nullus canoniminute account of the whole ceremony. cus, vicarius, vel secundarius, pueros edit. Rothom. 1555.
choristas in festo sanctorum Innocen*This ceremony was abolished by a tium extra Parochiam de Otery trahant, proclamation, no later than 33 Hen. aut eis licentiam vagandi concedant." VIJI. Brit. Mus. MSS. Cott. Trt. B 1. cap. 50. MS. Registr. Priorat. S. Swif. 208. In the inventory of the treasury thin. Winton. quat. 9. In the wardrobeof York cathedral, taken in 1530, we rolls of Edward III. an. 12. we have this have “ Item una mitra parva cum petris entry, which shews that our mock-bishop pro episcopo puerorum, &c.” Dugd. and his chapter sometimes exceeded their Monast. ii. 169. 170. See also 313. 314. adopted clerical commission, and exer177. 279. See also Dugd. Hist. S. Paul's, cised the arts of secular entertainment. p. 205. 206. Where he is called Epi « EPISCOPO PUERORUM ecclesiæ de AnSCOPUS PARVULORUM. See also Anstis deworp cantanti coram domino rege in Ord. Gart. ii. 309. Where, instead of camera sua in festo sanctorum InnoNihilensis, read Nicolensis, or Nicola- centium, de dono ipsius dom. regis.
critics may be inclined to deduce the practice of our plays being acted by the choir-boys of St. Paul's church, and the chapel royal, which continued, as I before observed, till Cromwell's usurpation. The English and French stages mutually throw light on each other's history. But perhaps it will be thought, that in some of these instances I have exemplified in nothing more than farcical and gesticulatory representations. Yet even these traces should be attended to. In the mean time we may observe upon the whole, that the modern drama had its foundation in our religion, and that it was raised and supported by the clergy. The truth is, the members of the ecclesiastical societies were almost the only persons who could read, and their numbers easily furnished performers: they abounded in leisure, and their very relaxations were religious.
I did not mean to touch upon the Italian stage. But as so able a judge as Riccoboni seems to allow that Italy derived her theatre from those of France and England, by way of an additional illustration of the antiquity of the two last, I will here produce one or two MIRACLE-Plays, acted much earlier in Italy than any piece mentioned by that ingenious writer, or by Crescimbeni. In the year 1298, on “ the feast of Pentecost, and the two following holidays, the representation of the Play of Christ, that is of his passion, resurrection, ascension, judgment, and the mission of the holy ghost, was performed by the clergy of Civita Vecchia, in curia domini patriarchæ Austriæ civitatis honorifice et laudabilitern.” And again, “In 1304, the chapter of Civita Vecchia exhibited a Play of the creation of our first parents, the annunciation of the virgin Mary, the birth of Christ, and other passages of sacred scripture o.” In the mean time, those critics who con
* Chron. Forojul. in Append. ad Mo- Valle." Muratori, Script. Rer. Ital. v. 8. num. Eccl. Aquilej. pag. 30. col. 1. p. 365. The chief object of the Cum
[An earlier record of the exhibition pagna del Confalone instituted at Rome of these miracle-plays in Italy will be in the year 1264, was to represent the found in the “ Catalogo de' Podestà di Mysteries “della Passione del RedenPadova : In quest'anno (1243) fu fatta tore." Tiraboschi, vol. iv. p. 343.la rappresentazion della Passione e Re- Edır.] surrecione di Christo nel Pra della • Ibid. page 30. col. 1. It is extra
tend for the high antiquity of the Italian stage, may adopt these instances as new proofs in defence of that hypothesis.
In this transient view of the origin and progress of our drama, which was incidentally suggested by the mention of Baston's supposed Comedies, I have trespassed upon future periods. But I have chiefly done this for the sake of connection, and to prepare the mind of the reader for other anecdotes of the history of our stage, which will occur in the course of our researches, and are reserved for their respective places. I could have enlarged what is here loosely thrown together, with many other remarks and illustrations : but I was unwilling to transcribe from the collections of those who have already treated this subject with great comprehension and penetration, and especially from the author of the Supplement to the Translator's Preface of Jarvis's Don Quixotep. I claim no other merit from this digression, than that of having collected some new anecdotes relating to the early state of the English and French stages, the original of both which is intimately connected, from books and manuscripts not easily found, nor often examined. These hints may perhaps prove of some service to those who have leisure and inclination to examine the subject with more precision. ordinary, that the Miracle-plays, cven in p See also Doctor Percy's very ingethe churches, should not cease in Italy nious Essay ON THE ORIGIN OF The Extill the year 1660.
GLISH STAGE, &c.
EDWARD the Third was an illustrious example and patron of chivalry. His court was the theatre of romantic elegance. I have examined the annual rolls of his wardrobe, which record various articles of costly stuffs delivered occasionally for the celebration of his tournaments; such as standards, pennons, tunics, caparisons, with other splendid furniture of the same sort: and it appears that he commanded these solemnities to be kept, with a magnificence superior to that of former ages, at Litchfield, Bury, Guildford, Eltham, Canterbury, and twice at Windsor, in little more than the space of one year , At his triumphant return from Scotland, he was met by two hundred and thirty knights at Dunstable, who received their victorious monarch with a grand exhibition of these martial exercises. He established in the castle of Windsor a fraternity of twenty-four knights, for whom he erected a round table, with a round chamber still remaining, according to a similar institution of king Arthur'. Anstis treats the notion, that Edward in this establishment had any retrospect to king Ar
Comp. J. Cooke, Provisoris Magn. cam et scutum operata cum dictamine Garderob. ab ann. 21 Edw. III. ad ann. Regis, 23. supr. citat. I will give, as a speci. Hay Hay the wythe swan men, this officer's accompt for the tour By Godes soule I am thy man.' nament at Canterbury. “ Et ad fa “ Et croparium, pectorale, testarium, et ciendum diversos apparatus pro corpore arcenarium extencellata cum argento. regis et suorum pro hastiludio Cantua. Et ad parandum i. tunicam Regis, et i. riensi, an. reg. xxii. ubi Rex dedit octo clocam et capuciam cum c. garteriis hernesia de syndone ynde facta, et vapu- paratis cum boucles, barris, et penden lata de armis dom. Stephani de Cosyng- tibus de argento. Et ad faciendum unum ton militis, dominis principibus comiti dublettum pro Rege de tela linea haLancastriæ, comiti Suffolciæ, Johanni bente, circa manicas et fimbriam, unam de Gray, Joh. de Beauchamp, Roberto borduram de panno longo viridi operaMaule, Joh. Chandos, et dom. Rogero tam cum nebulis et vineis de auro, et de Beauchamp. Et ad faciendum unum cum dictamine Regis. It is as it is." harnesium de bokeram albo pro rege, Membr. xi. (A. D. 1349. ] extencellato cum argento, viz. tuni • Walsing, p. 117.
thur, as an idle and legendary tradition. But the fame of Arthur was still kept alive, and continued to be an object of veneration long afterwards: and however idle and ridiculous the fables of the round table may appear at present, they were then not only universally known, but firmly believed. Nothing could be more natural to such a romantic monarch, in such an age, than the renovation of this most antient and revered institution of chivalry. It was a prelude to the renowned order of the garter, which he soon afterwards founded at Windsor, during the ceremonies of a magnificent feast, which had been proclaimed by his heralds in Germany, France, Scotland, Burgundy, Heynault, and Brabant, and lasted fifteen daysd. We must not try the modes and notions of other ages, even if they have arrived to some degree of refinement, by those of our own. Nothing is more probable, than that this latter foundation of Edward the Third, took its rise from the exploded story of the garter of the countess of Salisbury. Such an origin is interwoven with the manners and ideas of the times. Their attention to the fair sex entered into every thing. It is by no means unreasonable to suppose, that the fantastic collar of Esses, worn by the knights of this Order, was an allusion to her name. Froissart, an eye-witness and well acquainted with the intrigues of the court, relates at large the king's affection for the countess; and particularly describes a grand carousal which he gave in consequence of that attachment. The first festival of this order was not only adorned by the bravest champions of Christendom, but by the presence of queen Philippa, EdOrd. Gart. ii. 92.
this place help observing, that the fan• Barnes, i. ch. 22. p. 292. Froissart, tastic humour of unriddling emblemac. 100. Anstis ut supr.
tical mysteries, supposed to be concealed • Ashmole proves, that the orders of under all ensigns and arms, was at length the Annunciada, and of the Toison d'Or, carried to such an extravagance, at least had the like origin. Ord. Gart. p. 180. in England, as to be checked by the le
Even in the ensigns of the order gislature. By a statute of queen Elisaof the Holy Ghost, founded so late as beth, a severe penalty is laid, “ on all 1578, some love-mysteries and emblems fond phantastical prophecies upon or by were concealed under cyphers introduced the occasion of any arms, fields, beastes, into the blasonrie. See Le Laboureur, badges, or the like things accustom:d Contin. des Mem. de Castelnau, p. 895. in arms, cognisaunces, or signetts," &c. “ Il y eut plus de mysteres d'amourettes Statut. v. Eliz. ch. 15. A. D. 1567. que de religion," &c. But I cannot in
f Ubi supr.