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concerned, was enlivened by the admission of new characters, drawn either from profane history, or from profane allegory ', in the application of which, some degree of learning and invention appeared.
I have observed in a former work, and it is a topic which will again be considered in its proper place, that the frequent and familiar use of allegoric personifications in the public. pageants, I mean the general use of them, greatly contributed to form the school of Spenser". But moreover from what is here faid, it seems probable, that the PAGE AUNTS, which being shewn on civil occasions, derived great part of their decorations and actors from historical fact, and confequently made profane characters the subject of public exhibition, dictated ideas of a regular drama, much fooner than the MYSTERIES: which being confined to scripture stories, or rather the legendary miracles of sainted martyrs, and the no less ideal personifications of the christian virtues, were not calculated to make so quick and easy a transition to the representations of real life and rational action.
In the year 1501, when the princess Catharine of Spain came to London, to be married to prince Arthur, her procession through the city was very magnificent. The geants were numerous, and superbly furnished; in which the principal actors, or speakers, were not only God the father, faint Catharine, and faint Ursula, but king Alphonsus the astronomer and an ancestor of the princess, a Senator, an Angel, Job, Boethius, Nobility, and Virtue. These
perfonages sustained a fort of action, at least of dialogue. The
Profane allegory, however, had been applied in pageants, fomewhat earlier. In the pageants, abovementioned, presented to Henry the fixth, the seven liberal sciences personified are introduced, in a tabernacle of curious worke, from which their queen dame Sapience speaks verses. At entering the city he is met, and faluted in metre by
three ladies, richly cladde in golde and filkes
lady was compared to Hesperus, and the prince to Arcturus; and Alphonsus, from his skill in the stars, was introduced to be the fortune-teller of the match, These machineries were contrived and directed by an ecclefiaftic of great eminence, bishop Fox; who, says Bacon, “ was not only a grave coun~ sellor for war or peace, but also a good surveyor of works, « and a good master of ceremonies, and any thing else that “ was fit for the active part, belonging to the service of “ court, or state of a great king." It is probable, that this prelate's dexterity and address in the conduct of a courtrareeshow procured him more interest, than the gravity of his counsels, and the depth of his political knowledge: at least his employment in this business presents a striking picture of the importance of those popular talents, which even in an age of blind devotion, and in the reign of a superstitious monarch, were instrumental in paving the way to the most opulent dignities of the church. - Whosoever, adds the same pene
trating historian, had these toys in compiling, they were “ not altogether PEDANTICAL',” About the year 1487, Henry the seventh went a progress into the north; and at every place of distinction was received with a pageant; in which he was faluted, in a poetical oration, not always religious, as, at York by Ebranck, a British king and the founder of the city, as well as by the holy virgin, and king David: at Worcester by Henry the fixth his uncle : at Hereford by faint George, and king Ethelbert, at entering the cathedral there : at Bristol, by king Bremmius, Prudence, and Justice. The two latter characters were perfonated by young girls '.
In the mean time it is to be granted, that profane characters were personated in our pageants, before the close of the fourteenth century. Stowe relates, that in the year
Chron. MS. s Bacon's HENRY THE COMPL. Hift. Engl. vol. i. p. 628.
From a manufcript in the Cotton library, printed in Leland. COLLECTAN, ad calc. vol. iii. p. 185. 2
for the entertainment of the young prince Richard, son of Edward the black prince, one hundred and thirty citizens rode disguised from Newgate to Kennington where the court resided, attended with an innumerable multitude of waxen torches, and various instruments of music, in the evening of the Sunday preceding Candlemas-day. In the first rank were forty-eight, habited like esquires, with visors; and in the second the same number, in the character of knights..“ Then followed one richly arrayed like an EM“ PEROR, and after him, at some distance, one stately-tyred « like a Pope, whom followed twenty-four CARDINALLS, “ and after them eyght or tenne with blacke visors not
amiable, as if they had been Legates from some forrain
princes.” But this parade was nothing more than a DUMB Shew, unaccompanied with any kind of interlocution. This appears from what follows. For our chronicler adds, that when they entered the hall of the palace, they were met by the prince, the queen, and the lords ; “ whom the said-mum
mers did falute, Shewing by a pair of dice their desire to play *“ with the prince,” which they managed with so much complaisance and skill, that the prince won of them a bowl, a cup, and a ring of gold, and the queen and lords, each, a ring of gold. Afterwards, having been feasted with a sump tuous banquet, they had the honour of dancing with the young prince and the nobility, and so the ceremony was concluded'. Matthew Paris informs us, that at the magnificent marriage of Henry the third with Eleanor of Provence, in the year 1236, certain strange pageants, and wonderful devises, were displayed in the city of London; and that the number of HISTRIONES on this occasion was in
* Stowe's Surv. Lond. pag. 71. edit. 1599. 4to. It will perhaps be said, that this new was not properly a PAGEANT but a MUMMERY. But these are frivolous
diftinctions: and, taken in a general view,
finite". But the word histrio, in the Latin writers of the barbarous ages", generally.comprehends the numerous tribe
I will cite the passage more at large, and in the words of the original.
" Con“ venerunt autem vocata ad convivium so nuptiale tanta nobilium multitudo utri
usque sexus, tanta religiosorum nume“ rositas, tanta plebium populositas, tanta
HISTRIONUM Varietas, quod vix eos “ civitas Londoniarum sinu suo capaci “ comprehenderet. Ornata eft igitur ci“ vitas tota olofericis, et vexillis, coronis, " et palliis, cereis et lampadibus, et qui“ busdam prodigiofis ingeniis et portentis, “ &c." Hist. p. 406. edit. Tig. 1589. fub Henrico ü. Here, by the way, the expression Varietas histrionum plainly implies the comprehensive and general meaning of the word histRIO; and the multifarious performances of that order of men. Yet in the Injunctions given by the Barons to the religious houfes, in the year 1258, there is an article which seems to shew, that the Histriones were sometimes a parricular species of public entertainers. " HISTRIONUM LUDI non videantur vel “ audiantur, vel permittantur fieri, coram :s abbate vel monasticis." Annal. Burton. p. 437. Oxon. 1684. Whereas minstrels, harpers, and juglers, were notoriously permitted in the monasteries. We cannot ascertain whether Ludi here means plays, then only religious : LUDI theatrales in churches and church-yards, on vigils and festivals, are forbidden in the Synod of Exeter, dat. 1287. cap. xiii. Concil. Magn. Brit. per Wilkins. . tom. ii. p. 140. col.
1737 fol. 'I cannot omit the opportunity of adding a striking instance of the extraordinary freedom of speech, permitted to these people, at the most solemn celebrities. About the year 1250, king Henry the third, passing some time in France, held a most magnificent feast in the great hall of the knights-templars at Paris ; at which, befide his own suite, were present the kings of France and Navarre, and all the nobility of France. The walls of the hall were hung all over with shields, among which was that of our king Richard the first.
Just before the feast began, a JOCULATOR, or minstrel, accosted king Henry thus. “ My lord, why did you invite so many “ Frenchmen to feast with you in this “ hall ? Behold, there is the shield of " Richard, the magnanimous king of Eng. “ land !- All the Frenchmen present will “ eat their dinner in fear and trembling!" Matt. Paris. p. 871. sub. HENR. iii. edit. Tigur. 1589. fol. Whether this was a preconcerted compliment, previously suggested by the king of France, or not, it is equally a proof of the familiarity with which the minstrels were allowed to address the most eminent personages.
w There is a passage in John of Salil. bury much to our purpose, which I am obliged to give in Latin, “ At eam (defi
diam] noftris prorogant HISTRIONES. “ Admiffa funt ergo SpecTACULA, et in“ finita lenocinia vanitatis.--Hinc mimi,
Jalii vel faliares, balatrones, emiliani, gladiatores, palæfrite, gignadii, prasigiatores, malefici quoque multi, et tota JOCULATORUM SCENA procedit. Quo
rum adeo error invaluit, ut a præclaris “ domibus non arceantur etiam illi, qui “ obfcænis partibus corporis, oculis omnium ro
eam ingerunt turpitudinem, quam eru“ bescet videre vel cynicus. Quodque “ magis mirere, nec tunc ejiciuntur, quan" do TUMULTUANTES INFERIUS crebro
Sonitu aerem fædant, et turpiter inclu“ Jum turpius prédunt. Veruntamen quid in " fingulis poffit aut deceat, animus fapien“ tis advertit, nec APOLOGos refugit, aut “ NARRATIONES, aut quæcunque spec
TACULA, dum virtutis, &c." POLYCRAT. lib. i. cap. viii. p. 28. edit. Lugda
Here, GignadII, a word ụnexplained by Du Cange, fignifies wrestlers, or the performers of athletic exercises: for gignasium was used for gymnasium in the barbarous Latinity. By apologos, we are perhaps to understand an allegorical story or fable, such as were common in the Provencial poetry; and by narrationes, tales of chivalry: both which were recited at feftivals by these HISTRIONES. Spectacula !
of mimics, juglers, dancers, tumblers, musicians, ministrels, and the like public practitioners of the recreative arts, with which those ages abounded : nor do I recollect a single instance in which it precisely bears the restrained modern interpretation.
As our thoughts are here incidentally turned to the rudiments of the English stage., I must not omit an anecdote, entirely new, with regard to the mode of playing the MYSTERIES at this period, which yet is perhaps of much higher antiquity. In the year 1487, while Henry the seventh kept his residence at the castle at Winchester, on occafion of the birth of prince Arthur, on a sunday, during the time of dinner, he was entertained with a religious drama called Christi DescenSUS AD INFEROS, or Christ's descent into bell'. It was represented by the Pueri ElEEMOSYNARII, or choirboys, of Hyde abbey, and saint Swithin’s priory, two large monasteries at Winchester. This is the only proof I have ever seen of choir-boys acting in the old Mysteries : nor
need not explain : but here seems to be thin folio volume on vellum, containpointed out the whole system of antient ing upwards of two hundred short moral exhibition or entertainment. I must add tales in Latin profe, which I also class another pertinent passage from this writer, under the A POLOGI here mentioned by whom the reader will recollect to have John of Salisbury. Some are legendary, flourished about the year 1140.
« Non others romantic, and others allegorical. « facile tamen crediderim ad hoc quem Many of them I believe to be translations
quam impelli poffe litteratorem, ut from the Provencial poetry. Several of
HISTRIONEM profiteatur. Gestus the Efopian fables are intermixed. In * fiquidem EXPRIMUNT, rerum utilitate this collection is Parnell's HERMIT, De “ deducta.” Ibid. lib. viii. cap. xii. p. ANGELO et Heremita Peregrinum occifum 514. [Compare Blount's Ant. TENURES, fepelientibus, Rubr. 32. fol. 7. And a tale, p. 11. HEMINGSTON.]
I think in Fontaine, of the king's fon who With regard to APOLOGI, mentioned never saw a woman. Rubr. 8. fol. 2. The above, I have farther to obferve, that the stories seem to have been collected by an Latin metrical apologues of the dark ages, Englishman, at least in England : for are probably translations from the Proven there is, the tale of one Godfrey, a priest cial poetry. Of this kind is Wircker's of Suffex. Rubr. 40. fol. 8. MSS. Harl. SPECULUM STULTORUM, or BURNELL's 463. The ftory of Parnell's Hermit is Ass, See fupr. vol. i. p. 419. And the in Gefta Romanorum, MSS. Harl. 2270. Asinus PænITENTIARIUS, in which ch. lxxxx. an ass, wolf, and fox, are introduced, con * See fupr. vol. i. p. 236. feq. fefsing their fins, &c. See Matt. Flacius, y Registr. Priorat. S. Swithin. Wintor. Catal. Teft. Verit. pag. 903. edit. 1556. MS. ut supr. In the British museum there is an antient