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Ballads that illustrate Shakspeare. Our great dramatic poet having occasionally quoted many ancient ballads, and even taken the plot of one, if not more, of his plays from among them, it was judged proper to preserve as many of these as could be recovered, and, that they might be the more easily found, to exhibit them in one collective view.

This Second Book is therefore set apart for the reception of such ballads as are quoted by Shakspeare, or contribute in any degree to illustrate his writings : this being the principal point in view, the candid reader will pardon the admission of some pieces that have no other kind of merit.

The design of this book being of a dramatic tendency, it may not be improperly introduced with a few observations ON THE ORIGIN OF THE ENGLISH STAGE, and ON THE CONDUCT OF OUR FIRST DRAMATIC POETS, a subject which, though not unsuccessfully handled by several good writers already,* will yet perhaps admit of some further illustration.

ON THE ORIGIN OF THE ENGLISH STAGE,

&c. It is well known that dramatic poetry in this and most other nations of Europe, owes its origin, or at least its revival, to those religious shows, which in the dark ages were usually exhibited on the more solemn festivals. At those times they were wont to represent in the churches the lives and miracles of the Saints, or some of the more important stories of Scripture. And as the most mysterious subjects were frequently cbosen, such as the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Christ, &c., these exhibitions acquired the general name of MYSTERIES. At first they were probably a kind of dumb shows, intermingled, it may be, with a few short speeches; at length they grew into a regular series of connected dialogues, formally divided into acts and scenes. Specimens of these in their most improved state (being at best but

artless compositions) may be seen among Dodsley's Old Plays, and in Osborne's Harleyan Miscel. How they were exhibited in their most simple form, we may learn from an ancient novel, often quoted by our old dramatic poets, * entitled ... a merye Jest of a man that was called How leglas, † &c., being a translation from the Dutch language, in which he is named Ulenspiegle. Howleglas, whose waggish tricks are the subject of this book, after many adventures comes to live with a priest, who makes him his parish-clerk. This priest is described as keeping a leman, or concubine, who had but one eye, to whom Howleglas owed a grudge for revealing his rogueries to his master. The story thus proceeds,

poor

* Bp. Warburton's Shakesp. vol. v. p. 338.—Pref. to Dodsley's Old Plays.Riccoboni's Acct. of Theut. of Europe, &c. &c. These were all the author had seen when he first drew up this Essay.

“ And than in the meane season, while Howleglas was parysh clarke, at Easter they should play the Resurrection of our Lorde : and for because than the men wer not learned, nor could not read, the priest toke his leman, and put her in the grave for an Aungel: and this seing Howleglas, toke to him iij of the simplest persons that were in the towne, that played the iij Maries; and the person si. e. parson or rector] played Christe, with a baner in his hand. Than saide Howleglas to the symple persons : Whan the Aungel asketh you, whom you seke, you may saye, The parsons leman with one iye. Than it fortuned that the tyme was come that they must playe, and the Aungel asked them whom they sought; and than sayd they, as Howleglas had shewed and lerned them afore, and than answered they, We seke the priests leman with one iye. And than the prieste might heare that he was mocked. And whan the priestes leman herd that, she arose out of the grave, and would have smyten with her fist Howleglas upon the cheke, but she missed him and smote one of the simple persons that played one of the thre aries; and

* See Ben Jonson's Poetaster, act iii. sc. 4, and his Masque of The Fortunate Isles. Whalley's edit, vol. ii. p. 49, vol. vi. p. 190.

+ Howleglas is said in the Preface to have died in M.cccc.L. At the end of the book, M.ccc.l.

he gave her another; and than toke she him by the heare [hair]; and that seing his wyfe, came running hastely to smite the priestes lemap ; and than the priest seeing this, caste down hys baner and went to helpe his woman, so that the one gave the other sore strokes, and made great noyse in the churche. And than Howleglas seyng them lyinge together by the eares in the bodi of the churche, went his way out of the village, and came no more there.” *

As the old Mysteries frequently required the representation of some allegorical personage, such as Death, Sin, Charity, Faith, and the like, by degrees the rude poets of those unlettered ages began to form complete dramatic pieces, consisting entirely of such personifications. These they entitled Moral Plays, or Moralities. The Mysteries were very inartificial, representing the Scripture stories simply according to the letter. But the Moralities are not devoid of invention : they exhibit outlines of the dramatic art; they contain something of a fable or plot, and even attempt to delineate characters and manners. I have now before me two that were printed early in the reign of Henry VIII. ; in which I think one may plainly discover the seeds of Tragedy and Comedy; for which reason I shall give a short analysis of them both.

One of them is intitled Ebery Man.t The subject of this piece is the summoning of Man out of the world by Death; and its moral, that nothing will then avail him but a well-spent life and the comforts of religion. This subject and moral are opened in a monologue spoken by the Messenger (for that was the name generally given by our ancestors to the prologue on their rude stage):

* C. Emprynted ... by WUyllyam Copland : without date, in 4to. bl. let. among Mr. Garrick's Old Pluys, K. vol. x.

+ This play has been reprinted by Mr. Hawkins in his Origin of the English Drama, 3 vols. 12mo. Oxford, 1773. See vol. i, p. 27.

then God * is represented; who, after some general complaints on the degeneracy of mankind, calls for Deth, and orders him to bring before his tribunal Every-man, for so is called the personage who represents the human race. Every-man appears, and receives the summons with all the marks of confusion and terror. When Deth is withdrawn, Every-man applies for relief in this distress to Fellowship, Kindred, Goods, or Riches, but they successively renounce and forsake him. In this disconsolate state he betakes himself to Good-dedes, who, after upbraiding him with his long neglect of her,† introduces him to her sister Knowledge, and she leads him to the “ holy man, Confession,who appoints him penance: this he inflicts upon himself on the stage, and then withdraws to receive the sacraments of the priest. On his return he begins to wax faint, and after Strength, Beauty, Discretion, and Five Wits I have all taken their final leave of him, gradually expires on the stage; Good-dedes still accompanying him to the last. Then an Aungell descends to sing his requiem: and the epilogue is spoken by a person called Doctour, who recapitulates the whole, and delivers the moral :

“C. This memoriall men may have in mynde,

Ye herers, take it of worth old and yonge,
And forsake Pryde, for he disceyveth you in thende,
And remembre Beautè, Five Witts, Strength, and Discrecion,
They all at last do Every-man forsake ;
Save his Good Dedes there dothe he take :
But beware, for and they be small,
Before God he hath no helpe at all,” &c.

* The second person of the Trinity seems to be meant. + Those above mentioned are male characters.

# i. e. The five Senses. These are frequently exhibited as five distinct personages upon the Spanish stage ; (see Riccoboni, p. 93,) but our moralist has represented them all by one character.

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