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first as part of the Church service on special occasions. At Easter, for example, during the singing of the mass, four priests, representing the angel and the three women bearing spices, acted simply and reverently the scene at the Holy Sepulcher. Later, other stories from the Bible and legends of the saints were represented in short scenes or plays, independently of the Church service. These gradually passed out of the hands of the clergy, and came to be acted (about 1350) in English, the language of the people, by members of the craft guilds, usually on movable platforms drawn through the streets of the larger towns. These plays were called Miracle Plays, because they dealt with wonderful or supernatural subjects. In some towns, as York and Chester, a complete cycle of such plays was given, representing the Bible story in a continuous series from the Creation or the Fall of Satan to Doomsday. Each guild presented a scene, - the shipwrights, for example, the building of the ark; the fishers and mariners, Noah and the flood. The platform on which the players acted was called a pageant, and resembled a huge box on wheels, divided into two stories or tiers. The lower story was commonly enclosed by curtains and was used as a dressing-room; the upper, which was open at the sides, was the stage. The spectators assembled in groups at various places in the town, at the street corners, the town-cross, or the gates, and the pageants were drawn from group to group. Each pageant performed only one play in the series, and as one pageant followed another in regular succession, each group of spectators would, by remaining at the same spot, see the whole series of plays. Sometimes scaffolds were used instead of the movable stages. Naturally this drama, which was popular in all parts of England

especially during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries,

was very real, to actors and spectators alike. It was the expression of their most vital beliefs; and yet, though its purpose and subject were religious, it contained certain purely comic and essentially human elements which led to the later development of the non-religious drama.

The Moral Play or Morality. Beside the Miracle play, there was another kind of play with a religious purpose, the Moral Play or Morality. Its object was to teach a moral lesson by showing in the form of an allegory every man's lifelong struggle with the various temptations which are the common enemies of mankind. Instead of telling the story of the Bible in whole or in part, the Moral Play taught the difference between abstract right and wrong. In the Castle of Perseverance, for example, we see the hero, who represents Mankind, attended by a good and an evil angel; we see him yielding to various temptations, personified as the World, Pleasure, Folly, and the like, and finally saved through repentance and confession. The moral play of Everyman forces home upon the mind and conscience of the hearer a conviction of the shortness of human life and of the vanity of merely earthly interests. The almost unequaled power of this play consists in the universal importance of its theme. The experience of Everyman is, or will be, ours; each hearer moves toward the grave with him, and sees in his struggles and shortcomings the image of his own.

The earliest moral play extant dates from the reign of Henry VI (1422-1461), but mention is made of some still earlier.

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Interludes. A third kind of play that preceded the regular drama was the Interlude, a short scene or dia

logue, often played between (interludo) the courses of a banquet, or between two serious scenes in a miracle play. The interlude existed for the pleasure, not the instruction, of the spectator, and hence in purpose was like the later drama rather than the older miracle or moral plays. The speakers in these witty conversations are not personifications as in the moralities; they are characters taken from real life, as Johan the husband and Tyb his wife, a Pardoner, a Friar, or a Curate. The most important interludes were composed by JOHN HEYWOOD (1500-1565), a wit, musician, and poet of Henry VIII's court, and were produced before the king as independent plays.

The importance of the religious drama is brought home to us when we note that it existed in England for approximately five hundred years. It began shortly after the Norman Conquest and was not entirely displaced until after the time of Shakespeare's youth. In the period of its greatest popularity it went almost wherever the Church went. Plays of the medieval type were performed in one hundred and twenty-five recorded places in England, Ireland, and Scotland. They were acted in Edinburgh, in Aberdeen, in Dublin; and even in Cornwall, in the Cornish tongue. They were one of the most important means of popular education.

Relation of Miracle and Moral Plays to the Elizabethan Drama. This early drama, although full of interest for the student, has, as a rule, but little poetic merit. Yet the miracle and morality plays, with all their uncouthness and deficiencies, were sustained and elevated by their stupendous themes; they dealt with issues so universal, that later dramatists could hardly escape treating them again, although in a different form. In fact there is a very real and vital relation between

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the miracle and morality plays and the Elizabethan drama. We find allusions to this older drama in Shakespeare and other Elizabethan playwrights, and here and there we come upon an actual thread of connection. The Vice, who, dressed as a Court fool, supplied the comic element in the morality plays, survives in a more elevated form in Shakespeare's clowns and jesters. But above all we must remember that for hundreds of years before Marlowe and Shakespeare, this religious drama fostered and kept alive a love of play-going among the English people. It made the drama a national amusement, a popular possession. These early plays, essentially serious and moral, changed and supplemented as they were by the new ideas and fresh inspiration brought by the Renaissance, were a basis for the drama of later time.

Beginning of the Regular Drama. — In making the transition from the Interlude to the regular drama which was characterized by fuller development of plot and by more careful division into acts and scenes England was helped by the example of the classic, and particularly of the Latin, writers. The first regular comedy, Ralph Roister Doister (about 1540), by Nicholas Udall, was written in imitation of the Latin comic dramatist Plautus; the first tragedy, Gorboduc, or Ferrex and Porrex (acted 1561), by Sackville and Norton, while it dealt with a subject in the legendary history of England, followed the style of the Latin tragic poet Seneca. But the forces creating the drama in England were too strong and original to make it a mere classic imitation. The comedy of Gammer Gurton's Needle, a coarse and graphic study of rustic life, was produced about 1552-53. It is significant that this little play is truly English, both in matter and in spirit. The English drama might

borrow from Rome or Italy, but it had originality and

character of its own.

Patriotism and the Drama. Among the native forces thus shaping a new drama out of medieval miracle plays or classic adaptations was the intense patriotic pride which, in the days of the Spanish Armada, stirred England to a deep interest in her history. Antiquarians and historians were searching the old chronicles, and relating the story of England's past. Poets told of England's glory in long narrative and descriptive poems, or in ballads celebrating great victories. All these writers were bidding people

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"Look on England,

The Empress of the European isles,

The mistress of the ocean, her navies
Putting a girdle round about the world."

Naturally this interest in England's past found expression in the drama. Among the early works of this class are, The Famous Victories of Henry V, acted before 1588, and The Troublesome Raign of King John, printed in 1591. From these we pass to a higher order of drama in Edward II, by Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare's great predecessor, until we reach the climax of England's patriotic drama in the work of Shakespeare himself. The English historical drama was thus a native growth brought into being by a genuine national impulse. Shakespeare's Predecessors. Under these circumstances the Elizabethan drama took its rise. About 1580 we find the drama rapidly taking form in London through the work of a group of rising dramatists, a number of whom brought from the universities a tincture of the new learning. Many of these playwrights lived in a wild, Bohemian fashion, haunting low taverns, and consorting with the vilest company. Their means

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