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and the poetry, and must, therefore, content ourselves with extracting the following songs :
THE TAYLORS AND SHEAREMENS PAGANT.
THE FIRST AND THE LASTE THE SHEPHEAP.DS SINGE
AND THE SECOND OR MIDDLEMOST THE WOMEN SINGE.
Thomas Mawdycke die decimo tertio Maij anno dni millessimo quingentesimo nonagesimo primo, Praetor fuit ciuitatis Couentriae D. Mathaeus Richardsou tunc Consules
Johanes Whitehead & Thomas Grauener.
As I out rode this enderes night
Lully lulla th" littell tiné child
By by lully lullay
O sisters too how may we do
Herod the king in his raging
That woe is me póre child for thee
Doune from heaven from heaven so hie
We are also reluctantly obliged to omit altogether the interesting descriptions and accounts of the processions on Corpus Christi Day, Midsummer and St. Peter's Eves; of the “Judas Torches,” the “Cressets," the “Streamers," the
Giants,” and all the minute pomp and circumstance of the pageants. The volume abounds with ingenious illustrations of many of those national and local customs, which are among the happiest associations of our younger years, the minstrels, waits, and puppets, which our infant feelings welcomed in their turn.
By the records of these companies, we find that the exhibition of these pageants first ceased or intermitted during the years 1580, 1, 2, 3. The clergy, about this period, became hostile to the public performance of the sacred dramas; and the higher orders of society and men in power had embraced protestantism. The people were occasionally gratified by the revival of the pageants, but they were gradually discountenanced, and at length altogether suppressed or abandoned. The growing knowledge and taste, bowever, of the times established the noble superstructure of the early English drama on the ruins of the religious mysteries : Shakspeare, Ben Jonson, and Massinger, cum multis aliis, those household gods of our literature, soon commanded the worship of succeeding generations.
We can now only briefly state, that Mr. Sharp's Dissertation on the Coventry Mysteries is a most laborious and valuable addition to our present scanty stock of materials towards a complete history of the early periods of the drama and the stage. On the first announcement of the publication we did hope to have seen the chasm in that history filled up, because, perhaps, we considered Mr. Sharp eminently qualified to undertake and execute the arduous work : but for what he has done, he is entitled to the thanks and gratitude of the literary world. Some of the details are necessarily dull and prolix, but they were essential to the subject and completeness of the work; and the volume is free from that antiquarian affectation, so puerile and disgusting in many of the illustrators of “olden times," with whom anything mouldy, worm-eaten, or ragged, is a passport to favour and extravagant praise. The wood-cuts,
and different graphic illustrations, are well executed. We only regret the limited publication, and the high price, (250 copies of the small paper, at three guineas each,) of a work which, in handsome octavo, would have ranged in every library of standard plays. This, like the niggardly impression of the RoxburghClub reprints, is the very reverse of the liberal encouragement of literature; it is a system of monopoly which confines the knowledge of these works to those only who can afford to pay extravagant prices for works of which such men are seldom very assiduous readers. A copy of Mr. Markland's Chester Mysteries, at the sale of Mr. Rhodes' library, in 1825, sold for £18; a thin quarto of seventy pages! We trust we shall live to see the day when men.of rank and fortune will devote a portion of their income to the reprint of standard literature for public circulation and public libraries; and to defray the expense of publications, the subjects of which, though highly valuable, may not be of themselves sufficiently popular to obtain a remunerating number of purchasers. The burning of copies to create uniques, and the miserly reprint of thirty copies, with the boasted destruction of the types and plates, is a barbarous, gothic, and dibdin-ous monopoly of knowledge, unworthy the era of the printing press. Such self-elected patrons of literature are aliens in the republic of letters.
Menestrier (Bayle. Dict. art. Chocquet) asserts, that the pilgrimages first introduced the devout representations of the early mysteries. Dr. Burney considers the Oratorio (which commenced with the priests of the Oratory, a brotherhood founded in Rome, in 1540) only a mystery, or morality in music; in other words, a musical drama. The Protestants and Catholics, alternately, used the stage and drama as an instrument of controversy, each party, of course, alternately complaining of its licentiousness, when the object of dramatic hostility. The Protestant Liturgy, restored at the accession of Elizabeth after its suppression under Mary, was attacked by innumerable ballads, farces, and interludes. We have not space for an entertaining collection of the statutes and councils of the church, which from time to time regulated, and at length abolished, all religious plays as “pestiferous and noysome to the peace of the church."* We may, perhaps, introduce these in a future article on the persecution of the drama by the Puritans. There is no existing memorial of the representation of mysteries since the latter end of the sixteenth century. The acting of plays in churches, was finally prohibited by a proclamation of Henry VIII. in 1542; their performance on Sundays,
* Stat. 34, 35. Hen. VIII. c. 1.
however, was continued by the choristers of St. Paul's cathedral and the chapel royal, so late as the reign of Charles I.
Let those who are disposed to ridicule these rude beginnings and infancy of the drama, and these Catholic superstitions, remember that the troubadours and the minstrels were the parents of the sublime inventions of the Italian poets and their disciple Spenser: and that the pantomimes, the improvisatori, and extempore comedy, were the nurseries of the epic poets of the middle ages. As popular amusements, which brought together all classes of the community, they were of peculiar and essential service to the civilization of the people; and, as Warton has observed, in an elegant and philosophical tribute to their use, were of great service " not only in teaching the great truths of Scripture to men who could not read the bible, but in abolishing the barbarous attachment to military games, and the bloody contentions of the tournament, which had so long prevailed as the sole species of popular amusement. Rude, and even ridiculous, as they were, they softened the manners of the people, by diverting the public attention to spectacles in which the mind was concerned, and by creating a regard for other arts than those of bodily strength and
Art. VII.- Memoires du Maréchal de Bassompierre, contenans
l'Histoire de sa vie, et de ce qui s'est fait de plus remarquable à la cour de France pendant quelques années. Amsterdam. 4 vols. 1723,
Among the possessors of that peculiar combination of qualities of which France has always been supposed to have furnished the original archetype, history does not, perhaps, present us with one more splendidly endowed, than the hero and the author of these memoirs. “ He was the most remarkable man, (says the author of the preface to the last volume,) of his day, for brilliancy and vivacity of wit; this is seen in his replies, on all occasions. He knew all the secrets of the court, all its gallantries, the motive of the elevation of one favourite, and the downfall of another. Who could be better fitted to transmit all these things to posterity ?" Born of a long line of illustrious ancestors, connected with the most powerful nobility of Germany and France, instructed in every art that could form an accomplished gentleman and a graceful cavalier, handsome,
captivating, brave, acute, and witty, beloved and trusted by his successive sovereigns, admired by all men, adored by all women, he offers to our view one of those stars of chivalry and courtly grace, which have so long dazzled the world, and fixed all eyes upon the brilliant and fortunate few, for whose pleasure it seemed as if all mankind were created. The history of France, indeed, as gathered from her exhaustless mine of memoirs, is little more than the history of the struggles and intrigues of a few families for power and wealth ; for the means, in short, of gratifying their vanity, or their senses. Scarcely do we recollect to have found so much as a mention of the millions of obscure and laborious men, out of whose toil or blood this harvest of pleasure or glory was to be gathered. This, treating as they do of public affairs, is strikingly characteristic of all this amusing class of books, and of none more than the one before us. The state of France, during the period comprised within these memoirs, exhibits the most astonishing contrast of elegance and barbarism. Although the distractions of the league were at an end, and Henry the fourth had sacrificed his religion to heal the wounds of the state, and to reconcile all parties, yet there was little security for person and property; and the factions which divided the kingdom only awaited the death of that monarch, (who, though far enough from being the hero of romance, or the faultless ruler which some have represented him, had yet those qualities which inspire, at once, fear and love,-dauntless courage, great decision, and a frank, kind, and cordial nature,) to renew their feuds, and to desolate the kingdom afresh. The profligacy of manners, in tho widest sense of the word, is such as has never, we think, been surpassed, and bears more resemblance to those of Abyssinia, as described by Bruce, than of any other age or nation we remember. It is impossible not to draw a comparison very much in favour of the contemporary English Nobility. Probably, the long and bloody civil wars, the uncertain succession, the great and urgent demand for prudence, on the part of sovereigns like Henry VII. and Elizabeth, whose way to the throne was full of uncertainty and danger, and whose possession of it was not unattended with doubt and alarm, might give a more sedate and temperate character to the court. Probably, also, the triumph of the reformed religion bad a considerable effect, as encouraging habits of thought and speculation, in all classes. Great as were the vices of her internal government, arbitrary as were her own measures, and unprincipled as were many of her agents and favourites, the age and court of Elizabeth must yet be regarded as fertile in great men; great in arts, arms, letters, and even in those rarer qualities of integrity and humanity, which appear to have been little appreciated in France.