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in the patent granted to the Prince Palatine's players in 1612; in a new patent granted to Burbage's Company in 1620;* and also in Charles I.'s patent to Hemings and Condell in 1625. Morals, properly so called, however, had disappeared from the stage long before this last date, though something of their peculiar character still survived in the pageant or masque. It may be observed that there is no mention of morals, any more than of miracle-plays, in the catalogue of the several species of dramatic entertainments which Shakspeare has put into the mouth of Polonius in Hamlet, and in which he seems to glance slyly at the almost equally extended string of distinctions in the royal patents.
Of the greater number of the plays that are recorded to have been produced in the first twenty years after the appearance of Gorboduc, only the names have been preserved, from which it cannot in all cases be certainly determined to what class the piece belonged. From the lists, extracted from the accounts of the Master of the Revels, of those represented before the court between 1568 and 1580, and which no doubt were mostly the same that were exhibited in the common playhouses, it appears probable that, out of fifty-two, about eighteen were founded upon subjects of ancient history or fable ; twenty-one upon modern history, romances, and stories of a more general kind; and that, of the remainder, seven were comedies, and six morals.t “ Of these fifty
* See it, printed for the first time, in Collier, i. 416.
+ See the lists in Collier, iii. 24, 25. But compare the list given by Mr. P. Cunningham at the end of his Extracts from the Accounts of the Revels at Court in the Reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I.,' printed for the Shakespeare Society. 8vo. Lond. 1842. Some items in Mr. Col
two dramatic productions,” Mr. Collier observes,
not one can be said to have survived, although there may be reason to believe that some of them formed the foundation of plays acted at a later period.” Among the very few original plays of this period that have come down to us is one entitled Damon and Pytheas, which was acted before the queen at Christ Church, Oxford, in September, 1566, and was the production of Richard Edwards, who, in the general estimation of his contemporaries, seems to have been accounted the greatest dramatic genius of his day, at least in the comic style. His Damon and Pytheas does not justify their laudation to a modern taste ; it is a mixture of comedy and tragedy, between which it would be hard to decide whether the grave writing or the gay is the rudest and dullest. The play is in rhyme, but some variety is produced by the measure or length of the line being occasionally changed. Mr. Collier thinks that the notoriety Edwards attained may probably have been in great part owing to the novelty of his subjects ; Damon and Pytheas being one of the earliest attempts to bring stories from profane history upon the English stage. Edwards, however, besides his plays, wrote many other things in verse, some of which have an ease, and even an elegance, that neither Surrey himself nor any other writer of that age has excelled. Most of these shorter compositions are contained in the miscellany called the Paradise of Dainty Devices, which, indeed, is stated on the title-page to have been “devised and written for the most part" by lier's classification may be questioned. For example, the story of Titus and Gisippus is not a “classical subject drawn from ancient history or fable.”
Edwards, who had, however, been dead ten years when the first edition appeared in 1576. Among them are the very beautiful and tender lines, which have been often reprinted, in illustration of Terence's apophthegm,
“ Amantium iræ amoris redintegratio est;" or, as it is here rendered in the burthen of each stanza,
“ The falling out of faithful friends renewing is of love." Edwards, who, towards the end of his life, was appointed one of the gentlemen of the Chapel Royal and master of the queen's singing-boys, “united,” says Warton, 66 all those arts and accomplishments which minister to popular pleasantry: he was the first fiddle, the most fashionable sonnetteer, the readiest rhymer, and the most facetious mimic, of the court." * Another surviving play produced during this interval is the Tragedy of Tancred and Gismund, founded upon Boccaccio's wellknown story, which was presented before Elizabeth at the Inner Temple in 1568, the five acts of which it consists being severally written by five gentlemen of the society, of whom one, the author of the third act, was Christopher Hatton, afterwards the celebrated dancing lord chancellor. The play, however, was not printed till 1592, when Robert Wilmot, the writer of the fifth act, gave it to the world, as the title-page declares, “newly revived, and polished according to the decorum of these days.” The meaning of this announcement, Mr. Collier conceives to be, that the piece was in the first instance composed in rhyme; but, rhymed plays having by the year 1592 gone out of fashion even on the public stage, Wilmot's reviving and polishing consisted
* Hist. of Eng. Poet. iv. 110.
chiefly in cutting off many of the "tags to the lines," or turning them differently. The tragedy of Tancred and Gismund, which, like Gorboduc, has a dumb show at the commencement and a chorus at the close of every act, is, he observes, “the earliest English play extant the plot of which is known to be derived from an Italian novel." To this earliest stage in the history of the regular drama belong, finally, some plays translated or adapted from the ancient and from foreign languages, which doubtless also contributed to excite and give an impulse to the national taste and genius in this department. There is extant an old English printed version, in rhyme, of the Andria of Terence, which, although without date, is believed to have been published before 1530; and the moral, or interlude, called Jack Juggler, which is founded upon the Amphitruo of Plautus, appears from internal evidence to have been written in the reign of Edward VI. or Mary, though not printed till after the accession of Elizabeth. These early and very rude attempts were followed by a series of translations of the tragedies of Seneca, all likewise in rhyme,
the first of which, the Troas, by Jasper Heywood, son of the celebrated John Heywood, was published in 1559 ; the second, the Thyestes, also by Heywood, in 1560; the third, the Hercules Furens, by the same hand, in 1561; the fourth, the Edipus, by Alexander Nevyle, in 1563; the fifth and sixth, the Medea and the Agamemnon, by John Studley, in 1566. The Octavia, by Thomas Nuce, was entered on the Stationers' Books in the same year, but no copy of that date is now known to exist. Versions of the Hyppolytus and the Hercules Oetaeus * Hist. Dram. Poet. iii. 13.
by Studley, and of the Thebais by Thomas Newton, were added when the whole were republished together, in 1581, under the title of “Seneca his Ten Tragedies translated into English.” Of the authors of these translations, Heywood and Studley in particular “ have some claim,” as Mr. Collier remarks, “ to be viewed in the light of original dramatic poets ; they added whole scenes and choruses wherever they thought them necessary.” But Heywood and his coadjutors in this undertaking do not appear to have had any view of bringing Seneca upon the English stage; nor is it probable that any of their translated dramas were ever acted. In 1566, however, “The Supposes,' a prose translation by George Gascoigne from Gli Suppositi of Ariosto, and another play, in blank verse, entitled “Jocasta,' taken from the Phoenisse of Euripides, by Gascoigne and Francis Kinwelmarsh, were both represented at Gray's Inn. The Jocasta was, therefore, the second English play written in blank verse. “ It is,” says Warton, “partly a paraphrase and partly an abridgment of the Greek tragedy. There are many omissions, retrenchments, and transpositions. The chorus, the characters, and the substance of the story are entirely retained, and the tenor of the dialogue is often preserved through whole scenes. Some of the beautiful odes of the Greek chorus are neglected, and others substituted in their places, newly written by the translators.” * These substitutions, however, sometimes display considerable poetic talent; and the versification throughout the piece, both in the old metre (in which the choral passages are written) and in the new, flows with a facility and smoothness which, as
* Hist. Eng. Poet. iv. 197.