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have been used, as several of the characters enter and go out on horseback." The same remark will apply both to the Widkirk Collection of plays, and to those in the volume called Ludus Coventriae : in the latter, indeed, “the place', and ‘the mid place', are mentioned as the scene of part of the action ; and there can be no doubt, from the terms of some of the stage directions, that two, three, and even four scaffolds were erected round a centre, the performers proceeding, as occasion required, from one to the other across “the mid place’.” Without entering more at large into this point, which will be illustrated in the course of the examination of the productions themselves, it may be observed, that in one Widkirk play Cain is exhibited at plough with a team of horses; and in another it is absolutely necessary for the story, that something like the interior of a cottage should be represented, with a peasant's wife in bed, who pretends to have been just delivered of a child, which lies by her side in a cradle. The castella picta, enumerated among the properties of the fraternity of Corpus Christi at York, were probably, as before remarked, ornamented scaffolds, employed in the exhibition
* Strutt (Mammers and Customs, iii, 130) says that the early stage consisted of “three several platforms or stages raised one above another’. According to the Histoire du Théâtre Français (Paris, 1745, ii, 290), this was the contrivance sometimes resorted to abroad. When Ze Mistore de /a Passion was played at Antwerp, in 1486, ‘Le Théatre étoit construit au bas des Halles. Il y avoit cinq Eschafauds a plusieurs étages, couverts d’ardoises: le Paradis, qui étoit le plus élevé, contenoit deux étages.” When it had previously been performed on the plain of Veximiel, there were nine stages ‘de haut, ency comme degrés'. (Ibid. ii, 285.)
* This must also have been the case in the exhibition of the ZX:gby Miracle-play of Mary Magdalem, in which a castle and a ship were introduced, as will be seen hereafter. The ‘place', termed Žlacea, and a mons, are also mentioned in the stage directions.
of the Miracle-plays of that city in the commencement of the fifteenth century. . In the following pages, a synoptical and comparative view is attempted of the three sets of Miracle-plays already enumerated, in order to show the manner in which the same subject was treated in different parts of the kingdom. This plan affords, also, the opportunity of pointing out such alterations as appear to have taken place at various dates; proceeding upon the not unlikely supposition, that Miracle-plays were originally introduced into the populous districts of the kingdom nearly contemporaneously.
w1DKIRK, CHESTER, AND COVENTRY
THE PROCLAMATION OF THE PIAYS.
THE Widkirk Miracle-plays, as they have come down to us, are without any introductory matter. The Chester Whitsun plays are preceded by a kind of proclamation (called ‘the Banes', or Banns), which was made by certain Vexillators, or Standard-bearers, in various parts of the city on St. George's day, before the commencement of the performances. It goes through the subjects of the whole series of plays, attributes the authorship to ‘Don Rondall, a monk of Chester Abbey', and excuses the introduction of “some things, not warranted by any writ', on the ground that it was done ‘to make sport', and to “glad the hearers'." The following stanza seems to prove that ‘the Banes' were written not long after the completion of the Reformation.
‘As all that shall see them shall most welcome be,
* Harl, M.S., No. 1944, is a copy of Archdeacon Rogers's collections regarding Chester, which contains a curious addition to this introduction. An excuse is there made for ‘the crafts-men' by whom the plays were to be represented, who were not so well qualified as the ‘players of price', who might have been employed. It shows also, as might be proved from many authorities, that formerly those who played God usually had ‘the
VOL. II. -- G
With the age or tyme wherein we presentlye staye,
The Chester-plays began on Whit-Monday, and continued until Wednesday. By a similar proclamation, which also details the subjects of all the forty plays in the volume called Ludus Coventriae, it appears, that the plays began on a Sunday, at six in the morning ; and that they were acted at other places besides Coventry is to be concluded from the fact, that the letter N is placed for the AWomen of the town, which was to be filled up, as occasion required, by the person making the proclamation. It is addressed to “gentles and yeomanry', and, contrary to ‘the Banes' at Chester, it asserts that no ‘fables' are intermixed with ‘holy writ'.-The conclusion is as follows: ‘Now have we told yow, all be dene," The hool mater that we thynke to play: Whan that ye come ther shall ye sene This game wel pleyd in good aray. Of holy wrytte this game shall bene, And of no fablys be no way.
face gilt'; and it requests, that as this gilding “disfigured the man’, the omission of the Deity might be pardoned, and that the audience would not expect God “to appear in shape or person', but in ‘a cloudy covering'. Whatever might be the particular nature of these performances at that time, it is clear that they took place within some building, for those who did not approve them were desired to withdraw, as ‘open is the doore'.
In Mr. Sharp's work on the Coventry plays is an entry under the date of 1490, of “a cheverel gyld for Ihe’, meaning a gilt beard for Jesus’. In one of the Moral plays formerly in the Collection of Dr. Cox Macro, and then in that of Mr. Hudson Gurney, Wisdom is introduced as a character, with his hair and beard gilt and curled.
be deme---i. e., obediently.
Now god them save from trey and tene, 1
CREATION OF THE WORLD.—REBELLION OF LUCIFER.—
IDEATH OF ABEL.
THE first Play, or Pageant, of the Widkirk collection includes the Creation, with the rebellion and expulsion Widkirk of Lucifer and his adherents. The Deity thus com- Plays.
II, CII CCS.
“Ego sum alpha et O :
The work of creation is then begun, and after the cherubim have sung, the Deity descends from his throne and goes out : Lucifer usurps it, and asks the angels
‘Gay felows, how semys now me?’
The good and bad angels disagree as to his appearance : but the dispute is terminated by the return of the Deity, who expels Satan and his adherents from Heaven. Adam and Eve are then created in Paradise, and this piece ends with a speech from Satan, lamenting their felicity. Of the temptation and fall of man we hear nothing, the second play re
* Treachery and sorrow.