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lating to the murder of Abel. It is opened by Cain's ploughboy, called Garçon, with a sort of prologue, in which, among other things, he warns the spectators to be silent. It commences thus:— “All hayll, all hayll, both blithe and glad, For here com I, a mery lad. Be peasse youre dyn, my masters bad, Or els the devill you spede. . . . . . Felowes, here I you forbede To make nother nosise ne cry: Whoso is so hardy to do that dede, The devill hang hym up to dry.”
Cain enters with a plough and team, one of his mares being named ‘Donnyng': he quarrels with the Garçon, because he will not drive for him ; after which Abel arrives, and wishes that ‘God may speed Cain, and his man'.-Cain replies unceremoniously, desiring his brother, in plain terms, to kiss the least honourable part of his person. The murder afterwards takes place, and Cain hides himself:— ‘AXeus. Cayn, Cayn ! Caym. Who is that callis me? I am yonder, may thou not se. AXeus. Cayn, where is thy brother Abell? Cayn. What asks thou me?—I trow, in hell; At hell, I trow, he be: Who so were ther then myght he se.’
Cain, having been cursed, calls the boy, and beats him “but to use his hand': he acknowledges that he has slain his brother, and the boy advises running away, lest ‘the bayles us take'. This is followed by some gross buffoonery, Cain making a mock proclamation ‘in the King's name', and the boy repeating it blunderingly after him. Cain sends him away with the plough and horses, and ends the pageant with a speech to the spectators, bidding them farewell for ever, before he goes to the devil. This brings us, in the Widkirkplays, to Noah's flood.
The two earlier plays of the Chester series are occupied with the same period and incidents of Scripture Chester history. The first opens with a long speech from Plays. the Deity, asserting his power and glory, in alliterative rhyme, and calling himself,
‘Prince principall proved in my perpetuall provydence.’
The rebellion of Lucifer occurs before the creation of the world, the chief adherent of the Devil being a fiend named ‘Light-burne'. After they are expelled, we hear of another companion of Lucifer, called ‘Ruffyn’; and, in a dialogue between them, they resolve “to make mankinde to doe amisse', before in fact man has been formed. The second pageant comprises the creation, and the temptation" and fall: after this event the direction in the margin is, that Adam and Eve shall cover genitalia sua cum foliis, whereas until then staðunt nudi, et most verecundabuntur. They are driven out of Paradise, Abel is killed, and Cain cursed. During this piece, ‘mynstrells playinge' is noted in the margin four times, in order to relieve its tediousness, as it is not enlivened by any comic speech or incident. The same events are included in the first two of the Coventry plays * the rebellion of the angels, the Coventry creation, the temptation, and the fall of man, follow Plays.
* The stage-direction before the temptation is, ‘then the serpent shall come up out of a hole'; and the devil is described as “walking’ near Adam and Eve at the same time.
* In the old copy there is some error in numbering the Pageants, the second being numbered 3. Probably the first, which is long, was originally divided.
each other. When the Deity asks the Devil why he seduced Adam and Eve 2 Satan replies —
“I shall these] sey wherfor and why
Cain's sacrifice not being accepted, he exclaims— <> y
‘What I thou stynkyng losel, and is it so P
After the murder, Deus says:—
Asoyle my qwestyon anon ryght.
‘Caym.—My brother's keper [w]ho made me?
This Pageant, like those of Widkirk and Chester, ends with the malediction of Cain, who exclaims — ‘Alas, alas ! whedyr may I go?
I dare never se man in the vesage :
I am woundyn as a wreche in wo,
Unprofytabyl and vayn also
I may nevyr make merthe mo.”
The third Widkirk Pageant is entitled Processus Noe cum filiis. After Noah has lamented the sinfulness of Widkirk the world, God is introduced repenting that he had Plays. created mankind, instructing Noah how to build the ark, and blessing him and “his fry'. Noah's wife is of a very quarrelsome disposition, and they have a contest in the commencement, in which both swear by the Virgin Mary : her complaint is, that her husband does no work for his family; and he soon afterwards sets about the Ark, which is completed on the spot in nomine patris, et filii, et spiritus sancti. He then warns his wife of what is about to happen, and invites her to seek shelter on board :— ‘AVoe.—Raine as it is skill," Here must us abide grace : Therfor, wife, with good will Come into this place. Oxor—Sir, for Jak nor for Gill, Will I turn my face, Till I have on this hill Spon a space On my rok. Well were he might get me : Now will I downe set me, Yet reede I no man let me,” For drede of a knok. AVoe.—Behold to the heven The cataractes all They are open, full even Grete and small ; And the planets seven Left has their stall.
As it may or will. * Yet I advise no man to hinder me.
Thise thoners and levyni
Full stout, -
Oxor—Yei, Noe, go cloute thy shone,”
The wives of their sons intercede in vain, and Noah is at last obliged to threaten his wife with the whip.
‘AVoe.—In fayth, for youre long tarying
Oxor.—Spare me not, I pray the ;
AVoe.—Abide, dame, and drynk,
They then begin a personal conflict, the wife not taking her castigation at all patiently: she, however, gets the worst of it, and wishes her own husband dead, and the same good luck to all the wives among the spectators: Noah, on the other
* Thunders and lightning. ° Make. * Noah's description in prose of the falling flood is by no means unpoetical:—‘Behold the heavens ! All the cataracts, both great and small are open, and the seven planets have quitted their stations. Thunders and lightning strike down the strong halls and bowers, castles and towers.’ 4 Run. - * Go nail thy shoes. * Lick or taste of the whip. 7 Till.