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and consent of his dearest uncle Edward duke of Somerset, and the rest of his highnesse Privie Councell, straightly chargeth and commandeth all and everie his Majesties subjects, of whatsoever state, order, or degree they be, that from the ninth day of this present month of August untill the feast of All-saints next comming, they nor any of them, openly or secretly PLAY IN THE ENGLISH TONGUE, any kind of ENTERLUDE, PLAY, DIALOGUE, or other matter set forth in form of PLAY, in any place publick or private within this realm, upon pain, that whosoever shall PLAY in ENGLISH any such PLAY, ENTerlude, DIALOGUE, or other MATTER, shall suffer imprisonment, or other punishment at the pleasure of his Majestie"." But when the short date of this proclamation expired, the reformers, availing themselves of the stratagems of an enemy, attacked the papists with their own weapons. One of the comedies on the side of the reformation still remains". But the writer, while his own religion from its simple and impalpable form was much less exposed to the ridicule of scenic exhibition, has not taken advantage of that opportunity which the papistic ceremonies so obviously afforded to burlesque and drollery, from their visible pomp, their number, and their absurdities; nor did he perceive an effect which he might have turned to his own use, suggested by the practice of his catholic antagonists in the drama, who, by way of recommending their own superstitious solemnities, often made them contemptible by theatrical representation.
This piece is entitled, An Enterlude called LUSTY JUVENTUS: lively describing the Frailtie of youth: of Nature prone to vyce: by Grace and Good Councell traynable to vertues. The author, of whom nothing more is known, was one R. Wever, as appears from the colophon: "Finis, quod R. Wever. Imprinted at London in Paules churche yarde
It was a good world, when we had sech
And to our Lady of Grace:
Then had we chyldren plentye:
Now is there not one to twentye.
In another place, the old philosophy is ridiculed. Signat. E. v. where Hypocrisy says,
by Abraham Vele at the signe of the Lambe." Hypocrisy is its best character, who laments the loss of her superstitions to the devil, and recites a long catalogue of the trumpery of the popish worship in the metre and manner of Skelton'. The chapter and verse of Scripture are often announced; and in one scene, a personage, called God's MERCYFULL PROMISES, cites Ezekiel as from the pulpit :—
The Lord by his prophet Ezekiel sayeth in this wise playnlye,
From this interlude we learn, that the young men, which was natural, were eager to embrace the new religion, and that the old were unwilling to give up those doctrines and modes of worship, to which they had been habitually attached, and had paid the most implicit and reverential obedience, from their childhood. To this circumstance the devil, who is made to represent Scripture as a novelty, attributes the destruction of his spiritual kingdom.
The old people would beleve stil in my lawes,
In old traditions as made by men,
But they wyll llyve as the Scripture teacheth them."
The devil then, in order to recover his interest, applies to his son Hypocrisy, who attempts to convert a young man to the ancient faith, and says that the Scripture can teach no more than that God is a good manTM, a phrase which Shakspeare with great humour has put into the mouth of Dogberry*. But he adds an argument in jest, which the papists sometimes seriously used against the protestants, and which, if we consider the poet's ultimate intention, had better been suppressed:
The world was never mery,
Now every boy will be a teacher,
The father a foole, and the chyld a preacher."
It was among the reproaches of protestantism, that the inexperienced and the unlearned thought themselves at liberty to explain the Scriptures, and to debate the most abstruse and metaphysical topics of theological speculation. The two songs in the character of YOUTH, at the opening and close of this interlude, are flowery and not inelegant".
From Bale's Three Lawes above mentioned, Sign. B. v.
Here have I pratye gynnes,
Unto idolatrye, &c.
Ibid. p. 159.
The protestants continued their plays in Mary's reign; for Strype has exhibited a remonstrance from the Privy-council to the lord President of the North, representing, that "certain lewd [ignorant*] persons, to the number of six or seven in a company, naming themselves to be servants of sir Frauncis Lake, and wearing his livery or badge on their sleeves, have wandered about those north parts, and representing certain Plays and Enterludes," reflecting on her majesty and king Philip, and the formalities of the mass a. These were familyminstrels or players, who were constantly distinguished by their master's livery or badge.
When the English liturgy was restored at the accession of Elizabeth, after its suppression under Mary, the papists renewed their hostilities from the stage; and again tried the intelligible mode of attack by ballads, farces, and interludes. A new injunction was then necessary, and it was again enacted in 1559, that no person, but under heavy forfeitures, should abuse the Common Prayer in "any Enterludes, Plays, songs or rimes"." But under Henry the Eighth, so early as the year 1542, before the reformation was fixed or even intended on its present liberal establishment, yet when men had begun to discern and to reprobate many of the impostures of popery, it became an object of the legislature to curb the bold and seditious spirit of popular poetry. No sooner were the Scriptures translated and permitted in English, than they were brought upon the stage: they were not only misinterpreted and misunderstood by the multitude, but profaned or burlesqued in comedies and mummeries. Effectually to restrain these abuses, Henry, who loved to create a subject for persecution, who commonly proceeded to disannul what he had just confirmed, and who found that a freedom of inquiry tended to shake his ecclesiastical supremacy, framed a law, that not only Tyndale's English Bible, and all the printed English commentaries, expositions, annotations, defences, replies, and sermons, whether orthodox or heretical, which it had occasioned, should be utterly abolished; but that the kingdom should also be purged and cleansed of all religious plays, interludes, rhymes, ballads, and songs, which are equally pestiferous and noysome to the peace of the church.
Henry appears to have been piqued as an author and a theologist in
*[So in Puttenham's Arte of Poesie, "making the lewd well learned."-PARK.]
a Eccl. Mem. iii. Append. lii. p. 185. Dat. 1556. Sir Francis Lake is ordered to correct his servants so offending.
newly perused and amended. Translated out of base Almayne into Englysh." Without date, in duodecimo. It seems to have been printed abroad. Our author was the founder of one of the numerous offsets of calvinistic fanaticism, called the Family of Love.
b Ann. i. Eliz.
One Henry Nicholas a native of Amsterdam, who imported his own translations of many enthusiastic German books into England, about the year 1550, translated and published, "COMOEDIA, a worke in rhyme, conteyning an interlude of Myndes witnessing man's fall from God and Cryst, set forth by H. N. and by him
Stat. Ann. 34, 35. Henr. VIII. cap. i. Tyndale's Bible was printed at Paris 1536. [I know not of any such. Mr. Warton must mean Mathews's in 1537.-HERBERT.]
SECT. XLVII.] EFFECTS OF THE TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE. 177
adding the clause concerning his own INSTITUTION OF A CHRISTIAN MAN, which had been treated with the same sort of ridicule. Yet under the general injunction of suppressing all English books on religious subjects, he formally excepts, among others, some not properly belonging to that class, such as the CANTERBURY TALES, the works of Chaucer and Gower, CHRONICLES, and STORIES OF MENS LIVES. There is also an exception added about plays, and those only are allowed which were called MORALITIES, or perhaps interludes of real character and action, "for the rebuking and reproaching of vices and the setting forth of virtue." MYSTERIES are totally rejected. The reservations which follow, concerning the use of a corrected English Bible, which was permitted, are curious for their quaint partiality, and they show the embarrassment of administration, in the difficult business of confining that benefit to a few, from which all might reap advantage, but which threatened to become a general evil, without some degrees of restriction. It is absolutely forbidden to be read or expounded in the church. The lord chancellor, the speaker of the house of commons, captaines of the wars, justices of the peace, and recorders of cities, may quote passages to enforce their public harangues, as has been accustomed. A nobleman or gentleman may read it, in his house, orchards, or garden, yet quietly, and without disturbance "of good order." A merchant also may read it to himself privately. But the common people, who had already abused this liberty to the purpose of division and dissensions, and under the denomination of women, artificers, apprentices, journeymen, and servingmen, are to be punished with one month's imprisonment, as often as they are detected in reading the Bible either privately or openly.
It should be observed, that few of these had now learned to read. But such was the privilege of peerage, that ladies of quality might read "to themselves and alone, and not to others," any chapter either in the Old or New Testament. This has the air of a sumptuary law, which indulges the nobility with many superb articles of finery, that are interdicted to those of inferior degrees. Undoubtedly the duchesses and countesses of this age, if not from principles of piety, at least from mo
d Stat. Ann. 34, 35. Henr. VIII. Artic. vii. e Ibid. Artic. ix.
f Ibid. Artic. x. seq.
And of an old DIETARIE FOR THE CLERGY, I think by archbishop Cranmer, in which an archbishop is allowed to have two swans or two capons in a dish, a bishop two; an archbishop six blackbirds at once, a bishop five, a dean tour, an archdeacon two. If a dean has four dishes in his first course, he is not afterwards to have custards or fritters. An archbishop may have six snipes, an archdeacon only two. Rabbits, larks, pheasants, and partridges, are allowed in these proportions.
A canon residentiary is to have a swan only on a Sunday; a rector of sixteen marks, only three blackbirds in a week. See a similar instrument, Strype's Parker, Append. p. 65.
In the British Museum, there is a beautiful manuscript on vellum of a French translation of the Bible, which was found in the tent of king John, king of France, after the battle of Poictiers. Perhaps his majesty possessed this book on the plan of an exclusive royal right. [As perhaps there were few such copies in that great kingdom, and very little spirit of reading in the laity.—ASHBY.]
tives of curiosity, became eager to read a book which was made inaccessible to three parts of the nation. But the partial distribution of a treasure to which all had a right could not long remain. This was a MANNA to be gathered by every man. The claim of the people was too powerful to be overruled by the bigotry, the prejudice, or the caprice of Henry.
I must add here, in reference to my general subject, that the translation of the Bible, which in the reign of Edward the Sixth was admitted into the churches, is supposed to have fixed our language, It certainly has transmitted and perpetuated many ancient words which would otherwise have been obsolete or unintelligible. I have never seen it remarked, that at the same time this translation contributed to enrich our native English at an early period, by importing and familiarising many Latin words.
These were suggested by the Latin vulgate, which was used as a medium by the translators. Some of these, however, now interwoven into our common speech, could not have been understood by many readers even above the rank of the vulgar, when the Bible first appeared in English. Bishop Gardiner had therefore much less reason than we now imagine, for complaining of the too great clearness of the translation, when with an insidious view of keeping the people in their ancient ignorance, he proposed, that instead of always using English phrases, many Latin words should still be preserved, because they contained an inherent significance and a genuine dignity, to which the common tongue afforded no correspondent expressions of sufficient energy1.
To the reign of Edward the Sixth belongs Arthur Kelton, a native of Shropshire or Wales. He wrote the CRONICLE OF THE BRUTES in English verse. It is dedicated to the young king, who seems to have been the general patron; and was printed in 1547. Wood allows that
h More particularly in the Latin derivative substantives, such as, divination, perdition, adoption, manifestation, consolation, contribution, administration, consummation, reconciliation, operation, communication, retribution, preparation, immortality, principality, &c. &c. and in other words, frustrate, inexcusable, transfigure, concupiscence, &c. &c.
i Such as, idololatria, contritus, holocausta, sacramentum, elementa, humilitas, satisfactio, ceremonia, absolutio, mysterium, penitentia, &c. See Gardiner's proposals in Burnet, Hist. Ref. vol. i. B. iii. p. 315. And Fuller, Ch. Hist. B. v. Cent. xvi. p. 238.
* Lond. Octavo. [16mo.] Pr. "In the golden time when all things."
[Herbert, who possessed a copy of the book, has thus imparted the title: "A Chronycle with a genealogie declaryng
that the Brittons and Welshmen are lineallye dyscended from Brute. Newley and very wittely compyled in metre." Imp. by Richard Grafton. It appears to have been written (he adds) in the time of king Henry VIII., but he dying before it was printed, the author then dedicated it to king Edward VI. Typ. Ant. i. 523. Richard Harvey, the brother of Gabriel, published a prose tract in 1593, entitled "Philadelphus, or a defence of Brutes and the Brutans history," but of Arthur Kelton's work no notice is taken. It opens with a personal invective against Buchanan for his rejection of the Brute tradition, proceeds with an affected division of his subject into three portions, which he terms Anthropology, Chronology and Topography, and concludes with three sarcastic "supposes of a student concerning Historie." The tract is pompous, pedantic