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tion of religious interludes, which abounded in Germany. They are in Latin, and not taken from Legends but the Bible.
The puritans were highly offended at these religious plays now revived. But they were hardly less averse to the theatrical representation of the christian than of the gentile story. Yet for different reasons. To hate a theatre was a part of their creed, and therefore plays were an improper vehicle of religion. The heathen fables they judged to be dangerous, as too nearly resembling the superstitions of popery *.
A very late scripture-play is "A newe merry and witte comedie or enterlude, newlie imprinted treating the history of JACOB AND ESAU," &c. for H. Bynneman, 1568. 4to. Bl. lett. But this play had appeared in queen Mary's reign, "An enterlude vpon the history of Jacobe and Esawe," &c. Licenced to Henry Sutton, in 1557. REGISTR. STATION. A. fol. 23. a. It is certain, however, that the fashion of religious interludes was not entirely discontinued in the reign of queen Elisabeth. For, I find licenced to T. Hackett in 1561, "A newe enterlude of the ij synnes of kynge Dauyde." Ibid. fol. 75. a. And to Pickeringe in 1560-1, the play of queen Esther. Ibid. fol. 62. b. Again, there is licenced to T. Colwell, in 1565, "A playe of the story of kyng Darius from Esdras." Ibid. fol. 133. b. Also "A pleasaunte recytall worthy of the readinge contaynynge the effecte of iij worthye squyres of Daryus the kinge of Persia," licenced to Griffiths in 1565. Ibid. fol. 132. b. Often reprinted. And in 1566, John Charlewood is licenced to print "An enterlude of the repentance of Mary Magdalen." Ibid. fol. 152. a. Of this piece I have cited an antient manuscript. Also, not to multiply instances, Colwell in 1568 is licenced to print "The playe of Susanna." Ibid. fol. 176. a.
Ballads on Scripture subjects are now innumerable. Peele's DAVID AND BATHSHEBA is a remain of the fashion of scripture-plays. I have
mentioned the play of HOLOFERNES acted
at Hatfield in 1556. LIFE OF SIR THOMAS POPE, p. 87. In 1556, was printed "A ballet intituled the historye of Judith and Holyfernes." REGISTR. ut supr. fol. 154, b. And Registr. B. fol. 227. In Hearne's Manuscript COLLECTANEA there is a licence dated 1571, from the queen, directed to the officers of Middlesex, permitting one John Swinton Powlter, "to have and use some playes and games at or uppon nine severall sondaies," within the said county. And because greate resorte of people is lyke to come thereunto, he is required, for the preservation of the peace, and for the sake of good order, to take with him four or five discreet and substantial men of those places where the games shall be put in practice, to superintend duringe the contynuance of the games or playes. Some of the exhibitions are then specified, such as Shotinge with the brode arrowe, The lepping for men, The pitchynge of the barre, and the like. But then follows this very general clause, " With all suche other games, as haue at anye time heretofore or now be lycensed, used, or played." COLL. MSS. Hearne, tom. Ixi. p. 78. One wishes to know, whether any interludes, and whether religious or profane, were included in this instru
IT appears, however, that the cultivation of an English style began to be now regarded. At the general restoration of knowledge and taste, it was a great impediment to the progress of our language, that all the learned and ingenious, aiming at the character of erudition, wrote in Latin. English books were written only by the superficial and illiterate, at a time when judgment and genius should have been exerted in the nice and critical task of polishing a rude speech. Long after the invention of typography, our vernacular style, instead of being strengthened and refined by numerous compositions, was only corrupted with new barbarisms and affectations, for want of able and judicious writers in English. Unless we except sir Thomas More, whose DIALOGUE ON TRIBULATION, and HISTORY OF RICHARD THE THIRD, were esteemed standards of style so low as the reign of James the First, Roger Ascham was perhaps the first of our scholars who ventured to break the shackles of Latinity, by publishing his ToxOPHILUS in English; chiefly with a view of giving a pure and correct model of English composition, or rather of shewing how a subject might be treated with grace and propriety in English as well as in Latin. His own vindication of his conduct in attempting this great innovation is too sensible to be omitted, and reflects light on the revolutions of our poetry. "As for the Lattine or Greeke tongue, euerye thinge is so excellentlye done in Them, that none can do better. In the Englishe tongue contrary, euery thing in a maner so meanlye, both for the matter and handelinge, that no man can do worse. For therein the learned for the most part haue bene alwayes most redye to write. And they which had least hope in Lattinc haue bene most bould in
Englishe: when surelye euerye man that is most ready to talke, is not most able to write. He that will write well in any tongue, must folow this counsell of Aristotle; to speake as the common people do, to thinke as wise men do.. And so shoulde euerye man vnderstand him, and the iudgement of wise men allowe him. Manye Englishe writers haue not done so; but vsinge straunge wordes, as Lattine, French, and Italian, do make all thinges darke and harde. Ones I communed with a man, which reasoned the Englishe tongue to be enriched and encreased thereby, sayinge, Who will not prayse that feast where a man shall drincke at a dinner both wyne, ale, and beere? Truly, quoth I, they be al good, euery one taken by himselfe alone; but if you put Malmesye and sacke, redde wyne and white, ale and beere, and al in one pot, you shall make a drinke neither easye to be knowen, nor. yet holsome for the bodye. Cicero in folowing Isocrates, Plato, and Demosthenes, encreased the Lattine tongue after another sort. This way, because diuers men that write do not know, they can neyther folow it because of their ignoraunce, nor yet will prayse it for uery arrogancy: : two faultes seldome the one out of the others companye. Englishe writers by diuersitie of tyme haue taken diuers matters in hand. In our fathers time nothing was red, but bookes of fayned cheualrie, wherein a man by readinge should be led to none other ende but only to manslaughter and baudrye. If anye man suppose they were good enough to passe the time withall, he is deceiued. For surely vaine wordes do worke no smal thinge in vaine, ignorant, and yong mindes, specially if they be geuen any thing thervnto of their owne nature. These bookes, as I haue heard say, were made the most part in abbayes and monasteries, a very likely and fit fruite of such an ydle and blind kind of livinga. In our time
a He says in his SCHOOLEMASTER, written soon after the year 1563, "There be more of these vngracious bookes set out in print within these few monethes, than have bene seene in England many
score years before." B. i. fol. 26. a. edit. 1589. 4to. [These ungracious books could not be recent productions of monasteries, says Dr. Ashby, and quere as to the fact?-PARK.]
now, when euery man is geuen to know much rather than liue wel, very many do write, but after such a fashion as very many do shoote. Some shooters take in hande stronger bowes than they be able to maintaine. This thinge maketh them sometime to ouershoote the marke, sometime to shoote far wyde and perchance hurt some that loke on. Other, that neuer learned to shoote, nor yet knoweth good shaft nor bowe, will be as busie as the best."
Ascham's example was followed by other learned men. But the chief was Thomas Wilson, who published a system of LOGIC and RHETORIC both in English. Of his LOGIC I have already spoken. I have at present only to speak of the latter, which is not only written in English, but with a view of giving rules for composing in the English language. It appeared in 1553, the first year of queen Mary, and is entitled, THE ARTE OF RHETORIKE* for the use of all suche as are studious of Eloquence, sette forthe in Englishe by THOMAS WILSON. Leonarde Cox, a schoolmaster, patronised by Farringdon the last abbot of Reading, had published in 1530, as I have observed, an English tract on rhetoric, which is nothing more than a technical and elementary manual. Wilson's treatise is more
To all the Gentlemen and Yomen of ENGLAND. Prefixed to ToxOPHILUS, The Schole or partition of shooting, Lond.
* [Puttenham tells us that "Master secretary Wilson, giving an English name to his Arte of Logicke, called it Witcraft." Qu. whether this term was not the conceit of Raphe Lever, who in 1573 published "The Arte of Reason, rightly termed Witcraft, teaching a perfect way to argue and dispute.' This quaint author was fond of new devised terms, whence he uses Speachcraft for rhetoric, and forespeach for preface. Dudley Fenner, who has before been mentioned as a puritan preacher, (supr. p. 142.) printed at Middleburgh in 1584, "The Artes of Logike and Rethorike, plainly set forth in the English tongue; together with examples for
the practise of the same," &c. These examples and their illustrations are constantly drawn from Scripture.-PARK.]
Lond. 1553. 4to. Dedicated to John Dudley, earl of Warwick. In the Dedication he says, that he wrote great part of this treatise during the last summer vacation in the country, at the house of sir Edward Dimmoke. And that it originated from a late conversation with his lordship, 66 emonge other talke of learnyng." It was reprinted by Jhon Kingston in 1560. Lond. 4to. With "A Prologue to the Reader," dated Dec. 7. 1560. Again, 1567, 1580, and 1585. 4to. In the PROLOGUE, he mentions his escape at Rome, which I have above related: and adds, "If others neuer gette more by bookes than I have doen, it wer better be a carter than a scholar, for worldlie profite."
liberal, and discursive; illustrating the arts of eloquence by example, and examining and ascertaining the beauties of composition with the speculative skill and sagacity of a critic. It may therefore be justly considered as the first book or system of criticism in our language. A few extracts from so curious a performance need no apology; which will also serve to throw light on the present period, and indeed on our general subject, by displaying the state of critical knowledge, and the ideas of writing, which now prevailed.
I must premise, that Wilson, one of the most accomplished scholars of his time, was originally a fellow of King's College, where he was tutor to the two celebrated youths Henry and Charles Brandon dukes of Suffolk. Being a doctor of laws, he was afterwards one of the ordinary masters of requests, master of saint Katharine's hospital near the Tower, a frequent embassador from queen Elisabeth to Mary queen of Scots, and into the Low-countries*, a secretary of state and a privy counsellor, and at length, in 1579, dean of Durham. He died in 1581. His remarkable diligence and dispatch in negotiation is said to have resulted from an uncommon strength of memory. It is another proof of his attention to the advancement of our English style, that he translated seven orations of Demosthenes, which, in 1570, he dedicated to sir William Cecille.
Under that chapter of his third book of RHETORIC which treats of the four parts belonging to elocution, Plainnesse, Aptnesse, Composicion, Exornacion, Wilson has these observa
d Admitted scholar in 1541. A native of Lincolnshire. MS. Hatcher. [From a Prologue to the reader before the second edition of his Rhetoric in 1560, we learn that he was in Italy and at Rome in 1558, where he was
"coumpted an heretike," for having written his two books on Logic and Rhetoric, where he underwent imprisonment, was convened before the college of Cardinals, and narrowly escaped with life to England, "his deare countrie, out of greate thraldome and forrein bondage."-PARK.]
e Which had been also translated into
Latin by Nicholas Carr. To whose version Hatcher prefixed this distich. [MSS. More. 102. Carr's Autograph. MS.]
Hæc eadem patrio Thomas sermone Wilsonus, patrii gloria prima soli. polivit
Wilson published many other things. In Gabriel Harvey's SMITHUS, dedicated to sir Walter Mildmay, and printed by Binneman in 1578, he is ranked with his learned cotemporaries. See SIGNAT. D iij.—E ij.—I j.
[Barneby Barnes has a sonnet in