John Matthews Manly.

Specimens of the pre-Shakesperean drama, with an introd., notes, and a glossary (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryJohn Matthews ManlySpecimens of the pre-Shakesperean drama, with an introd., notes, and a glossary (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 37)
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StbenRum press Series



With an Introduction, Notes, and a Glossary





This is the silliest stuff that e'er I heard !

The best in this kind are but shadows ;
and the worst are no worse, if imagi-
nation amend them.






tEIjc athenaeum






ffrancts James CbfK)



SOME four years ago it became clear that the two volumes
originally announced as the scope of this book would not suffice.
In the first place, a good many minute but not insignificant facts
regarding the history of almost every period of the drama had
come to light, making necessary a somewhat longer historical
sketch than was originally planned. In the second place, it
seemed not merely desirable, but even imperative, to illustrate
certain phases of the early drama which had in collections of a
similar character either been neglected or not sharply denned
against the apparently monotonous background of mediaeval
dramatic art. Thirdly, a somewhat different kind of annotation
from that hitherto provided seemed worth attempting, if these
volumes were to serve as an effective introduction to an art as
spacious and as hospitable as the mediaeval Church, and to
render intelligible and vital to the student forms of art so differ-
ent from ours in aim, in spirit, in method, in conventions, and in
material accessories. A plan for a three-volume edition was
therefore submitted to the general editors of the series and to
the publishers, who readily agreed to any change that would
make the book more useful and interesting.

At the suggestion and request of some teachers who wish to
use the book, the texts have been put together in two volumes,
and the whole of the illustrative and explanatory material reserved
for the third. It is hoped that this arrangement will make the
volumes more convenient for use.

Preceding the main body of texts will be found certain docu-
ments which, though, for one reason or another, not entitled to a
place among the main texts, are nevertheless indispensable in a
book of this kind. Taken together, they represent various stages
of the liturgical drama, without which the inter-relations of the


Scripture cycles will be altogether misunderstood. The first two
of them are dramatic tropes of the office of Easter. The third
presents a later form of the same trope, very highly developed
within itself, but free from the accretions by which this dramatic
office grew into a cyclic drama of the life of Christ. The fourth
has a twofold interest : it is, perhaps, the only extant example of
a MS. prepared for the use of a single actor and containing only
his part and his cues ; and it also affords an interesting glimpse of
the vernacular liturgical drama as presented in the churches during
the florescence of the craft-plays.

I should have been glad to include in this preliminary section
an example of the Latin cycle developed by the combination of
such separate plays as the Easter plays just mentioned ; but,
although it can hardly be doubted that such cycles existed in
England, no text of English origin has yet come to light. I have
felt less regret at my inability to include a Latin miracle-play
of English origin, because, although miracle-plays, in the strict
sense of the term, were common in England from the time of
their origin to the sixteenth century, there is a total lack of docu-
ments illustrating the stages of development of this species of
play, the earliest extant English example being The Play of the

In the main body of texts, Part I is devoted entirely to the
craft-cycles and their congeners. It will be observed that the
arrangement adopted is that of the order of the subjects in cos-
mical history. For obvious reasons, an arrangement based on
the order of composition of the cycles would have been sometimes
impossible and sometimes misleading ; and in a book of this kind
it seemed more desirable to present materials for giving the stu-
dent some conception of the nature and effect of the cyclic drama
as a whole than to try to illustrate the inter-relations of the cycles,
a line of inquiry which demands, indeed, a more elaborate
equipment both of knowledge and of documents than seems to
have been suspected even by some serious investigators. My
choice of pageants was not, however, entirely determined by the
wish to present an artificial cycle. It seemed desirable, in the
first place, that all the extant cycles should be represented (the


Newcastle Noah play has been omitted on account both of its
fragmentary character and its corrupt text), and, secondly, that
the representative pageants should each have some specific claim
to attention. Thus, the two Norwich pageants afford the only
known example of a pageant and the substitute which later took
its place. The Towneley Noah, with its characteristically Eng-
lish conception of Noah's wife, justifies itself. The Hegge Noah
is included both as a contrast to this and as containing in the
Lamech episode an English example of a farce, in the original
sense of the word. Whether the Brome Abraham and Isaac
belongs to a cycle or is an isolated play, it clearly could not be
omitted. The Towneley Isaac and Jacob pageants are included,
not only because, in ten Brink's opinion, they are the most primi-
tive of all the pageants, but also because of their remarkable
combination of intensity of conception and phrasing with a sim-
plicity not to say nakedness of presentation. The Chester
Balaam pageant affords, in the version here given, an unparal-
leled example of the transition stage of the Processus Prophe-
tarum, and, although unknown to Sepet when he wrote Les Pro-
phetes du Christ, confirms in an interesting manner his theory of
the development and influence of the pseudo-Augustinian sermon.
The question of the additions and excisions by which this version
was reduced to the ordinary form must, of course, be reserved for
the Notes. The Hegge Salutation and Conception contains the
most striking example in English of that debate between the Four
Daughters of God which played so commanding a part in medi-
aeval religious thought. The Towneley Secitnda Pastomm has
so long been recognized as the best extant example of individual-
ization of typical characters and of rapid transition from the far-
cical to the sublime that it is expected in every book of selections.
In the Coventry Plays choice was limited to two ; The Pageant
of the Shearmen and Taylors was selected because it illustrates
so admirably the way in which several originally distinct pageants
were, by force of circumstances, combined into one. A pageant
dealing with the Resurrection seemed to be absolutely demanded
by the importance of the Easter play in the development of the
cyclic drama : the example here given from the York series will be


found to contain reminiscences of the most primitive form of this
strangely fated trope. A treble interest attaches to the Chester
Antichrist pageant, here printed from a hitherto unpublished and
practically unknown MS., a prompt-book antedating by a cen-
tury the other MSS. of this unique play. No English cycle would
be complete without a pageant of the Judgment, that specifically
English development ; and no one, I think, can fail to be impressed
by the dignity and power of the specimen here presented from the
York Plays.

In the artificial cycle thus constructed certain subjects find, of
course, no representation ; but, for all that, the student can obtain
from it a clear and not wholly inadequate conception of the craft-
cycle as a form of the drama. That I have put together pageants
from various sources can hardly, in view of the heterogeneous
character of the cycles themselves and their complex inter-rela-
tions, be a serious objection. And any one who wishes to form
an idea of the distinctive characteristics of the various cycles can,
with the aid of the table of contents, easily bring together the
specimens of each.

Part II contains two religious plays totally unconnected with
the Scripture cycles. The Conversion of St. Paul, therefore, un-
interesting as it is as dramatic literature, can hardly be neglected
by the literary historian. The Play of the Sacrament not only
exhibits the Banes in their real function of a preliminary an-
nouncement of the play, but also claims attention by its entirely
and doubly unique character.

Part III affords illustrations of important phases of dramatic
activity heretofore too little regarded by students. No one who
reads the scanty records of dramatic performances in the fifteenth
and sixteenth centuries, with their constantly recurring notices of
May plays, Robin Hood plays, St. George plays, and sword plays
and dances, will fail to welcome the three Robin Hood plays, or,
in view of the clearly antique elements which form the basis of
the St. George plays and The Revesby Sword Play, cavil at the
introduction of texts so recently committed to writing.

Of the five Moralities forming Part IV little need be said. I
wished to print one of the unpublished Macro plays ; Dr. Fur-


nivall offered me Mankind, and I gladly accepted it. Mundus
et Infans and Hycke-scorner complete the representation of
this important class of Moralities. Every-man has so long
and so justly figured as the most impressive play of its kind
that its omission may need justification. Here I can only say
briefly that, in spite of its enormous influence upon general
European literature, this seemed justified by Logeman's proof
that it is not of English composition, but a translation from the
Dutch, by its accessibility in cheap and convenient form, and by
the fact that the type to which it belongs is sufficiently repre-
sented by the plays just mentioned. Wyt and Science is not only
one of the most perfect allegories extant, but also an excellent
example of the Morality in the service, not of religious, but of
secular education. Nice Wanton is, without doubt, the most
vividly dramatic of all the Moralities.

Hey wood's Johan-Johan, Tyb and Syr JJian I had intended to
print, as being the only one of his interludes possessed of real
dramatic movement ; but instructors will perhaps not regret to
see instead their old favorite, The Foure PJ\

Kynge Johan, Roister Doister, Gammer Gurtorfs Needle, Cam-
bises, Gorboduc, Alexander and Campaspe, James IV, David
and Bethsabe, and The Spanish Tragedy need no comment to
render their significance clear. Marlowe finds no place here,
because he is too important to be represented by anything less
than his complete works, and they are now easily accessible.

Most of the texts here published have been either copied or
collated anew for this book. Collations of The Play of the Sacra
ment and of Mundus et Infans were made under the supervision
of Dr. T. K. Abbot, the Librarian of Trinity College, Dublin.
The copy of Mr. Wynne's MS. of the Antichrist pageant was
made by Mrs. Agnes Furnivall and revised by Dr. F. J. Furnivall.
All other copies and collations were made by Mrs. Furnivall,
whose accuracy has been confirmed by such tests as I have been
able to apply.

In printing the texts I have aimed at fidelity to my originals.
This ideal, however, did not seem to me impaired by the intro-
duction of modern usage in regard to capitals and punctuation.


Upon the latter a good deal of care has been expended, and,
though I cannot hope to have avoided all errors, I do hope that
it will be found in general an aid to the reader and in ambiguous
passages an indication of the most probable interpretation. Atten-
tion has also been devoted to exhibiting the metrical structure of
these poems. The stanza-forms are various and in some casts
confused, but the effort to detach to the eye such parts as possess
definite stanzaic form seemed worth making, if only for the light
thus thrown upon the composite character of certain plays and
the artistic helplessness of the authors of certain others. In these
three matters I have introduced my own system without special
notification and have not recorded variations from it on the part
either of ancient scribes and printers or modern editors. In-
stances in which a different punctuation from mine indicates a
different interpretation will be discussed in the Notes in vol. Ill
when they seem of sufficient importance. In regard to the forms
of certain letters, it is perhaps inconsistent that I should strictly
reproduce ancient usage in regard to z, u, and v, and neglect it in
regard to s ; but I have perhaps often failed to be consistent, and
in this particular matter I may plead precedent as well as the
fact that in textual cruces I have reproduced long s in the foot-
notes. Stage-directions not in the original are printed in brackets.
When I began to print I intended to credit to previous editors
those supplied by them, but the attempt was soon abandoned, as
it became clear that too much space would be required to set
forth that in this instance I had changed the place and in another
the form of a direction supplied by one of my predecessors.
Such a record could, moreover, have scarcely any other interest
than that of curiosity, whereas it is clearly a matter of great im-
portance that the text should not be sophisticated by confusion of
ancient documents with modern conjectures.

With the modifications just noted, I may say in general that I
have made no un indicated alterations in the texts. When the
treatment of a text varies in any particular from that adopted in
general, a distinct account of such difference is given in the head-
note preceding the play ; and I believe it will always be found
possible for the textual critic to learn from text and footnotes


exactly the appearance of the original. Expanded contractions
are, of course, indicated by italics. It will be observed that
in the early plays I have recorded with scrupulous minuteness
the readings of other editions. In the later texts this seemed
both unnecessary and undesirable ; but I have aimed to omit no
variant which, the date of the text being considered, could have
even the slightest significance. On the earlier texts a large number
of conjectural emendations have been printed in various publica-
tions. These I have, for the sake of convenience and complete-
ness, attempted to collect and record. The later plays have, for-
tunately for the editor, not been subjected to so much ingenuity.

A warning must be issued in regard to the footnotes ; it is
never safe to interpret the symbols attached to variants and
emendations without reference to the headnote of the particular
play. For instance, in some plays H. means H alii well, in others
Holthausen ; but perhaps the greatest danger of confusion resides
in the symbol K., which in several plays marks the textual notes
of Professor Kolbing, and in one the readings of an edition by
the printer John Kyng, but never the emendations of Professor
Kittredge, whose suggestions, as being unpublished and communi-
cated directly to me, are always distinguished by his unabbreviated

A word or two in regard to the contents of vol. Ill seem
necessary. It will contain an Introduction, with certain appen-
dices, a body of Notes, and a Glossary. The Introduction will
trace the history of the drama on the Continent as well as in
England from the beginning of the tenth century to the formation
of the Scripture cycles, and then in England alone from that
time to the end of the sixteenth century. In the appendices will
be given a bibliography and lists of places in England at which
performances are known to have occurred before the Age of
Elizabeth, and of persons and places possessing companies of
players, with the nearest ascertainable dates of recorded perform-
ances. A map illustrating the distribution of plays in England
will accompany the list of performances.

The Notes will give information as to date, authorship, place
and mode of presentation, character of costumes, etc., when such


information is obtainable. In the case of plays with international
affiliations the more important parallels and congeners will be
pointed out. Effort will also be made to aid the reader in involved
or obscure passages by explanation and paraphrase, and to empha-
size the dramatic elements as distinct from the literary. Elaborate
linguistic annotation seems inappropriate in a book intended to
aid the study of a form of art, and consequently the linguistic
notes will be confined to passages of obscure or ambiguous sig-
nification. Much of the linguistic information usually given in
notes will be found in the Glossary.

The Glossary will aim to meet the needs of the intelligent stu-
dent who has no training in the older forms of English. It will
therefore include all words obsolete as to either form or meaning
and words which by their strange spelling are likely to elude the
ingenious ; but it will not include words which ought, even in
their strange spelling, to be recognizable by any intelligent English-

The material for vol. Ill has, with the exception of that
published recently, been in hand since the summer of 1893. I
therefore hope that the appearance of that volume need not be
postponed much longer.

The list of persons to whom my thanks are due is a long one.
Would that I might give them a pleasure equal to that with which
I remember their services and here record their names !

First, as to texts. W. R. M. Wynne, Esq., of Peniarth, Wales,
not only allowed me to have copies made of two of his most
interesting MSS., but, with a kindness which I cannot adequately
acknowledge, himself brought them from Peniarth to London for
the use of my copyist, and allowed them to remain in the British
Museum for a longer time than it is pleasant to recall. Dr. F. J.
Furnivall, of London, with his accustomed liberality, allowed me
to have a copy made of his copy of Mankind, and sent me ad-
vance sheets of the Towneley Plays. Miss Lucy Toulmin Smith,
of Oxford, with the generosity of a scholar, was willing that I
should make use of the texts so well edited by her, and the Dele-
gates of the Clarendon Press kindly allowed me to reprint two
pageants from her edition of the York Plays.


Thanks for the loan of books are due to the Rev. Father Shan-
Jelle, S. J., of St. Joseph's School, Providence ; to W. E. Foster,
Esq., the obliging Librarian of the Public Library, Providence ;
and, most of all, to T. J. Kiernan, Esq., Superintendent of Circu-
lation in the Harvard College Library, whose unfailing kindness
and matchless knowledge of the resources of his library are grate-
fully remembered by so many scholars.

For helpful answers to inquiries addressed to them I have to
thank Dr. John Young, Keeper of the Hunterian Museum, Glas-
gow, and the Rev. Canon Fowler and the Rev. Canon Wordsworth,
of Lincoln.

Professor Barrett Wendell, of Harvard University, nearly ten
years ago first awakened my interest in the subject of these volumes.
In the Introduction he will doubtless recognize, as his own, ideas
which, after the lapse of so long a time, I am unable to credit to
their rightful owner. For inspiration, however, I should thank
most of all, were he still alive, my lamented teacher and friend,
to whom I had hoped to offer these volumes, but whose friend-
ship and aid I can now record only in a dedication to his

To Professor J. F. Jameson, of Brown University, and Pro-
fessor A. R. Marsh, of Harvard, I am grateful for interest in my
work and for notification of interesting materials which would
otherwise have escaped me. Professor E. S. Sheldon, of Har-
vard, has been tireless in answering questions in the field of Old
French and in helping me through many a dark and difficult
passage. To Professor G. L. Kittredge, of Harvard, I am in-
debted for aid so various that space fails me not only to record
the instances, but even to enumerate the kinds. With him, from
the very beginning of my work, I have discussed theories and
facts of all degrees of importance ; again and again I have re-
ceived from him notes of books and documents that had escaped
my observation ; and more recently he has done me the inestimable
service of reading with me all the proofs of vol. I and aiding
me in the establishment and punctuation of the text. Some of
his aid I have been able to point out specifically, but much of it
has been such as cannot be recorded.


For such errors as time and criticism may disclose I, of course,
am alone responsible. I have striven to make them few.

In conclusion, I express the hope that these volumes may really
serve the purpose for which they were planned, that of helping
the student to follow the fortunes of the modern drama through its
strange and interesting nonage, to come into sympathy with the
aims and methods of the known and nameless artists whose work
is here presented, and to form some conception of the vast amount
of dramatic activity and the widespread dramatic interest which
made possible the career of Shakspere. Such results cannot be
attained by him who regards even the poorest of these plays as
a mere butt for nineteenth-century ridicule, or who forgets that
the old German playwright touched the root of the whole matter
when he said in regard to his play : " Das wassen vn das laben
diss vnd andren spilen stodt nit alleyn in spriichen, sender vyl
meer im wassen, wiircken vnd gbarden."


BARNSTABLE, Aug. 30, 1897.



DRAMATIC TROPES: I. Regularis Concordia Monachorum . . . xix

II. Winchester Troper xxi

EASTER DRAMATIC OFFICE : St. John's, Dublin xxii



NORWICH WHITSUN PLAYS: Creation and Fall, I i

Creation and Fall, II 4

TOWNELEY PLAYS: Noah's Flood 13

HEGGE PLAYS : Noah and Lamech 31

BROME PLAY : Abraham and Isaac 41


Jacob 60

CHESTER WHITSUN PLAYS: De Mose et Rege Balaak et Balaam

Propheta (Processus Prophetarum) 66

HEGGE PLAYS : The Salutation and Conception 82

TOWNELEY PLAYS : The Second Shepherds' Play (Secunda

Pastorum) 94

COVENTRY PLAYS : The Pageant of the Shearmen and Taylors

(The Nativity and the Slaughter of the Innocents) .... 120


CHESTER WHITSUN PLAYS: Antichrist (Hengwrt version) . . 170

YORK CORPUS CHRISTI PLAYS : The Judgment Day .... 198




DIGBY PLAYS: The Conversion of St. Paul 215



ROBIN HOOD PLAYS : Robin Hood and the Knight 279

Robin Hood and the Friar 281

Robin Hood and the Potter 285

ST. GEORGE PLAYS : Oxfordshire Play 289

Lutterworth Christmas Play 292



MANKIND .' 315



WYT AND SCIENCE. By Jhon Redford 421



THE FOURE PP. By John Heywood ! . 483


KYNGE JOHAN. By John Bale 525



These two dramatic tropes of the service of Easter are of interest not only because
they are among the earliest known texts of the germ from which developed the great
mediaeval Easter cycle, but also because they show that before the Norman Conquest
the development of the drama in England had begun.

The first is printed from the Regularis Concordia Monachorum, ascribed to Duns-
tan or, with more probability, to Ethelwold, and usually assigned to the year 967 (on
both these points, see vol. III). The text is, of course, based upon W. S. Logeman's
edition, Anglia, XIII, 426-428, in preference to any of the older editions; but the
contractions and word-division of the original are not indicated. In this version, it will
be observed, the trope occurs in the nocturnal service, immediately after the third

The second is found in two tropers originally belonging to Winchester Cathedral, the

Online LibraryJohn Matthews ManlySpecimens of the pre-Shakesperean drama, with an introd., notes, and a glossary (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 37)