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entitled The Play of Plays, and he was not at all aware that it was a dramatic performance, publicly acted at the Theatre in Shoreditch, about the year 1580. It is evident, from what Gosson says, that it was written to counteract his School of Abuse, which was published in 1579.

In the succeeding examination of some of the most important and characteristic Morals or Moral-plays in our language I have adverted,

1. To some highly valuable manuscript specimens formerly in the collection of Dr. Cox Macro, and now in that of Hudson Gurney, Esq. M. P., which are much more ancient than any other pieces of the same description yet discovered.

2. To printed Morals, the lesson enforced by which relates to the vices and regeneration of mankind at large.

3. To such as convey instructions for human conduct of a more varied character.

4. To pieces belonging to the class of Morals, but making approaches to the representation of real life and manners.

5. To Interludes chiefly without allegory, and particularly to those of John Heywood.







The Castle of Perseverance is one of the oldest Morals in our language, and in some of the accompanying circumstances it resembles a Miracle-play.

From speeches made by two Vexillators, it appears that this sort of proclamation of the intended commencement of the performance was made a week before it actually began, so that the people of the whole neighbourhood had full notice, not only that a play would be acted upon some open space, or green,' but of the nature of the piece itself. The following lines are delivered by one of the Vexillators, trumpets having been first blown to attract attention.

Grace if god will graunte us of his mykyl myth,

· These percell in propyrtes * we spose us to playe, * This day sevenenyt before you in syth,

• At N on the grene in ryal aray.


* Malone, following Warton (Shakespeare by Boswell, iii. 25) has remarked upon the use of the word properties in the reign of Henry VIII. (1511), but we here find it employed, and in the same sense of furniture, apparel, &c., a century earlier.

• Ye, haste you thane thedyrward, syrs, hendly and hyth,

All good neybors ful specyally we you pray, * And loke that ye be there be tyme, luffely and lyth *,

For we schul be onward be underne of the day.'

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Thus it is evident that the performers went from place to place, N, as in the instance of the Ludus. Coventriæ, being put in the proclamation for the nomen of the town, in or near which the exhibition was to be made f. The performance was to conclude

. by undern of the day,' that is to say, at nine in the morning, so that perhaps, like the Ludus Coventrice, it commenced at six o'clock. It is not necessary to quote any part of the explanation given by the Vexillators of the general construction and moral of the play, as that will be sufficiently detailed as we proceed in our examination of it.

The play opens with speeches from Mundus, Belial and Caro, enlarging on their several powers and properties, after which Humanum Genus, the representative of the whole race of man, enters as just born and naked:

• I was born this nyth in blody ble, I
* And nakyd I am, as ye may

se. While speaking, a good and a bad angel take their places on his right and left, and dispute their claim to

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* Lovely and light.

† This mark, a sort of ornamented N, is three times repeated in the course of the addresses of the Vexillators, which occupy about 130 lines : in every instance the Vexillator substituted the name of the town, whatever it might be, in which he was speaking,


the care of him, Humanum Genus being in turn invited to follow each. He decides in favour of the bad angel, and the 'mynstrells pipe up,' to celebrate the success of the infernal messenger. The Bad Angel carries his pupil to Mundus, who is talking with his two friends, Stultitia and Voluptas. When Voluptas sees Humanum Genus he exclaims :-

• Be Satan, thou art a nobyl knave
• To techyn men fyrst fro goode:
· Lust and lykynge he schal have,
. Lechery schal ben his fode.
• Mets and drynks he schal have trye;
* With a lykynge lady of lofte
• He schal sytyn in sendal * softe,

To cachen hym to hell crofte f

• That day that he schal deye.' Voluptas and Stultitia receive orders from Mundus to attend upon Humanum Genus. Detractio, who says that his name is Backbiter, (and whom we have already seen introduced into the fourteenth Coventry play,) is also directed to be one of his followers: Detractio tells Humanum Genus,

Bakbytynge and detraction
• Schal goo with the fro town to town

“I am thyne owyn page ;' and he brings him acquainted with Avaritia, who carries him to the six other Deadly Sins, saying



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* Silk.

In the

+ Croft seems to have been a common term for hell. Towneley Miracle-play of the Judicium, Tutivillus

• Come to my crofte
All harlottys,' &c.



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• Here I feffe the in myn hevene,
• With gold, and sylver, lyth as levene,
* The dedly synnys all sevene.
· Pryde, Wrathe, and Envye,
• Come forthe the develys chyldren thre!

Letchery, Slawth and Glotonye,

• To mans flesch ye are fends fre.' In order to conjure them up, he pronounces a sort of incantation:

Dryvyth downe over dalys * drye, • Beth now blythe as any be ;

Over hyll and holtys t ye gon hyge 1,

To come to Mankynde and to me.' Here we meet with rather a severe hit at the clergy, for Humanum Genus, welcoming Invidia, observes, that in abbeys he dwellyth full ofte;' whence we might, perhaps, infer that the writer was not an ecclesiastic. Luxuria, a female, soon afterwards becomes the bed-fellow of Humanum Genus. The bad and good angels in turn triumph and deplore, and the the latter takes Confessio to Humanum Genus, who tells him that he is come too soon, that it is not yet Good Friday, and that he has something else to do than to confess his sins. With the assistance of Pænitentia, however, Confessio at last succeeds in reclaiming Humanum Genus, who asks where he

may take up his abode in security? the reply is, that he must dwell in the Castle of Perseverance, for it is strenger thanne any in Fraunce, and thither they conduct him. By this time, we are informed by the


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* Dales.

+ Woods.


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