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MORAL-PLAYS

RESEMBLING COMEDY AND TRAGEDY.

TOM TILER AND HIS WIFE - CONFLICT OF CON. SCIENCE-DISOBEDIENT CHILD-JACK JUGGLERCAMBYSES-APPIUS AND VIRGINIA-ALBION-COMMON CONDITIONS-NICE WANTON.

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The dramatic pieces I now propose to examine make advances, more or less distant, to tragedy, to comedy, and to that species of theatrical performance which our ancestors called “history,' although, in form and substance, they are still to be classed with Moral-plays. They consist of a mixture of individual character and allegorical impersonation. It has been seen in some of the productions of this kind already reviewed, that attempts were made at a very early date to invest even symbolical representatives with metaphysical as well as physical peculiarities, and to attract for them a personal interest,

One of the most remarkable pieces of this description is called Tom Tiler und his Wife, which was first published in 1578*, and again in 1661, and which, in the last edition, professes on the title-page to be a re

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* On this point I follow Ritson, Ancient Songs, ii. 31, edit. 1829. I have seen no copy older than that of 1661 in any collection, but he was no doubt as correct as usual. VOL. II.

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publication of an interlude printed and acted about

hundred years ago k? It affords some internal evi

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* It was re-printed by F. Kirkman, to whose account many knayish tricks of the bookselling trade have been laid: in this instance, however,

he was guilty of no imposition. It bears for title, in his edition : — Tom Tyler and His Wife. An excellent old Play, as it was Printed

and Acted about a hundred years ago. The second Impression. Lon"don, printed in the year 1661. 4to.b.l. At the end is a list of the plays which Kirkman had then on sale, including many very curious dramas. In what way he became possessed of them may partly be gathered from the following account which he gives of himself, and his connexion with the stage, in a volume he printed in 1673, called The Unlucky Citizen, the introduction to which bears date on the 23d of August in that year, on which day he was exactly forty-three years old :

• It may be I may make bold with the plot or story of an English stage-play, when it is fit to my purpose. I am sure those stories 'must be good, for our English comedies and tragedies exceed all

other nations now in every thing. I know that the French did exceed 'us in ornaments of the stage, gallantry of apparel, variety of music and dancing, and strangeness of their machines : but now we are grown up to them, and in all ing's equ them in these outside matters; and as to the inside, the soul of the play, which is the plot, i contrivance and language, we still outdo them and all the world. “This is my opinion : You may, if you please, give me leave to be a competent judge of these things, for I have been a great lover of 'them, a student in and well-wisher to these mathematics, as I shall

acquaint you anon : for now being a freeman, having my liberty to come and go, when and where I listed, I studied my pleasure and recreation, the chiefest of which, and the greatest pleasure that I took

being in seeing stage-plays. I plied it close abroad, and read as fast i at home, so that I saw all that in that age I could: and when I could [not] satisfy my eye and my ear, with seeing and hearing plays acted, I pleased myself otherwise by reading, for I then began to collect, and have since perfected my collection of all the English stage-plays that were ever yet printed ; and I have them all, and have read them all, and therefore I suppose my judgment may pass as

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dence that it was produced not long after the rebellion of 1569. It appears from the prologue that, like many other pieces of about the same date, it was performed by children :

• To make you joy and laugh at merry toys,

• I mean a play set out by pretty boys.' The plot is a mere piece of merriment relating to the sufferings of Tom Tiler under the affliction and inflictions of a shrewish wife. It is opened by Destiny, called “a sage parson, and Desire, ' the Vice ;' and from what passes between them, it appears that Destiny has married Tom Tiler to a wife named Strife, under whom he leads a most miserable existence, for, besides being a scold, she is fond of drinking with her acquaintances, Sturdy and Tipple. Tom Tiler meets his friend, Tom Tailor, an artificer' of shreds and patches, and communicates his sufferings. Tom Tailor proposes to change clothes with Tom Tiler, and thus disguised as her husband, Tom Tailor gives Strife so sound a beating that, after the humblest submission, she is obliged to take to her bed. Tom Tiler then obtains his own clothes again from Tom Tailor, and returning home, he compas

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• indifferently authentic. And I have had so great an itch at stageplaying that I have been upon the stage, not only in private to entertain friends, but also on a public theatre : there I have acted, but not much nor often; and that itch is so well laid and over, that 'I can content myself with seeing two or three plays in a year; but I still continue in this opinion, that they are the fittest divertisements for our English gentry.'-p. 258.

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sionatės his wife's condition, and goes to bed to her. She is still ignorant of the trick, and declares that she never can love him again after the beating he has given her: Tom Tiler unwarily acknowledges that Tom Tailor had done it for him, and Strife says,

• Alas ! I may mone; I might have been woone • With half these strokes, but curstnesse provokes · Kind hearts to dissever, and hatred for ever • Most commonly growes by dealing of blowes.'

Therefore blame not me, if I cannot love ye While we two have life.

'T. Tiler. By my halydome, wife, • Because ye say so, now shall ye know, If

you will content you, that I do lament you; • For I will tell you true, when I saw you

Ever brawling and fighting, and ever crossebiting, • Which made me still wo, that you should thus do,

At last hereafter I complained the matter To Tom Taylor, my master, who taking a waster .*, • Did put on my coat, since you will needs know it,

And so being disguised, he interprised • To come in my steed, and having my weed, • You pleading your passion after the old fashion,

Thinking it was I, stroke him by and by. · Then straight did he, in steed of me, • Currie your bones, as he said, for the nones, • To make you obey. Strife. Is it even so as you say

? • God's fish, you knave, did you send such a slave 'To revenge your quarrel in your apparel • Thou shalt abide t, as dearlie as I'

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* A waster is a stick.

f This word would tend to prove the genuineness of the pro• duction, though printed by Kirkman, if we had no other evidence,

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and then she snatches up a stick and “lays load upon him’most unmercifully, until he exclaims

• Oh wife, wife! I pray thee save my life.!
• You hurt me ever, I hurted you never,
For God's sake, content thee,

Strife. Nay, thou shalt repent thee,
That ever Tom Tayler, that ruffian and railer,
Was set to beat me: he had better he had eat me.'

Tom Tiler escapes to his friend Tom Tailor, and relating his disaster and the cause of it, the latter abuses him and strikes him in the presence of Destiny. Strife enters, and reviles both, until Patience arrives and composes all matters in difference, rendering Tom Tiler contented with his wife, and Strife more merciful to her husband. The whole is written in short couplets, two of which the printer has usually placed in one line. Six songs are interspersed in various lyrical measures, but none of them of peculiar merit.

The Conflict of Conscience* by Nathaniel Woodes,

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The old word was aby,' which is found in Ferrex and Porrex, and many other authorities of the time

* Thou, Porrex, thou shalt dearly 'bye the same;' and the author of Tom Tiler and his Wife made it rhyme to 'I' in the same line; but Kirkman, thinking it a little obsolete, altered it to abide,' and so lost the jingle.

* The following is its title at large.- An excellent new Commedie Intituled, The Conflict of Conscience. Contayninge a most lamentable example of the dolefull desperation of a miserable worldlinge, termed by the name of Philologus, who forsooke the trueth of God's Gospel, for feare of the losse of lyfe and worldly goods. Compiled by Nathaniell Woodes, Minister in Norwich. [Sixteen - Actors names, devided into six partes'] At London, Printed by Richarde Bradocke, dwelling in Aldermanburie, a little above the Conduict. Anno 1581.' 4to. b. l.

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