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present time. Most of the present orders are otherwise than of a chivalric origin. The orders of chivalry were of two general descriptions, viz. religious and military. They extended over various countries, particularly the Holy Land, England, Spain, France, and Italy. Some of the religious orders were those of the Templars, St. James, Calatrava, Alcantrava, the Lady of Mercy, and St. Michael. In the religious orders, the cavaliers were bound by three great monastic vows, of chastity, poverty, and obedience.
The military orders were imitations of the religious. Those of the Garter, the Golden Fleece, and St. Michael, in France, were clearly of chivalric origin. Many others that now exist cannot boast of such a descent. All these institutions had particular rules by which they professed to be governed, but they varied with the spirit of the times.
It is difficult to define the precise period of the duration of chivalry. It was a light which was kindled in a dark age, and it went out when that age was beginning to be brightened with superior luminaries. Viewing the subject in its great and leading bearings, chivalry may be said to be cocval with the middle ages of Europe, and all its power ceased when new systems of warfare were matured, when the revival of letters was complete and general, and the reformation of religion gave a new subject for the feelings and thoughts of men.- -Robbins' Ancient and Modern History.
38. DRAMATIC MYSTERIES, OR SCRIPTURAL PLAYS.
THESE mysteries or miracle plays, as they were indifferently called, were dramatic illustrations of various scenes taken from the Bible; and in the middle centuries were common in every country in Europe.
How, or at what time, precisely, these plays were first introduced into England, cannot be ascertained, although there is good evidence of such exhibitions having taken place as far back as the eleventh century. As Coventry and Chester became particularly famous
for these exhibitions during the middle ages, a description of the performances described as having there taken place may not be uninteresting.
The Pageant, or moving exhibition of the Chester and Coventry games, was a modern building of two stories, on wheels, which was drawn by men from street to street. It was also customary to have scaffolds or stages in the streets, for the accommodation of the spectators, probably those of better quality; and these scaffolds were also on wheels and moved with the pageant. In the lower room of the pageant, which contained also the machinery for raising storms, representing the infernal regions, &c. the players "apparalled themselves," says old archdeacon Rogers,
and in the higher room they played, beinge all open at the tope, that all behoulders might hear and see them. The places where they played them was in every streete. They begane first at the Abay-gates (at Chester), and when the first pagiante was played, it was wheeled to the High Crosse before the mayor, and soe to every streete, and soe every streete had a pagiante playinge before them at one time, till all the pagiantes for the daye appoynted were played; and when one pagiante was neare ended, word was broughte from streete to streete, that soe they mighte come in place thereof, exceedinge orderlye, and all the streetes have their pagiantes afore them all at one time, playeinge togeather; to se wich playes was great resorte, and also scafoldes and stages made in the streetes in those places where they determined to playe theire pagiantes."
Whatever we most reverence, and all that we adore, was debased and travestied in these wretched, and as they must appear to us, most impious performances. Not only the first parents of mankind, patriarchs, apostles, and angels, were perpetually introduced on the stage, but even the personification of God the Father, of Christ, and of the Holy Ghost, was equally common. Nor were heavenly personages alone introduced. The great one of evil, and his attendant demons,
figured in the pageant of doomsday; and Satan was indeed usually a particular favourite with the spectators. In the ancient religious plays, says Malone, the devil was very frequently introduced. He was usually represented with horns, a very wide mouth (by means of a mask), staring eyes, a large nose, a red beard, cloven feet and a tail. His constant attendant was the Vice (the buffoon of the piece), whose principal employment was to belabour the devil with his wooden dagger, and to make him roar for the entertainment of the populace.
The following passage from the MS. life of John Shaw, vicar of Rotherham, curiously illustrates the state of religious knowledge in Lancashire, even late in the sixteenth century.
"I found," says he, "a very large spacious church, with scarce any seats in it; a people very ignorant, and yet willing to learn; so I had frequently some thousands of hearers. I catechised in season and out of season. The churches were so thronged at nine in the morning, that I had much ado to get to the pulpit. One day, an old man of sixty, sensible enough in other things, and living in the parish of Cartmel, coming to me on some business, I told him that he belonged to my care and charge, and I desired to be informed in his knowledge of religion. I asked him how many Gods there were? He said, he knew not. I, informing him, asked again how he thought to be saved. He answered, he could not tell; yet thought that was a harder question than the other. I told him that the way to salvation was by Jesus Christ, God-man, who, as he was a man, shed his blood for us on the cross, &c. • Oh sir,' said he, 'I think I heard of that man you speak of, once, in a play at Kendall, called Corpus Christi's play, where there was a man on a tree, and blood ran down,' &c. And afterwards, he professed he could not remember that he ever heard of salvation by Jesus, but in that play."
The entries of payments to the players are almost always made in the name of the character and not of
the performer. In the pageant of the Crucifixion, Pilate was evidently considered the most important character; for we find his representative constantly receiving 3s. 4d., and sometimes 4s., the highest sum paid to any player in the same pageant. Herod was also a prominent character, receiving usually 3s. 4d. The "Devil and Judas" are paired, with 1s. 6d. between them; and "Peter and Malchus" are similarly coupled for a less sum. At another time, the performer of this last character was rewarded only with 4d. Once we have a payment of 4d. also, to " Fawston, for hanging Judas," and again to the same accomplished person, "Itm, to Fawston for coc crowing, iiijd." Angels and demons, "savyd and dampnyd sowles," "pattryarkys," and "wormes of conscyence, ," are variously paid.
If such were the wages of the actors, it is amusing to learn the rates at which the playwrights were rewarded. "Robert Croo for ij leaves of ore pley-boke," that is, for adding two leaves of dialogue, receives eight-pence. Again, some one who had written a new part for a character is permitted to rejoice in the receipt of one penny. Far otherwise was it that the learned Master Smyth was treated, touching his play of the Destruction of Jerusalem. "For his paynes for writting of the tragedye," he is set down for 13l. 68. 8d., "a proper round bonus!- -a goodly reward! and a mint of money for a poor scholar of those days."
Among a variety of items for dresses, charges for mitres for Annas and Caiaphas are frequent; for by a strange anachronism, these Jewish high-priests seem always to have been arrayed in the habiliments of Christian prelates, and are constantly termed "byshoppis.". A quart of wine is charged for the hiring of a gown for Pilate's wife; and Itm to a reward to Maisturres Grymsby for lending off heir geir ffor Pylatt's wife, xijd." Items for wine and meat, for drinking, breakfasts, dinners, and suppers of the players, are of perpetual recurrence; and once there appears, "Paid Pilate, the bishops, and knights, to drink between the stages." Thus, too, there are charges for
wings for the angels, and sundry expenses for washing their albs or white surplices. So also we have charges for mending the devil's hide (vizor); to a chevril gyld for Peter; to 3lb. of hair for the devil's coat and hose; and 66 for velves of canvas for shirts and hose for the blakke sowles, and for colorying the same."
With the spectators, the most favourite part of the machinery of the mysteries, was the exhibition of the infernal regions. Here, accordingly, we have numerous items of charges formaterials; such as "the baryll for the yerthequake." Also, "paid to Crowe for making of iij worldys," 3s. 4d. (to be set on fire at successive exhibitions), and "payd for setting the world on fyer," 5d. ; and farther, "Itm, payd for keeping of fire at hell-mothe, 4d.," &c. &c.
Such was the passion of our forefathers for all kinds of pompous processions and pageants, and for religiou plays in particular, that these arrangements and shows became matters of municipal regulation; and the archives, not only of Coventry, but of Chester, York, and many other places, are full of evidence that the celebration of a series of mysteries was assigned in succession to the different guilds of trade. Each company, or sometimes two or three minor fraternities, had its subject; and the series, which lasted throughout a whole day, or sometimes occupied two or even several entire days, not uncommonly embraced the story of both the Old and New Testament, from the creation to the day of judgment.
39. POPISH MIRACLES, RELICS, &c.
THE following will give some idea of the manner of performing miracles in the Romish church.
"St. Anthony is thought to have had a great command over fire, and a power of destroying, by flashes of that element, those who incurred his displeasure. A certain monk of St. Anthony one day assembled his congregation under a tree where a magpie had built her nest, into which he found means to convey a small