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prison in Spain. It is composed in a florid, declamatory style, and has little real poetic merit to recommend it. The completed work was published in 1807, and is said to represent the labor of half the life-time of its author; but it never attained to any considerable degree of popularity, and is fast being forgotten.

The student will discover, in the course of his reading, numerous short poems relating to historical subjects, but which are not, strictly speaking, historical poems. Such productions may usually be more properly classed in some other division of poetry, as descriptive poems, ballads, songs, etc. Not being subject to the restraints commonly imposed upon historical poetry, many of them possess eminent merit. As examples of this numerous class of poems, we mention Bishop Berkeley's On the Planting of Arts in America; Mrs. Hemans's Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, Fitz-Greene Halleck's Marco Bozarris, and Byron's episode of The Eve of Waterloo.

CHAPTER VII.

DRAMATIC POETRY AND THE DRAMA.

Definitions—Origin of the Drama–Greek Drama—Mysteries and Mira

cles—The Play of St. Catherine—The Blessed Sacrament— The Harrowing of Hell—The Townley, Coventry, and Chester Collections -Morality Plays—John Skelton's Magnificence-Interludes—John Heywood-Ralph Roister Doister, by Nicholas Udall—Gorboduc, by Norton and Sackville-Damon and Pythias-Theatres in LondonGeorge Peele-Robert Greene—Christopher Marlowe--Doctor Faustus-John Lyly-Thomas Kyd-Thomas Nash-William Shakspeare -His Plays—Classification-Merchant of Venice—King Lear—Coriolanus-Hamlet—The Genius of Shakspeare-Ben Jonson—Cynthia's Revels-Masques—The Masque of Beauty—The Sad ShepherdBeaumont and Fletcher-Philip Massinger-John Ford-John Webster-Minor Dramatists of the Elizabethan Age-Puritan InfluencePrynne's Histrio-Mastix — Milton's Comus — Suppression of the Theatres—Drama of the Restoration-Dryden's Comedies and Tragedies-Rhyming Tragedies-William Davenant–The Rehearsal, by the Duke of Buckingham—Milton's Samson Agonistes-Wycherly, Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Farquhar--Thomas Otway–The Orphan

- Venice Preserved-Nicholas Rowe- The Fair Penitent-Thomas Southern—Oroonoko–Dryden’s Essay on Dramatic Poesy-Rymer on Tragedy-Jeremy Collier-Gradual Improvement of the DramaSteele's The Conscious Lovers-Arthur Bedford vs. the Drama—The Beggar's Opera—Polly— Political Comedies—The Shakspearian Revival-David Garrick-Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer—R. B. Sheridan-Addison's Cato-Irene, by Dr. Johnson-Home's Douglas --Byron's Tragedies—Shelley's Prometheus and The Cenci--Bulwer Lytton--Robert Browning-Tennyson-Swinburne's Tragedies.

DRAMATIC poetry is poetry in which the action or narration is designed to be represented and not merely read or related.

A drama is a single performance, either in prose or poetry, designed to be so represented. By the expression, the drama, we mean the whole body of dramatic compositions considered together.

Dramas are of two kinds-tragedies and comedies. A tragedy, according to Aristotle's definition, is the representation of a serious, complete, and important action; in the modern drama this action invariably leads to some calamitous and fatal issue. Comedy is the representation of an action simple in its character, and usually exciting mirth. The term tragi-comedy is sometimes applied to those dramas which though serious and elevated in tone do not end tragically or with a disaster.

“The invention of dramatic art and of the theatre,” says Schlegel, “ seems a very obvious and natural one. Man has a great disposition to mimicry; when he enters vividly into the situation, sentiments, and passions of others, he involuntarily puts on a resemblance to them in his gestures. Children are perpetually going out of themselves; it is one of their chief amusements to represent those grown people whom they have had an opportunity of observing, or whatever strikes their fancy; and with the happy pliancy of their imagination they can exhibit all the characteristics of any dignity they may choose to assume, be it that of a father, a schoolmaster, or a king. But one step more was requisite for the invention of the drama; namely, to separate and extract the mimetic elements from the separate parts of social life, and to present them to itself again collectively in one mass; in many nations it has not been done."

The drama reached its highest perfection in ancient Greece. The new European drama, although resembling the Greek in many respects, was, in its origin and early progress, entirely uninfluenced by the ancient dramatists. Their power was not known nor felt by it until at a later period.

The origin of the English drama may be traced to the Miracle-Plays or Mysteries of the Middle Ages. These plays were founded on certain striking passages of Bible history, or on remarkable events in the lives of the saints, and were at first devised and used by the priesthood

for the purpose of imparting religious instruction to the masses. We can readily understand that in those days of ignorance and superstition the rude population, for whom these plays were arranged, would be much more easily influenced by the actual, visible representation of those wonderful occurrences than by listening to dull sermons and monotonous homilies from the pulpit. The earliest performance of a miracle-play, of which we have any record, occurred at the Convent of Dunstable about the year 1119. It was called The Play of St. Catherine, and was performed under the supervision of a schoolmaster and monk named Geoffrey, who afterwards became Abbot of St. Albans. It is probable that this play, like almost every

. thing else at that time, had been brought from France, and it is not unlikely that it was performed in French. But, as these representations were designed principally for the amusement and instruction of the middle and lower classes, to whom French was an unknown tongue, we can but believe that many such plays were soon translated and acted in English. Theatrical performances of this kind were by no means rare in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Budaeus, the historian of the University of Paris, informs us that it was a very common thing, at that time, for teachers and pupils to engage in such exhibitions and entertainments. Fitz-Stephen, in his life of Thomas à Becket, written about 1182, says that London, in lieu of such theatrical shows and performances as were common at Rome, had plays of a sacred kind, “representing the miracles which saints have wrought, or the sufferings and constancy of martyrs.” The plays were at first under the exclusive control of the clergy, being written and for the most part acted by the monks. The church was for the time being transformed into a theatre; the altar was changed into a stage with three divisions, one above the other; and the vestments of the sacristy supplied the desired costumes. The three platforms into which the stage was divided represented respectively Heaven, Earth, and Hell, the actors going from one to another as the performance of their several parts required. In course of time the use of the churches for such purposes began to be forbidden. As carly as the year 1258, we find that not only was this the case in many localities, but that the acting of the plays was no longer confined to the priesthood; for a regulation issued in that year for the government of certain monasteries provides that although actors may be entertained on account of their poverty, yet“ let not their plays be seen nor heard, nor the performance of them allowed in the presence of the abbot or the monks." This interdiction was, however, by no means general, for in 1542-nearly three hundred years later--we find Bishop Bonner issuing a similar order to his clergy, forbidding “all manner of plays, games, or interludes to be played, set forth, or declared within their churches or chapels.” When plays were performed in the open air, a temporary scaffold was erected for a stage, and sometimes this platform was set on wheels so as to be easily moved from place to place. At a later period it was customary to utilize the hall of a college, or the great banquet-room of a palace or nobleman's mansion, for the representation of these performances. Then, as the plays became still more secular in character, the open court-yarıs of the ancient inns were often used, and from these the plan and structure of the modern theatre were doubtless suggested.

Some idea of the character of these ancient religious dramas may be formed from the following brief analysis of a miracle-play which was lately discovered in the library of Trinity College, Dublin, and which is supposed to have been performed in the time of Edward IV. It is called The Play of the Blessed Sacrament, and dramatizes a miracle said to have been wrought in the forest of Aragon in 1461. The characters are the Saviour, five Jews, a bishop, a priest, a merchant, a physician and his servant. The merchant, who has the keys of the church, steals the Ilost and sells it to the Jews on condition that, should it really possess

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