• warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home2/ph4410/public_html/classiq.net/modules/taxonomy/taxonomy.pages.inc on line 33.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home2/ph4410/public_html/classiq.net/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home2/ph4410/public_html/classiq.net/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home2/ph4410/public_html/classiq.net/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home2/ph4410/public_html/classiq.net/sites/all/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 159.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home2/ph4410/public_html/classiq.net/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home2/ph4410/public_html/classiq.net/sites/all/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home2/ph4410/public_html/classiq.net/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home2/ph4410/public_html/classiq.net/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home2/ph4410/public_html/classiq.net/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.

H.E. Marshall

IN this chapter I am going to give you a part of one of the Townley plays to show you what the beginnings of our drama were like,

Although our forefathers tried to make the pageants as real as possible, they had, of course, no scenery, but acted on a little bare platform. They never thought either that the stories they acted had taken place long ago and in lands far away, where dress and manners and even climate were all very different from what they were in England.

ALTHOUGH Ben Jonson's days ended sadly, although his later plays showed failing powers, he left behind him unfinished a Masque called The Sad Shepherd which is perhaps more beautiful and more full of music than anything he ever wrote. For Ben's charm did not lie in the music of his words but in the strength of his drawing of character. As another poet has said of him, "Ben as a rule—a rule which is proved by the exception—was one of the singers who could not sing; though, like Dryden, he could intone most admirably."*

*Swinburne.

YOU have heard a little about Dick Steele in connection with Joseph Addison. Steele is always overshadowed by his great friend, for whom he had such a generous admiration that he was glad to be so overshadowed. But in this chapter I mean to tell you a little more about him.

He was born, you know, in Dublin in 1671, and early lost his father. About this he tells us himself in one of the Tatlers:

JOHN KEATS was little more than a month old, when far away across the Border another little baby boy was born. His parent, too were simple folk, and he, too, was born to be great.

OUR earliest literature was history and poetry. Indeed, we might say poetry only, for in those far-off times history was always poetry, it being only through the songs of the bards and minstrels that history was known. And when I say history I do not mean history as we know it. It was then merely the gallant tale of some hero's deeds listened to because it was a gallant tale.

BESIDES the metrical romances, we may date another kind of story from this time. I mean the ballads.

Ballad was an old French word spelt balade. It really means a dance-song. For ballads were at first written to be sung to dances—slow, shuffling, balancing dances such as one may still see in out-of-the-way places in Brittany.

These ballads often had a chorus or refrain in which every one joined. But by degrees the refrain was dropped and the dancing too. Now we think of a ballad as a simple story told in verse. Sometimes it is merry, but more often it is sad.

A LITTLE later than the Miracle and Mystery plays came another sort of play called the Moralities. In these, instead or representing real people, the actors represented thoughts, feelings and deeds, good and bad. Truth, for instance, would be shown as a beautiful lady; Lying as an ugly old man, and so on. These plays were meant to teach just as the Miracles were meant to teach. But instead of teaching the Bible stories, they were made to show men the ugliness of sin and the beauty of goodness.

SOME of you may have seen a picture of a brown-faced sailor sitting by the seashore, telling stories of travel and adventure to two boy. The one boy lies upon the sand with his chin in his hands listening but carelessly, the other with his hands clasped about his knees listens eagerly. His face is rapt, his eyes the eyes of a poet and a dreamer. This picture is called The Boyhood of Raleigh, and was painted by one of our great painters, Sir John Millais.

AS you have already guessed by the number of prose writers you have been reading about, this age, the age of the last Stuarts and the first Georges, was not a poetic one. It was an age of art and posturing. It was an age of fierce and passionate party strife—strife between Whig and Tory which almost amounted to civil war, but instead of using swords and guns the men who took part in the strife used pen and ink. They played the game without any rules of fair play. No weapon was too vile or mean to be used if by it the enemy might be injured.

A LITTLE time after Carlyle's French Revolution was published he wrote to his brother, "I understand there have been many reviews of a very mixed character. I got one in the Times last week. The writer is one, Thackeray, a half-monstrous Cornish giant, kind of painter, Cambridge man, and Paris newspaper correspondent, who is now writing for his life in London. . . . His article is rather like him, and I suppose calculated to do the book good."

Syndicate content