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Catholic And Protestant Dramas
by [?]

Read the V. to the Galatians, and there you shall see
That the flesh rebelleth against the spirit–

or in homely rhymes like these–

I will show you what St. Paul doth declare
In his epistle to the Hebrews, and the X. chapter.

In point of historical information respecting the pending struggle between the Catholics and the “new Gospellers,” we do not glean much secret history from these pieces; yet they curiously exemplify that regular progress in the history of man, which has shown itself in the more recent revolutions of Europe; the old people still clinging, from habit and affection, to what is obsolete, and the young ardent in establishing what is new; while the balance of human happiness trembles between both.

Thus “Lusty Juventus” conveys to us in his rude simplicity the feeling of that day. Satan, in lamenting the downfall of superstition, declares that–

The old people would believe still in my laws,
But the younger sort lead them a contrary way–
They will live as the Scripture teacheth them.

Hypocrisy, when informed by his old master, the Devil, of the change that “Lusty Juventus” has undergone, expresses his surprise; attaching that usual odium of meanness on the early reformers, in the spirit that the Hollanders were nicknamed at their first revolution by their lords the Spaniards, “Les Gueux,” or the Beggars.

What, is Juventus become so tame,
To be a new Gospeller?

But in his address to the young reformer, who asserts that he is not bound to obey his parents but “in all things honest and lawful,” Hypocrisy thus vents his feelings:–

Lawful, quoth ha! Ah! fool! fool!
Wilt thou set men to school
When they be old?
I may say to you secretly,
The world was never merry
Since children were so bold;
Now every boy will be a teacher,
The father a fool, the child a preacher;
This is pretty gear!
The foul presumption of youth
Will shortly turn to great ruth,
I fear, I fear, I fear!

In these rude and simple lines there is something like the artifice of composition: the repetition of words in the first and the last lines was doubtless intended as a grace in the poetry. That the ear of the poet was not unmusical, amidst the inartificial construction of his verse, will appear in this curious catalogue of holy things, which Hypocrisy has drawn up, not without humour, in asserting the services he had performed for the Devil.

And I brought up such superstition
Under the name of holiness and religion,
That deceived almost all.

As–holy cardinals, holy popes,
Holy vestments, holy copes,
Holy hermits, and friars,
Holy priests, holy bishops,
Holy monks, holy abbots,
Yea, and all obstinate liars.

Holy pardons, holy beads,
Holy saints, holy images,
With holy holy blood.
Holy stocks, holy stones,
Holy clouts, holy bones,
Yea, and holy holy wood.

Holy skins, holy bulls,
Holy rochets, and cowls,
Holy crutches and staves,
Holy hoods, holy caps,
Holy mitres, holy hats,
And good holy holy knaves.

Holy days, holy fastings,
Holy twitchings, holy tastings
Holy visions and sights,
Holy wax, holy lead,
Holy water, holy bread,
To drive away sprites.

Holy fire, holy palme,
Holy oil, holy cream,
And holy ashes also;
Holy broaches, holy rings,
Holy kneeling, holy censings,
And a hundred trim-trams mo.

Holy crosses, holy bells,
Holy reliques, holy jouels,
Of mine own invention;
Holy candles, holy tapers,
Holy parchments, holy papers;–
Had not you a holy son?

Some of these Catholic dramas were long afterwards secretly performed among Catholic families. In an unpublished letter of the times, I find a cause in the Star-chamber respecting a play being acted at Christmas, 1614, at the house of Sir John Yorke; the consequences of which were heavy fines and imprisonment. The letter-writer describes it as containing “many foul passages to the vilifying of our religion and exacting of popery, for which he and his lady, as principal procurers, were fined one thousand pounds apiece, and imprisoned in the Tower for a year; two or three of his brothers at five hundred pounds apiece, and others in other sums.”

[Footnote 1:
Eccl. Hist., book vii. p. 399. ]

[Footnote 2:
Collier’s “Annals of the Stage,” i. 144. ]

[Footnote 3:
Bale’s play, God’s Promises, and that called New Custome, reprinted in the first volume of Dodsley’s collection, are examples of the great license these dramatists allowed themselves. ]

[Footnote 4:
It has been preserved by Hawkins in his “Origin of the English Drama,” vol. i. ]