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This is the statute as it now stands in the printed copy in Trinity College library; but Warton, who had consulted the manuscripts of Tom Rawlinson in the Bodleian, has preserved us some farther information upon the subject. He says, "With regard to the peculiar business and office of Imperator, it is ordered, that one of the masters of arts shall be placed over the juniors, every Christmas, for the regulation of their games and diversions at that season of festivity. At the same time, he is to govern the whole society in the hall and chapel, as a republic committed to his special charge, by a set of laws, which he is to frame in Latin and Greek verse. His sovereignty is to last during the twelve days of Christmas, and he is to exercise the same power on Candlemas-day. During this period, he is to see that six Spectacles, or DIALOGUES, be presented. His fee is forty shillings." In the Colleges at Oxford, there was established a Christmas Prince, Princeps Natalitius, or Lord of Misrule: indeed, in all the Inns of Court, at this time, Masters of the Revels were appointed. There is much curious information concerning these shows and pedantic absurdities, in Dugdale's Origines Juridicales. We should be astonished at the present day, to hear of a lord chancellor aking an active part in these uncouth ceremonies; yet the Earl of Leicester, the Lord Chancellor Hatton, with the judges of the King's Bench and Court of Common Pleas, no doubt, found infinite pleasure (such were the ideas of the age) in beholding "the huntsman come into the hall with a pursenet, and with a cat, both bound at the end of a staff; and with them nine or ten couple of hounds, with the blowing of hunting hornes; and seeing the fox and cat set upon by the hounds, and killed beneath the fire." These festivities, lasting for the same number of days, are exactly similar to the Saturnalia ;then the masters waited upon the servants, like the Lord of Misrule. They were now common, and well known to foreigners as a heathenish peculiarity belonging to the English. Polydore Vergil, in conjunction with William Prynne, inveighed resolutely against such fantastic mummeries only remaining in England; and said, that all pious Christians ought eternally to abominate them. However, neither the Peter-penny collecting historian, nor the crop-eared lawyer, could, by their arguments, prevail upon the Universities to
* In Hunneshagen's Latin poems, 12mo. Darmstad, 1619, there is an epigram addressed to Henricus Rinckins, Ludi Moderator Seeheimensis, v. p. 27.
+ Dugdale's Orig. edit. 2nd., p. 156.
Polydore Vergil, 1. vii., c. 2.
relinquish them; for, about this time, the heads of Colleges consulted "to debar the students this liberty allowed them at Christmas; but some grave governors mentioned the good use thereof, because, thereby, in twelve days, they more discover the dispositions of scholars than in twelve months before." It
is certain, they were productive of some licentious enormities, and incompatible with houses of learning and religion; and, in consequence, more regular representations were now made before the different societies. The occult philosopher, Dr. Dee, in his life, written by himself,† says he was the first to reform them, "and caused their Christmas magistrate first named and confirmed an emperor. The first was Mr. Thomas Dun, a very goodly man of person, stature, and complexion, and well learned, also."
He, also, further informs us, that he exhibited in the refectory of his college before the University, the Ep, or Pax, of Aristophanes, accompanied with a piece of machinery, for which he was taken for a conjurer; with the performance of the Scarabeus, his flying up to Jupiter's palace, with a man and his basket of victuals, on her back; whereat was great wondering, and many vain reports spread abroad, of the means how that was effected. "The plays acted in Cambridge were acted in the halls, with the exception of those at King's College, which were acted in the chapell." Roger Ascham, while on his travels in Flanders, says, in one of his epistles, written about 1550, "That the city of Antwerp as much exceeds all other cities, as the refectory of St. John's Hall, Cambridge, exceeds itself when furnished, at Christmas, with its theatrical apparatus for acting plays." The Hospital of Lorers was acted in St. John's College, Oxford, in the refectory, before the King and Queen, Aug. 30, 1636.
In the year 1579, the tragedy of Richard the Third, written in Latin verse by Thomas Legge, LL.D. Master of Caius College, was acted in St. John's College. It still exists in MS. in the University library. Sir John Harrington, in his Apologie for Poetrie, prefixed to the translation of Ariosto, says, "For tragedies, to omit other famous tragedies, that
Fuller, his Meditations on the Times, Lond. 12mo. 1647, p. 139. + See Dr. Dee's Life, appended to Hearne's Joann. Glastoniensis Chronica.
He, also, wrote another play, called, The Destruction of Jerusalem, acted with great applause. There existed a portrait of him in Caius library, a few years ago. He was buried in the chapel, where his monument may still be seen.
§ Comitiis Baccalaureorum.
which was played at St. John's, in Cambridge, of Richard the Third, would move, I think, Phalaris the tyrant, and terrifie all tyrannous-minded men from following their foolish ambitious humours, seeing how his ambition made him kill his brother, his nephews, his wife, beside infinit others; and, last of all, after a short and troublesome raigne, to end his miserable life, and to have his body harried after his death." Heywood, in his Actor's Vindication, mentions this play as acted in St. John's so essentially, "that had the tyrant Phalaris beheld his bloody proceedings, it had mollified his heart, and made him relent at the sight of his inhuman massacres." The play still exists in manuscript in the University library, and in Emmanuel College library; each copy divided into three parts, with the original actors' names in the Emmanuel copy.
In the year 1586, a childish imitation of Richard the Third was acted at Trinity College, written by Henry Lacey, one of its fellows. From a passage in Nash's Have with You to Saffron Walden, or Gabriel Harvey his Hunt is up, it appears that one of the fellows cried, ad urbs, ad urbs, ad urbs,' when his whole part was no more than,-urbs, urbs, ad arma, ad arma." Shakspeare's King Richard the Third first appeared, according to his best editor, in 1593. Richard Burbage is introduced in the play acted at St. John's, in 1605, called, The Return from Parnassus, as instructiug a Cambridge scholar how to play the part of King Richard the Third, in which Burbage was greatly admired. That he represented this character, is ascertained by Bishop Corbet, who, in his Iter Boreale, speaking of his host at Leicester, tells us,—
When he would have said, 'King Richard died ;'
In the year 1590, or a little earlier, the comedy of Pedantius was acted at Trinity College. It was certainly acted before
* "Let here the lyke noyse be made as before, as soone as the Lord Stanley hath spoken, who followith the rest to the field. After a little space, let the Lord Northumberland come with his barde from the fielde, at whose speache lett the noyse cease.'
This is among the manuscripts in The Harleian Collection, Nos. 2412 and 6926. It contains many curious stage-directions, like the following:-" After the lyke noyse made agayne, lett souldiours runne from the fielde over the stage, on after on another, flinginge of their harness, and, at length, some come haltinge, as wounded."
The second stage-direction Reed attributes to Lacey's plays. Both of them are in Legge's Richard the Third.
1591, being mentioned by Sir John Harrington in his Apologie for Poetrie, prefixed to Ariosto, printed in that year. Then for comedies," says Sir John Harrington, "how full of harmless myrth is our Cambridge Pedantius, and the Oxford Bellum Grammaticale?" Nash, in his book called Strange News, printed in 1593, ascribes this play to Matthew Wingfield. It was printed in 12mo., 1631, and is seldom met with having the frontispiece, where Dromodotus is said to be a portrait of Beard,† Oliver Cromwell's schoolmaster. A manuscript of it is in Trinity College library. As this play is a work of much humour, and has attracted, from the supposed personality of its design, more notice than the generality of these plays, it may be well to give a brief analysis of its fable and characters. The plot of it, as detailed in the Argumentum prefixed, is sufficiently simple.-Crobulus, formerly a servant of Chremulus, was in love with Lydia, a slave of the old man, Charondas. Lydia had another suitor, in the person of the pedagogue Pedantius; but Crobulus is the favoured admirer. Charondas, however, her master, insists upon thirty pounds, as a condition of the manumission of his slave. Crobulus, at last, by a hoax played off by himself and his friends, induces Pedantius to pay the money, while he obtains the girl for himself.
The characters are painted with a great deal of spirit; more, as may be guessed from the above outline, in the style of broad farce than of genteel comedy. The play is opened by a dialogue between Crobulus and his servant Pogglostus; in which the former, who, from ancient experience, may be supposed to be an adept in the science, endeavours to open to the latter, who is a mere tyro in the school, the mysteries of servitorship, and its necessary qualifications. The next person introduced on the stage is one not alluded to in the sketch of the story, but one who plays notwithstanding a very prominent part in almost every scene,-Dromodotus, a philosopher. His peculiarities are worthy of attention, as they show the turn which philosophical investigation took at that day, and the light in which it was looked upon. The debut of Dromodotus is sufficiently characteristic.
Cro. Rivalis mei Ped: familiaris est, Dromodotus philosophus.
* Reprinted in Essays on Ancient Poetry, v. ii., p. 135.
+ By some he is mentioned as the author.
Cro. Nam certe has utrasque eadem dedit orbi Maria mater.
Cro. Quos ego ambos hodie dolis doctis meis docebo quanti sit
Dromodotus proceeds to inquire of Crobulus where he can meet with his friend Pedantius; and, after a long burlesque argument upon the merits of philosophy, Crobulus retires, and makes room for the hero Pedantius. A tedious disputation ensues upon the nature of love, in which Dromodotus endeavours to rid his friend of a passion so hostile, as our readers are well aware, to the advancement of philosophical research. Pogglostus cuts short the argument, by committing highway robbery upon the persons of both combatants; and thus the first act concludes.
In the succeeding acts, which it is unnecessary to go through minutely, the peculiarities of the two literati are sometimes contrasted with each other, sometimes brought out in dialogues with their respective pupils, or with Lydia, the heroine of the piece, who is as pretty, and as pert, and as willing to be married, as any chambermaid pictured by Hooke or Moncrieff. The character of Pedantius will remind the reader sometimes of a few touches in the colouring of his better-known friend Dominie Sampson, especially when the pedantry is softened in the play, as it is frequently in the novel, by a slight admixture of pathos. "O Clotho!" he exclaims, when he is deceived into a belief of the death of his mistress, "O Clotho, Atropos, et tu fatum !-(dictum quidem a fando, sed nefandum fatum, cui irascor ex animo,)-O fallacem hominum spem, fragilemq: fortunam !" The play abounds with bad puns, and with allusions to particular University studies and customs, which will be, in part, payment for the labour and weariness attendant on many of the scenes. Dromodotus and Pedantius are still, perhaps, to be met with, under different modificatious, at either of our sister Universities.
The next in chronological order is Roxana, a tragedy; perhaps the best written play that was performed before the University. If it does not equal the more justly celebrated comedy of Ignoramus, (represented in the ensuing reign of James the First,) in the variety and admirable issue of its contrivances, it far surpasses it in the beauty of its language, and the elegance of its latinity. Speaking upon this play, Dr. Johnson says, in his Life of Milton, "That he once heard Mr. Hampton, the translator of Polybius, remark, that Milton