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Cry and little Wool, as the Devil said when he sheared his Hogs. For the sheep-shearing of Nabal being represented in the mystery of David and Abigail, and the devil always attending Nabal, was made to imitate it by shearing a hog. This kind of absurdity, as it is the properest to create laughter, was the subject of the ridiculous in the ancient mimes, as we learn from these words of Saint Austin: Ne faciamus ut mimi solent, & opremus à libero aquam, d lymphis vinum.*
These mysteries, we see, were given in France at first, as well as in England sub dio, and only in the provinces. Afterwards we find them got into Paris and a company established in the Hôtel de Bourgogne to represent them. But good letters and religion beginning to make their way in the latter end of the reign of Francis the first, the stupidity and prophaneness of the mysteries made the courtiers and clergy join their interest for their sup. pression. Accordingly, in the year 1541, the procureur-general, in the name of the king, presented a request against the company to the parliament. The three principal branches of his charge against them were, that the representation of the Old Testament stories inclined the people to Judaism; that the New Testament stories encouraged libertinism and infidelity; and that both of them lessened the charities to the poor. It seems that this prosecution succeeded; for, in 1548, the parliament of Paris confirmed the company in the possession of the Hôtel de Bourgogne, but interdicted the representation of the mysteries. But in Spain, we find by Cervantes, that they continued much longer; and held their own, even after good comedy came in amongst them: as appears from the excellent critique of the canon, in the fourthi book, where he shows how the old extravagant romances might be made the foundation of a regular epic (which, he says, tambien puede escriverse en prosa como en verso;t) as the mystery-plays might be improved into artful comedy. His words are, Plues que si venimos d las comedias divinas, que de milagros falsos fingen en ellas, que de cosas apocrifas, y mal entendidas, attribueyendo a un santo los milagros de otro;t which made them so fond of miracles that they introduced them into las comedias humanas, as he calls them. To return :
Upon this prohibition, the French poets turned themselves from religious to moral farces. And in this we soon followed them: the public taste not suffering any great alteration at first, though the Italians at this time afforded many just compositions for better models. These farces they call moralities. Pierre Gringore, one of their old poets, printed one of these moralities, intitled La Moralité de l'Homme Obstiné. The persons of the drama are l'Homme Obstiné-Pugnition Divine-Simonie-Hypocrisiemand Demerites-Gommunes. The Homme Obstiné is the atheist, and comes in blaspheming, and determined to persist in his impieties. Then Pugnition Divine appears, sitting on a throne in the air, and menacing the atheist with punishment. After this scene, Simonie, H, pocrisie, and Demerites-Communes appear and play their parts In conclusion, Pugnition Divine returns, preaches to them, upbraids them with their crimes, and, in short, draws them all to repentance, all but the Homme Obstiné, who persists in his impiety, and is destroyed for an example. To this sad serious sub. ject they added, though in a separate representation, a merry kind of farce called Sottié, in which there was un Paysan (the Clown) under the name of Sot-Commun (or Fool]. But we, who borrowed all these delicacies from the French, blended the Moralité and Sottié together: So that the Paysan or Sot-Commun, the Clown or Fool, got a place in our serious moralities : Whose business we may understand in the frequent allusions our Shakspeare makes to them: as in that fine speech in the beginning of the third Act of Measure for Measure, where we have this obscure passage.
* Civ. D. L. IV.
| B. IV, c. 20.
| Ibid. 21.
merely thou art Death's Fool,
“And yet runn'st tow'rd bim still. For, in these moralities, the Fool of the peice, in order to show the inevitable approaches of Death, (another of the Dramatis Persone) is made to employ all his stratagems to avoid him; which, as the matter is ordered, bring the Fool, at every turn, into the very jaws of his enemy: So that a representation of these scenes would afford a great deal of good mirth and morals mixed together. The very same thing is again alluded to in these lines of Love's Labour's Lost:
“ So Portént-like I would o'er-rule his state,
“ That he should be my Fool, and I his Fate.” Act IV, sc. ii. But the French, as we say, keeping these two sorts of farces distinct, they became, in time, the parents of tragedy and comedy, while we, by jumbling them together, begot in an evil hour, that mongrel species, unknown to nature and antiquity, called tragifomedy. Warburton.
TO this, when Mr. Upton's Dissertation is subjoined, there will, perhaps, be no need of any other account of the Vice.
Like the old Vice.) The allusion here* is to the Vice, a droll character in our old plays, accoutred with a long coat, a cap with a pair of ass's ears, and a dagger of lath. Shakspeare al. ludes to his buffoon appearance in Twelfth Night, Act IV:
“ In a trice, like to the old Vice;-
“ Cries, ah, ha! to the Devil.” In The Second Part of King Henry IV, Act III, Falstaff compares Shallow to a Vice's dagger of lath. In Hamlet, Act III, Hamlet calls his uncle:
“ A vice of kings:” i. e. a ridiculous representation of majesty. These passages the editors have very rightly expounded. I will now mention some
*i. e. p. 3, of Mr. Upton's book, where the words---like the old Vice-occur.
others, which seem to have escaped their notice, the allusions being not quite so obvious.
The iniquity was often the Vice in our moralities; and is in ro. duced in Ben Jonson's play called The Devil's an Ass: and likewise mentioned in his Epigr. cxv:
Being no vitious person, but the Vice
“Of miming, gets th' opinion of a wit.” But a passage cited from his play will make the following ob. servations more plain. Act I, Pug asks the Devil “to lend him a Vice :"
" Satan. What Vice?
“ Pug. Why, any Fraud,
“Or old Iniquity: I'll call him hither." Thus the passage should be ordered:
“ Pug. Why any: Fraud,
“ Enter Iniquity the Vice.
a Vice? “Ere his words be half spoken, I am with him in a trice.” And in his Staple of News, Act II:
“ Mirth. How like you the Vice i'th' play?
“ Expectation. Which is he? “ Mirth. Three or four; old Covetousness, the sordid Penny-Boy, the Money-Bawd, who is a flesh-bawd too, they say. Tattle. But here is never a Fiend to carry
away. Besides, he has never a wooden dagger! I'd not give a rush for a Vice, that has not a wooden dagger to snap at every body he meets.
“ Mirth. That was the old way, gossip, when Iniquity came in, like hokos pokos, in a jogler's jerkin,” &c. He alludes to the Vice in The Alchymist, Act I, sc. iii:
“ Sub. And, on your stall, a puppet, with a Vice.*" Some places of Shakspeare will from hence appear more easy, as in The First Part of King Henry IV, Act II, where Hal hu. morously characterizing Falstaff, calls him, That reverend Vice, that grey Iniquity, that father Ruffian, that Vanity in years, in allusion to this buffoon character. In King Richard III, Act III:
“ Thus like the formal Vice, Iniquity,
I moralize two meanings in one word.”
- a puppet, with a Vice.] Mr. Upton has misinterpreted this passage. A vice in the present instance means a device, clock. work. Coryat, p. 254, speaks of a picture whose eyes were moved by a vice. Farmer.
" Thus like formal-wise antiquity,
“ I moralize: Two meanings in one word.” Which correction is out of all rule of criticism. In Hamlet, Act I, there is an allusion, still more distant, to the Vice; which will not be obvious at first, and therefore is to be introduced with a short explanation. This buffoon character was used to make fun with the Devil; and he had several trite expressions, as I'll be with you in a trice: Ah, ha, boy, are you there? &c. And this was great entertainment to the audience, to see their old enemy so belaboured in effigy. In King Henry V, Act IV, a boy characterizing Pistol, says, Bardolph and Nym had ten times more valour, than this roaring Devil i' the old play: every one may pare his nails with a woo.len dagger.” Now Hamlet, having been instructed by his father's ghost, is resolved to break the subject of the discourse to none but Horatio; and to all others his intention is to appear as a sort of madman; when therefore the oath of secrecy is given to the sentinels, and the Ghost unseen calls out, swear ; Hamlet speaks to it as the Vice does to the Devil. Ah, ha, boy, say'st thoni so? Art thou there, Truepenny? Hamlet had a mind that the sentinels should imagine this was a shape that the devil had put on; and in Act III he is somewhat of this opinion him. self:
" The spirit that I have seen
“Mãy be the devil." The manner of speech therefore to the Devil was what all the audience were well acquainted with; and it takes off, in some measure, from the horror of the scene. Perhaps too the poet was willing to inculcate, that good humour is the best weapon to deal with the Devil. Truepenny, either by way of irony, or li. terally from the Greek, spu' ravov, veterator.
Which word the Scholiast on Aristophanes' Clonds, ver. 447, explains, spéren, 8
περιτετριμμένος εν τοις πράγμασιν εν ημείς TPYΠANON καncū uzy. Several have tried to find a derivation of the Vice: if I should not hit on the right, I should only err with others. The Vice is either a quality personalized, as blh and KAPTOE in He. siod and Æschylus; Sin and Death in Milton; and indeed Vice it. self is a person. B. XI, 527 :
“ And took his image whom they serv'd, a brutisl. Vice.” his image, i. e. a brutish Vice's image: the Vice, Gluttony; 1100 without some allusion to the Vice of the plays: but rather, I think, 'tis an abbreviation of vice-devil, as vice-roy, vice-doges, &c. and therefore properly called the Vice. He makes very free with his master, like most other vice-roys, or prime ministers. So that he is the Devil's Vice, and prime minister; and 'tis this that makes him so saucy. Upton.
Mr. Upton's learning only supplies him with absurdities. His derivation of vice is too ridiculous to be answered.
I have nothing to add to the observations of these learned cri. tics, but that some traces of this antiquated exhibition are still retained in the rustick puppet-plays, in which I have seen the Devil very lustily belaboured by Punch, whom I hold to be the legitimate successor of the old Vice. Fohnson.