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signed, were continued in the younger and more artificial. The dramatic education of the people was prolonged without intermission from the one period into the other.

Of tragedy, in the highest and truest sense of the word, we find but little in the Miracles. Many of the situations, especially the Crucifixion and the Last Judgment, are indeed eminently tragic. But the writer has been content to leave them undeveloped, trusting to the effect of the bare motives and their presentation through the pageant. Having to deal with matter of such paramount importance to every Christian soul, he could hardly have used a more consciously artistic method. In the Chester plays, however, the tragic opportunities of Doomsday are seized upon with some skill. We are introduced to pairs of representative personages standing upon either side of Christ's throne and pleading at His judgment bar. An emperor, a king, a queen, a pope, a judge, and a merchant appear among the damned ; a pope, a king, an emperor, a queen, among the saved. Devils answer to angels. And over all the voice of Christ is heard, arraigning the wicked for their ill deeds done on earth, welcoming the good into the bliss of His society in heaven. The playwright's talent is chiefly exhibited in the elaborate but clear-cut portraiture of the bad folk, each of whom is made too late repentant, uttering his own accusation with groans and unavailing tears. We have before us such a scene as the painter of the Last Judgment represented on the Campo Santo walls at Pisa.

Pathos emerges into more artistic clearness, chiefly,

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I think, because the situations whence it sprang put less of strain upon the writer's religious preconceptions. In the old Italian Divosioni no pathetic motive was more tragically wrought than Mary's lamentation at the foot of the Cross. And this is managed with considerable, though far inferior, effect by the author of the Coventry Mysteries. As in the Italian 'Corrotto,' Mary Magdalen brings the news :

Maria Magdalen.

I would fain tell, Lady, an I might for weeping,

For sooth, Lady, to the Jews He is sold ;
With cords they have Him bound and have Him in keeping,

They Him beat spiteously, and have Him fast in hold.

Maria Virgo.

Ah ! ah ! ah ! how mine heart is cold !

Ah ! heart hard as stone, how mayst thou last ?
When these sorrowful tidings are thee told,

So would to God, heart, that thou mightest brast.

Ah ! Jesu ! Jesu ! Jesu ! Jesu!

Why should ye suffer this tribulation and adversity ?
How may they find in their hearts you to pursue,

That never trespassed in no manner degree ?

For never thing but that was good thought ye.

Wherefore then should ye suffer this great pain ?
I suppose verily it is for the trespass of me,

And I wist that mine heart should cleave on twain.

The Magdalen herself is introduced, upon a previous occasion, for the first time to the audience before the feet of Christ, uttering a prayer, which strikes me in its simplicity as eminently pathetic:

1 See my Renaissance in Italy, vol. iv. p. 293, and the translation of Jacopone's Corrotto in the Appendix.

MARY AND THE MAGDALEN.

125

2

As a cursed creature closed all in care,

And as a wicked wretch all wrapped in woe,
Of bliss was never no berde so base,

1
As I myself that here now go.
Alas ! alas ! I shall forfare,?

For the great sins that I have do ;
Less that my Lord God some deal spare,
And His great mercy receive me to.

Mary Magdalen is my name,
Now will I go to Christ Jesu;
For He is the Lord of all virtue ;
And for some grace I think to sue,

For of myself I have great shame.

Ah ! mercy ! Lord! and salve my sin ;

Maidens flower, thou wash me free;
There was no woman of man his kin

So full of sin in no country.
I have befouled be fryth 3 and fen,

And sought sin in many a city ;
But Thou me borrow, Lord, I shall brenne, 5
With black fiends aye bowne 6 to be.

Wherefore, King of Grace,
With this ointment that is so soot,
Let me anoint Thine holy foot,
And for my bales thus win some boot,

And mercy, Lord, for my trespass.

Later on in the same Miracle, a part of striking interest is assigned to Magdalen, when she goes alone to the grave of Christ, and relates her sorrows to the gardener, who turns and looks upon her uttering the one word · Maria !

The scene in which pathos is most highly wrought with a deliberate dramatic purpose, is the sacrifice of Isaac in the Chester Plays :

a

i Berde-damsel.

Forfare-perish. 3 Fryth-wood. 4 Borrow or Borwe-ransom.

5 Brenne— burn. 6 Bowne--ready. ? Soot-sweet.

Isaac.
Father, tell me, or I go,
Whether I shall be harmed or no.

Abraham.
Ah, dear God, that me is woe !
Thou breaks my heart in sunder.

Isaac.
Father, tell me of this case,
Why you your sword drawn has,
And bears it naked in this place ;
Thereof I have great wonder.

Abraham.
Isaac, son, peace, I thee pray ;
Thou breaks my heart in tway.

Isaac. I pray you, father, lean nothing from me, But tell me what you think.

Abraham.

Ah, Isaac, Isaac ! I must thee kill !

Isaac.
Alas ! father, is that your will,
Your own child for to spill
Upon this hill's brink?
If I have trespassed in any degree,
With a yard you may beat me ;
Put up your sword, if your will be,
For I am but a child.

Abraham.
O my dear son, I am sorry
To do to thee this great annoy.
God's commandment do must I ;
His works are ever full mild.

1 Lean-conceal.

SACRIFICE OF ISAAC.

127

Isaac.
Would God my mother were here with me!
She would kneel down upon her knee,
Praying you, father, if it may be,
For to save my life.

Abraham.

O, comely creature, but I thee kill,
I grieve my God, and that full ill.

Abraham then explains how God has commanded him to slay his son ; and Isaac, when he fully comprehends, is ready for the sacrifice :

Isaac.
But yet you must do God's bidding.

Father, tell my mother for nothing.
[Here ABRAHAM wrings his hands, and saith :]

Abraham.
For sorrow I may my hands wring ;
Thy mother I cannot please.
Ho! Isaac, Isaac, blessed must thou be !
Almost

my

wit I lose for thee; The blood of thy body so free I am full loth to shed.

[Here ISAAC asking his father blessing on his knees, and saith :)

Isaac.
Father, seeing you must needs do so,
Let it pass lightly, and over go ;
Kneeling on my knees two,
Your blessing on me spread.
Father, I pray you hide my een,
That I see not the sword so keen ;
Your stroke, father, would I not see,
Lest I against it grill.

The scene is prolonged for several speeches, Abraham's determination being almost overcome and his

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