Volltext: A history of caricature and grotesque in literature and art

were divided into three floors, that in the middle, which was the principal 
Rage, reprefenting this world, while the upper divifion reprefented heaven, 
and that at the bottom hell. The mediaeval writers in Latin called this 
machinery a pegma, from the Greek word 7ri1'y,ua,a fcaffold; and they 
alfo applied to it, for a reafon which is not fo eafily feen, unlefs the one word 
arofe out of a corruption of the other, that of pagina, and from a further 
corruption of thefe came into the French and Englith languages the word 
pageant, which originally lignified one of thefe movable Itages, though 
it has fince received fecondary meanings which have a much wider appli- 
cation. Each guild in a town had its pageant and its own a6tors, who 
performed in malks and coltumes, and each had one of a feries of plays, 
which were performed at places where they halted in the proceihon. 
The fubjedts of thefe plays were taken from Scripture, and they ufually 
formed a regular feries of the principal hiltories of the Old and New 
Teftaments. For this reafon they were generally termed myjieries, a 
title already explained; and among the few feries of thefe plays {till 
preferved, we have the " Coventry Myfteries," which were performed by 
the guilds of that town, the " Chefter Myfteries," belonging to the guilds 
in the city of Cheiter, and the " Towneley Myfleries," fo called from the 
name of the poH'eH'or of the manufcript, but which probably belonged to 
the guilds of Wakefield in Yorkfhire. 
During thefe changes in the method of performance, the plays them- 
felves had alfo been confiderably modified. The Iimple Latin phrafes, 
even when in rhyme, which formed the dialogue of the earlier ludi--as 
in the four miracles of St. Nicholas, and the {ix Latin myfteries taken 
from the New Tetlament, printed in my volume of "Early Mylteries 
and other Latin Poems "-mutt have been very uninterefling to the mafs 
of the fpeclators, and an attempt was made to enliven them by intro- 
ducing among the Latin phrafes popular proverbs, or even fometimes a 
fong in the vulgar tongue. Thus in the play of " Lazarus " by Hilarius, 
the Latin of the lamentations of his two lifters is intermixed with French 
verfes. Such is the cafe alfo with the play of " St. Nicholas" by the fame 
writer, as well as with the curious myftery of the Foolilh Virgins, printed 
in my "Early Mylteries" juit alluded to, in which latter the Latin is 


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