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

and Art. 
general perfecution. In 154.3, the vicar of Yoxford, in Sullolk, drew 
upon himlelti the violent hoftility of the other clergy in that county by 
compoiing and cauiing to be performed plays againit the pope's counfellors. 
Six years afterwards, in 154.9, a royal proclamation prohibited for a time 
the performance of interludes throughout the kingdom, on the ground 
that they contained "matter tendyng to fedicion and contempnyng of 
fundery good orders and Iawes, whereupon are growen daily, and are likely 
to growe, muche difquiet, divifion, tumultes, and uproares in this realme." 
From t-his time forward we begin to meet with laws for the regulation of 
ilage performances, and proceedings in cafes of fuppofed infractions of 
them, and it became cultomary to obtain the approval of a play by the 
privy council before it was allowed to be acted. Thus gradually arole the 
office of a dramatic cenfor. 
WVith Bale and with John Heywood, the Englilh plays began to 
approach the form of a regular drama, and the two now rather celebrated 
pieces, "Ralph Roitler Doifler," and "Gammer Gurt0n's Needle," 
which belong to the middle of the iixteenth century, may be confldered 
as comedies rather than as interludes. The former, written by a well- 
known fcholar of that time, Nicholas Udall, matter of Eton, is a 
fatirical picture of fome phafes of London life, and relates the ridiculous 
adventures of a weak-headed and vain-glorious gallant, who believes 
that all the women mufl. be in love with him, and who is led by a needy 
and defiguing parafite named Matthew Merygreeke. Rude as it is as 
a dramatic compofition, it difplays no lack of talent, and it is full 
of genuine humour. The humour in "Gainmer Gurton's Needle" is 
none the lefs rich becaufe it is of coarfer and rather broader cafi. The 
good dame of the piece, Gatnrner Gurton, during an interruption in the 
procelis of mending the breeches of her hufband, Hodge, has loll: her 
needle, and much lamentation follows a misfortune fo great at a time 
when needles appear to have been rare and valuable articles in the rural 
houlehold. In the midft of their trouble appears Diccon, Who is defcribed 
in the dramalis perjimoe as "Diccon the Bedlam," meaning that he was an 
idiot, and who appears to hold the poiition of Vice in the play. Diccon, 
however, though weak-minded, is a cunning fellow, and efpecially given


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