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The Towneley manuscript is in the possession of Major Coates, of Ewell, Surrey. It was written in the second half of the fifteenth century, and was long in the library of Towneley Hall, whence it derived its name. It was then for many years in the possession of Mr. Quaritch, the London bookseller, from whom it has recently passed into the hands of Major Coates. My text is based on the reprint of the manuscript in Mr. George England's edition for the EETS.

3. EDITIONS THE CHESTER PLAYS. 1843–1847. Complete cycle. Chester Mysteries, ed.

Thomas Wright, 2 vols., Shakespeare Society.
Text “from the MS. of 1592 [W], with a few

corrections from that of 1600 [h]. 1853. The same. Printed as vol. 1 of the Supplement

to Dodsley's Old Plays. 1892. Plays 1–13. The Chester Plays, Pt. I., ed.

Hermann Deimling, EETS. Ex. Ser. 62. Text from MS. H, with collations of BW h. Pt. II., containing the rest of the cycle, is promised

by the EETS. THE COVENTRY PLAYS. 1823. Plays 11, 12, 13, 15 (C. I, II, III, IV), abridged

Ancient Mysteries, ed. William Hone. 1838. Play 12 (C. II), abridged. A Collection of Eng

lish Mystery Plays, ed. William Marriott, pub

lished at Basel. 1841. Complete cycle. Coventry Mysteries, ed. J. O.

Halliwell, for the Shakespeare Society. 1890. Play 11 (C.I), abridged. English Miracle Plays, ed. A. W. Pollard.

1900. Play 11 (C. I). Specimens of the Pre-Shak

sperean Drama, ed. J. M. Manly. THE YORK Plays. 1885. Complete cycle. York Mystery Plays, ed. Lucy

Toulmin Smith. THE TOWNELEY PLAYS. 1836. Complete cycle. The Towneley Mysteries, ed.

J. S. Stevenson, for the Surtees Society. 1836. Play 13 (T. IV). Five Myracle Plays, ed. J. P.

Collier. 1838. Play 13 (T. IV). A Collection of English Mir

acle Plays, ed. William Marriott, Basel. 1890.

Plays 13 (T. IV), abridged.
Plays 13 (1.

English Miracle Plays, ed. A. W. Pollard. 1897. Complete cycle. The Towneley Plays, ed. G.

England, EETS. Ex. Ser. 71. 1900. Play 13 (T. IV). Specimens of the Pre-Shak

sperean Drama, ed. J. M. Manly.

4. THE TEXT OF THE CHESTER PLAYS

IN THIS EDITION

Deimling, in his thorough examination of the four manuscripts of the Chester plays which he used-B, W, h, and H-has proved conclusively that the four manuscripts represent two different traditions, B Wh forming one group, and H representing the other (see EETS. Ex. Ser. 62, vii–xxix.). H, the youngest of all the manuscripts, he used as the basis of his text, as it furnishes better readings than any of the other three.

The Devonshire manuscript, however, the basis of the text of the present edition, is particularly important as being the oldest of the five manuscripts, as being representative of Deimling's group, B W h, and as furnishing quite as good readings as the later H.

The evidence in our two plays for the close relation of D to B W h is strong. There are 188 readings in which D agrees with BW h and differs from H; of these, 85 are significant differences, to be considered as direct evidence; the other 103 merely show the general tendency in insignificant readings. Moreover, there are only 28 readings in which D agrees with H and differs from BW h, and of these only 11 are at all significant. I give a list of references to the more significant readings, and for the others refer the reader to the Variants in general. D's relation to B Wh is shown in readings in the following lines (cf. Variants): Ch. I. stage-direction after 64 (two readings), 94, stage-direction after 120, 136, stage-direction after 160, 170, stage-directions after 172 and 176, 194, 199, after 230, 238, 243, stage-direction after 283, 305, 317, 385, 394, stage-direction after 431, 444, 450, stagedirections after 467 and 479, 508, 543 and 544, 589, 590, 591, 641a, II. 5, 6, 22, 31, stage-directions after 40 and 44, 48, 54, before 57, 57 and subsequent headings, 71, 78, 95, 101, 104, 114, after 124, 131, 133, 135, after 136, 144, 170, 171, 175, 185, 187, after 191, 232, 238, 248, 253, 262, 265, after 265, 274, 276, 282, 298, 301, 303, 304-305, 313, 318-319, 322, 342, 348, 384–388, 403, 404, 408, 413, 415, 425, 456, 480, 503, 511, 552–553, 555, 562, 578, 584, 589, 656, 677, 685, 691. The evidence against this relation is found in Ch. I. 25, 127, 244, 571, 678, II. 11, after 164, 195, 347, 403, 471.

In 56 places D offers better readings than any other manuscript; in 34 places D's readings are poor. Comparing this record with that of H, we find that in only 19 places does H offer better readings than any other manuscript, and that in 58 places its readings are poor.

D's superior readings are in the following lines: I. 26, 30, 42, after 48, 71, 102, 135, 146, 207, 229, 331, 341, 346, 354, 393, 464, 502, 514, 545, 550, 588, 629, 701, II. 72, 78, 120, 145, 146, 155, 159, 184, 185, 194, 195, 197, 224, 226, 231, 240, 244, 265, 267, 285, 319, 390, 399, 513, 518, 536, 539, 546, 550, 647, 652, 654. D's inferior readings are in the following lines: I. 19, 32, 51, 103, 203, 236, 339, 341, 346, 367 abcd, 383, 401, after 550, 601, 611, 621, 691, II. 18, 23, 56, 58 (?), 84, 87, 91, 122, 142, 217, 249, 254, 360, 368, 476, 519, 569. H affords the best readings in the following lines : I. 508, 619, 694, II. 22, 54 (?), 123, after 124, 130, 168, 170, 171, after 175, after 191, 221, 233, 286, 352, 505, 668. H's poor readings are in the following lines : I. 93, 94, 194, 238, 305, 317, 394, 444, 450, 464, 590, 591, 648, II. 5, 6, 31, 48, 78, 95, 114, 131, 136, 145, 150, 157, 166, 199, 207, 211, 232, 238, 253, 265, 270, 282, 294, 295, 298, 301, 313, 348, 403, 415, 425, 454, 463, 562, 572, 578, 584, 589, omission of 597–640, 677, omission of 680, 681, 685, 687, 691.

The .scribe of H evidently tried to improve his text by emendation and correction (cf. I. 647-650), by inserting the sources of the narrative from the Vulgate (I. 1 ff.), by adding Latin stage-directions, and by leaving blanks where the stanzaic form seemed imperfect. Sometimes he was successful, but more often he gave the author credit for too much care. In Ch. II. 165-197 he noticeably improves the rime, but succeeds at the same time in destroying the sense and general character of the boy's speech.

D, we have seen, is representative of a group of manuscripts earlier than H, and moreover is as much superior to H as H is superior to the other manuscripts of the earlier group; it is less elaborated than H, and seems to give a version closer to the original plays. 5. THE HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT

OF THE NATIVITY PLAYS

Of all the great feast-days of the Christian year, two stand supreme, Easter and Christmas; in the Church services for these two days lies the origin of the modern drama. Easter is a day of spiritual and mystical significance only, Christmas a day full of vital human interest; and the simplicity and realism of the Christmas story make it far more adaptable to dramatic purposes. And so, although Easter, in the Church service and in the liturgical drama springing from it, holds first place, the Christmas service and Christmas liturgy have resulted in a higher form of drama, and in one which has had much wider influence.

The ultimate source of the drama is in symbolism The central point of the Christmas play is the manger, or præsepe, erected in the churches at Christmas time. We know little of the early history of the Chapel of the Nativity at Bethlehem, but we do know that it existed in the fourth century, and any service held there at Christmas time must inevitably have been dramatic to some degree. In the eighth century, however, we find in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, in Rome, direct evidence of the dramatic nature of the Christmas service. Two boards from the 'true manger' at Bethlehem had been brought to Rome and incorporated in the manger of this church, and on Christmas day the Pope celebrated mass at Santa Maria, using the manger as an altar. There is no record of any dramatic ritual used at this service, but in the setting of the service, and in the presence of the manger, we find the direct ancestor of the liturgical drama; and in so far as this act of worship is an ancestor of the

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