Reference > Cambridge History > The Drama to 1642, Part One > The Early Religious Drama > Interlude of the Nature of the Four Elements
  Effects of Humanism on Mysteries and Moralities Treatment of educational, political, and ecclesiastical questions in the Morality  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume V. The Drama to 1642, Part One.

III. The Early Religious Drama.

§ 27. Interlude of the Nature of the Four Elements.


But, besides these, there are other moralities extant, where, as in Skelton’s Magnyfycence, the old form is animated by new matter. The most remarkable among these plays is the Interlude of the Nature of the Four Elements by John Rastell (d. 1536), Sir Thomas More’s brother-in-law and London printer. Here, man is diverted, by the allegorical figures of Sensual Appetite and Ignorance, from the study of geography, into which Natura naturata and Studious Desire are about to initiate him; the latter shows him, in a map, the new countries discovered twenty years ago, and expresses his regret that the English cannot claim the glory of having been the discoverers. In the prologue, the author shows himself a prudent and far-seeing man; he says it is not good to study invisible things only and not to care for this visible world. An educational and scientific tendency is also proper to three plays in which the marriage of Wit and Science is represented; in his allegorical quest of a bride, Wit appears like the hero of a romance of chivalry: he slays the monster Tediousness and, thereby, wins the hand of his beloved. The oldest of these plays dates from the reign of Henry VIII, and was composed by a schoolmaster named Redford; the repeated variation of this theme shows how familiar pedagogues were with the conception of a regular course of study as a conflict sustained against hostile powers. Similarly, in the morality All for Money, by Thomas Lupton (printed 1578), the value of a scientific education is dwelt upon, and, as has happened very often since the secularisation of the learned professions, the insufficient appreciation of scholarly labours, and the inadequate reward meted out to them, are lamented. These ideas Lupton symbolises by new allegorical impersonations, some of the strangest creations in this kind of literature, e.g., Learning-with-Money, Learning-without-Money, Money-without-Learning, Neither-Money-nor-Learning.   37

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Effects of Humanism on Mysteries and Moralities Treatment of educational, political, and ecclesiastical questions in the Morality  
 
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