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INTRODUCTION By craftsmen and mean men, these pageants are played,And to commons and countrymen accustomably before:If better men and finer heads now come, what can be said? The pageants of the old English town-guilds, and the other mysteries and interludes that follow, have still an uncommon reality about them if we take them in the spirit in which they were originally acted. Their office as the begetters of the greater literary drama to... more...

ACT I It is Ascension Day in a village of the West. In the lowpanelled hall-sittingroom of the BURLACOMBE'S farmhouse on thevillage green, MICHAEL STRANGWAY, a clerical collar round histhroat and a dark Norfolk jacket on his back, is playing theflute before a very large framed photograph of a woman, which isthe only picture on the walls. His age is about thirty-five hisfigure thin and very upright and his clean-shorn face thin,upright, narrow,... more...

INTRODUCTORY NOTE ROBERT BROWNING stands, in respect to his origin and his career, in marked contrast to the two aristocratic poets beside whose dramas his "Blot in the 'Scutcheon" is here printed. His father was a bank clerk and a dissenter at a time when dissent meant exclusion from Society; the poet went neither to one of the great public schools nor to Oxford or Cambridge; and no breath of scandal touched his name. Born in London in 1812, he... more...

ACT I SCENE I The study of JOHN BUILDER in the provincial town of Breconridge.A panelled room wherein nothing is ever studied, except perhapsBUILDER'S face in the mirror over the fireplace. It is, however,comfortable, and has large leather chairs and a writing table in thecentre, on which is a typewriter, and many papers. At the back is alarge window with French outside shutters, overlooking the street,for the house is an old one, built in an... more...

PREFACE. After the lapse of about half a century since the issue of the last edition of Dodsley's Select Collection of Old Plays,[1] and the admittance of that work into the honourable rank of scarce and dear books, it seemed a desirable thing to attempt, with such additional improvements as might be practicable or expedient, a revival of a publication which has been a favourite with the lovers of our early drama since its first publication more... more...


INTERLUDE OF YOUTH. CHARITY.Jesu that his arms did spread,And on a tree was done to dead,From all perils he you defend!I desire audience till I have made an end,For I am come from God aboveTo occupy his laws to your behove,And am named Charity;There may no man saved beWithout the help of me,For he that Charity doth refuse,Other virtues though he do use,Without Charity it will not be,For it is written in the faith:Qui manet in charitate in Deo... more...

Four of the five ensuing Plays belong to a peculiar class of our early dramatic performances never yet especially noticed, nor sufficiently illustrated. Many specimens have of late years been printed, and reprinted, of Miracle-plays, of Moral-plays, and of productions written in the most matured period of our dramatic literature; but little or nothing has been done to afford information respecting a species of stage-representation which... more...

SUMMER'S LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT.[16] Enter WILL SUMMER,[17] in his fool's coat but half on, coming out. Noctem peccatis et fraudibus objice nubem.[18] There is no such fine time to play the knave in as the night. I am a goose or a ghost, at least; for what with turmoil of getting my fool's apparel, and care of being perfect, I am sure I have not yet supp'd to-night. Will Summer's ghost I should be, come to present you with "Summer's Last Will... more...

FIRST ACT SCENE The octagon room at Sir Robert Chiltern’s house in Grosvenor Square. [The room is brilliantly lighted and full of guests.  At the top of the staircase stands lady chiltern, a woman of grave Greek beauty, about twenty-seven years of age.  She receives the guests as they come up.  Over the well of the staircase hangs a great chandelier with wax lights, which illumine a large eighteenth-century French... more...

PROLOGUE Overture; forest sounds, roaring of lions, Christian hymn faintly. A jungle path. A lion's roar, a melancholy suffering roar, comes from the jungle. It is repeated nearer. The lion limps from the jungle on three legs, holding up his right forepaw, in which a huge thorn sticks. He sits down and contemplates it. He licks it. He shakes it. He tries to extract it by scraping it along the ground, and hurts himself worse. He roars piteously.... more...