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The description of Everyman

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 come, and their value as early records, have, since Sharp wrote his Dissertation on the Coventry Mysteries in 1816, been fully illustrated. But they have hardly yet reached the outside reader who looks for life and not for literary origins and relations in what he reads. This is a pity, for these old plays hide under their archaic dress the human interest that all dramatic art, no matter how crude, can claim when it is touched with our real emotions and sensations. They are not only a primitive religious drama, born of the church and its feasts; they are the genuine expression of the town life of the English people when it was still lived with some exuberance of spirits and communal pleasure. As we read them, indeed, though it be in cold blood, we are carried out of our book, and set in the street or market-square by the side of the "commons and countrymen," as in the day when Whitsuntide, or Corpus Christi, brought round the annual pageantry to Chester, Coventry, York, and other towns.
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