Christmas Carols, Ancient And Modern

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xxxi
years.* This control over the expences, however, must soon have ceased, for soon afterwards the sums were much increased. She had plays per­formed before her at Christmas during the greater part of her reign, and the drama assumed a more regular form. " Ferrex and Porrex," the first regu­lar tragedy, and " Gammer Gurton's Needle," were both produced in the commencement of her reign, and in the after part the unrivalled Shakspeare caused a new era in dramatic literature.
Amongst other performances, Collierf mentions one by the boys of the " grammer skolle" of West­minster, in January 1564-5; and in 1573 the chil­dren of Westminster, upon New Yeares Daye at night, performed one called " Truth, Faithfulnesse, and Mercye." This custom of acting plays at or near Christmas, is preserved at Westminster School still, by the representation of one of Terence's plays in the beginning of December. Masques and pageants were in great request as well as plays; and the Inns of Court vied with each other in the magnificence of their revels.
In the 4th of Elizabeth, there was a splendid Christmas kept at the Inner Temple, wherein Lord Robert Dudley (afterwards Earl of Leicester) was the chief person, Constable and Marshal, under the name of Palaphilos, and Christopher Hatton (after­wards Chancellor) was Master of the Game. Pre­vious to this, a sort of parliament was held on St. Thomas's eve, to decide whether they should keep it, and if so, to publish the officers' names, and then " in token of joy and good liking, the bench and company pass beneath the hearth and sii.g a carol, and so to boyer."
* Collier, Hist. vol. i. p. 174. f Vol. i. p. 190.

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