Masque of the Edwards of England (1902)

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The Masque of the Edwards of England, being a Coronation Pageant to celebrate the crowning of the King  (1902) 
by Charles Robert Ashbee

A pageant written for the coronation of Edward VII, but not performed. Illustrations are by Edith Harwood, and are meant to depict the coronation ceremonies of all Kings of England bearing the name Edward, beginning with the Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Confessor. The volume was printed in black and red ink, with hand-coloured illustrations. It was given a limited run of 300 as an oblong folio, with 20 additional copies on vellum.

The Masque of the Edwards of England by C. R. Ashbee & Edith Harwood
Essex House Press






The symbolic figures:

The Ten Centuries of England:


The grotesque figures:

The Ten Imps of Progress:

CRITICISM: A grey beast with green eyes and antennae.
ENTERPRISE: A riotous, restless, mercurial imp, uncontrolled and lawless, carries a map of the world on which be continually scribbles.
EVOLUTION: A thing that is purblind and formless though it may for the purposes of the Masque, and in mockery of man, appear as the ape or angel from whom by descent he fell.
REVOLUTION: A Christmas pantomime tumbler, decked in the scarlet cap and borrowed rags of the French sansculotte.
RADICALISM: A very hoary animal, half decayed, & with its three lame legs still trying to be of the advance.
JINGOISM: Dressed like the ass in the fable, with the skin of the British Lion upon him.
L'ART NOUVEAU: A commercial looking creature and of temperament hermaphroditic.
NEUROSIS: A strange womanish thing, sour visaged, with a book of problem plays in its hand.
VANDALISM: Dressed somewhat as a small grocer in holiday attire, but with wings that are not serviceable for flying.
SELF COMPLACENCY: May satirise any British politician of either party.

The figures in the pageant, appearing in the meinies of the Ten Centuries of England:

In the meinie of the Eleventh Century:


In the meinie of the Twelfth Century:


In the meinie of the Thirteenth Century:


In the meinie of the Fourteenth Century:


In the meinie of the Fifteenth Century:


In the meinie of the Sixteenth Century:


In the meinie of the Seventeenth Century:


In the meinie of the Eighteenth Century:


In the meinie of the Nineteenth Century:


In the meinie of the Twentieth Century:

The Dancers and Musicians in the dance of the City State.




The Prolocutor robed as in the manner of the Doctor in the old Moralities, with inkhorn and pen at his girdle, with a wreath of the poets' bays about his head, and holding in his hand a vellum scroll, enters upon his place and speaks.


Here in this scroll I hold is writ a story, the story of the Edwards of England; how they came to their kingship and how their people held them. Of this story, though somewhat already ye know, yet ye shall now have an hour's rendering a fuller telling, and as the Ten Centuries of England pass with pomp and play before you, pass with music that touches the heart strings, and in movement stately, sober and glad for the lust of the eye, ye shall gather in epitome all that is best and noblest of the time of their coming and going. Each Century brings her meinie, each Edward brings his lesson.

Here shall ye see in dumb show, not only the passing of Kings, but symboled in music, rhyme and movement, those inner things in human history to which the Present is ever as a child, but which the Time to come knows, and sees with the grey eye of discernment. Nothing do we know but what exists, and a little of what has been, nothing do we need to know but the Beauty that exists, and the great abundance of the Beauty that has been.

In this Masque of the crowning, behold then a little of the Beauty that is, behold in presentation, abundance of the Beauty that was. Shall ye ask what Beauty, and History that like a crystal cup contains it, stand for? Know then that it is for the sweeter, the nobler, the diviner living of life for all. On the summits of the Past do we get the outlook into the future, & as the vision grows clearer there comes to us the gift of prophecy—the divine prophecy, the interpretation of the meaning of God.

Follow then to my calling, like some wizard who unlocks strange things and wonderful, the Ten Centuries of England, each with her symbol, her meaning in Time; follow after them the wild Imps of Progress ever present, ever destructive, ever creating in their own despite, Life out of Death; follow the kings, the Edwards, in whose honour this Masque is presented. There shall be music and rhyming for you, mad and lyrical, & the energies of Progress shall come as they are felt; the energies of Progress ever present, ever destroying, ever creating in their own despite, Life out of Death.

And in the end of all ere the Present is played to you in the symbol of the crowning of the King, shall then be danced and piped to you by the children an antimasque, in allegory of the Time. Life is brief, and briefer are its moments of discernment, therefore take of it now what you can, and let us go together into the region of historic phantasy. See—see them as they come passing across this little world stage the Ten Centuries of England!

The Ten Centuries of England pass slowly across the inner scene in dumb show, they are veiled and hooded in long flowing robes; when the last Century has passed the music begins, and after some twenty bars they re-enter on the outer scene singing the song following:


A thousand years, a thousand years,
Passionless mummers here below,
Our silent passing by appears
But as the shadow of a show
Enacted in sublimer spheres
Remote from human joy or tears.

Silent we come and silent go,
Bearing the pall of pomp and pride,
Here as we pass in pageant slow,
The Present, straining, eager-eyed,
Searches the Past, and strives to know
What seed our shadowy fingers sow.

They fling seed before them, & as it falls, a cloud-like incense rises, behind which they slowly move, and thus continue their singing:

What seed, what seed, sweet blossomings,
Perfume of each perfected hour,
Murmur of life and throb of wings,
All as the pulse of some far power
That still to rhythmic purpose brings
The unfathomable scheme of things.

The timeless pulse of some far power
Moves, as it moves us all, and sears
The falling leaf with gold, 'tis our
Charge to collect and crown the years,
And though we hungrily devour,
We save in thought each perfect flower.

A thousand years, a thousand years,
Each Century its part to play;
Mark as the misty curtain clears,
What form, what symbol, what array,
What thought the soul of man endears
With each, mark each as it appears.

At this their veils and robes fall from them and they stand revealed as here following:

The Eleventh Century; a warrior to symbolise the Norman Conquest.

The Twelfth Century; a pilgrim as symbolising the crusading movement.

The Thirteenth Century; a bishop as standing for the power of the Mediæval Church.

The Fourteenth Century; a preaching friar as meaning the charity and faith of the Middle Ages.

The Fifteenth Century; an abbot as expressive of their splendid fulfilment.

The Sixteenth Century; A poet of the time of the new learning.

The Seventeenth Century; a puritan as meaning the soul of man freed and self depending.

The Eighteenth Century; a seaman as standing for the militant England.

The Nineteenth Century; an economist as for England the market of the world.

The Twentieth Century; a child with a wand of gold.

They then move in a majestic figure across the stage to a triumphal music, singing the hymn following, after which they pass out.


Ours is the hymn of England, grey jewel of the seas,
Ours is the hymn of England, mother of strength and ease,
Where the ocean mist is blown in the sun through orchards of lichened trees.

Mother of fame and fable, music and myth and song,
She who has rocked the cradle of the knowledge of right and wrong,
And of justice reaching out on the earth, stern, steadfast and strong.

Ours is the hymn of England, home of college & hall,
Home of tower and castle, church and the grey church wall,
Cloistered garth and ingled hearth & the beauty that binds them all.

The rose is born for England, yea and her heroes prove
How her old exalted story is young with the flush of love,
Her mantle of waters about her, her sky of birds above.

The swift ships speed for England, and as they cleave the sea
They bear with them the burden of her strenuous majesty,
The flag of her past flies at the mast, her future is yet to be.

The great white cliffs of England stand to the Channel main,
The firm white cliffs of England, beaten with wind and rain,
That thousands of seamen have watched & loved as they drew home again.

The dear green fields of England in the misty morning light,
Wake with a myriad dimple, purple, yellow & white,
Blessing the inner eye of thought with the gift of second sight.

Ours is the hymn of her painters, and the long illumined roll
Of her men of thought and science, honour and self-control;
Purcell is of her players, Shakespeare speaks to her soul.

Ours is the song of her builders, of them that have set in stone
The mark of a deep endeavour, their own & more than their own,
And the silent might of the toil that lives and loves and bides unknown.

Ours is the hymn of England, and far in the future we
Chaunting the hymn of England and her great destiny,
Fortell the love we love so well and the power we forsee.

The stage then darkens, and there shows upon the scene, but indistinctly, a Will-o'-the-wisp-like light, as it moves to and fro swinging to the rhythm of the music there shall be heard behind the scene the following song:


Everything passes,
Everything flows,
Shrivel the grasses,
Withers the rose,
Withers the rose as it blesses the tree,
And the wreck of its leafage and perfume is left as it ceases to be.

Everything changes,
Everything dies,
Passion estranges,
Poesy flies,
Poesy flies and the sound of the dart
As it wings to the wound is alive with the pain that it brings—it shall smart.

At this point the Imps enter, but it being dark they are hardly seen. It shall, however, be evident that they follow the Will-of-the-wisp light, hovering after it with backs bent and arms outstretched as if catching and groping for something they cannot attain:

Follow illusion,
Tumble and toss,
We bring confusion
Crabbed and cross,
Cross as the racket and rage we provoke,
And the end when you've got it, we give it you—smoke, only smoke!

Ours to dissever,
Ours to destroy,
Sorrow is ever
The sequel of joy,
Sorrow that squats on the crown of the king,
And that lurks in the whips and the stings & the pangs and the scorpions we bring.

All now grows to a wild fantastic dance with waving of hands and arms, and metrical stamping of the feet at the ending of the verses.

Ours to unravel
Sorrow and joy,
Swiftly we travel,
Swiftly destroy;
Look! for the light is alive on the ground
And the truth, and the myth, and the metal we touch, is it sound, is it sound?

Ho Jack-o-Lantern
Hovering nigh!
Hail Jack-o-Lantern
Up in the sky!
Up in the sky or threading the earth;
In the death and decay and despair that we bring, we bring birth, we bring birth!

Birth in the mildew,
Birth in the mire,
All that has filled you
With impotent ire,
All that shall stand for the rage we inflame,
The new life engendered in failure and death and destruction and shame.

Ho Jack-o-Lantern,
Glittering and blue!
Hail Jack-o-Lantern,
Glimmering through!
Through from the far, the impossible goal,
That mocks as it lures and affrights & dismays—if there is one—the soul.

Everything passes,
Everything flows,
Shrivel the grasses,
Withers the rose,
Withers the rose as it colours the tree,
And the sense of its loveliness only survives as it ceases to be.

The song gradually dies out in a tripping movement, and the Imps end the song with a ripple of mocking laughter, dancing out as they go, but still following the light unapproachable, and so the scene closes.



The curtains open and reveal a scene simply painted in allegory, of London and Westminster, conceived in grey and gold, and in such rendering as the Italian architects of the early renaissance time were wont to draw their work, a curtain of symbolic buildings, shown neither structurally nor in perspective, but yet so shown that they shall seek to display the soul & spirit of all building. And on this curtain there shall be pictured in suggestion, the Tower of London with the old Bridge of Peter of Colechurch, the Abbey of Westminster, old and new St. Paul's, St. Saviour's Southwark; St. Mary le Bow of Wren; Whitehall of Inigo Jones; Somerset House with Waterloo Bridge; the Charterhouse of Eveleigh; the Christ's Hospital of the blue coat boys, and old Temple Bar.

The Prolocutor steps into his place, music playing the while, when there shall slowly enter, one following the other, the Edwards of England, that is to say Edward the Confessor up to Edward the VI., each attended with such characters in the Masque as may seem fit. They shall pass across the inner scene, and as each passes in order, the Prolocutor shall rehearse the stories here written. At the close of each story there shall be music, and each following king shall enter to the sound of a horn or trumpet.

Enters first Edward the Confessor: he is clad as for the crowning.


This king came just as the island kingdom bad risen into life from the sea. He was the last of the Edwards yet not the last, the first of the Edwards yet not the first, & men called him the Confessor, for that he was holy and they loved him. He had hair like yellow flame, and long fingers smooth as the almond, and his countenance shone with a light that was not of this earth. There were legends and sweet tales about him & the cures were many that he wrought, for it was he who carried the Irish beggar on his back to the high altar, that God's miracle might be worked in the face of all men. But the greatest of his gifts to the people whom he loved, was his gift of the Abbey of Westminster on Thorney Island. There should be a great offering made to the Lord, & founded unto all time, so he chose for this offering a spot blessed with many blessings.

A fisherman was once casting his net for salmon at Lambeth, the hythe of the lambs, his luck was against him & he caught nought; & as be watched and waited, dour of mind, an ancient beckoned to him from the bank. "Friend," said be, "take me into thy craft and carry me over to Thorney Eye." And the fisherman obeyed him. Now when they had crossed the stream, the ancient said unto him, "Wait here to carry me back, & whatsoever thou seest treasure it in thy heart." And the fisherman marvelled, waiting. Then of a sudden the heavens opened with a great light, and a ladder of angels came from the sky, & the lower end of the ladder was set upon the little Church in Thorney, and before the door of it stood the ancient. And lo, it was St. Peter himself, and he crossed seven crosses on the door, blessing the church that was to be founded in his name. The fisherman fell upon his knees and prayed, and when the saint came back he trembled before him. But St. Peter spake kindly unto him and said, "Friend, thou hast seen a great sign that shall live into the ages to come. Now carry me back to Lambeth and cast thy net once more into the flood, & from the great haul that thou shalt make, bring of the first fruits thereof to the King and tell him that I, Peter, have blessed my own minster, and blessed it shall remain as long as the English folk be true to it." Then the little craft shot back as a moving flame on the water to Lambeth and it was even as the saint had told.

Mark him this king, a dreamer, a seer of visions, a teller of symbols. For in the early world these things have need, these things have reason, they are as the mother tales told at the cradle of the race. Learn ye to dream and pray when ye are young, and ye shall learn to do mightily when ye come to the years of your strength. Righteousness and the might of righteousness is a great tree, and its roots are in the silent earth that dreams darkly, warm with the promise of the future and hidden from the eye. Mark him this king.

When the Confessor has passed out the Ten Centuries move in solemn, stately measure across the front stage. The measure shall be musical and in the manner of a Greek movement, the grace and dignity of it given in great part by the flow of the drapery; at the close of it the trumpet sounds & there enters Edward the Lawgiver, clothed in full armour, crowned and bearing sword and scroll.


This king was a mighty warrior, a wise lawgiver, a sweet lover, of great constancy, great chivalry, great gentleness, and for all these things, yea and even for his bursts of fury, the people loved him. His queen, the good queen Elinor, was as wise & tender as he, for of her it is written how she sucked the poison from his wound when he fought for the sepulchre of Christ in the Holy Land. And when she came to die he vowed to God that he would make the earth blossom with carven crosses of Calvary wheresoever her sweet body rested in the slow march of the hearse from the place of her death in the midlands even to her last resting place on Thorney Island, and of these crosses up to the tomb many stand to this day, & where she lies at rest beneath a wondrous wicker of iron, with rows of prickets for the lights of her reminder, there is carven about her, for she was a lady of piety, of modesty, of pity, the legend, "Mulier pia, modesta, misericors, Anglicorum omnium amatrix."

Even as the crosses of Calvary so were the buildings of this king, the foundations that he laid, the laws that he gave, for he was a great builder, and not of stone alone; for stone perishes, but the laws of wisdom abide. So wise were his dooms that men called him the English Justinian, and we in the Centuries that come after, and all our brethren and cousins in the uttermost parts of the sea, dwell under the shadow of his law, for his law was great for the love in it, hidden as a clove in the shell. He knew how that it was not the will of one man that maketh the wisest of laws, but the longing and the wit of many interpreted by the wisdom of one. Thus came he to be Edward the Lawgiver.

Mark him as he rides; splendid before all people, with the hammer of the Scots at his girdle; and as he rides the folk cheer him for they love him for his great stature as for his great heart; and Longshanks was for him a name of honour, for great men are homely, & great men are humble.

Again the Centuries move in stately measure, weaving a figure across the outer stage, till the tucket again sounding, the next Edward enters. He is clothed in a plain black gown—rough and simple—and bears the crown in his hands as if surrendering it.


This king fell. And in the reign of this king was it shown, how though God may choose a king and set him on a throne, give the soul of him birth, and the hand of him power, the brain of him wit, cunning and wisdom, yea all the fine intelligence of all the Plantagenets, yet a people is also of God, a part of God, and they may uncrown him, destroy him and cast him forth if he act unkingly. The second Edward was thus cast forth, and the doom of him was a terrible doom, less in the dying than that he brake his coronation oath.

Ye shall know that the kings of England, and it is a divine privilege they enjoy, are at their coronation wedded to their people with a ring, St. Edward's ring. This affiance, if it be broken, as at one time or other it hath been, brings sorrow, and it brought sorrow to this king.

Ye have heard, too, of the fight wherin with five hundred of his knights he fled before the Scottish host. Long has the tale been told, many the songs that have been sung, of the woe that came to England at the hands of Robert the Bruce, the sorrow of the stricken field.

By the Bannock Burn did these two kings meet, great was the victory of the Scot, pitiless the rout of the English, no power of horse or flower of knighthood could break the locked masses and woven circles of northern spears in that day; shall ye wonder that this King fell?

Yet it was less for the beaten leader than for the broken oath of his crowning that his people cast him off. Crownings are of God, say the English? so also are uncrownings, and when in lieu of pall and dalmatic, alb and tunicle of linen, the sword of mercy and the sword of justice; when in lieu of spurs and crown, of orb and sceptre this king stood at last before his people clad in a plain black gown, it was a voice, the voice that is behind all peoples and all kings that spake to him through the proctor of the parliament of England. "We" said the voice, "do render and give back to you, Edward, once King of England, our homage and fealty; we are quit and discharged thereof in the best manner that law and custom will give, and we now make protestation that we will no longer be in your fealty and allegiance, nor claim to hold anything of you as King, but will account you hereafter as a private person without any manner of royal dignity." Thus spake the voice of the people of England, and the steward of the household stood forth and brake his staff of office as a sign that in this King the kingship was dead, for it is only at the death of a king that the white staff of office is broken.

And yet, for the good and ill of this life is divided as sunlight on the two sides of a green grass blade, there was a strange love in this King, a love mayhap that undid him, for has not one of our great poets if we are to believe the truth of his words not merely as the divine truth of poesy, told of this love? Ye have heard, then, how this King fell.

Again the Centuries pass their figure across the outer stage—it is now one of mourning and melancholy—till again the trumpet sounds, and there enters Edward the King of Chivalry, he is splendidly clad as stepping from a page of the great Chronicle.


This King was the King of Chivalry. It was to him were brought by his splendid son as a trove on the glorious field of Crecy the three white plumes of service, the three feathers of Bohemia that stand to the honour of the Black Prince, and the Prince of Wales even unto this day. At his crowning, the sword of state and the shield of state, even now shall ye see them in the Minster of Thorney Island, were carried in honour before him, and the priest in his honour preached on the saw, 'Vox populi, vox Dei.' Many have asked since whether the saw be true. Yet true it was for him and for his father before him.

This King, too, loved the craftsmen, & the Guilds were great in his day. They honoured him and wrought for him, & many, after they had forged steel, and graved armour for him in the fair city of London, followed him across the waters to France, and drew bow for him at Crecy. Himself was a Guildsman of London & for his prowess an armourer. He too was the first of the English Kings that made compact with the sea, and the sea showed him of her mystery, of her strong silent power, and how that with her in the end, with her as an ally, after all battles were won and lost, all treaties made or broken, with her in the end, and by the grace of God, lay the last dominion, the sealed word of rulership.

Ye shall see him as be sits on the prow of his vessel speeding from the Island Kingdom, the sails big with conquest and prophecy. It is writ in the Chronicle of Froissart the knight, how they sang songs as he came across the waters, and to them that have sailed the seas for full five hundred years, trolling chanties, this first coining of the barque of Chivalry, the herald of the ironclad, is fraught with meaning. Verily to all of English blood, the craft of Chivalry is the craft of the seas, for though gilded prows and oaken timbers are no more, though the sun lights no longer the woven badges of Flanders, yet the soul of man has touched the chivalry of steel, & the sun sparkles with a keener brilliance on the fierce iron as it forges windless through the waves.

As he was first in Chivalry, so was he first in English song, for in his day was born to England the father of her singers. Melody of birds, perfume of the rose, sound & music of many strings, and all the colour, the shimmer, the broidery of the Tourney, all that is joyous and debonair in life, go with Dan Chaucer as be peers before him, twinkling merriment, weighing rhyme. Verily it is good to be English for Dan Chaucer's sake, for his were lips kissed by the sunshine, and the sweet voice of him is as pearls rippling in a golden tressure of beauty.

The music plays again, and now triumphantly, the Ten Centuries once more lead their figure across the outer scene; it is now quicker, firmer and more lordly, and their movement is as it were a march of triumph. When the trumpet blows and there enters as before on the inner scene King Edward Fourth. He is robed for the crowning, and brings with him a printed book.


This King carries with him the white rose of York. Among the most beautiful of English Kings was he, but of that beauty which snares the wearer, and less because the Gods loved him, than for over good living, did he die young. Yet was he a wise statesman, and a notable captain, & the land, that sore needed it, had peace in his day. Best was, however, that the people loved him and the love of a people is a strange and wondrous thing, for it is given less for this or for that, for one quality or for another, than in token of some spirit indefinable, some hidden grace which men cannot explain, though they feel that it is there, a grace that is put forth mayhap as the perfume of a white rose.

Great was he also for one thing, thought but a little thing in his time, yet the deeds of warriors and the vaunted things that men so highly praise in the days of their achievement are often but as chaff to Time the cutter, while the tiny living grains hide with us from the winnowing. Now this little thing was that he befriended, and cherished on Thorney, in the Chapel at Westminster, England's master printer, the first that gave her the printed book; and to this day in the gatherings of men in their unions & the many-mouthed meetings of compositors and pressmen, they call him that has most age and reverence among them the 'Father of the Chapel' in honour of Caxton. Mark him, this King, and deal tenderly with his memory, for though he was terrible in his wrath & indolent in his tenderness, yet was be a strong man, & it is strong men that make a great people.

Once more the Greek figure is danced to music across the outer scene till at the sound of the horn there enters Edward the Child King. He is dressed in the manner usually known of the princes in the Tower. He has no company with him but his little brother whom he leads by the hand.


This King came to great sorrow, for the Crook-back killed him ere ever he came to the crowning. His little life was as that of a seedling cast on rocky ground, that withers away ere the sun has half blossomed it into being. To him the White Tower of Rufus was the tomb, and his bones were hidden away there under the hard stones, the stones that had seen many tragedies and few so bitter.

He was the child's King, and men knew him but as a child, and what shall a child do amid hard & selfish men whose love is power, whose power is gold. Christ cares for the little ones, and men say how maybe the Christ took him to another kingdom, a better even than the fair kingdom of England, giving him first a blossom from the crown of thorns, and that is an everlasting crown, whose rubies are tears of blood, whose pearls are the milk of innocence, and the green stones in it are as the tender blossoms of the young Spring that is seen but for a moment with the inner eye and so passes out of sight.

This was the Fifth Edward, though he never came to the crowning you shall see him ride through London to his doom, reigning as for a children's hour, his kingship played as in a little child's game. There are grey knights in armour at his side and a red cardinal, and though the trumpets blow to honour his coming, their blast is hollow in vanity, and all is for naught.

Again the Centuries play their figure across the outer stage, and at the sound of the trumpet enters the last of the pageant, Edward VI., he is clad as in the Holbein pictures.


This King is the King of boys, and boys have honoured him to all time, for his boy's heart loved them. They call him the founder; the little founder, for he never grew to be a man. Ye shall know him by his tender, pinched face, a face that is full of love and thought. There is a feather in his cap and jewels in the band of it, there is white samite & ermine on his shoulder, and an order on his breast, great painters have pictured him, and his little face hangs in galleries and halls of piety and great learning, but all this is but as the passing of a pageant, all this is but as the portraiture of a moment taken in the flush of time; for the little King passed out of ken ere the bread that be had cast upon the waters came back. Not unto us, oh Lord, not unto us! But to them that follow after, the children that reap of the little founder's sowing, to them that have builded his England, have honoured his founding, have given her life and her greatness, have spoken with the lips of her learning, in the words of her wisdom, have sprung from her schools and her colleges, to them the little founder has been a symbol of all good things, he cast the bread upon the waters & they have found it after many days.

His too was the book, the book of the Prayers of England, for the tongue that he first spake was the tongue of the Psalms of David, great was the voice, mighty was the burden of it. It came as the call of a trumpet, as a swift light, an awakening. As the fiery cross to the clans it stirred the hearts of the people, it spake with a voice that they knew, a peal that was clear to them. This, this was the gift, the best and the greatest of the gifts of the little founder.

Edward the founder having passed out, the Ten Centuries close the scene with a final treasure, in the course of which they once more throw seed before them, which rises in incense-like fumes before the stage, and they silently disappear.




The scene opens again as at the close of the first scene with a suggestion of the Will-o'-the-wisp light and a tripping ecstatic music. The Imps of Progress tumble on to the stage in a fantastic and frolicsome dance.

ALL. We're the sting in the tail and the trick up the sleeve,
The crab in the apple, the make-believe,
Not wicked exactly, nor quite understood,
Not modest, and certainly none of us good;
But a pique in the passion, a joy in the pain,
And we cloy the fine appetite ventured again,
Or ventured too often, for shall not a drouth,
Or hunger surcharged leave taste in the mouth?
To our father the mighty Negation we owe
The best of the mischief we practise below.
Yet in spite of the prigs and the preachers that flout us,
The earth were a woe-begone region without us.

They run out with great laughter, and return dragging in a large cauldron or melting pot on wheels, and with it a number of strange objects, symbols, images, dummy figures, and men of straw. In the cauldron is a great spoon.

ALL. Ho, ho, for the melting pot!
Bubbling, seething, simmering hot,
Flame and fury, powder and shot,
What have ye got? What have ye got?
Lost ideals, distrust and doubt,
What have ye got? What have ye got?
Green-eyed jealousy, grey dry rot,
It goes in thus, and it comes out what?
Relics and rags and things worn out,
What have ye got? What have ye got?
Sham and pretence and disbelief,
The jeer that is flung at the penitent thief,
Broken trust and belated grief,
Leaping, lathering, flaming hot,
What have ye got? What have ye got?
All goes into the melting pot!

While they thus madly sing they fling things into the pot, making a mighty pother, whereupon Self-Complacency, the eminently British Imp, struts to the centre and seizes the spoon.

enough and to spare,
Self-Complacency takes the chair!
Fill it too full, the brew won't churn,
Progress is orderly! Speak in turn!

(There is an embarrassing pause.

Stand to attention and if you please,
Speak in the spirit of journalese,
Speak first you, cross, crooked, and lissom,
You of the ragged witticism,
What have you brought us, Criticism?

CRITICISM: In an age when creation is chary and dark,
The critic slimes forth like a slug on the bark,
In a zig-zag he crawls up the walls to the eaves,
He soddens the rosebuds, he nibbles the leaves;
With his pip, and his pitiful, pale palinodes,
Aesthetic, dramatic, bis paunch like a toads
That be puffs and puffs out till one day he explodes.
Progress is acid, and Progress corrodes,
Mine's a career misunderstood,

SELF-COM.: Fling in of your sourest mood.

CRITIC.: Genius misjudged, reviewer reviewed!

(He throws in.

ALL: Ho, ho, for the melting pot,
Bubbling, seething, simmering hot,
It goes in thus and it comes out what?

SELF-COM.: You of the restless ruby eyes,
What have you brought us Enterprise?

ENTERPRISE: What have I brought to fling in the hash?
I am Enterprise, riotous, reckless and rash;
Of infinite credit and limited cash,
One day I am drunken, flushed shallow with wine,
While another I'm floated like shares on a mine.
In England we stick, we compete and we fume,
Grow grey in the race,—there's no room, there's no room!
But away at the ends of the earth it is breezier,
We can shoot, ride &,—raid be it said,—in Rhodesia,
Quit of 'caste mark' and 'slum' and 'desirable mansion,'
We indulge in what's commonly known as expansion,
We dump down the rubbish, give up the grimaces,
And enjoy ourselves, i.e., kick over the traces.
Is there trouble ahead, is there danger, we bluff it!
And is there a war;—why there's Kipling to puff it!
Even Progress may sometimes be born on a bubble,
Be as smoke in the wind, or as flame in the stubble.

SELF-COM.: Into the pot with it, leave your lies,
What have you brought us, Enterprise?
Be of your puff and pretence more chary!

ENTER.: A gunboat and a missionary.

(He throws them in.

SELF-COM.: Tut! that's commonplace, stir the brine.

ENTER.: A bull & a bear and a Wall Street mine.

(He throws them in.

ALL: Ho, ho, for the melting pot,
Bubbling, simmering, seething hot,
It goes in thus, and it comes out, what?

SELF-COM.: Put your deposit in solution,
What have you brought us, Evolution?

EVOLUTION: I, the unknown, on every one's tongue,
To bewilder the old and betray the young,
With my modern gospel of pits and gins,
The cultured excuse for a number of sins,
I am the unknown God, my art
Can blind the eyes and steel the heart.
I regulate life, I give to the kiss
A scientific analysis.
The complacent christian I can twist
Into a sleek materialist,
While I burn as a quaking, perfumed joss stick,
My ancient idolatrous agnostic;
Progress needs both of them, Progress is old,
Progress you see blows hot and cold.

SELF-COM.: Yours is a wonderful constitution!
What have you brought us, Evolution?

EVOL.: A genuine education bill!

(He throws it in.

SELF-COM. : Bluff! Too British, fill, come fill!

EVOL.: A treatise on bacteriology:
Two parsons squabbling at theology!

(He throws them in.

SELF-COM.: Still at the old game? Press down the lid.

EVOL.: And a ponderous book by Benjamin Kidd!

(He throws it in.

ALL: Ho, ho, for the melting pot,
Bubbling, simmering, seething hot,
It goes in thus, and it come out, what?
Ho, ho, for the melting pot!

SELF-COM. : Come first, come last! your contribution,
Rabid and wry-necked Revolution?

REVOLUTION: Wry-necked, yes, if the only tune
Were the one that I hummed as British buffoon,
But I'm only rabid when joining the dance
In the red cap and rages I borrow from France.
In England we always damn the eyes
Of all who don't cry 'compromise,'
While now, 'stead of charters and proclamations,
Grand independence declarations,
Uncrownings of kings and such like devices,
It's the strike, the combine, the industrial crisis;
And as for republics, why, now, the deuce! it's
A polite aristocracy in Massachusetts.
In the fulness of Time we shall set an embargo
On even the brazen throat of Chicago.
Republics forsooth! Revolution grows organized
As the world's machinery gets more 'Morganised.'
Yet old mother Progress chuckles and churns,
Watching the cruddle she turns and turns.

SELF-COM.: In with it, cease your mouthing and mystery.

REV.: A crown, and a lesson in cast-off history!

(He throws them in.

SELF-COM.: Men never learn lessons from you!

REV.: They must!

SELF-COM.: Let's see, what next.

REV.: An American Trust!

(He throws it in.

ALL : Ho, ho, for the melting pot,
Bubbling, seething, simmering hot,
It goes in thus, and it comes out, what?
Ho, ho, for the melting pot!

SELF-COM. : Are you still moaning over the schism?
Up and in with it, Radicalism!

RADICALISM: Woe's me, alas! Woe's me, alack!
That have still to bear Harcourt on my back,
And the musty makeshifts of them that befool
The world with the myths of the Manchester school.
While the worst of it is I'm such a sham
That I don't know myself any more what I am.
Fie, mother Progress! was it fair,
First to coquette with 'l'aissez făire,'
And then to allow yourself to be kissed,
By—never mind who—the collectivist!
Can you wonder, so lax in your right & wrong,
That I, your child, know not to whom I belong.
All that's left to the once wild harum-scarum
Is to puff the Pro-Boer and to snarl at old Sarum.
Who'd have thought, now I'm grown so lame and hoary,
That Progress—my Progress!—could ever turn Tory.

SELF-COM.: In with it, in with it! never mind
Though Progress has left you thus behind!

RAD.: They're heavy! all the back volumes of 'Truth,'
And a 'Little England' the dream of my youth!

(He throws them in.

ALL: Ho, ho, for the melting pot,
Bubbling, simmering, seething hot!
It goes in thus, and it comes out, what?
Ho, ho, for the melting pot!

SELF-COM.: Your innings next and let your fling go,
In with its wonted bombast, Jingo!

JINGOISM: Proud of my bombast, proud of my pride,
Proud of my insolence, leaden-eyed,
Proud with the pride of a dilettante
Of my old redoubtable Rosinante
Once ridden by Pam and Disraeli.
Proud of the tongue that shall never fail ye,
Or my manners truculent, sloven and slack,
Proud of the skin that I bear on my back—
Don't be alarmed, it's only a try on,—
The moth-eaten skin of the British Lion:
The ass looks out from beneath, and brays
As of old in a number of different ways.
For I was bred where the Cockney bawls
In his millions among the music halls
Of the largest and loathsomest city, or where
In a still larger, noisier hemisphere
The American Yellow Press teaches him style
In what he knows as the 'Dily Mile.'
East or West what matter to me
The Jingo slips from the self-same tree,
And the 'white man's burden' remains to grapple
As well in the Bowery as in Whitechapel.
Poor little Cockney! however should he know
To synthesise 'Boer' and 'Philipino!'
Let him waste the remains of his wretched lungs
In drinking the honour of cads and bungs,
Progress is greased with the brewer's stingo.

SELF-COM.: Enough! throw in your tribute, Jingo!

JINGO.: A music hall song with a loathsome tang!

(He throws it in.

SELF-COM.: What more?

JINGO.: A bucket of moral slang!

(He throws it in.

SELF-COM.: Doesn't it simmer and seethe! Don't flinch!
What more?

JINGO.: The tiniest little pinch
Of Anglo-Saxon imperialism:—

SELF-COM.: Show it! Show it! Jingoism!

ALL: Touch it with care, it may go crack!

JINGO.: The Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack
As 'commercial assets' or out vote hunting!

(He throws them in.

SELF-COM.: For the melting pot there's nothing like bunting.

ALL: Ho, ho, for the melting pot,
Bubbling, seething, simmering hot.

SELF-COM.: Come, come, what have you got to throw
Maundering, maudlin L'Art Nouveau?

L'ART NOUVEAU: I'm in the fashion—non-controversial,
And the fashion is nothing if not commercial,
Pre-Raphaelite once, with a tiny twist
Of the philosophical hedonist,—
Inspired by Whistler,—next a touch
Of the 'Arts and Crafts,' but not too much.
Then Impressionism, the daintiest fluke;
Then the German squirm, & the Glasgow spook,
A spice of the latest French erotic,
Anything new and Studiotic,
As long as it tells in black and white,
And however wrong comes out all right,
'Id est,' as long as it pays, you know,
That's what's meant by L'Art Nouveau,
A very old fancy, sure enough,
Dished up for the profit of Mr. Puff.
To the artist (he's mortal!) when all's said and done,
If he worship the goddess of getting on,
Progress and Mr. Puff are one.

SELF-COM.: Yes, yes, yes, but make the pot fuller!

L'ART: Look then, a thing they call an art colour.

(He throws it in.

SELF-COM.: Your'e a pretty pickle, and that's the truth! here
I'm sick of talking in stychomuthia!

ALL: Ho, ho, for the melting pot,
Bubbling, seething, simmering hot,
It goes in thus, and it comes out, what?

SELF-COM.: Once again, we change the text,
Vandalism, your turn next.

VANDALISM: Change the text? The text's the same,
Vandalism's but a name
For that contempt, supreme, divine,
Of the pearls we cast before the swine.
For note that the vandals of life are twain,
Those who destroy from the lust of gain,
And those like the School Board official who did it, he
Vowed out of sheer sublime stupidity,
Of these some speak with the throaty whine
Of the cultured and high-bred Philistine,
As who should say I have no taste,
But to be found out is to be disgraced,
While others still bowing with 'yes, sir,' 'no, sir,'—
The ubiquitous unction of Grub the grocer,—
Assume as they spout the commercial platitude,
The usual beefy and truculent attitude,
For theirs is the text they learnt by rote,
Theirs the trump card—the popular vote.
Aye, though you whip him from pillar to post,
The vandal dwells here in the innermost,
And in England thick with historic dust,
For all the work of the 'National Trust,'
The Tory is often the greatest vandal,
Invoking his gods at the terrible scandal
Of not being any more free to destroy
That which he won't let others enjoy;
Progress, my dog-in-the-manger, you see,
Can't get along very far without me,
Coarse, and sloven, and slipshod, and sloppety.

SELF-COM.: Throw in!

VAN.: The rights of private property!

(He throws them in.

ALL: Ho, ho, for the melting pot,
Bubbling, seething, simmering hot,
What have ye got? what have ye got?

SELF-COM.: Come! you that elude all diagnosis,
Your offering next—come, come Neurosis!

NEUROSIS: Ah me! I'm a bit of a tartar who clings
To the far-off conceits of impossible things,
A troublesome spinster, a dubious wife,
But I make a good thing of the grievance of life,
In letters a pique more suggestive than nice,
In drama a problem of doubtful device,
In paint but a pose of impossible curves,
For every day use 'stead of backbone I've nerves,
And my children? Ask Progress, the last denier wins,
Through me she may chasten the race for its sins.

SELF-COM.: But what have you got, to throw into the pot?

NEU.: I? why ask me to show what I've got?
Why I've nothing of course! I stay on the shelf,
I'm merely the outcome of Progress myself!

They make as if to throw Neurosis herself into the pot, but she screaming, protests, till Self-Complacency trying to help her they all turn upon him and standing in a ring they point evil fingers at him, saying:

ALL: Shall we name him the last of the riotous lot,
It might create friction, make things a bit hot,
In political matters 'tis best you will own,
To leave Camarina severely alone.
This superlative animal barely conceals
The contempt and the deep British bias he feels,
For all that he wilfully misunderstands,
He raises his eyebrows and holds up his hands.
To him there's no reading of lines between,
And life is the life of the mandarin.
The nursery cow still jumps over the moon,
The old tune is still the 'opportune,'
And Britain, vacuous, placid and kind,
Still conquers the world in absence of mind.
So high does he stand in his own esteem
That Progress to him is an old world dream,
A myth, a mere hypothetical theme,
Come sugar the brew! is it milk or cream?
Come dish it up! is it tea or coffee, sir?

SELF-COM.: A 'Times,' a 'top hat,' a 'half trained British officer!'

ALL: Is that your tribute to Progress? Ho!
Into the melting pot they go!
Off with the cover—serve up the dish and see
The outcome of British inefficiency!
No! there's something yet—he's silent & sinister!
Take care! sit tight!

SELF-COM.: A cabinet minister!

The pot explodes, for Self-Complaceny has held up and dropped into it the effigy of the minister most or least desired, & that was too much for the pot. Or should it for scenic purposes be deemed advisable, Self-Complacency reveals himself as the minister in question, in which case be shall wear in his button hole an orchid and in his eye an eye glass. Then shall be spring himself into the pot. In the confusion that ensues, the imps as they disappear are still heard singing.

ALL: Ho, ho, for the melting pot,
That was too hot, that was too hot!
Fury and flame, powder and shot,
We've put it all in and it comes out what?
Ho, ho, for the molting pot!



Mad is the movement of Time, and strange are the ways of the All-Seeing that we cannot understand. Yet do we know that nothing is destroyed, nothing lost. The Pelican in her piety lives again, & the Phoenix springs from out of his own ashes. What we destroy we are given to recreate, what we lose we find again. Thus saith the Lord. With the Sixth Edward came a great change upon this England of ours, as with the Seventh Edward there is coming likewise. Even as there came with the Confessor and with the first Edward. With each of these a cleavage of the ways, a parting of the roads in the History of England. Mourn not for the Past, saith the Lord, nor for the ages of Faith that have passed away. We live in the Present, and the Present likewise is passing, and if within us we bear the heart of flame, if in our passing we watch and learn, learn of the Past and still have faith, it shall be given to us even yet more divinely to create.

Each Edward brings his lesson, each Century brings her meinie. The Edwards, all but the last, have ye seen, see now the meinies of the Ten Centuries of England, and mark well those that be of the company. Not one of all the gathering but has left some precious gift behind, left the world sweeter and nobler, left for us English a heritage that no one who speaks the tongue, lives in the law, or thinks the thought, whether here on this little island, or all the world over, would willingly forego. Mark the pageant of the Centuries.

The Eleventh Century enters from the right through the inner scene across which is now drawn a veil, so that the figures behind are seen, but not too distinctly, yet so that they shall be clearly discerned. Passing out of the inner scene to the right, they enter again on the left and cross the outer stage. There is stately music, varying to the passing of each, and ending in a march of triumph at the close. The Eleventh Century beckons, and there follows to her beckoning her meinie, to wit:

William the Conqueror.

Tallifer, who bears, tossing it up before him the sword that smote on the battle-field of Senlac; he sings as he passes.

The Abbot of Battle; and

The banner-bearer of Hildebrand, carrying the banner of the blessing of Rome.

Passing from the inner on to the outer scene, the Eleventh Century and her meipie march in procession to the right across the outer stage, during or after which is chanted or intoned the chant following:


To us the Past is sacred still
Not for the forms, the things it feigns,
Not for the record it contains,
Not for the tropes that life disdains,
But as the symbol of a will
That guides, admonishes, informs,
A light at peril of the storms,
A God with both hands filled to give,
A friend that teaches bow to live.

Then there shall pass in the same manner the Twelfth Century, who, beckoning, shall lead in her meinie to wit:

St. Thomas à Becket, richly apparelled & carrying the Chancellor's seal.

King Richard Coeur-de-Lion; and with him

A group of Crusaders.

While they are passing and after, shall be chanted again the Chant of the Centuries.


To us the Past is sacred still
As beacon-fires that ceaseless burn,
Lighting us on from hill to hill,
Far as the straining eye may scan;
A pivot of the soul of man
On which all chance and changes turn;
A tower founded in the mind
Against the unpenetrating shock
Of moving elements; a plant
Whose iron-fibred roots are twined
To the world's tie-ribs fast; a rock
Where hope rides anchored, adamant.

Then shall pass the Thirteenth Century, who, beckoning, shall lead in her meinie, to wit:

Abbot Samson of Bury, the stern strong man as we have known him in the pages of Thomas Carlyle.
St. Hugh of Lincoln, bearing in his hand a model of the minster, and
Two friars minor; brothers that is, of the order of St. Francis from the Minories by London.

After they have passed, or in continuing, the Chant of the Centuries is again heard as follows:


To us the Past is sacred yet,
Like some deep gem the old rocks fill
With a weird fire that never pales;
Like one whose constant soul is set
On starlight infinitely still;
A teller of symbolic tales
Whose wise experience never fails;
A prophet of some hidden will;
A guide through the untrodden ways
Of wide new lands, his intent gaze
Still peering on a pathless track,
And as he presses forward still,
Still forward hoping, harking back.

Then shall pass the Fourteenth Century, beckoning her meinie, to wit:

Edward the Black Prince, with the plumes of the blind King of Bohemia,

Wycliffe, with the Bible, and by his side

A group of lollards.

John Ball the dreamer.

Chaucer, with book and pen, and

Henry Eveleigh, with a group of his master builders, he bearing in his hands a model of Westminster Hall.

After which again, but now more triumphantly, is heard the Chant of the Centuries.


With us the Past in triumph comes
To call of horn and roll of drums,
A blast across the house-tops pealed;
A word expressed from lip to lip;
A sign half felt and half revealed;
Some far-discerning statesmanship
Writ in a book that's signed and sealed
And worn with many studious thumbs.
With us the Past to harp and lute
In a deep tuneful triumph comes
To the far-pealing of the flute,
To trumpets and the tread that hums
Accompaniment of hundred drums.
To us, forbidden to forget,
The Past to us is sacred yet.

Then shall enter the Fifteenth Century beckoning in with great state her meinie, to wit:

Henry V, the hero of Agincourt.

William of Wykeham, splendidly robed with a model of New College, Oxford, in his hands.
A quire of minstrels, who shall as they pass join in the music; and

Caxton the master printer.

Whereupon and during the chanting of the next part of the chant there shall follow in close triumph the Sixteenth Century beckoning her meinie, to wit:

Cardinal Wolsey: holding in his hand the lemon of spurious aristocracy.

King Henry VIII. with his two wives

Queen Catherine of Arragon and Queen Anne Boleyn, as expressing the cleavage of the Churches; and
Sir Thomas More with his sweet, wise daughter Margaret Roper,

And now shall the music rise to a great pitch of triumph as there enters

Queen Elizabeth arrayed as if from a picture of Zucchero, and with her

Sir Philip Sidney.
Sir Walter Raleigh, and
Ben Jonson.


To us the Past, supremely dear,
Stands for a truth revealed and clear.
What though the pageant disappear,
What though forgot the song we sing:
In all this perishable sphere
There is but one eternal thing,
The love-born beauty that we bring,
The radiant eloquence of eyes
Or voices full in thanksgiving.
'Tis this creates, 'tis this fulfills,
'Tis this survives, inspires, instills
The essential soul that never dies.
The greatest gift of God above,
Beauty, alone begot of Love,
Beauty, like some effulgence hurled
From beaten on an observant world.
'Tis ours the glorious gift to bring,
'Tis ours to guard and grace it here.
In all this perishable sphere
There is but one eternal thing.

Here there shall be some sort of lull or pause, as marking the moment when the great Middle Age has passed from the stage of history, and there shall step into his place again the Prolocutor. While he speaks as here follows there shall slowly pass the two next centuries, to wit, the Seventeenth Century with her meinie, & the Eighteenth Century with hers. In the meinie of the former shall appear

John Bunyan, The Puritan Fathers, John Knox and Oliver Cromwell.

in that of the latter

Walpole, Pope, Addison, George Washington, and Lord Nelson.

Between the two, and entering with a burst of Scottish song, as symbolising the romance of a period passed away, but which lives eternally in memory, there shall enter the Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and before him Lucius Carey of the clear conscience and the prophetic heart.


Pass now in somberer guise the Puritans, they that carry with them the gift of the soul freed. Mark what follows in their wake! Soul of the divine independence, standing as in judgment naked before the Lord. Once more the cleavage of the ways. Mourn not for the Past saith the Lord, but learn of it. Four centuries yet remain, & they bring with them the gift of the soul of man freed and self-depending, and the gift of the power of the seas. What if this little island give of her best over seas! It was the heart of flame within her that equipped the 'Mayflower.'

Strange it is, but the soul of England is as the soul of the Puritan, ever speeding from her anchorage, driven forth over seas; driven by virtue of the heart of flame within her to new creating, to new accomplishment.

What is it think ye, this ceaseless song of the forge and the hammer among the iron ships of Clyde and Belfast, of what is it they sing, these mighty ones, & to whom; if not to the honour of the soul of man driving forth over seas?

Once it was the bark of chivalry & then the Golden Hind, and at a later day the little vessel bound for the west, ever for the west. Yet at a later day again the passing of the Celt who has kindled from the sorrows of the sister island a torch, the light of which shall illumine our misunderstanding, and by the burning of the brand of which shall we see the meaning of the movement of the races and the marriage of the races, & this light carried across from the sister island, she of the sweet song & the tender imagination, shall come back to us from the west, ever from the west.

Like the music of a great master, where the chords and melodies make for one whole in symphony, so has it passed, this time of the unity of the Middle Ages of which now ye have beheld the pageant. Six centuries have passed and they brought with them a complete achievement, a completed England. Shall not their lesson be learned again? Through storm & doubt, through schism and misjudging, has she yet looked out before her with the eye of prophecy, bearing alight within her the heart of flame. Stern pilot of the grey seas, it is the divine light within her that has made her ever see best on a stormy day.

At the passing of Lord Nelson, in whom is thus expressed the consummated England, the triumphant nation state, there shall, while the music is still in full period, enter in the back scene the Nineteenth Century. She shall move as if pointing to an end neither revealed nor understood, and to expres which the better she shall not as yet bring her meinie with her as the others have done, but remain standing raised on an eminence in the inner scene, and as she thus stands, like one whose vision is troubled and not clear, there shall pass in procession before her all the centuries with all their meinies even as they have just been revealed, and so the Nineteenth Century stiff standing in expectation, the scene shall close.


To us the Past is still the same,
A living light, a heart of flame.
Kindled of old it never dies,
This inner light of sacrifice;
And in the empire we create
If unto this we consecrate
All that we most would keep alive,
We cheat the negligence of Fate.
If unto this we stand and strive,
This inner light by which we live,
All that doth seem most fugitive
Returns as light in each day's sky,
Giving to us for what we give,
Giving new power to survive,
An England yet without a name,
Newly discerned and yet the same,
An empire with a heart of flame.



This dance shall be rendered by children, of whom there shall be some thirty or forty. They shall be variously & quaintly, but by no means garishly habited as is the custom on the modern stage, and the dance shall be dainty, stately and decorous.

In its purpose it shall depict the life and custom of the City State of England, its crafts, methods and manners, before the coming of the Industrial Revolution which destroyed it. To this end the dancers shall be presented as follows:

TWO OR THREE CLOTHWORKERS, with the badge of their worshipful company.

TWO OR THREE MASONS, with the symbols of their craft.

TWO OR THREE ARMOURERS, bearing portions of the armour of Henry V. forged for Agincourt.

TWO OR THREE VINTNERS & BREWERS, with the badges and symbols of their worshipful companies.

TWO OR THREE SMITHS, with hammer and anvil, which, like the Cyclops in Etna, they shall now and again strike rhythmically to the music of the dance.

TWO OR THREE CUTLERS, with the badge of their worshipful company.

TWO OR THREE GOLDSMITHS, with cups, flagons and mazers of silver.

TWO OR THREE LEATHERSELLERS, bearing their banner on which is written the old adage, 'There's nothing like leather.'

TWO OR THREE BAKERS, with weights and measures and sheaves of English corn.

TWO PRINTERS, with a small hand-press, and flutter of proof-sheets for distribution.

TWO OR THREE SCHOLARS or blue coat boys from some foundation of William of Wykeham or Edward VI.

TWO OR THREE GIRL SCHOLARS of the time of Lady Jane Grey.

TWO OR THREE BEDESWOMEN, with badges and bowls.



A NUMBER OF HOMELY HOUSEWIVES, with keys and distaves.

The dance shall be given in a series of figures, the groups of the crafts & orders entering from time to time and making in the figure some appropriate movement. With them shall come or play some representative character from the pageant of the cities in the foregoing scene; and thus in the manner here following, the dance shall be rendered. The Prolocutor enters into his place.


See ye now a strange thing and a meaningful. Prophecy in the dance, and the sign of the future in the music and the picture that it brings. Mad is the movement of Time, & Time the great dancer spins, now grotesquely, growing ugly with the riot of wanton movement and now beautiful beyond the ken of man with the grace and dignity of divine achievement. See ye now a dance prophetic.

There was once in this England of ours, ere yet she had conquered the sea, or discovered the greater secrets of speed and power, a life fair for the record it has left us, noble for the great ones who led it, & whom in pageant ye have seen pass before you. Ere the coming of the seventh Edward, all has changed and there is growing up a new life, whose secret is still to read.

The sweet cities of old times have passed away, while begotten of Giant Machine, and from the womb of Power, has come to us the City of Dreadful Night. Sphinx-like she sits and terrible, offering her riddle to the Child Century to guess, but the young Oedipus, strong in the hope of the future, wise in the beauty of the past, comes to guess and to destroy.

The children enter:-mark the symbol and the prophecy!

The quire of minstrels enter bearing old instruments, flutes, violins, viols, tabors and pipes, they order themselves at the side of the stage and start playing, upon which there enter the masons. They dance, and in their dancing, with line and rule they mark out the site of the city state; Henry Eveleigh, the master builder, enters to oversee the work, then the smiths bring in the gilded vanes of it, & St. Hugh of Lincoln gives it his blessing.

After this there enter the armourers to defend it, they make ado to forge upon the stage the sword of Henry V., about whom in the dance the sword being forged, they gird it.

Then there enter the housewives bringing into the city order and sweet ways: to them comes Margaret Roper the type of all womanliness, they bow to her with seemly deference.

Upon this there enter the vintners, brewers, bakers, & cutlers, bringing the state good cheer, the housewives join in the dance and there is laughter and merriment.

The clothworkers, leather sellers, embroideresses, and goldsmiths next enter with a varying movement & bring to the state the things of their beautiful achievement, whereupon there is a great medley with all the previous dancers, and the motive of the music is full of joy and gladness.

After this the note changes again to a greater sobriety, the dancers draw back and there enter demurely the boy and girl scholars, with them comes first William of Wykeham who gives his charge to them and passes out, and after Caxton with the printers, they pull sheets from the press, which, the dance still continuing, they distribute among the scholars.

Following upon them enter the bedes women, there is a pass between them and the friars, who stand for charity and kindliness, and the bowls of the bedes women are filled by the abundance of the vintners, brewers, bakers, and goldsmiths. After this the note grows hymnal, and at the entry of the sisters of the order, William of Wykeham again leading, the dancers pass in stately movement about the stage as if to some festival, until the builder bishop again passes out, when the note grows merrier, and all form for the final figure which shall be one of triumph at the entry of Queen Elizabeth who shall typify the perfected city state. She stands in the centre of the scene, all the children dancing about her in honour, and the dance shall be somewhat as the great masque dances of the time of per coming on earth. All the crafts and occupations now join gaily in, and there is a triumphant movement as of life realised and good things achieved to the honour and joy of mankind.

Then just as the great dance is crowned to fulfilment, a low mournful note is heard & there enters from the back a gaunt figure arrayed in black & masked fearfully, The City of Dreadful Night, the great city of modern progress. She reaches out from her long black tentacles, ever lengthening coils of black twine, and as these touch the children they shudder together and the dance slackens, throbbing slow and more slowly. At the same time there begins a lamentation of the little ones, and this grows louder as each group is caught in the toils of the black figure. Then the stage gradually darkens and the moaning dies down, & there is heard but a gradual throbbing and tripping as of little feet vanishing; till all is still, and the stage quite dark. For a while this tripping continues, gradually changing, however, and growing more regular till it is as the distant thudding of some vast machine. Then silence.

After a period of black silence there shall come a sudden blast of fierce music, and with it a flash of light, and the stage shall be revealed bare, but for the City of Dreadful Night sitting alone and throned: & the same shall happen a second time, upon which the Imps of Progress shall come whirling round the figure. And likewise shall it happen a third time. But the third calling of the note shall be more joyous, and at the close of it there shall descend or enter the little Twentieth Century who shall strike the City of Dreadful Night a blow, whereupon, figure, throne and all shall tumble with a cry into the earth. At this, the stage being again dark, a hymn of triumph shall be heard from behind, and all the voices of the children as of those lost and now once more found, shall bear triumphant witness to a cause that cannot die.


Perchance that radiant spirit of the dawn
Whose colours treasured in the womb of night[errata 1]
Are hueless first, but when through grey mists drawn,
They form to prisméd glories of new light;
Perchance he marvelling such things to see,
Shall set a morning change upon this earth,
Shall by mere willing bid the new things be
That breathe already in concealéd birth;
Shall as an artist who on canvas lays
The landscape kindling to his dear desires,
Transform these factories to palaces,
And change these smoke-bound chimneys into spires,
Transmute wealth, labour, ugliness, and lo!
Call to the Century—you meant it so!




See now the symbol of the crowning and the prophecy that comes with it. In the dance of the children have ye heard a truth, from the lips of the children shall ye bear wisdom. Great was the Past, and greater shall be the Future as long as ye be true to the lesson of the Past. Like unto a poet whose words are yet to be, whose music is still to make, the Child Century stands upon the threshold of time. Mark now the symbol of the crowning, and as we, your masquers pass like shadows into the night, so do we leave with you the aftermath of our mumming, a sweet rede of the unity of the race.

The crown is the symbol of the Past, but see ye now how it is the children of the coming time who bear it, & at their will and pleasure alone it continues. It was Edward the Confessor brought the mystic morning light of the childhood of England, the Lawgiver brought justice, the lesson of the uncrowning came with the Second Edward, and with the Third the passing of Chivalry, the Fourth came as a strong man bringing seed, & the Fifth the sorrow of unfulfilment, the Sixth was the little founder, and to the Seventh have the fates thrown a guerdon, not his own but that of the peoples at whose will and for whom he stands. It tells of the Empire of England over sea, of the passing and the mission of the Celt, of the power born in the West, and in the coming and crowning of the Seventh Edward do we see the beginnings of the reunion of the peoples into the greater force to be—mark them that assemble about the throne, heed ye the symbol of the crowning. For us mummers, we pass like shadows into the night.

(He folds his scroll and departs.

The back curtain now rises for the last time and displays behind a veil the empty throne of England, being the coronation chair of the kings, its seat the stool of Scone, the stone of destiny, the throne of Tara, on which have sat the ancient Kings of Ireland, of Scotland and of England, & which shall be rendered in similitude from the venerable seat in Westminster.

Then begins with great solemnity, & at first low & gently, a march, into which may be woven the hymn or threnody here below following, set to the Elizabethan air of 'Courtiers, courtiers.'

During the hymn and while the march is stiff in movement; there shall pass in front of the throne alone and unattended the Edwards of England, Edward the Confessor first, then Edward the Lawgiver, then Edward the Second, then Edward the King of Chivalry, then Edward the Fourth, then Edward the Child King, the last being Edward the Founder. Each as he passes from left to right behind the veil shall touch the throne and so move out.


Kings and Queens have been carried to rest,
Or come to be crowned on Thorney Eye,
Where once the ladder of Angels blessed
The King Confessor's offering high.
Could the King Confessor prophesy
As he sat dreaming, dreaming, dreaming,
As he sat dreaming on Thorney Eye?

Came the Conqueror stark and strong,
With fury and flame throughout the land,
Norman stone and Angevin song
Honoured the deeds of his red right hand,
And the rede that he taught, he taught us well,
As those that did fear him, fear him, fear him,
Those that did fear him once might tell.

Kings and Queens may come and may go,
The greatest are those that bring love and law,
To Edward the Lawgiver Englishmen owe
The justice that holds the world in awe,
And to Elinor manners and majesty,
To Elinor lady, lady, lady,
Lady of love and chivalry.

Brave and gentle, splendid and young,
The Agincourt hero next along,
Harry the fifth his peers among,
Rides on in triumph of chant and song,
With the cross of St. George and the English rose,
As he that hath heard it, heard it, heard it,
Heard it of Shakespeare, surely knows.

Comes with pomp of pageant and play,
She who was born the world to bless,
Like perfumed light on a midsummer day,
Her island England, good Queen Bess,
And her poets they yield her their crownèd bays
As they follow her singing, singing, singing,
Singing a paean of English praise.

After the fifth verse has been sung, the music rising to a great solemnity, the figure of Queen Victoria habited in her coronation robes & portrayed as she was known & remembered by our fathers before us, passes across the stage; she pauses for a few moments upon the steps of the throne while the final verse is in singing, then descends and passes out.

King and Queens may come and may go,
Folk may grow fickle and nations old,
Last who rode in the royal show
Was she whose fame shall not grow cold,
For honesty, honour and truth don't die
As we that have known her, known her, known her,
We that have have known can testify.

This song and the movement with it enacted, the Nineteenth Century followed by her menie, passes onto the inner scene; to wit:

Stevenson, in whom is expressed the great time of the invention and the machinery of England.
Darwin, who symbolises her scientific research.
Pusey, who stands for the stirring yet once again of the dry bones of her Ancient Church; and
William Morris, her poet and prophet, who has interpreted to her through the glory of her past the idealism of the future.

All these then order themselves about the throne, whereupon the Nineteenth Century, now on the front stage and before the veil, beckons, and there shall enter behind the veil & led by the Twentieth Century, the figure of King Edward VII. robed for the crowning. He ascends the steps of the throne. The Twentieth Century then beckons before the throne and there enter the men of her meinie, to wit, youths from Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, and among them shall be an Irish Guardsman. They bear the symbols of kingship: the crown, the spurs, the orb, the sceptre, and the swords of mercy and justice, The Child Century receives these at their hands, standing raised high up behind the throne; whereupon there shall be enacted that portion of the coronation ceremony which symbolises the choice of the people and so links it with the past; till at the crowning the whole company being now gathered together, shall shout aloud:


whereupon the Ten Centuries shall move into the centre of the outer stage. All being habited again in their long flowing robes as at the beginning, they shall place the Child Century, who however shall not be so habited, in their midst, making a half circle about him. The Eleventh Century shall then take the golden wand and pass it to the Twelfth, the Twelfth to the Thirteenth, Thirteenth to the Fourteenth, and so following till it reach the Child Century, when there shall be said or sung either by the Child Century or by some voice or voices speaking for or to him the verse here following:


Masquers we be, but a mumming we prophesy,
We watch and wait for thee, seer that art to be,
Poet that art to be, we wait for thee.

Thou that shalt synthesize, summing the century,
As through the lips of one sacred, inspiringly,
As did the Puritan, as did the Florentine,
Or as did he our own Elizabethan.

We look and long for thee singer that art to be,
Seer that art to be; we look for thee.
Strong in thy love and divine understanding,
Strong in thy sympathy, binding, uniting us,
Strong in the storm of thy verses inspiring us,
Strong in the great song of praise thou shalt sing to us!

Poet that art he, our souls look forth to thee,
We strive and seek for thee, poet for thee!

Thine be the mission, the passion, the sentiment,
Industry purified, life again unified,
Poverty passed away, science made purposeful,
Art the fulfilment of life again eloquent.
Thine to foresee, poet, poet that art to be,
Thine shall they be seer, thine shall they be!

Rede for the painter, the sculptor, the architect,
And every labourer, and every handicraft,
Singing the symbols concealed in material,
Singing creation and endless accomplishment.

Thine the strong music of militant comradeship
Firm lipped & swift, comprehending America;
Hoping, confirming, revealing Democracy,
Thine solidarity, thou cosmopolitan,
Even as Whitman conceived and aspired to thee,
We wait and watch for thee, poet to be.

We who are fragments of systems unsatisfied,
Echoes of prophecies, world-hopes that might have been,
Visions seen fruitlessly, dreams all unrealised,
Broken, divided, unnerved, and fragmentary,
We wait in awe for thee, poet that art to be,
Poet that art to be, meekly for thee.

Show us as parts of the One indivisible,
Bind us, unite us, inspire us, remodel us,
Make us what dreams would have made us, Utopian,
Once again unified, once again Catholic.

Champion that art to be: we strive and search for thee,
We call for thee, poet, we wait for thee!

Baptists to Christ are we, tentative, tentative,
Thine through the echoes the strong voice of leadership,
Thine the concluding voice, sombre, majestical,
Thine the young voice, fair and fresh to futurity.

Thou that shalt synthesize, summing the century,
Shape the new age, the creation that is to be,
Our birth cries come to thee, poet that art to be!

Masquers we be, but a mumming we prophesy,
Prophesy haltingly, dimly and falteringly,
Our birth cries come to thee, poet that art to be,
Poet that art to be, we wait, we watch for thee,
Dying we live, poet, we wait for thee.

Then shall the Child Century wave his wand when all shall sing the National Anthem, at which the inner curtain shall fall, and during the first verse of the anthem the characters of the Masque headed by the Child Century, shall pass in procession from the stage through the hall, all joining except the two last figures, that is to say the figures of Queen Victoria & King Edward VII., who together with the meinies of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries shall remain behind the veil.





300 paper copies;
20 on vellum. No.
Published in England by Edward Arnold, 37 Bedford Street, Strand; and in America by Samuel Buckley & Co., 100 William St, New York.


p. 44, first column,
Whose colours treasured in the womb of right
Whose colours treasured in the womb of night


  1. Original: right was amended to night: detail

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1942, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.