Professor C. W. Egerton gave a popular lecture on “The Dawn of the English Drama.”
The lecturer said the English drama was the slow and gradual development of many centuries. It had its origin in the ritual services
of the mediæval Church, and in the first instance its object was to stir the emotions and purify the morals of the faithful by bringing home to them the facts of sacred history with the greatest possible vividness. At the outset, sacred dramas were enacted within the walls of the church itself. Indeed, the form of service itself was, as a French writer has noticed, “nothing but a long divine spectacle.” The lecturer then gave a description of the old miracle-plays, and an estimate of their relation to the life of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries. He then noticed the “moralities,” or allegorical plays, and farcical interludes, ending with an account of the genesis of the regular English drama, as represented by Shakespeare's immediate predecessors.