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THE DRAMA IN THE MIDDLE AGES. monks and priests. Others, equally religious in their
tendency, in which a visible and ediiving paraphrase of Of all the remarkable periods of history, not the least some portion of the liturgies was set before the ignorat interesting is that comprised in the so-called middle multitude, were acted in some public place within the ages. With the downfal of the Roman empire every sacred precincts, by pious laics, under the sanction of vestige of civilisation seemed to be lost in the moral | the clergy. chaos by which that event was succeeded. Dark, how.
These dramas were highly relished by the populace,
especially when the decline of the feudal system, with ever, as the period in question is generally supposed to
| its joustings, tilts, and tournaments, left them do obe have been, it was pregnant with the formless elements public amusement. In our own country, the Chese of modern society, floating amid confused recollections Mysteries, or Whitsun Plays, were frequently acted is of bygone customs, laws, and achievements-uncertain that city during the thirteenth century, to the ta: attempts in a new direction--dependent in a greater delight of all classes of spectators. In the programme degree on the past than the rude intellect of the time or proclamation we are told that “Done Rondali, morate was willing to acknowledge. Christianity had found a of Chester Abbey," was the author : resting place in the world, and was silently, though
“ This moonke, moonke-like, in scriptures well seene,
In storyes travelled with the best sorte; surely, sapping the outworks of ignorance. Printing,
In pagentes set fourth, apparently to all epne, gunpowder, the mariner's compass, the telescope, owe The Olde and Newe Testament with livelre comforte; their discovery to the middle ages. In the marked dis Intermynglinge therewith, onely to make sporte, tinctions which then prevailed between the various
Some things not warranted by any writt,
Which to gladd the hearers he woulde men to take it orders of society, the lower classes were reduced to a
The concluding lines afford a strong presumption tha: state of moral and physical degradation. Possessing
the clerical actors were not averse to the introduction of but very few, if any legal rights, they were entirely at some lighter topics among the grave matter of the the mercy of the lords of the soil; a position from drama, which may probably account for the great degree which they made many desperate, and, in the end, suc of public favour they received. So much, indeed, Fere cessful attempts to free themselves. When unable to the plays to the taste of the populace, that they divided use more offensive weapons, they satirized and ridiculed | attention with the favourite ballads of Robin Hood.' their masters in their ballads, songs, and rude dramatic
The collection known as the Towneley Mysteries conteres
many curious instances of chronological error, vi representations. In fact, satire is one of the great cha
may take their place by the side of those committed by racteristics of the period ; it shows itself everywhere- Shakspeare, and Beaumont and Fletcher. In one of the in the metricıl romances, fabliaux, and tales; seizing plays by the latter writers, Demetrius fires a pistol look upon councils, sermons, architecture, religious ceremo. ere gunpowder was thought of; and the former maks nies, and all the weak points in the character of the
Hector quote Aristotle. In the Mysteries, however, the nobles and the clergy, as fair game. It was one of the
high-priest Caiaphas is made to sing mass; Noah's ring
is acquainted with “Stafford blew," and swears brike earliest scintillations of that intelligence which has
Virgin Mary: the Shepherds in the Nativity talk of since effected such mighty changes.
“the foles of Gotham," swear by "Sant Thome of From the very dawn of civilisation, dramatic genius, Kent." and are engaged in beating a man who had in some shape or other, has been continually reproduced. stolen one of their sheep, when the angel appears singing Even the rudest tribes delighted in theatrical amuse- the Gloria in excelsis. These incongruities, sbb mente, in which deities or demons sustained the principal would afford “food for laughter" to a modern audienct. characters. In common with other arts, it rose to the passed unnoticed by the superstitious spectaurs 14 highest degree of perfection ainong the Greeks, by whom
| former days. In another of these Mysteries, the it was transmitted to the Romans. On the subjugation Processus talentorum, we have an example of tablet of the latter power by the Teutonic hordes, the drama admixture of Latin with the vulgar dialect. P.12 disappeared; the spread of Christianity also tended to enters, declaiming somewhat in the style of : suppress it. The emperor Theodosius the younger pub “bashful ” Irishman :lished laws forbidding shows at Christmas, Easter, and
“ Mighty lord of alle, me, Casar magnificavit ; Pentecost. The Fathers, too, denounced plays in the
Downe on knees ye falle, greatt God me sanctificant; severest terms; Tertullian, in his work De spectaculis,
Me to obey over alle, regi reliquo quasi David, animadverts on the evil and profane tcndeney of theatres.
Hanged be, that he salle, hoc jussum qu reprobant. But the spirit of mimicry was not to be repressed ;
I swere now, it manifested itself in palaces, feudal castles, abbeys and
But ye your hedes cathedrals, and in the public thoroughfares, adapting
Bare in thes shedes itself necessarily to the vicissitudes of time and custom,
Redy my swerde is refinement or barbarism. The antiquary of our day
Or tiayu to slere now." regards the manuscripts of old plays as some of his
But the greatest variety of these religious drus. rarest treasures; and the philologist finds in them many | perhaps to be found in the ancient literature of Fresh curious and valuable illustrations of the earliest speci- / Whether more importance was attached to the mens of modern idiom. Notwithstanding the au-observance of festivals in that country than on the thority of the Fathers, we find that after a time the the channel, or from some other cause, we find DE authorities of the Church availed themselves of the rous short pieces written, to be played on certain e drama, to impart instruction to the populace, and at the and saints' days. At Christmas, for instance, the Is same time to confirm their own power and authority. I tery of the Nativity, of the Star, or the Adoratic The sacred plays, called lysteries, were written in rude the Magi. was given; while at Easter were retrescu rhyming Latin ; but, as the common people were not the Scenes of the Crucifixion, the Tomb, the TCR well acquainted with this language, many popular Marys, or the appearance of Christ to the disciples words and phrases gradually crept in, forming a strange | Emmaus. The Suscitatio Lazari, or the Resurrect'de contrast to the sonorous original, until at length, in the l of Lazarus, was a favourite piece for occasional periarte fourteenth century, the plays were spoken in the current ance; and the anniversary of Saint Nicholas was cek dialect of the day. Some of the old Latin dramas were so strictly connected with the ceremonies of the Church, (1) Two lines in the Vision of Piers Plowman, mark the pe that they were never represented but in the interior of larity of the ballads :sacred edifices, by performers chosen from among the
"I cannot partitly mi Pater noster as the Priest it syneet. But I can'Rymes of Robenhode, and Raudof trl (
brated by the Ludus super iconia Sancti Nicholai. The Mysteries, that a little humour was sometimes thrown two latter pieces were written by Hilary, a disciple of in, to enliven the solemnity of the play; so here we Abelard.
have Rifflard, the wag of the piece, whose name literally From the titles of many of these old dramas we rendered signifies jack-plane, saying :obtain a glimpse of the religious fceling of the day, in
« I grey-bearded crying stillwhich the worship of the Virgin was strangely mingled
Shepherds, I with you agree, with singular and romantic notions. Some of them
When of bread I have my fillwould doubtless draw an audience in the present day.
Fie for care and covetrie. What a treat for the lovers of the marvellous would be
Pellion. Some vaunt of grand seignorie, " The Miracle of Amis and Amilla, the wbich Amilla
With donjon towers and weaponry. killed her two children to cure Amis her husband, who
Delight is none more true, than yields was leprous; and afterwards our Lady restored them
The sight of pleasant fields, again to life !" The title of another is, “ The miracle
Lambs leaping on the glad prairie.” of our Lady, how the King of Hungary's daughter cut The above quotation displays some appreciation of the off her hand, for that her father wished to marry her, I real value and beauty of rural pursuits: the scene, how. and a sturgeon kept it (the hand) seven years in his lever, between Judas and Lucifer in the same play, shows stomach.” A third relates to the conversion of one of that the old authors could also be serious and tragical the early Gaulish kings from paganism; " The miracle when it suited their purpose in the long evangelical of our Lady, how king Clovis made himself to be dramas. The wrathful demon appears to the despairing christened at the request of Clotilda his wife, for a disciple, and asks:battle which he had against the Alemans and Senes
“ Wretch, what shall be done to thee ? (Germans and Saxons), and won the victory, and at the
Whither wilt thou now depart? christening descended the holy ampulla."
Judas. I know not; for eye of mine In the fourteenth century, however, a change took
Dares not to look upon the heavens. place; a collection was made of all the principal events
Demon. Desirest thou to ask my name? of gospel history, and formed into one vast and single
Briefly shalt have demonstration. representation, no longer played, as forinerly, on par
Judas. Whence comest thou ? ticular days and festivals, but continuing throughout
Demon. From the nether hell. several days, and sometimes for weeks, and at any period
Judas. What is thy name? of the year. The most celebrated of these comprehen
Demon. Despair. sive dramas was called, the Mystery of the Passion :
Judas. Terribility of vengeance ! the first portion or act took in one day of the scripture
Horribility of danger! narrative; to the second, extending from the baptism
Approach, receive my allegiance, to the crucifixion, four days were allotted; and to the
If death will abate my misery." third and concluding portion, six days. On its first This passionate and abrupt dialogue was well calculated performance in 1398, it was received with the greatest to make a powerful impression on the minds of the enthusiasm, and speedily became a popular favourite ; spectators, and bears evident proofs of dramatic genius. so much so, that it led to the establishment of a per- The Miracle of Theophilus is another of the religious manent theatre, in which daily representations took dramas based upon the supernatural and the terrible. place.
Originating in the East about the sixth century, such Amid much that is rude and quaint, this Mystery of was its effect upon the popular mind, that the guilds the Passion contains some germs of poctry, and delicacies and corporations of every trade painted the walls of of expression, the more remarkable when contrasted their halls, the windows, and panels, with the exemplary with the rough setting by which they are surrounded details of the legend, in which a priest, seduced by It is, however, somewhat difficult to account for the pride and ungovernable ambition, denies his faith, and prodigious favour in which these spectacles were held, devotes himself to the service of the evil one : the doroid as they are of the scenery and decorations which, dénouement, however, records his penitence and rein the present day, constitute the principal attraction conciliation with the church. On some occasions the of the drama. Perhaps the superstitions of the age, | auditors were entertained by an exhibition of ventrilocombined with an unreflecting religious feeling, may quism; one of the plays, entitled, “ The Discourses of have contributed to excite popular admiration for what the Three Quick and the Three Dead,” was recited by would now be wearisome to all. The traces of poetry a single actor, who changed the tone of his voice in to which we have referred, are found in the scene of the accordance with the change of characters. In the Shepherds, of whom three hold a rhymed dialogue, Mystery of the Resurrection we meet with errors simiexpressive of the delights and pleasures of a pastoral | lar to those quoted from the Towneley Mysteries. One life, and their superiority to the pursuit of arms, or of the soldiers is made to say that, whether he obtain wealth which bringeth care. Aloris, the first speaker, absolution from the priest or not, he will kill the first says :
who approaches. The solecism of introducing a Romish “ For shepherds now is season sweet,
priest in the days of Herod is not the only one, for in Heav'n be thanked, as is meet.”
another place Caiaphas is called a bishop. To this Ysambert adds :
The mystery of the Wise and Foolish Virgins is an
interesting specimen of the transition state of the • When shepherds meet in reason,
language : many of the primitive French words are It is ever sweet season.”
introduced among the rude and barbarous Latin : it is Pellion, the third shepherd, continues
of the time of Henry I., the early part of the eleventh
century. The prologue was originally spoken by one “ In the house I could not stay,
of the priesthood, who afterwards called out in a loud And behold this joyous day.
voice the names of the actors, as they successively Aloris. Fie for care and covetrie,
entered and took part in the proceedings. This perNo life, pampered though it be,
sonage answers to our modern stage director ; when the Is worth the life of pastorie. Pellion. Shepherds, who can happy be,
performance took place inside a church, he stood in the Fie for care and covetrie.”
middle of the gallery, surrounded by the musicians.
The other characters, priests and monks, clothed in the We have already seen, in the prologue to the Chester
costume of their parts, sat in the stalls, waiting the
moment to rise and advance to the middle of the (1) For a long period it was popularly believed in France, that The ampulla, (vessel of consecrated oil,) used at the coronation of
of choir, where they sang or chanted their stanzas. At clovie, was brought down from heaven by a dove.
| the opening of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, a priest
recites some Latin verses by way of prologue, and to conventionally termed being "in love," is, to say the give a general outline of the subject. Then enter the least, a very doubtful kind of happiness; and poets have Wise Virgins, whom the angel Gabriel, in old Latin therefore, with great propriety, described it as “pleasing French, warns to “Watch, and sleep not.” They con. pain," “ delicious misery," and in many other terms of a tinue their share of the dialogue in the same idiom, like equivocal character; nor is it possible that this when the Foolish Virgins enter, deploring their negli- should be otherwise : love is a passion, wayward and gence, with moving appeals to the compassion of the impetuous in its very nature,-agitating and disquieting others, and ending each of their three stanzas with the in its effects, rendering its votary the slare of eir choral complaint:-“ Dolentas! chuitiras! trop i avem cumstances,--amere shuttlecock alternating between the dormit.” “ Miserable, unhappy ones, too long have we extremes of hope and fear, joy and sorrow, confideax slept !" The Wise refuse, and bid them despatch and and mistrust ;-a thing which a smile can exalt to the buy oil; at the same time retorting upon them the highest pinnacle of delight, or a frown strike down to chorus, “ Dolentas," &c. After many fruitless and the depths of despair, But in the consciousness that me despairing entreaties, the Foolish Virgins go to the mer- are beloved, there is none of this questionable ecte chants, who receive them by saying, “ Domnas gentris." ment; on the contrary, we experience a sensation of decom
—“ Gentle ladies, it is not beseeming that you tarry calm joy, as we reflect, that in the true affection the here so long; we cannot give what you ask; hasten bestowed, we have gained a possession, which the cars back to your wise sisters ;" and in turn quote the and struggles of life are powerless to injure, and which complaint, “ Dolentas," &c. The piece finished with death itself, though it may interrupt it for a while, wall the seisure and carrying off of the Foolish Virgins by fail to destroy. demons, after their rebuke by the bridegroom. In These thoughts, or something like them, baring addition to the characters enumerated, Nabuchado entrenched themselves in the stronghold of my imagi nosor, the Sybil, and Virgil, are introduced to help out nation, for some time held their ground gallantly against the moral. We shall conclude this brief sketch of the the attacks of common sense; but at length, repulser! popular religious drama with a specimen of the bar-on every point, they deemed it advisable to capitelae, barous Latin text quoted from the mystery above or (to drop metaphor, a style of writing I particularly referred to:
abominate, perhaps because I never more than hai “ Venit talis
i understand what it means) in plain English, I, with a Solea nobis
sort of grimace, such as one makes before swallowicza Cujus non sum etiam.
dose of physic, set myself seriously to work, to refei Tam benignus
upon my present position, and decide on the best line Ut sim ausus
of conduct to be pursued for the future. Solvere corrigiam."
Before our conference came to an end, I had mada Clara acquainted with my knowledge of Cumberlapis
former delinquencies, as well as the reputation in which FRANK FAIRLEGH;
he was now held by such of his associates as had any OR, OLD COMPANIONS IN NEW SCENES."
pretension to the title of gentlemen, and added my eie
viction, that, when once these facts were placed terme CHAP. IX.
Mr. Vernon, he must see that he could not, consisten, THE FORLORN HOPE.
with his duty as guardian, allow his ward to marry 1 1.10 FREDDY COLEMAN was cheated of his walk that after
stor of such character. Cumberland had no doubt contritei noon: for an old maiden lady in the neighbourhood. I to keep his unclo in ignorance of his mode of liie, ani having read in a Sunday paper that the cholera was
it would only be necessary to enlighten him on tha: raging with great fury at Trincomalee, thought it as
point, to ensure his consent to her breaking off well to be prepared for the worst, and sent for Mr. Cole
engagement. Clara appeared less sanguine of succes man to receive directions about making her will,- and
even hinting at the possibility of Mr. Vernon's birzs he, being particularly engaged, sent Freddy in his stead. / well-informed in regard to his nephew's real char.cz who set out on the mission in a state of comic ill. |
f comic as we were ; adding, that his mind was too firmly eie humour, which bid fair to render Mrs. Aikenside's will
the match, for him to give it up lightly. It was frais a very original document indeed, and foreboded for that
agreed between us, that she was to let me know it good old lady herself an unprecedented and distracting
afïairs went on after Mr. Vernon's return, and, in ** afternoon.
mean time, I was to give the matter my serious ce I had assisted Mr. Coleman in placing Clara Saville
sideration, and decide on the best course for us to in the carriage which arrived to convey her to Barstone,
The only person in the establishment whom she cous and had received a kind glance, and a slight pressure of
thoroughly trust, was the extraordinary old footman the hand in return, which I would not have exchanged
subject of Lawless's little bit of diplomacy,) View for the smiles of an empress, when, anxious to be alone
served under her father in the Peninsula, and some with my own thoughts, I started off for a solitary walk,
panied him home in the character of conides nor did I relax my pace till I had left all traces of human
servant-he had consequently known Clara from schon habitation far behind me, and green fields and leafless
and was strongly attached to her, so that she hedges were my only companions. I then endeavoured
learned to regard him more in the light of s * Sa in some measure to collect my scattered thoughts, and
than a servant. Through this somewhat origin to reflect calmly on the position I had placed myself in,
stitute for a confidante, we arranged to comme by the avowal into which the unexpected events of the
with each other. morning had hurried me. But so much was I excited,
As to my own line of conduct, I very soon decid1 that calm reflection appeared next to impossible. Feel
that. I would only await a communication from Clarat? ing flushed with the victory it had obtained over its
assure me that Mr. Vernon's determination with replies old antagonist, Reason seemed, in every sense of the
to her remained unchanged, ere I would seek an 1* word, to have gained the day, and, despite all the diffi
view with him, enlighten him as to Cumberland: 'F** culties that lay before me--difficulties which I knew
character, acquaint him with Clara's aversion to would appear all but insurmountable, whenever I should
match, and induce him to allow of its being broken venture to look them steadily in the face, the one idea
I should then tell him of my own affection for ber. 12 that Clara Saville loved me, was ever present with me,
of my intention of coming forward to demand berlin and rendered me supremely happy.
as soon as by my professional exertions I should tsit The condition of loving another better than oneself,
realized a sufficient independence to enable me to mam
As to Clara's fortune, if fortune she had, she mad (1) Continued from p. 230.
build a church, endow a hospital, or buy herself boex
ribbons with it, as she pleased, for not a farthing of it gulated by the most consummate tact and cunning, would I ever touch on any consideration. No one should allowing the deep interest he pretends to feel in me to be able to say, that it was for the sake of her money appear in every look and action, yet never going far I sought to win her.
enough to afford me an excuse for repulsing him. This Well, all this was very simple, straight-forward work ; | morning, however, I have had an interview with Mr. - where, then, were the difficulties which had alarmed Vernon, in which I stated my repugnance to the marme so greatly? Let me see-Mr. Vernon might choose riage as strongly as possible ; he was fearfully irritated, to fancy that it would take some years to add to the and, at length, on my repeating my refusal, plainly told 901. 148. 68 d. sufficiently to enable me to support a me that it was useless for me to resist his will,—that wife, and might disapprove of his ward's engaging her- | I was in his power, and if I continued obstinate, I self to me on that account—what if he did? I wished must be made to feel it. Oh ! that man's anger is for no engagement--let her remain free as air, her own terrible to witness; it is not that he is so violenttrue affection would stand my friend, and on that I he never seems to lose his self-control-but says the could rely, content if it failed me, to-to-well, it did | most cutting things in a tone of calm, sarcastic bitnot signify what I might do in an emergency which terness, which lends double force to all he utters. I never could arise.-No! only let him promise not to feel that it is useless for us to contend against fate : force her inclinations-to give up his monstrous project you cannot help me, and would only embroil yourself of wedding her to Cumberland, and to leave her free to with these men, were you to attempt to do so. I shall bestow her hand on whom she would, and I should be ever look back upon the few days we spent together, perfectly satisfied. But, suppose, as Clara seemed to as a bright spot in the dark void of my life,-that life fear, he should refuse to break off the engagement with which you preserved at the risk of your own. Alas ! his nephew-suppose he should forbid me the house, you little knew the cruel nature of the gift you were
and, taking advantage of my absence, use his authority bestowing. And now, farewell for ever! That you ' to force on this hateful marriage! All that would be may find all the happiness your kindness and genei extremely disagreeable, and I could not say I exactly rosity deserve, is the earnest prayer of one, whom, for
saw at the moment, what means I should be able to her sake, as well as your own, you must strive to
employ, effectually to prevent it;-still it was only a forget." ? remote contingency-an old man like him, with one "If I do forget her," exclaimed I, as I pressed the
foot, as you might say, in the grave, (he could not have note to my lips, “may I -- well, never mind, I'll go been above sixty, and his constitution, like everything over and have it out with that old brute this very else about him, appeared of cast iron,) must have some morning, and we'll see if he can frighten me;" and so conscience, must pay some little regard to right and saying, I set to work to finish dressing, in a great state wrong: it would only be necessary to open his eyes to of virtuous indignation. the enormity of wedding beauty and innocence such as “ Freddy," inquired I, when breakfast was at length Clara's to a scoundrel like Cumberland-a man destitute concluded, “where can I get a horse ?" of every honourable feeling-oh! he must see that the “Get a horse ?" was the reply. “Oh! there are a great thing is impossible, and, as the thought passed through many places,-it depends upon what kind of horse you my mind, I longed for the moment when I should be want:-for race-horses, steeple-chasers, and hunters, I confronted with him, and able to tell him so.
would recommend Tattersall's; for hacks or machiners, And Clara, too! sweet, bewitching, unhappy Clara ! there's Aldridge's, in St. Martin's-lane; while Dixon's, what must not she have gone through, ere a mind in the Barbican, is the place to pick up a fine young naturally buoyant and elastic as hers, could have been cart-horse-is it a young cart-horse you want?" crushed into a state of such utter dejection, such calm, “My dear fellow, don't worry me,” returned I, feeling spiritless despair! her only wish, to die-her only hope, very cross, and trying to look amiable; "you know to find in the grave a place “ where the wicked cease what I mean; is there any thing rideable to be hired from troubling, and where the weary are at rest !" But in Hillingford -I have a call to make which is beyond brigater days were in store for her,-it should be my a walk." ambition to render her married life so happy, that, if “Let me see," replied Freddy, musing;"you wouldn't possible, the recollection of all she had suffered having like a very little poney, with a rat-tail, I suppose-it passed away, her mind should recover its proper tone, might look absurd with your long legs, I'm afraid-or and even her lightness of heart, which the chilí else Mrs. Meek, the undertaker's widow, has got a very atmosphere of unkindness for a time had blighted, quiet one, that poor Meek used to ride-a child could should revive again in the warm sunshine of affection. manage it:-there's the butcher's fat mare, but she won't
Thus meditating, I arrived at Elm Lodge, in a state stir a step without the basket, and it would be so of feeling containing about equal parts of the intensely troublesome for you to carry that all the way. Tompoctical, and the very decidedly hungry.
kins, the sweep, has got a little horse he'd let you have, On the second morning after the events I have | I dare say, but it always comes off black on one's trowdescribed, a note was brought to me whilst I was sers; and the miller's cob is just as bad the other way
Cressing ;-with trembling fingers I tore open the with the flour. I know a donkey· envelope, and read as follows:
“So do I," was my answer, as, laughing in spite of “I promised to inforın you of what occurred on my myself, I turned to leave the room. return here, and I must therefore do so, though what “Here, stop a minute !" cried Freddy, following me, I have to communicate will only give you pain :-- “ you are so dreadfully impetuous; there's nothing all that my fears pointed at has come to pass, and my morally wrong in being acquainted with a donkey, is doom appears irrevocably sealed. Late on the evening there? I assure you I did not mean any thing perof my return to Barstone, Mr. Vernon and his nephew sonal-and now for a word of sense. Bum pus, at the arrived; I never shall forget the feeling of agony that Green Man, has got a tremendous horse, which nearly shot through iny brain, as Richard Cuinberland's foot frightened (me into fits the only time I ever mounted step sounded in the hall, knowing, as I too well did, the him, so that it will just suit you; nobody but a green purpose with which he was come; I fancied grief had man, or a knight errant, which I consider much the same in great measure deadened my feelings, but that moment sort of thing, would patronize such an animal-still, served to undeceive me—the mixture of horror, aversion, he's the only one I know of." and fear, combined with a sense of utter helplessness Coleman's tremendous horse, which proved to be a and desolation, seemed as it were to paralyse me
t all, pig-headed, hard-mouthed brute, with a very de“But I know not why I am writing all this, the cided will of his own, condescended, after sundry evening passed off without any thing particular taking skirmishes, and one pitched battle, occasioned by his place, -Mr. Cumberland's manner towards me was re- | positive refusal to pass a windmill, to go the road I