The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

VII. Reformation and Renascence in Scotland

§ 4. Plays

More interesting for the literary history of the period is Knox’s mention of Kyllour’s play, The History of Christ’s Passion, to which reference has already been made. Of Kyllour and his play we know nothing beyond the casual reference of Knox. It is matter for greater regret that two plays, mentioned by the church historian, Calderwood, have not come down to us. The subjects of the two plays point to the preoccupations of the age—the one being a tragedy on John the Baptist, a favourite handle for satirical attacks on the evils of church and state, and the other a comedy on Dionysius the Tyrant. Scanty as these references are, they lead to the conclusion that dramatic representations furnished the means by which the champions of the new religion first sought to communicate their teaching to the people. But scenic displays were not the most effectual vehicles for spreading their tenets throughout the nation; only a comparatively small public could be reached by them, and the state had it always in its power to prohibit them, when they overstepped the limits prescribed by the law. Another form of literature, therefore, was required, at once less overt and of wider appeal, if the new teaching was to reach the masses of the people; and such a vehicle was now to be found.