« PreviousContinue »
Duke. But what said Jaques ? Did he not moralize this spectacle?
1 Lord. Oh, yes, into a thousand similes : First, for his weeping in the needless stream ; Poor deer, quoth he, thou mak’st a testament As worldlings do, giving thy sum of more To that which had too much ; then being alone, Left and abandon'd of his velvet friends : 'Tis right, quoth he, thus misery doth part The flux of company: Anon a careless herd, Full of the pasture, jumps along by him, And never stays to greet him : Ay, quoth Jaques, Sweep on, ye fat and greasy citizens, 'Tis just the fashion,” &c.
“ I am quite as sensible as you can be," said Egeria, “ to all the beauty of that passage ; but it is not so romantic as this in Philaster,—nor so poetical, nor withal more pathetic:"—
“I have a boy
Which gave him roots, and of the crystal springs
“ There is, however, nothing in all Beaumont and Fletcher,” said Benedict, "half so tender, innocent, and delicate as the answer of Julia, when disguised as a boy, on being asked how tall Julia was :"
“ About my stature; for at Pentecost,
« In the Maid's Tragedy," replied Egeria, “I have an allusion to the same story of Ariadne. Aspatia, forsaken by her lover, finds her maid Antiphila working a picture of Ariadne, and says,"
“ But where's the lady?
Ant. There, madam.
Asp. Fy, you have miss'd it here, Antiphila, These colours are not dull and pale enough, To shew a soul so full of misery As this sad lady's was; do it by me; Do it again by me, the lost Aspatia, And you shall find all true.-Put me on th' wild island. I stand upon the sea-beach now, and think Mine arms thus, and mine hair blown by the wind, Wild as that desert, and let all about me Be teachers of my story: do my face (If thou hadst ever feeling of a sorrow), Thus, thus, Antiphila ; strive to make me look Like Sorrow's monument; and the trees about me Let them be dry and leafless; let the rocks Groan with continual surges, and behind me Make all a desolation ; see, see, wenches, A miserable life of this poor picture.”
« But,” resumed Egeria, “ if we go on at this rate, the night will not suffice for our comparison ; I shall therefore give you a few hints of which hereafter you may chew the cud. Compare the frenzy and the whole gentle character of the Jailer's Daughter in the Two Noble Kinsmen to Ophelia in Hamlet,say which is the best. Look also at the deaths of Pontius and Aëcius in Valentinian : I uphold them against the deaths of Cassius, Brutus, and their friends, in Julius Cæsar. Is the character and passions of Cleopatra in the False One inferior to Shakspeare's serpent of old Nile? Not a jot. Is the pious and grief-mingled rage of Edith, in the Bloody Brother, less skilfully conceived, or less power. fully executed, than the passion of Macduff on hearing of the massacre of his wife and children ? Is there any personage in all Shakspeare to compare with
Juliana in the Double Marriage, and her death ? Does the scene of old Lear, with Cordelia in his arms, surpass it ?"
“I will argue no more with you to-night,” said the Bachelor coldly, rising and gathering the books, which he replaced on the shelves.
OLD ENGLISH MANNERS. “ What have you got in your Album since I last looked at it ?” said the Bachelor one morning, seeing the Nymph busily engaged in copying from several scraps of paper on the table before her.
“ Not much,” replied Egeria; “ I have of late been reading but new books, and there is a great dearth of curious or of interesting passages in them all. Modern authors scribble so fast, that they have no time to compress their thoughts into proper quotable passages. But here are several notes illustrative of old English manners that are worthy of being reduced into some consistent form. This one is a description of an old English hall, which still remains as it existed in the days of Queen Elizabeth. It is the more curious on account of the story tacked to it, which might be easily worked up into an interesting three-volume novel—of the Scottish or Scott's school : it is from the notes to Sir Walter's Rokeby.”
LITTLECOTE-HOUSE. .“ LITTLECOTE-HOUSE stands in a low and lonely si. tuation. On three sides it is surrounded by a park that
spreads over the adjoining hill; on the fourth, by meadows which are watered by the river Kennet. Close on one side of the house is a thick grove of lofty trees, along the verge of which runs one of the principal avenues to it through the park. It is an irregular building of great antiquity, and was probably erected about the time of the termination of feudal warfare, when defence came no longer to be an object in a country-mansion. Many circumstances in the interior of the house, however, seem appropriate to feudal times. The hall is very spacious, floored with stones, and lighted by large transom windows, that are clothed with casements. Its walls are hung with old military accoutrements, that have long been left a prey to rust. At one end of the hall is a range of coats-of-mail and helmets, and there is on every side abundance of old-fashioned pistols and guns, many of them with matchlocks. Immediately below the cornice hangs a row of leathern jerkins, made in the form of a shirt, supposed to have been worn as armour by the vassals. A large oak-table, reaching nearly from one end of the room to the other, might have feasted the whole neighbourhood, and an appendage to one end of it made it answer at other times for the old game of shuffle-board. The rest of the furniture is in a suitable style, particularly an arm-chair of cumbrous workmanship, constructed of wood, curiously turned, with a high back and triangular seat, said to have been used by Judge Popham in the reign of Elizabeth. The entrance into the hall is at one end by a low door, communicating with a passage that leads from the outer door, in the front of the house, to a quadrangle within ; at the other it opens upon a gloomy staircase, by which you ascend to the first floor, and, passing the doors of some bed-chambers, enter a narrow gallery, which extends along the back front of the house from one end to the other of it, and looks upon an old garden.