Imatges de pàgina

XV. The Fire of London. 1. This account of the great fire of 1666 was written by an eye-witness, John Evelyn, whose famous “Diary” gives us much information about the times of Charles II.

2. grenades : small shells of iron filled with gunpowder an bit of iron, which scatter with great orce when the missile bursts, and do much damage to the enemy. Our Grenadiers were originally the soldiers who threw grenades, and each battalion had a company of them. The old French grenade and the Spanish granada meant a pomegranate (that is, a fruit full of kernels, as the missile is full of bits of iron), from Latin granatus, full of seeds—from granum, a grain.

3. The Invective : the fumifugium, or the inconvenience of the air and smoke of London dissipated ; together with some remedies humbly proposed. This was addressed to Charles II., and published by his command.

XVII. Palissy the Potter. 1. The events recorded in the preceding chapter : the persecution of certain Protestant preachers. Bernard de Palissy was a celebrated French potter in the 16th century. Like many of the French artizans, he was a Huguenot, and was himself imprisoned for his religious worship. He died in the Bastile, 1590. But much as we may admire the courage and constancy of his faith, it is as a great artist that Palissy is remembered. “The pottery made by Palissy (of which, under the name of Palissy ware, exquisite specimens are still existing) was very characteristic of himself.

He was a naturalist, . to reproduce in his works the bright colours and elegant forms of the plants and animals, on which he had so long and so often gazed in the woods and fields, was his delight, and he founded his reputation on what he called rustic pieces. . . . These were, in fact, accurate models from life of wild animals, reptiles, plants, and other productions of Nature, tastefully introduced as ornaments upon a vase or plate.”

2. Seigneurs : lords. The word seigneur, like our sir, comes from Latin senior : elder. It is a title originally of the respect that is due to an old man on account of his years.

3. château : castle, a country house of a French nobleman, The plural form, châteaua, is here intended.

XVIII. Fanny's Fairings. 1. Bow Bell: the bell of a famous old church in Cheap. side, London, St. Mary de Arcubus, i.e. Mary-le-bow, said to be so called because it was the first London church that was built on arches. The true Londoner or 'cockney'must be born within hearing of its bells.

2. Motley: of different colours. Those who have read Shakespeare will remember that motley is the parti-coloured dress worn by the fool.

3 Urchin : formerly meant a hedge-hog (Latin, ericius), as Comus 845, and Tempest 11. 2. It was also a name for a kind of fairy :

By the moone we sport and play,
With the night begins our day;
As we friske the dew doth fall,
Trip it, little turchins all,
Lightly as the little bee,
Two by two, and three by three,
And about, about go we.

Douce's Illustr., I. p. 11. But as fairies are little people, and often mischievous little people, we can easily see how the word came to mean, as here, a mischievous boy.

4. ilinerant : travelling. Latin iter, a journey.
5. chemin faisant : by the way ; or, as they were going.
6. de trop : too many. Both are French expressions.

XX. Kenilworth. 1. Kenilworth. The magnificent entertainment described in this extract took place in July 1575. Kenilworth Castle, in Warwickshire, now a stately ruin, was then one of the greatest castles in England. The outer wall enclosed seven acres, which were occupied by the huge pile of towered buildings surrounding an inner court, extensive stables, a pleasure garden, and large base court or outer yard.

“ The external wall of this royal castle was, on the south and west sides, adorned and defended by a lake, partly artificial, across which Leicester had constructed a stately bridge (see below), that Elizabeth might enter the castle by a path hitherto untrodden, instead of the usual entrance to. the northward, over which he had erected a gate-house or barbican, which still exists, and is equal in extent, and superior in architecture, to the baronial castle of many a


northern chief. Beyond the lake lay an extensive chase, full of red deer, fallow deer, roes and every species of game, and abounding with lofty trees.”—Kenilworth, ch. 25.

2. The gallery tower. « The entrance tower obtained the name of the gallery tower from the following circumstance. The whole bridge, extending from the entrance to another tower on the opposite side of the lake, called Mortimer's tower, was so disposed as to make a spacious tilt-yard, about one hundred and thirty yards in length, and ten in breadth, strewed with the finest sand, and delended on either side by strong and high palisades. The broad and fair gallery, destined for the ladies who were to witness the feats of chivalry presented on this area, was erected on the northern side of the outer tower, to which it gave name.”

Kenilworth, ch. 26. 3. bonnet : formerly used of the head-covering of a man, as now among the Highlanders. Thus it is said of Bolingbroke in the play of Richard II.

"Off goes his bonnet to an oyster wench." 4. for the nones, or for the nonce : for the occasion ; formerly spelt for then anes. The n is really the sign of the dative case of the article.

5. pageant : a scenic show, literally the scaffold on which the old Bible plays (Mysteries) were performed in the streets. The old form was pagen or pagin from Low Latin, pagina (from pangere, to fasten): a t was inserted after the 11, as in the words

ancient, tyrant, pheasant.-Skeat. 6. Watchet-coloured : the colour of woad; blue.

7. Kenilworth Castle is said to have been built by Geoffrey de Clinton, the chamberlain and treasurer of Henry I., to whom the king had granted the manor. After three of his descendants had possessed it, it reverted to the Crown. Henry III. gave it to Simon de Montfort for life ; and when the great Earl took up arms against his king, it became a centre for his followers. In 1266, it resisted a siege for six months. Edward 1. held a grand tournament at Kenilworth, of which Roger Mortimer, Earl of March, was the chief promoter and challenger. Edward 11. was confined here in 1326. In the time of Edward 11. it passed into the hands of John of Gaunt, and through his son, Henry IV., again reverted to the Crown. It remained a royal castle till Elizabeth gave it to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

8. Arion : a Greek bard, who leaping into the sea to escape murder at the hands of the ship's crew, was saved by a dolphin whom he had charmed by his music.

XXI. A Charade. 1. hermit : one who lives in solitude, generally for the purposes of prayer and self-mortification. From a Greek word meaning deserted.

2. cates : provisions. The answer to this riddle is cupboard.

XXII. “Where there's a Will there's a Way.1. Benjamin Franklin, born at Boston, in the United States, 1706, in spite of many difficulties, some of which are related in this extract, became a well-known writer, the inventor of the lightning conductor, and in the anxieties that beset his country during the latter half of the eighteenth century, one of her most useful public servants.

2. Chapmen : pedlars. Anglo Saxon ceapman, a merchant. 3. polemic : controversial ; from Greek polemos, war. 4. indenture : a written agreement.

5. The Spectator : a volume of essays by various writers, chiefly Joseph Addison and (Sir) Richard Steele, originally published separately, in the form of a little paper, one every morning, beginning March 1, 1711.

XXIV. Old London. 1. Camomile Street. Camomile, or chamomile : a kind of plant; in Greek, literally the earth-apple.

2. Artillery ground. See i Sam. XX. - 36—40, where artillery is used of bows and arrows.

3. Barbican : the outwork of a fort.

4. “In a similar position with respect to the city wall, we find the old Bayle, at York; the church of St. Peter in the Bailey, at Oxford ; and Bailey Hill, at Sheffield and Radnor. A bailiff was originally the Bayle-Reeve, or officer in charge of the Ballium ; just as the Sheriff is the Shire-Reeve. A bail is, etymologically, a palisade. Thus the bails at cricket were originally the stumps, the present restricted meaning of the word being of later origin. The Rornan vallum and the English wall, are etymologically stockades."

Words and Places,

5. The Flcet. The words flood, fleet, and float, come from the Anglo Saxon verb, fleotan, to float or swim. A fleet is either that which is afloat, or a place where vessels can float - that is, a channel, or where water fleets or runs. Hence the names Ebbfleet, Northfleet," etc.-Words and Places.

6. Billingsgate : a passage under a tower built by King Belyn. In the North, gate generally means a road; in the South, a passage.

7. The Holborn. “The "old Bourne," or burn, is the etymology of 'The Holborn,' which is universally given thoughtlessly copied by one writer from another. That a village or town should be called Oldham, Aldborough, or Newton, is intelligible, but how a name like Old bourne should have arisen is difficult to explain. The introduction of the h is another difficulty in the way of this etymology. It seems far more in accordance with etymological laws to refer the name to the Anglo Saxon hole, a hollow, or ravine ; the Holborn will therefore be 'the Burn in the hollow,' like. the Holbeck in Lincolnshire, and the Holbec in Normandy.”,

Words and Places. 8. Newcastle Lane. Coal was formerly brought from Newcastle to London by sea : hence its name sea coal."

XXV. A Self-taught Musician. 1. an oratorio : a kind of musical drama on a Scriptural subject.

2. gamut : the musical scale.

3. Calcott's thorough bass : that is, he studied Calcott's treatise on harmony.

4. orchestra : properly the part of a theatre for the musicians ; hence a band of musicians.

XXVI. The Prisoner of Chillon. 1. The castle of Chillon is a massive building on a rock, not far from shore, in the Lake of Geneva. In the year 1530 François de Bonnivard, the historian and defender of Geneva, was imprisoned for six years in its dungeons by the Duke of Savoy, without trial, for attempting to resist his occupation of Geneva. He had been previously imprisoned by the Duke for two years, at Grolée, for a political offence. Byron has commemorated this brave champion of political freedom in

It will be seen that this extract has little historical basis. At the time when Lord Byron wrote the Prisoner of Chillon he had not heard the story of Bonnivard, but so


a sonnet.

« AnteriorContinua »