Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

Those dull girls no good can mean us,

quently practised, for Ben was too ponderous Wine it is the milk of Venus.

for the brawl or the coranto. Clause fifteen And the poet's horse accounted,

guards against the importunities and perPly it and you all are mounted; 'Tis the true Phæbeian liquor,

tinacities of those intrusive wandering Clears the brain, makes wit the quicker, musicians who, in the seventeenth century, Pays all debts, cures all diseases,

haunted taverns, and levied contributions And at once three senses pleases. Welcome all who lead or follow

on the guests. When the talk was good, To the oracle of Apollo.

and men like Donne and Selden were ex. Oh, rare Ben Jonson !

changing learning, or Randolph and Broome The last four words (forming the epitaph wit, this rough music forced upon

the comwhich an Oxfordshire baronet had cut upon pany would have been especially disagreethe paving-stone over the poet's grave in the able, and Ben did well to bar out such north aisle of Westminster Abbey) we must “saucy fiddlers.” These laws, says that presume to have been added to the verses genial critic, Leigh Hunt, for whom, how. after Jonson's death.

ever, Ben was far too muscular and robust, On a slab of black marble, over the “are composed in his usual style of elachimney-piece of this classic room, were borate and compiled learning, not without inscribed the following lines, written, as a taste of that dictatorial self-sufficiency Gifford thinks, in imitation of those rules which forms an indelible part of his chaof the Roman entertainments, so indus. racter.” triously collected by the learned Lipsius. There is no doubt that the Apollo Club We append the old translation, written by was one of the earliest associations of the we know not whom, unworthy as it is of kind known in London. Many of the the crisp Latin of the original code:

elements of the modern club were compre

hended in its constitution. The meetings As the fund of our pleasure let each pay his shot, Except some chance friend whom a member brings were more formal than those earlier ones in,

at the Mermaid. Its members had a room Far hence be the sad, the lewd fop and the sot,

and rules of their own. For such have the plagues of good company been.

The attendance Let the learned and witty, the jovial and gay,

was habitual though voluntary. No chance The generous and honest compose our free state,

guest of the tavern could intrude on Ben And the more to exalt our delight whilst we stay, and his tribe. Every man paid for himself, Let none be debarred from his choice female mate.

and probably also joined in the subscripLet no scent offensive the chamber infest,

tion for the use of the room, which was no Let fancy not cost prepare all our dishes, Let the caterer mind the taste of each guest,

doubt set apart for the use of the club at And the cook in his dressing comply with their certain prescribed evenings. The thrifty wishes.

and simple age had not yet dreamed of Let's have no disturbance about taking place,

such palaces as now adorn Pall Mall and To show your nice breeding or out of vain pride ; Let the drawers be ready with wine and fresh glasses,

Piccadilly; of liveried servants, libraries, Let the waiters have eyes though their tongues must and splendid furniture. The Apollo room, be ty'd.

where men who had known Shakespeare Let our wines without mixture or strum be all fine, talked of him and repeated his merry say.

Or call up the master and break his dull noddle, Let no sober bigot here think it a sin

ings, had no doubt a sanded or rush-strewn To push on the drinking a moderate bottle. floor, with tree-boughs in the fireplace in Let the contests be rather of books than of wine, summer, and a cheerful fire in winter. Plain

Let the company be neither noisy nor mute, stamped leather hangings or simple wains-
Let none of things serious much less divine,
When belly and head full profanely dispute.

cot adorned the walls, and the meat was Let no saucy fiddler presume to intrude,

served on shining pewter. The drawers Unless he is sent for to vary our bliss,

were such nimble creatures as the Francis With wit, mirth, and dancing, and singing conclude, Shakespeare sketched in Henry the Fourth, To regale every sense with delight in excess.

and Sir Simon himself, the landlord of the There is nothing remarkable about these house, was no doubt a rosy-faced, portly rules laid down by Ben Jonson; they pro- personage, with much of Falstaff's promptvide only for the goodness of the wine, the ness at banter, and a fondness for odd saycleanness and neatness requisite to com- ings stolen from plays, and quaint proverbs fort, and the exclusion of noisy, ribald, and snatches of old world songs, that were moping, or drunken persons, the bane and ready missiles against satirical guests. kill-joys of such pleasant meetings. We It is but waste castle-building even to cannot suppose that the clause allowing the attempt to picture one of those gatherings introduction of ladies was often taken advan- in the Apollo room, but we must perforce tage of, nor could dancing have been fre- see one figure standing out above the rest and throned above all. That figure is Ben of both armies. “I did not shame the Jonson, the monarch, father, and despot of profession of arms by my actions,” he used the company. Burly and massive as the to say afterwards. On his return home, subsequent sultan of London clubs, equally Ben Jonson, then about nineteen, took to overbearing and equally irresistible, he has the stage; Wood says, to the Green Curtain, a face marked like Johnson's by disease, and an obscure theatre in Shoreditch, with what has a malign melancholy equally tainting success is uncertain. He fought a duel his blood, and driving him from the lonely with a brother actor, and killing him, was study to the crowded tavern, from the thrown into prison for murder, and nardusty quiet of silent folios to the noise, rowly escaped the gallows. His antagonist

, mirth, and banter of taverns. Ben himself as he afterwards told Drummond, had come has sketched his own portrait, “his moun- into the field with a sword ten inches tain belly and his rocky face.” His fea- longer than his own. In prison he turned tures are massive and strongly marked, his Roman Catholic, and on his release married. mouth is grim and sour. Many chagrins, Two years later, 1578, he wrote his admany vexations, have furrowed tha

mas- mirable play, Every Man in his Humour. sive, knotty brow. It has taken many hogs. There is a groundless tradition that Shakeheads of good canary to fill out that great speare, ten years older than Jonson, read elephantine carcass, many intellectual vic- the play in the manuscript, and saved it tories in the wrestling ring Ben must have from rejection. But Gifford has shown that won before he gained that lordly, confident it was really brought out at the Rose, a rival air, that rough readiness with which he theatre to the Globe. Yet this is certain, tomahawks an antagonist. He rolls in the that the play was afterwards altered for presidential chair the undisputed Grand the Globe, and that Shakespeare appeared Turk of the chief tavern club of London. in one of the characters. At this time Ben, “Let nobody repeat to us insipid poetry,” though poor, and living by altering plays he writes, as if all that he should read for Henslowe and Alleyn, the managers, of his own must infallibly be otherwise. who advanced small sums upon the work, There would indeed have been humility in was yet friendly with Drayton and ChapJonson if he had thought his own poems man, Rowley, Middleton, and Fletcher, and insipid. Rough and knotty they might be, had been writing for three years in conharsh and crabbed they sometimes were, junction with his subsequent enemies, Marbut Ben was never insipid till the palsy ston and Decker. His next play, Every seized him. Jonson's arrogance came from Man out of his Humour, was honoured by disappointment, as Doctor Johnson's came the presence of Elizabeth. Soon after the from success.

With more sunshine Ben accession of James, the poet fell into disJonson would have ripened and mellowed, grace. For a satirical passage in Eastwith more east wind Doctor Johnson would ward Ho, against “the industrious Scots," have been less domineering.

written by Jonson, Chapman, and Marston, Every member of the Devil Club must the three dramatists were thrown into have known the main facts of Ben Jonson's prison. A report was at first spread that life. They had all heard that he was of they would have their ears and noses slit Scotch descent, his father a clergyman, suf- in the pillory. On their release they gave fering imprisonment under Queen Mary, an entertainment, at which Camden and probably for his staunch Protestantism. Selden were present. At this feast Ben's His mother, soon after his father's death, mother drank to him, and showed him a married a small builder or master-brick- paper containing a strong and lusty poison, layer. The sturdy boy was sent by a friend which she had intended to have mixed to Westminster School, where Camden the with his drink had he been sentenced to historian was the second master. At six. such a degrading punishment. “To show teen probably Jonson was sent to St. John's she was no chur),” Jonson adds, “she deCollege, Cambridge, according to Fuller. signed to have first drank of it herself.” Called home to work at his father's trade, he In 1605, two years after James's accessoon threw down hod and trowel and joined sion, Ben Jonson produced his fine play of the army in Flanders (Gifford says pro- the Fox, in which he was unjustly supposed bably at the time that Vere was recovering to have ridiculed Sir Richard Sutton, the the spirit of the army by storming Daven- excellent founder of the Charter House; but ter, and other acts of gallantry). Ben there Ben had many enemies, and he lashed fought and killed an enemy in single com- them into incessant rages. About this bat, and carried off his spoils in the sight time Ben Jonson left the Church of Rome, and, as Drummond perhaps maliciously re- of Rochester's bullies, who had fallen upon ports, in the fervour of his zeal drank out and beaten him one winter evening in Rosethe full cup of wine at his first commu- alley. In 1689, Sir Francis Child was saved nion. In 1606, for the unfortunate mar- from failure by fourteen hundred pounds riage of the Earl of Essex, Jonson began lent his bank by the Duchess of Marlboone of the earliest and most beautiful of rough. Hogarth is said to have sketched his long series of masques. The poet, now the presentation of the timely aid. The late a favourite with James, became laureate, beautiful Countess of Jersey was a partner receiving a pension for life of a hundred in the firm, and among the present partmarks. Three years after this, Daniel, ners is a descendant of Addison. the previous court poet, died, and James would now have knighted Ben had not the poet been unwilling. The king, how

THE FIRST SNOW. ever, gave him a reversionary grant of (HERE is sorrow and there is mirth, the office of Master of the Revels, a post

The soft white snow is draping the earth, which he never filled. Soon after the

The boy is shouting and making a slide,

But the cottage hearth lacks fuel inside. accession of Charles the First, Jonson's

He dips his hands in the snow so gay, health seems to have given way. Always And rubs them hard to keep cold away; scorbutic, he now became palsied and While the puffing beadle, that man of law, dropsical. His play of the New Inn was Ties up the village pump with straw! driven from the stage by his malignant

Chill is the time for man and beast,

The wind cuts sharp as a knife from the east; enemies, who gained courage when the old

The little ones from the cold and ico lion grew sick. The kindly king instantly Under the bedclothes creep like mice. sent him a hundred pounds; he soon after

With comforters drawn to the chin, wards granted the poet's petition to make The folk go stamping out and in, the pension of one hundred marks two And their noses, as they come and go,

Are red as rosebuds among the snow. hundred pounds, and added, moreover, an annual tierce of canary (Jonson's favourite Hatless, capless, mad with fun,

Out of school the urchins run, wine). Evils now fell fast as snow-flakes

Quick as thought the balls are made, on the dying man. Inigo Jones, jealous of And the air is thick with the cannonade. his violent coadjutor, had him removed They pause as the beadle passes by, from the office of Writer of Court Masques, And bang their heads and hush their cry, and the Court of Aldermen (1631) with

But just as the great man disappears

A cold ball strikes him behind the ears! drew his City poet's annual pension of one hundred nobles. He died poor, in 1637.

Off goes his hat-his red face turns,

Red as a turkey's-comb it burns, His wife and children died before him.

But the spell is broken : with shouts and cries Child's bank, the oldest in London, was The enemy pelts him till he flies ! founded in the reign of Charles the First, All things around us, high or low, by Francis Child, an apprentice of William Are under the spell of the white, white snow;

Its mystic hand with a silvern gleam Wheeler, goldsmith, whose daughter he

Trances all to a pleasant dream. married. The banker's old street sign, the Marigold, still hangs in the front office, with the motto “ Ainsi mon ame” gilt upon THE BLUEBOTTLE FLY. a green ground, and the marigold (often

A FRENCH ART-STUDENT'S STORY. mistaken for a rising sun) still blooms pleasantly upon the cheques. With this trusty

IN FOUR CHAPTERS. CHAPTER IV. firm Charles the Second, Nell Gwynne, I HAVE never been able to remember how Prince Rupert, and, last not least, Samuel the remainder of this dread holiday was Pepys, banked, and in that dim ecclesias- spent. Memory can recal nothing but a tical-looking room over the gateway are sick and weary search after repose still kept the accounts of Alderman Back- yearning desire to lie down and forget all well, a partner of the first Child, for the that had taken place since the morning; sale of Dunkirk to the French, a bargain the scenes in which I had played such that led to the fall of Lord Clarendon, unwilling part; in short, my very self. who was supposed to have reared his great But I walked on-on-on, for I could not palace in Piccadilly (the site of Albemarle rest, trying in vain to lay my aching head street) with the money, It was at Child against a tree, or sitting down for a moand Blanchard's (next door to Temple Bar) ment amid the grass and fern-leaves. But that, in 1678, Dryden deposited the fifty the endeavour was useless. No sooner pounds reward he offered for the detection were my limbs at case than the whirring

a

and buzzing in my ears drove me dis- old house where I knew my dear mother tracted, reminding me with terrible exact- was waiting to comfort and console me, I ness of the accursed spell which some foul fairly burst into tears. This was the climax, sorcery seemed to have flung around me. and by the action I was so much relieved, It was now long past mid-day. I must have that I mounted the stairs with something walked many miles during that sultry like a return of that calm and self-posafternoon, without drift or intention, run- session I had enjoyed but for a short space, ning forward, then turning back, to find indeed, since I had left home in the mornmyself at the same spot whence I had ing. All my weariness and depression started. It was not a fête day, so the seemed to be dispelled as the same soothing woods were peaceful enough, and I met red light from the setting sun, as that but few people in this wild walk. One or which had greeted me on the evening before, two groups passed me on my way, and I shone through the staircase windows; and observed that they all seemed scared at as I passed each landing-place I pausedmy approach, and turned to look after me in spite of my haste to regain the peace when I had gone by. I remember that and quiet of our mansarde-to feast my one old gentleman of benevolent aspect eyes upon the well-remembered line of spoke to me in gentle tones; but the sound orange-coloured light which had so comof a human voice brought back all the forted me before. As I gradually reached irritation to my brain, and I fled; and the upper story of the house, I grew more starting forward with a bound, all foot- subdued, and when at length I stood besore, exhausted, and weary as I was, neath the dingy skylight in the roof which turned and ran up the steep acclivity I had lighted our own landing, I fancied I had just descended, as though the hounds and reached at length the haven for which my huntsmen were at my heels.

soul had been sighing so long. I had tasted nothing since the ill-starred I crept slowly up the few remaining repast with Père Ajax in the early morn- steps leading to our apartment. The door ing; but I felt neither thirst nor hunger, was standing open-a thing so contrary to only the peremptory necessity of rest, my mother's reserved and retired habits, without the power to seek it, even for an that the incident was in itself alone a instant. In short, the first symptoms of source of uneasiness and wonder. It the brain fever, which was to bring me actually caused me to quicken my pace; down to the lowest depths of misery, were but before I could enter the little antealready rioting through my whole system. room, where our reading-lamp was already It was not till sundown that I grew more burning (another unwonted circumstance calm; the cool quiet of the evening was in the economy of our daily life), my soothing in the extreme. I came to myself

, mother herself appeared upon the threshold. as it were, like one awaking from a troubled Her countenance was unusually animated, dream, and began to reconnoitre my and she spoke in a hurried tone, which whereabouts with something like a return betrayed the greatest excitement. to rational reflection. It was then that, “Make haste, my darling !” exclaimed with the greatest delight, I found myself she, "we have been looking out for you close to the little fountain by the wall with the greatest impatience. Babette has of the home park. I hailed the chance been twice to the end of the street to see if as the saving of my life. I drank greedily you were coming." of the water, and bathed my temples This greeting

surprised me beyond meain the hollow basin cut in the stone.

It seemed as if everything had The momentary relief seemed like the changed as well as myself since I had left renovation of existence, and I hastened to the house in the morning, and my temper the station, which is but a short distance was anything but soothed by this novel from this spot, with more steadiness and mode of salutation. self-command than I could possibly have My dear mother's mind was evidently anticipated, and was whirled into Paris with intensely preoccupied, for she did not even out any cause for further excitement. I observe the complete prostration under even walked home from the terminus, for which I was labouring. And as I was I dreaded the thumping and bumping of about to throw myself upon a chair she the omnibus, steadily enough, and without seized me by the arm. attracting observation. How glad was I “Nay, dearest, there is no time just now when the Rue Mazarin first broke upon for either talk or rest. You must not even my sight! And when I again beheld the tarry to change your dusty suit. You have

sure.

66

66

been sent for, nay, sent for twice. What do , as I still was, with eyelids drooping with you

think?" Here she kissed me fer- fatigue and head racked with fever pains. vently on the forehead, but never observed Oh, mother, let me sleep !” exclaimed I, how hot it was. "The story is too long to faintly, as I drew back towards the door of tell, for time presses,” resumed she. “How my own little bedroom. I had no power to strange are the ways of Providence! We utter more. The dear soul beheld in my need never despair; I always knew your repugnance to depart nothing more than talent would be appreciated some day or a natural timidity, and urged me to hasten other, my

darling, if once it could be all the more; she tightened my cravat and known.” And here she kissed me on the brushed my hair. She sponged my forecheek and never perceived that it was head and slipped my Sunday paletot over flushed and heated to excess. But my my soiled and stained blouse, while I was stupefied and bewildered look must have walking to and fro, literally reeling with struck her, nevertheless, for she added with sickness, and murmuring now and then as something like a start, and drawing back if in slumber. to gaze more intently into my face :

“Oh, mother, do let me lie down and But, dear one, I forgot-you know sleep, I dare not go to this place ; mother nothing of what has happened. Well, then, dear, I cannot do what is required, I only see how Fate has been working for you! want to sleep!”. Just as Babette and I were beginning to Never shall I cease to wonder at the expect you home and to prepare your supper, blindness evinced by my mother on this in rushed the boy from the colour-shop, occasion. Maternal pride and maternal amscreeching for you at the top of his voice to bition must have been more powerful at that go immediately to his master for an order. moment than even maternal tenderness, for The old lady who bought your beautiful my dear mother, at other times so anxious, picture last night had sent to the shop for so vigilant over the smallest indisposition, you, to go that moment to take a likeness exaggerated even in her anticipations of of some one who is to leave Paris by day- evil, did not perceive that aught was amiss break to-morrow morning, and cannot wait. with me, that my brain was on fire, and No sooner had the boy disappeared than that I could scarcely see. The dread of old Nicol himself made his appearance in a beholding her darling superseded in the towering rage, abusive as usual, against luck which Fortune had thrown in his way you for losing your time in the country, had entirely absorbed every other feeling, against me for having allowed it, and it and she literally pushed me out upon the was only by the assurance of your speedy stairs with a few gentle reproaches for my return that I could induce him to depart. timidity, mended up by many kind words Scarcely had half an hour elapsed before he of encouragement, among which I rememcame once more, this time in a state of ber still the prophecy that “ frenzy. The lady had sent again, the had begun that night," and those words, so affair is pressing, that likeness must be I have since been told, I repeated without taken to-night. What can that young ceasing for many days and many weeks scamp be doing in the woods after sunset ? afterwards. Just like beggars on horseback. But it I have no remembrance whatever of the serves me right. If I hadn't been so visit to Nicol's shop, nor of the arrangevery free with my money last night he ment concerning the commission to be paid couldn't have left the studio.' And as, to him out of the job I was about to un. grown furious with his own words, he dertake, but I do remember the oval board turned to leave the room, he added : and the box of chalks he placed in my

Now mind, I will give the young scape- hand to be used for the work. The address grace another half - hour,' and he pulled was in the Rue de Vaugirard, at the Hôtel out the horrid big turnip watch he always Méréville. I scarcely know how I reached carries, and if he is not with me then, the place. I tottered rather than walked ma foi, I must get another of old Rabâche's along the streets. Perhaps the fresh air of boys to execute the job. It's a pity, too; the night may have come once more to my only a sketch to be done in black chalk, relief, for as I lifted the huge knocker at can be executed in a few minutes, and so the gate of the Hôtel Méréville, I succeeded well paid! A duchess into the bargain, in gathering together the scattered thoughts with no end of patronage in perspective.”” which had been chasing each other, as it

' And then my mother hurried me into were, over the surface of my brain, and the kitchen, all perplexed and bewildered by the time the gate was opened and I

my fortune

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »