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gentler freshness. What a burst of radiant joy is in the second couplet; what a vital quickness in the comparison of the horse, “starting as the fire;” and what a native and happy ease in the conclusion 1
The busy lark, the messenger of day,
Is risen, and looketh on the merry day;
The versification of this is not so striking as the other, but Dryden again falls short in the freshness and feeling of the sentiment. His lines are beautiful; but they do not come home to us with so happy and cordial a face. Here they are. The word morning in the first line, as it is repeated in the second, we are bound to consider as a slip of the pen; perhaps for mounting.
The morning-lark, the messenger of day,
How poor is this to Arcite's leaping from his courser “with a lusty heart!” How inferior the common-place of the “fiery steed,” which need not involve any actual notion in the writer's
- Saluteth. f Groves. # Royal.
mind, to the courser “starting as the fire; ”— how inferior the turning his face to “the rising day” and raising his voice to the singing “loud against the sunny sheen; ” and lastly, the whole learned invocation and adjuration of May, about guiding his “wandering steps” and “so may thy tender blossoms” &c. to the call upon the “fair fresh May,” ending with that simple, quick-hearted line, in which he hopes he shall get “some green here ;” a touch in the happiest vivacity! Dryden's genius, for the most part, wanted faith in nature. It was too gross and sophisticate. There was as much difference between him and his original, as between a hot noon in perukes at St. James's, and one of Chaucer's lounges on the grass, of a May-morning. All this worship of May is over now. There is no issuing forth, in glad companies, to gather boughs; no adorning of houses with “the flowery spoil;” no songs, no dances, no village sports and coronations, no courtly poetries, no sense and acknowledgment of the quiet presence of nature, in grove or glade.
O dolce primavera, o fior novelli,
O thou delicious spring, O ye new flowers,
Two hundred years ago, our ancestors used to delight in anticipating their May holidays. Bigotry came in, and frowned them away; then Debauchery, and identified all pleasures with the town ; then Avarice, and we have ever since been mistaking the means for the end.
Fortunately, it does not follow that we shall continue to do so. Commerce, while it thinks it is only exchanging commodities, is helping to diffuse knowledge. All other gains,—all selfish and extravagant systems of acquisition, —tend to over-do themselves, and to topple down by their own undiffused magnitude. The world, as it learns other things, may learn not to confound the means with the end, or at least (to speak more philosophically), a really poor means with a really richer. The veriest cricket-player on a green has as sufficient a quantity of excitement as a fundholder or a
partisan; and health, and spirits, and manliness to boot. Knowledge may go on ; must do so, from necessity; and should do so, for the ends we speak of ; but knowledge, so far from being incompatible with simplicity of pleasures, is the quickest to perceive its wealth. Chaucer would lie for hours, looking at the daisies. Scipio and Laelius could amuse themselves with making ducks and drakes on the water. Epaminondas, the greatest of all the active spirits of Greece, was a flute-player and dancer. Alfred the Great could act the whole part of a minstrel. Epicurus taught the riches of temperance and intellectual pleasure in a garden. The other philosophers of his country walked between heaven and earth in the colloquial bowers of Academus ; and “the wisest heart of Solomon,” who found everything vain because he was a king, has left us panegyrics on the Spring and the “voice of the turtle,” because he was a poet, a lover, and a wise man.
THE fifth of May, making the due allowance of twelve days from the twenty-third of April, according to the change of the Style, is the birthday of Shakspeare. Pleasant thoughts must be associated with him in everything. If he is not to be born in April, he must be born in May. Nature will have him with her on her blithest holidays, like her favourite lover.
O thou divine human creature—greater name than even divine poet or divine philosopher—and yet thou wast all three—a very spring and vernal abundance of all fair and noble things is to be found in thy productions ! They are truly a second nature. We walk in them, with whatever society we please ; either with men, or fair women, or circling spirits, or with none but the whispering airs and leaves. Thou makest worlds of green trees and gentle natures for us, in thy forests of Arden, and thy courtly retirements of Navarre. Thou bringest us among the holiday lasses on the green sward; layest us to sleep among fairies in the bowers of midsummer; wakest us with the song of the lark and the silver-sweet voices of lovers : bringest more music to our ears, both from earth and from the planets; anon settest us upon enchanted islands, where it welcomes us again, from the touching of invisible instruments ; and after all, restorest us to our still desired haven, the arms of humanity. Whether grieving us or making us glad, thou makest us kinder and happier. The tears which thou fetchest down, are like the rains of April, softening the times that come after them. Thy smiles are those of the month of love, the more blessed and universal for the tears.
The birth-days of such men as Shakspeare ought to be kept, in common gratitude and
affection, like those of relations whom we love. He has said, in a line full of him, that
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.
How near does he become to us with his thousand touches | The lustre and utility of intellectual power is so increasing in the eyes of the world, that we do not despair of seeing the time when his birthday will be a subject of public rejoicing ; when the regular feast will be served up in tavern and dwelling-house, the bust crowned with laurel, and the theatres sparkle with illuminations. In the mean time, it is in the power of every admirer of Shakspeare to honour the day privately. Rich or poor, busy or at leisure, all may do it. The busiest finds time to eat his dinner, and may pitch one considerate glass of wine down his throat. The poorest may call him to mind, and drink his memory in honest water. . We had mechanically written health, as if he were alive. So he is in spirit;—and the spirit of such a writer is so constantly with us, that it would be a good thing, a judicious extravagance, a contemplative piece of jollity, to drink his health instead of his memory. But this, we fear, should be an impulse. We must content ourselves with having felt it here, and drinking it in imagination. To act upon it, as a proposal of the day before yesterday, might be too much like getting up an externpore gesture, or practising an unspeakable satisfaction. An outline, however, may be drawn of the manner in which such a birth-day might be spent. The tone and colouring would be filled up, of course, according to the taste of the parties.—If any of our readers, then, have leisure as well as inclination to devote a day to the memory of Shakspeare, we would advise them, in the first place, to walk out, whether alone or in company, and enjoy during the morning as much as possible of those beauties of nature, of which he has left us such exquisite pictures. They would take a volume of him in their hands the most suitable to the occasion ; not to hold themselves bound to sit down and read it, nor even to refer to it, if the original work of nature should occupy them too much ; but to read it, if they read anything; and to feel that Shakspeare was with them substantially as well as spiritually;-that they had him with them under their arm. There is another thought connected with his presence, which may render the Londoner's walk the more interesting. Shakspeare had neither the vanity which induces a man to be disgusted with what everybody can enjoy; nor, on the other hand, the involuntary self-degradation which renders us incapable of enjoying what is abased by our own familiarity of acquaintanceship. About the metropolis, therefore, there is perhaps not a single rural spot, any more than about Stratford-upon-Avon, which he has not himself enjoyed. The south side of London was the one nearest his theatre. Hyde Park was then, as it is now, one of the fashionable promenades. Richmond also was in high pride of estimation. At Greenwich Elizabeth held her court, and walked abroad amid the gallant service of the Sydneys and Raleighs. And Hampstead and Highgate, with the country about them, were, as they have been ever since, the favourite resort of the lovers of natural productions. Nay, without repeating what we said in a former number about the Mermaid in Cornhill, the Devil Tavern in Fleet-street, the Boar's Head in Eastcheap, and other town associations with Shakspeare, the reader who cannot get out of London on his birth-day, and who has the luck to be hard at work in Chancery-lane or the Borough, may be pretty certain that Shakspeare has admired the fields and the May flowers there; for the fields were close to the latter, perhaps came up to the very walls of the theatre; and the suburban mansion and gardens of his friend Lord Southampton occupied the spot now called Southamptonbuildings. It was really a country neighbourhood. The Old Bourne (Holborn) ran by with a bridge over it ; and Gray's Inn was an Academic bower in the fields. The dinner does not much signify. The sparest or the most abundant will suit the various fortunes of the great poet; only it will be as well for those who can afford wine, to pledge Falstaff in a cup of “sherris sack,” which seems to have been a sort of sherry negus. After dinner Shakspeare's volumes will come well on the table; lying among the dessert like laurels, where there is one, and supplying it where there is not. Instead of songs, the persons present may be called upon for scenes. But no stress need be laid on this proposition, if they do not like to read out aloud. The pleasure of the day should be as much at liberty as possible; and if the company prefer conversation, it will not be very easy for them to touch upon any subject which Shakspeare shall not have touched upon also. If the enthusiasm is in high taste, the ladies should be crowned with violets, which (next to the roses of their lips) seem to have been his favourite flower. After tea should come singing and music, especially the songs which Arne set from his plays, and the ballad of Thou soft-slotring Aron. If an engraving or bust of him could occupy the principal place in the room, it would look like the “present deity” of the occasion; and we have known a very pleasant effect produced by everybody's bringing some quotation applicable to him from his works, and laying it before his image, to be read in the course of the evening.
AMong the pieces printed at the end of Chaucer's works, and attributed to him, is a translation, under this title, of a poem of the celebrated Alain Chartier, secretary to Charles the Sixth and Seventh. It was the title which suggested to a friend the verses at the end of our present Number". We wish Alain could have seen them. He would have found a Troubadour air for them, and sung them to La Belle Dame Agnes Sorel, who was, however, not Sans Mercy. The union of the imaginative and the real is very striking throughout, particularly in the dream. The wild gentleness of the rest of the thoughts and of the music are alike old, and they are also alike young; for love and imagination are always young, let them bring with them what times and accompaniments they may. If we take real flesh and blood with us, we may throw ourselves, on the facile wings of our sympathy, into what age we please. It is only by trying to feel, as well as to fancy, through the medium of a costume, that writers become fleshless masks and cloaks —things like the trophies of the ancients, when they hung up the empty armour of an enemy.
LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCY.
Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
The sedge is wither'd from the lake,
Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight,
The squirrel's granary is full,
I see a lily on thy brow,
And on thy cheek a fading rose
I met a lady in the meads,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
I set her on my pacing steed,
For sideways would she lean and sing
I made a garland for her head,
She look'd at me as she did love,
She found me roots of relish sweet,
And sure in language strange she said,
She took me to her elfin grot,
And there I shut her wild sad eyes—
* The late Mr. Keats. This beautiful little effusion is reprinted in the Indicator, where it originally appeared, because it is not to be found in the collected works of that delightful poet.
AMong other comparative injuries which we are accustomed to do to the characters of things animate and inanimate, in order to gratify our human vanity, such as calling a rascal a dog (which is a great compliment), and saying that a tyrant makes a beast of himself (which it would be a very good thing, and a lift in the world, if he could), is a habit in which some persons indulge themselves, of calling insipid things and persons sticks. Such and such a one is said to write a stick; and such another is himself called a stick;-a poor stick, a mere stick, a stick of a fellow.
We protest against this injustice done to those useful and once flourishing sons of a good old stock. Take, for instance, a common cherry stick, which is one of the favourite sort. In the first place, it is a very pleasant substance to look at, the grain running round it in glossy and shadowy rings. Then it is of primaeval antiquity, handed down from scion to scion through the most flourishing of genealogical trees. In the third place, it is of Eastern origin; of a stock, which it is possible may have furnished Haroun Al Raschid with a djereed, or Mahomet with a camel-stick, or Xenophon in his famous retreat with fences, or Xerxes with tent-pins, or Alexander with a javelin, or Sardanapalus with tarts, or Solomon with a simile for his mistress' lips, or Jacob with a crook, or Methusalem with shadow, or Zoroaster with mathematical instruments, or the builders of Babel with scaffolding. Lastly, how do you know but that you may have eaten cherries off this very stick for it was once alive with sap, and rustling with foliage, and powdered with blossoms, and red and laughing with fruit. Where the leathern tassel now hangs, may have dangled a bunch of berries; and instead of the brass ferule poking in the
* “Caviare to the multitude.”—Hamlet. The signature was of Mr. Keats's own putting; a touching circumstance, when we call to mind the treatment he mct with, and consider how his memory has triumphed over it.
mud, the tip was growing into the air with its youngest green. The use of sticks in general is of the very greatest antiquity. It is impossible to conceive a state of society in which boughs should not be plucked from trees for some purpose of utility or amusement. Savages use clubs, hunters require lances, and shepherds their crooks. Then came the sceptre, which is originally nothing but a staff, or a lance, or a crook, distinguished from others. The Greek word for sceptre signifies also a walking-stick. A mace, however plumped up and disguised with gilding and a heavy crown, is only the same thing in the hands of an inferior ruler; and so are all other sticks used in office, from the baton of the Grand Constable of France down to the tipstaff of a constable in Bow-street. As the shepherd's dog is the origin of the gentlest whelp that lies on a hearth-cushion, and of the most pompous barker that jumps about a pair of greys, so the merest stick used by a modern Arcadian, when he is driving his flock to Leadenhall-market with a piece of candle in his hat, and No. 554 on his arm, is the first great parent and original of all authoritative staves, from the beadle's cane wherewith he terrifies charity-boys who eat bull's-eyes in church-time, up to the silver mace of the verger, to the wands of parishes and governors, the tasselled staff, wherewith the Band-Major so loftily picks out his measured way before the musicians, and which he holds up when they are to cease; to the White Staff of the Lord Treasurer; the court-officer emphatically called the Lord Gold Stick; the Bishop's Crosier (Pedum Episcopale), whereby he is supposed to pull back the feet of his straying flock; and the royal and imperial sceptre aforesaid, whose holders, formerly called Shepherds of the people (IIouéves Aadov), were seditiously said to fleece more than to protect. The Vaulting-Staff, a luxurious instrument of exercise, must have been used in times immemorial for passing streams and rough ground with. It is the ancestor of the staff with which Pilgrims travelled. The Staff and Quarter-Staff of the country Robin Hoods is a remnant of the war-club. So is the Irish Shilelah, which a friend has well defined to be “a stick with two butt-ends.” The originals of all these, that are not extant in our own country, may still be seen wherever there are nations uncivilised. The Negro Prince, who asked our countrymen what was said of him in Europe, was surrounded in state with a parcel of ragged fellows with shilelahs over their shoulders— Lord Old Sticks. But sticks have been great favourites with civilised as well as uncivilised nations; only the former have used them more for help and ornament. The Greeks were a sceptropherous people. Homer probably used a walking-stick because he was blind; but we have it on au
thority that Socrates did. On his first meeting with Xenophon, which was in a narrow passage, he barred up the way with his stick, and asked him, in his good-natured manner, where provisions were to be had. Xenophon having told him, he asked again, if he knew where virtue and wisdom were to be had ; and this reducing the young man to a nonplus, he said, “Follow me, and learn ;” which Xenophon did, and became the great man we have all heard of. The fatherly story of Agesilaus, who was caught amusing his little boy with riding on a stick, and asked his visitor whether he was a father, is too well known for repetition. There is an illustrious anecdote connected with our subject in Roman history. The highest compliment which his countrymen thought they could pay to the first Scipio, was to call him a walking-stick; for such is the signification of his name. It was given him for the filial zeal with which he used to help his old father about, serving his decrepit age instead of a staff. But the Romans were not remarkable for sentiment. What we hear in general of their sticks, is the thumpings which servants get in their plays; and above all, the famous rods which the lictors carried, and which being actual sticks, must have inflicted horrible dull bruises and malignant stripes. They were pretty things, it must be confessed, to carry before the chief magistrate just as if the King or the Lord Chancellor were to be preceded by a cat-o'-nine-tails. Sticks are not at all in such request with modern times as they were. Formerly, we suspect, most of the poorer ranks in England used to carry them, both on account of the prevalence of manly sports, and for security in travelling; for before the invention of posts and mailcoaches, a trip to Scotland or Northumberland was a thing to make a man write his will. As they came to be ornamented, fashion adopted them. The Cavaliers of Charles the First's time were a sticked race, as well as the apostolic divines and puritans, who appear to have carried staves, because they read of them anong the patriarchs. Charles the First, when at his trial, held out his stick to forbid the Attorney-General's proceeding. There is an interesting little story connected with a stick, which is related of Andrew Marvell's father, (worthy of such a son,) and which, as it is little known, we will repeat; though it respects the man more than the machine. He had been visited by a young lady, who in spite of a stormy evening persisted in returning across the Humber, because her family would be alarmed at her absence. The old gentleman, high-hearted and cheerful, after vainly trying to dissuade her from perils which he understood better than she, resolved in his gallantry to bear her company. He accordingly walked with her down to the shore, and getting into the boat, threw his stick to a friend, with
a request, in a lively tone of voice, that he would preserve it for a keepsake. He then cried out merrily “Ho-hoy for heaven " and put off with his visitor. They were drowned. As commerce increased, exotic sticks grew in request from the Indies. Hence the Bamboo, the Whanghee, the Jambee which makes such a genteel figure under Mr. Lilly's auspices in the Tatler; and our light modern cane, which the Sunday stroller buys at sixpence the piece, with a twist of it at the end for a handle. The physicians, till within the last few score of years, retained among other fopperies which they converted into gravities, the wig and goldheaded cane. The latter had been an indispensable sign-royal of fashion, and was turned to infinite purposes of accomplished gesticulation. One of the most courtly personages in the Rape of the Lock is
Sir Plume, of amber snuff-box justly vain, And the nice conduct of a clouded cane.
Sir Richard Steele, as we have before noticed, is reproached by a busy-body of those times for a habit of jerking his stick against the pavement as he walked. When swords were abolished by Act of Parliament, the tavernboys took to pinking each other, as injuriously as they could well manage, with their walkingsticks. Macklin the player was tried for his life for poking a man's eye out in this way. Perhaps this helped to bring the stick into disrepute ; for the use of it seems to have declined more and more, till it is now confined to old men, and a few among the younger. It is unsuitable to our money-getting mode of rushing hither and thither. Instead of pinking a man's ribs or so, or thrusting out his eye from an excess of the jovial, we break his heart with a bankruptcy. Canes became so common before the decline of the use of sticks, that whenever a man is beaten with a stick, let it be of what sort it may, it is still common to say that he has had a “caning :” which reminds us of an anecdote more agreeable than surprising ; though the patient doubtless thought the reverse. A gentleman, who was remarkable for the amenity of his manners, accompanied by a something which a bully might think it safe to presume upon, found himself compelled to address a person who did not know how to “translate his style,” in the following words, which were all delivered in the sweetest tone in the world, with an air of almost hushing gentility:-" Sir, I am extremely sorry—to be obliged to say,+ that you appear to have a very erroneous notion of the manners that become your situation in life;—and I am compelled with great reluctance, to add,” (here he became still softer and more delicate) “that, if you do not think fit, upon reflection, to alter this very extraordinary conduct towards a gentleman, I shall be under the necessity of—caning you.” The other