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under your own immediate training. They number, methinks, something under the score we named. Will it please you to leave them here under command of your esquire yonder? Than him, though he looks somewhat dreamily to-day, I wot we have no starker man-at-arms." "Your pleasure is mine," the other replied, in his curt, decisive
"I will give instant orders to that effect."
So the two parted; Breckenridge going straight to the presencechamber on the first floor of the keep, where the old castellan awaited him.
"Fair lord "- the Englishman said-"it is my desire to put no more than needful constraint on yourself or your household, while I perform my own duty. I purpose to leave here a certain number of my spears till I pass by again, which I trust will be on the fourth day at furthest. Till then, you shall pledge me your knightly word to countenance no attempt at recoverance from within, and allow none, either by signal or otherwise, to solicit rescue from without: also, your said retainers shall abide unarmed within their lodging; whilst you, and the noble demoiselles, inhabit your own chambers in the upper part of this same keep. There is no inlet or outlet-so I opine-save through the door at yon stairhead, and of that ye may hold the key; and ye shall have tendance from your handmaidens, and any two of your servitors it may please you to choose. I, on my part, will engage-if, on my return hither, I am minded to hold this castle-to see you convoyed to some near place of safety in French hand, or I will leave you at peace again here. And, whichever befall, if your ransoms are not paid down instantly, I will accept your parole for their discharge. Have I said well ?"
A gleam of pleasure lighted up the baron's worn face.
"Right well and mercifully"-he answered. "To all that your knighthood has required I will cheerfully pledge myself; and, should any vassal of mine practice treachery, he shall swing on yonder justiceoak so soon as I can deal with mine own again. And, gentle sir, you should not lack my daughters' thanks besides mine own: but the younger is still something bewildered with her fright; and the elder, since she donned mourning for her betrothed, will come into no stranger's company."
So, with many courteous words and the emptying a cup of Gascon wine, the two parted in great amity; and, after man and horse had been moderately refreshed, and orders given for the safe custody of the prisoners, Breckenridge's trumpets sounded the route; and the narrow line of spears wound down the hillside, passing eastward through the defile.
The Secret Name.
THERE is a maiden whom I know,
The home I love so well
Her name ?-ah! that I'll never tell
She knows not that I love her face,
The wind ne'er passed a sweeter place,
Wave-like adown her shoulders rolled.
I see her in the garden walk,
And watch each step she takes; I'd give the world to hear her talk,
For love rich music makes
Like tones of lutes on moonlit lakes!
I think betimes I hear her sing,
That tells me of some holy thing,
At evening when the stars are faint!
I see her 'mong the roses hide,
For I could whisper by her side,
And all love's stainless beauties see!
Her face is calm, her eyes are brown,
Like drops of rain a blossom wears!
I'd be the band that clasps her waist,
The mirror by her beauty graced,
The path her feet have prest,
The thing where most her glances rest.
But I must wait and linger near
This home beside a dell;
I may not ever enter there,
Win her I love so well,
Whose name I'll never, never tell.
S. H. BRADBURY (" Quallon.")
Miseries of Dramatic Authorship.
BY A DRAMATIC AUTHOR.
THERE is no kind of literary fame which is so dazzling in the eyes of the aspirant as that which throws a halo of (lime) light upon the name of the "Popular Dramatic Author." The young scribbler of a heavy or serious turn almost invariably begins by trying his unfledged quill on a tragedy; the comically-inclined youth as invariably begins by addressing himself to the composition of a farce. The fascination which the theatre exercises upon every kind and quality of mind is almost phenomenal-phenomenal, because there is nothing so unreal as the theatre, nothing, in literature, so unnatural as a play.
When I say that there is nothing in literature so unnatural as a play, I have in view such artificialities as soliloquys and asides. Man is not born to deliver soliloquys, and make aside speeches; there is nothing in his nature which disposes him to that odd manner of expressing his thoughts, and yet there is nothing which he so readily accepts and adopts. This seems to prove that there is in every human being an innate love for the drama, which blinds him to all the defects and deformities of the idol he adores. There are, as is well known, many persons who object to the drama, and to theatres, but I venture to assert that no one naturally entertains that objection. The ingenuus puer always loves a play, and he never hates it until some misguided person teaches him to do so. I am disposed to believe, however, that in very few instances is the liking for, or the interest in, the drama ever wholly eradicated. I have known many stern objectors to the theatres who were always ready to listen to theatrical talk with the tail of their ears. Over and over again I have been catechized by pious clergymen, who were never in a theatre in their lives, with regard to actors, and actresses, and plays, and green-room doings. I have seen the faces of theatre-abhorring, tract-distributing old ladies involuntarily brighten at the recital of some theatrical triumph. I have known them gradually melt so far as to ask about a pretty actress, and I have seen in their eyes a wistful desire to hear and know more. It requires very little indeed to reconcile a pious person to the theatre. How many good chapel-going mothers have been reconciled to the sons whom they discarded for going on the stage, when the said sons returned from a triumph to pour golden sovereigns into their
laps? I knew a dramatic author who turned preacher. He preached that the doors of the theatre were the gates of hell; but he looked very sharply after his fees at the Dramatic Authors' Society.
When the declared opponents of the drama are unable, in the midst of their furious denunciations, wholly to conquer their hankering for the delights of the stage, it is little wonder that the love which those, who have no scruples, entertain for it, should so often amount to a passion. I have heard it said, and I believe it to be true, that some of our most eminent writers of romances and poems went to their graves envious and dissatisfied because they had never been able to write a successful play. To go as far back as possible, and to avoid the mention of present company, Milton was not content until he had written plays; and John Home, reverend and Presbyterian, risked his Geneva gown to taste the sweets of theatrical applause.
This predisposition towards dramatic literature is easily accounted for. To say nothing of the natural inclination of youth to indulge in the most lofty aspirations, and to essay that which is most difficult, there is, first of all, the desire to inscribe one's name on the same scroll with Shakespeare, even if it should be at the very bottom of the parchment. Then there is the popular belief, which stands fast amidst the ruin of all other creeds, that the world behind the scenes, to which the dramatic author is admitted, is a world of ideal beauty and delight-a wit's Paradise. Further, the aspirant has delicious visions of secing his name in play-bills and theatrical annals, of being called before the curtain to receive the applause of delighted thousands-of his portrait, perhaps, in the print-shop windows. Last, and most cogent of allsuccessful dramatic writing, successful even in the lowest and least degree, is the shortest road to fame. While other writers are toiling up the weary ascent with poems, or novels, or essays in their pockets, the fortunate youth who manages to squeeze through the stage-door with a farce in his hand, finds himself, at one bound, more than half way up Parnassus.
I daresay it is the thought of this that, on occasions, imparts fury to the pen of the outraged critic, condemned to tread the paths of obscurity. When I consider what aged, able, and unrequited critics have to endure in this way, I am only surprised that they are as amiable and indulgent as we find them. But it just shows how much we all love the drama, how much we respect it, that we are willing to glorify the author of even a piece of dramatic nonsense, translated from the French. Jest any one should question my statement, that the
shortest cut to literary fame is through the stage-door, let me give an illustration. Supposing that the unknown Jones were to write and print a volume of tolerably good poems, how many reviewers would trouble themselves to read them, and give an opinion upon them? Supposing the unknown Jones were to publish a tolerably good novel -say a very good novel-how long would it be before Jones's talent as a novelist would meet with due recognition? Weeks, months, years perhaps Jones the novelist would never be recognized. But let Jones write a farce-let him display his genius by making a number of dramatis persone knock each other into bandboxes, and break trayfuls of cups and saucers, and, lo and behold! the name of Jones is blazing next morning in every newspaper of the day. The labours of the poet and the novelist can wait for an indefinite period; but Jones the dramatic author, the adapter of a farce, must be attended to at once. Critics must sit up half the night to chronicle the exquisite humour of his bandboxes, and cups, and saucers.
Happy man, Jones. So thinks the play-going public; so, with envy, malice, and all uncharitableness towards Jones, think the army of disappointed aspirants for dramatic honours who have not chanced to succeed in squeezing themselves through the stage-door. Happy, indeed! How true it is that every man is apt to consider his neighbour's estate better than his own. Little does Jones think, in the first flush of his little triumph, that he is entering on a career of vexation and misery; that while he is weaving for himself a crown of laurels, he is at the same time stuffing his pillow with thorns.
Dramatic success is much valued, much envied. For this reason your literary companions never forgive you for getting a piece produced, and making a success on the stage. Envy and malice accumulate at every step of your career, and unless morally you have, as it were, the hide of a rhinoceros, your life will be made a torment to you. Walk in humble literary ways; write reports, reviews, leading articles, essays, any modest anonymous work of that kind, and you will be the best fellow and the cleverest fellow in the world with all your associates; but once let your name appear in a play-bill, and they hate you and envy you on the instant. You are no longer a good fellow, no longer a clever fellow.
A dramatic author once asked me to take a prominent part in bearding a manager of a theatre. His reason for selecting me was given thus:---"I am a dramatic author, and may some time or other have dealings with him, but you are never likely to write for the stage."