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clack of the hopper, I shall also miss the clatter of my stepdame's tongue: mayhap I shall sleep the sounder. Marry, if her tongue were all-but this morning I had taste of her five fingers, and my cheek is red-hot yet. I care not to take hard blows without chance of paying them back in kind."
"Ay, and is it so ?" Dynevor said, with his hard laugh, so like his father's; in which there was much of gibe, and little of mirth. "Light cause, methinks, to make a man leave hearth and home behind: yet doth a gad-fly chafe a war-horse quicker than a sore wound. I will not cross thy purpose, specially as thou art of full age, and free of aught save vassal's service; come near, and take the year's wage whereof I spoke. If thou bearest thyself as starkly under shield as thou hast done at the wrestling and cudgel-play, the King hath gained a stout archer, though I lose a trusty liegeman.”
When the silver marks had been counted out in due tale, and Lanyon had fallen back into his place again, Sir Simon turned, and beckoned to Ralph Fitzwarenne. As the youth drew near, and bent one knee, Dynevor's dark face softened more than, surely, it had ever done since the days of his first wooing; and he was fain to clear his throat twice or thrice, before he could speak steadily.
"I bid thee farewell in all kindness; and do thou think of thy father as little hardly as may be in the after-time. If the blessing of a right sinful man may avail thee, thou hast it freely: counsel I have none to give. I know thee to be honest; and to one born of our blood there is no need to say-- Be bold!' I say only-Be patient, and prosper! In the name of the most Holy Trinity, and of St. Giles, our patron saint, so mote it be!"
Ralph Fitzwarenne laid his lips on his father's hand, scarcely with a son's devotion, but rather like a vassal paying homage to his liege lord. As he rose to his feet, there was a mist over his own eyes, that for a second or two made the figures in the body of the hall look blurred and dim: yet in his bearing there was never a sign of weakness or regret as he strode swiftly towards the great doorway; looking neither to the right hand nor the left, and changing with none either word or sign. Close to his shoulder, just as silently, followed Will Lanyon. Not a few, as the pair passed through their midst, wished them "God-speed" with bated breath; but neither squire nor servitor, vassal nor villein, presumed to stir from his place till, some minutes later, Sir Simon Dynevor seemed to wake from a reverie, and with a wave of his hand gave them licence to depart.
Is the time when yellow lilies shake
When the cuckoo calls in the heart o' the heat,
When the dog-star foams and the shade is sweet; Where cool and fresh the river ran,
I sat by the side of Charmian,
And heard no sound from the world of man.
All was so sweet and still that day!
Warm and sweet the scented shade
But to ease our hearts and set thought free,
We pluckt the flowers of a red rose-tree,
And leaf by leaf, we threw them, sweet,
Into the river at our feet,
And in an indolent delight
Watch'd them glide onward, out of sight.
Oh, had I spoken boldly then,
How might my love have gather'd thee!
But I had left the world of men,
And sitting yonder, dreamilie,
Seeking no gift of word or kiss,
Watching them glimmer down the stream,
Shared the dim ecstasy of mine!
Then, while we linger'd, cold and grey
Full of a sweet indifference!
I missed the spell-I watch'd it break,-
In a less golden hour I spake,
And did not win thee, Charmian!
For wearily we turned away
And from thy heart the sweetness fled
But to me that hour is sweeter far
Than the world and all its treasures are:
Still to sit on, so close to thee,
Nor break the spell by word or look,
And hear no sound from the world of man!
Dramatic Critics Criticised.
BY JOHN HOLLINGSHEAD.
DRAMATIC criticism is one of those arts that have no recognized position and no recognized principles, but plenty of too easily recognized professors. They swarm into every theatre, and are as well known as the actors or the box-keepers. They pretend that the power of preserving the anonymous would materially add to their independence of judgment, but neither they nor their employers take the slightest trouble to secure this privacy. A few beggarly pounds or shillings are allowed to stand between the critic and that which he says would aid him in doing his duty to the public. The "free-list," suspended at times, as far as regards bonnet-builders, dock officials, linendrapers' assistants, publicans, and that very large parish of individuals who come under the general description of "professionals," is never suspended, as far as the public press is concerned. Anything that bears the shape and impress of a newspaper order, any ragged reporter or printingoffice labourer who represents, or is supposed to represent, a newspaper, however obscure, is admitted to all theatres and places of public amusement at all times and all seasons. A dead newspaper is treated with more respect and fear than a live public. There is no written contract in dealings of this sort, but there is an implied understanding. The manager, by these courtesies, hopes to conciliate the paper, and in some cases does conciliate it, while the critic feels the influence of transactions entirely beyond his control. He is kind and gentle to the manager, whatever he may feel it his duty to be to the actors and authors. The manager is always spirited and enterprising. He is spirited and enterprising when he accepts a thoroughly bad piece and decorates it with splendid scenery, and he can only be spirited and enterprising when he has the judgment to select a good piece on which to lavish his capital. The worst of always pitching the key-note of praise too high, is that it makes it difficult to increase the tone when required. A manager is entitled to praise if he produces a good drama, and deserves strong blame if he produces a bad one. It is a lame excuse for him to urge, or have urged for him, that he engaged the reputed best author in the market at a fair market-price, and “left it to him." This is not the act of a manager, but of a fool; of a man whose greatest successes must necessarily be "flukes." It is true that
most so-called managers are men of this stamp, who hold scarce properties at the sides of our principal London thoroughfares, and whose whole art of management is to wait for "something to turn up." The critics, most of them, know this, but they never say it. When they want to abuse anybody, they scold the supernumeraries. The supernumeraries expect it, and the public, reading the reproof, think their arbiters of taste are faithful. Poor, meek, patient, stupid public, they are easily imposed upon! They see a close column of type, and think they are well served; the managers see it also, and are satisfied. In nine cases out of ten it is nothing but a wordy narrative of the plot of the play-a well-known device of critics when they wish to conceal their thoughts.
There is a very prevalent notion, fostered by many journals which abuse the tone and style of contemporary dramatic criticism, that nearly all the critics on the metropolitan press are playwrights, whose want of independence is mainly due to the dealings they have with managers. This is a mistake, and, more, it is an injustice. With two or three exceptions, our dramatic critics are men who never write plays for the stage, or for the pigeon-holes of a manager's desk. They enter into no competition with the authors they are called upon to criticise; and if their judgment is biassed in any way, it is by personal more than by pecuniary influences. Mr. Dumphie, the dramatic critic of the Morning Post is not a playwright, and Mr. Desmond Ryan, who represents the Standard and Herald, and is a musical as well as a dramatic critic, never wrote a drama or an operetta. Mr. E. L. Blanchard, of the Daily Telegraph, supplies pantomimes very regularly to Drury Lane theatre, but does no other dramatic work. Mr. F. G. Tomlins, who represents the Morning Advertiser, wrote a tragedy called "Garcia, or the Noble Error," many years ago, but has never repeated the error; and Mr. J. Hollingshead, who writes the dramatic notices for the Daily News, is the author of one farce produced in 1858, and has never written another. The Pall Mall Gazette is represented by Mr. G. H. Lewes, and the Globe by Dr. Granville, both unconnected with stage writing. The principal critics on the London daily press who are active dramatic authors are Mr. John Oxenford, of The Times, and Mr. Leicester Buckingham, of the Morning Star. Mr. Oxenford is an accomplished author and adapter, whose writings would be accepted and paid for at the market-price, even if he had no connection with The Times; and Mr. Buckingham's connection with the Star can have very little effect upon managers.* As one of Mr. Webster's chief toadies, he * This was written and published before Mr. Buckingham's death.