Зображення сторінки

operation. Again it failed; for an outstanding sprig ti Lotty's time, and so the effect was quite contrary to that desired by her friend. carriage stopped; and no sooner had it stopped than its door was flung open, and the steps were let down with uncommon rapidity by a footman in most decent black livery. The man's sombre figure struck Lotty immediately with an undefined terror.

“Who is dead ?" she cried, turning suddenly to Miss Dacre, without moving from her seat. “Who is dead ?"

“Nobody whom I know, dear Charlotte."

“Whose house is this?" was the poor girl's next exclamation, wildly addressed to the footman, who by this time had been joined by another, while a stout maid

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed]

servant appeared within the hall. Between them they could make no answer. It was Miss Dacre who replied, in a guilty voice, as she stepped to the path

"I have told you, my dear-your husband's."

But the deceit had begun to dawn on Lotty's mind; and, as it broke through the dreams in which it had been shrouded, it showed itself so monstrous and irresistible that it infatuated more than it affrighted her. She was like a child whose curiosity is greater than its horror, when she came from the carriage to look at this house. It was a great building, white, with something sedate to repulsiveness in its whole appearance, and with treacherous blind windows here and there, as if it took its prey while pretending to sleep. Manifestly, this was not a house for Mr. Grovelly to buy; and, after the first glance, Lotty had no doubt as to how it was tenanted

Adelaide saw that she had blundered, and, dropping all disguise, touched Mrs. Herbert's arm, saying, “ Come, Charlotte.” At the same moment, a highlypolished, bland gentleman appeared at her side.

“ Allow me to assist you, madam," said he.

This was the last moment of liberty, then. Lotty dropped down upon her knees, and, seizing Adelaide's gown in an agony of terror and supplication, she cried_" Oh, you cannot be so cruel. For my child's sake! for my child's sake !" Which happened to be exactly the worst form on which she could cast her appeal.

Miss Dacre was agitated indeed; but the only response she made was an endeavour to disengage Lotty's hands. Meanwhile, the highly-polished gentleman signalled to the attendants. Forward came a footman and the stout maid-servant; and so dexterous were they, that while Lotty still appealed to Adelaide, for baby's sake, with outstretched arms, she was borne into the hall. The door closed on her -it opened again almost immediately; but Lotty was no more to be seen.


QUEEN ELIZABETH. Art content to approach with reverence, and bow before the footstool of Majesty ? If not, O ribald reader, in this radical age, retire! For if, with an almost Eastern servility, the living bent low in her presence (age and infirmity alone excepting minister Burleigh from also following this fashion), surely it becomes us to offer to the memory of one of England's greatest monarchs all the remnants of reverence remaining to this irreverent age.

The only real difficulty that can possibly be felt in touching upon such a life, and the events of such a reign, is the overwhelming amount of material from which to gather a summary of the manners and customs of an age pregnant with importance to England (and through her to all the nations of the earth), and glorious with a galaxy of talent never yet surpassed, perhaps never again to be equalled, in the annals of this or of any other country.

Shades of Shakspeare, Spenser, and Baconmemories of Raleigh, Essex, and Leicester! familiar names of the departed—dead men? Never; "for such spirits never die!" Tilbury, Kenilworth, Southampton, rise in the old glory and assist us, while we humbly venture to tread classic ground, and endeavour to etch the people, their pomp, their poverty, and their pleasures, under the régime of Elizabeth.

“Advancing to the golden days of good Queen Bess, we feel as one that, after long wandering in the uncertain twilight of a subterraneous ruin, and guessing at the mutilated images and outworn inscriptions, steps at once into cheerful day, and hails familiar forms of living beauty. We hear our own language—we find ourselves among men of like passions as ourselves. The age of Cressy and Poitiersof Langland, Gower, and Chaucer-was the Soobhi Kazim of England - that premature and short-lived dawn which the fanciful Persian ascribes to the sun's peeping through a hole in Mount Caucasus, which but forebodes and typifies the real daybreak. Happier days have been before and since than the days of Elizabeth. Much as we owe to the men of her time, it was no time to make us murmur at that irrevocable decree, beyond the power of Jove to alter, which forbids the past to return. It was a time to think, to dream, to read of—not to live in. But

it is doubtful whether any period since the Flood has been so favourable to the development of the poetic imagination. It was the true age of chivalry. Chivalry never existed but in the imaginations of poets, and in the noble desires of men who aspired to realize the inventions of the poets. But chivalry was only one element in the orb of poetry. Religion had made every man think of himself-of himself, not only as a living, but as an immortal, being. Character, which, among the ancients, was ever deemed a defect-a falling away from the standard of abstract humanity-a theme of ridicule, the proper staff of satire and comedy, assumed a tragic dignity. It was seen that each man involves in his own peculiar nature a distinct ideal, and that the perfection of one is no more the perfection of another than the beauty of the lily is the beauty of the cedar.

“The splendid apparel, the metaphoric euphuism, the new-fangled oaths and elaborate gallantry of the young courtiers who bore their manors on their back, and wasted their sleepless wits to coin new compliments; the grave splendour, the crafty wisdom, the sententious speech, and politic piety of the sage statesman ; the precise, square-cut, taciturn regularity of the smooth-pated, velvetcapped citizen ; the wicked, bearded, huffing, hectoring, basket-bilted adventurer; the traveller with his foreign fantasies and unheard-of wonders—best believed when he was lying, and often discredited when he told the truth; the country gentleman, who had newly stepped into the place of a thinned and impoverished baronage; the idolized, but not yet enfranchised, females, in whose wardrobe was no middle state between velvet and homespun woollen-in whose education no mean, between the erudition of a divine, and the ignorance of a household drudger, either calculated to govern a kingdom, or simply fit to suckle fools and chronicle small beer;' these and a hundred antics beside—not forgetting the alllicensed fool, that excellent substitute for a free press—made the world a mask of all professions—a gay and gorgeous procession of fancy costume.

“The sex and character of Elizabeth herself was no weak ingredient in the poetic spirit of the time. Loyalty and gallantry blended in the adoration paid her, and the supremacy which she claimed and exercised over the Church invested her regality with a sacred unction that pertained not to feudal sovereigns. It is scarce too much to say that the Virgin Queen appropriated the Catholic honour of the Virgin Mary. She was as great as Diana of the Ephesians. The moon shone but to furnish a type of her bright and stainless maidenhood. To magnify her greatness, the humility of courtly adulation merged in the ecstacies of Platonic love. She was charming by indefeasible right-a jure divino beauty. Her fascinations multiplied with her wrinkles, and her admirers might have anticipated the conceit of Cowley

"The antiperistasis of age

More inflamed their amorous age.' “Neither Zeuxis nor Praxiteles was called from the dead to mar her perfections Poetry was the only art that flourished in the Virgin reign. Her effigies are, 1 believe, pretty numerous, varying in ugliness ; none that I have seen even handsome-prettiness, of course, is out of the question. She was fond of finery, but had no taste in dress. Her ruff is downright odious, and the liberal exposure of her neck and bosom anything but alluring. One miniature of Elizabeth I have seen, which, though not beautiful, is profoundly interesting : it presents her as she was in the days of her danger and captivity, when the same wily policy, keeping


its path, even while it seemed to swerve, was needful to preserve her life, that afterwards kept her firm on a throne. It bears the strongest marks of authenticity, if to be exactly what a learned spirit would fancy Elizabeth-young, a prisoner, and in peril—be evidence of true portraiture. There is pride, not aping humility, but wearing it as a well-beseeming habit: there is passion, strongly controlled by the will, but not extinct-neither dead nor sleeping, but watchful and silent; brows sternly sustaining a weight of care, after which a crown could be but light; in short, a manly intellect allied with female craft;"* and such was Elizabeth.

We have not said very much about the servants of olden times, except by a few odd references here and there; so suppose we just look into their position and duties at the date now under consideration. Firstly, by a rule of Queen Mary, they might wear no silk upon either hat or bonnet, girdle or hose. Secondly, a log was all that was allowed them for a pillow; and when they had a sheet above them it was well; for seldom had they any under their bodies to keep off the pricking straws that ran oft through the canvas and rased their hardened hides !

In the “ Orders for Household Servants," first framed by John Harryngton in 1566, certain fines were levied for the servants' faults. Absence from morning or evening prayer, fine, 2d.; for every oath sworn, 2d. ; leaving a door open which he found shut, id. None of the men to be in bed from Lady-day to Michaelmas after six in the morning, nor out of bed after ten at night; nor, from Michaelmas till Lady-day, in bed after seven in the morning, nor out after nine at night, or fine, 2d.

Among the rest of the conditions are, that whoever broke a glass should pay for, it out of his wages; or, if not known who broke it, the butler should pay for it, or be fined 1s. The table was to be covered half-an-hour before eleven at dinner, and six at supper, or fine, 2d. Any man striking another should lose his service; or if reviling, threatening, or provoking another, he should be fined 1s. Slovenliness in clothes was fined 1d, The court gate was to be shut, and not opened during any meal time, or the porter should be fined 1d. Stairs should be cleaned on Friday, or fine, 3d. And all fines should be paid each quarter-day out of the wages, and bestowed on the poor or other godly use.

A velvet jacket, with a gold chain over it, was the distinguishing costume of the old English steward, and in his jaunty cap a flying feather. Upon tombs they are sometimes, however, represented with a purse hanging before them, though the duties and office of the purse-bearer were very distinct from those of the stewards.

Grooms were originally kept to assist their masters in mounting their horses, before the invention of stirrups rendered such aid unnecessary. Most probably our readers have heard of “running footmen," or "trotters," as they were styled ; and, as early as 1218, it was said, “Let every one be content with a horse and a trotter," Froissart adding that, even in his day, " no man-at-arms, however well mounted, could overtake them."

The servants of the good old times did not escape the satirist of those ages, you may be sure ; and, if you care to listen, we will sing you a song of their misdeeds, as recorded by Barclay in his “Ship of Fools,” who makes the caitiffs to say

* Hartley Coleridge.

“Then shall the lord perceive the great deceit
Of his wasteful servants, and their false

But his perceiving then is all too late :

So it appeareth that great collusion
Cometh unto many, and extreme con-

By linurue servants, as cooks and butlers,
And by all other household officers.

"* Eat we and drink we, therefore, without all

With revel without measure, as long as we

It is a royal thing thus lustily to fare,

While others meal, thus revel we away:

Spare not the pot, another shall it pay. When that is done, spare not for more to call :

He merely sleeps, the which shall pay for all.' " When master and mistress in bed are to rest; The boards are spread—the doors open

each oneThen fares the cook and butler of the best ;

Either both together, or each of them alone.

With wine and ale, till all the best be gone. By gallons and by poules, they spend with

out care, That which their lord for his own mouth did

spare. “They are not content among themselves to

Their master's goods in such-like gluttony, But also for other gluttons they do send, And strange drunkards, to help out their

villany; By whose help they may the vessels make

dry. And he that hath whey to drink at each word,

Among these caitiffs is worshipped as a lord. " But while the servants' false riot thus ensue, Wasting their master's good and whole

The master thinks his servants good and true;
But if it fortune after, by some ehance,
That the master have a desire, or plea-

Of his best drink with his lovers to have

some, The empty vessel shall yield nought but


“ This company, and band ungracious,

Are with no pity moved, nor yet care.
They waste and eat their master out of

Devouring his goods, till he be poor and

bare; And with what meat soever the lord shall

fare, If it be in the kitchen, or it come to the hall, The cook and scullion must taste it first of


" In every dish these caitiffs hare their hands,

Gaping as it were dogges for a bone;
When Nature is content, few of them under-

Insomnch as I trow, of them is none
That die for age, but by gluttony each one!

“And to you scrvants I turn my pen again,

Eshorting you to your masters to be true, And not thus to spend and waste his goods

in vain, And so to hard need him thereby to

Lewd fellowship see that ye do eschew:

Beware of riot, be content with your degree;
For who that 'gainst his master is untrue,
In his own labour is seldom seen to thrive."

And yet, in spite of all these hard sayings, these were royal times for servants, and they could not have been very bad as a body when the custom was so prevalent as it then was, of making munificent presents to retainers.

One Antony Kelly, a "famous philosopher" of Elizabeth's time, it is well known, gave away in gold-wire rings (or rings twisted with three gold wires), at the marriage of one of his maid-servants, to the value of 4,0001. Well may the chronicler add that “Master Kelly was openly profuse beyond the modest limits of a sober philosopher.” The practice of making New Year's gifts to servants was also very general ; and it is almost superfluous to refer to the custom of keeping dwarfs and fools in great houses for the purpose of amusing their masters; and though, perhaps, at first sight such a custom may seem wholly devoid of rationality, yet a little reflection will not fail to point out how effectually unpleasant truths could be conveyed by the lips of such persons; and in how many cases their hints and quiddities conveyed wholesome truths which none of the courtiers could, with any amount of safety, either to their persons or their property, venture to impart.

As, during Elizabeth's reign, the usual routine of a young gentlewoman's education was “to read and write, to play upon the virginal, lute, and cittern, and to read pricksong at first sight," it may be as well to show you what the first-named instrument was like, especially as it was apparently the first of all the

« НазадПродовжити »