Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

The following letter from Sir Dudley Carleton displays in lively colours the manners of the court and of the sovereign :-"On St. John's day we had the marriage of Sir Philip Herbert and the Lady Susan, performed at Whitehall with all the honour could be done a great favourite. The court was great, and, for that day, put on the best bravery. The prince and the Duke of Holst led the bride to church : the queen followed her from thence. The king gave her; and she, in her tresses and trinkets, brided and bridled it so handsomely, and, indeed, became herself so well, that the king said, if he were unmarried, he would not give her, but keep her himself. The marriage dinner was kept in the great chamber itself, where the prince, and the Duke of Holst, and the great lords and ladies accompanied the bride. The ambassador of Venice was the only bidden guest of

[graphic][merged small]

strangers, and he had a place above the Duke of Holst, which the duke took not well. At night there was a mask in the hall, which, for conceit and fashion, was suitable to the occasion. There was no small loss that night of chains and jewels. The presents of plate and other things given by the noblemen were valued at 2,5001. ; but that which made it a good marriage was a gift of the king's of five hundred pounds land for the bride's jointure. They were lodged in the council chamber, where the king, in his shirt and nightgown, gave them a reveille matin before they were up. No ceremony was omitted of bridecakes, points, garters, and gloves, which have been ever since the livery of the court."

Revels and masks at court were now exhibited continually, and served to divert the king twice a week in the intervals of hunting. The composition of these fanciful pieces was a task frequently imposed upon the powers of Jonson. The twelfth-night mask, composed by him on the occasion of Sir Philip Herbert's marriage, is entitled, “The Mask of Blackness.” In compliance with the very

poorer classes.

vulgar tas te of her Majesty, he was obliged to introduce into it twelve Æthiopian nymphs, į laughters of the Niger, who make a voyage to Great Britain in search of a wash to whiten their complexions. The parts of these negresses, who do nothing but dance , were sustained by the queen and the other ladies, with blackened faces; and the first scene displayed them seated in an enormous shell of mother-of-pearl. There wa 3 a great engine at the lower end of the room, which had motion, and in it were the images of sea-horses, with other terrible fishes, which were ridden by Moors. The indecorum was, that there was all fish and no water. The night's work was corrcluded with a banquet in the great chamber, which was so furiously assaulted, that down went tables and trestles before one bit was touched! Surely such scer ies were not vastly superior to the May games (of which our artist has given so v excellent an illustration) then in vogue among

the If the: Puritans, who, it is well known, were inveterate enemies of all sports and gams:8, were especially inveterate against the hobby-horse, the people, however, clung to him with wonderful pertinacity; and it is most probably for this reason that when an individual cherishes a folly which he is unwilling to give up it is called his hobby-horse. The hobby-horse was formerly one of the most important persons belonging to the morris-dance. Many tricks were expected of the dancer who acted the hobby-horse, and some of a juggling nature-pretending to stick dag gers in his nose (perhaps a false one), &c.

The hob by-horse required a person of considerable skill to manage him, though his body was only of wicker-work, and his head and neck of pasteboard; the figure of the horse being fastened round the waist of a man, his own legs going through the body of the horse, and enabling him to walk, although they were concealed b y a long foot-cloth.

Another thing to be noted at this date is the introduction of female actors (though these were only foreigners) on to the stage. Coryal, describing the theatres of Venice in 1608, writes, “I observed certain things that I never saw before, for I saw woi nen act.” Prynne, in his “ Histrio-Matrix" (1633), after denouncing women ac cors in the most furious terms, speaks of them as recently introduced upon the English stage, as they have now there female players in Italy and other foreign p: ırts; and so they had such French women actors in a play not long since personate d in Blackfriars' playhouse, to which there was great resort." There can, ther efore, be no reasonable doubt but that in Shakspeare's time the parts of women 1rere, with these marked exceptions, personated by men and boys, and that act: :esses were not universally admitted to the stage in English theatres till after the Restoration.

Spea king of women, it may be well to note that, in the sixteenth century, ladies ca rried their pockets in front of their stays, instead of allowing them to hang on, the side, as in the present day.

"Even in the milk-white bogom of thy love" did she carry her letters, and the matters she most valued. And in " IIamlet” we have th a same allusion

"These to lier excellent white bosom." The hair was also considered so great an ornament, and so essential to the success of a bear ity in these days, that, if we may believe Stubbes, children having fair hair were ent iced into secret places, and robbed of all their locks.“ If curling and laying out their own natural hair were all," continues this same writer,

(which is impious, and at no hand lawful; being, as it is, an ensign of pride, and the stem of wantonness to all that behold it) it were the less matter ; but the y are not

[graphic][merged small]

simply content with their own hair, but buy other hair, either of horse B, mares, or any other strange beast, dyeing it of what colour they list themselv es. And if there be any poor women (as now and then we see God doth bless them with beauty as well as the rich) that have fair hair, these nice dames will not rest till they have bought it."

Women also wore mufflers in those days—marvellously ancomfortable bandages, wrapped across the lower portions of the face; and so universal was the custom,

[graphic][merged small]

that,, by a Scotch statute of 1457, it was enacted that “Da woman cun to kirk nor inucat with her face mussaled, or so covered that scho may not be kend." Nevertheless, the Scottish ladies continued muzzled during three reigns.

Although, in the course of these papers, we have frequently alluded to beds

their hangings of tapestry and velvet—the gorgeous movables handed down by generation to generation-yet we are tempted to refer again to the subject, to mention cradles and truckle-beds.

The former are of high antiquity. One of the oldest of which we have any representation is one belonging to the time of Henry V. It is of wood ; square in shape, and hung low, swinging by links of iron between two posts, surmounted by birds for ornaments. Another cradle, equally well known to antiquaries, and far more elegant in design, is one formerly used by King James himself.

The truckle-bed was a small bed placed by the side of the large, or, as it was called, the "standing bed;" the latter being used by the master ; and the former,

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

which, during the day, could run under it, being occupied by his servant. There are references to these beds both in “Romeo and Juliet,” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor." We suppose that from this custom of the favourite dependant sleeping in his master's room grew the office of “Gentlemen of the Bedchamber.” Chamberlayne says that, in 1726, they numbered eleven, and that each of these gentlemen in his turn waits one week in the king's bedchamber, there to lie by the king, on a pallet-bed, all night; and, in the absence of the groom of the stole, to supply his place. Little wonder that crowned heads lie so uneasily when neither day nor night brings seclusion! It might have been very impolitic of James, as a king, sending his courtiers back from his court to the country; but, as a man, surely he was more than justified ; one of the crowning curses of civilisation being that unrest of spirit which seizes upon to disturb, if not destroy, the unhappy victim of over-refinement.

M. S. R.

THE MARCHIONESS OF AUREBONNE.

The concise and positive declaration of Dr. Assandri would, at any other time, bave overwhelmed the marchioness with delight; but there was now something in the doctor's voice which induced her to think that he had not asked to speak to her merely to give her this consolation. She remained silent, and he continued

“Besides this young man--who imagines himself to be condemned, but who will live—is another person, unsuspicious of the danger she runs, and the sorrow by which she is menacedone whom I see daily declining beneath my eyes. Does your ladyship know to whom I allude?”

“Susan," murmured the marchioness.

“Yes, Susan-my only child, as Raoul is your only child !-my sole treasure and affection, just as Raoul is all in all to you! Six months ago, Susan was tranquil and happy. You had only to look at her countenance to be assured of the innocence and serenity of her heart. But now all this has vanished-her happiness and calm are both destroyed, and for ever. Her pure heart struggles with this new feeling, and the contest is killing her. Perhaps your ladyship can explain why she thus suffers ?”

“ Because she loves Raoul," replied Madame d'Aurebonne, without a moment's hesitation.

“Ah, you know that, do you ?" resumed the doctor, gathering emotion as he went on. “Perhaps you also foresaw—desired—hoped that she would do so? Insane fool that I was not to have thought of it earlier ! For a short time the physician absorbed the father, and I only saw before me an unhappy woman imploring me to save her son. I told her what was true—that her son's imagination was more diseased than his body; that it was necessary he should get rid of his sinister forebodings by some all-engrossing amusement; and that if she succeeded in enabling him to pass his four-and-twentieth year, she need no longer tremble on his account, for he was safe. An amusement, did I say? Could there be one more pleasing, more delightful, than a flirtation with the daughter of this same doctor ?—both residing beneath the same roof, and, consequently, forced frequently into each other's society? What signified this child's peace and happiness ?—her misery might be the young nobleman's salvation! There needed no further pretext nor excuse. I am but a poor country practitioner ; but, believe me, to acquire the splendour of your ladyship's rank, or to obtain all your ladyship’s colossal fortune, I could not have been guilty of such a proceeding."

“But who has ever said,” replied Madame d'Aurebonne, " that this fortune and rank need be any obstacle between Susan and Raoul ?"

The marchioness, in uttering these words, looked so truthful, that the doctor felt abashed, and remained silent. Madame d'Aurebonne continued

“You must have but a poor opinion of me, if you, the kindest and the best of men, could have supposed me capable of such infamy. Your heart ought to have understood the feelings of mine. Did I not tell you, on the first day of our acquaintance, that for three-and-twenty years, ever since Raoul's birth, I have been a prey to the same thought, the same dread? I never cease seeing, between

« НазадПродовжити »