Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

a prayer to Venus, (for I reverence the gods and goddesses of Greece, young man,) the tutelar deity of beauty, to inspire and aid me. 'Was it reality, or imagination? I felt inyself transported once more to the temple, and there the sea-born Venus herself appeared before me, in the form of Sratonice, not in the cumbrous splendour of her bridal robes, but clad only in her divinity, as just risen from the wave. I seized iny pencil, and, with a touch of lightning, sketched the picture which is now before you. In a few days my work was finished. I loved it with the piety of a mortal towards the kindest daughter of Olympus, and the predilection of a father for the offspring of his old age. Anxious to produce it to the admiring eyes of Greece, I hastened to the nearest port, and went on board a vessel bound for Corinth. The weather was de. lightful, and the breeze fair. But after an hour passed upon the water, the sun having nearly reached the boundary of the west, a small black cloud obscured a portion of his orb. The sailors observed it with ominous silence. The cloud gradually expanded, until in a short time its size became prodigious, and involved the world in darkness. The land-wind, at the same time, blew a tremendous gale—all became terror and confusion. The thunder pealed above our heads. During a trasient flash I seized and Clasped my picture to my bosom, as a mother would clasp her child in a deluge or a conflagration. The sailors observed me: superstition and the presence of death are the most infatuated and relent: less counsellors. A cry ran through the ship that the old man and his mysterious packet had brought upon them the vengeance of the gods. They seized me, and had just dragged me to the verge of the vessel, to be flung into the waters, when suddenly, a happy inspiration—"Hold !" said I, “ wait for the next flash-it will be but a moment, and your lives are saved.” 'They released me. I in- . stantly unrolled my picture, which was painted on the flexible canvass of Egypt, folded into a small compass. A propitious flash came, and revealed the beauteous image to their

eyes.

“Behold," said I, “it is the celestial daughter of the waves-it is Venus, who can save you from the storm." The crew and passengers all dropped down in wonder and adoration, with their faces on the ship's deck. On a sudden the Goddess heard their prayers, the wind abated of its fury, the black cloud that curtained Heaven from our sight was rent asunder, and the twin children of Leda shone forth with hope and joy to mariners. We landed at Corinth with a feeling of happiness, which may be easily conceived. On the morning of the next day, to my great surprise, I beheld a grand procession approaching my threshold. It was composed of the priests and priestesses of Venus, who came to congratulate me on the signal favour and familiarity which the Goddess had vouchsafed to me. It appeared that the ship's crew and passengers had solemnly declared the appearance of Venus in the midst of the storm, to rescue from a watery grave the painter Apelles, whose cabinet she had visited in secret, in order to employ his favoured pencil in portraying her immortal charms. ***** “ To-morrow," said Combabus, “I depart from Greece.” “Whither in such sudden hastep” said Apelles. “To Antioch,” replied the young man, * to behold this paragon of beauty, Stratonice, this wonder of her

VOL. III. No. 1.-1822.

B

[graphic]

OLD CHRISTMAS TIMES AT THE TEMPLE. We have not heart almost to touch upon the merry days that have been kept in our halls. We address not ourselves to the distant years when knighthood held gay and gallant reign within these borders, nor aught would we here fain know of those places, but as

the bricky towres,
The which on Thames' brode aged back do ride,

Where now the studious lawyers have their bowres.” Bowers indeed! but now forsaken of the good spirit that used to dwell therein. As to the old virtues of hospitality, social kindness, good-fellowship—this goodly pile of ours is but of yesterday; our benchers (patriarchal title !) have not a touch of antiquity. The fashion of their persons is contemporary with the notions of the least amongst us. That they are of recent date, you have a probate in whatsoever they say-in whatsoever they do. Speak not to them of the Christmas of ancient days—the epic times of the Templethe spring season for the affections of its young followers. They will not hear you upon the glories of the banqueting hour, nor in celebration of the reign of the mighty Prince of the time, or the ministry of Masters of Revels and Lords of Misrule; nor yet touching the history of the marvellous conversion of lawyers, benchers, and “ their mighty paramounts,” (who may not be lightly spoken of) into wilful abettors of the game of blindman's-buff, knowingly giving countenance, aid, and support to the practices of ininstrels, jesters, and such like.* We had a parliament here in ancient timesma blessing of a legislature it was. The approach of Christmas always brought a full attendance, for then bills were brought in, papers laid on the table (and no doubt much oratory spilt upon the occasion) for the due solemnization of the merry rites, time out of mind celebrated by their good predecessors. They were in earnest about the matter. Commend us to a corporation for the ordering of a feast. Straight were ministers appointed-straight were the hands of government strengthenedand all their resources produced, to meet the vast'exigency of the time.t

* Dugdale, in his “Origines Juridiciales,” has extracted from the Registers of the Temple an account of the manner of spending the Christmas there. But for a sprightly and picturesque description of the same scenes, we refer to the “ Accidence of Armoury,” by Gerard Leigh.

† The officers of all kinds were chosen in full Parliament, in Trinity-term, every year; and the provisions which were contrived against crossės and com tingencies, embody much rare practical wisdom.

But, by our Lady, it is the day, the long-expected day of rejoicing, and the tables are all set. Hark to that courageous blast-it is the grand procession with the first course. You see our great officers of state at the head. What a fantastic group would their quaint costume make of them, but for the glare of those torches borne in front! The constable marshal, for a follower of Minerva, really shows bravely in his mail of knighthood. But see, the tables have received their destined burden—the awful courtesies are over, and the rites begun. Now mark that dish of precedence, so reverently gazed upon by all-it is smoking beneath the “ eyes intent” of that worthy “auncient” seated in the place of honour. That, Sir, is the boar's head soused-it is a storied dish, and there are secrets in its biography that may not be lightly told. It was among the temporalities that stuck longest to the mitre.* The second and third courses are served up with the same ceremony as the first.t The tables being "avoided” after the banquet, “in fair and decent manner,” after a due interval devoted “not to toys, but wine,” the "auncientest” Master of the Revels (always a fellow of infinite jest) adventured, as by office bound, even upon a carol suited to the occasion; and having to the extent of his good voice diligently performed the same, had the right, in virtue of the dangerous service, to claim a carol from one of the company, who likewise nominated his successor. And thus the laughing hours passed by, until the clamorous blast proclaimed that the Master of the Revels be

his reign. But of the delights of those moments, ere that blast was heard, who shall speak? The circle of elders that you see grouped about that table—what a communion of high spirits is there !-what intelligence-what a tone of mind are expressed in that brilliant period!—what a war of wit is lighted up amongst them how they sınite each other with their airy brands! But hear the wild laugh from the young group beneath them; these are the known patrons of every freak—the open professors of mischief—the very children of Misrule in conspiracy against the peace of every sober subject of his Mightiness, the great paramount of the time. But the Master of the Revels is on the floor with his trainband of jesters and mummers. We will invoke them even in the words of old Chaucer, as worthy a member of our Inn as has been seen since his day:

“ Doe come, my mynstreles
And jesters, for to tell us tales,

Anon in my armyage,
Of romances yatto been royals,
Of popes and cardinals,

And eke of love-longynge.”

The boar's head is, we believe, still served up on Christmas-day, at Queen's College, Oxford, with ancient pomp and circumstance.

† The ceremonial after supper was, perhaps, the most interesting of any. The tables were taken up, and the Prince took his station under the place of honour, where his achievement was beautifully embroidered, and advised well of sundry matters with the ambassadors of foreign nations. There he was attended in true Oriental style. His Highness distributed honours by the hands of his great officers with regal liberality.

A learned gentleman of those days was no Sir Oracle, that would a “ wilful stillness” affect,

“ And with his gown his gravity maintain." The morality of the time was so ordered as that a man might be thought good for something, although he had his teeth; nor was it laid down that to be sound of limb was good evidence of infirmity of mind. And thus it was, that the barrister of that golden age. was enabled to pass through the disastrous chances and hairbreadth 'scapes of the Christmas festival with applause; nor was it a punishable offence

“That he could play, and daunce, and vault, and spring,

And all that else pertains to revelling." But these virtuous days have passed away, and with them the glory, and the pride, and the honour of the Temple have fled

Oh! all is gone; and all that goodly glee
Which wont to be the glory of gay wits,

Is laid a bed." And the wisdom of modern days puts its ban upon such unprofitable doings. A man must be of a serious turn, according to law, now-a-days, or he may expect the peace-officers after him. You talk of superstition, and point to the ritual of Popery. “You would bate me of half my merriment out of spite to the scarlet lady," says Selden, (and we cite the learned authority with deep professional reverence). “There never was a merry world since the fairies left dancing, and the parson left conjuring.” We go not the whole extent of this opinion; but we own we would consent to undertake a reasonable penance at the discretion of the minister-we would not grumble at a practicable fair length of pilgrimage-nay, we would even tender our respects to a fair wooden

representative of a grim Saint, if by such concessions we could bring back the days and nights of Old Christmas-time at the Temple.

A FEW TEMPLARS.

TO A FRIEND.

Henry, my friend! thou gazest on mine eye,

And steal'st thy lingering glance athwart my brow,
As though thy kindly heart would question—why

Those once so bright, appear so joyless now?-
Look on the West! The sinking sun's last beam

Sheds on thy cheek a love-like brilliancy-
The sun is set; and now thy features seem

More dark than ere his rays illumined thee.
Thus in Love's light my fond heart shone awhile,

Too warm for wo, too radiant for regret;
Then beam'd my glance, then flash'd the thoughtless snile,

But now they shine no more-my sun is set!
Yet still, thank Heaven! there rests dear Friendship’s light,
Its day is not so rich, but 0! it knows no night!

C. L.

THE TRAVELLING PROPENSITIES AND OPINIONS OF JOHN BULL.

The English are allowed to be more given to occasional migration than any other people; strength of purse, and a national morbidness of temper that requires the dissipation of foreign scenes and society, have been assigned as causes : to whatever extent they may be so, they are certainly not the only ones. Islanders as we are, the ideal limits that confine us to our home are more strongly marked-it is the ocean that rolls between us and other countries, and that unaccountable impulse to self-liberation, which we feel locally as well as morally, swells in proportion to the magnitude of the barrier that obstructs it. The Alps are a noble boundary in imagination, but geographers, that unromantic sect, destroy it: there is a line of demarcation on Mount St. Bernard, astride of which one may have his right foot in Italy and his left in France a feat of no small sublimity to modern tourists. This facility of communication lessens the dignity of both countries; the very essence of grandeur is in the idea of isolation, and we feel it in the boast of the poet

“I stood and stand alone, remember'd or forgot.” There is no association connected with our country, so endearing and ennobling as our “ocean-wall.”. We are conscious of being surrounded, like the earth itself, with an unfathomable element; and we pass it with feelings akin to those which we might experience in voyaging to another planet. It is otherwise with the Continental nations of Europe: their journeys from metropolis to metropolis resemble our trips from London to York, or to Manchester—they see strange faces and strange people, but it is the plain road-way all along. Besides, their vicinity and intermixture with each other completely check those romantic anticipations, with which we look beyond sea. Europe is common life to them, while to us it is a drama, and a dream--a paradise to be explored and enjoyed.

With such current sentiments amongst us, it is no wonder that we should have been overrun with tours and visits, barren journals, and dissertative quartos on leagues and posting. The proper period or fitting disposition for travel is difficult to fix on or attain; -we should be young to possess in its freshness the spring of sympathy and association; and without the knowledge which it demands years to acquire, the objects most pregnant with interest will be but a dead letter. Such things must be left to chance: good stock of animal spirits is, after all, the best compagnon de toyage; it enables one to quaff the delicious draught of novelty, unmixed with that feeling of desolation that comes upon us, amid foreign scenes and unaccustomed sounds. It is doubly necessary to the ignorant linguist, for vivacity is a language current every where; it is always understood, and is by far a better interpreter than Blagdon, or any other Manuel de Voyageur. Testy and Sensitive have put nothing on record half so miserable as one of our Smellfungus's stuck in the corner of a Diligence, abandoned to his own spleen and sullenness. These woful personages must exceedingly perplex the curious inhabitants of the country where they journey, to discover what the deuce can bring such living corpses

« PředchozíPokračovat »