« PředchozíPokračovat »
avail ourselves of the morning air for a stroll through | Indeed, it hardly seems possible that, even in 1768– the park. Ben Jonson, in the lines immediately fol. although any Vandalic deed may be credited of that lowing those we have already quoted, has sounded in period-Sidney's Oak could have been destroyed by sonorous strains its most celebrated attractions as well mistake : at any rate, there is no doubt at Penshurst as its beauty. He says
that it is yet standing; and the tree so named agrees “Thou hast thy walks for health as well as sport:
well with the accounts published previously to 1768 Thy mount, to which the Dryads do resort,
of the Sidney Oak. We accept the tradition. Where Pan and Bacchus their high feasts have made, Let us walk first to Sidney's Oak. It stands apart Beneath the broad beech and the chestnut's shade; in a bottom, close by Lancup Well, a fine sheet of That taller tree, which of a nut was set,
water, which might almost be called a lake. The oak At his great birth, where all the Muses met;
is a very large one, and has yet abundant leaves, though There, in the writhed bark, are cut the names
the trunk has long been quite hollow. At three feet Of many a sylvan taken with his flames;
from the ground the trunk measures 26 feet in girth : And thence the ruddy satyrs oft provoke The lighter fawns to reach thy Lady's oak;
a century ago, it measured 22 feet.
(Cut, No. 3,) will, better than words, show its form. Thy copse, too, named of Gamage thou hast there, That never fails to serve thee season'd deer,
Though not to be compared with the Panshanger Oak, When thou would’st feast or exercise thy friends." nor with some others known to fame, it is yet a hand
some tree, and would be noticeable apart from its assoThese things may be seen here still: Sidney's oak
ciations. The tree has other poetical celebrity besides “That taller tree, which of a nut was set,
that which the verse of Jonson has conferred. Waller At his great birth, where all the Muses met;"
has tried to impress his love to Saccharissa
it: the most attractive of all these objects, there is indeed
“Go boy, and carve this passion on the bark some doubt concerning. Gifford says it was cut down
Of yonder tree, which stands, the sacred mark by mistake, in 1768; and is properly indignant that
Of noble Sidney's birth.” such a mistake should have been possible. The oak which was felled was one known among the peasantry He was thinking of Jonson's lines, and forgot that the as The Bare Oak ;' and the belief is constant at Pens- bark of a full-grown oak is hardly fit for such an inhurst that it was not that taller tree,' but the other, scription. The tree has gained nothing by this associawhich Jonson has celebrated as the 'Lady's Oak.'| tion. It is hardly worth while to recal lesser poets'
J. THOR. De
3.- SIDNEY'S OAK.
musings here. As long as it lasts, the oak will con- The visitor to London picture-galleries will remember tinue to be visited by those who are drawn by the the noble picture which Mr. Lee painted of it a few fine affinities which the poetic mind no less than the years since. prosaic, recognizes in those sensible objects that are Penshurst Park is of considerable extent, but was associated with the personal being of the gifted of fore- formerly of much greater. The surface gently undugone days : and when the tree shall have perished, the lates, and it is richly wooded. Several of the oaks are spot itself will be visited; the feeling will remain, of large size and noble form. Beeches abound, and which led Southey to speak thus of it, believing that many of them are also very large ; but the soil does not the oak was destroyed :
seem to be so well adapted for them. Some are very “ Upon his natal day the acorn here
lofty and handsome trees, but they begin to decay Was planted; it grew up a stately oak,
rather early. From the higher parts of the park the And in the beauty of its strength it stood
views are very extensive and very beautiful. In the And Aourish’d, when its perishable part
more thickly-wooded parts there are as delicious shady Had moulder'd dust to dust. That stately oak
spots as on' a summer's day could be desired. It is a Itself hath moulder'd now; but Sidney's name
place full of delights for the poet and the painter, and Endureth in his own immortal works.”
for the lover of nature. The 'Lady's Oak,' as we said, is
copse, But it is noon; we must return to the mansion. The too, named of Gamage, remains, or rather three or door of the entrance-tower swings open, and the attendant four shattered trees remain, which are pointed to as is summoned. While we wait for her, we pass through "Barbara Gamage’s Copse :' but it has for a long while to the First Court-yard.' (Cut No. 4). We are here failed to serve the seasoned deer.' The copse is said by the oldest part of the building. The First Courtto have received its name from Barbara Gamage, yard presents one of the most picturesque architectural Countess of Leicester, taking great delight in feeding combinations at Penshurst. Directly before us is the the deer there. At no great distance was a beech grove original chief entrance : with its battlements, its bold that had won the name of Saccharissa's Walk,' from buttresses, and the handsome window over the door, being the place where the lady whom Waller celebrated and the turret at the angle, in itself a fine object. under that most un poetical of poet's names, used to Behind it is the hall, its high roof rising far up against walk, and Waller to woo her. Of it only a very few the dark blue of the sky. On the right, lying in deep trees are left standing. To our thinking one of the shadow, are some of the Tudor buildings. A few roots most noteworthy groups of trees in the park is the fine of ivy have affixed themselves to the walls in front; a avenue which stands on the eastern side of the mansion. good-sized tree casts its branches before the wall, on our left. The whole is rich in effect, yet wearing the There is little company in the hall. Sir Henry and sobriety of character that is proper to age.
gone. The •
Prout or my
lady are on the dais, and a few friends are standing Roberts might paint it without needing to alter a feature by them; but they are not the rulers of this night's -unless it were to replace the louvre on the hall-roof, merriment. A Lord of Misrule has been appointed and thereby complete the play of outline, and add the (as is "the custom at the house of every nobleman and crowning finish to the composition.
person of distinction"), whose office it is to see that all We enter the old porch, and are led at once to the goes gaily during Christmas-tide, and he is supreme Hall; it is an admirable and almost perfect specimen of now. The ladies, and the chief part of the guests who a great hall of the fourteenth century, when the hall would be entitled to a seat at the high-board, are in the was the chief room in the mansion, and was not only music loft, where they can most conveniently witness the audience-chamber on occasions of state and cere- the night's revelry. The hall-fire is not lighted yet, mony, but the ordinary refectory wherein the lord at the but a vast heap of faggot-wood, and some stout branches head of his family, and perhaps a hundred retainers, lie ready on the hearth ; a loud noise is heard outside ; with as many guests as chance had brought together, presently the sound of music mingles with the boisassembled daily at the dinner hour. Though not so terous shouting; there is a busy movement of exlarge as some other ancient halls still remaining in pectation in the hall. The hangings are held aside lordly mansions, it is a really noble room, and suffi. from the doors under the music gallery, and the Lord ciently spacious for all the requirements of old hospi- of Misrule himself, clad in a quaint showy habit enters, tality in its best days; and it is one of the least injured. accompanied by his band of proper officers, dressed each The lofty walls support a remarkably fine high-pitched in a fantastic livery of green and yellow, upon which open roof of dark oak, having well moulded arched is their chief's cognizance, and further bedizened with braces, resting on boldly carved corbel figures. At the such "scarfs, ribbons, and laces, hanged all over with farther end of the hall is the dais—a platform that is gold rings, precious stones, and other jewels," as their carried across the room, and raised a step above the rest own stores can furnish, or the almoner will trust them of the floor; here the master and mistress of the house with, or they can “borrow of their pretty Mopsies and sat with their chief guests, as Chaucer tells in his loving Betsies.” Thus gallantly attended, the 'master • Marriage of January and May :'
of merry disport' advances with affected state into the
middle of the room, when turning round he waves his “ And at the feste sitteth he and she With other worthy folk upon the deis.”
staff with much ceremony, and repeats with stentorian
voice the formulary, which a poet of the following The high-board, as the table at which they sat was century rendered into flowing verse : called, still occupies its proper place on the dais : the Come, bring with a noise, other tables range along the sides of the hall. Across
My merry merry boys, the lower end is a carved oak screen, supporting the
The Christmas log to the firing; minstrels' gallery. In the centre of the hall is the
While my good lord he, hearth, with the great fire-dog, or andiron, which sup
Bids ye all be free,
And drink to your heart's desiring." ported the huge logs of wood that were burning on the hearth ; but the louvre, or open lanthern, that was placed The trumpets sound, and the yule log-the trunk of on the roof, immediately over the hearth, for the smoke one of the largest trees of the year's felling—is dragged to escape by, was removed many years ago.
If in its in, a score or more sturdy yeomen lending their arms present desolate condition the old hall is striking and to the ropes that are fastened around the huge tree, and interesting, how imposing must have been its appearance as many more pushing at the sides and behind, all on some high festival in the good old times !
striving with might and main to speed its progress. Let us try to realize a Christmas in the Penshurst Following it is a motley crowd of both sexes, including Hall of Sir Henry Sidney.
all those who are to share in the ensuing sports. We must look in on Christmas-eve, for the festivities With so many willing assistants the log is soon duly begin on the vigil of the holy day. The hall has its poised on the andiron, and the lighter wood heaped ordinary decorations; the arras hangings upon the around it; and now, at Misrule’s bidding, the brand walls ; arms and armour, and the spreading antlers of that was quenched last Candlemas, and then carefully deer captured after some memorable huntings, are sus
and with a little mystery stored away, is produced, and pended around ; banners glittering with many a gaudy lighted by the steward, who applies it to the heap. The emblazoning float overhead; but, in addition to these, dry boughs crackle and blaze, and wrap the old hall in every part from floor to roof is decked with bay, and
a ruddy glow. Few among the revellers however care rosemary, and laurel, and other evergreens, but chiefly to notice how brilliant and sparkling is its appearance, holly: ivy is not there, though sometimes it is placed as the flashing light glances upon the coats of mail and at this time in the churches :
burnished shields, and shining weapons, and from beam
to beam of the roof, gay with gilding and heraldic em“Nay, ivy, nay, it shall not be I wisLet holly have the maistery as the manner is :
blazonry, along the many-coloured banners, and plays Holly stondeth in the Hall faire to behold,
about the shining holly bunches, and amongst the Ivy stond without the door ; she is full sore acold." merry assembly that now fills the hall— lords and ser
vants, fair and noble-born ladies, and humble tenants, | young men have just returned from the wood where all mingling there, gentle and simple, without restraint they had gone to fetch the mistletoe,' and they have or envy. It is no time to think of such things, for at slily suspended from the gallery a goodly bunch of it, the cry. the yule log is lighted,' which is raised as soon directly over the heads of a group of buxom maidens who almost as master steward applies the brand, there is a happened to be chatting together there, and upon whose fresh flourish of trumpets, and a hearty Kentish hurrah rosy lips instant assault was made. The usual rushing is given; the wassail-bowl is brought forth and passed and struggling succeeds, and it is long before the lightbriskly around, amid shouts of 'was-hael,' and 'drink- hearted lads and lasses tire of this frolicking. There hael;' and the master of the feast bids them aloud .be follows a noisy round of rustic games ; and before the merry,' and drink 'success to the firing.' The shouts rougher jollity begins to flag, my lord and lady and and the music are renewed, till the old hall re-echoes, their privileged guests take their seats on the dais, the and the 'rafters ring again,' 'Merry Christmas' is musicians appear in the gallery, the attendants call out begun. “For a moment there is a lull, while Misrule room there, places, places !' while the whisper passes delivers a short but pithy speech, as a prelude to the round, 'here be the Mummers.' toast his herald proclaims, ‘of health and prosperity to The middle of the hall is speedily cleared, and somethe Lord of Penshurst,' a toast that is responded to thing approaching silence obtained. All eyes are directed with a hearty devotion, which tells, louder than the to the door, where appears to be some little scuffling ; trumpets that accompany the cheering, of the affectionate but after several gruff repetitions of 'Stand back, stand regard with which this unrestrained intercourse unites back, I say !' the intruder makes good his entrance. the lord to his dependents.
He is a burly figure with along white beard, and locks of Few and brief are the ceremonies, for the feast to the same colour hanging down his shoulders. His dress night is especially devoted to the servants and tenants, is a robe of sheep-skins, in his hand he carries a long whose mirth ceremony would rather damp than enkindle. staff, on his head is a coronet of holly.
This portly Misrule, as host, passes from table to table with con- personage advances, expostulating with the door-keepers tinuous admonitions of drink, my masters ; drink and who still retain hold of him, till he reaches the fire, be merry,' an injunction that in both its parts appears when he turns to the company and tells the purpose of to be most loyally observed. Some of the choicer his coming. Ben Jonson has preserved his speech for voices sing a three-part song, and one and another ballad us, with some trifling alterations, which we take leave succeeds. As a fresh brewing of the 'spicy nut-brown to remove. Hear his oration : ale,' the strongest October, with sugar and spices and “Why Gentlemen, do you know what you do, eh? roasted apples in it-the Christmas lamb’s-wool'—is would you keep me out ? Christmas, old Christmas, brought in, one of the revellers leads off with the Christmas of Kent, and Captain Christmas? Pray you popular ditty :
let me be brought before my Lord Misrule, I 'll not be “ Back and side
answered else: 'Tis merry in the hall when beards wag Both hand and foot go cold;
all : I ha' seen the time when you'd ha' wished for me, But belly, God send thee good ale enough, for a merry Christmas; and now you ha' me, they Whether it be new or old,”
would not let me in: I must come another time! a and all join with mirthful gravity in the chorus. good jest, as if I could come more than once a year. Misrule sees that the mirth will go on without him, why I'm no dangerous person, and so I told my
friends and he has other sport to prepare. He and his followers o'the gate. I'm old Christmas still, and though I come withdraw as the song ends, taking care to repeat as he from the Pope's Head, as good a Protestant as any ' the reaches the door his old be merry.' Master Silence, parish. The truth is, I ha' brought a masque here, of Doubledone Grange, down by the Eden (a descendant out o’the country, o' my own making; and do present of the Silences of Gloucestershire), who has left his it by a set of my sons, that comes out of the lanes of wife at home sick of the ague, after having sat Kent, good dancing boys all. Bones o'bread, his lordhitherto in quiet attendance on the bowl, catches at ship! son Rowland, son Clym, be ready there in a Misrule's parting words, and breaks forth in a rhyme trice." that has been carefully preserved in the family from the The mummers so called upon quickly come capering time of his ancestor, the Justice Silence of immortal in; they are the best of Misrule's jovial crew, with two memory:
or three light-heeled damsels ; and all are daintily at
tired in accordance with their several characters. After “ Be merry, be merry, my wife's as all,
them enters a motley crowd, who have disguised themFor women are shrews, both great and small :
selves under the direction of the almoner, a special 'Tis merry in the ball when beards wag all, And welcome merry Christmas.”
master in the craft of mumming and interlude-making.
Some are clad in Lincoln green, and represent Robin My lord's fool sidles up at the unwonted voice, Hood and his merry men, not omitting friar Tuck but the joke he is about to break at Master Silence's and maid Marian ; others appear as St. George and expense is interrupted by a loud smack that resounds King Alexander. But the major part are content with from the lower end of the hall, followed by a sudden little more than a change of clothes as complete as they bustle and outburst of obstreperous laughter. A dozen can devise, and so much disguising of the face as they
can effect with burnt brands and red ochre. The chief Three or four treble voices are heard, from behind object is to be as unlike themselves as possible : six- the screen, singing one of those carols that are so imfeet men are arrayed therefore in the gowns and kirtles pressive and even solemn, in their primitive simplicity of the servant-wenches, or the cast-off finery of the of phrase. It is intended to recal the listeners to a mistress; the women have donned retainer's jerkins, or remembrance of the sacredness of the season ; for our wagoner's gaberdines; children have long beards and forefathers had an unsuspecting habit of mingling relicrutches, and old men have been forced into giant bibs, gious thoughts with their wildest mirth, and cheerfuland other infantile attire, while the transformed children ness with their devotion, in a way that seems very are holding them by leading-strings. And “the hobby- strange, and even profane, in these later and more enhorse is not forgot.” He is the most popular actor in lightened times. Thus runs the carol : the mumming, and care has been taken to find a proper
“As Joseph was a-walking, person to play the part: one who knows the reins, the
He heard an angel sing, careers, the pranks, the ambles, both rough and smooth,
• This night shall be born the false trots, and the Canterbury paces; and can ma
Our heavenly King! nage his pasteboard half with any player in the county.
“He neither shall be born Next the hobby-horse in rank and favour is the dragon,
In housen nor in hall, the master 'Snap’ of famous memory, who continued
Nor in the place of Paradise to make his annual appearance in the Norwich pageants
But in an ox's stall,'” &c. till about a dozen years ago, when, after having sur. There is a religious silence while the hymn is singing, vived him a full century, he followed the last hobby- but it only for that while delays the mirth, which is horse to the limbo appointed for all such vanities. The renewed as soon as it has ceased. The games and dances chief mummers deliver some short complimentary verses go on, and the cup passes round till midnight, when a to the master of the house, and dance some fanciful soberer joy succeeds. A full choir ranges along the rounds; the hobby-horse does his best amblings, while end of the hall, and that most favourite of all old English my lord's jester adds some odd tricks and extempore carols is chanted and listened to with a sweetnes and jokes and rhymes to the intense relish of the not over- earnest devotion which the sublime anthem often fails fastidious audience: and amid the loudest clamour of excite: sack buts, cornets, and kettle-drums, the mummers, after
“God rest you merry gentlemen, marching in purposely uncouth procession three or four
Let nothing you dismay ;
For Jesus Christ our Saviour times round the hall, take their departure.
Was born upon this day, "Marry now, does not Master Nimble-needle play
To save us all from Satan's power the hobby most bravely?" asks a ruddy farmer, some
When we were gone astray. what past the middle age, of a rather sour-looking junior who sits beside him. "Nay, forsooth,” replies the
“Now to the Lord sing praises person so addressed, “I like not such harlotry and
within this place, ethnic antics. Your hobby-horse and dragon I can
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace. not away with, and these baudie pipers and thundring drummers who strike up this devil's dance withal
This holy tide of Christmas
All others doth deface." verily they are an abhomination to me!"-borrowing, by anticipation, a portion of a most irate denunciation And all present, from the oldest to the youngest, do which good Master Philip Stubbes, some half-century sing together with at least a passing feeling of love and or so later, uttered against what he called “this hea. faith, and brotherhood, joining with all their heart in thenish devilrie.” “Now, surely, friend Thumplast," the refrain : returns the other, " this dancing be none so wicked a
"O! tidings of comfort and joy; thing : David, you know, danced ; and, as Sir Tobias For Jesus Christ our Saviour was born on Christmas day." our good master's chaplain asked, in his sermon, only last Sunday, 'Doth not the motion and the music help Very different is the appearance of the old hall on to cheer the spirits, and chase away melancholy plan- Christmas morning. The dinner-hour is an early one: tasies, and so comfortably recreate both body and the sun is yet high in the heavens, and his rays stream
"Now, in troth, neighbour Snayth, this is through the stained-glass windows, working a wild cona most profane comparison of thine, to liken this fusion of pattern and colour upon the tables and floor, pestiferous dance about this idol calf—this Philistine and causing the yule log, which is yet consuming on the Dagon-to such a dance as David danced before the hearth, to burn dim. The company, which includes ark withal. But for health's sake, I grant you, dancing almost all those who were present last night, are ranged may be both wholesome and profitable, so it be prac- at the tables, which are placed lengthwise down the body tised as Master New-light the silenced preacher adviseth of the hall. The lord and his friends enter and take their -privately and apart, every sex by themselves'-and seats at the high-board, which stands on the dais across then, mayhap it might be accompanied with pipe and the hall: my lord has the chief seat, which is in the timbrel, and there should yet be in it neither wantonness centre of the board, the arras being drawn over it so as nor popish heathenry.”
to form a sort of canopy; the others, both ladies and