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ing doors surpasses all power of description. In this monastic masquerade some had assumed the habits of classical, others of scriptural personages, and all appeared preparing for a dance, however dissonant their characters or unassociating their costumes might be.
They were all arrayed in dresses which, whether appropriate or not, were wildly fantastical, and even exaggerated into Al kind of frantic extravagance, and the faces of most of these revellers were covered with gilt vizors, which, concealing all resemblance to the human countenance, diffused a strange and horrid glitter over their featureless faces; their language, too, was a squeak or gibier, and their dialogue, carried on rather by gestures than by words, seemed a kind of diabolical shorthand. Torches, held by the laybrothers, who laughed, however, too heartily at this metamorphosis to hold them, quite straight, shed a red and smoky light on the wild group of these clerical masqueraders; and in a corner others were holding back Jhe dogs belonging to the abbey, who, terrified at the strange appearances around them, would have flown at them unless withheld, and whose ceaseless barking made a kind of concert with the general uproar of this monastical festival—their eager eyes, pointed heads, and the stretched arms, and the encouraging voices of their young exciters, making no bad background to the painting. "Now Heaven protect me!" said the unfortunate deacon, "that these fiends tear me not in pieces!—alas! I am finely holpen." The abbot of misrule, who was distinguished by his tinsel mitre, crosier, and ring, and a superior portion of extravagance and absurdity in his vestments and gestures, demanded of the travellers who they were that sought admittance to the solemn rites he was about to celebrate. "Two poor monks of the order of St. Benedict," answered the ecclesiastics, " who return from pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Bacchus of Beaucaire ;" and they produced the well-filled skins that testified the success of their mission.—" Relics of value in truth," said the abbot, "and that shall be meetly enshrined ere long," as he stroked his ample paunch at sight of the wine ; " and whom bring you to this our cloister of misrule?" " I am Guillaume deRusbriquis, the famed traveller," said Rusbriquis, entering into the spirit of the revel; "I have journeyed from pole to pole—have helped the sun to go on horseback in the east, and held his stirrup when he alighted in the west—have been shipwrecked in the frozen ocean, and anchored on the back of a kraken, deeming it to be the main land. Marry, if ye doubt the truth I tell, here is my fellowtraveller," pointing to Mephibosheth, "who came by this halt in his gait from sojourning overlong in the land of Antipodes, and wholly forgetting to walk on his feet."—" He speaks brave matter," quoth the abbot, "and must needs be a traveller by his lying;—and thou who standest shivering and groaning there, art thou what he delivers thee ?"— "I am one," said the deacon, " who am led captive into a strange land, and sit down to weep by the waters of Babylon."—" There VOL. It. o
thou best," said the abbot, "for there is not a drop of the waters of Babylon in the abbey or its neighbourhood: we know no such strange wines—take heed, fellow, for I do grievously suspect thee, from thy speech, to be as it were an Albigeois, in which case there were no more words but to hang thee; yet, that thou mayest perceive we are a merciful lord abbot, dance a-round with us, and it shall be thy purgation."—" Surely I will not dance," quoth the deacon, whose courage rose with opposition; "it is an abomination more befitting the daughter of the harlot Herodias than a deacon of the holy congregation. All dancing is evil, very evil, exceedingly evil, and not good—but to dance in the tents of Kedar and the tabernacles of the idolaters, to be set up on high among the ungodly, and dance in the high places, were an utter abomination :—wherefore I say, Down with the filthy squeaking of pipes, and the lewd jarring of crowds', and—"—"So please you, my lord abbot," said one of the monks, "let us drown this peevish fellow's noise, and cause him to dance with us :—your true sour heretic (and your lordship perceives he is no better, though I shame to name such vermin before your lordship) needs no other martyrdom than the sight of free honest mirth."— "Thou sayest well," said the abbot; "he shall dance and die the death of the spleenful:—for the rest, let such of the nine worthies as be sober, lead forth Deborah, Judith, and Queen Dido—the three children in the furnace shall dance with Nebuchadnezzar to make up their old grudge—Susanna shall pace with one of the elders, and the Goddess of Chastity with the other—ourself, the Abbot of Misrule, will lead the lady of loose-delight, with her paintings and her pouncings, her mincings and her mockings—and the heretic shall dance with the devil, and there is a company meetly sorted. Strike up, my masters."—Here the hapless Mephibosheth was seized on by a hideous figure enveloped in a black garment, with cloven feet of flame colour, a tail that
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