Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

sons

cakes for a timid youth, comes ar.d finds himself for having set the public a fine him while he is fretting with anger : example; he has only given them the " Fidelia. I warrant you, sir ; for, at worst, brute. That was all the manliness that

model of an unreserved and energetic I could beg or steal for

you. Manly. Nay, more bragging! You said was left in this pitiable world. Wychyou'd beg for me. F. I did, sir.

erly deprived man of his ill-fitting M. Then you shall beg for me

French cloak, and displayed him with F. With all my heart, sir.

his framework of muscles, ard in his M. That is, pimp for me.

naked shamelessness. F. How, sir?

And in the midst of all these, a great M. D'ye start? No more dissembling : here (I say,) you must go use it for me to oii- | poet, blind, and sunk into obscurity, via. Go, fatter, lie, kneel, promise, any; his soul saddened by the misery of tło thing to get her for me : I cannot live unless I times, thus depicted the madness of the have her.

infernal rout: And when Fidelia returns to him, say

“ Belial came last, than whom a spirit more ing that Olivia has embraced her, by lewd force, in a fit of love, he exclaims; Fell not from heaven, or more gross to love Her love!

Vice for itself. who more oft than he -a whore's, a witch's love !-But what, did she not kiss well,

In temples and at altars, when the priest

Turns atheist, as did Eli's sons, who fill'd sir ? I'm sure, I thought her lips—but With lust and violence the house of God? I must not think of 'em more-but In courts and palaces he also reignis, yet they are such I could still kiss,

And in luxurious cities, where the noise

Of riot ascends above their loftiest towers, grow to,--and then tear off with my And injury, and outrage : and when night teeth, grind 'em into mammocks, and Darkens the streets, then wander forth the "pil 'em into her cuckold's face." + These savage words indicate savage

Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine." .. actions. He goes by night to enter

2. THE WORLDLINGS. Olivia's house with Fidelia, and under her name ; and Fidelia tries to pre

I. rent him, through jealousy. Then his blood boils, a storm of fury mounts to

In the seventeenth century a new his face, and he speaks to her in a mode of life was inaugurated in Europe, whispering, hissing voice: “What, you the worldly, which soon took the lead are my rival, then ! and therefore

you

of and shaped every other. In France shall stay, and keep the door for me, especially, and in England, it appeared whilst I go in for you ; but when I'm and gained ground, from the same gone, if you dare to stir off from this causes and at the same time. very board, or breathe the least mur

In order to people the drawing: muring accent, I'll cut her throat first ; rooms, a certain political condition is and if you love her, you will not ven necessary; and this condition, which is pure her life.—Nay, then I'll cut your tion with a regular system of police,

the supremacy of the king in combina. throat too, and I know you love your own life at least. ... Not a word more, lest

was established at the same period on I begin my revenge on her by killing both sides of the Channel. A regular you." 1 He knocks over Olivia's hus police brings about peace among men, hand, another traitor seizes from her draws them out of their feudal inde the casket of jewels he had given her, pendence and provincial isolation, in Casts her one or two of them, saying, creases and facilitates intercommuni

, " Here, madam, I never yet left my cation, confidence, union comfort, and winch unpaid," and gives this same

pleasures.

The kingly supremacy casket to Fidelia, whom he marries. All calls into existence a court, the centre these actiors then appeared natural.

of intercourse, from which all favors Wycherley took to himself in his dedi- flow, and which calls for a display of cation the title of his hero, Plain Deal pleasure and splendor. The aristoc«; he fancied he had drawn the portrait racy thus attracted to one another, of a frank, honest man, and praised and attracted to the throne by securi • The Plain Dealer, iii. s.

ty, curiosity, amusement, and interen 1 Ibid. iv, s.

* Ibid. iv. 2.

* Paradise Lost, book i. h 490ogoa.

[ocr errors]

meet together, and become at once Stewart: "the queen in a white-laced men of the world and men of the court. waistcoate and a crimson short petty They are no longer, like the barons coate, and her hair dressed a la négis of a preceding age, standing in their gence; .. Mrs Stewart with her nat ofty halls, armed and stern, possessed cocked and a red plume, with her by the idea that they might perhaps, sweet eye, little Roman nose, and ex when they quit their palace, cut each cellent taille.” * Then they returned other to pieces, and that if they fall to to Whitehall “ where all the ladies blovs in the precincts of the court, the walked, talking and fiddling with their execution, is ready to cut off their hats and feathers, and changing and band and stop the bleeding with a red-trying one another's by one another's hot iron; knowing, moreover, that the heads, and laughing." In such fine king may probably have them be company there was no lack of gallantry. headed to-morrow, and ready accord. Perfumed gloves, pocket mirrors, work ingly to cast themselves on their knees cases fitted up, apricot paste, essences, and break out into protestations of and other little love-tokens, came over submissive fidelity, but counting under every week from Paris. London furnish their breath the number of swords that ed more substantial gifts, ear-rings, dia will be mustered on their side, and the monds, brilliants, and golden guineas : trusty men who keep sentinel behind the fair ones put up with these, as if they the drawbridge of their castles.* The had come from a greater distance. I rights, privileges, constraints, and at. There were plenty of intrigues—Heav. tractions of feudal life have disappear- en knows how many or of what kind. ed. There is no more need that the Naturally, also, conversation does not manor should be a fortress.

These stop.

They did not mince the advenmen can no longer experience the joy tures of Miss Warmestré the haughty of reigning there as in a petty state. It who,“ deceived apparently by a bad has palled on them, and they quit it

. reckoning, took the liberty of lying-in in Having no further cause to quarrel the midst of the court." They spoke with the king, they go to him. His in whispers about the attempts of Miss court is a drawing-room, most agree- Hobart, or the happy misfortune of able to the sight, and most serviceable to Miss Churchill, who, being very plain, those who frequent it. Here are festivi- but having the wit to fall from her ties, splendid furniture, a decked and horse, touched the eyes and heart of select company, news, and tittle-tattle; the Duke of York. The Chevalier de here they find pensions, titles, places for Grammont relates to the king the his. themselves and their friends ; they re- tory of Termes, or of Poussatin the ceive amusement and profit; it is all almoner : every one leaves the dance gain and all pleasure. Here they at- to hear it; and when it is over they tend the levée, are present at dinners, all burst out laughing. We perceive return to the ball

, sit down to play, are that this is not the world of Louis XIV., there when the king goes to bed. Here and yet it is a world ; and if it has more they cut a dash with their half-French froth, it runs with the identical current. dress, their wigs, their hats loaded The great object here also is selfish with feathers, thei: trunk-hose, their amusement, and to put on appear.

anaions, the large rosettes on their ances; people strive to be men of shoes. The ladies paint and patch fashion ; a coat bestows a certain kind their faces, display robes of magnificent of glory on its wearer. De Grammont batin and velvet, laced up with silver was in despair when the roguery of his and very long, and above you may see valet obliged him to wear the same their white busts, whose brilliant naked suit twice over. Another courtier ness is extended to their shoulders and piques himself on his songs and his arms. They are gazed upon, saluted, guitar-playing. "Russell had a collec approached. The king rides on horse- tion of two or three hundred quadrilles back in Hyde Park; by his side canter in tablature, all of which he used to the queen, and with her the two mis

Pepys' Diary, ii. July 13, 1663. 1 Ibid tresses, Lady Castlemaine and Mrs.

| Mémoires de Grammont, by A. Hamilton * Consult all Shakspeare's historical plays. Š Ibid. ch. ix

a

*

dance without ever having studied | were, chews the cud and corrects itself them.” Jermyn was known for his It finds a religion, an art, a philosophy success with the fair. “A gentleman,” to reform or to form anew. It is no said Etherege, “ought to dress well, longer the minister of inspired intui dance well, fence well, have a talent tion, but of a regular process of de ior love-letters, a pleasant voice in a composition. It no longer feels of room, to be always very amorous, suf- looks for generalities; it handles and ficiently discreet, but not too constant.” Observes specialties. It selects and These are already the court manners classifies; it refines and regulates. It as they continued in France up to the ceases to be a creator, and becomes a time of Louis XVI. With such man- discourser. It quits the province of ners, words take the place of deeds. invention and settles down into criti Life is passed in visits and conversation. cism. It enters upon that magnificent The art of conversing became the chief and confused aggregate of dogmas and of all; of course to converse agreeably, forms, in which the preceding age has to fill up an idle hour, on twenty sub- gathered up indiscriminately its dreams jects in an hour, hinting always, with and discoveries; it draws thence the out going deep, in such a fashion that ideas which it modifies and verifies. conversation should not be a labor, but It arranges them in long chains of sim. a promenade. It was followed up by ple ratiocination, which descend link letters written in the evening, by by link to the vulgar apprehension. madrigals or epigrams to be read in the It expresses them in exact terms, which morning, by drawing-room tragedies, or present a graduated series, step by caricatures of society. In this manner step, to the vulgar reasoning power. a new literature was produced, the It marks out in the entire field of work and the portrait of the world thought a series of compartments and which was at once its audience and its a network of passages, which, ex, model, which sprung from it, and ended cluding all error and digression, lead in it.

gradually every mind to every object.

It becomes at last clear, convenient, II.

charming. And the world lends its The art of conversation being then a aid; contingent circumstances finish necessity, people set themselves to ac- the natural revolution ; the taste be. quire it. A revolution was effected in comes changed through a declivity of mind as well as in manners. As soon its own, but also through the influence as circumstances assume new aspects, of the court. When conversation be. thought assumes a new form. The comes the chief business of life, it mod. Renaissance is ended, the Classic Age ifies style after its own image, and acbegins, and the artist makes room for cording to its peculiar needs. It repu. the author. Man is returned from his diates digression, excessive metaphor, first voyage round the world of facts; impassior.ed exclamations, all loose enthusiasm, the labor of a troubled and overstrained ways. We cannot imagination, the tumultuous crowding bawl, gesticulate, dream aloud, in a of new ideas, all the faculties which a drawing-room; we restrain ourselves ; first discovery calls into play, have be- we criticise and keep watch over our. come satiated, then depressed. The selves; we pass the time in narration incentive is blunted, because the work and discussion; we stand in need of is done. The eccentricities, the far concise expression, exact language, vistas, the unbridled originality, the all-clear and connected reasoning; other. powerful flights of genius aimed at the wise we cannot fence or comprehend centre of truth through the extremes of each other. Correct style, good lan folly, all the characteristics of grand guage, conversation, are self-generated, inventive genius have disappeared. and very quickly perfected; for reThe imagination is tempered; the finement is the aim of the man of the mind is disciplined: it retraces its world: he studies to render every thing steps; it walks its own domain once more becoming and more serviceable more with a satisfied curiosity, an ac- his furniture and his speech, his periods quired experience. Judgment, as it and his dress. Art and artifice aro

[ocr errors]

there the distinguishing mark. People specimens of this new refinement, ap pride themselves on being perfect in pears Sir William Temple, a diploma. their mother tongue, never to miss the tist and man of the world, cautious, correct sense of any word, to avoid prudent, and polite, gifted with tact in vulgar expressions, to string together conversation and in business, expert in their antitheses, to develop their the knowledge of the times, and in the thoughts, to employ rhetoric. Noth. art of not compromising himself, adroit ing is more marked than the contrast in pressing forward and in standing of tae conversations of Shakspeare aside, who knew how to attract to him. and Fletcher with those of Wycherley self the favor and the expectations of and Congreve. In Shakspeare the England, to obtain the eulogies of men dialogue resembles an assault of arms; of letters, of savants, of politicians, of we could imagine men of skill fencing the people, to gain a European reputa. with words and gestures as it were in tion, to win all the crowns appropriated a fencing-school. They play the buf- to science, patriotism, virtue, genius, foon, sing, think aloud, burst out into without having too much of science, a laugh, into puns, into fishwomen's patriotism, genius, or virtue. Such a talk and into poet's talk, into quaint life is the masterpiece of that age: fine whimsicalities; they have a taste for externals on a foundation not so fine; the ridiculous, the sparkling; one of this is its abstract. His manner as an them dances while he speaks; they author agrees with his maxims as a would willingly walk on their hands'; politician. His principles and style are there is not one grain of calculation to homogeneous; a genuine diplomatist, more than three grains of folly in their such as one meets in the drawing-rooms, heads. In Wycherley, on the other having probed Europe and touched hand, the characters are steady; they everywhere the bottom of things ; tired reason and dispute ; ratiocination is of every thing, specially of enthusiasm, the basis of their style; they are so admirable in an arm-chair or at a levee, perfect that the thing is overdone, and a good story-teller, waggish if need we see through it all the author string-, were, but in moderation, accomplished ing his phrases. They arrange a tab- in the art of maintaining the dignity of leau, multiply ingenious comparisons, his station and of enjoying himself. In balance well-ordered periods. One his retreat at Sheen, afterwards at character delivers a satire, another Moor Park, he employs his leisure in serves up a little essay on morality. writing; and he writes as a man of his We might draw from the comedies of rank would speak, very well, that is to the time a volume of sentences; they say, with dignity and facility, particuare charged with literary morsels which larly when he writes of the countries he foreshadow the Spectator.* They hunt has visited, of the incidents he has seen, for clever and suitable expressions, the noble amusements which serve to they clothe indecent circumstances pass his time.* He has an income of with decent words; they glide swiftly fifteen hundred a year, and a nice sineover the fragile ice of decorum, and cure in Ireland. He retired from pubscratch the surface without breaking it. lic life during momentous struggles, I see gentlemen, seated in gilt arm- siding neither with the king nor against chairs, of quiet wit and studied speech, him, resolved, as he tells us himself, c»l in observation, eloquent skeptics, not to set himself against the current expert in the fashions, lovers of ele- when the current is irresistible. He lives gance, liking fine talk as much from peacefully in the country with his wife, vanity as fiom taste, who, while con- his sister, his secretary, his dependants, versing between a compliment and a receiving the visits of strangers, who are reverence, will no more neglect their anxious to see the negotiator cfthe Triple good style than their neat gloves or Alliance,and sometimes of the new King their hat.

William, who unable to obtain his servi. III.

ces, comes occasionally to seek his coin Amongst the best and most agrecable

* Consult especially, Observations on the • Take, for example, Farquhar's Beans United Provinces of the Netherlands ; OS Stratagem, ii. i.

Gardening

[ocr errors]

se). He plants and gardens, in a fertile | dignity, not dogmatically nur haugh soil, in a country the climate of which tily, but in varied tones, aptly modu. agrees with him, amongst regular flower-lating his voice and gestures. He re: beds, by the side of a very straight canal, counts the four kinds of grapes which bordered by a straight terrace ; and he he has introduced into England, ana lauds himself in set terms, and with confesses that he has been extravagant, suitable discreetness, for the character yet does not regret it; for five years he he possesses and the part he has cho- has not once wished to see London. He sen :-“I have often wondered how intersperses technical advice with anec. sur h sharp and violent invectives come dotes; whereof one relates to Charles to be made so generally against Epi- II., who praised the English climate curus, by the ages that followed him, above all others, saying : " He thought whose admirable wit, felicity of expres that was the best climate, where he sion, excellence of nature, sweetness of could be abroad in the air with pleas conversation, temperance of life and ure, or at least without trouble or in constancy of death made him so beloved convenience, most days of the year, and by his friends, admired by his scholars, most hours of the day.” Another and honored by the Athenians.”* He about the Bishop of Munster, who, un. does well to defend Epicurus, because able to grow any thing but cherries in he has followed his precepts, avoiding his orchard, had collected all varieties, every great confusion of the mind, and so perfected the trees that he had and installing himself, like one of Lucre- fruit from May to September. The tius' gods, in the interspace of worlds ; reader feels an inward gratification as he says: “Where factions were when he hears an eyewitness relate once entered and rooted in a state, they minute details of such great men. Our thought it madness for good men to attention is aroused immediately ; we meddle with public affairs." And in consequence imagine ourselves deni. again : “ The true service of the public zens of the court, and smile complacentis a business of so much labor and so ly; no matter if the details be slender, much care, that though a good and wise they serve passably well, they constiman may not refuse it, if he be called tute“ a half hour with the aristocracy.” to it by his prince or his country, and like a lordly way of taking snuff, or thinks he may be of more than vulgar shaking the lace of one's ruffles. Such use, yet he will seldom or never seek it; is the interest of courtly conversation ; but leaves it commonly to men who, it can be held about nothing; the exunder the disguise of public good, pur- cellence of the manner lends this nosue their own designs of wealth, power, thing a peculiar charm; you hear the and such bastard honors as usually sound of the voice, you are amused by attend them, not that which is the true, the half smile, abandon yourself to the and only true, reward of virtue.” † This fluent stream, forget that these are is how he ushers himself in. Thus ordinary ideas; you observe the narpresented to us, he goes on to talk of the rator, his peculiar breeches, the cane gardening which he practises, and first he toys with, the be-ribboned shoes, his of the six grand Epicureans who have easy walk over the smooth gravel of illustrated the doctrine of their master his garden paths between the faultless -Cæsar, Atticus, Lucretius, Horace, hedges; the ear, the mind even is charm-. Mæcenas, Virgil ; then of the various ed, captivated by the appropriateness sorts of gardens which have a name in of his diction, by the abundance of his the world, from the garden of Eden ornate periods, by the dignity and ful. and the garden of Alcinous, to those ness of a style which is involuntarily of Holland and Italy; and all this at regular, which, at first artificial, liko some length, like a man who listens good breeding, ends, like true good to himself and is listened to by others, breeding, by being changed into a rea' who does rather profusely the honors necessity and a natural talent. of his house and of his wit to his Unfortunately, this talent occasionally guests, but does them with grace and leads to blunders ; when a man speaks • Temple's Works : Of Gardening, ii. 190.

well about every thing, he thinks he has * Ibid. 184

a right to speak of ever: thing. Ho

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »