Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

There's but one fire from which this smoke may grow,
Namely, the unmatch'd yoke of youth; and
In which if ever I occasion was
of the smallest breach, the greatest implacable mischief
Adultery can threaten, fall on me!
of you may I be disown'd a son,
And unto heav'n a servant! For that lady,
As she is Beauty's mirror, so I hold her
For Chastity's example. From her tongue
Never came language that arriv'd my ear,
That even censorious Cato, liy'd he now,
Could misinterpret; never from her lips
Came unchaste kiss, or from her constant eye

Look savouring of immodesty. The result is, that for precaution's sake, and to put rumour to silence, the old man exacts from his son a promise, that he will henceforth abstain from his visits. Dalavall thus obtains his end, and in time insinuates himself into the wife's affections, and completes his own villany, and her disgrace.

Old Wincott being ignorant of the cause of young Geraldine's absence, soon becomes uneasy and surprised, and of course Dalavall never hints at the real reason. The old man's conduct and uneasiness are thus described :

The good old man doth never sit to meat,
But next his giving thanks, he speaks of you ;
There's scarce a bit that he at table tastes
That can digest without a Geraldine ;
You are in his mouth so frequent; he and she
Both wondering what distaste from one or either
So suddenly should alienate a guest

To them so dearly welcome. After some time, Wincott dispatches a letter to young Geraldine, inviting him to renew his visits, and the latter in consequence appoints a meeting with him secretly, by night, in order that his father may not know of it. At the appointed time he proceeds to Wincott's house, where the old man receives him alone most joyfully. The scene of their meeting is an extremely beautiful one, but too long for us to extract. The honesty-the kind heartedness—the devoted and trusty friendship of the old man, and the openness, candour, and truth of young Geraldine, are pourtrayed most naturally. The latter explains the cause of his absence without concealment or evasion, and the old man protests the most thorough conviction of the honesty of his friend, and the truth of his wife. At parting, he exclaims :

howsoever,
Let's not be strange in writing; that way daily
We may confer without the least suspect,
In spite of all such base calumnious tongues ;

So now good night, sweet friend.

The old man has scarcely departed, when Geraldine over hears the wife and Dalavall in conversation; he approaches, and the fatal secret is disclosed; their conversation is of such a character, as to leave no doubt of the nature of their intimacy. He immediately quits VOL. I.

2 H

the house, and stung to the heart by the falsehood and guilt of his two friends, determines to resume his travels, and hide his inquietude in foreign countries. Old Wincott, who is extremely grieved at his departure, but remains ignorant of the cause, gives him a farewell entertainment, at which he of course meets the wife, and as soon as they are alone, the following scene takes place between them :

WIFE. You are sad, sir.
Y. GER. I know no cause.

WIFE. Tben can I show you some :
Who would be otherwise to leave a father
So careful and each way so provident ?
To leave so many and such worthy friends!
To abandon your own country? These are some :
Nor do I think you can be much the merrier
For my sake.

Y. GER. Now your tongue speaks oracles ;
For all the rest are nothing : 'tis for you,
Only for you I cannot.

WIFE. So I thought :
Why then have you been all this while so strange ?
Why will you travel ? suing a divorce
Betwixt us of love inseparable ;
For bere shall I be left as desolate
Unto a frozen, almost widowed bed;
Warm's only in that future, stor'd in you ;
For who can in your absence comfort me!

Y. GER. (Aside.) Shall my oppressed sufferance yet break forth
Into impatience, or endure her more ?

Wife. But since by no persuasion, no entreats,
Your settled obstinacy can be sway'd ;
Though you seem desperate of your own ear life,
Have care of mine, for it exists in you.
Oh, sir, should you miscarry, I were lost ---
Lost and forsaken; then by our past vows,
And by this hand once given me, by these tears,
Which are but springs begetting greater flood,
I do beseech thee, my dear Geraldine,
Look to thy safety, and preserve thy health;
Have care into what company you fall ;
Travel not late, and cross no dangerous seas ;
For till heaven bless me in thy safe return,
How will this poor heart suffer !

Y. GER. *(Aside.) I had thought
Long since the Syrens had been all destroy'd,
But one of them I find survives in her:
She almost makes me question what I know,
An heretic unto my own belief.
Oh ! thou seducer!

WIFE. What, no answer ?

Y. GER. Yes, thou hast spoke to me in showers,
I will reply in thunder! Thou adultress!
Thou hast more poison in thee than the serpent,
Who was the first that did corrupt thy sex,
The devil.

WIFE. To whom speaks the man?

Y. GER. To thee,
Falsest of all that ever man term'd fair!
Hath impudence so steel'd thy smooth soft skin
It cannot blush? Or sin so obdur'd thy heart

It doth not quake and treinble? Search thy conscience,
There thou shalt find a thousand clam'rous tongues
To speak as loud as mine doth.

Wife. Save from your's,
I here no noise at all.

Y. GER. I will play the doctor,
To open thy deaf ears. Monday, the ninth
Of the last month, canst thou remember that?
That night more black in thy abhorred sin,
Than in the gloomy darkness ? that the time.

WIFE. Monday?

Y. GER. Would'st thou the place know? Thy polluted chamber,
So often witness of my sinless vows.
Would'st thou the person? One not worthy name ;
Yet to torment thy guilty soul the more,
I'll tell him thee, that monster Dalavall.

- Midnight the hour!
The very words you spake ? Now what would Geraldine
Say, if he saw us here? To which was answer'd,
Tushľ he's a corcomb, fit to be so fool'd.
No blush! What, no faint fever on thee yet?
How have thy black sins changed thee! Thou Medusa !
Those hairs that late appear'd like golden wires,
Now crawl with snakes and addess. Thou art ugly!

Wife. And yet my glass, till now, ne'er told me so:
Who gave you this intelligence ?

Y. Ger. Only He
That pitying such innocence as mine,
Should by two such delinquents be betray'd,
He brought me to the place by miracle,
And made me an ear-witness to all this.

Wife. I am undone !

Y. GER. But think what thou hast lost
To forfeit me; I, notwithstanding these,
(So fix'd was my love and unalterable)
I kept this from thy husband; nay, all ears ;
With thy transgressions smothering my own wrongs,
In hope of thy repentance.

WIFE. Which begins
Thus low upon my knees.

Y. GER. Tush! bow to heaven,
Which thou hast most offended. I, alas !
(Save in such scarce unheard-of treachery)
Most sinful like thyself. Wherein, oh! wherein
Hath my unspotted and unbounded love
Deserv'd the least of these ? Sworn to be made
A stale for term of life, and this for my goodness!
Die ; and die soon ; acquit me of my oath ;
But prithee die repentant; farewell ever!
'Tis thou, and only thou, hast banish'd me

Both from my friends and country. This powerful appeal produces an instant effect-she swoons and dies heart broken-confessing her guilt to her husband. Dalavall absconds; young Geraldine consents to remain at home; and the play thus ends. To this plot is superadded one which well deserves detail, bad we space to give to it; it relates to the riotous behaviour of young Lionel, who takes advantage of his father's absence to lead a life of the most excessive disorder; the father returns suddenly, and then ensues a variety of stratagems on the part of Reignald, the servant of the young man, in order to deceive the father, and keep him in ignorance of his son's excesses. This Reigaald is, indeed, a most admirable “ Lying Valet,” and the whole affair is extremely well managed. In this play is to be found the passage which gave Cowley his idea of the “ naufragium joculare;” it is too long for extract, although richly meriting notice. The following, which relates to the second plot, and with which we shall conclude, is very much in the style of Shakspeare; it is put into the mouth of an honest old servant of Lionel

Prank it, do ;
Waste ; riot and consume ; mis-spend your hours
In drunken surfeits; lose your days in sleep,
And burn the nights in revels; drink and drab;
Keep Christmas all year long, and blot lean Lent
Out of the Calendar; all that mass of wealth
Got by my master's sweat and thrifty care,
Havock in prodigal uses; make't all flie;
Pour't down your oily throats, or send it smoking
Out at the tops of chimneys. At his departure
Was it the old man's charge to have his windows
Glisten all night with stars? his modest house
Turn'd to a common stew? his buttery hatch
Now made more common than a tavern bar?

THE STIRRUP-CUP.

FROM THE GERMAN

The night was one of great inclemency-it snowed and blew violently, when Hans Kirkenbeck departed homewards. His horse stood at the door, and in spite of the entreaties of his friends that he would partake of one goblet more, he disengaged himself from them, and rushed forth into the street. At that moment, a woman was passing -a tall, bony, wrinkled, grizzled, hag, enveloped in a cloak, the bood of which she had drawn over her head. As Hans passed out at the door, he pushed against her: “Out of the way, Hoodekin!” he exclaimed. She, quickly turning, echoed his words angrily, “ Hoodekin! Hoodekin! a merry night to you, Hans Kirkenbeck! the day will come when it would please you mightily to have a hood to cover your aching brow."--" Away with you, hag!” interrupted Hans; and at the same moment, Jacob Geuldtstein, one of his companions, came out from the house, and he also bade her depart in words of no pleasant sound. The woman then became very wroth, and said, “You are well spoken, gentlemen, both of you, and merry, I make no doubt; for you, Jacob, you have a wife, and for her sake, I forgive you; but hark you, Hans Kirkenbeck !” she exclaimed, at the same time extending both her arms within her cloak, “ for you! even as I shake off the snow from my withered limbs, Aake by flake, even so shall you fall to the earth piece by piece !” Then Hans and his friend became

• This is the name of a familiar spirit, a sort of Puck, so called, because a hoodekin, or little hood, was a part of his usual covering.

more angry with the woman, and drove her away with blows. And Hans mounted his horse, and prepared to depart; but his friend stayed him, insisting that he should at least partake of the stirrupcup, without which, it would be unfriendly to depart. Hans assented, and Jacob returned to the house to obtain it for him. In a few moments, the cup was presented; Hans seized it quickly, and as quickly drained it at a draught. An open hand waited to receive the goblet from him, he returned it, and was about to put spurs to his steed, when Jacob, issuing from the house, exclaimed to him loudly to stay. “Would you depart with a broken troth? I have brought you the cup," at the same time giving it to him. “I have already tasted it,” said Hans, putting it by with his hand.

“ Nay,” replied Geuldtstein,“ that cannot be ; did you not see me come from the house this instant ?"

“ I swear to you, man,” rejoined Hans, “ that I have ta’en of a cup which even now warmeth me, and whose taste is like bitter almonds.”

Tush," answered Jacob, shaking off the snow which had fallen upon his hair, “this is no night to listen to your jokes, will you pledge me? Aye, or no?

“ To thy health, man!" answered Hans; and the next moment the cup was returned, and Hans was on his road.

The snow had fallen so deep, that the streets resounded not to the tread of his horse, and oftentimes his progress was impeded by ledges, raised by the drifting wind; at length, however, he passed the barrier, and reached the open plain. The snow still fell heavily; the country, as well as he could see, appeared one huge whitened plain, and the line of road could only be discovered by here and there a well-knowu baiting house, an old cottage, or the bare arms of some long-remembered tree. For several miles his horse went forwards merrily, as if aware that his route was towards home ; but the continued beating of the snow, and its great depth, began to exhaust the animal's strength, and somewhat impeded his progress. Hans, however, whom the coldness of the night affected, kept him to his utmost speed by frequent applications of the spur; nor was it the cold alone that rendered Hans uncomfortable, the cups which his companions had pressed upon him began to produce their effect, and he often found himself much mistaken as to the nature of the objects before him. His thoughts 100 were confused, and the old woman, whom he had treated so scornfully, was ever uppermost in his mind-her maledictions hung upon his memory, nor could he forget that he had tasted of two stirrup-cups;“ but that," thought he, “must have been a trick of Jacob Geuldtstein, and yet I saw him come out of the house." Still he went onwards, but his condition became continually worse-racking pains shot across his brow, and the increase of snow, and his own incapacity, rendered it more and more difficult to keep his horse in the right track. The animal had, indeed, often travelled that road before, and Hans depended much upon that circumstance; "he," said Hans, thinking aloud," he did

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »