Page images
PDF
EPUB

with?" Shade of Cervantes! who in thy second part could put into the mouth of thy Quixote those high aspirations of a superchivalrous gallantry, where he replies to one of the shepherdesses, apprehensive that he would spoil their pretty networks, and inviting him to be a guest with them, in accents like these: "Truly, fairest lady, Acteon was not more astonished when he saw Diana bathing herself at the fountain, than I have been in beholding your beauty: I commend the manner of your pastime, and thank you for your kind offers; and, if I may serve you, so I may be sure you will be obeyed, you may command me; for ny profession is this, to show myself thankful, and a doer of good to all sorts of people, especially of the rank that your person shows you to be; and if those nets, as they take up but a little piece of ground, should take up the whole world, I would seek out new worlds to pass through, rather than break them: and, (he adds,) that you may give credit to this my exaggeration, behold at least he that promiseth you this is Don Quixote de la Mancha, if haply this name hath come to your hearing." Illustrious romancer! were the "fine phrensies" which possessed the brain of thy own Quixote a fit subject, as in this second part, to be exposed to the jeers of duennas and serving-men? to be monstered, and shown up at the heartless banquets of great men? Was that pitiable infirmity, which in thy first part misleads him, always from within, into half-ludicrous, but more than half-compassionable and admirable errors, not infliction enough from Heaven, that men by studied artifices must devise and practise upon the humour, to inflame where they should sooth it? Why, Goneril would have blushed to practise upon the abdicated king at this rate, and the she-wolf Regan not have endured to play the pranks upon his fled wits, which thou hast made thy Quixote suffer in dutchesses' halls, and at the hands of that unworthy nobleman.*

In the first adventures, even, it needed all the art of the most consummate artist in the book way that the world hath yet seen, to keep up in the mind of the reader the heroic attributes of the character without relaxing; so as absolutely that they shall suffer no alloy from the debasing fellowship of the clown. If it ever obtrudes itself as a disharmony, are we inclined to laugh; or not, rather, to indulge a contrary emotion? Cervantes, stung, perchance, by the relish with which his reading public had received the fooleries of the man, more to their palates than the generosities of the master, in the sequel let his pen run riot, lost the harmony and the bal

Yet from this second part, our cried-up pictures are mostly selected; the waiting-women with beards, &c.

ance, and sacrificed a great idea to the taste of his contemporaries. We know that in the present day the knight has fewer admirers than the squire. Anticipating, what did actually happen to him-as afterward it did to his scarce inferior follower, the author of → Guzman de Alfarache"-that some less knowing hand would prevent him by a spurious second part; and judging that it would be easier for his competitor to outbid him in the comicalities, than in the romance, of his work, he abandoned his knight, and has fairly set up the squire for his hero. For what else has he unsealed the eyes of Sancho; and instead of that twilight state of semi-insanity—the madness at second-hand—the contagion, caught from a stronger mind infected—that war between native cunning and hereditary deference, with which he has hitherto accompanied his master-two for a pair almost-does he substitute a downright knave, with open eyes, for his own ends only following a confessed madman; and offering at one time to lay, if not actually laying, hands upon him! From the moment that Sancho loses his reverence, Don Quixote is become—a treatable lunatic. Our artists handle him accordingly.

REJOICINGS UPON THE NEW YEAR'S COMING OF AGE.

THE Old Year being dead, and the New Year coming of age, which he does, by calendar law, as soon as the breath is out of the old gentleman's body, nothing would serve the young spark but he must give a dinner upon the occasion, to which all the Days in the year were invited. The Festivals, whom he deputed as his stewards, were mightily taken with the notion. They had been engaged time out of mind, they said, in providing mirth and good cheer for mortals below; and it was time they should have a taste of their own bounty. It was stiffly debated among them, whether the Fasts should be admitted. Some said the appearance of such lean, starved guests, with their mortified faces, would pervert the ends of the meeting. But the objection was overruled by Christmas Day, who had a design upon Ash Wednesday, (as you shall near,) and a mighty desire to see how the old domine would behave himself in his cups. Only the Vigils were quested to come with their lanterns, to light the gentlefolks home at night.

re

All the Duys came to their day. Covers were provided for three hundred and sixty-five guests at the principal table ; with an occasional knife and fork at the sideboard for the Twenty-ninth of February.

I should have told you that cards of invitation had been issued. The carriers were the Hours ; twelve little, merry, whirligig foot-pages, as you should desire to see, that went all round, and found out the persons invited well enough, with the exception of Easter Day, Shrove Tuesday, and a few such Moveables, who had lately shisted their quarters.

Well, they all met at last, foul Days, fine Days, all sorts of Days, and a rare din they made of it. There was nothing but, Hail! fellow Day-well met— brother Day-sister Duy, -only Lady Day kept a little on the aloof, and seemed somewhat scornful. Yet some said, Twelfth Day cut her out and out, for she came in a tiffany suit, white and gold, like a queen on a frost-cake, all royal, glittering, and Epiphanous. The rest came, some in green, some in white--but old Lent and his family were not yet out of mourning. Rainy Days came in, dripping; and sunshiny Days helped them to change their stockings. Wedding Day was there in his marriage finery, a little the worse for wear. Pay Day came late, as he always does; and Doomsday sent word-he might be expected.

April Fool (as my young lord's jester) took upon himself to marshal the guests, and wild work he made with it. It would have posed old Erra Pater to have found out any given Day in the year to erect a scheme upon-good Days, bad Days, were so shufled together, to the confounding of all sober horoscopy.

He had stuck the Twenty-first of June next to the Twentysecond of December, and the former looked like a maypole siding a marrow-bone. Ash Wednesday got wedged in (as was concerted) between Christmas and Lord Mayor's Days. Lord! how he laid about him! Nothing but barons of beef and turkeys would go down with him— to the great greasing and detriment of his new sackcloth bib and tucker. And still Christmas Day was at his elbow, plying him with the wassail-bowl, till he roared, and hiccoughed, and protested there was no faith in dried ling, but commended it to the devil for a sour, windy, acrimonious, censorious, hy-po-crit-critcritical mess, and no dish for a gentleman. Then he dipped his fist into the middle of the great custard that stood before his left-hand neighbour, and daubed his hungry beard all over with it, till you would have taken him for the Last Day in December, it so hung in icicles.

At another part of the table, Shrove Tuesday was helping

the Second of September to some cock-broth-which courtesy the latter returned with the delicate thigh of a hen pheasant -so there was no love lost for that matter. The Last of Lent was sponging upon Shrovetide's pancakes; which April Fool perceiving, told him he did well, for pancakes were proper to a good fry-day.

In another part, a hubbub arose about the Thirtieth of January, who, it seems, being a sour, Puritanic character, that thought nobody's meat good or sanctified enough for him, had smuggled into the room a calf's head,which he had had cooked at home for that purpose, thinking to feast thereon incontinently; but as it lay in the dish, March Many weathers, who is a very fine lady, and subject to the megrims, screamed out there was a " · human head in the platter," and raved about Herodias' daughter to that degree, that the obnoxious viand was obliged to be removed; nor did she recover her stomach till she had gulped down a Restorative, confected of Oak Apple, which the merry Twenty-ninth of May always carries about with him for that purpose.

The king's health* being called for after this, a notable dispute arose between the Twelfth of August (a zealous old whig gentlewoman) and the Twenty-third of April, (a new-fangled lady of the tory stamp,) as to which of them should have the honour to propose it. August grew hot upon the matter, affirming time

out of mind the prescriptive right to have lain with her, till her rival had basely supplanted her; whom she represented as little better than a kept mistress, who went about in fine clothes, while she (the legitimate BIRTHDAY) had scarcely a rag, &c.

April Fool, being made mediator, confirmed the right in the strongest form of words to the appellant, but decided for peace' sake that the exercise of it should remain with the present possessor. At the same time, he slily rounded the first lady in the ear, that an action might lie against the crown for bigeny.

It beginning to grow a little duskish, Candlemas lustily bawled out for lights, which was opposed by all the Days who protested against burning daylight. Then fair water was handed round in silver ewers, and the same lady was observed to take an unusual time in washing herself.

May Day, with that sweetness which is peculiar to her, in a neat speech proposing the health of the founder, crowned her goblet (and by her example the rest of the company) with garlands. This being done, the lordly New Year from the upper end of the table, in a cordial but somewhat lofty

The late king.

tone, returned thanks. He felt proud on an occasion of meeting so many of his worthy father's late tenants, promised to improve their farms, and, at the same time, to abate (if anything was found unreasonable) in their rents.

At the mention of this, the four Quarter Days involuntarily looked at each other, and smiled; April Fool whistled to an old tune of "New Brooms;" and a surly old rebel at the farther end of the table (who was discovered to be no other than the Fifth of November) muttered out, distinctly enough to be heard by the whole company, words to this effect, that, "when the old one is gone, he is a fool that looks for a better." Which rudeness of his the guests, resenting, unanimously voted his expulsion; and the malecontent was thrust out neck and heels into the cellar, as the properest place for such a boutefeu and firebrand as he had shown himself to be.

Order being restored-the young lord (who, to say truth, had been a little ruffled, and put beside his oratory) in as few, and yet as obliging words as possible, assured them of entire welcome; and, with a graceful turn, singling out poor Twentyninth of February, that had sat all this while mumchance at the sideboard, begged to couple his health with that of the good company before him-which he drank accordingly; observing, that he had not seen his honest face any time these four years with a number of endearing expressions besides. At the same time, removing the solitary Day from the forlorn seat which had been assigned him, he stationed him at his own board, somewhere between the Greek Calends and Latter Lammas.

Ash Wednesday, being now called upon for a song, with his eyes fast stuck in his head, and as well as the Canary he had swallowed would give him leave, struck up a carol, which Christmas Day had taught him for the nonce; and was followed by the latter, who gave "Miserere" in fine style, hitting off the mumping notes and lengthened drawl of Old Mortification with infinite humour. April Fool swore they had exchanged conditions: but Good Friday was observed to look extremely grave; and Sunday held her fan before her face, that she might not be seen to smile.

Shrovetide, Lord Mayor's Day, and April Fool, next joined in a glee

"Which is the properest day to drink?"

in which all the Days chiming in, made a merry burden.

They next fell to quibbles and conundrums. The question being proposed, who had the greatest number of followersthe Quarter Days said, there could be no question as to that,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »