« AnteriorContinuar »
custom, were put in prison ; both ordered to that they had no authority to ask questions. By ast and pray, every method being previously used the rules of witchcraft, when an evil spirit has o induce both to a confession of the truth. After taken possession, he may refuse to answer any
month's imprisonment, the hair of each was cut, questions asked him, unless they are put by a he bodies anointed with oil, the field of battle bishop, and to these he is obliged to reply. A appointed and guarded by soldiers, while his ma- bishop therefore was sent for, and now the whole jesty presided over the whole in person. Both the secret came out: the devil reluctantly owned that champions were sworn not to seek victory either he was a servant of the prior; that by his comby fraud or magic. They prayed and confessed mand he resided in his present habitation, and that upon their knees; and after these ceremonies the without his command he was resolved to keep in rest was left to the courage and conduct of the possession. The bishop was an able exorcist; he combatants. As the champion whom the prior drove the devil out by force of mystical arms; the had pitched upon had fought six or eight times prior was arraigned for witchcraft ; the witnesses upon similar occasions, it was no way extraordi- were strong and numerous against him, not less nary to find him victorious in the present combat. than fourteen persons being by, who heard the In short, the husband was discomfited; he was devil talk Latin. There was no resisting such a taken from the field of battle, stripped to his shirt, cloud of witnesses; the prior was condemned; and after one of his legs had been cut off, as jus- and he who had assisted at so many burnings, was tice ordained in such cases, he was hanged as a burned himself in turn. These were times, Mr. terror to future offenders. These, these were the Rigmarole; the people of those times were not intimes, Mr. Rigmarole ; you see how much more fidels, as now, but sincere believers !"-"Equally just, and wise, and valiant, our ancestors were than faulty with ourselves; they believed what the devil us."-"I rather fancy, madam, that the times then was pleased to tell them, and we seem resolved at were pretty much like our own; where a multi- last to believe neither God nor devil.” plicity of laws gives a judge as much power as a
“ After such a stain upon the convent, it was want of law, since he is ever sure to find among not to be supposed it could subsist any longer; the the number some to countenance his partiality.” fathers were ordered to decamp, and the house was
“Our convent, victorious over their enemies, once again converted into a tavern. The king now gave a loose to every demonstration of joy. conferred it on one of his cast mistresses; she was The lady became a nun, the prior was made a constituted landlady by royal authority, and as bishop, and three Wickliffites were burned in the the tavern was in the neighbourhood of the court, illuminations and fire-works that were made on the and the mistress a very polite woman, it began to present occasion. Our convent now began to en- have more business than ever, and sometimes took joy a very high degree of reputation. There was not less than four shillings a-day. not one in London that had the character of hating "But perhaps you are desirous of knowing what heretics so much as ours: ladies of the first dis- were the peculiar qualifications of a woman of tinction chose from our convent their confessors. fashion at that period ; and in a description of the In short, it flourished, and might have flourished present landlady you will have a tolerable idea of all to this hour, but for a fatal accident which termi- the rest. This lady was the daughter of a noblenated in its overthrow. The lady, whom the prior man, and received such an education in the counhad placed in a nunnery, and whom he continued try as became her quality, beauty, and great exto visit for some time with great punctuality, be- pectations. She could make shifts and hose for gan at last to perceive that she was quite forsaken. herself and all the servants of the family, when she Secluded from conversation, as usual, she now en- was twelve years old. She knew the names of the tertained the visions of a devotee; found herself four-and-twenty letters; so that it was impossible to strangely disturbed; but hesitated in determining bewitch her; and this was a greater piece of learnwhether she was possessed by an angel or a demon. ing than any lady in the whole country could preShe was not long in suspense; for upon vomiting tend to. She was always up early, and saw breaka large quantity of crooked pins, and finding the fast served in the great hall by six o'clock. At this palms of her hands turned outwards, she quickly scene of festivity, she generally improved good-huconcluded that she was possessed by the devil. mour by telling her dreams, relating stories of spiShe soon lost entirely the use of speech; and, rits, several of which she herself had seen, and one when she seemed to speak, every body that was of which she was reported to have killed with a present perceived that her voice was not her own, black-hafted knife. Hence she usually went to but that of the devil within her. In short, she was make pastry in the larder, and here she was followbewitched; and all the difficulty lay in determin- ed by her sweethearts, who were much helped on ing who it could be that bewitched her. The in conversation by struggling with her for kisses. nuns and the monks all demanded the magician's About ten, Miss generally went to play at hotname, but the devil made no reply; for he knew cockles and blind-man's buff in the parlour; and when the young folks (for they seldom played at those they had. All their fooleries were more hot-cockles when grown old) were tired of such elaborate, and more admired by the great and the amusements, the gentleman entertained Miss with vulgar than now. A courtier has been known the history of their greyhounds, bear-baitings, and to spend his whole fortune at a single feast, a victories at cudgel-playing. If the weather was king to mortgage his dominions to furnish out fine, they ran at the ring, shot at butts, while Miss the frippery of a tournament. There were certain held in her hand a riband, with which she adorned days appointed for riot and debauchery, and to be the conqueror. Her mental qualifications were sober at such times was reputed a crime. Kings oxactly fitted to her external accomplishments. themselves set the example; and I have seen meBefore she was fifteen she could tell the story of narchs in this room drunk before the entertainment Jack the Giant Killer, could name every mountain was half concluded. These were the times, sir, that was inhabited by fairies, knew a witch at first when kings kept mistresses, and got drunk in pubsight, and could repeat four Latin prayers without lic; they were too plain and simple in those happy a prompter. Her dress was perfectly fashionable ; times, to hide their vices, and act the hypocrite her arms and her hair were completely covered ; a as now."—"Lord! Mrs. Quickly," interrupting monstrous ruff was put round her neck, so that her her, "I expected to have heard a story, and here you head seemed like that of John the Baptist placed are going to tell me I know not what of times and in a charger. In short, when completely equipped, vices; prithee let me entreat thee once more to her appearance was so very modest, that she dis- wave reflections, and give thy history without de covered little more than her nose. These were the viation." times, Mr. Rigmarole; when every lady that had “No lady upon earth,” continued my visionary a good nose might set up for a beauty; when every correspondent, “knew how to put off her damaged woman that could tell stories might be cried up for wine or women with more art than she. When a wit.”—“I am as much displeased at those dresses these grew flat, or those paltry, it was but changing which conceal too much, as at those which discos- the names: the wine became excellent, and the er too much ; I am equally an enemy to a female girls agreeable. She was also possessed of the endunce or a female pedant.”
gaging leer, the chuck under the chin, winked at "You may be sure that Miss chose a husband a double entendre, could nick the opportunity of with qualifications resembling her own ; she pitch- calling for something comfortable, and perfectly ed upon a courtier, equally remarkable for hunting understood the discreet moments when to withand drinking, who had given several proofs of his draw. The gallants of these times pretty much great virility among the daughters of his tenants resembled the bloods of ours; they were fond of and domestics. They fell in love at first sight (for pleasure, but quite ignorant of the art of refining such was the gallantry of the times), were married, upon it; thus a court bawd of those times reseincame to court, and Madam appeared with superior bled the common low-lived harridan of a modern qualifications. The king was struck with her bagnio. Witness, ye powers of debauchery, how beauty. All property was at the king's command often I have been present at the various appearthe husband was obliged to resign all pretensions ances of drunkenness, riot, guilt, and brutality! A in his wife to the sovereign, whom God had anoint- tavern is the true picture of human infirmity: in ed to commit adultery where he thought proper. history we find only one side of the age exhibited The king loved her for some time; but at length to our view; but in the accounts of a tavern we see repenting of his misdeeds, and instigated by his every age equally absurd and equally vicious. father confessor, from a principle of conscience re- “Upon this lady's decease, the tavern was sucmoved her from his levee to the bar of this tavern, cessively occupied by adventures, bullies, pimps, and took a new mistress in her stead. Let it not and gamesters. Towards the conclusion of the surprise you to behold the mistress of a king de- reign of Henry VII. gaming was more universalgraded to so humble an office. As the ladies had ly practised in England than even now. Kings no mental accomplishments, a good face was themselves have been known to play off at Primeenough to raise them to the royal couch; and she ro, not only all the money and jewels they could who was this day a royal mistress, might the next, part with, but the very images in churches. The when her beauty palled upon enjoyment, be doom- last Henry played away, in this very room, not ed to infamy and want.
only the four great bells of St. Paul's cathedral, “ Under the care of this lady the tavern grew but the fine image of St. Paul which stood upon into great reputation ; the courtiers had not yet the top of the spire, to Sir Miles Partridge, who learned to game, but they paid it off by drinking; took them down the next day, and sold them by drunkenness is ever the vice of a barbarous, and auction. Have you then any cause to regret being gaming of a luxurious age. They had not such born in the times you now live in; or do you still frequent entertainments as the moderns have, but believe that human nature continues to run on de. were more expensive and more luxurious in clining every age? If we observe the actions of
the busy part of mankind, your ancestors will be is ever pleasing to me. I went some days ago to found infinitely more gross, servile, and even dis- take a walk in St. James's Park, about the hour honest than you. If, forsaking history, we only in which company leave it to go to dinner. There trace them in their hours of amusement and dissi- were but few in the walks, and those who stayed pation, we shall find them more sensual, more seemed by their looks rather more willing to forget entirely devoted to pleasure, and infinitely more that they had an appetite than gain one. I sat selfish.
down on one of the benches, at the other end of “The last hostess of note I find upon record was which was seated a man in very shabby clothes. Jane Rouse. She was born among the lower We continued to groan, to hem, and to cough, as ranks of the people; and by frugality and extreme usual upon such occasions; and at last ventured upon complaisance, contrived to acquire a moderate for- conversation. "I beg pardon, sir," cried I, “but I tune; this she might have enjoyed for many years, think I have seen you before; your face is familiar to had she not unfortunately quarrelled with one of me." "Yes, sir," replied he, “I have a good familiar her neighbours, a woman who was in high repute face, as my friends tell me. I am as well known for sanctity through the whole parish. In the in every town in England as the dromedary, or live times of which I speak, two women seldom quar- crocodile. You must understand, sir, that I have relled that one did not accuse the other of witch- been these sixteen years Merry Andrew to a pupcraft, and she who first contrived to vomit crooked pet-show : last Bartholomew-fair my master and I pins was sure to come off victorious. The scandal quarrelled, beat each other, and parted; he to sell of a modern tea-table differs widely from the scan- his puppets to the pincushion-makers in Rosemarydal of former times: the fascination of a lady's lane, and I to starve in St. James's Park.” eyes at present is regarded as a compliment: but “I am sorry, sir, that a person of your appearif a lady formerly should be accused of having ance should labour under any difficulties." "O witchcraft in her eyes, it were much better both for sir," returned he, "my appearance is very much her soul and body that she had no eyes at all. at your service; but, though I can not boast of eat
“In short, Jane Rouse was accused of witch-ing much, yet there are few that are merrier: if I craft; and though she made the best defence she had twenty thousand a-year I should be very mercould, it was all to no purpose; she was taken from ry; and, thank the Fates, though not worth a her own bar to the bar of the Old Bailey, condemn- groat, I am very merry still. If I have threepence ed, and executed accordingly. These were times in my pocket, I never refuse to be my three-halfindeed, when even women could not scold in safety: pence; and if I have no money, I never scorn to be
"Since her time the tavern underwent several treated by any that are kind enough to pay my revolutions, according to the spirit of the times, or reckoning. What think you, sir, of a steak and a the disposition of the reigning monarch. It was tankard? You shall treat me now; and I will treat this day a brothel, and the next a conventicle of you again when I find you in the Park in love with enthusiasts. It was one year noted for harbouring eating, and without money to pay for a dinner.” whigs, and the next infamous for a retreat to to- As I never refuse a small expense for the sake ries. Some years ago it was in high vogue, but of a merry companion, we instantly adjourned to a at present it seems declining. This only may be neighbouring ale-house, and in a few moments had Temarked in general, that whenever taverns flourish a frothing tankard and a smoking steak spread on most, the times are then most extravagant and the table before us. It is impossible to express how luxurious.” “Lord! Mrs. Quickly," interrupted much the sight of such good cheer improved my 1, "you have really deceived me; I expected a ro- companion's vivacity. “I like this dinner, sir," mance, and here you have been this half hour giv- says he, "for three reasons: first, because I am natuing me only a description of the spirit of the times; rally fond of beef; secondly, because I am hungry; if you have nothing but tedious remarks to com- and thirdly and lastly, because I get it for nothing: municate, seek some other hearer; I am determin- no meat eats as sweet as that for which we do not ed to hearken only to stories."
pay." I had scarcely concluded, when my eyes and
He therefore now fell to, and his appetite scemears seemed open to my landlord, who had been alled to correspond with his inclination. After dinthis while giving me an account of the repairs he ner was over, he observed that the steak was had made in the house ; and was now got into the tough; and yet, sir," returns he, "bad as it was, it story of the cracked glass in the dining-room. seemed a rump-steak to me. O the delights of
poverty and a good appetite! We beggars are the
very fondlings of nature; the rich she treats like ESSAY VI.
an arrant step-mother; they are pleased with no
thing; cut a steak from what part you will, and it I Am fond of amusement in whatever company is insupportably tough; dress it up with pickles, it is to be found; and wit, though dressed in rags, and even pickles can not procure you an appetite, But the whole creation is filled with good things and in order not to be overtaken, took the most unfor the beggar; Calvert's butt outtastes Cham- frequented roads possible. One evening as I was pagne, and Sedgeley's home-brewed excels Tokay. entering a village, I perceived a man, whom I afterJoy, joy, my blood, though our estates lie nowhere, wards found to be the curate of the parish, thrown we have fortunes wherever we go. If an inunda- from his horse in a miry road, and almost smothertion sweeps away half the grounus of Cornwall, I ed in the mud. He desired my assistance; I gate am content; I have no lands there : if the stocks it, and drew him out with some difficulty. He sink, that gives me no uneasiness; I am no Jew.” thanked me for my trouble, and was going off; but The fellow's vivacity, joined to his poverty, Iown, 1- followed him home, for I loved always to have a raised my curiosity to know something of his life man thank me at his own door. The curate ask. and circumstances; and I entreated that he woulded a hundred questions; as whose son I was; from indulge my desire. "That I will, sir,” said he, whence I came; and whether I would be faithful? "and welcome; only let us drink to prevent our I answered him greatly to his satisfaction; and sleeping; let us have another tankard while we are gave myself one of the best characters in the world awake; let us have another tankard; for, ah, how for sobriety (sir, I have the honour of drinking charming a tankard looks when full !
your health), discretion, and fidelity. To make a “You must know, then, that I am very well de- long story short, he wanted a servant, and hired scended;
l; my ancestors have made some noise in me. With him I lived but two months, we did the world; for my mother cried oysters, and my not much like each other: I was fond of eating, father beat a drum : I am told we have even had and he gave me but little to eat; I loved a pretty some trumpeters in our family. Many a nobleman girl, and the old wornan, my fellow-servant, was can not show so respectable a genealogy; but that ill-natured and ugly. As they endeavoured to is neither here nor there; as I was their only child, starve me between them, I made a pious resolution my father designed to breed me up to his own em- to prevent their committing murder: I stole the ployment, which was that of drummer to a pup- eggs as soon as they were laid ; I emptied every unpet-show. Thus the whole employment of my finished bottle that I could lay my hands on; whatyounger years was that of interpreter to Punch and ever eatable came in my way was sure to disapKing Solomon in all his glory. But though my pear: in short, they found I would not do; so I father was very fond of instructing me in beating was discharged one morning, and paid three shilall the marches and points of war, I made no very lings and sixpence for two months' wages. great progress, because I naturally had ro ear for "While my money was getting ready, I employ. music; so, at the age of fifteen, I went and listed ed myself in making preparations for my departure : for a soldier. As I had ever hated beating a drum, two hens were hatching in an out-house; I went so I soon found that I disliked carrying a musket and took the eggs from habit, and not to separate also; neither the one trade nor the other were to the parents from the children, I lodged hens and my taste, for I was by nature fond of being a gen- all in my knapsack. After this piece of frugality, tleman: besides, I was obliged toobey my captain; I returned to receive my money, and with my knaphe has his will
, I have mine, and you have yours: sack on my back, and a staff in my hand, I bade now I very reasonably concluded, that it was much adieu, with tears in my eyes, to my old benefactor. more comfortable for a man to obey his own will I had not gone far from tue house when I heard than another's.
behind me tho cry of Stop thief! but this only in"The life of a soldier soon therefore gave me creased my dispatch: it would have been foolish to the spleen; I asked leave to quit the service; but stop, as I knew the voice could not be levelled at as I was tall and strong, my captain thanked me me. But hold, I think I passed those two months for my kind intention, and said, because he had a at the curate's without drinking. Come, the times regard for me, we should not part. I wrote to my are dry, and may this be my poison if ever I spent father a very dismal penitent letter, and desired two more pious, stupid months in all my life. that he would raise money to pay for my discharge; "Well, after travelling some days, whom should but the good man was as fond of drinking as I was I light upon but a company of strolling players. (sir, my service to you), and those who are fond The moment I saw them at a distance, my heart of drinking never pay for other people's discharges: warmed to them; I had a sort of natural love for in short, he never answered my letter. What could every thing of the vagabond order: they were embe done? If I have not money, said I to myself, ployed in settling their baggage, which had been to pay for my discharge, I must find an equivalent overturned in a narrow way; I offered my assistsome other way; and that must be by running ance, which they accepted; and we soon became away. I deserted, and that answered my purpose so well acquainted, that they took me as a servant. every bit as well as if I had bought my discharge. This was a paradise to me; they sung, danced,
"Well, I was now fairly rid of my military em- drank, eat, and travelled, all at the same time. By ployment; I sold my soldier's clothes, bought worse, the blood of the Mirabels! I thought I had never
lived till then ; I grew as merry as a grig, and laugh- man for falling sick at so inconvenient a time, and ed at every word that was spoken. They liked that too of a disorder that threatened to be expenme as much as I liked them: I was a very good sive; I seized the moment, and offered to act the figure, as you see ; and, though I was poor, I was part myself in his stead. The case was desperate : not modest.
they accepted my offer; and I accordingly sat down, "I love a straggling life above all things in the with the part in my hand and a tankard before me world; sometimes good, sometimes bad ; to be warm (sir, your health), and studied the character, which today, and cold to-morrow; to eat when one can was to be rehearsed the next day, and played soon get it, and drink when (the tankard is out) it after. stands before me. We arrived that evening at "I found my memory excessively helped by Tenterden, and took a large room at the Grey- drinking: I learned my part with astonishing hound; where we resolved to exhibit Romeo and rapidity, and bade adieu to snuffing candles ever Juliet, with the funeral procession, the grave, and after
. I found that nature had designed me for the garden scene. Romeo was to be performed by more noble employments, and I was resolved to a gentleman from the Theatre Royal in Drury- take her when in the humour. We got together lane; Juliet, by a lady who had never appeared on in order to rehearse ; and I informed my comany stage before; and I was to snuff the candles : panions, masters now no longer, of the surprising all excellent in our way. We had figures enough, change I felt within me. Let the sick man, said I, but the difficulty was to dress them. The same be under no uneasiness to get well again : I'll fill coat that served Romeo, turned with the blue lining his place to universal satisfaction; he may even die outwards, served for his friend Mercutio : a large if he thinks proper; I'll engage that he shall never piece of crape sufficed at once for Juliet's petticoat be missed. I rehearsed before them, strutted, rantand pall: a pestle and mortar, from a neighbouring ed, and received applause. They soon gave out apothecary's, answered all the purposes of a bell; that a new actor of eminence was to appear, and and our landlord's own family, wrapped in white immediately all the genteel places were bespoke. sheets, served to fill up the procession. In short, Before I ascended the stage, however, I concluded there were but three figures among us that might within myself, that as I brought money to the be said to be dressed with any propriety : I mean house, I ought to have my share in the profits. the nurse, the starved apothecary, and myself. Our Gentlemen, said I, addressing our company, I don't performance gave universal satisfaction: the whole pretend to direct you; far bo it from me to treat audience were enchanted with our powers. you with so much ingratitude: you have published
“There is one rule by which a strolling player my name in the bills with the utmost good-nature, may be ever secure of success; that is, in our theatri- and, as affairs stand, can not act without me: so, cal way of expressing it, to make a great deal of gentlemen, to show you my gratitude, I expect to the character. To speak and act as in common be paid for my acting as much as any of you, otherlife is not playing, nor is it what people come to wise 1 declare off; I'll brandish my snuffers, and see: natural speaking, like sweet wine, runs glibly clip candles as usual. This was a very disagreeover the palate, and scarcely leaves any taste be- able proposal, but they found that it was impossible hind it; but being high in a part resembles vinegar, to refuse it; it was irresistible, it was adamant: which grates upon the taste, and one feels it while they consented, and I went on in king Bajazet; my he is drinking. To please in town or country, the frowning brows bound with a stocking stuffed into way is to cry, wring, cringe into attitudes, mark a turban, while on my captived arms I brandished the emphasis, slap the pockets, and labour like one a jack-chain. Nature seemed to have fitted me for in the falling sickness; that is the way to work for the part; I was tall, and had a loud voice; my very applause ; that is the way to gain it.
entrance excited universal applause; I looked "As we received much reputation for our skill round on the audience with a smile, and made a on this first exhibition, it was but natural for me most low and graceful bow, for that is the rule to ascribe part of the success to myself: I snuffed among us. As it was a very passionate part, I inthe candles, and let me tell you, that, without a vigorated my spirits with three full glasses (the candle-snuffer the piece would lose half its embel- tankard is almost out) of brandy. By Alla! it is lishments. In this manner we continued a fort- almost inconceivable how I went through it; night, and drew tolerable houses, but the evening Tamerlane was but a fool to me; though he was before our intended departure, we gave out our sometimes loud enough too, yet I was still louder very best piece, in which all our strength was to be than he: but then, besides, I had attitudes in exerted. We had great expectations from this, abundance ; in general I kept my arms folded up and even doubled our prices, when behold one of thus, upon the pit of my stomach ; it is the way at the principal actors fell ill of a violent fever. This Drury-lane, and has always a fine effect. The was a stroke like thunder to our little company : tankard would sink to the bottom before I could they were resolved to go in a body, to scold the get through the whole of my merits : in short, I