George Boyle.

The English and American poets and dramatists of the Victorian age. With biographical notices online

. (page 13 of 23)
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Makes glad whose frown is terrible whose forms.
Robed or unrobed, do all the impress wear
Of awe divine whose subject never kneels
In mockery, because it is your boast
To keep him free ! Ye guards of liberty,
I'm with you once again ! I call to you
With all my voice! I hold my hands to you
To show they still are free! I rush to you
As though I could embrace you!

Albert enters, with his back to TeU, not seeing ftim, and aiming at his mark.
Albert. I'll hit it now. (shoots.)

Tell. That's scarce a miss, that comes so near the mark!
Well aim'd, young archer! With what ease he bends
The bow! To see those sinews, who'd believe

11*



164

Such strength did lodge in them? (Albert shoots.) Well aim'd

again !

There plays the skill will thin the chamois' herd,
And bring the lammer-geyer from the cloud
To earth. Perhaps do greater feats perhaps
Make man its quarry, when he dares to tread
Upon his fellow man. That little arm,
His mother's palm can span, may help, anon,
To pull a sinewy tyrant from his seat,
And from their chains a prostrate people lift
To liberty. I'd be content to die,
Living to see that day. What, Albert !

Albert. Ah!
My father! (running to Tell, who embraces him.')

Emma, (running from the cottage.) William! - - Welcome!

welcome, William!

I did not look for you till noon. Joy's double joy,
. That comes before the time: it is a debt
Paid ere 'tis due, which fills the owner's heart
With gratitude, and yet 'tis but his own!
And are you well? And has the chase proved good?
How has it fared with you? Come in; I'm sure
You want refreshment.

Tell. No; I did partake

A herdsman's meal, upon whose lonely chalet
I chanced to light. I've had bad sport; my track
Lay with the wind, which to the start'lish game
Betray'd me still. Only one prize; and that
I gave mine humble host true that scaling yonder peak,
I saw an eagle wheeling near its brow:
O'er the abyss his broad expanded wings
Lay calm and motionless upon the air.
As if he floated there without their aid.
By the sole act of his unlorded will,
That buoy'd him proudly up. Instinctively
I bent my bow; yet kept he rounding still
His airy circle, as in the delight
Of measuring the ample range beneath
And round about: absorb'd, he heeded not
The death that threaten'd him. I could not shoot
'Twas liberty! I turned my bow aside,
And let him soar away.

The incident he has just mentioned recalls to Tell
the happy period of his marriage, and the days when
his country was still the land of freemen.

Tell. When I wedded thee,
The land was free. Oh! with what pride I used
To walk these hills, and look up to their Maker,



165

And bless Him that it was s<>. It was tree

From end to end, from cliff to lake 'twas five 1

How happy was I in it then! I lov'd

Its very storms! Yes, Emma, I have sat

In my boat at night, when, midway o'er the lake.

The stars went out, and down the mountain gorge

The wind came roaring I have sat- and eyed

The thunder breaking from his cloud, and smil'd

To see him shake his lightnings o'er my head,

And think I had no master save his own.

You know the jutting cliff, round which a track

Up hither winds, whose, base is but the brow

To such another one. with scanty room

For two a-breast to pass? O'ertaken there

By the mountain blast. I've laid me flat along,

And while gust followed gust more furiously.

As if to sweep me o'er the horrid brink;

And I have thought of other lands, whose storms

Are summer flaws to those of mine, and just

Have wished me there the thought that mine was free,

Has check'd that wish, and I have rais'd my head.

And cried in thraldom to that furious wind.

Blow on! This is the land of liberty!

Old Melctal soon after this appears, blinded as he
is by the cruel orders of Gesler.

Enter Old Melctal, a bandage round his eyes, led by Albert.

Old M. Where art thou, William?

Tell. Who is't?

Emma. Do you not know him?

Tell. No! It cannot be

The voice of Melctal!

Albert. Father, it is Melctal!

Emma. What ails you, Tell?

Albert. Oh, father, speak to him.

Emma. What passion shakes you thus?

Tell. His eyes where are they? -
Melctal has eyes.

Old M. Tell! Tell!

Tell. Tis Melctal's voice.

Where are his eyes? Have they put out his eyes?
Has Gesler turned the little evening of
The old man's life to-night before its time?
To such black night as sees not with the day
All round it! Father, speak! pronounce the name
Of Gesler!

Old M. Gesler!

Tell. Gesler has torn out

The old man's eyes! Support thy mother!

(Albert goes to Emma.



166

Erni? .Where's Erni? Where's thy son! Is he alive?
And are his father's eyes torn out?

Old M. He lives, my William,

But knows it not.

Tell. When he shall know it! Heavens!

When he shall know it! I am not thy son,
Yet-

E m m a. (alarmed at his increasing vehemence] William !
William!

Albert. Father!

Tell. Could I find

Something to tear to rend, were worth it! something
Most ravenous and bloody something like
Gesler! a wolf! no, no! a wolfs a lamb
To Gesler! 'Tis a natural hunger makes
The wolf a savage: and, savage as he is,
Yet with his kind he gently doth consort.
'Tis but his lawful prey he tears; and that
He finishes not mangles, and then leaves
To live! He hath no joy in cruelty but as
It ministers to his most needful want,
I would let the wolf go free for Gesler ! Water ! Water!
My tongue cleaves to its roof! (Emma goes into cottage.

Old M. What ails thee, William?
I pray thee, William, let me hear thy voice!
That's not thy voice!

Tell. I cannot speak to thee!

Emma, (returning, with water) Here, William!

Tell. Emma!

Emma. Drink !

Tell. I cannot drink!

Emma. Your eyes are fixed.

Tell. Melctal ! he has no eyes !

(bursts into tears.
The poor old man! (falls owMelctal's neck.

Old M. I feel thee, Tell! I care not

That I have lost my eyes. I feel thy tears
They're more to me than eyes! When I had eyes,
I never knew thee, William, as I know
Thee now without. I do not want my eyes!

In the plot Mr. Knowles has pretty closely fol-
lowed the French writer Florian. in his Guillaume Tell.
As originally composed, the tragedy contained five acts,
but Mr. Macready, thinking it too long for the some-
what meagre incidents, cut it down to three acts, altoge-
ther suppressing an ingenious and amusing underplot.
In this underplot, two young patriotic citizens of Altorf,



167

.Jagheli and .Michael, who love ivspeciively the Sene-
schal's daughter and uiece, obtain admission by a stra-
tagem into dVsler's castle, and not only succeed in
carrying off the fair ones, "nothing loath", but facilitate
the capture of the stronghold by Tell and his Swiss
bands. The annexed scene, in which Michael surprises
Jagheli rehearsing a serenade to liis mistress, will show
that Mr. Macready's excision has sacrificed much good
and humorous dialogue:

SONG.

Lady, you're so heavenly fair,

Though to love is madness, still
Who beholds you can't forbear,



Reason warns the heart in vain

Headlong- passion won't obey;
Hope's deceived, and sighs again!

Love's abjured, yet holds its sway !

Michael. I pray you, have the ditty o'er again!

Of all the strains that mewing minstrels sing

The lover's one for me. 1 could expire

To hear a man, with bristles on his chin,

Sing soft, with upturn'd eyes and arched brows.

Which tell of trickling tears that never fell.

And through the gamut whine his tender pain ;

While A and B and C such anguish speak

As never lover felt for mistress lost.

Let's have the strain again!
Jagheli. - To make thee mirth?

When I'm thy lackey, honest Michael, I'll

Provide thee music. I'm not in thy pay.
M. No, but I mean

To take thee into it. Wilt thou hire with me?

Nay, hang thy coyness, man! Why, thinkest thou

Thou art the only man in Altorf knows

The Seneschal has a fair daughter?
J. Fair

Or not, she's nought to me.
M. Indeed? Oh, then,

I'll tell her so.
J. You do not know her?
M. No;

For any profit it can bring to thee.

I pray thee, tell me, has she not black teeth?
J. Thou know'st 'twould take the pearl to challenge them.



168

M. Her nose, I think, is somewhat set awry?

J. It sits like dignity ou beauty's face.

M. Her hair is a dull black?

J. 'Tis shining gold.

M. Her figure's squat?

J. Between the full and slim -

A mould where vie the richest charms of both!

M. Well, then, she hobbles in her gait?

J. She moves, the light and flexible chamois, -
If you could lend the chamois her beauty,
And add to that her modest stateliness.

M. You are a hopeful painter, sir! How well
You've drawn the daughter of the Seneschal!

J. Good Michael, thou'rt a jester ; but thou'rt kind.
Thy mirth doth feed at every man's expense :
Yet with such grace of frankest confidence,
That none begrudge thee. Wilt thou be my friend?
I love the daughter of the Seneschal.
Help me to see her.

M. Come to church with me
Next Sunday.

J. I was there last Sunday, Michael -

And Sunday before last and Sunday, too,
Preceding that. I ne'er miss church, for there
I see the daughter of the Seneschal.

M. How wondrously devout thou'rt grown of late !
They say there is a young man in the church
That has his prayers by heart unless, indeed,
He reads them in a certain angel's face;
On which he looks, and says them word for word,
From end to end, nor e'er is seen to turn
To other page. Can it be thou they mean?
Thou'lt have a name for most rare sanctity!

J. Good Michael, can'st thou help me?

M. If I knew
The lady.

J. What! dost thou not know her then?
With what impediments is love environ'd!

M. Why, that's love's gain! It would not else be love.
Or wherefore sing it, as your poets do,
A thing that lives in plots and stratagems?
They know not love who need but woo to wed.
But they who fain would wed, but dare not woo!
That's to be sound in love to feel it from
The heart's deep centre to the fingers' ends!
As sweetest fruit is that which is forbid,
So fairest maid is she that is withheld.
Whene'er I fall in love, I'll pick a maid
Whose sire has vow'd her to a nunnery;
And she shall have, moreover, for her wardens,



169

Two maiden aunts past wooing, and to these
I'll add an abigail, who has stood bridesmaid
To twenty younger cousins, yet has ne'er
Been ask'd herself; and under her I'll set
A male retainer of the family,
For twenty years or more, as surly as
A mastiff on the chain; and, that my fair
May lack no sweet provocative of love,
Her tempting lattice shall be grated, and
Her bower shall be surrounded with a wall
Full ten feet high, on which an iron row
Of forked shrubs shall stand and frown on me .
And then I'll be a lover!

u The Hunchback", says Mr. Daniels, "is a noble
play. Massinger might have written it, and lost no
reputation by the authorship" Mr. Knowles himself,
who was. like Shakespeare, a respectable, though not
a great actor, was the original Master Walter, the
Hunchback. In the last scene of the play we discover,
that Master Walter was the eldest son of the Earl of
Knr.hdale. but disowned from infancy, and disinherited
by his father, who

- would not have a Hunchback for his sou;
and though this deformity, adds Master Walter,

was no act of mine,
Yet did it curdle nature's kindly milk
E'en where 'tis richest in a parent's breast -
To cast me out to heartless fosterage.
Not heartless always, as it prov'd and give
My portion to another!

The Hunchback finds a wife, notwithstanding, who
dies early, leaving him a daughter, and this daughter
he resolves to bring up in retirement, as his ward:
for, as he subsequently tells her,

jealousy of my misshapen back
Made me mistrustful of a child's affections
Who doubted e'en a wife's so that I dropp'd
The title of thy father, lest thy duty
Should pay the debt that love could solve alone.

All this we learn, only at the close of the fifth
act ; and till then must be satisfied with believing Julia
to be merely the ward of simple Master Walter, Lord



170

Rochdale's steward. In the first act we find Julia in
her country-house, with her cousin Helen as a visitor.
Helen loves the town, as Julia loves the country ; and
this difference of character gives occasion to a playful
discussion between the two young girls.

Helen.

The town's the sun, and thou hast dwelt in night

E'er since thy birth, not to have seen the town!

Their women there are queens, and kings their men:

Their houses palaces.
.T u 1 i a. And what of that ?

Have your town palaces a hall like this?

Couches so fragrant? walls so high adorn'd?

Casements with such festoons, such prospects, Helen.

As these fair vistas have? Your kings and queens!

See me a May-day queen, and talk of them!
Helen. Extremes are ever neighbours. 'Tis a step

From one to the other.

The odds are ten to one, that this day year

Will see our May-day queen a city one.
Julia. Never! I'm wedded to a country life.

0, did you hear what Master Walter says!

Nine times in ten, the town's a hollow thing,

Where what things are, is nought to what they shew;

Where merit's name laughs merit's self to scorn !

Where friendship and esteem, that ought to be

The tenants of men's hearts, lodge in their looks

And tongues alone. Where little virtue, with

A costly keeper, passes for a heap;

A heap for none that has a homely one!

Where Fashion makes the law your umpire, which

You bow to, whether it has trains or not.

Where Folly taketli off his cap and bells,

To clap on Wisdom, which must bear the jest!

Where to pass current, you must seem the thing.

The passive thing, that others think; and not

Your simple, honest, independent self!

The Hunchback arrives, and introduces Sir Thomas
( lliffbrd, a young gentleman whom Master Walter highly
esteems ; nor is it long till Sir Thomas proposes in due
form to Julia; but the young girl hesitates to give
an answer, and inquires:

Julia. You're from the town;

How comes it, sir, you seek a country wife?
( ' 1 i f f. In joining contrasts lieth love's delight.

Complexion, stature, nature, mateth it,



171

Not with their kinds, but with their opposites.

Hence hands of snow in palms of russet lie ;

The form of Hercules affects the sylph's;

And breasts that case the lion's fear-proof heart

Find their loved lodi^ in urms where tremors dwell!

So with degrees.

Hank passes by the circlet-graced brow,

Upon the forehead bare of notelessness

To print the nuptial kiss. As with degrees.

So is't with habits; therefore I, indeed

A gallant of the town, the town forsake,

To win a country wife.

Julia accepts Sir Thomas ; and in the next act we
find the whole party in London, whither they have come
to procure the trousseau of the bride, and make the
other wedding purchases. But Julia, once immersed in
the dissipation of polite London life, becomes completely
metamorphosed, and can speak and think of nothing
but the brilliant and fashionable life she intends to lead
as the wife of a wealthy baronet:

Julia. Helen I shall be

A happy wife! What routs, what balls, what masques.

What gala days! Think not, when I am wed,

I'll keep the house as owlet does her tower,

Alone, when every other bird's on wing.

I'll use my palfrey, Helen! and my coach;

My barge too, for excursion on the Thames;

What drives to Barnet, Hackney, Islington!

What rides to Epping, Hounslow, and Blackheath!

What sails to Greenwich, Woolwich, Fulham, Kew ;

I'll set a pattern to your lady wives!

And what a wardrobe! I'll have change of suits

For every day in the year! and sets for days!

My morning dress, my noon dress, dinner dress,

And evening dress! then will I show you lace

A foot deep, can I purchase it; if not,

I'll specially bespeak it. Diamonds too!

Not buckles, rings, and ear-rings only, but

Whole necklaces and stomachers of gems!

I'll shine! be sure I will. I will be known

For Lady Clifford all the City through,

And fifty miles the country round about.

Wife of Sir Thomas Cliiford, baronet, -

Not perishable knight! who, when he makes

A lady of me, doubtless must expect

To see me play the part of one.



172

This programme is accidentally overheard by Sir
Thomas, who somewhat hastily assumes that Julia
accepts him solely on account of his wealth; hence he
coldly informs her, that he will keep his word an.l
wed her ; that she shall be Lady Clifford, but also that
they shall part at the altar. This proposal Julia treats
as an insult, and the marriage is broken off. A new
suitor for Julia's hand now presents himself no other,
in fact, than Master Wilford, who, on the death of the
late Earl of Rochdale without issue, had succeeded to
the title and property, in spite of his distant relation-
ship. Julia, in a moment of pique, and ignorant of the
just claims of Master Walter to the earldom, signs a
marriage contract with the new Lord; but she has
scarcely done so when all her tenderness for Clifford
revives, and she intreats the Hunchback to save her
from the detested union. Master Walter assumes an
austere demeanour, and declares that his word has been
given, and the marriage contract signed. The wedding-
day at length arrives, and only then does the Hunch-
back reveal himself as Julia's father and the rightful
Earl of Rochdale; hence Wilford's signature as Earl
was valueless, and the marriage contract null and void.
While Julia has thus become an eaiTs daughter, Clifford
has suffered a reverse of fortune, but she proves her
affection and disinterestedness by becoming his wife.

One scene in the Hunchback is always sure of a good
reception from an English audience. The sprightly Helen
is loved by her bookworm cousin, Modus, who can never
muster courage to woo her, so that she has to meet
him more than half way. Julia and Master Walter are
both out, and Helen, in wandering through the house
meets Cousin Modus, with a book in his hand:

Helen. What's that you read?

Modus. Latin, sweet cousin.

Helen. 'Tis a naughty tongue

I fear, and teaches men to lie.
Modus. To lie!

Helen. You study it. You call your cousin sweet,
And treat her as you would a crab '). As sour

') The crab-apple, or wild apple, which is extremely sour.



173

Twould seem you think her, so you covet her!

Why how the monster stares, and looks about!

You construe Latin, and can't construe that.
Modus. I never studied women.
Helen. No: nor men.

Else would you better know their ways: nor read

In presence of a lady, (strikes book from his hand.)
Modus. Right you say,

And well you served me, cousin, so to strike

The volume from my hand. I own my fault;

So please you, may I pick it up again ?

I'll put it in my pocket!
Helen. Pick it up.

(aside) He fears me as I were his grandmother!

What is the book?

Modus. Tis Ovid's Art of Love.

Helen. That Ovid was a fool!
Modus. In what?

Helen. In that.

To call that thing an art, which art is none.
Modus. And is not love an art?
Helen. Are you a fool,

As well as Ovid? Love an art! No art

But taketh time and pains to learn. Love comes

With neither. Is't to hoard such grain as that

You went to college? Better stay at home,

And study homely English.
Modus. Nay, you know not

The argument.
Helen. I don't? I know it better

Than ever Ovid did. The face the form

The heart the mind we fancy, cousin ;

That's the argument. Why, cousin, you know nothing.

Suppose a lady were in love with thee,

Couldst thou by Ovid, cousin, find it out?

Couldst find it out. wert thou in love thyself?

Could Ovid, cousin, teach thee to make love?

I could, that never read him. You begin

With melancholy; then to sadness; then

To sickness; then to dying but not die;

She would not let thee, were she of my mind;

She'd take compassion on thee. Then for hope;

From hope to confidence ; from confidence

To boldness; then you'd speak; at first entreat;

Then urge; then flout; then argue; then enforce;

Make prisoner of her hand ; besiege her waist ;

Threaten her lips with storming; keep thy word

And carry her! My sampler 'gainst thy Ovid!

Why, cousin, are you frighten'd, that you stand

As you were stricken dumb? The case is clear,



174

You are no soldier. You'll never win a battle.

You care too much for blows!
M o d u s. You wrong me there.

At school I was the champion of my form.

And since I went to college

Helen. That for college ! (snapping her fingers.}

Modus. Nay. hear me!
Helen. Well ? What, since you went to college

You know what men are set down for, who boast

Of their own bravery. Go on, brave cousin,

What, since you went to college? W T as there not

One Quentin Halworth there? You know there was,

And that he was your master!
Modus. He my master!

Thrice was he worsted by me.
Helen. Still was he

Your master.
Modus. He allow'd I had the best!

Allow'd it, mark me! nor to me alone,

But twenty I could name.
Helen. And master'd you

At last! Confess it, cousin, "'tis the truth.

A proctor's daughter you did both affect

Look at me and deny it! Of the twain

She more affected you ; I've caught you now.

Bold cousin! Mark you? Opportunity

On opportunity she gave you, sir,

Deny it if you can ! but though to others,

When you discours'd of her, you were a flame :

To her you were a wick that would not light,

Though held in the very fire ! And so he won her

Won her, because he woo'd her like a man.

For all your cuffings, cuffing you again

With most usurious interest. Now, sir,

Protest that you are valiant!
Modus. Cousin Helen!

Helen. Well, sir?

Modus. The tale is all a forgery!

Helen. A forgery!

Modus. From first to last: ne'er spoke I

To a proctor's daughter while I was at college
Helen. 'Twas a scrivener's then or somebody's.

But what concerns it whose? Enough, you lov'd her!

And, shame upon you, let another take her.
M o d u s. Cousin, I tell you, if you'll only hear me,

I lov'd no woman while. I was at college

Save one, and her I fancied ere I went there.
Helen. Indeed! (aside) Now I'll retreat, if he's advancing.

Comes he not on! what a stock's the man?

Well, cousin?



175

Modus. Well! What more would'st have me say.

I think I've said enough.
Helen. And so think I.

I did but jest with you. You are not angry?

Shake hands! Why, cousin, do you squeeze me so' J
Modus, (letting her go) 1 swear I squeezed you not!
Helen. You did not?
Modus. No ! I'll die if I did !

Helen. Why then you did not, cousin.

So let's shake hands again (he takes her hand timidly;
she looks at him for a minute, then pettishly strikes hi.*
hand down) 0, go and now

Bead Ovid! (going off', but, returns) Cousin, will you tell
me one thing.

Wore lovers ruffs in Master Ovid's time?

Behov'd him teach them, then, to put them on ;

And that you have to learn. Hold up your head!

Wh} r , cousin, how you blush. Plague on the ruff!

I cannot give't a set. You're blushing still!

Why do you blush, dear cousin? So! 'twill beat me!

I'll give it up.

Modus. Nay, prithee don't try on!

Helen. And if I do. I fear you'll think me bold.
Modus. For what?

Helen. To trust my face so near to thine.

Modus. I know not what you mean.
Helen. I'm glad you don't!

Cousin, I own right well behaved you are,

Most marvellously well behaved! They've bred

You well at college. With another man

My lips would be in danger! Hang the ruff!
Modus. Nay, give it up, nor plague thyself, dear cousin.
Helen. Dear fool! (throws the ruff on the ground) I swear
the ruff is good for just

As little as its master! There! 'tis spoiled

You'll have to get another. Hie for it,

And wear it in the fashion of a wisp.

Ere I adjust it for thee ! Farewell, cousin !

You'd need to study Ovid's Art of Love.

Exit Helen.

The Wife, a Tale of Mantua, seems to have been
suggested by Massinger's Duke of Milan, though the two
pieces differ widely in the details. Leonardo Gonzaga.
the rightful Duke of Mantua, when wandering through
Switzerland, was rescued "from beneath an avalanche,
the sole survivor of a company", by Mariana's father,
and the young girl, ignorant of his rank, and knowing



176

only that he had come from Mantua, learned to love
him while attending his sick-bed:
Mariana. I loved indeed! If I but nursed a flower

Which to the ground the wind and rain had beaten.
That flower of all our garden was my pride:
What then was he to me, for whom I thought
To make a shroud, when, tending on him still
With hope, that, baffled still, did still keep up;
I saw, at last, the ruddy dawn of health
Begin to mantle o'er his pallid form,
And glow and glow till forth at last it burst
Into confirmed, broad, and glorious day!

The traveller, restored to health, returns home, and


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Online LibraryGeorge BoyleThe English and American poets and dramatists of the Victorian age. With biographical notices → online text (page 13 of 23)