« PreviousContinue »
shewed them wherefore he sent for them, as how he had found his son in this default, for the which he said his intent was to put him to death, as he had well deserved. Then all the people answered to that case with one voice, and said, “Sir, saving your grace, we will not that Gaston should die ; he is your heir, and ye have no more.' And when the count heard the people, how they desired for his son, he somewhat refrained his ire. Then he thought to chastise him in prison a month or two, and then to send him on some voyage for two or three years, till he might somewhat forget his evil will, and that the child might be of greater age and of more knowledge.
" Then he gave leave to all the people to depart; but they of Foix would not depart from Orthes till the count should assure them that Gaston should not die ; they loved the child so well. Then the count promised them, but he said he would keep him in prison a certain time to chastise him; and so upon this promise every man departed, and Gaston abode still in prison.
“These tidings spread abroad into divers places, and at that time Pope Gregory the Eleventh was at Avignon. Then he sent the Cardinal of Amiens in legation into Bierne, to have come to the Count of Foix for that business. And by that time he came to Beziers, he heard such tidings that he needed not to go any further for that matter ; for there he heard how Gaston, son of the Count of Foix, was dead. Since I have showed you so much, now I shall show you how he died.
“The Count of Foix caused his son to be kept in a dark chamber, in the town of Orthes, a ten days ; little did he eat or drink, yet he had enough brought him every day, but when he saw it he would go therefrom, and set little thereby. And some said that all the meat that had been brought him stood whole and entire the day of his death, wherefore it was great marvel that he lived so long, for divers reasons. The count caused him to be kept in the chamber alone, without any company, either to counsel or comfort him; and all that season the child lay in his clothes as he came in, and he argued in himself, and was full of melancholy, and cursed the time that ever he was born and engendered, to come to such an end.
"The same day that he died, they that served him of meat and drink, when they came to him, they said, 'Gaston, here is meat for you ;' he made no care thereof and said, 'Set it down there.' He that served him regarded and saw in the prison all the meat stand whole as it had been brought him before, and so departed and closed the chamber-door, and went to the count and said, “Sir, for God's sake have mercy on your son, Gaston, for he is near famished in prison ; there he lieth. I think he never did eat any thing since he came into prison, for I have seen there this day all that ever I brought him before, lying together in a corner.' Of these words the count was sore displeased ; and without any word speaking, went out of his chamber, and came to the prison where his son was, and in an evil hour. He had the same time a little knife in his hand to pare withal his nails. He opened the prison door and came to his son, and had the little knife in his hand, and in great displeasure he thrust his hand to his son's throat, and the point of the knife a little entered into his throat, into a certain vein, and said, 'Ah, traitor! why dost not thou eat thy meat ?' And therewith the count departed without any more doing or saying, and went into his own chamber. The child was abashed, and afraid of the coming of his father, and also was feeble of fasting, and the point of the knife a little entered into a vein of his throat, and so he fell down suddenly and died. The count was scarcely in his chamber, but the keeper of the child came to him, and said,
Sir, Gaston, your son, is dead!' Dead ?' quoth the count. Yea, truly, Sir, answered he. The count would not believe it, but sent thither a squire that was by him, and he went, and came again, and said, 'Sir, surely he is dead.' Then the count was sore displeased and made great complaint for his son, and said, 'Ah,
teab on and
Gaston ! what a poor adventure is this for thee, and for me! In an evil hour thou wentest to Navarre to see thy mother; I shall never have the joy that I had before!' Then the count caused his barber to shave him, and clothed himself in black, and all his house, and with much sore weeping the child was borne to the Friars in Orthes, and there buried.
* Thus, as I have showed you, the Count of Foix slew Gaston, his son ; but the King of Navarre gave the occasion of his death."
3.-OLD DRAMATIC POETS.
SCENES FROM THE CITY MADAM.
MASSINGER. [PHILIP MASSINGER, one of the most illustrious of the successors of Shakspere, was born at Salisbury, in 1584. His father was in the household of the Earl of Pembroke. He was probably sent to college by the earl: but the favour of the great man appears to have been withdrawn from him in his mature years. He became a writer for the stage, and there is distinct evidence that his genius scarcely gave him bread. His dramas, which have been collected by Gifford, in four volumes, are of unequal merit; but of some the dramatic power, the characterization, the poetry, and the exhibition of manners, are of the very highest order. Massinger died in 1640.
In selecting a few scenes from The City Madam,' we endeavour to connect them with the plot, and with each other, by very slight links.]
SCENE I. Sir John Frugal is a city merchant; his wife and two daughters of extravagant habits and boundless pride. Luke is brother to Sir John Frugal-a dependant on his bounty, having spent all his own substance. Lady Frugal and her daughters are first shown as treating Luke with unmitigated scorn and tyranny :
Lady Frugal. Very good, Sir,
Luke. Drunk, an't please you !
L. Frugal. Drunk, I said, sirrah ! dar'st thou, in a look,
Luke. I confess I am
L. Frugal. And good reason why
Anne. Who did new clothe you?
Milliscent (Lady Frugal's maid). Allow'd you
L. Frugal. Or from whom
Luke. I owe all this
SCENE II. Lord Lacy is a nobleman who is desirous that his son should marry one of the rich merchant's daughters. His deportment to Luke is a contrast to the vulgar insolence of Lady Frugal and her daughters :-
Lord Lacy. Your hand, Master Luke: the world's much changed
Luke. I have paid dear
L. Lasy. I nor do, nor will;
Luke. Beyond my merit, I thank his goodness for 't.
SCENE III. The extravagance and pride of The City Madam' and her daughters, who have rejected the suit of two honourable men in the wantonness of their ambition, determine Sir John Frugal, in concert with Lord Lacy, to give out that he has retired into a monastery, and has left all his riches to his brother. Luke soliloquises upon his greatness :
Luke. 'Twas no fantastic object, but a truth,
And could wake over with a brooding eye
SCENE IV. Luke, who, in his abasement, was all gentleness and humility, treats his brother's debtors with the most wanton harshness; and degrades his sister-in-law and nieces to the condition of menials. The ladies appear before him, clothed in the coarsest weeds :
Luke. Save you, sister!
Such things as were born and bred there. Why should you ape
L. Frugal. Is this spoken
Luke. Fie! no; with judgment. I make good
L. Frugal. It is confess'd, sir.
L. Frugal. That, if you please, forgotten, we acknowledge
Luke. 'Tis my purpose.
Luke. Admired rather,
L. Frugal. We are bound to hear you.
Luke. With a soul inclined to learn. Your father was
Milliscent. Pray you, leave preaching, or choose some other text;
Luke. Peace, chattering magpie!