« PreviousContinue »
penal code of laws in this country, would study the Newgate Calendar, they would arm themselves with proofs sufficient to satisfy the most obstinate parliament.
ART. V.-The Extravagant Shepherd, or the History of the
Shepherd Lysis, an anti-Romance, written originally in French, and now made English. London, 1654. Printed by T. Newcomb for Thomas Heath, in Russel Street, near the Piazzas, Covent Garden.
We are not of the number of those who seek to drive all folly from the world, or pursue poor trembling nonsense to its last hiding place, with the staunch pack of arguments in full cry against her, which modern wisdom is so ready to furnish. As brother Jack in the Tale of a Tub, in stripping the lace and embroidery, took part of the garment along with it, so we are inclined to think, those who strip life closely of the gildings of fancy, tear off a portion (frequently a sweet portion) of one sense of existence, for which the cold realities they leave, afford no succedaneum. In the spring-time of life it is, at least, pleasant, and not unbecoming, to give way to enthusiastic conceptions of the great in character, and the wonderful in fortune, and pursue with rapt attention the chivalrous hero in deeds beyond the power of man, and gaze in idea on damsels of more than mortal beauty. We think, even in advanced life, somewhat of the same spirit may be admitted ; there is little fear that the many cares, the cold calculations, the necessary precautions, the weighty business, and the important duties of life, will not unavoidably and sufficiently impede the luxuriance of its growth.
In fact, the old romance is now so completely passed away, that but for the cares of a Retrospective Reviewer, who now and then opens the long forgotten pages of the Arcadia, we should forget that “ such things were,” and “ were most dear” too, to many a tender bosom, and many a gallant spirit, once highly gifted with all the powers of reasoning, and who trod their appointed path, not only with the lofty bearing and noble purity ascribed to the heroes they studied; but with a discretion, prudence, and self-controul, rarely attained without that exercise of piety and religious humility, which always mingled in their perceptions of heroic greatness.
an openset that tender all the
they arely, at
The Extravagant Shepherd is intended unquestionably by his Creator to exhibit as perfect an image of the Arcadian shepherd, as the knight of La Mancha afforded of all knight errantry; and though with inferior powers, ‘and also an inferior subject, to that of the inimitable Cervantes, it is yet but justice to say, that the work abounds with wit, and the situations of the Shepherd are sometimes most happily ludicrous.
The work is dedicated to Mary Countess of Winchester, in the usual style of the time, 1654, and in a strain of clever adulation, from which Dryden himself might have copied, and which we would have quoted, did we not think the space it would occupy better employed, in opening the story, which thus commences.
“Feed on, feed on, dear sheep, my dear companions! The Deity which I adore hath undertaken to reduce into these places the felicity of the first ages: and Love himself, who acknowledges a respect to her, stands with his bow in hand at the entrance of the woods and caves, to destroy the wolves that should assault you. All nature adores Charité: the sun, seeing she gives us more light than himself, hath now no more to do in our horizon; and 'tis only to see her, that he appears there. But return, bright star! if thou wilt not be eclipsed by her, and so become ridiculous to mortals : do not pursue thy own shame and misfortune, but rather cast thyself into the bed which Amphitrite hath prepared for thee, and sleep by the noise of her waves.
“ These were the words that were overheard one morning, by some that could understand them, in a meadow upon the river of Seine near St. Cloud. He that spake them drove before him half a dozen mangy, sheep, which were but the refuse of the butchers of Poissy. But if his flock was in so ill a posture, his habit was so fantastick in amends thereof, that it was easily discovered he was some shepherd of quality. He had a straw hat, with the edges turned up; a cassock and breeches of white tabby; a pair of gray pearly silk stockings on, and white shoes with green taffata knots. He wore a scarf, had a scrip of foyne-skin, and a sheep-hook, as well painted as the staff of a master of ceremonies. So that considering all this equipage, he was almost like Bellerosa, going to represent Myrtil in the pastoral of the Faithful Shepherd. His hair was rather flaxen than red; but naturally curled into so many rings, as sufficed to demonstrate the dryness of his head. His countenance had some features, which rendered it graceful enough, if his sharp nose and his gray eyes, half asquint, and almost buried in his head, had not made him appear somewhat ghastly; shewing those that understood any thing of physiognomy, that his brain was not of the soundest.
" A young gentleman of Paris having perceived him afar off, was somewhat astonished at his extraordinary garb; and discontinuing his walk, came and hid himself somewhat near him, behind a haycock; where he was so far from making any noise, that he hardly durst dis
miss his breath. He saw him walk with paces as grave and measured as a Swiss captain, and heard him pronounce words with such animation as if he had been on a stage: which made him believe that he had conned the part of some stage-play wherein he was to be an actor, as indeed they had a little before acted one at St. Cloud.”
This poetical personage proceeds to inform Anselme (the gentleman), that he has adopted the name of Lysis, and that he is enamoured of a certain virgin, vulgarly called Catherine, but by him yclep'd Charité ; displays to him a withered pink, which she had cast from her breast, and a scrap of torn leather from her shoe, as the inestimable relics on which his eyes, and of course his heart, were fed ; describes her person with all the hyperbole of a romantic lover, and, in the course of his narrative, reveals, that Charité is no other than the waitingwoman of one Angelica, who is the acquaintance of Anselme.
Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Adrian, a mercer from Paris, the uncle of the run-away shepherd, who, considering him mad, sought to place him in confinement--he is a plain matter-of-fact person, and thus describes the state of his relation.
“ To come to my tale: Lewis's father and mother being dead, I was chosen his guardian, as being the next of kindred. He had already gone through his studies at the college of Navar, and cost his friends more money than his weight. He was eighteen years of age, or thereabouts : I told him it was time for him to bethink himself what course of life he would follow; that he was not brought up to learning, to the end he might idle away his time; and that he was old enough to make his own choice how to dispose of himself. For to try him farther, I asked him whether he had any inclination to be a draper, as I am myself: but he answering me, that he aspired to somewhat more noble, I was not any thing displeased at him. He tabled at my house, and I sent him to certain masters in Paris, who teach the trade of councellors. They are a sort of people that are so expert, that when a young man is to be received a disciple, they undertake to teach him in one month all that he hath to answer, as if it were but to teach him to whistle, as one would do a starling; so that of an ignorant school-boy, they ever make a learned lawyer. My cousin studied a year under them, and was sent thither to no other purpose: yet could he never be persuaded to put on the long-robe. Instead of law-books, he bought none but a sort of trashy books, called romances; cursed be those that have made them! They are worse than hereticks : the books of Calvin are not so damnable; at least those speak not of any more Gods than one, and the others talk of a great many, as if we still lived in those heathen times which worshipped blocks hewn into the shape of men. It doth not a little disturb the minds of young people, who as in those books they find nothing so much mentioned as playing, dancing, and merry-making with young
gentlewomen, so would they do the like, and thereby incur the dis. pleasure of their friends. Those books are good for your medleygentlemen of the country, who have nothing to do all day, but to walk up and down and pick their nails in an out-chamber: but as for the son of a citizen, he should not read any thing, unless it were the royal ordinances, the Civility of Children, or Patient Grizzle, to make himself merry on flesh-dayes.”
Whilst Adrian is talking to Anselme, the hero meets with a real shepherd, to whom (according to all precedent) he descants on his mistress, affirming, that “ she had bewitched all nature, and set the world on fire, and made fountains of his eyes, which would drown mankind,” &c. The man goes home to his neighbours, relates his news, and causes abundant confusion and distress, all agreeing, that no one but Antichrist could do these things. Lysis goes to the inn after much persuasion with his uncle, and to the old man's great grief refuses the good supper his care had provided, maintaining, that red being the colour of his mistress, he could henceforth live only on salmon, crabs, and beet-root, which after great difficulty were provided ; but he abused the waiter as an “ungracious fawn,” for offering him white wine, and maintains, that for the rest of his life he will drink nothing but claret, and he compels them to place a red bed in his chamber, as the only one on which it is possible for him to repose.
Next day, the uncle returns with a heavy heart to Paris, Anselme undertaking to watch his nephew. As they proceed to his house, the villagers, who had been kept awake all night by the terror he had spread amongst them, and who were intoxicated by the wine they had drank, in dread of the conflagration, having found out who was the cause of their troubles, hoot and throw stones after him ; on which he gives the first proof of sanity and wit we have seen, by turning and taking off his hat, saying,—“ Sirs, I beseech you, no further ceremony ; I take the favor for received.”
Lysis, being out the next day, sees the fair Charité herself going an errand, and has the horror of witnessing “ a country clout-shee rush upon her to take a kiss which she owed him since they last played at questions and commands.” Lysis springs upon this “ brutal satyr,” and would have slain him; but, alas! the clown seized his crook, and belaboured him soundly, and did not leave him until the presence of Anselme caused the “ goat-footed god,” as the shepherd terms him, to hasten to the shades. .
Anselme presents him with the portrait of his mistress, as painted from his own description (of which a plate is given.)Lysis starts at what appears monstrous, as the “ God of love sits enthroned in her forehead, her eyes are two suns, and her teeth pearls ;” but he soon becomes reconciled to it, observing, “ that such beauty as Charité's could only be represented by metaphor, in the stile so happily adopted.”
We have now an episode on the loves of Anselme, meant to satirize the “ Courts of Love;" but we follow the shepherd, who, determining to adopt all the known methods of making love in the schools he had studied, repairs by night to the house where his mistress dwelt, and having “ tied a number of nosegays together with packthread, and procured a ladder to her window," he proceeds to arrange them. In this project he runs his nose into sundry unsavoury basins of the kitchen-maid, who also throws out various unpleasant salutations, so that he descends in such haste as to overset the ladder, and fall sprawling into the street, where he is seized as a house-breaker and murderer, and kept in confinement till Anselme effects his liberation.
As Charité is now gone with her mistress to Paris, the shepherd and his friend follow, where they visit the playhouse, and the folly of the hero is again conspicuous : returning thence, they purchase a book, entitled, the Banquet of the Gods, of which (as it constitutes an important place in the work) we offer the opening : . “Aurora had already given the watchword to the night to draw her curtains, and truss up her baggage to be gone, when the earth received a morning's draught of pleasant dew, which gave occasion to those that saw it, to imagine that the gods were rinsing their bowls; or that it was the remainder of some nectar, after a great feast; or that haply the beautiful forerunner of the sun washed her hands at her uprising: but though it might have happened to be any of all these, according to the seasons, as men know well by the different dews which fall from heaven, yet was it not either of all those things, fell out then; for indeed it was nought else, but that the horses which draw the chariot of that goddess who began to show herself, shook their manes at their starting out of the sea. The sun being obliged to follow her, had by this time put off his nightcap, and having put on his cassock of fine gold, had encircled his head with beams. The minutes, who are his pages, helped to make him ready, while the hours having dressed his horses, and given them their oats, were putting them into the chariot. It was easy for men hence to judge it would not be long ere he would appear in the celestial vault; but they slighted his brightness, and having just broke off a debauch, that had lasted four-and-twenty hours, they turned day to-night, and went for the most part to bed. Nay, just then when the gods, besetting themselves to their ordinary employments, seemed to upbraid their supinity, their greatest business was to banish all care, nor could they now prostrate themselves at any altars, but those of Bacchus and Sleep. Jupiter, who was wont to receive the early addresses of such as adored him in his temples, was very much surprised with this alteration; and