Page images

Gent, (aside to Marine) Hark ye, sir; The king doth know you are a duke.

Mar. No! does he?

Gent. Yes; and is content you shall be; with this caution—
That none know it but yourself; for, if you do
He'll take 't away by act of parliament.

Mar. Here is my hand; and whilst I live or breathe,
No living wight shall know I am a duke.

Gent. Mark me directly, sir; your wife may know it.

Mar. Mayn't Jaques?

Gent. Yes, he may.

Mar. Mayn't my cousin?

Gent. By no means, sir, if you love life and state.

Mar. (out loud) Well then, know all, I'm no duke.

Gent. No, I'll swear it.

Mar. Know all, I am no duke.

Lady. What say you?

Mar. Jaques. [Aside to him

Jaques. Sir?

Mar. I am a duke.

Both. Are you?

Mar. Yes, 'faith; yes, 'faith,

But it must only run amongst ourselves.

Lady, (aside) As I could wish. (Aloud) Let all young sprightly wives, That have dull foolish coxcombs to their husbands, Learn by me all their duties, what to do, Which is, to make 'em fools, and please 'em too!



This is a banter by some " fine old Queen Elizabeth gentleman" (or somebody writing in his character) on the new and certainly far less respectable times of James the First; an age in which a gross and unprincipled court took the place of a romantic one, and greatness became confounded with worldliness; an age in which a lusus natura was on the throne,—in which Beaumont and Fletcher were spoilt, the corruption and ruin of the great Bacon completed, Sir Walter Raleigh murdered, and a pardon given to Lord and Lady Somerset.

However, I must not injure the pleasant effect of an old song by pitching the critical prelude in too grave a tone.

It is here printed, as given with corrections in Percy's Reliques, from an ancient black-letter copy in the Pepys collection of Ballads, Garlands, &c, preserved at Magdalen College in Cambridge. This Pepys is " our fat friend" of the Memoirs,—now a man of as jovial a reputation, as he was once considered staid and formal. He must have taken singular delight in the song before us; for though a lover of old times, and an objector upon principle to new, he had an inclination to the pleasures of both.

The song is admirable; full of the gusto of iteration, and exquisite in variety as well as sameness. It repeats the word "old" till we are enamored of antiquity, and prepared to resent the impertinence of things new. What a blow to retiring poverty is the "thump on the back with the stone!" and what a climax of negative merit is that of the waiting-gentlewoman, who, when her lady has dined, "lets the servants not eat!"

I should not wonder if it had been written by Decker. It has all his humor, moral sweetness, and flow.

An old song made by an aged old pate

Of an old worshipful gentleman, who had a great estate,

That kept a brave old house at a bountiful rate,

And an old porter to relieve the poor at his gate;

Like an old courtier of the queen's.

And the queen's old courtier.

With an old lady, whose anger one word assuages,
That every quarter paid their old servants their wages,
And never knew what belong'd to coachmen, footmen, nor pages,
But kept twenty old fellows with blue coats and badges;
Like an old courtier, &c.

With an old study fiU'd full of learned old books;
With an old reverend chaplain, you might know him by his looks;
With an old buttery hatch, worn quite off the hooks;
And an old kitchen, that maintain'd half a dozen old cooks;
Like an old courtier, &c.

With an old hall hung about with pikes, guns, and bows;
With old swords, and bucklers, that had borne many shrewd blows,
And an old frieze coat to cover his worship's trunk hose;
And a cup of old sherry to comfort his copper nose;
Like an old courtier, &c.

With a good old fashion, when Christmas was come,
To call in all his old neighbors with bagpipe and drum,
With good cheer enough to furnish every old room,
And old liquor able to make a cat speak and a man dumb;
Like an old courtier, &c.

With an old falconer, huntsman, and a kennel of hounds,
That never hawk'd, nor hunted, but in his own grounds,
Who, like a wise man, kept himself within his own bounds,
And when he died, gave every child a thousand good pounds;
Like an old courtier, &c.

But to his eldest son his house and land he assign'd,
Charging him in his will to keep the old bountiful mind,
To be good to his old tenants, and to his neighbors be kind;
But in the ensuing ditty you shall hear how he was inclin'd:

Like a young courtier of the king's,

And the king's young courtier.

Like a flourishing young gallant, newly come to his land,
Who keeps a brace of painted madams at his command,
And takes up a thousand pounds upon his father's land,
And gets drunk in a tavern, till he can neither go nor stand;
Like a young courtier, &c.

With a new-fangled lady, that is dainty, nice, and spare,
Who never knew what belong'd to good house-keeping, or care,
Who buys gaudy-color'd fans to play with a wanton air,
And seven or eight different dressings of other women's hair;
Like a young courtier, &c.

With a new-fashion'd hall, built where the old one stood,
Hung round with new pictures, that do the poor no good;
With a fine marble chimney, wherein burns neither coal nor wood,
And a new smooth shovel-board, whereon no victuals ne'er stood;
Like a young courtier, &c.

With a new study, stuft full of pamphlets and plays,
And a new chaplain, that swears faster than he prays;
With a new buttery hatch, that opens once in four or five days,
And a new French cook, to devise fine kickshaws and toys;
Like a young courtier, &c.

With a new fashion, when Christmas is drawing on,
On a new journey to London straight we all must begone,
And leave none to keep house but our new porter John,
who relieves the poor with a thump on the back with a stone,
Like a young courtier, &c.

With a new gentleman usher, whose carriage is complete;

With a new coachman, footmen, and pages to carry up the meat;
With a waiting gentlewoman, whose dressing is very neat,
Who, when her lady has din'd, lets the servants Not eat;
Like a young courtier, &c.

With new titles of honor bought with his father's old gold,
For which sundry of his ancestors' old manors are sold;
And this is the course most of our new gallants hold,
Which makes that good house-keeping is now grown so cold,

Among our young courtiers of the king,

Or the king's young courtiers.


BORN, 1605 DIED, 1634.

Thomas Randolph, who died fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, aged twenty-nine, was one of the favorite disciples of Ben Jonson. He had a vein of comedy gayer and more natural than his master's, which might have rendered him a favorite with posterity, had he outlived the influence of his training. He had as much learning for his time of life, more animal spirits, and appears to have been very amiable. His brother collected and published his writings, with an introduction full of love and respect. He lost a finger once in endeavoring to part two combatants; and, instead of bewailing the mishap, turned it into a subject for epigram, and said he hoped to "shake hands with it in heaven."

Randolph's best known play, the Muses' Looking-Glass, which is to be found in late collections of the old drama, is singularly full of life, considering it is one continued allegory, and didactic withal. And his dramatic pastoral, called Amyntas, or the Impossible Dowry (from an imaginary fairy investiture), deserves to be known quite as well, for its gaiety and graceful fancy. If he had but understood "the art of arts, the art to blot," he would have been popular to this day. But who did, in his time, even the greatest? Who thoroughly understands it any time? And what heaps of inferior poets have since gone, and are going, to oblivion, who took him doubtless for some obsolete gentleman, oppressed with a quaint love of talking, while they fancied their own garrulity to be the right " soul of wit V

In the following scene from the Muses' Looking-Glass, the poet, under the Greek names of Deilus, Aphobus, and Colax,

« PreviousContinue »