Page images
PDF
EPUB

"The Prologue" (Vol. I, pp. 27-31) and "the Preface of William Caxton to the Christian Reader" (Vol. I, pp. 32-34) and taken from Caxton's edition "and are here printed verbatim."

The "Colophon" to Caxton's edition is reprinted, Vol. III, p. 354.

The Morte d'Arthur has been reprinted ten or eleven times. The next to Caxton's edition of 1485 was that of Wynkyn de Worde of 1498 in folio, of which the only known copy is in the Althorp collection, now the property of the City of Manchester, England. The third edition was also by Wynkyn de Worde in 1529, of which the only known copy is in the British Museum.

Of later reprints the best known are Southey's edition of 1817 and Mr. Thomas Wright's two editions of 1856 and 1866, included in the "The Library of Old Authors."

However useful this may be as a popular edition accessible to general readers, all students will rejoice in that triumph of patient and skillful editorship the four-volume edition brought out by Dr. Oskar Sommer and published in 1889-91. A copy has recently been added to the Free Library of Philadelphia. Its text is reprinted page for page and line for line from Lord Spencer's copy of Caxton's edition, acquired in 1816 for £325, and now in the Althorp collection. That copy, unfortunately, has eleven leaves in facsimile. The only complete copy of this first edition is in the library of Mrs. Abbey E. Pope of Brooklyn, for which she paid £1,950. The Trustees of the British Museum bid up to £1,800 only, and so let it escape them.

The source of each portion of the cycle of romances is traced by Dr. Sommer with great care and skill.

When Sidney Lee complained that all the finest Shakespeare folios were coming to us, not counting his special Caxton, would he have had these precious volumes go to Madrid, Berlin, or Paris, or St. Petersburg?

Of George Wither, or as his name was variously spelt, Wyther and Withers, the general reader knows but little about. He was born in 1588 and died in 1667. He was a voluminous writer and decidedly erratic. His "Hallelujah ; or Britain's Second Remembrancer," is best known.

This poet was a very voluminous writer and published 112 books of pieces, lists of which can be gathered from "Allibone," "Lowndes," "The British Bibliographer," and similar works. His name is variously spelled Wither, Wyther and Withers. He was an erratic person; he fought for Charles I, and then fought for Cromwell. He procured for himself various imprisonments, and soon became strictly a "forgotten poet."

Pope describes him in "The Dunciad" (Book i, line 296):

“He (Eusden) sleeps among the dull of ancient days, Safe where no criticks damn, no duns molest, Where wretched Withers, Ward and Gildon rest."

works were exhumed and bathed in a sun of generous praise.

Wither is said to be the original of "Castruccio" in the "Cruel Brother," by Sir William Davenant. As a writer of hymns Wither must have knocked them off for all possible and impossible occasions. Some of the subjects which inspired the poet are certainly ludicrous ones.

Mr. Thomson writes:

In due course of time, however, the whirligig of fame was reversed, and George Ellis, in his "Specimens," Wordsworth, Southey and Charles Lamb, each more enthusiastically than his predecessor, found much to praise in Wither, and his

There is not only a hymn "For a Widower or a Widow Deprived of a Loving Yoke-fellow," but also (Hymn xxviii) "For a Widower or a Widow Delivered From a Troublesome Yoke-fellow," "because deliverance from a troublesome yokefellow is a benefit neither to be despised nor indiscreetly rejoiced in; this hymn," he adds, "teacheth with what moderation, with what tenderness of heart, and with what desire we should be affected in such cases." In order to insure a proper musical treatment, we are instructed to "Sing this as the Lamentation."

*

AT SHAKESPEARE'S GRAVE.

IGNATIUS DONNELLY, LoQ. Dismiss your apprehenison, pseudo bard, For no one wishes to disturb these stones, Nor cares if here or in the outer yard They stow your impudent, deceitful bones. Your foolish-colored bust upon the wall, With its preposterous expanse of brow, Shall Rival Humpty Dumpty's famous fall, And cheat no Boston cultured people now.

Steal deer, hold horses, act your third-rate parts,
Hoard money, booze, neglect Anne Hathaway,—
You can't deceive us with your stolen arts;
Like many a worthier dog, you've had your day.

I have expressed you in a cypher,
I've done your sum for all ensuing time,
I don't know what you longer wish to lie for
Beneath these stones or in your doggerel rhyme.
Get up and dust or plunge into the river.
Or walk the chancel with a ghostly squeak,
You were an ignorant and evil liver
Who could not spell nor write nor read much Greek.
Though yon enslaved the ages by your spell,
And fame has blown no reputation louder;
Your cake is dough, for I by sifting well
Have quite reduced your dust to Bacon-powder.
-IRVING BROWNE, "Ballads of a Bookworm."

*

BENEVOLENT

ASSIMILATION. When 'Omer smote 'is bloomin' lyre,

He'd 'eard men sing by land an' sea, An' what 'e thought 'e might require, 'E went an' took-the same as me!

The market-girls an' fishermen,

The shepherds an' the sailors too, They 'eard old songs turn up again,

But kep' it quiet-same as you!

They knew 'e stole; 'e knew they knowed,
They didn't tell, nor make a fuss,
But winked at 'Omer down the road,

An' 'e winked back-the same as us!
-RUDYARD KIPLING.

MILTON'S HORTON.

By common consent Milton is considered our second greatest poet, and therefore Milton's shrine (or shrines) should rank only second in interest to that of Shakespeare. Yet for a hundred pilgrims pilgrims who visit Stratford-onAvon there is not probably more than one who betakes him to Horton, or Chalfont, or even to Cripplegate. This is partly accounted for by the fact that all Shakespeare's life was connected more or less with Stratford; but Milton wandered much. Part of his youth was spent at Horton, in Buckinghamshire; and his latter days London. He wrote "Comus," "L'Allegro," "Il Penseroso," and perhaps, "Lycidas" at Horton; and therefore it seems fitting that the literary pilgrim should think about Milton in the fields and woods of Buckinghamshire before seeking his more frequented shrine in the city of London.

John Milton, the poet's father, was a scrivener in Bread street, London, where his son was born; he retired from business and went to live at Horton. Thither the son also retired at the age of 24, and his pastoral poems appear to have been the expression of his peace and contentment in that rural home. This was after his scholastic life at Cambridge, and before his foreign travel and all the storm and stress which tossed him about in his maturer years. We could ill afford to lose the product of the five years passed so tranquilly at Horton.

It may be true, as the late Mark Pattison remarks in his volume on Milton in the English Men of Letters Series, that this poet's love of Nature was chiefly academical; that he regarded and as the Latin poets had regarded her; that he did not look at her with the close and original observation of a naturalist or a painter; that he wrote of her from a subjective point of view, describing not so much Nature herself as the feelings which she awakens in one whose outer eyes are half-closed, and whose spirit takes in but vague suggestions. Yet, even so, why not? Nature's visible moods have been chronicled by many poets, of whom the foremost is Wordsworth; the influence of Nature reflected on the mind of a student and scholar has been exquisitely indicated by Milton. And what did he see at Horton which could suggest the lovely lines of his pastorals, and infuse into them a grace which makes them, even now, household words? And what do we see when we visit the Buckinghamshire village, so near to the metropolis, yet so far apart from the rush of life? It is practically the very Horton of the 17th century; a church, two or three gentlemen's houses, and a score of scattered cottages; its tale of deaths is about eight a year, and of wed

dings it sees about one in three years. We behold the very scene which Milton saw.

Wraysbury Station is situated on the sluggish Colne, which is here utilized for a mill; there is a sound of water falling gently over a small weir, and a few feet lower all is placid again. From the station we walk on a dusty unshaded road for the distance of a mile; on either side are ditches, banks and hedges, revelling in all the riot of June; roses star the hedges, and privet thrusts forward its thick white fingers; forget-me-not and meadowsweet nod above the still water in the broad ditch. Overhead in the fathomless blue the lark is shaking down his "delirious music"; the swallow skims over the field where men are lazily turning the thin crop of hay.

We pass a weed-grown marsh, and, turning to the left, soon come upon the Colne again; here it moves another mill, of which the irregular outbuildings are reflected in the unrippled pool, making a pretty picture. A little further on and we are in the village, where even now the children drop curtseys to the stranger pilgrim. On the right is the red-brick lodge to the grounds of a modern private house which stands on the site of that occupied by John Milton, senior. Before building the present structure it was ascertained by the owner of the land that no vestige whatever remained of the house wherein the great poet spent his only long spell of country life. On the left we come to the Five Bells Inn, so called because the inn is parish property and there are five bells in the church tower. At the time of the Queen's first jubilee there was some talk of adding another bell to the peal, but public opinion would not permit an act which would have rendered unintelligible the name of the old inn!

A few steps further on is the church, the shrine to which we are traveling; that church in which Milton must have constantly worshipped. It is restored, and yet it is the ancient one; we enter, and the spirit of prayer is upon us. They should count themselves blest who can here worship with every surrounding of reverence and every privilege of devotion. Looking to the modern chancel, which speaks of frequent services, we see that the east window, newly placed there, is in memory of Milton.

As to the fabric, it retains some most valuable features; the north porch is in the main a very ancient one, singularly wide; the door is set within an arch finely carved in rows of elaborate moulding. The interior, airy and spacious, shows us short, thick, Norman pillars; a massive stone font is also Norman, and has a cable moulding around the rim. As we walk about the church we see many stones beneath our feet commemorating the forefathers of the hamlet, and bearing date of the 17th century. Just within the chancel is a

dark gray slab of marble with this inscription: "Here lyeth the body of Sarah Milton, the widow of John Milton, who died the 3 of April, 1637.” In the lives of famous men we usually find that the mother's influence played a great part; but in Milton's autobiographical writings little is said of his mother. Yet, by comparing dates, we discover that immediately after Sarah Milton's death her husband and his family left Horton, and never again lived in the country except during the short and unimportant stay at Chalfont St. Giles, also in Bucks; it would seem that the charm of rural quietude was broken by the death of the wife and mother. The widower returned to the busy bustle of London; the poet son set off on his continental travels. Here at our feet, where "the kneeling hamlet drains the chalice of the grapes of God," lie the remains of the mother of one of England's greatest poets; it is a spot which is, for every reason, very sacred to us.

We leave the neatly kept churchyard, littered only by rose leaves, and, passing through the lych gate, proceed a little further into the village noting the unfrequented roads and lanes sentinelled by elms, just as they were 200 years ago. At one point a sudden opening reveals the gray outline of Windsor Castle, with its sturdy Round Tower "bosomed high in tufted trees." To Milton's eyes that tower appeared precisely as it does to ours this day-the crown of the royalest of all royal residences in Europe. This gap which arrests us for a long gaze is exactly facing the front door of Horton Rectory, which we now

enter.

Here we find the typical English parish priest, the man of culture and courtesy, with the surroundings of a good citizen. The house is partly old and partly new-the old probably of anterior date to Milton's days. He may have sat dreamily in this quaint and beautiful garden hall, seeing the bright flowers in the garden, hearing the twittering of birds and the humming of bees Oak beams support the ceilings and oak panels face the walls. Over everything is the hush of midday and midsummer, and quiet talk about the past and about the poet seems wholly in keeping with the same. And we feel ourselves presently in actual manual touch with Milton's days, for the rector brings forth a thin volume which contains the register of the burial of Sarah Milton, three days after her death. True, it is but copied from an older register, but this book is dated only a little later than the poet's death.

After seeing all that is to be seen, and, indeed, little remains in any way connected with Milton, we take leave of the hospitable rectory, and go out again among the pasture fields and waving trees and stretches of marshy ground, and

glimpses of distant blue hills, and all those unaltered features of Nature, who retains her youth and freshness as long as man leaves her to herself. The pilgrim returns to the city which was, after all, Milton's chosen home; and in his memory will long dwell the picture of the little tranquil village and the cool, silent church. Often in his later years of blindness and trouble the poet must have re-imaged to himself those same scenes- his father's house, his mother's grave.

F. BAYFORD HARRISON. Ventnor Villa, Weybridge.

*

HOW COUNT TOLSTOY LIVES AND
WORKS.

In September last Count Tolstoy--the Count Tolstoy, of course, Lyeff Nikolaevitch-reached his seventieth anniversary. In recognition of this fact as well as of the fifty years of his literary career, his Russian admirers, had they not been prohibited from so doing by the government, would have held fitting celebrations. One of them, however, who had known Tolstoy since. 1892, ventured to honor the event with a book, and the result is "How Count L. N. Tolstoy Lives and Works," by P. A. Sergyeenko, which has been translated into English by Isabel F. Hapgood. In this book we are given glimpses of the domestic and literary life of the famous writer, now in his winter home in Dolgo Khamovnitcheskiy Pereulok (Long-Weaver's Lane), Moscow, and now in his summer home on his country estate at Yasnaya Polyana. We see the count in his peasant garb, and hear him converse with his family and friends on all but political and religious subjects. We learn how he works, and are shown fac-similes of his "copy" and "proofs," both of which, because of numerous erasures and corrections, must fill his printers with despair. We attend him on his walks, and overhear his conversations with peasants, who wish his advice or assistance, and with inportunate beggars of all degrees, who will not take "no" for an answer. We are introduced, also, to his faithful and loving countess (Sophia Andreevna), who is sixteen years his junior, and has been the mother of thirteen children--" she told me fifteen," says Miss Hapgood-and who, with her consecrated common sense, has been just the helpmeet her husband has needed. Anecdote after anecdote, illustrative of the count's character, views, habits, and peculiarities, is related, and we close the book with the feeling that he is more of a living personality to us than ever before. The book is, in all respects, attractive to the eye, and contains several fine photogravure illustrations, one of which represents the count and his wife standing together. The likeness in each case, we should judge, is perfect (T. Y. Crowell & Co., $1.25).

SOME FORGOTTEN NOVELS.

BY E. LEE.

The increasing number of women novelists and their bubble reputations are constantly referred to as a sign of the degenerate literary taste of the age. My labors, however, in connection with the Dictionary of National Biography have impressed on me that taste in literature is no lower now than it has been for the last one hundred and twenty years.

A rough calculation shows us that, during a period extending from 1760 to 1860, about two hundred and fifty women writers in all branches of literature have been worthy of a niche in our British national memorial, and comparatively few are now read or remembered. Yet in their day they were authors whom society delighted to honor, and whose books were read with avidity. The novelists among them wrote voluminous tales, each in four or five volumes, which went through many editions. So eagerly were they perused by an admiring public that collectors of old novels despair of filling the gaps on their shelves, for, in many cases, all the copies seem to have disappeared, worn to shreds, doubtless, by constant and prolonged thumbing.

As far back as the end of last century women turned to literature, as they do now, for a livelihood. If a father died and left his daughters without resources, if a husband failed in business, the women, in their distress, sought their pens. Desire of fame, reputation, publicity, or notoriety troubled them less, it would seem, than such considerations trouble their modern sisters. If, however, those things came their way, they enjoyed them thoroughly, and adopted much the same airs and graces that we see displayed by our contemporaries.

The perusal of these old novels affords much entertainment. As I look around my shelves, I find it difficult to select any for special comment. Let us then take down a few volumes at random. Who reads now the "Memoirs of Miss Sidney Biddulph," puplished at Dublin in March, 1761, by Sheridan's mother? They filled two volumes, and two more appeared after the author's death. The book was translated into French by no less a person than the Abbe Prevost, and another Frenchman, a more obscure personage, based a play on it. One critic solemnly warns us to read the closing scenes "in solitude and with the door locked to prevent interruption." A French bookseller in the habit of taking long journeys and leaving his wife to manage the business was starting on one occasion without giving her any money. To her very reasonable remonstrances, he replied, "I leave you money's worth." The money's The money's worth was "un nouveau roman, L'etail Bid

dulphe." And it turned out that the good wife sold more copies of "Biddulphe" than of any other novel she had upon the shelves in the shop.

The poems of Charlotte Smith, who died in 1806, went through eleven editions. Dust lies undisturbed upon them now. Her first novel, published in 1788, had so great a success that her publisher of his own accord increased the sum he originally paid for it. Another novel, the "Olă Manor House," attracted Scott's attention; it contains one really excellent character, Mrs. Wayland, whom he dubbed a Queen Elizabeth in private life, and to whom Mrs. Gano in the "Open Question" bears a strong resemblance. Charlotte Smith's English style is admirable; it is said that whenever Erskine had a great speech to make he read Charlotte Smith in order to catch something of her grace of composition.

The death of Mrs. Meeke in 1816 must have been a blow to the patrons of the circulating libraries. She wrote during an unbroken period of twenty years, and fifty novels, each in three or four volumes, are the result. In 1802 Mrs. Meeke declared that there never was an age in which novels were more generally read. "New ones of every description, good, bad, or indifferent, are daily presented to the public." Novels, she considered, formed a very innocent, if not a very profitable, recreation. profitable, recreation. "In moments of ennui, which occur to the best of people, why not seek the circulating library?" She would have done her duty more faithfully as an author if she had sent the best of people to the bookseller's shop. According to her, a novelist's first aim was to secure the approbation of the publishers, who are the best judges of the prevailing taste. For, if an author should "fail of meeting with a purchaser, that labor you hope will immortalize you is absolutely lost, a most mortifying circumstance in every sense of the word." Mrs. Meeke could evidently sympathise with the pangs of authors. Macaulay read her eagerly, and (we are told) all but knew her romances by heart. Miss Mitford, too, delighted in her. But the modern problem novel was undreamed of by Mrs. Meeke, for in "Midnight Weddings" she apologized for beginning with such an ordinary thing as a marriage.

The "Canterbury Tales" of Harriet and Sophia Lee, written between 1797 and 1805, were extremely popular, and were probably better known to the general reading public than the great work we associate with that title. One of them, "Kruitzner," a sensational tale well told, is said to have suggested Byron's "Werner."

Miss Jane Porter's "Thaddeus of Warsaw" went into fourteen editions. It was translated into German, and the King of Wurtemberg made its author a lady of the Chapter of St. Joachim. Her "Scottish Chiefs" went into twelve editions;

[merged small][ocr errors]

Few, if any, novel-readers of the present generation reckon "Emilia Wyndham" among their acquaintances; yet its author, Mrs. Marsh-Caldwell, wrote eighteen novels, and for a quarter of a century (1834-1860) maintained the position of one the most popular novelists of her time.

་་

The popularity of these authors is dead and buried, and the pages of the biographical dictionary furnish ample testimony that they are not alone in their limbo of oblivion. Their work was always creditable, and in some cases even excellent, but it lacked the inspiration that gives enduring life. Where are the snows of yesteryear?" is, perhaps, one of the saddest questions we can ask. But when applied to literature, it has an element of consolation; for it reminds us that the writers of whom some among us now speak with bated breath and high-sounding superlatives are, too, destined to speedy oblivion. And there rests in our hearts the hope that our descendants may not look with contumely on later nineteenth-century literature, for what in it of little worth will vanish, and what in it is of price will endure everlastingly.-Literature.

*

and that the master was by no means such a wretch as that depicted by the novelist.

During the time that Dickens and "Phiz" were investigating the subject of the Yorkshire schools, they lodged at the principal hotels in Barnard Castle, and immediately opposite the hotel was a watchmaker's shop, easily seen by the novelist from his sitting room window. Over the shop front was conspicuously placed the name of "Humphreys, Clockmaker," which fixed itself so indelibly on the author's mind that he gave it to the clockmaker in his next story, and wrote to tell "Master Humphreys" what he had done, sending him at the same time a copy of "Nicholas Nickleby."

DICKENS' FOLKS.`

Dickens and his illustrated "Phiz" traveled together to the north of England for the purpose of collecting material for "Nickleby," making the King's Head, at Barnard Castle, their headquarters. The novelist there made inquiries concerning the state of the neighboring boarding schools, and was directed to one known as Bowes Academy, at Gretna Bridge. The master, whose name was William Shaw, received Dickens and his companions with extreme hauteur, and did not so much as withdraw his eyes from the operation of pen making during their interview.

It is said "Phiz," watching his opportunity, sketched him on his nail, reproducing him so exactly that when the more finished representation of him appeared in the book the school began to decline, and ultimately became deserted. There are many persons still living (who were pupils of William Shaw and will remember his academy at Bowes) who assert that the school in question was believed to have been one of the best of its kind,

As for the original of the famous clock itself, we learn that its manufacture was begun in 1828 by William Humphreys, son of Thomas Humphreys, the then proprietor of the shop. On its completion the following year it was placed in a niche on the right-hand side of the glass shopdoor, where Dickens first saw it, and where in passing he frequently consulted it for the right time, thus becoming acquainted with the owner and his son, Master Humphreys. The shop was a veritable "curiosity shop," containing, as it did, such a miscellaneous collection of toys, clocks, philosophic instruments, and relics innumerable. One of the most amusing characters in the "Old Curiosity Shop" is that of the small, slipshod girl who wore "a dirty coarse apron and bib, which left nothing of her visible but her face and feet," and who was called "The Marchioness," by that choice spirit, Mr. Richard Swiveler, in order "to make it seem more real and pleasant." The novelist took his first impression of this domestic young person from a maid-of-all-work possessed by the Dickens family while living in Bayham street, Camden Town. She was an orphan from the Chatham workhouse, and continued to wait upon her employers during their inceration in the Marshalsea. Like young Charles Dickens, she had a lodging in the neighborhood of the prison, that she might be early on the scene of her duties; and when Charles met her, as he would do occasionally, in his lounging place by London Bridge, he would occasionally occupy the time before the gates opened by telling her most astonishing fictions about the wharves and the tower. "But I hope I believe them myself," he would say.

The room which young Dickens then occupied was a back attic in the house of on insolvent-court agent in Lant-street Borough, where Bob Sawyer lodged many years afterward. His landlord was a "fat, good-natured, kind old gentleman. He was lame, and had a quiet old wife; and he had a very innocent grown-up son, who was lame, too." The elderly couple and their only son were dead when

« PreviousContinue »