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substitute for the sublimity of those wilder scenes of Nature through which other kinds of sport conduct us. Now, supposing such ground as we have described to have been moderately well preserved, why should not two guns and a brace of good dogs have capital sport over it? In the morning among the turnips and the clover; in the afternoon, when the covies have been broken, in the deep cool eddish and in the nooks and corners under the hedges; in the evening among the bean-shocks, full of a certain small beetle which the birds find delicious; they will lie almost to be trodden on, and will afford ample opportunity for either pointer, setter, or spaniel to make himself extremely useful, and bring into play all his highest intelligence. Who will
say that twenty brace of birds killed in this fashion by a couple of guns over such ground as this, is not as pretty a day's sport as any man need wish for? Yet such ground is not uncommon in any part of England even now; and we have often thought that the rage for driving which its votaries, or some at least among them, attribute to the want of cover, is due in great part to that passion for large shooting-parties and short days, which distinguish the junior breed of partridgeshooters. We readily admit that pointers and setters are quite out of place with a party of six or eight guns all blazing away in one field, and close together. But we much doubt whether any genuine sportsman would own, in his heart of hearts, that he really does prefer such shooting. If he does, he is not the man we took him for. For our part, when we look back a few years and remember the sport we have had among the beans and the clover, and the potatoes, and the meadows above described, with Duke, or with Bell, or with Marquis, or with Bruno, and hope to have again elsewhere, we willingly leave their big bags, and their large parties, and their thousand shots a day to the driving fraternity, and only long to find ourselves once more on the old spot, with the old dog, the old gun, and the old beater and game-carrier, once a poacher in Epping Forest, then a brewer's drayman in London, afterwards an agricultural labourer, but always an enthusiast, and almost as much a master of natural history as Richard Jefferies himself.
ART. VI.-The English Novel in the time of Shakespeare. By
J. J. Jusserand. Translated from the French by Elizabeth
that penetrates the fastnesses of age. Even in the intermediate stages of life, grown-up men and women cannot always retain their roast beef stomachs, or always digest solid information. For mental health, some changes in diet are required. Our forefathers had fewer indoor occupations than ourselves, and more enforced idleness; they saw less of society; they depended more on home resources for amusement.
Hence the Pilgrim with his licensed exaggeration, the minstrel, and the whole army of jesters, japers, disours, jongleurs, gleemen, ribalds, and goliards,-all the tribe of those whom Piers Plowman calls . Satan's children,'—were welcome in the baronial hall. Stories sung, recited, acted, or read, were their delight. Charlemagne, as we are told in · The Lyf of the Noble and Crysten Prince Charles the Grete,' which Caxton printed in 1485, loved to hear read chronicles and other thynges contemplatyues, and, above all other books, the De Civitate Dei' of St. Augustine. When folks are festid and fed,' says the medieval romance of the Wars of Alexander the Great,' they would fain hear some 'lufe lay,' some tale of knighthood, feat of arms, or stories of the Saints. In the 19th century, the favourite relaxation is the novel. It threatens, like the rod of Aaron, to devour all rival forms of literature. Ethical treatises, political pamphlets, social dissertations, theological tracts, scarcely dare to venture abroad without some amatory accompaniment. Even Dr. Dryasdust plays the Troubadour. Apollo himself might sing unheeded from the Land's End to John o' Groats' House; but every door Aies open to the modern novelist.
The demand for novels, and its supply, are the literary portents of the present century. The torrent of fiction, swollen by tributaries from every side, Alings itself in ever-increasing volume into the ocean of print. In the course of its journey, the stream has travelled far from its original source.
It has left behind it the knights-errant, and white palfreys, of chivalrous
It has emerged from those forests in which Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Little John, and Much the Miller's Son, ply their adventurous trade. It has passed beyond the borders of Arcadia, where princes and princesses masquerade as shepherds and shepherdesses, discoursing plaintive music upon oaten reeds. No Italian castles now stand upon its banks, echoing with the footsteps of bandits, monastic villains, clanking chains, or dismal groans. The atmosphere of scented moonshine, in which Edwin and Angelina vowed eternal constancy, is dispelled. The stream has reached the level plains of real life; it flows through great cities and the busy haunts of men.
In the rapid rush of its more adventurous course, it had little leisure to note the workings of individual character, the habits and pursuits of society. Now all these are reflected in its broad, slow-moving, muddy waters. The Romance has become the Novel. But the scenery of its upper waters can never lose its charm for lovers of the picturesque in literature. To all such, M. Jusserand powerfully appeals in the fascinating volume, of which Miss Elizabeth Lee has given us an admirable translation. M. Jusserand commences with a rapid survey of medieval fiction. He concludes with a sketch of the heroic romances of the 17th century. It is on the 16th century that he concentrates his chief attention. To this period he traces the origin of the modern novel, and claims for Lyly, Sydney, Nash, and Greene, the honours which are ordinarily conceded to Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding.
On the particular point to which M. Jusserand devotes himself, we have little or nothing to say. To offer an abstract of the volume would be superfluous, to add anything of material value would be beyond our powers. But M. Jusserand's volume suggests one topic of interest—the enormous influence which romantic fiction has exercised upon national life and character. This is the point which we propose to illustrate, partly from the bequests of romances or light literature contained in ancient wills ; partly from the contents of ancient libraries, whether monastic, royal, or in the hands of private individuals; partly from the character of the books published by our early printers; partly from the materials which medieval authors employed in their writings; partly from the war, which, from the earliest times, has been waged over the advantages or disadvantages of the love of romantic fiction ; partly from what we know of the reading of men and women whose names are illustrious in English literature. The field is vast. It is only possible to indicate the character of the light reading of our ancestors in a desultory, gossiping, and arbitrary fashion.
To illustrate with any degree of completeness the popularity and influence of romantic fiction would be a Herculean labour. Romance supplied our poets and dramatists with a mine from which they quarried some of the choicest treasures of our litera
Its heroes passed into the proverbial currency of thought, as the typical representatives of particular vices and virtues. Who more knightly than Arthur, better matched or closer friends than Roland and Oliver, purer than Galahad, more wanton than Guinevere? Who more wily than Vivien, wiser than Merlin, more crabbed than Sir Kay, more courteous than Gawain, more treacherous than Ganelon? Its stories have been painted upon the walls of buildings, carved on the panels of doors, or, like the story of Tristran and Iseult in the house of Jacques Caur at Bourges, into the capitals of pillars, traced, like the tale of the Knight of the Swan, in the compartments of treasure-chests, worked in tapestry, like the tale of Medea and Jason, which Caxton saw in Duke Philip's castle of Hesdin in Artois, or like the tappiz à ymaiges'du Saint Grael,' de Fleurence de Romme,'d'Amis et d'Amie,' de Godefroy de Bilhon,' de Girard de Nevers,' which are mentioned in the inventory of King Charles V. in 1379. Romance gave words to our language, which have now passed out of use with the books from which they were taken, like the · Doughty Douzepere’ of Spenser, the runcivall’ peas of the 16th century, or the · Rowncefallis' verse of James VI. of Scotland. It created the ideals, and elevated the manners, of society at different epochs of our history. How many of our Drakes and Sydneys and Frobishers followed in the steps of Guy of Warwick, who could not win the hand of Felys the Fair till he had won the fame of the best knight in Europe ? It coloured medieval conceptions of geography, of science, of natural history. It opened to the unlearned, though in distorted forms, the treasures of classical antiquity, and taught how Jason won the Golden Fleece by the aid of Medea, how Priam rebuilt Troy, how the Greeks destroyed the city, what feats of valour were performed by Hector, and what adventures befel Æneas. It fired imagination, and stimulated discovery, by its revelations of the wonders of the mythical East, with its castled elephants, its unicorns, and crested dragons, its ivorygated cities, its vines of gold and grapes of pearl, its cliffs studded with diamonds, its dark valleys tenanted by the basilisk, which slew many men, but, at sight of its own form in a mirror, destroyed itself. It educated the vulgar in the faiths of other nations, and taught them the contrast between the active life of heathenism and the contemplative piety of the Brahmin. It was the most powerful agent of popular preachers. Its simple religious spirit permeated the masses, and who can say what comfort the creed of Roland, which he explains to the pagan Vernagu, may not have ministered to minds ill at ease, or distracted by the questions that are stimulated by the dogmas of every creed? And it is in these romances, that the best pictures are to be found of the habits of the upper ranks of medieval society. Here may be gathered hints of the meals, dress, food, drink, ornaments, houses, furniture, and education, of the feudal aristocracy. It is often ludicrous, it is rarely useless, that the heroes of antiquity or of fable are made to masquerade as the knights of contemporary life.
The influence, which medieval romance exercised upon society, was all the greater because fiction had no rival in the shape of newspapers, of education, or of contrast with previous or contemporary phases of civilization. Education was little valued by our medieval or Tudor ancestors.
Children were taught to sing and play, to dance and carve at table, to be proficient in manly exercises, to be courteous and well-mannered. Chaucer's Squire, at twenty years of age,
* In hope to stonden in his lady's grace
The sons of the nobility and gentry were educated at the houses of others of their rank, especially in the houses of Chancellors. Becket's house was a favourite school in his days. So also was that of Grostête, Bishop of Lincoln. Sir Thomas More was educated at that of Cardinal Morton. Wolsey kept an instructor for his wards, as well as a separate table for the young lords who were trained under his eye, and another for the sons of gentry. Ascham was received into the family of Sir Antony Wingfield, and educated with Sir Antony's son by resident tutor named Bond. Sometimes boys were sent to monasteries to be taught. The house of Lydgate at Bury St. Edmunds, of Abbot Whiting of Glastonbury, or of Robert Whitgift of the Augustinians at Welhow, were, in their respective days, famous schools. Sometimes also, from the 12th to the middle of the 16th century, young gentlemen were sent to foreign universities, and especially to Paris, Montpellier, and Padua. But the general attitude of the gentry towards education is well illustrated by a scene which Pace records as taking place at table. A gentleman broke out with the remark,
I swear by God's body I'd rather my son were hanged than study letters. A gentleman's son should sound the horn well, be a good huntsman, carry and train his hawk with grace and skill. But as for the study of letters, that should be left to the sons of rustics.'
And to the sons of rustics it was left. Monastic and Cathedral schools were chiefly frequented by the poor. Endowed Grammar