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RIGHT welcome, gentle dames, and ye, worthy gallants, to this our festive banqueting. And sith, as rare Ben" saith,
""Tis the fair acceptance that creates
come to it joyously, with hearts elate, and all a-glow with sweet expectancies and kindly thoughts. The feast itself, select and choice, and enriched with multitudinous dainties to tempt the taste and please the fancy, now but awaits the generous gusto of the guests. There is, forsooth, a rare and prodigal diversitie of delicacies outspread
a most Epicurean and pleasurable repast: I pray ye, my masters, of your courtesy, look-there is wherewith to regale both soul and sense; to wit, delicious Melodies to charm the listening ear, and glowing Pictures to fascinate the kindling eye withal. In fine, you shall share much joyaunce and delectation from the costly spoils here garnered from our own and divers other times.
Moreover, trusty friends, note well the noble folk who
grace this festival. Among them are the "kings of thought," ay, "heirs of more than royal race,"— a rare companie of most renowned wits and worthies, with whom it is our privilege to hold quiet colloquy, or listen, delighted, to their nigh discourse. Meanwhile, from their ardentia verba, we may, perchance, catch somewhat of their inspiration; since, in order thereto (if I trow aright), it needeth that our ear be but attent to the unfolding of
"Whate'er in rhapsody, or strain most holy,
as well as to the sweet melodies of bards of later days. Nay, of your clemency, look not askance at the mention. of ancient minstrels and sages, nor urge that their mouldy tomes are rife with quaint conceits and rugged rhymes. Go to; certes, they are as delightsome as odoriferous herbs, and as voiceful of rich melody as their own loved lyre. Rather let us render rightful homage to these magnates of the mind," forasmuch as, by their sweet sentiment and song, the tedium of life's prosaic routine ha oft-times been beguiled; whilst their concentrated wit hath, not seldom, unwittingly seduced us into the pleasant places of wisdom and virtue.
I beseech ye then, my singular good friends, let us forget the turbulent world awhile, and surrender ourselves to the high enjoyment that now awaits us.
FIRST EVENING.-CHAUCER, SURREY, SIDNEY, Raleigh, Spenser, SHAK-
SECOND EVENING.-DRUMMOND, HABINGTON, QUARLES, WALler,
THIRD EVENING.-GRAY, AKENSIDE, JONES, BERKELEY, IRVING, All-
FOURTH EVENING.—BRAINARD, Pinkney, Read, Cutter, Prentice,
FIFTH EVENING.-POLLOK, MORRIS, ROGERS, BOIES, CAMPBELL,
SIXTH EVENING.-LONGFELLOW, CHADWICK, FIELDS, MASSEY, BUL-
ELIOT, HOLLAND, SWINBURNE, HARTE, MILLer.....