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Les tendres barcarolles
Le frais zéphir éveille
J'accours ici vers toi,
Je rame ici vers toi l'
The voice, passionate with feeling, ceases. Jim feels the full tide of his love rise and storm within him; swollen by the bewitching might of the hour, the scene, and the great beauty so near him. Only for this once-only for this once-will he think thoughts and dream dreams. To-morrow will come soon enough.
The chords twang out again:
'Le beau soleil dans l'onde
Il a laissé le monde
A ceux qui savent aimer.
Le frais zéphir éveille
J'accours ici vers toi,
Je rame ici vers toi !'
The languorous melancholy of the song has so powerful an effect on Jim's nerves, that he feels he must either escape from the place, or Not giving himself time to think about the alternative he jumps up, and signifies his intention of rejoining Latour.
'Come along, then,' sighs Minnie, waking out of her trance; 'but, O, how truly lovely it was! Now for a race home,'-running off as though to conceal her emotion; and the voice, resuming, follows them:
'La mer est éclairée
As these words
thrill through the air Minnie stops, and looks
up at the moon, which is now gleaming white in the twilight.
Is that the lune d'amour, Jim ?' and runs off again before he can detain her.
A moment's silence, only broken by the pattering of tiny feet; a dull thud, a smothered shriek, a dazed stagger.
In two bounds Jim is at her side, white as death.
'Good God, Min! what is it?' he gasps.
She tries to smile, and presses one hand against her head.
'It's nothing, dear. I didn't see the branch, and knocked my head against it. Stupid, wasn't it ?'
Her face is getting ghastly pale.
'Never mind, Jim,' she stammers, breathing heavily. all right. It didn't hurt-much.'
And then suddenly she sinks, powerless and inanimate, into the poor fellow's arms. In a moment, at the first touch of her supple form-like the bursting of a mighty dam-his pent-up feelings break out, and his passion pours forth the stronger for his long control over it.
His burning lips pressed on hers, slaking their thirst for love in long mad kisses; her soft warm limbs clasped tight in his embrace; he breaks into inarticulate and hurried speech, finding no words to tell his adoration.
'Entends-tu la fauvette
'My darling! my own-very own! Wake, my angel! Open those eyes! One look, to say you love me.'
And as he showers kisses on the still white face, a faint colour returns, and, with a smile of ineffable tenderness, the long heavy lashes glance up at him.
'Darling!' she murmurs, and, so murmuring, swoons again.
Jim, maddened with love, and fear lest she should be mortally injured, lays her down on the moss, to collect his senses. After a minute he takes her once more into his strong arms, and makes for the rendezvous.
Through the forest comes the voice again, soft and clear:
Le frais zéphir éveille
Je rame ici vers toi !'
And with Jim's footsteps the refrain dies into the distance.
THE HOME OF THE PAST
WE English need not travel far afield for illustrations of the history of the homes of men. We may find the most ancient of all human dwellings in the limestone caves of the Lancashire and Yorkshire ridges. The foundations of the round dwellings of a later race are frequent enough on our hill-sides. The tent of the nomad is still to be seen pitched upon our commons and wastes. The wattled and thatch-covered cottage of the Saxon race is still a familiar mode of construction in our hamlets. We still have among us many good specimens of the Norman castle and manor. The dwellings of the Tudor period are yet the ornament of our landscapes and the delight of our artists; whilst the snug gentry houses of the eighteenth century abound in every country town.
In all early northern homes the central and ruling point is the fire; about this are formed our social habits. The necessity for warmth is the mother of the domestic virtues. The fire, formerly reared in the centre of the hut, continues to be built in the centre of the hall. We are forbidden, however, to venture into the obscurity of primeval days; we must begin with the home of historic times.
About the central fire is built the hall. Around the hall are clustered the various buildings required for the needs of the community. The chief and his wife occupy a separate sleeping apartment; there is another for the women; the men sleep about the fire in the hall. Brewhouses, butteries, store-rooms, are built in close proximity. This is the 'ham' of the Saxon thane.
The Norman comes with his power of organisation and sense of order. The varied offices of the Saxon home are gathered into one harmonious whole by the medieval architect, the results of whose labours in many cases still survive for the despair of his modern
Within this home we have a community almost self-contained, each member of which bears a part in producing the general result. The lord has his martial exercises; the chase, which has not yet degenerated into a pastime; the manor-courts to preside over, his dues. to enforce, his demesne to oversee. The lady superintends the preparation of the garments of the household, the spinning, the weaving of flax and wool. She keeps a careful eye upon the storeroom, and is watchful over the brewhouse and buttery. She is skilled in herbs and medicaments; she is learned in the science of
the conservation of food, and is well acquainted with all the economy of rural life.
The freeman or yeoman lives the same kind of life as the lord upon a smaller scale. His hinds are the inmates of home; he eats and lives in common with these and his domestics. The cottagers, the bordarii of Domesday-the occupiers, that is, of a small portion of land which they cultivate with their own hands-the artisans of the community, the blacksmith, the wheelwright, the joiner, cluster together in separate dwellings, which form the hamlet or village, little altered in its composition during all these centuries of change.
Concurrently with these agricultural homes, the progress of trade and intercourse has given rise to houses of almost equal pretensions to the halls of the gentry within the large towns. The rows of huts and stalls that form the early marts and market-places are surrounded by buildings of more pretence and larger dimensions. Taverns and inns for the accommodation of the travelling merchants, with long yards stretching behind for the carriers and their horses, are built about the market-square. The resident shopkeeper, who supplies the adjacent agricultural community with pottery, ironmongery, and foreign products, whilst he purchases from them their surplus wool and corn, requires extensive storehouses and a large staff of apprentices and servants. Hence the city dame rivals the country lady in her knowledge and household accomplishments, whilst her more confined life develops in her those capacities of passion and intrigue which are latent in the latter.
Shakespeare gives us a pleasant glimpse of the home of the man of business of his time in the Comedy of Errors. The scene is Ephesus; but, with the happy privilege of the time, the manners are those of England. Antonio, the husband, is away at the mart on business; Adriana, the wife, with her unmarried sister, is waiting dinner for her husband. The clock has struck twelve; dinner is ready-spoiling, in fact. They have a capon roasting and a pig. Dromio, the man-servant, has gone out to find his master; the kitchen-wench is in despair- Nell is her name; she is spherical, like a globe.' Time runs on: it is two o'clock; still no husband. Adriana is full of unreasoning jealousy, which her sister reproves. With the calm judgment of a sister-in-law she proposes that dinner shall be served without the master, and suggests that he has gone to dine with some merchant from the mart. At last the supposed husband returns his twin-brother in reality. Adriana is delighted. All her troubles forgotten, she bids the servants spread for dinner. She will dine above with him-not in the common hall, that is, but in her own apartment: if any one asks for the master, he dines forth to-day.'
It is not impossible that in this comedy, which is one of the
earliest of Shakespeare's, we may have a sketch of the poet's own home of early days.
We shall not here discuss the causes which led to the gradual disruption of the social system outlined in this sketch. It is sufficient to say that a general change of manners, long imminent, overspread England as soon as the death of the last of the Tudors relieved the various classes of the community from the firm pressure of a powerful ruling hand. Shakespeare again foretells and appreciates this change: By the Lord, Horatio, these three years I have taken note of it; the age is grown so picked, that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he galls his kibe.'
Of the country homes of the transition period which followed the final breaking-up of the feudal monarchy, we have many agreeable glances in the diary of John Evelyn, the author of Sylva, who, born in the reign of James I. and dying in the time of William III., bridges over for us a long eventful period in our history. In Evelyn we have a good specimen of the new product of the times-the commercial agricultural gentleman. His immediate ancestors had acquired their wealth by the manufacture of gunpowder, had bought estates in Surrey, and become magnates of the county. The young Evelyn travelled much, and studied largely the polite literature of the day. He is favourable to the cause of the king, but is too wary to risk life and property in his cause. He even starts on one occasion, when the king is at Hounslow and his cause appears to be flourishing, and attempts to join him; but he hears of his retreat, and prudently marches home again, sending, however, some time after, a man and horse for the king's service to Oxford. He is an amiable and accomplished gentleman; and we may be thankful that he escaped from the rough broils of the day to transmit to posterity his charming pictures of the life of his time.
The homes to which Evelyn introduces us are those of the best society, cultivated, refined, bright, and joyous. French manners have largely come upon us. We have lost a good deal in strength, but have gained much in outward polish. Aubrey relates that in his youth the manners of men towards women were often rough and brutal in the extreme. Even at the court of James I. the queen, he says, could not approach the apartments of her consort without being insulted. All this is now changed; women mix freely with men, they discuss with them literature, politics, the passions. We are becoming alive to the beauties of nature; we study to adorn our grounds with trees and water; we assume to admire art, which, however, we little comprehend. We visit much from château to château; we form junketing-parties, and make merry at the hotels of the principal towns. We are still occupied about our manorial courts, our rights and dues; but these are matters of business now, and we think of them only as worth so much a year. There are still