« PreviousContinue »
sits enthroned in her forehead, her eyes are two suns, and her teeth pearls ;” but he soon becomes reconciled to it, observing, " that such beauty as Charité's could only be represented by metaphor, in the stile so happily adopted.”
We have now an episode on the loves of Anselme, meant to satirize the “ Courts of Love;" but we follow the shepherd, who, determining to adopt all the known methods of making love in the schools he had studied, repairs by night to the house where his mistress dwelt, and having “ tied a number of nosegays together with packthread, and procured a ladder to her window," he proceeds to arrange them. In this project he runs his nose into sundry unsavoury basins of the kitchen-maid, who also throws out various unpleasant salutations, so that he descends in such haste as to overset the ladder, and fall sprawling into the street, where he is seized as a house-breaker and murderer, and kept in confinement till Anselme effects his liberation.
As Charité is now gone with her mistress to Paris, the shepherd and his friend follow, where they visit the playhouse, and the folly of the hero is again conspicuous : returning thence, they purchase a book, entitled, the Banquet of the Gods, of which (as it constitutes an important place in the work) we offer the opening :
“ Aurora had already given the watchword to the night to draw her curtains, and truss up her baggage to be gone, when the earth received a morning's draught of pleasant dew, which gave occasion to those that saw it, to imagine that the gods were rinsing their bowls; or that it was the remainder of some nectar, after a great feast; or that haply the beautiful forerunner of the sun washed her hands at her uprising: but though it might have happened to be any of all these, according to the seasons, as men know well by the different dews which fall from heaven, yet was it not either of all those things, fell out then; for indeed it was nought else, but that the horses which draw the chariot of that goddess who began to show herself, shook their manes at their starting out of the sea. The sun being obliged to follow her, had by this time put off his nightcap, and having put on his cassock of fine gold, had encircled his head with beams. The minutes, who are his pages, helped to make him ready, while the hours having dressed his horses, and given them their oats, were putting them into the chariot. It was easy for men hence to judge it would not be long ere he would appear in the celestial vault; but they slighted his brightness, and having just broke off a debauch, that had lasted four-and-twenty hours, they turned day to-night, and went for the most part to bed. Nay, just then when the gods, besetting themselves to their ordinary employments, seemed to upbraid their supinity, their greatest business was to banish all care, nor could they now prostrate themselves at any altars, but those of Bacchus and Sleep. Jupiter, who was wont to receive the early addresses of such as adored him in his temples, was very much surprised with this alteration; and not thinking fit it should be said, that while mortals entertained themselves in all sorts of pleasures, the gods should be subject to infinite toil (as for example the Sun, who perfected his course with that diligence, that he had not the leisure to wipe his nose by the way) he resolved to treat them all at a solemn banquet.
“ He communicated his design to Juno, who was then a-bed with him, but she being somewhat of a niggardly humour, was not well pleased that he should put himself to so great expense; and to take away the desire he might have to effectuate his resolution, she told him she had not napkins enough to entertain such a number, and that it was a long time since Pallas had made her any cloth. Now you are to note, by the way, that this linen of the gods is made of the thread of the lives of mortals, which is still wound up in heaven, when the destinies have finished it. That which hath belonged to virtuous and illustrious persons, is employed in shirts, smocks, handkerchiefs, and table-cloths; but for what comes from rustics and other people of grosser education, there is only made of it kitchen-linen and dishclouts."
They now travel to Brie, which the shepherd mistakes for the forests, where he hopes to lead, alone, a true romantic life. The fair Charité is already here, being in attendance on her mistress at the castle of one Arontes, and he obtains an interview, in which he tells her, “the nails of your allurements have scratched my mind, the points of your features have pricked me, and the frost of your disdain hath trod upon my perseverance.”
Charité understood nothing, and was glad when her mistress called her away.
The Shepherd takes his guitar, and goes out to serenade the fair enslaver, in a wood near the castle, when, perceiving a person near him with a lute, he conceives it to be some gentle Hamadryad, and following his steps, is lost in the wood, and sleeps there—an accident which delights him, as being in the true spirit of romance. He meets with one Hircan, whom he addresses as a magician, and who, having heard of his follies, humours him, and agrees to transform him into a country lass. Charmed with his metamorphosis, he adopts the name of Amaryllis, and hires himself to Arontes as a servant, that he may have the pleasure of being perpetually near Charité. He is said to look like a scarecrow in a hempyard, his back was long and flat, his breast no more plump than a trencher, the rest of him as straight as if he had been swaddled.”
The new maid acted with great propriety, but being well known, Anselme and the friend he visited (Montenar) amused themselves by causing an accusation to be brought against him, of seducing the handsome foot-boy of Arontes, and he was condemned to the ordeal of standing on a brass-plate: he ventured magnanimously, and did not burn upon it, thereby
proving himself as great as many of his predecessors; on which the prosecutors protest “ he is a witch, and prepare to burn him ;” but in the midst of the preparations, Hircan enters amidst smoke and crackers, and hurrying him into his chariot, conveys him in safety to his house
Anselme now endeavours, at their next interview, to convince our Extravagant Shepherd that he is under delusion in all this affair; but so far from being able to effect this purpose, the romantic youth is now confirmed in his madness, and desirous of some other transformation which should prove the strength of his passion for Charité, to whom he addresses the following delectable epistle:
“ Lysis's Pullet, or Love-letter to the fair Charité. “ Since that love, which is the lightest bird in the world, hath nestled in my bosom, it hath proved so full of egg, that I have been forced to suffer him to lay there. But since he hath laid it, he hath sate upon it a long time, and at length hath hatched this little pullet, which I now send you. The breeding of it will cost you little; all the food it will require will be caresses and kisses. And withal, it is so well taught, that it speaks better than a paraqueto, and it will tell well as myself, my sufferings for you. It hath in charge to inquire whether or no you be yet displeased with me, and to let me know your mind, not by a pullet so big as this, but by the least chicken you please, if I
may have the favour; with this promise, that if you have laid aside your rigour, I shall send you no more pullets, but present you with full-grown birds full of valour and affection, such as will ever be “ Your faithful shepherd,
Soon afterwards, walking in a grove, the hat of the Shepherd was caught by an old willow tree; climbing the tree to regain it from a distant twig, the tree being hollow, he slipped down into the body of it, and stuck there, with only his face and arms left out. His friends eagerly ran to his assistance, but he earnestly besought them to desist, for as it was evidently the will of the gods that he should be metamorphosed into a willow, he submitted to his fate, and maintained, that "he was sensible of a change in every part of his body, his feet were already rooted in the earth, his skin was become bark, even his clothes were turned into an inner rind :” a shower descending, his servant would have put his hat on his head, but he shook it off with vehemence, and commanding him to depart, the man prudently took it
and went home. After the rain was over, the friends came again, in hopes that the moist state of the new Hamadryad might induce him to return; but he refused all aid, and roared so violently when they attempted to drag him out, that they at length resolved to give him succour another way :
“ I'll give you leave to water me, says the willow, but it must be at my root; and besides, you must only make use of clear water. Wine will do better, replies Clarimond; it is a secret that all gardeners know not; nay, I will cast it above, and it shall moisten you so much the more: know you not, that the rain falls straight down on the tops of the trees.
Clarimond having said so, would improve the occasion, believing he had already prevailed with Lysis to drink: he got upon a stool, and put into his mouth a tunnel he had sent for; which done, Champagne pours into it at least three pints of wine. The willow was very well content to swallow it; and said to Clarimond, I must needs confess, dear friend, that thou knowest well how to order plants. My pith is all moistened by this liquor thou hast given me; and my sap, which is the radical moisture of trees, is made much more vigorous thereby. I told you so, answers Clarimond; I will now give you a taste of another beverage that is more nutritive. Having said so, he softly spoke to Champagne to go and see if there were not some good broth at his house ready. The lacquey returns presently with some pompion-pottage, that had been made for the ploughmen. They gave him that also through the tunnel; and whenever the bread that had been crummed in it, would not pass through, they forced it down with a little stick, as if they had been charging a piece of ordnance. The willow received all very quietly; for though he believed that trees should not eat, yet his belly told him the contrary; and as it was not much accessary to his follies, so was it well pleased it had gotten somewhat to feed on: when all was done, and that the tunnel was taken from his mouth, he breathed three or four times, as not being able to have contained any longer, the passage of respiration having been so long stopped. At length, says he to Clarimond, this second watering is not so liquid as the first, and yet I must confess it is not the worse for it. Now you are furnished till tomorrow, says Clarimond; but I beg it of the gods, that you may shortly live after another manner among men.”
In the course of the night, finding that both Naiads and Hamadryads are wandering in the groves, he consents to join them, and spent some hours very agreeably with a party, each of whom relates his adventures, and, by good example, they at length prevail on him to eat; but as day approaches, he retires again to his hollow tree, and indulges " the most delightful fantasies,” in the belief of this enchantment.
The following night the same scene is repeated, with the addition of his servant Carmelin, the Sancho of the tale, who is thrown into the water, and afterwards flogged to make him company for the immortals. In the mean time the willow is cut down, and the Shepherd, after seeking in vain for his own body, at length meets again the enchanted Hircan, who transforms him into a man. He returns to a Shepherd's life, sees Charité, endures her disdain, receives physic from her apothecary, seeing that, in all things, he will conform himself to her, “if she spit I spit too,” “if she walk before, I put my feet into the places where she tread,” &c. He afterwards sends for a chirurgeon, and commands him to bleed him, and to swathe his cheek; which is done, because his mistress's face is swollen, exclaiming, “what! shall I enjoy two eyes when Charité hath but one? I will have no more than she,” such being at that time the indisposition of the beloved fair one.
Several new Arcadian shepherds arrive at this time, professing to hold Lysis as their head-he is greatly surprized to see how much their features resemble those of the Hamadryads and River Gods, with whom he conversed during the period of his metamorphosis, but he willingly entertains them, and performs plays with them in the open country, where he is one day alarmed by seeing his uncle Adrian, who threatens to seize him as he returns from the journey he is upon. These shepherds severally relate their adventures, which are got up with a due regard for the marvellous—their stories are followed by that of Carmelin, his servant, which is the best, having much of the Spanish raciness, in the smart delineations of the characters of his masters, but its general style by no means accords with modern ideas of delicacy. The shepherd's happiness “in this true realization of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia, is such as to inspire him with the idea of shining in arms also, and, in order to his becoming a warrior, he prevails on the magician Hircan to render both himself and his follower Carmelin invulnerable ; a favour which the latter earnestly intreats may be extended to his breeches, which are especially subject to fractures, but this, the enchanter with due dignity, rejects as unworthy of his art.
After due bathing, fumigation, &c. the knight is duly equipped ; traversing the country in an enchanted conveyance, he is met in a close building by two giants, three hideous dwarfs, and a flying dragon; all of which he vanquishes; and proceeds to release a distressed damsel, who is crying in a stable hard by. They return together in the coach of the everready Hircan, and the company in his castle are exceedingly amused with the lying legend of the shepherd, whom they crown with laurel. The author of many French romances opportunely coming thither, Lysis gladly seizes the opportunity of giving his own adventures to the world, and thus instructs him.
“In the first place thou shalt make me take the shepherd's habit at St. Cloud, for there was the beginning of my noble adventures : and then thou must describe with what affection I contemplated those inconsiderable things which I preserved in remembrance of Charité, that is to say, the piece of leather, the paper, and the rest. Now here thou must make use of amplification, saying, that I so loved my mistress, that I would not only preserve what came from her, but that I also made a vow carefully to keep whatever were about me when I
VOL. VII. PART II.