Library Of The World's Best Literature, Ancient And Modern, Vol. 5
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10
Home - Random Browse

"Take her away, Danby: she is much too excited, and she is the funniest little thing I ever saw. Good-night, my dears," he said to the others, as he rose and walked toward the door. "I hope you will spend a happy Christmas at Place. Adela, be sure the little things are comfortable, and that Nurse Danby's instructions are obeyed."

The children laughed at this rude mention of Mr. Danby, and went off to bed repeating the phrase "Nurse Danby" with much chuckling and giggling.

* * * * *

Sir John Penlyon had just seated himself on the great oaken settle in the chimney-corner, after somewhat languidly performing his duty as host. Moppet walked straight to him, clambered on his knee, and nestled her head in his waistcoat, gazing up at him with very much the same dumb devotion he had seen in the topaz eyes of a favorite Clumber spaniel.

"Why, Moppet, are you tired of your new little friends?" he asked kindly.

"I don't like children: they are so silly," answered Moppet, with decision. "I like you much better."

"Do you really, now! I wonder how much you like me. As well as you like junket?"

"Oh, what a silly question! As if one could care for any nice thing to eat as well as one cares for a live person."

"Couldn't one! I believe there are little boys in Boscastle who are fonder of plum-pudding than of all their relations."

"They must be horrid little boys. Laddie is greedy, but he is not so greedy as that. I shouldn't like to live in the same house with him if he were."

"For fear he should turn cannibal and eat you?"

"What is a camomile, and does it really eat people?"

"Never mind, Moppet; there are none in our part of the world," said Sir John, hastily, feeling that he had made a faux pas, and might set Moppet dreaming of cannibals if he explained their nature and attributes.

He had been warned by his friend Danby that Moppet was given to dreaming at night of anything that had moved her wonder or her fear in the day, and that she would awaken from such dreams in a cold perspiration, with wild eyes and clinched hands. Her sleep had been haunted by goblins, and made hideous by men who had sold their shadows, and by wolves who were hungry for little girls in red cloaks. It had been found perilous to tell her the old familiar fairy tales which most children have been told, and from which many children have suffered in the dim early years, before the restrictions of space and climate are understood, and wolves, bears, and lions located in their own peculiar latitudes.

Sir John looked down at the little dark head which was pressed so lovingly against his waistcoat, and at the long dark lashes that veiled the deep-set eyes.

"And so you really like me?" said he.

"I really love you; not so much as mother, but veway, veway much."

"As much as Danby—as Uncle Tom?"

"Better than Uncle Tom! but please don't tell him so. It might make him unhappy."

"I dare say it would. Uncle Tom has a jealous disposition. He might shut you up in a brazen tower."

Another faux pas. Moppet would be dreaming of brazen towers. Imagination, assisted by plum-pudding, would run readily into tormenting visions.

Happily, Moppet made no remark upon the tower. She was thinking—thinking deeply; and presently she looked up at Sir John with grave gray eyes and said:—

"I believe I love you better than Uncle Tom, because you are a grander gentleman," she said musingly, "and because you have this beautiful big house. It is yours, isn't it—your veway, veway own?"

"My very, very own. And so you like my house, Moppet? And will you be sorry to go away?"

"Oh no, because I shall be going to mother."

"Then you like your own home better than this big house?"

"No I don't. I should be very silly if I did. Home is a funny little house, in a funny little sloping garden on the side of a hill. Uncle Tom says it is very healthy. There is a tiny salon, and a tiny dining-room, and a dear little kitchen where the bonne a tout faire lives, and four tiny bedrooms. It was a. fisherman's cottage once, and then an English lady—an old lady—bought it, and made new rooms, and had it all made pretty, and then she died; and then Uncle Tom happened to see it, and took it for mother."

"And was my little Moppet born there?"

"No; I was born a long, long way off—up in the hills."

"What hills?"

"The northwest provinces. It's an awful long way off—but I can't tell you anything about it," added Moppet, with a solemn shake of her cropped head, "for I was born before I can remember. Laddie says we all came over the sea—but we mustn't talk to mother about that time, and Laddie's very stupid—he may have told me all wrong."

"And doesn't Lassie remember coming home in the ship?"

"She remembers a gentleman who gave her goodies."

"But not the ship?"

"No, not the ship; but she thinks there must have been a ship, for the wind blew very hard, and the gentleman went up and down as if he was in a swing. Laddie pretends to remember all the sailors' names, but I don't think he really can."

"And the only house you can remember is the house on the cliff?"

"Where mother is now—yes, that's the only one, and I'm very fond of it. Are you fond of this house?"

"Yes, Moppet: one is always fond of the house in which one was born. I was born here."

Moppet looked up at him wonderingly.

"Is that very surprising?" he asked, smiling down at her.

"It seems rather surprising you should ever have been born," replied Moppet, frankly: "you are so veway old."

"Yes; but one has to begin, you see, Moppet."

"It must have been a twemendously long time ago when you and Uncle Tom began."

The explosion of a cracker startled Moppet from the meditative mood. It was the signal for the rifling of the Christmas tree. The crackers—the gold and silver and sapphire and ruby and emerald crackers—were being distributed, and were exploding in every direction before Moppet could run to the tree and hold up two tiny hands, crying excitedly, "Me, me, me!"


From 'Mohawks'

To be a fashionable beauty, with a reputation for intelligence, nay, even for that much rarer quality, wit; to have been born in the purple; to have been just enough talked about to be interesting as a woman with a history; to have a fine house in Soho Square, and a mediaeval abbey in Hampshire; to ride, dance, sing, play, and speak French and Italian better than any other woman in society; to have the finest diamonds in London; to be followed, flattered, serenaded, lampooned, written about and talked about, and to be on the sunward side of thirty; surely to be and to have all these good things should fill the cup of contentment for any of Eve's daughters.

Lady Judith Topsparkle had all these blessings, and flashed gayety and brightness upon the world in which her lot was cast; and yet there were those among her intimates, those who sipped their chocolate with her of a morning before her hair was powdered or her patches put on, who declared that she was not altogether happy.

The diamonds, the spacious house in Soho Square, with its Turkey carpets and Boule furniture, its plenitude of massive plate and Italian pictures, its air of regal luxury and splendor; the abbey near Ringwood, with its tapestries, pictures, curios, and secret passages, were burdened with a certain condition which for Lady Judith reduced their value to a minimum.

All these good things came to her through her husband. Of her own right she was only the genteelest pauper at the court end of London. Her blood was of the bluest. She was a younger daughter of one of the oldest earls; but Job himself, after the advent of the messengers, was not poorer than that distinguished nobleman. Lady Judith had brought Mr. Topsparkle nothing but her beauty, her quality, and her pride. Love she never pretended to bring him, nor liking, nor even respect. His father had made his fortune in trade; and the idea of a tradesman's son was almost as repulsive to Lady Judith as that of a blackamoor. She married him because her father made her marry him, and in her own phraseology "the matter was not worth fighting about." She had broken just two years before with the only man she had ever loved, had renounced him in a fit of pique and passion on account of some scandal about a French dancing-girl; and from that hour she had assumed an air of recklessness: she had danced, flirted, talked, and carried on in a manner that delighted the multitude and shocked the prudes. Bath and Tunbridge Wells had rung with her sayings and doings; and finally she surrendered herself, not altogether unwillingly, to the highest bidder.

She was burdened with debt, never knew what it was to have a crown piece of ready money. At cards she had to borrow first of one admirer and then of another. She had been able to get plenty of credit for gowns and trinketry from a harpy class of West End tradespeople, who speculated in Lady Judith's beauty as they might have done in some hazardous but hopeful stock; counting it almost a certainty that she would make a splendid match and recoup them all.

Mr. Topsparkle saw her in the zenith of her audacious charms. He met her at a masquerade at Bath, followed and intrigued with her all the evening, and at last, alone in an alcove with her after supper, induced her to take off her mask. Her beauty dazzled those experienced eyes of his, and he fell madly in love with her at first sight of that radiant loveliness: starriest eyes of violet hue, a dainty little Greek nose, a complexion of lilies and blush-roses, and the most perfect mouth and teeth in Christendom. No one had ever seen anything more beautiful than the tender curves of those classic lips, or more delicate than their faint carmine tinge. In an epoch when almost every woman of fashion plastered herself with bismuth and ceruse, Lord Bramber's daughter could afford to exhibit the complexion nature had given her, and might defy paint to match it. Lady Judith laughed at her conquest when she was told about it by half a dozen different admirers at the Rooms next morning.

"What, that Topsparkle man!" she exclaimed—"the traveled Cit who has been exploring all sorts of savage places in Spain and Italy, and writing would-be witty letters about his travels. They say he is richer than any nabob in Hindostan. Yes, I plagued him vastly, I believe, before I consented to unmask; and then he pretended to be dumbfounded at my charms, for-sooth; dazzled by this sun into which you gentlemen look without flinching, like young eagles."

"My dear Lady Judith, the man is captivated—your slave forever. You had better put a ring in his nose and lead him about with you, instead of that little black boy for whom you sighed the other day, and that his Lordship denied you. He is quite the richest man in London, three or four times a millionaire, and he is on the point of buying Lord Ringwood's place in Hampshire—a genuine mediaeval abbey, with half a mile of cloisters and a fish-pond in the kitchen."

"I care neither for cloisters nor kitchen."

"Ay, but you have a weakness for diamonds," urged Mr. Mordaunt, an old admirer, who was very much au courant as to the fair Judith's history and habits, had lent her money when she was losing at basset, and had diplomatized with her creditors for her. "Witness that cross the Jew sold you the other day."

Lady Judith reddened angrily. The same Jew dealer who sold her the jewel had insisted upon having it back from her when he discovered her inability to pay for it, threatening to prosecute her for obtaining goods under false pretenses.

"Mr. Topsparkle's diamonds—they belonged to his mother—are historical. His maternal grandfather was an Amsterdam Jew, and the greatest diamond merchant of his time. He had mills where the gems were ground as corn is ground in our country, and seem to have been as plentiful as corn. Egad, Lady Judith, how you would blaze in the Topsparkle diamonds!"

"Mr. Topsparkle must be sixty years of age!" exclaimed, the lady, with sovereign contempt.

"Nobody supposes you would marry him for his youth or his personal attractions. Yet he is by no means a bad-looking man, and he has had plenty of adventures in his day, I can assure your Ladyship. Il a vecu, as our neighbors say: Topsparkle is no simpleton. When he set out upon the grand tour nearly forty years ago, he carried with him about as scandalous a reputation as a gentleman of fashion could enjoy. He had been cut by all the strait-laced people; and it is only the fact of his incalculable wealth which has opened the doors of decent houses for him since his return."

"I thank you for the compliment implied in your recommendation of him to me as a husband," said Lady Judith, drawing herself up with that Juno-like air which made her seem half a head taller, and which accentuated every curve of her superb torso. "He is apparently a gentleman whom it would be a disgrace to know,"

"Oh, your Ladyship must be aware that a reformed rake makes the best husband. And since Topsparkle went on the Continent he has acquired a new reputation as a wit and a man of letters. He wrote an Assyrian story in the Italian language, about which the town raved a few years ago—a sort of demon story, ever so much cleverer than Voltaire's fanciful novels. Everybody was reading or pretending to read it."

"Oh, was that his?" exclaimed Judith, who read everything. "It was mighty clever. I begin to think better of your Topsparkle personage."

Five minutes afterwards, strolling languidly amid the crowd, with a plain cousin at her elbow for foil and duenna, Lady Judith met Mr. Topsparkle walking with no less a person than her father.

Lord Bramber enjoyed the privilege of an antique hereditary gout, and came to Bath every season for the waters. He was a man of imposing figure, at once tall and bulky, but he carried his vast proportions with dignity and ease. He was said to have been the handsomest man of his day, and had been admired even by an age which could boast of "Hervey the Handsome," John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, and the irresistible Henry St. John. Basking in that broad sunshine of popularity which is the portion of a man of high birth, graceful manners, and good looks, Lord Bramber had squandered a handsome fortune right royally, and now, at five-and-fifty, was as near insolvency as a gentleman dare be. His house in Pulteney Street was a kind of haven, to which he brought his family when London creditors began to be implacable. He had even thoughts of emigrating to Holland or Belgium, or to some old Roman town in the sunny South of France, where he might live upon his wife's pin-money, which happily was protected by stringent settlements and incorruptible trustees.

He had married two out of three daughters well, but not brilliantly. Judith was the youngest of the three, and she was the flower of the flock. She had been foolish, very foolish, about Lord Lavendale, and a faint cloud of scandal had hung over her name ever since her affair with that too notorious rake. Admirers she had by the score, but since the Lavendale entanglement there had been no serious advances from any suitor of mark.

But now Mr. Topsparkle, one of the wealthiest commoners in Great Britain, was obviously smitten with Lady Judith's perfections, and had a keen air which seemed to mean business, Lord Bramber thought. He had obtained an introduction to the earl within the last half-hour, and had not concealed his admiration for the earl's daughter. He had entreated the honor of a formal introduction to the exquisite creature with whom he had conversed on sportive terms last night at the Assembly Rooms.

Lady Judith acknowledged the introduction with the air of a queen to whom courtiers and compliments were as the gadflies of summer. She fanned herself listlessly, and stared about her while Mr. Topsparkle was talking.

"I vow, there is Mrs. Margetson," she exclaimed, recognizing an acquaintance across the crowd: "I have not seen her for a century. Heavens, how old and yellow she is looking—yellower even than you, Mattie!" this last by way of aside to her plain cousin.

"I hope you bear me no malice for my pertinacity last night, Lady Judith," murmured Topsparkle, insinuatingly.

"Malice, my good sir! I protest I never bear malice. To be malicious, one's feelings must be engaged; and you would hardly expect mine to be concerned in the mystifications of a dancing-room."

She looked over his head as she talked to him, still on the watch for familiar faces among the crowd, smiling at one, bowing at another. Mr. Topsparkle was savage at not being able to engage her attention. At Venice, whence he had come lately, all the women had courted him, hanging upon his words, adoring him as the keenest wit of his day.

He was an attenuated and rather effeminate person, exquisitely dressed and powdered, and not without a suspicion of rouge upon his hollow cheeks or of Vandyke brown upon his delicately penciled eyebrows. He, like Lord Bramber, presented the wreck of manly beauty; but whereas Bramber suggested a three-master of goodly bulk and tonnage, battered but still weather-proof and seaworthy, Topsparkle had the air of a delicate pinnace which time and tempest had worn to a mere phantasmal bark that the first storm would scatter into ruin.

He had hardly the air of a gentleman, Judith thought, watching him keenly all the while she seemed to ignore his existence. He was too fine, too highly trained for the genuine article; he lacked that easy inborn grace of the man in whom good manners are hereditary. There was nothing of the Cit about him; but there was the exaggerated elegance, the exotic grace, of a man who has too studiously cultivated the art of being a fine gentleman; who has learned his manners in dubious paths, from petites maitresses and prime donne, rather than from statesmen and princes.

On this, and on many a subsequent meeting, Lady Judith was just uncivil enough to fan the flame of Vivian Topsparkle's passion. He had begun in a somewhat philandering spirit, not quite determined whether Lord Bramber's daughter were worthy of him; but her hauteur made him her slave. Had she been civil he would have given more account to those old stories about Lavendale, and would have been inclined to draw back before finally committing himself. But a woman who could afford to be rude to the best match in England must needs be above all suspicion. Had her reputation been seriously damaged she would have caught at the chance of rehabilitating herself by a rich marriage. Had she been civil to him Mr. Topsparkle would have haggled and bargained about settlements; but his ever-present fear of losing her made him accede to Lord Bramber's exactions with a more than princely generosity, since but few princes could afford to be so liberal. He had set his heart upon having this woman for his wife—firstly, because she was the handsomest and most fashionable woman in London, and secondly, because so far as burnt-out embers can glow with new fire, Mr. Topsparkle's battered old heart was aflame with a very serious passion for this new deity.

So there was a grand wedding from the earl's house in Leicester Fields; not a crowded assembly, for only the very elite of the modish world were invited. The Duke, meaning his Grace of York, honored the company with his royal presence, and there were the great Sir Robert and a bevy of Cabinet ministers, and Mr. Topsparkle felt that he had canceled any old half-forgotten scandals as to his past life, and established himself in the highest social sphere by this alliance. As Vivian Topsparkle the half-foreign eccentric, he was a man to be stared at and talked about; but as the husband of Lord Bramber's daughter he had a footing—by right of alliance—in some of the noblest houses in England. His name and reputation were hooked on to old family trees; and those great people whose kinswoman he had married could not afford to have him maligned or slighted. In a word, Mr. Topsparkle felt that he had good value for his magnificent settlements.

Was Lady Judith Topsparkle happy, with all her blessings? She was gay; and with the polite world gayety ranks as happiness, and commands the envy of the crowd. Nobody envies the quiet matron whose domestic life flows onward with the placidity of a sluggish stream. It is the butterfly queen of the hour whom people admire and envy. Lady Judith, blazing in diamonds at a court ball, beautiful, daring, insolent, had half the town for her slaves and courtiers. Even women flattered and fawned upon her, delighted to be acknowledged as her acquaintance, proud to be invited to her parties or to dance attendance upon her in public assemblies.




The man of letters who devotes himself chiefly or wholly to criticism is an essentially modern type. Although the critical art has been practiced in all literary periods, it has not until the present century enlisted anything like the exclusive attention of writers of the highest order of attainment, but has rather played a subordinate part beside the constructive or creative work to the performance of which such men have given their best energies.

In the case of some writers, such as Voltaire and Samuel Johnson, we recognize the critical spirit that informs the bulk of their work, yet are compelled on the whole to classify them as poets, or historians, or philosophers. Even Coleridge, who wrote no inconsiderable amount of the best literary criticism in existence, is chiefly remembered as a poet; even Lessing, one of the fountain-heads of authoritative critical doctrine, owes to his plays the major part of his great reputation. As for such men as Ben Jonson and Dryden, Lamb and Shelley, Goethe and Heine, their critical utterances, precious and profound as they frequently are, figure but incidentally among their writings, and we read these men mainly for other reasons than that of learning their opinions about other people's productions. For examples of the man of letters considered primarily as critic, we must then look to our own century, and we find the type best illustrated by such men as Sainte-Beuve, Taine, Brunetiere, and the subject of the present sketch.

It is indeed a rather remarkable fact that the most conspicuous figure in literary Denmark at the present time should be not a poet or a novelist, but a critic pure and simple; for that is the title which must be given to Georg Brandes. Not only is his attitude consistently critical throughout the long series of his writings, but his form and matter are also avowedly critical; so much so that hardly one of his score or more of published volumes calls for classification in any other than the critical category. Even when he takes us with him upon his travels to France or Russia with the best intentions in the world as to the avoidance of "shop," he finds himself in the end talking about the literature and the politics of those countries. One of his latest books, 'Udenlandske Egne og Personligheder' (Foreign Parts and Personalities) has a preface with the following opening paragraph:—

"One gets tired of talking about books all the time. Even the man whose business it is to express himself in black and white has eyes like other people, and with them he perceives and observes the variegated visible world: its landscapes, cities, plain and cultivated men, plastic art. For him too does Nature exist; he too is moved at sight of such simple happenings as the fall of the leaves in October; he too is stirred as he gazes upon a waterfall, a mountain region, a sunlit glacier, a Dutch lake, and an Italian olive grove. He too has been in Arcadia."

Yet half the contents of the volume thus introduced must be described as the work of the critic. Not only are the set papers upon such men as Taine, Renan, and Maupassant deliberate critical studies, but the sketches of travel likewise are sure to get around to the art and literature of the countries visited.

The life of criticism, in the larger sense, comes from wide observation and a cultivation of the cosmopolitan spirit. And it must be said of Brandes that he is a critic in this large sense, that he has taken for his province the modern spirit in all its varied manifestations. The very title of his chief work—'Main Currents in the Literature of the Nineteenth Century'—shows him to be concerned with the broad movements of thought rather than with matters of narrow technique or the literary activity of any one country—least of all his own. It was peculiarly fortunate for Denmark that a critic of this type should have arisen within her borders a quarter-century ago. The Scandinavian countries lie so far apart from the chief centres of European thought that they are always in danger of lapsing into a narrow self-sufficiency so far as intellectual ideals are concerned. Danish literature has been made what it is chiefly by the mediation of a few powerful minds who have kept it in touch with modern progress: by Holberg, who may almost be said to have brought humanism into Denmark; by Oehlenschlaeger, who made the romantic movement as powerful an influence in Denmark as it was in Germany; by Brandes, who, beginning his career just after the war in which Denmark lost her provinces and became as embittered toward Germany as France was to become a few years later, strove to prevent the political breach from extending into the intellectual sphere, and helped his fellow-countrymen to understand that thought and progress are one and have a common aim, although nations may be many and antagonistic. There is much significance in the fact that the name of 'Emigrant Literature' is given to the first section of his greatest work. He thus styles the French literature of a century ago,—the work of such writers as Chateaubriand, Senancour, Constant, and Madame de Stael,—because it received a vivifying impulse from the emigration,—from the contact, forced or voluntary, of the French mind with the ideals of German and English civilization. It has been the chief function of Brandes, during the whole of his brilliant career, to supply points of contact between the intellectual life of Denmark and that of the rest of Europe, to bring his own country into the federal republic of letters.

A glance at the course of his life, and at the subjects of his books, will serve to outline the nature of the work to which his energies have been devoted. A Jew by race, Georg Morris Cohen Brandes was born February 4th, 1842. He went through his academic training with brilliant success, studied law for a brief period, and then drifted into journalism and literature. A long visit to Paris (1866-7) gave him breadth of view and the materials for his first books, 'AEsthetiske Studier' (AEsthetic Studies), 'Den Franske AEsthetik' (French AEsthetics), and a volume of 'Kritiker og Portraiter' (Criticisms and Portraits).

A later visit to foreign parts (1870-1) brought him into contact with Taine, Renan, and Mill, all of whom influenced him profoundly. In 1871 he began to lecture on literary subjects, chiefly in Copenhagen, and out of these lectures grew his 'Hovedstroemninger i det Nittende Aarhundredes Litteratur' (Main Currents in the Literature of the Nineteenth Century), a work that in the course of about ten years extended to six volumes, and must be considered not only the author's capital critical achievement, but also one of the greatest works of literary history and criticism that the nineteenth century has produced. The division of the subject is as follows:—1. 'Emigrant Literature'; 2. 'The Romantic School in Germany'; 3. 'The Reaction in France'; 4. 'Naturalism in England'; 5. 'The Romantic School in France'; 6. 'Young Germany.'

In spite of the growing fame that came to him from these masterly studies, Brandes felt the need of a larger audience than the Scandinavian countries could offer him, and in 1877 changed his residence from Copenhagen to Berlin, a step to which he was in part urged by the violent antagonism engendered at home by the radical and uncompromising character of many of his utterances. It was not until 1883 that he again took up residence in his own country, upon a guarantee of four thousand kroner (about $1000) annually for ten years, secured by some of his friends, the condition being that he should give courses of public lectures in Copenhagen during that period.

Among the works not yet named, mention should be made of his volumes upon Holberg, Tegner, Kierkegaard, Ferdinand Lassalle, and the Earl of Beaconsfield. These brilliant monographs are remarkable for their insight into the diverse types of character with which they deal, for their breadth of view, felicity of phrase, and originality of treatment. There are also several collections of miscellaneous essays, with such titles as 'Danske Digtere' (Danish Poets), 'Danske Personligheder' (Danish Personalities), 'Det Moderne Gjennembruds Maend' (Men of the Modern Awakening), and 'Udenlandske Egne og Personligheder' (Foreign Parts and Personalities). The latest publication of Brandes is a careful study of Shakespeare, a work of remarkable vigor, freshness, and sympathy.

As a critic, Brandes belongs distinctly to the class of those who speak with authority, and has little in common with the writers who are content to explore the recesses of their own subjectivity, and record their personal impressions of literature. Criticism is for him a matter of science, not of opinion, and he holds it subject to a definite method and body of principles. A few sentences from the second volume of his 'Hovedstroemninger' will illustrate what he conceives that method to be:—

"First and foremost, I endeavor everywhere to bring literature back to life. You will already have observed that while the older controversies in our literature—for example, that between Heiberg and Hauch, and even the famous controversy between Baggesen and Oehlenschlaeger—have been maintained in an exclusively literary domain and have become disputes about literary principles alone, the controversy aroused by my lectures, not merely by reason of the misapprehension of the opposition, but quite as much by reason of the very nature of my writing, has come to touch upon a swarm of religious, social, and moral problems.... It follows from my conception of the relation of literature to life that the history of literature I teach is not a history of literature for the drawing-room. I seize hold of actual life with all the strength I may, and show how the feelings that find their expression in literature spring up in the human heart. Now the human heart is no stagnant pool or idyllic woodland lake. It is an ocean with submarine vegetation and frightful inhabitants. The literary history and the poetry of the drawing-room see in the life of man a salon, a decorated ball-room, the men and the furnishings polished alike, in which no dark corners escape illumination. Let him who will, look at matters from this point of view; but it is no affair of mine."

The boldness and even the ruthlessness which characterize much of the author's work were plainly foreshadowed in this outspoken introduction; and he has grown more rather than less uncompromising during the quarter-century that has elapsed since they were spoken. Matthew Arnold would have applauded the envisagement of literature as "criticism of life," but would have deplored the sacrifice of sweetness to gain increased intensity of light. Brandes came back from contact with the European world full of enthusiasm for the new men and the new ideas,—for Comte and Taine, for Renan and Mill and Spencer,—and wanted his recalcitrant fellow-countrymen to accept them all at once. They were naturally taken aback by so imperious a demand, and their opposition created the atmosphere of controversy in which Brandes has ever since for the most part lived—with slight effort to soften its asperities, but, it must be added, with the ever-increasing respect of those not of his own way of thinking. On the whole, his work has been healthful and stimulating; it has stirred the sluggish to a renewed mental activity, and has made its author himself one of the most conspicuous figures of what he calls "det Moderne Gjennembrud"—the Modern Awakening.


From 'Eminent Authors of the Nineteenth Century': Translated by Professor Rasmus B. Anderson.

It is only necessary to bestow a single glance upon Bjoernson to be convinced how admirably he is equipped by nature for the hot strife a literary career brings with it in most lands, and especially in the combat-loving North. Shoulders as broad as his are not often seen, nor do we often behold so vigorous a form, one that seems as though created to be chiseled in granite.

There is perhaps no labor that so completely excites all the vital forces, exhausts the nerves, refines and enervates the feelings, as that of literary production. There has never been the slightest danger, however, that the exertions of Bjoernson's poetic productiveness would affect his lungs as in the case of Schiller, or his spine as in the case of Heine; there has been no cause to fear that inimical articles in the public journals would ever give him his death-blow, as they did Halvdan, the hero of his drama 'Redaktoeren' (The Editor); or that he would yield, as so many modern poets have yielded, to the temptation of resorting to pernicious stimulants or to dissipation as antidotes for the overwrought or depleted state of the nervous system occasioned by creative activity. Nothing has injured Bjoernson's spine; his lungs are without blemish; a cough is unknown to him; and his shoulders were fashioned to bear without discomposure the rude thrusts which the world gives, and to return them. He is perhaps the only important writer of our day of whom this may be said. As an author he is never nervous, not when he displays his greatest delicacy, not even when he evinces his most marked sensibility.

Strong as the beast of prey whose name [Bjoern=Bear] occurs twice in his; muscular, without the slightest trace of corpulence, of athletic build, he looms up majestically in my mind, with his massive head, his firmly compressed lips, and his sharp, penetrating gaze from behind his spectacles. It would be impossible for literary hostilities to overthrow this man, and for him there never existed that greatest danger to authors (a danger which for a long time menaced his great rival Henrik Ibsen), namely, that of having his name shrouded in silence. Even as a very young author, as a theatrical critic and political writer, he had entered the field of literature with such an eagerness for combat that a rumbling noise arose about him wherever he appeared. Like his own Thorbjoern in 'Synnoeve Solbakken,' he displayed in early youth the combative tendency of the athlete; but like his Sigurd in 'Sigurd Slembe,' he fought not merely to practice his strength, but from genuine though often mistaken love of truth and justice. At all events, he understood thoroughly who to attract attention.

An author may possess great and rare gifts, and yet, through lack of harmony between his own personal endowments and the national characteristics or the degree of development of his people, may long be prevented from attaining a brilliant success. Many of the world's greatest minds have suffered from this cause. Many, like Byron, Heine, and Henrik Ibsen, have left their native land; many more who have remained at home have felt forsaken by their compatriots. With Bjoernson the case is quite different. He has never, it is true, been peacefully recognized by the entire Norwegian people; at first, because the form he used was too new and unfamiliar; later, because his ideas were of too challenging a nature for the ruling, conservative, and highly orthodox circles of the land; even at the present time he is pursued by the press of the Norwegian government and by the leading official society with a fury which is as little choice in its selection of means as the bitterness which pursues the champions of thrones and altars in other countries. In spite of all this, Bjoernstjerne Bjoernson has his people behind him and about him as perhaps no other poet has, unless it be Victor Hugo. When his name is mentioned it is equivalent to hoisting the flag of Norway. In his noble qualities and in his faults, in his genius and in his weak points, he as thoroughly bears the stamp of Norway as Voltaire bore that of France. His boldness and his naivete, his open-heartedness as a man and the terseness of his style as an artist, the highly wrought and sensitive Norwegian popular sentiment, and the lively consciousness of the one-sidedness and the intellectual needs of his fellow-countrymen that has driven him to Scandinavianism, Pan-Teutonism, and cosmopolitanism—all this in its peculiar combination in him is so markedly national that his personality may be said to offer a resume of the entire people.

None of his contemporaries so fully represent this people's love of home and of freedom, its self-consciousness, rectitude, and fresh energy. Indeed, just now he also exemplifies on a large scale the people's tendency to self-criticism; not that scourging criticism which chastises with scorpions, and whose representative in Norway is Ibsen, in Russia Turgenieff, but the sharp bold expression of opinion begotten of love. He never calls attention to an evil in whose improvement and cure he does not believe, or to a vice which he despairs of seeing out-rooted. For he has implicit faith in the good in humanity, and possesses entire the invincible optimism of a large, genial, sanguine nature.

As to his character, he is half chieftain, half poet. He unites in his own person the two forms most prominent in ancient Norway—those of the warrior and of the scald. In his intellectual constitution he is partly a tribune of the people, partly a lay preacher; in other words, he combines in his public demeanor the political and religious pathos of his Norwegian contemporaries, and this became far more apparent after he broke loose from orthodoxy than it was before. Since his so-called apostasy he has in fact been a missionary and a reformer to a greater degree than ever.

He could have been the product of no other land than Norway, and far less than other authors could he thrive in any but his native soil. In the year 1880, when the rumor spread through the German press that Bjoernson, weary of continual wrangling at home, was about to settle in Germany, he wrote to me:—"In Norway will I live, in Norway will I lash and be lashed, in Norway will I sing and die."

To hold such intimate relations with one's fatherland is most fortunate for a person who is sympathetically comprehended by that fatherland. And this is the case with Bjoernson. It is a matter dependent on conditions deeply rooted in his nature. He who cherishes so profound an enthusiasm for the reserved, solitary Michelangelo, and who feels constrained, as a matter of course, to place him above Raphael, is himself a man of a totally different temperament: one who is never lonely, even when most alone (as he has been since 1873 on his gard in remote Gausdal), but who is social to the core, or, more strictly speaking, a thoroughly national character. He admires Michelangelo because he reveres and understands the elements of greatness, of profound earnestness, of mighty ruggedness in the human heart and in style; but he has nothing in common with the great Florentine's melancholy sense of isolation. He was born to be the founder of a party, and was therefore early attracted to enthusiastic and popular party leaders, such as the Dane Grundtvig and the Norwegian Wergeland, although wholly unlike either in his plastic, creative power. He is a man who needs to feel himself the centre, or rather the focus of sympathy, and insensibly he forms a circle about him, because his own nature is the resume of a social union.

Copyrighted by T.Y. Crowell and Company, New York.


From the Introduction to 'Main Currents in the Literature of the Nineteenth Century'

What I shall portray for you is a historical movement, having very completely the form and the character of a drama. The six distinct literary groups that I intend to present to you are entirely like the six acts of a great play. In the first group, the French emigrant-literature inspired by Rousseau, the reaction has already begun, but the reactionary currents are everywhere blended with the revolutionary. In the second group, the half-Catholic romantic school of Germany, the reaction is growing; it goes further, and holds itself more aloof from the contemporary movement towards freedom and progress. The third group, finally, formed of such writers as Joseph de Maistre, Lamennais in his orthodox period, Lamartine and Victor Hugo under the Restoration, when they were still firm supporters of the legitimist and clerical parties, stands for the reaction, impetuous and triumphant.

Byron and his associates make up the fourth group. This one man reverses the action of the great drama. The Greek war of liberation breaks out, a current of fresh air sweeps over Europe, Byron falls as a hero of the Greek cause, and his heroic death makes a deep impression upon all the writers of the Continent. Just before the July Revolution all the great French writers turn about, forming the fifth group, the French romantic school, and the new liberal movement is marked by the names of Lamennais, Hugo, Lamartine, De Musset, George Sand, and many others. And when the movement spreads from France into Germany, liberal ideas triumph in that land also, and the sixth and last group of authors I shall portray became inspired by the ideas of the July Revolution and the War of Liberation, seeing, like the French poets, in Byron's great shade the leader of the movement towards freedom. The most important of these young writers are of Jewish origin, as Heine, Boerne, and later, Auerbach.

I believe that from this great drama we may get a lesson for our own instruction. We are now, as usual, forty years behind the rest of Europe. In the literatures of those great countries the revolutionary stream long ago united with its tributaries, burst the dikes that were set to impede its course, and has been distributed into thousands of channels. We are still endeavoring to check it and hold it dammed up in the swamps of the reaction, but we have succeeded only in checking our literature itself.

It would hardly be difficult to secure unanimous consent to the proposition that Danish literature has at no time during the present century found itself languishing as in our own days. Poetical production is almost completely checked, and no problem of a general human or social character awakens interest or evokes any more serious discussion than that of the daily press or other ephemeral publication. Our productivity has never been strongly original, and we now utterly fail to appropriate the spiritual life of other lands, and our spiritual deafness has brought upon us the speechlessness of the deaf-mutes.

The proof that a literature in our days is alive is to be found in the fact that it brings problems up for debate. Thus George Sand brings marriage up for debate, Voltaire, Byron, and Feuerbach religion, Proudhon property, Alexander Dumas fils the relations of the sexes, and Emile Augier social relations in general. For a literature to bring nothing up for debate is the same thing as to lose all its significance. The people that produce such a literature may believe as firmly as they please that the salvation of the world will come from it, but their expectations will be doomed to disappointment; such a people can no more influence the development of civilization in the direction of progress than did the fly who thought he was urging the carriage onward by now and then giving the four horses an insignificant prick.

Many virtues—as for example warlike courage—may be preserved in such a society, but these virtues cannot sustain literature when intellectual courage has sunk and disappeared. All stagnant reaction is tyrannical; and when a community has by degrees so developed itself that it wears the features of tyranny beneath the mask of freedom, when every outspoken utterance that gives uncompromising expression to free thought is frowned upon by society, by the respectable part of the press, and by many officials of the State, very unusual conditions will be needed to call forth characters and talents of the sort upon which progress in any society depends. Should such a community develop a kind of poetry, we need not wonder overmuch if its essential tendency be to scorn the age and put it to shame. Such poetry will again and again describe the men of the time as wretches; and it may well happen that the books which are the most famous and the most sought after (Ibsen's 'Brand,' for example) will be those in which the reader is made to feel—at first with a sort of horror, and afterwards with a sort of satisfaction—what a worm he is, how miserable and how cowardly. It may happen, too, that for such a people the word Will becomes a sort of catchword, that it may cry aloud with dramas of the Will and philosophies of the Will. Men demand that which they do not possess; they call for that of which they most bitterly feel the lack; they call for that which there is the keenest inquiry for. Yet one would be mistaken were he pessimistically to assume that in such a people there is less courage, resolution, enthusiasm, and will than in the average of others. There is quite as much courage and freedom of thought, but still more is needed. For when the reaction in a literature forces the new ideas into the background, and when a community has daily heard itself blamed, derided, and even cursed for its hypocrisy and its conventionality, yet has remained convinced of its openness of mind, daily swinging censers before its own nostrils in praise thereof,—it requires unusual ability and unusual force of will to bring new blood into its literature. A soldier needs no uncommon courage to fire upon the enemy from the shelter of an earthwork; but if he has been led so ill that he finds no shelter at hand, we need not wonder if his courage forsakes him.

Various causes have contributed to the result that our literature has accomplished less than the greater ones in the service of progress. The very circumstances that have favored the development of our poetry have stood in our way. I may in the first place mention a certain childishness in the character of our people. We owe to this quality the almost unique naivete of our poetry. Naivete is an eminently poetical quality, and we find it in nearly all of our poets, from Oehlenschlaeger through Ingemann and Andersen to Hostrup. But naivete does not imply the revolutionary propensity. I may further mention the abstract idealism so strongly marked in our literature. It deals with our dreams, not with our life....

It sometimes happens to the Dane on his travels that a foreigner, after some desultory talk about Denmark, asks him this question: How may one learn what are the aspirations of your country? Has your contemporary literature developed any type that is palpable and easily grasped? The Dane is embarrassed in his reply. They all know of what class were the types that the eighteenth century bequeathed to the nineteenth. Let us name one or two representative types in the case of a single country, Germany. There is 'Nathan the Wise,' the ideal of the period of enlightenment; that is, the period of tolerance, noble humanity, and thorough-going rationalism. We can hardly say that we have held fast to this ideal or carried it on to further development, as it was carried on by Schleiermacher and many others in Germany. Mynster was our Schleiermacher, and we know how far his orthodoxy stands removed from Schleiermacher's liberalism. Instead of adopting rationalism and carrying it on, we have stepped farther and farther away from it. Clausen was once its advocate, but he is so no more. Heiberg is followed by Martensen, and Martensen's 'Speculative Dogmatic' is succeeded by his 'Christian Dogmatic.' In Oehlenschlaeger's poetry there is still the breath of rationalism, but the generation of Oehlenschlaeger and Oersted is followed by that of Kierkegaard and Paludan-Mueller.

The German literature of the eighteenth century bequeathed to us many other poetic ideals. There is Werther, the ideal of the "storm and stress" period, of the struggle of nature and passion with the customary order of society; then there is Faust, the very spirit of the new age with its new knowledge, who, still unsatisfied with what the period of enlightenment has won, foresees a higher truth, a higher happiness, and a thousandfold higher power; and there is Wilhelm Meister, the type of humanized culture, who goes through the school of life and from apprentice becomes master, who begins with the pursuit of ideals that soar above life and who ends by discerning the ideal in the real, for whom these two expressions finally melt into one. There is Goethe's Prometheus, who, chained to his rock, gives utterance to the philosophy of Spinoza in the sublime rhythms of enthusiasm. Last of all, there is the Marquis von Posa, the true incarnation of the revolution, the apostle and prophet of liberty, the type of a generation that would, by means of the uprising against all condemned traditions, make progress possible and bring happiness to mankind.

With such types in the past our Danish literature begins. Does it develop them further? We may not say that it does. For what is the test of progress? It is what happens afterward. It has not been printed in this shape, but I will tell you about it. One fine day, when Werther was going about as usual, dreaming despairingly of Lotte, it occurred to him that the bond between her and Albert was of slight consequence, and he won her from Albert. One fine day the Marquis von Posa wearied of preaching freedom to deaf ears at the court of Philip the Second, and drove a sword through the king's body—and Prometheus rose from his rock and overthrew Olympus, and Faust, who had knelt abjectly before the Earth-Spirit, took possession of his earth, and subdued it by means of steam, and electricity, and methodical investigation.

Translation of W.M. Payne.



In 1494, shortly after the invention of printing, there appeared in Basle a book entitled 'Das Narrenschiff' (The Ship of Fools). Its success was most extraordinary; it was immediately translated into various languages, and remained a favorite with the reading world throughout the sixteenth century. The secret of its popularity lay in its mixture of satire and allegory, which was exactly in accord with the spirit of the age. 'The Ship of Fools' was not only read by the cultivated classes who could appreciate the subtle flavor of the work, but—especially in Germany—it was a book for the people, relished by burgher and artisan as well as by courtier and scholar. Contemporary works contain many allusions to it; it was in fact so familiar to every one that monks preached upon texts drawn from it. This unique and powerful book carried the spirit of the Reformation where the words of Luther would have been unheeded, and it is supposed to have suggested to Erasmus his famous 'Praise of Folly.'

In its way, it was as important a production as Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress.' The 'Narrenschiff' was like a glass in which every man saw the reflection of his neighbor; for the old weather-beaten vessel was filled with a crew of fools, who impersonate the universal weaknesses of human nature. In his prologue Brandt says:—

"We well may call it Folly's mirror, Since every fool there sees his error: His proper worth would each man know, The glass of Fools the truth will show. Who meets his image on the page May learn to deem himself no sage, Nor shrink his nothingness to see, Since naught that lives from fault is free; And who in conscience dare be sworn That cap and bells he ne'er hath worn? He who his foolishness decries Alone deserves to rank as wise. He who doth wisdom's airs rehearse May stand godfather to my verse!

* * * * *

"For jest and earnest, use and sport, Here fools abound, of every sort. The sage may here find Wisdom's rules, And Folly learn the ways of fools. Dolts rich and poor my verse doth strike; The bad finds badness, like finds like; A cap on many a one I fit Who fain to wear it would omit. Were I to mention it by name, 'I know you not,' he would exclaim."

Sebastian Brandt represented all that was best in mediaeval Germany. He was a man of affairs, a diplomat, a scholar, an artist, and a citizen highly esteemed and reverenced for his judgment and knowledge. Naturally enough, he held important civic offices in Basle as well as in Strassburg, where he was born in 1458. His father, a wealthy burgher, sent him to the University of Basle to study philosophy and jurisprudence and to become filled with the political ideals of the day. He took his degree in law in 1484 at Basle, and practiced his profession, gaining in reputation every day.

In early youth he dedicated a number of works in prose and verse to the Emperor Maximilian, who made him Chancellor of the Empire, and frequently summoned him to his camp to take part in the negotiations regarding the Holy See. He was universally admired, and Erasmus, who saw him in Strassburg, spoke of him as the "incomparable Brandt." His portrait represents the polished Italian rather than the sturdy middle-class German citizen. His features are delicately cut, his nose long and thin, his face smooth, and his fur-bordered cap and brocade robes suggest aristocratic surroundings. No doubt he graced, by his appearance and bearing as well as by his richly stored mind, the dignity of Count Palatine, to which rank the Emperor raised him. He died in Strassburg in 1521, and lies in the great cathedral.

In addition to the pictures in the 'Ship of Fools' (some of which he drew, while others he designed and superintended), he illustrated 'Terence' (1496); the 'Quadragesimale, or Sermons on the Prodigal Son' (1495); 'Boetius' (1501), and 'Virgil' (1502), all of which are interesting to the artist and engraver. In the original edition of the 'Ship of Fools,' written in the Swabian dialect, every folly is accompanied with marginal notes giving the classical or Biblical prototype of the person satirized.

"Brandt's satires," says Max Mueller in his 'Chips from a German Workshop,' "are not very powerful, nor pungent, nor original. But his style is free and easy. He writes in short chapters, and mixes his fools in such a manner that we always meet with a variety of new faces. To account for his popularity we must remember the time in which he wrote. What had the poor people of Germany to read toward the end of the fifteenth century? Printing had been invented, and books were published and sold with great rapidity. People were not only fond, but proud, of reading. This entertainment was fashionable, and the first fool who enters Brandt's ship is the man who buys books. But what were the wares that were offered for sale? We find among the early prints of the fifteenth century religious, theological, and classical works in great abundance, and we know that the respectable and wealthy burghers of Augsburg and Strassburg were proud to fill their shelves with these portly volumes. But then German aldermen had wives and daughters and sons, and what were they to read during the long winter evenings?... There was room therefore at that time for a work like the 'Ship of Fools.' It was the first printed book that treated of contemporary events and living persons, instead of old German battles and French knights.

"People are always fond of reading the history of their own times. If the good qualities of the age are brought out, they think of themselves or their friends; if the dark features of their contemporaries are exhibited, they think of their neighbors and enemies. The 'Ship of Fools' is the sort of satire which ordinary people would read, and read with pleasure. They might feel a slight twinge now and then, but they would put down the book at the end, and thank God that they were not like other men. There is a chapter on Misers,—and who would not gladly give a penny to a beggar? There is a chapter on Gluttony,—and who was ever more than a little exhilarated after dinner? There is a chapter on Church-goers,—and who ever went to church for respectability's sake, or to show off a gaudy dress, or a fine dog, or a new hawk? There is a chapter on Dancing,—and who ever danced except for the sake of exercise?... We sometimes wish that Brandt's satire had been a little more searching, and that, instead of his many allusions to classical fools, ... he had given us a little more of the scandalous gossip of his own time. But he was too good a man to do this, and his contemporaries no doubt were grateful to him for his forbearance."

From a line in his poem saying that the Narrenschiff was to be found in the neighborhood of Aix, it is supposed that Brandt received his idea from an old chronicle which describes a ship built near Aix-la-Chapelle in the twelfth century, and which was borne through the country as the centre-piece for a carnival, and followed by a suite of men and women dressed in gay costume, singing and dancing to the sound of instruments. The old monk calls it "pagan worship," and denounces it severely; but Brandt saw great possibilities in it for pointing a moral, according to the fashion of his time. The illustrations contributed not a little to the popularity of the book, for he put all his humor into the pictures and all his sermons and exhortations into his text.

Just as Brandt in his literary qualities has been compared to Rabelais, so his satirical pencil has been likened to Hogarth's. Boldness, drollery, dramatic spirit, force, and spontaneous satire characterize both artists. He does not mount a pulpit and speak to the erring masses with sanctimonious self-righteousness; but he enters the Ship himself to lead the babbling folk in motley to the land of wisdom. His own folly is that of the student, and he therefore begins caricaturing himself.

To open the 'Ship of Fools' is to witness a masquerade of the fifteenth century. The frontispiece shows a large galley with high poop and prow and disordered rigging. Confusion reigns. Every one wears the livery of Folly,—the fantastic hood with two peaks like asses' ears, and decorated with tiny jingling bells. One man on the prow gesticulates wildly to a little boat, and cries to the passengers, "Zu schyff, zu schyff, brueder: ess gat, ess gat!" (On board, on board, brothers; it goes, it goes!)

In these pages every type of society is seen, "from beardless youth to crooked age," as the author asserts. Men and women of all classes and conditions, high and low, rich and poor, learned and unlearned: ladies in long trains and furred gowns; knights with long peaked shoes, carrying falcons upon their wrists; cooks and butlers busy in the kitchen; women gazing into mirrors; monks preaching in pulpits; merchants selling goods; gluttons at the table; drunkards in the tavern; alchemists in their laboratories; gamesters playing cards and rattling dice; lovers in shady groves—all and each wear Folly's cap and bells.

Another class of fools is seen engaged in ridiculous occupations, such as pouring water into wells; bearing the world on their shoulders; measuring the globe; or weighing heaven and earth in the balance. Still others despoil their fellows. Wine merchants introducing salt-petre, bones, mustard, and sulphur into barrels, the horse-dealer padding the foot of a lame horse, men selling inferior skins for good fur, and other cheats with false weights, short measure, and light money, prove that the vices of the modern age are not novelties. Other allegorical pictures and verses describe the mutability of fortune, where a wheel, guided by a gigantic hand outstretched from the sky, is adorned with three asses, wearing of course the cap and bells.

The best German editions of this book are by Zarneke (Leipsic, 1854), and Goedecke (1872). It was translated into Latin by Locker in 1497, into English by Henry Watson as 'The Grete Shyppe of Fooles of the Worlde' (1517); and by Alexander Barclay in 1509. The best edition of Barclay's adaptation, from which the extracts below are drawn, was published by T.H. Jamieson (Edinburgh, 1874).


Come to, Companyons: ren: tyme it is to rowe: Our Carake fletis[6]: the se is large and wyde And depe Inough: a pleasaunt wynde doth blowe. Prolonge no tyme, our Carake doth you byde, Our felawes tary for you on every syde. Hast hyther, I say, ye folys[7] naturall, Howe oft shall I you unto my Navy call?

Ye have one confort, ye shall nat be alone: Your company almoste is infynyte; For nowe alyve ar men but fewe or none That of my shyp can red hym selfe out quyte[8]. A fole in felawes hath pleasour and delyte. Here can none want, for our proclamacion Extendyth farre: and to many a straunge nacyon.

Both yonge and olde, pore man, and estate: The folysshe moder: hir doughter by hir syde, Ren to our Navy, ferynge to come to[o] late. No maner of degre is in the worlde wyde, But that for all theyr statelynes and pryde As many as from the way of wysdome tryp Shall have a rowme and place within my shyp.

My folysshe felawes therfore I you exort Hast to our Navy, for tyme it is to rowe: Nowe must we leve eche sympyll[9] haven and porte, And sayle to that londe where folys abound and flow; For whether we aryve at London or Bristowe, Or any other Haven within this our londe, We folys ynowe[10] shall fynde alway at honde....

Our frayle bodyes wandreth in care and payne And lyke to botes troubled with tempest sore From rocke to rocke cast in this se mundayne, Before our iyen beholde we ever more The deth of them that passed are before. Alas mysfortune us causeth oft to rue Whan to vayne thoughtis our bodyes we subdue.

We wander in more dout than mortall man can thynke. And oft by our foly and wylfull neglygence Our shyp is in great peryll for to synke. So sore ar we overcharged with offence We see the daunger before our owne presence Of straytis, rockis, and bankis of sonde full hye, Yet we procede to wylfull jeopardye.

We dyvers Monsters within the se beholde Redy to abuse or to devour mankynde, As Dolphyns, whallys, and wonders many folde, And oft the Marmaydes songe dullyth our mynde That to all goodnes we ar made dull and blynde; The wolves of these oft do us moche care, Yet we of them can never well beware....

About we wander in tempest and Tourment; What place is sure, where Foles may remayne And fyx theyr dwellynge sure and parmanent? None certainly: The cause thereof is playne. We wander in the se for pleasour, bydynge payne, And though the haven of helth be in our syght Alas we fle from it with all our myght.

[Footnote 6: Floats.]

[Footnote 7: Fools.]

[Footnote 8: Quite rid himself of.]

[Footnote 9: Single.]

[Footnote 10: Enough.]


A fole he is and voyde of reason Whiche with one hounde tendyth to take Two harys in one instant and season; Rightso is he that wolde undertake Hym to two lordes a servaunt to make; For whether that he be lefe or lothe, The one he shall displease, or els bothe.

A fole also he is withouten doute, And in his porpose sothly blyndyd sore, Which doth entende labour or go aboute To serve god, and also his wretchyd store Of worldly ryches: for as I sayde before, He that togyder will two maysters serve Shall one displease and nat his love deserve.

For he that with one hounde wol take also Two harys togyther in one instant For the moste parte doth the both two forgo, And if he one have: harde it is and skant And that blynd fole mad and ignorant That draweth thre boltis atons[11] in one bowe At one marke shall shote to[o] high or to[o] lowe....

He that his mynde settyth god truly to serve And his sayntes: this worlde settynge at nought Shall for rewarde everlastynge joy deserve, But in this worlde he that settyth his thought All men to please, and in favour to be brought Must lout and lurke, flater, laude, and lye: And cloke in knavys counseyll, though it fals be.

If any do hym wronge or injury He must it suffer and pacyently endure A double tunge with wordes like hony; And of his offycis if he wyll be sure He must be sober and colde of his langage, More to a knave, than to one of hye lynage.

Oft must he stoupe his bonet in his honde, His maysters back he must oft shrape and clawe, His brest anoyntynge, his mynde to understonde, But be it gode or bad therafter must he drawe. Without he can Jest he is nat worth a strawe, But in the mean tyme beware that he none checke; For than layth malyce a mylstone in his necke.

He that in court wyll love and favour have A fole must hym fayne, if he were none afore, And be as felow to every boy and knave, And to please his lorde he must styll laboure sore. His many folde charge maketh hym coveyt more That he had lever[12] serve a man in myserye Than serve his maker in tranquylyte.

But yet when he hath done his dylygence His lorde to serve, as I before have sayde, For one small faute or neglygent offence Suche a displeasoure agaynst hym may be layde That out is he cast bare and unpurvayde[13], Whether he be gentyll, yeman[14] grome or page; Thus worldly servyse is no sure herytage.

Wherfore I may prove by these examples playne That it is better more godly and plesant To leve this mondayne casualte and payne And to thy maker one god to be servaunt, Which whyle thou lyvest shall nat let the want That thou desyrest justly, for thy syrvyce, And than after gyve the, the joyes of Paradyse.

[Footnote 11: Three bolts at once.]

[Footnote 12: Rather.]

[Footnote 13: Unprovided.]

[Footnote 14: Yeoman.]


He that his tunge can temper and refrayne And asswage the foly of hasty langage Shall kepe his mynde from trouble, sadnes and payne, And fynde therby great ease and avauntage; Where as a hasty speker falleth in great domage Peryll and losse, in lyke wyse as the pye Betrays hir byrdes by hir chatrynge and crye....

Is it not better for one his tunge to kepe Where as he myght (perchaunce) with honestee, Than wordes to speke whiche make hym after wepe For great losse folowynge wo and adversyte? A worde ones spokyn revoked can not be, Therfore thy fynger lay before thy types, For a wyse mannys tunge without advysement trypes.

He that wyll answere of his owne folysshe brayne Before that any requyreth his counsayle Shewith him selfe and his hasty foly playne, Wherby men knowe his wordes of none avayle. Some have delyted in mad blaborynge and frayle Whiche after have supped bytter punysshement For their wordes spoken without advysement....

Many have ben whiche sholde have be counted wyse Sad and discrete, and right well sene[15] in scyence; But all they have defyled with this one vyse Of moche spekynge: o cursyd synne and offence Ryte it is that so great inconvenience So great shame, contempt rebuke and vylany Sholde by one small member came to the hole body.

Let suche take example by the chatrynge pye, Whiche doth hyr nest and byrdes also betraye By hyr grete chatterynge, clamoure dyn and crye, Ryght so these folys theyr owne foly bewraye. But touchynge wymen of them I wyll nought say, They can not speke, but ar as coy and styll As the horle wynde or clapper of a mylle.

[Footnote 15: Well seen—well versed.]

End of Volume V.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10
Home - Random Browse