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“ The people are proud and seditious, with bad consciences, and are faithless to their word, as experience has taught. These villains hate all sorts of foreigners; and although they have a good land and a good country, they are all constantly wicked and moved by every wind; for now they will love a prince; turn your hand, they will wish him killed and crucified."
ENGLISH LOVE OF LETTERS.—“ In this kingdom of England there are two universities, viz. Cambruches and Auxonne, called in Latin Auxonia, Cambruche, in Latin Cambrusium. The people of the country do not frequent them at all or very little, and do not give themselves up much to letters, but only to vanity and ambition, and merchandise."
“ The people are reprobates, and all enemies to good manners and letters."
THE AXE AND THE GIBBET.—Master Perlin describes, with some curious circumstantiality, the fatal attempt to place Lady Jane Grey upon the throne. He was pre nt at the execution of the Duke of Northumberland, which seems, as it naturally might, to have made a strong impression upon him. “A lamentable thing to see beneath whom a whole kingdom trembled, to see him in the hands of an executioner; and the executioner was lame (for I was present at the execution), and he had a white
like a butcher. lord made great lamentations and regrets at death, and said this oration in English, throwing himself on his two knees, looking up to heaven, and weeping passionately : ‘Lorde God mi fatre prie fort ous poores siners nond vand in the hoore of our theuth ;' which means in French,
Seigneur Dieu, mon père, prie pour nous hommes et pauvres pecheurs, et principalement à l'heure de nostre mort.' And after the execution you might have seen little children taking up the blood that had fallen through the chinks of the scaffold on which he had been decapitated. In this country they place the head on a pole of wood."
Some pages onward the good physician makes some sensible observations on the uncertainty of life in England to the noble and the great : “ In this country you will not meet with any great nobles whose relations have not had their heads cut off. Certes I should like better (with the reader's leave) to be a swineherd and preserve my head. For this affliction falls furiously upon the heads of the great nobles. For you will see these great lords in grand pomp and magnificence for a time; turn your hand, you will see them in the hands of the executioner.”
The great lords had the poor privilege of dying by the axe. The gibbet did its work upon the common people. Our penal laws were the opprobrium of Europe even three hundred years ago, and yet we scarcely began to reform them till our own generation. Hear how this foreigner regarded us : " In France justice is well administered, and not tyranny, as in England, which is the pest and ruin of a country; for a kingdom ought to be governed, not in shedding human blood in such abundance that the blood flows in streams, by which means the good are troubled.”
" In England there is so cruel a justice that for nothing they have a man killed; for where in France they would condemn a man to be whipped, here, without fail, he would be condemned to die. It is true, there are only two kinds of justice, namely, hanging and decapitation ; and thus a malefactor gains as much by doing a great deal of evil as a little, which ought not to be ; and the practice is better in France, where there are several kinds of punishments according to the crime. In this island they have no wheel, nor any other punishments than the two I. have mentioned. They make the poor criminals and condemned malefactors suffer on gibbets of wood outside the city, if they are not Milords, barbarously in French Milours, whom they kill in London to terrify the people."
ENGLISH CHEER._With all his dislike of us, the Frenchman seemed to relish our hospitality. He talks of the good cheer that he had, “unworthy as he was,” at the house of the Lord Ouardon (Lord Warden). Of the commonalty he says, “ The people of this place make great cheer, and like much to banquet, and you will see many rich taverns and tavern-keepers who have customarily large purses in which are three or four small purses full of money ; consequently we may consider that this country is very full of money, and that the tradespeople gain more in a week than those of Germany or Spain in a month. For you will see hatters and joiners, artizans generally, playing their crowns at tennis, which is not ordinarily seen in any other place, and particularly on a working day. And in a tavern they make good cheer oftener than once a day with rabbits, and hares, and every sort of food.
The English one with the other are joyous, and are very fond of music; for there is not ever so small a church in which music is not sung : and they are great drinkers; for, if an Englishman wishes to treat you, he will say to you in his language, vis dring a quarta rim oim gasquim oim hespaignol, oim malvoysi; which means, veulx tu venir boire une quarte de vin du gascoigne, une autre d'espaigne, et une autre de malvoisie. In drinking and in eating they will say to you more than a hundred times drind iou; and you will reply to them in their language, iplaigiu. If you thank them, you say to them in their language, god tanque artelay. Being drunk, they will swear to you by blood and death that you shall drink all that you hold in your cup, and will
to you thus, bigod sol drind iou agoud oiu. Now, remember (if you please) that in this country they generally use vessels of silver when they drink wine; and they will say to you usually at table, goud chere. The servants wait on their masters bareheaded, and leave their bonnets on the buffet." * * * 66
They use a great deal of beer, double and single, and they drink it not in glasses, but in earthenware pots of which the handles are of silver, and the cover; and this in houses where they are rather rich. For among the poor the covers of the beer-pots are merely of pewter, and in some places above villages the beer-pots are only of wood. They use much whiter bread than in France, and it was in
my time as cheap as in France ; and with their beer they have a custom of using very soft cakes, in which there are raisins, and which make
find the double beer very good; and I have had formerly at the Rie, a sea-port, as good as ever I drank in any country in the world. The people of this country are very good in the furniture of their houses, as good as any people in the world.”
SHOPS AND HOUSES.—” In this country all shops of all trades are open, like those of the barbers in France, and they have a great many openings of glass, as well in the workshops as in the higher chambers; for in the chambers you will see many windows of glass, and in almost all the houses of every town, although they belong to tradespeople; and all the houses here are like the working places of the barbers of France, as well above as below; and you will see in their workshops and windows, as often in towns as in villages, a great many flowers, and in taverns a great deal of hay on the wooden benches, and many tapestried cushions on which the travellers sit down."
“ The English make great use of tapestries and of painted linens,
which are well done, and on which are many magnificent roses embellished with fleurs-de-lis and lions, for you can enter but few houses where you
do not find these tapestries.” THE COUNTRY.—Master Perlin does not confine his observations to the towns and cities, of which he says there are not more than twentyfive inelosed with walls and ditches.
* The country is well covered and shady, for the lands are all enclosed with hedges, oaks, and several other sorts of trees, so that in travelling you think you are in a perpetual wood, but
will discover many flights of steps, which are called in English amphores (stiles), and by which persons on foot go along little paths and enter the grounds ; persons on horseback do not go thus, but go on the high road between trees and bushes. In this country there are no shepherds who generally keep the sheep, but they usually leave them in the woods morning and evening, and in the open fields.” He tells us, moreover, that " the English are excellent at all sorts of fruits, as apricots and peaches." “The people are all armed ; and the labourers, when they till the ground, leave their swords and their bows in a corner of the field.”
We conclude with Master Perlin's last words, And this is enough about England."
138.—THE MERRY DEVIL OF EDMONTON. CHARLES LAMB, who speaks of this play with a warmth of admiration which is probably carried a little too far, and which, indeed, may in some degree be attributed to his familiarity with the quiet rural scenery of Enfield, Waltham, Cheshunt, and Edmonton, in which places the story is laid, says, I wish it could be ascertained that Michael Drayton was the author of this piece: it would add a worthy appendage to the renown of that panegyrist of my native earth; who has gone over her soil (in his Polyolbion) with the fidelity of a herald, and the painful love of à son; who has not left a rivulet (so narrow that it may be stepped over) without honourable mention; and has animated hills and streams with life and passion above the dreams of old mythology." Some have attributed this play to Shakspere. The Merry Devil' was undoubtedly a play of great popularity. We find, from the accountbooks of the Revels at court, that it was acted before the king in the same year, 1618, with Twelfth-Night' and • Winter's Tale.' In 1616, Ben Jonson, in his prologue to · The Devil is an Ass,' thus addresses his audience :
If you 'll come
Your dear delight, the · Devil of Edmonton.' Its popularity seems to have lasted much longer; for it is mentioned by Edmund Gayton, in 1654, in his · Notes on Don Quixote.' The belief that the play was Shakspere's has never taken any root in Eng. land. Some of the recent German critics, however, adopt it as his without any hesitation. Fuller, in his · Worthies,' thus records the merits of Peter Fabel, the hero of this play :-“I shall probably offend the gravity of some to insert, and certainly the curiosity of others to omit, him. Some make him a friar, others a lay gentleman, all a conceited person, who, with his merry devices, deceived the devil, who by grace may be resisted, not deceived by wit. If a grave bishop in his sermon, speaking of Brute's coming into this land, said it was but a bruit
, I hope I may say without offence that this Fabel was but a fable, sup. posed to live in the reign of King Henry the Sixth.” His fame is more confidingly recorded in the prologue to. The Merry Devil:'
'Tis Peter Fabel, a renowned scholar,
That whilst he lived he could deceive the devil. The prologue goes on to suppose him at Cambridge at the hour when the term of his compact with the fiend is run out. We are not here to look for the terrible solemnity of the similar scene in Marlowe's
Faustus; ' but, nevertheless, that before us is written with great poetical power. Coreb, the spirit, thus addresses the magician :
Coreb. Why, scholar, this is the hour my date expires;