Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

V. FIFTH STAGE.

Modern English.
(FROM ABOUT A.D. 1550 TO THE PRESENT TIME.)

[ocr errors]

SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.'
1. A SCENE IN ARCADIA.

(FROM THE “ ARCADIA,” WRITTEN ABOUT 1580.)

THERE were hills which garnished their proud heights with stately trees; humble valleys, whose base estate (lowly con

*** Literature, as distinguished from mere writing, which had fallen into the shade since the days of Chaucer, was now becoming an object to be pursued for its own sake, and the genius which conceived high thoughts struggled to mould them into a worthy shape ere it presented them to the world. The notion that the expression was a matter of any concern had been entirely set aside in practice, and so the masters of thought, the lords of intellectual wealth, had, to use Wilson's homely but pointed phraseology, “ gone with their hose out at heels, their showes out at toes, and their coates out at both elbowes.” The time was now come for a different state of things, and noble thoughts were to receive the apparel of noble language. As, henceforth, the language will be considered as substantially formed, and no longer in process of formation, the spelling hitherto scrupulously presented in its

grity, will be modernised, except when, as in the case of Milton, Landor, and some others, it is really a matter of conscience on the part of the author, and not a matter of caprice, as it frequently has been, on the part of the printer. Special words will, therefore, be presented in their original spelling, and distinguished by inverted commas.

(1) “ Sidney's prose is the most flowing and poetical that had yet been written in English ; but its grace was rather that of artful elaboration than of a vivid, natural expressiveness. * * Sidney's is a wonderful style, always flexible, harmonious, and luminous, and on fit occasions, rising to great stateliness and splendour."-Craik's "History of English Literature," vol. I. p. 497.

" It was the Arcadia, which first taught to the contemporary writers that inimitable interweaving and contexture of words - that bold and unshackled use and application of them, that art of giving to language, appropriated to objects the most common and trivial, a kind of acquired and adscititious (supplemental)

dition) seemed comforted' with the refreshing of silver rivers ; meadows, enamelled with all sorts of eye-pleasing flowers; thickets, which being lined with most pleasant shade were witnessed so to (were attested to be such) by the cheerful disposition of many well-tuned birds; each pasture stored with sheep, feeding with sober security, while the pretty lambs, with bleating oratory, craved the dam's comfort ; here a shepherd's boy, piping as though he never should be old; there a young shepherdess knitting, and withal singing, and it seemed that her voice comforted (strengthened) her hands to work, and her hands kept time to her voice's music.

2. THE STAG HUNT.

(FROM THE SAME WORK.) THEN went they together abroad, the good Kalendar (the host) entertaining them with pleasant discoursing-how well he loved the sport of hunting when he was a young man, how much in the comparison thereof he disdained all chamberdelights, that the sun (how great a journey soever he had to make) could never prevent (be beforehand with him with earliness, nor the moon, with her sober countenance, dissuade him from watching till midnight for the deers' feeding. Oh, said he, you will never live to my age without (unless) you keep yourselves in breath with exercise, and in heart with joyfulness. Too much thinking doth consume the spirits; and oft it falls out, that while one thinks? too much of his doing, he leaves to do (he fails to carry out) the effect of his thinking.

Then spared he not to remember(recount) how much Arcadia was changed since his youth ; activity and good fellowship being nothing in the price it was then held in (beiny far less esteemed than it then was); but according to the

loftiness; and to diction, in itself noble and elevated, a sort of superadded dignity, that power of ennobling the sentiments by the language and the language by the sentiments which so often excite our admiration in perusing the writers of the age of Elizabeth."-Retrospective Review, vol. II., p. 43.

To the above may be added the remark—that very much of the attention which now began to be given to style, was, probably, due to the precepts and example of Cheke, Ascham, Wilson, and Puttenham.

(1) Comforted. See note 2, p. 24.

(2) One thinks This expression supersedes the use of man, for which see Ascham, note 2, p. 71. It is used above exactly as in mod. Eng.

(3) Remember seems here to mean, remember for the purpose of relating.

nature of the old-growing world, still worse and worse. Then would he tell them stories of such gallants' (young fellows) as he had known; and so with pleasant company, beguiled the time's haste, and shortened the way's length, till they came to the side of the wood, where the hounds were in couples, staying (waiting for) their coming, but with a whining accent craving liberty ; many of them in colours and in marks so resembling? (like one another), that it showed they were of one kind. The huntsmen, handsomely attired in their green liveries, as though they were children of summer, with staves in their hands to beat the guiltless earth when the hounds were at a fault, and with horns about their necks to sound an alarm (“alarum ’) upon a silly fugitive; the hounds were straight uncoupled, and ere long the stag thought it better to trust to the nimbleness of his feet than to the slender fortitication of his lodging (i.e. the trees of the thicket). But even his feet betrayed him; for, howsoever they went, they themselves uttered themselves to the scent of their enemies, who (i.e. the hounds), one taking it (the scent) of another and sometimes believing the wind's advertisements (communications), sometimes the view of their faithful counsellors, the huntsmen, with open mouths then denounced war, when the war was already begun; their cry being composed of so well sorted mouths, that any man would perceive there is some kind of proportion (harmony), but the skilful woodmen (huntsmen) did find as music. The delight (the feeling of delight) and variety of opinion (as to where the stag was) drew the horsemen sundry ways, yet cheering: their hounds with voice and horn kept

(1) Gallant or galant, fr. old Fr. verb galer, wh, according to Scheler (Dictionnaire Etymologique Française), is connected with the Spanish gala, magnificence, enjoyment, gaiety, and means to indulge in luxury and prodigal expense, to enjoy life. Hence the part. galant, one so indulging himself, therefore high spirited; and hence applied to young men of birth and fashion. Lord Berners, in his translation of Froissart, has, “ Thus these four rode night and day, lyke young lusty galantes.

(2) Resembling, fr. old Fr, resembler, wh. fr. Lat. (re)simulare, to put on the appearance of something else ; hence to be like. The absolute use of the word, as above, without mentioning the object of comparison, is now unknown.

(3) Cheer. See note 7, p. 55. As we saw that cheer meant countenance, so to cheer means to countenance, or show favour. The next step was to second the expression of the countenance by shouts or gestures, as above. In the controversy respecting Mr. Collier's “correctionsof Shakspere-about seven years ago—it was brought forward as a conclusive evidence against an emendation of a passage in “ Coriolanus," where the nurse is described as “letting her baby cry, while she cheers," that the word cheer “in Shakspere, and for 150 years afterwards,” had

(they kept) still, as it were in some respects), together. The wood seemed to conspire with them against his (its) own citizens (inhabitants) dispersing their voice through all his (its) quarters ; and ever the nymph Echo left to bewail (left off bewailing) the loss of Narcissus, and became a hunter (i.e. joined the hunt). But the stag was in the end (at last) so hotly pursued, that, leaving (giving up) his flight, he was driven to make

courage of despair, and so turning his head, made the hounds, with change of speech (note), to testify that he was at bay; as if from hot pursuit of their enemy, they were suddenly come to a parley.

3. PAMELA'S PRAYER TO GOD IN HER

TROUBLES.3

(FROM THE SAME WORK.) O ALL-SEEING Light and Eternal Life of all things, to whom nothing is either so great that it may (can) resist, or so small that it is contensed, look upon my misery with thine eye of mercy, and let thine infinite power vouchsafe to limit (measure) out some proportion (share) of deliverance unto me, às to that shall seem most convenient (fitting). Let not injury, O Lord, triumph over me, and let my faults by thy hand be corrected, and make not mine unjust enemy the minister of thy

no such sense as “hurraing or shouting approvingly.” The above passage seems to show that it had.

(1) Courage of despair. Compare Milton (“Paradise Lost," i., 19). Satan proposes to consult or consider

“ What reinforcement we may gain from hope,

If not, what resolution from despair." (2) At bay or at a bay, i.e. at or in front of the barking, which was redoubled, denoted by the (“ change of speech,") now that the stag had ceased to fly. The old Fr. word abbay, barking or baying of dogs, seems to be the origin of the expression at a bay. Aux abbois or aux abbays was the Fr. phrase, and tenir in abbay, to hold at bay (Cotgrave).

(3) This prayer—which has been justly characterised as “elevated, and even suhliine "-was, it appears, bound up, along with others, with the Ikon Basilike, and is said to have been used by Charles I. in the timo of his sufferings. Milton, in his “ Iconoclastes,” has severely, and somewhat ungenerously, reflected on the king, for “stealing," as he calls it, “word for word, a prayer from the mouth of a heathen woman praying to a heathen god."

justice. But yet, my God, if in thy wisdom this be the aptest chastisement for my unexcusable fòlly; if this low bondage be fittest for my over-high desires; if the pride of my not-enough humble heart be thus to be broken, O Lord, I yield unto thy will, and joyfully embrace that sorrow thou wilt have me suffer. Only thus much let me crave of thee (let my craving, O Lord, be accepted of thee, since even that proceeds from thee), let me crave, even by the noblest title, which is my greatest affliction, I may give myself, that I am thy creature, and by thy goodness (which is thyself) that thou wilt suffer some beam of thy majesty so to shine into my mind, that it may still depend confidently upon thee. Let calamity be the exercise, but not the overthrow of my existence; let their power (i.e. the power of my enemies) prevail, but prevail not to destruction. Let my greatness be their prey; let my pain be the sweetness of their revenge (be a sweet revenge to them); let them, if so seem (if it 80 seem) good unto thee, vex me with more and more punishment; but, O Lord, let never their wickedness have such a hand (só far prevail), but that I may carry a pure mind in a pure body.

4. THE POET."

(FROM " THE DEFENSE OF POESY," PUBLISHED IN 1595.)

THE Greeks named him (the poet) months, which name hath, as the most excellent, gone through other languages It cometh of this word moleīv, which is to make ; wherein I know not whether by luck or wisdom, we Englishmen have met with (agreed with) the Greeks in calling him a maker, which name, how high and incomparable a title it is (high and incumparable a title as it is), I had rather were known by marking the scope of other sciences, than by my partial allegation (assertion).

(1) The general argument maintained in this passage is that whereas the astronomer, the mathematician, the natural philosopher, as well as the lawyer, the historian, and the grammarian, can only expound and put forth what is already made, the poet, or maker, has the superlative gift of creating, what, but for him, would h ve no existence.

(2) Maker. The Greek word, as Sidney says above, means a maker. In early English too, as Chaucer and Piers Ploughman, we have the word makynge for “poetical composition.” The Scottish writers use makar in the same sense. The A.S. word scóp, derived from sceoppan, to form or create, conveys the same idea.

« AnteriorContinuar »