Imágenes de página

waited till the Baron and the hunters arrived, and then, still doubting the further designs of Gaston, hastened to his castle, to arm the band which had escorted them to Queenhoo-Hall.

Fitzosborne's story being finished, he received the thanks of all the company, particularly of St Clero, who feit deeply the respectful delicacy with which he had conducted himself towards his sister. The lady was carefully informed of her obligations to him; and it is left to the welljudging reader, whether even the raillery of Lady Eleanor made her regret, that Heaven had only employed natural means for her security, and that the guardian angel was converted into a handsome, gallant, and enamoured knight.

The joy of the company in the hall extended itself to the buttery, whero Gregory the jester narrated such feats of arms done by himself in the fray of the morning, as might have shamed Bevis and Guy of Warwick. He was, according to his narrativo, singled out for destruction by the gigantic Baron himself, while he abandoned to meaner hands the destruction of St Clere and Fitzosborne.

“ But certes,” said he, “the foul paynim mot his match ; for, ever as he foined at me with his brand, I parried his blows with my bauble, and closing with him upon the third veny, threw him to the ground, and made him cry recreant to an unarmed man.”

“Tush, man,” said Drawslot, “thou forgettest thy best auxiliaries, tho good greyhounds, Help and Holdfast! I warrant thes, that when the humpbacked Baron caught thee by the cowl, which he had almost torn thou hadst been in a fair plight had they not remembered an old friend, and come in to the rescue. Why, man, I found them fastened on him myself; and there was odd staving and stickling to make them ware haunch!' Their mouths were full of the flex, for I pulled a piece of the garment from their jaws. I warrant thee, that when they brought him to ground, thou fledst like a frighted pricket.”.

“ And as for Gregory's gigantic paynim, ,” said Fabian, "why, he lies yonder in the guard-room, the very size, shape, and colour of a spider in a yew-bedge.”

“ It is false !” said Gregory; " Colbrand the Dane was a dwarf to him.”

" It is as true," returned Fabian, “as that the Tasker is to be married, on Tuesday, to pretty Margery. Gregory, thy sheet hath brought them between a pair of blankets.

"I care no more for such a gillflirt," said the Jester, “than I do for thy leasings. Marry, thou hop-o'-my-thumb, happy wouldst thou be could thy head reach the captive Baron's girdle."

By the mass,” said Peter Lanaret, "I will have one peep at this burly gallant;” and, leaving the buttery, he went to the guard-room where Gaston St Clere was confined. A man-at-arms, who kept sentinel on the strong studded door of the apartment, said, ho believed he slept; for that, after raging, stamping, and uttering the most horrid imprecations, he had been of lato perfectly still. The Falconer gently drew back a sliding board, of a foot square, towards the top of the door, which covered a hole of the same size, strongly latticed, through which the warder, without opening the door, could look in upon his prisoner. From this aperture he bebeld the wretched Gaston suspended by the neck, by his own girdle, to an iron ring in the side of bis prison. He had clambered to it by means of the table on which his food had been placed ; and, in the agonies of shame and disappointed malico, had adopted tbis mode of ridding himself of a wretched life. He was found yet warm, but totally, lifeless. A proper account of the manner of his death was drawn up and certified. He was buried that

Avening, in the chapel of the castle, out of respect to his high birth ; and the chaplain of Fitzallen of Marden, who said the service upon the occasion, preached, the next Sunday, an excellent sermon upon the text, Radić malorum est cupiditas, which we have here transcribed.

[loro the manuscript, from which which we have painfully transcribed, and frequently, as it were, translated this tale, for the reader's edification, is so indistinct and defaced, that, excepting certain howbeits, nathlesses, lo yo's! &c. we can pick out little that is intelligible, saving that avarice is defined “a likourishness of heart after earthly things.” A little farther, there seems to have been a gay account of Margery's wedding with Ralph the Tasker; the running at the quintain, and other rural games practised on the occasion. There are also fragments of a mock sermon preached by Gregory upon that occasion, as for example :-

My dear cursed caitiffs, there was once a king and he wedded a young old queen, and she had a child; and this child was sent to Solomon the Sage, praying he would give it the same blessing which he got from the witch of Endor when she bit him by the heel. Hereof speaks the worthy Dr Radigundus Potator ; why should not mass be said for all the roasted shoe souls served up in the king's dish on Saturday? for true it is, that St Peter asked father Adam, as they journeyed to Camelot, an high, great, and doubtful question, ‘Adam, Adam, why eatedst thou the apple without paring?'1

With much goodly gibberish to the same effect; which display of Gregory's ready wit not only threw the whole company into convulsions of laughter, but made such an impression on Rose, tho Potter's daughter, that it was thought it would be the Jester's own fault if Jack was long without his Jill. Much pithy matter, concerning the bringing the bride to bed—the loosing the bridegroom's points-the scramble which ensued for them--and the casting of the stocking, is also omitted, from its obscurity.

The following song, which has been since borrowed by the worshipfu. author of the famous “ History of Fryar Bacon,” has been with difficulty deciphered. It seems to have been sung on occasion of carrying homo the bride.


To the tune of_"I have been a Fiddier," dic.

And did you not bear of a mirth befell

The morrow after a wedding day,
And carrying a bride at home to dwell;

And away to Tewin, away, away !

1 This tirade of gibberish is literally taken or selected from a mock discourse pro nounced by a professed jester, which occurs in an ancient manuscript in the Advocates' Library, the same from which the late ingenious Mr Weber published the curious comic romance of the Hunting of the Hare. It was introduced in compliance with Mr Strutt's plan of rendering his tale an illustration of ancient manners. A similar burlesque sermon is pronounced by the Fool in Sir David Lindesay's satire of the Thrce Estates. The nonsense and vulgar burlesque of that composition illustrate the ground of Sir Andrew Aguecheek's eulogy on the exploits of the jester in Twelfth Night, who, reserving his sharper jests for Sir Toby, had doubtless enouglı of the jargon of his calling to captivate the imbecility of his brother knight, who is made to exclaim-"In sooth, thou wast in very gracious fooling last night, when thou spokest of Pigrogremi. tus, and of the vapours passing the equinoctials of Quenbus ; 'twas very good, i' faith!” It is entertaining to find commentators seeking to discover some meaning in the profossional; argon of such a passage as this,

The quintain was set, and the garlands were made,

'Tis pity old customs should ever decay;
And woe be to him that was horsed on a jade,

For he carried no credit away, away.
We met a concert of fiddle-de-dees;

We set them a cockhorse, and made them play
The winning of Bullen, and Upsey-frees,

And away to Tewin, away, away!
There was ne'er a lad in all the parish

That would go to the plough that day ;
But on his fore-horse his wench he carries,

And away to Tewin, away, away!
The butler was quick, and the ale he did tap,

The maidens did make the chamber full gay;
The servants did give me a fuddling cup,

And I did carry't away, away.
The smith of the town his liquor so took,

That he was persuaded that the ground look'd blue;
And I dare boldly be sworn on a book,

Such smiths as he there's but a few.
A posset was made, and the women did sip,

And simpering said they could eat no more;
Full many a maiden was laid on the lip,-

I'll say no more, but give o'er, (give o'er.) But what our fair readers will chiefly regret, is the loss of three declarations of love; the first by St Clere to Matilda ; which, with the lady's answer, occupies fifteen closely written pages of manuscript. That of Fitzosborne to Emma is not much shorter, but the amours of Fitzallen and Eleanor, being of a less romantic cast, are closed in three pages only. The three noble couples were married in Queenhoo-Hall upon the same day, being the twentieth Sunday after Easter. There is a prolix account of the marriage-feast, of which we can pick out the names of a few dishes, such as peterel, crane, sturgeon, swan, &c. &c., with a profusion of wild-fowl and venison. We also see, that a suitable song was produced by Peretto on the occasion; and that the bishop, who blessed the bridal beds which received the happy couples, was no niggard of his holy water, bestowing half a gallon upon each of the couches. We regret we cannot give these curiosities to the reader in detail, but we hope to expose the manuscript to abler antiquaries, so soon as it shall be framed and glazed by the ingenious artist who rendered that service to Mr Ireland's Shakspeare MSS. And so, (being unable to lay aside the style to which our pen is habituated,) gentlo reader, we bid thee heartily farewell.]

No. III.




It is well known in the South that there is little or no boxing at the Scottish schools. About forty or fifty years ago, however, a far more dangerous mode of fighting, in parties or factions, was permitted in the

streets of Edinburgh, to the great disgrace of the police, and danger of the parties concerned. These parties were generalıy formed from tho quarters of the town in which the combatants resided, those of a particular square or district fighting against those of an adjoining one. Hence it happened that the children of the higher classes were often pitted against those of the lower, each taking their side according to the residence of their friends. So far as I recollect, however, it was unmingled either with feelings of democracy or aristocracy, or indeed with malice or jll-will of any kind towards the opposite party. In fact, it was only, a rough mode of play. Such contests were, however, maintained with great vigour with stones, and sticks, and fisticuffs, when one party dared to charge, and the other stood their ground. Of course mischief sometimes happened: boys are said to have been killed at these bickers, as they were called, and serious accidents certainly took place, as many contemporaries can bear witness.

The author's father residing in George Square, in the southern side of Edinburgh, the boys belonging to that family, with others in the square, were arranged into a sort of company, to which a lady of distinction presented a handsome set of colours. Now this company or regiment, as a matter of course, was engaged in weekly warfare with the boys inhabiting the Crosscauseway, Bristo Street, the Potterrow,- in short, the neighbouring suburbs. These last were chiefly of the lower rank, but hardy loons, who threw stones to a hair's-breadth, and were very rugged antagonists at close quarters. The skirmish sometimes lasted for a whole evening, until one party or the other was victorious, when, if ours were successful, we drove the enemy to their quarters, and were usually chased back by the reinforcement of bigger lads who came to their assistance. If, on the contrary, we were pursued, as was often the case, into the precincts of our square, we were in our turn supported by our elder brothers, domestic servants, and similar auxiliaries.

It followed, from our frequent opposition to each other, that though not knowing the names of our enemies, we were yet well acquainted with their appearance, and had nicknames for the most remarkable of them. One very active and spirited boy might be considered as the principal leader in the cohort of the suburbs. He was, I suppose, thirteen or fourteen years old, finely made, tall, blue-eyed, with long fair hair, the very picture of a youthful Goth. This lad was always first in the charge, and last in the retreat-the Achilles, at once, and Ajax, of the Crosscauseway. He was too formidable to us not to have a cognomen, and, like that of a knight of old, it was taken from the most remarkable part of his dress, being a pair of old green livery breeches, which was the principal part of his clothing; for, like Pentapolin, according to Don Quixote's account, Groen-Breeks, as we called him, always entered the battle with bare arms, legs, and feet.

It fell, that once upon a time, when the combat was at the thickest, this plebeian champion headed a sudden charge, so rapid and furious, that all fled before him. He was several paces before his comrades, and had actually laid his hands on the patrician standard, when one of our party, whom some misjudging friend had intrusted with a couteau de chasse, or hanger, inspired with a zeal for the honour of the corps, worthy of Major Sturgeon himself, struck poor Green-Breeks over the head, with strength sufficient to cut bim down. When this was seen, the casualty was so far beyond what bad ever taken place before, that both parties fed different ways, leaving poor Green-Breeks with his bright hair plentifully dabbled in blood, to the care of the watchman, who (honest man) took care not to know who had done the mischief. The bloody hanger was flung into one of the Meadow ditches, and solemn secrecy was sworn on all hands; but


the remorse and terror of the actor were beyond all bounds, and his apprehensions of the most dreadful character. The wounded hero was for a few days in the Infirmary, the case being only a triling one. But though inquiry was strongly pressed on him, no argument could make him indicate the person from whom he had received the wound, though he must have been perfectly well known to him. When he recovered, and was dismissed, the author and his brothers opened a communication with him, through the medium of a popular gingerbread baker, of whom both parties were customers, in order to tender a subsidy in name of smart-money. The sum would excite ridicule were I to name it: but sure I am, that the pockets of the noted Green-Breeks. never held as much money of his own. He declined the remittance, saying that he would not sell his blood; but at the same time reprobated the idea of being an informer, which he said was clam, i. e. base or mean. With much urgency he accepted a pound of snuff for the use of some old woman,-aunt, grandmother, or the like,with whom he lived. We did not become friends, for the bickers were more agreeable to both parties than any more pacific amusement; but we conducted them ever after under mutual assurances of the highest consideration for each other.

Such was the hero whom Mr Thomas Scott proposed to carry to Canada, and involve in adventures with the natives and colonists of that country. Perhaps the youthful generosity of the lad will not seem so great in the eyes of others, as to those whom it was the means of screening from severe rebuke and punishment. But it seemed to those concerned, to argue a nobleness of sentiment far beyond the pitch of most minds; and however obscurely the lad, who showed such a frame of noble spirit, may have lived or died, I cannot help being of opinion, that if fortune had placed him in circumstances calling for gallantry or generosity, the man would have fulfilled the promises of the boy. Long afterwards, when the story was told to my father, he censured us severely for not telling the truth at the time, that he might have attempted to be of use to the young man in entering on life. But our alarms for the consequences of the drawn sword, and the wound inflicted with such a weapon, were far too predominant at the time for such a pitch of generosity.

Perhaps I ought not to have inserted this schoolboy tale; but, besides the strong impression made by the incident at the time, the whole accompaniments of the story are matters to me of solemn and sad recollection. Of all the little band who were concerned in those juvenile sports or brawls, I can scarce recollect a single survivor. Some left the ranks of mimic war to die in the active service of their country. Many sought distant lands to return no more. Others, dispersed in different paths of life, “my dim cyes now seek for in vain.” Of five brothers, all healthy and promising, in a degree far beyond one whose infancy was visited by personal infirmity, and whose health after this period seemed long very precarious, I am, nevertheless, the only survivor. The best loved, and the best deserving to be loved, who had destined this incident to be the foundation of literary composition, died “before his day,” in a distant and foreign land; and trifles assume an importance not their own, when connected with those who have been loved and lost.

« AnteriorContinuar »