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The whole scene is very pleasant, and we would gladly quote it did our limits allow.
The prisoners attempt a reconciliation with Touchstone, who is, however, immoveable. The account which the keeper of the prison gives of their devout turn of mind and penitence is very humorous, and bears all the marks of Ben Jonson's style.
"Gold. Here's a great deal of humility i'these letters.
Wolf. Humility, sir? ay, were your worship an eye-witness of it you would say so. The knight will be i'the Knight's.ward, do what we can, sir; and Mr Quicksilver would be i'the Hole, if we would let him. I never knew or saw prisoners more penitent, or more devout. They will sit you up all night singing of psalms, and edify. ing the whole prison. Only Security sings a note too high sometimes; because he lies i'the Twopenny-ward, far off, and cannot take his tune. The neighbours cannot rest for him, but come every morning to ask, what godly prisoners we have.
Touch. Which on 'em is't is so devout, the knight or t'other?
Wolf. Both, sir; but the young man especially; I never heard his like. He has cut his hair too; he is so well given, and has such good gifts! He can tell you almost all the stories of the Book of Martyrs; and speak you all the Sick Man's Salve, without book.
Touch. Ay, if he had had grace, he was brought up where it grew, I wis. On, Mr Wolf.
Wolf. And he has converted one Fangs, a serjeant; a fellow could neither write nor read. He was called the ban-dog o'the Counter; and he has brought him already to pair his nails, and say his prayers; and 'tis hop'd he will sell his place shortly, and become an intelligencer.'
Golding finding his father reject all overtures from the humble prodigals of the counter, to effect a reconciliation, by a stratagem procures Touch
stone to be a witness to the penitence of the knight and the apprentice, the latter of whom is doling out miserable ballads, to the edification of the hearers, far and near. These ballads are an admirable burlesque of the puritanical poetry of the time.
"Touch. Who is this? my man Francis, and my son-in-law !
Quick. Sir, it is all the testimony I shall leave behind me to the world and my master, that I have so offended.
Friend. Good sir!
Quick. I writ it when my spirits were oppress'd. Pet. Ay, I'll be sworn for you, Francis. Quick. It is in imitation of Mannington's; he that was hang'd at Cambridge,
that cut off the horse's head at a blow.
Friend. So, sir.
Quick. To the tune of, I wail in woe, I plunge in pain.
Pet. An excellent ditty it is, and worthy of a new tune.
Quick. In Cheapside, famous for gold and
Quicksilver I did dwell of late:
He bade me still, work upon that;
Quick. I cast my coat and cap away;
I scorn'd my master, being drunk ;
I thought by sea to run away,
But Thames and tempest did me stay. Touch. This cannot be feigned sure. Heaven pardon my severity! The ragged colt may prove a good horse.
Gold. How he listens and is transported! he has forgot me.
Quick. Still Eastward-hoe was all my
But Westward I had no regard:
As did, alas! his youngest daughter.
Wolf. Stay him, Mr Deputy, now is the time; we shall lose the song else. Friend. I protest it is the best that ever
Quick. How like you it, gentlemen ?
Quick. This stanza now following al-
to trace out the different authors in their several parts, and unquestionably the difficulty is greater in comedy. In tragedy there is less danger of mistake, inasmuch as the conception and expression of passion take a more certain character from the mind which forms them, and fall more into a marked and distinguishing mould, by which that may be ascertained, than the sentiments of common life, which allow of little variation, or the displays of wit, which admit scarcely more. Yet there appears little reason to
That I may cut off the horse-head of doubt that Jonson had not the chief
sin; And leave his body in the dust Of sin's high-way, and bogs of lust; Whereby I may take virtue's purse, And live with her, for better, for worse. Friend. Admirable, sir! and excellently conceited!
Quick. Alas, sir!
Touch. Son Golding, and Mr Wolf, I thank you; the deceit is welcome, especially from thee, whose charitable soul in this hath shewn a high point of wisdom and honesty. Listen! I am ravished with his repentance, and could stand here a whole 'prenticeship to hear him."
The result is easily anticipated. The penitents are forgiven, and restored to favour again-the proud daughter, the extravagant son-in-law, and the idle apprentice, are reformed, and are rendered wiser by experience.
There are no scenes in this play peculiarly rich in humour, nor are any of the characters marked with great force; yet, upon the whole, it is an agreeable performance. The plot is easy, natural, and unperplexed, the dialogue is flowing, and seldom deficient in pleasantry. The latter is occasionally disfigured by grossness and double-entendre; it has, however, less of conceits and quaintness than is usually met with in comedies of the day. When it is not licentious, it is generally intelligible, and has lost little by time.
In conjunct performances of this kind, it is frequently rather difficult
part in the writing of this play.It bears no marks of his peculiar excellencies or defects; it has not that bold delineation of character, that high-wrought finish of dialogue, or that peculiar richness of humour, which his best pieces display, and which, at the time of the composition of the present comedy, being shortly after the production of those pieces, he would have been fully able to bring forth. Neither, on the other hand, is it distinguished by his hardnesses. He elaborated his characters frequently too much, by continually retouching them; and altered and added to his scenes and dialogue, till he lost the freedom of the former, and encrusted the latter with conceits. There is nothing of this in the present play. The style of it bears more resemblance to that of Chapman, in whose comedies there is a more feeble conception of character, and a less poignant vein of humour, but much simplicity and unpretending ease. Probably Jonson first sketched the plan, which might be filled up by Chapman, and receive a few witty and satirical touches from the pen of Marston, whose manner is, however, more difficult to catch at. The whole, it is likely, underwent the revisal of Jonson, traces of whom are chiefly discernible in the character of Touchstone, and in the concluding scenes.
* Marston certainly wrote the passage upon the Scotch, for which he and his coadjutors were imprisoned. There is another similar stroke of ridicule in his Satires. Mr Gifford has ably examined the accounts of their imprisonment, which are full of idle gossiping and inaccuracies. Marston seems to have had much of the gall of the satirist about him. His disposition was not more amiable than his writings.
ADVENTURE IN THE NORTH-WEST TERRITORY.
AFTER residing nearly a year in one of the most distant posts of the Northwest Company, and conducting the fur trade there, I began to look forward to my return to Montreal. I waited with the greatest impatience for the arrival of the period which was to terminate my banishment, and restore me to society. I was nearly three thousand miles distant from any settlements, and my only companions were two young men, clerks of the establishment, whose characters, and limited acquirements, rendered them very uninteresting associates. My situation was one of considerable responsibility. A great number of Canadians, in the service of the Company, resided at the post, and were under my controul; but I found it a very difficult matter to keep them in a state of due subordination, and to prevent them from quarrelling and fighting with the detached parties of Indians that occasionally visited us for the purpose of trading. Interest and personal safety, alike, required that we should be on friendly terms with the natives; and I spent many anxious hours in endeavouring to promote mutual peace and good-humour. Our post was situated upon the banks of a small lake, about sixteen miles broad. This lake discharged itself by means of a river into another of much greater dimensions, and thick forests covered every part of the neighbouring country.
One afternoon I took my gun, and strolled out in search of game. Though it was now the beginning of spring, the lake was still frozen completely across, the cold of the preceding winter having been very intense. I soon fell in with a flock of wild ducks, but before I could get a shot at them, they began to fly towards the middle of the lake; however, I followed them fearlessly over the ice, in the expectation that they would soon alight. The weather was mild, though rather blowy. De tached black clouds moved rapidly along the face of Heaven in immense masses, and the sun blazed forth in unobscured splendour at one moment, and was completely shrouded from the eye the next. I was so intent on the pursuit of my game, that I hastened forwards almost unconsciously, my progress being much facilitated by a
thin layer of snow which covered the ice, and rendered the footing tolerably secure. At last, I fired at the ducks, and killed one and wounded another. I immediately picked up the first, but its companion, having only been winged, began to leap away before I caught hold of it. I followed, but had not advanced more than twenty yards, when, to my astonishment, I found that the ice was in many places covered with water to the depth of several inches. I stopped short full of alarm, and irresolute what to do. It was evident that a thaw had already commenced, and as I well knew with what rapidity the ice broke up when once affected by a change of temperature, I became alive to all the dangers of my situation, and almost shuddered at the thought of moving from the spot on which I stood.
The weather had grown calm and hazy, and the sky was very black and lowering. Large flakes of snow soon began to fall languidly and perpendicularly through the air; and after a little time, these were accompanied by a thick shower of sleety rain, which gradually became so dense, that I could not discern the shore. I strained my eyes to catch a glance of some living object, but a dreary and motionless expanse stretched around me on every side, and the appalling silence that prevailed was sometimes interrupted by the receding cries of the wounded bird. All nature seemed to be awaiting some terrible event. I listened in fearful suspense, though I knew not what I expected to hear. I soon distinguished a distant thundering noise, which gradually became stronger, and appeared to approach the place where I stood. Repeated explosions, and hollow murmurings of irregular loudness, were succeeded by a tremendous sound, like that of rocks bursting asunder. The ice trembled beneath my feet, and the next moment it was disunited by a vast chasm, which opened itself within a few yards of me. The water of the lake rushed upwards through the gap with foaming fury, and began to flood the surface all around.
I started backwards, and ran, as I conceived, towards the shore; but my progress was soon stopped by one of those weak parts of the ice called air
holes. While walking cautiously round it, my mind grew somewhat composed, and I resolved not to advance any farther, until I had fixed upon some way of regulating my course; but I found this to be impossible. I vainly endeavoured to discern land, and the moaning of the wind among the distant forests alone indicated that there was any at all near me. Strong and irregular blasts, loaded with snow and sleet, swept wildly along, involving every thing in obscurity, and bewildering my steps with malignant influence. I sometimes fancied I saw the spot where our post was situated, and even the trees and houses upon it; but the next moment a gust of wind would whirl away the fantastic shaped fogs that had produced the agreeable illusion, and reduce me to actionless despair. I fired my gun repeatedly, in the hope that the report would bring some one to my assistance; however, the shores alone acknowledged, by feeble echoes, that the sound had reached them.
The storm increased in violence, and at intervals the sound of the ice breaking up, rolled upon my ear like distant thunder, and seemed to mutter appalling threats. Alarm and fatigue made me dizzy, and I threw down my gun and rushed forwards in the face of the drifting showers, which were now so thick as to affect my respiration. I soon lost all sense of fear, and began to feel a sort of frantic delight in struggling against the careering blasts. I hurried on, sometimes running along the brink of a circular opening in the ice, and sometimes leaping across frightful chasms-all the while unconscious of having any object in view. The ice every where creaked under my feet, and I knew that death awaited me, whether I fled away or remained on the same spot. I felt as one would do, if forced by some persecuting fiend to range over the surface of a black and shoreless ocean; and aware, that whenever his tormentor withdrew his sustaining power, he would sink down and be suffocated among the billows that struggled beneath him.
At last night came on, and, exhausted by fatigue and mental excitement, I wrapped myself in my cloak, and lay down upon the ice. It was so dark that I could not have moved one step without running the risk of falling into the lake. I almost wished that the
drowsiness, produced by intense cold, would begin to affect me; but I did not feel in the slightest degree chilled, and the temperature of the air was in reality above freezing. I had lain only a few minutes when I heard the howl of a wolf. The sound was indescribably delightful to my ear, and I started up with the intention of hastening to the spot from whence it seemed to proceed; but hopeless as my situation then was, my heart shrunk within me when I contemplated the dangers I would encounter in making such an attempt. My courage failed, and I resumed my former position, and listened to the undulations of the water as they undermined, and beat against the lower part of the ice on which I lay.
About midnight the storm ceased, and most of the clouds gradually forsook the sky, while the rising moon dispelled the darkness that had previously prevailed. However, a thick haze covered the heavens, and rendered her light dim and ghastly, and similar to that shed during an eclipse. A succession of noises had continued with little interruption for several hours, and at last the ice beneath me began to move. I started up, and, on looking around, saw that the whole. surface of the lake was in a state of agitation. My eyes became dim, and I stretched out my arms to catch hold of some object, and felt as if all created things were passing away. The hissing, grinding, and crashing, produced by the different masses of ice coming into collision, were tremendous. Large fragments sometimes got wedged together, and impeded the progress of those behind them, which being pushed forward by others still farther back, were forced upon the of the first, and fantastic-shaped pyramids and towers could be indistinctly seen rising among the mists of night, and momentarily changing their forms, and finally disorganizing themselves with magical rapidity and fearful tu« mult. At other times, an immense mass of ice would start up into a perpendicular position, and continue gleaming in the moonshine for a little period, and then vanish like a spectre among the abyss of waters beneath it. The piece of ice on which I had first taken my position, happened to be very large and thick, but other fragments were soon forced above it, and
formed a mound six or seven feet high, on the top of which I stood, contemplating the awful scene around me, and feeling as if I no longer had the least connection with the world, or retained any thing human or earthly in my composition.
The wind, which was pretty strong, drove the ice down the lake very fast, My alarms and anxieties had gradually become less intense, and I was several times overcome by a sort of stupor; during the continuance of which, imagination and reality combined their distracting influence. At one time I fancied that the snow still drifted as violently as ever, and that I distinguished, through its hazy medium, a band of Indian chiefs walking past me upon the surface of the lake. Their steps were noiseless, and they went along with wan and dejected looks and downcast eyes, and paid no attention to my exclamations and entreaties for relief. At another, I thought I was floating in the middle of the ocean, and that a blazing sun flamed in the cloudless sky, and made the ice which supported me melt so fast, that I heard streams of water pouring from its sides, and felt myself every moment descending towards the surface of the billows, I was usually wakened from such the dreams by some noise or violent concussion, but always relapsed into them whenever the cause of disturbance ceased to operate.
The longest and last of these slumbers was broken by a terrible shock, which my ice island received, and which threw me from my seat, and nearly precipitated me into the lake, On regaining my former position, and looking round, I perceived to my joy and astonishment, that I was in a river. The water between me and the shore was still frozen over, and was about thirty yards wide, consequently the fragment of ice on which I stood could not approach any nearer than this. After a moment of irresolution, I leapupon the frozen surface, and began to run towards the bank of the river. My feet seemed scarcely to touch the ice, so great was my terror lest it should give way beneath me; but I reached the shore in safety, and dropped down completely exhausted by fatigue and agitation.
It was now broad day-light, but I neither saw animals nor human beings, VOL. X.
nor any vestiges of them. Thick forests covered the banks of the river, and extended back as far as my eye could reach. I feared to penetrate them, lest I should get bewildered in their recesses, and accordingly walked along the edge of the stream. It was not long before I discovered a column of smoke rising among the trees. I immediately directed my steps towards the spot, and, on reaching it, found a party seated round a fire.
They received me with an air of indifference and unconcern, not very agreeable or encouraging to one in my destitute condition. However, I placed myself in their circle, and tried to discover to what tribe they belonged, by addressing them in the different Indian languages with which I was acquainted. I soon made myself intelligible, and related the circumstances that had brought me so unexpect→ edly among them. At the conclusion of my narrative, the men pulled their tomahawk pipes from their mouths, and looked at each other with incredulous smiles. I did not make any attempt to convince them of the truth of what I said, knowing it would be vain to do so, but asked for something to eat. After some deliberation, they gave me a small quantity of pemican, but with an unwillingness that did not evince such a spirit of hospitality as I had usually met with among Indians.
The party consisted of three men, two women, and a couple of children, all of whom sat or lay near the fire in absolute idleness; and their minds seemed to be as unoccupied as their bodies, for nothing resembling conversation ever passed between them. The weather was dreary and comfortless. A thick small rain, such as usually falls in North America during a thaw, filled the air, and the wigwam under which we sat afforded but an imperfect shelter from it. I passed the time in the most gloomy and desponding reflections. I saw no means by which I could return to the trading post, and the behaviour of the Indians made me doubt if they would be inclined to grant me that support and protection without which I could not long exist. One man gazed upon me so constantly and steadily, that his scrutiny annoyed me, and attracted my particular attention. He appeared to be the