Imagini ale paginilor
PDF
ePub

young, and

"Men are like ants, crawling up and down. “Some carry corn, some carry

their all go to and fro—at last a little heap of dust!”

The states' attorney took his seat, with frantic applause rattling in his ears.

Although the sentiments of Bacon were variable, mixed, foreign and epigrammatic, they received great attention; for no matter who may be the speaker at a banquet where royalty and power are the subjects at issue, there will be great and tremendous cheering by little sycophants who expect reward, and of course, by those patriots who have already received favors from the administration pie counter.

Sir Walter at last arose and said "that although the hour was late, or, more properly speaking, early, he earnestly desired the noble gentlemen present to hear one whose fame, in the world of dramatic letters, like the morning sun, had already flashed upon the horizon and rapidly approached the high noon of earthly immortalityWilliam Shakspere, of Stratford-on-Avon !"

Then could be heard roof-lifting cheers by all present, who had often heard the Bard in his lofty language and kingly strides at the Blackfriars.

William, in the flush of self-conscious, imperial, splendid manhood exclaimed:

“Gentlemen :

Your toast of glory to the Virgin Queen
Cracks high heaven with reverberation,
And through the ambient air, sonorous,
The echoing muses mingle the
Harmony of the spheres with celestial repetition!
Elizabeth, I lift my song to thee,
In holy adoration
To echo down the flowing tide of ages!

Within the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme
In praise of ladies dead and gallant knights,
Then in the blazon of sweet beauty's best
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
I know their antique pen would have expressed
Even such a beauty as you master now.
So all their praises are but prophecies
Of this our time, all you prefiguring;
And, for they looked, but with divining eyes,
They had not skill enough your worth to sing;
For me, which now behold these present days
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues ta praise.

Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured,
And the sad augurs mark their own presage;
Incertainties now crown themselves assured,
And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
Now with the drops of the most balmy time,
My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,
Since spite of him I'll live in the poor rhyme
While he sweeps over dull and speechless tribes.
And thou, in this shalt find thy monument,
When tyrant crests and tombs of brass are spent!

Rapturous and universal praise and applause greeted William and his immortal sonnets; and if any critical reader or author will take pains to delve into and scan the poetry and philosophy of Spenser and Bacon with that of Shakspere, they will quickly and honestly come to the conclusion that the former writers are merely rushlights to the flashing electric lights of the Divine Bard!

To paraphrase the encomium of Shakspere to Cleopatra would fit the greatness of himself:

"Age cannot wither him, nor custom stale
His infinite variety; other men cloy
The appetites they feed; but he makes hungry
Where most he satisfies !"

CHAPTER IX.

BOHEMIAN HOURS. WESTMINSTER ABBEY. "LOVE'S

LABOR'S LOST.”

"I have ventured Like little wanton boys that swim on bladders This many summers in a sea of glory."

THE literary bohemians of London three hundred years ago were an impecunious and jealous lot of human pismires, who built their dens, carried their loads, and were filled with vaulting ambition just the same as we see them to-day.

The hack-writer for publishers, the actor for theatrical managers and the author of growing renown belonged to clubs and tavern coteries, pushing their way up the rocky heights of fame, and struggling, as now, for bread, clothes and shelter, many of the Bacchanalian creatures dying from hunger at the foothills of their ambition; and instead of winning a niche in the columned aisles of Westminster Abbey, dropped lead in some back alley or gloomy garret, to be carted away by the Beadle to the voracious Potter's field. They often courted Dame Suicide, who never fails to relieve the wicked, wretched, insane or desperate from their intolerable situation.

"Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness,
And fear'st to die? Famine is in thy cheeks,
Need and oppression starveth in thy eyes,
Content and beggary hang upon thy back;
The world is not thy friend, nor the world's law !

How often at the Miter or Falcon taverns have I seen these little great literary men swell like a toad or puff like a pigeon at the flattery bestowed on them by fawning bohemians, meaner than themselves, who sought a midnight snack and a tankard of foaming ale.

Of all the despicable and miserable creatures I have ever known it is the poor starving devil, with latent genius, who attempts to pay court to a cad, snob, or drunken lord around the refuse of literary or sporting clubs in midnight hours.

William was always very kind to these threadbare wanderers, and although they often gave him pen prods behind his back, he never betrayed any recognition of their envious stings, but like the lion in his jungle, brushed these busy bees away by the underbrush of his philosophy.

He mildly rebuked their pretense, but relieved their immediate wants, impressing upon them the study of Nature and not the blandishments of art, having the appearance of Oriental porcelain or Phænician glass, when it was really crude crockery painted to deceive the sight and auctioned off to the unwary purchaser as genuine material. How many authors, artists and actors of to-day

« ÎnapoiContinuați »