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Holiday's songs are so very good, that we think that the one sung by Phantastes ought not to be omitted.
"O, happy state
Which you, blest arts, enjoy!
And did not yourselves annoy.
And bring us in tune again.
Then learn of me
To have a yielding mind;
And turn with each strong wind.
Th' affliction of learned wars.
O, harmless feast
Where music and love do meet!
To make his pipe sound more sweet;
Yet never disturbs the brain."
Musica's whimsical description of the first invented instrument, will, with the other extracts, afford a good idea of the nature of this ingenious production, which the author says, "was but a five weeks birth." Geographus says, that the first kind of instrument was a harp.
"Mus. Aye, but you're deceived, I rather think 'twas a bagpipe.
"Geog. A bagpipe? why prithee?
"Mus. Why? marry, first understand this reason, and then I'll shew you: you know every art both draws it's imitation from nature, and labours to perfect it, which it does by finding comforts to preserve it: musick then at the first was found out as an antidote against grief: and by this means, when men were grieved, they cried oh, and there was one note: then hey-ho, there were two notes more. So, when they laughed, they observed three more by ha, ha, he. These being firstjoined together, and afterwards variously intermixed, were the first harmony in voice; which being repeated unto grieved minds, were, as it were, a pretty deluding of their sorrows; and these, by observation, were afterwards reduced to instrument
"Geog. I conceit it, Musica.
"Mus. Thus, men perceiving that these notes were conceived in the belly, and afterwards (as it were) formed in the passage of the throat, sowed leather in the form of a belly or bag; and with a reed made a long neck unto it, and a wind-pipe; which, when they blew full of wind, and perceived it gave no sound, they cut many holes in the reed to let it out, and then alternately stopping the holes, they found an admirable variety of harmony; and as the holes serve for distinction of notes in a wind-instrument, so do your frets on a stringedinstrument."
This drama contains two specimens of Holiday's skill in translation. They are both spirited versions from Anacreon.
"To his Love.
"The fruitful earth does drink the rain;
Cowley's version of the last is more diffuse, but is neither so simple nor so faithful. It has, however, more the air of an original, struck off in the full tide of joviality—in the plenitude of good wine. Our readers will judge.
"The thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
A Ut. VIII.—Memoires sur I'Ancienne Chevalerie; considered comme un itablissernent politique et militaire. Par M. de la Curne de Sainte Palaye, de VAcademie Francoise, Sfc. 2 torn. \2mo. Paris, 1759.
"Antiquity," says my Lord Bacon, "muffles up her head from our sight:" we allow the truth of the remark; but, nevertheless, pursue the hoary phantom, as if perseverance might charm off the veil. Our nature, it seems, like Janus, hath ever an eye upon the past, mingling recollections with hope, and reading the roll of events backwards, like witchcraft. For this reason it is, that the singular and brilliant of past ages possess so forcible a hold upon our fancy; and fortify themselves the stronger, in proportion as the nature of their tenure is more visionary and uncertain. We delight to meditate upon those things whose surface and contexture are hidden from us by the rust of time; for, besides the spur which they give to our curiosity, there come along with them inferences of power and durability flattering to the mind, as indicative of the same principle of immortality in itself.
These feelings particularly attach to the disjecta membra of human legislation. We embark in our institutions to stem the flood of time, and would willingly persuade ourselves that our particular system is cased in immortality. Seeing, however, the wrecks of former theories strewed along the shores, reflection is awakened; but we curb its propensity to make comparisons,—and draw unpleasant conclusions, by complacently reckoning up the causes of each particular failure, and by shewing that they were rocks and shallows, which, from the direction of our course, we must necessarily escape. Human institutions, like clocks, are wound up for a longer or shorter time, according to the skill of the workman; and the excellent material of some will wear well, and receive, gradually, the new-modelling and impress of time; while others, the mere growth of the occasion, are adapted but for a season, and when put by, sink quickly among the ruins of the "things that were."
Of the latter kind was chivalry. But before we speak of its nature, it may be as well to make some inquiry respecting its origin; for that being once well ascertained, we shall experience no difficulty in unrolling the whole scroll of the establishment; but here it is that the "muffling," which Lord Bacon mentions, takes place.—The origin of chivalry, as of most other things, is extremely uncertain. The researches of those writers who have treated the subject most successfully, conduct us back to the darkness of the eleventh century, where we meet it, clothed in mail, glittering upon its prancing steed, like a meteor issuing from behind a cloud.
But although the precise period and actual motives which gave birth to it, cannot positively be given, we may arrive at that degree of certainty which will satisfy the curiosity of any but a professed antiquarian: it may be permitted him, of course, to doubt, for therein lieth the zest of his profession. We know not how it is, but almost all laborious writers upon ancient matters, have the knack of passing over the difficult parts of their subjects with a well-feigned indifference; they become philosophical at once, when they are puzzled, and close up the gap with an encomium, or reflections upon something else. Sainte-Palaye is not totally free from this fault. According to him, however, we are to seek the origin of chivalry in that chaotic state of society, which extended from the dismemberment of the Western Empire, to the period of the revival of letters. The petty princes and great lords having freed themselves, by degrees, from their subjection to government and laws, had, at last, succeeded in rendering them ridiculous; and a kingdom, if we may compare great things with small, resembled nothing so much as an extensive rookery, in which every nest is isolated and independent. For a knight no sooner passed the boundaries of his own domain, than he found himself in the territories of an enemy, who might rob or murder him with impunity. The castles of the great lords were, in fact, numerous central points, around which revolved the machines of as many separate societies; and cultivation, rich and high in their^icinity, became more neglected as it receded from the seat of power; till the land terminated almost, towards the frontiers, in impassable wildernesses. The great feudatory regarded these as so many ramparts thrown around him for his security; and saw, with pleasure, the huts of his lower vassals approximate to his castle.—The private manners of these nobles were, moreover, dissolute and unprincipled; and great numbers, in consequence, were daily dropping into poverty. But some of these, possessing castles in the passes of mountains, or near the fords of rivers, became the leaders of banditti, and plundered that society which they could no longer enjoy. In the history of the Troubadours, we find a dialogue between two noble and amorous bards, in which each charges his adversary with common highway robbery; and neither of them appears solicitous of exculpating himself. It was, in truth, too common to be disgraceful.—To complete the picture, even the monasteries were become nests of thieves; and hooded monks, with the crucifix upon their bosoms, were seen rushing forth upon the defenceless traveller. Added to all these evils, and greater, perhaps, than all, were the private wars between the great feudatories, barons, and abbots. The latter, professing no regard either for religion or morals, gave themselves up entirely to the defence of their temporalities, and converted the houses of God into mere receptacles of luxury and men-at-arms. By this it happened, that the few peaceful scholars, who flourished in those turbulent times, found no sanctuary wherein they might sit down in quiet; but were drawn into the fierce and fluctuating current of affairs,