網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

glory which the knights had always cherished and sought so eagerly, followed them to their tombs."*

Such was the career of knighthood—such were the virtues, vices, and manners of our ancestors—and such was the general state of society from the eleventh century to the reign of Louis the Eleventh, and the extinction of the house of Burgundy.

Art. IX.- Alazono-Mastix: or, the Character of a Cockney :

in a Satyricall Poem. Dedicated (as a New-Year's-gift) to the Apprentices of London. By Junius Anonymus, a London Apprentice.

· Capiat qui capere potest.
The cockneys eat their breakfasts in their beds,
And spend the day in dressing of their heads.
Tho' God in mercy may do much to save them,

Yet what a case are they in that shall have them?
London, printed by R. T. 1651. 4to. pp. 16.

This pamphlet, like the letters of Junius, professes to be written by one of the community to whom it is addressed. The youths, for whose welfare the rhymer expresses such anxiety, were, at that time, an important body, not absolutely incorporated, but so closely united in interests and opinions, as to constitute a formidable party in the city. They had distinguished themselves in the war, and been noticed by the parliament, flattered by the diurnals, and fondled by partial historians,t till they began to imitate the fashions of the west,

*" The funerals of those ages were conducted with great pomp and expense, and the great lords frequently bequeathed by will enormous sums for this purpose. There was a singular custom observed at the burial of barons and other knights-a living man, armed cap-àpie, representing the defunct, was procured to recline in the state bed, which was always borne at these interments. In an account of the expences of the house of Polignac, we find, that in 1375, five sous were paid to Blaize for having acted the dead knight, at the funeral of John, son of Randonnet Armand, Vicompte de Polignac.”

De Vaisette's Hist. of Languedoc. + Vicars, Ricraft, &c.

with those “ extasies and raptures” which their poet so earnestly blames.

“ To whom (he says) may I better presume to offer this small pamphlet, than to yourselves ? for whose sake it obtained its original being, and if it be any ways serviceable to you, in 'defending you as a bulwark against all the enticing allurements of that generation of vipers (for as the viper is the death of its parents, so do these vipers undo more in this city by their exorbitancies, than all other casualties whatsoever) I shall have attained the utmost limits of my ambition. . . . . Peradventure, it may seem strange, that one of our profession should dare to adventure upon the public stage in this scribbling age; yet what I have written, I have written; and if any shall expect apologies, they are like to be frustrate of their expectation; I am confident I shall offend none, but such as are conscious of their own guilt: and it is below my genius to crave pardon of them. I dare not enlarge, lest I should make the porch so great, that the house run out at the doors : I shall only add, that if you please to extend the benevolent aspect of your favour to this poor pamphlet, it shall engage me to requite you with something that shall be more worthy of your acceptation.'

This threat of another publication appears to have been a mere bravado, for, as we shall see, the writer had deprived his work of an extensive sale, by offending a numerous body, whose voices, as the pseudo-moralist, Chesterfield,'has observed, are more often counted than weighed. The citizen of the world is the only person who can write satire with impunity:-will the Oxford Spy ensure academical distinction to its author, or The Mohocks conciliate a scornful public? The castigator of the Cocknies was probably aware, that to attack his masters or companions was more dangerous than profitable; but the females, under whose control he was not placed, could not exercise the same method of revenge. With real misogyny and pretended philanthropy, he describes, in fluent decasyllabics, the faults of the city dames, although others were equally open to his censure. But there appears, through his assumed morality, a morbid recollection of something he must have wished to conceal, and, as he abuses both the married and the single, his advances might have been slighted in more than one quarter. To enhance his professions of sincerity, he assures us, that this was his first attempt, and we are inclined to believe him.'

* In the Tales and Jests of Hugh Peters, observations of the same nature occur.

tiesa

“ The triple trine* of old Parnassus' hill,
Should I invoke [for] to direct my quill,
Or if that great Apollo's sacred quire
I should entreat my muse for to inspire,
It would transcendently my theme disgrace
For to implore the aid of things so base.
The liquor of the Heliconian grape
Did never yet my pericranium rape,
Nor nectar, nor ambrosia will I quaff,
Such fictious fancies I esteem but draff;
For why? they are no better than a dream,
Compar'd to this divine celestial theme.
For though the muses, as the poets feign,
Could really intoxicate the brain
With extacies and raptures, yet think I
None will be so audacious to deny
Unto our cocknies the pre-eminence
Above them for unhappy influence.
Which have produced more dismal effects,
Than ever the unfortunate aspects
Of the erratick and malevolent
Planets, that wander in the firmament;
The mischiefs, which to Mars' or Saturn's square
Are subsequent, thereto may not compare..
Their pow'r extends, not only to the brain,
Infusing it with notions idly vain,
But wounds the heart with horrid pangs of pain,
Which never perfectly are cur'd again :
Yea, by their art, with a dissembling smile,
They many of their senses do beguile.
And for the sake of such unhappy men,
I have adventured to take my pen

* This expression strikes us to be original: one of Lord Byron's imitators says,

“Aid me, ye nine! I own that's nothing new,

I'll think of novelty another time:
Aid me, ye three-times-three! perhaps may do,

And, three to one, it passes for sublime.”
We prefer the apprentice's, however.

In hand, for to delineate their folly
If possible, to cure their melancholy,
That when their idols' pourtraiture they see,

They of their madness may ashamed be." It is remarkable, that he speaks of the cockney as synonymous with the Greek anafwy, not very remote from the French coquin, the most rational origin of that controverted dissyllable. From various allusions, we gather that his attainments were above those of his class at that time; nor does he hesitate to express his contempt for astrology, the fashionable study of his age. Another writer, equally hardy, speaking of “upstart astrologers, which will take upon them to tell things to come,” says, “what that art is I know not, or from whence they fetch the evil aspect of any of the planets, seeing in the beginning they were made all good ; neither do I find how these celestial bodies lost their first vertue."* We now come to the “character” itself.

“ These cockneys, they of which my muse doth sing,
They are the oldest daughters of the king
Of pride, old Lucifer, and may compare
With all his off-spring, for their filial care
To tread his steps : for pride's epitome
In them compris'd exactly you may see.
They do conceit, that the whole world was
Vented for their lust, and will not pass
For cost, or pain, to satisfy their will,
And their extravagant desires fulfill;
Nor East, nor Western Indies able are,
To suffice their ambitious minds by far.

They hang at once more wealth upon their backs,
Than is contain'd in forty pedlers' packs,
In silks and satins, pearls, and diamond rings,
And many other superfluous things,
To which the seller liberally affords
Bombastic names of long six-footed words.t

For if their names to understand were plain,
They with the greatest scorn would them disdain :

* Extract of a printed letter, dated York, December 18, 1651, in the Perfect Account, No. 52, December 31.

+ Did the learned apprentice fancy that he was translating the sesquipedalia verba of Horace ?

Like as the rustic slights an almanack,
If an useless anatomy it lack:
For all strange things which are not understood,

Admired are, and judged very good.” Though probably of humble origin, he has a due regard for genealogy

“ But pride in them is not predominant
Alone, but likewise idleness doth haunt
Them so inseparably close, that it
To them is as a second nature knit:
For that which once within the bone is bred,
Will never from the flesh be severed,

Idleness unto them doth come by kind,
And thereto they do wholly give their mind ;
They suck't it from their mothers, and will give
Themselves to it, as long as they do live:
And slothfulness and want of exercise,
They are the greatest homisters of vice."

The early dramatists were equally severe, and the City Madam is to them a perpetual object of satire. Nor are the prose-writers more polite ; Wilkins* remarks, “ 'tis grown a fashion among them to eat their breakfasts in their beds, and not to be ready till half an hour after noon, about which time their husbands are to return from the Burse.” But the employments of these ladies are made as reprehensible as their indolence,-after rising at ten, and sitting before a mirror till twelve,

“ The afternoon most commonly they spend
In gossiping and tattling without end;
Or else are coach'd to th' Old, or New Exchange,
To see if there they can spie any strange
New fashions, which are daily there invented,
To please such fools as never are contented.
There have they patches, for to represent
Their faces, like the starry firmament:

* See The Conjuring-up of Cock Wat, (the walking spirit of Newgate,) appended to Jests to make you Merie, 4to. 1607.

+ From this passage it appears, that although the term Bazaar has been recently adopted, the custom is of long continuance.

« 上一頁繼續 »