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other world as the apothecary? Except such as may happen to be hanged, (which, for any tiling he knows, may bo the fnte of the Palmer and Pardoner,) who dies by any other help than that of the apothecary? As, therefore, it is he, he says, who fills heaven with inmates, who is so much entitled tc the gratitude of mankind? The Pardoner is here indignant, and asks what is the benefit of dying, and what, consequently, the use of an apothecary, even should he kill a thousand a day, to men who are not in a state of grace? And what, retorts the other, would be the use of a thousand pardons round the neck, unless people died? The Poucary, who is the most sensible of the three, concludes that all of them are rogues, when the Pedler makes his appearance.
He, like his companions, commends his wares. How can there be any love without courtship? And how can women be won without such tempting gifts as are in his sack?
Who liveth in love and love would win,
Even at this pack he must begin. He then displnys his wares, and entreats them to buy: but tho churchmen of that day were beggars, not buyers; and the Poticary is no less cunning. At length the Pardoner reverts to the subject of conversation when the Pedler entered, and, in order to draw out the opinion of die last comer, states the argument between himself and his two companions. The Pedler seems, at first, surprised that die profession of an apothecary is to kill men, and thinks the world may very well do without one; but the other assures him he is under a mistake; Uiat the Poticary is the most useful, and for this notable reason, that when any man feels Uiat his "conscience is ready," all he has to do is to send for the practitioner, who will at once despatch him.
Weary of their disputes for pre-eminence of merit and usefulness, the Pedler proposes Uiat the other three shall strive for the mastery by lying, and that the greatest liar shall be recognised as head of the rest The task he imposes on them cannot, he says, bo a heavy one, for all are used to it They are each to tell a tale. The Poticary commences, and the Pardoner follows. Their lies are deemed very respectable, but the Palmer is to be victorious, as he ends his tale in these words:—
Yet have I seen many a mile,
And many a woman in the while;
And not one good city, town, or borough,
In Christendom but I have been thorough:
And this I would ye should understand,
I have seen women, five hundred thousand:
Yet in all places where I have been,
Of all die women mat I have seen,
I never saw nor knew in my conscience,
Any one woman out of patience.
Nothing can exceed the surprise of the other Uiree at this astounding assertion, except the ingenuity with which Uiey are made to express—unwillingly yet involuntarily—die Palmer's superiority in die "most ancient and notable art of lying."
Poticary. By the mass, there's a great lie!
And so endb the old interlude of "Merry John Heywood," of the 11 Four P's." JOHN STILL.
AND HIS GAMMER GURTON's NEEDLE.
To John Still, master of am of Christ's College, Cambridge, and subsequently archdeacon of Sudbury, and lastly bishop of Bath and Wells, is asiribed the first genuine comedy in our language. It was first acted in 1566, and was printed in 1575, under the following title: "A ryght pithy, pleasant, and merie Comedy, intytuled Gammer Gurton's Nedle; played on the stage not longe ago in Christe's Colledge, in Cambridge. Mado by Mr. S., master of art." As the first comedy in our language, it would demand attention, independent of its merit But it has a sort of merit in its way. It is written in rhyme. The humor is broad, familiar, and grotesque. The characters are sketched with a strong, though coarse outline, and are to the last consistently supported. Some of the language, however, and many of the incidents, are such as give us no very favorable view of the manners of the times, when the most learned and polished of the land, the inmates of a university, could listen with delight to dialogue often tinctured with phrases of the lowest and grossest character, and that, too, written by a prelate. But, as H curiosity, we will give the outline of this old piece.
The characters consist of Diccon, a cunning wag, who lives on stolen bacon and mischief; Hodge, a mere bumpkin; Gammer Gurton, and Dame Chat, two brawling old wives; Mas Doctor Rat, an intermeddling priest, who would rather run the risk of a broken head than lose a tithe-pig; and Gib, the cat. The plot turns upon the loss of the Gammer's only needle,
A little tiling with an hole in the end, as bright as any siller,
rhe disaster happens while the dame is mending an article of clothing of her man Hodge. In the midst of the operation, Gib, the cat, who is no unimportant personage in the play, disturbs the Gammer's serenity by making a furtive attempt on a pan of milk. The Gammer, in a passion, throws the before-mentioned article of apparel at Gib, and that valuable instrument of female economy is most unhappily lost After a fruitless search in all imaginable places, Diccon, the bedlam, seeing that this affair wotdd afford some sport, straightway hies him to Dame Chat, and tells her how Gammer Gurton lias accused her of stealing her poultry. He next applies to the Gammer, and vows he saw Dame Chat pick up the needle at the Gammer's door. This brings the two old ladies together. The one accuses the other of stealing her goods, and from words they soon proceed to blows, in which Dame Chat comes off victorious. In this extremity the Gammer applies for relief to the curate, Doctor Rat Here again Diccon interposes, and persuades the learned ecclesiastic to creep in the silent hour of night into Dauie Chat's liouse, when he will see her at work with the aforesaid needle. Meanwhile Diccon gives Dame Cliat notice that Hodge will that night pay an evil-intentioned visitation to her poultry. The dame accordingly prepares for his reception, and instead of the needle, the doctor meets with a door-bar, wielded by the masculine hand of the Dame, (who conceives it to be Hodge,) to the no small detriment of the said Doctor's skull. To the baily Gammer Gurton Iws now recourse; when, after a long argument, the author of the mischief is Uiscovercxl, and enjoined a certain ceremony by way of expiation; and as a preliminary step, gives Hodge a smart thump on a part of his person, that, to the recipient's great discomfiture, leads to the detection of the invaluable needle, which it seems had been securely lodged in that aforementioned article of clodiing on which the Gammer had been at work.
Hodge's preparation for the pursuit of the fugitive needle, and his attempt to elicit a friendly spark from Gib's eyes to help him to light his candle, is described with great humor. The Gammer's boy says:—
Gammer, if ye will laugh, look in but at the door,
And see how Hodge lieth tombling and tossing amids the floor,
And so ends the humorous old comedy of Gammer Gurton's Needle.
ROGER ASCHAM. 1515—1568.
The name of Roger Ascham deservedly ranks high in English literature. He was born in 1515, and took his degree at the University of Cambridge at the age of nineteen.1 That he was pre-eminently skilled in the Greek language, is evident from the fact, that a few years after he left the University he was invited by Sir John Cheke to become preceptor of the learned languages to Elizabeth; which office he discharged for two years widi great credit and satisfaction to himself, as well as to his illustrious pupil. Soon after diis, he went abroad, and remained alxmt diree years in Germany. On his return he was selected to ft.i die office of Latin secretary to Edward VI., but on die death of the king he retired to die University. On the accession of Elizabeth he was immediately distinguished, and read with the queen, some hours every day,
1 "Aschnin entered Cambridge at a time when the but great revolution of the Intellectual world waa nlllng every academical mind with ardor or anxiety. The dcstrucUon of the Conatantinopolltan empire, (1*4*3,) had driven the Greek! with their language Into the Interior parts of Europe, the art of prlnUng had made the books easily attainable, and Greek now began to be taught In England. The doctrines of Luther bad already filled all the naUons of the Romish communion with controversy and dissension. New studies of literature, and new tenets of religion, found employment for all who were desirous of truth, or ambitious of fame. Learning waa at that Ume prosecuted with Cat cagcmet>a and perseverance which In this age of Indifference and dissipation it is not easy to conceive. To teacl., or to learn, waa at once the business and the pleasure of academical life; and an emulation of study was raised by Cbcke and Smith, to which even the present age perhaps owes many advantages, without remembering or knowing Its benefactors/* Read—Johnson's "Life of Ascltam." xll. lot, of Murphy's edition.
in the latin and Greek languages. In this office, and in that of Latin Secretary, he continued at court for the remainder of his life. He died in September, 1568, at the age of fifty-three.
The two principal works of Ascham are the "Toxophilus" and "The School Master." The Toxophilus' is, as its name imports, a treatise upon archery; and the main design of Ascham in writing it was to apologize for the zeal with which he studied and practised the art of shooting, and to show the honor and dignity of the art in all nations and at all times, and its acknowledged utility not only in matters of war, but as nn innocent and engaging pastime in times of peace. The whole work is in the dialogue form, the speakers being Toxophilus, a lover of archery, and Philologus, a student After a very graceful introduction, Toxophilus proceeds to show that some relaxation and pastime are to be mingled with "sadde matters of the minde," a position which the studious Philologus endeavors to controvert-*
Philologus.—How much is to be given to the authority either of Aristotle or Tully, I cannot tell; this I am sure, which thing this fair wheat (God save it) maketh me remember, that those husbandmen which rise earliest, and come latest home, and are content to have their dinner and other drinkings brought into the field to them, for fear of losing of time, have fatter barns in the harvest than they which will either sleep at noon time of the day, or else make merry with their neighbours at the ale. And so a scholar that purposes to be a good husband, and desireth to reap and enjoy much fruit of learning, must till and sow thereafter. Our best seed time, which be scholars, as it is very timely and when we be young, so it endureth not over long, and therefore it may not be let slip one hour.
Toxophilus.—For contrarywise, I heard myself a good husband at his book once say, that to omit study some time of the day, and some time of the year, made as much for the increase of learning, as to let the land lie some time fallow, maketh for the better increase of corn. This we see' if the land be ploughed every year, the corn cometh thin up ( e ear is short, the grain is small, and when it is brought into the . arn and threshed, giveth very evil faule.* So those which never leave poring on their books, have oftentimes'as thin invention as other poor men have, and as small wit and weight in it as in other men's. And thus your husbandry, methink, is more like the life of a covetous snudge that oft very evil proves, than the labour of a good husband, that knoweth well what he doth. And surely the best wits
to learning must needs have much recreation and easing from their book, or else they mar themselves; when base and dumpish wits can never be hurt with continual study; as ye see in lutinj, that a treble minikin string must always be let down, but at such time as when a man needs play, when1 the base and dull string needeth never to be moved out of his place.
The work also goes fully into the practical part of the art, so that the "Scheie for Shcotinge" is a complete manual of archery, containing not only a learned history of the art, and the highest encomiums on its excellence and utility, but likewise the most minute practical details, even down to the species of goose from the wing of which the best feathers are to be plucked for the shaft. The following is a specimen of his lively and entertaining manner:—
IN PRAISE OF THE GOOSE.
Toxophilus.—Yet well fare the gentle goose, which bringeth to a man so many exceeding commodities! For the goose is man's comfort in war and in peace, sleeping and waking. What praise soever is given to shooting, the goose may challenge the best part of it. How well doth she make a man fare at his table J How easily doth she make a man lie in his bed! How fit, even as her feathers be only for shooting, so be her quills for writing.
Philologus.—Indeed, Toxophile, that is the best praise you gave to a goose yet, and surely I would have said you had been to blame if you had overskipt it.
Toxophilus.—The Romans, I trow, Philologe, not so much because a goose with crying saved their capitolium, with their golden Jupiter, did make a golden goose, and set her in the top of the capitolium, and appointed also the censors to allow, out of the common batch, yearly stipends for the finding of certain geese; the Romans did not, I say, give all this honor to a goose for that good deed only, but for other infinite mo,' which come daily to a man by geese; and surely if I should declaim in the praise of any manner of beast living, I would choose a goose. But the goose hath made us flee too far from our matter.
But Ascham had another object in writing the Toxophilus: it was with the view of presenting to the public a specimen of a purer and more correct English style than that to which they had hitherto been accustomed; and with the hope of calling the attention of the learned from the exclusive study of the Greek and Latin, to the cultivation of their vernacular language.' Consequently, he was one of the first founders of a style truly English in
1 Whereas. 2 More.
8 May he Dot, In his kind and benevolent heart, have had another motive In writing the Toxophiina, namely, to divert attention of the people from many or the barbnroua sport* which existed in Mb day. such as bear-b:iitkng and bull-batUng. It Is on record that Queen Elizabeth, soon after the ascended rhe throne, entertained tile French ambassador* with brar and bull-baiUng, and stood, herself, a wpectatress of the amusement until 3lx In the evening' I