« PreviousContinue »
The king's speech' in the play is rather less liberal than even that of Holinshed. In the former part of the speech in the play,* Henry makes a joke upon Falstaff's bulk, and then tells him not to reply “ with a fool-born jest ?” Warburton thinks this a high touch of nature. Henry was relapsing into Hal, but checked himself. This is natural; and we have heard of other Princes of Wales who would wage an unequal war of jokes. But I suspect that it was Shakspeare who relapsed, not his hero. The king then proceeds gravely
“Presume not that I am the thing I was :
For heaven doth know, so shall the world perceive,
“ Ch. Justice. Go, carry Sir John Falstaff to the Fleet;
Take all his company along with him." Johnson can find no better reason for this harsh measure than the dramatist's desire to get his hero off the stage.f The Doctor's criticism on these two plays of " Henry the Fourth" are, for him, unusually favourable :
“ Perhaps no author has in two plays afforded so much delight. The great events are interesting, for the fate of kingdoms depends upon them; the slighter occurrences are diverting, and, except one or two, sufficiently probable ; the incidents are multiplied with wonderful fertility of invention, and the characters diversified with the utmost nicety of discernment, and the profoundest skill in the nature of man." I
agree with Dr. Johnson in deeming these two of the best of the historical plays; and they are remarkable for nothing more eminently than the diversity of the characters. Of these, some are pure inventions ; others are skilfully adopted from the writers of history. Such is the character of Prince Henry, of which the Chronicles, whether true or false, furnish an outline sufficiently definite. To complete the characters of Hotspur and Glendower, the poet necessarily drew more largely on his imagination, but each of the three characters is consistent and natural. So also is that of Northumberland, and, so far as they are developed, Mowbray and the Archbishop. The little that we have of Prince John, except as a commander, is imaginary. There is no ground for imputing to him more sobriety than is allowed to his brothers. There is nothing very striking in Shakspeare's delineation of Henry the Fourth himself; but nothing, assuredly, to offend nature or violate history. * Act v. Sc. 5.
+ Bosw. 239.
A STEAM VOYAGE FROM LONDON TO PARIS.*NO. II.
BY MICHAEL J. QUIN, ESQ., AUTHOR OF
The steam raft mentioned in my former paper was a curiosity in its way. I have not seen anything like it elsewhere, and it might be introduced upon some of our canals and rivers with great advantage. Two narrow boats of considerable length placed side by side, leaving a space of about three feet between them, support a platform which extends several feet beyond their outward sides. They are urged forward by a single wheel, which is placed between the two boats, near the poops, where the steam machinery is also arranged. The lower platform sustains another, the interval between them being partly occupied by what is called the parlour, or principal cabin. Beyond the cabin there is an open space for passengers of a secondary class, and also a space railed off for cattle, sheep, and poultry. The upper platform is entirely open, and dedicated to passengers of the third class. The parlour-people pay twelve sous; those on the open deck in front of them, six sous ; and those on the upper deck only three sous; the latter station was crowded. Indeed every part of the raft seemed to be fully occupied. It presented a most extraordinary appearance altogether, from its Noahlike simplicity, belonging to the antedeluvian ages, and yet propelled by the most admirable of all inventions appertaining to the time in which we live. It moved forward with great rapidity, the mouth, if such it might be called, formed between the two prows, swallowing the stream continually, which it discharged in foam behind, after being operated upon by the paddles. The helmsman exercised a complete control over its movements, directing it here and there, with the utmost facility, amongst the islands and near the villages, to take up
fresh passengers. Its slender chimney, its burthen of animals of every degree, its reappearance after being occasionally lost among the islands, the rusticity of its form, very plainly constructed and painted all white, its great velocity, as it seemed, from its slight draught, to skim over the surface of the stream, attracted general admiration. It looked like a peasantgirl endowed by nature with all the solid and useful accomplishments of civilized life.
There are two of these rafts which ply three times a-day between La Bouille and Rouen. Except so far as the steam machinery is concerned, they are said to be very old acquaintances of the Seine in this direction, their existence being traceable as far back as the middle of the seventeenth century; they are called by the Normans “boatcoaches," bateaux-coches.
I ought to have before noticed, a little beyond La Bouille, the village of Moulineaux, seated on the declivity of a mountain, behind which extends the forest of La Lande, celebrated in the middle ages for the robberies and assassinations of which it was the theatre. On the summit of an abrupt hill are seen the ruins of an old castle built by one of the Dukes of Normandy to defend the passage of the river ; it is
. Concluded from No. ccxii., p. 505.
called the castle of Robert-le-Diable, of whom many traditions are related, demonstrative of his perfect right to the title which is added to his name. The frowning forest of La Lande was the favourite scene of his adventures; from its dark recesses he rushed out upon the travelling merchants of those days, and, after plundering them of their property, he conveyed them into its shades, whence they never emerged again. The beauteous and retired banks of the Seine were in those days much sought after, as sites for convents and monasteries, by the religious of both sexes. Amongst other audacious feats ascribed to Robert, it is told that he broke periodically into the nunneries in his neighbourhood, selected its most attractive inmates, bore them away to his bowers in the interior of the forest, and, after rendering them the victims of his violent passions, dismissed them with their bosoms mutilated in the most barbarous manner. This outlaw is not to be confounded with another Duke of Normandy, the father of the “ Conqueror,” who lived some three hundred years after; and who, for some reason or another, bore occasionally the same title, although the reverse of the fiend in all things.
We landed at Rouen soon after one o'clock, and, having taken up our quarters at the Grand Hotel, we proceeded forthwith to see the “lions” of the place, under the auspices of an English Cicerone, the least talkative of the Tullian race I had yet encountered. Rouen is undoubtedly one of the most interesting cities in Europe. Its situation, in the midst of undulating hills, teeming with natural wealth, and diversified by scenery of the most enchanting description; its famed cathedral and churches; its narrow lofty streets, built in the fantastic styles of the middle ages; the many curious old wooden edifices which strike the eye in every quarter, present to the traveller many objects well calculated to arrest his attention and to gratify his curiosity.
It may be remembered that a few years ago, a great part of the principal tower of the cathedral was struck down by the electric fluid during a tremendous storm. The damage has been since repaired in a most extraordinary manner—a manner peculiarly French. An imitation of the former summit, which was remarkable for its light and airy appearance in consequence of its being pierced through in every possible direction, has been framed in cast-iron; and this awful pile has been planted on that portion of the old tower which survived the tempest. I say awful, because it is calculated to attract the lightning so powerfully when the storm shall again collect its force in the neighbourhood of Rouen ; and, should vibration take place, and the mass tumble, as it seems always threatening to do, the devastation it must produce would be terrific. The difference of its colour from the lower portion of the tower, and from that of the sacred edifice in general, is a deformity which no lapse of time can remedy.
The interiors of the cathedral, and of the church of St. Ouen, their richly-painted windows, their vaulted roofs, their chapels, monuments, and altars, we had merely time to glance at. They are so celebrated for the effect which they were intended to produce—the instant diversion of the mind from the ordinary affairs of life, and the impulsion of its faculties to the contemplation of all that awaits us in other worlds—that, even had leisure permitted me to examine them in detail, I should have reserved the memory of them in my own bosom. The subjects have
been made so commonplace by architectural tourists and professed book-makers, that I could scarcely hope to redeem them from the jargon in which they have been involved. There is a holy water vase at the entrance of the church of St. Ouen, which is called the magic mirrora name it well deserves; when quite full, as it happened to be when I gaw it, it reflects the whole roof so perfectly, that you feel, while looking upon its surface, as if the beauteous pile were suddenly turned upside down. The vessel is placed precisely in the spot in which alone this optical effect could have been created; its position is said to have been entirely accidental.
Tokens of the new industry of France are abundantly manifest in the new buildings which are seen Ivy the river-side, and in the various manufactories which have been erected at a short distance from the town. The new custom-house is a superb structure.
It is a careful provision of the authorities that the manufactories should have been kept at some distance from the town. They are ranged one after another with gardens and fields between them, so as to mitigate the nuisance of their smoke as much as possible. The river in front of the magnificent quay was crowded with shipping of considerable burthen. A new suspension bridge, the quay covered with all kinds of merchandise, numerous shops filled with goods set out in the most tempting array, many of them having long streamers of gaily-coloured silks and cottons suspended from the upper windows, streets constantly traversed by cars, and waggons, and carriages, and a population intent upon business, served at once to indicate the decided change which has converted a strong military fortress into an emporium of trade.
Before the revolution of 1789 Rouen was a place of ramparts, ditches, castles, towers, bastions, casemates, drawbridges, and fortified gates. All these emblems of strife have nearly disappeared. The ancient physiognomy of the town has been wholly altered; with the exception of the churches and the old wooden houses, few things now remain to attest the antiquity of this once formidable stronghold of the Norman dynasties.
We dined at the table d'hôle of our hotel—which, by-the-by, I would recommend all travellers to do, for a better-served table I have seldom seen in France-and, in the evening, drove as far as we could, and walked the remainder of the way, until we completed the ascent of the hill of St. Catherine, which commands a complete view of Rouen and of the country in its neighbourhood. The prospect fully repaid our toil. The sun, which was just setting behind the town, lent a solemn lustre to the roofs and steeples of the sacred edifices with which Rouen abounds, the high narrow streets being at the same time involved in shade. The winding river was seen to a considerable distance, here covered with shipping, there stealing its course through green pastures, now darkening under the coming night, now borrowing the red and purple colours of the clouds which canopied the descending orb.
The ground on which we stood was once a fortress, a portion of its castle still remains standing, though much shattered by the lightning. The walls are overthrown and covered with grass, and the mounds visible on all sides clothed with verdure bear witness to the importance formerly attached to the possession of this hill by the chivalrous rulers of Normandy. Villas and new houses of various descriptions appeared
to be in progress of erection in the suburbs, and, had it not been for that terrible eye-sore—the cast-iron topping of the cathedral tower-I should have said that the picture presented to our view combined features of beauty and grandeur scarcely excelled by any other city I have seen in Europe--Constantinople and Naples only excepted. That monstrosity does all it can to mar the magic of the scene.
The traveller should not fail to visit the place where the Maid of Orleans was so iniquitously sacrificed, the more especially as near it he Till find a remarkably-curious old mansion called “ The Hotel du Bourgtheroude,” which has puzzled all the antiquaries who have yet written about Rouen. On two of the walls of the court-yard are some basreliefs, executed in the rudest and most clumsy style of the art, and yet possessing a fantastic boldness and an expression of character which strongly rivet the attention. One set of these carvings represents the celebrated interview between our Henry the Eighth and Francis the First. The attempt to exhibit in stone the field spread with the cloth of gold is very droll. The figures of the kings and their attendants are really well laboured out, and several of the horses are chiselled with common spirit; but the whole scene presents an aspect irresistibly comic. The other compartment of the work is occupied with pictures of pastoral life---men cutting down corn-mowing hay-ploughingdriving sheep to the fold—and following the various avocations of the country. The whole scene reminded us of the clown at Astley's theatre, who imitates the master professor of the circus with a dexterity which, though rude in its way, is still well worthy of the laughing admiration it seldom fails to acquire.
The museum, also, of Rouen, and the public library, offer many objects worth inspection. The former contains a considerable number of paintings, the gift of Napoleon, selected from the Flemish, Dutch, German, French, Italian, and Spanish schools. In the library it is stated that there are above a thousand manuscripts, amongst which I had the good fortune to get a peep at the celebrated Gradual," written by a Benedictine monk, and illuminated in a style of matchless elegance. A Gradual is a volume which contains a series of anthems, chiefly in the Gregorian note, and used at mass and vespers in the Catholic church. The first letters of the anthems are ornamented with designs of the most exquisite beauty. The work, which is upon vellum, is said to have employed the leisure hours of the writer during a period of thirty years. The museum and the library occupy apartments in the ancient Abbey of St. Ouen, an extensive as well as a very stately edifice, which has been used for several years as the hôtel de ville. There are large gardens attached to it, which, though now used as a public promenade, seem to have been well calculated to encourage religious meditation. The views from the library windows of the mountains in the neighbourhood of Rouen are pregnant with all the charms of tranquillity.
It will be confessed, I think, that we were not inactive during our short stay at Rouen. A fortnight or three weeks might, indeed, be very pleasantly engaged in examining this most interesting town and the scenery for some leagues around it. We had but a few hours to devote to any such purpose. We remained there but one night. Quitting our beds at the early hour of three the following morning, we embarked on board the Dorade, so called from the fish of that name (the John Dory, as we