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• but I suppose I've learnt better now. If it's gentility some of these folks are after, I say they buy it too dear. It isn't honesty, and I doubt it isn't even happiness. I doubt it hasn't the promise of the life that now is, any more than that of the life to come If you don't think he's a good man, Laura, don't you have him, no matter what he is nor what he's got.'
Michael's plain simplicity of speech somehow made it easier for the girl to speak.
I had almost made up my mind to have him when you came,' she said. * Father will be ready to turn me out of the house if I don't.'
* It doesn't seem right,' he answered, 'to encourage a girl to go against her parents. But there's some things where every one has a right to speak. You're a lady, my dear, and you've never had occasion to soil your pretty hands, but you'd better earn your own living, if it was over a wash-tub, than be a lady of the sort he'd make you. I say so that have a good right to know ; for I've earned my own living, in a way that's gone sore against the grain, all my days since I was a child ; and I've valued gentility more maybe than those that have always had it within their reach.'
'I wish you were not going away,' she said, and sighed.
'I couldn't help you if I was here. But yonder perhaps I might. Coldacres is a poor little place, but it's a shelter and a home, and it'll be always yours to come to, my dear, if you should have to anger--those you are with. You're one of the gentle ones, you'll not anger them more than you can help; but for God's sake stand fast, my lass, and if you want a friend come to me.'
*You are very good,' she answered, hesitating, and he looked down on her and smiled somewhat sadly.
• It would be a step down for you, that! I don't know what that feels like; I've been down all my life, you see! And I shall never be a gentleman, now. When I was your age it would nigh have broken my heart to have known that; and now I've given it up of my own will! It's a queer world, and, maybe, for your sake I ought to wish never to see your face at Coldacres ; but, my dear, I'd rather by half I'm worth see that than see you in the paper as Mrs. Henry Barclay.'
*You shall never see that; I promise,' answered Laura, more steadily ; and with that they said 'Good-bye.'
VOL. 85 (V.-NEW SERIES).
Coldacres still belongs to Michael Anderson, and it is ten years now since old Mrs. Anderson died. But there is a mistress now at the little farmstead, and last time I passed it I saw a rosy little girl in the garden who freely entered into conversation with me, and informed me that her name was Rebecca, and that baby sister was called Laura. From the look of the home at Coldacres I should say that the master was a happy man, though the snow lies so long there under those crooked walls of dark brown stone.
Is it a pity that Michael Anderson-tender to his wife and children, generous to his servants, kind to the poor, courteous to his superiors—will always suppose that he has, after all, missed being a gentleman ?
Well! perhaps not.
BOOK NOTICES. An Easter Vacation, by Moira O'Neill (Laurence and Butler). This is a bright little love story, good in style and tone, interspersed with remarks worth reading, and delicate word-pictures. Mac is a delightful boy, and the characters are all natural. The final denouement requires a little more explanation to be probable, but it is a pretty and individual book.
The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, by Mary E. Coleridge (Chatto & Windus), is an original and somewhat brilliant sketch of the type of Mr. Shorthouse's minor stories, and, perhaps, of some of Mr. Stevenson's writings. It is well worth any one's while to discover whether it takes their fancy; for it is full of fancy of the most vivid kind.
Mrs. Marshall has written a pretty little book of verses, called the Eve of St. Michael (Arrowsmith, Bristol), for the benefit of St. Lucy's Hospital for Children, at Gloucester.
To parents of schoolboys, we much recommend the Hunter and Bear; A. Littelton's Mothers and Sons (Macmillan).
I WANDERED in through the open door
He bordered the pulpit and reading-desk,
I asked him the reason; he simply said: «“Good Friday," madam, we mourn for the dead ; 'Tis seemly' the Church should be left in gloom While our Saviour sleeps in His rocky tomb.
* Upon Easter Day we shall “light the yez”
Ah, what is the light which the Chancel fills ?
THE PETTY CONSTABLE IN SHAKSPERE'S TIME. BY GRACE LATHAM, AUTHOR OF 'READING AS AN ART,' 'THE STAGE 15
A PROFESSION FOR GIRLS.'
THERE is a class of literature which we say is for all time; it deals with the general characteristics of humanity, the sins, sorrows, joys, and vanities which each generation has in about equal measure. On such subjects the wisdom of yesterday is as fresh as though uttered to-day; and when, in Shakspere, it is coupled with exquisite poetry and strong dramatic expression of keenly-observed human nature, the ordinary reader hardly feels the lapse of time since his plays were first published. But in reality they teem with allusions to political and social events, customs, follies, abuses of his day; and many a passage which now seems pointless must, when first written, have cut deep, and have roused the house to laughter and applause.
The notes to the most important editions of Shakspere help us to a certain extent, but of necessity in too fragmentary a fashion to assist the imagination to realise the force of the allusions. It is far more interesting to create for ourselves pictures of the times in which Shakspere lived by which to explain his works ; and we are mightily assisted in our labour by the cheap modern reprints of sixteenth-century books, and the publication of its records, which place within reach of the general public what the scholar of a century ago could scarcely obtain.
As we read we seem to see old London ; beautiful houses with peaked roofs, ornamental fronts, and projecting upper stories, whose lattice windows, then a comparatively modern refinement, projected over narrow streets strewn with piles of filth and refuse, inviting the too-frequent pestilence. Here, notwithstanding, sat the housewives at their doors, taking the air and watching the passers-by. The player in his silken cloak, an evidence of prosperity that excited the ire of the Puritans; the grave divine, the bold 'prentice and his master; the merchant in his oldfashioned long gown ; my lord in velvet and embroidery, padded breeches, and a jewel in his ear; the Court physician, followed by his man, with a rapier at his side, just as Shakspere shows us in Doctor Caius and Jack Rugby in the Merry Wives of Windsor; the young gentlemen of the Inns of Court and their wild associates, intent, perhaps, on making a row, and lacerating and prostrating' some worthy citizen's windows. We get a glimpse of them in the reminiscences of old Shallow in the first part of Henry IV.
Life and property were very insecure under Elizabeth. The citizen kept much of his wealth in his house in the form of plate, jewels, 'numbered money,' and linen, then hand-made and a valuable. There were constant burglaries ; shop-lifting was even more common than now ; 'the cut-purse of quick hand' (Henry V., Act V., Scene 2) stripped the pouch from the citizen's side as he passed along the street, the cloak from his shoulders, the wrought falling-band with its tag of gold from his wife's neck. In the roads around town highway robbery was frequent. The merchant was relieved of horse, purse, clothes, and all; the curate of the holy vessels he had come up to London to buy ; so that men rode together for company and protection. . (See Henry IV., Part I., Act I., Scene 2; Act II., Scenes i and 2.)
The lawlessness was so great, and the streets so insecure, that men went armed; and this again led to a fearful amount of crime. A dispute, a drunken squabble, and out came knives and swords. Duels were common. A peaceable citizen might be set upon, and have to fight for his life, and if he killed his man, had then to p ve that he had not been the aggressor, and had done his utmost to avoid a fray, retreating, till stopped by the wall, before turning on his assailants; and failing to do this, he was hung without mercy. This state of things is faithfully reflected by Shakspere, both in long scenes and in detached passages ; and it is easy to understand that the constable of that time was quite incapable of keeping so turbulent a population in check, and that the darkness of the streets at night favoured an enormous amount of ill-behaviour ; so that the chances of the escape of an evil-doer were too many for the ferocious laws of the time to act as deterrents.
The blue-coated policeman of to-day, who takes up his work as a profession, remaining in it for perhaps twenty years or more,