« PreviousContinue »
being run through a gauntlet into the hall, whence one young woman departed on his quest. The door closed upon his captors, --for such they seemed to Bob's fevered imagination,-and he could hear their smothered giggles without. He sat wretchedly on the edge of a chair, and for the first time looked the situation in the face. A long evening of responsibility—could the evening be longer? Bob's idea of time was utterly confused and warped -the care of a girl ( death!)--the hundred little requirements which he had forgotten in the years of his neglect—he moistened his lips, and blinked desperately at the light. There were steps on the stairs—they were coming! Bob rose, had a fleeting wonder ii he should feel like this at his wedding, and sat down again.
The girl returned alone. “Miss Hale was to be at Mrs. Martin's tonight,” she said. “I've no doubt you'll find her there.” She smiled kindly at his obvious despair, and he humbly took his departure. The silence as he ran his gauntlet on the steps again was congealing, but he shot into the darkness and was safe.
The street looked less slippery than the walk, so he turned out, and at once fell headlong. The knees of Carl's trousers were badly damaged, and Carl's gloves rolled into the gutter ; but Carson, unmindful of these mishaps, scrambled to his feet again, and in another minute was at the Martins' door.
He was ushered into the drawing-room, and this time remained heroically standing. His bad half-hour was passed; he was now quite calm and undisturbed.
The maid returned shortly, and gave a queer little foreign curtsev.
"Miss Hale is gone."
Gone? Bob sat down hastily, and as hastily rose again. Gone! Gone where? Gone to the party without him? Gone home? Impossible! He uttered some of his doubts incoherently.
"I don't know anything about it,” said the girl. “Mrs. Martin says Miss Hale went nearly an hour ago, with Mr. Walton. She has gone to a dance, I think.”
Carson walked into the hall, incidentally crushing his hat in a convulsive embrace. The bell rang suddenly, and the maid preceded him to the door. He started at the sound of his roommate's voice and hurried out.
Carl stood on the steps, red, disheveled, panting.
"Excuse me,” said the literal Carson, turning to the bewildered girl, and he went out, pulling the door to after him.
“Now then—are you sick ?-what is the matter? Have I done anything?"
Carl pulled him under an electric light and silently handed him an envelope. Carson took it doubtfully, squeezed it, looked at his friend anxiously, and then turned to read the superscription.
"Miss EMILY F. HALE,
He looked up, puzzled.
"I found it," gasped Carl, struggling between laughter and exhaustion, “in your old coat. You forgot to mail it-you—"
Carson put the note in his pocket, and sat down on the curbstone. "I'll go home and finish my Greek,” he said.
K. B. L., '02.
MILTON'S « MASQUE OF COMUS." Some years ago the English department of the College, under the management of Professor David L. Maulsby, produced a highly creditable representation of the old English Mystery Play, Ralph Roister Doister. The interest created by that old-fashioned play led to a revival of the study of early English drama, which resulted in a second representation of a Miracle Play under the same manageinent and with the same unqualified success. The "Townely Pageant", with its earnest and loving actors and workers and its generous patrons, is fresh in our memory. It marked a forward step in the literary history of the college.
The good work of the English department, so wisely set on foot and continued with so much enthusiasm, has developed into a wider and more suggestive sphere. Hitherto the crude thoughts, the coarse manners, and the rough language of our ancestors have been reproduced with startling realism. A certain rugged shrewdness touched the fancy, and the deep religious fervor of their ignorant and superstitious minds revived a feeling of an inward spiritual grace in present day doubters, but the want of order, beauty, “motif,” destroyed its power to correct, instruct and guide. This year marks a radical change, as will be seen in the literary and dramatic work so soon to be produced in Goddard Gymnasium. There will be lofty thought for the mind and high motives for the moral and ethical life, but there will be music, song and dance, courtly gallants and fair women, and over all, life-strenuous life--will leave its lesson on the
open mind. The English department, under the careful management of Professor Thomas Whittemore, is to bring all these beautiful and necessary phases of life before the college community and friends by a loving and thoughtful interpretation of the "Masque of Comus," by John Milton.
Originally the masque came from Italy and became very popular in Queen Elizabeth's time. They were costly entertainments, and the "Good Queen Bess" had such a nice sense of economy that she preferred to be entertained at the castles of her nobles than at her own court. Sir Walter Scott gives an excellent picture of the masque in "Ivanhoe," and shows how the Earl of Leicester strove to out-do all competing rivals by furnishing most elaborate, costly and unique settings to celebrate the visit of his queen.
It was during the reign of Charles I that the English masque reached its perfection. In the month of February, 1634, the lawyers of the “Four Inns of Courts” gave Shirley's “Masque of the Triumph of Peace” in honor of their king. Many of the leading lawyers of the realm took part in this representation and gladly paid their share of the $105,000 expended on this magnificent spectacle. The queen and her maids of honor danced with the masquers, and they continued in their sports until it was almost morning. Shortly after this the king and queen returned the compliment by presenting Carew's “Cælum Brittanicum.” Charles, himself, with fourteen of his nobles, and ten noblemen's young sons, including Viscount Brackley and Mr. Thomas Egerton, the two brothers, in the “Masque of Comus," took the several parts. The royal purse was none too full, and as Charles could not pay the bills he distributed several of $25,000 each among his lawyer friends down at the "Four Inns of Courts."
The names of Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones are pre-eminent in this period. Jonson wrote many of the court masques, and Jones planned the marvellous stage decoration so necessary in those days. Court and nobles went in so much for scenery, stage devices and curious machinery that the poetry and sense of the masque became subordinate to the trappings and settings of the stage. The architect thought his services of more importance than the laureate. Time has long since settled their dispute by giving a place in the minds of men to the thoughts and feelings of the one and covering the wood and tinsel of the other with the dust of oblivion.
At this time Wales was under the control of a Lord President chosen by the Crown, and a vacancy occurring in 1631 King Charles appointed John, Earl of Bridgewater, to that distinguished position. The Earl did not formally enter upon his duties until the autumn of 1634 and celebrated the occasion with great festivities. The great feature of the inauguration was the first performance of Milton's "Comus." It was a touch of Providence that Milton was chosen to write the play. It is thought that the Earl trusted the entire affair to the care of his wife, Lady Francis, a very superior woman, who, recognizing the dignity of her husband's position, and wishing to signalize his entry to his official residence in Ludlow Castle, decided to conciliate the people of Ludlow town by a masque of unusual magnificence and a general good time. The splendors of the court masques and all the gaities of London life inspired her with the theme of the celebration, and she commissioned Henry Lawes, the leading musical composer in England, and also tutor to her children, to prepare a masque adapted to the occasion and suitable to be performed by her children. The other theory is that the two young sons of the Earl were so elated with their parts in “Cælum Brittanicum” and were so flattered by Queen Henrietta when she said "pour les habits elle n'avait jamais rien vue de si brave," that they wanted a masque all to themselves.
It is likely that the scholarly Milton and the refined Henry Lawes had met in the literary circles of London, and as John had given some little token of poetic feeling Mr. Lawes invited him to write the play. Out of the violet nooks of Buckinghamshire came one who, although he had not published a line, wrote one of the sweetest and best poems in the English language, the "Masque of Comus."
The origin of Comus has been variously given. Perhaps Milton may have obtained suggestions from the Comus of Hendrick van der Putten, or from Ben Jonson's character of Comus, so well portrayed in the masque of “Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue,” but it is more likely that he took the Greek legend of Comus, the Riot-god, son of Bacchus and Circe, and beautified and strengthened the demigod of his masque.