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TABLE OF CONTENTS.
SOUTHEY AND PORSON (second conversation)
DIALOGUES OF LITERARY MEN.
I. LORD BROOKE AND SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.
Brooke.* I come again unto the woods and unto the wilds of Penshurst, whither my heart and the friend of my heart have long invited me.
Sidney. Welcome, welcome! How delightful it is to see a friend after a length of absence! How delightful to chide him for that length of absence, to which we owe such delight!
Brooke. I know not whether our names will be immortal; I am sure our friendship will. For names sound only upon the surface of the earth, while friendships are the purer and the more ardent the nearer they come to the presence of God, the sun not only of righteousness but of love. Ours never has been chipped or dimmed even here, and never shall be.
Sidney. Let me take up your metaphor. Friendship is a vase which, when it is flawed by heat or violence or accident, may as well be broken at once: it can never be trusted after. The more graceful and ornamental it was, the more clearly do we discern the hopelessness of restoring it to its former state. Coarse stones, if they are fractured, may be cemented again; precious ones, never. And now Greville, seat yourself under this oak; since, if you had hungered or thirsted
* Lord Brooke is less known than the personage with whom he converses, and upon whose friendship he had the virtue and good sense to found his chief distinction. On his monument at Warwick, written by himself, we read that he was servant of Queen Elizabeth, counsellor of King James, and friend of Sir Philip Sidney. His style is stiff, but his sentiments are sound and manly. The same house produced another true patriot, slain in the civil wars by a shot from Lichfield minster. Clarendon, without any ground for his assertion, says there is reason to believe he would have abandoned his party and principles. The family is extant: a member of it was created Earl of Warwick by George II. for services as Lord of the Bedchamber.
from your journey, you would have renewed the alacrity of your old servants in the hall.
Brooke. In truth I did; for no otherwise the good household would have it. The birds met me first, affrightened by the tossing up of caps; and by these harbingers I knew who were coming. When my palfrey eyed them askance for their clamorousness, and shrank somewhat back, they quarrelled with him almost before they saluted me, and asked him many pert questions. What a pleasant spot, Sidney, have you chosen [ here for meditation! A solitude is the audience-chamber of God. Few days in our year are like this: there is a fresh pleasure in every fresh posture of the limbs, in every turn the eye takes.
Youth! credulous of happiness, throw down
pretrestal Upon this turf thy wallet, — stored and swoln
With morrow-morns, bird-eggs, and bladders burst,
Thou too wouldst breathe more freely for it, Age!
It sometimes requires a stout push, and sometimes a sudden
Sidney. You have warmed me: I must cool a little and watch my opportunity. So now, Greville, return you to your invitations, and I will clear the ground for the company; for Youth, for Age, and whatever comes between, with kindred and dependencies. Verily we need no taunts like those in your verses here we have few vices, and consequently few repinings. I take especial care that my young laborers and farmers shall never be idle, and I supply them with bows and arrows, with bowls and ninepins, for their Sunday evening,*
* Censurable as this practice may appear, it belonged to the age of Sidney. Amusements were permitted the English on the seventh day, nor were they restricted until the Puritans gained the ascendency. Even labor on certain occasions was not only allowed but enjoined. By an order of Edward VI., the farmer was encouraged to harvest upon the Sunday, and in the same article it is called a great offence to God to be scrupulous and superstitious in foregoing such operations. Aylmer, Bishop of London, used to play at bowls after the service; and, according to Strype, when the good prelate was censured for it, he replied that the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.