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yet, is that kings and queens make the best of this life. Yet, not long before he went, Prince Albert said to his wife, “I do not cling to life. You do; but I set no store by it. If I knew that those I loved were well cared for, I should be quite ready to die to-morrow.' Of course that good man spoke sincerely. Most men are less outspoken: but if you got at their real feeling, however prosperous and esteemed they may be, you would find that after the turn of life, there are many mornings on which they envy those whose names appear in the death-list in the newspaper. You may say this is morbid. Possibly it is. All the same it is real. When a man is pressed hy evils he cannot mend, there are but the two things: to bear, and to get away. And you will many times think the second the easier and better. Even when there is not positive suffering from which one would be thankful to be delivered, the burden which is laid upon many men in a highly-civilised country is beyond their strength. I remember well, when a boy, an old gentleman engaged in a business in wbich he had made a large fortune, who used to worry one when asked to do anything by saying to himself even as he addressed himself to do it, So tired. One felt no sympathy whatsoever with that over-wearied yet most successful man. It seemed a piece of affectation and pretence. Gradually you come to understand the thing, and to know that it is a sorrowful reality. And where wealth and success have not come, the weariness is greater; though possibly borne with no complaint. I have heard of a little boy, who being told to go and ask his overburdened father to do something for him, replied, 'I don't like to go. He always does what I ask him, but he moans. He was but a very little boy : but hearing that inarticulate complaint, like that of an overladen camel, he felt that there was something amiss, and he shrank from laying anything more on one whose load was too great already. But the little boy was too sympathetic for this world: others beyond reckoning would never mind the moaning at all, so they got what they wanted. There are mothers-in-law, there are wives, there are children, who will without the least remorse squeeze the poor spiritless drudge, to the last struggle and the last shilling. One has seen the plague of locusts come down on various anxious homes, and on some very heavy hearts. There are women who have tied themselves to such husbands : there are poor men who have tied themselves to such wives: that the only thing remaining is to get away from the miserable home. I fancy that a thoroughly unhappy marriage is the thing above all others which will make man or woman conclude that there is no more to be made of this life. Not everyone could take such a trial with the easy disregard which was shown by a singular Prime Minister of a former generation. And even he must have sometimes thought that this was not what he had at one time anticipated. Coming down to physical discomforts and disabilities, there are men who would say, Things are so bad, as concerns teeth, digestion, lameness, gout, that really one is far better out of it all. And when the gripe of pain
is at its savagest, it comes to poor Frederick Robertson's cry, 'I cannot bear it; let me rest. It comes to the anguished Mirabeau's entreaty for something to make him unconscious of agony : Dormir ! He could not speak: but he wrote the one word. Less tragic, less urgent, but as real, is the desolate sense in many, I am such a crazy, rickety machine, in body and mind, that I am no good to anybody: and I am much better out of the way.
You can think of some poor creature, toiling at his desk with bleeding lungs to write wit to earn his children bread, and driven half distracted by any sound that jarred the shaken nerves,—knowing how the little boys must be hushed by the care-worn mother into an unnatural stillness, yet hearing sometimes the laugh that showed the elasticity of the childish heart amid even such unnatural surroundings,-as saying to himself, in all seriousness, Now I have such an uneasy, anxious temperament, that it is not fit I should stay to overcloud these bright young lives. They are afraid to speak to me when I am locked into my room, in the dark hour of excessive toil, or the darker hour of going over my accounts, and scheming how I may pay my way. If I could but leave them and their poor mother in any decent measure provided for, I should be thankful to get away.'
Without quite coming down to that, the Better Away will cross even a cheerful and hopeful mind, growing old, when the conviction comes that there is no hope of doing any better work than one has done already : possibly of doing any good work at all. Sir Walter said that the right place for him was the grave, when he found he could write no more. You never fancied, you who minister to some little rural flock, that you were the least bit like him. Yet, in your lowly way, you suffer as he suffered. You work, like a slave, for several days, writing a sermon you fancied wholly new.
You never worked what mind you have harder. Then you are told, with awful candour, by a friendly critic, that the discourse did not contain a sentence which you had not said before. Is it not time to go? Of course it is quite proper for all critics to tell an aging author that his day is over: he is merely repeating himself, and the whole thing is very poor. These good men are doing no more than their duty. But when one reads such a passage as one in Dean Alford's diary, near the end, when heart and nerve were failing, and he had read an unfriendly notice of a work which had cost him much thought and labour, it is with sorrowful sympathy. With that good and eminent man, any falling off need not have been more than temporary : the result of long and excessive over-work. If he could but have allowed himself a good long rest! And he was but sixty.
I do not know whether Gray's Elegy' is known to all readers in these days as it used to be when it was in all school-books. It has passed from these now, giving place in some cases) to very transient rubbish. Still, it is a poem to which one refers, without quoting it. And we may hope that everybody knows the famous verse, in which he suggests that nobody ever goes quite willingly away from this
pleasing, anxious being.' But it is ever to be remembered that Gray was a bachelor. He lived in quiet College rooms. He knew nothing of the cares of house-keeping. His income was always ample. Above all, he knew nothing of the up-bringing of children: the cost of garments and little shoes and schooling: the development of the independent will as years go on: the occasional choice of evil rather than good: the awful black sheep: the little household scattered over the wide world. He did not know how heavy the burden grows, how rent the interests, how weak the heart, how desponding the sense that you can do nothing, towards the end. None are so tired out, as men and women who have had the inestimable treasure yet the unspeakable anxiety of many children. And after all, the great thing that makes human beings feel they are Better Away, is the sense of being quite worn out. When one was young, one used to think that old people, specially those in conspicuous places, ought to have been dead long ago. You wondered they had the face to stay here so long: like Mr. Outram's old woman to whom he had sold an annuity, and who, impiously as he thought, persisted in far outliving the scriptural measure of human years. But when one is young no longer, one's views on this subject change. It is not now the sense that we ought to yield our places to others, and give them their turn, that weighs with us. It is the sense that one is wearied, and fain would sleep. One has no longer heart for the struggle and the race: let us slip away.
I am not sure that wearied folk, thinking it quite time to go, think much of where they are going, or what they are to be. I believe that when people wish themselves away, they think the great change an End, a Cessation. They do not clearly take in that it is a Beginning. Mrs. Fanny Kemble said, wisely, to a poor girl who said she was so worn out that she sometimes thought of killing herself, 'Don't do that. It would be running away from school: and you may find yourself set to harder tasks where you would go.' 'I never thought of that,' said the poor girl, with a startled look. It was an alarming counsel, had he literally meant it, which an expiring parson of the last generation addressed to his weeping wife, at the very last. They had dwelt together for very many years: and parting seemed impossible. I'll die, and go with you,' the poor wife said. But the cautious old Scotchman replied, 'Bide where ye are, woman: ye're far better where ye are.' Severely interpreted, the words gave but a blank account of the place where he must go for even poor Uncle Tom knew that Heaven is better than Kentuck: and most would hope that it is many degrees better than Fife. All the good man really intended was to check what savoured of the heroic and extravagant, and to convey that God's time and way were best. I do not know how it may be in the region where you dwell, friendly reader: but in my own little experience the use has been to speak of the unseen world as of course a great deal better than this. Whosoever goes from this world to that has of course gained by the
exchange. I look back, over many years, to the day on which a good old grandmother spoke to me with firm faith of an ill-behaved lad who had died: and who assuredly would have needed to be greatly changed before he could be fit for saintly society: 'It's just a month to-day,' were her words, since my poor boy went to glory.' It seemed, in one's early days, that such a fashion of speech was no more than the keeping up of a kindly fiction: as when in a public assembly one heard Mr. Smith speak of an aged member of it as our venerable father, whom a few minutes before he had in private described as that obstructive old idiot. But some of us humbly cherish a hope now, which in those days one durst not have expressed; and read the burial service with a lowly trust over those who while here were very odd Christians.
Who was it that said to me, with a sorrowful face, these strange words: Nearly every married man of limited means above fifty years of age is broken-hearted?
A. K. H. B.
BY MRS. HENRY REEVE,
HE publications of the Early English Text Society have thrown light on many of the small incidents of the daily life of our ancestors, as well as on the great events of history. But they have not brought to light any manuscript on the art of cookery, and it is to the research of a lady that we are indebted for the publication of the Noble Boke off Cookry' of which we now propose to give a short account. In the library of the Earl of Leicester at Holkham there exists a very curious manuscript, which has lately been reprinted, and thus made accessible to the public. Mrs. Alexander Napier, who edits the work, has written a very interesting introduction to it, and added notes illustrating the text. The Noble Boke of Cookery,' for it is of cookery the manuscript treats, deserves attention from more than one point of view. We gather from its contents what our ancestors considered dainty dishes, what materials were at the command of the cook, what were the deficiencies and difficulties he had to overcome, what great differences of taste from that of the present day are marked, and how few are the ingenious combinations which have survived to modern times.
Mrs. Napier assigns 1467 as the probable date of the 'Noble Boke.' There is so great a resemblance in the recipes, as well as in the words in which they are expressed, to the Forme of Cury,' compiled about 1390 by the master cooks of Richard II., that it may be as old as that composition. The 'Forme of Cury' on a vellum roll, which was presented to Queen Elizabeth in the twenty-eighth year of her reign by Lord Stafford's heir,2 eventually came into the hands of that Gustavus Brander of Christchurch, whose signal preservation from drowning in the Thames in the year 1768 is commemorated by an annual sermon preached in the beautiful minster church, near which was his country house, and where he collected rarities." Mr. Warner, the incumbent of a Hampshire parish, at Mr. Brander's request, printed the 'Forme' in his Antiquitates Culinaria.' The original, it is said in the introduction, was not found at Mr. Brander's death, and there is, therefore, now no possibility of deciphering in the original the strange words and stranger dishes.
In the Holkham 'Boke' the first bill of fare is that of a ffeste
1 A Noble Boke off Cookry. London: Elliot Stock.
2 The dedication of this roll ran as follows:- Antiquum hoc monimentum oblatum et missum est Majestati vestræ vicesimo septimo die mensis Julii, anno regni vestri felicissimi VIII. ab humillimo vestro subdito vestræque Majestati fidelissimo.ED. STAFFORD, Hæres domus subversæ Buckinghamiens.
Mr. Brander was Curator of the British Museum, and his portrait by Dance may be seen there. He collected not only for himself, but for the nation, and left private collections of his own to the Museum at his death.
No. 633 (NO. CLIII. N. s.)