ページの画像
PDF
ePub

The ex

The Southwark of that time resembles the Southwark of to-day about as much as Vaugirard resembles Marseille. It was a suburbit is a city. Nevertheless, it gave a great impetus to navigation. The long old Cyclopean wall was studied with rings, to which were anchored the city barges. This wall was called the Effroc wall, or the Effroc stone.

York, when it was Saxon, was called Effroc. The legend related that a Duke of Effroc had been drowned at the foot of the wall. Certainly the water there was deep enough to drown a duke. In the deepest water there was six good fathoms. cellence of this little anchorage attracted sea vessels, and the old Dutch tub, called the Vograat, came to anchor at the Effroc stone. The Vograat made the crossing from London to Rotterdam, and from Rotterdam to London, punctually once a week. Other barges went twice a day, either for Deptford, Greenwich, or Gravesend, going down with one tide and returning with the next. The voyage to Gravesend, though twenty miles, could be accomplished in six hours.

The Vograat was of a model which can no longer be seen now, except in naval museums. This tub was almost a junk. At that time, when France copied Greece, Holland copied China. The Vograat, a heavy hull with two masts, was partitioned perpendicularly, so as to be water-tight, having a narrow room in the middle of the ship, and two decks, one fore and the other aft. The decks were raised as in steam vessels of the present day, which had this advantage, that by this arrangement, in foul weather, the force of the wave was diminished, and the inconvenience of exposing the cargo to the action of the sea was avoided. From the absence of any parapet, nothing arrested the progress of any one on board from falling over. Thence, frequent falls and losses of men, which have caused this model to fall into disuse. The Vograat went straight for Holland, and did not even stop at the stairs at Gravesend.

An old ridge of stones, rock rather than masonry, ran along the bottom of the Effroc stone, and practicable at all tides, facilitated going on board the ships fastened to the wall. This wall was, at several distances, furnished with steps. It marked the south point of Southwark. A heap of rubbish at the top permitted the passengers to rest their elbows on the summit of the Effroc stone, as on the parapet of a quay. From that point the Thames was visible ; on the other side of the water London ended. There was nothing but fields.

Up the river from the Effroc Stone, where the Thames bent nearly

opposite the palace of Saint James, behind Lambeth House, not far from the walk called then Foxhall (Vauxhall, probably), there was, between a pottery where they made porcelain, and a glass-blower's, where they made ornamental bottles, one of those unenclosed back spaces covered with grass, called formerly in France cultures and mails; and in England, bowling-greens. Of bowling-green, a green carpet on which to roll a ball, the French have made boulingrin.

Folks have now-a-days this green space inside their houses, only it is put on the table, and is a cloth instead of turf, and is called billiards.

It is difficult to see why, having boulevard (boule-vert), which is the same word as bowling-green, the French should have given themselves boulingrin. It is surprising that a person so grave as the Dictionary should have all these useless luxuries.

The bowling-green of Southwark was called Tarrinzeau Field, because it had belonged to the Barons Hastings, who are Barons Tarrinzeau and Mauchline.

From the Lords Hastings the Tarrinzeau Field passed to the Lords Tadcaster, who had made a speculation of it, in the same manner that, at a later date, a Duke of Orleans made a speculation of the Palais Royal. Afterwards this Tarrinzeau became waste ground and parochial property.

Tarrinzeau Field was a kind of permanent fair ground, covered with jugglers, athletes, mountebanks, and music on platforms; and always full of “fools, who came to look at the devil," as Archbishop Sharpe said, which means to go to the play.

A great many inns, which took in and sent the public to these outlandish exhibitions, opened on this place, which kept holiday all the year round, and thereby prospered. These inns were simply stalls, inhabited only during the day. In the evening the tavernkeeper put into his pocket the key of the tavern and went away.

Only one of these inns was a house, the only dwelling in the whole bowling-green, the caravans of the fair ground having the power of disappearing from one moment to another, in consequence of the absence of stability, and of the vagabondage of all mountebanks.

Mountebanks have no roots to their lives.

This inn, called the Tadcaster Inn, after the name of its former owners, was rather an inn than a tavern, rather a hotel than an inn, and had a carriage entrance, and rather a large yard.

The carriage entrance, opening from the court on to the field, was

the legitimate door of the Tadcaster Inn, which had, beside it, a small bastard door, by which folks entered. Who says bastard, says preferred. This lower door was not the only one through which there was a way. It opened into the tavern, properly so called, which was a large taproom, full of tobacco smoke, furnished with tables, and low in the ceiling. It was lighted by a window on the first floor, to the iron bars to which was fastened and hung the sign of the inn. The principal door, barricaded and bolted for good, remained shut.

It was necessary to cross the tavern to enter the courtyard.

There was at Tadcaster Inn a master and a boy. The master was called Master Nicless, the boy Govicum. Master Nicless—Nicholas, without doubt, which the English habit of contraction had made Nicless, was a miserly widower, and one who respected and trembled at the laws. As to his appearance, he had bushy eyebrows and hairy hands. The boy, aged fourteen, who poured out drink, and answered to the name of Govicum, had a large, merry face, and an apron. His hair was cropped close, a sign of servitude.

He slept on the ground floor, in a hut into which they formerly put a dog. This hut had for a window a bull's-eye looking on to the bowling-green.

The Green Box had arrived in London It was established at Southwark. Ursus had been tempted by the bowling-green, which had this excellence, that the fair was never-ending, even in winter.

To see the dome of St. Paul's was a pleasure to Ursus.

London, take it all in all, has some fine things in it. It was an act of bravery to dedicate a cathedral to St. Paul. The true cathedral saint is St. Peter. St. Paul is suspected of imagination, and in matters ecclesiastical imagination means heresy. St. Paul is only a saint by extenuating circumstances. He only entered heaven by the artistic door.

A cathedral is a sign. St. Peter signifies Rome, the city of dogmas. St. Paul signifies London, the city of schism.

Ursus, whose philosophy had arms so long that it embraced all, was a man who appreciated these shades of difference, and his attraction towards London arose, perhaps, from a certain taste for St. Paul.

The large court of the Tadcaster Inn had fixed the choice of Ursus. The court seemed to have been made for the Green Box. It was a ready-made theatre. It was square, and built upon three sides, with a wall over against the front of the house.

Against

It was

this wall they placed the Green Box, which could enter the courtyard, thanks to the large dimensions of the grand entrance. A large wooden balcony, roofed over, and supported on posts, on to which the rooms of the first storey opened, was fastened to the three fronts of the interior facade of the house, making two right angles.

The windows of the ground floor formed the boxes, the pavement of the court made the pit, and the balcony made the balcony. The Green Box, reared against the wall, had before it a theatrical house. It resembled greatly the Globe, where they played “Othello," “King Lear," and "The Tempest."

In a corner behind the Green Box was a stable.

Ursus had made his arrangements with the tavern keeper, Master Nicless, who, in consequence of his respect to the laws, would not admit the wolf without making him pay dearly for it.

The placard, “Gwynplaine, the Grinning Man," taken from its nail in the Green Box, was hung up close to the sign of the inn. The sitting-room of the tavern had, as we know, an inside door which opened into the court. By the side of this door was constructed off-hand, by means of an empty barrel, a box for the money taker, who was sometimes Fibi, and sometimes Vinos. managed much as at present. Who entered paid. Under the board of the Grinning Man was hung a piece of wood, painted white, on two nails, on which was charcoaled in large letters the title of Ursus' grand piece, “Chaos Vanquished.”

In the centre of the balcony, precisely opposite the Green Box, in a compartment which had for its entrance a window down to the ground, had been reserved between two compartments a space for the nobility. It was large enough to hold, in two rows, ten spectators.

“We are in London," said Ursus. "It is necessary to be prepared for the gentry.”

He had furnished this box with the best chairs of the inn, and had placed in the centre a grand arm-chair of best Utrecht velvet, with a: cherry-coloured pattern, in case some alderman's wife should come.

The representations began. The crowd immediately entered; but the compartment for the nobility remained empty. With that exception the success became so great, that no mountebank memory could recall its parallel. All Southwark ran in crowds to admire the Grinning Man.

The merryandrews and mountebanks of Tarrinzeau field were aghast at Gwynplaine. A sparrow-hawk flapping his wings in a cage of goldfinches, and feeding in their seed-trough, this was the effect. Gwynplaine ate up their public.

[graphic][ocr errors]
« 前へ次へ »