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to him the main point. Laughing, he shouts, "What a fool Honesty is!-and Trust, his sworn brother, a very simple gentleman." He plumes himself He plumes himself upon his high-bred rascality in a strain of devout thankfulness, as he contemplates the simpleton-innocence of the two shepherds:" How blest are we that are not simple men! Yet Nature might have made me as these are;-therefore I'll not disdain!" What delicious gusto and relish! and what wit! Again-defending himself from the charge of rectitude - except by accident"Though I am not naturally honest, I am so sometimes by chance." And when he quits his pedlar clothes, and pedlar deportment, and has been promoted, with what magnificence of rebuke he charges the others not to misbehave themselves:-"And let me have no lying; it becomes none but tradesmen!" (O my beloved Willie! what a cordial philosopher wast thou!)
Gines de Passamonte was a callous and vulgar prig compared with thee, my Autolycus; for, of a surety, thou wouldst have respected the romantic benevolence of La Mancha's knight;-never wouldst thou, with a rascal ingratitude, have pashed that venerable face with the rude flint-stones, after he had delivered thee out of the hands of the ruthless alguazil. Compared, too, with thee, the renowned and much-belauded Du Val was a coxcomb and a dandy. He was a dancing-master plunged into an ungenial element-the younger brother, mayhap, of some sleek do-nothing; and so he inherited the instinct of living by faith upon his species,—“taking no more thought than lilies" for the morrow,-sufficient for the day being the plunder thereof. That such a kiddy should have made his public exit from the Tyburn stage in an embroidered dress, bag-wig, ruffles, and fringed gloves, was befitting his "exquisite" nature. He walked his minuet in life, and he danced out of it with a caper and a "galop à la corde."
Happy for thee, my merry Autolycus, that thou wast not merely a natural rogue-a rogue in grain, thoroughbred from a long and legitimate ancestry; but that, with all thy small filchings-thy "quips, and cranks, and wanton wiles"—the serene villainy of thy face-the solemnity of thy adjurations, and the glib-earnestness of thy protestations-thy romantic cheats-thy florid lies-thou hadst therewithal a lurking grain of good nature in thy composition;—that "salt preserved thee." Thou wast, it is true, a confirmed and a solid thief; but then thou wast born as well as bred to that branch of the conveyancing" profession; and couldst thou have changed the Ethiop skin of thy nature, thou mightst have become a distrainer for rent, or a surcharger of taxes-possibly, an informer; and then we should have missed all thy merriment.
I am glad thou wast not hanged, my Autolycus! Such a destiny would have been a sorry climax to thy uncruel misdemeanours. Who but a churl could stop that throat, of which the shepherd's hind, who comes running in, says, in an ecstasy of delight:
"O master! if you did but hear the pedlar at the door, you would never dance again after a tabor and pipe;-no, the bagpipe couldn't move you. He sings several tunes faster than you'll 'll tell money. He utters them as though he had eaten ballads, and all men's ears grew to his tunes. He hath songs for man or woman, of all sizes: no milliner can so fit his customers with gloves. He hath the prettiest love-songs for maids; * with such delicate burdens of "dildos" and "fadings," "jump her" and "thump her," [burdens of song-writers of the time.] And he hath ribands of all the colours i'the rainbow; points, more than all the lawyers in Bohemia can handle, though they come to him by the gross; inkles, caddises, cambrics, lawns:—why, he sings them over as they were gods or goddesses. You would think a smock were a she-angel, he so chants to the sleeve-hand, and the work about the square on 't."
Perdita, the lady innate, says: "Forewarn him that he
use no scurrilous words in his tunes." Then in he comes
"Lawn as white as driven snow;
What maids lack from head to heel;
Come, buy of me, come; come buy, come buy;
Go thy ways, thou merriest of vagabonds! I could better spare a much better man than thou, Autolycus, my pet thief.
The probabilities and the possibilities, the imputed anachronisms, and the geographical blunders in "The Winter's Tale," have, I confess, never disturbed my rest—they never kept me awake at night. I leave the technical prudery of such objections to those dilettanti coxcombs in criticism, who, when they are contemplating Raphael's cartoon of the Miraculous Draught of Fishes, pass over the face of the Messiah, and proceed to measure the proportions of the boat in which He is seated; and then triumphantly tell us, that to be able to sit in that boat were a miracle equal to the one that had just been performed. The delineations of character and passion in this play; the decoration of the poetry, consorting in tender beauty with the rural simplicity of the subject, always transport me back to that golden age when the imagination ran loose amid the odorous glades of poetry, unfretted and unjaded by the burrs and briers of lowthoughted cares and carking anxieties. He who takes us
from the smoke and stir of everyday toil, and laps us in the Elysium of our boyish days—blood-stirring and hopeful—is a benefactor to his species; and to no mortal do I more owe this reminiscence, and gratitude for it, than to