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"Sir," said the painter, turning round upon the satrap," whilst you were silent, I took you for one really superior to other men, but by your speech you have shewn, that even this horse that bears you can judge a picture better." **** The mortified pride of Megabyzus ***** Combabus lingered behind, to salute Apelles at parting, and request his permission to return. **** * Combabus was still kneeling in speechless adoration before the Goddess, when Apelles touched him gently, and awakened him from his ecstasy. “Oh!" said Combabus, "let me implore pardon of the Goddess for an impious doubt that lurked in my bosom, of her having revealed herself to you, and of thee too, thou divine old man. Oh no, it is not in the art of mortal man to create that image from mere invention, and the pencil of Apelles only could catch those traits of the present goddess--her charms visibly naked to vulgar sense, but clothed in divinity to the soul's eye,—the young Himeri, those soft ministers of universal love, binding up the still dripping ringlets of her hair, whilst the compassionate goddess, but just emergent from the wave, catches, with graceful-bended neck, and listening ear, the prayers and vows of lovers." “Young man,” said Apelles, " thou art worthy to know, and thou shalt know this mystery, which my lips will then have disclosed to thee alone among men. Stratonice, daughter of Demetrius, and betrothed bride of Seleucus, filled Greece and Asia with the fame of her charms. Though age had already stolen away the vigour, and spoiled the form, of my limbs, my heart, still warm, glowed with passionate curiosity to behold this incomparable beauty. I set out secretly from Corinth, then the place of my abode; and after a journey which need not be detailed, reached Antioch, the royal city of Seleucus, on the very day of his marriage with this fairest princess of the age. I was fortunate in the time of my arrival, as it is only on occasions of grand solemnity that the usages of Asia permit their princesses to be publicly
The ceremonial began with a grand procession to the Temple of Apollo, led by the royal bridegroom, the bride, and the court. I joined the procession as it entered the temple, and placed myself behind a pillar, whence, unseen, I might behold Stratonice. The Princess, completely enveloped in a large veil, approached the statue of Apollo. Two priests, who stood one on either hand, gradually raised the veil, and discovered that form of celestial loveliness. Oh! my young friend, it is not in language to describe her. She seemed an immortal beauty bending and beaming before the image of Apollo, whilst the enamoured god returned the adoration which he received. As soon as I recovered from the trance of delight into which this vision threw my senses and my soul, I took out my pencil, and tried to sketch the heavenly idea. The ceremonial was repeated during three successive days, and each day I returned to my task-in vain. The evervarying play of the lines of beauty, and the light of soul upon her countenance, vanished from the touch of palpable delineation. For several days the image of Stratonice still haunted me, whilst every effort to fix it on the canvass failed. One day, at length, after a long reverie, my fancy warmed, my enthusiasm rose. I offered up a prayer to Venus, (for I reverence the gods and goddesses of Greece, young man,) the tutelar deity of beauty, to inspire and aid me. Was it reality, or imagination? I felt myself transported once more to the temple, and there the sea-born Venus herself appeared before me, in the form of Stratonice, not in the cumbrous splendor of her bridal robes, but clad only in her divinity, as just risen from the wave. I seized my pencil, and, with a touch of lightning, sketched the picture which is now before you. In a few days my work was finished. I loved it with the piety of a mortal towards the kindest daughter of Olympus, and the predilection of a father for the offspring of his old age. Anxious to produce it to the admiring eyes of Greece, I hastened to the nearest port, and went on board a vessel bound for Corinth. The weather was delightful, and the breeze fair. But after an hour passed upon the water, the sun having nearly reached the boundary of the west, a small black cloud obscured a portion of his orb. The sailors observed it with ominous silence. The cloud gradually expanded, until in a short time its size became prodigious, and involved the world in darkness. The land-wind, at the same time, blew a tremendous gale—all became terror and confusion. The thunder pealed above our heads. During a transient flash I seized and clasped my picture to my bosom, as a mother would clasp her child in a deluge or a conflagration. The sailors observed me: superstition and the presence of death are the most infatuated and relentless counsellors. A cry ran through the ship that the old man and his mysterious packet had brought upon them the Fengeance of the gods. They seized me, and had just dragged me to the verge of the vessel, to be flung into the waters, when suddenly, a happy inspiration—" Hold !” said I, " wait for the next flash it will be but a moment, and your lives are saved.” They released me. I instantly unrolled my picture, which was painted on the flexible canvass of Egypt, folded into a small compass. A propitious flash came, and revealed the beauteous image to their eyes. Behold," said I, “it is the celestial daughter of the waves—it is Venus, who can save you from the storm.” The crew and passengers all dropped down in wonder and adoration, with their faces on the ship's deck. On a sudden the Goddess heard their prayers, the wind abated of its fury, the black cloud that curtained Heaven from our sight was rent asunder, and the twin children of Leda shone forth with hope and joy to mariners. We landed at Corinth with a feeling of happiness, which may be easily conceived. On the morning of the next day, to my great surprise, I beheld a grand procession approaching my threshold. It was composed of the priests and priestesses of Venus, who came to congratulate me on the signal favour and familiarity which the Goddess had vouchsafed to me. It appeared that the ship's crew and passengers had solemnly declared the appearance of Venus in the midst of
the storm, to rescue from a watery grave the painter Apelles, whose cabinet she had visited in secret, in order to employ his favoured pencil in pourtraying her immortal charms.***** " To-morrow,” said Combabus, “I depart from Greece.” “ Whither in such sudden haste ?" said Apelles. "To Antioch," replied the young man, “to behold this paragon of beauty, Stratonice, this wonder of her sex."
Beware, my young friend,” said A pelles ; "you are now in the morning of life, whilst the senses are yet fervid and unworn. “My mind is resolved,"
said Combabus, "and thou, my friend, shalt give me letters of acquaintance to some friend of thine at Antioch." "I have but one friend there," said Apelles ; “it is Erasistratus, the nephew of my old friend Aristotle, and physician to the Queen. *****"
[We break off here for the present, but shall probably continue the adventure of Combabus and Stratonice in a future Number.]
OLD CHRISTMAS TIMES AT THE TEMPLE. We have not heart almost to touch upon the merry days that have been kept in our halls. We address not ourselves to the distant years when knighthood held gay and gallant reign within these borders, nor aught would we here fain know of those places, but as
the bricky towres, The which on Thames' brode aged back do ride,
Where now the studious lawyers have their bowres." Bowers indeed! but now forsaken of the good spirit that used to dwell therein. As to the old virtues of hospitality, social kindness, good-fellowship—this goodly pile of our's is but of yesterday; our benchers (patriarchal title !) have not a touch of antiquity. The fashion of their persons is contemporary with the notions of the least amongst
That they are of recent date, you have a probate in whatsoever they say—in whatsoever they do. Speak not to them of the Christmas of ancient days--the epic times of the Temple—the spring season for the affections of its young followers. They will not hear you upon the glories of the banqueting hour, nor in celebration of the reign of the mighty Prince of the time, or the ministry of Masters of Revells and Lords of Misrule; nor yet touching the history of the marvellous conversion of lawyers, benchers, and their mighty paramounts,” (who may not be lightly spoken of) into wilful abettors of the game of blindman's-buff, knowingly giving countenance, aid, and support to the practices of minstrels, jesters, and such like.* We had a parliament here in ancient times—a blessing of a legislature it was. The approach of Christmas always brought a full attendance, for then bills were brought
laid on the table (and no doubt much oratory spilt upon the occasion) for the due solemnization of the merry rites, time out of mind celebrated by their good predecessors. They were in earnest about the matter. Commend us to a corporation for the ordering of a feast. Straight were ministers appointed-straight were the hands of government strengthened—and all their resources produced, to meet the vast exigency of the timet.
• Dugdale, in his “Origines Juridiciales," has extracted from the Registers of the Temple an account of the manner of spending the Christmas there. But for & sprightly and picturesque description of the same scenes, we refer to the “ Accidence of Armoury," by Gerard Leigh.
+ The officers of all kinds were chosen in full Parliament, in Trinity-term, every year ; and the provisions which were contrived against crosses and contingencies, embody mucb rare practical wisdom.
But, by our Lady, it is the day, the long-expected day of rejoicing, and the tables are all set. Hark to that courageous blast - it is the grand procession with the first course. You see our great officers of state at the head. What a fantastic group would their quaint costume make of them, but for the glare of those torches borne in front! The constable marshal, for a follower of Minerva, really shews bravely in his mail of knighthood. But see, the tables have received their destined burden—the awful courtesies are over, and the rites begun. Now mark that dish of precedence, so reverently gazed upon by all—it is smoking beneath the "eyes intent" of that worthy "auncient” seated in the place of honour. That, Sir, is the boar's head soused-it is a storied dish, and there are secrets in its biography that may not be lightly told. It was among the temporalities that stuck longest to the mitre.* The second and third courses are served up with the same ceremony as the first. The tables being " avoided" after the banquet, "in fair and decent manner," after a due interval devoted“ not to toys, but wine," the " auncientest” Master of the Revels (always a fellow of infinite jest) adventured, as by office bound, even upon a carol suited to the occasion; and having to the extent of his good voice diligently performed the same, had the right, in virtue of the dangerous service, to claim a carol from one of the company, who likewise nominated his successor. And thus the laughing hours passed by, until the clamorous blast proclaimed that the Master of the Revels began his reign. But of the delights of those moments, ere that blast was heard, who shall speak? The circle of elders that you see grouped about that tablewbat a communion of high spirits is there!-what intelligence -- what a tone of mind are expressed in that brilliant period !--what a war of wit is lighted up amongst them !--how they smite each other with their airy brands ! But hear the wild laugh from the young group beneath them; these are the known patrons of every freak--the open professors of mischief-the very children of Misrule in conspiracy against the peace of every sober subject of his Mightiness, the great paramount of the time. But the Master of the Revels is on the floor with his train-band of jesters and mummers. We will invoke them even in the words of old Chaucer, as worthy a member of our Inn as has been seen since his day :
“Doe come, my mynstreles
Anon in my armyage,
And eke of love-longynge."
The boar's head is, we believe, still served up on Christmas-day at Queen's College, Oxford, with ancient pomp and circumstance.
+ The ceremonial after supper was, perhaps, the most interesting of any. The tables were taken up, and the Prince took his station under the place of honour, where his achievement was beautifully embroidered, and advised well of sundry matters with the ambassadors of foreign nations. There he was attended in true Oriental style. His Highness distributed bonours by the hands of his great officers with regal liberality.
A learned gentleman of those days was no Sir Oracle, that would a "s wilful stillness ” affect,
“And with his gown his gravity maintain.” The morality of the time was so ordered as that a man might be thought good for something, although he had his teeth ; nor was it laid down that to be sound of limb was good evidence of infirmity of mind. And thus it was, that the barrister of that golden age was enabled to pass through the disastrous chances and hair-breadth 'scapes of the Christmas festival with applause ; nor was it a punishable offence
“ That he could play, and daunce, and vault, and spring,
And all that else pertains to revelling." But these virtuous days have passed away, and with them the glory, and the pride, and the honour of the Temple have fled
“Oh! all is gone; and all that goodly glee
Which wont to be the glory of gay wits,
Is laid a-bed.” And the wisdom of modern days puts its ban upon such unprofitable doings. A man must be of a serious turn, according to law, now-adays, or he may expect the peace-officers after him. You talk of superstition, and point to the ritual of Popery. “ You would bate me of balf my merriment out of spite to the scarlet lady," says Selden, (and we cite the learned authority with deep professional reverence). “ There never was a merry world since the fairies left dancing, and the parson left conjuring.” We go not the whole extent of this opinion ; but we own we would consent to undertake a reasonable penance at the discretion of the minister—we would not grumble at a practicable fair length of pilgrimage--nay, we would even tender our respects to a fair wooden representative of a grim Saint, if by such concessions we could bring back the days and nights of Old Christmas-time at the Temple.
A Few TEMPLARS.
TO A FRIEND.
HENRY, my friend! thou gazest on mine
Those once so bright, appear so joyless now?-
Sheds on thy cheek a love-like brilliancy-
More dark than ere his rays illumined thee.
Too warm for woe, too radiant for regret;
But now they shine no more—my sun is set !