THE COLLOQUIES OF EDWARD OSBORNE..
OF the various attempts at delineating the manners and opinions of the Stuart and Elizabethan times as if from the pen of a con- temporary writer, Edward Osborne is the best. It has what the others have wanted, an actual story; it plunges its hero more completely into the business and life of the period' and not unskil- fully mingles public events with private affairs. The imitation of the diction is sufficient for relief, though not above critical challenge • and if the manner wants the freshness of the first books of this class, there is more substance in Edward Osborne than in its precursors.
The basis of the story is a supposed incident in the life of the founder of the ducal house of Leeds. According to the legend, young Osborne was apprenticed to a citizen and mercer on old London Bridge. A careless maid-servant, dancing her master's daughter at a window, allowed her to drop into the Thames. The child was saved by tie 'prentice ; and in after years, the grateful father, then Sir Thomas Hewitt, bestowed the hand of his daughter and heiress on her preserver, although the young lady, or her for- tune, was sought for by many gallants of the court.
This anecdote is well expanded in the tale before us : the slight changes are artistically adapted, and the filling-in is consistent with nature and contemporary manners, and, what is more for the general reader, very agreeably told. The story proper is also va- ried by the chief historical features of the age. The tale opens 'with the reign of Edward the Sixth ; and we see the exultation of the Reformers in their new religious freedom pushed to an inter- ference with the religious liberty of others. Edward dies ; the in- terlude of poor Lady Jane Grey succeeds, followed by the triumph of Mary, in spite of ill-judged attempts at insurrection ; all which Osborne has an opportunity of observing closely, because his master is Sheriff. Time rolls on ; the persecution begins ; and in addition to several well-known martyrs, who are introduced in passing, there is a journeyman in Osborne's employ who suffers for conscience' sake, and whose story is exceedingly, well told. The volume, which is written in the autobiographical form usual with these fashionable imitations, concludes with the courtship and marriage of Edward Osborne and Anne Hewitt.
One secret of the author's success is that the scenes and man- ners of the Tudor age are interwoven with the narrative, or when they are merely introduced they are not overdone. The following
• The Colloquies of Edward Osborne, Citizen and Clothworker, of London. As tePorted by ye Authour of "-Mary Powell." Published by Hall and Virtue.
is the opening picture of Southwark and "old London Bridge," seen when the widowed Hrs. Osborne is bringing her son to Lon- don, to bind him to his father's old friend.
"We left the old grey horse at the Tabard, and set forth a-foot, my mother and me for London Bridge ; I looking right and left for a glimpse of the great inroad river. But no water could we see ; and the ways were thronged with men, horses carts, wagons, flocks of sheep, and droves of oxen, pressing along between stalls set out with all manner of cates. Anon we come to a big gateway, with its portcullis-teeth grinning over our heads ; and a-top of this gateway, that was flanked with turrets, and spanned the road, were what looked like ever so many plum-puddings prickt on spits, leaning this way and that ; but my mother shuddered when she saw them, and told me they were traitors' heads. But between us and this gateway lay a draw- bridge, the which, as we crossed, gave us a glimpse of the broad Thames, all a-blaze in the sun. I pluckt at my mother's sleeve, without speaking; and we looked over the parapet, and could see boats ducking and diving under a row of houses right across the river, some of 'em six stories high, with bal- conies and projecting gables, looking ready to topple into the water, that rushed onward with tremendous force, eddying and foaming among the arches. Then I noted at the foot of each pier, strange projections of timber-work ; and askt my mother what they were ; and she could not tell me. But a man that overheard me said they were called starlings, and were strong piles of wood driven into the bed of the river. Also he told me the bridge was sixty feet above the water, and that its founder, Peter of Cole- church, lay y-buried in the chapel on the bridge,' and more he would have added but for the interposure of my mother, who said, 'Come, child, we linger,' and drew me 'away. Then we passed under the gateway, which was also a kind of guard-house, and toll-gate; and, quod she, Now thou art on Lon- don Bridge.' But I should never have found it out ; for to all seeming, we were in midst of an ill-paved, exceeding narrow street only some twelve feet across, with frippery-shops, and such like, on either side. A great o'erloaded wagon that went first, cleared the way for us, filling the space all across; but anon it meeteth another wagon, even higher than itself, with a terrier barking a.top; and, the one essaying to pass the other, their head- gear got entangled in the outworks of the upper stories of two opposite houses ; and I saw the terrier jump into an attick window, and presently run forth of the shop below. Then the wagoners &ode and reviled, for one of 'em must needs back off the bridge, and some sheep and oxen were coming up behind ; and the foot-passengers jostled and jibed, and shopkeepers looked forth of their doors, and wives and maids from their lattices, and swarms of quick- eyed, mischievous-favoured lads peered forth of every bulk ; and my mother cried, Oh! weary on them ! we may bide here all night . . . when, look- ing hard on the shop to our left, she sayth, Why, here's the Golden Fleece!
Here Here is the stirring incident of the tale. -
"I had pulled off my warm blue gown to cool myself, and went bite the kitchen with it hanging on my arm. Leaning forth of the lattice, according unto her wont, was 'Fib, a-parleying with the next-door servant ; and with her left arm cast about the waist of mistress Anne, who sate on the window- sill with her back to the river. On seeing me come in the little maiden clapped her hands ; which startling Tib, who supposed' herself caught by Mistress Fraunees, she maketh no more ado, but turns short round in a flurry., giving a lurch with her left arm that cast the pretty innocent head- long into the river. I remember 'Fib squealed; but without a second thought I dropped my gown that so luckily was of4 and took a leap that was clean sixty feet into the river, without so much as a thought what I should do when I got there. I remember the blow the water gave my head, and what a way I went down, and how I' bobbed up again, as Providence would have it, with the dear little fondling within arm's length of me, drifting towards the fall beyond the arch. I clutched at her by the pretty waist, just as the eddy was going to suck her in, and striking out once or twice with the other arm, though the rapids were bearing me down horribly, found myself the next minute a-clinging on to th'e sterling, without power to climb up it, so spent was I, and feeling as if I must lose hold of little Anne after all ! I wot not how much of the noise I then seemed to hear was the water singing in mine ears, and the uproar of the falls ; howbeit, there were people hallooing above and around, and my plaster's voice atop of all, from the parlour-win-
dow, overhead, crying, on, Ned„ for thy life! we'll save you, my brave boy ! Cling to him, Anne, if he can't cling to thee
"And, before this, there had been a roar, as if through a speaking-trumpet, of 'Boat ahoy !' and I heard oars plashing fast, though I could not spare strength to turn my head to see how near help was. 'Then a rough kindly hand laid hold of me from behind ; and finding I had no power to help my- self, the waterman took me under the arms, and lifted me clean into the boat, with the dear little girl hanging about my neck. Oh, what a cheer there was ! I heard it then, I hear it now : it came from around and from above, as if God's angels were hovering over us. We were rowed swiftly to the landing, where there was a press of people that mutely fell back to make way for Master Hewet, as he ran down the stairs. For he was greatly loved along the bridge. He would have caught little Anne from me : but I could neither speak nor let her go ; and he sayth, 'So best!'"