The Palmy Days of Nance Oldfield eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 278 pages of information about The Palmy Days of Nance Oldfield.

  “Hail to the sun! from whose returning light
  The cheerful soldier’s arms new lustre take
  To deck the pomp of battle.”

Playwrights of Rowe’s cult loved to hail the sun.  Just why the orb of day had to be saluted with such frequency no one seemed able to determine, but the honour was continually bestowed, to the great edification of the groundlings.  When Young wrote “Busiris,” he paid so much attention to old Sol that Fielding burlesqued the learned doctor’s weakness through the medium of “Tom Thumb,” and wrote that “the author of ‘Busiris’ is extremely anxious to prevent the sun’s blushing at any indecent object; and, therefore, on all such occasions, he addresses himself to the sun, and desires him to keep out of the way.”

After the Prince of Tanais’s homage to the sun we hear something fulsome about the virtues of King William, alias Tamerlane: 

  “No lust of rule, the common vice of Kings,
  No furious zeal, inspir’d by hot-brain’d priests,
  Ill hid beneath religion’s specious name,
  E’er drew his temp’rate courage to the field: 
  But to redress an injur’d people’s wrongs,
  To save the weak one from the strong oppressor,
  Is all his end of war.  And when he draws
  The sword to punish, like relenting Heav’n,
  He seems unwilling to deface his kind.”

A few lines later and we find one of the characters drawing a parallel between Tamerlane, otherwise William, and Divinity: 

  “Ere the mid-hour of night, from tent to tent,
  Unweary’d, thro’ the num’rous host he past,
  Viewing with careful eyes each several quarters;
  Whilst from his looks, as from Divinity,
  The soldiers took presage, and cry’d, Lead on,
  Great Alha, and our emperor, lead on,
  To victory, and everlasting fame.”

How changeth the spirit of each age!  Imagine Bronson Howard or Augustus Thomas writing a play wherein the President of the United States was brought into such irreverent contact with the Deity.[A]

[Footnote A:  Yet it cannot be easily forgotten that a certain clergyman, preaching, several years ago, at the funeral of a rich man’s son, compared the poor boy to Christ.  And this very ecclesiastic probably looks upon the stage as a monument of sacrilegiousness.]

But we need not follow the platitudes of Tamerlane and his companions, nor weep at the sententious wickedness of Bajazet, that ungrateful sovereign typifying Louis Quatorze, King of France, Prince of Gentlemen, and Right Royal Hater of His Protestant Majesty William of Orange.  Heaven rest their souls! and with that pious prayer we may bid them farewell, as

  “Into the night go one and all.”



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The Palmy Days of Nance Oldfield from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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