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“And he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder, and called Adam." -Act I, Sc. 1.
Why should he be called Adam? A quotation or two may explain : In Law Tricks, or, Who Would Have Thought It? we find this speech: “Adam Bell, a substantial outlaw, and a passing good archer, yet no tobacconist." Adam Bell, Clyme of the Cloughe, and Wyllyam of Cloudesle, were, says Dr. Percy, three noted outlaws, whose skill in archery rendered them as famous in the north of England, as Robin Hood and his fellows were in the midland counties.
STEEVENS and THEOBALD. "If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat."—Act I. Sc. 1. In some counties of England, a cat was formerly closed up with a quantity of soot in a wooden bottle, (such as that in which shepherds carry their liquor) and was suspended on a line. He who beat out the bottom as he ran under it, and was nimble enough to escape its contents, was regarded as the hero of this inhuman diversion.-STEEVENS.
Smoking a musty room."-Act I. Sc. 3. The neglect of cleanliness among our ancestors rendered such precautions too often necessary. In a paper of directions drawn up by Sir John Pickering's steward, relative to Suffolk Place, before Elizabeth's visits to it in 1594, the fifteenth article is, “ The swelynynge of the house in all places by any meanes." Again, in Burton's Anatomie of Melancholie, 1632: “The smoake of juniper is in great request with us at Oxford, to sweeten our chambers."-STEEVENS.
“ Hundred merry tales.”—Act II. Sc. I. In the London Chaunticleres, 1659, this work, among others, is cried for sale by a ballad man: “ The Seven Wise Men of Gotham; a Hundred Merry Tales ; Scoggin's Jests, &c.” Of this collection there are frequent entries in the register of the Stationers' Company.—STEEVENS.
“ Carving the fashion of a new doublet.”—Act II. Sc. 3. “ We are almost as fantastic as the English gentleman, that is painted naked, with a paire of sheares in his hand, as not being resolved after what fashion to have his coat cut."-GREENE'S FAREWELL TO FOLLY, 1617.
“ Her hair shall be of what colour it please God.”—Act II. Sc. 3. The practice of dying the hair was so common a fashion in Elizabeth's reign, as to be thought a fit subject of animadversion from the pulpit. In a homily against gaudy apparel, 1547, the preacher breaks out into the following invective: --"Who can paynt her face, and curle her heere, and change it into an unnatural colour, but therein doth work reprofe to her Maker, who made her ? as thoughe she could make herselfe more comelye than God hath appointed the measure of her beautie. What do these women, but go about to reforme that which God hath made ? not knowinge that all things naturall is the worke of God; and thynges disguysed and unnaturall be the workes of the devyll.”-REED.
" Press me lo death."-Act III. Sc. 1. The allusion is to an ancient punishment of our law, called peine.fort et dure, which was formerly intricted on those persons who, being indicted, refused to plead. In consequence of their silence, they were pressed to death by a heavy weight laid on the stomach.-MALONE.
" Or in the shape of two countries at once.”—Act III. Sc. 2. “ For an Englishman's suit is like a traitor's bodie that hath been hanged, drawne, and quartered, and is set up in several places; his cod. piece is in Denmarke, the collor of his dublet and the belly in France, the wing and narrow sleeve in Italy, the short waste hangs o'er a Dutch botcher's stall in Utrich, his huge sloppes speaks Spanish; Polonia gires him the bootes, and thus we mocke eurie nation for keeping one fashion, yet steale patches from eurie one of them, to peece out our pride, and are now laughing-stocks to them,
because their cut so scurvily becomes ns.
SEVEN DEADLIE SINNES of Londox, 1606. “ Have a care that your bills be nol stolen."—Act III. Sc. 3. A bill is still carried by the watchmen at Lichfield. It was the old weapon of the English infantry, which, says Temple, gave the most ghastly and deplorable wounds.”—Johnson.
“ Side-sleeves." —Act III, Sc. 4. “ This time was used exceeding pride in garments, gowns with deepe and broad sleeves, commonly called poke sleeves; the servants ware them as well as their masters, which might well have been called the receptacles of the devil, for what they stole they hid in their sieeres, whereof some hung downe to the feete, and at least to the knees, full of cuts and jagges, whereupon were made these verses (by Tho. Hoc cleve):”—
“Now hath this lande little neede of broomes,
To sweepe away the filthe out of the streete;
Srow's CHRONICLE “ He wears a key in his ear, and a lock hanging by it."
Act V. Sc. l. In Shakspeare's age, fashionable persons of the male sex wore earrings; there was also a silly custom of wearing a single lock of hair preposterously long, which was called a love-lock. Fynes Moryson, in his account of Lord Montjoy's dress, says, “That his haire was thinne on the heade, where he wore it short, except a locke under his left ear, which he nourished the time of the warre, and being woven up, hid it in bis necke under his ruffe.” When he was not on service, he probably wore it in a different fashion. The portrait of Sir Edward Sackville, Earl of Dorset, painted by Vandyke, exhibits this lock, with a large knotted riba band at the end of it: it hangs under the ear on the left side, and reaches as low as where the star is now worn by knights of the garter.
MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
“ Your eyes are lode-stars." — Act I. Sc. 1. This was a compliment not unfrequent among the old poets. The lode-star is the leading or guiding-star, that is, the pole-star. The magnet is for the same reason called the lode-stone, either because it leads iron, or because it guides the sailor.—Johnson.
“ Gawds."--Act I. Sc. 1. In the north, a gawd is a child's plaything, and a baby-house is called a gawdy-house.
“Or to her death; according to our law.”—Act I. Sc. 1. By a law of Solon’s, parents had an absolute power of life and death over their children.
“Robin Goodfellow."-Act II. Sc. 1. “ Your grandame's maids were wont to set a bowl of milk for him, for his pains in grinding malt and mustard, and sweeping the house at midnight; this white bread and bread and milk was his standing-fee.”
DISCOVERIE OF WITCHCRAFT, 1584.
“ Puck."-Act II. Sc. 1. In the Fairy Mythology, Puck, or Hobgoblin, was the trusty servant of Oberon, and always employed to watch or detect the intrigues of Queen Mab. Mab has an amour with Pigwiggen: Oberon being jealous, sends Puck to catch them, and one of Mab's nymphs opposes him by a spell. In Drayton's Nymphidia, we find a close resemblance to much of the fairy machinery employed by Shakspeare in this play.—JOHNSON.
“ In maiden meditation fancy free.”—Act II. Sc. 2. Thus in Queen Elizabeth's Entertainment in Suffolke and Norfolke, written by Churchyard, Chastity deprives Cupid of his bow, and presents it to her majesty: — "and bycause that the queene had chosen the best life, she gave the queene Cupid's bow, to learne to shoote at whome she pleased; since none could wound her highnesse hart, it was meete (said Chastitie) that she should do with Cupid's bowe and arrowes what she pleased."-STEEVENS. “ God shield us! a lion among ladies is a most dreadful thing."
Act III. Sc. 1. There is an odd coincidence between what our author has here written for Bottom, and a real occurrence at the Scottish court, in 1594.-Prince Henry, the eldest son of James I., was christened in August in that year. While the king and queen were at dinner, a triumphal chariot, with several allegorical personages on it, was drawne in by “a black-moore. This chariot should have been drawne in by a lyon, but because his presence might have brought some feare to the nearest, or that the sight of the lighted torches might have commoved his tameness, it was thought meete that the Moore should supply that room.”-A true Account of the most triumphal and royal Accomplishment of the Baptism of the most excellent right high, and mighty Prince, Henry Frederick, &c., as it was solemnized, the 30th of August, 1594. 8vo. 1603.–Malone.
“Of hind'ring knot-grass made.”—Act III. Sc. 2. It appears that knot-grass was anciently supposed to prevent the growth of any animal or child. Beaumont and Fletcher mention this property of it in the Knight of the Burning Pestle:-“Should they put him into a straight pair of gaskins, 't were worse than knot-grass ; he would never grow after it.”-STEEVENS.
“Thou painted may-pole."-Act III. Sc. 2. So in Stubbe's Anatomie of Abuses, 1583 :—" But their chiefest iewell thei bryng from thence is their Maie-pole, whiche thei bryng home with great veneration, as thus:— Thei have twentie or fourtie yoke of oxen, everie oxe hauyng a sweete nosegaie of flowers placed on the tippes of his hornes; and these oxen drawe home this Maie-pole (this stinckyng idol rather), whiche is couered all ouer with flowers and hearbes, bounde rounde aboute with strynges, from the top to the bottome, and some tyme painted with variable colours.”—STEEVENS.
“ Two of the first, like coats in heraldry,
Act III. Sc. 2. In heraldry, every branch of a family is called a house, and done but the first of the first house can bear the arms of the family without some distinction. Two of the first, therefore, means two coats of the first house, which are properly due but to one.—Mason.
“ The rite of May."-Act. IV. Sc. 1. The rite of this month was once so universally observed, that even authors thought their works would obtain a more favourable reception, if published on May-day. The following is the title-page to a metrical performance by a once celebrated poet, 'Thomas Churchyard :
“Come bring in Maye with me,
My Maye is fresh and greene;
To serue a mayden queene.” “ A Discourse of Rebellion, drawne forthe for to warne the wanton wittes how to kepe their heads on their shoulders. Imprinted at London, in Flete-street, by William Griffith, Anno Domini, 1570. The first of Maye.”-STEEVENS.
“ The tongs."—Act IV. Sc. 1. The old rustic music of the tongs and key. The folio has this stage direction :-" Musicke tongs, Rurall Musicke."-STEEVENS.
“ Dian's bud, o'er Cupid's flower."-Act IV. Sc. 1. Dian's bud is the bud of the agnus castus, or chaste tree. Thus in Macer's Herball, “ The vertue of this herbe is, that he wyll keepe man and woman chaste. Cupid's flower is the viola tricolor, or love in idleness.”-STEEVENS.
“Good strings to your beards."—Act IV. Sc. 2. As no false beard could be worn without a ligature to fasten it on, Bot. tom's caution must mean more than the mere security of his comrade's beards. The good strings he recommends, were probably ornamental, and employed to give an air of novelty to the countenance of the performers. Thus, in Measure for Measure (where the natural beard is spoken of), the duke, intent on disfiguring the head of Ragozine, ays, “0, death's a great disguiser; and you may add to it. Shave the head, and tie the beard."-STEEVENS.
“ To the best bride-bed will we,
Which by us shall blessed be.”—Act V. Sc. 2. We learn from articles ordained by Henry VIII. for the regulation of his household, that the ceremony of blessing the bridal-bed was thus observed at the marriage of a princess : “All men at her coming in to bee voided, except woemen, till shee bee brought to her bedd ; and the man both, he sitting in his bedd in his shirte, with a gowne cast about him. Then the bishoppe, with the chaplaines, to come in and bless the bedd; then everie man to avoide without any drinke, save the twoe estates if they liste, privilie.” A similar ceremony was performed at all marriages in that age.-STEEVENS.
“ Hare-lip."—Act V. Sc. 2. This defect in children seems to have been so much dreaded, that numerous were the charms applied for its prevention. The following might be as efficacious as any of the rest : — “If a woman with chylde have her smocke slyt at the neather ende or skyrt thereof, &c., the same chylde that she then goeth withall, shall be safe from having a cloven or hare-lippe.” Thomas Lupton's Fourth Book of Notable Things.
LOVE'S LABOUR’S LOST.
“ The dancing horse.”—Act I. Sc. 2. A horse taught by one Bankes, to play many singular tricks. Sir Walter Raleigh, in his History of the World, says: “If Bankes had lived in older times, he would have shamed all the enchanters in the world : for whosoever was most famous amongst them could never master or instruct any beast as he did his horse.” And Sir Kenelm Digby observes, “ That this horse would restore a glove to the due owner, after the master had whispered the man's name in his ear; would tell the just number of pence in any piece of silver coin newly showed him by his master; and even obey presently his command, in discharging himself of his excrements, whensoever he had bade him." Among other exploits of this celebrated beast, it is said, that he went up to the top of St. Paul's. His end and his master's was tragical: Travelling in France, Bankes excited the anger of the priests, and only escaped its effects in the manner following:—“Bankes came into suspition of magicke, because of the strange feates which his horse Morocco plaied at Orleance; where he, to redeem his credit, promised to manifest to the world that his horse was nothing lesse than a devill. To this end, he commanded his horse to seeke out one in the preasse of the people who had a crucifix in his hat; which done, he bade him kneele down unto it; and not this only, but also to rise up againe, and kisse it. And now, gentlemen (quoth he), I thinke my horse hath acquitted both me and himselfe; and so his adversaries rested satisfied; conceiving (as it might seeme) that the divell had no power to come neare the crosse.” In Italy, however, they were less fortunate, since at Romne, to the disgrace of the age, of the country, and of humanity, they were burnt, by order of the pope, for magicians.
“ The hobby-horse is forgot."-Act III. Sc. 1. In the celebration of May-day, besides the sports now used of hanging a pole with garlands, and dancing round it, formerly a boy was dressed up, representing Maid Marian; another like a friar; and another rode on a hobby-horse, with bells jingling and painted streamers. After the Reformation took place, and precisions multiplied, these latter rites were looked upon to savour of paganism, and Maid Marian, the friar, and the poor hobby-horse, were turned out of the games.—THEOBALD.