Page images
PDF
EPUB

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.

STEEVENS.

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 Jived 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, be 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 Rome, 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.

" A woman that is like a German clock,"— Act III, Sc. I. In a book called The Artificial Clockmaker, 1714, we find the following remarks: “ Clock-making was supposed to have had its beginning in Germany within less than these two hundred years. It is very probable that our balance clocks or watches, and some other automata, might have had their beginning there." Little worth remark is to be found till towards the 16th century, and then clock-work was revived or wholly invented anew in Germany, as is generally thought, because the ancient pieces are of German work. The mechanism of these clocks was extremely complicated, and consequently they frequently wanted repairing.

STEEVENS. where is the bush That we must stand and play the murderer in."

Act IV. Sc. 1. How familiar the amusement of deer-shooting once was to ladies of quality, may be known from a letter addressed by Lord Wharton to the earl of Shrewsbury, dated from Alnewick, Aug. 14, 1555. “I besiche yor lordeshipp to tay ke some sporte of my litell grounde there, and to command the same even as yor lordshippes owne. My ladye may shote with her cross bowe," &c.-STEEVENS.

Here, good my glass."— Act IV. Sc. 1. To understand how the princess has her glass so ready at hand in a common conversation, it must be remembered, that in those days it was the fashion among the French ladies to wear a looking glass, as Bayle coarsely represents it, on their bellies; that is, to have a small mirror set in gold hanging at their girdle, by which they occasionally viewed their faces, or adjusted their hair.- Joinson. But, sir, I assure ye, it was a buck of the first head,

't was a pricket."-Act IV. Sc. 2. In the Return from Parnassus, 1606, we find the following account of the different appellations of deer, at their different ages :-"I caused the keeper to sever the rascal deer from the bucks of the first heail. Now, sir, a buck is, the first year, a fawn; the second year, a pricket; the third year, a sorrell; the fourth year, a soare ; the fifth, a buck of the first head ; the sixth year, a compleate buck. Likewise your hart is, the first year, a calf; the second year, a brochet; the third year, a spade ; the fourth year, a stag; the sixth year, a hart. A roebuck is, the first year, a kid; the second year, a gird; the third year, a hemuse; and these are your special beasts for chase."-STEEVENS.

He comes in like a perjure.”—Act IV. Sc. 3. Perjury was punished by affixing a paper to the breast, expressing the crime. Holinshed says of Wolsey, “ He so punished a perjurie with open punishment, and open papers wearing, that in his time it was less used." Again, in Leicester's Commonwealth :-" The gentlemen were all taken and cast into prison, and afterwards were set down to Ludlow, there to wear papers of perjury."-STEEVENS.

Like Muscovites, or Russians, as I guess."— Act V. Sc. 2. A mask of Muscoviles was no uncommon recreation at court, long before Shakspeare's time. In the first year of King Henry VIII, at a banquet made for the foreign ambassadors in the parliament chamber at Westminster:~"came the lorde Henry, earle of Wiltshire, and the lorde Fitzwater, in twoo long gounes of yellowe satin traversed with white satin, and in every ben of white was a bend of crimson satin, after the fashion of Russia or Ruslande, with furred hattes of grey on their hedes, either of them havyng an hatchet in their handes, and bootes with pykes turned up." Hall's Henry VIII.—RITSON.

Better wils have worn plain statute-caps.Act V. Sc. 2. Woollen-caps were enjoined by act of parliament, in the year 1571, the 15th of Queen Elizabeth. “ Besides the bills passed into acts this parliament, there was one which I judge not amiss to be taken notice of: it concerned the queen's care for employment for her poor sorts of subjects. It was for continuance of making and wearing woollen-caps, in behalfe of the trade of cappers; providing that all above the age of six yeares (except the nobility and some others) should, on sabbath-days and holy-days, wear caps of wool, knit, thicked, and dressed in England, upon penalty of ten groats."-STRYPE's ANNALS OF ELIZABETH.

Lord have mercy on us !"— Act V. Sc. 2. This was the inscription put on the doors of houses infected with the plague. So in Sir Thomas Overbury's Characters, 1632:—“ Lord have mercy on us may well stand over their doors, for debt is a most dangerous city pestilence."-JOHNSON.

And if these four worthies in their first show thrive,
These four will change habits, and present the other five."

Act V. Sc. 2. Shakspeare here alludes to the shifts to which the actors were reduced in the old theatres, one person often performing two or three parts.

MALONE. “ Some Dick."-Act V. Sc. 2. Out-roaring Dick was a celebrated singer, who with William Wimbars, is said by Henry Chettle, in his Kind Harts Dreame, to have got twenty shillings a day by singing, at Braintree fair, in Essex.—MALONE.

Pageant of the nine worthies."-Act V. Sc. 2. Among the Harleian MSS. we find the following: - • The order of Showe intended to be made, Aug. 1, 1621. First, Two woodmen, &c., St. George fighting with the Dragon. The nine Worthies in complete armor with crounes of gould on their heads, every one having his esquires to beare before him his shield and penon of armes, dressed according as these lords were accustomed to be, 3 Assa ralits, 3 Infidels, 3 Christians. After them, a Fame, to declare the rare virtues and noble deedes of the 9 worthye women."-STEEVENS.

" It was enjoined in Rome for want of linen."-Act V. Sc. 2. A Spaniard fell in a duel. As he lay expiring, a friend approached, and offered his services. The dying man made but one request, which was, not to suffer his body to be stript, but to bury him in the habit he had on.

The friend promised compliance, the Spaniard expired in peace; but curiosity prevailed over good faith; the body was stript, and found to be wilhout a shirt.- WARBURTON.

VOL. I. -47

She discourses, she carves, she gives the leer of invitation."

Act I. Sc. 3. Anciently, the young of both sexes were instructed in carving, as a necessary accomplishment. It seems to have been considered a mark of kindness when a lady carved to a gentleman. So in Vittoria Corom. bona : “ Your husband is wondrous discontented. I did nothing to displease him; I carved to him at supper-time."-STEEvENs and Bos WELL

- for gourd and fullam holds, And high and low beguile the rich and poor.”—Act l, Sc. 3. Gourds were, probably, dice in which a secret cavity had been made; Fullams (so called because chiefly made at Fulham) those which had been loaded with a small bit of lead. High men and low men, which are also cant terms, explain themselves. High numbers on the dice, at hazard, are from five to twelve inclusive; low, from aces to four.

MALONE “ Flemish drunkard.—Act II. Sc. I. It is not without cause that this reproachful phrase is used. Sir John Smythe, in Certain Discourses, 4to., 1590, says, that the habit of drinking to excess was introduced into England from the Low Countries, - by some of our such men of warre within these verie few years: whereoi it is come to passe that now-a-dayes there are very few feastes where our said men of warre are present, but they do invite and procure all the companie, of what calling soever they be, to carowsing and quafing: and because they will not be denied their challenges, they, with manie new conges, ceremonies, and reverences, drinke to the healthe and prosperitie of princes; to the healthe of counsellors, and unto the healthe of their greatest friends, both at home and abroad: in which exercise they never cease till they be deade drunke, or, as the Flemings say, doo! dronken.” He adds, "and this aforesaid detestable vice hath, within these six or seven years, taken wonderful roote amongst our English nation, that in times past was wont to be of all other nations in Christendome one of the soberest."-REED.

My long sword.”—Act II. Sc. 1. Before the introduction of rapiers, the swords in use were of an enor. mous length, and sometimes raised with both hands. Shallow, with an old man's vanity, censures the innovation by which lighter weapons were introduced, tells what he could once have done with his long sioord, and ridicules the terms and rules of the rapier. Shakspeare commits a great anachronism in making Shallow talk of the rapier in Henry IV.'s reign, a hundred and seventy years before it was used in England.—JOHNSOX. “ When Mistress Bridget lost the handle of her fan.”—Act II. Sc. 2.

It should be remembered that fans, in our author's time, were more costly than they are at present, as well as of a different construction. They consisted of ostrich feathers (or others of equal length and flesibility), which were stuck into handles. The richer sort of these were composed of gold, silver, or ivory, of curious workmanship, and frequently ornamented with precious stones. Mention is made in the Sydney Papers, of a fan presented to Queen Elizabeth, for a new year's giit, the handle of which was studded with diamonds. It was not uncommon among the foppish young noblemen of that age, to carry fans of this splendid description; a singular piece of effeminacy for that early period.

STEEVENS, &c.

Red lattice phrases."-Act II. Sc. 2. Red lattice at the doors and windows were formerly the external de. notements of an ale-house. Hence the present chequers. In one of Shackerley Marmion's plays we read, “ a waterman's widow at the signe of the Red Lattice in Southwark.” It is a curious circumstance, that the sign of the Chequers was common among the Romans. It was found in several of the streets excavated at Pompeii.--STEEVENS.

* Amaimon Barbason.”—Act II. Sc. 2. Reginald Scott informs us, that “the demon Amaimon, was king of the East, and Barbatos a great countie or earle." Randle Holme, however, in his Academy of Armory and Blazon, tells us that, “ Amaymon is the chief whose dominion is on the north side of the infernal gulph; and that Barbatos is like a Sagittarius, and hath thirty legions under him.”

STEEVENS. Thal becomes the ship-lire, the tire-valiant, or any tire of Venetian admillance."-Act III. Sc. 3.

The extravagance of female dress is here satirized. We shall give an extract or two on this subject from contemporary authors :

" Their heads, with their top and top-gallant curlings, they make a plain puppet-stage of lawne baby caps, and snow-resembled silver. Their breasts they embushe up on hie, and their round roseate buds they immodestly lay forth, to show at their hands there is fruit to be hoped.” Nashe's Christ's Teares, 1594. — “Oh, what a wonder it is to see a ship under saile with her tacklings and her masts, and her tops and her top-gallants, with her upper decks and nether decks, and so bedeckt, with her streamers, flags, and ensignes, and I know not what; yea, but a world of wonders it is to see a woman created in God's image, so miscreate oft times and deformed with her French, her Spanish, and her foolish fashions, that he who made her, when he looks upon her, shall hardly know her with her plumes, her fans, and her silken vizard, with a ruffe like a saile ; yea, a ruffe like a rainbow, with a feather in her cap, like a fag in her top, to tell (I thinke) which way the wind will blow. It is proverbially said, that far-fetcht and dear-bought is fittest for ladies; as now-adaies what groweth at home is base and homely; and what everie one eates is meate for dogs; and wee must have breade from one countrie, and drinke from another; and wee must have meate from Spaine, and sauce out of Italy; and if wee weare anything, it must be pure Venetian, Roman, or barbarian; but the fashion of all must be French.” The Merchant Royall, a sermon preached at White-ball, before the king's majestie, at the nuptialls of Lord Hay and his lady, Twelfth-day, 1607.

REED. “And smell like Bucklersbury, in simple time."-Act III. Sc. 3. Bucklersbury, in the time of Shakspeare, was chiefly inhabited by druggists, who sold all kinds of herbs, green as well as dry.-STEEVENS.

Let the sky rain potatoes; hail kissing comfits, and snow eringoes ; let there come a tempest of provocation.”—Act V. Sc. 5.

Potatoes, when they were first introduced in England, were supposed to be strong provocatives; kissing-comforts were sugar-plums, perfumed to make the breath sweet. Eringoes, like potatoes, were esteemed to be stimulatives. But Shakspeare, probably, had the following artificial tempest in his thoughts, when he wrote the above passage. Holinshed informs us, that in the year 1583, for the entertainment of Prince Alasco, was performed "a verie statelie tragedie, named Dido, wherein the

« PreviousContinue »