Page images
PDF
EPUB

a boy was dressed up representing Maid Marian; another like a friar; and another rode on a hobbyhorse, with bells jingling, and painted streamers. After the Reformation took place, and precisians multiplied, these latter rites were looked upon to savour of paganismı; and then maid Marian, the friar, and the poor hobby-horse, were turned out of the games. Some who were not so wisely precise, but regretted the disuse of the hobby-horse, no doubt, satirized this suspicion of idolatry, and archly wrote the epitaph above alluded to. Now Moth, hearing Armado groan ridiculously, and cry out, But oh! but oh lhumourously pieces out his exclamation with the sequel of this epitaph.

THEOBALD. 18 l'envoy;] The l'envoy is a term borrowed from the old French poetry. It appeared always at the head of a few concluding verses to each piece, which either served to convey the moral, or to address the poem to some particular person. It was frequently adopted by the old English writers. STEEVENS.

19 no salve in the mail-] Mail then signified a bor or packet. Fr. Malle.

20 And he ended the market.] Alluding to the English proverb-Three women and a goose make a market. Tre donne et un occa fan un mercato. Ital. Ray's Proverbs.

21 —incony Jew.] Incony, or kony, in the north signifies fine, delicate.

22 Some men must love my lady, and some Joan.) Mr. Theobald extends his second act to this line.

STEEVENS.

STEEVENS.

23 Here, good my glass, -) To understand how the princess has her glass so ready at hand in a casual conversation, it must be remembered that in those days it was the fashion among the French ladies to wear a looking-glass, as Mr. Bayle coarsely represents it, on their bellies; that is, to have a small mirrour set in gold hanging at the girdle, by which they occasionally viewed their faces or adjusted their hair.

JOHNSON. Dr. Johnson, perhaps, is mistaken. She had no occasion to have recourse to any other looking-glass than the Forester, whom she rewards for having sbewn her to herself as in a mirror.

24 King Cophetua.] The ballad of King Cophetua and the Beggar-Maid may be seen in the Reliques of Ancient Poetry, vol. i. The beggar's name was Penelophon, here corrupted. -a monarcho

-] Sir T. Hanmer reads, a mammuccio.

JOHNSON. The allusion is to a fantastical character of the time.-"Popular applause (says Meres) dooth nou“ rish some, neither do they gape after

any

other “thing, but vaine praise and glorie,-as in our age “ Peter Shakerlye of Paules, and Monarcho that lived “ about the court." p. 178.

In Nash's Have with you to Saffron-Walden, 1595, I meet with the same allusion,- -“ but now he

was an insulting monarch above Monarcho the

Italian, that ware crownes in his shoes, and quite renounced his natural English accents and gestures,

PERCY

25

FARMER

[blocks in formation]

STEEVENS.

“ and wrested himself wholly to the Italian pan“ tilio's, &c."

An allusion of a similar kind remains unexplained in Ben Jonson's Alchemist, Act I. Scene I.

and a face cut for thee, “ Worse than Gamaliel Ratsey's." Gamaliel Ratsey was a famous highwayman, who always robbed in a mask. I once had in my possession a pamphlet containing his life and exploits, in the title page of which he is represented with this ugly visor on his face.

26 Queen Guinever.] This was king Arthur's queen, not over famous for fidelity to her husband. See the song of the Boy and the Mantle in Dr. Percy's collection.

27 Enter HOLOFERNES.] There is very little personal reflexion in Shakspeare. Either the virtue of those times, or the candour of our author, has so effected, that his satire is, for the most part, general, and, as himself says,

-his taxing like a wild goose flies, Unclaim'd of any man. The place before us seems to be an exception. For by Holofernes is designed a particular character, a pedant and schoolmaster of our author's time, one John Florio, a teacher of the Italian tongue in London, who has given us a small dictionary of that language under the title of A World of Words, which in his epistle dedicatory he tells us, is of little less value than Stephens's Treasure of the Greek Tongue, the most complete work that was ever yet compiled of its kind. In his preface, he calls those who had criticized his works sea-dogs or land-critics; monsters of men, if not beasts rather than men; whose teeth are canibals, their toongs addars forks, their lips aspes poison, their eyes basiliskes, their breath the breath of a grave, their words like swordes of Turks, that strive which shall dive deepest into a Christian lying bound before them. Well therefore might the mild Nathaniel desire Holofernes to abrogate scur. rility. His profession too is the reason that Holofernes deals so much in Italian sentences. There is an edition of Love's Labour's Lost, printed 1598, and said to be presented before her highness this last Christmas, 1597. The next year 1598, comes out our Jobn Florio, with his World of Words, recentibus odiis; and in the preface, quoted above, falls upon the comic poet for bringing him on the stage. There is another sort of leering curs, that rather snarle than bite, whereof I could instance in one, who lighting on a good sonnet of a gentleman's, a friend of mine, that loved better to be a poet than to be counted so, called the author a rymer- - Let Aristophanes and his comedians make plaies, and scowre their mouths on Socrates; those

very

mouths they make to vilife shall be the means to amplife his virtue, &c. Here Shakspeare is so plainly marked out as not to be mistaken. As to the sonnet of the gentleman his friend, we may be assured it was no other than his own.

And without doubt was parodied in the very sonnet beginning with The praiseenemy, H. S.

ful princess, &c. in which our author makes Holofernes say, He will something affect the letter; for it argues facility. And how much John Florio thought this affectation argued facility, or quickness of wit, we see in this preface where he falls upon his

His name is H. S. Do not take it for the Roman H. S. unless it be as H. S. is twice as much and an half, as half an A S. With a great deal more to the same purpose; concluding his préface in these words, The resolute John Florio. From the ferocity of this man's temper it was, that Shakspeare chose for him the name which Rabelais gives to his pedant of Thubal, Holoferne. WARBURTON.

23 —a pricket.] In a play called The Return from Parnassus, 1006, I find the following account of the different appellations of deer, at their different ages.

Amoretto. I caused the keeper to sever the “ rascal deer from the bucks of the first head. Now, “ sir, a buck is, the first year, a fawn; the second “year, a pricket; the third year, a sorell; the fourth

year, a soare; the fifth, a buck of the first head; “ the sixth year, a compleat buck. Likewise your hart is, the first year, a calfe; the second year, a brocket; the third year, a spade; the fourth year,

a stag; the sixth year, a hart. A roe-luck is the "first year, a kid; the second year, a girl; the third

year, a hemuse; and these are your special beasts s for chase.”

So in A Christian turn'd Turk, 1612.- ." I am but a pricket, a mere sorell; my head's not har

o den'd yet.”

STEEVENS.

« PreviousContinue »