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Set your heart at rest, The fairy land buys not the child of me. His mother was a vot’ress of my order : And, in the spiced Indian air, by night, Full often hath she gossip'd by my side; And sat with me on Neptune's yellow fands, Marking the embarked traders on the flood; When we have laugh'd to see the sails conceive, And grow big-bellied, with the wanton wind: Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait, (Following her womb, then rich with my young
halle, &c. There was also a maister of the benxmen, to ewe them the schoole of nurture, and learne them to ride, to wear their harnelle; to have all curtefie—to teach them all languages, and other virtues, as harping, pipynge, finging, dauncing, with honeft behavioure of temperaunce and patyence." MS. Harl. 293.
At the funeral of Henry VIII. nine henchmen attended with sir Francis Bryan, master of the henchmen.
Strype's Eccl. Mem. v. 2. App. n. 1. TYRWHITT. · - Henchman. Quasi haunch-man. One that goes behind another. Pedifequus. BLACKSTONE.
The learned commentator might have given his etymology fome support from the following passage in King Henry IV. P. II. AZ IV. sc. iv:
“ O Westmoreland, thou art a summer bird,
“ The lifting up of day." Steevens.
Following (her womb, then rich with my young Jquire,)
Would imitate -] Perhaps the parenthesis Thould begin sooner ; as I think Mr. Kenrick observes :
“ (Following her womb, then rich with my young squire,)” So, in Trulla's combat with Hudibras :
" - - She press'd so home,
" That he retired, and follow'd's bum." And Dryden says of his Spanish Friar, “ his great belly walks in ftate before him, and his gouty legs come limping after it.”
FARMER. I have followed this regulation, (which is likewise adopted by Mr. Steevens,) though I do not think that of the old copy at all liable to the objection made to it by Dr. Warburton. “She did
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres, To hear the sea-maid's musick.'
9 - Thou remember'A
Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And certain stars foot madly from their spheres, - To hear the sea-maid's musick.] The first thing observable on these words is, that this action of the mermaid is laid in the same time and place with Cupid's attack upon the veftal. By the vestal every one knows is meant queen Elizabeth. It is very natural and reasonable then to think that the mermaid stands for fome eminent personage of her time. And if so, the allegorical covering, in which there is a mixture of satire and panegyric, will lead us to conclude that this person was one of whom it had been inconvenient for the author to speak openly, either in praise or dispraise. All this agrees with Mary queen of Scots, and with no other. Q. Elizabeth could not bear to hear her commended; and her success for would not forgive her satirist. But the poet has so well marked out every diftinguished circumstance of her life and character in this beautiful allegory, as will leave no room to doubt about his secret meaning. She is called a mermaid, 1. to denote her reign over a kingdom situate in the sea, and 2. her beauty, and intemperate luft:
- Ul turpiter atrum “ Definat in pifcem mulier formofa supernè.” for as Elizabeth for her chastity is called a vestal, this unfortunate lady on a contrary account is called a mermaid. 3. An ancient story may be supposed to be here alluded to. The emperor Julian tells us, Epistle 41. that the Sirens (which, with all the modern poets, are mermaids) contended for precedency with the Muses, who overcoming them, took away their wings. The quarrels between Mary and Elizabeth had the same cause, and the same issue.
on a dolphin's back,] This evidently marks out that diftinguishing circumstance of Mary's fortune, her marriage with the dauphin of France, son of Henry II.
Úttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,] This alludes to her great abilities of genius and learning, which rendered her the most accomplished princess of her age. The French writers tell us, that, while Îhe was in that court, she pronounced a Latin oration in the great hall of the Louvre, with so much grace and eloquence, as filled the whole court with admiration.
I remember. Obe. That very time I saw, (but thou could'it
not,) That the rude sea grew civil at her fong ;] By the rude sea is meant Scotland encircled with the ocean ; which rose up in arms against the regent, while she was in France. But her return home presently quieted those disorders: and had not her strange ill conduct afterwards more violently inflamed them, she might have passed her whole life in peace. There is the greater juftness and beauty in this image, as the vulgar opinion is, that the mermaid always sings in storms:
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
To hear the jea-maid's muick.) Thus concludes the description, with that remarkable circumstance of this unhappy lady's fate, the destruction The brought upon several of the English nobility, whom she drew in to support her cause. This, in the boldeft exprellion of the sublime, the poet images by certain stars shooting madly from their spheres : By which he meant the earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland, who fell in her quarrel; and principally the great duke of Norfolk, whose projected marriage with her was attended with such fatal consequences. Here again the reader may observe a peculiar justness in the imagery. The vulgar opinion being that the mermaid allured men to destruction by her songs. To which opinion Shakspeare alludes in his Comedy of Errors :
" O train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
“ To drown me in thy fifter's flood of tears." On the whole, it is the nobleft and justeft allegory that was ever written. The laying it in fairy land, and out of nature, is in the character of the speaker. And on these occasions Shakspeare always excels himself. He is borne away by the magic of his enthusiasm, and hurries his reader along with him into these ancient regions of poetry, by that power of verse, which we may well fancy to be like what,
" - Olim fauni vatesque canebant." WARBURTON. And certain stars foot madly from their spheres,] So, in our author's Rape of Lucrece :
“And little fars shot from their fixed places." Malone. Every reader may be induced to wish that the foregoing allufion, pointed out by fo acute a critic as Dr. Warburton, should remain uncontroverted; and yet I cannot dissemble my doubts concerning
-Why is the thrice-marri:d Queen of Scotland 'filed a ScaMAID? and is it probable that Shakspeare (who understood his own political as well as poetical intereft,) should have ventured such a panegyric on this ill-fated Princess, during the reign of her rival Elizabeth ? If it was unintelligible to his audience, it was thrown away; if obvious, there was danger of offence to her Majesty.