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As Warburton suggested, it is probable the second stanza of the old ballad, which related to the ten remaining sons of Priam, ran :
“If one be bad amongst nine good,
There's but one bad in ten.'
The Countess objects, therefore, that in singing—“One good in ten,” the Clown corrupts the song; whereupon he rejoins that inasmuch as the text says nothing whatever about good women, his emendation of “ One good woman in ten" in reality renders it more complimentary.
(5) SCENE III.-Though honesty be no puritan, &c. &c.] A correspondent in Knight's “Pictorial Shakspere" remarks: “This passage refers to the sour objection of the puritans to the use of the surplice in divine service, for which they wished to substitute the black Geneva gown. At this time the controversy with the puritans raged violently. Hooker's fifth book of · Ecclesiastical Polity,' whic discusses this matter at length, wås published in 1597. But the question itself is much older-as old as the Reformation, when it was agitated between the British and continental reformers. During the reign of Mary it troubled Frankfort, and on the accession of Elizabeth it was brought back to England, under the patronage of Archbishop Grindal, whose residence in Germany, during his exile in Mary's reign, had disposed him to Genevan theology. The dispute about ecclesiastical vestments may seem a trifle, but it was at this period made the ground upon which to try the first principles of Church authority: a point in itself unimportant becomes vital when so large a question is made to turn upon it. Hence its prominency in the controversial writings of Shakspere's time; and few among his audience would be likely to miss an allusion to a subject fiercely debated at Paul's Cross and elsewhere."
(6) SCENE III.
- My father left me some prescriptions
Of rare and prov'd effects.] The text exhibits a very early and curious instance of the use of the word “ Prescription" as a medical formula, for which it was not generally current until the close of the seventeenth century. Previously to that time, the ordinary expression was “Recipe;" but in 1599 Bishop Hall employs both words in connexion, showing that they were to be regarded as synonymous :
" And give a dose for everie disease
Satires, IV. B. 3.
Dryden does the same also, in his Thirteenth Epistle, in which he likewise alludes to the custom of preserving such papers, –
“From files a random Recipe they take,
And many deaths of one Prescription make.”
In this manner the Hon. Robert Boyle appears to have made it his practice to preserve methodically all the recipes which had been written for himself in any sickness; one of his Occasional Reflections being on “his reviewing and tacking together the several bills filed in the apothecary's shop."
The practice was probably commenced at an early period of the history of medicine, and was continued in family recipe books, especially in country places, throughout the greater part of the last century, with “ Probatum est" attached to the formulæ, where their virtues had been experienced. Dr. Cæsar Adelmare, who died in 1569, left among his papers a number of very extraordinary prescriptions, which Sir Hans Sloane copied neatly out, and preserved in his collection of manuscripts.
ACT II. (1) SCENE I.
- Let higher Italy
Not to woo honour, but to wed it ; &c.]
Having subsequently entered into a convention with the Florentines, he proceeded to Sienna, which he attempted to secure by establishing in it a French garrison. This city had long been regarded as the most powerful in Tuscany, after Florence, to which it had formerly been subject, as well as to the crown of Naples; but at the period in question the citizens had set up in it an independent government, and had separated themselves from both, and also from their confederacy with the German Emperor. This disruption had produced the most inveterate hatred between the Florentines and the Siennois; and in 1495 began that “ braving war," in which the Florentines and Senoys were by the ears." Finding that the powers of the north of Italy were so much disgusted by the insolence of the French, as to enter into a league against them, because they appeared to consider themselves as masters of the whole peninsula, Charles resolved on returning to France. He accordingly re-crossed the Apennines, October 22, 1495, leaving half his army at Naples, under his relative, Gilbert De Montpensier, as Viceroy.
In this brief outline of the French invasion of Italy, will be found an explanation both of the policy of the king, and of a peculiar expression in the passage cited above. In virtue of the convention already mentioned, the Florentines were about to ask assistance from him, which the Emperor had written to desire they might not have: and Charles accordingly refused to furnish any troops, as king of France. He was willing, however, to permit those young French noblemen who desired to be known as having served in the wars, to enter themselves as gentlemen-volunteers in a neutral foreign service, with either the Florentine or Siennois, the Guelph or the Ghibelline party, in conformity with the practice of the period, which proved so favourable to many soldiers of fortune. But in his parting address to these noblemen, the king excepts those States which had been formed in the barbaric confusion that prevailed upon the dismemberment of the Roman empire, States which literally inherited the spoils only of the last monarchy," or single government of Italy. In this exception it may be thought that Charles refers especially to the principalities of the north of Italy, which had entered into a coalition against him; but Shakespeare's history in this play, and in others, must not be examined too rigidly.
(2) SCENE I.
And no sword worn, But one to dance with.] Is it was the fashion in Shakespeare's time for gentlemen to dance with swords on, and the ordinary weapon was liable to impede their motions, rapiers, light and short, were made for the purpose :-“I think wee were as much dread or more of our enemies, when our gentlemen went simply and our serving-men plainely, without cuts or gards, bearing their heavy swordes and buckelers on their thighes, instead of cuts and gardes and light daunsing swordes , and when they rode carrying good speares in theyr hands in stede of white rods, which they carry now more like ladies or gentlewomen than men; all which delicacyes maketh our men cleare effeminate and without strength."STAFFORD's Briefe Conceipt of English Pollicy, 1581, 4to.
(3) SCENE I.
He that of greatest works is finisher,
When judges have been babes.] The ordinary explanation of these lines refers them either to those passages in Scripture which set forth the mischiefs incident to a kingdom that is governed by a child, as Ecclesiastes x. 16, and Isaiah iii. 4, 12; or to St. Matthew xi. 25,-“I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes :" and 1 Corinthians i. 27, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” It seems probable, however, that the particular allusion is to the four children of the noble families of Israel who were appointed to be brought up for the king's service; Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, -"As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom; therefore stood they before the king :” and Nebuchadnezzar t them “over the affairs of the province of Babylon," Daniel i. 3, 4, 17, 19; iii. 48, 49.
The Hebrew word signifies youths, but the usual translation is children. In Coverdale's version, 1535, they are called “ young springalds.”
(4) SCENE II.-A morris for May-day.) The Morris, or Morisco dance, is generally supposed to have been derived originally from the Moors, and to have come to us through Spain: where, indeed, according to Douce, it still continues to delight both natives and strangers, under the name of the Fandango. On its first introduction, it was probably a sort of military dance, like that of the Matachins in France and Italy; but subsequently the May games, the games of Robin Hood, the Church and other “Ales," and the Morris dance got inextricably blended together. See Douce's “Illustrations of Shakspeare," under Antient English Morris Dance. Of the appearance and behaviour of the dancers, Stubbes, in his “ Anatomie of Abuses," 1595, supplies a lively but no doubt exaggerated picture :-"They bedecke themselves with scarffes, ribbons and laces, hanged all over with golde ringes, precious stones, and other jewels : 'this done, they tie about either legge twentie or fortie belles with rich handkerchiefes in their handes, and sometimes laid acrosse over their shoulders and neckes, borrowed for the most part of their pretie Mopsies and loving Bessies, for bussing them in the darke. Thus all things set in order, then have they their hobby-horses, their dragons and other antiques, togither with their baudie pípers, and thundering drummers, to strike up the Devil's Daunce withall: then martch this heathen company towards the church and churchyarde, their pypers pyping, their drummers thundering, their stumpes dauncing, their belles jyngling, their handkercheefes fluttering about their heades like madde men, their hobbie-horses, and other monsters skirmishing amongst the throng: and in this sorte they goe to the church, though the minister be at prayer or preaching, dauncing and swinging their handkerchiefes over their heades in the
s over their heades in the church like devils incarnate, with such a confused noise, that no man can heare his own voyce." * * *
One of the most curious notices of the morris, as practised in modern times, is given by Waldron, who says that, in the summer of 1783, he “saw at Richmond, in Surrey, a company of Morrice-Dancers from Abington, accompanied by a Fool in a motleyjacket, &c. who carried in his hand a staff or truncheon, about two feet long, having a blown-up bladder fastened to one end of it; with which he either buffeted the crowd, to keep them at a proper distance from the dancers, or played tricks for the spectators' diversion. The Dancers and the Fool were Berkshire husbandmen, taking an annual circuit, collecting money from whoever would give them any; and (I apprehend) had derived the appendage of the bladder from custom immemorial; not from old plays, or the commentaries thereon.”
(6) SCENE V.—You have made shift to run into't, boots and spurs and all, like him that leaped into the custard.] One of the absurdities practised at the great civic festivals formerly, was for the Lord Mayor's or Sheriff's fool to spring on to the table, and, after uttering some doggerel balderdash, leap bodily into a huge custard; prepared, it may be supposed, for the purpose :
“ He may perchance, in tail of a sheriff's dinner,
Skip with a rhyme o' the table, from New-nothing,
BEN Jonson.-" The Devil is an A88," Act I. Sc. l.
ACT III. (1) SCENE V.
Win. God save you, pilgrim! Whither are you bound ?
HEL. To Saint Jaques le grand.
Where do the palmers lodge, I do beseech you ?] , By St. James the Great, Shakespeare no doubt signified the apostle so called, whose
celebrated shrine was at Compostella, in Spain; and Dr. Johnson rightly observes that Florence was somewhat out of the road in going thither from Rousillon. There was, however, subsequently, another James, of La Marca of Ancona, a Franciscan confessor of the highest eminence for sanctity, who died at the convent of the Holy Trinity, near Naples, in A.D. 1476. He was not beatified until the seventeenth century, nor canonised until 1726; but it is quite possible that his reputation was very great in connexion with Italy, even at the period of this play; and that Shakespeare adopted the name without considering any other distinction. The same disregard of special peculiarities is evinced also in another part of the above passage, which makes palmers and pilgrims synonymous names, as they were generally supposed to be in England in the seventeenth century, when the original distinction was forgotten. There were differences between them; but it may be doubted whether those specified by Somner and Blount rest upon any sufficient authority. When pilgrims or crusaders returned from the Holy Land, it was customary for them to carry in their hands, or have bound to their staves, branches of the palm which grows in Syria, as signs of their having completely performed the journey. They were then called Palmiferi, or Palm-bearers; and on the day following their arrival, when they went to a church to give thanks to God for their safe return, these palms were offered on the altar. Thus it will be perceived that all palmers were pilgrims; but all pilgrims were not palmers, inasmuch as the "signs” of the performance of other pilgrimages were altogether different, and comprised a great variety of their own peculiar emblems.
(2) SCENE VI.--John Drum's entertainment.] To give any one John, or Tom, Drum's entertainment, meant to drive him vi et armis out of your company. It was a very old proverbial saying, the origin of which has never been satisfactorily explained. Holinshed, in speaking of the Mayor of Dublin, says, “ His porter or anie other officer, durst not for both his eares give the simplest man that resorted to his house Tom Drum his entertainment, which is, to hale a man in by the head, and thrust him out by both the shoulders."
(1) SCENE III.--Hoodman comes !] An allusion to the sport now known as “ Blind Man's Buff,” formerly called “Hoodman Blind," because the player, who was blinded, had his hood turned round to cover his eyes. Shakespeare refers to this pastime again, in “Hamlet,” Act III. Sc. 4:
(2) SCENE III. He has led the drum before the English tragedians.] The practice of announcing their arrival by beat of drum is still observed by some itinerant performers, and appears to have been a very old one. In Kemp's “Nine Daies Wonder," 1600, there is a representation of Kemp, attired as a morris-dancer, preceded by a character whom he called Thomas Slye, his taberer; and Dr. Hunter has cited an instance from the annals of Doncaster, where, in 1684, the actors' drum going round the town, a part of the military then stationed there took offence at it, and a serious riot was the consequence,
(3) SCENE III.-Quart d’écu.] “The quart d'écu, or, as it was sometimes written, cardecue," Douce says, “was a French piece of money, first coined in the reign of Henry III. It was the fourth part of the gold crown, and worth fifteen sols. It is a fact not generally known, that many foreign coins were current at this time in England; some English coins were likewise circulated on the Continent. The French crown and its parts passed by weight only." .
Mr. Halliwell gives an engraving of the quarter ecu, copied from the original of the time of Charles IX. “It is dated 1573, and was struck at the Paris mint, the large letter A beneath the shield being the distinguishing mark used there. The superior workmanship and the purity of metal used for these coins, originated the French proverb, applied to persons of honour and probity, 'Etre marqué à l'Ă.'” In old English books it is almost always called either cardecue, or quardecue. “I compounded with them for a cardakew, which is eighteen pence English."-Coryat.
“ The Spanish Royall, piece of foure and eight,
On me for my antiquity may waite,
TAYLOR's Workes, 1630.
(1) SCENE I.--Enter a Gentleman.] The original has “Enter a Gentle Astringer," which is said to mean a gentleman falconer ; the term Astringer, derived from osturcus, or austurcus, having been formerly applied to one who kept goshawks. The introduction of such'a retainer, however, appears so utterly uncalled for, and the title “gentle Astringer" is so peculiar, that we may reasonably suspect it to be an error of the press. The folio, 1632, reads, “a gentle Astranger;" that of 1685, “a gentleman, a stranger."