« VorigeDoorgaan »
against the walls. In palaces and mansions, both the art and the subject were of a much superior kind. Martial scenes, classical and romantic histories, armorial ensigns or heraldical devices, adorned the apartments of the great; and, not unfrequently, moral sentences in Latin, French, or English, were inscribed in golden letters on richlycoloured panels. All of which would have been out of place in any such houses as that referred to by Falstaff : where the popular taste was shown in familiar Scripture narratives, forest-sports, or scenes of broad humour. There is a curious indication of this difference of decoration in the two poems called “Chaucer's Dream;” in one of which, the author, imagining an apartment embellished in the highest style of art, says that it was
“Full well depainted
And all the walls with colours fine,
And all the Romaunt of the Rose."
“Save on the walls old portraiture
And hurt dere, all full of woundis. It is thus evident that hunting-subjects had been commonly employed, in the fourteenth century, for the adornment of interiors; and “The German Hunting" appears to have been one of the most popular of the class at the period. There is more than one explanation to be offered of this expression. The first is, that it implied no more than the representation of a chase after the manner of the Germans, as if the passage had been written, “your German hunting :” and the picture might then have consisted of a wild-boar hunt, in a German forest, taken from some old foreign print. But the words may possibly have reference to the famous German legend of The Wild Huntsman," which had, perhaps, found its way to England during the reign of Elizabeth.
There can be no doubt, from the very name, that the “ drolleries” proposed by Falstaff for the garniture of “The Boar's Head,” were some of those scenes of coarse humour which the painters of the Dutch school introduced, between the end of the sixteenth, and the middle of the seventeenth century. They comprised representations of low tavern-parties, soldiers' quarters, country-fairs and mountebanks; and in some of them apes and cats were represented as drinking, playing on musical instruments, or acting as constables and watchmen. There were several very common specimens of this kind of tavern-painting formerly existing in an apartment of “ The Elephant” in Fenchurch Street.
(2) SCENE II.--A red lattice.] The lattice, or crossed laths, the ordinary denotement of an ale-house, was probably derived from the ancient sign of the chequers, common among the Romans. The designation, Douce remarks, “is not altogether lost, though the original meaning of the word is, the sign being converted into a green lettuce; of which an instance occurs in Brownlow Street, Holborn. In The Last Will and Testament of Lawrence Lucifer, the old Batchiler of Limbo, at the end of the Blacke Booke,' 1604, 4to, is the following passage : '-watched sometimes ten houres together in an ale-house, ever and anon peeping forth, and sampling thy nose with the red Lattis.'” (3) SCENE IV.
When Arthur first in court
And was a worthy king.) The old ballad of which Sir John hums a snatch, was one in honour of Sir Launcelot du Lake, and is given at length in Percy's Reliques, vol. i. p. 198, ed. 1767, and with the tune to which it was sung, in W. Chappell's Popular Music, &c., I. 271. The opening stanza runs :
" When Arthur first in court began,
And was approved king,
And conquest home did bring." (4) SCENE IV.- Quoit him down, Bardolph, like a shove-groat shilling.) The following is Strutt's account of Shove-groat, which appears to have been originally played with the silver groat, and afterwards with the broad shilling of Edward VI. “Shoregroat, named also Slyp-groat, and Slide-thrift, are sports occasionally mentioned by writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and probably were analogous to the modern pastime called Justice Jervis, or Jarvis, which is confined to common pot-houses, and only practised by such as frequent the tap-rooms. It requires a parallelogram to be made with chalk, or by lines cut upon the middle of a table, about twelve or fourteen inches in breadth, and three or four feet in length; which is divided, latitudinally, into nine equal partitions, in every one of which is placed a figure, in regular succession, from one to nine. Each of the players provides himself with a smooth halfpenny, which he places upon the edge of the table, and striking it with the palm of his hand, drives it towards the marks; and according to the value of the figure affixed to the partition wherein the halfpenny rests, bis game is reckoned; which generally is stated at thirty-one, and must be made precisely if it be exceeded, the player goes again for nine, which must also be brought exactly, or the turn is forfeited, and if the halfpenny rests upon any of the marks that separate the partitions, or overpasses the external boundaries, the go is void.”
(5) SCENE IV.
Then death rock me asleep, abridge my doleful days ! ] This is the beginning of a mournful ballad, of which we append the first and last stanzas, said to have been composed by Anne Boleyne, but which Ritson thought was more likely to have been written by her brother, George, Viscount Rochford, who was reputed to be the author of several poems, songs, and sonnets. Mr. W. Chappell (Popular Music, &c., vol. i. p. 238) has published the first stanza, with the tune, from a manuscript of the latter part of the reign of Henry VIII.
" Death, rocke me on slepe,
Bring me on quiet reste,
Out of my carefull brest;
For I must dye,
For now I dye.”
Welcum my present payne,
That lyfe cannot remayne.
Deth doth draw nye,
(6) SCENE IV.-Bartholomew boar-pig.) Roast pig, even down to the middle of the last century, appears to have constituted one of the staple attractions of Bartholomew
Leann'nlay of " Bartholomew Fair." and D'Avenant's burlesque poem fair. See Ben Jonson's play of " Bartholomew Fair," and D Ave on a long vacation :
“ Now London's chief, on sadle new,
Rides to the Fare of Bartholemew;
(7) SCENE IV.-Flap-dragons.] The sport of placing a plum or raisin in a shallow dish of spirit, and then setting light to it, and while the whole was in a flame, snatching out the flap-dragon, as it was called, with the mouth, was borrowed from the Dutch. Our gallants, who vied with each other in disgusting extravagances while toasting their mistresses, improved upon the Dutch practice, by making even a candle's end into a flap-dragon, and swallowing that off. An allusion to this, and another frantic absurdity of the fast youths of former times—that of puncturing their arms, and drinking the health of their charmers in blood, occurs in an old ballad, called “ The Man in the Moon drinks Claret:"
« Bacchus the father of drunken nowles,
Full mazers, beakers, glasses, bowls,
(1) SCENE II.-I was once of Clement's-inn.] This Inn was so called, says Stow, “because it standeth near to St. Clement's Church, but nearer to the fair fountain called Clement's Well.” How long before 1479, nineteenth of Edward IV., it was occupied by students of the law is not known, but that it had been so inhabited for some time previously is quite certain ; and we have the testimony of Strype to show that in aftertimes the roisterers of the Inns of Court fully maintained the reputation which Shallow took so much pride in claiming for himself and his fellow swinge-bucklers: “Here about this Church," he is speaking of St. Clement's, " and in the parts adjacent, were frequent disturbances by reason of the unthrifts of the Inns of Chancery, who were so unruly on nights, walking about to the disturbance and danger of such as passed along the streets, that the inhabitants were fain to keep watches. In the year 1582, the Recorder himself, with six more of the honest inhabitants, stood by St. Clement's Church, to see the lanthorn hung out, and to observe if he could meet with any of these outrageous dealers.”-Strype's Stow, vol. ii. p. 108, ed. 1755.
(2) SCENE II.-I saw him break Skogan's head.] Some of the commentators contend there were two Skogans, one--
" — A fine gentleman, and a master of arts,
Of Henry the Fourth's time, that made disguises
Daintily well," &c. as described by Ben Jonson in his Masque of “The Fortunate Isles.” This was Henry Scogan. The other, John Scogan, whom Holinshed mentions as “ a learned gentleman of Edward the Fourth's reign, student for a time in Oxford, of a pleasaunte witte, and bent to mery devises, in respect whereof he was called into the courte, where guiding himselfe to his naturall inclination of mirthe and pleasaunt pastime, he plaied many sporting parts,” &c.
*Others believe there was but one poet of the name, and that the compositions attributed to the supposed Scogan of Edward the Fourth's time were written by him of Henry IV. It is needless to prolong the controversy. There was certainly a book published in the reign of Henry VIII. by Andrew Borde, called “Scoggin's Jests,” which was reprinted in 1565; and the father of these jokes was no doubt considered by Shakespeare and his auditory as a court-jester of a former period, whether in the reign of Henry IV. or Edward IV. was not material.
(3) SCENE II.- Our watch-word was, Hem, boys !] There was an old rollicking song, whose burden, hem, boys, hem! still lingered in Justice Shallow's memory, and of which the only verse now extant is quoted by Brome in his comedy of A Jovial Creu, or the Merry Beggars, first acted in 1641 :
“ There was an old fellow at Waltham Cross,
Who merrily sung when he liv'd by the loss,
Act II. Sc. 1. Mr. Chappell (“Popular Music of the Olden Time," i. 262), acquaints us with the interesting fact, that the original air to which the above burden was sung, is the same still heard in the well-known chorus,
“A very good song, and very well sung;
Jolly companions every one.” (4) SCENE II.-I was then Sir Dagonet in Arthur's show.] Arthur's show appears to have been an exhibition performed by a band of Toxophilites, calling themselves “The Auncient Order, Society, and Unitie laudable of Prince Arthure and his Knightly Armory of the Round Table," the associates of which took the names of the knights who figure in the famous romance, and were fifty-eight in number. Their ordinary place of rendezvous was Mile End Green, for ages the spot chosen by the Londoners for their martial sports and exercises, but they occasionally presented their spectacle in Smithfield, and in other parts of the city. Of the origin of this Society nothing is known; but from a passage in the dedication of a rare tract by Richard Robinson, its historian and poet, we learn that it was confirmed by charter under Henry VIII.; who, “when he sawe a good archer indeede, he chose him, and ordained such a one for a knight of this order." That it flourished in Shakespeare's time is proved by the following extract from a treatise on the training of children, by Richard Mulcaster (1581), Master of St. Paul's School, where the writer, expatiating on the utility of Archerie as a preservative of health, says :-"how can I but prayse them, who professe it throughly, and maintaine it nobly, the friendly and frank fellowship of Prince Arthur's Knights, in and about the citie of London which, if I had sacred to silence, would not my good friend in the citie, Maister Hewgh Only, and the same my noble fellow in that order, Syr Launcelot, at our next meeting have given me a soure nodde, being the chief furtherer of the fact which I commend, and the famousest knight of the fellowship which I am of. Nay, would not even Prince Arthur himselfe, Maister Thomas Smith, and the whole table of those well-known knights, and most active archers, have laid in their challenge against 'their fellow-knight, if speaking of their pastime, I should have spared their Dames?"
The complacency with which Justice Shallow refers to his personification of poor Sir Dagonet, who in the romance is the fool of King Arthur, is charmingly characteristic, and must have been highly relished by an auditory familiar with all the personages of La Morte d' Arthure.
(5) SCENE II.-- And now is this Vice's dagger become a squire.] The following particulars concerning the old stage favourite, called the Vice, are mainly taken from an instructive article on the subject, in Mr. Collier's “History of English Dramatic Poetry.” Mr. Douce is of opinion that the name was derived from the nature of the character; and certain it is that he is represented most wicked by design, and never good but by accident. As the Devil now and then appeared without the Vice, so the Vice sometimes appeared without the Devil. Malone tells us that “the principal employment of the Vice was to belabour the Devil ;" but although he was frequently so engaged, he had also higher duties. He figured now and then in the religious plays of a later date: and in The Life and Repentance of Mary Magdalen, 1567, he performed the part of her lover, before her conversion, under the name of Infidelity : in King Darius, 1565, he also acted a prominent part, by his own impulses to mischief, under the name of Iniquity, without any prompting from the representative of the principle of evil. Such was the general style of the Vice, and as Iniquity he is spoken of by Shakespeare (“Richard III." III. 1,) and Ben Jonson (“Staple of News," second Intermean). The Vice and Iniquity seem, however, sometimes to have been distinct persons,* and he was not unfrequently called by the name of particular vices: thus, in Lusty Juventus, the Vice performs the part of Hypocrisy; in Common Conditions, he is called Conditions ; in Like Will to Like, he is named Nichol Newfangle; in The Trial of Treasure, his part is that of Inclination; in All for Money, he is called Sin ; in Tom Tyler and his Wife, Desire; and in Appius and Virginia, Haphazard.
Gifford designates the Vice “the Buffoon of the Old Mysteries and Moralities," as if he had figured in the Miracle-plays represented at Chester, Coventry, York, and elsewhere. Malone, also, speaks of him as the " constant attendant" of the Devil in the ancient religious plays;" but the fact is, that the Vice was wholly unknown in our religious plays, which have hitherto gone by the name of Mysteries. The Life and Repentance of Mary Magdalen, and King Darius, already mentioned as containing the character of the Vice, were not written until after the reign of Mary. The same remark will apply to the Interlude of Queen Hester, 1561, which differs from other religious plays, inasmuch as the Vice there is a court-jester and servant, and is named Hardydardy.
On the external appearance of the Vice, Mr. Douce has observed, that, “ being generally dressed in a fool's habit,” he was gradually and undistinguisbably blended with the domestic fool. Ben Jonson, in his Devil is an Ass, alludes to this very circumstance, when he is speaking of the fools of old kept in the houses of the nobility and gentry :
-“fifty years agone and six,
In his long coat, shaking his wooden dagger!” The Vice here spoken of was the domestic fool of the nobility about the year 1560, to whom also Puttenham, in his Arte of English Poesie, alludes under the terms “buffoon or vice in plays."
In the first Intermean of Ben Jonson's Staple of News, Mirth leads us to suppose that it was a very common termination of the adventures of the Vice, for him to be carried off to hell on the back of the Devil : "he would carry away the Vice on his back, quick
* In the play of “Histriomastix,” 1610, we read :-"Enter a roaring Devil with the Vice on his back, Iniquity on one hand, and Juventus on the other.”
to hell, in every play where he came.” In The longer thou livest the more Fool thore art, and in Like Will to Like, the Vice is disposed of nearly in this summary manner. In King Darius, the Vice runs to hell of his own accord, to escape from Constancy, Equity, and Charity. According to Bishop Harsnet, in a passage cited by Malone, the Vice was in the habit of riding and beating the Devil, at other times than when he was thus carried against his will to punishment.
(1) SCENE II.—I do arrest thee, traitor, of high treason.] Holinshed's account of the insurrection does not, perhaps, directly implicate Prince John in this unparalleled breach of faith and honour; but it cannot be forgotten that the earl was acting under the orders of his general.
“The archbishop, accompanied with the Erle Marshall, devised certaine articles of such matters as it was supposed, that not onely the commonaltie of the Realme, but also the Nobilitie, found themselves agrieved with : which articles they shewed first unto such of their adherents as were neare aboute them, and after sent them abrode to theyr friendes further of, assuring them that for redresse of such oppressions, they woulde shedde the las ppe of bloud in thevr bodyes, if neede were. The Archbishop not meaning to stay after he saw hymselfe accompanied with a greate number of men, that came flocking to Yorke to take his parte in this quarrell, forth with discovered his enterprice, causing the articles aforesayde to be set up in the publicke streetes of the Citie of Yorke and upon the gates of the monasteries, that eche man might understande the cause that moved him to rise in armes against the King, the reforming whereo d not yet apperteyne unto him. Hereupon knights, esquiers, gentlemen, yeomen, and other of the commons, * * * * assembled togither in great numbers, and the Archbishop comming forth amongst them clad in armor, encouraged, exhorted, and, by all means he coulde, pricked them forth to take the enterprise in hand, * * * * and thus not only all the citizens of York, but all other in the countries about, that were able to bear weapon, came to the Archbishop, and to the Erle Marshal. Indeed, the respect that men had to the Archbishop, caused them to like the better of the cause, since the gravitie of his age, his integrity of life, and incomparable learning, with the reverend aspect of his amiable personage, moved all menne to have him in no small estimation. The King advertised of these matters, meaning to prevent them, left his journey into Wales, and marched with al speed towards the north partes. Also Raufe Nevill, Erle of Westmerlande, that was not farre off, togither with the lorde John of Lancaster the king's sonne, being enformed of this rebellious attempt, assembled togither such power as they might make, * * * * and comming into a plaine within the forest of Galtree, caused theyr standarts to be pight downe in like sort as the Archbishop had pight his, over agaynst them, being farre stronger in number of people than the other, for (as some write) there were of the rebels at the least 20 thousand men. When the Erle of Westmerlande perceyved the force of adversaries, and that they lay still and attempted not to come forwarde upon him, he subtilly devised how to quail thei
se, and foorthwith dispatched Messengeres unto the Archbyshoppe to understande the cause as it were of that greate assemble, and for what cause contrarye to the kings peace they came so in armor. The Archbishop answered, that he tooke nothing in hande agaynste the king's peace, but that whatsover he did, tended rather to advaunce the peace and quiet of the common wealth, than otherwise, and where he and his companie were in armes, it was for feare of the king, to whom hee could have no free accesse by reason of such a multitude of flatterers as were about him, and therefore he mainteyned that his purpose was good and profitable, as well for the king himselfe, as for the realme, if men were willing to understand a truth: and herewith hee shewed forthe a skroll in which the articles were written, wherof before ye have heard. The Messengers returning unto the Earle of Westmerlande shewed him what they had heard and brought from the Archbishop. When he had read the articles, hee shewed in word and countenance outwardly that he lyked of the Archbyshoppes holy and vertuous intent a
hat he and his woulde prosecute the same in assvsting the Archebishop, who rejoycing hereat, gave credite to the Earle, and perswaded the Earle Marshall agaynst hys will as it were to go with him to a place appoynted for them to common togyther. Here when they were mette with like number on eyther part, the articles were reade over, and without any more adoe, the earle of Westmerlande and those that were with him, agreed to doe theyr best to see that a reformation might bee had, according to the same. The Earle of Westmerlande using more policie than the rest: well (sayde he) then our travaile is come to the wished ende: and where our