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And give them friendly welcome every one:
take them to the buttery,] Mr. Pope had probably these words in his thoughts, when he wrote the following passage of his preface: " the top of the profession were then mere players, not gentlemen of the stage; they were led into the buttery by the steward, not placed at the lord's table, or the lady's toilette." But he seems not to have observed, that the players here introduced are strollers; and there is no reason to suppose that our author, Heminge, Burbage, Condell, &c. who were licensed by King James, were treated in this manner. Malone.
At the period when this comedy was written, and for many years after, the profession of a player was scarcely allowed to be reputable. The imagined dignity of those who did not belong to itinerant companies, is, therefore, unworthy consideration. can as easily believe that the blundering editors of the first folio were suffered to lean their hands on Queen Elizabeth's chair of state, as that they were admitted to the table of the Earl of Leicester, or the toilette of Lady Hunsdon. Like Stephen in
I meet with the following stage direction in the old play of Cambyses, (by T. Preston) when one of the characters is supposed to die from the wounds he had just received: Here let a small bladder of vinegar be pricked. I suppose to counterfeit blood: redwine vinegar was chiefly used, as appears from the ancient books of cookery.
In the ancient Tragedy, or rather Morality, called All for Money, by T. Lupton, 1578, Sin says,
I knew I would make him soon change his note,
"I will make him sing the Black Sanctus, I hold him a groat."
"Here Satan shall cry and roar."
Again, a little after:
"Here he roareth and crieth."
Of the kind of wit current through these productions, a better specimen can hardly be found than the following:
"Satan. Whatever thou wilt have, I will not thee denie. "Sinne. Then give me a piece of thy tayle to make a flappe for a flie.
"For if I had a piece thereof, I do verely believe
"The humble bees stinging should never me grieve.
"Satan. No, my friend, no, my tayle I cannot spare, "But aske what thou wilt besides, and I will it prepare. "Sinne. Then your nose I would have to stop my tayle behind,
"For I am combred with collike and letting out of winde: "And if it be too little to make thereof a case,
"Then I would be so bold to borrowe your face."
Such were the entertainments, of which our maiden Queen sat a spectatress in the earlier part of her reign. Steevens.
Let them want nothing that my house affords.
[Exeunt Serv. and Players.
[To a Serv.
Sirrah, go you to Bartholomew my page,
Bid him shed tears, as being overjoy'd
To see her noble lord restor❜d to health,
Who, for twice seven years, hath esteemed him
Every Man in his Humour, the greatest indulgence our histrionic leaders could have expected, would have been "a trencher and a napkin in the buttery." Steevens.
1 With soft low tongue,] So, in King Lear:
Her voice was ever soft,
"Gentle and low; an excellent thing in woman.'
2 Who, for twice seven years, &c.] In former editions: Who for this seven years hath esteemed him
No better than a poor and loathsome beggar. I have ventured to alter a word here, against the authority of the printed copies; and hope, I shall be justified in it by two subsequent passages. That the poet designed the tinker's supposed lunacy should be of fourteen years standing at least, is evident upon two parallel passages in the play to that purpose. Theobald.
The remark is just, but perhaps the alteration may be thought unnecessary by those who recollect that our author rarely reckons time with any great correctness. Both Falstaff and Orlando forget the true hour of their appointments. Steevens.
In both these passages the term mentioned is fifteen, not fourteen years. The servants may well be supposed to forget the precise period dictated to them by their master, or, as is the custom of such persons, to aggravate what they have heard. There is, therefore, in my opinion, no need of change. Malone.
And if the boy have not a woman's gift,
See this despatch'd with all the haste thou canst;
I know, the boy will well usurp the grace,
A Bedchamber in the Lord's House.
Sly is discovered in a rich night gown, with Attendants; some with apparel, others with bason, ewer, and other appurtenances. Enter Lord, dressed like a Servant. Sly. For God's sake a pot of small ale.
hath esteemed him-] This is an error of the press :-We should read himself, instead of him. M. Mason.
Him is used instead of himself, as you is used for yourselves in Macbeth:
Acquaint you with the perfect spy o' the time, " i. e. acquaint yourselves.
Again, in Ovid's Banquet of Sence, by Chapman, 1595:
"Sweet touch, the engine that love's bow doth bend,
"The sence wherewith he feeles him deified." Steevens. 3 An onion-] It is not unlikely that the onion was an expedient used by the actors of interludes. Johnson.
So, in Antony and Cleopatra: "The tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow." Steevens.
4 A Bedchamber &c.] From the original stage direction in the first folio it appears that Sly and the other persons mentioned in the Induction, were intended to be exhibited here, and during the representation of the comedy, in a balcony above the stage. The direction here is-Enter aloft the drunkard with attendants, &c. So afterwards, at the end of this scene-The Presenters above speak. Malone.
5 Sly is discovered &c.] Thus in the original play:
1 Serv. Will't please your lordship drink a cup of sack? 2 Serv. Will 't please your honour taste of these con
3 Serv. What raiment will your honour wear to-day? Sly. I am Christophero Sly; call not me-honour, nor lordship: I never drank sack in my life, and if you give me any conserves, give me conserves of beef: Ne'er ask me what raiment I'll wear; for I have no more doublets than backs, no more stockings than legs, nor no more shoes than feet; nay, sometimes, more
"Enter two with a table and a banquet on it, and two other, with Slie asleepe in a chaire, richlie apparelled, and the musick plai
"One. So, sirha, now go call my lord;
"And tell him all things are ready as he will'd it.
"Another. Set thou some wine upon the boord,
"And then Ile go fetch my lord presently.
"Enter the Lord and his men.
"Lord. How now, what is all things readie?
"One. Yea, my lord.
"Lord. Then sound the musicke, and Ile wake him strait, "And see you doe as earst I gave in charge.
"My lord, my lord, (he sleeps soundly) my lord.
"Slie. Tapster, give 's a little small ale: heigh ho.
"Lord. Heere 's wine, my lord, the purest of the grape. "Slie. For which lord?
"Lord. For your honour, my lord.
"Slie. Who I, am I a lord?-Iesus, what fine apparell have I
"Lord. More richer far your honour hath to weare, "And if it please you, I will fetch them straight. "Wil. And if your honour please to ride abroad, "Ile fetch your lustie steedes more swift of pace "Then winged Pegasus in all his pride,
"That ran so swiftlie over Persian plaines.
"Tom. And if your honour please to hunt the deere, "Your hounds stands readie cuppled at the doore, "Who in running will oretake the row,
"And make the long-breathde tygre broken-winded." Steevens. 6 small ale.] This beverage is mentioned in the accounts of the Stationers' Company in the year 1558: "For a stande of small ale," I suppose it was what we now call small beer, no mention of that liquor being made on the same books, though duble bere, and duble duble ale, are frequently recorded. Steevens. It appears from The Captain, by Beaumont and Fletcher, Act IV, sc. ii, that single beer and small beer were synonymous terms. Malone.
feet than shoes, or such shoes as my toes look through the overleather.
Lord. Heaven cease this idle humour in your honour! O, that a mighty man, of such descent, Of such possessions, and so high esteem, Should be infused with so foul a spirit!
Sly. What, would you make me mad? Am not I Christopher Sly, old Sly's son of Burton-heath;7 by birth a pedler, by education a card-maker, by transmutation a bear-herd, and now by present profession a tinker? Ask Marian Hacket, the fat ale-wife of Wincot, if she know me not: if she say I am not fourteen pence on the score for sheer ale, score me up for the lyingest knave in Christendom. What, I am not bestraught: Here's
7 of Burton-heath;
Marian Hacket the fat ale-wife of Wincot,] I suspect we should read-Barton-heath. Barton and Woodmancot, or, as it is vulgarly pronounced, Woncot, are both of them in Gloucestershire, near the residence of Shakspeare's old enemy, Justice Shallow. Very probably too, this fat ale-wife might be a real character. Steevens.
Wilnecotte is a village in Warwickshire, with which Shakspeare was well acquainted, near Stratford. The house kept by our genial hostess, still remains, but is at present a mill. The meanest hovel to which Shakspeare has an allusion, interests curiosity, and acquires an importance: at least, it becomes the object of a poetical antiquarian's inquiries. T. Warton.
Burton Dorset is a village in Warwickshire. Ritson.
There is likewise a village in Warwickshire called Burton Hastings.
Among Sir A. Cockayn's Poems (as Dr. Farmer and Mr. Steevens have observed) there is an epigram on Sly and his ale, addressed to Mr. Clement Fisher of Wincot.
The text is undoubtedly right.
There is a village in Warwickshire called Barton on the Heath, where Mr. Dover, the founder of the Cotswold games, lived.
I am not bestraught:] I once thought that if our poet did not design to put a corrupted word into the mouth of the Tinker, we ought to read-distraught, i. e. distracted, Romeo and Juliet:
"O, if I wake, shall I not be distraught," &c. For there is no verb extant from which the participle bestraught can be formed. In Albion's England, however, by Warner, 1602, I meet with the word as spelt by Shakspeare:
"Now teares had drowned further speech, till she as one bestrought
"Did crie." &c. Steevens.