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So as by smelling and thredbare araie,
An insatiable curiosity for seeing strange sights, and hearing strange adventures, together with an eager desire for visiting foreign countries, prevailed in an extraordinary degree during the age of Shakspeare, who has, in several parts of his works, satirized these propensities with much humour. In the Tempest, for instance, he has held up to scorn the first of these foibles in an admirable strain of sarcasm : “ A strange fish! Were I in England now, (as once I was,) and had but this fish painted, not a holiday fool there but would give a piece of silver ; there would this monster make a man; any strange beast there makes a man: when they will not give a doit to relieve a lame beggar, they will lay out ten to see a dead Indian t;" a passage which Mr. Douce has very appositely illustrated by a quotation from Batman. “ Of late years,” says the Gothic Pliny, “ there hath been brought into England, the cases or skinnes of such crocodiles to be seene, and much money given for the sight thereof; the policy of strangers laugh at our folly, either that we are too wealthy, or else that we know not how to bestow our money.” ť
Of the influence arising from the relation of strange adventures, we have a striking proof in the character of Othello, who won the affections of his mistress by the detail of his “ hair-breadth scapes :"
“ Wherein of antres vast, and desarts idle,
Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose head touch heaven
It appears, indeed, that the conversation of this period very frequently turned upon the wonderful discoveries of travellers, whose
* Discoverie of Witchcraft, 4to. pp. 355, 356.-Scot has taken great liberties with the text of Chaucer, both in modernising the language, and in tacking together widely separated lines and couplets.
+ Reed's Shakspeare, vol. iv. p. 83. Act ii. sc. 2. | Illustrations of Shakspeare, vol. i. p. 14.—Batman upon Bartholome, fol. 359. b. Reed's Shakspeare, vol. xix. pp. 269, 270.
voyages to, and travels in the New World then occupied much of the public atu:ntion. Exaggeration, from a love of importance, too often accompanied these narratives, a licence which our poet has happily ridiculed in the following lines:--
In 1961, se prestige allude 10 a practice then common among La boussinux Lavastas> if the times, of putting out their money, e spordirallly wian who 1) undertake a long and hazardous journey, hogy ti ne go as fotos of using a subitsant interest on their return; a e sosu. Wissis, your internimus, miyinated among the nobility, De bec 14,17 bus bumma frequent even with men of base con0.1.1 Thun wa lind Bondensomn, in 185999, representing Puntarvolo, so finoy Mun olin his lummur, dise losing such a scheme:-“ I do
box;" born yu ise of jubilee coming on, to travel: and, 1,'-. I wil 1,198 w les publicat pe prin expence, I am determined to Jo ai bine sa velha pua thwi prowwil, to be paid me five for one, upon 1. Hind Hogarif, my wil, ww my dog from the Turk's court in Biod wines o loboumela's full oss sillons of us mincarry in the journey, 'tis
st w b&#naishful, why these will be five and twenty thousand prin anledning time willinl,"' |
We how banda bu ilois posmion for travelling attained, that those wbum waren able to wocomplish a distant expedition, crossed over to 1'010 or laty, and prove themselven'nu many airs on their return, as
Sbory ma boren to the antipodes; al species of affectation which Sshuknpower wutely satirizes in the following terms :-“ Farewell,
+ Itinerary, Part I. p. 198. .
• Hoved'n slukeprare, vol. iv. pp. 114, 115,
Whalley's Works of Ben Jonson ; act ii. sc. 3.
monsieur traveller ; look, you lisp, and wear strange suits; disable all the benefits of your own country; be out of love with your nativity, and almost chide God for making you that countenance you are; or I will scarce think you have swam in a gondola.” *
An equally severe castigation has been bestowed on these superficial ramblers, in Observations and Discourses, published by Edward Blount, in 1620, who informs us, that their discourse made them every where ridiculous. “ The name of English gelding,” he adds, “ frights them; and thence they take occasion to fall into the commendation of a mule, or an ass. A pasty of venison makes them sweat, and then swear that the only delicacies be mushrooms, or caveare, or snails. A toast in beer or ale drives them into madness; and so to declaim against the absurd and ignorant customs of their own country, and thereupon digress into the commendation of drinking their wine refreshed with ice or snow.”
The pernicious habit of gaming had become almost universal in the days of Elizabeth, and, if we may credit George Whetstone, had reached a prodigious degree of excess. Speaking of the licentiousness of the stage previous to the appearance of Shakspeare, he adds,
“ But there are in the bowels of this famous citie, farre more daungerous plays, and little reprehended: that wicked playes of the dice, first invented by the devill, (as Cornelius Agrippa wryteth,) and frequented by unhappy men : the detestable roote, upon which thousand villanies grow.
“ The nurses of thease (worse than heathenysh) hellish exercises are places called ordinary tables : of which there are in London, more in nomber to honour the devyll, than churches to serve the living God.
“ I cõstantly determine to crosse the streets, where these vile houses (ordinaries) are planted, to blesse me from the inticements of them, which in very deed are many, and the more dangerous in that
* Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. p. 138. As You Like It, act iv. sc. 1.
they please with a vain hope of gain. Insomuch on a time, I heard a distemperate dicer solemnly sweare that he faithfully beleeved, that dice were first made of the bones of a witch, and cards of her skin, in which there hath ever sithence remained an inchantment y' whosoever once taketh delight in either, he shall never have power utterly to leave them, for quoth he, I a hundred times vowed to leave both, yet have not the grace to forsake either.” *
No opportunity for the practice of this ruinous habit seems to have been omitted, and we find the modern mode of gambling, by taking the odds, to have been fully established towards the latter end of the sixteenth century; for Gilbert Talbot, writing to his father, the Earl of Shrewsbury, on May the 15th, 1579, after informing His Lordship, that the matter of the Queen's marriage with Monsieur “ is growne very colde,” subjoins, “ and yet I know a man may take a thousande pounds, in this towne, to be bounde to pay doble so muche when Mons'. cuñethe into Inglande, and treble so muche when he marryethe the Q. Matie., and if he nether doe the one nor the other, to gayne the thousande poundes cleare." +
Duelling, at this period, from its frequency, had given rise to a complicated system of rules for its regulation, and to fixed schools for its practice and improvement. The “ Noble Science of Defence,” as it was called, included three degrees, a Master's, a Provost's, and a Scholar's, and for each of these a regular prize was played. In order, also, to obviate disputes, “ four Ancient Masters of Defence" were constituted, who resided “ in the city of London,” and to whom not only difficult points of honour were referred, but tribute was likewise paid by all inferior professors of the science.
Nor were books wanting to explain, and to adjust, the causes, and the modes of quarrelling.
Of these the two most celebrated were
* “ The Enemie to Vnthryftinesse: publishing by Lawes, documents and disciplines, &c. By George Whetstons, Gent. Printed at London by Richard Jones. 1586." 4to. pp. 24. 32.-Vide British Bibliographer, vol. jii.
601-604. + Lodge's Illustrations of British History, vol. ii. pp. 217, 218.
written by Saviolo and Caranza, authors who are repeatedly mentioned by Shakspeare, Jonson, and Fletcher. The absurd minuteness of Saviolo's treatise, entitled, Of Honour and honourable Quarrels, 4to. 1595, has been ridiculed with exquisite humour in As You Like It, where Touchstone says
“ O sir, we quarrel in print, by the book; — we met, and found the quarrel was upon the seventh cause.
Jaq. How did you find the quarrel on the seventh cause?
Touch. Upon a lie seven times removed ; as thus: I did dislike the cut of a certain courtier's beard; he sent me word, if I said his beard was not cut well, he was in the mind it was: This is called the Retort courteous. If I sent him word again, it was not well cut, he would send me word, he cut it to please himself: This is called the Quip modest. If again, it was not well cut, he disabled my judgment: This is call’d the Reply churlish. If again, it was not well cut, he would answer, I spake not true: This is call?d the Reproof valiant. If again, it was not well cut, he would say, I lie: This is called the Countercheck quarrelsome: and so to the Lie circumstantial, and the Lie direct. — All these you may avoid, but the lie direct; and you may avoid that too, with an If. I knew when seven justices could not take up a quarrel; but when the parties were met themselves, one of them thought but of an If, as, If you said so, then I said so; and they shook hands, and swore brothers. Your If is the only peace-maker; much virtue in If.” *
Nor is this much exaggerated; for Saviolo has a chapter on the Diversity of Lies, and enumerates the Lie certain, the conditional Lie, the Lie in general, the Lie in particular, the foolish Lie, and the returning back of the Lie.
A taste for gossipping, as well amongst the male as female sex, was more than usually prevalent at this epoch. An anonymous writer of 1620, speaking of male gossips, describes their trifling and vexatiously intrusive manners, in a way which leads us to conclude, · that the evil was severely felt, and of great magnitude:
66 It is a wonder,” says he, “ to see what multitudes there be of all sorts that make this their only business, and in a manner spend their whole time in compliment; as if they were born to no other end, bred to no other purpose, had nothing else to do, than to be a kind of living walking ghosts, to haunt and persecute others with unnecessary observation.
* Reed's Shakspeare, vol. viii. pp. 171. 177. 179, 180, 181. 183,