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pares Shallow to a Vice's dagger of lath. In Hamlet, Act III. Hamlet calls his uncle:
"A vice of kings."
i. e. a ridiculous representation of majesty. These passages the editors have very rightly expounded. I will now mention some others, which seem to have escaped their notice, the allusions being not quite so obvious.
The iniquity was often the Vice in our moralities; and is introduced in Ben Jonson's play called The Devil's an Ass: and likewise mentioned in his Epigr. cxv:
"Being no vitious person, but the Vice
"Acts old Iniquity, and in the fit
"Of miming, gets th' opinion of a wit."
But a passage cited from his play will make the following observations more plain. Act I. Pug asks the devil "to lend him a Vice:"
"Satan. What Vice?
"What kind would thou have it of?
"Or Covetousness, or lady Vanity,
Thus the passage should be ordered:
"Pug. Why any: Fraud,
"Or Covetousness, or lady Vanity,
"Pug. I'll call him hither."
"Enter Iniquity the Vice.
"Ini. What is he calls upon me, and would seem to
lack a Vice?
"Ere his words be half spoken, I am with him in a trice." And in his Staple of News, Act II:
"Mirth. How like you the Vice i' th' play?
66 Expectation. Which is he?
"Mirth. Three or four; old Covetousness, the sordid PennyBoy, the Money-Bawd, who is a flesh-bawd too, they say.
Tattle. But here is never a Fiend to carry him away. Besides, he has never a wooden dagger! I'd not give a rush for a Vice, that has not a wooden dagger to snap at every body he meets. “Mirth. That was the old way, gossip, when Iniquity came in, like hokos pokos, in a jugler's jerkin," &c.
He alludes to the Vice in The Alchymist, Act I. sc. iii:
"Sub. And, on your stall, a puppet, with a Vice.*”
a puppet, with a Vice.] Mr. Upton has misinterpreted this passage. A vice in the present instance means a device, clock-work. Coryat, p. 254, speaks of a picture whose eyes were moved by a vice. FARMER.
Some places of Shakspeare will from hence appear more easy, as in The First Part of King Henry IV. Act II. where Hal humorously characterizing Falstaff, calls him, That reverend Vice, that grey Iniquity, that father Ruffian, that Vanity in years, in allusion to this buffoon character. In King Richard III. Act III: "Thus like the formal Vice, Iniquity,
"I moralize two meanings in one word." Iniquity is the formal Vice. Some correct the
Thus like formal-wise antiquity,
"I moralize: Two meanings in one word."
Which correction is out of all rule of criticism. In Hamlet, Act I. there is an allusion, still more distant, to the Vice; which will not be obvious at first, and therefore is to be introduced with a short explanation. This buffoon character was used to make fun with the Devil; and he had several trite expressions, as, I'll be with you in a trice: Ah, ha, boy, are you there? &c. And this was great entertainment to the audience, to see their old enemy so belaboured in effigy. In King Henry V. Act IV. a boy characterizing Pistol, says, Bardolph and Nym had ten times more valour, than this roaring Devil i' the old play: every one may pare his nails with a wooden dagger. Now, Hamlet, having been instructed by his father's ghost, is resolved to break the subject of the discourse to none but Horatio; and to all others his intention is to appear as a sort of madman; when therefore the oath of secrecy is given to the centinels, and the Ghost unseen calls out, swear; Hamlet speaks to it as the Vice does to the Devil. Ah, ha, boy, say'st thou so? Art thou there, Truepenny? Hamlet had a mind that the centinels should imagine this was a shape that the devil had put on; and in Act III. he is somewhat of this opinion himself:
"The spirit that I have seen
The manner of speech therefore to the Devil was what all the audience were well acquainted with: and it takes off, in some measure, from the horror of the scene. Perhaps too the poet was willing to inculcate, that good humour is the best weapon to deal with the Devil. Truepenny, either by way of irony, or literally from the Greek, Tρúnavov, veterator. Which word the Scholiast on Aristophanes' Clouds, ver. 447, explains, τpúμn, ο περιτετριμμένος ἐν τοις πράγμασιν ὧν ἡμεῖς ΤΡΥΠΑΝΟΝ και λοῦμεν. Several have tried to find a derivation of the Vice: if I should not hit on the right, I should only err with others. The Vice is either a quality personalized, as BIH and KAPTOΣ in Hesiod and Æschylus; Sin and Death in Milton; and indeed Vice itself is a person, B. XI. 517:
"And took his image whom they serv'd, a brutish Vice."
his image, i. e. a brutish Vice's image: the Vice, Gluttony; not without some allusion to the Vice of the plays: but rather, I think, 'tis an abbreviation of vice-devil, as vice-roy, vice-doges, &c. and therefore properly called the Vice. He makes very free with his master, like most other vice-roys, or prime ministers. So that he is the Devil's Vice, and prime minister; and 'tis this that makes him so saucy. UPTON.
Mr. Upton's learning only supplies him with absurdities. His derivation of vice is too ridiculous to be answered.
I have nothing to add to the observations of these learned criticks, but that some traces of this antiquated exhibition are still retained in the rustick puppet-plays, in which I have seen the Devil very lustily belaboured by Punch, whom I hold to be the legitimate successor of the old Vice. JOHNSON.
END OF VOL. XIV.
Printed by S. Hamilton, Weybridge.