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still preserved, and which will be found in Evans's Collection, 1810:
"I have read that many years agoe,
Had one fair daughter and no more,
As by lot, God wot,
It came to passe, most like it was,
Great warrs there should be,
And who should be the chiefe; but he, but he."
The subject appears to have been popular. In the Stationers' Registers, 1567-8, a ballad entitled "The song of Jefphas dowghter at his [her?] death," is licensed to Alexander Lacy; in 1624, another called "Jeffa, Judge of Israel," was entered on the same records; and from Henslowe's Diary, we learn that in May, 1602, Decker and Chettle were engaged in writing a tragedy based on the story of Jephthah.
(5) SCENE II. A chopine.] Chopines or chapines were clogs with enormously thick soles, which the ladies of Spain and Italy wore on their shoes when going abroad. Coryat's account of those he saw in Venice is this: "There is one thing used of the Venetian women, and some others dwelling in the cities and townes subject to the signory of Venice, that is not to be observed (I thinke) amongst any other women in Christendome: which is so common in Venice, that no woman whatsoever goeth without it, either in her house or abroad; a thing made of wood and covered with leather of sundry colors, some with white, some redde, some yellow. It is called a Chapiney, which they weare under their shoes. Many of them are curiously painted; some also of them I have seen fairely gilt: so uncomely a thing (in my opinion) that it is pitty this foolish custom is not cleane banished and exterminated out of the citie. There are many of these Chapineys of a great heigth, even halfe a yard high, which maketh many of their women that are very short seeme much taller then the tallest women we have in England. Also I have heard that this is observed amongst them, that by how much the nobler a woman is, by so much the higher are her Chapineys. All their gentlewomen, and most of their wives and widowes that are of any wealth, are assisted and supported eyther by men or women, when they walke abroad, to the end they may not fall. They are borne up most commonly by the left arme, otherwise they might quickly take a fall."Crudities, p. 262.
(6) SCENE II.-Pray God, your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, be not cracked within the ring.] Hamlet, it must be remembered, is addressing the youth who personated the female characters, and simply expresses a hope that his voice has not grown too manly to pass current for a woman's; there is not the slightest ground for suspecting any covert allusion. "It is to be observed," says Douce, "that there was a ring or circle on the coin, within which the sovereign's head was placed; if the crack extended from the edge beyond this ring, the coin was rendered unfit for currency. Such pieces were hoarded by the usurers of the time, and lent out as lawful money. Of this we are informed by Roger Fenton in his "Treatise
of Usury,' 1611, 4to. p. 23. A poore man desireth a goldsmith to lend him such a summe, but he is not able to pay him interest. If such as I can spare (saith the goldsmith) will pleasure you, you shall have it for three or four moneths. Now, hee hath a number of light, clipt crackt peeces (for such he useth to take in change with consideration for their defects :) this summe of money is repaid by the poore man at the time appointed in goo lawful money. This is usurie.' And, again : It is a common custom of his [the usurer's] to buy up crackt angels at nine shillings the peece. Now, sir, if a gentleman (on good assurance) request him of mony, good sir (saith hee, with a counterfait sigh) I would be glad to please your worship, but my good mony is abroad, and that I have, I dare not put in your hands. The gentleman thinking this conscience, where it is subtilty, and being beside that in some necessity, ventures on the crack angels, some of which cannot flie, for soldering, and paies double interest to the miser under the cloake of honesty.' -LODGE'S Wit's Miserie, 1596, 4to. p. 28.
(7) SCENE II.-'T was caviare to the general.] The play was of too peculiar a relish, like caviare, for the palate of the multitude. Caviare is a preparation of sturgeon's roe; and the taste for it was considered a mark of refinement in Shakespeare's day: thus Mercury, in "Cynthia's Revels," Act II. Sc. 1, describing a coxcomb, says: "He doth learn to make strange sauces, to eat anchovies, maccaroni, bovoli, fagioli, and caviare," &c.
"At Lin, in Norfolke, the then Earl of Sussex players acting the old History of Feyer Francis, and presenting a woman who, insatiately doting on a yong gentleman (the more securely to enjoy his affection), mischievously and secretly murdered her husband, whose ghost haunted her; and, at divers times, in her most solitary and private contemplations, in most horrid and feareful shapes, appeared and stood before her. As this was acted, a toune's woman (till then of good estimation and report), finding her conscience (at this presentment) extremely troubled, suddenly skritched and cryd out, Óh! my husband, my husband! I see the ghost of my husband fiercely threatning and menacing me! At which shrill and unexpected outcry, the people about her, moov'd to a strange amazement, inquired the reason of her clamour, when presently, un-urged, she told them that seven yeares ago she, to be possest of such a gentleman (meaning him), had poysoned her husband, whose fearefull image personated it selfe in the shape of that ghost. Whereupon the murdresse was apprehended, before the justices further examined, and by her voluntary confession after condemned. That this is true, as well by the report of the actors as the records of the towne, there are many eyewitnesses of this accident yet living vocally to confirme it."
(1) SCENE II.-I could have such a fellow whipped for o'erdoing Termagant; it out-herods Herod.] In many of the early miracle plays, one of the most prominent characters was a roaring, hectoring tyrant, who made "all split," and was alike the terror and the admiration of the multitude; in some cases, this truculent monster represented Termagant, a supposed god of the Saracens ; but more frequently he was Herod of Jewry. An extract from the ancient Pageant, performed at Coventry by the Shearmen and Taylors, in 1534, but the composition of which is of much earlier date, well exemplifies the saying, when any one rants and tears a passion to tatters, that he outherods Herod. The entrance of Herod is announced in unintelligible French; after which the monarch proceeds in this wise :
"Qui statis in Jude et Rex iseraell
And the myght tyst conquerowre that eyer walkid on grownd
Ytt ys throgh my furé that they soche noyse dothe make
For all the whole orent ys vnd'r myn obbeydeance
Bryghtur then the sun in the meddis of the dey
Then to behold my person that ys soo gaye
My fawcun and my fassion with my gorgis araye
He thatt had the grace all wey thereon to thynke
Lyve then myght all wey withowt othur meyte or drynke
For they thatt wyll the contraré
Apon a galowse hangid schalbe
And be Mahownde of me thé gett noo grace."
The above is copied verbatim from the Pageant, as it is given in Sharp's "Dissertation on the Pageants, &c. anciently performed at Coventry," with the exception of some contractions which render the original obscure.
(2) SCENE II.-And let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them: -a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it.] In the 1603 quarto there follows here a passage supposed to have been levelled at the famous clown, William Kemp :
"And then you have some agen, that keepes one sute
Cannot you stay till I eate my porrige? and, you owe me
When, God knows, the warme Clowne cannot make a jest,
(3) SCENE II.-And never come mischance between us twain] In the quarto of 1603, the preceding dialogue between Gonzago and Baptista is a mere bald sketch of the subsequent version:
"Duke. Full fortie yeares are past, their date is gone, Since happy time joyn'd both our hearts as one: And now the blood that fill'd my youthful veines, Runnes weakely in their pipes, and all the straines, Of musicke, which whilome pleasde mine eare, Is now a burthen that age cannot beare: And therefore sweete Nature must pay his due, To heaven must I, and leave the earth with you. Dutchesse. O say not so, lest that you kill my heart, When death takes you, let life from me depart.
Duke. Content thy selfe, when ended is my date, Thou maist (perchance) have a more noble mate, More wise, more youthfull, and one.
Dutchesse. O speake no more, for then I am accurst, None weds the second, but she kils the first:
A second time I kill my Lord that's dead,
When second husband kisses me in bed.
Ham. O wormewood, wormewood!
Duke. I doe beleeve you sweete, what now you speake,
But what we doe determine oft we breake,
For our demises stil are overthrowne,
Our thoughts are ours, their end's none of our owne:
So thinke you will no second husband wed,
But die thy thoughts, when thy first Lord is dead.
Dutchesse. Both here and there pursue me lasting strife,
If once a widdow, ever I be wife," &c.
(4) SCENE II.-O, the recorders.] The best, indeed the only reliable description of these instruments, is that furnished by Mr. W. Chappell in his delightful work, called Popular Music of the Olden Time:"
"Old English musical instruments were commonly made of three or four different sizes, so that a player might take any of the four parts that were required to fill up the harmony. So Violins, Lutes, Recorders, Flutes, Shawms, &c. have been described by some writers in a manner which (to those unacquainted with this peculiarity) has appeared irreconcileable with other accounts. Shakespeare (in Hamlet) speaks of the Recorder as a little pipe, and says, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, he hath played on his prologue like a child on a recorder;' but in an engraving of the instrument, it reaches from the lip to the knee of the performer; and among those left by Henry VIII. were Recorders of box, oak, and ivory, great and small, two base recorders of walnut, and one great base recorder. Recorders and (English) Flutes are to outward appearance the same, although Lord Bacon, in his Natural History, cent. iii. sec. 221, says the Recorder hath a less bore, and a greater above and below. The number of holes for the fingers is the same, and the scale, the compass, and the manner of playing, the same. Salter describes the recorder, from which the instrument derives its name, as situate in the upper part of it, i.e. between the hole below the mouth and the highest hole for the finger. He says, 'Of the kinds of music, vocal has always had the preference in esteem, and in consequence, the Recorder, as approaching nearest to the sweet delightful ness of the voice, ought to have first place in opinion, as we see by the universal use of it confirmed.""
See "The Genteel Companion for the Recorder," by Humphrey Salter, 1683.
(5) SCENE IV.-POLONIUS hides behind the arras.] The incident of Polonius concealing himself to overhear the conversation between Hamlet and the Queen, was suggested by the "Hystorie of Hamblet."-"Meane time the counsellor entred secretly into the queenes chamber, and there hid himselfe behind the arras, not long before the queene and Hamblet came thither, who being craftie and pollitique, as soone as hee was within the chamber, doubting some treason, and fearing if he should speake severely and wisely to his mother touching his secret practices he should be understood, and by that means intercepted, used his ordinary manner of dissimulation, and began to come like a cocke beating with his armes (in such manner as cockes use to strike with their wings) upon the hangings of the chamber; whereby, feeling something stirring under them, he cried, A rat, a rat! and presently drawing his sworde, thrust it into the hangings; which done, pulled the coun sellor (halfe dead) out by the heeles, made an end of killing him," &c.
(6) SCENE IV.-HAMLET dragging out the body of POLONIUS.] The earliest quarto has, "Exit Hamlet with the dead body;" the folio, "Exit Hamlet tugging in Polonius." It is remarkable that, while nearly every department of our early literature has been ransacked to supply illustrations of Shakespeare's language and ideas, so little has been done towards their elucidation from the history of his own stage. When Hamlet, at the termination of the present scene, says, "I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room," the commentators very properly reply to the objections of those who, unacquainted with old language, complain of the grossness of expression, that the word guts was not by any means so offensive to delicacy formerly as it is considered now. It was commonly used, in fact, where we should employ entrails, and in this place really signifies no more than lack-brain or shallow-pate. But a little consideration of the exigences of the theatre in Shakespeare's time, which not only obliged an actor to play two or more parts in the same drama, but to perform such servile offices as are now done by attendants of the stage, would have enabled them to show that the line in question is a mere interpolation to afford the player an excuse for removing the body. We append a few examples where the same expedient is adopted for the same purpose. Among them the notable instance of Sir John Falstaff carrying off the body of Harry Percy on his back, an exploit as clumsy and unseemly as Hamlet's "tugging" out Polonius, and, like that, perpetuated on the modern stage only from sheer ignorance of the circumstances which originated such a practice :
"Romeo and Juliet," Act III. Sc. 1. Death of Tybalt, Vol. I. p. 188:
"Henry VI." Part II. Act IV. Sc. 10. Death of Jack Cade. Vol. II. p. 385:
"Iden. Die, damned wretch, the curse of her that bare thee! And as I thrust thy body in with my sword, So wish I, I might thrust thy soul to hell.Hence will I drag thee headlong by the heels Unto a dunghill, which shall be thy grave, And there cut off thy most ungracious head, Which I will bear in triumph to the king, Leaving thy trunk for crows to feed upon.
"Troilus and Cressida," Act V. Sc. 9. Death of Hector. Vol. III. p. 318:
"Achil. Come, tie his body to my horse's tail; Along the field I will the Trojan trail."
"Julius Cæsar," Act III. Sc. 2. Cæsar's body exhi bited in the Forum :
(1) SCENE V.-They say, the owl was a baker's daughter.] This alludes to a tradition still current in some parts of England: "Our Saviour went into a baker's shop where they were baking, and asked for some bread to eat. The mistress of the shop immediately put a piece of dough into the oven to bake for him; but was reprimanded by her daughter, who, insisting that the piece of dough was too large, reduced it to a very small size. The dough, however, immediately afterwards began to swell, and presently became of a most enormous size. Whereupon the baker's daughter cried out, 'Heugh, heugh, heugh,' which owl-like noise probably induced our Saviour, for her wickedness, to transform her into that bird."
(2) SCENE V.-There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; *** and there is pansies, that's for thoughts. ***** There's fennel for you, and columbines:—there's rue for you;-&c. &c.] There is method in poor Ophelia's distribution. She presents to each the herb popularly appropriate to his age or disposition. To Laertes, whom in her distraction she probably confounds with her lover, she gives "rosemary' as an emblem of his faithful remembrance :
"Rosemarie is for remembrance Betweene us daie and night,
Wishing that I might alwaies have
You present in my sight."
A Handefull of Pleasant Delites, &c. 1584.
And "pansies," to denote love's "thoughts" or troubles :—
"I pray what flowers are these?
The panzie this;
O, that's for lovers' thoughts."
All Fools, Act II. Sc. 1.
For the King she has "fennel," signifying flattery and lust; and columbines," which marked ingratitude; while for the Queen and for herself she reserves the herb of sorrow, "rue," which she reminds her Majesty may be worn by her "with a difference," i.e. not as an emblem of grief alone, but to indicate contrition ;-"some of them smil'd and said, Rue was called Herbe grace, which though they scorned in their youth, they might wear in their age, and that it was never too late to say Miserere." -GREENE'S Quip for an Upstart Courtier.
(3) SCENE VI.-Enter HORATIO and a Servant.] In the quarto, 1603, at this period of the action there is a scene between the Queen and Horatio, not a vestige of which is retained in the after copies. Like every other part of that curious edition, it is grievously deformed by misprints and mal-arrangement of the verse; but, as exhibiting the poet's earliest conception of the Queen's character, is much too precious to be lost.
"Enter HORATIO and the QUEENE.
Hor. Madame, your sonne is safe arriv'de in Denmarke, This letter I even now receiv'd of him, Whereas he writes how he escap't the danger, And subtle treason that the king had plotted, Being crossed by the contention of the windes, He found the Packet sent to the king of England, Wherein he saw himselfe betray'd to death, As at his next conversion with your grace, He will relate the circumstance at full.
Queene. Then I perceive there's treason in his lookes That seem'd to sugar o're his villanie:
But I will soothe and please him for a time,
For murderous mindes are alwayes jealous,
But know not you Horatio where he is?
Hor. Yes, Madame, and he hath appoynted me
To meete him on the east side of the Cittie
To morrow morning.
Queene. O faile not, good Horatio, and withall, commend me
A mothers care to him, bid him a while
Be wary of his presence, lest that he
Faile in that he goes about.
Hor. Madam, never make doubt of that:
I thinke by this the news be come to court:
He is arriv'de, observe the king, and you shall
Quickely finde, Hamlet being here,
Things fell not to his minde.
Queene. But what became of Gilderstone and Rossencraft? Hor. He being set ashore, they went for England,
And in the Packet there writ down that doome
To be perform'd on them poynted for him:
So all was done without discoverie.
Queene. Thankes be to heaven for blessing of the prince, Horatio once againe I take my leave,
With thousand mothers blessings to my sonne.
(1) SCENE I.-Argal, he that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.] Sir John Hawkins suggested that Shakespeare here designed a ridicule on the legal and logical subtleties enunciated in the case of Dame Hale, as reported in Plowden's Commentaries. The case was this: her husband, Sir James Hale, committed suicide by drowning himself in a river, and the point argued was whether by this act a lease which he died possessed of did not accrue to the Crown. It must be admitted that the clown's, "If I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act; and an act hath three branches;" reads amazingly like a satire on the following:-Serjeant Walsh said that
"The act consists of three parts. The first is the imagination, which is a reflection or meditation of the mind, whether or no it is convenient for him to destroy himself, and what way it can be done. The second is the resolution, which is the determination of the mind to destroy himself, and to do it in this or that particular way. The third is the perfection, which is the execution of what the mind has resolved to do. And this perfection consists of two parts, viz. the beginning and the end. The beginning is the doing of the act which causes the death, and the end is the death, which is only a sequel to the act." &c. &c.
Nor would it be easy to find a better parallel for,-"Here lies the water; good: here stands the man; good: if the man go to this water, and drown himself, it is, will he nill he, he goes,-mark you that; but if the water come to him and drown him, he drowns not himself: " &c.-than what follows, in the argument of the judges, viz. Weston, Anthony Brown, and Lord Dyer, "Sir James Hale was dead, and how came he to his death? It may be answered By drowning. And who drowned him? Sir James Hale. And when did he drown him? In his lifetime. So that Sir James Hale being alive, caused Sir James Hale to die; and the act of the living man was the death of the dead man. And then for this offence it is reasonable to punish the living man who committed the &c. offence, and not the dead man.'
(2) SCENE I.-In youth, when I did love, did love, &c.] The three stanzas sung by the grave-digger are a barbarous version of a sonnet said to have been written by Lord Vaux, one copy of which, with music, has been discovered by Dr. Rimbault, in MS. Sloane, No. 4900: another, unaccompanied by music, is in the Harleian MSS. No. 1703. The whole poem, too, may be seen in Totter's Miscellany, 1557, and has been reprinted in Percy's Reliques, Vol. I. p. 190, Edition 1812, and in Bell's Edition, 1854, where the words are thus given :
"For Reason me denies
This youthly idle rhyme;
The furrows in my face
"The harbinger of Death
To me I see him ride,
The cough, the cold, the gasping breath
"A pickaxe and a spade,
And eke a shrouding sheet,
"Methinks I hear the clerk,
That knolls the careful knell,
"My keepers knit the knot
That Youth did laugh to scorn,
Whose badge I long did wear;
"Lo, here the bared skull,
By whose bald sign I know,
"For Beauty with her band
These crooked cares hath wrought,
"And ye that bide behind,
Have ye none other trust,
(3) SCENE I.-And must the inheritor himself have no more, ha?] We have something very like these reflections in Thomas Randolph's comedy of "The Jealous Lovers," played before Charles the Second at Cambridge, and published at Oxford, 1668:—
"Sexton. [Shewing a skull.] This was a poetical noddle. O the sweet lines, choice language, eloquent figures, besides the jests, half jests, quarter jests, and quibbles that have come out of these chaps that yawn so! He has not so much as a new-coined complement to procure him a supper. The best friend he has may walk by him now, and yet have ne'er a jeer put upon him. His mistris had a little dog, deceased the other day, and all the wit in his noddle could not pump out an elegie to bewail it. He has been my tenant this seven years, and in all that while I never heard him rail against the times, or complain of the neglect of learning. Melpomene and the rest of the Muses have a good turn on't that he's dead; for while he lived, he ne'er left calling upon 'em. He was buried (as most of the tribe) at the charge of the parish and is happier dead than alive; for he has now as much money as the best in the company, and yet has left off the poetical way of begging, called borrowing."-Act IV. Sc. 3.
Again, in the next scene:
"Sexton. Look here; this is a lawyer's skull. There was a tongue in 't once, a damnable eloquent tongue, that would almost have perswaded any man to the gallows. This was a turbulent busie fellow, till Death gave him his Quietus est; and yet I ventured to rob him of his gown, and the rest of his habiliments, to the very buckram bag, not leaving him so much as a poor halfpeny to pay for his waftage, and yet the good man nere repin'd at it.— Now a man may clap you o'th' coxcomb with his spade, and never stand in fear of an action of battery."