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“A rotten carcass of a boat." — Act I. Sc. 2. Shakspeare might have read the following in Holinshed :—"After this, was Edwin, the king's brother, accused of some conspiracie by him begun against the king: whereupon he was banished the land ; and sent out in an old rotten vessel, without rowers or mariner, onlie accompanied with one esquier : so that being launched forth from the shore, through despaire, Edwin leaped into the sea, and drowned himself.”
“ Setebos.”—Act I. Sc. 2. We learn from Magellan's Voyages, that Setebos was the supreme god of the Patagons. This fabulous
deity is also mentioned in Hackluyt's Voyages, 1598. Barbot says, “ The Patagons are reported to dread a great horned devil, called Setebos.” And, in Eden's Historye of Travayle, 1577, we are told, that “the giantes, when they found themselves fettered, roared like bulls, and cried upon Setebos to help them.”
For no kind of traffic Would I admit, no name of magistrate.”—Act II. Sc. 1. Shakspeare has here followed a passage in Montaigne, as translated by John Florio, 1603:—" It is a nation that hath no kind of trafficke, no knowledge of letters, no intelligence of numbers, no name of magistrate, nor of politic superioritie; no use of service, of riches, or of povertie ; no contracts, no successions, no partitions, no occupation, but idle ; no respect of kindred but common no apparel but natural; no use of wine, corn, or metal The very words that import lying, falsehood, treason, dissimulations, covetousness, envie, detraction, and pardon, were never heard amongst them.”
“ Sometime like apes, that mow and chatter at me,
And after bate me; then like hedge-hogs, which
Lie tumbling in my bare-foot way.”—Act II. Sc. 2. Perhaps taken from a passage in Harsnet's Declaration of Popish lmpostures. “ They make antike faces, grin, mow and mop, like an ape, cumble like an hedge-hog.”—DOUCE.
“A dead Indian." -Act II. Sc. 2. Sır Martin Frobisher, when he returned from his voyage of discovery, brought with him some native Indians. In his History of the First Voyage for the Discoverie of Cataya, we have the following account of a savage taken by him :-“Whereupon, when he founde himself in capti
vitie, for very choler and disdain, he bit his tong in twaine, within his mouth : notwithstanding, he died not thereof, but lived untill he came in Englande, and then he died of colde, which he had taken at sea."
STEEVENS. "Nor scrape trenchering.”—Act III. Sc. 1. In our author's time, trenchers were in general use, and male domestics were employed in cleansing them. “I have helped (says Lyly, in his History of his Life and Times, 1620,) to carry eighteen tubs of water in one morning; all manner of drudgery I willingly performed ; scrapetrenchers," &c.—MALONE.
“ He were a brave monster indeed, if they were set in his tail.”—Act III. Sc. 2.
Probably in allusion to Stowe. It seems in the year 1574 a whale was thrown ashore near Ramsgate, “a monstrous fish, but not so monstrous as some reported, for his eyes were in his head, and not in his backe."
“ This is !he tune of our catch, played by the picture of Nobody.”—Act
III. Sc. 2. A ridiculous figure, sometimes painted on signs. Westward for Smelts, a book wliien our poet seems to have read, was printed for John Trundle, in Barbican, at the sign of the No-body; or the allusion may be to the print of No-body, as prefixed to the anonymous comedy of No-body and Some-body, without date, but printed before the year 1600.—MALONE.
“ One tree, the phonix' throne.”—Act III. Sc. 3. In Holland's Pliny, the following passage occurs:
“ I myselfe verily have heard straunge things of this kind of tree; and, namely, in regard of the bird Phenix, which is supposed to have taken that name of this Date Tree; for it was assured unto me, that the said bird died with that iree, and revived of itselfe as the tree sprung again."
Wallets of flesh?”—Act III. Sc. 3. Whoever is curious to know the particulars relative to these mounlaineers, may consult Maundeville's Travels, printed in 1503: but it is yet a known truth, that the inhabitants of the Alps have been long accustomed to such excrescences or tumours.-STEEVENS.
“ Each putter-out of one for five.”—Act III. Sc. 3. The custom here alluded to was as follows:-It was a practice of those who engaged in long and hazardous expeditions, to place out a sum of money, on condition of receiving great interest for it at their return home. So in Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour :—“ do intend this year of jubilee coming on, to travel ; and (because I will not altogether go upon expence) I am determined to put some five thousand pound, to be paid me five for one, upon the return of my wife, myself, and my dog, irom the Turk’s court, in Constantinople.”
“ Like poison, given to work a great time after.”—Act III. Sc. 33. The natives of Africa were supposed to be possessed of the secret how to temper poisons with such art, as not to operate till several years after
they were administered. Italian travellers relate similar effects of the aqua tofana, a subtle, colourless and tasteless poison, which ladies carry about them, and have at their toilets, among their perfumed waters, for the purpose of administering in the drink of faithless lovers. In the chapel at Arundel, is the effigy of a nobleman of the Howard family, who having incurred the jealousy of an Italian lady during his travels, was poisoned in this manner, and died after lingering many years. The effigy represents him nearly naked, his bones scarcely covered by his skin, and presenting altogether a most deplorable spectacle.
“And all be turn'd to barnacles, or to apes.”— Act IV. Sc. 1. Caliban's barnacle is the clakis or tree-goose. Collins very simply tells us, that the barnacle which grows on ships was meant; and quotes the following passage to support his opinion :-" There are, in the north parts of Scotland, certaine trees, whereon do grow shell-fishes, which, falling in the water, do become fowls, whom we call barnakles ; in the north of England, brant-geese ; and in Lancashire, tree-geese.
• Some subtilties o' the isle."-Act V. Sc. 1. This is a phrase adopted from ancient cookery and confectionary. When a dish was so contrived as to appear unlike what it really was, they called it a subtilty. Dragons, castles, trees, &c., made out of sugar, had the like denomination.-STEEVENS.
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
Nay, give me not the boots.”—Act I. Sc. 1. The boot was an instrument of torture used only in Scotland. Bishop Burnet mentions one Maccael, a preacher, who being suspected of treason, underwent the punishment so late as 1666. “He was put to the torture, which, in Scotland, they call the boots; for they put a pair of iron boots close on the leg, and drive wedges between these and the leg. The common torture was only to drive these on the calf of the leg, but I have been told they were sometimes driven upon the shin bone." —RELD.
“A laced mutton."—Act I. Sc. 1. A laced mutton was, in our author's time, so usual a term for a courtezan, that a street in Clerkenwell much frequented by prostitutes, was called Mutton Lane.-MALONE.
“I see you have a month's mind to them."-Act I. Sc. 2. A month's mind was an anniversary. in times of popery; or a less solemnity directed by will. There was also a year's mind, and a week's mind. So in Strype's Memorials, “ July, 1556, was the month's mind of Sir William Saxton, who died the last month, his hearse burning with wax, and the morrow mass celebrated, and a sermon preached.”—GREY.
6 Sir Valentine and servant."- Act II. Sc. 1. Here Silvia calls her lover, servant, and again below, her gentle servant. This was the language of ladies to their lovers when Shakspeare wrote.-HAWKINS.
VOL. I. — 46
“A waxen image 'gainst a fire.”—Act II. Sc. 4. Alluding to the figures made by witches, as representatives of those whom they designed to torment or destroy. King James ascribes these images to the devil
, in his Treatise of Dæmonologie: “ To some others at these times he teacheth how to make pictures of waxe or claye, that by the roasting thereof, the persons that they bear the name of may be continually melted, and dried away by continual sicknesse.”—WESTON.
“ With a cod-piece.”—Act II. Sc. 7. Whoever wishes to be informed respecting this particular relative th dress, may consult Buliver's Artificial Changeling. It is mentioned, too, in Tyro's Roaring Megge, 1598:
• Tyro's round breeches have a cliffe behind,
Which, for a pin-case, antique plowmen wore.' Ocular instruction may be had from the armour shown as John of Gaunt's, in the Tower of London. The custom of sticking pins in this ostentatious piece of indecency was continued by the Tower-wardens, till forbidden by authority.-STEEVENS.
“ Saint Nicholas be thy speed !”—Act III. Sc. 1. That this saint presided over young scholars, may be gathered from Knight's Life of Dean Collett; for, by the statutes of Paul's Schonl there inserted, the children are required to attend divine service at the cathedral on his anniversary. The reason, probably, was, that the legend of this saint makes him to have been a bishop, while he was a boy.
HAWKINS “ The cover of the salt hides the salt.”—Act III. Sc. 1. The ancient English salt-cellar was very different from the modern, being a large piece of plate, erally much ornamented, with a cover to keep the salt clean.
Upon whose grave thou vow'dst pure chastity.”—Act IV. Sc. 3. It was common in former ages for widowers and widows to make vows of chastity, in honour of their deceased wives or husbands. In Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire, there is the form of a commission by the bishop of the diocese for taking a vow of chastity by a widow. It seems Inat, besides observing the vow, the widow was for life to wear a veil
, and a mourning habit. The same distinction we may suppose to have been made in respect of male votarists.-STEEVENS.
“ But since she did neglect her looking-glass,
And threw her sun-expelling mask away." -- Act IV. Sc. 4. “When they use to ride abroad, they have masks or vizors, made of velvet, wherewith they cover all their faces, having holes made in them against their eyes, whereout they look; so that if a man that knew not their guise before, should chance to meet one of them, he would think he net a monster or a devil, for face he can shew (see) none, but two broad holes against their eyes, with glasses in them.”—ANATOMIE OF ABUSEM, 1595.