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bedde, God knowes how desirous I was to have her entreat was the base, foot, or under-song. It was sung throughout, me againe to take the letter, but she woulde never speake | and not merely at the end of the verse. Burden is derived unto me about it, nor (as it seemed) did so much as once from bourdoun, a drone base (French, bourdon). thinke thereof. Yet to trie, if by giving her some occasion I might prevaile, I saide unto her : And is it so,
“ This Sompnour bear to him a stiff burdoun, Rosina, that Don Felix, without any regard to mine
Was never trompe of half so gret a'soun."
CHAUCER. honour, dares write unto me? These are things, mistresse (saide she demurely to me againe), that are com. We find, as early as 1250, that Somer is icumen in, was monly incident to love, wherefore I beseech you pa
sung with a foot or burden in two parts throughout (“Sing, me, for if I had thought to have angred you with it, I
Cuckoo, Sing Cuckoo"); and in the preceding century would have first pulled out the bals of mine eios. How
Giraldus had noticed the peculiarity of the English in cold my hart was at that blow, God knowes, yet did I dis
singing under-parts to their songs.-CHAPPELL'S Popular semble the matter, and suffer myselfe to remaine that
Music, &c. night onely with my desire, and with occasion of sleepe. And so it was, indeede, for that (me thought) was (7) SCENE II. – I bid the base for Proteus.] Lucetta, the longest and most painfull night that ever I passed. playing on the word base, turns the allusion to an ancient But when, with a slower puce (then I desired) the wished
and still practised sport, known as the base, or prison base, day was come, the discreet and subtle Rosina came into or prison bars. This game is frequently mentioned by my chamber to helpe me to make me readie, in dooing
the old writers. It consisted in a number of men or boys whereof, of purpose she let the letter closely fall, which, congregating within certain spaces, from whence one of when I perceived, What is that that fell downe ?' (said I)
them issued some hundred or more yards, and challenged let me see it. It is nothing, mistresse, saide she. Come, come, any other to come out and catch him before the challenger let me see it (saide I): what ! moove me not, or else tell could make his way to a privileged spot equi-distant from me what it is. Good Lord, mistresse (said she) why will where the two parties were placed. The party who went you see it: it is the letter I would have given you yester
out and challenged the other was said to bid the base. day. Nay, that it is not (saide I) wherefore shewe it me, that I may see if you lie or no. I had no sooner said so, "— lads more like to run but she put it into my handes, saying, God never give me
The country base, than to commit such slaughter." good if it be anie other thing, and although I knewe it
Cymbeline, Act IV. Sc. 2. well indeede, yet I saide, what, this is not the same, for
“To drinke half pots, or deale at the whole Canne: I know that well enough, but it is one of thy lovers
To play at Base or Ben, and luck-horn, Sir Ihan." letters: I will read it, to see in what neede he standeth
The Lelling of Humours Blood in the Head Vaine, of thy favour."
S. ROWLAND, 1600
" Yet was no better than our prison base." (5) SCENE II.-The tune of “ Light o' love."] “ Light of
Annalia Dubrensia, 4to. 1636. Love” is so frequently mentioned by writers of the sixtoenth century, that it is much to be regretted that the
(8) SCENE II.-I see you have a month's mind to them. ] words of the original song are still undiscovered. When
The month's mind, i. e. the religious observances for the played slowly, and with expression, the air is beautiful.
dead performed daily for one month after the death of the In the Collection of Mr. George Daniel, of Canonbury, is
person on whose behalf they were offered, was generally “A very proper dittie, to the tune of Lightie Love," which
prompted by regard for the deceased. To perform a was printed in 1570. The original may not have been
month's mind might be taken, therefore, as a proof of quite so “proper," if “Light o' Love" was used in the
strong affection for some one; and when these religious sense in which it was occasionally employed, instead of its ceremonies ceased with the Reformation, the expression more poetical meaning :-
came by degrees to have only the meaning we find attached “One of your London Light o'Loves, a right one,
to it in Shakespeare and his contemporaries, implying a Come over in thin pumps and half a petticoat."
hankering after, or as we now express it, a great mind for, FLETCHER's Wild Goose Chase, Act IV. Sc. I.
anything. CHAPPELL's Popular Music of the Olden Time, p. 221.
- I had of late Shakespeare refers to this tune in “Much Ado about
A moneth's mind, sir, to you, y'ave the right make Nothing," Act III. Sc. 4.
To please a lady."
RANDOLPH's Jealous Lovers, 1646. “Marg. Clap us into-Light o' love, that goes without a Lurden; do you sing it, and I'll dance it."
“ These verses Euphues sent also under his glasse, which
having finished, he gave himself to his booke, determining (6) SCENE II. - Belike it hath some burthen then.) to end his life in Athens, although he had a moneth's minde The burden of a song, in the old acceptation of the word, i to England.”—Euphues and his England, 1623.
(1) SCENE I.-To speak puling, like a beggar at Hallow- | Popish superstition to pray for departed souls, particularly mas.) “It is worth remarking,” observes Tollet, “that those of friends." In Lancashire and Herefordshire it was on All-Saints'-Day the poor people in Staffordshire, and, usual at this period for the wealthy to dispense oaken perhaps, in other country places, go from parish to parish cakes, called soul-mass-cakes, to the poor, who, upon a-souling, as they call it ; i. é. begging and puling (or receiving them, repeated the following couplet in acsinging small, as Bailey's Dictionary explains puling) for knowledgment : soul-cakes, or any good thing to make them merry. This
God have poor soul, custom is mentioned by Peck, and seems a remnant of
Bones and all.
(2) SCENE I.-Sir Valentine and servant.] By servant, they served to keepe him still waking froni sleepe, so that in this and numerous instances of a similar kind, whereas the wax ever melted so did the king's flesh; by the the word occurs in the old writers, we are to understand, which means it should have come to passe, that when the not an accepted lover, as some commentators suppose, but wax was once cleane consumed, the death of the king should a follower, an admirer.
“Sweet sister, let's sit in judgement a little; faith upon my
So Webster also, in his Dutchess of MALFY, 1623 :serrant, Monsieur Laverdure.
" _ it wastes me more
Than wert my picture fashion'd out of wax,
Stuck with a magick needle, and then buried
In some foul dunghill.” (3) SCENE II.-And seal the bargain with a holy kiss.] “ This," Douce remarks, “was the mode of plighting (5) SCENE V. - To go to the ale with a Christian.] troth between lovers in private. It was sometimes done Launce is here supposed, though I think erroneously, to in the church with great solemnity; and the service on refer not to the ale-house he had before mentioned, but to this occasion is preserved in some of the old rituals.” The latter ceremony is described by the priest in “ Twelfth delighted in observing about the sixteenth century, called Night," Act V. Sc. 1,
Ales. Such as the Leet-ale, Lamb-ale, Bride-ale, Clerk
ale, Church-ale, and Whitsun-ale. " A contract of eternal bond of love,
The Church-ale, we learn from Drake, was instituted Confirm'd by mutual joinder of your bands,
generally for the purpose of contributing towards the Attested by the holy close of lips, Strengthen'd by interchangement of your rings."
repair or decoration of the church. On this occasion, it
was the business of the churchwardens to brew a considerAnd will be further alluded to in the Notes to that able quantity of strong ale, which was sold to the populace Comedy.
in the churchyard, and to the better sort in the church itself-a practice which, independent of the profit arising
from the sale of the liquor, led to great pecuniary advan(4) SCENE IV.- Which, like a waxen image 'gainst a tages; for the rich thought it a meritorious duty, besides fire.) Among the practices imputed to the hapless wretches paying for their ale, to offer largely to the holy fund. who in former times had the misfortune to incur the Other Ales, however, were held by agreement, annually or charge of witchcraft, was that of making clay or waxen oftener, by the inhabitants of one or more parishes, each images of the individuals they were supposed to be hostile individual contributing a certain sum towards the exto, and roasting them before a fire. By doing which it was penses. An interesting proof of this is found in a MS. supposed they melted and wasted away the body of the from the "Dodsworth Collection” in the Bodleian person represented. Thus Holinshed, speaking of the Livrary : “The parishioners of Elveston and Okebrook, in witchcraft employed to destroy King Duffe," whereupon Derbyshire, agree jointly to brew four Ales, and every Ale learning by her confessor in what house in the town (Fores) of one quarter of malt, betwixt this (tho time of contract) they wrought their mischietous mysteries, he sent forth and the feast of St. John Baptist, next coming ; and that soldiers about the middest of the night, who, breaking into every inhabitant of the said town of Okebrook shall be at the house, found one of the witches rosting upon a the several Ales; and every husband and his wife shall wooden broch an image of wax at the fier, resembling in pay twopence, and every cottager one penny ; and all the each feature the king's person, made and devised (as is to inhabitants of Elveston shall have and receive all the be thought) by craft and art of the devil; another of them profits and advantages coming of the said Ales, to the use sat reciting certein words of inchantment, and still basted and behoof of the said church of Elveston. And the inthe image with a certein liquor verie busilie . .... They habitants of Elveston shall brew eight Ales betwixt this confessed they went about such manner of inchantment to and the feast of Saint John Baptist, at the which Ales the the end to make awaie with the king ; for as the image did inhabitants of Okebrook shall come and pay, as before waste afore the fire, so did the bodie of the king break rehearsed ; and if he be away at one Ale, to pay at the toder forth in sweat. And as for the words of the inchantment, | Ale for both,” &c.
(1) SCENE I.--St. Nicholas be thy speed] Launce in- , the souls to their bodies. Because he conferred such honour rokes St. Nicholas to be Speed's speed, because this saint was on scholars, they at this day celebrate a festival." the patron of scholars. The reason of his being so chosen Whether the election of St. Nicholas as the tutelary may be gathered, Douce tells us, from the following story saint of scholars, had really its origin in the belief of this in his life, translated from the French verse of Maitre Wace, | legend, is perhaps too much to say. He appears to have chaplain to Henry the Second :-“Three scholars were on been very early and very generally so acknowledged in this their way to school, (I shall not make a long story of it,) country. The parish clerks of London were incorporated their host murdered them in the night, and hid their as a guild, with this saint for their patron, in 1233 ; and bodies ; their *he reserved. St. Nicholas was in- we find that the first statutes of St. Paul's School required formed of it by God Almighty, and according to his plea- the children to attend divine service in the cathedral on sure, went to the place. He demanded the scholars of the bis anniversary. host, who was not able to conceal them, and therefore showed them to him. St. Nicholas, by his prayers, restored
# A word defaced in the manuscript.
(1) SCENE III._Upon whose grave thou vou'dst pure holes only for the eyes, a case for the nose, and a slit for chastity.] “It was common,” Steevens observes, “in the mouth. They were easily disengaged, being held in former ages for widowers and widows to make vows of the teeth by means of a round bead fastened in the inside. chastity in honour of their deceased wives or husbands. These masks were usually made of leather, covered with In ‘Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire,' p. 10——13, black velvet. there is the form of a commission by the bishop of the diocese for taking a vow of chastity made by a widow. It seems that, besides observing the vow, the widow was for
(3) SCENE IV.-I'll get me such a colourd periwig.] life to wear a veil and a mourning habit. The same dis
Periwigs are said to have been first introduced into tinction we may suppose to have been made in respect of
England about 1572, and were worn of different colours by male votaries; and, therefore, this circumstance might
ladies long before the use of false hair was adopted by inform the players how Sir Eglamour should be drest, and
| men. Heywood has a passage in which he makes Sarwill account for Silvia's having chosen him as a person in
danapalus exclaim :whom she could confide without injury to her own character."
“Curl'd periwigs upon my head I wore,
And, being man, the shape of woman bore." (2) SCENE IV.-And threw her sun-expelling mask away.] “When they use to ride abroad they have masks and And perwickes are mentioned in one of Churchyard's vizors made of velvet, wherewith they cover all their faces, earliest poems. So also in Barnabe Rich's “Honestie of having holes made in them against their eyes, whereout the Age," 1615:4" The attire-makers within this forty they looke. So that if a man that knew not their guise years were not known by that name, and but now very lately before, should chaunce to meet one of them, he would they kept their lowzie commodity of periwigs, and their monthink he met a monster or a Devil, for face he can shew strous attires closed in boxes ; and those women that used none, but two broad holes against their eyes, with to weare them would not buy them but in secret. But now glasses in them."-STUBB's Anatomie of Abuses, 4to. p. 59, they are not ashamed to set them forthe upon their stalls1595.
such monstrous mop-powles of haire, so proportioned and
deformed, that but within this twenty or thirty years So Randle Holme, “ Academy of Armory," book iii. c. 5, would have drawne the passers-by to stand and gaze, and speaks of vizard masks that covered all the face, having to wonder at them.”
(1) SCENE IV.- With triumphs, mirth, and rare solem made it both gracefull and strange. On their heads they nity.) We shall have occasion hereafter to speak at large wore Persick crowns that were with scroles of gold-plate on the subject of those magnificent and costly spectacles, turned outward and wreathed about with a carnation and the delight alike of the monarch and the people, called silver net-lawne; the one end of which hung carelessly on TRIUMPHS, MASQUES and PAGEANTS, of the grandeur and the left shoulder ; the other was tricked up before, in stateliness of which in Shakespeare's time, some con severall degrees of folds between the plaits, and set with ception may be formed from a description of an entertain | rich jewels and great pearles. Their bodies were of car. ment of the kind Ben Jonson has left us in his Hymenai, nation cloth of silver, richly wrought, and cut to express or the Solemnities of Masque and Barriers at a Marriage. the naked, [the flesh] in manner of the Greek Thorax ; “ Hitherto extended the first night's solemnity, whose girt under the brests with a broad belt of cloth of gold imgrace in the execution left not where to add to it, with broydered, and fastened before with jerrels : Their Labels wishing ; I mean (nor do I court them) in those, that were of white cloth of silver, laced and wrought curiously sustained the nobler parts. Such was the exquisite per between, sutable to the upper halfe of their sleeves ; whose formance, as (beside the pomp, splendor, or what we nether parts with their bases, were of watchet cloth of may call apparelling of such presentments), that alone silver, chev'rond all over with lace. Their Mantils were of (had all else been absent) was of power to surprise with severall coloured silkes, distinguishing their qualities, as delight, and steal away the spectators from themselves. they were coupled in paires ; the first, skie colour; the Nor was there wanting whatsoever might give [add] to the | second, pearle colour; the third, fiame colour ; the furniture or comple:rent ; either in riches, or strangeness fourth, tawny; and these cut in leaves, which were subof the habits, delicacy of dancest magnificence of the scene, · tacked up and imbroydered with Oo's, and between or divine rapture of musick. Only the envy was, that it every ranck of leaves, a broad silver lace. They were lasted not still ! or (now it is past) cannot by imagination, fastened on the right shoulder, and fell compasse down the much less description, be recovered to a part of that spirit it back in gracious (graceful] folds, and were again tyed with had in the gliding by.” Speaking of the attire of those a round knot, to the fastening of their swords. Upon their who on this occasion assui ed the part of actors
legs they wore silver greaves." -The Workes of BENJAMIN ug, “that of the Lords had part of it taken from the antique | Jonson, folio, 1640, Masques, p. 143. Greek statues; mixed with some moderne additions ; which
“In this play there is a strange mixture of knowledge and ignorance, of care and negligence. The versification is often excellent, the allusions are learned and just, but the author conveys his heroes by sea from one inland town to another in the same country. He places the Emperor at Milan, and sends his young men to attend him, but never mentions him more. He makes Protheus, after an intervicw with Silvia, say he has only seen her picture; and, if we may credit the old copies, he has, by mistaking places, left his scenery inextricable. The reason of all this confusion seems to be that he took his story from a novel, which he sometimes followed and sometimes forsook, sometimes remembered and sometimes forgot.
“That this play is rightly attributed to Shakespeare, I have little doubt. If it be taken from him, to whom shall it be given ? This question may be asked of all the disputed plays, except Titus Andronicus ; and it will be found more credible that Shakespeare might sometimes sink below his highest flights, than that any other should rise up to his lowest.”—JOHNSON.
“Mr. Pope has expressed his surprise that “the style of this comedy is less figurative, and more natural and unaffected, than the greater part of this author's, THOUGH supposed to be one of the first he wrote.' But I conceive it is natural and unaffected, and less figurative, than some of his subsequent productions, in consequence of the very circumstance which has been mentioned-because it was a youthful performance. Though many young poets of ordinary talents are led by false taste to adopt inflated and figurative language, why should we suppose that such should have been the course pursued by this master genius? The figurative style of “Othello,''Lear,' and `Macbeth,' written when he was an established and long-practised dramatist, may be ascribed to the additional knowledge of men and things which he had acquired during a period of fifteen years ; in consequence of which his mind teemed with images and illustrations, and thoughts crowded so fast upon him, that the construction in these, and some other of his plays of a still later period, is much more difficult and involved than in the productions of his youth, which in general are distinguished by their ease and perspicuity; and this simplicity and unaffected elegance, and not its want of success, were, I conceive, the cause of its being less corrupted than some others. Its perspicuity rendered any attempt at alteration unnecessary. Who knows that it was not successful ? For my own part, I have no doubt that it met with the highest applause. Nor is this mere conjecture ; for we know from the testimony of a contemporary well acquainted with the stage, whose eulogy on our author I have already produced, that he was very early distinguished for his comic talents, and that before the end of the year 1592, he had excited the jealousy of one of the most celebrated dramatick poets of the time.
“In a note on the first scene of this comedy, Mr. Pope has particularly objected to the low and trifling conceits which, he says, are found there and in various other parts of the play before us ; but this censure is pronounced without sufficient discrimination, or a due attention to the period when it was produced. Every composition must be examined with a constant reference to the opinions that prevailed when the piece under consideration was written ; and, if the present comedy be viewed in that light, it will be found that the conceits here objected to were not denominated by any person of Shakespeare's age low and trifling, but were very generally admired, and were considered pure and genuine wit. Nothing can prove the truth of this statement more decisively than a circumstance which I have had occasion to mention elsewhere,—that Sir John Harrington was commonly called by Queen Elizabeth her WITTY godson, and was very generally admired in his own time for the liveliness of his talents and the playfulness of his humour; yet, when we examine his writings,* we find no other proof of his wit than those very conceits which have been censured in some of our author's comedies as mean, low, and trifling. It is clear, therefore, that the notions of our ancestors on this subject were very different from ours. What we condemn, they highly admired ; and what we denominate true wit, they certainly would not have relished, and perhaps would scarcely have understood.
“Mr. Pope should also have recollected that, in Shakespeare's time, and long before, it was customary in almost every play to introduce a jester, who, with no great propriety, was denominated a CLOWN, whose merriment made a principal part of the entertainment of the lower ranks, and, I believe, of a large portion of the higher orders also. When no clown or jester was introduced in a comedy, the servants of the principal personages sustained his part, and the dialogue attributed to them was written with a particular view to supply that deficiency, and to amuse the audience by the promptness of their pleasantry, and the liveliness of their conceits. Such is the province assigned to those characters in Lilly's comedies, which were performed with great success and admiration for several years before Shakespeare's time; and such are some of the lower characters in this drama, ‘The Comedy of Errors,''Love's Labour's Lost,' and some others. On what ground, therefore, is our poet to be condemned for adopting a mode of writing universally admired by his contemporaries, and for not foreseeing that, in a century after his death, these dialogues which set the audience in a roar would, by more fastidious criticks, be denominated low quibbles and trifling comments ? +
“With respect to his neglect of geography in this and some other plays, it cannot be defended by attributing his errour in this instance to his youth, for one of his latest productions is liable to the same objection. The truth, I believe, is, that as he neglected to observe the rules of the drama with respect to the unities, though before he began to write they had been enforced by Sidney in a treatise, which doubtless he had read, so he seems to have thought that the whole terraqueous globe was at his command ; and as he brought in a child in the beginning of a play, who, in the fourth act, appears as a woman, so he seems to have wholly set geography at defiance, and to have considered countries as inland or maritime, just as it suited his fancy or convenience.
“With the qualifications and allowances which these considerations demand, the present comedy, viewed as a first production, may surely be pronounced a very elegant and extraordinary performance.
“ Having already given the reasons why I suppose this to have been our author's first play, it is only necessary to say here, that I believe it to have been written in 1591. See the Essay on the Chronological Order of Shakespeare's Plays.”—MALONE.
“The 'Two Gentlemen of Verona' paints the irresolution of love, and its infidelity to friendship, pleasantly
suddenly entertained, and as suddenly given up, presupposes. The faithless lover is at last, on account of a very ambiguous repentance, forgiven without much difficulty by his first mistress. For the more serious part, the premeditated flight of the daughter of a prince, the capture of her father along with herself by a band of robbers, of which one of the Two Gentlemen, the betrayed and banished friend, has been against his will elected captain: for all this a peaceful solution is soon found. It is as if the course of the world was obliged to accommodate itself to a transient youthful caprice, called love. Julia, who accompanies her faithless lover in the disguise of a page, is, as it were, a light sketch of the tender female figures of a Viola and an Imogen, who, in the latter pieces of Shakespeare, leave their home in similar disguises on love adventures, and to whom a peculiar charm is communicated by the display of the most virginly modesty in their hazardous and problematical situation.”-SCHLEGEL.
* See particularly his "Supplie" (or Supplement) to Godwin's full of pleasant conceits. The bookseller, doubtless, well knew the Account of the English Bishops, which abounds in almost publick taste, and added this title as more likely to attract purevery page with such conceits as we are now speaking of. The chasers than any other he could devise. See also“A most pleatitles of some of our poet's comedies, which appear to have been sant and excellent conceited comedy of Syr John Falstaffe, &c., written by the booksellers for whom they were printed, may also 1602, i.e. a comedy full of excellent conceits. be cited for the same purpose; thus we have, “A pleasant conceiled + See this topick further discussed in the preliminary observacomedy called Love's Labour's Lost," &c. 1598; that is, a comedy |tions to the "Comedy of Errors."