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Court-cupboard."—Act I. Sc. 5.
A court-cupboard was a moveable, a boufet, a fixture. The former was open, and made of plain oak; the latter had folding-doors, and was both painted and gilded on the inside.-STEEVENS.
"Turn the tables up."-Act I. Sc. 5.
It should be observed, that ancient tables were flat leaves, joined by hinges and placed on tressels. When they were to be removed, they were therefore turned up.-STEEVENS.
“Like powder in a skill-less soldier's flask.”—Act III. Sc. 3.
To understand this allusion, it should be remembered, that the ancient English soldiers, using match-locks, instead of locks with flints as at present, were obliged to carry a lighted match hanging at their belts, very near to the wooden flask in which they kept their powder.-STEEVENS.
"Lie thou there."-Act IV. Sc. 3.
It appears from several passages in our old plays, that knives were formerly part of the bride's accoutrements, and every thing behoveful for Juliet's state had been just left with her. So in Decker's Match Me in London, 1631:
"See at my girdle hang my wedding-knives." And in King Edward III., 1599:
"Here by my side do hang my wedding-knives."
"And shrieks like mandrakes drawn out of the earth."
Act IV. Sc. 3.
The mandrake (says Thomas Newton, in his Herball to the Bible, 8vo. 1587) has been idly represented as "a creature having life, and engendered under the earth of the seed of some deade person that hath been convicted and put to deathe for some felonie or murther; and that they had the same in such dampishe and funerall places where the saide convicted persons were buried."-STEEVENS.
"One of our order to associate me."-Act V. Sc. 2.
Each friar has always a companion assigned him by his superior, when he asks leave to go out; and thus they are a check upon each other.
"The morning cock crew loud.”—Act I. Sc. 2.
Bourne, of Newcastle, in his Antiquities of the Common People, informs us,-"It is a received tradition among the vulgar, that at the time of cock-crowing, the midnight spirits forsake these lower regions, and go to their proper places. Hence it is (says he), that in country places, where the way of life requires more early labour, they always go cheerfully to work at that time; whereas, if they are called abroad sooner, they imagine every thing they see a wandering ghost."-Farmer.
"They clepe us, drunkards."—Act I. Sc. 4.
And well our Englishmen might; for in Elizabeth's time there was a Dane in London, who is thus mentioned in a collection of characters, entitled Looke to It, for Ile Stab Ye:
"You that will drink Reynaldo unto deth,
The Dane that would carowse out of his boote."
And it appears from one of Howell's Letters, dated at Hamburgh, in the year 1632, that the then king of Denmark had not degenerated from his jovial predecessors. In his account of an entertainment given by his majesty to the earl of Leicester, he tells us, that the king, after beginning thirty-five toasts, was carried away in his chair, and that all the officers of the court were drunk.-STEEVENS.
"Doomed for a certain term to walk the night,
And, for the day, confin'd to fast in fires."-Act I. Sc. 5.
Among the other punishments of hell and purgatory, continual hunger and thirst were enumerated. Chaucer says," And moreover the misese of hell shall be in defaut of meat and drinke." Nashe, in his Pierce Penniless, has the same idea:-"Whether it be a place of horror, stench, and darkness, where men see meat, but can get none, and are ever thirsty." So, likewise, at the conclusion of an ancient pamphlet, called The Wyll of the Devyll:
"Thou shalt lye in frost and fire
"In her excellent white bosom, these.”—Act II. Sc. 2.
It was customary for ladies to have a pocket at the bosom of their dress, in which they kept letters, or any other valuable which they desired to have constantly about them.
"An eyry of children."-Act II. Sc. 2.
This relates to the young singing men of the Chapel-Royal, or St. Paul's, of the former of whom mention occurs in a puritanical pamphlet so early as 1569:-"Plais will never be supprest, while her Majesties unfledged minions flaunt it in silkes and sattens. They had as well be at their popish service in the devill's garments. Even in her Majestie's chapel do these pretty upstart youthes profane the Lorde's day by the lascivious writhings of their tender limbes, and gorgeous decking of their apparell, in feigning bawdie fables gathered from their idolatrous heathen poets."-STEEVENS.
By the altitude of a chopine."-Act II. Sc. 2.
"A thing made of wood, and covered with leather of sundry colours, some with white, some with redde, some yellow. It is called a chapiney, which they wear under their shoes. Many of them are curiously painted, some also of them have I seen fairly gilte. There are many of these chapineys of a great height, even half a yarde highe, whiche maketh many of their women, whiche are very short, seeme much taller than the tallest woman we have in England. Also, I have heard it observed among 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 widows that are of any wealth, are assisted and sup
ported, eyther by men or women, when they walke abroade, to the end they may not fall. They are borne up most commonly by the left arme, otherwise they might quickly take a fall."-CORYAT'S CRUDITES, 1611.
"Like French falconers."—Act II. Sc. 2.
The amusement of falconry was much cultivated in France. In Sir Thomas Browne's Tracts, we are told, that "the French seem to have been the first and noblest falconers in the western part of Europe." And, that "the French king sent over his falconers to show that sport to King James the First."-STEEVENS.
"I have heard of your paintings, too, well enough.”—Act III. Sc. 1.
Painting the skin was very common, anciently, and was frequently alluded to by Shakspeare's contemporaries. So, in Drayton's Mooncalf:
No sooner got the teens,
But her own natural beauty she disdains;
"Out-herods Herod."-Act III. Sc. 2.
The character of Herod in the ancient mysteries was always a violent The following language is put into his mouth in an old play :—
"Now I reign lyk a king array'd full rych,
"Of bewte and of boldnes I ber evermore the belle,
I dynge with my dowtiness the devyl down to helle,
Lying down at Ophelia's feet.”—Act III. Sc. 2.
To lie at the feet of a mistress, during any dramatic representation, seems to have been a common act of gallantry. So in The Queen of Corinth, by Beaumont and Fletcher :
"Ushers her to her coach, lies at her feet
At solemn masques, applauding what she laughs at."
“Behind the arras I'll convey myself.”—Act III. Sc. 3.
The arras-hangings, in the poet's time, were hung at such a distance from the wall, that a person might easily stand behind them unperceived. MALONE.
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"Look here, upon this picture, and on this."-Act III. Sc. 4.
The introduction of miniatures in this place is a modern innovation. A print prefixed to Rowe's edition of Hamlet, 1709, proves this. There the two royal portraits are exhibited as half lengths, hanging in the queen's closet; and either thus, or as whole lengths, they were probably exhibited from the time of the original performance of this tragedy, to the death of Betterton. We may also learn, from this print, that the trick of throwing down the chair, on the appearance of the ghost, was adopted by modern Hamlets, from the practice of their predecessors.
MALONE and STEEVENS.
"Thunders in the index,"-Act III. Sc. 4.
In many old books we find the index inserted at the beginning instead of the end, as is now usual.
"Hide fox, and all after.”—Act IV. Sc. 3.
There is a play among children, called Hide fox and all after, which Decker seems to allude to in his Satiromastix: "Our unhandsome-faced poet does play at bo-peep with your grace, and cries,—'All hid, as boys do.'"-HANMER.
"By his cockle hat and staff,
And his sandal shoon."—Act IV. Sc. 5.
This is the description of a pilgrim. While this kind of devotion was in favour, love-intrigues were carried on under that mask. The cockleshell hat was one of the essential badges of this vocation; for the chief places of devotion being beyond sea, or on the coasts, the pilgrims were accustomed to put cockle-shells in their hats, to denote the due performance of their vows.- WARBURTON.
"The owl was a baker's daughter."-Act IV. Sc. 5.
This is a common story among the vulgar in Gloucestershire, and is thus related: "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 insisted that the piece of dough was too large, and 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."-Douce.
“By Saint Charity."—Act IV. Sc. 5.
In the scene between the bastard Faulconbridge and the friars and nun, in The First Part of the Troublesome Raigne of King John,-“The nunne swears by Gis, and the friar prays to Saint Withold (another obsolete saint mentioned in King Lear), and adjure him by Saint Charitie to hear them."-BLACKSTONE.
"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.”—Act IV. Sc. 5.
Rosemary was anciently supposed to strengthen the memory, and was not only carried at funerals, but worn at weddings. Thus, in The Noble Spanish Soldier, 1634: "I meet few but are stuck with rosemary: every
one asked me who was to be married." Pansies is for thoughts, because of its name, pensées; so, in All Fools, a comedy by Chapman, 1605:
"What flowers are these?
The pansie this.
O, that's for lovers' thoughts!"
Greene, in his Quip for an Upstart Courtier, 1620, calls fennel, women's weeds, "fit generally for that sex, sith while they are maidens, they wish wantonly." Columbines are thus mentioned by Chapman in his All Fools:
"What's that? -a columbine?
No: that thankless flower grows not in my garden.",
Ophelia calls rue the herb of grace: the following passage from a Quip for an Upstart Courtier, is much to the purpose: "Some of them smiled and said rue was called herbe grace, which, though they scorned in their youth, they might weare in their age, and that it was never too late to say miserere." In the same work, the emblematical character of the daisy is thus given: "Next them grew the dissembling daisy, to warne such light-of-love wenches not to trust every fairie promise that such amorous bachelors make them." The violet is thus characterized in an old collection of sonnets, printed 1584:
"To play at loggats with them."—Act V. Sc. 1.
This is a game still played in several parts of England. A stake is fixed into the ground; those who play, throw loggats at it, and he that is nearest the stake wins: we have seen it played at sheep-shearing feasts, where the winner was entitled to a black fleece, which he afterwards presented to the farmer's maid to spin, for the purpose of making a petticoat, and on condition that she knelt down on the fleece, to be kissed by all the rustics present.-STEEVENS.
"The age is grown so picked.”—Act V. Sc. 1.
This alludes to a very absurd fashion. Shoes with pointed toes, of a monstrous length, were so generally worn in England, that it was restrained at last by proclamation, so long ago as the 5th of Edward IV., when it was ordered, "That the beaks or pykes of shoes and boots should not pass two inches, upon pain of cursing by the clergy, and forfeiting twenty shillings, to be paid, one noble to the king, another to the cordwainers of London, and the third to the chamber of London: and for other countries and towns, the like order was taken. Before this time, and since the year 1482, the pykes of shoes and boots were of such length, that they were fain to be tied up to the knee with chains of silver, and gilt, or at least silken laces.-STEEVENS.
"In the bilboes."-Act V. Sc. 2.
The bilboes is a bar of iron with fetters annexed to it, by which disorderly or mutinous sailors were anciently linked together. The word is derived from Bilboa, a place in Spain, famous for its steel manufactures. The legs of persons suffering the punishment were connected so closely, that it was impossible for one to move without distressing the other; so