Imatges de pÓgina

that any attempt to rest under such circumstances was wholly fruitless. The bilboes are still shown in the Tower of London, among the other spoils of the Spanish Armada.-Steevens.

"I once did hold it, as our statists do,

A baseness to write fair.”—Act V. Sc. 2.

"I have, in my time (says Montaigne), seene some, who, by writing, did earnestly get both their titles and living, to disavow their apprentissage, marre their pen, and affect the ignorance of so vulgar a qualitie." So, in Fletcher's Woman-Hater:-" "Tis well, and you have learned to write a bad hand, that the readers may take pains for it. Your lordship hath a secretary that can write fair when you purpose to be understood.” BOSWELL.

"Hangers."-Act V. Sc. 2.

Under this term were comprehended four graduated straps, &c., that hung down in a belt on each side of its receptacle for the sword. I have seen a most gorgeous belt of this description, at least as old as the time of James I. It was of common velvet, embroidered with gold, and had belonged to the Somerset family. Pope mistook the meaning of this term, conceiving it to signify "short pendulous broad-swords."




Special officers of night."-Act I. Sc. 2.

Shakspeare must have read the Commonwealth and Government of Venice, translated by Lewkenor, in which the following passage occurs: For the greater expedition thereof, of these kinds of judgments, the heads or chieftains of the officers by night do obtain the authority of which the advocators are deprived. These officers of the night are six, and six likewise are those meane officers, that have only power to correct base vagabonds and trifling offences."-MALONE.

"Valiant Othello, we must straight employ you,

Against the general enemy Ottoman."-Act I. Sc. 3.

It was part of the policy of the Venetian state, never to entrust the command of an army to a native. "To exclude therefore (says Contareno, as translated by Lewkenor, 1599,) from the Venetian state, the danger or occasion of ambitious enterprises, our ancestors held it a better course to defend the dominions on the continent with foreign mercenary soldiers than with the home-bred citizens. Their charges and yearly occasions of disbursement are likewise very great; for alwaise they do entertain in honorable sort with great provision a captaine generalle, who alwaise is a stranger borne.—MALONE.

"The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads

Do grow beneath their shoulders.”—Act I. Sc. 3.

The Cannibals and Anthropophagi were known to an English audience before Shakspeare introduced them. In The History of Orlando

Furioso, played before Elizabeth, they are mentioned; and Raleigh speaks of people whose heads appear not above their shoulders. Histories, says Gilpin, in a sermon before Edward IV., notice "a people called Anthropophagi, eaters of men." In Hackluyt's Voyages, 1598, we find this passage: "On that branch which is called Caora, are a nation of people whose heades appear not above their shoulders: they are reported to have their eyes in their shoulders, and their mouthes in the middle of their breastes."-REED and STEEVENS.

“Thrice driven bed of down.”—Act I. Sc. 3.

A driven bed is a bed for which the feathers are selected, by driving with a fan, which separates the light from the heavy.—JOHNSON.

"As luscious as locusts."-Act I. Sc. 3.

The fruit of the locust tree is a long black pod, that contains the seeds, among which there is a very sweet luscious juice, of much the same consistency as fresh honey.-STEEVENS.

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Though that her jesses were my dear heart-strings.”—Act III. Sc. 3. Jesses are short straps of leather tied about the foot of a hawk, by which she is held on the fist.-HANMER.

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Pioneers were generally degraded soldiers, appointed to the office of pioneer as a punishment for misbehaviour. "A soldier ought ever to retaine and keepe his armes in saftie and forthcoming, for he is more to be detested than a coward, that will lose or play away any part thereof, or refuse it for his ease, or to avoid paines; wherefore such a one is to be dismissed with punishment, or to be made some abject pioneer." The Art of War, by E. Davies, 1619.-GROSE.

"Crusadoes."-Act III. Sc. 4.

The crusado is so called from the cross which is stamped upon it; it is a Portuguese coin, in value about three shillings of our money.-GREY.

"And it was died in mummy.”—Act III. Sc. 4.

The balsamic liquor running from mummies, was formerly celebrated for its anti-epileptic virtues. We are now wise enough to know that the qualities ascribed to it are all imaginary. Mummy, however, is still much coveted by painters, as a transparent brown colour which throws a warmth into their shadows.-STEEVENS.

"If that the earth should teem with woman's tears,

Each drop she falls, would prove a crocodile."-Act IV. Sc. 1. Shakspeare here alludes to the fabulous accounts of crocodiles. "It is written (says Bullokar), that he shall weep over a man's head, when he hath devoured the body, and then will eat up the head too. Wherefore, in Latin there is a proverb, crocodili lachrymæ, crocodile's tears, to signify such tears as are fained." It appears, that a dead crocodile, "but in perfect forme," of about nine feet long, had been exhibited in London in our poet's time.-MALONE.

"For a joint ring."— Act IV. Sc. 3.

The nature of a joint ring will be best explained by a passage in Dryden's Don Sebastian:


a curious artist wrought them,

With joints so close as not to be perceiv'd;

Yet are they both each other's counterpart:

Her part had Juan inscrib'd, and his had Zayda,
(You know those names are theirs) and in the midst,
A heart divided in two halves was plac'd.
Now if the rivets of those rings inclos'd,
Fit not each other, I have forg'd this lye:
But if they join, you must for ever part."

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Pliny informs us, that Ptolemy Philadelphus had a statue of his wife, Arsinoe, made of one topas, four cubits in length. Topaz and chrysolite were once used as synonymous terms.-PLUMTREE.


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