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TAMING OF THE SHREW.
.“ Take them to the buttery.” — Induction. “ The top of the profession were then mere players, not gentlemen of the stage: they were led into the buttery by the steward ; not placed at the lord's table, or the lady's toilette." —ROWE.
“ Marian Hacket, the fat ale-wife of Wincot."-Induction. Wilnecolte is a village in Warwickshire, near Stratford, with which Shakspeare was well acquainted. The house kept by our genial hostess still remains, but is at present a mill.–WARTON.
“ Be she as foul as wus Florentius' love."—Act I. Sc. 2. “A Florentine young gentleman was so deceived by the lustre and orientness of her jewels, pearles, rings, lawns, scarfes, laces, gold, spangles, and other devices, that he was ravished overnight, and was mad till the marriage was solemnized. But next morning by light viewing her before she was gorgeously trimmed up, she was such a leane, yellow, riveled, deformed creature, that he never lay with her, nor lived with her afterwards; and would say that he had married himself to a stinking house of office, painted over, and set out with fine garments: and so for grief consumed away in melancholy, and at last poysoned himself.” Gomesius, lib. III. de Sal. Gen. cap. 22.–FARMER.
“And for your love to her, lead apes in hell."—Act II. Sc. 1. To lead apes was anciently, as at present, one of the bearward's employments, who often carries one of those animals about with his bear; but it does not appear how this phrase came to be applied to old maids. There is a similar passage in Much Ado about Nothing. “Therefore (says Beatrice), I will even take sixpence in earnest of the bearward, and lead his apes in hell."-MALONE,
“ This small packet of Greek and Latin books.”—Act II. Sc. 1.
A strange present from a lover! It might be thought so now, but in Elizabeth's time the young ladies of quality were usually instructed in the learned languages, if any attention was paid to their minds at all. Lady Jane Grey and her sisters, Queen Elizabeth, &c., are trite instances.--.PERCY.
“ Counterpoints.”—Act II. Sc. 1. Counterpoints, or, as we now say, Counter panes, were in ancient times extremely costly. In Wat Tyler's rebellion, Stowe informs us, when the insurgents broke into the wardrobe in the Savoy, they destroyed a cover. let worth a thousand marks.-Malone.
“ Pewter."-Act II. Sc. 1. We may suppose that pewter was, even in the reign of Elizabeth, too costly to be used in common. It appears from the regulations and establishment of the household of Henry Algernon Percy, the fifth earl of Northumberland; that vessels of pewler were hired by the year. This household book was begun in the year 1512.-STEEVENS.
" Quaffed off the muscadel.”—Act III. Sc. 2. The fashion of introducing a bowl of wine at church at a wedding, to be drunk by the bride and bridegroom and persons present, was very anciently a constant ceremony ; nor was it abolished in the poet's time. We find it practised at the magnificent marriage of Queen Mary and Philip, in Winchester Cathedral, 1554. “ The trumpets sounded, and they both returned to their traverses in the quire, and there remayned untill masse was done, at which tyme, wyne and sopes were hallowed and delyvered to them both.”—T. WARTON.
“An old hat, and the humour of forty fancies prick'd in'l for a feather.”—Act III. Sc. 2.
Fancy appears to have been some ornament worn formerly in the hat. So, Peacham, in his Worth of a Penny, describing “an indigent and discontented soldat,” says, “ he walks with his arms folded, his belt without a sword or rapier, that perhaps being somewhere in trouble; a hat without a band, hanging over his eyes, only it wears a weather-beaten fancy for fashion sake.”—MALONE.
“ Their blue coats brush'd.”—Act IV. Sc. 1. Blue was commonly worn by servants at the time. So in Decker's Bellman:-“The other act their parts in blew coates, as they were their serving men, though indeed they be all fellows;" and in The Curtain Drawer of the World :-“ Not a serving man dare appeare in a blew coat, not because it is the livery of charity, but lest he should be thought a retainer to their enemy."- REED.
“ The carpet's laid.”—Act IV. Sc. 1. In our author's time, it was customary to cover tables with carpets. Floors were commonly strewed with rushes.-MALONE.
“Ay, but the mustard is too hot, a little.”-Act IV. Sc. 3. This is agreeable to the doctrine of the times. In The Glass of Humours, it is said :— “But note here, that the first diet is not only in avoiding superfluity of meats, and surfeits of drinks, but also in eschewing such as are most obnoxious, and least agreeable with our happy temperate state; as for a cholerick man to abstain from all salt, scorched, dry meats, from mustard, and such like things as will aggravate his malig. nant humours."-REED.
• Come, tailor, let us see these ornaments." -Act IV. Sc. 3. Formerly women's gowns were made by men. So in The Epistle to the Ladies, prefixed to Euphues and his England, by John Lyly, 1500:“If a laylor make your gown too little, you cover his fault with a broad stomacher: if too great, with a number of pleights: if too short, with a fair guard : if too long, with a false gathering." -MALONE.
“ Custard-coffin."-Act IV. Sc. 3. A coffin was the ancient culinary term for the raised crust of a pie or custard.-STEEVENS.
“ Censer." —Act IV. Sc. 3. We learn from an old print that these censers resembled in shape our modern brasieres. They had pierced convex covers, and stood on feet.
They not only served to sweeten a barber's shop, but to keep his water warm, and dry his clothes on.-STEEVENS,
“ My banquet.”—Act V. Sc. 2. A banquet, or an afterpast, was a slight refection, like our modern desert, consisting of cakes, sweetmeats, and fruit.-STEEVENS.
“ Happy man be his dole.”—Act I. Sc. 2. The alms immemorially given to the poor by the archbishops of Canterbury, is still called the dole.-NICHOLS.
“ Lower messes.”—Act I. Sc. 2. Formerly, at the tables of the great, a large salt-cellar was placed in the middle, the noble guests sat above it; the retainers and persons of low rank, below it. At the upper end of the board, the viands were delicate and costly; at the lower, plain and substantial. Wine was drank above the salt; beer only, below it. An allusion is made to this custom in The Honest Whore, by Decker, 1604. “Plague him, set him beneath the salt, and let him not touch a bit till every one has had his full cut."
: “ Still virginalling.”—Act I. Sc. 2. A virginal is a very small kind of spinnet. Queen Elizabeth's vir. ginal book is still in being, and many of the lessons in it have proved so difficult, as to baffle our most expert players on the harpsichord.
STEEVENS. “Like his medal.”-Act I. Sc. 2. It should be remembered, that it was customary for gentlemen, in our author's age, to wear jewels appended to a ribbon round the neck. So in Honour in Perfection, or a Treatise in Commendation of Henrie, Earl of Oxenforde, Henrie, Earl of Southampton, &c., by Gervais Nashham, 1624:—“He hath hung about the neck of his noble kinsman, Sir Horace Vere, like a rich jewel.” The knights of the garter wore the George, in this manner, till the time of Charles I.-MALONE.
“ There may be in the cup
A spider steep'd, and one may drink.”—Act II. Sc. 1. That spiders were thought venomous appears by the evidence of a person who was examined in Sir Thomas Overbury's affair. “The Countesse wished me to get the strongest poyson I could; accordingly, I bought seven great spiders, and cantharides."—HENDERSON.