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“A boy, or a child."-Act III. Sc. 3.
In some of our inland counties, a female infant, in contradistinction to a male one, is still termed, among the peasantry, a child.-STEEVENS.
“ With trol-my-dames.”—Act IV. Sc. 2. In Dr. Jones's old treatise on Buckstone Bathes, he says, “ The ladyes, gentle-woomen, wyves, maydes, if the weather be not agreeable, may have in the ende of a benché, eleven holes made, intoo the which to troule pummits, either wyolent or softe, after their own discretion; the pastime troule in madame is termed."-FARMER.
“ Fadings."-Act IV. Sc. 3. A rural Irish dance. This dance is still practised on rejoicing occasions in many parts of Ireland. A king and queen are chosen from amongst the young persons who dance best; the queen carries a garland, composed of two hoops placed at right angles, and fastened to a handle; the hoops are covered with flowers and ribbons. Frequently, in the course of the dance, the king and queen lift up their joined hands as high as they can, she still holding the garland in the other. The most remote couple from the king and queen first pass under; all the rest of the line, linked together, follow in succession; when the last has passed, the king and queen suddenly face about and front their companions; this is often repeated in the course of the dance, and the various undulations are pretty enough, resembling the movements of a serpent. The dancers, on the first of May, visit such newly-wedded pairs of a certain rank, as have been married since last May-day in the neighbourhood, who commonly bestow on them a stuffed ball, richly decked with gold and silver lace, and accompanied with a present of money to regale themselves after the dance. This dance is practised when the bonfires are lighted up, the queen hailing the return of summer, in a popular Irish song, beginning :“ We lead on Summer-see! she follows in our train.”
BOSWELL. “ Lawn as white as driven snow, &-c."-Act IV. Sc. 3. Autolycus here enumerates, in his assumed character of a pedlar, such articles as being on sale as were likely to attract customers. What these were we can only guess at. He has “ unbraided wares.” This probably means of the best manufacture undamaged. “Points more than all the lawyers in Bohemia, can learnedly handle.” These were laces with metal tags to them. “Caddises :" Caddis, according to Malone, is a narrow worsted ferret. “Inkle:" Inkle, as we learn from the same authority, is a kind of tape. “Poking sticks of steel:"-Stowe informs us, that “about the sixteenthe yeare of the Queen Elizabeth, began the making of steel poking sticks, and until that time all laundresses used setting sticks made of wood or bone." These poking sticks were heated in the fire, and made use of to adjust the plaits of ruffs. “ Pomander :" a Pomander was a little ball made of perfumes, and worn in the pocket, or about the neck, to prevent infection when the plague was prevalent.
“A pair of sweet gloves."-Act IV. Sc. 3. Stowes' continuator, Edmund Howes, informs us, that the English could not make any costly washe or perfume, until aboute the fourteenth or fifteenth of the Queene Elizabeth, the Right Honourable Edward Vere, Earl of Oxforde, came from Italy, and brought with him gloves, sweet bagges, a perfumed leather jerkin, and other pleasant things; and that the Queene had a payre of perfumed gloves trimmed onlie with foure tufts or roses of cullered silke. The Queene tooke such pleasure in those gloves, that she was pictured with those gloves upon her hands; and for many years after it was called the Erle of Oxfordes perfume."
WARTON. “ Here's another ballad; Of a fish."-Act IV. Sc. 3. Whoever was hanged or burnt, a merry or lamentable ballad was immediately entered on the books of the Stationers' Company; among the entries for 1604, we find the following, to which, no doubt, Autolycus alludes: -"A strange reporte of a monstrous fish that appeared in the shape of a woman, from her waiste upward, seene in the sea.”
“ All men of hair."-Act IV. Sc. 3. Men of hair, are hairy men, or satyrs. A dance of satyrs was no unusual entertainment in the middle ages. At a great festival celebrated in France, the king and some of the nobles personated satyrs dressed in close habits, tufted or shagged all over, to imitate hair. They began a wild dance; and in the tumult of their merriment, one of them went too near a candle and set fire to his satyr's garb, the flame ran instantly over the loose tufts, and spread itself to the dress of those who were next to him; a great number of the dancers were cruelly scorched, being neither able to throw off their coats, nor extinguish them. The king had set himself in the lap of the duchess of Burgundy, who threw her robe over him and saved him.-JOHNSON.
COMEDY OF ERRORS.
" Carkanet."-Act III. Sc. 1. A carkanet seems to have been a necklace set with stones, or strung with pearls. Thus, in Partheneia Sacra, 1633: “Seeke not vermillion or ceruse in the face, bracelets of oriental pearls on the wrists, rubie carkanets on the neck, and a most exquisite fan of feathers in the hand.”
“An everlasting garment.”—Act IV. Sc. 2. The serjeants' or sheriffs' officers, in Shakspeare's time, were clad in buff. Buff is also a cant expression for a man's skin, a covering which lasts him as long as his life.—Mason. “ One that before the judgment carries poor souls to hell."-Act IV. Sc. 2.
Before judgment; that is, on what is called mesne process: when a man is arrested after judgment, he is said to be taken in execution. Hell was the cant name for an obscure dungeon in any of our prisons.
MALONE. “ What, have you got the picture of old Adam new apparell’d?"Act IV. Sc. 3.
Here seems to be an allusion to some well-known contemporary painting, perhaps of a sign. “Adam, whom God dyd fyrst create, made the fyrs lether coates for himselfe and his wyfe Eve, our old mother; leavyng thereby a patron to al his posteritie of that crafte.” Polydore Virgil, translated by Langley.--Douce.
“ Thou peevish officer.”—Act IV. Sc. 4. Peevish, as here used, is synonymous to foolish, and the word was frequently so employed by our old writers; so in The Curse of Corn-Holders, by Charles Fitz-Geoffrey, 1633: “The Egyptians relieved the Israelites in the famine, though it were an abomination to the Egyptians, in their peevish superstition, to eate breade with the Hebrewes.'
“ His man with scissors nicks him like a fool.”—Act V. Sc. 1. There is a penalty of ten shillings in one of King Alfred's ecclesiastical laws if one opprobriously shave a common man like a fool. Fools were certa shaved or nicked in a peculiar manner in Shakspeare's time, as we learn from The Choice of Change, 1598. * Three things used by monks, which provoke other men to laugh at their follies: 1. They are shaven and notched on the head like fooles.”—TOLLET, and MALONE.
“ Kernes and Gallowglasses."-Act I. Sc. 2. We have the following account of Kernes and Gallowglasses, in Barnaby Riche's new Irish Prognostication :-“The Galloglas succeedeth the horseman, and he is commonly armed with a scull; a shirt of maile, and a Galloglas axe. His service in the field is neither good against horsemen, nor able to endure an encounter of pikes; yet the Irish do make great account of them. The Kerne of Ireland are next in request, the very dross and scum of the country, a generation of villaines not fit to live: these be they that live by robbing and spoyling the poor countreyman, that maketh him many times to buye bread to give unto them, thoughe he want for himselfe and his poore children. These are they that are ready to run out with everie rebell, and these are the verie hags of hell, fit for nothing but for the gallows."-BOSWELL.
“ Saint Colmes' Inch."-Act I, Sc. 2. Colmes' Inch, now called Inchcomb, is a small island in the Firth of Edinburgh, with an abbey upon it, dedicated to Saint Colomb, called by Camden Inch Colm, or the Isle of Si, Columba. Holinshed thus relates the circumstance alluded to in the play: “The Danes that escaped, and got once to their ships, obtained of Makbeth for a great summe of gold, that such of their friends as were slaine, might be buried in Saint Colmes' inch. In memorie whereof many old sepultures are yet in the said inch, there to be seene, graven with the armes of the Danes.”
“ The rump-fed ronyon."—Act I. Sc. 3. The chief cooks, in noblemen's families, colleges, and hospitals, anciently claimed the emoluments or kitchen fees of kidneys, fat trotters, rumps, &c., which they sold to the poor. The weird sister, in this scene, as an insult on the poverty of the woman who had called her witch, reproaches her poor abject state, as not being able to procure better provision than offals.-COLEPEPER.
“In a sieve l'U thither sail."- Act I. Sc. 3. Reginald Scott says, it was believed that witches “could sail in an egg-shell, a cockle or muscle-shell, through and under the tempestuous seas.” And in a book, “ declaring the damnable life of Doctor Fian," is the following passage: "All they (the witches) together went to sea, each one in a riddle or cive, and went in the same very substantially with flagons of wine, making merrie and drinking by the way, in the same riddles or cives.”
“And like a rat without a tail."-Act I, Sc. 3. It was imagined, that though a witch could assume the form of any animal she pleased, the tail would still be wanting. This deficiency has been thus accounted for; though the hands and feet, by an easy change, might be converted into the four paws of a beast, still there was no part about a woman which corresponded to the length of tail common to almost all our four-footed animals.-STEEVENS.
“I'll give thee a wind.”—Act I. Sc. 3. This gift of a wind must be looked upon as an act of sisterly friendship, for witches were supposed to sell them. So in Summer's Last Will and Testament, 1600.
in Ireland and in Denmark both, Witches for gold will sell a man a winde, Which in the corner of a napkin wrap'd,
Shall blow him safe unto what coast he will." It may be hoped that our witches behaved more handsomely than one of their relations, as described in an appendix to the old translation of Marco Paulo, 1579: "they demanded that he should give them a winde ; and he shewed, setting his hands behinde, from whence the winde should come."-STEEVENS.
* The insane root." — Act I. Sc. 3. “ You gaz'd against the sun, and so blemished your sight; or else you have eaten of the roots of hemlock, that makes men's eyes conceit unseen objects.”—GREENE'S NEVER TOO LATE, 1616.
“ The prince of Cumberland.”—Act I. Sc. 4. “ Duncan having two sonnes, he made the elder of them, called Malcolm, prince of Cumberland, as it was thereby to appoint him successor in his kingdome immediatelie after his decease. Mackbeth, sorely troubled herewith, for that he saw by this means his hope sore hindered (where by the old laws of the realme the ordinance was, that if he that should succeed was not able of age to take the charge upon himselfe, he that was next of blood unto him should be admitted) he began to take counsel how he might usurp the kingdom by force, having a just quarrel so to doe (as he tooke the matter), for that Duncane did what in him lay to defraude him of all manner of title and claime, which he might, in tyme to come, pretend to the crowne."—HOLINSHED.
“I have drugg'd their possets."-Act II, Sc. 2. It was a general custom to eat possets just before bed-time. Randle Holmes in his Academy of Armory, says: “ Posset is hot milk poured on ale or sack, having sugar, grated bisket, and eggs, with other ingredients boiled in it, which goes all to a curd."-MALONE.
VOL. II. – 45
“ Colme-kill."— Act II. Sc. 2. Colme-kill is the famous Iona, the burying-place of the ancient Scottish kings, one of the Western Isles, described by Johnson in his Tour.
STEEVENS. “ The pit of Acheron.”—Act III. Sc. 5. Shakspeare seems to have thought it allowable to give the name of Acheron to any fountain, lake, or pit, through which there was vulgarly supposed to be any communication between this and the infernal world. The true original Acheron was a river in Greece, and yet Virgil gives this name to his lake in the valley of Amsanctus, in Italy.-STEEVENS.
“ Enter the three witches.”—Act IV. Sc. 1. Shakspeare has chosen every circumstance of his infernal crem
emonies with great judgment. A cat was the usual interlocutor between witches and familiar spirits. A witch, who was tried about fifty years before the bard's time, was said to have had a cat named Rutterkin, and when any mischief was to be done she would bid Rutterkin go and fly. The common afflictions attributed to the malice of witches, were melancholy, fits, and loss of flesh. They likewise destroyed the cattle of their neighbors, and the farmers have, to this day, many ceremonies to secure their herds from witchcraft. They were very malicious to swine; one of Shakspeare's hags, says, she has been killing swine; and Dr. Harsnet observes, that in his time “a sow could not be ill of the measles, nor a girl of the şullens, but some old woman was charged with witchcraft. Toads have long been reproached as the abettors of witchcraft. When Vaninus was seized at Tholouse, there was found in his lodgings a great toad shut in a phial, upon which, those that prosecuted him denounced him as a wizard. The ingredients of Shakspeare's cauldron are selected according to the formularies prescribed in books of magick. Witches were supposed to take up bodies to use in enchantments, which was confessed by the woman whom King James examined, and who had of a dead body that was divided in one of their assemblies, two fingers for her share. A passage from Camden explains and justifies our author in some other particulars: “When any one gets a fall, he stands up, and turning three times to the right, digs a hole in the earth ; for they imagine that there is a spirit in the ground, and if he falls sick in two or three days, they send one of their women that is skilled in that way, to the place, where she says, 'I call thee from the east, west, north, and south, from the groves, the woods, the rivers, and the fens, from the fairies, red, black, and white.'”-Johnson, &c.
“And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass.”—Act IV. Sc. l. Magicians, in the superstitious age of our author, professed to have the power of showing future events by means of a charmed glass of mirror. So, in an extract from the Penal Laws against Witches, it is said, “ They do answer either by voice, or else do set before their eyes in glasses, crystal stones, &c., the pictures or images of persons or things sought for.”. Spenser has given a very circumstantial account of the glass which Merlin made for King Ryence. A mirror of the same kind was presented to Cambuscan in The Squire's Tale of Chaucer; and in John Alday's translation of Pierre Boisteau's Theatrum Mundi, “A certain philosopher did the like to Pompey, the which shewed him in a glass the order of his enemies' march."-STEEVENS.