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Percevall, the Peace maker of England, 4to.: “You say true, Sal sapit omnia; and service without salt, by the rite of England, is a cuckold's fee if he claim it.”
Steevens, commenting on the mention of columbine in Hamlet, says: “From the Caltha Poetarum, 1599, it should seem as if this flower was the emblem of cuckoldom :
• The blue cornuted columbine,
Like to the crooked horns of Acheloy.'” “ Columbine,” says another of the commentators, S. W., “ was an emblem of cuckoldom, on account of the horns of its nectaria, which are remarkable in this plant. See Aquilegia, in Linnæus's Genera, 684.” A third commentator, Holt White, says: “The columbine was emblematical of forsaken lovers :
• The columbine, in tawny often taken,
- Browne's Britannia's Pastorals, I. ii. 1613." Among the witticisms on cuckolds that occur in our old plays, must not be omitted the following in Ram Allev, or Merry Tricks, 1636 :
“ Why, my good father, what should you do with a wife ?
Weare a city cap, and a court feather ?” Chaucer, in his Prosopopeia of Jealousie, brings her in with a garland of gold yellow, and a cuckoo sitting on her fist.
The following expression for being jealous is found in Ritson's Old Songs, 1792, p. 112:
“ The married man cannot do so :
If be be merrie and toy with any,
Her yellow hose she strait will put on." Butler, in his Hudibras, II. ii. 317, in the following passage, informs us for what a singular purpose carvers used formerly to invoke the names of cuckolds :
“ Why should not Conscience have vacation,
As well as other courts o' th' nation;
In Wit and Mirth Improved, or a New Academy of Complements, p. 95, the fourth gossip says :
“Lend me that knife, and I'll cut up the goose :
I am not right-let me turn edge and point,
He's in my thoughts, and now the joint I hit."
“ So when the mistress cannot hit the joynt,
Which proves sometimes, you know, a diff'cult point,
To be so charmed by his neighbour's horn.” In the British Apollo, 1708, ii. 59, is the following query : “When a person is joynting a piece of meat, if he finds it difficult to joynt, he is bid to think of a cuckold. I desire to know whence the proverb ? A. Thomas Webb, a carver to a Lord Mayor of London, in King Charles the First's reign, was as famous for his being a cuckold as for his dexterity in carving: therefore what became a proverb was used first as an invocation, when any took upon him to carve."
Kyrle, the Man of Ross, celebrated by Pope, had always company to dine with him on a market-day, and a goose, if it could be procured, was one of the dishes; which he claimed the privilege of carving himself. When any guest, ignorant of the etiquette of the table, offered to save him that trouble, he would exclaim : “Hold your hand, man : if I am good for anything, it is for hitting cuckold's joints.” In Flecknoe's Diarium, 1656, p. 70, is the following:
“On Doctor Cuckold,
He was with finger pointed at:
As he was pointed at with two;
What cannot learning and a wife now do ?" It is still supposed that the word cuculus gave some rise to the name of cuckold, though the cuckoo lays in other nests;
yet the etymology may still hold, for lawyers tell us that the honours and disgrace of man and wife are reciprocal ; so that what the one hath, the other partakes of it. Thus then the lubricity of the woman is thrown upon the man, and her dishonesty thought his dishonour; who, being the head of the wife, and thus abused by her, he gains the name of cuckold, from cuckoo, which bird, as he used to nestle in other's places ; so it was of old, the hieroglyphic of a fearful, idle, and stupid fellow, and hence became the nickname of such men as neglected to dress and prune their vines in due season. So Horace,
“ Magna compellans voce cucullum.” Douce's manuscript notes, however, say: “That the word cuculus was a term of reproach amongst the ancients there is not the least doubt, and that it was used in the sense of our 'cuckold' is equally clear. Plautus has so introduced it on more than one occasion.”?
'In Paradoxical Assertions and Philosophical Problems, by R. H., 8vo. Lond. 1664, p. 5, “ Why cuckolds are said to wear horns ?" we read: “Is not this monster said to wear the horns because other men with their two fore-fingers point and make horns at him?" Ibid. p. 28: “Why the abused husband is called cuckold ? Since Plautus wittily, and with more reason, calls the adulterer, and not him whose wife is adulterated, cuculum, the cuckold, because he gets children on others' wives, which the credulous father believes his own : why should not he then that corrupts another man's wife be rather called the cuckow, for he sits and sings merrily whilst his eggs are hatched by his neighbour's hens?”.
? In his Asinaria, v. 2, he makes a woman thus speak of her husband : * Ac etiam cubat cuculus, surge, amator, i domum ;" and again : “ Cano capite te cuculum uxor domum exlustris rapit.” And yet in another place, viz. the Pseudolus, i. 1, where Pseudolus says to Callidorus,“ Quid files, cucule?" the above sense is out of the question, and it is to be taken merely as a term of reproach. Horace certainly uses the word as it is explained by Pliny in the passage already given, and the conclusion there drawn appears to be that which best reconciles the more modern sense of the term being likewise supported by a note in the Variorum Horace :
“Cuculum credi supposititios adsciscere pullos, quod enim sit timidus, et defendendi impar, cum etiam a minimis velli avibus. Avis autem quæ pullos ipsius rapiunt suos ejicere, eo quod cuculi pullus sit elegans.” Antigoni Carystii Hist. Mirabilium, 4to. 1619. The application of the above passage to our use of the word cuckold, as connected with the cuckoo, is, that the husband, timid, and incapable of protecting his honour, like that bird, is called by its name and thus converted into an object of contempt and derision. “Curuca, avis quæ alienos pullos nutrit. Currucare, aliquem currucam facere ejus violando uxorem.” Vetus Glossar. inter MSS. Bernens. vide Sinnei Catal., i. 412.
I must conclude this subject, which is not of the most delicate kind, with an apology ; yet in speaking of popular antiquities, it seemed incumbent upon me to say something concerning it. To jest concerning a crime which is replete with every evil to society is indeed to scatter firebrands and arrows in our sport.' It may be added, there is no philosophical justice in such insults. If the husband was not to blame, it is highly ungenerous, and an instance of that common meanness in life of confounding a person's misfortunes with his faults. The cruelty of such wanton reflections will appear, if we consider that a man, plagued with a vicious wife, needs no aggravation of his misery.
In the Athenian Oracle, ii. 359, it is remarked of cuckoldry, “ The Romans were honourable, and yet Pompey, Cæsar, Augustus, Lucullus, Cato, and others, had this fate, but not its infamy and scandal. For a vicious action ought to be only imputed to the author, and so ought the shame and dishonour which follow it. He only that consents and is pimp to his own cuckoldry is really infamous and base.”
THE PASSING-BELL, OR SOUL-BELL.
“ Make me a straine speake groaning like a bell,
Marston's Antonio and Mellida, 1633. The word “Passing,” as used here, signifies clearly the same as “ departing,” that is passing from life to death. So that even from the name we may gather that it was the intention in tolling a passing-bell to pray for the person dying, and
II find the following most spirited invective against the pernicious vice in Cotgrave's English Treasury of Wit and Language, 1655, p. 136 :
“He that dares violate the husband's honour,
The husband's curse stick to him, a tame cuckold;
who was not yet dead. The following clause, in the Advertisements for due Order, in the 7th year of Queen Elizabeth, is much to our purpose: “Item, that when anye Christian bodie is in passing, that the bell be tolled, and that the curate be speciallie called for to comforte the sicke person; and after the time of his passinge to ringe no more but one shorte peale; and one before the buriall, and another short peale after the buriall.”!
In Catholic times, here, it has been customary to toll the passing-bell at all hours of the night as well as by day; as the subsequent extract from the church wardens' accounts for the parish of Wolchurch (MS. Harl. 2252), A. D. 1526, proves : * Item, the clerke to have for tollynge of the passynge belle, for manne, womanne, or childes, if it be in the day, iijd. Item, if it be in the night, for the same, viijd." See Strutt's Manners, iii. 172.2
There is a passage in Shakespeare's Henry the Fourth, Second Part, which proves that our poet has not been a more accurate observer of Nature than of the manners and customs of his time:
“And his tongue Sounds ever after as a sullen bell
Remember'd knolling a departing friend." Douce is inclined to think that the passing-bell was originally intended to drive away any demon that might seek to take possession of the soul of the deceased. In the cuts to those Horæ which contain the service of the dead, several devils are waiting for this purpose in the chamber of the dying man, to whom the priest is administering extreme unction. He refers to the Schol. in Theocrit. Idyll. ii. v. 36, and adds : “It is to be hoped that this ridiculous custom will never be revived, which has most probably been the cause of sending many a good soul to the other world before its time : nor can the practice of tolling bells for the dead be defended upon any
T“His gowned brothers follow him, and bring him to his long home. A short peale closeth up his funeral-pile." An hospital man, in Whimsies, or a New Cast of Characters, 12mo. 1631, p. 64. See Ibid. p. 206.
? The following is a passage in Stubbs's Anatomie of Abuses, 1585, p. 75. He is relating the dreadful end of a swearer in Lincolnshire. “At the last, the people perceiving his ende to approche, caused the bell to tolle ; who, hearing the bell toll for him, rushed up in his bed very vehemently."