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Enter ELBOW, FROTH, Clown, Officers, &c.
Elb. Come, bring them away: if these be good people in a common-weal, that do nothing but use
I likewise find from Holinshed, p. 670, that the brake was an engine of torture. - The said Hawkins was cast into the Tower, and at length brought to the brake, called the Duke of Excefter's daughter, by means of which pain be shewed many things, &c.
. When the Dukes of Exeter and Suffolk (says Blackstone, in · his Commentaries, Vol. IV. chap. xxv. p. 320, 321,) and other ministers of Hen. VI. had laid a design to introduce the civil law into this kingdom as the rule of government, for a beginning thereof they ere&ted a rack for torture ; which was called in derision the Duke of Exeter's Daughter, and still remains in the Tower of London, where it was occasionally used as an engine of ftate, not of law, more than once in the reign of Queen Elizabeth." See Coke's Inftit. 35. Barrington. 69. 385. and Fuller's Worthies, p. 317.
A part of this horrid engine fiill remains in the Tower, and the following is the figure of it :
It consists of a strong iron frame about fix feet long, with three rollers of wood within it. The middle one of these, which has iron teeth at each end, is governed by two flops of iron, and was, probably, that part of the machine which suspended the powers of the rest, when the unhappy sufferer was sufficiently strained by the cords, &c. to 'begin confeflion. I cannot conclude this account of it without confefling my obligation to Sir Charles Frederick, who politely condescended to direct my enquiries, while
their abuses in common houses, I know no law: bring them away.
his high command rendered every part of the Tower accessible to my researches.
I have firtce observed that, in Fox's Martyrs, edit. 1596, p. 1845, there is a representation of the fame kind. To this also, Skelton, in his Why come ye not to Court, seems to allude:
* And with a cole rake
Bruise them on a brake." If Shakspeare alluded to this engine, the sense of the contested passage will be: Some run more than onc: from engines of punishment, and answer no interrogatories: while some are condemned to suffer for a single trespass.
It should not, however, be dissembled, that yet a plainer meaning may be deduced from the same words. By brakes of vice may be meant a colle&ion, a number, thicket of vices. The same image occurs in Daniel's Civil Wars, B. IV:
Rushing into the thickest woods of spears,
And brakes of swords," &c. That a brake meant a buih, may be known from Drayton's poem on Mofes and his Miracles :
" Where God unto the Hebrew spake,
Appearing from the burning brake," Again, in The Mooncalf of the saine author :
« He brings into a brake of briars and thorn,
6 And so entangles." Mr. Tollet is of opinion that, by brakes of vice, Shak[pcare means only the thorny paths of vice.
$ó, in Ben Jonson's Underwoods, Whalley's edit. Vol. VI. p. 367:
- Look at the false and cunning man, &c.--
STEEVENS. The words answer none (that is, make no confession of guilt) evidently shew that brake of vice here means the engine of torture. The fame mode of question is again referred to in A& V:
« To the rack with him: we'll touze you joint by joint,
But we will know this purpose." The name of bra ki of vice, appears to have been given this machine, from its resemblance to that used to subdue vicious horses; to which Daniel thus refers :
Lyke as the brake within the rider's hande
Ang. How now, fir! What's your name ? and what's the matter?
Ell. If it please your honour, I am the poor duke's conftable, and my name is Elbow; I do lean upon justice, fir, and do bring in here before
your good honour two notorious benefactors.
ANG. Benefactors? Well; what benefactors are they? are they not malefactors?
Éle. If it please your lionour, I know not well what they are: but precise villains they are, that I am fure of; and void of all profanation in the world, that good christians ought to have.
ESCAL. This comes off well;' here's a wise officer.
ANG. Go to: What quality are they of? Elbow is your name? Why dost thou not speak, Elbow?*
Clo. He cannot, fir; he's out at elbow.
I am not satisfied with either the old or present reading of this very difficult passage; yet have nothing better to propose. The modern reading, vice, was introduced by Mr. Rowe.
In Kino Henry VIII, we have
'Tis but the fate of place, and the rough brake
MALONE. 9 This comes off well;] This is nimbly spoken; this is volubly uttered. JOHNSON.
The same phrase is employed in Timon of Athens, and elsewhere; I but in the present instance it is used ironically. The meaning of
it, when seriously applied to speech, is This is well delivered, this story is well told. STEEVENS.
2 Why dost thou not speak, Elbow?] Says gelo to the confta. ble. « He cannot, fir, (quoth the Clouin, ) he's out at elbow." I know not whether this quibble be generally understood: he is out at the word elbow, and out at the elbow of his coat. The Constable, in his account of master Froth and the Clown, has a ftroke at the Puritans, who were very zealous against the stage about this time : « Precise villains they are, that I am sure of; and void of all profanation in the world, that good Christians ought to have,' FARMER.
ANG. What are you, sir?
ElB. He, fir? a tapster, fir; parcel-bawd; ' one that serves a bad woman; whose house, sir, was, as they say, pluck'd down in the suburbs; and now she professes a hot-house, * which, I think, is a very ill house too.
ESCAL. How know you that?
ELB. My wife, fir, whom I deteft' before heaven and your honour,
ESCAL. How! thy wife?
ELB. Ay, fir; whom, I thank heaven, is an honest woman;
ESCAL. Dost thou deteft her therefore ?
Ell. I say, sir, I will detest myself also, as well as she, that this house, if it be not a bawd's house, it is pity of her life, for it is a naughty house.
ESCAL. How doft thou know that, conftable?
ELB. Marry, sir, by my wife; who, if she had been a woman cardinally given, might have been accused in fornication, adultery, and all uncleanliness there.
EscAL. By the woman's means?
w a tapfter, fr; parcel-bawd; ] This we should now express by saying, he is half-tapster, half-bawd. JOHNSON. Thus, in King Honry IV. P. II: a parcel-gilt goblet.
STEEVENS. Mhe profefes a-hot-houfe,] A hot-house is an English name for a Bagnio. So, Ben Jor fon :
" Where lately harbour'd many a famous whore,
whom I detest - ] He designed to say proteft. Mrs. Quickly makes the same blunder in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Aal.is. iy. But, I deteft, an honeft maid, " &c. STEEVENS.
ELB. Ay, fir, by mistress 'Overdone's means: but as she spit in his face, so she defy'd him.
Clo. Sir, if it please your honour, this is not so.
ELB. Prove it before these varlets here, thou honourable man, prove it. ESCAL. Do you hear how he misplaces ?
[TO ANGELO. Clo. Sir, she came in great with child; and longing (saving your honour's reverence,) for ftew'd prunes; ? fir, we had but two in the house, which at that very distant time stood, as it were, in a fruitdish, a dish of some three-pence; your honour's have seen such dishes; they are not China dishes, & but very good diflies.
Escal. Go to, go to; no matter for the dish, fir.
Clo. No, indeed, fir, not of a pin; you are therein in the right: but, to the point: As I say, this mistress Elbow, being, as I say, with child, and being great belly'd, and longing, as I said, for prunes;
6 Ay, fir, bu mistress Overdone's means :
:] Here seems to have been some mention made of Froth, who was to be accused, and some words therefore may have been loit, unless the irregularity of the narrative may be better imputed to the ignorance of the conftable. JOHNSON.
stew'd prunes ;] Stewed prunes were to be found in every brothel.
So, in Maroccus Exfiaticus, or Bankes's Bay Horse in a Trance, 1395 : rWith this stocke of wenches will this trustie Roger and his Bettrice set up, forsooth, with their pamphlet pots and flewed prunes, &c. in a sinful saucer," &c.
See a note on the 3d scene of the 3d Ag of the First Part of King Henry 11. In the old copy prunes are spelt, according to vulgar pronunciation, prewens. STEEVENS.
not. China dishes,] A China dish, in the age of Shakspeare, muft have been such an uncommon thing, that the Clown's exemption of it, as no utensil in a common brothel, is a striking circumftance in his absurd and tautological deposition.
STEEVENS. VOL. VI.