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11. S'lid. Mimic oaths were highly fashionable when Epicæne was written. Doubtless the reprehensible habit of Elizabeth influenced her people; as Drake says, her oaths were 'neither diminutive nor rare; she never spared them in public or private conversation, when she thought they added energy to either'. Epicæne offends in the matter of oaths much less than many plays, though comic characters marked by the 'ambition to be original in oaths are not wanting-witness Daw and La-Foole. The nobility were chiefly satirized for this fault; Dekker, The Dead Tearme, Pr. Wks. 4. 14, has Westminster grieve because she is ‘haunted with some that are called knights only for their swearing' Anat. of Ab. p. 132: ‘We take in vain abuse, and blaspheme, the sacred name of God in our ordinarie talke, for euery light trifle ... By continuall vse whereof, it is growne to this perfection, that at euery other worde, you shal heare either woundes, bloud, sides, harte, nailes, foot, or some other part of Christes blessed bodie, yea, sometymes no part thereof shalbe left vntorne of these bloudie Villanies, and to sweare by God at euery worde, by the World, by S. Iohn, by S. Marie, S. Anne, by Bread and Salte, by the Fire, or by any other Creature, thei thinke it nothynge blame worthie.' Chaucer complained long before, Pardoner's Tale 12: Oure blisful Lordis body they to-tere.'
12. that purpose. Morose's purpose to disinherit his nephew.
14. false almanack. There were enough errors in the prognostications of the average almanacs to warrant Hall's Satire on Almanac Makers, bk. 2. 2. The title-page of an almanac for 1575, by Leonard Digges, reads: 'A Prognostication euerlastinge of right good effect, fruictfully augmented by the auctor contayning plain, briefe, pleasante, chosen rules to iudge the Weather by the Sunne, Moone, Starres, Comets, Rainbow, Thunder, Cloudes, with other extraordinarye tokens, not omitting the Aspects of the Planets, with a briefe iudgement for euer, of Plenty, Lucke, Sickenes, Dearth, Warres, &c., opening also many natural causes to be knowen.' 15. coronation day to the tower-wharfe.
There was noise enough on such a gala-day to deafen a less sensitive ear than that of Morose; there was noise on street and river, of trumpet, drum, fife, ordnance, fireworks, bells. Three Lords and Three Ladies of London (1590), Haz.-Dods., vol. 6:
Let nothing that's magnifical
Pageants and school-feasts, beares, and puppet-plaies.
Cf. Survey 1. 96: ‘This tower is a citadel to defend or command the city; a royal palace for assemblies and treaties; a prison of estate for the most dangerous offences; the only place of coinage for all England at this time; the armoury for warlike provisions; the treasury of the ornaments and jewels of the crown; and general conserver of the most records of the king's courts of justice at Westminster. Ordish, Sh. London, writes, p. 44: Norden's map shows several pieces of large ordnance outside the Tower walls in East Smithfield.' Paul Hentzner, writing of his visit to the Tower about 1597, says: On the bank of the Thames close by are a great many cannon, such chiefly as are used at sea. Pepys describes the Tower and wharf as they were on Nov. 5, 1664. i Hen. VI 1. 1. 167: Glou. I'll to the Tower with all the haste I can,
To view the artillery and munition. 20. more portent. More' is here used as the comp. adj. 'greater'. Mr. Skeat thinks mo (OE. mā) is the comp. of 'many' in regard to number, as more (OE. māre) is comp. of 'much' in regard to size. Cf. Abbott, $ 17, 3.7. 19, and the more reputation’; also Poet. Ap. Dial. “a more crown'. King John 2. I. 34: 'a more requital'; Meas. for Meas. 1. 3. 49: 'At our more leisure'. Heywood, Edward IV 1. 40 (ed. Pearson), Much queene, I trow'. Cat. 4. 1, p. 274: 'A more regard.'
27. god. In the 1616 folio God and Lord are printed god and lord, endeavouring to minimize the oaths. Cf. the law passed in 1605-6, 3 Jac. I, cap. 21, Statules at Large 3. 61–2 (1770): 'An Act to restrain the abuses of players ... for the preventing and avoiding of the great abuse of the holy name of God, in Stageplays, Enterludes, May-games, Shews, and such like, Be it enacted by our Sovereign Lord the King's Majesty ... That if at any time ... any person or persons do or shall in any Stage-play Enterlude, Show, May-game or Pageant jestingly or profanely speak or use the holy name of God, or of Christ Jesus, or of the Holy Ghost, or of the Trinity . . . shall forfeit for every such offense ... ten pounds.' Cf. Hazlitt, Drama and Stage, p. 42. Gifford defends Jonson's work during his last twenty-three years as ‘remarkably free from rash ejaculations'. Jonson did not approve theoretically of the habit of his contemporaries nor of his own characters. In An Epistle to Master Colby to persuade him to the Wars, Underwoods 32, he writes :
And last blaspheme not; we did never hear
Man thought the valianter, 'cause he durst swear. 38. knacke with his sheeres. This habit of the barber is noticed, Lyly, Mydas 3. 2, where the barber Motto says: 'Thou knowest, boy, I have taught thee the knacking of the hands.' Greens Tu Quoque, Haz.-Dods. II. 210:
COOKE. Amongst the rest, let not the barber be forgotten: and look that he be an excellent fellow, and one that can snap his fingers with dexterity.
Cunningham quotes Armin's Nest of Ninnies, p. 30 (Sh. Soc. Reprint), where a man is described as 'snapping his fingers, barber-like, after a dry shaving'. Scott, in Fortunes of Nigel, ch. 8, introduces Dame Ursula Suddlechop, wife of Benjamin Suddlechop, who is the most renowned barber in all Fleet Street, ‘her thin half-starved partner', possessing 'the most dexterous snap with his fingers of any shaver in London'.
53. Let it lie vpon my starres to be guiltie. Epicæne 2.4.38, True-wit says: 'I foresaw it, as well as the starres themselues.' It is a little strange that Jonson allows True-wit, the scholarly character of the play, as well as Clerimont, to betray participation in the popular belief in astrology. The Alchem. contains his best satire against this and related superstitions. That Shakespeare had no faith in this so-called science is shown in the familiar lines in Jul. Caes. 1. 2. 140: Cas. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings. i Hen. IV 3. I. 12 ff., Hotspur derides Glendower for believing in stellar influence. Stubbes treats it sensibly, if aggressively, and scores 'astronomers, astrologers, prognosticators (and all other of the same society and brotherhoode, by what name or title soeuer they be called).' He argues the impossibility of truth in such things, for men would then turn from God to worship the stars, which are the handiwork of God, possessing neither life nor reason. This argument occupies part 2. 56–66. On p. 63 he says: It is the malice of the deuill, the corruption of our nature, and the wickedness of our own harts, that draweth vs to euill, and so to shameful destinies and infamous ends, and not the starres or planets. Joseph Hall in Virgidemiarum, bk. 2. sat. 7, writes against astrology ; cf. Isagoge to the Astral Science (1658), and Manual of Astrology (1828).
57. innocent: i. e. 'fool.'
67. talking sir. The ppl. a. is used for the usual adj. talkative, as bleeding for bloody, supra 1. 1. 180. The noun sir now occurs with modifiers in only a few stereotyped phrases, e.g. dear sir', honored sir', &c. Cf. Cyn. Rev. 3. 2, p. 265: “Here stalks me by a proud and spangled sir.'
77. pretends onely to learning. This was so common a failing, according to the author's notion, that many of his men and almost all his women are scored for pretence of knowledge. So Earle, Micro-C. no. 53, A Pretender to Learning: 'Hee is a great Nomen-clater of Authors, which hee has read in generall in the Catalogue, and in particular in the Title, and goes seldome so farre as the Dedication,' &c. Guls Horn-Booke, Pr. Wks. 2. 203: You ordinary Gulles, that through a poor and silly ambition to be thought you inherit the reuenues of extraordinary wit, will spend your shallow censure vpon the most elaborate Poeme so lauishly, that all the painted table-men about you, take you to be heires apparent to rich Midasse.'
Act I. SCENE III. 14. Decameron of sport. Boccaccio's famous hundred tales, published in 1353, had played an important role in English literature. Chaucer himself took from him hints for the Canterbury Tales. There was a translation of Les Cent Nouvelles in 1557. In 1566 William Paynter turned many of the Italian stories into English in his Palace of Pleasure. Cf. Dunlop, Prose Fiction 2. 148. Roger Ascham did not approve of the Italian
influence in England. The Scholemaster, Arber's Reprint, pp. 78 ff.: 'These bee the inchantments of Circes, brought out of Italie to marre mens manners in England; much, by example of ill life, but more by tes of fonde bookes, of late translated out of Italian into English, sold in euery shop in London. ... There be moe of these vngratious bookes set out in Printe wythin these fewe monethes, than haue been sene in England many score yeares before.... They haue in more reuerence the Triumphes of Petrarch: than the Genesis of Moses : They make more account of Tullies offices, than S. Paules epistles: of a tale in Bocace than a story of the Bible.'
24. inuited to dinner. The fashionable dinner hour was noon or a little before; supper, at six. Case is Altered 2. 3, p. 331 : AUR. Eat when your stomach serves, saith the physician,
Not at eleven and six. Dekker, English Villanies: To cherish his young and tender muse, he giues him four or six angels; inuiting him either to stay breakfast, or, if the sundial of the house points toward eleuen, then to tarry dinner.'
34. do's give playes. Abbott, $$ 303-5, treats of the unemphatic use of do in affirmative sentences. Its use is frequent in Epiccene do bear', 1. 4. 40; 'do run away', 2. 2. 61; 'do utter', 2. 3. 50; do's refuse', 2. 4. 129; 'do's triumph', 2. 4. 13; 'do expect it', 3. I. 13; 'do dream', 3. 2. 67; 'do take advise ', 3. 2. 82.
36. coaches. In Bar. Fair 4. 3, p. 466, Knockem is candid in his views about the use of coaches, elegantly affirming that 'they are as common as wheelbarrows where there are great dunghills'. Jonson constantly satirizes the popularity of coaches among would-be social lights; indeed, they are decried by all the pamphleteers of the day. In regard to the history of this vehicle, Drake, p. 415, quotes from the Works of Taylor (1630), p. 240: 'In the year 1564, one William Boonen, a Dutchman, brought first the use of coaches hether, and the said Boonen was Queene Elizabeth's coachman: for indeed a coach was a strange monster in those days, and the sight of it put both horse and man into amazement: some said it was a great crab-shell brought out of China, and some imagined it to be one of the Pagan Temples, in which the cannibals adored the divell: but at last those doubts