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Spanish Romance translated (under the title of The Mirror of Knighthood, &c.) during the age of Shakspeare. This illustrious personage was "most excellently faire," and a great wanderer, as those who travel after him throughout three thick volumes in 4to. will discover.
P. 11. sir John Sack-and-Sugar.] Much inquiry has been made about Falstaff's sack, and great surprize has been expressed that he should have mixed sugar with it. As they are here mentioned for the first time in this play, it may not be improper to observe, that it is probable that Falstaff's wine was Sherry, a Spanish wine, originally made at Xeres. He frequently himself calls it Sherris-sack. Nor will his mixing sugar with sack appear extraordinary, when it is known that it was a very common practice in our author's time to put sugar into all wines. "Clownes and vulgar men (says Fynes Moryson) only use large drinking of beer or ale,-but gentlemen garrawse only in wine, with which they mix sugar, which I never observed in any other place or kingdom for that purpose. And because the taste of the English is thus delighted with sweetness, the wines in taverns (for I speak not of merchantes' or gentlemen's cellars) are commonly mixed at the filling thereof, to make them pleasant." MAL.
P. 16. His brother-in-law, the foolish Mortimer ;] Shakspeare has fallen into some contradictions with regard to this Lord Mortimer. Before he makes his personal appearance in the play, he is repeatedly spoken of as Hotspur's brother-inlaw. In Act II. Lady Percy expressly calls him her brother Mortimer. And yet when he enters in the third Act, he calls Lady Percy his aunt, which in fact she was, and not his sister. This inconsistence may be accounted for as follows. It appears from Dugdale's and Sandford's account of the Mortimer family, that there were two of them taken prisoners at different times by Glendower; each of them bearing the name of Edmund; one being Edmund earl of March, nephew to Lady Percy, and the proper Mortimer of this play; the other, Sir Edmund Mortimer, uncle to the former, and brother to Lady Percy. Shakspeare confounds the two persons. STE. Another cause also may be assigned for this confusion. Henry Percy, according to the accounts of our old historians, married Eleanor, the sister of Roger earl of March, who was the father of the Edmund earl of March, that appears in the present play. But this Edmund had a sister likewise named Eleanor. Shakspeare might, therefore, have at different times confounded these two Eleanors. In fact, however, the sister of Roger earl of March, whom young Percy married, was called Elizabeth.
P. 30. How now, Kate?] Shakspeare either mistook the name of Hotspur's wife, (which was not Katharine but Elizabeth,) or else designedly changed it, out of the remarkable fondness he seems to have had for the familiar appellation of Kate, which he is never weary of repeating, when he has once introduced it; as in this scene, the scene of Katharine and Petruchio, and the courtship between King Henry V. and the French Princess. The wife of Hotspur was the Lady Elizabeth Mortimer, sister to Roger Earl of March, and aunt to Edmund Earl of March, who is introduced in this play by the name of Lord Mortimer. STE.
P. 38. in Kendal green,] Kendal-green was the livery of Robert Earl of Huntington and his followers, while they remained in a state of outlawry, and their leader assumed the title of Robin Hood.
P. 40. Give him as much as will make him a royal man.] He that received a noble was, in cant language, called a nobleman; in this sense the Prince catches the word, and bids the landlady "give him as much as will make him a royal man,” that is, a real or royal man, and send him away.
The royal went for 10s.-the noble only for 6s. and 8d. TYRWHITT.
This seems to be an allusion to a jest of Queen Elizabeth. Mr. John Blower, in a sermon before her majesty, first said: "My royal Queen," and a little after : "My noble Queen." Upon which says the Queen : "What, am I ten groats worse than I was ?"
P.55. Thy place in council thou hast rudely lost,] The Prince was removed from being President of the Council, immediately after he struck the Lord Chief Justice Gascoigne. MAL.
P. 59. Lord Mortimer of Scotland hath sent word,] There was no such person as Lord Mortimer of Scotland; but there was a Lord March of Scotland, (George Dunbar,) who having quitted his own country in disgust, attached himself so warmly to the English, and did them such signal services in their wars with Scotland, that the Parliament petitioned the King to bestow some reward on him. He fought on the side of Henry in this rebellion, and was the means of saving his life at the battle of Shrewsbury, as is related by Holinshed This, no doubt, was the lord whom Shakspeare designed to represent in the act of sending friendly intelligence to the King. Our author had a recollection that there was in these wars a Scottish lord on the King's side, who bore the same title with the English family, on the rebel side, (one being the Earl of March in England, the other, Earl of March in Scotland;)
but his memory deceived him as to the particular name which was common to them both. He took it to be Mortimer, instead of March.
HENRY IV. PART II.
P. 63. -1, in my condition,
Shall better speak of you than you deserve.] I know not well the meaning of the word condition in this place; I believe it is the same with temper of mind: I shall, in my good nature, speak better of you than you merit.
P. 78. Not Amurath an Amurath succeeds,
But Harry Harry :] Amurath the Third (the sixth Emperor of the Turks) died on January the 18th, 1595-6. The people being generally disaffected to Mahomet his eldest son, and inclined to Amurath, one of his younger children, the Emperor's death was concealed for ten days by the Janizaries, till Mahomet came from Amasia to Constantinople. On his arrival he was saluted Emperor by the great Bassas, and others his favourers.; "which done, (says Knolles,) he presently after caused all his brethren to be invited to a solemn feast in the court; whereunto they, yet ignorant of their father's death, came chearfully, as men fearing no harm but, being come, were there all most miserably strangled." It is highly probable that Shakspeare here alludes to this transaction; which was pointed out to me by Dr. Farmer.
This circumstance, therefore, may fix the date of this play subsequently to the beginning of the year 1596; and perhaps it was written while this fact was yet recent.
-fig me, like
The bragging Spaniard.] Dr.Johnson has properly explained this phrase; but it should be added, that it is of Italian origin. When the Milanese revolted against the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, they placed the empress his wife upon a mule with her head towards the tail, and ignominiously expelled her their city. Frederick afterwards besieged and took the place, and compelled every one of his prisoners on pain of death to take with his teeth a fig from the posteriors of a mule. The party was at the same time obliged to repeat to the executioner the words "ecco la fica." From this circumstance"Far la fica" became a term of derision, and was adopted by other nations. The French say likewise "faire la figue." DOUCE.
P 84. Nuthook, nuthook, you lie.] From a late "critical review," I learn that nutk-hut in the language of the Bazegurs or Nuts of Hindostan signifies rascal or blackguard, and that it was probably introduced into England by the gypsies, between
whose language and manners and those of the Nuts a considerable similarity has been discovered by Mr. Richardson as detailed in the 7th vol. Asiatic Researches. Boston Monthly Anth. vol ii. p. 131.
P. 85. Carry Sir John Falstaff to the Fleet] I do not see why Falstaff is carried to the Fleet-prison. We have never lost sight of him since his dismission from the King; he has committed no new fault, and therefore incurred no punishment; but the different agitations of fear, anger, and surprize in him and his company, made a good scene to the eye; and our author, who wanted them no longer on the stage, was glad to find this method of sweeping them away.
KING HENRY V.
P. 5. the scambling and unquiet time-] In the household book of the 5th Earl of Northumberland there is a particular section, appointing the order of service for the scambling days in Lent; that is, days on which no regular meals were provided, but every one scambled, i. e. scrambled and shifted for himself as well as he could. PERCY.
P. 9. Convey'd himself as heir to Lady Lingare,] It was manifestly impossible that Henry, who had no hereditary title to his own dominions, could derive one, by the same colour, to another person's. He merely proposes the invasion and conquest of France, in prosecution of the dying advice of his father: -to busy giddy minds
"In foreign quarrels; that action, thence borne out,
that his subjects might have sufficient employment to mislead their attention from the nakedness of his title to the crown. The zeal and eloquence of the Archbishop are owing to similar motives. RITSON.
P. 44-I must speak with him from the pridge.] Fluellen, who comes from the bridge, wants to acquaint the king with the transactions that had happened there. speaking to the king from the bridge.
-take from them now
This he calls
The sense of reckoning, if the opposed numbers] If the sense of reckoning, in consequence of the King's petition, was taken from them, the numbers opposed to them would be no longer formidable. When they could no more count their enemies, they could no longer fear them. STE.
P. 59. Two chantries,] One of these monasteries was for Garthusian monks, and was called Bethlehem; the other was
for religious men and women of the order of Saint Bridget, and was named Sion. They were on opposite sides of the Thames, and adjoined the royal manor of Sheen, now called Richmond. MAL.
P. 62. By Jove,] The king prays like a christian, and swears like a heathen.
I believe the player-editors alone are answerable for this monstrous incongruity. In consequence of the Stat. 3 James I. c. xxi. against introducing the sacred name on the stage, &c. they omitted it where they could; and in verse, (where the metre would not allow omission,) they substituted some other word in its place. The author, I have not the least doubt, wrote here-By heaven,MAL.
KING RICHARD III.
P. 60. Baynard's Castle.] A castle in Thames Street, which had belonged to Richard Duke of York, and at this time was the property of his grandson King Edward V.
P. 65. loath'd bigamy :] Bigamy, by a canon of the council of Lyons, A.D. 1274, adopted in England by a statute in 4 Edward I. was made unlawful and infamous. It differed from polygamy, or having two wives at once; as it consisted in either marrying two virgins successively, or once marrying a widow. BLACKSTONE.
P. 73. To Brecknock.] To the Castle of Brecknock in Wales, where the Duke of Buckingham's estate lay.
P. 95. That never slept a quiet hour with thee,] Shakspeare was probably here thinking of Sir Thomas More's animated description of Richard, which Holinshed transcribed: "I have heard (says Sir Thomas) by credible report of such as were secret with his chamberlaine, that after this abominable deed done [the murder of his nephews] he never had quiet in his mind. He never thought himself sure where he went abroad; his eyes whirled about; his body privily fenced his hand ever upon his dagger; his countenance and manner like one always ready to strike againe. He tooke ill rest anights; lay long waking and musing, sore wearied with care and watch; rather slumbered than slept, troubled with fearful dreames; sodainely sometime start up, leapt out of bed, and ran about the chamber; so was his restless heart continually tost and tumbled with the tedious impression and stormy remembrances of his abominable deede.”