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Sc. 4. p. 162.
EDG. Keep thy pen from lenders books.
When spendthrifts and distressed persons resorted to usurers or tradesmen for the purpose of raising money by means of shop-goods or brown paper commodities, they usually entered their promissory notes or other similar obligations in books kept for that purpose. It is to this practice that Edgar alludes.
In Lodge's Looking-glasse for London and Englande, 1598, 4to, a usurer says to a gentleman, "I have thy hand set to my book, that thou received'st fortie pounds of me in money." To which the other answers, "It was your device, to colour the statute, but your conscience knowes what I had." Parke, in his Curtaine-drawer of the world, speaking of a country gentleman, alludes to the extravagance of his back, which had got him into the mercer's book.
Sc. 4. p. 163.
EDG.-ha, no nonny.
This was the burden of many old songs. One of these, being connected with Mr. Henley's cu
rious note, is here presented to the reader. It is taken from a scarce collection, entitled Melismata. Musicall phansies, fitting the court, citie and countrey humours, To 3, 4, and 5 voyces, 1611, 4to. In Playford's Musical companion, p. 55, the words are set to a different tune.
E that will an Ale-house keepe must have three things in store,
a Chamber and a feather Bed, a Chimney and a hey no-ny no-ny
hay no-ny no-ny, hey nony no, hey nony no, hey nony no.
Sc. 4. p. 164.
unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor, bare, forked animal as thou art.
Forked is a very strange epithet, but must be taken literally. See a note by Mr. Steevens in Act iv. Sc. 6, of this play. The Chinese in their
written language represent a man by the following character.
Sc. 6. p. 176.
FOOL. He's mad that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's health, a boy's love, or a whore's oath.
Though health will certainly do, it has probably been substituted for heels, by some person who regarded it as an improved reading. There are several proverbs of this kind. That in the text has not been found elsewhere, and may be the invention of Shakspeare. The Italians say, Of a woman beware before, of a mule beware behind, and of a monk beware on all sides; the French, Beware of a bull's front, of a mule's hinder parts, and of all sides of a woman. Samuel Rowland's excellent and amusing work, entitled The choice of change, containing the triplicity of divinitie, philosophie, and poetrie, 1585, 4to, we meet with this proverbial saying, "Trust not 3 thinges, dogs teeth, horses feete, womens protestations."
Sc. 6. p. 184.
EDG. Poor Tom, thy horn is dry.
On this speech Dr. Johnson has remarked that men who begged under pretence of lunacy, used formerly to carry a horn and blow it through the streets. To account for Edgar's horn being dry, we must likewise suppose that the lunatics in question made use of this utensil to drink out of, which seems preferable to the opinion of Mr. Steevens, that these words are "a proverbial expression, introduced when a man has nothing further to offer, when he has said all he has to say," the learned commentator not having adduced any example of its use. An opportunity here presents itself of suggesting a more correct mode of exhibiting the theatrical dress of Poor Tom than we usually see, on the authority of Randle Holme in his most curious and useful work The academy of armory, book III. ch. iii. p. 161, where he says that the Bedlam has "a long staff and a cow or ox-horn by his side; his cloathing fantastic and ridiculous; for being a madman, he is madly decked and dressed all over with rubins, feathers, cuttings of cloth, and what not, to make him seem a madman or one
distracted, when he is no other than a dissembling knave." It is said that about the year 1760 a poor idiot called Cude Yeddy, went about the streets of Hawick in Scotland habited much in the above manner, and rattling a cow's horn against his teeth. Something like this costume may be seen in the portrait of that precious knave Mull'd Sack, who carries a drinking horn on his staff. See Caulfield's Portraits, memoirs, and characters of remarkable persons, vol. ii.
Scene 2. Page 209.
ALB. Humanity must perforce prey on itself,
"Fishes," says Dr. Johnson, "are the only animals that are known to prey upon their own species." But Shakspeare did not mean to insinuate this; for he has elsewhere spoken of "cannibals that each other eat." He only wanted a comparison. Many of the insect tribes prey on their own species, as spiders, scorpions, beetles, earwigs, blattæ, &c.