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makes the following observation: "A whimsical choice, which implies that he had an extraordinary passion for that liquor*." It should rather be inferred that the punishment in question was more frequent than is commonly known, and made use of for culprits of rank and eminence when dispatched in secret. Jean Molinet, the continuator of the above work of Chastellain, has thus described this event:
"Jay veu duc de Clarence
Bouté en une tour
Pour le moins ennuyer."
Sc. 2. p. 116.
Q. MAR. Away! though parting be a fretful corrosive.
* One should almost suppose that the historian had recollected Cyrano de Bergerac's dream of a visit to the infernal regions, where he saw the Duke of Clarence, "who," says he, "voluntarily drowned himself in a barrel of Malmsey, seeking for Diogenes, in hopes of getting half his tub to lodge in."
word was generally written corsive in Shakspeare's time, and he has indeed proved that it was so written sometimes. The fact is, it was written as at present in prose,
way, as occasion required.
and in poetry either
Thus Drant in his
translation of Horace's satyres, 1566, 4to:
"Wote you not why? corrosyve style
In the text it should be printed cor'sive.
Sc. 3. p. 116.
K. HEN. O beat away the busy meddling fiend
That lays strong siege unto this wretch's soul.
It was the belief of our pious ancestors, that when a man was on his death-bed the devil or his agents attended in the hope of getting possession of the soul, if it should happen that the party died without receiving the sacrament of the eucharist, or without confessing his sins. Accordingly in the ancient representations of this subject, and more particularly in those which occur in such printed services of the church as contain the vigils or office of the dead, these busy meddling fiends appear, and with great anxiety besiege the dying man; but on the approach of
the priest and his attendants, they betray symptoms of horrible despair at their impending discomfiture. In an ancient manuscript book of devotions, written in the reign of Henry the Sixth, there is a prayer addressed to Saint George, with the following very singular passage: "Judge for me whan the moste hedyous and damnable dragons of helle shall be redy to take my poore soule and engloute it in to theyr infernall belyes."
Shakspeare, who in many instances has proved himself to have been well acquainted with the forms and ceremonies of the Romish church, has, without doubt, on the present occasion, availed himself of the above opinion. Whether this had happened to that pre-eminent painter, who, among the numerous monuments of his excellence that have immortalised himself and done honour to his country, has depicted the last moments of Cardinal Beaufort with all the powers of his art, cannot now be easily ascertained. He has been censured for personifying the fiend, on the supposition that the poet's language is merely figurative; with what justice this note may perhaps assist in deciding. Some might disapprove the renovation of Popish ideas; whilst others, more attentive to ancient costume, and regardless of
popular or other prejudices, might be disposed to defend the painter on the ground of strict adherence to the manners of the times.
The reader may not be displeased at being introduced to a more intimate acquaintance with the ancient mode of representing a dying man as above referred to. It is copied from a print in a later edition of the Ars moriendi, one of those books on which the citizens of Harlem found their claim to the invention of printing; whereas it is in fact no more than a collection of wooden engravings made for pious purposes, and explained by writing cut on the same blocks, and by no means a real specimen of the above art. To this is added another exhibition of the same subject, but very superior in point of art. It is copied from an engraving in wood by an unknown artist of considerable merit; and from the striking resemblance which it bears to the picture of our great painter above alluded to, much cannot be hazarded in supposing that he might have taken some hints from it, as it is well known that he collected many prints with the view of making such use of preceding excellence as the most exalted genius will ever condescend to do.
The Greeks, when persons were dying, drove away evil spirits by placing at the door branches