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Shakspeare might have been indebted to the following passage in The prayse of nothing, by E. D. 1585, 4to. "The prophane antiquitie therefore, unlesse by casuall meanes, entreated little hereof, as of that which by their rule, that nihil ex nihilo fit, conteined not matter of profit or commendation: for which those philosophers hunted, as ambicious men for dominion and empire."
Sc. 4. p. 60.
FOOL. That such a king should play bo-peep.
Mr. Steevens remarks that little more of this game than its mere denomination remains. He had forgotten the amusements of his nursery. In Sherwood's Dictionary it is defined, "Jeu d'en- fant; ou (plustost) des nourrices aux petits enfans; se cachans le visage et puis se monstrant." The Italians say far bau bau, or baco baco, and bauccare; which shows that there must at some time or other have been a connexion between the nurse's terriculamentum, the boggle or buggy bo, and the present expression. See the note in vol. i. p. 328. Minsheu's derivation of bo-peep from the noise which chickens make when they come out of the shell, is more whimsical than just.
Sc. 4. p. 65.
LEAR. Lear's shadow ?
We are told that "the folio has given these words to the fool." And so they certainly should be, without the mark of interrogation. They are of no use whatever in Lear's speech; and without this arrangement, the fool's next words, "which they will make an obedient father," are unintelligible. It will likewise dispose of Mr. Steevens's subsequent charge against Shakspeare, of inattention to the rules of grammar.
Scene 2. Page 92.
KENT. I'll make a sop o' the moonshine of you.
It is certain that an equivoque is here intended by an allusion to the old dish of eggs in moonshine, which was eggs broken and boiled in salad oil till the yolks became hard. They were eaten with slices of onions fried in oil, butter, verjuice, nutmeg and salt.
Sc. 3. p. 109.
EDG. Pins, wooden pricks &c.
Rightly explained skewers. Greene, in his admirable satire, A quip for an upstart courtier, speaking of the tricks played by the butchers in his time, makes one of his characters exclaim, "I pray you, goodman Kilcalfe, have you not your artificial knaveries to set out your meate with pricks?" The brewers and bakers come in also for their share of abuse.
Sc. 3. p. 110.
EDGAR. Poor Turlygood!
Warburton would read Turlupin, and Hanmer Turluru; but there is a better reason for rejecting both these terms than for preferring either; viz. that Turly good is the corrupted word in our language. The Turlupins were a fanatical sect that over-ran France, Italy, and Germany, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. They were at first known by the names of Beghards or Beghins, and brethren and sisters of the free spirit. Their manners and appearance exhibited
the strongest indications of lunacy and distraction. The common people alone called them Turlupins; a name, which, though it has excited much doubt and controversy, seems obviously to be connected with the wolvish howlings which these people in all probability would make when in fluenced by their religious ravings. Their subsequent appellation of the fraternity of poor men might have been the cause why the wandering rogues called Bedlam beggars, and one of whom Edgar personates, assumed or obtained the title of Turlupins or Turlygoods, especially if their mode of asking alms was accompanied by the gesticulations of madmen. Turlupino and Turluru are old Italian terms for a fool or madman; and the Flemings had a proverb, As unfortunate as Turlupin and his children.
Sc. 4. p. 113.
LEAR. To do upon respect such violent outrage.
Explained by Dr. Johnson, "to violate the character of a messenger from the king." It is rather "to do outrage to that respect which is due to the king." This, in part, agrees with the ensuing note,
Sc. 4. p. 114.
KENT. They summon'd up their meiny.
Meiny, signifying a family, household, or retinue of servants, is certainly from the French meinie, or, as it was anciently and more properly written, mesnie; which word has been regarded, with great probability, by a celebrated French glossarist and antiquary, as equivalent with mesonie or maisonie, from maison: in modern French ménage. See glossary to Villehardouin, edit. 1657, folio.
Mr. Holt White has cited Dryden's line,
"The many rend the skies with loud applause," as supplying the use of many in Kent's sense of train or retinue. With great deference, the word is quite unconnected with meiny, and simply denotes any multitude or collection of people. It is not only used at present in its common adjec tive form for several, divers, multi, but even substantively for in the Northern parts of England they still say a many, and a many people, i. e. of people. In this sense it is never found in the French language; but we have received it directly, as an adjective, from the Saxon mani