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Full text of "Folk-lore of Shakespeare"

CENTRE 
for 
REFORMATION 
and 
RENAISSANCE 
STUDIES 

VICTORIA 
UNIVERSITY 

O 

T O R O N T O 



FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE 



FOLK-LORE 

OF 

SHAKESPEARE 

lqY TIIE 
Rwv. T. F. THISELTON DYER, M.A. Oxo. 
AUTI[OR OF «« BRITISI[ I"OI"ULAR CUSTO,XIS I"AST AND I"RESENT," ETC. 

NEW YORK 
HARPER & ]3ROTItERS, FRAXKLIN SQUARE 
I884 



PREFACE. 

IT would be difficult to overestimate the value which 
must be attached to the plays of Shakespeare in connection 
with the social life of the Elizabethan age. l'ossessed of a 
rich treasuly of knowledge of a most varied kind, much of 
which he may be said to have picked up ahnost intuitively, 
he embellished his writings with a choice store of illustra- 
tions descriptive of the period in which he lived. Apart, 
too, from his copious references to the manners and cus- 
toms of the rime, he seems to bave had hot only a wide 
knowledge of many techuical subjects, but also an inti- 
mate acquaintance with the folk-lorc ofbygone days. ttoxv 
far this xvas the case may be gathered froln the following 
pages, in which are collected and grouped together, as far 
as arrangement would permit, the various subjects relating 
to this interesting and popular branch of out domestic his- 
tory. It only remains for me to add that the edition of 
the poet's plays ruade use of is the " Globe," published by 
Messrs. Macmillan. 
T. V. TtlISELTON DYER. 



CONTENTS. 

CHAP. 
I. 
II. Vk'[TCH ES 
III. G HOSTS ....... 
IV. I)E.MONOLOGY AND DEVIL-LORE 
V. NATURAL PItENOMENA. 
VI. ]IRDS ........ 
VII. AILtas ...... 
\rI[[. PLANTS ....... 
IX. INSECTS AND REPTLES 
X. FOLr:-MEDIClNr .... 
[. CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITII THE CALENDAR 
XII. ]IRTa AND ]]APTIS.M ....... 
XIII. MARRIAGE ..... 
.-X[V. DEATH AND ]URIAL 
KV. ](INGS AND 1DRECIOUS STONES . 
XVI. SPORTS AND PASTIMES 

PAGI 
I 
25 
43 
52 
62 
97 
64 
_-96 
342 
36-" 
386 
394 

XVII. DANCES ................ 424 



viii CONTENTS. 
CHAP- PAGE 
XVIII. PUNISHMENTS ........... 433 
XIX. PROVERBS ........... 444 
XX. HVMAN BODY - .... 475 
XXI. FISHS 497 

XXII. SUNDRY SUPERSTITIONS .......... 505 
XXIII. /IISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS, ETC. 52  
INDEX .................. 549 



FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

CHAPTER I. 

FAIRIES. 

TIIE wealth of Shakespeare's luxuriant imagination and 
glowing language secms to have bccn pourcd fbrth in the 
graphic accounts which hc has givcn us of the fairy tribe. 
Indecd, the profusion of poctic imagcry with which ho has 
so richly clad lais fairy charactcrs is unrivalled, and thc 
" Midsummer-Night's I)ream" holds a unique position in 
so far as it contains the finest modern artistic realization of 
the faiw kingdom. Mr. Dowden, in his " Shakspere Primer" 
(877, Pp. 7t, 72 ) justly rcmarks: "As the two cxtrcmes of 
exquisite delicacy, of dainty clegance, and, on the othcr 
hand, of thick-witted grossness and clumsincss, stand thc 
fairy tribe and the group ofAthcnian handicraftsmcn. The 
world of the poet's dream includes the two--a Titania, and 
a Bottom the weaver--and call bring them into grotesque 
conjunction. No such fairy poetry existed anywhere in 
English literature before Shakspere. The tiny elvcs, to 
whom a cmvslip is tall, for whom the third part of a minute 
is al1 important division of time, have a miniature perfection 
which is charming. They delight in all beautiful and dainty 
things, and war with things that creep and things that fly. 
if thcy be uncomely ; their lives are gay with fine frolic and 
delicate revelry." Puck, the jestcr of fairyland, stands apart"- 
from the test, the recognizable " lob of spirits,'" a rough, 
'" fawn-faced, shock-pated little fellow, dainty-limbed shapes 
around him." Judging, then, from the elaborate account 
I 



2 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
which the poet has bequcathed us of thc fairies, it is evident 
that the subject was one in which ho took a special interest. 
Indeed, the graphic pictures he has handed down to us of 
" Elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves ; 
And ye, that on the sands with printless foot, 
Do chase the ebbing Neptune. and do fly him 
When he cornes back; you demy-puppets that 
13y moonshine do the green-sour ringlets make 
"Vhereof the ewe not bites," etc., 
T" show how intimately he was acquainted with the history 
of these little people, and what a complete knowledge he 
possessed of the supeistitious fancies which had clustered 
roulld them. In Shakespeare's day, too, it must be relnem- 
bercd, fairies welZ much in fashion ; and, as Johnson remarks, 
COlnlnOl tradition had ruade thcm familiar. It has also been 
observed that, well acquaintcd, rioto the rural habits of lais 
early life, with the notions of the pcasantry respecting these 
beings, he saw that thcy werc capable of being applicd to a 
production of a spccies of the wonderful. I[ence, as Mr. 
Halliwell Phillipps' has so aptly written, "he founded his 
elfin world on the prettiest of the people's traditions, and 
has clothed it in thc ever-living flowcrs ofhis own exuberant 
fancy." lçefel-lilg to the fairy lnythology in the " Midsum- 
mer-Night's Dream" it is described by Mr. Kcightley" as 
an attempt to blend " the elves of the village with the fays 
of romance." His fairics agree with the former in their 
diminutlve stature--diminished, indced, to dimensiolas in- 
appreciable by village gossips--in thcir fondness for danc- 
ing, their love of cleanliness, and thcir child-abstracting 
propensitics. Like the fays, they forma comnaunity, ruled 
over by the princely Oberon and the fait Titania. There 
is a court and chivalry; Oberon would have the queen's 
sweet changcling to be a " l«:.ght of his train, to trace the 
forests wild." Like earthly monarchs, he has his jester, 
"' that shrewd and knavish sprite called Robin Goodfellow.'" 

' " Illustrations of the Fairy Mythology of ' A Midsummer-Ni.,-ht's 
Dream.'" I845. p. xiii. 
 " Fairy Mythology,'" p. 3_5. 



FAIR[ES. 3 
Of the fairy characters trcated by Shakespcare may be 
mentioned Oberon, king of failyland, and Titania, his queen. 
They are representcd as keeping rival courts in consequcnce 
of a quarrel, the cause of which is thus told by Puck ," Mid- 
summer-Night's Drcam," ii. I): 
"The king doth keep his revels here to-night : 
Take heed the queen corne not within his sight ; 
For Oberon is passing fell and wrath. 
P, ecause that she as her attendant hath 
A lovely boy. stolen from an Indian king ; 
She never had so sweet a changeling; 
And jealous /beron would have the child 
Knight of his train, to trace the forests wild ; 
But she perforce withholds the loved boy. 
Crowns him with flowers and makes him all her joy ; 
And now they never meet in grove or green. 
By fountain clear, or spang!ed starlight sheen," etc. 
Obcron first appears in the old Fl-ench romance of " Huon 
de 13ourdeaux," and is identical with Elberich, the dwarf 
king of the Gcrman StOl-¥ of Otuit in thc " Heldcnbuch." 
"_Flac naine Elberich, o1, as it appears in thc " Nibelungen- 
lied," Albrich, was changed, in passing into French, first into 
Aubel-ich, then into Aubel-on, and finally becalnc our Oberon. 
He is introduced by Spcnser in the " Fairy Qucen " I, book ii. 
cant. i. st. 6), where hc describes Sir Guyon : 
"Well could he tournay, and in lists debate, 
And knighthood tooke of good Sir Huon's hand. 
When with King ()beron he came to faery land.'" 
And in the tenth canto of thc saine book (stanza 75) he is 
the allegorical representative of Henry VIII. The wise 
Elficleos left two sons, 
• ' of which faire Elferon, 
The eldest brother, did untimely dy ; 
Whose emptie place the mightie Oberon 
Doubly supplide, in spousall and dominion." 
"Oboram, King of Fayeries," is one of the claaracters in 
Greene's "Jalnes the Fourth." ' 

 Aldis 'tVright's "Midsummcr-Night's Drealn,"  877, Preface, pp. x: 
xvi. ; Ritson's " Fairy Mythology," 1875, pp. 2z. 23. 



4 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
T The naine Titania for the queen of the fairies appears to 
bave been the invention of Shakespeare, for, as 'Ii-. Ritson' 
remarks, she is not" so callcd by any other writer." .Vhy, 
however, the poet designated her by this title, presents, 
according to Mr. Keightley, = no difficulty. "It was," he says, 
"the belief of those days that the fairies were the saine as 
the classic nymphs, the attendants of Diana. The fairy 
.]rluecn was thcrefore the saine as Diana, whom Ovid (Met. 
iii. 73) styles Titania." In Chaucer's " Mcrchant's Tale" 
Pluto is the king of faerie, and his queen, l'roserpina, " who 
danced and sang about the wcll under the laurel in January's 
garden."  
 In " Romeo and Juliet " (i. 4) she la known by the more 
familiar appellation, Qucen Mab. " I dream'd a drcam to- 
night," says Romco, whcreupon Mercutio replies, in that 
well-known famous passage- 
"O. then. I see Queen Mab hath been with you," 
this being the earliest instance in which Mab is used to 
designate the fairy queen. Mr. Thoms  thinks that the ori- 
gin of this name is to be found in the Celtic, and that it con- 
tains a distinct allusion to the diminutive form of the elfin 
sovereign. .z'l[ab, both in \Velsh and in the kindred dia- 
lects of Brittany, signifies a child or infant, and hence it is 
a befitting cpithet to ole who 
"cornes 
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone 
On the Iore-finger of an alderman." 
Nf. Keightley suggests that 3,lab may be a contraction of 
Habundia, who, Hcywood says, rulcd over the fairies; and 
anothcr derivation is from Mabel, of which Mab is an abbre- 
...L_viation. 
Among the references to Queen Mab we may mention 
Drayton's " Nymphidia :" 

 Essay on Fairies in "Fairy Mythology of Shakspeare," p. 23. 
-" Fairy Mytholog-y," 878, p. 325. 
a Notes to "A Midsummer-Niglt's Dream," by Aldis Wright, I877, 
Preface. p. xvi. 
• "Three Notelets on Shakespeare," pp. IOO-mT. 



FAIRIES. 5 

" Hence Oberon, him sport to make 
(Their test when weary mortals take, 
And none but only fairies wake), 
Descendeth for his pleasure : 
And Mab, his merry queen, by night 
t3estrides young folks that fie upright,'" etc. 
Ben Jonson, in lais " Entertainment of the Queen and 
l'rince at Althrope," in I603, describes as " tripping up the 
lawn a bevy of fairies, attending on lkIab, their queen, who, 
falling into an artificial ring that thcre was cut in the path, 
began to dance around." In the saine masque the quccn is 
thus characterized by a satyr: 
"This is Mab, the mistress fairy, 
That doth nightly rob thc dairy, 
And can help or hurt the cherning 
As she please, without discerning," etc. 
Like Puck, Shakespeare bas invested Queen Mab with 
rnischicvous properties, which " identify iaer with the night 
hag of popular superstition," ancl she is rcprescntcd as 
"Platting the manes of horses in the night." 
The merry Puck, who is so prominent an actor in "AI 
Midsummcr-Night's Dream," is the mischief-loxing sprite, 
the jester of the fairy court, whose charactevistics are roguery 
and sportiveness. In lais description of him, Shakespeare, 
as glr. Thoms points out, " has embodicd ahnost every 
attribute with which the imagination of the people has 
invested the fairy race; and bas neithcr omitted one trait 
necessary to give brilliancy and distinctness to the likeness, 
nor sought to heighten its effect by the slightest exaggera- 
tion. For, carefully and elaborately as he bas finishcd the 
picture, he has hot in it invested the ' lob of spirits' with 
one gift or quality which the popular voice of the age was 
hot unanimous in bestowing upon him." Thus (ii. ) the 
fairy says : 
" Either I mistake your shape and making quite, 
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite, 
Call'd Robin Goodfellow: are you hot he 
That frights the maidens of the villagery ; 



6 

FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 

Skim milk ; and sometimes labour in the quern. 
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn ; 
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm ; 
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm ? 
Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck, 
You do their work, and they shall have good luck : 
Are hOt you he ?» 
The naine " Puck "was formerly applied to the whole racc 
of fairies, and hot to any individual sprite--.Pttcd', or 
being an old word for devil, in which scnse itis used in the 
" Vision of Piers Plowman :" 
" Out of the poukes pondfold 
._ No maynprise may us feeche." 
The Icelandic/;«ki is the saine word, and in Friesland and 
Jutland the domestic spirit is called Puk by the peasantry. 
In Dcvonshire, Piskey is the naine for a fairy, with which 
we may compare the Cornish l'ixey. In ,Vorcestershire, too, 
we read how the peasantry are occasionally" poake-ledden," 
that is, misled by a mischievous spirit called oa,('«. And, 
according to Grose's " Provincial Glossary," in Hampshire 
thcy give the name of Colt-pixey to a supposed spirit or 
fairy, which, in the shape of a horse, neighs, and misleads 
horses into bogs. The Irish, again, have their Pooka,' and 
the ,Velsh their Pwcca--both words dcrived from Pouke or 
Puck. Mr. Keightley 
"Ï k,y,. sly, knowing, may belong to the saine list of words. It 
ts evident, then, that the terre Puck was in bygone years 
extensive!y applied to the fairy race, an appellation still 
round in the west of England. Referring to its use in ,Vales, 
" there is a Welsh tradition to the effect that Shakespeare 
received his knowledge of the Cambrian fairies from his 
"-2-qliend Richard Price, son of Sir John Price, of the Priory of 
Brecon." It is cven claimed that Cwm Pwcca,or Puck Valley. 
a part of the romantic glen of the Clydach, in Breconshire, 
is the original scene of the " IIidsummer-Night's Dream. '' 
T Another of Puck's names Robin Goodfellow, and 
VaS 
one 

 See Croker's "Fairy Legends of South of Ireland," 862, p. 35- 
" Fairy blythology," 878, p. 36. 
 Wirt Sikes's "British Goblins," 85o, p. 2o. 



FAIRIES. 7 
of the most valuable illustrations we have of the " Mid- 
summer-Night's Dream " is a black-lctter tract published in 
I.ondon, I628, undcr the title of " Robin Goodfcllow: IIis 
Mad Pranks, and lXlcrry Jcsts, full of honcst mirth, and is 
a fit medicine for mclancholy."' Mi'. lIalliwcll-l'hillipps, ï 
speaking of Robin Goodfcllow, says," thcre can be no doubt 
that in the rime of Shakcspearc the laMes hcld a more 
prominent position in out popular litcraturc than can bc now 
concluded ri-oto the picccs on the subjcct that have dcscendcd 
to us." The authol- of " Tarlton's Ncws out of l'urgatory,'" 
printed in 59 o, assures us that Robin Goodfcllow was 
"" fa:nosed in erery old wives chrouiclc f«r his lnad mcrry 
pranks:" and wc Icarn from " Hcnslowc's Diary" that Chcttlc 
was the writer of a drama on the advcnturcs of that " merry 
wandcrer of thc night." Thcsc havc disappcared : and rime 
has dealt so harshly with the mcmory of poor Robin that we 
lnight ahnost imagine his spirit was still leading us astray 
over massive volmncs of antiquity, in a dclusive search after 
documents forcver lost ; or, rather, pcrhaps, it is his punish- 
ment for the useless jourueys he has giron out ancestors, 
misleading night-wandcrers, "and laughing at their harm. '' 
He is mcntioned by Drayton in his " Nymphidia:" 
"He meeteth Puck. which most men call 
Hob-goblin. and on him doth fall." etc., 
" hob being the familiar or diminutire form of Robert and 
Robin, so that Hob,-oblin is cquivalent to Robin thc Goblin. 
i.«., Robin Goodfellow. "' Burton, in his " Anatomy of Mel- 
ancholy," alludcs to him thus: " \ biggcr kindc thcrc is of 
them, called with us hobgoblins and Robin Goodfcllows, tlmt 
would, in superstitious rimes, grinde corne for a mess of lnilk, 
eut wood, or do an 3 - manuer of drudgery worl«'" Under his 

This is reprinted in Hazlitt's" Fair'y Tales, Legends, and Romances. 
illustrating Shakespeare and other English Writers." 1875, p. 173- 
Illustrations of the Fairy Mythology of the Midsummer-Night's 
Dream," printed for the Shakeapeare Society. p. viii. 
See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 849. vol. il. pp. 5o8-512. 
Thoms's "Three Notelets on Shakespeare,'" p. 88. 



$ FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
naine of Robin Goodfcllow, l'uck is wcll characterized in 
Jonson's masque of "Love Restorcd. 
"- Another epithct applicd to Puck is" L"as in the " Mid- 
summcr-Night's Drcam" (ii. 1), where he is addresscd by 
the fairy as 
"Thou lob of spirits."  
x, Vith this we may compare the "lubbcr-ficnd" of Milton, 
and thc following in Beaumont and l;letchcr's " Knight of 
the Burning Pestle" (iii. 4) : " There is a pretty talc ofa witch 
that had the devil's mark about her, that had a giant to be 
her son, that was called Lob-lye-by-the-Fire." Grimm 
mentions a spirit, named the " Good Lubber," to whom the 
bones of animals uscd to be offered at Manseld, in Germany. 
Once more, the phrase of" being in," or" getting into Lob's 
pound," is easy of explanation, presuming I.ob to be a fairy 
epithct--the terre being equivalent to Poake-lcdden or l'ixy- 
led.  In " Hudibras" this terre is employed as a naine for 
the stocks in which the knight puts Crowdero : 
"Crowdero, whom in irons bound, 
Thou basely threw'st into Lob'spottmt." 
It occurs, also, in Masslnger's " Duke of Milan" (iii. 
where it means " behind the arras:" 
"Who forc'd the gentleman, to save ber credit, 
To marry ber, and say he was the party 
Found in Lob's pound." 
The allusion by Shakespeare to the " Will-o'-the-V'isp," 
where he speaks of Puck as "sometime a fire,"is noticed 
elsewhere, this being one of the forms under which this 
fairy was supposed to play lais midnight pranks. 
Referring, in the next place, to the several names of 
Shakespeare's fairies, we may quote from "The Merry 
Wives of \Vindsor" (iv. 3), where Mrs. Page speaks of 

' See Nares's Glossary, vol. ii. p. 695. 
= Mr. Dyce considers that Lob is descriptive of the contrast between 
Puck's square figure and the airy shapes of the other fairies. 
a " Deutsche Mythologie," p. 492. 
 See Keightley's " Fairy MytholooT," pp. 38, 39 . 



FAIRIES. 9 
" urchins, ouphes, and fairies "--urchil having been an ap- 
pellation for one class of fairies. In thc " Maydcs' Mcta- 
morphosis" of Lyly (t6oo), wc find fairies, clves, and urchins 
separately accommodated with dances for their use. The 
following is the m-chbz's dance : 
" Bv the moone we sport and play, 
With the night begins out day; 
As we frisk the dcw doth fall. 
Trip it, little urchins all, 
Lightly as the little bec. 
Two by two, and three by three, 
And about goe wee, goe wee." 
In "The Tempest" (i. 2) thcir actions are also limited to 
the night : 
"Urchins 
Shall. for that vast of night that they may work, 
All exercise on thee." 
The children employed to torment Fal.taff, in "The Merry 
Wives of \Vindsor" (iv. 43, were to be dressed in these fairy 
shapes. 
lI1-. Douce regards the word m'cM«, when used to desig- 
nate a fairy, as of Celtic origin, with which view Mr. Thoms' 
compares the m'is/cs of Highland fairies. 
The terre ouiVw , according to Grimm, is only another 
form of the cognate clf, which corresponds with the Middlc 
High-German u/f, iii the plural t[ve. He further proves the 
identity of this /f with ci_p, and with our English c/f, rioto 
a Swedish song published by Asdwiddson, in his " Collection 
of Swedish Ballads," in onc version of which the clfin king 
is called Hcrr lfvcr, and in the second Hcrr Ulfvcr. 
The naine clf, which is frequently used by Shakcspearc, is 
the saine as the Anglo-Saxon a/f, the Old Iligh-Gcrlnan and 
the Middlc High-German tlf. " Fairies and eh's," says 
Tollet, "are frequently mentioned together in the poets 
without any distinction of character that I can recollect." 
The other fairies,Peas-blossom.Cobweb, Moth,and M ustard-T 
seed probably owe their appellations to the poet himself. 

1 ,, Three Notelets on Shakespeare," pp. 79-82. 



IO FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
How fully Shakespeare has described thc characteristics 
of the fairy tribe, besides giving a dctailed account of thcir 
habits and doings, may be gathered from the following pages, 
in which we have bricfly enumeratcd the various items of 
fairy lore as scattercd through the poet's writings. 
 Bcauty, thon, unitcd with power, was one of the popular 
haracteristics of the fairy tribe. Such was that of the 
" Fairy Quccn" of Spcnscr, and of Titania in "A Midsum- 
mer-Night's Dream." In " Antony and Clcopatra" (iv. 8), 
Antony, on sccing Cleopatra enter, says to Scarus : 
" To this great fairy Fil commend thy acts, 
Make her thanks bless thee." 
In "Cymbeline" (iii. 6), whcn the two brothcrs find hnogen 
in thcir cave, Bclarius cxclaims : 
"But that it eats out victuals, I should think 
Here were a fairy. ''' 
_And he thon adds: 
" By Jupiter, an angel ! or, if hOt, 
An earthly paragon ! behold divineness 
No elder than a boy." 
The fairies, as represented in many of out old legends and 
folk-talcs, are gencrally noticeablc for their beauty, the samc 
being thc case with all their surroundings. As Sir \Valter 
Scott,  too, says, "Thcir pageants and court entertainments 
comprehcnded all that thc imagination could conceive of 
what were accounted gallant and splendid. At their pro- 
cessions thcy paradcd more beautiful stceds than those of 
mere earthly parentage. The hawks and hounds which thcv 
employed in their chase were of the first race. At their 
daily banquets, the board was set forth with a splendor which 
the proudest kings of thc carth dared hot aspire to, and the 
hall of thcir dancers cchoed to the most cxquisite music." 
Mr. Douce  quotes ri-oto the romance of" Lancelot of the 

 Showing, as Mr. Ritson says, that they never are. 
"-" Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft." 
 '" Illustrations of Shakespearê," p. I 



FAIRIES. II 

Lake," where the author, speaking of the days of King Ar- 
thur, says, " En celui temps estoient appcllees faees toutes 
selles qui sentre-mettoient dclchantemels et de charmes, et 
moult en estoit pour lors principalement en la Grande Bre- 
taigne, et savoient la force et la vertu des paroles, des pierres, 
et des herbes, parquoy elles estoient tenues et jeunesse et en 
beaulte, et en grandes richesses comme elles devisoient." 
"This perpetual youth and bcauty," he adds, "cannot 
well be separated from a state of immortality;" another 
characteristic ascribcd to the fairy race. It is probably al- 
luded to by Titania in "A iIidsummer-Night's Dream" 
(ii. I): 
"The human mortals want their winter here." 
And further on (ii. 1), whcn speaking of thc changeling's 
mother, she says : 
" But she, being mortal, of that boy did die." 
Again, a fairy addresses Bottom the weaver (iii. )-- 
"Hail, mortal !'" 
---an indication that she was hot so herself. The very fact, 
indeed, that fairies" call themselves sjh'its, ghosts, or shadows, 
seems to be a proof of their immortality." Thus Puck styles 
Oberon "king of shadows," and this monarch asscrts of him- 
self and his subjects-- 
" But we are spirits of another sort." 
Fletcher, in the " Faithfll Shepherdess," describes (i. 2)-- 
"A virtuous well, about whose flow'rv banks 
The nimble-footed fairies dance their rounds, 
By the pale moonshine, dipping oftentimes 
Their stolen children, so to make them free 
From.dying flesh, and dull mortality." 
Ariosto, in his " Orlando Furioso" (book xliii, stanza 98) 

says: 

"I am a fayrie, and to make you know. 
To be a Iayrie what it doth import, 
We cannot dye. how old so e'er we grow. 
Of paines and harmes of er'rie other sort 
We taste, onelie no death we nature ow." 



I2 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
*-1--- An important feature of the fairy race was their power of 
vanishing at will, and of assuming various forlns. In "A 
Midsummer-Night's Dream " Obcron says: 
"I am invisible, 
And I will overhear their conference." 
Puck relates how he was in the habit of taking alI kinds of 
_[jautlandish forms: and in the " Tempest," Shakespeare bas 
bequeathed to us a grapliic account of ArieI's eccentricities. 
" Besides," says lIr. Spalding,' "appearing in his natural 
shape, and dividing into flames, and behaving in such a man- 
lier as to cause young I:erdinand to lcap into the sea, crying, 
' Hell is cmpty, and all the devils are here!' he assulnes the 
forms of a water nymph (i. 2), a harpy (iii. 3), and also the 
Goddcss Ceres (iv. t), while the strange shapes, masquers, 
and even the hounds that hunt andworrythe would-be king 
and viceroys of the island, are Ariel's 'meaner fellows.'" 
Poor Caliban colnplains of l'rospero's spirits (ii. 2) : 
" For every trifle are thev set upon me ; 
Sometimes like apes, that mow and chatter at me, 
And after bite me : then like hedgehogs which 
Lie tumbling in my bare-foot way, and mount 
Their pricks at my footfall ; sometime am I 
AIl wound with adders, who, with cloven tongues 
Do hiss me into madness." 
That fairies are sometimes exceedinglv diminutive is fully 
shown by Shakespeare, who gives several instances of this 
eculiarity. Thus Oueen Mab, in " Rolneo and Juliet," to 
which passage we have alrcady had occasion to allude (i. 4), 
is said to corne 
"In shape no bigger than an agate stone 
On the Iore-finger of an alderman." = 

 "Elizabethan Demonology," p. 5 o. 
 Agate was used metaphorically for a very diminutive person, in al- 
lusion to the small figures eut in agate for rings. In " 2 Henry IV." (i. 
2), Falstatï says: "I was never manned with an agate till now ; but I will 
iriser you neither in gold nor silver, but in vile apparel, and send you 
back again to your master, for a jewel." In " Much Ado About Noth- 
ing" (iii. I) Hero speaks of a man as being "low, an agate very vilely 
cut." 



And Puck tclls us, 
that xvhen Obcron and Titania meet, 
"they do square, that all their elves, for fear. 
Creep into acorn cups, and bide them there." 
Furthcr on (il. 3) the duties imposed by Titania upon hcr 
train point to their tiny charactcr: 
"Corne, nmv a roundel and a fairy song ; 
Then, for the third part of a minute, hence ; 
Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds. 
Some war with rere-mice for their leathern wings, 
To make my small elves coats." 
And when enamoured of Bottom, shc directs her elves that 
they should-- 
"Hop in lais walks and gambol in his eyes ; 
Feed him with apricocks and dewberries. 
With purple grapes, green figs. and mulberries : 
The honey bags steal from the humble-bees, 
And for night tapers trop their waxen thighs 
And light them at the fiery glow-worm's cyes. 
To have my love to bed, and to arise ; 
And pluck the wings from painted butterflies 
To fan the moonbemns from his sleeping eyes." 
We may 
Tempest 

FAIRIES. 1 3 
in "A Midsummer-Night's Dream" (il. I,T 

compare, too, Ariel's well-known song in "The 
" (. ,): 
"Where the bee sucks, there suck I : 
In a cowslip's bell I lie ; 
There I couch when owls do cry, 
On the bat's back I do fly 
After summer merrily. 
Merrily. merrily shall I lire now 
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough." 

Again, &oto the following passage in " The Mcrry \Vives 
of \Vindsor" (iv. 4) where Mrs. Page, after conferring with 
her husband, suggests that-- 
" Nan Page my daughter, and my little son. 
And three or four more of their growth, we'll dress 
Like urchins, ouphes, and airies, green and white, 
With rounds o waxen tapers en their heads, 
And rattles in their hands" 



I4 FOLK-LORE OF StIAKESPEARE. 
it is evident that in Shakespeare's day fairies were supposed 
._o be of the size of children. The notion of their diminu- 
tiveness, too, it appears was not confined to this country,' 
but existed in Denlnark," for in the ballad of" Eline of Vil- 
lenskov " we read: 
"Out then spake the smallest Trold ; 
No bigger than an ant ;-- 
O11 ! here is corne a Christian man, 
Itis schemes l'll sure prevent.'" 
Again, various stories arc current in Gerlnany descriptive 
of the fairy dwarfs; one of the most noted being that re- 
lating to Elberich, who aidcd thc Emperor Otnit to gain the 
daughter of the Paynim Soldan of Syria.  
-]'- The haunts of the fairies on earth are gencrally supposed 
to be the most romantic and rural that can be selected; 
such a spot being thc place of Titania's repose dcscribed by 
Obcron iii "A Midsulnlner-Night's Dream "' (il. ):' 
• ' a bank where the wild thylne blows, 
Vhere oxlips and the nodding violet grows, 
Ouite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, 
Vïth sweet musk-roses and with eglantine : 
There sleeps Titania some time of the night, 
Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight ; 
And there the snake throws her enamell'd skin, 
V'eed wide enough to wrap a fairy in." 
Titania also tells how the fairy race meet 
"on hill, in dale, forest, or mead, 
By paved fountain, or by rushy brook, 
.. Or in the beached margent of the sea." 
In "The Telnpest" (v. I), we have the following beautiful 
invocation by Prospero : 
"Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves ; 
And ye, that on the sands with printless foot 
Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him 
When he comes back--" 
 See Grimm's " Deutsche Mythologie." 
"- Thoms's "Three Notelets on Shakespeare," 865, pp. 38, 39. 
 See Keightley's " Fairy Mythology," 878, p.--o8. 
 See also Thorpe's " Northern Mytholom.¢," 85-, vol. iii. p. 3:, etc. 



Their haunts, however, varied in diffcrent localities, but their 
favorite abode was in the interior of conical green hills, on 
the slopes of which they danced by moonlight. Milton, in 
the " Paradise Lost" (book i.), speaks of 
"fairy elves. 
Whose midnight revels, by a forest side 
)r fountain, some bclated pcasant sees, 
()r dreams he secs, while overhead the moon 
Sits arbitress, and ncarer to the earth 
Wheels ber pale course, they. on their mirth and dance 
intent, with jocund music charm his ear; 
At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds." 
The Irish fairies occasionally inhabited the ancient burial- 
places known as tumuli or barrows, while some of the .";cot- 
tish fairies took up their abode under thù " dc;or-stane" or 
threshold of some particular house, to the inmates of which 
they administered .qood offices. ' 
The so-called fairy-rings in old pastures---little circles of 
a brighter grcen, within which it was supposed the fairies 
dance by night--are nov l«own to result ri-oto the out- 
spreading propagation of a particular mushroom, the fairy- 
ringed fungus, by which the -round is manured for a richer 
following vegetation. An immense deal of leendary lore, 
however, has clustered round this curious phenomenon, 
popular superstition attributing it to the merry roundelavs__[_ 
of the moonlight fairies.  In " The Tempest" (v.  I l'rospero 
invokes the fairies as the " demy-puppets" that 
"By moonshine do the green-sour ringlets make, 
Whereof the ewe hOt bites ; and you. whose pastime 
Is to make midnight-mushrooms." 

 Gunyon's " Illustrations of Scottish History. Lire, and Supersti- 
tions," p. 299. 
" Chambers's " Book of Days," vol. i. p. 67. 
 Among the various conjectures as to the cause of these verdant cir- 
cles, some have ascribed them to lightning; others maintained that 
they are occasioned by ants. Sec Miss Baker's " Northamptonshire 
Glossary," vol. i. p. 218 ; Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," I849, x'ol. il. pp. 480- 
483 ; and also the " Phytologist," I62, pp. 236-238. 



i6 

FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
In "A !Iidsummer-Night's Dream" (il. i5, the lai W says: 
" I éo wander everywhere, 
Swiffer than the moon's sphere ; 
And I serve the fairy queen, 
& To dew her orbs upon the green." 
Again, in thc " Mcrry Wives of Windsor" (v. 51, Arme 
Page says : 
"And nightly, meadow-fairies, look, you sing 
Like to the Garter's compass, in a ring" 
The expressure that it bears, green let it be. 
More fertile-fresh than all thc field to sec." 
And once in " Macbcth" (v. I), l[ecatc says: 
" Like elves and fairies in a ring." 
Drayton, in his " Nymphidia" (1. 69-72), mentions this 
superstition : 
"And in their courses make that round, 
In meadows and in marshes found, 
Of them so called the fayrie ground. 
Of which they bave the keeping." 
Cowley, too, in his " Complaint," says : 
"Where once such fairies dance, no grass does ever grow." 
And again, in his ode upon Dr. ttarvey: 
"And dance, like fairies, a fantastlc round." 
Pluquet, in his " Contes Populaires de Baycux," tells us 
that the fairy rings, called by the pcasants of Normandy 
'" Cercles des fées," are said to be thc work of fairies. 
Among the numcrous supcrstitions which have clustered 
round thc fairv rings, we are told that when damsels of old 
gathered the May dew on the grass, which they ruade use 
of to improve thcir complexions, they left undisturbed such 
of it as they perceived on the fairy-rings, apprehensive that 
the fairies should in revenge destroy their beauty. Nor was 
it considered sale to put the foot within the rings, lest they 
should be liable to the fairies' power.'-The "Athenian 

 Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p.   2. 



FAIRIES. 17 
Oracle" (i. 397) mentions a popular belief that " if a house 
be built upon the ground wherc fairy rings are, whoever 
sball inhabit therein docs wonderfully prospcr." 
Speaking of their dress, we are told that they constantly 
wore green vests, unless they had some reason for changing 
their attire. In the " Merry \Vives of \Vindsor" (iv. 4) they 
are spoken of as- 
" Urchins, ouphes, and fairies, green and white." 
And further on (v. 4) : 
" Fairies, black, grey, green, and white." 
The fairies of the moors wcre oftcn clad in heath-brown 
or lichcn-dyed garments, wh(nce the epithct of" Elfin-grey."' 
t The legends of most countries are unanimous in ascribing 
o the fairics an inordinate love of music; such harmonious 
sounds as those which Caliban dcpicts in " The Tempest " 
(iii. 2) being generally ascribcd to thcm : 
"The isle is full of noises, 
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. 
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments 
Will hum about mine ears, and sonletime voices 
That, if I then had waked affer long sleep, 
Will make me sleep again." 
"T" In the " Midsummer-Night's Drcam " (.il. 3), when Titania 
is desirous of taking a nap, she says to hcr attendants: 
"Come, now a roundel, and a fairy song." 
And further on (iii. ) she tells 13ottom : 
" I'll give thee fairies to attend on thee, 
And they shall fetch thee jewels from the deep, 
And sing, while thou on pressed flowers dost sleep." 
The author of " Round About our Coal Fire" " tclls us 
• that "they had fine musick always among tbemselves, and 
danced in a moonshiny night, around, or in, a ring." 

' Ritson's " Fairy MythologT," 1878, pp. 26, 27. 
 Quoted by Brand, " Pop. Antiq.," vol. il. p. 48. 
2 



I8 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"-" They were equally fond of dancing, and we are told how 
they meet-- 
"To dance their ringlets to the v,-histling wind ;" 
and in the " Maydes' Metamorphosis " of L)'ly, thc fairics, 
as thev dance, sing: 
" Round about, round about, in a fine ring a. 
Thus we dance, thus we dance, and thus we sing a, 
Trip and go, to and fro, over this green a, 
Ail about, in and out, for out brave queen a," etc. 
As Mr. Tl{ms says, in his "Thrce Notclcts on Shake- 
speare" (865, pp. 40, 4), " the writings of Shakespcare 
abound in graphic notices of these fairy rcvels, couched in 
the highest Stlains of poetry; and a comparison of thcse 
with some of the popular legcnds which thc industry of 
Continental antiquaries has prcservcd will show us clearly 
that thcse dclightful sketches of elfin enjoyment have bcen 
drawn by a hand as faithflfi as it is masterly." 
It would secln that the fairies disliked irreligious people; 
and so, in " 5Ierry \Vives of \Vindsor" (v. 5), the mock fairies 
are said to chastise unchaste persons, and those who do not 
say thcir prayers. This coincides with what I.illy, in his 
" Lire and Timcs," says: " Fairics love a strict diet and up- 
right lire; fervent prayers unto God conduce much to the 
assistance ofthose who are curious hcrcways," L «., who wish 
to cultivate an acquaintance with them. 
"T- Again, faMes are generally rcpresented as great loyers and 
patrons of cleanliness and propriety, for the observance of 
which they were frequently said to reward good servants, 
by dropping money into their shoes in the night; and, on 
the other hand, they were reported to punish most severely 
the sluts and slovenly, by pinching them black and blue.' 
Thus, in "A Midsulnmer-Night's Drcam " (v. I, Puck says: 
"I ara sent, with broom, beIore, 
• --1_ To sweep the dust behind the door." 

' Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," I849 , Vol. ii. p. 483. 



FAIRIES. 9 
In " Merry \Vives of \\Tindsor" (v. 5), Pistol, speaking of 
the mock fairy queen, says : 
" Our radiant queen hates sluts and sluttery ;" 
and the fairies who haunt the towers of \Vindsor are en- 
joined : 

"About, about, 
Search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out : 
Strew good luck, ouphes, on every sacred room : 
The several chairs of order look you scout 
With juice of balm and every precious flower.". 
we havc a 

In Ben Jonson's ballad of '" Robin Goodfcllow "' 
further illustration of this notioll : 
"When house or hearth doth sluttish lie, 
I pinch the maidens black and blue, 
The bed clothes from the bed pull I. 
And lay them naked ail to view. 
"Twixt sleep and wake 
I do them take, 
And on the key-cold floor them throw ; 
I out they cry, 
Then forth I fly. 
And loudly laugh I. ho, ho, ho !" 
In " Roulld About otlr Coal Fire," we find the following pas- 
sage bearing on the subject: " \Vhen the master and mis- 
tress were laid Oll the pillows, the men and maids, if thcy 
had a gaine at romps, and blundered up stairs, or julnbled a 
chair, the next morning every one would svear "twas the 
fairies, and that thcy heard theln stamping up and down 
stairs ail night, crying, ' \Vaters lock'd, waters lock'd !' when 
there was no water in every pail il the kitchen." Hcrrick, 
too, ill his " Hesperides," speaks of this superstition : 
"If ye will with Mab find grace, 
Set each platter in his place; 
Rake the tire up, and set 
Vater in. ere sun be set, 

* Halliwell-Phillipps's " Illustrations of Fairy Mytholo'," p. 67; 
see Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," pp. 122, 123. 



20 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Wash your pales and cleanse your dairies, 
Sluts are loathezome to the fairies : 
Sweep your bouse ; who doth hot so, 
Mab will pinch her by the toe." 
"T- \Vhile the belicf in the power of fairies existed, they were 
supposed to perform much good service to mankind. Thus, 
in "A Midsummcr-Night's Drcam " (v. 0, Obcron says: 
"3Jith this field-dew consecrate, 
Every fairy take lais gait ; 
And each several chamber bless, 
Through this palace, with sweet peace ; 
And the owner of it blest. 
Evcr sball in safcty rest "-- 
the objcct of thcir blcssing bcing to bring peace upon the 
house of Theseus. Mr. Douce ' remarks that the great in- 
fluence which thc bclicf in fairies had on the popular mind 
"gave so much offence to the holy monks and friars, that 
thcy dctermined to cxert all their power to expel these irn- 
aginary bcings from the minds of the people, by taking the 
L office ,o,f the fairies' benedictions enti,'ely into t,l, leir own 
hands;' a proof of which we have in Chaucer's \Vile of 
Bath :" 
"I speke of many hundred yeres ago ; 
But noxv can no man ste non elves mo, 
For nov the grete charitee and prayeres 
Of limitoures and other holy freres 
That serchen every land and every streme, 
As thikke as motes ila the sonne berne, 
Blissing halles, chambres, kichenes, and boures. 
Citees and burghes, castles highe and toures, 
Thropes and bernes, shepenes and dairies, 
This maketh that ther ben no faeries : 
For ther as wont to walken was an elf 
Ther walketh now the limitour himself." 
Macbeth, too (v. 8), in lais encounter with Macduff, says: 
"I bear a charmed life, which must not yield 
To one of woman born." 

 '" Illustrations of Shakespeare," pp. 126, 127. 



YAIRIES. 2 I 
In the days ofchivalry, the champion's arms were ceremo- 
niously blessed, each taking an oath that he used no charmed 
weapon. In Spenser's " Fairy Queen " (book i. canto 4) we 
Fed : 
"he bears a charmcd shield. 
And eke enchanted arms, that none can perce." 
Fairies were amazingly expeditious in their journeys. 
Thus, Puck goes "swifter than arrow ri-oin the Tartar's 
bow," and in "A Midsummcr-Night's Drcam" he answers 
Oberon, who was about to send hiln on a secret expedition : 
" l'Il put a girdle round about the earth 
In forty minutes." 
Agaln, the saine fairy addrcsscs him : 
" Fairy king, attend, and mark : 
I do hear the morning lark. 
Ob«ron. Then, my queen, in silence sad, 
Trip we after the night's shade : 
We the globe can compass soon. 
Swifter than the wand'ring moon." 
Once more, Puck says: 
"My fairy lord, this must be done with baste. 
For night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast, 
And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger," etc. 
It xvas fatal, if we may believe Falstaff in " Mcrry \Vives 
of Windsor" (v. 5], to speak to a fairy: "Thcy are fairies ; 
he that speaks to them shall die." 
Fairies are accustolned to enrich their favorites; and in 
"A \Vinter's Tale" (.iii. 3) the shepherd says: " It was told 
me I should be rich by the fairies;"' and in " Cymbeline" 
(v. 4), Posthumus, on waking and finding the mysterious 
paper, exclaims : 
"What fairies haunt this ground ? A book ? O rare one ! 
Be hot, as is our fangled world, a garment 
Nobler than that it covers," etc. 

! See Croker's "Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ire- 
land, p. 36. 



22 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
At the saine time, however, it was unlucky to reveal their 
acts ofgenerosity, as the shepherd further tells us : " This is 
fairy gold, boy ; and 'twill prove so ; up with't, keep it close, 
home, home, the next way. \Ve are lucky, boy; and to be 
so still requires nothing but secrecy." 
The nccessity of secrecy in fairy transactions of this kind 
is illustratcd in Massingcr and Field's play of "The Fatal 
Dowry," I632 (iv. I),' whcre Romont says: 
" But not a word o" it ; "tis fairies' treasure, 
Which, but reveal'd, briigs on the blabber's ruin." 
Among the many other good qualities belonging to the 
lai D" tribe, wc are told that they were humancly attentive 
to the youthful dcad. - Thus Guidcrius, in "Cymbeline," 
thinking that Imogcn is dcad l.iv. e), says : 
• ' With female fairies will his tomb be haunted, 
And worms will hOt corne to thee ;" a 
tl:e,e having been a popular notion that where fairies resort- 
ed no noxious crcature could be round. 
In the pathctic dirge of Collins a similar allusion is ruade : 
"No wither'd wltch shall here be seen. 
No goblin lead their nightly crew ; 
The femme fays shall haunt the green, 
And dress thy grave with pearly dew." 
It seems, however, that they wcre also supposed to be ma- 
lignant ; but this, " it may be," says Mr. Ritson, " was merely 
calumny, as being utterly inconsistent with their general 
charactcr, which was singularly innocent and amiable." 
Thus, when Imogen, in " Cymbeline " (ii. 2), prays on going 
to slcep, 
" From fairies and the tempters of the night, 
Guard me, beseech ye," • 
' See Brand's '" Pop. Antiq., vol. il. p. 493- 
- Ritson's " Fair.v Mytholog T of Shakespeare." 1875, p. 29. 
a Some copies read lle.,«. 
« We may compare Banquo's words in " Macbeth" (ii. I) : 
" Res:tain in me the cursed thoughts that nature 
Gives way to in repose." 



FAIRIES. 23 . 
it must have been, says Mr. Ritson,' the mcztbts she was so 
affaid of. 
Hamlet, too, notices this imputcd malignity of the fairies 
15. I): 
'" Then no planer strikes, 
Nor fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm."  
 That the fairies, hoxvevcr, werc fond of indulging in mis- 
chievous sport at the expensc of mortals is beyond all 
doubt, the merry pranks of l'uck or Robin Goodfelloxv fully 
illustrating this iten of out t3iry-lorc. Thus, in "A lIid- 
sunamer-Night's Dream " Iii. I) this playful fairy says: 
" I ara that merry wanderer of the night. 
I jest to Oberon and make him smile, 
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile, 
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal" 
And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl, 
In very likeness of a roasted crab; 
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob, 
And on hcr wither'd dewlap pour the ale. 
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale, 
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me ; 
Then slip I from ber bure, down topples she, 
And ' tailor' cries, and falls into a cough." 
A fairy, in another passage, asks Robin" 
• ' Are you hot he 
That frights the maidens of the villagery, 
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm ?" 
We have already naentioned hoxv Queen Mab had the 
saine mischievous humor in her composition, which is de- 
scribed bv Mercutio in " Romeo and Juliet " (.i. 4): 
"This is that very Mab 
That plats the manes of horses in the night, 
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs, 
Which, once untangled, much misfortune bodes." 
 " Fairy Mythology," pp. z7, "2_8. 
 In " Comedy of Errors" (iv. z) some critics read : 
" A fiend, a fairy, pitiless and rough." 



24 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
.Another reprehensible practice attributed to the fairies 
was that of carrying off and exchanging children, such being 
designated changelings. 1 The special agent in transactions 
of the sort was also Queen Mab, and hence Mercutio says: 
"She is the fairies' midwife." 
And " she is so called," says Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, " be- 
cause it was her supposed custom to steal new-born babes 
in the night and leave others in their place." Mr. Steevens 
gives a different interpreta.tion to this line, and says, " It 
does llot mean that she xvas the midwife to the fairies, but 
that she was the person among the fairies whose department 
it was to deliver the fancies of sleeping nlell iii their dreams, 
those children of an idle brain." 

 This superstition is fully described in chapter on 



CItAPTER II. 
WITCIIES. 
IN years gone by witchcraft was one of the grossest forms 
of superstition, and it would be difficult to estimate the ex- 
tent of its influence in this and other countrics. It is hot 
surprising that Shakespcare should have ruade fl-equcnt allu- 
sions to this popular bclief, considcring how cxtensively it 
prevailed in the sixtcenth and seventccnth ccnturies ; thc rc- 
ligious and dramatic literature ofthe period bcing full ofit. 
Indeed. as Mr. \Villialns' points out, "what thc vulgar super- 
stition lnust have bcen may be easily conceived, when men 
of the greatcst genius or lcarning credited the possibility, 
and hot only a theoretical but possible occurrence, of these 
infernal phcnolncna." Thus, Francis Bacon was " hOt able 
to get rid of the principles upon which thc crced was bascd. 
Sir Edward Coke, his contemporary, thc most acute lawyer 
of the age, ventured even to define the devil's agents in 
witchcraft. Sir Thomas Browne and Sir Matthew Hale, in 
1664 , proved their faith--the one by his solemn testimony 
in open court, the othcr by his still more solcmn sentence." 
Hence, it was only to be expectcd that Shakcspearc should 
introduce into his writings descriptions of a creed which 
held such a prominent place in the history of his da3" , and 
which has ruade itself famous for all time by the thousands 
of victims it caused to be sent to the torture-chamber, to 
the stake, and to the scaffold. Thus he has given a graphic 
account of the celcbrated Jeanne D'Arc, the Maid of Or- 
Icans, in " I Henry VI.," although Mr. Dowden-" is of opinion 
that this play was written by one or more authors, Greene 

1 ,, Superstitions of Witchcraft," 865, p. --o. 
 "Shakspere Primer," I877. p. 63. 



26 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
having had, perhaps, a chief hand in it, assistcd by Pcele and 
Marlowe. Ho says, " It is a happiness not to have to ascribe 
to out grcatest poet thc crudc and hateful handling of the 
character of Joan of.Arc, cxcuscd though to solne extcnt it 
may be by thc occurrence of vicw in out old English chron- 
icles.'" 
Mr. Lccky,' too, regards the conception of Joan of _Arc 
given in "  Ilcnry VI." as " thc darkcst blot upon the poet's 
genius," but it must be remembcred that wc have only ex- 
pressed thc currcnt belief of his day--thc English vulgar 
having rcgardcd hcr as a sorceress, the Frcnch as an inspired 
hcroinc. Talbot is rcpresentcd as accusing her of being a 
witch, serving the Evil Ont, and entcring Rouen by means 
of her sorccries (iii. 2: 
" France, thou shalt rue this trcason with thy tears, 
If Talbot but survive thy treachery. 
Pucelle, that witch, that damned sorceress, 
Hath wrought this hellish mischief unawares, 
That hardly we escaped the pride of France." 
Furthcr on (v. 3) she is ruade to summon fiends before her, 
but she wishcs them in vain, for thcy speak llOt, hanging 
thcir heads in sign of approaching disastcr: 
"Now help, ye charming spells and periapts ; 
And ye choice spirits that admonish me 
And give me signs of future accidents. 
You speedy helpers, that are substitutes 
Under the lordly monarch of the north, 
Appear and aid me in this entcrprise." 
But she adds: 
• ' See, they forsake me ! Now the time is dome 
That France must rail her lofty-plumed crest, 
And let her head fall into England's lap. 
My ancient incantations are too weak, 
And hell too strong for me to buckle xvith : 
Now, France, thy glory droopeth to the dust." 
Finally, convicted of practising sorcery, and filling "the 

 " Rationalism in Europe," x87o, vol. i. p. lO6. 



WlTCHES. 27 
world with vicious qualities," she was condemncd to bc 
burned. Hcr death, howcvcr, Sir \Valter Scott' says," was 
hOt, we are sorry to say, a sacrifice to superstitious fear of 
witchcraft, but a cruel instance of wicked policy, minglcd with 
national jealousy and hatred. The Duke of Bedford, wben 
the ill-starred Jeanne fell into his hands, took away her lire 
in order to stigmatize her mcmory with sorcery, and to dc- 
stroy the reputation she had acquired among thc French." 
Thc cases of thc Duchess of Gloucestcr and of Jaue Short, 
also immortalized by Shakespeare, are both refcrrcd to in 
the succeeding pages. 
The \Vitch of Brentford, mentioned by Mrs. Page in " The 
Merry \Vives of \Vindsor" (iv. "), was an actual personage, 
the faine, says Staunton," " of whose vaticinations must have 
been traditionally well known to an audience of the time, 
although the records wc possess of her arc scant enough. 
The chief of them is a black-letter tract, printed by \Villiam 
Copla.nd in thc middle of thc sixteenth ccntury, entitled " Jyl 
of Braintford's Testament," from which it appears she was 
hostess of a tavern at Brentford.  One of the characters iii 
Dekker and \Vcbster's "\Vestward Iio"' says, '" I doubt 
that old hag, Gillian of Brainford, has bewitched me." 
The witches in " Macbeth" are probably Scottish hags. 
As Mr. Gunnyon remarks, " They arc hellish monsters, brew- 
ing hell-broth, ha-ing cats and toads for familiars, loving 
midnight, riding on the passing storm, and d«'ising evil 
against such as offend them. They crouch bencath the gib- 
bet of the murderer, meet in gloomy caverns, amid carth- 
quake convulsions, or iii thunder, lightning, and tain." Cole- 
ridge, speaking of them, observes that " thc weird sisters are 
as truc a creation of Shakespeare's as his Ariel and Caliban 
--fates, fairics, and materializing witches being the elements. 
They are wholly different from any representation of witches 

1 ,, Demonology and XVitchcraft," t88I, pp. I92, t93. 
" "Shakespeare," t 864, vol. ii. p.  6 .  See Dyce's" Glossary," p. 5 . 
 Webster's Works, edited by Dyce, 1857, p. e38. 
» " Illustrations of Scottish History, Lire, and Superstition," t879, 



28 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
in the contemporary writers, and )'et presented a sufficient 
external rescmblance to the creatures of vulgar prejudice to 
act immcdiatcly on thc audience. Their character consists 
in the imaginative disconnccted ff-oto the good, they are the 
shadowy obscure and fearfully anomalous of physical nature, 
elcmental avengers without sex or kin." 
It has been urged, however, by certain modern critics, that 
these three sisters, " who play such an important part in 
' Macbeth,' are hot witches at all, but are, or are intimately 
allicd to, the Norns or Fates of Scandinavian paganism."' 
Thus, a writer in thc ;/«mh'(v (Vcb. 8, 879) thinks that 
Shakespcarc drew upon Scandinavian mythology for a por- 
tion of thc material he used in constructing these characters, 
and that he dcrived thc test from the traditions of contem- 
porary witchcraft; in fact, that the "sistcrs" arc hybrids 
betwcen Norns and witches. The supposcd proofof this is 
that each sister exercises the special fimction of one of the 
Noms. "Thc third," it is said, " is the special prophetess, 
wlfile the first takes cognizance of the past, and the second 
of the prescrit, in affairs connected with humanity. These 
are the tasks of Urda, Verdandi, aad Skulda. The first be- 
gins by asking,'When shall we three meet again?' The 
second decides the time : ' \Vhen the battle's lost and won.' 
The third the future prophesies: 'That will be ere the set 
of sun.' The first again asks,'Where?' The second de- 
cides: 'Upon the heath.' The third the future prophesies: 
'There to meet with Macbeth.'" 
It is further added that the description of thWsisters given 
by Banquo (i. 3) applies to Norns rather than witches: 
• ' What are these 
So wither'd and so wild in their attire. 
That look hot like the inhabitants o' the earth, 
And yet are on't ? Live you ? or are you aught 
That man may question ? You seem to understand me, 
By each at once her chappy finger laying 
Upon her skinny lips : you should be women. 
And yet your beards forbid me to interpret 
That you are so." 

i Spalding's " Elizabethan Den,.onology," 88o, p. 86. 



WITCItES. 29 
But, as Mr. Spalding truly adds, "a more accurate poetical 
counterpart fo the prose descriptions given b) T contemporar)- 
writers of the appearance of the poor creatures who were 
charged with the crime of witchcraft could hardlk- bave been 
penned." Scot, for instance, in his " Discovery of Witch- 
craft " (book i. chap. iii. 7), sa)'s: " They are women which 
commonly be old, lame, bleare-eied, pale, fowle, and full of 
wrinkles ; they are leane and deformed, showing melancholie 
in their faces." Harsnet, too, in his " Declaration of Popish 
Impostures" (6o3, p. 36), speaks of a witch as "an old 
weathcr-beaten crone, haviug ber chin aad knees meeting for 
age, walking like a bov, leaning on a staff, hollow-cyed, uu- 
toothcd, furrowcd, having hcr limbs tvcmbling vith pals)-, 
going mumbling iu the streets; one that bath forgotten ber 
paternoster, )'et hath a shrewd tongue to call a drab a dab." 
The beard, also, to which Shakespeare refers in the passage 
above, was the recognized characteristic of the witch. Thus, 
iu the" tIonest Mau's Fortune" (ii. I), it is said," The women 
that corne to us for disguises must wear beards, and that's to 
say a token of a xvitch." In the " Merry, \Vives of Wiudsor" 
(iv. "), Sir Hugh Evans says of the disguised Falstaff: " By 
yea and no, I think the 'oman is a xvitch indeed : I like hot 
when a 'oman has a great pcard : I spy a great peard ulader 
her muflier." 
It seems probable, then, that witches are alluded to 
Shakespeare in " Macbeth," the contemporary literature on 
the subject fully supporting this theors'. Again, b 5, his in- 
troduction of Hecate among the witches in " Macbeth "(iii. 5), 
Shakespeare has been censured for confounding ancient with 
modern superstitions. But the incongruity is round in all 
the poets of the Renaissance. Hecate, of course, is only an- 
other naine for Diana. " Witchcraft, in truth, is no modern 
invention. Witches xvere believed in by the vulgar in the 
rime of Horace as implicitly as in the time of Shakespeare. 
And the belief that the pagan gods were really existent as 
evil demons is one which has corne doxvn from the verv 
earliest ages of Christianity. '' As far back as the fourth 

' "Notes to Macbeth" (Clark and Wright),  877, p. 137. 



30 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESI'EARE. 
century, the Çouncil of Ancyra is said to have condemned 
the prctensions of witches ; that in the night-tilne they rode 
abroad or feasted with their mistress, who was Ofle of the 
pagatl goddcsses, Minerva, Sibylla, or Diana, or else IIero- 
dias.  Iii Middlcton's " \Vitch," Hecate is the naine of Ol'le 
of his witches, and she has a son a Iow buffoon. In Jonsoll'S 
" Sad Shepherd" (il. ) Maudlin the witch calls Hecate, thc 
mistress of witches,"(Dur dame Hccate." \Vhile speaking 
of the witches in " Macbeth," it may be pointed out; that  
" the full lAealling ofthe first SCelle is the fag-cnd ofa witch'.q 
Sabbath, which, if fully reprcsented, would bear a strong re- 
scmblance to thc scelle at thc COmlnencelnent of thc fourth 
act. F;ut a long scene on such a subjcct would be tedious 
and uninteresting at the colnmenccment of the play. The 
audience is therefore left to assume that the witches have 
met, performed thcir COlljurations, obtained rioto the evil 
spirits thc information concerning Macbcth's career that they 
desired to obtain, and perhaps have been commanded by the 
fiends to pcrforln the mission thcy subsequentl¥ Calry 
through." Brand describes this" Sabbath of the witches as 
a lnecting to which the sisterhood, after having becn anointed 
with certain magical ointlnents, provided by their infernal 
leader, are supposcd to be carried through the air on brooms," 
etc. It was supposed to be held on a Saturday, atd in past 
centuries this piece of superstition was lnost extensively 
credited, and was one of the leading doctrines associatcd 
with the system of witchcraft. 
Rcfcl'ring, in the next place, to the numerous scattcred 
notices of witches giron by Shakespeare throughout his 
plays, it is evident that he had ruade hilnself thoroughly 
acquainted with the superstitions connected with the sub- 
ject, lnany of which he has described with the most minute 
accuracy. It al»pears, then, that although they were sup- 

 Scot's "Discovery of Witchcraft." 1584, book iii. chap. 16. Sec 
Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. 235- 
" " Elizabethan Demonology," pp. lO2, lO 3. Sec Conway's " Demon- 
ology and Devil-lore," vol. ii. p. 253. 
* " Pop. Antiq.," 1849, vol. iii. p. 8. 



WITCHES. 3i 
posed to possess extraordinary powers, which they exerted 
in various ways, yct these were limited, as in the case of 
Christlnas night, when, we are told in " 1 [alnlet" (i. I)," they 
have no power to charm." In spite, too, of their being able 
to assume the form of aily animal at pleasure, the tail was 
always wanting. In " Macbeth" (i. 3), the first witch says: 
" And. like a rat without a tail, 
l'll do, l'll do, and l'll do." 
One distinctive mark, also, of a were-wolf, or human being 
changed into a wolf, was the absence ofa tail. The car was 
said to be the form most commonly assumed by the familiar 
spirits of witches ; as, for instance, where the first witch says, 
" I COlUe, Graymalkin !"' ,i. I), and further on (,ix'. )," Thrice 
the brindcd cat hath mew'd." In German legends and tradi- 
tions we find frequent notice of witches assuming the form 
of a car, and displaying their fiendish character in certain 
diabolical acts. It was, however, the absence of the tail that 
only too often was the cause of the witch being detected in 
her disguised form. There were various other modes of 
detecting witches: one being "the trial by the stool," to 
which an allusion is ruade in " Troilus and Cressida" (ii. ), 
where Ajax says to Thersites, 
"Thou stool for a witch !" 
--a practice which is thus explained in Grey's " Notes " (.il. 
236 ) : " In one way of trying a witch, they used to place her 
upon a chair or a stool, with her legs tied cross, that all the 
weight of hcr body might rest upon her seat, and by that 
means, after some time, the circulation of the blood wonld 
be much stopped, and her sitting would be as painful as the 
wooden horse: and she must continue in this pain twenty- 
four hours, without either sleep or meat; and it was no 
wonder that, when they were tired out with such an un- 
godly trial, they would confess themselves manv times guilty 
to free themseh'es from such torture." 
Again, it was a part of the sytem of witchcraft that draw- 

' Graymalkin--a gray cat. 



32 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
ing blood from a witch rendered lier enchantments ineffectual. 
Thus, iii " I Henry VI." (i. 5), Talbot says to the Maid of 
Orleans : 
" l'll bave a bout with thee ; 
Devil or devil's dam. l'Il conjure thee : 
BIood will I draw on thee, thou art a witch." 
An instance of this superstition occurred some years, ago in 
a Cornish village, whcn a man was sumlnoned before the 
bench of magistrates and fined, for having assaulted the 
plaintiff and scratched her with a pin. Indeed, this notion 
has by no means died out. As recently as the year I87o, a 
man cighty years of age was fined at Barnstaple, in Devon- 
shirc, fol" scratching with a ncedle the arlll of a young girl. 
I le plcadcd that lit? had " suffercd affliction" through her for 
rive years, had had four complaints on him at once, had lost 
fourteen canaries, and about fifty goldfinchcs, and that lais 
neighbors told him this was the only way to break the spell 
and get out of lier power."' 
It was, also, a popular belief that a great share of faith was 
a protection flom witchcraft. Hence, in the " Comedy of 
Errors" (iii. 2), Dromio of Syracuse says of Nell: 
"if my breast had not been made of faith and my heart of steel. 
She had transform'd me to a curtail-dog, and ruade me turn i' the 
wheel." 
In order, moreover, to check the power of witches, it vas 
supposed to be nccessary to propitiate them, a ceremony 
which was often pcrformed. It [s alluded to further on in 
the saine play (,ix,. 3), where Dromio of Syracuse says--. 
"Some devils ask but the parings of one's nail, 
A rush, a hair, a drop of blood, a pin. 
A nut, a cherry-stone ;" 
and in " Macbeth" we read of their being propitiated by 
gifts of blood. \Vitches were supposed to have the power of 
creating storms and other atmospheric disturbancesa no- 
tion to which much prominence is given in " Macbeth." 

' Henderson's "Folk-Lore of Northern Counties," p. St. 



WITCHES. 

33 

Thus, the witches elect to meet in thunder, lightning, or rain. 
They are represented as being able to loose and bind the 
winds (v. 3), to cause vessels to be tempest-tossed at sea. 
Hence Macbeth addresses them .iv. 

Though you untie the winds, and let them fight 
Against the churches ; though the yesty waves 
Confound and swallow navigation up; 
Though bladcd corn be lodged and trees blown down ; 
Though castles topple on their warders' heads ; 
Though palaces and pyramids do slope 
Their heads to their foundations ; though the treasure 
Of nature's germins tumble all together. 
Even till destruction sicken." 

Thus, by way of illustration, we nlay quote a curious COla- 
fession ruade in Scotland, about the year 59, by x\gnes 
Sampson, a reputed witch. She vowed that"at the time lais 
majesty [James VI.] vas in I)enlnark, she took a cat and 
christened it, and afterwards bound to each part of that cat 
the chiefest parts of a dcad man, and several joints of his 
body; and that in the night folloving, the said cat vas con- 
veyed into the midst of the sea, by herself and other witches, 
sailing in their riddles, or crieves, and so left the said cat 
right before the town of Leith, in Scotland. This done, there 
arose such a tempest in the sea, as a greater hath hOt been 
seen,which tempest was the cause of the perishing of a boat 
or vessel comillg flon thc town of Brunt Island to thc town 
of Leith, wherein were sundry jewels and rich gifts,  hich 
should have been presented to the new Qucen of Scotland 
at lais majesty's coming to Leith. Again, it is confessed that 
the said christened car was the cause of the king's majesty's 
ship, at his coming forth of Dennlark, having a contrary 
wind to the test of the ships then being in his compally. 
which thing was most strange and true, as the king's lnajesty 
acknowledged." It is to this circumstance that Shakespcare 
probably alludes in " Macbcth" I.i. 3), where hc makes the 
witch say : 
"Though hls bark cannot be lost, 
Yet it shall be tempest-toss'd." 
3 



34 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
\Vitchcs wcre also belicved to be able to sell or give winds, 
a notion thus dcscribcd in Drayton's " Moon-Calf" (865) : 
"She could sell winds to any one that would 
iuy them for money, forcing them to hold 
What time she tisted, tic them in a thread, 
Which ever as the seafarer undid 
They rose or scantled, as his sails would drive 
To the saine pcrt whereas he would arrive." 
So, in " Macbcth "" (i. 3) : 
 llVlc/. Thou'rt kind. 
3 llïlc/. And I another." 
Singer quotes rioto Sumner's " Last \Vill and Testament :" 
" In Iretand, and in Denmark both, 
XVitches for gold wilt sell a man a wind, 
XVhich. in the corner of a napkin wrapp'd. 
Shall blow him sale unto what coast he will. " 
At one timc the Finlanders and Laplanders drove a prof- 
itable trade by thc sale of winds. Aftcr being paid they 
knitted three lnagical knots, and told the buyer that when 
he unticd thc first he would have a good gale; when the 
second, a stt-ong wind; and when the third, a severe teln- 
pest.' 
The sicre, as a symbol of the clouds, has bcen regarded 
anaong all nations of the Aryan stock as thc mythical vchi- 
cle used by witchcs, nightmares, and other clfish bcings in 
their excursions over land and sea." Thus, the first witch 
in " Macbeth" (i. 3), rcferring to the scoff which she had 
received from a sailor's wife, says : 
" Her husband's to Aleppo gone. toaster o' the Tiger : 
But in a sieve l'll thither sali." a 
 ()laus Magnus's " History of the Goths," 638 , p. 47- Sec note to 
• ' The Pirate." 
-" Sec Hardwick's "Traditions and Folk-Lore," pp. 1o8, o9; Kelly's 
" Indo-European Folk-Lore," pp. z14, ;15. 
 In Greek. i,-rl/5,r:o,,ç rr,Xf, v, "to go to sea in a sieve," was a proverbial 
expression for an enterprise of extreme hazarcl or impossible of achieve- 
ment. -- Clark and Wright's "Notes to Macbeth," 877, p. 8. 



WITCHES. 35 
Stories of voyages performed in this way are common 
enough in Gcrmany. A man, for instancc, going through a 
corn-ficld, finds a sieve on the path, which hc takes with 
him. He does hot go far belote a young lady hurrics aftcr 
him, and hunts up and down as if looking for somcthing, 
ejaculating ail the tillaC, '" I loxv my children are crying 
England !" Thereupon the man lays doxvn the sieve, and 
has hardly dolle so ere sieve and lady vanish. I11 thc case 
of anothcr damsel of thc saine spccies, lllentioncd by 
Kelly, the usual exclamation is thus varied: " My sieve 
rira! my sicve rira! how my mothcr is calling me in Eng- 
land!" At the sound of hcr mother's voicc the daughter 
immediately thinks ofher sieve. Steevens quotcs ffoto the 
" Lire of Doctor l:ian, .... a notable sorcerer," burned at Edin- 
btlrgh, January, 59 , how that he and a number of witches 
wcnt to sca, " each one in a riddlc or ct'v«." In the " Dis- 
covery of XVitchcraft," Reginald Scot says it was bclieved 
that "xvitches could sail in an egg-shell, a cockle or muscle- 
shell, through and under thc tempestuous seas." Thus, in 
" Pericles" (iv. 4), Gower says : 
"Thus rime we waste, and longest leagues make short ; 
Sail sels in cockles, have, and wish but for't." 
Their dance is thus noticed in " Macbeth" (iv. ): 
" I'll charm the air to give a sound 
While you perform your antic round." 
XVitchcs also were supposed to have tlle power of vanish- 
ing at will, a notion referred to in " Macbeth " (i. 33, where, 
in reply to 13anquo's inquiry as to whither the witches are 
vanished, Macbeth replies: 
" lnto the air ; and what seem'd corporal melted 
As breath into the wind." 
In his letter to his wife he likewise observes: "They made 
themselves air, into which they vanished." Hecate, in the 
third act, fifth scelle, after giving nstructions to the weird 
host, says : 
" I am for the air ; this night I'll spend 
Unto a dismal and a fatal end." 



36 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
To this purpose they prepared various ointments, concern- 
ing which Reginald Scot' says: " The devil teacheth them 
to make ointment of the bowels and members of children, 
whcreby they ride in the air and accomplish all their desires. 
After burial they ateal them out of their graves and seethe 
them in a caldron till the flesh be made potable, of which 
they make an ointment by which they ride in the air." 
Lord Bacon also informs us that the "ointment the witches 
use is reported to be ruade of the fat of children digged out 
of their graves, of the juices of smallage, wolfbane, and 
cinquefoil, minglcd with the mcal of fine wheat ; but I sup- 
pose the soporiferous medicines are likest to do it, which 
are henbane, hcmlock, mandrake, moonsbade -- or rather 
nightshade--tobacco, opium, saffron,"" etc. These witch 
recipes, which are very numerous, are well illustrated in 
Shakespcare's grim caldron scene, in " Macbeth" (iv. ), 
where the first witch speaks of 
"grease that's sweaten 
From the murderer's gibbet." 
X, Vc may compare a similar notion given by ,Apulcius, who, 
in describing the process used by the witch, Milo's xvife, for 
transforming herself into a bird, says: "That she cut the 
lumps of flesh of such as were hanged. '' 
Another way by which witches exercise their power was 
by looking into futurity, as in " Macbeth '" (i. 3), whcre Ban- 
quo says to them: 
" If you tan look into the seeds of time, 
And say which grain will grow and which will not, 
Speak then to me." 
Charles Knight, in his biography of Shakespeare, quotes a 
wltch trial, which aptly illustrates the passage above; the 

, "Discovery of Witchcraft,"  584, book iii. chap. i. p. 4o : see Spald- 
ing's " Èlizabethan Demonology," p. m 3. 
"- Sec 13rand's "Pop. Antiq.," vol. iii. pp. 
 Douce, "Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. 45, says: "Sec Adling- 
ton's Translation ( 596. p. 49). a book certainly used by Shakespeare 
on other occasions." 



WITCHES. 37 
case being that of Johnnet .Vischert, who was " indicted for 
passing to the grcen-growing corn in May, twenty-two years 
since, or thcrcby, sitting thereupon tymous in the morning 
before the sun-rising; and being thcre round and demanded 
what she was doing, thus answered, I shall tell thee; I have 
been piling the blades of the corn. I find it will be a dear 
year; the blade of the corn grows withersones [contrary to 
the course of the sun], and when it grows sonegatis about 
[with the course of the sun], it will bca good, cheap year." 
According to a common notion firmly bclieved in days 
gone by, witches were supposed to lnake waxen figures of 
those thcy intended to harm, which thcy stuck through with 
pins, or melted before a slmv tire. Thon, as the figure wast- 
cd, so the person it representcd was said to waste away also. 
Thus, in " Macbcth " {,i. 3), the first witch says: 
"\Veary sev'n-nights, nine rimes nine, 
Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine." 
Rcfcrring to the histories of the Duchess of Gloucester 
and of Jane Short, who were accused of practising this mode 
of xvitchcraft, Shakespeare, in "2 Henry VI." (i. œe), makes 
the former address Hume thus: 
"What sav'st thou. man ? hast thou as yet conferr'd 
With Margery Jourdain, the cunning witch, 
With Roger Bolingbroke, the conjurer ? 
And will they undertake to do me good ?" 
She was afterwards, however, accused of consulting witches 
concerning the mode of compassing the death of her hus- 
band's nephew, Henry VI. It was asserted that " thcre was 
round in the possession of herself and accomplices a waxen 
image of the king, which they melted in a lnagical manncr 
before a slow tire, with thc intention of lnaking Henrs's 
force and vigor waste away by like insensible degrees." 
A similar charge was brought against Jane Shore, the nais- 
tress of Edward IV., by Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Thus, 
in " King Richard III." (iii. 4), Gloucester asks Hastings : 
"I pray you ail. tell me what they deserve 
That do conspire my death with devilish plots 



38 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Of damned vitchcraft. and that have prcvail'd 
Upon my body with their hellish charms ?" 
And Ira then further adds: 
'" Look hov I ara bewitch'd ; behold mine arm 
Is, like a blasted sapling, wither'd up : 
And this is Edward's wife, that monstrous witch, 
Consorted with that harlot, strumpet Shore, 
That by their witchcraft thus have marked me." 
This superstition is further alluded to in " King John" 
/ v- 4) by Melun, who, woundcd, says : 
" Have I hOt hideous death within my view, 
Retaining but a quantity of lire, 
Which bleeds away, evcn as a form of wax 
Resolveth from his figure "gainst the tire ?" 
And, again, in " Thc Two Gcntlcmen of Verona " (ii. 4), Pro- 
tous says : 
"for now my love is tlmw'd ; 
Which, like a waxen image 'gainst a tire, 
Bears no impression of the thing it was."* 
Images were frcqucntly formed of other materials, and 
maltreated in some form or othcr, to produce similar results 
--a piece of superstition which still prevails to a great ex- 
tcnt in thc East. I)ubois, in his " l'copie of India ï (825) , 
speaks of magicians who nqake small images in mud or clay, 
and then write the names of their animosity on the breasts 
thcreof; these are otherwise pierced with thorns or mutilat- 
cd, "so as to communicate a corrcsponding injury to the 
pcrson represcnted." Thcy were also said to cxtract moist- 
ure from the body, as in " Macbcth " (i. 3) : 
" I vill drain him dry as hay.? 
Rcferring to thc othcr mischievous acts of witches, Stee- 
vens quotes the following from "A Detection of Damna- 
ble Driftes Practised by Tlree \Vitches, etc., arraigned at 
Chehnisforde, in Essex,  579 :" " Item--Also she canqe on a 
tyme to the house of one Robert Lathburie, who, dislyking 

' Sec Henderson's " Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties," 1879 " p. 8. 



WITCHES. 39 
her dealyng, sent her home empile; but presently after her 
departure lais hogges fell sicke and died, to the number of 
twentie." IIence in" Macbeth" (i. 3) in reply to the inquiry 
of the first witch : 
"Where hast thou been, sister ?" 
the second replies : 
" Killing swine." 
It appears to have been their practice to destroy the cat- 
tle of their neighbors, and the farmers have to this da3" 
many ceremonies to secure their cows and other cattle from 
witchcraft ; but they seem to have been n-iost suspected of 
malice against swine. Ilarsnet observes how, formerly, " ,\ 
sow could hot be iii of the measlcs, nor a girl of the sullens, 
but some old woman was charged with witchcraft."' 
Mr. IIenderson, in lais " Folk-I.ore of the Northern Coun- 
ties" (I879, p. I82), relates how a few years ago a witch dicd 
in the village of Bovey Tracey, Devonshire. She was ac- 
cused of " overlooking" her neighbors' pigs, so that her 
son, if ever betrayed into a quarrel with her, used always to 
sa3-, before they parted, " Mother, mother, spare my pigs." 
Multiples of three and nine were specially employed by 
witches, ancient and nodern. Thus, in " Macbeth" (i. 3), 
the witches take hold of hands and dance round in a ring 
nine times--three rounds for each witch, as a charm for the 
furtherance of her purposes :  
"Thrice to thine and thrice to mine. 
And thrice again, to make up nine. 
Peace ! the charm's wound up." 
The love ofwitches for odd numbers is further illustrated 
(iv. I), where one of them tells how 
"Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined," 
this being the witches' way of saying four times. 
In Fairfax's " Tasso " (book xiii. stanza 6) it is said that 

"Witchcraft loveth numbers odd." 

' See/'@ chap. vi. 
" "Notes to Macbeth," by Clark and Wright, 877, p. 84. 



40 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
This notion is very old, and we may compare the following 
quotations from Ovid's " Metalnorphoses " (xiv. 58) : 
"Ter novies carmen magico demurmurat ore." 
And, again (vil. I89-I91 ) : 
"Ter se convertit ; ter sumtis flumine crinem 
Irroravit aquis; ternis ululatibus ora 
Solvit." 
Vergil, too, in his " Eclogucs" (viii. 75), says: 
" Numero deus impare gaudet." 
The bclief in the luck of odd numbcrs is noticed by Fal- 
staffin thc " Mcrry \Vives of \Vindsor" (v. I) : 
"They say there is divinity in odd numbers, either in nativity, chance. 
or death !'" 
In " King Lcar" (i'. 2) whcn the Duke of Albany tells 
Goneril, 
"She that hersel[ will sliver and disbranch 
From her material sap. perforce must wither 
And corne to deadly use "-- 
he alludes to the use that witches and enchanters were com- 
monly supposcd to make of withercd branches in their 
charms.' 
Among othcr items of witch-lore mentioned by Shake- 
speare may be noticed the COlnnlon belief in the intercourse 
between delllOllS and witches, to which l'rospero alludes in 
the " Tempest " (i. 2) : 
• ' Thou poisonous slave, g'ot by the devil himself 
Upon thy wicked data, corne Iorth !" 
This notion is seriously refuted by Scot in his " Discovery 
,f \Vitchcraft" (book iv.), where he shows it to be " fiat 
knavery." 
The offspring of a witch was termed " Hag-seed," and as 
such is spokcn of by Prospero in the " Tempest " (i. e). 
\Vitches were also in the habit of saying their prayers 
' See Jones's '" Credulities, Past and Present,'" I88o, pp. 256-289. 



wI'rCIIES. 4i 
backwards; a practice to which Hero refcrs in " Much Ado 
About Nothing" (,iii. I), whcrc, speaking of Bcatrice, she 

says : 

- I never vet saw man, 
How wise. how noble, young, how rarcly featured. 
But she would spell him backward." 

Familiar spirits' attcnding on magicians and witches wcre 
always ilnpatient of confincment? So in thc "Tempcst'" 
(i. z) we find an illustration of this notion in the following 
dialogue " 

"' t'ro@«ro. What is't thou canst demand :: 
.4ri«l. My liberty. 
l'roso'o. Before the time be out ? No more." 

Lastly, thc terre "Aroint thee" (" Macbeth," i. 3"1, used 
by the first witch, occurs again in "King Lear" (iii. 4), 
"Aroint thee, witch, aroint thee." That aroit is equivalent 
to " away," " bcgone," seems to be agreed, though its cty- 
mology is uncertain.  " Rynt thee" is used by milkmaids 
in Cheshire to a cow, when she has been milked, to bid her 
get out ofthe way. Ray, in lais " Collection of Xorth Coun- 
try \Vords" (ï68, p. Se), gives " Rynt ye, by your leave, 
stand handsomely, as rynt you witch, quoth Bessie Locket 
to ber mothcr. Provcrb, Chesh." Some connect it with the 
adverb "aroume," meaning "abroad," found in Chaucer's 
" House of Faine" (book ii. stanza ")- 

• ' That I a-roume was in the field." 

Other derivations are ffom the Latin a'«rrltnco : the Italian 
roff,z«, a cutanêous disease, etc. 
Itow thoroughly Shakespeare was acquainted with the 
 Allusions to this superstition occur in '" Love's Labour's Lost" 
(i. 2), "love is a familiar :" in " I Henry VI." (iii. 2), '" I think ber old 
familiar is asleep ; and in "' _.2 Henry VI." (iv. 7), "he has a familiar un- 
der his tongue." 
= See Scot's " Discovery of Witchcraft," 1584. p. 85. 
• ' Sec Dyce's " Glossary,'" pp. 18, i9. 



4 2 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

system of witchcraft is evident çrom the preceding pages, 
in which we have noticed lais allusions to most of tbe prom- 
inent forlns of this species of superstition. ]Iany other 
items of witch-lore, howcver, are refcrred to by him, men- 
tion of which is made in succccding chapters.' 

 "Notes to Macbeth " (Clark and Wright), pp. 81, 8--. 



CHAPTER III. 
Gt[OSTS. 
FEW subjects have, ri-oto rime immemorial, possessed a 
wider intcrest than ghosts, and the supcrstitions associated 
with thcm in this and othcr countries fonn an extensive 
collection iii folk-lore litcrature. In Shakespcare's day, it 
would seem that the belief in ghosts was specially prcvalcnt, 
and ghost tales werc told by the firclight in nearly every 
household. The young, as Mr. Goadby, in lais " England of 
Shakespeare," says 088t, p. t96)," wcre thus touchcd by the 
prcvailing superstitions in their most impressionable years. 
Thcy looked for the incorporeal creatures of whom thcy 
had heard, and they wcre quick to invest any trick of moon- 
beam shadow with the attributes of thc supcrnatural." A 
description of one of these tale-tcllings is given iii the 
" ,Vinter's Tale "' (il. t): 
"/4cr. What wisdom stirs amongst you ? Corne, sir. now 
I ara for you again : pray you. sit by us, 
And tell's a talc. 
JZ«m. Merry or sad shall't be ? 
/Jcr. As merry as you will. 
3Z«,,,,z. A sad tale's best for winter : 
I bave one of sprites and goblins. 
Hcr. Let's have that, good sir. 
Corne on, sit down : Come on, and do your best 
To fright me with your sprites: you're powerful at it. 
J[am. There was a man,-- 
H«r. Nay, come, sit down ; then on. 
3_Yam. Dwelt by a churchyard : I will tell it softly ; 
Yond crickets shall hot hear it. 
He'r. Corne on, then, 
And give't me in mine ear.'" 
The important part which Shakespeare bas assigncd to 
the ghost iii " Hamlet " has a special value, inasmuch as it 



44 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
illustrates many of thc old beliefs current in lais day respcct- 
ing thcir history and habits. Thus, accolding to a popular 
notion, ghosts are gcncrally supposed to assume the exact 
appearance by which they wcre usually known whcll in the 
material state, even to the slnallest detail of their dress. So 
l[oratio tells Hamlet how, when Marcellus and Bcrnardo 
were on thcir watch (i. 2), 
"A figure like your father, 
Arm'd at point, exactly, cap-a-pe, 
Appears before them, and with solemn march 
Goes slow and stately by them." 
Further on, whcn the ghost appears again, Hamlet address- 
es it thus: 
"What may this mean. 
That thou, dead corse, again, in complete steel. 
Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon, 
Making night hideous." 
In the graphic description of Banquo's ghost in " Mac- 
bcth" (iii. 4), we have a further allusion to the saine bclief; 
one, indeed, which is retained at the present day xith as 
much faith as in days of old. 
Shakespeare has several allusions to the notion which pre- 
vailed iii days gone by, of certain persons being able t ex- 
orcise or raise spirits. Thus, in " Cmbeline" (ix-. 2), Guide- 
rius says over Fidele's grave: 
"No exorciser harm thee." 
In "Julius Cœesar" (il. I), Ligarius says : 
"Soul of Rome ! 
Brave son, derived from honourable loins ! 
Thou. like an exorcist, hast conjured up 
My mortified spirit. Nov bid me run. 
And I will strive with things impossible ; 
Yea, get the better of them." 
In "All's \Vell that Ends \Vell " (v. 3) the king says: 
" ls there no exorcist 
Beguiles the truer office of mine eyes ? 
Is't real that I see ?" 



GHOSTS. 45 
This superstition, it may bc addcd, has oflate years gaincd 
additional notoriety since the so-callcd spiritualism has at- 
tractcd the attention and support of thc credulous. As 
learning was considcl'cd ncccssary for an cxorcist, thc school- 
mastcr was often employed. Thus, in the " Comcdy of 
tors" (iv. 4), the schoohnastcr l'inch is introduccd in this 
capacity. 
\Vithin, indced, thc last fifty years the pedagogue was still 
a rcputcd conjurcr. In " llamlct" (i. I), Marcellus, alluding 
to thc ghost, says: 
"Thou art a scholar ; speak to it. Horatio." 
And ii " Much Ado About Nothing" (il. l), lcnedick says : 
"I vould to God some scholar would conjure ber." 
For thc saine rcason exorcisms were usually practised by 
the clergy in Latin; and so Toby, in the " Night \Valkcr" 
of Bcaumont and Fletchcr (ii. I), says: 
" Let's call the butler up, for he speaks Latin, 
And that vill daunt the devil." 
It was also necessary that spirits, whcn evoked, should be 
questioncd quickly, as they were supposed to be ilnpaticnt 
of being interrogated. I[cnce in " Macbeth" (ix'. I) the ap- 
parition says : 
" Dismiss me. Enough!" 
The spirit, likewise, in " 2 Henry VI." (i. 4) utters these 
words : 
• ' Ask what thou wilt. That I had said and done !" 
Spirits were supposed to lnaintain an obdurate silence till 
interrogated by the persons to whom they ruade their spe- 
cial appearance) Thus Hamlet, alluding to the appearance 
of the ghost, asks Horatio (i. 2) : 

" Did you hOt speak to it ?'" 

1 We may compare the words "unquestionable spir, it" in "As You 
Like It" (iii. 2). which means "a spirit averse to conversation." 



46 FOLK-LORE OF St[AKESPEAREo 
\Vhereupon he replies: 
"My lord, I did ; 
But answer ruade it none : yet once, methought 
It lifted up its head and did address 
Itself to motion, like as it would speak." 
The walking of spirits sccms also to have been enjoined 
by way of penance. Thc ghost of I famlct's father (i. 5) 
says : 
" I ara thy father's spirit, 
Doom'd for a certain terre to walk the nlght, 
And for the day confin'd to fast in rires, 
Till the foul crimes donc in my days of nature 
Are burnt and purg'd away." 
And furthcr on (iii. 2) Ilamlct exclaims: 
" It is a damned ghost that we have seen. » 
This superstition is rcferrcd to b¥ Spcnser in his " Fairy 
Queen " (book i. canto ;): 
"What volte of damned ghost [rom Limbo lake 
Or guileful spright wand'ring in empty ayre, 
Sends to my doubtful eares these speeches rare ?" 
According to a universal belief l.revalent from the earliest 
rimes, it was supposed that ghosts had some particular rea- 
son for quitting the mansions of the dead, " such as a desire 
that their bodies, if unburied, should receive Christian rites 
ofsepulture, that a murderer might be brought to due pun- 
ishment," etc.' On this account Horatio (" Hamlet," i. i) 
invokes the ghost : 
" If there be any good thing to be donc, 
That may to thee do esse and grace to me, 
Speak to me. ' 
And in a later scelle (i. 4" Hamlet says : 
"Sa)', why is this ? wherefore ? What should we do ?" 
The Greeks believed that such as had hot received funeral 
rites would be excluded from Elysium ; and thus the wan- 

' Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," pp. 450, 45. 



GHOSTS. 47 
dering shade of Patroclus appears to Achilles in his sleep, 
and demands the performance of his funeral. Thc younger 
Pliny tclls a story of a haunted housc at Athcns, in which a 
ghost played all kinds of pranks, owing to his funcral rites 
having been neglccted. _/k further refcrcncc to the supcr- 
stition occurs in " Titus Andronicus" (i. I), whcre Imcius, 
speaking of the unburicd SOllS of Titus, says : 
"Give us the proudest prisoner of the Goths, 
That we may hew his limbs, and, on a pile, 
..Ici ma,wsfralr,tm sacrifice his flesh. 
Before this earthy prison of their bones; 
That so the shadows be not unappeased. 
Nor we disturbed with prodigies on earth." 
In olden timcs, spirits were said to have diffcrent allot- 
ments of time, suitablc to the variety and nature of their 
agency. Prospero, in the " Tcmpest " (i. 2), says to Caliban : 
" 13e sure, to-night thou shalt have cramps, 
Side-stitches that shall pen thy breath up; urchins 
Shall. for that vast ' of night that they may work, 
AIl exercise on thee." 
According to a popular notion, the prcsence of unearthly 
beings was announced by an alteration in the tint of the 
lights which happened to be burning--a superstition alluded 
to in " Richard III." (v. 3), whcre the tyrant exclaims, as he 
awakens : 
"The lights burn blue.--It is now dead midnight. 
Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh--- 
Methought the souls of all that I had murder'd 
Came to my tent." 
$o in " Julius Caesar" (iv. 3), Brutus, on seeing the ghost 
of C,'esar, exclaims : 
"How ill this taper burns ! Ha I who cornes hem ?" 
It has bcen a wide-spread belief from the most remote 

 Vast, i. e., space of night. So in " Hatnlet" (i. 2) : 
" In the dead waste and middle of the night." 



48 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
period that ghosts cannot bear the light, and so disappear 
at thc dawn of day; thcir signal being the cock-crmv.' The 
ghost of I Iamlet's father says (i. 51: 
"But, sort! methinks I scent the morning air; 
Brief let me be"-- 

" Fare thee well at once. 
The glow-worm shows the matin to be near, 
And 'gins to pare his uneffectual tire : 
Adieu, adieu ! Hamlet, remember me." 

Again, in " King Lcar" (iii. 4), Edgar says: " This is the 
foui ficnd Flibbcrtigibbct : he begins at curfew, and walks 
till the first cock." 
The time of night, as the season wherein spirits wandcr 
abroad, is further noticed by Gardincr in "llenry VIII " 
(. 0: 
"Affairs. that walk. 
As tbey say spirits do. at midmt, ht. 
It was a prcvalent notion that a person who crossed the 
spot on which a spectre was seen bccame subject to its ma- 
lignant influence. In " Hamlet " (i. ), lloratio says, in rcf- 
erence to the ghost : 
"But sort. behold ! 1o, where it cornes again ! 
l'Il cross it, though it blast me." 
Lodge, in his " Illustrations of British History" çiii. 48), 
tells us that among the reasons for supposing the death of 
l"erdinand, Earl of Derby (who died young, in  594), to have 
bcen occasioned by witchcraft, was the following: " On Fri- 
dav there appeared a tall man, who twice crossed him swift- 
ly; and when the earl came to the place whcre he saw this 
man, ho fell sicl«" 
Reginald Scot, in his " Discovcry of \Vitchcraft " (584), 
enumerates the different kinds of spirits, and particularly 
notices white, black, «ra,,j, and red spirits. " So in '" Mac- 
beth" (ix'. ), " black spirits" are mcntioned---thc charm 
' See p. I o4. 



GIIOSTS. 49 
song referred to (like tle one in act iv.) bcing found in lIid- 
dleton's " \Vitcl " (v. 2 : 
" Black spirits and white 
Red spirits and gray; 
Mingle, mingle, mingle, 
You that mingle may." 
A well-known superstition which still prevails in this and 
forcign countrics is that of tlm "spectre huntsman and his 
flrious host." As night-time approaches, it is supposed that 
this invisible personage rides through the air xvith his yelp- 
ing hounds; their weird sound being thought to forbode 
misfortunc of somc kind. This popular piece of folk-lore 
cxists in the north of England undcr a varicty of forms 
among our peasantry, who tenaciously cling to the tradi- 
tions which have been handcd down to thcm.' It has been 
suggested that Shakespcare lad sonne of these superstitions 
in view when he placed in the mouth of lIacbeth {,i. 
v«hile contemplating the murder of Duncan, the following 
metaphors : 
"And pity, like a naked new-born babe, 
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, horsed 
Upon the sightless couriers of the air, 
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye, 
That tears shall drown the wind 
Again, in " The Tempest " (iv. ), l'rospero and Ariel are 
represented as setting on spirits, in the shape of hounds, to 
hunt Steplano and Trinculo. This species of diabolical or 
spectral chase was formerly a popular article of bclief. As 
Drake aptly remarks, ' "thc hell-hounds of Shakespeare ap- 
pear to be sufficiently formidable, for, not merely commis- 
sioned to hunt their victims, they. are ordered, likewise, as 
goblins," to-- 
"grind their joints 
¥'ith di T convulsions ; shorten up their sinews 

 See Hardwick's "Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-lore," 1872, 
pp.  53-76. 
" " Shakespeare and His Times," vol. i. p. 378. 
4 



5o 

FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

With aged cramps; and more pinch-spotted make them 
Than pard or cat o' mountain. 
.4riel. Hark, they roar ! 
-Pro@ero. Let them be hunted soundly." 

TRANSMIGRATION OF SOULS. 
Shakespeare has several references to the old superstitious 
bclief in the transmigration of souls, traces of which may 
still be found in the reverence paid to the robin, the wren, 
and othcr birds. Thus, in "The Merchant of Venice'" (iv. 
Gratiano says to Shylock : 
"Thou almost makest me waver in my faith 
To hold opinion with Pythagoras 
That souls of animais infuse themselves 
Into the trunks of men : thy currish spirit 
Govern'd a wolf, who, hang'd for human slaughter, 
Even from the gallows did his fell soul fleet. 
And. whilst thou lay'st in thy unhallow'd data. 
Infused itself in thee ; for thy desires 
Are wolfish, bloody, starved, and ravenous." 
Caliban, when remonstrating with the drunken Stephano 
and Trinculo, for delaying at the mouth ofthe cave of Pros- 
pero, instead of taking the magician's life (" Tempest," iv. l), 
says : 
" I will have none on't : we shall lose out time, 
And ail be turn'd to barnacles, or to apes." 
In " Hamlet" (iv. 5), in the scene where Ophelia, in her 
mental aberration, quotes snatches of old ballads, shc says: 
" They.say the owl was a baker's daughter! Lord, we know 
what we are, but know hOt what we may be."' 
Again, in "Twelfth Night " (iv. 2), there is another refer- 
ence in the amusing passage where the clown, under the 
pretence of his being "Sir Topas, the curate," questions 
Malvolio, when confincd in a dark room, as a presumed 
lunatic : 

 See Ow chap. vi. 



GHOSTS. 5 I 
"3[aL I ara no more mad than 3 ou are : make the trial of it in any 
constant question. 
C[o. What is the opinion of Pythagoras concerning wild fowl ? 
IZ«L That the soul of our grandam might imply inhabit a bird. 
Clé. What thinkest thou of his opinion ? 
zZaL I think nobly of the soul, and no way approve his opinion. 
C[o. Fare thee well. Remain thou stiil in darkness : thou shalt hold 
the opinion of Pythagoras ere I will ailow of tltv wits, and fear to 
kiil a woodcock lest thou dispossess the soul of thy grandam." 
Although this primitive superstition is ahnost effete 
among civilized nations, )'et it still retains an important 
place in the religious beliefs of savage and uncivilized com- 
m un it les. 



CHAPTER IV. 
DEMONOLOGV AND DEVIL-LORE. 
TIIF. state of popular feeling in past centuries with regard 
to the active agency of devils has bcen well represented by 
Reginald Scot, who, in his work on \Vitchcraft, has shown 
how the superstitious belief in demonology was part of the 
great system of witchcraft. Many of the popular delusions 
of this terrible forln of superstition have been in a masterly 
manner exposed by Shakespeare; and the scattered allu- 
sions which he has given, illustrative of it, are indeed sufficient 
to prove, if it were necessary, what a highly elaborate creed 
it was. t|appily, Shakespeare, like the other dramatists of 
the period, has generally treated the subject with ridicule, 
showing that he had no sympathy with the grosser opinions 
shared by various classes in those times, whether held by 
king or clown. According to ail old belief, still firmly cred- 
ited in the poet's day, it was supposed that devils could at 
any moment assume whatcver form they pleased that would 
most conduce to the success of any contemplated enterprise 
they might have in hand ; and hence the charge of being a 
devil, so commonly brought against innocent and harmless 
persons in former years, can easily be understood. _Among 
the incidental allusions to this notion, given by Shakespeare, 
Prince Hal (" I I{enry IV.," ii. 4) tells Falstaff " there is a 
devil haunts thee in the likeness of an old fat man ;" "an 
old white-bearded Satan." In the " Merchant of Venice" 
(iii. x) Salanio, on the approach of Shylock, says : " Let me 
say ' amen' betimes, lest the devil cross my prayer, for here 
he cornes in the likeness of a Jew." 
Indeed," all shapes that man goes up and down in " seem 
to have been at the devil's control, a belief referred to in 
" Timon of Athens" (ii. 2) : 



DEMONOLOG¥ AND DEVIL-LORE. 53 
" l'ar. Sers,. What is a whoremaster, fool ? 
FooL A fool in good clothes, and somcthing like thee. 'Tis a 
spirit: sometime 't appears like a lord; sometime like a lawyer; 
sometime like a philosopher, with two stones moe than's artificial 
one : he is very oIten like a knight ; and, generally, in ail shapes that 
man goes up and clown in from tourscore to thirteen, this spirit walks 
in." 
A popular form assumed by evil spirits was that of a ne- 
gro or lIoor, to which Iago alludcs whcn he incites la;raban- 
tio to search for his daughtcr, in " Othcllo " (i. I) : 
" Zounds, sir, you are robb'd ; for shame, put on your gown ; 
¥our heart is burst, you have lost hall your soul ; 
Even now, now, very now, an old black rare 
Is tupping your white ewe. Arise, arise ! 
Awake the snorting citizens with the bcll, 
Or else the devil will make a grandsire of you. 
Arise, I say." 
On thc othcr hand, so diverse were the forms which dcv- 
ils wcre supposed to assume that they are said occasionally 
to appear in the fairest form, even in that of a girl (il. 3) : 
"When devils will the blackest sins put on, 
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows." 
So in " Thc Comedy of Errors " (iv. 3) we have the follow- 
ing dialogue : 
".4nl. S. Satan, avoid ! I charge thee, tempt me hot ! 
Dro. S. Master, is this mistress Satan ? 
.//,t/'. S. It is the devil. 
Dro. S. Nay, she is worse, she is the devil's data; and here she 
cornes in the habit of a light wench; and thereot cornes that the 
wenches say, ' God damn me ;' that's as much as to say,' God make me 
a iight wench.' It is written, they appear to men like angels oI light." 
(Cf. also " Love's Labour's Lost," iv. 3-) In " King John " 
(iii. I) even the fair Blanch seemed to Constance none othcr 
than the devil tempting Lewis "in likeaess of a new un- 
trimmed bride." 
Not only, too, were devils thought to assume any human 
shape they fancied, but, as Mr. Spalding remarks,' " the forms 

' " Elizabethan Demonology," p. 49. 



.54 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Of the whole of the animal kingdom appear to have been at 
the[r disposal; and, not content with thesc, they seem to 
bave sought for unlikely shapes to appear i"--the same 
characteristic belonging also to the fairy tribe. 
Thus, whe Edgar is tryig to persuadc the blind Glouces- 
ter that he bas in reality cast himself over the cliff, he de- 
scribes the bcing from whom ho is supposcd to have just 
departed : 
• ' As I stood here below, methought his eyes 
Were two full moons ; he had a thousand noses, 
Horns whelk'd and wav'd like the enridged sea : 
It was some fieml." 
.\gain, Edgar says (" King I.ear," iii. 6): " The foul fiend 
haunts poor Tom in thc voice of a nightitgale"--the allu- 
sion probably being to thc following incident related by 
I"riswood \Villiams: " Thcre was also anothcr strange thing 
happcned at Dcnham about a bird. Mistris l'eckham had 
a nightingale which she kept in a cage, wherein Maister Dib- 
dale took great dclight, and would offen be playing with it. 
The nightingale was one night conveyed out of the cage, 
and beig ncxt morning diligently sought for, could hot be 
heard of, till Maister Maiifie's devil, in one of his fits (as it 
was prctended), said that thc wicked spirit which was il this 
cxaminatc's siste- had talen the bird out of the cage and 
killed it in despite of Maister Dibdale. '' 
Even the shape of a fly 'as a favorite one with evil spir- 
its, so much so, that the terre " fly" was a popula- synonym 
for a familiar. In "'Fitus _Andronicus" (iii. 2) the'e is an 
allusio to this belief, where Marcus, being rebuked by Titus 
for havig l¢illed a fly, gi'es as his reason : 
"It was a black ill-favour'd fly, 
Like to the empress' Moor : therefore I kill'd him." 
Mr. Spaldillg gives the following illustrations of the super- 
stition: "At thc execution of Urban Grandier, the famous 
magician of London, i 634, a large fly was seen buzzing 

 Harsnet's "Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures," p. 225. 



DEMONOLOG¥ AND DEVIL-LORE. 55 
about the stake; and a priest promptly seizing the oppor- 
tunity of improving the occasion for the benefit of the on- 
lookers, dcclared that Bcclzcbub had corne in his own propcr 
person to carry offGrandicr's soul to hcll. In 664 occurrcd 
the celebrated witch trials which took place before Sir Mat- 
thev Hale. The accused were charged with bewitching two 
children, and part of the evidence against them was that 
files and bees were seen to carry into their victims' mouths 
the nails and pins which they afterwards vomited." 
Once more, anothcr form devils assumcd was that of a 
dead fricnd. Thus " Itamlct " (i. 4), whcn he confronts the 
apparition, cxclaims : 
"Angels and ministers of grace defend us ! 
Re thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn'd. 
Bring with thee airs from heaven, or blasts from hell. 
Be thy intents wicked, or charitable. 
Thou coin'st in such a questionable shape 
That I will speak to thee"-- 
for, as Mr. Spalding remarks, '" it cannot be imagincd that 
Hamlet imagined that a 'goblin damned' could actually be 
the spirit of lais dead father; and, therefore, the alternative 
in his mind must bc that lac saw a devil assuming his father's 
likeness--a form which the Evil One knew would most in- 
cite Hamlct to intcrcourse." 
The saine idca scems present in ltoratio's mind : 
"What. if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord. 
Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff. 
That beetles o'er his base into the sea. 
And there assume some other horrible form. 
Which might deprive your sovereignty of reason, 
And draw you into madness ?" 
Once more, in the next act (ii. 2), Hamlet again exp,esses 
his doubts: 
"The spirit that I have seen 
May be the devil : and the devil hath power 
To assume a pleasing shape ; yea, and. perhaps. 
Out of my weakness and my melancholy, 
As he is very potent with stch spirits, 
Abuses me to damn me." 



56 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
In the Elizabcthan rimes, too, no superstitious belicf ex- 
erted a more pernicious and baneful influence on the credu- 
lous and ignorant than the notion that evil spirits from time 
to time entered into human beings, and so completely gained 
a despotic control over them as to tender them perfectly 
helpless. Harsnct, in his " Dcclaration of Egregious Popish 
Impostures" (6o3), has exposed this gross superstition; 
and a comparison of the passages in " King Lear," spoken 
by Edgar whcn feigning madness, with those given by Hars- 
net, will shoxv that Shakespeare has accurately given the 
contemporary belief on the subject. Mr. Spalding also con- 
siders that nearly ail the allusions in " King Lear" refer to 
a youth known as Richard Mainey, a minute account of 
whose supposcd possession has been given by Harsnct. 
Pcrsons so possesscd wcre often bound and shut up in a 
dark room, occasionally being forced to submit fo flagella- 
tion--a treatment hot unlike that described in "Romeo 
and Juliet " {,i. 
"Not mad, but bound more than a madman is 
Shut up in prison, kept without my food, 
Whipp'd and tormented." 
In the "Comedy of Errors" (iv. 4) we have an amusing 
scene, further illustrative, probably, of the kind of treatment 
adopted in Shakespeare's day: 
" Coz«rtcsat. How say you now ? is not your husband mad ? 
A«tri«ta. His incivility confirms no less-- 
Good doctor Pinch, you are a conjurer ; 
Establish him in his true sense again, 
And I will please you what you will demand. 
Luciaa. Alas, how fiery and how sharp he looks 
Court«sa¢. Mark how he trembles in his ecstasy 
P[zcl. Give me your hand, and let me feel your puise. 
/1«t. F. There is my hand, and let it feel your ear. 
/'iwh. I charge thee, Satan, hous'd within this man, 
To yield possession to my holy prayers, 
And to thy state of darkness hie thee straight : 
I conjure thee by ail the saints in heaxen." 
Pinch further says : 
"They must be bound, and laid in some dark room." 



DEMONOLOGY AND DEVIL-LORE. 57 
_As Brand remarks,' there is no vulgar story of the devil's 
having appeared anywhere without a cloven foot. I11 graphic 
representations he is seldom or never picturcd without one. 
In the following passage, where Othello is questioning wheth- 
er Iago is a devil or not, lac says (r. 2): 
" I look down towards his feet ;--but that's a fable.- 
If that thou be'st a devil, I cannot kill thee." 
Dr. Jolmson gives this explanation : " I look towards lais 
feet to see if, according to thc COl-nl'!Oll opinion, lais feet be 
clovell." 
In Massinger's " Virgin Martyr" iii. 3), IIarpax, an evil 
spirit, following Theoplfilus in the shapc of a secretary, 
speaks thus of the superstitious Christian's description of 
his infernal enemy: 
" l'Il tell you what now of the devil : 
He's no such horrid creature; cloven-footed, 
Black, saucer-ey'd, his nostrils breathing tire, 
As these lying Christians make him." 

GOOD AND EVII, DEMONS. 

It was formerly commonly believed that hOt only king- 
dolrlS had thcir tutelary guardians, but that every person 
had lais particular gcnius or good angel, to protect and ad- 
monish him by dreams, visions, etc? Hence, in "Antony 
and Clcopatra" (ii. 3), the soothsayer, speaking of Cœesar, 

SayS : 

"O Antony, stay not by his side : 
Thy demon,--that's thy spirit which keeps thee,--is 
Noble, courageous, high. unmatchable, 
Where Csar's is not ; but, near him. thy angel 
Becomes a fear, as being o'erpower'd." 

Thus Macbeth (iii. I) speaks in a similar manner in ref- 
erence to Banquo : 

"Pop. Antiq.," I849. vol. ii. pp. 57-519 . 
Ibid. vol. i. pp. 365-367. 



58 

FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 

"There is none but he 
Whose being I do fear ; and. under him, 
My Genius is rebuked ; as, it is said. 
Mark Antony's was by Coesar." 
Go, too, in " 2 Henry IV." (i. 2), the Cier-justice says : 
"You follow the young prince up and clown, like his ill angel." 
\Ve may quote a furthcr reference in "Julius Çoesar" 
(iii. 2), where Antony says : 
" For Brutus, as you know. was Coesar's angel." 
" In the Roman world," says Air. Tylor, in his " Primitive 
Culture" (1873, vol. ii. p. 2o2), " each man had lais 'genius 
natalis,' associatcd with him from birth to dcath, influencing 
his action and his fatc, standing rcprescnted by its proper 
image, as a far among the houselaold gods and at weddings 
and joyous times, and especially on the anniversary of the 
birthday whcn genius and mail began their united career, 
worship was paid with song and dance to the divine image, 
adorned with garlands, and propitiated with incense and 
libations of wine. The demon or genius was, as it were, the 
man's companion soul, a second spiritual Ego. The Egyp- 
tian astrologcr warned Antonius to keep far from the young 
Octavius, ' For thy demon,' said he, ' is in fear of his.' " 
The allusion by Lady Macbeth I.i. 5), in the following pas- 
sage, is to the spirits of Revenge : 
"Came. you spirits 
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here. 
And fill me, from the crown to the toe. top-full 
()f direst cruelty !" 
In Nash's " Pierce Pennilesse" we find a description of 
these spirits and of their office. "The second kind ofdev- 
ils which he most employeth are those northern _a[arlii, 
called the Spir#s of Rcv«ngc, and the authors of massacres 
and seed-men of mischief; for they have commission to in- 
cense men to rapine, sacrilege, theft, lnurder, wrath, fury, 
and all lnanner of cruelties; and they command certain of 
the southern spirits to wait upon them, as also great Arioch, 



DEMONOLOGV AND DEVIL-LORE. 59 
that is termed the Spirit of Revenge." In another passage 
we are further told how " the spirits of thc aire will mixe 
themselves with thundcr and lightning, and so infect the 
clime where thcy raisc any tempcst, that suddcnly great 
mortalitie shall ensue of the inhabitants." "Acrial spirits 
or devlls, according to Burton's "Anatomy of Mclancholy, 
"are such as keep quarter most part in the aire, cause many 
tcmpests, thtmder and lightlings, tear oakes, tire steeples, 
houses, strike men and bcasts," ctc. Thus, in " King John "' 
(iii. 2), the Bastard rcmarks : 
"Now. by my lire. this day grows wondrous hot ; 
Some airy dcvil hovers in thc sky, 
And pours down mischief." 
It was anciently supposed that all milleS ofgold, etc., were 
guarded by evil spirits. Thus Falstaff, in "2 ttcnry IV." 
(iv. 3), speaks of learning as "a mere hoard of gold kept by a 
devil." This superstition still prevails, and has been ruade 
the subject of many a legend. Thus, it is believed by the 
peasantry living near Largo-Law, Scotland, that a rich naine 
ofgold is concealcd in the lnountain. "A spectre once ap- 
peared there, supposed to be the guardian of the lnine, who, 
being accosted by a neighboring shepherd, prolnised to tell 
him at a certain time and on certain conditions, where' the 
gowd mine is in Largo-Law,' especially enjoining that the 
horn sounded for the housing of the cows at the adjoining 
farm of Balmain should not blow. Every precaution hav- 
ing been taken, the ghost was true to his tryst ; but, unhap- 
pily, when he was about to divulge the desired secret, Tare- 
mie Norrie, the cowherd of Bahnain, blew a blast, whereupon 
the ghost vanished, with the denunciation" 
• Woe to the man that blew the horn. 
For out of the spot he shall ne'er be borne." 
The unlucky horn-blower was struck dead, and, as it was 
round impossible to remove the body, a cairn of stones was 
raised over it. '' 

' See Jones's "Credulities. Past and Present," I880, p. 133. 



60 17OLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
Steevens considers that when Macbeth (iii. 2) says: 
• ' Good things of day begin to droop and drowse ; 
Whiles night's black agents to their preys do rouse," 
he rcfcrs to those demons who were supposed to remain in 
their several places of confincment all day, but at the close 
of it were released ; such, indeed, as are mentioned in " The 
Tempest " (,v. I), as rejoicing " to hear the solemn curfew," 
because it amaounced the hour of their fi-eedom. 
Alnong other superstitions we may quote one in the 
" Merchant of Venice" (iii. I), whcre Salanio says: " Let 
me say 'amen' bctimes, lest the dcvil cross my prayer." 
Of the dcvils mcntioned by Shakespcare ma 5" be noted 
the following : 
Amahnozz is one of thc chicf, whose dominion is on the 
north side of the infernal gulf. IIc might be bound or re- 
strained from doing lmrt fl-om the third hour till noon, and 
from the ninth hour till evening. In the " ]Ierry \Vives of 
\Vindsor" (ii. 2) Ford mentions this devil, and in " 1 Henry 
IV." (il. 4] Falstaffsays : "That saine mad fcllow ofthe north, 
Pcrcy ; and he of Wales, that gave Amaimon the bastinado, 
and ruade Lucifcr cuckold. ''' 
The north was always supposed to be the particular habi- 
tation of bad spirits. Milton, therefore, assemblës the rebel 
angels in the north. In "  Henry VI." (v. 3), La Pucelle 
invokes the aid of the spirits: 
" Under the lordly monarch of the north.'" 
)«rbctsozz. This demon would seem to be the saine as 
" Marbas, alias ]3arbas," who, as Scot  informs us, " is a great 
president, and appeareth in the forme of a mightie lion ; but 
at the commandment of a conjurer cometh up in the likeness 
of man, and answereth fullie as touching anything which is 
hidden or secret." In the " 1crry \Vives of \Vindsor" (,il. 2) 
it is mentioned by Ford in connection with Lucifer, and 

 See Scot's "' Discovery of Witchcraft," i584, p. 393; Douce's " Il- 
lustrations of Shakespeare," p. 264.  Ibid. p. 378. 



DEMONOLOGY AND DEVIL-LORE. 61 

again in " Henry V." (il. I) Nym tells Pistol: " I am not 
Barbason ; you cannot conjure me." 
The names of the several fiends in " King Lear," Shake- 
speare is supposed to have derived from I [arsnet's " Dcclara- 
tion of Egregious Popish Impostures" (I6O3). 
t«libbcrtigibb«l, one of the fiends that possessed poor Tom, 
is, we are told (iv. ), the fiend " of mopping and lnowing, 
who since possesses chambermaids and waiting-women." 
And again (iii. 4), " he begins at curfew, and walks till the 
first cock; lac gives the web and the pin." 
Frah'rctto is referred to by Edgar (iii. 6): " Fratcretto 
calls me; and tells llle, Nero is an angler in the lake of 
darkness. Pray, innocent, and beware the foui ficnd." 
lgoblidi«l«p«cc is noticcd as " prince of dumbness" (iv. I), 
and perhaps is the smne as Hopdance (iii. 6), " who cries," 
says Edgar, " in Tom's belly for two white herring." 
3[«/t¢t, like :][o«to, would seem to be another name for " the 
prince of darkness" (iii. 4), and further on (ix-. I)ho is spoken 
of as the fiend "ofstealing;" whcreas the latter is described 
as the fiend "of murder." Harsnet thus speaks of them: 
" l\Iaho was gencral dictator of hell ; and yet, for good man- 
ners' sake, he was contented of lais good nature to make 
show, that himself was under the check of Modu, the graund 
devil in Ma(ister) Maynie." 
Obi«tiatt, another name of the fiend known as Haberdicut 
(iv. I). 
Smld'i« (iii. 4). This is spelled Smolkin by Harsnet. 
Thus, iii a masterly manner, Shakespeare bas illustrated 
and embellished lais plays with references to the demonology 
of the period ; having been careful in every case--while en- 
livening lais audience--to convince them of the utter ab- 
surdity of this degraded form of superstition. 



CHAPTER V. 
NATUR.\L PHEç)MENA. 
MANV of the lnost beautiful and graphic passages in 
Shakespeare's writings have pictured the sun in highly glow- 
ing language, and often invested it with that sweet pathos 
for which the poet was so signally famous. Expressions, 
for instance, such as the following, are ever frequent : " the 
glorious sun" (" Twelfth Night," ix-. 3) ; "heaven's glorious 
sun" (" Love's Labour's Lost," i. ); "gorgeous as the sun 
at midsummer'" ("I Henry IV.," iv. I); "all the world is 
cheered by the sun " (" Richard III.," i. 2) ; "the sacred ra- 
diance of the sun " (" King Lear," i. ); "sveet tidings of 
the sun's uprise" (" Titus Andronicus," iii. ), etc. Then, 
again, how often we corne across passages replete with 
pathos, such as " thy sun sers weeping in the lowly west" 
." Richard II.," il. 4); " ere the weary sun set in the west" 
("Comedy of Errors," i. 2); " the weary sun hath ruade a 
golden set" (" Richard III.," v. 3); " The sun, fol" sorrow, will 
hot show his head" (" Romeo and Juliet," v. 3), etc. _A1- 
though, however, Shakespeare has ruade such constant men- 
tion of the sun, yet his allusions to the folk-lore connected 
with it are SOlnewhat scanty. 
According to the old philosophy the sun was accounted 
a planet,' and thought to be whirled round the earth by the 
motion of a solid sphere, iii which it was fixed. In " Antonv 
and Cleopatra" (iv. 3), Cleopatra exclaims: 
"' 0 sun, 
Burn the great sphere thou mov'st in ! darkling stand 
The varying shore o' the world." 
Supposing this sphere consumed, the Stlll must wander in 

 Singer's "Shakespeare," vol. x. p. 292. 



NATURAL PttENOMENA. 63 
cndless space, and, as a natural consequence, the earth be 
involved in endless night. 
In " I Henry IV." (i. 2), Falstaff, according to vulgar as- 
tronomy, calls the sun a "wandcring knight," and by this 
expression evidently alludes to some knight of romance. 
Mr. Douce' considered the allusion was to "The Voyage of 
the Wandering Knight," by Jean de Cathenay, of which thc 
translation, by \V. Goodyeare, appeared about the year 16OO. 
The words may be a portion of some forgottcn ballad. 
A pretty fancy is refcrrcd to in " Romco and Juliet" (iii. 5), 
wherc Capulct says: 
"When the sun sers. the air doth drizzle dew ; 
But for the sunset of my brothcr's son 
It rains downright." 
And so, too, in the " Rape of Lucrece:" 
" But as thc earth doth weep. the sun being set." 
" That Shakespeare thought it was the air," says Singer,  
"and hOt the earth, that drizzled dew, is evidcnt from many 
passages in his works. Tllus, in ' King John' (il. I) he says: 
• Beforc the dew of evcning fall.'" Stcevens, alluding to thc 
following passage in ",\ Midsumlner-Night's Dream" (iii. 
"and when she Il. c., the moon] weeps, weeps every little 
flower," says that Shakespeare "lneans that every little 
flower is moistened with dew, as if with tears; and hOt that 
the flower itself drizzles dew." 
By a popular fancy, the sun was formerly said to dance at 
its rising on Easter morning--to which there may be an al- 
lusion in " Romeo and Juliet" (iii. 5, whcre Romeo, addrcss- 
ing J ulict, says" 
"look, love. what envious streaks 
Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east ; 
Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day 
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops." 
\Ve rnay also compare the expression in "Coriolanus" (v. 4): 

 " Illustrations of Shakespeare," 1839, pp. 255, 256. 
 Singer's "Shakespeare," vol. viii. p. 2o8. 



64 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
" The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries, and files, 
Tabors, and cymbals, and the shouting Romans, 
Make the sun dance." 
Mr. Knight remarks, there was "something exquisitely 
beautifll in the old custom ofgoing forth into the fields be- 
fore the sun had risen on Easter Day, to see him mounting 
over the hills with trcmulous motion, as if it were an animate 
thing, bounding in sympathy with the redcemcd of man- 
kind." ' 
A cloudy rising of the sun has generally been regarded as 
ominous--a superstition equally prevalent on the Continent 
as in this country. In " Richard III." (v. 3), King Richard 
Rsks : 
"Who saw the sun to-day ? 
]¢«tcl(ff'. Not I, my lord, 
A'. Ri«har«t. Then he disdains to shine ; for, by the book 
He should have braved the east an hour ago : 
A black day will it be to somebody." 
" The learned Moresin, in his 'Papatus,'" says Brand,  
"reckons among omens the cloudy rising of the sun." 
Vergil, too, in his first Georgic (441-449), considers it a sign 
of stormy weather : * 
" Ille ubi nascentem maculis variaverit ortum 
Conditus in nubem, medioque refugerit orbe, 
Suspecti tibi sint imbres ; namque urger ab alto 
Arboribusque satisque Notus pecorique sinister, 
Aut ubi sub lucem densa inter nubila sese 
Diversi rumpent radii, aut ubi pallida surget, 
Tithoni croceum linquens Aurora cubile, 
Heu, maie tum mitis defendet pampinus uvas : 
Tam multa in tectis crepitans salit horrida grando." 
A red sunrise is also unpropitious, and, according to a well- 
known rhyme : 
" If red the sun begins his race, 
Be sure the rain will fall apace." 

 See Knight's " Life of Shakespeare," 843, p. 63. 
= " Pop. Antiq.," 1849, vol. iii. p. 24- 
a Sec Swainson's "Weather-Lore, » 1873, p. 76, for popular adages on 
the Continent. 



NATURAL PHENOMENA. .6 5 
This old piece of weathcr-wisdom is mentioncd by out 
Lord in St. Matthew, xvi. 2, 3 : " \Vhcn it is evcning, ye say, 
It will be fait weather: for the sky is rcd. And in the 
morning, It will be foul weathcr to-day, for the sky is red 
and lowring." Shakespcarc, in lais " Venus and Adonis," 
thus describcs it: 
"a red morn, that ever yet betoken'd 
Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field, 
Sorrow to shephcrds, woe unto the birds, 
Gusts and foul flaws to hcrdmen and to hcrds." 
Mr. SwaillSOll' shows that this laotioll is commola Oll thc 
Continelat. Thus, at Milan the provcrb runs," If the morn 
be rcd, rain is at hand." 
Shakespearc, in " Richard II." (il. 4), alludes to another 
indication of tain : 
"Thy sun sers weeping in the lowly west, 
Witnessing storms to corne, woe and unrest." 
A " watery sunsct " is still considered by many a forerun- 
ner of wet. A red sunset, on the other hand, beautiflllly de- 
scribed in " Richard III." (v. 3)-- 
"The weary sun hath marie a golden set,"-- 
is universally regarded as a prognostication of fine weather, 
and we find countless proverbs illustrative of this notion, 
one of the most popular bcing, " Sky red at night, is the 
sailor's delight." 
From the earlicst rimes an eclipse of the sun was looked 
upon as an omcn of coming calamity; and was oftentimes 
the source of extraordinary alarm as well as the occasion of 
various superstitious ceremonies. In  597, during an eclipse 
of thc sun, it is stated that, at Edinburgh, men and women 
thought the day of judgment was corne) [ally wOIYlell 
swooned, much crying was heard in the streets, and iii fear 
some ran to the kirk to pray. Mr. Napier says he remembers 

' "Weather-Lore," pp. 175. 76. 
 Napier's " Folk-Lore of West of Scotland," x879, P. 14I. 
5 



66 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"an eclipse about 88, when about three parts of the sun 
was covercd. The alarm in the village was very great, in- 
door work was suspended for the time, and in scveral familles 
prayers were offercd for protection, believing that it por- 
tended some awful calamity; but when it passed off there 
was a general fceling of relief." In "Kiug Lear" (i. 2), 
Gloucester rcmarks: "These late eclipses in the sun and 
moon portend no good to us: though the wisdom of nature 
can reason it thus and thus, yct nature finds itself scourged 
by the sequent cffects ; love cools, fliendship falls off, brothers 
divide; in cities, mutinies : in countries, discord ; in palaces, 
treason; and the bond cracked 'twixt son and father." 
Othello, too (v. 2), in his agony and dcspair, exclaims : 
"O heavy hour ! 
Methinks it should be now a huge eclipse 
l)f sun and moon, and that the affrighted globe 
Should yawn at alteration." 
Francis Bernier' says that, in France, in 654, at an eclipse 
of the sun,"some bought drugs against the eclipse, others 
kept themselves close in the dark in their caves and their 
well-closed chambers, others cast themselves in great mul- 
titudes into the churches • those apprehending some malign 
and dangerous influence, and these bclieving that they were 
corne to the last day, and that thc cclipse would shake the 
foundations of nature." = 
In " 3 Henry VI." {il. , Shakespeare refers to a curious 
circumstance in which, on a certain occasion, the sun is re- 
ported to have appeared like three suns. Edward says, "do 
I see thrce suns?" to which Richard replies: 
"Three glorious suns. each one a perfect sun ; 
Not separated with the racking clouds, 
But sever'd in a pale clear-shining sky. 
See. see ! they join, embrace, and seem to Mss, 
As if they vov'd some league inviolable : 

' Ouoted in Southey's "Commonplace Book," t849, 2d series, p. 462. 
 See Tylor's " Primitive Culture," t87, vol. i. pp. 265,296 , 297 ` 32i. 



NATURAL PItENOMENA. 67 
Now are they but ont lamp. one light, one sun, 
In this the heaven figures some event." 
This fact is mcntioned both by Itall and lIolinshcd ; the 
latter says: "At which tyme thc sun (as some write) ap- 
peared to the Earl of Match like thra" slmn«s, and sodaincly 
joyncd altogethcr il olle, UpOll whiche sight hee tooke such 
courage, that he fiercely setting on his enemyes put them to 
flight." \Ve may note here that Oll Trinity Sunday thrce 
suns are supposed to be Seell. 111 the " Mémoires de 
l'Académie Celtique" (iii. 447), it is stated that " Le jour de 
la f6te de la Trinité, quelques personne vont de grand matin 
dans la calnpagnc, pour y voir levrc trois soleils à la fois." 
/kccording to ail old proverb, to quit a bcttcr fol" a worse 
situation was spoken of as to ao "out of God's blessing into 
the warm sun," a reference to which we find in " King Lear" 
(ii. 2), where Kent says : 
"Good king, that must approve the common saw, 
Thou out of heaven's benediction coin'st 
To the warm sun." 
Dr. Johnson thinks that llamlet alludes to this sayillg 
(i. 2), for when the king says to hiln, 
• ' How is it that the clouds still bang on you ?" 
he replies, 
"Not so, my lord ; I ana too much i' the sun," 
i. c., out of God's blessing. 
This expression, says Mr. Dyce, ' is found in various authors 
from Heywood dowll to Swift. The former has: 
'" In your running from him to me, yee runne 
Out of God's blessing into the warme sunne ;" 
and the latter: 

 In "3 Henry VI." (il. I), Edward says : 
"henceforward will I bear 
Upon my target three fair shining suns." 
* "Glossary to Shakespeare," p. 283. 



68 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"Lof'ci .çtSa'l,'isl. They sav, marriages are ruade in heaven: but I 
doubt, when she vas married, she had no friend there. 
Wc2Jo'o«t. Well, she's got out of God's blessing into the warm sun." ' 
Thcre sccms to havc bcen a prcjudice ffoto time immcmo- 
rial agaist sunshinc i ![arch" and, accolding to a Gerlnan 
say[n.g, it were " bettcr to bc bittc by a shake than to fccl 
thc sun in Malch." "I'hus, in "  tIenry IV." (,iv. ), Hotspur 
says : 
"worse than the sun in Match. 
This praise doth nourish agues." 
.qhakespeare employs the word " sunburned" in the sense 
of tmCOcl)', ill-favored. In " [uch Ado" (ii. ), Beatrice 
says, " I ara sunburnt " and in " "I'roilus and Cressida" (i. 3), 
.lïneas rcmarks : 
"Thc Grecian dames are sunburnt, and not worth 
The splinter of a lance." 
3[oo«. '\palt ffoto his sundr)" allusions to the "pale-faced," 
"silver moon," Shakcspea,-e has refcrrcd to many of the su- 
perstitions associatcd with it, sevcral of which still linger on 
in cotmt'y nooks. \ widcsp-ead legend of grcat antiquity 
informs us that thc moon is inhabitcd by a man, " xvith a 
bundle of sticks on his back, who has bec exiled thithcr for 
many ccnturies, and who is so far off that he is beyond the 
rcach of death. This tradition, which has given fise to 
many superstitions, is still pt'eserved unde" various forms in 
most countries; but it has hot been decidcd who the cul- 
prit originally was, and how he came to be imprisoned in 
his lonely abodc. Dante calls him Cain; Chaucer assigns 
his exile as a punishmcnt fo" thcft, and gives him a thorn- 
bush to carry, while Shakespeare also loads him with the 
thorns, but by way of compensation gives him a dog for a 
companion, h "The Tempest" (if. 2), Caliba asks Stc- 
phano vhethcr he has "hot dropped ff'oto hcavcn ?" to which 
hc answcrs." Out o' the moon, I do assure thce : I was the 
man i' the mool whcn time was." \Vhcreupon Caliban 
' Ray gives the Latin equivalent '" Ab equis ad asinos." 
" Baring-Goutd's "Curious Myths of the Middle Ages." 877. p. t9o. 



NATURAL PHENOIIENA. 6 9 
says: "I have seen thee in her and I do adore thec: my 
mistress shoxv'd me thee, and thy dog and thy bush." 
\Ve mav also compare the expression in "A iMidsummer- 
Night's Dream " (v. I), wherc, in the directions for the per- 
formance of the play of " Pyramus and Thisbe," Moonshine 
is represented "with lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn." 
And further on, in the saine scene, describing himself, 
Moonshine sa.vs: ".\11 that I bave to sa3", is, to tell you 
that the lanthorn is the moon; I, the man in the moon;1 
this thorn-bush, my thorn-bush ; and this dog, m,« dog." 
Oldinarily, = however, his offence is stated to have been 
Sabbath-breaking--an idea derived ri-oto the Old Testament. 
Like the man mentioned in the Book of Numbcrs (xv. 32}, 
he is caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath" and, as an 
example to mankind, he is condcmned to stand forever in 
the moon, with his bundle on hi.¢ back. Instead of a dog, 
one German version places him with a woman, whose crime 
was churning butter on Sunday. The Jcws have a legcnd 
that Jacob is the moon. and they belicve that his face is 
visible. Mr. Baring-Gould' says that the " idea of locating 
animals in the two great luminaries of heaven is very an- 
cient, and is a relie of a primeval superstition of the .\rvan 
race." The natives ofCeylon, instead of a man, have placed 
a hare in the moon; and the Chinese reprcsent the moon 
by "a rabbit pounding rice in a mortar. ''' 
From the vely earliest times the inoon has hOt onlv been 
an object of popular superstition, but been honored by vari- 
ous acts of adoration. In Europe,  in the fifteenth century-, 
• 'it was a matter of comr31aint that some still worshippcd 
the new moon with bended knee, or hood or hat removed. 
And to this day we may still see a hat raised to her, half in 

' C. "' Love's Labour'sLost" (v. 2) : "Yet still she is the moon, and 
I the man." 
- Fiske, " Mvths and Mythmakers." I873, p. 27. 
 "Curious Mvths of the Middle Ages," I877, p. 97. 
 Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," 839, p. io. 
» For further information on this subject, see Tylor's " Primitive 
Culture," I873, vol. i. pp. 288, 354-356; vol. il. pp. 7 o, coe, 2o 3. 



70 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
conservatism and half in jest. It is with defcrence to silvcr 
as the lunar metal that money is turncd when thc act of 
adoration is performed, while practical peasant wit dwells 
on the ill-luck of having no picce of silvcr when the new 
moon is first scen." Shakespcare often incldentally alludes 
to this form of superstition. To quote one or two out of 
many instances, Enobarbus, in "Antony and Cleopatra" 
(iv. 9), says: 
- Be witness to me, O thou blessed moon !" 
In " Love's Labour's Lost" (v. 2) the king says: 
"Vouchsafe. bright moon. and these thy stars, to shine, 
Those clouds removed, upon our watery eyne." 
Indeed, it was formcrly a common practice for people to ad- 
dress invocations to thc moou,' and even at the present day 
we find rcmnants of this practice both in this country and 
abroad. Thus, ira many places it is customary for young, 
womcn to appeal to thc moon to tell them of their future 
prospccts in matrimouy, " thc follo ing or similar lines being 
rcpcatcd on the occasion: 
"New moon, new moon, I hail thee : 
New moon, new moon. be kind to me ; 
If I marry man or man marry me. 
Show me how many moons it will be." 
It was also the practice to swcar by the moon, to which we 
fitad ara allusion in " Romeo aud Julict " (,il. 2), wherc Juliet 
reproves her loyer for testifying his affections by this mcaus : 
"O. swcar not by the moon. the inconstant moon, 
That monthly changes in her circled orb. 
Lest that thy love prove likewisc variable." 
And again, in " Thc Mcrchant of Vcnice" (v. I ), where 
Gratiano exclaims : 
"By yondcr moon I swear you do me wrong." 
XVe may note hcrc that the inconstancy  of the moon is 

 See 13rand's " Pop. Antiq.," vol. iii. pp. 4z. 143. 
= See " English Folk-lore." pp. 43, 44- 
 "Primitive Culture," 873, vol. i. pp. 354, 355- 



NATURAL PHENOMENA. 7 I 
the subject of va,-ious myths, of which Mr. Tylor bas given 
the following examples: Thus, an Aust,-alian legend says 
that Mityan, the moon, was a native cat, who fell in love 
with some one else's wife, and was driven away to wander 
ever since. A Slavonic legend relis us that the moon, king 
of night, and husband ofthe sun, faithlessly loved the morn- 
ing star, wherefore he was cloven through in punishment, 
as we see him in the sky'. The Khasias of the tlimalaya 
say" that the moon faIIs monthly in love with his mother-in- 
law, who throws ashes in lais face, whence lais spots.' 
As in the case of the sun, an eclipse of the moon was for- 
merly considered ominous. Thc Romans"- supposcd it was 
owing to the influence of magical charms, to counteract 
which they had recourse to the sound of brazen instruments 
of ail kinds. Juvenal alludes to this p,actice in lais sixth 
Satire (441), when he describes lais talkative WOlnan : 
"Jam nemo tubas, nemo fera fatiget. 
Una laboranti poterit succurrere lunoe." 
Indeed, eclipses, which to us are well-known phenomena 
witnessing to the cxactness of natural laws, were, in the ear- 
lier stages of civilization, regarded as "the very embodiment 
of miraculous disaster." Thus, thc Chinese bclievcd that 
during eclipses of the sun and moon these celestial bodies 
were attacked by a great serpent, to drive away which they 
struck their gongs or brazen drums. The Peruvians, enter- 
taining a similar notion, raised a flightful din when the moon 
was eclipsedd while some savages would shoot up arrows to 
defend their luminaries against the enemies they fancicd 
were attacking them. It was also a popular belief that the 
moon was affectcd by the influence of xvitchcraft, a notion 
referred to by Prospero in " The Tempest " (v. I), who says : 
" His mother was a witch, and one so strong 
That could control the moon." 

' The words " moonish " (" As You Like It," iii. 23 and " moonlike " 
(" Love's Labour's Lost," iv. 3) are used in the sense of inconstant. 
-" See Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," I839, p. I8. 
a Tylor's " Primitive Culture, vol. i. p. 329 . 



72 FOLK-LORE OF St[AKESPEARE. 
In a former scene (il. I) Gonzalo remarks: "You are g-en- 
tlemen of brave mettle; you would lift the moon out of her 
sphere." Douce' quotes a lnarginal reference from Adling- 
ton's translation of "Apulcius" (596), a book well known 
to Shakespeare: " \Vitches in old tilne were supposed to be 
of such power that thcy could put downe the moone by 
their inchantmcnt. ''" Onc of thc earlicst refcrences to 
this supelstitiol alnong classical authoritics is that in the 
• ' Clouds" of Aristophanes, whcrc Strcpsiades proposes the 
hiring of a Thessalian witch, to bring down the moon and 
shut hcr Ul» in a box, that he might thus cvade paying his 
dcbts by a month. Ovid, in his " Mctalnorphoses" (bl« xii. 
• " Mater erat Mycale ; quam deduxisse canendo 
Smpe reluctanti constabat cornua lunoe." 
Horace, in his fifth Epodc (45), tclls us: 
• ' Otoe sidera excantata vote Thessala, 
Lunamque c,'tqo deripit."  
Reverting again to the moon's eclipse, such a season, be- 
ing considered most unlucky for lawful enterprises, was held 
suitable for evil designs. Thus, in " Macbcth" liv. ), one 
of the witches, speaking of the ingrcdients of the caldron, 
says : 
"Gall of goat, and slips of yew, 
$1iver'd in the moon's eclipse," 
As a harbinger of l'lisfortunc it is referred to il "Antony 
and Cleopatra," where I.iii.  3), Antony says: 
"Alack, our terrene moon 
Is now eclipsed : and it portends alone 
The rail of Antony !" 
Milton, in his " Paradise Lost " (bk. i. 597), speaks much in 
the saine strain : 

'" Illustrations of Shakespeare," 1839, p. 16. 
See Scot's " Discovery of Witchcraft,"  584, pp. 174, 226. "27, 25o. 
For further examples, see Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," 
p. I7. 



NATURAL PIIENOMENA. 

"as when the sun new-risen 
Looks through the horizontal misty air 
Shorn of his beams, or from behind the moon 
In dira eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds 
On hall the nations.'" 

73 

Dr. Forbes \Vinslow, in his " Light: its Influence on Life 
and Health,'" says that " it is impossible altogether to ignore 
the evidence of such men as Pinel, Daquin, Guislain. and oth- 
ers, yet the expericnce of modern psychological physicians 
is to a great degree opposed fo the deductions of these em- 
inent men." He suggests that the alleged changes observed 
among the insane at certain phases of the moon may arise, 
hot ffoto the direct, but the indirect, influence of the planer. 
It is well l«mwn that certain important meteorological phe- 
nomena result from the various phases of the moon, such as 
the rarity of the air, the electric conditions of the atmos- 
phere, the degree of heat, dryness, moistt,.re, and amount of 
wind prevailing. It is urged, then, that those suffering ri-oto 
diseases of the brain and nervous system, affecting the mind, 
cannot be considered as exempt from the operation of agen- 

And in " Lycidas," he says of thc unlucl¢y ship that was 
wrecked : 
'" It was that fatal and perfidious bar\ 
Built in the eclipse." 
Its sanguine color is also mcntioncd as an indication of 
coming disasters in " Richard II.'" ,ii. 4, where thé" \Velsh 
captain rcmarks how : 
"The pale-faced moon looks bloody on the earth." 
And its paleness, too, in " A Midsummcr-Night's Dream" 
(il. œee, is spoken of as an unpropitious sign. 
According to a long-acccpted thcory, insane persons are 
said to be influenced by the moon: and many old writers 
have supported this notion. Indeed, Shakespeare himsel[; 
in " Othello" (v. ci, tclls how the moon when 
'" She cornes more nearer earth than she was wont, 
And makes men mad." 



74 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
cies that are admitted to affect patients afflicted with other 
maladies. Dr. xtVinslow further adds, that " an intelligent 
lad)-, who occupied for about rive years the position of ira- 
tron in my establishment for insane ladies, has remarked 
that she invariably observed among them a greater agita- 
tion when the moon was at its full."o .& correspondent of 
"Notes and Que,ies" (2d series, xii. 49 e) explains the apparent 
aggravated symptoms of madness at the full moon by the 
fact that the insane are naturally more restless on light than 
on dark nights, and that in consequence loss of sleep makes 
them more excitable. XtVe may note here, that in "Antony 
and Cleopatra" (ix'. 9) Enobarbus invokes the moon as the 
"sovcrcign mistress of true mclancholy." 
The moisture ofthe moon is invariably noticed by Shake- 
speare. In " Hamlet" (i. I) tIoratio tclls how 
"the moist star, 
Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands, 
VCas sick almost to doomsday with eclipse. » 
In "A IXlidsummer-Night's Dream " (il. )Titania says: 
"Therefore the moon. the goi'erness of floods, 
Pale in ber anger, washes ail the air, 
That rheumatic diseases do abound." 
And in "The XWinter's Tale " (i. e) Polixenes commences by 
saying how: 
"Nine changes of the waters." star bath been 
The shepherd's note, since we bave left out throne 
Without a burthen." 
\Ve may compare, too, the words of Enobarbus in "Antony 
and Cleopatra" (,iv. 9), who, after addressing the moon, says : 
"Thc poisonous damp of night disponge upon me." And 
once more, in " Romeo and Juliet" çi. 4), we read of the 
" moonshine's watery beams." 
The saine idea is fl-equently round in old writers. Thus, 
for instance, in Newton's " Direction for the Health of Mag- 
istrates and Studentes" ( 574), we are told that "thc moone 
is ladye of moisture." t3artholomaus, in " De Proprietate 
Rerum," describes the moon as " mother of ail humours, 



NATURAL PHENOMENA. 75 
minister and ladye of the sea." ' In Lydgates prologue to 
his " Story of Thebes" there are two lincs hot unlike those 
in "'A M idsummer-Night's Drcam," alrcady quotcd : 
" Of Lucina the moone, moist and pale, 
That many shoure fro heaven ruade availe." 
Of course, the moon is thus spoken of as governing the rides, 
and from its supposed influence on the weathcr.  In " I Hcn- 
ry IV." (i. 2) Falstaff alludcs to thc sea bcing govcrned "by 
out noble and chaste mistress, the moon ;" and in " Rich- 
ard III." (il. 2) Qucen Elizabeth says: 
"That I, being govern'd by the watery moon, 
May send forth plenteous tears to drown the world." 
We may compare, too, what Timon says (" Timon of Ath- 
ens," iv. 3) : 
"The sea's a thief, whose liquid surge resolves 
The moon into sait tears." 
The expression of Hecate, in " Macbeth " (iii. 5) : 
" Upon the corner of the moon 
There hangs a vaporous drop profound." 
seems to have been meant for the saine as the 'irus htmrc 
of the ancients, being a foam which the moon was supposed 
to shed on particular herbs, when strongly solicited by en- 
chantment. Lucan introduces Erictho using it ('" l'harsalia,'" 
book vi. 669) : " Et virus large lunare ministrat." 
By a popular astrological doctrine thc lnoon was supposed 
to exercise great influence over agricultural opel'ations, and 
also over many "of the minor concerns of life, such as the 
gathering of herbs, the killing of animais for the table, and 
other matters ofa like nature." Thus the following passage 
in the " Merchant of Venice " (v. I), it has bcen suggested, 
has refercnce to the practices of the old herbalists who at- 
tributed particular virtues to plants gathered during partic- 

 See Douce's "Illustrations of Shakespeare," 839, p.  16. 
= See Swainson's "' Weather-Lore," 1873, pp. 18"--192. 



76 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
ular phases of the 11-1OOll and hours of the night. _Aftel" Lo- 
renzo has spoken of the moon shining brightly, Jcssica adds : 
'" In such a night 
Meàea gather'd the enchanted herbs, 
That did renev old ,]ïson." 
And in " Hamlct " (ix'. 7) thc description which Lacrtcs gives 
of the xveapon-poison rcfcrs to thc saine notion : 
'" I bought an unction of a mountebank, 
So mortal that. but dip a knife in it, 
Where it draws blood no cataplasm so rare, 
Çollected from all simples that have x'irtue 
Unàcr the moon, can save the thing from death." 
The sympathy of growing and dcclining nature with the 
waxing and waning moon [s a superstition widcly spread, 
and is as firmly belicved in by many as when Tusser, in his 
" Five Hundred Points of Good Ilusbandry," under " Feb- 
ruary" gave the following advice : 
" Sow peason and beans in the wane of the moon, 
Who soweth them sooner, he soweth too soon, 
That they with the planer may test and arise, 
And flourish, with bearing most plentifull wise." 
Warburton considcrs that this notion is alluded to by Shake- 
speare ila "Troilus and Cressida" (iii. 2), where Troilus, speak- 
ing of the sincerity of his love, tclls Crcssida it is, 
"As true as steel, as plantage to the moon, 
As sun to day, as turtle to her mate." 
There is a little doubt as to thc exact meaning of plantage 
in this passage. Narcs observes that it probably means anv- 
thing that is planted : but Mr. Ellacombc, lu his" Plant-lore 
of Shakespeare " ( I878, p. I65 ), says " it" is doubtless thc 
samc as plantain." 
It appcars that, in days gone by, " neither sowin, plant- 
ing, nor grafting was ever undertaken without a scrupulous 
attention fo the increase or waning of the moon."' Scot, in 
' See Tvlor's " Primitive Culture," i 873, vol. i. p. t 3 °; " English Folk- 
Lore," 878. pp. 4t, 42- 



iNATU RA L PHENOMENA. 77 
his " Discovery of \Vitchcraft," notes hoxv " the poorc hus- 
bandman pcrcciveth that the incrcase of the moonc maketh 
plants fruitful, so as in the full moonc thcy are in best 
strcngth; decaicing in the wanc, and in thc cojunction do 
utterlie withcr and vade." 
It was a prevailing notion that the moon had an attcnding 
star--Lilly calls it " Luniscqua ;'" and Sir Richard Hawkins, 
in his" Obserrationsin a Voyage to the South Seas in 593," 
published in 622, rcmarks: "Some I have hcard say, and 
others write, that thcre is a starre which noyer scparatcth 
itself from the moon, but a small distance." Staunton con- 
sidcrs that there is an allusion to this idea in '" Lovc's I.a- 
bour's Lost'" (iv. 3), whcrc thc king says: 
"My love, her mistress, is a gracious moon : 
She an attending star, scarce seun a light." 
The sharp ends of the new moon are popularly termcd 
hornsa terre which occurs in " Coriolanus" (i. I)-- 
"they threw their caps 
As they would hang them on the horns o' the moon." 
It is made use of in Dccker's " Match me in London" (i.): 
"My tord. doe you see this change i' the moone ? 
Sharp bornes doe threaten windy weather." 
When the horns of the moon appear to point upwards the 
moon is said to bc likc a boat, and various weathcr prognos- 
tications are drawn from this phenomcnon.' According to 
sailors, it is an omen of fine weather, whereas others aNrm it 
is a sign of rainresembling a basin full of water about to 
fall. " 
Among othcr items of folk-lore connected with the moon 
we nay nention the moon-calf, a false conception, or foetus 
imperfectly formed, in consequence, as was supposed, of the 
influence of the moon. The best account of this fabulous 
substance may be round in Drayton's poem witb that title. 
Trinculo, in " The Tempest" (ii. 23, supposes Caliban to be a 
moon-calf: " I hid me under thc dcad moon-calf's gaberdine." 

 See Swainson's "Weather-Lore." pp. I82, I83. 



78 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
It has been suggestcd that in calling Caliban a moon-calf 
qhakespeare alluded to a superstitious belicf formerly current, 
in the intercourse of demons and other non-human beings 
with mankind. In the days of witchcraft, it was supposed 
that a class of devils called Incubi and Succubi roamed the 
earth with the express purpose of tempting people to aban- 
don their purity of lire. Hence, all badly defonned children 
were suspected of having had such an undesirable parentage.' 
A curious expression, " a sop o' the noonshine," occurs in 
" King Lear" (il. 2), which probably alludes to some dish so 
called. Kent says to the stcward, " Draw, you rogue; for, 
though it be night, yet thc moon shines; I'II lnake a sop o' 
the noonshine of you." 
There was a way of dressing eggs, callcd " eggs in moon- 
shine," of which Douce ' gives the following description: 
" Eggs were broken and boiled in salad oil till the yolks be- 
came hard. They were eaten with slices of onion fried in 
oil, butter, verjuice, nutmeg, and salt." "A sop in the moon- 
shine" must have been a sippct in this dish? 
Pl«m'ls. The irregular motion of the planets was supposed 
to portend sotne disaster to mankind. Ulysses, in " Troilus 
and Cressida" (i. 3), declares how: 
"when the planets 
In evil mixture, to disorder wander, 
What plagues and what portents ! what mutiny ! 
What raging of the sea ! shaking of earth ! 
Commotion in the winds ! frights, changes, horrors, 
Divert and crack, rend and deracinate 
The unity and married calm of states 
Quite from their fixture." 
Indeed, the planets themselves were not thought, in days 
gone by, to be confined in any fixed orbit of their own, but 
ceaselessly to wander about, as the etymology of their naine 
demonstrates. A popular name for the planets was "wan- 

 See Williams's "Superstitions of Witchcraff," 
" Discovery of Witchcraff," bk. iv. p. 
 "' Illustrations of Shakespeare," 1839, p. 4o 5. 
 Nares's "Glossary," 872, vol. ii. p. 58o. 

pp. 123-125 ; Scot's 



NATURAL PHENOMENA. 79 
dering stars," of which Cotgrave says, " they bec also called 
wandering starres, because they nexrer keep one certain place 
or station in the firlnalnent." Thus Hamlet (v. I),approach- 
ing the grave of Ophelia, addresses Lael'tes : 
'" What is he. whose grief 
Bears such an emphasis ? whose phrase of sorrow 
Conjures the wandering stars, and makes them stand 
Like wonder-wounded hearers ?" 
In Tomkis's "Albumazar" (i. ) they are called "wanderers :" 
'" Your patron Mercury, in his mysterious character 
Holds all the marks of the other wanderers." 
According to vulgar astrology, the planets, like the stars, were 
supposed to affect, more or less, the affairs of this world, a 
notion frequently referred to by old writers. In " \Vinter's 
Talc" I, ii. I), t lcrmione consoles herself in the thought-- 
"There's some ill planer reigns : 
I must be patient till the heavens look 
With an aspect more favourable." 
In "  Henry VI." (i. I), the Duke of Exeter asks: 
"What ! shall we ourse the planers of mishap 
That plotted thus our glory's overthroxv ?" 
Again, King Richard (" Richard III.," iv. 4) : 
"Be opposite all planets of good luck 
To my proceeding." 
And once more, in" Itamlet" (i. I), Marcellus, speaklng ofthe 
season of out Saviour's birth, says, " then no planers strike." 
That diseases, too, are dependent upon planetary influence 
is referred to in " Timon of Athens" (iv. 3): 
" Be as a planetary plague, when Jove 
Will o'er some high-viced city bang his poison 
In the sick air : let not thy sword skip one." 
" Fiery Trigon" was a terre in the old judicial astrology, 
when the three upper planets met in a fiery sign--a phe- 
nomenon which was supposed to indicate rage and conten- 
tion. It is mentioned in " " Henry IV." (il. 4) : 



80 

FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 

".P. /r«n. Saturn and Venus this year in conjunction! what says 
the almanac to that ? 
]'oYlts. And, look, whether the fiery Trigon, his man, be not lisping 
to his master's old tables." 

Dr. Nash, in his notes to Butler's " I Iudibras," says : " The 
twelve signs in astrology are divided into four trig-olts or tri- 
plicities, each denominated ri'oto thc comlatural elemcnt ; so 
they are thrce ficry [signs], thrcc airy, three watcry, and three 
earthy :" 
Fiery--Aries, Leo, Sagittarius. 
Airy-- Gcmini, Libra, Aquarius. 
\Vatcry--Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces. 
Earthly--Taurus, V irgo, Capricornus. 
Thus, whcn "the three supcrior planets met in Aries, Leo, 
or Sagittarius, thcy formed a flcC, t,'igo**; when in Cancer, 
Scorpio, and Pisces, a watery ont. 
Chark's's ll'«i,z was the old nalnc f« the seven bright stars 
of the constellation Ursa Major. The constellation was so 
named in honor of Charlemagne: or, according to some, it 
is a corruption ofchorles or churl's, A «., rustic's, wain. Chorl 
is frequently used for a countryman, in old books, from the 
Saxon ceorl. In " Henry IV." (il. Ù, the Carrier says, 
" Charles' wain is over the new chimney." 
.[usic of tac sth«rcs. Pythagoras was the first who sug- 
gestcd this notion, so beautifully expressed by Shakespeare 
in the " Merchant of Venice" (v. 1): 

"There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st. 
But in his motion like an angel sings. 
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins.'" 

Plato says that a siren sits on each planer, who carols a 
lnost sweet song, agreeing to the motion of her own particu- 
far planet, but harmonizing with the other seven. Hence 
Milton, in lais "Arcades," speaks of the " celestial Sirens" 
harnaony, that sit tpOll the nine enfolded spheres." 
St«rs. An astrological doctrine, which has kept its place 
in modern popular philosophy, asserts that mundane events 
are more or less influenced by the stars. That astronomers 



NATURAL PIIENOIIENA. 8 I 
should have divided thc sun's course into imaginary signs of 
the Zodiac, was enough, says Mr. Tylor, 1 to originate astro- 
logical rules " that these cclestial signs have an actual effcct 
on real earthly rares, bulls, crabs, lions, virgins." I Icnce ve 
are told that a child born undcr the sign of the Lion will be 
courageous; but one born undcr the Crab will hot go forth 
well in life; one bor1 under the \Vaterman is likely to be 
drowned, and so forth. Shakespeare fiequently alludes to 
this picce of superstition, which, it must be remembered, was 
carried to a ridiculous height in his da)'. In " Julius Csar" 
(i. œe), Cassius says: 
• " The fault, dear Brutus, is hot in our stars, 
13ut in ourselves, that we are underlings." 
In the following passage in " Twelfth Night" (i. 3) : 
'" Sir Tob. Were we hot born under Taurus? 
Sir .'Iml. Taurus ! that's sides and heart. 
Sir Tob. No, sir ; it is legs and thighs." 
" oth the knights," says Mr. Douce (" Illustrations of Shake- 
speare," p. 54), " are wrong in thcir astrology, according to 
the almanacs of the time, which mal/e Taurus govern the 
neck and throat." 
Beatrice, in " lluch Ado abott Nothing'" (ii. ), says: 
"there wa a star danced, and undcr that ,ts I born;" 
Kent, in " King Lear" (iv. 3), rcmarks, 
" It is the stars, 
The stars above us, govern our conditions ;" 
and once more, in " Pcricles" (i. ), King _ntiochus, speak- 
ing of the charming qualities of his daughter, says : 
" 13ring in our daughter, clothed like a bride, 
For the embracements even of Jove himself : 
-t whose conception, till Lucina reign'd, 
Nature this dowry gave, to glad ber presence, 
The senate-house of planets ail did sit, 
"fo knit in her their best perfections. '' 
 " Primitive Culture," vol. i. p. i3t- 
" Cf. " Richard III." (iv. 4) ; "  Henry IV." (i. , iii. ) ; "Antony 
and Cleopatra" (iii. 3) ; "The Tempest" (i. z): "Hamlet" (i. 4); 
"Cymbeline" (v. 4) ; "Winter's Talc" (iii. z) ; " Richard II." (iv. i. 
6 



82 

FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

Throughout the East, says Mr. Tylor,' "astrology even now 
remains a science in full esteern. The condition of medioeval 
Europe may still be perfectly realized by the traveller in 
Persia, where thc Shah waits for days outside the walls of his 
capital till the constcllations allow him to enter; and where, 
on the days appointcd by thc stars for letting blood, it liter- 
ally flows in streams fiom the barbers' shops in the streets. 
l'rofessor \Vuttke declares that there are many districts in 
Germany where the child's horoscope is still regularly kept 
with the baptismal ccrtificate in the family chest." Astrology 
is ridiculed in a mastcrly manner in " King Lear" (i. 2) ; and 
\Varburton suggests that if the date of the first performance 
of" King Lear" were well considered," it would be round that 
something or other had happencd at that time which gave a 
more than ordinary run to this deceit, as these words seem 
to indicatc--' I ara thinking, brothcr, of a prediction I read 
this other da)', what should follow thcse eclipses.' " Zouch, - 
speaking of Queen Mary's rcign, tells us that " Judicial as- 
trology was much in use long after this time. Its predic- 
tions were received with reverential awe: and even men of 
the most enlightened understandings were inclined to be- 
lieve that the conjunctions and oppositions of the planets 
had no little influence in the affairs of the world." 
The pretence, also, of prcdicting events, such as pestilence, 
fron the aspect of the heavcnly bodies--one form of medi- 
cal astrology--is noticed in " Venus and A.donis :" 
" Long may they kiss each other, for this cure ! 
O. never let their crimson liveries wear ! 
And as they last. their verdure still endure, 
To drive infection from the dangerous year ! 
That the star-gazers, having writ on death. 
May say, the plague is banish'd by thy breath !" 
IIeroes were in ancient times immorta!ized by being 
placed among the stars, a custom to which Bedford refers in 
"  Henry VI." (i. ): 

 " Primitive Culture," vol. i. p. 3  ; see Brand's "Popular Antiqui- 
ries," 849, vol. iii. pp. 34-348. 
= "Walton's Lires," I796, p.  13, note. 



NATURAL PHENOMENA. 

83 

"A far more glorious star thy soul will make 
Than Julius Cœesar." 
And, again, " Pericles" (v. 3) exclaims : 
" Heavens make a star of him." 
O11 a medal of Iladrian, the adopted son of Trajan and 
Plotina, the divinity of his parents is expressed by placing a 
star over their heads; and in like manner the medals of 
Faustina the Elder exhibit ber on an eagle, hcr head sur- 
rounded with stars.' 
In " 2 Hcnry IV." (iv. 3) a ludicrous terre for the stars is, 
"cinders of the elements ;" and in " i\Ierchant of Venice" 
(v. I) they are designated " candles of the night." 
3[«tcors. An elegant description of a mcteor well known 
to sailors is given by Ariel in "The Tempest" (i. 2): 
"sometime I'd divide 
And burn in raany places ; on the topmast. 
The yards, and bowsprit, would I flame distinctly, 
Then meet and join." 
It is called, by the French and Spaniards inhabiting the 
coasts of the Mediterranean, St. Hehnc's or St. Tehne's tire ; 
by the Italians, the tire of St. Pcter and St. Nicholas. It is 
also known as the tire of St. Hclen, St. I Ierm, and St. Clare. 
Douce ' tells us that whenever it appcared as a single flame 
it was supposed by the ancients to be Helena, the sistcr of 
Castor and Pollux, and in this state to bring ill luck, from the 
calamities which this lady is known to have caused in the 
Trojan war. \Vhen it came as a double flame it was called 
Castor and Pollux, and accounted a good omen. It has been 
described as a little blaze of tire, sometimes appearing by 
night on tle tops of soldiers' lances, or at sea on toasts and 
sailyards, whirling and leaping in a moment from one place 
to another. According to some, it never appears but after 
a tempest, and is supposed to lead people to suicide by 
d:owning. qhakespeare in ail probability consulted Bat- 

Douce's "Illustrations of Shakespeare,"  839, p. 397. 
Ibid. p. 3. 



84 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
man's " Golden Books of the Leaden Goddes," who, spcak- 
ing of Castor and Pollux, says: "They were figurcd like two 
lampes or cresset lightes--one oll the toppe of a maste, thc 
other on the sl:emme or foreshippe." I[e adds that if thc 
first light appears in the stem or foreship and ascends up- 
wards, it is a sign ofgood luck; if"either lights begin at thc 
topmast, bowsprit," or foreship, and descends towards the 
sea, it is a sign of a tcmpesl:. In taking, therefore, thc latter 
position, Ariel had fulfilled the conlmands of Prospero, and 
raiscd a storm.' lXlr. Swainson, in lais "\Veather-Lore" (I873, 
p. I93), quotes the following, which is to the same purport : 
" Last night I saw Saint Elmo's stars. 
With thcir glittering lanterns ail at play. 
On the tops of the toasts and the tips of the spars, 
And I knew we should have foui weather that day." 
Capcll, in lais " School of Shakcspeare" (779, iii. 7), bas 
pointed out a passage in Hakluyt's "Voyages "{, 598, iii. 450), 
which strikingly illustrates the speech ofAricl quoted above : 
" I do remember that in the great and boysterous storme of 
this foule weather, in the night, there came vpon the toppe 
of our maine yarde and maine maste, a cerl:aine little light, 
much like unto the light of a little candle, which the Span- 
iards called the Cuerpo-Santo, and said it was St Ehno, whom 
they take to bee thc aduocate of sailers .... This light con- 
tinued aboord our ship about three houres, flying from maste 
to maste, and from top to top: and sometimes it would be 
in two or three places al: once." This meteor was by some 
supposed to be a spirit; and by others "an exhalation of 
moyst vapours, that are ingendered by foui and tempcstuous 
weather. ''= Mr. Thoms, in lais " Notclets on Shakespeare" 
(I865, P- 59), says that, no doubt, Shakespeare had in mind 
the will-o'-the-wisp2 
Firc-_lS)rat««, which is jocularly used in " t [enry VI I I." (v. 4) 

 See Brand's " Pop. Antlq.," /849, vol. iii. p. 400. 
 Purchas, " His Pilgrimes » 0625, pt. i. lib. iii. p. /33), quoted by Mr. 
Aldis Wright in his " Notes to The Tempest," /875, p. 86. 
a Ste Puck as Will-o'-the-Wisp ; chapter on " Fairy-Lore." 



ATURAL PHENOMENA. 85 
for a man with a red face, was one of the popular terres for 
the will-o'-the-wisp,  and Burton, la his " Anatomy of Melan- 
choly," says: " Fiery spirits or devils are such as comntonly" 
work by fire-drakes, or ignes fatui, which lead men offert in 
flumina et precipitia." In Bullokar's " Engli.h Expositor" 
(66), we have a quaint account of this phenomenon : " Fire- 
drake ; a tire sometimes seen flying in the night like a dragon. 
Cmmon people think it a spirit that keepeth some treasure 
hid, but philosophers affirme it to be a great unequal exhala- 
tion inflamed betweene two clouds, the one hot, the othcr 
cold, which is thc reason that it also smoketh, the middle 
part whereof, according to the proportion of the hot cloud 
being greater than the test, maketh it seem like a bcllie, and 
both ends like unto a head and taill."' White, however, in 
his "" l'eripateticall Institutions" (p. 156),calls the fiery-dragon 
or fire-drake, " a weaker kind of lightning. Its livid colors, 
and its falling without lloise and slowly, demonstrate a great 
mixture of watery exhalation in it .... "gis sufficient for its 
shapc, that it has sonte resemblance of a dragon, hot the ex- 
presse figure." 
Among other allusions to the will-o'-the-wisp by Shake- 
speare, Mr. Ilunter  notices one in " King Lear" (iii. 4), 
where Gloster's torch being seen in the distance, the fool 
says," Look, here cornes a walking tire." \Vhereupon Ed- 
gar replies, " This is the foul fiend, Vlibbertigibbet ; he be- 
gins at curfew, and walks till the first cock." " From which," 
observes Mr. ttunter, " Flibbertigibbet seems to be a name 
for the will-o'-the-wisp. Hence the propriet)- of' IIe bgi«s 
a «m'zc', and walks till the crowing of the cock,' that is, is 
 Sec " Notes and Queries," 5th series, vol. x. p. 499 : Brand's " Pop. 
Antiq.," 1849, vol. iii. p. 41o ; Nares's " Glossary," vol. i. p. 3o9. 
 A "fire-drake" appears to have been also an artificial firework, 
perhaps what is now called a serpent. Thus. in Middleton's " Your 
Five Gallants" 06o7) : 
'" But, like fire-drakes, 
Mounted a little, gave a crack and fell.'" 
 "New Illustrations of the Lire, Studies, and Writings of Shake- 
speare," vol. il. p. 272. 



86 FOLK-LORE OF StIAKESPEARE. 
seen in all the dark of the night." It appears that when 
Shakespeare wrotc, "a walking firc" was a common naine 
for the iais rateras, as we learn from thc story of " How 
Robin Goodfellow lcad a COlnpauy of fellows out of thcir 
way:" "A company of young men, having been making 
mcrry with their sweethearts, were, at their colning hoirie, 
to corne over a heath : Robin Goodfellow, knowing of it, lnet 
theln, and to lnake SOlne pastime hee led theln up and downe 
the heathe a whole night, so that thcy could uot get out of 
it, for hee went before them ira the shape of a walZ'bzgflrc, 
which they all saw and followed till the day did appeare; 
then Robin left them, and at his departure spake these 
words : 
"' Get you home, you merry lads. 
Tell your mammies and your dads, 
And ail those that newes desire 
How you saw a walking tire, 
Wencbes. that doe stalle and liape, 
Use to call me willy-wispe.'" 

Anothcr allusion to this subjcct occurs in " The Tcmpest "' 
(iv. ), where Stephano, after Ariel has led him and lais drunk- 
en companions through " tooth'd briers, sharp furzes, prick- 
îng goss and thorns," and at last "left theln i' the filthy 
mantled pool," reproaches Caliban in these words: " Mon- 
ster, your fairy, which you say is a harmless fairy, bas done 
little better than played the Jack with us "that is, to quote 
Dr. Johnson's explanation of this passage, "he has played 
Jack-with-a-lanthorn, has led us about like an igais J-azttts, 
by which travellers are decoyed into the mire."' Once 
more, when Puck, in "A l\Iidsummer-Night's Drealn " (iii. ), 
speaks of the various forms he assumes ira order to " mislead 
night wanderers, laughiug at their harm," he says: 

"Sometime a horse l'll be, sometime a hound, 
A hog, a headless bear, sometime a tire." 

Shakespeare, no doubt, here alludes to the will-o'-the wisp, 

' See Thoms's «' Notelets on Shakespeare," p. 59- 



lXIATU RAL PHENOMENA. 87 
an opinion shared by Mr. Joseph Ritsot, 1 who says: "This 
Puck, or Robin Goodfcllow, seems likewise to be the illusory 
candle-holdcr, so fatal to travellers, atxd who is more usually 
callcd ' Jack-a-lantern,' " or' .Vill-with-a-wisp,' and ' I,it-with- 
the-candlestick.' '" Milton, in " Paradise Lost" (book ix.', 
alludcs to this deceptive glcam in thc folloxving lines: 
"A xvandering tire 
Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night 
Condenses. and the cold environs round. 
Kindled through agitation to a flame. 
Which oft. thcy say. some evil spirit attends. 
ttovering and blazing xvith dclusivc light. 
Misleads th' amaz'd night-wanderer from his way 
To bogs and mircs, and oft through pond and pool." s 
This appearancc has giron fise to a lnOSt extcnsivc folk- 
lore, and is embodied in many of thc fairy lcgends and su- 
perstitions ofthis and other countries. Thu.. in Germany, 
Jack-o'-lantcrns arc said to be thc souls of unbaptizcd chil- 
drcn, that bave no lest in thc grave, and mus hover bctwcen 
heaven and earth. In many places thcy arc callcd land- 
measurers, and are secn like figures of tire, running to and 
fro with a red-hot measuring rod. These are said to bc per- 
sons who bave falsely sworn away land, or fraudulently meas- 
ured it, or removed landmarks.' In thc ncighborhood of 
Magdcburg, they are l«aown as '" I.fichtcmtnnekens "' and to 
, " Fairy Mythology,'" edited by Hazlitt, 875, p. 40. 
 Among the many other names given to this appearance may be 
mentioned the following : "Will-a-wisp," "Joan-in-the-wad," "Jacket- 
a-wad," "Peg-a-lantern," " Elf-fire," etc. A correspondent of " Notes 
and Queries" (sth series, vol. x. p. 499) says : "The wandering meteor of 
the moss or fell appears to bave been personified as Jack, Gill, Joan, 
Will, or Robin, indifferently, according as the supposed spirit of the 
lamp seemed to the particular rustic mind to be a male or female ap- 
parition." In Worcestershire it is called " Hob-and-his-lanthorn," 
and " Hobany's," or '" Hobnedy's Lanthorn." 
 Mr. Ritson says that Milton "' is frequently content to piller a hap- 
py expression from Shakespeare--on this occasion, ' night-wanderer.'" 
He elsewhere calls it "the friar's lantern." 
 Thorpe, " Northern lXlytholoo3C" 852, vol. iii. pp. 85, 5 S, 2o. 



88 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
cause tllcm to appear, it is sufficient to call out " Ninove, 
Ninove." In the South Altmark thcy are tcrmed "Dicke- 
pôten ;" and if a person only prays as soon as he sees one, 
he draws it to him ; ifhe curses, it retires. In somc parts. 
too, a popular naine is " Huckcp6ten," and " Tuckbolde." 
Thc Jack-o'-lantcrus of Denmark' are the spirits of unright- 
cous mcn, who, by a false glimmcr, seek to mislead the trav- 
cller, and to dccoy him into bogs and moors. The best safc- 
guard against them, whcn thcy appear, is to turn one's cap 
inside out. ;\ similar notion occurs in Devonshire with re- 
gard to thc l'ixies, who dclight in lcading astray such per- 
sons as they find abroad after nightfall ; the only remedy to 
cscape thcm bcing to turn some part of the dress. In Nor- 
mandy thcsc fircs arc callcd " Feux Follcts," and they are 
bclievcd to be crucl spirits, whom it is dangerous to eflcoun- 
ter. Among the superstitions which prevail in conncction 
with them, two, says ]XIr. Thoms," are descrving of notice: 
"Onc is, that the igttisfitluus is the spirit of some unhappy 
woman, who is destincd to run ct ftroll«, to expiate her in- 
trigues with a minister of the church, and itis designated 
from that circumstance La Fourlore, or La Fourolle." 
other opinion is, that Le Fcu Follet is the soul of a priest, 
who has been condemncd thus to expiate Iris broken vows 
of perpetual chastity; and itis very probable that it is to 
some similar beliefexisting in this country, at the time when 
he wrote, that Milton alludes in " L'Allegro," when he says: 
'" She was pinched and pulled, she said. 
And he by Friar's Lanthorn led." 
In Brittany thc " Portc-brandon " appears in the form of a 
child bearing a torch, which ho turns like a burning wheel; 
and with this, we are told, he sets tire to thc villages, which 
are suddenl)', somctimes in the middle of thc night, wrapped 
in flames. 
The appearance of meteors Shakespeare ranks among 
omens, as in " Henr)- IV." (il. 4), where Bardolph says: 

' " Notelets on Shakespeare,'" pp. 64, 65. 
= Ibid. 



NATURAL PHENOMENA. 89 
" My lord, do you see these meteors ? do 5"ou behold thcse cx- 
halations? What think you they portcnd?" And in "King 
John " (iii. 4), Pandulph speaks of mcteors as " prodigies and 
signs." The \Velsh captain, in " Richard II." (ii. 4), says : 
"'Tis thought the king is dead : we will not stay. 
The bay-trees in out country are all w[ther'd. 
And meteors fright the fixed stars of heaven." 
Carnet. l"fore the earliest timcs comcts have bce1 super- 
stitiously regarded, and ranked among omens. Thus Thu- 
cydides tells us that the Peloponnesian war was heralded by 
an abundance of earthqu:tkes and comets; and Vcrgil, in 
speaking of thc dcath of Cmsar, dcclarcs that at no othcr 
time did comets and othcr supernatural prodigics appcar in 
greatcr numbcrs. It is probably to this latter cvcnt that 
Shakcspcare alludes in "' J ulius Casar "' (ii. 2), whcre he rcp- 
resents Calpurnia as saying: 
'. When beggars die, there are no comets seen ; 
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes." 
,\gain, in '"  I[cnry VI." (i. , the play opens with the fol- 
lowing words, uttered by the Dukc of Bedford : 
• ' Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night ! 
Comets, importing change of times and states, 
Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky, 
And with them scourge the bad revolting stars 
That have consented unto Henry's death !" 
In " Taming of the Shrew" (iii. 2), too, l'ctruchio, when he 
makes his appearance on his wedding-day, says: 
"Gentles, methinks you frown : 
And wherefore gaze this goodly compan.v. 
As if they sav some wondrous monument, 
Some cornet, or unusual prodigy ?" 
In "  Henry IV." (iii. 2), the king, whcn tel!ing his son 
how he had always avoided making himself " common-hack- 
ney'd in the eyes of men,'" adds : 
"By being seldom seen, I could hot stir 
But. like a cornet, I was wonder'd at." 



90 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
Arcite, in the "Two Noblc Kinsmen" (v. I), when address- 
ing the altar of Mars, says : 
'. Whose approach 
Comets forcwarn.'"  
Z)««. Among the many virtues ascribed to dew was its 
supposed power over the complexion, a source of supersti- 
tion which still finds many believers, espccially on May morn- 
ing. _All dew, however, does hOt appear to have possessed 
this quality, some being of a deadly or malignant quality. 
Thus Ariel, iii " The Tempest " (i. ), speaks of the " deep 
brook" in the harbor: 
"where once 
Thou call'dst me up at midnight to fetch dew 
From the still vex'd Bermoothes." 
And Caliban (i. ), when venting his rage on Prospero and 
Miranda, can find no stronger curse than the following : 
u As wicked dew as c'er my mother brush'd, 
With raven's feather fron unwholesome fen 
Drop on you both 
It has been suggested that in "z\lltolly and Cleopatra" 
(iii. 2) Shakespeare may refer to ail old notion whereby the 
sea was considered the source of dews as well as rain. Eu- 
phronius is represcnted as saying : 
"Such as I am, I corne from Antony : 
I was of late as petty to his ends 
As is the morn-dew on the myrtle leaf 
To his grand sea." 
/kCColding to an crrolleous notion fOlllel-ly current, it was 
supposcd that the air, and hot the earth, drizzled dew--a 
notion referred to in " Romeo and Juliet" (iii. 5): 
" When the sun sets, the air doth drizzle dew." 
And in " King Johu " (ii. ): 
" BeIore the dew of m:ening Iall." 
' See Proctor's " Myths of Astronomy:" Chambers's " Domestic 
Annals of Scotland," 858 , vol. il. pp. 41o-412 ; Douce's " Illustrations 
of Shakespeare" pp. 364, 36. 



NATURAL PIIENOMENA. 9i 
Then there is the celcbrated honey-dew, a substance which 
has furnished the poet with a touching simile, which he has 
put into the mouth of" Titus Andronicus" (iii. I) : 
' When I did name her brothers, then fresh tears 
Stood on her cheeks; as doth the honey-dew 
Upon a gathcr'd lily ahnost wither'd." 
According to Pliny, "honcy-dcw" is the salira of thc stars, 
or a liquid produccd by the purgation of the air. It is, how- 
evcr, a secretiou dcposited by a small insect, which is distin- 
guishcd by the gencric naine of aphis.' 
Rab«laoa,. Secondary rainbows, the watcry appcarance in 
the sky accompanying the rainbow, are in many places 
termed " water-galls "--a terre wc filld in the " Rapt of 
Lucrcce " ( 586-89) : 
" And round about her tear-distained eye 
Blue circles stream'd, like rainbows in the sky : 
These water-galls in her dira element 
Foretell new storms to those already spent." 
Horace \Valpole several times makes use of the word: 
" False good news are always produced by true good, like 
the water-gall by the rainbow ;" and again, "Thank heavcn 
it is complote, and did not remain imperfect, like a water- 
gall."' In "The Dialcct of Craven" we find " Watcr-gall, 
a secondary or broken rainbow. G«rm. Wasser-gallc." 
T/atml«r. According to an crroncous fancy the destruc- 
tion occasioned by lightning was effected by some solid body 
known as the thundcr-stone or thunder-bolt. Thus, iii the 
beautiful dirge in " Cymbeline "' (iv. 2) : 
"Guzël. Fear no more the lightning flash, 
.4rz,. Or the all-dreaded thunder-stone." 
Othello asks (v. 2) : 
"Are there no stones in heaven 
But what serve for the thunder ?" 

* See Patterson's "Insects Mentioned by Shakespeare," 84I, p. I45. 
 " Letters," vol. i. p. 31o ; vol. vi. pp. I, I87.--Ecl. Cunningham. 



92 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
And in " Julius Coesar" (i. 3), Cassius says : 
"And, thus unbraced, Casca, as you see, 
Have bared my bosom to the thunder-stone." 
The thundcr-stonc is the imaginary product of the thun- 
dcr, which thc ancients callcd ]¢rolzti«, mcntioncd by Pliny 
(" Nat. llist." xxxvii. o) as a spccies of gem, and as that 
which, falling with the lightning, docs the mischief. It is 
the fi»ssil commonly called the Belemnite, or fingcr-stone, 
and now known to bc a shell. 
A supcrstitious notion prevailed among the ancients that 
those who wcrc stricken with lightning wcre honored by ju- 
pitcr, and thcrcforc to bc accounted holy. It is probably to 
this idca that Shakespcare alludcs in " Antony" and Cleopa- 
tra " I, ii. 5): 
" Some innoccnts 'scape hot the thunderbolt." ' 
Thc bodies of such were supposed hot to putrcfy; and, 
aftcr having been exhibited for a certain time to the peo- 
pic, were not buried in the usual manner, but intcrrcd on 
thc spot where the lightning fell, and a monument erected 
over them. $ome, however, hcld a contrary'opinion. Thus 
l'crsius (sat. ii. 1. -"7) says : 
'" Triste jaces lucis evitandumque bidental. "» 
The ground, too, that had been smitten by a thundcrbolt 
was accounted sacrcd, and aftcrwards enclosed ; nor did any 
one evcn presume to walk on it. Such spots were, therc- 
forc, consecratcd to the gods, and could hot in future be- 
comc thc property of any one. 
Among thc many othcr items of folk-lore associated 
with thtmder is a curious one referred to in "Pericles" 
I, iv. 35: "Thunder shall not so awake thc bed of eels." 
Thc notion formerly being that thunder had the effect of 
rousing eels fiom their mud, and so rendered them more 
easy to be takcn in stormy weather. Marston alludes to 

 Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," 1839, p. 369. 



NATURAL PIIENOMENA. 93 
this superstition in his satire» (" Scourgc of Villainic," sat. 
vii.) : 
"They are nought but eetes, that never will appeare 
Till that tempestuous winds or thunder teare 
Their slimy beds." 
The silence that often precedes a thunder-storm is thu5 
graphicall¥ described in " Hamlet " (ii. 2) : 
"' we often sec, against some storm, 
A silence in the heavens, the rack stand stitl. 
The bold winds speechless, and the orb below 
As hush as death, anon the dreadful thunder 
Doth rend the region.'" 
arl]zqzza/«cs, around which so many curious myths and 
superstitions have clustcred,' are scarccly noticed by Shake- 
speare. Thcy are mentioned among the ominous signs of 
that terrible night on which Duncan is so trcacherously 
slain (" Macbeth," il. 3) : 
"the obscure bird 
Çlamour'd the livelong night : some say, the earth 
Was feverous and did shake." 
And in " I Hcnry IV." (iii. I) Ilotspur assigns as a reason 
for the earthqual;es the following theory: 
" Diseased nature oftentimes breaks forth 
In strange eruptions ; oft the teeming earth 
Is vith a kind of colle pinch'd and vex'd 
By the imprisoning of unruly wind 
Within her womb ; which, for enlargement striving, 
Shakes the old beldam earth, and topples down 
Steeples, and moss-grown towers." 
Eqlho_r. The storms that prevail in spring at the vernal 
cquinox are aptly alluded to in " Macbcth" t,i. 2): 
"As whence the sun 'gins his reflection 
Shipwrecking storms and direful thunders break, 
So from that spring, whence comfort seem'd to corne, 
DiscomIort swells." 
the meaning being: thc beginning of thc reflcction of thc 

' See Tylor's '" Primitive Culture," vol. i. pp. 364-367. 



94 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
sun is the cpoch of his passing from the severe to the milder 
season, opening, however, with storms. 
ll))td. An immense deal of curious weather-lore' has been 
associatcd with the wind from the earlicst period; and in 
out own and forcign countries innumerable proverbs are 
found dcscribing the future state of the weather from the 
position of the wind, for, according to an old saying, "every 
wind has its weather." Shakespearc has introduced some 
of thcsc, showing how keen an observer he was of those 
evcry-day sayings which have always been much in use, es- 
pecially among thc lower classes. Thus thc proverbial wet 
which accompanics the wind when in the south is mentioned 
in "As You Like It'" (iii. 5): 
• ' Like foggy south, puffing with wind and tain." 
And again, in "  Henry IV." (v. ): 
"The southern wind 
Doth play the trumpet to his [i. e., the sun's] purposes ; 
And by his hollov whistling in the leaves 
Foretells a tempest, and a blustering day." 
A popular saying to the samc effect, still in use, tells us that : 
" When the wind is in the south. 
It is in the rain's mouth." 
Again, in days gonc by, the southerly winds were generaily 
supposed to be bearers of noxious fogs and wtpors, frequent 
allusions to which are given by Shakespeare. Thus, in "" The 
Tempest" (i. 2), Caliban says: 
"a south-west blow on ye 
And blister you all o'er." 
• A book,  too, with which, as already noticed, Shakespeare 
appears to have been familiar, tells us, " This southern wind 
is hot and moist. Southern winds corrupt and destroy: 
they heat, and make men fall into the sickness." Hence, in 

 See Swainson's " Weather-Lore." 
" Batman upon Bartholomoeus'" De Propïietatibus Rerum," lib. xi. 
¢.3- 



NATURAL PHENOMENA. 95 
" Troilus and Cressida" (v. I), Thersites spcaks of" the rottcn 
diseases of thc south ;" and in " Coriolanus" (i. 4), Marcius 
cxclaims : 
'" Ail the contagion of the south light on you." 
Once more, in " Cymbcline" (if. 3), Clotcn spcaks in thc saine 
strain : " The south fog rot him." 
t:laa,s. These are sudden gusts of wind. It was the 
opinion, says \Varburton, "of some philosophcrs that the 
vapors bcing congealcd in the air by cold ,which fs the lnOSt 
intense in thc morning), and bcing afterwards rarcficd and 
let loose by the warmth of the stm, occasion those suddcn 
and impctuous gusts of wind which wcrc callcd'flaws.'" 
Thus he commcnts on the following passage in "2 I lcnry 
IV." (iv. 4) : 
" As humorous as winter, and as suddcn 
As flaws congealed in the spring of day." 
In "2 I Icnry VI." (iii. I) these outbursts of wind me furthcr 
alluded to : 
" And this fell tempest shall not cease to rage 
Until the golden circuit on my head. 
Like to thc glorious sun's transparent beams, 
Do calm the fury of this mad-bred flaw." 
Again, in " Venus and Adonis'" (425), thcrc fs an additional 
reference : 
'" Like a red morn. that ever yet betoken'd 
Wreck to the seaman, tempest to the field. 
Sorrow to shepherds, woe unto the birds. 
Gusts and foui flaws to herdmen and to herds." 
In the Crnish dialect a jfaze, signifies primitively a cut.' 
But it fs also there used in a secondary sense for those sud- 
den or cutting gusts of wind." 
Sqztalls. There fs a conamon notion that '" the sudden 
storm lasts hot three hours," an idea referred to by John of 
Gaunt in '" Richard II." I, ii. I) : 
"Small showers last long. but sudden storms are short." 
1 Pohvhele's "Cornish VocabulaLv." 
= Cf. " Macbeth," iii. 4, "O. these flaws and starts." 



9 6 FOLK-LORE OF StIAKESPEARE. 
Thus, in Norfolk, the peasantry say that " the fastcr the tain, 
the quicker the hold up," which is only a difference in words 
from the popular adage, "aftcr a storm cornes a calm." 
Clora[s. In days golfe by, clouds floating before thc wind, 
like a reck or vapor, were termed racking clouds. Hcnce in 
" 3 IIcnry VI." (il. ), Richard speaks of: 
"Three glorious suns, each one a perfect sun ; 
Not separated with the racking clouds." 
This verb, though now obsolete, was formcrly in common 
use ; and in " King Edward I I I.,"  596, we rcad : 
" Like inconstant clouds, 
That, rack'd upon the carriage of the winds, 
lncrease," etc. 
.'\t the present day one may often hear the phrase, the 
rack of the weather, in out agricultural districts; many, too, 
of the items of weathcr-lore noticed by Shakespeare being 
still fimfly creditcd by out peasantry. 



CHAPTER VI. 

EIRDS. 

IN" the present chapter we have not only a striking proof 
of Shakespeare's minute acquaintance with natural history, 
but of lais remarkable versatility as a writer. XVhile display- 
ing a lnost extensive knowledge of ornithology, he has fur- 
ther illustrated his subjcct by alluding to those numerous 
legends, popular sayings, and superstitions which hare, in 
this and other countries, clustered round the feathered race. 
Indced, the following pages are alone sufficieut to show, if 
it were necessary, how fully he appreciated every branch of 
antiquarian loi'e; and what a diligent student he must have 
been in the pursuit of that wide range of information, the 
possession of which has ruade hiln one of the most many- 
sided writers that the world has ever seen. The numerous 
incidental allusions, too, by Shakespeare, to the folk-lore of 
bygone days, while showiug hmv deeply he lnust have read 
and gathered knowledge rioto every available source, serve 
as an additional proof of lais retentive memory, and marvel- 
lous power of embellishing his ideas by the lnost apposite 
illustrations. Unfortunately, however, these have, hitherto, 
been frequently lost sight of through the reader's unacquaint- 
ance with that extensire field of folk-lore which was so well 
known to the poet. For the sake of easy reference, the 
birds with which the present chapter deals are arranged al- 
phabetically. 
£armclc-Goosc. There was a curious notion, ver)-preva- 
lent in former times, that this bird (Azscr bcrMcl«) was gen- 
erated froln the barnacle (L«Tas autifi'ra), a shell-fish, grow- 
ing on a flexible stem, and adhering to loose tituber, bottoms 
of ships, etc., a metalnorphosis to which Shakespeare alludes 
in " The Tempest" (iv. I), where he makes Caliban say : 
7 



98 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
"we shall lose out time, 
And all be turn'd to barnacles." 
This vulgar error, no doubt, originated in mistaking the 
flcshy pednncle of the shell-fish for thc ncck of a goose, the 
shell for its hcad, and thc tentacula for a tuft of feathers. 
These shell-fish, thcrcfore, bearing, as seen out of the water, 
a resemblance to the goose's ncck, were ignorantly, and with- 
out investigaiion, confoundcd with geese themselves. In 
France, the barnaclc-goose may be catch on fast days, by 
virtne of this old belief in its fishy origin.' I.ike other tic- 
tions this Olae had its variations," for somctime the barnacles 
were SUl»poscd to grow on trees, and thence to drop into the 
sea, and become geese, as in 1)rayton's accotmt of Furness 
(" l'olyolb." I6-- , song 7, 1.1 I9o). As early as the I_'th cen- 
tury this idca  was promulgated by Giraldus Cambrensis in 
lais "Topographia Hibcrnioe." Gerarde, who in the year 
t 597 publishcd his" Ilcrball, or Generall t Iistorie of Plantes," 
narrates thc following: " There are round in the north parts 
of Scotland, and the isles adjacent called Orcades, certain 
trees, whereon do grow certain shell-fishes, of a white color, 
tending to russet, whercin are contained little living creat- 
nres ; which shclls in time of maturity do open, and out of 
them grow those little living things which, falling into the 
water, do become fowls, wholn we call barnacles, in the north 
of England brant geese, and in Lancashire tree geese; but 
the others that do fall upon the land perish, and do corne to 
nothing. Thus much of the writings of others, and also 
from the mouths of people of those parts, which ma 3 - very 
well accord with truth. But what our eyes have seen and 
hands bave touched, we shall declare. There is a small 
island in Lancashire called the Pile of Fonlders, wherein are 
fonnd the broken pieces of old ships, some whereof have 
been cast thither by shipwreck, and also the trunks or bodies, 
 Sec Harland and Wilkinson's" Lancashire Folk-Lore," I867, pp. I 6- 
z ; "Notes and Queries," ISt series, vol. viii. p. a-4; " Penny Cyclo- 
poedia," vol. vil. p. --6, article "Cirripeda." 
Nares's " Glossary," I87, vol. i. p. 56. 
 See Harting's " Ornitholom/of Shakespeare," I87 i, pp. z46--z57. 



mRDS. 99 
with the branches, of old rotten trees, cast up thcre likewise, 
whereon is round a certain spume or froth, that in time 
breedeth into certain shells, in shape like those of thc mus- 
sel, but sharper pointed, and of a whitish color: wherein is 
containcd a thing in form like alace of silk, one end whereof 
is fastened unto the inside of the shell, even as the fish of 
oysters and mussels are. The other end is ruade fast unto 
the belly of a rude mass or lump, which iii rime comcth to 
the shape and form of a bird; when it is perfcctly formed 
the shell gapeth open, and the first thing that appeareth is 
the foresaid lace or string; next corne the legs of the bird 
hanging out, and as it groweth greater it openeth thc shcll 
bv degrees, till at length it is ail corne forth and hangeth 
only by the bill. In short space after it cometh to full ma- 
turity, and falleth into the sea, where it gathereth feathers 
and groweth to a fowl, bigger than a mallard, and lesser than 
a goose" having black legs and bill, or bcak, and feathers 
black and white, spotted in such a manner as is our magpic, 
which the people of Lancashire call by no other naine than 
a trce goose." An interesting cut of these birds so growing 
is given by Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps ri-oto a manuscript of the 
4th century, who is of opinion that the barnacle mentioned 
by Caliban was the tree-goose. It is hot to be supposed, 
however, that there were none who doubted this marvellous 
story, or who took stcps to refute it. Belon, so long ago as 
551,says Mr. Harting, ' and others after him,treated it with 
ridicule, and a refutation may be found iii \Villughby's " Or- 
nithology," which was edited by Ray in 678) This vulgar 
error is mentioned by lnany of the old writers. Thus Bishop 
Hall, in his " Virgidemiarum " (lib. iv. sat. 2"}, says: 
"The Scottish barnacle, if I might choose, 
That oI a worme doth waxe a winged goose." 

' "' Orn ithology of Shakespeare.'"  87 . p. e 52. 
- See" Philosophical Transactions" for 1835 ; Darwin's "Monograph 
oi the Cirrhipedia," published by the Ray Societv : a paper by Sir J. 
Emerson Tennent in "Notes and Oueries," st series, vol. viii. p. 223 ; 
Brand's "' Popular Antiquities,'" 849, vol. iii. pp. 36I, 362 ; Douce's " Il- 
lustrations of Shakespeare,"  839. p. 14. 



I00 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Butlcr, too, in his " Hudibras" (III. il. l. 655 ) , speaks of it ; 
and Marston, in his " Malccontent" (I6O4), has thc following : 
'" Like your Scotch barnacle, now a block, instantly a worm, 
and prescntly a great goose." 
lad'bird. This favorite is callcd, in the " Midsummer- 
Night's Drcam " (iii. I) an ousel (old l"rench, oisd), a terre 
still uscd in the ncighborhood of Leeds: 
"The ousel cock, so black of hue, 
XVith orange-tawny bill. '» 
In "2 IIenry IV." (iii. 2) when Justicc Shallow inquires 
of Justice Silence, " And how doth my cousin?" he is an- 
swcred : "Alas, a black ouscl,' cousin Shallow," a phrase 
which, no doubt, corresponded to out modern onc," a black 
shccp." In pcnscr's " Epithalamium" (1.82), thc word oc- 
curs : 
"' The ousel shrills, the ruddock warbles sort." 
/.ar«/. Mr. Staunton suggests that in the following 
passage of the " Taming of the Shrcw" (il. ) a play is in- 
tended upon the words, and that in thc second line "buz- 
zard" means a beetle, fiom its peculiar buzzing noise : 
"Z'ct. 0 slow-wing'd turtle ! shall a buzzard take thee ? 
IC«t/«. Ay, for a turtle, as he takes a buzzard." 
The beetle vas formerly called a buzzard : and in Stafford- 
shire, a cockchafer is tcrmed a hum-buz. In Northampton- 
shire we find a proverb, " I'm bctween a hawk and a buz- 
zard," which means, " I don't know what to do, or how to 
act."' 
C/«(lfiV/z. Some think that this bird is alluded to in the 
song in the " Midsummer-Night's Dream" (iii. ), where the 
expression "finch" is used; the chaffinch haying always 
' See Yarrell's " History of British Birds," "d edition, vol. i. p. 28 ; 
"Dialect of Leeds," 862, p. 329 . In " Hamlet" (iii. 2). some modern 
editions read "ouzle ;" the old editions ail bave a,c«sel, which is now 
adopted. 
" Miss Baker's " Northamptonshire Glossary," 854 ' vol. i. p. 94- See 
Nares's "Glossary," I872, VO1. i. p. 124 ; and "" Richard III.," i. . 



BIRDS. 

IOI 

been a favorite cage-bird with the lower classes.' In "Troilus 
and Cressida" (v. I) Thersites calls Patroclus a '" finch-egg," 
which xvas evidently meant as a terre of reproach. Others, 
again, consider the phrase as equivalent to coxcolnb. 
Chottff]t. In using this word Shakespeare probably, in 
most cases, meant tlie jackdaw ;" for in "A Midsulnlner- 
Night's Dream" iii. 2) he says: 

"russet-pated choughs, many in sort, 
Rising and cawing at the gun's report ;" 

the terre russet-pated being applicable to thc jackdaw, but 
not to the rem chough. In " I l [cnry IV." (v. I), l'rince l [enry 
calls Falstaff ch«w«t--" Peace, chexvet, peace"--in allusion, 
no doubt, to the chough or jackdaw, for colnmon birds have 
always had a variety of llallleS.  Such an appellation would 
be a proper reproach to Falstaff, for his meddling and in- 
pertinent talk. StccvCllS and Malone, howevcr, finding that 
ch«wcts wcre little round pics ruade of minced meat, thought 
that the l'rince comparcd Falstaff, for his unseasonable chat- 
tering, to a minced pie. Cotgrave * describes the French 
chotcttc as an owlet ; also, a " chough, which many consid- 
er to be the simple and satisfactory explanation of rhcwrt. 
Belon, in his " History of Birds" (Paris, I855), speaks of the 
choztc¢¢c as the slnaIlest kind of chough or crow. gain, in 
"  Henry IV." (il. _-'), in the amusing scene whcre Falstaff, 
with the Prince and Poins, lneet to rob the travellers at Gads- 

 Harting's "Ornitholog T of Shakespeare,'" p. 44; Halliwell-Phil- 
lipps's " Handbook Index to Shakespeare," 1866, p. I87. The term 
finch, also, according to some, ma 3" mean either the bullfinch or gold- 
finch. 
» See Yarrell's " History of British Birds," 2d edition, vol. ii. p. 58. 
 Nares's" Glossary," vol. i. p.  56; S inger's " Shakespeare," 1875, vol. 
v. p. I 15; Dvce's " Glossarv," I876, p. 77. 
 Mr. Dyce says that if Dr. Latham had been acquainted with the 
article "Chouette," in Cotgrave, he would hOt probably have suggested 
that Shakespeare meant here the lapwing or pewit. Some consider 
the magpie is meant. See Halliwell-Phillipps's " Handbook Index to 
Shakespeare," 866, p. 83. Professor Newton would read "russet- 
patted," or" red-legged," thinking that Shakespeare meant the chough. 



102 

FOLK-LORE OF SttAKESPEARE. 

hill, Falstaff calls thc victims "fat chuffs," probably, says 
Mr. Ilarting, who connects the word with chough, from their 
strutting about with much noise. Nares, I too, in his explana- 
tion of ch@ says, that some suppose it to be from chough. 
which is silnilarly pronounced, and means a kind of sea-bird, 
generally esteemed a stupid olle. Various other meanings 
are given. Thus, Mr. Gifford" aNrms that clutff is always 
uscd in a bad scnse, and mcans " a coarse, Unlnannered clown. 
at once sordid and wealthy;" and Mr. Halliwell-I'hillipps 
explains it as spokcn in contempt for a fat pcrson? In 
Northamptonshire, 4 we find the word chuff used to dcnote a 
person in good condition, as in Clarc's " Village Minstrcl :" 

" tlis chuff cheeks dimpling in a fondling stalle." 

Shakespcare alludcs to the practice of teaching choughs 
to talk, although froln thc following passages ho does not 
appear to have esteemed thcir talking powers as of much 
value; for in "All's \Vcll That Ends \Vcll " (iv. ), he savs: 
" Choughs' language, gabble enough, and good enough." 
And in "The Tcmpest" (il. x), he represents Anton[o as 
saying : 
"There be that tan rule Naples 
As well as he that sleeps ; lords that tan prate 
As amply and unnecessarily 
As this Gonzalo ; I myself could make 
A chough of as deep chat." 

Shakespeare always rcfers to thc jackdaw as the " daw. '' 
The chough or jackdav was ont of the birds considered 
ominous by our forcfathers, an allusion to which occurs in 
" Macbeth " (iii. 4) : 

, " Glossary," vol. i. p. 162 ; Singer's " Notes to Shakespeare," 1875. 
vol. v. p. 42. 
- Massinger's Works, 18I 3, vol. i. p. 28I. 
 "" Handbook Index to Shakespeare," 1866, p. 86. 
 Miss Baker's " Northamptonshire Glossary," 854 , vol. i. p.  6. 
» "'Coriolanus," iv. 5; "Troilus and Cressida," i. 2; " Much Ado 
About Nothing," il. 3 : "Twelfth Night," iii. 4 ; " Love's Labour's Lost," 
v. 2, song : " I Henry VI." il. 4. 



BIRDS. 

"Augurs and understood relations have, 
t3y magot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth 
The secret'st man of blood." 

IO 3 

At the present day this bird is hot without its folk-lore, 
and there is a Norwich rhvme to the following effect :' 
"When three daws are secn on St. Peter's vane together, 
Then we're sure to bave bad weather." 
In the north of England," too, the flight of jackdaws down 
the chimney is held to presage death. 
Cock. The beautifil notion which rcprescnts the cock as 
crowing all night long on Christmas Eve, and by its vigilance 
dispelling every kind of lnalignant spil'it  and evil influence 
is graphically mentioncd in "' I[alnlet " (i. ), where Marcel- 
lus, speaking of the ghost, says : 
"It faded on the crowing of the cock. 
Some say, that ever "gainst that season comes 
\Vherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated. 
The bird of dawning singeth ail night long'. 
And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad ; 
The nights are wholesome ; then no planets strike, 
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, 
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time." 
I11 short, there is a complete prostration of the powers of 
darkness; and thus, for the time being, mankind is said to 
be released from the influence of all those evil forces which 
otherwise excrt such sway. The notion that spirits fly at 
cock-crow is vcry ancient, and is mcntioned by the Chris- 
tian poet Prudentius, who flourished iii the beginning of the 
fourth century. There is also a hymn, said to have been 
composed bv St. Ambrose, and formerly used in the Salis- 
bury Service, which so much resembles the following speech 
of Horatio (i. ), that one might ahnost suppose Shakespeare 
had seen it : 
1 Swainson's "Weather-Lore." 1873. p. 240. 
= Henderson's " Folk-Lore of Northern Counties." 1879. p. 48. 
 See Douce's "Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. 438. 
• See Ibid. 



Io4 

FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 

"The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn, 
Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat 
Awake the god of day ; and, at his warning, 
Whether in sea or tire, in earth or air, 
The extravagant and erring spirit hies 
To his contine." 

This disappearance of spirits at cock-crow is further al- 
luded to I,i. -):' 
"the morning cock crew loud, 
And at the sound it shrunk in haste away, 
And vanished from our sight." 
Blair, too, in his " Grave," has these graphic words : 
"the tale 
()f horrid apparition, tall and ghastly. 
That walks at dead of night, or takes his stand 
 )'er some new-open'd grave, and, strange to tell, 
Evanishes at crowing of the cock." 
This superstition has not entirely died out in England, 
and a correspondent of " Notes and Queries" relates an 
amusing lcgcnd current in Dcvonshirc: " Mr. N. was a 
squire who had been so unfortunate as to sell his soul to 
the devil, with the condition that after his funeral the fiend 
should take possession of his skin. He had also persuaded 
a neighbor to be present on the occasion ofthe flaying. On 
the death of Mr. N. this man went, in a state ofgreat alarm, 
to the parson of the parish, and asked his advice. By him 
he was told to fulfil his engagement, but he must be sure 
and carry a cock into the church with him. On the night 
after the fimeral the man proceeded to the church, armed 
with the cock, and, as an additional security, took up his 
position in the parson's pew. At twelve o'clock the devil 
arrived, opened the grave, took the corpse from the coffin. 
and flayed it. \Vhen the operation was concluded, he held 
the skin up before him and remarked, ' \Vell, 'twas hOt worth 

 See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," I849, vol. ii. pp. 5-57; Hampson's 
"Medii (Evi Kalendarium," vol. i. p. 84. 
"- st series, vol. iii. p. 404. 



BIRDS. 
coming for after all, for it is all full of holes!' As he said 
this the cock crew, whereupon the fiend, turning round to 
the man, exclaimcd,'If it had hOt been for the bird you 
have got there underyour arm. I would have your skin too!' 
But, thanks to thc cock, the man got home safe again." 
Various origins have been assigned to this superstition, 
which Hampson' regards as a misunderstood tradition of 
some Sab,-ean fable. The cock, ho adds, which seems by its 
early voice to call forth the sun, was esteemed a sacred solar 
bird ; hence it was also sacred to Mercury, one of the per- 
sonifications of the sun. 
A very gcncral amusement, up to thc end of thc last cen- 
tury, was cock-fighting, a diversion of which mention is oc- 
casionally ruade by Shakespeare, as in "Antony and Cleo- 
patra (il. 3): 
• ' His cocks do win the battle still of mine, 
When it is all to nought." 
And again t lamlet says (v. 2: 
"o. I die. Horatio; 
The potent poison quite oer-crows my spirit 
meaning, the poison triumphs over him, as a cock over his 
beaten antagonist. Formerly, cock-fighting entered into thc 
occupations of the old and young." Schools had their cock- 
fights. Travellers agreed with coachmen that they wcre to 
wait a night if there was a cock-fight in any town through 
which they passed. \Vhen country gentlemen had sat long 
at table, and the conversation had turned upon the relative 
merits of their several birds, a cock-fight often resulted, as 
the birds in question xx:ere brought for the purpose into the 
dining-room. Cock-fighting was practised on Shrove Tues- 
day to a great extent, and in the time of Henry VII. seems 
to bave bcen practised within the precincts of court. The 
earliest mention of this pastime in England is by Fitzste- 

1 ,, Medii OEvi Kalendarium." vol. i. p. 85. 
 Roberts's " Social History of Southern Counties of England." 856 , 
p. 4_t ; see " British Popular Customs." 876. p. 65. 



IO6 FOLK-LORE OF StlAKESPEARE. 
phens, in I 9 . Happily, nowadays, cock-fighting is, by law, 
a nisdemeanor, and punishable by penalty. One ofthe pop- 
ular terres for a cock beaten in a fight wa.q "a craven," to 
which we find a reference in the "Taming of the Shrew" 
(ii. 1): 
"No cock of mine ; )'ou crow too like a craven." 
\Ve may also compare the expression in " I|enry V." (iv. 7): 
" I[e is a craven and a villain else." In the old appeal or 
wager ofbattle, * in our common law, we are told, on the au- 
thority of Lord Coke, that the party who confessed himself 
wrong, or refused to fight, was to pronounce the word cr«- 
'ctt, and judgment was at once given against him. Singer = 
says the terre ma)" be satisfactorily traced flore cra,tt, «rcazt, 
the old French word for an act ofsubmission. It is so writ- 
ten in the old metrical romance of" Ywaine and Gawaine" 
(Ritson, i.  »»,:- 
"Or yelde the til us als creant." 
'\nd {11 " Richard Cceur de Lion " (\Veber, ii. 208): 
"On knees he fel down, and cr):de, crOaunt." 
It then became craz,«,tt, craz,«wt, and at length craz,rt. 
In the time of Shakespeare the word rock was used as a 
vulgar corruption or purposed disguise of the naine of God, 
an instance of which occurs in " I-Iamlet " (iv. 5) : " By cock, 
they are to blame." This irreverent alteration ofthe sacred 
nalne is round at least a dozen times  {n Heywood's " Ed- 
ward the Fourth," where one passage is, 
"I-/eral, t. Sweare on this booke, King Lewis. so help you God. 
You rnean no otherwise then you bave said. 
A')g-Lewis. So helpe me Cock as I dissernble hOt." 
We find, too, other allusions to the sacred naine, as in " cock's 
passion," " cock's body ;" as in " Taming of the Shrev" (iv. 
' Nares's "Glossary,"  872, vol. i. p. 2o 3. 
" Singer's "Shakespeare," 875, vol. ix. p. 256; Halliwell-Phillipps's 
" Handbook Index to Shakespeare," p.  2. 
' Dyce's " Glossary to Shakespeare." p. 85. 



BIRDS. iO 7 
I) : " Cock's passion, silence !" A not uncommon oath, too, 
in Shakespeare's tilne was " Cock and pie "--cock referring 
to God, and/i« being supposed to mcan the service-book of 
the Rolnish Church ; a lneaning which, says Mr. Dyce, scems 
much more probable than Doucc's' supposition that this 
oath was connectcd with the making of solelnn vows by 
knights in the days of chivalry, during elteltainments at 
which a roasted pcacock was scrved up. It is used by Jus- 
tice Shallow (" 2 Henry IV.," v. I) : " By cock and pye, sir, 
you shall hot away to-night." \Ve may also compare thc 
expression in the old play of" Soliman and l'crseda" (,I 599) : 
" By cock and pye and mouscfoot." Mr. Iarting' says thc 
" Cock and Pye" (i. «., magpic) was an ordinary ale-house 
sign, and may have thus becomc a subject for the vulgar to 
swear by. 
The phrase, " Cock-a-hoop "--which occurs in " Romeo 
and Juliet " (i. 5), 
"You'll make a mutiny among my guests ! 
You will set cock-a-hoop ! you'll be the man 
--no doubt refers to a reckless person, who takes thc cock or 
tap out of a cask, and lays it on thc top or hoop of the bar- 
rel, thus letting all thc contents of the cask run out. For- 
merly, a quart pot was called a hoop, being formed of staves 
bound together with hoops like barrels. There were gener- 
ally three hoops to such a pot; hence, in "2 Henry VI." 
(iv. 2), one of Jack Cade's popular reforlnations was to in- 
crease their number: " the three-hooped pot shall have ten 
hoops; and I will make it fclony to drink small beer.'" 
Some, however, consider the tcrm Cock-a-hoop' refers to 
the boastful crowing of the cock. 
In " King Lear " (iii. 2) Shakespeare speaks of the " cata- 
racts and hurricanoes " as having 
" drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks !" 

 " Illustrations of Shakespeare." 1839, p. 290. 
• "Ornithology of Shakespeare." p.  7- 
 It is also an aie-bouse sign. 
 Sec Dyce's "Glossary to Shakespeare." p. 85. 



108 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Vanes on the tops of steeples werc in days gonc by ruade in 
thc form of a cock---hence weathercocks--and put up, in pa- 
pal rimes, to remind the c}ergy of watchfulness.' Apart, too, 
from symbolism, the large tail of thc cock was well adapted 
to turn with the wind. " 
(rmoratt. The proverbial voracity of this bird  gave 
rise to a man of large appctite bcing likencd to it, a sense 
in which Shakespcarc employs the word, as in " Coriolanus" 
(i. i): " the cormorant bclly;" in " I.ove's Labour's Lost" 
(i. I) : " cormorant dcvouring Time ;'" and in " Troilus and 
Cressida" (ii. 2): " this cormorant war." "Although," says 
Mr. Harting,' " Shakcsl)eare lncntions the cormorant in sev- 
eral of his plays, lac has nowhcrc alludcd to the sport of us- 
ing thcse birds, whcn trained, for fishing; a fact which is 
singular, since he often speaks of the thon popular pas- 
time of hawking, and he did hOt dic until some years after 
James I. had ruade fishing with corlnorants a fashionable 
:1.i11 ri st? 111 e la t ." 
Crow. This bas from the earliest times bcen reckoned a 
bird ofbad omen; and in " Julius Cmsar" (v. ), Cassius, on 
thc eve of battle, predictcd a defeat, because, to use lais own 
words : 
"crows and kites 
Fly o'er out heads and downward look on us, 
As we were sickly prey : their shadows seem 
A canopy most fatal, under which 
Our army lies, ready to give up the ghost." 
Allusions to the saine superstition occur in "Troilus 
and Cressida" (i. 2) ; " King John "' (v. 2t, ctc. Vergil (" Bu- 

* See " Book of Days,"  863, vol. i. p.  57- 
 In " King Lear" (iv. 6), where Edgar says : 
"Yond tall anchoring bark, 
Diminish'd to her cock  ber cock, a buoy 
Almost too small for sight," 
the word "cock" is an abbreviation for cock-boat. 
 For superstitions associated with this bird, see Brand's "Pop. An- 
tiq.," 849. vol. iii. p. 28. 
• " Ornitholo of Shakespeare," p. 260. 



BIRD S. 10 9 
colic," i. I8) mentions the croakin of" the crow as a bad 
Omell : 
"Scepe sinistra cava prcedixit ab ilice cornix." 
And Butler, in his " Hudibras '" (part il. canto 3), remarks : 
"Is it hot ominous in all countries. 
V'hen crows and ravens croak upon trees." 
Even children, nowadays, regard with no friendly feelins 
this bird of" ill-omcn : and in the north of England there is 
a rhyme to the following effect : 
" Crow. crow. get out of my siRht. 
( )r else l'Il eat thy liver and lights." 
Amon other allusions ruade by Shakespeare to the 
crow may be noticed the crow-keeper---a person cmployed 
to drive away crows ffoin the fields. 2\t presenW  in all the 
mi:lland counties, a boy set to drive away the birds is said 
to keep birds; hence, a stuffed figure, now called a sc«rc- 
crow, was also called a crow-kecpcr, as iii " King Lear "' (iv. 6) : 
" That fellow handles lais bow like a crow-keepcr." 
Ont of Tusser's directions for Septclnbcr is: 
" No sooner a-sowing, but out by-and-by, 
V¢ith mothcr or boy that alarum can cry: 
And let them be armed with a sling or a bow, 
To scare away pigeon, the rook, or the crow." 
In " Romeo and Juliet" (i.4) a scarccrow seems meant: 
" Bearing a Tartar's painted bov of lath, 
Scaring the ladies like a crow-keeper.'" 
Among further rcferences to this practice is that il'l 
" I Henry VI." (i. 4), where Lord Talbot relates that, when 
a prisoner in France, he was publicly exhibited in thc mar- 
ket-place : 
"Herc, said they, is the terror of the French, 
The scarecrow that affrights our children so.'" a 

a See " Folk-Lore Record." 879, vol. i. p. 52 ; Henderson's "Folk- 
Lore of Northern Counties," I879, pp. 25, I26, 277. 
• a Nares's "Glossary," vol. i. p. 2o8. 
 Cf. " Henry IV.," iv. 2. 



I IO FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
And once more, in " Measure for Measure " (ii. ) : 
"We must not make a scarecrow of the la,v, 
Setting it up to fear the birds of prey, 
And let it keep one shape, till custom make it 
Their perch and hot their terror." 
The phrase "to pluck a crow " is to complain good-nat- 
uredly, but reproachfully, and to threaten retaliation.' It 
occurs in " Comedy of Errors " (iii. l I : "\Ve'Il pluck a crow 
together." Sometimes the word/,zd! is substituted for pluck, 
as in Butler's " Hudibras" (part il. canto 2): 
" If hot, resolve belote we go 
That you and I must pull a crow." 
The crov has been regarded as the emblem of darkness, 
which has hOt escaped the notice of Shakespeare, who, in 
" l'ericlcs "" (iv. introd.), speaking of the white dove, says : 
"With the dove of Paphos might the crow 
Vie feathers white."  
Czc]«oo. Many superstitions have clustered round the 
cuckoo, and both in this country and abroad it is looked 
upon as a mysterious bird, being supposed to possess the 
gift of second-sight, a notion referred to in " Love's Labour's 
Lost " (v. 2): 
"Çuckoo. cuckoo : O word of fear. 
Unpleasing to a married ear." 
.And again, in "A Midsumner-Night's Dream " liii. I), Bot- 
tom sings : 
"The plain-song cuckoo gray. 
Whose note full many a man doth mark. 
And dares hOt answer nay." 
It is still a common idea that the cuckoo, if asked, will 

 Miss 13aker's " Northamptonshire Glossary," vol. ii. p. 6 ; 13rand's 
'" Pop. Antiq.," 849, vol. iii. p. 393. 
- Cf. " Romeo and Juliet,"i. 5- 
 "A cuckold being called from the cuckoo, the note of that bird was 
supposed to prognosticate that destiny."--Nares's "Glossary, ,' vol. i. 
p. 



BIRDS. I I I 
tell any one. by the repetition of its cries, how long he has 
to lire. The country lasses in Sweden count the cuckoo's 
call to acertain hmv many years they have to remain un- 
marricd, but they gcnerally shut their ears and run away on 
hearing it a few times.' Among the Germans the notes of 
the cuckoo, when heard in spring for the first time, are con- 
sidered a good omeu. Ca:sarius /I222) tells us of a con- 
vertite who was about to bccome a monk, but changed his 
inind on heariug the cuckoo's call, and countiug twenty-two 
repetitions of it. " Corne," said he, " I have certainlv twen- 
ty-two years still to live, and why hould I mortify mysclf 
during ail that time? I will go back to the world, enjoy its 
delights for tweuty years, and devote the remaining two to 
penitence."' In England the peasantry salute the cuckoo 
with the following invocation : 
"Cuckoo, cherry-tree. 
Good bird. tell me. 
How many years bave I to lire 
the allusion to the cherry-tree having probably originated 
in the popular fancy that before the cuckoo ceases its song 
it must eat three good meals of cherries, l'liny mentions 
the belief that when the cuckoo came to maturity it de- 
voured the bird which had reared it, a superstition several 
rimes alluded to by Shakespeare. Thus, in " King Lear" 
(i. 4, the Fool remarks : 
"The hedge-sparrow fed the cuckoo so long. 
That it had its head bit off by its young." 
Again, in " I tlenry IV." (v. I), Worcester says : 
• " And being fed by us you used us so 
As that ungentle gull, the cuckoo's bird. 
Useth the sparrow; did oppress our nest; 
Grew by our feeding to so great a bulk 
That even our love durst not corne near your sight 
For fear of " «" 
swallowme,. 

 Engel's "Musical Myths and Facts," I876, vol. i. p. 9- 
 See Kelly's "Indo-European Folk-Lore," 863, p. 99; "English 
Folk-Lore," t879, pp. 55-6-'. 



Il2 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Once more, the opinion that the cuckoo ruade no nest of 
its own, but laid its eggs in that of another bird, is men- 
tioned in "Antony and Clcopatra" (il. 6) : 
"Thou dost o'er-count me ol my father's house ; 
But, since the cuckoo builds not for himself, 
Remain in't as thou may'st." 
It has been remarked, 1 however, in reference to the common 
idca that thc young cuckoo ill-trcats its foster-mother, that 
if ve watch the movements of the two birds, when the 
younger is being fed, we cannot much wonder at this piece 
of folk-lore. \\'hen the cuckoo opens its great mouth, the 
diminutive nurse places hcr own head so far within its pre- 
cincts that it has the exact appearance of a voluntary sur- 
tender to decapitation. 
The notion" " which couples the naine ofthe cuckoo with 
the character of the man whose wife is unfaithful to him 
appears to havc been derived from the Iomans, and is first 
found in the Middle Ages in 1;rance, and in the countries of 
which the modern language is derived from the Latin. But 
the ancients more correctly gave the naine of the bird, not 
to the husband of the faithless wife, but to her paramour, 
who might justly be supposed to be acting the part of the 
cuckoo. They applied the naine ofthe bird in whose nest 
the cuckoo's eggs were usually deposited--' carmca '--to the 
husband. It is hot quite clear how, in the passage from 
classic to medioeval, the application of the terre was trans- 
ferred to the husband." In further allusion to this bird, we 
may quote the following from "All's \Vcll That Ends \Vell " 
(i. 3): 
" For I the ballad will repeat. 
Which nen full truc shall find. 
Your marriage cornes by destiny. 
Your cuckoo sings by kind." 
The cuckoo has generally been regarded as the harbinger 
of spring, and, according to a Gloucester rhyme- 

 See Mary Howitt's " Pictorial Calendar of the Seasons." p. 55; 
Knight's " Pictorial Shakespeare." vol. i. pp. aoES, -26. 
- Chambers's "Book of Days,'" vol. i. p. 53. 



]3IRDS. 

II3 

"The cuckoo cornes in April, 
Sings a song in May; 
Then in June another tune. 
And then she flics away." 
Thus, in " I Itcnry IV." (iii. 2), the king, alluding to his pre- 
decessor, says : 
"So, when he had occasion to be seen, 
He was but as the cuckoo is in June, 
Heard, not regarded." 
In " Love's Labour's Lost " (v. 2) spring is maintained by 
the cuckoo, in those charming sonllcts descriptive of the 
bcauties of the country at this season. 
The word cuckoo bas, froln the earliest times, bcen used 
as a terre of rcproach :l and Plautus' bas introduced it on 
more than one occasion. In this scnse wc find it quoted by 
Shakespeare in " Henry IV." (il. 4): "O' horscback, ye 
cuckoo." The tcrm ctc]«old, too, which so flequently occurs 
throughout Shakespeare's plays, is generally derived ffoto 
cuculus,  from the practice already alluded to of depositing 
« in othcr birds' nests. 
its es 
Domcstic Fozc'l. In " The Tcmpest " (v. ), the word chick 
is used as a terre of endearmcnt : " My Ariel ; chick," etc. 
and in " Macbeth " (ix-. 3) Macduff speaks of his children as 
"all lny pretty chickens." Ia " Coriolanus" (v. 3), hen is 
applied to a woman : " poor hen, fond of no second brood;" 
and in " Taming of the Shrew " iii. ), Petruchio says: "so 
Kate will be my hen ;" and, once more, '.' I Henry IV." (iii. 3), 
Falstaff says, "How now, Dame Partlet the hen?" In 
" Othello" (i. 3) Iago applies the terre "guinea-hen" to 
Desdemona, a cant phrase in Shakespeare's da)" for a fast 
WOlilall. 
Dort. Among the many beautiful allusions to this bird 
 Sec Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 849, vol. il. p. 2o. 
e ,, Asinaria," v. I. 
 Nares, in his "Glossary" (vol. i. p. 2), says: "Cuckold, perhaps, 
fmtsi cuckoo'd, i. e., one served ; i. e., forced to bring up a brood that 
is hot his own." 
8 



1 14 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
ve may mention one in " Hamlet" (v. I), where Shakespeare 
speaks of the dove only laying two eggs :' 
"as patient as the female dove 
When that her golden couplets are disclosed." 
The young nestlings, whell first disclosed, are only covered 
with a yellow down, and the mother rarely leaves the nest, 
in consequence of the tcnderncss of her young; hence the 
dove has been ruade an cmblem of patience. In "2 Hen- 
ry IV." (iv. I), it is spoken of as the symbol of peace : 
"The dove and very blessed spirit of peace." 
Its love, too, is several times referrcd to, as in " Romeo and 
Juliet " (ii. I), " l'ro,ounce but--love and dove ;" and in 
" 1 Itenry VI." (ii. 2), Burgundy says: 
"Like to a pair of loving turtle-doves, 
That could hot live asunder, day or night." 
This bird has also been regardcd as the emblem of fidelity, 
as in the following graphic passage in " Troilus and Cres- 
sida" (iii. 2): 
"As true as steel, as plantage to the moon, 
As sun to day, as turtle to ber mate, 
As iron to adamant, as earth to the centre ;" 
and in " \Vinter's Tale " (iv. 4), we read : 
"turtles pair, 
"That never mean to part." 
Its modcsty is alluded to in the " Taming of the Shrew" 
(il. ) : " lnodest as the dove ;" and its innocence in " 2 Hen- 
ry VI." (iii. ) is mentioned, where King Henry says : 
"Out kinsman Gloster is as innocent 
From meaning treason to our royal person 
As is the sucking lamb or harmless dove : 
The duke is virtuous, mild and too well given 
To dream on evil, or to work my downfall." 
The custom ofgiving a pair ofdoves or pigeons as a present 

' Singer's "Shakespeare," 1875, vol. ix. p. :94. 



BIRDS. 1 1  
or peace-offcring is alluded to in "Titus Andronicus" (iv. 4), 
where the clown says, " God and Saint Stephcn give you 
good den: I bave brought 3-ou a lctter and a couple of 
pigeons hcre ;" and when Gobbo tried to find fayot with 
Bassanio, in " Merchant of Vcnice" (il. 2), he began by say- 
ing, " I have here a dish of dores, that I would bestow upon 
your worship." Shakespeare alludes in several places to thc 
"dores of Venus," as in "Venus and Adonis :" 
"Thus weary of the world, away she [Venus] hies, 
And yokes ber silver dores ; by whose swift aid 
Their mistress, mounted, through the empty_skies 
In her light chariot quickly is conveyed ; 
Holding their course to l'aphos, where their queen 
Means to immure herself and not be seen ;" 
and in " A Midsummer-Night's Drcam "' (i. I), whcrc Hermia 
speaks of " the simplicity of Venus' doves." This will also 
explain, says Mr. Harting,  the referencc to " the dove of 
l'aphos," in " l'ericlcs" (iv. Introd. }. The towns of Old 
and New l'aphos are situated on the southwest extremitv 
of the coast of Cyprus. Old Paphos is the one generally re- 
ferred to by the poets, being the peculiar seat of the wor- 
ship of Venus, who was fabled to have been wafted thithcr 
aftcr her birth amid the waves. The "dove of Paphos" 
may therefore be considered as synonymous with thc " dove 
of Venus." 
Mahomet, ve are told, had a dove, which he used to feed 
with wheat out of his ear; when hungry, the dove lightcd 
on his shoulder, and thrust its bill in to find its breakfast, 
Mahomet persuading the rude and simple Arabians that it 
was the Holy Ghost, that gave him advice." Hence, in 
"  Henry VI." (i. e), the question is asked : 
"V'as Mahomet inspired with a dove ?" 
Ducle. .& barbarous pastime in Shakespeare's rime was 
hunting a rame duck in the water with spaniels. For the 

,, Ornitholog3, of Shakespeare." pp. 19o, 191. 
Sir W. Raleigh's " History of the World," bk. i. pt. i. ch. 6. 



I 16 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
performance of this amusement iit was necessary to have 
recourse to a pond of water sufficiently extensive to give 
the duck plenty of room for making its escape ff-oto the 
dogs when closely pursued, which it did by diving as often 
as any of them came near it, hence the follmving allusion in 
'" Ilcnry V." (il. 3): 
"And hold-fast is the only dog, my duck. ''= 
"To swim like a duck" is a common provcrb, which oc- 
curs in " The Tempest " (ii. 2), uhere Trinculo, in reply to 
Stcphano's question how he escaped, says: " Swam ashore, 
man, like a duck ; I can swim like a duck, Fil be sworn." 
l'Sa, file. From thc earliest time this bird has been associ- 
ated with numerous popular fancies and supcrstitions, many 
of which have hot escaped the notice of Shakespeare. A 
notion of vcry great antiquity attributes to it the power of 
gazing at the sun undazzlcd, to which Spcnser, in lais "Hymn 
of Hcavenly Beauty" refers: 
"And like the native brood of eagle's kind, 
On that bright sun of glory fix thine eyes." 
In " Love's Labour's Lost " (ix'. 3) Biron says of Rosaline : 
• " What peremptory eagle-sighted eye 
Dares look upon the heaven of ber brow, 
That is not blinded by her majesty ?" s 
And in " 3 Henry VI." ii. ) Richard says to his brother 
Edward : 
" Nay, if thou be that princely eagle's bird, 
Show thy descent by gazing 'gainst the sun." 
The French naturalist, Lacepede,' has calculated that the 
clearness ofvision in birds is nine times more extensive than 

a Strutt's "Sports and Pastimes," 876, p. 329 . 
= There is an allusion to the proverbial saying, " Brag is a good dog, 
but Hold-fast is a better." 
' In the same scene we are told, 
"A lover's eyes will gaze an eagle blind." 
Cf." Romeo and Juliet," iii. 5 ; " Richard II., » iii. 3- 
 Ouoted by Harting, in "Ornitholoo T of Shakespeare," p. 24. 



BIRDS. I 17 
that ofthe farthest-sighted man. The eagle, too, has always 
been proverbial for its great power of flight, and on this ac- 
count has had assigned to il: the sovereignty of the feath- 
ered race. Aristotle and Pliny both record the legend of 
the wren disputing for the crown, a tradition which is still 
found in Ireland :' "The birds all met together one day, and 
settled among themselves that whichever of them could fly 
highest was to be the kin K of thenl all. \Vell, just as they 
were starting, thc little rogue ofa wren perched itsclf on the 
cagle's tail. So thcy flew and flew ever so high, till the 
eagle was mlles above ail the rest, and could hot fly another 
stroke, for he was so tired. Then says he,'I'm the king 
of the birds,' says he; 'hurroo!' 'Mou lie,' says the wren, 
darting up a perch and a hall above thc big fellow. The 
eagle was so anry to think how he was outwitted by the 
wren, that when the lattcr was comin down he gave him a 
stroke of lais wing, and ff-oto that day the wren has never 
been able to fly higher than a hawthorn bush." The swift- 
ness of the eagle's flight is spokcn of in "Tinlon of Athens," 
(i. 
"an eagle flight, bold, and forth on. 
Leaving no tract behind. '' 

The great age, too, of the eagle is well known ; and the 
words of the Psahnist are familiar to most readers : 

" His youth shall be renewed like the eagle's." 
Apemantus, however, asks of Timon (" Timon of Athens," 
iv. 3) : 
"wi]l these moss'd trees. 
That have outlived the eagle, page thy heels, 
And skip when thou point'st out ?" 

Turbervile, iii his " Booke of Falconrie," 575, says that 
the great age of this bird has been ascertained from the cir- 
cumstance of its always building its eyrie or nest in the saine 

Kellv's " Indo-European Folk-Lore," pp. 75, 79. 
Cf. "Antony and Cleopatra," ii. 2 : "This was but as a fly by an 
eagle." 



I 18 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
place. The Romans considered the eagle a bird of good 
omen, and its presence in time of battle was supposed to 
foretell victory. Thus, in " Julius Coesar" (v. I) we read : 
'" Coming from Sardis, on our former ensign 
Two mighty eagles fell ; and there they perch'd. 
Gorging and feeding from our soldiers' hands." 
It sas selected for the Roman legionary standard} through 
being the king and most powerful of all birds. As a bird 
of good omen it is mcntioned also in " Cymbelinc" (i. ): 
"I chose an eagle, 
And did avoid a puttock ;" 
and in anothcr scene (iv. 2) the Soothsaycr rclates how 
" Last night the very gods show'd me a vision, 
........... thus :-- 
I saw Jove's bird. the Roman eagle, wing'd 
From the spunoï¢ south to this part of the west, 
There vanish'd in the sunbeams : which portends 
(Unless my sins abuse my divination), 
Success to the Roman host." 
The conscious superiority" of the eaglc is dcpictcd by Ta- 
mora in "Titus A_ndronicus '" (iv. 4) : 
"The eagle suffers little birds to sing, 
And is hOt careful what they mean thereby, 
Knowing that with the shadow of his wing, 
He can at pleasure stint their melody. » 
Gose. "riais bird was the subject  of many quaint pro- 
verbial phrases often used in the old popular writers. Thus, 
a tailor's ffoosc was a jocular naine for lais prcssing-iron, prob- 
ably froln its being often roasting bcforc the tire, an allusion 
to which occurs in " l\Iacbeth'" (.ii. 3) : "corne in, tailor ; here 
you may roast your goose." The " wild-goose chase," 
which is mentioned in " Romeo and Juliet" (ii. 4)--" Nay, 
if thy wits run the wild-goose chase, I have done"--was 

 Josephus. "De Bello Judico," iii. 5- 
 Harting's "Ornithology of Slmkespeare,'" p. 33. 
 Nares's " Glossary," vol. i. p. 378. 



]3IRDS. 1 19 
a kind of horse-race, which resembled the flight of wild 
geese. Two horses were startcd togcthcr, and whichever 
rider could get the lead, the other was obliged to follow 
him over whatever ground the forcmost jockey chose to 
go. That horse which could distance thc othcr won thc 
race. This reckless sport is mentioned by Burton, in his 
"Anatomy of Melancholy," as a recreation much in vogue 
in his rime among gentlemen. The terre "\\ïnchester 
goose " was a cant phrase for a certain venereal disease, be- 
cause the stews in Southwark werc under thc jurisdiction 
of the Bishop of \Vinchestcr, to whom Glostcr tauntingly 
applies the tcrm in thc following passagc (" I l lcnry VI.," 
i. 3): 
" Winchester goose ! I cry--a rope ! a rope !" 
In "Troilus and Cressida" (v. IO) there is a further allusion : 
"Some galled goose of Winchester would hiss." 
Ben Jonson' calls it : 
"the Winchestrian goose. 
13red on the banke in rime of l'opery, 
When Venus there maintain'd the mystery." 
" Plucking geese" was formerly a barbarous sport of boys 
(" Merry Wives of Windsor," v. I), which consisted in strip- 
ping a living goose of its feathers? 
In "Coriolanus" (i. 4), the goose is spoken of as the em- 
blem ofcowardice. Marcius says: 
"You souls of geese, 
That bear the shapes of men. how bave you run 
From slaves that apes would beat 
Goldflnch. The \Varwickshire naine' for this bird is 
"Proud Tailor," to which, some commentators think, the 
words in " I Henry IV." (,iii. ) rcfer : 
",Lady/'. I will hot sing. 
tlola. 'Tis the next way to turn tailor, or be red-breast teacher." 

, " Execration against Vulcan," I64O. p. 37- 
 Singer's "Notes." I875, vol. i. p. 283. 
 Ste "Archoeologia," vol. iii. p. 33- 



120 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
It has, therefore, been suggested that the passage should be 
rcad thus: "'Tis the next way to turn tailor, or red-breast 
teacher," i. c.," to turn teachcr of goldfinches or rcdbreasts." ' 
Singer,  howcver, explains the words thus: " Tailors, like 
weavcrs, have over been remarkable for their vocal skill. 
Pcrcy is jocular in his mode of persuading his wife to sing; 
and this is a humorous turn which he gives to his argument, 
'Corne, sing.' ' I will not sing.' ' 'Tis the next [i. c., the 
readiest, nearest] way to turn tailor, or rcdbreast teachcr '-- 
thc nleaning bcing, to sing is to put yoursclf upon a Icvcl 
with tailors and teaChers of birds." 
Gt[[. Shakespeare oftcn uses this word as synol)'mous 
with fool. Thus in " Itcnry V." (iii. 6) he says : 
"Why, 'tis a gull. a fool." 
The saine play upon the word occurs in " Othello" (v. "), 
and in "Timon of _Athens" (ii. ). In "Twelfth Night" 
(v. I) Malvolio asks: 
"Why have you suffer'd me to be imprison'd, 
Kept in a dark house, visited by the priest. 
And made the most notorious geck and gull 
That c'er invention played on ? tell me vhy." 
It is also uscd to express a trick or imposition, as in " Much 
Ado About Nothing" (il. 3: " I should think this a gull, 
but that thc white-bearded fellow speaks it. '' "Gull- 
catchers," or " gull-groper.%" to which rcference is made in 
"Twelfth Night" (il. 5), where Fabian, on the entry of Maria, 
exclaims: " Hcre cornes my noble gull-catcher," were the 
names by which sharpers  were known in Shakespeare's 

, Nares's "Glossary." vol. ii. p. 693. Some think that the bullfinch 
is meant. 
"- Singer's "Notes," 1875, vol. v. p. 82 ; see Dyce's "Glossary," p. 433. 
 Some doubt exists as to the derivation of KulL Nares says it is 
from the old French gMll«r. Tooke holds that gull, guile, wile, and 
guilt are all from the Anglo-Saxon "wiglian. gewiglian," that by which 
any one is deceived. Harting's '" Ornithology of Shakespeare," p. "-67. 
« See D'Israeli's "Curiosities of Literature," vol. iii. p. 84. 



BIRDS. 1 2 I 
time? The "gull-catcher" was generally an old usurer, 
who lent money to a gallant at an ordinar)-, who had been 
unfortunate in pla)'? Docker devotes a chapter to this 
character in his " Lanthorne and Candle-light," I612. .Ac- 
cording to him," the gull-groper is commonly an old mony- 
monger, who having travailed through ail the follyes of the 
world in his youth, knowes them well, and shunnes them in 
his age, his whole felicitie being to fill his bags with golde 
and silver." The person so duped was termcd a gull, and 
the trick also. In that disputed passage in "The Tempest" 
(il. 2), where Caliban. addressing Trinculo, savs : 
" sometimes I'll get thee 
Young scamels from the rock." 
some think that the sea-mew, or sea-gull, is intended, " sea- 
mall, or sea-mell, being still a provincial naine for this bird. 
Mr. Stevenson. in his " Birds of Norfolk" (vol. il. p. 26o). relis 
us that " the female bar-tailed godwit is called a ' scammell' 
by the gunners of Blakeney. But as this bird is not a rock- 
breeder,  it cannot be the one intended in the present pas- 
sage, if we regard it as an accurate description from a natu- 
ralist's point of view." Holt says that "scam" is a limpet, 
and scamell probabl)" a diminutive. Mr. D)-ce  reads "scam- 
els," L c., the kestrel, stannel, or windhover, which breeds in 
rocky sittmtions and high cliffs on our coasts. Ite also 
further observes that this accords well with the context 
" from the rock," and adds that staniel or stannyel occurs in 
" Twelfth Night" {,ii. 5), where all the old editions exhibit 
the gross misprint " stallion." 
/2r««A[ ". The diversion of catching gaine with hawks was 
very popular in Shakespeare's time,  and hence, as might be 

' See Thornbury's " Shakespeare's England," vol. i. pp. 311-322. 
-" Nares's '" Glossary," vol. i. p. 394. 
 Harting's '" Ornitholog 3" of Shakespeare,'" p. 269. 
 Aldis Wright's " Notes to The Tempest, t875. pp. t2o, t2L 
 See Dyce's "Shakespeare," vol. i. p. 245. 
 See Strutt's " Sports and Pastimes," 876, pp. 6o-97, and " Book of 
Days," 1863,vol. il. pp. 211-213 ; Smith's " Festivals. Gaines, and Amuse- 
ments," 1831, p. 174- 



I22 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
cxpcctcd, we find many scattcrcd allusions toit throughout 
his plays. The training of a hawk for thc field was an es- 
sential part of the education of a young axon nobleman ; 
and the present of a well-trained hawk was a gift to be wel- 
comed by a king. Edward the Confessor spent much of his 
lcisure timc in cither hunting or hawking; and in the reign 
of Edward III. we read hoxv the Bishop of Ely attended the 
service of the church at Bermondsey, Southwark, leaving his 
hawk in the cloister, which in the meantime was stolen--the 
bishop solcmnly excommunicating the thieves. On one oc- 
casion IIcm3z VIII. met with a serious accident when pur- 
suing his hawk at Ititchin, in ttertfordshire. In jumping 
over a ditch his pole broke, and he full headlong into the 
muddy watcr, whcnce ho was with some difficulty rescued by 
ont of his fll!owers. Sir Thomas More, writing in the reign 
of Ilenry VIII., dcscribing the state of manhood, makes a 
young man sa)" 
"Man-hod I ana, therefore I me delyght 
To hunt and hawke, to nourish up and fede 
The greyhounde to the course, the hawke to th" flight, 
And to bestryde a good and lusty stede." 
In noticing, then, Shakespeare's allusions to this sport, we 
have a good insight into its various features, and also gain a 
knowledge of the several terms associated with it. Thus 
frequcnt mention is ruade of thc word "haggard"--a wild, 
untrained hawk--and in the following allegory (" Taming of 
the Shrew," ix,. ), where it occurs, much of the knowledge 
of falconry is compriscd : 
"NI 3- falcon now is sharp, and passing empty ; 
And. till she stoop, she nmst not be full-gorged? 
For thon she never looks upon her lure. 
Another way I have to man my haggard. 
To make her come. and know her keeper's call ; 
That is. to vatch ber, as we watch these kites 
That bate, and beat. and will not be obedient. 
" A hawk full-fed was untractable, and refused the lure--the lure 
being a thing stuffed to look like the game the hawk was to pursue; 
its lute was to tempt him back after he had flown." 



BIRDS. 12 3 
She eat no meat to-day, nor none shall eat ; 
Last night she slept not, nor to-night she shall not."' 
Further allusions occur in " Twelfth Night" (iii. I), where 
Viola says of the Clown : 

"This fellow is wise enough to play the fool ; 
And to do that well craves a kind of wit : 
He nust observe their mood on whom he jests, 
The quality of persons, and the rime ; 
And. like the haggard, check at every feather 
That cornes belote lais eye." 

In " Much Ado About Nothing" (iii. l), Ilcro, speaking 
of Beatrice, says that : 

" her spirits are as coy and wild 
As haggards of the rock." 

And Othello (iii. 3), mistl-ustilag Desdemona, and likcning 
her to a hawk, exclaims : 

"if I do prove her haggard.-- 
I'd whistle her off. "'a 

The word " check" alluded to above was a telm lu falCOllry 
applied to a hawk when she forsook her proper gaine and 
followed some other of inferior kind that crossed her in her 
flight ---being mentioned again in " Hamlet " (.ix'. 7), where 
the kiug says: 
" If he be now return'd 
As checking at his voyage." « 
Another comlnon expression used in falconry is " tower," 

' In the saine play (iv. 2) Hortensio describes Bianca as "this proud 
disdainful haggard." See Dvce's "'Glossary." p. 97; Cotgrave's 
• " French and English Dictionary." sub. " Hagard;" and Latham's 
• " Falconry." etc., 1658. 
" "To whistle off." or dismiss by a whistle; a hawk seems to have 
been usually sent off in this way against the wind when sent in pursuit 
of prey. 
 Dyce's "' Glossary," p. 77 ; see "Twelfth Night." il. 5- 
« The use of the word is not quite the saine here, because the voyage 
was Hamlet's '" proper game." which he abandons. "Notes to Haro- 
let," Clark and Wright. 876. p. eoS. 



124 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
applicd to certain hawks, etc., which tower aloff, soar spirally 
to a hcight in the air, and thence swoop upon their prey. 
In " Macbcth" (ii. 4) wc read of 
"A falcon, towering in her pride of place ;" 
in " 2 Henry VI." (ii. I) Suffolk says, 
'" My lord protector's hawks do tower so well ;" 
and in " King John" (v. 2) the Bastard says, 
"And like an eagle o'er his aery  towers." 
Thc word " quarry," which occurs several times in hake- 
spcarc's plays, in some instanccs means the "gaine or prey 
sought." Thc ctymology has, says Nares, been variously 
attcmptcd, but with little success. It may, pcrhaps, origi- 
nally have meant thc squarc, or enclosure (carre;c), into which 
the gaine was driven (as is still practised in othcr countries), 
and hcnce the application of it to the gaine there caught 
would bc a natural extension of the terre. Randle Itohne, 
in hîs " Acadcmy of Armory" (book il. c. xi. p. 24o), defines 
it as " the fowl which the hawk flyeth at, whether dead or 
alive." It was also equivalent to a heap ofslaughtered gaine, 
as in the following passages. In " Coriolanus" (i. _), Caius 
Marcius says : 
"I'd make a quarry 
With thousands of these quarter'd slaves." 
In " Macbeth" (iv. 3)  we read " the quarry of these mur- 
dcr'd dcer ;" and in " Hamlet" (v. 2), " This quarry cries on 
havock." 
Anothcr terre in falconry is "stoop," or " swoop," denot- 

 See Dyce's "Glossary," p. 456 ; Harting's " Ornitholoo3r " of Shake- 
speare," p. 39 ; Tuberville's " Booke of Falconrie," 6 , p. 53. 
 Also in i. 2 we read : 
"And fortune, on his damned quarrel smiling, 
Show'd like a rebel's whore." 
Some read "quarry;" see "Notes to Macbeth." Clark and Wright, 
P. 77. It denotes the square-headed bolt of a cross-bow ; see Douce's 
"" Illustrations," 839, p. 227 ; Nares's "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 2o6. 



IIRDS. i2 5 
ing the hawk's violent descent from a height upon its prey. 
In "Taming ofthe Shrew "çiv. ) the expression occurs," till 
shc stoop, she must hot be full-gorgcd." I11 "Henry V." (iv. I), 
King Henry, speaking of thc king, says, "though his affec- 
tions are higher mounted than onl'.% yct, when thcy stoop, 
they stoop with thc like wing." I11 " lXlacbcth " {,ix'. 3), too, 
Macdu.ff, refcrring to the cruel murdcr of his childrcn, ex- 
clailns, "\Vhat ! . . . at one fell swoop?"' \Vebstcr, in the 
" Whitc Devil,"  says : 
" If she [¢'. e., Fortune] give aught, she deals it in small parcels, 
That she may take away all at one swoop." 
Shakespeare gives many incidental allusions to the hawk's 
trappings. Thus, in " Lucrece" hc says : 
" Harmless Lucretia. marking what he teIIs 
x, Vith trembling fear. as fowl hear falcon's beIIs." 
And in "As You Like It" (iii. 3),  Touchstone says, "As 
the ox bath his bow, sir, the horse his curb, and-the falcon 
her bells, so man hath his desires." Thc object of thesc bells 
was to lead the falconer to thc hawk when in a wood or out 
of sight. In Hcywood's play cntitled "A \Voman Killed 
with Kindness," 617, is a hawking scene, cortaining a strik- 
ing allusion to the hawk's bells. The dress of the hawk 
consisted of a close-fitting hood of leather or velvet, enriched 
with needlexvork, and sunnountcd with a tuft of colored 
feathers, for use as well as ornament, inasmuch as they as- 
sisted the hand in removing the hood when the birds for 
the hawk's attack came in sight. Thus in" Henry V." (iii. 7), 
the Constable of France, referring to the valor of the Dau- 
phin, says, " 'Tis a hooded valour; and when it appears, it 
will bate. ''' And again, in " Romeo and Juliet" (iii. 2), Ju- 
liet says : 

 See Spenser's "Fairy Oueen," book i. canto xi. 1. 8 : 
"Low stooping with unwieldy sway. ' 
= Ed. Dyce, 1857, p. 5-  See "3 Henry VI." i. I. 
 A quibble is perhaps intended between bate, the term of falconry, 
and abate, £ «., fall off, dwindlc. " Bate is a term in falconry, to flutter 



I26 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
" Hood my unmann'd  blood, bating in my cheeks." 
The "jesses" were two short straps of lcather or silk, which 
were fastened to each leg of a hawk, to which was attached 
a swivel, rioto which dcpendcd the leash or strap which the 
falconer " twisted round his hand. Othello (iii. 3) says: 
"Though that lier jesses were my dear heart-strings." 
We find several allusions to the training of hawks. 3 They 
were usually trained by being kept ffoto sleep, it having 
bcen customary for the falconers to sit up by turns and 
"watch" the hawk, and keep it flom sleeping, sometimes 
fol" thrce successive nights. Desdcmona, in "Othello" (iii. 3), 
says : 
"mv lord shall never rest; 
Fil watch him tame and talk him out of patience ; 
His bed shall seem a school, his board a shrift; 
l'll intermingle everything he does 
With Cassio's suit." 
So, in Cartwright's " Ladv l'rrant" Iii. 2)" 
"" We'll keep you as they do hawks, 
XVatching until you leave your wildness." 
In " The Merry "Wives of Windsor" (v. 5), where Page 
says, 
• ' Nay. do hot fly : I think we bave xvatch'd you now," 
the allusion is, says Staunton, to this method employed to 
rame or " reclaim" hawks. 

the wings as preparing for flight, particularly at the sight of prey. In 
• t Henry IV.' (iv. t) : 
"' All plumed like estridges, that with the wind 
13ated, like eagles having lately bathed.' "' 
---Nares's "Glossary," vol. i. p. 6o. 
 "Unmann'd "' was applied to a hawk hot tamed. 
 See Singer's " Notes to Shakespeare," 1875, vol. x. p. 86 ; Nares's 
'" Glossary," vol. i. p. 448. 
* See passage in "Tanling of the Shrew," iv. , already referred to, 
p. t22. 



BIRDS. 

Agaill, in " Othello" (iii. 3),' Iago exclaims : 
"' She that. so young, could give out such a seeming, 
To seel her father's eyes up close as oak ;" 
in allusion to the practice ofsecling a hawk, or sewing up hcr 
cyelids, by running a fille thread through thcm, in order to 
make hcr tractable and endure the hood of which we have 
already spoken. ' King Henry (" 2 Ilen D" IX.'." iii. IL in his 
soliloquy on sleep, says: 
• ' "Wilt thou upon the high and giddy toast 
Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains 
In cradle of the rude imperious surge." 
In Spenser's " Fairy Queen" (I. vii. 23), wc read : 
"Mine eyes no more on vanity shall feed. 
But sealed up with death, shall bave their deadly meed." 
It was a commoll notion that ira dove was let loose with 
its eyes so closed it would fly straight upwards, COlltinuing 
to mount till it fell down through more exhaustion. ' 
In " Cymbelinc" (iii. 4, Imogen. refcrring to l'osthumus, 
says : 
" I grieve myse]f 
To think, when thou shalt be disedged by ber 
That now thou tir'st on,"-- 
this passage containing two metaphorical expressiolls ri'oto 
falconry. A bird was said to be discdgcd when the keenness 
of its appetite was taken away by tirin, or feeding upon 
some tough or hard substance givcn to it fol" that purpose. 
In " 3 Henry VI." (i. ), the king says: 
"that hateful duke, 
Whose haughty spirit, winged with desire, 
Will cost my crovn, and like an empty eagle 
Tire on the flesh of me and of my son." 

 Also "in saine play. i. 3- 
-" Turbervile, in his "Booke of Falconrie," t 575. gives some curious 
directions as "how to seele a hawke ;" we may compare similar ex- 
pressions in "Antony and Cleopatra." iii.  3; v. 2. 
 Nares's "GlossarT," vol. ii. pp. 777, 778 ; cf. Beaumont and Fletcher, 
'" Philaster," v. . 



128 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
111 "Timon of Athens" (iii. 6), one of the lords says: 
" Upoll that WCle 111y thoughts tiring, vhc'll we (21aCOUll- 
tered." 
In "Venus and Adoni.,.'" too, we find a further allusion : 
" Even as an empty eagle, sharp bv fast. 
Tires with her beak on feathers, flesh, and bone," etc. 
Among other allusions to the hawk may be mentioned 
one in " Measure for Measure " (iii. ): 
" This outward-sainted deputy. 
Whose settled visage and dcliberate word 
Nips youth ï the head, and follies doth «mmew, 
As falcon doth the fowl" 
--the word "'emmew" signlfying the place where hawks 
wcre shut up during the rime they moulted. In " Romeo 
and Juliet" (iii. 4), I.ady Capulet says of Juliet" 
• ' To-night she's mew'd up to her heaviness ;" 
and in "Taming of the Shrew'" (i. ), Gremio, speaking of 
Bianca to Signor Baptista, says: " Why will )-ou mew her ?" 
When the wing or rail feathers of a hawk were dropped, 
forced out, or broken, by any accident, it was usual to sup- 
ply or repair as many as were deficient or damaged, an op- 
eration called "' to imp' a hawl«" Thus, in '" Richard II." 
(il. ), Northumberland says: 
"" If, then, we shall shake off out slavish yoke. 
Imp out out drooping country's broken wing." 
So Massinger, in lais " Renegado" (v. 8), makes Asambeg 
S[l.y : 
"strive to imp 
New feathers to the broken wings of rime." 
Hawkin vas sometimes called birding.  In the "Merry 
\Vives of \Vindsor" (iii. 3) Master Pae says : " I do invite 
you to-morrow morni»g to my bouse to breakfast; al'ter, 

x Imp, from Anglo-Saxon, iml3an, to graft. Turbervile has a whole 
chapter on "The way and manner how to ympe a hawke's feather, 
howsoever it be broken or bruised." 
2 Harting's " Ornitholo 3- of Shakspeare," p. 72. 



BIRDS. I2 9 
we'll a-birding together, I have a fine hawk for the bush." 
In the saine play (iii. 5) Dame Quickly, speaking of Mistress 
Ford, says: " I let husband goes this morning a-birding;" 
and Mistress Ford says (iv. 2): " He's a-birding, sweet Sir 
John." The xvord hawk, says Mr. Harting, is invariably 
used by Shakespeare in its generic sense; and iii only two 
instances does he allude to a particular species. These are 
the kestrel and sl»arrowhawk. In "" Twclfth Night" (il. 5" 
Sir Toby Belch, speaking of Malvolio, as he finds thc lcttcr 
which Maria has purposely dropped in his path, savs: 
"' And with what wing the staniel  checks at it" 
--stanicl being a corruption of stangdall, a naine for thc 
kcstrcl hawl«  " Gouts" is the technical terre for the spots 
on somc parts ofthe plumage of a hawk, and perhaps Shake- 
speare uses the word in allusion to a phrase in heraldry. 
Macbeth (il. ), speaking of thc dagger, savs : 
" I see thee still. 
And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood." 
tZfcroz. This bird was frequently flown at by falconeïs. 
Shal¢espeare, in " Hamlet " (il. 2), makes 1 lalnlet sa)-, " I ara 
but mad north-north-west; when the wind is southerly, I 
know a hawk from a handsaw;" handsaw being a corrup- 
tion of " heronshaw," or " hernscw," which is still tlsed, ill 
the provincial dialects, for a heron. Ii1 Suffolk and Norfolk 
it is pronounced " harnsa," from which to '" hand.aw" is but 
a single step? Shakespeare here alludes to a proverbial 
saying," He knows not a hawk from a handsaw. '' Mr. J. 
C. Heath  explains the passage thus: "The expression ob- 
viously refcrs to the sport of hawking. Most birds, espe- 
' The reading of the folios here is stallion ; but the word wing, and 
the falconer's term rerZ's, prove that the bird must be meant. Sec 
Nares's '" Glossary." vol. il. p. 83-'. 
 See kestrel and sparrowhawk. 
 " Notes to Hamlet." Clark and Wright, 876, p. 9. 
« Ray's "Proverbs."  768, p. 96. 
 Ouoted in " Notes to Hamlet." by Clark and Wright. p. 1 9 ; see 
Nares's " Glossary," vol. i. p. 46. 
9 



I3 ° FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
cially one of hcavy flight like thc heron, when roused by the 
falconcr or lais dog, would fly down or with the wind, in or- 
der to escape, x.Vhen the wind is from the north the heron 
flics towards the south, and the spcctator may be dazzled 
bythe sun, and be unable to distinguish the hawk from the 
heron. On the other hand, when thc wind is southerly the 
hcron flics towards the north, and it and the pursuing hawk 
arc clearly seen by the sportsman, who then has his back to 
the sun, and without difficulty knows the hawk from the 
hernsew." 
«O'- From its gay and gaudy plumage this bird has 
been used for a loose woman, as " Merry x.Vives of x.Vind- 
sor" (iii. 3): " we'll teach him to l«mw turtles from jays," 
L c., to distinguish honest women from loose ones. Again, 
in " Cymbeline" (iii. 4), Imogen says : 

"Some jay of Italy, 
Whose mother was her painting,' hath betray'd him." 

K«str«l. A hawk of a base, unserviceable breed, " and 
therefore used by Spenser, in his " Fairy Queen " (II. iii. 4), 
to signify base: 

" Ne thought of honour ever did assay 
His baser breast, but in his kestrell kynd 
A pleasant veine of glory he did fynd." 

By somc  it is derived flore " coystril," a Imave or peasant, 
from being the hawk formerly used by persons of inferior 
rank. Thus, in "Twelfth Night" (i. ), - we find " coystrill," 
and in " Pcricles" (iv. 6) "coystrel." The name kestrel, 
says Singer, ' for an inferior kind of hawk, was evidently a 
corruption of the French qucrc«lA" or qu«rccr«ll«, and orig- 
inally had no connection with coystril, though in later times 

 That is. ma*te by art : the creature not of nature, but of painting; 
cf. "Taming of the Shrew," iv. 3 ; "The Tempest," ii. 2, 
= Nares's "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 48-'-. 
 Harting's "Ornitholog T of Shakespeare," p. 74. 
« " Notes," vol. iii. pp. 357, 358. 



BIRDS. 13 I 
they may have been confoundcd. HoIinshcd' classes coi- 
sterels with lackeys and womcn, the unwarlikc attcndants 
on an army. The term was alsogivcn as a nickname to the 
emissaries employed by the kings of England in thcir French 
wars. Dyce " also considers kestrcl distinct from coistrel. 
]Ç/ItfffiS/lVr. It was a common bclicf in days gone by that 
during the days the halcyon or kingfisher was engaged in 
hatching her eggs, the sea relnained so calm that the sailor 
might venture upon it without incurring risk of storm or 
tempest; hence this period n'as called by Pliny and Aris- 
totle "the halcyon days," to which allusion is ruade in " 
ttenry VI." (i. 2) : 
"Expect Saint Martin's summer, halcyon days." 
Dryden also refers to this notion : 
"Amidst our arms as quiet you shall be, 
As halcyons brooding on a winter's sea." 
Another superstition connected with this bird occtlrs in 
"King Lear" (ii. 2), where the Earl of Kent says : 
'" turn their halcyon beaks 
With every gale and vary of their masters ;" 
the prevalent idea being that a dead kingfisher, suspended 
from a cord, would ahvays turn its beak in that direction 
fi'om whence the wind blew. Marlowe, in his "Jew of Mal- 
ta" (i. I), says : 
« But now how stands the wind ? 
Into what corner peers my halcyon's bill ?" 
Occasionally one may still see this bird hung up in cot- 
tages, a remnant, no doubt, of this old superstition? 
]Cite. This bird was considered by the ancients to be un- 
lucky. In " Julius Cresar" (v. I) Cassius says: 
" ravens, crows, and kites, 
Fly o'er out heads, and dowmvard look on us." 

"Description of England," vol. i. p. 62. 
"Glossary to Shakespeare," p. 88. 
Sir Thomas Browne's "Vulgar Errors," bk. iii. chap. o. 



I3 2 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
In " Cymbeline" (i. 2), too, Imogen says, 
"I chose an eagle, 
And did avoid a puttock.'" 
puttock, here, being a synonym sometimes app|ied to thc 
kite.' Formerly the kite bccamc a terre of reproach from 
its ignoble habits. Thus, in "Antony and Cleopatra" (iii. 
3), Antony exclaims, "you kite!" and King Lear (i. 4) 
says to Goneril," Dctested kite ! thou liest." Its intractable 
disposition is alluded to in "Taming of the Shrcw," by Pe- 
truchio (iv. ). A curious pcculiarity of this bird is noticed 
in "Wintcr's Tale " (iv. 3), where Autolycus says : " My traf- 
tic is sheets; when thc kite builds, look to lcsser linen 
meaning that his practice was to steal shccts" leaving the 
smallcr linen to be carried away by the kites, who will occa- 
sionally carry it off to line their nests.  Mr. Dyce  quotes 
the following rcmarks of Mr. Peck on this passage : "Autoly- 
cus hcre gives us to understand that he is a thief of the 
first class. This he explains by an allusion to an odd vul- 
gar notion. The common people, many of them, think that 
if any one can find a kite's nest when she hath young, bc- 
fore they are fledged, and sew up their back doors, so as 
they cannot rot:te, the mother-kite, in compassion to their 
distress, will steal lesser linen, as caps, cravats, ruffles, or any 
othcr such small mattcrs as she can best fly with, from off 
the hedgcs where they are hanged to dry after washing, and 
carry them to her nest, and there leave them, if possible to 
more the pity of the first corner, to cut the thread and easc 
thcm of thcir misery." 
Lap«ig. Several interesting allusions are made by Shake- 
speare to this eccentric bird. It was a common notion that 
the young lapwings tan out ofthe shell with part of it stick- 
ing on their heads, in such haste were they to be hatched. 
Horatio (" Hamlet," v. 2) says of Osric : "This lapwing runs 
away with the shell on his head." 

 Also to the buzzard, which see, p. 
= Singer's " Shakespeare," vol. iv. p. 67. 
a "Glossary," p. 243. 



BIRDS. I '" 
,3"3 
It was, therefore, regarded as the symbol of a forward fcl- 
low. \Vebster,  in the " \Vhite Dcvil" (I$57 , p. I3) , says: 
"' forward lapwing ! 
He flics with the shell on's head." 
The lapwing, like the partridge, is also said to draw pur- 
suers from her nest by fluttering along the ground in an op- 
posite direction or by crying in other places. Thus, in the 
" Colnedy of Errors" (iv. 2, Shakespeare says : 
" Far from ber nest the lapwing cries away." 
.\gain, in '" Measule fol- Mcasule " (i. 4), Lucio cxclailns : 
• ' though 'tis my familiar sin, 
With maids to seem the lapwing, and to jest. 
Tongue far from hcart." 
Once lnorc, in " Much Ado About Nothing" (iii. t), we read : 
" For look where Beatrice, like a lapwing, runs, 
Close by the ground, to hear our conference." 
Several, too, of out older poets refcr to this peculiarity. 
In Ben Jonson's '" Underwoods" ,Iviii.) we are told: 
• " Vhere he that knows will like a lapwing fly, 
Farre from the nest, and so himseff belie." 
Through thus alhu-ing intl-uders ri'oto its nest, the lapwing 
becalne a symbol of insincerity; and hence originated the 
proverb, " The lapwing cries tongue froln heart," or, " The 
lapwing cries most, farthcst from her nest. '' 
Lark. Shakespeare has bequeathed to us many exquisite 
passages referring to the laik, full of the most .ublilne pa- 
thos and lofty conceptions. Most readers al-e douitless ac- 
quainted with that superb song in " Cymbeline " (ii. 3), wherc 
this sweet songster is represented as singing "at heaven's 
gare;" and again, as the bird of dawn, it i; described in 
"Venus and Adonis," thus: 

' "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 495 ; see Yarrell's " History of British Birds," 
a edition, vol. il. p. 482 
 Ray's '" Provcrbs,'" 768, p. 99- 



I34 

FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

"Lo, here the gentle lark, weary of rest, 
From his moist cabinet mounts up on high, 
And wakes the morning, from whose silver breast 
The sun ariseth in his majesty." 1 
In " Love's Labour's Lost " (v. 2, song) we have a graphic 
touch of pastoral lire : 
"When shepherds pipe on oaten straws, 
And merry larks are ploughmen's clocks." 
The words of Portia, too, in " Merchant of Venice" (v. 1), to 
sing "as sweetly as the lark," have long ago passed into a 
proverb. 
It was formerly a current saying that the lark and toad 
changed eyes, to which J uliet refers in " Romeo and J uliet" 
(iii. 5 ) : 
"Some say, the lark and loathed toad change eyes ;" 
\Varburton says this popular fancy originated in the toad 
having vcry finc eyes, and thc lark very ugly ones. This 
tradition was formcrly cxpressed in a rustic rhyne : 
"to heav'n I'd fly. 
But that the toad beguil'd me of mine eye." 
In " Henry VIII." (iii. 2) the lZarl of Surrey, in denouncing 
\Volsey, alludes to a curious method of capturing larks, 
which was cffectcd by small mirrors and red cloth. These, 
scaring the birds, ruade them crouch, while the fowler drew 
his nets over them : 
"let his grace go forward. 
And date us with his cap, like larks." 
In this case thc cap was thc scarlct hat ofthe cardinal, which 
it was intendcd to use as a piece of red cloth. The saine 
idea occurs in Skelton's "\Vhy Corne Ye hot to Court ?" a 
satire on \Volsey : 
"The red hat with his lute 
Bringeth all things under cure." 

' Cf. "Midsummer- Night's Dream" (iv. ). "the morning lark ;" 
'" Romeo and Juliet" (iii. 5), "the lark, the herald of the morn." 



BIRDS. i3 5 
The words " tirra-lirra " (" Winter's Tale," iv. 3) are a fan- 
ciful combination of" sounds,' mcant to imitate the lark's 
note; borrowed, says Nares. from the French tire-lire. 
Browne, " British Pastorals" (.bk. i. song 4), makes it " teery- 
leery." In olle of thc Coventry pageants thcrc is the follow- 
ing old song sung by the shcphcrds at thc birth of" Christ, 
which contains thc expression: 
"As I out rode this endenês night, 
Of three joli sheppards I save a syght. 
And all aboute there fold a stare shone bright. 
They sang terli terlow. 
So mereli the sheppards their pipes can blow." 
in Scotland" and the north of Englatld thc peasantry say 
that if" one is dcsirous of knowing what the lark says, he 
must lie dowll on his back in the field and listen, and he 
will then hear it say: 
"Up in the lift go we, 
Tehee, tehee, tehee, tehêe ! 
There's hot a shoemaker on the earth 
Çan make a shoe to me, to me ! 
Why so, why so, why so ? 
Because my hêel is as long as my toe." 
3htg'pic. It was formerly known as magot-pie, probably 
from the French magot, a monkey, because the bird chatters 
and plays droll tricks like a Inonkey. It bas generally been 
regarded with supe'stitious awe as a mysterious bird,' and 
is thus alluded to in " Macbeth" (iii. 4) : 
"Augurs and understood relations, bave 
By magot-pies, and choughs, and rooks, brought forth 
The secret'st man of blood." 
And again, in " 3 Henry VI." (v. 6), it is said : 
"clmttering pies in dismal discords sung." 
There are numerous rhylnes  relating to the magpie, of 

, Nares's "Glossary," vol. il. p. 886 ; Douce's " Illustrations of Shake- 
speare," 839, p. 27. 
-" Chambers's "Popular Rhymes of Scotland," 187o, p. I92. 
* See '" Eglish Folk-Lore," p. 81. 
« Henderson's " Folk-Lore of Northern Counties," p. i 27. 



I36 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
which we subjoill, as a specimen, Olle prevalcnt iii the north 
of England : 
'" I-)ne is sorrow, two mirth, 
Three a wedding, four a birth, 
Five heaven, six hell, 
Seven the de'iFs aih sell." 
In Dcvonshire, in order to avert the ill-luck from seeing a 
lnagpie, the peasant spits over his right shoulder three times, 
and in Yorkshire various charms arc in use. One is to raise 
thc hat as a salutation, and thon to sign thc cross on the 
breast; and another consists in lnaking the saine sign by 
crossing the thumbs. It is a COllllllOll llotioll in Scotland 
that magpies flying ncar the windows of a house portend a 
speedydeath to one of its inmates. The supcrstitions asso- 
ciated with the magpie are llOt COllfined to this country, for 
in Sweden' it is considered the witch's bird, belonging to the 
evil one and the other powers of night. In Denmark, whcll 
a nqagpie perches on a house it is regarded as a sign that 
strangers arc coming, 
l[«z-tbz. The martin, or martlct, which is called in " Mac- 
bcth " (i. 6)the "guest of sulnmer," as being a lnigratory 
bird, has been from the earliest rimes treated with supersti- 
tious lespect--it being considered unlucky to molest or in 
any way injure its nest. Thus, in the " Merchant of Ven- 
ice " (ii. 9), the Prince of Arragon says : 
"the martlet 
Builds in the weather, on the outward wall, 
Eç'en in the force and road «[ casualty." 
Forster" says that thc circumstance of this bird's ncst be- 
ing built so close to the habitations of man indicatcs that it 
has long enjoycd freedom ff-oto molestation. There is a 
popular rhyme still current in the north of England : 
"The martin and the swallow 
Are God Almighty's bow and arrow." 
 Thorpe's "Northern Mythotog3-," vol. ii. p. 34 : Brand's " Pop. An- 
tiq.," t849, pp. 2t 5, 16; see atso Harland and Wilkinson's "Lanca:hire 
Folk-Lore," 867. pp. 43, 45. 
= " Atmospherical Researches," t 823, p. 262. 



BIRI)S. 137 
A'£/ib«h'. The popular crror that thc nightingale sings 
with its breast impaled upon a thorn is noticed by Shake- 
speare, who makes Lucrcce say : 
"And whiles against a thorn thou bear'st thy part 
To keep thy sharp woes waking." 
I11 the " Passionate l'ilgrim "" (.xxi.) there is an allusion : 
'" E'erything did banish moan, 
Save the nightingale alone. 
She, poor bird, as all forlorn, 
Lean'd ber breast up-till a thorn, 
And there sung the dolefull'st ditty, 
That to hear it was great pity." 
Beaumont and Fletchcr, iii " The Faithful Shephcrdess" 
(v. 3), speak of 
"The nightingale among the thick-leaved spring, 
That sits alone in sorrow, and doth sing 
Whole nights away in mourning." 
Sir Thomas ]3rowne' asks " \Vhcthcr the nightingale's sit- 
ting with ber breast against a thorn be any more than that 
she placcth sonne prickles on thc outside of ber ncst, or 
roostcth in thorny, prickly places, whcre serpents may least 
approach hcr? ''" III the "' Zoologist" for 86_  the Rev. A. 
C. Smith mentions " the discovcry, on two occasions, of a 
strong thorn projecting upwards in the centre of the nightin- 
gale's nest." _Another notion is that the nightingale never 
sings by day; and thus Portia, iii " Merchant of Vcnice" 
(v. , says : 
"I think, 
The nightingale, if she should sing by da.v, 
XVhen every goose is cackling, would be thought 
No better a musician than the wren." 
Such, however, is hot the case, for this bird orteil sings as 
sweetly iii the day as at night-time. There is ail old super- 
stition * that the nightingale sings all night, to keep itself 

Sir Thomas Browne's Works, 852. vo!. i. p. 378. 
See " Book of Days," vol. i. p. 5 t 5- 
Southey's "Commonplace Book." 5th series, 85, p. 3o5. 



I3 8 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
awake, lest the glowworm should devour her. The classical 
fable' of the unhappy l'hilomela turned into a nightingale, 
when her sister l'rogne was changed to a swallow, has doubt- 
less given rise to this bird bcing spoken of as s/w; thus 
Julict tells Romeo (iii. 5): 
"It was the nightingale, and not the lark. 
That pierc'd the fearful hollow of thine ear ; 
Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate tree ; 
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale." 
Sometimes the nightingale is terlned l'hilomcl, as in " Mid- 
summcr-Night's Dream" (il. 2, song) :" 
" Philomel, with melody. 
Sing in our sweet lullaby." 
Os/r W. This bird,  also called the sea-eagle, besides hav- 
ing a destructive power of devouring fish, was supposed 
formcrly to have a fascinating influence, both which qualities 
arc alluded to in thc following passage in " Coriolanus" 
(iv. 7) : 
" I think he'll be to Rome, 
As is the osprey to the fish, who takes it 
By sovereignty of nature. » 
Drayton, iii his "lPolyolbion" (song xxv.), mentions the 
saine fascinating power of the osprey: 
"The osprey, oit here seen, though seldom here it breêds, 
Which over them the fish no sooner do espy, 
But, betwixt him and thèm by an antipathy, 
Turning their bellies up, as though their death they saw, 
They at his pleasure lie. to stuff his gluttonous maw." 
Ostrfcf«. The extraordinary digestion of this bird « is said 

 Ovid's " Metamorphoses," bk. vi. ll. 455-676 ; "Titus Andronicus," 
iv. . 
" Cf. " Lucrece," ll. 1079,  127. 
a See Yarrell's " History of British Birds,"  856, vol. i. p. 3 ° ; Nares's 
"Glossary," vol. il. p. 62o: also Pennant's "British Zoology :" see 
Peele's Play of the " Battle of Alcazarn(il. 3), 861, p. 28. 
 Called e'stride in "  Henry IV." iv. I. 



BIRDS. 13 9 
to be shown By its swallowing iron and othcr hard sub- 
stances.' In "2 I[enry VI." (iv. to), tbe rebel Cade says to 
Alexander Iden : "Ah, villain, thou wilt betray me, and gct 
a thousand crowns ofthe king by carrying my head to him ; 
but l'Il make thee ëat iron like an ostrich, and swallow my 
sword like a great pin, ere thou and I part." Cuvier," speak- 
ing of this bird, says, " It is yet so voracious, and its senses 
of taste and smcll are so obtuse, that it devours animal and 
minerai substances indiscriminately, until its cnormous 
stomach is completcly full. It swallows without any choice, 
and merely as it were to serve for ballast, wood, stoncs, grass, 
iron, coppcr, gold, lime, or, in fitct, any othcr substance equally 
hard, indigcstible, and dclctcrious." Sir Thomas Browne,  
writing on this subjcct, says, " The grotlnd of this conceit in 
its swallowing down fragments of iron, which mcn observing, 
by a forward illation, have tberefore conceived it digesteth 
them, which is an infercnce hot to be admitted, as being a 
fallacy of the consequent." In Loudon's " Magazine of Nat- 
ural History" (,No. 6, p. 32) we are told of an ostrich having 
becn killed by swallowing glass. 
O«1. The dread attached to this unfortunate bird is fre- 
quently spoken of by Shakespeare, who has alluded to sev- 
eral of the superstitions associated with it. At the outset, 
many of the epithets ascribed to it show tbe prcjudice with 
which it was regarded--being in various places stigmatized 
as " the vile owl," in "Troilus and Cressida" (ii. ) ; and the 
"obscure bird," in " Macbeth" (il. 3), etc. From the earliest 
period it has been considered a bird of ill-omen, and Pliny 
tells us how, on one occasion, even Rome itself undcrwent a 
lustration, because one of them strayed into the Capitol. 
He represents it also as a funereal bird, a monster of the night, 
the very abomination of human kind. Vergil  describes its 
death-howl fl-om the top of the temple by night, a circum- 

' See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 849. vol. iii. p. 365 . 
"- " Animal Kingdom." I829, vol. viii. p. 427. 
a See Sir Thomas Browne's Works. 1852. vol. i. pp. 334-337. 
* ",:Eneid,'" bk. iv. 1. 462. 



I4 0 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
stance introduced as a precursor of Dido's death. Ovid,' 
too, constantly speaks of thi.a bird's prescnce as an evil omen : 
and indeed the saine notions respecting it may be found 
among thc vritings of most of the ancient poets. This su- 
perstitious awe in which the owl is hcld may be owing to 
its peculiar look, its occasional and uncertain appearance, its 
loud and dismal cry,  as well as to its being the bird of 
night.  It has generally been associated with calamities and 
dceds ofdarkness. * Thus, its weird shriek picrces the ear of 
Lady Macbeth (il. 2), whilc the murder is being committed : 
'" Hark !--Peace ! 
It was the owl that shriek'd, the fatal bellman, 
Which gives the stern'st good night." 
And when the murderer rushes in, exclaiming, 
" I have donc the deed. Didst thou hot hear a noise ?" 
she answers : 
• " I heard the owl scream." 
lts appearance at a birth has been said to foretell ill-luck to 
the infant, a superstition to which King Henry, in " 3 tIenry 
VI." (v. 6), addressing Gloster, refers : 
"The owl shriek'd at thy birth, an evil sign." 
Its cries  have been supposed to presage death, and, to 
quote the words of the S/,««ZaZor. "a screech-owl at mid- 
night has alarmed a familv more than a banal of robbers." 
Thus, in " A Midsummer-Night's Dream '" (v. ), we are told 
how 
"' the screech-owl, screeching loud, 
Puts the wretch that lies in woe 
In remembrance of a shroud ;" 
and in "  Henry VI." (iv. 2), it is called the " ominous and 

' "Metamorphoses," bk. v. 1.55o ; bk. vi. 1.43-" ; bk. x. 1. 453 ; bk. xv. 
1.79- 
= " e Henry VI.'" iii. _ ; iv. . a "Titus Andronicus," il. 3. 
* Cf. " Lucrece," 1. 65 ; see Yarrell's " History of British Birds," vol. 
i. p. I22. 
» Sec Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 849, vol. iii. p. -o 9. 



BIRDS. 4 I 
fearfld owl ofdeath." Again, in " Richard III." (iv. 4), where 
Richard is exasperated b¥ the bad news, he interrupts the 
third messenger by saying : 
"Out on ye, owls ! nothing but songs of death ?" 
The owl by day is considered by some cqually ominous, as 
in " 3 Henry VI." (v. 4) : 
"the owl by day, 
If he arise, is mock'd and wonder'd at." 
And in " Julius Caesar" (i. 3), Casca says : 
" And yesterday the bird of night did sit, 
Even at noon-day, upon the market-place, 
Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies 
Do so conjointly meet, let not men say, 
• These are their reasons,--they are natural ;' 
For, I believe, they are portentous things 
Unto the climate that they point upon." 
Considering, however, the abhorrence with which the owl is 
generally regarded, it is hot surprising that the " owlet's 
wing"' should form ail ingredient of the caldron in which 
the witches in " Macbeth" (iv. ) prepared their " charm of 
powerful trouble." The owl is, too, ill ail probability, rcpre- 
sented by Shakespeare as a witch, = a COlllpallion of the fairies 
in their moonlight gambols. Iii " Comedy" of Errors" (il. 
Dromio of Syracuse savs: 
"This is the fairy land : (. spire of spites ! 
XWe talk with goblins, owls. and elvish sprites. 
If we obey them hot, this will ensue, 
They'll suck our breath, or pinch us black and blue 
Singer, in his Notes on this passage (vol. ii. p. 28) says : " It 
has been asked, how should Shakespeare know that screech- 
owls were considered by thc Romans as witches ?" Do thesc 
cavillers think that Shakespeare never looked into a book ? 
1 The spelling of the folios is " howlets." In Holland's translation 
of Pliny (chap. xvii. book x.), we read "of owlls or howlets." Cotgrave 
gives " Hulotte." 
= Halliwell-Phillipps's, " Handbook Index," 866. p. 354- 



142 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Take an extract from the Cambridge Latin Dictionary (1594, 
8vo), probably the very book he used: " Strix, a scritc/tc 
oz[c; an unluckic kind of bird (as they of olde time said) 
which suckcd out the blood of infitnts lying in their cradles; 
a witch, that changeth the favour of childrcn ; an hagge or 
fairie." So in the " London l'rodigal," a comedy, 16o5: 
" qoul, I think I ara sure crossed or witch'd with an owl."' 
In "The Tempest" (v. I) Shakespeare introduces Ariel as 
saying : 
"Where the bee sucks, therc suck 1, 
In a cowslip's bell I lie, 
Thcre I couch when owls do cry." 
Aricl,  who sucks honey for luxury in the cowslip's bell, re- 
trcats thithcr for quiet whcn owls are abroad and screeching. 
According to an old legend, thc owl was originally zt bztker's 
daughtcr, to which allusion is ruade in " Hamlct" (iv. 5), 
where Ophclia cxclaims: " They say the owl was a baker's 
daughtcr. Lord ! we know what wc are, but know hot wbat 
we may bc." Douce  says the following story was current 
among the Gloucestcrshire peasantry: "Out Saviour went 
into a baker's shop whcre they were baking, and asked for 
some bread to eat; the mistress of the shop immediately 
put a piece of dough into the oven to bake for him; but 
was reprimanded by hcr daughter, who, insisting that the 
piece of dough was too large, reduced it to a very small size ; 
the dough, however, immcdiately began to swell, and pres- 
cntly became a most enormous size, whereupon the baker's 
daughtcr cried out,' Heugh, hcugh, heugh !' which owl-like 
noise probably induced out Saviour to transform ber into 
that bird for her wickedness." Another version of the saine 
story, as formerly known in Herefordshire, substitutes a fairy 
in the place of out Saviour. Similar legends are round on 
thc Continent.' 

 See Dyce's "Glossary," p. 302. 
 See Singer's "Notes to The Tempest," 875, vol. i. p. 82. 
 See Gen/leman's l[«tffaDtc, November, 8o4, pp. o83, 
Grimm's " Deutsche Mythologie." 
* See Dasent's "Tales of the Norse," 859, p. z3o. 

Io8 4 . 



RDS. 43 
tarrot. The " popinjay," in " Henry IV." (i. 3), is an- 
other name for the parrot--fl'om thc Spanish taaga3,o--a 
term which occurs in Brownc's " Pasorals" {ii. 65): 
" Or iike the mixture nature dothe display 
Upon the quaint wings of the popinjay." 
Its supposed rcstlcssncss belote rain is rcfcrrcd to ill " As 
You Like It" (,iv. ) : " More clamorous than a parrot agains 
rain." It was formcrly customary o each the parrot un- 
lucky words, with which, xvhen any one was offended, it was 
the standing joke of he wise owner to sa}-, " Take heed, sir, 
my parrot prophesies "--an allusion o which cusom we find 
in "Comedy of Errors" (,iv. 4, whcrc Dromio of Ephesus 
says : " prophcsy like the parrot, 12cz««rc t/le roe's crut." To 
this Butlcr hints, whcre, speaking of Ralpho's skill in augury, 
he says :' 
"Could tell what subtlest parrots mean, 
That speak and think contrary clean; 
Vhat member 'ris of whom they talk, 
When they cry rotSc, and walk. Icnave, wal/e." 
The rewards giron to parrots to encourage them to spcak 
are mentioned in " Troilus and Cressida" (v. 2): "the par- 
rot will not do more for ail almond." Hence, a proverb for 
the greatest temptation that could bc put before a man 
seems to have been " An almond for a parrot." To " talk 
like a parrot " is a common proverb, a sense in which it oc- 
curs in " Othello" (il. 3)- 
P«acock. This bird was as proverbially used for a proud, 
vain fool as the lapwing for a silly one. In this sense some 
would understand it in the much-disputed passage in" I Iam- 
let" (iii. 2: 
" For thou dost know, O Damon dear, 
This realm dismantled was 
Of Jove himseif : and now reigns here 
A very, very--peacock." a 
 " Hudibras," pt. i. ch. i. 
 In " Much Ado About Nothing" (i. ), Benedick likens Beatrice to 
a "parrot-teacher," from her talkative powers. 
a This is the reading adopted by Singer. 



144 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
The third and fourth folios rcad pajoc/«,' the other editions 
have "paiock," " paiockc," or " pajocke," and in the later 
quartos the word was changed to " paicock" and "pccock," 
whence l'ope printed peacock. 
Dyce says that in Scotland thc peacock is callcd the pea- 
jocl« Some hax'e proposed to read ipad«tocX', and in the last 
scene tlamlct bcstows this opprobrious naine upo thc king. 
It has been also suggested to read tto«/,', a kite. = The pea- 
cock has also bcen regarded as thc cmblcm of pride and ar- 
rogance, as in " IIcnry VI." (iii. 
" Let frantic Talbot triumph for a while. 
And. like a peacock, sweep along his tail 
We'll pull his plumes, and take away his train." 
t'«licaz. Thcre arc sevcral allusions by Shakespeare to 
thc pelican's piercing her own breast to fced her young. 
Thus, in " Hamlct " (iv. 51, Laertes says-: 
"To his good friends thus wide Fil ope my arms : 
And like the kind life-rendering pelican, 
Repast them with my blood." 
And in " King Lear," where the young pelicans are repre- 
sented as piercing their mother's brcast to drink her blood, 
an illustration of filial impiety (iii. 4), the king says : 
" ls it the fashion, that discarded fathers 
Should have thus little mercy on their flesh ? 
Judicious punishment ! 'Twas this flesh begot 
Those pelican daughters. ''« 
It is a common notion that the fable here alluded to is a 
classical one, but this is an crror. Shakespeare, says 
Harting, " was content to accept the story as he found it, and 
to apply it metaphorically as the occasion required." ]I1-. 
Houghton, in an interesting letter to " Land and V'ater '' 
, '" Notes to Hamlet," Clark and Wright, 1876, pp. 79. 8o. 
- See Nares's "Glossaw," vol. il. p. 645 ; Singer's " Notes," vol. ix. 
p. 228. a Cf. '" Troilus and Cressida," iii. 3- 
« Cf. " Richard II." i. 
 Mr. Hartlng, in his "Ornithology of Shakespeare," quotes an inter- 
csting correspondence from " Land and Water" (869), on the subject. 



BIRDS. i4  
on this subect, rcmarks that the Eyptians bclieved in a 
bird feedin its youn with its blood, and this bhd is none 
other than the vulture. IIe oes on to say that the fable of 
the pdican doubtless originated in thc l'atristic annotations 
on the Gcriptures. The ccclesiastical I:athcrs trançcrred thc 
Egyptian story from the vulture to the pelican, but lnagni- 
fied the story a hundrcdfold, for the blood of the parent was 
not only supposcd to serve as food for thc yopng, but was 
also able to rcanimate the dcad offspring. Augustinc, com- 
IllClltillg O11 l'sahn cii. 6" I ara like a pelican of the wildcr- 
ness"remarks: " These birds [maie pelicans] are said to 
ldll their opring by blows of their beaks, and then to be- 
wail their death for the space of three days. Xt lcngth, 
however, it is said that the mother inflicts a sevcre WOulld Oll 
herself, pouring the floxving blood over the dead young ones, 
which instantly brings them to lire." To the saine effect 
write Eustathius, Isidorus, Epiphanius, and a host of other 
writers.' 
According to another idea = pelicans are hatched dead, but 
the cock pclican thcn wounds his breast, and lets one drop 
of blood fMI upon cach, and this quickens them. 
P/wasa,zt. This bird is only once alluded to, in " XVinter's 
Tale " (iv. 4), where the Clowll jokingly says to the Shep- 
herd,"Advocate's the court-word for a phcasant; say, you 
have 11011C." 
Pha'*ti.v. Many allusions are ruade to this fabulous bird, 
which is said to fise again from its own ashes. Thus, in 
" Henry VIII." (v. 4), Cranmer tells how 
'" when 
The bird of wonder dies. the maiden phoenix. 
Her ashes new create another heir. 
As great in admiration as herself." 
Again, in " 3 Henry VI." (i. 4). the Duke of York exclaims : 
"My ashes, as the phoenix, may bring forth 
A bird that will revenge upon you ail." 

' See Sir Thomas Browne's Works, t852, vol. ii. pp. t-4. 
 See Brand's "Pop. Antiq," I849, 'ol. iii. pp. 366, 367. 
io 



146 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Once more, in ",, Henry VI." (iv. 7), Sir \Villiam Lucy, 
speaking of Talbot and those slain with him, predicts that 
"from their ashes shall be rear'd 
A phcenix that shall make all France afeard."' 

Sir Thomas Browne " tclls us that there is but one phcenix 
in the world,"which after many hundred years burns hcr- 
self, and from the ashcs thereofariseth up another." I;rom 
the very earliest times thcre have been countless traditions 
respecting this wonderful bird. Thus, its longevity has been 
estimatcd froln three hundred to fifteen hundred years; and 
among thc various localities assigned as its home are Ethi- 
opia, Arabia, Egypt, and India. In "The l'hcenix and Turtle," 
it is said, 
" Let the bird of loudest lay 
 In the sole Arabian tree, 
Herald sad and trumpet be." 

Plîny says of this bird, " I lowbeit, I cannot tell what to 
makc of him ; and first ofall, whether it be a tale or no, that 
thcre is never but Olle of them in the whole world, and the 
saine hot commonly seen." Malone  quotes from Lyly's 
" Euphues and his England " (p. 32, ed. Alber) : " For as 
there is but one phcenix in the world, so is there but one 
tree in Arabia whcrein she buyldcth ;" and Florio's " New 
\Vorlde of \Vordes" ( 5;98)," Rasin, a tree in ,\rabia, whereof 
there is but one found, and upon it thc phcenix sits." 
Pigco«. As carriers, these birds have been used from a 
very early date, and the Castle of the Birds, at Bagdad, takes 
its naine ff-oto the pigeon-post which the old mollks of the 
convent established. The building has crumblcd into ruins 
long ago by the lapse of time, but the bird messengers of 
Bagdad became cclebrated as far wcstward as Greece, and 
wcre a regular commercial institution betxveen the distant 

Cf. "The Tempest," iii. 3 : "All's Well that Ends Well," i.  ; "An- 
tony and Cleopatra," iii. 2 ; "Cymbeline,'" i. 6. 
Works. 852. vol. i. pp. 77-284. 
See Aldis Wright's "Notes to The Tempest," 875, p. 29. 



IIIRDS. i4 7 
parts ofAsia Minor, Arabia, and the East.' In ancient Egypt, 
also, the carrier brecd was brought to great perfection, and, 
betwcen the cities ofthc Nilc and thc Rcd Sea, thc old trad- 
ers used to send word of their caravans to each other bylet- 
tors written on silk, and ticd undcr thc wings of trained 
dores. In " Titus Andronicus" (iv. »,-) Titus, on seeing a 
clown enter with two pigeons, says: 
"News, news from heaven ! Marcus, thc post is corne. 
Sirrah. what tidings ? have you any letters ?" 
From the saine play we also lcarn that it was customary 
to give a pair of pigeons as a prcscnt. The Cown says to 
Saturninus (iv. 4", '" I havc brought )-ou a lcttcr and a cot, p!e 
of pigcons hcre."  
In " Romco and Julict " (i. 3) the dove is used synony- 
mously for pigeon, where the nurse is represented as 
"Sitting in the sun under the dove-housc wall." 
Mr. Darwin, in lais " Variation of Animais and t'lants under 
Domestication" (vol. i. pp. 204, 2o5), has shown that fro1-n 
the ver), earliest times pigeons have been kept in a domesti- 
cated state. He says: " The earliest record of pigeons in a 
domesticated condition occurs in thc fifth Egyptian dynast)-, 
about 3ooo 13.c. ; but Mr. 13irch, of the British lXluseum, in- 
forms me that the pigeon appears in a bill of fare in the pre- 
vious dynasty. Domestic pigeons arc mentioned in Gen- 
esis, Leviticus, and Isaiah. l'liny informs us that the Ro- 
mans gave immense prices for pigeons ; ' nay, thcy are corne 
to this pass that they can reckon up their pedigree and race.' 
In India, about the year 6oo, pigeons were much valued by 
Akbar Khan; 2o,ooo birds were carried about with the 
court." In most countries, too, the breeding and taming 
of pigeons has been a favorite recreation. The constancy 
of the pigeon has been proverbial from time immemorial, 

 .Dail.v Teh'raçb, January 3I, I8O; see Southey's "Commonplace 
Book," I849. 2d series, p. 447, 
u Sec Z)az,e', pp. I14, 115. 



14 8 FOLK-LORE OF StlAKESPEARE. 
allusions to which occur in " Winter's Talc" (iv. 3), and in 
"As You Like It " (iii. 3). 
Otail. The quail was thought to be an amorous bird, 
and hcncc was metaphorically used to denote people of a 
loose character.' In this sense it is gcncrally understood in 
"Troilus and Cressida" (v. I): " Hcrc's Agamcmnon. an 
honest fellow cnough, and one that loves quails." Mr. Hart- 
ing, = howevcr, thinks that thc passage just quoted rcfcrs to 
the practice formcrly prevalent of keeping quails, and mak- 
ing them fight like game-cocks. The context of the passage 
would seem to sanction the former meaning. Quail fight- 
ing  is spoken of in "Antony and Cleopatra " (il. 3), where 
Antony, spcaking of thc st, periority of Cmsar's fortunes to 
his own, says : 
'" if we draw lots, he speeds ; 
His cocks do win the battle still of mine, 
When it is all to nought ; and his quails evcr 
Beat mine, inhoop'd, at odds." 
It appears that cocks as well as quails were somctimes 
ruade to fight'within a broad hoop--hence the terre 
--to keep them from quitting each other. Quail-fights were 
well known among the ancients, and especially at Athens. * 
Julius Pollux relate.s that a circlc was ruade, in which the 
birds were placed, and he whose quail was driven out of this 
circle lost the stake, which was sometimes money, and occa- 
sionally the quails themselves. Another practice was to 
produce one of these birds, which being tir.st smitten with 
the middle finger, a feather was then pluckcd from its hcad. 
If the quail bore this operation without flinching, his toaster 
gained the stake, but lost it if he tan away. Some doubt 
exists as to whether quail-fighting prevailed in the rime of 

 Nares's" Glossary." vol. i[. p. 7o4; Halliwell-Phillipps's " Handbook 
Index to Shakespeare," I866, p. 398; Dyce's "Glossary," p. 345 ; Sing- 
er's " Shakespeare, » vol. vii. p. 264. 
*- " Ornithology of Shakespeare," p. 218. 
-' Strutt's" Sports and Pastimes," 876, pp. I9, 97, 677 ; Brand's "Pop. 
Antiq.," I849, vol. ii. pp. 59, 6o. 
 Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespcare," 839, p. 367. 



13IRDS. 149 
Shakespeare. ,A.t the present day  the Sumatrans practise 
these quail combats, and this pa:Mme is common in some 
parts of Italy, and also in China. lXlr. Douce has given a 
curious print, flore an elegant Chinese miniature painting, 
which represents some ladies engaed at this amusement, 
where the quails are actually inhooped. 
A'av«t. l'erhaps no bird is so universally unpopular as 
the raven, its hoarse croak, in most countries, being regard- 
ed as ominous. IIence, as might be expected, Shakespeare 
often refcrs to it, in ordcr to make the scene he depicts all 
the more vivid and graphic. In " Titus Andronicus'" (il. 3), 
Tamora, describing "a barren detested valc," says: 
'" The trees, though summer, )'et forlorn and lean, 
('ercome with moss and baleful mistletoe : 
ttere never shines the sun ; here nothing breeds, 
Unless the nightly owl or fatal raven." 
Aud in " Julius Cesar" (v. I), Cassius tells us how ravens 
"Fly o'er out heads, and do-mvard look on us, 
As we were sickly prey."  
It seems that the superstitious dread  attaching to this 
bird has chiefly arisen flore its supposed lonevity,' and its 
fiequent mention and agency in Holy Writ. By the Ro- 
mans it vas consecrated to Apollo, and was believed to 
have a prophctic knowledge--a notion still very prevalent. 
Thus, its supposed faculty  of " smelling dcath " still renders 
its presence, or even its voice, ominous. Othello .iv. I) ex- 
claims, 
"O, it cornes o'er my memory, 
As doth the raven o'er the infected house, 
Boding to ail.'" 
There is no doubt a reference here to the fanciful notion 
that it was a constant attendant Oll a house infected with 

Marsden's " History of Sumatra," 18 I. p. 276. 
Cf. " 2 Henry VI." iii. 2 ; "Troilus and Cressida," v. 2. 
See Brand's "Pop. Antiq.," I849, vol. iii. pp. 2ii. 212. 
" English Folk-lore," 878, p. 78. 
Ste Hunt's "Popular Romances of West of England," 88, p. 380. 



150 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
the plague. Most readers, too, are familiar with that famous 
passage in " Macbeth" (i. 5) whcre Lady Macbeth, having 
hcard of the king's intention to stay at the castle, exclaims, 
"the raven himself is hoarse 
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan 
Under my battlemcnts. Corne, you spirits 
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me hcre, 
And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full 
Of direst cruelty 
VVe may compare Spcnser's Ianguage in thc" Fairy Queen" 
(bl« il. c. vil. 1.23) : 
"After him owles and night ravens flew, 
The hateful messengers of beavy things, 
I )f death and dolor telling sad tidings." 
And once more the following passage ffoto Drayton's " Bar- 
ous' Wars" (bk. v. stanza 42) illustratcs thc saine idca : 
'" The ominous raven offen he doth hear, 
Whose croaking bim of following horror tells." 
In " Much Ado About Nothing" (il. 3/, the " night-raven " 
is mentioned. 13cnedick observes to himself: "' I had as 
lier have heard the night-raven, corne xvhat plague could 
have corne after it." This inauspicious bird, according to 
Steevens, is the owl ; but this conjecture is evidently wrong, 
" beiug at variance with sundry passages in out early writ- 
ers, who make a distinction between it and the night-raven."' 
Thus Johnson, in his " Seven Champions ofChristendom " 
part i.), speaks of" the dismal cry of night-ravens .... and 
thc fearefull sound of schriek owle.s." Cotgrave regardcd the 
"night-crow" and the " night-raven" as synonymous; and 
Mr. Yarrell considered them only dif-t'erent names for thc 
night-heron. " In " 3 Henry VI." (v. 6) King Henry says: 
"The night-crow cried, aboding luckless time." 

 Dyce's "Glossary," 1876, p. 288. 
= See Harting's "Ornithology of Shakespeare," pp. o, o2; Yar- 
rell's "Histo W of British Birds," vol. il. p. 



BIRDS. 1 5 I 
Goldsmith, in his "Animated Nature," calls the bittcrn the 
night-raveu, and says: " I rcmcmbcr, in thc place whcre I 
was a boy, with what tcrror the bird's note affcctcd the 
whole villagc ; thcy considcr it as the presage of some sad 
evcnt, and geucrally round or lnade one to succeed it. If 
any person in thc ncighborhood died, they supposed it could 
hot be otherwise, for the night-raven had foretold it ; but if 
nobody happcncd to dic, thc dcath of a cow or a shcep gave 
completion to the prophccy." 
_According to an old bclicfthe ravcn dcserts its own young, 
to which Shakcspcarc alludcs in " Titus Andronicus " (il. 3) : 
"Some say that ravens foster forlorn children. 
The whilst thcir own birds famish in thcir nests." 
" It was supposed that whcn the raven," says ]Ii. IIarting,' 
"saw its young ones ncwly hatched and covered with down, 
it conceived such al aversion that it forsook thcm, and did 
hot return to the ncst until a darker plumage had shown it- 
self." To this bclief thc commcltators considcr thc Psahn- 
ist rcfers, whcll ho says, " Ite giveth to the beast his food, 
and to the young ravens which cry " I Psahn cxlvii. 9)- \Ve 
arc told, too, iii Job, " \\'ho providcth for thc ravcn his food? 
when his young ones cry unto God, thcy wander for lack of 
meat (xxxviii. 4). Shakespeare, in " As Çou Like It " (il. 3), 
probably had the words of the Psahnist in his mind : 
" He that doth the ravens feed. 
Yea, providently caters for the sparrow." 
The raven has from earliest timcs been symbolical of black- 
ness, both in connection with color and character. In " Ro- 
meo and Juliet " (,iii. 2), Juliet exclailns : 
"O serpent heart, hid with a flowering face ! 
Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave ? 
Beautiful tyrant ! fiend angelical ! 
Dove-feather'd raven !"  
Once more, ravens' feathers were formerly used by witches, 

" Ornitholoo-y of Shakespeare," p. 1o7. 
Cf. " Midsummer-Night's Dream,'" il. 2 ; "Twelfth Night," v. I. 



I5 2 FOLK-LORE OF StIAKESPEARE. 
fom aa old supcrstition that the wigs of this bird ca'ried 
'ith thcm contagion whcrcve thcy went. tIcnce, in "The 
"Fempest "' (i. 2), Caliban says : 
"As wicked dew as c'er my mother brush'd 
Witb rave's feather from unwholesome fen 
Drop on you botb !" 
ol)ilt ]c«][r«ast. According to a pretty notion,' this lit- 
rie bi'd is said to covcr -ith lcaves any dead body it may 
chance to find tmburicd ; a bclicf which probably, in a great 
measure, origiated in thc wcll-l«own ballad of the " Chil- 
drcn in tbc \Vood," although it scems to have been knOWla 
previously. Thus Singc- quotes as follows ff-oto " Cornuco- 
pia, or Divers Sccrct.%" ctc. (by Thomas Johnson, I596): 
" l'lac robin rcdbrcast, if he finds a man or woman dead, will 
cover all his face with moss; and some think that if tbc 
body should remain tmburicd that he would cover the whole 
body also." I Dekker's " Villabes l)iscovercd by Lantlaorla 
ad Cadlclight " (t6t6), quoted by Douce, it is said, "They 
that chcere u I) a prisoncr but with their sight, are robin rcd- 
beasts that brig strawes ia thcir bills to cover a dead man 
in ext-emitie." Shakespearc, in a beautiful passage ila "Cym- 
beline " (iv. 2), thus touchingly alludcs to it, making Arvira- 
gus, when addrcssilg thc Sul)posed dead body of Imogcl, 
say : "Vith fairest flowers, 
'Vhilst summer lasts, and I lire here. Fidele, 
l'Il sweeten thy sad rave : thou shalt not lack 
The flower that's like thv face, pale primrose, nor 
The azured harebell, like thy veins ; no, nor 
The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander 
()ut-sweeten'd not thy breath : tbe ruddock wuld, 
With charitable bill,--O bill, sore-shaming 
Those rich-left heirs, that let tleir fathers lie 
Without a monument !--bring thee all this ; 
Yea, and furr'd moss besides, when flowers are none 
To winter-ground thy corse"-- 

a " English Folk-Lore." pp. 62-64 : Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 849, vol. 
iii. p. 9 ; Singer's "Shakespeare," vol. x. p. 424; Douce's " Illustra- 
tios of Shakespeare," 839. p. 380. 



BIRDS. I 5 3 
the" ruddock "' being one ofthe old names for the redbreast, 
which is nowadays found in some localities. John \Vebster, 
also, refers to the saine idea in " The \Vhite DeviI" (I857, 
ed. Dyce, p. 45): 
"Call for the robin redbreast and the wren 
Since o'er shady groves they hover, 
And with leaves and flowers do cover 
The friendless bodies of unburied men. » 

Y)rayton, too, ili " Thc Owl," has thc following lines: 
" Cor'ring with moss the dead's unclosed eye, 
chantle. 
The little redbreast teaching " " " 
/¢ood'. \s an ominous bird this is lnentioned ili " Mac- 
beth" (iii. 4. 1;ormerly the nobles of England prided them- 
selves in having a rookery " in the neighborhood of theh cas- 
tles, because rooks were rearded as " fowls of ood omen." 
Onthis account no one was permitted to kill them, under 
severe penalties. \\rhen rooks desert a rookery  it is said 
to foretell the downfall of the familv on whose property it 
is. A Northumbrian saying informs us that the rooks left 
the l'ookery of Chipchase before the family of Reed left that 
place. There is also a notion that when rooks haunt a town 
or village "mortality is supposed to await its inhabitants, 
and if they feed in the street it shows that a storm is at 
hand. '' 
The expression " buIly-rook," in " Merry \Vives of \Vind- 
sor" (i. 3), in Shakespearc's time, says Mr. Harting,  had the 
saine meaning as "jolly dog" nowadays; but subsequently 
it became a terre of reproach, meaning a cheating sharper. 
It has been suggested that the terre derives its origin from 

Cf. Spenser's " Epithalamium," v. 8 : 
"The thrush replies, the mavis descant plays, 
The ouzell shrills, the ruddock warbles sort." 
Sla¢d«rd, January -6. 1877. 
'" English Folk-Lore," p. 76. 
Henderson's " Folk-Lore of Northern Counties," I879. p. 
"Ornitholog'y of Shakespeare," p. _I. 



i5 4 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
the rool« in the gaine of chess ; but Douce' considers it very 
improbable that this noble gaine, "ncvcr thc amusement 
of gamblcrs, should have becn ransackcd on this occa- 
sion." 
Sui/«. This bird was in Shakespearc's timc proverbial for 
a foolish man." In " Othcllo" (i. à), Iago, speaking of Rod- 
erigo, says : 
"' For I mine own gain'd knowledge should profane, 
If I would time expend with such a snipe, 
But for my sport and profit." 
S_parroz«. A popular namc for the common sparrow was, 
and still is, l'hilip, perhaps from its note, " l'hip, phip." 
l[cnce the allusion to a pcrson named l'hilip, in " King 
lohn " (i. ): 
G«rm3,. Good leave, good Philip. 
l¢asl, trd. Philip ?--sparrow ! 
Staunton says perhaps Catullus alludes to this expression in 
the following lines: 
"Sed circumsiliens, modo huc. modo illuc, 
Ad solam dominam usque pipilabat." 
Skelton, in an elegy upon a sparrow, calls it " Phyllyp 
Sparowe ;" and Gascoigne also writcs " The praise of Philip 
Sparrow." 
In " Measure for Measure" (iii. e), Lucio, speaking of An- 
gelo, the deputy-duke of Vienna, says : " Sparrows must not 
build in his house-eaves, because they are lecherous. '' 
Sl,«rrow-/z«wt«. A naine formerly given to a young spar- 
row-hawk was eyas-musket? a terre we find in " Merry Wives 
 "Illustrations of Shakespeare," 839, p. 36 ; the term "bully-rook" 
occurs several rimes in Shadwell's "Sullen Loyers ;" see Dyce's '" Glos- 
sary," p. 58. 
= In Northamptonshire the word denotes an iclcle, from its resem- 
blance to the long bill of the bird so-called.--Baker's " Northmnpton- 
sbire Glossary," 854, vol. ii. p. -6o. 
 See Nares's " Glossary, » vol. ii. p. 653 ; Dyce's "Glossary," p. 3o. 
 Derived ¢rom the French mo«sclet, oI the saine meaning. 



BIRDS. 1 5 5 
of \Vindsor" (iii..3): " How now, my eyas-muskct! what 
news with you?" It was thus mctaphorically uscd as a 
jocular phrase for a small child. As the invcntion, too, of 
fire-arms took place' at a time whcn hawking was in high 
fashion, some of the new weapons wcre named aftcr those 
birds, probably ffoto the idea of their fetching thcir prcy 
ffoto on high. 3l«s'ct has thus become the establishcd naine 
for-one sort of gun. Some, however, asscrt that the musket 
was invented in the fiftcenth century, and owcs its naine to 
its invcntors. 
Star[i«. This was ont of thc birds that was in days 
gone by traincd to spcal« In '" I llenry IV." (i. 31, llotspur 
says : 
"l'Il bave a starling shall be taught to speak 
Nothing but ' Mortimer,' and give it him, 
To keep his angcr still in motion." 
Pliny tells us how starlings were taught to uttcr both 
Latin and Greek words for the anluscnlcnt of the young 
Cmsars; and there are ntlmcrotls instances on record of the 
clever sentences uttered by this amusing bird. 
Sw«l[ow. This bird has generally been honored as the 
harbinger of spring, and Athenmus relates that the Rhodians 
had a solcmn song to welcome it. Anacreon has a wcll- 
known ode. Shakespeare, in the "\Vinter's Tale" (iv. 3), 
alludes to the time of the swallow's appcarance in the fol- 
lowing passage : 
"daffodils. 
That tome belote the swallow dares, and take 
The winds of blarch with beauty." 
And its departure is mentioned in "Timon of Athens" (iii. 6) : 
"The swallow follows hOt summcr more willing than we 
your lordship." 
XVe may compare Tennyson's notice of the bird s approach 
and migration in "The May Queen :" 

 Nares's "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 593 ; Douce's" Illustrations of Shake- 
speare,"  839 , p. 46. Turbervile tells us "the first name and terme that 
they bestowe on a falcon is an eyesse, and this name doth laste as long 
as she is an eyrie and for that she is taken fro_n the eyrie." 



i56 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
'" And the swallow "11 corne back again with summer o'er the wave." 
It has bcen long considercd lucky for the swallov to build 
its nest on thc roof of a housc, but just as unlucky for it to 
forsake a placc which it has once tenantcd. Shakespeare 
probably had this supcrstition in lais mind when he repre- 
scnts Scarus as saying, in "Antony and Cleopatra" (iv. 2): 
"Swallows have built 
In Cleopatra's sails their nests : the augurers 
Sav, they know not.--they cannot tell ;--look grimly. 
And date hot speak their knowledge." 
5".wam According to a romantic notion, dating from an- 
tiquity, the swan is said to sing swcet|y just before its death, 
many prctty al|usions to which we find scattered hcre and 
therc throughout Shakcspeare's plays. In " Merchant of 
Vcnicc" (iii. 2), l'ortia says: 
"he makes a swan-like end, 
Fading in music." 
Emilia, too, in " Othello" (v. 2), just before she dies, ex- 
claires : 
" I will play the swan, 
And die in music." 
In " King John " (v. 7), Prince Henry, at his father's dëath- 
bed, thus pathetical]y speaks : 
"'Tis strange that death should sing. 
I ara the cygnet to this pale faint swan. 
Vho chants a doleful hymn to his own death, 
And from the organ-pipe of frailty sings 
His soul and body to their lasting rest." 
Again, il " Lucrcce" (6 ), we have these touching lines: 
"And now this pale swan in ber watery nest, 
Begins the sad dirge of her certain endmg. 
And once more, in "The Phcenix and Turtle :" 
"Let the priest in surplice white, 
That defunctive music tan, 
Be the death-divining swan. 
Lest the requiem lack his right." 



BIRDS.  5 7 
This supcrstition, says Douce,' " was credited by Plato, 
Chrysippus, Aristotle, lïuripides, Philostratus, Cicero, eneca, 
and Martial. Pliny, lian, and Athcnœeus, among thc an- 
cients, and Sir Thomas Morc, among thc modcrns, treat this 
opinion as a vu]gar crror. Luthcr belicvcd in it." This 
notion probably originated in the swan bcing idcntificd with 
Orpheus. çir Thomas Browne  says, we read that," affcr his 
death, Orpheus, the mnsician, becamc a swan. Thus was it 
the bird of Apollo, the bird of music by the Grecks." 
luding to this piece of folk-lore, Carl Engel 
though our conno swan does lOt pl'odtcc sounds which 
might account for this tradition, itis a wcll-known fact that 
thc wild swan (Ç3zusfi'ris). also callcd the' whistling swan,' 
when on thc wing emits a shrill tonc, which, however harsh 
it may soun3 if heard near, produces a pleasant effcct when, 
elnanating froln a large flock high in the air, it is heard in a 
variety of pitches of SOulld, increasing or dilninishing in 
loudness according to the lnOVClnCnt of the birds and to the 
current of the air." Colonel Hawker * says, "The only note 
which I ever heard thc wild swan lnake, iii winter, is his well- 
known ' whoop.' "' 
Tassd-GcztL'.  The male of the goshawk was so called 
on account of its tractable disposition, and the facility with 
which it was tamed. The word occurs in" Romeo and Juliet" 
(il. 2): 
"o, for a falconer's voice 
To lute this tassel-gentle back again " 

Spenser, in his " Fairy Queen " (bk. iii. c. iv. l. 49), says : 
"Having far off espied a tassel-gent 
Which after her his nimble wings doth straine. ' 

' " Illustrations of Shakespeare," 839, p. i6I. 
- Works. I85Œ. vol. i. p. 357- 
 " Musical Myths and Facts," I876, vol. i. p. 89. 
* " Instructions to Young Sportsmen."  Ith ed.. p. 269. 
» Sec Baring-Gould's "Curious Myths of the Middle Ages," I877, 
p. 56 ; Thorpe's "Northern Mythology," I852. vol. iii. pp. 3o2-3;8. 
6 Properly '" tiercel gentle," French, ticr«d«t; cf. "" Troilus and Cres- 
sida," iii. 2, "the falcon as the tercel." 



15 8 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
This species of hawk was also commonly callcd a " falcon- 
gentle," on account of" hcr familiar, courteous disposition."' 
Turt«cy. This bird, so popular with us at Christmas-tide, 
is mcntioned in " I Hcnry IV." (il. I), whcre the First Car- 
ricr says : " God's body ! the turkeys in my pannicr are quite 
starved." This, however, is an anachronism on the part of 
Shakespearc, as thc tuvkcy was unknown in this country 
until the rcign of l[cnry VIII. According to a rhyme writ- 
tcn in 525, comnaemorating the introduction of this bird, 
we arc told how : 
"Turkics, carps, hoppes, piccarell, and beere, 
Came into England all m ont yea e. 
The turkey is again mcntioned by Shakespeare in " Twelfth 
Night" (ii. 5), whcre l;abian says of Malvolio : " Contempla- 
tion makes a rare turkey-cock of him : how he jets under his 
advauced plumes !" 
ldtm«. In sevcral passages Shakespeare has most forci- 
bly introduced this bird to deepcn the beauty ofsomc ofhis 
exquisite passages. Thus, in " King Lear'" iii. 4), when he is 
complaining of the unkindness of a daughter, he bitterly 
exclailns : 
"O Regan, she bath tied 
Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, here." 
\Vhat, too, can be more graphic than the expression of Ta- 
mora in " Titus Andronicus" (v. 2): 
"l am Revenge, sent from the infernal klngdom, 
To case the gnawing vulture of thy mind." 
Equally forcible, too, are Pistol's words in "The Merry \Vives 
of Windsor" (i. 3) : " Let vultures gripe thy guts." 
Johnson considers that " the vulture of sedition" in "2 
Henry VI.'" (iv. 3) is in allu.ion to the tale of Prometheus, 
but of this there is a dccided unccrtainty. 
ll'«ytail. In " King Lear" (ii. 2), Kent says, " Spare my 

"Gentleman's Recreation," p. 9, quoted in Nares's "Glossary," 
vol. il. p. 867. 



rey beard, you watail ?" thc word bcing used in an oppro- 
brious sense, to siniçy an ocious person. 
llbod«ac'. In several passages this bird s used to dcnotc 
a çool or siIly person" as in " Taming of thc hrmv" (i. 2): 
" O this woodcock  what an ass it is" And again, in" Much 
Ado About Nothing" (x'. I),wherd Claudio, alluding to the 
plot against Bcnedick, says: " Shall I hot find a woodcock 
too ?" In " Love's Labour's Lost'" (iv. 3) Biron says : 
" O heavens, I have my wish  
Dumain transformed : four woodcocks in a dish." 

Thc woodcock has gcnerally bccn proverbial as a foolish 
bird--perhaps because it is easily caught in springes or ncts.' 
Thus thc popular phrase "Springes to catch woodcocks" 
rotant arts to entrap simplicity, = as in " llamlet" (i. 3): 

".\ye, springes to catch woodcoks." 

A similar exprcssion occurs in Bcaumont and Fletchcr's 
" Loyal Subject" (iv. 4) : 
"Go like a woodcock, 
And thrust your neck i" th' noose." 

"It seems," says Narcs, " that woodcocks are now grown 
wiserby rime, for we do hot now hear of their bcing so easily 
caught. If they were sometimes said to be without brains, 
it was only founded on thcir charactcr, certainly hot on any 
cxamination of the fact. '' Formerly, one of the terres for 
twilight * was "cock-shut time," because the net in which 
cocks, L c., woodcocks, were shut in during the twilight, was 
called a "cock-shut." It appears that a large net was 
stretched across a glade, and so suspcnded upon poles as 
to be easilydrawn together. Thus, in " Richard III." (v. 3), 
Ratcliff says : 

' Dyce's "' Glossary," p. 508. 
- Nares's " Glossary," vol. ii. p. 97 I. 
a See Villughby's "Ornithology," iii. section r. 
 Minsheu's "" Guide into Tongues,'" ed. I67. 



160 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
"Thomas the Earl of Surrey, and himself, 
Much about cock-shut time, from troop to troop, 
Went through the army, cheering up the soldiers." 
Iii 13en Jonsoll'S " Masque of Gypsies" we read : 
"Mistress, this is only spite ; 
For you wouM not yesternight 
Kiss him in the cock-shut light.'" 
Somctimes it was crroneously written "cock-shoot." "Corne, 
colne away then, a film cock-shoot evcning." In the " Tvo 
Noble Kinsmcn "" (iv. 1) we filld thc terre "cock-light." 
113"«. Thc diminutivc charactcr of this bird is noticed 
in " A Midsummcr-Night's I)ream" (.iii. , song): 
"The wren with little quill." 
In " Macbeth ""(iv. 2), Lady Macbeth says: 
"the poor wren, 
The most diminutive of birds, will fight. 
tter young ones in ber nest, against the owl." 
Considering, too, that as rnaly as sixteen young ones have 
been foulld in this little bird's nest, we can say with Grahame, 
in his pocm on thc birds of Scotland : 
"But now behold the greatest of this train 
(If miracles, stupendously minute  
The numerous progeny, claimant for food 
Supplied by two small bills, and feeble wings 
()f narrow range, supplied--ay, duly fed-- 
Fed in the dark, and yet hot one forgot." 
The cpithet "poor," applied to the wren by Lad 5, Macbeth, 
was certainly appropriate in days gone by, when we recollect 
how it was cruelly huntcd in Ireland on St. Stephen's day-- 
a practice which prevailcd also in the Isle of Man.  

 See Yarrcll's " Histo,'y of British Birds," vol. il. p. i78. 



CHAPTER VII. 

AN I MALS. 

As in the case of the birds considered in the previous 
chapter, Shakespeare has also interwoven throughout his 
plays an inmense deal of curious folk-lore connccted with 
animals. Not only does he alludc with the accuracy of a 
naturalist to the peculiarities and habits of certain animals, 
but so truc to nature is he in lais graphic descriptions of 
them that it is evident his lmowledge was in a great meas- 
ure acquired rioto his own observation. It is interesting, 
also, to note how carefully ho has, herc and there, worked 
into his narrative some old proverb or superstition, thereby 
adding a freshness to thc picture which has, if possible, im- 
bued it with an additional lustre. In speaking of the dog, 
he has introduced lllany al old hunting custoln; and lais 
references to the tears of the deer are full of sweet pathos, 
as, for instance, where Hamlet says iii. e), " Let the stricken 
deer go weep." It is llOt necessary, however, to add further 
illustrations, as thcse will be round in the following pages. 
Af, e. In addition to Shakespeare's mention of this aninal 
as a common terre of contelnpt, there are several othcr al- 
lusions to it. There is the well-known phrase, '" to lead apes 
in hell," applied to old maids, mentioned in the " Taming bf 
the Shrew" (il. )--the meaning of this tcrm llOt ha ing 
been 5-et satisfactorily explained.' (It is further discussed 
in the chapter on Marriage.) 
In "2 IIenry IV." (ii. 4), the word is used as a terre of 
endearlnent, " Alas, poor ape, how thou sweat'st." 
Ass. Beyond the proverbial use of this much ill-treated 
animal to denote a silly, foolish person, Shakespeare has said 

' See page 65. 
II 



162 FOLK-LORE OF SI[AKESPEARE. 
little about it. In "Troilus and Cressida" (il. ), Thersites 
uses the word assilzco, a Portuguese expression for a young 
ass, "Thou hast no more brain than I bave in naine elbows; 
an assinego may tutor thee." It is used by Bcaumont and 
Flctcher in the " Scornful Lady" (.v. 4)" "Ail this would be 
forsworn, and I again an assinego, as your sister left me."' 
D.vce = would spell the word "asinico," because it is so spelled 
in the old cditions of Shakespeare, and is more in accordance 
with the Spanish word2 In "King I.ear" (i. 4), the Fool 
alludes to ,Esop's celebrated fable of the old man and lais 
ass: " thou borest thiue ass on thy back o'er thc dirt." 
/5'«t. The bat, immortalized by Shakcspcare (" Thc Tem- 
pest," v. 1) as the " delicate Aricl's" steed 
• ' ( )n the bat's back I do fly.'" 
--has gcncrally been an object of superstitious dread, and 
proved to the poet and painter a fertile source of images of 
gloom and tcrror.* In Scotland it is still connected with 
witchcraft, and if, while ff.ring, it fise and then descend again 
carthwards, it is a sign that the witches' hour is come--the 
hour in which they are supposcd to havc power over every 
human being who is hot specially shielded ffoto their influ- 
ence. Thus, in " Macbcth" (iv. } the " wool of bat" forms 
an ingrcdient in the witches' caldron. One of its popular 
namcs is "rere-mouse, which occurs in "A lIidsummcr- 
Night's Ih-cam "' (ii. 2), where Titania says : 
• ' Some, war with rere-mice for their leathern wings, 
To make my small elves coats." 
"Fhis terre is cquivalent to the Anglo-Saxon, I«rc'r«-mis, ff'oto 
/r«rai, to stir, agitate, and so the saine as the old naine 
' Nares's '" Glossary," vol. i. p. 38. 
" " Glossary to Shakespeare," 876, p. 2o. 
a ,, Asinico, a little ass," Connelly's " Spanish and English Diction- 
ary," Madrid, 4to. 
 Henderson's " Folk-Lore of Northern Counties," 879, pp. 
126. 



ANIMALS. 163 
" flitter-mouse."' Thc carly copies spell the word r«rcmisc.'-' 
It occurs in thc \Vicliffitc version of Lcviticus xi. 19, and 
the plural in the fonn " rcrcmees" or " rcre-myis" is round in 
Isaiah il. 20. 2Xt Polpcrro, Crnwall," thc village boys call it 
" airy-mouse," and addrcss it in the following rhyme: 
"Airy mouse, airv mouse : fly over my head, 
And you shall have a crust of bread ; 
And when I brew, and when I bake, 
¥ou shall bave a piece of my wedding-cake." 
In Scotland ' it is known as the Backe or Bakic bird. 
immense deal of folk-lore has clustcred round this curious 
little animal.  
];car. .ccording to an old idea, thc bear brings forth un- 
fonned lumps of animated flesh, and thon licks thcm into 
shape--a vulgar crror, rcferrcd to in "3 I lcnry VI." (iii. 2), 
where Gloster, bemoaning his deformity, savs of his lnother: 
"She did corrupt frail nature with some bribe, 
To disproportion me in cçerv part. 
Like to a chaos, or an unlick'd bcar-whelp, 
That carries no impression like the data." 
This erroneous notion, however, was long ago confuted by 
Sir Thomas Browne.  Alexander Ross, in his "Arcana 
Microcosmi," neverthelcss affirms that bears bring forth their 
young deformed and misshapen, by reason of the thick 
membrane in which they are wrapped, that is covered over 
with a mucous matter. This, he says, the data contracts in 
the winter-time, by lying iii hollow caves without motion, so 

 It has been speciously derived from the English word rcar. in the 
sense of being able to raise itself in the air, but this is erroneous. 
Nm'es's "Glossary." vol. ii. p. 726. 
-" Aldis Wright's " Notes to A Midsummer-Night's Dream," 877, p. 
IO1. 
 " Folk-Lore Record," 879. p. 2or. 
" Jamicson's " Scottish Dictionary," 879, vol. i. p. 
 See Brand's ' Pop. Antiq.." 849, vol. iii. p. 89; Harting's "Or- 
nitholog3z of Shakespeare," 87, pp. 3, 4. 
 "Vulgar Errors," 1852, vol. i. p. 247. 



I6 4 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
that to thc cye thc cub appcars likc an unfommd lump. The 
abovc lnucilage is afterwards licked away by thc data, and 
the membralae brokcn, whcrcby that which bcfore secmed to 
be unformed appcars now in its right shapc. This, he COl> 
tends, is all that thc ancients mcant.' Ovid Metamorphoses0 
bk. xv. 1. 379) thus dcscribes this once popular fancy : 
"Nec catulus, partu quem reddidit ursa recenti. 
Sed male viva caro est : lambendo mater in artus 
Fingit, et in formam quantam capit ipsa. reducit." 
Bcars, in days gone by, are reportcd to have been surprised 
by lneans of a mirror, which thcy wouhl gaze on, affording 
thcir pursucrs an opportunity of taking thc surer aire. In 
" Julius Coesal'" (ii. ), this practicc is mcntioncd by Decius: 
"unicorns mav be betray'd xvith trces, 
And bcars with glasses." "-' 
Batman, "On Bartholom,'eus" ( 582), speaking of the bear, 
says, "'And whcn he is takcn he is madc blinde with a 
bright basin, and bound with chaynes, and colnpelled to 
playc." This, however, says Mr. Aldis \Vright,  probably 
refcrs to thc actual blinding of the bea,. 
A favorite alnusement with out ancestors was bear-baiting. 
As early as the rcign of tlcnry II. the baiting of bcars by 
dogs was a popular ça,ne in London, * while at a latcr pe,iod 
"a royal bear-ward" was an of-ficer rcgularly attached to the 
royal houschold. In " 2 Henry VI." (v. ), this personage is 
alluded to by Clifford, who says: 
'" Are these thy bears ? V'e'll bait thy bears to death. 
And manacle the bear-ward in their chains, 
If thou dar'st bring thcm to the baiting place." 
And again, in " Much Ado About Nothing" (ii. ), Beatrice 

 See Bartholomoeus, " De Proprietate Rerum." lib. xviii, c. t 2; 
Aristotle, " History of Animais," lib. ri. c. 3t ; Pliny's "Natural His- 
tory." lib. viii. c. 54. = Steevens on this passage. 
a., Notes on Julius Caesar," 878, p. 34- 
 "Notices Illustrative of the Drama and other Popular Amuse- 
ments." incidentally illustrating Shakespeare and his contemporaries, 
extracted from the MSS. of Leicester, by W. Kelly, 865, p.  52. 



_A1XIMALS. i6 5 
says," I will even take sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, 
and lead his apcs into hell." The synonymous terre," bear- 
herd," occurs in " Taming of the Shrexv " (Ind. sccne 2), 
where Sly speaks of himself as " by transmutation a bear- 
herd ;" and in " 2 Henry IV." (.i. 2), Sir John Falstaffremarks 
how " true valor is turned bear-herd." Among the Harleian 
MSS.  is preserved the original warrant of Richard III. ap- 
pointing John Brown to this office, and which recites " the 
diligent service he had done the king" as the ground for 
granting him the privilege of wandering about the country 
with his bears and apes, and receiving the " loving benevo- 
lcnce and favors of the people."ç In the time of Queen 
Eizabeth bear-baiting was still a favorite pastime, being 
considered a fashionable cntcrtainment for ladies of the 
highest ranl«  James I. encouraged this sport. Kichols  
informs us that on one occasion the king, accompanied by 
his court, took the queen the Princess Elizabcth, and the 
two young princes to the Tower to witness a fight between a 
lion and a bear, and by the king's command thc bcar (which 
had killed a child that had becn ncgligently left in the bear- 
house) was afterwards " baited to death upon a stage in thc 
presence of many spectators." Popular, says Mr. Kclly, as 
bear-baitingwas in the mctropolis and at court, it x as equally 
so among ail classes ofthe people2 It is on record that at 
Congleton, in Cheshire, "the town-bear having dicd, the 
corporation in I6OI gave orders to sell their Bible, in ordcr 
to purchase another, which was donc, and the town no 
longer without a bear." This event is kcpt up in a popular 
rhyme : 
"Çongleton rare. Congleton rare. 
Sold the Bible to pay for a bear." 

No. 433- The document is given at length in Collier's "Annals of 
Stage," vol. i. p. 35, note. 
Kellv's " Notices of Leicester," p. 152. 
Wright's " Domestic Manners," p. 3o4. 
" Progresses and Processions," vol. il. p. 259. 
About 76o it was customary to have a bear baited at the election 
the mayor. Corry, " History of Liverpool," 8o, p. 93. 



166 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
Thc saine legend attaches to Clifton, a village near Rugby: 
"Clifton-upon-Dunsmore, in Warwickshire, 
Sold the Church Bible to buy a bear." 
In l'ullcyn's " Etylnological Compcndium, ''1 we arc told 
that " this cruel alnusement is of African origin, and was 
troduced into Europe by the Romans. It is further alluded 
to by Shakcspearc in " Twelfth Night" (i. 3), " dancing and 
bcar-baiting ;" and further on in the saine play (il. 5) Fabian 
says, " he brought me out o' favor with .ny lady about a 
bcar-baiting hcre ;" and Macbcth (v. 7) relates : 
"They have tied me to a stake ; I cannot fly. 
tlut. bear-like, I must fight the course. ''' 
And in " Julius Cœesar" (iv. ), Octavius says : 
"we are at the stake. 
And bay'd about with many enemies." 
]¢oar. It appears that in former times boar-hunting was 
a favorite recreation ; many allusions to which we find in old 
writers. Indced, in the Middle Ages, the destruction of a 
wild boat ranked alnong the deeds of chivalry,  and "won 
for a warrior almost as much renown as the slaying an enelny 
in the open field." So dangerous, too, was boar-hunting 
considered, that Shakespeare reprcsents Venus as dissuading 
Adonis ffoto the perilous practicc : 
"' O. be ad,ised ! thou know'st hot what it is, 
With javelin's point a churlish swine to gore, 
Whose tushes never sheathed he whetteth still. 
Like to a mortal butcher, bent to kill. 
His brawny sides, with hairy bristles arm'd, 
Are better proof than thy spear's point can enter; 
His short thick neck cannot be easily harm'd ; 
Being ireful, on the lion he will venture."" 

1 Edited by M. A. Thoms, t853, p. 7o. 
 For further information on this subject consult Strutt's '" Sports 
and Pastimes," t876 ; Kelly's "Notices of Leicester," pp. t52-t59. 
 Cbambers's " Book of Days," t864, vol. il. pp. 518, 519. 



ANIMALS. 6 7 
Such hunting cxpeditious were generalIy fatal to some of 
the dogs, aud occasionally to onc or more of the hunters. 
An old tradition of Grimsby, in Lincolnshh'e,' asserts that 
every burgess, at his admission to the fleedom of the borough, 
auciently presented to the mayor a boar's head, or an cquiv- 
aleut iu noley, whel the animal could lot be procured. 
The old seal of the mayor of Grilnsby represents a boar 
hunt. The lord, too, of the adjacent manor of Bradley, was 
obligcd by Iris tenure to keep a supply of these animais in 
his wood, for the entertainmcnt of the mayor aud bulgesses. = 
A curious tricunial custonl called the " Rhyne Toll,'" is ob- 
served at Chetwode, a small village about rive mlles from 
Buckingham. = According to tradition, it originatcd in the 
destruction of an cnormous wild boarthe terror of the sur- 
roundiug county--by one of thc lords of Chctvode" who, 
aftcr fighting with it for four hours on a hot summer's day, 
cveutually killed it : 
"Then Sir Ryalas he drawed his broad sword with might. 
Wind well thy horn. good hunter ; 
And he fairly cut the boar's head og quite, 
For he was a jovial hunter." 
As a reward, it is said, the king "granted to hiln and to his 
hcirs forever, among othcr immuuities aud privileges, the 
full right to levy evcry year the Rhync Toll." This is still 
kept up, and consists of a yearly tax on ail cattle round 
withiu the mauor of Chetwode between the 3oth of October 
and the 7th of November, inclusive. Iu "Autony and 
Cleopatra" (iv. 3) Cleopatra alludes to the famous boat 
killed by Meleager, 
"the boar of Thessaly 
Was never so emboss'd." « 

 Hampson's "OEvi Medii Kalendarium,'" vol. i. p. 96. 
 See G«,tll«,mt,t's .lZaazi, tc. vol. xcviii, pp. 4o. 402. 
a See " Book of Days." vol. ii. pp. 517-59 . 
* "Ernbossed" is a hunting terrn, properly applied to a deer when 
foaming at the mouth from fatigue, see p. 79; also Dyce's '" Glossary 
to Shakespeare." p. 42; see Nares's " Glossary." vol. i. p. 275- 



I68 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Iull. Once upon a rime thcre was scarcely a town or vil- 
lage of any magnitude which had hot itsbull-ring.' Indced, 
it was hOt until the year I835 that baiting was finally put 
down by an act of Parliament, " forbidding the keeping of 
any house, pit, or other place for baiting or fighting any 
bull, bcar, dog, or other animal;" and, after an existence of 
at lcast sevcn centurics, this ceased to rank among the 
amusemcnts of the English people2 This sport is alluded 
to in " Mcrry \Vives of \Vindsor" (v. 5}, " Rcmcmbcr, Jove, 
thou wast a bull for thy Europa." \Ve may, too, compare 
the exprcssions in " Troilus and Crcssida" (v. 7), " Now, bull, 
now, dog! . . . The bull has the gaine. '' 
L)tt. Few animais, in rimes past, have been more esteemed 
than the car, or been honored with a widcr folk-lore. In- 
deed, among the Egyptians this favorcd animal was held 
sacred to Isis, or the moon, and worshipped with great cere- 
mony. In the mythology of ail the Indo-European nations 
the cat holds a prominent place; and its connection with 
witches is well known. " The picture of a witch," says Mr. 
Henderson,  " is incomplete without her car, by rights a black 
che." In " Macbeth" (iv. /the first witch says : 
• ' Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd 
it being a common supe,'stition that the form most general- 
ly assumed by the familiar spirits of witches was the cat. 
Thus, in another passage of thc saine play {i. ), the first 
witch says : '" I corne, Graymalkin"-- the word otherwise 
spellcd Grimalkin2 meaning a gray car. Numcrous stories 
are on record of witches having disguised thcmselves as 
 .Vright's '" Domestic Manners." p. 3o4; see Strutt's " Sports and 
Pastimes;" Smith's " Festivals, Gaines, and Amusements," 83, pp. 
t 92-229 . 
= " Book of Days." vol. il. p. 59- 
a Cf. " e Henry IV." il. e. "the town-bull." 
« " Folk-Lore of Northern Counties." p. 267 ; Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 
t849, vol. iii. p. 7. 
» Malkin is a diminutive of " Mary ; .... Maukin," the same word, is 
still used in Scotland for a hare. " Notes to Macbeth," by Clark and 
Wright, t877. p. 75. 



ANIMALS. 16 9 
cats, in order to carry out their ficndish dcsigns. A wood- 
man out working in the forest has his dinner every day stolen 
bv a cat. Exaspcrated at the continued repetition of the 
theft, hc lies in wait for thu aggressor, and succeeds in cutting 
off her paw, when 1o! on his rcturn home lac finds his wife 
minus a hand.' An honest Yorkshireman, = who bred l)igs, 
often lost the young oncs. On applying to a certain wise 
inan of Stokesley, he was informed that thcy were bewitchcd 
by all old woman who lived near. The owner of the pigs, 
calling to mind that he had often seen a cat prowling about 
his yard, dccided that this was thc oht woman in disguise, lIc 
watched for ber, and, as soon as shc ruade hcr appcarance, 
flung at her a poker with ail his might. The cat disappeared, 
and, curiously cnough, the poor old woman in qucstion that 
night fell and broke her leg. This was considcrcd as conclusive 
that she was the witch that had silnulated thc form of a car. 
This notion is very prevalent on the Continent. It is said 
that witch-cats have a great hankering aftcr beer.  \Vitchcs 
are adepts in the art of brewing, and thercfore fond oftasting 
what their ncighbors brcw. On these occasions theyahvays 
masquerade as cats, and what thcy steal they consume on the 
spot. Thcre was a countrvman whose beer was ail drunk up 
by night whenevcr hc brewed, so that at last he resoh'ed fol- 
once to sit up ail night and watch. _As he was standing by 
his brewing pan. a immbcr of cats ruade their appearance, and 
calling to them, he said ; '" Crne, puss, puss, corne, warm you 
a bit." So in a ring thcy all sat round the tire as if to warm 
themselves. After a time, he asked them " if the water was 
hot." "Just on the boil," said they; and as he spoke he 
dipped lais long-handled pail in the wort, and soused the 
whole company with it. They all vanishcd at once, but on 
the following day his wife had a terribly scalded face, and 
then he knew who it was that had always drunk his beer. 
This story is widcly prevalent, and is current among the 
' Sternberg's " Dialect and Folk-Lore of Northamptonshire," 85, 
p. 48. 
= Henderson's " Folk-Lore of Northern Counties," I879. p. 2o6. 
a Kelly's " Indo-European Folk-Lore," I863, p. :38. 



170 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
Flcmish-speaking nativcs of Belgium. _Again, a North Ger- 
man tradition' tells us of a peasant who had three beautiful 
large cats. ,\ ncighbor beggcd to have ont of them, and 
obtaincd it. To accustom it to the place, he shut it up in 
the lott. At night, the car, popping its hcad through the 
window, said, " \Vhat shall I bring to-night ?" " Thou shalt 
bring mice," answercd the man. The car then set to work, 
and cast ail it caught on the floor. Next monfing tbe place 
was so full of dead mice that it was hardly possible to open 
thc door, and thc man was employcd the whole da)- in 
throwing thcm away by bushcls. At night the cat again 
asked, " \Vhat shall I bring to-night ?'" " Thou shalt bring 
rye," answercd thc pcasant. Thc car was now busily em- 
ployed in shooting down rye, so that in thc morlfing the 
door could hot be opcned. The man then discovcrcd that 
the cat was a witch, and carried it back to his neighbor. 
A similar tradition occurs in Scandiavian mythology.* 
Sl)lalgcr  rclatcs that a labolcr, on onc occasion, was at- 
tackcd by thrcc young ladics in thc form of cats, and that 
they were wounded by him. On the following day they 
were round bleeding in their beds. In Vcrnon,' about the 
year 566," thc witches and warlocks gathered in great mul- 
titudes undcr the shapc of cats. Four or rive men were at- 
tackcd in a lonc place by a number of these beasts. The 
mcn stood thcir ground, and succceded in slaying one cat 
and wounding many others. Next da)- anumber ofwounded 
women wcre found in the town, and they gave thc judge an 
accurate account of ail the circumstances connccted with 
thcir wounding." It is only natural, then, that Shakespcare, 
in his description of thc witchcs in "' Macbcth,'" should have 
associated them with the popular superstition which repre- 
sents thc cat as their agent--a notion that no doubt origi- 
natcd in thc classic storv of Galanthis bcing turned into a 
' Thorpe's " Northern Mythology," 851, vol. iii. p. 32. 
- Ibid., vol. ii. p. 32 ; vol. iii. pp. 26-236. 
a See Baring-Gould's " Book of Werewolves," 1869, p. 65. 
« Ibid., p. 66. 



ANIMALS. i7 I 
cat, and becoming, through the compassion of IIecate, her 
prie.stess. From their supposed connection with witchcraft, 
cats weleformerly orteil tormented by the ignorant vulgal'. 
Thus it appears i that, iii days goue by, they (occasionally 
fictitious ones') were htlllg up iii baskcts and shot at with 
arrows. In some counties, too, they werc enclosed, with a 
quantity of soot, iii woodcu bottles suspendcd on a line, and 
he who could beat out the bottom of thc bottle as he ran 
under it, and 3"et escape its conteuts, was the hero of the 
sport." Shakcspearc alhldcs to this practice iii " Much Ado 
About Nothing" (i. l), where Bcnedick savs: " I Iaug me in 
a bottle like a cat, and shoot at roc." 
l'crcy, in his " Reliques of\ncient English Poctly " (, ï94, 
vol. i. p. I55), says: "'It is still a diversion in Scotland to 
hang up a car in a small cask or firkin, hall filled with soot ; 
and then a parcel ofclowus on llolscback try to beat out the 
ends of it, in order to show thcir dcxterity in escaping be- 
lote the contents fall upoll thenl." 
Tbis practicc was once kept up at Kclso, in Scotland, ac- 
Colding to Ebenezer Lazarus, who, iii his " l_)esclil)tiol of 
Kelso" (789, P. 44), has given a graphic descriptiou of the 
whole ceremouy, t le says, " This is a sport which was com- 
lnoll iii the last ccntury at Kelso on thc Tweed. A large 
concourse of men, womcn, and children assembled in a ficld 
about ball a mlle from the town, and a cat having becn put 
into a barrel stuffcd full of soot, was suspcndcd on a cross- 
beam bctween two bigh poles. A certaiu number of the 
whiplnen, or husbandnaen, wbo took part in this savage aud 
tllllllall]y allltlSeulellt, tbcn kept striking, as they ,'ode to and 
fro on horseback, thc barrel in which the unfortuuate anilnal 
was confined, until at last, undcr thc heavy blows of thcir 
clubs aud mallets, it broke, and allowed the car to drop. 
The victim was then seized and tortured to death.'" IIe 
justly stiglnatizes it, saying: 

' Dyce's "' Glossary to Shakespeare," p. 70. 
= See Brand's "" Pop. Antiq.,"  849, vol. iii. p. 39 ; also Wright's " Es- 
says on the Suerstitions of the Middle Ages," 846. 



i7 2 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
"The cat in the barrel exhibits such a farce, 
That he who can relish it is worse than an ass." 
Cats, from their great powers of rcsistance, are said to have 
nine lires ;' hence Mcrcutio, in " Romeo and Juliet" (iii. I), 
says: "Good king of cats, nothing but one of your nine 
lires." l,len Jonson, in " Every Man in His I|ulnour" (iii. 2), 
makcs Edward Knowell say to Bobadil, "'Twas pity 3"ou 
had hOt ten ; a cat's and your own." And in Gay's fable of 
thc "Old \Voman and hcr Cats," one of these animals is in- 
troduced, upbraiding thc witch" 
"'Tis infamy to serve a hag. 
Çats are thought imps. ber broom a nag; 
And boys against out lires combine, 
13ecause 'tis said, your cats bave nine. ' 
In Marston's " Dutch Courtezan" we read: 
"Why. then, thou hast nine lires like a cat." 
And in Dekker's "Strange Ilorse-Race" (I613): "When 
thc grand Helcat had gotten these two furies with nine 
lires." This notion, it may be noted, is quite the reverse of 
"che wcll-known saying, " Carc will kill a car," mentioned in 
• ' Much Ado About Nothing" (v. ), where Claudio says: 
" \Vhat though care killed a car." 
For solne undiscovered rcason a cat was formerly called 
Tybert or Tyba!t ;- hence some of the insulting remarks of 
Mercutio, in " Romeo and Juliet " (iii, I), who calls Tybalt 
" rat-catchcr" and "king of cats." In the old romance of 
" tlystorye of Reynard the Foxe" (chap. ri.), we are told 
how " the king called for Sir Tibert, the car, and said to him, 
Sir Tibcrt, you shall go to Reynard, and summon him the 
second tilne."  A popular terre for a wild cat was " cat-o'- 
lnountain," an expression ' borrowed from the Spaniards, 
who call the wild cat "gato-montes." In thc " Merry Wives 

1 See Brand's '" Pop. Antiq.." vol. iii. p. 
 Dyce's "GIossa W to Shakespeare," p. 466. 
a From Tibert, Tib was also a common naine for a car. 
« Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," »839, p. 4t- 



ANIMALS. i7 3 
of Windsor" (ii. 2), Falstaffsays of Pistol, "Your cat-a-moun- 
ain Iooks." 
The word car was used as a tcrm ofcontempt, as in " Thc 
Tcmpcst " (il. ) and "A Midsummcr-Night's [Drcam " (iii. 2}, 
whcrc Lysandcr says, " IIang off, thou car." Once more, 
too, in " Coriolanus " {.iv. 2), we find it in thc saine sense : 
"'Twas you incensed the rabble ; 
Cats. that can judge as fitly of his worth. 
As I can o those mystcries which heaven 
V¢ill hOt have earth to know." 

A  cil _, or a gib cat, is al,. old malc cat --gib being thc con- 
traction of Gilbcrt," and is, says Nares, an expression exactly 
analogous to that of jackass2 Tom-cat is now the usual 
term. The word was certainly hot bestowcd t.pon a cat 
earlv in lire, as is evident flore the mclancholy character 
critcd to it in Shakespeare's allusion in " I Henry IV." (i. _2) : 
" I am as melancholy as a gib cat." Ray gives "as melan- 
choly as a gib'd la corruption of gib] car." The terre occurs 
again in " Hamlct" (iii. 4). It is improperly applied to a 
fcmale by Beaumont and Fletcher, in thc " Scornflfl Lady'" 
(v. ): " Bring out the cat-hounds! I'll make you take a tree, 
whore" then with my tiller bring down your gib-ship, and 
then have you cased and hung up in the warren." 
C/zamcl«o,z. This animal was popularly belicved to feed 
on air, a notion which Sir Thomas Brownc ' has carefully 
discussed. He has assigne& among other grounds for this 
vulgar opinion, its power of abstinence, and its faculty of 
self-inflation. It lires on insects, which it catches by its 
long, gluey tongue, and crushes between its jaws. It has 
been ascertained by careful experiment that the chamcleon 
can live without eating for four months. It can inflate hot 
only its lungs, but its whole body, including even the feet 
' Dyce's " Glossary," p.  83. 
" A gibbe (an old mme car), Macou, Cotgrave's" French and Engiish 
Dictionary." 
a ,, Glossary," vol. i. p. 360. 
" "Vulgar Errors," bk. iii. p. 21, I852 ; bk. i. p. 321, noie. 



I7 4 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
and tail. In allusion to thi.q supposed characteritic, Shake- 
speare makes 11amlct say (iii. 2), " Of thc chamelcon's dish : 
I eat thc air, promise-crammed; you cannot feed capons 
so ;" and in the " Two Gentlemen of Verona" (il. ) Speed 
says: "Though the chameleon, Love, can fecd on the air, I 
ara one that ana nourishcd by my victuals, and would fain 
havc meat." There is, too, a popular notion that this ani- 
mal undcrgoes frcquent changes of color, according to that 
ofthc bodics ncar it. This, howcver, depcnds on the voli- 
tion of thc animal, or the statc of its fcclings, on its good or 
bad health and is subordinatc to climate, a«e and sex.' In 
" 3 I Icmy VI." (iii. 2) Glostcr boasts : 
" I can add colours to the chameleon. 
Change shapes, with Proteus. for advantages." 
Coe/carrier. This imaginary crcaturc, also called a basi- 
lisk, has becn the subject ofextraordinary prejudice. It was 
absurdly said to procced from thc eggs of old cocks. It has 
been represented as having eight feet, a crown on the head, 
and a hooked and recurved beak? Pliny asserts that the 
basilisk had a voice so terrible that it struck terror into ail 
othcr spccies. Sir Thomas Browne,  however, distinguishes 
thc cockatrice rioto the ancient basilisk, tle says, " Tl:is 
of ours is generally dcscribed with legs, wings, a serpentine 
and winding tail, and a crest or comb somewhat like a cock. 
But the basilisk ofelder times was a proper kind of serpent, 
hot above three pahns long, as some account ; and different 
ffoto other serpents by advancing his head and some whitc 
marks, or coronary spots upon the crown, as all authentic 
writers have dclivered." No other animal, perhaps, has 
giron fise to so many fabulous notions. Thus, it was sup- 
posed to have so deadly an eye as to kill by its very look. 
to which Shakespeare often alludcs. In " Romeo and Ju- 
lier" (iii. 2), Juliet says: 

 Ovid (" Metamorphoses," bk. xv. 1.4   spcaks of its changes ot 
color. 
"- Cuvier's "Animal Kingdom, ' 183I ' VO1. ix. p. 226. 
 "Vulgar Errors," bk. iii. p. 7. 



ANaLS. 75 

"say thou but ' I,' 
And that barc vowcl, ' I,' shall poison more 
Than the death-darting cyc of cockatricc." 
In " Richard III." (ix-. I) thc Duchess cxclaims: 
• ' O my accursed womb, thc bed of death ! 
A cockatrice hast thou hatch'd to the world, 
Whose unavoidcd eye is murderous !" 
In " Lucrece " (1. 540) we rcad: 
" Here with a cockatricc' dead-killing eye 
He rouscth up himself, and makes a pause." 
Once more,' in " Twclfth Night " (iii. 4, Sir Toby Belch af- 
firlns: " This will so fright thcm both that they will kill one 
another by the look, like cockatrices." It has also becn 
affirmed that this animal could liot exercise this faculty un- 
less it first perceivcd the objcct of its vcngcancc; if first 
seen, if died. Drvdcn has alludcd to this superstition: 
" Mischiefs are like the cockatrice's eye, 
If they see first they kill, if seen, they die." 
Cockatrice was a popular phrase for a loose woman, prob- 
ably from the fascination of thc eye. = It appears, too, that 
basilisk  was the naine of a huge piece of ordnance carrying 
a ball of very great wcight. In the following passage in 
" Henry V.'" (v. 2), thcre is no doubt a double allusion--to 
pieces of ordnancc, and to the fabulous creature already dc- 
scribed : 
"The fatal halls of murdering basilisks." 
Colt. From its wild tricks the colt was forlnerly used to 
designate, according to Johnson, "a witless, heady, gay 
youngster." Portia mentiolas it with a quibble in "The 
Merchant of Venice" (i. e), referring to the Neapolitan 
prince: "\y, that's a colt, indeed." The terre " to colt" 

 Sec " Cymbeline," ii. 4 ; "Winter's Tale," i. 2. 
= Nares's " Glossary," vol. i. p. 73. 
= Dyce's " Glossary,"p. -"9 ; sec "  Henry IV.,'; ii. 3, "of basilisks, of 
cannon, culvcrin." 



176 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
meant to trick, or bcfool ; as in the phrase in " I ttcnry IV." 
(il. 2)" "\Vhat a plague mean ye to colt me thus?'" Mr. 
Halliwcll-I'hillipps' explains the expression in " Henry 
VIII." ll. 3), " Your colt's tooth is hot ca.st 3"et," to denote 
a love of youthful plcasurc. In "Cymbcline" (il. 41 it is 
used in a coarscr scnse : '" he hath bccn colted by him." 
Cocodile. According to fibulous accounts the crocodile 
was thc most dcccitflfl of animals; its tears bcing proverbi- 
al1)- fallacious. Thus Othcllo (iv. 1) says: 
.' () dcvil, devil ! 
If that the earth could tcem with woman's tears, 
Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile.-- 
Out of my sight !" 
\Ve lnay also COlnpare thc words of thc queen in " 2 Henry 
VI.'" tiii. ): 
" Henry my lord is cold in great affairs, 
Too full of foolish pity ; and Gloster's show 
Beguiles him. as the mournful crocodile 
\Vith sorrow snares relenting passengers." 
It is said that this treacherous animal wceps over a man's 
head whcn it has devourcd the body, and will then eat up 
the hcad too. In Bullokar's " Expositor," 6t6, we read: 
"Crocodilc lachrymoe, crocodiles teares, do signify such 
tearcs as are feigncd, and spent only with intcnt to deceive 
or do harm." In Quarles's" Emblcms" thcre is the follow- 
ing allusion : 
"O what a crocodilian world is this, 
Compos'd of treachries and cnsnaring wiles ! 
She cloaths destruction in a formal kiss, 
And lodges death in her deceitful smiles." 
In thc above passage from " Othello," Singer says there is, 
no doubt, a rcfcrcnce to the doctrinc of equivocal gencration, 
bv which new animals were supposed to be producible by 
new Colnbinations of 1natter." 

' '" Handbook Index to Shakespeare." 
"- Singer's " Shakespcare," 875, vol. x. p.  18. 



Ai,«LS. I7 7 
Dccr. In " King Lear" (iii. 4) Edgar uses decr for wild 
animals in general : 
"But mice, and rats. and such small deer. 
Have bcen Tom's food for seven long year." 
Shaespeare frequently rccrs to thc popular sport of hunt- 
ing the dcer :1 and by his apt alIusions shows how thorough- 
ly familiar ho was with thc various amusements of his day.  
In " Winter's Talc " (i. 2) Leontcs speaks of "the mort o' 
the deer:" certain notes played on the horn at the dcath of 
the deer, and requiring a deep-drawn brcath2 It was an- 
ciently, too, one of the customs of the chase for all to stain 
their hands in the blood of the dccr as a trophy. Thus, in 
" King John" (ii. ), the English hcrald declares to the men 
of Angicrs how 
"like a jolly troop of huntsmen, come 
Our lusty English, ail with purpled hands, 
Dyed in the dying slaughter of their foes." 
The practice is again alluded to in " Julius Coesar" (iii. ): 
"here thy hunters stand. 
Sign'd in thy spoil, and crimson'd in thy lethe." 
Old Turbervile gives us the details of this custom : " Our 
order is, that the prince, or chier, if so please them, do alight, 
and takc assay of the deer, with a sharp knife, the which is 
done in this mannerthe deer being laid upon his back, the 
prince, chier, or such as they do appoint, cornes to it, and the 
chier huntsman, kneeling ifit be a prince, doth hold the deer 
by the forefoot, whilst the prince, or chier, do cut a slit drawn 
along the brisket of the deer." 
In "Antony and Cleopatra" (v. ), where Coesar, speaking 
of Cleopatra's death, says : 

 See Strutt's "Sports and Pastimes," 876. pp. 66, 75, 79, 80. 113. 117. 
= See "As You Like It," iv. 2 ; "All's Well That Ends Well," v. 2 : 
"Macbeth," iv. 3 ; " i Henry IV.," v. 4 ; " I Henry VI.,"ix'. 2 ; "2 Hen- 
ry VI.," v. 2 ; '" Titus Andronicus," iii. i, etc. 
3 Singer's "Shakespeare,"vol. viii. p. 42I. 
I2 



i7 8 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"bravest at the last, 
She levell'd at our purposes, and, being royal, 
Took her own way"-- 
there is possibly an allusion to thc/tort 'oyal, which had the 
privilege of roaming unmolested, and of taking its own way 
to its lait. 
Shooting with the cross-bow at dcer was an amusement 
of great ladies, luildings with fiat roofs, called stands, 
partly concealed by bushes, wcre erccted in the parks for 
the purpose. Itcncc thc following dialogue in" Love's La- 
bour's Lost " (ix'. 
"t'riptccss. Then forester, my friend, where is the bush 
That we must stand and play the murderer in ? 
F«r,'st,'r. Hereby. upon the edge of yonder coppice ; 
A stand where you may make the fairest shoot." 
Among the hunting terres to which Shakespeare refers 
ma)" be mentioned the following: 
"To draw" meant to trace the steps of the gaine, as in 
" Comedy of Errors" (iv. 2) : 
"A hound that runs counter, and yet draws dry-foot well." 
The terre " to run counter" was to mistake the course of 
the gaine, or to turn and pursue the backward trail." 
The " recheat" denoted certain notes sounded on the 
horn, properly and more usually employed to recall the 
dogs from a wrong scent. It is used ia " Mucla Ado About 
Nothing" (i. ): " I will have a recheat winded in my fore- 
head." \Ve may compare I)rayton's " Polyolbion " (xiii.) : 
" Recheating with his horn, which then the hunter cheers." 
The phrase " to recover the wind of me," used by Haro- 
let (iii. 2), is borrowed from hunting, and means to get the 
animal pursued to run with the wind, that it may hot scent 
the toil or its pursuers. Again, when Falstaff, in "2 Henry 
IV." (ii. 4), speaks of "fat rascals," he alludes to the phrase 
of the forest--" rascall," says Puttenham, "being properly 
the hunting terre given to a young deer leane and out of 
season." 



ANIMALS. 179 
The phrase "a hunts-up" implied any song intended to 
arouse in the morning--even a love song--the naine having 
been derived from a tune or song employed by early hunt- 
ets.  The terre occurs in " Romco and Julict" (iii. 5), where 
Juliet says to Romeo, spcaking of the lark : 
"Since arm from arm that voice doth us affray, 
Hunting thee hence with hunts-up to the day." 
In Drayton's "Polyolbion" (xiii.) it is used: 
"No sooner doth the earth her flowery bosom brave, 
At such rime as the year brings on the pleasant spring. 
But hunts-up to the morn the feather'd sylvans sing." In Shakespeare's day it was customary to huut as well after 
dinner as before, hence, in "Timon of Athens" (il. 2), Timon 
says : 
"So soon as dinner's donc, we'll forth again." 
Thc word "cmbossed" was applicd to a deer when foam- 
ing at the mouth from fatigue. Ilx " Taming ofthe Shrew" 
(Ind. scene I) we read : "the poor cur is embossed," and in 
"Antony and Cleopatra" (iv. 13) : 
"the boar of Thessal¥ 
Was never so emboss'd." 
It was usual to call a pack of hound. "a cry," from the 
French mcttv de chiens. Thc terln is hulnorously applied 
to any troop or company of players, as by I[amlet (iii. 
who speaks of "a fellowship in a cry of players." In '" Cori- 
olanus " (iv. 6) Menenius says, 
"You have ruade 
Good work, you and your cry." 
Antony, in " Julius Cmsar "' (iii. I), alludes to the technical 
phrase to "'let slip a dog," employed in hunting the hart. 
This consistcd iii releasing the hounds fl'onl the leash or slip 

' Chappell's " Popular Music of the Olden Time," 2d ed. vol. i. p. 6i ; 
see Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. 432 ; see, too, Nares's 
" Glossary," vol. i. p. 440. 



I80 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
of leathcr by which thcy wcre hcld in hand until it was 
judged proper to let them pursue the animal chased.' In 
" I Henry IV." (i. 3) Northumbcrland tells Hotspur : 
"13efore the game's afoot, thou still let'st slip." 
In "Taming of the Shrew " (v. 2) Tranio says : 
• ' O, sir. Lucentio slipp'd me like lais greyhound, 
Which runs himself, and catches for lais toaster." 
A slmrtslnan's saying, applied to hounds, occurs in "2 
Henry IV." (v. 3) : "a' will hot out ; he is true bred," serv- 
ing to expo.und Gadshill's expression, "such as can hold in." 
" 1 Henry IV." (il. ). 
The scvcrity of the gaine laws under our early monarchs 
was vcry stringent; and a clause in the " Forest Charter" 
grants "to an archbishop, bishop, earl, or baron, when trav- 
elling through the royal forcsts, at the king's command, the 
privilege to kill one deer or two in the sight of the forester, 
ifhe was at hand ; if hot, thcy were commanded to cause a 
horn to be sounded, that it might hot appear as if they had 
intended to steal the gaine." In " Merry \Vives of \Vind- 
sot" (v. 5), Falstaff, using the terres of the forest, alludes to 
the pcrquisitcs ofthe keeper. Thus he speaks ofthe " shoul- 
ders for the fellow of this walk," i. «., the keeper. 
Shakespeare has several pretty allusions to the tears ofthe 
deer, this animal being said to possess a very large secretion 
of tears. Thus Hamlet (iii. 2) says : " let the strucken deer 
go weep;" and in "As You Like It" (il. I) we read of the 
"sobbing deer," and in the saine scene the first lord nar- 
rates how, at a certain spot, 
"a poor sequester'd stag 
That from the hunter's aire had ta'en a hurt 
Did corne to languish ; 
and the big round tears 
Coursed one another clown his innocent nose 
In piteous chase." 

 See Dyce's "Glossary," p. 4oi. 
' See Strutt's "Sports and Pastimes," 876, p. 6. 



ANIMALS. 
]3artholomus' says, that " whcn thc hart is arcred, ho 
fleethc to a ryvcr or ponde, and roreth cryeth and wepeth 
when he is take."* It appears that there werc various su- 
perstitions connected with the tears ofthe dcer. Batman 
tells us that '" when the hart is sick, and hath eatcn many 
serpents for his rccoverie, ho is brought unto so great a hcatc 
that he hastcth to thc watcr, and thcrc covercth his body 
unto thc ver)- earcs and eyes, at which timc distillcth lnany 
tears ffoto wh ich the [Bczoar] stone is gendcrcd. ''* Douce 
quotes the following passage from the " Noble Art" of Ven- 
erie," in which thc hart thus addrcsses thc huutcr: 
"O cruell, be content, to take in worth my tears, 
Which growe to gumme, and fall from me: content thee with my 
hcares. 
Content thee with my hornes, which cvery ycar I new. 
Since all these three make medicines, some sickness to chew. 
My tears congeal'd to gumme, by peeces from me fall. 
And thee preserve from pestilence, in pomandcr or ball. 
Such wholesome tears shedde I. when thou pursewest me so." 
Dog. As thc favorite of our domestic animals, the dog 
hot unnaturally possesses an extensive history, besides en- 
tering largely into those superstitions which, more or less, 
are associated with evcry stage of human lire. It is llot sur- 
prising, therefore, that Shakespeare frequently speaks of the 
dog, making it the subject Oflnany ofhis illustrations. Thus 
he has llOt omitted to mention the fatal significance of 
howl, which is supposed either to foretell death or misfort- 
une. In " 2 Henry VI." (i. 4) he makes 7Bolingbroke say: 
"The time when screech-owls cry, and ban-dogs howi,  
And spirits walk, and ghosts break up their graves." 

' '" De Proprietate Rerum," lib. xviii, c. 3 o. 
= Cf. Vergil's description of the wounded stag in %-Eneid,'" bk. vii. 
a Commentary on Bartholomaeus's '" De Proprietate Rerum." 
 The drops which fall from their eyes are hot tears Irom the lach- 
D, mal glands, but an oily secretion from the inner angle of the eye 
close to the nose.--Brewer's '" Dictionary of Phrase and Fable," p. 2I 7. 
» " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. t8 3. 
 These dogs were kept for baiting bears, when that amusement was 



I82 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
And, again, in " 3 Henry VI." (v. 6), King Henry, speaking 
of Glostcr, says : 
« Thc owl shriek'd at thy birth,--an evil sign ; 
The night-crow cried, aboding luckless rime; 
Dogs howl'd, and hideous tempests shook down trees." 
The saine superstition pre'ails in France and Germany,' and 
,«arious charms are resortcd to for averting the ill-conse- 
quences supposed to attach to this sign of ill-omen. Several 
of these, too, are practised i out OWll country. Thus, in 
Staffordshire, whcn a dog howls, the following advice is 
givcn: "Take off your shoc ff-oto the lcff foot, and spit 
upon the sole, place it on the ground bottom upwards, and 
your foot upon thc place you sat upon, which x'ill hot only 
preserve you ffoto harm, but stop the howling of the dog. '' 
A similar rcmcdy is recommendcd in Norfolk : " Pull off 
your left shoc, and turn it, and it x,ill quiet him. A dog 
won't howl thrce times after." \Ve are indcbted to antiq- 
uity for this superstition, some of thc earliest writcs refer- 
rbg to it. Thus, Pausanias relates how, previous to the de- 
struction ofthe Messenians, the dogs pierced the air by rais- 
ing a loudcr barking than usual; and it is on record how, 
bcfore thc sedition in Rome, about the dictatorship of Pom- 
pey, thcre was a extraordbary howling of dogs. Vergil * 
(" Gcorgic," lib. i. 1.47o), speaking of the Roman misfortunes, 
says : 
"Obscenoeque canes, importunoeque volucres 
Signa dabant." 
Capitol[nus narrates, too, how the dogs, by their howling, 
presaged the death of Maximinus. The idea which asso- 
ciates the dog's howl with the app'oach of dcath is probably 
in vogue, and "from their terrific howling they are occasionally intro- 
duced to heighten the horror of the picture." Nares's "Glossary,'" 
vol. i. p. 50. 
 See Kelly's "Indo-European Folk-Lore," p. o9. 
 Henderson's " Folk-Lore of the Northern CounGes," p. 48. 
 See " Ènglish Folk-Lore," p. o. 
« See Hardvick's "Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-Lore," p. 17 I. 



ANIMALS. 
derived from a conception in Aryan mythology, which rcp- 
resents a dog as summoning thc dcparting soul. Indced, as 
Mr. Fiske  remarks, " Throughout all Aryan mythology, the 
souls of thc dcad are supposcd to ride on thc night-wind, 
with thcir howling dogs, gathcring into thcir throng the 
souls of those just dyinx as thcy pass by their bouses." 
Anothcr popular superstition--in all probability dcrived 
from the Egyptians--refcrs to the settin?:; and rising of Siri- 
us, or thc do-star, as infusing madncss into the caninc race. 
Hcnce thc namc of the "dog-days" was givcn by the Ro- 
mans to the pcriod bctwcen thc 3d of July and thc  th of 
Auust, to which Shakcspcarc alludcs in " Ifcnry VIII." 
(v. 3) : " thc dog-da)'s now rcin." VVe ma)-, too, compare 
thc words of Bcnvolio, in " Romco and Julict" (iii. ): 
" For now, thcse hot days, is thc mad blood stirring." 
It is obvious, howcvcr, that this supcrstition is uttcrly ground- 
lcss, for hOt only does thc star vary in its rising, but is later 
and latcr evcry ycar. Thc terre " do-day" is still a coin- 
mon phrase, and it is difficult to saywhcther it fs from super- 
stitious adhcrcnce to old custom, or from a bclicf in thc in- 
jurious cffcct of heat upon dogs, that the tuagistratcs, oftcn 
unwiscly, at this season ofthe ycar ordcr thcm to bc muzzlcd 
or tied up. It was the practice to put thcm to dcath; and 
Ben Jonson, in his " Bartholomcw Fair," spcaks of" thc dog- 
killer" in this month of August. Lord Bacon, too, 
"Sylva Sylvarum," tclls us that " it is a common cxpcrience 
that dogs know thc dog-killcr, whcn, as in timcs of infection, 
some pctty fellow is sent out to kill thcm. -Mthouh thcy 
bave noyer seen him before, :),et thcy will all corne forth and 
bark and ff)- at him." 
A " curtal do?:,'," to which allusion is ruade in " Mcrry 
Wives of Windsor" (ii. I), by Pistol-- 
" Hope is a curtal dog in some affairs," 
denoted "orixinally the dog of an unqualified pcrson, which, 
by thc forest laws, must have its rail cut short, partly as a 

 " Myths and Mythmakers," 873, p. 36. 



184 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
mark, and partly from a notion that the tail of a dog is nec- 
essary to him in running." In later usage, curtai/d« means 
either a common dog, hot meant for sport, or a dog that 
missed thc gamc, which latter sense it has in the passage 
above.  
J)raZon. As the type and embodimcnt of the spirit of 
cvil, thc dragon has bcen ruade thc subject of an extensive 
legendary lofe. The well-known myth of St. George and 
the Dragon," which may be regarded as a grand allegory 
rcprcsenting the hideous and powerfld monster against whom 
the Christian soldicr is callcd to fight, has exercised a re- 
ma|kablc influcncc for good in times past, over half-instruct- 
ed people. It has bcen truly rcmarkcd that "thc dullest 
mi|ad and hardest hcart could hot rail to learn from it some- 
thing of the hatcfulness of evil, the beauty of self-sacifice, 
and the all-conquering might oftruth." This graceful con- 
ception is alluded to by Shakespeare, in lais " King John" 
(ii. ), whcre, according to a long-established custom, it is 
ruade a subjcct for sign-painting:  
"St. George, that swinged the dragon, and e'er since, 
Sits on his horseback at mine hostess' door, 
Teach us some fence !" 
In ancicnt mythology the task of drawing the chariot of 
night was assigned to dragons, on account of their supposed 
watchfulness. In " Cymbcline" (ii. 2) Iachimo, addressing 
them, says : 
"Swift, swift, you dragons of the night, that dawning 
May bare the raven's eye !"  
Milton, in lais " Il Penseroso," mentions the dragon yoke 
of night, and in his " Comus" (1. 3o) : 
"the dragon womb 
Of Stygian darkness." 

" Nares's Glossary, vol. i. p. _8. 
For the various versions of this myth consult Baring-Gould's '° Cu- 
rious Myths of the Middle Ages," I877, pp. 266-316. 
Cf. "Troilus and Cressida," v. 8; "Midsummer-Night's Dream," 



ANIMALS. 18 5 
It may be noticcd that the whole tfibe of serpents sleep 
with their eyes open, and so appear to exert a constant 
watch flflness.' 
In devis{n loathsome inzred{ents for thc witchcs' mess, 
Shakespeare (," Macbeth," iv. I) speaks of " the scale of 
draon," alluding to the horror in which this mythical being 
was held. Rcferring-, also, to thc numerous legends asso- 
ciated with its dread form, he mentions " the spleen of ficry 
dragons " ç" Richard III.," v. 3), " dragon's wings " (" I I-Ien- 
ry VI.,'" i. ), and (" l'ericles," i. ), "dcath-like drazons." 
Mr. Conway  has admirably summcd up the gcncral vicws 
respectin this imaginary source of terror: " NcarIy all the 
dragon forms, whatcver thcir original types and thcir rcgion, 
are reprcscnted in the conventional monstcr of the ILuro- 
pean stage, which meets the popular conception. The drag- 
on is a masterpiece of the popular imagination, and it re- 
quired many gencrations to give it artistic shapc. Ivery 
Christmas he appears in some London pantomime, with as- 
pect similar to that which ho bas worn for manyagcs. IIis 
body is partly green, with the memories of thc sea and of 
slime, and partly brown or dark, with lineriu shadow of 
storm clouds. The li.htnin flames still in his red cyes, 
and flashes from his fire-breathing mouth. The thtmder- 
bolt of Jove, the spear of \Vodan, are in the barbcd point 
of his rail. His hue wings--bat-like, spiked--sum up all 
the mythical lire ofcxtinct harpics and vampircs. Spinc of 
crocodile is on his neck, tail of the serpent, and all the ja- 
ged ridges of rocls and sharp thorns of jungles bristle around 
him, while the ice ofglaciers and brassy glitter of sunstrokes 
are in his scales. He is ideal ofall that is hard, obstructive, 
perilous, loathsome, horrible in nature ; every detail of him 
has been seen throuh and vanquished b)- man, hcre or 
there, but in selection and combination they fise aain 
as principles, and conspire to form one grcat generaliza- 

t Smer s " Shakcspeare," vol. x. p. 363. 
 " Demonolog'y and Devil-Lore," I88o, vol. i. p. 383. 



I86 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
tion of the forms of pain--the SUln of every creature's 
worst."  
t/c/,/za«t. According to a vulgar error, currcnt in bygone 
timcs, thc elcphant was supposed to have no joints--a no- 
tion which is said to have been first recorded from tradition 
by Ctesias thc Cnidian.  Sir Thomas Brownc has entered 
largely into this superstition, arguing, from rcason, anatomy, 
and general analogy with othcr anilnals, the absurdity of the 
crror. In " Troilus and Cressida" (ii. 3), Ulysscs says : " The 
elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy : his lcgs are legs 
for ncccssity, hot for flcxure." Steevens quotcs from "The 
Dialogues of Crcaturcs Mol'alized"--a curious spccimen of 
out earl)" natural history--the following: " the olcfawnte 
that bowyth hot the kncys." In thc play of".\ll Fools," 
I6o 5 , we rcad: " I hope you are no elephant--you have 
joints." In a note to Sir Thomas Brownc's \Vorks,  we 
are told, " it has long bcen thc custom for thc cxhibitors of 
itinerant collections of wild animals, when showing the ele- 
phant, to lnention the story of its having no joints, and its 
consequent inability to kneel; and they nevcr fail to think 
it neccssary to demonstratc its untruth by causing the ani- 
mal to bond one of its fore-lcgs, and to kncel also." 
In " Julius C,'esar" (il. ) the custom ofscducing clcphants 
into pitfalls, lightly covercd with hurdlcs and turf, on which 
a proper bait to tempt theln was exposed, is alluded to.  
Decius speaks of elephants being betrayed " with holes." 
/'o.r. It appcars that the terre fox was a comlnon ex- 
pression for the old English weapon, the broadsword of Jon- 
son's days, as distinguishcd from the small (forcign) sword. 
The naine was given ff-oto the circumstance that Andrea 
Ferrara adopted a fox as the blade-mark of his weapons-- 
a practice, since his time, adopted by other foreign sword- 
cutlers. Swords with a running fox rudely engraved on 

The dragon formerly constituted a part of the morris-dance. 
Sir Thomas 13rowne's Works, 852, vol. i. pp. 220-232. 
Edited by Simon Wilkin. I852, vo1. i. p. 226. 
See Pliny's "Natural History," bk. viii. 



ANIMALS. ! 87 
the blades are still occasionally to be met with in the old 
curiosity shops of London.' Thus, in " Henry V." (iv. 4), 
Pistol says : 
" O Signieur Dew. thou diest on point of fox, 
Except. O signleur, thou do give to me 
Egregious ransom." 

In Ben Jonson's " Bartholomew Fait" (ii. 6) the expression 
occurs: " What would you bave, sister, of a fdlow that 
knows nothing but a basket-hilt, and an old fox in it ?" 
The tricks and artifices of a huntcd fox xvcre supposcd to 
be vcry cxtraordinary ; hence Falstaff makes use of this ex- 
pression in "  Henry IV." (iii. 3): "No more truth in thce 
than in a drawn fox." 
Goat. It is curious that the harmless goat should have 
had an evil naine, and been associatcd with devil-lore. 
Thus, there is a common superstition in England and Scot- 
land that it is noyer sccn for twcnty-four hours together; 
and that once in this space it pays a visit to the dcvil, in 
ordcr to have its beard combcd. It was, formerly, too, a 
popular notion that the devil appeared flequently in the 
shape of a goat, which accounted for his horns and tail. Sir 
Thomas Browne observes that the goat was the emblem of 
the sin-offering, and is the cmblem of sinful mon at the day 
ofjudgment. This ma)', perhaps, account for Shakespeare's 
enumerating the "gall of goat" (" Macbeth," iv. ) among 
the ingrcdients of the witches' caldron. His object seems 
to have been to include the most distasteful and ill-omened 
things imaginable--a practice shared, indeed, by other poets 
contemporary with him. 
Igare. This was formerly esteemed a melancholy animal, 
and its flesh was supposed to engender melancholy in those 
who ate it. This idea was hot confined to our own country, 
but is mentioned by La Fontaine in one of his " Fables" 
(liv. ii. fab. 4) : 

Staunton's '" Shakespeare,"  864, vol. ii. p. 367 ; Nares's "GlossarT," 
vol. i. p. 33- 



188 

FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 

" Dans un profond ennui ce lievre se plongeoit, 
Cet animal est triste, et la crainte le rounge ;" 
and later on he says: "Le melancolique animal." Hence, 
in " I Henry IV." (i. 2), Falstaff is told by l'rince I[enry 
that he is as melancholy as a hare. This notion was not 
quite forgotten iii Swift's time ; for in his " l'olite Conversa- 
tion," Lad)- Answerall, being asked to eat hare, replies : " No, 
madam; they say 'tis melancholy meat." Mr. Staunton 
quotes the following extract from Turbervile's book on 
Hunting and Falconry: " The hare first taught ris the use 
of the hearbe called wyld succory, which is very excellent 
for those which are disposed to be mclancholicke. She hot- 
self is one of thc most mclancholicke beasts that is, and to 
heale her own infirmitie, she gocth commonly to sit under 
that hearbe." 
The old Greck cpigraln relating to the hare-- 

"Strike ye my body, noxv that life is fled ; 
So hares insult the lion when he's dead," 

--is alluded to by the Bastard in " King John " (il. 

"You are the hare of whom the proverb goes, 
Whose valour plucks dead lions by the beard." 

A familiar expression among sportsmen for a hare is " Wat," 
so called, perhaps, from its long ears or wattles. 111 "Venus 
and Adonis" the tern occurs: 

'" By this. poor Wat. far off upon a hill, 
Stands on his hinder legs, with listening ear." 

In Drayton's " Polyolbion" (xxiii.) we read : 

"The man whose vacant mind prepares him to the sport, 
The finder sendeth out, to seek out nimble V'at, 
Which crosseth in the field, each furlong, every fiat, 
Till he this pretty beast upon the form hath round." 

t[«d, gchog. The urchin or hedgehog, like the toad, for its 
solitariness, the ugliness of its appearance, and from a popu- 
lar belief that it sucked or poisoned the udders of cows, was 
adopted into the demonologic system; and its shape was 



ANIMALS. 1 8 9 
sometimes supposed to bc assumed by mischievous elvcs.' 
Hence, in " The Tempest" (i. 2), l'rospero says : 
"Urchins 
Shall, for that vast of nlght that they may work, 
All exercise on thee ;" 
and later on in the saine play (il. 2) Caliban speaks of being 
frighted with " urchin shows." In the witch scene iii " Mac- 
beth" (iv. I) the hedgepig is representcd as one of the 
witches' familiars ; and iii the " Midsummer-Night's Dream" 
(ii. 2), in the incantation of the fairies, " thorny hcdgehogs" 
are exorcised. For the use of urchins in similar associations 
we may quote " Merry \Vives of \Vindsor" (iv. 4), " like ur- 
chins, ouphcs, and fairics ;" and " Titus Andronicus" (il. 3), 
" ten thousand swelling toads, as many urchils."" In the 
phrase still current, of " little urchin" for a child, the idea 
of the fairy also rcmains. In various legends we find this 
animal holding a prominent place. Thus, for example, it 
was in the form of a hedgehog  that the dcvil is said to have 
madc his attempt to let the sea in through the Blightol 
Downs, which was prevented by a light being brought, 
though the seriousness of the scheme is still attested in the 
Devil's Dyke. There is an ancicnt tradition that when the 
devil had smuggled himself into Noah's Ark he tricd to sink 
it by boring a hole ; but this schelne was defeated, and the 
human race saved, by the hedgehog stuffing himself into the 
hole. In the Brighton story, as Mr. Conway points out, the 
devil would appear to have rcmembered his former failure in 
drowning people, and to have appropriated the form which 
defeated hiln. In " Richard III." (i. 2), the hedgehog is used 
as a terln of rcproach by Lady _Aime, when addressing 
Gloster. 
_tforsc. Although Shakespeare's allusions to the horse are 
most extensive, yet he has said little of the many widespread 
superstitions, legends, and traditional tales that have been 

 Singer's "Shakespeare." vol. ix. p. 75- 
 See Wright's Notes to "The Tempest," I875, p. 94. 
 Conway's " Demonology and Devil-Lore," 88o, vol. i. p. 22. 



I90 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
associated from the carliest timcs with this brave and intel- 
lectual animal. Indeed, even nowadays, both in out own 
country and abroad, many a fairy tale is told and credited 
by the peasantry in which the horse occupies a prominent 
place. It seems to have been a common notion that, at 
night-timc, fifirics in thcir nocturnal revels played various 
pranks with horses, often entangling in a thousand knots 
their hair--a superstition to which we referrcd in our chap- 
ter on Fairies, where Mercutio, in " Romeo and Juliet " (i. 4), 
says: "This is that ver)- Mab 
That plats the manes of horses in the night, 
And bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs, 
Which, once untangled, much misfortune bodes." 
I11 " King Lear" (il. 3), Edgar says: " I'll . . . elfall my hair 
in knots.'" 
Mr. Hunt, in his " Popular Romances ofthe \\'est of Eng- 
land" (I87 I, p. 87), tells us that, when a boy, he was on a 
visit at a farmhouse near Fowey River, and well remembers 
the fariner, with much sorrow, telling the part)" one morning 
at breakfast, how " the piskie people had been riding Tom 
again." The lnane was said to be knotted into fairy stirrups, 
and the fariner said he had no doubt that at least twenty 
small people had sat upon the horse's neck. V'arburton' 
considers that this superstition may havc originated from the 
disease callcd " Plica Polonica." "Witches, too, have gener- 
ally been supposed to harass the horse, using it in various 
ways for their fiendish purposes. Thus, there are numerous 
local traditions in which the horse at night-time has been 
ridden by the witches, and found in thc morning in an al- 
most prostrate condition, bathed in sweat. 
It was a current notion that a horse-hair dropped into 
corrupted water would soon become an animal. The fact, 
however, is that the hair moves like a living thing because 
a number of animalculae cling to it. = This ancient vulgar 
error is mentioned in "Antony and Cleopatra " (i. 2) : 

' Warburton on " Romeo and Juliet." i. 4. 
= Dyce's "Glossary," p. io 4, 



ANIMALS. 19 I 
"much is breeding, 
Which. like the courser's hair, hath yet but life, 
And hot a serpent's poison." 
Steevens quotes from Churchyard's " I)iscourse of Rebell- 
ion,"   7o : 
'. Hit is of kinde much worse than horses heare, 
That lyes in donge, where on vyle serpents brede." 
Dt'. I.ister, in the " Philosophical Transactions," says that 
these animatcd horse-hairs are rem thrcad-worms. ]t was 
asserted that thcse worms moved like scrpents, and were 
poisonous to swallow. Çoleridge tclls us it was a common 
experiment with boys in Cumberland and \Vestmorcland to 
lay a horsc-hair in water, which, whcn rcmoved affer a time, 
would twirl round the finger and sensibly comprcss it--hav- 
ing becomc the supporter of an immense number of small, 
slimy watcr-lice. 
A horsc is said to bave a "cloud in his face" whcn hc 
has a dark-colored spot in his forehead between his eyes. 
This gives him a sour look, and, bcing supposed to indicate 
an ill-tempcr, is cncrally considcred a great blemish. This 
notion is alluded to in "_-ntony and Cleopatra " (iii. 2), 
where Agrippa, speaking of C,-esar, says : 
" He has a cloud in's face," 
whereupon Enobarbus adds : 
" He were the worse for that, were he a horse ; 
So is he, being a man." 
Burton, in his "Anatomy of Melancholy," uses the phrase 
for the look of a woman : " Every loyer admires lais mistress, 
though she be very deformed of herselfe--thin, leane, chitty 
face, have clouds in her face," etc. 
'" To mose in the chine," a phrase we find in " Taming of 
the Shrew" (iii. 2)--" Possessed with the glanders, and like 
to mose in the chine"--refers to a disorder in horses, also 
known as " mourning in the clfine." 
Alluding to the custom associated with horses, we may 
note that a stalking-horse, or stale, was either a rem or arti- 



I9 2 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
ficial one, under cover of which the fowler approached tow- 
ards and shot at lais gaine. Itis alluded to in "As You 
Like It" (v. 4) by the Duke, who says of Touchstone: " He 
uses lais folly like a stalking-horse, and under the presentation 
of tbat lac shoots lais wit." In " Much Ado _About Nothing" 
(il. 3), Claudio says : " Stalk on, stalk on ; the fowl sits. ''1 In 
"Comcdy of Errors" (il. ), Adriana says: " I ara but lais 
stalc," upon which Malonc remarks: ".Adriana undoubtedly 
mcans to compare hcrself to a stalking-horse, bcbind whom 
Antipholus shoots at such gaine as he selects." In "Tam- 
ing of the Shrcw," Katharina says to ber father (i. I) : 
"is it your will 
To make a stale of me amongst these mates ?' 
which, says Singer, means " make an object of mockery." 
o in " 3 I [cnry VI." (iii. 3), \Varwick says : 
'" Had he none else to make a stale but me ?" 
That it was also a bunting terre might bc shown, adds 
Dyce,  by quotations from various old writers. In the in- 
ventories of the wardrobe belonging to King Henry VIII. 
we frequently find the allowance of certain quantities of 
stuff for the purpose of making "stalking-coats and stalking- 
hose for the use of lais lnajesty. '' 
Again, the forchorse of a team was generally gayly orna- 
mentcd with tufts and ribbons and bells. Hence, in "All's 
\Vell That Ends \Vell" (il. ), Bertram complains that, be- 
dizened like one of these animals, he will bave to squire 
ladies at the court, instead of acbieving honor in the wars-- 
"I shall stay here the forehorse to a smock. 
Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry. 
Till honour be bought up. and no sword worn 
But one to dance with." 
A familiar naine for a common horse was " Cut"--either 
ffoto its being docked or gelded--a naine occasionally ap- 

 See Douce's "Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. io6 ; Nares's "Glos- 
sary," vol. ii. p. 83o.  "Glossary," p. 412. 
 See Strutt's "Sports and Pastimes," p. 48. 



ANIMALS. 
plied to a man as a terln of contempt. In " Twelfth Night" 
(il. o,', Sir Toby Belch says: " Scnd for lllOnCV,, knight : if 
thou hast her hot i' the end, call me cut." In'" I llcnry IV." 
(ii. I), th first carrier says: " I prithce. Tom, boat Cut's 
saddle." \Ve may compare, too, what Falstaff says furthcr 
on in the saine play (ii. 4): "I tell thee what, llal, if I tell 
thee a lie, spit in my face, call me horse." Hence, c«ll me 
eu! is the saine as call me /mr«c--both expressions having 
been used. 
In Shakespeare's day a race of horses was the terre for 
what is now called a stud. So in "' Macbcth" (il. 4), Rosse 
says : 
"And Duncan's horses--a thing most strange and certain-- 
Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race, 
Turn'd wild in nature." 
The words " lninions of thcir race," according to Steevens, 
mcan the favorite horses on the race-ground. 
Lt'0«. The traditions and stol'ies of the darker ages 
abounded with examples of the lion's generosit.v. " Upon 
the supposition that these acts of clemcncy wcrc true, Troilus, 
in the passage below, reasons hot improperly I,' Troilus and 
Cressida,' v. 3) that to spare against rcason, by mere instinct 
and pity, became rather a generous beast than a wise man:" 
"Brother. you have a vice of mercy in you, 
Which better fits a lion than a man." 
It is recorded by Pliny" that " the lioll alone of all wild 
animals is gentle to those that hulnble themselves before 
him, and will not touch any such upon their submission, but 
spareth what creature soever licth prostrate belote him." 
Hence Spenser's Una, attended by a lion; and l'erceval's 
lion. in " Morte d'Arthur '" (bk. xiv. c. 6). Bartholom,'eus says 
the lion's " lnercie is known by lnany and oft ensamples : for 
they spare tlaem that lie on the ground." Shakespeare again 
aIludes to this notion in "As You Like It '" (iv. 3) : 

' Singer's "Shakespeare." 1875, vol. vil. p. 277. 
= "' Natural History," bk. viii. c. 9- 
3 



I94 

FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

"for "tis 
The royal disposition of that beast 
To prey on nothing that doth seem as dead." 
It xxas also supposcd that the lion would not injure a royal 
prince. Hence, in " I Henry IV." (il. 4) the Prince says: 
" You are lions too, you ran away upon instinct, you will hot 
touch the true prince ; no, fie !" The saine notion is alluded 
to by Beaumont and Fletchcr in "The Mad Loyer" (iv. 5): 
" Fetch the Numidian lion I brought over : 
If she be sprung from royal blood, the lion 
He'll do you reverence, else-- 
He'll tear ber ail to pieces." 
According to some commentators tliere is an allusion in 
"3 IIenry VI." (i. 3) to the practice of confining lions and 
keeping them without food that they may dcvour criminals 
cxposcd to thcm: 
"So looks the pent-up lion o'er the wretch 
That trembles under his devouring paws." 
35k'. The eycs of the mole are so extremely minute, and 
so perfcctly hid iii its hair, that our ancestors considered it 
blind--a vulgar error, to which rcference is ruade by Caliban 
in " Thc Tcmpcst"/,iv. ) : 
" pray you. tread softly, that the blind mole may not 
Hear a foot fall." 
And again by l'ericles (i. ) : 
"The blind mole casts 
Copp'd hills towards heaven." 
ttence the expression "' blind as a mole." Alexander Ross' 
absurdly speaks of the molc's eyes as only the " forms of 
eyes," given by nature " rather for ornament than for use; 
as wings are given to the ostrich, which never files, and a 
long tail to the rat, which serres for no other purpose but 
to be catched sometimes by it." Sir Thomas Browne, how- 

" Arcana Microcosmi," p. 5 . 



ANIMA LS. 195 
ever, in his " Vulgar Errors '" (bk. iii. c. xviii3,' has, wkh his 
usual mhmtcncss, disproved this idea, rcmarking " that thcy 
have cycs in their hcad is manifcstcd unto any that wants 
them hot in his own." A popular terre for thc molc was the 
" moldvarp" or " mouldiwarp, ''" so callcd from thc Anglo- 
Saxon, denoting turning thc mould. Thus, in " I Ilcnry IV.'" 
(iii. I) Hotspur says: 
"sometime he angers me 
With telling me of the moldwarp and the ant." 
l[otsc. This word was formerly used as a terre of endear- 
ment, from eithcr sex to thc othcr. In this sense it is used 
by Rosalinc in " Love's Labour's Lost" (v. 2) : 
"What's your dark meaning, mouse, of this light word ?" 
and again in " Hamlct" (iii. 4"l- 
$ome doubt exists as to the exact meaning of" Mouse- 
hunt," by Lady Capulet, in " Rolnco and J ulict '" (iv. 4) : 
"Ay, you have been a mouse-hunt in your time, 
But I will watch you from such watching now." 
According to solne, the expression implies "a hunter of gay 
women," mouse having bcen used in this signification.  
Others are of opinion that the stoat' is meant, the smallest 
of the weasel tribe, and others again the polecat. Mr. 
Staunton  tells us that the mouse-hunt is the marten, ail 
animal of the weasel tribe which prowls about for its prcy at 
night, and is applied to any one of rakish propensities. 
Holinshed, in his " Itistory of Scotland" (577, P-I8II, 
quotes flore the laws of Kenneth II., King of Scotland : " If 
a sowe eate her piggcs, let hyr be stoned to dcath and buried, 
that no man eate of hyr fleshe." This offence is probably 
 85"-. vol. i. pp. 3t"-35. 
" See Nares's '" Glossary," vol. il. p. 577 ; Singer's "" Shakespeare," 
vol. v. p. 77. 
s Halliwell-Phillipps's " Handbook Index to Shakcspeare." 866; 
P. 33. 
« Forby's '" Vocabulary of East Anglia." vol. ii. p. 222. 
» Sec Staunton's "' Shakespeare," vol. i. p. 78. 



I96 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
alluded to by Shakespeare in " Macbeth" (iv. I), where the 
witch says : 
• ' Pour in sow's blood, that hath eaten 
Her nine farrow." 
['ol«cat, or Filclwu,. This animal is supposed to be very 
amorous ; and hence its naine, I[r. Stcevens says, was often 
applied to ladies of easy or no virtue. In " Othello" (iv. I) 
Çassio calls Bianca a "fitchew," and in "Troilus and Cressida" 
(-. I) Thersites alludes to it.' 
Iarc«iw. Anothcr naine for this animal was the por- 
pentine, which spelling occurs in " Hamlet " (i. 5) : 
"Like quills upon the fretful porpentine." 
And again, in "e I[enry VI." (iii. ') York spcaks of "a 
sharp-quill'd porpcntine." Ajax, too, in " Troilus and Cres- 
sida" (il. I, applies the terre to Thersites: " do not, porpen- 
tine." In the above passages, however, and elsewhere, the 
word has been altered by editors to porcupine. A_ccording 
to a popular error, the porcupine could dart his quills. They 
are easily detached, very sharp, and slightly barbed, and ,nay 
easily stick to a person's legs, when he is hOt aware that he 
is near enough to touch them.  
R«bbit. In " 2 Henry IV." ,ii. e) this animal is used as a 
terre of reproach, a sense in which it was known in Shake- 
speare's da),. The phrase " cony-catch," which occurs in 
"Taming ofthe Shrew "" (v. I)--" Take heed, Signior Baptista, 
lest )'ou be cony-catched in this business "--implied the act 
of deceiving or cheating a simple person--the cony or rabbit 
being considered a foolish animal2 It has been shown, from 
Dekker's " English Villanics," that the system of cheating 
was carried to a great length in the early part of the seven- 
teenth century, that a collective society of sharpers was called 
"a warren," and their dupes " rabbit- suckcrs," i. e., young 
rabbit or conies.  Shakespeare has once used the term to 

Cf. '" King Lear,'" iv. 6. 
See Nares's '" Glossary,'" vol. il. p. 673- 
Ibid., vol. il. p. 89. 
See D'Israelïs " Curiosities of Literature," vol, iii. p. 78. 



ANIMALS. 97 
express harmlcss roguery, in the " Taming of thc Shrew" 
(iv. I). \\rhen Grumio will hot answer his fcllow-servants, 
cxcept in a jesting way, Curtis says to him: " Crne, you 
are so full of cony-catching." 
Rot. The fanciful idea that rats wcre commonly rhymcd 
to death, in Ireland, is said to have arisen ri-oto some mctrical 
charm or incantation, used thcrc for that purpose, to uhich 
there are constant allusions in old writers. In the "Mer- 
chant of Vcnice " (iv. ) Shylock says: 
"What if my house be troubled with a rat. 
And I be pleased to give ten thousand ducats 
To have it baned ?" 

And in "As You I.ike It" (iii. 2), Rosalind says: " I was 
never so be-rhymed since Pythagoras' time, that I was an 
Irish rat, which I can hardly remembcr." \Ve find it men- 
tioned by Ben Jonson in the " l'oetaster" (v. ) : 

- Rhime them to death, as they do Irish rats, 
In drumming tunes." 

"The reference, however, is generally refcrred, in Ireland," 
says lXlr. Mackay, " to the supposed potency of the verses 
pronounced by the professional rhymers of Ireland, which, 
according to popular superstition, could hOt only drive rats 
to destruction, but could absolutely turn a man's face to the 

back of his head."' 
Sir \V. Temple, in his " 

 "The strange phrase and 

Essay on Poetry," seems to derive 

the superstition that arose out of it seem 

to have been produced by a mistranslation, by the Enlish-speaking 
population of a considerable portion of Ireland, of two Celtic or Gaelic 
words, ran, to ro«r, to shriek, to bellow, to rnake a Kreat noise on a 
wind instrument; and r«mt, to versify, to rhyrne. It is well known 
that rats are scared by any great and persistent noise in the bouse 
which they infest. The Saxon English, as well as Saxon Irish, of 
Shakespeare's time. confounding ramt, a rhyme, with r«n, a roar, fell 
into the error which led to the English phrase as used by Shake- 
speare."--,-Inliqtaria*t «l[a,gazinc and Bibliogr«phcr, 882. vol. ii. p. 9. 
"On Some Obscure Words and Celtic Phrases in Shakespeare." by 
Charles Mackay. 



19 8 FOLK-LORE OF SttAKESPEARE. 
the idea from the Runic incantations, for, after speaking of 
theln in various ways, he adds, "and the proverb of rhyming 
rats to death, came, I suppose, from the saine foot." 
According to a superstitious notion of considcrable anti- 
quity, rats lcaving a ship are considcrcd indicative of mis- 
fortune to a vessel, probably froln the saine idea that crows 
will hot build upon trees that are likely to fall. This idea is 
noticcd by Shakespeare in " The Telnpest "(i. 2), where Pros- 
pero, describing the vesscl in whicb himself and daughtcr 
had been placed, with the view to thcir certain destruction 
at sea, says: 
• ' they hurried us aboard a bark. 
Bore us some leagues to sea ; where they prepared 
A rotten carcass of a boat. not rigg'd. 
Nor tackle, sali. nor toast ; the very rats 
Instinctively bave quit it." 
The Sld/,pi( Ga.':t'ttc of April, 1869, con tained a communi- 
cation entitled, "A Sailor's Notion about Rats," in which 
the following passage occurs" " It is a wcll-authenticated 
fact that rats have often been l«aown to leavc ships in the 
harbor previous to their being lost at sea. Some of those 
wiseacres who want to convince us against the evidence of 
out senses will call this superstition. As neither I have time, 
nor 3"ou space, to cavil with such at present, I shall leave 
them alone in their glory." The fact, however, as Mr. Hard- 
wick bas pointed out in his " Traditions, Superstitions, and 
Folk-lore" (1872, p. 25I), that rats do somctimes Inigrate 
from one ship to another, or from one barn or corn-stack to 
anothcr, from various causes, ought to be quite suflîcient to 
cxplain such asuperstition. Indeed, a storyis told of a cun- 
ning \Velsh captain who wanted to get rid of rats that in- 
fested his ship, then lying in the Mersey, at Liverpool. Hav- 
ing round out that there was a vessel laden with cheese in 
the basin, and getting alongside of ber about dusk, he left 
ail lais hatches open, and waited till ail the rats wcre ila lais 
neighbor's ship, alad then moved off. 
Szail. A common amuselnent among children consists in 
charming snails, in order to induce them to put out their 



ANIMALS. 199 
horns--a couplet, such as the following, bcing repeated on 
the occasion : 
" Peer out. peer out, peer out of your hole, 
Or else I'll beat you as black as a coal." 
In Scotland, it is regardcd as a tokcn of fine weathcr if the 
snail obcy the command and put out its ]lOrll : 1 
" Snailie. snailie, shoot out your horn. 
And tell us if it will be a honnie day the morn." 
ghakespcare alludcs to snail-charming in the " Mcrry 
Wives of \Vindsor" I, ir. 2), whcre M,s. Page sa.vs of M,s. 
Ford's husband, he " so buffcts himself on the forehead, cry- 
ing, P,','r on! ! .p'cr ot ! that any madness I ever yct behcld 
seemcd but tameness, civility, and patience, to this his dis- 
temper he is in now." In " Comedy of Errors" {il. 2}, the 
snail is used to dcnote a lazy person. 
Tirer. It was an ancient bclicf that this animal roared 
and raged most furiously in stormy and high winds--a piece 
of folk-lore alluded to in " Troilus and Cressida" I,i. 3}, by 
Nestor, who says : 
'" The herd bath more annoyance by the breese 
Than by the tiger; but when the splitting wind 
Makes flexible the knees of knotted oaks, 
And flics fled under shade, why then, the thing of courage, 
As roused with rage, with rage doth sympathize." 
[_/)dcor«. In " Julius Cmsar" (il. I) Decius tells how " uni- 
corns may be betray'd with trees," alluding to their tradi- 
tionary mode of capture. They are reported to have been 
taken by one who, running behind a tree, eluded the violent 
push the animal was making at him, so that his horn spent 
its force on the trunk, and stuck fa.qt, detaining the animal 
till he was despatched by the hunter.= In Topsell's" History 
of Beasts" (658, p. 557),we read of the unicorn : " He is an 
enemy to the lions, wherefore, as soon as ever a lion seeth a 

See '" English Folk-Lore," 878. p. i2o. 
Sec Brewer's " Dictionary of Phrase and Fable," p. 922. 



200 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
unicortl, he runneth to a tree for StlCCOtlr, that so whcn the 
unicorn maketh force at him, he may hOt only avoid his 
horn, but also destroy him ; for the unicorn, if1 the swiftness 
of his course, runneth against the tree, wherein his sharp 
horn sticketh fast, that when the lion seeth the unicorn fast- 
ened by the horn, without all danger he falleth upon him 
and killcth him." \Vith this passage we tl]ay compare the 
following ffoto Spenser's '" I:airy Queen " {,bk. il. canto 5) : 
" Like as a lyon. whose imperiall power 
A prowd rebellious unicorn defyes. 
T' avoide the rash assault and wrathful stowre 
(}f his fiers foe. him to a tree applyes. 
And when him ronning in full course he spyes, 
He slips aside : the whiles that furious beast 
I-Iis predous home. sought of his enimyes 
Strikes in the stocke, ne thence can be releast, 
Itlt to the mighty victor yields a bounteous feast." 
llé«s«L To meet a weasel was formerly considered a bad 
omen.  That may be a tacit allusion to this superstition in 
" Lucrcce " Il. 3oïj : 
" Night-wandering weasels shriek to see him there ; 
They fright him, yet he still pursues his fear." 
It appears that weascls were kept in bouses, instead ofcats, 
for the purpose of killing vermin. Phœedrus notices this 
their feline office in the first and fourth fables of his fourth 
book. The supposed quarrelsomeness of this animal is 
spoken of by l'isanio in " Cymbeline" (iii. 4, who tells 
hnogen that she must be " as quarrelous as the weasel ;" 
and in"  Henry IV."(ii. 3), Lady Pcrcy says to Hotspur: 
"A weasel bath hot such a deal of spleen 
As you are toss'd with." 
This character of the weasel is hot, howevcr, generally 
mentioned by naturalists. 

' See 13rand's " Pop. Antiq.," I849, vol. iii. p, 283. 



CHAPTER VIII. 
PLANTS. 
THAT Shakespeare possessed an extensive knowledge of 
the history and superstitions associated with flowers is cri- 
dent, from even only a slight perusal of his plays, dkpart 
from the extensive use which he has ruade of these lovely 
objects of nature for the purpose of embellishing, or adding 
pathos to, passages here and thcre, he has also. with a mas- 
ter hand. interwoven many a little Icgend or superstition, 
thereby infusing an additional force into his writings. Thus 
we know with what effect he has ruade use of the willow in 
"Othello," in that touching passage where Desdelnona 
(iv. 3, anticipating her death, relates how her mother had a 
maid called Barbara: 
• ' She was in love ; and he she lov'd prov'd mad. 
And did forsake her ; she had a song of willov, 
An old thing "twas. but it express'd ber fortune, 
And she died singing it : that song, to-night, 
Will hot go from my mind." 
In a similar lnanner Shakespeare has frequent]y introduced 
flowers with a wondcrful aptness, as in the case of poor 
Ophelia. Those, however, desirous of gaining a good 
insight into Shakespeare's knowledge of flovers, as illus- 
trated by his pla.vs, would do well to consult Mr. Ella- 
combe's exhaustive work on the " Plant-Lofe of Shake- 
speare," a book to which we are much indebted in the 
fi»llowing pages, as also to Mr. Biesly's "Shakespeare's 
Garden." 
qco¢ic.  This plant, from the deadly virulence of its 
juice, which, Mr. Turner says, " is of all poysones the most 

 .4co«i[um n,@dlus, Wolf's-bane or Monk's-hood. 



202 FOLK-LOR.E OF SHAKESPEARE. 
hastie poysone," is comparcd by Shakespeare to gunpowdcr, 
as in " 2 Itcnry IV." (iv. 4) : 
"the united vessel of their blood, 
Mingled with renom of suggestion, 
As, force perforce, the age will pour it in, 
Shall never leak, though it do work as strong 
As aconitum, or rash gunpowder." 
It is, too, probably alludcd to in thc following passage in 
" Romeo and Julict " (v. ), wherc RolCO says : 
"let me bave 
A drain of poison : such soon-speeding gear 
As will disperse itself through ail the veins, 
That the life-weary taker may fall dead ; 
And that the trunk may be discharg'd of breath 
As violently, as hasty powder fir'd 
Doth hurry from the fatal cannon's womb." 
According to Ovid, it dcri-ed its name ff-oto growing upon 
rock (Metamorphoses, bk. vil. 1.48) : 
" Quae, quia nascuntur, dura vivacia caute, 
Agrestes aconita vocant." 
It is probably derived ff-oto the Greek a,;,,,ro,:, "without a 
struggle," in allusion to the intensity of its poisonous quali- 
ties. Vergil' spcaks of it, and tells us "how the aconite 
deccives the wrctchcd gathcrcrs, because often mistaken for 
some harmless plantS" Thc ancients fabled it as the inven- 
tion of Hccate,  who caused the plant to spring l-fore the 
foam of Cerberus, when Hercules draggcd him from the 
gloomy regions of Pluto. Ox'id pictures the stepdame as 
preparing a deadly potion of aconite (lIetamorphoses, bi« i. 
1. 47) : 
" Lurida terribiles miscent aconita noverca." 
In hunting, the ancients poisoned their arrows with this 
venomous plant, as" also when following their mortal brutal 

"Miseros fallunt aconita !egentis" (Georgic, bk. ii. 1.  52). 
See Ellacombe's " Plant-Lofe of Shakespeare," I878. pp. 7, 8. 
Dr. Prior's " Popular Names of British Plants," I87O, pp. I, 2. 



PLANTS. 203 
trade of slaughtering their fellow-creatures."' Numerous in- 
stances are on record of fatal results through persons eat- 
ing this plant. In the "Philosophical Transactions" (732, 
vol. xxxvii.) we read of a man who was poisoned in that 
year, by eating some of it in a salad, instead of celery. Dr. 
Turner mentions the case of some Frenchmen at Antwerp, 
who, eating the shoots of this plant for mastcrwort, all dicd, 
with the exception of two, in forty-eight hours. The aconi- 
tum is equally pernicious to animals. 
AJawzow. This favorite flower of eal-l)" st»ring is probably 
alh, ded to in the following passage of " Venus and .\donis :" 
" By this, the boy that bv her side lay kill'd 
,Vas melted like a vapour from ber sight ; 
And in his blood, that on the ground lay spill'd, 
A purple flower sprung up. chequer'd with white, 
ResemLiing weil his pale cheeks, and the blood 
Which in round drops upon their whiteness stood." 
According to Bion, it is said to have sprung from the tears 
that Venus wept over the body of Adonis: 
"Alas, the Paphian ' fair Adonis slain ! 
Tears plenteous as his blood she pours amain, 
But gentle flowers are born, and bloom around ; 
From every drop that falls upon the ground 
,¥here streams his blood, there blushing springs the rose, 
And where a tear has dropp'd a wind-flower blows." 
Other classical writers make the alaemone to be the flower 
of Adonis. Mr. Ellacolnbc " says that although Shakespeare 
does hOt actually naine the anelnone, 3-et the evidence is in 
favor of this plant. The "purple color," he adds, is no 
objection, for purple in Shakespeare's time had a very wide 
signification, meaning ahnost any bright color, just as "pu,'- 
pureus" had in Latin? 
Appk'. Although Shakespeare has so frequently intro- 
duced the apple into his plays, yet he has abstained from 

1 Phillips, " Flora Historica," 8 9, vol. il. pp. 122, I28. 
= " PlantLore of Shakespeare." pp. Io, I . 
 Phillips," Flora Historica," 829, vol. i. p. 1o 4. 



204 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
alluding to the extensive folk-lore associated with this favor- 
ite riuit. Indeed, beyond mentioning some of the popular 
nicknames by which the apple was l«own in his da),, little is 
said about it. The terre apple was hot originally confined 
to the f,uit now so called, but was a generic naine applied 
to any ri'uit, as we still speak of the love-apple, pine-apple, 
etc.", So whcn Shakespeare (Sonnet xciii.) makes mention 
of Eve's apple, ho simply means that it was some ri-uit that 
grcw in Eden : 
"How like Eve's apple doth thv beauty grow. 
If thy sweet virtue answer hOt thy show." 
(a) The " ai,plc-John," called in France ,kw.r-a,m«s or 
d«u.r-a¢s, bccause it will kecp two years, and considered to 
be in perfection whcn shrivelled and withered, " is evidently 
spoken of in " tlenry IV." (iii. " 
a), where I«alstaff says: 
" My skin hangs about me like an old lady-'s loose goxw : I 
ara withcrcd like an old applc-John." In "e Henry IV." 
I, ii. 4) there is a further allusion • 
sl Dravt,o'. "Vhat the devil hast thou brought there ? apple-Johns? 
thou know'st Sir John cannot endure an apple-John. 
2d'/Dra'rg,cr. Mass. thou sayest true. The prince once set a dish of 
apple-J«hns before hiln, and told him there were rive more Sir Johns, 
and. putting off his bat. said.' I will now take my leave of these six 
dry, round, old, withered knights."" 
This apple, too, is well described by Phillips (" Cider," bk. i.) : 
" Nor John Apple, whose wither'd rind. cntrench'd 
By many a furrow, aptly represents 
Decrepit age." 
In Ben Jonson's " Bartholommv Fair" (i. I), where Little- 
wit encourages Quarlus to kiss his wife, he says : " she may 
call 3"ou an apple-John if you use this." Here apple-John  
1 Ellacombe's " Plant-Lore of Shakespeare," p. 3- 
"-' Dyce's " Glossary to Shakespeare," p.  5- 
 See Nares's "Glossary." vol. il. p. 2 9 ; probably synonymous with 
the term "apple-Squire," which formerly signified a pimp. 



PLANTS. 205 
evidently mcans a procuring John, besidcs the allusion to 
the ri'uit so called.' 
(b) The "bitter-sweet, or sweeting," to which Mercutio 
alludes in " Romeo and Juliet" (ii. 4] : "Thy wit is a very 
bitter sweeting; it is a most sharp sauce;" was apparcntly 
a favorite apple, which furnished many allusions to poets. 
Gowcr, in his " Confcssio Amantis" (1554, fol. lî4, spcaks 
ofit: 
" For ail such rime of love is iore 
And like unto the billet sa,cl«, 
For though it thinke a man first sweete, 
He shali weil Ielen atte laste 
That it is sower, and maie hOt laste." 
The naine is "now given to an apple of no great value as 
a table fruit, but good as a cider apple, and for use in silk 
dyeing." = 
(c) The " crab," roasted before the tire and put into aie, 
was a very favorite indulgence, especially at Christmas, in 
days gone by, and is referred to in the song of winter in 
"Love's Labour's Lost" (v. "): 
" When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl 
Then nightly sings the staring owl." 
The beverage thus formcd was called " Lambs-wool," and 
generally consisted of aie, nutnaeg, sugar, toast, and roastcd 
crabs, or apples. It formed the ingredient of the wassail- 
bowl ; and also ofthe gossip's bowl' alluded to in " lqidsum- 
rner-Night's Dream " (ii. ), whcre Puck says" 
"And sometime lurk I in a gossip's bowl, 
In very likeness of a roasted crab, 
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob, 
And on ber wither'd dewlap pour the aie." 
' Forby, in his " Vocabulary of East Anglia," says of this apple, "we 
retain the naine, but whether we mean the saine variety of fruit which 
was so cailed in Shakespeare's rime, it is hOt possible to ascertain." 
" Ëllacombe's " Plant-Lore of Shakespeare,'" p. 6; Dyce's "Giossa- 
ry,'" p. 430 ; Nares's '" Giossary," vol. i. p. 81 ; Coles's " Latin and Ëng- 
lish Dictionary." "A bitter-suete [apple]--Amari-meilum." 
a See chapter xi., Çustoms connected with the Calendar. 
« See chapter on Customs connected wkh Brth and Baptism. 



206 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
In Peele's "Old Wives' Tale," it is said : 

" Lay a crab in the tire to roast for lamb's wool. »' 

And in Ilerrick's " Pocms:" 

" Now crovne the bowle 
With gentle lamb's wooll, 
Add sugar, and nutmegs, and ginger." 
(d) The " codling," spoken of by Malvolio in " Twelfth 
Night " (i. 5)--" Not yct old enough for a man, nor young 
enough for a boy; as a squash is before 'ris a peascod, or a 
codling whcn "tis almost an apple "--is not the variety now 
so called, but was thc popular terre for an immature apple, 
such as wouhl require cooking to bc eatcn, bcing derived 
from " coddle," to stcw or boil lightly--hence it denoted a 
boiling apple, an apple for coddling or boiling." MI-. Gifford  
savs that codling was used by our old writers for that early 
state ofvegctation whcn the fruit, aftcr shaking off the blos- 
soin, began to assume a globular and detcrminate form. 
(«) The "leather-coat" was the apple gencrally known 
as " the golden russeting."  Davy, in " 2 Henry IV." (v. 3), 
says : "There is a dish of leathcr-coats for you." 
(f) The "pippin " was formerly a common terre for an 
apple, to which reference is ruade in " Hudibras Redivi- 
vus " (7o5) : 
"A goldsmith telling o'er his cash, 
A pipping-monger sdling trash." 

In Taylor's " \Vorkes "» (63o) we read : 
" Lord, who would take him for a pippin squire, 
That's so bedaub'd with lace and rich attire ?" 

Edited by Dyce, 186I, p. 446. Many fanciful derivations for this 
word have been thought of, but it was no doubt named from its smooth- 
ness and sofmess, resembling the wool of lambs. 
Dr. Prior's " Popular Names of British Plants," 87o, p. 50. 
Note on Jonson's Works, vol. iv. p. 24. 
Dyce's "Glossary," p. 242. 
Ouoted by Nares's "Glossary," vol. il. p. 662. 



PLANTS. 207 
Mr. Ellacombe  says the word "pippin " dcnoted an apple 
raised from pips and not from grafts, and " is now, and prob- 
ably was in Shakcspeare's rime, confincd to the bright-col- 
ored long-keeping applcs of which thc golden pippin is the 
type." Justice Shallow, in "e Hcnry IV." (v. 3), says : " Nay, 
you shall see my orchard, whcrc, in an arbour, we will eat a 
last year's pippin of my own graffing." 
(ff) The "pomewater " was a species of ai»pie evidently 
of a juicy nature, and hcnce of high esteem in Shakespeare's 
rime ; for in " Love's Labour's Lost " (iv. e Holofernes says : 
"The deer was, as you know, s«ngttis--in blood ; ripe as the 
pomcwater, who now hangeth like a jewel in the ear of ca'fo 
--the sky, the welkin, the heavcn; and anon falleth like a 
crab on the face of tcrra--thc soli, the land, the earth." 
Parkinson " tclls us the " pomewater" is an excellent, good, 
and great whitish apple, fldl of sap or moisture, somewhat 
pleasant, sharp, but a little bitter withal ; it will hOt last long, 
the winter's flost soon causing it to rot and perish. 
It appears that apples and carawavs were formerly ahvays 
eatcn together; and it is said that they are still served up 
on particular davs at Trinitr Collegc, Cambridge. This prac- 
tice is probably alluded to by Justice Shallow, in the much- 
disputed passage in " 2 Ilcnry IV." (v. 3), when hc speaks of 
eating " a last year's pippin .... with a dish of carraways.'" 
The phrase, too, seems flrther explained by the following 
quotations from Cogan's " Haven of Health "' t 1599)- After 
stating the virtues ofthe seed, and some of its uses, he says: 
"' For the saine purpose car«a'«çv s«cds are used to be ruade 
in comfits, and to be eaten with apples, and surcly very good 
for that purpose, for ail such things as breed wind would 
be eaten with other things that break wind." Again, in lais 
chapter on Apples, he says : " Howbeit wee are wont to eat 
carrawaies or biskets, or some other kind of comfits, or seeds 
togethcr with apples, thereby to breake winde ingendred by 
them, and surely this is a verie good way for students." 

 "Plant-Lore of Shakespeare." p. 16. 
 "Theatrum Botanicum," 64o. 



208 FOLK-LORE- OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Mr. Ellacombe,' however, considers that i11 " the dish of car- 
raways," mentioned by Justice Shallow, neither caraway 
seeds, nor cakes ruade of caraways, are meant, but the car- 
away or caraway-russet apple. Most of the commentators 
are in fayot of one of the former explanations. Mr. Dyce 
reads caraxvays in the sense of colnfits or confections ruade 
with caraway-seeds, and quotes from Shadwell's " \Voman- 
Captain " the following : " The riuit, crab-apples, sweetings, 
and horse-phlnabs ; and for confections, a few carraways in a 
small sawcer, as if his worship's bouse had been a lousie 
illll." 
.1ricot. This word, which is spelled by Shakespeare "ap- 
ricock," occurs in " Richard II." (iii. 4], where the gardener 

says : 

"Go, bind thou up yond dangling apricocks, 
Which, like unruly children, make their sire 
Stoop with oppression of their prodigal weight." 
And in "A Midsummcv-Night's Dream " (iii. I) Titania gives 
directions : 
" t3e kind and courteous to this gentleman, 
Feed him witla apricocks, and dewberries." 
The speliing "apricock " is derived from the Latin pra'- 
co.', or;prcecoqtms; and it was called " the precocious tree," 
because it flowercd and fruited earlier than the peach. The 
terre "apricock" is still in use in Northamptonsbire. 
ztslhcm According to a medi,'eval legend, the perpetual 
motion of this tree dates from its having supplied the wood 
of the Cross, and that its leaves bave trembled ever since at 
the recollection of thcir guilt. De Quincey, in lais essay on 
" Modcrn Superstition," says that this belief is coextensive 
with Christendom. The followig verses,' after telling how 
other trees vere passed b.-," in the choice of wood for the 

" Plant-Lore of Shakespeare," pp. 17, 37. 
 "Glossary," pp. 65, 66. 
 See " Notes and Oueries," 2d series, bk. i. p. 42o. 
« See Henderson's " Folk-Lore of Northern Counties," 879, pp.  5 I, 
5 2. 



PLANTS. 209 
Cross, describe the hewing down of the aspen, and the drag- 
ging of it frona the fi»rest to Calvary: 
" On the morrow stood she, trembling 
At the awful weight she bore, 
When the sun in midnight blackness 
Darkened on Judea's shore. 
"Still, when not a breeze is stirring. 
When the mist sleeps on the hill, 
And all other trees are moveless. 
Stands the aspen, trembling still." 
The Germans, says Mr. Hendcrson, have a thcory of thcir 
own, embodicd in a littlc poem, which may bc thus trans- 
lated : 
"Once, as out Saviour walked with men below, 
His path of mercy through a forest lay ; 
And mark how all the drooping branches show, 
What homage best a silent tree may pay. 
"Only the aspen stands erect and free, 
Scorning to join that voiceless worship pure ; 
But see! He casts one look upon the tree. 
Struck to the heart she trembles evermore 
Another legend tells us' that the aspcn was said to have 
been the tree on which Judas hanged himself after the be- 
trayal of his Master, and ever sice its leaves have tremblcd 
with shame. Shakespeare twice alludes to the trembling 
of the aspen. In "Titus _Andronicus" (ii. 4) Marcus ex- 
claires : 
"O. had the monster seen those lily hands 
Tremble, like aspen leaves, upon a lute ;" 
and in "2 Henry IV." (il. 4) the hostess says: " Feel, mas- 
ters, how I shake. Yea, in very truth, do I, an 'twere an as- 
pen leaf." 
t?achclor's t?llllOlS. This was a name given to several 
flowers, and perhaps in Shakespeare's time was more loosely 
applied to any flower in bud. It is now usually understood 
to be a aroubl« ,«ricty of ranunculus; according to others, 

' Napier's " Folk-Lore of West of Scotland," I879, p. 124. 
4 



2IO FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
the L l'«]1is .Ll,l,cslris," and in some counties it is applied 
to the b'«abiasa sccisa.' According to Gerarde, this plant 
was so called ff'oto the similitude of its flowers " to the jag- 
ged ch»athe buttons, anciently worne in this kingdome." It 
was formerly supposed, by country people, to have some 
magical effect upon the fortunes of loyers. Hence it was 
customary for young people to carry its flowers in their pock- 
ets, judging of their good or bad success in proportion as 
these retained or lost their fl'eshness. It is to this sort of 
divination that Shakespeare probably ref«rs in " Merry \Vives 
of \Vindsor" (iii. e), where he makes the hostess say, " \Vhat 
say 3"ou to young l\Iaster Fenton ? he capers, he dances, he 
has eyes of youth, he writes verses, he speaks holiday, he 
smells April and May ; he will carry 't, he will carry 't ; 'tis 
in his buttons; he will carry 't." Mr. \Varter, in one of his 
notes in Southey's '" Commonplace Book " (I85, 4th series, 
p. 244), says that this practice was conlmoll in his time, in 
Shropshire and Staffi»rdshire. The terre " to wear bache- 
lor's buttons" seems to have grown into a phrase for being 
unmarried2 
a[m. Froln very early times the balm, or balsam, has 
been valued for its curative properties, and, as such, is allud- 
ed to in " Troilus and Cressida" (i. ): 
"But. saying thus, instead of oil and balm, 
Thou lay'st in every gash that love hath givml me 
The knife that ruade it." 
In " 3 I Ienry VI." (iv. 8) King Henry says : 
"My pity bath been balm to heal their wounds." 
Alcibiades, in "Timon of Athens" (iii. 5), says : 
• ' Is this the balsam, that the usuring senate 
Pours into captains' wounds ? 13anishment 
Macbeth, too, in the well-known passage il. œe, introduces 
it: 

Dr. Prior's '" Popular Names of British Plants," p. 13. 
Nares's "G!ossary;' vol. i. p. 45- 
See " Richard III.," i. 2 ; "Timon of Athens," iii. 5- 



PLANTS. 

211 

"Sleep that knits up the ravell'd sleave of care, 
The death of each day's lire, sore labour's bath. 
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course, 
Chier nourisher in life's Ieast." 
As the oil of consecration' it is spoken of by King Rich- 
ard (" Richard I I.," iii. 2) : 
" Not all the water in the rough rude sea 
Can vash the balm from an anointed king." 
And again, in " 3 Ilenry VI." (iii. I), King llcnry, when in 
disguise, spcaks thus : 
"Thy place is fill'd, thy sceptre wrung from tbee, 
Tbv bahn wasb'd off wherewith thou wast anointed : 
No bending knee will call thee Cœesar now." 
Thc origin of balsam, savs Mr. Ellacombe," " was for a long 
time a secret, but it is now known to have been the produce 
of sevcral gum-bearing trees, especially the lista«ia l«ttisctts 
and the JYal«amod«m?rot Gil«adcts«, and now, as then, thc 
namc is hot strictly confincd to the produce of any one 
plant." 
arh'_r. The barley broth, of which the Constable, in 
" ttenry V." (iii. 5), spoke so contemptuously as the food of 
English soldiers, was probably beer,  which long bcfore the 
rime of Henry was so cclebrated that it gave its naine to 
the plant (barley being simply the beer-plant) : 
"Can sodden watcr, 
A drench for sur-rein'd jades, their barley broth, 
Decoct their cold blood to such valiant heat ?" 

t?a3,-trcc. The withering and death of this tree were reck- 
oned a prognostic ofevil, both in ancient and modern times, 
a notion' to which Shakespeare refers in " Richard II." (il. 4) : 
""Tis thought, the king is dead ; we will not stay. 
The bay-trees in our country are all wither'd " 

' See "2 Henry IV.,'" iv. 5- 
 " Plant-Lore of Shakespeare," p. 22. 
s Ellacombe's " Plant-Lore of Shakespeare," p. 23. 
* See Dyce's " Glossary,'" p. 32. 



212 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Mhaving obtained it probably from Holinshed, who says: 
" In this yeare, in a manner throughout all the realme of 
Englande, old baie trees withcred." Lupton, in his " Syxt 
Booke of Notable Things," mentions this as a bad omen: 
" Neyther falling-sickness, neyther devyll, wyll infest or hurt 
one in that place whereas a bay-tree is. The Romaynes call 
it the plant of thc good angel." ' 
}iuaui[,'. It was formcrly imagined that this plant grew 
the more luxuriantly for being frequently trodden or pressed 
clown; a notion alluded to in "  ttenry IV." (il. 4) by Fal- 
staff: " For though the camomile, the more it is trodden on 
the faster it grows, )-et youth, the more it is wasted, the soon- 
er it wears." Nares " considers that the above was evident- 
ly written in ridicule of the following passage, in a book very 
fashionable in Shakespeare's day, Lyly's" Euphues," ofwhich 
it is a parody: " Though the camomile, the more it is trod- 
rien and pressed clown, the more it spreadeth ; )-et the vio- 
let, the oftener it is handled and touched, the sooner it with- 
ereth and decayeth," etc. 
Covcr. According to Johnson, the "honey-stalks " in the 
following passage (" Titus Andronicus," iv. 4) are " cIover- 
flowers, which contain a sweet juice." It is hOt uncommon 
for cattle to overcharge themselves with clover, and die, 
hence the allusion by Tamora: 

" I will cnchant the old Andronicus 
With words more sweet, and yet more dangerous, 
Than baits to fish, or honey-stalks to sheep." 

Columbi¢w, This was anciently termed "a thankless flow- 
er," and was also emblematical of forsaken Iovers. It is 
somewhat doubtful to what Ophelia alludes in " Hamlet " 
(,iv. 5], where she seems to address the king: " There's fen- 
nel for you, and columbines." Perhaps she rcgarded it as 
symbolicaI of ingratitude. 
Crow-floa,crs. This naine, which in Shakespeare's rime 

 See also Evelyn's "Sylva," 776, p. 396. 
 "Glossary," vol. i. p. 150 ; see Dyce's "Glossary," p. 63. 



PLANTS. 2 13 
was applied to the " ragged robin," is now used for the but- 
tcrcup. It was one of the flowers that poor Ophelia wove 
into her garland I,'" Hamlet," iv. 7) : 
"There xvith fantastic garlands did she corne 
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples." 
Ç««koo-&td«. Cmmcntators are uncertain to what flower 
Shakespeare rcfcrs in " Love's Labour's Lost" (v. 2): 
"When daisies pied and violets blue, 
And ladv-smocks all silver«vhite, 
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue 
Do paint the meadows vith delight." 
Mr. Millcr, in his " Gardener's Dictionarv. ," says that the 
flower here alluded to is the Ramtmuhs bztlbosus ," but 
Mr. Biesly, in lais " Shakespeare's Garden," considers it to 
be the ]ïa!zmzcullts flcaria (lesser celandine), or pile-wort, as 
this flower appears earlier in swing, and is in bloom at the 
same5 time as the other flowers named in the song. .'Ii. 
Swinfen Jervis, however, in his " Dictionary of the Language 
of Shakespeare" (868), decides in favor of cowslips ;' and 
Dr. Prior suggests the buds of the crowfoot. At the p,es- 
ent day the nickname cuckoo-bud is assigned to the meadow 
cress ( Çardamim" j, ratctsis). 
Çuckao-flazecrs. By this flower, Mr. Biesly' says, the rag- 
ged robin is meant, a well-known meadow and marsh plant, 
with rose-colored flowers and deeply-cut, narrow segments. 
It blossoms at the time the cuckoo comes, hence one of its 
names. In " King Lear" (iv. 4) Cordelia narra'tes how 
"he was met even now 
As mad as the vex'd sea ; singing aloud ; 
Crown'd with tank fumiter, and. furrow weeds, 
XVith burdocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers, 
Darnel, and ail the idle weeds that grow 
In our sustaining corn." 
Cyiprcss. From the earliest times the cypress has had a 

r r » 212. 
 See Nares's " Glossa 3, vol. i. p. 
 Shakespeare s Garden," p. 43. 



2I 4 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
mournfil history, being associated with funerals and church- 
yards, and as such is styled by Spenser " cyprcss funereal." 
In Quarles's "Argalus and l'arthenia" (726, bk. iii.)a 
knight is introduced, whose 
"horse was black as jet. 
His furniture was round about beset 
With branches slipt from the sad cypress tree." 
Formerly coffins wcre frcquently ruade of cypress wood, a 
practicc to which Shakespcare probably alludes in " Twclfth 
Night " (ii. 4), where thc Clown says : " In sad cypress let me 
be laid." Some, however, prefer I understanding cypress to 
lnean "a shroud of cyprus or cypress"--a fine, transparent 
stuff, similar to crape, either white or black, but more com- 
monly the latter. = Douce ' thinks that the expression '" laid" 
seems more applicable to a coffin than to a shroud, and also 
adds that thc shroud is afterwards expressly mcntioned by 
itself. 
I)a_dil. The daffodil of Shakespeare is the wild daffodil 
which grows so abundantly in many parts of England. Per- 
dita, in "\Vinter's Tale" (iv. 4), mentions a little piece of 
weather-lore, and tells us how 
"datïodils. 
That corne belote the swallow dares, and take 
The winds of Match with beauty." 
And Autolycus, in the saine play (iv. 3), sings thus: 
'" When dalïodils begin to peer.-- 
With. heigh  the doxy over the dale. 
Why. then cornes in the sweet o' the year." 
 See " Winter's Tale," iv. 4 : 
" Lawn as white as driven snow : 
Cyprus black as e'er was crow." 
lts transparency is alluded to in '" Twelfth Night," iii.  : 
"a cyprus, nota bosom. 
Hides my heart." 
"- See Dvce's " Glossary," 872. p.  3- 
a Douce's "Illustrations of Shakespeare," 839 , p. 56. See Mr. 
Gough's " Introduction to Sepulchral blonuments,'" p. lxvi.; also 
Nares's "Glossary," vol. i. p. 22I. 



PLANTS. 21 5 
l?arllcL This plant, like the cocklu, was used in Shake- 
spcare's day to denote any hurtful vecd. Newton,' in his 
" Herbal to the Bible," says that " undur the naine of cocklc 
and dalncl is comprchendcd ail vicious, noisolnc, and unprof- 
itable graine, encombring and hindering good corne." Thus 
Cordelia, in " King Lear " (iv. 4/, says : 

'" Darnel, and ail the idle weeds that grow 
In ollr sustaining corn.'" 

According to Gerarde, "darnel hurteth the eyes, and 
maketh them dira, if it happen eithcr in corne for breade or 
drinke." Hcnce, it is said, originated the old provcrb, " lolio 
victitare "--appliud to such as werc dim-sighted. Stccvcns 
considers that l'ucellc, in thc following passage f.,'om ' t I Ien- 
ry VI." (.iii. 2), alludes to this property of thc darnel--mcan- 
ing to intilnate that tlle corn she carried with hcr had pro- 
duced the saine cffect on the guards of Rouen, otherwise 
they would have seen through her disguise and defeated hcr 
stratagem : 

"Good morrow, gallants ! want ye corll for bread ? 
I think the Duke of Burgundy vill fast. 
Before he'll buy again at such a rate : 
'Twas full of darnel : do you like the taste?" 

/?arc. This fruit ofthe pahn-tree was once a common in- 
gredient in ail kinds of pastry, and some other dishes, and 
often supplied a pun for comedy, as, for example, in "All's 
Well That Ends .Vell'" (i. ), where Parolles says: "Your 
date is better in your pie and your porridge, than in vour 
cheek. And in " Troilus and Cressida" {,i. 2/: "Ay, a minced 
man; and then to be baked with no date in the pie; fol- 
then the man's date's out." 
EboIv. The wood of this tree was regarded as thc typi- 
cal emblem of darkness; the tree itself, however, was un- 
known in this country in Shakespeare's time. It is men- 
tiomd in " Love's Labour's Lost " liv. 3): 
 See Dr. Prior's " Popular Names of British Plants," x 87o. p. 63. 



216 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"Aï. By heaven, thy love is black as ebony. 
BZroz. Is ebony like her ? O wood divine '. 
A wife of such wood were felicity." 
In the saine play we read of " the ebon-coloured ink " (i. I), 
and in " Venus and Adonis" (948) of " Dcath's ebon dart." 
Eht'«r. This plant, while surrounded by an extensive folk- 
lore, has from time immemorial possesscd an evil reputation, 
and bccn regarded as oue of bad omen. According to a 
popular tradition " Judas was hanged o11 an elder," a super- 
stition mcntioned by Biron in " Love's Labour's Lost "' (v. 2) ; 
and also by Ben Jonson in " Every Man Out of His Hu- 
mour" (iv. 41: " He shall be vour Judas, and you shall be 
his elder-tree to hang on." In " Piers Plowmau's Vision" 
(II. 593-596) we are told how 
"Judas. he japed 
With jewen silver, 
And sithen on an eller 
Hanged hymselve." 
So firmly rooted xvas this belief ill days gonc by that Sir 
John llandeville tells us in his Travels, which he wrote in 
I364, that he was actually shown the idcntical tree at Jeru- 
salera, "And faste by is zit, the tree of Elder that Judas 
henge hirnself upon, for dcspeyr that he hadde whcn he solde 
and bctrayed oure Lord." This tradition no doubt, in a 
great measure, helped to give it its bad faine, causing it to 
be spoken of as " the stinking elder." Shakespeare makes 
it an emblem of grief. I11 " Cymbeline" (iv. 2) Arviragus 
says : 
"Grow, patience ! 
And let the stinking elder, grief, untwine 
His perishing root with the increasing vine 
Thc dwarf eldcr' (S«zzdztczts cbztlzts) is said only to grow 
where blood bas becn shed either in battle or in murder. 
Thc \Velsh call it " Llysan gward gwyr," or " plant of the 
blood of man." Shakespeare, perhaps, had this piece of 
folk-lore in mind when he represents Bassianus, in " Titus 

 " Flower-Lore," p. 35- 



Andronicus 
tree : 

PLANTS. 217' 
" (ii. 4), as killed at a pit beneath an elder- 
"This is the pit and this the elder tree." 
These were formerly said to be strong provo- 

catives, and as such are mentioned by Falstaff in " Merry 
\Vives of \Vindsor" (v. 51 : " Let the sky rain potatoes ; let 
it thunder to the tune of Green Sleeves, hail kissing comfits, 
and ShOW eringoes." Mr. Ellacombe' thinks that in this 
passage the globe artichoke is meant, " which is a near ally 
of the eryngium, and vas a favorite dish in Shakespcare's 
rime. 
Fa«««/. This was generally considcred as an inflammatory 
herb ; and to eat " conger and fennel " was "to eat two high 
and hot things together,'" which was an act of libertinism. = 
Thus in " ; Henry IV." (il. 4 Falstaff says of Poins, he " eats 
conger and fennel." Mr. Beislv states  that fennel was used 
as a sauce with fish hard of digestion, being aromatic, and as 
the old writers terre it," hot in the third degree." One of 
the herbs distributed by poor Ophelia, in her distraction, is 
fennel, which she offers either as a cordial or as an emblcm 
of flattery : " There's fennel for 3-ou, and columbines." 
Mr. Staunton, however, considers that fclmel hcre signifies 
l«tst, while Mr. Bcisly thinks its reputed property of clearing 
thc sight is alluded to. It is more probable that it denotes 
flattery ; espccially as, in Shakespeare's time, it was regarded 
as emblematical offlattery. In this sense it is often quoted 
by old writers. In Greene's " Quip for an Upstart Courtier," 
• we read," Fennell I meane for flatterers." In '" Phyala Lach- 
rymarum we find : 
"Nor fennel-finkle bring for flatteç-, 
cou rtesle. 
Begot of his, and fained " " 
/w«rt. According to a curious notion fern-seed was sup- 
posed to possess the power of lendering persons invisible. 

 " Plant-Lore of Shakespeare," p. 66. 
 Nares's " Glossary," vol. i. p. 302 ; Dyce's "Glossary," p. I 9- 
 "Shakspere's Garden," p. I 8. 
" Ouoted in Nares's '" Glossary," vol. i. p. 3o3 . 



218 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
I Ience it was a most important object of superstition, being 
gathered mystically, cspecially on Midsumnaer Eve. It vas 
bclicvcd atone timc to have ncithcr flower nor seed; the 
sccd, which lay on the back of the leaf, bcing so small as to 
escapc the dctection of thc hasty obscrver. On this accourir, 
probably, procecding on the fantastic doctrine of signaturcs, 
our anccstors derived thc notion that those who could ob- 
tain and wcar this invisiblc sced would be themsclves invisi- 
ble: a bclicf which is referrcd to in "  l[enry IV." (ii. ): 
"G«ds/eilL We bave the receipt of fern-seed, we walk im'isible. 
Chambcrfiin. Nay, by my faith, I think you are more beholding to 
the night, than to fern-seed, for your walking invisible." 
This supcrstition is mcntioncd by many old writcrs ; a proof 
of its popularity in timcs past. It is alludcd to in Beau- 
mont and Flctchcr's " Fair Maid of thc Inn" (i. ): 
"Did you think that you had Gyges' ring ? 
l)r the herb that gives invisibility ?" 
Again, in Ban Jonson's " New Inn " .i. ): 
" I had 
No medicine, sir, to go invisible, 
No Iern-seed in my pocket." 
As rcccntly as Addison's da) r, we are told in the T«tA'r 
(No. 240) that " it was impossible to walk the streets with- 
out having an advertisement thrust into your hand of a doc- 
tor who had arrived at the knowledge of the green and red 
dragon, and had discovered the female fern-seed. ''' 
/:«'. Formerly the terre fig served as a common expres- 
sion of contcmpt, and was used to denote a thing of the 
least importance. Hence the popular phrase, " hOt to care 
a fig for one;" a scnse in which it is sometimes used by 
Shakespeare, who makes Pistol sa:}', in " Merry \Vives of 
\Vindsor" (i. 3), "a fico for the phrase !" and in " Henry V." 
(iii. 6) Pistol exclaims, " figo for thy friendship !" In "Othel- 
lo" (i. 3) Iago says, " \rirtue ! a fig !" 
The terre " to give or make the fig," as an expression of 
 See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 1849, vol. i. pp. 314-36. 



PLANTS. 2 19 
insult, bas for lnally ages been very prevalent anlong the na- 
tions of Europe, and, according to Douce,' was kllOWll to the 
Romans. It consists in thrusting the thulnb between two 
of the closed fingers, or into the mouth, a practice, as SOllle 
say, - in allusion to a contemptuous pulishlnelt inflicted on 
the Milanese, by the Empcror Fredcric Barbarossa, in I 62, 
when he took thcir city. This, however, is altogcther im- 
probable, the real origin, no doubt, being a coarse represen- 
tation of a disease, to which the namc of fia«s or fig has 
always bcen given2 
The " fig of Spain," spoken of iii " ] [cnry V." (iii. 6), may 
either alludc to the poisoned fig clnployed in St»Mn as a se- 
cret way of dcstroying ail obnoxious pcrsoll, as iii \Vebster's 
" Whitc Devil :"* 

" I do look now for a Spanish lig, or an Italian salad, daily ;" 

and in Shirley's " Brothers :"" 

" I must poison him ; 
One fig sends him to Erebus ;" 

or it may, as Mr. Dyce rcmarks," simply denote contempt or 
insult in the sense already lnentioned. 
Zqozvcr-«h'-luc«. The conllllOll purple iris which adorn« 
our gardens is now generally agreed upon as thc fleur-dc- 
luce, a corruption of fleur de Louis--bcing spelled either fleur- 
de-lys or fleur-de-Ils. It derives its nanle fronl Louis Vil., 
King of France, who chose this flower as his heraldic em- 
blem when setting forth on his crusade to the Holy Land. 
It had aheady been used by the other French kings, and by 
the empcrors of Constantinople; but it is still a matter of 

' " Illustrations of Shakespeare," pp. 3o_'-3o8. 
 See Nares's "Glossary," vol. i. p. 3o5. 
 See Gifford's note on Jonson's ,Vorks, vol. i. p. 5 z ; Dyce's "Glos- 
sary." p. 6 ; Du Cange's "Glossary ;" Connelly's " Spanish and Eng- 
lish Dictionary." 4to. 
" Edited by Dyce. 857. p. 3 o. 
 Edited by Gilïord and Dyce, vol. i. p. 23. 
 " GlossarT," p. 6. 



220 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
dispute among antiquarians as to what it was originally in- 
tended to represent. Some say a flower, some a toad, some 
a halbert-head. Itis uncertain what plant is referred to by 
Shakespeare when he alludes to the flowel:de-luce in the 
following passage' in " 2 Henry VI." (v. I), where the Duke 
of York says : 
• ' A sceptre shall it have.--have I a soul,-- 
()n which I'll toss the flower-de-luce of France." 
In "  ttcnry VI." (i. e) Pucelle declares: 
"I ara prepared ; here is my keen-edged sword, 
Deck'd with rive flower-de-luces on each side." 
Some think the lily is meant, others the iris. For the lily 
theory, says Mr. Ellacombe, = "thcre are the facts that Shake- 
speare calls it one of the lilies, and that the other way of 
spelling is fleur-de-lys." 
Chaucer seems to connect it with the lily ("Canterbury 
Tales," l'roi. Œ38) : 
" Her nekke was white as the flour-dedis." 
On the other hand, Spenser separates the lilies from the 
flower-de-luces in his " Shepherd's Calendar ;" and Ben Jon- 
son mentions " rich carnations, flower-de-luces, lilies." 
The fleur-de-Ils was hOt always confined to royalty as a 
badge. Thus, in the square of La Pucelle, in Rouen, thcre 
is a statue of Jeanne D'Arc with fleurs-de-Ils sculptured upon 
it, and an inscription as follows : 
"The maiden's sword protects the royal crown ; 
Beneath the maiden's sword the lilies safely blow." 
St. Louis conferrcd upon the Chateaubriands the device 
ofa fleur-de-lis, and the notto," Mon sang teint les bannièrs 
de France." \Vhen Edward III. clafined the crown of France, 
in the year I34O, he quartered the ancient shield of France 
with the lions of England. It disappeared, however, from 
the English shield in the first year of the present century. 

' See "Winter's Tale," iv. 3 ; " Henry V.," v. 2 ; " I Henry VI.," i. . 
• a ,, Plant-Lore of Shakespeare," p. 73. 



PLANTS. 22 I 
Gilly_flowcr. This was thc old naine for the wholc class 
of carnations, pinks, and sweet-williams, ri'oto the French 
¢iroflc, which is itsclf corrupted from the Latin c«r.r«hyl- 
htt.' The streaked gillyflowers, says Mr. Bcisly,  noticed 
by Perdita in " \Vinter's Tale" (iv. 4)-- 
"the fairest flowers o' the season 
Are our carnations and streak'd gillyvors, 
Which some call naturc's bastards "-- 
" arc produced by the flowers ofone kind being impregnated 
by thc pollen of anothcr kind, and this art I, or law) in naturc 
Shakespeare alludcs to in thc dclicatc language uscd by Per- 
dira, as wcll as to thc practice of incrcasing thc plants by 
slips." Tusser, in his " Five I/undrcd l'oints of Good llus- 
bandry," says : 
"The gilloflower also the skilful doe know, 
Doth look to be covcred in frost and in snow." 
t-[ar«bcll. This flower, naentioned in "Cymbelinc " (iv. 2), 
is no doubt another naine for the wild hyacinth. 
Arviragus says of hnogen : 
"thou shalt hot lack 
The flower that's like thy face, pale primrose; nor 
The azured harebell, like thy veins." 
]-[cmhcb. In consequence of its bad and poisonous char- 
acter, this plant was considered an appropriate ingredient 
for witches' broth. In " Macbeth" (iv. ) we rcad of 
"Root of hemlock, digged i" the dark." 
Its scientific name, cotœett, is fi-orn the Greek word meaning 
cone or top, whose whirling motion resembles the giddiness 
produced on the constitution by its poisonous juice. It is 
by most persons supposed to bc the death-drink of the 
Greeks, and the one by which Socrates was put to death. 
]-[«rb of Gracc or/¢-«rb Gracc. A popular naine in days 
gone by for rue. The origin ofthe terre is uncertain. Most 

 "Nares's Glossary," vol. i. p. 363 . 
a "Shakespeare's Garden," p. 82: see Dyce's '" Glossary," p. 84. 



FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
probably it arose from thc extrcme bittcrness of the plant, 
which, as it had always borne the naine ruc (to be sorry for 
anything), was hot unnaturally associated with repentance. 
It was, thercforc, the hcrb of repentance,' " and this was soon 
changcd into ' herb of grace,' repentance being the chier sign 
of gracc." Thc expression is several times used by Shake- 
spcarc. In " Richard II." (iii. 4) the gardencr narrates: 
" Hcre did she fall a tear ; here, in this place 
l'll set a bank of rue, sour hcrb of grace : 
Rue, even for ruth, hcrc shorfly shall be seen, 
In thc remembrance of a weeping queen." 
In " ]Iamlct " (iv. 5), Ophclia, whcn addressing the queen, 
says, "Thcre's rue for you ; and hcre's some for me : wc may 
call it hcrb-grace o' Sundays: O,)'ou must wear your rue 
with a diffcrcnce. ''' 
Malonc observes that thcre is no ground for supposing 
that rue was called " hcrb of grace " ffoto its being used in 
exorcisms in churches on Sunday, a notion entcrtained by 
Jeremy Taylor, who says, referring to the oel«g«llum .Dwmo- 
,mm, " First, they (the Romish exorcisers) are to try the 
devil by holy water, incense, sulphur, rue, which ff'oto thence, 
as we suppose, came to be called ' herb of grace.' " Rue 
was also a conimon subject of puns, from being the saine 
xvord which signified sorrow or pity (see " Richard I1.," iii. 
4, cited above). 
tgolj, This¢L'. The Carduus Benedictus, called also "bless- 
ed thistle," was so named, like other plants which bear the 
specific naine of" blessed," flom its supposed power of coun- 
tcracting the effect of poison? Cogan, in his " Haven of 

' Ellacombe's " Plant-Lore of Shakespeare." p. 204 : Prior's "Popu- 
lar Names of British Plants,"  87o. p.  I I. 
 Cf. " Ali's Well that Ends Weli," iv. 5 ; "Antony and Cleopatra," 
iv. 2 ; " Romeo and Juliet," ii. 3, where Friar Laurence says : 
" In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will." 
a ,, A Dissuasive from Popery," pt. i. chap. ii. sec. 9; see Dyce's 
"' Glossary," p. 37 - 
" Nares's " Glossary," vol. i. p. 464. 



PLANTS. 223 
Hcalth," 595, says, "This herbe may worthily be callcd 
]]«Jwdictts, or OJzMzorbia, that is, a salure for cvery sort, hot 
known to physitians of old tire.e, but lately revealed by the 
special providence of Almighty God." It is alluded to in 
" Much Ado About Nothing" (,iii. 4} : 
"l[«rKar«L Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus, and 
lay it to your heart ; it is the only thing for a qualm. 
A(«ro. There thou prickest ber with a thistle. 
8««tri«e. Benedictus! why Benedictus? you bave some moral in 
this Benedictus. 
.][arg«rct. Moral? no, by my troth, | have no moral meaning: I 
meant, plain holy-thistle." 

lrJsaw Root. There is much doubt as to what plant is 
meant by Banquo in " Macbcth" (i. 
" have we eaten on the insane root 
That takes the reason prisoner 
The origin of this passage is probably to be round 
North's " l'lutarch," 579 (" I.ife of Antony," p. 990), where 
mention is ruade of a plant which " ruade them out of their 
wits." Several plants have been suggested--the hemlock, 
belladonna, mandrake, henbanc, etc. Douce supports thc 
last, and cites the following passage: " Henbane . . . is 
called insana, mad, for the use thereof is pcrillous; for if it 
be eate or dronke, it breedcth madness, or slow lykenesse of 
sleepe." Nares " quotes from Ben Jonson 1," Sejanus," iii. 
in support of hemlock: 
"well, read my charms, 
And may they lay that hold upon thy senses 
As thou hadst snufft up hemlock." 
[j'. It was formerly the gcneral custom in England, as 
it is still in I:rance and the Netherlands, to hang a bush of 
ivy at the door of a vintner? Hence the allusion in "As 

 Batman's " Upon Bartholomoeus de Proprieate Rerum," lib. xvii. 
chap. 87. 
-" "Glossary," vol. i. p. 465. 
 See Hotten's " History of Sign Boards." 



224 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Yu Likc It" (v. 4, Epilogue), where Rosalind wittily re- 
marks: " If it be true that good wine needs no bush,'ris true 
that a good play nceds no cpilogue." This custom is offen 
refcrred to by out old writcrs, as, for instance, in Nash's 
" Summer's Last \Vill and Iestamcnt," I6oo: 
"Green ivy bushes at the vintner's doors." 
And in the " Rival Fricnds," I632: 
"'Tis like the i'y bush unto a tavern." 
This plant was no doubt chosen ff-oto its being sacred to 
Bacchus. Thc practicc was observcd at statute hirings, 
wakes, ctc., by pcople who sold alc at no other time. Thc 
manncr, says Mr. Singer,' in which thcy wcre dccorated ap- 
pears ffoto a passage in I"lorio's " Italian Dictionary," in 
c'otc lr«mda, " Gold folle, or thin leaves of gold or silver, 
namely, thinne plate, as our vintners adorn their bushes 
with." Wc may compare thc old sign of "An owl in an ivy 
bush," which perhaps denoted thc union ofwisdom or pru- 
dence with conviviality, with the phrase " be merry and 
wise." 
K«cX'si«s. These are the dry, hollow stalks of hemlock. 
In " IIt:nry V." (v. 2) Burgundy makes use of the word : 
"and nothing teems, 
But hateful docks, rough thistles, kecksies, buts. 
Losing both beauty and utility." 
It has bccn suggested " that kecksies may be a mistaken 
form ofthe plural kex; and that kex mayhave been formed 
from keck, something so dry that the eater would keck at it, 
or be unable to swallow it. The xvord is probably derived 
from thc \Velsh "cecys," which is applied to sevcral plants of 
the umbelliferous kind. Dr. Prior, » however, says that keck- 
sies is from an old English vord keek, or kike, retained in 
the northcrn counties in the sense of"peep" or "spy." 

' "Shakespeare," vol. iii. p.  2. 
'-' See Nares's "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 482. 
 "Popular Names of British Plants." 879, p. 



PLANTS. 225 
Içlcolgrass.' Thc allusion to this plant in "A Midsum- 
mer-Night's Dream" (iii. 2)-- 
"Get you gone, you dwarf ! 
You minimus, of hindering knot-grass ruade ; 
You bead. you acorn !"-- 
rcfers to its supposed power of hindering the growth of 
any child or animal, when taken in an infusion, a notion 
alluded to by Beaumont and Fletcher (" Coxcombe," ii. 2) : 
"We want a boy extremely for this function, 
Kept under for a year with milk and knot-grass." 
In"Thc Knight ofthe Burning l'estle" (il. 2) we read : " The 
child's a fatherless child, and sa)- they should put him into a 
strait pair of gaskins, 'twere worse than knot-grass ; ho would 
never grow aftcr it." 
La@'-smoct«s. This plant is so called from the resem- 
blance of its white flowers to little smocks hung out to dry 
(" Love's Labour's Lost," v. 2), as they used to be at that 
season of the )'car especially 
• ' When daisies pied, and violets blue. 
And lady-smocks all silver white, 
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue, 
Do paint the meadows with delight. 
When shepherds pipe on oaten straws, 
And maidens bleach their summer smocks." 
According to anothcr explanation, the lady-smock is a 
corruption of " Out Lady's Smock," so called from its first 
flowering about Lady-tide. This plant has also been callcd 
cuckoo-flower, because, as Gerardc says, " it flowers in April 
and May, when the cuckoo doth begin to sing her pleasant 
notes without stammcring." 
Laurd. From the very earliest tim6s this classical plant 
has been regarded as symbolical of victory, and used for 
crowns. In " Titus Andronicus" (i. ) Titus says: 
"Cometh Andronicus, bound with laurel boughs." 

' Polygonum aviculare. 
5 



226 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
And in "Antony and Cleopatra" (i. 3) the latter exclaims: 
"upon your sword 
Sit laurelled victory." ' 
L«d'. The first of Marcb is observed by tbe \Velsh in 
honor of St. David, thcir patron saint, when, as a sign of 
their patriotism, thcywear a lcck. Much doubt exists as to 
the origin of this custom. According to the \Vclsh, it is bc- 
cause St. David ordered lais Britons to place lecks in their 
caps, that thcy lnight be distinguished in fight ffoto their 
Saxon foes. Shakespeare, in " lIcnry V." liv. 7), alludes to 
thc custom whcn rcfcrring to thc battle of Cress)'. Fluellen 
says, " If your majesties is remcmbered of it, the \Velshmen 
did good service in a gardcn whcre lccks did grow, wearing 
lecks in thcir Monmouth caps, which your majesty know to 
this hour is an honourablc badge of the service; and I do 
bclievc )'out majesty takcs no scorn to wcar thc lock upon 
.Saint Tavy's day."" i)r. Owen l'ughe ' supposes the cus- 
tom arose from the practice of evcry fariner contributing his 
lock to the common rcpast vhen they met at the Cmmor- 
tha, an association by which thcy rcciprocated assistance in 
ploughing the land. Anyhow, the subjcct is one involved 
in complete uncertainty, and the various cxplanations given 
are purely conjectural (see p. 303). 
Lilr. Although so many pretty legends and romantic 
supcrstitions bave clustered round this sweet and favorite 
flover, yet thcy have escaped the notice of Shakespeare, who, 
whilc attaching to it the choicest epithcts, bas simply ruade 
it the type of elegance and beauty, and the symbol of purity 
and whitencss. 
Lo(¢ I'««rl«s. This plant, mcntioned by Shakespeare in 
" Hamlet" iv. 7)as forming part of the nosegay of poor 
Ophelia, is generally considered to bc the early purple orchis 
{Orchis masc««[a), which blossoms in April or May. It grows 

' See "3 Henry VI.," iv. 6 ; "Troilus and Cressida," i. 3- 
- See " Henry V.," iv. . 
a ,, Cambrian Biography," 8o3, p. 86; see Brand's " Pop. Antiq..'" 
849, vol. i. pp. me-m8. 



PLANTS. 

227 
inches high. 

in meadows and pastures, and is about ten 
Tennyson ("A Dirge ") uses the naine: 
" Round thee blow. self-pleached deep. 
Bramble roses, faint and pale. 
And long purples of the dale." 
Another tcrm applied by Shakespeare to this flower was 
" Dead Men's Fingers," from the pale color and hand-like 
shape of the pahnate tubers: 
"{)ur cold maids do dead men's fingers call them." 
In " I;lowers from Stratford-on-Avon," it is said, " thcre 
can bc no doubt that the wild arum is the plant alluded to 
by Shakespeare," but there seems no authority for this state- 
ment. 
Lovc-hz-[d[««css, or, with more accuracy, Lovc-h«-[dl«,' is 
ont of thc many nicknames of the pansy or heart's-ease--a 
terre said to bc still in use in \Varwickshirc. It occurs in 
" Midsunmcr-Night's Dream " (il. )," whcre Oberon says: 

• ' Yet mark'd I xvhere the boit of Cupid fell : 
It fell upon a little western flower. 
Before milk-white, now purple with love's wound. 
And maidens call it love-in-idleness." 

The phrase literally signifies love in vain, or to no purposc, 
as Taylor alludes to it in the following couplet : 

"When passions are let loose without a bridle. 
Then precious time is turned to [ove and 

That flowers, and pansies especially, were used as love- 
philters,  or for the object of casting a spell over people, in 
Shakespeare's da)', is shown in the passage already quoted, 

See Dr. Prior's " Popular Names of British Plants," 87o, p. 39. 
Cf. "Taming of the Shrew." i. . 
Cf. what Egeus says (i. ) when speaking of Lysander : 
"This man hath bewitch'd the bosom of my child ; 
Thou. thou Lysander, thou hast given her rhymes 
And interchanged love-tokens with my child." 



228 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
where Puck and Obcron amuse thcmselves at Titania's ex- 
pense. Again, a flrthcr rcfcrcnce occurs (iv. 1), where the 
fairy king removes thc spell : 
" But first I wi]l release the fairy queen. 
Be as thou wast wont to be : 
See as thou wast wont to see : 
Dian's bud ' o'er Cupid's flower  
Hath such force and b]essed power. 
Now, my Titania; wake you, my sweet queen." 
" It has bcen suggestcd," says Mr. Aldis "Vvight,  " that 
the device employed by Obcron to enchant Titania by 
anointing hcr eyelids with thc juice of a flowcr, may have 
bcen borrowed by Shakespeare from thc Spanish romance 
of' l)iana' by George of lIontcmayor. But apart from the 
difficulty which arises froln the fact that no English transla- 
tion ofthis romance is known belote that published by Young 
in I598, thcre is no necessity to suppose that Shakespeare 
was indebtcd to auy one for vhat must have been a familiar 
element in ail incantations at a time when a bclief ill witch- 
craff was common." Percy (" Reliques," vol. iii. bk. 2) quotcs a 
receipt by thc celebrated astrologer, Dr. Dee, for " an ungent 
to anoynt under the cyelids, and upon the eyelids eveninge 
and morninge, but especially when you call," that is, upon 
the fairies. It consisted of a decoction of various flowers. 
./][amtraora or ./][am[ra/«e. No plant, perhaps, has had, 
at different rimes, a greater share of folk-lore attributed to 
it than the mandrake ; partly owing, probably, to the fancied 
resemblance of its foot to the human figure, and the acci- 
dental cireumstance of man being the first syllable of the 
word. An infcrior degree of animal life was assigned to it ; 
and it was commonly supposed that, when torn from the 
ground, it uttered groans of so pernicious a character, that 

Dian's bud is the bud of the flmts casttts, or chaste tree. "' The 
virtue this herbe is, that he will kepe man and woman chaste." "Ma- 
cer's Herbal,"  527. 
Cupid's flower, another naine for the pansy. 
Notes to "A Midsummer-Night's Dream," 877. Preface, p. xx. 



PLANTS. 229 
the person who committed the violence either went mad or 
died. In " 2 Henry VI." (iii. 2) Suffolk says: 
"Would curses kiI1, as doth the mandrake's groan, 
I would invent," etc. 
And Juliet (" Romco and Juliet," iv. 3) speaks of 
"shrieks like mandrakes' torn out of the earth, 
That living mortals, hearing them, run mad." 
To escape this danger, it was recommended to tic one end 
of a string to the plant and the othcr to a dog, upon whorri 
the fatal groan would discharge its whole malignity. The 
ancients, it appears, xvere equally superstitious with regard 
to this mysterious plant, and Columel[a, in lais directions for 
thc site of gardons, says thcy may be forlned where 
"the mandrake's flowers 
Produce, whose root shows hall a man, whose juice 
,¥ith madness .trikes." 
Pliny' informs us that those who dug up this plant paid 
particu!ar attention to stand so that the wind was at their 
back ; and, belote they began to dig, they made three circles 
round the plant with the point of the sword, and then, pro- 
ceeding to the west, comlnenced digging it up. It seems to 
have been well known as an opiate in the time of Shake- 
speare, who makes Iago say in " Othello " (iii. 3) : 
"Not poppy, nor mandragora, 
Nor ail the drowsy syrups of the world, 
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep 
Which thou ow'dst yesterday." 
In "Antony and Cleopatra" (i. 5), the queen pathetically 
says : 
"Give me to drink mandragora. 
Ckar. Why, madam ? 
Cleo. That [ might sleep out this great gap of rime, 
My Antony is away." 
Lyte, in his translation of "Dodoens" ( 578), P. 438, tells 

' " Natural Histow," bk. xxv. chap. 94. 



230 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
us that " the leaves and fruit be also dangerous, for they 
cause deadly sleepe, and peevish drowsiness, like opium." 
It was sometimes regardcd as an emblem of incontinence, 
as in "e Henry IV." (,iii. 2): "yet lecherous as a monkey, 
and the whores callcd him--mandrake." A very diminutive 
figure was, too, often compared to a mandrake. In "2 Henry 
IV." I,i. 2, Falstaff says : "Thou whoreson mandrake, thou 
art fitter to be worn in my cap, than to wait at my heels." 
Tracing back the history of this plant into far-distant times, 
it is gencrally belicved that it is the saine as that which the 
ancicnt Hebrews callcd Dudain.' That these people held 
it in the highest esteem in the days of Jacob is evident 
rioto its having been found by Rcuben, who carried thc 
plant to lais mother; and the induccment which tempted 
Leah to part with it proves the value then set upon this 
celebratcd plant. According to a curious superstition, this 
plant was thought to possess the properties of making child- 
Icss wives bccome mothers, and hence, some suppose, Rachel 
becamc so dcsirous of possessing the mandrakes which Reu- 
ben had round. Among the many other items of folk-lore 
associated with the mandrake, thcre is one which informs us 
that " it is perpetually watched over by Satan, and if it be 
pulled up at certain holy times, and with certain invocations, 
the evil spirit will appear to do the bidding of the practi- 
tioncr. ''- In comparatively recent times, quacks and impos- 
tors counterfeited with the root briony figures resembling 
parts of the human body, which were sold to the credulous 
as endued with specific virtues? The Gcrmans, too, equally 
superstitious, formed little idols of the roots of the mandrake, 
which were regularly dressed every day, and consulted as or- 
acles--their repute being such that they were manufactured 
in great numbers, and sold in cases. They were, also, im- 
ported into this country during the time of Henry VIII., it 

 Phillips's "Flora Historica." 829, vol. i. pp. 324, 3-'-5 ; see Smith's 
" Dictionary of the Bible," 869, vol. ii. p. 1777. 
= "Mystic Trees and Flowers," by M. D. Conway; Fraser's .Ikzga- 
',e. 187o. vol. il. p. 7o 5. 
 Singer's "Shakespeare," 87, vol. v. p. t 53. 



PLANTS. 2 3 i 
being pretendcd that thcy would, with the assistance of 
some mystic words, increase whatever moncy was placed 
near them. In order, too, to enhance the value of these so- 
called miracle-workcrs, it was said that the roots of this plant 
were produced from the flesh ofcriminals which fcll f,-om the 
gibbet, and that it only grew la such a situation.' 
[ar[KoM. This flower was a great favorite with out old 
writers, from a curious otion that it always opened or shut 
its flowers at the sun's bidding ; in allusiou to which Perdita 
remarks, in '" Winter's Tale" (iv. 3): 
"The marigold, that goes to bed wi' the sun, 
And with him rises weeping." 
It was also said, but erroneousl.v, to turn its flowers to the 
sun, a quality attributed to the sunflower (IgcIi«zt/z«s a¢zmz¢s), 
and thus described by Moore: 
"The sunflower turns on ber goal xvhen he sets 
The saine look which she turn'd when he rose." 
A popular naine for the marigold was " mary-bud," men- 
tio of which we find in '" Cymbcline " (ii. 3) : 
"winking Mary-buds begin 
To ope their golden eyes." 
3h'dlar. This fruit, which Shakespeare describes as only 
fit to be eaten when rotten, is applied by Lucio to a wom- 
an of loose character, as in " Measure for Measure "' (ix-. 3) : 
"they would else have married me to the rotten medlar." 
Chaucer, in the " Reeve's lrologue, '' applies the sa,ne 
name to it : 
"That ilke fruit is ever lenger the vers, 
Till it be roten in mullok, or in stre. 
We olde men, I drede, so faren we, 
Till we be roten can we not be ripe." 
3£i.ct[«to«. This plant, which, from thc earliest times, bas 
been an object of interest to naturalists, on account of its 
curious growth, deriving its subsistence entirely from the 
' See Sir Thomas Browne's "Vulgar Errors," 852, vol. ii. p. 6. 



232 FOLK-LORE OF StIAKESPEARE. 
branch to which it annexe» itself, has been the subject of 
wîdespread superstition. In " Titus Andronicus" (ii. 3), Ta- 
mora describcs it in thc graphic passage below as the " bale- 
ful mistletoe," an epithet which, as Mr. Douce observes, is 
extremely appropriate, either conformably to an ancient, but 
erroncous, opinion, that the bcrrics of the mistlctoe were 
poisonous, or on account of the use made of this plant by 
the Druids during their detestable human sacrifices.' 
"D«mclrius. tlow now, dear sovereign, and out gracious mother, 
Why doth your highness look so pale and wan ? 
T«zzwra. Have I not reason, think you. to look pale ? 
These two have 'tic'd me hither to this place :-- 
A barren detested vale, you sec, it is 
The trees, though summer, yet forlorn and lean, 
¢)'ercome with moss and baleful mistletoe : 
Here never shines the sun ; here nothing breeds, 
Unless the nightly owl, or fataI raven." 
]l[lshroo**z. Besides his notice of the mushroom in the 
following passages, Shakespeare alludes to the fairy rings " 
which are formed by fungi, though, as ),lr. Ellacombe  points 
out, he probably knew little ofthis. In " The Tempest" 
), Prospero says of the fairies: 
"you demi-puppets, that 
Ily moonshine do the green-sour ringlets make, 
Whereof the ewe hot bites : and you, whose pastime 
Is to make midnight mushrooms ;" 
the allusion in this passage being to the superstition that 
sheep will hot eat the grass that grows on fairy rings. 
3[tstard. Tewksbury mustard, to which reference is 
ruade in " 2 Henry IV." (il. 4), where Falstaff speaks of "wit 
as thick as Tewksbury lnustard," was formerly very falnous. 
Shakespeare speaks only of its thickness, but others have 
celebrated its pungency. Coles, writing in 1657 , says: " In 
Gloucestershire, about Teuxbury, they grind mustard and 
' " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. 386. 
= Sec page 
a "Plant-Lore of Shakespeare," p. 3. 



PLANTS. 233 
make it into halls, which are brought to London, and othcr 
remote places, as being thc best that the world affords." 
.oE'«rcissus. Thc old legend attached to this flower is mcn- 
tioned by Emilia in " Thc Two Noble Kinsmcn" (ii. ): 
• ' That was a fair boy certain, but a fool. 
To love himself ; were there hot maids enough ?" 
A'dmc. A gilt nutmeg was formerly a common gift at 
Christmas and on other festive occasions, a notice of wlnch 
occurs in " Love's Labour's Lost" (v. 2), in the following 
dialogue : 
". lrmada. ' The armipotent Mars, of lances the almighty. 
Gave Hector a gift.--' 
l)umaz)t. A gilt nutmeg." 
Oa/< A crown of oak was considercd by the Romans 
worthy of the highest emulation of statesmen and warriors. 
To him who had saved the lire of a Roman soldicrwas given 
a crown of oak-leaves; one, indced, which was accountcd 
more honorable than any other. In "Coriolanus" (il. ), 
Volumnia says: "he cornes the third time home with the 
oaken garland." And again (i. 3): "To a cruel war I sent 
him : ri-oto whence he returned, his brows bound with oal«" 
Montesquieu, indeed, said that it was with two or three hun- 
dred crowns of oak that Rome conquered the world. AI- 
though so much historical and legendal'y lore have clustercd 
round the oak, yet scarccly any mention is ruade ot this by 
Shakespeare. The legend of 11erne the tlunter, which seems 
to have been current at \Vindsor, is several times alluded to, 
as, for instance, in '" Mcrry \Vives of \Vindsor" (iv. 4) : 
"JD's. Page. There is an old tale goes, that Herne the hunter, 
Sometime a keeper here in Windsor forest, 
Doth ail the winter time. at still midnight. 
Walk round about an oak. with great ragg'd horns. 
Page .... there want not many, that do fear 
In deep of night to walk by this Herne's oak." 
Herne's Oak, so long an objcct of much curiosity and ell- 

' Nares'g "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 612. 



234 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESI'EARE. 
thusiasm, is now no more. According to onc theory, the 
old tree was blown down August 3 I, I863 • and a young oak 
was planted by her Majesty, September t2, I863 , to mark 
the spot where Herne's Oak stood.' Mr. Halliwell-I'hil- 
lipps, however, tells us,"the general opinion is that it was 
accidentally destroycd in the year ï96, through an order 
of George II1. to thc bailiffRobinson, that all the unsightly 
trces in thc vicinity of the castle should be rcmoved; an 
opinion confirmed by a well-established fact, that a person 
named Grantham, who contractcd with the bailiff for the 
removal of the trees, fcll into disgrace with the king for 
having included thc oak in his gathcrings. ''' 
Oliz'c. This plant, evcr famous from its association with 
the return of the dove to the ark, has been considered typ- 
ical of peace. It was as an emblem of peace that a garland 
of olive was given to Judith when she restored peace to the 
Israelites by the death of Holofemes (Judith, xv. 131. It 
was equally honored by Grecks and Romans. It is, too, in 
this sense that Shakespearc speaks of it when he makes 
Viola, in " Twelfth Night" (i. 5), say : " I bring no overture 
of war, no taxation ofholnage; I hold the olive in my hand, 
mywords are as full ofpeace as matter." In Sonnet CVII. 
occurs the well-known line : 

" And peace proclaims olives of endless age." 

/3ch;c. As the symbol of victory, this was carried before 
thc conqucror in triulnphal processions. Its classical use is 
noticed by Shakespeare in "Coriolanus" (v. 3)- Volumnia 
"And bcar thc palm, for having bravely shcd 
Thy wife and children's blood." 

' See "Windsor Guide," p. 5. 
- See "Notes and Oueries," 3d series, vol. xii. p. i6o. 
 See also " 3 Henry VI.," iv. 6 : "Timon of Athens," v. 4 ; "Antony 
and Cleopatra," iv. 6 ; "2 Henry IV.," ix,. 4. 
* See" As You Like It," iii. 2 ; "Timon of Athens,'" v. i ; cf. " Henry 
VIII," iv. 2. 



PLANTS. 235 
In "Julius Coesar" (i. 2), Cassius exclaims : 
" Ye gods. it doth amaze me. 
A man of such a feeble temper should 
So get the start of the majestic wor]d, 
And bear the palm alone." 
Pilgrims were formerly callcd " pallers," ffoto the staff 
or bough of palm they were wont to carry. $o, in "All's 
Well That F.nds \Vell " (iii. 5), I clena asks: 
"Where do the patmers lodge, I do besecch you ?" 
Z'««r. In lais fcw notices of the pear ShalCespearc only 
mentions two by naine, the warden and the pol»crin- thc 
former was chicfly used for roasting or baking, and is mcn- 
tioned by the clown in the " \Vintcr's Tale" (iv. 3) : 
" I must have salïron, to colour the warden pies." 
I lcnce Ben Jonson lnakes a pun upon Church-warden pies. 
According to SOlaae altiquarians, the naine warden is frol'' 
the _/knglo-Saxon zt,cardci, to preserve, as it keeps for a long 
rime; but it is more probable that the word had its origin 
rioto thc horticultural skill of thc Cistercian monks of \Var- 
don Abbey, in F;edfordshire, founded in the 2th century. 
Three warden pears appeared on the arlnorial bealings of 
the abbey.: It is noticeable that the warden pies of Shake- 
speare's da)-, colored with saffron, bave been rcplaced by 
stewed pears colored with cochineal. 
The poperin pear was probably ilztroduced from Flanders 
b; the antiquary Leland, who was ruade rector of l'opering 
by Henry VIII. It is alluded to by ]Iercutio in '" Rolneo 
and Juliet" (ii. ), where he wishes that Romeo were "a 
poperin pear." In the old dramas there is lnuch attelnpt 
at wit on this pear. 
F','«s. A practice called " peascod wooing" was formcrly 
a conalnOn mode of divination in love affairs. The cook, 
when shelling green peas, would, if she chanced to find a 
pod having nine, lay it on the lintel ofthe kitchen-door, and 

Sec "Archoeological Journal," vol. v. p. 3oz. 



236 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
the first man who entered was supposed to be her future 
husband. Another way of divination by peascod consisted 
in the loyer selecting one growing on the stem, snatching it 
alvay quickly, and if the good omen of the peas remaining 
in thc husk were preserved, in then presenting it to the lady 
of his choice. Touchstone, in "As You Like It" {.ii. 4), 
alludes to this piece of popular suggestion: " I remember 
the wooing of a peascod' instead of lier." Gay, who has 
carefully chronicled many a custom of his time, says, in his 
" Fourth Pastoral :" 
"As peascods once I pluck'd, I chanc'd to see, 
One that was closely fill'd with three rimes three, 
Which when I cropp'd I safely home convey'd, 
And o'er my door the spell in secret laid." 
"We may quote, as a furthcr illustration, the following stanza 
from Brownc's " Pastorals" (bk. ii. song 3) : 
"The peascod greene, oft with no little toyle, 
He'd seek for in the fattest, fertil'st soile, 
And rende it from the stalke to bring it to ber, 
And in her bosom for acceptance wooe ber. '' 
J>hmtai,«. Thc leaves of this plant vere carefully valued 
by out forefathcrs for their supposed efficacy in healing 
wounds, etc. It was also considered as a preventive of poi- 
son; and to this supposed virtue we ffnd an allusion in 
" Romeo and Juliet " (i. 2) : 
"t?«nolio. Take thou some new infection to thy eye, 
And the rank poison of the old will die. 
Rom«o. ¥our plantain leaf is excellent for that. 
7oz,olio. For what, I pray thee ? 
2'omeo. For your broken shin. ''a 
In the " Two Noble Kinsmen " (i. ) Palamon says: 
"These poor slight sores 
Need hot a plantain." 
 The cod was what we now call the pod. 
= See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 1849, vol. il. p. 99. 
 See "Love's Labour's Lost," iii. . 



PLANTS. 

237 

_Popp3". The plant refcrred to by Shakespeare in "Othel- 
1o" (iii. 3) is the opium poppy, wcll known in his day for 
its deadly qualifies. It is described by Spenser in the 
"Fairy Queen" (il. 7, 5 2) as the "dead-sleeping poppy," 
and Drayton (" Nymphidia," v.) enumerates it among the 
flowers that procurc " deadly sleeping." 
totatv. It is curious enough, says Nares,' to final that ex- 
cellent root, which now forms a regular portion of the daily 
nutriment of cvery individual, and is thc chier or eutire sup- 
port of multitudes in Ireland, spoken of continually as hav- 
ing some powerful effect upon the hulnan frarne, in exciting 
the desires and passions; )'et this is the case in all the writ- 
ings contemporary with Shakespcare. Thus Falstaff, in 
" Merry \Vives of \Vindsor" (v. 5), says : " Let the sky rain 
potatoes; lct it thunder to the tune of' Green Sleeves,' hail 
kissing comfits," etc. In "Troilus and Cressida" (v. 2), Ther- 
sites adds: " tIow the devil luxury, with his fat rump and 
potato finger, tickles these together."' It appears, too, that 
the medical writers of the times countenanced this fancy. 
Mr. Ellacombe  observes that the above passages are of pe- 
culiar interest, inasmuch as they contain almost the earliest 
notice of potatoes after their introduction into England. 
trbcrasc. Although the early primrose has ahvays becn 
such a popular and favorite flower, yet it seems to have beeu 
associated with sadness, Æ or even worse than sadness ; for, in 
the following passages, the" primrose paths" and " primrose 
way" are meaut to be suggestive of sinful pleasurcs. Thus, 
in " Hamlet " (i. 3), Ophelia says: 

"like a puff'd and reckless libertine, 
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads, 
And recks not his own rede." 

' '" Glossary," vol. ii. p. 677. 
= See 13eaumont and Fletcher. "Elder Brother," iv. 4; Massinger, 
" New Way to Pay Old Debts," ii.  ; Ben Jonson, "Cynthia's Revels," 
ii. , etc. 
 "Plant-Lofe of Shakespeare," p. 73. 
«Ibid., p.  79. 



238 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
And in "Macbeth" (il. 3), the Porter declares: "I had 
thought to have let in some of all professions, that go the 
primrose way to thc everlasting bonfire." Curious to say, 
too, Shakespearc's only epithets-for this fair flower are, 
" pale," " faint," " that die unmarricd." Nearly all the pocts 
ofthat time spoke of it in the saine strain, with the excep- 
tion of lien Jonson and thc two Fletchers. 
Rcca'. Among the uses to which the reed was formerly 
applied wcre thc thatching of houscs and the making of 
shclhcrds' pipes. Thc former is alludcd to in the " Tem- 
pest " (v. 
"ttis tears run down his beard, like winter's drops 
From caves of rceds ;" 
and thc latter in " Mcrchant of Venice " (iii. 4"), where Portia 
spcaks of "a rced voice." It bas generally been rcgarded 
as the cmblcm of wealmess, as in "Antony and Cleopatra" 
(il. 7): "a reed that will do me no service." 
Rose. As might bc expected, the rose is the flowcr most 
frcquently mentioned by Shakespeare, a symbol, in many 
cases, of all that is fait and lovely. Thus, for instance, in 
" Itamlet " (iii. 4), Hamlct says : 
"Such an act.., takes off the rose 
From the fait forehead of an innocent love, 
And sets a blister there." 
And Ophelia (iii. ) describes I[amlct as, 
"The expectancy and rose of the Iair state." 
In days gone by the rose entered largely into the customs 
and superstitions of most nations, and even nowadays there 
is an extensive folk-lore associated with it. 
It appears that, in Shakespeare's time, one ofthe fashions 
ofthe day was the wearing of enormous roses on the shoes, of 
which full-length portraits afford striking examples.' Ham- 
let (iii. 2) speaks of" two Provincial roses on my razed shoes ;" 
meaning, no doubt, rosettes of ribbon in the shape of roses 
of Provins or Provence. Douce favors the former, "Warton 

, Singer's "Shakespeare," I875. vol. ix. p. 227. 



PLANTS. 239 
the latter locality. In either case, it was a large rose. The 
Provcncc, or damask rose, was probably the botter known. 
Gerarde, in his " I Ierbal," says that thc damask rose is called 
by some lçosa _Provb«f«hs.' Mr. Fairholt'* quotes, from 
" Friar Bacon's l'rophecy " (6o4), the following, in allusion 
to this fashion : 

"Whcn roses in thc gardens grcw. 
And not in ribbons on a shoe : 
Now ribbon roses take such place 
That garden roses want their grace." 
Again, in " King John " (i. I), wherc thc Bastard alludcs 
to the three-farthing silvcr pieces of (ucen Elizabeth, which 
xvere extrcmcly thin, and had the profile of the sovercign, 
with a rose on thc back ofher head, there doubtless is a fuller 
rcfcrcncc to the court fashion of sticking roses in the ear: 
• " my face so thin, 
That in mine ear I durst not stick a rose, 
Lest men should say," Look, where three-farthings goes.'" 
Shakespeare also mentions the usc of the rose in rose- 
cakes and rose-water, the former in " Romeo and Juliet" 
(v. I), whcre Romco speaks of" old cakes of roses," the lat- 
ter in " Taming of the Shrew" (Induction, ) : 
" Let one attend him with a silver basin 
Full of rose-water and bestreu'd with flowers." 

Referring to its historical fore, we may mention its famous 
connection with the \Vars of the Roses. In the fatal dis- 
pute in the Temple Gardens, Somerset, on the part of Lan- 
caster, says ("  Itenl'y VI." ii. 4): 
" Let him that is no coward, nor no flatterer, 
But dare maintain the party of the truth. 
Pluck a red rose from off this thorn with me." 

' " Notes to tIamlet.'" Clark and Wright, I876, p. I79. 
* "Costume in England," p. 238. At p. 579 the author gives several 
instances of the extravagances to which this fashion led. 
 Some gallants had their ears bored, and wore their mistresses' 
silken shoe-strings in them. Sec Singer's " Notes," vol. iv. p. -57- 



240 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
Warwick, on the part of York. replies : 
"I love no colours, and. without all colour 
Of base insinuating flattery, 
I pluck this white rose with Plantagenet." 
The trailing white dog-rose is commonly considered to 
have been the one chosen by the House of York. A writer, 
however, in the Quar?«rO, c;,U'.zc, (vol. cxiv.) has shown 
that the white rose has a very ancient intcrest for English- 
men, as, long bcfore the brawl in the Temple Gardens, the 
flower had becn connected with one of the most ancient 
names of our island. The elder l'liny, in discussiig the ety- 
mology ofthe word Albion, suggests that the land may have 
been so named from the white roses which abounded in it. 
The York and Lancaster rose, with its pale striped flowers. 
is a variety of the French rose known as Rosa Gallica. It 
became famous when the two emblematical roses, in the 
persons of Henry VII. and Elizabeth of York, at last brought 
peace and happiness to the country which had been so long 
divided by internal warfare. The canker-rose referred to by 
Shakespeare is the wild dog-rose, a naine occasionally ap- 
plied to the common red poppy. 
tos«mary. This plant was formerly in very high esteem, 
and was devoted to various uses. It was supposed to 
strengthqn the memory; hence it was regarded as a symbol 
of remembrance, and on this account was often given to 
friends. Thus, in " Hamlet " (iv. 5), where Ophelia seems 
to be addressing Laertes, she says : " There's rosemary, that's 
for remembrance." In the " Winter's Tale " (iv. 4) rosemary 
and rue are beautifully put together: 
"For you there's rosemary and rue ; these keep 
Seeming and savour all the winter long : 
Grace and remembrance be to you both, 
And welcome to out shearing !" 
Besides being used at weddings, it was also in request at 
funerals, probably for its odor, and as a token of remem- 
brance of the deceased. Thus the Friar, in " Romeo and 
J uliet " (iv. 5), says : 



PLANTS. 241 
" Dry up your tears, and stick your rosemary 
On this fair corse." 
This practice is thus touchingly alluded to by Gay, in his 
" Pastorals :" 

"To shew their love, the neighbours far and near 
Followed, with wistful look, the damsel's bier: 
Sprigg'd rosemary the lads and lasses bore, 
While dismally the parson walk'd before." 
Rosemary, too, was one ofthe evergreens with which dishes 
were anciently garnished during the season of Christmas, an 
allusion to which occurs in " l'criclcs" (iv. 6) : " Marry. corne 
up, lny dish of chastity with rosemary and bays." 
R,tsh. Before the introduction of carpets, the floors of 
churches and bouses were strmved with rushes, a custoln to 
which Shakespeare makes several allusions. In "Taming 
of the Shrew " (iv. I), Grumio asks : " Is supper ready, the 
house trimmed, rushes strewed, cobwebs swept ?" and Glen- 
dower, in " I Ilenry IV." (iii. , says: 
"She bids you on the wanton rushes lay you down. 
And rest your gentle head upon ber lap." 
At the coronat[on of Henry V. (" 2 Henry IV.," v: 5), when 
the procession is coming, the grooms ClT, " More rusnes:.'  
more rushes !" which seems to have been the usual cry for 
rushes to be scattered on a pavement or a platform when a 
procession was approaching.' .A_gain, in " Richard II." (i. 3), 
the custom is further alluded to by John ofGaunt, who speaks 
of " the presence strew'd," referring to the pl-esence-chan- 
ber. So, too, in '" Cymbeline" (il. 2), Iachimo soliloquizes: 
"Tarquin thus 
Did softly press the rushes, ere he waken'd 
The chastity he wounded." 
And in " Romeo and Juliet " ,i. 4), Romeo says : 
" Let wantons, light of heart, 
Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels ;" 

' Dyce's "Glossary," p. 373. 
16 



242 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
an expression which Middleton bas borrowed in his " Blunt 
Master Constable," I6o2 : 
"Bid him, whose heart no sorrow feels, 
Tickle the rushes with lais wanton heels 
I have too much lead at mine. ' 

In the " Two Noble Kinsmen " (il. I) the Gaoler's Daughter 
is represented carrying "strewings" for the txvo prisoners' 
chamber. 
Rush-bearings were a sort of rural festival, when the pa- 
rishioners brought rushes to strew the church.' 
The " rush-ring" appears to have been a kind of token for 
plighting of troth alnong rustic loyers. It xvas afterwards 
vilely used, however, for mock-marriages, as appears from 
one of the Constitutions of Salisbury. In "All's Well that 
Ends Well " (ii. _-') there seems a covert allusion to the rush- 
ring: " As Tib's rush for Tom's fore-finger." Spenser, in 
the "Shepherd's Kalengar," speaks of 
"The knotted rush-rings and gilt Rosemarie." 
Du Breul, in lais '" Antiquities of Paris, '' mentions the rush- 
ring as " a kind of espousal used in France by such persons 
as meant to live together in a state of concubinage; but in 
England it was scarcely ever practised except by designing 
men, for the purpose of corrupting those young xvomen to 
whom they pretended love." 
The "rush candle," which, in times past, was found in 
nearly every house, and served as a light-light for the rich 
and candle for the poor, is mentioned iii " Taming of the 
Shrew" (iv. 5): 

"be it moon, or sun, or what you please : 
An if you please to call it a rush candle, 
Henceforth, I vow, it shall be so for me." 

Saffro«. In the following passage (" All's Well that Ends 

 See Brand's "Pop. Antiq.," 849,vol. ii. pp. 3, 4. 
= Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespe?.re," 839, p. 194. 



PLANTS. 243 
Well," iv. 5) there seems to be an allusion' by Lafeu to the 
fashionable and fantastic custom of wearing yellow, and to 
that of coloring paste with saffron : " No, no, no, your son 
was misled with a snipt-taffeta fellow there, whose villanous 
saffron would have marie ail the unbaked and doughy youth 
of a nation in his colour." 
S«arrass. This plant--perhaps the common reed--is 
noticed in " I Henry IV." (il. 4) as used for tickling the nose 
nd making it bleed. In Lupton's " Notable Things" it is 
mentioned as part of a medical recipe: "Whoevcr is tor- 
mented with sciatica or the hip-gout, let them take an herb 
called spear-grass, and sta,np it, and lay a little thereof upon 
the grief." Mr. Ellacombe = thinks that the plant alluded to 
is the common couch-grass (Triti«um r,os), which is still 
known in the eastern counties as spear-grass. 
Sto'«r. This word, which is often round in the writings 
of Shakespeare's day, denotes fodder and provision of all 
sorts for cattle. In Cambridgeshire stover signifies hay 
ruade of coarse, tank grass, such as even cows will not eat 
while it is green. In "The Tempest " (iv. ), Iris says: 
"Thy turfy mountains, where lire nibbling sheep, 
And fiat meads thatch'd with stover, them to keep." 
According to Steevens, stover was used as a thatch for cart- 
lodges and other buildings that required but cheap cover- 
ings. 
. Strawb«rry. Shakespeare's mention of the strawberry in 
connection with the nettle, in " Henry V." (i. ), 
"The strawberry grows underneath the nettle, 
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best 
Neighbour'd by ruit of baser quality," 
deserves, says ]Xlr. Ellacombe, a passing note. " It was the 
common opinion in his day that plants were affected by the 
neighborhood of other plants to such an extent that they 
imbibed each others virtues and faults. Thus sweet flowers 

 Dyce's "Glossary," p. 38. 
 "Plant-Lore of Shakespeare," p. 39. 



24 4 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
were planted near fruit-trees with the idea of improving the 
flavor of the fruit, and evil-smelling trces, like the elder. 
were careful]y cleared away from fruit-trces, lest they should 
bc tainted. But the strawberry was supposed to be an ex- 
ception to the rule, and was said to thrive in the midst of 
• cvil communications, without being corrupted.' " 
ïhorlzs. Thc popu]ar tradition, which represents the 
marks on the moon' to be that of a man carrying a thorn- 
bush on his head, is alludcd to in " Midsummcr-Night's 
Dream " v. i), in the l'rologue: 
'" This man. with lanthorn, dog. and bush of thorn, 
Prcsenteth Moonshine." 
Littlc else is mentioncd by Ghakcspearc with regard to 
thorns, savc that thcy are generally used by him as the 
emblcms of desolation and trouble. 
17dors. An o|d superstition is alludcd to by Shakespeare 
when he makes Laertcs wish that violets may spring from 
thc grave of Ophelia (" Hamlet," v. I) : 
"Lay her i" the earth : 
And from lier fait and unpolluted flesh 
May violets spring 
an idea which occtlrs iii ['ersius's " Satires ' (i. 39) : 
"E tumulo fortunataque fax-illa 
Nascentur violoe." 
Thc violet has generally been associated with early death. 
This, Mr. Ellacombe considers, " " may have arisen from a 
sort of pity for flowers that were only allowed to see the 
opening year, and were cut off before the first beauty of 
summer had corne, and so were looked upon as apt emblems 
of those who enjoyed the bright springtide of life, and no 
more." Thus, the violet is one ofthe flowers which Marina 
carries to hang "as a carpet on the grave" in " Perîcles" 
t.iv. I): 

' See p. 68. 
* " Plant-Lore of Shakespeare." p. 248. 



PLANTS. 

245 

"the yellows, blues, 
The purple violets, and marigolds, 
Shall, as a carpet, hang upon thy grave, 
"Vhile summer days do last." 
Again, in that exquisite passage in the " \Vinter's Tale "" 
(iv. 4), where Pcrdita enumerates the flowers of spring, she 
speaks of, 
"violets. dim. 
But sweeter than the lids of Juno's eyes, 
()r Cytherea's breath ;" 
upon which Mr. Singer' thus comments: "The eyes of Juno 
were as remarkable as those of l'allas, and 

• ()f a beauty never yet 
Equalled in hcight of tincture.'" 
The beauties of Greece and othcr ,\siatic nations tinged 
their eyes of an obscure violet color, by means of some un- 
guent, which was doubtless perfumed, like those for the hair, 
etc., mentioned by Athenmus. 
ll'il[ow. IZrom time immemorial the willow has been re- 
garded as the symbol of sadness, t[ence it was customary 
for those who were forsaken in love to wear willow garlands, 
a practice to which Shakespeare makes several allusions. In 
"Othello " (iv. 3), Desdemona, anticipating her death, says : 
" My mother had a maid call'd Barbara; 
She was in love; and he she lov'd prov'd mad. 
And did forsake ber : she had a song of--Willow ; 
An old thing "twas. but it express'd her fortune, 
And she died singing it : that song, to-night, 
Will hot go from my mind." 

The following is the song: " 

, "Shakespeare." vol. if. p. 76. 
"- "The old ballad on which Shakespeare formed this song is given 
in Percy's " Reliques of Ancient Poet W" (794. vol. i. p. 2o8). from a 
copy in the Pepysian collection. A different version of it may be seen 
in Chappell's ' Popular Music of the Olden Time  (a edition, vol. i. 
p. 2o7). The original ditty is the lamentation of a loyer for the incon- 
stancy of his mistress."--Dyce's "Shakespeare," vol. vil. p. 45o. 



246 

FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

"The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree, 
Sing ail a green willow ; 
Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee, 
Sing willow, willow, willow : 
The fresh streams ran by ber, and murmur'd her moans, 
Sing willow, willow, willow ; 
Her sait tears fell from her, and soften'd the stones, 
Sing willow, willow, willow : 
Sing ail a green willow nmst be my garland." 
And furthcr on Emi!ia says (v. 
" I will play the swan, 
And die in music.--[S)gi.] ' Willow, willow, willow.'" 
And, again, Lorenzo, in " Mcrchant of Venice" (v. ), nar- 
rates : 
" In such a night 
Stood Dido. with a willow in her hand, 
Upon the wild sea-banks." 
It vas, too, in rcference to this custom that Shakespcare, 
in " I Iamlet " (iv. 7), representcd poor Ophelia hanging her 
flowers on the "willow aslant a brook." " This tree," says 
Douce,  "might have been chosen as the symbol of sadness 
from the cxxxvii. Psalm (verse 2): ' We hanged out harps 
upon the willows ;' or else from a coincidence between the 
e'@ig-willow and falling tears." Another reason has been 
assigned. The Agiras castus was supposed to promote chas- 
tity, and " the willow be[ng of a much like nature," says 
Swan, in his " Speculum Mundi " (635), " it is yet a custom 
that he which is deprived of his love must wear a willow 
garland." Bona, thc sister of the King of France, on receiv- 
ing news of Edward the Fourth's marriage with Elizabeth 
Grey, exclaimed, 
" in hope he'll prove a widower shortly, 
l'll wear the willow garland for his sake." 
ll'orma,ood. The use of this plant in weaning infants is 
alluded to in " Romeo and Juliet" (i. 3), by Juliet's nurse, 
in the following passage: 

Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. to 5. 



PLANTS. 

247 

" For I had then laid wormwood to my dug, 
VChen it did taste the wormwood on the nipple 
Of my dug. and felt it bitter, pretty fool." 
t}'w. This tree, tyled by Shakespeare "the dismal yew" 
(Titus Andronicus," ii. 3), apart froln the many supersti- 
tions associated with it, bas been very frequently planted 
in churchyards, besides being used at funerals. Paris, in 
" Rolneo and Juliet" (v. 3), says : 

" Under yond yew-trees lay thee ail along, 
Holding thine ear close to the hollow ground ; 
So shall no foot upon the churchyard tread, 
Being loose, unfirm, with digging up of graves, 
But thou shalt hear it. » 

A.lthough various reasons have been assigned for planting 
the yew-tree in churchyards, it seems probable that the prac- 
tice had a superstitious origin. As witches werc supposed 
to exercise a powerful influence over the winds, they xvere 
believcd occasionally to exert their formidable power against 
religious edifices. Thus Macbeth says (iv. ): 

"Though you untie the winds, and let them fight 
Against the churches." 

To counteract, therefore, this imaginary danger, out ances- 
tors may have planted the yew-tree in their churchyards, 
hot only on account of its vitality as an evergreen, but as 
connected in some wa¥, in heathen times, with the influence 
of evil powers? In a stature ruade in the latter part of Ed- 
ward I.'s reign, to prevent rectors from cutting down trees 
in churchyards, we find the following: " Verum arbores ip- 
soe, propter ventorum impetus ne ecclesiis noceant, scepe plan- 
tantur."' 
The custom of sticking yew in the shroud is alluded to in 
the following song in " Twe!fth Night" (il. 4) : 

' Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. 244. 
 See Brand's "Pop. Anfiq.," I849, vol. ii. pp. 255-266. 



248 

FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

"My shroud of white, stuck all with yew, 
O, prepare it ! 
My part of death, no one so truc 
Did share it." 

Through being reckoned poisonous, it is introduced in" Mac- 
bcth "' (iv. ) i11 connection with the witchcs: 
"Gall of goat, and slips of yew, 
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse." 
" How much thc splitting or tearing off of the slip had 
to do with magic we learn from a piece of Slavonic folk- 
lore. It is unlucky to use for a beam a branch or a tree 
broken by the wind. Thc devil, or stolm-spirit, claires it as 
lais own, and, werc it used, the evil spirit would haunt the 
house. It is a broken branch the witches choose; a sliver'd 
slip the woodman will have none of. ''1 
Its epithct, "double-fatal " (" Richard II.," iii. 2), no doubt 
refcrs to thc poisonous quality of thc leaves, and on account 
of its wood being employed for ilastruments of death. Sir 
Stcphen Scroop, when telling Richard of Bolingbroke's re.- 
volt, declares that 
'" Thy very beadsmen learn to bend thelr bows 
Of double-fatal yew against thy state." 
It bas bcen suggested that the poison intended by the 
Ghost in " tlamlct " (i. 5}, when he speaks of the "juice of 
cursed hebenon," is that of the yew, and is the saine as Mar- 
lowe's "juice ofhebon" ("Jew of Malta," iii. 4)- The yew 
is called hebon by Spenser and by other writers of Shake- 
speare's age : and, in its various forms of eben, eiben, hiben, 
etc., this tree is so named in no less than rive different Euro- 
pean languages. From medical authorities, both of ancient 
and modern rimes, it would seem that the juice of the yew 
is a rapidly fatal poison; next, that the symptoms attend- 
ant upon yew-poisoning correspond, in a very remarkable 
manner, with those which follow the bites of poisonous 
snakes: and, lastly, that no other poison but the yew pro- 

' " Notes and Oueries," 5th series, vol. xii. p. 468. 



PLANTS. 249 
duces the " lazar-like" ulcerations on the body upon which 
Shakespcare, in this passage, lays so much stress.' 
Among the othcr cxplanations of this passage is the wdl- 
l«lown one which identifies "hcbenon" with henbanc. Mr. 
Beisly suggests that nightshade may be rotant, while Nares 
considcrs that ebony is meant. = 
From certain ancient statures it appears that every Eng- 
lishman, while archery was practised, was obliged to keep 
in his house either a bow of yew or some other wood? 

' Extract of a paper read by Rev. W. A. Harrison, New Shakespeare 
Society, 12th May, 1882. 
=See Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare ;" Nares's '" Glossary," 
ç'ol. i. p. 412 ; 13eisly's "Shakespeare's (;arden," p. 4- 
 Singer's " Shakespeare," vol. iv. p. 4e7. See a paper in the "Anti- 
quary'" (1882, ve»l. vi. p. I3)  by Mr. George Black, on the yew in Shake- 
spearian folk-lore. 



CHAPTER IX. 
INSECTS AND REPTII.ES. 
As Dr. Johnson has truly remarked, Shakespeare is "the 
poet of nature," for " his attention was hot confined to the 
actions of men; he was an exact survcyor of the inanimate 
world ; his descriptions have always some peculiarity, gath- 
ercd by contemplating things as they really exist. \Vhether 
lire or nature bc his subject, Shakcspearc shows plainly that 
he has secn with his mvn cycs." So, too, he was in the 
habit of taking minute observation of the popular notions 
relating to natural history, so many of which he has intro- 
duced into his plays, using them to no smalladvantage. In 
numerous cases, also, the peculiarities of certain natural ob- 
jects have furnished the poet with many excellent ncta- 
phors. Thus, in " Richard II." (ii. 3), Bolingbroke speaks 
of "the caterpillars of the commonwealth ;" and in "- Hen- 
ry VI." (iii. ) the Duke of York's reflection on thc destruc- 
tion of his hopes is, 
"Thus are my blossoms blasted in the bud, 
And caterpillars eat my leaves away,': 
their destructive powcrs being familiar. 
«lCzl. .An ancient naine for thc ant is " pismire," proba- 
bly a Danish word, from ]aid and o,re, signifying such ants 
as li-e in hillocks. In " I Ilenry IV." (i. 3) Hotspur says: 
'" Why, look you, I am whipp'd and scourg'd with rods, 
Nettled, and stung with pislnires, when I hear 
Of this vile politician, Bolingbroke." 
lYltc-bott/«. This xvell-known insect has often been used 
as a terre of reproach. Thus, in "e Henry IV." (v. 4, it 
furnishes an epithet applied by the abusive tonguc of Doll 
Tearsheet to the beadle who had her in custody. She re- 



INSECTS AND REPTILES. 251 
viles him as a "blue-bottle ro-gue," a terln, says Mr. Patter- 
son,' " evidently suggested by the similarity of the colors 
of his costume to that of the insect." 
t?ots. Our ancestors imagined that poverty or ilnproper 
food engendered these worms, or that they were the off- 
spring of putrefaction. In "  Henry IV." (ii. i), one of 
the carriers says: " Peas and bcans are as dank here as a 
dog, and that is the next way to give pbor jades the bots." 
And one of the misfortuncs of thc lniserable nag of Pctru-" 
chio (" Taming of the Shrew," iii. 2), is that he is so " be- 
gnawn with the bots." 
6"ra-l'«/. The prcsence of crickets in a house has gener- 
ally been regalded as a good omen, and said to prognosti- 
cate cheerfulness and plenty. Thus, Poins, in answer to 
the Prince's question in "  IIenry IV." (il. 4], " Shall we be 
mcrry?" replies, "_As merr¥ as crickets." lly many of our 
poets the cricket has been connected with cheerfulness and 
mirth. Thus, in Milton, " Il l'cnseloso" desires to be 

" Far from ail resort of mirth, 
Save the cricket on the hearth." 

It has not always, howcvcr, been regarded in the saine 
light, fol" Gay, iii his Pastoral ilge, among the rural 
prognostications of death, gives the following : 
"And shrilling crickets in the chimney cry'd." 
_And in Dryden's " CEdipus" occurs thc subjoined : 
"Owls, ravens, crickets, seem the watch of death." 

Lady Macbeth, also (" Macbeth," il. 2), in replying to the 
question of hcr husband aftcr the murder of Duncan, says : 

" I heard the owl scream, and the crickets cry." 

In " Cymbeline" (il. 2], also, when Iachimo, at midnight, 
comlnenccs his survey of the chalnber where hnogen lies 
sleeping, his first words refer to the chirping of crickets, 

 "Insects Mentioned by Shakespeare," I84I, p. 8. 



252 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
rcndcred ail the more audible by the repose which at that 
lnoment prevailed throughout the palace : 
"The crickets sing, and man's o'er-labour'd sense 
Repairs itself by test." 
Gilbert \Vhite, in his" llistory of Selborne" (853, p. I74), 
remarks that "it is the housewife's barometer, foretelling 
her when it will tain" and is prognostic, sometimes, she 
thinks, of ill or good luck, of the dcath of a near relation, or 
the approach of an absent lovcr. By bcing thc constant 
companiol of hcr solitary home, it naturally bccomcs the 
objcct of hcr superstition." ' 
Its supposed keen sense of hcaring is rcferred to in the 
" \Vintcr's Talc" (ii. ) by l[anaillius, who, on bcing asked 
by Hcrlnionc to tcll a talc, replies: 
" I will tell it softly; 
Yond crickets shall hot hear it." 
tTro. In the"Two Noble Kinsmen "(iii. 4, the Gaoler's 
Daughter says : 
"Would I COtlld find a fine frog ! he would tell me 
News from all parts o' the world ; then would I make 
A carack of a cockle-shell, and sail 
By east and north-east to the King of Pigmies, 
For he tells fortunes rarely.:' 
In days gone by frogs were extensively uscd fol" the pur- 
pose of divination. 
Gad-.ff3'. A common naine for this fly is the "brize" or 
" brcesc, '' an allusion to which occurs in " Troilus and Cres- 
sida" (i. 3), whcre Ncstor, speaking of the suffcrings which 
cattle endure ff-oto this insect, says : 
"The herd hath more annoyance by the breese 
Than by the figer." 
And in "Antony and Cle6patra" (iii. IO) Shakespeare 
' See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.." 849, vol. iii. pp. 19o, 19L 
' See Patterson's "Insects Mentioned by Shakespeare," 184I, pp. 
lO4, lO5. 



INSECTS AND REPTILES. 253 
makes the excited Scarus draw a comparison bctween the 
effect which this inscct produces on a herd of cattle and the 
abruptncss and sudden frenzy of Clcopatra's rctreat from the 
naval conflict : 
" Yon ribaudred nag of EKypt, 
Whom leprosy o'ertake ! i" the midst o' the fight, 
l.Vhen vantage like a pair of twins appear'd, 
Both as the saine, or rather ours the e|der,-- 
The breese upon ber, like a cow in June,-- 
Hoists sails, and flies." 
It is said that the tcrror this insect causes in cattle pro- 
ceeds solclv from the alarm occasioncd by "a peculiar sound 
it traits whilc hovcrin K for thc purpose of oviposition."' 
L«d3,-bh'd. This is used in " Romeo and Julict" (i. 3) as 
a terln of endcarment. Lady Capulet havin K inquired after 
her daughter Julict, the Nurse replics: 
" i bade her corne. What, lamb ! What, lady-bird ! 
God forbid ! Where's this girl ? What, Juliet !" 
Mr. Staunton regards this passage as an exquisite touch of 
nature. " The old nurse," he says," in her fond garrulity, 
uses 'lady-bird' as a terre of endearment ; but, recollecting 
its application to a fcmale ofloose manners, checks herself- 
'God forbid !' her darling should prove such a one." Mr. 
Dyce," however, considers this explanation incorrect, and 
gives the subjoined note: "The nurse says that she has 
already bid Juliet corne ; she then calls out, ' \Vhat, lamb ! 
What, lady-bird!' and Juliet hot yet making her appear- 
ance, she exclaims, ' God forbid ! Where's this girl?' The 
words ' God forbid ' being properly an ellipsis of' God forbid 
that any accident should keep her away,' but used here 
merely as an expression of impatience." 
Lisard. It xvas a common superstition in the tilne of 
Shakespeare that lizards were venolnous, a notion which 
probably originated in their singular form. Hence the liz- 

a '" Linnoean Transactions," vol, xv. p. 407 ; cf. Virgil's "Georgics," iii. 
1. 48. 
- "Glossary," 876, p. -38. 



25 4 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
ard's leg wag thought a suitable ingredient for the witches' 
caldron in "Macbeth" (iv. ). Suffolk, in " 2 Henry VI." 
(iii. 2), rcfers to this idea: 

"Their chiefest prospect murdering basilisks ! 
Their soffest touch as smart as lizards' stings. 

Again, in " 3 Henry VI." (ii. 2), Queen Margaret speaks of 

"venom toads, or lizards' dreadful stings." 

In " Troilus and Cressida" (v. ) it is classed with the toad 
and owl. 
l][ol]«. This term, as Mr. Patterson remarks in his " In- 
sects Mentioned by Shakespeare " (184 I, p. I64), does not 
awaken many pleasing associations. In the minds ofmost 
people it stands for an insect either contemptible ffoto its 
size and inertness, or positively obnoxious ff'oto its attacks 
on many articles of clothing. Thus Shakespeare, he says, 
employs the exprcssion "moth "to denote something trifling 
or extremely lninute. And in " King John " (iv. ) we have 
the touching appeal of Prince Arthur to Hubert, in which, 
for mote, he would substitute moth : 

"Arlhur. Is there no remedy ? 
ttubo:t. None, but to lose your eyes. 
Arlh«tr. 0 heaven !--that there were but a more in )'ours, 
A grain, a dust. a gnat, a wandering hair, 
Any annoyance in that precious sense! 
Then, feeling what small things are boisterous there, 
Your vile intent must needs seem horrible." 

See also " Henry V." (iv. . In these two passages, how- 
ever, the correct reading is probably "more. '' 
S«c¢l. A terre used by our old writers to signify a ser- 
pent was "a worm," which is still found in the north of 
England in the saine sense. It is used several times by 
Shakespeare; as, for instance, in " Measure for Measure" 
(iii. ), where the Duke, addressing Claudio, says : 

 Nares's "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 973. 



INSECTS AND REPTILES. 255 
"ThGu'rt by no means valiant ; 
For thou dost fear the sort and tender fork 
Of a poor worm." 
This passage also illustrates an error very prevalent in days 
gone by, that the forked tongue of the serpent tribe was 
their instrument of offence, without any thought of the 
teeth or fangs, which are its real weapons.' Again, the 
" blind-worm " or "slow-worm "--a little shake with very 
small eyes, falsely supposed to be venomous--is spoken of 
in "A Midsummer-Night's Dream " (ii. 2), in that charm- 
ing passage where the fairies are represented as singing to 
their queen, Titania : 
"You spotted snakes, with double tongue, 
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen ; 
Newts, and blind-worms, do no wrong, 
Corne hOt near our fairy queen." 
In "Macbeth" (iv. I), among the ingredients of the 
witches' caldron are 
"Adder's fork, and blind-worln'S sting." 
To quote a further allusion, Shakespeare, in "Timon of 
Athens" (iv. 3), speaks of 
"The gilded newt and eyeless venom'd worm." 
Massinger employs the saine terre in his " Parliament of 
Love" (iv. 2): 
"The sad father 
That sees his son stung by a shake to death, 
May, with more justice, stay his vengeful hand, 
And let the worm escape, than you vouchsafe him 
A minute to repent. '' 
There was an old notion that the serpent caused death 

i Cf. "Macbeth" (iii. 4) : 
"There the grown serpent lies : the worm, that's fled, 
Hath nature that in rime will renom breed." 
« XVorm is used for serpent or viper, in the Geneva version of the 
New Testament, in Acts xxvii. 4, 5. 



25 6 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
without pain, a popular fancy which Shakespeare has intro- 
duced in his "Antony and Clcopatra" (v. 2) : 
" Hast thou the pretty worm of Nilus there, 
That kills and pains not ?" 
The term "worm " was also occasionally used to signify a 
" poor creature," as also was the word "shake." Thus, iii 
the "Taming of the Shrew" (v. 2), Katharina says : 
"Corne, corne, you froward and unable worms ! 
My mind hath been as big as one of yours, 
My heart as great, my reason, haply, more." 
So, in "As You Like It " (iv. 3), Rosalind uses "shake " in 
the sense of reproach : "Well, go your way to her, for I see 
love hath ruade thee a tame snake." 
The serpent, as the cmblem of ingratitude, is alluded to 
by King Lear (il. 4), who, referring to his daughter, says 
how she 
"struck me with her tongue, 
Most serpent-like, upon the very heart : 
AIl the stor'd vengeances of heaven rail 
On her ingrateful top !" 
According to a popular belief, still credited, a poisonous 
bite could be cured by the blood of the viper which darted 
the poison. Thus, in " Richard II." (i. ), Mowbray says: 
"I ara disgrac'd, impeach'd, and baffled here. 
Pierc'd to the soul with slander's ç-enom'd spear. 
The vhich no balm tan cure, but his heart-blood 
Which breath'd this poison." 
In Cornwall it is still believed that the dead b6dy of a 
serpent, bruised on the wound it has occasioned, is an infal- 
lible remedy for its bite.: Ilence has originated the follow- 
ing rhyme : 
"The beauteous adder hath a sting, 
Yet bears a balsam too." 

 See Hunt's " Popular Romances of the West of England," 187I, 
p. 415; and Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 849, vol. iii. p. 27o. 



INSECTS AND REPTILES. 257 
The old notion that the shake, in casting off its slough, 
or skin, annually, is supposed to regain new vigor and 
fresh youth, is alluded to by King Itenry (" Henry V.," 
iv. I), who speaks of "casted slough and fresh legerity"-- 
Icgerity meaning lightness, nimbleness. In "Twelfth Night "' 
(il. 5), in the lettcr which Malvolio finds, thcre is this pas- 
sage: " to inure thysclfto what thou art like to be, cast thy 
humble slough and appear fresh." One of the most useful 
miracles which St. Patrick is reported to have performed 
was his driving the venomous, reptiles out of Ireland, and 
forbidding them to return. This tradition is probably alluded 
to by King Richard ('" Richard Il.," il. I: 
" Now for out Irish wars : 
We must supplant those rough rug-headed kerns, 
Which lire like renom, where no renom else, 
But only they, hath privilege to lire." 
The way, we are told, by which the saint performed this 
astounding feat of his supernatural power was by means of 
a drum. Even spidcrs, too, runs the Icgend, were included 
in this summary process of excommunicating the serpent 
race. One of the customs, therefore, observed on St. Pat- 
rick's day, is visiting Croagh Patrick. This sacred hill is sit- 
uated in the county of Mayo, and is said to have been the 
spot chosen by St. Patrick for banishing thc serpents and 
other noxious animals into the sea. 
In " Julius Caesar" (ii. I), where Brutus says, 
" It is the bright day that brings forth the adder; 
And that craves wary walking," 
we may compare the popular adage, 
" Match wind 
Wakes the ether (i. e., adder) and blooms the whin."  
S;idcr. This little creature, which, in daily lire, is seldom 
noticed except for its cobweb, the presence of which in a 
house generally betokens neglect, has, however, an interest- 

t Denham's " Weather Proverbs," 842. 
7 



258 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
ing history, being the subject of many a curious Iegend and 
quaint superstition. Thus, it has hOt escapcd the all-per- 
vading e.ve of Shakespeare, who has given us many curious 
scraps of folk-lore concerning it. In days gone by the web 
of the common house-spider was much in request for stop- 
ping the effusion of blood; and hence Bottom, in address- 
ing one of lais fairy attendants in "A Midsummer-Night'.q 
Dream " iiii. ), says : " I shall desire you of more acquaint- 
ance, good Master Cobweb : if I cut my finger, I shall make 
bold with you." 
Its medicinal virtues, however, do hot end here, for, in 
Sussex' it is used in cases of jaundice, many an old doc- 
tress prescribing "a lire spider rolled up in butter." It is 
stated, too, that the web is narcotic, and has been adminis- 
tered internally in certain cases of lever, with success) As 
a remedy for ague it has been considered most efficacious. 
Some years ago a lad)" in the south of Ireland was cele- 
brated far and near for her cure of this disorder. Her rem- 
edy was a large house-spider taken alive, enveloped in trea- 
cle or preserve. Of course, the parties were carefully kept 
in ignorance of what the wonderful remedy was." 
According to a universal belief, spiders wcre formerly 
considered highly venomous, in allusion to which notion 
King Richard II. (iii. 2), in saluting the "dear earth" on 
which he stands, after " late tossing on the breaking seas," 
accosts it thus: 
'" Feed not thy sovereign's oe. my gentle earth, 
Nor with thy sweets comfort lais ravenous sense ; 
But let thy spiders, that suck up thy renom, 
And heavy-gaited toads, lie in their way, 
Doing annoyance to the treacherous feet, 
Which with usurping steps do trample thee." 
Again. Leontes, in the " Winter's Tale '° (il. ), remarks : 
"There may be in the cup 
A spider steep'd." 

' " Folk-Lore Record," 878, vol. i. p. 45- 
= See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," vol. iii. pp. 223, 287, 381. 
 See article on "Spider-Lofe," in Gra2#l¢'«, November 13, 188o. 



INSECTS AND REPTILES. 259 
In " Cymbeline " (iv. 2) and " Richard III." (i. 2) Shake- 
speare classes it with adders and toads; and in the latter 
play (i. 3), when Queen Margaret is hurling imprccations on 
hcr encmies, she is turned from hcr encounter with Glostcr 
by a remark ruade by Queen Flizabeth ; and while a pitying 
spirit seems for a minute to supplant her rage, she addresses 
her successor in these words: 

" Poor painted queen, vain flourish of my fortune 
Why strew'st thou sugar on that bottled spider, 
Whose deadly web ensnareth thee about ?" 
In anothcr part of thc same play (iv. 4) the epithet " bot- 
tled " is again applicd in a similar manncr by Queen Eliza- 
beth : 
"That bottled spider, that foul bunch-back'd toad 
Ritson, on these two passages, has the following rcmarks on 
the term, bottled spider: " A large, bloated, glossy spider, 
supposed to contain renom proportionate to its size." 
The origin of the silvery threads of gossamer which are 
so frequently seen extending from bush to bush was for- 
merly unknown. Spenser, for instance, speaks of them as 
"scorched dew ;" and Thomson, in his "Autumn," mentions 
" the filmy threads of dcw evaporate ;" which probably, says 
Mr. Patterson,' refers to the saine object. The gossamer is 
now, however, known to be the production of a minute spi- 
der. It is twice mentioned by Shakespeare, but not in con- 
nection with the little being from which it originates. One 
of the passages is in " Romeo and Juliet " (il. 6) : 
"A loyer may bestride the gossamer 
That idles in the wanton summer air, 
And yet not fall ; so light is vanity." 
The other occurs in " King Lear" (iv. 6), where Edgar ac- 
costs lais father, after lais supposed leap from that 
"cliff, whose high and bending head 
Looks fearfully in the confined deep." 

' " Insects Mentioned by Shakespeare," 84, p. ŒE2o. 



260 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
He says : 
"Hadst thou been aught but gossamer, feathers, air, 
So many fathom clown precipitating. 
Thou'dst shiver'd like an egg." 
III each case it is expressive ofextreme lightness. Nares, in 
his "Glossary" (vol. i. p. 378), considers that the terre "gossa- 
mer" originally came from the French gassalltpiizc, the cot- 
ton-tree, and is equivalcnt to cotton-wool, tte says that it 
also means any light, downy matter, such as the flying seeds 
of thistles and other plants, anti, in poetry, is hot unfi'e- 
quently used to denote the long, floating cobwebs seen in 
film weathcr. In the above passage from " King Lear" he 
tbinks it has the original sense, and in the one from " Ro- 
meo and Julict" probably the last. Some are of opinion 
that the word is derived flom boss, the gorse or furze.  In 
Gerlnany thc popular belief attributes the manufacture of 
thc gossamer to the dwarfs and elves. Of King Oberon, it 
may be lcmelnbcrcd, wc are told, 
" A rich mantle he did wear, 
Made of tinsel gossamer, 
Bestarred over with a few 
Diamond drops of morning dew." 
Hogg, too, introduccs it as a vchicle fit for the faily bands, 
which he describes as 
"sailing 'mid the golden air 
In skitïs of yielding gossamer." 
ad. Among the vulgar errors of Shakespeare's day 
was the belief that the head of the toad contained a stone 
possessing great medicinal virtues. In "As You Like It," 
(il. I), the Duke says : 
"Sweet are the uses of adversity ; 
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, 
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head." 
' See Croker's "Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ire- 
land," edited by T. Wright. 1862, p. 215. 



INSECTS AND REPTILES. 

Lupton, in his " One Thousand Notable Things," says that 
"a toad-stone, called Cr,'amli»a, touching any part enven- 
omed by the bite of a rat, wasp, spider, or other venomous 
beast, ceases the pain and svelling thereof." In the Londes- 
borough Collection is a silver ring of the fifteenth century, 
in which one of these stones is set.' 
It was also generally believed that the toad was highly 
venomous--a notion to which there are constant allusions 
in Shakespeare's plays; as, for example, in the above pas- 
sage, where it is spoken of as " ugly and venomous." In 
" Richard III." (i. _'2, I.ady Arme says to Gloster: 
" Never hung poison on a fouler toad." 
And, in another scene (i. 3), Qucen lIargaret speaks of" this 
pois'nous bunch-back'd toad." 
Once more, in "Titus Andronicus" (iv. "2_), the Nurse de- 
scribes Queen Tamora's babe as being "as loathsome as a 
toad." There is doubtless some truth in this belief, as the 
following quotation from Mr. Frank Buckland's " Curiosities 
of Natural History" seems to show: "Toads are generally 
reported to be poisonous ; and this is perfectly true to a cer- 
tain extent. Like the lizards, they have glands in their skin 
which secrete a white, highly acid fluid, and just behind the 
head are seen two eminences like split beans: if these be 
pressed, this acid fluid will corne out--only let the operator 
mind that it does hot get into his eyes, for it generally 
cornes out with a jet. There are also otherglands dispersed 
through the .qkin. A dog will never take a toad in his mouth, 
and the reason is that this glandular secretion burns his 
tongue and lips. It is also poisonous to the human subject. 
lIr. Blick, surgeon, of Islip, Oxfordshire,  tells me that a man 
once marie a wager, when halfdrunk, in a village public-house, 
that he would bite a toad's head off; he did so, but in a 
fexv hours his lips, tongue, and throat began to swell in a 

' See lqrand's " Pop. Antiq.," vol. ii. pp. 5o-55 ; Douce's " Illustra- 
tions of Shakespeare," pp. 8-83. 
" See " Notes and Queries," 6th serles, vol. v. pp. 32. 173 : also, Gil- 
bert White's " Natural History of Selborne," letter xvii. 



262 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
most alarming way, and he was dangerously ill for some 
time." 
Owing to the supposed highly venomous character of the 
toad. " superstition," says Pennant,' "gave it preternatural 
powers, and ruade ita principal ingredient in the incanta- 
tions of nocturnal hags." Thus, in Macbeth" (iv. I ), the 
witch says : 
"Toad that under cold stone, 
Days and nights bas thirty-one 
Swelter'd renom sleeping got, 
I3oil thou first i' the charmed pot." 
Pennant adds that this was intendcd " for a design of the 
first consideration, that of raising and bringing before the 
eyes of Macbeth a hateful second-sight of the prosperity of 
Banquo's line. This shows the mighty poxver attributed to 
this animal by the dealcrs in the magic art." 
The evil spirit, too, has been likened by one of out toaster 
bards to the toad, as a semblance of all that is devilish and 
disgusting (" Paradise Lost," iv. 8oo) : 
" Him they round. 
Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve, 
Assaying with ail his devilish art to reach 
The organs of her fancy." 
In " Macbeth" (i. I), the paddock or toad is made the 
name of a familiar spirit : 
" Paddock  calls.--Anon !" 
Il'as/,. So easily, we are told,  is thc wrathful tempera- 
ment of this insect aroused, that extreme irascibility can 
scarcely be better expressed than by the terre " waspish." 
It is in this sense that Shakespeare has applied the epithet, 
" her waspish-headed son," in the " Tempest " (iv. ), where 
e are told that Cupid is resolved to be a boy outright. 
Again, in " As You Like It " (iv. 3), Silvius says : 

"Zoology," 766, vol. iii. p. 
Cf. " Hamlet," iii. 4 ; here paddock is used for a toad. 
Patterson's "Insects Mentioned by Shakespeare" 184, p. 37. 



1NSECTS AND REPTILES. 

-,6 3 

"I'll use you for my mirth, yea, for my laughter, 
When you are waspish."  
lI'Mcr-[:ly. This little inscct, which, on a sunny da)-, may 
be seen almost on evcry pool, dimpling the glassy surface 
of the water, is used as a terre of reproach by Shakespcare. 
Thus, Hamlet (v. 2), speaking of Osric, asks Horatio, 
"Dost know this water-fl)'?" In "Troilus and Cressida" 
(v. I), Thersites exclaims : "Ah, how thc poor world is pes- 
tered with such water-flics, diminutives of natare." John- 
son says it is the proper emblem of a busy trifler, bccause it 
skips up and down upon the surface of the watcr without 
any apparent purpose. 
' Cf. "Titus Andronicus," il. 3; " IIcnrï VIII.," iii. 3- 

" I know not the contents ; but, as I guess 
By the stern brow and waspish action 
Which she did use as she was writing of it, 
It bears an angry tenor." 
Again, in the "Taming of the Shrcw" (il. ), Petruchio ad- 
dresses his intended spouse in language not highly compli- 
menta W : 
"Pal. Conle, corne, you wasp ; i' faith, you are too angry. 
A-ath. If I be waspish, best beware my sting. 
I¥t. bly remedy is, then, to pluck it out." 
In the celebrated sccne in " Julius Coesar" (iv. 3),in which 
the reconciliation between Brutus and Cassius is cffected, 
the word is used in a similar sense : 



CItAPTER X. 
FOLK-MEDICINE. 
\VITHOUT discussing the extent of Shakespeare's tech- 
nical medical knowledge, the following pages will suffice to 
show that he was fully acquainted with many of the popu- 
lar notions prevalent in his day respecting certain diseases 
and their cures. These, no doubt, he collected parti e' ri-oto 
the literature of the pcriod, with which ho was so fully con- 
versant, besides gathcring a good deal of information on 
the subject from daily observation. Anyhow, he has be- 
queathcd to us some interesting particulars relating to the 
folk-medicine ofbygone timcs, which is of value, in so far as 
it helps to illustrate the history of mcdicine in past years. 
In Shakespeare's day the condition of medical science was 
very unlike that at the present day. As Mr. Goadby, in his 
" Egland of Shakespeare" (88, p. m4), remarks, "the 
man of science was always more or less of an alchemist, and 
the students of medicine were usually extensive dealers in 
charms and philtres." If a man wanted bleeding he went 
to a barber-surgeon, and when he required medicine he con- 
sulted an apothecary; the shop of the latter being well de- 
scribed by Romco (v. ): 
"And in his needy shop a tortoise hung, 
An alligator stuff'd, and other skins 
Of ill-shap'd fishes ; and about his shelves 
A beggarly accourir of empty boxes, 
Green earthen pots, bladders and musty seeds, 
Remnants of pack-thread and old cakes of roses, 
Were thinly scattered, to make up a show." 
Such a man was as ready " to sell love-philtres to a rnaidcn 
as narcotics to a friar." 
'Ice'di¢g. Various remedies were in use in Shakespeare's 



FOLK-IIEDICINE. e6 5 
day to stop blceding. Thus, a key, on account of thc cold- 
ness of thc mctal of whicla it is composed, was often cm- 
ploycd; hcnce thc terre "key-cold" became proverbial, 
and is rcferred to by many old writers. In " Richard III." 
(i. 2", Lad), Arme, speaking of thc corpse of King I lenry the 
Sixth, says 
'" Poor key-cold figure o[ a holy king." 
In the " Rape of Lucrcce " (1. t774) the saine expression is 
used : 
" And then in key-cold Lucrece' bleeding stream 
He falls, and bathes the pale fear in his face." 
In Beaumont and Fletchcr's " \Vild Goose Chase'" (iv. 3) 
we read : " For till thcy be kcy-cold dead, there's no trust- 
ing of 'em 
Another common remedy was the one alluded to in " King 
Lear" (iii. 7), where one of the servants says: 
" I'II fetch some flax, and whites of eggs, 
To apply to his bleeding face." 
This passage has been thought to be parodicd in Ben Jon- 
son's play, "The Case is Altered " (ii. 4) : " Go, get a white 
of an egg and a little flax, and close the breach of the head ; 
it is the most conducible thing that can be." lIr. Gifford, 
however, has shown the incorrcctness of this assertion, point- 
ing out that Jonson's play was written in I599, some years 
before " King Lear" appearcd, while the allusion is " to a 
method of cure common in Jonson's tim6 to evcry barber- 
surgeon and old woman in the kingdom. ''= 
Cobxvebs are still used to stanch the bleeding from small 
wounds, and Bottom's words seem to refer to this remedy 
of domestic surgery : " I shall desire you of more acquaint- 
ance, good llaster Cobweb ; if I cut my finger, I shall make 
bold with you." 

t Sec Nares's "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 482 ; also, Brand's" Pop. Antiq.," 
1849, vol. iii. p. 3   ; Henderson's " Folk-Lore of Northern Counties," 
1879, pp. 68, 169. 
« Aldis Wright's "Notes to King Lear." 877. p. 79. 



266 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Anciently, says Mr. Singer, "a superstitious belief was 
annexed to the accident of bleeding at the nose;" hence, in 
the " Ierchant of Vcnice" (il. 5), Launcelot says: '" It was 
not for nothing that my nose fcll a-bleeding on Black Mon- 
day last." In days gone by, it was customary with our fore- 
fathcrs to be bled periodically, in spring and in autumn, in 
allusion to which custom King Richard rcfers (" Richard 
II.," i. l), when he says to his uncle: 
"ç)ur doctors say this is no month to bleed." 

Itcnce the ahnanacs of the time generally gave particular 
seasons as the most bencficial for bleeding. The forty-sev- 
enth aphorism of ttippocrates (sect. 6) is, that "pcrsons who 
are bencfited by venesection or purging should be bled or 
purged in thc spring." 
][)ducss. The exact meaning of the term "sand-blind," 
which occurs in the " Mcrchant of Venice " (il. 2), is some- 
what obscure : 

'" Laztm-dol. 0 heavens, this is nay true-begotten father ! who, being 
naore than sand-blind, high gravel blind, knows nae hot. 
Gobbo. Alack, sir, I ana sand-blind, I know you hot." 

It probably means very dim-sighted,' and in Nares's 
"Glossary '' it is thus explained: " Having ara imperfect 
sight, as if there was sand in the eye." The expression is 
used by Beaumont and Flctcher in " Love's Cure" (ii. ): 
"Why, signors, and my honest neighbours, will you impute 
that as a neglcct of my friends, which is ara imperfection in 
me? I have been semi-b/ira{ from my infancy." The terre 
was probably ont in vulgar use? 
_B[ish'r. In the following passage of "Timon of Athens" 
(v. ), Timon appears to refer to the old superstition that a 
lie produces a blister on the tongue, though, in the malice 

Dyce's" Glossary," p. 381 ; cf. the word " Berlué, pur-blinded, ruade 
sand-blind," Cotgrave's " Ff. and Eng. Dict." 
Vol. ii. p. 765. 
Bucknill's "Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare,'" p. 93- 



FOLK-MEDICINE. 267 
of his rage, he imprecatcs the minor punishment on truth, 
and the old surgery of cauterization on falsehood :' 
"Thou sun, that comfort'st, burn !--Speak, and be hang'd ; 
For each true vord, a blister! and each false 
Be as a caut'rizing to the foot o' the tongue, 
Consuming it with speaking !" 
,Ve may also compare the passage in " ,Vintcr's Tale '" (il. 2), 
wherc Paulina dcclares : 
" If I prove honey-mouth'd, let my tongue blister, 
And never to my red-look'd anger be 
The trumpet any more. "= 
_Bow-achc. This was a nicknamc, in bygone years, for the 
Lu«s vcu«rca, an allusion to which we find in " Troilus and 
Cressida" (il. 3). where Thcrsites speaks of" the bone-ache" 
as " the curse dcpendent on those that var for a placket." 
Another naine for this disease was the " brenning or burn- 
ing," a notice of which we find in " King Lear" (iv. 6). 
17ruis«. A favorite remedy in days past for bruises vas 
parmaceti, a corruption of spermaceti, in allusion to which 
Hotspur, in "  Henry IV." (i. 3), speaks of it as " the sov- 
ereign'st thing on earth for an inward bruise." So, too, in Sir 
T. Overbury's" Characters," I66 [" An Ordinarie Fencer "] : 
" IIis wounds are seldom skin-deepe; for an iwardbruisc, 
lambstones and sweetbreads are his only spermaceti." A 
well-known plant called the " Shepherd's Purse " bas been 
popularly nicknamed the " Poor Man's Parmacetti," being a 
joke on the Latin word bursa, a purse, which, to a poor 
man, is ahvays the best remedy for his bruises? In " Romeo 
and Juliet " (i. 2), a plantain-leaf is pronounced to be an ex- 
cellent cure " for your broken shin." Plantain-water vas a 
remedy in common use with the old surgeons.' 

13ucknill's "Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare," p. 258. 
Cf., too, "Love's Labour's Lost" (v. 2) : 
"A blister on his sweet tongue, with my heart, 
That put Armado's page out of his part." 
Dr. Prior's " Popular Names of British Plants," 187o, p. 85. 
"The Medical Knovledge of Shakespeare," 86o, p. 78. 



268 

FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 

l?,ttbtkc. According 
pimple." Nares says it 
or something like ;" and 
tionary of Archaic and 
botch or imposthume. 

to Johnson, this denoted "a red 
is "a corl'upt word for a carbuncle, 
Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, in lais" Dic- 
Provincial \Vords," defines it as a 
It occurs in " Henry V." (iii. 6), 

whcre Flucllcn describcs i;aldolph's face as "all bubukles." 
Ihtru. The llOtiOll of one heat driving out another gave 
fise to thc old-fashioned custom of placing a burned part 
near the tire to drive out the fire--a practice, says Dr. Buck- 
nill,' certainly hot without bencfit, acting on the sanie prin- 
ciplc as the application of turpcntine and othcr stinqulants 
to rcccnt burns. This was one of the many instances of 
the ancient homoeopathic doctrine, that what hurts will also 
cure. œee Thus, iii " Kirlg John " (iii. ), l'andulph speaks of it : 
"And falsehood falsehood cures : as tire cools tire 
Within the scorched veins of one new burn'd." 
Again, in the " Two Gcntlclqen of Vcrona" (il. 4), lPl'oteus 
tells how : 
"Even as one heat ano:-her heat expels, 
()r as one nail by strength drives out another, 
So the remembrance of my former love 
Is by a newer object quite forgotten." 
We may also compare thc words of Mowbray iii '" Richard 
II." (i. I), where a similar idea is contained : 
"I ara disgrac'd, impeach'd, and baffted here ; 
Pierc'd to the soul with slander's venom'd spear, 
The which no balm can cure, but his heart-blood 
Which breath'd this poison." 
Once more, in " Romco and Julict" (i. 2), Benvolio relates 
h o xv 
"one tire burns out another's burning, 
One pain is lessen'd by another's anguish ; 
Turn giddy, and be holp by backward turning; 
One desperate grief cures with another's languish." 
g_ataract. One ofthe popular names for this disease ofthc 
' "The Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare,"  86o, p. 65. 
" See Tylor's " Primitive Culture," vol. i. p. 76L 



FOLK-MEDICINE. 269 
eye was the " web and thc pin." Markham, in lais " Cheap 
and Good Husbandry" (bl« i. chap. 37), thus describes it in 
horses: " But for the watt, pearlc, pin, or web, which are 
evils grown in or upon the eye, to take theln off, take the 
juyce of the berb betin and wash the eyc therewith, it will 
weare the spots away." Florio (" Ital. Dict.") gives the fol- 
lowing : " Catalatta is a dinmesse of sight occasioned by hu- 
mores bardencd in the eies, called a cataract or a pin and a 
web." Shakespeare uses the terre in the " \Vinter's Tale" 
(i. 2), where Leontes spcaks of 
"ail eyes blind 
With the pin and web0 but theirs 
and in " King I.car'" (iii. 4), alluding to "the foul ficnd 
Flibbeltigibbct," says, " he gives the web and the pin."' 
Acerbi, in lais " Travels" (vol. il. p. 29o), has given the Lap- 
land mcthod of cure for this disease. In a fl-agment of an 
old medical treatise it is thus describcd : "._nother sykenes 
ther byth of 3'caclz,- ou a z,«bbc, a nothcr a wem, that hydyth 
the myddel of the yezen; and this bes to maners, othcr 
whilys lac is wbite and thynne, and other whilys be is 
thykke, as vhcnne the obtalmye ne is noght clene yhe!yd 
up, bote the rote abydyth styIle. Other whilys the webbc is 
noght white but rede, other blake." = In the Stature of the 
34 and 35 of Henry VIII. a pin and web in the cye is 
recited anaong the "customable diseases," which honest 
persons, not being surgeons, might treat with herbs, roots, 
and waters, with the knovledge of whose nature God had 
endowed them. 
Chilbhi»s. Tbese are probably alluded to by the Fool in 
"King Iear" (i. 5): " If a man's brains vere in's heels, 
were't hot in danger of kibes ?" Hamlet, too. sa.vs (v. ): 
"thc age is grown so picked, that the toe of the peasant 
cornes so near the beel of the courtier, be galls lais kibe." 
1),rmit3,. It was an old prejudice, which is hot quite ex- 

 See Nares's "Glossary," vol. ii. pp. 66o, 66 ; Dyce's "Glossary," 
p. 322, 
 Ouoted in Singer's "Shakespeaz-e." 



270 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
tinct, that those who are defective or deformed are marked 
by nature as prone to mischief. Thus, in "Richard III." 
(i. 3), Margaret says of Richard, Duke of Gloster : 
"Thou elvish-mark'd, abortive, rooting hog ! 
Thou that was seal'd in thy nativity 
The slave of nature, and the son of hell." 
She calls him ha, in allusion to his cognizance, which was a 
boar. A popular expression in Shakespeare's day for a de- 
formed person was a" stigmatic." It denoted any one who 
had been stim«tiat, or burned with an iron, as an igno- 
minious punishment, and hence was employed to represent 
a person on whom nature has set a mark of deformity. 
Thus, in " 3 I Ienry VI." (ii. 2), Queen Margaret says : 
"But thou art neither like thy sire, nor data ; 
But like a foui misshapen stigmatic 
Mark'd by the destinies to be avoided, 
As venom toads, or lizards' dreadful stings." 
Again, in " 2 Henry VI." (v. 1), young Clifford says to Rich- 
ard : 
"Foul stigmatic, that's more than thou canst tell." 
\Ve may note, too, how, in "A Midsummer-Night's Dream" 
(v. I), mothers' marks and conenital forms are deprecated 
by Oberon from the issue of the happy loyers: 
"And the blots of Nature's hand 
Shall not in their issue stand ; 
Never mole, hare-lip, nor ar, 
Nor mark prodigious, such as are 
Despised in nativity, 
Shall upon their chilJren be." 
Indecd, constant allusions are to be met with in out old 
writers relatin to this subject, showing how strong were the 
feelings of out forefathers on the point. But, to give one 
further instance of this superstition given by Shakespeare, 
we may quot,e the words of King John (iv. 2), with refer- 

Cf. " King John " (iii. ,), where Constance glves a catalogue of con- 
[;enital defects. 



FOLK-MEDICINE. 2 7 I 
ence to Hubert and his supposed murder of Prince Ar- 
thur: 
"A fellow by the hand of Nature mark'd, 
Quoted. and sign'd, to do a deed of shame, 
This murder had hot corne into my mind." 
This adaptation ofthe mind to the deformity, ofthe body 
concurs, too, with Bacon's thcory: " Dcformed persons arc 
commonly even with nature; for, as nature hath done iii by 
them, so do they by nature, bcing void of natural affection, 
and so they hare thcir revenge on nature." 
Drownhtg. The old superstition' of its bcing dangerous 
to save a person ri'oin drowning is supposed, says Mr. l[alli- 
wcll-Phillipps, to bc alludcd to in "Twclfth Night." It was 
oving to the belicf that the person saved would, sooner or 
later, injure thc man who savcd him. Thus, in Sir Waltcr 
Scott's " Pirate," Bryce, the pedler, warns the hero hot to 
attempt to resuscitate an inanimate form which the waves 
hadwashed ashore on the mainland of Shetland. "'Are you 
mad,' exclaimed the pedlcr, ' you that have livcd sae lang in 
Zetland, to risk the saving of a drowning man? \Vot ye 
not if ye bring him to life again he will do you some capital 
in jury ?' " 
Etiho,. A popular naine for this terrible malady was 
the "falling-sickness," because, when attacked with one 
of these fits, the patient falls suddenly to the ground. In 
"Julius Coesar" (i. 2) it is thus mentioned in the following 
dialoguc : 
" Cdssitts. But, sort, I pray you : what, did Coesar swoon ? 
Casca. He fell down in the market-place, and foamed at mouth, and 
was speectiless. 
Brutus. 'Tis very like; he bath the falling-sickness. 
Cassius. No, Coesar bath it hot; but you, and I, 
And honest Casca, we have the falling-sickness." 
Fisttthr. At the prescnt daya fistula mcans an abscess 
external to the rectunq, but in Shakespeare's da)" it was used 

1 ,,Handbook Index to Shakespeare," p. 5 o. Seê " Notes and 
Queries" for superstitions connected with drowning, 5th series, vol. 
ix. pp.   , z8, 478, 516 ; vol. x. pp. 38, -76 ; vol. xi. pp.  9, zïS. 



272 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
in a more general signification for a burrowing abscess in 
any situation.' The play of " All's Well that Ends Well" 
has a spccial interest, because, as Dr. Bucknill says, its very 
plot may be said to be medical. "The orphan daughter of 
a physician cures thc kinff of a fistula by means of a secret 
remedy left to hcr as a great trcasure by her father. The 
royal reward is the choice of a husband among the nobles of 
the court, and ' thereby hangs the tale.' " The story is taken 
from the talc of Gilletta of ]Narbonne, lu the " Decameron " 
of Boccaccio. It came to Shakespeare through the medium 
of Painter's " Palace of Pleasure," and is to be found in the 
first vohlme, which was printed as early as  566? Thc story 
is thus introduccd by Shakespcarc in thc following dialoguc 
(i. ), whcrc the Countess of Rousillon is represented as in- 
quiring: 
"What hope is there of his majcsty's amendment ? 
Laf. He bath abandoned his physicians, madam; under whose 
practices he bath persecuted rime with hope ; and finds no other ad- 
vantage in the process but only the losing of hope by rime. 
Comzl. OEhis young gentlewoman had a father--O, that 'had !' how 
sad a passage 'tis !--whose skill was almost as great as his honesty ; 
had it strctched so far, would bave ruade nature immortal, and death 
should have play for lack of work. Would, for the king's sake, he 
were living! I think it would be the death of the king's disease. 
Laf. How callcd you the man you speak of, madam ? 
Comzt. He was famous, sir, in his profession, and it was his great 
right to be so ; Gerard de Narbon. 
Laf. He was excellent, indeed, madam ; the king very lately spoke 
of him admiringly and mourningly; he was skilful enough to bave 
lived still, if knowledge could be set up against mortality. 
Ber. What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of? 
Laf. A fistula, my lord." 
The account given of Helena's se:ret remedy and the 
king's reason for rejecting it give, says Dr. ]3ucknill, al ex- 
cellent idea of the state of opinion with regard to the prac- 
tice of physic in Shakespeare's rime." 
lit. Formerly the terre "rapture" was synonymous with 

Dr. Bucknill's "Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare," p. 95- 
Singer's "Shakespeare," vol. iii. p. 225. 



a fit or trance. 
(il. I3 : 

FOLK-MEDICINE. 273 
The word is used by Brutus in "Coriolanus" 
"your prattling nurse 
Into a rapture lets her baby cry 
While she chats him." 

Steevens quotes from the " ttospital for London's Fol- 
lies" (16o2), where Gossip Luce says: "Your darling will 
weep itself into a rapture, ifyou take hot good heed."' 
Gold. It was a long-prevailing opinion that a solution of 
gold had great medicinal virtues, and that the incorruptibil- 
ity of the mctal might be colnmunicated to a body impreg- 
nated with it. Thus, in " 2 llenry IV." (iv. 4), Prince IIenry, 
in the course of lais address to lais father, says: 
'" Coming to look on you. thinking you dead, 
And dead almost, my liege, to think you were, 
I spake unto this crown, as having sense, 
And thus upbraided it : ' The care on thee depending 
Hath fed upon the body of my father ; 
Therefore, thou, best of gold. art worst of gold ; 
()ther, less fine in carat, is more precious, 
Preserving life in medicine potable.'" 
Potable gold was one of the panaceas of ancient quacks. 
In John Wight's translation of the " Secretes of Alexis" is 
a receipt "to dissolve and reducte golde into a potable licour, 
which conserveth the youth and healthe of a man, and will 
heale every disease that is thought incurable, in the space 
of seven daies at the furthest." The receipt, however, is a 
highly complicated one, the gold being acted upon by juice 
of lemons, honey, common salt, and aq¢ta z,itw, and distilla- 
tion frequently repeated from a " urinall of glass "--as the 
oftener it is distilled the better it is. "Thus doyng," it is 
said, "ye shall have a right naturall, and perfecte potable 
golde, whereof somewhat taken alone every monthe once 
or twice, or at lcast with the said licour, whereof we have 
spoken in the second chapter of this boke, is very excellent 
to preserve a man's youthe and healthe, and to heale in a 

 Sec Singer's "Shakespeare," vol. vii. p. 347. 
I8 



274 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
fewe daies any disease rooted in a man, and thought incura- 
ble. Thc said golde will also be good and profitable fol 
diverse other operations and effectes: as good wittes and 
diligent searchcrs of the secrctes of nature may easily judge." 
A further allusion to gold as a medicine is probab]y ruade 
ill "All's \Vcll that Ends \Vell " (v. 3), where the King says 
to Bertram : 
"Plutus himself. 
That knows the tinct and multiplying medicine, 
Hath not in nature's mystery more science, 
Than I have in this ring." 

Chaucer, too, in his-sarcastic excuse for the doctor's ava- 
rice, refers to this old belicf: 
" And yet he was but esy of despence : 
He kept that he wan in the pestilence. 
For gold in physic is a cordial ; 
Therefore he loved it in special." 

Once lnore, in Sir Kenelm Digby's " Receipts" (674), we 
are told that the gold is to be calcined with three salts, 
ground with sulphur, burned in a reverberatory fumace 
with sulphur twelve times, then digested with spirit of wille 
"which will bc tincted very yellow, of which, few drops 
for a dose in a fit vehicle hath wrought great effects." 
The terre "grand liquor" is also used by Shakespeare for 
the aurum otabi[« of thc alchemist, as in "Tempest" (v. I) : 

"Where should they 
Find this grand liquor that hath gilded them ?" 

Good l'car. This is evidently a corruption of gt, zrfd'rc, a 
disease derived froln the French gottgc, a common camp- 
follower, and probably alludes to the 3[orl, us Gallicus. Thus, 
in " King Lear" (v. 3), we read : 

"The good-years shall devour them, flesh and fell, 
Ere they shall make us weep." 

With the corruption, however, of the spelling, the word lost 
in rime its real meaning, and it is, consequently, round in 



FOLK-MEDIClNE. 275 
passages x here a sense opposite to the true one is intended.' 
It \vas often used in cxclamations, as in " Merry \Vives of 
Windsor" (i. 4) : " \Ve must give folks leave to prate : what, 
the good-jear !" In "Troilus and Cressida" (v. I), Thersites, 
by the " rotten diseases of the south," probably meant the 
«[or3us G'allicns. 
Hamtk«rchi, f. It was formerly a common practice in 
England for those who were sick to wear a kerchief on their 
heads, and still continues at the present day among the 
common people in many places. Thus, in "Julius Coesar" 
(il. I), we find the following allusion : 
"¢), what a time bave you chose out. brave Caius. 
To wear a kerchief ! Would you were not sick !" 
" If," says Fuller, " this county [Cheshire] hath brcd no 
writers in that faculty [physic], the wonder is the less, if it 
be true what I read, that if auy here be sick, they make him 
a posset and tye a kerchief on lais head, and if that will hot 
mend him, then God be merciful to him. '' 
Ivstcria. This disorder, which, in Shakespeare's day, we 
are told, was known as " the mother," or t[ystcrica tassio, 
was not considered peculiar to women only. It is probable 
that, when the poet vrote the following lines in " King 
Lear" (ii. 4), where he makes the king say, 
"O, how this mother swells up toward my heart ! 
ttystcricai3assio . down. thou climbing sorrow, 
Thy element's below !--Where is this daughter ?" 
he had in view the subjoined passages ri'oto Harsnet's " Dec- 
laration of Popish Impostures " (I6O3), a work which, it has 
been suggested,  "he may bave consulted in order to fur- 
nish out his character of Tom of Bedlam with demoniacal 
gibberish." The first occurs at p. 2 5 : " Ma. Maynie had a 
spice of the hyst«rha ipassh, as it seems, from lais youth ; hee 

' Wright's "Notes to King Lear" (877), p. 96. 
 "Worthies of Enland " (662), p. 8o. 
 Singer's "Shakespeare," pp. 384. 385; Wright's "Notes to King 
Lear," pp. 54, 55- 



276 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
himselfe termes it the moother (as you may see in his con- 
fessione)." Master Richard Mainy, who vas persuaded by 
the priests that he was possessed of the devil, deposes as 
follows (p. _63) : " The discase I speake ofwas a spice of the 
mother, wherewith I had bcen troubled (as is before men- 
tioncd) before my going into Fraunce. \Vhether I doe right- 
ly terme it the Ȣothcr or no I know hot." Dr. Jordan, in 
6o3, published "A Briefe Discourse of a Disease called the 
Suffocation of the Mother." 
I«fi'ctia«. According to au old but erroncous bclief, in- 
fection communicated to anothcr lcft the infector free; in 
allusion to which Timon (" Timon of Athens,"iv. 3) says : 
"I will hot kiss thee; then the rot returns 
To thine own lips again." 
Among other llotiolls prevalent iii days gone by was the 
general contagiousness of disease, to which an allusion seems 
to be ruade in "A Midsummer-Night's Dream" (i. ),where 
Helena says : 
"Sickness is catching : O, were favour so, 
Yours would I catch, fair Hermia, ere I go." 
lIalone conslders that Shakespeare, in the following pas- 
sage in "Velus and Adonis," alludes to a practice of his da)', 
when it xvas customary, in time of the plague, to strew the 
rooms of every house with rue and other strolg-smelling 
herbs, to prevent infection : 
" Long may they kiss each other, for this cure  
O. never let their crimson liveries wear ! 
And as they last, their verdure still endure, 
To drive infection from the dangerous year !" 
Again, the contagiousness of pestilence is thus alluded to by 
Beatrice in" ]luch Ado About Nothing" (i. ) : "O Lord, he 
will hang upon him like a disease : he is sooner caught than 
the pestilence, and the taker runs presentlymad." The be- 
lier, too, that the poison of pestilence dwells in the air, is 
spoken of in "Timon of Athens" (iv. 3): 



FOLK-MEDICINE. 

277 

" When Jove 
Will o'er some high-viced city bang his poison 
In the sick air." 
And, again, in " Richard Il." (i. 3) : 
"Devouring pestilence hangs in out air." 
It is alluded to, also, in " Twelfth Night " (i. l), where the 
Duke says : 
• ' O. when mine eyes did see Olivia first, 
Methought she purged the air of pestilence.:' 
\Vhile on this subject, we may quote the following dia- 
logue from the saine play (il. 3), which, as Dr. Bucl«aill' re- 
marks, " involves the idca that contagion is bound up with 
something appealing to the sense of smell, a mellifluous 
voice being miscalled contagious; unless one could apply 
one organ to the functions of another, and thus adroit con- 
tagion, hot through its usual portal, the nose :" 
• " Sir .4nch'c,. A mellifluous voice, as I ara true knight. 
Sir Taby. A contagious bl-eath. 
Sir .4mb-c.zv. Very sweet and contagious, i' faith. 
Sir Toby. To hear by the nose, it is dulcet in contagion." 
Its«niO'. That is a common idea that the symptoms of 
madness are increascd by the full moon. Shakespeare men- 
tions this popular fallacy in " Othello " (v. 2), where he tells 
us that the moon makes men insane when shc cornes nearer 
the earth than she was wont.  
Music as a cure for madness is, pcrhaps, referred to in 
"King Lear" (iv. 7), where the physician of the king 
says: "Loudcr the music there."-" Mr. Singer, howcver, 
has this note: "Shakcspeare considered soft music favora- 
ble to sleep. Lear, we may- suppose, had been thus com- 
posed to rest; and now the physician desires louder music 
to be played, for the purpose of waking him." 

 " Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare," p.  2. 
 See p. 73. 
- Hal!iwe!l-Phillipps's "ttandbook Index to Shakespeare" 0866), 
P. 333- 



278 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
So, in " Richard II." (v. 5), the king says: 
"This music mads me ; let it sound no more ; 
For though it have holp madmen to their wits, 
In me, it seems, it will make wise men mad." 

The power of music as a medical agency has been rccog- 
nized from the earliest times, and in mental cases bas often 
been highly efficacious.' Refcrring to music as inducing 
sleep, we may quote the touching passage in " 2 Henry IV." 
(iv. 5), whcre the king says: 
" Let there be no noise ruade, my gentle frlends ; 
Unless some dull and favourable hand 
Will whisper music to my weary spirit. 
l!'arz«ick. Call for the music in the other room." 

Ariel, in " The Tempest" (ii. I), entcrs playing solrmn »tusic 
to produce this effect. 
A mad-house seems formerly to have been designated a 
"dark house." tIence, in " Twelfth Night" (iii. 4), the 
reason for putting Malvolio into a dark room was, fo make 
him believe that he was mad. In the following act (iv. z) 
he says: "Good Sir Topas, do not think I ana mad; they 
have laid me hcre in hideous darkness;" and further on 
(v. ) he asks, 
"Why have you suffer'd me to be imprlson'd, 
Kept in a dark house ?" 
In "As You Like It" (iii. 2), Rosalind says that " Love is 
merely a madness, and . . . deserves as well a dark-house and 
a whip as madlnen do." 
The expression " horn-mad," L e., quite mad, occurs in the 
"Comedy of Errors" (ii. I) : "\Vhy, mistress, sure my mas- 
ter is horn-mad." _And, again, ila" Merry \Vives of \Vindsor" 
(i. 4), Mistress Quickly says, " If lac had found the young 
man, lac would bave been horn-mad." 
Madness in cattle was supposed to arise from a distemper 

' "A Book of Musical Anecdote," by F. Crowest (878), vol. ii. pp. 
2I, 22. 



FOLK-MEDICINE. 279 
in the internal substance of their horns, and furious or mad 
cattle had their horns bound with straxv. 
lçil«g's Evil. This was a comlnon naine in years gone by 
for scrofula, because the sovereigns of England were sup- 
posed to possess the power of curing it," without other mcd- 
icine, save only by handling and prayer." This custom of 
" touching fol" the king's evil" is alluded to in " Macbeth " 
(iv. 3), whcre thc following dialogue is introduced : 

".lAtl«ol»z. Comes the king forth, I pray you ? 
lPaclor. A.v, sir ; there are a crew of wretched souls 
That stay his cure; their malady convinces 
The great assay of art ; but, at his touch-- 
Such sanctity hath heaven given his hand---- 
Tbey presently amend. 
3/«l«abz. I thank you, doctor. 
3[«ccteff. Vhat's the diseae he means? 
3I, tlcol»t. 'Tis call'd the evil : 
A most miraculous work in this good king ; 
Which offert, since my here-remain in England, 
I bave seen him do. How he solicits heaven, 
Himself best knows : but strangely-visited people, 
AIl swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to thê eye, 
The mere despair of surgery, he cures ; 
Hanging a golden stamp about their necks, 
Put on with holy prayers: and "tis spoken, 
To the succecding royalty he leaves 
The healing benediction. With this strange virtuê 
He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy ; 
And sundry blessings hang about his throne, 
That speak him full of grace." 

This reference, which has nothing to do with the prog- 
ress of the drama, is introduced, obriously, in compliment 
to King James, who fancied himself endowed with the Con- 
fessor's powers.' The poet found authority for the passage 
in Holinshed (vol. i. p. 279): "As hath bin thought, he 
was enspired with the gift of prophecie, and also to haue 
hadde the gift of healing infirmities and diseases. Namely, 

' See Beckett's" Free and Impartial Enquiry into the Antiquity and 
Efficacy of Touching for the King's Evil." 72. 



",8o 

FOLK-LORE OF SttAKESPEARE. 

he vsed to help those that were vexed with the disease, 
commonly cal!ed the kyngs euill, and left that vertue as it 
were a portion of ip.heritance VlitO his successors the kyngs 
of this reahne." Edward's miraculous powers were believed 
in, we are told, by his contclnporaries, or at least soon after 
his death, and were expressly recognized by Pope Alexan- 
der III., who canonized him. In Plot's" Oxfordshire" (chap. 
x. sec. 25) there is an account, accompanied with a drawing, 
ofthe touch-piece supposed to have been given by this mon- 
arch. James I.'s practice of touching for the evil is fre- 
quently mentioned ill Nichols's " Progresses." Charles I., 
when at York, touched se'enty persons iii one da)'. Indeed, 
few are aware to what ail extent this superstition once pre- 
vailed. In the course of twenty years, betveen 66o and 
682, no less than 92,m7 persons were touched for this dis- 
case. The first English monarch uho refused to touch for 
the king's evil was Willialn III., but the practice was resumed 
by Queen Arme, wh,) officially announced, in the Lomto, Ga- 
.ctl', Match  2,  7  2, her royal intention to receive patients 
afflictcd with the malady ill question. It was probably 
about that tilne that Johnson was touched b)" her lnajesty, 
upon the recommendation of the celebrated physician Sir 
John Floyer, of Lichfield. King George I. put an end to 
this practice, which is said to have originated with Edward 
the Collfessor, in Io58.  The custom was also observed by 
French kings; and on Easter Sunday, ]686, Louis XIV. is 
said to bave tonched 6oo persons. 
Lct/mry. This is frequently confounded by- medical men 
of former times, and by Shakespeare himself, with apoplexy. 
The terre occurs iii the list of diseases quoted by Thersites 
in " Troilus and Cressida" (v. 
Zcprosy. This was, in years gone by, used to denote the 
[iws 7,r,wl'ca, as in " Antolly and Cleopatra " (iii. 8) : 

 Sec " Notes and Oueries," 861, ed series, vol. xi. p. 7 : Burns's 
"History of Parish Registers," 1862. pp. 179, 8o; Pettigrew's" Super- 
stitions Connected with Medieine and Surgery," I844. pp. I 7-154. 
 Bucknill's " Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare," p. 235. 



FOLK-MEDICINE. 

28 

" Yon ribaudred nag of Egypt,-- 
Whom leprosy o'ertake ! 
Hoists salis and flics." 
Lccch. The old medical terre for a leech is a "blood- 
sucker," and a knot would be an appropriate terre for a 
numbcr of clustering leeches. So, in " Richard III." (iii. 3), 
Grcy, being led to the block, says of Richard's minions: 
"A knot you are of damned blood-suckers." 
In "2 llcnry \ri." liii. 2) mention is ruade by \Varwick of 
thc " blood-sucker of sleeping men," which, says Dr. 13uck- 
nill, appears to mean the vampire-bat. 
3[«asl«s. This word originally signified leprosy, although 
in modern rimes uscd for a very different disorder. Its der- 
ivation is the old French word mcsewu, or mcs«l, a leper. 
Thus, Çotgrave has " Meseau, a meselled, scurvy, leaporous, 
lazarous person." Distempered or scurvied hogs are still 
said to be measled. It is iii this sense that il: is used in 
"Coriolanus " (iii. t) : 
"As for my country I have shed my blood, 
Not fearing outward force, so shall my lungs 
Cin words till their decay, against those measles, 
Which xve disdain should tetter us, yet sought 
The very way to catch them. » 
]¥«urisy. This denotes a plethora, or redundancy of 
blood, and was so used, probably, from an erroncous idea 
that the word was derived from iIuslluris. It is employed 
by Shakespeare in " Hamlet" (iv. ï) : 
" For goodness, growing to a plurisy, 
Dies in his own too-much." 
In the "Two Noble Içinsmen" (v. I) there is a similar phrase : 
"that heal'st with blood 
The earth when it is sick, and cur'st the world 
O" the plurisy of people. 
The xvord is frequently used by writers contemporary with 
Shakespeare. Thus, for instance, Massinger, in "The Pict- 
ure" (iv. 2), says : 



282 

FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 

"A plurisy of ill blood you must let out 
By labour." 
3[ttm»o,. This was a preparation for magical purposes, 
ruade from dead bodics, and was used as a medicine both 
long before and long after Shakespeare's day. Its virtues 
seem to have bcen chicfly imaginary, and even the traffic 
in it fraudulcnt. 1 Thc preparation of mummy is said to 
have been first brought iuto use in mcdicine by a Jewish 
physician, who wrote that flesh thus embalmed was good 
for the cure of divers diseases, and particularly bruises, to 
prevent the blood's gathering and coagulating. It has, 
however, long been known that no use whatever can be de- 
rivcd from it in medicinc, and " that all which is sold in the 
shops, whethcr brought fl-om Venice or Lyons, or even 
directly from the Levant by Alexandria, is factitious, the 
work of certain Jews, who counterfeit it by drying carcasses 
in ovens, after having prepared them with powder of myrrh, 
caballine aloes, Jcwish pitch, and other coarse or unwhole- 
some drugs. ''' Shakespeare speaks of this preparation. 
Thus Othello (iii. 4), referring to the handkerchicf which ho 
had given to Desdemona, relates how: 
" it was dyed in mummy which the skilful 
Conserv'd of maidcns" hearts." 
And, in " Macbeth " (iv. ), the " witches' mummy" forms 
one of the ingredients of the boiling caldron. \Vcbster, in 
" The \Vhite Devil " (857, p. 5), speaks of it : 
" Your followers 
Have svallow'd you iike mummia, and, being sick, 
With such unnatural and horrid physic, 
Vomit you up i' the kennel." 
Sir Thomas Browne, in his interesting " Fragment on Mure- 
mies," tclls us that Francis I. always carried mulaamy' with 

' See Pettigrew's "History of Mummies," 834; also Gannal, 
"Traité d'Embaumement." 838. 
= Rees's " Encyclopoedia," i 8-" 9, vol. xxiv. 
 Mr. Halliwell-Phiilipps, in his " Handbook Index to Shakespeare," 
866, p. 33_, calls it a balsamic iiquid. 



FOLK-IIEDICINE. 283 
him as a panacea against all disordcrs. Some used it for 
epilepsy, some for gout, some used it as a styptic. He fur- 
ther adds: "The common opinion of the virtues of mum- 
my bred great consumption thereof, and princes and great 
men contended for this strange panacca, whcrein Jews dealt 
largely, manufacturing mummics from dcad carcasses, and 
giving them the names of kings, while specifics were com- 
pounded from crosses and gibbets lcavings." 
Aïhtmarc. There are various charms practised, in this 
and othcr countries, for the prevention of nightmare, many 
of which are exceedingly quaint. In days gone by it ap- 
pears that St. Vitalis, whose name has bcen corruptcd into 
St. \Vithold, was invoked : and, by way of illustration, Thc- 
obald quotes flom the old play of " King John "' the fol- 
lowing : 
'" Sweet S. Withold, of thy lenltie, defend us from extremitie." 
Shakespeare, alluding to the nightmare, in his" King Lear" 
(iii. 4), refers to the saine saint, and gives us a curious old 
charm : 
'" Saint Withold footed thriçe the old [wold] ; 
He met the night-mare, and her nine-Iold ; 
Bid ber alight 
And her troth plight, 
And, aroint thee, witch, aroint thee !'" 
For what purpose, as Mr. Singer" has pointed out, the incu- 
bus is enjoined to "plight her troth," will appear from a 
chann against the nightmare, in Reginald Scot's " Discovery 
of Witchcraft" which occurs, with slight variation, in Fletch- 
er's " Monsieur Thomas" {iv. 6) : 
"St. George, St. George. our lady's knight, 
He walks by day. so does he by night, 
And when he had ber round, 
He her beat and ber bound, 
Until to him her troth she plight, 
She would not stir from him that night." 
' " Six Old Plays," ed. Nichols, p. -_56, quoted by Mr. Aldis Wright, 
in his " Notes to King Lear," I$77, p. I70. 
" " Shakespeare," vol. ix. p. 4I 3. 



284 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
tgaralfsfs. An old terre for chronic paralysis was "cold 
palsics," which is used by Thersites in " Troilus and C,es- 
sida" (v. I).' 
Ihilçsoph«r's .çto»c. This was supposed, by its touch, to 
convert base mctal into gold. It is noticed by Shakespeare 
in "Antony and Cleopatra" (i. 5) : 
". t2«_ras. Sovereig,l of Eg.vpt. hall : 
C/'aa/ra. How much unlike art thou Mark Antony! 
Yet, coming from him, tbat great medicine hath 
With his tinct gilded thee." 
The alchemists call thc mattcr, whatever it may be, says 
Johnson, by which they pcrform transmutation, a medicine. 
Thus, Chapman, in his" Shadow of Night " ( 594) : "O, then, 
thou ,çrcat «h'.rir of ail treasures ;" on which passage he has 
thc following note : " Thc philosophcr's stone, orl/dlosa/,/dc« 
,,wdi«ia, is called thc gr,'at c[krb'." Another reference oc- 
curs in " Timon of Athcns" (il. 2), where the Fool, in reply 
to the question of Varro's Servant, " What is a whoremaster, 
fool ?" answers, "A fool in good clothes, and something like 
thee. 'Tis a spirit : sometime 't appears like a lord ; some- 
time like a lawyer; sometime like a philosopher, with two 
stoncs moe than's artificial one," etc. ; a passage which John- 
son explains as meaning "more than the philosopher's stone," 
or twice the value of a philosopher's stone; though, as Far- 
iner observes, "Gower has a chapter, in Iris' Confessio Aman- 
tis,' of the three stones that philosophers ruade." Singer, " 
in his note on the philosopher's stone, says that SirThomas 
Smith was one of those who lost considerable sums in seek- 
ing of it. Sir Richard Steele was one of the last eminent 
men who entertained hopes ofbeing successful in this pur- 
suit. His laboratory was at Poplar2 
t»imt/«. In the Midland Counties, a common name for a 
pimple, which, by rubbing, is ruade to smart, or rua&«t to 

' Bucknill's " Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare," p. 235. 
- "Shakespeare," I875, vol. iii. p. 284. 
a See Pettigrew's " Medical Superstitions," pp. 3, 4. 



FOLK-MEDICINE. 285 
scnsc, is "a quat." Thc word occurs in " Othello" (v. ), 
where R»dcrigo is so called by Iago: 
" I have rubb'd this young quat almost to the sense, 
And he grows angry." 
--Rodcrigo being callcd a quat by thc saine mode of speech 
as a low fellow is now called a scab. It occurs in Langham's 
" Garden of IIealth," p. I53 : "The leaves [of coleworts] 
laid to by themselves, or bruised with barley recale, are 
good for thc inflammations, and soft swcllings, burnings, 
impostumes, and cholcrick sores or quats," ctc. 
t)[«rffttc. " Tokcns," or " God's tokens," wcre the terms 
for those spots on thc body which dcnotcd the infection of 
thc plague. In " Love's Labour's Lost " (v. z), Biron says : 
" For the Lord's tokens on you do I see ;" 
and ia "Antony and Cleopatra" (iii. xo) there is anothcr 
allusion : 
"Etobarbus. How appears the fight ? 
Scarus. On our side like the token'd pestilence, 
Where death is sure." 
In " Troilus and Crcssida" (ii. 3), Ulysscs says of Achilles : 
" He is so plaguy proud that the death tokens of it 
Cry--' No recovery.'" 
King Lear, too, it would seem, compares Goneril (il. 4" to 
these fatal signs, when he calls her "a plague sore." Whcn 
the Iokets had appeared on any of the inhabitants, the house 
was shut up, and " Lord have mercy upon us" written or 
printed upon the door. Hence Biron, in " Love's Labour's 
Lost " (v. -'), says: 
• ' Write, ' Lord bave mercy on us,' on those three ; 
They are infected, in their hearts it lies ; 
They bave the plague, and caught it of your eyes." 
The "red pestilence," referred to by Volumnia in " Cori- 
olanus" (iv. ), probably alludes to the cutaneous eruptions 
common in the plague: 



286 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"Now the red pestilence strike all trades in Rome, 
And occupations perish !" 
In "Thc Tempest " (i. 2), Caliban says to Prospero, "Thc 
rcd plague rid you." 
PoisoJt. According to a vulgar error prevalcnt in days 
gone by, poison was supposed to swcll the body, an allusion 
to which occurs in " Julius Coesar" (iv. 3), whcre, in thc 
quarrcl betxveen Brutus and Cassius, the former declarcs: 
"You shall digest the venom of your spleen, 
Though it do spIit you." 
\Ve may also compare the following passage in " 2 Henry 
1V." (iv. 4), whcre the king says : 
"Learn this, Thomas, 
And thou shalt prove a shelter to thy friends 
A hoop of gold to bind thy brothers in, 
That the united vessel of their blood, 
Mingled with renom of suggestion-- 
As. force perforce, the age will pour it 
Shall never leak, though it do work as strong 
As aconitum, or rash gunpowder." 
In " King John," Hubert, when describing the effect of 
thc poison upon the monk (v. 6), narrates how his " bowels 
suddenly burst out." This passage also contains a refercnce 
to the popular custom prevalent in the olden days, ofgreat 
persons having their food tasted by those who were sup- 
posed to have ruade thcmselves acquaintcd with its whole- 
someness. This practice, however, could hot always afford 
security whcn the taster was ready to sacrifice li own life, 
as in the prcsent case:' 
"Iff«&rt. The king, I fear, is poison'd by a monk : 
I leIt him almost speechless .... 
t?«stard. How did he take it ? who did taste to him ? 
/ff«&'rt. A monk, I tell you ; a resolved villain." 
The natives ofAfrica have been supposed to be possessed 
of the secret how to temper poisons with such art as hOt 

' Bucknill's "Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare" p. 136. 



FOLK-MEDICINE. 287 
to operate till several ycars aftcr thcy were administered. 
Their drugs were then as certain in their effect as subtle in 
their prcparation.' Thus, in " The Tcmpest" (iii. 3), Gonzalo 
says : 
"' All three of them are desperate : their great guilt, 
Like poison given to work a great time affer, 
Now 'gins to bite the spirits." 
The belicf ill slow poisoning was gencral ill bygone times, 
although no botter foundcd o11 fact, remarks Dr. Bucknill, * 
than the notion that persons burst with poison, or that 
narcotics could, like an alarum clock, be set for a certain 
number of hours. So, in '" Cymbeline" (v. 5), Coruclius re- 
lates to the king thc quecn's confession: 
"' She did confess, she had 
For you a mortal minerai; which, being took, 
Should by the minute feed on lire. and, ]ingering, 
By inches waste you." 
I»o»mmfi.r. This was either a composition of various per- 
fumes wrought in the shape of a ball or other form, and worn 
in the pocket or hung about the neck, and even sometimes 
suspendcd to the wrist; or a case for containing such a 
mixture of perfumes. It was uscd as an amulet against the 
plague or other infections, as well as for an article ofluxury. 
There is ail allusion to its use in the ".Vinter's Tale" (iv. " 
by Autolycus, who enumerates it among all his trumpcry 
that he had sold. The following recipe for making a po- 
mander we find in an old play:  " ¥our onlyway to make a 
pomandcr is this: take an ounce ofthe purest garden mould, 
cleans'd and steep'd seven days in change of motherless 
rose-water. Then take the best labdanum, benjoin, with 
storaxes, ambergris, civet, and musk. Incorporate them to- 
gether, and work them into what form you plcase. This, 
if your breath be hot too valiant, will make you smell as 
sweet as any lady's dog." 

' Singer's " Shakespeare," vol. i. p. 65. 
* " Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare," p. 226. 
a Quoted in Nares's "Glossary." vol. il. p. 67I. 



288 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
Rhrztmalism. In Shakespeare's day this was used in a far 
wider sense than nowadays, including, in addition to what 
is nov understood by the terre, distil!ations from the head, 
catarrhs, etc. Malone quotes from the " Sidney Memori- 
als" (vol. i. p. 94), where the health of Sir Henry Sidney is 
described : " He hath verie much distempored divers parts 
of his bodie; as namelie, lais heade, his stomack, &c., and 
thercby is always subject to distillacions, coughcs, and other 
rumatick diseases." Among the many superstitions relating 
to the mooa,' one is mentioned in " A Midsummer-Night's 
Dream" (il. ), where Titania tells how thc moon, 
" Pale in her anger, washes all the air, 
That rheumatic diseases do abound." 
Thc word" rheumatic" was also formerly used in the sense 
of choleric or peevish, as in "2 Henry IV." (ii. 4), where the 
Hostess says: "You two never mcct but you fall to some 
discord: you are both, in good troth, as rheumatic as two 
dry toasts." Again, in " Henry V." (il. 3), the Hostcss says 
of Falstaff: "A' did in somc sort, indeed, handle women: 
but then he was rheumatic,  and talked of the whore of 
Babylon." 
Scrio. This appears to havc been a tcrm extcnsivcly 
used by old medical authors for any creeping skin discase, 
being especially applied to that known as the hcrl«s circi- 
t«tts. The expression occurs in " Measure for Measure" 
(iii. Q, being coupled by the Duke with " the gout'" and the 
" rhcum." In " Troilus and Crcssida" (ii. 3), Thcrsites says: 
" Now, the dry serpigo on the subject." 
Sic],v««ss. Sickness ofstomach, which the slightest disgust 
is apt to provoke, is still exprcssed by the terre " queasy ;" 
hence the word denoted d«[icat«, 2is«tt[«d; as in " King 
Lear" (ii. x), where it is used by lïdmund: 
"I bave one thing, of a queasy question, 
Which I must act." 

' See p. 74. 
 Malone suggests that the hostess may mcan "then he was lunatic." 



FOLK-MEDICINE. 289 

So Ben Jonson employs it iii " Scjanus" (i. I): 

"These times are rather queasy to be touched." 

Si.gh. It was a prevalcnt notion that sighs impair the 
strength and vear out the animal powers. Thus, in" 2 l[cn- 
ry VI." (iii. 2), Queen Margarct speaks of "blood-drinking 
sighs." \Ve may, too, compare the words of Oberon in "A 
Midsummer-Night's Dream" (iii. 2), who refers to " sighs of 
love, that cost the fresh blood dear." In "3 Henry VI." 
(iv. 4), Queen Elizabeth sa.vs : 

" for this I draxv in many a tear. 
And stop the rising of blood-sucking sighs." 

Once more, in " Hamlet" (iv. 7), thc I.ing mentions the 
"spendthrift sigh, that hurts by easing." Fenton, in lais 
" Tragical Discourses" (I 579), alludes to this notion in the 
following words: "Your scorchilg sighes that have already 
drayned your body of lais wholesome humoures." 
It was also an ancient belief that sorrow consumed the 
blood and shortened lire. tIence Romeo tells Juliet (iii. 5): 

"And trust me, love, in my eye so do you : 
Dry sorrow drinks our blood." 

Small-tox. Such a terrible plague was this disease in the 
days of our ancestors, that its name was used as ail impreca- 
tion. Thus, in " Love's Labour's Lost" (v. 2), the Princess 
says : " A pox of that jest." 
Sa[iz,a. The color of the spittle was, with the medical 
men of olden times, an important point ofdiagnosis. Thus, 
in "2 Henry IV." (i. 2), Falstaff exclaims against fighting on 
a hot da),, and wishes hc may "never spit white again," 
should it so happen.' 
Stcrilit3,. The charm against sterility referred to by Cœ- 
sar in " Julius Coesar" (i. 2) is copied from Plutarch, who, in 
his description of the festival Lupercalia, tells us hoxv "noble 
young men run naked through the city, striking in sport 

 Bucknill's "Medical Knowledge of Shakespcare," p.  50. 
9 



290 FOLK-LORE OF SttAKESPEARE. 
whom they mcet in the way with leather thongs," which 
biows were commonly believed to havc the wonderful effcct 
attributed to them by Cœesar: 

The barrcn, touched in this holy chase, 
Shake off their sterile curse.'" 

SMcih'. Cominius, in "Coriolanus" (i. 9), arguing against 
tXlarcius's ovcrstrained modcsty, refers to the manner in 
which suicide was thought prevcntable in olden times: 

" If 'gainst yourself you be incens'd, we'll put you, 
Like one that means lais proper harm. in manacles, 
Then reason safcly with you." 

7"oolhach«. It was formerly a common superstition--and 
one, too, hot confined to our own country--that toothache 
was caused by a little worm, having the form of an eel, which 
gradually gnawed a hole in the tooth. In " Iluch Ado About 
Nothing" (iii. 2, Shakespeare speaks of this curious belief: 

"l)ott lYdra. What ! sigh for the toothache ? 
Leatato. Where is but a humour, or a worm." 

This notion was, some years ago, prcvalent in Derbyshire,' 
where there was an odd way of extracting, as it was thought, 
the worm. A small quantity of a mixture, consisting of dry 
and powdered herbs, was placed in some small vessel, into 
which a lit, e coal fi'om the tire was dropped. The patient 
then held his or her open mouth over the vessel, and inhaled 
the smoke as long as it could be borne. The cup was then 
taken away, and in its place a glass of water was put before 
the patient. Into this glass the person breathed hard for a 
few moments, when it was supposed the grub or worm could 
be seen in the water. In Orkney, too, toothache goes by 
the naine of " the worm," and, as a remedy, the following 
charm, called " wormy lines," is written on a piece of paper, 
and worn as an amulet, by the person affected, in some part 
of his dress : 

' See " English Folk-Lore," p.  56. 



FOLK-MEDICINE. 29 ! 
" Peter sat on a marne stone wceping ; 
Christ came past. and said, ' What ailcth thce. Petcr ?' 
' 0 my Lord. my God. my tooth doth ache.' 
' Arisc, 0 Pctcr ! go thy way ; thy tooth shall ache no more.'" 
This notion is still current in Germany, and is mentioncd by 
Thorpe, in his " Northern Mythology" (vol. iii. p. I67) , who 
quotes a North German incantation, beginning, 
" Pear tree, I complain to thee ; 
Three worms sting me." 
It is round, too, even in China and New Zealand,  the fol- 
lowing charm being used in the latter country: 
" An eel, a spiny back 
Truc indeed, indeed : truc in sooth, in sooth. 
You must eat the head 
()f said spiny back." 
A writer in the .4lhcum (Jan. :8, 86o), speaking of the 
Rev. R. Il. Cobbold's " Pictures of the Chinese, Drawn by 
Themselves," says: "The first portrait is that of a quack 
doctress, who pretends to cure toothache by extracting a 
maggot--the cause of the disorder. This is done--or, rather, 
pretended to be done--by simply placing a bright steel pin 
on the part affected, and tapping the pin with a piece of 
wood. Mr. Cobbold compares the operation to procuring 
worms for fishing by working a spade backwards and for- 
wards in the ground. He and a friend submitted to the 
process, but in a very short time compelled the doctress to 
desist, by the excessive precautions they took against im- 
position." \Ve may further note that Jolm of Gétisden, 
one of the oldest medical authors, attributes decay of the 
teeth to "a humour or a worm." In lais '" Rosa Anglica""- 
he says: " Si verrues sint in dentibus, t semen porri, seu 
lusquiami contere et misce cure cera, pone super carbones, 
et fumus recipiatur per embotum, quoniam sanat. Solum 
etiam semen lusquiami valet coctum in aqua calida, supra 
a See Shortland's "Traditions and Superstitions of the New-Zea- 
landers," 856, p. 3 . 
 Liber Secundus--" De Febribus," p. 93, ed.  595- 



29 2 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
quam aquam patiens palatum apertum si tcnucrit, cadent 
verrues evidentcr vel in illam aquam, vol in aliam qu,-e ibi 
fuerit ibi posita. De myrrha et aloe ponantur in dentem, 
ubi est vermis: semcn caulis, et absinthium, per se verrues 
interficit." 
T«dl-first. In ycars past " the discipline of sweating in a 
hcated tub for a considcrablc time, accompanicd with strict 
abstinence, was thought nccessary for the cure of venereal 
taint."' Thus, in "Timon of Athcns" (iv. 3), Timon says 
to Timandra : 
"Fle a whore still ! they love thee hot that use thee ; 
Give them diseases, leaving with thee their lust. 
Make use of thy sait hours : season the slaves 
For tubs and baths : bring down rose-cheeked youth 
To the tub-fast, and the diet." 
As beef, too, was usually saltcd down in a tub, the one 
process was jocularly comparcd to thc other. So, in "Meas- 
ure for Mcasurc" (iii. 2), Pompcy, when asked by Lucio 
about his mistress, replies, " Troth, sir, she hath eaten up 
ail hcr beef, and she is hcrself in the tub." Again, in "Hen- 
ry V." (il. ), t'istol speaks of" the powdering-tub of infamy." 
Iïmar. In hakcspeare's day this seems to have been 
tcrmed " eisel" (ff'oto A. S. afs«f), being esteemed highly 
cfficacious in prcventing the communication of the plague 
and othcr contagious diseases. In this scnse it has bcen 
used by Shakespearc in Sonnet cxi. : 
"like a wiiling patient. I wili drink 
• Potions of eisel, 'gainst my strong infection." 
In a giS. Herbal in the library of Trinity College, Cam- 
bridge, occurs "acctorum, an « vynegre or aysel." The 
word occurs again in " t[amlet" (v. Q, where Laertes is 
challenged by Hamlet : 
"Woo't drlnk up eisel ? eat a crocodile ?" 
The word woo't, in the northern counties, is the common 
contraction of woM«tst tho««, which is the reading of tl:e old 

 Nares's "Glossary," vol. il. p. 906. 



FOLK-MEDICINE. 293 
copies. In former years it was the fashion with gallants to 
do solne extravagant feat, as a proof of their love, in honor 
of their mistresses, and, among others, the swallowing of 
some lauseous potion was one of the most flequent. ! lence, 
in the above passage, some bitter potion is evidently meant, 
which it was a penance to drink. Some are of opinion that 
««ormz«ood is alludcd to; and Mr. Singer thinks it probable 
that " the propoma called absinthites, a nauseously bitter 
medicament then much in use, lnay have been in the poet's 
mind, to drink up a quantity of which would be an extreme 
pass of alnorous demonstration." It has been suggestcd by 
a correspondent of " Notes and Queries,"' that the refer- 
ence in this pa.qa.qe.  ff'oto " tlalnlct " is to a Lake Esyl, which 
figures in Scandinavian legends. Messrs. Wright and Clark, 
however, in thcir " Notes to t{amlet " ( $7 6, p. 2S ), say 
that thcy have consultcd g|l-. g|aglltsson o' this point, and 
he writes as follows: " No such lake as Èsyl is known to 
Norse mythology and folk-lore." Steevens supposes it to 
be the river Yssell. ' 
II'«t,'r-«astil«g. Thc fanciful notion of recognizing dis- 
eases by the mere inspection of the urine was denounced 
years ago, by an old statute of thc Collcge of Physicians, as 
belonging to trickstcrs and impostors, and any mcmbcr of 
the college was forbiddcn to give advice by tlis so-called 
water-castlng without he also saw the patient. The stat- 
ure of the college runs as follows: " Statuimus, et ordina- 
mus, ut nemo, sire socius, sire candidatus, sire permissus 
consilii quidquam impertiat veteratoriis, et impostoribus, 
super urinarum nuda inspectione, nisi simul ad ,'egrum voce- 
tut, ut ibidem, pro re natfi, idonea medicamcnta ab honesto 
aliquo pharmacopoea componenda prescribat." An allu- 
sion to this vulgar error occurs in thc "Two Gentlemen of 
Verona" (il. I), where, after Speed has given to Valentine 
his amusing description of a loyer, in which, among other 
signs, are " to walk alone, like one that had the pestilence," 

Sec 4th series, vol. x. pp. IO8, I 50, 229, 282, 356. 
See Dyce's "Shakespeare," vol. vil. p. 239. 



294 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
and " to fast, like one that takes diet," the following quib- 
blc takes place upon the within and the without of thc 
symptolaS : 

" 15tltvtli, t,. Are ail these things perceived in me ? 
.çfi,','d. They are ail perceived without ye. 
15zhwlim'. Without me ? they cannot. 
.]b,'«d. Without you ? nay, that's certain ; for. without you xvere so 
simple, noue else would: but you are so without these follies, that 
these follies are within you, and shine through you like the water in 
an urinal, that hot an cye that secs you but is a physician to comment 
on your maladç." 

This singular prctence, says Dr. F;ucknill,' is " allegcd to 
have arisen, like thc barber surgery, fl'om the ecclesiastical 
interdicts upon the medical vocations ofthe clergy, l'riests 
and monks, being unable to visit their former patients, are 
said first to have resorted to the expcdient of divining the 
malady, and directing the treatment upon simple inspection 
ofthe urine. IIoweverthis maybe, the practice isofvery 
ancient date." Numerous references to this piece of med- 
ical quackery occur in many of out old writers, most of 
whom condemn it in very strong terres. Thus Forestus, in 
his " Medical l'olitics," speaks of it as being, in his opinion, 
a practice altogether evil, and expresses an earnest desire 
that medical men would combine to repress it. Shake- 
speare gives a furthcr allusion to it in the passage where he 
lnakes Macbeth (v. ».) sa)': 

"If thou couldst, doctor, cast 
The water of my land. find her disease, 
And purge it to a sound and pristine health, 
I would applaud thee to the ver)- echo." 

.lld in " 2 Henry IV " (i. 2) Falstaff asks the page, " \Vhat 
says the doctor to my water ?" and, once nore, iii "Twelfth 
Night " (iii. 4), Fabian, alluding to Malvolio, says, "Carry his 
water to the wise woman." 

 "The Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare," 86o pp. -64. 



FOLK-/,IEDIC INE. 295 
It seems probable, too, that, in thc " Mcrry \Vives of 
Windsor" (ii. 3), thc tcrm " mock-water," employed by the 
host to the French Dr. Caius, rcfcrs to the luockcry of 
judging of discases by thc watcr or urinc--" mock-water," 
in this passage, bcing cquivalcnt to "you pretcnding water- 
doctor !" 



CHAPTER XI. 
CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITtI THE CALENDAR. 
IN years gone by the anniversaries connectcd with the 
calendar were kept up with an amount of enthusiasm and 
merry-making quite unknown at the present da)'. Thus, 
for instance, Shakespeare tells us, with regard to the May- 
day observance, that it was looked forward to so eagerly 
as to rendcr it impossible to make the pcople sleep on this 
fcstive occasion. During the present century the popular 
celebrations of the fcstivals have been gradually on the de- 
cline, and nearly every year marks thc disuse of some local 
custom. Shakespcare has hot omitted to give a good manv 
scattered allusions to the old superstitions and popular 
usages associatcd with the festivals of the year, some of 
which still survive in out midst. 
Alluding to the rcvcls, thcre can be no doubt that Shake- 
speare was indebted to the revel-books for some ofhis plots. 
Thus, in "The Tempest " (iv. J), Prospero remarks to Ferdi- 
hand and Miranda, after Iris, Ceres, and Juno have appeared, 
and thc dance of the nymphs is over: 
'" You do look, my son, in a mov'd sort, 
As if you were dismay'd ; be chcerful, sir. 
Out revels now are ended. These out actors, 
As I foretold you. were all spirits, and 
Are melted into air, into thin air: 
And. like the baseless fabric of this vision. 
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, 
The solemn temples, the great globe itself, 
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, 
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, 
Leave hot a rack behind." 
It has been inferred that Shakespeare was present at 
Kenilworth, in I575, when Elizabeth was so grandly enter- 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITIt TIIE CALENDAR. 297 
tained there. Lakes and seas are represented in the masque. 
Triton, in the likeness of a mermaid, came towards the 
queen, says George Gascoigne, and "Arion appeared, sitting 
on a dolphin's back." In the dialogue in "A Midsummer- 
Night's I)ream," between Oberon and l'uck (ii. I), there 
seems a direct allusion to this event : 

" Oberon. My gentle Puck, corne hither. Thou remember'st 
Since once I sat upon a promontory, 
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin's back 
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath, 
That the rude sea grew civil at her song, 
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres, 
To hear the sea-maid's music. 
t'ttck. I remember." 
Thcn, too, there were the "Children of thc Revels," a com- 
pany who performed at Blackfriars Theatre. In" Ilamlet" 
(il. 2), Shakespeare alludes to these " children-players."' 
Rosencrantz says, in the conversation preceding the entry 
of the players, in reply to Hamlet's inquiry whether the 
actors bave suffered through the result of the late inhibi- 
tion, evidently referring to the plague, " Nay, their endcav- 
our kceps in the wontcd pace; but there is, sir, an aery of 
children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question, 
and are most tyrannically clapped for't; these are now the 
fashion; and so berattle the common stages--so they call 
them--that many weariag rapiers are afraid of goose-quills, 
and dare scarce corne thither." 
Twclfth-DoEv. There can be no doubt that the title of 
Shakespeare's play, " Twelfth Night," took its origin in the 
festivities associated with this festival. The season bas, 
from time immemorial, been one of merriment," the more 
decided from being the proper close of the festivities of 
Christmas, when gaines of chance were traditionally rife, 
and the sport of sudden and casual elevation gave the tone 
ofthe time. Oflike tone is the play, and to this, '' says 

 "The England of Shakespeare," E. Goadby, 88. p. 53- 
 "Critical Essays on the Plays of Shakespeare," 1875, p. 45; see 
5inger's " Shakespeare," vol. iii. pp. 347, 348. 



298 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Lloyd, " it apparently owes its title." The play, it appears, 
was probably originally acted at the barristers' feast at the 
Middle Tcluple, on 1;ebruary 2, 16oi-2, as Manningham tells 
us in lais " Diary"/.Camdcn Socicty,  868, ed. J. Bruce, p.  8). 
It is worthy of note that the festive doings of the Inns of 
Court, in days gone by, at ChristInas-tide were conducted 
on the most extravagant scale.' In addition to the merry 
disports of the Lord of Misrule, there were various rcvels. 
The Christmas lnasque at Gray's Inn, in 1594, was on a mag- 
nificent scale. 
t. I'«l«tlit«'s l)a 3, (Feb. 4)- V'hatever lnay be the his- 
torical origin of this festival, whether heathcla or Christian, 
there can be no doubt ofits antiquity. According to an old 
tradition, to which Chaucer refcrs, birds choose thcir mates 
on this da)'; and hcnce, in "A lIidsulnmer-Night's Dream" 
(iv. ), Thcseus asks : 
"Good morrow, friends. St. Valentine is past : 
Begin these wood-birds but to couple now ?" 
Froln this notion, it has becn suggested, arose the once pop- 
ular practice of choosing valentines, and also the common 
bcliefthat the first two single persons who meet in the morn- 
ing of St. Valentinc's da)" have a grcat chance of becoming 
wed to each other. Thissuperstition is alluded to in Ophe- 
lia's song in " I talnlct " (ix,. 5): 
"To-morrov is Saint Valentine's day, 
All in the morning betime, 
And I a maid at your window, 
To be your valentine." 
There seems every probability that St. Valentine's da3", 
with its many customs, has corne down to us from the Ro- 
mans, but was fathered upon St. Valentine in the earlier 
ages of the Church in order to Christianize it. " In France 
St. Valentine's was a movable feast, celebrated on the first 

 See "British Popular Customs," p. 473. 
 "Notes and Oueries,'" 6th series, vol. i. p.  29. 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITII THE CALENDAR. 299 
Sunday in Lent, which was callcd thej,,ur des llr«izd,,zs, be- 
cause the boys carried about lighted torches on that day. 
Shro¢'c-Ttles«@,. This day was formerly devotcd to feast- 
ing and merriment of every ldnd, but whence originated the 
custom of eating pancakes is still a matter of uncertainty. 
The practice is alluded to in "All's \Vell that Ends \Vcll " 
(il. 2), where the clown speaks of "a pancake for Shrove- 
Tuesday."' In "Pericles" (il. I) they are termed "flap- 
jacks," a term used by Taylor, the \Vatcr-Poet, in his" Jack- 
a-Lent \Vorkes" (I63O , vol. i. p.  15) : " Until at last by the 
skill of the cooke it is transformed into the form of a flap- 
jack, which in our translation is called a pancake." Shrove- 
tide was, in times gone b)', a season of such mirth that shro'- 
itg, or fo shro¢,,', signified to be mcrry. Hence, in " 2 Hcnry 
IV." (v. 3), J ustice Silence says: 

"Be merry, be merry, my wife has ail ; 
For women are shrews, both short and rail ; 
'Tis merry in hall, when beards wag all. 
And welcone merry shrove-tide. 
13e merry, be merry." 

It was a holiday and a day of license for apprentices, labor- 
ing persons, and others? 
Le,ct. This season was at one time marked b)" a custom 
now fallen into disuse. A figure, ruade up of straw and cast- 
off clothes, was drawn or carried through the streets amid 
much noise and merriment ; after which it was either burned, 
shot at, or thrown down a chinmey. This image was called 
a " Jack-a-Lent," and was, according to some, intcnded to 
represent Judas Iscariot. It occurs twice in the " Mcrry 
\Vives of \Vindsor;" once merely as a jecular appellation 
(iii. 3), whcre Mrs. Page says to Robin, " You little Jack-a- 
Lent, have you been true to us?" and once (v. 5) as a butt, 

1Cf. " As You Like It" (i. -). Touchstone alludes to a "certain 
knight, that swore by his honour they were good pancakes." 
 See Hone's " Every Day Book," I836, vol. i. p. «58; " Book of 
Days," vol. i. p. 39; see, also, Dekker's "Seven Deadly Sins," i6o6, 
P. 35 : " 13ritish Popular Customs,"pp. 6_-9 I. 



300 FOLK-LORE OF StIAKESPEARE. 
or object of satire and attack, Falstaff remarking, " How wit 
may be ruade a Jack-a-Lent, when 'ris upon ill employment !" 
Itis alludcd to by Ben Jonson in his" Tale of a Tub" (iv. 2): 
"Thou cam'st but half a thing into the world, 
And wast made up of patches, parings, shreds ; 
Thou, that when last thou vert put out of service, 
Travell'd to Itamstead Iteath on an Ash Wednesday, 
Vhere thou didst stand six weeks the Jack of Lent, 
For boys to hurl three throws a penny at thee, 
To make thee a purse." 
E}derton, in a ballad called " Lenton Stuff," in a MS. in 
the Ashmolean Museum, thus concludes lais accourir of 
Lent :' 
" When Jakke a' Lent cornes justlynge in, 
With the hedpeece of a herynge, 
And saythe, repent yowe of yower syn, 
For shame, syrs, leve yowre swerynge : 
And to Palme Sonday doethe he ryde, 
With sprots and herryngs by his syde, 
And makes an end of Lenton tyde !"  
In the reign of Elizabeth butchers were strictly enjoined 
hot to sell fleshmeat in Lent, hot with a religious view, but 
for the double purpose  of diminishing the consumption of 
fleshmeat during that period, and so making it more plenti- 
ful during the rest of the year, and of encouraging the fish- 
eries and augmenting the number of seamen. ]3utchers, 
however, who had an interest at court fiequently obtained 
a dispensation to kill a certain number of beasts a week dur- 
ing Lent; of which indulgence the wants of invalids, who 
could hot subsist without animal food, was ruade the pre- 
tence. It is to this practice that Cade refers in "2 Henry 
VI." (iv..3), where he tells Dick, the butcher of Ashford: 
" Therefore, thus will I reward thee,--the Lent shall be as 

' " Notes and Queries," 1st series, vol. xii. p. "97. 
"- Sec Nares's "Glossary," vol. i. p. 443; Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," I849, 
vol. i. p. Io. Taylor, the Water-Poet, has a tract entitled "" 
Let, his Beginning and Entertainment, with the mad Prankes 
Gentlemen-Usher, Shrove Tuesday." 
« Singer's "Shakespeare," vol. ri. p. zI9. 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITH TItE CALENDAR. 30 I 
long again as itis ; and thou shalt have a license to Mil for a 
hundred lacking one." 
In " 2 Henry IV." (ii. 4, Falstaff mentions an indictment 
against Hostess Quickly, " for suffering flesh to be eaten in 
thy house, contrary to the law : for the which I think thou 
wilt howl." \Vhereupon she replies," Ail victuallers do so : 
what's a joint of mutton or two in a whole Lent ?" 
The sparing titre in olden days, during Lent, is indirectly 
referred to by Rosencrantz in " Hamlct '" (il. z) : " To think, 
my lord, if )'ou dclight hot in man, what !enten entertain- 
ment the players shall receive." \Ve may compare, too, 
Maria's words in " Twelfth Night" ,i. 5), where she speaks 
of a good lenten an.qxver, i. c., short. 
By a scrap of proverbial rhyme quotcd by Mercutio in 
" Romeo and J uliet " .ii. 4), and the speech introducing it, 
it appears that a stale hare might be used to make a pie in 
Lent ; he says : 
"No hare, sir : unless a hare, sir, in a lenten pie, that is something 
stale and hoar ere it be spent. 
An old hare hoar, 
And an old hare hoar. 
Is very good meat in Lent," etc. 
ScamMi»g d«u's. The days so called were Mondays and 
Saturdays in Lent, when no regular meals were providcd, 
and our great familles scambled. There ma)- possibly be an 
indirect allusion to this custom in " Henry V." ,v. -'), where 
Shakespeare makes King Henry say: " If ever thou beest 
mine, Kate, as I have a saving faith within me tells me 
thou shalt, I get thee with scambling." In the old household 
book of the fifth Earl of Northumberland there is a partic- 
ular section appointing the order of service for these days, 
and so regulating the licentious contentions of them. \Ve 
may, also, compare another passage in the saine play I.i. I), 
where the Archbishop of Canterbury speaks of"the scam- 
bling and unquiet tilne." 
GooclFrid«o,. Beyond the bare allusion to this day, Shake- 
speare makes no reference to the many observances formerly 



3oz FOLI-LORE OF SHAKEPEARE 
associated with it. In " King John" (i. I) he makes Philip 
the Bastard say to Lady Faulconbridge : 
" Madam. I was not old Sir Robert's son : 
Sir Robert lnight have eat lais part in me 
Upon Good Friday, and ne'er broke his fast." 
And, in "I ttenry IV." (i. :, Poins inquires: "Jack, how 
agrees the devil and thee about thy soul, that thou soldest 
him on Good Friday last, for a cup of Madeira and a cold 
capon's leg ?" 
'aslcr. According to a popular superstition, it is consid- 
ered unlucky to omit wearing nmv clothes on Easter Da3", 
to which Shakespeare no doubt alludes in " Romeo and Ju- 
liet" (iii. i), when he makes Mcrcutio ask Benvolio whether 
he did "not fall out with a tailor for wearing lais new doublet 
belote Easter." In East Yorkshire, on Easter Eve, young 
folks go to the nearest market-town to buy some new arti- 
cle of dress or personal adornment to wear for the first time 
on Easter Day, as otherwise they believe that birds--nota- 
bly rooks or " crakes"--will spoil their clothes. ' In " Poor 
Robin's Almanac" we are told: 
'" At Easter let your dothes be new, 
Or else be sure you will it rue." 
$ome think that the custom of" clacking" at Easter--which 
is not quite obsolete in some counties--is incidentally allud- 
ed to in " Measure for Measure" (iii. 2) bv Lucio : " lais use 
was, to put a ducat in her clack-dish."' The clack or clap 
dish was a wooden dish with a movable cover, formerly 
carried by beggars, which they clacked and clattered to 
show that it was empty. In this they received the altos. 
Lepers and othcr paupers deemed intëctious originally :sed 
it, that the sound might give warning hot to approach too 
near, and alms be given without touching the person. 
A popular nalne for Easter Monday was Black Monday, 

1 ,, Notes and Ouerics," 4th series, vol. v. p. 595 
= See Singer's "Shakespeare," vol. i. p. 36e ; Nares's "Glossary," vol. 
i. p. 64 : Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 849, vol. iii. p. 94. 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITH TIIE CALENDAR. 303 
so called, says Stow, because " in the 34th of Edward III. 
(I36O), the I4th of April, and the morrow aftcr Eastcr Day, 
King Edward, with his host, lay belote the city of Paris; 
which day was full dark of mist and hail, and so bitter cold, 
that many mcn died on their horses' backs with the cold. 
"Whcrefore unto this day it bath been call'd the BIacke Mon- 
day." Thus, in the " Merchant of Vcnice" (il. 5), Launcelot 
says, " it was not for nothing that my nose fdl a-bleeding 
on Black Monday last at six o'clock i' the morning." 
St. D«z'id's D«y (Match I). This day is observcd by the 
\Velsh in honor of St. David, their patron saint, whcn, as 
a sign of thcir patriotism, thcy wear a lccl« Much doubt 
exists as to the origin of this custom. According to the 
\Velsh, it is bccause çt. lavid ordcrcd his Britons to place 
lceks in their caps, that they might be distinguishcd from 
thcir Saxon foes. Shakespeare introduces the custom into 
his play of " Henry V." (iv. 7), whcre Flucllcn, addressing 
the monarch, says : 

" Your grandfather of famous memory, an't please your majesty, 
and your great uncle Edward the Plack Prince of Wales, as I have 
read in the chronicles, fought a most prave pattle here in France. 
IC. ]arcno ,. They did, Fluellen. 
Flu. Your majesty says ve W true : if your majestles is remembered 
of it, the Welshmen did goot service in a garden where leeks did 
grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps; which, your majesty 
knov, to this hour is an honourable padge of the service ; and I do 
pelieve, your majesty takes no scorn to wear the teek upon Saint 
Tavy's day." 

It has been justly pointed out, however, that this allusion 
b.x: Fluellen to the \Velsh having worn the lcek in battle 
under the Black Prince is not, as some writers suppose, 
wholly decisive of its having originated in the fields of 
Cressy, but rather shows that when Shakespeare wrote 
\Velshmen wore leeks. ' In the saine play, too (iv. I), the 
well-remembered Fluellen's enforcement of Pistol to eat 

' See Hone's " Every Day 13ook," vol. i. p. 38 ; " 13ritish Popular 
Customs," pp. l Io- 13. 



304 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
the leek he had ridiculed further establishes the wearing as 
a usage. Pistol says: 
"Tell him l'll knock his leek about his pare 
Upon Saint Davy's day." 
In days gonc by this day was observed by royalty'; and 
in I695 we rcad how XVillialn III. wore a leek on St. David's 
Da)'," presentcd to him by his sergeant, Porter, who hath as 
pcrquisitcs all the wearing appard his majestie had on that 
day, even to his sword." It appear that formcrly, among 
other customs, a \\elshnaan was burued in effigy upou "St. 
Tavy's Da)'," an allusion to which occurs in " l'oor Robin's 
Ahnanack" for 757: 
" But it would make a stranger laugh. 
To see th' English bang poor Taff : 
A pair of breeches and a coat, 
Hat. shoes, and stockings, and what not. 
Are stuffed with hay, to represent 
The Cambrian hero thereby meant." 
St. l°atrick's D, O, (Match 7)- Shakespeare, in " Ham- 
let " (i. 5), makes the Danish prince swear by St. Patrick, on 
which \Varburton remarks that the whole northern world 
had their learning from Iieland. ' As Mr. Singer = observes, 
however, it is more probable that the poet seized the first 
popular imprecation that came to his mind, without regard- 
ing whcthcr it suited the country or character of the person 
to wholll he gave it. Some, again, have supposed that there 
is a reference here to St. l'atrick's purgatory, but this does 
hot seem probable. 
St. Gcorg«'s Dav (April 235. St. George, the guardiau 
saint of England, is often alluded to by Shakespeare. His 
festival, which was formerly celebrated by feasts of cities 
and corporations, is now ahnost passed over without notice. 
Thus, Bcdford, in "  Henry VI." (i. Q, speaks of keeping 
" our great Saint George's feast withal." "God and St. 
George" was once a common battle-cry, several rcferences 
 St. Patrick rids Ireland of snakes ; see p. 257. 
= Singer's "Shakespeare," 87o, vol. ix. p. 68. 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITIt THE CALENDAR, 30.q 
to which-occur in Shakespeare's pl,ys. Thus, in " IIenry 
V." (iii. I), the king says to his soldiers :' 

"Cry, God for Harry, England, and Saint George." 
Again, iii " I ] tenry VI." (iv. 2), Talbot says : 
"God and Saint George, Talbot and England's right, 
Prosper our colours in this dangerous fight !" 
The following injunction, from an old act of war, concern- 
ing the use of St. George's naine in onsets, is curious : "' Item, 
that all souldiers entering into battaile, assault, skirmish, or 
other faction of armes, shall have for their co,-nmon crye and 
vord, St. Gcorgc, fomvard, or, [/,on thcm, St. G«orc, whercby 
the souldier is much comforted, and the enemie dismaicd, by 
calling to minde thc ancient valour of England, with which 
that naine has so often been victorious."" 
The combat of this saint on horseback with a dragon has 
been very long established as a subject for sign-painting. 
In " King John " (ii. I) Philip says : 
"Saint George, that swing'd the dragon, and e'er since 
Sits on his horseback at mine hostess" door." 
It is still a very favorite sign. In London alone there are 
said to be no less than sixty-six public-bouses and taverns 
with the sign of St. George and the Dragon, hot counting 
beer-houses and coffee-houses. 
Ahly Day. The festival of May day has, fiom the earliest 
times, been most popular in this country, on account ofits 
association with the joyous season of spring. It was for- 
merly celebrated with far greater enthusiasm than nowa- 
days, for Bourne tells us how the young people were in the 
habit of rising a little after midnight and xvalking to some 
neighboring wood, accornpanied with music and the blow- 
ing of horns, where they broke down branches from the 

Cf. " Henry V.," v. 2; "3 HenlT VI.," ii. i, 2; "Taming of the 
Shrew," ii. t ; " Richard Il.," i. 3- 
Cited by VVarton in a note on " Richard III.," v. 3- 
Hotten's " History of Sign-boards," 866, 3 d ed., p. 287. 
20 



306 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
trees, which, decorated with nosegays and garlands of ftow- 
ers, were brought home soon after sunrise, and placcd at 
their doors and windows. Shakespeare, alluding to this 
practice, informs us how eagerly it was looked forward to, 
and that it was impossible to make the people sleep on May 
morning. Thus, in " tlenry VIII." (v. 4), it is said : 
" Pray. sir. be patient : "tis as much impossible-- 
Unless we sweep 'em from the door with cannons-- 
To scatter "em, as 'tis to make 'cm sleep 
On May-day morning." 
Again, in "A Midsummer-Night's Dream " (i. ), Lysan- 
dcr, speaking of these May-day observances, says to Hermia: 
" If thou lov'st me, then, 
Steal forth thy father's house to-morrow night ; 
And in the wood, a league without the town, 
Whcre I did meet thee once with Helena, 
To do observance to a morn of May, 
There will I stay for thee." 
_And Theseus says (iv. I): 
"No doubt they rose up early to observe 
The rite of May. "'1 
Iu the"Two Noble Kinsmen" (ii. 3),one ofthe four coun- 
trymen asks: " Do we all hold against the Maying ?" 
In Chaucer's "Court of Love" we read that early on 
May day " Fourth goth al the Court, both most and lest, to 
fetche the flowris fresh and blome." In the reign of Henry 
VIII. it is on record that the hcads of the corporation of 
London went out into the high grounds of Keut to gather 
the May, and were met on Shooter's Hill by the king and 
lais quecn, Katherine of Arragon, as thcy were coming from 
the palace of Greenwich. Until within a comparatively re- 
cent period, this custom still lingered in some of the coun- 
ties. Thus, at Newcastlc-upon-Tyne, the following doggerel 
was sung; 

' Cf. "Twelfth Night" (iii. 4) : " More matter for a May morning." 



CUSTOMS COÆNECTED WITH TItE CALENDAR. 

"Rise up, maidens, fie for shame ! 
For l've been four long mlles from hame, 
l've been gathering my garlands gay, 
Rise up, fair maidens, and take in your May." 

3o7 

Many of the ballads sung 1_mvadays, in country places, 
by the village children, on May morning, as they carry their 
garlands rioto door to door, undoubtedly refer to the old 
practice of going a-Maying, although fallen into disuse. 
1,1 olden times ncarly every village had its May-pole, 
around vhich, decoratcd with wreaths of flovers, ribbons, 
and flags, our mcrry anccstors danced flore morning till 
night. The earliest representation of an English May-pole 
is that published in the "Variorum Shakespeare," and de- 
picted on a windov at Betley, in Staffordshire, then the 
property of Mr. Tollet, and which he was disposed to think 
as old as the time of Henry VIII. The pole is planted in a 
mound of earth, and has affixed to it St. George's red-cross 
banner and a white pennon or streamer with a forked end. 
The shaft of the pole is paintcd in a diagonal line of black 
colors upon a yellov ground, a characteristic decoration of 
all thcse ancient May-poles, as alluded to by Shakespeare 
in " A lIidsummer-Night's Dream" (iii. 2), where it gives 
point to Hermia's allusion to her rival Helena as"a painted 
Nay-pole. '' Thc popularity of the May-pole in formcr 
centuries is shown by the fact that one of our London par- 
ishes, St. Andrev Undershaft, derives its naine rioin the 
May-pole which overhung its steeple, a reference to which 
we find ruade by Geoffrey Chaucer, who, speaking of a vain 
boaster, says : 

" Right well aloft, and high ye bear your head, 
As ye would bear the great shaft of Cornhill." 

London, indeed, had several May-poles, one of which stood 
in Basing Lane, near St. Paul's Cathedral. It xvas a large tir 
pole, forty feet high and fifteen inches in diameter, and fabled 

 " Book of Days," vol. i. p. 575 ; see "British Popular Customs," 
PP. 228-230, 49. 



308 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
to be the justing staff of Gerard the Giant. Only a few, 
however, of the old May-poles remain scattered here and 
there throughout the country. One still supports a weather- 
cock in the churchyard at l'endleton, Manchester; and in 
Derbyshire, a fcw years ago, several were to bc scen stand- 
ing on somc of the village greens. The rhymes ruade use 
of as the pcoplc danced round the May-pole varied according 
to the locality, aud offcntimcs combined a curious mixture 
of thc jocose and sacred. 
Another feature of the May-day fcstivitics was the morris- 
dance, the principal characters of which generally were 
Robin |[ood, Maid Marian, Scarlet, Stokesley, Little John, 
the Hobby-horse, the Bavian or l:ool, Tom the Piper, with 
his pipe and tabor. The numbcr of characters varied much 
at diffcrent rimes and places. In "All's \Vell that Ends 
Well" (ii. 2), the clown says : "_As fit as ten groats is for the 
hand of an attorney.., a morris for May-day."' 
In " 2 Henry VI." (iii. ) thc Dule of York says of Cade: 
" I have seen 
Him capcr upright, like a wild Morisco, 
Shaking the bloody darts, as he his bells." 
In the " Two Noble Kinsmen" (iii. 5) Gerrold, the school- 
toaster, thus describes to King Theseus the morris-dance: 
" If you but favour, our country pasti,--ne rnade is. 
We are a few of those collected here, 
That ruder tongues distinguish villagers ; 
And, to say verity and not to fable, 
We are a rnerry rout. or else a rable, 
Or company, or, by a figure, choris. 
That 'fore thy dignity will dance a rnorris. 
And I. that ana the rectifier of all: 
By title P«earag«us. that let fall 
The birch upon the breeches of the srnall ones, 
And humble with a ferula the tall ones, 
Do here present thls machine, or this frarne : 
And, dainty duke, whose doughty disrnal lame. 

' See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.." vol. i. pp. 247-27o ; "Book of Days,'" 
vol. i. pp. 630-633. 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITH THE CALENDAR. 

From Dis to Doedalus. from post to pillar, 
Is blown abroad, help me. thy poor well willer. 
And. with thy twinkling eyes. look right and straight 
Upon this mighty mort--of mickle weight-- 
Is now cornes in. which being glu'd together 
Makes morris, and the cause that we came hether. 
The body of our sport, of no small study. 
I first appear, though rude. and raw. and mu ldy. 
To speak, before thy noble grace, this tenner ; 
At whose great feet I offer up my penner: 
The next. the Lord of May and Lady bright. 
The chambermaid and serving-man, by night 
That seek out silent hanging: then mine host 
And his fat spouse, that wclcomes to their cost 
The galled traveller, and with a bcck'ning. 
Inform the tapster to inflame the reck'ning : 
Then the beast-eating clown, and nêxt the fool. 
The bavian, with long tail and eke long tool ; 
Clot mullis ali's that make a dance : 
Say ' Ay," and all shall presently advance." 

309 

fi_inong the scattered allusions to the characters of this 
dance may be noticed that in " I Henry IV." (iii. 3) : "and 
for womanhood, Maid Marian may be the dcputy's wife of 
the ward to thee"--the allusion being to "the degraded 
Maid Marian of the later morris-dance, more male than fe- 
male." ' 
The "hobby-horse," another personage of the morris- 
dance on iX, Iay da3", was occasionally omitted, and appears to 
have given rise to a popular ballad, a line of which is given 
by " Hamlet" (iii. e) : 

"' For. O. for, O, the hobby-horse is forgot." 

This is quoted again in" Love's Labour's Lost" (.iii. I). The 
hobby-horse was forlned by a pasteboard horse's head, and 
a light fralne made of wicker-work to join the hinder parts. 
This was fastened round the body of a man, and covered 
with a foot-cloth which nearly reached the ground, and con- 
cealed the legs of the perforlner, who displayed his antic 

' Nares's "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 55 o. 



3iO FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
equestrian skill, and pcrformed various jtlggling tricks, to the 
amusement of the bystandcrs. In Sir 'Valtcr Scott's " Mon- 
astery" there is a spirited description of the hobby-horse. 
The tenn '-hobby-horse " was applied to a loose woman, 
and in the " 'Vinter's Talc" (i. 2) it is so uscd by Leontes, 
who says to Camillo : 
'" Then say 
My wife's a hobby-horse ; deserves a naine 
As tank as any flax-wench, that puts to 
Belote her troth-plight." 
In " Othello" (iv. ), Bianca, spcaking of Desdemona's 
handkerchicf, says to Cassio: "This is some minx's token, 
and I must take out the work ! Thcre, give it your hobby- 
horse." It secms also to bave denoted a silly fcllow, as in 
" Much Ado About Nothing" (iii. 2), where it is so used by 
]3enedick. 
Another character was Friar Tuck, the chaplain of Robin 
tIood, and as such is noticed in the "Two Gentlemen of 
Verona" (iv. I), where one of the outlaws swears : 
" By the bare scalp of Robin Hood's fat friar." 

lIe is also represented by Tollet as a Franciscan fl-iar in 
the full clerical tonsure, for, as he adds, " V'hen the parish 
priests were inhibited by the diocesan to assist in the Iay 
gaines, the Franciscans might give attendance, as being ex- 
empted ri'oto episcopal jurisdiction."' 
It was no uncommon occurrence for metrical interludes 
of a comic species, and founded on the achievements of the 
outlaw Robin ttood, to be performed after the morris, on 
the May-pole grecn, lIr. Drake thinks that these interludes 
are alluded to in " Twelfth Night" (iii. 4), where Fabian ex- 
claires, on the approach of Sir Andrew Aguecheek with his 
challenge, " More matter for a May morning.." 
II'hitsuutid«. Apart from its observance as a religious 
festival, \Vhitsuntide was, in times past, celebrated with 
much ceremony. In the Catholic times of England it was 

' See Drake's "Shakespeare and his Times," 87, vol. i. p. [6 3. 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITH TttE CALENDAR. 31 I 
usual to dramatizc the descent of thc Holy Ghost, whlch this 
festival COlnmemorates--a custom which we find alluded 
to in Barnaby Googc's translation of ,Vaocorus: 
"On Whit-Sunday white pigeons rame in strings from heaven flic. 
And one that framed is of wood still hangeth in the skie, 
Thou seest how they with idols play. and tcach the people too : 
None otherwise than little girls with puppets used to do." 
This custoln appears to havc been calried to an extrava- 
gant height in Spain, for Mr. Fosbroke' tells us that the 
of the toly Ghost was represented by " thunder ffoto en- 
gines which did lnuch damage." \Vatcr, oak leaves, burning 
torches, wafcrs, and cakcs werc thrown down from the church 
roof; pigeons and small birds, with cakes tied to thcir legs, 
were let loosc; alld a long censer was swung up and down. 
In ou," own cou,m»-, many costly pageants were exhibited at 
this season. Thus, at Chcstcr, the \Vhitsun Mysteries wcrc 
acted during the Monday, Tucsday, and \Vcdncsday in Whit- 
sun weel« The performcrs wcrc carried flom one place to 
another by means of a scaffold--a huge and pondcrous ma- 
chine mounted on wheels, gayly decorated with flags, and 
divided into two compartments--the upper of which formed 
the stage, and the lower, defended from vulgar curiosity by 
coarse canvas draperies, answered the purposes of a green- 
room. To each craft in the city a separate lnystery was 
allotted. Thus, the drapers exhibited the "Creation," the 
tanners took the " Fall of Lucifer," the water-carriers of the 
Dee acted the " Dcluge," etc. The production, too, of these 
pageants was extremely costly; indeed, each one has been 
set dowll at fifteen or twenty pounds sterling. An allusiol.a 
to this custom is ruade in the " Two Gentlemen of Verona" 
(iv. 4), where Julia says : 
"At Pentecost, 
.Vhen ail our pageants of dei;ght were play'd, 
Out youth got me to play the woman's part. 
And I was trimm'd in IXladam Julia's gown." 
The morris-dance, too, was formerly a common accom- 

' "Encyclopoedia of Antiquities," 843, vol. ii. p. 653. 



FOLK-LORE OF SttAKESPEARE. 

paniment to the \Vhitsun ales, a practice xvhich is still kept 
up in many parts of the country. In " Henry V." (ii. 4), 
the Dauphin thus alludes to it: 

" I say, "ris meet we all go forth, 
To view the sick and feeble parts of France: 
And let us do it with no show of fear; 
No, with no more than if we heard that England 
Were busied with a Whitsun morris-dance." 

And once more, in the " Winter's Talc " (iv. 4), Perdita says 
to Florizel : 
" Mcthinks I play as I have scen thcm do 
In Whitsun pastorals." 
A custom formerly kept up in COlmection with Whitsun- 
ride was the " Whitsun ale." Ale was so prevalent a drink 
among us ill olden rimes as to become a part of the naine 
of valious festal meetings, as Leet ale, Lamb ale, Bride ale 
(bridal), and, as we sec, \Vhitstm ale. Thus our ancestors 
were in the habit of holding parochial meetings every \Vhit- 
suntide, usually in some barn near the church, consisting of 
a kind of picnic, as each parishioner brought what victuals 
he could spare. The ale, which had been brewed pretty 
strong for the occasion, was sold by thc churchwardens, and 
from its profits a fund arose for the rcpair of the church.' 
These meetings are referred to by Shakcspeare in " Pericles" 
(i. ): 
• ' It bath been sung at festivals, 
On ember-eves and holy-ales." 

In thc "Two Gcntlcmen of Verona" (ii. 5), when Launce 
tells Speed,"thou hast hot so much charity in thec as togo 
to the alc with a Christian," these words have been explained 
to mean the rural festival so named, though, as lIr. Dyce 
remarks (" Glossary," p. IO), the previous words of Launce, 
"go with me to the aie-bouse," show this explanation to be 
wrollg. 
' See " British Popular Customs," p. 278 ; t3rand's " Pop. Antiq.," 
849, vol. i. p. 276. 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITH THE CALENDAR. 3i 3 

In the old miracle-plays performed at this and other sea- 
sons Herod was a favorite personage, and was generally rep- 
resented as a tyrant of a very overbearing, violent character. 
Thus Hamlet says (iii. z) : " O, it offends me to the soul, to 
hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tat- 
ters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings ; who, 
for the most part, are capable of nothing but inexplicable 
dumb-shows and noise : I would bave such a fellow whipped 
for o'er-doing Termagant; it out-herods I lcrod." On this 
account Alexas mentions him as the most daring charac- 
ter when he tells Cleopatra ("Antony and Cleopatra," 

iii. 3) : 

"Good majesty. 
Herod of Jewry dare net look upon you 
But when you are well pleas'd." 

In the " Merry \Vives of\Vindsor" (il. I), Mrs. Page speaks 
of him in the saine signification : " \Vhat a t[erod of Jewry 
is this !" 
Nr. Dyce, in his " Glossary" (p. "o7), has this note: " If 
the reader wishes to know what a swaggering, uproarions 
tyrant Herod was represented to be in those old dramatic 
performances, let him turn to 'Magnus t[erodes' in 'The 
Tovneley Mysteries,' p. 14o, ed. Surtees Society ; to ' King 
Herod' in the ' Coventry Mysteries,' p. 188, ed. Shakespeare 
Society; and to 'The $1aughter of the Innocents' in ' The 
Chester Plays,' vol. i. p. t72, ed. Shakespeare Society." 
Like Herod, Termagant  was a hectoring tyrant of the 
miracle-plays, and as such is mentioned by I tamlet in the 
passage quoted above. IIence, in course of rime, the word 
was used as an adjective, in the sense of violent, as in " x 
Henry IV." (v. 4), " that hot termagant Scot." Hall men- 
tions him in his first satire: 

" Nor fright the reader with the Pagan vaunt 
Of mighty Mahound and great Termagaunt." 

 According to the crusaders and the old romance writers a Saracen 
deity. See Singer's "Shakespeare," vol. ix. p. zi 4. 



314 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
\Vhi|e spcaking of the o|d mysteries or miracle-plays we 
may also here refcr to the " moralities," a class of rcligious 
plays in which allegorical personifications of the virtues and 
vices were introduced as dr«matL'p«rsome. These personages 
at first only took part in the play along with the Scriptural 
or legendary characters, but afterwards entirely superseded 
them. They continued in fashion till the rime of Queen 
Elizabeth. Several allusions are given by Shakespeare to 
these moral plays. Thus, in "Twelfth Night7' (iv. I), the 
clown sings : 
" I am gone, sir, 
And anon, sir, 
I'll be with you again 
In a trice, 
Like to the old Vice, 
Your need to sustain ; 
Who. with dagger of lath, 
In his rage and his wrath, 
Cries, Ah, ha ! to the devil," etc. 
Again, in "  Henry IV." (il. 4), Prince Henry speaks of 
"that reverend Vice, that grey Iniquity:" and in " 2 Henry 
IV." (iii. 2), Falstaff says, " now is this Vice's dagger become 
a squire." 
Again, fltrther allusio,s occur in " Richard III.'_' (iii. I). 
Gloster says : 
"Thus. like the formal Vice, Iniquity. 
I moralize two meanings in one word." 
And once more, Hamlet (iii. 4), spcaks of" a Vice of kings," 
" a king of shreds and patches." 
According to Nares,"Vice" had the naine sometimes of 
one vice, sometimes of another, but most commonly of 
z}]uit3,, or Vice itself. He was grotesquely dressed in a cap 
with ass's ears, a long coat, and a dagger of lath. One of 
his chier employments was to make sport with the devil, 
leaping on his back, and belaboring him with his dagger of 
lath, till he ruade him roar. The devil, however, always car- 
ried him off in the end. He was, in short, the buffoon of 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITII TtIE CALENDAR. 3i 5 
the morality, and was succeeded in his office by the clown, 
xvhom wc see in Shakcspcarc and others.' 
.A_gain, there may be a further allusion to the moralities 
in " King Lcar" (ii. 2), whcre Kent says to Oswald, " take 
Vanity, the puppct's, part, against the royalty of hcr fathcr." 
Then, too, there were the "pageants "--shows which were 
usually performed in the highways of our towns, and assimi- 
lated in some dcgree to the miraclc-plays, but werc of a morc 
mixed charactcr, being partly drawn from profane history. 
According to Strutt, they were more fl'equcnt in London, 
being required at stated periods, such as thc setting of thc 
IXlidsummer ,Vatch, and the Lord Mayor's Show. = Among 
the allusions to these shows given by Shakespcarc, we may 
quote one iii " Richard III." (iv. 4), wherc Queen Margaret 
speaks of 
• ' The ftattering index of a direful pageant" 
--the pageants displayed on public occasions being gencrally 
preceded by a bricf account of the order iii which the char- 
acters were to walk. These indexes vere distributed among 
the spectators, that they might understand the meaning of 
such allegorical representations as werc usually exhibited. 
In the " Merchant of Venice" (i. I), Salarino calls argosies 
" the pageants of the sea," in allusion, says Douce,  "to those 
enormous machines, in the shapes of castles, dragons, ships, 
giants, etc., that were drawn about the streets in the ancient 
shows or pageants, and which often constituted the most 
important part of theln." Again, iii " As -'ou Like It" 
(iii. 4), Corin says: 
" If you will see a pageant truly play'd, 
Between the pale complexion of true love 
And the red glow of scorn and proud disdain, 
Go hence a little, and I shall conduct you, 
If you will mark it." 

' See Dyce's "Glossary," p. 482. 
= "Sports and Pastimes," 876, pp. 25-28 ; see Warton's " History of 
English Poetry," vol. ii. p. 2o2. 
 " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p.  54. 



316 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
And in "Antony and Cleopatra" (iv. 4), Antony speaks of 
"black vesper's pageants." 
The nine worthics, originally comprising Joshua, David, 
Judas Iaccabœeus, Hcctor, Alexander, Julius Cresar, Arthur, 
Charlcmagne, and Godfrey of Bouillon, appear from a very 
early pcriod to have bcen introduccd occasionally in the 
shows and pageants of our anccstors. Thus, in "Love's 
Labour's Lost" (v. 2), thc pagcant of the nine worthies is 
introduced. As Shakcspeare, howcvcr, introduces Hcrculcs 
and Pompey among his prcsence of worthies, we may infcr 
that the characters were sometimes varied to suit the cir- 
cumstances of the pcriod, or thc taste of the anditory. A 
MS. prcservcd in thc library of Trinity College, Dublin, 
mcntions thc " Six \Vorthics" having bcen playcd before 
thc I.ord Dcputy Susscx in 55ï. ' 
Anothcr fcaturc of the Vfhitsun mcrrymakings were the 
Cotswold gaines, which were gencrally on the Thursday in 
\Vhitsun week, in the vicinity ofChipping Calnpden. They 
were instituted by an attorney of Burtol-on-the-Heath, in 
\Varwickshire, named Robert Dru'er, and, like the Olympic 
games of the ancients, consisted of most kinds of manly 
sports, such as wrestling, leaping, pitching thc bar, handling 
the pike, dancing, and hunting. Ben Jonson, Drayton, and 
othcr poets of that age wrote verses on this festivity, which, 
in 636, were collected into one volume, and published un- 
der the naine of"Anlaalia Dubrensia. ''= I11 the " IIerry 
Wives of \Vindsor" (i. ), Slender asks Page, " How does 
your fallow greyhound, sir ? I heard say, he was outrun on 
Cotsall." And in " e Henry IV."-" (iii. e), Shallow, by distin- 
guishing \Vill Squclc as" a Cotswold man," meant to imply 
that he was wcll versed in manly exercises, and consequently 
of a daring spirit and athlctic constitution. A sheep was 
jocularly called a " Cotsold," or "Cotswold lion," from the 
extensive pastures in that part of Gloucestershire. 

' Staunton's "Shakespeare," 864, vol. i. pp. 47, 48. 
= See " Book of Days," vol. i. p. 712. 
* See Singer's "' Shakespeare," vol. v. p. 2o6. 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITI! THE CALENDAR. 3i 7 
"While speaking of Whitsuntidc festivities, we may rcfer 
to the "roasted Manningtree ox with the pudding in lais 
belly," to which Prince Ilenry alludes in "I IIenry IV." 
(il. 4)- It appears that Malmingtree, in Essex, formerly en- 
joyed the pl-ivilege of fairs, by the tenure of exhibiting a 
certain number of Stage Plays yearly. There wcre, also, 
great festivities there, and much good eating, at Whitsun 
ales and other times. Hence, it seems that loasting an ox 
whole was hot uncommon on such occasions. Thepudding 
spoken of by Prince Henry often accompanied thc ox, as 
xe find in a ballad written in 658:' 
"Just so the people stare 
At an ox in the tair 
Roasted whole v«ith a pudding in's belly." 
Shccp-shcarii«g Time commences as soon as the warm 
weather is so far settled that the sheep may, without dan- 
ger, lay aside their winter clothing; the following tokens 
being laid down by Dyer, in his " Fleece" (,bk. i), to mark 
out the proper time:  
"If verdant elder spreads 
Her silver flowers ; if humble daisies yield 
To yellow crowfoot and luxuriant grass 
Gay shearing-time approaches." 
Our ancestors, who took advantage of evcry natural holiday, 
to keep it long and gladly, celcbrated the tilne of shecp- 
shearing by a feast exclusively rural. Drayton,  the coun- 
tryman of Shakespeare, has graphically described this fes- 
tive scene, the Vale of Evesham being the locality of the 
sheep-shearing which he bas pictured so pleasantly : 
'" The shepherd king. 
Whose flock hath chanc'd that year the earliest lamb to bring, 

 See Nichol's " Collection of Poems," I78O, vol. iii. p. 204. 
= See Knight's " Lire of Shakespeare," 1845. p. 7 ; Howitt's "Picto- 
rial Calendar of the Seasons," 1854, pp. 254-267. 
 "' Polyolbion," song 14; see Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 849, vol. ii. 
P. 34 ; Timbs's "A Garland for the Year," pp. 74, 75- 



318 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
In his gay baldric sits at his low, grassy board, 
With flawns, curds, clouted crearn, and country dainties stored ; 
And whilst the bag-pipe plays, each lusty, jocund swain 
Quaffs syllabubs in cans, to all upon the plain, 
And to their country girls, whose nosegays they do wear ; 
Some roundelays do sing; the test the burthen bear. ' 
In thc "\Vintcr's Talc," onc of the most delicious scenes 
(iv. 4) is that of the shccp-shearing, in which we bave the 
more poctical "slacphcrd-qucen." lIr. Furnivall,' in lais 
introduction to this play, justly rcmarks : " How happily it 
brings Shakespcare bcfore us, mixing with lais Stratford 
ncighbors at thcir shecp-shcaring and country sports, en- 
joying the vagabond pcdler's gammon and talk, delighting 
in the swect \Varwickshire maidens, and buying them ' fair- 
ings,' telling goblin stories to the boys,' Thcre was a man 
dwclt in a claurclayard,' opening lais heart afresh to ail the 
innocent mirth, and the bcauty of nature around him." 
Thc expense attaching to these festivitics appears to bave 
afforded matter of complaint. Thus, the clown asks,"\Vhat 
ara I to buy for our shcep-shearing fcast ?" and then pro- 
ceeds to cnumerate various things which he wil! bave to 
purchase. In Tusser's " Five Hundred Points of Husbandry" 
this festival is describcd undcr "The Ploughman's Feast- 
days :" 
'" Wife, make us a dinner, spare flesh neither corne, 
llake wafers and cakes, for our sheep must be shorne ; 
At shcepe-shearing, neighbours none other things crave, 
But good cheerc and welcome likc neighbours to bave." 
.][idstmcr t7'c appears to bave been regardcd as a pe- 
riod whcn the imagination ran riot, and many a curious 
superstition was associated with this season. Thus, peoplc 
gathered on this night the rose, St. John's wort. vervain, 
trefoil, and rue, all of which were supposed to bave magical 
properties. They set the orpine in clay upon pieces of 
slate or potsherd in their bouses, calling it a " Midsummer 
man." As the stalk was found next morning to incline to 

Introduction to the " Leopold Shakespeare," p. xci. 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITH TtIE CALENDAR. 3I 9 
the right or left, the anxious maiden l«ew whether her lover 
would prove truc to her or hOt. Young men sought, also, 
for pieces of coal, but, in reality, certain hard, black, dead 
roots, often found under thc living mugwort, designing to 
place these under their pillows, that they might dream of 
themselves.' It was also supposed that any person fasting 
on Midsummer-eve, and sitting in the church-porch, would 
at midnight sec the spirits of those persons of that parish 
who would die that year corne and knock at thc church- 
door, in the order and succession in which they would die. 
Midsummer vas formerIy thought to be a season productive 
ofmadness. Thus, Malvolio's strange conduct is dcscribed 
by Olivia in " Twclfth Night " (iii. 4) as "A very midsumlner 
madness." And, hence, "A Midsummer-Night's Dream" 
is no inappropriate title for " the series of wild incongruities 
ofwhich the play consists. '' The Low-Dutch have a prov- 
erb that, when men have passed a troublesome night, and 
could hot sleep, "they have passed St. John Baptist's night " 
--that is, they have hot taken any sleep, but watched all 
night. Heywood seems to allude to a similar notion when 
he says : 
"As mad as a March hare : where madness compares, 
Are hot midsummer hares as mad as March hares ?" 

A proverbial phrase, too, to signify that a person was mad, 
was, '" 'Tis rnidsummer moon with you "--hot weathcr bcing 
supposed to affect the brain. 
Z)og-days. A popular superstition--in all probability de- 
rived from the Egyptians--referred to thc rising and setting 
of Sirius, or the Dog-star, as infusing madness into the canine 
race. Consequently, the naine of" Dog-days" was ginen by 
the Romans to the period betwccn the 3d of July and I Ith 
of August, to which ShakeslSeare alludcs in " Henry VIII." 
(v. 3), "the dog-days now reign." It is obvious that the 

' " Book of Days." vol. i. p. 86; see Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," vo!. i. 
p. 314 ; Soane's " Book of the Months." 
= See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 1849, vol. i. pp. 336, 337. 



320 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
notion is utterly groundless, for hot only does the star vary 
in its rising, but is later and later every year. According 
to the Roman belief, "at the rising of the Dog-star the seas 
boil, the wines ferment in the cellars, and standing waters 
are set in motion ; the dogs, also, go mad, and the sturgeon 
is blastcd." The terre Dog-days is still a common phrase, 
and it is difficult to say whether it is from superstitious ad- 
hcrence to old custom or from a beliefofthe injurious effect 
ofheat upon the canine race that the magistrates, oftcn un- 
wisely, at this season of the year order thcm to be muzzled 
or tied up. 
La#tm«s-«t«y (August ). According to some antiquari- 
ans, Lammas is a corruption of loaf-mass, as our ancestors 
ruade an offcring of bread rioto new wheat on this day. 
Others derive it rioto lamb-mass, because the tenants who 
hcld lands under the Cathedral Church of York were bound 
by their tenure to bring a lire lamb into the church at high 
mass.' It appears to have becn a popular da), in times past, 
and is mcntioned in the following dialogue in " Romeo and 
Julict" (i. 3), where the Nurse inquires: 

" How long is it now 
To Lammas-tide ? 
La«?y Cap«l«t. A fortniht, and odd days. 
A)o'se. Evcn or odd. of all davs in the year, 
Corne Lammas-eve at night, shall she be fourteen ?" 

In Neale's " Essays on Liturgiology" (2d. ed., p. 526), 
the \Velsh equivalent for Lammas-day is given as " dydd 
degwm wyn," lamb-tithing day. 
St. Çharity (August ). This saint is found in the Mar- 
tyrology on the st of August : " Romoe passio Sanctaram 
Virginum Fidei, Spei, et Charitatis, quoe sub Hadriano prin- 
cipe martyrioe coronam adepte sunt. ''* She is alluded to 
by Ophelia, in her song in " Hamlet" (iv. 5) : 

' See " British Popular Customs," pp. 347-35. 
- Douglas's "Criterion," p. 68, cited by Ritson ; see Douce's "Illus- 
trations of Shakespeare," p. 475. 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITH TIIE CALENDAR. 
" 13y Gis,' and by Saint Charity, 
Alack, and fie for shamc !" etc. 

32I 

In the " Faire Maidc of Bristowe '" 1,6o5) we find a simi- 
lar allusion : 

"Nmv. by Saint Charity, if I wcre judge, 
A halter were the least should hamper him." 

St. I;«rthohmww's D« U, (August 24). The anniversary of 
this festival was formerly signalized by the holding of the 
great Smithfield Fait, the only rem fair hekl within the city 
of I.ondon. One of the chicf attractions of Bartholonaew 
Fair were roasted pigs. They were sold " piping hot, in 
booths and on stalls, and ostentatiously displayed to excite 
the appetite of passcngers." I Icncc, a " Bartholomew pig" 
became a popular subject of allusion. Falstaff, in " 2 t lenry 
IV." (il. 4), in coaxing ridicule ofhis cnormous figure, is play- 
fully called, by his favorite Doll : " Thou whorcson little tidy 
Bartholomew boar-pig." Dr. Johnson, howcver, thought 
that paste pigs were meant in this passage; but this is im- 
probable, as the true Bartholomew pigs were real roasted 
pigs, as may be seen from Ben Jonson's play of " Barthol- 
omew Fait" (i. 6), where Ursula, the t»ig-woman, is an im- 
portant personage? Gay, too, speaks of thc pig-drcssers: 
"'Like Bartholomew Fair pig-dressers, who look like the 
dams, as well as the cooks, of what thev roastcd." A fur- 
ther allusion to this season is found in " ttcnry V." (v. 2), 
where Burgundy tells how "maids, wcll-summered and 
warm kept, are like flies at Bartholomew-tidc, blind, though 
they have their eyes; and then they will endure handling, 
which bcfore would hot abide looking on." 
H«r't Home. The ceremonies which graced thc ingath- 
ering of the harvest in bygonc rimes have gradually dis- 
appeared, and at the prescnt day only remnants of the old 

This is, perhaps, a corrupt abbreviation of " By Jesus." Seine 
would read "By Cis," and understand by it " St. Cicely." 
 See Nares's " Glossary," vol. i. p. 57 ; Morley's " Memoirs of Bar- 
tholomew Fair," 859. 
21 



.322 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
usages which once prevai]ed are sti]l preserved. Shake- 
spearc, who bas chronicled so many of out old customs, and 
sccms to have had a special dclight in illustrating his writ- 
ings with these charactcristics of our social lire, bas given 
sevcral interesting allusions to the observances wbich, in his 
da)-, graced the harvest-field. Thus, in V'arwickshire, the 
laborers, at their harvest-home, appointed a judge to try 
misdemeanors committed during harvest, and those who 
wcre sentcnccd to punishment werc placed on a bench and 
bcaten witb a pair ofboots. Hcnce the cercmonywas called 
"giving thcm thc boots." It has been suggested that this 
custom is alludcd to in thc " Two Gcntlemen of Verona" 
(i. ), whcre hakcspeare makes ]'roteus, parrying Valentine's 
railler)', sa)-, "' nay, give me hot the boots." 
In Northamptonshire, when any one misconducted him- 
.self in thc fidd during harvest, he was subjectcd to a mock- 
trial at tbe harvcst-lmme fcast, and condemned to be booted, 
a description of which we find in the introduction to Clare's 
" Village Minstrcl :" "A long form is placed in the kitcben, 
upon which the boys who have worked wcll sit, as a terror 
and disgrace to the test, in a bcnt posture, with thcir hands 
laid on each other's backs, forming a bridge for the 'hogs' 
(as the truant boys are callcd) to pass over; wbile a strong 
cbap stands on each side with a boot-legging, soundly strap- 
ping them as thcy scuffte over the bridge, which is done as 
fast as their ingenuity can carry them." Some, however, 
think the allusion in the " Two Gentlemen of Verona" is 
to tbe diabolical torture of thc boot. Not a great while be- 
lote this play was written, it had been inflicted, says Douce,' 
in the presence of King James, on one Dr. Flan, a supposed 
wizard, who was charged with raising the storms that the 
king encountered in his return ri-oto Denmark. The unfort- 
unate man was afterwards burned. This horrible torture, 
we are told,  consisted in the leg and knee of the criminal 

 " Illustrations of Shakespeare, » p. 2. 
- Dyce's '" Glossary," p. 47 ; Douce has given a representation of this 
instrument of torture from Milloeus's " Praxis Criminis Persequendi," 
Paris, 154I. 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITIt THE CALENDAR. 32. 
being enclosed within a tight iron boot or case, wedges of 
iron being then driven in with a maIIet bctwcen the knee 
and the iron boot. Sir \Valter Scott, it " Old Mortality," 
bas given a description1 of Macbriar utldel'gOilg this ptmish- 
ment. Jkt a later pefiod "' the boot " signified, accordig to 
Nares,' an instrument for tightenig the leg or hald, and 
was used as a cure for the gout, and caIled a " bootikins." 
The phrase "to give the boots" seems to have beel a pro- 
verbial expressio, siglfifyig " Don't make a laughing-stock 
of me; don't play upon me." 
I the " Mcrchant of Veice " (v. ), wbcle Lorelzo says: 
"Corne, ho ! and wake Diana with a hymn : 
With sweetest touches pierce your mistrcss' ear, 
And draw lier home with music," 
we have, doubtless, a allusiol to the " Hock Cart" of the 
old haro-est-home. This was thc cart which carried the last 
corn a'ay flore the hatvest-field, * and vas gelcrally pro- 
fltsely dccorated, and accompatied by music, o]d and yotmg 
shoutitg at the top of thcir voices a doggercl after the fol- 
lowilg fashiol : 
"We have ploughcd, we ha'e sowed, 
We bave reaped, we ha'e mowed, 
We bave brought lome e'ery load, 
Hip, bip, hip ! harvest home."  
In " Poor Robin's Ahnanack " for August, 676 , we read : 
"Hoacky is brought home with hallowing, 
13oys with plumb-cake the cart following." 
tfol3'roo«[DoEr (September 4)- This festi'al,  caIIed also 

"Glossary," vol. i. p. 95- 
Cf. "  Henry IV." (i. 3) : 
" His chin, new reap'd, 
Show'd like a stubble-land at harvest-home." 
See Brand's "Pop. Antlq.," 849, vol. il. pp. 6-33. 
See " 13ritish Popular Customs," pp. 372, 373. In Lincolnshire this 
day is called " Hally-Loo Day." 



324 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
Iloly-Cross Day, was instituted by the Romish Church, on 
account of the lecovery of a large piece of the supposed 
cross by the Empcror Hcraclius, after it had been taken 
away, on the plundering of Jerusalem, by Chosroes, king of 
l'ersia. .Among the customs associated with this day was 
one of going a-nutting, alluded to in the old play of" Grim, 
the Collier of Croydon" (ii. ): 
"To-morrow is tloly-rood day. 
When all a-nutting take their way." 
Shakespcarc mentions this festival in " 
whcre he represents the Earl of \Vestmoreland relating how, 
"On Holy-rood da}', the gallant Hotspur there, 
Young t |arrv Percy and brave Archibald. 
That ever-valiant and approved Scot, 
At Hohucdon met." 

Ni. Lamb«rfs l)ay (Septcmber 7)- This saint, whose 
original naine was Landcbcrt, but contracted into Lambert, 
was a native of Maestricht, in the seventh century, and was 
assassinatcd early in the eighth.' His festival is alluded to 
in " Richard 1I " (i. ), where the king says: 
"Be ready, as your lires shall answer it, 
At Coventry, upon Saint Lambert's day." 
3[i«ha«lmas (September 29). In the " Merry Wives of 
Windsor" (i. ), this festival is alluded to by Simple, who. 
in answer to Slcnder, whether he had " the Book ofriddles" 
about him, replies: "\Vhy, did you hOt lend it to Alice 
Shortcake upon All-hallowmas last, a fortnight afore Mi- 
chaelnaas,"--this doubtlcss being an intended blunder. 
In " t lIenry IV." (il. 4), Francis says: " Let me sec-- 
about Michaehnas next I shall be." 
St. Etlwh?rak, or Am?ry, commemorated in the Romish 
Calendar on the 23d of Jtme, but in the English Calendar on 
the 7th of October, was daughter of Annas, King of the 
East Angles. She founded the convent and church of Ely, 

' See Butler's "Lives of the Saints." 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITH THE CALENDAR. 325 
on the spot where the cathcdral was subscqucntly crcctcd. 
Formerly, at Ely, a fair was annually hcld, called in ber 
memory St. _udry's Fair, at which much cheap lace was 
sold to the poorer classes, which at first went by the naine 
of St. Audrv's lace, but in rime was corrupted into " tawdry 
lace." Shakespeare makes an allusion to this lace in the 
" \Vintcr's Tale"( iv. 4), whcre Mopsa sax's : " Corne, you 
promised me a tawdry lace, and a pair of swect gloves:" 
although in lais time the expression rather meant a rustic 
necldace. 1 An old English historian makes :St. Audry dic 
of a swclling in her throat, which she considcred as a par- 
ticular judgment for having been in her youth addictcd to 
wearing fine necklaces." 
St. £5"istiz's ]gav t, October -'5) has for centuries been a 
red-letter day in the calendar of the shoemakurs, being the 
festival of their patron saint. According to tradition, the 
brothers Crispin and Crispinian, natives of Rome, having 
become converted to Christianit.x', travelled to Soissons, in 
France, in order to preach the gospel. Bcing desirous, laow- 
ever, of rendering themselves independent, they earned their 
daily bread by making shoes, with which, it is said, they 
furnished the poor, at an extremely low price. \Vhen the 
governor of the town discovered that they maintained the 
Christian faith, and also tried to make proselytes of the in- 
habitants, he ordered thum to be beheaded. From this time 
the shoemakers bave chosen them for their tutelary saints. 
Shakespeare bas perpetuated the memory of this festival by 
the speech wlaich he bas given to Henry V. (ix'. 3), before 
the battle of Agincourt : 
"This day is call'd the feast of Çrispian : 
He that outlix-es this da3", and cornes safe home, 
Will stand a tip-toe when this da 3- is nain'd. 
And rouse him at the naine of Crispian. 
He that shall lire this da5", and see old age, 
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, 
And say, ' To-morrow is Saint Crispian."" 

' See Nares's "Glossary," vol. il. p. 868 ; Brady's "Clavis Calendaria." 
 Nich. Harpsfield, " Hist. Eccl. Anglicana," p. 86. 



326 FOLK-LORE OF SttAKESPEARE. 
St. Dennis has been adopted as the patron saint of France. 
(October 9), in the samc manncr as the English have chosen 
St. George. The guardianship of the two countries is thus 
cxpressed in the chorus to the old ballad : 
" t. George he was for England, 
St. Denis was for France, 
Singing, Honi soit qui mal y pense." 
King Itenry (" ttenry V.," v. 2) says to t'rincess Kathe- 
fine: "Shall hot thou and I, between Saint Dennis and 
Saint Geole, compound a boy, half I:rench, half E ghsh, 
etc. In " I Henry VI." (iii. 2), Charles says : 
" Saint Dcnnis bless this happy stratem, 
And once again we'll slecp secure in Rouen." 
Hllo-zc,mas (Novcmbcr t) is ont ofthc names for the feast 
of All-hallows, that is, Ail-Saints. Shakcspearc alludes to a 
custom relative to this day, somc traces of which arc still to 
be found in Staffordshire, Chcshire, and other counties. The 
poor people go from parish to parish a-souling, as they terre 
it, that is, bcgging, in a certain lamentable tone, for soul- 
cakes, at the saine rime singing a song which they call the 
soulcr's song. This practice is, no doubt, a rcmnant of the 
l'opish ccrcmony of praying for dcparted souls, especially 
those of fricnds, on thc cnsuing day, November 2, the feast 
of All-Souls.' The following is a specimen of the doggerel 
sung on these occasions : 
• ' Soul  soul  for a soul-cake ; 
Pmy, good mistress, for a soul-cake. 
One for Pcter, and two for Paul. 
Three for them who ruade us ail. 
Soul  soul ! for an apple or two : 
If you've got no apples, pears will do. 
Up with your kettle, and clown with your pan, 
Give me a good big one, and l'll be gone. 
Soul  soul  for a soul<ake, etc. 
An apple, a pear, a plum, or a cherry, 
Is a vew good thing to make us merry." 

 See "British Popular Customs," p. 4o4. 



CUSTOIIS CONNECTED ¥ITH THE CALENDAR. 32 y 
In the "Two Gentlemen of Verona" (ii. ), Speed thus 
spcaks of this practice : " OEo watch, like one that fears rob- 
bing; to speak puling,  like a beggar at ttalloxvmas." 
The season of Hallowmas, having been frcqucntly inild, has 
been, from time immcmorial, provcrbially called "All-hallown 
summcr," i. «., late summcr. Thus, in " I I Ienry IV." (i. 2), 
l'rince Ilenry, likening Falstaff,  ith his old age and young 
passions, to this November smnmer, addresses him : " Fare- 
well, thou latter spring! Farewell, _All-hallown summer." " 
In some parts of Germany there is a proverb, "Ail-Saints' 
Day brings the second summcr;" and in Swedcn thcre is 
often about this time a continuance of warm. still wcather, 
which is called " thc Ail-Saints' test." 
Thcrc is another rcfercnce to this festival in " Richard II." 
(v. ), whcrc the king says of his wife : 
"She came adorned hither like sweet May, 
Sent back like Hallowmas or short'st of day." 
All-Smtls" Z)oE, (November -)--which is set apart by thc 
Roman Catholic Church for a solcmn service for thc repose 
of the dead--was formcrly observed in this countr)', and 
among the many customs celebratcd in its honor were ring- 
ing the passing bell, making soul-cakes, blessing beans, etc? 
In " Richard III." (v. ), Buckingham, when led to execu- 
tion, says : 
"This is All-Souls' day, fellows, is it not ? 
Sheri_ff'. It is, my lord. 
tttc/«ig«ha»t. Why, then, All-Souls' day is my body's doomsday." 
Lor,-A[,_u'or's Daj, (Novembcr 9)" A custom which was 
in days gone by observed at the inauguration dinner was that 
of the Lord Mayor's fool leaping, clothes and all, into a large 
bowl of custard. It is alluded to in "_All's \Vell that Ends 
\Vell" (il. 5), by Lafeu : '" You have nade shift to run into 't, 
boots and spurs and all, like him that leaped into the cus- 

 Puling, or singing small, as Bailey explains the word. 
 Sec Swainson's "Weather-Lore," 873, pp. 14r-r43. 
 Sec " British Popular Customs," p. 4o 9. 



328 
tard." 
toit : 

FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
Bcn Jonson, in his "Devil's an Ass" (i. I), thus refers 

" He may, perchance, in tail of a sheriff's dinner, 
Skip with a rime o' the table, from new nothing, 
And take his almain leap into a custard, 
Shall make my lady mayoress and hcr sisters, 
Laugh ail their hoods over their shoulders." 
St. l[«rtin's Dav (Novembcr 1  ). Thc mild weather 
about this rime has given fise to numerous proverbs; one 
of the wcll-l«aown oncs bcing " St. Martin's little summer," 
an allusion to which we find in "  Henry VI." (,i. 2), where 
Joan of Arc says: 
" Expect Saint Martin's summer, halcyon days." 
which Johnson paraphrases thus: " Expect prosperity after 
misfortunc, like fair wcather at Martlemas, after winter has 
begun." As an illustration, too, of this passage, we may 
quotc ffoto the 7ïm«s, Octobcr 6, 1864 : " It was one of those 
rare but lovely cxceptions to a cold season, callcd in thc 
Mediterranean St. Martin's summcr." 
AcorruptionofMartinmasisMartlemas. Falstaffisjocu- 
larly so called by l'oins, in " 2 I lenry IV." (il. 2), as bcig in 
thc decline, as the vear is at this season : "And how doth 
the martlcmas, your toaster?" 
This was the customary timc for hanging up provisions to 
dry, which had been salted for wintcr use. 
St. Aïc]olas (December 6). This saint was dcemed the 
patron of children in gencral, but more particularly of ail 
schoolboys, among whom lais festival used to be a very great 
holiday. Various reasons have been assigned for his having 
bccn chosen as the patron of children--either because the 
legcnd makes him to have bccn a bishop while yet a boy, 
o ffoto lais having restorcd three young scholars to lire who 
bad becn cruclly murdered,' or, again, on account of his earlv 

' See Douce's '" Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. 25 ; "The Church 
of Out Fathers," by D. Rock, 853, vol. iii. p. 215; G«t. 31a... 777, 
vol. xliii, p. 58 ; see Nares's "Glossary," vol. ii. pp. 6oL 602 ; 13ra-ày's 
"' Clavis Calendaria." 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITH TIIE CALENDAR. 329 
abstinence when a box-. In the" Two Gentlemen ofVerona" 
(iii. I) he is alluded to in this capacity : 
" Sbc«d. Corne, fool, corne ; try rne in thy paper. 
1.«ttct,. There ; and Saint Nicholas be thy speed." 
Nicholas's clerks was, and still is, a cant terre for highway- 
men and robbers; but though the expression is very com- 
lnon, its origin is a lnatter of uncertainty. In "  ttenry IV." 
Iii. ) it is thus alluded to: 
" Gadshill. Sirrah, if they rneet not with Saint Nicholas' clerks, l'Il 
give thee this neck. 
Cambcr[a[t. No. l'll none of it : I pr'thee, keep that for the hang- 
man : for I know thou worshippest Saint Nicholas as truly as a man 
of falsehood may.'" 
Ç]trist«as. Among the observauces associated with this 
season, to which Shakespeare alludes, we may mention the 
Christmas Carol, a reference to which is probably ruade in 
" A Midsummer-Night's Dream " (ii. l), by Titania : 
" No night is now with hymn or carol blest." 
ttamlet (il. 2) quotes two lines from a popular ballad, en- 
titled the " Song of Jel)hthah's I)aughter," and adds : "The 
first row of the pious chanson will show vou more."' 
In days gone by, the custom of carol-singing was most 
popular, and \Vartoa, in lais " Ilistory of English Poetry," 
notices a license granted in 56_  to John Tysdale for priut- 
ing " Certaync goodly carowles to Ioe songe to the glory of 
God ;" and again " Ccstcnmas Carowles auctorisshcd by 
my lord of London. '' 
In the "Taming of the Shrew" (Ind., sc. 2), SI), asks 
whether "a comonty 3 is hot a Christmas g?tmbold." For- 
mcrly the sports and merry-making at this season were on 
a most extensive scale, being pre.ided ovcr Ioy the Lord of 

' Dral:e's "Shakespearc and his T[mes." vol. i. p. I98. 
-" See Sandy's "Chri»tmast_;de, its History, Festivities, and Caro!s ;'" 
also .4lbctcctt»t, Dec. 20, 856. 
 His blunder for comedy. 



330 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
Misrule.' Again, in " Love's Labour's Lost" (v. 2), Biron 
speaks of "a Chrishnas comedy." 
As we have noticed, too, in our chapter on Plants, a gilt 
nutmeg was formerly a common gift at Christmas, and Oll 
other festive occasions, to which ail allusion is probably 
made in thc sanie scene. Formerly, at this season, the head 
of the house asscmbled his family around a bowl of spiced 
ale, from which ho drank thcir healths, then passed it to the 
rest, that they might drink too. The word that passcd 
among them was the ancient Saxon phrase ««ss/cool, i. c., to 
your hcalth. Hence this came to be recognized as the was- 
sail or wassel bowl; and was the accompaniment to festix'- 
ity of cvery kind throughout the year. Thus Hamlet (i. 4) 
says : 
"The king doth wake to-night, and takes his rouse. 
Keeps wassail. » 
And in " Love's Labour's Lost" (v. 2), Biron speaks of: 
"wakes and wassails, meetings, markets, fairs." 
In " Macbeth" (i. 7), it is used by Lady Macbeth in the 
sense of intemperance, who, speaking of Duncan's two cham- 
berlains, says : 
"Will I with wine and wassail so convince, 
That memory, the warder of the brain. 
Shall be a fume. and the receipt of reason 
A linbeck only." 
In "Antony and Cleopatra" (i. 4), Coesar advises Antony 
to lire more temperately, and to leave his " lascivious was- 
sails."  
In the sanie way, a " wassail candle" denoted a large can- 
dle lighted up at a festival, a reference to which occurs in 
" 2 Henry IV." (i. 2) : 

 See " British Popular Customs," 876, pp. 459. 463; Nares's "Glos- 
sary." vol. il. p. 943 ; "Antiquarian Repertory," vol. i. p. 28. 
"- This was a deep draught to the health of any one, in which it was 
customary to empty the glass or vessel. 
 See Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare." 839. pp. 44-449. 



CUSTOMS CONNECTED WITH TtlE CALENDAR. 33 I 
'" Chier- 'usNce. You are as a candle, the better part burnt out. 
fl-alstafl'. A wassail candle, my lord ; all tallow." 
A custom which formerly prevailed at Christmas, and has 
hot 3"et died out, vas for mumnacrs to go from house to bouse, 
attired in grotesque attire, performing all kinds ofodd antics.' 
Their performances, however, wcre hOt confined to this sea- 
son. Thus, in " Coriolanus" çii. I) ]Xlenenius speaks of mak- 
ing " faces like mummers." 
Cak«s aml Ah'. It xvas formerly customary on holidays 
and saints' day's to make cakes in honor of the da)'. In 
" Twelfth Night" (,il. 3), Sir Toby says : " Dost thou thinl,, 
because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and 
ale ?" To which the Clown replies" " Vos, by Saint .\nne ; 
and ginger shall bc hot i' the mouth too." 
ll)rk«s. In days gone by, the church wake was an im- 
portant institution, and was ruade the occasion for a thorough 
holiday. Each church, when consecrated, was dedicated to a 
saint, and on the anniversary of that day vas kept the wake. 
In many places there was a second wakc on the birthday of 
the saint. At such seasons, the floor of the church xvas 
strev.-ed with rushes and flowers, and in the churchyard tents 
were erected, to supply cakes and ale for the use of the 
merrymakers on the following day, which was kept as a 
holiday. They are still kept up in man 3, parishes, but in a 
very different manner. ' In " King Lear" ,iii. 6), Edgar 
says : '" Corne, march to wakes and fairs, and market towns." 
\Ve may also compare " Love's Labour's Lost " (v. 2" and 
" \Vinter's Tale" (iv. 2). In " Hamlet ' (i. 4) it is used in 
the sense of revel. 

 See "British Popular Customs.," pp. 46, 469, 478, 480. 
= Sec Brand's "Pop. Antiq.," t849, vol. i. pp. 



CHAP'I'ER XII. 
BIRTI{ AND BAPTISM. 
AS every period of lnln-mn lire has its peculiar rites and 
cercmonies, its customs and superstitions, so has that ever 
all-evcntful hour which heralds the birth of a frcsh actor 
upon the world's grcat stage. From thc cradle to the grave, 
through ail the succcssiv'e epochs of man's existence, we find 
a series of traditional bcliefs and popular notions, which hav'e 
been handcd down to us ffoto the far-distant past. 
though, indeed, these have lost much of their meaning in the 
iapse of ycars, yct in many cases they are survivals of primi- 
tive culture, and cmbody the conceptions of thc ancestors 
of the human race. Many of these have been recorded by 
Shakespeare, who, acting upon the great principle of pl-c- 
senting his audience with matters familiar to them, has 
giv'en numerous illustrations of the manners and supersti- 
tions ofhis own country, as they existed in his dav. Thus, 
ill " Richard III." (iii. ), when he represents the Duke of 
Gloster saying, 
"So wise so young, they say, do never lire long," 
he alludes to the old superstition, still deeply rooted in the 
minds of the lower ordcrs, that a clever child never lires 
long. Ii1 Bright's " Treatise of Melancholy" ( 586, p. 
we read " " I lave knowne children languishing of the splene, 
obstructed and altered in temper, talke with grav'ity and 
wisdom surpassing those tender years, and their judgments 
carrying a marvellous imitation of the wisdome of the an- 
cient, having after a sort attained that by disease, which 
others have by course ofyeares : whereof I take it the proverb 
ariseth, that 'they be of shorte lire who are of wit so preg- 
nant.'" Therc are sundry superstitious notions relating to 



BIRTIt AND BAPTISM. 333 
the teething of children prevalent in our own and other 
countries. In "3 Ilenry VI." (v. 6), the Duke of Gloster, 
alluding to the peculiarities connected with his birth, relates 
hov 
"The midwife wonder'd ; and thê women criêd 
• O. Jesus bless us, he is born with teeth !' 
And so I was; which plainly signilied 
That I should snarl, and bite, and play the dog." 
It is still believed, for instance, in many places, that if a 
child's first tooth appears in the upper jaxv it is an omen of 
its dying in infancy; and whcn the tceth colne carly it is 
rcgalded as an indication that therc will soon bcanothcl- 
baby. In Sussex therc is a dislikc to throwing away the 
cast teeth of children, from a notion that, should they bc 
round and gnawed by anv animal, the child's llew tooth 
would be exactly likc the animal's that had bitten the old 
one. In Durham, whcn the first teeth corne out the cavi- 
ries must be filled with salt, and each tooth burned, while 
the following words are repeated : 
" Fire, tire. burn bone, 
God send me my tooth again." 
I11 the above passage, then, Shakespeare silnply makes 
thc Duke of Gloster refer to that extensive folk-lore asso- 
ciated with human birth, showing how careful an observer 
ho was in noticing the xxhims and oddities of his country- 
Ill t211. 
Again, olle of the fol'cmost dangers supposcd to hover 
round the new-born illfant was thc propensity of witches 
and fairies to steal the most beautiful and well-favored chil- 
dren, and to leave in their places such as were ugly and 
stupid. These werc usually called " changelings." Shake- 
speare alludes to this notion in "A Midsummcr-Night's 
Dream " (.il. I). where Puck says: 
"Because that she, as her attendant, hath 
A lovely boy, stol'n from an Indian king; 
She never had so sweet a changeling." 
And further on, in the same scene, Oberon says : 



334 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"I do but beg a little changeling boy, 
To be my henchman." 
As a fairy is, in each case, the speaker, the changeling in 
this case dcnotes the child taken by them. Go, too, in the 
" \Vinter's Talc " (iii. 3), in the passage where the Shepherd 
relates: "it was told me, I should be rich by the fairies; 
this is some changeling :--open't." As the child here found 
was a bcautiful onc, the changeling must naturally mean the 
child stolen by the fairies, especially as the gold left with it 
is conjecturcd to be fairy gold. The usual signification, 
howcver, of the terre c/aut,'clit is thus marked by Spcnser 
(" Fairy Qucen," I. x. 65): 
" From thence a faery thee unweeting reff, 
There as thou slepst in tender swadling band, 
And her base elfin brood there for thee left: 
Such men do chaungelings call, so chaunged by Iaeries theft." 
Occasionally fairies playcd pranks with new-born children 
by exchanging thcm. To this notion King Henry refers 
("  Henry IV." i. x) when, speaking of lIotspur compared 
with his own profligate son, he exclaims: 
"O that it could be prov'd 
That some night-tripping fairy had exchang'd 
In cradle-clothes our chlldren where they lay, 
And call'd mine Percy, his Plantagenet !" 
To induce the laMes to restore the stolen child, it was 
customary in Ireland either to put the one supposed of be- 
ing a changeling on a hot shovel, or to torinent it in some 
other way. It secms that, in Denmark, the mother heats 
the oven, and places the changeling on the peel, pretending 
to put it in, or whips it severely with a rod, or throws it 
into the water. In the Western Isles of Scotland idiots are 
supposed to be the fairies' changelings, and, in order to re- 
gain the lost child, parents have recourse to the following 
device. They place the changeling on the beach, below 
high-water mark, when the tide is out, and pay no heed to 
its screams, believing that the fairies, rather than surfer their 
offspring to be drmwed by the rising water, will convey it 



BIRTH AND BAPTISM. :.5 
away, and restore the child they had stolen. The sign that 
this has been done is the cessation of the child's screamin. 
The most effectual preservative, however, against fairy influ- 
ence, is supposed to bc baptism; and hcnce, among the su- 
perstitious, this rite is performed as sooa as possible. 
A forln of superstition vcry common in days gone by was 
the supposed influence of the " Evil eye," bcing designated 
by the terms "o'erlooked," " forelooked," or " eye-bitten," 
certain persons being thought to possess the power ofinflict- 
ing injury by merely looking on those whom they wished 
to harm. lZven the new-born child was hot exempt from 
this danger, and various charms were practised to avertit. 
In the " Merry \Vives of \Vindsor'" (v. 5), l'istol says of 
Falstaff: 

"Vile worm. thou wast o'erlook'd, even in thy birth." 
This piece of folk-lore may be traced back to the time of 
the Romans, and, in the late Professor Conington's trans- 
lation of the "Satires of l'ersius," it is thus spoken of: 
" Look here! a grandmother or a superstitious aunt has 
taken baby from his cradle, and is charming Iris forehead 
against mischief by the joint action ofher middle-finger and 
her purifying spittle; for she knows right well how to check 
the evil eye."' Is is again alluded to in the "Merchant 
of Venice" (iii. 2), where Portia, expressing to Bassanio her 
feelings of regard, declares : 
" Beshrew your eyes, 
They have o'erlook'd me. and divided me; 
One hall of me is yours, the other half yours ;" 
and in " Titus Andronicus" (il. ), Aaron speaks of Tamora 
as : 
" faster bound to Aaron's charming eyes 
Than is Prometheus tied to Caucasus." 
This superstition, however, is hOt yet obsolete, but lingers 
on in mally COUlltl'y places. 

' See Douce's" Illustrations of Shakespeare,'" p. 383 ; Brand's " Pop. 
Antiq.," 1849, vol. iii. pp. 44-46, 326. 



336 FOLK,LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
We may also comparc a similar phrase made use of by 
Cleopatra ("Antony and Cleopatra," iii. 7), in answer t.o 
Enobarbus : 
"Thou hast forspoke my being in these wars," 
the word fi;'c.a/« having anciently had thc lneaning of 
charm or bewitch, like forbid in " Macbeth" (i. 3): 
"He shall lire a man forbid." ' 
Among the numcrous customs associatcd with thc birth 
ofa child lnay be mentioned the practice of giving presents 
at the announccment of this ilnportant evcnt. In " Henry 
VIII." (v. I), on thc old lady's making known to the king 
the happy tidings of thc birth ofa princess, he says to Lovcll : 
"Give her an hundred marks, l'Il to the queen." 
Thc old lad)', howcver, rescnts what she considers a paltry 
SUlll : 
" An hundred marks ! By this light, I'll ha' more. 
An ordinary groom is for such payment. 
I will bave more, or scold it out of him." 
It was an ancient custom--one which is not quite out of 
use--for the sponsors at christenings to offcr silver or gilt 
spoons as a present to the child. These were called " apos- 
tle spoons,'" because the extrelnity ofthe handle was formed 
into the figure of one or othcr of the apostles. Such as 
were opulent and gencrous gave the whole twelve; those 
who werc moderately rich or libcral escaped at the cxpense 
of the four evangelists, or cven SOlnetimes contented theln- 
selves with pleseltilg one spoon only, which exhibited the 
figure of any saint, in honor of wholn the child received its 
naine. In " Henry VIII." (v. 2) it is in allusion to this cus- 
tom that, when Cranmer professes to be unworthy of being 
a sponsor to the young princess, Shal¢espeale lnakes the 
king repl.v • 
'See Napier's " Folk-Lore of West of Scotland," 1879, pp. 34-40; 
Keightley's " Fairy Mytholog-y ;" Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," I849, vol. iii. 
PP- 73, 74- 



BIRTtt AND ]3APTISM. 337 
'" Corne. corne, my lord, you'd spare your spoons." 
A story is related of Shakespeare promising spoons to 
one of Ben Jonson's children, in a collection of anecdotes 
entitled " Merry Passages and Jests," compiled by Sir Nich- 
olas L'Estrange (MSS. Harl. 6395): " Shakespcare was god- 
father to one of Ben Jonson's children, and after the christ'n- 
ing, being in a deepe study, Jonson came to cheere him up, 
and ask't him why he was so melancholy. ' No faith, Ben 
(sayes he), hot I ; but I have been considering a great while 
what should be the fittest gift for me to bestow upon rny 
godchild, and I bave lesolv'd at last.' ' I pr'y thce, what ?" 
sayes ho. ' I' faith, Bcn, l'le e'en give him a douzen good 
Latin spoones, and thou shalt translate thcm.'" "Shake- 
speare," says Mr. Tholns,' " willing to show his wit, if not 
lais wealth, gave a dozen spoons, not of silver, but of latten, 
a naine formerly used to signify a mixed metal rescmbling 
brass, as bcing the lnost appropriate gift to the child of a 
father so learned." In Middleton's " Chaste Maid of Chcap- 
side," I62O: 

"' ._ (Yossil. What has he given her ? What is it. gossip ? 
3 Gossii. A fair. high-standing cup, and two great 'postle spoons, 
one of them gilt." 
And Beaumont and Fletcher, in the "Noble Gcntleman" 
('. ): 
" l'il be a gossip, Beaufort, 
I have an odd apostle spoon." 
The gossip's feast, held in honor of those who were asso- 
ciated in the festivities of a christening, was a very ancient 
English custom, and is fi'equently mcntioned by dramatists 
of the Elizabethan age. The terre gossip or godsip, a Sax- 
on word signifying cognata ca" îarle d,'L or godmother, is 
well defined by Richard Verstegan, in lais " Restitution of 
Decayed Intelligence." He says : " Our Christian ancestors, 
undcrstanding a spiritual affinity to grow between the pa- 
rents and such as undertooke for the child at baptism, called 

a "Anecdotes and Traditions," 839, p. 3- 



338 

FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

each other by the naine ofodsib, which is as much as to say 
that they were sib together, that is, of d'ipz together through 
God. _And the childe, in like manner, called such his god- 
fathers or godmothers." 
As might be expected, itis often alluded to by Shake- 
speare. Thus, in the " Comedy of Errors " I,v. I), we read : 

".-lbbess. Thirty-three years bave I but gone in travail 
()f you, my sons : and till this present hour 
My heavy burthen ne'er delivered. 
The duke, my husband, and my children both, 
And you the calendars of their nativity, 
Go to a gossip's feast, and go with me ; ' 
A fter so long grief, such festivity ! 
/)»k«. With ail my heart l'Il gossip at this feast." 

And again, in "A lIidsummer-Night's Dream " (ii. ), the 
mischievous Puck says: 
"solnetlme lurk I in a gossip's bowl, 
In very likeness of a roasted crab ; 
And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob, 
And on ber wither'd dewlap pour the aie." 
And, once more, we find Capulet, in " Romeo and Juliet" 
(iii. 5), saying to the Nurse : 

" Peace, you mumbling fool ! 
Utter your gravity o'er a gossip's bowl ; 
For here we need it hOt." 

Rcferring to entcrtainments at christenings, we find the fol- 
lowing in the " Batchelor's Banquet," 6o3 (attributed to 
I)ekker): "What cost and trouble it will be to have all 
things fine against the Christening Day ; what store ofsugar, 
biskets, comphets, and caraways, marmalet, and marchpane, 
with all kinds of sweet-suckers and superfluous banqueting 
stuff, with a hundred other odd and needless trifles, which 
at that time must fill the pockets of dainty dames," by which 
it appears the ladies not only ate what they pleased, but 
pocketcd likewise. Upon this and the falling-off of the 
custom of giving "apostle spoons" at the christening, we 
read in " Shipman's Gossip," t666 : 



13IRTII AND 13APTISM. 

Especially since gossips now 
Eat more at christenings than bestow. 
Formerly when they us'd to troul 
Gilt bowls of sack, they gave the bowl ;. 
Two spoons at least ; an use iii kcpt ; 
'Tis wcll now if our own be leff." 

339 

Strype tells us that, in 1559, the SOli of Sir Thomas Chaln- 
berlayne was baptized at St. Benet's Church, Paul's \Vharf, 
when " the Çhurch v.as h.ung with cloth of arras, and after 
the christcning were brought wafers, COlllfits, and divers 
balqucting dishcs, and hypocras and Mtlscadine winc, to 
entcrtain the guests.- " 
In " IIenry VIII." (v. 4}, thc l'ortcr says: " Do you look 
for aie and cakes here, )'ou rudc rascals ?" 
A terre formcrly in use for thc namc given at baptism was 
"Christendom," an allusion to which we find in "All's Well 
that Ends \Vell" (i. ), where Hclena says: 

'" with a world 
Of pretty, fond. adoptious christendoms 
That blinking Cupid gossips," 
the meaning evidently being, a numbcr of pretty, fond, 
adopted appellations or Christian llames to which blind Cu- 
pid stands godfather. The expression is oftell used for bap- 
tism by old writers; and Singer' quotcs from " King John" 
(iv. ): 
" Bv my christendom, 
So I were out of prison, and kept sheep, 
I should be as merry as the day is long." 
Steevens observes that, iii the Puritanical timcs, it was 
usual to christen children with the names of moral and relig- 
ious virtues--a practice to which allusion seems to be madc 
in " The Tempest" (il. ) by Antonio : 
"Temperance was a delicate wench." 

So Taylor, thc \Vater-Poet, iii his description of a strumpet, 
says : 

' "Shakespeare," 875, vol. iv. p. 34- 



340 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
"Though bad they be, they will hot bate an ace, 
To be call'd Prudence, Temperance, Faith. or Grace." 
In days gone by a " chrisom " or " christom child " was 
one who had recently been baptized, and died within thc 
month of birth, the tcrm having originated in the "face- 
cloth, or picce of linon, put upon the head of a child newly 
baptizcd." Thc word was formed from thc chrism, that is, 
thc anointing, which formcd a part of baptism bcfore thc 
Rcformation. Thus, in "Hcnry V." (ii. 31, thc hostess, Mrs. 
Quickly, means "chrisom child'" in the following passage, 
where she speaks of Falstaff's death: "'A ruade a finer end, 
and wcnt away an it had been any christom child." In a 
bcautiful passage of Bishop Taylor's " Holy Dying" (chap. i. 
sec. 2), this custom is thus spoken of: " Every morning 
crecps out of a dark cloud, lcaving behind it an ignorance 
and silence dccp as midnight, and undiscerned as are the 
phantoms that ruade a chrisom child to stalle." Referring 
to the use of the chrisom-cloth in connection with baptism, 
it appears that, aftcr the usual immersion in water, the priest 
ruade a cross on the child's head with oil, after which thc 
chrisom was put on, the priest asking at the saine rime the 
infant's naine, and saying, '" Receive this white, pure, and 
holy vcstmcnt, which thou shalt wear belote the tribunal 
of out Lord Jesus Christ, that theu mayest inherit eternal 
lire. Amen." It was to be worn seven days; but after the 
Reformation, however, the use of oil was omitted, and the 
chrisom was worn by the child till the mother's churching, 
when it was returned to the church. If the child died be- 
fore the churching, it was buried in the chrisom, and hence 
it may be that the child itself was callcd a chrisom or chris- 
orner.' Thus, it will be seen that Dame Quicldy simply 
compares the manner of Falstaff's death to that of a young 
infant. In registers and biils of mortality we find infants 
alluded to under the tcrm "Chrisoms." t3urn, in lais " His- 

' Douce's" Illustrations of Shakespeare," 1859, pp. 299 , 30o; Nares's 
"" Glossary," vol. i. p. 6o; see Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 1849, vol. ii. pp. 
84, 85. 



]3IRTII AND ]3AI"TISM. 34 I 
tory of Parish Registers" (862, p. 273, gives the sub- 
joined entry ri-oto a register of \Vestminster _A_bbey : " The 
llincess _Ann's child a chrissome, bu. in ye vault, ()ct. 
687." 
In Graunt's " Bills of Mortality," cited in Johnson's Dic- 
tionary, we read: "When the convulsions were but few, 
the numbcr of chrisoms and infants was greater." The 
"bearing-cloth" was the mantle which generally covered 
the child when it was carried to the font. It is noticed in 
the " Winter's Talc" (iii. 3), by the Shcpherd, xvho, on thc 
discovery of l'erdita, says to the ClOWll: " tere's a sight 
for thee; look thee, a bearing-cloth for a squirc's child! 
Look thee here; take up, take up, boy; open't." In Stow's 
"Chronicle" (63, p. o39), we are told that about this 
time it was hot customary " for godfathers and godlnothcrs 
generally to give plate at the baptisme of children, but onl)" 
to give 'christening shirts,' with little bands and cuff.q, 
wrought either with silk or blue thread. The best of thcm, 
for chief persons, were edgcd with a small lace of black silk 
and gold, the highest price of which, for great men's chil- 
dren, was seldom above a noble, and the common sort, two, 
three, or four, and six shillings a piece." 



CHAPTER XIII. 
MARRIAGE. 
TIIE style of courtship which prevailed in Shakespeare's 
time, and the numerous customs associated with the mar- 
riage ceremony, may be accuratcly drawn from the many 
allusions interspcrsed through lais plays. From these, it 
would seem that thc modc of love-making was much the 
saine among all classes, offert lacking that polish and re- 
fined expression which are distinguishing characteristics 
nowadays. As Mr. Drake remarks,' the amatory dia- 
logues of Hamlet, IIotspur, and Itenry V. are hot more 
rcfined than those which occur betwcen Mastcr Fenton 
and Arme Pagc, in thc " Merry Wives of Windsor," be- 
tween Lorenzo and Jessica, in the " Merchant of Venice," 
and between Orlando and Rosalind, in "As You Likc It." 
Thcse last, which may be considered as instances taken 
from the middle class of lire, together with a few drawn 
from the lower tank of rural manners, such as the court- 
ship of Touchstone and Audrey, and of Silvius and Phoebe, 
in "As You Like It," are good illustrations of this subject, 
although it must be added that, in point of fancy, sentiment, 
and simplicity, the most pleasing lovc-scenes in Shake- 
spcarc are those of Romco and J uliet and of Florizel and 
Perdita. 
The ancient cercmony of b'trothing seems still to havc 
been in full use in hakespeare's da)-. Indeed, he gives us 
several interesting passages upon the subject of troth-plight. 
Thus, in " Measure for Measure" (iii. ), we learn that the 
unhappiness of the poor, dejected Mariana was caused by a 
violation of thc troth-plight : 

a "Shakespeare and His Times," 1817, vol. i. p. 2zo. 



MARRIAGE. 343 
• '/)uA.c. She should this Angelo have married : was affianced to ber 
by oath, and the mlptial appointed : between which time of the con- 
tract, and limit of the solemnity, her brother Frederick was wrecked 
at sea, having in that perished vessel the dowry of his sister. But 
mark how heavily this befell to the poor gentlewoman : there she lost 
a noble and renowned brother, in his love toward lier ever most kind 
and natural ; with him, the portion and sinew of her fortune, her mar- 
riage-dowry; with both, her combinate busband, this well-seeming 
Angelo. 
l«abellm Can this be so ? Did Angelo so leave her ? 
I)uA'«. Left ber in ber tears, and dried hot one of them with his coin- 
fort; swallowed his vows whole, pretending in her discoveries of dis- 
honour: in few. bestowed her on her own lamentation, which she yet 
wears for his sake ; and he, a marble to lier tears, fs washed witb them, 
but relents hOt." 

It fs evidcnt that Angclo and Mariana wcre bound by 
oath; the nuptial was appointcd; thcre was a prcscribed 
time between the contract and the performance of the so- 
lemnity of the Church. The lady-, however, having lost her 
dowry, the contract was violated by her " co,nbinate" or 
affianccd husband--the oath, no doubt, having becn ten- 
dered by a minister of the Church, in the presence of wit- 
nesses. In " Twelfth Night" l.iv. 3) we have a minute de- 
scription of such a ceremonial; for, when Olivia fs hastily 
espoused to Sebastian, she says: 

" Now go with me and with this holy man 
Into the chantry by : there, before him, 
And underneath that consecrated roof, 
Plight me the full assurance of your faith ; 
That my most jealous and too doubtful soul 
May lire at peace. He shall conceal it, 
Whiles you are willing it shall corne to note 
What time we will our celebration keep 
According to my birth." 

This, then, was a private ceremony before a single wit- 
ness, who would conceal it till the proper period of the 
public ceremonial. Olivia, fancying that she has thus es- 
poused the page, repeatedly calls him " husband ;" and, be- 
ing rejected, she summons the priest to declare (v. ) : 



344 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
"-chat thou dost know 
Hath newly pass'd between this youth and me." 
Thc priest answers: 
"A contract of eternal bond of love, 
Confirm'd by mutual joinder of your hands, 
Attested by the holy close of lips. 
Strengthen'd by interchangement of your rings ; 
And ail the ceremony of this compact 
Seal'd in my function, by my testimony : 
Since when. my watch bath told me, toward my grave 
I bave travell'd but two hours." 

Again, in thc " Winter's Tale" (iv. 4), which contains 
many a pcrfcct picture of real rustic lire, it appears that, 
occasionally, the troth-plight was exchanged without the 
presence of a priest; but that witnesses were essential to 
the ccremony : 

'" Flori:cL O, hear me breathe my lire 
Belote this ancient sir, who, it should seem, 
Hath sometime lov'd : I take thy hand, this hand, 
As sort as dove's down and as white as it, 
{r Ethiopian's tooth, or the fann'd show, that's bolted 
13y the northern blasts twice o'er. 
loli.reites. What follows this ? 
How prettily the young swain seems to wash 
The hand, was fait belote .--I bave put you out :- 
But, to your protestation ; let me hear 
What you profess. 
Flori:cl. Do, and be witness to 't. 
tolt'-rotes. And this my neighbour too ? 
Flori.Tcl. And he, and more 
Than he, and men ; the earth, the heavens, and all ; 
That, were I crown'd the most imperial rnonarch, 
Thereof most worthy ; were I the fairest youth 
That ever rnade eye swerve ; had force and knowledge 
More than was ever man's, I would hot prize them 
Without her love ; for ber cmploy them ail ; 
Commend them, and condemn thern, to ber scrvice, 
Or to their own perdition. 
9oli.reoetes. Fairly offer'd. 
Camillo. This shows a sound afiection. 



345 

Shh«rd. But. rny daughter, 
Say you the like to hirn ? 
P«rdil«. I cannot speak 
So well. nothing so well ; no. nor rnean better : 
lqy the pattern of mine own thoughts I cut out 
The purity of his. 
Sk,b«rd. Take hands, a bargain ! 
And, friends unknown, you shall bear witness to't : 
I give rny daughter to him, and will make 
Her portion equal his. t 
Florizd. O. that must be 
I' the virtue of your daughter : one being dead, 
I shall bave more than you can dream of yet ; 
Enough then for your wonder. But. corne on, 
Contract us 'fore these witnesses. 
5"h,fihcrd. Corne. your hand ; 
And. daughtcr, yours." 
To thc argument of Polixencs, that thc father of Florizel 
ought to know of his procecding, thc young man answers: 
"Corne, corne, he rnust not. 
Mark our contract." 
And then the father, discovering himsclf, exclaims: 
" Mark your divorce, young sir." 
Hcre, then, as Mr. Knight remarks," in thc publlcity of a 

 On entering into any contract, or plighting of troth, the clapping 
of the hands together set the seal. as in the '" Winter's Talc" (i. 2), 
xvhere Leontes says : 
" Ere I could rnake thee open thy white hand. 
And clap thyself rny love ; then didst thou utter 
I a m yottrs J'or-cr." 
So, too, in "The Ternpest "' (iii. 1) : 
" .l[ioe'trtdtt. lXly husband, then ? 
t:crditmtd. Av, with a heart as willing 
As bondage c'er of freedorn : here's my hand. 
Iiratda. And rnine, with rny heart in't." 
And in the old play of " Rarn Alley," by Barry (1611, we read, " Corne, 
clap hands, a match." The custom is hot yet disused in cornrnon lire. 
 "' The Stratford Shakespeare,"  854. vol. i. p. 7 o. 



346 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
village festival, the hand of the loved one is solemnly taken 
by ber lover, who brcathes lais love bcfore the ancient stran- 
ger who is accidentally present. The stranger is called to 
be a witness to the protestation, and so is thc ncighbor who 
has corne with him. The maiden is called upon by her fa- 
thcr to spcak, and thon the old man adds: 
"Take hands, a bargain 
Thc friends arc to bear witncss to it : 
"I give my daughter to him, and will make 
Hcr portion equal his." 
Thc impatient loyer thon again cxclaims: 
" Contract us 'fore these witnesses. ' 
The shephcrd takes the hands oftheyouth and the maiden. 
Again thc loyer cxclaims : 
" Mark our contract." 
The ccremony is leff incomplete, for the princely father 
discovers himself with : 
" Mark your divorce, young sir." 
It appears, thcrcfore, that espousals belote witnesses were 
considered as constituting a valid marriage, if followed up 
within alimited time by thc marriage ofthe Church. How- 
ever much the Reformcd Church might have endeavored to 
abrogate this practice, it was unquestionably the ancient 
habit of the people.' It was derived from the Roman law, 
and still prevails in the Lutheran Church. 
Besides exchanging kisses," accompanied with vows of 
cvcrlasting affection, and whispering loyers' reassurances of 
fidelity, it was customary to interchange rings. In Shake- 
speare's plays, howevcr, espousals are ruade with and without 
 Knight's " Stratford Shakespeare." p. 73- 
 Cf. " King John "' (il. 2) : 
"ICi t'kilip. Young princes, clese your hands. 
A«stria. And your lips too; for, I ara well assured, 
That I did so, when I was first assured." 



IARRIAGE. 347 
the use of the ring. Thus, in the case of Ferdinand and 
Miranda, we read of their joining hands only (" Tempest," 
iii. Ù : 
"F«rdz)taml. Ay, with a heart as willing 
As bondage e'er of freedom ; here's my hand. 
|[irrittta. And mine, with my heart in't ; and now farewell, 
Till hall an hour hence." 
In the passage already quoted from " Twelfth Niht" (v. 
there seems to have been a mutual interchange of rings. 
Some, indeed, considered that a betrothal was not com- 
plete unless each spouse gave the othcr a circlct. Lady 
Arme, in " Richard III." (i. 2), is madc to share in this mis- 
conception : 
'" Glost,'r. Vouchsafe to wear this ring. 
. tnne. To take, is not to give. 
Glosl«r. Look, how my ring encompasseth thy finger, 
Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart : 
Wear both of them, for both of them are thine." 
In " Two Gentlclnen of Vcl'ona" (il. 2) we read" 
" ulia. Keep this remembrance for thy Julia's sake 
t'rot«us. Why, then, we'll make exchange ; here, take }-ou this. 
jW«là. And seal the bargain with a holy kiss." 
A joint, or gimmal, ring was anciently a common token 
among loyers, an allusion to which is made by Emilia, in 
" Othello "' (iv. 3) : " I would hot do such a thing for a joint- 
mg. Their nature will be best undcrstood by a passage in 
Dryden's " Don Sebastian " (69o, act v.): 
"A curious artist wrought them, 
With joints so close, as hot to be percei»'d ; 
S'et are they both each other's counterpart, 
and in the midst, 
A heart, divided in two halves, was plac'd." 
They were generally ruade of two or three hoops, so chased 
and engraved that, when fastened together by a single rivet, 
the whole three formed one design, the usual device being 
a hand. \Vhcn an engagement was contracted, the ring was 



348 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
takcn apart, each spouse taking a division, and the third ont 
bcing prescnted to thc principal w[tness of" the contract.' 
Hence such a ring was known as a " Sponsalium Annul[s," 
to which Herrick thus rcfers: 
"Thou sent'st me a truc-love knot. but I 
Returned a ring of jimmals, to imply 
Thy love hath one knot, mine a triple tye." 
"l-hc tcrm is ttscd by thc I)uke of Anjou, in " I Henry VI." 
(i. 2) : 
" I think, by some odd gimmors or device, 
Their arms are set like clocks, still to strike on ; 
Else ne'er could they hold out so as they do." 
Again, in " I Ienry V." (iv. 2), Grandpré tells how, 
" in their pale dull mouths the gimmal bit 
Lies [oul with chew'd grass, still and motionless." 
Most readers of the " Merchant of Venice" remember 
the mirthful use which Shakespeare makes of loyers' rings. 
Portia says (iii. 23, xvhen giving her wealth and self to Bas- 
sall[O : 
"I give them with this ring ; 
Which when you part from. lose, or give away. 
Let it presage the ruin of your love." 
The last act, too, gives several particulars about loyers' rings, 
which, in Elizabethan Fngland, - often had posies engraved 
on them, and were worn by men on the left hand. Grati- 
ano, for example, says : 
"About a boop of gold. a paltry ring 
That she did give me ; whose posy was 
For all the world like cutlers' poetry 
Upon a knife, " Love me and leave me hot.'" 
Again Bassanio exclaims: 
"Why. I were best to cut my left hand off, 
And swear I lost the ring defending it." 

' See Nares's " Glossary," vol. il. p. 363; "Archoeologia,', vol. xiv. 
P. 7 ; Jones's " Finger Ring Lore," I877, pp. 33-38. 
 See Jeaffreson's " Brides and Bridals," 1873, vol. i. pp. 77, 78. 



MaP, RtACE. 349 
II "Taming of the Shrew" Shakespeare gives numerous 
allusions to the customs of his day connected with court- 
ship and marriage. Indeed, in the sccond act (sc. 2) we have 
a pcrfcct bctrothal scene : 

"' l¥1ruchio. Give me thy hand. Kate : I will unto Venice, 
To buy apparel 'gainst the wedding-day.-- 
Provide the feast, father, and bid the guests: 
I will be sure my Katharine shall be fine. 
Ikplisl«. I know hot what to say : but give me your hands; 
God send you joy, Petruchio ! "tis a match. 
Gr«mio. Tr«itio. Amen, say we; we will be witnesses. 
t,'lru«hio. Father, and wife, and gentlemen, adieu ; 
I will to Venice ; Sunday cornes apace. 
We will have rings, and things, and fine array : 
And, kiss me, Kate, we will be married o' Sundav." 

Although Katharina is only his spouse, and Baptista not 
)-et lais fathcr-in-law, Pctruchio, in accordance with fashion, 
calls ber " wifc" and hiln '" father." The spouses of old 
times used to terre one anothcr "husband" and "wife," 
for, as they argued, they wcre as good as husband and wife. 
Formcrly thcre was a kind of betrothal or marriage con- 
tract prcvalent among the low orders called "hand-fasting," 
or hand-fe, tma, said to have been intlch ill lise among 
the Dancs. and which is mcntioned by Ray in his"Glossary 
of Northulnbrian \Vords." It silnply means hand-fastelling 
or binding. In "Cymbeline" ll. 5) thc phrase is used in its 
secondary sense bv the Queen, who, speaking of Pisanio, 
declares that he is 
"A sly and constant knave, 
-. Not to be shak'd ; the agent for his toaster. 
And the remembrancer of her, to hold 
The hand-fast to ber lord." 

Iil the " Christian State of Matrimony,"  543, we find the 
following illustration of this custom: "Yet in this thing 
almost must I warn every reasonable and honest person to 
beware that in the contracting of marriage they dissemble 
not, nor set forth ail)" lie. Every man, likewise, must esteem 
the person to whom he is' handfasted ' none otherwise than 



350 FOLK-LORE OF StlAKESPEARE. 
for his own spouse; though as )-et it be hot done in the 
church, nor in the street. After the handfasting and making 
of thc contract, the church-going and wedding should hot 
be dcferred too long." The author then goes on to rcbuke 
a custom "that at the handfasting therc is ruade a great 
feast and superfluous banquet." Sir John Sinclair, in the 
"Statistical Account of Scotland "(794, vol. xii. p. 6 5/, tells 
us that at a fitir annually hcld at Eskdalemuil-, Dumfries- 
shire, "it was the custom for the unmarried persons of both 
sexes to choose a companion according to their liking, with 
whom thcy wcre to live till that rime next year. This was 
called 'handfasting,' or hand-in-fist. If thcy were pleased 
with cach othcr at that time then they continued together 
for lire; if hot, they separated, and were free to make an- 
other choice as at the first." 
Shakespeare has given us numerous illustrations of the 
marriage customs of out forefathers, many of which are 
interesting as relics of the past, owing to their having long 
ago fallen into disuse. The fashion of introducing a bowl 
of wine into the church at a wedding, which is alluded to 
in the " Tanqing of the Shrew" (iii. 2), to be drunk by the 
bride and bridegroom and persons present, immediately 
after the marriage ceremony, is very ancient. Gremio re- 
lates how Petruchio 
"stamp'd and swore, 
As if the vicar meant to cozen him. 
But after many ceremonies done, 
He calls for wine :--' A health !' quoth he, as if 
He had been aboard, carousing to his mates 
After a storm :--quafl"d off the muscadel, 
And threw the sops  ail in the sexton's face ; 
Having no other reason 
But that his beard grev thin and hungerly. 
And seem'd to ask him sops as he was drinking." 
It existed even among our Gothic ancestors, and is me- 
tioned in the ordinances of the household of Henry VII., 
" Foi- the Marriage of a Princess :--' Then pottes of ipocrice 

 Sops in wine. 



MARRIAGE. 3 5 I 
to be ready, and to be put into cupps with soppe, and to be 
borne to the estates, and to takc a soppe and drinke.'" It 
was also practised at the magnificent marriage of Queen 
Mary and Philip, in Winchcstcr Cathcdral, and at the mar- 
riage of thc Elcctor Palatine to the daughter of Jamcs I., in 
I612-I3. Indeed, it appears to have been the practice at 
most marriages. In Jonson's" Magnctic Lady" it is called 
a " knitting cup ;" in Middleton's" No Wit like a Woman's," 
the " contracting cup." In Robert Armin's comedy of" Thc 
History of the Two Maids of More Clackc," 9, thc play 
begins with : 
3laid. Strew, strew. 
A[azz. The muscadine stays for the bride at church : 
The priest and Hymen's ceremonies tend 
To make them man and wife." 
Again, in Bcaumont and Fletcher's " Scornful Lady" (i. ), 
the custom is referred to: 1 
'" If my wedding-smock were on, 
Were the gloves bought and given, the license corne, 
Were the rosema W branches dipp'd, and ail 
The hippocras and cakes eat and drunk off." 
g find it enjoined in the Hereford missal. By the Sature 
missal it is directed that the sops immersed in this wine, as 
well as the liquor itself, and the cup that contained it, should 
be blcssed by the priest. The beverage used on this occa.- 
sion was to be drunk by the bride and bridcgroom and the 
rest of the company. 
The nuptial kiss in the church was anciently part of the 
marriage ceremony, as appears ri'oto a rubric in one of the 
Salisbury missals. In the " Taming of the Shrew," Shake- 
spcare bas ruade an excellent use of this custo,n, where he 
relates how Petruchio (iii. 2) 
'" took the bride about the neck 
And kiss'd her lips with such a clamorous smack 
That, at the parting, all the church did echo." 

1 See " Brand's Pop. Antiq.," I849 , VO!. ii. pp. I36, I39. 



352 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Again, in " Richard II." (v. ), where the Duke of Nor- 
thumberland announces to the king that he is to be sent to 
Pomfret, and his wife to be banished to France, the king 
exclaims : 
"Doubly divorc'd !--Bad men, ye violate 
A twofold marriage.--'twixt my crown and me. 
And then, betwixt me and my married wife.-- 
Let me unkiss the oath "twixt thee and me ; 
And yet hot so, for with a kiss 'twas ruade." 
Marston, too, iii his " Insatiate Cotllltess," mentions it : 
"The kisse thou gav'st me in the church, here take." 
The practice is still kcpt up among the poor ; and Brand  
says it is " still customary alnong pcrsons of middling rank 
as well as the vulgar, in most parts of Enland, for the 
youl lcn prescrit at the marriage cercmony to salute the 
bride, one by one, the moment it is concluded." 
Music was thc universal accompaniment of weddings in 
oldcn rimes? The allusions to wedding music that may be 
found in the works of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and other 
Elizabethan dramatists, testify, as Mr. Jeaffreson points out, 
that, in the opinion of thcir contcmporarics, a wedding with- 
out the brayin of trumpets and beating ofdrums and clash- 
ing of cymbals was a poor affair. In "As You Like It" 
(v. 4"), Hymen says : 
"Whiles a wedlock-hymn we sing." 
And in " Romco and Juliet" (iv. 5],Capulet savs: 
" Our wedding cheer, to a sad burial feast ; 
Our solemn hymns to sullen dirges change." 
It seems to bave bcen customary for the bride at her 
wedding to wear her hair unbraided and hanging loose over 
her shoulders. There may be an allusion to this custom in 
" King John" (iii. ), where Constance says: 

 " Pop. Antiq.," vol. ii. p. 4o. 
 "Brides and Bridals," 873, vol. i. p. _-a. 



,I ARRIAGE. 353 
"O Le,vis, stand fast ! the devil tempts thee here 
In likeness of a nev untrimmed bride." 
At the celcbration of her marriage with the Palatine, Eliza- 
bcth Stuart wore " her hair dishevelled and hanging down 
her shoulders." IIeywood speaks of this practice in the 
following graphic words : 
"At length the blushing bride cornes, with her hair 
Dishevelled 'bout ber shoulders." 
It has been suggcstcd that the bridc's veil, which of late 
years has becomc one of thc most conspicuous fcaturcs of 
her costumc, may bc nothing more than a millincr's sub.ti- 
tute, which in old time concealed hot a fcw of the bride's 
personal attractions, and covercd hcr face whcn shc knclt at 
thc altar. Mr. Jcafferson  thinks it mav be ascribcd to the 
Hebrew ceremony; or has corne from the East, where veils 
have been worn from time immemorial. Some, again, con- 
nect it with the yellmv veil wbich was worn by the Roman 
brides. Strange, too, as i may appcar, it is neverthelcss 
certain that knives and daggers werc formerl¥ part of the 
customar¥ accoutrements of bridcs. Thus, Shakespeare, in 
the old quarto, 1597, makes Juliet wear a knife at the friar's 
cell, and when she is about to take the potion. This custom, 
however, is easily accounted for, when we considcr that 
wolllen anciently worc a knife suspcnded from their girdle. 
Many allusions to this practice occur in old writers., In 
Dekker's " Match Me in London," 163 I, a bride says to her 
jealous husband : 
"See, at my girdle hang n,_y wedding knives ! 
With those dispatch me." 
In the " \Vitch of Edmonton," 1658, Somerton says: 
"But see, the bridegroom and bride corne ; the new 
Pair of Sheffield knives fitted both to one sheath." 
Among other wedding customs alluded to by Shakespeare 

 " Brides and Bridals," vol. i. p. 177. 
' See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 1849, vol. ii. pp. 13I-I33. 
23 



354 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
we ma)' mention one referred to in" Taming ofthe Shrew " 
(ii. l),whcre Katharina, speaking of Bianca, says to her father : 
"She is your treasure, shc must bave a husband : 
I must dance bare-foot on her wcdding-day, 
And. for your love to hcr. lead apes in hcli," 
it being a popular notion that unlcss the elder sistcrs danccd 
barcfoot at the marriage of a ),ounger one, thcy would in- 
cvitably become old maids, and be condemncd " to Icad 
apes in hcll." The expression " to lead apes in hell," ap- 
plied above to old maids, has givcn fise to much discussion. 
and thc phrasc bas hot yet been satisfactorily explaincd. 
Stcevens suggcsts that it lnight bc considcrcd an act of 
posthumous retribution for wonlcll who refused to bear chil- 
dren to be condemned to the care of apes in leading-strings 
after death. Malone says that "to lead apes" was in 
Shakespcare's time one of the employments of a bear-ward, 
who often carried about one of these animais with his bear. 
Nares explains thc expression by reference to the word ape 
as denoting a fool, it probably meaning that those coquettes 
who ruade fools of men, and led thcna about without real 
intention of marriage, would have them still to lead against 
their will hereafter. I11 " lIuch Ado About BIothing" (il. I), 
Beatrice says: "therefore I will even take sixpence in ear- 
nest of the bear-ward, and lead his apes into hell." /)ouce 1 
tells us that homicides and adulterers were in ancient times 
compelled, by way of punishlnelat, to lead an ape by the 
neck, with their mouths affixed in a very unseemly manner 
to the animal's tail. 
In accordance with an old custoln, the bride, on the wed- 
dilg-night, had to dance with every guest, and play the 
amiable, however much against her own wishes. I11 " Henry 
VIII." (v. e), there seems fo be an allusion to this practice, 
where the king says: 
" I had thought, 
They had parted so much honesty among them, 
At least, good manners, as hot thus to sutïer 
A man of his place, and so near our favour, 
To dance attendance on their lordships" pleasures. » 
 " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. 203. 



MAP, RIAGE. 355 
In the "Christian State of Matrimony" (1543) we read 
thus: " Then must the poor brydc kcpe foote with a daun- 
cors, and refuse none, how scabbcd, foule, droncken, rude, 
and shalnelcss soever he bc." 
As in out own rime, so, too, formcrly, flowers entcrcd 
largely into the marriage festivities. Most 1-eaders will at 
once call to mind that touching scene in " Romeo and Juli- 
et " (iv. 5), where Capulct says, referring to Juliet's supposed 
untimely death : 
"Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corse." 
It seems, too, in days gone by to have been customary to 
deck the bridal bcd with flowers, various illusions to which 
are given by Shakespeare. Thus, iii " I lamlet" (v. I), the 
queen, speaking of poor Ophelia, says : 
'" I hop'd thou should'st bave been my Hamlet's wife ; 
I thought thy bride-bed to bave deck'd, sweet maid." 
In "The Tempest" (iv. ) wc may compare the words of 
Prospero, who, alluding to the lnarriage of his daughter 
Miranda with Ferdinand, by way of warning, cautions them 
lest 
"barren hate. 
Sour-ey'd disdain and discord shall bestrew 
The union of your bed with weeds so loathly 
That you shall hate it both." 
In the Papal timcs no new-married couple could go to 
bed together till the bridal-bed had been blessed--this being 
considered one of the most important of the marriage cere- 
monies. " On the evening of the wedding-day," says Mr. 
Jeaffreson,' "when the married couple sat in state in thc 
bridal-bed, before the exclusion of the guests, who asscmbled 
to commend thcm yet again to Heavcn's keeping, one or 
more priests, attended by acolytes swinging to and fio 
lighted censers, appeared in the crowded chamber to bless 
the couch, its occupants, and the truckle-bed, and fmmgate 

' " Brides and Bridals," vol. i. p. 9 8 ; see Brand's "Pop. Antiq.," vol. 
il. p. 



356 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
the room with hallowing iucense." In 
Night's Dream" I,v. I), Obcrou says : 
" Now. until the break of day, 
Through this house each Iairy stray. 
To the best bride-bed wi!l we, 
VChich by us shall blessed be ; 
And the issue there create 
Ever shall be fortunate." 

Midsummer- 

Steevens, in illustration of this custom, quotes flore Chau- 
cer's "The Merchant's Tale" (ed. Tyrwhitt), line 9693 : 
" And when the bed was with the preest yblessed." 
Thc formula for this curious cercmony is thus given in the 
Manual for the use of Salisbury: "Noctc vcro sequente 
cure sponsus et sponsa ad lecture pervenerint, accedat sa- 
cerdos et benedicat thalamum, dicens. Benedic, Domine, 
thalamum istum et omncs habitantcs in co; ut in tua pace 
consistant, et in tua vohmtate permaneant : et in tuo amore 
viwmt et senescaut et multiplicentur in longitudine dierum. 
Per I)ominum.--Item benedictio super lecture. Beuedic, 
Domine, hoc cubiculum, respice, quinon dormis neque dor- 
mitas. Qui custodis Israel, custodi famulos tuos in hoc lecto 
quiescentes ab omnibus fautasmaticis demonum illusionibus. 
Custodi eos vigilautcs ut in preceptis tuis meditentur dor- 
mientcs, et te per soporem sentiant; ut hic et ubique de- 
pensionis tu,'e muniantur auxilio. Per Domiuum.--Deinde 
fiat beuedictio super eos in lecto tantum cure oremus. Be- 
nedicat Deus corpora vestra et animas vestras; et det super 
eos benedictionem sicut beuedixit Abraham, Isaac, et Jacob, 
Amen. Itis peractis aspergat eos aqua benedicta, et sic dis- 
ccdat et dimittat eos in pace."' 
In the French romance of Melusine, the bishop who mar- 
ries hcr to Raymondin blesses the nuptial-bed. The cere- 
mony is there presented in a very ancient eut. of which 
Douce has given a copy. The good prelate is sprinkling 
the parties with holy water. It appears that, occasionally, 

' See Douce's "Illustrations of Shakespeare" pp. i23, 24. 



MARRIAGE. 357 
during the benediction, the marricd couple only sat on thc 
bed: but they generally receivcd a portion of the con.c- 
cratcd bread and wine. It is rccordcd in France, that, on 
frequcnt occasions, the pricst was improperly dctaincd till 
midnight, while the wedding guests rioted in the luxuries 
of the table, and ruade use of languagc that was extremely 
offensive to the clergy. It was tbcrcfore ordained, in the 
year 577, that the ccremony of blcssing the nuptial-bcd 
should for the future bc performed in the day-time, or at 
lcast beforc supper, and in the prcsence of the bride and 
bridegroom, and of their nearest relations onlv. 
On the morning aftcr tbe cclcbration of the marriage, it 
was formerly customary for friends to sercnade a ncwly mar- 
ried couple, or to greet thcm with a morning song to bid 
thcm good-morrow. Ia '" Otbcllo" (iii. ) this custom is re- 
ferrcd to by Cassio,who, speaking of Othcllo and Desdcmona, 
says to the musicians: 
" Masters. play here ; I will content your pains : 
Something that's bricf ; and bid, ' Good morrow, general.'" 
According to Cotgrave, the morning-song to a newly mar- 
ried woman was called the " hunt's up." It has bcen sug- 
gested that this may be alluded to by Juliet (.iii. 5}, who, 
when urging Romco to make his escape, tells him: 
"Some say the lark and loathed toad chane eyes ; 
O. now I would they had chang'd voices too! 
Since arm from arm that voice doth us affray, 
Hunting thee hence with hunt's-up to the day. 
O. now be gone." 
In olden times torches were used at weddings--a practice, 
indeed, datingas far back as the time of the Romans. From 
the following lines in Herrick's " Hesperides," it has been 
suggested that the custom once existed in this country: 
"  "fiat a maid t/t.at d3,'d lke tt, ç' S/te ,as marri'cci. 
"That morne which saw me ruade a bride. 
The ev'ning witnest that I dy'd. 
Those holy lights, wberewith they guide 
Unto the bed the bashful bride, 



358 

FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

Serv'd but as tapers for to burne 
And light my reliques to their urne. 
This epitaph which here you see, 
Supply'd the Epithalamie. ''1 
Shakespeare alludcs to this custom in "  Henry VI." (iii. 
where Joan of Arc, thrusting out a burning torch on the top 
of the tower at Rotmn, exclaims: 
"Behold, this is the happy wedding torch, 
That joineth Rouen unto ber countrymen." 
In " The Tcmpcst," tco (iv. ), Iris says : 
"no bed-right shall be paid 
Till t lymen's torch be lighted." 
According to a Roman marriage custom, the bride, on ber 
cntry into hcr husband's bouse, was prohibited from treading 
over lais threshold, and lest she should even so much as 
touch it, she was always liftcd over it. Shakespeare seems 
inadvertently to bave overlooked this usage in " Coriolanus" 
(iv. 5), where he represents Aufidius as saying : 
" I lov'd the maid I married : never man 
Sigh'd truer breath ; but that I see thee here, 
Thou noble thing! more dances my rapt heart, 
Than when I lirst my wedded mistress saw 
13estride my threshold." 
Lucan in lais " Pharsalia" (,lib. il. 1. 3593, says : 
"Translata vetuit contingere limina planta." 
Once more, Sunday appears to have been a popular day 
for marriages; the brides of the Elizabethan dramas being 
usually rcpresented as married on Sundays. In the "Tam- 
ing of the Shrcw" (il. I), l'ctruchio, after telling lais future 
father-in-law " that upon Sunday is the vedding-day," and 
laughing at Katharina's petulant exclamation, " I'll see thce 
hanged on Sunday first," says: 
" Father, and wife, and gentlemen, adieu ; 
I will to Venice ; Sunday cornes apace :-- 
We will bave rings, and things, and fine array ; 
And, kiss me. Kate. we will be married o' Sunday." 

 See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 849, vol. ii. p. 59. 



MARRIAGE. 359 
Thus Mr. Jeaffreson, speaking of this custom in lais" Brides 
and Bridals," rightly remarks: "A fashionable xvedding, 
celebrated on the Lord's Day in London, or any part of 
England, would nowadays be denounced by religious pcoplc 
of all Christian parties. But in our feudal times, and long 
after thc Reformation, Sunday was of all days of the week 
the faxrorite one for marriages. Long after thc theatres had 
been closed on Sundays, the day of rest was the chief dav 
for weddings with Londouers of every social class." 
Love-charms have from the earliest times becn much in 
request among the credulous, anxious to gain an insizht into 
their matrimonial prospects.' In the " Mcrchant of Venice" 
(v. I), we have an allusion to the practice of kneeling and 
praying at wayside crosses for a happy marriagc, in the pas- 
sage where Stephano tells how lais mistress 

"doth stray about 
By holy crosses, where she kneels and prays 
For happy wedlock hours." 

The use of love-potions by a despaMng loyer, to secure 
the affections of another, was a superstitious practice much 
resorted to in olden times. = This mode ofenchantment, too, 
vas formerly often employed in out own country, and Gay, 
in lais " Shepherd's \Veek," relates how Hobnelia was guilty 
of this qucstionablc practice : 
"As I was wont. I trudged, last mrket-day, 
To town with new-laid e«se,, . preserved in hay. 
I ruade my market long before 'twas night ; 
My purse grew heavy, and my basket light. 
Straight to the 'pothecary's shop I vent. 
And in love-powder all my money spent. 
Behap what will. next Sunday after prayers, 
"When to the aie-bouse Lubberkin repairs, 
These golden files into his mug I'II throw. 
And soon the swain with fervent love shall glow." 

 See " Merry Wives of Windsor," iv. e. 
 See Potter's "Antiquities of Greece ;" Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," vol. 
iii. p. 306. 



360 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Ill the " Character of a Quack Astrologer," 673, quoted 
by Brand, we are told how " he trappans a young heiress to 
rull away with a footman, by persuading a yotlllg girl 'tis her 
dcstiny ; aud sells the old and ugly philtres and love-powder 
to procure thcln sweethearts." Shakespeare has rcpresented 
Othcllo as accused of winning Dcsdemona " by conjuration 
and mighty lnagic." Thus Brabantio (i. 2) says: 
"thou hast practised on ber with foul charms; 
Abts'd her delicate youth with drugs, or minerals, 
That weaken motion." 
_/tlld in the following SCelle he further repeats the saine 
charge against Othcllo : 
"She is abus'd, stol'n from me. and corrupted 
By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks ; 
For nature so preposterously to err. 
Being hot deficient, blind, or lame of sense, 
Sans witchcraft could hOt." 
Othello, however, in proving that he had won Desdemona 
only by honorable means, addressing the Duke, replies : 
"by your gracious patience, 
I will a round unvarnish'd talc deliver 
Of my whole course of love ; what drugs, what charms. 
What conjuration, and what mighty magie,- 
For such proceeding I am charg'd withal,-- 
I won his daughter." 
It may have escaped the poet's notice that, by the Vene- 
tian law, the giving love-potions was held highly criminal, as 
appears iii the code " Dclla Prolnission del Malefico," cap. 
xvii., " Del Maleficii et Herbarie." 
A further allusion to this practice occurs iii " : Midsum- 
lner-Night's Dream " (il. ), where Puck and Oberon amuse 
thelnselves at Titania's expense.' 
An expression COl'ni'non in Shakespeare's da), for any one 
borll out of wedlock is mentioned by the Bastard in " King 
Jolm" (i. I): 
" In at the window, or else o'er the hatch." 

* See page 227. 



MARRIAGE. 36 t 
The old saying also that " Hanging. and wiving b«o by des- 
tiny" is quoted by Neris.qa in the " Merchant of Venice" 
(.il. 9)- In " Much _Ado About Nothing" (il. 1, Don Pedro 
makes use of an old popular phra.qe in asking Claudio : "\Vhen 
mean )-ou to go to church ?" rcferring to his marriage. 
A. solemn and even mclanchol)" air was often affected by 
the beaux of Queen Elizabeth's time, as a rcfined mark of 
gentility, a most sad and pathetic allusion to which custom 
is ruade by Arthur in " King John " I, iv. ) : 
o " Methinks. nobody should be sad but I : 
Yet. I remember, when I was in France, 
Youn gentlemen would be as sad as night. 
Only for wantonness."  
There are frequent refercnces to this fashion in our old 
writers. Thus, in Bcn Jonson's" Every Man in ttis I[umor'" 
(i. 3), we read : " \Vhy, I do think of it" and I will be more 
proud, and melancholy, and gentlemanlike than I have been, 
I'1l insure )'ou." 

 See Nares's "Glossary,'" vol. ii. p. 563 . 



CHAPTER XIV. 
DFATH AND BURIAL. 
FIoM a very early period there has been a belief in the 
existence of a power of prophecy at that period which pre- 
cedes dcath. It took its origin in the assumed fact that the 
soul becomcs divine in the saine ratio as its connection with 
thc body is looscned. It has been urged in support of this 
thcory that at the hour of dcath the soul is, as it were, on 
the confines of two worlds, and may possibly at the saine 
moment possess a power which is both prospective and ret- 
rospective. Shakespeare, in " Richard II." (il. ), makes the 
dying Gaunt exclaim, alluding to his ncphew, the young and 
self-willcd king : 
" Methinks I am a prophet new inspir'd, 
And thus, expiring, do foretell of him." 
Again, the brave Percy, in " I I Ienry IV." (v. 4, when in 
the agonies of death, expresses the saine idea: 
" O. I could prophesy, 
But that the earthy and cold hand of death 
Lies on my tongue." 
We may also compare what Nerissa says of Portia's father 
in " Merchant of Venice '" (i. 2), "Your father was ever vir- 
tuous ; and holy men, at their death, have good inspirations." 
Curious to say, this notion may be traced up to the time 
of Homer. Thus Patroclus prophesies the death of Hector 
(" lliad," r. 85:5: "You yourselfare hOt destined to lire long, 
for even now death is drawing nigh unto you, and a violent 
fate awaits you--about to be slain in fight by the hands of 
Achilles." Aristotle tells us that the soul, when on the point 
of death, foretells things about to happen. Others have 
sought for thc foundation of this belief in the 49th chapter 



DEATI AND 13URIAL. 363 
of Genesis: "And Jacob called unto lais sons, and said, 
Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which 
shall befall )-ou in the last days .... And when Jacob had ruade 
an end of commanding lais sons, he gathcred up lais feet into 
the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto lais 
people." Whether, however, we accept this origin or hot, 
at any rate it is very certain that the notion in question has 
existed from the earliest times, being alluded to also by 
$ocrates, Xenophon, and Diodorus Siculus. It still lingers 
on in Lancashire and othcr parts of England. 
Among other olllells of death may be mentioned high 
spirits, which bave been supposed to presage impending 
death. Thus, in " Romeo and Juliet" (v. 3), Romeo ex- 
claires : 
" How oit, when men are at the point of death, 
Have they been merry ! which their keepers call 
A lightning before death. " 
This idea is noticed bv Ray-, who inserts it as a proverb, 
" It's a lightening before death;" and adds this note: " This 
is generally observed of sick persons, that a little before they 
die thcir pains leave them, and their understanding and 
memory return to them--as a candle just belote it goes out 
gives a great blaze." It was also a superstitious notion that 
unusual mirth was a forerunner of adversity. Thus, in the 
last act of'" Romeo and J uliet" (sc. ), Romeo cornes on, 
saying : 
" If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep, 
My dreams presage some joyful news at hand : 
My bosom's lord sits lightly in his throne ; 
And ail this day an unaccustom'd spirit 
LiIts me above the ground with cheerful thoughts." 
Immediately, however, a messenger enters to announce 
J uliet's death. 
In " Richard III." (iii. 2), Hastings is represented as rising 
in the morning in unusually high spirits. Stanley says: 
"The lords at Pomfret, when they rode from London, 
V'ere jocund, and suppos'd their state was sure, 



364 FOLK-LORE OF SttAKESPEARE. 
And they, indeed, had no cause to mistrust : 
But yet. you see. how soon the day o'ercast." 
This idea, it may be noted, rtms throughout thc whole scene. 
Bcfore dinner-time, Hastings was beheaded. 
Once more, in "e Henry IV." (iv. ci, the saine notion is 
alluded to in thc following dialogue: 
" H'cstmorclamt. Health to my lord and gentle cousin. Mowbray. 
3[owl)r«y. You wish me health in very happy season ; 
For I anl, on the sudden, somcthing iii. 
. Irdaish,,. Against ill chances men are ever merry ; 
But heaviness foreruns the good event. 
ll'sl**wr«l«mt. Therefore be merry, coz: since sudden sorrow 
Serres to say thus, ' Some good thing cornes to-morrow.' 
. Irc/zbis/«,,fi. Helieve me. I ana passing light in spirit. 
3[awl)ra3,. So much the worse, if your own rule be truc." 
Ty'tlcr, in his '" lIistory of Scotland," thus speaks of the 
death of King James I.:" On this fatal evening (Fcb. 20, 
437), the revels of the court were kept up to a late hour. 
The prince himself appcars to have been in unusually gay 
and cheerful spirits, t[e even jested, ifwe may believc the 
contemporary manuscript, about a prophecy which had 
declared that a king that year should be slain." Shelley 
strongly entertained this superstition : " During all the rime 
he spent in Leghorn, he was in brilliant spirits, to hiln a sure 
prognostic of coming eql." 
Again, it is a very common opinion that death announces 
its approach by certaip_ mysterious noises, a notion, indeed, 
which may be traced up to the rime of the Romans, who 
believed tlmt the genius of death announced his approach 
by some supernatural warning. I11 " Troilus and Cressida" 
(.i-. 4), Troilus says: 
" Hark ! you are call'd : some say. the Genius so 
Cries ' Corne !' to him that instantly rnust die." 
This superstition was fl'equently ruade use of by writers of 
bygone rimes, and often served to embellish, with touch- 
ing pathos, their poetic sentiment. Thus Flatman, in some 
pretty lines, has embodied this thought : 



I)EATH AND ]3URIAL. 

365 

"My soul. just nmv about to take her flight, 
Into the regions of etcrnal night. 
Methinks I hear some gentle spirit say, 
Be hot fearful, corne away." 
Pope speaks in the samc strain : 
" Hark ! they whisper, angels say, 
Sistcr spirit, corne away." 
Shakespeare, too, furthcr alludes to this idca in "Macbeth" 
(ii. 3), where, it may be rcmembcrcd, Lennox graphical!y 
describcs how, on the awful night in which Duncan is so 
basely murdcred : 
" Our chimneys were blown down ; and. as they say, 
Lamentings heard i' the air ; strange screams of death ; 
And prophesying, with accents terrible. 
()f dire combustion, and confus'd events, 
New hatch'd to the woful time." 
As in Shakespeare's da3-, so, too, at the prcsent rime, there 
is perhaps no superstition so deeply rooted in thc minds of 
many people as the belief in what are popularly termcd 
"death-warnings." Modern folk-lorc holds eithcr that a 
knocking or rumbling in thc floor is an omen of a death 
about to happen, or that dying persons thcmselves announce 
their dissolution to their fi-iends in such strange SOulads.' 
Many families are supposed to have particular warnings, 
such as the appearance of a bird, the figure ofa tall woman, 
etc. Such, moreover, are hot confined to our own country, 
but in a varicty of forms arc found on the Continent. _Ac- 
cording to another belief, it was generally supposed that 
when a man was on his death-bed the devil or lais agents 
tried to seize lais soul, if it should happen that he died with- 
out receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist, or without 
confessing lais sins. Hence, in "2 Henry VI." (iii. 3), the 
king says : 
"O. beat away the busy meddling fiend 
That lays strong siege unto this wretch's soul, 
And from his bosom purge this black despair." 

' Tylor's "Primitive Culture," 873, vol. i. p. 45. 



36 6 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
In the old Office books of the Church, these " busy med- 
dling fiends" are often represented with great anxiety be- 
sieging the dying man; but on the approach of the priest 
and his attendants, thcy are shown to display symptoms 
ofdespair at thcir impcnding discomfiturc. Douce' quotes 
ff-oto an ancient manuscript book of devotion, written in the 
reign of Ilenry VI., the following prayer to St. George: 
"Judge for me whan the lnoste hedyous and damnable 
dragons of hcllc shall be rcdy to take my poore soule and 
engloutc it in to thcyr infcrnall belyes." 
Some think that the " passing-bell," which was formerly 
tollcd for a person who was dying, was intended to drive 
away thc evil spirit that might bc hovering about to seize 
the soul of thc deccased. Its objcct, howevcr, was probably 
to bespeak the prayers of the faithfld, and to serve as a sol- 
cran warning to the living. Shakespeare has given several 
touching allusions toit. Thus, in Sonnet lxxi. he says: 

"No longer mourn for me when I ara dead, 
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell 
Give warning to the world that I ara fled 
From this vile world." 

II1 " 2 Henry IV." (i. I), Northumberland speaks hl the saine 
strain : 
"Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news 
Hath but a losing office : and his tongue 
Sounds ever after as a sullen bell. 
Remember'd knolling a departing friend." 

\Ve may quote a further allusion in " VellUS and Adonis" 
(1.7o) : 
"And now his grief mav be compared well 
To one sore sick that hears the passing-bell." 

Ill a statute passed during the reign of Henry \'III., it is 
ordered " that clarks are to ring no more than the passing 
bell for poare people, nor less for an honest householder, 
and he be a citizen ; nor for children, maydes, journeymcn, 

 '" Illustrations of Shakespeare," 829, pp. 324-3-'6. 



DEATH AND BURIAL. 367 
apprentices, day-labourers, or any other poare person." In 
1662, the Bishop of Worcestcr I asks, iii his visitation charge : 
" Doth the parish clerk or sexton take care to admonish thc 
living, by tolling of a passing-bell, of any that arc dying, 
thcreby to meditate of their own deaths, and to commend 
the othcr's weak condition to thc mercy of God?" It was, 
also, called the "soul-bcll," upon which Bishop Hall rcmarks : 
" \Ve call it the soul-bell bccause it signifies the departure 
of the soul, hot because it hclps the passage of the soul." 
Ray, in his "Collection of l'roverbs," has the following 
couplet : 
"When thou dost hear atoll or kncll 
Then think upon thy passing-bell." 
It was formcrly customary to draw away thc pillow from 
under thc heads of dying pcrsons, so as to accclerate their 
departurean allusion to which we find in "Timon of 
Athens " (iv. 3), where Timon savs : 
"Pluck stout men's pillows from below thcir heads." 
This, no doubt, originated iii the notion that a pcrson can- 
hot dic happily on a bed ruade of pigeons' feathers. Grose 
says: " It is impossible for a person to die whilst resting on 
a pillow stuffed with the feathers of a dove; but that he 
will struggle with death iii the most exquisite torture. The 
pillows of dying persons are thercforc frequently taken away 
when thcy appear in great agonies, lest thcy may bave pig- 
eon's feathel's in them." Indeed, in Lancashire, this prac- 
tice is carried to such an extent that some will hot allow 
dying persons to lie on a feather bed, because they hold that 
it very much increases their pain and suffcring, and actually 
retards their departure. = 
The departure of the human soul from this world, and its 
journey to its untried future, have becomc interwoven with 

 "Annals of Worcester," 845. 
 Harland and Wilkinson's" Lancashire Folk-Lore," 869, p. 268 ; see 
"English Folk-Lore," 878, pp. 99, mo; also "Notes and (ueries," st 
series, vol. iv. p.  33. 



368 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
an e'<tensive network of superstitions, varying more or less 
in eveD country and tribe. Shakespeare has alluded to the 
numerous destinations of the discmbodied spirit, enumerat- 

ing the manyideas prevalent in his time on thc subject. 
" Measure for Measure " (iii. ), Claudio thus speaks : 

"Ay, but to die. and go we know not where ; 
To lie in cold obstruction and to rot ; . 
This sensible warm mention t« become 
A kneaded clod ; and the delighted spirit 
To barbe in fiery flocds, or to reside 
In thrilling region of thick-ribbed ice ; 
To be imprison'd in the viewless winds. 
And blown with restless violence round about 
The pendent world."  

hl 

compare also the powerful language of Othello 

" This look of thine will hurl my soul from heaven, 
And fiends will snatch at it. Cold, cold, my girl 
Even like thy chastity.-- 
O cursed, cursed slave ! Whip me, ye devils, 
From the possession of this heavenly sight ! 
Blow me about in winds ! toast me in sulphur ! 
Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid tire .' 
O Desdemona ! Desdcrnona : dead !" 

Douce - says that in the former passage it is difficult to 
decide whether Shakespeare is alluding to the pains of hell 
or purgatory. Both passages are obscure, and have given 
fise to much criticism. It secms probable, however, that 
while partly rcferring to the notions of the time, relating to 
dcparted souls, Shakespeare has in a great measure incorpo- 
rated the ideas of what he had read in books of Catholic 
divinity. The passages quoted above ,'emind us of the le- 
gend of St. Patrick's purgatory, where nention is ruade of a 
lake of ice and snow into which persons were plunged up to 
thcir necks; and of the description of hell given in the 
" Shcpherd's Calendar :" 

Cf. Milton's "Paradise Lost," v. 595-683. 
See " Illustrations of Shakespeare," t839. pp. 82, 83. 



:DEATH AND I3URIAL. 

"a great froste in a water rounes 
And after a bytter wynde cornes 
Which gothe through the soules with eyre; 
Fends with pokes pulle theyr flesshe ysondre, 
They fight and curse, and eche on other wondcr." 

369 

'\'e cannot hcre enter, however, into the lnass of mystic 
details respecting "the soul's dread journey' by caverns 
and rocky paths and weary plains, over steep and slippery 
mountains, by frail bank or giddy bridge, across gulfs or 
rushing rivers, abiding the tierce onset of the soul-destroyer 
or the doom of the stern guardian of the othcr world." Few 
subjects, indeed, have afforded grcater scope for the imagina- 
tion than the hcreafter of the human soul, and hcnce, as 
lnight be expected, numcrous myths havc been invented in 
most countries to account for its mysterious departure in 
the hour of death, from the world of living men toits un- 
seen, unknown home in the distant land ofspirits. 
Shakespeare several rimes uses the word " limbo" in a 
gencral signification for hell, as in " Titus Andronicus" 
(iii. ) : 
"As far from help as limbo is from bliss." 
And in " All's Wcll that Ends \Vell " (v. 3, l'arolles says: 
" for, indeed, he was mad for her, and talked of Satan, and 
of limbo, and of furies, and I know not what." In '" Hen- 
ry VIII." (v. 4), " in Limbo Patrum " is jocularly put for a 
prison; and, again, in " Comedy of Errors" (iv. 2), "he's in 
Tartar limbo." " According to the schoolmen, Limb»s Pe- 
trlm was the place, bordering on hell, where the souls of 
the patriarchs and saints of the Old Testament remained 
till the death of Christ, who, descending into hell, sct them 
free." " 
One of thc punishments invented of old for the covetous 
and avaricious, in hell, was to have mclted gold poured 
down their throats, to which allusion is ruade by Flaminius, 
in "Timon of _Athens" (iii. ), who, dcnouncing Lucullus 

' Tylor's " Primitive Culture," vol. il. p. 46. 
= Dyce's "Glossary," p. 246. 
24 



370 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
for his mcan insincerity towards his friend Timon, exclaims, 
on rejecting the bribe offered hiln to tell his toaster that he 
had hot seen him: 
'. May these add to the number that may scald thee ! 
Let molten coin be thy danmation." 
In the " Shcphcrd's Calendar," Lazarus dèclares himself 
to have secn covetous mon and women in hell dippcd in 
caldrons of molten lead. Malone quotes the following from 
an old black-lcttcr ballad of" The Dead Man's Song :" 

" Ladles full of melted gold 
Wcre pourcd down their throats." 

Crassus was so ptmishcd by lhe l'arthians. 1 
There is possibly a further allusion to this imaginary pun- 
ishment in "Antony and Clcopatra" (il. 5), where Cleopatra 
says to the messcnger : 

" But, sirrah, mark, we use 
To say, the dead are well : bring it to that, 
The gold I give thee will I melt, and pour 
• Down thy ill-uttering throat." 

According to a well-known superstition among sailors, it 
is considercd highly unlucky to keep a corpse on board, in 
case of a death at sea. Thus, in Periclcs" {.iii. ), this piece 
of folk-lore is alludcd to: 

" I ailor. Sir. your queen must overboard ; the sea works high. the 
wind is loud. and will not lie till the ship be cleared of the dead. 
t'o-icles. That's your superstition. 
 Sailor. Pardon us. sir ; with us at sea it bath been still observed ; 
and we are strong in custom. Therefore briefly yield her; for she 
must overboard straight." 

It was also a popular opinion that death is delayed until 
the ebb of the tide--a superstition to which Mrs. Quickly 
refers in " Henry V." (il. 3); speaking of Falstaff's death, 
she says: " 'A made a finer end, and went away-, an it had 

 Singer's "Shakespeare,"  875, vol. viii. p. 29. 



DEATtI AND BURIAL. 37 I 
been any christom child ; 'a parted even just between twelve 
and one, even at the turning o' the tide." Hence, in cases 
of sickness, many pretended that they could foretell the 
hour of the soul's departure. It may be remembered how 
Mr. Peggotty explained to David Coppcrfield, by poor Bar- 
kis's bedside, that " people can't die along the coast except 
when the tide's pretty nigh out. They can't be born unless 
it's pretty nigh in--not properly born till flood. I Ie's a-go- 
ing out with the tide--he's a-going out with the tide. It's 
ebb at half arter three, slack-water halfan hour. If he lives 
till it turns he'll hold his own till past the flood, and go out 
with the next tide." Mr. Hcnderson' quotes from the par- 
ish register of Heslidon, near Hartlepool, the subjoined ex- 
tracts of old date, in which the state of the tide at the time 
of death is mentioncd: 
"The xi th daye of Maye, ._.I».  595, at ri. of ye.clocke in 
the morninge, being full water, Mr. 1 [cnrye Mitford, of Hoo- 
lam, died at Newcastel, and was buried the xvi '1' daie, being 
Sondaie, at evening prayer, the hired preacher maid ve ser- 
11"1011. ,) 
" The xvii 'h daie of Maie, at xii. of ve clock at noon, being 
lowe water, Mrs. Barbara Mitford died, and was buried the 
xviii ')' daie of Maie, at ix. of the clocke. Mr. Holsworth 
maid ye sermon." 
According to Mr. Henderson, this belief is common along 
the east coast of England, from Northumberland fo Kent. 
It has been suggested that there ma)'be"some slight foun- 
dation for this belief in the change of temperature which un- 
doubtedly takes place on the change of tide, and which mav 
act on the flickering spark of life, extinguishing it as the 
ebbing sea recedes." 
\Ve may compare, too, the following passage in " 2 Ilenr)" 
IV." (iv. 4), where Clarence, speaking of the approaching 
death of the king, says: 
"The river bath thrice flow'd, no ebb between ; 
And the old folk, time's doting chronicles, 

 " Folk-Lore of Northern Counties," 88o, p. 58. 



372 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Say it did so a little time before 
That out great grandsire, Edward, sick'd and died." 
This was an historical fact, having happened on Octobcr I2, 
Thc praycrs of the Church, which are used for the recovery 
of the sick, were, in the olden time, also supposed to have a 
morbific influence, to which Gloster attributes the dcath of 
the king in " I Henry VI." (i. ): 
"The church! where is it ? Had not churchmen pray'd. 
His thread of lire had not so soon decay'd." 
Once more, the custom of closing the eyes at the moment 
of death is touchingly rcferred to in "Antony and Cleopatra" 
(v. 2), where Charmian may be supposed to close Cleopatra's 
eyes : 
" Downy windows, close ; 
And golden Phoebus never be beheld 
Of eyes again so royal." 
Passing on from that solenm moment in human life when 
the soul takes its flight from the fragile tenement of clay 
that contained it during its earthly existence, we find that, 
even among the lowest savages, there has generally been a 
certain respect paid to the dead body; and, consequently, 
various superstitious rites have, from rime to rime, been 
associated with its burial, which has been so appropriately 
termed " the last act." While ocçasionally speaking of 
death, Shakespeare has hot only pictured its solemnity in 
the most powerful and glowing language, but, as opportu- 
nity allowed, given us a slight insight into those customs 
that formerly prevailcd in connection with the committal 
of the body to its final resting-place in the grave. At the 
present day, whcn there is an ever-growing tendcncy to dis- 
card and forger, as irrational and foolish, the customs of by- 
gone years, it is interesting to find chronicled, for all future 
rime, in the itnmortal pages of out illustrious poet, those 
superstitious rites and social usages which may be said to 
have been most intimately identified with the age to which 
they belonged. One custom, perhaps, that will always re- 



DEATIt AND IIURIAL. 373 
tain its old hold among us--so long as we continue to bury 
the rcmains of our departed ones--is the scattering of flow- 
ers on thcir graves ; a practice, indeed, which may be traced 
up to pagan rimes. Itis frequently mentioncd by Shake- 
speare in some of his superb passages; as, for instance, in 
"Cymbeline" (iv. 2), wherc Arviragus says : 
"With fairest flowers, 
Whilst summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele, 
Fil sweeten thy sad grave: thou shalt hot lack 
The flower that's like thy face. pale primrose, nor 
The azur'd hare-bell, like thy veins ; no. nor 
The leaf of eglantine, whom hot to slander, 
Out-swecten'd hot thy breath. 
Yea, and furr'd moss besicles, whcn flowers are none, 
To winter-ground thy corse." 
In " tIamlet" (iv. 5), the poor, bewildered Ophelia sings : 
"Larded with sweet flowers ; 
Which bewept to the grave did go 
With true-love showers." 

Thcn, further on (v. ), there is the affecting flower-strewing 
scene, where the Queen, standing over the grave of Ophelia, 
bids her a long farewell : 
"Sweets to the sweet : farewell ! 
I hop'd thou should'st have been mv Hamlet's wife: 
I thought thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet maid, 
And not bave strew'd thy grave." 
In " Romeo and Juliet " (ix,. 5), Capulet says : 
:" Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corse." 

And further on {.v. 3) the Page says: 
" He came with flnwers to strew hls lady's grave."' 
Once more, in "Pericles" (ix,. ), Marina is introduced, en- 
tering with a basket of flowers, uttering these sad words : 

Cf. "Winter's Tale," iv. 4. 



374 

FOLK-I.ORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

" No, I will rob Tellus of her weed, 
To strew thy green xvith flowers ; the yellows, blues, 
The purple violets, and mari.olds, 
Shall. as a carpet, hang upon thy grave, 
While summer days do last." 
Flowcrs, which so soon droop and withcr, are, indeed, 
sweet emblems of that brief lire which is the portion of 
mankind in this vorld, while, at the same time, their ex- 
quisite bcauty is a further type of the glory that awaits the 
redeemed hereafter, when, like fair flowers, they shall burst 
forth in unspeakable grandeur on the resurrection morn. 
There is a pretty custom observed in outh \Vales on Pahn 
Sunday, of spreading fl'esh flowers upon the graves of 
friends and relatives, the day being called Flmvering Sun- 
dlV. 
The practice of decorating the corpse is mentioned by 
many old writcrs. In " Romeo and Juliet" (iv. 5), lVriar 
Laurence says : 
" Dry up your tears, and stick your rosemary 
On this fait corse ; and. as the custom is. 
In all her best array bear her to church." 
Queen Katharine, in " tIenry VIII." (iv. 2), directs : 
"When I am dead, good wench. 
Let me be us'd with honour : strew me over 
With maiden flowers." 
It was formerly customary, in various parts of England, to 
have a garland of flowers and sweet herbs carried belote a 
maiden's coffin, and afterwards to suspend it in the church. 
In allusion to this practice, the Priest, in " Hamlet" W- 0, 
says : 
"Yet here she is allow'd her virgin crants, 
Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home 
Of bell and burial." 
crants' meaning garlands. It ma 3 -be noted that no other 

' The word in German is ,ra,z. in other Teutonic dialects g'ra,ls, 
lcra,s, and rra,wethe latter being Lowland Scotch--and having 
cra,sie's for plural. Clark and Wright's " Hamlet,"  876, p. 2 ]6. 



DEATH AND IURIAL. 

375 
These 

instance has becn found of this word in English. 
garlands are thus described by Gay: 
"To her sweet mem'rv flow'ry garlands strung. 
On ber now empty seat aloft were hung." 
Nichols, in his "Historr of Lancashire" (vol. il. pt. i. 
p. 382), speaking of \Valtham, in 1;ramland l tundred, says : 
" 111 this church, under every arch, a garland is suspended, 
one of which is customarily placed there whenever any 
young unmarried woman dies." Brand I tells us he saw in 
the churches of Volsingham and Stanhope, in the county 
of Durham, specimcns of these garlands: the f«rm of a 
wonlall's glovc, cut in white papcr, bcing hung in the cela- 
tre of each of thcm. 
The funerals of knights and persons of rank were, in 
Shakespeare's da3", performed with great ceremony and 
ostentation. Sir John Ilawki_s observes that "the sword, 
the hehnet, the gauntlets, spurs, and tabard are still hung 
over the grave of erery knight." In " ttamlet " ,iv. 51, La- 
ertes speaks of this custom : 
'" His means of death, his obscure burial.-- 
No trophy, sword, nor hatchment, o'er his bones. 
No noble rite, nor formal ostentation.-- 
Çry to be heard, as 'twere from heaven to earth. 
That I must call't in question." 
Again, in " 2 Itenry VI." (if. 0), Iden says : 
"Is't Cde that I have slain, that monstrous traitor ? 
Sword. I will hallow thee for this thv deed. 
And bang thee o'er my tomb when I am dead." 
The custom of bearing the dead bod 5- in its ordinary ha- 
biliments, and with the face uncovered--a practice referred 
to in " Romeo and Juliet" (iv. )--appears to have been 
peculiar to Italy: 
"Then. as the manner of out country is. 
In thy best robes uncover'd on the hier, 

 " Pop. Antiq." vol. ii. p. 3o3 . 



376 FOLK-LORE OF StlAKESPEARE. 
Thou shalt be borne to that saine ancient vault 
Where ail the kindred of the Capulets lie." 
In Coryat's "Crudities " (776, vol. if. p. -7) the practice 
fs thus described : " The burials are so strange, both in Ven- 
ice and all other cities, towns, and parishes of Italy, that 
they differ hot only from England, but fl-om all other na- 
tions xvhatever in Christendom. For they carry the corse 
to church with the face, hands, and feet all naked, and wear- 
ing the saine apparel that the pcrson wore lately before he 
dicd, or that which he cravcd to be buried in ; which apparel 
fs interred together with the body."' Singer  says that 
Shake.qpeare no doubt had secn this custom particularly de- 
scribcd in the " Tragicall I listory of Romeus and Juliet :" 
"Another use there fs, that. whosoever dies, 
Borne to the church, with open face, upon the bief he lies, 
In wonted weed attir'd, hot wrapt in winding sheet." 
He alludes to it again in Ophelia's song, in " Hamlet" 
(iv. 5): 
"They bore him bareIac'd on the hier." 
It was, in bygone rimes, customary to bury the Danish 
kings in their armor; hence thc rcmark of Hamlet (i. 4), 
when addressing thc Ghost : 
" What may this mean, 
That thou, dead corse, again, in complete steel, 
Revisit'st thus the glimpses of the moon, 
Making night hideous ?" 
Shakespcare was probably guilty of an anachronism in 
"Coriolanus " (v. 6) whcn hc makes one of the lords say : 
" Bear from hence his body, 
And mourn you for him : let him be regarded 
As the most noble corse that ever herald 
Did follow to his urn," 
the allusion being to the public funeral of English princes, 

 See Staunton's "Shakespeare," 864. vol. i. p. 305 . 
 "Shakespeare," 875, vol. ix. pp. 2o9, ?m. 



DEATH AND BURIAL. 377 
at the conclusion of which a herald proclaimed the style of 
the deceased. 
\Ve may compare what O_ueen Katharinc says in " Henry 
VIII." (,iv. 2): 
"After my death I wish no other herald, 
No other speaker of my living actions, 
To keep my honour from corruption. 
But such an honest chronicler as Gritïith." 
It seems to have been the fashion, as far back as thc thir- 
teenth centm.', to ornament the tombs of eminent persons 
with figures and inscriptions on plates ofbrass; hence, in 
"Love's Labour's Lost" (i. lI, the King says: 
"Let faine, that ail hunt after in their lives, 
Lire register'd upon our brazen tombs." 
In " Much Ado About Nothing" (v. ), Leonato, speak- 
ing of his daughter's death, says : 
" Hang her an epitaph upon her tomb, 
And sing it to ber bones : sing it to-night." 
And also iii a previous sccne (iv. ) this graceful custom is 
noticed : 
" Maintain a mourning ostentation, 
And on your family's old monument 
Hang mournful epitaphs." 
It was also the custom, iii years gone by, on the death of an 
eminent person, for his f,iends to compose short laudatory 
verses, epitaphs, etc., and to affix them to the hearse or 
grave with pins, wax, paste, etc. Thus, in " Henry V." (i. 2), 
King Henry declares : 
"Either our history shall with full mouth 
Speak freely of our acts, or else our grave, 
Like Turkish mute, shall have a tongueless mouth, 
Not worshipp'd with a waxen epitaph,'" 
meaning, says Gifford, " I will either have my full history 
recorded with glory, or lie in an undisturbed grave; not 



378 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
merely without an inscription sculptured in stone, but un- 
worshipped, unhonoured, even by a waxen epitaph. '' 
\Ve may also compare what Lucius says in " Titus An- 
dronicus" (i. ) : 
"There lie thy bones, sweet Mutius. with thy friends, 
TIll we with trophies do adorn thy tomb 
The custom was still general when Shakespeare lived ; many 
fine and interesting examples existing in the old Cathedral 
of St. l'aul's, and other churches of London, down to the 
time of the great tire, in the form of pensil-tables of wood 
and metai, painted or engraved with poetical memorials, 
suspended against the columns and walls. 
" Feasts of the 1)ead," which have prcvailed in this and 
other countries rioto the earliest rimes, arc, according to some 
antiquarians, supposed to have been borrowed from the cwna 
f«rali« of the Romans--an offering, consisting of milk, honey, 
wine, olives, and strewcd flowers, to the ghost of the deceased. 
Ill a varicty of forms this custom has prevailed among most 
nations--the idea being that the spirits of the dead feed on 
the viands set belote them; hence the rite in question em- 
braced the notion of a sacrifice. In Christian times, how- 
ever, these funcral ofl'erings have passed into commemora- 
tire banquets, undcr which forln they still exist among us. 
In allusion to these feasts, Hamlet (i. 2), speaking of his 
mother's marriage, says : 
"The funeral bak'd meats 
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables." 
Again, iii " Romeo and Juliet" (iv. 5), Capulet narrates 
how : 
"AI1 things that we ordained festival, 
Turn from their office to black funeral : 
()ur instruments, to melancholy bells ; 
Our wedding cheer, to a sad burial feast." 
Mr. Tylor,  in discussing the origin of funeral feasts, and 

Notes on "Jonson's Works," vol. ix. p. 58. 
" Primitive Culture," vol. ii. p. 43- 



DEATII AND BURIAL. 379 
in tracing their origin back to the savage and barbaric times 
of the institution of feast of departed souls, says we may find 
a lingering survival of this old rite in the doles of bread and 
drink given to the poor at flmerals, and " soul-mass cakes," 
which peasant girls beg for at farlnhouses, with the tradi- 
tional formula, 
" Soul. soul, fnr a soul cake, 
Pay you, mistress, a soul cake."  
In the North of England the funeral feast is called an 
" arval," and the loaves that are somctines distributcd 
among the poor are termed "arval bread." 
mongother funeral customs mentioncd by Shakespeare, 
nay be mentioned his allusion to the burial service. Origi- 
nally, belote the reign of Edward VI., it was the practice for 
the pricst to throw earth on thc body in the form of a cross, 
and then to sprinkle it with holy water. Thus, in the 
'" Winter's Talc" (iv. 45, the Shcphcrd says : 
" Some hangman must put on my shroud, and lay me 
Where no priest shovels in dust." 
implying," I must be buricd as a common malefactor, out 
of the pale of consecrated ground, and without the usual 
rites of the dead "a whimsical anachronism, as Mr. Douce' 
points out, when it is considered that the old Shcpherd was 
a pagan, a worshipper of Jupiter and Apollo. 
In "Antony and Cleopatra'" (i. 3), we find an allusion to 
the lachwmatory vials filled with tears which the Romans 
were in the habit ofplacing in the tomb of a departed friend. 
Cleopatra SOlrowfully exclaims : 
"O most false love  
Where be the sacred vials thou shouldst fill 
With sorrowful water ? Now I see. I see. 
In Fulvia's death, how mine receiv'd shall be." 
 Sec "British Popular Customs." p. 404 ; Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 
849, vol. ii. pp. OE37, e46 ; Douce's "" Illustrations of Shakespeare," 839. 
P- 439- 
= Sec Douce's '" Illustrations of Shakespeare," 839. p. eee. 



380 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
This is another interesting hlstance of Shakespeare's 
knowledge of the manners of distant ages, showing how 
varied and extensive his knowledge was, and his skill in ap- 
plying it whcnever occasion required. 
The winding or shrouding sheet, in which the body was 
wrapped previous to its burial, is alludcd to in " Hamlet" 
(v. ), in the song of the clown: 

"A pick-axe, and a spade, a spade, 
For and a shrouding sheet : 
O, a pit of clay for to be ruade 
For such a guest is meet." 

Again, in 
says : • 

"A llidsumnmr-Night's Dream" (v. ), Puck 
"the screech-owl, screeching loud, 
Puts the wretch that lies in woe 
In remembrance of a shroud." 

Ophelia speaks of the shroud as xvhite as the mountain 
ShOW (" Ilamlet," iv. 5). The following song. too, in "Twelfth 
Night" (ii. 4), mentions the custom of sticking yew in the 
shroud : 
"Corne away. corne awav. death, 
And in sad cypress let me be laid ; 
Fiy away. fly away, breath : 
I ara Main by a fair cruel maid. 
My shroud of white, stuck ail with yew. 
O prepare 
My part of death, no one so true 
Did share it !" 

To quote two further illustrations. Desdemona (" Othello," 
iv. 2) says to Emilia : " Lay on my bed my wedding-sheets," 
and when in the following scene Emilia answers: 

" I have laid those sheets you bade me on the bed," 
Desdemona adds : 

"If I do die before thee, pr'thee, shroud me 
In one of those saine sheets" 



DEATII AND BURIAL. 

38t 

--a wish, indeed, which hcr cruel rate so speedily caused to 
be realized. And in "3 Itenry VI." (i. I) we have King 
Henry's powerful words: 

"Think'st thou, that I will leave my kingly throne, 
Wherein my grandsire and my father sat ? 
No : first shall war unpeople this my realm ; 
Ay. and their colours,--often borne in France, 
And now in England, to our heart's great sorrow,-- 
Shall be my winding-sheet." 

The custom, still prevalent, of carrying the dead to the 
grave with music--a practice which cxisted in the primitive 
church--to denote that thcy havc ended thcir spiritual war- 
rare, and are become conqucrors, formcrly existcd vcry gen- 
erally in this country.' In " Cymbeline" (iv. 2), Arviragus 
says : 
" And let us, Polydore, though now our voices 
Have got the mannish crack, sing him to the ground, 
As once out mother ; use like note and words, 
Save that Euriphile must be Fidele." 

The tolling of bells at funerals is referred to in " Ilamlet" 
(v. I), where the priest says of Ophelia: 

"she is allow'd her virgin crants, 
Her maiden strewments, and the bringing home 
Of bell and burial." 

It has been a current opinion for centuries that places of 
burial are haunted with spectres and apparitions--a notion, 
indeed, that prevailed as far back as the times of heathenism. 
Ovid speaks of ghosts coming out of their sepulchres and 
wandering about" and Vergil, quoting the popular opinion 
of his time, tells us how Mocris could call the ghosts out of 
their sepulchres (" Bucol." viii. 9 8) : 

" Moerim, soepe animas imis excire sepulchris, 
Atque satas alio vidi traducere messis." 

 See Brand's "Pop. Antiq.," 849, vol. il. pp. 267-27o. 



382 FOLK-LORE OF SttAKESPEARE. 
Indced, the îdea of the ghost remaining near the corpse is 
of world-wide prcvalence; and as Mr. Tylor' points out, 
" through all the changes of rcligious thought ffoto first to 
last, in the course of human bistory, the hovering ghosts of 
the dead make the midnight burial-ground a place where 
men's flesh creeps with terror." In " A Midsummer-Night's 
Drcam" (v. I), l'uck declares : 
" Now it is the rime of night, 
That the graves, ail gaping wide, 
Every one lets forth his sprite, 
In the church-way paths to glide." 
In the gaine play, too (.iii. 2), l'uck, speaking of '" Aurora's 
harbinger," says : 
"At whose approach, ghosts, wandering here and there, 
Troop home to churchyards: damned spirits ail, 
That in cross-ways and floods have burial. 
Already to their wornly beds are gone ; 
For fear lest day should look their shames upon." 
In this passage two curious superstitions are described ; the 
ghosts of self-murderers, who are buried in cross-roads, and 
of those who have been dlowned at sea, being said to wan- 
der for a hundred years, owing to the rites of sepulture hav- 
ing never been properly bestowed on their bodies. 
We may further compare Hamlet's words (.iii. ) : 
"'Tis now the ve W witching time of night. 
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out 
Contagion to this world." 
From the earliest period much importance bas been at- 
tachcd to the position of the grave, the popular direction 
being from east to west, that from north to south being 
regarded as hot only dishonorable, but unlucky. Thus, in 
" Cymbeline " (iv. 2), Guiderius, when arranging about the 
apparently dead body of Imogen, disguised in man's apparel, 
says : 
" Iay, Cadwal, we must lay his head to the east ; 
My fatber had a reason for't.". 

a "Primitive Culture," vol. il. p. 3 o. 



DEATtI AND BURIAL. 383 
Indeed, the famous antiquary Hearne had such precise 
views in this matter that he lcft ordcrs for his grave to be 
ruade straight by a COlnpass, due east and west. This cus- 
tom was practised by the ancicnt Grceks, and thus, as Mr. 
Tylor points out,' it is hot to late and isolated fancy, but to 
the carryilg on of ancient and widespread solar ideas, that 
we trace the well-known legend that thc body of Christ was 
laid with the head towards the west, thus looking eastward, 
and the Christian usage of digging graves east and west, 
which prevailed through mcdimval times, and is hot )'et for- 
gotten. Thc rule of laying the hcad to the west, and its 
meaning that the dead shall rise looking towards the east, 
are pcrfcctly stated in the following passage froln an eccle- 
siastical treatise of the I6th century: " " Dcbet autem quis 
sic sepeliri ut capite ad occidentem posito, pedes dil'igat ad 
Olientem, in quo quasi ipsa positione orat: et innuit quod 
promptus est, ut de occasu festiner ad ortum : de mundo ad 
seculum." a 
,Vithil old lnonuments and l'eceptacles for the dead per- 
petual lamps vere supposcd to be lighted up, an allusion to 
which is ruade by l'ericles (iii. I), who, dcploring the un- 
timely death of Thaisa at sea, and the superstitious dclnaud 
ruade by the sailors that her corpse should be thrown over- 
board, says : 
" Nor have I rime 
To give thee hallow'd to thy grave, but straight 
Must cast thee, scarcely cofiïn'd, in the ooze ; 
Where, for a monument upon thy bones, 
And aye-remaining lamps, the belching whale 
And humming water must o'erwhelm thy-corpse, 
Lying with simple shells." 

 " Primitive Culture," 1873, vol. ii. p. 423. 
" Durandus, "De Officio Mortuorum," lib. vii. chap. 35-39- 
: Dr. Johnson thought the words of the clown in "" Hamlet" (v. x), 
"make her grave straight,'" meant," make her grave from east to west, 
in a direct line parallel to the church." This interpretation seems 
improbable, as the word straight in the sense of immediatelv occurs 
frequently in Shakespeare's plays. 



384 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
A_gain, in " Troilus and Cressida" (iii. 2), we find a further 
refercnce in the words of Troilus : 

" O. that I thought it could be in a woman 
To feed for aye her lamp and flames of love." 

Pope, too, in his " Eloisa to Abelard," has a similar allusion 
(1.26I, 262): 

"Ah, hopeless lasting flalnes, like those that burn 
To light the dead, and warm th" unfruitful urn !" 

D'Israeli, in his " Curiosities of Literature," thus explains 
this superstition: " It has happened frequently that inquisi- 
tire men, exalnilling with a flalnbeau ancient sepulchres 
which have just been opened, the fat and gross vapors en- 
gendercd by the corruption of dead bodies kindled as the 
flambeau approachcd them, to the great astonishment ofthe 
spectators, who frcquently cried out ' A miracle !' This sud- 
den inflammation, although very natural, has given room to 
believe that these flames proceeded from icrt«liml lamiOs, 
which some have thought were placed in the tombs of the 
ancients, and which, they said, were extinguished at the 
moment that these tombs opened, and were penetrated by 
the exterior air." Mr. Dennis, however, in his " Cities and 
Cemeteries of Etruria" t878, vol. ii. p. 4o4), says that the 
use of sepulchral lamps by the ancients is well known, and 
gave fise to the above superstition. Sometimes lamps were 
kept burning in sepulchres long aftcr the interlnent, as in 
the case of the Ephesian widow described by Petronius 
(" Satyr," c. 3), who replac2d the lamp placed in ber hus- 
band's tomb. 
A common expression formerly applied to the dead occurs 
in the " Winter's Tale" (v. I), where Dion asks: 

"What were more holy, 
Than to rejoice the former queen is well ?" 

So in "Antony and Cleopatra" (ii. 5): 



DEATII AND BURIAL. 

385 

"3I«ssct(«r. First, madam, he is well. 
Clcvpatra, Why, there's more gold. 
But, sirrah, mark, we use 
To say, the dead are wcll." ' 
Lastly, commentators have diffcrcd as to the meaning of 
the words of J ulia in the "Two Gentlemen of Verona" 
(.i. 2): 
'" I see you bave a month's mind to them." 
Douce says she refers to the mind or remembrance days of 
out popish ancestors; persons in thcir wills having often 
directed that in a month, or at somc other spccific timc, some 
solcmn office, as a mass or a dirgc, should bc pcrformed for 
the repose ofthcir souls. Thus Ray quotcs a proverb : "To 
have a month's mind to a thing," and mentions the above 
custom. For a further and hot improbable solution ofthis 
difficulty, the reader may consult Dyce's "Glossary" (p. 277 ). 

 See Malone's note, Variorum edition, xiv. 4oo. 
25 



CHAPTER XV. 
RINGS AND I?RECIOUS STONES. 
FROM a very early pcriod, rings and precious stones have 
held a proninelt place in thc traditionary lore, customs, 
and superstitions of most nations. Thus, rings have been 
supposed " to protcct froln evil fascinations of every kind, 
against thc evil eye, thc influence of demons, and dangers 
of evcry possible character; though it was hot simply in 
the rings thclnsclves that thc supposcd virtues existed, but 
in the lnaterials of which they werc composed -- in some 
particular precious stones that wcre set in them as charlns 
or talisnans, in solne device or inscription on the stone, or 
some magical letters engraved on the circulnference of the 
ring."' Rings, too, in days gone by, had a symbolical im- 
portance. Thus, it was anciently the custom for every 
monarch to have a ring, the temporary possession of which 
invested the holder with thc samc authority as the owner 
himsclf could exercise. Thus, in " Henry VIII." (v. I), we 
have the king's ring given to Cranmer, and presented by him 
(sc. ), as a security against the machinations of Gardiner 
and others of the council, who were plotting to destroy 
him. Thus the king says: 
'" If entreaties 
Vill render you no renedy, this ring 
Deliver them, and your appeal to us 
There make before them." 

This custom, too, was hOt confined to royalty, for in 
" Richard II." (il. 2), the Duke of York gives this order 
to his servant: 

' Jones's " Finger-Ring Lore," 877, p. 9. 



RINGS AND PRECIOUS STONES. 

"Sirrah, get thee to Plashy, to my sister Gloster ; 
Bid ber send me presently a thousand pound :-- 
Hold, take my ring." 

387 

There is an interesting relic of the same custom still kept 
up at \Vilchester College.' \Vhen the captain of the school 
petitions the head-master for a holiday, and obtains it, he 
receives flom him a ring, in token of the indulgence granted, 
which he wears during the holiday, and returns to the head- 
master when it is over. The inscription upon the ring was, 
forlnerly, " l'otentialn fero, geroque." It is now "Commcn- 
dat rarior usus" (Juvenal, "Sat." xi. 2o8). 
To/««J RiJ«s date from ver)" early times. Edward I., in 
297, presented Margarct, his fourth daughtcr, with a golden 
pyx, in which he dcposited a ring, as a token of his unfail- 
ing love. 
In " Richard III." (i. 2) when Gloster brings his hasty 
wooing to a conclusion, he gives the Lady Arme a ring, 
saying : 

" Look, how my ring encompasseth thy finger, 
Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart ; 
Wear both of them, for both of them are thine." 

Il1 "Cymbeline" (i. ) Imogen gives l'osthumus a ring 
when they part, and he presents her with a bracelet in ex- 
change : 
• " Look here, love ; 
This diamond was my mother's ; take it, heart ; 
But keep it till you woo another wife, 
When hnogen is dead. 
Posthumus. How ! how .' another ?-- 
You gentle gods, give me but this I bave. 
And sear up my embracements from a next 
With bonds of death.' Remain, remain thou here, 
tPtlD ot ll" rD) 
While sense can keep it on." 

Yet he afterwards gives it up to Iachimo (il. 4)--upon a 
false representation--to test his wife's honor: 

' Wordsworth's " Shakespeare and the Bible," 88o, p. 283. 



388 

FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

" Here. take this too ; 
Itis a basilisk unto mine eye, 
Kills me to look on't." 

The exchange of rings, a solemn mode of private contract 
between loyers, we have already referred to in the chapter on 
Marriage, a practice alluded to in the " Two Gentlemen of 
Verona " (il. 2), where Julia gives l'roteus a ring, saying : 
" Keep this remembrance for thy Julia's sake ;" 

and he replies: 
'" Why, then we'll nmke exchange : here, take you this." 
])g'a/,[I'S-/I['Fld*I']I,S. Rings engravcd with skulls and skel- 
ctons were hot necessarily mourning rings, but were also 
worn by pcrsons who affcctcd gravit}'; and, curious to say, 
by the procurcsscs of Elizabeth's time. 13iron, in " Love's 
Labour's I.ost " (v. e), refcrs to "a death's face in a ring;" 
and we may quote Falstaff's words in " 2 Ilcnry IV." (ii. 4): 
'" Peace, good Doll ! do hOt speak like a death's head ; do not 
bid me remembcr mine end." \Ve may compare the follow- 
ing from " The Chances'" !i. 5), by Beaumont and Fletcher: 
"As they keep deaths' heads in rings, 
To cry ' memento" to me." 
According to Mr. Fairholt, " the skull and skeleton decora- 
tions for rings first came into favor and fashion at the ob- 
sequious court of France, when Diana of Poictiers became 
the nistress of Ilenry II. At that time she was a widow, 
and in mourning, so black and white became fashionable 
colors; jewels were formed like funeral memorials; golden 
ornaments, shaped like coffins, holding enamelled skeletons, 
llung flonl the neck; watches, ruade to fit in little silver 
skulls, were attached to the waists of the denizens of a 
court that alternately indulged in profanity or piety, but who 
mourned for show. ''1 
['o.ç.l,-rigs were formerly much used, it having been cus- 

 See Jones's " Finger-Ring Lofe," 877, p. 372. 



RINGS AND PRECIOUS STONES. 389 
tomary to inscribe a motto or "posy" within the hoop of" 
the betrothal ring. Thus, in the " Merchant of Venice" 
(v. I), Gratiano, when asked by Portia the rcason of his 
quarrel with Nerissa, answers: 

About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring 
That she did give me; whose posy was 
For all the world like cutlers' poetry 
Upon a knife,' Love me, and leave me hOt.'" 

In "'As YOtl Like It " (iii. 2), Jaques tclls Orlando, " 
are fldl of pretty answcrs, t/are yotl flot been acqualnted 
with goldsmiths' wives, and conned them out of lings ?" 
Again, " I lamlet " (.iii. 2) asks : 

"ls this a prologue, or the posy of a ring ?" 

Many of our old writers allude to the posy-rings. Thus I Ier- 
rick, in his " t [esperides," says: 

"What posies for our wedding rings, 
What gloves we'll give, and ribbomn,s. 

Henry VIII. gave Arme of Cleves a ring with the followi,lg 
posy: "God send nie well to kepe;7 a most unpropitious 
alliance, as the king expressed his dislike to lier soon after 
the marliage. 
T/mmb-rins. These were gcnerally broad gold rings 
worn on the thumb by important personages. Thus Fal- 
staff (" I Henry IV." ii. 4) bragged that, in lais earlier years, 
he had been so slender in figure as to " creep into an alder- 
n'lan's thumb-ring;" and a ring thus worn--probably as 
more conspicuous--appears to have been considered as ap- 
propriate to the customary attire of a civic dignitary at a 
much later period. A character in the Lord Mayor's Show, 
in 1664, is described as " habited like a grave citizen--gold 
girdle, and gloves hullg thereon, rings on his fingers, and a 
seal ring on his thumb."' Chaucer, iii lais "Squire's Talc," 
says of the rider of the brazen horse who advanced into the 

 See Jones's " Finger-Ring Lore," I877, p. 88. 



390 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
hall, Cambuscan, that " upon his thumb he had of gold a 
ring." In "Romco and J ulict" (i. 4), Mercutio speaks of thc 
"agate stone 
On the forefinger of an alderman." 
It has been suggested that Shakespeare, in the following 
passage, alludcs to the annuel celcbration, et Venice, of thc 
wedding of the Doge with the .Adriatic, when he makes 
Othello say (i. ) : 
" But that I love the gentle Desdemona, 
I would hot my unhoused free condition 
Put into circumscription and confine 
For the sea's worth." 
This custom, it is said, was instituted by Pope Alexander 
III., who gave the Doge a gold ring from his own finger, in 
token of the victory by the Venetian fleet, at Istria, over 
Frcderick Barbarossa, in defcncc of the Pope's quarrel. 
XVhcn his holiness gave the ring, he desired the Doge to 
throw a similar ring into the sea every year on Ascension 
Day, iii commemoration of the event. 
Agate. This stone was frequently cut to represent the 
human form, and was occasionally worn in the hat by gal- 
lants. In "z Itenry IV." (i. ;) Falstaff says : " I was never 
manned with an agate till now"--meaning, according to 
Johnson, "had an agate for my man," was waitcd on by 
an agate. 
Carb¢tcl«. The supernatural lustre of this gem  is sup- 
posed to be described in " Titus Andronicus"(il. 3), where, 
speaking of thc ring on the finger of Bassianus, lIartius says: 
'" Upon his bloody finger he doth wear 
A precious ring, that lightens all the hole, 
Which, like a taper in some monument, 
Doth shine upon the dead man's earthy cheeks, 
And shows the ragged entrails of the pit. » 
In Drayton's " lIuses' Elysium" ("Nymphal," ix.) it is 
thus eulogizcd : 

' See Sir Thomas Browne's "Vulgar Errors." 



RINGS AND PRECIOUS STONES. 

391 

" That admired mighty stone, 
The carbuncle that's named, 
Which from it such a flaming light 
And radiancy ejecteth, 
That in the very darkest night 
The eye toit directeth." 
Milton, speaking of the cobra, says : 
" His head 
Crested aloof, and carbuncle his eyes." 
John Norton) an alchemist in the reign of Eward IV., 
wrotc a pomn entitlcd thc "Ordinal," or a nanual of the 
chcmical art. One of his projects, we are told, was a bridge 
of gold over the Thamcs, crowned with pinnacles of gold, 
which, being studded with carbuncles, would diffuse a blaze 
of light in the dall« Among thc other rcferences to it giv- 
en by Shakespearc may be mentioned ont in " Hcnry VIII." 
(ri. 3),  hcre the Princess Elizabcth is spoken of as 
"a gem 
To lighten all this isle." 
And Hamlet (il. 2) uses the phrase, "3,ïth eyes like car- 
buncles." 
Chrysolitc. This stone was supposed to possess pcculiar 
virtues, and, according to Simon I\Iaiolus, in his " I)ieruln 
Çaniculares" (165-9), Thetel the Jeu, who wrote a book, 
"De Sculpturiis," mentions one naturally in the form of a 
woman, which was potent against fascination of all kinds. 
" Othello " (v. 2) thus alludes to this stonc ill reference to lais 
wife : 
" Nay, had she been true, 
If heaven would make me such another world 
Of one entire and perfect chrysolite, 
I'd not have sold her for it." 

P«ar[s. The Eastcrn custom of powdering sovereigns at 
their coronation with gold-dust and seed-pearl is alluded to 
in "Antony and Clcopatra "" (ri. 5): 

' Jones's "Precious Stones," 188o, p. 62. 
" See Singer's "Shakespeare," vol. x. p. 2 3. 



392 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
" I'll set thee in a shower of gold, and hail 
Rich pearls upon thee." 
So Milton (" Paradise Lost," ii. 4): 
"The gorgeous East, with liberal hand. 
Showers on her kings barbaric pearl and gold." 
Again, to swallow a pearl in a draught seems to have 
bcen common to royal and mercantile prodigality. In 
" Hamlet" (v. 23 the King says: 
"Thc king shall drink to Hamlet's bctter breath ; 
And in thc cup an union' shall he throw." 
Furthcr on I Iamlet himself asks, tauntingly : 
" Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damned Dane, 
Drink off this potion. Is thy union here?" 
Malonc, as axa illustration of this custom, quotes from the 
sccond part of Itcywood's "If You Know Not ]Ie You 
Know Nobody :" 
" Here sixteen thousand pound at one clap goes 
Instead of sugar. Gresham drinks this pearl 
Unto the queen, his mistress." 
In former rimes powdered pearls wcre considered invalu- 
ablc for stomach complaints; and Rondeletius tells us that 
thcy xvere supposed to possess an exhilarating quality; 
" Uniones qum a conchis, et valde cordiales sunt." 
Much mystel Twas,in bygone days, thought to hang over 
the origin of pcarls, and, according to the poetic Orientais,  
" Every year, on the sixteenth day of the month Nisan, the 
pearl oysters fise to the sea and open their shells, in order 
to receive the rain which falls at that time, and the drops 
thus caught become pearls." Thus, in " Richard III." (iv. 4) 
the king says: 
"The liquid drops of tears that you have shed 
Shall come again, transform'd to orient pearl, 

union is a precious pearl, remarkable for its size. 
See Jones's " History and Mystery of Precious Stones," p. 1 I6. 



RINGS AND PRECIOUS STONES. 393 
Advantaging their loan with interest 
Of ten rimes double gain of happiness." 
Moore, in one of his Mclodies, notices this pretty notion : 
" And precious the tear as that rain from the sky 
Which turns into pearls as it falls in the sea." 
Tltrqztoisc. This stone was probably more esteemed for 
its secret virtues than from any commercial value; the tur- 
quoise, turkise, or turkey-stone, having from a remote period 
been supposed to possess talismanic propcrties. Thus, in 
the "Merchant of Venice" (iii. 1), Shylock says: "It was 
my turquoise; I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor: I 
would not bave given it for a wilderness of monkeys." IX, If. 
Dyce' says that SILvlock valued his turquoise, " hot only as 
being the gift of Leah, but on account of the imaginary 
virtues ascribed to it : which was supposed to become pale 
or to brighten according as the health ofthe wearerwas bad 
or good." Thus, Ben Jonson, in " Scjanus" (i. 1), alludes to 
its wonderfltl propcrties : 
"' And true as turkoise in the dear lord's ring, 
Look well or ill with him." 
Fenton, in his "Certain Secret \Vonders of Nature" (1569), 
thus describes it : " The turkeys doth move when there is any 
evil prepared to him that weareth it." There were numer- 
ous other magical properties ascribed to the turquoise. Thus, 
it was supposed to lose its color entirely at the death of its 
owner, but to recover it when placed upon the finger of a 
new and healthy possessor. It was also said that whoever 
wore a turquoise, so that either it or its setting touched the 
skin, might fall from any hcight, the stone attracting to 
itself the whole force of the blow. \Vith the Germans, the 
turquoise is still the gem approp:iated to the ring, the 
"gage d'amour," presented b) the loyer on the acceptance 
of his suit, the permanence of its color being believed to 
depend npon the constancy of his affection.  

 "Glossary," p. 465. 
 See C. W. King on " Precious Stones," I867, p. :67. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

SPORTS ANI) PASTIMES. 

VERV many ofthe old sports and pastimcs ill popular use" 
in Shakespcare's day have long ago hot only been laid aside, 
but, in the course of ycars, bave becomc entirely forgotten. 
This is to be rcgretted, as a great number of thcse capital 
diversions were admirably suited both for in and out of 
doors, the simplicity which marked them being one of their 
distinguishing charms. That Shakespeare, too, took an in- 
tcrest in these good old sources of recreation, may be gath- 
ered from the frequcnt refcrence which he bas ruade to 
them ; lais mention of some childish gaine even serving oc- 
casionally as an illustration in a passage characterized by its 
force and vigor. 
Arckcz3,. In Shakespeare's day this was a very popular 
diversion, and the " Knights of l'rince Arthur's Round Ta- 
ble" was a society of archers instituted by Henry VIII., 
and encouraged in thc reign of Elizabeth.' Fitzstephen, 
who wrote in the reign of Henry II., notices it among the 
Sulmner pastimes of thc London youth; and the repeated 
statures, from the thirteenth to the sixtcenth century, enforc- 
ing the use of the bow, generally ordered the leisure rime 
upon holidays to be passed in its exercise? Shakespeare 
seems to have been intimately acquainted with the numer- 
ous terres connected with archery, many of which we find 
scattered throughout lais plays. Thus, in " Love's Labour's 
Lost" (iv. ), Maria uses the expression, " \Vide o' the bow 
hand," a term which signified a good deal to the left of the 
111 a rk. 

' See Drake's "Skakespeare and His Times," vol. ii. pp. i78-181. 
- Brand's "Pop. Antiq.," 87o, vol. il. p. _9 o. 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 395 
The "clout" was the nail or pin of the target, and " flom 
the passages," says Dyce,' " which I happcn to recollect in 
our early writcrs, I should say that the clout, or pin, stood 
in the centre of the inner circle of the butts, which circle, 
being painted white, was callcd the white ; that, to 'lait the 
white' was a considerable feat, but that to 'lait or cleave thc 
clout or pin ' was a much greater one, though, no doubt, the 
expressions were occasionally used to signify the saine thing, 
viz., to lait the mark." In " Love's Labour's Lost " I, iv. I), 
Costard says of Boyct : 
'" Indeed. a" must shoot nearer, or he'ii ne'er hit the ciout ;" 
and, in "e Ilenrv IV." (iii. 2), Shallow says of old Double: 
" He would have clapped i' the clout at twelve score "--that 
is, he would have hit the clout at twelve-score yards. And 
" King Lcar" (iv. 6) cmploys the phrase "i" the clout, i' the 
clout : hewgh !" 
In "Romeo and Juliet'" (il. 4, where Mercutio relates 
how Romeo is"shot thorough the ear with a love-song; the 
very pin of his heart clcft with the blind bow-boy's butt- 
shaft," the metaphor, of course, is ff-oto archery. 
The term " loose " was the technical one for the discharg- 
ing of an arrow, and occurs in " Love's Labour's Lost" (v. -"). 
According to Capell, - the words of ]3ottom, in "A Mid- 
summer-Night's Dream " (i. e, " hold, or cut bow-strings," 
were a proverbial phrase, and alluded to archery. "\Vhen a 
party was ruade at butts, assurance of meeting was given in 
the words of that phrase, the sense of the person using them. 
being that he would 'hold' or keep promise, or thcy might 
'cut lais bow-strings,' demolish him for ail archer." \Vhcther, 
adds Dyce, " this be the true explanation of the phrase, I 
am unable to deterlnine." 
All hid, all ltkt. Biron, in "Love's Labour's Lost " (iv. 3), 
no doubt means the gaine well-known as hide-and-seek, 
"Ail laid, ail laid ; an old infant play." The following note, 
however, in Cotgrave's " French and English Dictionary," 
has been adduced to show that he may possibly mcan blind- 

 "Glossary," p. 84. " "Glossary," p. 2o. 



396 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
man's-buff: "Clignemasset. The childish play called Hod- 
man-blind [Lc., blind-man's-buff], Harrie-racket, or .Are you 
all hid." 
£ackgammom The old naine for this gaine vas " Tables," 
as in " Love's Labour's Lost " (v. 2) : 
"This is the ape of form. monsieur the nice 
That. when he plays at tables, chides the dite." 
An interesting history of this game will be round in Strutt's 
" Sports and l'astimes " (I876, pp. 49-42 ). 
lCarhy-br«al«. This gaine, called also the" Last Couple in 
Hell," which is alluded to in the "Two Noble Kinsmen," 
(iv. 3), was playcd by six people, three of each sex, who were 
coupled by lot.' A piece of ground was then chosen, and 
divided into three compartments, of which the middle one 
was called hell. It was the object of the couple condemned 
to this division to catch the others, who advanced from the 
two extremities; in which case a change of situation took 
place, and hell was filled by the couple who were excluded 
by preoccupation from the other places. This catching, 
hqwever, was hOt so easy, as, by the rules of the gaine, the 
middle couple were hot to separate before they had suc- 
ceeded, while the others might break hands whenever they 
round themselves hard pressed. \Vhen all had been taken 
in turn, the last couple were said "to be in hell," and the 
gaine ended. 
The gaine was fi'equently mentioned by old writers, and 
appears to have been very popular. From tterrick's Poems, 
it is seen that the couples in their confinement occasionally 
solaced themselves by kisses : 
"'arly-3rcaZ" ,. or, Lasl Dz I:rdl. 
" We two are last in ]:ell ; what may we fear, 
To be tormented, or kept pris'nets here ? 
Alas. if kissing be of plagues the worst, 
We'll wish in hell we had been last and first." 

In Scotland it was called barla-breikis, and was, says 

, From Gifford's Note on Massinger's Works, Sr 3, vol. i. p. o4. 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 397 
Jamicson, "gcncrally playcd by young pcoplc in a corn- 
yard, hcncc its naine, barla-bracks, about thc stacks. ''1 Thc 
terre ' hcll," says Narcs,  " was indiscrcct, and must havc 
produccd many profane allusions, bcsidcs familiarizing what 
ought always to prescrvc its duc cffcct of awc upon thc 
mind." Both its namcs arc alludcd to iii the following 
passae in Ghirlcy's " Bird in a Cagc :" 
"Shall's to barlibreak ? 
I was in hell last ; 'ris little less to be in a petticoat sometimes." 
Jasc. This was a rustic amc, known also as " Prison 
base" or " Prison bars." It is mcntioncd in " Cymbclinc" 
(v. 3) by Posthumus : 
'" Lads more like to run 
The country base, than to commit such slaughtcr." 
And in " ]'wo Gentlcmcn of Verona" (i. 2) by Lucetta: 
" Indeed, I bid the base for Proteus." 
Thc succcss of this pastime dcpcndcd upon the aility of 
the candidatcs, and thcir skill in running. Early in thc 
reign of Edward III. i-t is spoken of as a childish amuse- 
ment, and was prohibited to be played in the avenues of the 
palace at \Vestminstcr during the session of l'arliamcnt, 
because of the interruption it occasioned to the mcmbers 
and others in passing to and fro as their business required. 
It was also played by mon, and especially in Chcshire and 
other adjoining counties, where it seems to havc bcen in 
high repute among all classes. Strutt thus describes the 
game:" "The performance of this pastime requires two 
parties of equal lmtnber, each of them having a base or 
home to themselves, at the distance of about tventy or 
thirty yards. Thc players thcn on either side, taking hold 
of hands, extcnd themselves in length, and opposite to each 
other, as filr as they conreniently can, always remembering 
that one of them must touch the bas.e. \Vhen any one of 
I See Jamieson's "Scottish Dictionary," 879, vol. i. p. I 
" " Glossary," vol. i. p. 57.  Ibid. vol. i. p. 58. 
* "Sports and Pastimes," 876, p. t43- 



398 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
thcm quits thc hand of his fcllow and runs into the field, 
which is called giving the chasc, he is immediately followed 
by one of lais opponents. He is again followcd by a second 
from the former side, and ho by a second opponent, and so 
on alternately until as many are out as choose to run, ex'ery 
onc pursuing the man he first followed, and no other; and 
if he overtake him near enough to touch him, his party 
claires ont towards thcir gaine, and both return home. 
Thcy thcn run forth again and again in like manncr until 
the number is complcted that dccides the victory. This 
number is optional, and rarcly excccds twcnty." 
The phrase to " bid the base," mcans to run fast, chal- 
lcning another to pursue. It occurs again in "Venus and 
Adonis :" 
"To bid thc wind a base he now prcpares." 
In .qpenscr's " Fairy Quccn " (bk. v. canto 8), wc read : 
"So ran they ail as they had been at base, 
They being chased that did others chase." 
lYat-fow[it. This sport, which is noticcd in " The Tcm- 
pest" (ii. I) by Sebastian, was conllnon in days gone by. 
is minutely described in Markham's " Hunger's Prevention "' 
t 6oo, which is quoted by Dyce.' The terre '" bat-fowling," 
however, had another signification, savs Mr. Harting,-" in 
Shakcspeare's da)', and it may have becn in this secondary 
sense that it is used in " The Tempcst,'" being a slang word 
for a particular mode of cheating. Bat-fowling was prac- 
tiscd about dusk, when the rogue pretended to bave 
dropped a ring or a jewel at the door of some well-fur- 
 "Glossary,'" pp. 29, 3 o. 
- See Harting's " Ornithology of Shakespeare," p. 56; Strutt's 
" Sports and Pastimes," 1876. p. 98. A simple mode of bat-fowling, 
by means of a large clap-net and a lantern, and called bird-batting, is 
alluded to in Fielding's '" Joseph Andrews" (bk. il. chap. x.). Drake 
thinks that it is to a stratagem of this kind Shakespeare alludes when 
he paints Buckingham exclaiming ('" Henry VIII." i. ) : 
"The net has fall'n upon me; I shall perish 
Under device and practice." 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 399 
nished shop, and, going in, asked the apprentice oftbe house 
to light his candle to look fol" it. After some peering about 
the bat-fowler would drop the candle as if by accident. 
" Now, I pray you, good young man," he would sa3" , " do 
so much as light the candle again." 'lVhile the boy was 
away the rogue plundcred the shop, and having stolen ev- 
erything he could find stole himself away. 
i//iarts. Shakespeare is guilty of an anachronisln in 
"Antony and Cleopatra" Iii. 5), where he makes Cleopatra 
say: " Let's to billiards "--the gaine beillg ullkuowl to the 
ancients. The lnodcrn rnalmcr ofplaying at billiards diffcrs 
froln that forlnerly iii tlse. 2t the commencement of the 
last century,' thc billiard-tablc was square, haviug only three 
pockets for thc balls to run in, situated on one ofthe sides-- 
that is, at each corucr, and the third between them. About 
the middle of the table a small arch of iron was placed, and 
at a little distance from it an upright cone callcd a king. At 
certain periods of the gaine it was necessary for the balls to 
be driven through thc one and round the other, without 
knocking either of them down, which was hot easily cffcct- 
ed, because they were hOt fastcned to the table. 
];om'-acc. This old gaine, popularly called " One-and 
Thirty," is alluded to by Grulnio in" Talning of the Shrew" 
(i. 2): " \Vell, was it fit for a servant to use his lnaster so; 
being, perhaps, for aught I see, two-and-thirty--a pip out." ' 
It was very like the French gaine of " Vingt-un," only a 
longer reckoning. Stlutt  says that " perhaps Bone-ace is 
the same as the game called Ace of Hearts, prohibited with 
all lotteries by cards and dice, Ail. i2 Geor. II., Cap. 38, 
sect. 2." It is mentioned in Massinger's " Fatal Dowry" 
(il. 2): "You thiuk, because you served my lady's mother, 
[you] are thirty-two years old, which is a pip out, you know." 
The phrase "to be two-and-thirty," a pip out, was ail old 
cant terre applied to a person who was intoxicated. 
o-iPc ŒEE. This nursery amusement, which consisted in 

 Strutt's "Sports and Pastimes," 876, p. 396. 
 A pip is a spot upon a card. 
 "Sports and Pastimes,"  876, p. 436. 



400 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE.. 
peeping from behind something, and crying " ]30 !" is re- 
ferred to by the Fool in " King Lear " (i. 4) : " That such a 
king should play bo-peep." In Sherwood's Dictionary it 
is defined, " Jeu d'ellfant ; ou (plustost) des nourrices aux 
petits ellfallS; se cachans le visage et puis se moustrant." 
Minsheu's derivation of bo-peep, flom the noise which chick- 
cns lnake when they corne out of the shell, is, says Douce,' 
more whimsical than just. 
ou,/s. Frequent allusions occur to this game, which 
seems to have been a popular pastime in olden rimes. The 
small ball, now callcd the jack, at which the players aim, was 
sometilnes tcrlned the " mistress." Ill " Troilus and Cres- 
sida" (iii. 2), l'andarus says : "So, so ; rub = o11, and kiss the 
mistress." 2\ bowl that kisses the jack, or mistress, is in the 
most advantageous positiou ; hence "to kiss the jack" served 
to deuote a state of great advantage. Thus, iii "Cymbeline" 
(ii. ), Cloten exclaims, " XVas there ever man had such luck 
when I kissed the jack, upon ai1 up-cast to be hit away ! I 
had a hundred pouud on't." There is another allusion to 
this gaine, according to Staunton, in " King John " (il. ): 
"on the outward eye of fiche France"--the aperture on 
one side which contains the bias or weight that inclines the 
bowl in running rion1 a direct course, beillg sometinles called 
the eye. 
A furthcr reference to this gaine occurs in the following 
dialogue in " Richard 1I." (iii. 
" 0ucrn. What sport shall we devise here in this garden, 
To drive away the heavy thought of care ? 
 Lady. Madam. we'll play at bowls. 
0u«o,. 'Twill make me think the world is full of rubs, 
And that my fortune runs against the bias" 
--the Mes, as statcd above, being a weight inserted in olle 
side of a bowl, in order to give it a particular inclination in 

 " Illustrations of Shakespeare, » p. 4o 5. 
"-' Rubis still a terre at the gaine, expressive of the movement of the 
halls. Cf. " King Lear" (il. 2), and " Love's Labour's Lost" (iv. , 
where I3oyet, speaking of the game, says : "I fear too much rubbing." 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 401 
bowling. " To run against the bias," therefore, became a 
proverb. Thus, to quote anothcr instance, in the "Tam- 
ill of the Shrew" (iv. 5) Petruchio says : 
",Vcll, forward, forward ! thus the bowl should run, 
And hot unluckily against the bias." 
And in " Troilus and Cressida " (iv. 5), thc terre "bias- 
check" is used to denote a cheek swelling out like the bias 
of a bowl.' 
Çards. Some of the old terres connected with card-play- 
in are curious, a fcw of which are alluded to by Shakespearc. 
Thus, in " King Lear" (v. ), Edmund says- 
" And hardly shall I carrv out mv side." 
alluding to thc card table, whcre to cam 3- out a side meant 
to carl-y out the gaine with your partne" successfully. So, 
" to set up a side" was to become partners in the gaine; 
" to pull or pluck down a sigle" was to lose it? 
A lurch at cards dcnoted an easy victorx-. So, in " Çorio- 
Ianus" (ii. 2), Cominius says: " he lurch'd al! swords of the 
garland," mcaning, as Malone say's, that Criolanus gained 
flore all other warriors the wreath of victory, with ease, and 
incontestable superiority. 
A pack of cards was formerly termed "a dccl of cards," 
as in "3 Henry VI." (v. 
"The king was slily finger'd ff'oto the deck." 
Again, "to vie" was also a terre at cards, and meant par- 
ticularly to increase the sta]¢es, and generally to challenge 
any one to a contention, bet, wagcr, etc. qo, Cleopatra 
(v. 2), says: 
" nature wants stuff 
To vie strange forms with fancv." 
Ç/«r,3'-p#. This consisted in throwing- cherry stones into 
a little hole--a gaine, says Nares, still practised with dumps 

t Halliwell-Phillipps' " Handbook Index to Shakespeare," p. 43- 
 Staunton's " Shakespeare," vol. iii. p. 592. 
26 



ro 2 rOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
or moncy.' In "Twelffh Night" (iii. 4), Sir Toby alludes to 
it: ".Vhat, man! 'tis hot for gravity to play at cherry-pit 
with Satan." Nash, in his " Picrcc Pcnnilesse," speaking of 
the disfiguremcnt of ladics' faces by painting, says: "You 
may play at chcrry-pit in thc dint of thcir chceks." 
C/««ss. As might be cxpccted, sevcral allsions occur 
Shakespeare's plays to this popular gaine. In " The Tcm- 
pest" (v. ), Ferdinand and Miranda arc rcprescnted playing 
at it ; and in " King John " (il. ), Elinor says: 
"That thou mayst be a queen, and check the world 
In the "Taming of the Shrew" (i. ), Katharina asks: 
"I pray you, sir, is it your will 
To make a stale * of me amongst thesc mates ?" 
alluding, as Douce  suggests, to thc chess terre ofstal«-¢ml«, 
which is used whcn the gaine is endcd by the king being 
alone and unchecked, and thon forced into a situation florn 
which he is unable to move without going into check. This 
is a dishonorable terrnination to the adversary, who thereby 
loses the garne. Thus, in Bacou's Twelfth Essay: "They 
stand still like a stale at cbess, whcre it is no mate, but yet 
the gamc cannot stir." 
Dite. Among the notices of this gaine, may be quoted 
that in " tlenry V." (iv. prologue) : 
"The confident and ox'er-lusty French 
Do the low-rated English play at dice." 
Edgar, in " King Lear" (iii. 4), says : " .Vine loved I deep- 
ly, dice dearly." Pistol, in " Merry .Vives of \Vindsor" (i. 3), 
gives a double allusion : 
" Let vultures gripe thy guts .--for gourd and fullam holds, 
And high and low beguiles the rich and poor." 
" Gourds" were false dice, with a secret cavity scooped out 

' See Brand's "Pop. Antiq.," vol. ii. p. 409. 
« She means, " Do you intend to make a mockery of me among 
these companions ?" 
" " Illustrations of Shakspeare," p. 20. 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 403 
like a gourd. " Fullams" were also false dice," loaded with 
metal on one side, so as botter te» produce high throws, or 
to turn up low numbers, as was rcquircd, and werc hcnce 
named 'high men' or'low men,' also'high fullams' and'loxv 
fullams.'"' It has becn suggested that dice wcre termcd 
f¢«ll«ms either because Fulham was the resort of sharpers, 
or because they werc principally manufactured tbere. 
D¢«¢, is i« t/ce mire. This is a Christmas sport, which 
Gifford" describes as follows : "A log of wood is brought 
into the midst of the room: this is/)«« (the cart-horse),and 
a cry is raised that he is stuck in the mire. Two of the 
company advance, eithcr with or without ropes, to draw him 
out. After rcpeated attcmpts, thcy find themselves unable 
to do it, and call for more assistance. The gaine continues 
till ail the company take part in it, when Dun is extricated. 
Much merriment is occasioned ri'oto the awkward efforts of 
the rustics to lift the log, and rioto sundry arch contrivances 
to let the ends of it fall on one another's toes. Thus, in 
" Romeo and Juliet " (i. 4"), Mercutio says : 
"If thou art dun. we'll draw thee from the mire." 
Bcaumont and Flctcher, also, in the "\Voman Itater" 
(ix'. ».,' allude to this gaine: 
" Dun's in the mire, get out again how he tan." 
tst at«l Loosc. This was a cheatiug gaine, much prac- 
tised in Shakespeare's day, whereby gypsies and other va- 
grants beguiled the common people of their money: and 
hence was ver2,,often to be seen at faits. Its other naine 
was " pricking at the belt or girdle ;" and it is thus described 
by Sir J. Hawkins: "A leathern belt was ruade up into a 
number of intricate folds, and placed edgewise upon a table. 
One of the folds was ruade to resemble the middle of the 
girdle, so that whoever could thrust a skewer into it would 
tl:,ink he held it fast to the table; whereas, when he has so 
done, the person with whom he plays may take hold ofboth 

Gifïord's note on Jonson's Works, vol. ii. p. 3. 
Ibid., vol. vil. p. 283. 



404 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
ends, and draw it away." In "_Antony and Cleopatra" 
(iv.  2), Antony says : 
" Like a right gypsy, bath, at fast and loose, 
13eguil'd tue to the very heart of loss." 
The driff of this gaine seems to bave bcen to encourage 
wagers whether the belt was fast or loose, which the juggler 
could easily make it at his option. It is constantly alluded 
to by old writers, and is thus described in Drayton's" Moon- 
calf:" 
"He like a gypsy oftentimes would go, 
Ail kinds of gibberish he bath learn'd to know, 
And with a stick, a short string, and a noose, 
Would show the people tricks at fast and loose." 
.Fccbg'. In years gonc by, thcre were three degrees in 
fcncing, a toaster's, a provost's, and a scholar's.' To each of 
thcse a prize was played, with various wcapons, in some open 
place or square. In " Titus A_ndronicus" (i. ), this practice 
is alluded to by Saturninus: 
"So, Bassianus, you have play'd your prize." 
In the " Mcrry \Vives of \Vindsor" (i. I), Slender says : " I 
bruised my shin th' other day with playing at sword and 
dagger with a toaster of fence," i. e., with one who had taken 
lais master's degree in the science. 
Among the numerous allusions to fencing quoted by 
Shakespeare may be mentioned the following : " Venue or 
veney" was a fcncing terre, meaning an attack or hit. It is 
used in the " Merry \Vives of Windsor" (i. ), by Slender, 
who relates how he bruised his shin "with playing at sword 
and dagger with a toaster of fence ; three veneys for a dish 
of stewed prunes." It is used metaphorically in "Love's 
Labour's Lost" (v. ), for a brisk attack, by Armado: "A 
sweet touch, a quick venue of wit! snip, snap, quick and 
home! ''= The Italian terre " Stoccado " or " Stoccata," ab- 

' See Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. 3. 
 See Nares's "Glossary," vol. il. p. 99- 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 405 
breviated also into " Stock," seems to bave had a similar 
signification. In " Romeo and Juliet" (iii. 1), Mcrcutio, 
drawing lais sword, says : 
"Alla stoccata carries it away." 
In the " Merry \Vives of \Vindsor" (il. ), it is used by Shal- 
low: "In these times )-ou stand on distance, your passes, 
stoccadoes, and I know hot what." Again, " Montant," an 
abbreviation of Montanto, denoted an upright blow or thrust, 
and occurs also in the " Mcrry \Vives of \Vindsor" (il. 3), 
where the IIost tells Caius that he, with the others, has corne 
--" to see thee pass thy punto, thy stock, thy reverse, thy dis- 
tance, thy montant." I Ience, in " Much Ado About Noth- 
ing" (i. 1), Bcatrice jocularly calls Benedick " Signior 
tanto," mcaning to imply that he was a great fencer. Of 
the other old fencing terres quoted in the passage above, it 
appears that " passado" implied a pass or motion forwards. 
It occurs in " Romeo and Juliet" (ii. 4], where Mcrcutio 
speaks of the "immortal passado! the punto reverso 
Again, iii " Love's Labour's Lost" (i. ci, Armado says of 
Cupid that "The passado he respects not, the duello he re- 
gards hot." The "punto reverso" was a backhanded thrust 
or stroke, and the terre " distance" was the space between 
the antagonists. 
Shakespeare has also alluded to othcr fencing terms, such 
as the " foin," a thrust, which is used by the l lost in the 
" Merry \Vives of\Vindsor" (iii. 2), and in" Much Ado About 
Nothing" (v. , where Antonio says, in his heated conversa- 
tion with Leonato: 
"Sir boy, I'I1 whip you from your foinlng fence ; 
Nay, as I ara a gentleman. I will." 
The term " traverse" denoted a posture of opposition, and 
is used by the Host in the " Merly \Vives of \Vindsor" (.il. 3). 
A " bout," too, is another fencing terre, to which the King 
refers in " Hamlet " (.iv. 7): 
"When in your motion you are hot and dr T- 
.As make your bouts more violent to that end." 



406 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
l;illi[i t/w Taad. This is a common and crucl divcrsion 
of boys. Thcy lay a board, two or thrce feet long, at right 
anglcs ovcr a transvcrse piece two or three inches thick, 
thcn, placing thc toad at onc cnd ofthe board, the other end 
is struck by a bat or large stick, which throws the poor toad 
forty or fifty feet perpendicularly from the earth; and the 
f, tll generally kills it. In " 2 tIcnry IV." (i. 2), Falstaffsays: 
"" If I do, fillip me with a thrce-man beetlc." ' 
tTajt,-dra,_¢olt. " This pastime was much in use in days 
gonc by. _A_ small combustible body was set on tire, and 
put afloat in a glass of liquor. The courage of the toper 
was tricd in thc attempt to toss offthe glass in such a man- 
ner as to prevent thc flap-dragon doing mischicf--raisins in 
hot brandy being the usual flap-dragons. hakespeare sev- 
eral times mentions this custom, as in " Love's Labour's 
Lost" (v. t) where Costard says: " Thou art easier swal- 
lowed than a flap-dragon." And in " 2 tIenry IV." (il. 4), 
ho makes Falstaff sa)': "and drinks off candles' ends for 
flap-d ragons.'"  
It appears that formcrly gallants used to vie with each 
other in drinking offflap-dragons to the health of their mis- 
tresses--which werc sometimes even candlcs' ends, swimming 
in brandy or other strong spirits, whence, when on tire, thcy 
were snatched by the mouth aud swallowed;* an allusion 
to which occurs in the passage above. As candles' ends 
ruade the most formidable flap-dragon, the greatest merit 
was ascribed to the heroism ofswallowing theln. Ben Jon- 
son, in " The Masque ofthe Moon " (838, p. 66, ed. Gifford), 
says: " But none that  ill hang themseh-es for love, or eat 
candles' ends, etc., as thc sublunary loyers do." 

: A three-man beetle is a heavy implement, with three handles, used 
in driving piles, etc.. which required three men to lift it. 
"- A correspondent of " Notes and Oueries," 2d series, vol. vil. p. 277, 
suggests as a derivation the German scl,t«t515s, spirit, and dracle, drag- 
on, and that it is equivalent to spirit-fire. 
= Cf. " Winter's Tale" (iii. 3) : " But to make an end of the ship,--to 
see how the sea flap-dragoned it." 
* See Narcs's '" Glossary," vol. i. p. 3t, 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 407 
[;'ooI3a[[. An allusion fo this once highly popular gaine 
occurs in "Comedy of Errors" (il. I). Dromio of Ephesus 
asks : 
"Am I so round with you as you with me, 
That like a football you do spurn me thus? 
If I last in this service, you must case me in leather." 

In " King Lear" (i. 4), Kent calls Oswald "a base foot- 
ball player." 
According to Strutt,  it does hot appcar among thc popu- 
lar exorcises belote the reign of Edward III.; and thon, 
in 349, it was prohibitcd by a public cdict bccausc it im- 
pcdcd the progress of archcry. The danger, howcvcr, at- 
tcnding this pastimc occasioncd James I. to say: "From 
this Court I debarre all rough and violent exorcises, as thc 
football, mceter for laming than making able the users 
thereof." 
Occasionally the rustic boys made use of a blown bladdcr, 
without the covcring of leathcr, by way of a football, putting 
bcans and horse-beans inside, which ruade a rattling noise as 
it was kicked about. Barclay, in his " Ship of Fools" ( 508) 
thus graphically describes it : 

" Howe in the winter, when men kill the fat swine, 
They get the bladder and blow it great and thin, 
With many beans or peason put within : 
It ratleth, soundcth, and shineth clerc and fayre, 
While it is thrown and caste up in the ayre, 
Eche one contendeth and hath a great delite 
With foote and with bande the bladder for to smite ; 
If it fall to grounde, they lifte it up agayne, 
This wise to labour they count it for no payne." 

Shrovetide was the great season for football matches;"- and 
at a comparati'ely recent period it was played in Derby, 
Nottingham, Kingston-upon-Thames, etc. 

Sports and Pasti,nes," pp. 16& 16 9. 
Sec " British Popular Customs," 876, pp. 78.83, 87.4oi. 



408 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Gl««d'. According to Drake,' ths gaine is alludcd to twice 
by Shakcspeare--in "A Midsummer-Night's Dream" (iii. 
" Nay. I can gleek upon occasion." 
And in " Romeo and Juliet" (iv. 5): 
"" ! Jl,tsz'ck**. What will you give us ? 
Peler. No money, on my faith, but the gleek." 
Doucc, however, considers that the word I««A" was simply 
used to express a stronger sort of jokc, a scoffing" and that 
thc phrase " to give thc gleek" merely denoted to pass a 
jest upon, or to make a pcrson appear ridiculous. 
//«m/3'-d«m0'. A very old game among children. A 
child hides something in his hand, and makes his playfellow 
guess in which hand it is. If the latter guess rightly, he 
wins the article, if wrongly, he loses an equivalcnt.' Some- 
times, says Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, " the gaine is played by a 
sort of sleight-of-hand, changing the article rapidly from one 
hand into the other, so that the looker-on is often deceived, 
and induced to naine the hand into which it is apparently 
thrown." This is what Shakespeare alludes to by " change 
places" in " King Lear" (iv. 6) : " see how yond justice rails 
upon yond simple thief. Hark, in thine ear: change places; 
and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief ?" 
Hid«-fi.r ald «ll aller. A children's gaine, considered by 
many to be identical with hide-and-seek. It is mentioned 
by Hamlet (iv. 2). Some commentators think that the tenn 
"kid-fox," in " Much Ado About Nothing" (il. 35, may have 
been a tcchnical terre in the gaine of "hide-fox." Some 
editions have printed it " hid-fox." Claudio says : 
.' 0. very. welL my lord : the music ended. 
We'll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth." 
Ioodma,l-bli,d. The childish sport now called blind- 
man's buff was known by various names, such as hood-wink, 

" Shakespeare and his Times," vol. il. p. ,7o; see Douce's '" Illus- 
trations of Shakspeare," pp. I I8, 435. 
 Dyce's " Glossary." p. '99. 
 See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," I849, vol. ii. p. 420. 



SPORTS AND PASTIhIES. 40 9 
blind-hob, etc. It was termed "Imodman-blind," because 
the players formerly were blinded with their hoods, 1 and 
under this designation it is mentioned by Hamlet (iii. 4) : 
"What devil was't 
That thus bath cozen'd you at hoodman-blind ?" 
In Scotland this gaine was called " belly-bliud ;" and Gay, 
in his " Shephcrd's \Veek" (i. 96), says, concerning it : 
"As once I play'd at blindman's buff. it hapt 
About my eyes the towel thick was wrapt. 
I miss'd the swains, and seiz'd on Bl«mzelind. 
True speaks that ancient proverb. ' Love is blind.'" 
Thc tcrm " hoodman" occurs in " All's \Vcll that Ends 
\Vell" (,iv. 3")- Thc First I.ord says : " Hoodman cornes !" and 
no doubt there is an allusion to the game in the saine play 
(iii. 6), "we will bind and hoodwink him ;" and in " Mac- 
beth" (iv. 3) Macduff says: " the time you may so hood- 
wink." There may also have been a refcrence to falconry--- 
the hawks being hooded in the intervals of sport. Thus, in 
Latham's '" Falconry" (I615), " to hood " is the terre uscd 
for the blinding, " to unhood " for the unblinding. 
Hrs«-ra«b«g. That this diversion was in Shakespeare's 
day occasionally practised iii the spirit of the modern turf is 
evident from " Cymbeline" (iii. 2) : 
"I have heard of riding wagers, 
Where horses have been nimbler than the sands 
That run i' the clock's behalf." 
Burton, ' too, who wrote at the close of the Shakespearian 
era, mentions the ruinous consequences of this recreation: 
" Horse faces are desports of great men, and good in them- 
selves, though many ge,t!emen by such means gallop quite 
out of their fortunes." 
Z«at-frog. One boy stoops down with his hands upon 
 See Strutt's "Sports and Pastimes," pp. 499, 5 °o ; Brand's " Pop. 
Antiq.," 849, vol. il. pp. 397,398. 
 "Anatomy of Melancholy ;" Drake's "Shakespeare and His Times," 
vol. ii. p. :98. 



410 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
his knees, and others lcap over lfim, every one of thcm run- 
ning forward and stooping in his turn. It is mentioned by 
Shakespeare in " Henry V." (v. 2), where he makes the king 
sa3,, "If I could win a lady at leap-frog, or by vaulting into 
my saddle with my armour on my back, . . . I should quicldy 
lcap into a wifc." Ben Jonson, in his comedy of" Barthol- 
ommv Fait," speaks of "a leappe frogge chance note." 
Laug/»amt-li«-do'u,, (more properly laugh-and-lay-down ) 
was a gaine at cards, to which there is an allusion in the 
"Two Noble Kinsmen" (ii. I): 
"/:**ihi. l could laugh now. 
Il "«i[i*gr-¢t'o**m*¢. I could lie down, I'm sure." 
Lo,at. The gaine so called rescmblcs bowls, but with 
notable diffcrences.' First, it is played, not on a grcen, but 
on a floor strewed with ashes. The jack is a wheel of lig- 
ature ,ilv, or othcr hard wood, nine inches in diamctcr, and 
thrce or four inchcs thicl« Thc loggat, ruade of apple- 
wood, is a truncated cone, twcnty-six or twenty-seven 
inches in Icngth, tapcring ff'oto a girth of cight and a half 
to nine inches at one end to three and a hall or four inches 
at the other. Each player has three loggats, which he 
throws, holding lightly the thin end. The object is to fie 
as ncar thc jack as possible. Hamlet speaks of this gaine 
(v. ): " I)id these bones cost no more the breeding, but to 
play at loggats with 'cm ?" comparing, pcrhaps, the skull to 
the jack at which the boncs wcre thrown. In Ben Jonson's 
"Tale of a Tub" (if. 5) wc rcad : 
"Now are they tossing of lais le.s and arms, 
Like loggets at a pear-tree." 
Sir Thomas Hanmer makes the gaine the saine as nine- 
pins or skittles. He says : " It is one of thc unlawful gaines 
enumeratcd in the Thirty-third statutc of ttenry VIII.;= it 
is the saine which is now called kittle-pins, in which the boys 
' Clark and Wright's " Notes to Hamlet," 1876, pp. al2, 213. 
= See Strutt's "Sports and Pastimes," p. 365 ; Nares's "Glossary," 
vol. ii. p. 522. 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 41 I 
often make use of bones instead of wooden pins, throwing 
at them with anothcr bone instead of bowling." 
3[ar[«s. It |las bccn suggested that thcrc is an allusion 
to this pastimc in " Mcasure for Mcasure" (i. 3) : 
" 13clicve hot that the dribblin dart of love 
Çan pierce a complete bosom." 
--dribbling bcing a tcrm ued in thc gamc of marbles for 
shooting slowly along thc round, in contradistinction to 
p[u»«2i« , which is elcvating thc hand so that thc marble 
does hot touch the ground till it reachcs thc objcct f its 
aire.' According to othcrs, a dribbler was a tcrm in archcry 
expressive of contcmpt2 
3[«tss. This was a phrase for a scramble, when any 
small objects were thrown down, to be taken by those who 
could seize them. In "Antony and Cleopatra" (iii. 3), An- 
tony says : 
"Likc boys unto a muss, kings would start forth." 
The word is used by Dryden, in the Prologue to the " \Vid- 
ow Ranter :" 

" Bauble and cap no sooner are thrown down 
But there's a muss of more than hall the town." 

2Vi, w-3[cu's-3Arris. This rustic gaine, which is still ex- 
tant in some parts of England, was sometimcs called " the 
nine men's merrils," from mcrc[lcs, or m¢'rcalt.t', an anc[ent 
French word for the jettons or counters with which it was 
played.* The other terre, mol'ris, is probably a corruption 
suggestcd by the sort ofdance which, in thc progress of the 
gaine, thc counters pcrformed. Some consider' that it was 
identical with the gaine kmwn as " Nine-holes, "' mentioned 
b.v Herrick in his "' I lesperidcs :" 

' Baker's " Northamptonshire Glossary," 854. vol. i. p. I98. 
"- See Dyce's "" Glossary," p. t 34. 
 Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. I44. 
 See Nares's "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 6o 5. 
» See Strutt's " Sports and Pastimes," I876, pp. 368, 369 . 



4i 2 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"Raspe playes at nine-holes, and 'tis known he gets 
Many a tester by his game, and bets." 
Cotgrave speaks of " Le jeu des mcrelle.," the boyish 
gaine called " merills," or " rive pcnnie morris," played here 
most commonly with stones, but in France with pawns or 
men ruade Oll purpose, and termed "merelles." It was also 
called " 
r b morris," as is evidenced by Clare, who, in his 
" Rural ' " 
Muse, speaking of the shcpherd boy, says: 
" Ift we may track his haunts, where he hath been 
To spend the leisure which his toils bestow. 
Bv nine-peg morris nicked upon the green." 
Thc gaine is fully described by Jamcs, in the " Variorum 
Shakcst»carc," as follows: " In that part of 'Varwickshire 
where Shakcspcare was educated, and the neighbouring 
parts of Northamptonshire, the shcpherds and other boys 
dig up the turf with thcir knives to represent a sort of im- 
pcrfect chessboard. It consists of a square, sometimes onl)- 
a foot diamctcr, sometimes three or four yards. 'Vithin 
this is another square, evcry side of which is parallel to the 
external square ; and these squares are joined by lines drawn 
from each corner of both squares, and the middle of each 
line. One party or player has wooden pegs, the other stones, 
which they more in such a manner as to take up each oth- 
er's mon, as they are called, and the area ofthe innersquare 
is called thc pound, in which the men taken up are impound- 
ed. These figures are, by the country people, called 
m«,'s-morris, or m«rri[s; and are so called because each party 
bas niue men. These figures are always cut upon the green 
turf or leys, as theyare called, or upon the grass at the end of 
ploughed lands, and in rainy scasons never fail to be choked 
up with mud." This verifies the allusion ruade by Shake- 
speare in " A Midsummer-Night's Dream " (ii. ): 
"The nine men's morris is fill'd up with mud ; 
And the quaint mazes in the wanton green, 
For lack of tread are undistinguishable." 
This game was also transferred to a board, and continues a 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 4i 3 
fireside recreation of the agricultural laborer. It is often 
called by the naine of " Mill," or "Shcphcrd's Mill. ''' 
Aoddy. Some doubt exists as to what gaine at cards was 
signified by this term. It has been suggestcd that cribbage 
is meant. Mr. Singer thinks it bore somc resemblance to 
the more rccent gaine of" Beat the Knave out of Doors," 
which is mentioned together with " Ruffand new coat" in 
lleywood's play of "A \Voman Killed with Kindness." 
The gaine is probably alluded to in " Troilus and Cressida" 
(i. 2), in the following dialogue : 
"ta¢ær¢«s. When cornes Troilus ?--I'll shov you Troilus anon: 
if he see me, you shall see him nod at me. 
Crêssi?a. Will he give you the nod ? 
tld«'ltS. ÇOU shall see. 
Cr«ssih. If he do, the rich shall bave more."  
The terre " noddy" was also applied to a fool, because, says 
lIinsheu, he nods when he should speak. In this sense it 
occurs in "Two Gentlemen of Verona" (i. ): 
;«car. You mistook, sir : I sa}-, she did nod ; and you ask me, if 
she did nod  and I say, ' Ay.' 
l)ro[«tts. And that set together is noddy." 
X5'cm Quitqu«. A gaine of dice, so caIled from its prin- 
cipal throws being rive and nine. It is alluded to in " I.ove's 
Labour's Lost "" (v. 2) by Biron, who speaks of it simply as 
" novem." 
t'«rish-lot. Formerlva top was kept for public exercise 
in a parish--a custom to which the old writers often refer. 
Thus, in " Twelfth Night " (i. 3), :Sir Toby Belch says : " He's 
a coward, and a coystril, that will hOt drink to my niece till 
his brains turn o' the toe like a parish-top." On which pas- 
sage Mr. Steevens says: " z\ large top was kept in evcrv 
village, to be whipped in frosty weathcr, that the pcasants 
might be kept warm by exercise, and out of mischief while 
they could not worl«" Beaumont and Fletcher, in '" Thierry 
and Theodoret" (il. 3), speak of the practice : 
 See Brand's "Pop. Antiq.," 849. vol. il. pp. 4-'9, 43-'- 
 See Nares's "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 6o6. 



44 

FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

" l'll hazard 
My lire upon it, that a body of twelve 
Should scourge him hither like a parish top, 
And make him dance before you." 

And in thcir " Night Valker" (i. 3) thcy mention the 
" town-top." Evelyn, cnumcrating the uses of willow-wood, 
spcaks of "great town-topps." Mr. Knight I remarks that 
the custom which existed in the rime of Elizabeth, and 
probably long before, of a large top being provide.d for the 
amuscmelat of the peasants in frosty weather,.presents a 
curious illustration of the mitigating influences of social 
kindlaess in an age of penal lcgislation. 
l'rilm'ra. In Shakcspeare's time this was a very fashion- 
able gaine at cards, and hencc is frequently alluded to by 
him. It was klloWll under the various designations of 
moto, Pri,le, and Pritaz,ista ; and, according to Strutt, = has 
bcen reckoned alnong the most ancient gaines of cards 
known to bave becn played in England. Shakespeare 
spcaks of IIenry VIII. (v. ) playing at p,imero with the 
Duke of Suffolk, and makes Falstaff exclaim, in " Mer, T 
Wives of Windsor" (iv. 5), " I never prospered since I for- 
swore myself at prilnero." That it was the court gaine is 
shown in a very curious picture described by Mr. Barrington, 
in the "Archmologia" (,vol. viii. p. I3e ), which represents 
Lord Burleigh playing at this pastime with three other no- 
blemen. Primero continued to be the most fashionable 
gaine throughout the reigns of Henry VIII., Edwa,'d VI., 
Mary, Elizabeth, and James I2 In the Earl of Northum- 
berland's letters about the Gunpowde,'-plot we find that 
Josccline Percy was playing at primero on Sunday, when 
lais uncle, the conspirator, called on him at Essex House; 
and in the Sydncy Papers thcre is an account of a quarrel 
bctwecn Lord Southalnpton and one Ambrose \Villoughby, 
on account of thc former pcrsisting to play at primero in 

 " Pictorial Shakespeare," vol. ii. p. t45. 
 " Sports and Pastimes. '» 
a Smith's "Festivals, Games and Amusements," 83 , p. 320. 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 4i 5 
the prcsencc-chamber after the queen had retired to rest. 
The manncr of playing was thus: Each player had four 
cards dealt to him one by one; the scvell was the highest 
card in point of number that he could avail himself of, which 
counted for twenty-one; the six counted for sixteen, the 
rive for fifteen, and the ace for the saine; but the two, the 
three, and the four for thcir respective points only. 
Thcre may be furthcr allusions to this gaine in " Taming 
of the Shrew" (il. ),where Tranio says: 
"A vengeance on your crafty, wither'd hide ! 
Yet I have faced it with a tard of ten "' 
--the phrase " to face it with a cald of ton" being dcrived, 
as some suggest, possibly ri-oin primero, wherein the stand- 
ing boldly Oll a ten was often successfld. " To face" ineant, 
as it still does, to attack by impudence of face. In " I I Ien- 
ry VI." (v. 3) Suffolk speaks ofa "cooling card," xvhich Narcs 
considers is borrowed rioto primero--a card so dccisive as 
to cool the courage ofthe adversarv. Gifford objects to this 
explanation, and says a " cooling-card " is, litcrally, a lolzts. 
There can bc no doubt, howcver, that, metaphorically, the 
terre was used to denote something which damped or over- 
whehned thc hopes of an expectant. Thus, in Flctcher's 
"Island Princess" (.i. 3), l'iniero says: 
"These hot youths 
I fear will find a cooling-card." 
t)us/«-i*t was a foolish sport, consisting iii nothing more 
than pushing one pin across another. I3i1"o11, in " Love's 
Labour's Lost " (iv. 3), speaks of Nestor playing "at push- 
pin with thc boys." 
Q,tb, lai¢¢. This was a figure set up for tilters to run at, 
in mock rescmblance of a tournament, and is alluded to in 
"As You Like It ". (i. 2) by Orlando, who says : 
"My better parts 
Are ail thrown down, and that which here stands up 
Is but a quintain, a mere lifeless block." 
It cannot be better or more minutely described than in the 



416 

FOLK-LORE OF SIfAKESPEARE. 

words of Mr. Stlutt: 1 "Tilting or combating at the quin- 
tain is a military exorcise of high antiquity, and antecedent, 
I doubt hot, to the jousts and tournaments. The quintain 
originally was nothing lnore than the trunk of a tree or post 
set up for the practice ofthe tyros in chivalry. Afterwards 
a staff or spear was fixed in the earth, and a shield being 
hung upoll it, was the lnark to strike at. Thc dexterity of 
the performer consisted in smiting the shield in such a man- 
lier as to brcak the ligatures and bcar it to the ground. In 
proccss of time this diversion was improved, and instead of 
a staff and thc shield, the resemblance of a human figure 
carved in wood was introduced. To rendcr the appearance 
of this figure more forlnidable, it was generally made iii the 
likeness of a Turk or a Saracen, armed at ail points, bearing 
a shicld upon lais left arln, and brandishing a club or a sabre 
with lais right. The quintain thus fashioned was placed 
upon a pivot, and so coutrived as to more round with facil- 
ity. In rulming at this figure, it was necessary for the horse- 
man to direct lais lance with great adroitness, and make lais 
stroke upon the forehead between the eyes, or upon the 
nose; for if he struck wide of those parts, especially upon 
the shield, thc quintain turned about with much velocity, 
and, in case he was hOt exceedingly careful, would give him 
a severe blow upon the back with the wooden sabre held in 
the right hand, which was considered as highly disgraceful 
to the performer, while it excited the laughter and ridicule 
of the spectators. '' In Ben Jonson's " Underwoods" it is 
thus humorously mentioned : 

"Go, Captain Stub. iead on, and shov 
What horse you corne on. by the blow 
You give Sir Ouintain, and the turf 
You 'scape o' the sandbags counterbuff." 

Quoits. This gaine derived its origin, aecording to Strutt,  
from the ancient discus, and with us, at the present da3- , it 

' " Sports and Pastimes," I876, p. 82. 
= See Nares's " Glossary." vol. il. p. 7i 3. 
 " Sports and Pastimes" p. I4I. 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 4I 7 
iS a circular plate of iron perforated in the middle, hot al- 
ways of one size, but larger or smaller, to suit the Stlength 
or conveniency of the several candidates. It is rcferred to 
in "2 Hcnry IV." (il. 4), by Falstaff, who assigns as one of 
the rcasons why Prince Hcnry loves Poins : " ]3ccause their 
legs are both of a bigness, and 'a plays at quoits well." 
FOllaael-ly, in the country, thc rustics, hot having the round 
perforatcd quoits to play with, used horse-shoes; and in 
lnany places the quoit itself, to this day, is called a shoe. 
Rt;;;i;gfor thc rb;. This, according to Staunton, was 
the naine of a sport, a ring having bcen one of thc prizes 
formcrly given in wrestling and rulming matchcs. Thus, in 
thc "Taming of thc Shrew" (i. ), tlortcnsio says: '" 
that runs fastcst gets the ling." 
Rt[ t/c Jïtrc of c[«ht. Stcevels says that this gale 
is alluded to by Shakespeare iii "A Midsulnmer-Night's 
Dream " (ii. ), where Titalfia speaks of the "quaint mazes 
ill the wantoll green." Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, iii referring 
to this passage, says : " Several mazes of the kind here al- 
luded to are still preserved, having been kept up ri'oto time 
immemorial. On the top of Catherine Hill, \Vinchester, 
the usual play-place of the school, vas a very perplexed 
alld winding path, rUllll[ng iii a ver), slnall space over a great 
deal ofground,called a" miz-maze.'" The senior boys obliged 
the juniors to tread it, to pl-event the figure from being lost, 
and I believe it is still rctained."' 
Scc-Saw. Another naine for this childish sport is that 
given by Falstaff iii " 2 Henry IV." (.il. 41, where he calls it 
" riding the wild mare." Gay thus describes this well-known 
gaine : 
"Across the fallen oak the plank I laid, 
And myself pois'd against the tott'ring maid ; 
High leap'd the plank, adown 13uxonia fell." 
ç/.,oz'«-Groat. The object of this gaine was to shake 
push pieces of money on a board to reach certain marks. 
It is alluded to in "2 I-[enry IV." (ii. 4), where Falstaff says : 

 See Milner's " History of Winchester,'" vol. il. p. 55- 
27 



418 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"Quoit him down, Bardolph, like a shove-groat shilling ;" 
or, in other words, Bardolph was to quoit Pistol down-stairs 
as quickly as the smooth shilling--the shove-groat--flies 
along the board. In a statute of 33 I-[cnry VIII., shove- 
groat is called a new gaine, and was probably originally 
played with the silver groat. The broad shilling of Edward 
VI. came afterwards to be used in this gaine, which was, no 
doubt, the saine as slaovel-board, with the exception that the 
latter was on a largcr scale. Master Slender, in the "Mer- 
ry Wives of \Vindsor '" t,i. ), had lais pocket picked of " two 
Edward shovel-boards, that cost me two shilling and two 
pcnce a-picce." Mr. Halliwcll-Phillipps, in describing the 
gaine in lais ".Archaic DictionatT," says that "a shilling or 
othcr smooth coin was placcd on the extreme edge of the 
shovel-board, and propellcd towards a mark by a smart 
stroke with the palm of the hand. It is mcntioned under 
various names, according to the coin employed, as shove- 
groat,  etc. The gamc of shove-halfpenny is mentioned in 
the Timcs of April 2 5 , I845, as then played by the lower 
orders. _According to Strutt, it " was analogous to the mod- 
ern pastime called Justice Jervis, or Jarvis, which is confined 
to colnmon pot-houses." 
N,oa,balls. These are alluded to in " Pericles" (iv. 6), 
and ill thc " Mcrry \Vives of \Vindsor" (iii. 5)- 
Npa,-cozole'r. In this boyish gaine one throws a counter, 
or piece of money, which the other wins, if he can throw an- 
othersoastohit it, orliewithinaspanofit. In"2Henry 
VI." (iv. -), Cade says : "Tell the king froln lne, that, for lais 
father's sake, Henry the Fifth, in whose rime boys went to 
span-countcr for French crowns, I am content he shall reign." 
It is called in France " tapper;" and in Swift's time was 
played with farthings, as he calls it "span-farthing.""- 

' According to Douce," Illustrations of Shakespeare" 0839, p. 28o), 
it ;«'as known as "slide-groat." "slide-board," "slide-thrift," and "slip- 
thrift." See Strutt's " Sports and Pastimes." 1876. pp. 6, 394, 398; 
Nares's "' Glossary," vol. il. p. 79 ; Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 849, vol. il. 
p. 44I. 
 See Strutt's "Sports and Pastimes," 876, p. 49. 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 4i 9 
çtool-a[[. This gaine, alluded to in the "Two Noble 
Kinsmcn" (v. 2), was formcrly popular among young womcn, 
and occasionally was played by persons of both sexes indis- 
criminatcly, as thc following lines, from a song written by 
Durfcy for his play of " Don Quixote," acted at Dorset Gar- 
dens, in I694, show :' 

" Down in a vale on a summer's day, 
AIl the lads and lasses met to be merry ; 
A match for kisses at stool-ball to play, 
And for cakes, and ale, and sider, and perry. 
C]orts--Come ail, great, small, short, tall, away to stool-ball." 

Strutt informs us that this gamc, as played in the north, 
" consists in simply setting a stool upon the ground, and one 
of the players takes his place before it, while his antagonist, 
standing at a distance, tosses a ball with the intention of 
striking the stool; and this is the business of the former to 
prevcl;t by beating it away wit] the hand, reckoning one to 
the gaine for every stroke of thc ball ; if, on the contrary, it 
should be missed by the hand and touch the stool, the players 
change places. The conqueror is he who strikes the ball 
most times before it touches the stool." 
ToMs. According to a story told by the old annalists. 
one of the most interesting historical events in connection 
with this game happened when Henry V. was meditating 
war against France. "The Dolphin," says Hall in his 
" Chronicle," " thynkyng King Henry to be given still to such 
plaies and lyght folies as he exercised and used before the 
tyme that he was exalted to the Croune, sent to hym a tunne 
of tennis balles to plaie with, as who saied that he had better 
skill of tennis than of warre." On the foundation of this 
incident, as told by Holinshed, Shakespeare has constructed 
his fine scelle of the French Ambassadors' audience in 
" Henry V." (i. 2). As soon as the first Ambassador has 
given the Dauphin's message and insulting gift, the Eng- 
lish king speaks thus : 

I Quoted by Strutt, " Sports and Pastimes," p. 66. 



420 

FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

XWe are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us ; 
His present and your pains ve thank you for : 
When we bave match'd our rackets to these balls, 
We will, in France, by God's grace, play a set 
Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard. 
Tell him, he bath ruade a match with such a wrangter 
That all the courts of France will be disturb'd 
With chases." 

In " I Iamlet" (il. ), l'olonius speaks of this pastime, and 
alludes to " falling out at tennis." In the sixteenth century 
tennis-courts were comlnon in England, and the establish- 
ment of such places was countenanced by the example of 
royalty. It is evidcnt that Henry Vil. was a tennis-player. 
In a giS. rcgistcr of lais expcnditures, ruade in the thirteenth 
year of his reign, this entry occurs: " Item, for the king's 
loss at tennis, twclvcpence ; for the loss of balls, thrcepence." 
Stow, in his " SUlvey of I.ondon," tclls us that among the 
additions that King llenry VIII. ruade to \Vhitehall, were 
" divers fait tennis-courts, bowling-allies, and a cock-pit." 
Charles II. fi-equently diverted himself with playing at 
tennis, and had a particular kind of dress ruade for that 
purpose. Pericles, when he is shipvrecked and cast upon 
the coast of l'entapolis, addresses himself and the three fish- 
ermen whom he chances to mcet thus (" Pericles," ii. ): 

" A man whom both the waters and the wind. 
In that vast tennis-court, have ruade the ball 
For them to play upon, entreats you pity him." 

lll " Much Ado About Nothing" (iii. 2), Claudio, referring 
to Benedick, says: "the old ornament of his cheek hath 
aheady stuffed tennis-balls;"' and in " Henry V." (iii. 7), 
the Dauphin says his horse " bounds from the earth as if 
his entrails were hairs." Again, " bandy" was originally a 
terre at tennis, to which Juliet refers in " Romeo and Ju- 
liet "" Iii. 5), when speaking of her Nurse : 

' In '" Love's Labour's Lost" (v. 2), the Princess speaks of "a set of 
wit well play'd ;" upon which Mr. Singer (" Shakespeare," vol. ii. p. 263} 
adds that "a set is a terre at tennis for a gaine." 



SPORTS AND PASTIMES. 

4 21 

"Had she affections, and warm youthful blood, 
She'd be as swift in motion as a ball ; 
My words would bandy her to my sweet love, 
And his to me." 
Also, King Lear (i. 4) says to Osvald: " Do you bandy 
looks with roc, you rascal ?" 
Tic/c-toc/c. This was a sort of backgammon, and is al- 
ludcd to by Lucio in " Measure for Measure" çi. 2) who, re- 
ferring to Claudio's unpleasant predicament, says : " I would 
be sorry should be thus foolishly lost at a game of tick-tack." 
In Weaver's " Lusty Juvcntus," I [ipocrisye, secing Lusty 
Juvcntus Mss Abhominable I.yuing, says: 
"What a hurly burly is hcre ! 
Smicke smacke, and ail thys gere ! 
You well [will] to lyrl,'e lal,'«, I fere, 
If thon had tyme. ''t 
" Jouer au tric-ti'ac" is used, too, in France in a wanton sense. 
Tra3,-D-i p. This was probably a gaine at cards, played 
with dice as wcll as with cards, the success in which chiefly 
depended upon the throwing of treys. Tllus, in a satire 
callcd " Machivell's Dog" (i6ï): 
"But. leaving cardes, let' go to dice a while, 
To passage, treitrippe, bazarde, or mumchance." 
Ia " Twelfth Night" (il. 5), Sir Toby Belch asks: " Shail I 
play my fl'eedom at tray-trip, and become thy bond-slave?" 
It may be remcmbered, too, that in "The Scornful Lady" 
of Beaumont and Fletcher (ii. }, thc Chaplain COlnplains 
that the Butler had broken his head, and being asked the 
reason, says, for 
• ' Reproving him at tra-trip, sir. for swearing." 
Some are of opinion that it resembled the gaine of hop- 
scotch, or Scotch-hop ; but this, says Nares, = "seems to rest 
merely upon unauthorized conjecture." 

' Quoted ky Dyce's "Glossary," p. 449 ; see Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 
1849, vol. ii. p. 445- = "' GlossalT," vol. ii. p. 896. 



422 FOLK-LORE OF SttAKESPEARE. 
7"rolLO,-damc. The game of Troll-madam, still familiar 
as Bagatelle, vas borrowed from the French (Urolt-madamc). 
Olle of its names was Pigeon-holes, bccause played ou a 
board, at one end of which were a numbcr of arches, like 
pigeon-holes, into which small balls had to bc bowled. In 
" \Vinter's Tale" (iv. 2), it is mcntioned by Autolycus, who, 
in answcr to the Clown, says that the manuer of fellow that 
robbed him was one that he had "known to go about with 
troll-my-damcs." Cotgrave declares it as " the gmne called 
Trunkes, or the Hole." 
Trum],. This was probably the tri¢i¢fo of the Italians, 
and the lrÆqhe of the French--being perhaps of equal 
antiquity ila England with .Arimcro. 2\t the latter end of 
the sixteenth CeltUl')" it was very common among the in- 
ferior classes. Thcre is, no doubt, a particular allusion to 
this gaine in "Antony and Cleopatra" (iv. 4), xhere _Antony 

says : 

"the queen-- 
Vhose heart I thought I had, for she had mine ; 
Which, whilst it was mine, had annex'd unto't 
A million more, now lost--she, Eros, has 
Pack'd cards with Cœesar. and false-play'd my glory 
Unto an enemy's triumph." 

The poct rotant to say, that Clcopatra, by collusion, played 
the great gaine they were engaged in falsely, so as to sacri- 
fice Antony's faine to that of lais enemy. There is an equivo- 
que between lrttm and lrœetiz@]. The gaine iu question 
bore a very strong resemblance to our modern whist--the 
only points of dissimilarity beiug that more or less than foui" 
persons might play at trump; that all the cards were not 
dealt out ; and that the dealer had the privilege of discard- 
ing somc, and taking others in rioto the stock. In Eliot's 
" Fruits for the t"rench,"  593, it is called "a very commoll 
ale-house gaine in England." 
ll'r«s¢li(,'. Of the many allusions tha are given by 
Shakespeare to this pastirne, we may quote the phrase " to 
catch on the hip, I' ruade use of by Shylock in the " Merchant 
of Venice" (i. 3), who, speaking of Antonio, says, 



SPORTS AND PASTIlXlES. 42 3 
"If ! tan catch him once upon the hip, 
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him" 
mthe meaning being, "to have at an entire advantage. '' 
The expression occurs again in " Othello" (il. I), where Iago 
says : 
" l'll have our Michael Cassio on the hip." 
Nares,  however, considers the. phrase was derived ri-oto 
hunting ; because, " when the animal pursued is seized upon 
the hip, it is finally disabled from flight." 
In "As You Like It" (il. 3), where Adam speaks of the 
" bonny priser of the humorous duke," Singer considcrs that 
a tri««r was the phrase for a wrestler, a lrisc bcing a terre 
in that sport for a grappling or hold taken." 

 Dyce's "Glossary,'" p. 208.  "' Glossary," vol. i. p. 42 I. 



CHAPTER XVII. 
DANCES. 
WE are indebted to Shakespeare for having bequeathed 
to us many interesting allusions to some of the old dances 
in use in lais day, but which bave long ago passed into ob- 
livion. As will be seen, these were of a very diverse char- 
acter, but, as has been remarked, were well suited to the 
merry doings of out forcfathers ; and although in some cases 
they justly merited censure for their ext,avagant nature, yet 
the greater part of these sources of diversion were harmless. 
Indeed, no more pleasing picture can be imagined than that 
ofa rustic sheep-shea,ing gathering in the olden times, when, 
the work over, the peasantry joined together in some simple 
dance, each one rieing with his neighbor to perform lais part 
with as much grace as possible. 
.qttf«. This was a grotesque dance. In "Macbeth'" 
(iv.  ), the witch, perceiving hov Macbeth is affected by the 
horrible apparitions which he bas seen, says to her sisters: 
"Corne, sisters, cheer we up lais sprites. 
And show the best of out delights. 
I'll charm the air to give a sound, 
While )'ou perform your antic round." 
To quote another instance. Armado, in " Love's Labour's 
Lost" (v. ), says: 
"We will have, if this fadge hOt, an antique." 
«ro,ask Dacc. According to Sir Thomas Hanmer, this 
was a dance after the manner of the pcasants of Bergomasco, 
a county in Italy belonging to the Venetians. AIl the buf- 
foons in Italy affected to imitate the ridiculous jargon of 
that people, and from thence it became customary to mimic 
also their manner of dancing. In "A Midsummer-Night's 



DANCES. 425 
Drcam" (v. I), Bottom asks Thcseus whethcr hc would like 
"to hear a Bergomask dance," betwecn two of thcir com- 
pany. 
rawL This was a kind of dance. It appears that sev- 
eral persons united hands in a circle, and gave one another 
continual shakes, the stcps changing with the tune. ,Vith 
this dance balls were usuallv opened.' Kissing was occa- 
siohallv introduced. In " Love's Labour's Lost" (iii. I), 
Moth asks his toaster: "'\Vill you win your love with a 
French brawl." 
Cazarr. This was the naine of a sprightly dance, the 
music to which consisted of two strains with cight bars in 
each; an allusion to which is ruade b.v Moth in " Love's 
I.abour's I.ost'" (iii. I), uho speaks of ii,*«in«bb b off a tune at 
the tongue's end, and canarying to it with the fëet. And in 
"All's \Vell that End's \Vell" {il. ), I.afeu tells the king 
that ho has seen a mcdicine 

"that's able to breathe lire into a stone, 
.Quicken a rock, and make vou dance canary 
With spritely tire and motion." 

This dance is said to have originated in thc Canary Isl- 
ands, an opinion, howevcr, which has, says Dyce, been dis- 
puted? 
Ciqu«-],«cc. This was so named from its steps being 
regulated by the number rive: 
• ' Five was the number of the music's feet. 
Which still the dance did with rive paces meet. "'a 

In " Much Ado About Nothing" (il. ), Shakespcare makes 
Beatrice make a quibble upon the term ; for after comparing 
xvooing, wedding, and repenting to a Scotch "i, 
3 b, a measure, 

 Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p.  34- 
= Sec Chappell's "Popular Music of the Olden Time," 2d edition, 
vol. i. p. 368 ; Dyce's "Glossary," vol. i. p. 63. 
a Ouoted by Nares from Sir John Davies on " Dancing." Mr. Dyce, 
"Glossarv," p. 8. says that Nares wrongly confounded this with the 
gallard. 



426 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
and a cinque-pace, she says: "then cornes repcntance, and, 
with his bad legs, falls into the cinque-pace faster and faster, 
till hê sink into his grave." A_ furthcr rcference occurs in 
"Twelfth Night" (i. 3), by Sir Toby Belch, who calls it a 
"sink-a-pace." 
CoraJtto. An allusion to this dance, which appears to have 
been of a very livcly and rapid character, is ruade in " Henry 
V." (iii. 5), whcre the Dukc of ]ourbon describes it as the 
"swift coranto ;" and in "All's \Vcll that Ends \Vcll '" (il. 3) 
Lafcu refcrs to it. A fltrthcr notice of it occurs in "Twelfth 
Night" (i. 3), in the passage where Sir Toby Belch speaks 
of" coming home in a coranto." 
f:adig. Malone quotcs a passage from " Sportive \Vit," 
666, which implies that this was a rustic dance : 
"The courtiers scorn us country clowns, 
V(e country clowns do scorn the court ; 
We can be as merry upon the downs 
As you at midnight with all your sport, 
With a fadit, with a./'adi(." 
It would appear, also, from a lcttcr appended to ]qoswell's 
edition of Malone, that it was an Irish dance, and that it 
was practised, upon rejoicing occasions, as recently as x8o3, 
the date of thc letter: 
" This dance is still practised on rejoicing occasions in many 
parts of Ireland ; a king and qucen are chosen from amongst 
thc young persons who are the best dancers: the queen car- 
ries a garland composed of two hoops placed at right angles, 
and fastened t9 a handle ; the hoops are covered with flowers 
and ribbons; you bave seen it, I dare sa)', with the May- 
maids. Frequently in the course of the dance the king and 
queen lift up their joined hands as high as they can, she still 
holding the garland in the other. The most remote couple 
from the king and qucen first pass under ; all the rest of the 
line linked together follow in succession. \Vhen the last bas 
passed, the king and queen suddenly face about and front 
their companions; this is often repeated during the dance, 
and the various undulati6ns are pretty enough, resembling 
the movemeuts of a serpent. The dancers on the first of 



DANCES. 

427 

IIay visit such newly wcddcd pairs of a ccitain rank as havc 
been married since last May-day in thc neighborhood, who 
comlnollly bcstow on them a stuffed ball richly deckcd with 
gold and silver lace, and accolnl)anicd with a present in 
money, to regale thelnselves after the dance. This dancc is 
practised when the bonfires are lighted up, the qucen hailing 
the return of sumlner iii a popular Irish song beginning : 

• We lead on summer--see ! she follows in our train.' " 

In thc " Winter's Talc" (iv. 4, Shakespcare seems to 
allude to this dance whcre hc makcs the servant, speaking 
of the pedlcr, say: "he has the prettiest love songs for 
maids; so without bawdry, which is strange; with such deli- 
cate burdens of ' dildos' and ' fadings.' " Some COlnlnmlta- 
tors, I howevcr, consider that only thc song is nlcant. 
t[«y. Douce " says this dance was borrowed by ris from 
the French, and is classed among the " brawls" in Thoinot 
Arbeau's " Orchcsographie " (588. I11 " Love's Labour's 
Lost "' (v. ), Dull says: " I will play Oll tabor to the \Vor- 
thies, and let them dance their hay." 
.Tz'. Besides meaning a merry, sprightly dance, a jig also 
implied a coarse sort of comic entertainmelt, in which sense 
it is probably used by Hamlet ,ii. ): " He's for a jig or a 
talc of bawdry." " It seems," says Mr. Collier,  " to have 
been a ludicrous composition in rhyme, sung, or said, by the 
clown, and accompanied by dancing and playing upon the 
pipe and tabor. '' an instance of which perhaps occurs in the 
Clown's song at the close of " Twelfth Night :" 

" When that I was and a little tiny boy." 

' See Knight's " Pictorial Shakespeare," vol. ii. p. 375 ; Dyce's '" Glos- 
sary," 836, p. 52, "British Popular Customs," 876, pp. 276, 277. See 
also Chappell's " Popular Music of the Olden Time," zd edition, vol. i. 
p. 235 : Nares's "Glossary," vol. i. p. 292. 
= " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. 46. 
 " History of English Dramatic Poetry." vol. iii. p. 38o ; see Dyce's 
"Glossary," p. "-z9 ; Nares's "Glossar3"," vol. i. p. 45o ; Singer's " Shake- 
speare," vol. ix. pp. 98, -'9- 
« " Hamlet :" iii. -'. : "your only jig-maker." 



428 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Fletcher, in the l'rologue to the " Fair Maid of thc Inn," 
says : 
" A jig should be clapt at. and every rhyme 
Praised and applaudcd by a clamorous chime." 

Among the allusions to this dance wc may quote one iii 
" Much Ado About Nothing" (il. 1), where Beatrice coin- 
parcs wooing to a Scotch jig; and another in " Twelfth 
Night " (i. 31, where Sir Toby Bclch says, lais " very walk 
should bc a jig." 
Lac,alto. According to Florio, the lavolta is a kind of 
turning Frcnch dance, in which thc man turns the woman 
round scvcral timcs, and thon assists her in making a high 
spring or atbrialc. It is thus describcd by Sir John Davies: 

Yet is there one the most delightful kind, 
A loftie jumping, or a leaping round, 
Where arme in arme two dauncers are entwined, 
And whirle themselves, with strict embracements bound ; 
And still their feet an anapest do sound, 
An anapest is all their musicks song. 
Whose first two feet are short, and third" is long." 

Douce,' however, considers it to be of Italian origin, and 
says, " It passcd ffoin Italy into Provence and the rest of 
France, and thcnce into England." Scot, too, iii lais " Dis- 
covery of Witchcraft," thus speaks of it: " He saith, that 
these night-walking, or rather night-dancing, witches, brought 
out of Italie into France that dance which is called 
Shakespeare, in his " Henry V." (iii. 5), makes the Duke of 
Bourbon allude to it: 

'" They bid us to the English dancing-schools. 
And teach lavoltas high, and swift corantos." 

Again, in " Troilus and Cressida" (iv. 4), Troilus says : 

" I cannot sing. 
Nor heel the high lavolt." 

' "Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. 3Ol ; sec Nares's "Glossary," vol. 
il. p. 498. 



DANCES. 429 
Zight o' Lai'c. This was an old dance tune, and was a 
proverbial expression for lcvity, especially in love lnatters.' 
In " Much Ado About Nothing" (iii. 41, Margarct says: 
" Clap's into ' Light o' love ;' that goes without a burden ; 
do you sing it, and I'll dance it;" to which Bcatricc an- 
swers : " Yea, light o' love, with your hcels." 
In " Two Gcntlcmcn of Vcrona" I,i. 2), it is alluded to : 
• ".'Tul¢t. Best sing it to the tune of ' Light o' love.' 
Lt««tta. It is too heavy for so light a tune." 
In the ':Two Noble Kinsmcn" (v. 2), we read : 
" He'l[ dance the morris twenty mlle an hour. 
And gallops to the tune of" Light o' love.' » 
And in Beaumont and Fletchcr's " Chances'" (i. 3), Frcdcric 
says" "Sure he bas ellCOUlltcr'd SOllle light-o'-love or other." 
Z'«z'azz. This was a grave and majestic dance, in which 
the gentlcmcn worc thcir caps, swords, and mantlcs, and the 
ladies thcir long robcs and trains. The dancers stepped 
round the room and thon crossed in thc middle, tlailing 
their garments on thc ground, " the motion whereof," says 
Sir J. Hawkins," resembled that of a peacock's tail." It is 
alluded to in " Twelftb Night " (v. ) by Sir Tob5 .... .\ passy- 
measures pavin," althougb the reading of this passage is 
uncertain, the cditord of thc " Globc" edition substituting 
It has been conjecturcd that the " passy-measure gaillard," 
and the "passy-mcasure pavan" were only two different 
measures of the saine dance, from the Italian 2passawo. " 
Round«l. This was also called tbe " round," a dance of a 
circular kind, and is probabl 5- referred to by Titania in "A 
Midsummer-Night's Dream '" (ii. 2), wherc she says to her 
• train- ' 
" Corne now. a roundel and a fairy song." 

 Nal'es's "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 51o. 
" See Dyce, vol. iii. p. 42, note toE. 
 Roundel also meant a song. Mr. Dyce considers the dance is here 
nleant. 



430 FOLK-LORE OF StlAKESPEARE. 
Ben Jonson, in the " Talc of a Tub,"' seems to call the rings, 
which such fairy dances are supposed to make, muml«ls. 

" l'll have no roundcls, I, in the quccn's paths." 

çat.rrs' D«,wc. A dance of satyrs was a not uncommon 
cntertainmcnt in Shakespeare's da3", or cven at an earlier 
period. = It was hot confined to England, and has been 
rendcrcd mcmorablc by thc fcarful accident with which it 
was accompanicd at the Court of France in 392, a graphic 
description of which has bcen recordcd by Froissart. In 
the " \Vinter's Talc " (iv. 4), the satyrs' dance is alluded to 
by the Servant, who says: " Mastcr, thcre is three carters, 
thrce shcphcrds, three ncat-hcrds, three swine-herds, that 
have ruade thcmselvcs all mcn of hair ; they call themselves 
Saltiers: and thcy have a dance which the wenches say is a 
gallimaufry of gambols, becausc thcy are hot in't." In a 
book of songs composed by Thomas Ravcnscroff and oth- 
crs, in the time of Shakespcare, we find one  called the 
"Satyrcs' daunce." It is for four voices, and is as follows : 

" Round a round, a rounda, keepe your ring 
To the glorious sunne we sing. 
Hoe. hoe ! 

He that weares the flaming rayes, 
And the imperiall crowne of bayes, 
Him with shoutes and songs we praise. 
Hoe. hoe 

That in his bountee would vouchsafe to grace 
The humble sylvanes and their shaggy race." 

Sa,ord-dm«cc. In olden timcs there were several kinds 
of sword-dances, lnost of which afforded opportunities for 
the display of skill. In "Antony and Cleopatra" (iii. I ), 

' See Singer's " Shakespeare," vol. il. p. 333- 
 See Knight's " Pictorial Shakespeare," vol. il. p. 384; Singer's 
" Shakespeare," vol. iv. p. 85; Boswell's " Shakespeare," vol. xiv. p. 
37L 
 See Douce's " Illustrations of Shakcspeare," p. 222. 



DANCES. 43  
there seems to be an allusion to this custom, where Antony, 
speaking of Cmsar, says :' 

"he, at Philippi, kept 
His sword e'en like a dancer." 

And in "All's Well that Ends Well " (,il. I), where Bertram, 
lamcnting that he is kcpt froln the wars, adds: 

I shall stay here the forehorse to a smock, 
Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry, 
Till honour be bought up, and no sword worn 
But one to dance with." 

In "Titus Andronicus" (il. ), too, Demetrius says 
Chiron : 
"Why, boy. although our mother, unadvis'd 
Gave you a dancing-rapier b t- your side." 

to 

Tr«att a 2Ur«as«rc, to xvhich the King rcfcrs in " Love's 
Labour's Lost " (v. 2), when he tells 13oyct to tell Rosaline 

"we have measur'd many mlles, 
To tread a measure with her on this grass," 

was a grave solemn dance, with slmv and measured steps, 
like the minuet. .-s it was of so solemn a nature, it was 
performed= at public entertailmaents in the hms of Court, 
and it was " hot unusual, nor thought inconsistcnt, for the 
first characters in the law to bear a part in treading a 
measure." 
Tri/) atd Go was the naine of a favorite morris-dance, and • 
appears, says Mr. Chappell, in his " Popular Music of the 
Olden Times," etc. (2d edition, vol. i. p. 3 ), to have become 
a proverbial expression. It is used in " Love's Labour's 
Lost " (iv. 2). 
l-.ri«g. From the following passage, in Chapman's 
a See Strutt's "Sports and Pastimes," I876 , pp. 300, 3oi ; Douce's "Il- 
lustrations of Shakespeare," p. I93. 
= Singer's "Shakespeare" vol. il. p. 269; Sir Christopher Hatton 
was famous for it. 



432 FOLK-LORE OF StIAKESPEARE. 
"Alphonsus, Emperor of Germany," it would seem 
this was a German dance : 

that 

"We Germans have no changes in our dances ; 
An almain and an up-spring, that is all." 

Karl Elze,' who, a few years ago, reprinted Chapman's 
'" .\lphonsus " at Leipsic, says that the word " up-spring " 
"is the 'Iliipfauf,' the last and wildest dance at the old 
Gcrman mcrry-makings. No epithet could there be more 
appropriate to this drunken dance than Shakespeare's sz«aK- 
gcrb¢o¢" in " Hamlet " (i. 4"): 

"The king doth wake to-night, and takes his rouse. 
Keeps wassail, and the swaggering up-spring reels." 

 Ouoted in Dyce's" Glossao,." p. 476. 



CttAPTER XVIII. 
PUNISI[MENTS. 
SHAKESPEARE has hOt omitted to notice many of the 
punishments which were in use in years gone by; the scat- 
tered allusions to these beng interesting in so far as thcy 
serve to illustrate the domestic manncrs and customs of our 
forefathers. I[appily, howcver, these cruel tortures, which 
darken the pages of history, have long ago passed into ob- 
livion ; and at the present day it is difficult to believe that 
such barbarous practices could ever have been tolerated in 
any civilized country. The horrible punishment of" boiling 
to death," is mentioned i " Twelfth Night " (il. 5), where 
Fabian says: « If I lose a scruple of this sport, let me be 
boiled to dcath with melancholy." In '.Vinter's Talc" 
(iii. ), Paulina inquires : 
"What studied torments, tyrant, hast for me ? 
"Vhat wheels ? racks ? rires ? What flaying ? boiling 
In leads or oils? What old or newer torture 
Must I receive ?" 
There seems to be an indirect allusion to this punishment 
in "The Two Noble Kinsmcn " (iv. 3), whcre the Gaoler's 
Daughter in her madncss speaks of those who "are mad, or 
hang, or drown themselves, being put into a caldron of lead 
and usurer's grease, and there boiling like a gammon of 
bacon that will never be enough." 
The practice of holding burning basins before the eyes 
of captif'es, to destroy their eyesight, is probably alluded to 
by Macbeth (iv. ), in the passage where the apparitions are 
presented to him by the witches : 
"Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo ; down . 
Thy crown does sear mine eyeballs." 

' Halliwell-Phillippa's " Index to Shakespeare," p. 3 6. 



434 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
In "Antony and Cleopatra" (il. 4), soaking in brine as a 
punishment is referred to by Cleopatra, who says to the 
nacssenger : 

"Thou shalt be whipp'd with wire, and stew'd in brine, 
Smarting in lingering pickle." 

I)rowning by thc tidc, a mcthod of punishing crimhaals, is 
probably noticed in " Thc Tempest " (i. ), by Antonio: 

"We are merely cheated of out lires by drunkards. 
This wide-chapp'd rascal--would thou might'st lie drowning 
The washing o[ ten tides !" 

/;'af. This was formcrly a punishment of infamy inflict- 
ed on recreant knights, one part of which consisted in hang- 
ing them up by the heels, to which Falstaff probably refers 
in " I l Ienry IV." (i. 2), where he says to the prince, "call 
me villain, and bafflc me." And, further on (ii. 4) : " if thou 
dost it hall so gravely, so majestically, both in word and 
marrer, bang me up by the heels for a rabbit-sucker, or a 
poultcr's hare."' In " 2 Henry IV." (.i. 2), the Chier Justice 
tells Falstaff that " to punish him by the heels would amend 
the attention of his ears." _A_nd in " All's \Vell that Ends 
\Vell" (iv. 3), where the lord relates how Parolles bas "sat 
in the stocks ail night," Bertram says: " lais heels bave de- 
served it, in usurping lais spurs so long." 
Spenser, in lais " Fairy Queen " (ri. 7), thus describes this 
mode of punishment : 

" And after ail, for greater infamie 
He by the heels hiin hung upon a tree, 
And baffi'd so, that all which passed by 
The picture of his punishment might see." 

The appropriate terre, too, for chopping off the spurs of a 
knight when he was to be degraded, was " hack "--a custom 
to which, it bas been suggested, Mrs. Page alludes in the 

' See Nares's "Glossary," vol. i. p. 46. 



PUNISHMENTS. 435 
" Merry \Vives of \Vindsor" (ii. I ) :' "\Vhat ?--Sir Alice 
Ford! Thcse knights will hack, and so thou shouldst hot 
alter the article of thy gentry. '' 
Mr. Dycc, ' however, says the most probable mcaning of 
this obscure passage is, that thcre is an allusion to the ex- 
travagant number of knights crcated by King James, and 
that hack is equivalcnt to " bccome cheap or vulgar." 
It appears, too, that in days gone by the arms, etc., tf 
traitors and rcbcls might be dcfaced. Thus, in " Richard 
II." (ii. 3), Berkelcy tclls Bolingbroke : 
" Mistake me hot, my lord ; 'tis hot my meaning 
To raze one title o[ your honour out. » 
Upon which passage we may quote ffoto Camden's '" Re- 
mains" (6o5, p. 86): " IIow the names of them, which for 
capital crimes against majestic, were erased out of the public 
records, tables, and registers, or forbiddcn to be borne b)- 
their postcritie, whcn thcir memory was damncd, I could 
show at large." Iu the following act (iii. ) Bolingbrokc 
furthcr relates how his encmies had : 

" Dispark'd my parks, and fell'd my forest woods, 
From mine own windows torn my household coat. 
Raz'd out my impress, leaving me no sign." 
tilboc«. These were a kind of stocks or fetters used at 
sea to confine prisoners, of which tIamlet speaks to Horatio 
(v. 2) : "Sir, in my heart there was a kind of fighting, 
That would hot let me sleep : methought I lay 
Worse than the mutines in the bilboes." 

This punishment is thus described by Steevens: "Thc bi[- 
bacs is a bar of iron with fetters annexed to it, by which 
mutinous or disorderly sailors were anciently linked togeth- 
er. The word is derived from Bilboa, a place in Spain whcre 

a Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps, in his " Handbook Index to the Works of 
Shakespeare" ( 866, p. 231 ), suggests this meaning. 
 See Nares's "Glossary," vol. i. p. 397. 
a Dyce's "Glossary," p. 197. 



436 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
instruments of steel were fabricated in the utmost perfec- 
tion. To understand Shakespcare's allusion completely, it 
should be known that, as these fctters conncct the legs of 
the offenders ve W close togetlmr, their attempts to rest must 
be as fruitlcss as those of Hamlet, in whose mind ' there 
was a kind of fighting that would hot let him sleep.' Ev- 
er 3 , motion of one must disturb his partncr in confinement. 
The lilba«s are still shown in the Tower of London, among 
the other spoils of the Spanish Armada. ''1 
'ra,1d.The branding of criminals is indirectly alludcd 
to in " 2 I lenry VI." (v. 2), by Young Clifford, who calls the 
Duke of Richmond a "foui stigmatick," which propcrly 
meant "a pcrson who had bccn branded with a hot iron for 
some crime, one notably defamed for naugltiness." The 
practice was abolishcd by law in the year  822. 
Tlm practice, too, of making pcrsons convicted of pcrjury 
wear papers, while undergoing punishment, descripti,e of 
their offcnce, is spoken of in " Love's Labour's Lost" (i'. 3), 
where Biron says of Longaville : 
"Why. he cornes in like a perjure, wearing papers." 
Holinshed relates how \Volsey " so punished a petjure 
with open punishment and open paper-weari-g that in lis 
time it was disused." 
13recelé. This old terre to whip or punish as a sclool-boy 
is noticed in the "Taming ofthe Shrev'" (iii. I): 
"I ara no breeching scholar in the schools : 
Pli not be tied to hours nor "pointed rimes" 
--breeching being equivalent to " liable to be whipped." 
In " Merry \Vives of \Vindsor" (iv. I), Sir Ilugh Evans 
tells tlm boy page : " If you forget your' quies,' your ' qums,' 
and your ' quods,' you must be preeches " (breeched). 
Çroa,,l. A burning crown, as the ptmishment of regi- 
 Bilbo was also a rapier or sword : thus. in " Merry Wives of Wind- 
sor" (iii. 5), Falstaff says to Ford : " I suffered the pangs of three sev- 
eral deaths: first, an intolerable fright, to be detected.., next. to be 
compassed, like a good bilbo.., hilt to point," etc. 



PUNISIIMENTS. 437 
cides or other criminals, is probably alludcd to by Aime 
" Richard III." (iv. ): 
" (), would to God that the inclusive verge 
Of golden metal, that must round my brow, 
Were red-hot steel, to sear me to the brain !" 
Mr. Singcr,' in a notc on this passage, quotes from Chct- 
tle's " Tragcdy of Ifoffman " (63i), where this punishment 
is introduced : 

" Fix on thy master's head my burning crown." 
And again - 
"' Was adjudg'd 
To have lais head sear'd with a burning crown." 
The Earl of Athol, who vas cxecuted for thc murder of 
James I. of Scotland, was, before his dcath, crowned with a 
hot iron. In somc of the monkish accounts of a place of 
fiture torments, a burning crown is appropriated to those 
who dcprived any lawful monarch nf lais kingdom. 
I-'illory. This old mode of punishment is refcrred to by 
Launce in thc "Two Gentlemen of Verona" (iv. 4), where 
he speaks of having " stood on thc pillory." In "Taming 
of the Shrew" (il. , Hortensio, when ho tells Baptista how 
he had been struck by Katharina because" I did but tcll her 
she mistook her frets," adds: 

"she struck me on the head, 
And through the instrument my pate ruade way; 
And there I stood amazed for a while, 
As on a pillory, looking through the lute." 
It has been suggested that there may bc an allusion to 
the pillory in " Measure for Measure" (v. I), where Lucio 
says to the duke, disguised in his friar's hood: "5-ou must 
be hoodcd, must 5-ou ? show your knavc's visage, with a 
pox to you! show your sheep-biting face, and be hanged 
an hour !" The alleged crime was not capital, and suspen- 

 "Shakespeare," vol. ri. p. 485 ; see " Bosvell's Life of Johnson," 
vol. ii. p. 6. 



438 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
sion in the pillory for an hour was all that the speaker in- 
tcnded. ''1 
ïr«s«. Sevcral allusions occur to this species of torture, 
applied to contmnacious fclollS. It was also, says Malonc, 
" formcrly inflicted on those pcrsons who, being indictcd, 
rcfuscd to plcad. Iii consequence oftheir silence, they were 
prcssed to dcath by a heavy wcight laid Hpon the stomach." 
Iii " Much ±\do About Nothing" (iii. l), IIero says of Bea- 
trice : 
"she would laugh me 
(lut of myself, press me to death with wit." 

Iii " Richard II." (iii. 4)thc Queen exclaims: 

"o. I am press'd to death, through want of speaking !" 

And lu " Mcasure for Measure" (v. I), Lucio tells the Duke 
that, "Marrying a punk, my lord, is pressing to death, 
whipping, and hanging." 
In the "t'erfect Account of the Daily Intelligence" 
(April I6th, 65 i), we filld it recorded : " [ond., April I4th. 
This Session, at the Old Bailey, were four men pressed to 
death that were all iii one robbery, and, out of obstinacy 
and contempt of the Court, stood mute, and refused to 
plead." This punishlnent was hot abolished until by stat- 
ute I2 George III. c. 2o. 
RatAc. According to Mr. Blackstone, this " was utterly 
unknown to the law of England; though OllCe, when the 
Dukes of Exeter and Suffolk, and other ministers of Henry 
VI., had laid a design to introduce the civil law into this 
kingdom as a rule of government, for the beginning thereof 
thcy erected a rack of torture, which was called, in derision, 
the Duke of Exeter's daughter; and still remains in the 
Tower of London, where it was occasionally used as an en- 
gine of state, hot of law, more than once in the reign of 
Queen Elizabeth. But when, upon the assassination of Vil- 

t Nares's "Glossary,'" vol. il. p. 66t : see Douce's " Illustrations of 
Shakespeare," 839, pp. 9 o, 91, o 9 ; Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," vol. iii. 
p. . 



PUNISHMENTS. 439 
fiers, Duke of Buckingham, it was proposed, in the Privy 
Council, to put the assassin to the rack, in order to discover 
his accomplices, the judges (bcing consulted) declarcd unan- 
imousl¥, to their own honor and the honor of the English 
law, that no such proceeding was allowable by the law of 
England." Mr. Hallam observes that, though the English 
law never reconized the use of torture, 3,et there were 
many instances of its employment in the reign of Elizabeth 
and James; and, among othcrs, in the case of the Gunpow- 
dcr l'lot. He furthcr adds, in the latter part of the reign 
of Elizabeth " the rack seldom stood idle in the Towcr." 
Of the lrlaly allusions to this torture may be mentioncd Se- 
bastian's word in " Twclffh Night" (v. ): 

"Antonio ! (1 my dear Antonio ! 
tIow have thc hours rack'd and tortured me, 
Since I have lost thee." 

In " Measure for Mcasure " (v. ), Escalus ordcrs the " un- 
reverend and unhallow'd fiiar" (the Duke disguised) to be 
taken to the rack: 

"Take him hcnce ; to the rack with him !--Wc'll touse you 
Joint by joint." 

The engine, which sometimes meant the rack, is spokcn 
of in " King Lear" (i. 4) : 

" Which. like an engine, wrench'd my frame of nature 
From the fix'd place."  

So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's " Night \Valker" (iv. 5): 

"Their souls shot through with adders, torn on engines." 

Once more, in " Measure for Measure "' (ii. I), whcre Escalus 
tells hmv 

"' Some run Irom brakes of ice, and answer none" 

1 It also meant a warlike engine, as in "Coriolanus," v. 4 : "' When 
he walks, he moves like an engine, and the ground shrinks before his 
treading;" so, also, in "Troilus and Cressida," il. 3- 



440 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
--a passage which Mr. Dyce would thus rcad" 
"Sorne run from brakes of vice." 
It has been suggested that there is an allusion to "en- 
gines of torture," although, owing to the many signitca- 
tions of the word " brake," its meaning here has been much 
disputed.' 
btocl,'s. This old-fashioned mode of punishment is the 
subject of frequent allusion b)" Shakespeare. Thus, Launce, 
in the "Two Gentlemen of Verona" (iv. 4), says : "I have sat 
in the stocks for puddings he hath stolen." In "All's \Vell 
that Ends Wcll" (iv. 3), Bertram says: '" Corne, bring forth 
this counterfeit module, bas deceived me, like a double- 
meaning prophesicr." \Vhereupon one of the French lords 
adds: "Bring him forth: bas sat i' the stocks all night, 
poor gallant knave." Volumnia says of Coriolanus (v. 3) : 
"The-e's no man in the world 
More bound to's mother ; yet here he lets me prate 
Like one i' the stocks." 
Again, in the "' Comedy of Errors" (iii. ), Luce speaks of 
"a pair of stocks in the town," and in " King Lear" (ii. 2), 
Cornwall, referring to Kent, says : 
"Fetch forth the stocks '.-- 
You stubborn ancient knave." 
It would seem that formerly, in great houses, as in some 
colleges, there were movable stocks for the correction of 
the servants, l'utting a person in the stocks, too, was an 
exhibition familiar to the ancient stage. In " Hick Scorn- 
er, '' printed in the reign of Henry VIII., Pit)" is placed in 
the stocks, and lcft there until he is freed " by Perseverance 
and Contemplacyon." 
Str«ltmh». This was a military punishment, by which 
the unfortunate sufferer was cruelly tortured in the follow- 

 See Dvce's " Glossary," p. 49; Halliwell-Phillipps's "Handbook 
Index to Shakespeare," p. 56 ; Nares's " Glossary," vol. i. p. 
= It is reprinted in Hawkins's " English Drama," I773. 



PUNISHMENTS. 44 1 
ing way: a rope being fastened under lais arms, he was 
drawn up by a pulley to the top of a high bcam, and then 
suddenly let down with a jerk. The result usually was a 
dislocation of the shouldcr-blade. In "  tIcnry IV." (ii. 4"), 
it is refcrred to bv Falstaff, who tclls Poins: "were I at 
the strappado, or all thc racks in the world, I would hot tell 
you on colnpulsion." At Paris, says Douce, 1 "there was a 
spot called l'cstra]ad«, in the Faubourg St. Jacques, where 
soldiers rcceived this punishment. The machine, whence 
the place took its naine, remained fi×ed like a pcrpetual 
gallows." The terre is probably dcrivcd ri'oto thc Italian 
str«]lacc, to pull or draw with violence. 
7"oss i « Niez'c. This pulishment, according to Cotgrave, 
was inflictcd" on such as committcd gross absurdities." In 
"x l lcnry VI." (i. 3"), Glostcr says to the Bishop of Win- 
chestcr : 
" l'll canvass thee in thy broad cardinal's hat, 
If thou proceed in this thy insolence." 
It is alludcd to in l)avenant's " Cruel Brothcr" (163o) : 
" l'll sift and winow him in an old bat." 
ll'h,'cl. The punishment of the wheel was hot known at 
Rome, but we read of l\Iettius Tuffetius bcing tol-n asundcr 
by q«dr@e driven in opposite directions. As Shakespeare, 
remarks Malone, "has coupled this species of punishment 
with another that certainly was ullklloWll to ancient Rome, 
it is highly probable that he was hot apprised of the story 
of Mettius Tuffetius, and that in this, as in various other 
instances, the practice of lais own times was iii lais thoughts, 
for in 1594 John Chhstel had been thus executed in France 
for attelnpting to assassinate Henry IV." 
Coriolanus (iii. 2) says: 
" Let thern pull all about mine ears, present me 
Death on the wheel, or at wild horses' heels." 
IV/;ipiug'. Three centuries ago this mode of punishment 
was carried to a cruel extent. By an act passed in the 2d year 

' " Illustrations of Shakespeare." pp. e63, e4 ; see Dyce's "Glossary," 
423. 



44 2 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
of Hcm'y VIII., vagrants were to be carried to some market- 
tow1, or othcr place, and there tied to the end of a cart, 
naked, and beaten with xx'hips throughout such market- 
town, or other place, till the body should be bloody by rea- 
son of such xx-hippig." Thc punishment was afferwards 
slightly mitigatcd, for, by a statutc passed in 39th of Eliz- 
abeth's reign, vagrants " were only to be stripped naked from 
the middle tpwards, and xvhipped till the body should be 
bloody." Thc stocks were often so constructed as to serve 
both for stocl¢ and whil»ping-posts. ' Among the numerous 
references to this punishmcnt by Shakespeare, xxe may quote 
"2 Henry IV." (v. 4), wherc the bcadlc says of Hostess 
Quickly: "q'he constables have delivered her over to me, 
and she shall have xx'hil»pilg-chcer enough, I warrant her." 
I the " Taming of the Sbcw " (i. ), Grcmio says, speaking 
of Katharina, " I had as licf take her dowry with this condi- 
tion,--to bc whipped at thc high-cross every morning," in 
allusion to xhat 110rtensio had just said : " why, man, there 
be good fellows in the xx'orld, an a man could light on them, 
would take ber with all faults, and money enough." In "2 
Henry VI." (il. , Gloster ordcrs Simpcox and his xx'ife to 
" be whipped through every market-town. 
Till they corne to Berwick, trom whence they came. ' 
lIïst. This was a punishment for a scold.  It appears 
that "a xvisp, or small twist of straw or hay, was offen ap- 
plied as a mark of opprobrium to an immodest xx'oman, a 
scold, or similar offender; even, therefore, thc showing it 
to a xx-oman, xx'as considered a grievo.us affront." In "3 
Henry VI." (il. 2) Edward says of Queen Margaret : 
"A wisp of straw were worth a thousand crowns, 
To make this shameless callat  know herself." 

' See " Book of Days. ' vol. i. pp. 598, 599- 
* Nares's " Glossary ." vol. il. p. 965. 
 " Callat," an immodest voman. also applied to a scold. Cf. "Win- 
ter's Tale," ii. 3 : 
" A callat 
Of boundless tongue, who late hath beat her husband, 
And nov baits me." 



PUNISHMENTS. 443 
A wisp, adds Narcs, secms to havc been the badge of the 
scolding woman in the ccremony of Skimmington;' an allu- 
sion to which is given in a " Dialogue betwecn John and 
Jonc, striving who shall wear the breeches," in the " Plcas- 
ures of l'oetry," cited by lXIalonc : 
"Good, gentle Jone, with-holde thy handes, 
This once let me entreat thee, 
And make me promise never more, 
That thou shalt mind to beat me : 
For fear thou wcar the wispe, good wife. 
And make our neighbours ride." 
In Nash's" l'ierce l'elmilcsse " ( 593) thcre is also an amus- 
ing allusion to it: "\Vhy, thou errant buttcr-whore, thou 
cotquean and scrattop of scolds, wilt thou ncvcr leave afflict- 
ing a dead calcasse ? continually read the rhctorick lecture 
of Rammc-alley ? a wispc, a wispe, you kitchcn-stuffe wrang- 

I Skimmington was a burlesque ceremony in ridicule of a mln beaten 
by his wife, See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," vol. il. pp. I91,192. 



CHAPTER XIX. 
PROVERBS. 
IN the present chapter are collected together the chief 
proverbs either quoted or alluded to by Shakespeare. Many 
of these are familiar to most readers, but have gained an 
additional interest by reason of their connection with the 
poet's writings. At the saine rime, it may be noted that 
very many of Shakespeare's pithy sayings have, since his 
day, passed into proverbs, and have taken their place in this 
class ofliterature. It is curious to notice, as Mrs. Cowden- 
Clarke remarks,' how " Shakespeare has paraphrased some 
of out commonest proverbs in his own choice and elegant 
diction." Thus," Make hay while the sun shines" becomes 
"The sun shines hot ; and if we use delay. 
Cold biting winter mars our hoped-for hay," 
a statement which applies to numerous other proverbial 
sayings. 
" A black man is a jewel in a fair woman's eyes." In the 
" Two Gcntlemen of Verona " (v. 2), the following passage 
is an amusing illustration of the above : 
" Thttrio. What says she to my face ? 
Jrolgts. She says it is a fair one. 
Thurio. Nay then, the wanton lies ; my face is black. 
Prot«tts. But pearls are fair ; and the old saying is, 
Black men are pearls in beauteous ladies' eyes." 
In "Titus Andronicus" (v. ) there is a fi,rther allusion 
to this proverb, where Lucius says of Aaron, 
"This is the pearl that pleas'd your empress' eye." 

* "Shakespeare Proverbs,"  858. 



PROVERBS. 
" A beggar marries a wife and lice." 
{`iii. 2), Song : 

445 
So in " King Lear" 

"The cod-piece that will house, 
Before the head has any, 
The head and he shall louse; 
So beggars marry many." 
Thus it is also said: " A beggar payeth a benefit with a 
louse." 
"A cunning knave needs no broker." This old proverb 
is quoted by Hume, in " 2 Henry VI." (i. 2 : 
" A crafty knave does need no broker." 
" A curst cur must be tied short." \Vith this proverb ve 
may compare what Sir Toby says in " Twelfth Night " (iii. 2), 
to Sir ¢kndrew: "Go, write il: in a martial hand; be curst 
and brief." 
".A drop hollows the stone," or " many drops pierce the 
stone." \Ve ma¥ compare " 3 Henry VI." {,iii. _."), " much 
rain wears the marble," and also the messcnger's words 
(ii. I),when he relates how " the noble Duke of York was 
slain :" 
" Environed he was with many foes ; 
And stood against them, as the hope of Troy 
Against the Greeks. that would have enter'd Troy. 
But ttercules himself must yield to odds ; 
And many strokes, though with a little axe, 
Hew down and fell the hardest-timber'd oak. 
"A finger in every pie." So, in " Henry VIII." (i. I), 
Buckingham says of Wolsev : 
" no man's pie is freed 
From his ambitious finger." 
To the same purport is the following proverb :l ,, He had 
a finger in the pie when he burnt his nail off." 
"A fool's bolt is soon shot." Quoted by Duke of Orleans 
in " Hen W V." (iii. 7)- With this we may compare the 
French : " De fol juge breve sentence. ,,= 

Bohn's "Handbook of Proverbs," p. 59. 
Ibid. p. 94- 



446 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"A friend at court is as good as a penny in the purse." 
So, in "2 Hcnl T IV." (v. l), Shallow says: "a friend i' the 
court is bettcr than a pcnny in purse." The French equiv- 
alent of this saying is: " Bon fait avoir ami en cour, car le 
procès en est plus court." 
"A little pot's soon hot." Grumio, in " Taming of the 
Shrcw" (iv.. I), uses this familiar proverb: "were hot I a 
little pot, and soon hot, my very lips might fleeze to my 
tceth," etc. 
"A pox of thc devil " (" IIenry V.," iii. 7). 
"A smoky chiluncy and a scolding wife are two bad coin- 
panions." There are various vcrsions of this proverb. Ray 
gives the following : "Slnoke, raining into the house, and a 
scolding vifç, will make a man run out of doors." 
Hotspur, in " IIcnry IV." (iii. ), says of Glendower : 
"ç). he's as tedious 
As a tired horse, a railing wife ; 
Worse than a smoky house." 
'" A shake lies hidden in the grass." This, as Mr. Grecn' 
remarks, is no unfrequcnt proverb, and the idea is often 
ruade use of by Shakespeare. Thus, in "2 Henry VI." (iii. I), 
Margaret declal'es to the attendant nobles: 
" Henry mv lord is cold in great affairs, 
Too full of foolish pity : and Gloster's show 
Beguiles him, as the mournful crocodile 
With sorrow snares relenting passengers, 
Or as the snake, roll'd in a flowering bank, 
With shining checker'd slough, doth sting a child, 
That for the beauty thinks it e.-:cellent." 
Lady Macbeth (i. 5) tells her husband : 
"look like the innocent flower, 
But be the serpent under't." 
Juliet (" lïomeo and Juliet," iii. 2) speaks of: 
"Serpent heart, hid with a flowering face." 

 "Shakespeare and the Emblem Writers," 187o, p. 341. 



PROVERBS. 447 
"A staff is quickly round to beat a dog." Othcr vcrsions 
of this proverb are: "It is easy to find a stick to beat a 
dog;" "It is casy to find a stone to throw at a dog."' 
So, il " 2 Henry VI." (iii. I), Glostcr says: 
" I shall not want false witness to condemn me, 
Nor store of treasons to augmcnt my guilt ; 
The ancient proverb will be well effected,-- 
A staff is quickly round to beat a dog." 
"A wise mal may lire anywhere." h " Richard II." 
(i. 3), John of Gaunt says: 
"All places that the eye of heaven visits. 
Are to a wise man ports and happy havens. » 
" A wolna colceals what she does hot l«ow." Ilence 
Hotspur says to his wife, ill " I tlcnly IV." (il. 3): 
Cnstant )'ou are. 
But yet a woman : and for secrecy, 
No lady closer ; for I well believe 
Thou wilt hot utter what thou dost hOt know.-- 
And so far will I trust thee, gentle Kate." 
"Ail men are not alike" (" Much \do About Notlfing," 
iii. 5)? 
"All's Well that Ends Well." 
"As lean as a rake." So in " Coriolanus" (i. I), one of 
the citizens say's: " Let us revenge this with out pikes, ere 
we become rakes." So Spenser, in his " Fairy Queen" (bl« 
il. can. I 
" His body leane and meagre as a rake." 
This proverb is round iii Chaucer's " Canterbury Tales" 
(i. 289) : 
"A1 so lene was his hors as is a rake." 
"As thin as a whipping-post" is another proverb of the 
saine kind. 

' See Kelly's " Proverbs of AIl Nations," I87O, p. t57. 
 Halliwell-Phillipps's " Handbook Index to Shakespeare," p. 39 o, 
under Proverbs. 



448 FOLK-LORE OF StIAKESPEARE. 
" As mad as a March hare " (" The Two Noblc Kinsmen," 
iii. 5). \Ve may compare the expression " hare-brained :" 
" I Henry IV." (v. 2). 
"As sound as a bell." So in " 31uch Ado about Nothing" 
(iii. 2), Don Pedro says of Bcncdick: " He hath a heart as 
sound as a bell." 
• '_As the bell clinketh, so the fool thinkcth." This prov- 
erb is indircctly alludcd to in "' Much Ado _About Nothing" 
(iii. 2), in the previous passage, whcre Don l'edro says of 
Benedick that " He hath a heart as sound as a bcll, and his 
tongue is thc clapper; for what his hcart thinks, lais tongue 
speaks." 
Another form of the saine proverb is: "As the fool 
thinks, the bell tinks." ' 
".As true as stcel." This popular adage is quoted in 
"Troilus and Cressida" (,iii. 2) : 
"As true as steel, as plantage to the moon.'" 
\Ve may also compare the proverb : " -As truc as the dial 
to the sun." 
"A_t hand, quoth pick-purse " ("  Henry IV.," il. I). This 
proverbial saying arose, says Malone, from the pickpurse 
always seizing thc prey nearest him. 
" Ay, tell me that and unyoke " t,'" Hamlet," v. ). This 
was a common adage for giving over or ceasing to do a 
thing; a mctaphor derived from the unyoking of oxen at 
the end of their labor. 
"Baccare, quoth Mortimer to lais sow." \Vith this Mr. 
Halliwcll-I'hillipps compares Gremio's words in thc " Tam- 
ing of thc Shrew" (,ii. I): 
" Saving your tale, Petruchio. I pray, 
Let us, that are poor petitioners, speak too : 
Baccare ! you are marvellous forward." 
Mr. Dyce (" Glossary," p. 23 ) says the word signifies '" go 
back," and cites one of John Heywood's epigrams upon it: 

a See Kelly's "Proverbs of All Nations," p. 9 x. 



PROVERBS. 449 
" Backare, quoth Mortimer to his sow ; 
Went that sowe backe at that bidding, trow you." 
" Barnes arc blessings" ("All's \Vcll that Ends XVell," 
i. 
"' Basc is the slave that pays " (" I Icnry V.," il. 
" Bastards are born lucky." This proverb is alluded to in 
" King John " (i. I), by the Bastard, who says: 
" Brother, adicu ; good fortune corne to thee 
For thou wast got i' the vay of honesty." 
Philip wishcs his brothcr good fortune, because Robert was 
hot a bastard. 
" Beggars nountcd run thcir horses to dcath."* Quotcd 
by York in "3 Henry VI." (i. 4)- kVc may also compare 
thc provcrb: " Sct a bcggar on horscback, hc'll ridc to the 
dcvil." 
" Bcgone when the sport is at the best." Me. I Ialliwell- 
Phillipps quotes Benvolio's words in " Rolnco and Juliet " 
(i. 5) : 
"Away, be gone ; the sport is at the best." 
To the saine effect are Romeo's words (i. 4: 
'" The gaine was ne'er so fair, and I ara done." 
" Be off while your shoes are good." This popular phrasc, 
still in use, seems alludcd to by Katharina in " Taming of 
the Shrew " (iii. 2), who says to l'ctruchio : 
'" You may be jogging whiles your boots are green." 
" Bcttcr a witty fool, than a foolish wit." Quoted by thc 
clown in " Twelffh Night " (i. 5)- 
" Better fed than taught." This old saying may be 
alluded to in " All's Vell that Ends Vell" (ii. 2) by the 
¢lown, " I will show mysclf highly fed and lowly taught ;" 
and again (ii. 4) by Parollcs" 
"A good knave, i' faith, and well fed.'" 
" Blessin o[ your heart, you brew good ale." Quoted by 

 Halliwell-Phillipps's " Handbook Index to Shakespeare," p. 39 t. 
 See Bohn's " Handbook of Proverbs,'" p. 326. 
29 



450 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Launce as a proverb in the "Two Gentlcmen of Verona" 
(iii. I). 
" Blush like a black dog.'" This saying is referred to in 
• ' Titus Andronicus" (v. I)" 
"'  Gatlt. What, canst thou say ail this, and never blush ? 
Aarot. Ay, like a black dog, as the saying is." 
" Boughl and sold" ("Troilus and Cressida," ii. I). A 
proverbial phrase applied to any one entrapped or ruade a 
victim by treachery or mismanagement. It is round again 
in the " Comedy of Errors" (iii. I) ; in " Içing Jolm " (v. 4" 
and in " Richard III." (v. 3)- 
" Bring your hand to the buttcry-bar, and let it drink" 
(" Twelflh Night," i. 3)- Mr. Dyce quotes the following ex- 
planation of this passage, although he does hot answer for 
its correctness : " This is a proverbial phrase among forward 
abigails, to ask at once for a kiss and a present. Sir 
drew's slowness of comprehcnsion in this particular gave 
her a just suspicion, at once, of lais frigidity and avarice." 
The buttery-bar means the place in palaces and in great 
houses whence provisions were dispcnsed ; and it is still to 
be seen in most of our colleges. 
"Brag's a good dog, but tlold-fast is a better." This 
proverb is alluded to in " Henry V." (il. 3), by Pistol: 
'" Hold-fast is the only dog, my duck." ' 
" Bush natural, more hair than wil;." Ray's Proverbs. 
So in "Two Gentlemen of Verona" (iii. I), it is said, "She 
hatb more hair than wit." 
" t;.v chance but hOt by truth " = (" King John," i. I). 
" Care will kill a car; )'et there's no living without it." 
So in " Much Ado About Nothing" (v. ), Claudio says to 
Don Pedro: "\Vhat though care killed a car, thou hast 
mettle enough in thee to kill care." 
" Corne cut and long-tail " (" Merry \Vives of \Vindsor,'" 

' See Bohns " Handbook of Proverbs," p. 333 ; Kelly's " Proverbs 
of ail Nations." I87O. p. I73. 
 Halliwell-Phillipps's " Handbook Index to Shakespeare," p. 39 . 



PROVERBS. 45 ! 
(iii. 4)- This proverb means," Let any corne that may, good 
or bad ;" and was, no doubt, sa.vs Staunton, originally applied 
to dogs or horses." 
" Comparisons are odious." So, in " Much \do About 
Nothing" (,iii. 5), Dogberry tells Vcrgcs : "Comparisons are 
odorous." 
" Confcss and be hanged." This wcll-known proverb is 
probably alludcd to in the " Merchant of Vcnice" (iii. 21: 
"I¢,assa,'o. Promise me lire, and l'll confess the truth. 
Z'o't¢t. Vell then, confess, and lire." 
Wc ma)" also refcr to what Othello says (iv. ): " To con- 
fess, and be hanged for his labour; first, to bc hanged, and 
then to confcss. I tremble at it." " 
In "Tilnon of Athens" (i. ),Apemantus says: " Ito, ho, 
confess'd it ! hang'd it, have 3-ou hot ?" 
'" Cry him, and have him." So Rosalind says, in "As You 
Like It " I.i. 3), " If I could cry ' hem' and have him." 
"Cry yoa lncrcy, I took 3-ou for a joint-stool" (" King 
Lear," iii. 6). It is given by Ray in his "Provelbs"(ï68); 
see also " Taming of the Shrew " (il. I). 
"Cucullus non facit monachum." So in " Henry VIII." 
(iii. I), Queen Kathcrine says: 
"Ail hoods make not monks." 
Chaucer thus alludes to this proverb : 
" Habite ne maketh monk ne feere ; 
But a clean lire and devotion 
Maketh gode men of religion." 
"Dead as a door-nail." So, in "2 IIenry VI." (iv. o), 
Cade says to Idcn: " I have eat no meat these rive da's; 
yet, corne thou and thy rive men, and if I do hot leave you 
all as dead as a door-nail, I pray God I may never eat grass 
more." 
\Ve may compare the term, " dead as a herring," which 
Caius uses in the " Mcrry \Vives of \Vindsor" (,il. 3 3, " By 
gar, de herring is no dead, so as I vill kill him." 
" Death will have his day " (," Richard II.," iii. 



452 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"Dcla)'s are dangerous." In " I Henry VI." (iii. 2), 
Reignier says: 
" Defer no rime. dclays have dangerous ends." 
" Dilucu]o surgere, etc. (" Twelfth ±,gnt, il. 3)- 
" Dogs must eat." This, with scveral other provcrbs, is 
quoted by Agrippa in " Coriolanus" (i. I). 
'" I)un's thc mousc" (" Romco and Julict," i. 4). This was 
a provcrbial saying, of which no satisfactory cxplanation has 
yct been given. Narcs thinks it was" frcqucntly cmployed 
with no other intcnt than that of quibbling on the word 
dow." Ray has, "as dun as a mouse." Mercutio says: 
"Tut, dun's the mouse, thc constable's own word." 
" Empty vessels give the greatest sound." Quoted in 
" Hcnry V." (iv. 4)- 
" F.very dog bath lais day, and evcry man lais hour." This 
old adage seems alludcd to by IIamlct (v. I) :' 
'" The car will mcw. and dog will have his day." 
" Evm T man at forty is eithcr a fool or a physician. ''" 
This popular proverb is probably referred to in " Merry 
Vives of "Windsor" (iii. 4), by Mistrcss Quickly, who tells 
Fcnton how she had recommended him as a suitor for Mr. 
l'age's daughter instead of Doctor Caius: "This is m b- doing, 
now : ' Nay,' said I,' will you cast away your child on a fool, 
and a physician ? look on Master Fenton :'--this is my do- 
ing." 
"Familiarity breeds contempt." So, in the " Merry "Vives 
of l,Vindsor" (i. I), Slender says: " I hope, upon familiarity 
will grow more contempt." 
" Fast bind, fast find." In " Merchant of Venice" (il. ), 
Shylock says : 
"Well, Jessica, go in : 
Perhaps I will return immediately : 
' Bohn's "' Handbook of Proverbs," p. 86. 
= Ray gives another Iorm " " Every man is either a fool or a physi- 
clan after thirty years of age ;" seê Bohn's '" Handbook of Proverbs," 
857, p. 27. 



PROVERBS. 453 
Do as I bid you ; shut doors after you ; 
Fast bind, fast find ; 
A proverb never stale in thrifty mind." 
"Finis coronat opus." A translation of this Latin proverb 
is givcn by I lelena in "All's Well that Ends \Vell "' (iv. 4)" 

" Still the fine's the crowll." 

In '" 2 tenrv VI." (v. 2), aiso, Clifford's cxpiring words are: 
" La fin couronne les oeuvres." \Ve still have the expression 
fo croa,n, in the sense of fa fini«/ or roche o'ct. Mr. 
Douce' remarks that "carankh'm l)Zlfloucrv is a metal)hor well 
l«own to the ancients, and supl)oscd to have originated 
from the practice of finishing buildings by placing a crown 
at the top as an ornament; and for this reason the words 
crow», t«, and h««d are become synonymous in most lan- 
guages. There is reason for belicving that the ancients 
placed a crescent at thc beginning, and a crown, or some 
ornamcnt that rescmblcd it, at the end oftheir books." In 
" Troilus and Cressida " (iv. 5), Hcctor says : 
"The fall of evew Phrygian stone will cost 
A drop of Grecian blood : the end crowns all ; 
And that old common arbitrator, Time, 
XVill one day end it." 
Prince Henry ("2 I[enry IV.," ii. 2), in reply to l'oins, gives 
another turn to thc proverb : " By this hand, thou think'st 
me as far in the devil's book as thou and Falstaff, for obdu- 
racy and persistency: let the end try the man."' 
" Fly pride, says the peacock." This is quoted by Dro- 
mio of Syracuse, lu "The Comedy of Errors "' (iv. 3)? 
"Fricuds may meet, but mountains nevcr greet." This 
is ironically alluded to in "' As You Likc It" (iii. 2"), by Celia : 
" It is a hard matter for fi-iends to meet; but mountains 
may be removed with earthquakes, aud so encouuter." 

' " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. 99- 
-" See Green's "Shakespeare and the Emblem Writers," 187o, pp. 
39, 323 . 
a Halliwell-Phillipps's " Handbook Index to Shakespeare,'" p. 39L 



454 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"Give the devil his due." In " Henry V." (iii. 7) it is 
quoted by the Duke of Orleans. 
" God sends fools fortune." It fs to this version of the 
Latin adage, " Fortuna favet fatals " (" Fortune favors 
fools"), that Touchstone alludes in his reply to Jaques, in 
".As You Like It" (if. ï): 
"' No, sir,' quoth he, 
' Çall me hot fool till heaven hath sent me fortune.'" 
Under diffcrent forms, the same proverb fs found on the 
Continent. The Spanish sa)-, "The mother of God appears 
to fools;" and the German one fs this, " Fortune and wom- 
en are fond of fools."' 
" God sends not corn for the rich only." This fs quoted 
by Marcius in " Coriolanus " (i- ). 
"Good goosc, do hot bite." This proverb fs used in 
" Romeo and Juliet" (if. 4): 
"3[,.r««l¢'o. I will bite thee by the ear for that jest. 
No»oto. Nay, good goose, bite hOt." 
" Good liquor will make a cat speak." So, in the " Tem- 
pest" (if. 2), Stephano says : " Corne on your ways : open 
your mouth; here fs that which will give language to you, 
cat ; open your mouth." 
" Good wine needs no bush." This old proverb, which fs 
quoted by Shakespeare in "As You Like It " (v. 4, " Epi- 
logue")--" If it be truc that good wine needs no bush, "tis 
true that a good play needs no epilogue "--refers to the 
custom of hanging up a bunch of twigs, or a wisp ofhay, at 
a roadside inn, as a sign that drink may be had within. 
This practice, " which still lingers in the cider-making coun- 
ties of the west of England, and prevails more generally in 
France, fs derived from the Romans, among whom a bunch 
of ivy was used as the sign of a wine-shop." They were 
also in the habit of saying, "Vendible wine needs no ivy 
hung up." The Spanish have a proverb, '" Good wine needs 
I10 crier. '' 

Kelly's " Proverbs of Ail Nations," 872, p. 52. 
Ibid., 87o, pp. 75, 76. 



PROVERBS. 455 
" Greatest clerks not the wisest men." Mr. Halliwell- 
Phillipps, in lais " ttandbook Index to Shakespeare " (p. 39), 
quotes the following passage in " Twelfth Night " (iv. 2), 
where lIaria tells the clown to personate Sir Topas, the 
curate : " I ara hot tall enough to become the function well, 
nor lean enough to be thought a good studcnt; but to be 
said an honcst man and a good housckecper goes as fairly 
as to say a careful man and a great scholar." 
" Happy man be his dole" 12' Taming of the Shrew," i. 
 : "  Henry IV.," ii. 2). Ray has it," ltappy man, happy 
dole ;" or, " Happy man by his dole." 
"Happy the bride on whom the sun shines." Mr. Halli- 
well-Phiilipps, in his " Ilandbook Index to Shakespeare" 
l,p. 392), quotes, as an illustration of this popular proverb, 
the following passage in "T«velfth Night" (iv. 3), where 
Olivia and Scbastian, having ruade "a contract of eterna] 
bond of love," the former says : 
"and heavens so shine, 
That they may fairly note this act of mine !" 
"Happy the child whose fathcr went to the devil."' So, 
in " 3 Itcnry VI." ,ii. 2), King Henry asks, interrogatively: 
"And happy always was it for that son. 
Whose father, for his hoarding, went to hell ?" 
The Portuguese say, "Alas for the son whose fatF_cr goes 
to heaven." 
" Hares pull dead lions by the beard." In " King John " 
(il. ), the Bastard says to Austria: 
"You are the hare oI whom the proverb goes, 
Whose valour plucks dead lions by the beard." 
" Have is have, however men do catch." Quotcd by the 
Bastard in " King John " {,i. ). 
" Heaven's above ail." In " Richard II." (iii. 3) York tells 
Bolingbroke : 

See 13ohn's " Handbook of Proverbs," p. _oo; Kelly's "' Proverbs 
Nations," p. 87. 



456 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"' Take hot, good cousin, further tban you should. 
Lest you mistake : the heavens are o'er our heads. ' 
So, too, in " Othello " (il. 3), Cassio says : " Heaven's above 
all."' 
" He is a poor cook who cannot lick his OWll fingers." 
Under a variety of fOllYIS, this proverb is round in different 
countries. The Italians say, " He who mariages other peo- 
ple's wealth does hOt go supperless to bed." The Dutch, 
too, say, " AII officers are greasy," that is, something sticks 
to thcm.' In " Romeo and Juliet" (iv. 2) the saying is thus 
alluded to: 

'" Caiul,'t. Sirrah. go hire me twenty cunning cooks. 
OE '«re,,11[. ¥OH shall bave none iii, sir; for l'Il try if they can lick 
thcir fingers. 
CalCuler. How canst thou try then so ? 
2 Scrvad. Marry, sir, 'tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fin- 
gers : therefore he that cannot lick his fingers goes hot with me." 
" He's mad, that trusts in the tameness of a wolf, a horse's 
health, a bov's love, or a whore's oath" ('" King Lear," 
iii. 6). ' 
" Herouln filii noxm." It is a common notion that a fa- 
ther above the common rate of men has usually a son below 
it. Hence, in " The Telnpest " (i. 2), Shakespeare probable- 
alludes to this Latin proverb: 
"My trust, 
Like a good parent, did beget of him 
A falsehood, in its contrary as great 
As my trust was." 
" He knows hOt a hawk froln a handsaw." Hamlet says 
(ii. 2) : " Whcn the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a 
handsaw." 
" He may hang hilnself in lais own garters." So, Falstaff 
(" t Henry IV." ii. 2) says: " Go, hang thyself in thille own 
hcil-apparelat galters." 

 Halliwell-Phillipps's "' Handbook Index to Shakespeare," p. 392. 
 See Kelly's "Proverbs of AIl Nations," 87o, pp. 96, 97- 
 Halliwell-Phillipps's " Handbook Index to Shakespeare," p. 392. 



r«»VEgS. 457 
" Hc that is born to be hanged will ncvcr be drowncd." 
In " Thc Tempest" (i. ), Gonzalo says of the Boatsvain : 
" I bave grcat comfort from this fclloxv: methinks hc bath 
no drowning mark upon him; lais complexiou is perfect 
gallows. Stand fast, good Fate, to lais hauging make the 
rope of his destiny out cable, for out own doth litt!e advan- 
tage  Ifhe be hot born to be hanged, out case is miserable.'" 
The Italians say, "He that is to dic by the gallows may 
dance on the river." 
" IIe that dies pays all debts" ("The Tempest," iii. ). 
" He who eats uith the devil hath need of a long spoon." 
This is rcferred to by Stcphano, in " The Tempest" (ii. ): 
"This is a devil, aud no monster: I will leave him: I have 
no long spoon." Again, in the "Comcdy of Errors" (iv. 3), 
Dromio of Syracuse says : " He must bave a long spoon that 
must eat with the devil." 
The old adage, which tells how 
" He that will not when he may, 
When he will he shall have nay," 
is quoted in "Antony and Cleopatra '" Iii. 71 by Menas : 
"Who seeks, and will hot take, whcn once 'ris offer'd, 
Shall never find it more." 
" Hold hook and line" ("2 Henry IV.," il. 4)- This, 
says Dyce, is a sort of cant proverbial expression, which 
sometimes occurs in our carly writers (" Glossary," p. 2 o). 
" Hold, or cut bow-strings"' ("A Midsummcr-Night's 
Dream," i. 2). 
" Honcst as the skin bctwecn lais brows" (." Much Ado 
About Nothing," iii. 5)? 
" Hungcr will break through stonc-walls." This is quoted 
by Marcius in " Çoriolanus" (i. ), who, in reply to Agrippa's 
question, " XVhat says the other troop ?" replies: 
"They are dissolved : bang 'cm  
They said they were an-hungry; sigh'd forth proverbs, 
That hunger broke stone-walls." etc. 

Sec page 394- "- " Handbook Index to Shakespeare," p. 392. 



458 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
According to an old Suffolk proverb,' " Hungcr will break 
through stone-walls, or anything, except Suffolk cheese." 
" I scorn that with my hecls " (" Much Ado About Notl»- 
ing,'" iii. 4). A hOt tlnCOiYllllOll proverbial expression. It is 
again rcferred to, in the " Merchant of Vcnice " (ii. 2), by 
Launcclot: "do not run; scorn running with thy heels." 
Dyce thinks it is alludcd to in "Venus and Adonis:" 
" Beating his kind embracements with her heels." 
" If 3"ou are wisc, kecp yourself warm." This proverb is 
probably alludcd to in the ""l'aminff of the Shrew " (il. ) : 
'" tdrucio. Ara I not wise ? 
A'allmrg*m. Yes; keep you warm." 
SO, in " Much Ado About Nothing" (i. ): " that if he have 
wit cnough to keep himself warm. 
" I fear no colours " (" Twelfth Night," i. 5)- 
" Ill-gotten goods never prospcr." This proverb is re- 
fcrred to by King Ilenry ("3 tlenry VI.," il. e): 
"Clifford, tell me. didst thou never hear 
That things ill got had ever bad success ?': 
" Illotis manibus tractare sacra." Falstaff, in "  Hen W 
IV." (iii. 3), says: " Rob me the exchequer the first thing 
thou dost, and do it with unwashed hands too." 
" Ill will never said well." This is quoted by Duke of 
Orleans in " Henry V." (iii. 7)- 
• ' In at the window, or else o'er the hatch " I," King John," 
i. ). Applied to illegitimate children. Staunton bas this 
note: "\Voe worth the time that ever a gave suck to a child 
that came in at the vindow !" 1" The Family of Love," 6o8). 
So, also, in " The \Vitches of Lancashire," by Heywood and 
Broome, 634: " It appears )-ou came in at the window." 
" I would hOt have )'ou think I scorn my grannam's cat to 
leap over the hatch." 
" It is a foul bird which defiles its own nest." This seems 

' Bohn's "Handbook of Proverbs," 857, p. 409. 



æROVERBS. 459 
alluded to in " As Vou Like It "' (iv. I), whcre Celia says to 
Rosalind : " ¥ou have simply misused out sex in your love- 
prate : we lrlUSt have your doublet and hose plucked over 
your head, and show the world what the bird hath done to 
her own nest." 
"It is a poor dog that is hot worth the whistling." So 
Goneril, in " King Lear" (iv. e): " I have been worth the 
whistle." 
"It is a wise child that knows its own father." In the 
" Mcrchant ofVenice" {il. 2), Launcelot has the converse of 
this: " It is a wise fathcr that knows his own child." 
"It is an iii wind that blows nobody good." So, in "3 
Henry VI." {il. 5), we read : 

"Ill blows the wind that profits nobody." 

And, bi "2 Henry IV." (v. 3), whcn Falstaff asks Pistol 
"What wind blew you hither ?" the latter replies : " Not the 
iii wind which blows no nlan to good." 
" It is easy to steal a shive rioto a cut loaf." In "Titus 
.&ndlonicus" (il. l), Dcmetrius refcrs to this proverb. Ra 5- 
has," 'Tis sale taking a shive out of a cut loaf." 
" It's a dear collop that's cut out of my own flesh." Mr. 
Halliwell-Phillipps thinks therc Inay bc possibly an allusion 
to this proverb in " 1 ttcnry VI." I,v. 4), whcre thc Shephcrd 
says of La l'ucelle : 

"God knows, thou art a collop of my flesh." 

"I will make a shaft or a boit of it." In the "Merry 
\Vives of \Vindsor" (iii. 4) this proverb is used by Slender.' 
Ray gives "to make a bolt or a shaft of a thing." This is 
equivalent to, " I will either Inake a good or a bad thing of 
it: I will take the risl«" 
" It is like a barber's chair" (" All's \Vcll that Ends \Vell," 
ii. ?.). 

1 A shaft is an arrow for the longboxv, a bolt is for the crossbow. 
Kelly's '" Proverbs of All Nations," p.  55. 



460 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
The followiilg passage, in "A Midsummer-Night's Dream " 
(iii. 2) : 
"Jack shall bave Jill ; 
Nought shall «o il] " 
The man shall have lais mare again, 
And all shall be well," 
refers to the popular proverb of oldcn times, says Staunton, 
signifying " all ended happily." So, too, Biron says, in 
"Love's Labour's Lost " (v. 2) : 
• ' (hr wooing doth not end like an old play ; 
Jack hath hot Jill." 
It occurs in Skelton's poem " Magnyfyccnce " (Dyce, ed. i. 
p. 234) : " Jack shall have Gyl ;" and in Heywood's " Dia- 
logue" (Sig. F. 3, 598) : 
• ' Corne, chat at haine, all is well, Jack shall have Gill." 
" Kindness will creep where it cannot go." Thus, in the 
"Two Gentlemen of Verona" (iv. 2), Proteus tells Thurio how 
"love 
Will creep in service where it cannot go." 
Tbere is a Scotch proverb, " Kindness vill creep whar it 
mauna gang. 
" Let the world slide" (" Tamin K of the Shrew,'" Induc- 
tion, sc. i.). 
" Let them laugh that win." Othello says (iv. : 
"So, so, so, so :--they laugh that win. » 
On the other hand, the French say, " Marchand qui perd ne 
peut rire." 
" Like will to like, as the dcvil said to the collier." \Vith 
this we may compare the followin passage in "Twelflh 
Night " (iii. 4) : " \Vhat, man ! 'tis hot for Gravity to play at 
cherry-pit with Satan: lanG hhn, foul collier !"-- collier 
having been, in Shakespeare's day, a terre of the highest 
reproach. 
" Losers have leave to talk." Titus Andronicus (iii. ) 
says : 



PROVERBS. 46 
"Then give me leave, for losers vill bave leave 
To ease their stomachs with their bitter tongues." 
" Maids say nay, and take." So Julia, in the "Two Gen- 
tlemen of Verona" (i. 2), says : 
" Since maids, in modesty, say ' No' to that 
Which they would have the profferer construe 'Ay.'" 
In " The Passionate Pilgrim " we read : 
" Have you not heard it said full oft. 
A woman's nay doth stand for nought ?" 
'" Make hay while the sun shines." King Edward, in " 3 
Henry VI." (iv. 8), alludes to this provcrb: 
"The sun shines hot ; and, if we use delay, 
Cold, biting winter mars our hop'd-for hay." 
The above proverb is peculiar to England, and, as Trench 
remarks, could have its birth o1115- under such variable skies 
aS 01.1 l'S, 
" Many talk of Robin Hood that never shot in his bow." 
So, in "  Henry IV." (iii. _), Justice Shallow, says I"alstaff, 
"talksas familiarly of John o' Gaunt as ifhe had been sworn 
brother to him : and l'Il be sworn a' never saw him but once 
in the Tilt-yard,--and then he burst his head, for crowding 
among the marshal's men." 
" Marriage and hanging go by destiny." This proverb is 
the popular creed respecting marriage, and, under a variety 
of forms, is round in different countries. Thus, in '" Mer- 
chant of Venice" Iii. 9), Nerissa says: 
"The ancient saying is no heresy,-- 
Hanging and wiving goes by destiny." 
Again, in "_A_ll's \Vell that lnds \Vell" (i. 3), the Clown sa)'s: 
" For I the ballad will repeat, 
Vhich men full true shall find ; 
Your marriage cornes by destiny. 
Your cuckoo sings by kind." 

 " But now consider the old proverbe to be true, yt saieth that mar- 
riage is destitue. --Hall  "Chronicles." 



462 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
\Ve may compare the well-known proverb, " Marriages are 
ruade in heaven," and the Frcnch version, " Les mariages 
sont écrits dans le ciel." 
" Marriage as bad as hanging." I n " Twelfth Night" (i. 5), 
the Clown says: "Many a good hanging prevents a bad 
marrmge. 
" Marry trap" (" Merry \Vives of \Vindsor," i. I). This, 
says Nares, " is apparently a kind of proverbial exclamation, 
as lnuch as to say,' By Mary, you are caught.' " 
" Meat was lnade for mouths." Quoted in " Coriolanus" 
(i. l'j. 
" lIisfortunes seldom corne alone." This proverb is beau- 
tiflfily alluded to by the King in " Hamlet" (iv. 5) : 
- When sorrows corne, they come hOt single spies, 
But in battalions." 
The French say : " Malheur ne vient jamais seul." 
" More hair than xvit " (" Two Gentlemen of Verona," 
iii. 2). A well-known old English proverb. 
" lIortuo leoni et lepores insultant." This proverb is al- 
luded to by the Bastard in " King John" (ii. I), who says 
to the Archduke of Austria : 

"You are the hare of whom the proverb goes, 
Whose valour plucks dead lions by the beard. » 

" Much water goes by the mill the miller knows not of." 
This adage is quoted in "Titus Andronicus" (il. ), by 
Demetrius : 
" more water glideth by the mill 
Than wots the railler of." 

" My cake is dough " (" Taming of the Shrew," v. I). An 
obsolete proverb, repeated on the loss of hope or expecta- 
tion : the allusion being to the old-fashioned way of baking 
cakes at the embers, when it lnay have been occasionally 
the case for a cake to be burned on one side and dough 
on the other. In a former scene (i. I) Gremio says: "out 

* See Bohn's "Handbook of Proverbs," p. 116. 



PROVERBS. 463 
cake's dough on both sides." Staunton quotes from " The 
Case is Altcred," 6o9: 
"Steward, your cake is dough, as well as mine." 
" Murder will out." So, in the " Merchant of Venice" 
(ii. 2), Launcelot says: " Murdcr cannot be hid long,--a 
man's son ma)- ; but, in thc end, truth will out." 
" Near or fitr off, well won is still vell shot " (" King 
Jolm," i. t). 
" Needs must x'hen the devil drives." In "All's \Vell 
that Ends \Vcll" (i. 3), the Clown tclls thc Countcss : " I ara 
driven on by thc flesh ; and he must needs ,o, that the dcvil 
drives." 
" Ncithcr fish, nor flcsh, nor good red hcrrin,."' lValstaff 
says of the t[ostcss in "  t[etry IV." {,iii..3): "\Vhy, shc's 
neither fish nor flesh : a man knows hot where to have hcr." 
" One nail drives out another." h " Romeo and Juliet" 
(i. 2), I3envolio says: 
"Tut. man. one tire burns out another's burning. 
One pain is lessen'd by another's anguish ; 
Turn giddy, and be holp by backward turning; 
One desperate grief cures with another's languish : 
Take thou some nev infection to thy eye, 
And the tank poison of the old will die." 
The allusion, of cour'se, is to homoeopathy. The Italians 
sa)', " Poison quclls poison." 
"Old men are twice children ;" or, as they say in Scot- 
land, " Auld men are twice bairns." We may compare the 
Greek .Xlç w«1,ç o[ 7pot,r.'ç. The proverb occurs in " Haro- 
let" (il. 2): "Axa old man is twice a child." 
"Out of God's blessinK into thc warm sun." So Kent 
says in " King Lear" (il. 2) : 
"Good king. that must approve the common saw.-- 
Thou out of heaven's benediction coin'st 
To the warm sun." 

* See Bohn's "Handbook of Proverbs," pp. I6o, 



464 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
" Patience perforce is a mcdicine for a mad dog." This 
proverb is probably alluded to by Tybalt in " Romeo and 
Juliet" (i. 5): 
" Patience perforce with wilful choler meeting, 
Makes my flesh tremble in their different greeting." 
And again, in " Richard [[[." (i. ): 
• ' Glost«r. Mcantime, have patience. 
C[aroa'e. I must perforce: farewell." 
" l'itch and l'ay" 1," [Ienry V.," ii. 3). This is a proverbial 
expression equivalent to " Pay down at once."' It probably 
originatcd froln pitching goods in a lnarkct, and paying im- 
mediately for thcir standing. Tusser, in his " Description 
of Norwich," calls it : 
"A city trim, 
,Vhere strangers well may seem to dwell. 
That pitch and pay, or keep their day." 
" Pitchers have ears." Baptista quotes this proverb in 
the " Taming of the Shrcw" (iv. 4) : 
"Pitchers have ears, and I have many servants." 
_According to another old proverb: "Small pitchers have 
great ears." 
" l'oor and proud ! fy, fy." Olivia, in " Twe]fth Night" 
(iii. ), says : 
"O world, how apt the poor are to be proud !" 
" Praise in departing '" ("The Tempest," iii. 3)- Thc mean- 
ing is: "Do hot praise your entertainment too soon, lest yon 
should have reason to retract your commendation." Staun- 
ton quotes ffoto "The Paradise of Dainty Devises," 596: 
"A good beginning oft we sec, but seldome standing at one stay. 
For few do like the meane degree, then praise at parting some men 
say." 
" Pray God, my girdle break "" ("  ttenry IV.," iii. 3)- 

 See Dyce's "Glossary," p. 3_3 . 
' Halliwell-Phillipps's " Handbook Index to Shakespeare," p. 393- 



PROVERBS. 465 
" Put your finger in the tire and say it was your fortune." 
_An excellent illustration of this provcrb is given by lïdmund 
in " King Lear" (i. 2): " This is the excellent foppery of 
the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, we make guilty 
of our disasters, the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we 
were villains o11 necessity; fools, by heavcnly compulsion ; 
knaves, thieves, and t.reachers, by spherical predominance; 
drunkards, liars, and adultcrcrs, by an enfolccd obedience of 
planetary influence ; and ail that we a:re evil in, by a divine 
thrusting on : an admirable evasion," etc. 
" Respice fincm, respice flrem." It has been suggested 
that Shakespeare (" Comedy of Errors," iv. 4) may have met 
with these words in a popular pamphlet of his rime, by 
George Buchanan, entitlcd " Chamœeleon Redivivus- or, Na- 
thaniel's Character Reversed"--a satire against the Laird 
of Lidingstone, 157o, which concludes with the following 
words, " Respice finem, respice furem." 
"Seldom cornes the botter." In " Richard III." (il. 3), 
one of the citizens says: 
• ' Ill news. by'r lady ; seldom cornes the better : 
I fear, I fear, 'twill prove a troublous world " 
--a proverbial saying of great antiquity. Mr. Douce' cites 
an account of its origin fi-om a MS. collection of stories in 
Latin, compiled about the time of Henry III. 
" Service is no inheritance." So, in " All's Well that Ends 
Well" (i. 3), the Clown says : " Service is no heritage." 
" Sit thee down, sorrow '" (" Love's Labour's Lost," i. ). 
" Sit at the stern." A proverbial phrase meaning to have 
the management of public aff:airs. So, ill " I Henry VI." 
(i. I), .Vinchester says : 
"The king from Eltham I intend to steal, 
And sit at chiefest stern of public weal." 
"She has the mends in her own hands." This proverbial 
phrase is of frequent occurrence in our old writers, and prob- 
ably signifies, " It is her own fault ;" or, " The remedy lies 

' " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p.  
30 



466 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
with herself." Itis used by Pandarus in "Troilus and 
Crcssida" (i. I). ]3urton, in lais "Anatomy of Melancholy," 
writes : " And if l-nen will be jealous in such cases, the mends 
is in thcir own hands, they lnust thank themselves." 
" Small hcrbs have grace, great weeds do grow apace" 
(" Richard I I I.," ii. 4). 
" So wise so young, do nc'cr lire long" (" Richard III "' 
iii. I).' 
"So like you, 'ris the worse." This is quoted as an old 
proverb by l'aulina in thc " \Vinter's Tale" (il. ) 
 - 
" Something about, a little rioto the right " (" King John," 
" Sowed cocklc, rcap no corn" (".Love's Labour's Lost," 
iv. 3)- 
" Speak by the card "' (" Hamlet," v.I.). A merchant's 
expression, cquivalent to " bc as precise as a map or book." 
The card is thc documcnt in writing containing the agree- 
ment ruade between a merchant and the captain of a vessel. 
Sometimes thc owner binds hilnself, ship, tackle, and furni- 
ture, for due performance, and the captain is bound to de- 
clare the cargo committed to hhn in good condition. Hence, 
" to speak by the card" is to speak according to the inden- 
tures or written instructions. 
" Still swine eat ail the draff" (" Mcrry Wives of Wind- 
sot," ix'. _2). Ray gives: "Thc still soxv eats up ail the 
draught." 
" Still waters run deep." So in "2 t[cnry VI." (iii. 
Suffolk says : 
"Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep." 
" Strike sali." A proverbial phrase to acknowledge one's 
self beaten. In " 3 Henry VI." (iii. 3), it occurs" 

" now Margaret 
Must strike her sail and learn awhile to serve, 
Where kings command." 

 See page 33 z. 



tIOVF.IS. 467 
Vhen a ship, in fight, or on meeting another ship, lets down 
ber topsails at least half-mast high, she is said to strike, that 
is, to submit or pay respect to the other.' 
" Strike while the iron is hot." Poins probably alludes to 
this proverb in "2 I Ienry IV." (il. 41: '" My lord, he will 
drive you out of your revenge, and tul'n ,ail to a merriment. 
if)-ou take not the heat." 
Again, in " King Lear" (i. I), Goneril adds : " \Ve muet do 
something, and i' the heat." 
"Take all, pay ail" (" Merry \Vives of \Vindsor," ii. 2). 
Ray gives another version of this provelb : " Take all, and 
pay the baker." 
"Tell the truth and shame the devil." In "  IIenry IV." 
(iii. I), Hotspur tells Glendower: 

'" I can teach thee, coz. to shame the devil 
By telling truth : tell truth, and shame the devil." 

" That was laid on with a trowel. ''' This proverb, which 
is quoted by Ray, is used by Celia in "As \'ou Like It" 
(i. 2). Thus we sa)', when any one bespatters another with 
gross flattery, that he lays it on with a trowel. 
" The cat loves fish, but she's loath to wet her feet." It is 
to this proverb that Lady Macbeth alludes when she up- 
braids her husband for lais irresolution I," Macbeth," i. 7) : 

"Letting ' I dare not' wait upon ' I would,' 
Like the poor cat i' the adage." 

There are various forms of this proverb. Thus, according 
to the rhyme : 
• ' Fain would the cat fish eat, 
But she's loath to wet ber feet." 

The French version is "Le chat aime le poisson lnais il 
n'aime pas à mcuiller la patte"--so that it would seem 
Shakespeare borrowed from the French. 

 13rewer's " Dictionary of Phrase and Fable," p. 860. 
= Ray's " Proverbs" (Bohn's Editioh), 857, p. 76. 



468 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
" The devil rides on a fiddlestick " (" I Henry IV.," il. 4)- 
" The galled jade will wince." So Hamlet says (iii. 2), 
• " let the galled jade wince, out withers are unwrung." 
" The grace o' God is gear enough." This is the Scotch 
form of the proverb which Launcelot Gobbo speaks of as 
bcing well parted between Bassanio and Shylock, in the 
'" Mcrchant of Venice" (il. 2) : " The old proverb is very well 
partcd between my toaster Shylock and you, sir; )'ou have 
thc grace of God, sir, and lac bath enough." 
'" The Mayor of Northamptol opcns oysters with his 
dagger." This proverb is alluded to by Pistol in " Melry 
\Vives of \Vindsor '" (il. 2), when he says : 

" "Vhv. then the wor|d's mine oyster, 
Which I with sword will open." 

Northampton bcing some eighty mlles from the sea, oysters 
were so stale belote they reached the town (before railroads, 
or even coaches, xvere known), that the " Mayor would be 
loath to bring thcm near lais nose." 
" The more baste the worse speed." In " lomeo and 
Juliet" (il. 6), Friar Laurence says : 
"These violent delights have violent ends 
And in their triumph die; like tire and powder, 
Which, as they kiss, consume : the sweetest honey 
Is Ioathsome in his own deliciousnes, 
And in the taste confounds the appetite: 
Therefore. love moderately ; long love doth so ; 
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow." 
The proverb thus alludcd to seems to be derived ff'oto the 
Latin adage, " Festinatio tarda est." It defeats its own pur- 
pose by the blunders and imperfect work it occasions.' 
Hence the French say: " He that goes too hastily along 
often stumbles on a fait road." 
'" There is flattery in friendship"--used by the Constable 
of France in " Henry V." (iii. 7); the usual form of this 
proverb being: " There is fa'lsehood in friendship." 

 Kelly's " Pr'overbs of All Nations." p. 80. 



t'ROVERBS. 469 
" There was but one xvay" (" Henry V.," ii. 3)- " This," 
says Dyce, " is a kind of proverbial expression for death." 
(" Glossary," p. 494-) 
"The weakest goes to the wall." This is quoted by 
Gregory in " Romeo and Juliet" (i. I), whereupon Sampson 
adds: " \Vomcn, being the weakcr vessels, are ever thrust 
to the wall : therefore, I will push Montague's men from the 
wall, and thrust his maids to the wall." 
" There went but a pair of shears between them" (" Meas- 
ure for Measure," i. 2). That is," \Ve are both of the saine 
piece." 
" The world goes on whcels." This proverbial expression 
occurs in " Antony and Clcopatra" (il. 7); and Taylor, the 
\Vater-Poet, has ruade it thc subject of one of his pamphlets : 
" The worlde runnes on wheeles, or, oddes betwixt carts and 
coaches." 
"Three wolnen and a goose make a market." This prov- 
erb is alluded to in " Love's I.abour's Lost" (iii. 1): 
"thus came your argument in ; 
Then the boy's fat l'o«o.t,, the goose that you bought ; 
And he ended the market." 
The following lines in " I Henry VI." (i. 6), 
"Thy promises are like Adonis" gardens 
That one day bloom'd, and fruitful were the next," 
allude to the .4da,ds/wrti, which were nothing but portable 
earthen pots, with some lettuce or fennel growing in them. 
On his yearly festival every woman carried one of them in 
honor of Adonis, because Venus had once laid lim in a let- 
tuce bed. The ne:;t day they were thrown away. The 
proverb seelns to have been used always in a bad sense, for 
things which make a fair show for a fexv days and then 
wither away. The Dauphin is here ruade to app!y it as an 
encomium. There is a good account of it in Erasmus's 
"Adagia ;" but the idea may have been taken fl'on the 
" Fairy Queen," bk. iii. cant. 6, st. 42 (Singer's " Shake- 
speare," 875, vol. ri. p. 32). 
" To clip the anvil of my sword." " This expression, in 



470 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
• Coriolanus' (iv. 5)is very diflîcult to be explained," says 
Mr. Green, " unless we regard it as a provcrb, denoting the 
breaking of the weapon and the laying aside of enmity. 
Aufidius makes use of it in his welcome to the banished 
Coriolanus." 
"here I clip 
The anvil of my sword ; and do contest 
As hotly and as nobly with thy love, 
As ever in ambitious strength I did 
Contend against thy valour." 
" To have a month's mind to a thing." Ray's " Prm erbs. 
So, in the " Two Gentlcmen of Vcrona" (i. 2), Julia says: 
"I sec you bave a month's mind to them. ''* 
" 'Tis mcrry in hall whcn beards wag all. '' This is quoted 
by Silence in "2 Henry IV." (v. 3): 
" Be merry, be merry, my wife has all : 
For women are shrews, both short and tall ; 
'Tis merry in hall when beards w.ag ail, 
And welcome merry shrove-tide. 
Be merry, be merry." 
"To have one in the wind." This is one of Camden's 
proverbial sentences. In "All's \Vell that Ends \Vell" 
(iii. 6), Bertram says: 
"I spoke with ber but once, 
And round her wondrous cold ; but I sent to her, 
By this saine coxcomb that we have i' the wind, 
Tokens and letters which she did re-send." 
" To hold a candle to the devil"--that is, " to aid or coun- 
tenance that which is wrong." Thus, in the " Merchant of 
Venice" (il. 6), Jessica says : 
" What, must I hold a candle to my shames ?" 
--the allusion being to the practice of the Roman Catholics 
wlio burn candles before the image of a favorite saint, carry 
them in funeral processions, and place them on their altars. 

' See page 385.  See Bohn's "Handbook of Proverbs," p. t 15. 



PROVERBS. 47  
" To the dark house" (" All's Well that Ends.Well," ii. 3)- 
A bouse which is t.he seat of gloom and discontent. 
"Truth should be silent." Enobarbus, in "Antony and 
Cleopatra" (il. 2), says : "That truth should be silent I had 
almost forgot." 
" To take mine ease in mine inn." A proverbial phrase 
used by Falstaff in " I .ITIcnry IV." (iii. 3), implying, says Mr. 
Drake, "a dcgrce of comfort which has ahvays been the 
pcculiar attributc of an English house of public entertain- 
ment." ' 
"Twice away says stay" (" Twelfth Night," v. I). Ma- 
lone thinks this provcrb is alluded to by the Clown: " con- 
clusions to bc as kisses, if your four negatives make your 
two affirmatives, why, thcn, the worse for my friends and the 
better for my foes ;" and quotes Marlowe's" Last Dominion," 
where the Queen says to the Moor: 
"Come, let's kisse. 
l[oor. Away, away. 
Ottrot. No, no, sayes I, and twice away sayes stay." 
"Trust hot a horse's heel." In " King Lear" (iii. 6) the 
Fool says, "he's mad that trusts a horse's health." Malone 
would read " heels." 
" Two may keep counsel, putting one away." So Aaron, 
in "Titus Andronicus" (iv. 2), says : 
"Two may keep counsel, when the third's away." 
" Ungirt, unblest." Falstaff alludes to the old adage, in 
"I Henry IV." (iii. 3). "I pray God my girdle breal«" 
Malone quotes from an ancient ballad: 
" Ungirt. unblest, the proverbe sayes ; 
And they to prove it right, 
Have got a fashion nov adayes, 
That's odious to the sight ; 
Like Frenchmen. all on points they stand, 
No girdles now they vear." 

 "Shakespeare and his Times," vol. i. p. 



472 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"XValls have ears." So, in "_A_ Midsummer-Night's Dream" 
(v. ), Thisbc is made to say: 
"O wall. full often hast thou heard my moans,. 
For parting my fait Pyramus and me." 
" \Veddhg and ill-wintering rame both man and beast." 
Thus, in "Taming of the Shrew" (iv. I), Grumio says: 
" \Vinter tames man, woman, and beast ; for it hath tamed 
my old master, and my new mistress, and myself." \Ve may 
also compare the Spanish adage : "You will marry and grow 
rame." 
"\Ve steal as in a castle" (" I Henry IV.," il. I). This, 
says Stcevens, was once a proverbial phrase. 
" \Vhat can't be cured must be endured." \Vith this 
popular adage may be compared the following : " Past cure 
is still past carc," in " Love's Labour's Lost" (v. 2). So in 
" Richard II." (il. 3), thc Duke of York says : 
"Things past rcdress are now with me past care." 
Again, in " Macbcth " (iii. ;) Lady Macbeth says : 
" Things without all remedy 
Should be without regard : what's done is done." 
"\Vhat's lnil.e is yours, and what is yours is naine" 
(" Measure for Measure," v. ). 
"\Vhen things colne to the vorst they'll mend." The 
truth of this popular adage is thus exelnplified by Pandulph 
in " King John" (iii. 4 : 
" Belote the curlng of a strong dlsease. 
Even in the instant ot repair and health. 
The fit is strongest ; evils that take leave, 
On their departure most of all show evil." 
Of course it is equivalent to the proverb, " \Vhen the 
night's darkest the day's nearest." 
" \Via_en? can you tell?" (" Colnedy of Errors," iii. I). 
This proverbial query, often met with in old writers, and 
perhaps alluded to just before in this scene, when Dromio 
of Syracuse says : " Right, sir ; I'll tell you when, an you'll 



PROVERBS. 473 
tell me wherefore;" occurs again in "  Henry IV." (ii. ): 
"Ay, when ? canst tell ?" 
"\Vhen two men ride the saine horse one must ride be- 
hind." $o in " Much Ado About Nothing" (iii. 5) Dogberry 
says : "_An two men ride of a horse, one must ride behind."' 
With this may be compared the Spanish adage, " He who 
rides behind does hot saddle when he will.'" 
" \Vhile the grass grows, the steed starves." This is al- 
luded to by Itamlet (iii. 2): "Ay, sir, but 'while the grass 
grows,' the proverb is something musty." See Dyce's 
"Glossary," p. 499- 
" \Vho dares not stir by day must walk by night" (" King 
John;" i. ). 
" \Vho goes to \Vestminstcr for a wifc, to St. Paul's for a 
man, and to Smithficld for a horse, may meet with a queane, 
a knave, and a jade." This proverb, often quoted by old 
writers, is alludcd to in "2 Henry IV." (i. 2): 
"' F«lstaff. Where's Bardolph ? 
Z'ae. He's gonc into Smithfield to buy your worship a horse. 
Fa[slaff. I bought him in Paul's. and he'll buy me a horse in Smith- 
field : an I could get me but a wife in the stews, I were manned, horsed, 
and wived." 
" \Vit, whither wilt ?" This was a proverbial expression 
not unfrequent in Shakespeare's day. It is used by Orlando 
in "As You Like It" (iv. I): "A man that had a wife with 
such a wit, he might say--' \Vit, whither wilt ?' " 
" \Viii you take eggs for money ?" This was a proverbial 
phrase, quoted by Leontes in the " \Vinter's Tale " (i. 2), for 
putting up with an affront, or being cajoled or imposed upon. 
" l, Vords are but wind, but blows unkind." In "Comedy 
of Errors " (iii. ), Dromio of Ephesus uses the first part of 
this popular adage. 
" \Vorth a Jew's eye." Launcelot, in the " Merchant of 
Venice" (ii. 5), says : 
" There v,'ill corne a Christian by, 
Will be worth a Jewess' eye." 

 See Kelly's " Proverbs of Ail Nations," p. 49. 



45"4 

FOLK-LORE OF StIAKESPEARE. 

According to tradition, the proverb arose from the custom 
of torturing Jcws to cxtort money from them. It is simply, 
howcver, a corruption of thc Italian gidia (a jewcl). 
"You'll ncver be burned for a witch." This proverb, 
which was applied to a silly person, is probably referred to 
in "Antony and Cleopatra" (.i. 2) by Charmian, when he says 
to the soothsayer : 

'" Out, fool ; ] forgive thee for a witch." 

"Young ravens must have food" (" Merry XVives of 
Windsor," i. 3)-: Ray has " Small bilds must have meat." 

' "' Handbook Index to Shakespeare," p. 395. 



CHAPTER XX. 

TItE tlUMAN BOD, ". 

IT would be difficuit to enumerate the manifold forms 
of superstitioli which have, in most countries, in the course 
of past centuries, clustered rotmd the human body. lXlany 
of these, too, may stiil be round scattered, here and there, 
throughout our oxvn country, ont of the most deep-rooted 
being palmistry, several ailusions to vhich are ruade by 
Shakespearc. 
According to a popular belief current in years past, a 
trembling of the body was supposed to be an iudication of 
demoniacal possession. Thus, in the " Comedy of Errors" 
(iv. 4", the Courtezan says of Antipholus of Ephesus : 
" Mark hov he trembles in his ecstasy !" 

and Piuch adds: 

" I charge thee, Satan, hous'd within this man. 
To yield possession to my holy prayers, 
And to thy state of darkness hic thee straight ; 
I conjure thee by ail the saints in heaven !" 

In " The Tempest " (il. 2), Caliban says to Stephano, 
"Thou dost me yet but little, hurt; thou wilt anon, I know 
it by thy trembling." 
It was formerly supposed that our bodies consisted of the 
four elements--fire, air, earth, and water, and that all diseases 
arose from derangement iu .the due proportion of these 
elements. Thus, in Antony's eulogium on Brutus, iu " Julius 
Cmsar" (v. 5), this theory is alluded to: 
"His lire was gentle, and the elements 
So mix'd in him. that Nature mlght stand up. 
And say to all the xvorld. ' This was a man !'" 



476 FOLK-LORE OF StIAKESPEARE. 
In " Txvelfth Night" (il. 3) it is also noticed : 
" çir 7}t)v. Do hOt our lives consist of the four elements ? 
S)'r AJz«tru. 'Faith, so they say ; but. I think, it rather consists of 
eating and drinkin l. 
,çir Tobj.,. Thou art a scholar; let us therefore eat and drink. 
Marian, I say !--a stoop of wine !" 
In "Antony and Clcopatra" (v. 2), Shakespeare makes 
thc latter sa 3 ,: 
" I am tire, and air. my other elements 
I give to baser lire." 
This thcory is thc subjcct, too, of Sonnets xliv. and xlv., 
and is set forth at large in its connection with physic in 
Sir Philip Sidncy's " Arcadia :" 
" O elements, by whose (men say) contention, 
()ur bodies be in living power maintained, 
Was this man's death the fruit of your dissension ? 
O physic's power, which (some say) bath restrained 
Approach of death, alas. thou keepest meagerly, 
When once one is for Atropos distrained. 
Great be physicians' brags, but aide is beggarly 
When rooted moisture fails, or groweth drie ; 
They leave off ail, and say, death cornes too eagerly. 
They are but words therefore that men doe buy 
Of any, since God Esculapius ceased." 
This notion was substantially adopted by Galen, and em- 
braced by the physicians of the olden rimes.' 
£lood. In old phraseology this word was popularly used 
for disposition or tempermnent. In " Timon of Athens" 
(iv. 2), Flavius says: 
'" Strange, unusual blood, 
When man's worst sin is, he does too nmch good !" 
In the opening passage of" Cymbeline" it occurs ill the same 
Sellse : 
" You do not meet a man but frowns : out bloods 
No more obey the heavens, than our ceurtiers 
Still seem as does the king," 

' See Bucknill's " Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare," p. i2o. 



THE ItUMAN 130DY. 477 
the meaning cvidently being that "out dispositions no 
longer obey the influences of heaven; they are courtiers, 
and still seem to resemble the disposition the king is in." 
Again, in " Much Ado About Nothing" (il. 3) : " wisdom 
and blood combating in so tender a body, we have ton proofs 
to one, that blood hath the victory." 
Once lrlore, in " King Lear" (iv. 2), the Duke of Albany 
says to Goneril : 
'" Were't my fitness 
To let these hands obey my blood, 
They are apt enough to dislocate and tear 
Thy flesh and bones." 

Again, the phrase " to bc iii blood " was a terre of the 
chase, meaning, to be in good condition, to be vigorous. In 
"  Henry VI." (iv. 23, Talbot exclaims : 

" If we be English deer, be, then. in blood ; 
Not rascal-like, to fall down with a pinch " 

--the expression being put il1 opposition to " rascal," which 
was the term for the deer when lcan and out of condition. 
In " Love's Labour's Lost" (iv. ;), Holofernes says: "The 
deer was, as you know, sa,¢g¢ds,--in blood." 
The notion that the blood ma 3- be thickened by emotional 
influences is mentioned by Polixenes iii the" .Vinter's Talc" 
(i. ;), where he speaks of "thoughts that would tl:ick my 
blood." In King John's temptation of Hubert to murdcr 
Arthur (iii. 3), it is thus referred to : 

"Or if that surly spirit, melancholy, 
Had bak'd thy blood and ruade it hea» T, thick, 
Which else runs tickling up and down the veins." 

Red blood was considercd a traditionary sign of courage. 
Hcnce, in the " Merchant of Venice" (ii. ), the Prince of 
Morocco, when addressing himself to Portia, and urging 
claims for her hand, says : 

"Bring me the fairest creature northward born, 
Where Phoebus' tire scarce thaws the icicles, 



478 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
And let us make incision for your love, 1 
To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine." 
Again, in the saine play, cowards are said to " have livers 
as white as milk," and an effeminate man is terlned a 
" milk-sop." l\Iacbeth, too (v. 3), calls onc of his flighted 
soldiers a " lily-liver'd boy." And in " King Lear" (ii. 2), 
the Earl of Kcnt makes usc of the saine phrase. In. illus- 
tration of this notion Mr. Doucc" quotes from Bartholomew 
Glantville, who says: " Rced clothes have been layed upon 
deed men in renaelnbrance of thcyr hardynes and boldnes, 
whyle they were in theyr bloudde." 
Thc absence of blood in the liver as the upposed property 
of a coward, originated, says Dr. Bucl«fill,  in the old theory 
of the circulation of the blood, xhich explains Sir Toby's 
remarks on lais dupe, in " Twclfth Night" (iii. 2) : " For An- 
drew, if he were opened, and you find so much blood in lais 
livcr as will clog the foot of a flea, I'll eat the rest of the 
allatOllly." 
\Ve may quote here a notion rcferred to in " Lucrece" 
(744-5Y), that, ever since the sad death of Lucrcce, corrupt- 
ed blood has watery particles : 
"About the mourning and congealed face 
(if that black blood a watery rigol goes, 
Which seems to weep upon the tainted place : 
And ever since, as pitying Lucrece' woes, 
Corrupted blood some watery token shows ; 
And blood untainted still doth red abide, 
Blushing at that which is so putrefied." 
13rait. By old anatomists thc brain was divided into 

 Mr. Singer, in a note on this passage, says. "It was customary, in 
the East, for lovers to testify the violence of their passion by cutting 
themselves in the sight of their mistresses ; and the fashion seems to 
have been adopted here as a mark of gallantry in Shakespeare's time, 
when young men frequently stabbed their arms with daggers, and, 
mingling the blood with wine, drank it off to the healths o their mis- 
tresses."--Vol, il. p. 4 7. 
" " Illustrations of Shakspeare," 1839, p.  56. 
a "Medical Knowledge of Shakespeare," p. 124. 



THE HUMAN BODY. 479 
three vcntricles, in the hindermost of which they p.laced the 
memory. That this division was hot unknown to Shake- 
speare is apparent from " Love's Labour's Lost" (iv. i), 
where Holofernes says: ".A foolish extravagant spirit, 
of forms, figures, sbapes, objects, ideas, apprehensiols, mo- 
tions, revolutions- these are begot in the ventricle of mcm- 
ory." Again, Lady Macbeth (i. 73, speal<ing of Duncal's 
two chamberlais, says : 
"Will I with wine and 'assail so convince. 
That memory, the warder of the brain. 
Shall be a fume, and the receipt of reason 
A limbeck only." 
The " third vetriclc is thc cercbcllum, by which the brain 
is comected with the spinal marrow ad the rcst of the 
body ; thc memory is posted in the cerebcllum, like a warder 
or sentinel, to warn the reason against attack. Thus, whe 
the memory is converted by intoxication ilto a merc fume,' 
then it fills thc brain itself---thc rcceipt or receptacle of rca- 
son, which thus becomcs lil<e an alcmbic, or cap of a still." 
A popular nickname, in former rimes, for the skull, vas 
"brain-pan ;" to 'chich Cadc, in "2 Hcnry VI." (iv. o) 
refers: " many a time, but for a sallet, my brain-pan had 
bee cleft vith a brown bill." The phrase "to beat out 
the brails " is used by Shakespeare mctaphoricall)- in thc 
sense of defeat or destroy; just as nowadays we popularly 
speak of knocking a schemc on the hcad. I " Mcasure for 
Measure" (v. ), the Dule, addrcssing Isabella, relis her: 
• ' O most kind maid. 
It 'as the swiff celerity of his death. 
' ,Vhich I did think with slower foot came on. 
That brain'd my purpose." 
The expression "to bear a brai, 'i which is used by the 
Nurse in " Romeo and Juliet " (i. 3, 
' Cf. "Tempest," v.  : 
"the ignorant fumes that mantle 
Their clearer reason." 
 Clark and Wright's "Notes to Macbeth," 877, p. o. 



480 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"Nay, I do bzar a brain[' 
denoted "much mental capacity either of attention, ingenu- 
ity, or remembrance."' Thus, in Marston's "Dutch Cour- 
tezan " (16o5), we rcad : 
"My silly husband, alas ! knows nothing of it, 'ris 
I that must beare a braine for all.» 
The notion of the brain as the seat of the soul is men- 
tioned by l'rince Henry, who, referring to King John (v. 7), 

says : 

" his pure brain, 
Which some suppose the soul's frail dwelling-house, 
Doth, by the idle comments that it makes, 
Foretell the ending of mortality." 
Far. According to a wcll-known superstition, much cred- 
ited in days gonc by, and still extensively believed, a tingling 
of the right car is considered lucky, being supposed to de- 
note that a fl'icnd is speaking well of one, whereas a tingling 
of the left is said to imply the opposite. This notion, how- 
ever, varies in different localities, as in some places it is the 
tingling of the left car which denotes the friend, and the 
tingling of the right car the enemy. In " Much Ado About 
Nothing " (iii. ), Beatrice asks Ursula and Hcro, who had 
bcen talking of her: 
"What tire is in mine ears ?" 

the refcrence, no doubt, being to this popular fancy. Sir 
Thomas Browne" ascribes the idea to the belief in guardian 
angels, who touch the right or left ear according as the con- 
versation is favorable or hot to thc person. . 
In Shakespeare's day it was customary for young gallants 
to wear a long lock of hair dangling by the cal, known as a 
love-lock." Hence, in "Much Ado About Nothing" (iii. 3), 
the ,Vatch identifies one of his delinquents : " I klloW hiln ; 
a' wears a lock."  

' Singer's "Shakespeare," vol. viii. p.  23. 
"- "Vulgar Errors." book v. chap. "-3 (Bohn's edition. ! 852. vol. il. p. 82). 
 Prynne attacked the fashion in his "Unloveliness of Love-locks." 



TIIE IIUMAN 1301)Y. 4I 
Again, fllrther on (v. I), Dogberry g[ves anothcr allusion to 
this practice : " He wears a key in his ear, and a lock hang- 
ing by it.'" 
An expression of endcarmcnt current in years gone by 
was " to bite the car." In " Romeo and Julict'" (ii. 4), Mcr- 
cutio says: 
'" I will bite thee by the ear for that jcst." 
passage which is explained in Nares (" Glossary," vol. i. p. 
8I) by thc following one rioto Bon Jonson's "Alchemist "' 
(il. 3) : 
3/«»tman. Th' hast witch'd me, rogue ; take, go. 
t:«c«. Your jack, and ail, sir. 
3Atmman. Slave, I could bite thine car .... Away, thou dost hOt 
care for me !" 
Giflbrd, in his notes on Jonson's "\Vorks '" lyol. ii. p.  84), says 
the odd mode ofexpressing pleasure by biting the ear seems 
to be taken flore the practice of animals, who, in a playful 
mood, bite each other's ears." 
While speaking of the ear, it may be noted that thc so- 
called want of ear for music has been regarded as a sign of 
an austere disposition. Thus Cœesar says of Cassius ("Julius 
Cesar," i. 2) : 
"' He hears no music : 
Seldom he smiles." 
There is, too, the well-known passage in the " Merchant of 
Vcnice" (v. I): 
"The man that bath no music in himself, 
Nor is hot mov'd with concord of sweet sounds, 
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." 
According to the Italian proverb: " Whona God loves hOt, 
that man loves hot music. ''1 
tNbo'w. According to a popular belief, the itching of the 
elbow denoted an approaching change of some kinc or 
other? Thus, in "  Henry IV." (v. ), the king speaks of 

See Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," pp. t65, t66. 
Ibid. p. 273. 
31 



482 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
" Fickle changelings, and poor discontents, 
Which gape, and rub the elbow, at the news 
Of hurlyburly innovation." 
\Vith this idea we may compare similar ones connected with 
other parts of the body. Thus, in " Macbeth " (iv. ), one of 
the witches exclaims : 
" I3y the pricking of my thumbs, 
Something wicked this way cornes." 
Again, in "Troilus and Cressida" (il. ), Ajax says: " My 
fingers itch,"' and an itching palm was said to be an indica- 
tion that the person would shortly receive money'. Hence, 
it denoted a hand ready to receive bribes. Thus, in "Julius 
Coesar" (iv. 3), Brutus says to Cassius : 
" Let me tell you, Cassius. you yourself 
Are much condemn'd to bave an itching paire ; 
To sell and mart your offices for gold 
To undeservers." 
So, in " Mcrry" \Vives of Windsor" (il. 3), Shallow says : " If 
I see a sword out, my finger itches to make one." 
Again, in "Othello" (iv. 3), poor Desdemona says to 
Emilia : 
" Mine eyes do itch ; 
Doth that bode weeping ?" 
Grose alludes to this superstition, and says: " When the 
right eye itches, the party affected will shortly cry; if the 
left, they will laugh." The itchinff of the eye, as an omen, is 
spoken of by Theocritus, who says : 
« My right eye itches now, and I will see my love." 
),cs. \ good deal of curious folk-lore bas, at one time 
or another, clustered round the eye; and the well-known 
superstition known as the " evil eye" bas already been de- 
scribed in the chapter on Birth and Baptism. Blueness 
above the eye was, in days gone by, considered a sign of 
love, and as such is alluded to by Rosalind in "_As You Like 

 See '" Romeo and Juliet" (iii. 5), where Capulet says, " My fingers 
itch," denoting anxiety. 



THE tIUIIAN BODY. 48/] 
It" (iii. 2), where she enumerates the marks of love to Or- 
lando : "A lean check, which you have hot ; a blue eye, and 
sunken, which you bave hot." 
The terre " baby in the eye" was sportively applied by 
our forefathers to the miniature reflection of himself which 
a person may sec in the pupil of another's eye. In" Timon 
of Athens" (i. 2), one of the lords says: 
"Joy had the like conception in our eyes, 
And, at that instant, like a babe sprung up," 
ail allusion probably being ruade to this whilnsical notion. 
It is often referred to by old writcrs, as, for instance, by 
Drayton, in his " Ideas :" 
"But O, sec, sec ! we need enquire no further, 
Upon your lips the scarlet drops are found. 
And, in your eye, the boy that did the murder." 1 
We may compare the expression, " to look babies in the 
eyes," a common amusement of loyers in da)-s gone by. In 
Beaumont and Fletcher's " Loyal Subject " I.iii. 2), Thcodore 
asks : 
"Can ye look babies, sisters, 
In the young gallants' eyes, and twirl their band-strings ?" 
And once more, to quote from Iassinger's " Renegado" 
(il. 4), where Donusa says : 
"When a young lady wrings you by the hand. thus, 
Or with an amorous touch presses your foot ; 
Looks babies in your eyes, plays with your locks," etc. 
Allother old terre for the eyes was" crystal," which is used 
by Pistol to his wife, [rs. Quickly, in " ttenry V." (ii. 3) : 
"Therefore. cav«lo be thy counsellor. 
Go, clear thy crystals ;" 
that is, dry thine eyes. 
In " Romeo and Juliet " (i. 2), the phrase is employed by 
Benvolio : 
• ' Tut ! you saw her fait, none else being by, 
Herself pois'd with hersel[ in either eye : 

 5;ee Nares's "Glossary," vol. i. p. 44- 



484 FOLI(-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
]3ut in that crystal scales let there be weigh'd 
Your lady's love against some other maid." 
It also occurs in Bcaumont and Fletcher's " Double Mar- 
riage" (v. 3), where Juliana cxclaims • 
"Sleep you, swcet glasses ! 
An everlasting slumber crown those crystals." 
The expression "wall-eyed " denotes, says Dyce (" Glos- 
sary," p. 486)," eyes with a white or pale-gray iris--glaring- 
cycd." It is used by Lucius in " Titus Andronicus " (v. I) : 
"Say, wall-ey'd slave, whither wouldst thou convey 
Tbis growing image of thy fiend-like face ?" 
In "King John " (iv. 3), Salisbury speaks of "wall-eyed 
wrath." 
13rockett, in his "Glossary.of North Count D" \Vords," says: 
"In those parts of thc north with which I ana best ac- 
quainted, persons are said to be c,all-cycd when the white 
of the eye is very large and to one side ; on the borders ' sic 
folks' are considcred lucky. The terre is also occasionally 
applied to horses with similar eyes, though its wider general 
acceptation seems to be when the iris of the eye is white, or 
of a ver 5" pale color. A c,all-c),e'd horsc sces perfectly well." 
I}wc. A common expression "to play thc hypocrite," or 
feign, was " to face." So, in "  Henry VI." (v. 3), Suffolk 
declares how : 
" Fair Margaret knows 
That Sutïolk doth hot flatter, face, or feign." 
Hence the name of one of the characters in Ben Jonson's 
"Alchemist." So, in the "Taming of thc Shrew "' (il. ) : 
"Yet I bave faced it with a card of ten." 
The phrase, also, " to face me down." implied insisting 
upon anything in opposition. So, in the "Comedy of 
Errors" (iii. I), Antipholus of Ephesus says : 
"But here's a villain that would face me down 
He met me on the mart." 
Fz'rt. Stumbling has from the earliest period been con- 



THE HUM.IN BOD¥. 485 
sidered omhmus.' Thus, Cicero mentions it among the 
superstitions of his day; and numerous instances of this 
unlucky act have bcen handcd down from byznc times. 
We are told by Ovid how Myrrha, on hcr way to Cinyra's 
chamber, stumbled thricc, but was hot dcterred by the omen 
from an unnatural and fatal crime; and TibulIus (lib. I., 
cleg. iii. 2o), refers to it : 
"() ! quoties ingressus iter. mihi tristia dixi. 
6)ffensum in porta signa dêdisse pedem.'" 
This superstition is alludcd to by Shakespeare, who, in 
" 3 Henry VI." (iv. 7), makcs Gioster say : 
'" For many men that stumble at the threshold 
Are well foretold that danger lurks within.'" 
In " Richard III." (iii. 4), Hastings relates : 
'" Three times to-day my foot-cloth horse did stumble. 
And started when he look'd upon the Tower. 
As loath to bear me to the slaughter-house." 
In the saine way, stumbling at a grave has been regarded 
as equally unlucky" and in " Romeo and Juliet " (v. 3), Friar 
Laurence says : 
"how oit to-night 
Have my old feet stumbled at graves." 
/2rait. From rime immemorial there has been a strong 
antipathy to red hair, which originated, according to some 
antiquarians, in a tradition that Judas had hair of this color. 
One reason, it lnay be, why the dislike to it arose, xvas that 
this color was considered ugly and unfashionable, and on 

 See Brand's" Pop. Antiq.." 849, vol. iii. p. e49 ; Jones's '" Credulities 
Past and Present." pp. 529-53I ; " Notes and (2ueries," 5th series, vol. 
oo. 
VIII. p. 2OI. 
- The following is from Holinshed, who copies Sir Thomas More : 
• ' In riding toward the Tower the same morning in which he (Hastings) 
was beheaded his horse twice or thrice stumbled with him, almost to 
the falling ; which thing, albeit each man wot well daily happeneth to 
them to whome no such mischance is toward ; yet hath it beene of an 
olde rite and custome observed as a token offentimes notablie forego- 
ing some great misfortune." 



486 FOLK-LORE OF SttAKESPEARE. 
th[s account a person with red hair would soon be regarded 
with contempt. It has bcen conjccturcd,too, that thc odium 
took its fise from thc aversion to the red-haired Danes. In 
" As You Like It" (iii. 4), Rosalind, whcn spcaking of 
Orlando, rcfcrs to this notion:' " I fis very hair is of thc 
dissembling colour," whereupon Ceila replies : "Something 
browncr than Judas's." 
¥cllow hair, too, was in years gone by regardcd with iii- 
fayot, and estcemcd a dcfonnity. 1,_1 ancicnt picturcs and 
tapcstries both Cain and Judas are reprcscntcd with ycllow 
bcards, in allusion to which Simplc, in the " lIerr)" \Vives of 
Windsor" (i. 4), when interrogated, says of his toaster : " He 
hath but a little wee face, with a little yellow beard--a Cain- 
coloured beard."" 
In spcaking ofbeards, it maybe noted that formerly they 
gave rise to various customs. Thus, in Shakespeare's da),, 
dyeing bcards was a fashionable custom, and so Bottom, in 
"A IIidsummcr-Night's I)rcam" (i. 2), is perplexed as to 
what beard ho should wear when acting before the duke. 
He says: " I will discharge it in either your straw-colour 
beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, 
or your French-crown-colour beard, your perfect yellow. '' 
To mutilate a beard in any way was considered an irrep- 
arable outrage, a practice to which Hamlet refers (il. 2)" 

"Who calls me villain ? breaks my pate across ? 
Plucks off my beard, and blows it in my face ?" 

_And in " King I.ear '" (iii. 7), Gloster exclaims: 

" By the kind gods, 'ris most ignobly done 
To pluck me by the beard." 

Stroking the beard before a person spoke was preparatory 
to favor. Hence in '" Troilus and Cressida" (i. 3), Ulysses, 
 See Nares's "Glossary," vol. l. p.  27 ; Dyce's "Glossary," pp. 6, 230. 
" The quartos of 6o2 read "a kane-coloured beard." 
= See Jaques's Description of the Seven Ages in "As You Like It," 
(ii. 6). 



TttE IIUNAN 13ODY. .487 
when describing hmv Achilles asks Patroclus to imitate cer- 
tain of their chiefs, represents hiln as saying : 
"' Now play me Nestor ; hem, and stroke thy beard, 
As he, being drest to some oration.'" 
Again, the phrase " to beard "" meant to oppose face to 
face in a hostile manner. Thus, in " I Itenry IV." (iv. I), 
Douglas declares: 
"No man so potent breathes upon the ground, 
But I will beard him." 

And iii " I Henry VI." (i. 3), the Bishop of \Vinchester says 
to Gloster : 

" Do what thou dar'st ; Fil beard thee to thy face." 

It seems also to have been customary to swear by the 
beard, an allusion to which is ruade by Touchstone in '" As 
You Like It " (i. 2) : "strokc your chins, and swear by your 
beards that I am a knave." 
\Ve may also compare what Nestor says in "Troilus and 
Cressida (iv. 5) : 

"lBy this white beard, I'd fight with thee to-morrow." 

Our ancestors paid great attention to the shape of their 
beards, certain cuts being appropriated to certain professions 
and ranks. In " Itenry V." (iii. 6), Gower speaks of "a 
beard of the general's cut." As Mr. Staunton remarks, 
" Not the least odd among the fantastic fashions of out fore- 
fathers was the custom of distinguishing certain professions 
and classes by the cut of the beard ; thus we hear, i«tcr ali«. 
of the bishop's beard, the judge's beard, the soldier's beard. 
the citizen's beard, and cven the clown's beard." Randle 
Holme tells us, "Thc broad or cathedral beard [is] so-called 
bccause bishops or gown-men of the church anciently did 
wear such beards." By the military man, the cut adopted 
was known as the stiletto or spade, The beard of the citi- 
zen was usually worn round, as Mrs. Quickly describes it in 



488 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
" Mcrry \Vivcs of \Vindsor" (i. 4), "like a glover's paring- 
l«fife." The clown's bcard was leff bushy or untrilnmed. 
Malone quotes from an old ballad entitlcd " Lc Prince d' 
Amour," I66o : 
• ' Next the clown doth out-rush 
With the beard of the bush." 
According to an old supcrstition, much hair on the head 
has becn supposcd to indicatc an absence of intellect, a no- 
tion refcrred to by Antipholus of Syracuse, in the " Comedy 
of Errors" (il. 2): "thcre's many a man hath more hair 
than wit." In the "Two Gentlcmen of Vcrona" (iii. ), 
the saine proverbial sentence is mentioncd by Spced. Ma- 
lone quotes the following lines upon Suckling's "Aglaura," 
as ai1 illustration of this saying :' 
"This great voluminous pamphlet may be said 
To be like one that hath more hair than head ; 
More excrement than body : trees which sprout 
With broadest leaves have still the smallest fruit." 

Steevens gives an cxample from " Florio :" "A tisty- 
tosty wag-feathcr, more haire than wit." 
Excessive fear has bcen said to cause the hair to stand on 
end: an instance of which Shakespeare records in " Haro- 
let" (iii. 4), in that celebrated passage where the Queen, 
being at a loss to undcrstand her son's strange appearance 
during his conversation with the Ghost, which is invisible 
to ber, says: 
"And. as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm, 
Your bedded hair. like lire in excrements, 
Starts up, and stands on end." 
A further instance occurs in "The Tcmpest" (i. 2), where 
Ariel, describing the shipwreck, graphically relates how 
"Ail, but mariners, 
Plunged in the foaming brine, and quit the vessel, 
Then all a-tire with me : the king's son, Ferdinand, 

' "Parnassus Biceps," 656. 



TIIE I[UMAN BODV. 

489 

Another popular notion mentioned by Shakespeare is, 
that suddcn fright or grcat sorrow will cause the hair to 
turn white. In " I Henry IV." (il. 4), Falstaff, in lais specch 
to Prince IIcnry, tells him: "thy father's beard is turned 
whitc with the news." 
Among the many instances recordcd to establish the truth 
of this idea, it is said that the hair and beard of the Duke 
of Brunswick whitencd in twenty-four hours upon his hear- 
ing that lais father had becn mortally wounded iii the battle 
ofx\uerstadt. Marie Antoinctte, the unfortunate qucen of 
Louis XVI., found hcr hair suddcnly changed by hcr trou- 
bles; and a similar change happened to Charles I., whcll ho 
attempted to escape from Carisbrooke Castle. Mr. Tilnbs, 
in his " Doctors and Patients" (876, p. 2o), says that 
"chemists have discovered that hair contaills an oil, a mu- 
cous substance, iron, oxide of manganese, phosphate and 
carbonate of iron, flint, and a large proportion of sulphur. 
\Vhite hair contains also phosphate of magnesia, and its oil 
is nearly colourless. \Vhen hair becomes suddcnly white 

With hair up-staring--then like reeds, hOt hair-- 
Vas the first man that leap'd." 
Again, Macbeth says (i. 3): 
'" why do I vield to that suggestion 
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair ?" 
And furthcr on ho says (v. 5) : 
"The time bas been. my senses would have coord 
To hear a night-shriek ; and my fell of hair 
Would at a dismal treatise rouse, and stir 
As life were in't." 
In " ; Ilcnry VI." (iii. 2) it is rcfcrrcd to by Suffolk as a 
sign of madncss : 
"My hair be fix'd on end. as one distract. » 
And, once more, in " Richard III." (i. 3), I{astings de- 
clarcs : 
"My hair doth stand on end to hear her curses." 



490 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
ffoto terror, it is probably owing to the su]phur absorbing 
the oil, as in the opcration of whiten[ng woollen cloths." 
Hair was formerly used metaphor[cally for the color, 
complexion, or nature of a thin. In "  ttenry IV." (iv. ), 
Worcestcr says : 
" I would your father had been here. 
The quality and hair of our attempt 
Brooks no division." 
In Beaumont and Fletchcr's" N[ce Valour" it is so used: 
"A lady of my hair cannot want pitying." 
Ir«rz«?«. Various superstitions bave, at dierent rimes, 
clustcred round thc hand. OEhus, in pahnistry, a mo[st one 
is said to dcnotc an amorous constitution. In "Othcllo" 
(iii. 4) we have the following allusion to tbis popular notion : 
"Otd?o. Give me your hand. This hand is moist, my lady. 
Æh's«?«mom. It yet has felt no age, nor known no sorrow. 
Oth«[,». This argues fruitfulness, and liberal heart." 
Aain, in "Antony and Cleopatra "" (i. 2). Iras says : "There's 
a pahn prcsages chastity;" whereupon Charmian adds : " If 
an oily palm be hot a fi'uitfld prognostication, I cannot 
scratch mine ear." And, in thc " Comcdy of Errors "' (iii. 2), 
Dromio of yracuse speaks of barrcnncss as "hard in the 
pahn of the hand." 
A dry hand, however, bas been supposed to denote age 
and dcbility. In " 2 Henry IV." (i. 2) the Lord Chier Jus- 
tice enumerates this among the charactcr[stics of such a con- 
stitution.' 
In thc " Mcrchant of Venicc" (il. 2), Launcelot, rcferrin 
to the language of palmistry, calls the hand "the table," 
meaning thereby tbe whole collection of lines on the skin 
within the hand: " \Vell, if any nlan iii Italy have a fairer 
table, which doth offer to swear upon a book, I shall have 
good fortune." He then alludes to one of the lines in the 
hand, known as the " line of lire: .... Go to, here's a simple 
line of lire." 

 Sec Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 1849 , vol. iii. p. 179. 



THE HUMAN SOl)V. 49 I 
In the "Two Noble Kinsmcn " (iii. 5) pa]mistry is further 
mentioned : 
" Gaol«r's Daz(¢]tcr. Give me your hand. 
G«rrold. Why ? 
Gaol«r's Daz«]t,'r. I can tell your fortune." 
]t was once supposed that little worms were brcd in the 
fingers of idle servants. To this notion Mercutio refers in 
"Romeo and Julict " (i. 4), where, in his description of Queen 
Mab, he says : 
" Her waggoner, a small grey-coated gnat, 
Not half so big as a round littlc worm 
Prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid." 
This notion is alluded to by John Banistcr, a famous sur- 
geoll iii Shakespeare's da3- , in his " Comt)endious Chyrurge- 
rie " (1585, p. 465) : " "Ve commonly call thcm worms, which 
many women, sitting in thc sunshine, can CUlmingly picke 
out with needlcs, and are lnOSt common in the handes." 
A popular term formerly in use for the nails on the ten 
fingcrs was the ten commandments, which, says Nares, 
"doubtless led to the swearing by thcm, as by the real com- 
mandments." Thus, in "2 Henry VI." (i. 3), the Duchess 
of Gloster says to the qucen: 
"Could I corne near your beauty with my nails 
I'd set my ten commandments in your face." 
In the same way the fingcrs were also called the " ten 
bones," as a little further on ill the saine play, where Peter 
swears " by these ten bones." 
The phrase "of hia hands" was equivalent to "of his 
inches, or of his size, a hand being the measure of four 
inches." So, in the " Merry "Vives of "Windsor" (i. 4), Sim- 
ple says: "Ay, forsooth: but he is as tall a man ofhis hands 
as any is between this and his head,"" the expression being 
used probably for thc sake of a jocular equivocation in the 
word tall, which meant either bold or high. ''= 
Again, in the " "Vinter's Tale " ( v. 2 ), the Clown tells the 

' "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 8ïl. = Ibid. vol. i, p. 



492 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Shepherd: " l'll swcar to thc prince, thou al't a tall fellow 
of thy hands, and that tbou wilt hot be dl-unk ; but I know 
thou art no tall fe||ow of thy hands, and that thou wilt be 
drunk ; but l'll swear it, and I would thou wouldst be a tall 
fellow of thy hands." 
Jk proverbial phrase for bcing tall rioto necessity was " to 
blow thc nail." In " 3 Henry VI." (ii. 5) the king says: 
" When dylng clouds contend with growing light, 
.Vhat time the shepherd, blowing of his halls. 
Can neither cal! it perfect day, nor night." 
It_occurs in thc song at thc end of" Love's Labour's Lost "" 
"And Dick the shcphcrd blows his hall." 
"To bitc thc thumb" at a pcrson implied an insult; 
hcncc, in " Romco and Julict" (i. I, Sampson says: " I will 
bitc my thmnb at thcm; which is a disgrace to them, if 
thcy bear it." 
The thumb, in this action, we are told, " represented a fig, 
and the whole was cquivalent to a fig for you. ''' Decker, 
in Iris " Dead Terre " (I6O8), speaking of the various groups 
that daily frequented St. Paul's Church, says : " \Vhat swear- 
ing is thcre, what shouldering, what justling, what jcering, 
what byting of thumbs, to beget quarrels?" 
tg«rc-li],. A_ clcft lip, so called from its supposed resem- 
blance to the upper lip of a hare. It was popularly believed 
to be the mischievous act of an elf or malicious fairy. So, 
in "King Lear" (iii. 4), Edgar says ofGloster: "This is the 
foul fiend Flibbertigibbet : he... squints the eye, and makes 
the hare-lip." In "A Midsummer-Night's Dream" (v. 2), 
Oberon, in blcssing thc bridal-bed of Thcseus and I{ip- 
polyta, says : 
" Never mole, hare-lip, nor scar, 
Shall upon their children be." 
The expression " hang the lip " meant to drop tbe lip in 
sullenness or contempt. Thus, in " Troilus and Cressida" 
(iii. I), Helen explains whv her brother Troilus is hot abroad 

 See page 28. 



TIIE IIUMAN BODY. 493 
by saying: " He hangs the lip ai somcthing." \Ve may 
compavc, too, thc words in " I Hcnry IV." (il. 4) : "a fool- 
ish hanging of thy ncthcr fil)." 
Jcad. According to the old writers on physiognomy, a 
round head denoted foolishness, a notion to which refcrcnce 
is ruade in " Antony and Cleopatra " (iii. 3), in the following 
dialoguc, whcre Clcopatra, inquiring about Octavia, says to 
the Messcnger : 
" I]ear'st thou hcr face in mind ? Is't long, or round ? 
J[«ss«i«gcr. Round. even to fauhiness. 
C'Ici,alfa. For thc most part, too, thcy are foolish that are so." 
In Hill's " Pleasant I[istovy," ctc. (I63), we rcad: "Thc 
hcad vcvy round, to bc forgctful and foolish." oEgain : " Thc 
head long, to be prudcnt and wary." 
H«art. The tcrm "broken hcart," as commonly applied 
to death from excessive grief, is not a vulgar error, but may 
arise from violent muscular excrtion or strong mental emo- 
tions. In " Macbcth" (iv. 3), Malcohn says: 
'" Thc grief, that docs not spcak, 
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break." 
\Ve may comparc, too, Queen Mavgarct's words to Buck- 
ingham, in " Richard III." (i. 3), whcre she prophcsies how 
Gloster 
"Shall split thy very heart with sorrow." 
Mr. Timbs, in his " lIysteries of Lire, Death, and Futu- 
rity" (I86, p. 49, bas given the following note on the 
subject: " This affection was, it is belicved, tîrst describcd 
by Harvey ; but since his day several cases have been ob- 
served. Morgagni has recorded a few examples: among 
them, that of George I I., who died suddenly of this disease 
in 76o; and, what is very curious, Morgagni himself fell a 
victim to the saine malady. DI-. Elliotson, iii his Lumlcyan 
Lecture on Diseases of the Heart, in 839, stated that he 
had only seen op_e instance; but in the 'Cyclop,'edia of Prac- 
tical Medicine' Dr. Townsend gives a table of twenty-five 
cases, collected from various authors." 



494 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
In olden timcs the heart xx'as esteemed the seat of the 
understanding. Hence, in " Coriolanus" (i. I), thc Citizen 
speaks of" the counsellor heart." \Vith the ancients, also, 
the heurt was considcred the seat of courage, to which 
Shakespeare refcrs in " Julius C,'esar" (il. 2): 
" ç«,z,altt. Pltcking the entrails of an offering forth, 
They could hot find a beart within the beast. 
¢_s«r. The gods do this in shame of cowardice : 
Coesar should be a beast without a heart. 
I[ he should stay at home to-day for fear." 
lr.h,«r. 13y a popular notion, the liver was anciently sup- 
poscd to bc thc seat of love, a superstition to which Shake- 
speare frcquently alludcs. Thus, in " Love's Labour's Lost" 
(iv. à), Biron, affer listening to Longaville's sonnet, remarks: 
"This is the liver vein, which makes flesh a deity, 
A green goose, a goddess ; pure, pure idolatry." 
h " Much Ado About Nothing" (iv. I), Friar Francis says: 
"If ever lox'e had interest in his liver." 
Again, in "As You Lile It " (iii. 2), Rosalid, professig to 
be able to cure love, whicb, be says, is " mercly a madness," 
says to Orlando, "wi]l I take upon me to wash your liver as 
clean as a somd sheep's heurt, tbat the'e shall not be one 
spot of love in't." In "Twelfth Niglt" (ii. 4), the Duke, 
speakig of women's love, says : 
"Their love may be call'd appetite, 
No motion of the liver, but the palate," etc. 
And Fabian (ii. 5), alludig to Olivia's supposed letter to 
Malvolio, says : "This x'ins him, liver and all." 
Once more, in " lIerry Wives of Windsor" (il. ), Pistol 
alludes to the liver as being the inspirer of amorous pas- 
sions, for, speaking of Falstaff, he refers to his loxing Ford's 
xvife "with liver burning bot."' Douce says, " there is some 

Cf. "Antony and Cleopatra" (i. 2) : 
".çaalhs«o,«r. You shall be more beloving, than belov'd. 
Ch«rru'«*z. I had rather heat my liver with drinking." 



THE HUMAN 121ODY. 495 
reason for thinking that this superstition was borrowed flore 
the Arabian physicians, or at least adopted by them ; for, in 
the Turkish tales, an amorous tailor is ruade to address his 
wife by the titlcs of' thou corner of my livcr, and soul of my 
love ;' and, in another place, the King of Syria, who had sus- 
tained a temporary privation of his lnistress, is said to havc 
had 'his liver, which had bccn burnt up by the loss of hêr, 
cooled and refreshed at the sight ofhcr.' "' According to an 
old Latin distich : 

"Cor sapit, pulmo loquitur, fel commoret iras 
Splen ridere facit, cogit amare jecur." 
Bartholomoeus, in his " De l'roprietatibus Rcrum "(lib. v. 39), 
informs us that " the liver is the place of voluptuousness and 
lyking of the flesh." 
3[d«s. Thcse bave, from timc immemorial, been regarded 
as ominous, and special attention has been paid by the su- 
perstitious to their position on the body? In "_A_ Midsum- 
mer-Night's Dream " (v. ), a mole on a child is spoken of by 
Oberon as a bad omen, who, speaking of the threc couples 
who had latcly been married, says : 
"And the blots of Nature's hand 
Shall hot in their issue stand : 
Never mole. hare-lip, nor scar, 
Nor mark prodigious, such as are 
Despised in nativity. 
Shall upon their children be." 
Iachilno (" Cymbeline," il. 2) represents hnogen as having 
"On ber left breast 
A mole cinque-spotted, like the crimson drops 
I' the bottom of a cowslip." 
And we may also compare the words of Cymbeline (v. 5): 
" Guiderius hac 
Upon his neck a mole, a sanguine star; 
It was a mark of wonder." 

' " Illustrations of Shakespeare," 839, pp. 38, 39- 
= See Brand's '" Pop. Antiq.," 849, vol. iii. pp. 252--255. 



49 6 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
SjI«cJ«. This was once supposed to be the cause oflaugh- 
ter, a notion probably rcferred to by Isabella in " Measure 
for lIcasure" (il. 2), xxherc, telling how the angels xveep 
over thc follies of men, she adds: 
"who, with our spleens. 
Would all themselx'es laugh mortal." 
In " Tanlilg of thc ShlcW " (Inductioz, sc. i.), the Lord says : 
"laply my presence 
May well abate the over-mcrry spleen. 
Which otherwise would grow into extremes." 
Atld Maria says to Sir Toby, ila "Tvelffh Night " (iii. 2) 
" If you desire the splcen, and xvill laugh yourselves into 
stitchcs, follow me." 
llïts. \Vith our carly writcrs, the fix'e senses were usu- 
ally callcd the " rive xvits." So, in " Much Ado About Noth- 
ing" (i. ), Bcatrice says: " In out last conflict four of lais 
rive wits xvent halting off, and now is the whole man gov- 
erncd with one." In Sonnet cxli., Shakespeare makes a dis- 
tinction bctxveen wits and senses: 
"But my rive wits, nor my rive senses can 
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee." 
The rive wits, says Staunto, are " common wit, imag- 
ination, fantasy, estilnation, mcmory." Johnsou says, the 
• ' xvits seem to have been reckoncd fi'e, by alaalogy to the 
fivc scnscs, or the rive inlcts of ideas." Ia " King Lear" 
(iii. 4) -e find the epression, " 131ess thy fix'e wits." 
_Accordilg to a curious fancy, eatilg becf was supposed 
to impair thc intcllect, to which notion hakespeare has 
several allusiolas. Thus, ila " Twelffh Night" (i. 3), Sir 
drew says: " I\Iethinks sometimes ] have no more x-it than 
a Christiatl, or an ordinary man has : but I ara a great eatcr 
of beef, atd I believe that does harm to my wit." ]la "Troi- 
lus and Cressida" (il. ), Thersitcs says to Ajax : '" The plague 
of Greece upon thee, thou mongrcl beef-witted lord !" 



CHAPTER XXI. 

FISItES. 

ALTtlOUGH it has been suggested that Shakespeare found 
but little recreation in fishing,' rather considering, as he 
inakes Ursula sa)-, in " Much Ado About Nothing " .(iii. 

"The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish 
Ct with her golden oars the silver stream, 
And greedily devour the treacherous bait," 

and that it would be diflïcult to illustrate a work on angling 
with quotations fi-om his xvritings, the Rev. H. N. Ella- 
combe, iii his intcresting papers = on " Shakespeare as an 
Anglcr," has hot only shown the strong probability that he 
was a lover of this sport, but further adds, that " he may be 
claimed as the first English poet that wrote of angling with 
any freedom ; and there can be little doubt that he would not 
have done so if the subject had not been very familiar to him 
--so familiar, that he could scarcely write without dropping 
the little hints and unconscious expressions which prove 
that the subject was hOt only familiar, but full of pleasant 
memories to hiln." His allusions, however, to the folk-lore 
associated with fishes are very few; but the two or three 
popular notions and proverbial sayings which he has quoted 
in connection with theln help to elnbellish this part of our 
subject. 
Carp. This fish was, proverbially, the most cunning of 
fishes, and so " Polonius's comparison of lais own worldly- 
wise deceit to the craft required for catching a carp " is most 
apt (" Hamlet," il. I) : 

1 See Harting's " Ornithology of Shakespeare," I87I. p. 3. 
 "The Antiquary," I88 b vol. iv. p. I93. 
32 

Ibid. 



498 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"Ste you now ; 
Your bait of falsehood takes this carp of trutl." 
This notion is founded on fact, the brain of the carp being 
six tilnes as large as the average biaih of other tîshes. 
Ta«A'/«. The badge of a pilgrim was, formerly, a cockle- 
shcll, which was worn usually in the front ofthe hat. " The 
habit," wc are told,' " bcig sacred, this served as a protec- 
tion, ad therefore was often assumcd as a disguise." The 
«sc«/ was sometilncs used, and either of thcln was consid- 
ercd as an emblem of the pilg'im's itcntion to go beyond 
the sea. Tht:s, il Ophelia's ballad I," Ilalnlet," iv. 5, solg), 
the loyer is to be l«ow : 
" By lis cockle bat and staff, 
And his sandal shoon." 
II Peele's "Old \\'ix-es' Tale,"  595, we read, " I will give 
thee a palmer's staff of ivory, ad a scallop-shell of beaten 
gold." Nares, too, quotes from Green's " Nevcr Too Late'" 
an accotmt of thc pilgrim's dress: 
"A bat of straw, like to a swain, 
Shelter for the sun and tain, 
With a scallop-shell before." 
Ctlt[«. A foul-mouthed fellow was so called, says Mr. 
Halliwell-Phillipps,  because this fish is said to throw out of 
its mouth, upon certain occasios, an ilfly and black julce 
that fouls the water; and, as an illustration of its use in this 
selse, he quotes Doll Tearshcet's words to Pistol, " 2 Hcry 
IV." il. 4 : " By this wine, l'Il thrust my llfife in your mouldy 
chaps, an you play the saucy cuttle xith me." Dyce says 
that the context would seeln to imply that the terre is equiv- 
alent to " culter, swaggerer, bully."  
Gt«tgcot. This being the bait for maly of the larger 
fish, " to swallov a gudgcon " was sometimes used for to be 
caught or deceived, lIx)re commonly, however, the allusion 

' Nares's "Glossary." vol. i. p. 75- 
= " Handbook Index to the Works of Shakespeare,'" 866, p. 119. 
 See a note in Dyce's " Glossary," p.  I 2. 



FISHES. 499 
is to thc ease with which the gudgeon kself is caught, as 
in thc " Mcrchant of Venice" (i. ), where Gratiano says : 
" But fish hot, with this melancholy bait, 
For this fool-gudgeon." 
Gurwt. The phrase " soused gurnet " was formerly a 
well-known terre of reproach, in allusion to which Falstaff, 
in "  Henry IV." (iv. 2), says, " If I be hot ashamed of my 
soldiers, I ara a soused gurnct." The gurnct, of which there 
are several species, was probably thought a very coarse and 
vulgar dish when sou.qed or picklcd. 
La«ch. A small fish, kllOWll also as " the groundling." 
The allusion to it by one of the carricrs, in " I I{cnry IV." 
(il. ), who says," ¥our chamber-lie breeds flcas like a loach," 
has much puzzled the COlnmentators. It appears, however, 
fi'om a passage in Holland's translation of l'liny's " Natural 
History" (bk. ix. c. xlvii.), that anciently fi.shes were supposed 
to be infested with fleas: " Last of all some fishes there be 
which of themselves are given to breed flcas and lice ; among 
which the chalcis, a kind of turgot, is one." Malone sug- 
gests that the passage may mean, " breeds fleas as fast as a 
loach breeds loaches ;" this fish being reckoned a peculiarly 
prolific one. It seems probable, howeve.r, that the carrier al- 
ludes to onc of those fanciful notions which make up a great 
part of natural bistory among the commo!l people. 1 At 
the present day there is a fisherman's fancy on the Norfolk 
coast that fish and fleas corne together. " Lawk, sir !" said 
an old fellow, near Cromer, to a correspondent of" Notes and 
Queries " (Oct. 7th, I865), " times is as you may look in my 
flannel-shirt, and scarce see a flca, and then there ain't but a 
very fmv herrin's; but timcs that'll be right alive with 'ena, 
and then there's sartin to be a sight o' fish." 
Mr. Houghton, writing in the Acad«my (May -?7th, I882); 
thinks that iii the above passage the Slllall river loach 
(6"oi/is [aar[2att[a) is the fi_,h intended. He says, "At cer- 
tain tilnes of the year, chiefly during the summer lllOllths, 

 Nares's "Glossary," vol.'ii, p. 5 8. 



500 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
almost all fresh-water fish are fiable to be infested with some 
kind of Epizoa. Thcre are two kinds of parasitic creatures 
which are most commonly seen on various fish caught in 
the'rivers and ponds of this country; and these are the 
.4rguhts .folioteras, a crustacean, and the 1)iscicol« tisciztm, a 
small, cylindrical kind of leech." 
[«rtzaids. From the earliest agcs mermaids bave had a 
Icgendary existence--the sircns of the ancients evidently 
belonging to thc samc rcmarkable family. The orthodox 
mermaid is half woman, half fish, thc fishy half bcing some- 
times dcpicted as «h,ztbly-tailed. Shakespearc fiequently 
makes lais charactcrs talk about mermaids, as in the " Com- 
edy of Errors " (iii. e), where Antipholus of Syracuse says : 
"O. train me hot. sweet mcrmaid, with thy note, 
To drown me in thy sister's flood of tears ; 
Sing, siren, for thyself, and I will dote : 
Spread o'er the silver waves thy golden hairs, 
And as a bed I'll take them and there lie, 
And, in that glorious supposition, think 
Ile gains by death, that bath such means to die." 
And, again, further on, lac adds : 
" Fil stop mine ears against the mermaid's song." 
Staunton considers that in these passages the allusion is 
obviously to the long-current opïnion that the siren, or mer- 
maid, decoyed mortals to destruction by the witchery of ber 
songs. This superstition bas been charmingly illustrated by 
Leyden, in lais poem, " The Mermaid " (see Scott's " lXlin- 
strelsy of the Scottish Border," vol. iv. p. 294 ) : 
"Thus, ail to soothe the chieItain's woe, 
Far from the maid he loved so dear, 
The song arose, so sort and slow, 
He seem'd ber parting sigh to hear. 
That sea-maid's form of pearly light 
Was whiter than the downy spray, 
And round ber bosom, heaving bright, 
Her glossy, yellow ringlets play. 



FISHES. 

5oi 

Borne on a foaming, crested wave, 
She reached amain the bounding prow, 
Then, clasping fast the chieftain brave, 
She, plunging, sought the deep below.'" 
This tradition gave rise to a curious custom in the Isle 
of Man, which, iii \Valdron's tilne, was observed on the 
-'24th of December, though afterwards on St. Stephen's Day. 
Itis said that, once upon a time, a fairy of uncolnlnon beau- 
ty exerted such undue influence over thc male population 
that shc induced, by the elchantment of her sweet voice, 
numbers to follow her footsteps, till, by degrees, she lcd 
them into the sea, where they perished. This barbarous 
excrcise of power had continued for a great lcngth of tilne, 
till it was apprehended that the island would be exhaust- 
ed of its defenders, l"ortunately, howcver, a knight-errant 
sprang up, who discovered a means of counteracting the 
charlns used by this siren--even laying a _plot for her de- 
struction, which she only escaped by taking the form of a 
wren. _Although she evadcd instant anlihilation, a spell 
xvas cast upon her, by" which she was condemned, on every 
succeeding New Year's Day, to realdmate the saine form, 
with the definite sentence that she must ultimately perish 
by hmnan hand. Hence, on the specified anniversary, every 
effort was ruade to extirpate the fairy; and the peor wrens 
were pursued, pelted, fired at, and destroyed without lnercy, 
their feathers being preserved as a charm against shipwreck 
for one year. .At the present day there is no particular 
time for pursuing the wren; itis captured by boys alone, 
who keep up the old custom chiefly for amusement. On 
St. Stephen's Day, a band of boys go from door to door 
with a wren suspended by the legs, i13 the centre of two 
hoops crossing each other at right angles, decorated with 
evergreens and ribbons, singing lines called " Hunt the 
\Vren."' 
In "A Midsummer-Night's Dream" (il. I), Oberon speaks 
of hearing "a mermaid on a dolphin's back ;" and in 

1 See " British Popular Customs," pp. 494, 495- 



;O2 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
" ltamlct," thc Quecn, rcferring to Ophclia's death, says 
(iv. 7): 
" Her clothes spread wide ; 
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up." 
In two other passages Shakespeare alludes to this lcgend- 
ary crcature. Thus, in " 3 Henry VI." (iii. 2 Gloster boasts 
that he will "drown more sailors than the memmid shall," 
and in "Antony and Cleopatra "" (ii. 2), Enobarbus relates 
how 
" Her gentlevomen, like the Nereides. 
So many mermaids, tended ber i' the eyes, 
And ruade their bends adornings : at the helm 
A seeming mermaid steers." 
In all these cases Shakespeare,' as was his wont, ruade his 
characters sa)" what they were likely to think, in their sev- 
eral positions and periods of lift. It has been suggested, ' 
however, that the idea of the mermaid, in some of the pas- 
sages just quotcd, seems more applicable to the siren, espe- 
cially in "A Midsummer-Night's Dream," whcre the " mer- 
maid on a dolphin's back " could hot easily have been so 
placed, had she had a fish-like tail instead of legs. 
Notices of mermaids are scattered abundantly in books 
of bygone times. Mcrmen and mermaids, men of the sea, 
and women of the sca, having bcen as '" stoutly believed in 
as the great sea-serpent, and on very much the saine kind 
of evidence." Holinshed gives a dctailed account of a mer- 
man caught at Orford, in Suffolk, in the reign of King John. 
He was kept alive on raw meal and fish for six months, but 
at last "gledde secretelye to the sea, and was neuer affer 
secne nor heard off." Evcn in modern times we are told 
how, every now and thcn, a mermaid has ruade hcr appear- 
ance. Thus, in the Gcztl«'mafs 3ra,(abtc (Jan., 747), we 
rcad: " It is reported from the north of Scotland that some 
time this month a sea creature, known by the naine of mer- 
maid, which has the shape of a human body from the trunk 

' See " [look of Days," vol. ii. pp. 612-6 4. 
= Nares's " Glossary," vol. ii. p. 565 ; sec Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 1849, 
vol. iii. pp. 4I I-44. 



FISIIES. 503 
upxvards, but belov is wholly fish, was carried some miles 
up the water of Dévron." In I824 a mcrmaid or merman 
ruade its appearance, when, as the papers of that day inform 
us, "upwards of I5O distilguished fashionables" went to 
see it. 
The " Mcrmaid " was a famous tavern, situated in ]3rcad 
Street.' As early as the fifteenth century, we are told it 
was one of the haunts of thc pleasure-seeking Sir John 
Howard, whose trusty steward records, anno I464: " l'aid 
for wyn at the Mcrmayd in Bred Street, for my mastyr and 
Syr Nicholas Latimer, xd. ob." In I6O3 Sir \Valtcr Ralcigh 
established a l.itcrary Club in this housc, among its mem- 
bers bcing çhakespearc, Ben Jonson, l]caumont and l"letcher, 
Scldcn, Carcw, Martin, Donnc, ctc. It is oftcn alludcd to by 
1]eaumont and Flctcher. 
3[ittozv. This littlc fish, from is insignificant charactcr, 
is used by "Coriolanus" (iii. il as a terre of contcmpt: 
" Heur you this Triton of thc minnows?" and, again, 
" Love's Labour's I.ost " (.i. ), it occurs : "' that base min- 
now of thy mirth.'" 
Pikc. An old namc for this fish was ht««. In the " Icrr)- 
\Vives of \Vindsor" (i. ) we are told that " Thc luce is the 
fresh fish." There can be no doubt, too, that thcre is in this 
passage an allusion to the armorial bcarings of Shakespcare's 
old encmy, Sir Thomas Lucy. Among the various instances 
ofthe use ofthis terre we may quote Isaac \Valton, who sax's : 
" The mighty lucc or pikc is taken to be the tyrant, as the 
salmon is the king, of the fi'esh waters." Stow, in his " Sur- 
vey of London," describes a procession of the Fishmongcrs" 
Company in 1298, as having horses painted like 
"Then four salmons of silver on route horses, and after them 
sixe and fortie armed knightes riding on horses ruade like 
h«ccs of thc s,'a. 
Porloisc. According to sailors, the playing of porpoises 
round a ship is a certain prognostic of a violent gale of wind ; 
hence the allusion in " Pericles" (il. ), where one of the 

er " " 226. 
 " History of Sit, n-boards, 1866, p. 



50 4 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
fishermen says, speaking of the storm" " Nay, toaster, said 
hot I as much, xvhen I saw the porpus, how he bounced and 
tumbled ?" Thus, too, in the "Canterbury Guests, or a Bar- 
gain Broken," by Ravenscroft, we read : " My heart begins 
to leap and play, like a porpice bcfore a storm." And a 
further refcrcnce occurs in \Vilsford's " Nature's Secrets:" 
" Porpoises, or sea-hogs, when observcd to sport and chase 
ont another about ships, expect then some stormy weather." 
5"«a-motstcr. Thc reference in " King Lear" (i. 4), to the 
"sca-monstcr "-- 
'" Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend, 
More hideous, whcn thou show'st thce in a child, 
Than the sea-monster l"-- 
is gencrally suppsed to be the hippopotamus, which, ac- 
cording to Upton, was the hieroglyphical symbol of impiety 
and ingratitude.' Sandys" gives a picture said to be por- 
trayed in the porch of the temple of Minerva, at Sais, in 
which is the figure of a river-horse, denoting " murder, im- 
pudence, violence, and injustice ; for they sa)" that he killeth 
his sire and ravisheth his own data." His account is, no 
doubt, taken from Plutarch's " Isis and Osiris ;" and Shake- 
speare may have read it in Holland's translation (p. I3OO ), 
but why he should call the river-horse a " sea-monster" is 
hot very clear. It is more likely, however, that the whale 
is nleant.  

Wright's "Notes to King Lear," 877, p. I33. 
"Travels," 1673, p. mS. 
Cf. " King Lear," iv. 2 ; "Troilus and Cressida," v. 5 ; "All's Well 
that End's Well," iv. 3. 



CttAPTER XXII. 

SUNDRY SUI'ERSTITIONS. 

_.BxLMANACS. In Shakespeare's day these were published 
under this title : " An Ahnanack and Prognostication ruade 
for the year of our Lord God, 1595." So, in the " Wintcr's 
Tale" (iv. 3), Autolycus says: " the hottest day prognosti- 
cation proclaims :" that is, the hottest day foretold in the 
ahnanac. In Sonnet xiv. the prognostications in ahnanacs 
are also noticed : 

Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck ; 
And ver metMnks I have astronomy, 
But hot to tell of good or evil luck, 
Of plagues, of dearths, or season's quality ; 
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell, 
Pointing to each his thunder, tain, and wind : 
Or say with princes if it shall go well. 
By oft predict that I in heaven fin& » 

In "Antony and Cleopatra" (i. e) Enobarbus says : " They 
are greatcr storms and tempests than ahnanacs can report ;" 
and in "2 Henry IV." (il. 4), Prince Henry says: " Saturn 
and Venus this year in conjunction ! what says the almanac 
to that ?" 
A,mt[cls. A belief in the efficacy of an amulet or charm 
to ward off diseases and to avert contagion has prevailed 
from a very early period. The use ofamulets was comlnon 
among the Greeks and Romans, whose amulets were princi- 
pally formed of geins, crowns of pearls, necklaces of coral, 
shells, etc. The amulet of modern times has been of the 
lnost varied kinds; objects being selccted either from the 
animal, vegetable, or nineral kingdom, pieces of old rags or 
garlnents, scraps of writing in legible or illegible characters, 
in fact, of anything to which any superstitious property has 



506 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
been considcred to belong.  This form of superstition is 
noticed in "  Henry VI." (v. 3), in the scene laid at Angiers, 
where La Pucelle exclaims: 
"The regent conquers, and the Frenchmen fly. 
Now help. ye charming spells and periapts" 
--pcriapts being charms which were worn as preservatives 
against diseases or mischief. Thus Cotgrave " explains the 
word as " a medicine hanged about any part of the bodie." 
6'rcmoffcs. Thcse, says Malone, were "omens or signs 
dcduccd from sacrifices or othcr ccremonial ritcs." Thus, in 
" Julius Cmsar" I, ii. ), Cassius says of Czesar, that-- 
"he is superstitious grown of late, 
Quite from the nmin opinion he hcld once 
Of fantasy, of dreams, and ceremonies." 
2knd in thc ncxt sccncCalpurnia adds: 
'" Coesar, I neçer stood on ceremonies, 
Yet now thcy fright me." 
Çharms. These, as Mr. Pcttigrcw" bas pointed out, differ 
little from amulets, the difference consisting in the manner 
in wlaich they arc used rather than in their nature. Thus, 
whereas the amulct was to be suspended on the person when 
employcd, thc charm was hot nccessarily subjected to such 
a method of application. In days gone by, and even at the 
present da)', in country districts, so universal bas been the 
use of this source of supposed magical power that there is 
scarcely a diseasc for which a charm bas hot been giren. 
It is not only to diseases of body and mind that the 
superstitious practice has been directed; having bcen in 
popular request to avert evil, and to counteract supposed 
lnalignant influences. _As might be expected, Shakespeare 

' Pettigrev's " Medical Superstitions." p. 48. 
" "' French and English Dictionary ;" see Dyce's "Glossa D, to Shake- 
speare,'" p. 36; Naïes describes it as "'a bandage, tied on for magical 
purposes, from rr«;,-rr,o ;" see Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," I849, vol. iii. 
pp. 324-326 ; Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," 1839. pp. 3o5-3o7. 
a ,, Medical Superstitions," p. 55- 



SUNDRY SUPERSTITIONS. 507 
bas given various allusions to this usage, as, for example, in 
"Cymbeline " (v. 3), where Posthumus says-: 
"To day. how many would bave given theiï honours 
To bave sav'd their carcases ! took heel to 
And yet died too ! I. in mine own woe charm'd. 
Culd hot find death where I did hear him groan, 
Nor feel him where he struck" 
--this passage rcferring to thc notion of certain charms be- 
ing powerful enough to keep men unhurt il battle. 
Othcllo (iii. 4), speaking of the handkerchief xvhich he had 
gix'en to Desdcmona, relates: 
"That handkerchief 
Did an Egyptian to mv mother give ; 
She was a charmer, and could almost read 
The thoughts of people." 
And iii the same play (i. I)i Brabantio asks: 
" Is there not charms, 
By which the property of youth and maidhood 
May be abus'd ?" 
Again, in " Much Ado About Nothing" (iii. 2), Benedick, 
who is represented as having the toothache, after listening 
to the banter of his comrades, replies: "Yet is this no charm 
for the toothache.'" 
Perfect silence seems to have been rcgarded as indispen- 
sable for thc success of an 5" charm; and Pliny informs us 
that " favete linguis" was the usual exclalnation employçd 
on such an occasion. From this circumstance it has been 
suggested that the well-known phrase "to charm a tongue '" 
mav hax-e ol-iginated. Thus we have the following dialogue 
in " Othellc" (v. 2) : 
"I,g,-o. Go to, charm your tongue. 
Emili«. I will not charm my tongue ; I ana bound to speak." 
Thus, on the appearance, amid thunder, of the first appari- 
tion to Macbeth, after the witches have performed certain 
charms (iv. I), Shakespeare introduces the following dia- 
logue : 



508 FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
" 3[«c«/h. Tell me, tbou unknown power-- 
First H ïtck. He knows thy thought : 
Hear his speech, but say thou nought." 
Again, in " The Tempcst" (iv. ), l'rospero says : 
'" lmsh, and be mute, 
Or else out spell is marr'd." 
3A'trical C/mrms. The,e was a superstition long prevalent 
that life might be taken away by metrical charms? Reginald 
Scot, in lais " 1)iscovery of \Vitchcraft" ( 584), says : "The 
Irishmen addict themselvcs, etc.; yea, they will hot sticke 
to afiïrme that they can rim«a man to death." In " t IIenry 
VI." (i. ], the Duke of Excter, rcferring to the lamented 
death of Henry V., says: 
"Shall we think the subtle-witted French 
Conjurers and sorcerers, that, afraid of him, 
By magie verses bave contrived his end ?" 
These " magic verses," to which the death of IIenry V. is 
here attributed, were hot required to be uttered in lais pres- 
ence; their dcadly energy existing solely in the words of 
the imprecation and the malevol.ence of the reciter, which 
were supposed to render them effectual at any distance. 
Again, the alphabet was called the Ch,ist-cross-row ; either 
because a cross was prefixed to the alphabet in the old 
primers, or, more probably, from a superstitious custom of 
writing the alphabet in the form of a cross by way ofa charm. 
In " Richard III." (i. ), Clarence relates how King Edward-- 
" Hearkens after prophecies and dreams ; 
And from the cross-row plucks the letter G." 
Z)rcams. These, considered as prognostics of good or evil, 
are f,-equently introduced by Shakespeare. In "Troilus and 
Cressida" (v. 3), Andromache exc!aims : 
"My dreams will, sure, prove ominous to the day." 
While Romeo (" Romeo and Juliet," v. I) declares: 
" My dreams presage some joyful news at hand." 

 See, under Rat, a similar superstition noticed. 



SUNDRY SUPERSTITIONS. 509 
It is chiefly as precursors of misfortune that the poet has 
availed himself of their supposed influence as omens of 
%ture rate. Thus, there are fcw passages in his dramas more 
terrific than the dreams of Richard III. and Clarence; the 
latter especially, as Mr. Drake says,' " is replete with the 
most fearfld imagery, and makes the blood run chill with 
horror." 
Drcaming of certain things has gencrally bcen supposed 
to be ominous either of good or ill luck;" and at the prcsent 
day the crcdulous pay oftentimes no small attention to their 
dreams, should these happen to have rcfcrrcd to what they 
consider unhlcky things. In the saine way Shylock, in the 
" Merchant of Venice" (il. 5), is a victim to much supcrti- 
flous dread : 
"Jessica. my girl, 
Look to my bouse. I ana right loath to go : 
There is some ill a brewing towards my rest, 
For I did dream of money-bags to-night." 
In " Julius Cmsar," dreaming of banquet is supposed to pre- 
sage misfortune. 
It was also supposed that malicious spirits took advantage 
of sleep to torment their victims;' hence Macbeth (ii. ) 
exclaims : 
'. Merciful powers, 
Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature 
Gives way to in repose !" 
l)ucls. The death of the vançuished person was always 
considered a certain evidence ofhis guilt. Thus, in "e Henry 
VI." (ii. 3), King Henry, speaking of the death of tlorner in 
the duel with Petcr, says: 
"Go, take hence that traitor from our sight ; 
For, by his death, we do perceive his guilt : 
And God in justice hath reveal'd to us 

' "Shakespeare and his Times," p. 355. 
 See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.," 849, vol. iii. pp. 127-I4I. 
 See p. -'83. 
• See Malone's "Variorum Shakespeare," 82I, vol. ii. p. 9 o. 
 See Singer's "Shakespeare," vol. ri. p. 167. 



5 IO FOLK-LORE OF SItAKESPEARE. 
The truth and innocence of this poor fellow, 
Which he had thought to have murder'd wrongfully.-- 
Corne, fellow, follow us for thy reward." 
\Ve may also compare what Arcite says to Palamon in the 
"Two Noble Kinsmen " (iii. 6): 
" If ! rail, curse me, and say I was a coward ; 
For none but such dare die in these just trials." 
.Among the customs connected with duelling, it appears that, 
according to an old law, l«lights were to fight with the lance 
and the sword, as those of infcrior rank fought with an ebon 
staff or baton, to the farthcr end of which was fixed a bag 
cranuned hard with sand? Thus Shakespeare, in " 2 Henry 
VI." (il. 3), represents tlorncr entering "bearing his staff 
with a sand-bag fastened to it." Butler, in his " IIudibras," 
alludes to this custom : 
" Èngag'd with money-bags, as bold 
As men with sand-bags did of old." 
Stcevens adds that "a passage in St. Chrysostom very 
clearly proves the great antiquity of this practice." 
Fort¢«c-t«ll«rs. zk common method of fortune-tellers, in 
pretending to tell future e,ents, was by means of a beryl or 
glass. In an extract from the '« Penal Laws against \Vitches," 
it is said, " they do answer either by voice, or else set before 
their eyes, in glasses, chrystal stones, etc., the pictures or 
images of the pcrsons or things sought for." It is to this 
kind of juggling prophecy that «3ngelo, in " Measure for 
Mcasurc" (il. 2), refers, whcn he tells how thc law-- 
"like a prophet, 
Looks in a glass, that shows what future evils, 
Either new, or by remissness new-conceiv'd." 
Again, Mabeth (iv. ), when " a show of eight kings" is 
presented to him, exclaims, after witnessing the seventh : 
"l'll see no more :- 
And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass, 
Which shows me many more. » 

 See Nares's "Glossary," vol. ii. p. 765. 



SUNDRY SUPERSTITIONS.. 

Spenser' bas given a circumstantial acconnt of the glass 
which Merlin ruade for King Ryence. iX mÎrror of the same 
kiud was presented to Cambuscan, in the " Squier's Tale" of 
Chaucer; and we are also told how "a certain philosopher 
did the like to Pompey, the which showed him in a glass the 
order of lais enemies' lnarch. ''' Brand, in lais " Popular An- 
tiquities, '' gives scveral interesting accounts of this mcthod 
of fortune-telling ; and quotes the following from Vallancey's 
"Collcctanea de Rebus Hibernicis:" " In the Highlands of 
Scotland, a large chrystal, of a figure somewhat oval, was 
kcpt by the priests to work charms by; water poured upon 
it at this day is given to cattle against discases ; thcse stoncs 
are now preserved by the oldest and most superstitious in 
thc country; thcy were once common in Ireland." 
Further allusions to fortune-tellers occur in " Comedy of 
Errors" (v. ), and " Merry \Vives of \Vindsor" (iv. 2). 
It appears, too, that the trade of fortunc-telling was, in 
Shakespeare's da)-, as now, exercised by the wandering 
hordes of gypsies. In " Antony and Cleopatra" (iv. 2), the 
Rolnan complains that Çleopatra- - 

• ' Like a rlght glpsy, hath, at fast and loose, 
Beguil'd me to the very heart of loss." 

Gia¢ts. The belief in giants and othcr monsters was much 
credited in olden times, and,"among the legends of nearly 
every race or tribe, few are more universal than those relating 
to giants or men of colossal size and superhuman power. '' 
That such stories were current in Shakespeare's day, is at- 
tested by the fact that the poet makes Othello (i. 3), in lais 
eloquent dcfence belote the Senate of Venice, when explain- 
ing lais mcthod of courtship, allude to-- 
" Fairy Oucen." bk. Iii. c. 2; see Singer's "Shakespeare," vol. ix. 
p. 82. 
* Boisteau's "Theatrum Mundi," translated by John Alday ( 574). 
 849, vol. iii. pp. 60, 6. 
* See Hardwick's "Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-Lore," 872, 
PP. 97, 224- 



FOLK-LORE OF StlAKESPEARE. 

"the Cannibals that each other eat, 
The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads 
Do grow beneath their shoulders." 
In " The Tempest" (iii. 3), Gonzalo relates how-- 
"When ve were boys, 
Who would believe that there were mountaineers 
Dew-lapp'd like bulls, whose throats had hanging at 'em 
Wallets of flesh ? or that there were such men, 
Whose heads stood in their breasts ?" 

And after the appearance of Prospero's magic repast, Sebas- 
tian says : 
" Now I vill believe 
That there are unicorns ; that in Arabia 
There is one tree, the phoenix' throne ; one phoenix 
At this hour reigning there." 
Among the numerous references to giants by Shakespeare, 
we may quote the following. In "2 Henry VI." (ii. 3), 
Horner says: " Peter, have at thee with a downright blow 
[as Bevis of Southanpton fell upon Ascapart]."' 
Ascapart, according to the legend, was " ful thyrty rote 
longe," and was conquered by Sir Bevis of Southampton. 
In " Cymbeline " (iii. 3), Belarius says : 
"the gates of monarchs 
Are arch'd so high. that giants may jet through 
And keep their impious turbans on. without 
Good morrow to the sun." 

In the " Merry \Vives of \Vindsor" (ii. I), Mrs. Page says : 
" I had rather be a giantess, and lie under Mount Pelion."' 
Luc]cy J)ays. From the most remote period certain days 
have been supposed to be just as lucky as others are the 
reverse, a notion which is not confined to any one country. 
In Shakespeare's da), great attention was paid to this super- 
stitious fancy, which is probably alluded to in the " \Vinter's 
' The addition in brackets is rejected by the editors of the Globe 
edition. 
" Cf. " Measure for Measure," ii. 2, iii.  ; "Much Ado About Noth- 
ing," v.  ; " Love's Labour's Lost," iii. . 



SUNDRY SUPERSTITIONS. ; I3 
Talc " (iii. 3), wherc the Shcpherd says to the Clown, " 'Tis 
a lucky da)-, boy; and we'll do good deeds on't." 
In " King John " (iii. I) Constance cxclaims: 
"What hath this day deserv'd ? what hath it donc, 
That it in golden letters should be set 
Among the high tides in the calendar ? 
Nay. rathcr turn this day out of the week, 
This day of shame, oppression, perjury : 
Or, if it must stand still, let wives with child 
Pray that their burthens may hot fall this day. 
Lest that their hopes prodigiously be cross'd : 
But on this day let seamen fear no wreck ; 
No bargains break that are not this day marie : 
This day, all things begun corne to ill end. 
Yea, faith itself to hollow falsehood change !" 
Again, Macbeth t, iv. I) says: 
"Let this pernicious hour 
Stand aye accursed in the calendar 
In the old almanacs the days supposed to be favorable or 
unfavorable are enumcratcd, allusion to which occurs in 
X.Vebstcr's " Duchess of Malfy," I623 : 
"By the almanack. I think, 
To choose good days and shun the critical." 
At the present day this superstition still retains its hold 
on the popular mind, and in the transactions of life exerts 
an important influence.' 
;i[«,gic. The system of magic, which holds such a promi- 
nent place in "The Tempest," was formerly an article in the 
popular creed, and as such is frequently noticed by the writ- 
ets of Shakespeare's time. Thus, in describing Prospero, 
Shakespcare has given him several of the adjuncts, besides 
the costume, of the popular magician, much virtue being 
inherent in his very garlnents. So Prospero, when address- 
ing his daughter (i. 2), says 

 See Brand's "Pop. Antiq.," 1879, vol. i. pp. 44-5 ; Jones's "Credu- 
lities Past and Present/' pp. 493-507 ; Hampson's '" CEvi Medii Kalen- 
darium," vol.i.p. OE:o ; sec an article on " Day Fatality :' in John Au- 
brey's " Miscellanies." 
33 



54 

FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 

" Lend thy hand. 
And pluck my magic garment from me.--So ; 
Lie there, my art." 
A similar importance is assigned to his staff, for he tells 
Ferdinand (i. 2) : 
" I can here disarm thee with this stick, 
And make thy weapon drop." 
And when he abjures the practice of magic, one of the 
requisites is" to break his staff," and to (v. I) 
" Bury it certain fathoms in the earth." 
The more ilnmcdiate instruments of power were books, 
by mcans of which spells werc usually performed. Hence, 
in thc old romances, thc sorcerer is alvays furnished with a 
book, by rcading ccrtain parts of which he is cnabled to 
summon to his aid what dcmons or spirits he has occasion 
to cmploy. Whcn he is deprîved of his book his power 
ceases. Malone quotes, in illustration of this notion, Cali- 
ban's words in "The Tempest" (iii. 2): 
" Remember. 
First to possess his books ; for without them 
He's but a sot, as I ara. nor bath hot 
One spirit to command." 
Prospero, too, declares (iii. ) : 
"l'Il to my book ; 
For yet, ere supper time, must I perform 
Much business " " c', 
appertam m,. 
.And on his rclinquishing his art he says that : 
'" Deeper than did ever plummet sound 
l'Il drown my book." 
Those who practise nocturnal sorcery are styled, in 
"Troilus and Cressida " (iv. 2), " VellOmOus wights." 
3k'rli,fs Pro./,/««ci«s. In Shakespeare's day there was an 
cxtensive belief in strange and absurd prophecies, which 
were eagerly caught np and repeated by one person to an- 
other. This form ot'superstition is alluded to in "  He)ry 



SUNDRY SUPERSTITIONS. 5 1 5 
IV." (iii. I), where, after Owcn Glcndower has been descant- 
ing on the "omens and portcnts dire" which heralded lais 
nativity, and Itotspur's unbclieving and taunting replies to 
thc chieftain's assertions, the poet makes Hotspur, on Mor- 
timer's saying, 
" Fie, cousin Percy ! how you cross my father !" 
thus reply : 
"I cannot choose" sometime he angers me, 
XVith telling me of the moldwarp and the ant, 
Of the dreamer Merlin and his prophecies ; 
And of a dragon and a finless fish." 
In " King Lear" (iii. 2) the Fool says : 
" Fil speak a prophecy ere I go : 
When priests are more in word than matter ; 
When brewers mar their malt with water ; 
When nobles are their tailors' tutors ; 
No heretics burn'd, but wenches' suitors ; 
When every case in law is right; 
No squire in debt, nor no poor knight ; 
When slanders do not lire in tongues- 
Nor cutpurses corne not to throngs ; 
When usurers tell their gold i' the field ; 
And bawds and whores do churches build ;-- 
Then shall the realm o[ Albion 
Corne to great confusion : 
Then cornes the time, who lires to see't, 
That going shall be us'd with feet. 
This prophecy Merlin shall make ; for I lire before his rime." 
This witty satire was probably against the prophecies 
attributed to Merlin, which were then prevalcnt among the 
people.' 
Formerly, too, prophecies of apparent impossibilities were 
common in Scotland ; such as the removal of one place to 
another. So in " Macbeth " (iv. I), the apparition says : 
"Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be, until 
Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill 
Shall corne against him." 

 See Kelly's "No.tices Illustrative of the Drama and Other Amuse- 
ments at Leicester," 865, pp.  6,  18. 



516 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
,rlcts ald Prodi.(ics. Ill years gone the belief in super- 
natural occurrences was a common article of faith ; and out 
ancestors ruade use of every opportunity to prove the truth 
of this superstitious belief. The most usual monitions of 
this kind were," lamentings heard in the air; shakings and 
tremblings of the earth" sudden gloom at noon-day; the 
appealance of meteors; the shooting of stars; eclipses of 
the sun and inoon" the moon of a bloody hue; the shriek- 
is; the croaking of lavens; the shl-illin_n_.9_f__crick- 
ets- night-howlilags of dogs ; the death-watch ; the chatter- 
in--' of pies; wild neighing of horses; blood dropping from 
the nose; winding-shects; strange and fearful noises, etc.," 
manv of which Shakespeare has used, introducing them as 
the 1)l'ecursors of murder, suddcn death, disasters, and super- 
human evcnts.' Thus in " Richard II2' ,ii. 4), the following 
prodigies are selected as the forerulmers of the death or fall 
of kings : 
""Tis thought, the king is dead : we will not stay. 
The bay-trees in our country are ail wither'd. 
And meteors fright the fixed stars of heaven : 
The pale-fac'd moon looks bloody on the earth. 
And lean-look'd prophets whisper fearful change ; 
Rich men look sad, and ruffians dance and leap, 
The one in fear to lose what they enjoy, 
The other to enjoy by rage and war : 
These signs forerun the death or fall of kings.'" 
l'revious to the assassination ofJulius Caesar. we are told, in 
" Hamlet" (i. I), how 
" In the most high and palmy state of Rome, 
A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, 
The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead 
Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets : 
As stars vith trains of tire and dews of blood, 
Disasters in the sun ; and the moist star, 
Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands, 
Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse." 
More appalling still are the circulnstances which preceded 
* Drake's " Shakespe«re and his Times" p..352. 



SUNDRY SUPERSTITIONS. 5 I7 
and nccompanied the murdcr of Duncan (" Macbcth," il. 3)- 
1Ve may also compare thc omens which markcd the births 
of Owcn Glendower and Richard III. Indeed, the supposed 
sympathy of the elcments with human joy or sorrow or 
suffering is evidently a very ancient superstition; and this 
presumed sensitiveness, hot only of the elements, but of 
animatcd nature, to the perpctration of deeds of darkness 
and blood by pcrverted nature, has in all ages been extcn- 
sively believed. It is again beautiflflly illustrated in the 
lines where Shakespeare makes I.enox, on the morning fol- 
lowing thc murdcr of Duncan by his host (" Macbeth," il. 3, 
give the following narrative: 

The night has been unruly ; where we lay, 
( )ur chimneys were blown down ; and, as they say. 
Lamentings heard i' the air ; strange screams of death ; 
And prophesying with accents terrible 
Of dire combustion, and confus'd events, 
New hatch'd to the woeful time : the obscure bird 
Clamour'd the livelong night" some say. the earth 
Was feverous and did shake." 

This idea is further illustrated in the dialogue which follows, 
between Ross and an old man : 

"Ol«t.].«. Threescore and ten I can renlember well : 
Within the volume of which time I have seen 
ttours dreadful, and things strange : but this sore night 
Hath trifled former knowings. 
oss. Ah, good father, 
Thou seest, the heavens, as troubled with man's act, 
Threaten his bloody stage : by the clock. "ris day, 
And yet dark nlght strangles the travelling lamp : 
Is't night's predominance, or the day's shame, 
That darkness does the face of earth entomb, 
When living light should kiss it 

S¢tt«rtat¢tr«l.-l¢tlhoriQ' «/t))«g'«. The belief in the super- 
natural authority of monarchs is but a remnant of the Iong- 
supposed " divine right" of kings to govern, which resulted 
from a conviction that thcy could trace their pedigrees back 



51 8 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
to the deities themselves.' Thus Shakspeare even puts 
into the mouth of the murderer and usurper Claudius, King 
of Denmark, the following sentence : 
" Let him go. Gertrude : do not fear out person : 
There's such divinity doth hedge a king, 
That treason can but peep to what it would, 
Acts little of his will." 
This notion is by no means confined to either civilized or 
semi-civilizcd nations. It is, says Mr. Hardwick,"a universal 
fceling among savage tribes." The ignorant serf of Russia 
bclicved, and, indecd, yet belicves, that if the deity were to 
dic the cmpcror would succecd to lais power and authority. 
.b)'¢;pal]tctic [a[[caliots. According to a very old tradi- 
tion the wounds of a murdcrcd person were supposed to 
bleed afresh at the approach or touch of thc murderer. This 
effect, though impossible, rcmarks Nares,  except it were by 
miracle, was firmly bclicvcd, and almost universally, for a very 
long period. Poets, therefore, were fully justified in their 
use of it. Thus Shakespcare, in " Richard III." (i. 2) makes 
Lady Anne, speaking of Richard, Duke of Gloster, sa}" : 
"O, gentlemen, see, see ! dead Henry's wounds 
Open their congeal'd mouths, and bleed afresh !-- 
Blush. blush, thou lump of foul detormity ; 
For 'tis thy presence that exhales this blood 
From cold and empty veins, where no blood dwells ; 
Thy deed, inhuman and unnatural. 
Provokes this deluge most unnatural." 
Stow alhldes to this circumstance in lais "Annals" (p. 424). 
Ho says the king's body " was brought to St. Paul's in an 
open coffin, barefaced, where he bled; thence he was car- 
ried to the Blackfriars, and there bled." l\latthcw Paris 
also states that after Henry II.'s dcath lais son Richard 
calne to view the body--"Quo superveniente, confestim 
erupit sanguis ex naribus regis mortui; ac si indignaretur 
spiritus in adventue ejus, qui ejusdem mortis causa esse 

 "Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-Lore," p. 
 "Glossary," vol. il. p. 974. 



SUNDRY SUPERSTITIONS. 5 i9 
credcbatur, ut x'ideretur sanguis clamare ad Deum."' In 
the "_Athenian Oracle " (i. Io6), this supposed phenomenon 
is thus accounted for : " The blood is congealed in the body 
for two or three days, ad then becomcs liquid again, in its 
tendency to corruption. The air beig hcatcd by many 
persons coming about thc body, is the saine thig to it as 
motion is. "Tis obserx'ed that dcad bodies ill blced in a 
concourse of people, when murdcrers arc absent, as :-ell as 
present, )'et legislators have thought fit to authorize it, and 
use this trial as an argument, at Icast to flighten, though "tis 
no conclusi'c ont to condemn thcm." Among othcr allusions 
to this superstition ma)" be mcntioned one by Kig Jamcs 
i his" Dmonology," 'hcrc -c rcad : " In a secret murdcr, 
if" thc dead carkasse be at aay time thcrcaftcr handlcd by the 
murdcrer, it will gush out of blood, as if thc blood were cry- 
ing to heaven l'or revenge of the murderer." It is spolen 
of also in a note to chapter v. of thc " t:air Maid of l'erth," 
that this blceding of a corpse was urged as an evidelce of 
guilt in thc IIigh Court of Justiciary at lïdinburgh as late 
as the year 668. AI intcrestilg surxqx'al of this curious 
notiol exists in Durham, x'herc, says Mr. tIcnderson, - 
" touching of the corpse by those who corne to look at it is 
sti!l expected by the poor on the part of those xx-ho corne to 
their bouse while a dead body is lying in it, in token that 
they x'ishcd no ill to the departed, and vere in peace and 
amity with him." 
\Ve may also compare the following passage, where Mac- 
beth (iii. 4), speaking of the Ghost, says : 
"It will have blood ; they say, blood will have blood : 
Stones hax'e been known to more. and trees to speak ; 
Augurs and understood relations have 
By magot-pies and choughs and rooks brought forth 
The secret'st man of blood." 
Shakcspeare perhaps alludes to some story in vhich the 
stones covering tbe corpse of a murdered man vere said to 
 See 13rand's "Pop. Antiq.." 1849, x-ol. iii. pp. 229-23i. 
" Folk-Lore of Northern Counties," 849. p. 57- 



50 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESI'EARE. 
bave moved of themsclves, and so revcaled the secret. The 
idea of trees speaking probably refers to thc story of thc tree 
which revcalcd to zEneas thc murdcr of Polydorus (Vcrg., 
"'Encid," iii. 2"-, 599)- Indccd, in days gone by, this super- 
stition was carried to such an extent that wc are told, in 
D'Israeli's "Curiosities of Literature," " by the side of the 
bier, if the slightest change was observable in the eyes, the 
mouth, feet, or hands of the corpse, the murderer was con- 
jectured to be present, and many an innocent spectator 
must have suffered death. This practice forms a rich pict- 
ure in the imagination of our old writers; and their his- 
tories and ballads are labored into pathos by delling on 
this phenomenon." 



CHAPTER XXIII. 
IIISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS, ETC. 
/-?«dgc of _Po,«r/3,. In the reign of \Villim III., those 
who received parish relief had to wear a badge. It was the 
letter P, with the initial of the parish to which they be- 
longed, in red or blue cloth, on the shoulder of the right 
sleeve. In " 2 11enry VI." {,v. I) Clifford says : 
"Might I but know thee by thy household badge." 
]]c«tfclloa,. A proof ofthc silnplicity of manners in olden 
times is evidcnced by thc fact that it vas customary for 
men, even of the highcst l-anl¢, to sleep togcther. In " Hen- 
ry V." (,ii. e) Exctcr says: 
" Nay, but the man that was his bedfellow. 
Whom he bath dull'd and cloy'd with gracious Iavours." 
" This unseemly custom," says Malone, " continued comnloll 
till the middle of the last century, if lOt later." Beaumont 
and Fletchcr, in the "Coxcomb" (i. ), thus refer to it : 
"Must we, that hare so long time been as one, 
Seen cities, countries, kingdoms, and their wonders, 
Been bedfellows, and in our various journey 
Mixt ail our observations." 
In the same way, letters from noblemen to each other often 
iegan with the appellation b«dfi'lloz«.  
CuU'a, 1]cll, which is generally supposed to be of Nor- 
man origin, is still rung in solne of our old country vil- 
lages, although it has long lost its significance. It seelns to 
have been as ilnportant to ghosts as to living mon, it being 
their signal for walking, a license which apparently lasted 
till the first cock. Fairics, too, and other spirits, were un- 

i Nares's " Glossary," vol. i. p. 68. 



522 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
dcr the saine regulations ; and hcnce Prospero, in" The Tem- 
pest" (v. ), says of his elves that they 
" rejoice 
To hear the solemn curfev." 
In "King Lear" (iii. 41 wc find the fiend Flibbertigibbet 
obeying the saine rule, for Edgar says: "This is the foui 
ficnd Flibbcrtigibbct; he bcgins at curfew, and walks till 
the first cock." 
In " Mcasure for Measure " liv. 2) we find another allusion : 
"I«t/,-e. The best and wholesom'st spirits of the night 
Envelope you. good provost ! Who call'd here of late ? 
l'ro,ost. None, since the curfexv rung." 
And, once morc, in "Rolneo and Juliet "(iv. 4), Capulet says : 
• ' Corne. stir, stir. stir ! the second cock bath crow'd, 
The curfmv bell bath rung, 'ris three o'clock." 
Sacrhzg Bel/. This was a bell which rang for processions 
and othcr holy ceremonies2" It is mentioned in " Henry 
VIII." (iii. 2), by the Earl of Surrey: 
" l'Il startle you 
Worse than the sacring bell." 
It is rung in the Romish Church to give notice that the 
" Host" is approaching, and is now called " Sanctus bell," 
from the words " Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus 
Sabaoth," pronounced by the priest. 
On tbe graphic passage where Macbeth (il. ) says: 
"The bell invites me. 
Hear it hot. Duncan ; for it is a knell 
That summons thee to heaven or to hell"-- 
Malone bas this note : "Thus Raleigh, speaking of love, in 
England's ' IIelicon ' (6oo) : 
"' It is perhaps that sauncing bell 
That roules ail into heaven or hell.' 

' See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.." 1849, vol. iii. pp. 220--225 ; also. Har- 
land and Wilkinson's " Lancashire Folk-Lore,"  867, p. 44- 
= Dyce's " Glossary," p. 379. 



MISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS. 2 3 
Sau»cing being probably a mistakc for sacring or saint's bell, 
originally, perhaps, written saintis bell." In " Hudibras" 
we find : 
"The old saintis bell that rings all in." 
(Sar/,,'z-knig]tCs. These were knights dubbed at court by 
mere favor, and hot on the field of battle, for their lnilitary 
exploits. In "Twel[th Night " (iii. 43, Sir Toby defines olle 
of theln thus : " He is knight, dubbed with unhatched 
pier, and on carpet consideration." 
A "trencher knight" was probably synonymous, as in 
" Love's Labour's I.ost " (v. z) : 
"Some mumble-news, some trcncher-knight, some Dick." 
These carpet-knights were SOlnetilnCS called " I«fights of the 
green cloth. '' 
(hair Z)ays. Days of old age and infirnlity, go, iii "2 
Henry VI." !,v. 23, young Clifford, on seeing his dcad father, 
says : 
'" Wast thou ordain'd, dear Iather, 
To lose thy youth in peace, and to achieve 
The silver !ivery of advised age, 
And, in thy reverence, and thy chair-days, thus 
To die in ruffian battle ?" 
Ç/zAalr3'. The expression "sworn brothers," which Shake- 
speare several tilnes elnploys, lçfclS to the " fi'atres jurati," 
who, in the days of chivahT, lnutually bound themselves by 
oath to share each other's fortune. Thus, Falstaff says of 
Shallow, in "2 Henry IV." (iii. 2): " He talks as familiarly 
of John o' Gaunt as if he had been sworn brothel- to him." 
In " Henry V.'" (il. ), Bardolph says: " we'll be all three 
sworn brothers to France." In course of rime it was used 
in a laxer sense, to denote intilnacy, as in" Much Ado About 
Nothing " (i. I), where Beatrice says of Benedick, that " He 
hath evel-y lnonth a nexv sworll brother. ''= 
According to the laws of chivalry, a person of superior 

 See Douce's "Illustrations of Shakespeare," pp. 65. 66. 
= We may compare, too. what Coriolanus says (il. 3: "' I will, sir, 
flatter my sworn brother, the people." 



524 I¢OLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
birth might hot be challenged by an infcrior; or, if chal- 
lcngcd, might refuse combat, a rcfercnce to which seems to 
be made by Cleopatra (" Antony and Clcopatra," ii. 4) : 
" I will hot hurt him.-- 
These hands do lack nobility, that they strike 
A meaner than myself." 
_Again, in " Troihls and Cressida" (v. 4), the same practice is 
alluded to by Hector, who asks Thcrsitcs: 
"What art thou, Greek ? art thou for Hcctor's match ? 
Art thou of blood and honour ?" 
Singer quotes from " Mclvillc's Mcmoirs " (ï35, P- 165) : 
" The Laird of Grange offcred to fight Bothwcll, who an- 
swered that he was hot Iris equal. Thc like answer ruade 
he to Tullibardine. Then my Lord Lindsay offercd to fight 
him, which he could not well refuse: but his heart failed 
him, and he grmv cold on the business." 
Clubs. According to Malone, it was once a common cus- 
tom, on the bl-caking-out ofa fra.v, to call out "Clubs, clubs 
to part the combatants. Thus, ill " I Henry VI." (i. 3), the 
Mayor declares : 
" I'll call for clubs, if you will not away." 
In " Titus Andronicus" (il. I), Aaron says : 
"Clubs, clubs ! these loyers will not keep the peace." 
" Clubs," too," was orlginally the popular cry to call forth 
the London apprcntices, who employed thcir clubs for the 
preservation of the public peace. Solnetimes, however, they 
used those weapons to raise a disturbance, as they are de- 
scribed doing in the following passage il " Henry VIII." 
(v. 4): "I miss'd the meteor once, and hit that woman; 
who cried out ' Clubs !' when I might see from far some forty 
truncheoners draw to her succour, which were the hope o' 
the Straud, where she was quartered. '' 
Color-Lorc. Green eyes have been praised by poets of 

Cf. " Romeo and Juliet," i. I ; " As You Like It," v. e. 



MISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS. 
near]y every land,' and, according to Armado, in " Love's 
Labour's Lost" (i. 2), "Green, indecd, is the colour of lovers.'" 
Ill "A_ Midsummer-Night's Drcam "' (v. I), Thisbc lamcnts: 
" Lovers. make rlloan : 
His eyes were green as leeks." 
The Nurse, in hcr dcscriptioa of Romeo's rival (" Romeo 
and Juliet," iii. 5), says : 
"An eagle, madam, 
Hath not so green, so quick, so fair an eye 
As Paris hath." 

In the "Two Noble Kinsmen " (v. I), Emilia, praying to Di- 
alla» says : 
• ' O vouchsafe, 
With that thy rare green eye--which never yet 
Beheld thing maculate--look on thy virgin." 
The words of Armado have becn variously explained as 
alluding to greeu cycs--Spanish xvriters bcing peculiarly en- 
thusiastic in this praise--to the willow worn by unsuccessful 
lovers, and to their melancholy.  It bas also been suggested 
that, as green is thc color most suggestivc of freshness and 
spring-time, it may have been considered the most appl'o- 
priate lover's badge. At the saine rime, however, it is curi- 
ous that, as green bas been regardcd as an ominous color, it 
should be conncctcd with loyers, for, as an old couplet re- 
IYI a.rks : 
"Those dressed in blue 
Have lovers true ; 
In green and white, 
Forsaken quite." « 
In " Merchant of Venice" (iii. 2), "green-eyed jealousy," 
aud in "Othello " (iii. 3), its equivalent, "green-eyed mon- 
ster," are expressions used by Shakespeare. 
I'«llow is an epithet often, too, applied to jealousy, by the 

 See Singer's " Shakespeare," vol. viii. p. 204. 
 See Douce's " Illustrations of Shakespeare," p. 33. 
 See an article by Mr. Black, in ,4ntiuary, 188L vol. iii. 
« See Henderson's "Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties," pp. 3L 35. 



526 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
old writers. In the " Merry \Vives of "\ïndsor" (i. 3), Nym 
says he will possess Ford " with yellowness." In '" Much 
Ado _About Nothing" (il. J). Bcatricc describes the Count as 
• ' civil as an orange, and somcthing of that jealous complex- 
ion." In " Twclfth Night " (il. 4), Viola tells the Duke how 
ber father's daughtcr loved a man, but never told her love : 
"She pin'd in thought. 
And with a green and ye||ow me|ancho|y 
She sat |ike paticnce on a monumcnt." 

J?izcr Czlstoms. In da)'s gone by there was but one 
salt-cellar on the table, which was a large piecc of plate, 
gencrally much ornamcnted. The tables bein K long, the 
salt was commonly placed about the middlc, and served as 
a kind of boundary to the diffcrent quality of the guests 
invited. Those of distinction were ranked above; the space 
below being assigned to the dependants, inferior relations 
of the toaster ofthc house, etc.' Shakespeare would seem 
to allude to this custom in the " "Winter's Tale " (i. 2), where 
Leontcs says : 
"lower messes. 
Perchance, are to this business purblind ?" 

Upon which passage Steevens adds," Leontes comprehends 
inferiority of understanding iii the idea of inferiority of 
tank." 13en Jonson, speaking of the characteristics of an 
insolent coxcomb, remarks: " His fashion is hot to take 
knowledge ofhim that is beneath him in clothes. He never 
drinks belov the salt." 
Ordi»ar3,. This was a public dinner, where each paid his 
share, an allusion to which custom is ruade by Enobarbus, 
in "Antony and Cleopatra" (ii. 2), who, speaking of Antony, 
says : 
• ' Being barber'd ten times o'er, goes to the feast, 
And, for his ordinary, pays his heart 
For what his eyes eat onlv." 

 Gifford's note on "Massinger's Works," I813, vol. i. p. 7o; see 
Dyce's "Glossary to Shakespeare," pp. 269, 38o. 



MISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS. 527 
Again, in " All's \Vell that Ends \Vell" (il. 3), Lafeu says: 
" I did th[nk thcc, for two ordinaries, to be a pretty wise 
fellow ; thou didst make tolcrable vent of thy travel." 
The " ordinary " also denoted the lounging-place of thc 
meta of the town, and the fantastic gallants who hcrdcd to- 
gcther. Thcy were, says thc author of" Curiosities of Lit- 
craturc " (vol. iii. p. 82), " thc exchange for ncws, the echoing- 
places for al] sorts of town talk; thcrc thcy might hear of 
the last ncw p]ay and potin, and the last fl-esh widow sigh- 
ing for somc knight to makc her a lady; these resorts wcrc 
attcndcd a]so to save charges of housekeepîng." 
Driukit¢q Çustams. Shakespcarc bas givcn sevcral allu- 
sions to thc old customs associated with drinking, wh[ch 
bave alwavs varicd in diffcrcnt countrics. At thc present 
day many of thc drinking customs still obscrvcd are very 
curious, cspccially thosc kcpt up at thc univcrsitics and [mas- 
of-court. 
.qh«s-drt#« was a phrase in use, says \Varburton, arnong 
good fellows, to signi, that liquor of another's share which 
lais companion drank to ease hirn. So, in "-A_ntony and 
Cleopatra" (il. 7), one of the servants says of Lepidus: 
" Thcy bave ruade him drink alms-drink." 
3,-driukiu+s. This was a phrase for drinkings between 
lneals, and is used by the Hostess in "  Henry IV." (iii. 3), 
who says to Falstaff: " Vou owe money here besides, Sir 
John, for your diet, and by-drinkilgs." 
ffootscd tots. In olden rimes drinking-pots were inade 
with hoops, so that, when two or more drank rioto the saine 
tankard, no olae should drink more than lais share. There 
were generally three hoops to the pots " hence, ill " 2 Henry 
VI." (iv. œe), Cade says: " The three-hooped pot shall have 
ten hoops." In Nash's " Picrce I»ennilesse" we read: " I 
believe hoopes on quart pots were invented that every wlall 
should take lais hoope, and no more." 
The phrases " to do a lllall right" and " to do him rea- 
son" wel-e, in years gone by, the COmlT1Oll expl-essions in 
pledging healths: lac who drank a bumper expected that a 
bumper should be drunk to his toast. To this practice 



528 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
alludes thc scrap of a song which Silence sings in "2 Henry 
IV." (v. 3): 
"Do me right, 
And dub me knight : 
Samingo." 
Ho who drank, too, a bumper on his knee to the health 
of his mistress was dubbed a knight for the evening. The 
word Samingo is either a corruption of, or an intended blun- 
der for, San Domingo, but why this saint should be the pa- 
tron of topers is uncertain. 
Rousc. According to Gifford,' a ronsc was a large glass in 
which a hcalth was given, the drinking of which, by the rest 
of thc company, formed a carouse. Hamlct (i. 4) says : 
"The king doth wake to-night, and takes his rouse." 
The word occurs again in the following act (I), where Polo- 
nius uses the phrase " o'crtook in's rouse ;" and in the sense 
of a bumpcr, or glass of liquor, in " Othello " (il. 3), " they 
have given me a rouse already." 
S/wcr AI«. This term, which is used in the "Taming of 
the Shrexv" (Induction, sc. 2), by Sly--" Ask Marian Hacket, 
the fat ale-wife of \Vincot, if she know lne hot : if she say I 
ara hot fourteen pence on the score for sheer ale "--accord- 
ing to some expositors, means "aie alonc, nothing but ale," 
rather than "unmixed aie." 
SlcaZ'-CUl. This phrase, which is used by Falstaff in 
" I Henry IV." (iii. 3)--" the prince is a Jack, a sneak-cup " 
--was used to denote one who balked his glass. 
Earilcst 3[omy. It was, in olden rimes, customary to rat- 
ify an agreement by a bcnt coin. In " Henry VIII." (il. 3), 
the old lady remarks: 
"'Tis strange : a three-pence bow'd would hire me, 
Old as I ara, to queen it." 
There wcre, however, no threepences so early as the reign 
of Henry VIII. 

 See Dyce, vol. iv. p. 395. 



IIISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS. 529 
.rclamatios. "Charity, for the Lord's sake!" was the 
form of ejaculatory supplication used by imprisoned debtors 
to the passers-by. So, iii Davies's " Epigrams " (6I I) : 
"Good. gentle writers, ' for the Lord's sake, for the Lord's sake,' 
Like Ludgate prisoner, lo, I, begging, make 
My mone." 
Iu " Measure for Measure" (iv. 3), the phrase is alluded to 
by Pompey : "ail great doers in our trade, and are now ' for 
the Lord's sake.' "" 
"Cry Budget." A watchword. Thus Slendcr says to 
Shallow, in thc " Mcrry \Vives of Windsor" (,v. 2): " \Ve 
have a nay-word, how to know ont another: I corne to her 
in white, and cry 'lnum ;' shc cries 'budget ;' and by that 
we know one another." 
" God save the mark." " Romeo and Juliet" (iii. 2). This 
exclamation has hitherto bafttcd the research of every com- 
mentator. It occurs again in " I Henry I\r. '' (i. 3); and in 
the " Merchant of Venice" (ii. : and in " Othello" (i. I), 
we have " God bless the mark." In the quarto,  597, instead 
of" God save the mark" in thc first passage quoted, ve have 
" God save the sample," an expression equally obscure.' 
Iali«hmz. This exclamation was used, says Minsheu," by 
old countrymen, by manner ofswearing. In "Two Gentle- 
men of Verona" (iv. ), the ttostess says : " By my halidom, 
I was fast asleep ;" thc probable dcrivation bcing hoO', with 
the termination d0mr. 
iall.t /j«//.t An exclamation forlnerly used, to make a 
clear space in a crowd, for any particular purpose, was "A hall, 
a hall." So, in " Romeo and Juliet" (i. 5, Capulet says : 
" Corne, musicians, play.-- 
A hall, a hall ! give room ! and Ioot it. girls." 
Iay. This is equivalent to "you have it," an exclamation 
in fencing, when a thrust or hit is received by the antagonist. 

» Staunton's "Shakespeare," vol. i. p. "57. 
= "Guide into Tongues," t6o7. 
34 



53 ° FOLK-LORE OF «SHAKESPEARE. 
In" Romeo and Juliet" (ii. 4), Mercutio speaks of" the punto 
rcverso ! the hay !" 
IJald. To cry/wld.t when persons were fighting, was an 
authoritative way of separating them, according to the old 
military law. So Macbeth, in his struggle with Macduff, says: 

"And damn'd be he that first cries, ' Hold, enough !'" 

We may compare Lady Macbcth's words (i. 5) : 

" Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, 
To cry, ' Hold, hold !'" 

" I' the naine of me." ,. vulgar exclamation formerly in 
use. So in the "\Vinter's Talc" (iv. 2) it is used by the 
Clown. 
"Oaa, Oho .t,, This savage exclamation was, saysSteevens, 
constantly appropriatcd by the writers of our ancient mys- 
tcries and moralitics to the devil. In "The Tempest" (i. 2), 
Caliban, whcn rcbuked by Prospero for seeking " to violate 
the honor of my child," replies: 
"O ho, O ho ! would it had been done ! 
Thou didst prevent me ; I had peopled else 
This isle with Çalibans." 

f¢lS/t. An exclamation equivalent totffsk.' It is used by 
Leonato in " Much Ado About Nothing" (v. ): 

"And made a push at chance and sufferance ;" 

and again, in "Timon of Athens" (iii. 6), where one of the 
lords says: " Push ! did you see my cap ?'" 
Riz,o was an exclamation often used in Bacchanalian revels, 
but its origin is uncertain. It occurs iii "I Henry IV." 
(il. 4) : "' Rivo !' says the drunkard." Gifford suggests that 
it is "corrupted, perhaps, from the Spanish rio, which is 
figuratively used for a large quantity of liquor," a deriva- 
tion, however, which Mr. Dyce does hOt think probable. 

 See Dyce's "Glossary," p. 343. 



iXIISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS. 53 I 
Slzcd'-»/. This wa.s an exclamation of contempt, equiva- 
lent to "go and hang yourself."' Itis used by Sir Toby in 
"Twelfth Night" (il. 3), in reply to Malvolio's rcbuke : " \Ve 
did keep time, sir, in our catches. Sneck up !" 
ço-/to. This is the cry of sportsmen when the hare is 
round in her seat. 
Sy. " I spy " is the usual exclamation at a well-known 
childish game called "' I Iie spy, hie !" 
7},ilor. Johnson explains the following words of Puck in 
"A Midsummer-Night's Dream" (il. ) thus: 

"The wisest aunt, telling the saddest talc, 
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me ; 
Then slip I from her bun, down topples she, 
And ' tailor' cries, and falls into a cough." 

"The custom of crying tailor at a sudden fall backwards, 
I think I remember to have observed. Ite that slips beside 
his chair, falls as a tailor squats upon his board." Mr. Dyce,  
however, adds, "it may be doubted if this explains the 
text." 
ïFi//j'-z'«l/3,. An exclamation of contempt, the etymology 
of which is uncertain. According to Douce it is a hunting 
phrase borrowed from the French. Singer says it is equiva- 
lent to flddl,'-fa,ht/,'. It occurs in " Twelfth Night" (ii. 3), 
being used by Sir Toby: "Ara not I consalaguineous? aih 
I hot of her blood ? Tilly-vally, lady !:' 
In " 2 Henry IV." (ii. 4), the Hostess corrupts it to 
zll.1': " Tilly-fally, Sir Jolm, ne'er tell me: your ancient 
swaggerer colnes hot in nly doors." 
As a further illustration of the use of this word, Singer 
quotes a conversation between Sir Thomas More and his 
wife, given in Roper's Lire: " Is not this house, quoth he, as 
nigh heaven as my own? To whom she, after her accus- 
tomed holnely fashion, not liking such talk, answered, Tylle- 
valle, Tylle-valle." 
ll)'stzc,ard,/zo. This was one of the exclalnations of the 

 Dyce's "Glossary," p. 402.  Ibid., vol. vi. p. 45.  Ibid., p. 43- 



532 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
watermcn who plied on the Thames, aud is used by Viola in 
" Twelfth Night" liii. I). Dyce"quotes from Peel's " Ed- 
ward I." to illustrate the use of this word : 
• ' u«en FliJwr. Ay. good woman, conduct me to the court, 
That there I may bewail my sinful lire, 
And call to God to save my wretched soul. 
[.4 oy of" ll'«sle«rd, 1o. t' 
Woman, vhat noise is this I hear ? 
l'ott«r's ll'zf«. &n like your grace, ft is the watermen that call for 
passengers to go westward now." 
Dckker took the exclamation " \Vestward, ho !" for the 
title of a comedy; aud Jonson, Chapman. and lXIarston 
adopted that of " F.astward, ho !" for one jointly written by 
them a fcw years aflcrwards. 
];ools. Mr. Douce, in his essay "On the Clowns and Fools 
of Shakespearc," has ruade a nincfold division of English 
fools, according to quality or place of employment, as the 
domestic fool, the city or corporation fool, the tavern fool, 
the fool of the mysterics and moralities. The last is gen- 
erally called the " vice," and is the original of the stage 
clowns so common among thc dramatists of the rime of 
Elizabcth, and who embody so much of the wit of Shake- 
speare. 
A very palpable distinction is that which distinguishes 
bctween such creatures as were chosen to excite to laughter 
from some deformity of mind or body, and such as were 
chosen for a certain alertuess of mind and power of repartee 
--or, briefly, butts and wits. Yhc dress of the regular court 
fool of the middle ages was hOt altogether a rigid uniform, 
but seems to have changed from time to time. The head 
was shaved, the coat was motley, and the breeches tight, with, 
generally, one leg different in color from the other. The 
head was covered with a garment resembling a monk's cowl, 
which fell over the breast and shoulders, and often bore asses' 
ears, and was crested with a co,comb, while bells hung from 
various parts of the attire. The fool's bauble was a short 

' "GIossary," p. 497 ; sec Nares's "GIossary,'" vol. il. p. 95-'- 



MISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS. 533 
staff bearing a ridiculous head, to which was solnctimes at- 
tached ai1 inflated bladder, by which sham castigations were 
inflicted; a long petticoat was also occasionally worn, but 
seems to have belonged rather to the idiots than the wits. 
The fool's busillCSs was to amuse his toaster, to excite his 
laughtcr by sharp contrast, to prevcnt the over-oppression of 
state affairs, and, iii harmony with a well-known physiologi- 
cal prccept, by his livcliness at meals to assist his lord's di- 
gestion.' 
The custom of shavin and nickin the head of a fool 
is very old. There is a penalty of ten shillings, in ouc of 
Alfred's Ecclesiastical Laws, if one opprobriously shave a 
common man like a fool; and Malonc citcs a passage from 
" The Choice of Change," etc., by q. 1(. Gent, 4to, 1598-- 
" Thrce things used by monks, which provoke other nlcll to 
laugh at their follies: I. They are shaven and notched on 
the head like foolcs." 
Ill the " Collledy of Errors" (v. I), the servaut says : 
" My toaster preaches patience to him. and the while 
His man with scissors nicks him like a fool." 

Forf,'is. 111 order to enforce some kind of regularity in 
barbers' shops, which were once places of great resort for the 
idle, certain laws were usually ruade, the bleaking of which 
was to be punished by forfeit.s. Rules of this kind, however, 
were as orteil laughed at as obeyed, go, in " Measure for 
Measure" (v. I): 
"laws for ail faults. 
But faults so countenanc'd, that the strong statures 
Stand like the forfeits in a barber's shop. 
As much in mock as mark. 

Gam[lhz. It was once custoinary for a person when 
going abroad " to put out " a sure of money on condition of 
receiving good interest for it on his return home ; if he never 
returned the deposit was forfeited. Hence such a olle was 

* ,, Encyclopoedia 13ritannica,'" 1879, vol. ix. p. 366 ; see Doran's "His- 
tory of Court Fools," 858. 



534 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
called "a putter-out." It is to this practice that refcrence 
is ruade ill the following passage (" The Tempest," iii. 3) : 
"or that there were such men 
Whose heads stood in their breasts ? which now we find 
Each putter-out of rive for one will bring us 
Good warrant of." 

Malone quotes from Moryson's " Itincrary" (I617, pt. i. 
p. I98 ) : " This custom of giving out inOlley tlpon these ad- 
ventures was filst used in court and noblcmcn ;" a practice 
which " banker-outs, stage-players, and lllell of base con- 
dition had drawn into contempt," by uldertaking journeys 
merely for gain upoll their return. In Ben Jonson's " Ev- 
ery l,lall Out of His Ilulllour" (.ii. 3) the custom is thus 
alluded to : " I do intend, this year of jubilee coming on, to 
travcl; and because I will hot altogether go upon expence, 
I ana determined to put forth some rive thousand pound, to 
be paid me fiz'c for o¢c, tlpOll the return of my wife, myself, 
and my dog, from the Turk's court at Constantinople. Ifall, 
or either of us, miscarry ill the journey, "tis gone ; if we be 
successful, why then there will be rive and twenty thousaud 
pound to entertain tilne with." 
Gar¢«rs. It was the regular amorous etiquette in the reign 
of Elizabeth, ' " for a man, profcssing himself deeply ill love, 
to assulne certain outward marks of negligence in his dress, 
as if too much occupied by his passion to attend to such 
trifles, or driven by despondency to a forgetfulness of all out- 
ward appearance." His " garters, iii particular, were not to 
be tied up." I11 "As You Like It" (iii. 2), this custom is 
described by Rosalind, who tells Orlando: "There is none 
of my uncle's marks upon you ; he taught me how to know 
a man in love; .... your hose should be ungarter'd, your 
bonnet unbanded, your sleeve unbuttoned, your shoe untied, 
and'every thing about you demonstrating a careless desola- 
tion." _Another fashion which seems to have been common 
among the beaux of Ç)ueen Elizabeth's reign, was that of 

 Nares's "Glossary," vol. i. p. 35o. 



MISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS. 535 
wearing garters across about the knees, an allusion to which 
we find in " Twelfth Night" (il. 5), in the letter which Mal- 
volio reads : " Remember who commended thy yellow stock- 
i«gs, and wished to see thee ever cross-gartered." Douce 
quotes ri-oto the old comedy of "The Two Angrie "Vomen 
of Abingdon" (1599), where a servingman is thus dcscribed : 
"Hee's a fine neate fellow, 
A spruce slave, I warrant ye, he'ele have 
His cruell garters crosse about the knee." 
In days gone by, whell garters were worn in sight, the 
upper classes vore very expensive ones, but the lower orders 
worsted galloon ones. l'rince Ilen W calls l'oins (" I Henry 
IV.," il. 4) a " caddis garter," ineaning a man of mean rank. 
G«udy Da3's. Feast-days in the colleges of our univer- 
sities are so called, as thev were formerly at the inns-of- 
court. In "Antony and Cleopatra" (,iii. I3) , Antony says: 
'" come, 
Let's have one other gaudy night : call to me 
Ail my sad captains ; fill our bowls once more ; 
Let's mock the midnight bell." 
They were so called, says Blount, " from «udim,t, because, 
to say truth, they are days of joy, as bringing good cheer to 
the hungry students." 
Glovc. As an article of dress the glove held a conspicuous 
place in many of our old customs and ceremonies. Thus, it 
was often worn ill the hat as a favor, and as a mark to be 
challenged by an enemy, as is illustrated by the follmving 
dialogue in " Heni T V." (iv. I): 
"]ci,g lgc,¢ry. Give me any gage of thine, and I will wear it in my 
bonnet : then, if ever thou darest acknowledge it, I will make it my 
quarrel. 
llïlliams. Here's my glove: give me another of thine. 
A'z)z" H«mT,. There. 
H ïlli«ms. This will I also wear in my cap : if ever thou corne to me 
and say, after to-morrow, ' This is my glove,' by this hand, I will take 
thee a box on the ear. 
ICi, rg Henry. If ever I live to sec it. I will challenge it. 
lI'i#i«ms. Thou darest as well be hanged." 



536 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
Again, in " Troilus and Cressida" (v. 2), Diomedes, taking the 
glove fl'om Cressida, says: 
"To-morrow will I wear it on my helm, 
And grieve his spirit that dares hot challenge it." 
And in" Richard II." (v. 3), Pcrcy narratcs how l'rince Henry 
boasted that-- 
"he would unto the stews, 
And from the common'st creature pluck a glove, 
And wear it as a favour ; and with that 
tle would unhorse the lustiest challenger." 
The glove was also worn in the hat as the memorial of a 
friend, and in the " Mcrchant of Vcnice" (iv. ), Portia, in her 
assumed character, asks Bassanio for his gloves, which she 
says she will wear for his sake: 
"Give me your gloves, Fil wear them for your sake." 
When the fashion of thus wearing gloves declined, " it fell 
into the hands of coxcombical and dissolute servants. ''1 
Thus Edgar, in " King Lear" (iii. 4), bcing asked by Lear 
what he had been, replies : "_A serving-man, proud in heart 
and mind; that curled my hair; wore gloves in my cap." 
To throw the glove, as the signal of a challenge, is alluded 
to by Troilus (iv. 4), who tells Cressida : 
" For I will throw my glove to Death himself, 
That's there's no maculation in thy heart " 
--the meaning being, says Johnson : " I will challenge Death 
himself in dcfence of thy fidelity." 
The glove thcn thrown down was popularly called "a 
gage," " from thc French, signifying a pledgc, and in" Richard 
II." (iv. ), it is so termed by Aumerle : 

' Nares's "Glossary," vol. i. p. 37 I. 
= The verb "to gage," or "' to pledge," occurs in " Merchant of 
Venice," i. I : 
"but my chier care 
Is, to corne fairly off from the great debts 
lVherein my tilne, something too prodigal, 
Hath left me gaged." 
Cf. '"  Henry IV.," i. 3- 



MISCELLANEOUS CUSTOlXIS. 

"There is my gage, the manual seal of death, 
That marks thee out for hell." 

In the saine play it is also called "honor's pawn." 
13olingbroke (i. I) says to Mowbray : 

" Pale trembling coward, there I tb-row my gage, 
Disclaiming here the kindred of the king; 
And lay aside my high blood's royalty, 
Which fear, not reverence, makes thee to except. 
If guilty dread hath left thee so much strength 
As to take up mine honour's pawn, then stoop." 

537 

Thus 

.And furthcr OI1 (iV'. I), one of the lords cmploys the saine 
phrase : 
'" There is my honour's paxvn ; 
Engage it to the trial, if thou dar'st." 

It is difficult to discover why the glov.c was i-ecognized as 
the sign of defiance. P, rand ' suggests that the custom of 
d}opping or sending the glov.e, "as thc signal of a challenge, 
may hav.e been derived from the Cil-CUlnstance of its bcing 
the cover of the hand, and therefore put for the hand itself. 
The giv.ing of the hand is well klloWil to intilnate that the 
person who does so will hot deceive, but stand to his agree- 
ment. To s/mX'c/remis utou it would hot be very delicate in 
an agreelnent to fight, and, therefore, gloves may possibly 
have been deputed as substitutes." 
.A_gain, the glove was often thrown dowll as a pledge, as 
in " Timon of Athens" (v. 4), where the senator says to 
Alcibiadcs : 
"Throw thy glove, 
Or any token of thine honour else, 
That thou wilt use the wars as thy red/-ess, 
And hOt as our confusion." 
Whereupon Alcibiades answers : " Then there's my glove." 
In " King Lear" (v. 2), Albany thus speaks : 
"Thou art afin'd. GIoster :--let the trumpet sound : 
If none appear to prove, upon thy person, 

' " Pop. Antiq.," vol. ii. p. I'-7. 



538 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
Thy heinous, manifest, and many treasons, 
There is my pledge ; [ T/trooi doyen a glove] I'll prove it on thy 
heart." 

1,1 " Tl'oilus and Cressida'" (iv. 53, H«tor further alludes to 
this practice : 

" Your quondam wife swears still by Venus' glove • 
She's vell, but bade me not commend her to )'ou." 

Scented glovcs were formerly given axvay as presents. 
In " \Vinter's Tale" the custoln is rcferred to by Mopsa, 
who says to the Clown (iv. 4): " Corne, you promised me a 
tawdry lace, and a pair of sweet gloves :" and Autolycus is 
introduced singing : 

"Glovcs as sweet as damask roses." 

In " Much Ado About Nothing" (iii. 4), Hero says: 
"These gloves the count sent me; they are an excellent 
perfume." Trinity College, Oxford, not ungrateful to its 
founder and his spouse, bas many entries, after the date of 
1556 , in the Bursar's books, " pro fulnigatis chirothecis," for 
pcrfumed gloves. 
]çiss. -I11 years past, a kiss was the recognized fee of a 
lady's partncr, and as such is noticed in '" Henry \'III." 
(i. 4): 
" I were unmannerly to take you out. 
And hot to kiss you." 

In " The Tempest" (i. 2) it is alluded to in Aricl's song: 

"Corne unto these yellov sands, 
And then take hands: 
Curt'sied when you have, and kiss'd, 
The wild waves whist. 
Foot it featly here and there, 
And. sweet sprites, the burthen bear." 

There is probably a veiled allusion to the saine ceremony 
in " \Vinter's Tale" (iv. 4), where, at the dance of shep- 
herds and shepherdesses, the following dialogue occurs: 



-MISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS. 539 
"Clazqt. Corne on, strike up ! 
1)orcas. Mopsa must be your mistress : marry, garlic, 
To menti her kissing with. 
A[«sa. Now, in good time ! 
Cloa,it. Not a word, a word ; we stand upon our manners. 
Corne, strike up !" 
In an old treatise cntitled thc " Usc and .Abuse of Danc- 
ing and 1Minstrelsie" we read : 
• ' But some reply, what fools will daunce 
If that when daunce is doon, 
He may not bave at ladyes lips, 
That which in daunce he doon.'" 
The practice of saluting ladies with a kiss was once very 
general, and in the " lIerry \Vives of \Vindsor" to kiss the 
hostess is indircctly spoken of as a common'courtesy ofthe 
In " Romeo and Juliet " (i. 5) a finther instance occurs, 
where Romeo kisses Juliet at Capulet's entertainment; 
and, in " Henry VIII." (i. 4), Lord Sands is represented as 
kissing Arme Bullen, next to whom he sits at supper. 
The celebrated "kissing colnfits" .were sugar-plums, once 
cxtcnsivcly used by fashionable persons to make thc breath 
sweet. Falstaff, in the " Mcrry \Vives of Windsor" (v. 5), 
when embracing lIrs. Ford, says: " Let it thunder to the 
tune of' Green Sleeves,' hall ldssing comfits, and show erin- 
goes. 
In " Ieasure for Measure " (iv. I, song) kisses are referred 
to as "seals of love." A Judas kiss was a kiss of treachery. 
Thus, h " 3 Henry VI." (v. 7), Gloster says : 
"so Judas kiss'd his master, 
And cried ' Ail hall !' when-as he meant all harm." 
Lace So,ts. These were jingling rhymes, SUllg by young 
girls while engaged at their lace-pillows. A practice alluded 
to by the Duke in " Twelfth Iqight " (ii. 4) : 
"O. fellow, corne, the song we had last night.-- 
Mark it, Cesario ; it is old and plain ; 
The spinsters and the knitters in the sun, 



540 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
And the free maids that weave their thread with bones 
Do use to chant it." 
Miss Bakcr, in her "Northamptonshire Glossary" (I854, 
vol. i. p. 378), says,"Thc movemcnt of the bobbins is timed 
by the modulation of the tune, which cxcites thcm to regular- 
ityand chcerfulness; and it is a plcasing sight to see thcm, in 
warm, sunny wcather, seatcd outsidc their cottagc doors, or 
seeking the shade of a neighboring trce" where, in cheerful 
groups, thcy unitc in singing their rude and simplc rhymes. 
Thc following is a spccimcn of ont of thcse ditties, most 
dcscriptive of thc occupation : 
"' Nineteen long lincs, bring over my down, 
The faster I work it, I'll shorten my score, 
But if I do play, it'll stick to a stay, 
So heigh ho! little fingcrs, and twank it away." " 
L«lt«rs. The word Emmanuel was formcrly prcfixed, 
probably from fcelings of piety, to letters and public deeds. 
So in " _ Henry VI." (iv. 2) there is the following allusion 
to it : 
" Cade. Wlmt is thy naine ? 
Clcrk. Emmanuel. 
]gick. They use to write it on the top of letters." 
Staunton says: " \Vc can refer to onc IIS. alone, lu the 
British Museum (Ad. MSS. 9, 40o), which contains no less 
than fourteen private cpistles headed ' Emanewell,' or' Jesus 
Immanucl." " 
Anothcr superscription of a letter in vears gone by was 
" to the bosom " of a lady. Thus Hamlet (il. e) says in lais 
lctter to Ophelia: 
" In ber excellent whitc bosom, these." 
And in the "Two Gcntlemen of Verona" (iii. I), Proteus 
says : 
"Thy letters may be here, though thou art hence ; 
Which. being writ to me. shall be deliver'd 
Even in the milk-white bosom of thy love." 
This custom seems to bave originated in the circumstance 
of wonael having a pocket in the forepart of their stays, in 



MISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS. 54 ! 
which, according to Steevens, "they carried not only love- 
lettcrs and love-tokens, but even thcir money and materials 
for needlework." 
Liz'cr3'. The phrase " sue my livery," which occurs in the 
following spcech of Bolingbroke (" Richard Il." il. 3), 
" I ana denied to sue my livery here, 
And yet my letters-patents give me leave ; 
My father's goods are all distrain'd, and sold, 
And these, and all, are all amiss employ'd," 
is thus explained by Malone: " On the death of every per- 
son who hcld by knight's service, the eschcator of the court 
in which ho dicd summoncd a jury, who inquircd what 
estate he dicd seizcd of, and of what age his ncxt hoir was. 
If he was undcr agc, he bccame a ward of thc king's; but if 
he vas found to be of full age, he then had a right to sue 
out a writ of o«sh'r le mabt, that is, his livery, that the king's 
hand might be taken off, and the land delivered to him." 
York (" Richart II.,'" il. ) also says : 
" If you do wrongfully seize Hereford's rights, 
Call in the letters-patents that he hath 
Bv lais attorneys-general to sue 
His livery." 
Lo,c-1)«3,. This denoted a day of amity or reconciliation : 
an expression which is used by Saturninus in " Titus An- 
dronicus" çi. 1) : 
"You are my gamst, Lavinia, and your friends.-- 
This day shall be a love-day, Tamora." 
MILITARY LORE. Fl«s/zmc]zt. This is a military term; 
a young soldier being said to fl«s/t his sword the first time 
he draws blood with it. In " King Lear" (il. 2), Oswald 
relates how Kent 
• ' in the fleshment of this dread exploit, 
Drew on me here again," 
upon which passage Singer (vol. ix. p. 377)has this note: 
" Fleshment, therefore, is here metaphorically applied to the 
first act which Kent, in his new capacity, l:ad performed for lais 



54 2 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
toaster ; and, at the same time, in a sarcastic sense, as though 
he had esteemed it an heroic exploit to trip a man behind, 
who was actually falling." The phrase occurs again in " I 
Henry IV." (v. 4), where l'rince I [erlry tells lais brother" 
"Come, brother John, full bravely hast thou fiesh'd 
Thy maiden sword." 
Sz«carhg lU' th« S,or«l. According to Nares,' " thc sin- 
gular mixture of religious and milita,-y fanaticism which 
arose from thc Crusades gave rise to the custom of taking 
a solemn oath upon a sword. In a plain, unenriched sword, 
the sepa,ation between the bladc and the hilt was usually 
a straight transverse bar, which, suggesting the idea of a 
cross, added to the devotion which every truc knight fclt for 
his favorite weapon, and evidently led to this p,actice." 
l Iamlct makes l Ioratio swear that lac will never divulge 
having seen the Ghost (i. 5): 
" Never to speak of this that you bave seen, 
Swear by my sword." 
Ila the " x.Vintcr's Tale " (il. 3), Leonato says: 
" Swear by this sword 
Thou wilt perform my bidding." 
The cross of the sword is also mentioned to illustrate the 
true bearing of the oath. Hence, in " I Henry IV." (il. 4), 
Falstaff says jestingly of Glendower, that he "swore the 
devil his true liegeman upon the cross of a X.Velsh hook. '' 
On account of the practice of swearing by a sword, or, rath- 
er, by the cross or upper end of it, the name of csits was 
sometimes inscribed on the handle or some other part. 
J][btitg Terres. Jkccording to Mr. Collier, the phrase 
"truepenny" is a mining ter,n cu,rent in the north of Eng- 
land, signifying a particular indication in the soil, of the 

' "Glossary," vol. il. p. 858 ; see Dyce's "Glossary," p. 43I. 
= A Welsh hook was a sort of bill, hooked at the end, and with a 
long handle. See Dyce's "Glossal3,," p. 497 ; and Singer's " Shake- 
peare," vol. ix. p. 168. 



MISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS. 43 
direction in which cre is to be found. Thus Hamlet (i. 5) 
says 
"Ah, ha, boy ! say'st thou so ? art thou there, truepenny ?" 
when making Horatio and Marcellus again swear that they 
will not divulge having seen the ghost. 
'«trons. The custom of clergymen praying for their 
patrons, in what is called the bidding prayer, seems alludcd 
to by Kcnt in " King Lear" (i. I): 
" Royal Lear. 
Whom I bave ever honour'd as my king, 
Lov'd as my father, as my toaster follow'd, 
As my great patron thought on in my prayers." 
&gitt«ry. This was a monster, hall mail half beast, de- 
scribed as a terrible archer ; neighing like a horse, and with 
its eyes of tire striking men dead as if with lightning. In 
" Troilus and Crcssida" (v. 5), Agamemnon says : 
"The dreadful Sagittary 
Appals our numbers." 
Hence any deadly shot was called a sagittary. In "Othello" 
(,i. I) the barrack is so named from the figure of ail archer 
over the door. 
A'«hd lP«U,s. Days of green youth and inexperience. 
Cleopatra says (i. 5): 
"My salad days, 
When I was green in judgment :--cold in blood." 
Se/t. The sait of youth is that vigor and strong passion 
which then predominates. The terre is several times used 
by Shakespeare for strong amorous passion. Iago, in 
" Othello" (iii. 3), refers to it as " hot as monkeys, as salt as 
wolves in pride." In " Measure for Measure" (v. I), the 
Duke calls Angelo's base passion lais "salt imagination," 
because he supposed his victim to be Isabella, and not lais 
betrothed wife, whom he was forced by the Duke to marw.' 
S«/ut«tio,s. God-den was used by our forefathers as 

 Brewer's " Dictionary of Phrase and Fable," p, 782. 



544 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARIï. 
soon as noon was past, aftcr which rime "good-morrow" or 
"good-day" was csteemed impropcr; the phrase "God ye 
good den" being a contraction of "God give you a good 
evening." This flflly appears flore thc following passage in 
" Romco and Julict" (ii. 4) : 

".)wse. God ye good morrow, gentlemen. 
3lcrculio. God ye good den, fair gentlewoman." 

Upon being thus corrcctcd, thc Nurse asks," Is it good den ?" 
to which Mercutio replies, " 'Tis no less, I tell )'ou, for the 
bawdy hand of thc dial is now upon the prick of noon." 
A flrthcr corruption of thc saine phrase was "God dig- 
you-den," as used by Costard in " Love's Labour's Lost " 
(iv. ): "God dig-you-dcn all !" Shakespeare uses it several 
timcs, as in "Titus Andronicus" (iv. 4), where the Clown 
says: " God and Saint Stephcn give you good den ;" and in 
"King John" (i. ) we have "Good-den, Sir Richard!" 
Another old popular salutation was "good even and 
twcnty" (" Mcrry \Vives of \Vindsor," ii. , equivalent to 
'" twcnty good-evcnings." Mr. Halliwell-Phillipps quotes a 
similar phrase from Elliot's " Fruits of thc French " (I593), 
" God night, and a thousand to everybody." 
\\re may also compare the phrase "good deed " in "\Vin- 
ter's Talc" (i. 2)--a species of asseveration, as "in very deed." 
S«rz,ats" Çustoms. The old custom of the servants of 
great familles taking an oath of fidelity on their entrance 
into office--as is still the case with those of the sovereign-- 
is alludcd to by Posthumus in " Cymbeline" (ii. 4), where, 
speaking of Imogen's servants, he says : 

"Her attendants are 
Ail sworn and honourable. '' 

Gold chains werc formerly worn by persons of rank and 
dignity, and by rich merchants--a fashion which descend- 
ed to upper servants in great houses--and by stewards as 
badges of office. These chains were usually cleaned by be- 

 See Percy's "Northumberland Household 13ook," p. 49. 



ixIISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS. 54 
ing rubbed with crumbs. Hence, in " Twelfth Night" (il. 3), 
Sir Toby says to the Clown : 
'" Go, sir, tub your chain with crumbs." 
In days gone by, too, it was customary for the servants 
of the nobility, particularly the gentleman-usher, to attend 
bare-headed. In the procession to the trial in " Itenry 
'III." (ii. 4), one of the persons enumerated is a gentleman- 
usher " bare-headed." On grand occasions, coachmen, also, 
drove bare-headed, a practice alluded to in Beaumont and 
Fletcher's " \Voman-Hater " (iii. ") : 

" Or a pleated lock, or a barehcaded coachman, 
This sits like a sign where great ladies are 
To be sold within." 

Shcriffs" I,st. At the doors of shcriffs wcre usually set 
up ornmnental posts, en which royal and civic proclamations 
were fixed. So, in " Twelfth Night" (i. 5), Malvolio says: 
'" He'll stand at your door like a sheriff's post." "A pair 
of mayors' posts," says Staunton, " are still standing in Nor- 
wich, which, from the initials T. P., and the date  59-, are 
conjectured to bave belonged to Thomas Pettys, who was 
mayor of that city in 592. '' 
ShocUg-Horn. This, from its convenient use in drawing 
on a tight shoe, was applied in a jocular metaphor to other 
subservient and tractable assistants. Tlms Thersites, in 
"Troilus and Cressida " (v. x), in his railing mood givcs this 
naine to Menelaus, whom he calls " a thrifty shoeing-horn in 
a chain, hanging at lais brother's [Agamemnon] leg." 
It was also employed as a contemptuous naine for dan- 
glers on young women. 
In the saine way " shoe-tye " became a characteristic naine 
for a traveller, a terre used by Shakespeare in " Measure for 
Measure " (iv. 3, " Master Forthright the tilter, and brave 
Master Shoe-tie, the great traveller." 
.-1 Sol«mn Suicider. In Shakespeare's day this was a phrase 
for a feast or banquet given on auy important occasion, such 
as a birth, marriage, etc. Macbeth says (iii. ): 
35 



546 FOLK-LORE OF SHAKESPEARE. 
"To-night wc hold a solemn supper, sir, 
And l'll request your presence." 
Howel, in alettcr to Sir T. IIaxvke, 636, says: "I was 
invited yesternight to a sd«mw stq/«r by B. J. [Ben Jonson], 
where 3"ou werc deeply remembcred." 
So, in " Romeo and Juliet " (.i. 5), Tybalt says : 
"What ! dares the slave 
Corne hither, cover'd with an antic face, 
To fleer and scorn at out solemnity ?" 
And in " All's Wcll that Ends Well" (ii. 3"L the King, on 
the conclusion of the contract between l lelena and Ber- 
train, says : 
"The solemn f«ast 
Shall more attend upon the coming space, 
Expecting absent friends." 
çtrl't¢c Cales. These were woollen caps enforced by Stat- 
ure 3 Elizabeth, xvhich, says Strype, in his ".\nnals" (vol. ii. 
P- 74), was " for continuance of maldng and wearing woollen 
caps in behalf of the trade of cappers; providing that all 
above the age oÏ six years (excepting the nobility and some 
others) should on Sabbath-days and holy-days wear caps of 
wool, knit thicked, and drest in England, upon penalty of ten 
groats." Thus, in " Love's Labour's Lost" (v. 2), Rosaline 
says : 
" Well, better xvits have worn plain stature-caps." 
Jonson considered that the stature caps alluded to were 
those worn by the mcmbers of the universities. 
Thc«trica! Lofe. t the conclusion of a play, or of thc 
cpilogue, it was formerly customary for the actors to kneel 
down on thc stage, and pray for the sovereign, nobility, 
clcrgy, and sometimes for the commons. o, in the epilogue 
to "2 IIenry IV.," the dancer says: " My tongue is weary; 
whcn my legs are too, I will bid you good night; and so 
kneel down belote 3"ou :--but, indeed, to pray for the queen." 
Collier, in his " History of English Dramatic Poetry " (vol. 
iii. p. 445), tells us that this practice continucd in the com- 
mencement of the Iîth century. 



MISCELLANEOUS CUSTOMS. 547 
7"o¢trizamcitts. In " Coriolanus" (ii. I) Shakespeare attrib- 
utes sonle of the customs of his own times to a people 
were whoIly unacquainted with them. In the following pas- 
sage we have an exact description of what occurred at tilt- 
ings and tournaments when a combatant had distinguished 
himself: 
" Matrons flung gloves, 
Ladies and maids their scarfs and handkerchers, 
Upon him as he pass'd : the nobles bended, 
As to Jove's statue ; and the commons ruade 
A shower and thunder with their caps and shouts : 
never saw the like." ' 
An allusion to the mock tournamcnts, in which the com- 
batants were arlncd with rushcs in place of spears, is used 
in " Othello" (v. 2) : 
"Man but a rush against Othello's breast." 
Trump«l. In olden times il was the fashion for persons 
of distinction, when visiting, to be accompanied bv a trum- 
peler, who announced their approach by a flourish of his 
trumpet. Il is to this custom, Staunton = thinks, that Lo- 
renzo refers in the " Merchant of Venice" (v. ), whcre ho 
tells Portia : 
'" Your husband is al hand ; I hear his trumpet.'" 
\\'AR-CRY. " God a,zd Saizt Gcar.w !"--the common cry 
of the English soldier when he charged the enemy. " Rich- 
ard III." (v. 3)- The autior of the " Old Al-te of \Varre," 
printed in the latter end of Queen Elizabeth's reign, formally 
enjoins the use of this cry among his military laws (p. 84): 
"Item. That ail souldiers entring into battaile, assaulte, 
skirmishe, or other faction of armes, shall have for their 
common cry-word,' Saint George, forvard, or upon them, 
Saint George!' whereby the souldier is much comforted to 
minde the ancient valour of England, which with that naine 
has been so often victorious ;'and therefore he who upon 

 See Singer's "Shakespeare," vol. vii. p. 350. 
= ' Shakespeare," 1864, vol. i. p. 61. 



54{3 FOLK-LORE OF SIIAKESPEARE. 
any sinister zeale sha|l maliciously omit so fortunate a naine, 
shall be severely punished for his obstinate, erroneous heart 
and perverse mind." 
"]g«,oc .t" To cry" havoc" appears to have been a signal 
for indiscriminate slaughter. The expression occurs in 
" King John " (il. I) : " Cry havoc, kings !" In " Coriolanus" 
Mcnenius says (iii. I): 
" Do hOt crv havoc, where you should but hunt 
With modest warrant.'" 
Jknd in " Julius Coesar" (iii. I): 
"Cry ' Havoc !' and let slip the dogs of war." 
'" Içill, kill, l'ill, l«ill, l'iii hit .t'" This was the ancient cry 
of thc English troops whcn thcy chargcd the cnemy. It 
occurs where the conspirators kill Coriolanus (v. 6). 
L«cl-AA'. This was the dinncr provided for the jury and 
custolna W tenants at the court-leet of a manor, or" view of 
fiank-pledge," formerly held once or twice a year, before the 
steward of the leet.' To this court Shakespeare alludes 
the " Taming of the Shrcw " (i. e), where the servant tells 
Sly that in his dream he would " ,ail upon the hostess of the 
house," and thrcatcn to " present her at the leet." 
Aubrcy, hl his MS. History of Wiltshire, I678 , tells us, too, 
how " in the Easter holidays was the Clerk's ale for his pri- 
vate benefit, and the solace of the neighbourhood." 

, See page 312. 



INDEX. 

Aconite, its deadly poison, 2Ol. 
. ht,,nis barri, 469. 
Agate, applied to a diminutive person, 
 2, 390- 
Ague, spider a cure for, 
Air, drizzling dew, 90. 
Ail hid, ail hid, childreu's gaine, 395. 
Ail-Saints' ])ay, 326. 
All-Souls' Day, 3:7. 
A hnanacs, 5o5 . 
Ahns-drink, 527 . 
Alphabet, called Christ-cross-row, 5oS. 
A maimo, naine of evil spirit, 60. 
Amulets, 505 . 
Anemone, legend relating to, -"o 3. 
Ant, -"5 o. 
Antic, a dance, 424 . 
Ape, terre of coutcmpt or endcarment, 
16! ; leading of, ia hell, 16t. 
Apostle-spoons, 336, 337- 
A pple, -',o 3, 204. 
Apple-John, naine of apple, 204. 
A pple-squire, 204, note. 
Apricock or apricot, 208. 
Archery, 394- 
Ariel, fairy so called, 83, 16". 
Aroint thee, meaning of, 41. 
Aspen, supplied wood of Cross, 28 ; 
trembling of, «o 9. 
Ass, I61. 
Astrology, 8o-8z. 
Audry's I.St.) Day, 3:4 ; lace, 3-'5- 
Baby-in-the-eye, 483. 
Bachelor's btttons, 2o 9. 
lackgammon, 396. 
Iadge of Poverty, 5"!. 
Baftte, old punishment, 434- 
Bagatelle, 422. 
Hakie bird, uame of bat, I63. 
Balm, curative properties of, 21o; as 
oil of consecration, 211. 
P, andv, terre at tennis, 420. 
]arbîson, evil spirit, 6o. 
Barbers' forfeits, 533- 
Barefoot, dancing, 354- 
Barla-breikis, 396. 

P, arley-break, 396- 
lIarley broth, -.11. 
Barnacle goose, 97- 
lartholomew's (St.} Day, 3"_1. 
lartholomew Fair, 3"_1 ; pigs, 3"1. 
lase, old gaine, 397- 
lasilisk, 174. 
Basins, burnig, held belote the eyes, 
433- 
lIat, superstitions relating to, 162. 
Bat-fowling, 398- 
llate, terre lu falconry', 25, note. 
l»ay-tree, ominous, "_11. 
Bear, folk-lore of, 63 ; caught by rnir- 
rors, 164 ; baiting, 164. 
Beard, characteristic of a witch, "_9; 
custons associated with, 486 ; muti- 
lalion of, considered an outrage, 486 ; 
stroking of, preparatory to a fayot, 
486 ; sweariug by, 487 ; shape of, 4S 7. 
lqeauty, characteristic of fairies, lO. 
ledfellow, custom of having, 521. 
13eef, supposed to impair imellect, 496- 
13eetle. old naine for, 
Belemite, 9. 
Bell, tolling of, at funerals, 38I ; curfev, 
85, 5"_1. 
P, elly-blind, old gaine, 409. 
13ergomask, dance, 4-'4- 
Betrothing customs, 342-350. 
Bid the base, 398- 
]3ilboes, l»unishment, 435- 
Billiards, 599- 
13ird-batting, 398, note. 
13irding, terre er hawking, 18. 
]lirth and baptism, 33-"-34 t. 
Biting of thumb, as an insult, 492. 
Eitter-sweetiug, apple so called, -"o 5. 
131ackbird, lOO. 
131ack Monday, 5o, 3o3 • 
/31eediug, ctlsto- of, iu spring, "66; 
cures for, 64, 65- 
Blessed thistle, 222. 
Blindness, 66. 
Blindworm, e55. 
Blister, superstition relating to, e66. 
]31ood, thickened by emotional iuflu- 



55o 

INDEX. 

ences, 477 ; phrases connected ,vith, 
476, 477- 
IIlood-drinking sighs, 289. 
lIlood-sucker, nanle for leech, 28[. 
]llue-bottle, insect so called, 2.50. 
lIoar-huntilg, 166. 
Bodv, trembling of, 475- 
lloil{lg-to death, old lmlaishlnent, 433- 
llone-ace, old gaine, 399- 
]:one-ache, "67. 
Iloots, togive the, harvest custom, 322. 
Bots, 25I. 
]Irain, notions relating to, 478. 
llrain-pan, naine for skull, 479- 
Brand, old l»unishlnelat, 436. 
I h-awl, old dance, 4%- 
F, reech, terre for whipplng, 436. 
Breese, e52. 
lMdal-bed, blessing of, 355 ; decorating 
with flowers, 355- 
Bridal couple serenadcd, 357. 
]Mde-aie, 3 [2. 
lIride's veil, 353 ; hair loose at wedding 
cerenaolly, 352. 
l;,ine, soaking in, old imnishment, 434- 
Bruise, remedies for, 268. 
Bubulde, naine for pimple, 268. 
]hdl-baiting, [68. 
l:ullfinch, o[, note. 
l;ully-rook, terre of reproach, [ 5à. 
Burn, remedy for, "68. 
lIuzzard, [oo. 
By-drinkings, 527 . 
Cakes and aie at festivals, 33"-- 
Camomile, _ [2. 
Canary, old dance, 425. 
Candles of the night, stars so called, 83. 
Carbuncle, supernatural qualities of, 
39 ° . 
Cards, playing, 4o[. 
Carnations, 220. 
Carp, ITIoSt cunning of fishes, 497- 
Çarraways, "07. 
Castor and Pollnx, meteors so called, 
83. 
Ca[, familiar of witches. [68-17[ ; said 
to have laine lires, i72 ; used as a 
terre of contempt, [ 73- 
Cataract, 268, e69. 
Ca[[le, destroyed by witches, 39- 
Ceremonies, omens from sacrifices, 506. 
Chaffinch, 
Challenge, glove sent as a, 537- 
Chameleon, said to feed on air, [73; 
changes color, 174. 
Changelings, I [, e4, 333, 334- 
Charity, St., 320. 
Charles's wain, 80. 
Charms, 506. 

Check, terre in hawk[ng, 123. 
Cherry-pit, old gaine, 4ol. 
Cherry-tree, in conlmctton with ctmkoo- 
rhyme, I I I. 
Chess, 40-'. 
Chestcr mysteries, 3 [ [. 
Çhewet, meaning of terre, iol. 
: ChilblaillS, t"69. 
Children of the rcvels, e97- 
Christ-cross-row, naine for alphabet, 
508. 
Christening day, 3à8. 
Christenings, entertainments at, 338. 
Christmas, custolns at, 329 ; carol, 329 ; 
eve, cock-crow on, m 3 ; gambol, 329 ; 
wassail-boM at, 33o; candle, 33 o ; 
nmmmers, 331 ; nutmeg, gift at, e33. 
Christom child, 340- 
Chrysolite, s«pernatural virtues of, 39[. 
Cicely, St., 32I, note. 
Cinders of the elements, stars so called, 
03. 
Cinque-pace, old dance, 4e5. 
Clacking at Easter, 302. 
Clare's .";t.) tire, meteor so called, 83. 
Closing eye of the dead, 372. 
Clouds, weather-lore o£ 96. 
Cloud«n-the-lace, terre appl*ed fo a 
horse, I9[. 
Clovcr-flowers, 2 I2. 
Cobwebs, used for stanching blood, 265. 
Cock, crows on Christmas Eve, [03; 
spirits disappear at cock-crow, 48. 
Cock-a-hoop, applied to a reckless per- 
son, [07 . 
Cockatrice, superstitions relating to, 
[74, xï5 ; applied to a loose woman, 
I75. 
Cock-boat, [oS, note. 
Cock-chafer, old naine for, IOO. 
Cock-fighting, [05. 
Cockle, badge of pilgrinls, 498- 
Cock-light, x6o. 
Cock's-bodv, lO6. 
Cock-shut {ime, naine for twilight, [59- 
Cock's-passion, lO6. 
Coddling, apple so callcd, 206. 
Cold palsies, 284. 
Colt, its metaphorical use, [ 75 ; pixey, 6. 
Columbine, a thankless flmver, 212. 
Comets, considered ominous, 89. 
Cony-catch, terre for cheating, x96. 
Cooling-card, 4[5- 
Coranto, old dance, 426. 
Cormoran[, IO8. 
Corpse, unlucky to kecp on board, 37 o. 
Cotswold gaines, 316. 
Couch-grass, 243- 
"Coventry Mysterie.%" 3 3- 
Crab, name of apple, 205. 



INDEX. 

Crants, naine for garlands, 374- 
Cricket, a good omen ; 251 ; unluckv. 
516. 
Crislfin's (St.) Dav, 325. 
Crocodile, tears of, 176; said to be de- 
ceitfid, 176. 
Cross, wood of, 208. 
Cross-bow, shooting with, 178. 
Cross-road, ghosts ofsuicides haunt, 382. 
Crow, bird of ill-omen, lO8. 
Crow-flowers, 212. 
Crowfoot, 213. 
Crow-keeper, o9. 
Crown, burning, placed on crimlnals, 
436, 437- 
Cry, applied to pack of hounds, 179. 
Cry Budget, a watchword, 529. 
Crystal, old terre for the eye, 483. 
Cuckold, 113. 
Cuckoo, superstitions connected with, 
I lO--II 3 . 
Cuckoo-buds, 213. 
Cuckoo-flowers, 213. 
Cuerpo-Santo, meteor so called, $4. 
Curfew-bell, 85. 
Curtal dog, I 3. 
Cut, naine for a horse. 192. 
Cuttle, a foul-mouthed person so called, 
498. 
Cypress, 213, 214. 
Daffodil, weather-lore of, 214. 
1 lances, 424-432. 
I ancing, ascribed to fairies, 18. 
Dark-house, terre for a mad-house, 5 o, 
278. 
Darnel, 2I 5. 
Date, -I 5. 
])avid's (St.) Dav, 226, 3o3 . 
Dead, burying of in their ordinary dress, 
375, 376; feasts of the, 378; tombs 
of, ornamented, 377: cannot die on 
pigeons' feathers, 367 ; closiqg eyes 
o(, 372 ; decorated with flowers, 373. 
1-)ead men's fingers, orchis so called, 
227 . 
1Death and burial customs, 36OE-385. 
Death, prophecy at poiqt of, 36 ; hlgh 
spirits presage impending, 363 ; warn- 
iqgs at time of, 364, 365 ; watch, 516 ; 
delayed until ebb of ride, 37 ° ; devil 
seizes soul at, 365 . 
Death's-head rings, 388. 
Deer, hunting customs relating to, x77- 
1SI ; shooting with cross-bow, 178; 
tears of, xSo. 
Deformed children, 78. 
Deformity, superstitions connected xdth, 
269, 27o. 
Deinoniacal possession, 475. 

Demonolo-, 52-61. 
Dennis, St., patron saiqt of France, 
Devil, doyen foot of, 57- 
l)evil's Dyke, mvth of, IS 9. 
Dew, its supposéd virtues, 9 ° ; curious 
noti.ns respecting, 63. 
Dite, 402. 
Disedge, terre in falccnrv, i27. 
Divine right of kings, 5. 
Dog, its howl ominous, I8i, 56; rides 
with ghosts, 49 ; days, 83, 39 ; kill- 
er, 183. 
Domestic fowl,  3. 
I)ove, customs associated with,  3-I t 5 : 
Mahomet's,  5 ; of Venus,  5- 
Dragon, type of evil, 184 ; draws char- 
iot of night, $4 ; folk-lore of, tS 5. 
I)reams, prognostics of good and evil, 
5oS; malicious spirits torment their 
victims in, 509. 
Dribble, terre in archery, 41 t. 
l)rowning, dangerous to save a person 
rioto, 271. 
Duck, to swim like a, 
1 )uck-hunting, t t 5. 
1)uels, 5o0. 
11mt is i the mire, Chrlstmas gaine, 403. 
Dwarf elder, superstition connected 
with, 2 6. 

Eagle, gazes on the sun, 116 ; its great 
age, 117; bird of good omen, 11S; 
selected for Roman standard, I 1S. 
Ear, tingling of, 4So; biting of, expres- 
sion ofendearment, 481 ; want oç for 
music, 481. 
Earnest-money. 528. 
Earthqu,tkes, cause of, 93 ; omlnous, 
93, 516. 
Easter morning, dancing of sun on, 63 ; 
clacking at, 302 ; new clothes worn 
on, 302 ; Mondav, 302, 303 . 
Ebb of tide, death delavdd u,til, 3ïo.