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P. 7. A wretched hob-nailed chuff.] A term of reproach, the derivation of which is not known. Shakspeare uses it in First Henry IV. A. ii. S. 2. "Are ye undone? No, ye fat chuffs, I wish store were here."
P. 7. Follows the fashion afar off] Dryden alludes to this in the Dedication to The Assignation, and so does Pope :
"Unlucky as Fungoso in the Play
These sparks with awkward vanity display
P. 7. Skeldring and odling.] Skeldring was rather direct swindling. In the Gull's Hornbook Dekker, speaking of the Threepenny Ordinary, says, "He shall now and then light upon some Gull or other, whom he may skelder." But see note to the opening scene of the Poetaster.
P. 7. His bank Paul's.] The folio has Poules, which may be said to have been the universal way of spelling and pronouncing it at that time.
P. 8. Takes up single testons upon oaths,] see vol. i. p. 102. Testons were sixpences. Bishop Latimer says, "Thy silver is turned into what? Into testyons," and the force of the brave old bishop's words is understood, when we find from Camden that the metal had become so debased that, when Elizabeth in 1560 took the reform of the coinage in hand, the teston was worth no more than two-pence farthing. "She purchased the same with good money to her own loss, provided it were brought to the Mint within such a time." The expression 'take up' is explained, post, P. 34, Note 1.
P. 8. Case of coxcombs,] i. e. pair of coxcombs. Jonson applies the word to vizards, to petrionels, to matrons, and even to chamber utensils. See post, p. 496.
P. 8. Orange is the most humorous of the two.] The folio has 66 more humorous."
P. 13. More wretches than the counters.] There were two of these prisons in the City: the Poultry Counter and the Woodstreet Counter, and another in Southwark. The perpetual references to them testify only too eloquently how intimately our old dramatists were acquainted with their interiors, either as inmates or friends of inmates.
P. 14. Asp (turning to the stage).] The folio, instead of this, has, "Here hee makes adresse to the People." It is a pity that
this should be lost, but at the same time I must take this early opportunity of bearing testimony to the admirable manner in which Gifford has edited the "stage directions" throughout these volumes.
P. 17. A rook.] A rook was a cheat, a sharper. The word is still used as a verb, but I think it has vanished as a noun.
P. 17. The cable hatband.] A twisted cord of gold, silver, or silk, worn round the hat. Marston in ridiculing a sea-fight, avails himself of the name: "O for an armour canon proofe: O more cable, more fetherbeds; more fetherbeds, more cable, till hee had as much as my cable hatband to fence him. Antonio and Mellida, A. ii. See also post, p. 145.
P. 17. O, it is more than most ridiculous.] See note, post, p. 161. Jonson was never tired of laughing at this Arcadian phrase. "More than most fair" occurs repeatedly, and we have a glove that is more than most sweet," and a character " more than most accurst."
P. 17. Worthy their serious and intentive eyes.] Intentive was something more than attentive. Jonson uses both intend and intention in the same way; and Shakspeare has
"Whereof by parcels she had something heard
Othello, A. i. S. 3.
P. 19. Jejunus rarò stomachus vulgaria temnit.] It ought to be noted that in the folio this Latin line is embodied in the text, and I think was most likely spoken on the stage.
P. 19. Taking men's lines, with a tobacco face,
In snuff] See note to the Silent Woman (A. iv. S. 2), vol. iii. p. 438. The way in which the phrase is introduced here supports Southey's view against Gifford's. See also post, p. 393. It is worth while noting that Jonson almost invariably writes tabacco instead of tobacco.
P. 21. This will procure him much envy,] i. e. ill-will, hatred. See note to Catiline (A. iv. S. 5), vol. iv. p. 300.
P. 24. The two-penny room.] See the Induction to Bartholomew Fair, vol. iv. p. 347, "according to which," says Collier, "the lowest sum taken at the door of The Hope, when that comedy was first played, was sixpence, but at the Fortune and Red Bull, which were large public theatres, there were two-penny rooms or Galleries."
P. 25. A well timber'd fellow.] This must have been introduced to suit the personal appearance of the actor who took the part of Prologue.
P. 26. His belly is well ballaced,] i.e. ballasted. The word is used by Marlowe, in The Queen of Carthage, in those exquisite lines in which Dido describes the equipment of Æneas' fleet.
P. 27. Turns to a corsive, and doth eat it farther.] Corsive was a contraction of corrosive, and is of constant occurrence. Other forms of it are corsey and corzie. The folio has farder for farther, and so Jonson generally spelt it.
P. 27. Pill'd Cynick,] i. e. a cynic stripped of all human feeling. Polled had often the same meaning as pilled, and Polar is used by Tyndale (ed. 1831, i. 31) for a plunderer, just as Piller is by others. The last word is preserved in Cater-piller, i. e., a Piller of cates, a plunderer of food
"Round was his face, and camuse was his nose,
P. 29. Compliments of a gentleman.] This word should be spelt complement as in the folio. At p. 56, post, it is given correctly; but at p. 58 wrongly again. In the Discoveries, No. 142, vol. ix. p. 209, Jonson speaks of "complement" as one of "the perfumed terms of the age," which a good writer must not "cast a ring for."
P. 30. Is this not purely good.] "Purely" was used in Jonson's time like "vastly" in the last century, and the still more stupid "awfully" in our own. Lord Chesterfield happily ridicules the use of "vastly" in the Essay which brought down Samuel Johnson's famous "blast of doom."
P. 30. Primero and passage.] Both these games are mentioned in the curious tract reprinted by the Percy Society, called "A manifest detection of the most vyle and detestable use of Dice Play," 1224.
P. 31. Sit on the stage and flout.] See note to the Induction of Cynthia's Revels, post, p. 210. Dekker's chapter on "How a gallant should behave himself in a play-house," is the very best exponent of Jonson's text. He is strongly recommended not to present himself upon the stage, especially at a new play, "until the quaking Prologue is ready to give the quaking trumpets their cue that he is upon the point to enter. Then it is time to creep from behind the arras, with your tripos or three-footed stool in one hand, and a teston (sixpence) mounted between a forefinger and a thumb in the other." Besides showing off "the most essential parts of a gallant, good clothes and a proportionable leg," you have "by sitting on the stage a signed patent to engross the whole commodity of censure," i. e. business of criticism.
P. 32. Friend and kinsman.] The folio has rightly, "friend or kinsman."
P. 36. A whoreson puck-fist.] Ford in his Love's Sacrifice (Dyce ed. ii. 30) has "Petrarch was a dunce, Dante a jig-maker, Sanazzar a goose, and Ariosto a puckfist to me." To this Gifford appended a note which ought to be given here: "Puckfist, i. e. an empty boaster. The word is common in our old writers for anything vile or worthless. The fungus so-called is better known to our villagers by the name of puff-ball." In the folio this line is printed thus: "This clod? A whoreson puck-fist? O god, god, god, god," &c. See post, p. 263.
P. 36. These mushroom gentlemen.] The folio has mushrompe, and I am inclined to think that this is one of the old words that ought to have been preserved. Marlowe uses it in his Edward II. A. i. S. 4— "But cannot brook a night-grown mushrump,"
where, as here, the word requires to be pronounced as a trisyllable, as it still is by the London hawkers. That this was the ancient pronunciation is proved by the Promptorium Parvulorum (circa 1440) where it is spelt muscheron, and the Manipulus Vocabulorum (1570) musheron.
P. 37. He answers him like an echo.] In the folio this is 'Sheart, he answers him," &c., and at the foot of the page, "Oh, 'tis Macilente," in the folio is "S'bloud 'tis Macilente." Gifford's note, post, p. 39, would lead one to suppose that although, very properly, he had not "nauseated the reader by bringing back what the author, upon better consideration, flung out of his text," yet that he had retained what had been approved by this "better consideration."
P. 38. I envy not this Buffone.] Jonson here spells the word Buffon, and, as the rhythm indicates, intentionally. See note, vol. i. p. 54; also post, p. 45, where this particular line is twice repeated, and the original spelling necessarily preserved.
P. 39. What, is't a prognostication raps him so.] sent tense of the verb so much better known in its
Raps is the prepast form of rapt.
P. 40. Why, it should rain forty days after.] This superstition is of very old date, and when the New Style made a difference of eleven days in the calendar, the saint still held on to the 15th. By observations made at Greenwich in 1841, and the nineteen succeeding years, it appeared that in the average of twenty years, the greatest number of rainy days had occurred when the 15th was dry!
P. 40. 21, some rain.] Here the folio has "the one-and-twentieth, some rain," which gives an agreeable variety to the enumeration.
P. 42. Within the hoary ricks.] It is worth while noting that here, and elsewhere in this play, where Gifford prints rick and ricks, the folio has reeke and reekes.
P. 43. Ay, their exclaims.] Shakspeare has the same:
P. 44. My house and I can feed on peas and barley.] Jonson wrote pease, which is worth noting, as the true form of the word is disputed. At vol. vi. p. 102, he has, "I'll cleanse him with a pill as small as a pease;" and at vol. viii. p. 238, "Every clerk eats artichokes and peason."
P. 47. These be our nimble-spirited catsos.] Horne Tooke regards this word as the same as Gadso, under which head in the Diversions of Purley, he says, "Cazzo, a common Italian oath (or rather obscenity in lieu of an oath), first introduced about the time of James I., and made familiar in our language afterwards by our affected travelled gentlemen in the time of Charles II. See all our Comedies about that period. Ben Jonson ridiculed the affectation of this oath at its commencement, but could not stop its progress."
P. 51. His humour arrides me exceedingly.] Jonson uses this word twice again in Cynthia's Revels, post, pp. 270, 291; and Charles Lamb introduces it occasionally with a very pleasant affectation. Taylor, the water poet, also works it into a characteristic couplet :
"Thy amphitritean muse grows more arrident,
And Phoebus' tripos stoopes to Neptunes trident."
P. 52. Hang'd in pomander chains.] One of Thomas Becon's early works is entitled The Pomaunder of Prayer, and its motto is, "Eccl. xxiv. Pleasantly do I smell, even as it were cynamome and swete balme." In spite of this spelling of Becon's, there are numerous passages of verse to prove that the accent was on the first syllable. Old Gervase Markham, who seems to have supposed that prices were unalterable, gives the following recipe: “To make Pomanders :-Take two pennyworth of labdanum, two pennyworth of storax liquid, one pennyworth of calamus aromaticus, as much balm, half a quarter of a pound of fine wax, of cloves and mace two pennyworth, of liquid aloes three pennyworth, of nutmegs eight pennyworth, and of musk four grains. Beat all these exceedingly together, till they come to a perfect substance, then mould it in any fashion you please, and dry it."-English Housewife, ed. 1675, p. 109. Another meaning of the word was a perfume-holder. These pomanders were sometimes made of silver, and we read of one being sold in 1546, which weighed 3 oz. See vol. iv. p. 43.