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HE DEVIL IS AN ASS.] Jonson's own title for the play is THE DIVELL IS AN ASS, and I regret it was not retained. It appears to me much more in accordance with the spirit of playful satire which pervades the piece, than the grim hard name which the modern editors have substituted. The letter misprinted by Gifford at p. cxxxviii, of the Memoirs establishes the fact that the 1631 edition of this play was printed under the author's auspices. It must be admitted, however, that the marginal directions are not given with Jonson's customary brevity and perspicacity, and that for the most part they may very well be spared. The motto is from the Ars Poetica, and was thus translated by Jonson himself:


"Let what thou feign'st for pleasure's sake be near
The truth."

In speaking of the piece to Drummond (vol. ix. p. 400), he told him that he had been "accused" about it, which is not to be wondered at, as there are many hard and clever hits at some of the projects which tended so much to lower the court in the eyes of the country. With regard to the literary conduct of the play itself, he says that "according to Comadia Vetus, in England the Divell was brought in either with one Vice or other: the Play done, the Divell carried away the Vice." Jonson's improvement upon this was to represent "the Divell so overcome with the wickedness of this age, that he thought himself an ass. Ilapepyovs is discoursed of the Duke of Drounland: the King desired him to conceal it."

P. 4. Or were Muscovy glass.] Muscovy glass is talc. So in Marston's Malcontent, 1604: "She were an excellent lady but that her face pealeth like Muscovy glass."

P. 5. If this play do not like, the Devil is in't.] Dekker's play is entitled: If it be not good, the Divel is in it. Gifford's note is calculated to make a reader search for it under the name of Belphegor, whereas it is only built upon a plot taken from Machiavelli's novel of the "Marriage of Belphegor." Dekker's Epilogue commences:

"If't be not good, the Divell is in't (they say),
The Divell was in't, this then 's no good play."

Nares points out that like in the sense of please is preserved in the old court phrase, “And like your majesty," which has been corrupted from "An it like your majesty."


P. 7. Hoh, hoh, hoh, &c.] I cannot join in Gifford's condemnation of Whalley's note. Jonson tells us himself that he had the English Vetus Comedia in his eye, and this was the mode in which, in the old Moralities, the Divell introduced himself. In Dekker's play, above referred to, the "Divell" generally comes on with Oooh, oooh!" "Ooooh." It may be that Jonson's "Hoh" was shouted in a tone of sarcastic merriment, but it was derived from the custom Whalley refers to.


P. 9. Stay in your place, know your own strength, and put not Beyond the sphere of your activity.] By changing the strengths of Jonson into strength, Gifford has sadly damaged the meaning of this passage. Strengths were strong places, strong-holds, and Satan sagaciously advises Pug to "put not beyond" ground that he's sure of. In Sejanus the word is used metaphorically:

"Make mine own strengths by giving suits and places,
Conferring dignities and offices." Vol. iii. p. 84.

Pug. Why any: Fraud,
Or Covetousness, or lady Vanity,
Or old Iniquity.

Sat. I'll call him hither.] In the folio the words "I'll call him hither," are Pug's, and it is perfectly plain, from Iniquity's opening speech, that he understood them to be so. Since writing the above, I have found that Coleridge, who was not aware of the folio reading, had arrived at the same conclusion. "That [the uttering of the words by Satan] is against all probability, and with a (for Jonson) impossible violation of character. The words plainly belong to Pug, and mark at once his simpleness and his impatience."

P. 10.

P. 12. To spend it in pies at the Dagger.] For notices of the Dagger and its pies, see vol. iv. pp. 24, 165. In Satiromastix, Dekker makes Tucca say to Horace (i. e. Jonson), " Out bench whistler, out, ile not take thy word for a Dagger pye."

P. 13. Where Vennor comes.] Gifford tells us afterwards in a note, vol. vii. p. 414, that when he wrote this he was ignorant of the true history of Vennor or Fenner. In Richard Brome's Covent Garden Weeded (circ. 1638), we have: "Sure 'tis Fenner or his ghost. He was a riming souldier." (p. 42.)

P. 13. And take his Almain-leap into a custard.] An Almain leap was a dancing leap. "Allemands," says Nares, who was born in 1753, "were danced here a few years back;" and Mr. Dyce, I find, has a MS. note in his copy: "Rabelais tells us that Gargantua' wrestled, ran, jumped, not at three steps and a leap, called the hops, nor at clokepied, called the hare's leap, nor yet at the Almane's, for, said Gymnast, these jumps are for the wars altogether unprofitable and of no use.' Rabelais, book i. c. xxiii."

P. 14.

Strong waters, Hum,

Meath and Obarni.] Gifford afterwards discovered (see his note vol. vii. p. 226) that Öbarni was a preparation of meath, not of usquebagh, and he also adds a better definition of Hum, from Heywood's Drunkard. At post, p. 258, we read of a "distance of hum," which Gifford is unable to explain. It was evidently a potent liquor.

P. 16. There is a handsome cut-purse hang'd at Tyburn.] On this Mr. Dyce has noted in his copy: "It would seem as if the highwaymen of Jonson's days, as well as those of the last century, prided themselves on riding to Tyburn in grand costume. Rogues die now in dishabille."

P. 16. Franklin, and Fiske, and Savory.] Fiske has also been fortunate enough to obtain a niche in Hudibras, part ii. c. iii. v. 403 :

"And high an ancient obelisk

Was rais'd by him, found out by Fisk."

The lines from Beaumont and Fletcher ought to be quoted:

"Oh I shall bring you wonders! There's a friar
Russe, an admirable man; another

De Bube, a gentleman; and then La Fiske,
The mirror of his time, 'twas he that set it."
The Bloody Brother; or, Rollo, Duke of
Normandy, vol. x. p. 437.

P. 17. Pentacles with characters.] Pentacle (from low Latin pentaculum) was the name given to three triangles intersecting each other, and made up of five lines. It was considered a charm against demons, and, when delineated upon the body of a man, was supposed to point out the five wounds of the Saviour. Its

origin, however, is of a much earlier date. My brother, General A. Cunningham, tells me that he has seen the pentacle on a coin of Tarsus of about 300 B. C. He has also in his own possession an Indian seal of about A. D. 200, in which the device is cut over the word "Ko-ma-dâ-ra." It has in fact been a favourite mystic symbol from a very early age, and is still cherished by the Freemasons. See Marlowe's Works, p. 348.

P. 17. An ancient gentleman, of [as] good a house

As most are now in England.] According to my ear, if a pause is made after gentleman, there is no necessity for making any change in the first line, as Jonson printed it:

"An ancient gentleman-of a good house
As most are now in England.'

Coleridge was greatly charmed with this soliloquy of Fitzdottrel's. He says: "Compare this exquisite piece of sense, satire, and sound philosophy in 1616 with sir M. Hale's speech from the bench in a trial of a witch many years afterwards."

P. 19. To keep me upright, while things be reconciled.] Of while in the sense of until, Nares says, "Even Jonson so uses it ;" but it was recognized by the greatest scholars, as witness sir John Cheke: "Joseph took her to his wife, and lay not with her while she had brought forth her first begotten son." St. Matthew, p. 29.

P. 19. 'Till I had view'd his shoes well: for those roses

Were big enough to hide a cloven foot.] Chapman in his Casar and Pompey (Works, vol. iii. p. 145) has exactly the same idea, which appears sufficiently ridiculous when applied to an ancient Roman :

"Fro. Yet you cannot change the old fashion (they say)
And hide your cloven feet.

Oph. No! I can wear roses that shall spread quite

Over them."

Mr. Dyce also noted in his copy of Jonson: "The present play was first acted in 1616.” In Webster's White Devil, which was printed in 1612, we find:

"Why 'tis the devil;

I know him by a great rose he wears on 's shoe
To hide his cloven foot."

P. 19. He is my wardrobe-man, my cater, cook.] This word cater is generally written acater, in the same way as cates and acates. In the dramatis personæ of the Sad Shepherd (vol. vi. p. 236), Much is described as Robin Hood's "bailiff, or acater."

P. 20. And save four pound a year.] This we may suppose to have been the customary wages of a domestic servant, circa 1616. I have already alluded to this in my note to "livery-three-poundthrum" in the Alchemist, vol. iv. p. 12.

P. 21. Yes, that's a hired suit he now has on.] According to Gifford's system of elision, hired should have been printed hir'd, as in the folio, for, although a dissyllable, the added sound was gained before the r, not after it. Two lines higher up, "doth study," should be "does study."

P. 22. After saying on the cloke.] To say on for to try on is of constant recurrence in Jonson. See note post, p. 163, and vol. ii. P. 128.

P. 24. My right I have departed with.] "To part and depart with anything were synonymous expressions." See Gifford's note, vol. ii. p. 151, and Cynthia's Revels, p. 208.

P. 24. Nor takings by the arms, nor tender circles

Cast 'bout the waste.] Waist and waste were alike spelt waste or wast, and modern editors must choose between them. I presume there can be no doubt which Gifford ought to have fixed upon here. Oddly enough in this same play (post, p. 111), where the word occurs again, he falls into the opposite error! The ignorance of the recent editors of D'Avenant as to this word has led them into the penning of one of the most ludicrously blundering notes I remember to have fallen in with.

P. 24. Those soft migniard handlings.] Cotgrave has in his dictionary, "Mignard—migniard, prettie, quaint, neat, feat, wanton, daintie, delicate." In the Staple of News, post, p. 221, it will be seen that Jonson tries to introduce the substantive migniardise, but happily without success.

P. 29. I must obey [aside.] There is no mark of aside in the original, nor any conceivable reason why there should be.

P. 29. As wise as a court-parliament.] Massinger's Parliament of Love was not produced for many years after this.

P. 30. I did look for this jeer.] In the original it is geere, and so it ought still to stand. Gear was a word with a most extended signification. Nares defines it, "matter, subject, or business in general!" When Jonson uses the word jeer he spells it quite differently. The Staple of News was first printed at the same time as the present play, and in the beginning of Act iv. Sc. 1 I find :

"Fit. Let's icere a little. Pen. Ieere? what's that?"

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