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Per. O make for Tharsus.
There will I visit Cleon, for the babe
Ephesus. A Room in Cerimon's House.
Enter CERIMON,9 a Servant, and some Persons who have been shipwrecked.
Cer. Philemon, ho!
Phil. Doth my lord call?
Cer. Get fire and meat for these poor men; It has been a turbulent and stormy night.
Serv. I have been in many; but such a night as this, Till now, I ne'er endur'd.
Cer. Your master will be dead ere you return;
That can recover him. Give this to the 'pothecary,1
Our lodgings, standing bleak upon the sea,
9 Cerimon,] In Twine's translation he is called a Physician. Our author has made a Lord of him. Steevens.
1 Give this to the 'pothecary,] The recipe that Cerimon sends to the apothecary, we must suppose, is intended either for the poor men already mentioned, or for some of his other patients. The preceding words show that it cannot be designed for the master of the servant introduced here. Malone.
Perhaps this circumstance was introduced for no other reason than to mark more strongly the extensive benevolence of Cerimon. For the poor men who have just left the stage, kitchen physick only was designed. Steevens.
2 Shook, as the earth did quake;] So, in Macbeth:
The very principals did seem to rend,
2 Gent. That is the cause we trouble you so early; 'Tis not our husbandry.4
O, you say well.
1 Gent. But I much marvel that your lordship, having Rich tire about you, should at these early hours
"Clamour'd the live-long night: some say, the earth
Again, in Coriolanus:
as if the world
"Was feverous, and did tremble." Malone.
3 The very principals did seem to rend,
And all to topple] The principals are the strongest rafters in the roof of a building. The second quarto, which is followed by the modern copies, reads corruptly—principles. If the speaker had been apprehensive of a general dissolution of nature, (which we must understand, if we read principles) he did not need to leave his house: he would have been in as much danger without as within.
All to is an augmentative often used by our ancient writers. It occurs frequently in the Confessio Amantis. The word topple, which means tumble, is again used by Shakspeare in Macbeth, and applied to buildings :
"Though castles topple on their warders' heads." Again, in King Henry IV, Part I:
"Shakes the old beldame earth, and topples down
Mr. Malone has properly explained the word-principals. So, in Philemon Holland's translation of the 33d Book of Pliny's Nat. Hist. edit. 1601, p. 367-" yea, the jambes, posts, principals, and standerds, all of the same metall." Steevens.
I believe this only means, and every thing to tumble down. M. Mason. 4 'Tis not our husbandry.] Husbandry here signifies economical prudence. So, in King Henry V :
"For our bad neighbours make us early stirrers,
See also Hamlet, Act I, sc. iii. Malone.
5 Rich tire about you, &c.] Thus the quarto, 1609; but the sense of the passage is not sufficiently clear. The gentlemen rose early, because they were but in lodgings which stood exposed near the sea. They wonder, however, to find Lord Cerimon stirring, because he had rich tire about him; meaning perhaps a bed more richly and comfortably furnished, where he
Shake off the golden slumber of repose.
Nature should be so conversant with pain,
I held it ever.
Virtue and cunning? were endowments greater
(Together with my practice) made familiar
That nature works, and of her cures; which gives me
could have slept warm and secure in defiance of the tempest. The reasoning of these gentlemen should rather have led them to say-such towers about you; i. e. a house or castle that could safely resist the assaults of weather. They left their mansion because they were no longer secure if they remained in it, and naturally wonder why he should have quitted his, who had no such apparent reason for deserting it and rising early. Steevens. 6 Shake off the golden slumber of repose.] So, in Macbeth : "shake off this downy sleep." Steevens.
7 Virtue and cunning-] Cunning means here knowledge.
Malone. So, in Jeremiah, ix, 17: "Send for cunning women that they may come." Again, in Romeo and Juliet:
"Sirrah, go hire me twenty cunning cooks."
the blest infusions
That dwells in vegetives, in metals, stones;] So, in Romeo and Juliet:
"O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
"In plants, herbs, stones, and their true qualities."
9 Or tie my treasure up in silken bags,] The old copy reads: Or tie my pleasure up &c.
Let the cr can ex this reading of the quarto, displace my emendation. Steevens.
To please the fool and death.1
1 To please the fool and death.] The Fool and Death were principal personages in the old moralities. They are mentioned by our author in Measure for Measure:
merely thou art death's fool," &c. Malone.
Mr. Malone (as I had been) is on this occasion misled by a positive and hitherto uncontradicted assertion of Dr. Warburton. But I now think myself authorised to declare, on the strength of long and repeated enquiries, urged by numerous friends as well as myself, that no Morality in which Death and the Fool were agents, ever existed among the early French, English, or Italian stage-representations.
I have seen, indeed, (though present means of reference to it are beyond my reach) an old Flemish print, in which Death is exhibited in the act of plundering a miser of his bags, and the Fool (discriminated by his bauble, &c.) is standing behind, and grinning at the process.
The following intelligence on the same subject, though it applies more immediately to the allusion in Measure for Measure, and has occurred too late to stand in its proper place, may here, without any glaring impropriety, be introduced:
Merely, thou art death's fool;
"For him thou labour'st by thy flight to shun,
It was a comment on these lines that Dr. Warburton's gratis dictum concerning the Fool and Death, made its first appearance. The subsequent notitie are derived from two different gentlemen, whose reports reflect a light on each other.
Mr. Douce, to whom our readers are indebted for several happy illustrations of Shakspeare, assures me, that some years ago, at a fair in a large market town, he observed a solitary figure sitting in a booth, and apparently exhausted with fatigue. This personage was habited in a close black vest, painted over with bones, in imitation of a skeleton. But my informant being then very young, and wholly uninitiated in theatrical antiquities, made no enquiry concerning so whimsical a phenomenon. Indeed, but for what follows, I might have been induced to suppose that the object he saw, was nothing more or less than the hero of a well known pantomime, entitled Harlequin Skeleton.
This circumstance, however, having accidentally reached the ears of a venerable clergyman who is now more than eighty years of age, he told me that he very well remembered to have met with such another figure, above fifty years ago, at Salisbury. Being there during the time of some publick meeting, he happened to call on a surgeon at the very instant when the representative of Death was brought in to be let blood on account of a tumble he had had on the stage, while in pursuit of his antago nist, a Merry Andrew, who very anxiously attended him (dressed also in character) to the phlebotomist's house. The same gentleman's curiosity a few days afterwards, prevailed on him to be
2 Gent. Your honour has through Ephesus pour'd forth Your charity, and hundreds call themselves
Your creatures, who by you have been restor❜d:
Enter Two Servants with a Chest.
Serv. So; lift there.
What is that?
Sir, even now
spectator of the dance in which our emblem of mortality was a performer. This dance, he says, entirely consisted of Death's contrivances to surprize the Merry Andrew, and of the Merry Andrew's efforts to elude the stratagems of Death, by whom at last he was overpowered; his finale being attended with such circumstances as mark the exit of the Dragon of Wantley.
What Dr. Warburton therefore has asserted of the drama, is only known to be true of the dance; and the subject under consideration was certainly more adapted to the latter than the former, agility and grimace, rather than dialogue, being necessary to its exhibition. They who seek after the last lingering remains of ancient modes of amusement, will rather trace them with success in the country, than in the neighbourhood of London, from whence even Punch, the legitimate and undoubted successor of the old Vice, is almost banished.
It should seem, that the general idea of this serio-comick pasde-deux had been borrowed from the ancient dance of Machabre, commonly called The Dance of Death, a grotesque ornament of cloisters, both here and in foreign parts. The aforesaid combination of figures, though erroneously ascribed to Hans Holbein, was certainly of an origin more remote than the times in which that eminent painter is known to have flourished. Steevens.
Although the subject before us was certainly borrowed from the ancient Dance of Macaber, which I conceive to have been acted in churches, (but in a perfectly serious and moral way) it receives a completer illustration from an old initial letter belonging to a set of them in my possession, on which is a dance of Death, infinitely more beautiful in point of design than even the celebrated one cut in wood and likewise ascribed to the graver of Holbein. In this letter, the Fool is engaged in a very stout combat with his adversary, and is actually buffeting him with a bladder filled with peas or small pebbles, an instrument yet in fashion among Merry Andrews. It is almost unnecessary to add that these initials are of foreign workmanship; and the inference is, that such farces were common upon the continent, and are here alluded to by the artist. I should not omit to mention, that the letter in question has been rudely copied in an edition of Stowe's Survey of London. Douce.