« AnteriorContinuar »
of their betters. They continued to be an appurtenance to the English court to a late period. Muckle John, the fool of Charles the First, and the successor of Archee Årmstrong, is perhaps the last regular personage of the kind.
Or Archee Armstrong the following anecdote is related :Prince Charles, afterwards the first king of that name in this country, was sent to Spain, as was alledged, to improve himself at that court, though his design on the Infanta was the actual motive. The Protestants fearing that his mind might become tainted by the Catholic religion, which they so much dreaded, highly disapproved of the Prince's travels; no person, however, except the fool, would venture to make such feelings known to King James ; while Archee, who held that situation, hesitated not at doing so. Taking, therefore, a favourable opportunity, he solemnly proposed to the monarch to change caps, as a measure of absolute propriety : “But why ?” asked the king. “Marry,” said Archee, “ because thou hast sent the prince into Spain, from whence he is never likely to return ! " Say you so ?” replied the king : " and what wilt thou do when thou seest him come back again ?" "Oh marry,” said Archee, “that would be surprising; and I should have to take off the fool's cap, which I put upon thy head for sending him thither, and to place it on the King of Spain's for letting him return; so, that, either way, I shall part with it where it will fit," · Shakspeare has given us an admirable description of a Fool, in his charminy play of “ As You Like It.”
Jaq. A fool, a fool!-I met a fool i' the forest,
1'is but an hour since it was nine;
That fools should be so deep contemplative;
Duke Sen. What fool is this?
Jaq. () worthy fool!-One that hath been a courtier;
I am ambitious for a motley coat. It may be collected, both from the plays themselves, and from various other authorities, that the costume of the domestic Fool in Shakspeare's time was of two sorts. In the first of these, the coat was motley or parti-coloured, and attached to the body by a girdle, with bells at the skirts and elbows, though not always. The breeches and hose close, and sometimes each leg of a different colour. A hood, resembling a monk's cowl, which, at a very early period, it was certainly designed to imitate, covered the head entirely, and fell down over part of the breast and shoulders. It was sometimes decorated with asses' ears, or else terminated in the neck and head of a cock, a fashion as old as the fourteenth century. It often had the comb or crest only of the animal; whence the term cockscomb or coxcomb was afterwards used to denote any silly upstart. This fool usually carried in his hand an official sceptre or bauble, which was a short stick, ornamented at the end with the figure of a fool's head, or sometimes with that of a doll or puppet. To this instrument there was frequently annexed, an inflated skin or bladder, with which the fool belaboured those who offended, or with whom he was inclined to make sport; this was often used by itself, in lieu, as it should seem, of a bauble. It was not always filled with air, but occasionally with sand or peas. Sometimes a strong bat or club was substituted for the bauble. Coriat, in his Crudities, speaks of
“A Whitsuntide Foole, disguised like a Foole, wearing a long coate wherein there were many several pieces of cloth of divers colours, at the corners whereof there hanged the tails of squirrels."
The discontinuance of the court Fool had a considerable influence on the manners of private life; and, we learn from one of Shadwell's plays, that it was then “out of fashion for great men to keep Fools.” But the practice was by no means abolished, it maintained its ground, in this cruntry, so late as the beginning of the last century; and we have an epitaph, written by Dean Swift, on Dicky Pearce, the Earl of Suffolk's Fool, who was buried in Berkeley church-yard, June 18, 1728. This person was an idiot. Lord Chancellor Talbot kept a Welch jester named Rees Pengelding. He was a very shrewd fellow, and rented a farm of his master. Being distrained on for his rent by an oppressive steward, who had been a tailor, and bore him a grudge, the surly fellow said to him, on this occasion, “ I'll fit you, sirrah.” “ Then,” replied Rees, “ it will be the first time in your life that you ever fitted any one." Another Welchman, called Will the Taborer, was trained in a similar capacity, about the beginning of the last century, by Sir Edward Stradling, of St. Donat's castle, in Glamorganshire. He is said to have been a very witty fellow, and a man of strong intellects. Lord Bussy Mansel, of Margam, had likewise in his service one Robin Rush, an idiot by nature, who often said very witty things.
There are people now alive in Wales, or lately were, who well remembered him.
The sort of entertainment that fools were expected to afford may be collected, in great variety, from our old plays, particularly from those of Shakspeare ; but perhaps no bet. ter idea can be formed of their general mode of conduct than from the following passage in a singular tract by Lodge, entitled Wit's Miserie, 1599, 4to.
“ Immoderate and discordinate joy heoome incorporate in the body of a jester : this fellow, in person is comely, in apparel courtly, but in behaviour a very ape, and no man; his studie is to coine bitter jeastes, or to show antique motions, or to sing sonnets and ballads : give him a little wine in his head, he is continually flearing and making of mouthes : he langhs intemperately at every little occasion, and dances about the house, leaps over tables, over-skips men's heads, trips up his companion's heels, burns sack with a candle, and hath all the feats of a lord of misrule in the countrie: feed him in his humour, you shall have his heart; in mere kindness he will hug you in his armes, kisse you on the cheeke, and rapping out an horroble oth, crie-'God's soule, Tum, I love you, you know my poore heart, come to my chamber for a pipe of tobacco; there lives not a man in this world that I more honour.' In these ceremonies you shall know his courting, and it is a special mark. of him; at the table, he sits and makes faces; keep not this fellow company, for, in jugling with him your wardrobes shall be wasted, your credits crakt, your crownes consumed, and time (the most precious riches of the world) utterly lost.”—This is the picture of a real hireling or artificial Fool.
THE BOOK OF LOVE.-German.
(Under this title a multitude of chivalrous stories were collected in the
sixteenth century. This new Book of Love is upon the same plan, but more extended ; when finished, it will comprise all the popular chivalrous tales of Germany, and the kuown learning of the Editors, Dr. J. G. Busching, and Dr. F. H. Hagen, are guarantees for the future excellence of the work. We here propose to give a brief analysis of the first tale, Tristan and Isalda, as it is one of the most celebrated, and one of the least frequent occurrence in the German language.*]
TRISTAN AND ISALDA... Sir Tristan had arrived at manhood, and now he desired his father's permission to travel into other lands. The old King rejoiced in his son's request, and forthwith the young hero set out for Cornwal, the country of King Marks, his uncle, Here he was received with all love and honour, and entrusted to the particular care of Duke Thinas.
At this time there was a hero in Ireland, by name Morholt, the brother-in-law of the Irish King, who held him very dear, as by his means he compelled tribute from all the neighbouring kingdoms of the country. This chief took it into his head that his honour was concerned in the subjugation of Cornwal also, in consequence of which notion he sent a message to King Marks to demand tribute: “I will have,” said he," all your males above fifteen, that they may be my slaves, and all your girls of the same age, that I may make money by their dishonour. If, however, you have a knight strong enough to overcome me in single combat, then I forgive the
tribute.” • Sir Tristan no sooner heard this modest request than he
determined to try his fortune against Morholt, the more especially as all the knights of his uncle's court had absolutely refused the combat. By stratagem he gained the king's consent, and on the appointed day he stood in the lists against the appellant, who, taking pity on his youth, would fain have persuaded him from the field. To this Sir Tristan would by no means agree; the champions met ; the giant was beaten from his horse, and the knight on his part was wounded by a poisoned spear, a little contrary indeed
* The copy-right has been purchased by the proprietor of this work The tales, when complete, will form three bandsome volumes, 12mo.
to the morals of chivalry, but somehow or another, your giants were never famous for morality, from the time they stormed Jupiter's heaven to the days of Jack the Giant Killer. The combat was renewed on foot, and Morholt, after a sharp struggle, was left dead upon the field. Sir Tristan returned in honour, while his adversary was buried with no less honour. The Irish king fell upon his brother's grave, and swore most mightily to hang every 'native of Cornwal who should set foot in Ireland.
All this time Sir Tristan was in a fair way to follow his rival; the poisoned wound baffled the skill of his surgeons, till at last he determined to seek for a cure elsewhere. At his own express desire he was put alone in a boat, and submitted himself entirely to the direction of the winds, who made a very indifferent return for his confidence, by throwing him on the coast of Ireland, and that too when the king was walking on the shore. Things, however, turned out better than the knight expected; the king, deceived by his story, gave him to the charge of his daughter, the fair Isalda, whose skill soon made a cure of his wound.
Famine now fell upon the land, and Sir Tristan was called to counsel ; by his advice, he was sent by the king to England, where he purchased provisions, after which he returned to Cornwal. He had been absent precisely one year. Great was the joy of all at his return, but more particularly, of the king, his uncle, who declared that for his sake he would not marry. Many who envied Tristan, imagined that his advice had effected this resolution, and therefore endeavoured to persuade the king from it. For a long time he remained firm to his purpose, but at last, worn out by their importunities, he fixed a day on which he was to elect his wife.
The time, though put off as much as possible, at length approached. King Marks was walking in his garden, meditating upon means to outwit his courtiers with the salvation of his honour, when he observed two swallows fighting on the wing; a hair dropped from the beak of one of these combatants: it was bright and beautiful, and suggested to him a thought no less bright and beautiful, which he instantly communicated to his court. “ I have here a hair from a lady's head ; find the lady for me, and I will marry her; and to none else will I yield my freedom.” The cour.