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"'Postle spoons, one of them gilt.
"Sure that was Judas with the red beard."
-Paris-garden?] The bear-garden of the time. 42 sir Guy, nor Colbrand,] Colbrand was the Danish giant vanquished at Winchester by Guy earl of Warwick. For an account of this battle, see Drayton's Polyolbion.
43 he should be a brasier by his face ;] A brasier signifies a man that manufactures brass, and a mass of metal occasionally heated to convey warmth. Both these senses are here understood.
"the Tribulation of Tower-hill, or the limbs of Limehouse.] I suspect the Tribulation to have been a puritanical meeting-house. The limbs of Limehouse, I do not understand.
Limehouse was before the time of Shakspeare, and has continued to be ever since, the residence of those who furnish stores, as sails, &c. for shipping. A great number of foreigners having been constantly employed in these manufactures (many of which were introduced from other countries), they assembled themselves under their several pastors, and a number of places of different worship were built in consequence of their respective associations. As they clashed in principles, they had frequent quarrels, and the place has ever since been famous for the variety of its sects, and the turbulence of its inhabitants. It is not improbable that Shakspeare wrote-the lambs of Limehouse.
45 --baiting of bumbards,] A bumbard is an alebarrel; to bait bumbards is to tipple, to lie at the spigot,
46 For such a one we shew'd them.] In the character of Catharine.
Though it is very difficult to decide whether short pieces be genuine or spurious, yet I cannot restrain myself from expressing my suspicion that neither the prologue nor epilogue to this play is the work of Shakspeare; non vultus, non color. It appears to me very likely that they were supplied by the friendship or officiousness of Jonson, whose manner they will be perhaps found exactly to resemble. There is yet another supposition possible: the prologue and epilogue may have been written after Shakspeare's departure from the stage, upon some accidental revisal of the play, and there will then be reason for imagining that the writer, whoever he was, intended no great kindness to him, this play being recommended by a subtle and covert censure of his other works. There is in
Shakspeare so much of fool and fight,
In a long motley coat, guarded with yellow, appears so often in his drama, that I think it not very likely that he would have animadverted so severely on himself. All this, however, must be received as very dubious, since we know not the exact date of this or the other plays, and cannot tell how our author might have changed his practice or opinions. JOHNSON.
In support of Dr. Johnson's opinion, I cannot re
frain from quoting the following lines from old Ben's prologue to his Every Man in his Humour.
To make a child now swaddled, to proceed
The historical dramas are now concluded, of which the two parts of Henry the Fourth, and Henry the Fifth, are among the happiest of our author's compositions; and King John, Richard the Third, and Henry the Eighth, deservedly stand in the second class. Those whose curiosity would refer the historical scenes to their original, may consult Holinshed, and sometimes Hall: from Holinshed Shakspeare has often inserted whole speeches with no more alteration than was necessary to the numbers of his verse. To transcribe them into the margin was unnecessary, because the original is easily examined, and they are seldom less perspicuous in the poet than in the historian.
To play histories, or to exhibit a succession of events by action and dialogue, was a common entertainment among our rude ancestors upon great festivities. The parish clerks once performed at Clerkenwell a play which lasted three days, containing, The History of the World.