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Lord. Go, sirrah, take them to the buttery,
"San. [to the other.] Go, get a dishclout to make cleane your shooes, and Ile speak for the properties.* [Exit Player.
My lord, we must have a shoulder of mutton for a propertie, and a little vinegre to make our diuel rore."+
The shoulder of mutton might indeed be necessary afterwards for the dinner of Petruchio, but there is no devil in this piece, or in the original on which Shakspeare formed it; neither was it yet determined what comedy should be represented. Steevens.
Property] in the language of a playhouse, is every implement necessary to the exhibition. Johnson.
† a little vinegre to make our diuel rore.] When the acting the mysteries of the Old and New Testament was in vogue at the representation of the mystery of the Passion, Judas and the Devil made a part. And the Devil, wherever he came, was always to suffer some disgrace, to make the people laugh: as here, the buffoonery was to apply the gall and vinegar to make him roar. And the Passion being that, of all the mysteries, which was most frequently represented, vinegar became at length the standing implement to torment the Devil; and was used for this purpose even after the mysteries ceased, and the moralities came in vogue; where the Devil continued to have a considerable part. The mention of it here, was to ridicule so absurd a circumstance in these old farces. Warburton.
All that Dr. Warburton has said relative to Judas and the vinegar, wants confirmation. I have met with no such circumstances in any mysteries, whether in MS. or in print; and yet both the Chester and Coventry collections are preserved in the British Museum. See MS. Harl. 2013, and Cotton MS. Vespasian D. viii.
Perhaps, however, some entertainments of a farcical kind might have been introduced between the Acts. Between the divisions of one of the Chester Mysteries, I met with this marginal direction: Here the Boy and Pig; and perhaps the Devil in the intervals of this first comedy of The Taming of the Shrew, might be tormented for the entertainment of the audience; or, according to a custom observed in some of our ancient puppetshows, might beat his wife with a shoulder of mutton. In the preface to Marlowe's Tamburlaine, 1590, the Printer says:
"I have (purposelie) omitted and left out some fond and frivolous jestures, digressing (and in my poore opinion) farre unmeete for the matter, which I thought might seeme more tedious unto the wise, than any way els to be regarded, though (happly) they have bene of some vaine conceited fondlings greatly gaped at, what time they were showed upon the stage in their graced deformities: neverthelesse now to be mixtured in print with such matter of worth, it would prove a great disgrace," &c. The bladder of vinegar was, however, used for other purposes.
And give them friendly welcome every one:
take them to the buttery,] Mr. Pope had probably these words in his thoughts, when he wrote the following passage of his preface: the top of the profession were then mere players, not gentlemen of the stage; they were led into the buttery by the steward, not placed at the lord's table, or the lady's toilette." But he seems not to have observed, that the players here introduced are strollers; and there is no reason to suppose that our author, Heminge, Burbage, Condell, &c. who were licensed by King James, were treated in this manner. Malone.
At the period when this comedy was written, and for many years after, the profession of a player was scarcely allowed to be reputable. The imagined dignity of those who did not belong to itinerant companies, is, therefore, unworthy consideration. I can as easily believe that the blundering editors of the first folio were suffered to lean their hands on Queen Elizabeth's chair of state, as that they were admitted to the table of the Earl of Leicester, or the toilette of Lady Hunsdon. Like Stephen in
I meet with the following stage direction in the old play of Cambyses, (by T. Preston) when one of the characters is supposed to die from the wounds he had just received: Here let a small bladder of vinegar be pricked. I suppose to counterfeit blood: redwine vinegar was chiefly used, as appears from the ancient books of cookery.
In the ancient Tragedy, or rather Morality, called All for Money, by T. Lupton, 1578, Sin says,
"I knew I would make him soon change his note,
"I will make him sing the Black Sanctus, I hold him a groat."
"Here Satan shall cry and roar."
Again, a little after:
"Here he roareth and crieth."
Of the kind of wit current through these productions, a better specimen can hardly be found than the following:
"Satan. Whatever thou wilt have, I will not thee denie.
"For if I had a piece thereof, I do verely believe
"For I am combred with collike and letting out of winde:
"Then I would be so bold to borrowe your face."
Such were the entertainments, of which our maiden Queen sat a spectatress in the earlier part of her reign. Steevens.
Let them want nothing that my house affords.[Exeunt Serv. and Players.
[To a Serv.
Sirrah, go you to Bartholomew my page,
Bid him shed tears, as being overjoy'd
To see her noble lord restor❜d to health,
Who, for twice seven years, hath esteemed him
Every Man in his Humour, the greatest indulgence our histrionic leaders could have expected, would have been "a trencher and a napkin in the buttery." Steevens.
1 With soft low tongue,] So, in King Lear:
Her voice was ever soft,
"Gentle and low; an excellent thing in woman." Malone.
2 Who, for twice seven years, &c.] In former editions:
Who for this seven years hath esteemed him
No better than a poor and loathsome beggar.
I have ventured to alter a word here, against the authority of the printed copies; and hope, I shall be justified in it by two subsequent passages. That the poet designed the tinker's supposed lunacy should be of fourteen years standing at least, is evident upon two parallel passages in the play to that purpose. Theobald. The remark is just, but perhaps the alteration may be thought unnecessary by those who recollect that our author rarely reckons time with any great correctness. Both Falstaff and Orlando forget the true hour of their appointments. Steevens.
In both these passages the term mentioned is fifteen, not fourteen years. The servants may well be supposed to forget the precise period dictated to them by their master, or, as is the custom of such persons, to aggravate what they have heard. There is, therefore, in my opinion, no need of change. Malone.
And if the boy have not a woman's gift,
I know, the boy will well usurp the grace,
I long to hear him call the drunkard, husband;
And how my men will stay themselves from laughter,
May well abate the over-merry spleen,
Which otherwise would grow into extremes. [Exeunt.
A Bedchamber in the Lord's House.4
Sly is discovered in a rich night gown, with Attendants; some with apparel, others with bason, ewer, and other appurtenances. Enter Lord, dressed like a Servant. Sly. For God's sake a pot of small ale.
hath esteemed him-] This is an error of the press:-We should read himself, instead of him. M. Mason.
Him is used instead of himself, as you is used for yourselves in Macbeth:
"Acquaint you with the perfect spy o' the time—." i. e. acquaint yourselves.
Again, in Ovid's Banquet of Sence, by Chapman, 1595: "Sweet touch, the engine that love's bow doth bend, "The sence wherewith he feeles him deified." Steevens.
3 An onion-] It is not unlikely that the onion was an expe. dient used by the actors of interludes. Johnson...
So, in Antony and Cleopatra: "The tears live in an onion that should water this sorrow." Steevens.
4 A Bedchamber &c.] From the original stage direction in the first folio it appears that Sly and the other persons mentioned in the Induction, were intended to be exhibited here, and during the representation of the comedy, in a balcony above the stage. The direction here is-Enter aloft the drunkard with attendants, &c. So afterwards, at the end of this scene-The Presenters above speak. Malone.
5 Sly is discovered &c.] Thus in the original play:
1 Serv. Will 't please your lordship drink a cup of sack? 2 Serv. Will 't please your honour taste of these con
3 Serv. What raiment will your honour wear to-day? Sly. I am Christophero Sly; call not me-honour, nor lordship: I never drank sack in my life, and if you give me any conserves, give me conserves of beef: Ne'er ask me what raiment I'll wear; for I have no more doublets than backs, no more stockings than legs, nor no more shoes than feet; nay, sometimes, more
"Enter two with a table and a banquet on it, and two other, with Slie asleepe in a chaire, richlie apparelled, and the musick plai
"One. So, sirha, now go call my lord;
"And tell him all things are ready as he will'd it.
"Another. Set thou some wine upon the boord,
"And then Ile go fetch my lord presently.
"Enter the Lord and his men.
"Lord. How now, what is all things readie?
"One. Yea, my lord.
"Lord. Then sound the musicke, and Ile wake him strait, "And see you doe as earst I gave in charge.
"My lord, my lord, (he sleeps soundly) my lord.
"Slie. Tapster, give 's a little small ale: heigh ho.
"Lord. Heere 's wine, my lord, the purest of the grape. "Slie. For which lord?
"Lord. For your honour, my lord.
“Slie. Who I, am I a lord?—Iesus, what fine apparell have I got!
"Lord. More richer far your honour hath to weare, "And if it please you, I will fetch them straight. "Wil. And if your honour please to ride abroad, "Ile fetch your lustie steedes more swift of pace "Then winged Pegasus in all his pride,
"That ran so swiftlie over Persian plaines.
"Tom. And if your honour please to hunt the deere, "Your hounds stands readie cuppled at the doore, "Who in running will oretake the row,
"And make the long-breathde tygre broken-winded." Steevens.
6 small ale.] This beverage is mentioned in the accounts of the Stationers' Company in the year 1558: "For a stande of small ale," I suppose it was what we now call small beer, no mention of that liquor being made on the same books, though duble bere, and duble duble ale, are frequently recorded. Steevens. It appears from The Captain, by Beaumont and Fletcher, Act IV, sc. ii, that single beer and small beer were synonymous terms. Malone.