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Set your heart at rest,
Again, in Ben Jonson's Christmas Masque: “— he said grace as well as any of the sheriff's hench-boys."
Skinner derives the word from Hine A. S. quasi domesticus famulus. Spelman from Hengstman, equi curator, in Toxoploso
Steevens. In a letter to the Earl of Shrewsbury, dated 11th of December, 1565, it is said; “Her Highness (i. e. Queen Elizabeth) hathe of late, whereat some doo moche marvell, dissolved the auncient office of Henchemen.” (Lodge's Illustrations, Vol. I, p. 358.) On this passage Mr. Lodge observes, that Henchmen were “a certain number of youths, the sons of gentlemen, who stood or walked near the person of the monarch on all public occasions. They are mentioned in the sumptuary statutes of the 4th of Ed. ward the Fourth, and 24th of Henry VIII; and a patent is preserved in the Federa, Vol. XV, 242, whereby Edward VI, gives to William Bukley, M. A. propter gravitatem morum et doctrine abundantiam, officium docendi, erudiendi, atque instituendi adolescentulos vocatos HENCHMEN; with a salary of 401. per annum. Henchman, or Heinsmen, is a German word, as Blount informs us in his Glossographia, signifying a domestic, whence our ancient term Hind, a servant in the house of a farmer. Dr. Percy, in a note on the Earl of Northumberland's houshold-book, with less probability, derives the appellation from their custom of standing by the side, or Haunch, of their Lord. Reed.
Upon the establishment of the houshold of Edward IV, were “ henxmen six enfants, or more, as it pleyseth the king, eatinge in the hall, &c. There was also a maister of the henxmen, to shewe them the schoole of nurture, and learne them to ride, to wear their harnesse ; to have all curtesie-to teach them all languages, and other virtues, as harping, pipynge, singing, dauncing, with honest behavioure of temperaunce and patyence."MS. Harl. 293.
At the funeral of Henry VIII, nine henchmen attended with Sir Francis Bryan, master of the henchmen.
Strype's Eccl. Mem. v. 2, App. n. 1. Tyrwhitt, Henchman. Quasi haunch-man. One that goes
behind another. Pedisequus. Blackstone.
The learned commentator might have given his etymology some support from the following passage in King Henry IV, P. II, Act IV, sc. iv;
so Westmoreland, thou art a summer bird,
Marking the embarked traders on the flood;
Obe. How long within this wood intend you stay?
Tita. Perchance, till after Theseus' wedding-day. If you will patiently dance in our round,
3 And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind:) Dryden, in his translation of the 1st Book of Homer's Iliad (and Pope after hím) were perhaps indebted to the foregoing passage:
winds suffic'd the sail
“ The milk white canvas bellying as they blow.” Steevens. 4 Which she, with pretty and with swimming gait, Following (her womb, then rich with my young 'squire)
Would imitate ;-] Perhaps the parenthesis should begin soon. er; as I think Mr. Kenrick observes :
(Following her womb, then rich with my young 'squire.) So, in Trulla's combat with Hudibras:
She press'd so home, “ That he retird, and follow'd 's bum." And Dryden says of his Spanish Friar, “his great belly walks in state before him, and his gouty legs come limping after it.”
Farmer. I have followed this regulation (which is likewise adopted by Mr. Steevens), though I do not think that of the old copy at all liable to the objection made to it by Dr. Warburton. “She did not (he says) follow the ship, whose motion she imitated; for that sailed on the water, she on land.” But might she not on land move in the same direction with the ship at sea, which cer. tainly would outstrip her? and what is this but following?
Which, according to the present regulation, must mean—which motion of the ship with swelling sails, &c; according to the old regulation it must refer to “ embarked traders.” Malone.
This passage, as it is printed, appears to me ridiculous. Every woman who walks forward must follow her womb. The absurdity is avoided by leaving the word following out of the parenthesis. Warburton's grammatical objection has no foundation. M. Mason.
And see our moon-light revels, go with us;
Obe. Give me that boy, and I will go with thee.
Tita. Not for thy kingdom-Fairies, away : 5 We shall chide down-right, if I longer stay.
[Exeunt Tita. and her train. Obe. Well, go thy way: thou shalt not from this grove, Till I torment thee for this injury.My gentle Puck, come hither: Thou remember'st Since once I sat upon a promontory, And heard a mermaid, on a dolphin's back, Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath, That the rude sea grew civil at her song; And certain stars shot madly from their spheres, To hear the sea-maid's musick.6
5 Not for thy kingdom.-Fairies, away:] The ancient copies
Not for thy fairy kingdom.--Fairies, away: By the advice of Dr. Farmer, I have omitted the useless adjective fairy, as it spoils the metre; Fairies, the following substantive, being apparently used, in an earlier instance, as a tri. syllable. Steevens.
To hear the sea-maid's musick.] The first thing observable on these words is, that this action of the mermaid is laid in the same time and place with Cupid's attack upon the vestal. By the vestal, every one knows, is meant Queen Elizabeth. It is very natural and reasonable, then, to think that the mermaid stands for some eminent personage of her time. And if so, the allegorical cover. ing, in which there is a mixture of satire and panegyric, will lead us to conclude that this person was one of whom it had been inconvenient for the author to speak openly, either in praise or dispraise. All this agrees with Mary Queen of Scots, and with no otherQueen Elizabeth could not bear to hear her commended; and her successor would not forgive her satirist. But the poet has so well marked out every distinguished circumstance of her life and character in this beautiful allegory, as will leave no room to doubt about his secret meaning. She is called a mermaid, 1. to denote her reign over a kingdom situate in the sea, and 2. her beauty, and intemperate lust:
Ut turpiter atrum
for as Elizabeth, for her chastity, is called a vestal, this unfortunate lady, on a contrary account, is called a mermaid. 3. An allcient story may be supposed to be here alluded to. ror Julian tells us, Epistle 41, that the Sirens (which, with all the modern poets, are mermaids) contended for precedency with the Muses, who, overcoming them, took away their wings. The quarrels between Mary and Elizabeth had the same cause, and the same issue.
--- on a dolphin's back,] This evidently marks out that distin. guishing circumstance of Mary's fortune, her marriage with the dauphin of France, son of Henry II.
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,] This alludes to her great abilities of genius and learning, which rendered her the most accomplished princess of her age. The French writers teil us, that, while she was in that court, she pronounced a Latin oration in the great hall of the Louvre, with so much grace and eloquence, as filled the whole court with admiration.
That the rude sea grew civil at her song ;] By the rude sea is meant Scotland encircled with the ocean; which rose up in arms against the regent, while she was in France. But her return home presently quieted those disorders: and had not her strange ill conduct, afterwards, more violently inflamed them, she might have passed her whole life in peace. There is the greater justness and beauty in this image, as the vulgar opinion is, that the mermaid always sings in storms:
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,
To hear the sea-maid's musick.] This concludes the description, with that remarkable circumstance of this unhappy lady's fate, the destruction she brought upon several of the English nobility, whom she drew in to support her cause. This, in the boldest expression of the sublime, the poet images by certain stars shooting madly from their spheres: By which he meant the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland, who fell in her quarrel; and principally the great Duke of Norfolk, whose projected marriage with her was attended with such fatal consequences. Here again the reader. may observe a peculiar justness in the imagery: the vulgar opinion being that the mermaid allured men to destruction with her songs; to which opinion Shakspeare alludes in his Comedy of Errors:
« O train me not, sweet mermaid, with thy note,
“ To drown me in thy sisters' flood of tears.” On the whole, it is the noblest and justest allegory that was ever written. The laying it in fairy land, and out of nature, is in the character of the speaker. And on these occasions Shak. speare always excels himself. He is borne away by the magic of his enthusiasm, and hurries his reader along with him into these ancient regions of poetry, by that power of verse which we may well fancy
to be like what,
- Olim fauni vatesque canebant.” Warburton.
Obe. That very time I saw, (but thou could'st not) Flying between the cold moon and the earth, Cupid all arm’d:7 a certain aim he took
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres,] So, in our author's Rape of Lucrece:
" And little stars shot from their fixed places.” Malone. Every reader may be induced to wish that the foregoing allusion, pointed out by so acute a critic as Dr. Warburton, should remain uncontroverted; and yet I cannot dissemble my doubts concerning it.-Why is the thrice-married Queen of Scotland styled a Sea-MAID? and is it probable that Shakspeare (who understood his own political as well as poetical interest) should have ventured such a panegyric on this ill-fated princess, during the reign of her rival Elizabeth? If it was unintelligible to his audience, it was thrown away; if obvious, there was danger of offence to her Majesty.
“ A star dis-orb’d,” however, (See Troilus and Cressida) is one of our author's favourite images; and he has no where else so happily expressed it as in Antony and Cleopatra:
the good stars, that were my former guides, “ Have empty left their orbs, and shot their fires
“ Into th' abysm of hell." To these remarks may be added others of a like tendency, which I met with in The Edinburgh Magazine, Nov. 1786." That a compliment to Queen Elizabeth was intended in the expression of the fair Vestal throned in the West, seems to be generally allowed; but how far Shakspeare designed, under the image of the Mermaid, to figure Mary Queen of Scots, is more doubtful. If by the rude sea grew civil at her song, is meant, as Dr. Warburton supposes, that the tumults of Scotland were appeased by her address, the observation is not true; for that sea was in a storm during the whole of Mary's reign. Neither is the figure just, if by the stars shooting madly from their spheres, to hear the sea-maid's musick, the poet alluded to the fate of the Earls of Northumberland and Westmoreland, and particularly of the Duke of Norfolk, whose projected marriage with Mary, was the occasion of his ruin. It would have been absurd and irreconcilable to the good sense of the poet, to have represented a nobleman aspiring to marry a Queen, by the image of a star shooting or descending from its sphere."
Cupid all arm’d:] All arm'd does not signify dressed in panoply, but only enforces the word armed, as we might say, all booted.
Fohnson. So, in Greene's Never too late, 1616:
“ Or where proud Cupid sat all arm'd with fire.” Again, in Lord Surrey's translation of the 4th Book of the Æneid:
“ All utterly I could not seem forsaken.” Again, in King Richard III:
“ His horse is slain, and all on foot he fights.”