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I believe scrubbed and stubbed have a like meaning, and signify stunted or shrub-like. So, in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Nat. Hist.“ --but such will never prove fair trees, but skrubs only." STEVENS.
215. -retain—] The old copies concur in reading contain.
What man -wanted the modesty
To urge the thing held as a ceremony ??] This is a very licentious expression. The sense is, What man could have so little modesty, or wanted modesty so much, as to urge the demand of a thing kept on account in some sort religious.
JOHNSON. Thus Calphurnia says to Julius Cæsar : “ Cæsar, I never stood on ceremonies."
STEEVens. 260. -swear by your double self,] Double is here used for-full of duplicity.
MALONE. 265. - for his wealth ;] For his advantage ; to obtain his happiness. Wealth was, at that time, the term opposite to adversity, or calamity, JOHNSON,
The ancient ballad, on which the greater part of this play is probably founded, has been mentioned in Observations on the Faery Queen, 1. 129. Shakspere's track of reading may be traced in the common books and popular stories of the times, from which he manifestly derived most of his plots. Historical songs, then very fashionable, often suggested and recommended a subject. Many of his incidental allusions also relate to pieces of this kind, which are now grown valuable on this account only, and would otherwise have been deservedly forgotten. A ballad is still remaining on the subject of Romeo and Juliet, which by the date appears to be much older than Shakspere's time. It is remarkable, that all the particulars in which that play differs from the story in Bandello, are found in this ballad. But it may be said, that he has copied this story as it stands in Paynter's Pallace of Pleasure, 1567, where there is the same variation of circumstances. This, however, shews us that Shakspere did not first alter the original story for the worse, and is at least a presumptive proof that he never saw the Italian.
Shakspere alludes to the tale of King Cophetua and the Beggar, more than once. This was a ballad; the oldest copy of which, that I have seen, is in A Crown Garland of Golden Roses gathered out of England's Rojall Garden, 1612. The collector of this miscellany
was Richard Johnson, who compiled, from various romances, The Seven Champions. This story of Cophetua was in high vogue, as appears from our au. thor's manner of introducing it in Love's Labour Lost, act iv. sc. 1. As likewise from John Marston's Satires, called the Scourge of Villanie, printed 1598, viz.
« Go buy some ballad of the fairy king,
Sign. B. II. The first stanza of the old ballad begins thus :
66 I read that once in Africa
“ A prince that there did reign, " Who had to name Cophetua,
“ As poets they do feign, &c. The prince, or king, falls in love with a female beg. gar, whom he sees accidentally from the windows of his palace, and afterwards marries her. [Sign. D. 4.] The song, cited at length by the learned Dr. Grey, on this subject, is evidently spurious, and much more modern than Shakspere's time. The name Cophetua is not once mentioned in it.
However, I suspect, there is some more genuine copy than that of 1612, which I before mentioned. But this point may be, perhaps, adjusted by an ingenious inquirer into our old English literature, who is now publishing a curious collection of ancient ballads, which will illustrate many passages in Shakspere. I doubt not but he received the hint of writing
King King Lear from a ballad on that subject. But in most of his historical plays, he copies Hall, Holinshed, and Stowe, the reigning historians of that age. And al. though these Chronicles were then universally known and read, he did not scruple to transcribe their materials with the most circumstantial minuteness. For this he could not escape an oblique stroke of satire from his envious friend, Ben Jonson, in the comedy Called, The Devil's an Ass, act ii. sc. 4.
“ Filz-dot. Thomas of Woodstock, I'm sure, was duke: and he was made away at Calice, as duke Humfrey was at Bury. And Richard the Third, you know what end he came to.
“ Meer-er. By my faith you're cunning in the Chronicle.
“ Fitz-dot. No, I confess, I ha't from the playbooks, and think they're more authentick."
In Antony Wood's collection of ballads, in the Ashmolean Museum, I find one with the following title : “ The lamentable and tragical Historie of Titus Andronicus, with the fall of his five and twenty sons in the wars with the Goths ; with the murder of his daughter Lavinia, by the empress's two sons, through the means of a bloody Moor, taken by the sword of Titus in the war : his revenge upon their cruel and inhu. mane acte."
“ You noble mindes and famous martiall
wights." The use which Shakspere might make of this piece, is obvious,
The two principal incidents of this play are to be found separately in a collection of odd stories, which were very popular, at least five hundred years ago, under the title of Gesta Romanorum. The first, Of the bond, is in ch. xlviii. of the copy, which I choose to refer to, as the completest of any which I have yet MS. Harl. n. 2270.
A knight there borrows money
of a merchant, upon condition of forfeiting all his flesh for non-payment. When the penalty is ex. acted before the judge; the knight's mistress, disguised, in forma viri & vestimentis pretiosis induta, comes into court, and, by permission of the judge, endeavours to mollify the merchant. She first offers him his money, and then the double of it, &c. to all which his answer is-Conventionem meam volo habere.-Puella, cum hoc audisset, ait coram omnibus, Domine, mi ju. dex, da rectum judicium super his quæ vobis dixero. -Vos scitis quod miles nunquam se obligabat ad aliud per literam nisi quod mercator habeat potestatem carnes ab ossibus scindere, sine sanguinis effusione, de quo ni. hil erat prolocutum. Statim mittat manum in eum; si vero sanguinem effuderit, Rex contra eum actionem habet. Mercator, cum hoc audîsset, ait ; date mihi pecuniam, & omnem actionem ei remitto. Ait puella, Amen dico tibi, nullum denarium habebis-pone ergo manum in eum, ita ut sanguinem non effundas. Mercator vera videns se confusum abscessit ; & sic vita militis salvata est, & nullum denarium dedit.
The other incident, of the caskets, is in ch. xcix. of the same collection. A king of Apulia sends his