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"Let the sky rain potatoes." -Act V., Scene 5.
“ Lust is but a bloody fire."-Act V., Scene 5. A notion appears to have prevailed, on the first intro- ; That is, “but a fire in the blood.” duction of this innocent vegetable, that it was an amorous
" Will none but Herne the hunter serve your turn ?" provocative.
Act V., Scene 5. “Divide me like a bribe-buck." -- Act V., Scene 5.
There is still a tree in Windsor Home or Little Park, That is, like a buck sent as a bribe. Those who adopted dedicated to the memory of this unquiet old forester. the practice would be likely to make the bribe available as Whether or not it is the identical oak alluded to by Shaksfar as possible, by sending the haunches in different directions. pere, remains a disputed point. Mr. Jesse, in his second series
of " Gleanings" (published in 1834), contends for the affirm“My shoulders for the fellow of this walk."-Act V., Scene 5.
ative; and thus supports his opinion, in a letter addressed Meaning the keeper. He was entitled by custom to the to the editor of "The Times” newspaper (Nov. 28, 1838.) shoulders and humbles, or knees, of the deer. Hence, no
“To set the matter at rest, I will now repeat the substance doubt, the phrase, “eat humble pie"-to feed off an inferior
of some information given to me relative to Herne's Oak, by dish; figuratively, to be reduced to submission.
Mr. Ingalt (Engall}, the present respectable bailiff and
manager of Windsor Home Park. He states, that he was "Enter Sir Hugh Evans like a satyr," &c.—Act V., Scene V. appointed to that situation by George III., about forty years
This long stage-direction was concocted by Malone from ago. On receiving his appointment, he was directed to the early quartos. The folio has none whatever It is pro attend upon the King at the Castle; and on arriving there, bable that the performers who played Pistol and Mrs. Quickly
he found his Majesty with the old Lord Winchilsea.' After were, from lack of numbers in the company, compelled to
a little delay, the King set off to walk in the park, attended appear also in the fairy group. This supposition explains the
by Lord Winchilsea; and Mr. Ingalt was desired to follow apparent anomaly (particularly as regards Pistol) of their them. Nothing was said to him, until the King stopped appearing on this occasion, and having such unaccustomed opposite an oak tree; he then turned to Mr. Ingalt, and said, language attributed to them.
I brought you here to point out this tree to you : I commit
it to your especial charge; and take care that no damage is “Orphan-heirs of fired desliny."-Act V., Scene 5.
ever done to it. I had rather that every tree in the park No satisfactory explanation of this passage has been given.
should be cut down, than that this tree should be hurt. This The text is probably corrupt. Warburton very plausibly
is Herne's Oak' Mr. Ingalt added, that this was the tree still proposes to read “ouphen-heirs ; i.e. you elves, who minis
standing near Queen Elizabeth's Walk, and is the same tree ter and succeed in some of the works of destiny." Farmer
which I have mentioned, and given a sketch of, in my supposes the term to be applied to a "part of the troop, as
'Gleanings in Natural History.' Sapless and leafless it mortals by birth, but adopted by the fairies; orphans, in re
certainly is, and its rugged bark has all disappeared. spect of their real parents, and now only dependent on des
Its boughs are mossed with age, tiny herself.” Shakspere frequently uses the word heirs, in
And high top bald with grey antiquity;' the sense of children. By "ouphen-heirs of fixed destiny," But there it stands--and long may it do so,-an object of he might, therefore, by no very strained interpretation, be interest to every admirer of our immortal bard." supposed to mean "fairy children, who execute the decrees of destiny."
" See you these, husband ? do not these fair yokes
Become the forest better than the town?" "Raise up the organs of her fantasy."-Act V., Scene 5.
Act V., Scene 5. That is, let her who has performed her religious duties be
The speaker (Mrs. Page) probably refers to the horns that secure against the grosser illusions of fancy; have her sleep,
have decorated the head of Falstaff; and seems to express like that of infancy, free from disordered dreams. It was
an opinion that such things are in place in a forest, where supposed that invisible beings had the power of disturbing
there are animals destined to wear them; but not so in a with dreams, or otherwise annoying, those who had not
town, where they are the supposed appendage of a cornuto. prayed ere they slept. Shakspere makes Imogen exclaim“ To your protection I commend me, gods !
“Ignorance itself is a plummet o'er me."-- Act V., Scene 5. From fairies, and the terapters of the night, Guard me, beseech ye !"
This obscure passage has given rise to many attempts at
explanation. For "plummet," Dr. Farmer proposes to read "A man of middle earth.”-Act V., Scene 5.
“planet." It appears to us, however, that Falstaff alludes As the ethereal regions were supposed to be possessed by
to the plumb-line used at sea, and means to say, “I feel my spirits, and those under ground by fairies, to man was given
brain so dry, my wit so shallow, that even ignorance (or the middle or intermediate space.
folly) itself is able to sound my depth, or gauge me to the
"When night-dogs run, all sorts of deer are chased." Act V., Scene 5.
That is, when secret or unlawful sport is going on, there Meaning, probably, “thou hast been an object of con- | is no knowing who will be the victim. Falstaff alludes to tempt from thy earliest hour to the present."
the unexpected capture of Anne Page by Fenton.
EVERAL of the conjectural chronologists of the plays of Shakspere
assign a very late date to the first appearance of the “Twelfth NIGHT;" considering it, indeed, to have been the last-written of all his wondrous dramas: and, certainly, of his many marvellous works, there is not one upon which the seal of that consummate perfection for which even the most exalted genius must stand indebted to all-maturing Time, is more lovelily and vividly set. But the truth is, little is positively known as to the actual order in which the plays of Shakspere were either written or acted: and of his numerous commentators, the figural labours have been equally futile and superfluous with the great bulk of their verbal ingenuities.
The story of the serious portions of this fine play, “the right happy and copious industry” (as his contemporary Webster somewhat sneeringly phrases it) of its great author may have derived from one of Belleforest's “Histoires TRAGIQUES," or from its Italian original, the thirty-sixth novel of the second part of the “ TALES OP BANDELLO;" a novelist in whose rich mine all the dramatists of the age of Elizabeth wrought deeply for the materials of their incessant gorgeous poetic coinage; from one of the
“Eglogs" of Barnaby Googe, whose poems were published in 1563; or from the “ HISTORY OF APOLLONIUS AND Silla," which was printed in 1583, in a miscellany entitled, "Rich, his FAREWELL TO MILITARY PROFESSION.” It was, however, the mere form of which Shakspere availed himself: the subtle spirit of the work is his, and his alone: and the exquisitely comic characters of the drama—that prince-royal of joyous topers, Sir Toby Belch, a joker worthy to have been the intimate of Sir John Falstaff: the foolish, prodigal, conceited, quarrelsome, cowardly, super-silly fortune-hunter, Sir Andrew Aguecheek (a distant cousin, we have always thought, of Master Abraham Slender), who "harms his wit” by his “great eating of beef;" who has “an excellent head of hair,” that "hangs like flax on a distaff;" who, in dancing, has “the back-trick simply as strong as any man in Illyria;” and who "delights in masks and revels sometimes altogether:" the exuberantly witty Clown, Festo the Jester, “a fool that the lady Olivia's father took much delight in," and whose veriest freedoms are, therefore, rendered permissive, and even sacred, to the lady Olivia; he, the pathetic vocalist, who “takes pleasure in singing:" Malvolio, the fantastic, ill-natured, self-admiring, and sadly but deservedly betricked steward: and the vivacious little Maria, “ the youngest wren of nine,” the "nettle of India :"these admirable creations are Shakspere's, soul, body, and all !
As we abandon ourselves to the poetry of this play, the sweetest spirit of love floats balmily over the heart and imagination,
- "Like the sweet south,
Stealing and giving odour." The sense is saturated with it. We are “canopied with bowers,” under the fragrant beauty of which our love-thoughts “lie rich” beyond richness. By the “rich golden shaft” of the heavenliest of human passions, are killed “the flock of all affections else that live in us;" and in its sole and omnipotent power we are chained, entranced, spell-bound :
“It gives a very echo to the seat
Where Love is throned !”
and one which, in the mysterious distance, we hear calling to us alluringly for ever.