Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

Father of Poetry through the medium of Chapman's translation, should not have availed himself of such an original instead of Lydgate's Troye Booke; but it should be recollected that it was his object as a writer for the stage, to coincide with the feelings and prejudices of his audience, who, believing themselves to have drawn their descent from Troy, would by no means have been pleased to be told that Achilles was a braver man than Hector. They were ready to think well of the Trojans as their ancestors, but not very anxious about knowing their history with much correctness, and Shakspeare might have applied to worse sources of information than even Lydgate. Of this Hardyng's Chronicle will supply a ludicrous instance :

“ Lamedone gat the kyng Priamus,
“ Who made agayne his palais llion,
“ And Troyes citie also more glorious
“ Then thei were before their subvercion
“ And royall without pervercion,
• In joye and myrth thei stode many a yere,
And Achilles with him his brother dere." BOSWELL.

P. 409. How the devil LUXURY, with his fat rump, aud PoTatoe finger, tickles these together.] Lucuria was the appropriate term used by the school divines, to express the sin of incontinence, which accordingly is called luxury in all our old English writers. In the Summæ Theologiæ Compendium of Thomas Aquinas, P. 2. II. Quæst. CLIV. is de Luxuriæ Partibus, which the author distributes under the heads of Simplex Fornicatio, Adulterium, Incestus, Stuprum, Raptus, &c. and Chaucer, in his Parson's Tale, descanting on the seven deadly sins, treats of this under the title De Luxuria. Hence, in King Lear, our author uses the word in this particular sense :

“ To't, Luxury, pell-mell, for I want soldiers." And Middleton, in his Game of Chess :

in a room fill'd all with Aretine's pictures,
“ (More than the twelve labours of Luxury,)
“ Thou shalt not so much as the chaste pummel see

« Of Lucrece' dagger." But why is luxury, or lasciviousness, said to have a potatoe finger?_This root, which was, in our author's time, but newly imported from America, was considered as a rare exotick, and esteemed a very strong provocative. As the plant is so common now, it may entertain the reader to see how it is described by Gerard, in his Herbal, 1597, p. 780:

“ This plant, which is called of some Skyrrits of Peru, is generally of us called Potatus, or Potatoes. There is not any that hath written of this plant;-therefore, I refer the description thereof unto those that shall hereafter have further knowledge of the same. Yet I have had in my garden divers roots (that I bought at the Exchange in London) where they Aourished until winter, at which time they perished and rotted. They are used to be eaten roasted in the ashes. Some, when they be so roasted, infuse them and sop them in wine ; and others, to give them the greater grace in eating, do boil them with prunes. Howsoever they be dressed, they comfort, nourish, and strengthen the bodie, procure bodily lust, and that with great greediness.”

Drayton, in the 20th Song of his Polyolbion, introduces the same idea concerning the skirret :

“ The skirret, which, some say, in sallets stirs the blood." Shakspeare alludes to this quality of potatoes in The Merry Wives of Windsor : “Let the sky rain potatoes, hail kissing comfits, and snow eringoes ; let a tempest of provocation come.".

Ben Jonson mentions potatoe pies in Every Man out of his Humour, among other good unctuous meats. So, T. Heywood, in The English Traveller, 1633 :

“ Caviare, sturgeon, anchovies, pickled oysters; yes
And a potatoe pie : besides all these,

“ What thinkest rare and costly." Again, in The Dumb Knight, 1633: truly I think a marrow-bone pye, candied eringoes, preserved dates, or marmalade of cantharides, were much better harbingers ; cock-sparrows stew'd, dove's brains, or swans' pizzles, are very provocative; roasted potatoes, or boiled skirrets are your only lofty dishes.”

Again, in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635: “ If she be a woman, marrow-bones and potatoe-pies keep me," &c. Again, in A Chaste Maid of Cheapside, by Middleton, 1620 :

“ You might have spar'd this banquet of eringoes,
“ Artichokes, potatoes, and your butter'd crab;

“ They were fitter kept for your own wedding dinner." Again, in Chapman's May-day, 1611: "a banquet of oyster, pi es, skirret-roots, potatoes, eringoes, and divers other whet-stones of venery."

Again, in Decker's If This Be Not A Good Play The Devil Is In It, 1612:

Potatoes eke, if you shall lack

“ To corroborate the back." Again, in Jack Drum's Entertainment, 1601 : “ by Gor, an me had known dis, me woode have eat som potatos, or ringoe." Again, in Sir W. D'Avenant's Love and Honour, 1649:

• You shall find me a kind of sparrow, widow;

A barley-corn goes as far as a potatoe." Again, in The Ghost, 1640 :

Then, the fine broths I daily had sent to me,

Potatoe pasties, lusty marrow-pies," &c. Again, in Histriomastix, or the Player Whipt, 1610 :

« Harke ye,

[ocr errors]

“Give your play-gull a stool, and your lady her fool,

' And her usher potatoes and marrow.” Nay, so notorious were the virtues of this root, that W. W. the old translator of the Menæchmi of Plautus, 1595, has introduced them into that comedy. When Menæchmus goes to the house of his mistress Erotium to bespeak a dinner, he adds, some oysters, a mary-bone pie or two, some artichockes, and potato-roots ; let our other dishes be as you please."

Again, in Greene's Disputation between a Hee Coneycatcher and a Shee Coneycatcher, 1592: “ I pray you, how many badde proffites againe growes from whoores. Bridewell woulde have verie fewe tenants, the hospitall would wante patientes, and the surgians much woorke: the apothecaries would have surphaling water and potato-roots lye deade on their handes.”

Again, in Cynthia's Revels, by Ben Jonson : “ — 'tis your only dish, above all your potatoes or oyster-pies in the world.” Again, in The Elder Brother, by Beaumont and Fletcher :

" A banquet-well, potatoes and eringoes,

“ And as I take it, cantharides-Excellent!" Again, in The Loyal Subject, by the same authors :

“ Will you lordship please to taste a fine potato?
“ 'Twill advance your wither'd state,

“ Fill your honour full of noble itches,” &c. Again, in The Martial Maid, by Beaumont and Fletcher : • Will your ladyship have a polatoe-pie? 'tis a good stirring dish for an old lady after a long lent." Again, in The Sea Voyage, by the same authors :

Oh, for some eringoes, “ Potatoes, or cantharides !" Again :

“ See provoking dishes, candied eringoes

" And potatoes." Again, in The Picture, by Massinger :

he hath got a pye
“ Of marrow-bones, potatoes and eringoes.”.
Again, in Massinger's New Way To Pay Old Debts :

'tis the quintessence
“ Of five cocks of the game, ten dozen of sparrows,
“ Knuckles of veal, potatoe-roots and marrow,

“Coral and ambergris," &c.
Again, in The Guardian, by the same author :

Potargo, Potatoes, marrow, caviare—," Again, in The City Madam, by the same:

"prescribes my diet, and foretells

My dreams when I eat potatoes.Taylor the Water-poet likewise, in his character of a Bawd, ascribes the same qualities to this genial root.

Again, Decker, in his Gul's Hornbook, 1609: Potato-pies and custards stood like the sinful suburbs of cookery,” &c. Again, in Marston's Satires, 1599 :

-camphire and lettice chaste,
Are now cashier'd—now Sophi 'ringoes eate,

“ Candid potatoes are Athenians' meate.” Again, in Holinshed's Chronicle, Description of England, p. 167 : “ Of the potato and such venerous roots, &c. I speake not."

Lastly, in Sir John Harrington's Metamorphosis of Ajax, 1596:

Perhaps you have been used to your dainties of potatoes, of caveare, eringus, plums of Genowa, all which may well encrease your appetite to severall evacuations."

In The good Huswives Jewell, a book of cookery published in 1596, I find the following receipt to make a tarte that is a courage to a man or woman : “Take iwo quinces, and twoo or three burre rootes and a POTATON; and pare your POTATON and scrape your roots, and put them into a quarte of wine, and let them boyle till they bee tender, and put in an ounce of dates, and when they be boiled tender, drawe them through a strainer, wine and all, and then put in the yolkes of eight eggs, and the braynes of three or four cocke-sparrowes, and straine them into the other, and a little rose-water, and seeth them all with sugar, cinnamon, and ginger, and cloves, and mace; and put in a little sweet butter, and set it upon a chafing-dish of coles between two platters, to let it boyle till it be something bigge."

Gerard elsewhere observes, in his Herbal, that “ potatoes may serve as a ground or foundation whereon the cunning confectioner or sugar-baker may worke and frame

many

comfortable conserves and restorative sweetmeats."

The same venerable botanist likewise adds, that the stalk of clotburre, “being eaten rawe with salt and pepper, or boiled in the broth of fat meat, is pleasant to be eaten, and stirreth up venereal motions. It likewise strengtheneth the back," &c.

Speaking of dates, he says, that “ thereof be made divers excellent cordial comfortable and nourishing medicines, and that procure lust of the body very mightily." He also mentions quinces as having the same virtues.

We may likewise add, that Shakspeare's own authority for the efficacacy of quinces and dates is not wanting. He has certainly introduced them both as proper to be employed in the wedding dinner of Paris and Juliet :

“ They call for dates and quinces in the pasty." It appears from Dr. Campbell's Political Survey of Great Britain, that potatoes were brought into Ireland about the year 1610, and that they came first from Ireland into Lancashire. It was, however, forty years before they were much cultivated about London. At this time they were distinguished from the Spanish by the name of Virginia potatoes, -or battatas, which is the Indian denomination of the Spanish sort. The Indians in Virginia called them openank. Sir Walter Raleigh was the first who planted them in Ireland. Authors differ as to the nature of this vegetable, as well as in respect of the country from whence it originally came. Switzer calls it Sisarum Peruvianum, i. e. the skirret of Peru. Dr. Hill says it is a solanum; and another very respectable naturalist conceives it to be a native of Mexico.

The accumulation of instances in this note is to be regarded as a proof how often dark allusions might be cleared up, if commentators were diligent in their researches. Collins.

ON THE STORY OF THIS PLAY.

Of Lollius, the supposed inventor of this story, it will become every one to speak with difídence. Until something decisive relating to him shall occur, it is better to conclude with Mr. Tyrwhitt, that Chaucer borrowed the greatest part of his admirable story from Boccaccio's Philostrato ; and that he either invented the rest altogether, or obtained it from some completer copy of the Philostrato than that which we now possess. What Dryden has said of Lollius is entirely destitute of proof, and appears to be nothing more than an inference from Chaucer's own expressions.

It would be a matter of extreme difficulty to ascertain, with any sort of precision, when and in what manner the story of Troilus and Cressida first made its appearance. Whether the author of the Philostrato was the first who detailed it so minutely as it is there found, remains to be decided; but it is certain that so much of it as relates to the departure of Cressida from Troy, and her subsequent amour with Diomed, did exist long before the time of Boccaccio. The work in which it is most known at present is the Troy book of Guido of Colonna, composed in 1287, and as he states, from Dares Phygius, and Dictys Cretensis, neither of whom mentions the name of Cressida. Mr. Tyrwhitt, as it has eventually proved, had with his usual penetration and critical acuteness, suspected that Guido's Dares was in reality an old Norman French poet named Benoit de Saint More, who wrote in the reign of our Henry the Second, and who himself made use of Dares. This work seems to be the earliest authority now remaining. The task which Mr. Tyrwhitt had declined, has on this occasion been submitted to; and the comparison has shown that Guido, whose performance had long been regarded as original, has only translated the Norman writer into Latin. It is most probable that he found Benoit's work when he came into

« AnteriorContinua »