« PreviousContinue »
length, exhibits the servile condition of a domestic preceptor in the family of an esquire. Several of the satires of this second Book are intended to show the depressed state of modest and true genius, and the inattention of men of fortune to literary merit.
A gentle squire would gladly entertaine
Neuer presume to sit aboue the salts:
Third, that he neuer change his trencher twise;
Sit bare at meales, and one half rise and wait:
Last, that he never his yong maister beat;
How manie jerks she would his breech should line.
To give five markes, and winter liverie.h
From those who despised learning, he makes a transition to those who abused or degraded it by false pretences. Judicial astrology is
Or, a table-chaplain. In the same sense we have trencher-knight, in Love's Labour's Lost.
f This indulgence allowed to the pupil, is the reverse of a rule anciently practised in our universities. In the Statutes of Corpus Christi college at Oxford, given in 1516, the Scholars are ordered to sleep respectively under the beds of the Fellows, in a truckle-bed, or small bed shifted about upon wheels. "Sit unum [cubile] altius, et aliud humile et rotale, et in altiori cubet Socius, in altero semper Discipulus." Cap. xxxvii. Much the same injunction is ordered in the statutes of Magdalen college Oxford, given 1459. "Sint duo lecti principales, et duo lecti rotales, Trookyll beddys vulgariter nuncupati," &c. Cap. xlv. And in those of Trinity college Oxford, given 1556, where troccle bed, the old spelling of the word truckle bed, ascertains the etymology from troclea, a wheel. Cap. xxvi. In an old comedy, The Return from Parnassus, acted at Cambridge in 1606, Amoretto says, "When I was in Cambridge, and lay in a trundle-bed under my tutor," &c. act ii. sc. 6.
& Towards the head of the table was placed a large and lofty piece of plate, the top of which, in a broad cavity, held the
salt for the whole company. One of these stately salt-sellars is still preserved, and in use, at Winchester college. With this idea, we must understand the following passage, of a table meanly decked. B. vi. i. f. 83.
Now shalt thou never see the Salt beset With a big-bellied gallon flagonet.
In Jonson's Cynthia's Revells, acted in 1600, it is said of an affected coxcomb, "His fashion is, not to take knowledge of him that is beneath him in clothes. He never drinkes below the salt." act i. sc. 2.
So Dekker, Guls Horne Booke, p. 26. "At your twelue penny Ordinarie, you may giue any iustice of the peace, or young knight, if he sit but one degree towards the Equinoctiall of the Saltsellar, leaue to pay for the wine," &c. See more illustrations, in Reed's Old Plays, edit. 1780. vol. iii. 285. In Parrot's Springes for Woodcockes, 1613, a guest complains of the indignity of being degraded below the salt. Lib. ii. Epigr. 188. And swears that he below the Salt was sett.
h B. ii. 6. f. 38.
the subject of the seventh satire. He supposes that Astrology was the daughter of one of the Egyptian midwives, and that having been nursed by Superstition, she assumed the garb of Science.
That now, who pares his nailes, or libs his swine?
Again, of the believer in the stars, he says,
His feare or hope, for plentie or for lack,
The numerous astrological tracts, particularly pieces called PROGNOSTICATIONS, published in the reign of queen Elizabeth, are a proof how strongly the people were infatuated with this sort of divination. One of the most remarkable, was a treatise written in the year 1582, by Richard Harvey*, brother to Gabriel Harvey, a learned astrologer of Cambridge, predicting the portentous conjunction of the primary planets, Saturn and Jupiter, which was to happen the next year. It had the immediate effect of throwing the whole kingdom into the most violent consternation. When the fears of the people were over, Nash published a droll account of their opinions and apprehensions while this formidable phenomenon was impending; and Elderton a balladmaker, and Tarleton the comedian, joined in the laugh. This was the best way of confuting the impertinences of the science of the stars. True knowledge must have been beginning to dawn, when these profound fooleries became the objects of wit and ridicule1.
Hall's Satires continued.
THE opening of the first satire of the third Book, which is a contrast of ancient parsimony with modern luxury, is so witty, so elegant, and so poetical an enlargement of a shining passage in Juvenal, that the reader will pardon another long quotation.
Time was, and that was term'd the time of gold,
[Nash says of Gab. Harvey in his "Have with You," &c. 1596, "The best wit-craft I can turn him too, to get three pence a weeke, is to write Prognostications and Almanackes, and that alone must be
his best philosophers stone till hys last destiny." Sig. 1. 3. 6.-PARK.]
See Nash's Apology of Peers Penniless, &c. Lond. 1593. 4to. f. 11.
When quiet Saturne sway'd the mace of lead,
But there was challenge made whose it might be.
Desir'd more daintie dish of rare delite,
They scal'd the stored crab with clasped knee,
For needlesse metalls, then
He then, in the prosecution of a sort of poetical philosophy, which prefers civilized to savage life, wishes for the nakedness or the furs of our simple ancestors, in comparison of the fantastic fopperies of the exotic apparel of his own age.
They naked went, or clad in ruder hide,
A Frenche head joyn'd to necke Italian,
Thy thighs from Germanie, and breast from Spain:
An Englishman in none, a foole in all,
One of the vanities of the age of Elizabeth was the erection of monuments, equally costly and cumbersome, charged with a waste of capricious decorations, and loaded with superfluous and disproportionate sculpture. They succeeded to the rich solemnity of the gothic shrine, which yet, amid a profusion of embellishments, preserved uniform principles of architecture.
In the second satire, our author moralises on these empty memorials, which were alike allotted to illustrious or infamous characters.
Some stately tombe he builds, Egyptian-wise,
The third is the description of a citizen's feast, to which he was invited,
With hollow words, and ouerly request.
But the great profusion of the entertainment was not the effect of liberality, but a hint that no second invitation must be expected. The effort was too great to be repeated. The guest who dined at this table often, had only a single dish'.
The fourth is an arraignment of ostentatious piety, and of those who strove to push themselves into notice and esteem by petty pretensions. The illustrations are highly humourous.
b B. iii. 1. f. 45.
He alludes to the discovery of king Arthur's body in Glastonbury abbey. Lately, in digging up a barrow, or tumulus, on the downs near Dorchester, the body of a Danish chief, as it seemed, was
found in the hollow trunk of a huge oak for a coffin.
d B. iii. 2. f. 50.
slight, shallow. f B. iii. 3. f. 52.
Who euer giues a paire of velvet shoes
Nor can good Myron weare on his left hond,
But he must cut his gloue to shew his pride,
That his trim jewel might be better spied :
The fifth is a droll portrait of the distress of a lustie courtier, or fine gentleman, whose periwinkle, or peruke, was suddenly blown off by a boisterous puff of wind while he was making his bows'.
He lights, and runs and quicklie hath him sped
These are our satirist's reflections on this disgraceful accident.
Fie on all courtesie, and unruly windes,
Two only foes that faire disguisement findes !
Is 't not sweet pride, when men their crownes must shade
In the next is the figure of a famished gallant, or beau, which is much better drawn than in any of the comedies of those times. His hand is perpetually on the hilt of his rapier. He picks his teeth, but has dined
In a gallery over the screen, at entering the choir, was a large crucifix, or rood, with the images of the holy Virgin and saint John. The velvet shoes were for the feet of Christ on the cross, or of one of the attendant figures. A rich lady sometimes bequeathed her wedding-gown, with necklace and ear-rings, to dress up the Virgin Mary. This place was called the Rood-loft.
h some rich citizen.
That is, he hath, &c.
B. iii. 4. f. 55.
In a set of articles of inquiry sent to a college in Oxford, about the year 1676, by the visitor bishop Morley, the commissary is ordered diligently to remark, and report, whether any of the senior fellows wore periwigs. I will not suppose
that bobwigs are here intended. But after such a proscription, who could imagine, that the bushy grizzle-wig should ever have been adopted as a badge of gravity? So arbitrary are ideas of dignity or levity in dress! There is an epigram in Harrington, written perhaps about 1600,"Of Galla's goodly periwigge." B. i. 66. This was undoubtedly false hair. In Hayman's Quodlibets or Epigrams, printed in 1628, there is one "to a Periwiggian." B. i. 65. p. 10. Again, "to a certaine Periwiggian." B. ii. 9. p. 21. Our author mentions a periwig again, B. v. 2. f. 63.
A golden periwigg on a blackmoor's brow.