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The remarks both of Edwards and Steevens are foreign to the subject, and I greatly fear, like too many passages in Shakespeare attempted to be explained, show a total want of the requisite knowledge on the part of the commentators. When I was in Italy some few years back, I remember to have met with an illustration of this passage, which I beg to submit for your consideration.
In the Campo Santa at Pisa, in the picture by Benozzo Gozzoli of the inebriation of Noah, a woman, supposed to be his daughter, is represented looking through her open fingers held up before her face at the naked drunken Patriarch. This has given rise to a proverb in Italy when false modesty is ridiculed, “Come la vergognosa di Camposanto.” The accompanying sketch is from a reduced engraving of the picture.
Cotgrave, in his French and English Dictionarie, 1611, gives, “ Le fourc des doigts : The part that lyes betweene the setting on of euerie two of the fingers; or the parting thereof."
This I must consider fully explains the poet's meaning; and to show further that the custom was not unknown in England, and was alluded to by Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, I give the following quotations :
“or let him hold his fingers thus, and through that cranny shall Pyramus and Thisby whisper." —Midsummer Night's Dream,' Act iii. Sc. 1.
Maudlin (the Witch). "I know well, ,
It is a witty part sometimes to give;
ON AN UNEXPLAINED PASSAGE IN SHAKESPEARE.
He suld present them with mare pleasand things,
The Sad Shepherd,' by Ben Jonson, Act ii. Sc. 1,
vol. vi. p. 280, edit. 1816. “To Twire, or Tweer, sometimes means to peep out. In Ben Jonson, maids are said to twire when they peep through their fingers, thinking not to be observed.”—Nares's Glossary.
The same thought is carried out somewhat differently by
Should view men carv'd up for anatomies ;
The Second Part of “The Honest Whore,' Act v. Sc. 2.
A, the broad English, explained, 24.
Derivations continued :-
explore, 129. parbreak, 122.
rail (bird), 122.
rasp, resp, 122,
brook (v.), 125.
inkling, 115. rivulet, 99.
caillet, 97. -1, -le, words end-
ing in, 107, 108.
roup, rolp, 125.
-let, words ending ruckle, 122.
runt, roint (v.)
corn-crake, 121. loud, 132.
runt (n.), 124.
Derivations continued :
Keltic and Teutonic words related, lists
of, 51-60, 63-75.
Keltic races in England amalgamated
with the Saxon, 84.
names of places in England,
KEY, Prof.; ôn the word inkling, 115,
wreckling, 124. -1 and -le, words ending in, 107, 108;
I dead as a diminutive, 112.
soft g or ), 9–29.
LATHAM, Dr. R. G.; on the Gepidæ,
-let, on diminutives in, 93-115.
in Saxon words, is the base of
little, 102, and not a compound of
el and et, 103.
Lithuanian; origin of the terminal
dually amalgamated with the Šax-
or ), as representing the Latin la-
bials, with or without an attendant
ploro; Mr. H. Coleridge on it and
some of its compounds, 129-134.
rak or rok, as a coarse guttural sound,
and the words connected with it,
Rugi and Rhæti the same people, 8.
of, and the metaphors connected with with Keltic, 39-92.
twelve ; on its termination (lika) in Li-
WEDGWOOD, HENSLEIGH; on the ter.
minations of the numerals 11 and 12,
and the equivalent forms in Lithua-
; on the derivation of the
; on words descriptive of
guttural action, and the metaphors
connected with them, 120–126.
[APPENDIX TO Part 1.]
NOTICES OF MEETINGS, 1857.
January 15, 1857.
Rev. J. J. S. PEROWNE in the Chair. The following presents were received, and the thanks of the Meeting voted to their respective donors :Documents relating to the Colonial History of New York, vols. iii., iv., v., vi.,
vü. & ix. From the Trustees of the New York State Library. The Maha Wanso: in Roman characters, with Translation, &c.; by the Hon.
George Turnour. From Granville, Esq. The Papers read were—I. “On the Gepidæ;” by Dr. Latham.—II. “On the French soft g orj, as representing the Latin Labials,” &c., Part I.; by J. Malcolm Ludlow, Esq.
February 4, 1857. The LORD BISHOP OF St. David's, President, in the Chair. A copy of Richardson's English Dictionary, interleaved, was presented by Messrs. Bell and Daldy, on the condition that they might be allowed to use any notes made in it.
The Papers read were—I. “On the French soft g orj, as representing the Latin Labials,” &c., Part II.; by J. Malcolm Ludlow, Esq.-II. “On the Tushi Language;" by Dr. Latham.—III. “On the Words Eleven and
Twelve, and their Analogues in other Languages;" by Hensleigh Wedgwood, Esq.
Mr. Williams, the Assistant-Secretary, exhibited and explained some rubbings of Hieroglyphic and other Inscriptions, and presented to the Society a copy of his Essay on the Hieroglyphics of the Ancient Egyptians.
February 19, 1857. The LORD BISHOP OF ST. DAVID's, President, in the Chair. Herbert Coleridge, Esq., the Rev. W. A. Hales, and James Renshaw, Esq. were balloted for and duly elected Members of the Society.
The Paper read was—“On the Connexion of the Keltic with the Teutonic Languages, and especially with the Anglo-Saxon,” Part I.; by the Rev. John Davies, M.A.
March 5, 1857. HENSLEIGH WEDGWOOD, Esq. in the Chair. The Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of London and The Very Rev. the Dean of Westminster were balloted for and duly elected Members of the Society.
The Papers read were—I. “On the Word Inkling;” by Professor Key.II. “On the Connexion of the Keltic with the Teutonic Languages, and especially with the Anglo-Saxon," Part II.; by the Rev. John Davies, M.A.
March 19, 1857.
THOMAS Watts, Esq. in the Chair.
Dictionary thereto; and Oude Friesche Wetten, in two parts. From M. de Haan Hettema. and the thanks of the Society were voted to him for the same.