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Puff, quoth Hodge; thinking thereby to have fire without doubt;
Diccon, the strolling beggar (or Bedlam, as he is called,) steals a piece of bacon from behind Gammer Gurton's door, and in answer to Hodge's complaint of being dreadfully pinched for hunasks
"Why, Hodge, was there none at home thy dinner for to set?
Hodge. Gog's bread, Diccon, I came too late, was nothing there to get:
A pestilence light on all ill luck, I had thought yet for all this,
Gog's souls, Diccon, Gib our cat had eat the bacon too."
Hodge's difficulty in making Diccon understand what the needle is which his dame has lost, shows his superior acquaintance with the conveniences and modes of abridging labour in more civilized life, of which the other had no idea.
"Hodge. Has she not gone, trowest now thou, and lost her neele?" [So it is called here.]
"Dic. (says staring.) Her eel, Hodge? Who fished of late? That was a dainty dish.
Hodge. Tush, tush, her neele, her neele, her neele, man, 'tis neither flesh nor fish:
A little thing with a hole in the end, as bright as any siller [silver],
Small, long, sharp at the point, and strait as any pillar.
Dic. I know not what a devil thou mean'st, thou bring'st me more in doubt.
Hodge, (answers with disdain). Know'st not with what Tom tailor's man sits broching through a clout?
A neele, a neele, my Gammer's neele is gone."
The rogue Diccon threateus to show Hodge a spirit; but though Hodge runs away through pure fear before it has time to appear, he does not fail, in the true spirit of credulity, to give a faithful and alarming account of what he did not see to his mistress, concluding with a hit at the Popish clergy.
"By the mass, I saw him of late call up a great black devil. Oh, the knave cried, ho, ho, he roared and thunder'd;
ye had been there, I am sure, you'd murrainly ha' wonder'd. Gam. Wast not thou afraid, Hodge, to see him in his plaee?
Hodge, (lics and says). No and he had come to me, should have laid him on his face,
Should have promised him.
Gam. But, Hodge, had he no horns to push ?
Hodge. As long as your two arms. Saw ye never Friar Rush,
Painted on a cloth, with a fine long cow's tail,
And crooked cloven feet, and many a hooked nail ?
For all the world (if I should judge) should reckon him his brother:
He then adds (quite apocryphally) while he is in for it, that "the devil said plainly that Dame Chat had got the needle," which makes all the disturbance. The same play contains the wellknown good old song, beginning and ending
"Back and side go bare, go bare,
Both foot and hand go cold:
But belly, God send thee good ale enough,
I cannot eat but little meat,
My stomach is not good;
But sure I think, that I can drink
With him that wears a hood:
Though I go bare, take ye no care;
I nothing am a-cold:
I stuff my skin so full within
Of jolly good ale and old.
Back and side go bare, &c.
I love no roast, but a nut-brown toast,
A little bread, shall do me stead,
Much bread I do not desire.
No frost or snow, no wind I trow,
I am so wrapt, and thoroughly lapt
In jolly good ale and old.
Back and side go bare, &c
And Tib, my wife, that as her lite
The tears run down her cheek
Even as a malt-worm sholde :
And saith, sweetheart, I took my part
Of this jolly good ale and old.
Back and side go bare, go bare,
Both foot and hand go cold:
But belly, God send thee good ale enough,
Such was the wit, such was the mirth of our ancestors :homely, but hearty; coarse perhaps, but kindly. Let no man despise it, for "Evil to him that evil thinks." To think it poor and beneath notice because it is not just like ours, is the same sort of hypercriticism that was exercised by the person who refused to read some old books, because they were "such very poor spelling." The meagreness of their literary or their bodily fare was at least relished by themselves; and this is better than a surfeit or an indigestion. It is refreshing to look out of ourselves sometimes, not to be always holding the glass to our own peerless perfections; and as there is a dead wall which always intercepts the prospect of the future from our view, (all that we can see beyond it is the heavens,) it is as well to direct our eyes now and then without scorn to the page of history, and repulsed in our attempts to penetrate the secrets of the next six thousand years, not to turn our backs on auld lang syne!
The other detached plays of nearly the same period of which I proposed to give a cursory account, are Green's Tu Quoque,' 'Microcosmus,' 'Lingua,' 'The Merry Devil of Edmonton,' 'The Pinner of Wakefield,' and 'The Spanish Tragedy.' Of the spurious plays attributed to Shakspeare, and to be found in some of the editions of his works, such as 'The Yorkshire Tragedy,' Sir John Oldcastle,' The Widow of Watling Street,' &c., I shall say nothing here, because I suppose the reader to be already acquainted with them, and because I have given a general account of them in another work.
Green's Tu Quoque,' by George Cook, a contemporary of Shakspeare's, is so called from Green the actor, who played the part of Bubble in this very lively and elegant comedy, with the cant phrase of Tu quoque perpetually in his mouth. The double change of situation between this fellow and his master, Staines, each passing from poverty to wealth, and from wealth to poverty again, is equally well imagined and executed. A gay and gal lant spirit pervades the whole of it; wit, poetry, and morality, each take their turn in it. The characters of the two sisters, Joyce and Gertrude, are very skilfully contrasted, and the manner in which they mutually betray one another into the hands of their lovers, first in the spirit of mischief, and afterwards of retaliation, is quite dramatic. "If you cannot find in your heart to tell him you love him, I'll sigh it out for you. Come, we little creatures must help one another," says the Madcap to the Madonna. As to style and matter, this play has a number of pigeon-holes full of wit and epigrams which are flying out in almost every sentence. I could give twenty pointed conceits, wrapped up in good set terms. Let one or two at the utmost suffice. A bad hand at cards is thus described. Will Rash says to Scattergood, "Thou hast a wild hand indeed; thy small cards show like a troop of rebels, and the knave of clubs is their chief leader." Bubble expresses a truism very gaily on finding himself equipped like a gallant-"How apparel makes a man respected! The very children in the street do adore me." We find here the first mention of Sir John Suckling's "melancholy hat," as a common article of wear-the same which he chose to clap on Ford's head, and the first instance of the theatrical double entendre which has been repeated ever since of an actor's ironically abusing himself in his feigned character.
"Gervase. They say Green's a good clown.
Bubble, (played by Green, says) Green! Green's an ass,
Scattergood. Wherefore do you say so?
Bub. Indeed, I ha' no reason; for they say he's as like me as ever he can look."
The following description of the dissipation of a fortune in the hands of a spend:hrift is ingenious and beautiful:
"Know that which made him gracious in your eyes,
Is wasted and consumed even like ice,
'Microcosmus,' by Thomas Nabbes, is a dramatic mask or allegory, in which the Senses, the Soul, a Good and a Bad Genius, Conscience, &c., contend for the dominion of a man; and notwithstanding the awkwardness of the machinery, is not without poetry, elegance, and originality. Take the description of morning as a proof:
"What do I see? Blush, grey-eyed morn, and spread
Thy purple shame upon the mountain tops;
Or pale thyself with envy, since here comes
A brighter Venus than the dull-eyed star
But what are we to think of a play, of which the following is a literal list of the dramatis persona?
"NATURE, a fair woman, in a white robe, wrought with birds, beasts, fruits, flowers, clouds, stars, &c.; on her head a wreath of flowers interwoven with stars. JANUS, a man with two faces, signifying Providence, in a yellow robe, wrought with snakes, as he is deus anni: on his head a crown. He is Nature's husband. FIRE, a fierce-countenanced young man, in a flame-coloured robe, wrought with gleams of fire; his hair red, and on his head a crown of flames. His creature a Vulcan.
AIR, a young man of a variable countenance, in a blue robe, wrought with divers coloured clouds; his hair blue; and on his head a wreath of clouds. His creature a giant or silvan.
WATER, a young woman in a sea-greeen robe, wrought with waves; her hair a sea-green, and on her head a wreath of sedge bound about with waves. Her creature a syren.
EARTH, a young woman of a sad countenance. in a grass-green robe, wrought with sundry fruits and flowers; her hair black, and on her head a chaplet of flowers. Her creature a pigmy.
LOVE, a Cupid in a flame-coloured habit; bow and quiver, a crown of flaming hearts, &c.
PHYSANDER, a perfect grown man, in a long white robe, and on his head a garland of white lilies and roses mixed. His name απο τῆς φύσεως καὶ τῷ ἀνδρος.