COMMENTARY NOTES


spacerdramatis personae servus Philonices = a servant of Philonices

spacerI.i (stage direction) He enters with musicians in order to establish them in their place.

spacer18 At this point an instrumental musical interlude may have intervened.

spacerstage direction after 31 This stage direction seems to require 74 participants (the officers specified are the ones chosen to serve as the Price’s court for the duration of the festival). But its truly remarkable feature is that it calls for the use of fifty to sixty muskets discharging a total of 150 to 180 rounds. What guns? It is improbable in the extreme that an Oxford college would maintain an arsenal, so the only plausible answer would seem to be that, since hunting was a favorite sport for young gentlemen, these were ones owned by individual members of the college for that purpose. But, especially in view of the fact that we occasionally hear of student riots, it would come as a surprise to learn that they were permitted to keep firearms on college premises. Is there any corroboration for this?
spacer“Links” are torches. “Bases”: the only suitable definition of “base” given by the O. E. D. is a pleated skirt of rich material extending from the bottom of the doublet down to the knee, popular during the Tudor period, or an imitation thereof made out of chain mail. This does not explain why the word is used in the plural here, possibly it is the result of scribal error. “Civill hoods” are the hoods of “civilians” (i. e. degree-holders in Civil Law).

spacer62 “Registers” = lists, accounts.

spacer70 I do not recognize the quotation, which is not from Seneca’s Troades or Hecuba’s lament in Ovid, Metamorphoses XIII.

spacer72 “I” = Aye. The following passage of course refers to the Gunpowder Plot, aptly compared to the assassination of Julius Caesar.

spacer87 “He sits down, weeping.”

spacer88 Clinias (occasionally spelled Clynias) is given the accent typical of a comical character from the west country, in which z reguarly subsitutes for s and v for f. Ich = I, Chill = “I shall,” C’had = “I had,” and so forth.

spacer151 I. e., renegades.

spacer165 “Reviewing” = planning.

spacer187 I. e., the years of my old age, when I had acquired wisdom sufficient to give good counsel.

spacer272 Veritas = Truth.

spacer292 A fool.

spacer328 The same temple that has already played a role in the first play of the Christmas Prince cycle, Ara Fortunae.

spacer333 “Request” = quest.

spacer382 “If I do not take/understand you, you will take me.” Allegedly said by Aristotle as he committed suicide by hurling himself in the sea, punning on the two meanings of capio. The apocryphal story is told by such late ancient writers as Procopius, Nazianus, and Justin Martyr.

spacer400 joy’d = enjoyed.

spacer410 I. e., to hang before me always, but forever out of reach.

spacer435 Either the second I in this sentence is an emphatic Aye or we should write. I knowe it by experience. I — (with Humfrey breaking off as he sees Time).

spacer438 A nincompoop.

spacer446 Who the devil?

spacer447 Euphemistic for “God’s foot.”

spacer448 She’ll add it to my bill.

spacer453 “Bezling” = guzzling or gobbling.

spacer459 The manuscript has without, retained by Boas-Greg. This is acceptable if we interpret without as an adverb, i. e. “and outside of my tavern is in good order throughout the world.” Or it is a scribal error for “with,” so that the words that follow are a further description of the burghers who have held their business meeting in that establishment.

spacer461 The root of the eryngo or sea-holly, used as an aphrodisiac.

spacer466 The OED lists no such noun as “clacket”: perhaps this is a copyist’s or transcriber’s error for “clacker”(“chatterbox”). “Bumbie” - bumblebee.

spacer469 More or less = “by my faith.”

spacer474 “He exits and returns with food.”

spacer477 “He exits and returns with drink.”

spacer493 “Hotspur” is an attested common noun (see the O. E. D. entry for examples) so there is no reference here to the Shakespeare character.

spacer495 An instrument for keeping the horse under control.

spacer527 At least as transcribed by Boas-Greg, the manuscript repeatedly contains the abbreviation Wr. With the possible exception of 711, deciphering this as “Master” suits the context. Evidently either the ms. copyist or Boas-Greg have mistaken an M for a W.

spacer534 At this point he hits him.

spacer542 I do not understand this. Philonices speaks as if giving alms to the poor was forbidden by law, whereas the 1552 Vagabond Act (later subumed under the 1575 Poor Act) required every citizen to donate to his parish’s fund for supporting the poor, under pain of imprisonment for non-compliance.

spacer552 Crost would appear to be an obsolete equivalent of “crushed” (unless it is a copyist’s error for crusht).

spacer566 “Stilts” = crutches.

spacer594 “Shrewd” = wounding, harmful. “Halt” = limp.

spacer600 “Foxt” = drunk.

spacer613 “He sleeps.”

spacer640 I. e., outward hue.

spacer655 Single or only Truth.

spacer670 I do not know whether So, ho (perhaps without the comma) is meant to recall the old hunting-cry which gave rise to the name of the London district.

spacer680 “Board” = table, with reference to the table around which Privy Councillors would sit.

spacer683ff. Marginal numbers seem to indicate that the lines in this passage were written out of their proper order and need tobe rearranged. I therefore reproduce them in the order printed by Boas-Greg.

spacer711 In this single instance, “Master” does not seem a suitable expansion of the abbreviation Wr and I have no idea what it should be, unless just possibly we should read “I dare not answer a man or master.”

spacer714 A where we should expect he is either a copyist’s mistake or the author’s attempt to imitate a feature of colloquial or regional speech.

spacer725 “Engroast” (engrossed) = taken legal possession of.

spacer726 “No amount of time runs against the king.” According to this legal principle, the traditional common law prerogative of squatter’s rights did not apply to Crown land.

spacer741 “Quit” = acquit.

spacer754 “Gleare” = bright.spacerspacer

spacer781 “Tom Tell-Troth” was a pseudonym adopted by a number of authors down to the eighteenth century. For examples prior to the appearance of our play see James Purkis, “Attributing Auhorship and Swetnam the Woman-Hater” in Janet Wright Starner and Barbara Howard Traister (edd.), Anonymity in Early Modern England: What’s in a Name? (Lehigh Pa., 2013) pp. 115ff.

spacer794 “Vantage” = advantage.

spacer805f. This couplet is of course addressed to Thomas Tucker, the Christmas Prince.