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for a barrel of ale, as he often used on all occasions to
V. 560. With that he siez'd upon his blade.) Dr.
heart break :
When you are waspish.”
With hideous clamour, and a lond one.) The poet's contrivance at this critical juncture is wonderful: he has found out a way to cool his heroes very artfully, and to prevent a bloody encounter between them, without calling either their honour or courage in question. All this is happily accomplished þy an antique procession, which gives the Knight a fresh opportunity of exerting the vigour of his arms for the service of his country.
V. 595. For as the aldermen of Rome.] Here we have a facetious example of our author's happy turn for ridicule, in making great things little: here we have the Patres Conscripti, the august Fathers of the Roman Senate, degraded to corporation aldermen, a class of men whose very name designates something mean, contemptible, selfish, overbearing, insolent, and ignorant. V.6134. When, over one another's heads,
They charge, three ranks at once, like Swedes.) The Swedes under the great Gustavus Adolphus had
acquired a high degree of military reputation, and were supposed to be the best disciplined soldiers in Europe. Cleveland, speaking of the authors of the Diurnal Works, says, “They write in the posture that the Swedes give fire in, over one another's heads." V. 645.6. Arm'd with a spindle and a distaff,
Which, as he rode, she made him twist off.] The procession here described was called a Skimming
It was a mock heroic procession of rustics and clowns to celebrate the triumph of a virago of a wife over some hen-pecked husband.
V. 650. march'd whifflers.] Whifflers are fifers, who used to go before public processions. V. 655-6. That both was Madam and a Don,
Like Nero's Sporus, or Pope Joan.] That is, was endowed with masculine rather than feminine qualities. Sporus was one of the catamites of Nero, and Suetonins says, was publicly espoused by him. For the History of Pope Joan see Note on Part I. Canto iii. 1. 1249-50. V: 665-6. Quoth he, In all my life till now
I ne'er saw so profane a show.) One of the commentators on Butler says, “This procession (common in England) with its usual attendants, has been exactly set in view by the poet: but our trusty Knight could call it strange and profane, and pretend to trace its origin from paganism. On these frantic notions he founds a pretence, that he, as a saint and reformer, is necessitated to prohibit this diversion, notwithstanding all that Ralph can say to convince him of his error.” V. 669.70. had read Goodwin,
Or Ross, or Cælius Rhodogine.] Authors who treated of Roman and Grecian antiquities.
V. 671. Speeds and Stows.] Speed and Stow were antiquaries who flourished in the days of Elizabeth and James I. and were very diligent to chronicle the public processions and shows of those reigns.
V. 683. Hang out their mantles della guerre.] Lipsius, the scholiast, in his Commentaries on Tacitus, says, “ That the day before an engagement took place, it was usual to hang a purple flag before the general's tent, as a warning or signal that a battle was to be fought.”
V. 686. A Tyrian petticoat, &c.] Our author means nothing more here than a red petticoat, but as he likes to debase proud things, and to exhalt humble, he calls it Tyrian. Dryden says, “Costly apparel let the fair one fly,
Enrich'd with gold, or with the Tyrian dye." V.687. Next links, &c.] That the Roman emperors were wont to have torches borne before them by day in public appears from Herodian. V. 689-90. And as in antique triumph, eggs
Were borne for mystical intrigues.] Both in the Pagan and Christian world the egg has been considered as a mysterious symbol; its rotundity expressing the figure of the earth, its fulness the bounty of nature, and the principle of animal life within it those powers of vivification which, in the vegetable world, are called into action by the solar beams. The early Christians compared the egg to the ark, and said the shape was conformable; that the yolk represented the living beings contained in the ark, and the white the sustenance on which Noah and his companions fed during their continuance on the waters.
V. 698. When the gray mare's the better horse.] An okt English proverb, implying that the wife is master over the husband. V. 699-700. When o'er the breeches greedy women
Fight, to extend their vast dominion.] In Rule a Wife and Have a Wife, Margarita speaks thus to Leon, to whom she was going to be married: “You must not look to be my master, Sir, Or talk i'th' house as thongh you wore the breeches, No, nor command in any thing."
This was Patricio's wish; see Ben Jonson's Masqne of the Metamorphosed Gipsies.
" From a woman true to no man,
Which is ugly, besides common,
Bless the sov'reign, and his seeing."
V.705. When wives their sexes shift like hares.] This is one of the opinions which is properly exposed by Sir Thomas Browne in his Vulgar Errors. Fletcher alludes to it in his Faithful Shepherdess.
“Thus I charm thee from this place:
Snakes that cast their coats for new,
Proteus altring oft and strange, &c."
enemy. The show generally began at the Albanian mountain, whence the generał, with his retinue, made his entry into the city on foot, with many futes or pipes sounding in concert as he passed along, and wearing a garland of myrtle as a token of peace. The term ovation, according to Servius, is derived from ovis, á sleep, because on this occasion the conqueror sacrificed a sheep, as in a triumph he sacrificed a buli. V. 743-4. Like Dukes of Venice, who are said
The Adriatic sea to wed.] “Renowned Venice, (Howell says,) the admiredest city in the world
a city that all Europe is bound unto, for she is her greatest rampart against that huge eastern tyrant the Turk by sea, else I believe he had overcome all Christ. endom by this time. Against him this city hath performed notable exploits, and not only against him, but diverse others. She hath restored diverse emperors to their thrones, and popes to their chairs, and her gallies often preserved St. Peter's bark from sinking; for which, by way of reward, one of his snccessors espoused her to the sea; which marriage is solemnly renewed every year in a solemn procession by the Doge and all the Clarissimos, and a gold ring cast into the sea out of the great galeas, called the Bucentaur, wherein the first ceremony was performed by the Pope himself, above three hundred years since, and they say it is the self-same vessel still, though often put upon the careen and trimmed."-" This ceremony (Coryat observes) was first instituted by Fope Alexander III. in the year 1174. The pope gave the duke a gold ring from his finger, in token that the Venetians having made war upon the Emperor Frederic Barbarossa, in defence of his quarrel, discomfited his fleet at Istria; and he commanded him, for his sake, to throw the like golden ring into the sea every year, upon Ascensionday, during his life, which custom has ever since been observed to this day."
V.759. What means, quoth he, this dev'los procession.] Here our Knight acts just like Don Quixote, in the adventure of the dead body conveying to Segovia for interment, the attendants of which he took to be Lucifer's infernal crew.
V.775. Women, who were our first apostles.] Women were early and zealous contributors to the good cause, as they called it. Howell observes, “ That unusual voluntary collections were made both in town and country; the seamstress brought in her silver thimble, the chambermaid her bodkin, the cook her silver spoon, into the common treasury of war; and some sorts of females were freer in their contributions, so far as to part with their rings and ear-rings, as if some golden