Imagens das páginas

by saying: "He hangs the lip at something." We may compare, too, the words in "I Henry IV." (ii. 4): "a foolish hanging of thy nether lip."

Head. According to the old writers on physiognomy, a round head denoted foolishness, a notion to which reference is made in "Antony and Cleopatra " (iii. 3), in the following dialogue, where Cleopatra, inquiring about Octavia, says to the Messenger:

"Bear'st thou her face in mind? Is't long, or round?

Messenger. Round, even to faultiness.

Cleopatra. For the most part, too, they are foolish that are so.”

In Hill's "Pleasant History," etc. (1613), we read: "The head very round, to be forgetful and foolish." Again: "The head long, to be prudent and wary."

Heart. The term "broken heart," as commonly applied to death from excessive grief, is not a vulgar error, but may arise from violent muscular exertion or strong mental emotions. In "Macbeth" (iv. 3), Malcolm says:

"The grief, that does not speak,

Whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break."

We may compare, too, Queen Margaret's words to Buckingham, in "Richard III." (i. 3), where she prophesies how Gloster

"Shall split thy very heart with sorrow."

Mr. Timbs, in his "Mysteries of Life, Death, and Futurity" (1861, p. 149), has given the following note on the subject: "This affection was, it is believed, first described by Harvey; but since his day several cases have been observed. Morgagni has recorded a few examples: among them, that of George II., who died suddenly of this disease in 1760; and, what is very curious, Morgagni himself fell a victim to the same malady. Dr. Elliotson, in his Lumleyan Lectures on Diseases of the Heart, in 1839, stated that he had only seen one instance; but in the 'Cyclopædia of Practical Medicine' Dr. Townsend gives a table of twenty-five cases, collected from various authors."

In olden times the heart was esteemed the seat of the understanding. Hence, in "Coriolanus" (i. 1), the Citizen speaks of "the counsellor heart." With the ancients, also, the heart was considered the seat of courage, to which Shakespeare refers in " Julius Cæsar” (ii. 2):

"Servant. Plucking the entrails of an offering forth,
They could not find a heart within the beast.

Cæsar. The gods do this in shame of cowardice:
Cæsar should be a beast without a heart,

If he should stay at home to-day for fear."

Liver. By a popular notion, the liver was anciently supposed to be the seat of love, a superstition to which Shakespeare frequently alludes. Thus, in "Love's Labour's Lost" (iv. 3), Biron, after listening to Longaville's sonnet, remarks:

"This is the liver vein, which makes flesh a deity,
A green goose, a goddess; pure, pure idolatry.”

In "Much Ado About Nothing" (iv. 1), Friar Francis says:

"If ever love had interest in his liver."

Again, in "As You Like It" (iii. 2), Rosalind, professing to be able to cure love, which, he says, is "merely a madness,” says to Orlando," will I take upon me to wash your liver as clean as a sound sheep's heart, that there shall not be one spot of love in't." In "Twelfth Night" (ii. 4), the Duke, speaking of women's love, says:

"Their love may be call'd appetite,

No motion of the liver, but the palate," etc.

And Fabian (ii. 5), alluding to Olivia's supposed letter to Malvolio, says: "This wins him, liver and all."

Once more, in "Merry Wives of Windsor" (ii. 1), Pistol alludes to the liver as being the inspirer of amorous passions, for, speaking of Falstaff, he refers to his loving Ford's wife "with liver burning hot." Douce says, "there is some

1 Cf." Antony and Cleopatra" (i. 2):


Soothsayer. You shall be more beloving, than belov'd.
Charmian. I had rather heat my liver with drinking."

reason for thinking that this superstition was borrowed from the Arabian physicians, or at least adopted by them; for, in the Turkish tales, an amorous tailor is made to address his wife by the titles of thou corner of my liver, and soul of my love;' and, in another place, the King of Syria, who, had sustained a temporary privation of his mistress, is said to have had 'his liver, which had been burnt up by the loss of her, cooled and refreshed at the sight of her.'" old Latin distich:

According to an

"Cor sapit, pulmo loquitur, fel commoret iras
Splen ridere facit, cogit amare jecur."

Bartholomæus, in his "De Proprietatibus Rerum "(lib. v. 39), informs us that "the liver is the place of voluptuousness and lyking of the flesh."

Moles. These have, from time immemorial, been regarded as ominous, and special attention has been paid by the superstitious to their position on the body. In "A Midsummer-Night's Dream" (v. 1), a mole on a child is spoken of by Oberon as a bad omen, who, speaking of the three couples who had lately been married, says:

"And the blots of Nature's hand

Shall not in their issue stand;
Never mole, hare-lip, nor scar,
Nor mark prodigious, such as are
Despised in nativity,

Shall upon their children be."

Iachimo ("Cymbeline," ii. 2) represents Imogen as having

"On her left breast

A mole cinque-spotted, like the crimson drops

I' the bottom of a cowslip."

And we may also compare the words of Cymbeline (v. 5):

1 66

"Guiderius had

Upon his neck a mole, a sanguine star;

It was a mark of wonder."

Illustrations of Shakespeare," 1839, pp. 38, 39.

2 See Brand's " Pop. Antiq.,” 1849, vol. iii. pp. 252--255.

Spleen. This was once supposed to be the cause of laughter, a notion probably referred to by Isabella in “Measure for Measure" (ii. 2), where, telling how the angels weep over the follies of men, she adds:

"who, with our spleens,

Would all themselves laugh mortal.”

In "Taming of the Shrew " (Induction, sc. i.), the Lord says: "haply my presence

May well abate the over-merry spleen,

Which otherwise would grow into extremes."

And Maria says to Sir Toby, in "Twelfth Night" (iii. 2): "If you desire the spleen, and will laugh yourselves into stitches, follow me."

Wits. With our early writers, the five senses were usually called the "five wits." So, in " Much Ado About Nothing" (i. 1), Beatrice says: "In our last conflict four of his five wits went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one." In Sonnet cxli., Shakespeare makes a distinction between wits and senses:

“But my five wits, nor my five senses can

Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee."

The five wits, says Staunton, are "common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, memory." Johnson says, the "wits seem to have been reckoned five, by analogy to the five senses, or the five inlets of ideas." In "King Lear" (iii. 4) we find the expression, "Bless thy five wits."

According to a curious fancy, eating beef was supposed to impair the intellect, to which notion Shakespeare has several allusions. Thus, in "Twelfth Night" (i. 3), Sir Andrew says: "Methinks sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian, or an ordinary man has: but I am a great eater of beef, and I believe that does harm to my wit." In "Troilus and Cressida" (ii. 1), Thersites says to Ajax: "The plague of Greece upon thee, thou mongrel beef-witted lord!"



ALTHOUGH it has been suggested that Shakespeare found but little recreation in fishing,' rather considering, as he makes Ursula say, in “Much Ado About Nothing" (iii. 1):

"The pleasant'st angling is to see the fish

Cut with her golden oars the silver stream,

And greedily devour the treacherous bait,"

and that it would be difficult to illustrate a work on angling with quotations from his writings, the Rev. H. N. Ellacombe, in his interesting papers on "Shakespeare as an Angler," has not only shown the strong probability that he was a lover of this sport, but further adds, that "he may be claimed as the first English poet that wrote of angling with any freedom; and there can be little doubt that he would not have done so if the subject had not been very familiar to him -so familiar, that he could scarcely write without dropping the little hints and unconscious expressions which prove that the subject was not only familiar, but full of pleasant memories to him." His allusions, however, to the folk-lore associated with fishes are very few; but the two or three popular notions and proverbial sayings which he has quoted in connection with them help to embellish this part of our subject.

Carp. This fish was, proverbially, the most cunning of fishes, and so "Polonius's comparison of his own worldlywise deceit to the craft required for catching a carp" is most apt ("Hamlet," ii. 1):"

'See Harting's "Ornithology of Shakespeare," 1871, p. 3. The Antiquary," 1881, vol. iv. p. 193.


3 Ibid.

« AnteriorContinuar »