« AnteriorContinuar »
tender years." The bones were then transferred to Glastonbury, and one hundred and ninety-two years afterwards again found there; the explorers coming to
a coffin of wood, bound firmly with iron at all the joints,” opening this, seeing the bones within, “with his ring upon a particular bone of his finger; and to take away all semblance of doubt, discovering his picture within the coffin, the letter S, with a glory on the right side of the coffin, the letter D, with a glory on the left.” The ring was put upon the finger of a bishop at his burial, because a bishop always wore a ring in his life; and because he wore it, as Queen Elizabeth wore one through life with the same reference to kingdom, in token of his marriage to his diocese.
ART AND NATURE.
Sylph-LIKE, and with a graceful pride,
Again I saw that lady fair;
In a sweet cottage of her own
“Here comes a pair of very strange beasts, which, in all tongues,
are called Fools." --Shakspeare. In this country, we read that fools were considered as necessary personages, not only at court, but in most families of consequence. It was the pride, perhaps, of our ancestors, in general, to be able occasionally to triumph over their less acute or less fortunate fellowcreatures; they, therefore, felt much pleasure from the continual presence of these objects of derision. The court fools were authorised characters, who used, without regard to persons or circumstances, to afford amusement by their wit; and there are numerous wellauthenticated instances of their giving reproofs to the sovereign, upon foibles at which no other subject dared to hint.
The accounts of the household expenses of our sovereigns contain many payments and rewards to fools, both foreign and domestic, the motives for which do not
appear; but might, perhaps, have been some witty speech or comic action that had pleased the donors. Some of these payments are annual gifts at Christmas. Dr. Fuller, speaking of the court jester, whom, he says, some count a necessary evil, remarks in his usual quaint manner, that it is an office which none but he that hath wit can perform, and none but he that wants it will
perform. A great many names of these buffoons have been preserved; and sufficient materials remain to furnish a separate biography of them, which might afford even more amusement than can be found in the lives of many of their betters. They continued to be an appurtenance to the English court to a late period. Muckle John, the fool of Charles the First, and the successor of Archee Armstrong, is perhaps the last regular personage of the kind.
Of Archee Armstrong the following anecdote is related :-Prince Charles, afterwards the first king of that name in this country, was sent to Spain, as was alleged, to improve himself at that court, though his design on the Infanta was the actual motive. The Protestants fearing that his mind might become tainted by the Catholic religion, which they so much dreaded, highly disapproved of the prince's travels ; no person, however, except the fool, would venture to make such feelings known to King James; while Archee, who held that situation, hesitated not at doing so. Taking, therefore, a favourable opportunity, he solemnly proposed to the monarch to change caps, as a measure of absolute propriety: “But, why?" asked the king.
Marry,” said Archee, “because thou hast sent the prince into Spain, from whence he is never likely to return!'
Say you so?" replied the king : “and what wilt thou do when thou seest him come back again?” “Oh marry," said Archee, “that would be surprising: and I should have to take off the fool's cap, which I put upon thy head for sending him thither, and to place it on the King of Spain's for letting him return; so that, either way, I shall part with it where it will fit."
Shakspeare has given us an admirable description of a Fool, in his charming play of “ As You Like It.”
Jaq. A fool, a fool!-I met a fool i' the forest,
Duke Sen. What fool is this?
Jaq. O worthy fool!-One that hath been a courtier ;
I am ambitious for a motley coat. It may be collected, both from the plays themselves, and from various other authorities, that the costume of the domestic Fool in Shakspeare's time was of two sorts. In the first of these, the coat was motley or particoloured, and attached to the body by a girdle, with bells at the skirts and elbows, though not always. The breeches and hose close, and sometimes each leg of a different colour. A hood, resembling a monk's cowl, which, at a very early period, it was certainly designed to imitate, covered the head entirely, and fell down over part of the breast and shoulders. It was
sometimes decorated with asses' ears, or else terminated in the neck and head of a cock, a fashion as old as the fourteenth century. It often had the comb or crest only of the animal; whence the term cockscomb or coxcomb was afterwards used to denote any silly upstart. This fool usually carried in his hand an official sceptre or bauble, which was a short stick, ornamented at the end with the figure of a fool's head, or sometimes with that of a doll or puppet. To this instrument there was frequently annexed an inflated skin or bladder, with which the fool belaboured those who offended, or with whom he was inclined to make sport; this was often used by itself, in lieu, as it should seem, of a bauble. It was not always filled with air, but occasionally with sand or peas. Sometimes a strong bat or club was substituted for the bauble. Coriat, in his Crudities, speaks of
“A Whitsuntide Foole, disguised like a Foole, wearing a long coate, wherein there were many several pieces of cloth of divers colours, at the corners whereof there hanged the tails of squirrels.”
The discontinuance of the court Fool had a considerable influence on the manners of private life; and we learn from one of Shadwell's plays, that it was then “out of fashion for great men to keep Fools.” But the practice was by no means abolished; it maintained its ground, in this country, so late as the beginning of the last century; and we have an epitaph, written by Dean Swift, on Dicky Pearce, the Earl of Suffolk's Fool, who was buried in Berkley church-yard, June 18, 1728. This person was an idiot. Lord Chancellor Talbot kept a Welch jester named Rees Pengelding.
He was a very shrewd fellow, and rented a farm of his master. Being distrained on for his rent by an oppressive steward, who had been a tailor, and bore him a grudge, the surly fellow said to him, on this occasion, “I'll fit you, sirrah.” “Then,” replied Rees, “ It will be the first time in your life that you ever fitted any one.” Another Welchman, called Will the Taborer, was trained in a similar capacity, about the beginning of the last century, by Sir Edward Stradling, of St. Donat's Castle, in Glamorgan