1. POEMS ABOUT Shakespeare 6435 reads. Always been the leader of the pack this one.
2. POEMS ABOUT Language… 4045 reads. One of my favourite sections.
3. A PAPER – A Prosodic Odyssey: Sorting the sonnets from page to stage. 2351 reads. A paper on the quarto of sonnets and its contents.
4. GUEST Post: Translating Shakespeare to “Modern English”: A Defence 2198 reads. I ass u me it’s fourth deservedly so.
5. BLOG’s WEE MANIFESTO… 2093 reads. Written for the Scotsman when at the Fringe.
6. MERES- Palladis Tamia allusions 1598 1819 reads. My fifth but really sixth. Newly enlarged with links to a facsimile and that Latin translated.
We all know women, and particularly the roles Will wrote for women, were never acted by women on the Elizabethan stage. There is the exception of Moll Firth the cross dressing roaring girl who is supposed to have crashed her premiere and taken the stage. We know also of an Italian commedia del arte group that performed in England, whose main actress may have inspired Isabella in Sh’s Measure for Measure. But structurally men or boys rather took the women’s roles. (Cross-dressing seemingly being in the English genes from Panto to POW camps ever since). The French allowed women on their stages, the Spanish too. So why not the English?
So were women just tools to be manipulated by a misogynistic playwright?
Were the boy actors that good at impersonating large amounts of their audience?
English women we know accompanied one another to the theatre. And there’s the titillating aspect to be dealt with too. We know of the gentle-lady who was groped in the upper boxes finding it exciting and pleasant but revealing to hubby at home that she had been thus robbed.
Our Will don’t forget, accepting the biog as writ, had a momma from a good station in life, related peripherally to his patron the Earl of Southampton, another young man highly influenced by his mother.
There is a certain amount of rape in Sh’s early plays: 2 Gentlemen of Verona, Titus Andronicus, Venus and Adonis (a reverse rape being goddess on mortal youth), the Rape of Lucrece were all popular.
Yet in Will’s later plays, namely
Innogen (Imogen) in Cymbeline,
Portia in Merchant of Venice,
Rosalind in As You Like It,
all have the most lines and therefore carry the play. Somebody played women well. Women are integral to the telling of the majority of his plays.
Viola and Olivia in Twelfth Night are at the heart of it,
Isabella in Measure for Measure yo-yo’d between the Duke and his brother,
Helena messed around on in All’s Well that Ends Well,
Joan of Arc in Henry the Sixth part one ignites the story to a more problematic level,
Queen Margaret’s rise and decline in Henry the Sixth parts two and three, and her madness and prophesying to
Queen Elizabeth in Richard the Third,
Constance suffers a mother’s ultimate loss in King John,
Hostess tag teams Falstaff in Henry the Fourth part two,
broken-spoken franglais English Catherine in King Henry the Fifth,
Queen Katherine in King Henry the Eighth,
Marina forced into prostitution in Pericles,
steadfast Paulina in Winter’s Tale,
Miranda the only woman in the Tempest,
Tamora Goth Queen in Titus Andronicus,,
no Romeo without Juliet in Romeo and Juliet,
suffering swallowing hot coals Portia in Julius Caesar,
suicidal Ophelia and poison drink imbibing Queen Gertrude in Hamlet,
self-will’d Katherina bowing to her man (or does she) in Taming of the Shrew,
not Cressida in Troilus and Cressida,
Desdemona and Emilia both fated to die in Othello,
the two evil and self-serving older daughters Regan and Goneril,
and the good honest youngest daughter Cordelia in King Lear,
the empress Cleopatra suicided out by an asp in Antony and Cleopatra,
Lady M sent into madness in Macbeth,
Volumnia reminding her boy of his civic duties in Coriolanus.
Now a whole bunch of other girls arise as support and to enliven the situation in subtle ways.
Anyways here’s the list of female roles with their line counts:
ROSALIND As You Like It Female 685. That’s twice as many lines as Orlando who’s 2nd in amount of lines. Let’s not forget she is dressed as the boy Ganymede for more than half the play.
CLEOPATRA Antony and Cleopatra Female 678. All woman this one. Anthony is first in line count with 839.
INNOGEN Cymbeline Female 594. Leads the line count above Postumus, Iachimo, Belarius with the title character in fifth place.
PORTIA The Merchant of Venice Female 574. Leads the line count above Shylock and Bassanio. Lest we forget she does dress as a man boy to defend the merchant in Court.
JULIET Romeo and Juliet Female 542. All girlie girlie and stays so, second in line count after Romeo.
HELENA All’s Well That Ends Well Female 478. The original orphan Annie helped by the Countess of Roussillon to gain her ingrate son. Leads the line count and perfects the bed-trick ie swopping the partner so someone is sleeping with someone they think is someone else.
ISABELLA Measure for Measure Female 424. Second in line count stuck between the Duke in 1st place and his brother Angelo in 3rd place. The poor virgin struggles to maintain her maidenhead between these two and is the play’s ultimate loser. Silenced or made tongue-tied by authority as sonnet 66 says.
DESDEMONA Othello Female 391
VIOLA Twelfth Night Female 335
PAULINA The Winter’s Tale Female 332
MISTRESS PAGE The Merry Wives of Windsor Female 328
JULIA The Two Gentlemen of Verona Female 322
QUEEN Henry VI Part 2 Female 316
OLIVIA Twelfth Night Female 314
VOLUMNIA Coriolanus Female 311
CRESSIDA Troilus and Cressida Female 301
COUNTESS All’s Well That Ends Well Female 291
PRINCESS Love’s Labour’s Lost Female 288
CELIA As You Like It Female 282
QUEEN Henry VI Part 3 Female 279
BEATRICE Much Ado About Nothing Female 279
NURSE Romeo and Juliet Female 277
QUEEN ELIZABETH Richard III Female 272
CONSTANCE King John Female 264
ADRIANA The Comedy of Errors Female 263
QUEEN KATHERINE Henry VIII Female 261
LADY Macbeth Female 259
TAMORA Titus Andronicus Female 257
PUCELLE Henry VI Part 1 Female 254
EMILIA Othello Female 243
MISTRESS QUICKLY The Merry Wives of Windsor Female 236
HELENA A Midsummer Night’s Dream Female 230
KATHERINA The Taming of the Shrew Female 221
QUEEN MARGARET Richard III Female 218
COUNTESS King Edward III Female 214
HERMIONE The Winter’s Tale Female 211
GONERILL King Lear Female 199
MISTRESS FORD The Merry Wives of Windsor Female 192
MARINA Pericles Female 190
REGAN King Lear Female 190
OPHELIA Hamlet Female 173
HOSTESS Henry IV Part 2 Female 171
QUEEN Cymbeline Female 168
ROSALINE Love’s Labour’s Lost Female 165
HERMIA A Midsummer Night’s Dream Female 164
SILVIA The Two Gentlemen of Verona Female 158
QUEEN Hamlet Female 157
ANNE Richard III Female 157
MIRANDA The Tempest Female 153
MARIA Twelfth Night Female 149
DUCHESS OF YORK Richard III Female 141
TITANIA A Midsummer Night’s Dream Female 141
DIANA All’s Well That Ends Well Female 138
HERO Much Ado About Nothing Female 132
PERDITA The Winter’s Tale Female 126
DUCHESS Henry VI Part 2 Female 119
CORDELIA King Lear Female 117
KATHERINE Henry VIII Female 115
QUEEN ISABEL Richard II Female 115
LADY CAPULET Romeo and Juliet Female 115
CHARMIAN Antony and Cleopatra Female 109
BAWD Pericles Female 104
And beyond this a further 100 odd female characters with under a hundred lines. So yes there are enough women in Will to study. We think Will knew his women would one day be played by women. That said. Tina Packer is coming to Europe soon. This would be scanned some more…
Bénigne de Bacilly’s treatise,
Remarques curieuses de l’art de bien chanter,
first published in 1668, is typical of mid-to-late 17thC French treatises on music
in its application of rhetorical principles to performance.
Here, he states that singing airs is analogous to declaiming a discourse
– ‘one must know how to sing well and declaim well at the same time’ –
alluding only to the fifth part of rhetoric, actio.
The emphasis in Bacilly’s treatise upon pronunciation
underscores the dominance of performance over composition
in the seventeenth-century musical experience in France;
thus, as Bacilly insists, the rules that govern singing
French-language airs must also apply to their composition.
Strategies related to actio provided composers with a means
of fulfilling vocal music’s primary aesthetic function,
a function it shared with oration:
moving the passions associated with a text and its recitation.
Just how this was accomplished is articulated in treatises on rhetoric, not music.
Rhetoricians identify two ways in which passions are represented in recitation:
NOMBRE or the rates of speech
ACCENS or tones of voice.
Nombre is specifically addressed by Bernard Lamy who was concerned with
the physiological and psychological effects of various qualities of sound
in his De l’art de parler, first published in 1675.
Although Lamy considers only language in his treatise,
his advice was easily applicable to another sound source:
And indeed, in his
L’Art de la poësie françoise et latine avec une idée de la musique
from 1694, Pherotée de la Croix applied Lamy’s theories to musical sounds.
Those sections of La Croix’s treatise that concern music
were copied directly from Lamy’s treatise,
differing only by adding the word ‘music’ to Lamy’s statements.
Both Lamy and La Croix stress
the effects on the soul
of the numerical proportions of speech called nombre.
La Croix, copying directly from Lamy, writes:
‘one calls number, in the art of speaking and of singing,
what the ears perceive as proportionate in the recitation of a discourse,
either following the proportion of the measure of time,
or according to the just distribution of the intervals of breath.’
Both Lamy and La Croix assert that
‘proportion in the pronunciation
of discourse and music is linked to the passions’.
As La Croix points out:
‘It is a question of making the numbers conform to the things one expresses,
in order to excite with success the movements (passions) that one wants.’
Several rhetoricians also describe
the tones of voice, called
associated with passionate recitation,
defined by Marin Mersenne as
‘an inflection or modification of the voice or of the word
by which one expresses the passions
or affections naturally
or by artifice.’
Mersenne notes that
‘la musique accentuelle’
incorporates the accents
used for raising or lowering syllables
(l’aigu and le grave
or high and low accents)
and must be accompanied by a quickness
or slowness of movement (nombre).
Rhetoricians indicate, for example,
that boldness or courage is characterized by
a voice that is lofty, forceful, and full of energy,
while happiness is portrayed by
a voice that is easy, brisk, and flowing.
Both rates of speech and tones of voice combine to express passion,
and both could be easily imitated through a variety of musical devices:
rates of speech primarily through the interplay of rhythm and metre and
tones of voice through melody and harmony.
In setting a poem to music as a type of persuasive discourse,
composers had to take into account the text,
and, in the words of Lamy,
its accessory meaning
or passionate associations.
Poems used by mid-seventeenth-century composers
are rich in words
that invite affective representation,
the passions themselves being frequently indicated by name.
There is a consistent correlation throughout the repertory
between a passion named in a text and its musical setting.
if the passion is not named but implied in the meaning of a phrase,
similar expressions receive similar musical treatment.
In airs written during the 1650s and 1660s, particularly by composers
Michel Lambert, Bénigne de Bacilly, Sébastien Le Camus, and Joseph Chabanceau de la Barre,
seven passions dominate and are given special musical treatment.
The agitated passions,
so identified by seventeenth-century rhetoricians,
1. despair or hopelessness;
2. boldness, particularly in commands or emphatic statements;
3. and the burning fires of love.
The moderate passions
5. languor, and
6. tender love;
and the neutral passion,
When considering affective representation in music,
it is important to realize that seventeenth-century theorists,
among them René Descartes and Mersenne,
considered certain musical devices
to be strong
and others, weak.
Melodic and bass line ascents were considered strong,
while descents, weak;
a high tessitura, strong;
a low tessitura, weak;
large verbal units, strong,
and small verbal units, weak.
Chords in root position built on the first and fifth notes of the mode
were considered strong,
while first inversion chords, weak;
large and expanded intervals (fifths, fourths, and tritones)
were considered strong,
and narrow intervals, particularly minor seconds, weak.
Major thirds and sixths were considered strong,
though not as strong as fourths and fifths,
while minor thirds and sixths, weak.
And finally, most dissonances were considered strong.
Defined and examined in 17thC French treatises on rhetoric
by Abbé de Bretteville, René Bary, Jean-Léonor Le Gallois,
Sieur de Grimarest, and Michel Le Faucheur,
and by Descartes in his ‘treatise on the passions’
Brief descriptions of these passions are given below.
(No they’re not it’s the end of the post)
The descriptions are accompanied by a list of musical devices
generally used to represent each passion as well as
musical examples from airs by Lambert and Bacilly.
We need to source this pdf asap.
Shakespeare never mentions Tarot cards. And Lewis in King John has this to say about cards:
Have I not here the best cards for the game,
To win this easy match play’d for a crown?
And shall I now give o’er the yielded set?
No, no, on my soul, it never shall be said.
According to this website they have been around since the Renaissance and earlier.
Naturally the tarot forum has a discussion about this subject and are generally in agreement Shakespeare did make use of the emblem books of the time and perhaps saw a deck or two.
Although playing tarot never became popular in England, there is no reason why some people might not have known it. Particularly Francophiles.
The earliest reference to tarot in England is in 1592, in a French conversation book by “G. De La Mothe” (usually known as G. Delamothe) called “The French Alphabet”. It is a collection of phrases, and one phrase says:”A quel jeu voulez vous jouer? Voulez vous jouer aux Dames aux Des, aux Tarots, aux Eschets, etc.” The English translation he provides is: “What game will you play? Will you play at tables, at Dyce, at Tarots, at Chesses, etc.”
For a description of this book (but not the quote), see e.g. -
“It is by someone calling himself G.(Guilliaum?) De la Mothe (= de la Motte). Who better than an English word-smith, who had just spent up to three or four years in France, to write such a book?
The third part of The French Alphabet is a collection of over six hundred “sentences, similes, apothegmes and golden sayings of the most excellent French Authors, as well poets as orators”, all translated into English (translators, of course, usually work into their native language, rather than from it). This would be a priceless collection for any playwright, whether interested in French or not, and appears closely to resemble the Promus and similar items among the Le Doux papers.”
Shakespeare mentions cards and uses card metaphors many times. I’m with those who don’t see a direct allusion to tarot cards, but there is no historical reason he couldn’t have known about it.
Ross G Caldwell
BTW, the second mention of tarot cards in English that I know of is in an Italian-English dictionary written by John Florio, “A Worlde of Wordes”, first published in 1598 and in a second edition in 1611.
Under “Tarocchi” in the first edition, it reads: “A kinde of playing cardes used in Italy, called terrestriall triumphes”.
The second edition omits a reference to Italy and mentions the German-sounding name “tarocks” – “A kinde of playing cardes called Tarocks or Terrestriall triumphs”.
As a Shakespeare enthusiast people buy me anything related to the man. I own 3 decks of Tarot or Oracle cards, one Dutch one English and a third called the Renaissance Tarot. I rarely use them but have of late to pass away the time.
The following descriptions come from The Shakespeare Oracle:
The Major Arcana:
0 FOOL – Feste
1 MAGICIAN – Shakespeare
2 ABBESS – Aemilia (appears at the end of Comedy of Errors)
3 EMPRESS – Queen Elizabeth
4 EMPEROR – Henry VIII
5 HIEROPHANT – Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester (youngest son of Henry 4th and brother to Henry V)
6 LOVERS – Romeo and Juliet
7 CHARIOT – King Henry V
8 JUSTICE – Portia
9 HERMIT – Caliban
10 WHEEL OF FORTUNE – Fortune Theatre
11 STRENGTH/LUST – Katherine & Petruchio
12 HANGED MAN – Hamlet
13 DEATH – Lear
14 TEMPERANCE – Prospero
15 DEVIL – Puck
16 TOWER – Timon
17 STAR – Cleopatra
18 MOON – Three Witches
19 SUN – King of Navarre/ Princess of France (Ferdinand & unnamed Princess)
20 JUDGEMENT – Vincentio (Duke of Vienna in Measure for Measure)
21 WORLD – Globe Theatre
The Minor Arcana:
Lady of Chalices – Rosalind
Lord of Chalices – Valentine
Queen of Chalices – Hermione
King of Chalices – Antony
Suit cards 1-10
Chalices represent those qualities that are fluid, inward looking, and life sustaining. This is the suit of emotions, relationships, and reflection.
Lady of Coins – Mistress Page
Lord of Coins – Falstaff
Queen of Coins – Helena
King of Coins – Shylock
Suit cards 1-10
Coins represent the mind working at the real world, physical level. This is the suit of material concerns, security, worth, practicality, and prosperity.
Lady of Quills – Viola
Lord of Quills – Armado
Queen of Quills – Beatrice
King of Quills – RIchard 2nd & Henry Bolingbroke
Suit cards 1-10
Quills represent abstract, theoretical applications of the mind. This is the suit of intellect, reason, creativity, problem solving, communication, truth, and justice.
Lady of Sceptres – Volumnia
Lord of Sceptres – Richard Plantagenet
Queen of Sceptres – Katherine of Aragon
King of Sceptres – Philip the Bastard
Suit cards 1-10
Sceptres represent energy and action. This is the suit of physical force, play, travel, inspiration, impulse, ambition, and self-growth.
Each suit has cards numbered 1-10. These refer to experiences, ordinary aspects of day-to-day life, actions, objectives, decisions, situations, and your responses to them, motives, reasons, justifications, goals, hopes, fears, and how your actions affect others. They lend insight into the ‘why’ of your actions and suggest ways to adjust and rethink.
Each number regardless of its suit holds some general meanings:
1. the essence and all of the potential of the suit, beginnings, foundation
2. opposites, conflict, decisions, duality, partnership, relationship
3. growth, results, action, synthesis, collaboration, plans, enthusiasm
4. stability, solidity, organisation, logic, security, order, discipline
5. mutability, change, uncertainty, loss, regret, obstacles ahead
6. advancement, prospective, thurning point, balance, social concerns
7. tension between creativity and reality, valor, end of phase, progress, wisdom
8. balance of opposing forces, setting priorities, interference, transformation
9. inner strength, achievement, fulfillment, perfection, bringing to conclusion
10. responsibilities, completion, wisdom from experience, culmination
Well it’s not just for Shakespeare, but he is mentioned in the same breath as Ovid and Horace and several contemporaries. My latin is lesse than Shakespeare’s so I called in help from visiting linguist David Crystal for a little pre-prandial translation. Several observations arose from this. Firstly that your average Elizabethan would have been much more strict in his Latin spelling than his Englishe. Secondly how close to sonnets 55 (Not marble, nor the gilded monuments of Princes shall outlive this powerful rime) and 65 (Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor war’s quick fire shall burn the living record of your memory) these praises are.
Iamque opus exegi, quod nec jovis ira, nec ignis,
nec poterit ferrum, nec edax abolere vetustas;
I have now completed a work that neither the wrath of Jove, nor fire,
nor sword, nor the devouring of time can destroy;
and as Horace saieth of his,
exegi monumentum aere perennius
regalique situ pyramidus altius,
quod non imber edax, non Aquilo impotens
possit diruere, aut innumerabilis
annorum series et fuga temporum:
I have created a monument more lasting than bronze,
And higher than the royal site of the pyramids,
Which neither harsh rains nor the wild North wind
can wear away, nor the countless succession of years
and the flight of the seasons.
so I say severally of Sir Philip Sidney’s, Spenser’s, Daniel’s, Drayton’s, Shakespeare’s, and Warner’s workes,
Non Iovis ira, imbres, Mars, ferrum, flamma, senectus,
hoc opus, unda, lues, turbo, venena ruent,
et quanquam ad pulcherrimum hoc opus evertendum,
tres illi Dii conspirabunt, Chronus, Vulcanus, et Pater ipse gentis.
Non tamen annorum series, non flamma, nec ensis;
Aeternum potuit hoc abolere Decus.
It is not the anger of Jove, storms, Mars, the sword, flame, old age,
the wave, plague, whirlwind, poison will bring this work to ruin,
and though there should be a conspiracy of the three Gods,
Chronus, Vulcan, and Jupiter (the Father of the nation)
for the overthrowing of this most beautiful work,
Not, however, the succession of years, nor flame,
nor sword will destroy this eternal splendour.
The first observation of the spelling came from some badly spelled Latin in my email, which I had transcribed (word for word) and not transliterated (letter for letter) the excerpt from Palladis Tamia pages 318-19. Yes i’d never made the distinction before either, but he is a linguist. BTW I was the guilty party (keyboard slip: n for m) and unfortunately for the laugh it wasn’t Meres Latin that was at fault.
Also interesting from a linguistic point of view:
as there are eight famous and chief languages,
Hebrew, Greek, Latine, Syriack, Arabicke, Italian, Spanish, and French:
so there are eight notable several kinds of poets,
Heroick, Lyricke, Tragicke, Comicke, Satiricke, Iambicke, Elegiacke, and Pastoral.
Shakespeare is then mentioned as excelling in lyric and tragedy and comedy (mentioned together with Edward, Earl of Oxforde being first on the list as his rank deserved). But the genres of poetry take away from the third observation: the 8 famous and chiefe languages.
Syriac. Seriously? The rest i can understand, but Syriac? The first either myself or DC had heard of it in relation to the Elizabethans. A quick google found that Syriac Renaissance happened from the 11thC to 13thC.
Syriac is a literary language formed from Aramaic. Wiki saieth: There has been a continuous stream of Syriac literature from the fourteenth century through to the present day. The first such flourishing of Neo-Syriac was the seventeenth century literature of the School of Alqosh, in northern Iraq.
(too late for Meres who printed Palladis Tamia in 1598.
But as Wiki saieth:
Francis Meres (1565 – 29 January 1647) was an English churchman and author.
He was born at Kirton in the Holland division of Lincolnshire in 1565. He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he received a B.A. in 1587 and an M.A. in 1591).
Maybe the church is the connection but he speaks of the 8 famous languages as if everybody knew this. Copasetically enough there are 8 mentions of Syria in the plays…
OK 2 of them are in the word Assyrian.
Well we can be certain that Shakespeare wrote these plays, even if we can’t decide when and where they were first performed. Which is odd. Given the mass of evidence that they were played from Inns at Court to revel’s accounts for Court. Richard Burbage, when and where did he and Shakespeare first meet? His dad is reputed to have relatives in Stratford. Clue? No. It leads nowhere. Curious? Yes. Time will tell.
‘A funerall Elegy on the death of the famous Actor Richard Burbage:
who died on Saturday in Lent, the 13th of March 1618′.
Although there were earlier transcripts of the text,
it was first published in 1825 in The Gentleman’s Magazine:
KING LEAR.org our source.
The Play now ended, think his grave to be
The retiring house of his sad Tragedie,
Where to give his fame this, be not afraid,
Here lies the best Tragedian ever played.
No more young Hamlet though but scant of breath
Shall cry revenge for his dear father’s death:
Poor Romeo never more shall tears beget
For Juliet’s love and cruel Capulet;
Harry shall not be seen as King or Prince,
They died with thee, Dear Dick -
Not to revive again. Jeronimo
Shall cease to mourn his son Horatio;
They shall not call thee from thy naked bed
By horrid outcry; and Antonio’s dead.
Edward shall lack a representative,
And Crookback, as befits, shall cease to live.
Tyrant Macbeth, with unwash’d bloody hand
We vainly now may hope to understand.
Brutus and Marcius henceforth must be dumb,
For ne’er thy like upon our stage shall come
To charm the faculty of eyes and ears,
Unless we could command the dead to rise.
Vindex is gone, and what a loss was he!
Frankford, Brachiano and Malevolo
Heart-broke Philaster and Amintas too
Are lost forever; with the red-haired Jew,
Which sought the bankrupt merchant’s pound of flesh,
By woman-lawyer caught in his own mesh.
What a wide world was in that little space,
Thyself a world, the Globe thy fittest place!
Thy stature small, but every thought and mood
Might thoroughly from thy face be understood,
And his whole action he could change with ease
From Ancient Lear to youthful Pericles.
But let me not forget one chiefest part
Wherein beyond the rest, he moved the heart,
The grieved Moor, made jealous by a slave
Who sent his wife to fill a timeless grave,
Then slew himself upon the bloody bed.
All these and many more with him are dead,
Thereafter must our poets leave to write.
Since thou art gone, dear Dick, a tragic night
Will wrap our black-hung stage. He made a Poet,
And those who yet remain full surely know it;
For having Burbadge to give forth each line
It filled their brain with fury more divine.
How Tarleton adopted Armin to be his successor:
(You can look at the entire jest book here).
Tarlton keeping a tavern in Gracious Street  he let it
to another, who was indebted to Armin’s master, a gold
smith in Lombard Street: yet he himself had a chamber
in the same house. And this Armin being then a wag came
often to demand  his master’s money, which he
sometimes had and sometimes had not: in the end the man
growing poor, told the boy he had no money for his master,
and he must bear with him. The man’s name being Char-
les, Armin made this verse, writing it with chalk on a
ARMIN, ROBERT (fl. 1610), actor and dramatist, was living in 1610. From a chapter in ‘Tarlton’s Jests and News out of Purgatory,’ 1611, headed ‘How Tarlton made Armin his adopted son to succeed him,’ we learn that Armin was apprenticed to a goldsmith in Lombard Street; that he became acquainted with Richard Tarlton, the famous performer of clowns and jesters in Queen Elizabeth’s time; that Tarlton prophesied that Armin should be his successor in clown’s parts; and that Armin, from his regard for Tarlton, frequented the plays in which he acted and perhaps acquired something of his humour. Afterwards Armin was able to display his own abilities as an actor at the Globe Theatre on the Bankside. Tarlton died in 1588. If his pupil Armin was then seventeen or so, he was born about 1570, and must have been an actor of some position when, in 1603, James I. granted his patent to the players, wherein the name of Armin comes last but one. He is supposed to be the Robert Armin who was the author of ‘A Brief Resolution of the Right Religion,’ printed in 1590, and of other publications, and who was described in ‘Pierce’s Supererogation,’ 1593, as one of ‘the common pamphleteers of London.’ The name of Robert Armin is also attached to a publication in 1604, entitled ‘A True Discourse of the practices of Elizabeth Caldwell and others to poison her husband.’ Armin was probably a member of the company of actors performing under the patronage of Lord Chandos. He is believed to have joined the Lord Chamberlain’s players in 1598, and to have accompanied them, to Scotland in the following year. In 1608 he published a work called ‘A Nest of Ninnies’ (reprinted by the Shakspeare Society), and in 1609, styling himself ‘servant to the King’s most excellent Majesty,’ he printed a play: ‘The Two Maids of More Clacke, with the Life and simple manner of John in the Hospital,’ as it was acted by ‘the children of the King’s Majesty’s Revels.’ Armin is enumerated as one of the original representatives of Ben Jonson’s ‘Alchemist’ in 1610. From a passage in Armin’s next tract, ‘The Italian Tailor and his Boy,’ 1609, it has been concluded that Armin had played the part of Dogberry, succeeding to that duty upon the death or the departure from the Lord Chamberlain’s players of William Kemp, the original Dogberry. About 1611 John Davies of Hereford published his ‘Scourge of Folly,’ in which a long ‘epigram’ was devoted to ‘honest gamesome Kobin Armin,’ and testimony was borne to the worth of his private character, and the excellence of his public performances. In 1615 was published a play, the ‘Valiant Welshman,’ purporting to have been written by R. A.: the publisher may have wished the public to infer that Robert Armin was the author. The date of his death is not known. The London parish registers have been vainly searched for evidence of his burial. Apparently he left no will, nor were there issued any letters of administration of his estate.
[Memoirs of the Principal Actors in the Plays of Shakespeare, by J. Payne Collier, 1846; Langbaine's Account of the English Dramatic Poets, 1691.]
(and the poem that got him the part:
O world how wilt thou lie,
is this Charles the great that I deny:
Indeed Charles the great before,
But now Charles the less, being poor.
Let: A letting for hire or rent. Oxford English Dictionary
Wag: A mischievous boy; a habitual joker. Oxford English Dictionary
Wainscot: trans. To line (a wall, roof, etc.) with panel-work of wood. Oxford English Dictionary
Goldsmith: A worker in gold; one who fashions gold into jewels, ornaments, articles of plate, etc. Oxford English Dictionary
? Also known as Gracechurch Street, it was the part of Bishopsgate Street south of Cornhill which contain two of the main inn-playhouses: the Bell and the Cross keys.
? Robert Armin was a boy whom Richard Tarlton takes as his adopted son in this jest. He ends up becoming the next clown of the Queen’s Men after Tarlton’s death.
? Lombard Street is a street named after the bankers that originally occupied it. It intersects Gracious Street a little south of the inn in which this takes place.
? ed. Originally “often thither to demand…”
? This panel-work would reach about waist high and would be on all the walls in many inns.
We know of but one letter to Shakespeare in his lifetime written by his friend Richard Quiney on 25th october 1598.
1598 Oct 25 Letter from Richard Quiney asking for a L30 loan. This is the only letter that has ever been found addressed to William Shakspere of Stratford. It is addressed “H[aste] To my Loveinge good ffrend & contreymann Mr Wm. Shackespere deliver thees.” (Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office, MS. ER 27/4.)
Loveinge Contreyman, I am bolde of yowe as of a ffrende, craveinge yowre helpe with xxxll vppon Mr Bushells & my securytee or Mr Myttons with me. Mr Rosswell is nott come to London as yeate & I have especiall cawse. Yowe shall ffrende me muche in helpeinge me out of all the debettes I owe in London, I thancke god, & muche quiet my mynde which wolde nott be indebeted. I am nowe towardes the Cowrte in hope of answer for the dispatche of my Buysenes. Yowe shall neither loase creddytt nor monney by me, the Lorde wyllinge, & nowe butt perswade yowre selfe soe as I hope & yowe shall nott need to feare butt with all hartie thanckefullenes I will holde my tyme & content yowre ffrende, & yf we Bargaine farther yowe shalbe the paiemaster yowre self. My tyme biddes me hasten to an ende & soe I committ thys [to] yowre care & hope of yowre helpe. I feare I shall nott be backe thys night ffrom the Cowrte. Haste. The Lorde be with yowe & with vs all Amen. ffrom the Bell in Carter Lane the 25 October 1598. Yowres in all kyndenes Ryc. Quyney.
(handwritten) (EKC II, 102; SS 180, with facs.)
11c. 1598 Nov 4 Letter from Abraham Sturley to Richard Quiney. It is addressed: “To his most lovinge brother, Mr Richard Quinej, att the Bell in Carterlane att London, geve these.” (Misc. Document 1, 136, Birthplace Museum, Stratford).
Abraham Sturley mentioned above wrote a letter before all of this to his brother in which he says:
1598-1-24: Letter. Abraham Sturley wrote to his brother-in-law that
“our countriman mr Shaksper is willing to disburse some monei upon some od yardeland or other Shottrei or neare about us…”
(Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office, Misc. Doc. I, 135).
The Shakespeare as property buyer and money-lender had some basis in historical fact.
That Shakespeare never once wrote to his wife, as Edward Alleyne did, adds perhaps fuel to the idea that he didn’t like his wife. Ben Jonson wrote letters too and was the subject of letters.
But that Shakespeare didn’t write letters is nonsense. His plays are full of them.
All’s Well’s Helena reads letter from Bertram to the Countess:
Look on his letter, madam; here’s my passport.
When thou canst get the ring upon my finger which
never shall come off, and show me a child begotten
of thy body that I am father to, then call me 1460
husband: but in such a ‘then’ I write a ‘never.’
Till I have no wife I have nothing in France.’
Tullus Aufidius this in Coriolanus:
Is it not yours?
What ever have been thought on in this state,
That could be brought to bodily act ere Rome
Had circumvention? ‘Tis not four days gone
Since I heard thence; these are the words: I think
I have the letter here; yes, here it is.
‘They have press’d a power, but it is not known
Whether for east or west: the dearth is great;
The people mutinous; and it is rumour’d,
Cominius, CORIOLANUS your old enemy,
Who is of Rome worse hated than of you,
And Titus TITUS, a most valiant Roman,
These three lead on this preparation
Whither ’tis bent: most likely ’tis for you:
Consider of it.’
Imogen reads a letter from Posthumus her husband shown by Pisanio their servant:
[Reads] ‘Thy mistress, Pisanio, hath played the
strumpet in my bed; the testimonies whereof lie
bleeding in me. I speak not out of weak surmises,
but from proof as strong as my grief and as certain
as I expect my revenge. That part thou, Pisanio,
must act for me, if thy faith be not tainted with
the breach of hers. Let thine own hands take away
her life: I shall give thee opportunity at
Milford-Haven. She hath my letter for the purpose
where, if thou fear to strike and to make me certain
it is done, thou art the pandar to her dishonour and
equally to me disloyal.’
Later in Act 5 the soothsayer reads this:
‘When as a lion’s whelp shall, to himself
unknown, without seeking find, and be embraced by a
piece of tender air; and when from a stately cedar
shall be lopped branches, which, being dead many
years, shall after revive, be jointed to the old
stock, and freshly grow; then shall Posthumus end
his miseries, Britain be fortunate and flourish in
peace and plenty.’
Thou, Leonatus, art the lion’s whelp;
The fit and apt construction of thy name,
Being Leonatus, doth import so much.
The piece of tender air, thy virtuous daughter,
Which we call ‘mollis aer;’ and ‘mollis aer’
We term it ‘mulier:’ which ‘mulier’ I divine
Is this most constant wife; who, even now,
Answering the letter of the oracle,
Unknown to you, unsought, were clipp’d about
With this most tender air.
The Hamlet plot turns also on letters.
The first of which Polonius reads to the King and Queen:
‘To the celestial, and my soul’s idol, the most beautified Ophelia,’
That’s an ill phrase, a vile phrase; ‘beautified’ is a vile phrase.
But you shall hear. Thus:
‘In her excellent white bosom, these, &c.’
Gertrude. Came this from Hamlet to her?
Polonius. Good madam, stay awhile. I will be faithful. [Reads.]
‘Doubt thou the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt I love.
‘O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers; I have not art to
reckon my groans; but that I love thee best, O most best, believe
‘Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this machine is to
Later Hamlet sends letters to Horatio for the King via some pirates he befriended whilst at sea.
‘Horatio, when thou shalt have overlook’d
this, give these fellows some means to the King. They have
letters for him. Ere we were two days old at sea, a pirate of
very warlike appointment gave us chase. Finding ourselves too
slow of sail, we put on a compelled valour, and in the grapple I
boarded them. On the instant they got clear of our ship; so I
alone became their prisoner. They have dealt with me like thieves
of mercy; but they knew what they did: I am to do a good turn for
them. Let the King have the letters I have sent, and repair thou
to me with as much speed as thou wouldst fly death. I have words
to speak in thine ear will make thee dumb; yet are they much too
light for the bore of the matter. These good fellows will bring
thee where I am. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern hold their course
for England. Of them I have much to tell thee. Farewell.
‘He that thou knowest thine, HAMLET.’
And perhaps Hamlet voices Shakespeare’s own thoughts on writing letters in this exchange about the commissioned letter Rosencrantz and Guildernstern were carrying to the King of England.
Hamlet. Here’s the commission; read it at more leisure.
But wilt thou bear me how I did proceed?
Horatio. I beseech you.
Hamlet. Being thus benetted round with villanies,
Or I could make a prologue to my brains,
They had begun the play. I sat me down;
Devis’d a new commission; wrote it fair.
I once did hold it, as our statists do,
A baseness to write fair, and labour’d much
How to forget that learning; but, sir, now
It did me yeoman’s service. Wilt thou know
Th’ effect of what I wrote?
Horatio. Ay, good my lord.
Hamlet. An earnest conjuration from the King,
As England was his faithful tributary,
As love between them like the palm might flourish,
As peace should still her wheaten garland wear
And stand a comma ‘tween their amities,
And many such-like as’s of great charge,
That, on the view and knowing of these contents,
Without debatement further, more or less,
He should the bearers put to sudden death,
Not shriving time allow’d.
Horatio. How was this seal’d?
Hamlet. Why, even in that was heaven ordinant.
I had my father’s signet in my purse,
Which was the model of that Danish seal;
Folded the writ up in the form of th’ other,
Subscrib’d it, gave’t th’ impression, plac’d it safely,
The changeling never known. Now, the next day
Was our sea-fight; and what to this was sequent
Thou know’st already.
In Henry 4 part 2, Bardolph delivers Falstaff’s letter, which Poins and Prince Hal peruse,
before deciding to play a trick on him at Gadshill:
Bardolph. Well, my lord. He heard of your Grace’s coming to
There’s a letter for you.
Edward Poins. Deliver’d with good respect. And how doth the martlemas,
Bardolph. In bodily health, sir.
Edward Poins. Marry, the immortal part needs a physician; but that
not him. Though that be sick, it dies not.
Henry V. I do allow this well to be as familiar with me as my
dog and he holds his place, for look you how he writes.
Edward Poins. [Reads] ‘John Falstaff, knight’—Every man must know
as oft as he has occasion to name himself, even like those
are kin to the King; for they never prick their finger but
say ‘There’s some of the King’s blood spilt.’ ‘How comes
says he that takes upon him not to conceive. The answer is as
ready as a borrower’s cap: ‘I am the King’s poor cousin,
Henry V. Nay, they will be kin to us, or they will fetch it from
Japhet. But the letter: [Reads] ‘Sir John Falstaff, knight,
the son of the King nearest his father, Harry Prince of
Edward Poins. Why, this is a certificate.
Henry V. Peace! [Reads] ‘I will imitate the honourable Romans
Edward Poins. He sure means brevity in breath, short-winded.
Henry V. [Reads] ‘I commend me to thee, I commend thee, and I
leave thee. Be not too familiar with Poins; for he misuses
favours so much that he swears thou art to marry his sister
Repent at idle times as thou mayst, and so farewell.
Thine, by yea and no—which is as much as to say as
thou usest him—JACK FALSTAFF with my familiars,
JOHN with my brothers and sisters, and SIR JOHN with
In Julius Caesar a letter is delivered to Brutus:
Brutus. The exhalations whizzing in the air
Give so much light that I may read by them.
[Opens the letter and reads]
‘Brutus, thou sleep’st: awake, and see thyself.
Shall Rome, &c. Speak, strike, redress!
Brutus, thou sleep’st: awake!’
Such instigations have been often dropp’d
Where I have took them up.
‘Shall Rome, &c.’ Thus must I piece it out:
Shall Rome stand under one man’s awe? What, Rome?
My ancestors did from the streets of Rome
The Tarquin drive, when he was call’d a king.
‘Speak, strike, redress!’ Am I entreated
To speak and strike? O Rome, I make thee promise:
If the redress will follow, thou receivest
Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus!
In King Lear, kent receives a letter from Cordelia:
Earl of Kent.
Good King, that must approve the common saw,
Thou out of heaven’s benediction com’st
To the warm sun!
Approach, thou beacon to this under globe,
That by thy comfortable beams I may
Peruse this letter. Nothing almost sees miracles
But misery. I know ’tis from Cordelia,
Who hath most fortunately been inform’d
Of my obscured course- and [reads]
‘shall find time
From this enormous state, seeking to give
Losses their remedies’-
All weary and o’erwatch’d,
Take vantage, heavy eyes, not to behold
This shameful lodging.
Fortune, good night; smile once more, turn thy wheel.
In another sub-plot plot turn,
Edmund the bastard tricks his father with a letter
from his legitimate son Edgar:
Edmund, how now? What news?
Edmund. So please your lordship, none.
[Puts up the letter.]
Earl of Gloucester. Why so earnestly seek you to put up that letter?
Edmund. I know no news, my lord.
Earl of Gloucester. What paper were you reading?
Edmund. Nothing, my lord.
Earl of Gloucester. No? What needed then that terrible dispatch of it into your
pocket? The quality of nothing hath not such need to hide
itself. Let’s see. Come, if it be nothing, I shall not need
Edmund. I beseech you, sir, pardon me. It is a letter from my brother
that I have not all o’er-read; and for so much as I have
perus’d, I find it not fit for your o’erlooking.
Earl of Gloucester. Give me the letter, sir.
Edmund. I shall offend, either to detain or give it. The contents,
in part I understand them, are to blame.
Earl of Gloucester. Let’s see, let’s see!
Edmund. I hope, for my brother’s justification, he wrote this but as
an essay or taste of my virtue.
Earl of Gloucester. [reads]
‘This policy and reverence of age makes the world
bitter to the best of our times; keeps our fortunes from us
till our oldness cannot relish them. I begin to find an idle
and fond bondage in the oppression of aged tyranny, who sways,
not as it hath power, but as it is suffer’d. Come to me, that
of this I may speak more. If our father would sleep till I
wak’d him, you should enjoy half his revenue for ever, and live
the beloved of your brother,
My son Edgar! Had he a hand to write this? a heart
and brain to breed it in? When came this to you? Who brought it?
Edmund. It was not brought me, my lord: there’s the cunning of it. I
found it thrown in at the casement of my closet.
Earl of Gloucester. You know the character to be your brother’s?
Edmund. If the matter were good, my lord, I durst swear it were his;
but in respect of that, I would fain think it were not.
Earl of Gloucester. It is his.
Edmund. It is his hand, my lord; but I hope his heart is not in the
A reversal of the plot turns Edgar into the one who intercepts letters meant for Edmund from Lear’s daughter Goneril. Edgar has killed her servant Oswald, who carried the letters.
Edgar. Sit you down, father; rest you.
Let’s see his pockets; these letters that he speaks of
May be my friends. He’s dead. I am only sorry
He had no other deathsman. Let us see.
Leave, gentle wax; and, manners, blame us not.
To know our enemies’ minds, we’ld rip their hearts;
Their papers, is more lawful. Reads the letter.
‘Let our reciprocal vows be rememb’red. You have many
opportunities to cut him off. If your will want not, time and
place will be fruitfully offer’d. There is nothing done, if he
return the conqueror. Then am I the prisoner, and his bed my
jail; from the loathed warmth whereof deliver me, and supply the
place for your labour.
‘Your (wife, so I would say) affectionate servant, ‘Goneril.’
Love’s Labours Lost also contains letters. This time for comic effect about the dullard Costard written by Don Armado:
Ferdinand. Will you hear this letter with attention?
Biron. As we would hear an oracle.
Costard. Such is the simplicity of man to hearken after the flesh.
Ferdinand. [Reads] ‘Great deputy, the welkin’s vicegerent and
sole dominator of Navarre, my soul’s earth’s god,
and body’s fostering patron.’
Costard. Not a word of Costard yet.
Ferdinand. [Reads] ‘So it is,’—
Costard. It may be so: but if he say it is so, he is, in
telling true, but so.
Costard. Be to me and every man that dares not fight!
Ferdinand. No words!
Costard. Of other men’s secrets, I beseech you.
Ferdinand. [Reads] ‘So it is, besieged with sable-coloured
melancholy, I did commend the black-oppressing humour
to the most wholesome physic of thy health-giving
air; and, as I am a gentleman, betook myself to
walk. The time when. About the sixth hour; when
beasts most graze, birds best peck, and men sit down
to that nourishment which is called supper: so much
for the time when. Now for the ground which; which,
I mean, I walked upon: it is y-cleped thy park. Then
for the place where; where, I mean, I did encounter
that obscene and preposterous event, that draweth
from my snow-white pen the ebon-coloured ink, which
here thou viewest, beholdest, surveyest, or seest;
but to the place where; it standeth north-north-east
and by east from the west corner of thy curious-
knotted garden: there did I see that low-spirited
swain, that base minnow of thy mirth,’—
Ferdinand. [Reads] ‘that unlettered small-knowing soul,’—
Ferdinand. [Reads] ‘that shallow vassal,’—
Costard. Still me?
Ferdinand. [Reads] ‘which, as I remember, hight Costard,’—
Costard. O, me!
Ferdinand. [Reads] ‘sorted and consorted, contrary to thy
established proclaimed edict and continent canon,
which with,—O, with—but with this I passion to say
Costard. With a wench.
Ferdinand. [Reads] ‘with a child of our grandmother Eve, a
female; or, for thy more sweet understanding, a
woman. Him I, as my ever-esteemed duty pricks me on,
have sent to thee, to receive the meed of
punishment, by thy sweet grace’s officer, Anthony
Dull; a man of good repute, carriage, bearing, and
Dull. ‘Me, an’t shall please you; I am Anthony Dull.
Ferdinand. [Reads] ‘For Jaquenetta,—so is the weaker vessel
called which I apprehended with the aforesaid
swain,—I keep her as a vessel of the law’s fury;
and shall, at the least of thy sweet notice, bring
her to trial. Thine, in all compliments of devoted
and heart-burning heat of duty.
DON ADRIANO DE ARMADO.’
In the Merchant of Venice a letter from Antonio the merchant is sent to his friend Bassanio:
Portia. But let me hear the letter of your friend.
Bassanio. [Reads] Sweet Bassanio, my ships have all
miscarried, my creditors grow cruel, my estate is
very low, my bond to the Jew is forfeit; and since
in paying it, it is impossible I should live, all
debts are cleared between you and I, if I might but
see you at my death. Notwithstanding, use your
pleasure: if your love do not persuade you to come,
let not my letter.
Later a letter of recommendation is sent from bellario to the Duke in Venice on behalf of Portia dressed as a young doctor t law:
Duke. This letter from Bellario doth commend
A young and learned doctor to our court.
Where is he?
Meantime the court shall hear Bellario’s letter.
Your grace shall understand that at the receipt of
your letter I am very sick: but in the instant that
your messenger came, in loving visitation was with
me a young doctor of Rome; his name is Balthasar. I
acquainted him with the cause in controversy between
the Jew and Antonio the merchant: we turned o’er
many books together: he is furnished with my
opinion; which, bettered with his own learning, the
greatness whereof I cannot enough commend, comes
with him, at my importunity, to fill up your grace’s
request in my stead. I beseech you, let his lack of
years be no impediment to let him lack a reverend
estimation; for I never knew so young a body with so
old a head. I leave him to your gracious
acceptance, whose trial shall better publish his
Duke. You hear the learn’d Bellario, what he writes:
And here, I take it, is the doctor come.
[Enter PORTIA, dressed like a doctor of laws]
Give me your hand. Come you from old Bellario?
Portia. I did, my lord.
The character Falstaff is a far more prodigious letter writer than the writer Shakespeare. Here he is again in the first farce The Merry Wives of Windsor writing to Mistress Page:
What, have I scaped love-letters in the holiday-
time of my beauty, and am I now a subject for them?
Let me see.
‘Ask me no reason why I love you; for though
Love use Reason for his physician, he admits him
not for his counsellor. You are not young, no more
am I; go to then, there’s sympathy: you are merry,
so am I; ha, ha! then there’s more sympathy: you
love sack, and so do I; would you desire better
sympathy? Let it suffice thee, Mistress Page,—at
the least, if the love of soldier can suffice,—
that I love thee. I will not say, pity me; ’tis
not a soldier-like phrase: but I say, love me. By me,
Thine own true knight,
By day or night,
Or any kind of light,
With all his might
For thee to fight, JOHN FALSTAFF’
But it seems I’m re-inventing the wheel with this post. A book dedicated to the Letters is written and available to partially peruse on Amazon:
Shakespeare’s letters by Alan Stewart.
And for a bit of fun with the festive season looming here are some letters to Santa written by Shakespeare’s characters.
We would be amiss if we neglect the most famous letter of them all from 12thNight.
A trick is being played on Malvolio, who thinks this letter is from his mistress commending his dress sense and encouraging his upward mobility:
M, O, A, I; this simulation is not as the former: and
yet, to crush this a little, it would bow to me, for
every one of these letters are in my name. Soft!
here follows prose.
‘If this fall into thy hand, revolve. In my stars I
am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some
are born great, some achieve greatness, and some
have greatness thrust upon ‘em. Thy Fates open
their hands; let thy blood and spirit embrace them;
and, to inure thyself to what thou art like to be,
cast thy humble slough and appear fresh. Be
opposite with a kinsman, surly with servants; let
thy tongue tang arguments of state; put thyself into
the trick of singularity: she thus advises thee
that sighs for thee. Remember who commended thy
yellow stockings, and wished to see thee ever
cross-gartered: I say, remember. Go to, thou art
made, if thou desirest to be so; if not, let me see
thee a steward still, the fellow of servants, and
not worthy to touch Fortune’s fingers. Farewell.
She that would alter services with thee,
Daylight and champaign discovers not more: this is
open. I will be proud, I will read politic authors,
I will baffle Sir Toby, I will wash off gross
acquaintance, I will be point-devise the very man.
I do not now fool myself, to let imagination jade
me; for every reason excites to this, that my lady
loves me. She did commend my yellow stockings of
late, she did praise my leg being cross-gartered;
and in this she manifests herself to my love, and
with a kind of injunction drives me to these habits
of her liking. I thank my stars I am happy. I will
be strange, stout, in yellow stockings, and
cross-gartered, even with the swiftness of putting
on. Jove and my stars be praised! Here is yet a
‘Thou canst not choose but know who I am. If thou
entertainest my love, let it appear in thy smiling;
thy smiles become thee well; therefore in my
presence still smile, dear my sweet, I prithee.’
Jove, I thank thee: I will smile; I will do
everything that thou wilt have me.
The top ten types of lies and liars:
1. A notorious liar as in everybody knows your propensity for avoiding facts. You have such an unsavoury reputation only strangers are misled and then not for long.
2. A consummate liar as in rarely does anyone lie as convincingly. In fact your mastery of the art is so great your lies are crowned with success.
3. An incorrigible liar as in you are impervious to correction. Even if caught in your lie and despite punishment, embarassment or unhappiness, there is no reforming your distortions of the truth.
4. An inveterate liar as in you are the victim of firmly fixed and deep rooted habits. Telling untruths is as frequent and customary as brushing your teeth or waking up.
5. A congenital liar as in you have such a long history of persistent falsification that you can only suspect you started when you were in your mother’s womb.
6. A chronic liar as in you never stop lying. You lie continually, not occasionally or frequently but all the time.
7. A pathological liar as in you are not concerned with the difference between truth or falsehood. You do not distinguish between fact and fantasy. Your lying is a disaease.
8. An unconscionable liar as in you are completely without regret or even a conscience. No matter what misery your lies may cause your innocent victims, you never feel the slightest twinge of guilt.
9. A glib liar as in youare possessed of a lively imagination and a ready tongue. You can distort facts as smoothly and effortlessly as you can say your name. But ironically enough, your very smoothness makes you suspect because your answers are too quick to be true.
10. An egregious liar as in all your lies are vicious, calculated, predetermined, and cold. Your lies are so hurtful people gasp in amazement and disgust at hearing them.
thanks to Bloomsbury word power for this overview and definitions.
All’s Well That Ends Well
He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister: for
rapes and ravishments he parallels Nessus: he
professes not keeping of oaths; in breaking ‘em he
is stronger than Hercules: he will lie, sir, with
such volubility, that you would think truth were a
fool: drunkenness is his best virtue, for he will
be swine-drunk; and in his sleep he does little
harm, save to his bed-clothes about him; but they
know his conditions and lay him in straw. I have but
little more to say, sir, of his honesty: he has
every thing that an honest man should not have; what
an honest man should have, he has nothing.
Antony and Cleopatra
Should I lie, madam?
Antony and Cleopatra
You lie, up to the hearing of the gods.
As You Like It
Me believe it! You may as soon make her that you love
believe it; which, I warrant, she is apter to do than to confess
she does. That is one of the points in the which women still give
the lie to their consciences. But, in good sooth, are you he that
hangs the verses on the trees wherein Rosalind is so admired?
As You Like It
I would not be thy executioner;
I fly thee, for I would not injure thee.
Thou tell’st me there is murder in mine eye.
‘Tis pretty, sure, and very probable,
That eyes, that are the frail’st and softest things,
Who shut their coward gates on atomies,
Should be call’d tyrants, butchers, murderers!
Now I do frown on thee with all my heart;
And if mine eyes can wound, now let them kill thee.
Now counterfeit to swoon; why, now fall down;
Or, if thou canst not, O, for shame, for shame,
Lie not, to say mine eyes are murderers.
Now show the wound mine eye hath made in thee.
Scratch thee but with a pin, and there remains
Some scar of it; lean upon a rush,
The cicatrice and capable impressure
Thy palm some moment keeps; but now mine eyes,
Which I have darted at thee, hurt thee not;
Nor, I am sure, there is not force in eyes
That can do hurt.
Touchstone + Jacques have a wonderful dialogue about giving the lie.
I am known to be a humorous patrician, and one that
loves a cup of hot wine with not a drop of allaying
Tiber in’t; said to be something imperfect in
favouring the first complaint; hasty and tinder-like
upon too trivial motion; one that converses more
with the buttock of the night than with the forehead
of the morning: what I think I utter, and spend my
malice in my breath. Meeting two such wealsmen as
you are—I cannot call you Lycurguses—if the drink
you give me touch my palate adversely, I make a
crooked face at it. I can’t say your worships have
delivered the matter well, when I find the ass in
compound with the major part of your syllables: and
though I must be content to bear with those that say
you are reverend grave men, yet they lie deadly that
tell you you have good faces. If you see this in
the map of my microcosm, follows it that I am known
well enough too? what barm can your bisson
conspectuities glean out of this character, if I be
known well enough too?
He hath deserved worthily of his country: and his
ascent is not by such easy degrees as those who,
having been supple and courteous to the people,
bonneted, without any further deed to have them at
an into their estimation and report: but he hath so
planted his honours in their eyes, and his actions
in their hearts, that for their tongues to be
silent, and not confess so much, were a kind of
ingrateful injury; to report otherwise, were a
malice, that, giving itself the lie, would pluck
reproof and rebuke from every ear that heard it.
Must I go show them my unbarbed sconce?
Must I with base tongue give my noble heart
A lie that it must bear? Well, I will do’t:
Yet, were there but this single plot to lose,
This mould of CORIOLANUS, they to dust should grind it
And throw’t against the wind. To the market-place!
You have put me now to such a part which never
I shall discharge to the life.
Let’s to the Capitol. Would half my wealth
Would buy this for a lie!
Faith, sir, if you had told as many lies in his
behalf as you have uttered words in your own, you
should not pass here; no, though it were as virtuous
to lie as to live chastely. Therefore, go back.
Measureless liar, thou hast made my heart
Too great for what contains it. Boy! O slave!
Pardon me, lords, ’tis the first time that ever
I was forced to scold. Your judgments, my grave lords,
Must give this cur the lie: and his own notion—
Who wears my stripes impress’d upon him; that
Must bear my beating to his grave—shall join
To thrust the lie unto him.
If you will swear you have not done’t, you lie;
And I will kill thee, if thou dost deny
Thou’st made me cuckold.
I see a man’s life is a tedious one:
I have tired myself, and for two nights together
Have made the ground my bed. I should be sick,
But that my resolution helps me. Milford,
When from the mountain-top Pisanio show’d thee,
Thou wast within a ken: O Jove! I think
Foundations fly the wretched; such, I mean,
Where they should be relieved. Two beggars told me
I could not miss my way: will poor folks lie,
That have afflictions on them, knowing ’tis
A punishment or trial? Yes; no wonder,
When rich ones scarce tell true. To lapse in fulness
Is sorer than to lie for need, and falsehood
Is worse in kings than beggars. My dear lord!
Thou art one o’ the false ones. Now I think on thee,
My hunger’s gone; but even before, I was
At point to sink for food. But what is this?
Here is a path to’t: ’tis some savage hold:
I were best not to call; I dare not call:
Ere clean it o’erthrow nature, makes it valiant,
Plenty and peace breeds cowards: hardness ever
Of hardiness is mother. Ho! who’s here?
If any thing that’s civil, speak; if savage,
Take or lend. Ho! No answer? Then I’ll enter.
Best draw my sword: and if mine enemy
But fear the sword like me, he’ll scarcely look on’t.
Such a foe, good heavens!
I cannot sing: I’ll weep, and word it with thee;
For notes of sorrow out of tune are worse
Than priests and fanes that lie.
Richard du Champ.
If I do lie and do
No harm by it, though the gods hear, I hope
They’ll pardon it.—Say you, sir?
Shall’s have a play of this? Thou scornful page,
There lie thy part.
HAMLET Now I am alone
You lie out on’t, sir, and therefore ’tis not yours.
For my part, I do not lie in’t, yet it is mine.
Thou dost lie in’t, to be in’t and say it is thine. ‘Tis for
the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou liest.
‘Tis a quick lie, sir; ’twill away again from me to you.
How long will a man lie i’ th’ earth ere he rot?
Henry IV, Part I
What talkest thou to me of the hangman? if I hang,
I’ll make a fat pair of gallows; for if I hang, old
Sir John hangs with me, and thou knowest he is no
starveling. Tut! there are other Trojans that thou
dreamest not of, the which for sport sake are
content to do the profession some grace; that would,
if matters should be looked into, for their own
credit sake, make all whole. I am joined with no
foot-land rakers, no long-staff sixpenny strikers,
none of these mad mustachio purple-hued malt-worms;
but with nobility and tranquillity, burgomasters and
great oneyers, such as can hold in, such as will
strike sooner than speak, and speak sooner than
drink, and drink sooner than pray: and yet, zounds,
I lie; for they pray continually to their saint, the
commonwealth; or rather, not pray to her, but prey
on her, for they ride up and down on her and make
her their boots.
Henry IV, Part I
You lie, ye rogue; ’tis going to the king’s tavern.
Henry IV, Part I
Hotspur (Henry Percy)
‘But for mine own part, my lord, I could be well
contented to be there, in respect of the love I bear
your house.’ He could be contented: why is he not,
then? In respect of the love he bears our house:
he shows in this, he loves his own barn better than
he loves our house. Let me see some more. ‘The
purpose you undertake is dangerous;’—why, that’s
certain: ’tis dangerous to take a cold, to sleep, to
drink; but I tell you, my lord fool, out of this
nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety. ‘The
purpose you undertake is dangerous; the friends you
have named uncertain; the time itself unsorted; and
your whole plot too light for the counterpoise of so
great an opposition.’ Say you so, say you so? I say
unto you again, you are a shallow cowardly hind, and
you lie. What a lack-brain is this! By the Lord,
our plot is a good plot as ever was laid; our
friends true and constant: a good plot, good
friends, and full of expectation; an excellent plot,
very good friends. What a frosty-spirited rogue is
this! Why, my lord of York commends the plot and the
general course of action. ‘Zounds, an I were now by
this rascal, I could brain him with his lady’s fan.
Is there not my father, my uncle and myself? lord
Edmund Mortimer, My lord of York and Owen Glendower?
is there not besides the Douglas? have I not all
their letters to meet me in arms by the ninth of the
next month? and are they not some of them set
forward already? What a pagan rascal is this! an
infidel! Ha! you shall see now in very sincerity
of fear and cold heart, will he to the king and lay
open all our proceedings. O, I could divide myself
and go to buffets, for moving such a dish of
skim milk with so honourable an action! Hang him!
let him tell the king: we are prepared. I will set
[Enter LADY PERCY]
How now, Kate! I must leave you within these two hours.
Henry IV, Part I
Nay, that’s past praying for: I have peppered two
of them; two I am sure I have paid, two rogues
in buckram suits. I tell thee what, Hal, if I tell
thee a lie, spit in my face, call me horse. Thou
knowest my old ward; here I lay and thus I bore my
point. Four rogues in buckram let drive at me—
Henry IV, Part I
Ye lie, hostess: Bardolph was shaved and lost many
a hair; and I’ll be sworn my pocket was picked. Go
to, you are a woman, go.
Henry IV, Part I
[Rising up] Embowelled! if thou embowel me to-day,
I’ll give you leave to powder me and eat me too
to-morrow. ‘Sblood,’twas time to counterfeit, or
that hot termagant Scot had paid me scot and lot too.
Counterfeit? I lie, I am no counterfeit: to die,
is to be a counterfeit; for he is but the
counterfeit of a man who hath not the life of a man:
but to counterfeit dying, when a man thereby
liveth, is to be no counterfeit, but the true and
perfect image of life indeed. The better part of
valour is discretion; in the which better part I
have saved my life.’Zounds, I am afraid of this
gunpowder Percy, though he be dead: how, if he
should counterfeit too and rise? by my faith, I am
afraid he would prove the better counterfeit.
Therefore I’ll make him sure; yea, and I’ll swear I
killed him. Why may not he rise as well as I?
Nothing confutes me but eyes, and nobody sees me.
with a new wound in your thigh, come you along with me.
Henry IV, Part I
This is the strangest fellow, brother John.
Come, bring your luggage nobly on your back:
For my part, if a lie may do thee grace,
I’ll gild it with the happiest terms I have.
[A retreat is sounded]
The trumpet sounds retreat; the day is ours.
Come, brother, let us to the highest of the field,
To see what friends are living, who are dead.
Henry IV, Part II
Fare you well, gentle gentlemen. [Exeunt JUSTICES] On,
Bardolph; lead the men away. [Exeunt all but FALSTAFF] As I
return, I will fetch off these justices. I do see the bottom of
justice Shallow. Lord, Lord, how subject we old men are to this
vice of lying! This same starv’d justice hath done nothing but
prate to me of the wildness of his youth and the feats he hath
done about Turnbull Street; and every third word a lie, duer paid
to the hearer than the Turk’s tribute. I do remember him at
Clement’s Inn, like a man made after supper of a cheese-paring.
When ‘a was naked, he was for all the world like a fork’d radish,
with a head fantastically carved upon it with a knife. ‘A was so
forlorn that his dimensions to any thick sight were invisible. ‘A
was the very genius of famine; yet lecherous as a monkey, and the
whores call’d him mandrake. ‘A came ever in the rearward of the
fashion, and sung those tunes to the overscutch’d huswifes that
he heard the carmen whistle, and sware they were his fancies or
his good-nights. And now is this Vice’s dagger become a squire,
and talks as familiarly of John a Gaunt as if he had been sworn
brother to him; and I’ll be sworn ‘a ne’er saw him but once in
the Tiltyard; and then he burst his head for crowding among the
marshal’s men. I saw it, and told John a Gaunt he beat his own
name; for you might have thrust him and all his apparel into an
eel-skin; the case of a treble hautboy was a mansion for him, a
court—and now has he land and beeves. Well, I’ll be acquainted
with him if I return; and ‘t shall go hard but I’ll make him a
philosopher’s two stones to me. If the young dace be a bait for
the old pike, I see no reason in the law of nature but I may snap
at him. Let time shape, and there an end. Exit
Henry IV, Part II
I’ll follow you, good Master Robert Shallow.
[Exit SHALLOW] Bardolph, look to our horses. [Exeunt
and PAGE] If I were sawed into quantities, I should make
dozen of such bearded hermits’ staves as Master Shallow. It
wonderful thing to see the semblable coherence of his men’s
spirits and his. They, by observing of him, do bear
like foolish justices: he, by conversing with them, is turned
into a justice-like serving-man. Their spirits are so married
conjunction with the participation of society that they flock
together in consent, like so many wild geese. If I had a suit
Master Shallow, I would humour his men with the imputation of
being near their master; if to his men, I would curry with
Shallow that no man could better command his servants. It is
certain that either wise bearing or ignorant carriage is
as men take diseases, one of another; therefore let men take
of their company. I will devise matter enough out of this
to keep Prince Harry in continual laughter the wearing out of
fashions, which is four terms, or two actions; and ‘a shall
without intervallums. O, it is much that a lie with a slight
oath, and a jest with a sad brow will do with a fellow that
had the ache in his shoulders! O, you shall see him laugh
his face be like a wet cloak ill laid up!
Henry IV, Part II
Nut-hook, nut-hook, you lie. Come on; I’ll tell thee what,
thou damn’d tripe-visag’d rascal, an the child I now go with do
miscarry, thou wert better thou hadst struck thy mother, thou
That’s a lie in thy throat. I charge you in his
majesty’s name, apprehend him: he’s a friend of the
In which I have commended to his goodness
The model of our chaste loves, his young daughter;
The dews of heaven fall thick in blessings on her!
Beseeching him to give her virtuous breeding—
She is young, and of a noble modest nature,
I hope she will deserve well,—and a little
To love her for her mother’s sake, that loved him,
Heaven knows how dearly. My next poor petition
Is, that his noble grace would have some pity
Upon my wretched women, that so long
Have follow’d both my fortunes faithfully:
Of which there is not one, I dare avow,
And now I should not lie, but will deserve
For virtue and true beauty of the soul,
For honesty and decent carriage,
A right good husband, let him be a noble
And, sure, those men are happy that shall have ‘em.
The last is, for my men; they are the poorest,
But poverty could never draw ‘em from me;
That they may have their wages duly paid ‘em,
And something over to remember me by:
If heaven had pleased to have given me longer life
And able means, we had not parted thus.
These are the whole contents: and, good my lord,
By that you love the dearest in this world,
As you wish Christian peace to souls departed,
Stand these poor people’s friend, and urge the king
To do me this last right.
Shall Caesar send a lie?
Have I in conquest stretch’d mine arm so far,
To be afraid to tell graybeards the truth?
Decius, go tell them Caesar will not come.
Philip the Bastard
By all the blood that ever fury breathed,
The youth says well. Now hear our English king;
For thus his royalty doth speak in me.
He is prepared, and reason too he should:
This apish and unmannerly approach,
This harness’d masque and unadvised revel,
This unhair’d sauciness and boyish troops,
The king doth smile at; and is well prepared
To whip this dwarfish war, these pigmy arms,
From out the circle of his territories.
That hand which had the strength, even at your door,
To cudgel you and make you take the hatch,
To dive like buckets in concealed wells,
To crouch in litter of your stable planks,
To lie like pawns lock’d up in chests and trunks,
To hug with swine, to seek sweet safety out
In vaults and prisons, and to thrill and shake
Even at the crying of your nation’s crow,
Thinking his voice an armed Englishman;
Shall that victorious hand be feebled here,
That in your chambers gave you chastisement?
No: know the gallant monarch is in arms
And like an eagle o’er his aery towers,
To souse annoyance that comes near his nest.
And you degenerate, you ingrate revolts,
You bloody Neroes, ripping up the womb
Of your dear mother England, blush for shame;
For your own ladies and pale-visaged maids
Like Amazons come tripping after drums,
Their thimbles into armed gauntlets change,
Their needles to lances, and their gentle hearts
To fierce and bloody inclination.
I have us’d it, nuncle, ever since thou mad’st thy daughters
thy mother; for when thou gav’st them the rod, and put’st down
thine own breeches,
[Sings] Then they for sudden joy did weep,
And I for sorrow sung,
That such a king should play bo-peep
And go the fools among.
Prithee, nuncle, keep a schoolmaster that can teach thy fool to
lie. I would fain learn to lie.
129 King Lear
An you lie, sirrah, we’ll have you whipp’d.
In wisdom I should ask thy name;
But since thy outside looks so fair and warlike,
And that thy tongue some say of breeding breathes,
What safe and nicely I might well delay
By rule of knighthood, I disdain and spurn.
Back do I toss those treasons to thy head;
With the hell-hated lie o’erwhelm thy heart;
Which- for they yet glance by and scarcely bruise-
This sword of mine shall give them instant way
Where they shall rest for ever. Trumpets, speak!
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Ay, that there is. Our court, you know, is haunted
With a refined traveller of Spain;
A man in all the world’s new fashion planted,
That hath a mint of phrases in his brain;
One whom the music of his own vain tongue
Doth ravish like enchanting harmony;
A man of complements, whom right and wrong
Have chose as umpire of their mutiny:
This child of fancy, that Armado hight,
For interim to our studies shall relate
In high-born words the worth of many a knight
From tawny Spain lost in the world’s debate.
How you delight, my lords, I know not, I;
But, I protest, I love to hear him lie
And I will use him for my minstrelsy.
Love’s Labour’s Lost
But to speak that in words which his eye hath
I only have made a mouth of his eye,
By adding a tongue which I know will not lie.
Love’s Labour’s Lost
The king he is hunting the deer; I am coursing
myself: they have pitched a toil; I am toiling in
a pitch,—pitch that defiles: defile! a foul
word. Well, set thee down, sorrow! for so they say
the fool said, and so say I, and I the fool: well
proved, wit! By the Lord, this love is as mad as
Ajax: it kills sheep; it kills me, I a sheep:
well proved again o’ my side! I will not love: if
I do, hang me; i’ faith, I will not. O, but her
eye,—by this light, but for her eye, I would not
love her; yes, for her two eyes. Well, I do nothing
in the world but lie, and lie in my throat. By
heaven, I do love: and it hath taught me to rhyme
and to be melancholy; and here is part of my rhyme,
and here my melancholy. Well, she hath one o’ my
sonnets already: the clown bore it, the fool sent
it, and the lady hath it: sweet clown, sweeter
fool, sweetest lady! By the world, I would not care
a pin, if the other three were in. Here comes one
with a paper: God give him grace to groan!
Love’s Labour’s Lost
You lie, you are not he.
Marry, sir, nose-painting, sleep, and
urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes;
it provokes the desire, but it takes
away the performance: therefore, much drink
may be said to be an equivocator with lechery:
it makes him, and it mars him; it sets
him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him,
and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and
not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him
in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.
I believe drink gave thee the lie last night.
That it did, sir, i’ the very throat on
me: but I requited him for his lie; and, I
think, being too strong for him, though he took
up my legs sometime, yet I made a shift to cast
And I another
So weary with disasters, tugg’d with fortune,
That I would set my lie on any chance,
To mend it, or be rid on’t.
We have scotch’d the snake, not kill’d it:
She’ll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice
Remains in danger of her former tooth.
But let the frame of things disjoint, both the
Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep
In the affliction of these terrible dreams
That shake us nightly: better be with the dead,
Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace,
Than on the torture of the mind to lie
In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave;
After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well;
Treason has done his worst: nor steel, nor poison,
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing,
Can touch him further.
And must they all be hanged that swear and lie?
Thou liest, abhorred tyrant; with my sword
I’ll prove the lie thou speak’st.
Merchant of Venice
If I could add a lie unto a fault,
I would deny it; but you see my finger
Hath not the ring upon it; it is gone.
Merry Wives of Windsor
Sir Hugh Evans
Shall I tell you a lie? I do despise a liar as I do
despise one that is false, or as I despise one that
is not true. The knight, Sir John, is there; and, I
beseech you, be ruled by your well-willers. I will
peat the door for Master Page.
What, hoa! Got pless your house here!
Merry Wives of Windsor
Master Brook, I will not lie to you: I was at her
house the hour she appointed me.
Midsummer Night’s Dream
O, take the sense, sweet, of my innocence!
Love takes the meaning in love’s conference.
I mean, that my heart unto yours is knit
So that but one heart we can make of it;
Two bosoms interchained with an oath;
So then two bosoms and a single troth.
Then by your side no bed-room me deny;
For lying so, Hermia, I do not lie.
Midsummer Night’s Dream
Lysander riddles very prettily:
Now much beshrew my manners and my pride,
If Hermia meant to say Lysander lied.
But, gentle friend, for love and courtesy
Lie further off; in human modesty,
Such separation as may well be said
Becomes a virtuous bachelor and a maid,
So far be distant; and, good night, sweet friend:
Thy love ne’er alter till thy sweet life end!
Midsummer Night’s Dream
The finch, the sparrow and the lark,
The plain-song cuckoo gray,
Whose note full many a man doth mark,
And dares not answer nay;—
for, indeed, who would set his wit to so foolish
a bird? who would give a bird the lie, though he cry
‘cuckoo’ never so?
Much Ado about Nothing
Confirm’d, confirm’d! O, that is stronger made
Which was before barr’d up with ribs of iron!
Would the two princes lie, and Claudio lie,
Who loved her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash’d it with tears? Hence from her! let her die.
Much Ado about Nothing
As strange as the thing I know not. It were as
possible for me to say I loved nothing so well as
you: but believe me not; and yet I lie not; I
confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin.
183 Much Ado about Nothing
Princes and counties! Surely, a princely testimony,
a goodly count, Count Comfect; a sweet gallant,
surely! O that I were a man for his sake! or that I
had any friend would be a man for my sake! But
manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into
compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and
trim ones too: he is now as valiant as Hercules
that only tells a lie and swears it.
Why, why is this?
Think’st thou I’ld make a lie of jealousy,
To follow still the changes of the moon
With fresh suspicions? No; to be once in doubt
Is once to be resolved: exchange me for a goat,
When I shall turn the business of my soul
To such exsufflicate and blown surmises,
Matching thy inference. ‘Tis not to make me jealous
To say my wife is fair, feeds well, loves company,
Is free of speech, sings, plays and dances well;
Where virtue is, these are more virtuous:
Nor from mine own weak merits will I draw
The smallest fear or doubt of her revolt;
For she had eyes, and chose me. No, Iago;
I’ll see before I doubt; when I doubt, prove;
And on the proof, there is no more but this,—
Away at once with love or jealousy!
To tell you where he lodges, is to tell you where I lie.
I know not where he lodges, and for me to devise a
lodging and say he lies here or he lies there, were
to lie in mine own throat.
Lie with her! lie on her! We say lie on her, when
they belie her. Lie with her! that’s fulsome.
confess, and be hanged for his labour;—first, to be
hanged, and then to confess.—I tremble at it.
Nature would not invest herself in such shadowing
passion without some instruction. It is not words
that shake me thus. Pish! Noses, ears, and lips.
—Is’t possible?—Confess—handkerchief!—O devil!—
You told a lie, an odious, damned lie;
Upon my soul, a lie, a wicked lie.
She false with Cassio!—did you say with Cassio?
When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutor’d youth,
Unskilful in the world’s false forgeries.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although I know my years be past the best,
I smiling credit her false-speaking tongue,
Outfacing faults in love with love’s ill rest.
But wherefore says my love that she is young?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O, love’s best habit is a soothing tongue,
And age, in love, loves not to have years told.
Therefore I’ll lie with love, and love with me,
Since that our faults in love thus smother’d be.
How courtesy would seem to cover sin,
When what is done is like an hypocrite,
The which is good in nothing but in sight!
If it be true that I interpret false,
Then were it certain you were not so bad
As with foul incest to abuse your soul;
Where now you’re both a father and a son,
By your untimely claspings with your child,
Which pleasure fits an husband, not a father;
And she an eater of her mother’s flesh,
By the defiling of her parent’s bed;
And both like serpents are, who though they feed
On sweetest flowers, yet they poison breed.
Antioch, farewell! for wisdom sees, those men
Blush not in actions blacker than the night,
Will shun no course to keep them from the light.
One sin, I know, another doth provoke;
Murder’s as near to lust as flame to smoke:
Poison and treason are the hands of sin,
Ay, and the targets, to put off the shame:
Then, lest my lie be cropp’d to keep you clear,
By flight I’ll shun the danger which I fear.
Even in his throat—unless it be the king—
That calls me traitor, I return the lie.
Let not my cold words here accuse my zeal:
‘Tis not the trial of a woman’s war,
The bitter clamour of two eager tongues,
Can arbitrate this cause betwixt us twain;
The blood is hot that must be cool’d for this:
Yet can I not of such tame patience boast
As to be hush’d and nought at all to say:
First, the fair reverence of your highness curbs me
From giving reins and spurs to my free speech;
Which else would post until it had return’d
These terms of treason doubled down his throat.
Setting aside his high blood’s royalty,
And let him be no kinsman to my liege,
I do defy him, and I spit at him;
Call him a slanderous coward and a villain:
Which to maintain I would allow him odds,
And meet him, were I tied to run afoot
Even to the frozen ridges of the Alps,
Or any other ground inhabitable,
Where ever Englishman durst set his foot.
Mean time let this defend my loyalty,
By all my hopes, most falsely doth he lie.
Then, Bolingbroke, as low as to thy heart,
Through the false passage of thy throat, thou liest.
Three parts of that receipt I had for Calais
Disbursed I duly to his highness’ soldiers;
The other part reserved I by consent,
For that my sovereign liege was in my debt
Upon remainder of a dear account,
Since last I went to France to fetch his queen:
Now swallow down that lie. For Gloucester’s death,
I slew him not; but to my own disgrace
Neglected my sworn duty in that case.
For you, my noble Lord of Lancaster,
The honourable father to my foe
Once did I lay an ambush for your life,
A trespass that doth vex my grieved soul
But ere I last received the sacrament
I did confess it, and exactly begg’d
Your grace’s pardon, and I hope I had it.
This is my fault: as for the rest appeall’d,
It issues from the rancour of a villain,
A recreant and most degenerate traitor
Which in myself I boldly will defend;
And interchangeably hurl down my gage
Upon this overweening traitor’s foot,
To prove myself a loyal gentleman
Even in the best blood chamber’d in his bosom.
In haste whereof, most heartily I pray
Your highness to assign our trial day.
King Richard II
Needs must I like it well: I weep for joy
To stand upon my kingdom once again.
Dear earth, I do salute thee with my hand,
Though rebels wound thee with their horses’ hoofs:
As a long-parted mother with her child
Plays fondly with her tears and smiles in meeting,
So, weeping, smiling, greet I thee, my earth,
And do thee favours with my royal hands.
Feed not thy sovereign’s foe, my gentle earth,
Nor with thy sweets comfort his ravenous sense;
But let thy spiders, that suck up thy venom,
And heavy-gaited toads lie in their way,
Doing annoyance to the treacherous feet
Which with usurping steps do trample thee:
Yield stinging nettles to mine enemies;
And when they from thy bosom pluck a flower,
Guard it, I pray thee, with a lurking adder
Whose double tongue may with a mortal touch
Throw death upon thy sovereign’s enemies.
Mock not my senseless conjuration, lords:
This earth shall have a feeling and these stones
Prove armed soldiers, ere her native king
Shall falter under foul rebellion’s arms.
Duke of Surrey
That lie shall lie so heavy on my sword,
That it shall render vengeance and revenge
Till thou the lie-giver and that lie do lie
In earth as quiet as thy father’s skull:
In proof whereof, there is my honour’s pawn;
Engage it to the trial, if thou darest.
King Richard II
Ay, no; no, ay; for I must nothing be;
Therefore no no, for I resign to thee.
Now mark me, how I will undo myself;
I give this heavy weight from off my head
And this unwieldy sceptre from my hand,
The pride of kingly sway from out my heart;
With mine own tears I wash away my balm,
With mine own hands I give away my crown,
With mine own tongue deny my sacred state,
With mine own breath release all duty’s rites:
All pomp and majesty I do forswear;
My manors, rents, revenues I forego;
My acts, decrees, and statutes I deny:
God pardon all oaths that are broke to me!
God keep all vows unbroke that swear to thee!
Make me, that nothing have, with nothing grieved,
And thou with all pleased, that hast all achieved!
Long mayst thou live in Richard’s seat to sit,
And soon lie Richard in an earthly pit!
God save King Harry, unking’d Richard says,
And send him many years of sunshine days!
What more remains?
But how long fairly shall her sweet lie last?
Give me another horse: bind up my wounds.
Have mercy, Jesu!—Soft! I did but dream.
O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!
The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.
Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.
What do I fear? myself? there’s none else by:
Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.
Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am:
Then fly. What, from myself? Great reason why:
Lest I revenge. What, myself upon myself?
Alack. I love myself. Wherefore? for any good
That I myself have done unto myself?
O, no! alas, I rather hate myself
For hateful deeds committed by myself!
I am a villain: yet I lie. I am not.
Fool, of thyself speak well: fool, do not flatter.
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.
Perjury, perjury, in the high’st degree
Murder, stem murder, in the direst degree;
All several sins, all used in each degree,
Throng to the bar, crying all, Guilty! guilty!
I shall despair. There is no creature loves me;
And if I die, no soul shall pity me:
Nay, wherefore should they, since that I myself
Find in myself no pity to myself?
Methought the souls of all that I had murder’d
Came to my tent; and every one did threat
To-morrow’s vengeance on the head of Richard.
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet
Now old desire doth in his death-bed lie,
And young affection gapes to be his heir;
That fair for which love groan’d for and would die,
With tender Juliet match’d, is now not fair.
Now Romeo is beloved and loves again,
Alike betwitched by the charm of looks,
But to his foe supposed he must complain,
And she steal love’s sweet bait from fearful hooks:
Being held a foe, he may not have access
To breathe such vows as lovers use to swear;
And she as much in love, her means much less
To meet her new-beloved any where:
But passion lends them power, time means, to meet
Tempering extremities with extreme sweet.
Sonnet 72, 115, 123, 138, 150, 152,
Taming of the Shrew
You lie, in faith, for you are call’d plain Kate,
And bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the curst;
But, Kate, the prettiest Kate in Christendom,
Kate of Kate Hall, my super-dainty Kate,
For dainties are all Kates, and therefore, Kate,
Take this of me, Kate of my consolation-
Hearing thy mildness prais’d in every town,
Thy virtues spoke of, and thy beauty sounded,
Yet not so deeply as to thee belongs,
Myself am mov’d to woo thee for my wife.
Taming of the Shrew
‘Tis some odd humour pricks him to this fashion;
Yet oftentimes lie goes but mean-apparell’d.
Taming of the Shrew
Nay, then you lie; it is the blessed sun.
I pray thee, mark me.
I, thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated
To closeness and the bettering of my mind
With that which, but by being so retired,
O’er-prized all popular rate, in my false brother
Awaked an evil nature; and my trust,
Like a good parent, did beget of him
A falsehood in its contrary as great
As my trust was; which had indeed no limit,
A confidence sans bound. He being thus lorded,
Not only with what my revenue yielded,
But what my power might else exact, like one
Who having into truth, by telling of it,
Made such a sinner of his memory,
To credit his own lie, he did believe
He was indeed the duke; out o’ the substitution
And executing the outward face of royalty,
With all prerogative: hence his ambition growing—
Dost thou hear?
My master through his art foresees the danger
That you, his friend, are in; and sends me forth—
For else his project dies—to keep them living.
[Sings in GONZALO's ear]
While you here do snoring lie,
His time doth take.
If of life you keep a care,
Shake off slumber, and beware:
All the infections that the sun sucks up
From bogs, fens, flats, on Prosper fall and make him
By inch-meal a disease! His spirits hear me
And yet I needs must curse. But they’ll nor pinch,
Fright me with urchin—shows, pitch me i’ the mire,
Nor lead me, like a firebrand, in the dark
Out of my way, unless he bid ‘em; but
For every trifle are they set upon me;
Sometime like apes that mow and chatter at me
And after bite me, then like hedgehogs which
Lie tumbling in my barefoot way and mount
Their pricks at my footfall; sometime am I
All wound with adders who with cloven tongues
Do hiss me into madness.
Lo, now, lo!
Here comes a spirit of his, and to torment me
For bringing wood in slowly. I’ll fall flat;
Perchance he will not mind me.
Nor go neither; but you’ll lie like dogs and yet say
Thou liest, most ignorant monster: I am in case to
justle a constable. Why, thou deboshed fish thou,
was there ever man a coward that hath drunk so much
sack as I to-day? Wilt thou tell a monstrous lie,
being but half a fish and half a monster?
Thou liest, thou jesting monkey, thou: I would my
valiant master would destroy thee! I do not lie.
Do I so? take thou that.
As you like this, give me the lie another time.
I did not give the lie. Out o’ your
wits and bearing too? A pox o’ your bottle!
this can sack and drinking do. A murrain on
your monster, and the devil take your fingers!
I’ll believe both;
And what does else want credit, come to me,
And I’ll be sworn ’tis true: travellers ne’er did
Though fools at home condemn ‘em.
Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,
Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm’d
The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds,
And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck’d up
The pine and cedar: graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ‘em forth
By my so potent art. But this rough magic
I here abjure, and, when I have required
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.
[Re-enter ARIEL before: then ALONSO, with a]
frantic gesture, attended by GONZALO;
SEBASTIAN and ANTONIO in like manner,
attended by ADRIAN and FRANCISCO they all
enter the circle which PROSPERO had made,
and there stand charmed; which PROSPERO
A solemn air and the best comforter
To an unsettled fancy cure thy brains,
Now useless, boil’d within thy skull! There stand,
For you are spell-stopp’d.
Holy Gonzalo, honourable man,
Mine eyes, even sociable to the show of thine,
Fall fellowly drops. The charm dissolves apace,
And as the morning steals upon the night,
Melting the darkness, so their rising senses
Begin to chase the ignorant fumes that mantle
Their clearer reason. O good Gonzalo,
My true preserver, and a loyal sir
To him you follow’st! I will pay thy graces
Home both in word and deed. Most cruelly
Didst thou, Alonso, use me and my daughter:
Thy brother was a furtherer in the act.
Thou art pinch’d fort now, Sebastian. Flesh and blood,
You, brother mine, that entertain’d ambition,
Expell’d remorse and nature; who, with Sebastian,
Whose inward pinches therefore are most strong,
Would here have kill’d your king; I do forgive thee,
Unnatural though thou art. Their understanding
Begins to swell, and the approaching tide
Will shortly fill the reasonable shore
That now lies foul and muddy. Not one of them
That yet looks on me, or would know me Ariel,
Fetch me the hat and rapier in my cell:
I will discase me, and myself present
As I was sometime Milan: quickly, spirit;
Thou shalt ere long be free.
[ARIEL sings and helps to attire him]
Where the bee sucks. there suck I:
In a cowslip’s bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat’s back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.
266 Timon of Athens
Then I lie not.
Timon of Athens
This is in thee a nature but infected;
A poor unmanly melancholy sprung
From change of fortune. Why this spade? this place?
This slave-like habit? and these looks of care?
Thy flatterers yet wear silk, drink wine, lie soft;
Hug their diseased perfumes, and have forgot
That ever Timon was. Shame not these woods,
By putting on the cunning of a carper.
Be thou a flatterer now, and seek to thrive
By that which has undone thee: hinge thy knee,
And let his very breath, whom thou’lt observe,
Blow off thy cap; praise his most vicious strain,
And call it excellent: thou wast told thus;
Thou gavest thine ears like tapsters that bid welcome
To knaves and all approachers: ’tis most just
That thou turn rascal; hadst thou wealth again,
Rascals should have ‘t. Do not assume my likeness.
270 Timon of Athens
Rogue, rogue, rogue!
I am sick of this false world, and will love nought
But even the mere necessities upon ‘t.
Then, Timon, presently prepare thy grave;
Lie where the light foam the sea may beat
Thy grave-stone daily: make thine epitaph,
That death in me at others’ lives may laugh.
[To the gold]
O thou sweet king-killer, and dear divorce
‘Twixt natural son and sire! thou bright defiler
Of Hymen’s purest bed! thou valiant Mars!
Thou ever young, fresh, loved and delicate wooer,
Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow
That lies on Dian’s lap! thou visible god,
That solder’st close impossibilities,
And makest them kiss! that speak’st with
To every purpose! O thou touch of hearts!
Think, thy slave man rebels, and by thy virtue
Set them into confounding odds, that beasts
May have the world in empire!
Timon of Athens
[Reads the epitaph] ‘Here lies a
wretched corse, of wretched soul bereft:
Seek not my name: a plague consume you wicked
Here lie I, Timon; who, alive, all living men did hate:
Pass by and curse thy fill, but pass and stay
not here thy gait.’
These well express in thee thy latter spirits:
Though thou abhorr’dst in us our human griefs,
Scorn’dst our brain’s flow and those our
From niggard nature fall, yet rich conceit
Taught thee to make vast Neptune weep for aye
On thy low grave, on faults forgiven. Dead
Is noble Timon: of whose memory
Hereafter more. Bring me into your city,
And I will use the olive with my sword,
Make war breed peace, make peace stint war, make each
Prescribe to other as each other’s leech.
Let our drums strike.
Troilus and Cressida
Hard to seem won: but I was won, my lord,
With the first glance that ever—pardon me—
If I confess much, you will play the tyrant.
I love you now; but not, till now, so much
But I might master it: in faith, I lie;
My thoughts were like unbridled children, grown
Too headstrong for their mother. See, we fools!
Why have I blabb’d? who shall be true to us,
When we are so unsecret to ourselves?
But, though I loved you well, I woo’d you not;
And yet, good faith, I wish’d myself a man,
Or that we women had men’s privilege
Of speaking first. Sweet, bid me hold my tongue,
For in this rapture I shall surely speak
The thing I shall repent. See, see, your silence,
Cunning in dumbness, from my weakness draws
My very soul of counsel! stop my mouth.
Troilus and Cressida
Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,
Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,
A great-sized monster of ingratitudes:
Those scraps are good deeds past; which are devour’d
As fast as they are made, forgot as soon
As done: perseverance, dear my lord,
Keeps honour bright: to have done is to hang
Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
In monumental mockery. Take the instant way;
For honour travels in a strait so narrow,
Where one but goes abreast: keep then the path;
For emulation hath a thousand sons
That one by one pursue: if you give way,
Or hedge aside from the direct forthright,
Like to an enter’d tide, they all rush by
And leave you hindmost;
Or like a gallant horse fall’n in first rank,
Lie there for pavement to the abject rear,
O’er-run and trampled on: then what they do in present,
Though less than yours in past, must o’ertop yours;
For time is like a fashionable host
That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand,
And with his arms outstretch’d, as he would fly,
Grasps in the comer: welcome ever smiles,
And farewell goes out sighing. O, let not
Remuneration for the thing it was;
For beauty, wit,
High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service,
Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating time.
One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,
That all with one consent praise new-born gawds,
Though they are made and moulded of things past,
And give to dust that is a little gilt
More laud than gilt o’er-dusted.
The present eye praises the present object.
Then marvel not, thou great and complete man,
That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax;
Since things in motion sooner catch the eye
Than what not stirs. The cry went once on thee,
And still it might, and yet it may again,
If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive
And case thy reputation in thy tent;
Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of late,
Made emulous missions ‘mongst the gods themselves
And drave great Mars to faction.
Troilus and Cressida
To make a recordation to my soul
Of every syllable that here was spoke.
But if I tell how these two did co-act,
Shall I not lie in publishing a truth?
Sith yet there is a credence in my heart,
An esperance so obstinately strong,
That doth invert the attest of eyes and ears,
As if those organs had deceptious functions,
Created only to calumniate.
Was Cressid here?
Sir Toby, there you lie.
286 Twelfth Night
Sir Toby Belch
Out o’ tune, sir: ye lie. Art any more than a
steward? Dost thou think, because thou art
virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?
Sir Toby Belch
Go, write it in a martial hand; be curst and brief;
it is no matter how witty, so it be eloquent and fun
of invention: taunt him with the licence of ink:
if thou thou’st him some thrice, it shall not be
amiss; and as many lies as will lie in thy sheet of
paper, although the sheet were big enough for the
bed of Ware in England, set ‘em down: go, about it.
Let there be gall enough in thy ink, though thou
write with a goose-pen, no matter: about it.
It is; you lie, you lie:
I say thou liest, Camillo, and I hate thee,
Pronounce thee a gross lout, a mindless slave,
Or else a hovering temporizer, that
Canst with thine eyes at once see good and evil,
Inclining to them both: were my wife’s liver
Infected as her life, she would not live
The running of one glass.
A lie; you are rough and hairy. Let me have no
lying: it becomes none but tradesmen, and they
often give us soldiers the lie: but we pay them for
it with stamped coin, not stabbing steel; therefore
they do not give us the lie.
310 Winter’s Tale
You are well met, sir. You denied to fight with me
this other day, because I was no gentleman born.
See you these clothes? say you see them not and
think me still no gentleman born: you were best say
these robes are not gentlemen born: give me the
lie, do, and try whether I am not now a gentleman born.
Take 4 experts and 12 actors from the leading Dutch acting company, Toneel Groep AMsterdam. Add an alarm button to press if you want to interject. Tie it together with a funny master of ceremonies and voila! The Rabotheater was full and the promise of apples and beer onstage at the end kept us slavering.
Here are some hasty notes i made:
Shakespeare was een eenvoudige vent. Shakespeare was a simple guy. He dramatised our lives.
Ulysses speech about degree when talking about the cosmology of the Elizabethans.
Throw in some Richard 2nd laying on the ground and talking of Kings.
The Copernican versus the Ptolymean world views. Or does the sun revolve around the earth? Or the earth the sun?
The Church dictated the ancient view and scientific minds accepted in private the new. Bruno, Descartes, Huygens and Newton all represented the new.
Shakespeare lived in interesting times. The old world order was changing on all levels. Humoral psychology moved towards scientific investigation. Church and the divine right of Kings was being challenged by secular learning aided by the printing press and the growth of business and exploration. Money talks and influences power bases.
Niets is helemaal zeker. Zelfs dat niet.
Nothing is for certain. Not even that.
The City theatre or Schouwburg in Amsterdam dates from 1638. Before this rederijkers or rhetoricians met in an Academy of letters on the Keizersgracht from 1617-1637. Prior to this the same rederijkers had practiced their art since the late 15thC; wherever they could, in public space or on temporary podia.
The point is they were out there, and thinking and living and breathing on the pathos, weighing light on the ethos, if needs be to turn the logos, and spin the argument either and or both ways.
What’s being worshipped by rhetoricians? The swaying of hearts and minds through words. What greater example than Mark Antony’s oration to the crowd after Caesar’s assassination.
Rhetoric then is one aspect of early modern performance we cannot ignore. Rhetoric consists of
Pathos works on the emotions of the crowds
Ethos works on their sense of right and wrong
Logos works on the words and how we use them.
Nowadays rhetoric is still in full swing. We use it constantly in our TV shows and Films. Also politicians and religious institutions use it to justify their temporal power or heavenly sway.
here’s a pdf of rhetorical devices commonly used.
Identity viewed through the lenses of Benedick and Beatrice, Viola and Olivia.
Keats Negative capability. Harold Bloom’s thesis that Shakespeare caused the individual was mentioned too.
The mirroring of microcosm (person) and macrocosm (society, universe) too.
Shakespeare isn’t in his works, he has a capacity for vanishing.
All in all a good night out at the theatre worshipping the Bard. Wish you were here continues with nights on Ibsen, Bergman and Chekhov.
If you want to see hear and learn more about SHakespeare you could always attend one of our Shakespeare Karaoke evenings at the Badhuis theater. The difference being the audience gets to play too.