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same, viz. to avoid the blow of the sword or sand-bag, by striking the quintain in a particular place.
It might have been expected that some instance had been given of the use of these quintains in England; and for want of it an objection may be taken to this method of illustrating the present subject : but let it be remembered, that Shakspeare has indiscriminately blended the usages of all nations; that he has oftentimes availed himself of hearsay evidence; and again, that as our manners and customs have at all times been borrowed from the French and other nations, there is every reason to infer that this species of the quintain had found its way into England. It is hardly needful to add, that a knowledge of very many of our ancient sports and domestic employments is not now to be attained. Historians have contented themselves to record the vices of kings and princes, and the minutiæ of battles and sieges; and, with very few exceptions, they have considered the discussion of private manners (a theme perhaps equally interesting to posterity) as beneath their notice, and of little or no importance.
As a military sport or exercise, the use of the quintain is very ancient, and may be traced even among the Romans. It is mentioned in Justinian's Code, Lib. III. tit. 43; and its most probable etymology is from “ Quintus,” the name of its inventor. In the days of chivalry it was the substitute or rehearsal of tilts and tournaments, and was at length adopted, though in a ruder way, by the common people, becoming amongst them a very favourite amusement. Many instances occur of its use in several parts of France, particularly as a seignorial right exacted from millers, watermen, new-married men, and others; when the party was obliged, under some penalty, to run at the quintain upon Whitsunday and other particular times, at the lord's castle, for his diversion. Sometimes it was practised upon the water, and then the quintain was either placed in a boat, or erected in the middle of the river. Something of this kind is described from Fitzstephen by Stowe in his Survey, p. 143, edit. 1618, 4to. and still continues to be practised upon the Seine at Paris. Froissart mentions, that the shield quintain was used in Ireland in the reign of Richard II. In Wales it is still practised at weddings, and at the village of Offham, near Town Malling in Kent, there is now standing a quintain, resembling that copied from Stowe, opposite to the dwelling-house of a family that is obliged under some tenure to support it; but I do not find that any use has been ever made of it within the recollection of the inhabitants.
Shakspeare then has most probably alluded to that sort of quintain which resembled the human figure; and if this be the case, the speech of Orlando may be thus explained: “ I am unable to thank you ; for, surprized and subdued by love, my intellectual powers, which are my better parts, fail me; and I resemble the quintain, whose human or active part being thrown down, there remains nothing but the lifeless trunk or block which once upheld it.”
Or, if better parts do not refer to the quintain, “ that which here stands up” means the human part of the quintain, which may be also not unaptly called a lifeless block. DOUCE.
* All's WELL THAT ENDS WELL.] The story of All's well that ends well, or, as I suppose it to have been sometimes called, Love's Labour Wonne, is originally indeed the property of Boccace, but it came immediately to Shakspeare from Painter's Giletta of Narbon, in the First Vol. of the Palace of Pleasure, 4to. 1566, p. 88. FARMER.
Shakspeare is indebted to the novel only for a few leading circumstances in the graver parts of the piece. The comic business appears to be entirely of his own formation. STEEVENS.
This comedy, I imagine, was written in 1598. See An Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. II.