Imagens das páginas

the nimble French, maiestik Spanish, courtly Italian, masculine Dutch, happily compounding Greek, mysticall Hebrew, and physicall Arabicke; or that is otherwise transported with the admirable knowledge of forraine policies, complimentall behaviour, naturall dispositions, or whatsoever else belongs to any people or country under heaven ; he shall, to his abundant satisfaction, be made happy in his expectation and successe if he please to repair to the signe of the Globe.

Again, Ben Jonson's "Every Man out of his Humour" introduces Shift, "a threadbare shark," whose "profession is skeldring and odling, his bank Paul's." Speaking of Shift in the opening scene of the third act, which the dramatist has laid in "the middle aisle of Paules," Cordatus says that Shift is at that moment in Paules "for the advancement of a siquis or two, wherein he hath so varied himselfe, that if any one of them take, he may hull up and doune in the humorous world a little longer." Shift's productions deserved to succeed, as they were masterpieces of their kind, and might even now, though the world is so much older, and professes to be so much wiser, be studied with advantage by gentlemen who cultivate the literature of advertisements in the interest of certain firms. Here are some of his compositions, which would certainly shine among the examples of the present day :—

If there be any lady or gentlewoman of good carriage that is desirous to entertain to her private uses a young, straight, and upright gentleman, of the age of five of six and twenty at the most; who can serve in the nature of a gentleman usher, and hath little legs of purpose,* and a black satin suit of his own to go before her in; which suit, for the more sweetening, now lies in lavender ;t and can hide his face with her fan if need require, or sit in the cold at the stair foot for her, as well as another gentleman; let her subscribe her name and place, and diligent respect shall be given.

* Small calveless legs are mentioned as characteristic of a gentleman in many of our old plays, and will be observed in most full-length portraits of the sixteenth and seventeenth century.

+ To "lie in lavender" was a cant term for being in pawn.

The following is even an improvement:—

If this city, or the suburbs of the same, do afford any young gentleman of the first, second, or third head, more or less, whose friends are but lately deceased, and whose lands are but new come into his hands, that, to be as exactly qualified as the best of our ordinary gallants are, is affected to entertain the most gentlemanlike use of tobacco; as first to give it the most exquisite perfume ; then to know all the delicate, sweet forms for the assumption of it; as also the rare corollary and practice of the Cuban ebolition, euripus and whiff,* which we shall receive or take in here at London, and evaporate at Uxbridge, or farther, if it please him. If there be any such generous spirit, that is truly enamour'd of these good faculties; may it please him but by a note of his hand to Specify the place or ordinary where he uses to eat and lie; and most sweet attendance with tobacco and pipes of the best sort, shall be ministered. Stct quaso, candide lector.

It is noticeable that most of these advertisements commence with the English equivalent for the Latin si quis, and furthermore that Ben Jonson concludes with the same formula as Caxton, siet quaso, imploring the "candid reader" not to tear off the bill. The word siquis is of frequent occurrence in the old writers. Green, for instance, in his "Tu Quoque," says of certain women that "they stand like the devil's siquis at a tavern or alehouse door." At present the term has more particular reference to ecclesiastical matters. A candidate for holy orders who has not been educated at the University, or has been absent some time from thence, is still obliged to have his intention proclaimed, by having a notice to that effect hung up in the church of the place where he has recently resided. If, after a certain time, no objection is made, a certificate of his siquis, signed by the churchwardens, is given to him to be presented to the bishop when he seeks ordination.

At the time when the siquis was the most common form

* Tricks performed with tobacco smoke were fashionable amongst the gallants of the period, and are recommended in Decker's "Gull's Horn-Book," and commended in many old plays. Making rings of smoke was a favourite amusement in those days.

of advertisement, other methods were used in order to give publicity to certain events. There were the proclamations of the will of the King, and of the Lord Mayor, whose edicts were proclaimed by the common trumpeter. There were also two richly carved and gilt posts at the door of the Sheriffs office,* on which (some annotators of old plays say) it was customary to stick enactments of the Town Council. The common crier further made known matters of minor and commercial importance, and every shopkeeper still kept an apprentice at his door to attract the attention of the passers-by with a continuous " What do you lack, master?" or "mistress," followed by a voluble enumeration of the wares vended by his master. The bookseller, as in ancient Rome, still advertised his new works by placards posted against his shop, or fixed in cleft sticks. This we gather from an epigram of Ben Jonson to his bookseller, in which he enjoins him rather to sell his works to Bucklersbury, to be used for wrappers and bags, than to force their sale by the usual means :—

Nor have my little leaf on post or walls,
Or in cleft sticks advanced to make calls
For termers or some clerk-like serving-man.

Announcements of shows were given in the manner still followed by the equestrian circus troops in provincial towns, viz., by means of bills and processions. Thus notice of bearbaitings was given by the bears being led about the town, preceded by a flag and some noisy instruments. In the Duke of Newcastle's play of "The Humorous Lovers" (1677), the shambearward says, " I'll set up my bills, that the gamesters of London, Horseleydown, Southwark, and Newmarket, may come in and bait him before the ladies. But first, boy, go, fetch me a bagpipe; we will walk the streets in triumph, and give the people notice of our sport" Such a procession was, of course, a noisy one, and for that reason

* See prints in " Archseologia," xix. p. 3S3.

it was one of the plagues the mischievous page sent to torment Morose, "the gentleman that loves no noise," in Ben Jonson's "Silent Woman." "I entreated a beanvard one day," says the page, "to come down with the dogs of some four parishes that way, and I thank him he did, and cried his game under Master Morose's window." And in Howard's " English Monsieur" (1674), William, a country youth, says, "I saw two rough-haired things led by the nose with two strings, and a bull like ours in the country, with a brave garland about his head, and an horse, and the least gentleman upon him that ever I saw in my life, and brave bagpipes playing before 'um which is explained by Comely as occasioned by its being' " bearbaiting day, and he has met with the bull,-and the bears, and the jack-anapes on horseback." Trials of skill in the noble art of self-defence were announced in a similar manner, by the combatants promenading the streets divested of their upper garments, with their sleeves tucked up, sword or cudgel in hand, and preceded by a drum. Finally, for the use of the community at large, there was the bellman or town crier, a character which. occupies a prominent place in all the old sets of "Cries of London." In one of the earliest collections of that kind,* engraved early in the seventeenth century, we see him represented with a bunch of keys in his hand, which he no doubt proclaims as "found." Underneath is the following " notice : "—

O yes. Any man or woman that
Can tell any tidings of a little
Mayden-childe of the age of 24
Yeares. Bring word to the cryar
And you shall be pleased for

your labour
And God's blessing.

* Vide Decker's "Belman of London: Bringing to Light the most notorious Villanies that are now practised in the Kingdome." Lon. don, 1608.

[merged small][graphic][merged small]

From Thomas Decker's Lanthome and Candle Light: or. The Bell-Man's Second Night's Walke. 1608-9.

« AnteriorContinuar »