Page:Elizabethan People.djvu/108

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saved by proper treatment, and they forfeited them from neglect. But Shakespeare would have made nothing of that point in his choice of a word to express a bold idea. He often paid slight heed to the exact verbal signification, and left it for others to discover his meaning. And he uses forfeit (verb) absolutely in the sense of to lose several times.

"With reference to the custom a few examples will prove it. We learn from Jonson's Silent Woman, iii. 2 (430b), how the decoration was fixed: 'Or draw his own [Cutbeard's] teeth, and add them to the lutestring.' In Beaumont and Fletcher's Knight of the Burning Pestle (1611), Act III., the string is confirmed: 'Lo, where the spear [barber's pole] and copper basin are! Behold the string on which hangs many a tooth. Drawn from the gentle jaw of wandering knights!' And in The Woman Hater, iii. 3 (1607), by the same authors, is another reference: 'I will break my knife, the ensign of my former happy state, Knock out my teeth, have them hung at a barber's, and enter into religion.' Shakespeare has referred a number of times to toothache and raging teeth. It is not therefore an unlikely fancy to occur to him. One passage is indeed a remarkable parallel to the thought in the text. It is in 2 Henry VI., IV. vii. 16–19: