Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 9.djvu/410

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


404


NOTES AND QUERIES. tn s. ix. MAY 23, i9u.


"priest's" boast of having turned off 162 " couple " (he speaks of them as a specie? of game !) in a comparatively short perioc and their genealogical importance, the general ignorance of the present ownership of the papers seems remarkable.

I hope some day to see in the columns 01 ' N. & Q.' a note as to the records if any there be of Lamberton Toll Bar, the Scot tish terminus on the East Coast route to matrimony. BRADSTOW.


WEBSTER ; A QUESTION OF AUTHORSHIP.

(See ante, p. 382.)

IT may be thought that the occurrence in ' A Cure for a Cuckold ' of some half-dozen unusual words also found in Heywood is but slender evidence in support of Webster's authorship, but when viewed in the light of the frequent use of Heywoodian words in ' Appius and Virginia,' it seems to me a fact of considerable significance. That the in- fluence of Heywood's vocabulary is less evident than in ' Appius and Virginia ' is precisely what one would expect if the generally received opinion, that ' A Cure for a 'Cuckold ' followed ' The Devil's Law Case,' and preceded the Roman play, is correct.

A surer indication of Webster's hand in

' A Cure for a Cuckold ' is the constant

appearance of certain words that are also

of frequent occurrence in his acknowledged

plays.

Most writers have a particular affection for certain words, and reveal themselves by their constant use of them. One of Web- ster's favourite words is noble. It occurs X approximately) seventeen times in ' The White Devil,' twenty-four times in 'The Duchess of Malfy,' twenty -seven times in 'The Devil's Law Case,' and no fewer than sixty-six times in ' Appius and Virginia.' " The extraordinary frequency of the adjective in this last play is largely accounted for by its lavish uss as a formal mode of address, no doubt deemed appropriate in a Roman play : " noble lord," " noble Icilius," " noble Virginias," &c. ; and if such examples are excluded, the figures are fairly even. It occurs twenty times also in ' A Cure for a Cuckold. " If the frequent use of the word is of itself con- sidered to be of trivial value as an argument in favour of Webster's authorship, some parallel uses may be noted :

(a) May you enjoy all your noble wishes.

III. i. (Hazlitt, iv. 49).


Compare :

Pursue your noble wishes.

' W. D.,' I. ii. (ii. 15). While we two haste to our noble wishes. ' D. L. C.,' I. ii. (iii. 27).

(6) ... .herein you most nobly expressed.

III. i. (iv. 45). Compare :

Now you express yourself most nobly. ' D. L. C.,' I. ii. (iii. 20).

(c) You all speak nobly.

I. ii. (iv. 19). Compare :

Why, you speak nobly.

' D. L. C.,' II. i. (iii. 38).

(d) ... .my guest is a noble fellow.

V. i. (iv. 90). Compare :

Like a hangman Not like a noble fellow.

' W. D.,' V. ii. (ii. 138). 'Tis a noble old fellow.

' D. M.,' V. i. (ii. 255). A most noble fellow I

' D. L. C.,' III. iii. (iii/ 72).

Strange is another of Webster's pet words : sixteen times in ' The White Devil,' seven imes in ' The Duchess of Malfy,' twenty- six times in 'The Devil's Law Case,' ten

imes in ' Appius and Virginia.' In ' A

Cure for a Cuckold ' it occurs sixteen times. The following examples may be noted. Used as an exclamation :

And kill that friend ? strange I

III. i. (iv. 46). Strange ! this expresses That you did love me.

V. i. (iv. 73). Strange ! you deliver riddles.

V. i. (iv. 87). ompare :

Frost i' th' dog-days I Strange !

' W. D.,' III. ii. (ii. 212). What 's here ? O strange !

'D. L. C.,' IV. i. (iii. 76). Strange, unheard of I

'D. L. C.,' IV. ii. (iii. 101).

In one instance, the same exclamation is met with the same reply :

Lessingham. Most strange'! ^Clare. 'Tis true. IV. ii. (iv. 70) .

Francisco. Most strange ! Zanche. Most true. ' W. D.,' V. i. (ii. 122).

Compare also Lessingham's comment on reading Clare's letter commanding him to " kill for her sake the friend that loves him dearest " :

And what might that one be ? 'tis a strange difficulty. I. i. (iv. 13).

with Contarino's comment on reading Jolenta's letter :

'Tis a strange injunction, what should be the business ? ' D.L.C.,' I. i. (iii. 17).