Page:Notes and Queries - Series 12 - Volume 6.djvu/87

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-wisest fool.' Sometimes, as Henley has stated, it was two asses. Thus, in Beaumont and Fletcher's - 1 Queen of Corinth,' III. i. :

Neanthes. He is another ass, he says ; I fbelieve him.

Uncle. We be three, heroical prince.

Neanthes. Nay then, we must have the picture of 'em, and the word (motto) nos sumus. Halliwell : The sign is still preserved in England, where a few taverns still exist the sign consisting of two grotesque or idiotic heads, and the inscrip- tion : ' We three loggerheads be.' Plaine home-spun stuffe shall now proceed from

me, 3Iuch like unto the Picture of Wee Three.

Taylor's ' Farewell to the Tower-Bottles,' 1622. The marginal note to this is : ' The picture of two fooles, and the third looking on, I doe fitly com-

?are with the two black bottles and myself e.' The Clown referred to the picture of three fools, .and Sir Toby retaliated by referring to the picture of three asses. Ed.)"

The conceit which this picture embodies has been used, so I believe, in modern instances, and another phrase of Shake- speare's has been associated with it, namely, the line " When we shall three meet again." The interesting fact about the Dutch picture referred to in ' N. & Q.' is that it is .a "painting of three grotesque figures," and that the onlooker is supposed to be the fourth fool. Hence the inscription " We Four Fools," and the Latin inscription "" Gaudemus, quia te praesente, stulti qua- .tuor." JOSEPH J. MACSWEENEY.

Howth, co. Dublin.

This painting belongs to a class which at one time was not uncommon.

Sir Andrew. Hera comes the fool, i' faith.

Enter CLOWN.

Cloion. How now, my hearts ! did you never -see the picture of ' We Three ' ? Sir Toby. Welcome, ass.

' Twelfth Night,' Act II., sc. iii.

"We have a similar reference in Fletcher's ' The Queen of Corinth ' :

Sosicles. Thou a gentleman ? thou an ass.

Neanthes. He is ne'er the farther from being & gentleman, I assure you.

Tutor. May it please your grace, I am another.

Neanthes. He is another ass, he says ; I Relieve him.

Uncle. We be three, heroical prince.

Neanthes. Nay, then, we must have the picture of 'em, and the word nos sumus.

Act III., sc. i.


SIB LEES KNOWLES'S picture seems to be & variant of a very ancient jest. Compare

  • Twelfth Night,' II. iii. 16 :

Cloum (to Sir Toby Belch and Sir Andrew Ague-cheek). How now, my hearts ? Did you never see the picture of we three ?

Malone's note on this was :

" I believe Shakespeare had in his thoughts a common sign, in which two wooden heads (or two fools drinking) are exhibited, with this in- scription under it : ' We three loggerheads be.' The spectator or reader is supposed to make the third."

Mr. Morton Luce points out that Sir Toby's retort : " Welcome, ass," refers to " the well-known picture of two donkeys' heads, or donkeys," which bore the inscrip- tion " We three asses be." Halliwell quotes John Taylor, the Water-Poet's ' Farewell to the Tower Bottles,' 1622 :

Plaine home-spun stuffe shall now proceed from

me, Much like unto the picture of Wee Three.

On this the marginal note is

" The picture of two fooles, and the third looking on, I doe fitly compare with the two blacke bottles and my selfe."

In the 'Life of Richard Wilson,' by T. Wright, published in 1824, it is recorded that this eminent artist passed the last years of his life in North Wales, at Mould, and " with his relation, the late Mrs. Catherine Jones, of Colomondie, near the village of Llanverris, now called Loggerheads, a few miles from Mould." The author visited the district and further records of Loggerheads that

" This singular appellation owes its origin to the subject of the sign painted by Wilson for the village ale-house, and upon which are exhibited the heads of two very jolly-looking fellows, grinning and staring out of the picture towards the spectator ; underneath are written, in very legible characters, the words : ' We three Logger- heads be.' The painting retains its elevated situation to this day, though, perhaps, little of the original colour may remain, it having been more than once retouched since Wilson's time."


In the Irving Edition of Shakespeare Mr. Arthur Symon comments on this passage as follows :

" An allusion to a common old sign representing two fools or loggerheads, under which was inscribed : ' We three Loggerheads be,' the spectator being the third. There is at the present day [1890] a public-bouse in Upper Bed Cross Street, Leicester, which has the same figure and device on its sign-board. Dekker (' The Gull's Hornbook,' ch. vi., ' How a Gallant should Behave Himself in a Playhouse ') says, speaking of the fops whose fancy it was to sit on the stage : ' Assure yourself by continual residence, you are the first and principal man in election to begin the number of " We three." '


Home House, Kell's Lane, Low Fell, Gateshead.

[ST. SWITHIN also thanked for reply.]