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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/182

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on 'The Evolution of Harlequin,' in which

the origin of that

capering varlet, Arrayed in blue and white and scarlet,

brown of slipper as of hat!

with whom we are familiar on the stage at Christmas-time, is traced back to an extra- ordinarily remote antiquity. The concluding paragraph of the article may be quoted as embodying the result of the author's research: "In the wind-god, shrouded in his mask of in- visibility, wearing sometimes 'a blue mantle with golden spangles,' as was the case with Wodan, wielding a rod of magic potency that causes things to vanish away and transports the souls of mortals to the under-world ; in Yama and Aerlik-khan, in Hellekin and Herlikin, in the Pied Piper and the Erlking, which share in all these characteristic features to a greater or less degree ; and in the eddying whirlwind, which is so widely held to be an ' afrit ' demon or tricksy spirit gliding across the plain in all these we recognize the elements out of which our dancing harlequin, with his black visor, his motley coat, his thaumaturgic sword and grace- ful circumvolutions, has been evolved in the lapse of time after many strange transformations."

It is indeed a far cry from Aerlik-khan, the grim Pluto of Thibetan superstition, and Yama, the dread impersonation of death in ancient India, to the lively figurant of our Christmas pantomime ; and yet the two long- divorced iaeas were once before brought together again by an obscure French dra- matist, Thomas S. Gueulette, who, probably wiser than he himself knew, entitled a comedy which he produced at Paris in 1719 ' Arlequin- Pluto ' (p. 482). JOHN HEBB.

ISABELLA COLOUR (9 th S. xi. 49). D'Israeli, in his ' Curiosities of Literature,' says :

" Fashions have frequently originated from cir- cumstances as silly as the following one. Isabella, daughter of Philip II., and wife of the Archduke Albert, vowed not to change her linen till Ostend was taken. This siege, unluckily for her comfort, lasted three years ; and the supposed colour of the archduchess's linen gave rise to a fashionable colour, hence called 1'Isabeau, or the Isabella, a kind of whitish-yellow-dingy " (ed. 1843, p. 78).


According to the gossip of 1694, as recorded by Abraham de la Pryme in the 4 Diary ' pub- lished by the Surtees Society (1870), there was another royal lady as rashly insanitary as any Isabella :

"It is very credibly and certainly reported that the King of J ranee sayd to King James, after some complements when they first met, ' Come, come King James, sit down here at my right hand, I'll make your enemys your footstool ! ' &c. But this he sayd after that he was a little pacify'd. But at first of all when he heard that the king was driven ut ot his dominions, he was in an exceeding great rage and drawing his sword, he swore by the blood

Christ that he would never put it up till he had

re-established King James on his throne ; and the queen swore that she would never put off her smock till she either see or heard that that was done." P. 38.

Who was this queen 1 ? She who had been Marquise de Maintenon? Marie Therese died in 1683, and Louis XIV. remarried early in 1684. ST. SWITHIN.


" Apropos of ' Looping the Loop ' at the Aquarium and the Topsy Turvy Railway at the Crystal Palace, Mr. Joseph Arnold Cave, one of the few veterans who have lived and can speak of over half a century's experience in the entertainment world, writes: 'This now great novelty was first introduced in London about sixty years ago in a building called Duburg's Waxwork Exhibition, Windmill Street, Haymarket, on the site of which now stands the palatial Lyons's restaurant. The public failing to take on this topsy-turvy machinery, it was taken down to a place of amusement in Rotherhithe, called the St. Helena Gardens, and there stood for a very considerable period. Both gardens and the heel-overhead arrangement failing to attract, they were swept away to make room for building purposes. I never heard of an accident occurring to any of the few who went on this exciting journey prior to its present uses.' "Stage, 7 August, 1902, p. 13.

The rest of the letter relates the history of the Windmill Street Theatre, afterwards Laurent's Casino, next the Argyll Rooms, then the Trocadero, now Lyons's Restaurant. I recollect the railway standing in the gardens about 1860, and should like to know where it is now, and when the gardens were closed. ADRIAN WHEELER.


" LOON-SLATT" (9 th S. xi. 127). Thirteen pence halfpenny was formerly hangman's wages, and became also a jocular byname for the official himself (fide Halliwell), as shown in the phrase quoted by MR. BRADLEY "Loon-slatt, a Thirteen Pence half Penny "- and repeated by Bailey with the spelling "Loon-Slate." The Scottish mark or merk was worth \3\d. sterling, but Brewer in his 4 Phrase and Fable ' says that James decreed that "the coin of silver called the mark-piece shall be current within the kingdom at the value of 13|d"

"Loon-slatt," or rather perhaps "Loon's- latt," like many other terms in the old canting glossaries, seems to hail from Scot- land, a noted gipsy habitat. "Loon " is quite Scottish, and all that need be said of it here is that I3^d. was the hangman's fee for dispatching a proletarian or loon. "Latt" I take to be identical with "lacht," a fine (see Jamieson). For the questionable 4C slatt " I can suggest nothing as to its meaning.

Since writing the above I have recon-