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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/344

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336


NOTES AND QUERIES. [9* s. XL APRIL 25, 1903.


sense ; the word is used, or was, in Scotland. It is not likely that such dull jokes were fired off at the Chancellor's table." John, Baron Redesdale, was Lord High Chancellor of Ire- land from 15 March, 1802, to February, 1806.

HENRY GERALD HOPE. 119, Ems Road, Claphara, S.W.

Perhaps the meaning of this word may be a " noisy empty person," and may be found in the concrete form in the word bletherin, which, unless I am mistaken, may be seen in the poems of Burns. Sir Walter Scott intro- duces us to a Lord of Session named Lord Bladderskate in 'Redgauntlet':

" ' Entirely out of favour to ray old acquaintance, your father,' said Peter [Peebles], with a benign and patronising countenance, 'out of respect to your father, and ray old intimacy with Lord Bladder- skate.' "Letter Thirteenth.

In Halliwell's ' Dictionary ' blether is defined as "a bladder, Var. Dial. Also to make a great noise, Line." JOHN PICKFORD, M.A. Newbourne Rectory, Woodbridge.

PARALLEL PASSAGES (9 th S. x. 285). Another parallel to Tennyson is the following senti- ment : " Tis better to be left than never to have been lov'd " (Mrs. Mar wood, in Congreve's ' Way of the World,' Act II. sc. i.). H. C.

THE PAUCITY OF BOOKS IN ELIZABETHAN TIMES: SHAKESPEARE ABROAD (9 th S. xi. 44, 150). The manner and extent of Shake- speare's decline in popularity in the seven- teenth century are well set forth in Dryden's 'Essay of Dramatic Poesy.' Challenged to say whether Ben Jonson is not the chief of all modern dramatic poets, Neander (who is, I suppose, Dryden himself) says that he must first "speak somewhat of Shakespeare and Fletcher, his Rivals in Poesy ; and one of them, in my opinion, at least his Equal, perhaps his Superior." That this "one" is Shakespeare is clear from the panegyric that immediately follows; after which Dryden continues :

" The consideration of this made Mr. Hales, of Eton, say, ' That there was no subject of which any poet ever writ^but he would produce it much better treated of in Shakespeare.' And however others are now generally preferred before him, yet the Age wherein he lived (which had contemporaries with mm, Fletcher and Johnson) never equalled them to him in their esteem. And in the last King's Court, when Ben's reputation was at [the] highest, Sir Joba Suckling, and, with him, the greater part of the Courtiers, set our Shakespeare far above him [that is, above Jonson]."

A little further on Dryden adds incidentally that "now" (1665-7) two of Beaumont and Fletchers plays are acted for one of Shake- speare's or Jonson 's, the reason being that


" there is a certain Gaiety in their Comedies, and Pathos in their more serious Plays, which suit generally with all men's humours. Shakespeare's Language is likewise a little obsolete ; and Ben Johnson's Wit comes short of theirs." He concludes with the ever- famous words : " I admire him [Jonson] ; but I love Shakespeare." We must remember that this was written in an age of which Mr. Chesterton well says, " Not only was it too indolent for great morality, it was too indolent even for great art." C. C. B.

In answer to MR. GEORGE STRONACH'S most interesting reply, I may say that I am well acquainted with all the Spanish and Italian sources of 'Romeo and Juliet ' which he men- tions, and especially with Lope de Vega's ' Castelvines y Monteses/ which, according to the best Spanish critics, exercised much influence on Calderon's 'La Devocion de la Cruz/ which was also largely modelled on Lope de Vega's 'El Condenado por Desconfiado.' As it is some three years since I made those notes, MR. STRONACH may be right in saying that I had Lope's play even more than Calderon's in my mind. But in that case he only transfers the difficulty some fifteen years further back. 'Romeo and Juliet' must have certainly been known to Lope.

I must have expressed myself badly if MR, STRONACH took me to mean that our Charles I. gave Calderon a copy of Shakespeare. What 1 meant to say was that both Charles I. and Calderon may have learnt to know Shake- speare through Lord Digby, who was our ambassador at Madrid, and the intimate friend of Lope. There were large English colleges at Salamanca and Valladolid as well as at Coimbra, and play-acting was a recog- nized means of teaching languages. Calderon was intended for service in the Netherlands, and would learn English before he left Spain in 1622.

I cannot deal with the other points now, but if MR. STRONACH would like to see some type-written notes which I have on the whole subject of the knowledge of Shake- speare in Calderon, I shall be happy to place them at his disposal, and perhaps he will inform us of his opinion of them in your columns. He is right in thinking the authors of the letters I mentioned were about the Court, and will, I think, find much of interest as to books in the West Country in ' Somerset- shire Wills/ just published. May I point out to MR. E. YARDLEY that there are endless untranslated French and Italian quotations in Shakespeare, as well as Latin 1 Z.