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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: April ::
Re: Biondello
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0639  Thursday, 8 April 1999.

[1]     From:   Brian Jay Corrigan <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Apr 1999 13:00:18 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 10.0629 Biondello

[2]     From:   Frank Whigham <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Apr 1999 13:05:55 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0629 Vegetables and Sex

[3]     From:   Helen Ostovich <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Apr 1999 15:37:23 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0629 Biondello

[4]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 07 Apr 1999 16:39:12 +0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0629 Biondello

[5]     From:   Mark Perew <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 7 Apr 1999 13:55:20 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0629 Biondello


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brian Jay Corrigan <
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Date:           Wednesday, 7 Apr 1999 13:00:18 -0400
Subject: 10.0629 Biondello
Comment:        RE: SHK 10.0629 Biondello

Dale Lyles writes:

>"I knew a wench married in an afternoon as she went to the garden for parsley
>to stuff a rabbit..."
>
>What is that about?

Biondello refers to the practice of Renaissance clandestine marriage, or
marriage _per verba de praesenti_--I am currently preparing a chapter on
this very law, which I would be happy to post to you if you contact me
privately at 
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  and furnish your snail mail address.

Cheers,
Brian Jay Corrigan

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Frank Whigham <
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Date:           Wednesday, 07 Apr 1999 13:05:55 -0500
Subject: 10.0629 Vegetables and Sex
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0629 Vegetables and Sex

>. . .  IV.4, the line, "I knew
>a wench married in an afternoon as she went to
>the garden for parsley to stuff a rabbit..."
>
>What is that about?

(1) Isn't it likely that "garden," "parsley," and "stuff" are together
likely to trigger associations with green gowns, mayday maypole
vegetable/sexual excitement and so forth, a la C. L. Barber,
Shakespeare's Festive Comedy? See

Phillip Stubbes, from The Anatomie of Abuses (1583): on May Day

... Against May, Whitsonday [the seventh Sunday after Easter: around May
31 or June 1] or other time, all the yung men and maides, olde men and
wives run gadding over night to the woods, groves, hils & mountains,
where they spend all the night in plesant pastimes, & in the morning
they return bringing w[ith] them birch & branches of trees, to deck
their assemblies withall, and no mervaile, for there is a great Lord
present amongst them, as superintendent and Lord over their pastimes and
sportes, namely, Sathan prince of hel: But the cheifest jewel they bring
from thence is their May-pole, which they bring home with great
veneration, as thus. They have twentie or fortie yoke of Oxen, every Oxe
having a sweet nose-gay of floures placed on the tip of his hornes, and
these Oxen drawe home this May-pole (this stinking idol rather) which is
covered all over with floures, and hearbs bound round about with strings
from the top to the bottome, and sometime painted with variable colours,
with two or three hundred men, women and children following it with
great devotion. And thus being reared up, with two handkercheefs and
flags hovering on the top, they straw the ground round about, binde
green boughes about it, set up sommer haules, bowers and arbors hard by
it. And then fall they to daunce about like as the heathen people did at
the dedication of the Idols, where of this is a perfect pattern, or
rather the  thing itself. I have heard it credibly reported (and that,
viva voce) by men of great gravitie and reputation, that of fortie,
threescore, or a hundred maides going to the wood over night, there have
scaresly the third part of them returned home againe undefiled.

These be the frutes which these cursed pastimes bring forth. Neither the
Jewes, the Turcks, Sarasins, nor pagans, nor any other nations how
wicked, or barbarous soever, have ever used such devilish exercises as
these, nay they would have been ashamed once to have named them, much
lesse, have used them.  Yet wee that would be Christians, think them not
amisse. The Lord forgive us, and remoove them from us.

(2) "Coney" was also a term of erotic endearment, no?

(3) "Get stuffed" is dated only to 1952 by the online OED, however . . .
(if  I've searched it right).

(4) There is also a related line of association between per verba de
praesenti marriages and dishonest seductions, possibly conducted ad hoc,
on the spur of the moment. See the following from my Seizures of the
Will (1996), 129-30:

At least one sixteenth-century commentator emphasized [this] abuse:
men's abuse of clandestine contract for lustful purposes. Richard
Whytford, in A Werke for Housholders (1530, 1537), voices this lament:

The ghostly ennemy doth deceyve many psones by ye pretence & colour of
matrymony in pryuate & secrete contractes. For many men whan they can
not obteyne theur unclene desyre of the woman wyl promyse marryage, &
thervpon make a contracte promyse eche vnto other sayenge. Here I take
the Margery vnto my wyfe, I therto plyght the my trouth. And she agayne,
vnto him in lyke maner.  And after that done, they suppose they maye
lawfully vse theyr unclene behauyour, and somtyme the acte and dede doth
folow, vnto the great offence of god & theyr owne soules (cited by Davis
P. Harding in "Elizabethan Betrothals and Measure for Measure" (145),
from G. E. Howard, A History of Matrimonial Institutions (1904), 1,
350.)

Furnivall similarly cites seventeen troth-plights disputed at law, of
which ten concern men who try to "sneak out of their contracts when
they've had their fill of pleasure with the women." See Furnivall, F.
J., ed. Child Marriages, Divorces, and Ratifications. Etc., in the
Diocese of Chester, 1561-6. E.E.T.S.  108. London, 1897: xliii.

Frank Whigham

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Helen Ostovich <
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Date:           Wednesday, 7 Apr 1999 15:37:23 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 10.0629 Biondello
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0629 Biondello

>We're doing Shrew at the moment and have been blessed with an amazing
>12-year-old Biondello who had us in the floor last night with the
>"horse" speech.  He and I have a question about IV.4, the line, "I knew
>a wench married in an afternoon as she went to the garden for parsley to
>stuff a rabbit..."
>
>What is that about?

This sounds very crude to me, but I note that the Norton Shakespeare and
single editions in my office avoid offering any interpretation.  A
rabbit is also a coney, or cunny, and frequently appears as a derogatory
(or affectionate) objectification of the female pudendum.  Stuffing that
sounds like fornication to me.

Helen

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 07 Apr 1999 16:39:12 +0000
Subject: 10.0629 Biondello
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0629 Biondello

>And does anyone have any insight as to why Tranio, disguised as
>Lucentio, suddenly starts talking like Hortensio in III.2, the "waiting
>for Petruchio" scene?  All I can figure is that Hortensio was in the
>scene and then someone pointed out to Bill that Hortensio was in fact in
>disguise as Litio at that point.

Could Tranio just be trying to be nice, saying reassuring stuff which
actually has no basis and turns out to false?  He always strikes me as
one of the more sympathetic characters.

Cheers,
Se

 

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