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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: May ::
Re: "Ill May Day" Rhetoric
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0888  Friday, 9 May 2003

[1]     From:   Rainbow Saari <
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        Date:   Friday, 9 May 2003 08:10:59 +1200
        Subj:   "ill May Day" rhetoric

[2]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Thursday, 08 May 2003 21:46:07 -0300
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0862 "Ill May Day" Rhetoric


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rainbow Saari <
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Date:           Friday, 9 May 2003 08:10:59 +1200
Subject:        "ill May Day" rhetoric

Al Margary puzzles;

'Some phrasing in John Lincoln's rhetoric in Hall I find most
mysterious.  I have not been able to get a handle on it through OED2,
Brewer's Phrase & Fable, and other references, or Google.
Here's part of his complaint (addressed to Dr. Beal):'

"And besyde this, they growe into suche a multitude that it is to be
looked vpon, for I sawe on a Sondaye this Lent .vi.C.  straungers
shotyng at the Popyngaye with Crosbowes, and they kepe suche assemblies
and fraternities together, & make suche a gathering to their common
boxe, that euery botcher wil holde plee with the citie of London."

Here's my farthing's worth on the following;

--Common box?  It's not common boxwood or common box turtle, so what is
it?

--Botcher (if not butcher) is a mender, patcher, repairer, or perhaps
specifically tailor who mends, or a cobbler.

--Hold plea means to try actions at law, to have jurisdiction; to try an
action.  Why would a mender or cobbler take some legal action?

I suspect Lincoln's language is slang for something to the effect of
'they so monopolise the whores that every ( English ) fornicator ( or
flesh-monger/ pander) wants to sue them ( take action against them-a
punning reference to the sexual action the frustrated Londoners wish
they were having more of ? ).

or; 'the strangers  keep so much to their own whores that every
flesh-monger/pander  is losing business and  they ( the botchers/
butchers / flesh-mongers) will  soon  have to complain to their Guild
(the Livery Companies of  the City of London controlled trade
practices)'  Thus, the gist of LIncoln's complaint, as expressed in
these lines, comes across as somewhat humorous xenophobia.

The EMEDD  offers in support of  this interpretation,

 Palsgrave (Palsgrave 1530 @ 72443) Boxe for medicyns/ or to put any
other thyng in

 Florio (Florio 1598 @ 16401845) Custo dia, charge, keeping, custodie.
Also a cace or boxe to keepe any thing in.

 Florio (Florio 1598 @ 17291123) Grippia, a case or boxe wherein a mason
doth put his chisels or tooles

 'their common boxe'  ( 'boxe' is plural here ) is slang for 'their
whores'  because a box  is a place where 'things' and 'tools', both
euphemisms for a man's penis, may be put, and a 'comon boxe' is one that
everyone may use.

Besides the meanings you have correctly identified for 'botcher', the
term botcher/ butcher was slang for "fornicator; bugger. Flesh-monger:
16th c., butcher, pander...Botchour: obs. sp. of 'butcher'.  (Frankie
Rubinstein, A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Sexual Puns and their
Significance, 30( NY,1989)

Hope you find this helpful, Al.

Rainbow Saari

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Thursday, 08 May 2003 21:46:07 -0300
Subject: 14.0862 "Ill May Day" Rhetoric
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0862 "Ill May Day" Rhetoric

Hi Al,

>Now, the Popinjay was possibly a tavern with an adjacent archery range
>or else simply a figure of a parrot on a pole as a target.  So the
>foreign merchants and craftsmen amuse themselves by shooting arrows on a
>Sunday--not exactly something to stir the London apprentices.  But the
>foreigners "make suche a gathering to their common boxe, that euery
>botcher wil holde plee with the citie of London."

Their gathering together in a large body to practice military skills
would be bound to appear threatening, if you're threatened by foreigners
generally.

I'm interested in the Popinjay, however.  If it's a term for a target,
then this gives a whole new meaning to Hotspur's insult towards his
interlocutor in 1 Henry 4.

Yours,
Sean.

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