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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
A Thought for St. David's Day
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0653  Thursday, 11 March 2004

From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Mar 2004 07:19:00 EST
Subject: 15.0611 A Thought for St. David's Day
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0611 A Thought for St. David's Day

Falstaff tells Hal "There's neither honesty nor manhood nor good
fellowship in thee," if he will not come robbing. He claims robbery as
his vocation and says, "Tis no sin for a man to labour in his vocation."
  Apparently this is part of his essential Welshness...

Here's a story from C Mery Talys [100 Merry Tales] the Tudor jest book
that Benedick claims as the source of Beatrice's good wit. [It's also
the source of several incidents in The Merry Devil of Edmonton, a play
that Shakespeare probably acted in c1602.]  It contains a number of
'Welsh jokes'. In common with other subdued foreigners [e.g., Mexicans
as seen by Texans, the Wild Irish as seen by Tudor Englishmen, the rest
of the world-- barbaros-- as seen by the ancient Greeks] the Welsh are
regarded as laughingstocks, violent and ignorant, who live across the
border and speak an incomprehensible gibberish.

"A Welshman, dwelling in a wild place of Wales, came to his curate in
the time of Lent and was confessed. And when his confession was in
manner at the end the curate asked an he had any other thing to say that
grieved his conscience; which sore abashed [he] answered no words a good
while. At last by exhortation of his ghostly father he said that there
was one thing in his mind that greatly grieved his conscience which he
was ashamed to utter, for it was so grievous he trowed God would never
forgive him. To which the curate replied that God's mercy was above all,
and bad him not despair in the mercy of God, for whatsoever it was, if
he were repentant, that God would forgive him.  And so by long
exhortation he showed it and said thus: 'Sir, it happened once that as
my wife was making a cheese upon a Friday, I would have 'sayed whether
it had been salt or fresh and took a little of the whey in my hand and
put it in my mouth; and ere I was 'ware, part of it went down my throat
against my will, and so I broke my fast.'  To whom the curate said: 'An
if there be no other thing, I warrant God shall forgive thee.'  So when
he had comforted him with the mercy of God, the curate prayed him to
answer a question and to tell him truth, and when the Welshman had
promised to tell the truth, the curate said that there were robberies
and murders done nigh the place where he dwelt and divers men found
slain, and asked whether he knew aught pointing to any of them. To whom
he answered and said yes, and said he had been privy to many of them and
did help to rob and slay divers of them. Then the curate asked him why
he did not confess him thereof. The Welshman answered and said he took
that for no sin, for it was custom amongst them that when any booty came
of any rich merchant riding that it was but a true-neighbor deed, one to
help another when one called another, and so they held it but for good
fellowship and neighborhood."

I'd say there's a "whiff of potential disorder" in this Welshness...

Lloyd the Bookstore

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