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to the quintaine, as well as to the speaker, the board abovementioned, and not any field or trophy, must have been alluded to.
Our author has in Macbeth used “ my better part of man" for manly Spirit :
"Accursed be the tongue that tells me so,
“ For it has cow'd my better part of man.” MALONE. The explanations of this passage, as well as the accounts of the quintain, are by no means satisfactory ; nor have the labours of the critic or the antiquary been exhausted. The whole of Orlando's speech should seem to refer to the quintain, but not to such a one as has been described in any of the preceding notes. Mr. Guthrie is accused of having borrowed his account from Matthew Paris, an author with whom, as it has been already observed, Shakspeare was undoubtedly not acquainted; but this charge is erroneous, for no such passage as that above cited is to be found in M. Paris.
This writer does indeed speak of the quintain under the year 1253, but in very different words. Eodem tempore juvenes Londinenses ftatuto pavone pro bravio ad ftadium quod quintena vulgariter dicitur, vires proprias & equorum cursus sunt experti. He then proceeds to ftate that some of the King's pages, and others belonging to the houshold, being offended at these sports, abused the Londoners with foul language, calling them fcurvy clowns and greasy rascals, and ventured to dispute the prize with them; the consequence of which was, that the Londoners received them very briskly, and so belaboured their backs with the broken lances, that they were either put to flight, or tumbled from their horses and most terribly bruised. They afterwards went before the King, the tears still trickling from their eyes, and complained of their treatment, beseeching that he would not suffer so great an offence to remain unpunished; and the King, with his usual spirit of revenge, extorted from the citizens a very large fine. So far M. Paris ; but Mr. Malone has through some miitake cited Robertus Monachus, who wrote before M. Paris, and has left an extremely curious account of the Crusades. He is describing the arrival of some messengers from Babylon, who, upon entering the Christian camp, find to their great astonishment (for they had heard that the Christians were perishing with fear and hunger) the tents curiously ornamented, and the young men practising themselves and their horses in tilting against shields hung upon poles. In the oldest edition of this writer, instead of “quintana ludus," it is “ ludus equeftris.” However, this is certainly not the quintain that is here wanted, and therefore Mr. Malone has substituted another, copied indeed from a contemporary writer, but still not illustrative of the passage in question. I shall beg leave then to present the reader
with some others, from which it will appear, that the quintain was a military exercise in Shakspeare's time, and not a mere rustic sport, as Mr. Malone imagines.
No. 1. is copied from an initial letter in an Italian book, printed in 1560. Here is the figure of a man placed upon the trunk of a tree, holding in one hand a shield, in the other a bag of sand. No. 2. is the Saracen quintain from Pluvinel' inftručtion du Roi Louis XIII, dans l'exercise de monter à cheval. This sort of quinrain, according to Menestrier, was invented by the Germans, who, from their frequent wars with the Turks, accustomed their soldiers to point their lances against the figure of their enemy. The skill consisted in shivering the lance to pieces, by striking it against the head of the man, for if it touched the shield, the figure turned round and generally struck the horseman a violent blow with his sword. No. 3. is the Flemish quintain, copied from a print after Wouvermans; it is called La bague Flamande, from the ring which the figure holds in his right hand; and here the object was to take away the ring with the point of the lance, for if it struck any other part, the man turned round and hit the rider with his sand-bag. This is a mixture of the quintain and running at the ring, which two sports have been some how or other in like manner confounded by the Italians, who sometimes express the running
at the ring by correre alla quintana. The principle of all these was the fame, viz. to avoid the blow of the sword or sand-bag, by striking the quintain in a particular place.
It might have been expected that some instance had been given of the use of these quintains in England; and for want of it an objection may be taken to this method of illustrating the present subject : but let it be remembered, that Shakspeare has indiscriminately blended the usages of all nations; that he has oftentimes availed himself of hearsay evidence; and again, that as our man. ners and customs have at all times been borrowed from the French and other nations, there is every reason to infer that this species of the quintain had found its way into England. It is hardly needful to add, that a knowledge of very many of our ancient Sports and domestic employments is not now to be attained. Historians have contented themselves to record the vices of kings and princes, and the minutiæ of battles and sieges; and, with very few exceptions, they have considered the discussion of private manners (a theme perhaps equally interesting to posterity,) as beneath their notice and of little or no importance.
As a military sport or exercise, the use of the quintain is very ancient, and may be traced even among the Romans. It is mentioned in Juftinian's Code, Lib. III. Tit. 43 ; and its most probable etymology is from “ Quintus," the name of its inventor. In the days of chivalry it was the substitute or rehearsal of tilts and tournaments, and was at length adopted, though in a ruder way, by the common people, becoming amongst them a very favourite amusement. Many instances occur of its use in several parts of France, particularly as a seignorial right exacted from millers, watermen, new-married men, and others; when the party was obliged, under some penalty, to run at the quintain upon Whitsunday and other particular times, at the lord's castle for his diversion. Sometimes it was practised upon the water, and then the quintain was either placed in a boat, or erected in the middle of the river. Something of this kind is described from Fitzstephen by Stowe in his Survey, p. 143, edit. 1618, 4to. and still continues to be practised upon the Seine at Paris. Froissart mentions, that the shield quintain was used in Ireland in the reign of Richard II. In Wales it is still practised at weddings, and at the village of Offham, near Town Malling in Kent, there is now standing a quintain, resembling that copied from Stowe, opposite the dwelling-house of a family that is obliged under some tenure to support it, but I do not find that any use has been ever made of it within the recol. lection of the inhabitants.
Shakspeare then has most probably alluded to that sort of quintain which resembled the human figure; and if this be the case, the speech of Orlando may be thus explained : “ I am unable to thank you ; for, surprized and subdued by love, my intellectual powers, which are my better parts, fail me; and I resemble the quintain, whose human or active part being thrown down, there remains nothing but the lifeless trunk or block which once upheld it.”
Or, if better parts do not refer to the quintain, “ that which here stands up" means the human part of the quintain, which may be also not unaptly called a lifeless block. Douce.