Dagonet “in Arthur's show—I was then Sir,” 2 HENRY IV., iii. 2. 272. “The question whether Shallow represented Sir Dagonet at Mile-end-green or Clement's inn, although it has been maintained on either side with great plausibility, must ever remain undecided; but Mr. Malone's acute and ingenious conjecture, that Arthur's show was an exhibition of archery, and not an interlude, will no longer admit of any doubt. The truth of both these positions will appear from the following circumstances. In 1682 there was published ‘A remembrance of the worthy show and shooting by the Duke of Shoreditch and his associates the worshipful citizens of London upon Tuesday the 17th of September 1583, set forth according to the truth thereof to the everlasting honour of the game of shooting in the long bow. By W. M.,’ in p. 40 of which book is this passage: ‘The prince of famous memory King Henry the Eighth, having red in the chronicles of England, and seen in his own time how armies mixed with good archers have evermore so galled the enemy, that it hath been great cause of the victory, he being one day at Mile-end when Prince Arthur and his knights were there shooting did greatly commend the game, and allowed thereof, lauding them to their encouragement.’ One should be very much inclined to suppose this decisive of the first question, and that these shows were usually held at Mile-end; but this is by no means the case. The work proceeds to state that King Henry the Eighth, keeping at one time a princely court at Windsor, caused sundry matches to be made concerning shooting with the long bow; at which one Barlo, who belonged to his majesty's guard, remaining to shoot, the king said to him, ‘Win thou all, and thou shalt be duke over all archers.’ Barlo drew his bow and won the match; whereat the king being pleased, commended him for his good archery; and the man dwelling in Shoreditch, the king named him Duke of Shoreditch. One of the successors to this duke appointed a show on the 17th of September 1583, to be held in Smithfield and other parts of the city, which is here very circumstantially described; and among many other curious particulars it is mentioned that the citizens and inhabitants of Fleetbridge, etc., followed with a show worth beholding of seemly archers; ‘then the odd devise of Saint Clements parish, which but ten days before had made the same show in their own parish, in setting up the queen's majesties stake in Hol born fields, which stakemaster Knevit, one of the gentlemen of her majesties chamber, gave unto them at his cost and charges; and a gunn worth three pound, made of gold, to be given unto him that best deserved it by shooting in a peece at the mark which was set up on purpose at Saint Jame's wall.’ This, however, was not solely a shooting with fire-arms, but also with bows: for in the account of the show itself, which immediately follows, men bearing ‘shields and shafts’ are mentioned, and ‘a worthy show of archers following.’ In the continuation of the description of the Smithfield show mention is made of ‘the baron Stirrop, whose costly stake will be in memorys after he is dead, now standing at Mile-end;’ and again, ‘And this one thing is worthy of memory, that upon the day of Prince Arthur's shooting, which was five weeks before this show, the duke, willing to beautifie the same in some seemly sort, sent a buck of that season by the marquess Barlo (the name of this person was kept up long after his decease), accompanied with many goldsmiths, who coming in satten dublets and chains of gold about their bodies, with horns at their backs, did all the way wind their horns, and presented the same to prince Arthur, who was at his tent, which was at Mile-end green.’ We see therefore that Shakespeare having both these shows in his recollection, has made Shallow, a talkative simpleton, refer to them indistinctly, and that probably by design, and with a due attention to the nature of his character. What Shallow afterwards says about the management of the little quiver fellow's piece, or caliver, will not weigh in either scale; because in all these shows there were musketeers. In that at Smithfield the feryers marched, consisting of ‘one hundred handsome fellowes with calivers on their necks, all trimly decked with white feathers in their hats.’ Maister Thomas Smith, who in Mr. Malone's note is said to have personated Prince Arthur, was ‘chiefe customer to her majesty in the port of London;’ and to him Richard Robinson, a translator of several books in the reign of Elizabeth, dedicated his Auncient order, societie and unitie laudable of Prince Arthure and his knightly armory of the round table, with a threefold assertion frendly in favour and furtherance of English archery at this day, 1583, 4to. Such part of this work as regards Prince Arthur is chiefly a translation from the French, being a description of the arms of the knights of the round table; the rest is a panegyric in verse by Robinson himself in praise of archery. It appears from the dedication that King Henry VIII. confirmed by charter to the citizens of London, the ‘famous order of knightes of prince Arthur's round table or society: like as in his life time when he sawe a good archer in deede, he chose him and ordained such a one for a knight of the same order.’ . . . Whatever part Sir Dagonet took in this show would doubtless be borrowed from Mallory's romance of the Mort Arture, which had been compiled in the reign of Henry VII. What there occurs relating to Sir Dagonet was extracted from the excellent and ancient story of Tristan de Leonnois, in which Dagonet is represented as the fool of king Arthur. He is sometimes dressed up in armour and set on to attack the knights of Cornwall, who are uniformly described as cowards. It once happened that a certain knight, who for a particular reason had been called Sir Cotte mal taillée by Sir Kay, king Arthur's seneschal, was, at the instance of Sir Kay, attacked by poor Dagonet; but the latter was very soon made to repent of his rashness and thrown over his horse's crupper. On another occasion Tristan himself, in the disguise of a fool, handles Sir Dagonet very roughly; but he, regardless of these tricks of fortune, is afterwards persuaded to attack Mark the king of Cornwall, who is in reality a coward of the first magnitude. Mark, supposing him to be Lancelot of the lake, runs away, and is pursued by the other; but the persons who had set on Sir Dagonet, becoming apprehensive for the consequences, follow them, as ‘they would not,’ says the romance, ‘for no good, that Sir Dagonet were hurt; for king Arthur loved him passing well, and made him knight with his owne hands.’ King Mark at length meets with another knight, who, perceiving his cowardice, attacks Dagonet and tumbles him from his horse. In the romance of Sir Perceval li Gallois, Kay, the seneschal of Arthur, being offended with Dagonet for insinuating that he was not the most valorous of knights, kicks him into the fire. So much for the hero personated by Master Justice Shallow” (DOUCE) .
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