fool “and death—To please the,” PERICLES, iii. 2. 42. “I have seen (though present means of reference to it are beyond my reach) an old Flemish print in which Death is exhibited in the act of plundering a miser of his bags, and the Fool (discriminated by his bauble, etc.) is standing behind, and grinning at the process” (STEEVENS) . “Cerimon in most express terms declares that he feels more real satisfaction in his liberal employment as a physician, than he should in the uncertain pursuit of honour, or in the mere accumulation of wealth; which would assimilate him to a miser, the result of whose labour is merely to entertain the fool and death. . . . The allusion therefore is to some such print as Mr. Steevens happily remembered to have seen, in which death plunders the miser of his money-bags, whilst the fool is grinning at the process. It may be presumed that these subjects were common in Shakespeare's time. They might have ornamented the poor man's cottage in the shape of rude prints, or have been introduced into halfpenny ballads long since consigned to oblivion. The miser is at all times fair game; and to prove that this is not a chimerical opinion, and at the same time to show the extensive range of this popular subject, a few prints of the kind shall be mentioned. 1. Death and the two misers, by Michael Pregel. 2. An old couple counting their money, death and two devils attending, a mezzotint by Vander Bruggen. 3. A similar mezzotint by Meheux without the devils. 4. An old print on a single sheet of a dance of death, on which both the miser and the fool are exhibited in the clutches of the grim monarch. The rear may be closed with the same subject as represented in the various dances of death that still remain. Nor should it be concluded that because these prints exhibit no fool to grin at the impending scene, others might not have done so. The satirical introduction of this character on many occasions supports the probability that they did. Thus in a painting of the school of Holbein, an old man makes love to a girl, attended by a fool and death, to show, in the first instance, the folly of the thing, and, in the next, its consequences. It is un necessary to pursue the argument, as every print of the above kind that may in future occur will itself speak much more forcibly than any thing which can here be added” (DOUCE) .
Table of Contents:
firk - fool