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Mall's “picture—Like Mistress,” TWELFTH NIGHT, i. 3. 119. “The real name of the woman whom I suppose to have been meant by Sir Toby, was Mary Frith. The appellation by which she was generally known was Mall Cutpurse. She was at once an hermaphrodite, a prostitute, a bawd, a bully, a thief, a receiver of stolen goods, etc. On the books of the Stationers' Company, August 1610, is entered —‘A Booke called the Madde Prancks of Merry Mall of the Bankside, with her Walks in Man's Apparel, and to what Purpose. Written by John Day.’ Middleton and Decker wrote a comedy, of which she is the heroine. In this they have given a very flattering representation of her, as they observe in their preface, that ‘it is the excellency of a writer, to leave things better than he finds them.’ The title of this piece is The Roaring Girle. Or Moll CutPurse. As it hath lately beene acted on the Fortune-stage by the Prince his Players, 1611. The frontispiece to it contains a full length of her in man's clothes, smoking tobacco. Nathaniel Field, in his Amends for Ladies, another comedy, 1618, gives the following character of her:
‘Hence, lewd impudent!
I know not what to term thee, man or woman;
For nature, shaming to acknowledge thee
For either, hath produc'd thee to the world
Without a sex: some say thou art a woman;
Others, a man; and many, thou art both
Woman and man; but I think rather, neither;
Or man and horse, as th' old Centaúrs were feign'd’
[a passage very inaccurately cited in Steevens's note apud the Var. Shakespeare]. A life of this woman was likewise published, 12mo, in 1662, with her portrait before it in a male habit; an ape, a lion, and an eagle by her [The Life and Death of Mrs. Mary Frith. Commonly called Mall Cutpurse. Exactly collected and now published for the delight and recreation of all merry disposed persons. London, 1662, 12mo]” (STEEVENS) . “Mary Frith was born in 1584, and died in 1659. [According to the author of her Life, she was born in 1589. A Ms. in the Brit. Museum, quoted in a note on Dodsley's Old Plays, vol. xii. p. 398, ed. 1780, states that she died at her house in Fleet Street, July 26, 1659, and was buried in the church of Saint Bridget's; which date, however, seems inconsistent with the statement of Mr. Cunningham that she was buried August 10, 1659. Granger says that her death took place in her 75th year.] In a Ms. letter in the British Museum, from John Chamberlain to Mr. [Sir Dudley] Carleton, dated Feb. 11 [12], 1611-12, the following ac count is given of this woman's doing penance: ‘This last Sunday Moll Cutpurse, a notorious baggage, that used to go in man's apparel, and challenged the field of diverse gallants, was brought to the same place [St. Paul's Cross], where she wept bitterly, and seemed very penitent; but it is since doubted she was maudlin drunk, being discovered to have tippel'd of [off] three quarts of sack before she came to her penance. She had the daintiest preacher or ghostly father that ever I saw in the pulpit, one Radcliffe of Brazen-Nose College [“College” not in orig.] in Oxford, a likelier man to have led the revels in some inn-ofcourt than to be where he was. But the best is, he did extreme badly, and so wearied the audience, that the best part went away, and the rest tarried rather to hear Moll Cutpurse than him’” (MALONE) ; who correctly observes that in our author's time curtains were frequently hung before pictures of any value. See much more about Moll Cutpurse in my edition of Middleton's Works, vol. ii. p. 427 sqq., where The Roaring Girl is reprinted, with an excellent fac-simile (by Mr. Fairholt) of the woodcut portrait of the heroine. After all, can it be that “Mistress Mall's picture ” means merely a lady's picture? So we still say “Master Tom” or “Master Jack” to designate no particular individual, but of young gentlemen generally.

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