Sunday, May 1, 2011

Promus - 4 - Brown Wench

Parallels between Shake-Speare and Bacon's Promus

(c) a third explanatory parallel

from Shake-Speare's King Henry VIII, 3.2.295-6

                 "When the brown wench
Lay kissing in your arms, Lord Cardinal [Wolsey],"

and from Bacon's Promus (entry 1522):

"Fille brunette gay et nette"

Comment: The Arden editor notes on "brown wench": "probably a slut or an ill-favoured girl". But Cotgrave's Dictionary of the French and English Tongues (1611) gives the full French proverb as "Fille brunette est de nature gaye & nette" and translates it as "A nut-brown girl is neat and blithe by nature". Such a girl might perhaps be a slut, but not ill-favoured. Nor would Cardinal Wolsey's wench have been ill-favoured - he could take his pick. So Shake-Speare's "brown wench" is probably the "fille brunette" of the French jingle Bacon paraphrases in his Promus.

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