Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shakespeare a Lawyer? - 12 - Session Interdict, Intervallum, Falstaff

Was Shake-Speare a lawyer?

Part 12

Valid Pointers to Shake-Speare being a Lawyer

18.  Session interdict

In Shake-Speare's The Phoenix And Turtle, which Fripp in the passage quoted earlier rightly calls "that lovely dirge", birds are gathered in a tree [i.e. in session] to mourn the Phoenix and the Turtle. Lines 1.9-10 say:

"From this session interdict [ban]
Every fowl of tyrant wing,"

What an unlikely context for "session interdict" which has a strong legal flavour (though both words are of course of general application as well)!

17.  Inns of Court jests

In 2 Henry IV, 5.1.75-8 Falstaff says:

"I will devise matter enough out of this Shallow to keep Prince Harry in continual
laughter the wearing out of six fashions which is four terms, or two actions,
and a shall laugh without intervallums".

The four terms are the four terms in the legal year. As an explanation of "two actions" Lord Campbell (following Samuel Johnson) suggested that perhaps in an action of debt judgment would be obtained in the second term after the writ was issued. An intervallum was the interval between terms and actions. The Arden editor comments: "As Wilson (N.C.S.) notes, these jests seem intended for Inns of Court students". Yes. And were probably written by a lawyer too.

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