Elizabethan / Renaissance term

Paul Kusinitz KKMetron at CS.COM
Thu Nov 15 20:59:34 UTC 2001


('The Annotated Shakespeare', Ed. A. L. Rowse, 1978)

King John, II, I, 133

Aust. Peace!
Bast.          Hear the crier.

The Merry Wives of Windsor, V. V. 44-45

Quick....Attend your office and your quality.
Crier Hobgoblin, make the fairy oyes.

Alexander Schmidt's venerable 'Shakespeare Lexicon and Quotation Dictionary'
defines 'Crier' as "the officer whose business is to make proclamation," and
'Town-crier' as "a public crier who makes proclamation: Hml. III, 2, 4."

Schmidt's Lexicon defines 'Herald' (here without citations) as: "1) an
officer whose business was to record and blazon the arms of the nobility; to
order and conduct funeral processions; to make proclamations; to bear
challenges; to carry messages between hostile parties and armies; to attend
messages of the enemy 2) a publisher, proclaimer, harbinger [citing only the
extended sense as in owl, spring and lark] 3) any messenger. The citation for
"to make proclamations" is Henry VI, Part 2, IV, 2, 186 in which the herald
is clearly a public crier:
Staf. Herald, away; and throughout every town
Proclaim them traitors that are up with Cade.

Citing Act 33 [sic] Henry VIII, c. 12|19, OED defines 'Crier 2. spec. a. An
officer in a court of justice who makes the public announcements.' The sense
of town-crier in 2.b. has a 1533 citation. 'Herald 1.' denotes both an
officer of royal and state proclamations and a public functionary. However,
all citations appear to refer to the public office.

C.T. Onions' (Oxford University) standard 'A Shakespeare Glossary' does not
list 'crier' but all citations for 'herald' denote a public office.

Paul Kusinitz

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