Notes to the Introduction
NOTE 1 See the first chapter of Bruce R. Smith, Ancient Scripts and Modern Experience on the English Stage 1500 - 1700 (Princeton, 1988).
NOTE 2 And, like all such opportunities, it was occasionally abused. We hear of intermural rioting, window-smashing, etc. in connection with university performances.
NOTE 3 At least if Thomas Watson’s Absalom, written about this time, was actually performed at Cambridge.
NOTE 4 Misapprehensions that would be impossible to sustain after a reading of Frederick S. Boas, University Drama in the Tudor Age (Oxford, 1914, repr. New York, 1966).
NOTE 5 As a matter of historical interest, it should be added that, after Gager ceased writing, academic drama continued to be drawn further into the orbit of the London theater and began to imitate some of its excesses, such as off-color humor and gruesomeness, both verbally described and represented on the stage.
NOTE 6 Robert Burton was so impressed with these lines that he appropriated them for his own Latin play, Philosophaster (see the note ad loc.).
NOTE 7 Like all subsequent writers on Gager, I heavily depend for my biographical sketch on C. F. Tucker Brooke, “The Life and Times of William Gager (1555 - 1622),” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 95 (1951) 401 - 31. This article was intended to serve as an introduction to the edition of Gager’s works he left unfinished at the time of his death (ms. possessed by the American Philosophical Society, no shelfmark), which I have consulted in preparing this edition. Biographies also in the D. N. B. and now the O. D. N. B. (by J. W. Binns).
NOTE 8 Currently the seat of Sir Richard Hyde Parker, 12th Baronet Melford. Melford Hall has been transferred to the National Trust and is open to viewing by the public. Most visitors will be more conscious of other literary associations: in a later century it was the family home of Beatrix Potter. The Hall is the subject of a handsome and informative brochure, “Melford Hall,” available from the National Trust (emended edition 1990).
NOTE 9 Responsible for custody of legal records, second only to the Lord Chief Justice in the judicial hierarchy.
NOTE 10 PRO C142/136/12 (County of Essex): 18 January  and PRO WARD 8/13 m 534.
NOTE 11 (August 4 - 5). For particulars of the visit cf. John Nichols, The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth (London, 1823, repr. New York, n. d.), and for poetry by Gager celebrating the occasion cf. poems LXIX, LXXVI, and LXXVII.
NOTE 12 Gilbert’s father John had been a man of some standing in the community, serving for many years as collector of quitrents and the King’s taxes, and as parish clerk. Although the Cordells were arrivistes, we shall see in connection in the General Introduction to the poetry that they maintained at least the pretense of an ancient pedigree, a theory to which Gager subscribed with enthusiasm.
NOTE 13 It has been wrongly stated (by David H. Horne, The Life and Minor Works of George Peele, New Haven, 1952, 42) that, like his contemporaries Richard Eedes and Leonard Hutten, Gager became a clergyman. The wealth of the diocese consisted chiefly of landholdings rented out to tenants, and the Chancellor’s main responsibility was their management. This was a lawyer’s job, and explains why Gager resided near Cambridge, the county seat. The Cambridge playwright Thomas Legge, likewise a D. C. L., had previously held this position.
NOTE 14 Boas (p. 167) incorrectly gives the year of his death as 1621. Gager’s last will and testament can be read here.
NOTE 15 Leicester Bradner, Musae Anglicanae: A History of Anglo-Latin Poetry 1500 - 1925 (New York, 1940, repr. New York, 1965) 167. For an astonishingly rich and detailed account of Elizabethan secondary education, cf. W. T. Baldwin, William Shakspere’s Small Latine and Lesse Greeke (Urbana, 1944). Chapter XLI deals with the pedagogy of verse composition. See also Appendix C of D. C. Allen, Francis Mere’s Treatise “Poetrie” (Urbana, 1933).
NOTE 16 The official nature of the visit is indicate dby the fact that from London John Lyly arranged to have the Revels Office lend costumes for the play: cf. the document reproduced by Boas pp. 194f.
NOTE 17 As one presumes this sentiment was merely rhetorical when it was subsequently repeated by Burton: see the note ad loc.
NOTE 18 Unusual but not unique: see John Finnis and Patrick H. Martin, “An Oxford Play Festival in February 1582,” Notes and Queries 50:4 (December 2003), 391 - 4.
NOTE 19 Self-mocking because the title derives from a disparaging comment made by the captious critic Momus in a special Epilogue delivered after the play (438f.).
NOTE 20 Even Gager’s great antagonist Dr. John Rainolds was not immune to her charm: he wrote of “a newe Nymph…bearing fewell enough to heate and melt a heart of yse or snow” (Th’ Overthrow of Stage-Players p. 20, with heale a misprint for heate in the printed text). The Gager-Rainolds controversy is described here.
NOTE 21 I do not think that this observation is entirely undermined by the consideration that this chorus translates an anonymous poem in Tottel’s Miscellany, for the choice of the item in question was still Gager’s. Nevertheless, the pert cynicism of this piece represents a voice not characteristically his own.
NOTE 22 This is especially significant because participants in Oxford academic disputations were free to answer in the affirmative or negative, as they chose: A. Clark, Register of the University of Oxford (Oxford, 1887) II.i.172.
NOTE 23 Anthony à Wood, Athenae Oxonienses, Fasti Oxonienses, and Life of Anthony à Wood (ed. Philip Bliss, London, 1813 - 22, reprinted Hildesheim, 1969) II.89.
NOTE 24 “Life and Times” 429 n. 154.
NOTE 25 Clark II.i.84. The nature and purpose of Comitia debates will be described in the General Introduction to Gager’s poetry.
NOTE 26 Robert Burton in “Democritus to the Reader” from The Anatomy of Melancholy (pp. I.24f. of the Everyman edition).
NOTE 27 For the system of Homeric composition cf. Adam Parry (ed.), The Making of Homeric Verse (Oxford, 1987). This comparison with Homeric formulae is especially cogent because many of the classical tags Gager borrows consist of noun-adjective combinations, and he often employs such tags at the same position of the poetic line of any given meter, as the point where he finds them in his classical sources.
At P. Godman and O. Murray (edd.), Latin Poetry and the Classical Tradition (Oxford, 1990) 222, Josef Ijsewijn wrote:
One must not too rashly leap in to identify allusion on the basis of verbal similarity or identify. One tends to forget too easily that the strict prosodic and metrical rules and the selected vocabulary with which Latin poets usually operate will almost inevitably generate the same expressions in the same places in the verse.
This observation magnificently ignores the way Latin versification has traditionally been taught (my Irvine colleague Theodore Brunner was instructed in precisely this same manner in a Nuremberg Gymnasium after the Second World War), and also manages to ignore the fact that in the case of Neo-Latin poets who were not taught by this method—Walter Savage Landor being a case in point—the number of such verbal echoes of Roman poets is drastically less.
NOTE 28 A more significant form of punning may be operative in this poem, if Gager thought that his surname meant “glove-maker” (in actuality, it more likely means “guager,” i. e., “assayer”).