[Singing] 'When Arthur first in court,'And then says:
--Empty the jordan.Jordan? The online dictionary gives:
n: 1350–1400; ME jurdan urinal, perh. after Jordan, the river, by coarse jesting.In last week's London Globe performance--the nearest I have ever see, I suspect, to a Shakespearean original, Shakespeare precedes his mandate and his song with a 45-second episode of epic disencumbrance. It is all in the best of taste, done from under a flowing blouse with no dangly parts on display. But there can be little doubt that the "jordan"--here a dun-colored clay pot--is well and truly filled. Fallstaff's boy dutifully executes his master's command; he attempts first to dump it all back into the wine cask, but Mistress Quickly administers a hearty smack and he scampers offstage.
But here's the thing: the command is right there in the Shakespearean script. The stage business which precedes it is nowhere to be seen. Which inspires the question--really, two questions:
- Who was the first Shakespearean scholar, director or dramaturge who first grasped that a jordan, in order to be emptied, must once have been full; or
- Can we assume that this bit of merriment goes right back to the 1590s?