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Harlequin

means a species of drama in—two parts, the introduction and the harlequinade, acted in dumb show. The prototype is the Roman atellānæ, but our Christmas pantomime or harlequinade is essentially a British entertainment, first introduced by Mr. Weaver, a dancing-master of Shrewsbury, in 1702. (See below.)

“What Momus was of old to Jove,

The same a harlequin is now.

The former was buffoon above,

The latter is a Punch below.”


Swift: The Puppet Show.

⁂ The Roman mime did not at all correspond with our harlequinade. The Roman mimus is described as having a shorn head, a sooty face, flat unshod feet, and a patched parti-coloured cloak.

Harlequin, in the British pantomime, is a sprite supposed to be invisible to all eyes but those of his faithful Columbine. His office is to dance through the world and frustrate all the knavish tricks of the Clown, who is supposed to be in love with Columbine. In Armoric, Harlequin means “a juggler,” and Harlequin metamorphoses everything he touches with his magic wand.

⁂ The prince of Harlequins was John Rich (1681–1761).

Harlequin. So Charles Quint was called by François I. of France.

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Entry taken from Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by the Rev. E. Cobham Brewer, LL.D. and revised in 1895.

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Hare
Hare-brained, or Hair-brained
Harefoot
Hare-lip
Hare-stone = Hour-stone
Hare and the Tortoise (The)
Hares shift their Sex
Haricot Mutton
Harĭkĭrĭ. [Happy despatch.]
Hark Back (To)
Harlequin
Harlot
Harlowe (Clarissa)
Harm
Harmless as a Dove
Harmonia’s Necklace
Harmonia’s Robe
Harness
Harness Cask
Harness Prize (University of Cambridge)
Haro

See Also:

Harlequin