For a queer philology insists that we pause over bombast's alternative spelling, "bumbast
," and question the Oxford English Dictionary's etymology, which suggests that "bum" is a "meaningless intensive." "To whom," Masten asks, "is bum a 'meaningless intensive'?" (237).
In Wits Miserie and the Worlds Madnesse (1596) Thomas Lodge recounts how the spawn of arch-devil Baalberith takes the form of 'A Ruffian, a Swashbuckler, and a Bragart'--one who wears a doublet of grease spattered taffeta with the 'bumbast
But herein I cannot so fully bequeath them to follie, as their idiote art-masters, that intrude themselues to our eares as the alcumists of eloquence; who (mounted on the stage of arrogance) think to outbraue better pens with the swelling bumbast
of a bragging blanke verse.
In the most famous single passage of Elizabethan theatre history, Robert Greene in 1592 dismissed the young Shakespeare as an "upstart Crow," a mere player who now "supposes he is as well able to bumbast
out a blanke verse" as any university-trained poet.
Insofar as he is not naturally a poet, his inspiration must come from others; insofar as this is so, his claims to ownership of literary material are vitiated from the outset; and hence Dekker's play ultimately forces Horace/Jonson to swear "not to bumbast
out a new Play, with the olde lynings of Iestes, stolne from the Temples Reuels" (5.2.295-96).
There is an upstart Crow beautified with our feathers, th at with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supp oses he is as well able to bumbast
out a blanke verse as the best of you: but being an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in his ow ne conceit the onely Shake - scene in a countrie.
(26) The Induction to John Day's The Isle of Gulls (1606), which precipitated the loss of the company's royal association by the time Beaumont's play debuted, dramatizes the pickiness with which three gallants make their contradictory demands on the Blackfriars company--the first wants a satire, the second prefers a bawdy play, and the third orders 'bumbast