Baffled (defeated): subjected to public disgrace. Literally, of the punishment of a recreant knight who was hung up by his heels.
A cowardly braggart of a soldier is made in one of Beaumont and Fletcher's plays* to describe the treatment he experienced, when like Parolles he was at length found out, and stripped of his lion's skin: "They hung me up by the heels and beat me with hazel sticks, . . . that the whole kingdom took notice of me for a baffled whipped fellow." The word to which I wish here to call your attention is ' baffled.' ^ Probably if you were reading, there would be nothing here to cause you to pause; you would attach to the word the meaning which sorts very well with the context—" hung up by the heels and beaten, all his schemes of being thought much of were baffled and defeated." But the word means a great deal more than this; it contains allusion to a custom in the days of chivalry, according to which a perjured or recreant knight was either in person, or more-commonly in effigy, hung up by the heels, his escutcheon blotted, his spear broken, and he himself or his effigy made the mark and subject of all kinds of indignities; such a one being said to be ' baffled’. Twice in Spenser recreant knights are so dealt with. I can only quote a portion of the shorter passage, in which this infamous punishment is described:
" And after all, fop greater infamy
He by the heels him hung upon a tree,
And baffled so, that all which passed by
The picture of his punishment might see.” $•
Probably when Beaumont and Fletcher wrote, men were not so remote from the days of chivalry but that this custom was still fresh in their minds. How much more to them than to us, so long as we are ignorant of the same, would those words I just quoted have conveyed ?
* A King and no King, iii. 1.
^ See Holinshed's Chronicles, vol. iii. pp. 827, 1218: Ann. 1513, 1570.
$ Fairy queen, 6. 7. 27 ; cf. 5. 3. 37.
end quote: English past and present (1855) by Richard Chenevix Trench p.141/142
And in Shakespeare, for example in King Richard II, Act I, Scene I Norfolk says:
I am digrac’d, impeach’d, and baffled here;
Baffled is here employed in the general sense of being treated with ignominy; but it particularly, and Nares says originally, meant, a degrading punishment inflicted on recreant knights: one part of which consisted in hanging them up by the heels.
... To this signification of the word Falstaff seems to allude when he says in "Henry IV" Part I. Act I. Sc. 21,—
" An I do not, call me villain, and baffle me." And afterwards, ibid., Act II. Sc. 4 :—
"If thou do it half so gravely, so majestically both in word and matter, hang me up by the heels for a rabbit-sucker," &c,
End quote of note a: on page 450 of The plays of Sheakespeare, Volume 1 (1858) Howard Staunton, Sir John Gilbert.
In 2 Henry IV (i.2) also, the Chief-Justice says to Falstaff “to punish him by the heels would amend the attention of his ears”.
BAFFLE, BAFFUL} v.(Fr.) To treat with indignity ; to expose. Properly speaking, to baffle or bafful a person was to reverse a picture of him in an ignominious manner.
Baffulling is a greatt disgrace among the Scots, and it is used when a man is openly perjured, and then they make an image of him painted, reversed, with his heels upward, with his name, woondering, crying, and blowing out of him with horns. Hollinshed. And after all, for greater infamy,
He by the heels him hung upon a tree,
And baffled°so, that all which passed by
The picture of his punishment might see,
And by the like ensample warned be,
However they through treason do trespass.
Spenser, F. Q., B. VI, vii, 27.
I am disgrac'd, impeach'd, and baffled here,
Pierc'd to the soul with slander's venom'd
вреаг. К. Richard П, i, 1.
(2) v. To cheat, or make a fool
of; to manage capriciously or
wantonly ; to twist irregularly
(3) In Suffolk they term baffled, corn which is knocked down by the wind.
(4) v. To twist or entangle. Northampt.
BAFFLING, s. Opprobrium ; affront.
end quote: Dictionary of obsolete and provincial English by Thomas Wright
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot