The buf foon ape, in Dryden's poem called The Hind and the
Panther, means the Free-thinkers.
Next her [the bear ] the buffoonape, as atheists use,
Mimicked all sects, and had his own to choose.
Part i. 39, 40.
He keeps them, like an ape, in the corner of his jaw; first mouthed,
to be last swallowed
(Hamlet iv. 2). Most of the Old World monkeys have cheek
pouches, used as receptacles for food.
To lead apes
or To lead apes in hell. It is said of old maids. Hence, to
die an old maid.
“I will even take sixpence in earnest of the bear-ward, and lead his
apes into hell.” —Shakespeare: Much ado about Nothing, ii. 1.
Fadladinda says to Tatlanthe (3 syl):
Pity that you who've served so long and well
Should die a virgin, and lead apes in hell.
H. Carey: Chrononhotonthologos.
“Women, dying maids, lead apes in hell.” —The London Prodigal, 1. 2.
To play the ape,
to play practical jokes; to play silly tricks; to make facial
imitations, like an ape.
To put an ape into your hood (or) cap—i.e.
to make a fool of you. Apes were formely carried on the shoulders
of fools and simpletons.
To say an ape's paternoster,
is to chatter with fright or cold, like an ape.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894