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dulness of the fool is the whetstone of his wits. How now, wit ? whither wander you?
Touch. Mistress, you must come away to your father.
Cel. Were you made the messenger ?
come for you.
Touch. Of a certain knight, that swore by his honour they were good pancakes, and swore by his honour the mustard was naught: now, I'll stand to it, the pancakes were naught, and the mustard was good ; and yet was not the knight forsworn.
Cel. How prove you that, in the great heap of your knowledge ?
Ros. Ay, marry; now unmuzzle your wisdom.
Touch. Stand you both forth now: stroke your chins, and swear by your beards that I am a knave.
CEL. By our beards, if we had them, thou art.
Touch. By my knavery, if I had it, then I were : but if you swear by that that is not, you are not forsworn: no more was this knight, swearing by his honour, for he never had any '; or if he had, he had sworn it away, before ever he saw those pancakes or that mustard.
Cel. Pr'ythee, who is't that thou mean'st ? Touch. One that old Frederick, your father, loves. Ros. My father's love is enough to honour him 2.
slight emendation is the present editor's. Mr. Steevens reads who perceiving our natural wits, &c. hath sent. Malone.
i For he never had any;] The same joke is found in the old play of Damon and Pithias, 1573 :
I have taken a wise othe on him ; have I not, trow ye, - To trust such a false knave upon his honestie? “ As he is an honest man (quoth you?) he may bewray all to
the kinge, “ And breke his oth for this never a whit." BoswELL. 2. Touch. One that old Frederick, your father, loves.
Ros. My father's love is enough to honour him.] This reply
Enough! speak no more of him; you'll be whip’d for taxation, one of these days.
Touch. The more pity, that fools may not speak wisely, what wise men do foolishly.
Cel. By my troth, thou say'st true: for since
to the Clown is in all the books placed to Rosalind; but Frederick was not her father, but Celia's : I have therefore ventured to prefix the name of Celia. There is no countenance from any passage in this play, or from the Dramatis Personce, to imagine, that both the Brother-Dukes were namesakes; and one called the Old, and the other the Younger-Frederick; and without some such authority, it would make confusion to suppose it.
THEOBALD. Mr. Theobald seems not to know that the Dramatis Persone were first enumerated by Rowe. Johnson.
Frederick is here clearly a mistake, as appears by the answer of Rosalind, to whom Touchstone addresses himself, though the question was put to him by Celia. I suppose some abbreviation was used in the MS. for the name of the rightful, or old duke, as he is called, [perhaps Fer. for Ferdinand,] which the transcriber or printer converted into Frederick. Fernardyne is one of the persons introduced in the novel on which this comedy is founded. Mr. Theobald solves the difficulty by giving the next speech to Celia, instead of Rosalind; but there is too much of filial warmth in it for Celia :-besides, why should her father be called old Frederick ? It appears from the last scene of this play that this was the name of the younger brother. Malone.
Mr. Malone’s remark may be just ; and yet I think the speech which I have still left in the mouth of Celia, exhibits as much tenderness for the fool, as respect for her own father. She stops Touchstone, who might otherwise have proceeded to say what she could not hear without inflicting punishment on the speaker. Old is an unmeaning term of familiarity. It is still in use, and has no reference to age. The Duke in Measure for Measure is called by Lucio “ the old fantastical Duke,” &c. Steevens.
3 - you'll be whip’d for TAXATION,] This was the discipline usually inflicted upon fools. Brantome informs us that Legar, fool to Elizabeth of France, having offended her with some indelicate speech, “ fut bien fouetté à la cuisine pour ces paroles.”
Douce. Taxation is censure or satire. So, in Much Ado about Nothing: “ Niece, you tax Signior Benedick too much: but he'll be meet with you.” Again, in the play before us :
my taxing like a wildgoose flies -” MALONE.
the little wit, that fools have, was silenced, the little foolery, that wise men have, makes a great show. Here comes Monsieur Le Beau.
Enter LE BEAU.
Ros. With his mouth full of news.
Cel. Which he will put on us, as pigeons feed their young
Ros. Then shall we be news-cramm'd.
CEL. All the better; we shall be the more marketable. Bon jour, Monsieur Le Beau : What's the news ?
LE BEAU. Fair princess, you have lost much good sport.
Cel. Sport? Of what colour ?
LE BEAU. What colour, madam? How shall I answer you?
Ros. As wit and fortune will.
since the little wit, that fools have, was silenced,] Shakspeare probably alludes to the use of fools or jesters, who for some ages had been allowed in all courts an unbridled liberty of censure and mockery, and about this time began to be less tolerated.
JOHNSON. - laid on with a trowel.] I suppose the meaning is, that there is too heavy a mass of big words laid upon a slight subject.
Johnson. This is a proverbial expression, which is generally used to signify a glaring falshood. See Ray's Proverbs. STEEVENS.
It means a good round hit, thrown in without judgment or design. Ritson.
To lay on with a trowel, is, to do any thing strongly, and without delicacy. If a man flatters grossly, it is a common expression to say, that he lays it on with a trowel. M. Mason.
s You AMAZE me, ladies :] To amaze, here, iş not to astonish
told you of good wrestling, which you have lost the sight of. Ros. Yet tell us the manner of the wrestling.
LE Beau. I will tell you the beginning, and, if it please your ladyships, you may see the end; for the best is yet to do; and here, where you are, they are coming to perform it.
CEL. Well, the beginning, that is dead and buried.
LE BEAU. There comes an old man, and his three sons,
Cel. I could match this beginning with an old tale.
LE BEAU. Three proper young men, of excellent growth and presence;
Ros. With bills on their necks,- Be it known unto all men by these presents o,
or strike with wonder, but to perplex; to confuse, so as to put out of the intended narrative. JOHNSON. So, in Cymbeline, Act IV. Sc. III. :
“ I am amazed with matter." Steevens. 6 With Bills on their necks,–Be it known unto all men by these presents,–] The ladies and the
fool, according to the mode of wit at that time, are at a kind of cross purposes. Where the words of one speaker are wrested by another, in a repartee, to a different meaning. As where the Clown says just before-Nay, if I keep not my rank. Rosalind replies - Thou losest thy old smell. So here when Rosalind had said — With bills on their necks, the Clown, to be quits with her, puts in-Know all men by these presents. She spoke of an instrument of war, and he turns it to an instrument of law of the same name, beginning with these words: So that they must be given to him.
WARBURTON. This conjecture is ingenious. Where meaning is so very thin, as in this vein of jocularity, it is hard to catch, and therefore I know not well what to determine; but I cannot see why Rosalind should suppose, that the competitors in a wrestling match carried bills on their shoulders, and I believe the whole conceit is in the poor resemblance of presence and presents. Johnson.
“ With bills on their necks,” should be the conclusion of Le Beau's speech. Mr. Edwards ridicules Dr. Warburton, “Asif people carried such instruments of war, as bills and guns on their necks, LE BEAU. The eldest of the three wrestled with Charles, the duke's wrestler; which Charles in a moment threw him, and broke three of his ribs, that there is little hope of life in him : so he served the second, and so the third : Yonder they lie; the poor old man, their father, making such pitiful dole over them, that all the beholders take his part with weeping
Touch. But what is the sport, monsieur, that the ladies have lost ?
LE Beau. Why, this that I speak of.
Touch. Thus men may grow wiser every day! it is the first time that ever I heard, breaking of ribs was sport for ladies.
not on their shoulders !” But unluckily the ridicule falls upon himself. Lassels, in his Voyage of Italy, says of tutors,“ Some persuade their pupils, that it is fine carrying a gun upon their necks.” But what is still more, the expression is taken immediately from Lodge, who furnished our author with his plot. “ Ganimede on a day sitting with Aliena, (the assumed names, as in the play,) cast up her eye, and saw where Rosader came pacing towards them with his forest-bill on his necke.” FARMER.
The quibble may be countenanced by the following passage in Woman's a Weathercock, 1612:
“Good-morrow, taylor, I abhor bills in a morning
“ But thou may'st watch at night with bill in hand.” Again, in Sidney's Arcadia, Book I. :
with a sword by his side, a forest-bille on his necke," &c. Again, in Rowley's When You See Me You Know Me, 1621 :
“ Enter King, and Compton, with bills on his back.” Again, in The Pinner of Wakefield, 1599:
“ And each of you a good bat on his neck.” Again :
are you not big enough to bear “ Your bats upon your necks ?
STEEVENS. I don't think that by bill is meant either an instrument of war, or one of law, but merely a label or advertisement—as we say a play-bill, a hand-bill; unless Farmer's ingenious amendment be admitted, and these words become part of Le Beau's speech ; in which case the word bill would be used by him to denote a weapon, and by Rosalind perverted to mean a label. M. Mason.