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The lark, that tirra-lirra chants*,
With heigh! with, hey!* the thrush and the jay:Are summer songs for me and my aunts3, While we lie tumbling in the hay.
I have served prince Florizel, and, in my time, wore three-pile"; but now I am out of service:
* With, hey! from the second folio, not in the first.
4 The lark, that TIRRA-LIRRA chants.]
"La gentille allouette avec son tire-lire
Du Bartas, Liv. 5, de sa premiere semaine.
"Let Philomela sing, let Progne chide,
In the margin the author explains Tyryleerers by its synonyme, larks. MALONE.
5-my aunts,] Aunt appears to have been at this time a cant word for a bawd. In Middleton's comedy, called, A Trick to Catch the Old One, 1616, is the following confirmation of its being used in that sense :-"It was better bestowed upon his uncle than one of his aunts, I need not say bawd, for every one knows what aunt stands for in the last translation." Again, in Ram-Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611:
"I never knew
"What sleeking, glazing, or what pressing meant,
"No mercury, water, fucus, or perfumes
Again, in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635: "I'll call you one of my aunts, sister; that were as good as to call
you arrant whore." STEEVENS. wore THREE-PILE;] i. e. rich velvet. So, in Ram-Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611:
and line them
"With black, crimson, and tawny three pil'd velvet."
But shall I go mourn for that, my dear?
If tinkers may have leave to live,
My traffick is sheets'; when the kite builds, look to lesser linen. My father named me, Autolycus ;
Again, in Measure for Measure :
"Master Three-pile, the mercer." STEEVENS.
7 My traffick is sheets; &c.] So, in The Three Ladies of London, 1585:
"Our fingers are lime twigs, and barbers we be, "To catch sheets from hedges most pleasant to see." Again, in Queen Elizabeth's Entertainment in Suffolke and Norfolke, &c. by Thomas Churchyard, 4to. no date, Riotte says: "If any heere three ydle people needes,
"Call us in time, for we are fine for sheetes:
'Yea, for a shift, to steale them from the hedge, "And lay both sheetes and linnen all to gage. "We are best be gone, least some do heare alledge "We are but roages, and clappe us in the cage." Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Beggars' Bush:
"To steal from the hedge both the shirt and the sheet.” STEEVENS.
Autolycus means, that his practice was to steal sheets and large pieces of linen, leaving the smaller pieces for the kites to build with. M. MASON.
"When the kite builds, look to lesser linen." Lesser linen is an ancient term, for which our modern laundresses have substitutedsmall clothes. STEEVENS.
This passage, I find, is not generally understood. When the good women, in solitary cottages near the woods where kites build, miss any of their lesser linen, as it hangs to dry on the hedge in spring, they conclude that the kite has been marauding for a lining to her nest; and there adventurous boys often find it employed for that purpose. HOLT WHITE.
- My father named me, Autolycus ; &c.] Mr. Theobald says, the allusion is unquestionably to Ovid. He is mistaken. Not only the allusion, but the whole speech, is taken from Lucian;
who, being, as I am, littered under Mercury, was likewise a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles: With die, and drab, I purchased this caparison; and my revenue is the silly cheat': Gallows, and knock, are too powerful on the highway 2: beating, and
who appears to have been one of our poet's favourite authors, as may be collected from several places of his works. It is from his Discourse on Judicial Astrology, where Autolycus talks much in the same manner; and 'tis on this account that he is called the son of Mercury by the ancients, namely, because he was born under that planet. And as the infant was supposed by the astrologers to communicate of the nature of the star which predominated, so Autolycus was a thief. WARBURTON.
This piece of Lucian to which Dr. Warburton refers, was translated long before the time of Shakspeare. I have seen it, but it had no date. STEEVENS.
If any one will take the trouble of comparing what Ovid and Lucian have respectively said concerning Autolycus, he will, it is presumed, be altogether disposed to give the preference to Theobald's opinion. Dr. Warburton must have been exclusively fortunate in discovering that the whole speech is taken from Lucian; that he was one of our poet's favourite authors; and that, in the dialogue alluded to, Autolycus talks much in the same manner. He must have used some edition of Lucian's works vastly preferable to those which now remain. The reader will be pleased to consult the 11th book of Ovid's Metamorphoses, in the translation (if he have it) by Golding. DOUCE.
9- With die, and drab, I purchased this caparison ;] i. e. with gaming and whoring I brought myself to this shabby dress. PERCY.
my revenue is the SILLY cheat:] Silly is used by the writers of our author's time, for simple, low, mean; and in this the humour of the speech consists. I don't aspire to arduous and high things, as Bridewell or the gallows: I am contented with this humble and low way of life, as a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles. But the Oxford editor, who by his emendations, seems to have declared war against all Shakspeare's humour, alters it to, -the sly cheat. WARBURTON.
The silly cheat is one of the technical terms belonging to the art of coneycatching or thievery, which Greene has mentioned among the rest, in his treatise on that ancient and honourable science. I think it means picking pockets. STEEVENS.
2 Gallows and knock, &c.] The resistance which a highwayman encounters in the fact, and the punishment which he suffers
hanging, are terrors to me; for the life to come, I sleep out the thought of it.-A prize! a prize!
CLO. Let me see :-Every 'leven wether tods 3; every tod yields-pound and odd shilling: fifteen hundred shorn,-What comes the wool to?
on detection, withhold me from daring robbery, and determine me to the silly cheat and petty theft. JOHNSON.
3 tods ;]
A tod is twenty-eight pounds of wool. PERCY.
I was formerly led into an error concerning this passage by the word tods, which I conceived to be a substantive, but which is used ungrammatically as the third person singular of the verb to tod, in concord with the preceding words-every 'leven wether. The same disregard of grammar is found in almost every page of the old copies, and has been properly corrected, but here is in character, and should be preserved.
Dr. Farmer observes to me, that to tod is used as a verb by dealers in wool; thus, they say: "Twenty sheep ought to tod fifty pounds of wool," &c. The meaning, therefore, of the Clown's words is: Every eleven wether tods; i. e. will produce a tod, or twenty-eight pounds of wool; every tod yields a pound and some odd shillings; what then will the wool of fifteen hundred yield ?"
The occupation of his father furnished our poet with accurate knowledge on this subject; for two pounds and a half of wool is, I am told, a very good produce from a sheep at the time of shearing. About thirty shillings a tod is a high price at this day. It is singular, as Sir Henry Englefield remarks to me, that there should be so little variation between the price of wool in Shakspeare's time and the present.-In 1425, as I learn from Kennet's Parochial Antiquities, a tod of wool sold for nine shillings and sixpence. MALONE.
Every 'leven wether-tods." This has been rightly expounded to mean 'that the wool of eleven sheep would weigh a tod, or 2816.' Each fleece would, therefore, be 2lb. 8oz. 11 dr. and the whole produce of fifteen hundred shorn 136 tod, 1 clove, 2lb. 6oz. 2dr. which at pound and odd shilling per tod, would yield 1437. 3s. Od. Our author was too familiar with the subject to be suspected of inaccuracy.
Indeed it appears from Stafford's Breefe Conceipte of English Pollicye, 1581, p. 16, that the price of a tod of wool was at that period twenty or two and twenty shillings: so that the medium price was exactly "pound and odd shilling." RITSON.
AUT. If the springe hold, the cock's mine.
CLO. I cannot do't without counters 4.-Let me see; what I am to buy for our sheep-shearing feast? Three pound of sugar; five pound of currants; rice--What will this sister of mine do with rice? But my father hath made her mistress of the feast, and she lays it on. She hath made me four-and-twenty nosegays for the shearers: threeman song-men all, and very good ones; but they are most of them means and bases: but one Puritan amongst them, and he sings psalms to hornpipes. I must have saffron, to colour the warden pies; mace,-dates,-none; that's out of my note:
4 without COUNTERS.] By the help of small circular pieces of base metal, all reckonings were anciently adjusted among the illiterate and vulgar. Thus, Iago, in contempt of Cassio, calls him-counter-caster. See my note on Othello, vol. ix. p. 223, n. 6. STEEVENS.
5-sheep-shearing feast?] The expence attending these festivities, appears to have afforded matter of complaint. Thus, in Questions of profitable and pleasant Concernings, &c. 1594: "If it be a sheep-shearing feast, maister Baily can entertaine you with his bill of reckonings to his maister of three sheapheard's wages, spent on fresh cates, besides spices and saffron pottage." STEEVENS.
three-man song-men all,]_i. e. singers of catches in three parts. A six-man song occurs in The Tournament of Tottenham. See The Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, vol. ii. p. 24.
PERCY. Florio renders Berlingozzo by a drunken song, a three-man's song. MALONE.
So, in Heywood's King Edward IV. 1626: "— call Dudgeon and his fellows, we'll have a three-man song." Before the comedy of The Gentle Croft, or the Shoemaker's Holiday, 1600, some of these three-man songs are printed. STEEVens.
MEANS and bases :] Means are tenors. So, in Love's Labour's Lost:
he can sing
"A mean most meanly." STEEvens.
8 WARDEN pies:] Wardens are a species of large pears. I believe the name is disused at present. It however afforded