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Enter CoSTARD. Prin. Here comes a member of the commonwealth..
Cost. God dig-you-den all!3 Pray you, which is the head lady?
Prin. Thou shalt know her, fellow, by the rest that have no heads.
Cost. Which is the greatest lady, the highest?
Prin. What's your will, sir? what's your will?
I am bound to serve
2—a member of the commonwealth.] Here, I believe, is a kind of jest intended : a member of the common-wealth, is put for one of the common people, one of the meanest. Johnson.
The Princess calls Costard a member of the commonwealth, be. cause she considers him as one of the attendants on the King and his associates in their new-modelled society; and it was part of their original plan that Costard and Armado should be members of it.
M. Mason. 3 God dig-you-den- ] A corruption of-God give you good even.
Malone. See my note on Romeo and Juliet, Act II, sc. iv., Steevens.
· Boyet, you can carve; Break up this capon.) i. e. open this letter. Our poet uses this metaphor, as the French do their poulet; which signifies both a young fowl and a love-letter. Poulet, amatoriæ literæ, says Richelet; and quotes from Voiture, Repondre au plus obligeant poulet du monde ; to reply to the most obliging letter in the world. The Italians use the same manner of expression, when they call a love-epistle, una pollicetta amorosa. I owed the hint of this equivocal use of the word, to my ingeni. ous friend Mr. Bishop. Theobald.
Henry IV, consulting with Sully about his marriage, says: “my niece of Guise would please me best, notwithstanding the malicious reports, that she loves poulets in paper, better than in
This letter is mistook, it importeth none here;
We will read it, I swear: Break the neck of the wax,s and every one give ear.
Boyet. [Reads] By heaven, that thou art fair, is most infallible; true, that thou art beauteous; truth itself, that thou art lovely: More fairer than fair, beautiful than beauteous; truer6 than truth itself, have commiseration on thy heroical vassal! The magnanimous and most illustrate7 king Cophetua: set eye upon the pernicious and indubitate beggar Zenelophon; and he it was that might rightly say veni, vidi, vici; which to anatomize in the vulgar, (O base and obscure vulgar!) videlicet, he came, saw, and overcame: he came, one ; saw,9 two; overcame, three. Who came? the king'; Why did he come? to see; Why did he see? to overcome: To whom came he? to the beggar; What saw he? the beggar; Who overcame he? the beggar: The conclusion is victory; On whose side? the king's: the captive is enrich'd; On whose side ? the beggar's; The catastrophe is a nuptial; On whose side? the king': ?-no, on both in one, or one in both. I am the king; for so stands the comparison: thou the beggar; for 80 witnesseth thy low
a fricasee.”—A message is called a cold pigeon, in the letter concerning the entertainments at Killingworth castle. Farmer.
To break up was a peculiar phrase in carving. Percy.
So, in Westward-Hoe, by Decker and Webster, 1607 : at “the skirt of that sheet, in black-work, is wrought his name: break not up the wild-fowl till anon.” Steevens.
5 Break the neck of the wax,] Still alluding to the capon. Johnson.
One of Lord Chesterfield's Letters, 8vo. Vol. III, p. 114, gives us the reason why poulet meant amatoria litera. Tollet.
6 More fairer than fair, beautiful than beauteous, truer &c.] I would read, fairer that fair, more beautiful, &c. Tyrwhitt.
illustrate ---] for illustrious. It is often used by Chapman in his translation of Homer. Thus, in the eleventh Iliad:
Jove will not let me meet
- king Cophetua-] The ballad of King Cophetua and the Beggar-Maid, may be seen in The Reliques of Ancient Poetry, Vol. 1. The beggar's name was Penelophon, here corrupted. Percy,
The poet alludes to this song in Romeo and Juliet, Henry IV, P. II, and Richard II. Steevens.
saw,] The old copies here and in the preceding line have see. Mr. Rowe made the correction. Malone.
liness. Shall I command thy love? I may: Shall I enforce thy love? I could: Shall I entreat thy love? I will. What shalt thou exchange for rags? robes; For tittles? titles ; For thyself? me. Thus, expecting thy reply, I profane my lips on thy foot, my eyes on thy picture, and my heart on thy every part.
Thine, in the dearest design of industry,
Don ADRIANO DE ARMADO. Thus dost thou heart the Nemean lion roar
'Gainst thee, thou lamb, that standest as his prey; Submissive fall his princely feet before,
And he from forage will incline to play: But if thou strive, poor soul, what art thou then? Food for his rage, repasture for his den. Prin. What plume of feathers is he, that indited this
letter? What vane? what weather-cock? Did you ever hear bet
ter? Boyet. I am much deceived, but I remember the style. Prin. Else your memory is bad, going o'er it? ere
while. 3 Boyet. This Armado is a Spaniard, that keeps here
in court; A phantasm, 4 a Monarcho,' and one that makes sport
i Thus dost thou hear &c.] These six lines appear to be a quotation from some ridiculous poem of that time. Warburton.
-going o'er it--] A pun upon the word stile. Musgrave.
-erewhile.] Just now; a little while ago. So, Raleigh : “Here lies Hobbinol, our shepherd while e'er.” Johnson. 4 A phantasm,] On the books of the Stationers' Company, Feb. 6, 1608, is entered: “ a book called Phantasm, the Italian Taylor, and his Boy; made by Mr. Armin, servant to his majesty.” It probably contains the history of Monarcho, of whom Dr. Far. mer speaks in the following note, to which I have subjoined two additional instances. Steevens.
Monarcho;] The allusion is to a fantastical character. of the time:—" Popular applause (says Meres) doth nourish some, neither do they gape after any other thing, but vaine praise and glorie,-as in our age Peter Shakerlye of Paules, and Monarcho that lived about the court.” p. 178. Farmer.
In Nash's Have with you to Saffron-Walden, &c. 1595, I meet with the same allusion :-“but now he was an insulting monarch above Monarcho the Italian, that ware crownes in his shoes, and
To the prince, and his book-mates.
Thou, fellow, a word :
I told you; my lord.
From my lord to my lady.
Cost. From my lord Biron, a good master of mine,
[Exeunt Prin. and Train.
quite renounced his natural English accents and gestures, and wrested himself wholly to the Italian puntilios,” &c.
The succeeding quotations will afford some further intelligence concerning this fantastick being: “I could use an incident for this, which though it may seeme of small weight, yet may it have his misterie with this act, who, being of base condition, placed himself (without any perturbation of minde) in the royall seat of Alexander, which the Caldeans prognosticated to portend the death of Alexander.
“ The actors were, that Bergamasco (for his phantastick hu. mors) named Monarcho, and two of the Spanish embassadors retinue, who being about foure and twentie yeures past, in Paules Church in London, contended who was soveraigne of the world: the Monarcho maintained himself to be he, and named their king to be but his viceroy for Spain: the other two with great fury denying it. At which myself, and some of good account, now dead, wondred in respect of the subject they handled, and that want of judgement we looked not for in the Spaniards. Yet this, moreover, we noted, that notwithstanding the weight of their controversie they kept in their walk the Spanish turne: which is, that he which goeth at the right hand, shall at every end of the walke turne in the midst; the which place the Monarcho was loth to yeald (but as they compelled him, though they gave him sometimes that romthe) in respect of his supposed majestie; but I would this were the worst of their ceremonies; the same keeping some decorum concerning equalitie.” A briefe Discourse of the Spanish State, with a Dialogue annexed, intituled Philobasilis, 4to. 1590, p. 39. •The reader will pardon one further notice:
“ - heere comes a souldier, for my life it is a captain Swag : tis even he indeede, I do knowe him by his plume and his scarffe , he looks like a Monarcho of a very cholericke complexion, and as teasty as a goose that hath young goslings,” &c. B. Riche's Faults and nothing but Faults, p. 12. Reed.
Boyet. Who is the suitor?" who is the suitor?
Shall I teach you to know?
Why, she that bears the bow. Finely put off!
- Come, lords, away.] Perhaps the princess said rather:
Come, ladies, away. The rest of the scene deserves no care. Johnson. 7 Who is the suitor?] The old copies read
“ Who is the shooter?” But it should be, Who is the suitor ? and this occasions the quibble. · Finely put on,” &c. seem only marginal observations.
Farmer. It appears that suitor was anciently pronounced shooter. So, in The Puritan, 1605: the maid informs her mistress that some archers are come to wait on her. She supposes them to be fletchers, or arrow-smiths:
« Enter the suters, &c. “ Why do you not see them before you? are not these archers, what do you call them, shooters? Shooters and archers are all one, I hope ?” Steevens.
Wherever Shakspeare uses words equivocally, as in the present instance, he lays his editor under some embarrassment.When he told Ben Jonson he would stand Godfather to his child, “and give him a dozen latten spoons,” if we write the word as we have now done, the conceit, such as it is, is lost, at least does not at once appear; if we write it Latin, it becomes absurd. So, in Much Ado about Nothing, Dogberry says, “if justice can. not tame you, she shall ne'er weigh more reasons in her balance." If we write the word thus, the constable's equivoque, poor as it is, is lost, at least to the eye. If we write raisins, (between which word and reasons, there was, I believe, no difference at that time of pronunciation) we write nonsense. In the passage before us an equivoque was certainly intended; the words shooter and suitor being (as Mr. Steevens has observed) pronounced alike in Shak. speare's time. So, in Essays and Characters of a Prison and Pri. soners, by G. M. 1618: “The king's guard are counted the strongest archers, but here are better suitors.” Again, in Antony and Cleopatra, edit. 1623, (owing probably to the transcriber's ear having deceived him) –
a grief that suits
“My very heart at root instead of--a grief that shoots.
In Ireland, where, I believe, much of the pronunciation of Queen Elizabeth's age is yet retained, the word suitor is at this day pronounced by the vulgar as if it were written shooter. However, I have followed the spelling of the old copy, as it is sufficiently intelligible. Malone.