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Pro. And thither will I bring thee, Valentine.
VAL. Sweet Proteus no; now let us take our leave. To Milan, let me hear from thee by letters ?, Of thy success in love, and what news else Betideth here in absence of thy friend; And I likewise will visit thee with mine.
Pro. All happiness bechance to thee in Milan ! VAL. As much to you at home! and so, farewell!
[Exit VALENTINE Pro. He after honour hunts, I after love: He leaves his friends, to dignify them more; I leave myself', my friends, and all for love. Thou, Julia, thou hast metamorphos'd me; Made me neglect my studies, lose my time, War with good counsel, set the world at nought; Made wit* with musing weak, heart sick with thought'.
2 To Milan, let me hear from thee by letters.] Thus the only authentick edition, for which the modern editors following the second folio of 1632, have substituted— At Milan, &c. But there is no occasion for departing from the original copy. The construction is-Let me hear from thee by letters to Milan, i. e. directed or addressed to Milan. In Act. IV. Sc. I. :
you use this dalliance to excuse
Your breach of promise to the Porcupine." i. e. to meet me at the Porcupine.
3 I LEAVE myself, my friends, and all for love.] The old copy has- I love myself. The correction was made by Mr. Pope. In Antony and Cleopatra, Act. V. Sc. I., we have in the old copy-For Cæsar cannot leave to be ungentle—for live to be ungentle. MALONE.
Made wit with musing weak,] The construction is-Thou hast made me neglect-thou hast made wit with musing weak.
MALONE. 5 This whole scene, like many others in these plays (some of which, I believe, were written by Shakspeare, and others interpolated by the players,) is composed of the lowest and most triAling conceits, to be accounted for only from the gross taste of the age he lived in; Populo ut placerent. I wish I had authority to leave them out; but I have done all I could, set a mark of reprobation upon them throughout this edition. Pope.
That this, like many other scenes, is mean and vulgar, will be universally allowed; but that it was interpolated by the players,
Enter SPEED. SPEED. Sir Proteus, save you: saw you my master? Pro. But now he parted hence to embark for
Milan. SPEED. Twenty to one then, he is shipp'd already; And I have play'd the sheep", in losing him.
Pro. Indeed a sheep doth very often stray, An* if the shepherd be awhile away. SPEED. You conclude, that my master is a shep
herd then, and I a sheep'? PRO. I do. SPEED. Why then my horns are his horns, whe
ther I wake or sleep. Pro. A silly answer, and fitting well a sheep. SPEED. This proves me still a sheep. Pro. True; and thy master a shepherd. SPEED. Nay, that I can deny by a circumstance. Pro. It shall go hard, but I'll prove it by another. SPEED. The shepherd seeks the sheep, and not
* First folio, And. seems advanced without any proof, only to give a greater licence to criticism. Johnson.
Mr. Pope, when he published his edition of these plays, was, I believe, very little acquainted with the ancient dramatick writers that immediately preceded Shakspeare. In his earliest plays something of their manner may be traced. The notion that this and other scenes were interpolated, is so wild and capricious, as not to deserve a moment's consideration. MALONE.
6 And I have play'd the sheep-] The jest, such as it is, may escape the reader, unless he recollect that in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Hertfordshire, and probably in some other counties, a sheep is pronounced a ship. The two words seem, in consequence of this communication, to have been used indiscriminately, and confounded. Thus in Playford's “Dancing-Master," 10th edition, 1698, in the table we have as the name of a dance,
Three sheep skins,” p. 215; and in the page referred to we find “ Three ship skins. MALONE.
7 And I A sheep.] The article which is wanting in the only authentick copy, 1623, was added in the second folio. Malone,
the sheep the shepherd; but I seek my master, and my master seeks not me: therefore, I am no sheep.
Pro. The sheep for fodder follow the shepherd, the shepherd for food follows not the sheep; thou for wages followest thy master, thy master for wages follows not thee: therefore, thou art a sheep.
SPEED. Such another proof will make me cry baa.
Pro. But dost thou hear ? gav`st thou my letter to Julia ?
SPEED. Ay, sir : I, a lost mutton, gave your letter to her, a laced mutton; and she, a laced
8 I, a LOST MUTTON, gave your letter to her, a LACED MUTton;] Speed calls himself a lost mutton, because he had lost his master, and because Proteus had been proving him a sheep. But why does he call the lady a laced mutton? Wenchers are to this day called mutton-mongers; and consequently the object of their passion must, by the metaphor, be the mutton. And Cotgrave, in his English French Dictionary, explains laced mutton, Une garse, putain, fille de joye. And Mr. Motteux has rendered this passage of Rabelais, in the prologue of his fourth book, Cailles coiphees mignonnement chantans, in this manner; Coated quails and laced mutton waggishly singing: So that laced mutton has been a sort of standard phrase for girls of pleasure. Theobald.
Nash, in his “ Have with you to Saffron Walden,” 1595, speaking of Gabriel Harvey's incontinence, says, “ he would not stick to extoll rotten lac'd mutton.” So, in the comedy of The Shoemaker's Holiday, or the Gentle Craft, 1610 :
“Why here's good lac'd mutton, as I promis'd you." Again, in Whetstone's Promos and Cassandra, 1578:
“ And I smelt he lov'd lac'd mutton well.” Again, Heywood, in his Love's Mistress, 1636, speaking of Cupid, says, he is the “Hero of hie-hoes, admiral of ay-mes, and monsieur of inutton lac'd.” STEEVENS.
A laced mutton was in our author's time so established a term for a courtezan, that a street in Clerkenwell, which was much frequented by women of the town, was then called Mutton-lane. It seems to have been a phrase of the same kind as the French expression-caille coifée, and might be rendered in that language, mouton en corset. This appellation appears to have been as old as the time of king Henry III. “ Item sequitur gravis poena corporalis, sed sine amissione vitæ vel membrorum, si raptus fit de concubina legitimâ, vel alia quæstum faciente, sine delectu per
mutton, gave me, a lost mutton, nothing for my labour.
Pro. Here's too small a pasture for such store of muttons.
SPEED. If the ground be overcharg'd, you were best stick her.
Pro. Nay, in that you are astray'; 'twere best pound you.
SPEED. Nay, sir, less than a pound shall serve me for carrying your letter.
Pro. You mistake; I mean the pound, a pinfold.
lover. PRO. But what said she ? did she nod '? SPEED. I.
[SPEED nods. Pro. Nod, I ? why that's noddy”.
sonarum: has quidem oves debet rex tueri pro pace suâ.” Bracton de Legibus, lib. ii. Malone.
9 Nay, in that you are ASTRAY, &c.] For the reason Proteus gives, Dr. Thirlby advises that we should read—a stray, i. e. a stray sheep, which continues Proteus's banter upon Speed.
THEOBALD. 1-did she nod?] These words have been supplied by some of the editors, to introduce what follows. STEEVENS.
They were supplied by Mr. Theobald. In Speed's answer the old spelling of the affirmative particle has been retained; otherwise the conceit of Proteus (such as it is) would be unintelligible.
MALONE. 2 —that's nodDY.] Noddy was a game at cards. This play upon syllables is hardly worth explaining. The speakers intend to fix the name of noddy, that is, fool, on each other. So in the second part of Pasquil's Mad Cappe, Sig. E.: “ If such a noddy be not thought a fool.”
Again in Wit's Private Wealth, 1612, if you see a trull scarce, give her a nod, but follow her not, lest you prove a noddy.
REED. There can be no doubt concerning the meaning of noddy, as used in the text ; the game at cards throws no light whatsoever on the present passage. Malone,
and I say
SPEED. You mistook, sir; I say she did nod : and you ask me, if she did nod; and I
Pro. And that set together, is noddy.
SPEED. Now you have taken the pains to set it together, take it for your pains.
Pro. No, no, you shall have it for bearing the letter,
SPEED. Well, I perceive I must be fain to bear
Pro. Why, sir, how do you bear with me?
SPEED. Marry, sir, the letter very orderly; having nothing but the word, noddy, for my pains.
Pro. Beshrew me, but you have a quick wit.
SPEED. And yet it cannot overtake your slow purse.
Pro. Come, come, open the matter in brief: What said she ?
Speed. Open your purse, that the money, and the matter, may be both at once deliver'd.
Pro. Well sir, here is for your pains: What said she?
SPEED. Truly, Sir, I think you'll hardly win her.
Pro. Why ? Couldst thou perceive so much from her ?
SPEED. Sir, I could perceive nothing at all from her; no, not so much as a ducat for delivering your letter : And being so hard to me that brought your mind, I fear she'll prove as hard to you in telling your mind '. Give her no token but stones ; for she's as hard as steel.
3 -in telling your mind.] The editor of the second folio, not understanding this, altered your to her, which has been followed in all the subsequent editions. The old copy is certainly right. The meaning is,-She being so hard to me who was the bearer of your mind, I fear she will prove no less so to you in the act of telling your mind, i. e. when you address her in person. VOL. IV.