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Where you will walk invisible to mankind,
Mere. By my place I know it.
Johp. Where would you wish to be now, or what
Without the Fortunate Purse to bear your charges,
Mere. O, come, tinct me,
Tinct me; I long; save this great belly, I long!
Johp. See, and command
As they were all your varlets, or your footboys :
Mere. Is that my style? my Greatness, then, Would see king Zoroastres.
Johp. Why, you shall;
Or any one beside. Think whom you please;
Mere. I have named him.
Johp. Ay, that's it troubles us
A little for the present: for, at this time,
He is confuting a French almanack,
But he will straight have done, have you but patience; Or think but any other in mean time,
Any hard name.
Mere. Then Hermes Trismegistus.
Johp. O, o τgioμéyiσTos! why, you shall see him, A fine hard name. Or him, or whom you will, As I said to you afore. Or what do you think Of Howleglass, instead of him?
Mere. No, him
I have a mind to.
Johp. O, but Ulen-spiegle,
Were such a name !-but you shall have your longing. What luck is this, he should be busy too!
He is weighing water but to fill three hour-glasses, And mark the day in penn'orths like a cheese,
And he has done. 'Tis strange you should name him
Or Porphyry, or Proclus, any name
Mere. Let me see Pythagoras.
Mere. Or Plato.
Johp. Plato is framing some ideas,
O, but Ulen-spiegle
Were such a name.] See vol. iv. p. 58.
And cannot be stav'd off.
Hold your first man, a good man, Archimedes,
As Christmas, when disguising is on foot,
Mere. Skogan! what was he?
Johp. O, a fine gentleman, and master of arts, Of Henry the fourth's time, that made disguises For the king's sons, and writ in ballad-royal Daintily well.
Mere. But wrote he like a gentleman ?
Johp. In rhyme, fine tinkling rhyme, and flowing
With now and then some sense! and he was paid for't, Regarded and rewarded; which few poets
Johp. 'Cause every dabbler
In rhyme is thought the same :-but you shall see him. Hold up your nose. [Anoints his eyes and temples.
Mere. I had rather see a Brachman,
Or a Gymnosophist yet.
Johp. You shall see him, sir,
Is worth them both and with him domine Skelton,
Enter SKOGAN and SKELTON, in like habits as
Skog. Seemeth we are call'd of a moral intent, If the words that are spoken as well now be meant. Johp. That, master Skogan, I dare you ensure. Skog. Then, son, our acquaintance is like to endure. Mere. A pretty game! like Crambo; master Skogan,
Give me thy hand: thou art very lean, methinks,
5 Enter Skogan and Skelton in like habits as they lived,] i. e. in the dress they wore while they were alive. This puts an end to the grave difficulties and graver doubts of M. Mason, Steevens, and Malone, as to the exclamation of Hamlet,
"My father, in like habit as he lived,"
meaning, in the clothes which he usually wore. The idea of Steevens, that a ghost who once puts on armour, can never exchange it afterwards for any thing more light and comfortable, is very good.
In the lines which follow, Jonson imitates the language of Skogan and Skelton. The former (Henry Skogan) lived in the time of Henry IV., and, as Stowe says, sent a ballad to the young prince (Shakspeare's Hal) and his brothers, "while they were at supper in the Vintry, amongst the merchants." This is the ballad-royal of which our poet speaks: it was not very well timed, it must be allowed; and if we may judge from the opening stanza, moral as it is, it was not much better tuned :
"My noble sonnes and eke my Lords deare,
Send unto you this ballad following here,
Written with mine owne hand full rudely."
I have no knowledge of his "disguises." If moral Skogan (for this was his usual appellation) wrote any things of this nature, they were probably religious pieces, Mysteries and Moralities.
Is't living by thy wits?
My worshipful son, thou hadst ne'er been so fat.
Et gentilissimus !
Johp. The question-issimus
Is, should he ask a sight now, for his life;
To memory of these times, for a play-fellow,
To come to pass
And glass at his wrist.
Skog. Except the four knaves entertain'd for the guards
Of the kings and the queens that triumph in the cards.
Johp. Ay, that were a sight and a half, I confess, To see 'em come skipping in, all at a mess!