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Pro. Cease to lament for that thou canst not help,
Val. I pray thee, Launce, an if thou seest my boy,
Pro. Go, sirrah, find him out. Come, Valentine.
[Exeint Valentine and Protheus. ? Laun. I am but a fool, look you; and yet I have the wit to think, my master is a kind of a knave : but that's all one, if he be but one knave. He lives
Even in the milk-white bofom of thy love.) So in Hamlet:
" These to her excellent white bofom, &c." Trifling as the remark may appear, before the meaning of this address of letters to the bofom of a mistress can be understood, it should be known that women anciently had a pocket in the fore part of their stays, in which they not only carried love-letters and love tokens, but even their money and materials for needle work. In many parts of England the rustic damsels still observe the fame practice; and a very old lady informs me that she remembers when it was the fashion to wear very prominent stays, it was no less the custom for stratagem or gallantry to drop its literary favours within the front of them. STEEVENS.
2 Laun. I am but a fool, look you; and yet I have the wit to think
my master is a kind of knave: but that's all one, if he be but one KNAve.] Where is the sense ? or, if you won't allow the Speaker that, where is the humour of this speech ? Nothing had
not now, that knows me to be in love : yet I am in love; but 3 a team of horse shall not pluck that from given the fool occasion to suspect that his master was become double, like Antipholis in The Comedy of Errors. The last word is corrupt. We should read
if he be but one KIND. He thought his master was a kind of knave; however, he keeps himself in countenance with this reflection, that if he was a knave but of one kind, he might pass well enough amongst his neighbours. This is truly humourous. WARBURTON.
This alteration is acute and fpecious, yet I know not whether, in Shakespeare's language, one knave may not fignify a krave en only one occasion, a single knave. We still use a double villain for a villain beyond the common rate of guilt. Johnson.
This passage has been altered, with little difference, by Dr. Warburton and fir Tho. Hanmer.- Mr. Edwards explains it, « if he only be a knave, if I myself be not found to be another." I agree with Dr. Johnson, and will support the old reading and his interpretation with indisputable authority. In the old play of Damon and Pythias, Aristippus declares of Carifophus, “ you lose money by him if you sell him for one knave, for he serves for twayne."
This phraseology is often met with : Arragon says in the Mere chant of Venice:
“ With one fool's head I came to woo,
" But I go away with two." Donne begins one of his sonnets :
" I am two fools, I know,
" For loving and for saying fo, &c.". And when Panurge cheats St. Nicholas of the chapel, which he vowed to him in a storm, Rabelais calls him" a rogue-a rogue and an half-Le gallant, gallant et demy.” FARMER. Again, in Like will to Like, quoth the Devil to the Collier, 1587:
“ Thus thou may'st be called a knave in graine,
STEEVENS. Again in Chapman's Two wife Men and all the rest Fools, 1619:
" I desire no more cunning than I now have, and I'll serve you still and set
up for myself; for I had rather be a double knare than a fingle fool.” MALONE.
a team of horse shall not pluck-] I see how Valentine suffers for telling his love-lecrets, therefore I will keep mine close. Johnson.
Perhaps Launce was not intended to Thew so much sense; but here indulges himself in talking contradictory nonsense.
me; nor who 'tis I love, and yet 'tis a woman : but what woman, I will not tell myself, and yet 'tis a milk-maid : yet 'tis not a maid, for the hath had goffips + : yet 'tis a maid, for she is her master's maid, and serves for wages. She hath more qualities than a water-spaniel - which is much in a bare christians. Here is the cat-log (Pulling out a paper] of her conditions. Imprimis, She can fetch and carry: Why, a horse can do no more : nay, a horse cannot fetch; but only carry; therefore, is the better than a jade. Item, She can milk, look you; A sweet virtue in a maid with clean hands.
Enter Speed. Speed. How now, fignior Launce? what news with
your masterskip ? Laun. "With my master's ship? why, it is at sea.
Speed. Well, your old vice still; mistake the word: What news then in your paper ?
Laun. The blackest news that ever thou heard'st, Speed. Why, man, how black ? Laur. Why, as black as ink. 4 for She hath had golps :) Gosips not only fignify those who answer for a childin baptism, but the tattling women whoattend lyings-in. The quibble between these is evi.lent. STEEVENS,
a bare christian.] Launce is quibbling on. Bare has two senses; mere and naked. In Coriolanus it is used in the first :
“ 'Tis but a bare petition of the statet" Launce uses it in both, and opposes the naked female to the water-spaniel cover'd with hairs of remarkable thickness.
STEEVENS. 6 In former editions it is,
With my mastership? why, it is at sea. For how does Launce mistake the word ? Speed asks him about his mastership, and he replies to it literatim. But then how was his mastership at sea, and on more too. The addition of a letter and a note of apostrophe make Launce both mistake the word, and sets the pun right: ic restores, indeed, but a mean joke; but, without it, there is no sense in the passage. Besides, it is in character with the rest of the scene; and, I dare be confident, the poet's own conceit.
THEOBALD. VOL. I.
Speed. Let me read them.
Laun. O illiterate loiterer! it was the son of thy grandmother?: this proves, that thou can'ít not read.
Speed. Come, fool, come : try me in thy paper.
- the son of thy grandmother:] It is undoubtedly true that the mother only knows the legitimacy of the child. I suppose Launce infers, that if he could read, he must have read this well known observation. STEEVENS.
-St. Nicholas be thy sfeed!) St. Nicholas presided over scholars, who were therefore called St. Nicholas's clerks. Hence, by a quibble between Nicholas and Old Nick, highwaymen, in The First Part of Henry the Fourth, are called Nicholas's clerks,
WARBURTON That this faint presided over young scholars, may be gathered from Knight's Life of Dean Colet, p: 362. For by the statutes of Paul's school there inserted, the children are required to attend divine service at the cathedral on his anniversary. The reason I take to be, that the legend of this faint makes him to have been a bishop, while he was a boy. At Salisbury cathedral is a monument of a boy bishop; and it is said that a custom formerly prevailed there, of choosing, from among the choristers, a bishop, who actually performed the pastoral functions, and disposed of such prebends as became vacant during his episcopacy, which lasted but a few days. It is thought that the monument aboveInentioned was for some boy who died in office.-See The Pofi ba• mous Works of Mr. John Gregory, 4to. Oxon. Str. J. HAWKINS. So Puttenham, in his Art of Poetry, 1589:
66 Methinks this fellow speaks like bishop Nicholas ; for on Saint Nicholas' nigh: commonly the scholars of the country make them a bishop, who, like a foolish boy, goeth about bletting and preaching with fuck childish terins, as maketh the people laugh at his foolish counter feit speeches." STEEVENS.
In Hearne's Liber Niger Scaccarii, 1771, vol. ii. p. 674, and 686, we find that archbishop Rotherham bequeathed “a myter for the barne-bishop, of cloth of gold, with two knopps of silver gilt and enamyled." And this was in a country village in York: Thire. TOLLET.
Laun. Ay, that she can.
Laun. And therefore comes the proverb, ---Blessing of your heart, you brew good ale %.
Speed. Item, She can sez.
Laun. What need a man care for a stock with a wench, when she can knit him a stock'.
Speed. Item, She can wash and scour.
Laun. A special virtue ; for then she need not to be wash'd and scour'd.
Speed. Item, She can spin.
Laun. Then may I set the world on wheels, when The can spin for her living.
Speed. Item, She hath many nameless virtues.
Laun. That's as much as to say, Bastard virtues; that, indeed, know not their fathers, and therefore have no names.
Speed. Here follow her vices.
Speed. Item, · She is not to be kiss’d fasting, in respect of her breath.
Laun. Well, that fault may be mended with a breakfast: Read on. Speed. Item, She hath a } sweet mouth.
9 Bleffing your heart, &c.] So in Ben Jonson's Masque of Augurs:
66 Our ale's, o' the best,
“ Prays for their foals that brew it." STEEVEN3. -knit him a stock.j i. e. a stocking. So in Twelfth Night: -it does indifferent well in a flame-colour'd stock.”
STEEVENS. 2 — he is not to be kiss'd fasting, — ] The old copy reads, she is not to be fasting, &c. The necessary word kissd, was first added by M . Rowe. STEEVENS. fweet mouth.] This I take to be the same with what is