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Val. Cease to persuade, my loving Proteus :
Pro. Wilt thou begone ? Sweet Valentine, adieu.
my success. Pro. Upon some book I love, I'll pray
for thee. Val. That's on some shallow story of deep love,
Leander cross'd the Hellespont. Pro. That's a deep story of a deeper love, For he was more than over shoes in love.
Dal. 'Tis true; but you are over boots in love',
Pro. Over the boots ? nay, give me not the boots '.
Val. Love is your master, for he masters you ;
Pro. Yet writers say, as in the sweetest bud
Val. And writers say, as the most forward bud
1 'Tis true; BUT you are over boots in love,] “But" is for in the old copies, and amended in the corr. fo. 1632. Mr. Singer not only accepts, but acknowledges the change; and we are bappy to give him credit for judgment, as well as conscientiousness. There is no emendation in our corr. fo. 1632, to which he would not be heartily welcome on the same terms : we never complain of fairly borrowing, but of silontly appropriating.
– nay, give me not the Boots.] A proverbial expression, not unfrequently met with in our old dramatists, signifying, don't make a laughing-stock of me. It seems to have no connexion whatever with the punishment of the boots in Scotland, to which the commentators refer.
S – BLASTING in the bud,] The corr. fo. 1632 has the passive for the active participle, blasted for “ blasting," but the change is needless, even if it be not injurious : any change may be called injurious, that is needless.
Once more adieu. My father at the road
Pro. And thither will I bring thee, Valentine.
Val. Sweet Proteus, no; now let us take our leave.
Pro. All happiness bechance to thee in Milan.
Pro. He after honour hunts, I after love:
Speed. Twenty to one, then, he is shipp'd already,
Pro. Indeed a sheep doth very often stray, An if the shepherd be awhile
away. Speed. You conclude, that my master is a shepherd, then,
and I a sheep'? Pro. I do. Speed. Why then, my horns are his horns, whether I wake
or sleep. Pro. A silly answer, and fitting well a sheep.
• To Milan let me hear from thee by letters,] This is merely an inversion of “Let me hear from thee by letters to Milan." The first folio read
“ To Milan," which the second folio erroneously changes to “ At Milan," &c.
S I LEAVE myself,] It was “I love myself” till Pope's day: he printed “ leave" for love, and most properly, as appears not only by the sense, but by the corr. fo. 1632: love is there erased, and “ leave" written in the margin. It has been the bad practice, in modern times, to print "leave," as if it had so stood in the old impressions: they all read love.
• And I have play'd the SHEEP] The point depends upon the resemblance in sound between the words “ ship" and "sheep.” In many parts of the country "sheep" is pronounced "ship.” This joke (80 to call it) employed again in “ The Comedy of Errors." In writings of the time “Sheep-street," in Stratford.' upon-Avon, is often spelt Ship-street.
1 - and I A sheep?] The indefinite article was added in the second folio.
Speed. This proves me still a sheep.
Speed. The shepherd seeks the sheep, and not 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.”.
Speed. Ay, sir: I, a lost mutton, gave your letter to her, & laced mutton"; and she, a laced 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 a stray', '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, the pinfold.
Speed. From a pound to a pin ? fold it over and over, 'Tis threefold too little for carrying a letter to your
Pro. But what said she ? did she nod '?
- & LACED MUTTON ;) Many authorities prove that “mutton" and courtezan were synonymous terms in the time of Shakespeare, and long afterwards; and hence (as Malone tells us) the place called Mutton-lane in Clerkenwell. The question is, what was meant by a " laced mutton,” for the participle and substantive are often found together. “Laced" probably meant dressed or adorned ; and in Deloney's "Thomas of Reading," chap. ii., we read this passage: "No meat pleased him 80 well as mutlon, such as was laced in a red petticoat." Speed's jest, such as it is, may have reconciled Proteus to the ill compliment to his mistress. The Rev. Mr. Dyce never thinks a point sufficiently established, as . long as the word in question, however familiar, can be quoted from any other anthor: therefore here ("Few Notes," p. 17) we bave a farther illustration of “laced mutton," as in the preceding page we have had another proof that "sheep" and ship of old were confounded. Surely this is wasted time and space.
Nay, in that you are A STRAY,] Usually printed astray, but the joke requires the emendation introduced into the corr. fo. 1632: Speed being a stray, i.e. a stray sheep, was to be pounded.
did she nod ?] These words are supplied by Theobald, and seem to be necessary: they are not in the old copies ; but it is clear from what Speed afterwards says that Proteus had asked the question. In Speed's answers the old spelling of the affirmative particle, viz. “I” for ay, has necessarily been retained.
[SPEED nods. Pro. Nod, I? why that's noddy'.
Speed. You mistook, sir : I say she did nod, and you ask me, if she did nod ? and I
Pro. No, no; you shall have it for bearing the letter.
Speed. Marry, sir, the letter very orderly; having nothing but the word noddy for my pains. Pro. Beshrew
have a quick wit.
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 ?
[Giving him money. Speed. Truly, sir, I think you'll hardly win her. Pro. Why?
Couldst thou perceive so much from her ?
Pro. What! said she nothing ?
"take this for thy pains.” To testify your bounty, I thank you, you have testern'd me*;
Noddy” was a game at cards, and to call a person & “Noddy was the same as to call him a fool. Noddy was the Knave or Fool in a pack of cards; and the practice of calling the knave Nod, Noddy (sometimes corrapted to Nob and Nabby), is not yet entirely discontinued.
for she's as hard as steel.] This speech is given as rhyming verse in the corr. fo. 1632, whereas it stands as mere printed prose in the old copies. We may suspect that, after the words “No, not so much as” in Speed's next speech, he made a pause, as if a rhyme to “steel” were to be understood; but as he could not venture to pronounce it, he followed it up by the harmless words “take this for thy pains :" he then reverts to his prose. Malone had difficulty in making sense out of the passage, but the meaning seems now sufficiently obvious.
you have TESTERN'D me;] You have given me a testern, that is sixpence. In the time of Henry VIII. a tester, testern, or teston, was of the value of shilling: it was so called from having a teste, i.e. head, upon it. In the folio, 1623," testern'd” is misprinted cestern'd.