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He is wit's pedler; and retails his wares
- pecks up wit, as pigeons peas;] This expression is proverbial :
“ Children pick up words as pigeons peas,
“ And utter them again as God shall please.” See Ray's Collection. Steevens.
Pecks is the reading of the first quarto. The folio has-picks. That pecks is the true reading, is ascertained by one of Nashe's tracts; Christ's Tears over Jerusalem, 1594: “ The sower scat. tered some seede by the highway side, which the foules of the ayre peck'd up." Malone.
5— wassels,] Wassels were meetings of rustic mirth and intemperance. So, in Antony and Cleopatra: "
Antony, “ Leave thy lascivious wassels"See note on Macbeth, Act I, sc. vii. Steevens.
Waes heal, that is, be of health, was a salutation first used by the Lady Rowena to King Vortiger. Afterwards it became a custom in villages, on new year's eve and twelfth-night, to carry a wassel or waissail bowl from house to house, which was presented with the Saxon words above mentioned. Hence in process of time wassel signified intemperance in drinking, and also a meeting for the purpose of festivity. Malone.
He can carve too, and lisp:] The character of Boyet, as drawn by Biron, represents an accomplished squire of the days of chi. valry, particularly in the instances here noted.-"Le Jeune Ecuyer apprenoit long-temps dans le silence cet art de bien parler, lorsqu'en qualité d'Ecuyer TRANCHANT, il étoit debout dans les repas & dans les festins, occupé à couper les viandes avec la propreté, l'addresse & l'elegance convenables, et à les faire distri. buer aux nobles convives dont il étoit environné. Joinville, dans sa jeunesse, avoit rempli à la cour de Saint Louis cet office, qui, dans les maisons des Souverains, étoit quelquefois exercé par leurs propres enfans.” Memoires sur l'ancienne Chevalerie, Tom. I, p. 16. Henley.
“I cannot cog, (says Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor) and say, thou art this and that, like a many of these lisping hawa thorn buds, that come like women in men's apparel Malone,
In honourable terms; nay, he can sing
King. A blister on his sweet tongue, with my heart, That put Armado's page out of his part!
7 A mean most meanly; &c.] The mean in musick, is the tenor. So, Bacon: “ The treble cutteth the air so sharp, as it returneth too swift to make the sound equal; and therefore a mean or tenor is the sweetest." Again, in Herod and Antipater, 1622:
“ Thus sing we descant on one plain-song, kill:
« Four parts in one; the mean excluded quite." Again, in Drayton's Barons' Wars. Cant. iii.
“ The base and treble married to the mean.” Steevens. 8 — as white as whales bone :) As white as whales bone is a proverbial comparison in the old poets. In The Fairy Queen, B. III, c.i, st. 15:
« Whose face did seem as clear as crystal stone,
“ And eke, through feare, as white as whales bone." Again in L. Surrey, fol. 14, edit. 1567:
“I might perceive a wolf, as white as whales bone,
“ A fairer beast of fresher hue, beheld I never none." Skelton joins the whales bone with the brightest precious stones, in describing the position of Pallas :
“ A hundred steppes mounting to the halle,
“ One of jasper, another of whales bone ;
Crowne of Lawrell, p. 24, edit. 1736. T. Warton. - as whales bone: ] The Saxon genitive case. So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
“ Swifter than the moones sphere." It should be remember'd that some of our ancient writers sup. posed ivory to be part of the bones of a whale. The same simile occurs in the old black letter romance of Syr Eglamoure of Artoys, no date:
66 The erle had no chylde but one,
• A mayden as white as whales bone.” Steevens. This white whale his bone, now superseded by ivory, was the tooth of the Horse-whale, Morse, or Walrus, as appears by King Alfred's preface to his Saxon translation of Orosius. H. White.
Enter the Princess, usher'd by BoYET; ROSALINE, MA
RIA, KATHARINE, and Attendants.
thou, Till this man show'd thee? and what art thou now? 9
King. All hail, sweet madam, and fair time of day!
To lead you to our court: vouchsafe it then.
Nor God, nor I, delight in perjur'd men.
The virtue of your eye must break my oath.1
As the unsullied lily, I protest,
I would not yield to be your house's guest:
9 Behaviour, what wert thou,
Till this man show'd thee? and what art thou now?] These are two wonderfully fine lines, intimating that what courts call man. ners, and value themselves so much upon teaching, as a thing no where else to be learnt, is a modest silent accomplishment under the direction of nature and common sense, which does its office in promoting social life without being taken notice of. But that when it degenerates into show and parade, it becomes an un. manly contemptible quality. Warburton.
What is told in this note is undoubtedly true, but is not comprized in the quotation. Fohnson.
Till this man show'd thee?] The old copies read_" Till this mad man,” &c. Steevens. An error of the press. The word mad must be struck out.
M. Mason. 1 The virtue of your eye must break my oath.] I believe our au. thor means that the virtue, in which word goodness and power are both comprised, must dissolve the obligation of the oath. The Princess, in her answer, takes the most invidious part of the ambiguity. Fohnson.
King. O, you have liv'd in desolation here,
We have had pastimes here, and pleasant game; A mess of Russians left us but of late.
King. How, madam? Russians?
Ay, in truth, my lord; Trim gallants, full of courtship, and of state.
Ros. Madam, speak true:- It is not so my lord;
Biron. This jest is dry to me.-Fair, gentle sweet, 3
2 My lady, (to the manner of the days)
In courtesy, gives undeserving praise.] To the manner of the days, means according to the manner of the times.-Gives unde. serving praise, means praise to what does not deserve it.
M. Mason. 3 Fair, gentle sweet,] The word fair, which is wanting in the two elder copies, was restored by the second folio. Mr. Malone reads—“ My gentle sweet."
“My fair, sweet honey monarch” occurs in this very scene, p. 137. Steevens.
Sweet is generally used as a substantive by our author, in his addresses to ladies. So, in The Winter's Tale:
“ When you speak, sweet,
“I'd have you do it ever.” Again, in The Merchant of Venice:
“And now, good sweet, say thy opinion." Again, in Othello:
“— 0, my sweet,
“I prattle out of tune.” The editor of the second folio, with less probability, (as it appears to me) reads-fair, gentle sweet. Malone.
.. when we greet &c.] This is a very lofty and elegant compliment. Johnson.
Ros. This proves you wise and rich; for in my eye,Biron. I am a fool, and full of poverty.
Ros. But that you take what doth to you belong,
Biron. O, I am yours, and all that I possess.
I cannot give you less.
this? Ros. There, then, that visor; that superfluous case; That hid the worse, and show'd the better face. King. We are descried: they 'll mock us now down
right. Dum. Let us confess, and turn it to a jest. Prin. Amaz’d, my lord? Why looks your highness sad? Ros. Help, hold his brows! he 'll swoon! Why look
you pale?Sea-sick, I think, coming from Muscovy. Biron. Thus pour the stars down plagues for perjury.
Can any face of brass hold longer out?Here stand I, lady; dart thy skill at me;
Bruise me with scorn, confound me with a flout; Thrust thy sharp wit quite through my ignorance;
Cut me to pieces with thy keen conceit; And I will wish thee never more to dance,
Nor never more in Russian habit wait. O! never will I trust to speeches penn'd,
Nor to the motion of a school-boy's tongue; Nor never come in visor to my friend; 5
Nor woo in rhyme, like a blind harper's song: Taffata phrases, silken terms precise,
Three-pil'd hyperboles,6 spruce affectation, Figures pedantical; these summer-flies
Have blown me full of maggot ostentation :
s my friend;] i. e. mistress. So, in Measure for Measure:
“S he hath got his friend with child.” Steevens. 6 Three-pil'd hyperboles,] A metaphor from the pile of velvet. So, in The Winter's Tale, Āutolychus says:
“ I have worn three-pile.” Steevens. 7 — spruce affectation,] The old copies read-affection.