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Mess. I know none of that name, lady; there was none such in the army of any sort."
Leon. What is he that you ask for, niece?
Beat. He set up his bills here in Messina, 8 and challenged Cupid at the flight:9 and my uncle's fool, read
Montanto was one of the ancient terms of the fencing-school. So, in Every Man in his Humour: “ your punto, your re. verso, your stoccata, your imbrocata, your passada, your montanto," &c. Again, in The Merry Wives of Windsor :
“— thy reverse, thy distance, thy montánt.” Steevens. 7— there was none such in the army of any sort.] Not meaning there was none such of any order or degree whatever, but that there was none such of any quality above the common. Warburton.
8 He set up his bills &c.] So, in B. Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour, Shift says:
“ This is rare, I have set up my bills without discovery.* Again, in Swetnam Arraign'd, 1620:
“ I have bought foils already, set up bills,
“ Hung up my two-hand sword,” &c. Again, in Nash's Have with you to Saffron Walden, &c. 1596:
• setting up bills, like a bearward or fencer, what fights we shall have, and what weapons she will meet me at.”
The following account of one of these challenges, taken from an ancient MS. of which further mention is made in a note on The Merry Wides of Windsor, Act I, sc. i, may not be unacceptable to the inquisitive reader. “ Item a challenge playde before the King's majestie (Edward VI,) at Westminster, by three maisters, Willyam Pascall, Robert Greene, and W. Browne, at seven kynde of weapons. That is to saye, the axe, the pike, the rapier and target, the rapier and cloke, and with two swords, agaynst all alyens and strangers being borne without the King's dominions, of what countrie so ever he or they were, geving them warninge by theyr bills set up by the three maisters, the space of eight weeks before the sayd challenge was playde; and it was holden four severall Sundayes one after another.” It ap. pears from the same work, that all challenges “ to any maister within the realme of Englande being an Englishe man,” were against the statutes of the “ Noble science of Defence."
Beatrice means, that Benedick published a general challenge, like a prize-fighter. Steevens.
9 challenged Cupid at the flight:] Flight as Mr. Douce observes to me) does not here mean an arrow, but a sort of shooting called roving, or shooting at long lengths. The arrows used at this sport are called flight-arrows; as were those used in battle for great distances. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Bonduca:
ing the challenge, subscribed for Cupid, and challenged him at the bird-bolt. – I pray you, how many hath he
"_ not the quick rack swifter ;
“ A round stone from a sling, - " Again, in A Woman kill'd with Kindness, 1617:
« We have tied our geldings to a tree, two flight-shot off." Again, in Middleton's Game of Chess :
“ Who, as they say, dischargʻd it like a flight.”
" and assign'd
“Of their intended aim, and did no hurt." Holinshed makes the same distinction in his account of the same occurrence, and adds, that these flights were provided on purpose. Again, in Holinshed, p. 649: “He caused the soldiers to shoot their flights towards the lord Audlies company."
Mr. Tollet observes, that the length of a fight-shot seems ascertained by a passage in Leland's Itinerary, 1769, Vol. IV, p. 44: “ The passage into it at ful se is a flite-shot over, as much as the Tamise is above the bridge.”-It were easy to know the length of London-bridge, and Stowe's Survey may inform the curious reader whether the river has been narrowed by embank. ing since the days of Leland.
Mr. Douce, however, observes, that as the length of the shot depended on the strength and skill of the archer, nothing can with certainty be determined by the passage quoted from Leland.
Steevens. The flight was an arrow of a particular kind:-- In the Harleian Catalogue of MSS. Vol. I, n. 69, is “a challenge of the lady Maiee's servants to all comers, to be performed at Greenwiche to shoot standart arrow or flight." I find the title-page of an old pamphlet still more explicit—“A new post-a marke exceeding necessary for all men's arrows: whether the great man's flight, the gallant's rover, the wise man's pricke-shaft, the poor man's but-shaft, or the fool's bird-bolt." Farmer.
1- at the bird-bolt.] The bird-bolt is a short thick arrow without a point, and spreading at the extremity so much, as to leave a flat surface, about the breadth of a shilling. Such are to this day in use to kill rooks with, and are shot from a cross-bow. So, in Marston's What You Will, 1607 :
" ignorance should shoot
killed and eaten in these wars? But how many hath he killed? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing,
Leon. Faith, niece, you tax signior Benedick too much; but he 'll be 'meet with you, I doubt it not.
Mess. He hath done good service, lady, in these wars.
Beat. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it: he is a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent stomach.
Mess. And a good soldier too, lady.
Beat. And a good soldier to a lady ;-But what is he to a lord?
Mess. A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all honourable virtues.3
Beat. It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man: but for the stuffing-Well, we are all mortal.
Again, in Love in a Maze, 1632:
“ Or strike her with a sharp one!" Steevens. The meaning of the whole is Benedick, from a vain conceit of his influence over women, challenged Cupid at roving; a parti. cular kind of archery, in which flight-arrows are used. In other words, he challenged him to shoot at hearts. The fool, to ridicule this piece of vanity, in his turn challenged Benedick to shoot at crows with the cross-bow and bird-bolt; an inferior kind of arch. ery used by fools, who, for obvious reasons, were not permitted to shoot with pointed arrows: Whence the proverb " A fool's bolt is soon shot.” Douce.
2 - he'll be meet with you, ] This is a very common expres. sion in the midland counties, and signifies he'll be your match, he'll be even with you. So, in TEXNOTAMIA, by B. Holiday, 1618:
“Go meet her, or else she 'll be meet with me.” Stecvens. s_ stuffed with all honourable virtues.] Stuffed, in this first instance, has no ridiculous meaning. Mr. Edwards observes, that Mede in his Discourses on Scripture, speaking of Adam, says, " he whom God had stuffed with so many excellent qualities.” Edwards’s MS. Again, in The Winter's Tale:
" whom you know
“Of stuff'd sufficiency." Un homme bien etoffé, signifies, in French, a man in good cir. cumstances. Steevens.
4 he is no less than a stuffed man: but for the stuffing Well, we are all mortal.] Mr. Theobald plumed himself much on
Leon. You must not, sir, mistake my niece: there is a kind of merry war betwixt signior Benedick and her: they never meet, but there is a skirmish of wit between them.
Beat. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, four of his five wits5 went halting off, and now is the whole man governed with one: so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse ;6 for it is all the wealth that he hath left, to be known a reasonable
the pointing of this passage; which, by the way, he might learn from D'Avenant: but he says not a word, nor any one else that I know of, about the reason of this abruption. The truth is, Bea. trice starts an idea at the words stuff'd man; and prudently checks herself in the pursuit of it. A stuff'd man was one of the many cant phrases for a cuckold. In Lily's Midas, we have an inventory of Motto's moveables : “ Item, says Petulus, one paire of hornes in the bride-chamber on the bed's head.—The beast's head, observes Licio; for Motto is stuff'd in the head, and these are among unmoveable goods." Farmer.
6- four of his five wits-] In our author's time wit was the general term for intellectual powers. So, Davies on the Soul:
“ Wit, seeking truth from cause to cause ascends,
« And never rests till it the first attain;
“ But never stays till it the last do gain." And, in another part:
“But if a phrenzy do possess the brain,
“ It so disturbs and blots the forms of things,
“ And to the avit no true relation brings.
“ Build fond conclusions on those idle grounds;"_ The wits seem to have been reckoned five, by analogy to the five senses, or the five inlets of ideas. Johnson.
6- if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear if for a difference, &c.] Such a one has wit enough to keep himself warm, is a proverbial expression.
So, in The Wise Woman of Hogsden, 1638: “ You are the wise woman, are you? and have wit to keep yourself warm enough, I warrant you.” Again, in Cynthia's Revels, by Ben Jonson: “ your whole self cannot but be perfectly wise; for your hands have wit enough to keep themselves warm.".
To bear any thing for a difference, is a term in heraldry. So, in Hamlet, Ophelia says:
“ you may wear your rue with a difference.” Steevens,
creature.- Who is his companion now? He hath every month a new sworn brother. 7
Mess. Is it possible?
Beat. Very easily possible: he wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.
Méss. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books."
T s worn brother.) i. e. one with whom he hath sworn (as was anciently the custom among adventurers) to share fortunes. See Mr. Whalley's note on-" we'll be all three sworn-brothers to France,” in King Henry V, Act II, sc. i. Steevens.
8- he wears his faith - Not religious profession, but profession of friendship; for the speaker gives it as the reason of her asking, who was now his companion ? that he had every month a new sworn brother. Warburton.
I — with the next block.) A block is the mould on which a -hat is formed. So, in Decker's Satiromastix:
“Of what fashion is this knights wit? of what block? See a note on K. Lear, Act IV, sc. vi. The old writers sometimes use the word block, for the hat itself.
Steevens. 1- the gentleman is not in your books.] This is a phrase used, I believe, by more than understand it. To be in one's books is to be in one's codicils or will, to be among friends set down for legacies.
Fohnson. I rather think that the books alluded to, are memorandum. books, like the visiting books of the present age. So, in Decker's Honest Whore, P. II, 1630:
“I am sure her name was in my table-book once." Or, perhaps the allusion is to matriculation at the University. So, in Aristippus, or The Fovial Philosopher, 1630.
“ You must be matriculated, and have your name recorded in Albo Academia.”
Again: “ What, have you enrolled him in albo? Have you fully admitted him into the society ?-to be a member of the body aca. demic?”
Again: “ And if I be not entered, and have my name admitted into some of their books, let,” &c.
And yet I think the following passage in The Maid's Revenge, by Shirley, 1639, will sufficiently support my first supposition:
“ Pox of your compliment, you were best not write in her ta. ble-books."
It appears to have been anciently the custom to chronicle the small beer of every occurrence, whether literary or domestic, in table-books. So, in the play last quoted:
“Devolve itself!--that word is not in my table-books." Hamlet likewise has my tables,” &c.