« PreviousContinue »
You are too swift, sir, to say so:1 Is that lead slow which is fir’d from a gun?
Arm. Sweet smoke of rhetorick!
Thump then, and I flee. [Exit.
Re-enter Moth and CosTARD. Moth. A wonder, master; here's a Costard broken 3
in a shin. Arm. Some enigma, some riddle: come-thy len
voy ;-begin. Cost. No egma, no riddle, no l'envoy ;no salve in
1 You are too swift, sir, to say so:] How is he too swift for say. ing that lead is slow? I fancy we should read, as well to supply the rhyme as the sense:
You are too swift, sir, to say so so soon:
Is that lead slow, sir, which is fir'd from a gun? Fohnson. The meaning, I believe, is, You do not give yourself time to think, if you say so; or, as-Mr. M. Mason explains the passage : “ You are too hasty in saying that: you have not sufficiently considered it.”
Swift, however, means ready at replies. So, in Marston's Malcontent, 1604:
“I have eaten but two spoonfuls, and methinks I could discourse both swiftly and wittily, already.” Steevens.
Swift is here used, as in other places, synonymously with witty. I suppose the meaning of Atalanta's better part, in As you like it, is her wit—the swiftness of her mind. Farmer.
So, in As you like it : “He is very swift and sententious.” Again, in Much Ado about Nothing :
Having so swift and excellent a wit." On reading the letter which contained an intimation of the Gunpowder-plot in 1605, King James said, that “the style was more quick and pithie than was usual in pasquils and libels.”
Malone. 2 By thy favour, sweet welkin,) Welkin is the sky, to which Armado, with the false dignity of a Spaniard, makes an apology for sighing in its face. Johnson.
- here's a Costard broken -] i. e. a head. So, in Hycke Scorner : “I wyll rappe you on the costard with my horne.” Steevens.
no l'envoy;] The l'envoy is a term borrowed from the
the mail, sir:5 O, sir, plantain, a plain plantain; no l'envoy, no l'envoy, no salve, sir, but a plantain!
old French poetry. It appeared always at the head of a few con. cluding verses to each piece, which either served to convey the moral, or to address the poem to some particular person. It was frequently adopted by the ancient English writers.
So, in Monsieur D'Olive, 1606:
“Well said ; now to the L’Envoy."-All the Tragedies of John Bochas, translated by Lidgate, are followed by a L'Envoy.
Steevens. - no salve in the mail, sir:] The old folio reads-no salve in thee male, sir, which, in another folio, is, no salve in the male, sir. What it can mean, is not easily discovered: if mail for a packet or bag was a word then in use, no salve in the mail may mean, no salve in the mountebank's budget. Or shall we read — no enigma, no riddle, no l'envoy--in the vale, sir-0, sir, plantain. The matter is not great, but one would wish for some meaning or other. Johnson.
Male or mail was a word then in use. Reynard the fox sent Kayward's head in a male. So, likewise, in Tamburlane, or the Scythian Shepherd, 1590:
“ Open the males, yet guard the treasure sure." I believe Dr. Johnson's first explanation to be right. Steevens.
Male, which is the reading of the old copies, is only the ancient spelling of mail. So, in Taylor the water-poet's works, (Character of a Bawd) 1630:-“the cloathe-bag of counsel, the capcase, fardle, pack, male, of friendly toleration:” The quarto 1598, and the first folio, have—thee male. Corrected by the edi. tor of the second folio. Malone.
I can scarcely think that Shakspeare had so far forgotten his little school-learning, as to suppose the Latin verb salve and the English substantive, salve, had the same pronunciation; and yet without this the quibble cannot be preserved. Farmer.
The same quibble occurs in Aristippus, or The Jovial Philosopher, 1630:
“ Salve, Master Simplicius.
“ Salve me; 'tis but a Surgeon's complement.” Steevens. Perhaps we should read—no salve in them all, sir. Tyrwhitt.
This passage appears to me to be nonsense as it stands, incapable of explanation, I have therefore no doubt but we should adopt the amendment proposed by Mr. Tyrwhitt, and read-No salve in them all, sir.
Moth tells his master, that there was a Costard with a broken shin: and the Knight, supposing that Moth has some conceit in what he said, calls upon him to explain it.--Some riddle, says he, some enigma. Come—thy l'envoy-begin. But Costard supposing that he was calling for these things, in order to apply them to his broken shin, says, he will not have them, as they were none of them salves, and begs for a plain plantain instead of them. This
Arm. By virtue, thou enforcest laughter; thy silly thought, my spleen; the heaving of my lungs provokes me to ridiculous smiling: 0, pardon me, my stars! Doth the inconsiderate take salve for l'envoy, and the word, l'envoy, for a salve?
Moth. Do the wise think them other? is not l'envoy a salve? Arm. No, page: it is an epilogue or discourse, to
make plain Some obscure precedence that hath tofore been sain. I will example it:6
The fox, the ape, and the humble-bee,
Were still at odds, being but three. There's the moral: Now the l'envoy.
Moth. I will add the l'envoy: Say the moral again.
is clearly the meaning of Costard's speech, which provokes the illustrious Armado to laugh at the inconsiderate, who takes salve for l'envoy, and the word l'envoy for salve.
But when Moth, who is an arch and sensible character, says, in reply to Armado :-" Do the wise think them other? Is not l'envoy a salve ?" we must not suppose that this question is owing to his simplicity, but that he intended thereby either to lead the Knight on to the subsequent explanation of the word l'envoy, or to quibble in the manner stated in the notes upon the English word salve and the Latin salvé; a quibble which operates upon the eye, not the ear:-- Yet Steevens has shown it was not a new
If this quibble was intended, which does not evidently appear to be the case, the only way that I account for it, is this :
As the l'envoy was always in the concluding part of a play or poem, it was probably in the l'envoy that the poet or reciter took leave of the audience, and the word itself appears to be derived from the verb envoyer, to send away. Now the usual salutation amongst the Romans at parting, as well as meeting, was the word salvé. Moth, therefore considers the l'envoy as a salutation or salvé, and then quibbling on this last word, asks if it be not a salve.
I do not offer this explanation with much confidence, but it is the only one that occurs to me. M. Mason.
6 I will example it: &c.] These words, and some others, are not in the first folio, but in the quarto of 1598. I still believe the old passage to want regulation, though it has not sufficient merit to encourage the editor who should attempt it: There is in Tusser an old song, beginning
“ The ape, the lion, the fox, and the asse,
“ Thus sets forth man in a glasse," &c. Perhapa some ridicule on this diity was intended. Steevens.
Arm. The fox, the ape, and the humble-bee,
Were still at odds, being but three: Moth. Until the goose came out of door,
And stay'd the odds by adding four. Now will I begin your moral, and do you follow with my l'envoy.
The fox, the ape, and the humble-bee,
Were still at odds, being but three;
Staying the odds by adding four.
desire more? Cost. The boy hath sold him a bargain, a goose, that's
flat:Sir, your pennyworth is good, an your goose be fat.To sell a bargain well, is as cunning as fast and loose: Let me see a fat l'envoy; ay, that's a fat goose. Arm. Come hither, come hither: How did this argu
ment begin? Moth. By saying that a Costard was broken in a shin. Then call'd you for the l'envoy. Cost. True, and I for a plantain; Thus came your
argument in; Then the boy's fat l'envoy, the goose that you bought; And he ended the market.7
Arm. But tell me; how was there a Costard broken in a shin? 8
Moth. I will tell you sensibly.
Cost. Thou hast no feeling of it, Moth; I will speak that l'envoy:
I, Costard, running out, that was safely within,
7 And he ended the market.] Alluding to the proverb-Three women and a goose, make a market. Tre donne et un occa fan un mercato. Ital. Ray's Proverbs. Steevens.
how was there a Costard broken in a shin?] Costard is the name of a species of apple. Johnson.
It has been already observed that the head was anciently called the costard. So, in King Richard III: “Take him over the costard with the hilt of thy sword.” A costard likewise signified a crab-stick. So, in The Loyal Subject of Beaumont and Fletcher:
“I hope they'll crown his service -"
Arm. We will talk no more of this matter.
Cost. O, marry me to one Frances;-I smell some l'envoy, some goose, in this.
Arm. By my sweet soul, I mean, setting thee at liberty, enfreedoming thy person; thou wert immured, restrained, captivated, bound.
Cost. True, true; and now you will be my purgation, and let me loose.
Arm. I give the thy liberty, set thee from durance; and, in lieu thereof, impose on thee nothing but this: Bear this significant to the country maid Jaquenetta: there is remuneration; [Giving him money) for the best ward of mine honour, is rewarding my dependents. Moth, follow.
(Exit. Moth. Like the sequel, 1.9_Signior Costard, adieu. Cost. My sweet ounce of man's flesh! my incony Jew!1
9 Like the sequel, 1.] Sequele, in French, signifies a great man's train. The joke is, that a single page was all his train.
Theobald. I believe this joke exists only in the apprehension of the commentator. Sequelle, by the French, is never employed but in a derogatory sense. They use it to express the gang of a highwayman, but not the train of a lord; the followers of a rebel, and not the attendants on a general. Thus, Holinshed, p. 639:“ to the intent that by the extinction of him and his sequeale, all civil warre and inward division might cease,” &c. Moth uses sequel only in the literary acceptation.
Mr. Heath observes that the meaning of Moth is,—“I follow you as close as the sequel does the premises.” Steevens.
Moth alludes to the sequel of any story, which follows a preceding part, and was in the old story-books introduced in this manner: “Here followeth the sequel of such a story, or adventure.” So, Hamlet says: “But is there no sequel at the heels of this mother's admonition?” M. Mason.
- my incony Jew!] Incony or cony in the North, signifies, fine, delicate--as a kony thing, a fine thing. It is plain, therefore, we should read :
my incony jewel." Warburton. I know not whether it be right, however specious, to change Few to Jewel. Few, in our author's time, was, for whatever reason, apparently a word of endearment. So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream: “ Most briskly juvenal, and eke most lovely Few."