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Marg. To have no man come over me? why, shall I always keep below stairs ? 4
Bene. Thy wit is as quick as the greyhound's mouth, it catches.
Marg. And your's as blunt as the fencer's foils, which hit, but hurt not.
Bene. A most manly wit, Margaret, it will not hurt a woman; and so, I pray thee, call Beatrice: I give thee the bucklers.5
Marg. Give us the swords, we have bucklers of our own.
4 To have no man come over me? why, shall I always keep below stairs.?] I suppose, every reader will find the meaning. Johnson.
Lest he should not, the following instance from Sir Aston's Cockayne's Poems is at his service:
“ But to prove rather he was not beguild,
“Her he o'er-came, for he got her with child.” And another, more apposite, from Marston's Insatiate Countess, 1613:
“ Alas! when we are once o’the falling hand,
“ A man may easily come over us.” Collins. Mr. Theobald, to procure an obvious sense, would read-above stairs. But there is danger in any attempt to reform a joke two hundred years old.
The sense, however, for which Mr. Theobald contends, may be restored by supposing the loss of a word; and that our author wrote_" Why, shall I always keep men below stairs ?" i. e. never suffer them to come up into my bed-chamber, for the purposes of love. Steevens.
5 — I give thee the bucklers.] I suppose that to give the bucklers is, to yield, or to lay by all thoughts of defence, so clypeum abjicere. The rest deserves no comment. Fohnson.
Greene, in his Second part of Coney-Catching, 1592, uses the same expression : “At this his master laught, and was glad, for further advantage, to yield the bucklers to his prentise."
Again, in A Woman never Vex’d, a comedy by Rowley, 1632:
- into whose hands she thrusts the weapons first, let him take up the bucklers.” Again, in Decker's Satiromastix:
“ Charge one of them to take up the bucklers against that hair. monger Horace.” Again, in Chapman's May-day, 1611 :
“ And now I lay the bucklers at your feet.” Again, in Every Woman in her Humour, 1609:
- if you lay down the bucklers, you lose the victory.” Again, in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History, B. X, ch. xxi: " - it goeth against his stomach (the cock's) to yeeld the gantlet and give the bucklers.” Steevens.
Bene. If you use them, Margaret, you must put in the pikes with a vice; and they are dangerous weapons for maids.
Marg. Well, I will call Beatrice to you, who, I think, hath legs.
[Exit MARG. Bene. And therefore will come. The god of love,
[Singing That sits above, And knows me, and knows me,
How pitiful I deserve, I mean, in singing; but in loving -Leander the good swimmer, Troilus the first employer of pandars, and a whole book full of these quondam carpet-mongers, whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a blank verse, why, they were never so truly turn’d over and over as my poor self, in love: Marry, I cannot show it in rhime; I have try'd; I can find out no rhime to lady but baby, an innocent rhime: for scorn, horn, a hard rhime; for school, fool, a babbling rhime; very ominous endings: No, I was not born under a rhiming planet, nor I cannot woo in festival terms.
Beat. Yea, signior, and depart when you bid me.
Beat. Then, is spoken; fare you well now:--and yet, ere I go, let me go with that I came for, 8 which is,
6 The god of love, &c.] This was the beginning of an old song, by W. E. (William Elderton) a puritanical parody of which, by one W. Birch, under the title of The Complaint of a Sinner, &c. Imprinted at London, by Alexander Lacy for Richard Applow, is still extant. The words in this moralised copy are as follows:
“ The god of love, that sits above,
“ How sinful that we be.” Ritson.
6. The Gods of love
in festival terms.] i. e. in splendid phraseology, such as differs from common language, as holidays from common days. Thus, Hotspur, in K. Henry IV, P.I:
“ With many holiday and lady terms.” Steevens.
with that I came for,] For, which is wanting in the old copy, was inserted by Mr. Rowe. Malone.
with knowing what hath passed between you and Claudio.
Bene. Only foul words; and thereupon I will kiss thee.
Eeat. Foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but foul breath, and foul breath is noisome; therefore I will depart unkiss’d.
Bene. Thou hast frighted the word out of his right sense, so forcible is thy wit: But, I must tell thee plainly, Claudio undergoes my challenge;' and either I must shortly hear from him, or I will subscribe him a coward. And, I pray thee now, tell me, for which of my bad parts didst thou first fall in love with me?
Beat. For them all together; which maintain'd so politick a state of evil, that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them. But for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?
Bene. Suffer love; a good epithet! I do suffer love, indeed, for I love thee against my will.
Beat. In spite of your heart, I think; alas! If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.
Bene. Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.
Beat. It appears not in this confession: there's not one wise man among twenty, that will praise himself.
Bene. An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in the time of good neighbours:' if a man do not erect in
his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live no longer in monument, than the bell rings, and the widow weeps.
Bene. And how long is that, think you?
Bene. Question ?-Why, an hour in clamour, and a quarter in rheum:2 Therefore it is most expedient for
I—undergoes my challenge;] i. e. is subject to it. So, in Cymbeline, Act Ill, sc. v: undergo those employments, wherein I should have cause to use thee." Steevens.
in the time of good neighbours:) i. e. when men were not envious, but every one gave another his due. The reply is extremely humorous. Warburton.
2 Question ?-Why, an hour, &c.] i.e. What a question 's there, or what a foolish question do you ask? But the Oxford editor, not understanding this phrase, contracted into a single word, (of which we have many instances in English) has fairly struck it out.
Warburton. The phrase occurs frequently in Shakspeare, and means no more than--you ask a question, or that is the question. Ritson.
the wise, (if Don Worm, his conscience, find no impediment to the contrary) to be the trumpet of his own virtues, as I am to myself: So much for praising myself, (who, I myself will bear witness, is praise-worthy) and now tell me, How doth your couzin?
Beat. Very ill.
Bene. Serve God, love me, and mend: there will I leave you too, for here comes one in haste.
Enter URSULA. Urs. Madam, you must come to your uncle; yonder 's old coil at home:3 it is proved, my lady Hero hath been falsely accused, the prince and Claudio mightily abused; and Don John is the author of all, who is fled and gone: Will you come presently?
Beat. Will you go hear this news, signior?
Bene. I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes; and, moreover, I will go with thee to thy uncle's.
[Exeunt. SCENE III.
The inside of a Church.
musick and tapers.
Done to death by slanderous tongues,
Was the Hero that here lies:
Gives her fame which never dies :
-old coil at home :] So, in King Henry IV, P. II, Act II, sc. iv: “By the mass, here will be old Utis." See note on this passage. Old, (I know not why) was anciently a common augmentative in familiar language. Coil is bustle, stir. So, in King John:
“I am not worth this coil that's made for me.” Steevens: 4 Done to death-] This obsolete phrase occurs frequently in our ancient writers. Thus, in Marlowe's Lust's Dominion, 1657:
“His mother's hand shall stop thy breath,
So the life, that died with shame,
Praising her when I am dumb.-
To do to death is merely an old translation of the French phrase -Faire mourir. Steevens.
in guerdon -] Guerdon is reward, remuneration. See Costard's use of this word in Love's Labour's Lost, Act III, sc. i, The verb, to guerdon, occurs both in King Henry VI, P. II, and in King Henry VIII. Steevens.
6 Those that slew thy virgin knight;] Knight, in its original sig. nification, means follower, or pupil, and in this sense may be feminine. Helena, in All's well that ends well, uses knight in the same signification. Fohnson.
Virgin knight is virgin hero. In the times of chivalry, a virgin knight was one who had as yet achieved no adventure. Hero bad as yet achieved no matrimonial one. It may be added, that a virgin knight wore no device on his shield, having no right to any till he had deserved it.
So, in The History of Clyomon, Knight of the Golden Shield, &c. 1599:
“Then as thou seem'st in thy attire a virgin knight to be,
“ Take thou this shield likewise of white," &c. It appears, however, from several passages in Spenser's Faery Queene, B. I, c. vii, that an ideal order of this name was supposed, as a compliment to Queen Elizabeth's virginity:
“Of doughtie knights whom faery land did raise
“That noble order hight of maidenhed.” Again, B. II, c. ii :
“ Order of maidenhed the most renown'd.” Again, B. II, c. ix:
“And numbred be mongst knights of maidenhed.” On the books of the Stationers Company in the year 1594, is entered, “
- Pheander the mayden knight.” Steevens. I not believe that any allusion was here intended to Hero's having yet achieved “no matrimonial adventure.” Diana's knight or Virgin knight, was the common poetical appellation of virgins, in Shakspeare's time. So, in The Two Noble Kinsmen, 1634: “O sacred, shadowy, cold and constant queen,
who to thy female knights " Allow'st no more blood than will make a blush, “ Which is their order's robe,