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Rom. A gentleman, nurse, that loves to hear himself talk; and will speak more in a minute, than he will stand to in a month.
Nurse. An'a speak any thing against me, I'll take him down an 'a were lustier than he is, and twenty such Jacks; and if I cannot, I'll find those that shall. Scurvy knave! I am none of his flirt-gills; I am none of his skains-mates : —And thou must stand by too, and suffer every knave to use me at his pleasure?
Pet. I saw no man use you at his pleasure ; if I had, my weapon should quickly have been out, I warrant you ; I dare draw as soon as another man, if I see occasion in a good quarrel, and the law on my side.
Nurse. Now, afore God, I am so vex’d, that every part about me quivers. Scurvy knave! Pray you, sir, a word : and as I told you, my young lady bade me inquire you out; what she bade me say, I will keep to myself: but first let me tell ye, if ye should lead her into a fool's paradise, as they say, ' it were a very gross kind of beha
8 of his ropery?) Ropery was anciently used in the same sense as roguery is now. So, in The Three Ladies of London, 1584:
“ Thou art very pleasant and full of thy roperye." Rope-sticks are mentioned in another place. Steevens.
9 none of his skains-mates. None of his skains-mates means, I apprehend, none of his cut-throat companions. Malone.
A skein or skain was either a knife or a short dagger. By skainsmates the Nurse means none of his loose companions who frequent the fencing-school with him, where we may suppose the exercise of this weapon was taught.
The word is used in the old tragedy of Soliman and Perseda, 1599:
“ Against the light-foot Irish have I serv'd,
“ And in my skin bare tokens of their skeins." Again, in the comedy called Lingua, &c. 1507. At the opening of the piece Lingua is represented as apparelled in a particular manner, and among other things-having “a little skene jied in a purple scarf.”
Green, in his Quip for an Upstart Courtier, describes, “an illfavoured knave, who wore by his side a skeine like a brewer's bung-knife.” Skein is the Irish word for a knife. Steevens.
if ye should lead her into a fool's paradise, as they say,} So, in A Handfull of pleasant Delightes, containing sundry new .Soners, &c. 1584:
" When they see they may her win,
viour, as they say: for the gentlewoman is young; and, therefore, if you should deal double with her, truly, it were an ill thing to be offered to any gentlewoman, and very weak dealing.
Rom. Nurse, commend me to thy lady and mistress. I protest unto thee,
Nurse. Good heart! and, i' faith, I will tell her as much: Lord, lord, she will be a joyful woman.
Rom. What wilt thou tell her, nurse? thou dost not mark me.
Nurse. I will tell her, sir,--that you do protest ; which, as I take it, is a gentlemanlike offer.
Rom. Bid her devise some means to come to shrift
Nurse. No, truly, sir; not a penny.
Rom. And stay, good nurse, behind the abbey-wall:
“ They prate, and make the matter nice,
“ And leave her in fooles paradise.” Malone. 2 — protest ;] Whether the repetition of this word conveyed any idea peculiarly comick to Shakspeare's audience, is not at present to be determined. The use of it, however, is ridiculed in the old comedy of Sir Giles Goosecap, 1606:
« There is not the best duke's son in France dares say, I protest, till he be one and thirty years old at least; for the inheritance of that word is not to be possessed before.” See Donne's fourth Sa. tire. Steevens.
3 Here is for thy pains.] So, in The Tragical Hystory of Romeus and Fuliet, 1562:
“ Then he vi crowns of gold out of his pocket drew,
so adieu.” Malone. - like a tackled stair ;] Like stairs of rope in the tackle of a ship. Johnson.
Astair, for a Aight of stairs, is still the language of Scotland, and was probably once common to both kingdoms. Malone.
5- top-gallant of my joy - ] The top-gallant is the highest extremity of the mast of a ship.
Must be my convoy in the secret night.
Nurse. Is your man secret? Did you ne'er hear sayTwo may keep counsel, putting one away ? 6
Rom. I warrant thee;? my man 's as true as steel.
Nurse. Well, sir; my mistress is the sweetest ladyLord, lord ! — when 'twas a little prating thing, 8-O, there's a nobleman in town, one Paris, that would fain lay knife aboard; but she, good soul, had as lieve see a toad, a very toad, as see him. I anger her sometimes, and tell her that Paris is the properer man; but, I 'N warrant you, when I say so, she looks as pale as any clout in the varsal world. Doth not rosemary and Romeo begin both with a letter ?
So, in Reynolds's God's Revenge against Murder, B. I, Hist. IV: “ – which so spread the sails of his ambition, and boysted his fame from top to top-gallant, that” &c.
The expression is common to many writers; among the rest, to Markham, in bis English Arcadia, 1607:
"_ beholding in the high top-gallant of his valour.”
6 Two may keep counsel, &c.] This proverb, with a slight varia. tion, is introduced in Titus Andronicus. Steevens.
7 I warrant thee;] I, which is not in the quartos or first folio, was supplied by the editor of the second folio. Malone
8 Well, sir; my mistress is the sweetest lady-Lord, lord !--when 'twas a little prating thing, So, in the Poem: “And how she gave her suck in youth, she leaveth not
to tell. “A pretty babe, quoth she, it was, when it was young: “ Lord, how it could full prettily have prated with its
tongue,” &c. This dialogue is not found in Painter's Rhomeo and Julietta.
Malone. 9 Doth not rosemary and Romeo begin both with a letter?] By this question the Nurse means to insinuate that Romeo's image was ever in the mind of Juliet, and that they would be married. Rose. mary being conceived to have the power of strengthening the memory, was an emblem of remembrance, and of the affection of lovers, and (for this reason probably) was worn at weddings. So, in A Handfull of pleasant Delites, &c. 1584:
Rom. Ay, nurse; What of that? both with an R.
Nurse. Ah, mocker! that's the dog's name. R. is for the dog. No; I know it begins with some other letter:1 and she hath the prettiest sententious of it, of you and rosemary, that it would do you good to hear it.
“ Rosemary is for remembrance,
“ You present in my sight.” Again, in our author's Hamlet:
“There's rosemary, that's for remembrance." That rosemary was much used at weddings, appears from many passages in the old plays. So, in The Noble Spanish Soldier, 1634 : "I meet few but are stuck with rosemary; every one ask'd me, who was to be married?” Again, in The Wit of a Woman, 1604: “What is here to do? Wine and cakes, and rosemary, and nosegaies? What, a wedding ?” Malone.
On a former occasion, the author of the preceding note has suspected me of too much refinement. Let the reader judge whether he himself is not equally culpable in the present instance. The Nurse, I believe, is guiltless of so much meaning as is here imputed to her question. Steevens.
1 Nurse. Ah, mocker! that's the dog's name. &c.] It is a little mortifying, that the sense of this odd stuff, when found, should not be worth the pains of retrieving it:
" spissis indigna theatris
“Scripta pudet recitare, et nugis addere pondus." The Nurse is represented as a prating silly creature; she says, she will tell Romeo a good joke about his mistress, and asks him, whether Rosemary and Romeo do not begin both with a letter: He says, Yes, an R She, who, we must suppose, could not read, thought he had mocked her, and says, No, sure, I know better: our dog's name is R. yours begins with another letter. This is natural enough, and in character. R put her in mind of that sound which is made by dogs when they snarl; and therefore, I pre. sume, she says, that is the dog's name, R in schools, being called The dog's letter. Ben Jonson, in his English Grammar, says R is the dog's letter, and hirreth in the sound. “Irritata canis quod R. R. quam plurima dicat.” Lucil.
Warburton. Dr. Warburton reads:-R. is for Thee? Steevens.
I believe we should read-R is for the dog. No; I know it begins with some other letter. Tyrwhitt.
I have adopted this emendation, though Dr. Farmer has since recommended another which should seem equally to deserve attention. He would either omit name or insert letter. The dog's letter, as the same gentleman observes, is pleasantly exemplified in Barclay' Ship of Fools, 1578:
Rom. Commend me to thy lady.
" This man malicious which troubled is with wrath,
“ Save the dogges letter glowming with nar, nar.” Steevens. Erasmus in explaining the adage “canina facundia,' says, “R. literá quæ in rixando prima est, canina vocatur." I think it is used in this sense more than once in Rabelais: and in The Alchemist Subtle says, in making out Abel Drugger's name, “ And right anenst him a dog snarling er." Douce.
Mr. Tyrwhitt's alteration is certainly superior to either Dr. Warburton's (Thee? no;) or one formerly proposed by Dr. Johnson (the nonce) not but the old reading is as good, if not better, when properly regulated; e. g.
Ah mocker! that's the dog's name. R is for the-no; I know it begins with some other letter. Ritson.
This passage is not in the original copy of 1597. The quarto 1599 and folio read-Ah, mocker, that's the dog's name. Malone.
To the notes on this passage perhaps the following illustration may not improperly be added from Nash's Summers last Will and Testament, 1600, of dogs:
“They arre and barke at night against the moone.” Todd. 2 Peter, Take my fan, and go before.] Thus the first quarto. The subsequent ancient copies, instead of these words, have-Before, and apace. Malone.
This custom of having a fan-carrier is also mentioned by Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, edit. 1632, p. 603:
"- doe you heare, good man;
“Now give me pearle, and carry you my fan.” Steevens. 3 should be thoughts, &c.] The speech is thus continued in the quarto, 1597:
should be thoughts,