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With them, upon her knees, her humble self;
Val. No more; unless the next word that thou speak'st
Pro. Cease to lament for that thou canst not help, And study help for that which thou lament’st. Time is the nurse and breeder of all good. Here if thou stay, thou canst not see thy love; Besides, thy staying will abridge thy life. Hope is a lover's staff; walk hence with that, And manage it against despairing thoughts. Thy letters
may be here, though thou art hence; Which, being writ to me, shall be deliver'd Even in the milk-white bosom of thy love.?
7 Even in the milk-white bosom of thy love.] So, in Hamlet:
“ These to her excellent white bosom,” &c. Again, in Gascoigne's Adventures of Master F. 1. first edit. p. 206: «
at deliuerie thereof, [i. e. of a letter] she understode not for what cause he thrust the same into her bosome.”
Trifling as the remark may appear, before the meaning of this address of letters to the bosom of a mistress can be understood, it should be known, that women anciently had a pocket in the fore part of their stays, in which they not only carried love-letters and love tokens, but even their money and materials for needle work. 'Thus Chaucer, in his Marchantes Tale:
“ This purse hath she in hire bosonie hid.” In many parts of England the rustic damsels still observe the same practice; and a very old lady informs me, that she remembers, when it was the fashion to wear prominent stays, it was no less the custom, for stratagem and gallantry, to drop its literary favours within the front of them. Steevens. See Lord Surrey's Sonnets, 1557.
“My song, thou shalt attain to find the pleasant place,
The time now serves not to expostulate:
Val. I pray thee, Launce, an if thou seest my boy, Bid him make haste, and meet me at the north-gate.
Pro. Go, sirrah, find him out. Come, Valentine. Val. O my dear Silvia! hapless Valentine.
[Exeunt VAL. and Pro. Laun. I am but a fool, look you; and yet I have the wit to think, my master is a kind of knave: but that 's all one, if he be but one knave.8 He lives not now, that
“ When she hath read, and seen the grief wherein I serve,
serve." Malone. 8 Laun. I am but a fool, look you; and yet I have the wit to think, my master is a kind of knave: but that's all one, if he be but one KNAVE.] Where is the sense, or, if you won't allow the speaker that, where is the humour, of this speech ? Nothing had given the fool occasion to suspect that his master was become double, like Antipholis in The Comedy of Errors. The last word is corrupt. We should read:
if he be but one KIND. He thought his master was a kind of knave; however, he keeps himself in countenance with this reflection, that if he was a knave but of one kind, he might pass well enough amongst his neighbours. This is truly humorous. Warburton.
This alteration is acute and specious, yet I know not whether, in Shakspeare's language, one knave may not signify a knave on only one occasion, a single knave. We still use a double villain for a villain beyond the common rate of guilt. Johnson.
This passage has been altered, with little difference, by Dr. Warburton and Sir T. Hanmer.-Mr. Edwards explains it,“ if he only be a knave, if I myself be not found to be another.” I agree with Dr. Johnson, and will support the old reading and his interpretation with indisputable authority. In the old play of Damon and Pythias, Aristippus declares of Carisophus: “ You lose money by him if you sell him for one knave, for he serves for twayne."
This phraseology is often met with: Arragon says, in The Merchant of Venice:
“ With one fool's head I came to woo,
“ But I go away with two." Donne begins one of his sonnets :
“ I am two fools, I know,
knows me to be in love: yet I am in love; but a team of horse shall not plucko that from me; nor who ’tis I love, and yet 'tis a woman: but that woman, I will not tell myself; and yet ’tis a milk-maid: yet tis not a maid, for she hath had gossips :1 yet ’tis a maid, for she is her master's maid, and serves for wages. She hath more qualities than a water-spaniel,—which is much in a bare christian.2 Here is the cat-log [Pulling out a paper) of her conditions.3 Imprimis, She can fetch and carry. Why, a horse can do no more; nay, a horse cannot fetch, but only carry; therefore, is she better than a jade. Item, She can milk ; look you, a sweet virtue in a maid with clean hands.
Enter SPEED. Speed. How now, signior Launce? what news with your mastership?
Laun. With my master's ship?4 why, it is at sea.
And when Panurge cheats St. Nicholas of the chapel, which he vowed to him in a storm, Rabelais calls him “a rogue-a rogue and an half--Le gallant, gallant et demy." Farmer. Again, in Like Will to Like, quoth the Devil to the Collier, 1587:
« Thus thou may'st be called a knave in graine,
Steevens. a team of horse shall not pluck - ] I see how Valentine suffers for telling his love-secrets; therefore, I will keep mine close. Johnson.
Perhaps Launce was not intended to shew so much sense; but here indulges himself in talking contradictory nonsense. Steevens.
- for she hath had gossips :] Gossips not only signify those, who answer for a child in baptism, but the tattling women, who attend lyings-in. The quibble between these is evident. Steevens.
2 — a bare christian.] Launce is quibbling on. Bare has two senses: mere and naked. In Coriolanus it is used in the first:
6 'Tis but a bare petition of the state.” Launce uses it in both, and opposes the naked female to the water-spaniel, cover'd with hairs of remarkable thickness. Steevens.
her conditions.] i. e. qualities. The old copy has condition. Corrected by Mr. Rowe. Malone. 4 With my master's ship?] In former editions it is
With my mastership? why, it is at sea. For how does Launce mistake the word ? Speed asks him about his mastership, and he replies to it literatim. But then how was his mastership at sea, and on shore too? The addition of a letter
Speed. Well, your old vice still; mistake the word: What news then in your paper?
Laun. The blackest news that ever thou heard'st.
Laun. O illiterate loiterer! it was the son of thy grandmnother: this proves, that thou canst not read.
Speed. Come, fool, come: try me in thy paper.
and a note of apostrophe, makes Launce both mistake the word, and sets the pun right: it restores, indeed, but a mean joke; but, without it, there is no sense in the passage. Besides, it is in character with the rest of the scene; and, I dare be confident, the poet's own conceit.
Theobald. saint Nicholas be thy speed!] St. Nicholas presided over scholars, who were therefore called St. Nicholas's clerks. Hence, by a quibble between Nicholas and Old Nick, highwaymen, in The First Part of Henry the Fourth, are called Nicholas's clerks.
Warburton. That this saint presided over young scholars, may be gathered from Knight's Life of Dean Colet, p. 362; for, by the statutes of Paul's school there inserted, the children are required to attend divine service at the cathedral on his anniversary; the reason I take to be, that the legend of this saint makes him to have been a bishop, while he was a boy. Sir 7. Hawkins.
So, Puttenham, in his Art of Poetry, 1589: “Methinks this fel. low speaks like bishop Nicholas ; for on Saint Nicholas's night, commonly the scholars of the country make them a bishop, who, like a foolish boy, goeth about blessing and preaching, with such childish terms, as maketh the people laugh at his foolish counter. feit speeches.” Steevens. 6 Speed. Imprimis, She can milk.
Laun. Ay, that she can.) These two speeches should evidently be omitted. There is not only no attempt at humour in them, contrary to all the rest in the same dialogue, but Launce clearly directs Speed to go on with the paper, where he himself left off. See his preceding soliloquy. Farmer.
Laun. And thereof comes the proverb,—Blessing of your heart, you brew good ale.
Speed. Item, She can sew.
Laun. What need a man care for a stock with a wench, when she can
him a stock. 8 Speed. Item, She can wush and scour. Laun. A special virtue; for then she need not be washed and scoured.
Speed. Item, She can spin.
Laun. Then may I set the world on wheels, when she can spin for her living.
Speed. Item, She hath many nameless virtues.
Laun. That's as much as to say, bastard virtues; that, indeed, know not their fathers, and therefore have no
Speed. Here follow her vices.
Speed. Item, She is not to be kissed fasting, in respect of her breath.
Laun. Well, that fault may be mended with a breakfast: Read on.
Speed. Item, She hath a sweet mouth.1
Blessing of your heart, &c.] So, in Ben Jonson's Masque of Augurs:
“ Our ale 's o' the best,
“ Prays for their souls that brew it.” Steevens.
knit him a stock.) i. e. stocking. So, in Twelfth Night: it does indifferent well in a flame-colour'd stock." Steevens.
she is not to be kissed fasting,] The old copy reads-she is not to be fasting, &c. The necessary word-kissed, was first added by Mr. Rowe. Steevens.
sweet mouth.] This I take to be the same with what is now vulgarly called a sweet tooth, a luxurious desire of dainties and sweetmeats. Johnson.
So, in Thomas Paynell's translation of Ulrich Hutten's Book, De Medicina Guaiaci & Morbo Gallico, 1539: “ - delycates and deynties, wherewith they may stere up their sweete mouthes and prouoke theyr appetites."
Yet, how a luxurious desire of dainties can make amends for of. fensive breath, I know not. A sweet mouth may, however, mean a likerish mouth, in a wanton sense.