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saucy merchant was this, that was so full of his ropery?
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 flirtgills; I am none of his skains-mates :9—And thou
what saucy merchant was this, &c.] The term mere chant, which was, and even now is, frequently applied to the lowest sort of dealers, seems anciently to have been used on these familiar occasions in contradistinction to gentleman; signifying that the person showed by his behaviour he was a low fellow. So, in Churchyard's Chance, 1580: i' “ What sausie marchaunt speaketh now, saied Venus in
her rage.” . The term chap, i. e. chapman, a word of the same import with merchant in its less respectable sense, is still in common use among the vulgar, as a general denomination for any person of whom they mean to speak with freedom or disrespect.
STEEVENS. See Vol. XIII. p. 63, n. 1. MALONE.
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-tricks are mentioned in another place. STEEVENS.
See Vol. IX. p. 60, n. 3. MALONE.
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 skains-mates 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:
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 vexed, 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 behaviour, as
+ “ 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. 1607. At the opening of the piece Lingua is represented as apparelled in a particular manner, and among other things having “a little skene tied in a purple scarf.” · Green, in his Quip for an Upstart Courtier, describes, “an ill-favoured knave, who wore by his side a skeine like a brewer's bung-knife.” '
Skein is the Irish word for a knife.
" with this frantick and untamed passion, : " To whet their skeins.” Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, B. V. ch. xxvi: “ And hidden skeines from underneath their forged gar
ments drew.” Again, in Chapman's translation of Homer's Hymn to Apollo:
“ Let every man purvey
" A skeane, or slaughtering steel” &c. Mr. M. Mason, however, supposes the Nurse uses skains-mates for kins-mates, and ropery for roguery. STEEVENS. :!--if ye should lead her into a fool's paradise, as they say,] So, in A Handful of pleasant Delightes, containing sundry nero Sonets, &c. 1584:
“ When they see they may her win,
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;2 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.
NURSE. This afternoon, sir? well, she shall be there.
« They prate, and make the matter nice,
“ And leave her in fooles paradise.” MALONE. á? -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 Satire. Steevens. :: Here is for thy pains.] So, in The Tragical Hystory of Romeus and Juliet, 1562:
“ Then he vi crowns of gold out of his pocket drew,
so adieu.” MALONE.
: Rom. And stay, good nurse, behind the abbey.
.. wall : .. Within this hour my man shall be with thee; And bring thee cords made like a tackled stair ; Which to the high top-gallant of my joy 5 Must be my convoy in the secret night. Farewell !-Be trusty, and I'll quit thy pains. Farewell !--Commend me to thy mistress. NURSE. Now God in heaven bless thee !-Hark
you, sir. ROM. What say'st thou, my dear nurse? NURSE. Is your man secret? Did you ne'er hear
say Two 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 lady-Lord, lord !when 'twas a little prating
like a tackled stair ;] Like stairs of rope in the tackle of a ship. Johnson.
A stair, for a flight of stairs, is still the language of Scotland, and was probably once common to both kingdoms. MALONE. s t op-gallant of my joy-] The top-gallant is the highest extremity of the mast of a ship.
So, in Reynolds’s God's Revenge against Murder, B. I. Hist. IV: “ – which so spread the sails of his ambition, and hoysted his fame from top to top-gallant, that” &c. .
The expression is common to many writers; among the rest, to Markham, in his English Arcadia, 1607:
" beholding in the high top-gallant of his valour.” Again, in Eliosto Libidinoso, 1606: " that, vailing top-gallant, she return’d,” &c.
STEEVENS. 6 Two may keep counsel, &c.] This proverb, with a slight variation, has been introduced in Titus Andronicus. STEEVENS. - I warrant thee;7 , which is not in the quartos or first folio, was supplied by the editor of the second folio.
thing, 8—0,-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'll 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 ?
• 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. Rosemary 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 Hand full of pleasant Delites, &c. 1584:
« 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.