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neither, than with safety of a pure blush thou may'st in honour come off again.
Ros. What shall be our sport then?
Cel. Let us sit and mock the good housewife, Fortune, from her wheel,8 that her gifts may henceforth be bestowed equally.
Ros. I would, we could do so; for her benefits are mightily misplaced: and the bountiful blind woman doth most mistake in her gifts to women.
Cel. 'Tis true: for those, that she makes fair, she scarce makes honest; and those, that she makes honest, she makes very ill-favour'dly.
Ros. Nay, now thou goest from fortune's office to nature's: fortune reigns in gifts of the world, not in the lineaments of nature.
Enter TOUCHSTONE. Cel. No? When nature hath made a fair creature, may she not by fortune fall into the fire?— Though nature hath given us wit to flout at fortune, hath not fortune sent in this fool to cut off the argument?
Ros. Indeed, there is fortune too hard for nature; when fortune makes nature's natural the cutter off of nature's wit.
Cel. Peradventure, this is not fortune's work neither, but nature's; who perceiving our natural wits too dull to reason of such goddesses, hath sent this natural for our whetstone:9 for always the dulness of the fool is the whetstone of the wits.-How now, wit? whither wander you?
- mock the good housewife, Fortune, froin her wheel,] The wheel of Fortune is not the wheel of a housewife. Shakspeare has confounded Fortune, whose wheel only figures uncertainty and vicissitude, with the destiny that spins the thread of life, though not indeed with a wheel. Johnson.
Shakspeare is very fond of this idea. He has the same in Antony and Cleopatra:
and rail so high, “ That the false housewife, Fortune, break her wheel.”
Steevens. - who perceiving our natural wits too dill to reason of such goddesses, hath sent &c.] The old copy reads—" perceiveth -." Mr. Malone retains the old reading, but adds"and hath sent,” &c. Steevens.
Touch. Mistress, you must come away to your father.
Ros. Where learned you that oath, fool?
Touch. Of a certain knight, that swore by his honour. they were good pancakes, and swore by his honour the mustard was naught: now, I'll stand to it, the pancakes were naught, and the mustard was good; and yet was not the knight forsworn.
Cel. How prove you that, in the great heap of your “knowledge?
Ros. Ay, marry; now unmuzzle your wisdom.
Touch. Stand you both forth now: stroke your chins, and swear by your beards 'that I am a knave. Cel. By our beards, if we had them, thou art.
Touch. By my knavery, if I had it, then I were: but if you swear by that that is not, you are not forsworn: no more was this knight, swearing by his honour, for he never had any; or if he had, he had sworn it away, before ever he saw those pancakes or that mustard.
Cel. Pr’ythee, who is 't that thou mean'st?
1 Touch. One that old Frederick, your father, loves.
Ros. My father's love is enough to honour him.] This reply to the Clown is in all the books placed to Rosalind; but Frederick was not her father, but Celia's: I have therefore ventured to prefix the name of Celia. There is no countenance from any passage in the play, or from the Dramatis Persone, to imagine, that both the Brother-Dukes were '
namesakes; and one called the Old, and the other the Younger-Frederick; and without some such authority, it would make confusion to suppose it. Theobald.
Mr. Theobald seems not to know that the Dramatis Persone were first enumrerated by Rowe. Fohnson.
Frederick is here clearly a mistake, as appears by the answer of Rosalind, to whom Touchstone addresses himself, though the question was put to him by Celia. I suppose some abbreviation was used in the MS. for the name of the rightful, or old duke, as he is called, (perhaps Fer. for Ferdinand] which the transcriber 07 printer converted into Frederick. Fernardyne is one of the persons introduced in the novel on which this comedy is founded. Mr. Theobald solves the difficulty by giving the next speecht. Celia, instead of Rosalind; but there is too much of filial warmt in it for Celia :-besides, why should her father be called oi
Enough! speak no more of him; you 'll be whip'd for taxation, one of these days.
Touch. The more pity, that fools may not speak wisely, what wise men do foolishly.
Cel. By my troth, thou say'st true: for since the little wit, that fools have, was silenced, 3 the little foolery, that wise men have, makes a great show. Here comes Monsieur Le Beau.
Enter LE BEAU. Ros. With his mouth full of news.
Cel. Which he will put on us, as pigeons feed their young
Ros. Then shall we be news-cramm'd.
Cel. All the better; we shall be the more marketable. Bon jour, Monsieur Le Beau: What 's the news?
Le Beau. Fair princess, you have lost much good sport. Cel. Sport? Of what colour?
Le Beau. What colour, madam? How shall I answer you?
Ros. As wit and fortune will.
Frederick? It appears from the last scene of this play that this was the name of the younger brother. Malone.
Mr. Malone's remark may be just; and yet I think the speech which is still left in the mouth of Celia, exhibits as much tenderness for the fool, as respect for her own father. She stops Touchstone, who might otherwise have proceeded to say what she could not hear without inflicting punishment on the speaker. Old is an unmeaning term of familiarity. It is still in use, and has no reference to age. The Duke in Measure for Measure is called by Lucio “the old fantastical Duke,” &c. Steevens.
you'll be whip'd for taxation,] This was the discipline usually inflicted upon fools. Brantome informs us that Legat, fool to Elizabeth of France, having offended her with some indelicate speech, "fut bien fouetté à la cuisine pour ces paroles.". A representation of this ceremony may be seen in a cut prefixed to B. II, ch. c, of the German Petrarch. Douce.
Taxation is censure, or satire. So, in Much Ado about Nothing : “Niece, you tax signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with you.” Again, in the play before us:
- my taxing like a wildgoose flies -" Malone.
since the little wit, that fools have, was silenced,] Shakspeare probably alludes to the use of fools or jesters, who for some ages had been allowed in all courts an unbridled liberty of çensure and mockery, and about this time began to be less tolerated. Folinson.
Touch. Or as the destinies decree.
Le Beau. You amaze me, ladies: 5 I would have told you of good wrestling, which you have lost the sight of.
Ros. Yet tell us the manner of the wrestling.
Le Beau. I will tell you the beginning, and, if it please your ladyships, you may see the end; for the best is yet to do; and here, where you are, they are coming to perform it.
Cel. Well, the beginning, that is dead and buried.
Le Beau. There comes an old man, and his three sons,
Cel. I could match this beginning with an old tale.
Le Beau. Three proper young men, of exceilent growth and presence;
Ros. With bills on their necks, Be it known unto all men by these presents,6
laid on with a trowel.] I suppose the meaning is, that there is too heavy a máss of big words laid upon a slight subject.
Fohnson. This is a proverbial expression, which is generally used to sig. nify a glaring falshood. See Ray's Proverbs. Stecvens.
It means a good round hit, thrown in without judgment or design. Ritson.
To lay on with a trowel, is, to do any thing strongly and with. out delicacy. If a man flatters grossly, it is a common espression to say, that he lays it on with a trowel. M. Mason.
5 You amaze me, ladies:] To amaze, here, is not to astonish or strike with wonder, but to perplex; to confuse, so as to put out of the intended narrative. Fohnson. So, in Cymbeline, Act IV, sc. üï:
"I am amazed with matter.” Steevens. 6 With bills on their necks, Be it known unto all men by t?rese presents,] The ladies and the fool, according to the mode of wit at that time, are a kind of cross purposes. Where the words of one speaker are wrested by another, in a repartee, to a different meaning. As where the Clown says just before-Nay, if I keep not my rank. Rosalind replies-- Thou losest thy old smell. So here when Rosalind had said-With bills on their necks, the Clown to be quits with her, puts in-Know all men by these presents. She spoke of an instrument of war, and he turns it to an instrument of law of the same name, beginning with these words: So that they must be given to him. Warburton.
Le Beau. The eldest of the three wrestled with Charles, the duke's wrestler; which Charles in a moment threw him, and broke three of his ribs, that there is little hope of life in him: so he served the second, and so the third: Yonder they lie; the poor old man, their father, making such pitiful dole over them, that all the beholders take his part with weeping.
Touch. But what is the sport, monsieur, that the ladies have lost?
Le Beau. Why, this that I speak of.
This conjecture is ingenious. Where meaning is so very think, as in this vein of jocularity, it is hard to catch, and therefore I know not well what to determine; but I cannot see why Rosalind should suppose, that the competitors in a wrestling match carried bills on their shoulders, and I believe the whole conceit is in the poor resemblance of presence and presents. Fohnson.
IWith bills on their necks, should be the conclusion of Lc Beau's speech. Mr. Edwards ridicules Dr. Warburton, “ As if people carried such instruments of war, as bills and guns on their necks, not on their shoulders !!” But unluckily the ridicule falls upon himself. Lassels, in his Voyage of Italy, says of tutors, “Some persuade their pupils, that it is fine carrying a gun upon their necks.” But what is still more, the expression is taken immediately from Lodge, who furnished our author with his plot. "Ganimede on a day sitting with Aliena, (the assumed names, as in the play) cast up hier eye, and saw where Rosader came pacing towards them with leis forest-bill on his necke." Farmer.
The quibble may be countenanced by the following passage in TVoman's a Weathercock, 1612:
“Good-morrow, taylor, I abhor bills in a morning
“ But thou may'st watch at night with bill in hand.” Again, in Sidney's Arcadia, B. 1:
with a sword by his side, a forest-bille on his necke,” &c. Again, in Rowley's When you see me you know me, 1621 :
“Enter King, and Compton, with bills on his back." Again, in The Pinner of Wakefield, 1599:
“ And each of you a good bat on his neck." Again:
- are you not big enough to bear “Your bats upon your necks 2" Steevens. I don't think that by bill is meant either an instrument of war, or one of law, but merely a label or advertisement-as we say a play-bill, a hand-bill; unless Farmer's ingenious amendment be admitted, and these words become part of Le Beau's speech; in which case the word bill would be used by him to denote a weapon, and by Rosalind perverted to mean a label. M. Mason