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A Room in the Countess's Palace.
Enter Countess and Clown. Count. Come on, sir; I shall now put you to the height of your breeding.
Clo. I will show myself highly fed, and lowly taught: I know my business is but to the court.
Count. To the court! why, what place make you spe. cial, when you put off that with such contempt? But to the court!
Clo. Truly, madam, if God have lent a man any man. ners, he may easily put it off at court: he that cannot make a leg, put off 's cap, kiss his hand, and say nothing, has neither leg, hands, lip, nor cap: and indeed such a fellow, to say precisely, were not for the court: but, for me, I have an answer will serve all men.
Count. Marry, that 's a bountiful answer, that fits all questions.
Clo. It is like a barber's chair, that fits all buttocks;2 the pin-buttock, the quatch-buttock, the brawn-buttock, or any buttock.
Count. Will your answer serve fit to all questions?
Clo. As fit as ten groats is for the hand of an attorney, as your French crown for your taffata punk, as Tib's rush for Tom's fore-finger, 3 as a pancake for Shrove
2 It is like a barber's chair, &c.] This expression is proverbial. See Ray's Proverbs, and Burton's Anat. of Melancholy, edit. 1632,
Again, in More Fools Yet, by R. S. a collection of Epigrams, 4to. 1610:
“ Moreover sattin sutes he doth compare
Tib's rush, for Tom's fore-finger,] Tom is the man, and by Tib we are to understand the woman, and therefore, more properly we might read-Tom's rush for, &c. The allusion is to an ancient practice of marrying with a rush ring, as well in other countries as in England. Breval, in his Antiqui. ties of Paris, mentions it as a kind of espousal used in France, by such persons as meant to live together in a state of concubi.
tuesday, a morris for May-day, as the nail to his hole, the cuckold to his horn, as a scolding quean to a wrang
nage: but in England it was scarce ever practised except by designing men, for the purpose of corrupting those young women to whom they pretended love.
Richard Poore, bishop of Salisbury, in bis Constitutions, anni, 1217, forbids the putting of rush rings, or any the like matter, on women's fingers, in order to the debauching them more readily: and he insinuates, as the reason for the prohibition, that there were some people weak enough to believe, that what was thus done in jest, was a real marriage.
But, notwithstanding this censure on it, the practice was not abolished; for it is alluded to in a song in a play written by Sir William D'Avenant, called The Rivals:
“I'll crown thee with a garland of straw then,
" And I'll marry thee with a rush ring." which song, by the way, was first sung by Miss Davis; she acted the part of Celania in the play; and King Charles II, upon hear. ing it, was so pleased with her voice and action, that he took her from the stage, and made her his mistress.
Again, in the song called The Winchester Wedding, in D’Urfey's Pills to purge Melancholy, Vol. I, p. 276:
“ Pert Strephon was kind to Betty,
“ And blithe as a bird in the spring; “ And Tommy was so to Katy,
“ And wedded her with a rush ring.” Sir F. Hawkins. Tib and Tom, in plain English, I believe, stand for wanton rogue. So, in Churchyard's Choise:
“ Tushe, that 's a tove; let Tomkin talke of Tibb." Again, in the Queenes Majesties Entertainment in Suffvik and Nor. folk, &c. by Tho. Churchyard, 4to. no date:
“ And doth not Fove and Mars bear sway? Tush, that is true.”
PHILOSOPHER. “ Then put in Tom and Tibbe, and all beares sway as much
as you.” Steevens. An anonymous writer, Mr. Ritson) with some probability, supposes that this is one of those covert allusions in which Shak. speare frequently, indulges himself. The following lines of Cleiveland on an Hermaphrodite seem to countenance the suppo
Nay, those which modesty can mean,
“That can play both with Tib and Tom.” Sir John Hawkins would read—“as Tom's rush for Tib's forefinger.” But if this were the author's meaning, it would be ne
ling knave, as the nun's lip to the friar's mouth; nay, as the pudding to his skin.
Count. Have you, I say, an answer of such fitness for all questions?
Cio. From below your duke, to beneath your constable, it will fit any question.
Count. It must be an answer of most monstrous size, that must fit all demands.
Clo. But a trifle neither, in good faith, if the learned should speak truth of it: here it is, and all that belongs to 't: Ask me, if I am a courtier; it shall do you no harm to learn.
Count. To be young again, 3 if we could: I will be a fool in question, hoping to be the wiser by your answer. I pray you, sir, are you a courtier?
Clo. O Lord, sir, There's a simple putting off;more, more, a hundred of them.
cessary to alter still farther, and to read--As Tom's rush for Tib's fourth finger. Malone.
At the game of Gleek, the ace was called Tib, and the knave Tom; and this is the proper explanation of the lines cited from Cleiveland. The practice of marrying with a rush ring, men. tioned by Sir John Hawkins, is very questionable, and it might be difficult to find any authority in support of this opinion.
Douce. Sir John Hawkins's alteration is unnecessary: It was the practice, in former times, for the woman to give the man a ring, as well as for the man to give her one. So, in the last scene of Twelfth Night, the priest, giving an account of Olivia's mar. riage, says, it was
so Attested by the holy close of lips,
- M. Mason. I believe what some of us have asserted respecting the exchange of rings in the marriage cereinony, is only true of the marriage contract, in which such a practice undoubtedly prevailed. Steevens.
3 To be young again,] The lady censures her own levity in tri. fling with her jester, as a ridiculous attempt to return back to youth. Johnson
4 O Lord, sir,] A ridicule on that foolish expletive of speech then in vogue at court. Warburton. Thus Clove and Orange, in Every Man out of his Humour :
“ You conceive me, sir ? -O Lord, sir?" Gleiveland, in one of his songs, makes his Gentleman“ Answer, O Lord, sir! and talk play-book oaths.”
Count. Sir, I am a poor friend of yours, that loves you.
Clo. O lord, sir,—Thick, thick, spare not me.
Count. I think, sir, you can eat none of this homely meat.
Clo. O Lord, sir,—Nay, put me to 't, I warrant you.
Count. Do you cry, O Lord, sir, at your whipping, and spare not me? Indeed, your O Lord, sir, is very sequent to your whipping; you would answer very well to a whipping, if you were but bound to 't.
Clo. I ne'er had worse luck in my life, in my O Lord, sir: I see, things may serve long, but not serve ever.
Count. I play the noble housewife with the time, to entertain it so merrily with a fool.
Clo. O Lord, sir, — Why, there 't serves well again.
Count. An end, sir, to your business: Give Helen this, And urge her to a present answer back: Commend me to my kinsmen, and my son; This is not much.
Clo. Not much commendation to them.
Count. Not much employment for you: You understand me?
Clo. Most fruitfully; I am there before my legs.
Enter BERTRAM, LAFEU, and PAROLLES. Laf. They say, miracles are past; and we have our philosophical persons, to make moderns and familiar things, supernatural and causeless. Hence is it, that we make trifles 'of terrors; ensconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge,6 when we should submit ourselves to an unknown fear.?
- modern —] i.e. common, ordinary. Again, in this play, Act V, sc. iji: “ – with her modern grace So, in As you Like it :
“ Full of wise saws and modern instances.” Malone.
ensconcing ourselves into sceming knowledge, – ] To en
Par. Why, 'tis the rarest argument of wonder, that hath shot out in our latter times.
Ber. And so 'tis.
sconce literally signifies to secure as in a fort. So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor : “I will ensconce me behind the arras." Into (a frequent practice with old writers) is used for in. Steevens.
unknown. fear.] Fear is here an object of fear. Johnson. 8 Par. So I say; both of Galen and Paracelsus.
Laf. Of all the learned and authentick fellows,] Shakspeare, as I have often observed, never throws out his words at random. Paracelsus though no better than an ignorant and knavish enthusiast, was at this time in such vogue, even amongst the learned, that he had almost justled Galen and the ancients out of cre. dit. On this account learned is applied to Galen, and authentick or fashionable to Paracelsus. Sancy, in his Confession Catholique, p. 301, Ed. Col. 1720, is made to say: "Je trouve la Riviere premier medecin, de meilleure humeur que ces gens-la. Il est bon Galeniste, & tres bon Paracelsiste. Il dit que la doctrine de Galien est honorable, & non mesprisable pour la pathologie, & profitable pour les boutiques. L'auture, pourveu que ce soit de vrais preceptes de Paracelse, est bonne à suivre pour la verité, pour la subtilité, pour l'espargne; en somme pour la Therapeutique. Warburton.
As the whole merriment of this scene consists in the preten. sions of Parolles to knowledge and sentiments which he has not, I believe here are two passages in which the words and sense are bestowed upon him by the copies, which the author gave to Lafeu. I read this passage thus :
Laf. To be relinquished of the artists
Laf. Both of Galen and Paracelsus, of all the learned and authentick fellows Par. Right, so I say. Johnson.
authentick fellows,] The phrase of the diploma is, authenticè licentiatus. Musgrave.
The epithet authentick was, in our author's time, particularly applied to the learned. So, in Drayton's Owle, 4to. 1604:
“ For which those grave and still authentick sages
Malone. Again, in Troilus and Cressida:
" As truth's authentick author to be cited.” Again, in Chapman's version of the eighth Iliad:
Nestor cut the yeres “ With his new drawne authentique sword ;" Steevens.