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Par. That is not the duke's letter, sir; that is an advertisement to a proper maid in Florence, one Diana, to take heed of the allurement of one count Rousillon, a foolish idle boy, but, for all that, very ruttish: I pray you, sir, put it up again.
1 Sold. Nay, I'll read it first, by your favour.
Par. My meaning in 't, I protest, was very honest in the behalf of the maid: for I knew the young count to be a dangerous and lascivious boy; who is a whale to virginity, and devours up all the fry it finds.
Ber. Damnable, both sides rogue! 1 Sold. When he swears oaths, bid him drop gold, and
take it ; After he scores, he never pays the score: Half won, is match well made; match, and well make it;2
He ne'er pays after debts, take it before;
May we not suppose the former part of the letter to have been prose, as the concluding words are? The sonnet intervenes.
The feigned letter from Olivia to Malvolio, is partly prose, partly verse. Malone.
2 Half awon, is match well made; match, and well make it ;] This line has no meaning that I can find. I read, with a very slight alteration: Half won is match well made; watch, and well make it. That is, a match well made is half won; watch, and make it well.
This is not, in my opinion, all the error. The lines are misplaced, and should be read thus:
Half won is match well made; watch, and well make it;
He ne'er pays after-debts, take it before, That is, take his money, and leave him to himself. When the players had lost the second line, they tried to make a connexion out of the rest. Part is apparently in couplets, and the whole was probably uniform. Johnson. Perhaps we should read :
Half won is match well made, match, an' we'll make it. i. e. if we mean to make any match of it at all. Steevens.
There is no need of change. The meaning is, “ A match well made, is half won; make your match, therefore, but make it well.” M. Mason.
The verses having been designed by Parolles as a caution to Diana, after informing her that Bertram is both rich and faithless, he admonishes her not to yield up her virtue to his oaths, but his gold; and having enforced this advice by an adage, recommends
And say, a soldier, Dian, told thee this,
PAROLLES. Ber. He shall be whipped through the army, with this rhyme in his forehead.
2 Lord. This is your devoted friend, sir, the manifold linguist, and the armipotent soldier.
Ber. I could endure any thing before but a cat, and now he's a cat to me.
her to comply with his importunity, provided half the sum for which she shall stipulate be previously paid her:-Half won is match well made; match, and well make it. Henley.
Gain half of what he offers, and you are well off'; if you yield to him, make your bargain secure. Malone.
3 Men are to mell with, boys are not to kiss:) The meaning of the word mell, from meler, French, is obvious.
So, in Ane very excellent and delectabill Treatise, intitulit PhiLOTUS, &c. 1603:
" But he na husband is to mee;
“ That never had na melling,"
“ Deny the marriage of that man?" Again, in The Corpus Christi Play, acted at Coventry. MSS. Cott. Vesp. VIII, p. 122:
“And fayr yonge qwene herby doth dwelle,
“The way into hyr chawmer ryght evyn he toke." The argument of this piece is The Woman taken in Adultery.
Steevena. Men are to mell with, boys are not to kiss :) Mr. Theobald and the subsequent editors read-boys are but to kiss. I do not see any need of change, nor do I believe that any opposition was intended between the words mell and kiss. Parolles wishes to recommend himself to Diana, and for that purpose advises her to grant her favours to men, and not to boys. He himself calls his letter " An advertisement to Diana to take heed of the allure. ment of one count Rousillon, a foolish idle boy.”
To mell is used by our author's contemporaries in the sense of meddling, without the indecent idea which Mr. Theobald supposed to be couched under the word in this place. So, in Hall's Satires, 1597:
I Sold. I perceive, sir, by the general's looks, we shall be fain to hang you.
Par. My life, sir, in any case; not that I am afraid to die; but that, my offences being many, I would repent out the remainder of nature: let me live, sir, in a dun. geon, i' the stocks, or any where, so I may
live.5 | Sold. We 'll see what may be done, so you confess freely; therefore, once more to this captain Dumain : You have answered to his reputation with the duke, and to his valour: What is his honesty?
Par. He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister;* for rapes
and ravishments he parallels Nessus. He professes not keeping of oaths; in breaking them, he is stronger than Hercules. He will lie, sir, with such volu. bility, that you would think truth were a fool: drunkenness is his best virtue; for he will be swine-drunk; and in his sleep he does little harm, save to his bed-clothes about him; but they know his conditions, and lay him in straw. I have but little more to say, sir, of his honesty: he has every thing that an honest man should not have; what an honest man should have, he has nothing.
1 Lord. I begin to love him for this.
“Hence, ye profane; mell not with holy things." Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. IV, c.i: “With holy father fits not with such things to mell."
Malone. - by the general's looks,] the old copy has-by your. The emendation was made by the editor of the second folio, and the misprint probably arose from ye in the MS. being taken for yr.
Malone. let me live, sir, in a dungeon, i' the stocks, or any where, so I may live.] Smith might have had this abject sentiment of Parolles in his memory, when he put the following words into the mouth of Lycon, in Phædra and Hippolytus :
“O, chain me, whip me, let me be the scorn
Steevens. 6 an egg out of a cloister ;] I know not that cloister, though it may etymologically signify any thing shut, is used by our author otherwise than for a monastery, and therefore I cannot guess whence this hyperbole could take its original: perhaps it means only this-He will steal any thing, however trifling, from any place, however holy. Johnson., Robbing the spital, is a common phrase, of the like import.
Ber. For this description of thine honesty? A pos upon him for me, he is more and more a cat.
i Sold. What say you to his expertness in war?
Par. Faith, sir, he has led the drum before the English tragedians to belie him, I will not,--and more of his soldiership I know not; except, in that country, he had the honour to be the officer at a place there call’d Mileend,7 to instruct for the doubling of files: I would do the man what honour I can, but of this I am not certain.
I Lord. He hath out-villained villainy so far, that the rarity redeems bim.
Ber. A pox on him! he's a cat still. 8
1 Sold. His qualities being at this poor price, I need not ask you, if gold will corrupt him to revolt.
Par, Sir, for a quari d'ecu' he will sell the fee-simple of his salvation, the inheritance of it; and cut the entail from all remainders, and a perpetual succession for it perpetually.
at a place there calld Mile-end,] See a note on K. Henry IV, P. II, Act III, sc. ii. Malone.
he's a cat still.] That is, throw him how you will, he lights upon his legs. Fohnson.
Bertram has no such meaning: In a speech or two before, he declares his aversion to a cat, and now only continues in the same opinion, and says he hates Parolles as much as he hates a cat. The other explanation will not do, as Parolles could not be meant by the cat, which always lights on its legs, for Parolles is now in a fair way to be totally disconcerted. Steevens.
I am still of my former opinion. The speech was applied by King James to Coke, with respect to his subtilties of law, that throw him which way we would, he could still, like a cat, light upon his legs. Fohnson.
The Count had said, that formerly a cat was the only thing in the world which he could not endure; but that now Parolles was as much the object of his aversion as that animal. After Parol. les has gone through his next list of falshoods, the Count adds, “he's more and more a cat," --still more and more the object of iny aversion than he was. As Parolles proceeds still further, one of the Frenchmen observes, that the singularity of his impudence and villainy redeems his character. -Not at all, replies the Count; “he's a cat still;" he is as hateful to me as ever. There cannot, therefore, I think be any doubt that Dr. Johnson's interpretation, “throw him how you will, he lights upon his legs," -is founded on a misapprehension. Malone.
for a quart d'ecu -] The fourth part of the smaller French crown; about eight-pence of English money. Malone.
| Sold. What's his brother, the other captain Dumain?
2 Lord. Why does he ask him of me? 1 | Sold. What's he?
Par. E'en a crow of the same nest; not altogether so great as the first in goodness, but greater a great deal in evil. He excels his brother for a coward, yet his brother is reputed one of the best that is: In a retreat he out-runs any lackey; marry, in coming on he has the cramp.
1 Sold. If your life be saved, will you undertake to betray the Florentine?
Par. Ay, and the captain of his horse, count. Rousillon.
1 Sold. I'll whisper with the general, and know his pleasure.
Par. I'll no more drumming; a plague of all drums! Only to seem to deserve well, and to beguile the suppositionof that lascivious young boy the count, have I run into this danger: Yet, who would have suspected an ambush where I was taken?
[Aside. 1 Sold. There is no remedy, sir, but you must die : the general says, you, that have so traitorously discovered the secrets of your army, and made such pestiferous reports of men very nobly held, can serve the world for no honest use; therefore you must die. Come, headsman, off with his head.
Par. O Lord, sir; let me live, or let me see my death!
1 Sold. That shall you, and take your leave of all your friends.
[Unmuffling him. So, look about you; Know you any here?
Ber. Good morrow, noble captain.
2 Lord. Captain, what greeting will you to my lord Lafeu? I am for France.
1 Why does he ask him of me.?] This is nature. Every man is, on such occasions, more willing to hear his neighbour's character than his own. Johnson.
- to beguile the supposition -] That is, to deceive the opi. nion, to make the Count think me a man that deserves well.