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Are these the breed of wits so wonder'd at? Boyet. Tapers they are, with your sweet breaths puff'd out.

Ros. Well-liking wits they have; gross, gross; fat, fat.

Prin. Oh, poverty in wit, kingly-poor flout! 81 Will they not, think you, hang themselves tonight?

Or ever, but in visors, show their faces ? This pert Birón was out of countenance quite. Ros. Oh, they were all in lamentable cases! The king was weeping-ripe for a good word. Prin. Birón did swear himself out of all suit. Mar. Dumain was at my service, and his sword: No point, quoth I; my servant straight was

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Kath. And Longaville was for my service born. Mar. Dumain is mine, as sure as bark on tree. Boyet. Madam, and pretty mistresses, give ear: Immediately they will again be here

In their own shapes; for it can never be
They will digest this harsh indignity.
Prin. Will they return?
Boyet.

They will, they will, Heaven

knows, And leap for joy, though they are lame with blows: Therefore, change favours; and, when they repair, Blow like sweet roses in this summer air.

Prin. How blow? how blow? speak to be understood.

80. Well-liking. Well-conditioned. "Liking" is used elsewhere by Shakespeare in the sense of physical state or condition. See Note 6, Act ii., "Merry Wives."

81. Kingly-poor flout! This has been variously altered by various editors; but the fact that "kingly" stands in the Folio with a capital K makes for the probability of its being the right word. We take "kingly-poor" to mean something equivalent to 'royally rubbishing,' 'famously flat,' 'supremely simple or silly.'

82. No point. A quibble on the point of the sword, and the French negative 'none,' 'not at all,' 'by no means.' See Note 17, Act ii. These and other instances show that a play on a word did not require similar pronunciation; but that similar spelling, or similarity to the eye, sufficed. See Note 18, Act iii.

83. Better wits have worn plain statute-caps. In 1571 there was an Act of Parliament, or a statute, passed, that the commonalty should wear woollen caps, for the benefit of those employed in their manufacture. Other writers of the time, besides Shakespeare, have allusions to this law, and to the lack of wit among those bound to observe it. The nobility, and better educated class, enjoyed immunity; and Rosaline has a fleer at the

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86

Ros. Good madam, if by ine you'll be advis'd, Let's mock them still, as well, known, as disguis'd: Let us complain to them what fools were here, Disguis'd like Muscovites, in shapeless gear; s And wonder what they were, and to what end Their shallow shows and prologue vilely penn'd, And their rough carriage so ridiculous, Should be presented at our tent to us.

Boyet. Ladies, withdraw: the gallants are at hand.

Prin. Whip to our tents, as roes run over land. [Exeunt PRINCESS, ROSALINE, Katharine, and MARIA.

Re-enter the King, BIRON, LONGAVILLE, and
DUMAIN, in their
proper
habits.

King. Fair sir, God save you! Where is the princess?

Boyet. Gone to her tent. Please it your majesty Command me any service to her thither ?

King. That she vouchsafe me audience for one word.

Boyet. I will; and so will she, I know, my lord. [Exit.

Biron. This fellow pecks up wit as pigeons peas,

And utters it again when God doth please:
He is wit's pedler, and retails his wares
At wakes and wassails,88 meetings, markets, fairs;
And we that sell by gross, the lord doth know,
Have not the grace to grace it with such show.
This gallant pins the wenches on his sleeve,—
Had he been Adam, he had tempted Eve:

student king and his lords being less witty than those allowedly ignorant.

84. Angels vailing clouds. Angels causing clouds to sink down from before them.' Shakespeare uses "vail" for lower, sink down (see Note 1, Act v., "Measure for Measure"); and "clouds" have been figuratively employed before, for masks, in this scene. See Note 75, Act v.

85. Avaunt, perplexity! The Princess exclaims, 'Away with perplexity!' or 'Let us have done with perplexity!' in rebuke of Boyet's perseveringly flowery speeches; as she has before bid him "speak to be understood."

86. In shapeless gear. Alluding to the long straight gowns worn in Muscovite costume. It seems that a mask of Russians was no uncommon recreation in the time of Shakespeare; and in the account of one that was given in the first year of Henry VIII.'s reign, there is mention made of the "long gowns of yellow satin traversed with white satin, and in every bend of white was a bend of crimson satin," &c., worn by the maskers.

87. Utters. Used punningly here in its sense of pronounces, speaks; and in its sense of vends, sells. See Note 3, Act ii. 88. Wakes and wassails. A "wake" was a night-festival

He can carve too, and lisp: why, this is he
That kiss'd his hand away in courtesy:
This is the ape of form, monsieur the nice,
That, when he plays at tables," chides the dice
In honourable terms: nay, he can sing
A mean most meanly ;" and in ushering,"
Mend him who can: the ladies call him sweet;
The stairs, as he treads on them, kiss his feet:
This is the flower that smiles on every one,
To show his teeth as white as whalés bone: 93
And consciences, that will not die in debt,
Pay him the due of honey-tongu'd Boyet.

As the unsullied lily, I protest, A world of torments though I should endure, I would not yield to be your house's guest; So much I hate a breaking cause to be Of heavenly oaths, vow'd with integrity. King. Oh, you have liv'd in desolation here, Unseen, unvisited, much to our shame. Prin. Not so, my lord; it is not so, I swear; We have had pastimes here and pleasant game: A mess of Russians 95 left us but of late. King. How, madam! Russians! Prin.

Ay, in truth, my lord

King. A blister on his sweet tongue, with my Trim gallants, full of courtship and of state. heart,

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97

Ros. Madam, speak true.—It is not so, my lord. My lady,—to the manner of the days, 96— In courtesy, gives undeserving praise. We four, indeed, confronted were with four In Russian habit: here they stay'd an hour, And talk'd apace; and in that hour, my lord, They did not bless us with one happy word. I dare not call them fools; but this I think, When they are thirsty, fools would fain have drink. Biron. This jest is dry to me."-Fair, gentle

sweet,

Your wit makes wise things foolish: when we greet,
With eyes best seeing, heaven's fiery eye,
By light we lose light: your capacity
Is of that nature, that to your huge store
Wise things seem foolish, and rich things but poor.
Ros. This proves you wise and rich; for in my
eye,-

Biron. I am a fool, and full of poverty.
Ros. But that you take what doth to you belong,
It were a fault to snatch words from my tongue.
Biron. Oh, I am yours, and all that I possess !
Ros. All the fool mine?
Biron.
I cannot give you less.
Ros. Which of the visors was it that you wore ?
Biron. Where? when? what visor? why demand
you this?

and a "wassail," a drinking bout or merry-making. The word "wassail" or wassel, was originally derived from the Saxon Waes hael, 'be in health;' and as it was subsequently a village custom to carry round a wassail bowl from house to house, the word "wassail' came to be used for festive excess and festivity.

89. Carve. This act - both in its usual sense of dividing and dispensing food at table, and in its sense of a peculiar sign made with the little finger-was a distinguishing accomplishment with persons of gallantry, and courtiers of Boyet's stamp. See Note 43, Act i., "Merry Wives."

90. Tables. 'backgammon.'

The old name for the game now known as

91. A mean most meanly. "Mean" was the term for the tenor part in music; from its lying in the medium portion of the scale. Biron puns in this phrase; as if he had said-'He can sing a middle part very middlingly.'

92. Ushering. This duty involved many services of extreme deference and devotion; though the post of gentleman-usher was held by men in the households of ladies greatly inferior in rank to princesses. To stand bare-headed in their lady's pre

sence, to run hither and thither on her most trivial errands of ceremony, to dance attendance on her minutest whims, were among the offices expected of these gentry; and old books edifyingly describe a class, of whom Boyet stands forth as superexquisite type.

93. White as whales bone. The tooth of the horse whalemorse, or walrus-often furnished the elder poets with comparisons of whiteness, as ivory supplies the like similes now-a-days.

94. All hail. Punned upon in the sense of a term of salutation (All health to you!' Saxon, hael, health); and in the sense of nothing but hailstones.

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95. A mess of Russians. A company of our Russians. See Note 98, Act iv. A "mess was used for four, as 'pair,' 'brace,' or 'couple,' is used for two; and 'leash' for three.

6. To the manner of the days. An ellipsis for 'according to the manner of the day, or present time.' 97. Undeserving. Undeserved.

98. This jest is dry to me. "Dry" is here punningly used in the sense of sapless, wanting in vital juice, spiritless; and in the sense of hard, severe. See Note 79, Act v.

Ros. There, then, that visor; that superfluous For the Lord's tokens 105 on you do I see.

case

That hid the worse, and show'd the better face. King. We are descried; they'll mock us now downright.

Dum. Let us confess, and turn it to a jest. Prin. Amaz'd, my lord? why looks your high. ness sad?

Ros.

Help, hold his brows! he'll swoon !—Why look you pale?—

Sea-sick, I think, coming from Muscovy.

Biron. Thus pour the stars down plagues for perjury.

Can any face of brass hold longer out?→ Here stand 1, lady: dart thy skill at me;

Bruise me with scorn, confound me with a flout; Thrust thy sharp wit quite through my ignorance; Cut me to pieces with thy keen conceit; And I will wish thee never more to dance, Nor never more in Russian habit wait. Oh, never will I trust to speeches penn'd,

Nor to the motion of a schoolboy's tongue; Nor never come in visor to my friend,99

Nor woo in rhyme, like a blind harper's song Taffeta phrases, silken terms precise,

Three-pil'd hyperboles, 100 spruce affectation, Figures pedantical ;-these summer-flies

Have blown me full of maggot ostentation; I do forswear them; and I here protest,

By this white glove-how white the hand, Heav'n knows!

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99 Friend. Used in Shakespeare's time for lover or mistress. 100. Three-pil'd hyperboles. Exaggerated expressions, finer than the finest velvet.' See Note 22, Act i., "Measure for Measure."

101. Russet yeas, and honest kersey noes. "Russet" was often used to express a plain rustic dress; from the custom that prevailed among country folk of dyeing homespun clothes with the bark of trees, which made them russet-coloured or brown. 44 Kersey" is a coarse stuff.

102. Sans. The affectation of using this French word for 'without,' Rosaline especially reproves, since Biron has said that he will abjure finical phrases, and use none but the most simple. See Note 51, Act iv., "Comedy of Errors."

103. Yet I have a trick of the old rage. I have still a touch of the former malady.'

104. "Lord, have mercy on us." These words were written

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Prin. I will: and therefore keep it.-Rosaline, What did the Russian whisper in your ear?

Ros. Madam, he swore that he did hold me dear As precious eyesight, and did value me Above this world; adding thereto, moreover, That he would wed me, or else die my lover. Prin. God give thee joy of him! the noble lord Most honourably doth uphold his word.

King. What mean you, madam ? by my life, my troth,

I never swore this lady such an oath.

Ros. By Heaven, you did; and to confirm it plain,

over the doors of those houses where persons ill of the plague lay.

105. The Lord's tokens. The name given to the discoloured spots which were the first "tokens" or symptoms of being plague-stricken.

106. Stand forfeit, being those that sue? She asks, 'How can those be subject to forfeiture who bring the action?' playing on the word "sue;" which signifies to prosecute by law, and to petition, or act as a suitor or wooer.

107. Were you well advis'd? 'Did you bethink you well?' 'Did you act with forethought and precaution? Shakespeare uses "advice" and "advised" in this sense. 108. Force. Used in the sense of 'lay stress upon,'' care for ;' an ancient employment of the word. "You force not to for'You care not for the sin of forswearing your

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swear

means,

selves.'

You gave me this: but take it, sir, again.

King. My faith and this the princess I did give : I knew her by this jewel on her sleeve.

Prin. Pardon me, sir, this jewel did she wear; And Lord Birón, I thank him, is my dear.— What, will you have me, or your pearl again?

Biron. Neither of either; I remit both twain.— I see the trick on't:-here was a consent,109 Knowing aforehand of our merriment, To dash it like a Christmas comedy:

Some carry-tale, some please-man, some slight zany, 110

Some mumble-news, some trencher-knight, some Dick,"

That smiles his cheek in years,112 and knows the trick

113.

To make my lady laugh when she's dispos'd,113—_—_—_
Told our intents before; which once disclos'd,
The ladies did change favours; and then we,
Following the signs, woo'd but the sign of she.114
Now, to our perjury to add more terror,
We are again forsworn,—in will and error.115
Much upon this it is :-[To BOYET] and might not
you

Forestall our sport, to make us thus untrue?
Do not you know my lady's foot by the squire,"
And laugh upon the apple of her eye ?117
And stand between her back, sir, and the fire
Holding a trencher, jesting merrily?
You put our page out: go, you are allow'd ;118
Die when you will, a smock shall be your shroud.
You leer upon me, do you? there's an eye
Wounds like a leaden sword.

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109.

A consent. A conspired agreement.

110. Zany. A Merry-Andrew, a buffoon. From the Italian, zane, an abbreviation of Giovanni, John. This gives the connecting link whereby "Jack" came to be used as a term of contempt and opprobrium.

111. Dick. Seems to have been a name for a despicable and troublesome fellow.

112. Smiles his cheek in years. Those who know how perpetual smiling, as well as sorrow, brings lines and crowsfeet into the face, will perceive the aptitude of this sentence, though some of the commentators have checked at it. "In" was often used for 'into.'

113. Dispos'd. Used for 'disposed to be merry,' ' mirthfully inclined,' 'in a gay humour.' See Note 26, Act ii. 114. She. Shakespeare sometimes uses this word substantively; to express a woman. Here (chiefly for the sake of rhyme) he employs it to signify the particular lady each of us loved.'

115. Forsworn,-in will and error. Forsworn,-first wilfully, afterwards by mistake.'

116. Know my lady's foot by the squire. Equivalent to the vulgar phrase, 'He has the length of her foot,' that is, 'knows her

Cost. O Lord, sir, they would know Whether the three Worthies shall come in or

no.

Biron. What, are there but three ?
Cost.

No, sir; but it is vara fine,

For every one pursents 120 three. Biron.

And three times thrice is nine.

Cost. Not so, sir; under correction, sir; I hope it is not so.

You cannot beg us, sir, I can assure you, sir ; we know what we know:

I hope, sir, three times thrice, sir,—
Biron. Is not nine.

Cost. Under correction, sir, we know whereuntil it doth amount.

Biron. By Jove, I always took three threes for nine.

Cost. O Lord, sir, it were pity you should get your living by reckoning, sir.

Biron. How much is it?

Cost. O Lord, sir, the parties themselves, the actors, sir, will show whereuntil it doth amount: for mine own part, I am, as they say, but to parfect one man in one poor man,122-Pompion the Great, sir.

Biron.

Art thou one of the Worthies?

Cost. It pleased them to think me worthy of Pompion the Great: for mine own part, I know not the degree of the Worthy; but I am to stand for him.

Biron. Go, bid them prepare.

Cost. We will turn it finely off, sir; we will take [Exit.

some care,

King. Biron, they will shame us: let them not

approach.

Biron. We are shame-proof, my lord: and 'tis some policy

To have one show worse than the king's and his

company.

King. I say they shall not come.

humour exactly." "Squire" is from the French esquierre, a square or rule.

117. Laugh upon the apple of her eye? 'Laugh in accordance with her directing glance;' 'Laugh with her at her favourite subjects of mirth.' This and the two following lines refer to some of the services expected of a gentleman-usher. See Note 92, Act v.

118. You are allow'd. 'You are privileged,' 'you have a license for jesting, in virtue of your office.'

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119. Manage, this career. Terms of the tilt-yard. “Manage” meant the controlment or government of a horse; career," the meeting in encounter at full gallop.

120. Pursents. For 'presents,' which meant 'enacts,' 'represents.'

121. You cannot beg us. Alluding to a custom of asking for the property and wardship of one who was proved a lunatic or an idiot; which was called being 'begged for a fool.' One of the legal tests of lunacy was requiring an answer to an arithmetical question.

122. But to parfect one man in one poor man. 'I am but to represent one Worthy in one poor person;' meaning himself.

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