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concerning my subscription. I shall be very proud of the encouragement of any friends, that think fit, when I am published. You may be sure I should be very glad, for many reasons, it were quite out of my hands; and I have some too, why I am not willing to precipitate. I have obtained the honour of His Royal Highness's name now lately : and my Lady Delawarr has befriended me with such a list of Quality as were well worth waiting for. I know you will not be displeased, if I should tell you in your ear, perhaps I may venture to join the Text to my Remarks. But of that more a little time hence.

Now to a little business en passant. Iam mightily struck with the happiness of your guess about OLD FEAST Antients, and hope much it will stand of authority.—As to Agamemnon and his quails, you imagine, you say, it may be a contraction of quarrels, or a corruption from squalls. I own I have conceived a different notion of the Poet's phrase, which I shall venture to submit to you. Thersites, you know, is all through the Play as scurrilous and scandalous in his observations upon the Greeks as one could wish. He abuses Menelaus for a stupid cuckold ; and with the same freedom, I suspect, he means, by saying the brother is a great lover of quails, that he is a notable whoremaster, or, as we have it in another vulgar idiom, a mutton-monger.

Apropòs, in the Two Gentlemen of Verona (the Play upon which I am next to advance my queries), in that ridiculous scene betwixt Proteus and Speed, we meet with this expression :

Ay, Sir; I, a lost mutton, gave your Letter to her, a Lac'D mutton. Cotgrave, who has given us, I think, the best antique French Dictionary, explains the laced mutton by, une garse, putain, fille de joye; so that mutton has been a metaphor of old standing for that game. But what as to quails? The facetious Rabelais, in

the

a woman.

the

the Prologue to the 4th book, when speaking of Cailles coiphées mignonnement chantans, “coifed quails singing wantonly ;” Motteux, 1 find, has translated this, “coated quails and laced mutton waggishly singing.” Again, honest Cotgrave expounds cuille coiffée,

Here is a little authority for my suspicion of Shakespeare's meaning; and I can throw in one testimony froin a contemporary Poet with him, by whom quail is metaphorically used for a girl of

game. Ford, in bis Love's Sacrifice, brings in a debauchée thus muttering against a superannuated mistress : “ By this light, I have toiled more with this carrion HEN, than with ten QUAILS, scarce grown into their first feathers."

Sed quid plura? I must rest it here, as the men at Bar say; and, if the cause want further proof, I must e'en submit to the nunsuit. But, to fill up the measure of my present epistle, as you urge me to the liberty of objecting, I will call out an old point already canvassed, but in which we have on neither side as yet agreed.

I troubled you, you may remember, with my queries and solutions of this passage in King John:

Knight, knight, good mother, Basilisco like

Why I am dubb'd. You

gave me, it is true, a most ingenious explication ; which, I think, I informed you before, I thought most elegant, but plus recherchée. You replied, I remember, “you stood by your explication.” And now give me leave to rejoin, that I suspect we have been both deceived in our notions. I begin once more to fancy, that by chance, as Dryden says, Güçnxa, the mighty secret's found.

In the first place then the passage must be pointed and distinguished, as the first folio edition in some measure leads the way:

Knight, koi bt, good mother, Basilisco like.
W'bal! I ain dubb'd;

Whether

Whether our late Editor had any conceit of one being dubbed Basilisco-like, or whether he had any understanding of this passage, I do not pretend to determine: but I think I may venture to say, he did not understand it, unless he knew the following piece of Stage-history; to the knowledge of which I presume that he will have the modesty to plead, Not guilty. The truth is, the Bastard's words carry a concealed piece of satire on an old drama that made its appearance in those times, and was printed in 1599, called “ Soliman and Perseda.” In this piece there is the character of a bragging cowardly knight, called Basilisco. Now his character of assuined valour is so blown and seen through, that Piston, a Buffoonservant in the Play, jumps upon his back, and will not disengage him, till he makes Basilisco swear upon his dudgeon dagger, to the contents, and in the terms he dictates to him.

As you scarce have this Old Play, it is necessary to give you a bit of quotation.

Bas. O I swear, I swear,
Pist. By the contents of this blade,
Bas. By the contents of this blade,
Pist. I the aforesaid Basilisco,
Bas. I the aforesaid Basilisco,

Knight, good fellow, knight, knightPist. Knave, good fellow, knave, knave. Now it seems clear to me that our Poet, sneering at this Play, makes the Bastard, when Lady Falconbridge calls him knave, throw off that reproach, by humourously laying claim to his new dignity of kuighthood; as Basilisco proudly insists on his title of knight in the passage above quoted.

The Play is an extremely ridiculous one; and I suppose exploded with a vengeance in the representation, which might make this circumstance so well known, as to become the object of a stage-sarcasm.

And now, Sir, you have my information-et sub judice lis est,

I agree

I agree with you, Cymbeline is a most corrupt Play; and I have a great number of corrections upon it: you say, you have 30 stable ones in store. I wish earnestly I could be favoured with them, if possible, by next post ; which would in no kind break in on my measures, if it does not intrude on your conveniency. You bring back to my mind the time of a love-correspondence; and the expectation of every fresh Letter from you is the joy of a mistress to me. But when I am growing wanton it is time I should break off abruptly, though not without confessing myself, as I ought, dear Sir, Your most affectionate and obliged humble servant,

Lew. THEOBALD. P.S. Am I deceived, or may I hint, that I think the hand-writing is widened in your last ?

LETTER XIII.

To the Rev. Mr. WARBURTON.

Dear Sir, Wyan's Court, Nov. 11, 1729. According to promise in my last, I am now preparing to return into order, which will bring me to my inquirenda upon The Two Gentlemen of Verona. As this Play neither furnishes' a number of doubts, nor of corrections, if both together do not fill up my sheet, I will beg leave to keep on with part of the Merry Wives.

P. 142. The Degradation.

Can Mr. Pope pretend, notwithstanding what he says in his Preface, that this degradation is not a chasm in the context, however poor the matter?

Ibid. Nay, give me not the boots. If we may believe Cotgrave, this phrase is equivalent to-don't sell me a bargain. Bailler foin en corne ; to give one the boots; to sell him a bargain.

P. 144.

VOL. II.

S

P. 144. Indeed a sheep doth often stray.

Where is Mr. Pope's ear for an hexameter, or his diligence in collating? Both the old Folios read:

Indeed a sheep doth very often stray. P. 148. The mean is drown'd with your unruly base,

Luc. Indeed, I bid the base for Proteus. Can bid the base be either true in sense, or in language? Base in the first line, it is plain, is an antithesis to mean, both musical terms; but as Julietta is sharp with her .... she, I think, turns the base in the second line to another sense ; viz. that she, indeed, for Proteus' sake endures base, scurvy usage. I fancy, therefore, we should read:

Indeed, I bide the base for Proteus. As in Love's Labour Lost, p. 226 :

And bide the penance of each three years day. P. 150. Put forth their sons to seek preferment out.

I have not forgot here to insert your ingenious hint concerning voyages at that time being in vogue for the discovery of the West Indies, &c. But can you forgive me if this term, put forth, should for a while carry me out of my latitude? It drives me with a full wind back upon this passage in the Tempest, p. 49:

Each putter-out of five for one. You have formerly favoured me with your conjectures upon this place; but, as I have since a little improved my discoveries, if you will excuse the digression, I will copy the note that I have designed there by way of explanation :

[Each putter-out of five, &c. I freely confess I always understood this passage thus ; that every five travellers (or putters-out) did bring authentick confirmation of these strange stories, for one that pretended to dispute the truth of them. But two learned and ingenious Friends (to whom already in my prolegomena I have made general acknowledg. ments) have since better instructed me : therefore I with pleasure retract my comment. Upon communi

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