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The cuckoo then, on every tree,
When shepherds pipe on oaien straws,
And merry larks are ploughmen's clocks,
And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
Winter, When icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the Shepherd blows his nail,?
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
Mr. Whalley, the learned editor of Ben Jonson's Works, many years ago proposed to read crocus buds. The cuckoo-flower, he observed, could not be called yellow, it rather approaching to the colour of white, by which epithet, Cowley, who was himself no mean botanist, has distinguished it:
Albaque cardamine, &c. MALONE.
STEEVENS. 6 When icicles hang by the wall, ) i. e. from the eaves of the thatch or other roofing, from which in the morning icicles are fouud depending in great abundance, after 4 night of frost. So, in K. Henry IV:
" Let us not hang like roping icicles,
Upon our houses' thatch."
When blood is nipp’d, and ways be foul,
Our author ( whose images are all taken from nature ) has alluded in The Tempost, to the drops of water that after rain flow from such coverings, in their natural unfrozen ftaie:
“ His tears run down his beard, like winter's drops
" From eves of reeds. MALONE. 7 And Dick the shepherd blows his nail, ] So, in King Henry VI. P. III.
" What time the shepherd, blowing of his nails,
-nightly fings the staring owl,
To-whit, to-whoo the owle does cry." HOLT WHITE.
- doth keel the pot.) This word is yet used in Ireland, and fignifies to scum the pot. GOLDSMITH.
So, in Marston's What you Will, 1607 :---- Faith, Doricus, thy brain boils, keel it, keel it, or all the fat's in the fire.
STEEVENS. To keel the pot is certainly to cool it, but in a particular mavner: it is to stir the pottage with the ladle to prevent the boiling over.
FARMER keel the pot. ] i. e. cool the pot. "The thing is, they mix their thicking of oatmeal and water, which they call blending the litting (or lithing), and put it in the pot, when they set on, because when the meat, pudding and turnips are all in, they cannot so well mix it, but 'tis apt to go into lumps; yet this method of theirs renders the pot liable to boil over at the first rising, and every subsequent increase of the fire; to prevent which it becomes necessary for one to attend to cool it occasionally, by lading it up frequenıly with a ladle, which they call keeling the pot, and is indeed a greasy office." Gent. Mag. 1760. This account seems to be accurate.
Ritson. To keel signifies to cool in general, without any reference to the kitchen. So, in Gower De Confeffione Amantis, lib. v. fol. 121, b:
" The cote he found, and eke he feleth
And coughing drowns the parfon's saw,
And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
Again, fol. 131. b:
" With water on his finger ende
Thyne hote tonge to kele.' Mr. Lambé obleives in his noies on the ancient metrical History of The Battle of Floddon, that it is a common thing in the North ” for a maid servant to take out of a boiling pot a wheen, i. e. a small quantity, viz. a porringer or two of broth, and then to fill up the pot with cold water. The broth thus taken out, is called the keeling wheen. In this manner greasy Joan keeled the pot.
“ Gic me beer, and gie me grots,
the par son's faw, ] Saw seems anciently to have meant, not as at present, a proverb, a sentence, but the whole tenor of any inftrudive discourse. So, in the fourth chapter of the first book of the Tragedies of John Bochas, translated by Lidgate :
“ These old poetes in their fawes swete
STEEVENS. Yet in As you like it, our author uses this word in the sense of a sentence, or maxim : " Dead shepherd, now I find thy saw of might," &c. It is, I believe, so used here. MALONE.
3. When roasted crabs, &c. ) i. e. the wild apples so called. Thus, in The Midsummer-Night's Dream :
". And sometimes lurk I in a gosip's bowl,
" In very likeness of a roasted crab."
" Now a crab in the fire were worth a good groat:
ARM. The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo. You, that way; we, this way.
Again, in Summer's last Will and Testament, 1600 :
Sitting in a corner, turoing crabs,
“ Or coughing o'er a warmed pot of ale. STEEVENS. The bowl must be supposed to be filled with ale; a toast and some spice and sugar being added, what is called Lamb's wool is produced. So, in K. Henry V. 1598 (not our author's play):
• Yet we will have in store a crab in the fire,
" With nut-brown ale, that is full ftale,” &c. MALONE. 4. In this play, which all the editors have concurred to censure, and some have reje&ed as unworthy of our poet, it must be confelsed that there are many passages mean, childish, and vulgar; and some which ought not to have been exhibited, as we are told they were, to a maiden queen. But there are scattered through the whole many sparks of genius; nor is there any play that has more evident marks of the hand of Shakspeare. JOHNSON.
ACÍ I. SCENE 1. Page 191.
This child of fancy, that Armado hight, &c.] This, as I have shown in the note in its place, relates to the stories in the books of chivalry. A few words, therefore, concerning their origin and nature, may not be unacceptable to the reader. As I don't know of any writer, who has given any tolerable account of this matter: and especially as monfieur Huet, the bishop of Avranches, who wrote a formal treatise of the Origin of Romances, has said little or nothing of these in that superficial work. For having brought down the account of Romances to the later Greeks, and entered upon those composed by the barbarous western writers, which have now the name of Romances almoft appropriated to them, he puts the change upon his reader, and instead of giving us an account of these books of chivalry, one of the moft curious and interesting parts of the subje& he promised to treat of, he contents himself with a long account of the poems of the Provincial writers, called likewise romances; and so, under the equivoque of a common term, drops his proper subjeđ, and entertains us with another, that had no relation to it more than in the name.
The Spaniards were of all others the fondest of these fables, as suiting beft their extravagant turn to gallantry and bravery; which in time grew so excessive, as to need all the efficacy of Cervantes's incomparable salire to bring them back to their senses.
suffered an easier cure from their do&or Rabelais, who enough discredited the books of chivalry, by only using the extravagant stories of its giants, &c. as a cover for another kind of fatire against the Tefined politicks of his countrymen; of which they were as much possessed as the Spaniards of their romantick bravery: a bravery our Shakspeare makes their chara&eristic in this description of a Spanish gentleman:
A man of complements, whom right and wrong
From tawny Spain, lost in the world's debate. * The sense of which is to this effe& : This gentleman, says 'the speaker, Jhull relate to us the celebrated Jtories recorded in the old romances, and in their very file. Why he says from tawny Spain, is because these romances, being of the Spanish original, the heroes and the scene were generally of that country. He says, 10ft in the world's debate, because the subje&s of those romances were the crusades of the European Christians againft the Saracens of Asia and Africa.
Indeed, the wars of the Christians against the Pagans were the general subje& of the romances of chivalry. They all seem to have had their ground-work in two fabulous monkish historians: the one, who under the name of Turpin, archbishop of Rheims, wrote the Hiltory and Atchievements of Charlemagne and his Twelve Peers; to whom, instead of his father, they afligned the talk of driving the Saraceus out of France and the south parts of Spain : the other, our Geoffry of Monmouth,
Two of those peers, whom the old romances have rendered most famous, were Oliver and Rowland. Heuce Shakspeare makes Alençon, in the firit part of Henry VI. say; " Froyflard, a countryman of ours, records, England all Olivers and Rowlands bred, during the lime Edward the third did reign.' In the Spanish ro
* From tawny Spain, 3cc.) This passage may, as Dr. Warburton imagines, be in allusion to the Spanish Romances, of which several were extant in English, and very popular at the time this play was written. Such, for instance, as Amadis de Gaule, Don Bellianis, Palmerin d'Oliva, Palmerin of England, the Mirrour of Knighthood, &c. But he is egregiously mistaken in asserting that “The heroes and the scene were “ generally of that country,” which, in fad, (except in an instance or two nothing at all to the present purpose ) is never the case. If the words lost in the world's debate will bear the editor's conftru&ion, there are certainly many books of chivalry on the subjec. cannot, however, think that Shakipeare was particularly converiant in works of this defcription : But, indeed, the alternately rhyming parts, at least, of the prefent play are apparently by an inferior hand; the remains, no doubt, of the old platførın. RITSON.