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Enter CoRin and TouchSTONE. Cor. And how like you this shepherd's life, master Touchstone?
Touch. Truly, shepherd, in respect of itself, it is a good life; but in respect that it is a shepherd's life, it is naught. In respect that it is solitary, I like it very well; but in respect that it is private, it is a very vile life. Now in respect it is in the fields, it pleaseth me well; but in respect it is not in the court, it is tedious. As it is a spare life, look you, it fits my humour well; but as there is no more plenty in it, it goes much against my stomach. Hast any philosophy in thee, shepherd?
Cor. No more, but that I know, the more one sickens, the worse at ease he is; and that he that wants money, means, and content, is without three good friends:
- That the property of rain is to wet, and fire to burn; That good pasture makes fat sheep; and that a great cause of the night, is lack of the sun: That he, that hath learned no wit by nature nor art, may complain of good breeding, or comes of a very dull kindred.2
Touch. Such a one is a natural philosopher. 3 Wast ever in court, shepherd ?
he, that hath learned no wit by nature nor art, may complain of good breeding, or comes of a very dull kindred.] I am in doubt whether the custom of the language in Shakspeare's time did not authorise this mode of speech, and make complain of good bree:ling the same with complain of the want of good breeding. In the last line of The Merchant of Venice we find that to fear the keeping is to fear the not keeping. Fohnson.
I think he means rather miry complain of a good education, for being so inefficient, of so little use to him. Malone.
3 Such a one is a natural philosopher.] The shepherd had said all the philosophy he knew was the property of things, that rain wetted, fire burnt, &c. And the Clown's reply, as a satire on phy. sicks or natural philosophy, though introduced with a quibble, is extremely just. For the natural philosopher is indeed as ignorant (notwithstanding all his parade of knowledge) of the efficient cause of things, as the rustic. It appears, from a thousand instances, that our poet was well acquainted with the physicks of his time; and his great penetration enabled him to see this remediless defect of it. Warburton.
Shakspeare is responsible for the quibble only, let the commentator answer for the refinement. Steevens.
Cor. No, truly.
Touch. Truly, thou art damn'd; like an ill-roasted egg, all on one side. Cor. For not being at court? Your reason.
Touch. Why, if thou never wast at court, thou never saw'st good manners; if thou never saw'st good manners, then thy manners must be wicked; and wickedness is sin, and sin is damnation: Thou art in a parlous state, shepherd.
Cor. Not a whit, Touchstone: those, that are good manners at the court, are as ridiculous in the country, as the behaviour of the country is most mockable at the court. You told me, you salute not at the court, but you kiss your hands; that courtesy would be uncleanly, if courtiers were shepherds.
Touch. Instance, briefly; come, instance..
Cor. Why, we are still handling our ewes; and their fells, you know, are greasy.
Touch. Why, do not your courtier's hands sweat? and
The Clown calls Corin a natural philosopher, because he reasons from his observations on nature. M. Mason.
A natural being a common term for a fool, Touchstone, per, haps, means to quibble on the word. He may however only mean, that Corin is a self-taught philosopher; the disciple of nature. Malone.
like an ill-roasted egg,] Of this jest I do not fully comprehend the meaning. Johnson.
There is a proverb, that a fool is the best roaster of an egg, because he is always turning it. This will explain how an egg may be damn'd all on one side, but will not sufficiently show how Touchstone applies his simile with propriety; unless he means that he who has not been at court is but half educated. Steevens.
I believe there was nothing intended in the corresponding part of the simile, to answer to the words, “all on one side." Shak. speare's similes (as has been already observed) hardly ever run on four feet. Touchstone, I apprehend, only means to say, that Corin is completely damned; as irretrievably destroyed as an egg that is utterly spoiled in the roasting, by being done all on one side only. So, in a subsequent scene, "and both in a tune, like two gypsies on a horse.” Here the poet certainly meant that the speaker and his companion should sing in unison, and thus resemble each other as perfectly as two gypsies on a horse; not that two gypsies on a horse sing both in a tune. Malone.
is not the grease of a mutton as wholesome as the sweat of a man? Shallow, shallow: A better instance, I say; come.
Cor. Besides, our hands are hard.
Touch. Your lips will feel them the sooner. Shallow, again: A more sounder instance, come.
Cor. And they are often tarr'd over with the surgery of our sheep; And would you have us kiss tar? The courtier's hands are perfumed with civet.
Touch. Most shallow man! Thou worms-meat, in respect of a good piece of flesh: Indeed!-Learn of the wise, and perpend: Civet is of a baser birth than tar; the very uncleanly flux of a cat. Mend the instance, shepherd.
Cor. You have too courtly a wit for me; I 'll rest.
Touch. Wilt thou rest damn'd? God help thee, shallow man! God make incision in thee !5 thou art raw.6
make incision in thee! ] To make incision was a proverbial expression then in vogue for, to make to understand. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Humorous Lieutenant:
O excellent king,
Angel-ey'd king, vouchsafe at length thy favour;
“ And so proceeds to incision” i. e. to make him understand what he would be at. Warburton.
Till I read Dr. Warburton's note, I thought the allusion had been to that common expression, of cutting such a one for the simples; and I must own, after consulting the passage in the Humorous Lieutenant, I have no reason to alter my supposition.The editors of Beaumont and Fletcher declare the phrase to be unintelligible in that, as well as in another płáy where it is introduced. I find the same expression in Monsieur Thomas :
“We'll bear the burthen: proceed to incision, fidler." Again, (as I learn from a memorandum of my late friend, Dr. Farmer) in The Times Whistle, or a new Daunce of Seven Satires : MS. about the end of Queen Eliz. by R. C. Gent. now at Canterbury: The Prologue ends
“Be stout my heart, my hand be firm and steady;
“Whilst with my pen I doe incision make.” Steevens. I believe that Steevens has explained this passage justly, and am certain that Warburton has entirely mistaken the meaning of that which he has quoted from The Humorous Lieutenant, which
Cor. Sir, I am a true labourer; I earn that I eat, get that I wear; owe no man hate, envy no man's happiness; glad of other men's good, content with my harm: and the greatest
of my pride is, to see my ewes graze, and my lambs suck.
Touch. That is another simple sin in you; to bring the ewes and the rams together, and to offer to get your living by the copulation of cattle: to be bawd to a bellwether;7 and to betray a she-lamb of a twelvemonth, to a crooked-pated, old, cuckoldly ram, out of all reasonable match. If thou be'st not damn’d for this, the devil himself will have no shepherds; I cannot see else how thou shouldst ’scape,
Cor. Here comes young master Ganymede, my new mistress's brother.
Enter RoSALIND, reading a paper.
No jewel is like Rosalind,
plainly alludes to the practice of the young gallants of the time, who used to cut themselves in such a manner as to make their blood flow, in order to show their passion for their mistresses, by drinking their healths, or writing verses to them in blood. For a more full explanation of this custom, see a note on Love's Labour's Lost, Act IV, sc. iii. M. Mason.
thou art raw.] i. e. thou art ignorant; unexperienced. So, in Hamlet: “. - and yet but raw neither, in respect of his quick sail.” Malone.
bawel to a bell-wether;] Wether and ram had anciently the same meaning. Fohnson.
-fairest lin’d,] i. e. most fairly delineated. Modern editors read-limn’d, but without authority, from the ancient copies.
Steevens. 9 But the fair of Rosalind.] Thus the old copy. Fair is beauty, complexion. See the notes on a passage in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Act I, sc. i, and The Comedy of Errors, Act II, sc. i. The modern editors read—the face of Rosalind. Lodge's Novel will likewise support the ancient reading:
Touch. I'll rhyme you so, eight years together; dinners, and suppers, and sleeping hours excepted: it is the right butter-woman's rank to market. 1
Ros. Out, fool!
If a hart do lack a hind,
“ Then muse not, nymphes, though I bemone
“Since for her faire there is fairer none,” &c. Again:
“ And hers the faire which all men do respect.” Steevens. Face was introduced by Mr. Pope. Malone. - rank to market.] Sir T. Hanmer reads-rate to market.
Fohnson. Dr. Grey, as plausibly, proposes to read—rant. “Gyll brawled like a butter-whore,” is a line in an ancient medley. The sense designed, however, might have been—" it is such wretched rhyme as the butter-woman sings as she is rilling to market.” So, in Churchyard's Charge, 1580, p. 7:
“ And use a kinde of ridynge rime." Again, in his Farewell from the Courte:
- A man maie,” says he
- To sutchę as wooll not let me clime." Ratt-ryme, however, in Scotch, signifies some verse repeated by rote. See Ruddiman’s Glossary to G. Douglas's Virgil. Steevens.
The Clown is here speaking in reference to the ambling pace of the metre, which, after giving a specimen of, to prove his assertion, he affirms to be “the very false gallop of verses.” Henley.
I am now persuaded that Sir T. Hanmer's emendation is right. The hobbling metre of these verses, (says Touchstone) is like the ambling, shuffling pace of a butter-woman's horse, going to mar. ket. The same kind of imagery is found in K. Henry IV, P. I:
“ And that would set my teeth nothing on edge,
Nothing so much, as mincing poetry;
“'Tis like the forc'd gait of a shuffling nag.” Malone. “The right butter-woman's rank to market” means the jog-trot rate (as it is vulgarly called) with which butter-women uniformly travel one after another in their road to market: in its application to Orlando's poetry, it means a set or string of verses in the same coarse cadence and vulgar uniformity of rythin. Whiter.