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Touch. Or as the destinies decree.
Le Beau. You amaze me, ladies:5 I would have told you of good wrestling, which you have lost the sight of.
Ros. Yet tell us the manner of the wrestling.
Le Beau. I will tell you the beginning, and, if it please your ladyships, you may see the end; for the best is yet to do; and here, where you are, they are coming to perform it.
Cel. Well, the beginning, that is dead and buried.
Le Beau. There comes an old man, and his three sons,
Cel. I could match this beginning with an old tale.
Le Beau. Three proper young men, of excellent growth and presence;
Ros. With bills on their necks—Be it known unto all men by these presents,&
-laid on with a trowel.] I suppose the meaning is, that there is too heavy a mass of big words laid upon a slight subject.
Fohnson. This is a proverbial expression, which is generally used to signify a glaring falshood. See Ray's Proverbs. Steevens.
It means a good round hit, thrown in without judgment or design. Ritson.
To lay on with a trowel, is, to do any thing strongly and without delicacy. If a man flatters grossly, it is a common expression to say, that he lays it on with a trowel. M. Mason.
5 You amaze me, ladies:] To amaze, here, is not to astonish or strike with wonder, but to perplex; to confuse, so as to put out of the intended narrative. Fohnson. So, in Cymbeline, Act IV, sc. iji:
“I am amazed with matter." Steevens. 6 With bills on their necks,-Be it known unto all men by these presents,] The ladies and the fool, according to the mode of wit at that time, are at a kind of cross purposes. Where the words of one speaker are wrested by another, in a repartee, to a different meaning. As where the Clown says just before-Nay, if I keep not my rank. Rosalind replies-Thou losest thy old smell. So here when Rosalind had said-With bills on their necks, the Clown to be quits with her, puts in-Know all men by these presents. She spoke of an instrument of war, and he turns it to an instrument of law of the same name, beginning with these words: So ** they must be given to him. Warburton.
Le Beau. The eldest of the three wrestled with Charles, the duke's wrestler; which Charles in a moment threw him, and broke three of his ribs, that there is little hope of life in him: so he served the second, and so the third: Yonder they lie; the poor old man, their father, making such pitiful dole over them, that all the beholders take his part with weeping.
Touch. But what is the sport, monsieur, that the ladies have lost?
Le Beau. Why, this that I speak of.
This conjecture is ingenious. Where meaning is so very thin, as in this vein of jocularity, it is hard to catch, and therefore I know not well what to determine ; but I cannot see why Rosalind should suppose, that the competitors in a wrestling match carried bills on their shoulders, and I believe the whole conceit is in the poor resemblance of presence and presents. Johnson.
With bills on their necks, should be the conclusion of Le Beau's speech. Mr. Edwards ridicules Dr. Warburton, “ As if people carried such instruments of war, as bills and guns on their necks, not on their shoulders !” But unluckily the ridicule falls upon himself. Lassels, in his Voyage of Italy, says of tutors, “Some persuade their pupils, that it is fine carrying a gun upon their necks." But what is still more, the expression is taken immediately from Lodge, who furnished our author with his plot. “Ganimede on a day sitting with Aliena, (the assumed names, as in the play) cast up her eye, and saw where Rosader came pacing towards them with his forest-bill on his necke.” Farmer.
The quibble may be countenanced by the following passage in Woman's a Weathercock, 1612:
“Good-morrow, taylor, I abhor bills in a morning
“But thou may'st watch at night with bill in hand.” Again, in Sidney's Arcadia, B. I:
- with a sword by his side, a forest-bille on his necke," &c. Again, in Rowley's When you see me you know me, 1621:
“Enter King, and Compton, with bills on his back.” Again, in The Pinner of Wakefield, 1599:
“ And each of you a good bat on his neck." Again:
are you not big enough to bear “ Your bats upon your necks 2 Steevens. I don't think that by bill is meant either an instrument of war, or one of law, but merely a label or advertisement—as we say a play-bill, a hand-bill; unless Farmer's ingenious amendment be admitted, and these words become part of Le Beau's speech; in which case the word bill would be used by him to denote a weapon, and by Rosalind perverted to mean a label. M. Mason
Touch. Thus men may grow wiser every day! it is the first time that ever I heard, breaking of ribs was sport for ladies.
Cel. Or I, I promise thee.
Ros. But is there any else longs to see this broken musick in his sides?? is there yet another dotes upon rib-breaking? -Shall we see this wrestling, cousin?
Le Beau. You must, if you stay here: for here is the place appointed for the wrestling, and they are ready to perform it.
Cel. Yonder, sure, they are coming: Let us now stay and see it. Flourish. Enter Duke FREDERICK, Lords, ORLANDO,
CHARLES, and Attendants. Duke F. Come on; since the youth will not be entreated, his own peril on his forwardness.
Ros. Is yonder the man?
is there any else longs to see this broken musick in his sides?] A stupid error in the copies. They are talking here of some who had their ribs broke in wrestling: and the pleasantry of Rosalind's repartee must consist in the allusion she makes to composing in musick. It necessarily follows, therefore, that the poet wrote-SET this broken musick in his sides. Warburton.
If any change were necessary, I should write, feel this broken musick, for see. But see is the colloquial term for perception or experiment. So we say every day; see if the water be hot; I will see which is the best time; she has tried, and sees that she cannot lift it. In this sense see may be here used. The sufferer can, with no propriety, be said to set the musick; neither is the allusion to the act of tuning an instrument, or pricking a tune, one of which must be meant by setting musick. Rosalind hints at a whimsical similitude between the series of ribs gradually shortening, and some musical instruments, and therefore calls broken ribs, broken musick. Johnson.
This probably alludes to the pipe of Pan, which consisting of reeds of unequal length, and gradually lessening, bore some resemblance to the ribs of a man. M. Mason
Broken musick either means the noise which the breaking of ribs would occasion, or the hollow sound which proceeds from a person's receiving a violent fall. Douce.
I can offer no legitimate explanation of this passage, but may observe that another, somewhat parallel, occurs in K. Henry V. “Come, your answer in broken musick; for thy voice is n and thy English broken.” Steenens.
Cel. Alas, he is too young: yet he looks successfully.
Duke F. How now, daughter, and cousin? are you crept hither to see the wrestling?
Ros. Ay, my liege? so please you give us leave.
Duke F. You will take little delight in it, I can tell you, there is such odds in the men:8 In pity of the challenger's youth, I would fain dissuade him, but he will not be entreated: Speak to him, ladies; see if you can move him.
Cel. Call him hither, good Monsieur Le Beau.
Le Beau. Monsieur the challenger, the princesses call for you.
Orl. I attend them, with all respect and duty.
Ros. Young man, have you challenged Charles the wrestler?1
Orl. No, fair princess; he is the general challenger: I come but in, as others do, to try with him the strength of my youth.
Cel. Young gentleman, your spirits are too bold for your years: You have seen cruel proof of this man's strength: if you saw yourself with your eyes, or knew yourself with your judgment, the fear of your adventure would counsel you to a more equal enterprise. We pray you, for your own sake, to embrace your own safety, and give over this attempt.
-odds in the men:] Sir T. Hanmer. In the old editions, the man. Johnson.
- the princesses call for you.] The old copy reads—the princesse calls. Corrected by Mr. Theobald. Malone.
- have you challenged Charles the wrestler ?] This wrestling match is minutely described in Lodge's Rosalynde, 1592.
Malone. if you saw yourself with your eyes, or knew yourself with your judgment, ] Absurd! The sense requires that we should read, -our eyes, and our judgment. The argument is, Your spirits are too bold, and therefore your judgment deceives you ; but did you see and know yourself with our more impartial judgment, you would forbear. Warburton.
I cannot find the absurdity of the present reading. If you were not blinded and intoxicated, says the princess, with the spirit of enterprise, if you could use your own eyes to see, or your own judgment to know yourself, the fear of your adventure would counsel you.
Ros. Do, young sir; your reputation shall not therefore be misprised: we will make it our suit to the duke, that the wrestling might not go forward.
Orl. I beseech you, punish me not with your hard thoughts; wherein I confess me much guilty, to deny so fair and excellent ladies any thing. But let your fair eyes, and gentle wishes, go with me to my trial:4 wherein if I be foiled, there is but one shamed that was never gracious; if killed, but one dead that is willing to be so: I shall do my friends no wrong, for I have none to lament me; the world no injury, for in it I have nothing; only in the world I fill up a place, which may be better supplied when I have made it empty. Ros. The little strength that I have, I would it were
Cel. And mine, to eke out hers.
Cel. Your heart's desires be with you.
Cha. Come, where is this young gallant, that is so desirous to lie with his mother earth?
Orl. Ready, sir; but his will hath in it a more modest working.
3 I beseech you, punish me not &c.] I should wish to read, I beseech
you, punish me not with your hard thoughts, Therein I confess myself much guilty to deny so fair and excellent ladies any thing:
Johnson. As the word wherein must always refer to something preceding, I have no doubt but there is an error in this passage, and that we ought to read herein, instead of wherein. The hard thoughts that he complains of are the apprehensions expressed by the ladies of his not being able to contend with the wrestler. He beseeches that they will not punish him with them; and then adds, “Herein I confess me much guilty to deny so fair and excellent ladies any thing. But let your fair eyes and gentle wishes go with me to my trial.” M. Mason.
The meaning I think is, “punish me not with your unfavoura. ble opinion (of my abilities); which, however, I confess, I deserve to incur, for denying such fair ladies any request." The expression is licentious, but our author's plays furnish many such.
Malone. let your gentle wishes, go with me to my trial:] Addison might have had this passage in his memory, when he put the following words into Juba's mouth:
- Marcia, may I hope “ That thy kind wishes follow me to battle?" Steevens.