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Jaq. O knowledge ill-inhabited!6 worse than Jove in a thatch'd house!
[ Aside. Touch. When a man's verses cannot be understood, nor a man's good wit seconded with the forward child, understanding, it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room:7-Truly I would the gods had made thee poetical.
Aud. I do not know what poetical is: Is it honest in deed, and word? It is a true thing?
Touch. No, truly; for the truest poetry is the most feigning; and lovers are given to poetry; and what they swear in poetry, may be said, as lovers, they do feign.8
ill-inhabited!] i. e. ill-lodged. An unusual sense of the word.
A similar phrase occurs in Reynolds’s God's Revenge against Murder, Book V, Hist. 21: “ Pieria's heart is not so ill lodged, nor her extraction and quality so contemptible, but that she is very sensible of her disgrace.” Again, in The Golden Legend, Wynkyn de Worde's edit. fol. 196: “I am ryghtwysnes that am enhabited here, and this hous is myne, and thou art not ryghtwyse.”
Steevens. - it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room:] Nothing was ever wrote in higher humour than this simile. A great reckoning, in a little room, implies that the entertainment was mean, and the bill extravagant. The poet here alluded to the French proverbial phrase of the quarter of an hour of Rabelais: who said, there was only one quarter of an hour in human life passed ill, and that was between the calling for the reckoning and paying it. Yet the delicacy of our Oxford editor would correct this into-It strikes a man more dead than a great reeking in a little room. This is amending with a vengeance. When men are joking together in a merry humour, all are disposed to laugh. One of the company says a good thing; the jest is not taken; all are silent, and he who said it, quite confounded. This is compared to a tavern jollity interrupted by the coming in of a great reckoning. Had not Shakspeare reason now in this case to apply his simile to his own case, against his critical editor? Who, it is plain, taking the phrase to strike dead, in a literal sense, concluded, from his knowledge in philosophy, that it could not be so effectually done by a reckoning as by a reeking. Warburton.
and what they swear in poetry, &c.] This sentence seems perplexed and inconsequent: perhaps it were better read thusWhat they swear as lovers, they may be said to feign as poets.
Fohnson. I would read-It may be said, as lovers they do feign.
Aud. Do you wish then, that the gods had made me poetical?
Touch. I do, truly: for thou swear'st to me, thou art honest; now, if thou wert a poet, I might have some hope thou didst feign.
Aud. Would you not have me honest?
Touch. No truly, unless thou wert hard-favour'd: for honesty 'coupled to beauty, is to have honey a sauce to sugar. Jaq. A material fool!9
[Aside. Aud. Well, I am not fair; and therefore I gods make me honest!
Touch. Truly, and to cast away honesty upon a foul slut, were to put good meat into an unclean dish.
Aud. I am not a slut, though I thank the gods I am foul, 1
9 A material fool!] A fool with matter in him; a fool stocked with notions. Johnson. So, in Chapman's version of the 24th Iliad:
his speech even charm’d his eares, “ So order'd, so materiall. " Steevens.
I am foul.] By foul is meant coy or frowning. Hanmer. I rather believe foul to be put for the rustick pronunciation of full. Audrey, supposing the Clown to have spoken of her as a foul slut, says, naturally enough, I am not a slut, though, I thank the gods, I am foul, i.e. full. She was more likely to thank the gods for a belly-full, than for her being coy or frowning. Tyrwhitt.
In confirmation of Mr. Tyrwhitt's conjecture, it may be observed, that in the song at the end of Love's Labour's Lost, instead of_" and ways be foul,” we have in the first quarto, 1598, " and ways be fuli.” In that and other of our author's plays many words seem to have been spelled by the ear. Malone.
Audrey says, she is not fair, i. e. handsome, and therefore prays the gods to make her honest. The Clown tells her that to cast honesty away upon a foul slut, (i.e. an ill favoured dirty creature) is to put meat in an unclean dish. She replies, she is no slut, (no dirty drab) though, in her great simplicity, she thanks the gods for ber foulness, (homeliness) i. e. for being as she is. “ Well, (adds he) praised be the gods for thy foulness, sluttishness may come hereafter.” Ritson.
I think that, by foul, Audrey means, not fair, or what we call homely. Audrey is neither coy or ill-humoured: but she thanks God for her homeliness, as it rendered her less exposed to temptation. So, in the next scene but one, Rosalind says to Phebe“ Foul is most foul, being foul, to be a scoffer."
Touch. Well, praised be the gods for thy foulness! sluttishness may come hereafter. But be it as it may be, I will marry thee: and to that end, I have been with Sir Oliver Mar-text, the vicar of the next village; who hath promised to meet me in this place of the forest, and to couple us. Jaq. I would fain see this meeting.
[Aside. Aud. Well, the gods give us joy!
Touch. Amen. A man may, if he were of a fearful heart, stagger in this attempt; for here we have no temple but the wood, no assembly but horn-beasts. But what though?? Courage! As horns are odious, they are necessary. It is said,-- Many a man knows no end of his goods: right; many a man has good horns, and knows no end of them. Well that is the dowry of his wife; 'tis none of his own getting. Horns? Even so:
-Poor men alone?-No, no; the noblest deer hath them as huge as the rascal. 3 Is the single man therefore blessed ? No: as a wall'd town is more worthier than a village, so is the forehead of a married man more honourable than the bare brow of a bachelor: and by how much defence is better than no skill, by so much is a horn more precious than to want.
Enter Sir OLIVER MAR-TEXT. Here comes sir Oliver:5—Sir Oliver Mar-text, you are
what though?] What then? Johnson.
Harris. defence - ] Defence, as here opposed to “no skill,” signifies the art of fencing. Thus, in Hamlet: “ — and gave you such a masterly report, for arts and exercise in your defence.”
Steevens. - sir Oliver:] He that has taken his first degree at the university, is in the academical style called Dominus, and in common language was heretofore termed Sir. This was not always a word of contempt; the graduates assumed it in their own writings; so Trevisa the historian writes himself Syr John de Trevisa. Johnson.
We find the same title bestowed on many divines in our old comedies. So, in Wily Beguiled:
- Sir John cannot tend to it at evening prayer; for there comes a company of players to town on Sunday in the afternoon, and Sir John is so good a fellow, that I know he'll scarce leave their company, to say evening prayer.”
well met: Will you despatch us here under this tree, or shall we go with you to your chapel?
Sir Oli. Is there none here to give the woman?
Sir Oli. Truly, she must be given, or the marriage is not lawful.
Jaq. [discovering himself] Proceed, proceed; I 'll give her.
Touch. Good even, good master What ye call’t: How do you, sir? You are very well met: God 'ild you for your last company: I am very glad to see you :-Even a toy in hand here, sir:-Nay; pray, be cover'd.
Jaq. Will you be married, motley?
Touch. As the ox hath his bow,? sir, the horse his curb, and the faulcon her bells, so man hath his desires; and as pigeons bill, so wedlock would be nibbling.
Jaq. And will you, being a man of your breeding, be married under a bush, like a beggar? Get you to church, and have a good priest that can tell you what marriage is: this fellow will but join you together as they join wainscot: then one of you will prove a shrunk pannel, and, like green timber, warp, warp.
Touch. I am not in the mind but I were better to be married of him than of another: for he is not like to marry me well; and not being well married, it will be a good excuse for me hereafter to leave my wife. [Aside.
Again: “We'll all go to church together, and so save Sir Fohn a labour.” See notes on The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act I, sc. i. Steevens.
Degrees were at this time considered as the highest dignities; and it may not be improper to observe, that a clergyman, who hath not been educated at the Universities, is still distinguished in some parts of North Wales, by the appellation of Sir John, Sir William, &c. Hence the Sir Hugh Evans of Shakspeare is not a Welsh knight who hath taken orders, but only a Welsh clergyman without any regular degree from either of the Universities. See Barrington's History of the Gue:lir Family. Nichols.
God’ild you — ] i.e. God yield you, God reward you. So, in Antony and Cleopatra :
“ And the gods yield you for 't!" See notes on Macbeth, Act I, sc. vi. Steevens.
his bow,] i.e. his yoke. The ancient yoke in form resembled a bow. See note on The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act V.
Jaq. Go thou with me, and let me counsel thee.
Touch. Come, sweet Audrey;
Not_0 sweet Oliver,
O brave Oliver, 8
Begone, I say,
[Exeunt JAQ. Touch. and Aud.
8 Not- sweet Oliver,
O brave &c.] Some words of an old ballad. Warburton. Of this speech as it now appears, I can make nothing, and think nothing can be made. In the same breath he calls his mistress to be married, and sends away the man that should marry them. Dr. Warburton has very happily observed, that O sweet Oliver is a quotation from an old song; I believe there are two quotations put in opposition to each other. For wind I read wend, the old word for go. Perhaps the whole passage may be regulated thus:
Clo. I am not in the mind, but it were better for me to be married of him than of another, for he is not like to marry me well, and not being well married, it will be a good excuse for me hereafter to leave my wife.-Come, sweet Audrey; we must be married, or we must live in bawdry.
Jaq. Go thou with me, and let me counsel thee. [They whisper.
Clo. Farewel, good sir Oliver, not O sweet Oliver, o brave Oliver, leave me not behind thee, but
I will not to wedding with thee to-day. Of this conjecture the reader may take as much as shall appear necessary to the sense, or conducive to the humour. I have received all but the additional words. The song seems to be complete without them. Johnson.
The Clown dismisses Sir Oliver only because Jaques had alarmed his pride, and raised his doubts, concerning the validity of a marriage solemnized by one who appears only in the character of an itinerant preacher. He intends afterwards to have recourse to some other of more dignity in the same profession. Dr. Johnson's opinion, that the latter part of the Clown's speech is only a repetition from some other ballad, or perhaps a different part of the same, is, I believe, just.
O brave Oliver, leave me not behind you, is a quotation at the beginning of one of N. Breton's Letters, in his Packet, &c. 1600.