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PRO. And what fays fhe to my little jewel? LAUN. Marry, fhe fays, your dog was a cur; and tells you, currish thanks is good enough for fuch a prefent.
PRO. But the receiv'd my dog?
LAUN. No, indeed, fhe did not: here have I brought him back again.
PRO. What, didft thou offer her this from me?
LAUN. Ay, fir; the other squirrel was ftolen from me by the hangman's boys in the market-place; and then I offer'd her mine own; who is a dog as big as ten of yours, and therefore the gift the greater.
PRO. Go, get thee hence, and find my dog again, Or ne'er return again into my fight. Away, I fay; Stay'ft thou to vex me here? A flave, that, ftill an end," turns me to fhame. [Exit LAUNCE.
Sebastian, I have entertained thee,
the other fquirrel, &c.] Sir. T. Hanmer reads " the other, Squirrel," &c. and confequently makes Squirrel the proper name of the beaft. Perhaps Launce only fpeaks of it as a diminutive animal, more resembling a squirrel in fize, than a dog.
The fubfequent words," who is a dog as big as ten of yours," fhew that Mr. Steevens's interpretation is the true one. MALONE.
9 an end,] i. e. in the end, at the conclufion of every bufinefs he undertakes. STEEVENS.
Still an end, and moft an end, are vulgar expreffions, and mean commonly, generally. So, in Maflinger's Very Woman, a Citizen afks the Mafter, who had flaves to fell," What will that girl do?" To which he replies:
66 -fure no harm at all, fir,
"For the fleeps moft an end." M. MALON.
SPEED. How now, fignior Launce? what news with your mastership?
LAUN. With my mafter's fhip? why, it is at fea. SPEED. Well, your old vice still; mistake the word: What news then in your paper?
LAUN. The blackeft news that ever thou heard'st. SPEED. Why, man, how black?
LAUN. Why, as black as ink.
SPEED. Let me read them.
LAUN. Fie on thee, jolt-head; thou can'ft not read.. SPEED. Thou lieft, I can.
LAUN. I will try thee: Tell me this: Who begot thee?
SPEED. Marry, the fon of my grandfather.
LAUN. O illiterate loiterer! it was the son of thy grandmother: this proves, that thou canst not read. SPEED. Come, fool, come: try me in thy paper. LAUN. There; and faint Nicholas be thy speed!*
With my mafter's fhip?] In former editions it is,—
For how does Launce mistake the word? Speed asks him about his mastership, and he replies to it literatim. But then how was his mastership at fea, and on fhore too? The addition of a letter and a note of apoftrophe, makes Launce both mistake the word, and sets the pun right: it reftores, indeed, but a mean joke; but, without it, there is no fenfe in the paffage. Befides, it is in character with the rest of the scene; and, I dare be confident, the poet's own conceit. THEOBALD.
9 the fon of thy grandmother:] It is undoubtedly true that the mother only knows the legitimacy of the child. I fuppofe Launce infers, that if he could read, he must have read this well known obfervation. STEEVENS.
faint Nicholas be thy speed!] St. Nicholas prefided over scholars, who were therefore called St. Nicholas's clerks. Hence,
SPEED. Imprimis, She can milk.
LAUN. And therefore comes the proverb,-Bleffing o' your heart, you brew good ale.
SPEED. Item, She can few.
LAUN. That's as much as to fay, Can fhe fo?
SPEED. Item, She can knit.
LAUN. What need a man care for a stock with a wench, when she can knit him a stock."
SPEED. Item, She can wash and fcour.
by a quibble between Nicholas and Old Nick, highwaymen, in The First Part of Henry the Fourth, are called Nicholas's clerks. WARBURTON,
That this faint prefided over young fcholars, may be gathered from Knight's Life of Dean Colet, p. 362. for by the ftatutes of Paul's fchool there inferted, the children are required to attend divine fervice at the cathedral on his anniversary. The reafon I take to be, that the legend of this faint makes him to have been a bishop, while he was a boy. SIR J. HAWKINS.
So Puttenham, in his Art of Poetry, 1589: " Methinks this fellow fpeaks like bishop Nicholas; for on Saint Nicholas's night commonly the fcholars of the country make them a bishop, who, like a foolish boy, goeth about bleffing and preaching with fuch childish terms, as maketh the people laugh at his foolish counterfeit fpeeches." STEEVENS.
3 Speed. Imprimis, he can milk.
Laun. Ay, that he can.] These two speeches fhould evidently be omitted. There is not only no attempt at humour in them, contrary to all the reft in the fame dialogue, but Launce clearly directs Speed to go on with the paper where he himself left off. See his preceding foliloquy. FARMER.
4 Bleffing o' your heart, &c.] So, in Ben Jonfon's Mafque of Augurs: "Our ale's o' the beft,
"And each good guest
Prays for their fouls that brew it." STEEVENS.
3 knit him a stock.] i. e. ftocking. So, in Twelfth Night:
it does indifferent well in a flame-colour'd stock.”
LAUN. A special virtue; for then she need not be washed and fcoured.
SPEED. Item, She can spin.
LAUN. Then may I fet the world on wheels, when she can spin for her living.
SPEED. Item, She bath many nameless virtues.
LAUN. That's as much as to say, bastard virtues ; that, indeed, know not their fathers, and therefore have no names.
SPEED. Here follow her vices.
LAUN. Clofe at the heels of her virtues.
SPEED. Item, She is not to be kissed fasting, in reSpect of her breath.
LAUN. Well, that fault may be mended with a breakfast: Read on.
SPEED. Item, She bath a fweet mouth."
LAUN. That makes amends for her four breath. SPEED. Item, She doth talk in her fleep.
LAUN. It's no matter for that, so she fleep not in her talk.
SPEED. Item, She is flow in words.
-She is not to be kiffed fafting,] The old copy reads,-fhe is not to be fafting, &c. The neceffary word, kiffed, was firft added by Mr. Rowe. STEEVENS.
7fweet mouth.] This I take to be the fame with what is now vulgarly called a freet tooth, a luxurious defire of dainties and fweetmeats. JOHNSON.
So, in Thomas Paynell's tranflation of Ulrich Hutten's Book De medicina Guaiaci & Morbo Gallico, 1539: "delycates and deynties, wherewith they may ftere up their Sweete mouthes and prouoke theyr appetites."
Yet how a luxurious defire of dainties can make amends for offenfive breath, I know not. Afweet mouth may, however, mean a liquorish mouth, in a wanton fenfe. So, in Measure for Measure: "Their faucy fweetness that do coin heaven's image," &c. STEEVENS.
SIL. The more shame for him that he fends it me; For, I have heard him fay a thousand times, His Julia gave it him at his departure: Though his falfe finger hath profan'd the ring, Mine shall not do his Julia fo much wrong.
JUL. She thanks you.
SIL. What fay'st thou?
JUL. I thank you, madam, that you tender her: Poor gentlewoman! my master wrongs her much. SIL. Doft thou know her?
JUL. Almost as well as I do know myself:
SIL. Belike, fhe thinks that Proteus hath forfook her.
JUL. I think he doth; and that's her caufe of forrow.
SIL. Is fhe not passing fair?
JUL. She hath been fairer, madam, than fhe is: When she did think my master lov'd her well, She, in my judgement, was as fair as you; But fince the did neglect her looking-glafs, And threw her fun-expelling mafk away, The air hath ftarv'd the roses in her cheeks, And pinch'd the lily-tincture of her face," That now fhe is become as black as I.
6 And pinch'd the lily-tincture of her face,] The colour of a part pinched, is livid, as it is commonly termed, black and blue. The weather may therefore be justly faid to pinch when it produces the fame vifible effect. I believe this is the reason why the cold is faid to pinch. JOHNSON.
Cleopatra fays of herself:
think on me,
"That am with Phoebus' amorous pinches black.”