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But how many hath he killed? for, indeed, I promised to eat all of his killing.2
LEON. Faith, niece, yoù tax signior Benedick too much; but he'll be meet with you,3 I doubt it
MESS. He hath done good service, lady, in these
BEAT. You had musty victual, and he hath holp to eat it he is a very valiant trencher-man, he hath an excellent stomach.
MESS. And a good soldier too, lady.
BEAT. And a good soldier to a lady;-But what is he to a lord?
Again, in Love in a Maze, 1632:
"Pox of his bird-bolt! Venus,
"Speak to thy boy to fetch his arrow back,
The meaning of the whole is-Benedick, from a vain conceit of his influence over women, challenged Cupid at roving (a particular kind of archery, in which flight-arrows are used). In other words, he challenged him to shoot at hearts. The fool, to ridicule this piece of vanity, in his turn challenged Benedick to shoot at crows with the cross-bow and bird-bolt; an inferior kind of archery used by fools, who, for obvious reasons, were not permitted to shoot with pointed arrows: Whence the proverb-" A fool's bolt is soon shot." DOUCE.
• I promised to eat all of his killing.] So in King Henry V: "Ram. He longs to eat the English.
"Con. I think, he will eat all he kills."
he'll be meet with you,] This is a very common expression in the midland counties, and signifies, he'll be your match, he'll be even with you.
So, in TEXNOTAMIA, by B. Holiday, 1618:
"Go meet her, or else she'll be meet with me." Chapman has nearly the same phrase in his version of the 22d Iliad:
"Paris and Phœbus meet with thee-" STEEVENS.
MESS. A lord to a lord, a man to a man; stuffed with all honourable virtues.*
BEAT. It is so, indeed; he is no less than a stuffed man: but for the stuffing,-Well, we are all mortal.5
LEON. You must not, sir, mistake my niece: there is a kind of merry war betwixt signior Benedick and her they never meet, but there is a skirmish of wit between them.
BEAT. Alas, he gets nothing by that. In our last conflict, four of his five wits went halting off,
stuffed with all honourable virtues.] Stuffed, in this first instance, has no ridiculous meaning. Mr. Edwards observes, that Mede, in his Discourses on Scripture, speaking of Adam, says, 66 he whom God had stuffed with so many excellent qualities." Edwards's MS. Again, in The Winter's Tale:
whom you know
"Of stuff'd sufficiency."
Un homme bien etoffé, signifies, in French, a man in good circumstances.' STEEVENS.
he is no less than a stuffed man: but for the stuffing,Well, we are all mortal.] Mr. Theobald plumed himself much on the pointing of this passage; which, by the way, he might learn from D'Avenant: but he says not a word, nor any one else that I know of, about the reason of this abruption. The truth is, Beatrice starts an idea at the words stuffed man; and prudently checks herself in the pursuit of it. A stuffed man was one of the many cant phrases for a cuckold. In Lyly's Midas, we have an inventory of Motto's moveables: "Item, says Petulus, one paire of hornes in the bride-chamber on the bed's head. The beast's head, observes Licio; for Motto is stuff'd in the head, and these are among unmoveable goods."
-four of his five wits-] In our author's time wit was the general term for intellectual powers. So, Davies on the Soul: "Wit, seeking truth, from cause to cause ascends, "And never rests till it the first attain; "Will, seeking good, finds many middle ends, "But never stays till it the last do gain."
and now is the whole man governed with one: so that if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference between himself and his horse; for it is all the wealth that he hath left, to be known a reasonable creature.-Who is his companion now? He hath every month a new
MESS. Is it possible?
BEAT. Very easily possible; he wears his faith"
And, in another part:
"But if a phrenzy do possess the brain,
"And to the wit no true relation brings.
"Build fond conclusions on those idle grounds-."
The wits seem to have been reckoned five, by analogy to the five senses, or the five inlets of ideas. JOHNSON.
if he have wit enough to keep himself warm, let him bear it for a difference &c.] Such a one has wit enough to keep himself warm, is a proverbial expression.
So, in Heywood's Epigrams on Proverbs:
"Wit kept by warmth."
“Thou art wise inough, if thou keepe thee warme,
"But the least colde that cumth, kilth thy wit by harme." Again, in The Wise Woman of Hogsden, 1638: "You are the wise woman, are you? and have wit to keepe yourself warm enough, I warrant you." Again, in Cynthia's Revels, by Ben Jonson: " whole self cannot but be perfectly wise; for - your your hands have wit enough to keep themselves warm.' To bear any thing for a difference, is a term in heraldry. So, in Hamlet, Ophelia says:
you may wear your rue with a difference."
sworn brother.] i. e. one with whom he hath sworn (as was anciently the custom among adventurers) to share fortunes. See Mr. Whalley's note on-" we'll be all three swornbrothers to France," in King Henry V. Act II. sc. i. STEEVENS.
9 he wears his faith -] Not religious profession, but profession of friendship; for the speaker gives it as the reason of
but as the fashion of his hat, it ever changes with the next block.'
MESS. I see, lady, the gentleman is not in your books.2
her asking, who was now his companion? that he had every month a new sworn brother. WARBURton.
-with the next block.] A block is the mould on which a hat is formed. So, in Decker's Satiromastix:
"Of what fashion is this knight's wit? of what block?” See a note on King Lear, Act IV. sc. vi.
The old writers sometimes use the word block, for the hat itself. STEEVENS.
-the gentleman is not in your books.] used, I believe, by more than understand it. books is to be in one's codicils or will, to be down for legacies. JOHNSON.
I rather think that the books alluded to, are memorandumbooks, like the visiting books of the present age. So, in Decker's Honest Whore, Part II. 1630:
This is a phrase To be in one's among friends set.
"I am sure her name was in my table-book once." Or, perhaps the allusion is to matriculation at the University. So, in Aristippus, or The Jovial Philosopher, 1630:
"You must be matriculated, and have your name recorded in Albo Academiæ."
Again: "What have you enrolled him in albo? Have you fully admitted him into the society?-to be a member of the body academic?”
Again: "And if I be not entred, and have my name admitted into some of their books, let," &c.
And yet I think the following passage in The Maid's Revenge, by Shirley, 1639, will sufficiently support my first supposition: "Pox of your compliment, you were best not write in her table-books."
It appears to have been anciently the custom to chronicle the small beer of every occurrence, whether literary or domestic, in table-books.
Hamlet likewise has," my tables," &c.
Again, in The Whore of Babylon, 1607:
"His name hath in her tables."
So, in the play last quoted:
"Devolve itself!-that word is not in my table-books."
BEAT. No: an he were, I would burn my study. But, I pray you, who is his companion? Is there no young squarer3 now, that will make a voyage with him to the devil?
Again, in Acolastus, a comedy, 1540:
"We weyl haunse thee, or set thy name into our felowship boke, with clappynge of handes," &c.
I know not exactly to what custom this last quoted passage refers, unless to the album; for just after, the same expression occurs again: that " - from henceforthe thou may'st have a place worthy for thee in our whyte: from hence thou may'st have thy name written in our boke.”
It should seem from the following passage in The Taming of a Shrew, that this phrase might have originated from the Herald's Office:
"A herald, Kate! oh, put me in thy books!"
After all, the following note in one of the Harleian MSS. No. 847, may be the best illustration:
"W. C. to Henry Fradsham, Gent. the owner of this book: "Some write their fantasies in verse
"In theire bookes where they friendshippe shewe,
"The great good will that they do owe," &c.
This phrase has not been exactly interpreted. To be in a man's books, originally meant to be in the list of his retainers. Sir John Mandeville tells us, "alle the mynstrelles that comen before the great Chan ben witholden with him, as of his houshold, and entred in his bookes, as for his own men." FARMER.
A servant and a lover were in Cupid's Vocabulary, synonymous. Hence perhaps the phrase to be in a person's books— was applied equally to the lover and the menial attendant.
There is a MS. of Lord Burleigh's, in the Marquis of Lansdowne's library, wherein, among many other household concerns, he has entered the names of all his servants, &c. Douce. young squarer-] A squarer I take to be a cholerick, quarrelsome fellow, for in this sense Shakspeare uses the word to square. So, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream, it is said of Oberon and Titania, that they never meet but they square. So the sense may be, Is there no hot-blooded youth that will keep him company through all his mad pranks? JOHNSON.