Sir To. Sweet sir Andrew!
Sir And. Bless you, fair shrew.
Mar. And you too, sir.
Sir To. Accost, sir Andrew, accost.
Sir And. What's that?
Sir To. My niece's chamber-maid.

Sir And. Good mistress Accost, I desire better acquaintance.

Mar. My name is Mary, sir.
Sir And. Good Mistress Mary Accost,-

Sir To. You mistake, knight: accost, is, front her, board her,5 woo her, assail her.

Cotgrave, however, informs us, that Castille not only signifies the noblest part of Spain, but contention, debate, brabling, altercation. Ils sont en Castille. There is a jarre betwixt them; and prendre la Castille pour autruy: To undertake another man's quarrel. Steevens.

Mr. Steevens has not attempted to explain vulgo, nor perhaps can the proper explanation be given, unless some incidental application of it may be found in connexion with Castiliano, where the context defines its meaning. Sir Toby here, having just declared that he would persist in drinking the health of his niece, as long as there was a pussage in his throat, and drink in Illyria, at the sight of Sir Andrew, demands of Maria, with a banter, Castiliano vulgo. What this was, may be probably inferred from a speech in The Shoemaker's Holiday, 4to, 1610: “-- Away, firke, scower thy throat, thou shalt wash it with Gastilian licuor.Henley.

4 Accost, sir Andrew, accost.] To accost, had a signification in our author's time that the word now seems to have lost. In the second part of The English Dictionary, by H. C. 1655, in which the reader - who is desirous of a more refined and elegant speech," is furnished with hard words,

to draw near,is explained thus: “ To accost, appropriate, appropinquate." See also Cotgrave's Dict. in verb. accoster. Malone.

board her,] “ I hinted that bourd was the better read. ing. Mr. Steevens supposed it should then be bourd with her; but to the authorities which I have quoted for that reading n Jonson, Catiline, Act I, sc. iv, we may add the following: " I'll bourd him straight; how now Cornelio ?”

All Fools, Act V, sc. i. “ He brings in a parasite that flowteth, and bourdeth them thus."

Nash's Lenten Stuf, 1599. “I can bourd when I see occasion.”

'Tis Pity she's a Whore, p. 38. Whalley.



Sir And. By my troth, I would not undertake her in this company. Is that the meaning of accost?

Mar. Fare you well, gentlemen.

Sir To. An thou let part so, sir Andrew, 'would thou might 'st never draw sword again.

Sir And. An you part so, mistress, I would I might never draw sword again. Fair lady, do you think you have fools in hand?

Mar. Sir, I have not you by the hand.

Sir And. Marry, but you shall have; and here's my hand.

Mar. Now, sir, thought is free:6 I pray you, bring your hand to the buttery-bar, and let it drink.

Sir And. Wherefore, sweet heart? what's your metaphor?

Mar. It's dry, sir,?

I am still unconvinced that board (the naval term) is not the proper reading. It is sufficiently familiar to our author in other places. So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act II, sc. i:

unless he knew some strain in me, that I know, not myself, he would never have boarded me in this fury.

“ Mrs. Ford. Boarding, call you it? I'll be sure to keep him above deck,” &c. &c. Steevens.

Probably board her may mean no more than salute her, speak to her, &c. Sir Kenelm Digby, in his Treatise of Bodies, 1643, fol. Paris, p. 253, speaking of a blind man says: “ He would at the first aboard of a stranger, as soone as he spoke to him, frame a right apprehension of his stature, bulke, and manner of making.Reed.

To board is certainly to accost, or a-ldress. So, in the History of Celestina the Faire, 1596: “ whereat Alderine somewhat displeased for she would verie faine have knowne who he was, boorded him thus. Ritson.

6 Fair lady, do you think you have fools in hand!

Mar. Nov, sir, thought is free: ] There is the same pleasantry in Lyly's Euphues, 1581: “None (quoth she) can judge of wit but they that have it; why then (quoth he) doest thou think me a fool? Thought is free, my Lord, quoth she.Holt White.

? It's dry sir.] What is the jest of dry hand, I know not any better than Sir Andrew. It may possibly mean, a hand with no money in it; or, according to the rules of physiognomy, she may intend to insinuate, that it is not a lover's hand, a moist hand being vulgarly accounted a sign of an amorous constitution.

Fohnson. So, in Monsieur D’Olive, 1606: “But to say you had a dull eye, a sharp nose (the visible marks of a shrew): a dry hand,

Sir And. Why, I think so; I am not such an ass, but I can keep my hand dry. But what 's your jest?

Mar. A dry jest, sir.
Sir And. Are you full of them?

Mar. Ay, sir; I have them at my fingers' ends: marry, now I let go your hand, I am barren.

[Exit Mar. Sir To. O knight, thou lack’st a cup of canary: When did I see thee so put down?

Sir And. Never in your life, I think; unless you see canary put me down: Methinks, sometimes I have no more wit than a Christian, or an ordinary man has: but I am a great eater of beef, and, I believe, that does harm to my wit.

Sir To. No question.

Sir And. An I thought that, I'd forswear it. I'll ride home to-morrow, sir Toby.

Sir To. Pourquoy, my dear knight?

Sir And. What is pourquoy? do, or not do? I would I had bestowed that time in the tongues, that I have in fencing, dancing, and bear-baiting: 0, had I but followed the arts !

Sir To. Then hadst thou had an excellent head of hair? Sir And. Why, would that have mended my

hair? Sir To. Past question; for thou sees't, it will not curl by nature. 8

Sir And. But it becomes me well enough, does 't not?

Sir To. Excellent; it hangs like flax on a distaff; and I hope to see a housewife take thee between her legs, and spin it off.

Sir And. 'Faith, I'll home to-morrow, Sir Toby: your niece will not be seen; or, if she be, it's four to one she'll none of me: the count himself, here hard by, wooes her.

which is the sign of a bad liver, as he said you were, being toward a husband too; this was intolerable.” Steevens.

- it will not curl by nature.] The old copy reads-cool my nature. The emendation was made by Theobald. Stecvens,

[ocr errors]

Sir To. She 'll none o'the count; she 'll not match above her degree, neither in estate, years, nor wit; I have heard her swear it. Tut, there 's life in 't, man.

Sir And. I'll stay a month longer. I am a fellow o'the strangest mind i' the world; I delight in masques and revels sometimes altogether.

Sir To. Art thou good at these kick-shaws, knight?

Sir And. As any man in Illyria, whatsoever he be, under the degree of my betters; and yet I will not compare with an old man.9

Sir To. What is thy excellence in a galliard, knight?
Sir And. 'Faith, I can cut a caper.
Sir To. And I can cut the mutton to 't.

Sir And. And, I think, I have the back-trick, simply as strong as any man in Illyria.

Sir To. Wherefore are these things hid? wherefore have these gifts a curtain before them? are they like to take dust, like mistress Mall's picture?1 why dost



and yet I will not compare with an old man.) This is intended as a satire on that common vanity of old men, in preferring their own times, and the past generation, to the present.

Warburton. This stroke of pretended satire but ill accords with the cha. racter of the foolish knight. Ague-cheek, though willing enough to arrogate to himself such experience as is commonly the acquisition of age, is yet careful to exempt his person from being compared with its bodily weakness. In short, he would say with Falstaff:-I am old in nothing but my understanding."

Steevens. - mistress Mall's picture?] The real name of the woman whom I suppose to have been meant by Sir Toby, was Mary Frith. The appellation by which she was generally known, was Mall Gutpurse. She was at once an hermaphrodite, a prostitute, a bawd, a bully, a thief, a receiver of stolen goods, &c. &c. On the books of the Stationers' Company, August 1610, is entered—“A Booke called the Madde Prancks of Merry Mall of the Bankside, with her Walks in Man's Apparel, and to what Purpose. Written by John Day.Middleton and Decker wrote a comedy, of which she is the heroine. In this, they have given a very flattering representation of her, as they observe in their preface, that "it is the excellency of a writer, to leave things better than he finds them.”

The title of this piece isThe Roaring Girl, or Moll Cutpurse; as it hath been lately acted on the Fortune Stage, by the Prince his Players, 1611. The frontispiece to it contains a full length of her in man's clothes, smoking tobacco. Nathaniel

thou not go to church in a galliard, and come home in a coranto? My very walk should be a jig; I would

[ocr errors]

Field, in his Amends for Ladies, (another comedy, 1618) gives the following character of her:

Hence lewd impudent,
“ I know not what to term thee; man or woman;
“For nature, shaming to acknowledge thee
“For either, hath produc'd thee to the world
“ Without a sex: Some say, that thou art woman;
“ Others, a man: to many thou art both
“ Woman and man; but I think rather neither;

“ Or, man, or horse, as Centaurs old were feign'd.” A life of this woman was likewise published, 12mo. in 1662, with her portrait before it in a male habit; an ape, a lion, and an eagle by her. As this extraordinary personage appears to have partook of both sexes, the curtain which Sir Toby mentions would not have been unnecessarily drawn before such a picture of her as might have been exhibited in an age, of which neither too much delicacy nor decency was the characteristic.

Steerens. In our author's time, I believe, curtains were frequently hung before pictures of any value. So, in Vittoria, Corombona, a tragedy, by Webster, 1612: “ I yet but draw the curtain ;~now to your picture." Malone. See a further account of this woman in Dödsley's Collection of Old Plays, edit. 1780, Vol. VI, p. 1, Vol. XI!, p. 398. Reed.

Mary Frith was born in 1584, and died in 1659. In a MS. letter in the British Museum, from John Chamberlain to Mr. Carleton, dated Feb. 11, 1611. 12, the following account is given of this woman's doing penance: “ This last Sunday Moll Cutpurse, a notorious baggage that used to go in man's apparel, and challenged the field of diverse gallants, was brought to the same place, [St. Paul's Cross] where she wept bitterly, and seemed very penitent; but it is since doubted she was maudlin drunk, being discovered to have tippeld of three quarts of sack, before she came to her penance. She had the daintiest preacher or ghostly father that ever I saw in the pulpit, one Radcliffe of Brazen-Nose College in Oxford, a likelier man to have led the revels in some inn of court, than to be where he was. But the best is, he did extreme badly, and so wearied the audience, that the best part went away, and the rest tarried rather to hear Moll Cutpurse than him.” Malone.

It is for the sake of correcting a mistake of Dr. Grey, that I observe this is the character alluded to in the second of the fol. lowing lines; and not Mary Carleton, the German Princess, as he has very erroneously and únaccountably imagined:

A bold virago stout and tall,
As Joan of France, or English Mall.

Hudibras, P. I, c. ü.

« VorigeDoorgaan »