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Mam. No, my lord, I'll fight.
Leon. You will? why, happy man be his dole!"-My brother,
I meet with Shakspeare's phrase in a comedy, call'd A Match at Midnight, 1633:-"I shall have eggs for my money; I must hang myself." Steevens.
Leontes seems only to ask his son if he would fly from an enemy. In the following passage the phrase is evidently to be taken in that sense: "The French infantery skirmisheth bravely afarre off, and the cavallery gives a furious onset at the first charge; but after the first heat they will take eggs for their money." Relations of the most famous Kingdomes and Commonwealths thorowout the World, 4to. 1630, p. 154.
Mamillius's reply to his father's question appears so decisive as to the true explanation of this passage, that it leaves no doubt with me even after I have read the following note. The phrase undoubtedly sometimes means what Mr. Malone asserts, but not here. Reed.
This phrase seems to me to have meant originally,—Are you such a poltron as to suffer another to use you as he pleases, to compel you to give him your money and to accept of a thing of so small a value as a few eggs in exchange for it? This explanation appears to me perfectly consistent with the passage quoted by Mr. Reed. He, who will take eggs for money seems to be what, in As you Like it, and in many of the old plays, is called a tame snake. The following passage in Campion's History of Ireland, fol. 1633, fully confirms my explanation of this passage; and shows that by the words-Will you take eggs for money, was meant, Will you suffer yourself to be cajoled or imposed upon?" What my cousin Desmond hath compassed, as I know not, so I beshrew his naked heart for holding out so long.-But go to, suppose hee never bee had; what is Kildare to blame for it, more than my good brother of Ossory, who, notwithstanding his high promises, having also the king's power, is glad to take eggs for his money, and to bring him in at leisure."
These words make part of the defence of the Earl of Kildare, in answer to a charge brought against him by Cardinal Wolsey, that he had not been sufficiently active in endeavouring to take the Earl of Desmond, then in rebellion. In this passage, to take eggs for his money undoubtedly means, to be trifled with, or to be imposed upon. "Will you give
For money" means, in the place of money. me money, and take eggs instead of it?" Malone.
happy man be his dole!] May his dole or share in life be to be a happy man. Johnson.
The expression is proverbial. Dole was the term for the allowance of provision given to the poor, in great families. So, in Greene's Tu Quoque, 1614:
"Had the women puddings to their dole ?"
Are you so fond of your young prince, as we
So stands this squire
Offic'd with me; We two will walk, my lord,
And leave you to your graver steps.-Hermione,
Next to thyself, and my young rover, he's
If you would seek us,
We are yours i' the garden: Shall 's attend you there? Leon. To your own bents dispose you: you'll be found, Be you beneath the sky :-I am angling now,
Though you perceive me not how I give line.
Go to, go to!
[Aside. Observing PoL. and HER.
How she holds up the neb, the bill to him!
To her allowing husband!" Gone already;
Inch-thick, knee-deep; o'er head and ears a fork'd one.8 [Exeunt PoL. HER. and Attendants.
See p. 39, n. 9. Steevens.
poor by the Archbishops See The History of LamNichols.
The alms immemorially given to the of Canterbury, is still called the dole. beth Palace, p. 31, in Bibl. Top. Brit. 5 Apparent-] That is, heir apparent, or the next claimant. Johnson.
6 the neb,] The word is commonly pronounced and written nib. It signifies here the mouth. So, in Anne the Queen of Hungarie, being one of the Tales in Painter's Palace of Pleasure, 1566: the amorous wormes of love did bitterly gnawe and teare his heart wyth the nebs of their forked heads." Steevens.
7 To her allowing husband!] Allowing in old language is approving. Malone.
a fork'd one.] That is, a horned one; a cuckold. Johnson. So, in Othello:
"Even then this forked plague is fated to us,
Go, play, boy, play;-thy mother plays, and I
Or I am much deceiv'd, cuckolds ere now;
And many a man there is, even at this present,
Where 'tis predominant; and 'tis powerful, think it,
It will let in and out the enemy,
With bag and baggage: many a thousand of us
Mam. I am like you, they say.2
Why, that's some comfort.
Cam. Ay, my good lord.
Leon. Go play, Mamillius; thou 'rt an honest man.
Camillo, this great sir will yet stay longer.
even at this present,] i. e. present time. So, in Macbeth:
Thy letters have transported me beyond
"This ignorant present;".
See note on this passage; Act I, sc. v. Steevens.
1 And his pond fish'd by his next neighbour,] This metaphor perhaps owed its introduction and currency, to the once frequent depredations of neighbours on each others fish, a complaint that often occurs in ancient correspondence. Thus, in one of the Paston Letters, Vol. IV, p. 15: "My mother bade me send you word that Waryn Herman hath daily fished her water all this year." Steevens.
they say.] They, which was omitted in the original copy by the carelessness of the transcriber or printer, was added by the editor of the second folio. Malone.
Cam. You had much ado to make his anchor hold: When you cast out, it still came home.3
Didst note it?
Cam. He would not stay at your petitions; made His business more material.4
Leon. Didst perceive it?They're here with me already; whispering, rounding, Sicilia is a so-forth: 'Tis far gone,
3 it still came home.] This is a sea-faring expression, meaning, the anchor would not take hold. Steevens.
His business more material.] i. e. the more you requested him to stay, the more urgent he represented that business to be which summoned him away. Steevens.
5 They're here with me already;] Not Polixenes and Hermione, but casual observers, people accidentally present. Thirlby.
6 whispering, rounding,] To round in the ear, is to whisper, or to tell secretly. The expression is very copiously explained by M. Casaubon, in his book de Ling. Sax. Johnson.
The word is frequently used by Chaucer, as well as later writers. So, in Lingua, 1607: "I helped Herodotus to pen some part of his Muses; lent Pliny ink to write his history; and rounded Rabelais in the ear, when he historified Pantagruel." Again, in The Spanish Tragedy:
"Forthwith revenge she rounded me i' th' ear." Steevens. 7 Sicilia is a so-forth:] This was a phrase employed when the speaker, through caution or disgust, wished to escape the utterance of an obnoxious term. A commentator on Shakspeare will often derive more advantage from listening to vulgar than to polite conversation. At the corner of Fleet Market, I lately heard one woman, describing another, say-"Every body knows that her husband is a so-forth." As she spoke the last word, her fingers expressed the cinblem of cuckoldom. Mr. Malone readsSicilia is a-so-forth. Steevens.
In regulating this line, I have adopted a hint suggested by Mr. M. Mason. I have more than once observed, that almost every abrupt sentence in these plays is corrupted. These words without the break now introduced, are to me unintelligible. Leontes means-I think I already hear my courtiers whispering to each other, "Sicilia is a cuckold, a tame cuckold, to which (says he) they will add every other opprobrious name and epithet they can think of;" for such, I suppose, the meaning of the words-soforth. He avoids naming the word cuckold, from a horror of the very sound. I suspect, however, that our author wrote-Sicilia is-and so forth. So, in The Merchant of Venice: "I will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you, walk with you, and so following."
When I shall gust it last.-How came 't, Camillo,
At the good queen's entreaty.
Leon. At the queen's, be 't: good, should be pertinent: But so it is, it is not. Was this taken
By any understanding pate but thine?
For thy conceit is soaking, will draw in
Again, in Hamlet:
"I saw him enter such a house of sale,
Again, more appositely, in King Henry IV, P. II: with a dish of carraways, AND so forth."
Again, in Troilus and Cressida: "Is not birth, beauty, good shape, discourse, manhood, learning, AND so forth, the spice and salt that season a man?" Malone.
gust it ] i. e. taste it. Steevens.
"Dedecus ille domus sciet ultimus." Juv. Sat. X.
9 is soaking,] Dr. Grey would read-in soaking; but I think without necessity. Thy conceit is of an absorbent nature, will draw in more, &c. seems to be the meaning. Steevens.
- lower messes,] I believe, lower messes is only used as an expression to signify the lowest degree about the court. See Anstis. Ord. Gart. I, App. p. 15: "The earl of Surry began the borde in presence: the earl of Arundel washed with him, and sat both at the first messe." Formerly not only at every great man's table the visitants were placed according to their consequence or dignity, but with additional marks of inferiority, viz. of sitting below the great saltseller placed in the centre of the table, and of having coarser provisions set before them. The former custom is mentioned in The Honest Whore, by Decker, 1604: "Plague him; set him beneath the salt, and let him not touch a bit till every one has had his full cut." The latter was as much a subject of complaint in the time of Beaumont and Fletcher, as in that of Juvenal, as the following instance may prove :
"Uncut up pies at the nether end, filled with moss and stones, "Partly to make a shew with,
"And partly to keep the lower mess from eating."
Woman Hater, Act I, sc. ii. This passage may be yet somewhat differently explained. It appears from a passage in The merye Fest of a Man called Howleglas, bl. 1. no date, that it was anciently the custom in publick houses to keep ordinaries of different prices: "What table will you be at? for at the lordes table thei give me no less than to