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I have restored tickle from the folio. In rejecting pickle, I am supported by the context: for, who ever heard of pickled MUTTON : As a further proof, if (in support of a point established in reason, and beyond the reach of controversy) further proof be necessary, let me produce the adverbial epithet sweetly; for that which is pickled is never sweet, as the distinguishing property of a pickle is its power of extimulating on the palate a sensation of acidity.
To tickle one's mutton is a popular expression; and means, to punish by flagellation.
Dr. Johnson may be right: for in no one of the numerous Works upon Cookery, either antient or modern, which I have referred to, do I find the slightest mention of pickled mutton.
My inquiries into this important subject, though equally diligent in the prosecution, have been less successful in the result, than my investigation of that more delicate topic-STEWED PRUNES; which, I flatter myself, I have in another place) so fully, and so satisfactorily, discussed, as to set all further question upon the matter at rest.
See Note upon" stewed prunes.” Hen. IV. Part I.
Some of the modern editions read Peggy Perkins: but as the change was, most likely, unauthorised, and made merely for the sake of the alliteration, I follow the old copies.
(d) My coach-three thirty-five
This is an exquisite touch of nature. Ophelia is now wavering between sense and insanity: she calls, first, for one coach; and then for three hundred and thirty-five coaches.
This I allow to be an exquisite touch of nature : but, by the illustration which the Right Reverend bas attempted, its force is obstructed, and its beauty obscured. Three thirty-five is, evidently, the number of the HACKNEY-COACH which brought Ophelia to the palace. Here the poet has given an instance of his unbounded knowledge of human nature. In a short
interval of lucidity Ophelia calls for her coach; and then, regardless of the presence of the “ Majesty of Denmark,” she calls for it by its number, 335. This is madness pathetic and interesting: had she, as Dr. Warburton erroneously supposes, called for three hundred and thirty-five coaches, it would have been a representation of madness too terrific for exhibition on the stage. Madness is agreeable only until it becomes outrageous.
A word of doubtful etymology, synonimous with gammon.
Act II, Scene Ill.
(f)-Rope of onions
i. e. a
I do not understand this. May we not, with greater propriety, read, a robe of onions? fantastical garment ornamented with onions, in the same way as the dominos of masqueraders are sometimes studded with gingerbread-nuts-a dress such as Ophelia's phrensy might naturally suggest to her.
Rope is, undoubtedly, the true reading. A rope of onions is a certain number of onions, which, for the convenience of portability, are, by the market-women, suspended from a rope: not, as the Oxford editor ingeniously, but improperly, supposes, in a bunch at the end, but by a perpendicular arrangement.
For the hints afforded me in the formation of this note, and for those contained in the note upon pickled mutton, I am indebted to a lady celebrated at once for her literary acquirements and her culinary accomplishments.
To bring a rope of onions, 8c.
Let us suppose that Ophelia addresses this to the king, and we shall discover a peculiar propriety in its applica
tion. The king is represented as an intemperate drinker -Ophelia, who, doubtless, has some skill in uroscopy, applies this speech to the king, with reference to the diuertic quality of onions.-Verbum sapienti.
Should the concise manner in which I treat this subject expose me to the charge either of fastidious brevity or of delicacy of expression squeamishly refined, I trust that my celebrated note upon potatoes * (wherein I have so clearly and so minutely explained the various qualities of that invaluable plant) will be received in refutation, and that it will convince the world - that I want neither talent nor inclination to indulge in prurient description.
To mill is to whack, or to thump. See the Slang Dictionary, St. Giles's Edition.
The Billingsgate edition of the Slang Dictionary, which, in point of accuracy, I conceive to be the least exceptionable, explains it, to knuckle, or, to lather.
* See note upon “ potatoes,” and the useful and entertaining extract from GERARD's Herbal. TROILUS AND CRESSIDA, Act IV.