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ACT THE THIRD.
(a) Mad as butter in the sun. Amongst the popular superstitions is one, that butter is mad twice a year: viz. in summer, when its liquability renders it tenable only in a spoon; and in winter, when, by the adhesion of its parts, it almost resists the knife.
(6) Thou'lt sweetly tickle this young Jockey's
mutton. The quarto reads, and, I think, properly, pickle.
I have restored tickle from the folio. In rejecting pickle, I am supported by the context : for who ever heard of pi ckled MUTTON? As a further proof, if (in support of a point established in reason, and be.. yond the reach of controversy,) further proof be ne. cessary, let me produce the adverbial epithet sweeily; for that which is pickled is never sweet, as the dis. tinguishing property of a pickle is its power of exciting on the palate a sensation of acidity,
To ticklę one's mutton, is a popular expression; and means, to punish by flagellation.
Dr. Johnson muy be right: for in no one of the numerous Works upon Cookery, either ancient 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 “st:wed prunes,” IIEN. IV. Part I.
(c) Peggy Tomkins-Some of the modern editions read Peggy Perkins : but as the change was, most likely, unauthorized, and made merely for the sake of the alliteration, I follow the old copies.
(d) My coach-three thirty-fiveThis is an exquisite touch of nature. Ophelia is now wavering between sense and insavity : 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 has 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 na. ture. In a short interval of lucidity Ophelia calls for her coach ; and then, forgetful of the presence of the < Majesty of Denmark,” she calls for it by its number 335. This is madness pathetic and interest. ing: 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 out
(f) Rope of onionsI do not understand this. May we not, with greater propriety, read, a robe of onions ? i. e. a fantastical garment ornamented with onions, in the same way as masqueraders frequently wear a domino, studded with gingerbread nuts-a dress such as Ophe. lia's phrenzy might naturally suggest to her. .
Rope is undoubtedly the true reading. A rope of onions is a certain number of ovions, 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 in 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 for her culinary accomplishments.
To bring a rope of onions, &c.
Let us suppose that Ophelia addresses this to the king, and we shall discover a peculiar propriety in its application. The king is represented as an intemperate drinker-Ophelia seems to know that onions are a powerful diuretic. Verbum sapienti.
Should the concise manner in which I treat this subject, expose me to the charge either of decency, or of deficiency in the talent of definition, I trust that my note upon potatoes * (wherein I have so clearly and so minutely explained the virtues of that invaluable plant) will free me from both;
* See Note upon “ potatoes.” Act IV.
TROLUS AND Cressida.