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Be she as foul as was Florentius' love,'
As old as Sybil, and as curst and shrewd
8 (As wealth is burthen of my wooing dance)] The burthen of a dance is an expression which I have never heard; the burthen of his wooing song had been more proper. Johnson.
9 Be she as foul as was Florentius' love,] I suppose this alludes to the story of a Florentine, which is met with in the eleventh Book of Thomas Lupton's Thousand Notable Things, and perhaps in other collections:
"39. A Florentine young gentleman was so deceived by the lustre and orientness of her jewels, pearls, rings, lawns, scarfes, laces, gold spangles, and other gaudy devices, that he was ravished overnight, and was mad till the marriage was solemnized. But next morning by light viewing her before she was so gorgeously trim'd up, she was such a leane, yellow, riveled, deformed creature, that he never lay with her, nor lived with her afterwards; and would say that he had married himself to a stinking house of office, painted over, and set out with fine garments: and so for grief consumed away in melancholy, and at last poysoned himself. Gomesius, Lib. 3, de Sal. Gen. cap. 22." Farmer. The allusion is to a story told by Gower in the first Book De Confessione Amantis. Florent is the name of a knight who had bound himself to marry a deformed hag, provided she taught him the solution of a riddle on which his life depended. The following is the description of her:
Florent his wofull heed up lifte,
"And saw this vecke, where that she sit,
"Hir necke is shorte, hir shulders courbe,
"But like unto the woll sacke :" &c.
"Though she be the fouleste of all," &c.
This story might have been borrowed by Gower from an older narrative in the Gesta Romanorum. See the Introductory Discourse to The Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edition, Vol. IV, p. 153. Steevens.
As Socrates' Xantippe, or a worse,
She moves me not, or not removes, at least,
I come, to wive it wealthily in Padua;
Gru. Nay, look you, sir, he tells you flatly what his mind is: Why, give him gold enough and marry him to a puppet, or an aglet-baby;2 or an old trot with ne'er a tooth in her head, though she have as many diseases as two and fifty horses: 3 why, nothing comes amiss, so money comes withal.
Hor. Petruchio, since we have stepp'd thus far in, I will continue that I broach'd in jest.
I can, Petruchio, help thee to a wife
With wealth enough, and young, and beauteous;
And shrewd, and froward; so beyond all measure,
1 were she as rough-] The old copy reads were she is as rough. Corrected by the editor of the second folio. Malone. aglet-baby;] i. e. a diminutive being, not exceeding in size the tag of a point.
So, in Feronimo, 1605:
And all those stars that gaze upon her face,
"Are aglets on her sleeve-pins and her train." Steevens. An aglet-baby was a small image or head cut on the tag of a point, or lace. That such figures were sometimes appended to them, Dr. Warburton has proved, by a passage in Mezeray, the French historian::-"portant meme sur les aiguillettes [points] des petites tetes de mort." Malone.
as many diseases as two and fifty horses:] I suspect this passage to be corrupt, though I know not how to rectify it.-The fifty diseases of a horse seem to have been proverbial. So, in The Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608: "O stumbling jade! the spavin o'ertake thee! the fifty diseases stop thee!" Malone.
4 (and that is faults enough)] And that one is itself a host of faults. The editor of the second folio, who has been copied by all the subsequent editors, unnecessarily reads-and that is fault enough. Malone.
shrewd,] Here means, having the qualities of a shrew. The adjective is now used only in the sense of acute, intelligent.
That, were my state far worser than it is,
Pet. Hortensio, peace; thou know'st not gold's effect:
Tell me her father's name, and 'tis enough;
An affable and courteous gentleman:
Renown'd in Padua for her scolding tongue.
Gru. I pray you, sir, let him go while the humour lasts. O' my word, an she knew him as well as I do, she would think scolding would do little good upon him: She may, perhaps, call him half a score knaves, or so: why, that 's nothing; an he begin once, he 'll rail in his rope-tricks. I'll tell you what, sir,-an she stand him?
I believe shrewd only signifies bitter, severe. So, in As you Like it, sc. ult: "That have endur'd shrewd days and nights with us."
る an he begin once, he'll rail in his rope-tricks.] This is obscure. Sir Thomas Hanmer reads-he'll rail in his rhetorick; I'll tell you, &c. Rhetorick agrees very well with figure in the
succeeding part of the speech, yet I am inclined to believe that
rope-tricks is the true word. Johnson.
In Romeo and Juliet, Shakspeare uses ropery for therefore certainly wrote rope-tricks.
Rope-tricks we may suppose to mean tricks of which the contriver would deserve the rope. Steevens.
Rope-tricks is certainly right.-Ropery or rope-tricks originally signified abusive language, without any determinate idea; such language as parrots are taught to speak. So, in Hudibras: "Could tell what subt'lest parrots mean, "That speak, and think contrary clean; "What member 'tis of whom they talk,
"When they cry rope, and walk, knave walk."
The following passage in Wilson's Arte of Rhetorique, 1553, shews that this was the meaning of the term: "Another good YOL. VI.
but a little, he will throw a figure in her face, and so
He hath the jewel of my life in hold,
(For those defects I have before rehears'd)
fellow in the countrey, being an officer and maiour of a toune, and desirous to speak like a fine learned man, having just occasion to rebuke a runnegate fellow, said after this wise in great heate: Thou yngram and vacation knave, if I take thee any more within the circumcision of my damnacion, I will so corrupte thee that all vacation knaves shall take ill sample by thee." So, in May-day, a comedy, by Chapman, 1611: "Lord! how you roll in your rope-ripe terms." Malone.
stand him—] i. e. withstand, resist him. Steevens.
that she shall have no more eyes to see withal than a cat:] The humour of this passage I do not understand. This animal is remarkable for the keenness of its sight. In The Castell of Laboure, however, printed by Wynkyn de Worde, 1506, is the following line: "That was as blereyed as a cat."
There are two proverbs which, any reader who can, may apply to this allusion of Grumio:
"Well might the cat wink when both her eyes were out." "A muffled cat was never a good hunter."
The first is in Ray's Collection, the second in Kelly's. Steevens. It may mean, that he shall swell up her eyes with blows, till she shall seem to peep with a contracted pupil, like a cat in the light. Johnson.
in Baptista's keep-] Keep is custody. The strongest part of an ancient castle was called the keep. Steevens.
1 And her withholds &c.] It stood thus:
And her withholds from me,
Other more suitors to her, and rivals in my love, &c. The regulation which I have given to the text, was dictated to me by the ingenious Dr. Thirlby. Theobald.
2 Therefore this order hath Baptista taʼen ;] To take order is to take measures. So, in Othello:
"Honest Iago hath ta'en order for it." Steevens.
Till Katharine the curst have got a husband.
A title for a maid, of all titles the worst.
Hor. Now shall my friend Petruchio do me grace; And offer me, disguis'd in sober robes,
To old Baptista as a schoolmaster
Well seen in musick, to instruct Bianca:
That so I may by this device, at least,
Have leave and leisure to make love to her,
Enter GREMIO; with him LUCENTIO disguised, with books under his arm.
Gru. Here's no knavery! See; to beguile the old folks, how the young folks lay their heads together! Master, master, look about you: Who goes there? ha! Hor. Peace, Grumio; 'tis the rival of my love:Petruchio, stand by a while.
Gru. A proper stripling, and an amorous! [They retire.
And see you read no other lectures to her:
Signior Baptista's liberality,
I'll mend it with a largess:-Take your papers too,
To whom they go.5 What will you read to her?
3 Well seen in musick,] Seen is versed, practised. So, in a very ancient comedy called The longer thou livest the more Fool thou art:
"Sum would have you seen in stories,
"Sum to feates of arms will you allure, &c.
Marry, I would have you seene in cardes and dise."
Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. IV, c. ii:
Again, in Chapman's version of the 19th Iliad:
"Well seene in every science that mote bee."
"Seven ladies excellently seen in all Minerva's skill."
at any hand;] i. e. at all events. So, in All's well that
let him fetch off his drum, in any hand." Steevens.