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Broomstick is certainly right. The allusion is to an antient custom noticed in Quiz'em's Chronicles, printed by Stephen Typpe, at the Sign of the Catte and Fiddelle, London, 1598, bl. let. and entered in the books of the Stationers' Company, November 1598.
" — And ye Bryde and ye Brydegroome, not
handyely fyndeing a Parson, and being in grievous “ hayst to bee wed; they did take a Broome-stycke, and “they did jumpe from one syde of ye Broome-stycke over “ to ye other syde thereof; and haveing so done, they “ did thinke them lawfulle Man and Wyffe.”
ACT THE THIRD.
-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, no longer intenerate, by its inflexible viscosity, it obstinately 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 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 Aatter 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.
(c)— Peggy Tomkins
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 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 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.
“ None of your blarney ; it won't do to-night.”
Act II, Scene III.