Page images
PDF
EPUB

(Thus, leaning on mine elbow, I begin,)
I shall beseech you— That is question now;
And then comes answer like an ABC-book:
Osir, says answer, at your best command;
At your employment ; at your service, sir:
No, sir, says question; I, sweet sir, at yours:
And so, ere answer knows what question would,
(Saving in dialogue of compliment;1

with "picked and apparelled goodly-goodly and pickedly arrayed. -Licurgus, when he would have women of his country to be regarded by their virtue, and not their ornaments, banished out of the country, by the law, all painting, and commanded out of the town all crafty men of picking and apparelling.” Again, in a comedy called All Fools, by Chapman, 1602:

“ 'Tis such a picked fellow, not a haire

“ About his whole bulk, but it stands in print.” Again, in Love's Labour's Lost: He is too picked, too spruce," &c. Again, in Greene's Defence of Coney-catching, 1592, in the description of a pretended traveller: “There be in England, especially about London, certain quaint pickt, and neat companions, attired, &c. alamode de France," &c.

If a comma be placed after the word man,-"I catechise my picked man, of countries ;" the passage will seem to mean, “ I catechise my selected man, about the countries through which he travelled.” Steevens.

The last interpretation of picked, offered by Mr. Steevens, is undoubtedly the true one. So, in Wilson's Arte of Rhetorique, 1553: ".

such riot, dicyng, cardyng, pyking,” &c. Piked or picked, (for the word is variously spelt) in the writings of our author and his contemporaries, generally means, spruce, affected, effeminate.

See also Minshieu's Dict. 1617: To picke or trimme. Vid. Trimme.Malone My picked man of countries is-my travelled fop. H. White.

like an ABC-book:] An ABC-book, or, as they spoke and wrote it, an absey-book is a catechism. Johnson. So, in the ancient Interlude of Youth, bl. 1. no date:

“ In the A. B. C. of bokes the least,

Yt is written, deus charitas est." Again, in Tho. Nash's dedication to Greene's Arcadia, 1616:

- make a patrimony of In speech, and more than a younger brother's inheritance of their Abcie.Steevens. 1 And so, ere answer knows what question would,

(Saving in dialogue of compliment;] Sir W. Cornwallis's 28th Essay thus ridicules the extravagance of compliment in our poet's days, 1601 : “ We spend even at his (i. e. a friend's or a stranger's) entrance, a whole volume of words.- What a deal of synamon and ginger is sacrificed to dissimulation! 0, how blessed do I

9

And talking of the Alps, and Apennines,
The Pyrenean, and the river Po,)
It draws toward supper in conclusion so.
But this is worshipful society,
And fits the mounting spirit, like myself:
For he is but a bastard to the time, 2
That doth not smack of observation;
(And so am I, whether I smack, or no;)
And not alone in habit and device,
Exterior form, outward accoutrement;
But from the inward motion to deliver
Sweet, sweet, sweet poison for the age's tooth:
Which, though3 I will not practise to deceive,
Yet, to avoid deceit, I mean to learn;
For it shall strew the footsteps of my rising.-
But who comes* in such haste, in riding robes ?
What woman-post is this? hath she no husband,
That will take pains to blow a horns before her?

Enter Lady FaulCONBRIDGE and JAMES GURNEY.6 O me! it is my mother:—How now good lady? What brings you here to court so hastily?

Lady F. Where is that slave, thy brother? where is he?

take mine eyes for presenting me with this sight! 0 Signior, the star that governs my life in contentment, give me leave to interre myself in your arms! -Not so, sir, it is too unworthy an inclosure to contain such preciousness, &c. &c. This, and a cup of drink, makes the time as fit for a departure as can be.” Tollet.

2 For he is but a bastard to the time, &c.] He is accounted but a mean man in the present age, who does not shew by his dress, his deportment, and his talk, that he has travelled, and made observations in foreign countries. The old copy in the next line reads-smoak. Corrected by Mr. Theobald. Malone.

3 Which, though - ] The construction will be mended, if, instead of which though, we read this though. Johnson.

4 But who comes -) Milton, in his tragedy, introduces Dali. lah with such an interrogatory exclamation. Fohnson.

to blow a horn -] He means, that a woman who tra. velled about like a post, was likely to horn her husband. Johnson.

Fames Gurney.] Our author found this name in perusing the history of King John, who not long before his victory at Mirabeau, over the French, headed by young Arthur, seized the lands and castle of Hugh Gorney, near Butevant, in Normandy.

Malone.

5

6

That holds in chase mine honour up and down?

Bast. My brother Robert? old sir Robert's son?
Colbrand? the giant, that same mighty man?
Is it sir Robert's son, that you seek so?

Lady F. Sir Robert's son! Ay, thou unreverend boy,
Sir Robert's son: Why scorn'st thou at sir Robert?
He is sir Robert's son; and so art thou

Bast. James Gurney, wilt thou give us leave a while ?
Gur. Good leave,8 good Philip.
Bast.

Philip-sparrow!9-James,
There 's toys abroad;? anon I 'll tell thee more.

[Exit Gur.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

7 Colbrand - ] Colbrand was a Danish giant, whom Guy of Warwick discomfited in the presence of King Athelstan. The combat is very pompously described by Drayton, in his Polyolbion. Fohnson.

Colbrond is also mentioned in the old romance of The Squyr of Lowe Degre, sig. a. iii:

“Or els so doughty of my honde

“ As was the gyaunte syr Colbronde.Steevens.
8 Good leave, &c.] Good leave means a ready assent. So, in King
Henry VI, P. III, Act III, sc. ii:

K. Edw. Lords, give us leave: I'll try this widow's wit.
Glo. Ay, good leave have you, for you will have leave."

Steevens.
9 Philip?-sparrow'] Dr. Grey observes, that Skelton has a
poem to the memory of Philip Sparrow; and Mr. Pope, in a
short note, remarks that a sparrow is called Philip. Johnson.

Gascoigne has likewise a poem, entitled The Praise of Phil Sparrow; and in Fack Drum's Entertainment, 1601, is the following passage:

“The birds sit chirping, chirping, &c.

Philip is treading, treading,” &c. Again, in The Northern Lass, 1633:

“ A bird whose pastime made me glad,

" And Philip 'twas my sparrow.Again, in Magnificence, an ancient interlude, by Skelton, pub. lished by Rastell:

"With me in kepynge such a Phylyp Sparowe.Steevens. The Bastard means : Philip! Do you take me for a sparrow?

Hawkins. 1 There's toys abroad; &c.] i.e. rumours, idle reports. So, in Ben Jonson's Sejanus :

Toys, mere toys, " What wisdom's in the streets." Again, in a postscript of a letter from the Countess of Essex to Dr. Forman, in relation to the trial of Anne Turner, for the

Madam, I was not old sir Robert's son;
Sir Robert might have eat his part in me
Upon Good-friday, and ne'er broke his fast:
Sir Robert could do well; Marry, (to confess!)s
Could he get me? Sir Robert could not do it;
We know his handy-work:—Therefore, good mother,
To whom am I beholden for these limbs?
Sir Robert never holp to make this leg.

Lady F. Hast thou conspired with thy brother too, That for thine own gain should'st defend mine 'honour? What means this scorn, thou most untoward knave?

Bast. Knight, knight, good mother,—Basilisco-like:*

2

3

murder of Sir Thomas Overbury: " - they may tell my father and mother, and fill their ears full of toys.State Trials, Vol. I, p. 322. Steevens.

might have eat his part in me Upon Good-friday, and ne'er broke his fast:) This thought occurs in Heywood's Dialogues upon Proverbs, 1562:

he may his parte on good Fridaie eate,
“ And fast never the wurs, for ought he shall geate.”

Steevens. (to confess!)] Mr. M. Mason regards the adverb to as an error of the press: but I rather think, to confess, means-to come to confession. “ But, to come to a fair confession now, (says the Bastard) could he have been the instrument of my production?” Steevens.

4 Knight, knight, good mother,–Basilisco-like:) Thus must this passage be pointed; and, to come at the humour of it, I must clear up an old circumstance of stage-history. Faulconbridge's words here carry a concealed piece of satire on a stupid drama of that age, printed in 1599, and called Soliman and Perseda. In this piece there is a character of a bragging cowardly knight, called Basilisco. His pretension to valour is so blown, and seen through, that Piston, a buffoon-servant in the play, jumps upon his back, and will not disengage him, till hė makes Basilisco swear upon his dudgeon dagger to the contents, and in the terms he dictates to him; as, for instance:

Bas. O, I swear, Pist. By the contents of this blade,Bas. By the contents of this blade, Pist. I, the aforesaid Basilisco,Bas. I, the aforesaid Basilisco,-knight, good fellow, knight. S Pist. Knave, good fellow, knave, knave."

So that, it is clear, our poet is sneering at this play; and makes Philip, when his mother calls him knave, throw off that reproach by humorously laving claim to his new dignity of knighthood; as Basilisco arrogantly insists on his title of knight, in the

swear.

What! I am dubb'd; I have it on my shoulder.
But, mother, I am not sir Robert's son;
I have disclaim'd sir Robert, and my land;
Legitimation, name, and all is gone:
Then, good my mother, let me know

my

father, Some proper man, I hope; Who was it, mother:

Lady F. Hast thou denied thyself a Faulconbridgı? Bast. As faithfully as I deny the devil.

Lady F. King Richard Coeur-de-lion was thy father,
By long and vehement suit I was seduc'd
To make room for him in my husband's bed:
Heaven lay not my transgression to my charge!
Thou arts the issue of my dear offence,
Which was so strongly urg'd, past my defence.

Bast. Now, by this light, were I to get again,
Madam, I would not wish a better father.
Some sins6 do bear their privilege on earth,
And so doth yours; your fault was not your folly:
Needs must you lay your heart at his dispose,–
Subjected tribute to commanding love,
Against whose fury and unmatched force
The awless lion could not wage the fight,
Nor keep his princely heart from Richard's hand.
He, that perforce robs lions of their hearts,
May easily win a woman's. Ay, my mother,

7

passage above quoted. The old play is an execrable bad one; and, I suppose, was sufficiently exploded in the representation: which might make this circumstance so well known, as to be come the butt for a stage-sarcasm. Theobald. 5 Thou art -] Old copy-That art. Corrected by Mr. Rowe.

Malone. 6 Some sins - ] There are sins, that whatever be determined of them above, are not much censured on earth. Johnson. 7 Needs must you lay your heart at his dispose, Against whose fury and unmatched force

The awless lion could not wage the fight, &c.] Shakspeare here alludes to the old metrical romance of Richard Cậur-de-lion, wherein this once celebrated monarch is related to have acquired his distinguishing appellation, by having plucked out a lion's heart, to whose fury he was exposed by the Duke of Austria, for having slain his son with a blow of his fist. From this ancient romance the story has crept into some of our old chroni. eles : but the original passage may be seen at large in the introduction to the third volume of Reliques of ancient English Poetry. VOL. VII.

Percy.

сс

« PreviousContinue »