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shoot at me; and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder, and call'd Adam..
D. Pedro. Well, as time shall try:
“ Fairer than any stake in Greys-inn field, &c.
“ Of bow-men bold, which at a cat do shoot." Again, Ibid:
“ Nor at the top a cat-a-mount was fram'd,
“ To have his name canoniz'd in the clout.” The foregoing quotations may serve to throw some light on Benedick's allusion. They prove, however, that it was the custom to shoot at factitious as well as real cats. Steevens.
This practice is still kept up at Kelso, in Scotland, where it is called-Cat-in-barrel. See a description of the whole ceremony in a little account of the town of Kelso, published in 1789, by one Ebenezer Lazarus, a silly Methodist, who has interlarded his book with scraps of pious and other poetry. Speaking of this sport, he says:
- The cat in the barrel exhibits such a farce,
- and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder, and calld Adam.] But why should he therefore be called Adam? Perhaps, by a quotation or two we may be able to trace the poet's allusion here. In Law- Tricks, or, Who would have thought it, (a comedy written by John Day, and printed in 1608) I find this speech: “ Adam Bell, a substantial outlaw, and a passing good archer, yet no tobacconist.” By this it appears, that Adam Bell at that time of day was of reputation for his skill at the bow. I find him again mentioned in a burlesque poem of Sir William D'Avenants, called The Long Vacation in London. Theobald.
Adam Bel, Clym of the Cloughe, and Wyllyam of Cloudesle, were, says Dr. Percy, three noted outlaws, whose skill in Archery, rendered them formerly as famous in the North of England, as Robin Hood and his fellows were in the midland counties. Their place of residence was in the forest of Englewood, not far from Carlisle. At wbat time they lived does not appear. The author of the common ballads on The Pedigree, Education, and Marriage of Robin Hood, makes them contemporary with Robin Hood's father, in order to give him the honour of beating them. See Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, vol. I, p. 143, where the ballad outlaws is preserved. Steevens.
1 In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.] This line is from The Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronymo, &c. and occurs also, with a slight variation, in Watson's Sonnets, 4to. bl. 1. printed in 1581. See note on the last edition of Dodsley's Old Plays, Vol. XII, p. 387. Steevens.
Bene. The savage bull may; but if ever the sensible Benedick bear it, pluck off the bull's horns, and set them in my forehead: and let me be vilely painted; and in such great letters as they write, Here is good horse to hire, let them signify under my sign,—Here you may see Benedick the married man.
Claud. If this should ever happen, thou would'st be horn-mad.
D. Pedro. Nay, if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice,2 thou wilt quake for this shortly.
Bene. I look for an earthquake too then.
D. Pedro. Well, you will temporize with the hours. In the mean time, good signior Benedick, repair to Leonato's; commend me to him, and tell him, I will not fail him at supper; for, indeed, he hath made great preparation.
Bene. I have almost matter enough in me for such an embassage; and so I commit you
Claud. To the tuition of God: From my house (if I had it)
D. Pedro. The sixth of July: Your loving friend, Benedick.
Bene. Nay, mock not, mock not: The body of your discourse is sometime guarded with fragments,3 and the guards are but slightly basted on neither: ere you flout old ends any further, 4 examine your conscience; and so
I leave you.
The Spanish Tragedy was printed and acted before 1593.
Malone. It may be proved that The Spanish Tragedy had at least been written before 1562. Steevens.
2 — if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice,]. All modern writers agree in representing Venice in the same light as the ancients did Cyprus. And it is this character of the people that is here alluded to. Warburton.
3 —guarded with fragments,] Guards were ornamental lace or borders. So, in The Merchant of Venice:
-give him a livery “More guarded than his fellows." Again, in Henry IV, P. I:
velvet guards, and Sunday citizens.” Steevens.
ere you flout old ends &c.] Before you endeavour to distinguish yourself any more by antiquated allusions, examine whether you
Claud. My liege, your highness now may do me good.
D. Pedro. My love is thine to teach; teach it but how, And thou shalt see how apt it is to learn Any hard lesson that may do thee good.
Claud. Hath Leonato any son, my lord?
D. Pedro. No child but Hero, she's his only heir:
O my lord,
can fairly claim them for your own. This, I think, is the meaning; or it may be understood in another sense, examine, if pour sarcasms do not touch yourself. Johnson.
The ridicule here is to the formal conclusions of Epistles dedi. catory and Letters. Barnaby Googe thus ends his dedication to the first edition of Palingenius, 12mo. 1560: “ And thus committyng your Ladiship with all yours to the tuicion of the moste mer. cifull God, I ende. From Staple Inne at London, the eighte and twenty of March.” The practice had however become obsolete in Shakspeare's time. In A Poste with a packet of mad Letters, by Nicholas Breton, 4to. 1607; I find a Letter ending in this manner, entitled, “ A letter to laugh at after the old fashion of love to a Maide.” Reed.
Dr. Johnson's latter explanation is, I believe, the true one. By old ends the speaker may mean the conclusion of letters commonly used in Shakspeare's time; “ From my house this sixth of July,” &c. So, in the conclusion of a letter which our author supposes Lucrece to write:
“So I commend me from our house in grief;
“ My woes are tedious, though my words are brief.” See The Rape of Lucrece, p. 547, edit. 1780, and the note there.
Old ends, however, may refer to the quotation that D. Pedro had made from The Spanish Tragedy. “Ere you attack me on the subject of love, with fragments of old plays, examine whether you are yourself free from its power.” So, King Richard:
s With odd old ends, stol’n forth of holy writ.” This kind of conclusion to letters was not obsolete in our au. thor's time, as has been suggested. Michael Drayton concludes one of his letters to Drummond of Hawthornden, in 1619, thus : “ And so wishing you all happiness, I commend you to God's tuition, and rest your assured friend.” So also, Lord Salisbury concludes a letter to Sir Ralph Winwood, April 7th, 1610: “ — And so I commit you to God's protection.”
Winwood's Memorials, III, 147. Malone.
Have left their places vacant, in their rooms
D. Pedro. Thou wilt be like a lover presently,
Claud. How sweetly do you minister to love,
5 The fairest grant is the necessity:] i. e. no one can have a better reason for granting a request than the necessity of its being granted. Warburton. Mr. Hayley with great acuteness proposes to read,
The fairest grant is to necessity. Steevens. These words cannot imply the sense that Warburton contends for; but if we suppose that grant means concession, the sense is obvious; and that is no uncommon acceptation of that word.
M. Mason. 'tis once, thou lov'st;] This phrase, with concomitant obscurity, appears in other dramas of our author, viz. The Merry Wives of Windsor, and K. Henry VIII. In The Comedy of Errors, it stands as follows:
“ Once this Your long experience of her wisdom,” &c. Balthasar is speaking to the Ephesian Antipholis.
Once may therefore mean “ once for all,”—“'tis enough to say at once." Steevens.
Once has here, I believe, the force of-once for all. So, in Coriolanus : “ Once, if he do require our voices, we ought not to de. ny him." Malone.
Then, after, to her father will I break;
A Room in LEONATO's House.
Enter LEONATO 'and ANTONIO. Leon. How now, brother? Where is my cousin, your son? Hath he provided this musick?
Ant. He is very busy about it. But, brother, I can tell you strange news7 that you yet dream'd not of.
Leon. Are they good?
Ant. As the event stamps them; but they have a good cover, they show well outward. The prince and Count Claudio, walking in a thick-pleached alley 8 in my orchard, were thus much overheard by a man of mine: The prince discovered to Claudio, that he loved my niece your daughter, and meant to acknowledge it this night in a dance; and, if he found her accordant, he meant to take the present time by the top, and instantly break with you of it.
Leon. Hath the fellow any wit, that told you this?
Ant. A good sharp fellow; I will send for him, and question him yourself.
Leon. No, no; we will hold it as a dream, till it appear itself:--but I will acquaint my daughter withal, that she may be the better prepared for an answer, if peradventure this be true. Go you, and tell her of it. [Several persons cross the stage] Cousins, you know
- strange news -] Thus the quarto, 1600. The folio omits the epithet, which indeed is of little value. Steevens.
- a thick-pleached alley -] Thick-pleached is thickly interwoven. So afterwards, Act III, sc. i:
bid her steal into the pleached bower.” Again, in King Henry V:
her hedges even-pleach'd —.” Steevens. 9 Cousins, you know -]--and afterwards, good cousins,] Cousins were anciently enrolled among the dependants, if not the domesticks, of great families, such as that of Leonato. Petruchio, while intent on the subjection of Katharine, calls out, in terms imperative, for his cousin Ferdinand. Steevens.