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If thou kill'st me, boy, thou shalt kill a man.
Ant. He shall kill two of us, and men indeed:1 But that's no matter; let him kill one first;Win me and wear me,-let him answer me:Come, follow me, boy; come, boy, follow me:? Sir boy, I'll whip you from your foining fence ;3 Nay, as I am a gentleman, I will.
Ant. Content yourself; God knows, I lov’d my niece; And she is dead, slander'd to death by villains; That dare as well answer a man, indeed, As I dare take a serpent by the tongue: Boys, apes, braggarts, Jacks, milksops! Leon.
mean to put off which is the very sense required here, and what Leonato would reply, upon Claudio's saying, he would have no. thing to do with him. Theobald.
Theobald has well interpreted the word. Shakspeare uses it more than once. Thus, in King Henry IV, P. I:
“ The nimble-footed mad-cap Prince of Wales,
“ And his comrades, that daf'd the world aside." Again, in the comedy before us :
“ I would have daff'd all other respects,” &c. Again, in The Lover's Complaint:
“ There my white stole of chastity I daf'd.” It is perhaps of Scottish origin, as I find it in Ane verie excellent and delectabill Treatise intitulit PHILOTUS, &c. Edinburgh, 1603:
“ Their daffing does us so undo.” Steevens. 1 Ant. He shall kill two of us, &c.] This brother Antony is the truest picture imaginable of human nature. He had assumed the character of a sage to comfort his brother, overwhelmed with grief for his only daughter's affront and dishonour; and had severely reproved him for not commanding his passion better on so trying an occasion. Yet, immediately after this, no sooner does he begin to suspect that his age and valour are slighted, but he falls into the most intemperate fit of rage himself: and all he can do or say is not of power to pacify him. This is copying nature with a penetration and exactness of judgment peculiar to Shak. speare. As to the expression, too, of his passion, nothing can be more highly painted. Warburton. come, boy, follow me:
ze:] Here the old copies destroy the measure by reading
come, sir boy, come, follow me:” I have omitted the unnecessary words. Steevens.
foining fence;] Foining is a term in fencing, and means thrusting. Douce.
Ant. Hold you content; What, man! I know them, yea,
Leon. But, brother Antony, -
Come, 'tis no matter;
patience.6 My heart is sorry for your daughter's death; But, on my honour, she was charg'd with nothing
4 Scambling,] i. e. scrambling. The word is more than once used by Shakspeare. See Dr. Percy's note on the first speech of the play of K. Henry V, and likewise the Scots proverb, “ It is well kend your father's son was never a scambler.” A scambler in its literal sense, is one who goes about among his friends to get a dinner, by the Irish called a cosherer.” Steevens.
-show outward hideousness,] i. e. what in King Henry V, Act III, sc. vi, is called
- a horrid suit of the camp.” Steevens.
we will not wake your patience.] This conveys a senti. ment that the speaker would by no means have implied,- That the patience of the two old men was not exercised, but asleep, which upbraids them for insensibility under their wrong. Shakspeare must have wrote:
- we will not wrack i. e. destroy your patience by tantalizing you. Warburton.
This emendation is very specious, and perhaps is right; yet the present reading may admit a congruous meaning with less diffi. culty than many other of Shakspeare's expressions.
The old men have been both very angry and outrageous; the prince tells them that he and Claudio will not wake their patience ; will not any longer force them to endure the presence of those whom, though they look on them as enemies, they cannot resist.
Johnson. Wake, I believe, is the original word. The ferocity of wild beasts is overcome by not suffering them to sleep. We will not wake your patience, therefore means, we will forbear any further provocation. Henley. The same phrase occurs in Othello:
“ Thou hadst been better have been born a dog,
But what was true, and very full of proof.
Leon. My lord, my lord, —
I will not hear you.
No? Brother away:7-I will be heard; Ant.
And shall, Or some of us will smart for it.
[Exeunt Leon. and ANT.
Enter BENEDICK. D. Pedro. See, see; here comes the man we went to
seek. Claud. Now, signior! what news? Bene. Good day, my lord.
D. Pedro. Welcome, signior: You are almost come to part almost 8 a fray.
Claud. We had like to have had our two noses snapped off with two old men without teeth.
D. Pedro. Leonato and his brother: What think'st thou? Had we fought, I doubt, we should have been too young for them.
Bene. In a false quarrel there is no true valour. I came to seek you both.
Claud. We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are high-proof melancholy, and would fain have it beaten away: Wilt thou use thy wit?
Bene. It is in my scabbard; Shall I draw it?
Claud. Never any did so, though very many have been beside their wit.--I will bid thee draw, as we do the minstrels;o draw, to pleasure us.
7 Brother, away:-] The old copies, without regard to metre, read-Come, brother, away, &c. I have omitted the useless and redundant word-come. Steevens.
- to part almost -] This second almost appears like a ca. sual insertion of the compositor. As the sense is complete with out it, I wish the omission of it had been licensed by either of the ancient copies. Steevens.
9 I will bid thee draw, as we do the minstrels ;] An allusion perhaps to the itinerant sword-dancers. In what low estimation minstrels, were held in the reign of Elizabeth, may be seen from Stat. Eliz. 39, C. iv, and the term was probably used to denote any sort of vagabonds who amused the people at particular seasons.
D. Pedro. As I am an honest man, he looks pale:Art thou sick, or angry?
Claud. What! courage, man! What though care kill'd a cat, thou hast mettle enough in thee to kill care.
Bene. Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, an you charge it against me:
-I pray you, choose another subject.
Claud. Nay, then give him another staff; this last was broke cross.?
D. Pedro. By this light, he changes more and more; I think, he be
indeed. Claud. If he be, he knows how to turn his girdle.3 Bene. Shall I speak a word in your ear? Claud. God bless me from a challenge!
Bene. You are a villain ;-I jest not:- I will make it good how you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare:-Do me right,“ or I will protest your cowardice.
1 What though care kill'd a cat,] This is a proverbial expression. See Ray's Proverbs. Douce.
Nay, then give him another staf; &c.] An allusion to tilting. See note, As you Like it, Act III, sc. iv. Warburton.
- to turn his girdle.) We have a proverbial speech, If he be angry, let him turn the buckle of his girdle. But I do not know its original or meaning. Fohnson.
A corresponding expression is to this day used in Ireland If he be
angry, let him tie up his brogues. Neither proverb, I believe, has any other meaning than this : If he is in a bad humour, let him employ himself till he is in a better.
Dr. Farmer furnishes me with an instance of this proverbial expression as used by Claudio, from Winwood's Memorials, fol. edit. 1725, Vol. I, p. 453. See letter from Winwood to Cecyll, from Paris, 1602, about an affront he received there from an Englishman: “I said what I spake was not to make him angry. He replied, If I were angry, I might turn the buckle of my girdle behind me.” So likewise, Cowley On the Government of Oliver Cromwell: ". The next month he swears by the living God, that he will turn them out of doors, and he does so in his princely way of threatening, bidding them turne the buckles of their girdles behind them.” Steevens.
Again, in Knavery in all Trades, or the Coffee House, 1664, sign. E: "Nay, if the gentleman be angry, let him turn the buckles of his girdle behind him. Reed.
Large belts were worn with the buckle before, but for wrestling the buckle was turned behind, to give the adversary a fairer grasp at the girdle. To turn the buckle behind, therefore, was a challenge. H. White.
You have kill’d a sweet lady, and her death shall fall heavy on you: Let me hear from you.
Claud. Well, I will meet you, so I may have good cheer. D. Pedro. What, a feast? a feast?
Claud. l' faith, I thank him; he hath bids me to a calf's-head and a capon; the which if I do not carve most curiously, say, my knife's naught.—Shall I not find a woodcock too? 6
Bene. Sir, your wit ambles well; it goes easily.
D. Pedro. I'll tell thee how Beatrice prais'd thy wit the other day: I said, thou hadst a fine wit; True, says she, a fine little one: No, said I, a great wit; Right, says she, a great gross one: Nay; said I, a good wit; Just, said she, it hurts no body: Nay, said I, the gentleman is wise ; Certain, said she, a wise gentleman:? Nay, said I, he hath the tongues; That I believe, said she, for he swore a thing to me on Monday night, which he forswore on Tuesday morning; there's a double tongue, there's two tongues. Thus did she, an hour together, trans-shape thy particular virtues; yet, at last, she concluded with a sigh, thou wast the properest man in Italy.
4 Do me right,] This phrase occurs in Justice Silence's song in King Henry IV, P. II, Act V, sc. iii, and was the usual form of challenge to pledge a bumper toast in a bumper. See note on the foregoing passage. Steevens.
bid – ] i. e. invited. So, in Titus Andronicus, Act 1,
“ I am not bid to wait upon this bride.”— Reed. 6. Shall I not find a woodcock too?] A woodcock, being supposed to have no brains, was a proverbial term for a foolish fellow. See The London Prodigal, 1605, and other comedies. Malone.
A woodcock, means one caught in a springe; alluding to the plot against Benedick. So, in Hamlet, sc. ult.
“ Why, as a woodcock to my own springe, Osrick.” Again, in Love's Labour's Lost, Act IV, sc. iii, Biron says « four woodcocks in a dish.” Douce.
7- a wise gentleman:) This jest depending on the colloquial use of words is now obscure; perhaps we should read- a wise gentlernan, or a man wise enough to be a coward. Perhaps wise gentleman was in that age used ironically, and always stood for silly felloru. Johnson.
We still ludicrously call a man deficient in understanding wise-acre. Steevens.