Графични страници
PDF файл

fore to make a fire, and they are coming after to warm them. Now, were not I a little pot, and soon hot,2 my very lips might freeze to my teeth, my tongue to the roof of my mouth, my heart in my belly, ere I should come by a fire to thaw me:-But, I with blowing the fire shall warm myself; for, considering the weather, a taller man than I will take cold. Holla, hoa! Curtis! Enter CURTIS.

Curt. Who is that, calls so coldly?

Gru. A piece of ice: If thou doubt it, thou may'st slide from my shoulder to my heel, with no greater a run but my head and my neck. A fire, good Curtis.

Curt. Is my master and his wife coming, Grumio? Gru. O, ay, Curtis, ay: and therefore fire, fire: cast on no water. 3

Curt. Is she so hot a shrew as she 's reported?

Gru. She was, good Curtis, before this frost: but, thou know'st, winter tames man, woman, and beast; for it hath tamed my old master, and my new mistress, and myself, fellow Curtis.

"Which she increased with her bleeding heart,
"And the clean waves with purple gore did

Again, in B. III, c. viii, st. 32:

"Who whiles the pitieous lady up did rise,


"Ruffled and foully ray'd with filthy soil." Tollet.

So, in Summer's Last Will and Testament, 1600: "Let there be a few rushes laid in the place where Backwinter shall tumble, for fear of raying his clothes." Steevens.

2- a little pot, and soon hot,] This is a proverbial expression. It is introduced in The Isle of Gulls, 1606:


- Though I be but a little pot, I shall be as soon hot as another. Steevens.


- fire, fire; cast on no water.] There is an old popular catch of three parts in these words:

"Scotland burneth, Scotland burneth.

[blocks in formation]

winter tames man, woman, and beast; for it hath tamed my old master, and my new mistress, and myself, fellow Curtis. &c.]"Winter, says Grumio, tames man, woman, and beast; for it has tamed my old master, my new mistress, and myself, fellow Curtis.- -Away, you three-inch fool, replies Curtis, I am no beast." Why, asks Dr. Warburton, had Grumio called him one? he alters therefore myself to thyself, and all the editors fol

Curt. Away, you three-inch fool!5 I am no beast. Gru. Am I but three inches? why, thy horn is a foot; and so long am I, at the least. But wilt thou make a fire, or shall I complain on thee to our mistress, whose hand (she being now at hand) thou shalt soon feel, to thy cold comfort, for being slow in thy hot office.

Curt. I pr'ythee, good Grumio, tell me, How goes the world?

Gru. A cold world, Curtis, in every office but thine; and, therefore, fire: Do thy duty, and have thy duty; for my master and mistress are almost frozen to death. Curt. There's fire ready; And therefore, good Grumio, the news?

low him. But there is no necessity; if Grumio calls himself a beast, and Curtis, fellow; surely he calls Curtis a beast likewise. Malvolio takes this sense of the word: "let this fellow be look'd to!—Fellow! not Malvolio, after my degree, but fellow!"

In Ben Jonson's Case is Altered: "What says my Fellow Onion ?" quoth Christophero.-" All of a house," replies Onion, "but not fellows."

In the old play, called The Return from Parnassus, we have a curious passage, which shows the opinion of contemporaries concerning the learning of Shakspeare; this use of the word fellow brings it to my remembrance. Burbage and Kempe are introduced to teach the university men the art of acting, and are represented (particularly Kempe) as leaden spouts-very illiterate. Few of the university (says Kempe) pen plays well; they smell too much of that writer Ovid, and that writer Metamorphosis:why here's our Fellow Shakspeare puts them all down. Farmer. The sentence delivered by Grumio, is proverbial:

"Wedding, and ill-wintering, tame both man and beast." See Ray's Collection. Steevens. Away, you three-inch fool!] i. e. with a skull three inches thick; a phrase taken from the thicker sort of planks.

Warburton. This contemptuous expression alludes to Grumio's diminutive size. He has already mentioned it himself: "Now, were not I a little pot His answer likewise: " and so long am I, at the least," shows that this is the meaning, and that Dr. Warburton was mistaken in supposing that these words allude to the thickness of Grumio's skull. Malone.


6 why, thy horn is a foot; and so long am I, at the least.] Though all the copies agree in this reading, Mr. Theobald says, yet he cannot find what horn Curtis had; therefore he alters it to my horn. But the common reading is right, and the meaning is, that he had made Curtis a cuckold. Warburton.

[blocks in formation]

Gru. Why, Jack boy! ho boy!" and as much news as thou wilt.8

Curt. Come, you are so full of conycatching:

Gru. Why, therefore, fire; for I have caught extreme cold. Where's the cook? is supper ready, the house trimmed, rushes strewed, cobwebs swept; the serving-men in their new fustian, their white stockings," and every officer his wedding-garment on? Be the jacks fair within, the jills fair without,1 the carpets laid, and every thing in order?


Curt. All ready; And therefore, I pray thee, news?

Jack boy! ho boy!] Is the beginning of an old round in three parts. Sir J. Hawkins.


as thou wilt.] Old copy-wilt thou. Corrected by the editor of the second folio. Malone.

9 — their white stockings,] The old copy reads-the white.— Corrected by the editor of the third folio. Malone.


Be the jacks fair within, the jills fair without,] i. e. are the drinking vessels clean, and the maid servants dressed? But the Oxford editor alters it thus:


Are the Facks fair without, the Fills fair within? What his conceit is in this, I confess I know not. Sir T. Hanmer's meaning seems to be this: "Are the men who are waiting without the house to receive my master, dressed; and the maids, who are waiting within, dressed too?”

I believe the poet meant to play upon the words Fack and Fill, which signify two drinking measures, as well as men and maid servants. The distinction made in the questions concerning them, was owing to this: The Jacks being of leather, could not be made to appear beautiful on the outside, but were very apt to contract foulness within; whereas, the Fills, being of metal, were expected to be kept bright externally, and were not liable to dirt on the inside, like the leather.

The quibble on the former of these words I find in The Atheist's Tragedy, by C. Tourner, 1611:


have you drunk yourselves mad?

"1 Ser. My lord, the Jacks abus'd me.

"D'Am. I think they are Jacks indeed that have abus'd


Again, in The Puritan, 1607: "I owe money to several hostesses, and you know such jills will quickly be upon a man's jack." In this last instance, the allusion to drinking measures is evident.



the carpets laid,] In our author's time it was customary to cover tables with carpets. Floors, as appears from the present passage and others, were strewed with rushes. Malone.

Gru. First, know, my horse is tired; my master and mistress fallen out.

Curt. How?

Gru. Out of their saddles into the dirt; And thereby hangs a tale.

Curt. Let's ha 't, good Grumio.

Gru. Lend thine ear.

Curt. Here.

Gru. There.

[Striking him,

Curt. This is to feel a tale, not to hear a tale.

Gru. And therefore 'tis called, a sensible tale: and this cuff was but to knock at your ear, and beseech listening. Now I begin: Imprimis, we came down a foul hill, my master riding behind my mistress:

Curt. Both on one horse ?5
Gru. What 's that to thee?
Curt. Why, a horse.

-But hadst thou not cross

Gru. Tell thou the tale:!ed me, thou should'st have heard how her horse fell, and she under her horse; thou should'st have heard, in how miry a place: how she was bemoiled; how he left her with the horse upon her; how he beat me because her horse stumbled; how she waded through the dirt to pluck him off me; how he swore; how she prayedthat never prayed before; how I cried; how the horses ran away; how her bridle was burst; how I lost my crupper;-with many things of worthy memory; which now shall die in oblivion, and thou return unexperienced to thy grave.


Curt. By this reckoning, he is more shrew than she.'

I pray thee, news?] I believe the author wrote-I pray, thy news.


4 This is -] Old copy-This 'tis - Corrected by Mr. Pope.




on one horse?] The old copy reads-of one horse?


bemoiled;] i. e. be-draggled; bemired. Steevens. how he swore; how she prayed-that never prayed before;] These lines, with little variation, are found in the old copy of King Leir, published before that of Shakspeare. Steevens.


was burst; i. e. broken. So, in the first scene of this play: "You will not pay for the glasses you have burst ?" Steevens.

Gru. Ay; and that thou and the proudest of you all shall find, when he comes home. But what talk I of this?-call forth Nathaniel, Joseph, Nicholas, Philip, Walter, Sugarsop, and the rest; let their heads be sleekly combed, their blue coats brushed,1 and their garters of an indifferent knit: let them curtsey with their left legs; and not presume to touch a hair of my master's horse-tail, till they kiss their hands. Are they all ready?

Curt. They are.

9- he is more shrew than she.] The term shrew was anciently applicable to either sex. Thus, in the ancient metrical romance of The Sowdon of Babyloyne, p. 66:

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"Lest that lurdeynes come skulkynge oute

"For ever they have bene shrewes," &c. Steevens.

their blue coats brushed,] The dress of servants at the time. So, in Decker's Belman's Night Walkes, sig. E. 3; the other act their parts in blew coates, as they were their serving men, though indeed they be all fellowes." Again, in The Curtain Drawer of the World, 1612, p. 2: "Not a serving man dare appeare in a blew coat, not because it is the livery of charity, but lest he should be thought a retainer to their enemy." Reed. - garters of an indifferent knit:] What is the sense of this, I know not, unless it means, that their garters should be fellows: indifferent, or not different, one from the other. Johnson. This is rightly explained. So, in Hamlet:

[ocr errors]


"As the indifferent children of the earth."

Again, in King Richard II:

"Look on my wrongs with an indifferent eye.”

i. e. an impartial one.

In Donne's Paradoxes, p. 56, Dr. Farmer observes, that we find "one indifferent shoe;" meaning, I suppose, a shoe that would fit either the right or left foot.

So, in Reynolds's God's Revenge against Murder, B. V, Hist. 22: "Their sister Ceciliana (aged of some twenty years) was of an indifferent height, but growing to corpulency and fatness." Steevens. Perhaps by "garters of an indifferent knit," the author meant parti-coloured garters; garters of a different knit. In Shakspeare's time indifferent was sometimes used for different. Thus Speed, (Hist. of Gr. Brit. p. 770) describing the French and English armies at the battle of Agincourt, says, "the face of these hoasts were diverse and indifferent."

That garters of a different knit were formerly worn appears from TEXNOTAMIA, or the Marriage of the Arts, by Barton Holyday, 1630, where the following stage direction occurs: “ Phantastes in a branched velvet jerkin,-red silk stockings, and particoloured garters." Malone.

« ПредишнаНапред »