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Biron. This, fellow; What would'st?
Dull. I myself reprehend his own person, for I am his grace's tharborough:1 but I would see his own person in flesh and blood.
Biron. This is he.
Dull. Signior Arme-Arme-commends you. There's villainy abroad; this letter will tell you more.
Cost. Sir, the contempts thereof are as touching me. King. A letter from the magnificent Armado.
Biron. How low soever the matter, I hope in God for high words.
Long. A high hope for a low having: God grant us patience!
Biron. To hear? or forbear hearing?3
Long. To hear meekly, sir, and to laugh moderately; or to forbear both.
Biron. Well, sir, be it as the style shall give us cause to climb in the merriness,
case, such a fellow as Costard may well be supposed ignorant of his true title. Malone.
I have followed the old copies. Steevens.
1 tharborough:] i. e. Thirdborough, a peace officer, alike in authority with a headborough or a constable. Sir J. Hawkins. 2 A high hope for a low having:] In old editions:
"A high hope for a low heaven,"
A low heaven, sure, is a very intricate matter to conceive. I dare warrant, I have retrieved the poet's true reading; and the meaning is this: "Though you hope for high words, and should have them, it will be but a low acquisition at best." This our poet calls a low having; and it is a substantive which he uses in several other passages. Theobald.
It is so employed in Macbeth, Act I:
"Of noble having, and of royal hope."
Heaven, however, may be the true reading, in allusion to the gradations of happiness promised by Mohammed to his followers. So, in the comedy of Old Fortunatus, 1600:
"Oh, how my soul is rapt to a third heaven!" Steevens.
3 To hear? or forbear hearing?] One of the modern editors plausibly enough, reads:
"To hear? or forbear laughing?" Malone.
as the style shall give us cause to climb-] A quibble between the stile that must be climbed to pass from one field to another, and style, the term expressive of manner of writing in regard to language. Steevens.
Cost. The matter is to me, sir, as concerning Jaquenetta. The manner of it is, I was taken with the manner.5
Biron. In what manner?
Cost. In manner and form following, sir; all those three: I was seen with her in the manor house, sitting with her upon the form, and taken following her into the park; which put together, is, in manner and form following. Now, sir, for the manner,—it is the manner of a man to speak to a woman: for the form,-in some form.
Biron. For the following, sir?
Cost. As it shall follow in my correction; And God defend the right!
King. Will you hear this letter with attention?
Biron. As we would hear an oracle.
Cost. Such is the simplicity of man to hearken after the flesh.
King. [Reads.] Great deputy, the welkin's vicegerent, and sole dominator of Navarre, my soul's earth's God, and body's fostering patron,
Cost. Not a word of Costard yet.
King. So it is,—
Cost. It may be so: but if he say it is so, he is, in telling true, but so, so."
Cost. -be to me, and every man that dares not fight! King. No words.
Cost. of other men's secrets, I beseech you.
King. So it is, besieged with sable-coloured melancholy, I did commend the black-oppressing humour to the most wholesome physick of thy health-giving air; and, as I am a gentleman, betook myself to walk. The time when? About
taken with the manner.] i. e. in the fact. So, in Heywood's Rape of Lucrece, 1630: and, being taken with the manner, had nothing to say for himself." Steevens.
A forensick term. A thief is said to be taken with the manner, i. e, mainour or manour, (for so it is written in our old law. books,) when he is apprehended with the thing stolen in his possession. The thing that he has taken was called mainour, from the Fr. manier, manu tractare. Malone.
but so, so.] The second so was added by Sir T. Hanmer, and adopted by the subsequent editors. Malone.
the sixth hour; when beasts most graze, birds best peck, and men sit down to that nourishment which is called supper. So much for the time when: Now for the ground which; which, I mean, I walked upon: it is ycleped thy park. Then for the place where; where, I mean, I did encounter that obscene and most preposterous event, that draweth from my snow-white pen the ebon-coloured ink, which here thou viewest, beholdest, surveyest, or seest: But to the place, where,—it standeth north-north-east and by east from the west corner of thy curious-knotted garden: There did I see that low-spirited swain, that base minnow of thy mirth,8
King. that unletter'd small-knowing soul,
King. that shallow vassal,
Cost. Still me.
King. which, as I remember, hight Costard,
King. sorted and consorted, contrary to thy established proclaimed edict and continent canon, with—with,'—O with -but with this I passion to say wherewith;---
Cost. With a wench.
curious-knotted garden:] Ancient gardens abounded with figures of which the lines intersected each other in many directions. Thus, in King Richard II:
"Her fruit-trees all unprun'd, her hedges ruin'd,
"Her knots disorder'd," &c.
In Thomas Hill's Profitable Art of Gardening, &c. 4to. bl. 1. 1579, is the delineation of "a proper knot for a garden, whereas is spare roume enough, the which may be set with Time, or Isop, at the discretion of the Gardener." In Henry Dethick's Gardener's Labyrinth, bl. 1. 4to. 1586, are other examples of "pro"per knots deuised for gardens." Steevens.
8 -base minnow of thy mirth,] The base minnow of thy mirth, is the contemptible little object that contributes to thy entertainment. Shakspeare makes Coriolanus characterize the tribunitian insolence of Sicinius, under the same figure:
Again, in Have with you to Saffron Walden, or Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is up, &c. 1596: "Let him denie that there was another shewe made of the little minnow his brother," &c. Steevens.
9 with-with,] The old copy reads-which with. The correction is Mr. Theobald's. Malone.
King. with a child of our grandmother Eve, a female; or, for thy more sweet understanding, a woman. Him I (as my ever-esteemed duty pricks me on) have sent to thee, to receive the meed of punishment, by thy sweet grace's officer, Antony Dull; a man of good repute, carriage, bearing, and estimation.
Dull. Me, an 't shall please you; I am Antony Dull. King. For Jaquenetta, (so is the weaker vessel called, which I apprehended with the aforesaid swain) I keep her as a vessel of thy law's fury;1 and shall, at the least of thy sweet notice, bring her to trial. Thine, in all compliments of devoted and heartburning heat of duty,
DON ADRIANO DE ARMADO. Biron. This is not so well as I looked for, but the best that ever I heard.
King. Ay, the best for the worst. But, sirrah, what say you to this?
Cost. Sir, I confess the wench.
King. Did you hear the proclamation?
Cost. I do confess much of the hearing it, but little of the marking of it.2
King. It was proclaimed a year's imprisonment, to be taken with a wench.
Cost. I was taken with none, sir; I was taken with a damosel.
King. Well, it was proclaimed damosel.
Cost. This was no damosel neither, sir; she was a virgin.
King. It was so varied too; for it was proclaimed virgin.
Cost. If it were, I deny her virginity; I was taken with a maid.
King. This maid will not serve your turn, sir.
1 vessel of thy law's fury:] This seems to be a phrase adopted from scripture. See Epist. to the Romans, ix. 22: the vessel of wrath." Mr. M. Mason would read-vassal instead of vessel. Steevens.
2 I do confess much of the hearing it, but little of the marking of it.] So Falstaff, in The Second Part of King Henry IV:
- it is the disease of not listening, the malady of not marking, that I am troubled withal." Steevens.
King. Sir I will pronounce your sentence: You shall fast a week with bran and water.
Cost. I had rather pray a month with mutton and porridge.
King. And Don Armado shall be your keeper.— My lord Biron, see him deliver'd o'er.
And go we, lords, to put in practice that
Which each to other hath so strongly sworn.—
[Exeunt King, LONG. and DUм. Biron. I'll lay my head to any good man's hat, These oaths and laws will prove an idle scorn.— Sirrah, come on.
Cost. I suffer for the truth, sir: for true it is, I was taken with Jaquenetta, and Jaquenetta is a true girl; and therefore, Welcome the sour cup of prosperity! Affliction may one day smile again, and till then, Sit thee down, sorrow! [Exeunt.
Another part of the same. Armado's House.
Enter ARMADO and MoтH.
Arm. Boy, what sign is it, when a man of great spirit grows melancholy?
Moth. A great sign, sir, that he will look sad.
Arm. Why, sadness is one and the self-same thing, dear imp.3
Moth. No, no; O lord, sir, no.
Arm. How canst thou part sadness and melancholy, my tender juvenal?4
dear imp.] Imp was anciently a term of dignity. Lord Cromwell, in his last letter to Henry VIII, prays for the imp his son. It is now used only in contempt or abhorrence; perhaps in our author's time it was ambiguous, in which state it suits well with this dialogue. Johnson.
Pistol salutes King Henry V, by the same title. Steevens.
The word literally means a graff, slip, scion, or sucker: and by metonymy comes to be used for a boy or child. The imp, his son, is no more than his infant son. It is now set apart to signify young fiends; as the devil and his imps.
Dr. Johnson was mistaken in supposing this a word of dignity. It occurs in The History of Celestina the Faire, 1596: “— -the gentleman had three sonnes, very ungracious impes, and of a wicked nature." Ritson..