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Sir To. Welcome, ass. Now let's have a catch. Sir And. By my troth, the fool has an excellent breast1. I had rather than forty shillings I had such a leg, and so sweet a breath to sing, as the fool has. In sooth, thou wast in very gracious fooling last night, when thou spokest of Pigrogromitus, of the Vapians passing the equinoctial of Queubus: 'twas very good, i' faith. I sent thee sixpence for thy lemon": hadst it?
Clo. I did impeticos thy gratillity; for Malvolio's nose is no whipstock: my lady has a white hand, and the Myrmidons are no bottle-ale houses".
Sir And. Excellent! Why, this is the best fooling, when all is done. Now, a song.
Sir To. Come on: there is sixpence for you; let's have a song.
Sir And. There's a testril of me, too: if one knight give a
Clo. Would you have a love-song, or a song of good life'?
Sir To. A love-song, a love-song.
Sir And. Ay, ay; I care not for good life.
4 - an excellent breast.] "Breast" and voice were of old synonymous, and it is therefore not necessary to substitute "breath," as some have recommended.
5 I sent thee sixpence for thy LEMON] The word is spelt "lemon" in the old copies, and the meaning may only be, that Sir Andrew sent the Clown sixpence in return for, or to buy a lemon. On the other hand, Sir Andrew may have sent the sixpence to the Clown's mistress or sweet-heart. Leman has been differently derived, from l'aimant, Fr., or more probably from the Saxon leof, dear, and man. Tyrwhitt, in his Glossary to Chaucer, gives the Saxon etymology, and spells it lemman. The word occurs in this sense in " Henry IV.," pt. 2. A. v. sc. 3, and in "The Merry Wives of Windsor," A. iv. sc. 2. In the drama of "The Contention between Liberality and Prodigality," 1602, we find the double meaning played upon by one of the characters:
"He shall have a lemman to moysten his mouth;
A lymon, I mean, no lemman, I trow:
Take heede, my faire maides, you take me not so." Sign. C. 4.
6 and the Myrmidons are no bottle ale-houses.] This seems only given as specimen of the sort of "fooling" which Sir Andrew considered "gracious.” It is to be observed, that Sir Toby says nothing in favour of such nonsense: it is only Sir Andrew who exclaims "Excellent!"
7 -or a song of GOOD LIFE?] i. e. a "civil and virtuous song," as it is called in "The Mad Pranks, &c. of Robin Good-fellow," (4to, 1628, reprinted for the Percy Society) in opposition to a love song."
Clo. O, mistress mine! where are you roaming?
Every wise man's son doth know.
Sir And. Excellent good, i' faith.
Clo. What is love? 'tis not hereafter;
Sir And. A mellifluous voice, as I am true knight.
Sir And. Very sweet and contagious, i' faith.
Sir To. To hear by the nose, it is dulcet in contagion. But shall we make the welkin dance indeed? Shall we rouse the night-owl in a catch, that will draw three souls out of one weaver? shall we do that?
Sir And. An you love me, let's do't: I am dog at a catch.
Clo. By'r lady, sir, and some dogs will catch well. Sir And. Most certain. Let our catch be, "Thou Knave."
Clo. "Hold thy peace, thou knave," knight? I shall be constrain'd in't to call thee knave, knight.
Sir And. "Tis not the first time I have constrain'd one to call me knave. Begin, fool: it begins, "Hold thy peace."
Clo. I shall never begin, if I hold my peace.
[They sing a catch3.
Mar. What a catterwauling do you keep here! If my lady have not called up her steward, Malvolio, and bid him turn you out of doors, never trust me.
Sir To. My lady's a Cataian'; we are politicians; Malvolio's a Peg-a-Ramsey', and "Three merry men be we?." Am not I consanguineous? am I not of her blood? Tilly-valley, lady! "There dwelt a man in Babylon, lady, lady 3!" [Singing.
Clo. Beshrew me, the knight's in admirable fooling. Sir And. Ay, he does well enough, if he be disposed, and so do I too: he does it with a better grace, but I do it more natural.
8 They sing a catch.] This catch is contained in Ravenscroft's "Deuteromelia," 1609, where the air is given to the following words:
"Hold thy peace, and I pr'ythee hold thy peace,
Thou knave, thou knave! hold thy peace, thou knave." "It appears to be so contrived," says Sir John Hawkins, "that each of the singers calls the other knave in turn."
9 My lady's a CATAIAN;] It is not easy to explain this term of reproach, nor is it perhaps of much consequence. Warburton contends, in a note to "The Merry Wives of Windsor," A. ii. sc. 1, that "Cataian was equivalent to liar ; and Steevens supposes it to mean a cheat, or a thief. Cataian is found in Davenant's "Love and Honour," in the sense of sharper. name of China.
Cathay was the old
- Malvolio's a PEG-A-RAMSEY,] Peg-a-Ramsey, or Peggy-Ramsey, was an old popular tune. "There are two tunes under this name as old as Shakespeare's time, and several ballads to each." Chappell's National English Airs, Vol. ii. p. 131. A tune called “Little Pegge of Ramsie,” as we find on the same authority, was composed by Dr. Bull. "Peg-a-Ramsay," and " Watton Townsend," are the identical tune, and it was also known by the latter name in the time of Shakespeare.
2 "Three merry men be we."] This seems to have been the burden of various old songs, and it was parodied, as "Three merry boys," "Three merry wives," &c.
3 "There dwelt a man in Babylon, lady, lady!"] A line from the ballad of "The Goodly and Constant Wyfe Susanna," licensed for the press in 1562. See Percy's Reliques, Vol. i. p. 224, edit. 1812. Malone says that the oldest song with the burden of "Lady, lady!" he had met with is in "The Trial of Treasure," an interlude, 1567; but in the volume of Old Ballads, printed for the Percy Society, 1840, is one by Elderton to the same tune, printed by R. Lant as early as 1559. It is entitled, "The Panges of Love, and Lovers' Fittes."
Sir To. "O! the twelfth day of December','
Mar. For the love o' God, peace!
Mal. My masters, are you mad? or what are you? Have you no wit, manners, nor honesty, but to gabble like tinkers at this time of night? Do ye make an alehouse of my lady's house, that ye squeak out your coziers' catches without any mitigation or remorse of voice? Is there no respect of place, persons, nor time, in you?
Sir To. We did keep time, sir, in our catches. Snick up!
Mal. Sir Toby, I must be round with you'. My lady bade me tell you, that, though she harbours you as her kinsman, she's nothing allied to your disorders. If you can separate yourself and your misdemeanours, you are welcome to the house; if not, an it would please you to take leave of her, she is very willing to bid you farewell.
Sir To. "Farewell, dear heart, since I must needs be gone3."
Mar. Nay, good sir Toby.
4 "O! the twelfth day of December,"] A fragment of some ballad, of which no other trace seems to remain.
COZIERS' catches-] i. e. Botchers' catches: a cozier meant either a tailor or a cobbler. Minsheu says that it is a cobbler; but it is, in fact, any person engaged in sewing, from the Fr. coudre.
Snick up!] A term of contempt, of which the precise meaning seems to have been lost. Steevens would derive it from "sneak-up," applied to the Prince ("Henry the Fourth," pt. i.) by Falstaff, and such may possibly have been its origin; but it became afterwards equivalent to the phrase, “Go and hang yourself," or "Go and be hanged." See the Rev. A. Dyce's Beaumont and Fletcher," Knight of the Burning Pestle," Vol. ii. p. 156.
The same phrase
7 I must be ROUND with you.] i. e. Plain with you. occurs in "The Comedy of Errors," Vol. ii. p. 125.
8 66 Farewell, dear heart, since I must needs be gone."] In Percy's Reliques, Vol. i. p. 224, edit. 1812, the ballad from which this line is taken is inserted at length, from "The Golden Garland of Princely Delight." What is subsequently sung by Sir Toby and the clown is a modification, for their purpose, of parts of the first two stanzas of the ballad.
Clo. "His eyes do show his days are almost done." Mal. Is't even so?
Sir To. "But I will never die."
Clo. Sir Toby, there you lie.
Sir To. "Shall I bid him go, and spare not?" Clo. "O! no, no, no, no, you dare not.” Sir To. Out o' tune'!-Sir, ye lie. Art any more than a steward? Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?
Clo. Yes, by Saint Anne; and ginger shall be hot i' the mouth too.
Sir To. Thou'rt i' the right.-Go, sir: rub your chain with crumbs'.-A stoop of wine, Maria!
Mal. Mistress Mary, if you prized my lady's favour at any thing more than contempt, you would not give means for this uncivil rule: she shall know of it, by this hand. [Exit.
Mar. Go shake your ears.
Sir And. Twere as good a deed as to drink when a man's a-hungry, to challenge him to the field, and then to break promise with him, and make a fool of him.
Sir To. Do't, knight: I'll write thee a challenge, or I'll deliver thy indignation to him by word of mouth.
9 Out o' TUNE !] So all the old copies; but modern editors read “Out of time?" as if it were a question put by Sir Toby to Malvolio, in reference to what he had said very soon after his entrance. All that Sir Toby means is, that the clown had sung out of tune. "Sir, ye lie!" is addressed to Malvolio with the purpose of affronting him.
1 Go, sir: rub your chain with crumbs.] Stewards formerly wore gold chains, as a mark of distinction, and these chains were cleaned with crumbs. Upon this passage Steevens made the following apposite quotations:-" Nash, in his 'Have With You to Saffron Walden,' 1596, (not 1595, as Steevens has it,) charges Gabriel Harvey with having stolen a nobleman's steward's chain;' and in Webster's' Dutchess of Malfy,' 1623, occurs this passage, 'Yea, and the chippings of the buttery fly after him, to scouer his gold chain.'"