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Enter TOUCHSTONE and AUDREY; JAQUES at a distance, observing them.
TOUCH. Come apace, good Audrey; I will fetch up your goats, Audrey: And how, Audrey? am I the man yet? Doth my simple feature content you 4 ?
AUD. Your features! Lord warrant us! what features?
TOUCH. I am here with thee and thy goats, as
Audrey;] Is a corruption of Etheldreda. The saint of that name is so styled in ancient calendars. STEEVENS.
4 Doth my simple FEATURE Content you?] Says the Clown to Audrey. Your features! (replies the wench,) Lord warrant us! what features?" I doubt not, this should be-your feature! Lord warrant us! what's feature? FARMER.
Feat and feature, perhaps, had anciently the same meaning. The Clown asks, if the features of his face content her, she takes the word in another sense, i. e. feats, deeds, and in her reply seems to mean, what feats, i. e. what have we done yet? The courtship of Audrey and her gallant had not proceeded further, as Sir Wilful Witwood says, than a little mouth-glue; but she supposes him to be talking of something which as yet he had not performed. Or the jest may turn only on the Clown's pronunciation. In some parts, features might be pronounced, faitors, which signify rascals, low wretches. Pistol uses the word in The Second Part of King Henry IV. and Spenser very frequently. STEEVENS.
In Daniel's Cleopatra, 1594, is the following couplet :
"It is my fault, not she, that merits blame;
'My words are rude, and work her no delight."
Feature appears to have formerly signified the whole countenance.
"Her peerless feature, joined with her birth,
the most capricious poet, honest Ovid, was among the Goths 5.
JAQ. O knowledge ill-inhabited"! worse than Jove in a thatch'd house! [Aside
TOUCH. When a man's verses cannot be understood, nor a man's good wit seconded with the forward child, understanding, it strikes a man more dead than a great reckoning in a little room? :— Truly, I would the gods had made thee poetical.
as the most CAPRICIOUS poet, honest Ovid, was among the GOTHS.] Capricious is not here humoursome, fantastical, &c. but lascivious. Hor. Epod. 10. Libidinosus immolabitur caper. The Goths are the Geta. Ovid. Trist. v. 7. The thatch'd house is that of Baucis and Philemon. Ovid. Met. viii. 630. Stipulis et canna tecta palustri. UPTON.
Mr. Upton is, perhaps, too refined in his interpretation of capricious. Our author remembered that caper was the Latin for a goat, and thence chose this epithet. This, I believe, is the whole. There is a poor quibble between goats and Goths. MALONE. ill-inhabited!] i. e. ill-lodged. An unusual sense of the
A similar phrase occurs in Reynolds's God's Revenge against Murder, book v. hist. 21: "Pieria's heart is not so ill-lodged, nor her extraction and quality so contemptible, but that she is very sensible of her disgrace." Again, in The Golden Legend, Wynkyn de Worde's edit. fol. 196: "I am ryghtwysnes that am enhabited here, and this hous is myne, and thou art not ryghtwyse." STEEVENS.
7-it strikes a man more dead than a great RECKONING in a little room] Nothing was ever wrote in higher humour than this simile. "A great reckoning, in a little room," implies that the entertainment was mean, and the bill extravagant. The poet here alluded to the French proverbial phrase of " the quarter of an hour of Rabelais:" who said, there was only one quarter of an hour in human life passed ill, and that was between the calling for the reckoning and paying it." Yet the delicacy of our Oxford editor would correct this into, "It strikes a man more dead than a great reeking in a little room." This is amending with a vengeance. When men are joking together in a merry humour, all are disposed to laugh. One of the company says a good thing: the jest is not taken; all are silent; and he who said it, quite confounded. This is compared to a tavern jollity interrupted by the
AUD. I do not know what poetical is: Is it honest in deed, and word? Is it a true thing?
TOUCH. No, truly; for the truest poetry is the most feigning; and lovers are given to poetry; and what they swear in poetry, may be said, as lovers, they do feign 3.
AUD. DO you wish then, that the gods had made me poetical?
TOUCH. I do, truly: for thou swear'st to me, thou art honest; now, if thou wert a poet, I might have some hope thou didst feign.
AUD. Would you not have me honest?
TOUCH. No truly, unless thou wert hard-favour'd: for honesty coupled to beauty, is to have honey a sauce to sugar.
JAQ. A material fool!
AUD. Well, I am not fair; and therefore I pray the gods make me honest!
TOUCH. Truly, and to cast away honesty upon a foul slut, were to put good meat into an unclean dish.
AUD. I am not a slut, though I thank the gods I am foul1.
coming in of a great reckoning. Had not Shakspeare reason now in this case to apply his simile to his own case, against his critical editor? Who, it is plain, taking the phrase to strike dead, in a literal sense, concluded, from his knowledge in philosophy, that it could not be so effectually done by a reckoning as by a reeking. WARBURTON.
8 - and what they swear in poetry, &c.] This sentence seems perplexed and inconsequent: perhaps it were better read thusWhat they swear as lovers, they may be said to feign as poets.
I would read-It may be said, as lovers they do feign.
9 A MATERIAL fool!] A fool with matter in him; a fool stocked with notions. JOHNSON.
So, in Chapman's version of the 24th Iliad :
his speech even charm'd his eares,
"So order'd, so materiall.—" STEEVENS.
-Iam FOUL.] By foul is meant coy or frowning. HANMER.
TOUCH. Well, praised be the gods for thy foulness! sluttishness may come hereafter. But be it as it may be, I will marry thee: and to that end, I have been with Sir Oliver Mar-text, the vicar of the next village; who hath promised to meet me in this place of the forest, and to couple us.
JAQ. I would fain see this meeting. AUD. Well, the gods give us joy! TOUCH. Amen. A man may, if he were of a fearful heart, stagger in this attempt; for here we have no temple but the wood, no assembly but horn-beasts. But what though? Courage! As
I rather believe foul to be put for the rustick pronunciation of full. Audrey, supposing the Clown to have spoken of her as a foul slut, says, naturally enough, "I am not a slut, though, I thank the gods, I am foul, i. e. full." She was more likely to thank the gods for a belly-full, than for her being coy or frowning. TYRWHITT.
Audrey says, she is not fair, i. e. handsome, and therefore prays the gods to make her honest. The Clown tells her that to cast honesty away upon a foul slut, (i. e. an ill-favoured dirty creature,) is to put meat in an unclean dish. She replies, she is no slut, (no dirty drab,) though, in her great simplicity, she thanks the gods for her foulness, (homelyness,) i. e. for being as she is. Well, (adds he,) praised be the gods for thy foulness, sluttishness may come hereafter." RITSON.
I think that, by foul, Audrey means, not fair, or what we call homely. Audrey is neither coy or ill-humoured; but she thanks God for her homeliness, as it rendered her less exposed to temptation. So, in the next scene but one, Rosalind says to Phebe"Foul is most foul, being foul, to be a scoffer." M. MASON. I believe Mr. Mason's interpretation to be the true one. So, in Abraham's Sacrifice, 1577:
"The fayre, the fowle, the crooked, and the right." So, also in Gaiscoigne's Steele Glasse:
Those that love to see themselves
"How fowle or fayre soever that they be." MALONE. That foul retained the meaning in which it is used here, as low down as Pope, we find by the following lines in The Wife of Bath:
"If fair, though chaste, she cannot long abide,
By pressing youth attack'd on every side;
"If foul, her wealth the lusty lover lures." TALBOT.
- what though?] What then? JOHNSON.
It is said,
horns are odious, they are necessary. Many a man knows no end of his goods: right: many a man has good horns, and knows no end of them. Well, that is the dowry of his wife; 'tis none of his own getting. Horns? Even so: Poor men alone?—No, no; the noblest deer hath them as huge as the rascal. Is the single man therefore blessed? No: as a wall'd town is more worthier than a village, so is the forehead of a married man more honourable than the bare brow of a bachelor: and by how much defence is better than no skill, by so much is a horn more precious than
Enter Sir OLIVER MAR-TEXT.
Here comes sir Oliver :-Sir Oliver Mar-text, you
3 - the rascal.] Lean, poor deer, are called rascal deer.
defence] Defence, as here opposed to "no skill," signifies the art of fencing. Thus, in Hamlet: - and gave you such a masterly report, for arts and exercise in your defence."
5 sir Oliver:] He that has taken his first degree at the university, is in the academical style called Dominus, and in common language was heretofore termed Sir. This was not always a word of contempt; the graduates assumed it in their own writings; so Trevisa the historian writes himself Syr John de Trevisa. JOHNSON.
We find the same title bestowed on many divines in our old comedies. So, in Wily Beguiled:
"Sir John cannot tend to it at evening prayer; for there comes a company of players to town on Sunday in the afternoon, and Sir John is so good a fellow, that I know he'll scarce leave their company, to say evening prayer."
Again: "We'll all go to church together, and so save Sir John a labour." See notes on The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act I. Sc. I. STEEVENS.
Degrees were at this time considered as the highest dignities; and it may not be improper to observe, that a clergyman, who hath not been educated at the universities, is still distinguished in some parts of North Wales, by the appellation of Sir John, Sir William, &c. Hence the Sir Hugh Evans of Shakspeare is