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Con. Marry, sir, we say we are none. · Dogb. A marvellous witty fellow, I assure you; but I will go about with him.-Come you hither, sirrah; a word in your ear, sir; I say to you, it is thought you are false knaves.
Bora. Sir, I say to you, we are none.
Dogb. Well, stand aside.-'Fore God, they are both in a tale:7 Have you writ down that they are none?
Sexton. Master constable, you go not the way to examine; you must call forth the watch that are their accusers.
Dogb. Yea, marry, that's the eftest way:8_Let the watch come forth:-Masters, I charge you, in the prince's name, accuse these men.
1 Watch. This man said, sir, that Don John, the prince's brother, was a villain.
Dogb. Write down-prince John a villain :-Why this is flat perjury, to call a prince's brother-villain.
7 °Fore God, they are both in a tale :) This is an admirable stroke of humour: Dogberry says of the prisoners that they are false knaves; and from that denial of the charge, which one in his wits could not but be supposed to make, he infers a communion of counsels, and records it in the examination as an evidence of their guilt. Sir 7. Hawkins.
If the learned annotator will amend his comment by omitting the word guilt, and inserting the word innocence, it will (except as to the supposed inference of a communication of counsels, which should likewise be omitted or corrected) be a just and pertinent remark. Ritson.
8 Yea, marry, that's the eftest way:] Our modern editors, who were at a loss to make out the corrupted reading of the old co. pies, read easiest. The quarto, in 1600, and the first and second editions in folio, all concur in reading-Yea, marry, that's the eft. est way, &c. A letter happened to slip out at press in the first edition; and 'twas too hard a task for the subsequent editors to put it in, or guess at the word under this accidental deprivation. There is no doubt but the author wrote, as I have restored the text-rea, marry, that's the deftest way, i. e. the readiest, most commodious way. The word is pure Saxon. Dearlice, debite, congrue, duly, fitly, Ledæthe, opportune, commode, fitly, conveniently, seasonably, in good time, commodiously. Vide Spelman's Saxon Gloss. Theobald.
Mr. Theobald might have recollected the word deftly in Macbeth:
“Thyself and office deftly show." Shakspeare, I suppose, designed Dogberry to corrupt this word as well as many others. Steevens.
Bora. Master constable,
Dogb. Pray thee, fellow, peace; I do not like thy look, I promise thee.
Sexton, What heard you him say else?
2 Watch. Marry, that he had received a thousand ducats of Don John, for accusing the lady Hero wrongfully.
Dogb. Flat burglary, as ever was committed.
1 Watch. And that count Claudio did mean, upon his words, to disgrace Hero before the whole assembly, and not marry her.
Dogb. O villain! thou wilt be condemned into everlasting redemption for this.
Sexton. What else?
Sexton. And this is more, masters, than you can deny. Prince John is this morning secretly stolen away; Hero was in this manner accused, in this very manner refused, and upon the grief of this, suddenly died.-Master constable, let these men be bound, and brought to Leonato's; I will go before, and show him their examination.
(Exit. Dogb. Come, let them be opinion'd. Verg. Let them be in band. Con. Off, coxcomb!!
9 Verg. Let them be in band.
“Let them be in the hands of coxcomb." Steevens. Mr. Theobald gives these words to Conrade, and says. But why the Sexton should be so pert upon his brother officers, there seems no reason from any superior qualifications in him; or any suspicion he shows of knowing their ignorance. This is strange. The Sexton throughout shows as good sense in their examination as any judge upon the bench could do. And as to his suspicion of their ignorance, he tells the Town-Clerk, That he goes not the way to examine. The meanness of his name hindered our editor from seeing the goodness of his sense. But this Sexton was an ecclesiastic of one of the inferior orders called the sacristan, and not a brother officer, as the editor calls him. I suppose the book from whence the poet took his subject, was some old English novel translated from the Italian, where the word sagristano was rendered sexton. As in Fairfax's Godfrey of Boulogne :
“ When PÞæbus next unclos'd his wakeful eye,
Dogb. God's my life! where's the sexton ? let him
The passage then in question is to be read thus:
[Exit. Con. Off, coxcomb! . Dogberry would have them pinion'd. The Sexton says, it was sufficient if they were kept in safe custody, and then goes out. When one of the watchmen comes up to bind them, Conrade says, Off, coxcomb! as he says afterwards to the constable, Away! you are an ass. But the editor adds, The old quarto gave me the first umbrage for placing it to Conrade. What these words mean I don't know: but I suspect the old quarto divides the passage as I have done. Warburton.
Theobald has fairly given the reading of the quarto.
Dr. Warburton's assertion, as to the dignity of a sexton or sacristan, may be supported by the following passage in Stanyhurst's Version of the fourth Book of the Æneid, where he calls the Massylian priestess :
“ in soil Massyla begotten,
“ Sexten of Hesperides sinagog.” Steevens. Let them be in hand.] I had conjectured that these words should be given to Verges, and read thus-Let them bind their hands. I am still of opinion that the passage belongs to Verges; but, for the true reading of it, I should wish to adopt a much neater emendation, which has since been suggested to me in conversa. tion by Mr. Steevens-Let them be in band. Shakspeare, as he observed to me, commonly uses band for bond. Tyrwhitt.
It is plain that they were bound from a subsequent speech of Pedro: “ Whom have you offended, masters, that you are thus bound to your answer?” Steevens.
Off, coxcomb!] The old copies read-of, and these words make a part of the last speech, “Let them be in the hands of coxcomb." The present regulation was made by Dr. Warburton, and has been adopted by the subsequent editors. Off was formerly spelt of. In the early editions of these plays a broken sentence (like that before us, - Let them be in the hands-) is almost always corrupted by being tacked, through the ignorance of the transcriber or printer, to the subsequent words. So, in Coriolanus, instead of
“You shames of Rome! you herd of–Boils and plagues
“ Plaister you o'er!” we have in the folio, 1623, and the subsequent copies,
“ You shames of Rome, you! Herd of boils and plagues,” &c. See also, Measure for Measure.
Perhaps, however, we should read and regulate the passage thus: Ver. Let them be in the hands of—[the law, he might have in
tended to say.] Con. Coxcomb! Malone.
There is nothing in the old quarto different in this scene from the common copies, except that the names of two actors, Kempe
write down the prince's officer coxcomb.—Come, bind them: Thou naughty varlet!
Con. Away! you are an ass, you are an ass.
Dogb. Dost thou not suspect my place? Dost thou not suspect my years?-0 that he were here to write me down-an ass!—but, masters, remember, that I am an ass; though it be not written down, yet forget not that I am an ass:- No, thou villain, thou art full of piety, as shall be proved upon thee by good witness. I am a wise fellow; and, which is more, an officer; and, which is more, a housholder; and, which is more, as pretty a piece of flesh as any is in Messina; and one that knows the law, go to; and a rich fellow enough, go to; and a fellow that hath had losses; and one that hath two gowns, and every thing handsome about him:-Bring him away. O, that I had been writ down-an ass! [Exeunt.
ACT V..... SCENE I.
Enter LEONATO and Antonio.
I pray thee, cease thy counsel,
and Cowley, are placed at the beginning of the speeches, instead of the proper words. Johnson. i And bid him speak of patience;] Read
“ And bid'bim speak to me of patience.” Ritson.
As thus for thus, and such a grief for such,
2 Cry-sorrow, wag! and hem, when he should groan;] The quarto 1600 and folio 1623, read
“ And sorrow, wagge, cry hem,” &c. Mr. Rowe and Mr. Pope
“And hallow, wag,” &c. Mr. Theobald
“ And sorrow wage," &c. Sir Tho. Hanmer and Dr. Warburton
“ And sorrow waive,” &c. Mr. Tyrwhitt
“ And sorrow gagge,” &c. Mr. Heath and Mr. T. Warton
“ And sorrowing cry hem,” &c. I had inadvertently offered
“ And sorry wag!" &c. Mr. Ritson
“ And sorrow waggery,” &c. Mr. Malone
“In sorrow wag,” &c. But I am persuaded that Dr. Johnson's explanation as well as arrangement of the original words, is apposite and just: “I cannot (says he) but think the true meaning nearer than it is ima. gined
If such a one will smile, and stroke his beard,
And, sorrow, wag! cry; hem, when he should groan, &c. That is, . If he will smile, and cry sorrow be gone! and hem instead of groaning: The order in which and and cry are placed, is harsh, and this harshness made the sense mistaken. Range the words in the common order, and my reading will be free from all difficulty.
If such a one will smile, and stroke his beard,
Cry, sorrow, wag! and hem when he should groan ~" Thus far Dr. Johnson; and in my opinion he has left succeeding criticks nothing to do respecting the passage before us. Let me, however, claim the honour of supporting his opinion.
To cry-Care away! was once an expression of triumph. So, in Acolastus, a comedy, 1540: " - I may now say, Care awaye.'” Again, ibidem: “ Now grievous sorrowe and care away!" Again, at the conclusion of Barnaby Googe's third Eglog :
“ Som chestnuts have I there in store,
" With cheese and pleasaunt whaye; “God sends me vittayles for my nede,
“And I synge Care awaye!” Again, as Dr. Farmer observes to me, in George Withers's Philarete, 1622: