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ALL. Have with you, to see this monster.
A Room in Ford's House.
Enter Mrs. FORD and Mrs. PAGE.
MRS. FORD. What, John! what, Robert!
MRS. PAGE. Quickly, quickly: Is the buckbasket
MRS. FORD. I warrant :-What, Robin, I say.
Enter Servants with a Basket.
MRS. PAGE. Come, come, come.
MRS. FORD. Here, set it down.
MRS. PAGE. Give your men the charge; we must be brief.
MRS. FORD. Marry, as I told you before, John, and Robert, be ready here hard by in the brewhouse; and when I suddenly call you, come forth, and (without any pause, or staggering,) take this basket on your shoulders: that done, trudge with it in all haste, and carry it among the whitsters in Datchet mead, and there empty it in the muddy ditch, close by the Thames side.
MRS. PAGE. You will do it?
MRS. FORD. I have told them over and over; they lack no direction: Be gone, and come when you are called. [Exeunt Servants.
the whitsters —] i. e. the blanchers of linen.
MRS. PAGE. Here comes little Robin.
MRS. FORD. How now, my eyas-musket? what news with you?
ROB. My master sir John is come in at your back-door, mistress Ford; and requests your company.
MRS. PAGE. You little Jack-a-lent,' have you been true to us?
How now, my eyas-musket?] Eyas is a young unfledg'd hawk; I suppose from the Italian Niaso, which originally signified any young bird taken from the nest unfledg'd, afterwards a young hawk. The French, from hence, took their niais, and used it in both those significations; to which they added a third, metaphorically, a silly fellow; un garçon fort niais, un niais. Musket signifies a sparrow hawk, or the smallest species of hawks. This too is from the Italian Muschetto, a small hawk, as appears from the original signification of the word, namely, a troublesome stinging fly. So that the humour of calling the little page an eyas-musket is very intelligible. WARBURTON.
So, in Greene's Card of Fancy, 1608: 66 -no hawk so haggard but will stoop to the lure: no niesse so ramage but will be reclaimed to the lunes." Eyas-musket is the same as infant Lilliputian. Again, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, B. I, c, xi.
"Like eyas-hauke, up mounts unto the skies,
In The Booke of Haukyng, &c. commonly called The Book of St. Albans, bl. 1. no date, is the following derivation of the word; but whether true or erroneous is not for me to determine "An hauk is called an eyesse from her eyen. For an hauke that is brought up under a bussarde or puttock, as many ben, have watry eyen," &c. STEEVENS.
Jack-a-lent,] A Jack o' lent was a puppet thrown at in Lent, like shrove-cocks. So, in The Weakest goes to the Wall, 1600:
"A mere anatomy, a Jack of Lent."
ROB. Ay, I'll be sworn: My master knows not of your being here; and hath threatened to put me into everlasting liberty, if I tell you of it; for, he swears, he'll turn me away.
MRS. PAGE. Thou'rt a good boy; this secrecy of thine shall be a tailor to thee, and shall make thee a new doublet and hose.-I'll go hide me.
MRS. FORD. Do so:-Go tell thy master, I am alone. Mistress Page, remember you your cue. [Exit ROBIN.
MRS. PAGE. I warrant thee; if I do not act it, hiss me. [Exit Mrs. PAGE. MRS. FORD. Go to then; we'll use this unwholesome humidity, this gross watry pumpion ;-we'll teach him to know turtles from jays.
FAL. Have I caught thee, my heavenly jewel? 3 Why, now let me die, for I have lived long enough; this is the period of this blessed hour!
Again, in The Four Prentices of London, 1615:
"Now you old Jack of Lent, six weeks and upwards." Again, in Greene's Tu Quoque: " for if a boy, that is throwing at his Jack o' Lent, chance to hit me on the shins," &c. See a note on the last scene of this comedy. STEEVENS. -from jays.] So, in Cymbeline:
some jay of Italy,
"Whose mother was her painting," &c. STEEVENS, Have I caught my heavenly jewel?] This is the first line of the second song in Sidney's Astrophel and Stella. TOLLET. Why, now let me die, for I have lived long enough ;] This sentiment, which is of sacred origin, is here indecently introduced. It appears again, with somewhat less of profaneness, in The Winter's Tale, Act IV. and in Othello, Act II.
MRS. FORD. O sweet sir John!
FAL. Mistress Ford, I cannot cog, I cannot prate, mistress Ford. Now shall I sin in my wish: I would thy husband were dead; I'll speak it before the best lord, I would make thee my lady.
MRS. FORD. I your lady, sir John! alas, I should be a pitiful lady.
FAL. Let the court of France show me such another; I see how thine eye would emulate the diamond: Thou hast the right arched bent of the brow, that becomes the ship-tire, the tire-valiant, or any tire of Venetian admittance."
arched bent] Thus the quartos 1602, and 1619. The folio reads-arched beauty. STEEVENS.
The reading of the quarto is supported by a passage in Antony and Cleopatra:
"Eternity was in our lips and eyes,
"Bliss in our brows-bent." MALONE.
that becomes the ship-tire, the tire-valiant, or any tire of Venetian admittance.] Instead of Venetian admittance, the old quarto reads-" or any Venetian attire." STEEVENS.
The old quarto reads-tire-vellet, and the old folio readsor any tire of Venetian admittance. So that the true reading of the whole is this, that becomes the ship-tire, the tire-VALIANT, or any tire of Venetian admittance. The speaker tells his mistress, she had a face that would become all the head dresses in fashion. The ship-tire was an open head dress, with a kind of scarf depending from behind. Its name of ship-tire was, I presume, from its giving the wearer some resemblance of a ship (as Shakspeare says) in all her trim: with all her pendants out, and flags and streamers flying.
This was an image familiar with the poets of that time. Thus Beaumont and Fletcher, in their play of Wit without Money: "She spreads sattens as the king's ships do canvas every where; she may space her misen," &c. This will direct us to reform the following word of tire-valiant, which I suspect to be corrupt, valiant being a very incongruous epithet for a woman's head dress. I suppose Shakspeare wrote tirevailant. As the ship-tire was an open head dress, so the tire
MRS. FORD. A plain kerchief, sir John: my brows become nothing else; nor that well neither.
vailant was a close one, in which the head and breast were covered as with a veil. And these were, in fact, the two different head dresses then in fashion, as we may see by the pictures of that time. One of which was so open, that the whole neck, breasts, and shoulders, were opened to view: the other, so securely inclosed in kerchiefs, &c. that nothing could be seen above the eyes, or below the chin. WARBURTON.
In the fifth act, Fenton mentions that his mistress is to meet him"With ribbons pendant flaring 'bout her head." This, probably, was what is here called the ship-tire.
the tire-valiant,] I would read-tire volant. Stubbes, who describes most minutely every article of female dress, has mentioned none of these terms, but speaks of vails depending from the top of the head, and flying behind in loose folds. The word volant was in use before the age of Shakspeare. I find it in Wilfride Holme's Fall and evil Successe of Rebellion,
high volant in any thing divine."
Tire-vellet, which is the reading of the old quarto, may be printed, as Mr. Tollet observes, by mistake, for tire-velvet. We know that velvet-hoods were worn in the age of Shakspeare. STEEvens.
Among the presents sent by the Queen of Spain to the Queen of England, in April 1606, was a velvet cap with gold buttons. Catharine's cap, in The Taming of the Shrew, is likewise of velvet.
Tire-volant, however, I believe with Mr. Steevens, was the poet's word. "Their heads (says Nashe in 1594) with their top and top-gallant lawne baby-caps, and snow-resembled silver curlings, they make a plain puppet-stage of. Their breasts they embuske up on hie, and their round roseate buds they immodestly lay forth, to shew, at their hands there is fruit to be hoped." Christ's Tears over Jerusalem, 4to. 1594. MALONE.
of Venetian admittance.] i. e. of a fashion received or admitted from Venice. So, in Westward Hoe, 1606, by Decker and Webster:-" now she's in that Italian head-tire you sent her." Dr. Farmer proposes to read-" of Venetian remittance." STEEVENS.