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eloquent tongues, and my horse is argument for them all : 'tis a subject for a sovereign to reason on, and for a sovereign's sovereign to ride on; and for the world (familiar to us, and unknown,) to lay apart their particular functions, and wonder at him. I once writ a sonnet in his praise, and began thus : Wonder of Nature,-.
Orl. I have heard a sonnet begin so to one's mistress.
Dau. Then did they imitate that which I composed to my courser; for my horse is my mistress.
ORL. Your mistress bears well.
DAU. Me well; which is the prescript praise and perfection of a good and particular mistress.
Cov. Ma foy! the other day, methought, your mistress shrewdly shook your back.
Dau. So, perhaps, did yours.
Dav. O! then, belike, she was old and gentle ; and you rode, like a Kerne of Ireland, your French hose off, and in your strait trossers'.
4 - Wonder of Nature,] Here, I suppose, some foolish poem of our author's time is ridiculed; which indeed partly appears from the answer. WARBURTON.
In The First Part of King Henry VI. Act V. Sc. IV. Shakspeare himself uses the phrase which he here seems to ridicule :
- Be not offended, nature's miracle !" MALONE. The phrase is only reprehensible through its misapplication. It is surely proper when applied to a woman, but ridiculous indeed when addressed to a horse. Steevens.
3- like a Kerne of Ireland, your French hose off, and in vour strait TROSSERS.] This word very frequently occurs in the old dramatick writers. A man in The Coxcomb of Beaumont and Fletcher, speaking to an Irish servant, says, “ I'll have thee fead, and trossers made of thy skin, to tumble in." Trossers appear to have been tight breeches --The Kernes of Ireland anciently rode without breeches, and therefore strait trossers, I believe, means only in their naked skin, which sits close to them. The word is still preserved, but now written--trowsers. Thus, says Randle Holme, in his Academy of Arms and Blazon, b. iii. ch. ii. : "The
Con. You have good judgment in horsemanship. Dau. Be warned by me then: they that ride
Spanish breeches are those that are stret and close to the thigh, and are buttoned up the sides from the knee with about ten or twelve buttons : anciently called trowses." STEEVENS.
“ Trowses, (says the explanatory Index to Cox's History of Ireland,) are breeches and stockings made to sit as close to the body as can be.” Several of the morris-dancers represented upon the print of my window have such hose or strait trowsers; but the poet seems, by the waggish context, to have a further meaning.
TOLLET. The following sassage in Heywood's Challenge for Beauty, 1636, proves that the ancient Irish trousers were somewhat more than mere buff:
" Manhurst. No, for my money give me your substantial English hose, round, and somewhat full afore.
“ Maid. Now they are, methinks, a little too great.
“ Manh. The more the discretion of the landlord that builds them,- he makes room enough for his tenant to stand upright in them ;-he may walk in and out at ease without stooping : but of all the rest I am clean out of love with your Irish trowses ; they are for all the world like a jealous wife, always close at a man's tavle."
"The speaker is here circumstantially describing the fashions of different countries. So again, in Bulwer's Pedigree of the English Gallant, 1653 : “Bombasted and paned hose were, since I remember, in fashion ; but now our hose are made so close to our breeches, that, like Irish trowses, they too manifestly discover the dimension of every part.” In Sir John Oldcastle, the word is spelt strouces. Collins.
The old copy reads-strossers. The correction was made by Mr. Theobald; who observes, that “ by strait trossers the poet means femoribus denudatis, for the Kerns of Ireland wore no breeches, any more than the Scotch Highlanders.” The explication is, I think, right; but that the Kerns of Ireland universally rode without breeches, may be doubted. It is clear, from Mr. Tollet's note, and from many passages in books of our author's age, that the Irish strait trossers or trowsers were not merely figurative ; though in consequence of their being made extremely tight, Shakspeare has here employed the words in an equivocal sense.
When Sir John Perrot, Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1585, in. sisted on the Irish nobility wearing the English dress, and appearing in parliament in robes, one of them, being very loth to change his old habit, requested that the deputy would order his chaplain
șo, and ride not warily, fall into foul bogs; I had rather have my horse to my mistress.
Con. I had as lief have my mistress a jade.
Dau. I tell thee, constable, my mistress wears her own hair.
Con. I could make as true a boast as that, if I had a sow to my mistress.
Dav. Le chien est retourné à son propre vomissement, et la truie lavée au bourbier : thou makest use of any thing.
Con. Yet do I not use my horse for my mistress; or any such proverb, so little kin to the purpose.
Ram. My lord constable, the armour, that I saw in your tent to-night, are those stars", or suns, upon it ?
Con. Stars, my lord.
Dau. That may be, for you bear a many superfluously; and, 'twere more honour, some were away.
Con. Even as your horse bears your praises : who would trot as well, were some of your brags dismounted.
Dau. 'Would, I were able to load him with his desert! Will it never be day? I will trot to-mor
to walk through the streets with him in trowses, “ for then, (said he,) the boys will laugh at him as well as me."
See also Ware's Antiquities and History of Ireland, ch, ii. edit. 1705 : « Of the other garments of the Irish, namely of their little coats and strait breeches, called trouses, I have little worth notice to deliver." MALONE.
6- the armour-are those STARS, &c.] This circumstance of military finery is alluded to by Sidney, in his Astrophel and Stella :
“ But if I by a happy window passe,
row a mile, and my way shall be paved with English faces.
Con. I will not say so, for fear I should be faced out of my way: But I would it were morning, for I would fain be about the ears of the English.
Ram. Who will go to hazard with me for twenty English prisoners ??
Con. You must first go yourself to hazard, ere you have them.
Dav.' 'Tis midnight, I'll go arm myself. (Exit.
Orl. By the white hand of my lady, he's a gallant prince.
Con. Swear by her foot, that she may tread out the oath.
Orl. He is, simply, the most active gentleman of France.
Con. Doing is activity; and he will still be doing. Orl. He never did harm, that I heard of.
Con. Nor will do none to-morrow; he will keep that good name still.
Orl. I know him to be valiant.
Con. I was told that, by one that knows him better than you.
Orl. What's he?
Con. Marry, he told me so himself; and he said, he cared not who knew it.
; Who will go to hazard with me for twenty English prisoners ?] So, in the old anonymous Henry V.:
“ Come and you see what me tro at the king's drummer and fife.”
“ Faith, me will tro at the earl of Northumberland; and now I will tro at the king himself,” &c.
This incident, however, might have been furnished by the Chronicle. STEEVENS.
See p. 385, n. 6. MALONE.
Orl. He needs not, it is no hidden virtue in him.
Con. By my faith, sir, but it is ; never any body saw it, but his lackey': 'tis a hooded valour; and, when it appears, it will bate'.
Orl. Ill will never said well.
Con. I will cap that proverb ? with—There is flattery in friendship.
Orl. And I will take up that with Give the devil his due.
Con. Well placed: there stands your friend for the devil: have at the very eye of that proverb, with-A pox of the devil ?.
8 — his lackey:] He has beaten nobody but his footboy.
Johnson. 9- 'tis a hooded VALOUR ; and, when it appears, it will Bate.] This is said with allusion to falcons which are kept hooded when they are not to fly at game, and, as soon as the hood is off, bait or flap the wing. The meaning is, the Dauphin's valour has never been let loose upon an enemy, yet, when he makes his first essay, we shall see how he will iuiter. JOHNSON.
See vol. xvi. p. 359, n. 3. MALONE.
“ This is a poor pun, taken from the terms used in falconry. The whole sense and sarcasm depends upon the equivoque of one word, viz. bate, in sound, but not in orthography, answering to the term bait in falconry. When the hawk is unhooded, her first action is baiting, that is, fapping her wings, as a preparation to her flying at the game. The hawk wants no courage, but invalriably baits upon taking off the hood. The Constable of France sarcastically says of the Dauphin's courage, • 'Tis a hooded valour (i. e. it is hid from every body but his lackey,) and when it appears, (by preparing to engage the enemy,) it will bate' (i. e. fall off, evaporate); and not, as Dr. Johnson supposes, bluster or flutter the wings, in allusion to the metaphor.” Suppl. to the Gent. Mag. 1789, p. 1199. Steevens.
I will cap that proverb -) Alluding to the practice of capping verses. JOHNSON.
? — with - A pox of the devil.] The quartos, 1600 and 1608, read—“ with, a jogge of the devil.” STEEVENS.
I think the reading of the quartos is right. “A jogge of the devil " means 'the devil is at your elbow, jogging you." In Heywood's Epigrams, 1566, sig. S. iii :