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Fare you well, my dove!
LAER. Hadst thou thy wits, and didst persuade revenge,
It could not move thus.
OPH. You must sing, Down a-down*, an you call him a-down-a. O, how the wheel becomes it! It is the false steward, that stole his master's daughter.
4-sing, DowN A-DOWN,] Perhaps Shakspeare alludes to Phoebe's Sonnet, by Thomas Lodge, which the reader may find in England's Helicon, 1600:
"Thus Phillis sung,
And so sing I, with downe a-downe," &c. Down a-down is likewise the burthen of a song in The Three Ladies of London, 1584, and perhaps common to many others. STEEVENS.
See Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598: "Filibustacchina, The burden of a countrie song; as we say, Hay doune a doune, douna. MALONE.
SO, how the WHEEL becomes it! &c.] The story alluded to I do not know; but perhaps the lady stolen by the steward was reduced to spin. JOHNSON.
The wheel may mean no more than the burthen of the song, which she had just repeated, and as such was formerly used. I met with the following observation in an old quarto black-letter book, published before the time of Shakspeare:
"The song was accounted a good one, thogh it was not moche graced by the wheele which in no wise accorded with the subject matter thereof."
I quote this from memory, and from a book, of which I cannot recollect the exact title or date; but the passage was in a preface to some songs or sonnets. I well remember, to have met with the word in the same sense in other old books.
Rota, indeed, as I am informed, is the ancient musical term in Latin, for the burden of a song. Dr. Farmer, however, has just favoured me with a quotation from Nicholas Breton's Toyes of an Idle Head, 1577, which at once explains the word wheel in the sense for which I have contended:
"That I may sing, full merrily,
"Not heigh ho wele, but care away!'
i. e. not with a melancholy, but a cheerful burthen.
I formerly supposed that the ballad alluded to by Ophelia, was that entered on the books of the Stationers' Company: "Octo
LAER. This nothing's more than matter.
OPH. There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray you, love, remember: and there is pansies, that's for thoughts".
ber 1580. Four ballades of the Lord of Lorn and the False Steward," &c. but Mr. Ritson assures me there is no corresponding theft in it. STEEVENS.
I am inclined to think that wheel is here used in its ordinary sense, and that these words allude to the occupation of the girl who is supposed to sing the song alluded to by Ophelia.—The following lines in Hall's Virgidemiarum, 1597, appear to me to add some support to this interpretation:
"Some drunken rimer thinks his time well spent,
So, in Sir Thomas Overbury's Characters, 1614: "She makes her hands hard with labour, and her head soft with pittie; and when winter evenings fall early, sitting at her merry wheele, she sings a defiance to the giddy wheele of fortune."
Our author likewise furnishes an authority to the same purpose. Twelfth Night, Act II. Sc. IV.:
Come, the song we had last night:
"The spinsters and the knitters in the sun,-
A musical antiquary may perhaps contend, that the controverted words of the text allude to an ancient instrument mentioned by Chaucer, and called by him a rote, by others a vielle; which was played upon by the friction of a wheel. MAlone.
6 There's rosemary, that's for remembrance ;-and there is pansies, that's for thoughts.] There is probably some mythology in the choice of these herbs, but I cannot explain it. Pansies is for thoughts, because of its name, Pensees; but why rosemary indicates remembrance, except that it is an ever-green, and carried at funerals, I have not discovered. JOHNSON.
So, in All Fools, a comedy, by Chapman, 1605:
"What flowers are these?
"The pansie this.
'O, that's for lovers' thoughts!"
Rosemary was anciently supposed to strengthan the memory, and was not only carried at funerals, but worn at weddings, as appears from a passage in Beaumont and Fletcher's Elder Brother, Act III. Sc. III.
LAER. A document in madness; thoughts and remembrance fitted.
OPH. There's fennel for you, and columbines":
And from another in Ram Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611: will I be wed this morning,
"Thou shalt not be there, nor once be graced with
Again, in The Noble Spanish Soldier, 1634: "I meet few but are stuck with rosemary: every one asked me who was to be married."
Again, in Greene's Never too Late, 1616: " she hath given thee a nosegay of flowers, wherein, as a top-gallant for all the rest, is set in rosemary for remembrance."
Again, in A Dialogue between Nature and the Phoenix, by R. Chester, 1601 :
"There's rosemarie; the Arabians justifie
(Physitions of exceeding perfect skill)
"It comforteth the braine and memorie," &c.
Rosemary being supposed to strengthen the memory, was the emblem of fidelity in lovers. So, in A Handfull of Pleasant Delites, containing Sundrie New Sonets, 16mo. 1584:
Rosemary is for remembrance
The poem in which these lines are found, is entitled A Nosegaie alwaies Sweet for Lovers to send for Tokens of Love, &c. MALONE.
7 There's FENNEL for you, and COLUMBINES:] Greene, in his Quip for an Upstart Courtier, 1620, calls fennel, women's weeds: "fit generally for that sex, sith while they are maidens, they wish wantonly."
Among Turbervile's Epitaphes, &c. p. 42, b. I likewise find the following mention of fennel:
"Your fennell did declare
(As simple men can shewe)
"That flattrie in my breast I bare,
"Where friendship ought to grow."
I know not of what columbines were supposed to be emblematical. They are again mentioned in All Fools, by Chapman, 1605: "What's that?-a columbine?
"No: that thankless flower grows not in my garden." Gerard, however, and other herbalists, impute few, if any, virtues to them; and they may therefore be styled thankless, because they appear to make no grateful return for their creation.
-there's rue for you; and here's some for me :we may call it, herb of grace o'Sundays":-you
Again, in the 15th Song of Drayton's Polyolbion :
"The columbine amongst, they sparingly do set."
From the Caltha Poetarum, 1599, it should seem as if this flower was the emblem of cuckoldom :
"the blue cornuted columbine,
"Like to the crooked horns of Acheloy." STEEvens. Columbine was an emblem of cuckoldom on account of the horns of its nectaria, which are remarkable in this plant. See Aquilegia, in Linnæus's Genera, 684. S. W.
The columbine was emblematical of forsaken lovers: "The columbine in tawny often taken,
"Is then ascribed to such as are forsaken."
Browne's Britannia's Pastorals, b. i. song ii. 1613.
Ophelia gives her fennel and columbines to the king. In the collection of Sonnets quoted above, the former is thus mentioned:
"Fennel is for flatterers,
"An evil thing 'tis sure;
"But I have alwaies meant truely,
With constant heart most pure."
See also, Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598: "Dare finocchio, to give fennel,-to flatter, to dissemble." MALONE.
there's RUE for you; and here's some for me:-we may call it, HERB OF GRACE O'SUNDAYS: &c.] I believe there is a quibble meant in this passage; rue anciently signifying the same as ruth, i. e. sorrow. Ophelia gives the Queen some, and keeps a proportion of it for herself. There is the same kind of play with the same word in King Richard II.
Herb of grace is one of the titles which Tucca gives to William Rufus, in Decker's Satiromastix. I suppose the first syllable of the surname Rufus introduced the quibble.
In Doctor Do-good's Directions, an ancient ballad, is the same allusion :
"If a man have light fingers that he cannot charme,
The following passage from Greene's Quip for an Upstart Courtier, will furnish the best reason for calling rue herb of grace o'Sundays: some of them smil'd and said, Rue was called Herbegrace, which though they scorned in their youth, they might wear in their age, and that it was never too late to say miserere." HENLEY.
may wear your rue with a difference 9.-There's a daisy1:—I would give you some violets; but they withered all, when my father died 2:-They say, he made a good end,
*First folio, Oh you must wear.
Herb of grace was not the Sunday name, but the every day name of rue. In the common Dictionaries of Shakspeare's time it is called herb of grace. See Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598, in v. ruta, and Cotgrave's French Dictionary, 1611, in v. rue. There is no ground, therefore, for supposing with Dr. Warburton, that rue was called herb of grace, from its being used in exorcisms performed in churches on Sundays.
Ophelia only means, I think, that the Queen may with peculiar propriety on Sundays, when she solicits pardon for that crime which she has so much occasion to rue and repent of, call her rue, herb of grace. So, in King Richard II.:
"Here did she drop a tear; here in this place
"Rue, even for ruth, here shortly shall be seen,
Ophelia, after having given the Queen rue to remind her of the sorrow and contrition she ought to feel for her incestuous marriage, tells her, she may wear it with a difference, to distinguish it from that worn by Ophelia herself; because her tears flowed from the loss of a father, those of the Queen ought to flow for her guilt.
9- you may wear your rue WITH A DIFFERENCE.] This seems to refer to the rules of heraldry, where the younger brothers of a family bear the same arms with a difference, or mark of distinction. So, in Holinshed's Reign of King Richard II. p. 443: “— because he was the youngest of the Spensers, he bare a border gules for a difference."
There may, however, be somewhat more implied here than is expressed. You, madam, (says Ophelia to the Queen,) may call your rue by its Sunday name, herb of grace, and so wear it with a difference to distinguish it from mine, which can never be any thing but merely rue, i. e. sorrow. STEEVENS.
There's a DAISY :] Greene, in his Quip for an Upstart Courtier, has explained the significance of this flower: "Next them grew the dissembling daisie, to warne such light-of-love wenches not to trust every faire promise that such amorous bachelors make them." HENLEY.
2 I would give you some violets; but they wither'd all, when my father died:] So, in Bion's beautiful elegy on the death of Adonis :