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the plough for her sweet love three years. But, most esteemed greatness, will you
hear the dialogue that the two learned men have compiled, in praise of the owl and the cuckoo? it should have followed in the end of our show.
King. Call them forth quickly, we will do so.
COSTARD, and others.
And lady-smocks all silver-white,
Do paint the meadows with delight,
And merry larks are ploughmen's clocks,
And maidens bleach their summer smocks,
70 Gerarde in his Herbal, 1597, says, that the flos cuculi cardamine, &c. are called 'in English cuckoo flowers, in Norfolk Canterbury bells, and at Namptwich, in Cheshire, Ladie-smocks.' In Lyte's Herbal, 1578, it is remarked, that cowslips are, in French, of some called coquu prime vere, and brayes de coquu. Herbe a coqu was one of the old French names for the cowslip, which it seems probable is the flower here meant. See Lear, Act i. Sc. 4.
The cuckoo, then, on every tree,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot72, . 71 This wild English apple, roasted before the fire, and put into ale, was a very favourite indulgence in old times.
72 To keel, or kele, is to cool, from Celan, Anglo Saxon. Latterly it seems to have been applied particularly to the cooling of boiling liquor. To keel the pot is to cool it by stirring the pottage with the ladle to prevent the boiling over. Tooke was unaware of the following ancient example, or he would have been less severe upon the commentators:
* And lered men a ladel bygge, with a long stele
P. Plouhman, p. 380. Ed. 1813.
Arm. The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo. You, that way; we, this way.
In this play, which all the editors have concurred to censure, and some have rejected as unworthy of our poet, it must be confessed that there are many passages mean, childish, and vulgar; and some which ought not to have been exhibited, as we are told they were, to a maiden queen. But there are scattered through the whole many sparks of genius; nor is there any play that has more evident marks of the hand of Shakspeare. JOHNSON,