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2 Lord. Bring him forth. [Exeunt Soldiers.] He has sat in the stocks all night, poor gallant knave.
Ber. No matter; his heels have deserved it, in usurping his spurs so long. How does he carry himself?
1 Lord. I have told your lordship already, the stocks carry him. But to answer you as you would be understood; he weeps like a wench that had shed her milk : he hath confessed himself to Morgan, whom he supposes to be a friar, from the time of his remembrance, to this very instant disaster of his setting i’the stocks. And what think you he hath confessed?
Ber. Nothing of me, has he?
2 Lord. His confession is taken, and it shall be read to his face: if your lordship be in't, as I believe you are, you must have the patience to hear it.
Re-enter Soldiers with PAROLLES. Ber. A plague upon him!
Muffled! he can say nothing of me; hush! hush!
1 Lord. Hoodman ? comes !-Porto tartarossa.
you say without 'em ?
Par. I will confess what I know without constraint; if ye pinch me like a pasty, I can say no more.
1 Sold. Bosko chimurcho.
1 Sold. You are a merciful general.—Our general bids you to answer to what I shall ask you out of a note.
Par. And truly, as I hope to live.
1 Sold. First demand of him how many horse the duke is strong? What say you to that?
Par. Five or six thousand; but very weak and unserviceable. The troops are all scattered, and the commanders very poor rogues, upon my reputation and credit, as I hope to live.
1 Sold. Shall I set down your answer so?
1 An allusion to the degradation of a knight by hacking off his spurs. 2 The game at blind-man's-buff was formerly called Hoodman blind.
Par. Do; I'll take the sacrament on't, how and which way you will.
Ber. All's one to him. What a past-saving slave is this ! 1
1 Lord. You are deceived, my lord; this is monsieur Parolles, the gallant militarist, (that was his own phrase,) that had the whole theorick” of war in the Înot of his scarf, and the practice in the chape 3 of his dagger.
2 Lord. I will never trust a man again for keeping his sword clean ; nor believe he can have every thing in him, by wearing his apparel neatly.
1 Sold. Well, that's set down.
Par. Five or six thousand horse, I said.—I will say true; or thereabouts, set down, for I'll speak truth.
1 Lord. He's very near the truth in this.
Ber. But I con him no thanks 4 for't, in the nature he delivers it.
Par. Poor rogues, I pray you, say. 1 Sold. Well, that's set down.
Par. I humbly thank you, sir : a truth's a truth, the rogues are marvellous poor.
1 Sold. Demand of him, of what strength they are a-foot. What say you to that?
Par. By my troth, sir, if I were to live this present hour,5 I will tell true. Let me see: Spurio a hundred and fifty, Sebastian so many, Corambus so many, Jaques so mapy; Guiltian, Cosmo, Lodowick, and Gratii, two hundred fifty each; mine own company, Chitopher, Vaumond, Bentii, two hundred and fifty each; so that the muster-file, rotten and sound, upon my life, amounts not to fifteen thousand poll; half of which dare not shake the snow from off their cassocks, lest they shake themselves to pieces.
1 In the old copy these words are given by mistake to Parolles.
5 Perhaps we should read, “ if I were but to live this present hour;" unless the blunder is meant to show the fright of Parolles.
6 « Cassocks ;" soldiers' cloaks or upper garments.
Ber. What shall be done to him?
1 Lord. Nothing, but let him have thanks. Demand of him my conditions, and what credit I have with the duke.
1 Sold. Well, that's set down. You shall demand of him, whether one captain Dumain be ithe camp, a Frenchman ; what his reputation is with the duke, what his valor, honesty, and expertness in wars; or whether he thinks it were not possible, with well-weighing sums of gold, to corrupt him to a revolt.
What say you to this? What do you know of it?
Par. I beseech you, let me answer to the particular of the intergatories. Demand them singly.
1 Sold. Do you know this captain Dumain ?
Par. I know him: he was a botcher's 'prentice in Paris, from whence he was whipped for getting the sheriff's fool' with child; a dumb innocent, that could
. Ber. Nay, by your leave, hold your hands; though I know his brains are forfeit to the next tile that falls. 1 Sold. Well
, is this captain in the duke of Florence's camp?
Par. Upon my knowledge, he is, and lousy.
1 Lord. Nay, look not so upon me; we shall hear of your lordship anon.
i Sold. What is his reputation with the duke?
Par. The duke knows him for no other but a poor officer of mine; and writ to me, this other day, to turn him out o'the band. I think I have his letter in my pocket.
1 Sold. Marry, we'll search.
1 i. e. disposition and character. 2 For interrogatories.
3 Female idiots, as well as male, though not so commonly, were retained in great families for diversion.
4 In Whitney's Emblems there is a story of three women who threw dice to ascertain which of them should die first. She who lost affected to laugh at the decrees of fate, when a tile suddenly falling put an end to her existence. This book was certainly known to Shakspeare. The passages in Lucian and Plutarch are not so likely to have met the
Par. In good sadness, I do not know; either it is there, or it is upon a file, with the duke's other letters, in
1 Sold. Here 'tis; here's a paper! Shall I read it to you?
Par. I do not know if it be it, or no. Ber. Our interpreter does it well. 1 Lord. Excellently. 1 Sold. Dian. The count's a fool, and full of
gold, Par. That is not the duke's letter, sir; that is an advertisement to a proper maid in Florence, one Diana, to take heed of the allurement of one count Rousillon, a foolish, idle boy, but for all that very ruttish. I pray you, sir, put it up again.
1 Sold. Nay, I'll read it first, by your favor.
Par. My meaning in’t, I protest, was very honest in the behalf of the maid; for I knew the young count to be a dangerous and lascivious boy; who is a whale to virginity, and devours up all the fry it finds.
Ber. Damnable, both sides rogue! 1 Sold. When he swears oaths, bid him drop gold,
and take it; After he scores, he never pays the score : Half won, is match well made ; match, and well make
pays before, but not when he does owe it.
PAROLLES. Ber. He shall be whipped through the army with this rhyme in his forehead.
1 i. e. a match well made is half won; make your match, therefore, but make it well.
2 The meaning of the word mell, from meler (French), is obvious. To mell, says Ruddiman,“ to fight, contend, meddle or have to do with.”
2 Lord. This is your devoted friend, sir, the manifold linguist, and the armipotent soldier.
Ber. I could endure any thing before but a cat, and now he's a cat to me.
1 Sold. I perceive, sir, by the general's looks, we shall be fain to hang you.
Par. My life, sir, in any case: not that I am afraid to die ; but that, my offences being many, I would repent out the remainder of nature; let me live, sir, in a dungeon, i'the stocks, or any where, so I may live.
1 Sold. We'll see what may be done, so you confess freely; therefore, once more to this captain Dumain : You have answered to his reputation with the duke, and to his valor ; what is his honesty?
Par. He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister; for rapes and ravishments he parallels Nessus. He professes not keeping of oaths; in breaking them, he is stronger than Hercules. He will lie, sir, with such volubility, that you would think truth were a fool. Drunkenness is his best virtue; for he will be swinedrunk; and in his sleep he does little harm, save to his bed-clothes about him; but they know his conditions, and lay him in straw.
I have but little more to say, sir, of his honesty: he has every thing that an honest man should not have; what an honest man should have, he has nothing.
1 Lord. I begin to love him for this.
Ber. For this description of thine honesty ? A pox upon him for me; he is more and more a cat.
1 Sold. What say you to his expertness in war?
Par. Faith, sir, he has led the drum before the English tragedians,—to belie him, I will not,—and more of his soldiership I know not; except in that country, he had the honor to be the officer at a place there called Mile End, to instruct for the doubling of files. I would do the man what honor I can, but of this I am not certain.
1 The Centaur killed by Hercules.
2 Mile End Green was the place for public sports and exercises. Sea K, Henry IV. P. II. Act iii, Sć, 2.