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AJAX. You whoreson cur ! [Beating him.
THER. Ay,do,do; thou sodden-witted lord! thou hast no more brain than I have in mine elbows; an assinego? may tutor thee: Thou scurvy valiant
reduced into a liniment.” Again, Book XXIX. ch. iv : “ The gall of these lizards punned and dissolved in water." STEEVENS.
Cole, in his Dictionary, renders it by the Latin words contero, contundo. Mr. Pope, who altered whatever he did not understand, reads-pound, and was followed by three subsequent editors.
MALONE. 6 Thou stool for a witch!] In one way of trying a witch they used to place her on a chair or stool, with her legs tied across, that all the weight of her body might rest upon her seat; and by that means, after some time, the circulation of the blood would be much stopped, and her sitting would be as painful as the wooden horse. GREY.
an assinego-) I am not very certain what the idea conveyed by this word was meant to be." Asinaio is Italian, says Sir T. Hanmer, for an ass-driver: but, in Mirza, a tragedy, by Rob. Baron, Act III. the following passage occurs, with a note annexed to it:
the stout trusty blade,
“ Asunder like a thread.“ This (says the author) is the usual trial of the Persian shamsheers, or cemiters, which are crooked like a crescent, of so good metal, that they prefer them before any other, and so sharp as any razor."
I hope, for the credit of the prince, that the experiment was rather made on an ass, than an ass-driver. From the following passage I should suppose asinego to be merely a cant term for a foolish fellow, an idiot : “ They apparelled me as you see, made a fool, or an asinego of me.” See The Antiquary, a comedy, by S. Marmion, 1641. Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady: “-all this would be forsworn, and I again an asinego, as your sister left me.” STEEVENS.
Asinego is Portuguese for a little ass. MusGRAVE.
ass! thou art here put to thrash Trojans; and thou art bought and sold among those of any wit, like a Barbarian slave. If thou use to beat me, I will begin at thy heel, and tell what thou art by inches, thou thing of no bowels, thou!
AJAX. You dog!
[Beating him. Ther. Mars his idiot! do, rudeness; do, camel; do, do.
Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS.
Achil. Why, how now, Ajax ? wherefore do
you thus? How now, Thersites? what's the matter, man?
Ther. You see him there, do you?
And Dr. Musgrave might have added, that, in his native county, it is the vulgar name for an ass at present. HENLEY. The same term, as I am informed, is also current among
the lower rank of people in Norfolk. STEEVENS.
An asinego is a he ass. " A souldiers wife abounding with more lust than love, complaines to the king, her husband did not satisfie her, whereas he makes her to be coupled to an asinego, whose villainy and lust took away her life.”
Herbert's Travels, 1634, p. 98. · Ritson. thou art bought and sold-] This was a proverbial expression. MALONE. So, in King Richard III:
“ For Dickon thy master is bought and sold." Again, in King Henry VI. Part I:
“ From bought and sold lord Talbot.” STEEVENS. 9 If thou use to beat me,] i. e. if thou continue to beat me, or make a practice of beating me.
THER. Nay, look upon
THER. But yet you look not well upon him: for, whosoever you
take him to be, he is Ajax,
THER. Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit he utters! his evasions have ears thus long. I have bobbed his brain, more than he has beat my bones: I will buy nine sparrows for a penny, and his pia mater' is not worth the ninth part of a sparrow. This lord, Achilles, Ajax,—who wears his wit in his belly, and his guts in his head,—I'll tell you what I say of him.
[Ajax offers to strike him, ACHILLES
interposes. THER. Has not so much wit ACHIL. Nay, I must hold
you. THER. As will stop the eye of Helen's needļe, for whom he comes to fight.
ACHIL. Peace, fool!
' --- his pia mater &c.] So, in Twelfth Night : "-here comes one of thy kin has a most weak pia mater.". mater is a membrane that protects the substance of the brain.
THER. I would have peace and quietness, but the fool will not: he there; that he; look you there.
AJAX. O thou damned cur! I shall
THER. No, I warrant you; for a fool's will shame it.
PATR. Good words, Thersites.
AJAX. I bade the vile owl, go learn me the tenour of the proclamation, and he rails upon me.
THER. I serve thee not.
Achil. Your last service was sufferance, 'twas not voluntary; no man is beaten voluntary;? Ajax was here the voluntary, and you as under an impress. THER. Even so ?—a great deal of your
wit too lies in your sinews, or else there be liars. Hector shall have a great catch, if he knock out either of your brains ;; 'a were as good crack a fusty nut with no kernel.
ACHIL. What, with me too, Thersites? THER. There's Ulysses, and old Nestor,--whose wit was mouldy ere your grandsires had nails4 on
-is beaten voluntary;] i.e. voluntarily. Shakspeare often uses adjectives adverbially. See Vol. XI. p. 386, n. 9.
MALONE. 3 Hector shall have a great catch, if he knock out either of your brains ; &c.] The same thought occurs in Cymbeline:
not Hercules « Could have knockd out his brains, for he had none."
STEEVENS. Nestor,—whose wit was mouldy ere your grandsires had nails - ] (Old copies--their grandsires.] This is one of
their toes ---yoke you like draught oxen, and make you plough up the warş.
ACHIL. What, what?
THER. Yes, good sooth; To, Achilles ! to, Ajax! to!
AJAX. I shall cut out your tongue.
THER. 'Tis no matter; I shall speak as much as thou, afterwards.
PATR. No more words, Thersites; peace.
Ther. I will hold my peace when Achilles' brach bids me,5 shall I ?
these editors' wise riddles. What! was Nestor's wit mouldy before his grandsire's toes had nails ? Preposterous nonsense! and yet so easy a change as one poor pronoun for another, sets all right and clear. THEOBALD.
-when Achilles' brach bids me,] The folio and quarto read-Achilles brooch. Brooch is an appendant ornament. The meaning may be equivalent to one of Achilles' hangers-on.
JOHNSON, Brach I believe to be the true reading. He calls Patroclus, in contempt, Achilles's dog. So, in Timon of Athens :
“When thou art Timon's dog" &c. A brooch was a cluster of gems affixed to a pin, and anciently worn in the hats of people of distinction. See the portrait of Sir Christopher Hatton. STEEVENS.
I believe brache to be the true reading. It certainly means a bitch, and not a dog, which renders the expression more abusive and offensive. Thersites calls Patroclus Achilles' brache, for the same reason that he afterwards calls him his male harlot, and his masculine whore M. Mason.
I have little doubt of broch being the true reading, as a term of contempt.
The meaning of broche is well ascertained--a spit-a bodkin; which being formerly used in the ladies' dress, was adorned with jewels, and gold and silver ornaments. Hence in old lists of jewels are found brotchets.
I have a very magnificent one, which is figured and described by Pennant, in the second volume of his Tourto Scotland, in 1772,