Laid on with a trowel
Bon jour, Monsieur Le Beau. What's the news?
Fair princess, you have lost much good sport.
Sport! of what color?
What color, madam? How shall I answer you?
As wit and fortune will.
Or as the Destinies decrees.
Well said—that was laid on with a trowel.
No doubt, masons and bricklayers, when discussing their mortar,
had used the phrase "laid on with a trowel" long before Shakespeare
got to it; but its metaphorical and proverbial forms are probably
the Bard's invention. The young lady Celia uses the figure to
describe language that's plastered on, not with workmanlike care,
but with unsubtle force. The clown Touchstone's inflated language
itself parodies the lady Rosalind's courtly discourse, just as
Rosalind makes fun of Le Beau's unspontaneous phraseology. While
Celia refers to Touchstone's crude linguistic workmanship, our use
of the phrase is slightly different. Le Beau's sort of "polite"
language, a little too elegant and weighty for the situation, is
the usual object of the phrase "laid on with a trowel"—eagerly
What Le Beau has come to announce is a wrestling match—the "good
sport" sponsored by Celia's uncle, who is now Duke. At this match,
Rosalind will meet her future husband, but they won't be married
before Shakespeare has put them through the comic wringer.