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Wilnecote, (or Wincot,) is a village in Warwickshire, near Strate ford. I suppose, therefore, in a former scene, we should read Wincot instead of Woncot.

MALONE. Line 357. Let king Cophetua &c.] The ballad of The king (Cophetua) and the Beggar, may be found in Percy's Reliques of Ancient Poetry, vol. I.

MALONE. Line 364. Why then, lament therefore.] This was perhaps in tended to be ridiculed by Ben Jonson, in his Poetaster, 1602 :

Why then, lament therefore. Damn'd be thy guts

“ Unto king Pluto's hell.” He might, however, have meant nothing more than to quote a popular play.

MALONE. Line 369. Bezonian?] From bisognoso, a needy persons thence, metaphorically, a base scoundrel.

THEOBALD. Line 377. fig me, &c.] To fig, in Spanish, higas dar, is to insult by putting the thumb between the fore and middle finger. From this Spanish custom we yet say in contempt, you."


a fig for

ACT V. SCENE IV. Line 410. Nut-hook, 8c.] It has been already observed, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, that nut-hook seems to have been in those times a name of reproach for a catchpoll. JOHNSON,

A nut-hook was, I believe, a person who stole linen, &e. out at windows, by means of a pole with a hook at the end of it.

STEEVENS. Line 424.

-blue-bottle-rogue !} A name, I suppose, given to the beadle, from the colour of his livery.

JOHNSON: Dr. Johnson is right with respect to the livery, but the allusion seems to be to the great flesh fly, commonly called a blue-bottle.

FARMER: Line 426. half-kirtles.] A half-kirtle was I suppose the same kind of thing as we call at present a short-gown, or a beda gown. There is a proverbial expression now in use which may serve to confirm it. When a person is loosely dressed, they say Such a one looks like a win a bed-gown.

STEEVENS: Line 435. Thou atomy thou] Atomy, i. e. anatomy.

ACT V. SCENE V. Line 438. More rushes, &c.] It has been already observed, that, at ceremonial entertainments, it was the custom to strew the floor with rushes. Caius de Ephemera.

JOHNSON. Line 496. — profane ;] In our author it often signifies love of talk, without the particular idea now given it. So, in Othello: Is he not a profune and very liberal counsellor ?" JOHNSON.

Line 499. —know, the grave doth gape &c.] Nature is highly touched in this passage. The king having shaken off his vanities, schools his old companion for his follies with great severity: he assumes the air of a preacher, bids him fall to his prayers, seek grace, and leave gormandizing. But that word unluckily presenting him with a pleasant idea, he cannot forbear pur. suing it. Know, the grave doth gape for thee thrice wider, &c. and is just falling back into Hal, by an humorous allusion to Falstaff's bulk; but he perceives it immediately, and fearing Sir John should take the advantage of it, checks both himself and the knight, with

Reply not to me with a fool-born jest; and so resumes the thread of his discourse, and goes moralizing on to the end of the chapter. Thus the poet copies nature with great skill, and shows us how apt men are to fall back into their old customs, when the change is not made by degrees, and brought into a habit, but determined of at once, on the motives of honour, interest, or reason.

WARBURTON. Line 511. Not to come near our person &c.] Mr. Rowe observes, that many readers lament to see Falstaff so hardly used by his old friend. But if it be considered, that the fat knight has never uttered one sentiment of generosity, and with all his power of exciting mirth, has nothing in him that can be esteemed, no great pain will be suffered from the reflection that he is compelled to live honestly, and maintained by the king, with a promise of advancement when he shall deserve it.

I think the poet more blameable for Poins, who is always represented as joining some virtues with his vices, and is therefore treated by the prince with apparent distinction, yet he does nothing in the time of action; and though after the bustle is over he is again a favourite, at last vanishes without notice. Shakspeare certainly lost him by heedlessness, in the multiplicity of his characters, the variety of his action, and his eagerness to end the play.

Johnson. Line 541. -to the Fleet;] I do not see why Falstaff is carried to the Fleet. We have never lost sight of him since his dismission from the king; he has committed no new fault, and therefore incurred no punishment; but the different agitations of fear, anger, and surprize in him and his company, made a good scene to the eye; and our author, who wanted them no longer on the stage, was glad to find this method of sweeping them away.

JOHNSON. I fancy every reader, when he ends this play, cries out with Desdemona, O most lame and impotent conclusion !" As this play was not, to our knowledge, divided into acts by the author, I could be content to conclude it with the death of Henry the Fourth:

“ In that Jerusalem shall Harry die." These scenes, which now make the fifth act of Henry the Fourth, might then be the first of Henry the Fifth ; but the truth is, that they do not unite very commodiously to either play. When these plays were represented, I believe they ended as they are now ended in the books; but Shakspeare seems to have designed that the whole series of action, from the beginning of Richard the Second, to the end of Henry the Fifth, should be considered by the reader as one work, upon one plan, only broken into parts by the necessity of exhibition.




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Line 1. 0, for a muse of fire, &c.] This goes upon the notion of the Peripatetic system, which imagines several heavens one above another; the last and highest of which was one of fire.

WARBURTON. It alludes likewise to the aspiring nature of fire, which, by its levity, at the separation of the chaos, took the highest seat of all the elements.

JOHNSON. Line 3. - princes to act, &c.] Shakspeare does not seem to set distance enough between the performers and spectators.

JOHNSON. Line 14. Within this wooden 0,] Nothing shows more evidently the power of custom over language, than that the frequent use of calling a circle an 0 could so much hide the meanness of the metaphor from Shakspeare, that he has used it many times where he makes his most eager attempts at dignity of style.

JOHNSON. Mr. Henley very judiciously observes, that this is an allusion to the Globe playhouse, which was circular.

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