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Sail like my pinnace to those golden shores.
It may be observed, that in the tracts of that time anchor and author could hardly be distinguished. JOHNSON.
Line 383. As many devils entertain, &c.] The old quarto reads,
As many devils attend her, &c.
Line 390. eyliads:] This word is differently spelt in all the copies. I suppose we should write oëillades, French.
Line 393. -that humour.] What distinguishes the language of Nym from that of the other attendants on Falstaff, is the constant repetition of this phrase. In the time of Shakspeare such an incident seems to have been sufficient to mark a character. STEEVENS.
Line 398. she is a region in Guiana, all gold and bounty.] If the tradition be true (as I doubt not but it is) of this play being wrote at queen Elizabeth's command, this passage, perhaps, may furnish a probable conjecture that it could not appear till after the year 1598 The mention of Guiana, then so lately discovered to the English, was a very happy compliment to Sir Walter Raleigh, who did not begin his expedition for South America till 1595, and returned from it in 1596, with an advantageous account of the great wealth of Guiana. Such an address of the poet was likely, I imagine, to have a proper impression on the people, when the intelligence of such a golden country was fresh in their minds, and gave them expectations of immense gain. THEOBALD.
Line 399. I will be 'Cheater to them both, and they shall be Exchequers to me;] The same joke is intended
here, as in The Second Part of Henry the Fourth, Act 2.
-I will bar no honest man my house, nor no Cheater.By which is meant Escheatour, an officer in the Exchequer, in no good repute with the common people.
Line 417. Let vultures gripe thy guts!
-] This hemistich is
a burlesque on a passage in Tamburlaine, or The Scythian Shepherd, of which a more particular account is given in one of the notes to Henry IV.
-for gourd, and fullam holds,
And high and low beguile the rich and poor.] Fullam is a cant term for false dice, high and low. As for gourd, or rather gord, it was another instrument of gaming, as appears from
Beaumont and Fletcher's Scornful Lady-And thy dry bones can reach at nothing now, but GORDS or nine-pins. WARBURTON.
In the London Prodigal I find the following enumeration of false dice." I bequeath two bale of false dice, videlicet, high "men and low men, fulloms, stop cater-traies, and other bones of function." STEEVENS. Line 435.
—yellowness;—] Yellowness is jealousy.
the revolt of mien- -] I suppose we may read, the revolt of men. Sir T. Hanmer reads, this revolt of mine. Either may serve, for of the present text I can find no meaning.
The revolt of mine is the old reading. Revolt of mein would signify change of countenance, one of the effects he has just been ascribing to jealousy. STEEVENS,
ster is in bed.
Line 449. -451.
ACT I. SCENE IV.
-at the latter end, &c.] That is, when my ma
-no breed-bate:- -] i. e. No mischief-maker. peevish] i. e. Silly. The expression peevish,
so frequent in our author, means, not fretful, but foolish, or
signifies very little.
-a little wee face,] Wee, in the northern dialect,
So in Heywood's Fair Maid of the West. Com. 1631. "He "was nothing so tall as I, but a little wee man, and somewhat "hutch-back'd."
Line 460. -a Cain-colour'd beard.] Cain and Judas, in the tapestries and pictures of old, were represented with yellow beards. THEOBALD.
In an age when but a small part of the nation could read, ideas were frequently borrowed from representations in painting or tapestry.
-as tall a man of his hands,] Reckoning by
-Doctor Caius.] In the reign of queen Elizabeth flourished an eminent physician of this name, who founded
Caius College; it is not unlikely, that he borrowed this name from him, without knowing his private history, merely from being a popular character.
Line 483. un boitier verd ;- -] Boitier in French signifies a case of surgeon's instruments,
de jack priest;] A term of derision. -but I detest,] Means, I protest.
ACT II. SCENE I.
Line 5. though love use reason for his precisian, he admits him not for his counsellor:- -] This is obscure; but the meaning is, though love permit reason to tell what is fit to be done, he seldom follows its advice.—By precisian, is meant one who pretends to a more than ordinary degree of virtue and sanctity. On which account they gave this name to the puritans of that time. So Osborne-Conform their mode, words, and looks, to these PRECISIANS. WARBURTON.
—precisian,—] Of this word I do not see any meaning that is very apposite to the present intention. Perhaps Falstaff said, Though love use reason as his physician, he admits him not for his counsellor. This will be plain sense. Ask not the reason of my love; the business of reason is not to assist love, but to cure it. There may however be this meaning in the present reading. Though love, when he would submit to regulation, may use reason as his precisian, or director in nice cases, yet when he is only eager to attain his end, he takes not reason for his counsellor.
Dr. Farmer is of Johnson's opinion, that physician is the true reading.
Line 26. -I was then frugal of my mirth, &c.] By breaking this speech into exclamations, the text may stand; but I once thought it must be read, If I was not then frugal of my mirth.
JOHNSON. Line 28. -a bill in the parliament for the putting down of men.] What, Mrs. Page, put down the whole species, Unius ob noxam, for a single offender's trespass? Don't be so unreasonable in your anger. But 'tis a false charge against you. I am per
suaded a short monosyllable is dropped out, which, once restored, would qualify the matter. We must necessarily read-for the putting down of fat men. Mrs. Ford says in the very ensuing scene, I shall think the worse of fat men as long as I have an eye, &c. And he is called the fat knight, the greasy knight, by the women, throughout the play. THEOBALD.
-I'll exhibit a bill in parliament for putting down of MEN.] Mr. Theobald says, we must necessarily read-for putting down of fat men. But how is the matter mended? or the thought made less ridiculous? Shakspeare wrote-for the putting down of MUM, i. e. the fattening liquor so called. So Fletcher in his Wild Goose Chase: "What a cold I have over my stomach, would I had some MUM." This is truly humorous, and agrees with the character she had just before given him of Flemish drunkards.
I do not see that any alteration is necessary; if it were, either of the foregoing conjectures might serve the turn. But surely Mrs. Ford may naturally enough, in the first heat of her anger, rail at the sex for the fault of one. JOHNSON.
Line 49. What ?—thou liest !—Sir Alice Ford!-These knights will hack, and so thou shouldst not alter the article of thy gentry.] I read thus-These knights we'll hack, and so thou shouldcst not alter the article of thy gentry. The punishment of a recreant or undeserving knight, was to hack off his spurs: the meaning therefore is; it is not worth the while of a gentlewoman to be made a knight, for we'll degrade all these knights in a little time, by the usual form of hacking off their spurs, and thou, if thou art knighted, shalt be hacked with the rest. JOHNSON.
Sir Thomas Hanmer says, to hack, means to turn hackney, or prostitute. I suppose he means-These knights will degrade themselves, so that she will acquire no honour by being connected with them. Perhaps the passage has been hitherto entirely misunderstood. To hack, is an expression used in the ridiculous scene between Quickly, Evans, and the Boy, and signifies, to do mischief. The sense of this passage may therefore be, these knights are a riotous, dissolute sort of people, and on that account thou shouldst not wish to be of the number. STEEVENS.
Line 62, -Green Sleeves.-] A wanton ballad then in vogue. 77. —press,-] Press is used ambiguously, for a press to JOHNSON.
print, and a press to squeeze.
Line 87. -some strain in me,- -] Thus the old copies. The modern editors read, " some stain in me," but I think unnecessarily. A similar expression occurs in The Winter's Tale: "With what encounter so uncurrent, have I
"Strain'd to appear thus ?"
curtail-dog-] That is, a dog that misses
his game. The tail is counted necessary to the agility of a grey
Line 116. 116.
gally-mawfry;—] i. e. A medley.
-Ford, perpend.] i. e. Consider well.
With liver burning hot:] The same expression we
find in Much Ado about Nothing.
Line 126. cuckoo-birds do sing.] Such is the reading of the folio, and the quarto 1630. The quarto 1619 reads-when cuckoobirds appear. The modern editors-when cuckoo-birds affright. For this last reading I find no authority. STEEVENS.
Line 128, Away, Sir corporal Nym.
Believe it, Page, he speaks sense.] Nym, I believe,
is out of place, and we should read thus:
Away, Sir corporal.
Believe it, Page, he speaks sense.
Nym. Line 135. I have a sword, and it shall bite upon my necessity. He loves your wife; &c.] Nym, to gain credit, says, that he is above the mean office of carrying love-letters; he has nobler means of living; he has a sword, and upon his necessity, that is, when his need drives him to unlawful expedients, his sword shall bite, JOHNSON.
Line 147. I will not believe such a Cataian,-] All the mystery of the term Cataian, for a liar, is only this. China was anciently called Cataia or Cathay, by the first adventurers that travelled thither; such as M. Paulo, and our Mandeville; who told such incredible wonders of this new discovered empire (in which they have not been outdone even by the Jesuits themselves, who followed them), that a notorious liar was usually called a Cataian.