Page images

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, Dr. GREY.

Line 554. -

-de jack priest;] A term of derision.
-but I detest,] Means, I protest.


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.

JOHNSON. 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.


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 print, and a press to squeeze. JOHNSON.

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


Line 110.

"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 greyhound. JOHNSON.

Line 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.


"This fellow has such an odd appearance; is so unlike a man "civilized, and taught the duties of life, that I cannot credit "him." To be a foreigner was always in England, and I suppose every where else, a reason of dislike. So Pistol calls Slender, in the first act, a mountain foreigner; that is, a fellow uneducated, and of gross behaviour; and again in his anger calls Bardolph, Hungarian wight. JOHNSON. Line 169. Very rogues, now they be out of service.] A rogue is a wanderer or vagabond, and, in its consequential signification, a cheat. JOHNSON. Line 220. and tell him, my name is Brook ;- -] Thus both the old quartos; and thus most certainly the poet wrote. We need no better evidence than the pun that Falstaff anon makes on the name, when Brook sends him some burnt sack.

Such Brooks are welcome to me, that overflow with such liquor. The players, in their editions, altered the name to Broom.

[ocr errors]


Line 223. Will you go on, hearts] We should read, Will · you go on, HERIS? i. e. Will you go on, master. Heris, an old Scotch word for master. WARBURTON.

The merry Host has already saluted them separately by titles of distinction; he therefore probably now addresses them collectively by a general one-Will you go on, heroes? or, as probably-Will you go on, hearts? He calls Dr. Caius Heart of Elder; and adds, in a subsequent scene of this play, Farewell, my hearts. Hanmer reads-Mynheers. My brave hearts, or my bold hearts, is a common word of encouragement. A heart of gold expresses the more soft and amiable qualities, the Mores aurei of Horace; and a heart of oak is a frequent encomium of rugged honesty. STEEVENS.

Line 232. my long sword,] Before the introduction of rapiers, the swords in use were of an enormous length, and sometimes raised with both hands. Shallow, with an old man's vanity, censures the innovation by which lighter weapons were introduced, tells what he could once have done with his long sword, and ridicules the terms and rules of the rapier. JOHNSON. See a note to the First Part of King Henry IV.

-] i. e. Sturdy.

Line 232.




Line 248. I will retort the sum in equipage.] This is added from the old quarto of 1619, and means, I will pay you again in stolen goods. WARBURTON.

Line 252. -your coach-fellow, Nym;] Thus the old copies. Coach-fellow has an obvious meaning, but the modern editors read, couch-fellow. The following passage from Ben Jonson's Cynthia's Revels may justify the reading I have chosen. "Tis the swaggering coach-horse Anaides, that draws with him "there." STEEVENS.

Line 257. -lost the handle of her fan,- -] It should be remembered, that fans, in our author's time, were more costly than they are at present, as well as of a different construction. They consisted of ostrich feathers, or others of equal length and flexibility, which were stuck into handles; the richer sort of which were composed of gold, silver, or ivory of curious workmanship. One of these is mentioned in The Fleire, Com. 1610. -she hath a fan with a short silver handle, about the length "of a barber's syringe." STEEVENS. Line 264. A short knife and a throng;] So Lear, "When "cut-purses come not to throngs." WARBURTON. Greene, in his Life of Ned Browne, 1592, says, "I had no "other fence but my short knife, and a paire of purse-strings."

[ocr errors]


Line 264. pick-pockets.

-Pickt-hatch,] A noted place for thieves and

Pict-hatch is frequently mentioned by contemporary writers. So in Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour:

"From the Bordello it might come as well,
"The Spital, or Pict-hatch."


STEEVENS. red lattice phrases,] Your ale-house converJOHNSON. Red lattice at the doors and windows, were formerly the external denotements of an ale-house. Hence the present chequers. So in A Fine Companion, one of Shackerley Marmion's plays,— "A waterman's widow at the sign of the red lattice in South"wark." STEEVENS.

Line 273.

« PreviousContinue »