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behaviour, as to take no notice of this strange concession, if it had been made.
HANMER. Line 201. How oft hast thou with perjury cleft the root?] Sir T. Hanmer reads, cleft the root on't.
JOHNSON. Line 204. -if shame live] That is, if it be any shame to wear a disguise for the purposes of love.
JOHNSON. Line 227.
-the measure- --] The length of my sword, the reach of my anger.
JOHNSON. Line 229. Milan shall not behold thee.- -) All the editions, Verona shall not hold thee. But, whether through the mistake of the first editors, or the poet's own carelessness, this reading is absurdly faulty. For the threat here is to Thurio, who is a Milanese ; and has no concern, as it appears, with Verona. Besides, the scene is betwixt the confines of Milan and Mantua, to which Silvia follows Valentine, having heard that he had retreated thither. And, upon these circumstances, I ventured to adjust the text, as I imagine the poet must have intended; i.e. Milan, thy country shall never see thee again: thou shalt never live to go back thither.
THEOBALD. Line 242. -all former griefs,] i, e. All former grievances.
262. -include all jars—] Sir T. Hanmer reads conclude.
JOHNSON. Line 263. With triumphs,-] i. e. With shows. See Henry VI. Part 3.“ With stately triumphs, mirthful comic shows."
END OF THE ANNOTATIONS ON THE TWO GENTLEMEN
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Line 1. Sir Hugh,] This was a title given to the inferior clergy.
Line 2. - Star-chamber matter of it:] Ben Jonson intimates, that the Star-chamber had a right to take cognizance of such matters. See The Magnetick Lady, Act 3. Sc. 4.
“ There is a court above, of the Star-chaniber,
STEEVENS. -Custalorum.] This is, I suppose, intended for a corruption of Custos Rotulorum. The mistake was hardly designed by the author, who, though he gives Shallow folly enough, makes him rather pedantic than illiterate. If we read:
Shal. Ay, cousin Slender, and Custos Rotulorum,
JOHNSON. Mr. Malone's opinion of this passage is, that Shakspeare here intended to ridicule the legal abbreviations of the times.
Line 22. The luce, &c.] I see no consequence in this answer. Perhaps we may read, the salt fish is not an old coat. That is, the
fresh fish is the coat of an ancient family, and the salt fish is the coat of a merchant grown rich by trading over the sea.
JOHNSON. The luce is a pike or jack.
“Many a fair partriche had he in mewe,
Chaucer's Prol. of the Cant. Tales, 351, 352. It appears from the extended comments on this obscure, and probably corrupted passage, that our author aimed a satire on Sir Thomas Lucy, by whom he had been prosecuted in the younger part of his life for a misdemeanor, under the character of Justice Shallow.
Line 35. The council shall hear it; it is a riot.] He alludes to the statute of K. Henry IV. (13. chap. 7.) concerning riots cognizable by the court of Star-chamber.
-Tizaments- -] i. e. Deliberation. 45. -which is daughter to master George Page,] The whole set of editions have negligently blundered one after another in Page's Christian name in this place; though Mrs. Page calls him George afterwards in at least six several passages.
THEOBALD. Line 48. —speaks small like a woman.] This is from the folio of 1623, and is the true reading. He admires her for the sweetness of her voice. But the expression is highly humourous, as making her speaking small like a woman one of her marks of distinction; and the ambiguity of small, which signifies little as well as low, makes the expression still more pleasant.
WARBURTON. Line 89. How does your fallow greyhound ? &c.] Cotswold, a village in Worcestershire or Warwickshire, was famous for rural exercises, and sports of all sorts. Shallow, in another place, talks of a stout fellow, a Cotswold
one who was a native of this very place, so famous for trials of strength, “ activity, &c. and consequently a robust athletic person.” I have seen a poem, or rather a collection of poems, which I think is called The Cotswold Muse, containing a description of these games.
Line 112. and broke open my lodge.] This probably alludes to some real incident, at that time well known. JOHNSON.
Line 119. 'Twere better for you, if it were known in counsel ;] The old copies read, 'Twere better for you, if 'twere known in council. Perhaps it is an abrupt speech, and must be read thus: "Twere better for you—if 'twere known in council, you'll be laugh'd ut. "Twere better for you, is, I believe, a menace. JOHNSON
Line 125. -coney-catching rascals,-) A coney-catcher was, in the time of Elizabeth, a common name for a cheat or sharper. Green, one of the first among us who made a trade of writing pamphlets, published A Detection of the Frauds and Tricks of Coney-catchers and Couzeners.
JOHNSON, Line 129. You Banbury cheese!] This is said in allusion to the thin carcase of Slender. The same thought occurs in Jack Drum's Entertainment, 1601–"You are like a Banbury cheese-nothing “ but paring."
STEEVENS. Line 131. How now, Mephostophilus ?] This is the name of a spirit or familiar in the old story book of Sir John Faustus, or John Faust.
WARTON. Line 156. —Edward shovel-boards,] This was a shilling coin of Edward VI. and often used at a game called shovel-bourd, or shuffle-board.
One of these pieces of metal is mentioned in Middleton's comedy of The Roaring Girl, 16112" away slid I my man, like “a shovel-board shilling," &c.
STEEVENS. Line 163. I combat challenge of this latten bilboe :) Pistol seeing Slender such a slim, puny wight, would intimate, that he is as thin as a plate of that compound metal, which is called latten: and which was, as we are told, the old orichalc. THEOBALD.
Falstaff threatens, in another play, to drive prince Henry out of his kingdom, with a dagger of lath. A latten bilboe means therefore, I believe, no more than a blade as thin as a luthma vice's dagger.
Steevens. Line 164. Word of denial in thy labras here;] I suppose it should rather be read,
Word of denial in my Labra's hear; that is, hcar the word of denial in my lips. Thou ly'st.
. We often talk of giving the lie in a man's teeth, or in his throat. Pistol chooses to throw the word of denial in the lips of his adversary
STEEVENS. Line 168, marry trap,-] When a man was caught in his own stratagem, I suppose the exclamation of insult was marry, trap!
JOHNSON. Line 169.
-nuthook's humour -] Read, pass the nuthook's humour. Nuthook was a term of reproach in the vulgar way, and in cant strain. In The Second Part of Henry IV. Dol Tearsheet says to the beadle, Nuthook, Nuthook, you lie. Probably it was a name given to a bailiff or catchpole, very odious to the common people.
HANMER. Line 173. -Scarlet and John ?] The names of two of Robin Hood's companions; but the humour consists in the allusion to Bardolph's red face; concerning which, see The Second Part of Henry IV.
WARBURTON. Line 178. — fap,]i.e. Drunk. In the edition to which these notes refer there is a typographical error; for sap, read fap.
Line 179. careires.] I believe this strange word is nothing but the French cariere; and' the expression means, that the common bounds of good behaviour were overpassed. Johnson.
pass the cariere was a military phrase. I find it in one of Sir John Smythe's Discourses, 1589, where, speaking of horses wounded, he says" they after the first shrink at the entering of “the bullet doo pass their carriere, as though they had verie little « hurt."
STEEVENS. book of songs and sonnets-] Book of riddles. These were popular works in that age.
Line 204. --upon Allhallowmas last, a fortnight afore Michaelmas ? ] Sure, Simple's a little out in his reckoning. Allhallowmas is almost five weeks after Michaelmas. But may it not be urged, it is designed Simple should appear thus ignorant, to keep up the character? I think not. The simplest creatures (nay, even naturals) generally are very precise in the knowledge of festivals, and marking how the seasons run: and therefore I have ventured to suspect our poet wrote Martlemas, as the vulgar call it: which is near a fortnight after All-Saints day, i. e, eleven days, both inclusive.