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the door-keeper, inquiring who they were, was told that they were three very necessary men, Ford, Broome, and Fenton. The name in the play which Pope restored to Brook' was then Broome."
"Will you go, MYNHEERS ?"-The folio reading is An-heires, which is evidently a misprint for something else, and the quartos afford no light. Various emendations, as "cavalieres," "on hearts," and "hear us," have been conjectured. The one adopted in the text seems most likely to have been the one thus mistaken, and is in the Poet's manner, just as he calls Shallow "cavalero."
"with 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.
"— stands so firmly on his wife's frailty"-A phrase equivalent to saying, "has such perfect confidence in his frail wife.”
"FAL. I will not lend thee a penny." The passage in the quarto is thus :
Fal. I'll not lend thee a penny.
Pist. I will retort the sum in equipage.
The editors could not be satisfied to receive the answer of Pistol, "Why then the world's mine oyster," etc., without retaining the weaker passage, "I will retort the sum in equipage."-KNIGHT.
Yet Falstaff's answer seems to require Pistol's renewal of his demand. I think that the author, in enlarging and improving the play, added the two lines, and that by some mistake of his own, or of the copyist or printer, they were thought to be meant not as an addition, but to be substituted. All the editors except Knight and Collier have therefore retained the line.
"FORD disguised."-The husband becoming the unknown confidant of the object of his suspicions, is the leading idea of one of the tales of Straparola, the Italian novelist, (Le tredeci piaceroli notti,) which had been translated by Tarlton, in 1590. Shakespeare had unquestionably read this story in some shape, as he has used several of the incidents, and some passages of the dialogue seem to have been suggested by expressions in the tale. But the main story and characters have no similitude. Such use of literary materials no more detracts from the general originality of an author, than the use of facts drawn from history or from actual observation.
"Cried game"-So all the old copies, including the first imperfect sketch. Warburton proposed to read cry aim, a phrase of archery, but figuratively used for assisting, encouraging, in any thing, as the one who cries "Aim!" did the archer. The Host thus says, "Consent, approve; did I not say well?" "Cry aim" is used in this sense in the next act. Much learning has been expended in support of this reading. Those who retain the original cry'd game suppose that the Host addresses Dr. Caius by this as a name. He calls him "heart of elder." Cry'd game, says Stevens, is a professed buck. But, says Knight, surely Anne Page "at a farm-house, a feasting" is the game which the host has cried. The meaning would be perfectly obvious were we to read, Cried I game?
Mr. Halliwell, one of the most learned old-English scholars of his day, confesses, in his late curious edition of the original sketch of this play, that he cannot clear up the obscurity. The fact seems to be that the phrase having been merely colloquial, and not preserved in books, is so obsolete that the meaning can only be guessed at.
ACT III-SCENE I.
"To shallow rivers," etc.-The verses here sung by the doleful duellist are taken (with some variations) from the beautiful old ballad, supposed to be written by Marlowe, "Come live with me, and be my love," and exceedingly popular in Shakespeare's age. The line interposed with them, "When as I sat in Babylon," forms part of the ancient version of the 137th
"-'tis in his BUTTONS."-The general explanation is, this is an allusion to the custom of wearing the flower called bachelor's buttons. Mr. Knight, however, says that a similar phrase, "It does not lie in your breeches," means-It is not within your compass: "'tis in his buttons" therefore means-he's the man to do it; his buttons hold the man. This is certainly a much more probable interpretation, and the context appears not only to warrant but almost require that explanation.---HALLIWELL.
- thy father's wealth"-Some light may be given to those who shall endeavour to calculate the increase of English wealth, by observing, that Latymer, in the time of Edward VI. mentions it as a proof of his father's prosperity, "That though but a yeoman, he
gave his daughters five pounds each for her portion." At the end of Elizabeth's reign, seven hundred pounds formed such a temptation to courtship, as made all other motives suspected. Congreve makes twelve thousand pounds more than a counterbalance to the affectation of Belinda. No poet will now fly his favourite character at less than fifty thousand.—JOHNSON.
"Pll make a shaft or a bolt on't"-The phrase is proverbial-I shall produce some effect, much or little. A shaft was a long sharp arrow; a bolt, a short thick one, used only for birds, and thence called a bird-bolt.
"-come cut and long-tail."-A common old phrase, expressive of dogs of every kind, which Slender applies to persons. The commentators are very learned on the origin of the phrase.
"happy man be his dole !"-This is a proverbial expression of frequent occurrence. The apparent signification here is: "happiness be his portion who succeeds best," but the general meaning of the phrase may be interpreted: "Let his portion or lot be happy man." Dole is the past participle and past tense of the A. s. verb Dalan, to deal, to divide, to distribute.SINGER.
“—in fee simple, with fine and recovery"-This is one of the many examples of Shakespeare's legal knowledge. Ritson says, "fee-simple is the largest estate, and fine and recovery the strongest assurance, known to English law.”
"—and TAKES the cattle"-Infects with disease. As, in HAMLET, “no fancy takes.”
"Disguis'd like Herne, with huge horns on his head."
This line is not in the folio; but it is certainly wanted. The passage in the quarto in which this line occurs is a remarkable example of the care with which the first sketch has been improved:
'Hear my device.
"With some DIFFUSED song."-Diffused is used here, and elsewhere, in the sense of confused, or unintelligible. Palsgrave, in his Eccl. de la Langue Franc, 1530, and Cooper, in his Dictionary, 1584, explain "diffuse" "hard to be understood."
"—TO-PINCH the unclean knight."-To thus prefixed to the verb, was an old Anglo-Saxon idiom, frequent in Chaucer, Gower, and used by Spenser. It has an augmentative sense, as well-pinched, thoroughly-pinched. It is oftenest used with all prefixed, as “al-to broke his skull," in the English Bible; completely broke his skull.
"the WISE WOMAN of Brentford."-Scott, in his Discovery of Witchcraft, says "At this day it is indifferent to say in the English tongue, She is a witch, or she is a wise woman."
"Ay, marry, was it, muscle-shell"-Simple probably follows up his question relating to the awful old woman, with a look of open-mouthed eagerness; and Falstaff, whom nothing of the ludicrous escapes, calls him "muscle-shell" from that circumstance.
"Ay, sir TIKE"-A word still used in Yorkshire and Scotland, there retaining its ancient sense, of a large dog of some common breed, as a shepherd's dog. Burns marks the distinction, and shows Falstaff's meaning, by making one of his twa dogs "o' high degree," and the other, who is of humbler breed, "a gash and faithful tyke."
- three Doctor Faustuses."-Popular audiences had become acquainted with Dr. Faustus, the German necromancer, both from the often-printed popular storybook of his life, and from Marlowe's play, which had been constantly acted from about the year 1590.
ACT V.-Scene V.
"Divide me like a BRIBE-BUCK."-" A buck," says Theobald, "sent for a bride." The old copies read brib'd-buck; and to bribe, of old, meant to steal. See Way's "Promptorium;" therefore," a brib'd-buck" may be a stolen uck.
Malone, in Chalmers's edition of his text, reads, "bride-buck," i. e. a buck sent for a bridal feast or present, which is ingenious, and may be right.
"You ORPHAN-HEIRS of fixed destiny"-On this obscure line, the later editors have thrown no light, nor can I, beyond giving the substance of the older comments and opinions. Perhaps this part of the text
is corrupt. Warburton plausibly proposes to read ouphen-heirs, i. e. you elves, who minister and succeed in some of the works of destiny. Dr. Farmer supposes the term to be addressed to a "part of the troop, as mortals by birth, but adopted by the fairies; orphans, in respect of their real parents, and now only dependent on destiny herself." Shakespeare uses the word heirs in the sense of children. By "ouphen-heirs of fixed destiny," he might therefore mean, "fairy children, who execute the decrees of destiny."
"Raise up the organs of her fantasy."
That is, let her who has performed her religious duties be secure against the grosser illusions of fancy; have her sleep, like that of infancy, free from disordered dreams. It was supposed that invisible beings had the power of disturbing with dreams, or otherwise annoying, those who had not prayed ere they slept. Imogen exclaims
'To your protection I commend me, gods!
"Honi soit qui mal y PENSE”—“ Pense” is a dissyllable, as the final e, though not accented, was anciently sounded, especially in Norman-French, though I should think with an obscure sound, more like uh than the accented French e.
"I smell a man of middle earth."-By this term is merely meant a mortal man, in contradistinction to a spirit of the earth or of the air, such as a fairy or gnome. It was in use in the north of Scotland a century since, and appears borrowed from the Saxon Middan Eard.-SINGER.
- still pinch him to your time"-Theobald and Malone here insert a speech from the quarto: "It is right; indeed he is full of lecheries and iniquity." Theobald says "this speech is very much in character for Sir Hugh." He forgets that the real actors of the comedy are here speaking in assumed characters. Pistol has a speech or two; but all traces of Pistol's own character are suppressed. The entire scene is elevated into pure poetry in the amended edition, and none of the coarseness the original is ained. For example, in the quarto, Sir Hugh says,
Go and see where brokers sleep,
And fox-eyed serjeants with their mace:
these fair YOKES."The extremities of yokes for oxen as still used in several counties of England, bend upwards, and rising very high, in shape resemble horns. In Cotgrave's Dictionary, voce JUELLES, we have "Arched or yoked vines; vines so under-propped or fashioned that one may go under the middle of them." See also Hutton's Latin, Greek, and English Lexicon, 1585, in voce JUGUM; "a thing made with forkes. like a gallowes, a frame whereon vines are joyned."
"ignorance itself is a PLUMMET o'er me"-Johnson would read plume; Dr. Farmer planet. Tyrwhitt's explanation of the old reading is satisfactory to meIgnorance is not so low as I am by a plummet or plumb-line's length.
"to repay that money will be a biting affliction."— Here the quartos add what is worth giving in a note, though it should not be inserted in the text, as in some editions, since the author in his corrected edition rejected it, and substituted the speeches of Page and his wife:
'Mrs. Ford. Nay, husband, let that go to make amends: Forgive that sum, and so we'll all be friends.
Ford. Well, here's my hand: all's forgiven at last.
Fal. It hath cost me well: I have been well pinched and wash'd.'
THE verses sung by Sir Hugh are from a beautiful pastoral, formerly attributed to Shakespeare, and printed in an earlier edition of his sonnets, 1599. It was then accompanied by an answer signed Ignoto. Walton, in his "Compleat Angler," has inserted both, describing the first as "that smooth song which was made by Kit Marlowe, and an answer to it by Sir Walter Raleigh, in his younger days." Whether the pastoral be Shakespeare's or Marlowe's, both it and the answer are what Walton calls them, "old-fashioned poetry, but choicely good;" and we therefore think, with Dr. Johnson, that "the reader will not be displeased to find them here:"
THE PASSIONATE SHEPHERD TO HIS LOVE.
"Come live with me, and be my love,
Shall on an ivory table be
THE NYMPH'S REPLY TO THE SHEPHERD.