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MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.
P. 5. Sir is the designation of a Bachelor of Arts in the universities of Cambridge and Dublin; but is there always annexed to the surname-Sir Evans, &c. In consequence, however, of this, all the inferior clergy in England were distinguished by this title affixed to their christian names for many centuries. Hence our author's Sir Hugh in the present play, Sir Topaz in Twelfth Night, Sir Oliver in As you like it, &c.
Sir seems to have been a title formerly appropriated to such of the inferior clergy as were only Readers of the service, and not admitted to be preachers, and therefore were held in the lowest estimation. PERCY.
P. 7. How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I heard say, he was outrun on Cotsale] He means Cotswold, in Gloucestershire. In the beginning of the reign of James I., by permission of the king, one Dover, a public-spirited attorney of Barton on the Heath, in Warwickshire, instituted on the hills of Cotswold an annual celebration of games, consisting of rural sports and exercises. These he constantly conducted in person, well mounted, and accoutred in a suit of his majesty's old clothes and they were frequented above forty years by the nobility and gentry for sixty miles round, till the grand rebellion abolished every liberal establishment. The games, as appears from a curious frontispiece, were chiefly wrestling, leaping, pitching the bar, handling the pike, dancing of women, various kinds of hunting, and particularly coursing the hare with greyhounds. Hence also we see the meaning of another passage, where Falstaff, or Shallow, calls a stout fellow a Cotswold-man.
T. WARTON. P.15. As many devils entertain ;] Do you retain in your service as many devils as she has angels. So, in the Two Gentlemen of Verona :
"Sweet lady, entertain him for your servant." MAL
Ibid. my pinnace] A pinnace is a small vessel with a square stern, having sails and oars, and carrying three masts; chiefly used, says Rolt in his Dictionary of Commerce, aş a scout for intelligence, and for landing of men. MAL.
P. 19. You shall have An fool's head] Mrs. Quickly, I believe, intends a quibble between Ann, sounded broad, and one, which was formerly sometimes pronounced on, or with nearly the same sound. In the Scottish dialect one is written, and I suppose pronounced, ane.
P.21. Flemish drunkard] It is not without reason that this term of reproach is here used. Sir John Smythe in " Certain Discourses," &c. 1590, says, that the habit of drinking was introduced into England from the Low Countries "by some of our such men of warre within these very few yeares: whereof it is come to passe that now-a-dayes there are very fewe feastes where our said men of warre are present, but that they do invite and procure all the companie, of what calling soever they be, to carowsing and quaffing; and, because they will not be denied their challenges, they, with many new conges, ceremonies, and reverences, drinke to the health and prosperitie of princes; to the health of counsellors, and unto the health of their greatest friends both at home and abroad: inwhich exercise they never cease till they be deade drunke, or, as the Flemings say, Doot dronken." He adds, " And this aforesaid detestable vice hath within these six or seven yeares taken wonderful roote amongest our English nation, that in times past was wont to be of all other nations of Christendome one of the soberest." REED
P. 21. These knights will hack] That is, become cheap or vulgar; and therefore Mrs. Page advises her friend not to sully her gentry by becoming one. BLACKSTONE.
Between the time of king James's arrival at Berwick in April 1603, and the 2d of May, he made 237 knights; and in the July following between 3 and 400 more. This stroke of satire must therefore have been highly relished by the audience.
P. 22. -press.] Press is used ambiguously, for a press to print, and a press to squeeze.
P. 27. to your manor of Pickt-hatch,] That this evidentlymeans, "to your house of ill fame," see Note in Pericles, p.57.
P. 30. one master Brook below would fain speak with you, and be acquainted with you; and hath sent your worship a morning's draught of sack.] It seems to have been a common custom at taverns, in our author's time, to send presents of wine. from one room to another, either as a memorial of friendship, or (as in the present instance) by way of introduction to acquaintance. Of the existence of this practice the following anecdote of Ben Jonson and Bishop Corbet furnishes a proof: "Ben Jonson was at a tavern, and in comes Bishop Corbet (but not so then) into the next room. Ben Jonson calls for a quart of raw wine, and gives it to the tapster. Sirrah, says he, carry this to the gentleman in the next chamber, and teil, him, I sacrifice my service to him,' The fellow did, and ine
those words. · Friend,' says Dr. Corbet, I thank him for his love; but 'pr'ythee tell him from me that he is mistaken; for sacrifices are always burnt." Merry Passages and Jeasts, MSS. Harl. 6395.
This practice was continued as late as the Restoration. In the Parliamentary History, Vol. XXII. p. 114, we have the following passage from Dr. Price's Life of General Monk : "I came to the Three Tuns before Guildhall, where the general had quartered two nights before. I entered the tavern with a servant and portmanteau, and asked for a room, which I had scarce got into but wine followed me as a present from some citizens, desiring leave to drink their morning's draught with me." REED.
P. 32. —and I will aggravate his stile;] Stile is a phrase from the Herald's office. Falstaff means, that he will add more titles to those he already enjoys.
P. 34. -bully Stale ?] The reason why Caius is called bully Stale, and afterwards Urinal, must be sufficiently obvious to every reader, and especially to those whose credulity and weakness have enrolled them among the patients of the present German empiric, who calls himself Doctor Alexander Mayersbach.
P. 57. I have lived fourscore years and upward ;] We must certainly read-threescore. In The Second Part of King Henry IV. during Falstaff's interview with Master Shallow, in his way to York, which Shakspeare has evidently chosen to fix in 1412, (though the Archbishop's insurrection actually happened in 1405,) Silence observes that it was then fifty-five years since the latter went to Clement's Inn; so that, supposing him to have begun his studies at sixteen, he would be born in 1341, and, consequently, be a very few years older than John of Gaunt, who, we may recollect, broke his head in the tiltyard. But, besides this little difference in age, John of Gaunt at eighteen or nineteen would be above six feet high, and poor Shallow, with all his apparel, might have been truss'd into an eel-skin. Dr. Johnson was of opinion that the present play ought to be read between the First and Second Part of Henry IV. an arrangement liable to objections which that learned and eminent critic would have found it very difficult, if not altogether impossible, to surmount. But, let it be placed where it may, the scene is clearly laid between 1402, when Shallow would be sixty-one, and 1412, when he had the meeting with Falstaff: Though one would not, to be sure, from what passes on that occasion, imagine the parties had been together so lately at Windsor; much less that the Knight had
ever beaten his worship's keepers, kill'd his deer, and broke open his lodge. The alteration now proposed, however, is in all events necessary; and the rather so, as Falstaff must be nearly of the same age with Shallow, and fourscore seems a little too late in life for a man of his kidney to be making love to, and even supposing himself admired by, two at a time, travelling in a buck-basket, thrown into a river, going to the wars, and making prisoners. Indeed, he has luckily put the matter out of all doubt, by telling us in the First Part of King Henry IV. that his age was " some fifty, or, by'r lady, inclining to threescore." RITSON.
P. 41. Among the whitsers] A typographical error has escaped in the text of this edition: for whitsers, read whitsters; i.e. the blanchers of linen. DOUCE.
P. 43. that becomes the ship-tire, the tire-valiant, or any tire of Venetian admittance.]
May not the tire-valiant be so called from the air of boldness and confidence which it might give the wearer ? A certain court divine (who can hardly be called a courtly one) in a sermon preached before King James the First, thus speaks of the ladies' head dresses: "Oh what a wonder it is to see a ship under saile with her tacklings and her masts, and her tops and top gallants, with her upper decks and her nether decks, and so bedeckt with her streames, flags, and ensigns, and I know not what; yea but a world of wonders it is to see a woman created in God's image, so miscreate oft times and deformed with her French, her Spanish and her foolish fashions, that he that made her, when he looks upon her, shall hardly know her, with her plumes, her fans, and a silken vizard, with a ruffe, like a saile; yea, a ruffe like a rainbow, with a feather in her cap, like a flag in her top, to tell (I thinke) which way the wind will blow. The Merchant Royall, a sermon preached at Whitehall before the King's Majestie, at the nuptialls of Lord Hay and his Lady, Twelfth-day, 1607, 4to. 1615. Again, "it is proverbially said, that far fetcht and deare bought is fittest for ladies; as now-a-daies what groweth at home is base and homely; and what every one eates is meate for dogs; and wee must have bread from one countrie, and drinke from another; and wee must have meate from Spaine, and sauce out of Italy; and if wee weare any thing, it must be pure Venetian, Roman, or barbarian; but the fashion of all must be French." Ibid. REED.
P. 43. -behind the arras.] The spaces left between the walls and the wooden frames on which arras was hung, were not
more commodious to our ancestors than to the authors of their ancient dramatic pieces. Borachio in Much Ado about Nothing, and Polonius in Hamlet, also avail themselves of this convenient recess.
P. 45. How you drumble.] To drumble, in Devonshire, sig. nifies to mutter in a sullen and inarticulate voice. HENLEY.
P. 45. So, now uncape,] Is a term in fox-hunting, which signifies to dig out the fox when earthed. The Oxford editor reads-uncouple.
I believe that Hanmer's amendment is right, and that we ought to read-uncouple.-Ford, like a good sportsman, first stops the earths, and then uncouples the hounds. M. MASON.
P. 45. who was in the basket] We should read-what was in the basket: for though in fact Ford has asked no such question, he could never suspect there was either man or woman in it. The propriety of this emendation is manifest from a subsequent passage, where Falstaff tells Master Brook "the jealous knave asked them once or twice what they had in their basket."
P. 48. come cut and long-tail,] The last conversation I had the honour to enjoy with Sir William Blackstone, was on this subject; and by a series of accurate references to the. whole collection of ancient Forest Laws, he convinced me of our repeated error, expeditation and genuscission, being the only established and technical modes ever used for disabling the canine species. Part of the tails of spaniels indeed, are generally cut off (ornamenti gratia) while they are puppies, so that (admitting a loose description) every kind of dog is comprehended in the phrase of cut and long-tail, and every rank of people in the same expression, if metaphorically used. STE.
P. 55. -you must be preeches.] Sir Hugh means to say-you must be breeched, i. e. flogged. To breech is to flog. So, in The Taming of the Shrew:
"I am no breeching scholar in the schools."
P. 56. watch the door with pistols,] This is one of Shakspeare's anachronisms...
Thus, in Pericles, Prince of Tyre, Thaliard says :
"Can get him once within my pistol's length," &c. and Thaliard was one of the courtiers of Antiochus the third, who reigned 200 years before Christ.
P. 64. Anthropophaginian—] i. e. a cannibal. See Othello, Act I. sc. iii. It is here used as a sounding word to astonish Simple. Ephesian, which follows, has no other meaning.