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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 adSTEEVENS.
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.
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. -To 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. Line 199. 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. THEOBALD.
This correction, thus seriously and wisely enforced, is received by Sir Thomas Hanmer; but probably Shakspeare intended a blunder. JOHNSON.
Line 229. the lips is parcel of the mouth;] Thus the old copies. The modern editors read-" parcel of the mind."
Line 250. -I hope, upon familiarity will grow more contempt:] Certainly, the editors in their sagacity have murdered a jest here. It is designed, no doubt, that Slender should say decrease, instead of increase; and dissolved, dissolutely, instead of resolved and resolutely: but to make him say, on the present occasion, that upon familiarity will grow more content (the old reading) instead of contempt, is disarming the sentiment of all its salt and humour, and disappointing the audience of a reasonable cause for laughter. THEOBALD.
-a master of fence,- -] i. e. A master of de
Line 287. -three veneys for a dish, &c.] i. e. Three venues, French. Three different set-to's, attacks, a technical term. So in B. and Fletcher's Philaster :-" Thou would'st be loth to play half
'a dozen venies at Wasters with a good fellow for a broken head." So in Chapman's comedy, The Widow's Tears, 1612: "So there's "venie for venie, I have given it him." So in our author's Love's Labour Lost: " ——————————a quick venew of wit.” STEEVENS. Line 297. - -Sackerson] Seckerson is the name of a bear in the old comedy of Sir Giles Goosecap.
Line 299. that it pass'd:] It pass'd, or this passes, was a way of speaking customary heretofore, to signify the excess, or extraordinary degree of any thing. The sentence completed would be, This passes all expression, or perhaps, This passes all things. We still use passing well, passing strange. WARBURTON. Line 305. By cock and pye,-] An adjuration frequently to be met with in our author.
ACT I. SCENE III.
-bully rook?] i. e. Chess-men.
let me see thee froth, and lime:- -] The Host calls for an immediate specimen of Bardolph's abilities as a tap
ster; and frothing beer and liming sack were tricks practised in the time of Shakspeare. The first was done by putting soap into the bottom of the tankard when they drew the beer; the other, by mixing lime with the sack (i. e. sherry) to make it sparkle in the glass. Froth and live is sense, but a little forced; and to make it so we must suppose the Host could guess by his dexterity in frothing a pot to make it appear fuller than it was, how he would afterwards succeed in the world. Falstaff himself complains of limed sack. STEEVENS.
Line 347. O base Gongarian wight! &c.] This is a parody on a line taken from one of the old bombast plays, beginning, "O base Gongarian, wilt thou the distaff wield?"
I had marked the passage down, but forgot to note the play.
STEEVENS. Line 351. -humour of it.] This speech is partly taken from the corrected copy, and partly from the slight sketch in 1602. I mention it, that those who do not find it in either of the common old editions may not suspect it to be spurious.
STEEVENS. -at a minute's rest.] Our author probably wrote, -at a minim's rest. LANGTON. This conjecture seems confirmed by a passage in Romeo and Juliet,―rests his minim, &c. It may however mean, that like a skillful harquebuzier, he takes a good aim, though he has rested his piece for a minute only. STEEVENS.
-a fico—] i. e. A fig.
363. Young ravens must have food.] An adage. See Ray's STEEVENS.
Line 371. -about no waste;- -] I find the same play on words in Heywood's Epigrams, 1562:
"Where am I least, husband? quoth he, in the waist: "Which cometh of this, thou art vengeance strait lac'd. "Where am I biggest, wife? in the waste, quoth she, "For all is waste in you, as far as I see." STEEVENS. Line 379. The anchor is deep: will that humour pass?] I see not what relation the anchor has to translation. Perhaps we may read, the author is deep; or perhaps the line is out of its place, and should be inserted lower after Falstaff has said,
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. STEEVENS.
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. WARBURTON.
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. STEEVENS.
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.
435. 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. JOHNSON.
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,
Line 446. ster is in bed.
ACT I. SCENE IV.
at the latter end, &c.] That is, when my maJOHNSON.
-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 childish.
Line 459. -a little wee face,] Wee, in the northern dialect, signifies very little. Dr. GREY. 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." STEEVENS. 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. STEEVENS.
-as tall a man of his hands,] Reckoning by
Line 462. jockey measure.
-Doctor Caius.] In the reign of queen Elizabeth flourished an eminent physician of this name, who founded