Изображения страниц

83. -I thank you always---] Here and in the next speech of Shallow, the 4to, 1619, reads love, which perhaps, as Dr. Farmer observes, is right.

STEEVENS. 88. How does your fallow greyhound, sir ? I heard say', he was out-run on Cotsale.] He means Cotswold in Gloucestershire. In the beginning of the reign of James the First, by permission of the king, one Dover, a publickspirited 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. I have seen a very scarce book, entitled, “ Annalia Dubrensia. Upon the yearly celebration of Mr. Robert Dover's Olympick games upon Cotswold hills," &c. London,-1636, 4to. There are recommendatory verses prefixed, written by Drayton, Jonson, Randolph, and many others, the most eminent wits of the times. The games, as appears by 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 fel. low a Cotswold-man. But from what is here said, an inference of another kind may be drawn, respecting



age of the play. A meager and imperfect sketch of this comedy was printed in 1602. Afterwards Shakspere new-wrote it entirely. This allusion therefore to Cotswold games, not founded till the reign of James the First, ascertains a period of time beyond which our author must have made the additions to this original rough draught, or, in other words, composed the present comedy. James the First came to the crown in the year 1603. And we will suppose that two or three more years at least must have passed before these games could have been effectually established. I would therefore, at the earliest, date this play about the year 1607. It is not generally known, at least it has not been observed by the modern editors, that the first edition of the Merry Wives in its present state, is in the valuable folio, printed 1623. From whence the quarto of the same play, dated 1630, was evidently copied. The two earlier quartos, 1602 and 1619, only exhibit this comedy as it was originally written, and are so far curious, as they contain Shakspere's first conceptions in forming a drama, which is the most complete specimen of his comick powers. WARTON.

The Cotswold-hills in Gloucestershire are a large tract of downs, famous for their fine turf, and therefore excellent for coursing. I believe there is no village of that name.

BLACKSTONE. —and broke open my lodge.] This probably alludes to some real incident, at that time well known.

JOHNSON, So probably Falstaff's answer.





117. "Twere better for you, if 'twere known in council ; you'll be laugh'd at.] This is quite in Falstaff's insolent sneering manner. “ It would be much better, indeed, to have it known in the council, where you would only be laughed at.

REMARKS. Good worts! good cabbage: -] Worts was the ancient name of all the cabbage kind. So in Beaumont and Fletcher's Valentinian : “ Planting of worts and onions, any thing."

STEEVENS. 124. --- 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 Couzener's.

JOHNSON. So in Decker's Satiromastix : “ Thou shalt not coney-catch me for five pounds.”

STEEVENS. Your coney-catching rascals, Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol.] In the early quarto, Slender, speaking of the same transaction, adds, “ They carried me to the tavern, and made me

drunk, and afterwards pick'd my pocket." These words surely deserve a place in the text, being necessary to introduce what Falstaff


afterwards : Pistol, did you pick Master Slender's purse?" a circumstance, of which, as the play is exhibited in the folio, he could have no knowledge.

MALONE. 126. You Banbury cheese!]. This is said in allusion


to the thin carcase of Slender. The same thought occurs in Jack Drum's Entertainment, 1601 : “ Put off your clothes, and you are like a Banbury

cheese~nothing but paring.” So Heywood, in his collection of epigrams: “ I never saw Banbury-cheese thick enough."

STEEVENS. 128. How now, Mephostophilus?] This is the name of a spirit or familiar, in the old story book of Sir John Faustus, or John Faust: to whom our author afterwards alludes. That it was a cant phrase of abuse, appears from the old comedy cited above, called Å pleasant Comedy of the Gentle Craft, Signat. H. 3.

“ Away you Islington whitepot, hence you hopper-arse, you barley-pudding full of maggots, you broiled carbonado, avaunt, avaunt Mephostophilus." In the same vein, Bardolph here also calls Slender, " You Banbury cheese."

WARTON, 130. that's my humour.] So in the ancient MS. play, entitled, The Second Maiden's Tragedy:

-I love not to disquiet ghosts, sir, “ Of any people living; that's my humour, sir."

STEVENS. 146. —-what phrase is this,] Sir Hugh is justified in his censure of this passage by Pecham, who in his Garden of Eloquence, 1577, places this very mode of expression under the article Pleonasmus. HENDERSON. 151. -mill’d-sixpences,

-] It appears from a passage in sir W. Davenant's News from Plimouth, that

B iij


these mill'd-sixpences were used by way of counters to cast up money :

-A few mill'd sixpencies with which “ My purser casts accompts."

Steevens. 152. Edward Shovel-boards, -] One of these pieces of metal is mentioned in Middleton's comedy of The Roaring Girl, 1611 : “Away slid I my man, like a shovel-board shilling,"&c.

STEEVENS. Edward Shovel-boards," were the broad shillings of Edw. VI.

Taylor the water-poet, in his Travel of Twelve-pence, makes him complain :

-the unthrift every day
“With my face downwards do at shoave-board.

" That had I had a beard, you may suppose,

They had worne it off, as they have done my


And in a note he tells us : “ Edw. shillings for the most part are used at shoaveboard."

FARMER. The following extract, for the notice of which I am indebted to Dr. Farmer, will shew further the species of coin mentioned in the text: “I must here take notice before I entirely quit the subject of these lastmentioned shillings, that I have also seen some other pieces of good silver, greatly resembling the same, and of the same date 1547, that have been so much thicker as to weigh about half an ounce, together with


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »