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tween Quickly, Evans, and the boy; and signifies, to do mischief. The sense of this passage may therefore be, these knights are a riotous, dissolute sort of people, and on that account thou should'st not wish to be of the number.
It is not, however, impossible that Shakspere meant bythese knights will hack—these knights will soon become hackney'd characters.--So many knights were made about the time this play was amplified (for the passage is neither in the copy 1602, nor 1619) that such a stroke of satire might not have been unjustly thrown in. In Hans Beer Pot's Invisible Comedy, 1618, is a long piece of ridicule on the same occurrence:
“ 'Twas strange to see what knighthood once would
“ Stir great men up to lead a martial life-
STEEVENS. These knights will hack (that is, become cheap and vulgar), and therefore she advises her friend not to sully her gentry by becoming one. The whole of this discourse about knighthood is added since the first edi. tion of this play; and therefore I suspect this is an oblique reflection on the prodigality of James I. in bestowing these honours, and in erecting in 1011 a new order of knighthood, called Baronets; which few of the ancient gentry would condescend to accept. See
șir Hugh Spelman's epigram on them, Gloss. p. 76, which ends thus:
-dum cauponare recusant
“ Et modo fit dominus, qui modo servus erat.” See another stroke at them in Othello. act iii.
To hick and to hack, in Mrs. Quickley's language, signifies to stammer or hesitate, as boys do in saying ther lessons.
BLACKSTONE. Between the time of King James's arrival at Berwick in April 1603, and the 20th of May, he made two hundred and thirty-seven knights; and, in the July following, between three and four hundred. It is highly probable that the play before us was enlarged in that or the subsequent year, when this stroke of satire must have been highly relished by the audience. That the order of Baronets was pointed at here, is, I think, highly improbable.
MALONE. 51. We burn day-light -] i.e. we have more proof than we want. The same proverbial phrase occurs in the Spanish Tragedy: Hier. "
Light me your torches." Pedro. “ Then we burn day-light.” So in Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio ises the same expression, and then explains it: “ We waste our lights in vain like lamps by day."
STEEVENS I think, the meaning rather is, we are wasting time in idle talk, when we ought to read the letter: re
sembling those who waste candles by burning them in the day-time.
-Green Sleeves.] This song was entered on the books of the Stationer's Company in September 1580 : “ Licensed unto Richard Jones, a newe northern dittye of the lady Green Sleeves.” Again, “ Licensed unto Edward White, a ballad, beinge the lady Greene Sleeves, answered to Jenkyn hir friend." Again, in the same month and year: “Green Sleeves moralized to the Scripture,” &c. Again to Edward White:
" Green Sleeves and countenaunce.
“ In countenaunce is Green Sleeves." STEEVENS. 75 -press -] Press is used ambiguously, for a press to print, and a press to squeeze. JOHNSON.
84. -some strain in me,] Thus the old copies. The modern editors read,
some stain in me,” but, I think, unnecessarily. A similar expression oecurs in The Winter's Tale :
“ With what encounter so uncurrent, have I
“ Strain’d to appear thus ?" And again in Timon:
-a noble nature “ May catch a wrench."
STEEVENS. 96. -the chariness of our honesty.) i, e. the aution which ought to attend on it. STEEVENS.
97. Oh, that my husband saw this letter!] Surely Mrs. Ford does not wish to excite the jealousy, of which she complains. I think we should read-Oh, if my husband, &c. and thus the copy, 1619:
lord, if my husband should see the letter ! i' faith, this would even give edge to his jealousie." STEEVENS,
107. -curtail-dog- ] i.e. a dog that misses his game. The tail is counted necessary to the agility of a greyhound.
JOHNSON. 112. -gally-mawfry;-]i.e. A medley. So in the Winter's Tale: “ They have a dance, which the wenches say is a gallimaufry of gambols.” Pistol ludicrously uses it for a woman. Thus, in A Woman, never vex’d, 1632 : “ Let us show ourselvesgallantsorgalli-maufries."
STEEVENS, The folio reads:
“ He loves the gallymaufry which may be right.--He loves a medley; all sorts of women, high and low, &c.
Ford's reply-love my wife may refer to what Pistol had said before : “ Sir John affects thy wife.”
MALONE. I am not induced by this reasoning to follow the folio.
STEEVENS. 112. -Ford, perpend. ] This is perhaps a ridicule on a passage in the old comedy of Cambyses :
“ My sapient words I say perpend." Again :
“ My queen perpend what I pronounce." Shakspere has put the same word into the mouth of Polonius.
STEEVENS. -cuchoo birds do sing.] Such is the reading of the folio, and the quarto 1630. The quartos 1602, and 1619, read :
16 when cuckoo-birds appear."
STEEVENS. 121. Away, sir corporal Nym.
Believe it, Page; he speaks sense. ] Nym, I believe, is out of place, and we should read thus :
Away, sir corporal. Nym. Believe it, Page; he speaks sense. JOHNSON
Perhaps Dr. Johnson is mistaken in his conjecture. He seems not to have been aware of the manner in which the author meant this scene should be represented. Ford and Pistol, Page and Nym, enter in pairs, each pair in separate conversation : and while Pistol is informing Ford of Falstaff's design upon
his wife, Nym is, during that time, talking aside to Page, and giving information of the like plot against him.When Pistol has finished, he calls out to Nym to come away; but seeing that he and Page are still in close debate, he goes off alone, first assuring Page, he may depend on the truth of Nym's story. Believe it, Page: Nym then proceeds to tell the remainder of his tale out aloud. And this is true, &c. A little further on in this scene, Ford says to Page, You heard what this knare (i e. Pistol) told me. Page replies, Yes, and you heard what the cther (i.e. Nym) told me.
STEEVENS. Believe it, Page; he speaks sense.] Thus has the passage been hitherto printed, says Dr. Farmer; but surely we shoud read, as it now stands in the text. Believe it Page, he speaks, means no more than
-Page, believe what he says. This sense is expressednot only in the manner peculiar to Pistol, but to the grammar of the times.