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Eva. The dozen white louses do become an old coat well ;' it agrees well, passant: it is a familiar beast to man, and signifies-love.
SHAL. The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat. 8
7 The dozen white louses do become an old coat well ; &c.] So, in The Penniless Parliament of thread-bare Poets, 1608: “ But amongst all other decrees and statutes by us here set downe, wee ordaine and commaund, that three thinges (if they be not parted) ever to continue in perpetuall amitie, that is, a Louse in an olde doublet, a painted cloth in a painter's shop, and a foole and his bable.” STEEVENS.
& The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat.] That is, the
fresh fish is the coat of an ancient family, and the salt fish is the coat of a merchant grown rich by trading over the sea.
JOHNSON, I am not satisfied with any thing that has been offered on this difficult passage.
All that Mr. Smith told us was a mere gratis dictum. [His note, being worthless, is here omitted.] I cannot find that salt fish were ever really borne in heraldry. I fancy the latter part of the speech should be given to Sir Hugh, who is at cross purposes with the Justice. Shallow had said just before, the coat is an old one; and now, that it is the luce, the fresh fish. No, replies the parson, it cannot be old and fresh too“ the salt fish is an old coat.” I give this with rather the more confidence, as a similar mistake has happened a little lower in the scene, -Slice, I say!” cries out Corporal Nym, “ Pauca, pauca: Slice! that's
humour." There can be no doubt, but pauca, pauca, should be spoken by Evans.
Again, a little before this, the copies give us :
fault:'tis a good dog."
Surely it should be thus :
This fugitive scrap of Latin, pauca, &c. is used in several old pieces, by characters who have no more of literature about them Than Nym. So, Skinke, in Look about you, 1600:
“ But pauca verba, Skinke." Again, in Every Man in his Humour, where it is called the benchers' phrase. STERVENS.
SLEN. I may quarter, coz?
Shakspeare seems to frolick here in his heraldry, with a design not to be easily understood. In Leland's Collectanea, Vol.
I. P. II. p. 615, the arms of Geffrey de Lucy are “ de goules poudre a croisil dor a treis luz dor.” Can the poet mean to quibble upon the word poudré, that is, powdred, which signi. fies salted; or strewed and sprinkled with any thing ? In Measure for Measure, Lucio says—“Ever your fresh whore and your powder'd bawd.” Toller.
The luce is a pike or jack : So, in Chaucer's Prol. of the Cant. Tales, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. pp. 351, 352:
“ Full many a fair partrich hadde he in mewe,
“ And many a breme, and many a luce in stewe.” In Ferne's Blazon of Gentry, 1586, quarto, the arms of the Lucy family are represented as an instance, that “ signs of the coat should something agree with the name. It is the coat of Geffray Lord Lucy. He did bear gules, three lucies hariant, argent."
Mr. William Oldys, (Norroy King at Arms, and well known from the share he had in compiling the Biographia Britannica, among the collections which he left for a Life of Shakspeare,) observes that—" there was a very aged gentleman living in the neighbourhood of Stratford, (where he died fifty years since,) who had not only heard, from several old people in that town, of Shakspeare's transgression, but could remember the first stanza of the bitter ballad, which, repeating to one of his acquaintance, he preserved it in writing ; and here it is, neither better nor worse, but faithfully transcribed from the copy which his relation very courteously communicated to me.”
“ A parliement member, a justice of peace,
“ He thinks himself greate,
“ Yet an asse in his state,
“ If Lucy is lowsie, as some volke miscalle it,
“ Sing lowsie Lucy, whatever befall it." “ Contemptible as this performance must now appear, at the time when it was written it might have had sufficient power to irritate a vain, weak, and vindictive magistrate ; especially as it was affixed to several of his park-gates, and consequently pub
Eva. It is marring, indeed, if he quarter it.
Eva. Yes, py'r-lady; if he has a quarter of your coat, there is but three skirts for yourself, in my simple conjectures: but this is all one: If sir John Falstaff have committed disparagements unto you, I am of the church, and will be glad to do my be
lished among his neighbours. It may be remarked likewise, that the jingle on which it turns, occurs in the first scene of The Merry Wives of Windsor."
I may add, that the veracity of the late Mr. Oldys has never yet been impeached; and it is not very probable that a ballad should be forged, from which an undiscovered wag could derive no triumph over antiquarian credulity. STEEVENS.
The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat.] Our author here alludes to the arms of Sir Thomas
Lucy, who is said to have prosecuted him in the younger part of his life for a misdemesnor, and who is supposed to be pointed at under the character of Justice Shallow. The text, however, by some carelessness of the printer or transcriber, has been so corrupted, that the passage, as it stands at present, seems inexplicable. Dr. Farmer's regulation appears to me highly probable ; and in further support of it, it may be observed, that some other speeches, beside those he has mentioned, are misplaced in a subsequent part of this scene, as exhibited in the first folio. MALONE.
Perhaps we have not yet conceived the humour of Master Shallow. Slender has observed, that the family might give a dozen white Luces in their coat; to which the Justice adds, “ It is an old one." This produces the Parson's blunder, and Shallow's correction. “ The Luce is not the Louse but the Pike, the fresh fish of that name. Indeed our Coat is old, as I said, and the fish cannot be fresh ; and therefore we bear the white, i. e. the pickled or salt fish.”
In the Northumberland Household Book, we meet with “ nine barrels of white herringe for a hole yere, 4. 10. 0:” and Mr. Pennant in the additions to his London says, high price of the Pike, it is probable that this fish had not yet been introduced into our ponds, but was imported as a luxury, pickled.”
It will be still clearer if we read tho salt fish in an old coat."
“ By the very
nevolence, to make atonements and compromises
SHAL. The Council shall hear it; it is a riot.'
Eva. It is not meet the Council hear a riot ; there is no fear of Got in a riot : the Council, look you, shall desire to hear the fear of Got, and not to hear a riot; take your vizaments in that."
SHAL. Ha! o' my life, if I were young again, the sword should end it.
Eva. It is petter that friends is the sword, and end it: and there is also another device in my prain, which, peradventure, prings goot discretions with it: There is Anne Page, which is daughter to master George Page, which is pretty virginity.
9 The Council shall hear it; it is a riot.] By the Council is only meant the court of Star-chamber, composed chiefly of the king's council sitting in Camerâ stellatâ, which took cognizance of atrocious riots. In the old quarto, “ the council shall know it,” follows immediately after “ I'll make a Star-chamber matter of it.” BLACKSTONE. So, in Sir John Harrington's Epigrams, 1618:
“ No marvel, men of such a sumptuous dyet
MALONE. See Stat. 13. Henry IV. c. 7. GREY.
your vizaments in that.] Advisement is now an obsolete word. I meet with it in the ancient morality of Every Man:
“ That I may amend me with good advysement." Again:
“ I shall smite without any advysement.” Again :
“ To do with good advysement and delyberacyon.” It is often used by Spenser in his Faery Queen. So, B. II. c. 9:
“Perhaps my succour and advizement meete.” STEEVENS. i which is daughter to master George Page.] The old copy reads—Thomas Page. STEVENS.
The whole set of editions have negligently blundered one after another in Page's Christian name in this place; though Mrs. Page calls him George afterwards in at least six several passages.
SLEN. Mistress Anne Page? She has brown hair, and speaks small like a woman.
Eva. It is that fery verson for all the 'orld, as just as you will desire; and seven hundred pounds of monies, and gold, and silver, is her grandsire, upon his death's-bed, (Got deliver to a joyful resurrections !) give, when she is able to overtake
speaks small like a woman.] This is from the folio of 1623, and is the true reading. He admires her for the sweetness of her voice. But the expression is highly humorous, as making her speaking small like a woman one of her marks of distinction; and the ambiguity of small, which signifies little as well as low, nakes the expression still more pleasant. WARBURTON. Thus, Lear, speaking of Cordelia:
Her voice was ever soft,
STEEVENS. Dr. Warburton has found more pleasantry here than I believe was intended. Small was, I think, not used, as supposes,
in an ambiguous sense, for “ little, as well as low," but simply for weak, slender, feminine; and the only pleasantry of the passage seems to be, that poor Slender should characterise his mistress by a general quality belonging to her whole sex. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Quince tells Flute, who objects to playing a woman's part,
“ You shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as small as you will.” MALONE.
A small voice is a soft and melodious voice. Chaucer uses the word in that sense, in The Flower and the Leaf, Speght's edit.
“ The company answered all,
“ That me thought it the sweetest melody." Again, in Fairfax's Godfrey of Bulloigne, l. 15, st. 62:
6. She warbled forth a treble small,
“ And with sweet lookes, her sweet songs enterlaced.” When female characters were filled by boys, to speak small like a woman must have been a valuable qualification. So, in Marston's What
will: “ I was solicited to graunt him leave to play the lady in comedies presented by children; but I knew his voice was too small, and his stature too low. Sing a treble, Holofernes ;-a very small sweet voice I'le assure you.”.