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The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,3

With, hey! the sweet birds, O, how they sing !— Doth set my fugging tooth on edge;

For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.

The lark, that tirra-lirra chants,5

With, hey! with, hey! the thrush and the jay:— Are summer songs for me and my aunts,6

While we lie tumbling in the hay.

and the meaning is, the red, the spring blood now reigns o'er the parts lately under the dominion of winter. The English pale, the Irish pale, were frequent expressions in Shakspeare's time; and the words red and pale were chosen for the sake of the antithesis. Farmer.

Dr. Farmer is certainly right. I had offered this explanation to Dr. Johnson, who rejected it. In King Henry V, our author says:

the English beach

"Pales in the flood," &c.

Again, in Antony and Cleopatra:

"Whate'er the ocean pales, or sky inclips."

Holinshed, p. 528, calls Sir Richard Aston: Lieutenant of the English pale, for the earle of Summerset." Again, in K. Henry VI, P. I:

“How are we park'd, and bounded in a pale." Steevens. 3 The white sheet bleaching &c.] So, in the song at the end of Love's Labour's Lost, SPRING mentions as descriptive of that season, that then "- - maidens bleach their summer smocks."


4 pugging tooth -] Sir T. Hanmer, and after him Dr. Warburton, read-progging tooth. It is certain that pugging is not now understood. But Dr. Thirlby observes, that it is the cant of gypsies. Johnson.

The word pugging is used by Greene in one of his pieces; and a puggard was a cant name for some particular kind of thief. So, in The Roaring Girl, 1611:

"Of cheaters, lifters, nips, foists, puggards, curbers." See to prigge in Minshieu. Steevens.

5 The lark, that tirra-lirra chants.]


"La gentille allouette avec son tire-lire

"Tire lire a lirè et tire-lirent tire

"Vers la voute du Ciel, puis son vol vers ce lieu
"Vire et desire dire adieu Dieu, adieu Dieu."

Du Bartas, Liv. 5, de sa premiere semaine.

"Ecce suum tirile tirile: suum tirile tractat."

Linnai Fauna Suecica. H. White.

I have served prince Florizel, and, in my time, wore three-pile; but now I am out of service:

But shall I go mourn for that, my dear?
The pale moon shines by night :
And when I wander here and there,
I then do most go right.

If tinkers may have leave to live,
And bear the sow-skin budget;
Then my account I well may give,
And in the stocks avouch it.

My traffick is sheets; when the kite builds, look to les

So, in an ancient poem, entitled The Silke Worms and their Flies, 1599:

"Let Philomela sing, let Progne chide,

"Let Tyry-tyry-leerers upward flie-."

In the margin the author explains Tyryleerers by its synonyme,




my aunts,] Aunt appears to have been at this time a cant word for a bawd. In Middleton's comedy, called A Trick to catch the old One, 1616, is the following confirmation of its being used in that sense:-"It was better bestowed upon his uncle than one of his aunts, I need not say bawd, for every one knows what aunt stands for in the last translation." Again, in Ram-Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611:

"I never knew

"What sleeking, glazing, or what pressing meant
"Till you preferr'd me to your aunt the lady:

"I knew no ivory teeth, no caps of hair,
"No mercury, water, fucus, or perfumes
"To help a lady's breath, until your aunt
"Learn'd me the common trick."

Again, in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635: "I'll call you one of my aunts, sister; that were as good as to call you arrant whore."



wore three-pile;] i. e. rich velvet. So, in Ram-Alley, or Merry Tricks, 1611:

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"With black, crimson, and tawny three pil'd velvet." Again, in Measure for Measure:

"Master Three-pile, the mercer." Steevens.

8 My traffick is sheets; &c.] So, in The Three Ladies of London,


"Our fingers are lime twigs, and barbers we be,

"To catch sheets from hedges most pleasant to see." Again, in Queen Elizabeth's Entertainment in Suffolke and Norfolke, &c. by Thomas Churchyard, 4to. no date, Riotte says:

ser linen.

My father named me Autolycus; who, being, as I am, littered under Mercury, was likewise a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles: With die, and drab, I purchased this caparison;1 and my revenue is the silly cheat: Gallows, and knock, are too powerful on the

"If any heere three ydle people needes,

"Call us in time, for we are fine for sheetes: "Yea, for a shift, to steale them from the hedge, "And lay both sheetes and linnen all to gage. "We are best be gone, least some do heare alledge "We are but roages, and clappe us in the cage." Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Beggars' Bush:

"To steal from the hedge both the shirt and the sheet.”

Steevens. Autolycus means, that his practice was to steal sheets and large pieces of linen, leaving the smaller pieces for the kites to build with. M. Mason.

When the kite builds, look to lesser linen.] Lesser linen is an ancient term, for which our modern laundresses have substituted -small clothes. Steevens.

This passage, I find, is not generally understood. When the good women, in solitary cottages near the woods where kites build, miss any of their lesser linen, as it hangs to dry on the hedge in spring, they conclude that the kite has been marauding for a lining to her nest; and there adventurous boys often find it employed for that purpose. H. White.

9 My father nam'd me Autolycus; &c.] Mr. Theobald says, the allusion is unquestionably to Ovid. He is mistaken. Not only the allusion, but the whole speech is taken from Lucian; who appears to have been one of our poet's favourite authors, as may be collected from several places of his works. It is from his discourse on judicial astrology, where Autolycus talks much in the same and 'tis on this account that he is called the son of Mercury by the ancients, namely, because he was born under that planet. And as the infant was supposed by the astrologers to communicate of the nature of the star which predominated, so Autolycus was a thief. Warburton.


This piece of Lucian, to which Dr. Warburton refers, was translated long before the time of Shakspeare. I have seen it, but it had no date. Steevens.


With die, and drab, I purchased this caparison;] i. e. with gaming and whoring, I brought myself to this shabby dress.


2 my revenue is the silly cheat:] Silly is used by the writers of our authors time, for simple, low, mean; and in this the humour of the speech consists. I don't aspire to arduous and high things, as Bridewell or the gallows: I am contented with this humble and low way of life, as a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles.

highway: 3 beating, and hanging, are terrors to me; for the life to come, I sleep out the thought of it.-A prize! a prize!

Enter Clown.


Clo. Let me see:-Every 'leven wether tods; every

But the Oxford editor, who, by his emendations, seems to have declared war against all Shakspeare's humour, alters it to-the sly cheat. Warburton.

The silly cheat is one of the technical terms belonging to the art of coneycatching or thievery, which Greene has mentioned among the rest, in his treatise on that ancient and honourable science. I think it means picking pockets. Steevens.

3 Gallows, and knock, &c.] The resistance which a highway. man encounters in the fact, and the punishment which he suffers on detection, withhold me from daring robbery, and determine me to the silly cheat and petty theft. Johnson.


tods;] A tod is twenty-eight pounds of wool. Percy. I was led into an error concerning this passage by the word tods, which I conceived to be a substantive, but which is used ungrammatically as the third person singular of the verb to tod, in concord with the preceding words-every 'leven wether. The same disregard of grammar is found in almost every page of the old copies, and has been properly corrected, but here is in character, and should be preserved.

Dr. Farmer observes to me, that to tod is used as a verb by dealers in wool; thus, they say: "Twenty sheep ought to tod fif. ty pounds of wool," &c. The meaning, therefore, of the Clown's words is: "Every eleven wether tods; i. e. will produce a tod, or twenty-eight pounds of wool; every tod yields a pound and some odd shillings; what then will the wool of fifteen hundred yield?"

The occupation of his father furnished our poet with accurate knowledge on this subject; for two pounds and a half of wool is, I am told, a very good produce from a sheep at the time of shearing. About thirty shillings a tod is a high price at this day. It is singular, as Sir Henry Englefield remarks to me, that there should be so little variation between the price of wool in Shakspeare's time and the present.-In 1425, as I learn from Kennet's Parochial Antiquities, a tod of wool sold for nine shillings and sixpence. Malone.

Every 'leven wether tods;] This has been rightly expounded to mean that the wool of eleven sheep would weigh a tod, or 281b. Each fleece would, therefore, be 2lb. 8oz. 111⁄2dr. and the whole produce of fifteen hundred shorn, 136 tod, 1 clove, 2lb. 6oz. 2dr. which at pound and odd shilling per tod, would yield £143 3 0. Our author was too familiar with the subject to be suspected of inaccuracy.

Indeed it appears from Stafford's Breefe conceipte of English Pollicye, 1581, p. 16, that the price of a tod of wool was at that

unto whom I was going; I shall there have money, or any thing I want: Offer me no money, I pray you; that kills my heart.2

Clo. What manner of fellow was he that robbed you? Aut. A fellow, sir, that I have known to go about with trol-my-dames: I knew him once a servant of the prince; I cannot tell, good sir, for which of his virtues it was, but he was certainly whipped out of the court.

Clo. His vices, you would say; there's no virtue whipped out of the court: they cherish it, to make it stay there; and yet it will no more but abide.

Aut. Vices I would say, sir. I know this man well: he hath been since an ape-bearer; then a process-server,

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So, in King Henry V, Dame Quick"the king hath killed his heart."


with trol-my-dames:] Trou-madame, Fr. The game of nine-holes Warburton.

In Dr. Jones's old treatise on Buckstone Bathes, he says: "The ladyes, gentle woomen, wyves, maydes, if the weather be not agreeable, may have in the ende of a benche, eleven holes made, intoo the which to troule pummits, either wyolent or softe, after their own discretion: the pastyme troule in madame is termed.”


The old English title of this game was pigeon-holes; as the arches in the machine through which the balls are rolled, resemble the cavities made for pigeons in a dove-house. So, in The Antipodes,


"Three-pence I lost at nine-pins; but I got
"Six tokens towards that at pigeon-holes."

Again, in A Wonder, or a Woman never vex'd, 1632: "What quicksands, he finds out, as dice, cards, pigeon-holes" Steevens. Mr. Steevens is perfectly accurate in his description of the game of Trou-madame, or pigeon-holes. Nine-holes is quite another thing; thus:

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o being so many holes made in the ground, into which O o they are to bowl a pellet. I have seen both played O O o at. Ritson.

This game is mentioned by Drayton in the 14th song of his Polyolbion:

"At nine-holes on the heath while they together play." Steevens.

4 abide] To abide, here, must signify, to sojourn, to live for a time without a settled habitation. Johnson. To abide is again used in Macbeth, in the sense of tarrying for a while:

"I'll call upon you straight; abide within." Malone.

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