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ventured to transpose the adjective here, against the authority of the printed copies. I know, in horses, a colt from a blind stallion loses much of the value it might otherwise have; but are puppies ever drowned the sooner, for coming from a blind bitch? The author certainly wrote, as they would have drown'd the bitch's blind puppies. THEOBALD.
several deaths:] Thus the folio and the most
correct of the quartos. The first quarto reads―egregious deaths.
bilbo,-] A bilbo is a Spanish blade, of which
the excellence is flexibleness and elasticity.
Line 693. kidney,] Kidney in this phrase now signifies kind or qualities, but Falstaff means a man whose kidneys are as fat as mine. JOHNSON.
Line 712. —address me—] Address here means, to make ready. 731. -I'll be horn-mad.] There is no image which our author appears so fond of as that of cuckold's horns. Scarcely a light character is introduced that does not endeavour to produce merriment by some allusion to horned husbands. As he wrote his plays for the stage rather than the press, he perhaps reviewed them seldom, and did not observe this repetition, or finding the jest, however frequent, still successful, did not think correction necessary. JOHNSON.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
Line 1. This is a very trifling scene, of no use to the plot, and I should think of no great delight to the audience; but Shakspeare best knew what would please. JOHNSON.
Sir William Blackstone, Mr. Steevens, Mr. Malone, and Mr. Reed, have endeavoured to illustrate this scene of ribaldry; but, I think, quite in vain.
ACT IV. SCENE II.
obsequious] This word refers in the pre
sent, and some other instances, to that sadness which the solem
nity of funeral rites inspires.
lunes] i. e. Lunatic.
—he so takes on- -] To take on, which is now
used for to grieve, seems to be used by our author for to rage. Perhaps it was applied to any passion. JOHNSON.
is at his old lunes.
-peer-out,] That is, appear horns. Shakspeare
-an abstract- -] See Hamlet:
"The abstract, and brief chronicle of the times."
·237. —this wrongs you.] This is below your character, unworthy of your understanding, injurious to your honour. So in The Taming of the Shrew, Bianca, being ill treated by her rugged sister, says:
"You wrong me much, indeed you wrong yourself.”
Line 247. 260.
disguise. Line 269.
-his wife's leman.] i. e. Sweetheart.
-such daubery,] i. e. Such imposition under
ronyon!] Ronyon, applied to a woman, means,
as far as can be traced, much the same with scall or scab spoken
of a man.
Line 278. second stratagem, by which Falstaff escapes, is much the grosser of the two, I wish it had been practised first. It is very unlikely that Ford, having been so deceived before, and knowing that he had been deceived, would suffer him to escape in so slight a disguise. JOHNSON.
-I spy a great peard under her muffler.] As the
cry out thus upon no trail,] The expression is taken from the hunters. Trail is the scent left by the passage game. To cry out, is to open or bark.
ACT IV. SCENE III.
Line 320. they must come off;] To come off, signifies in our author, sometimes to be uttered with spirit and volubility. In this place it seems to mean what is in our time expressed by to come down, to pay liberally and readily. These accidental and colloquial senses are the disgrace of language, and the plague of JOHNSON.
To come off, is to pay. In this sense it is used by Massinger, in The Unnatural Combat, Act 4. Sc. 2. where a wench, demand
ing money of the father to keep his bastard, says-Will you come off, Sir? STEEV ENS.
The phrase is used by Chaucer, Friar's Tale, 338. edit. Urry. "Come off, and let me riden hastily,
"Give me twelve pence; I may no longer tarie."
ACT IV. SCENE IV.
Line 328. I rather will suspect the sun with cold,] Thus the modern editions.-The old ones read-with gold, which may mean, I rather will suspect the sun can be corrupted by a bribe, than thy honour be betrayed to wantonness. Surely Shakspeare would rather have said-suspect the sun of cold—if he had designed what is implied by the alteration. STEEVENS.
and takes the cattle;] To take, in Shakspeare,
signifies to seize or strike with a disease, to blast.
-idle-headed Eld- -] Eld here means old.
urchins, ouphes,] i. e. Fairies.
With some diffused song;] i. e. Wild, unconnected,
A diffused song signifies a song that strikes out into wild sentiments beyond the bounds of nature, such as those whose subject is fairy land. WARBURTON:
By diffused song Shakspeare may mean such songs as mad people sing. Edgar in K. Lear, when he has determined to assume the appearance of a travelling lunatic, declares his resolution to diffuse his speech, i. e. to give it the turn peculiar to madness.
Line 388. And, fairy-like, To pinch the unclean knight;] This should perhaps be written to-pinch, as one word. This use of to in composition with verbs is very common in Gower and Chaucer, but must have been rather antiquated in the time of Shakspeare. See Gower De Confessione Amantis, B. 4. fol. 7.
"All to-tore is myn araie."
And Chaucer, Reeve's Tale, 1169.
-mouth and nose to-broke."
The construction will otherwise be very hard. TYRWHITT. Line 408. That silk will I go buy;-and in that time] Mr. Theobald referring that time to the time of buying the silk, alters it to tire. But there is no need of any change: that time evidently relating to the time of the mask with which Falstaff was to be entertained, and which makes the whole subject of this dialogue. Therefore the common reading is right. WARBURTON.
Line 416. -tricking for our fairies.] To trick is to decorate.
ACT IV. SCENE V.
Line 435. -standing-bed, and trucklc-bed;] The usual furniture in chambers in that time was a standing-bed, under which was a trochle, truckle, or running bed. In the standingbed lay the master, and in the truckle-bed the servant. So in Hall's Account of a Servile Tutor:
"He lieth in the truckle-bed,
"While his young master lieth o'er his head."
Line 437.-Anthropophaginian] i. e. Man-eater.
-Bohemian-Tartar- -] The French call a Bohemian what we call a Gypsey; but I believe the Host means nothing more than, by a wild appellation, to insinuate that Simple makes a strange appearance. JOHNSON.
Line 456.-muscle-shell;] He calls poor Simple muscleshell, because he stands with his mouth open.
-clerkly,] See note on the same word in The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Line 489.but was paid for my learning.] To pay, here means to beat.
-Primero.-] A game at cards. JOHNSON. action of an old woman,
-] What! was it any dexterity of wit in Sir John Falstaff to counterfeit the action of an old woman, in order to escape being apprehended for a witch? Surely, one would imagine, this was the readiest means to bring him into such a scrape: for none but old women have ever been suspected of being witches. THEOBALD.
Falstaff, by counterfeiting such weakness and infirmity as would naturally be pitied in an old woman, averted the punishment to which he would otherwise have been subjected, on the supposition that he was a witch. STEEVENS.
Line 556. Sure, one of you does not serve heaven well, &c.] The great fault of this play is the frequency of expressions so profane, that no necessity of preserving character can justify them. There are laws of higher authority than those of criticism.
ACT IV. SCENE VI.
image] i. e. Representation.
-quaint in green,] i. c. Whimsically drest i.e.
ACT V. SCENE I.
Line 9. —hold up your head and mince.] To mince, is to walk with affected short steps.
ACT V. SCENE II.
Line 37. -a nay-word,] i. e. A watch-word.
ACT V. SCENE III.
Line 59. and the Welch devil, Hugh?] The former impressions read the Welch devil Herne? But Falstaff was to represent Herne, and he was no Welchman. Where was the attention or sagacity of our editors, not to observe that Mr. Ford is enquir ing for Sir Hugh Evans by the name of the Welch devil? Dr. Thirlby likewise discovered the blunder of this passage.
ACT V. SCENE V.
-kissing-comfits,] Confections to sweeten
Line 103. Divide me like a bribe-buck,] Probably means, a buck
sent as a fee, or present.