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FAL. You rogue, they were bound, every man of them : or I am a Jew else, an Ebrew Jew!..
Gads. As we were sharing, some six or seven
Fal. And unbound the rest, and then come in the other.
P. Hen. What fought ye with them all ? : FAL. All ? I know not what ye call, all ; but if I fought not with fifty of them, I am a bunch of radish: if there were not two or three and fifty upon poor old Jack, then am I no two-legged creature.
Poins. Pray God, you have not murdered some of them.
FAL. Nay, that's past praying for: for I have peppered two of them: two, I am sure, I have paid ? ; two rogues in buckram suits. I tell thee what, Hal, if I tell thee a lie, spit in my face, call me horse. Thou knowest my old ward ;-here I lay, and thus I bore my point. Four rogues in buckram let drive at me,
P. Hen. What four ? thou saidst but two even now.
1 an EBREW Jew.] So, in the Two Gentlemen of Verona: " thou art an Hebrew, a Jew, and not worth the name of a Christian."
tinction from the stranger Jews denominated Greeks. STEEVENS.
Jews, in Shakspeare's time, were supposed to be peculiarly hard-hearted. So, in The Two Gentlemen of Verona : “ A Jew would have wept to have seen our parting." MALONE.
2 — two, I am sure, I have PAID;] i. e. drubbed, beaten. So, in Marlowe's translation of Ovid's Elegies, printed at Middleburgh (without date):
« Thou cozenest boys of sleep, and dost betray them
“ To pedants that with cruel lashes pay them." Malone. Paid, here, seems to import more than drubbed, beaten. I think it means killed. In Sir Richard Hawkins's Observations, we have payments in this sense. See p. 58. Reed.
Fal. Four, Hal; I told thee four.
Fal. These four came all a-front, and mainly thrust at me. I made me no more ado, but took their seven points in my target, thus.
P. Hen. Seven? why, there were but four even now.
Fal. In buckram.
FAL. Seven, by these hilts, or I am a villain else.
P. Hen. Pr'ythee, let him alone; we shall have more anon.
Fal. Dost thou hear me, Hal?
Fal. Do so, for it is worth the listening to.
P. Hen. So, two more already.
ore) ; ii
3 In buckram.] I believe these words belong to the Prince's speech: “ — there were but four even now, -in buckram." Poins concurs with the Prince: “Ay, four, in buckram suits ;" and Falstaff perseveres in the number of seven. As the speeches are at present regulated, Falstaff seems to assent to the Prince's assertion, that there were but four, if the Prince will but grant they were in buckram; and then immediately afterwards asserts that the number of his assailants was sever. The regulation proposed renders the whole consistent. Malone, 4 P. Hen. Seven ? why, there were but four, even now.
Fal. In buckram.
Poins. Ay, four, in buckram suits.] From the Prince's speech, and Poins's answer, I apprehend that Falstaff's reply should be interrogatively: “In buckram?” WHALLEY. s Fal. Their points being broken,
Poins. Down fell their hose.] To understand Poins's joke, the double meaning of point must be remembered, which signifies the sharp end of a zveapon, and the lace of a garment. The cleanly phrase for letting down the hose, ad levandum alvum, was to untruss a point. Johnson.
So, in the comedy of Wily Beguiled : “ I was so near taken, FAL. Began to give me ground: But' I followed me close, came in foot and hand; and with a thought, seven of the eleven I paid.
P. Hen. O monstrous ! eleven buckram men grown out of two!
Fal. But, as the devil would have it, three misbegotten knaves, in Kendal green, came at my back and let drive at me;-for it was so dark, Hal, that thou could'st not see thy hand.
P. Hen. These lies are like the father that bethat I was fain to cut all my points.” Again, in Sir Giles Goosecap, 1606 :
" Help me to truss my points. "
“I had rather see your hose about your heels, than I would help you to truss a point.”
Randle Holme also, in his Academy of Arms and Blazon, book iii. cb, ijihas given us to understand, that these holders “ are small wiers made round, through which the breeches hooks are put, to keep them from falling."
The same jest indeed had already occurred in Twelfth Night. See vol. xi. p. 363, n. 4. Steevens.
6 - Kendal -] Kendal, in Westmoreland, is a place famous for making cloths, and dying them with several bright colours. To this purpose, Drayton, in the 30th song of his Polyolbion :
“ where Kendal town doth stand,
“For making of our cloth scarce match'd in all the land.” Kendal green was the livery of Robert Earl of Huntington and his followers, while they remained in a state of outlawry, and their leader assumed the title of Robin Hood. The colour is repeatedly mentioned in the old play on this subject, 1601 :
all the woods
“Then Robin will I wear thy Kendall green." Again, in The Playe of Robyn Hoode verye proper to be played in Maye Games, bl. I. no date :
“ Here be a sorte of ragged knaves come in,
“ Clothed all in Kendale grene." STEVENS. Again : “ Kendal, a towne so highly renowned for her commodious cloathing and industrious trading, as her name is become famous in that kind." Camd. in Brit. Barnabee's Journal.
BOWLE. See also Hall's Chronicle, Henry VIII. p. 6. MALONE.
gets them; gross as a mountain, open, palpable. Why, thou clay-brained guts; thou knotty-pated fool; thou whoreson, obscene, greasy tallowkeech,
FAL. What, art thou mad ? art thou mad ? is not the truth, the truth?
P. HEN. Why, how could'st thou know these men in Kendal green, when it was so dark thou could'st not see thy hand $? come, tell us your reason ; What sayest thou to this ?
Porns. Come, your reason, Jack, your reason.
FAL. What, upon compulsion ? No; were I at the strappado', or all the racks in the world, I
7 — tallow-keech,] The word tallow-catch is in all editions ; but having no meaning, cannot be understood. In some parts of the kingdom, a cake or mass of wax or tallow, is called a keech, which is doubtless the word intended here, unless we read tallowketch, that is, tub of tallow. Johnson.
The conjectural emendation ketch, i. e. tub, is very ingenious. But the Prince's allusion is sufficiently striking, if we alter not a letter; and only suppose, that by tallow-catch, he means a receptacle for tallow. T. WARTON.
Tallow-keech is undoubtedly right, but ill explained. A keech of tallow is the fat of an ox or cow rolled up by the butcher in a round lump, in order to be carried to the chandler. It is the proper word in use now. Percy. . Å keech is what is called a tallow-loaf in Sussex, and in its form resembles the rotundity of a fat man's belly. Collins.
Shakspeare calls the butcher's wife goody Keech, in the Second Part of this play. Steevens.
8- when it was so dark thou could'st not see thy hand.] The humour of Falstaff seeing the colour of the men's coats, when it was so dark he could not see his hand, is just like a passage in the Plutus of Aristophanes, where Carion the slave says, that, after covering his head with his cloke, he saw Æsculapius, upon which the old woman observes,
Συ δε πως εώρας, ω κακις' απολεμενε,
Os Eyrenahuplar ons ; iii. 3. BLAKEWAY. 9- the STRAPPado,] “ The strappado is when the person is drawn up to his height, and then suddenly to let him fall half way with a jerk, which not only breaketh his arms to pieces, but also shaketh all his joints out of joint; which punishment is better to be hanged, than for a man to undergo." See
would not tell you on compulsion. Give you a reason on compulsion! if reasons were as plenty as blackberries, I would give no man a reason upon compulsion, I.
P. Hen. I'll be no longer guilty of this sin; this sanguine coward, this bed-presser, this horse-backbreaker, this huge hill of flesh;
Fal. Away, you starveling, you elf-skin', you dried neats-tongue, bull's pizzle, you stock-fish, O, for breath to utter what is like thee !-you tailor's yard, you sheath, you bow-case, you vile standing tuck;
P. HEN. Well, breathe awhile, and then to it again : and when thou hast tired thyself in base comparisons, hear me speak but this.
Poins. Mark, Jack.
P. Hen. We two saw you four set on four; you bound them", and were masters of their wealth.Randle Holme's Academy of Arms and Blazon, book iii. ch. vii. p. 310. STEEVENS.
1 -- you starveling, you ELF-SKIN,7 For elf-skin Sir Thomas Hanmer and Dr. Warburton read eel-skin. The true reading, I believe, is elf-kin, or little fairy: for though the Bastard in King John compares his brother's two legs to two eel-skins stuff'd, yet an eel-skin simply bears no great resemblance to a man. Johnson.
In these comparisons Shakspeare was not drawing the picture of a little fuiry, but of a man remarkably tall and thin, to whose shapeless uniformity of length, an “eel-skin stuff'd” (for that circumstance is implied) certainly bears a humorous resemblance, as do the taylor's yard, the tuck, or small sword set upright, &c. The comparisons of the stock-fish and dried neat's tongue allude to the leanness of the Prince. The reading-eel-skin, is supported likewise by the passage already quoted from King John, and by Falstaff's description of the lean Shallow in The Second Part of King Henry IV.
Shakspeare had historical authority for the leanness of the Prince of Wales. Stowe, speaking of him, says, “ he exceeded the mean stature of men, his neck long, body slender and lean, and his bones small,” &c. SteeVENS.
2you bound them,] The old copies read and bound them. Corrected by Mr. Pope. Malone.