Page images

but the

Fal. God-a-mercy! so should I be sure to be heart-burned.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

How now, dame Partlet 6 the hen? have you inquired yet, who picked my pocket ?

Host. Why, sir John! what do you think, sir John ? Do you think I keep thieves in my house? I have searched, I have inquired, so has my husband, man by man, boy by boy, servant by servant: the tithe of a hair was never lost in my house before.

FAL. You lie, hostess; Bardolph was shaved, and lost many a hair: and I'll be sworn, my pocket was picked : Go to, you are a woman, go.

Host. Who I? I defy thee: I was never called so in mine own house before.

FAL. Go to, I know you well enough.

Host. No, sir John ; you do not know me, sir John: I know you, sir John : you owe me money, sir John, and now you pick a quarrel to beguile me of it: I bought you a dozen of shirts to your back.

Fal. Dowlas, filthy dowlas : I have given them away to bakers' wives, and they have made bolters of them.

Host. Now, as I am a true woman, holland of eight shillings an ell’. You owe money here be

1595 like


6 - dame Partlet -] Dame Partlet is the name of the hen in the old story-book of Reynard the Fox; and in Chaucer's tale of The Cock and the Fox, the favourite hen is called dame Per telote. STEVENS.

7 - holland of eight shillings an ell.] This has been supposed to be an error, but there is no ground for such a notion. Falstaff's shirts, according to this calculation, would come to about 22s. a piece; and we learn from Stubbes's Anatomie of Abuses, that the shirt of the meanest man cost at least five shillings. He thus concludes his invective upon this subject: “In so much as I have heard of shirtes that have cost some ten shillynges, some twentie,

sides, sir John, for your diet, and by-drinkings, and money lent you, four and twenty pound.

Fal. He had his part of it; let him pay.
Host. He ? alas, he is poor; he hath nothing.

Fal. How! poor? look upon his face; What call you rich? ? let them coin his nose, let them coin his cheeks ; I'll not pay a denier. What, will you make a younker of me 8 ? shall I not take mine ease in mine inn, but I shall have my pocket picked?

some fortie, some five pound, some twentie nobles, and (whiche is horrible to heare,) some ten pounde a peece, yea the meanest shirte that commonly is worne of any doest cost a crowne, or a noble at the least; and yet this is scarsly thought fine enough for the simplest person that is.” MALONE. 0by-drinkings,] Drinkings between meals.

DALRYMPLE. 7 - What call you rich?] A face set with carbuncles is called a rich face. Legend of Capt. Jones. Johnson.

8 — a YOUNKER of me?] A younker is a novice, a young inexperienced man easily gulled. So, in Gascoigne's Glass for Government, 1575:

“ These yonkers shall pay for the rost.”' See Spenser's Eclogue on May, and Sir Tho. Smith's Commonwealth of England, book i. ch. xxiii.

This contemptuous distinction is likewise very common in the old plays. Thus, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Elder Brother:

" I fear he'll make an ass of me, a yonker." I learn, however, from Smith's Sea-Grammar, 1627, (there was an earlier edition,) that one of the senses of the term younker, was “the young men ” employed “to take in the topsailes." They are mentioned as distinct characters from the sailors, who " are the ancient men for hoisting the sailes," &c.

STEEVENS. 9 - shall I not take mine ease in mine inn, but I shall have my pocket picked?] There is a peculiar force in these words. “'To take mine ease in mine inne,” was an ancient proverb, not very different in its application from that maxim, “ Every nian's house is his castle ! " for inne originally signified a house or habitation. (Sax. inne, domus, domicilium.] When the word inne began to change its meaning, and to be used to signify a house of entertainment, the proverb, still continuing in force, was applied in the latter sense, as it is here used by Shakspeare : cr perhaps Falstaff here humorously puns upon the word inne, in order to represent the wrong done him more strongly.

[ocr errors]

I have lost a seal-ring of my grandfather's, worth forty mark?.

Host. O Jesu! I have heard the prince tell him, I know not how oft, that that ring was copper.

Fal. How! the prince is a Jack', a sneak-cup;

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

In John Heywood's Works, imprinted at London, 1598, quarto, bl. 1. is “a dialogue wherein are pleasantly contrived the number of all the effectual proverbs in our English tongue, &c. together with three hundred epigrams on three hundred proverbs.” In ch. vi. is the following :

“Resty welth willeth me the widow to winne,

“ To let the world wag, and take my ease in mine inne." And among the epigrams is : [26. Of Ease in an Inne.]

“ Thou takest thine ease in thine inne so nye thee,

“ That no man in his inne can take ease by thee." Otherwise:

“ Thou takest thine ease in thine inne, but I see,

“ Thine inne taketh neither ease nor profit by thee." Now in the first of these distichs the word inne is used in its ancient meaning, being spoken by a person who is about to marry a widow for the sake of a home, &c. In the two last places, inne seems to be used in the sense it bears at present.

PERCY. Gabriel Harvey, in a MS, note to Speght's Chaucer, says, Some of Heywood's epigrams are supposed to be the conceits and devices of pleasant sir Thomas More." .

Inne, for a habitation, or a recess, is frequently used by Spenser, and other ancient writers. So, in A World toss'd at Tennis, 1620: “ These great rich men must take their ease in their inn.Again, in Greene's Farewell to Follie, 1617: “ The beggar Irus that haunted the palace of Penelope, would take his ease in his inne, as well as the peeres of Ithaca." STEEVENS. · I believe inns differed from castles, in not being of so much consequence and extent, and more particularly in not being fortified. So inns of court, and in the universities, before the endowment of colleges. Thus, Trinity college, Cambridge, was made out of and built on the site of several inns. LORT.

I-a seal-RING of my grandfather's, worth FORTY MARK.) This seems to have been the usual price of such a ring about Falstaff's time. In the printed Rolls of Parliament, vol. vi. p. 140, we meet with “ A signet of gold, to the value of xl marcs."

Ritson. ? — the prince is a Jack,] This term of contempt occurs

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

An he were here, I would cudgel him like a dog, if he would say so.

Enter Prince Henry and Poins, marching FAL

STAFF meets the Prince, playing on his truncheon, like a fife.

FAL. How now, lad ? is the wind in that door, i' faith? must we all march?

Bard. Yea, two and two, Newgate-fashion®?
Host. My lord, I pray you, hear me.

P. Hen. What sayest thou, mistress Quickly ? How does thy husband? I love him well, he is an honest man.

Host. Good my lord, hear me.
Fal. Pry'thee let her alone, and list to me.
P. Hen. What sayest thou, Jack?

FAL. The other night I fell asleep here behind the arras, and had my pocket picked: this house is turned bawdy-house, they pick pockets.

P. Hen. What didst thou lose, Jack ?

Fal. Wilt thou believe me, Hal ? three or four bonds of forty pound a-piece, and a seal ring of my grandfather's.

P. Hen. A trifle, some eight-penny matter.

Host. So I told him, my lord; and I said I heard your grace say so: And, my lord, he speaks

frequently in these plays. In The Taming of the Shrew, Katharine calls her musick-master, in derision, a twangling Jack.

MALONB. This term is likewise met with in Coriolanus, The Merchant of Venice, Cymbeline, &c. &c. but is still so much in use, as scarcely to need exemplification. Steevens.

3Newgate-fashion?] As prisoners are conveyed to Newgate, fastened two and two together. Johnson.

So, in Decker's Satiromastix, 1601 : “ Why then come; we'll walk arm in arm, as though we were leading one another to, Newgate." Reed.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

most vilely of you, like a foul-mouthed man as he is ; and said, he would cudgel you.

P. Hen. What! he did not ?

Host. There's neither faith, truth, nor womanhood in me else.

FAL. There's no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune *; nor no more truth in thee, than in

4 There's no more faith in thee than in a stewED PRUNE; &c.] The propriety of these similes I am not sure that I fully understand. A stewed prune has the appearance of a prune, but has no taste. A drawn fox, that is, an exenterated för, has the form of a fox without his powers. I think Dr. Warburton's explication wrong, which makes a drawn for to mean, a fox often hunted ; though to draw is a hunter's term for pursuit by the track. My interpretation makes the fox suit better to the prune. These are very slender disquisitions, but such is the task of a commentator.

JOHNSON. Dr. Lodge, in his pamphlet called Wit's Miserie, or the World's Madnesse, 1596, describes a bawd thus : “ This is shee that laies wait at all the carriers for wenches new come up to London; and you shall know her dwelling by a dish of stewed prunes in the window; and two or three feering wenches sit knitting or sowing in her shop."

In Measure for Measure, Act II. the male bawd excuses himself for having admitted Elbow's wife into his house, by saying, “ that she came in great with child, and longing for stewed prunes, which stood in a dish," &c.

Slender, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, who apparently wishes to recommend himself to his mistress by a seeming propensity to love as well as war, talks of having measured weapons with a fencing-master for a dish of stewed prunes.

In another old dramatick piece entitled, If this be not a Good Play the Devil is in it, 1612, a bravo enters with money, and says, “ This is the pension of the stewes, you need not untie it ; 'tis stew-money, sir, stewed prune cash, sir,"

Among the other sins laid to the charge of the once celebrated Gabriel Harvey, by his antagonist, Nash, “ to be drunk with the sirrop or liquor of stewed prunes,” is not the least insisted on

Again, in Decker's Honest Whore, Part II. 1630 : “ Peace! two dishes of stewed prunes, a bawd and a pander!” Again, in Northward Hoe, by Decker and Webster, 1607, a bawd says, “I will have but six stewed prunes in a dish, and some of mother Wall's cakes ; for my best customers are tailors.” Again, in The Noble Stranger, 1640 : " -- to be drunk with cream and stewed prunes!-Pox on't, bawdy-house fare." Again, in Decker's Seven

four of my

d 1 aks


« PreviousContinue »