Page images

153. A fiend, a fairy, pitiless and rough;] Dromio here bringing word in haste that his master is arrested, describes the bailiff by names proper to raise horror and detestation of such a creature, such as, a devil, a fiend, a wolf, &c. But how does fairy come up to these terrible ideas? we should read, a fiend, a fury, &c.

THEOBALD. There were fairies like hobgobblins, pitiless and rough, and described as malevolent and mischievous.

JOHNSON. 155. A back friend, a shoulder-clapper, &c. of alleys, creeks, and narrow lands;] It should be written, I think, narrow lanes, as he has the same expression, Richard II. act v. scene 6.

Even such they say as stand in narrow lanes.” GREY. Narrow-LANDS is certainly the true reading, as not only the rhime points out, but the sense ; for as a creek is a narrow-water, forming an inlet from the main body into the neighbouring shore, so a narrow Land is an outlet or tongue of the shore that runs into the water. Besides, narrow lanes and ALLEYS are syrzonymous.

HENLEY. A shoulder-clapper is a bailiff: -fear none but these same shoulder-clappers."

Decker's Satiromastix. STEEVENS. 157. A hound that runs counter, and yet draws dryfoot well ;] To run counter is to run backward, by mistaking the course of the animal pursued; to draw dryfact is, I believe, to pursue by the track or prick of the foot; to run counter and draw dry-foot well, are, there.



fore, inconsistent. The jest consists in the ambiguity of the word counter, which means the wrong way in the chase, and a prison in London. The officer that arrested him was a serjeant of the counter. For the congruity of this jest, with the scene of action, let our author answer.

JOHNSON. Ben Jonson has the same expression; Every Man in his Humour, act ii. sc. 4.

“ Well, the truth is, my old master intends to follow my young, dry-foot over Moorfields to London this morning,” &c.

To draw dry-foot, is when the dog pursues the game by the scent of the foot; for which the blood-hound is fam'd,

GREY. 158. -poor souls to hell.] Hell was the cant term for on obscure dungeon in any of our prisons. It is mentioned in the Counter-Rat, a poem, 1658:

“ In Wood-Street's-Hole, or Poultry's Hell.There was likewise a place of this name under the Exchequer-Chamber, where the king's debtors were confined till they had paid the uttermost farthing,

STEVENS. on the case.

se.] An action upon the case, is a general action given for the redress of a wrong done any man without force, and not especially provided for by law.

GREY, 167. was he arrested on a band?] Thus the old copy, and I believe rightly; though the modern editors read bond. A bond, i.e. an obligatory writing to pay a sum of money, was anciently spelt band.

A band


-tye fast

A band is likewise a nechcloth. On this circumstance
I believe the humour of the passage turns.
So, in Histrionastix, 1610 :


lands « In statute staple, or these merchants' bands."

STEEVENS. 179. If time be in debt,] The old edition reads If I be in debt.

STEEVENS. 197. -what have you got the piâiure old Adam new apparelld?] A short word or two must have slipt out here, by some accident in copying, or at press; otherwise I have no conception of the meaning of the passage. The case is this : Dromio's master had been arrested, and sent his servant home for money to redeem him: he, running back with the money, meets the twin Antipholis, whom he mistakes for his master, and seeing him clear of the officer before the money was come, he cries, in a surprise ; What, have you got rid of the picture of old Adam new

appareil'd ? For so I have ventured to supply, by conjecture. But why is the officer called old Adam new apparell’d? The allusion is to Adam in his state of innocence going naked; and immediately after the fall, being cloath'd in a frock of skins. Thus he was new apparell’d: and, in like manner, the serjeants of the counter were formerly clad in buff, or calves-skin, as the author humorously a little lower calls it.





The explanation is very good, but the text does not require to be amended.

JOHNSON. These jests on Adam's dress are common among our old writers. So in King Edward III. 1599 :

“ The register of all varieties
« Since leathern Adam to this younger hour,"

STEEVENS. he that sets up his rest to do more exploits with kis mace,

than a MORRIS-pike.] Sets up his rest, is a phrase taken from military exercise. When gun-powder was first invented, its force was very weak compared to that in present use. This necessarily acquired firearms to be of an extra

traordinary length. As the artists improved the strength of their powder, the soldiers proportionably shortened their arms and artillery; só that the cannon which Froissart tells us was once fifty feet long, was contracted to less than ten. This proportion likewise held in their muskets ; so that till the middle of the last century, the musketeers always supported their pieces when they gave fire, with a rest stuck before them into the ground, which they called setting up their rest, and is here alluded to. There is another quibbling allusion too to the serjeant's office of arresting.

WARBURTON This conjecture is very ingenious, yet the com. mentator talks unnecessarily of the rest of a musket, by which he makes the hero of the speech set up the rest of a musket, to do exploits with a pike. The rest of a pike was a common term, and signified, I believe,

of the enemy.

the manner in which it was fixed to receive the rush

JOHNSON. Dr. Johnson's explanation of the rest of a pike is given without any clear idea of his subject ; for how can a thing, which is represented by him as having a positive and distinct existence, be at the same time a mode only of some other thing, which depends for its efficacy upon it ?-But, exclusive of this confusion, if a pike EVER HAD a rest, its primary use must have been to support the staff in charging an enemy, unless the weapon were merely defensive; and if the pike were only a weapon of defence, as described by the doctor, it would ill suit the purpose to which Shakspere has applied it:-" he that sets up his rest to do more exploits with his mace, than a morris-pike."

The phrase, he that sets up his Rest, in this instance, signifies only, I believe he that TRUSTS-is confident in his expectation. Thus, Bacon :-- Sea-fights have been final to the war, but this is, when princes set up their REST upon the battle." Again, Clarendon« they therefore resolved to set up their rest upon that stake, and to go through with it, or perish.” This figure of speech is certainly derived from the KEST which Dr. Warburton has described, as that was the only kind of rest which was ever set up. The Rest for the SPEAR was of quite another nature. Dr. Johnson, however, seems to have supposed that the spear was the same weapon with the pike; but they were very different, and though the spear, in tilting, was


« PreviousContinue »