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when thou art king, as, God save thy grace, (majesty, I should say ; for grace thou wilt have none)
P. Hen. What ! none?
FAL. No, by my troth ; not so much as will serve to be prologue to an egg and butter.
P. Hen. Well, how then? come, roundly, roundly.
Fal. Marry, then, sweet wag, when thou art king, let not us, that are squires of the night's body, be called thieves of the day's beauty o; let us be-Diana's foresters", gentlemen of the shade,
will discover. Perhaps the words " that wandering knight so fair,” are part of some forgotten ballad on the subject of this marvellous hero's adventures. In Peele's Old Wives Tale, Com. 1595, Eumenides, “the wandering knight," is a character.
STEEVENS. let not us, that are squires of the night's body, be called thieves of the day's beauty;] This conveys no manner of idea to me.
How could they be called thieves of the day's beauty ? They robbed by moonshine; they could not steal the fair day-light. I have ventured to substitute booty: and this I take to be the meaning. Let us not be called thieves, the purloiners of that booty, which, to the proprietors, was the purchase of honest labour and industry by day. THEOBALD.
It is true, as Mr. Theobald has observed, that they could not steal the fair day-light; but I believe our poet by the expression, “ thieves of the day's beauty,” meant only, “let not us who are body squires to the night," i. e. adorn the night, “ be called a disgrace to the day.” To take away the beauty of the day, may probably mean, to disgrace it. A "squire of the body" signified originally, the attendant on a knight; the person who bore his head-piece, spear, and shield. It became afterwards the cant term for a pimp; and is so used in the second part of Decker's Honest Whore, 1630. Again, in The Witty Fair One, 1633, for a procuress :
“ Here comes the squire of her mistress's body." Falstaff, however, puns on the word knight. See the Curialia of Samuel Pegge, Esq. Part I. p. 100. STEEVENS.
There is also, I have no doubt, a pun on the word beauty, which in the western counties is pronounced nearly in the same manner as booty, See King Henry VI. Part III. : “ So triumph thieves upon their conquer'd booty."
minions of the moon : And let men say, we be men of good government; being governed as the sea is, by our noble and chaste mistress the moon, under whose countenance we-steal.
P. Hen. Thou say'st well; and it holds well, too: for the fortune of us, that are the moon's men, doth ebb and flow like the sea; being governed as the sea is, by the moon. As, for proof, now: A purse of gold most resolutely snatched on Monday night, and most dissolutely spent on Tuesday morning; got with swearing-lay by °; and spent with crying
bring in?: now, in as low an ebb as the foot of the ladder; and, by and by, in as high a flow as the ridge of the gallows.
Fal. By the Lord, thou say'st true, lad. And is not my hostess of the tavern a most sweet wench? ? 7 Diana's foresters, &c.]
• Exile and slander are justly mee awarded,
My wife and heire lacke lands and lawful right;
“And me their lord made dame Diana's knight." So lamenteth Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk, in The Mirror for Magistrates. HENDERSON.
We learn from Hall, that certain persons who appeared as foresters in a pageant exhibited in the reign of King Henry VIII. were called Diana's knights. Malone.
8 - minions of the Moon:] Thus, as Dr. Farmer observes, Gamaliel Ratsey and his company “became servants to the moone, for the sunne was too hot for them." STEEVENS.
9 - got with swearing-LAY BY;] i. e. swearing at the passengers they robbed,
lay by your arms;" or rather, lay by was a phrase that then signified stand still, addressed to those who were preparing to rush forward. But the Oxford editor kindly accommodates these old thieves with a new cant phrase, taken from Bagshot-heath or Finchley-common, of lug out.
“ Even the billows of the sea
P. Hen. As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle. And is not a buff jerkin a most sweet robe of durance ?
the same kind of humour as is contained in this and the three
Jampridum ecastor frigidâ non lavi magis lubenter,
fuit. Phi. Quid ea messis attinet ad meam lavationem ?
Sca. Nihilo plus, quam lavatio tua ad messim. In the want of connection to what went before, probably consists the humour of the Prince's question. Steevens.
This kind of humour is often met with in old plays. In The Gallathea of Lyly, Phillida says: “ It is a pitie that nature framed you not a woman.
" Gall. There is a tree in Tylos, &c.
“ Phill. What a toy it is to tell me of that tree, being nothing to the purpose," &c.
Ben Jonson calls it a game at vapours. FARMER.
3 As the honey of Hybla, MY OLD LAD OF THE CASTLE.] Old lad is likewise a familiar compellation to be found in some of our most ancient dramatick pieces. So, in The Trial of Treasure, 1567 : “ What, Inclination, old lad art thou there?” In the dedication to Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is up, &c. by T. Nash, 1598, old Dick of the castle is mentioned.
Again, in Pierce's Supererogation, or a New Praise of the Old Asse, 1593 : " And here's a lusty ladd of the castell, that will binde beares, and ride golden asses to death." Sreevens.
I have omitted some long notes here, on the question whether Falstaff was originally termed Oldcastle by Shakspeare, to which it has been supposed there is here an allusion. The contest was renewed in the notes on Henry the Fifth, but I have carried what was said in both places to the end of this play, that the reader may have the whole of the controversy before him at once. Boswell.
“ Old lad of the castle," is the same with “ Old lad of Castile, a Castilian.-Meres reckons Oliver of the castle amongst his romances : and Gabriel Harvey tells us of “ Old lads of the castell with their rapping babble ;”-roaring boys. This is therefore no argument for Falstaff's appearing first under the name of Oldcastle. There is, however, a passage in a play called Amends for Ladies, by Field the player, 1618, which may seem to prove it, unless he confounded the different performances :
you never see
“ Did tell you truly what this honour was ? ” FARMER. VOL. XVI.
FAL. How now, how now, mad wag? what, in thy quips, and thy quiddities? what a plague have I to do with a buff jerkin?
P. Hen. Why, what a pox have I to do with my hostess of the tavern ?
Fal. Well, thou hast called her to a reckoning, many a time and oft.
P. Hen. Did I ever call for thee to pay thy part? FAL. No; I'll give thee thy due, thou hast paid all there.
P. Hen. Yea, and elsewhere, so far as my coin
4 And is not a BUFF JERKIN a most sweet robe of DURANCE ?] To understand the propriety of the Prince's answer, it must be remarked that the sheriff's officers were formerly clad in buff. So that when Falstaff asks, whether “ his hostess is not a sweet wench,” the Prince asks in return whether “ it will not be a sweet thing to go to prison by running in debt to this sweet wench."
JOHNSON The following passage from the old play of Ram-Alley, may serve to confirm Dr. Johnson's observation :
“ Look, I have certain goblins in buff jerkins,
[Enter Serjeants.” Again, in The Comedy of Errors, Act IV.:
"A devil in an everlasting garment hath him,
“A fellow all in buff.” Durance, however, might also have signified some lasting kind of stuff, such as we call at present, everlasting. So, in Westward Hoe, by Decker and Webster, 1607 : “Where did'st thou buy this buff? Let me not live but I will give thee a good suit of durance. Wilt thou take my bond ? " &c.
Again, in The Devil's Charter, 1607 : “ Varlet of velvet, my moccado villain, old heart of durance, my strip'd canvas shoulders, and my perpetuana pander.” Again, in The Three Ladies of London, 1584 : “ As the taylor that out of seven yards, stole one and a half of durance." STEEVENS.
Sir William Cornwallys in his Essayes says: “I would have a jest never served but once; when it is cold, the vigour and strength of it is gone. I refuse to wear buffe, for the lasting; and shall I be content to apparell my braine in durance?" Again, Sir John Davies, in his Epigrams:
Kate being pleas'd, wisht that her pleasure could
would stretch ; and, where it would not, I have used my credit.
FAL. Yea, and so used it, that were it not here apparent that thou art heir apparent,-But, I pr’ythee, sweet wag, shall there be gallows standing in England when thou art king? and resolution thus fobbed as it is, with the rusty curb of old father antick the law? Do not thou, when thou art king, hang a thief.
P. Hen. No: thou shalt.
FAL. Shall I ? O rare! By the Lord, I'll be a brave judge'.
P. Hen. Thou judgest false already; I mean, thou shalt have the hanging of the thieves, and so become a rare hangman.
Fal. Well, Hal, well; and in some sort it jumps with my humour, as well as waiting in the court, I can tell you.
P. Hen. For obtaining of suits © ?
FAL. Yea, for obtaining of suits: whereof the hangman hath no lean wardrobe. 'Sblood, I am as melancholy as a gib cat’, or a lugged bear.
I'll be a brave judge.] This thought, like many others, is taken from the old play of King Henry V.:
“ Hen. V. Ned, so soon as I am king, the first thing I will do shall be to put my lord chief justice out of office; and thou shalt be my lord chief justice of England.”
Ned, Shail I be lord chief justice? By gogs wounds, I'll be the bravest lord chief justice that ever was in England."
Steevens. 6 For obtaining of suits?] Suit, spoken of one that attends at court, means a petition ; used with respect to the hangman, means the clothes of the offender. Johnson. So, in an ancient Medley, bl. 1.: “ The broker hath
cloaths to sell “ Which from the hungman's budget fell.” Steevens. See vol. ix. p. 146, n. 7. The same quibble occurs in Hoffman's Tragedy, 1631: “A poor maiden, mistress, has a suit to you; and 'tis a good suit,- very good apparel.” MALONE.
a GIB CAT,] A gib cat means, I know not why, an old cat. JOHNSON.