Page images


Gads. What, ho! chamberlain !
Cham. [Within.] At hand, quoth pick-purse *.

Gads. That's even as fair as--at hand, quoth the chamberlain: for thou variest no more from picking, of purses, than giving direction doth from labouring; thou lay'st the plot how 5.

Enter CHAMBERLAIN, CHAM. Good morrow, master Gadshill. It holds current, that I told you yesternight : There's a franklino in the wild of Kent, hath brought three

• At hand, quoth pick-purse.] This is a proverbial expression often used by Green, Nashe, and other writers of the time, in whose works the cant of low conversation is preserved. Again, in the play of Apius and Virginia, 1575, Haphazard, the vice, says:

At hand, quoth pick purse, here redy am I,

See well to the cutpurse, be ruled by me." Again, as Mr. Malone observes, in The Duchess of Suffolk, by Tho. Drue, (but hitherto ascribed to Heywood,) 1631 : “ At hand, quoth pickpurse—have you any work for a tyler ?”

Steevens. This proverbial saying probably arose from the pick-purse always seizing upon the prey nearest him. Malone.

s That's even as fair as-at hand, quoth the chamberlain : for thou variest no more, &c.] So, in The Life and Death of Gamaliel Ratsey, 1605 : “ he dealt with the chamberlaine of the house to learne which way they rode in the morning, which the chamberlaine performed accordingly, and that with great care and diligence, for he knew he should partake of their fortunes, if they sped." STEEVENS.

-franklin —] Is a little gentleman. Johnson. Dr. Johnson has said more accurately in a note on Cymbeline, that a franklin is a freeholder with a small estate." MALONE.

Fortescue, says the editor of The Canterbury Tales, vol. iv. p. 202, (de L. L. Ang. c. xxix.) describes a franklain to be pater familias-magnis ditatus possessionibus. He is classed with, but after, the miles and armiger; and is distinguished from the Libere tenentes and valecti ; though, as it should seem, the only real distinction between him and other freeholders, consisted in the largeness of his estate. Spelman, in voce Franklein, quotes the following passage from Trivet's French Chronicle, MSS. Bibl, R. S, n. 56. * Thomas de Brotherton filius Edwardi I. marescallus Angliæ, apres la mort de son pere esposa la fille de


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

hundred marks with him in gold: I heard him tell
it to one of his company, last night at supper ; a
kind of auditor ; one that hath abundance of charge
too, God knows what. They are up already, and
call for eggs and butter?: They will away pre-

Gads. Sirrah, if they meet not with saint Ni-
cholas' clerks, I'll give thee this neck.

Cham. No, I'll none of it: I pr’ythee, keep that for the hangman; for, I know, thou worship’st saint Nicholas as truly as a man of falsehood may.

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


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

un Francheleyn apelee Alice." The historian did not think it
worth his while even to mention the name of the Frankelein.

ៗ and call for eggs and butter :) It appears from The
Household Book of the Fifth Earl of Northumberland, that but-
ter'd eggs was the usual breakfast of my lord and lady, during
the season of Lent. STEEVENS,

saint Nicholas' clerks,] St. Nicholas was the patron
saint of scholars; and Nicholas, or old Nick, is a cant name for
the devil. Hence he equivocally calls robbers, St. Nicholas'
clerks. WARBURTON.

Highwaymen or robhers were so called, or Saint Nicholas's
knights :
“ A mandrake


under some heavy tree,
“There where Saint Nicholas knights not long before
“ Had dropt their fat axungia to the lee."

Glareanus Vadeanus's Panegyrick upon Tom Coryat.
Again, in Rowley's Match at Midnight, 1633 : " I think yon-
der comes prancing down the hills from Kingston, a couple of
St. Nicholas's clerks.Again, in A Christian Turn'd Turk, 1612:

We are prevented;
St. Nicholas's clerks are stepp'd up before us.”
Again, in The Hollander, a comedy by Glapthorne, 1640 :
" Next it is decreed, that the receivers of our rents and customs,
to wit, divers rooks, and St. Nicholas clerks, &c.—under pain of
being carried up Holborn in a cart,” &c. Steevens.

This expression probably took its rise from the parish clerks of
London, who were incorporated into a fraternity or guild, with
St. Nicholas for their patron. WHALLEY.

See vol. iv. p. 82, n. 2, where an account is given of the origin
of this expression as applied to scholars. Malone,


Gads. What talkest thou to me of the hangman? if I hang, I'll make a fat pair of gallows : for, if I hang, old sir John hangs with me; and, thou knowest, he's no starveling. Tut! there are other Trojanso that thou dreamest not of, the which, for sport sake, are content to do the profession some grace; that would, if matters should be looked into, for their own credit sake, make all whole. I am joined with no foot land-rakers’, no long-staff

, sixpenny strikers?; none of these mad, mustachio

9 - other TROJANS —] So, in Love's Labour's Lost : “ Hector was but a Trojan in respect of this." Trojan in both these instances had a cant signification, and perhaps was only a more creditable term for a thief. So, again, in Love's Labour's Lost: “- unless you play the honest Trojan, the poor wench is cast away.” Steevens.

· I am joined with no foot LAND-RAKERS, &c.] That is, with no padders, no wanderers on foot. No: long-staff six-penny, strikers,'-no fellows that infest the road with long-staffis, and knock men down for six-pence. * None of these mad mustachio, purple-hued malt-worms,' -none of those whose faces are red with drinking ale. JOHNSON.

2 - six-penny strikers;] A striker had some cant signification with which at present we are not exactly acquainted. It is used in several of the old plays. I rather believe in this place,

no six-penny striker' signifies, 'not one who would content himself to borrow, i. e. rob you for the sake of six-pence' That to borrow was the cant phrase for to steal, is well known; and that to strike likewise signified to borrow, let the following passage in Shirley's Gentleman of Venice confirm :

Cor. You had best assault me too.
Mal. I must borrow money,

And that some call a striking," &c. Again, in Glapthorne's Hollander, 1640 :

The only shape to hide a striker in." Again, in an old MS. play entitled, The Second Maiden's Tragedy:

- one that robs the mind,
Twenty times worse than any highway striker."

In Greene's Art of Coneycatching, 1592, under the table of
Cant Expressions used by Thieves: “ — the cutting a pocket or
picking a purse, is called striking.” Again : "— who taking a


purple-hued malt-worms': but with nobility and tranquillity; burgomasters, and great oneyers * ; such

ther ther . for

ome Ento

, am six



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

proper youth to be his prentice, to teach him the order of striking and foisting." Collins.

See also, The London Prodigal, 1605 : "Nay, now I have had such a fortunate beginning, I'll not let a si.t-penny purse escape me." Malone.

- malt-worms :) This cant term for a tippler I find in The Life and Death of Jack Straw, 1593 : “ You shall purchase the prayers of all the alewives in town, for saving a malt-worm and a customer.” Again, in Gammer Gurton's Needle. STEEVENS.

- burgomasters, and great OneYERS ;] Perhaps, oneraires, trustees, or commissioners ;” says Mr. Pope. But how this word comes to admit of any such construction, I am at a loss to know. To Mr. Pope's second conjecture, "of cunning men that look sharp, and aim well," I have nothing to reply seriously: but choose to drop it. The reading which I have substituted [moneyers] I owe to the friendship of the ingenious Nicholas Hardinge, Esq. A moneyer is an officer of the Mint, who makes coin, and delivers out the king's money. Moneyers are also taken for bankers, or those that make it their trade to turn and return money. Either of these acceptations will admirably square with our author's context. Theobald.

This is a very acute and judicious attempt at emendation, and is not undeservedly adopted by Dr. Warburton. Sir Thomas Hanmer reads great owners, not without equal or greater likelihood of truth. I know not however whether any change is necessary : Gadshill tells the Chamberlain, that he is joined with no mean wretches, but “ with burgomasters and great ones," or, as he terms them in merriment by a cant termination, great oneyers, or great-one-éers, as we say, privateer, auctioneer, circuileer. This is, I fancy, the whole of the matter. JOHNSON.

By moneyers he means mint-men, in which sense it is used by
Chaucer, Romaunt of the Rose, 6811:

“ But se what golde han usurers
" And silver eke in their

* Talagiers, and these moniours.
Moniers, [Monetarii] Regist. orig. fol. 262, 6, Anno
Edw. VI. cap. 15. be monisters of the mint which make and coin the
king's money. It appeareth from antiquity, that in ancient times
our kings of England had mints in most of the counties of the
realm. And in the tract of the Exchequer written by Ocham, is
found, that whereas the sheriffes ordinarily were tied to pay into the
Exchequer the kings sterling for such debts as they were to
answer, they of Northumberland and Cumberland were at liberty
to pay in any sort of money, so it were silver; and the reason is
there given, because these two shires monetarios de antiquú

[merged small][ocr errors]

as can hold in; such as will strike sooner than
speak, and speak sooner than drink, and drink
sooner than pray: : And yet I lie; for they pray

[ocr errors][merged small]

institutione non habent." Minsheu's Guide into Tongues,
col. 473. Grey,

Mr. Hardinge's conjecture may be supported by an ancient
authority, and is probably right: there is a house upon Page
Greene, next unto the round tuft of trees, sometime in the tenure
and occupation of Simon Bolton, Monyer ; " i. e. probably
banker. Description of Tottenham High-Cross, 1631. Reed.

Perhaps Shakspeare wrote-onyers, that is, publick accountants ; men possessed of large sums of money belonging to the states-It is the course of the Court of Exchequer, when the sheriff makes up his accounts for issues, amerciaments, and mesne profits, to set upon his head o. ni. which denotes oneratur, nisi habeat sufficientem exonerationem: he thereupon becomes the king's debtor, and the parties peravaile (as they are termed in law) for whom he answers, become his debtors, and are discharged as with respect to the King.

To settle accounts in this manner, is still called in the Exchequer, to ony ; and from hence Shakspeare perhaps formed the word onyers.-- The Chamberlain had a little before mentioned, among the travellers whom he thought worth plundering, an officer of the Exchequer, a kind of auditor, one that hath abundance of charge too, God knows what." This emendation may derive some support from what Gadshill says in the next scene : There's money of the king's coming down the hill; 'tis going to the king's Exchequer." The first quarto has--oneyres, which the second and all the subsequent copies made oneyers. The original reading gives great probability to Hanmer's conjecture. Malone.

Sir David Dalrymple from the word burgomasters preceding, suggested mynheers. Mr. Capell has the same conjecture; but I think Mr. Hardinge's the most probable. Yet still there is a difficulty; for he is speaking of his companions, not those whom he means to plunder. Boswell.

such as can HOLD IN; such as will strike sooner than speak, and speak sooner than DRINK, and DRINK, &c.] According to the specimen given us in this play, of this dissolute gang, we have no reason to think they were less ready to drink than speak. Besides, it is plain, a natural gradation was here intended to be given of their actions, relative to one another. But what has speaking, drinking, and praying, to do with one another? We should certainly read think in both places instead of drink; and then we have a very regular and humorous climax. * They will strike sooner than speak ; and speak sooner than think ; and think

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »