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Bardolph, be blithe ;-Nym, rouse thy vaunting
Boy, bristle thy courage up; for Falstaff he is dead,
Bard. 'Would I were with him, wheresome'er he is, either in heaven, or in hell!
Quick. Nay, sure, he's not in hell; he's in Arthur's bosom, if ever man went to Arthur's bosom. 'A made a finer end', and went away, an it had been any christom child * ; 'a parted even just between
3 — FINER end,] For final. JOHNSON.
Every man that dies, makes a final end; but Mrs. Quickly means to describe Falstaff's behaviour at his exit, as uncommonly placid. “ He made a fine end,” is at this day a vulgar expression, when any person dies with resolution and devotion. So Ophelia says of her father : “ They say, he made a good end."
M. Mason. Again, in Macbeth:
They say, he parted well, and paid his score ;
“ And so God be with him!” Our author has elsewhere used the comparative for the positive. See Macbeth, vol. xi. p. 138, n. 7, Mrs. Quickly, however, needs no justification for not adhering to the rules of grammar.
What seems to militate against Dr. Johnson's interpretation is, that the word final, which he supposes to have been meant, is rather too learned for the Hostess. MALONE.
4 — an it had been any christom child;] The old quarto has it-“crisomb'd child."
“ The chrysom was no more than the white cloth put on the new baptised child.” See Johnson's Canons of Eccles. Law, 1720.
I have somewhere (but cannot recollect where) met with this further account of it; that the chrysom was allowed to be carried out of the church, to enwrap such children as were in too weak a condition to be borne thither; the chrysom being supposed to make every place holy. This custom would rather strengthen the allusion to the weak condition of Falstaff
. The child itself was sometimes called a chrysom, as appears from the following passage in The Fancies Chaste and Noble, 1638 : “— the boy surely I ever said was a very chrisome in the thing you wot." Again, in The Wits, by Sir W. D'Avenant, 1637:
and would'st not join thy halfpenny “ To send for milk for the poor chrysome.” Again, in Sir W. D'Avenant's Just Italian, 1630 :
twelve and one, e'en at turning o' the tide ': for after I saw him fumble with the sheetso, and play
and they do awe
“ The chrysome babe.” Again, and more appositely, in his Albovine, 1629 : “Sir, I would fain depart in quiet, like other young chrysomes.” Again, in Your Five Gallants, by Middleton : a fine old man to his father, it would kill his heart i' faith : he'd away like a chrysom."
Steevens. In the Liturgy, 2 E VI. Form of Private Baptism, is this direction : “ Then the minister shall put the white vesture, commonly called the chrysome, upon the child," &c. The Glossary of Du Cange, vide Chrismale, explains this ceremony thus : “ Quippe olim ut et hodie, baptizatorum, statim atque chrismate in fronte ungebantur, ne chrisma de flueret, capita panno candido obvolvebantur, qui octava demum die ab iis auferebatur." During the time therefore of their wearing this vesture, the children were, I suppose, called chrisomes. One is registered under this description in the register of Thatcham, Berks, 1605. (Hearne's Appendix to the History of Glastonbury, p. 275.) “A younge crisome being a man child, beinge found drowned,” &c. TYRWHITT.
The chrisom is properly explained as the white garment put upon the child at its baptism. And this the child wore till the time the mother came to be churched, who was then to offer it to the minister. So that, truly speaking, a chrisom child was one that died after it had been baptized, and before its mother was churched. Erroneously, however, it was used for children that die before they are baptized; and by this denomination such children were entered in the bills of mortality down to the year 1726. But have I not seen, in some edition, christom child ? If that reading were supported by any copy of authority, I should like it much. It agrees better with my dame's enunciation, who was not very likely to pronounce a hard word with propriety, and who just before had called Abraham-Arthur. Whalley.
Mr. Whalley is right in his conjecture. The first folio readschristom. Blount, in his Glossography, 1678, says, that chrisoms in the bills of mortality are such children as die within the month of birth, because during that time they use to wear the chrisomcloth. Malone.
$ - turning o' the tide :) It has been a very old opinion, which Mead, de imperio solis, quotes, as if he believed it, that nobody dies but in the time of ebb: half the deaths in London confute the notion ; but we find that it was common among the women of the poet's time. JOHNSON.
6 - fumble with the sheets,] This passage is burlesqued by Beaumont and Fletcher, in The Captain :
with flowers, and smile upon his finger's ends, I knew there was but one way’; for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and 'a babbled of green fields o.
“ 1. How does my master?
“1. Then there's no way but one with him."
“O piercing sight! he fumbleth in the mouth,
“ His speech doth fail." And Pliny, in his Chapter on The Signs of Death, makes mention of “a
fumbling and pleiting of the bed-cloths.” See P. Holland's translation, chap. li. So also, in The Ninth Booke of Notable Thinges, by Thomas Lupton, 4to. bl. I. : “ If the foreheade of the sicke waxe redde—and his nose waxe sharpe--if he pull strawes, or the cloathes of his bedde--these are most certain tokens of death." STEEVENS.
There is this expression, and not, I believe, designed as a sneer on Shakspeare, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Spanish Curate, Act IV. Sc. V.:
“ A glimmering before death, 'tis nothing else, sir ;
“Do you see how he fumbles with the sheets?” WHALLEY. The same indication of approaching death is enumerated by Celsus, Lommius, Hippocrates, and Galen. The testimony of the latter is sufficient to show that such a symptom is by no means imaginary: “ Manus ante faciem attollere, muscas quasi venari inani operâ, Aoccos carpere de vestibus, vel pariete. Et in seipso hoc expertus fuit Galenus. Quum enim," &c.
Van Swieten Comm. tom. ii. sect. 708. COLLINS.
7 I knew there was but one way;] I believe this phrase is proverbial. I meet with it again in If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody, 1613 :
“ I heard the doctors whisper it in secret,
“ There is no way but one." Again, in The Life and Death of Gamaliel Ratsey, 1605 : “But now the courtier is in huckster's handling, there is no way with him but one, for Ratsey seizes both on his money and books." Again, in P. Holland's translation of the 13th book of Pliny's Natural History: “The leafe also is venomous as the graine, yet otherwhiles there ensueth thereof a fluse and gurrie of the belly, which saveth their life, or else there were no way
but one.” Steevens.
and 'a Babbled of green fields.] The old copy [i. e. the
How now, sir John ? quoth I: what, man! be of good cheer.
So 'a cried out-God, God, God!
first folio,] reads "for his nose was as sharp as a pen, and a table of green fields." Steevens.
These words, “ and a table of green fields,” are not to be found in the old editions of 1600 and 1608. This nonsense got into all the following editions by a pleasant mistake of the stage editors, who printed from the common piece-meal written parts in the play-house. A table was here directed to be brought in, (it being a scene in a tavern where they drink at parting,) and this direction crept into the text from the margin. Greenfield was the name of the property-man in that time, who furnished implements, &c. for the actors, A table of Greenfield's. Pope.
So reasonable an account of this blunder, Mr. Theobald could not acquiesce in. He thought a table of Greenfield's, part of the text, only corrupted, and that it should be read, “he babbled of green fields," because men do so in the ravings of a calenture. But he did not consider how ill this agrees with the nature of the knight's illness, who was now in no babbling humour; and so far from wanting cooling in green fields, that his feet were very cold, and he just expiring. WARBURTON.
Upon this passage Mr. Theobald has a note that fills a page, which I omit in pity to my readers, since he only endeavours to prove what I think every reader perceives to be true, that at this time no table could be wanted. Mr. Pope, in an appendix to his own edition in 12mo. seems to admit Theobald's emendation, which we would have allowed to be uncommonly happy, had we not been prejudiced against it by Mr. Pope's first note, with which, as it excites merriment, we are loath to part. JOHNSON.
Had the former editors been apprized, that table, in our author, signifies a pocket-book, I believe they would have retained it with the following alteration :-"for his nose was as sharp as a pen upon a table of
fells.' -On table-books, silver or steel pens, very'sharp-pointed, were formerly and still are fixed to the backs or covers. Mother Quickly compares Falstaff's nose (which in dying persons grows thin and sharp) to one of those pens, very properly, and she meant probably to have said, on a table-book with a shagreen cover or shagreen table; but, in her usual blundering way, she calls it a table of green fells, or a table covered with green skin; which the blundering transcriber turned into green fields; and our editors have turned the prettiest blunder in Shakspeare, quite out of doors. Smith.
Dr. Warburton objects to Theobald's emendation, on the ground of the nature of Falstaff's illness ; “who was so far from babbling, or wanting cooling in green fields, that his feet were three or four times : now I, to comfort him, bid him, 'a should not think of God'; I hoped, there was no need to trouble himself with any such thoughts yet : So, 'a bade me lay more clothes on his feet: I put my hand into the bed, and felt them, and they were as cold as any stone; then I felt to his knees, and so upward, and upward, and all was as cold as any stone'.
cold, and he was just expiring.” But his disorder had been a “ burning quotidian tertian.", It is, I think, a much stronger objection, that the word Table, with a capital letter, (for so it appears in the old copy,) is very unlikely to have been printed instead of babbled. This reading is, however, preferable to any that has been yet proposed.
On this difficult passage I had once a conjecture. It was, that the word table is right, and that the corrupted word is and, which may have been misprinted for in; a mistake that has happened elsewhere in these plays : and thus the passage will run—" and his nose was as sharp as a pen in a table of green fields.” A pen may have been used for a pinfold, and a table for a picture. See vol. x. p. 315, n. 7.
The pointed stakes of which pinfolds are sometimes formed, were perhaps in the poet's thoughts. MALONE.
It has been observed (particularly by the superstition of women) of people near death, when they are delirious by a fever, that they talk of removing; as it has of those in a calenture, that they have their heads run on green fields. TheoBALD.
now I, to comfort him, bid him, 'a should not think of God; &c.] Perhaps Shakspeare was indebted to the following story in Wits, Fits, and Fancies, &c. 1595, for this very characteristick exhortation : “A gentlewoman fearing to be drowned, said, now Jesu receive our soules ! Soft, mistress, answered the waterman; I trow, we are not come to that passe yet.” MALONE.
Our author might as probably have been indebted to a passage in the Continuation of Harding's Chronicle, 1543, relative to the death of Lord Hastings : “ This Sir Thomas (Howard) while the Lord Hastings stayed a while commonyng with a priest whom he met in the Tower' strete, brake the lordes tale, saying to him merily,--what my lorde, I pray you come on ; wherefore talke you so long with the priest? You have no nede of a priest yet."
STEEVENS. cold as any stone.] Such is the end of Falstaff, from whom Shakspeare' had promised us, in his epilogue to King Henry IV. that we should receive more entertainment. It hap