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-Sweet knight, thou art now one of the greatest men in the realm.
Sil. By'r lady, I think 'a be; but goodman Puff of Barson.
Fal. I prythee now, deliver them like a man of this world.
Pist. A foutra for the world, and worldlings base! I speak of Africa, and golden joys.
Fal. O base Assyrian knight, what is thy news? Let king Cophetua know the truth thereof.
Sil. And Robin Hood, Scarlet, and John.2 (Sings.
but goodman Puff of Barson.) A little before, William Visor of Woncot is mentioned. Woodmancot and Barton (says Mr. Edwards's MSS.) which I suppose are these two places, and are represented to be in the neighbourhood of Justice Shallow, are both of them in Berkeley hundred in Glostershire. This, I imagine, was done to disguise the satire å little; for Sir Thomas Lucy, who, by the coat of arms he bears, must be the real Jus. tice Shallow, lived at Charlecot, near Stratford, in Warwickshire.
Steevens. Barston is a village in Warwickshire, lying between Coventry and Solyhull. Percy.
Mr. Tollet has the same observation, and adds that Woncot may be put for Wolphmancote, vulgarly Ovencote, in the same county. Shakspeare might be unwilling to disguise the satire too much, and therefore mentioned places within the jurisdiction of Sir Thomas Lucy. Steevens.
Mr. Warton, in a note on The Taming of the Shrew, says, that Wilnecote, (or Wincot) is a village in Warwickshire, near Stratford. I suppose, therefore, in a former scene, we should read Wincot instead of Woncot. Malone.
1 Let king Cophetua &c.] Lines taken from an old bombast play of King Cophetua ; of whom we learn from Shakspeare, there were ballads too. Warburton.
This is mere conjecture, for no such play is extant. From a passage in King Richard II, it may indeed be surmized that there was such a piece. See Love's Labour 's Lost, Vol. IV, p. 58, n. 8. Fohnson.
Scarlet, and John.] This scrap (as Dr. Percy has observed in the first Volume of his Reliques of Ancient English
Pist. Shall dunghill curs confront the Helicons?
Shal. Honest gentleman, I know not your breeding.
Shal. Give me pardon, sir;-If, sir, you come with news from the court, I take it, there is but two ways; either to utter them, or to conceal them. I am, sir, under the king, in some authority.
Pist. Under which king, Bezonian?5 speak, or die.
Harry the fourth? or fifth?
A foutra for thine office!
Poetry) is taken from a stanza in the old ballad of Robin Hood and the Pindar of Wakefield. Steevens. in Furies' lap.) Should not we read ?-in Fury's lap.
Ritson. 4 Why then, lament therefore.] This was perhaps intended to be ridiculed by Ben Jonson, in his Poetaster, 1602:
“Why then, lament therefore. Damn'd be thy guts
“ Unto king Pluto's hel].” He might, however, have meant nothing more than to quote a popular play. Malone.
Bezonian?] So again, Suffolk says, in The Second Part of Henry VI:
« Great men oft die by vile Bezonians." It is a term of reproach, frequent in the writers contemporary with our poet. Bisognoso, a needy person; thence metaphori. cally, a base scoundrel. Theobald.
Nash, in Pierce Pennylesse his Supplication &c. 1595, says: “ Proud lordes do tumble from the towers of their high descents and be trod under feet of every inferior Besonian."
In The Widow's Tears, a comedy, by Chapman, 1612, the primitive word is used:
spurn'd out by grooms, like a base Besogno .!” And again, in Sir. Giles Goosecap, a comedy, 1606: “ if he come like to your Besogno, your boor, so he be rich, they care Steevens.
like The bragging Spaniard.] To fig, in Spanish, higas day, is to
Fal. What! is the old king dead?
Fal. Away, Bardolph; saddle my horse.—Master Robert Shallow, choose what office thou wilt in the land, 'tis thine.- Pistol, I will double-charge thee with dignities.
Bard. O joyful day!- I would not take a knighthood for my fortune.
Pist. What? I do bring good news?
Fal. Carry master Silence to bed.-Master Shallow, my lord Shallow, be what thou wilt, I am fortune's stew. ard. Get on thy boots; we 'll ride all night:-1, sweet Pistol :-Away, Bardolph. [exit BARD.)-Come, Pistol, utter more to me; and, withal, devise something, to do thyself good.-Boot, boot, master Shallow; I know, the young king is sick for me. Let us take any man's horses; the laws of England are at my commandment. Happy are they which have been my friends; and woe to my lord chief justice!
Pist. Let vultures vile seize on his lungs also!
insult by putting the thumb between the fore and middle finger. From this Spanish custom we yet say in contempt, “a fig for you.” Johnson.
So, in The Shepherd's Slumber, a song published in England's Helicon, 1600:
“ With scowling browes their follies checke,
“ And so give them the fig;" &c. See my note on Romeo and Juliet, Act I, sc. i. Steevens.
Dr. Johnson has properly explained this phrase; but it should be added that it is of Italian origin. When the Milanese revolted against the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, they placed the empress his wife upon a mule with her head towards the tail, and ignominiously expelled her their city. Frederick afterwards be. sieged and took the place, and compelled every one of his prisoners on pain of death to take with his teeth a fig from the pog. teriors of a mule. The party was at the same time obliged to re. peat to the executioner the words “ecco la fica.” From this cir. cumstance “ far la fica” became a term of derision, and was adopted by other nations. The French say likewise “faire la figue.” Douce. 7 Fal. What is the old king dead?
Pist. As nail in door:] This proverbial expression is oftener used than understood. The door nail is the nail on which in ancient doors the knocker strikes. It is therefore used as a comparison to any one irrecoverably dead, one who has fallen (as Virgil says multâ morte, i. e. with abundant death, such as reiteration of strokes on the head would naturally produce. Steevens.
Where is the life that late I led, say they: 8
(Exeunt SCENE IV.
London. Street. Enter Beadles, dragging in Hostess Quickly, and Doll
Tear-sheet." Host. No, thou arrant knave; I would I might die, that I might have thee hanged: thou hast drawn my shoulder out of joint.
1 Bead. The constables have delivered her over to me; and she shall have whipping-cheer? enough, I warrant her: There hath been a man or two lately killed about her.
Dol. Nut-hook, nut-hook, 3 you lie. Come on; I 'll
8 Where is the life that late I led, &c.] Words of an old ballad.
Warburton. The same bas been already introduced in The Taming of the Shrew. Steevens.
Welcome these pleasant days.] Perhaps, (as sir Thomas Hanmer suggests,) the poet concluded this scene with a rhyming couplet, and therefore wrote:
Welcome this pleasant day. Steevens. | Enter Beadles, &c.] This stage-direction, in the quarto edit. of 1600, stands thus: “ Enter Sincklo, and three or four Officers." And the name of Sincklo is prefixed to those speeches, which in the later editions are given to the Beadle. This is an additional proof that Sincklo was the name of one of the players. See the note on The Taming of the Shrew, Act I, sc. i. Tyrwhitt.
whipping-cheer - ) So, in Thomas Newton's Herball to the Bible, 8vo. 1587: “-in wedlocke all pensive sullenes and bowring-cheer ought to be utterly excluded,” &c. Again, in an ancient bl. 1. ballad, intitled O, yes, &c.
“ And if he chance to scape the rope,
“He shall have whipping-cheer.” Steevens. 3 Nut-hook, &c.] It has been already observed, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, that nut-hook seems to have been in those times a name of reproach for a catchpoll. Fohnson.
A nut-hook was, I believe, a person who stole linen, &c. out at windows, by means of a pole with a hook at the end of it. Greene, in his Arte of Coney-catching, has given a very particular account of this kind of fraud; so that nut-hook was probably as common a term of reproach as rogue is at present. In an old comedy intitled Match me in London, 1631, I find the following passage:
tell thee what, thou damned tripe-visaged rascal; an the child I now go with, do miscarry, thou hadst better thou hadst struck thy mother, thou paper-faced villain.
Host. O the Lord, that sir John were come! he would make this a bloody day to somebody. But I pray God the fruit of her womb miscarry!
1 Bead. If it do, you shall have a dozen of cushions again; you have but eleven now. Come, I charge you both
go with me; for the man is dead, that you and Pistol beat among you.
Dol. I'll tell thee what, thou thin man in a censer!5
* She's the king's nut-hook, that when any filbert is ripe, pulls down the bravest boughs to his hand."
Again, in The Three Ladies of London, 1584: “To go a fishing with a cranke through a window, or to set lime-twigs to catch a pan, pot, or dish." Again, in Albumazar, 1615:
“picking of locks and hooking cloaths out of window." Again, in The Few of Malta, by Marlowe, 1633:
“ I saw some bags of money, and in the night
“I clamber'd up with my hooks." Hence perhaps the phrase By hook or by crook, which is as old as the time of Tusser and Spenser. The first uses it in his Husbandry for the month of March, the second in the third Book of his Fairy Queen. In the first volume of Holinshed's Chronicle, p. 183, the reader may find the cant titles bestowed by the vagabonds of that age on one another, among which are hookers, or anglers; and Decker, in The Bell-man of London, 5th edit. 1640, describes this species of robbery in particular. Steevens.
See a former scene of this play, p. 67, n. 6. Malone.
4- a dozen of cushions - ] That is, to stuff her out that she might counterfeit pregnancy. So, in Massinger's Old Law: “I said I was with child, &c. Thou said'st it was a cushion," &c.
Again, in Greene's Disputation between a He Coneycatcher, &c. 1592: “to wear a cushion under her own kirtle, and to faine her. self with child.” Steevens.
thou thin man in a censer!] These old censers of thin metal had generally at the bottom the figure of some saint raised up with a hammer, in a barbarous kind of imbossed or chased work. The hunger-starved beadle is compared, in substance, to one of these thin raised figures, by the same kind of humour that Pistol, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, calls Slender a latten bilboe. Warburton.
Dr. Warburton's explanation is erroneous. The embossed figure to which Doll refers, was in the middle of the pierced con. vex lid of the censèr; and not at the bottom, where it must have been out of sight.