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What a Herod of Jewry is this?—O wicked, wicked world!-one that is well nigh worn to pieces with age, to fhow himself a young gallant! What an unweigh'd behaviour hath this Flemifh drunkard pick'd (with the devil's name) out of my converfation, that he dares in this manner affay me? Why, he hath not been thrice in my company! What fhould I fay to him?-I was then frugal of my mirth: heaven forgive me!-Why, I'll exhibit a bill in the parliament for the putting down of men.' How fhall I be revenged on him? for re


Loud and fill, was another phrafe of the fame meaning.



What an unweigh'd behaviour, &c.] Thus the folio 1623. It has been fuggefted to me, that we should read—one. STEEVENS. -Flemish drunkard-] It is not without reafon that this term of reproach is here ufed. Sir John Smythe in Certain Difcourfes, &c. 4to. 1590, fays, that the habit of drinking to excefs was introdured into England from the Low Countries by fome of our fuch men of warre within these very few years: whereof it is come to paffe that now-a-dayes there are very fewe feastes where our said men of warre are prefent, but that they do invite and procure all the companie, of what calling foever they be, to carowfing and quaffing; and, because they will not be denied their challenges, they, with many new conges, ceremonies, and reverences, drinke to the health and profperitie of princes; to the health of counsellors, and unto the health of their greatest friends both at home and abroad: in which exercife they never cease till they be dead drunke, as the Flemings fay, Doot dronken." He adds, And this aforefaid deteftable vice hath within thefe fixe or feven yeares taken wonderful roote amongeft our English Nation, that in times past was wont to be of all other nations of Chriftendome one of the fobereft." REED.


I was then frugal of my mirth :] By breaking this speech into exclamations, the text may ftand; but I once thought it must be read, If I was not then frugal of my mirth, &c. JOHNSON. 7 for the putting down of men.] The word which feems to have been inadvertently omitted in the folio, was restored by Mr. Theobald from the quarto, where the correfponding speech runs thus: "Well, I fhall truft fat men the worfe, while I live, for his fake. O God; that I knew how to be revenged of him!" Dr. Johnson, however, thinks that the infertion is unneceffary,


venged I will be, as fure as his guts are made of puddings.

Enter mifirefs FORD.

MRS. FORD. Mifrefs Page! truft me, I was going to your house.

MRS. PAGE. And, truft me, I was coming to
You look very ill.


as Mrs. Page might naturally enough, in the first heat of her anger, rail at the fex for the fault of one." But the authority of the original sketch in quarto, and Mrs. Page's frequent mention of the fize of her lover in the play as it now ftands, in my opinion fully warrant the correction that has been made. Our author well knew that bills are brought into parliament for fome purpose that at least appears practicable. Mrs. Page therefore in her paffion might exhibit a bill for the putting down or destroying men of a particular defcription; but Shakspeare would never have made her threaten to introduce a bill to effect an impossibility; viz. the extermination of the whole fpecies.

There is no error more frequent at the prefs than the omiffion of words. In a fheet of this work now before me, [Mr. Malone means in his own edition] there was an out, (as it is termed in the printing-houfe,) that is, a paffage omitted, of no lefs than ten lines. In every fheet fome words are at firft omitted.

The expreffion, putting down, is a common phrase of our muni, cipal law. MALONE.

I believe this paffage has hitherto been mifunderstood, and therefore continue to read with the folio, which omits the epithet fat.

The putting down of men, may only fignify the humiliation of them, the bringing them to shame. So, in Twelfth Night, Malvolio fays of the clown" I faw him, the other day, put down by an ordinary fool;" i. c. confounded. Again, in Love's Labour's LoftHow the ladies and I have put him down!" Again, in Much ado about Nothing" You have put him down, lady, you have put him down."

I cannot help thinking that the extermination of all men would be as practicable a defign of parliament, as the putting down of those whofe only offence was embonpoint.

I perfift in this opinion, even though I have before me (in fupport of Mr. Malone's argument) the famous print from P. Brueghel, representing the Lean Cooks expelling the Fat one. STEEVENS.

MRS, FORD. Nay, I'll ne'er believe that; I have to fhow to the contrary,

MRS. PAGE. 'Faith, but you do, in my mind,

MRS. FORD. Well, I do then; yet, I fay, I could show you to the contrary: O, miftrefs Page, give me fome counfel!

MRS. PAGE. What's the matter, woman?

MRS. FORD. O woman, if it were not for one trifling refpect, I could come to fuch honour!

MRS. PAGE. Hang the trifle, woman; take the honour: What is it?-difpenfe with trifles;what is it?

MRS. FORD. If I would but go to hell for an eternal moment, or fo, I could be knighted.

MRS. PAGE. What?-thou lieft!-Sir Alice Ford! Thefe knights will hack; and fo thou fhouldft not alter the article of thy gentry.

8 What?-thou lieft!-Sir Alice Ford! These knights will hack; and fo thou shouldft not alter the article of thy gentry.] I read thusThefe knights we'll hack, and fo thou shouldft not alter the article of thy gentry. The punishment of a recreant, or undeferving knight, was to hack off his fpurs: the meaning therefore is; it is not worth the while of a gentlewoman to be made a knight, for we'll degrade all these knights in a little time, by the ufual form of hacking off their spurs, and thou, if thou art knighted, fhalt be hacked with the rest. JOHNSON.

Sir T. Hanmer fays, to hack, means to turn hackney, or proftie tute. suppose he means-Thefe knights will degrade themselves, fo that he will acquire no honour by being connected with them.

It is not, however, impoffible that Shakspeare meant by thefe knights will hack-thefe knights will foon become hackney'd characters.--So many knights were made about the time this play was amplified (for the paffage is neither in the copy 1602, nor 1619) that such a stroke of fatire might not have been unjustly thrown in. In Hans Beer Pot's Invifible Comedy, 1618, is a long piece of ridicule on the fame occurrence:

"Twas ftrange to fee what knighthood once would do:
Stir great men up to lead a martial life-

MRS. FORD. We burn day-light :^—here, read, read;-perceive how I might be knighted.-I shall think the worse of fat men, as long as I have an


To gain this honour and this dignity.. "But now, alas! 'tis grown ridiculous,

"Since bought with money, fold for basest prize,

"That fome refufe it who are counted wife." STEEVENS. Thefe knights will hack (that is, become cheap or vulgar,) and therefore fhe advifes her friend not to fully her gentry by becoming The whole of this discourse about knighthood is added fince the first edition of this play [in 1602]; and therefore I fufpe& this is an oblique reflection on the prodigality of James I. in beftowing these honours, and erecting in 1611 a new order of knighthood, called Baronets; which few of the ancient gentry would condefcend to accept. See Sir Hugh Spelman's epigram on them, Gio. p. 76, which ends thus:


-dum cauponare recufant

"Ex vera geniti nobilitate viri;

"Interea e caulis hic prorepit, ille tabernis,

"Et modo fit dominus, qui modo fervus erat.” See another ftroke at them in Othello, A& III. fc. iv.



Sir W. Blackstone fuppofes that the order of Baronets (created in 1611) was likewife alluded to. But it appears to me highly probable that our author amplified the play before us at an earlier period. See An Attempt to afcertain the order of Shakspeare's plays, Vol. II. Article, Merry Wives of Windfor.

Between the time of King James's arrival at Berwick in April 1603, and the 2d of May, he made two hundred and thirty-feven knights; and in the July following between three and four hundred. It is probable that the play before us was enlarged in that or the fubfequent year, when this ftroke of fatire muft have been highly relished by the audience. MALONE.

We burn day-light:] i. e. we have more proof than we want, The fame proverbial phrafe occurs in The Spanish Tragedy: "Hier. Light me your torches."

"Pedro. Then we burn day-light."

Again, in Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio ufes the fame expreffion, and then explains it:

"We waste our lights in vain like lamps by day."


I think, the meaning rather is, we are wafting time in idle talk, when we ought to read the letter; refembling those who waste candles by burning them in the day-time. MALONE.

eye to make difference of men's liking: And yet he would not fwear; prais'd women's modefly: and gave fuch orderly and well-behaved reproof to all uncomelinefs, that I would have fworn his dif pofition would have gone to the truth of his words: but they do no more adhere, and keep place together, than the hundredth pfalm to the tune of Green fleeves. What tempeft, I trow, threw this whale, with so many tuns of oil in his belly, ashore at Windfor? How fhall I be revenged on him? I think, the best way were to entertain him with hope, till the wicked fire of luft have melted him.

2 men's liking:] i. e. men's condition of body. Thus in the Book of Job. "Their young ones are in good liking." Falftaff alfo, in King Henry IV. fays-"I'll repent while I am in fome liking." STEEVENS.

3 -Green fleeves.] This fong was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company in September 1580: "Licensed unto Richard Jones, a newe northerne dittye of the lady Green Steeves.” Again, Licenfed unto Edward White, a ballad, beinge the Lady Greene Sleeves, anfwered to Jenkyn hir friend." Again, in the fame month and year: "Green Sleeves moralized to the Scripture," &c. Again, to Edward White:

"Green Sleeves and countenaunce.

"In countenaunce is Green Sleeves."

Again, "A new Northern Song of Green Sleeves, beginning, "The bonnieft lafs in all the land."

Again, in February 1580: "A reprehenfion against Greene Sleeves, by W. Elderton." From a paffage in The Loyal Subject, by Beaumont and Fletcher, it should seem that the original was a wanton ditty:

"And fet our credits to the tune of Greene Sleeves."

But whatever the ballad was, it feems to have been very popular, Auguft 1581, was entered at Stationers' Hall, "A new ballad,


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"Greene Sleeves is worn away,

"Yellow fleeves come to decaie,

Black fleeves I hold in despite,

"But white fleeves is my delight."

Mention of the fame tune is made again in the fourth act of this


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