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MERRY W I V ES
W I N D's
I DS O R.
ACT I.' SCENE 1.
Windsor. Before Page's House.
Enter Justice SHALLOW, SLENDER, and Sir HUCH
SHAL. Sir Hugh', persuade me not; I will make a Star-chamber matter of it: ' if he were twenty
? Sir Hugh, ] This is the first, of sundry instances in our poet, where a parfon is called fir. Upon which it may be observed, that anciently it was the common designation both of one in holy orders and a knight. Fuller, somewhere in his Church History says, that anciently there were in England more fors than knights ; and so lately as temp. W. & Mar. in a deposition in the Exchequer in a case of tythes, the witness speaking of the curate, whom he remembered, styles. him, fir Giles. Vide Gibson's View of the State of the Churches of Door, Home-Lacy. &c. p. 36.
SIR J. HAWKINS. Sir is the designation of a Bachelor of Arts in the Universities of Cambridge and Dublin; but is there always annexed to the surname ;--Sir Evans, &c. In consequence, however of this, all the inferior Clergy in England were distinguished by this title afhxed to their christian name for many centuries. Hence our author's Sir Hugh in the present play,—Sir Topas in Twelfth Night, Sir Oliver in As you like it, lic. MALONE.
fir John Falstaffs, he shall not abuse Robert Shal-
Slen. In the county of Glofter, juslice of peace,
SHAL. Ay, cousin Slender, and Cust-alorum."
Sir seems to have been a title formerly appropriated to such of the inferior clergy as were only Readers of the service, and not adıniited to be preachers, and therefore were held in the lowest eftimation; as appears from a remarkable passage in Machell's Mr. Collections for the history of Wesimoreland and Cumberland. in fix voluines, folio, preserved in the Dean and Chapter's library at Carlille. The reverend Thomas Muchell, author of the Colledions, lived temp. Car. II. Speaking of the little chapel of Martindale in the mountains of Westmoreland and Cumberland, the writer says, ". There is little remarkable in or about it, but a neat chapel. yard, which by thę peculiar care, of the
* Richard Berket,
. Within the lirnits of myne own memory
See Mr. Douce's observations on the title "Şir," (as given to
---a Star-chamber matter of it:) Ben Jonson intimates, that
“ There is a court above, of the Star-chamber,
- Cuft-alorum. ] This is, I suppose, intended for a corruption
+ In the margin is a Mf, note reeningly in the hand-writing of Bp. Nicholson, who gave these volumes to the library:
" Since I can remember there was not a reader in any chapel but was called Siz."
Slen. Ay, and ratolorum too; and a gentleman born, master parson; who writes himself armigero ; in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation, armigero.
SHAL. Ay, that we do; and have done any time these three hundred years.
Slen. All his successors, gone before him, have done't ; and all his ancestors, that come after him, may: they may give the dozen white luces in their coat.
SHAL. It is an old coat. *
author, who, though he gives Shallow folly enough, makes him rather pedantic than illiterate. If we read:
" Shal. Ay, cousin Slender, and Custos Rotulorum." It follows naturally:
" Slen. Ay, and Ratolorum too.” JOHNSOH. I think with Dr. Johnson, that this blunder could scarcely bę intended. Shallow, we know, had been bred 10 the law at Clea ment's Inn.-But I would rather read custos only; thien Slender adds naturally, “Ay, and rotulorum too." He had heard the words cuftos rotulorum, and supposes them to mean different offices.
FARMER. Perhaps Shakspeare might have intended to ridicule the abbre- , viations sometimes used in writs and other legal instruments, with which his Juftice might have been acquainied. In the old copy the word is printed Cuft-alorum, as it is now exhibited in the text. If, however, this was intended, it should be Cult-ulorum ; and, it must be owned, abbreviation by cutting off the beginning of a word is not authorized by any precedent, except what we may suppose to have existed in Shallow's imagination. MALONE.
who writes himself armigero ; ] Slender had seen the Justice's attestations, signed ö- jurat' coram me, Roberto Shallow, Armigero :" and therefore takes the ablative for the nominative case of Armiger.' STEEVENS.
6 Ay, that we do ; ] The old copy reads " that I do."
STEEVENS, Land have done-] i. e. all the Shallows have done. Shak. spçare has many expresions equally licentious. MALONE.
Eva. The dozen white louses do become an old coat well;' it agrees well, passant: it is a familiar beast to man, and fignifies--love.
SHAL. The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat. S
1 The dozen white louses do become an old coat well ; &c.] So, in The Penniless Parliament of thread-bare Poets, 1608:
66 But amongst all other decrees and statutes by us here set downe, wee ordaine and commaund, that three thinges (if they be not parted) ever to continue in perpetual amitie, that is, a Louse in an olde doublet, a painted cloth in a painter's shop, and a foole and his bable." STEEVENS.
& The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat. ] That is, the fresh fish is the coat of an ancient family, and the salt fish is the coat of a merchant grown rich by trading over the sea.
JOHNSON, I am not satisfied with any thing that has been offered on this difficult passage. All that Mr. Smith told us was a mere gratis dicium. [ His note, being worthless, is here omitted. ] I cannot find that falt fish were ever really borne in heraldry. I fancy the latter part of the speech should be given to fir Hugl, who is at cross purposes with the Justice. Shallow had said just before, the coat is an old
that it is the luce, the fresh fish.—No, replies the parson, it cannot be old and fresh toom on the salt fish is an old coat." I give this with rather the more confidence, as a similar iniftake has happened a little lower in the scene, - Slice, I lay!" cries out Corporal Nym, " Pauca, pauca: Slice! that's my hu. mour." There can be no doubt, but pauca, pauca, should be fpoken by Evans:
Again, a little before this, the copies give us:
us Shallow. That he will not-'tis your fault, 'tis your fault; 'tis a good dog."
Surely it should be thus:
Slender. That he will not.
This fugitive scrap of Latin, pauca, &c. is used in several old pieces, by chara&ers who have no more of literature about them, than Nym. So Skinke, in Look, about you, 1600:
" But pauca verba, Skinke." Again, in Every man in his Humour, where it is called the benchers' gkrafc. STEEVENS,
SLEN. I may quarter, coz?
Shakspeare seems to frolick here in his heraldry, with a defiga not to be easily understood. În Leland's Colle&anea, Vol. I. P. II. p. 615. the arms of Geffrey de Lucy are "de goules poudre a croilil dor a treis luz dor." Can the poet mean to quibble upon the word poudré, that is, powdred, which fignifies falted; or strewed and (prinkled with any thing? In Measure for Measure, Lucio says
Ever your fresh whore and your powder'd bawd, Toller.
The lure is a pike or jack: So, in Chaucer's Prol. of the Cant. Tales, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. pp. 351, 352.
" Full many a fair partrich hadde he in mewe,
" And many a breme, and many a luce in ftewe." In Ferne's Blazon of Gentry, 1586, quarto, the arms of the Lucy family are represented as an instance, that " figns of the coat hould something agree with ihe name. It is the coat of Geffray Lord Lucy. He did bear gules, three lucies hariant, argent.”
Mr. William Oldys, (Norroy King at Arms, and well known from the share he had in compiling the Biographia Britannica, among the colle&ions which he left for a Life of Shakspeare,) observes, that
so there was a very aged gentleman living in the neighbourhood of Stratford, (where he died fifty years fivce) who had not ouly heard, from several old people in that town, of Shakspeare's traufgreffion, but could remember the first stanza of that bitter ballad, which, repeating to one of his acquaintance, he preserved it in writing; and here it is, neither better nor worse, but faithfully transcribed from the copy which his relation very courteously communicated to me.
" A parliement member, a justice of peace,
" He thinks himlelf greate,
" Yet an afle in his fate,
Sing lowfie Lucy, whatever befall it." "Contemptible as this performance must now appear, at the time when it was written it might have had sufficient power to irritate a vain, weak, and vindi&ive magiftrate; especially as it was affixed to several of his park-gates, and confequen ly published among his neighbours. It may be remarked likewise, that the jingle on which it turns, occurs in the first scene of The Merry lives of Windfor."