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rajon for bis precisian, he admits him not for his counsellor:
Thine own true knight,
kind of light,
as his precisian, or director in nice cafes, yet when he is only eager to attain his end, he takes not reason for his counsellor.
Johnson. Dr. Johnson wishes to read physician; and this conjecture becomes almost a certainty from a line in our author's 147th fonnet,
My reason the physician to my love, &c.” FARMER. The character of a precisian seems to have been very generally ridiculed in the time of Shakespeare. So in the Malcontent, 1604: • You must take her in the right vein then; as, when the sign is in pilies, a tishmonger’s wife is very sociable : in cancer, a precio fan's wife is very flexible.” Again, Dr. Fa:fius, 1604 :
óć I will let my countenance like a precisian?” Again, in Arden of Feversham, 1633 :
" How now, Will! become a precisian:”
“ It is precifianifm to alter that,
MUSGRAVE. 1 Thine own true knight, By day or night.
What a Herod of Jewry is this ?-O wicked, wicked world! one that is well nigh worn to pieces with age, to thew himself a young gallant! What an unweigh'd behaviour · has this Flemish drunkard pick'd (with the devil's name) out of my conversation, that he dares in this manner aslay me? Why, he hath not been thrice in my company !- What should I say to him ? _ I was then frugal of my mirth :heaven forgive me !-- Why, I'll exhibit' + a bill in
This expression, which is ludicrously employed by Falstaff, an. ciently meant, at all times. So, in the third book of Gower, De Conf.fione Amantis:
". The sonne cleped was Machayre,
“ By daie bothe and eke by night."
STEEVENS. What an unweigh'd behaviour &c.] Thus the folio and 4to, 1630. It has been suggested to me, that we should read, one.
STEEVENS. - I cvas then frugal of my mirth:) By breaking this speech into exclamations, the text inay stand; but I once thought it must be read, If I was not then frugal of my mirth.
Johnson. a bill in the parliament for the putting dozen of men. — -) What, Mrs Page! put down the whole species, unius ob noxam, for a single offender's trespass ? Don't be io unreasonable in your anger. But 'tis a false charge against you. I am perluaded, a Thort monofyllable is dropped out, which, once restored, would quality the matter. We must necessarily read for the putting down of fat men. Mrs. Ford says in the very ensuing scenc, I shall think the worse of fat men, as long as I hate an ere, &c. And in the old quartos, Mrs. Page, so soon as she had read the letter, says, Well, I shall truft fat men the worse, while I live, for his fake; and he is called the fat knight, the greasy hnight, by the women, throughout the play. THEOBALD.
I'll exhibit a bill in parliament for putting down of me.) Mr. Theobald says, we must neceflarily read for putting dozen of fat men. But how is the matter mended? or the thought made less ridiculous ? Shakespeare wrote for the putting down of mum, j. e. the fattening liquor so called. So Fletcher in his Wild Goose Chaçe: “ What a cold I have over iny stomach, would I had some
the parliament for the putting down of men. How fhall I be reveng'd on him? for reveng'd I will be, as sure as his guts are made of puddings.
Enter Mistress Ford. Mrs. Ford. Mistress Page ! trust me, I was going to your house.
Mrs. Page. And, trust me, I was coming to you. You look very ill.
Mrs. Ford. Nay, I'll ne'er believe that; I have to Thew to the contrary.
Mrs. Page. ’Faith, but you do, in my mind.
Mrs. Ford. Well, I do then ; yet, I say, I could Thew you to the contrary : O, mistress Page, give me some counsel!
Mrs. Page. What's the matter, woman?
Mrs. Ford. O woman, if it were not for one trifling respect, I could come to such honour !
MUM." This is truly humorous, and agrees with the character The had just before given him of Flemish drunkard. . But the greatest confirmation of this conjecture is the allusion the words, in question, bear to a matter then publicly transacting. The Merry Wives of Windsor appears to have been wrote in 1601, or very shortly after. And we are informed by Sir Simon D'Ewes' Journal, that no home affair made more noise in and out of parliament at that time, than the suppression and regulation of taverns, inns, ale-houses, strong liquors, and the drinkers of them. In the parliament held 1597, a bill was brought into both houses, “ For suppreifing the multitude of malsters,” &c. Another, “ To restrain the excessive making of malt, and disorderly brewing of strong beer." Another, “ For regulating of inns, taverns," &c. In the next parliament, held 1601, was a bill, " For the suppressing of the multitude of ale-houses and tipling-houses.” Another,
Against excessive and common drunkenness;” and several others of the faine nature. Some of which, after much canvassing, were thrown out, and others passed into acts. WARBURTON.
I do not see that any alteration is necessary; if it were, either of the foregoing conjectures might serve the turn. But furely Mrs. Ford may naturally enough, in the firit heat of her anger, rail at the sex for the fault of one. Johnson.
Mrs. Page. Hang the trifle, woman ; take the honour : What is it?-dispense with trifles;-what is it?
Mrs. Ford. If I would but go to hell for an eternal moment, or so, I could be knighted. Mrs. Page. What?—thou liest!--Sir Alice Ford!
s What?-thou lieft!-Sir Alice Ford! - These knights will HACK, and so thou shouldst not alter the article of thy gentry.] The unintelligible nonsense of this speech is hardly to be matched. The change of a single letter has occafioned it, which is thus easily removed. Read and point-Thefe knights will lack, and so thou shouldz not alter the article of tly gentry. The other had said, I could be knighted, meaning, I could have a knight for my lover; her companion took it in the other sense, of conferring the title, and says, What?-thou lief!-Sir Alice Ford!—These knights will lack a title [i.e. risk the punishment of degradation) rather than not make a whore of thec. For we are to observe that--and fo thou shouldst not, is a mode of speech, amongst the writers of that time, cquivalent to-rather than thou shouldst not. WARBURTON.
Upon this passage the learned editor has tried his strength, in my opinion, with more spirit than success.
'I read thus-T bese knights we'll back, and so thou shouldst not alter the article of thy gentry. The punishment of a recreant or undeserving knight, was to back 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 usual form of backing off their spurs, and thou, if thou art knighted, fhalt be hacked with the rest. JOHNSON.
Hanmer says, to back, means to turn hackney, or prostitute. I suppose he means-These knights will degrade themselves, so that The will acquire no honour by being connected with them. Perhaps the partage has been hitherto entirely misunderstood. To hack, is an expression used in the ridiculous scene between Quickly, Evans, and the Boy; and fignifies, to do mischief. The sense of this palliage may therefore be, these knights are a riotous, diflolute fort of people, and on that account thou should'st not wish to be of the number,
It is not, however, impoffible that Shakespeare meant by-these knights will hack-these knights will foon become backney'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 satire might not have been unjustly thrown in. In Hans Beer Pot's Invisible Comedy, 1619, is a long piece of ridicule on the fame occurrence:
6 'Twas strange to see what knighthood once would do :
z the hou hat is it 1 eternal
se Ford! -Thele
--Thefe knights will hack; and so thou shouldft not alter the article of thy gentry,
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 eye to make difference of men's liking: And yet he would not swear; prais'd women's modesty; and orderly and well-behaved reproof to all uncomeliness, that I would have sworn his disposition would have gone to the truth of his words : but they do no more adhere, and keep place together, than the hundredth psalm to the tune of Green Sleeves ?. What tempest,
“ To gain this honour and this dignity.
alas ! 'tis grown ridiculous ;
" That some refuse it who are counted wife." STEEVENS 6 We burn day-light;] i.e. we have more proof than we want. The same proverbial phrafe occurs in the Spanish Tragedy:
Hier. “ Light me your torches."
Pedro. “ Then we burn day-light.” So in Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio ules the same expression, and then explains it: * We waste our lights in vain like lamps by day."
STEEVENS. ? — Green Sleeves.] This song was entered on the books of the Stationers' Company, in September 1580 : “ Licenced unto Richard Jones, a newe northern dittye of the lady Greene Sleeves." Again, " Licensed unto Edward White, a ballad, beinge the Lady Greene Sleeves, answered to Jenkyn hir frend.” Again, in the same month and year : 6 Green Sleeves moralized to the Scripture, &c.” Again, to Edward White:
66 Green Sleeves and countenaunce,
In countenaunce is Green Sleeves."
" The bonnieft lass in all the land.”
" And set our credits to the tune of Greene Sleeves." But whatever the ballad was, it seems to have been very popular. August 1981, was entered at Stationers' Hall, “ A new Ballad, entitled :