Billeder på siden
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

faculties he hath, that show a weak mind and an able body, for the which the prince admits him: for the prince himself is such another; the weight of a hair will turn the scales between their avoirdupois.

P. HEN. Would not this nave of a wheel" have his ears cut off ?

Poins. Let's beat him before his whore.

P. Hen. Look, if the withered elder hath not his poll clawed like a parrot R.

Poins. Is it not strange, that desire should so many years outlive performance ?

Fal. Kiss me, Doll.

P. Hen. Saturn and Venus this year in conjunction'! what says the almanack to that?



companions he was likely to associate, Falstaff's meaning will appear to be, that he excites no censure for telling them modest stories ; or in plain English that he tells them nothing but immodest ones.

- Nave of a wheel-] Nave and knave are easily recon-
ciled, but why 'nave of a wheel?' I suppose from his round-
He was called round man, in contempt, before.

So, in the play represented before the king and queen in
Hamlet :

“ Break all the spokes and fellies of her wheel,
“ And bowl the round nave down the steep of heaven."

STEEVENS. his poll Clawed like a parrot.] This custom, we may suppose, was not peculiar to Falstaff, especially as it occurred among the French, to whom we were indebted for most of our artificial gratifications. So, in La Venerie, &c. by Jaques de Fouilloux, &c. Paris, 4to. 1585: “Le seigneur doit auoir sa petite charette, là où il sera dedans, auec sa fillette, aagée de seize a dix sept ans, la quelle lui frottera la teste par les chemins.” A wooden cut annexed, represents this operation on an old man, who lies along in his carriage, with a girl sitting at his head. STEEVENS.

9 Saturn and Venus this year in conjunction !] This was, indeed, a prodigy. The astrologers, says Ficinus, remark, that Saturn and Venus are never conjoined. Johnson.


Poins. And, look, whether the firy Trigon', his man, be not lisping to his master's old tables?, his note-book, his counsel-keeper.



- the FIRY Trigon, &c.] Trigonum igneum is the astronomical term when the upper planets meet in a fiery sign. The fiery Trigon, I think, consists of Aries, Leo, and "Sagittarius. So, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, b. vi. chap. xxxi. :

Even at the fierie Trigon shall your chief ascendant be.” Again, in Pierce's Supererogation, or a new Praise of the old Asse, &c. by Gabriel Harvey, 1593 : “ now the warring planet was expected in person, and the fiery Trigon seemed to give the aların.” Steevens.

So, in A Dialogue both pleasaunt and pietifull, &c. by Wm. Bulleyne, 1564 : “ Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius, are hotte, drie, bitter, and cholerike, governing hot and drie thinges, and this is called the fierie triplicitie.Malone.

LISPING to his master's old tables, &c.] We should read~" clasping too his master's old tables,” &c. i. e. embracing his master's cast off whore, and now his bawd [his note-book, his counsel-keeper]. We have the same phrase again in Cymbeline:

“ You clasp young Cupid's tables." Warburton. I believe the old reading to be the true one. Bardolph was very probably drunk, and might lisp a little in his courtship; or might assume an affected softness of speech, like Chaucer's Frere : Tyrwhitt's edit. Prol. v. 266 :

Somewhat he lisped for his wantonnesse, “ To make his English swete upon

his tonge." Or, like the Page, in The Mad Lover of Beaumont and Fletcher, who

Lisps when he list to catch a chambermaid.” Again, in Love's Labour's Lost :

He can carve too and lisp." Again, in Marston's 8th Satire :

“ With voyce distinct, all fine, articulate,

Lisping, · Fayre saynt, my woe compassionate : “By heaven thine eye is my soule-guiding fate."

STEEVENS. Certainly the word clasping better preserves the integrity of the metaphor; or, perhaps, as the expression is old tables, we might read licking : Bardolph was kissing the Hostess ; and old ivory books were commonly cleaned by licking them. FARMER.

The old table-book was a counsel-keeper, or a register of secrets; and so also was Dame Quickly. I have therefore not the least suspicion of any corruption in the text. Lisping is, in our author's dialect, making love, or, in modern language, saying soft things. So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff apologises to VOL. XVII.



[ocr errors]


Fal. Thou dost give me flattering busses.

Dol. Nay, truly ; I kiss thee with a most constant heart.

FAL. I am old, I am old.

Dol. I love thee better than I love e'er a scurvy young boy of them all.

FAL. What stuff wilt have a kirtle of ? I shall

Mrs. Ford for his concise address to her, by saying, “ I cannot cog, and say this and that, like a many of these lisping hawthornbuds, that come like women in men's apparel, and smell like Buckler's-bury in simple-time; I cannot; but I love thee," &c.

MALONE. 3 — a KIRTLE of?] I know not exactly what a kirtle is. The following passages may serve to show that it was something different from a gown : “ How unkindly she takes the matter, and cannot be reconciled with less than a gown or a kirtle of silk.” Greene's Art of Legerdemain, &c. 1612. Again, in one of Stanyhurst's poems, 1582:

“ This gowne your lovemate, that kirtle costlye she craveth." Bale, in his Actes of English Votaries, says, that Roger earl of Shrewsbury sent “to Clunyake in France, for the kyrtle of holy Hugh the abbot.” Perhaps kirtle, in its common acceptation, means a petticoat. “ Half a dozen taffata gowns or sattin kirtles.Cynthia's Revels, by Ben Jonson.

Stubbs mentions kirtles, but is not precise in his description of them. Dr. Farmer supposes them to be the same as safe-guards or riding-hoods.

In A Lytell Treatyse for to lerne Englysshe and Frensshe, emprynted at Westminster, by Wynken de Worde, we find “a kyrtell” explained by the word—" ung corset.” Steevens.

A kirtle, I believe, meant a long cloak. Minsheu describes it as an upper or exterior garment, worn over another ; what in French is called a garde-robe. See his Dict. 1617. The latter word is explained by Cotgrave thus: “A cloth or cloak worn or cast over a garment to keep it from dust, rain,” &c. That writer, however, supposes kirtle and petticoat to be synonymous ; for he renders the word vasquine thus : “ A kirtle or petticoat ; and surcot he calls “ an upper kirtle, or a garment worn over a kirtle."

When, therefore, a kirtle is mentioned simply, perhaps a petticoat is meant; when an upper kirtle is spoken of, a long cloak or mantle is probably intended ; and I imagine a half-kirtle, which occurs in a subsequent scene in this play, meant a short cloak, half the length of the upper kirtle. The term half-kirtle seems receive money on Thursday: thou shalt have a cap to-morrow. A merry song, come: it grows late. we'll to bed. Thou'lt forget me, when I am gone,

Dol. By my troth thou'lt set me a weeping, an thou say'st so: prove that ever I dress myself handsome till thy return.--Well, hearken the end.

FAL. Some sack, Francis.
P. Hen. Poins. Anon, anon, sir 4. [Advancing.

inconsistent with Dr. Farmer's idea; as does Milton's use of the word in his Masque, “the flowery-kirtled Naiades."

Stubbes, in his Anatomie of Abuses, 1595, describes a kirtle as distinct from both a gown and a petticoat. After having described the gowns usually worn at that time, he proceeds thus : “ – then have thei petticots of the best clothe, of scarlette, grograine, taffatie, or silke, &c. But of whatsoever their petticoats be, yet must they have kirtles, (for so they call them,) either of silke, velvet, grograine, taffatie, satten or scarlet, bordered with gardes, lace,” &c. I suppose he means a mantle or long cloak.

So also, in The First Part of the Contention of the Two Houses of Yorke and Lancaster, 1600 : “ Marry, he that will lustily stand to it, shall go with me, and take up these commodities following: item, a gown, a kirtle, a petticoat, and a smock."

My interpretation of kirtle is confirmed by Barret's Alvearie, 1580, who renders kirtle, by subminia, cyclas, palla, pallula, xraiva, surcot.-- Subminia Cole interprets in his Latin Dictionary, 1697, “A kirtle, a light red coat."--Cyclas, “a kirtle, a cimarr.”

-Palla, a woman's long gown ; a veil that covers the head.”. Pallula, “a short kirtle.”Læna, an Irish rugge, a freeze cassock, a rough hairy gaberdine."

From hence it appears, that a woman's kirtle, or rather upperkirtle, (as distinguished from a petticoat, which was sometimes called a kirtle,) was a long mantle which reached to the ground, with a head to it that entirely covered the face; and it was, perhaps, usually red. A half-kirtle was a similar garment, reaching only somewhat lower than the waist. See Florio's Italian Dict. 1598: " Semicinto. A garment coming lower than the belly; also half-girt, as we may say a half-kirtle.Cotgrave, however, translates Le devant du robe, an apron, or kirtle. Malone.

4 Anon, anon, sir.] The usual answer of drawers at this period. So, in The Discoverie of the Knights of the Poste, 1597 : “wherefore hee calling, the drawer presently answered with a shrill voyce, anon, anon, sir.Reed.


FAL. Ha! a bastard son of the king's" ?-And art not thou Poins his brother 6?

P. Hen. Why, thou globe. of sinful continents, what a life dost thou lead ?

Fal. A better than thou; I am a gentleman, thou art a drawer.

P. Hen. Very true, sir; and I come to draw you out by the ears.

Host. O, the Lord preserve thy good grace! by my troth, welcome to London.-Now the Lord bless that sweet face of thine! O Jesu, are you come from Wales ?

Fal. Thou whoreson mad compound of majesty, -by this light flesh and corrupt blood, thou art welcome.

[Leaning his hand upon Doll. Doc. How ! you fat fool, I scorn you.

Porns. My lord, he will drive you out of your revenge, and turn all to a merriment, if you take not the heat?

P. Hen. You whoreson candle-mine S, you, how vilely did you speak of me even now, before this honest, virtuous, civil gentlewoman ?

Host. 'Blessing o' your good heart! and so she is, by my troth.

FAL. Didst thou hear me ?

P. Hen. Yes; and you knew me, as you did, when you ran away by Gad's-hill : you knew, I was at your back; and spoke it on purpose, to try my patience.


3 5 Ha! a bastard, &c.] The improbability of this scene is scarcely balanced by the humour. Johnson.

Poins his brother ?] i. e. Poins's brother, or brother to Poins ; a vulgar corruption of the genitive case. Ritson.

- if you take not the heat.] Alluding, I suppose, to the proverb, “ Strike while the iron is hot.So again, in King Lear : “ We must do something, and i' the heat.” Steevens. 8 - candle-mine,] Thou inexhaustible magazine of tallow.


[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »