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-I have a sword, and it shall bite upon my necessity. --He loves your wife, &c.] Nym, to gain credit, says, that he is above the mean office of carrying love. letters; he has nobler means of living; he has a sword, and upon his necessity, i. e. when his need drives him to unlawful expedients, his sword shall bite. JOHNSON.
134. The humour of it, - ] The following epigram taken from an old collection without date, but apparently printed before the year 1600, will best ac. count for Nym's frequent repetition of the word hu. mour. Epig. 27.
Aske HUMOUR what a feather he doth wearé,
When you behold his lookes pale, thin, and poore,
STEEVENS. 140. I will not believe such a Cataian--] That by a Cataian some kind of sharper was meant, I infer from the following passage in Love and Honour, a play by sir W. Davenant, 1649:
“ Hang him, bold Cataian, he indites finely,
“ As any distrest gallant of them all."
“ I'll wish you in the Indies, or Cathaia." The tricks of the Cataians are hinted at in one of the old black letter histories of that country; and again in a dramatic performance, called the Pedler's Prophecy, 1595:
" in the east part of Inde,
“ Through seas and floods, they work all thievish.” Mr. Malone observes, that in a book of Shakspere'sage, entitled, A brief Description of the whole World, “the people of China are (said to be) very politick and crafty, and in respect thereof contemning the wits of others; using a proverb, That all other nations do see but with one eye, but they with two." STEEVENS.
143. 'Twas a good sensible fellow: --] This, and the
two preceding speeches of Ford, are spoken to himself, and have no connection with the sentiments of Page, who is likewise making his comment on what had passed, without attention to Ford. STEEVENS.
187. -cavalero-justice,] So in The Stately Moral of three Ladies of London, 1590:
“ Then know, Castilian cavalieros, this." There is a book printed in 1599, called, A countercuffe given to Martin Junior; by the venturous, hardie, and renowned Pasquil of Englande, CAVALLIEKO, STEEVENS.
209. and tell him, my name is Brook,both the old quartos; and thus most certainly the poet wrote. We need no better evidence than the pun that Falstaff anon makes on the name, when Brook sends him some burnt sack. “ Such Brooks are welcome to me, that overflow with
such liquor." The players, in their editions, altered the name to Broom.
THEOBALD. -said I well?] The learned editor of the Canterbury Tales of Chaucer, in 4 vols. 8vo. 1775, observes, that this phrase is given to the host in the Pardonere's Prologue :
“ Said I not well? I cannot speke in terme :" v. 12246. and adds, “ it may be sufficient with the other circumstances of general resemblance, to make us believe that Shakspere, when he drew the character, had not forgotten his Chaucer.” The same gentleman has since informed me, that the passage is
not found in any of the ancient printed editions, but only in the MSS.
2 you go AN-HEIRS?] This nonsense is spoken to Shallow. We should read, Will you go ON HERIS? i.e. Will you go on, master? Heris, an old Scotch word for master.
WARBURTON. The merry Host has already saluted them separately by titles of distinction; he therefore probably now ad. dresses them collectively by a general one,
“Will you go on, heroes ?" or, as probably,
-Will you go on, hearts?” He calls Dr. Caius Heart of Elder; and adds, in a subsequent scene of this play, Farewell my hearts. Again, in the Midsummer Night's Dream, Bottom says,
“ Where are these hearts?” My brave hearts, or my bold hearts, is a common word of encouragement. A heart of gold expresses the more soft and amiable qualities, the Mores aurei of Horace ; and a heart of oak is a frequent encomium of rugged honesty.
STEVENS. Will you go an-heirs?] Perhaps we should read, “ Will you go and hear us?” So in the next page, “ I had rather hear them scold than fight.”
MALONE. 213. Have with you, mine host. ] This speech is given in all the editions to Shallow; but it belongs, I think, to Ford, to whom the host addresses himself when he says: “Will you go and hear us?”
It is not likely he should address himself to Shallow, 'because Shallow and he had already concerted the scheme, and agreed to go together; and accordingly, Shallow says, a little before to Page,
“Will you go with us to behold it? The former speech of FordNone I protest, &c. is given in like manner, in the first folio, to Shallow, instead of Ford: The editor's corrected the one, but over-looked the other.
MALONE. 214. I have heard, the Frenchman hath good skill in his Tapier.] In the old quarto, here follows these words:
“ Shal. I tell you what, master Page; I believe the doctor is no jester, he'll lay it on; for though we be justices, and doctors, and churchmen, yet we are the sons of women, master Page.
Page. True, master Shallow.
Page. Master Shallow, you yourself, have been a great fighter, now a man of peace.”
Part of this dialogue is found afterwards in the third scene of the present act; but it seems more proper here, to introduce what Shallow says of the prowess of his youth.
MALONE. my long sword, -] Before the introduction of rapiers, the swords in use were of an enormous length, and sometimes raised with both hands. Shal. low, with an old man's vanity, censures the innovation by which lighter weapons were introduced, tells what he could once have done with his long-sword, and ridicules the terms and rules of the rapier. JOHNSON.