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firmly on his wife’s frailty, 8 yet I cannot put off my opinion so easily: she was in his company at Page's house; and, what they made there,' I know not. Well, I will look further into 't: and I have a disguise to sound Falstaff: If I find her honest, I lose not my labour; if she be otherwise, 'tis labour well bestowed. [Exil.
A Room in the Garter Inn.
Enter Falstaff and PISTOL.
Hist. Why, then the world 's mine oyster,
stands so firmly on his wife's frailty,] To stand on any thing, does signify to insist on it. So, in Heywood's Rape of Lucrece, 1630: “ All captains, and stand upon the honesty of your wives.” Again, in Warner's Albion's England, 1602, Book vi, chap. 30:
“For stoutly on their honesties doe wylie harlots stand.” The jealous Ford is the speaker, and all chastity in women appears to him as frailty. He supposes Page therefore to insist on that virtue as steady, which he himself suspects to be without foundation. Steevens.
and stands so firmly on his wife's frailty,] i. e. has such per. fect confidence in his unchaste wife. His wife's frailty is the same as—his frail wife. So, in Antony and Cleopatra, we meet with death and honour, for an honourable death. Malone.
and, what they made there,] An obsolete phrase signifying—what they did there. Malone. So, in As you like it, Act I, sc. i:
“ Now, sir, what make you here?” Steevens.
the world's mine oyster, &c.] Dr. Grey supposes Shak. speare to allude to an old proverb, “ The mayor of Northampton opens oysters with his dagger,”-i. e. to keep them at a sufficient distance from his nose, that town being fourscore miles from the
Steevens. % I will retort the sum in equipage,] This is added from the old quarto of 1619, and means, I will pay you again in stolen goods.
Warburton. I rather believe he means, that he will pay him by waiting on bim. So, in Love's Pilgrimage, by Beaumont and Fletcher:
“ And boy, be you my guide,
Fal. Not a penny. I have been content, sir, you should lay my countenance to pawn: I have grated upon my good friends for three reprieves for you and your coach-fellow, Nym;3 or else you had looked through the grate like a geminy of baboons. I am damned in hell, for swearing to gentlemen my friends, you were good soldiers, and tall fellows:4 and when mistress Bridget lost the handle of her fan,5 I took 't upon mine honour, thou hadst it not.
That equipage ever meant stolen goods, I am yet to learn.
Steevens. Dr. Warburton may be right; for I find equipage was one of the cant words of the time. In Davies' Papers Complaint, (a poem which has erroneously been ascribed to Donne) we have several of them:
“Embellish, blandishment, and equipage." Which words, he tells us in the margin, overmuch savour of witlesse affectation. Farmer.
Dr. Warburton's interpretation is, I think, right. Equipage indeed does not per se signify stolen goods, but such goods as Pistol promises to return, we may fairly suppose, would be stolen. Equipage, which, as Dr. Farmer observes, had been but newly introduced into our language, is defined by Bullokar in his English Expositor, 8vo. 1616: “Furniture, or provision for horsemanship, especially in triumphs or tournaments.” Hence the modern use of this word. Malone.
- your coach-fellow, Nym;] Thus the old copies. Coachfellow has an obvious meaning; but the modern editors read, couch-fellow. The following passage from Ben Jonson's Cynthia's Revels may justify the reading I have chosen: “ 'Tis the.swaggering coach-horse Anaides, that draws with him there.” Steevens.
your coach-fellow, Nym;] i. e. he, who draws along with you; who is joined with you in all your knavery. So before, Page, speaking of Nym and Pistol, calls them a " yoke of Falstaff's discarded men.' Malone.
tall fellows:) See p. 60. Steevens.
lost the handle of her fan,] It should be remembered, that fans, in our author's time, were more costly than they are at present, as well as of a different construction. They consisted of ostrich feathers (or others of equal length and flexibility) which were stuck into handles. The richer sort of these were composed of gold, silver, or ivory of curious workmanship.One of them is mentioned in The Fleire, Com. 1610: “ — she hath a fan with a short silver handle, about the length of a barber's syringe.” Again, in Love and Honour by Sir W. Ď'Avenant, 1649: « All your plate, Vasco, is the silver handle of your old prisoner's fan." Again, in Marston's III, Satyre, edit, 1598:
Pist. Didst thou not share? hadst thou not fifteen
pence? Fal, Reason, you rogue, reason: Think'st thou, I 'll endanger my soul gratis ? At a word, hang no more about me, I am no gibbet for you:-go.– A short knife and a throng; 6—to your manor of Pickt-hatch,' go.You 'll not bear a letter for me, you rogue!-you stand upon your honour!-Why thou unconfinable baseness, it is as much as I can do, to keep the terms of my honour precise. I, I, I myself sometimes, leaving the fear of heaven on the left hand, and hiding mine honour in my necessity, am fain to shuffle, to hedge, and to lurch; and yet you, rogue, will ensconce your rags, 8 your cat-a-mountain looks, your red-lattice phrases,
“How can he keepe a lazie waiting man,
A short knife and a throng;] So, Lear: “When cut. purses come not to throngs.” Warburton.
Pickt-hatch,] Is frequently mentioned by contemporary writers. So, in Ben Jonson's Every Man in his Humour :
“ From the Bordello it might come as well,
“ The Spital, or Pict-hatch." Again, in Randolph's Muses Looking-glass, 1638:
the Lordship of Turnbull, “ Which with my Pict-hatch Grange, and Shore-ditch
farm,” &c. Sir T. Hanmer says, that this was “a noted harbour for thieves and pickpockets,” who certainly were proper companions for a man of Pistol's profession. But Falstaff here more immediately means to ridicule another of his friend's vices; and there is some humour in calling Pistols favourite brothel, his manor of Pickthatch. Marston has another allusion to Pickt-hatch or Pick-hatch, which confirms this illustration:
His old cynick dad
Lib. I, sat. iii. T. Warton. Again, in The Blacke Booke, 1604, 4to. Lucifer says: “I proceeded towards Pickt-hatch, intending to beginne there first, which (as I may fitly name it) is the very skirts of all Brothelhouses.” Douce.
ensconce your rags, &c.] A sconce is a petty fortifi. cation. To ensconce, therefore, is to protect'as with a fort. The word occurs again in K. Henry IV,P. I. Steevens. red-lattice phrases,] Your ale-house conversation.
and your bold-beating oaths, under the shelter of your honour! You will not do it, you? Pist. I do relent; What wouldst thou more of man?
Enter Mistress QUICKLY.
Quick. I 'll be sworn; as my mother was, the first hour I was born.
Fal. I do believe the swearer: What with me?
Quick. Shall I vouchsafe your worship a word or two?
Fal. Two thousand, fair woman; and I 'll vouchsafe thee the hearing
Quick. There is one mistress Ford, sir ;- I pray, come a little nearer this ways:~I myself dwell with master doctor Caius.
Fal. Well, on: Mistress Ford, you say,
Quick. Your worship says very true: I pray your worship, come a little nearer this ways.
Fal. I warrant thee, nobody hears ;-mine own people, mine own people.
Quick. Are they so? Heaven bless them, and make them his servants :
Red lattice at the doors and windows, were formerly the external denotements of an ale-house. So, in A Fine Companion, one of Shackerley Marmion's plays: “A waterman's widow at the sign of the red lattice in Southwark." Again, in Arden of Feversham, 1592:
his sign pulled down, and his lattice borne away.” Hence the present chequers. Perhaps the reader will express some surprize, when he is told that shops, with the sign of the chequers, were common among the Romans, See a view of the left-hand street of Pompeii, (No. 9) presented by Sir William Hamilton, (together with several others, equally curious) to the Antiquary Society. Steevens.
In King Henry IV, P. II, Falstaff's page, speaking of Bardolph, says, “ he called me even now, my lord, through a red lattice, and I could see no part of his face from the window.” Malone.
Fal. Well: Mistress Ford ;-what of her?
Quick. Why, sir, she 's a good creature. Lord, lord! your worship’s a wanton: Well, heaven forgive you, and all of us, I
Fal. Mistress Ford ;-come, mistress Ford,
Quick. Marry, this is the short and the long of it; you have brought her into such a canaries,' as 'tis wonderful. The best courtier of them all, when the court lay at Windsor, 2 could never have brought her to such a canary. Yet there has been knights, and lords, and gentlemen with their coaches; I warrant you, coach after coach, letter after letter, gist after gift; smelling so sweetly, (all musk) and so rushling, I warrant you, in silk and gold; and in such alligant terms; and in such wine and sugar of the best, and the fairest, that would have won any woman's heart; and, I warrant you, they could never get an eye-wink of her.—I had myself twenty angels given me this morning: but I defy all angels, (in any such sort as they say) but in the way of honesty :-and, I warrant you, they could never get her so much as sip on a cup with the proudest of them all: and yet there has been earls, nay, which is more, pensioners;3 but, I warrant you, all is one with her.
canaries,] This is the name of a brisk light dance, and is therefore properly enough used, in low language, for any hurry or perturbation. Johnson.
So, Nash, in Pierce Pernyless his Supplication, 1595, says: "A merchant's wife jets it as gingerly, as if she were dancing the canaries." It is highly probable, however, that canaries is only a mistake of Mrs. Quickly's for quandaries; and yet the Clown, in As you like it, says, “ we that are true lovers, run into strange capers.” Steevens.
lay at Windsor,] i. e. resided there. Malone.
earls, nay, which is more, pensioners ;] This may be illustrated by a passage in Gervase Holles's Life of the First Earl of Clare, Bing. Brit. Art. Holles: “I have heard the Earl of Clare say, that when he was pensioner to the queen, he did not know a worse man of the whole band than himself; and that all the world knew he had then an inheritance of 40001. a year.”
Tyrwhitt. Barrett, in his Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580, says, that a pensioner was “ a gentleman about his prince, alwaie redie, with his speare.” Steevens.