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2 Car. Why, they will allow us ne'er a jorden, and then we leak in your chimney; and your chamber-lie breeds fleas like a loach.9

1 Car. What, ostler! come away and be hanged, come away.

1 Car. I have a gammon of bacon, and two razes of ginger, to be delivered as far as Charingcross.

1 Car. 'Odsbody! the turkies in my pannier are quite starved.—What, ostler!—A plague on thee! hast thou never an eye in thy head? canst not hear? An 'twere not as good a deed as drink, to break the pate of thee, I am a very villain.—Come, and be hanged:—Hast no faith in thee?

Enter Gadshill.1

Gads. Good morrow, carriers. What's o'clock?

1 Car. I think it be two o'clock.

Gads. I pr'ythee, lend me thy lantern, to see my gelding in the stable.

1 Car. Nay, soft, I pray ye; I know a trick worth two of that, i'faith.

Gads. I pr'ythee, lend me thine.

1 Car. Ay, when? canst tell ?—Lend me thy lantern, quoth a?—.-marry, I'll see thee hanged first.

Gads. Sirrah carrier, what time do you mean to come to London.

2 Car. Time enough to go to bed with a candle, I warrant thee.—Come, neighbour Mugs, we'll call up the gentlemen; they will along with company, for they have great charge. [Exeunt Carriers.

Gads. What, ho! chamberlain!

breeds fleas like a loach.] i. e. as a loach breed*. The

loach is a very small fish, but so exceedingly prolifick, that it is seldom found without spawn in it.

1 Gadshill.'] This thief receives his title from a place on

the Kentish road, where many robberies have been committed.


Cham. \.Within.~] At hand, quoth pick-purse.2 Gads. That's even as fair as—at hand, quoth the chamberlain: for thou variest no more from picking of purses, than giving direction doth from labouring; thou lay'st the plot how.

Enter Chamberlain.

Cham. Good-morrow, master Gadshill. It holds current, that I told you yesternight: There's a franklin5 in the wild of Kent, hath brought three hundred marks with him in gold: I heard him tell it to one of his company, last night at supper; a kind of auditor; one that hath abundance of charge too, God knows what. They are up already, and call for eggs and butter: They will away presently.

Gads. Sirrah, if they meet not with saint Nicholas' clerks,4 I'll give thee this neck.

Cham. No, I'll none of it: I pr'ythee, keep that for the hangman; for, I know, thou worship'st saint Nicholas as truly as a man of falsehood may.

* At hand, quoth pick-purse."] This is a proverbial expression often used by Green, Nashe, and other writers of the time, in whose works the cant of low conversation is preserved.

* franklin —] is a little gentleman, perhaps an opulent freeholder.

Fortescue, says the editor of The Canterbury Tales, Vol. IV. p. 202, (de L. L. Ang. c xxix.) describes afranklain to be pater familiasmagnis ditatus possessionibus. He is classed with (but after J the miles and armiger; and is distinguished from the Libere tenetttes and valecti; though, as it should seem, the only real distinction between him and other freeholders, consisted in the largeness of his estate. Spelman, in voce Franklein, quotes the following passage from Trivet's French Chronicle. (MSS. Bibl. R. S. n. 56.) "Thomas de Brotherton Alius Edwardi I. marescallus Angliae, apres la mort de son pere esposa la fille de un Franchelyn apelee Alice." The historian did not think it worth his while even to mention the name of the Frankelein. Reed.

4 saint Nicholas' clerks,] St. Nicholas was the patron saint

of scholars; and Nicholas, or old Nick, is a cant name for the devil. Hence he equivocally calls robbers, St. Nicholas' clerks.

Gads. What talkest thou to me of the hangman? if I hang, I'll make a fat pair of gallows: for, if I hang, old sir John hangs with me; and, thou knowest, he's no starveling. Tut! there are other Trojans5 that thou dreamest not of, the which, for sport sake, are content to do the profession some grace; that would, if matters should be looked into, for their own credit sake, make all whole. I am joined with no foot land-rakers,6 no long-staff, sixpenny strikers; none of these mad, mustachio purple-hued malt-worms: but with nobility, and tranquillity; burgomasters, and great oneyers;7 such as can hold in; such as will strike sooner than speak, and speak sooner than drink, and drink sooner than pray:8 And yet I lie; for they pray continually to their saint, the commonwealth; or, rather, not pray to her, but prey on her; for they ride up and down on her, and make her their boots.

Cham. What, the commonwealth their boots? will she hold out water in foul way?

Gads. She will, she will; justice hath liquored her.9 We steal as in a castle,1 cock-sure; we have the receipt of fern-seed,2 we walk invisible.

* — other Trojans —] Trojan had a cant signification, and perhaps was only a more creditable term for a thief.

* I am joined with no foot land-rakers, SfC."] That is, with no padders, no wanderers on foot. No long-staff' sixpenny strikers, —no fellows that infest the road with long starts, and knock men down for six-pence None of these mad mustachio, purple-hued malt-worms,—none of those whose faces are red with drinking ale. Johnson.

7 —burgomasters, and great oneyers;] Perhaps public accountants. Some read moneyers, or bankers.

8 such as can hold in; such as will strike sooner than speak,

and speak sooner than drink, and drink, Ac] Perhaps the meaning may be,—Men who will knock the traveller down sooner than speak to him; who yet will speak to him and bid him stand, sooner than drink; (to which they are sufficiently well inclined;) and lastly, who will drink sooner than pray.

Cham. Nay, by my faith; I think you are more beholden to the night, than to fern-seed, for your walking invisible.

Gads. Give me thy hand: thou shalt have a share in our purchase,3 as I am a true man.

Chain. Nay, rather let me have it, as you are a false thief.

Gads. Go to; Homo is a common name to all men. Bid the ostler bring my gelding out of the stable. Farewell, you muddy knave. [Exeunt.'

The Road by Gadshill.

Enter Prince Henry, and Poins; Bardolph and
Peto, at some distance.

Poins. Come, shelter, shelter; I have removed FalstafFs horse, and he frets like a gummed velvet. P. Hen. Stand close.

9 She will, she will; justice hath liquored her."] A satire on chicane in courts of justice; which supports ill men in their violations of the law, under the very cover of it.

1 as in a castle,] Perhaps Shakspeare means, we steal with

as much security as the ancient inhabitants of castles, who had those strong holds to fly to for protection and defence against the laws.

4 wc have the receipt of fern-seed,] The ancients, who often paid more attention to received opinions than to the evidence of their senses, believed that fern bore no seed. Our ancestors imagined that this plant produced seed which was invisible. Hence, from an extraordinary mode of reasoning, founded on the fantastic doctrine of signatures, they concluded that they who possessed the secret of wearing this seed about them would become invisible.

'—— purchase,] anciently the cant term for stolen goods.

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