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these mad, mustachio, purple-hu'd mal-worms 3: but with nobility, and tranquillity; - burgomasters, and
great no fix-penny striker signifies, not one who would content himself to bor., row, i. c. rob you for the sake of fix-pence. That to borrow was the cant phrase for to steal, is well known, and that to strike likewise fignified to borrow, let the following passage in Shirley's Gentlemar of Venise confirm :
66 Cor. You had beít assault me too.
“ Mal. I must borrow money,
" And that some call a striking, &c." Again, in Glapthorne's Hollander, 1640;
" The only shape to hide a frikcr in." STEEVENS. In Greene's Art of Conez catching, 1502, under the table of Cant Exprefions used by Thieves: “ -the cutting a pocket or picking a purse, is called striking.” Again : “ who taking a proper youth to be his prentice, to teach him the order of strike ing and foifting,” COLLINS.
-malt-worms :--] This cant term for a tippler I find in the Life and Death of Jack Straw, 1593: “You ihall purchase the prayers of all the alewives in town, for faving a malt-worm and a customer.” Again, in Gammer Gurton's Needle. STEEVENS.
4- burgomasters, and great oneyers ;-] “Perhaps, oneraires, trustees, or commiftioners;" says Mr. Pope. But how this word comes to admit of any such eonstruction, I am at a loss to know. To Mr. Pope's second conjecture, “ of cunning men that look sharp, and aim well,” I have nothing to reply seriously : but choose to drop it. The reading which I have lubstituted, I owe to the friendship of the ingenious Nicholas Hardinge, Efq. A moneyer is an officer of the mint, who makes coin, and delivers out the king's money. Moneyers are also taken for bankers, or those that make it their trade to turn and return money. Ei. ther of these acceptations will admirably square with our author's context. THEOBALD.
This is a very acute and judicious attempt at emendation, and is not undeservedly adopted by Dr. Warburton. Sir Thomas Hanmer reads great owners, not without equal or greater likelihood of truth. I know not however whether any change is necessary; Gads-hill tells the Chamberlain that he is joined with no mean wretches, but with burgomafters and great ones, or as he terms them in merriment by a cant termination, great oneyers, or great. one-éers, as we say, privateer, auctioneer, circuiteer. This is, I fancy, the whole of the matter. Johnson.
By onyers, (for so I believe the word ought to be written) I un. derstand publick accountants; men possessed of large sums of money belonging to the state. It is the course of the Court of Exchequer, great oneyers; such as can hold in; s such as will ftrike sooner than speak, and speak sooner than
when the sheriff makes up his accounts for issues, amerciaments, and meine profits, to set upon his head 0.ni. which denotes oneratur nisi habeat sufficientem exonerationem : he thereupon becomes the king's debtor, and the parties peravaile (as they are termed in law) for whom he answers, become his debtors, and are discharged as with respect to the king.
To settle accounts in this manner, is still called in the Es. chequer to ony; and from hence Shakespeare seems to have formed the word onyers.—The Chamberlain had a little before mentioned, among the travellers whom he thought worth plundering, an officer of the Exchequer, “ a kind of auditor, one that hath abundance of charge too - God knows what." This interpretation is further confirmed by what Gads-hill says in the next scene : “ There's money of the king's coming down the hill; 'tis going to the king's Exchequer.” MALONE.
such as will frike sooner than speak; and speak fooner than drink; and drink sooner than pray :-) According to the specimen given us in this play, of this dissolute gang, we have no reason to think they were less ready to drink than speak. Besides, it is plain, a natural gradation was here intended to be given of their actions, relative to one another. But what has speaking, drinking, and praying to do with one another? We should certainly read third in both places instead of drink; and then we have a very regular and humourous climax. They will strike sooner than Speak; and speak sooner than think; and think sooner than pray. By which lait words is meant, that "though perhaps they may now and then reflect on their crimes, they will never repent of them.” The Oxford editor has dignified this correction by his adoption of it.
WARBURTON. I am in doubt about this paffage. There is yet a part unexplained. What is the meaning of such as can hold in ? It cannot mean such as can keep their ozun fecrét, for they will, he says, Speak sooner than think : it cannot mean such as will go calmly to work suithout unuccesary violence, such as is used by long-staff strikers, for the following part will not suit with this meaning; and though we should read by transposition such as will speak fooner than ftrike, the climax will not proceed regularly. I must leave it as it is.
Johnson. Such as can hold in, may mean, such as can curb old-father antic the lar«, or fuch as will not blab. STEEVENS.
Turbcrvile’s Book on Hunting, 1575, p. 37, mentions huntsmen on horseback to make yourg hounds “bc.d in and clofe” to the old
. 299 drink, and drink sooner than pray: And yet I lie; for they pray continually unto 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 common-wealth their boots ? will she hold out water in foul way?
Gads. “She will, she will; justice hath liquor'a her. We steal as in a castle', cock-fure; 8 we have the receipt of fern-seed, we walk invisible.
ones: so Gads-hill may mean, that he is joined with such companions as will hold in, or keep and stick close to one another, and such as are men of deeds, and not of words; and yet they love to talk and speak their mind freely better than to drink. TOLLET.
She will, she will; juftice hath liquor'd her.—] A fatire on chicane in courts of justice; which supports ill men in their violations of the law, under the very cover of it. WARBURTON.
1 as in a casile ; —-] This was once a proverbial phrase. So, in the Little French Lawyer of Beaumont and Fletcher :
“ That noble courage we have seen, and we
“ Shall fight as in a castle.” Perhaps Shakespeare 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. So, in K. Hen. VI. P. I. act III. sc. i:
• Yes, as an outlaw in a castle keeps,
we have the receipt of fern-seed, —- ) Fern is one of those plants which have their feed on the back of the leaf so small as to escape the fight. Those who perceived that ferr was propagated by semination, and yet could never see the seed, were much at a lofs for a solution of the difficulty; and as wonder always endeavours to augment itself, they ascribed to fern-feed many strange properties, fome of which the rustick virgins have not yet forgotten or exploded. Johnson.
This circumstance relative to fern-feed is alluded to in B. and Fletcher's Fair Maid of the Inn :
-had you Gyges' ring, " Or the herb that gives invisibility ?” Again, in B. Jonson's New Inn:
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', as I am a true man.
Cham. 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 oftler bring my gelding out of the stable. Farewel, you muddy knave. [Exeunt.
The road by Gads-bill.
P. Henry. Stand close.
" No medicine, fir, to go invisible,
" No fern-feed in my pocket." Again, in P. Holland's Translation of Pliny, b. xxvii. ch. 9: ** Of ferne be two kinds, and they beare neither floure nor feed."
STEEVENS. 9-purchase,] Is the term used in law for any thing not inherited but acquired. JOHNSON.
in our purchase-] Purchase was anciently the cant term for stolen goods. So, in H-nry V. act III:
“ They will steal any thing, and call it purchase.” So, Chaucer :
" And robbery is holde purchase." STEEVENS.
-Homo is a--name &c.] Gads-hill had promised as he was a true man; the Chamberlain wills him to promise rather as a false thief; to which Gads-hill anfwers, that though he might have reason to change the word truc, he might have spared man, for homo is a name common to all men, and among others to thieves.
JOHNSON. -like a gumm'd velvet.] This allusion we often meet with in the old comedies. So, in the Malecontent, 1606: “ I'll come ainong you, like gum into taffata, to fret, fret." STEEVENS.
P. Henry. Peace, ye fat-kidney'd rascal ; What a brawling dost thou keep?
Fah What, Poins! Hal!
P. Henry. He is walk'd up to the top of the hill ; I'll go seek him. Fal
. I am accurft to rob in that thief's company : the rascal hath remov'd my horse, and ty'd him I know not where. If I travel but s four foot by the square further afoot, I shall break my wind. Well, I doubt not but to die a fair death for all this, if I 'scape hanging for killing that rogue. I have forsworn his company hourly any time this two and twenty year, and yet I am.bewitch'd with the rogue's company. If the rascal have not given me 4 medicines to make me love him, I'll be hang'd; it could not be else; I have drunk medicines.—Poins !-Hal !-a plague upon you both !-Bardolph !--Peto !-I'll starve ere I'll rob a foot further. An’twere not as good a deed as
his poems :
four foot by the Square ---] The thought is humourous, and alludes to his bulk : insinuating, that his legs being four foot asunder, when he advanced four foot, this put together made four foot square. WARBURTON.
I am in doubt whether there is so much humour here as is suspected: Four foot by the square is probably no more than four foot by a rule. JOHNSON. Dr. Johnson is certainly right. Bifhop Corbet says in one of
“Some twelve foot by the square," FARMER. All the old copies read by the squire, which points out the etye mology-esquierre, Fr. The fame phrase occurs in the Winter's Tale : 6
not the worst of the three, but jumps twelve foot and a half by the Square." STEEVENS. medicines to make me love him, —] Alluding
-to the vulgar notion of love-powder. Johnson.
-rob a foot further. -] This is only a slight error, which yet has run through all the copies. We should read-rub a foot. So we now fay-rub on. JOHNSON. Why may it not mean, I will not go a foot further to rob?