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Slen. How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I heard say, he was out-run on Cotsale.6
Page. It could not be judg'd, sir.
Slen. You'll not confess, you'll not confess.
Shal. That he will not;-'tis your fault, 'tis your fault:-'Tis a good dog.
6 How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I heard say, he was out run on Cotsale.] He means Cotswold, in Gloucestershire. In the beginning of the reign of James the First, by permission of the king, one Dover, a public-spirited attorney of Barton on the Heath, in Warwickshire, instituted on the hills of Cotswold an annual celebration of games, consisting of rural sports and exercises. These he constantly conducted in person, well mounted, and accoutred in a suit of his majesty's old clothes; and they were frequented above forty years by the nobility and gentry for sixty miles round, till the grand rebellion abolished every liberal establishment. I have seen a very scarce book, entitled, " Annalia Dubrensia, Upon the yearly celebration of Mr. Robert Dover's Olympick games upon Cotswold hills," &c. London, 1636, 4to. There are recommendatory verses prefixed, written by Drayton, Jonson, Randolph, and many others, the most eminent wits of the times. The games, as appears from a curious frontispiece, were, chiefly, wrestling, leaping, pitching the bar, handling the pike, dancing of women, various kinds of hunting, and particularly coursing the hare with greyhounds. Hence, also we see the meaning of another passage, where Falstaff, or Shallow, calls a stout fellow a Cotswold-man. But, from what is here said, an inference of another kind may be drawn, respecting the age of the play. A meagre and imperfect sketch of this comedy was printed in 1602. Afterwards Shakspeare new-wrote it entirely. This allusion therefore to the Cotswold games, not founded till the reign of James the First, ascertains a period of time beyond which our author must have made the additions to his original rough draft, or, in other words, composed the present comedy. James the First came to the crown in the year 1603. And we will suppose that two or three more years at least must have passed before these games could have been effectually established. I would therefore, at the earliest, date this play about the year 1607. T. Warton.
The Annalia Dubrensia consists entirely of recommendatory verses. Douce.
The Cotswold hills in Gloucestershire are a large tract of downs, famous for their fine turf, and therefore excellent for coursing. I believe there is no village of that name. Blackstone. 'tis your fault, 'tis your fault:] Of these words, which are addressed to Page, the sense is not very clear. Perhaps Shallow means to say, that it is a known failing of Page's not to confess that his dog has been out-run. Or, the meaning may be 'tis your misfortune that he was out-run on Cotswold; he is, however,
Page. A cur, sir.
Shal. Sir, he's a good dog, and a fair dog; Can there be more said? he is good, and fair.-Is sir John Falstaff here?
Page. Sir, he is within; and I would I could do a good office between you.
Eva. It is spoke as a christians ought to speak.
Shal. He hath wrong'd me, master Page.
Page, Sir, he doth in some sort confess it.
Shal. If it be confess'd, it is not redress'd; is not that so, master Page? He hath wrong'd me; indeed, he hath; at a word, he hath;-believe me;-Robert Shallow, Esquire, saith, he is wrong'd.
Page. Here comes sir John.
Enter Sir JOHN FALSTAFF, BARDOLPH, NYM, and
Fal. Now, master Shallow; you'll complain of me to the king?
Shal. Knight, you have beaten my men, killed my deer, and broke open my lodge.9
Fal. But not kiss'd your keeper's daughter?
Shal. Tut, a pin! this shall be answer❜d.
Fal. I will answer it straight;—I have done all this: That is now answer'd.
Shal. The Council shall know this.
Fal. "Twere better for you, if it were known in counsel:1 you'll be laugh'd at.
a good dog. So perhaps the word is used afterwards by Ford, speaking of his jealousy:
""Tis my fault, master Page; I suffer for it." Malone. Perhaps Shallow addresses these words to Slender, and means to tell him, "it was his fault to unde: value a dog, whose inferiority in the chase was not ascertained." Steevens.
and broke open my lodge.] This probably alludes to some real incident, at that time well known. Johnson.
So probably Falstaff's answer. Farmer.
1 'Twere better for you, if it were known in counsel:] The old copies read-Twere better for you, if 'twere known in council. Perhaps it is an abrupt speech, and must be read thus:—'Twere better for you-if 'twere known in council, you'll be laugh'd at. 'Twere better for you, is, I believe, a menace. Johnson.
Some of the modern editors arbitrarily read-if 'twere not known in council:-but I believe Falstaff quibbles between council
Eva. Pauca verba, sir John, good worts.
Fal. Good worts! good cabbage.2-Slender, I broke' your head; What matter have you against me?
Slen. Marry, sir, I have matter in my head against you; and against your coney-catching rascals,3 Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol. They carried me to the tavern, and made me drunk, and afterwards picked my pocket.4
Bard. You Banbury cheese!5
and counsel. The latter signifies secrecy. So, in Hamlet: "The players cannot keep counsel, they 'll tell all.”
Falstaff's meaning seems to be-'twere better for you if it were known only in secrecy, i.e. among your friends. A more public complaint would subject you to ridicule. Steevens.
Mr. Ritson supposes the present reading to be just, and quite in Falstaff's insolent sneering manner. "It would be much better, indeed, to have it known in the council, where you would only be laughed at." Reed.
"Mum is Counsell, viz. silence," is among Howel's Proverbial Sentences. See his DICT. folio, 1660.
2 Good worts! good cabbage.] Worts was the ancient name of all the cabbage kind. So, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Valen
"Planting of worts and onions, any thing."
Again, in Tho. Lupton's Seventh Booke of Notable Thinges, 4to. bl. 1. " then anoint the burned place therwith, and lay a woort leafe upon it," &c. Steevens.
3 coney-catching rascals,] A coney-catcher was, in the time of Elizabeth, a common name for a cheat or sharper. Green, one of the first among us, who made a trade of writing pamphlets, published A Detection of the Frauds and Tricks of Coneycatchers and Couzeners. Johnson.
So, in Decker's Satiromastix:
"Thou shalt not coney-catch me for five pounds." Steevens.
4 They carried me, &c.] These words, which are necessary to introduce what Falstaff says afterwards, ["Pistol, did you pick master Slender's purse?"] I have restored from the early quarto. Of this circumstance, as the play is exhibited in the folio, sir John could have no knowledge. Malone.
We might suppose that Falstaff was already acquainted with this robbery, and had received his share of it, as in the case of the handle of mistress Bridget's fan, Act II, sc. ii. His question, therefore, my be said to arise at once from conscious guilt and pretended ignorance. I have, however, adopted Mr. Malone's restoration. Steevens.
5 You Banbury cheese!] This is said, in allusion to the thin carcass of Slender. The same thought occurs in Jack Drum's
Slen. Ay, it is no matter.
Pist. How now, Mephostophilus?6
Nym. Slice, I say! pauca, pauca; slice! that 's my
Slen. Where's Simple, my man?-can you tell, cousin? Eva. Peace: I pray you! Now let us understand: There is three umpires in this matter, as I understand: that is-master Page, fidelicet, master Page; and there is myself, fidelicet, myself; and the three party is, lastly and finally, mine host of the Garter.
Page. We three, to hear it, and end it between them. Eva. Fery goot: I will make a prief of it in my note
Entertainment, 1601. "Put off your clothes, and you are like a Banbury cheese,-nothing but paring." So Heywood, in his collection of epigrams:
"I never saw Banbury cheese thick enough,
"But I have oft seen Essex cheese quick enough." Steevens. 6 How now, Mephostophilus?] This is the name of a spirit or familiar, in the old story book of Sir John Faustus or John Faust: to whom our author afterwards alludes, Act II, sc. ii. That it was a cant phrase of abuse, appears from the old comedy cited above, called A pleasant Comedy of the Gentle Craft, Signat. H 3. Away you Islington whitepot; hence you hopper-arse, you barley-pudding full of maggots, you broiled carbonado: avaunt, avaunt, Mephostophilus." In the same vein, Bardolph here also calls Slender, "You Banbury cheese!" Pistol means to call Slender a very ugly fellow.
te, (Humors) by Richard Turner, 1607:
"O face, no face hath our Theophilus,
"I know 'twould serve, and yet I am no wizard,
"To play the Devil i' the vault without a vizard." Steevens. 7 Slice, I say! pauca, pauca;] Dr. Farmer (see a former note, p. 11, n. 8,) would transfer the Latin words to Evans. But the old copy, I think, is right. Pistol, in K. Henry V, uses the same language:
I will hold the quondam Quickly
"For the only she; and pauca, there's enough." In the same scene Nym twice uses the word solus.
that's my humour.] So, in an ancient MS. play, entitled The Second Maiden's Tragedy:
I love not to disquiet ghosts, sir,
"Of any people living; that's my humour, sir." See a following note, Act II, sc. i. Steevens.
book; and we will afterwards 'ork upon the cause, with as great discreetly as we can.
Pist. He hears with ears.
Eva. The tevil and his tam! what phrase is this,' He hears with ear? Why, it is affectations.
Fal. Pistol, did you pick master Slender's purse?
Slen. Ay, by these gloves, did he, (or I would I might never come in mine own great chamber again else) of seven groats in mill-sixpences,1 and two Edward shovelboards, that cost me two shilling and two pence a-piece of Yead Miller, by these gloves.
what phrase is this, &c.] Sir Hugh is justified in his censure of this passage by Peacham, who in his Garden of Eloquence, 1577, places this very mode of expression under the article Pleonasmus. Henderson.
mill-sixpences,] It appears from a passage in Sir William Davenant's Newes from Plimouth, that these mill-sixpences were used by way of counters to cast up money:
66 A few mill'd sixpences, with which
"My purser casts accompt." Steevens.
Edward shovel-boards,] One of these pieces of metal is mentioned in Middleton's comedy of The Roaring Girl, 1611: away slid I my man, like a shovel-board shilling," &c.
"Edward shovel-boards," were the broad shillings of Edw. VI.Taylor, the water-poet, in his Trauel of Twelve-pence, makes him complain:
the unthrift every day
"With my face downwards do at shoave-board play;
66 They had worne it off, as they have done my nose." And in a note he tells us: "Edw. shillings for the most part are used at shoave-board." Farmer.
In the Second Part of K. Henry IV, Falstaff says, “Quoit him down, Bardolph, like a shove-groat shilling." This confirms Farmer's opinion, that pieces of coin were used for that purpose.
It appears, that the game of shovel-board was played with the shillings of Edward VI, in Shadwell's time; for in his Miser, Act III, sc. i, Cheatly says, " She persuaded him to play with hazard at backgammon, and he has already lost his Edward shillings that he kept for Shovel-board, and was pulling out broad pieces (that have not seen the sun these many years) when I came away."
In Shadwell's Lancashire Witches, Vol. III, p. 232, the game is called Shuffle-board. It is still played; and I lately heard a man