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fir John Falstaffs, he shall not abuse Robert Shal. low, esquire.
Slen. In the county of Glofter, justice of peace, and coram.
Shal. Ay, cousin Slender, and Cuft-alorum."
Sir seems to have been a title formerly appropriated to such of the inferior clergy as were only Readers of the service, and not admitted to be preachers, and therefore were held in the lowest estimation ; as appears from a remarkable passage in Machell's Mr. Colle&tions for the history of Westmoreland and Cumberland, in fix volumes, folio, preserved in the Dean and Chapter's library at Carlille. The reverend Thomas Machell, author of the Collections, lived temp. Car. II. Speaking of the little chapel of Martindale in the mountains of Westmoreland and Cumberland, the writer says, • There is little remarkable in or about it, but a neat chapelyard, which by the peculiar care of the
* Richard Berket, old Reader, Sir Richard, * is kept clean, and
Reader, Æt. 74 as neat as a bowling-green."
Mf. note. « Within the limits of myne own memory all Readers in chapels were called Sirs,t and of old have been writ so; whence, I suppose, such of the laity as received the noble order of knighthood being called Sirs too, for distinction fake had Knight writ after them; which had been fuperfluous, if the title of Sir had been peculiar to them. But now this Sir Richard is the only Knight Templar (if I may so call him) that retains the old style, which in other places is much laid aside, and grown out of use." Percy,
See Mr. Douce's observations on the title “ Sir," (as given to Ecclesiasticks) at the end of AC V.-The length of this curious Memoir obliges me to disjoin it from the page to which it naturally belongs. Stevens,
3 a Star-chamber matter of it:] Ben Jonson intimates, that the Star-chamber had a right to take cognizance of such matters. See The Magnetic Lady, Act III. sc. iv:
“ There is a court above, of the Star-chamber,
“ To punish routs and riots.” Steevens. 4 - Cuft-alorum.] This is, I suppose, intended for a corruption of Cuftos Rotulorum. The miftake was hardly designed by the
+ In the margin is a Ml. note seemingly in the hand-writing of Bp. Nicholson, who gave these volumes to the library :
“ Since I can remember there was not a reader in any chapel but was called Sir,"
Slen. Ay, and ratolorum too; and a gentleman born, master parson; who writes himself armigero ;' in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation, armigero.
SHAL. Ay, that we do ;' and have done? any time these three hundred years.
Slen. All his successors, gone before him, have done't; and all his ancestors, that come after him, may: they may give the dozen white luces in their coat.
SHAL. It is an old coat.
author, who, though he gives Shallow folly enough, makes him rather pedantic than illiterate. If we read :
“ Shal. Ay, cousin Slender, and Custos Rotulorum.” It follows naturally:
“ Slen. Ay, and Ratolorum too." JOHNSON. I think with Dr. Johnson, that this blunder could scarcely be intended. Shallow, we know, had been bred to the law at Clement's Inn.-But I would rather read cuftos only; then Slender add naturally, Ay, and rotulorum too." He had heard the words cuftos rotulorum, and supposes them to mean different offices. ·
FARMER. Perhaps Shakspeare might have intended to ridicule the abbreviations sometimes used in writs and other legal instruments, with which his Justice might have been acquainted. In the old copy
the word is printed Cuft-alorum, as it is now exhibited in the text. If, however, this was intended, it should be Cuft-ulorum; and, it must be owned, abbreviation by cutting off the beginning of a word is not authorized by any precedent, except what we may suppose to have existed in Shallow's imagination. MALONE.
who writes himself armigero ;] Slender had seen the Justice's attestations, signed " _jurat coram me, Roberto Shallow, Armigero;" and therefore takes the ablative for the nominative case of Armiger. Steevens.
6_Ay, that we do ;] The old copy reads" that I do." The present emendation was suggested to me by Dr. Farmer.
STEVENS. and have done -] i.e. all the Shallows have done, Shakspeare has many expressions equally licentious. Malons. Vol. III.
Eva. The dozen white louses do become an old coat well;? it agrees well, passant: it is a familiar beast to man, and signifies-love.
Shal. The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat.
7 The dozen white loufes do become an old coat well; &c.] So, in The Penniless Parliament of thread-bare Poets, 1608: « But amongst all other decrees and statutes by us here set downe, wee ordaine and commaund, that three thinges (if they be not parted) ever to continue in perpetuall amitie, that is, a Laufe in an olde doublet, a painted cloth in a painter's shop, and a foole and his bable." STEEVENS.
8 The luce is the fresh fish ; the salt fish is an old coat.] That is, the fresh fish is the coat of an ancient family, and the falt fijf is the coat of a merchant grown rich by trading over the sea.
JOHNSON I am not satisfied with any thing that has been offered on this difficult passage.
All that Mr. Smith told us was a mere gratis di&tum. [His note, being worthless, is here omitted.] I cannot find that fali fish were ever really borne in heraldry. I fancy the latter part of the speech should be given to fir Hugh, who is at cross purposes with the Justice. Shallow had said just before, the coat is an old one ; and now, that it is the luce, the fresh fish.—No, replies the parson, it cannot be old and fresh too_" the salt fill is an old coat." I give this with rather the more confidence, as a fimilar mistake has happened a little lower in the scene,-“ Slice, I fay!" cries out Corporal Nym, “ Pauca, pauca : Slice! that's my humour.” There can be no doubt, but pauca, pauca, should be spoken by Evans :
Again, a little before this, the copies give us :
“ Shallow. That he will not-'tis your fault, 'tis your fault :'tis a good dog."
Surely it should be thus :
This fugitive scrap of Latin, pauca, &c. is used in several old pieces, by characters who have no more of literature about them, than Nym. So Skinke, in Look about you, 1600:
“ But pauca verba, Skinke." Again, in Every man in his Humour, where it is called the beachers' phraje. STEVENS.
Slen. I may quarter, coz?
Shakspeare seems to frolick here in his heraldry, with a design not to be easily understood. In Leland's Collectanea, Vol. I. P. II. p. 615. the arms of Geffrey de Lucy are “ de goules poudre a croisil dor a treis luz dor.” Can the poet mean to quibble upon the word poudré, that is, powdred, which fignifies falted; or ftrewed and sprinkled with any thing? In Measure for Measure, Lucio says
your fresh whore and your powder'd bawd." Toller. The luce is a pike or jack : So, in Chaucer's Prol. of the Cant. Tales, Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. pp. 351, 352.
“ Full many a fair partrich hadde he in mewe,
“ And many a breme, and many a luce in ftewe." In Ferne's Blazon of Gentry, 1586, quarto, the arms of the Lucy family are represented as an instance, that “ signs of the coat hould something agree with the name. It is the coat of Geffray Lord Lucy. He did bear gules, three lucies hariant, argent."
Mr. William Oldys, (Norroy King at Arms, and well known from the share he had in compiling the Biographia Britannica, among the collections which he left for a Life of Shakspeare,) observes, that — " there was a very aged gentleman living in the neighbourhood of Stratford, (where he died fifty years since) who had not only heard, from several old people in that town, of Shakspeare's transgression, but could remember the first stanza of that bitter ballad, which, repeating to one of his acquaintance, he preserved it in writing; and here it is, neither better nor worse, but faithfully transcribed from the copy which his relation very coprteously communicated to me."
“ A parliement member, a justice of peace,
• He thinks himself greate,
“ Yet an affe in his state,
Sing lowfie Lucy, whatever befall it." “ Contemptible as this performance must now appear, at the time when it was written it might have had fufficient power to irritate a vain, weak, and vindictive magistrate; especially as it was affixed to several of his park-gates, and consequently publithed among his neighbours. It may be remarked likewise, that the jingle on which it turns, occurs in the first scene of The Merry Wives of Windfor."
Eva. It is marring indeed, if he quarter it.
Ev A. Yes, py'r-lady; if he has a quarter of your coat, there is but three skirts for yourself, in my simple conjectures : but that is all one: If fir John Falstaff have committed disparagements unto you, I am of the church, and will be glad to do my benevolence, to make atonements and compromises between you.
Shal. The Council shall hear it; it is a riot.
I may add, that the veracity of the late Mr. Oldys has never yet been impeached ; and it is not very probable that a ballad Ihould be forged, from which an undiscovered wag could derive no triumph over antiquarian credulity. Steevens.
The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat.] Our alithor here alludes to the arms of Sir Thomas Lucy, who is said to have prosecuted him in the younger part of his life for a misdemesnor, and who is supposed to be pointed at under the character of Justice Shallow. The text however, by fome carelessness of the printer or transcriber, has been fo corrupted, that the passage, as it stands at present, seems inexplicable. Dr. Farmer's regulation appears to me highly probable; and in further support of it, it may be observed, that some other speeches, beside those he has mentioned, are misplaced in a subsequent part of this scene, as exhibited in the first folio. MALONE.
Perhaps we have not yet conceived the humour of Master Shalloru. Slender has observed, that the family might give a dozen wbiz Luces in their coat; to which the Justice adds, " It is an old ore.
." This produces the Parson's blunder, and Shallow's correction. “ The Luce is not the Louse but the Pike, the fresh fifth of that name. Indeed our Coat is old, as I said, and the fis cannot be fresh; and therefore we bear the white, i. e. the pickled or falt-fijk.”
In the Northumberland Household Book, we meet with “ nine barrels of white herringe for a hole yere, 4. 10. 0:” and Mr. Pennant in the additions to his London says, “ By the very high price of the Pike, it is probable that this fish had not yet been introduced into our ponds, but was imported as a luxury, pickled." It will be still clearer if we read'i tho' faltfith in an old coat."
FARMIR. 9 The Council fall hear it; it is a riot.) By the Council is only meant the court of star-chamber, composed chiefly of the king's