Слике страница


A Room in Page's House.

Enter FENTON and Mistress ANNE PAGE. Fent. I see, I cannot get thy father's love; Therefore, no more turn me to him, sweet Nan. Anne. Alas! how then?


Why, thou must be thyself.

He doth object, I am too great of birth;

And that, my state being gall'd with my expense,

I seek to heal it only by his wealth:

Besides these, other bars he lays before me,-
My riots past, my wild societies;

And tells me, 'tis a thing impossible
I should love thee, but as a property.
Anne. May be, he tells you true.

Fent. No, heaven so speed me in my time to come! Albeit, I will confess, thy father's wealth

Was the first motive that I woo'd thee, Anne:
Yet, wooing thee, I found thee of more value

Than stamps in gold, or sums in sealed bags;
And 'tis the very riches of thyself

That now I aim at.


Gentle master Fenton,

Yet seek my father's love: still seek it, sir:
If opportunity and humblest suit

Cannot attain it, why then-Hark you hither.

[They converse apart.

Enter SHALLOW, SLENDER, and Mrs. QUICKLY. Shal. Break their talk, mistress Quickly; my kinsman shall speak for himself.

4 -father's wealth -] Some light may be given to those who shall endeavour to calculate the increase of English wealth, by observing, that Latymer, in the time of Edward VI, mentions it as a proof of his father's prosperity, That though but a yeoman, he gave his daughters five pounds each for her portion. At the lat ter end of Elizabeth, seven hundred pounds were such a temptation to courtship, as made all other motives suspected. Congreve makes twelve thousand pounds more than a counterbalance to the affectation of Belinda. No poet will now fly his favourite character at less than fifty thousand. Johnson.

Slen. I'll make a shaft or a bolt on 't:5 slid, 'tis but venturing.

Shal. Be not dismay'd.

Slen. No, she shall not dismay me: I care not for that, but that I am afeard.

Quick. Hark ye; master Slender would speak a word with you.

Anne. I come to him. This is my father's choice. O, what a world of vile ill-favour'd faults Looks handsome in three hundred pounds a year!

[Aside. Quick. And how does good master Fenton? Pray you, a word with you.

Shal. She's coming; to her, coz. O boy, thou hadst a father!

Slen I had a father, mistress Anne;-my uncle can tell you good jests of him:-Pray you, uncle, tell mistress Anne the jest, how my father stole two geese out of a pen, good uncle.

Shal. Mistress Anne, my cousin loves you.

Slen. Ay, that I do; as well as I love any woman in Glocestershire.

Shal. He will maintain you like a gentlewoman.

Slen. Ay, that I will, come cut and long-tail, under the degree of a 'squire.

5 I'll make a shaft or a bolt on 't:] To make a bolt or a shaft of a thing is enumerated by Ray, amongst others, in his collection of proverbial phrases. Ray's Proverbs, p. 179, edit. 1742.

So, in a letter from James Howell, dated 19 Aug. 1623: "The prince is preparing for his journey. I shall to it again closely when he is gone, or make a shaft or bolt of it." Howell's Letters, p. 146, edit. 1754. Reed.

The shaft was such an arrow as skilful archers employed. The bolt in this proverb means, I think, the fool's bolt. Malone.

A shaft was a general term for an arrow. A bolt was a thick short one, with a knob at the end of it. It was only employed to shoot birds with, and was commonly called a "bird-bolt." The word occurs again in Much Ado about Nothing, Love's Labour's Lost, and Twelfth Night. Steevens.

6 come cut and long-tail,] i. e. come poor, or rich, to offer himself as my rival. The following is said to be the origin of the phrase:-According to the forest laws, the dog of a man, who had no right to the privilege of chace, was obliged to cut, or law his dog among other modes of disabling him, by depriving him

Shal. He will make you a hundred and fifty pounds jointure.

of his tail. A dog so cut was called a cut, or curt-tail, and by contraction cur. Cut and long-tail therefore signified the dog of a clown, and the dog of a gentleman.

Again, in The First Part of the Eighth Liberal Science, entitled Ars Adulandi, &c. devised and compiled by Ulpian Fulwel, 1576: - yea, even their very dogs, Rug, Rig, and Risbie, yea, cut and long-taile, they shall be welcome." Steevens.

―come cut and long-tail,] I can see no meaning in this phrase. Slender promises to make his mistress a gentlewoman, and probably means to say, he will deck her in a gown of the court-cut, and with a long train or tail. In the comedy of Eastward Hoe, is this passage: "The one must be ladyfied forsooth, and be attired just to the court cut and long tayle," which seems to justify our reading-Court cut and long tail. Sir J. Hawkins. come cut and long-tail,] This phrase is often found in old plays, and seldom, if ever, with any variation. The change therefore proposed by Sir John Hawkins cannot be received, without great violence to the text. Whenever the words occur, they always bear the same meaning, and that meaning is obvious enough without any explanation. The origin of the phrase may however admit of some dispute, and it is by no means certain that the account of it, here adopted by Mr. Steevens from Dr. Johnson, is well-founded. That there ever existed such a mode of disqualifying dogs by the laws of the forest, as is here asserted, cannot be acknowledged without evidence, and no authority is quoted to prove that such a custom at any time prevailed. The writers on this subject are totally silent, as far as they have come to my knowledge. Manwood, who wrote on the Forest Laws before they were entirely disused, mentions expeditation or cutting off three claws of the fore-foot, as the only manner of lawing dogs; and with his account, the Charter of the Forest seems to agree. Were I to offer a conjecture, I should suppose that the phrase originally referred to horses, which might be denominated cut and long tail, as they were curtailed of this part of their bodies, or allowed to enjoy its full growth; and this might be practised according to the difference of their value, or the uses to which they were put. In this view, cut and long tail would include the whole species of horses good and bad. In support of this opinion it may be added, that formerly a cut was a word of reproach in vulgar colloquial abuse, and I believe is never to be found applied to horses, except to those of the worst kind. After all, if any authority can be produced to countenance Dr. Johnson's explanation, I shall be ready to retract every thing that is here said. See also a note on The Match at Midnight, Dodsley's Collection of Old Plays, Vol. VII, p. 424, edit. 1780.


The last conversation I had the honour to enjoy with Sir William Blackstone, was on this subject; and by a series of

[ocr errors]

Anne. Good master Shallow, let him woo for himself.

Shal. Marry, I thank you for it; thank you for that

good comfort. She calls you, coz; I'll leave you.
Anne. Now, master Slender.

Slen. Now, good mistress Anne.
Anne. What is your will?

Slen. My will? od's heartlings, that 's a pretty jest, indeed! I ne'er made my will yet, I thank heaven; I am not such a sickly creature, I give heaven praise.

Anne. I mean, master Slender, what would you with me?

Slen. Truly, for mine own part, I would little or nothing with you: Your father, and my uncle, have rade motions: if it be my luck, so if not, happy man be his dole! They can tell you how things go, better than I can: You may ask your father; hele he comes. Enter PAGE, and Mistress PAGE.

Page. Now, master Slender: Love him, daughter

Why, how now! what does master Fenton here?
You wrong me, sir, thus still to haunt my house:
I told you, sir, my daughter is dispos'd of.

Fent. Nay, master Page, be not impatient.

Mrs. Page. Good master Fenton, come not to my


Page. She is no match for you.

Fent. Sir, will you hear me?

Page. No, good master Fenton. Come, master Shallow; come, son Slender; in::Knowing my mind, you wrong me, master Fenton. [Exeunt PAGE, SHAL. and SLEN.

Quick. Speak to mistress Page.

accurate references to the whole collection of ancient Forest Laws, he convinced me of our repeated error, expeditation and genuscission, being the only established and technical modes ever used for disabling the canine species. Part of the tails of spaniels, indeed, are generally cut off (ornamenti gratia) while they are puppies, so that (admitting a loose description) every kind of dog is comprehended in the phrase of cut and long-tail, and every rank of people in the same expression, if metaphorically used. Steevens.

[ocr errors]

happy man be his dole!] A proverbial expression. See Ray's Collection, p. 116, edit. 1737. Steevens.

Fent. Good mistress Page, for that I love your daughter

In such a righteous fashion as I do,

Perforce, against all checks, rebukes, and manners,
I must advance the colours of my love,8

And not retire: Let me have your good will.

Anne. Good mother, do not marry me to yond' fool. Mrs. Page. I mean it not; I seek you a better husband.

Quick. That's my master, master doctor.

Anne. Alas, I had rather be set quick i' the earth, And bowl'd to death with turnips. 9


Mrs. Page. Come, trouble not yourself: Good master Fenton

I will not be your friend, nor enemy:

My daughter will I question how she loves you,
And as I find her, so am I affected;

'Till then, farewel, sir:-She must needs go in;
Her father will be angry.

[Exeunt Mrs. PAGE and Anne. Fent. Farewel, gentle mistress; farewel, Nan.1


Quick. This is my doing now;-Nay, said I, will you cast away your child on a fool, and a physician? on master Fenton:-this is my doing.

8 I must advance the colours of my love,] The same metaphor occurs in Romeo and Juliet :


"And death's pale flag is not advanced there." Steevens. be set quick i the earth,

And bowl'd to death with turnips.] This is a common proverb in the southern counties. I find almost the same expression in Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair: "Would I had been set in the ground, all but the head of me, and had my brains bowl'd at.” Collins.

1 Farewel, gentle mistress; farewel, Nan.] Mistress is here used as a trissyllable. Malone.

If mistress can be pronounced as a trissyllable, the line will still be uncommonly defective in harmony. Perhaps a monosyllable has been omitted, and we should read


"Farewel, my gentle mistress; farewel, Nan." Steevens.

fool, and a physician?] I should read-fool or a physician, meaning Slender and Caius. Johnson.

Sir Thomas Hanmer reads according to Dr. Johnson's conjecture. This may be right.-Or my Dame Quickly may allude to

« ПретходнаНастави »