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9 Bard. [to the boy.) Come, you virtuous ass, you bashful fool, must you be blushing? wherefore blush you now? What a maidenly man at arms are you become? Is it such a matter to get a pottle-por’s maidenhead?
Page. He calld me even now, my lord, through a red lattice, and I could discern no part of his face from the window : at last I spy'd his eyes, and methought he had made two holes in the ale-wife's new petticoat, and peep'd through.
P. Henry. Hath not the boy profited ?
Page. Marry, my lord, i Althea dream’ú fhe was deliver'd of a firebrand; and therefore I call him her dream.
P. Henry. A crown’s-worth of good interpretation. - There it is, boy.
[Gives him money. Poins. O that this good blossom could be kept from cankers! Well, there is fix-pence to preserve thee.
Bard. An you do not make him be hang'd among you, the gallows shall have wrong.
P. Henry. And how doth thy master, Bardolph ?
Bard. Well, my good lord; he heard of your grace's coming to town. There's a letter for you.
9 Poins. Come, you virtuous ass, &c.] Though all editions give this speech to Poins, it seems evident, by the page's immediate reply, that it must be placed to Bardolph: for Bardolph had called to the boy from an ale-house, and, 'tis likely, made him half-drunk; and, the boy being alhamed of it, it is natural for Bardolph, a bold unbred fellow, to banter him on his aukward bathfulness. THEOBALD.
"-Althea dream'd, &c.] Shakespeare is here mistaken in his mythology, and has confounded Althea's firebrand with Hecuba's. The firebrand of Althea was real: but Hecuba, when she was big with Paris, dreamed that he was delivered of a firebrand that consumed the kingdom. JOHNSON.
P. Henry. Deliver'd with good respect.-And how doth 2 the Martlemas, your master ?
Bard. In bodily health, Sir.
Poins. Marry, the immortal part needs a physician: but that moves not him; though that be sick, it dies not.
P. Henry. I do allow 3 this wen to be as familiar with me as my dog: and he holds his place; for, look you, how he writes.
Poins reads. John Falstaff, knight, -Every man must know that, as oft as he hath occasion to name himself. Even like those that are kin to the king; for they never prick their finger, but they say, there is some of the king's blood spilt. How comes that? fays he that takes upon him not to conceive : 4 the answer is as ready as a borrow'd cap; I am the king's poor cousin, Sir.
P. Henry. Nay, they will be kin to us, or they will fetch it from Japhet. But to the letter.
Poins. Sir John Faltaf, knight, to the son of the king, nearest his father, Harry prince of Wales, greeting: Why, this is a certificate.
the Martlemas, your master?] That is, the autumn, or rather the latter spring. The old fellow with juvenile palfions. JOHNSON. this wen-) This swoln excrescence of a man.
Johnson. the answer is as ready as a borrow'd cap ;-] But how is a borrow'd cap so ready? Read a borrower's cap, and then there is some humour in it: for a man that goes to borrow money, is of all others the most complaisant; his cap is always at hand.
WARBURTON. A berrow'd cap;-) What is borrowed is ready to be returned when the owner calls for it; or when we consider that the speaker is a thief, by his own confession, and that to berrow was the common cant term for the act of stealing, it may mean, that the answer was as ready at hand as any thing that lay in the way of a thief. I fee no need of alteration.
5 P. Henry. Peace!
Poins, 6 I will imitate the honourable Roman in brevity. Sure he means brevity in breath; short-winded. I commend me to thee, I commend thee, and I leave thee. Be not too familiar with Poins ; for he misuses thy favours so much, that he swears thou art to merry his fifter Nell. Repent at idle times as thou may'st, and so farewell. Thine, by yea and no; which is as much as to Jay, as thou useft him. Jack Falstaff with my familiars ; John with
my brothers and sisters; and Sir John with all Europe. My lord, I will steep this letter in fack, and make him eat it.
P. Henry. 7 That's to make him eat twenty of his words. But do you use me thus, Ned? must I marry
? Poins. May the wench have no worse fortune! But I never faid so.
P. Henry. Well, thus we play the fool with the time, and the spirits of the wise fit in the clouds and mock us.
Is your master here in London ? Bard. Yes, my lord.
5 P. Henry.] All the editors, except Sir Thomas Hanmer, have left this letter in confusion, making the prince read part, and Poins part. I have followed his correction.
JOHNSON, o I will imitate the honourable Roman in brevity.) The old copy reads Romans, which Dr. Warburton very properly corrected, though he is wrong when he appropriates the character to M. Brutus, who affected great brevity of file. I suppose by the honourable Roman is intended Julius Cæsar, whose veni, vidi, vici seems to be alluded to in the beginning of the letter. I commend me to thee, I commend thee, and I leave thee. The very words of Cæsar are afterwards quoted by Falstaff. REVISAL.
? That's to make him eat twenty of his words.] Why juít twenty, when the letter contained above eight times tweniy? We should read plenty; and in this word the joke, as fiender as it is, consists. WARBURTON.
It is not surely uncommon to put a certain number for an uncertain one. STEVENS.
P. Henry. Where sups he? doth the old boar feed - in the old : frank?
Bard. At the old place, my lord; in East-cheap.
Page. None, my lord, but old mistress Quickly and mistress Doll Tear-sheet.
P. Henry. 1 What Pagan may
Pege. A proper gentlewoman, Sir, and a kinswoman of iny master's.
P. Henry. Even such kin as the parish heifers are to the town bull. Shall we steal upon them, Ned, at supper?
Poins. I am your shadow, my lord; I'll follow you.
P. Henry. Sirrah, you boy, and Bardolph ;-no word to your master that I am yet come to town. There's for your filence.
Bard. I have no tongue, Sir.
it. P. Henry. Fare ye well: go. This Doll Tear-sheet should be some road.
Poins. I warrant you, as common as the way between St. Albans and London.
P. Henry. How might we see Falstaff bestow himself to-night in his true colours, and not ourselves be fen?
frank?) Frank is fty. Pope. 9 Ephesians, &c.] Ephesian was a term in the cant of these times, of which I know not the precise notion : it was, perhaps, a toper. So the host in The Merry Wives of Windsor,
“ It is thine hoft, thine Epbchan calls.” JOHNSON.
“ Three little children; one of them was mine
Poins. 2 Put on two leather jerkins and aprons, and wait upon him at his table as drawers.
P. Henry. From a god to a bull? 3 a heavy descenfion! It was Jove's cafe. From a prince to a prentice ? a low transformation! that shall be mine : for in every thing the purpose must weigh with the folly. Follow me, Ned,
Warkworth castle. Enter Northumberland, lady Northumberland, and lody
North. I pray thee, loving wife, and gentle daugh
L. North. I have given over, I will speak no more: Do what you will; your wisdom be your guide.
2 Put on two leather jerkins) This was a plot very un. likely to succed where the prince and the drawers were all known. but it produces merriment, which our author found more useful than probability. JOHNSON.
a heavy dejcenfion!] Other readings have it declenfion. Mr. Pope chose the first. On which Mr. Theobald says, “ But why not declension ? are not the terms properly “ fynonimous?" If so, might not Mr. Pope fay, in his turn, then why not defcenfion? But it is not fo; and defcenfion was preferred with judgment: for defcenfion fignifics a voluntary going down; declenfon, a natural and neccilary. Thus when we speak of the sun pretically, as a charioteer, we should say his defcenfion : if physically, as a mere globe of light, his declension.
WARBURTON. Defcenfion is the reading of the first edition.
Mr. Upton proposes that we should read thus by tranfpofition. From a god to a bull, a low transformation! - from a prince to a prentice, a heavy declension! This reading is elegant, and perhaps right. JOHNSON,