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SHAL. The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat 8.
animal, which Sir Hugh speaks of so kindly, is thus complimented, I suppose, for its fidelity to man; as it does not desert him in distress, but rather sticks more close to him in his adversity. In a Latin tragedy on the subject of Nero by Dr. Matthew Gwinne, 1639, the tyrant exclaims, when deserted by his courtiers:
O aulicorum perfidum ingratum genus
Nec ut pediculus in crucem domino comes. BosWELL.
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 salt fish 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 dictum. [His note, being worthless, is here omitted.] I cannot find that salt fish were ever really borne in heraldry. I fancy the latter part of the speech should be given to Sir 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 fish is an old coat." I give this with rather the more confidence, as a similar mistake has happened a little lower in the scene," Slice, I say!" 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 :
Slender. You'll not confess, you'll not confess.
Shallow. That he will not-'tis your fault, 'tis your fault:-'tis a good dog."
Surely it should be thus:
"Shallow. You'll not confess, you'll not confess.
"Slender. That he will not.
"Shallow. "Tis your fault, 'tis your fault," &c. FARMER.
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 bencher's phrase. STEEVENS.
Shakspeare seems to frolick here in his heraldry, with a design not to be easily understood. In Leland's Collectanea, vol. i. part 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 signi
SLEN. I may quarter, coz?
fies salted; or strewed and sprinkled with any thing? In Mear sure for Measure, Lucio says-" Ever your fresh whore and your powder'd bawd." TOLLET.
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 stewe."
In Ferne's Blazon of Gentry, 1586, quarto, the arms of the Lucy family are represented as an instance, that "signs of the coat should 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 the 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 courteously communicated to me.
"A parliement member, a justice of peace,
"At home a poor scare-crowe, at London an asse,
"He thinks himself greate,
"We allow by his ears but with asses to mate.
Contemptible as this performance must now appear, at the time when it was written it might have had sufficient power to irritate a vain, weak, and vindictive magistrate; especially as it was affixed to several of his park-gates, and consequently published 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 Windsor."
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 should be forged, from which an undiscovered wag could derive no triumph over antiquarian credulity. STEEVENS.
EVA. It is marring, indeed, if he quarter it.
EVA. Yes, per-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 sir John Falstaff have committed disparagements unto you, I am of the church, and will be glad to do my benevolence, to make atonements and compremises between you.
SHAL. The Council shall hear it; it is a riot 9.
"The luce is the fresh fish; the salt fish is an old coat." Our author 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 misdemeanor, and who is supposed to be pointed at under the character of Justice Shallow. The text, however, by some carelessness of the printer or transcriber, has been so 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 Shallow. Slender has observed, that the family might give a dozen white Luces in their coat; to which the Justice adds, "It is an old one." This produces the Parson's blunder, and Shallow's correction. "The Luce is not the Louse but the Pike, the fresh fish of that name. Indeed our Coat is old, as I said, and the fish cannot be fresh; and therefore we bear the white, i. e. the pickled or salt fish."
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—“ though salt fish in an old coat." FARMER.
9 THE COUNCIL shall hear it; it is a riot.] By the Council is only meant the court of Star-chamber, composed chiefly of the king's council sitting in Camerâ stellata, which took cognizance of atrocious riots. In the old quarto, "the council shall know it," follows immediately after "I'll make a Star-chamber matter of it." BLACKSTONE.
EVA. It is not meet the Council hear a riot; there is no fear of Got in a riot: the Council, look you, shall desire to hear the fear of Got, and not to hear a riot; take your vizaments in that 1.
SHAL. Ha! o' my life, if I were young again, the sword should end it.
EVA. It is petter that friends is the sword, and end it: and there is also another device in my prain, which, peradventure, prings goot discretions with it: There is Anne Page, which is daughter to master George Page2, which is pretty virginity.
SLEN. Mistress Anne Page? She has brown hair, and speaks small like a woman 3.
So, in Sir John Harrington's Epigrams, 1618:
See Stat. 13 Henry IV. c. 7. GREY.
your VIZAMENTS in that.] Advisement is now an obsolete word. I meet with it in the Ancient Morality of Every Man: "That I may amend me with good advysement."
"I shall smite without any advysement.”
"To do with good advysement and delyberacyon."
It is often used by Spenser in his Faery Queen. So, b. ii. c. 9: "Perhaps my succour and advizement meete." STEEvens. 2- which is daughter to master GEORGE Page.] The old copy reads-Thomas Page. STEEVENS.
The whole set of editions have negligently blundered one after another in Page's Christian name in this place; though Mrs. Page calls him George afterwards in at least six several passages.
speaks SMALL like a woman.] This is from the folio of 1623, and is the true reading. He admires her for the sweetness of her voice. But the expression is highly humorous, as making her speaking small like a woman one of her marks of distinction; and the ambiguity of small, which signifies little as well as low, makes the expression still more pleasant. WARBUrton. Thus, Lear, speaking of Cordelia :
Her voice was ever soft,
"Gentle and low;-an excellent thing in woman.”
EVA. It is that fery person for all the orld, as just as you will desire; and seven hundred pounds of monies, and gold, and silver, is her grandsire, upon his death's-bed, (Got deliver to a joyful resurrections!) give, when she is able to overtake seventeen years old: it were a goot motion, if we leave our pribbles and prabbles, and desire a marriage between master Abraham, and mistress Anne Page. SHAL. Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred pound + ?
Dr. Warburton has found more pleasantry here than I believe was intended. Small was, I think, not used, as he supposes, in an ambiguous sense, for "little, as well as low," but simply for weak, slender, feminine; and the only pleasantry of the passage seems to be, that poor Slender should characterise his mistress by a general quality belonging to her whole sex. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Quince tells Flute, who objects to playing a woman's part, You shall play it in a mask, and you may speak as small as you will." MALONE.
A small voice is a soft and melodious voice. Chaucer uses the word in that sense, in The Flower and the Leaf, Speght's edit. p. 611:
"The company answered all,
"With voice sweet entuned, and so small,
Again, in Fairfax's Godfrey of Bulloigne, 1. 15, st. 62 :
"She warbled forth a treble small,
"And with sweet lookes, her sweet songs enterlaced." When female characters were filled by boys, to "speak small like a woman" must have been a valuable qualification. So, in Marston's What You Will: "I was solicited to graunt him leave to play the lady in comedies presented by children; but I knew his voice was too small, and his stature too low. Sing a treble, Holofernes ;-a very small sweet voice I'le assure you."
4 Shal. Did her grandsire leave her seven hundred pound ?— I know the young gentlewoman; &c.] These two speeches are by mistake given to Slender in the first folio, the only authentick copy of this play. From the foregoing words it appears that Shallow is the person here addressed; and on a marriage being proposed for his kinsman, he very naturally enquires concerning the lady's fortune. Slender should seem not to know what they are talking about; (except that he just hears the name of Anne Page, and breaks out into a foolish eulogium on her;) for afterwards