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London. A Street.


Enter Sir JOHN FALSTAFF, with his Page bearing his Sword and Buckler.

Fal. Sirrah, you giant, what says the doctor to my water?6

Page. He said, sir, the water itself was a good healthy water: but, for the party that owned it, he might have more diseases than he knew for.

Fal. Men of all sorts take a pride to gird at me:7 The brain of this foolish-compound clay, man, is not able to vent any thing that tends to laughter, more than I invent, or is invented on me: I am not only witty in myself, but the cause that wit is in other men. I do here walk before thee, like a sow, that hath overwhelmed all her litter but one. If the prince put thee into my service for any other reason than to set me off, why then I have no judgment. Thou whoreson mandrake, thou

what says the doctor to my water?] The method of investigating diseases by the inspection of urine only, was once so much the fashion, that Linacre, the founder of the College of Physicians, formed a statute to restrain apothecaries from carrying the water of their patients to a doctor, and afterwards giving medicines, in consequence of the opinions they received concerning it. This statute was, soon after, followed by another, which forbade the doctors themselves to pronounce on any disorder from such an uncertain diognostic.

It will scarcely be believed hereafter, that in the years 1775 and 1776, a German, who had been a servant in a public ridingschool, (from which he was discharged for insufficiency) revived this exploded practice of water-casting. After he had amply increased the bills of mortality, and been publicly hung up to the ridicule of those who had too much sense to consult him, as a monument of the folly of his patients, he retired with a princely fortune, and perhaps is now indulging a hearty laugh at the expense of English credulity. Steevens.

7 to gird at me:] i. e. to gibe. So, in Lyly's Mother Bombie, 1594: We maids are mad wenches; we gird them, and flout them," &c. Steevens.

8 mandrake,] Mandrake is a root supposed to have the shape of a man; it is now counterfeited with the root of briony.


art fitter to be worn in my cap, than to wait at my heels. I was never manned with an agate till now: but I will set you neither in gold nor silver, but in vile apparel, and send you back again to your master, for a jewel; the juvenal,1 the prince your master, whose chin is not yet fledged. I will sooner have a beard grow in the palm of my hand, than he shall get one on his cheek; and yet he will not stick to say, his face is a face-royal: God may finish it when he will, it is not a hair amiss yet: he may keep it still as a face-royal, for a barber shall never earn sixpence out of it; and yet he will be crowing, as if he had writ man ever since his father was a bachelor. He may keep his own grace, but he is almost out of mine, I can assure him.- -What said master Dumbleton3 about the satin for my short cloak, and slops?

9 I was never manned with an agate till now:] That is, I never before had an agate for my man. Johnson.

The virtues of the agate were anciently supposed to protect the wearer from any misfortune. So, in Greene's Mamilia, 1593: "the man that hath the stone agathes about him, is surely defenced against adversity." Steevens.

I believe an agate is used merely to express any thing remarkably little, without any allusion to the figure cut upon it. So, in Much Ado about Nothing, Vol. IV, p. 234, n. 7:


"If low, an agate very vilely cut." Malone.

the juvenal,] This term, which has already occurred in The Midsummer Night's Dream, and Love's Labour's Lost, is used in many places by Chaucer, and always signifies a young man.



he may keep it still as a face-royal,] That is, a face exempt from the touch of vulgar hands. So, a stag-royal is not to be hunted, a mine-royal is not to be dug. Johnson.

Old copies-at a face-royal. Corrected by the editor of the second folio. Malone.

Perhaps this quibbling allusion is to the English real, rial, or royal. The poet seems to mean that a barber can no more earn sixpence by his face-royal, than by the face stamped on the coin called a royal, the one requiring as little shaving as the other.


If nothing be taken out of a royal, it will remain a royal as it was. This appears to me to be Falstaff's conceit. A royal was a piece of coin of the value of ten shillings. I cannot approve either of Johnson's explanation, or of that of Steevens.

M. Mason.

3 Dumbleton] The folio has-Dombledon; the quarto→→ Dommelton. This name seems to have been a made one, and designed to afford some apparent meaning. The author might

Page. He said, sir, you should procure him better assurance than Bardolph: he would not take his bond and yours; he liked not the security.

Fal. Let him be damned like the glutton! may his tongue be hotter!-A whoreson Achitophel! a rascally yea-forsooth knave! to bear a gentleman in hand, and then stand upon security!-The whoreson smooth-pates do now wear nothing but high shoes, and bunches of keys at their girdles; and if a man is thorough with them in honest taking up, then they must stand uponsecurity. I had as lief they would put ratsbane in my mouth, as offer to stop it with security. I looked he should have sent me two and twenty yards of satin, as I am a true knight, and he sends me security. Well, he may sleep in security; for he hath the horn of abundance, and the lightness of his wife shines through it: and yet cannot he see, though he have his own lantern to light him. Where 's Bardolph?

Page. He's gone into Smithfield, to buy your worship a horse.

have written-Double-done, (or, as Mr. M. Mason observes, Double-down,) from his making the same charge twice in his books, or charging twice as much for a commodity as it is worth.

1 have lately, however, observed that Dumbleton is the name of a town in Glocestershire. The reading of the folio may therefore be the true one.


4 Let him be damned like the glutton! may his tongue be hotter!] An allusion to the fate of the rich man, who had fared sumptuously every day, when he requested a drop of water to cool his tongue, being tormented with the flames. Henley.


to bear

So, in Macbeth:

in hand,] is, to keep in expectation. Johnson.

66 How you were borne in hand, how cross'd." Steevens. if a man is thorough with them in honest taking up,] That is, if a man by taking up goods is in their debt. To be thorough seems to be the same with the present phrase,-to be in with a tradesman. Johnson.

So, in Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour:

"I will take up, and bring myself into credit."

So again, in Northward Hoe, by Decker and Webster, 1607: "They will take up, I warrant you, where they may be trusted." Again, in the same piece:, "Sattin gowns must be taken up." Again, in Love Restored, one of Ben Jonson's masques:-" A pretty fine speech was taken up o' the poet too, which if he never be paid for now, 'tis no matter." Steevens.

Fal. I bought him in Paul's,' and he'll buy me a horse in Smithfield: an I could get me but a wife in the stews, I were manned, horsed, and wived.

Enter the Lord Chief Justice, and an Attendant. Page. Sir, here comes the nobleman that committed the prince for striking him about Bardolph.

Fal. Wait close, I will not see him.

Ch. Just. What 's he that goes there?

Atten. Falstaff, an 't please your lordship.

Ch. Just. He that was in question for the robbery? Atten. He, my lord: but he hath since done good service at Shrewsbury; and, as I hear, is now going with some charge to the lord John of Lancaster.

Ch. Just. What, to York? Call him back again.
Atten. Sir John Falstaff!

Fal. Boy, tell him, I am deaf.

Page. You must speak louder, my master is deaf.
Ch. Just. I am sure, he is, to the hearing of any thing

7 I bought him in Paul's,] At that time the resort of idle people, cheats, and knights of the post. Warburton.

In an old Collection of Proverbs, I find the following:

"Who goes to Westminster for a wife, to St. Paul's for a man, and to Smithfield for a horse, may meet with a whore, a knave, and a jade."

I learn from a passage in Greene's Disputation between a He Coneycatcher and a She Coneycatcher, 1592, that St. Paul's was a privileged place, so that no debtor could be arrested within its precincts. Steevens.

In The Choice of Change, 1598, 4to. it is said, "a man must not make choyce of three things in three places. Of a wife in Westminster; of a servant in Paul's; of a horse in Smithfield; least he chuse a queane, a knave, or a jade." See also Moryson's Itinerary, Part III, p. 53, 1617. Reed.

"It was the fashion of those times," [the times of King James I,] says Osborne, in his Memoirs of that monarch, "and did so continue till these, [the interregnum] for the principal gentry, lords, courtiers, and men of all professions, not merely mechanics, to meet in St. Paul's church by eleven, and walk in the middle isle till twelve, and after dinner from three to six; during which time some discoursed of business, others of news. Now, in regard of the universal commerce there happened little that did not first or last arrive here." Malone.

8 Lord Chief Justice,] This judge was Sir Wm. Gascoigne, Chief Justice of the King's Bench. He died December 17, 1413, and was buried in Harwood church, in Yorkshire. His effigy, in judicial robes, is on his monument. Steevens.

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good.-Go, pluck him by the elbow; I must speak with him.

Atten. Sir John,

Fal. What! a young knave, and beg! Is there not wars? is there not employment? Doth not the king lack subjects? do not the rebels need soldiers? Though it be a shame to be on any side but one, it is worse shame to beg than to be on the worst side, were it worse than the name of rebellion can tell how to make it.

Atten. You mistake me, sir.

Fal. Why, sir, did I say you were an honest man? setting my knighthood and my soldiership aside, I had lied in my throat if I had said so.

Atten. I pray you, sir, then set your knighthood and your soldiership aside; and give me leave to tell you, you lie in your throat, if you say I am any other than an ho

nest man.

Fal. I give thee leave to tell me so! I lay aside that which grows to me! If thou get'st any leave of me, hang me; if thou takest leave, thou wert better be hanged: You hunt-counter, hence! avaunt!

9 hunt-counter,] That is, blunderer. He does not, I think, allude to any relation between the judge's servant and the counter-prison. Johnson.

Dr. Johnson's explanation may be countenanced by the following passage in Ben Jonson's Tale of a Tub:

66 Do you mean to make a hare

"Of me, to hunt counter thus, and make these doubles,
"And you mean no such thing as you send about?"

Again, in Hamlet:

"O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs."


It should not, however, be concealed, that Randle Holme, in his Academy of Armory and Blazon, Book III, ch. 3, says: counter, when hounds hunt it by the heel." Steevens.

Hunt counter means, base tyke, or worthless dog. There can be no reason why Falstaff should call the attendant a blunderer but he seems very anxious to prove him a rascal. After all, it is not impossible the word may be found to signify a catchpole or bumbailiff He was probably the Judge's tipstaff.


Perhaps the epithet hunt-counter is applied to the officer, in reference to his having reverted to Falstaff's salvo. Henley.

I think it much more probable that Falstaff means to allude to the counter-prison. Sir T. Overbury, in his character of A Serjeant's Yeoman, 1616, (in modern language, a bailiff's follower,) calls him "a counter-rat." Malone.

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