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SHAL. Cousin Abraham Slender, can you love her?

SLEN. I hope, sir,-I will do, as it shall become one that would do reason.

EVA. Nay, Got's lords and his ladies, you must speak possitable, if you can carry her your desires

towards her.

SHAL. That you must: Will you, upon good dowry, marry her?

SLEN. I will do a greater thing than that, upon your request, cousin, in any reason.

SHAL. Nay, conceive me, conceive me, sweet coz; what I do, is to pleasure you, coz: Can you love the maid?

SLEN. I will marry her, sir, at your request; but if there be no great love in the beginning, yet heaven may decrease it upon better acquaintance, when we are married, and have more occasion to know one another: I hope, upon familiarity will grow more contempt: but if you say, marry her, I will marry her, that I am freely dissolved, and dissolutely.

I hope upon familiarity will grow more contempt :] The old copy reads content. STEEVENS.

Certainly, the editors in their sagacity have murdered a jest here. It is designed, no doubt, that Slender should say decrease, instead of increase; and dissolved and dissolutely, instead of resolved and resolutely: but to make him say, on the present occasion, that upon familiarity will grow more content, instead of contempt, is disarming the sentiment of all its salt and humour, and disappointing the audience of a reasonable cause for laughter. THEOBALD.

Theobald's conjecture may be supported by the same intentional blunder in Love's Labour's Lost:

"Sir, the contempts thereof are as touching me."


EVA. It is a fery discretion answer; save, the faul is in the 'ort dissolutely: the 'ort is, according to our meaning, resolutely;-his meaning is good. SHAL. Ay, I think my cousin meant well. SLEN. Ay, or else I would I might be hanged, la.

Re-enter ANNE PAGE.

SHAL. Here comes fair mistress Anne:-Would I were young, for your sake, mistress Anne!

ANNE. The dinner is on the table; my father desires your worships' company.

SHAL. I will wait on him, fair mistress Anne. EVA. Od's plessed will! I will not be absence at the grace.

[Exeunt SHALLOW and Sir H. EVANS. ANNE. Will't please your worship to come in, sir? SLEN. No, I thank you, forsooth, heartily; I am very well.

ANNE. The dinner attends you, sir.


SLEN. I am not a-hungry, I thank you, forsooth: Go, sirrah, for all you are my man, go, wait upon my cousin Shallow: [Exit SIMPLE.] A justice of peace sometime may be beholden to his friend for a man:-I keep but three men and a boy yet,'

Anne. The dinner attends you, sir.

Slen.-Go, sirrah, for all you are my man, go, wait upon my cousin Shallow:] This passage shews that it was formerly the custom in England, as it is now in France, for persons to be attended at dinner by their own servants, wherever they dined. M. MASON.


I keep but three men and a boy yet,] As great a fool as the poet has made Slender, it appears, by his boasting of his wealth, his breeding and his courage, that he knew how to win

till my mother be dead: But what though? yet I live like a poor gentleman born.

ANNE. I may not go in without your worship: they will not sit, till you come.

SLEN. I'faith, I'll eat nothing; I thank you as much as though I did.

ANNE. I pray you, sir, walk in.

SLEN. I had rather walk here, I thank you: I bruised my shin the other day with playing at sword and dagger with a master of fence, three veneys

a woman. nature.

This is a fine instance of Shakspeare's knowledge of WARBURTON.


a master of fence,] Master of defence, on this occasion, does not simply mean a professor of the art of fencing, but a person who had taken his master's degree in it. I learn from one of the Sloanian MSS. (now in the British Museum, No. 2530, xxvi. D.) which seems to be the fragment of a register formerly belonging to some of our schools where the "Noble Science of Defence," was taught from the year 1568 to 1583, that in this art there were three degrees, viz. a Master's, a Próvost's and a Scholar's. For each of these a prize was played, as exercises are kept in universities for similar purposes. weapons they used were the axe, the pike, rapier and target, rapier and cloke, two swords, the two-hand sword, the bastard sword, the dagger and staff, the sword and buckler, the rapier and dagger, &c. The places where they exercised were commonly theatres, halls, or other enclosures sufficient to contain a number of spectators; as Ely-Place in Holborn, the Bell Savage on Ludgate-Hill, the Curtain in Hollywell, the Gray Friars within Newgate, Hampton Court, the Bull in BishopsgateStreet, the Clink, Duke's Place, Salisbury-Court, Bridewell, the Artillery Garden, &c. &c. &c. Among those who distinguished themselves in this science, I find Tarlton the Comedian, who was allowed a master" the 23d of October, 1587 [I suppose, either as grand compounder, or by mandamus], he being "ordinary grome of her majesties chamber," and Robert Greene, who " plaide his maister's prize at Leadenhall with three weapons," &c. The book from which these extracts are made, is a singular curiosity, as it contains the oaths, customs, regula

for a dish of stewed prunes; and, by my troth, I cannot abide the smell of hot meat since. Why do your dogs bark so? be there bears i' the town?

ANNE. I think, there are, sir; I heard them talked of.

SLEN. I love the sport well; but I shall as soon quarrel at it, as any man in England :-You are afraid, if you see the bear loose, are you not?

ANNE. Ay, indeed, sir.

SLEN. That's meat and drink to me now:1 I have seen Sackerson 2 loose, twenty times; and

tions, prizes, summonses, &c. of this once fashionable society. K. Henry VIII. K. Edward VI. Philip and Mary, and Queen Elizabeth, were frequent spectators of their skill and activity. STEEVENS.

9 three veneys for a dish &c.] i. e. three venues, French. Three different set-to's, bouts, (or hits, as Mr. Malone, perhaps more properly, explains the word,) a technical term. So, in our author's Love's Labour's Lost: "a quick venew of wit." Again, in Beaumont and Fletcher's Philaster :-" thou wouldst be loth to play half a dozen venies at Wasters with a good fellow for a broken head." Again, in The Two Maids of More-clacke, 1609: "This was a pass, 'twas fencer's play, and for the after veny, let me use my skill.". So, in The Famous History, &c. of Capt. Tho. Stukely, 1605: "for forfeits and venneys given upon a wager at the ninth button of your doublet.”

Again, in the MSS. mentioned in the preceding note, “and at any prize whether it be maister's prize, &c. whosoever doth play agaynste the prizer, and doth strike his blowe and close with all, so that the prizer cannot strike his blowe after agayne, shall wynne no game for any veneye so given, althoughe it shold breake the prizer's head." STEEVENS.

1 That's meat and drink to me now:] Decker has this proverbial phrase in his Satiromastix: "Yes faith, 'tis meat and drink to me." WHALLEY.


Sackerson -] Seckarson is likewise the name of a bear in the old comedy of Sir Giles Goosecap. STEEVENS.

Sackerson, or Sacarson, was the name of a bear that was exhibited in our author's time at Paris-Garden in Southwark.



have taken him by the chain: but, I warrant you, the women have so cried and shriek'd at it, that it pass'd: 3-but women, indeed, cannot abide 'em ; they are very ill-favoured rough things.

Re-enter PAGE.

PAGE. Come, gentle master Slender, come; we stay for you.

SLEN, I'll eat nothing, I thank you, sir.

PAGE. By cock and pye, you shall not choose, sir: come, come.

SLEN. Nay, pray you, lead the way.

PAGE. Come on, sir.

SLEN. Mistress Anne, yourself shall go first.
ANNE. Not I, sir; pray you, keep on.

SLEN. Truly, I will not go first; truly, la: I

will not do you that wrong.

See an old collection of Epigrams [by Sir John Davies] printed at Middlebourg (without date, but in or before 1598:)

"Publius, a student of the common law,
"To Paris-garden doth himself withdraw ;-
"Leaving old Ployden, Dyer, and Broke, alone,
"To see old Harry Hunkes and Sacarson."

Sacarson probably had his name from his keeper. So, in the Puritan, a comedy, 1607: "How many dogs do you think I had upon me? Almost as many as George Stone, the bear; three at once." MALONE.


that it pass'd:] It pass'd, or this passes, was a way of speaking customary heretofore, to signify the excess, or extraordinary degree of any thing. The sentence completed would be, This passes all expression, or perhaps, This passes all things. We still use passing well, passing strange.



* By cock and pye,] This was a very popular adjuration, and occurs in many of our old dramatic pieces. See note on Act V. sc. i. K. Henry IV. P. II. STEEVENS.

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