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FORD. A witch, a quean, an old cozening quean! Have I not forbid her my house? She comes of errands, does she? We are simple men; we do not know what's brought to pass under the profession of fortune-telling. She works by charms, by spells, by the figure, and such daubery' as this is; beyond our element: we know nothing.-Come down, you witch, you hag you; come down I say.
MRS. FORD. Nay, good, sweet husband;—good gentlemen, let him not strike the old woman.
She works by charms, &c.] Concerning some old woman of Brentford, there are several ballads; among the rest, Julian of Brentford's last Will and Testament, 1599. STEEVENS.
This without doubt was the person here alluded to; for in the early quarto Mrs. Ford says" my maid's aunt, Gillian of Brentford, hath a gown above." So, also, in Westward Hoe, a comedy, 1607: "I doubt that old hag, Gillian of Brentford, has bewitched me." MALONE.
Mr. Steevens, perhaps, has been misled by the vague expression of the Stationers' book. Iyl of Breyntford's Testament, to which he seems to allude, was written by Robert, and printed by William Copland, long before 1599. But this, the only publication, it is believed, concerning the above lady, at present known, is certainly no ballad. RITSON.
Julian of Brainford's Testament is mentioned by Laneham in his letter from Killingwoorth Castle, 1575, amongst many other works of established notoriety. HENLEY.
such daubery-] Dauberies are counterfeits; disguises. So, in King Lear, Edgar says: "I cannot daub it further." Again, in K. Richard III:
"So smooth he daub'd his vice with shew of virtue." STEEVENS.
Perhaps rather such gross falshood, and imposition. In our author's time a dauber and a plasterer were synonymous. See Minsheu's DICT. in v. "To lay it on with a trowel" was a phrase of that time, applied to one who uttered a gross lie. MALONE. 12 let him not strike the old woman.] Not, which was inadvertently omitted in the first folio, was supplied by the second.
Enter FALSTAFF in women's clothes, led by Mrs. PAGE.
MRS. PAGE. Come, mother Prat, come, give me your hand.
FORD. I'll prat her:Out of my door, you witch! [beats him] you rag,' you baggage, you polecat, you ronyon!' out! out! I'll conjure you, I'll fortune-tell you. [Exit FALSTAFF. MRS. PAGE. Are you not ashamed? I think, you have killed the poor woman.
MRS. FORD. Nay, he will do it :-'Tis a goodly credit for you.
FORD. Hang her, witch!
EVA. By yea and no, I think, the 'oman is a witch indeed: I like not when a 'oman has a great peard; I spy a great peard under her muffler.
you rag,] This opprobrious term is again used in Timon of Athens: "thy father, that poor rag-.' Mr. Rowe unnecessarily dismissed this word, and introduced hag in its place. MALONE.
ronyon!] Ronyon, applied to a woman, means, as far as can be traced, much the same with scall or scab spoken of a man. JOHNSON.
From Rogneux, Fr. So, in Macbeth:
"Aroint thee, witch, the rump-fed ronyon cries." Again, in As you like it: "the roynish clown." STEevens.
I spy a great peard under her muffler.] One of the marks of a supposed witch was a beard. So, in The Duke's Mistress, 1638:
a chin, without all controversy, good "To go a fishing with; a witches beard on't." See also Macbeth, Act I. sc. iii.
The muffler (as I have learnt since our last sheet was worked off) was a thin piece of linen that covered the lips and chin. See the figures of two market-women, at the bottom of G.