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BIRON. There is five in the firft fhow.
BIRON. The pedant, the braggart, the hedgeprieft, the fool, and the boy:
Abate a throw at novum; 3 and the whole world
Cannot prick out five fuch, take each one in his
KING. The fhip is under fail, and here fhe comes amain.
[ Seats brought for the KING, PRINCESS, &c.
If this firft part, gentles, do like you well, "The fecond part fhall greater murders tell."
STEEVENS. I rather think. Shakspeare alludes to the fhifts to which the actors were reduced in the old theatres, one person often performing two or three parts. MALONE.
3 Abate a throw at novum;] Novum (or novem) appears from the following paffage in Green's Art of Legerdemain, 1612, to have been some game at dice: "The principal use of them (the dice) is at novum, &c. Again, in The Bell-man of London, by Decker, 5th edit. 1640: "The principal ufe of langrets is at novum; for fo long as a payre of bard cater treas be walking, fo long can you caft neither 5 nor 9-for without cater treay, 5 or 9, you can never come. Again, in A Woman never Vex'd: "What ware deal you in? cards, dice, bowls, or pigeon-holes; fort them yourselves, either paffage, novum, or mum-chance." STEEVENS.
Abate throw —is the reading of the original and authentick copies; the quarto, 1598, and the folio, 1623.
A bare throw, &c. was an arbitrary alteration made by the editor of the fecond folio. I have added only the article, which feems to have been inadvertently omitted. I fuppofe the meaning is, Except or put the chance of the dice out of the queftion, and the world cannot produce five fuch as these. Abate, from the Fr. abatre, is used again by our author, in the fame sense, in All's well that ends well:
thofe 'bated, that inherit but the fall
"Of the last monarchy.
"A bare throw at novum is to me unintelligible. MALONE. 4 Cannot prick out, &c.] Dr. Grey propofes to read—pick out.
Pageant of the Nine Worthies. "
Enter COSTARD arm'd, for Pompey.
COST. I Pompey am,——
You lie, you are not he.
With libbard's head on knee."
COST. I Pompey am,
So, in King Henry IV. P. I: "Could the world pick thee out three fuch enemies again?" The old reading, however, may be right. To prick out, is a phrase ftill in use among gardeners. To prick may likewife have reference to vein. STEEVENS.
Pick is the reading of the quarto, 1598: Cannot prick out, that of the folio, 1623. Our author uses the fame phrafe in his 20th Sonnet, in the fame sense; cannot point out by a puncture or mark. Again, in Julius Cæfar:
"Will you be prick'd in number of our friends?"
To prick out, means to choose out, or to mark as chofen. The word in this fenfe, frequently occurs in the Second Part of King Henry IV. where Falstaff receives his recruits from Juftice Shallow: "Here's Wart-Shall I prick him, Sir John? "A woman's tailor, Sir-fhall I prick him? "Shadow will ferve for fummer. Prick him."
5 Pageant of the Nine Worthies.] In MS. Harl. 2057, p. 31. is "The order of a fhowe intended to be made Aug. 1, 1621." "Firft, 2 woodmen, &c.
St. George fighting with the dragon.
"The 9 worthies in compleat armor with crownes of gould on their heads, every one having his efquires to beare before him his fhield and penon of armes, dreffed according as thefe lords were accuftomed to be: 3 Affaralits, 3 Infidels, 3 Chriftians.
After them, a Fame, to declare the rare virtues and noble deedes of the 9 worthye women. Such a pageant as this, we may fuppofe it was the defign of Shakspeare to ridicule. STEEVENS.
"This fort of proceffion was the ufual recreation of our ancestors at Chriftmas and other feftive feafons. Such things, being chiefly plotted and compofed by ignorant people, were feldom committed to writing, at leaft with the view of prefervation, and are of course
BIRON. Well faid, old mocker; I must needs be friends with thee.
COST. I Pompey am, Pompey furnam'd the big,-
COST. It is great, fir;-Pompey furnam'd the great; That oft in field, with targe and fhield, did make my foe to fweat:
And, travelling along this coaft, I here am come by chance;
And lay my arms before the legs of this fweet lafs of
If your ladyship would fay Thanks Pompey, I had
PRIN. Great thanks, great Pompey.
COST. 'Tis not fo much worth; but, I hope, I was perfect: I made a little fault in, great.
rarely difcovered in the researches of even the most induftrious antiquaries. And it is certain that nothing of the kind (except the fpeeches in this scene, which were intended to burlesque them) ever appeared in print." This obfervation belongs to Mr. Ritfon, who has printed a genuine specimen of the poetry and manner of this rude and ancient drama, from an original manufcript of Edward the Fourth's time. (Tanner's MSS. 407.) REED.
6 With libbard's head on knee. ] This alludes to the old heroie habits, which on the knees and fhoulders had ufually, by way of ornament, the refemblance of a leopard's or lion's head.
The libbard, as fome of the old English gloffaries inform us, is the male of the panther.
This ornament is mentioned in Sir Giles Goosecap, 1606:
-pollet cuppes carved with libbard's faces, and lyon's heads with fpouts in their mouths, to let out the poffet-ale moft artifi. cially.
Again, in the metrical chronicle of Robert de Brunne:
"With the 4 libbards painted wele.' STEEVENS.
See Mafquine in Cotgrave's Dictionary: "The reprefentation of a lyon's head, &c. upon the elbow, or knee of some old fashioned garments. TOLLET.
BIRON. My hat to a half-penny, Pompey proves the best worthy.
Enter NATHANIEL arm'd, for Alexander.
NATH. When in the world I liv'd, I was the world's commander;
By caft, weft, north, and fouth, I fpread my conquering might:
My fcutcheon plain declares, that I am Alifander. BOYET. Your nofe fays, no, you are not; for it ftands too right.7
BIRON. Your nofe fmells, no, in this, moft tender-fmelling knight.
PRIN. The conqueror is difmay'd; Proceed, good Alexander.
NATH. When in the world I liv'd, I was the world's commander;
BOYET. Moft true, 'tis right; you were fo, Ali
BIRON. Pompey the great,-
Your fervant, and Coflárd. BIRON. Take away the conqueror, take away Alifander.
COST. O, fir, [ To NATH.] you have overthrown Alifander the conqueror! You will be fcraped out of the painted cloth for this: your lion, that holds his poll-ax fitting on a clofe-ftool, will be given.
it ftands too right.] It should be remembered, to relish this joke, that the head of Alexander was obliquely placed on his fhoulders.
lion, that holds his poll-ax fitting on a clofe-flool,] This alludes to the arms given in the old history of The Nine Worthies,
to A-jax: he will be the ninth worthy. A conqueror, and afeard to fpeak! run away for fhame, Alifander. [NATH. retires.] There, an't fhall please you; a foclifh mild man; an honeft man, look you, and foon dafh'd! He is a marvellous good neighbour, infooth: and a very good bowler: but, for Alifander, alas, you fee, how 'tis; a little o'erparted-But there are worthies a coming will speak their mind in fome other fort.
PRIN. Stand afide, good Pompey.
to "Alexander, the which did beare geules, a lion or, feiante in a chayer, holding a battle-ax argent. Leigh's Accidence of Armory, 1579, p. 23. TOLLET.
A-jas:] There is a conceit of Ajax and a jakes. JOHNSON. This conceit, paltry as it is, was used by Ben Jonson, and Camden the antiquary. Ben, among his Epigrams, has these two lines:
"And I could wifh, for their eternis'd fakes,
"My mufe had plough'd with his that sung A-jax.”
So, Camden, in his Remains, having mentioned the French word pet, fays, "Enquire, if you underftand it not, of Cloacina's chaplains, or fuch as are well read in A-jax.
Again, in The Maftive, &c. a collection of epigrams and satires: no date :
"To thee, brave John, my book I dedicate,
"That wilt from 4-jax with thy force defend it. "
See allo Sir John Harrington's New Difcourfe of a ftale Subject, called, the Metamorphosis of Ajax, 1596; his Anatomie of the Metamorphofed Ajax, no date; and Ulyffes upon Ajax, 1596. All thefe performances are founded on the fame conceit of Ajax and A jakes. To the firft of them a license was refused, and the author was forbid the court for writing it. His own copy of it, with MSS. notes and illustrations, and a MS. dedication to Thomas Markham, Efq. is now before me. STEEVENS.
See also DodЛley's Collection of Old Plays, Vol. IX. p. 133. edition 1780. REED.
a little o'er-parted:] That is, the part or character allotted to him in this piece is too confiderable. MALONE.