bring in larceny to be under the value of twelvepence
, when it is really
(25) For example, in the late eighteenth century, English law defined grand larceny as "stealing above the value of twelvepence
." (26) Unlike petit larceny, which under statute was punishable by transportation, grand larceny was punishable by death.
(34) Fluellen offers Williams twelvepence
and says th at the money "will serve you to mend your shoes" (lines 63-64).
He also noted That "the mercy of juries will often make them strain a point and bring in larceny to be under the value of twelvepence
when it is really of much greater value." This nullification of the death penalty for theft through "pious perjury" did "not at all excuse our common law ...
Even the fact that Williams won't be mollified too easily has been allowed for by inserting Fluellen into the trick, so that he can offer Williams twelvepence
and Williams (while gratefully accepting the gloveful of crowns), can snap at Fluellen ("I will none of your money" [4.8.67]) the answer he dare not make to the king.
Quicksilver's boasts of his prowess as a counterfeiter include his facility with aquafortis: "I'll rake you off twelvepence
from every angel, with a kind of aquafortis, and never deface any part of the image" (4.1.217-19).