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Corn. Thou art a strange fellow : a tailor make a man?
Kent. Ay, a tailor, sir: a stone-cutter, or a painter, could not have made him so ill, though they had been but two hours at the trade.
Corn. Speak yet, how grew your quarrel?
Stew. This ancient ruffian, sir, whose life I have spar’d, At suit of his grey beard, –
Kent. Thou whorson zed! thou unnecessary letter !5– My lord, if you will give me leave, I will tread this unbolted villaino into mortar, and daub the wall of a jakes with him.-Spare my grey beard, you wagtail?
Corn. Peace, sirrah !
Kent. Yes, sir; but anger has a privilege.8
nature disclaims in thee;] So the quartos and the folio. The modern editors read, without authority:
nature disclaims her share in thee. The old reading is the true one. So, in R. Brome's Northern Lass, 1633:
I will disclaim in your favour hereafter." Again, in The Case is Alter'd, by Ben Jonson, 1609 :
“ Thus to disclaim in all th’ effects of pleasure.” Again:
“No, I disclaim in her, I spit at her.” Steevens. 5 Thou whorson zed! thou unnecessary letter !] Zed is here proba. bly used as a term of contempt, because it is the last letter in the En. glish alphabet, and as its place may be supplied by S, and the Roman alphabet has it not; neither is it read in any word originally Teutonick. In Barret's Alvearie, or Quadruple Dictionary, 1580, it is quite omitted, as the author affirms it to be rather a syllable than a letter. C (as Dr. Johnson supposed) cannot be the unnecessary let. ter, as there are many words in which its place will not be supplied with any other, as charity, chastity, &c. Steevens.
This is taken from the grammarians of the time. Mulcaster says, " Z is niuch harder amongst us, and seldom seen :-S is become its lieutenant-general. It is lightlie expressed in English, saving in foren enfranchisements." Farmer.
this unbolted villain -] i. e. unrefined by education, the bran yet in him. Metaphor from the bakehouse. Warburton.
into mortar,] This expression was much in use in our author's time. So, Massinger, in his New Way to pay old Debts, Act I, sc.i:
I will help your memory, 66 And tread thee into mortar." Steevens. Unbolted mortar is mortar made of unsifted lime, and therefore to break the lumps it is necessary to tread it by men in wooden shoes. This unbolted villain is therefore this coarse rascal. Tollet.
Corn. Why art thou angry?
Kent. That such a slave as this should wear a sword, Who wears no honesty. Such smiling rogues as these, Like rats, oft bite the holy cords in twain Which are too intrinse ľunloose:1 smooth every pas
8 Ves, sir; but anger has a privilege.] So, in King John:
“ Sir, sir, impatience hath its privilege.” Steevens.
Such smiling rogues as these,] The words-as these, are, in my opinion, a manifest interpolation, and derange the metre without the least improvement of the sense.
Steevens. 1 Like rats, oft bite the holy cords in twain
Which are too intrinse ť unloose: ] By these holy cords the poet means the natural union between parents and children. The metaphor is taken from the cords of the sanctuary ; and the fomenters of family differences are compared to these sacrilegious rats. The expression is fine and noble. Warburton.
The quartos read-to intrench. The folio—ť intrince. Intrinse, for so it should be written, I suppose was used by Shakspeare for intrinsecate, a word which, as Theobald has observed, he has used in Antony and Cleopatra:
Come, mortal wretch,
" Of life at once untie."
“ Season your admiration for a while
" With an attent ear. The word intrinsecate was but newly introduced into our language, when this play was written. See the preface to Marston's Scourge of Villanie, 1598: “I know he will vouchsafe it some of his new-minted epithets; as real, intrinsecate, Delphicke," &c.
I doubt whether Dr. Warburton has not, as usual, seen more in this passage than the poet intended. In the quartos the word holy is not found, and I suspect it to be an interpolation made in the folio edition. We might perhaps better read, with the elder copy :
Like rats, oft bite those cords in twain, which are
smooth every passion -) So the old copies; for which Mr. Pope and the subsequent editors substituted sooth. The verb to smooth occurs frequently in our elder writers. So, in Greene's Groatsworth of Wit, 1592:
• For since he learn'd to use the poet's pen,
“ He learn'd likewise with smoothing words to feign." Again, in Titus Andronicus:
“ Yield to his humour, smooth, and speak him fair.” Again, in our poet's King Richard III:
“ Smile in men's faces, smooth, deceive, and cog.” Malone."
That in the natures of their lords rebels;
Mr. Holt White has observed, in a note on Pericles, that in some counties they say-—" smooth the cat," instead of “ stroke the cat." Thus also Milton:
smoothing the raven down " Of darkness Thus also in Stubbes's Anatomie of Abuses, 8vo. 1583 : “ If you will learn to deride, scoffe, mock, and flowt, to flatter and smooth," &c. Steevens.
and turn their halcyon beaks With every gale and vary of their masters,] The halcyon is the bird otherwise called the king-fisher. The vulgar opinion was, that this bird, if hung up, would wary with the wind, and by that means show from what point it blew. So, in Marlowe's Few of Malta, 1633:
“ But how now stands the wind?
“ Into what corner peers my halcyon's bill?” Again, in Storer's Life and Death of Thomas Wolsey, Cardinall, a
" Or as a halcyon with her turning brest,
“ Demonstrates wind from wind, and east from west.” Again, in The Tenth Booke of Notable Thinges, by Thomas Lupton, 4to. bl. 1: - A lytle byrde called the Kings Fysher, being hanged up in the ayre by the neck, his nebbe or byll wyll be alwayes dyrect or strayght against ye winde.” Steevens.
4 As knowing nought,] As was supplied by Sir Thomas Hanmer, for the sake of connection as well as metre. Steevens.
epileptick visage! The frighted countenance of a man ready to fall in a fit. Johnson.
Camelot.] Was the place where the romances say king Ar. thur kept his court in the West; so this alludes to some proverbial speech in those romances. Warburton So, in The Birth of Merlin, 1662:
raise more powers “ To man with strength the castle Camelot.” Again, in Drayton's Polyolbion, Song III:
“ Like Camelot, what place was ever yet renown'd?
“ Where, as at Carlion, oft he kept the table round.” Steevens. In Somersetshire, near Camelot, are many large moors, where are bred great quantities of geese, so that many other places are from lence supplied with quills and feathers. Hanmer.
Corn. What, art thou mad, old fellow?
How fell you out?
Kent. No contraries hold more antipathy, Than I and such a knave.? Corn. Why dost thou call him knave? What 's his of
fence? Kent. His countenance likes me not. Corn. No more, perchance, does mine, or his, or hers.
Kent. Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain;
This is some fellow,
7 No contraries hold more antipathy,
“ The strong antipathy of good to bad Tollet.
likes me not.] i. e. pleases me not. So in Every Man out of his Humour :
“I did but cast an amorous eye, e'en now,
Upon a pair of gloves that somewhat lik'd me.” Again, in The Sixth Booke of Notable Thinges, by Thomas Lupton, 4to. bl. 1: - if the wyne have gotten his former strength, the water will smell, and then the wyne will lyke thee.” Steevens.
- constrains the garb,
Quite from his nature:] Forces his outside or his appearance to something totally different from his natural disposition. Johnson.
1 Than twenty silly ducking observants,] Silly means simple, or rustick. So, in Cymbeline, Act V, sc. iii :
“ There was a fourth man in a silly habit,” meaning Posthumus in the dress of a peasant. Nicely is with punctilious folly. Niais. Fr.
Steevens. See Cymbeline, Act V, sc. iji. Nicely is, I think, with the utmost exactness, with an attention to the most minute trifle. So, in Romea and Juliet:
“ The letter was not nice, but full of charge.” Malone.
Kent. Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity,
What mean'st by this? Kent. To go out of my dialect, which
discommend so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer: he that beguiled you, in a plain accent, was a plain knave; which, for
my part, I will not be, though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to it.3
Corn. What was the offence you gave him?
Never any :4
2 On flickering Phebus front, ] Dr. Jolinson, in his Dictionary, says this word means to flutter. I meet with it in The History of Clyomon, Knight of the Golden Shield, 1599: “ By flying force of flickering fame your grace shall under
- some castrel
“ Some flickring slave." Stanyhurst, in his translation of the fourth Book of Virgil's Æneid, 1582, describes Iris
“ From the sky down flickering,” &c. And again, in the old play, entitled, buimus Troes, 1633:
“ With gaudy pennons flickering in the air.” Steevens. Dr. Johnson's interpretation is too vague for the purpose. To flicker is indeed to flutter; but in a particular manner, which may be bet. ter exemplified by the motion of a flame, than explained by any verbal description. Henley.
though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to it.] Though I should win you, displeased as you now are, to like me so well as to entreat me to be a knave. Johnson. 4 Never any : ] Old copy :
I never gave him any. The words here omitted, which are unnecessary to sense and injurious to metre, were properly extruded by Sir T. Hanmer as a manifest interpolation. Steevens.
conjunct,] is the reading of the old quartos; compact, of the folio Steevens.