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In purity of manhood stand upright,
And say, This man's a flatterer? if one be,
And in support of this conjecture, he observes, that the Saxon d is frequently converted into th, as in murther, murder, burthen, burden, &c.
That the passage is corrupt as it stands in the old copy, no one, I suppose, can doubt; emendation therefore in this and a few other places, is not a matter of choice but necessity. I have already more than once observed, that many corruptions have crept into the old copy, by the transcriber's ear deceiving him. In Coriolanus we have higher for hire, and hope for holp; in the present play, reverends for reverend'st; and in almost every play similar corruptions. In King Richard II. quarto, 1598, we find the very error that happened here:
"Her pastor's grass with faithful English blood."
Again, in As You Like It, folio, 1623, we find, "I have heard him read many lectors against it;" intead of lectures.
Pasture when the u is sounded thin, and pastor, are scarcely distinguishable.
Thus, as I conceive, the true reading of the first disputed word of this contested passage is ascertained. In As You Like It, we have" good pasture makes fat sheep." Again, in the same play :
Anon, a careless herd,
"Full of the pasture, jumps along by him," &c.
The meaning then of the passage is,— It is the land alone which each man possesses that makes him rich, and proud, and flattered; and the want of it, that makes him poor, and an object of contempt. I suppose, with Dr. Johnson, that Shakspeare was still thinking of the rich and poor brother already described.
I doubt much whether Dr. Johnson himself was satisfied with his far-fetched explication of pastour, as applied to brother; [See his note] and I think no one else can be satisfied with it. In order to give it some little support, he supposes "This man's a flatterer," in the following passage, to relate to the imaginary pastor in this; whereas those words indubitably relate to any one individual selected out of the aggregate mass of mankind.
Dr. Warburton reads-wether's sides; which affords a commodious sense, but is so far removed from the original reading as to be inadmissible. Shakspeare, I have no doubt, thought at first of those animals that are fatted by pasture, and passed from thence to the proprietor of the soil.
Concerning the third word there can be no difficulty. Leane was the old spelling of lean, and the u in the MSS. of our author's time is not to be distinguished from an n. Add to this, that in
So are they all; for every grize of fortune
the first folio u is constantly employed where we now use a v; and hence by inversion, the two letters were often confounded (as they are at this day in almost every proof-sheet of every book that passes through the press). Of this I have given various instances in a note in vol. viii. p. 176, n. 3.
But it is not necessary to have recourse to these instances. This very word leave is again printed instead of leane, in King Henry IV. Part II. quarto, 1600:
"The lives of all your loving complices
"Leave on your health."
On the other hand in King Henry VIII. 1623, we have leane instead of leave: "You'll leane your noise anon, you rascals." But any argument on this point is superfluous, since the context clearly shows that lean must have been the word intended by Shakspeare.
Such emendations as those now adopted, thus founded and supported, are not capricious conjectures, against which no one has set his face more than myself, but almost certainties.
This note has run out into an inordinate length, for which I shall make no other apology than that finding it necessary to depart from the reading of the old copy, to obtain any sense, I thought it incumbent on me to support the readings I have chosen, in the best manner in my power. MALONE.
As a brother (meaning, I suppose, a churchman) does not, literally speaking, fatten himself by feeding on land, it is probable that pasture signifies eating in general, without reference to terra firma. So, in Love's Labour's Lost:
"Food for his rage, repasture for his den."
Pasture in the sense of nourishment collected from fields, will undoubtedly fatten the sides of a sheep or an ox, but who ever describes the owner of the fields as having derived from them his embonpoint?
The emendation-lean is found in the second folio, which should not have been denied the praise to which it is entitled.
The reading in the text may be the true one; but the condition in which this play was transmitted to us, is such as will warrant repeated doubts in almost every scene of it. STEEvens.
8 And say, THIS man's a flatterer?] This man does not refer to any particular person before mentioned, as Dr. Johnson thought, but to some supposed individual. Who, says Timon, can with propriety lay his hand on this or that individual, and pronounce him a peculiar flatterer? All mankind are equally flatterers. So, in As You Like It:
Ducks to the golden fool: All is oblique ;
Wrong, right; base, noble; old, young; coward, valiant.
Ha, you gods! why this? What this, you gods?
Will lug your priests and servants from your sides*;
"Who can come in, and say, that I mean her,
9 for every GRIZE of fortune-] Grize for step, or degree.
See vol. xi. p. 438, n. 8. MALONE.
-FANG mankind!] i. e. seize, gripe. This verb is used by Decker in his Match Me at London, 1631:
"bite any catchpole that fangs for you." STEEVENS. 2 - no idle votarist.] No insincere or inconstant supplicant. Gold will not serve me instead of roots. JOHNSON.
-you CLEAR HEAVENS!] This may mean either ye cloudless skies, or ye deities exempt from guilt. Shakspeare mentions the clearest gods in King Lear; and in Acolastus, a comedy, 1540, a stranger is thus addressed: "Good stranger or alyen, clere gest," &c. Again, in The Rape of Lucrece :
"Than Collatine again by Lucrece' side,
i. e. his uncontaminated bed.
See p. 327, n. 2. MALONE.
Will lug your priests and servants from your sides ;] Aristophanes, in his Plutus, Act V. Sc. II. makes the priest of Jupiter desert his service to live with Plutus. WARBURTON.
Pluck stout men's pillows from below their heads":
Will knit and break religions; bless the accurs'd;
5 Pluck STOUT men's pillows from below their heads;] i. e. men who have strength yet remaining to struggle with their distemper. This alludes to an old custom of drawing away the pillow from under the heads of men in their last agonies, to make their departure the easier. But the Oxford editor, supposing stout to signify healthy, alters it to sick, and this he calls emendWARBURTON.
the hoar leprosy -] So, in P. Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History, book xxviii. ch. xii.: "the foul white leprie called elephantiasis." STEEVENS.
this is it,] Some word is here wanting to the metre. We might either repeat the pronoun-this; or avail ourselves of our author's common introductory adverb, emphatically usedwhy, this it is." STEEVENS.
8 That makes the WAPPEN'D widow wed again ;] Waped or wappen'd signifies both sorrowful and terrified, either for the loss of a good husband, or by the treatment of a bad. But gold, he says, can overcome both her affection and her fears.
Of wappened I have found no example, nor know any meaning. To awhape is used by Spenser in his Hubberd's Tale, but I think not in either of the senses mentioned. I would read wained, for decayed by time. So, our author, in King Richard III. :
"A beauty-waining, and distressed widow." JOHNSON. In the comedy of The Roaring Girl, by Middleton and Decker, 1611, I meet with a word very like this, which the reader will easily explain for himself, when he has seen the following passage:
"Moll. And there you shall wap
"Moll. Wappening and niggling is all one, the rogue my
Again, in Ben Jonson's Masque of Gypsies Metamorphosed: "Boarded at Tappington,
"Bedded at Wappington."
Again, in Martin Mark-all's Apologie to the Bel-man of London, 1610: "Niggling is company-keeping with a woman: this
She, whom the spital-house, and ulcerous sores Would cast the gorge at 9, this embalms and spices
word is not used now, but wapping, and thereof comes the name wapping-morts for whores." Again, in one of the Paston Letters, vol. iv. p. 417: “Deal courteously with the Queen, &c. and with Mrs. Anne Hawte for wappys," &c.
Mr. Anmer observes, that "the editor of these same Letters, to wit, Sir John Fenn, (as perhaps becometh a grave man and a magistrate,) professeth not to understand this passage."
It must not, however, be concealed, that Chaucer, in The Complaint of Annelida, line 217, uses the word in the sense in which Dr. Warburton explains it:
My sewertye in waped countenance.”
Wappened, according to the quotations I have already given, would mean,"The widow whose curiosity and passions had been already gratified." So, in Hamlet:
"The instances that second marriage move,
"Are base respects of thrift, but none of love." And if the word defunct, in Othello, be explained according to its primitive meaning, the same sentiment may be discovered there. There may, however, be some corruption in the text. After all, I had rather read-weeping widow. So, in the ancient bl. 1. ballad entitled, The Little Barley Corne:
""Twill make a weeping widow laugh,
"And soon incline to pleasure." STEEVENS.
The instances produced by Mr. Steevens fully support the text in my apprehension, nor do I suspect any corruption. Unwapper'd is used by Fletcher in The Two Noble Kinsmen, for fresh, the opposite of stale: and perhaps we should read there unwappen'd.
Mr. Steevens's interpretation however, is, I think, not quite exact, because it appears to me likely to mislead the reader with respect to the general import of the passage. Shakspeare means not to account for the wappen'd widow's seeking a husband, (though her curiosity has been gratified,") but for her finding one. It is her gold, says he, that induces some one (more attentive to thrift than love) to accept in marriage the hand of the experienced and o'er-worn widow.-Wed is here used for wedded. So, in The Comedy of Errors, Act I. Sc. I.:
"In Syracusa was I born, and wed
Again, in The Taming of the Shrew, vol. v. p. 426 :
Again, in The Maid's Tragedy:
He that understands
"Whom you have wed needs not to wish you joy."