« AnteriorContinuar »
-and to eat no fish.] In queen Elizabeth's time the Papists were esteemed, and with good reason, enemies to the government. Hence the proverbial phrase of, He's an honest man, und eats no fish; to signify he's a friend to the government and a Protestant. The eating fish, on a religious account, being then esteemed such a badge of popery, that when it was enjoined for a season by act of parliament, for the encouragement of the fish-towns, it was thought necessary to declare the reason; hence it was called Cecil's fast. To this disgraceful badge of popery Fletcher alludes in his Woman-hater, who makes the courtezan say, when Lazarillo, in search of the Umbrano's head, was seized at her house by the intelligencers for a traytor: “ Gentlemen, I am glad you have discovered him. He should not have eaten under my roof for twenty pounds. And sure I did not like him, when he called for fish.” And Marston's Dutch Courtezan: “ I trust I am none of the wicked that eat fish a frydays."
WARBURTON. 18 take my coxcomb:] Meaning his cap, called so, because on the top of the fool or jester's cap was sewed a piece of red cloth, resembling the comb of a cock. The word, afterwards, used to denote a vain, conceited, meddling fellow.
WARBURTON. Another part of the furniture of a fool was a bauble, which, though it is generally taken to signify any thing of small value, has a precise and determinable meaning. It is, in short, a kind of truncheon with a head carved on it, which the fool anciently carried in
his hand. There is a representation of it in a picture of Watteau, formerly in the collection of Dr. Mead, which is engraven by Baron, and called Comediens Italiens. A faint resemblance of it may be found in a frontispiece of L. de Guernier to this play in Mr. Pope's edition.
II AWKINS. Lady, the brach,] Brach is a bitch of the hunting kind. Dr. Letherland, on the margin of Dr. Warburton's edition, proposed lady's brach, i. e. favoured animal. The old quarto has a much more unmannerly reading, which I would not wish to establish: but the other editions concur in reading lady o'the brach. Lady is still a common name for a hound. So Hotspur:
“ I had rather hear Lady, my brach, howl in Irish."
20 Lend less than thou owest,] i. e. do not lend all you possess.
21 Learn more than thou trowest,] To trow, is an old word signifying to believe. It is still in use in German -Trauen.
22 Whoop, Jug! I love thee.] This, as I am informed, is a quotation from the burthen of an old song.
23 - the sea-monster!] Mr. Upton observes, that the sea-monster is the Hippopotamus, the hieroglyphical symbol of impiety and ingratitude. Sandys, in his travels, says—“ that he killeth his sire, and ravisheth his own dam.”
24 That these hot tears, &c.] I will transcribe this
passage from the first edition, that it may appear to those who are unacquainted with old books, what is the difficulty of revision, and what indulgence is due to those that endeavour to restore corrupted passages. That these hot tears, that breake from me perforce, should make the worst blasts and fogs upon the untender woundings of a futher's curse, peruse every sense about the old fond eyes, beweep this cause again, &c.
25 I did her wrong:] He is thinking on Cordelia.
26 To take it again perforce !!] He is meditating on the resumption of his royalty.
JOHNSON He is rather meditating on his daughter's having in 90 violent a manner deprived him of those privileges which before she had agreed to grant him.
-a queazy question,] A delicate subject, that requires great care in the execution of it.
28 --- gasted-) Frighted.
99 And found_Dispatch.] The sense is interrupted. He shall be caught-and found, he shall be punished Dispatch.
30 pight to do it, with curst speeck-] Pight is pitched, fixed, settled. Curst is serere, harsh, vehea mently angry.
-threading dark-eyed night.] I have not ventured to displace this reading, though I have great suspicion that the poet wrote,
- treading dark-ey'd night, i. e. travelling in it. The other carries too obscure and mean an allusion, It must either be borrowed
from the cant-phrase of threuding of alleys, i. e. going through bye passages to avoid the high streets; or to threading a needle in the dark.
THEOBALD. The quarto reads,
-threat'ning dark-ey'd night. JOHNSON. 52 Lipsbury pinfold,] The allusion which seems to be contained in this line I do not understand. In the violent eruption of reproaches which bursts from Kent in this dialogue, there are some epithets which the commentators have left unexpounded, and which I am not very able to make clear. Of a three-suited knave I know not the meaning, unless it be that he has different dresses for different occupations. Lilyliver'd is cowardly; white blooded and white liver'd are still in vulgar use. An one-trunk-inheriting slave, I take to be a wearer of old cast-off clothes, an inheritor of torn breeches.
JOHNSON. Three-suited knave might mean, in an age of osten. tatious finery like that of Shakspeare, one who had no greater change of clothes than three suits would furnish him with: and a one-trunk-inheriting-slave may be used to signify a fellow, the whole of whose possessions are confined to one coffer, and that too inherited from his father, who was no better provided, or had nothing more to bequeath to his successor in poverty. A worsted-stocking knave is another reproach of the same kind. The stockings in England, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth (as I learn from Stubbs's Anatomie of Abuses, printed in 1595) were remarkably expensive, and scarce any other kind than silk were worn, even
(as this author says). by those who had not above forty shillings a year wages.-So in an old comedy, called The Hog hath lost his Pearl, 1611, by R. Taylor,
good parts are no more set by in these times,
“ than a good leg in a woollen stocking." Again, in The Captain, by Beaumont and Fletcher,
“ Green sicknesses and serving men light on you, “ With greasy breeches, and in woollen stockings." A hundred-pound gentleman is a term of reproach used in Middleton's Phænir, 1607.
I do not find the name of Lipsbury. It may be a cant phrase, with some corruption, taken from a place where the fines were arbitrary. Three-suited should I believe be third-suited, wearing clothes at the third hand. Edgar in his pride had three suits only.
FARMER. -neat slave.] Very slave, mere slave. 34 Thou whorson zed! &c.] I do not well understand how a man is reproached by being called zed, nor how Z is an unnecessary letter. Scarron compares his deformity to the shape of Z, and it may be a proper word of insult to a crook-backed man; but why should Gonerill's steward be crooked ? unless the allusion be to his bending or cringing posture in the presence of his superiors. Perhaps it was written, thou whorson C (for cuckold), thou unnecessary letter. C is a letter unnecessary in our alphabet, one of its two sounds being represented by S, and one by K. But all the copies concur in the common reading. JOHNSON.