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• This roaring devil in the old play.' 'i'the old play' should be of the old play. The meaning is, this noisy, blustering fellow is like the roaring devil of the old play. B. Bour. Shame, and eternal shame, nothing but
shame! Let us die, instant:-Once more back again;
Let us die, instant :~Once more back again;] This verse, which is quite left out in Mr. Pope's editions, stands imperfect in the first folio. By the addition of a syllable, I think, I have retrieved the poet's sense. It is thus in the old cupy;
Let us die in once more back again. THEOB. Let us die instant.' Why should the constable wish them to 'die instantly ?? Die' should in all probability be hie, i e. hasten. The lines iinmediately following will warrant this reading. B.
Bour. Let him go hence, and, with his cap in hand,
Like a lase leno, STEEV. Like a base pander. • Leno' for Lenone (Ital.) a Pimp... a procurer. B.
Flu. I speak but in figures and comparisons of it: As Alexander is kill his friend Clytus, being in his ales and his cups ;
As Alerander, &c.] I should suspect that Shakspeare, who was well read in Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch, meant these speeches of Fluellen as a ridicule on the parallels of the Greek author, in which, circumstances common to all men are assembled in opposition, and one great action is forced into comparison with another, though as totally different in themselves, as was the behaviour of Harry Monmouth from that of Alexander the Great. Sleev.
• As Alexander. It is very absurd to suppose that any ridicule is here intended to be thrown on Plutarch: ibat Shakspeare could be so weak as to cast a censure on one of the most emiDent writers of antiquity. In the parallels of the Chæronean,
one great action,' is not forced into comparison with another.' It is not the actions which are to be compared, but the men. The Biographer has therefore, in order to show how those of precisely the same character, in respect of valor or mental abilities, have acted in situations totally different in poiot of circumstance, though tending to one and the like particular end :to effect this, I say, he has drawn up his parallels : -- those com
parisons, which in pertinency and clearness are, (I mean not to use a quibble) without parallel': and which, it may fairly be inferred, will so remain even to the remotest period of time. B.
K. Henry. Quite from the answer of his degree.
- quite from the answer of his degree. A man of such station as is not bound to hazard his person to answer to a challenge from one of the soldier's low degree. John.
• Answer of his degree.' Degree belongs to the gentleman, and not to the soldier. 'Quite from the answer of his degree,' is,— Not bound to answer, by reason of his degree.' Of, in old language is by. B.
Fr. King. We will, suddenly, Pass, or accept, and peremptory answer.
We will suddenly
Pass our accept, and peremptory answer.] As the French king desires more time to consider deliberately of the articles, 'tis odd and absurd for him to say absolutely, that he would accept them all. He certainly must mean, that he would at once waive and decline what he dislik’d, and consign to such as he approv'd of. Our author uses pass in this manner in other places ; as in King John :
“ But if you fondly pass our proffer'd love." WARB. Pass our accepi, and peremptory answer: i. e. we will pass our • acceptance of what we approve, and we will pass a peremptory answer to the rest. Politeness might forbid his saying, we will pass a denial, but his own dignity required more time for deliberation. Besides if we read pass or accept, is not peremptory answer superfluous, and plainly implied in the former words ? TOLLET.
* Pass our accept, and peremptory answer.' • Peremptory answer. This is not superfluously said, nor implied in the former words. We will accept ur pass (i. e. decline) what you proffer, says the French King; and our answer shall be such as to leave no room for further questioning, in the matter we will peremptorily make answer.' B.
K. Henry. I faith, my wooing is fit for thy understanding: I am glad, thou canst speak no better English; for, if thou couldst, thou wouldst find me such a plain king, that thou wouldst think, I had sold my farm to buy my crown.
- such a pluin king,–] I know not why Shakspeare now gives the king nearly such a character as he made him formerly ridicule in Percy, Th.s military grossness and unskilfulness in all the softer arts
does not suit very well with the gaieties of his youth, with the general knowledge ascribed to him at his accession, or with the contemptuous message sent him by the dauphin, who represents him as fitter for the ball-room than tbe field, and tells him that he is not to redel into dutchies, or win provinces with a nimble galliard. The truth is, that the poet's matter failed him in the fifth act, and he was glad to fill it up with whatever he could get ; and not even Shakspeare can write well without a proper subject. It is a vain endeavour for the most skilful hand to cultivate barrenness, or to paint upon vacuity. John.
Such a plain king. It should be remembered that Henry is become a plain king. His former self is wholly forgotten : and be therefore speaks but of what he is. The like may be continually observed in ordinary men. B. .
K. Henry. If ever thou be’st mine, Kate, I get thee with scambling.
- with scambling,] i. e. scrambling. STEEV.
With scambling.' • Scambling' is shifting :-a kind of trick; and not scrambling as Mr. Steevens supposes, B.
K. Henry. Our tongue is rough, coz’; and my condition is not smooth:
-my condition is not smooth :) Condition is temper. STEEV.
• My condition is not smooth. It is ridiculous to suppose that Henry would declare his temper to be bad. The Poet uses condition' for appearance, manners. It is agreeable to the expression in a former scene I am but a plain king. B.
FIRST PART OF
ACT I. SCENE I.
Though there are several masterstrokes in these three plays, which incontestably betray the workmanship of Shakspeare ; yet I am almost doubtful, whether they were entirely of his writing. And unless they were wrote by him very early, I should rather imagine them to have been brought to him as a director of the stage; and so bave received some finishing beauties at his hand. An accurate observer will easily see, the diction of thein is more obsolete, and the mumbers more mean and prosaical, than in the generality of his genuine compositions. ThroB.
• First part of King Henry VI.' Theobald's opinion respecting the spuriousness of these plays is of little force. With regard to the diction, I shall prove in the course of my revisal,that Shakspeare frequently nakes use of obsolete 'words : much more frequently, indeed, than is in general imagined. B.
E.re. Or shall we think the subtle-witted French
the subtle-witted French, &c.] There was a notion prevalent a long time, that life might be taken away by metrical charms. As superstition grew weaker, these charms were imagined only to have power on irrational animals. In our author's time it was supposed that the Irish could kill rats by a song. Johx. - the subtle-witted French,' &c. Dr. Johnson has here fallen into an error. It was not that the charms he speaks of would kill by reason that they were in rhyme, but only that those supposed murderous charms were composed in rhyme. The vulgar notion respecting the power of rhyme or metrical numbers, and by which the Irish have been said to kill rats, &c. has arisen from the word rime, which signifies a heavy mist or vapour, and with which, though not uncommon in England, the sister Island is more particularly enveloped. Now the original meaning of 'kills by rime' was this--that the mist or vapour was such as soinetimes to occasion the death of man and beast. It was highly prejudicial to health, they said, and might possibly kill. °B.
3 Mess. Having full scarce six thousand in his troop, By three-and-twenty thousand of the French Was round encompassed and set upon.
Having full scarce, &c.] The modern editors read, -scarce full, but I think unnecessarily. So, in the Tempest:
“ Prospero, master of a full poor cell." Steev. Having full scarce.' Scarce full is no doubt the proper reading. As to the expression from the Tempest, it is no way in point. A full poor cell,' is an extremely, a particularly poor cell. It should be printed full-poor, compound word. B.
Bast. Methinks, your looks are sad, your chear
appallid; your chear appall?d;-] Chear is countenance, appearance.
. Stegy. • Chear' is not countenance, but gaiety, cheerfulness. Your chear appallid,' means, your chearfulness abated. He had 'aka' ready said, your looks are sad. B.
Pucel. Thou shalt be fortunate,
"Meat' – this should be warlike meet.' Meet in here waed as a substantive and in the sense of equal—one who may enter the lists with him. In the second part the word occurs as an adjective. “I say my. Sovereign, York, is meetest man.” B.
· In regard to this word.rat' see my note, As you Like It. Act 3. scene 2.