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We may observe in general, that the early editions have not half the quantity; and every sentence, or rather every word, most ridiculously blundered. These, for several reasons, could not possibly be published by the author; and it is extremely probable that the French ribaldry was at first inserted by a different hand, as the many editions most certainly were after he had left the stage.-Indeed, every friend to his memory will not easily believe, that he was acquainted with the scene between Katharine and the old Gentlewoman: or surely he would not have admitted such obscenity and nonsense. FARMER.
34-nook-shotten isle of Albion.] Shotten signifies any thing projected: so nook-shotten isle, is an isle that shoots out into capes, promontories, and necks of land, the very figure of Great Britain.
35 And teach lavoltas high,] Sir T. Hanmer observes, that in this dance there was much turning and much capering. Shakspeare mentions it more than once; but never so particularly as the author of Muleasses the Turk, a tragedy, 1610:
"Be pleas'd, ye powers of night, and 'bout me skip "Your antick measures; like to coal-black Moors "Dancing their high lavoltoes to the sun, "Circle me round: and in the midst I'll stand, "And crack my sides with laughter at your sports."
36 Pennons-] In the battles of former days, when the sword and spear gave greater opportunity of exhibiting particular prowess, the several knights had each his arms painted on a little flag which was born
by one of his descendants into the field. This was called a pennon or pendant.
37 For he hath stol'n a pix,] The old editions readpax. "And this is conformable to history," says Mr. Pope, "a soldier (as Hall tells us) being hang'd at this time for such a fact."-Both Hall and Holinshed agree as to the point of the theft; but as to the thing stolen, there is not that conformity betwixt them and Mr. Pope. It was an ancient custom, at the celebration of mass, that when the priest pronounced these words, Pax Domini sit semper vobis cum! both clergy and people kiss'd one another. And this was called Osculum Pacis, the Kiss of Peace. But that custom being abrogated, a certain image is now presented to be kissed, which is called a Pax. But it was not this image which Bardolph stole; it was a pix, or little chest (from the Latin word, pixis, a box,) in which the consecrated host was used to be kept. "A foolish soldier," says Hall expressly, and Holinshed after him, " stole a pix out of a church, and unreverently did eat the holy hostes within the same contained."
88-the fig of Spain.] Mr. Steevens says, this has allusion to the Spanish custom of giving a poisoned fig to such as were objects of revenge.
39 Enter MONTJOY.] Mont-joie, under the French monarchy, was the title of the principal king at arms.
40 He bounds from the earth as if his entrails were hairs;] i. e. like a tennis-ball, which is stuffed with hairs.
41-strait trossers-] This word very frequently
occurs in the old dramatick writers. A man in The Coxcomb of Beaumont and Fletcher, speaking to an Irish servant, says, "I'll have thee flead, and trossers made of thy skin, to tumble in." Trossers appear to have been tight breeches-The kerns of Ireland anciently rode without breeches, and therefore strait trossers, I believe, means only in their naked skin, which sits close to them. The word is still preserved, but now written-trowsers.
42 'tis a hooded valour, and when it appears it will bate.] This is said with allusion to falcons which are kept hooded when they are not to fly at game, and, as soon as the hood is off, bait or flap the wing. The meaning is, the Dauphin's valour has never been let loose upon an enemy, yet, when he makes his first essay, we shall see how he will flutter. JOHNSON.
43 Fills the wide vessel of the universe.] Universe for horizon: for we are not to think Shakspeare so ignorant as to imagine it was night over the whole globe at once. He intimates he knew otherwise, by that fine line in The Midsummer Night's Dream: "following darkness like a dream."
Besides, the image he employs shows he meant but half the globe; the horizon round, which has the shape of a vessel or goblet.
There is a better proof, that Shakspeare knew the order of night and day, in Macbeth:
"Now o'er the one half world
But there was no great need of any justification. The
universe, in its original sense, no more means this globe singly than the circuit of the horizon; but, however large in its philosophical sense, it may be poetically used for as much of the world as falls under observation. Let me remark further, that ignorance cannot be certainly inferred from inaccuracy. Knowledge is not always present.
44-old Sir Thomas Erpingham:] Sir Thomas Erpingham came over with Bolingbroke from Bretagne, and was one of the commissioners to receive King Richard's abdication. EDWARDS'S MS.
45 That's a perilous shot out of an elder gun.] In the old play [the quarto, 1600,] the thought is more opened. It is a great displeasure that an elder gun can do against a cannon, or a subject against a monarch.
I do not know what Dr. Johnson understands by an elder gun, nor whether, from his remark, he considers it a piece of superior musquetry which, nevertheless, is not able to cope with a cannon. Shakspeare certainly meant by it a pop-gun, out of which toy boys shoot pellets of paper, and which they make from an elder-stick with the pith bored out.
46 Upon the king, &c.] This beautiful speech was added after the first edition.
PÓPE. There is something very striking and solemn in this soliloquy, into which the king breaks immediately as soon as he is left alone. Something like this, on less occasions, every breast has felt. Reflection and seriousness rush upon the mind upon the separation
of a gay company, and especially after forced and
47 Can sleep so soundly, &c.] These lines are exquisitely pleasing. To sweat in the eye of Phobus, and to sleep in Elysium, are expressions very poetical.
48 Since that my penitence comes after all,
Imploring pardon.] I am sensible that every thing of this kind (works of piety and charity,) which I have done or can do, will avail nothing towards the remission of this sin; since I well know that after all this is done, true penitence, and imploring pardon, are previously and indispensably necessary towards my obtaining it.
49 Via!] Via means in this place come along, or, let us go, and was anciently used so, like the French,allons.
so And dout them-] To dout is to put out [do out.] Whoever has lived in Devonshire, will recognise it as a word of daily use.
51-such a hilding foe;] Hilding means low, base,
52 The tucket-sonuance-] He uses terms of the field as if they were going out only to the chace for sport. To dare the field is a phrase in falconry. Birds are dared when by the falcon in the air they are terrified from rising, so that they will be sometimes taken by the hand.
Such an easy capture the lords expected to make of the English.
With torch-staves in their hand:] Candlesticks