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* Will coft my crown, and, like an empty eagle,3
3 Whofe haughty Spirit, winged with defire,
Will coft my crown, and, like an empty eagle, &c.] Read coaft, i. e. hover over it. WARBURTON.
Dr. Warburton's alteration aims at a distinction without a difference, both coft and coaft being ultimately derivations of the fame original. HENLEY.
The word which Dr. Warburton would introduce, has been fuppofed to violate the metaphor; nor indeed is to coast used as a term of falconry in any of the books profeffedly written on that fubject. To coast is a fea-faring expreffion, and means to keep along fhore. We may, however, maintain the integrity of the figure, by inferting the word cote, which is used in Hamlet, and in a fenfe convenient enough on this occafion :
"We coted them on the way."
To cote is to come up with, to overtake, to reach. So, in The Return from Parnaffus, a comedy, 1606:
marry, we presently coted and outstript them." Yet, on further inquiry, I am become lefs certain, that to coaft is merely a fea-faring expreffion. It is used in the following inftance to denote speed:
"And all in hafte the coafteth to the cry."
Shakspeare's Venus and Adonis.
Again, in The Loyal Subject, by Beaumont and Fletcher :
"Take you thofe horfe, and coast them."
Again, in The Maid of the Mill, by the fame authors, two gentlemen are entering, and a lady asks :
who are thofe that coaft us?"
Mr. Tollet therefore obferves, that Dr. Warburton's interpretation may be right, as Holinfhed often ufes the verb to coast, i. e. to hover, or range about any thing. So, in Chapman's verfion of the fifth Iliad:
"Atrides yet coafts through the troops, confirming men
See Holinfhed, Vol. III. p. 352: "William Douglas ftill coafted the Englishmen, doing them what damage he might." So again, p. 387, and 404, and in other writers. STEEVENS
I have no doubt but coast is the true reading. To coaft is to keep along fide of it, and watch it. In King Henry VIII, the Chamberlain fays of Wolfey:
"the king perceives him how he coafts
*Tire on the flesh of me, and of my fon !4 *The lofs of those three lords 5 torments my heart: * I'll write unto them, and entreat them fair;*Come, coufin, you fhall be the meffenger."
* Exɛ. And I, I hope, fhall reconcile them all.
And in the laft A&t of The Loyal Subject, Archas fays:
"Take you those horfe, and coast them." M. MASON. Will coft my crown,] i. e. will coft me my crown; will induce on me the expence or lofs of my crown. MALONE.
Had this been our author's meaning, he would have otherwise formed his verfe, and written "coit me my crown." King Lear:
"The dark and vicious place where thee he got,
To tire is to faften, to fix the taJOHNSON.
So, in Decker's Match me in London,
the vulture tires
"Upon the eagle's heart." STEEVENS.
sthofe three lords-] That is, of Northumberland, Weftmoreland, and Clifford, who had left him in disgust.
-you shall be the messenger.] Inftead of the fix laft lines
of this speech, the firft copy presents these :
Come, coufin of Exeter, ftay thou here,
A Room in Sandal Castle, near Wakefield, in Yorkfhire.
Enter EDWARD, RICHARD, and MONTAGUE.
RICH. Brother, though I be youngest, give me
EDW. No, I can better play the orator.
"YORK. Why, how now, fons and brother,” at a ftrife?
'What is your quarrel? how began it firft?
7 fons, and brother,] I believe we should read-coufin inftead of brother, unless brother be used by Shakspeare as a term expreffive of endearment, or because they embarked, like brothers, in one caufe. Montague was only coufin to York, and in the quarto he is so called. Shakspeare uses the expreffion, brother of the war, in King Lear. STEEVENS.
It should be fons and brothers; my fons, and brothers to each other. JOHNSON.
Brother is right. In the two fucceeding pages York calls Montague brother. This may be in refpect to their being brothers of the war, as Mr. Steevens obferves, or of the fame council as in King Henry VIII. who fays to Cranmer: "You are brother of Montague was brother to Warwick; Warwick's daughter was married to a fon of York: therefore York and Montague were brothers. But as this alliance did not take place during the life of York, I embrace Mr. Steevens's interpretation rather than suppose that Shakspeare made a mistake about the time of the marriage. TOLLET.
The third folio reads as Dr. Johnson advifes. But as York
EDW. No quarrel, but a flight contention.8 YORK. About what?
RICH. About that which concerns your grace, and us;
'The crown of England, father, which is yours. YORK. Mine, boy? not till king Henry be
* RICH. Your right depends not on his life, or death.
* EDW. Now you are heir, therefore enjoy it
By giving the house of Lancaster leave to breathe, * It will outrun you, father, in the end.
'YORK. I took an oath, that he should quietly reign,
EDW. But, for a kingdom, any oath may be broken:
I'd break a thousand oaths, to reign one year.
RICH. No; God forbid, your grace fhould be forfworn.9
again in this fcene addreffes Montague by the title of brother, and Montague uses the fame to York, Dr. Johnson's conjecture cannot be right. Shakspeare certainly fuppofed them to be brothers-in-law. MALONE.
No quarrel, but a flight contention.] Thus the players, first, in their edition; who did not understand, I prefume, the force of the epithet in the old quarto, which I have restored-sweet contention, i. e. the argument of their difpute was upon a grateful topick; the question of their father's immediate right to the crown. THEOBALD.
Sweet is, I think, the better reading of the two; and I should certainly have received it had it been found in the folio, which Mr. Malone fuppofes to be the copy of this play, as reformed by Shakspeare. STEEVENS.
9 Rich. No; God forbid, &c.] Instead of this and the three following speeches, the old play has thefe lines:
• YORK. I fhall be, if I claim by open war.
'RICH. I'll prove the contrary, if you'll hear me
'YORK. Thou canst not, fon; it is impoffible.
RICH. An oath is of no moment, being not took
Before a true and lawful magistrate,
"That hath authority over him that fwears:
Henry had none, but did ufurp the place;
Then, feeing 'twas he that made you to depose, "Your oath, my lord, is vain and frivolous.
Therefore, to arms. * And, father, do but think, * How fweet a thing it is to wear a crown; * Within whofe circuit is Elyfium, * And all that poets feign of blifs and joy. * Why do we linger thus? I cannot reft,
"Rich. An if it please your grace to give me leave, "I'll fhew your grace the way to fave your oath, "And difpoffefs King Henry from the crown.
"York. I pr'ythee, Dick, let me hear thy devise.” MALONE.
1 An oath is of no moment,] The obligation of an oath is here eluded by very defpicable fophiftry. A lawful magiftrate alone has the power to exact an oath, but the oath derives no part of its force from the magiftrate. The plea against the obligation of an oath obliging to maintain a ufurper, taken from the unlawfulness of the oath itself in the foregoing play, was rational and just. JOHNSON.
This fpeech is formed on the following one in the old play : "Rich. Then thus, my lord. An oath is of no mo
"Being not fworn before a lawful magiftrate;
Henry is none, but doth ufurp your right;
"And yet your grace ftands bound to him by oath :
"Resolve yourself, and once more claim the crown.”