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and of the passions then in motion, that I cannot but suspect that time has obscured much of his art, and that many allusions yet remain undiscovered, which perhaps may be gradually retrieved by succeeding
31 the fat ribs of peace
Must by the hungry now be fed upon :] This word now seems a very idle term here, and conveys no satisfactory idea. An antithesis, and opposition of terms, so perpetual with our author, requires
Must by the hungry war be fed upon.
War, demanding a large expence, is very poetically said to be hungry, and to prey on the wealth and fat of peace.
This emendation is better than the former, but yet not necessary. Sir T. HANMER reads, hungry maw, with less deviation from the common reading, but with not so much force or elegance as war.
Either emendation is unnecessary. The hungry now is this hungry instant. Shakspeare perhaps used the word now as a substantive, in Measure for Measure, till this very now, When men were fond, I smil'd and wonder'd how.
32 Bell, book, and candle-] In an account of the Romish curse given by Dr. Gray, it appears that three candles were extinguished, one by one, in different parts of the execration. 33 modern invocation.] It is hard to say what
Shakspeare means by modern: it is not opposed to ancient. In All's well that ends well, speaking of a girl in contempt, he uses this word, her modern grace. It apparently means something slight and inconsiderable.
34 Bind up those tresses:] It was necessary that Constance should be interrupted, because a passion so violent cannot be borne long. I wish the following speeches had been equally happy; but they only serve to shew, how difficult it is to maintain the pathetic long.
35 had you such a loss as I,
I could give better comfort-] This is a sentiment which great sorrow always dictates. Whoever cannot help himself casts his eyes on others for assistance, and often mistakes their inability for coldness.
36 No scape of nature,] The author very finely calls a monstrous birth, an escape of nature. As if it were produced while she was busy elsewhere, or intent on some other thing. But the Oxford editor will have it, that Shakspeare wrote,
No shape of nature.
37 Young gentlemen, &c.] It should seem that this affectation had found its way to England, as it is ridiculed by Ben Jonson in the character of Master Stephen in Every Man in his Humour.
So in Beaumont and Fletcher's Queen of Corinth, Onos says,
"Come let's be melancholy."
38 No, in good sooth ;] The sense is: the fire being created not to hurt but to comfort, is dead with grief for finding itself used in acts of cruelty, which, being innocent, I have not deserved.
99 PEMBROKE,] As this and others of the historical plays of Shakspeare take up many years, it sometimes happens that the title toward the end of a play does not belong to the person who owned it at the beginning. This earl of Pembroke is William the son of him who was earl at the opening of the piece.
40 To guard a title that was rich before,] To guard is to fringe.
-good exercise?] In the middle ages the whole education of princes and noble youths consisted in martial exercises, &c. These could not be easily had in a prison, where mental improvements might have been afforded as well as any where else; but this sort of education never entered into the thoughts of our active, warlike, but illiterate nobility.
set:] But heralds are not planted, I presume, in the midst betwixt two lines of battle: though they, and trumpets, are often sent over from party to party, to propose terms, demand a parley, &c. I have therefore ventured to read, sent.
This Dr. Warburton has followed without much advantage; set is not fixed, but only placed; heralds
must be set between battles in order to be sent between them.
43 five moons were seen to-night :] This incident is mentioned by few of our historians: I have met with it no where, but in Matthew of Westminster and Polydore Virgil, with a small alteration. These kind of appearances were more common about that time, than either before or since.
44 slippers, (which his nimble haste Had falsely thrust upon contráry feet,)] I know not how the commentators understand this important passage, which in Dr. Warburton's edition is marked as eminently beautiful, and, on the whole, not without justice. But Shakspeare seems to have confounded the man's shoes with his gloves. He that is frightened or hurried may put his hand into the wrong glove, but either shoe will equally admit either foot. The author seems to be disturbed by the disorder which he describes.
Dr. Johnson forgets that shoes and slippers in ancient times were not worn so simply as at present. A slipper ornamented with a knot on the outside might easily have been put on the contrary foot.
45 Hadst thou but shook thy head, &c.] There are many touches of nature in this conference of John with Hubert. A man engaged in wickedness would keep the profit to himself, and transfer the guilt to his accomplice. These reproaches vented against Hubert are not the words of art or policy, but the
eruptions of a mind swelling with consciousness of a crime, and desirous of discharging its misery on another.
This account of the timidity of guilt is drawn ab ipsis recessibus mentis, from the intimate knowledge of mankind, particularly that line in which he says, that to have bid him tell his tale in express words, would have struck him dumb; nothing is more certain, than that bad men use all the arts of fallacy upon themselves, palliate their actions to their own minds by gentle terms, and hide themselves from their own detection in ambiguities and subterfuges.
46 run more fast.] The old play is divided into two parts, the first of which concludes with the king's dispatch of Hubert on this message; the second begins with "Enter Arthur," &c. as it stands at present in the new written copy.
47 Whose private, &c.] i. e. whose private account of the dauphin's affection to our cause, is much more ample than the letters.
48 -the worship of revenge.] Worship is dignity, honour.
49 There is not yet, &c.] I remember once to have met with an old book, printed in the time of Henry VIII. (which Shakspeare possibly might have seen) where we are told that the deformity of the condemned in the other world is exactly proportioned to the degrees of their guilt. The author of it observes