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in very ancient times bore the semblance of various figures: some of them were fashioned like a man with the sockets in his two hands.
54 -the gimmal bit-] Gimmal is a ring: therefore, as Dr. Johnson says, a gimmal-bit, is a bit formed of several rings or parts which play one within another.
55-the feast of Crispian:] The battle of Agincourt was fought upon the 25th of October, St. Crispin's day. The legend upon which this is founded, follows:-"Crispinus and Crispianus were brethren, born at Rome; from whence they travelled to Soissons in France, about the year 303, to propagate the Christian religion; but because they would not be chargeable to others for their maintenance, they exercised the trade of shoemakers; but the governor of the town discovering them to be Christians, ordered them to be beheaded about the year 303. From which time, the shoemakers made choice of them for their tutelar saints." Wheatley's Rational Illustration, folio edit. p. 76. See Hall's Chronicle, fol. 47.
57 Killing in relapse of mortality.] That this allusion is, as Mr. Theobald thinks, exceedingly beautiful, I am afraid few readers will discover. The valour of a putrid body, that destroys by the stench, is one of the thoughts that do no great honour to the poet. Perhaps from this putrid valour Dryden might borrow the posthumous empire of Don Sebastian, who was to reign wheresoever his atoms should be scattered. JOHNSON.
58 We are but warriors for the working day,] i. e. we are but meanly caparisoned, we have no taudry clothes upon us.
59 Brass, cur!] Either Shakspeare had very little knowledge in the French language, or his overfondness for punning led him in this place, contrary to his own judgment, into an error. Almost every one knows that the French word bras is pronounced brau; and what resemblance of sound does this bear to brass, that Pistol should reply Brass, cur? The joke would appear to a reader, but could scarce be discovered in the performance of the play.
Sir W. RAWLINSON. 60-a ton of moys?] Moy is a coin; Hence a moidore or moi d'or, a golden moy.
61-this roaring devil i'the old play,] In modern puppet-shows, which seem to be copied from the old farces, Punch sometimes fights the devil, and always overcomes him. I suppose the vice of the old farce, to whom Punch succeeds, used to fight the devil with a wooden dagger.
62-raught- i. e. reached.
63 Kill the poys and the luggage!] The baggage, during the battle (as King Henry had no men to spare) was guarded only by boys and lacqueys; which some French runaways getting notice of, they came down upon the English camp-boys, whom they kill'd, and plundered, and burn'd the baggage: in resentment of which villainy it was, that the king, contrary to his wonted lenity, ordered all prisoners' throats to be cut. And to this villainy of the French
runaways Fluellen is alluding, when he says, Kill the poys and the luggage! The fact is set out both by Hall and Holinshed.
Unhappily the king gives one reason for his order to kill the prisoners, and Gower another. The king killed his prisoners because he expected another battle, and he had not men sufficient to guard one army and fight another. Gower declares that the gallant king has worthily ordered the prisoners to be destroyed, because the luggage was plundered, and the boys were slain.
64 into plows,] Mr. Heath reads, in two plows. 65 Charles Duke of Orleans, &c.] This list is a copy from Holinshed and Hall.
66 Do we all holy rites;] The king (say the Chronicles) caused the psalm, In exitu Israel de Ægypto (in which, according to the vulgate, is included the psalm, Non nobis Domine, &c.) to be sung after the victory.
67 -whiffler-] An officer who walks first in processions, or before persons in high stations, on occasions of ceremony. The name is still retained in London, and there is an officer so called that walks before their companies at times of public solemnity. It seems a corruption from the French word huissier.
65-likelihood-] Likelihood for similitude.
The later editors, in hope of mending the measure of this line, have injured the sense. The folio reads as I have printed; but all the books, since re
visal became fashionable, and editors have been more diligent to display themselves than to illustrate their author, have given the line thus:
As by a low, but loving likelihood. Thus they have destroyed the praise which the poet designed for Essex; for who would think himself honoured by the epithet low? The poet, desirous to celebrate that great man, whose popularity was then his boast, and afterwards his destruction, compares him to king Harry; but being afraid to offend the rival courtiers, or perhaps the queen herself, he confesses that he is lower than a king, but would never have represented him absolutely as low.
69 Doth fortune play the huswife, &c.] That is, the jilt.
70-diffus'd attire,] Diffus'd for extravagant. The military habit of those times was extremely so. Act III. Gower says, And what a beard of the general's cut, and a horrid suit of the camp, will do amongst, &c. is wonderful to be thought on. 71-such a plain king,] I know not why Shakspeare now gives the king nearly such a character as he made him formerly ridicule in Percy. This 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 a ball-room than the field, and tells him that he is not to revel into duchies, 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 cul tivate barrenness, or to paint upon vacuity.
72-no strength in measure,] i. e. in dancing. 73-go to Constantinople, &c.] Shakspeare forgets that the Turk was not in possession of Constantinople, till more than thirty years after the death of Henry.
74 -my condition is not smooth:] Condition here stands for temper.
75 Notre tres cher filz—and thus in Latin-Præclarissimus filius-] What, is tres cher in French, Præclarissimus in Latin! We should read Præcarissimus.
This is exceeding true, but how came the blunder? It is a typographical one in Holinshed, which Shakspeare copied; but must indisputably have been corrected had he been acquainted with the languages.
76-the world's best garden-] meaning, France.
END OF THE SEVENTH VOLUME.
THOMAS BENSLEY, PRINTER,