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crouded with a tumultuary confusion of images, which, while they were yet unsorted and unexamined, seemed sufficient to furnish a long train of incidents, and a new variety of merriment; but which, when he was to produce them to view, shrunk suddenly from him, or could not be accommodated to his general design. That he once designed to have brought Falstaff on the scene again, we know from himself; but whether he could contrive no train of adventures suitable to his character, or could match him with no companions likely to quicken his humour, or could open no new vein of pleasantry, and was afraid to continue the same strain lest it should not find the same reception, he has here for ever discarded him, and made haste to despatch him, perhaps for the same reason for which Addison killed sir Roger, that no other hand might attempt to exhibit him.
Let meaner authors learn from this example, that it is dangerous' to sell the bear which is yet not hunted; to promise to the publick what they have not written.
This disappointment probably inclined queen Elizabeth to command the poet to produce him once again, and to show him in love or courtship. This was, indeed, a new source of humour, and produced a new play from the former characters. JOHNSON.
Line 447. Let senses rule;] I think this is wrong, but how to reform it I do not see. Perhaps we may read:
Let sense us rule.
Pistol is taking leave of his wife, and giving her advice as he kisses her; he sees her rather weeping than attending, and, supposing that in her heart she is still longing to go with him part of the way, he cries, Let sense us rule, that is, let us not give way to foolish fondness, but be ruled by our better understanding. He then continues his directions for her conduct in his absence.
Line 452. clear thy chrystals.] Dry thine eyes: but I think it may better mean, in this place, wash thy glasses. JOHNS.
ACT II. SCENE IV.
Line 465. And more than carefully it us concerns,] More than carefully is with more than common care; a phrase of the same kind' with better than well, JOHNSON.
Line 500. How modest in exception,] How diffident and decent in making objections.
Line 502. And you shall find, his vanities fore-spent
Were but the outside of the Roman Brutus,
Covering discretion with a coat of folly;] I believe,
Shakspeare meant no more than that Henry, in his external appearance, was like the elder Brutus, wild and giddy, while in fact his understanding was good. MALONE.
Line 519. That haunted us-] To haunt is a word of the utmost horror, which shows that they dreaded the English as goblins and spirits.
—spend their mouths,] That is, bark; the sports
memorable line,] This genealogy; this de
duction of his lineage.
ACT III. CHORUS.
-rivage,] The bank or shore.
-to sternage of this navy;] The stern being the hinder part of the ship, the meaning is, let your minds follow close after the navy. Stern, however, appears to have been an ciently synonymous to rudder.
linstock-] The staff to which the match:
is fixed when ordnance is fired.
ACT III. SCENE I.
-portage of the head,] Portage, open space, from
port, a gate. Let the eye appear in the head as cannon through the battlements, or embrasures, of a fortification. JOHNSON.. -his confounded base,] His worn or wasted base. · JOHNSON.
-54. bend up every spirit-] A metaphor from the
ACT III. SCENE II.
-a case of lives:] A set of lives, of which, when
one is worn out, another may serve.
Fluellen,] i. e. Lluellyn.
-best men;] That is, bravest; so in the next
lines, good deeds are brave actions.
JOHNSON. Line 126. the men would carry coals.] It appears that, in Shakspeare's age, to carry coals, was, I know not why, to endure affronts. So, in Romeo and Juliet, one serving-man asks another whether he will carry coals. JOHNSON.
Line 143. is dight himself four yards under the countermines:] Fluellen means, that the enemy had digged himself countermines four yards under the mines.
-will plow up all,] That is, he will blow up all.
-I sall quit you—] That is, I shall, with your
permission, requite you, that is, answer you, or interpose with my arguments, as I shall find opportunity.
there is an end.] It were to be wished, that the poor merriment of this dialogue had not been purchased with
so much profaneness.
ACT III. SCENE III.
Enlink'd to waste and desolation?] All the savage practices naturally concomitant to the sack of cities. JOHNSON.
ACT III. SCENE IV.
Scene IV.] I have left this ridiculous scene as I found it; and am sorry to have no colour left, from any of the editions, to imagine it interpolated. WARBURTON.
- Sir T. Hanmer has rejected it. The scene is indeed mean enough, when it is read; but the grimaces of two French women, and the odd accent with which they uttered the English, made it divert upon the stage. It may be observed, that there is in it not only the French language, but the French spirit. Alice compliments the princess upon her knowledge of four words, and tells her that she pronounces like the English themselves. The princess suspects no deficiency in her instructress, nor the instructress in herself. Throughout the whole scene there may be found French servility, and French vanity.
I cannot forbear to transcribe the first sentence of this dialogue VOL. X.
from the edition of 1608, that the reader, who has not looked into the old copies, may judge of the strange negligence with which they are printed.
"Kate. Alice venecia, vous aves cates en, vou parte fort bon Angloys englatara, coman sae palla vou la main en francoy.”
ACT III. SCENE V.
Line 355. luxury means lust.
our father's luxury,] In this place, as in others,
-savage-] is here used in the French original JOHNSON. sense, for silvan, uncultivated, the same with wild.
Line 364. In that 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 WARBURTON. of Great Britain.
Line 369. Can sodden water,
A drench for sur-rein'd jades,] The exact meaning of sur-reyn'd I do not know. It is common to give horses over-ridden or feverish ground malt and hot water mixed, which is called a JOHNSON. mash. To this he alludes. over-ridden; horses on whom the MALONE.
I suppose, sur-rein'd rein has remained too long.
Line 386. lavoltas high,] A very brisk dance.
394. Charles De-la-bret, &c.] Milton somewhere bids the English take notice how their names are misspelt by foreigners, and seems to think that we may lawfully treat foreign names, in return, with the same neglect. This privilege seems to be exercised in this catalogue of French names, which, since the sense of the author is not affected, I have left as I found it. JOHNSON. Line 404. With pennons-] i. e. small flags.
—melted snow— -] The poet has here defeated himself by passing too soon from one image to another. To bid the French rush upon the English as the torrents formed from melted snow stream from the Alps, was at once vehement and proper, but its force is destroyed by the grossness of the thought JOHNSON. in the next line.
ACT III. SCENE VI.
Line 437. but keeps the pridge most valiantly,] This is not an imaginary circumstance, but founded on an historical fact. After Henry had passed the Some, the French endeavoured to intercept him in his passage to Calais; and for that purpose attempted to break down the only bridge that there was over the small river of Ternois, at Blangi, over which it was necessary for Henry to pass. But Henry, having notice of their design, sent a part of his troops before him, who, attacking and putting the French to flight, preserved the bridge, till the whole English army arrived, and passed over it. MALONE.
Line 456. That goddess blind,] The picture of Fortune is taken from the old history of Fortunatus; where she is described to be a fair woman, muffled over the eyes.
Line 470. For he hath stol'n a pix,] Pix or pax was a little box in which were kept the consecrated wafers.
Line 504. -a sconce,] A sconce appears to have been a rude kind of entrenchment.
Line 513. such slanders of the age,] This was a character very troublesome to wise men in our author's time. "It is the practice with him (says Ascham) to be warlike, though he never looked enemy in the face; yet some warlike sign must be used, as a slovenly buskin, or an over-staring frownced head, as though out of every hair's top should suddenly start a good big oath." JOHNSON.
Line 542. -his fire's out.] This is the last time that any sport can be made with the red face of Bardolph, which, to confess the truth, seems to have taken more hold on Shakspeare's imagination than on any other. The conception is very cold. to the solitary reader, though it may be somewhat invigorated by the exhibition on the stage. This poet is always more careful about the present than the future, about his audience than his readers. JOHNSON.
Line 551. by my habit.] That his, by his herald's coat. The person of a herald being inviolable, was distinguished in those times of formality by a peculiar dress, which is likewise yet worn on particular occasions. JOHNSON.