« ZurückWeiter »
occurs in the old dramatick writers. A man in The Coxcomb of Beaumont and Fletcher, speaking to an Irish servant, says, “ I'll bave 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.
WARBURTON. There is a better proof, that Shakspeare knew the order of night and day, in Macbeth:
“ Now o'er the one half world
“ Nature seems dead.” But there was no great need of any justification. The VOL. VII.
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.
JOHNSON. 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.
JOHNSON 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.
POPE. 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 unwilling merriment.
JOHNSON. 47 Can sleep so soundly, &c.] These lines are exquisitely pleasing. To sweat in the eye of Phoebus, and to sleep in Elysium, are expressions very poetical.
JOHNSON. 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.
50 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.
JOHNSON. -like candlesticks With torch-staves in their hand :] Candlesticks
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 lit-] Gimmal is a ring: therefore, as Dr. Johnson says, a gimmal-bit, is a bit formed of several rings or parts which play obe 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.
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