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Gosson's book, called Playes confuted in several actions:—“They might have vailed and bended to the king's idol."
-would almost damn those ears.] Several old editions have it, dam, damme, and daunt. Some more correct copies, damn. The author's meaning is this; That some people are thought wise, whilst they keep silence; who, when they open their mouths, are such stupid praters, that the hearers cannot help calling them fools, and so incur the judgment denounc'd in the Gospel.
5-sometimes-) sometimes and sometime, in old English, meant formerly.
• Ay that's a colt indeed.] Colt is used for a witless, heady, gay youngster, whence the phrase used of an old man too juvenile, that he still retains his colt's tooth. See Hen. VIII.
JOHNSON ? - there is the county Palatine.] I am always inclined to believe, that Shakspeare bas more allusions to particular facts and persons than his readers commonly suppose. The count here mentioned was, perhaps, Albertus a Lasco, a Polish Palatine, who visited England in our author's time, was eagerly caressed, and splendidly entertained; but running in debt, at last stole away, and endeavoured to repair his fortune by enchantment.
JOHNSON. 8 he hath neither Latin, French, nor Italian; A satire on the ignorance of the young English travellers in our author's time.
WARBURTON. — Scottish lord,] Scottish, which is in the quarto, was omitted in the first folio, for fear of giving offence to king James's countrymen,
10 I think, the Frenchman became his surety.] Alluding to the constant assistance, or rather constant promises of assistance, that the French gave the Scots in their quarrels with the English. This alliance is here humourously satirized.
" How like you the young German?] in Shakspeare's time the duke of Bavaria visited London, and was made knight of the garter.
Perhaps in this enumeration of Portia’s suitors, there may
be some covert allusion to those of Queen Elizabeth.
JOHNSON. 12 -catch him once upon the hip.] A phrase taken from the practice of wrestlers. JOHNSON.
13 ---the ripe wants of my friend.] Ripe wants are wants come to the height, wants that can have no longer delay. Perhaps we might read, rife wants, wants that come thick upon him. JOHNSON.
14 0! what a goodly outside falshood hath.) Falsehood, which as truth means honesty, is taken here for treachery and knavery, does not stand for falshood in general, but for the dishonesty now operating.
JOHNSON. 15 A breed of barren metal of his friend?] A breed, that is interest money bred from the principal. By the epithet barren, the author would instruct us in the argument on which the advocates against usury went, which is this, that money is a barren thing,
and cannot like corn and cattle multiply itself. And to set off the absurdity of this kind of usury, he put breed and barren in opposition.
16 —dwell in my necessity.) To dwell seems in this place to mean the same as to continue. To abide has both the senses of habitation and conti
JOHNSON. 17 To prove whose blood is reddest, his or mine.] To understand how the tawny prince, whose savage dignity is very well supported, means to recommend himself by this challenge, it must be remembered that red blood is a traditionary sign of courage: Thus Macbeth calls one of his frighted soldiers, a lily liver'd Lown; again in this play, Cowards are said to have livers as white as milk; and an effeminate and timorous man is termed a milksop. JOHNSON.
18 Hath fear'd the valiant;] i.e. terrify'd. To fear is often used by our old writers, in this sense. So B. Jonson, in Every Man in his Humour: “Make him a warrant, (he shall not go) “ I but fear the knave.” So again in Hen. VI. 3d Part:
“ Thou seest what's past, go fear thy king withall." So again in the same play;
“ For Warwick was a bug that fear'd us all.” And again in Hen. IV. Part II. “ The people fear me, for they do observe “ Unfather'd heirs, &c.
STEEVENS. 19 So is Alcides beaten by his page.] Though the whole set of editions concur in reading, beaten by his
rage, yet it is corrupt at bottom. Let us look into the poet's drift, and the history of the persons mentioned in the context. If Hercules, (says he) and Lichas were to play at dice for the decision of their superiority, Lichas, the weaker man, might have the better cast of the two. But how then is Alcides beaten by his rage? The poet means no more, than, if Lichas had the better throw, so might Hercules himself be beaten by Lichas. And who was he, but a poor unfor. tunate servant of Hercules, that unknowingly brought his master the envenom'd shirt, dipt in the blood of the Centaur Nessus, and was thrown headlong into the sea for his pains ? This one circumstance of Lichas's quality known, sufficiently ascertains the emendation, I have substituted page instead of rage.
20 Enter LAUNCELOT GOBBO.] The old copies read - Enter the Clown alone; and throughout the play he is called so at most of his entrances or exits.
21 Turn up, on your right hand, &c.] This arch and perplexed direction, to puzzle the enquirer, seems to imitate that of Syrus to Demea in the Brothers of Terence:
-ubi eas præterieris, Ad sinistram hac rectâ plated: ubi ad Diane veneris, Ito ad dextrum: prius quam ad portam venias, &c.
By God's sonties--] i. e. By God's sanctilies or holiness.
23 Well, if any man in Italy hath a fairer table, &c.] The chiromantic term for the lines of the hand. So Ben Jonson in his Mask of gipsies to the lady Elizabeth Hatton :
Mistress of a fairer table,
Hath not history nor fable. Which doth offer to swear upon a book, &c.] This nonsense seems to have taken its rise from the accident of a lost line in transcribing the play for the press; so that the passage, for the future, should be printed thus,-Well, if any man in Italy, have a fairer table, which doth ****** offer to swear upon a book, I shall have good fortune. It is impossible to find, again, the lost line: but the lost sense is easy enough if any man in Italy have a fairer table, which doth [promise luck, I am mistaken. I durst almost] offer to swear upon a book, I shall have good fortune.
WARBURTON. Dr. Warburton understood the word, but puzzles himself with no great success in the pursuit of the meaning. The whole matter is this: Launcelot congratulates himself upon bis dexterity and good fortune, and, in the height of his rapture, inspects his hand, and congratulates himself upon the felicities in his table. The act of expounding his hand puts him in mind of the action in which the palm is shewn, by raising it to lay it on the book, in judicial attestations. Well, says he, if any man in Italy have a fairer table, that doth offer to swear upon a