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Old as I am, to queen it: But,
pray you, What think
No, in truth.
do talk !
In faith, for little England
Pluck off a little; &c.] What must she pluck off? I think we may better read:
Pluck up a little. Pluck up! is an idiomatical expression for take courage. Johnson.
The old lady first questions Anne Bullen about being a queen, which she declares her aversion to; she then proposes the title of a duchess, and asks her if she thinks herself equal to the task of sustaining it; but as she still declines the offer of greatness,
Pluck off a little, says she; i. e. let us still further divest preferment of its glare, let us descend yet lower, and more upon a level with your own quality; and then adds:
I would not be a young count in your way, which is an inferior degree of honour to any before enumerated.
Would for Carnarvonshire,) Little England seems very properly opposed to all the world; but what has Carnarvonshire to do here? Does it refer to the birth of Edward II, at Carnarvon ? or may not this be the allusion? By little England is meant, perhaps, that territory in Pembrokeshire, where the Flemings settled in Henry Ist's time, who speaking a language very different from the Welsh, and bearing some affinity to the English, this fertile spot was called by the Britons, as we are told by Camden, Little England be; ond Wales; and, as it is a very fruitful country, may be justly opposed to the mountainous and barren county of Carnarvon. Whalley.
So, in A short Relation of a long Journey &c. by John Taylor the Water Poet: “Concerning Pembrookshire, the people do speak English in it almost generally, and therefore they call it Little
No more to the crown but that. Lo, who comes here?
Enter the Lord Chamberlain.
My good lord,
Cham. It was a gentle business, and becoming
Now I pray God, amen!
England beyond Wales, it being the farthest south and west county in the whole principality." Steevens.
You'd venture an emballing :) You would venture to be distin. guished by the ball, the ensign of royalty. Fohnson.
Dr. Jobinson's explanation cannot be right, because a queen-consort, such as Anne Bullen was, is not distinguished by the ball, the ensign of royalty, nor has the poet expressed that she was so distinguished Tollet.
Mr. Tollet's objection to Johnson's explanation is an hypercriticism. Shakspeare did not probably consider so curiously his distinction between a queen consort and a queen regent.
M. Mason. Might we read
You'd venture an empalling; i. e. being invested with the pall or robes of state ? The word occurs in the old tragedy of King Edward III, 1596:
“As with this armour I impall thy breast —." And, in Macbeth, the verb to pall is used in the sense of enrobe :
“ And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell." Malone. The word recommended by Mr. Malone occurs also in Chapman's version of the eighth Book of Homer's Odyssey:
such a radiance as doth round empall “ Crown'd Cytherea,” Steevens. Might we not read-an embalming? A queen consort is anointed at her coronation; and in King Richard lī, the word is used in that sense:
“ With my own tears I wash away my balm." Dr. Johnson properly explains it, the oil of consecration. Whalley.
The Old Lady's jocularity, I am afraid, carries her beyond the bounds of decorum; but her quibbling allusion is more easily comprehended than explained. Ritson.
Commends his good opinion to you, and
I do not know,
1 Commends his good opinion to you,) Thus the old copy, and subsequent editors. Mr Malone reads:
Commends his good opinion of you. Steevens. The words to you, in the next line, must in construction be understood here. The old copy, indeed, reads:
Commends his good opinion of you to you, and. but the metre sbows that cannot be right. The words—to you were probably accidentally omitted by the compositor in the second line, and being marked by the corrector as out, (to speak technically) were inserted in the wrong place. The old error being again marked, the words that were wanting were properly inserted in the second line where they now stand, and the new error in the first was overlooked. In the printing-house this frequently bappens. Malone.
It is as probable that, in the present instance, a correction and the erasure that was designed to make room for it, bave both been printed
The phrase I found in the text I have not disturbed, as it is supported by a passage in Antony and Cleopatra:
“ Commend unto his lips thy favouring hand.” Again, in King Lear:
“I did commend your highness', letters to them.” Steevens. 2 More than my all is nothing :) Not only my all is nothing, but
all were more than it is, it were still nothing Johnson. So, in Macbeth: “ More is thy due than more than all can pay.” Steevens.
nor my prayers Are not words duly hallow'd, &c.] It appears to me absolutely necessary, in order to make sense of this passage, to read:
my prayers Are not words duly hallow'd, &c. instead of “nor my prayers."
Anne's argument is this: “More than my all is nothing, for my prayers and wishes are of no value, and yet prayers and wishes are all I have to return." M Mason.
The double negative, it has been already observed, was cominonly used in our author's time For my prayers, a reading introduced by Mr. Pope, even if VOL. XI.
More worth than empty vanities; yet prayers, and wishes,
such arbitrary changes were allowable, ought not to be admitted here, this being a distinct proposition, not an illation from what has gone before. I know not, (says Anne) what external acts of duty and obeisance I ought to return for such unmerited fa
All I can do of that kind, and even more, if more were possible, would be insufficient: nor are any prayers that I can offer up for my benefactor sufficiently sanctified, nor any wishes that I can breathe for his happiness, of more value than the most worthless and empty vanities. Malone.
4 I shall not fail &c.) I shall not omit to strengthen, by my commendation, the opinion which the King has formed. Johnson.
- I have perus’d her well;] From the many artful strokes of address the poet has thrown in upon Queen Elizabeth and her mother, it should seem that this play was written and performed in his royal mistress's time: if so, some lines were added by him in the last scene, after the accession of her successor, King James. Theobalt.
a gem, To lighten all this isle?] Perhaps alluding to the carbuncle, a gem supposed to have intrinsick light, and to shine in the dark: any other gem may reflect light, but cannot give it. Fohnson. So, in Titus Andronicus :
“A precious ring, that lightens all the hole.” Steevens. Thus, in a palace described in Amadis de Gaule, Trans. 1619, fol B. IV, p 5: “In the roofe of a chamber hung two lampes of gold, at the bottomes whereof were enchased two carbuncles, which gave so bright a splendour round about the roome, that there was no neede of any other light.” With a reference to this no. tion, I imagine, Milton, speaking of the orb of the sun, says: “If stone, carbuncle most or chrysolite."
Paradise Lost, B. III, v. 596. And that we have in Antony and Cleopatra:
were it carbuncled
And say, I spoke with you.
My honour'd lord.
[Exit Ld. Cham. Old L. Why, this it is; see, see! I have been begging sixteen years in court, (Am yet a courtier beggarly) nor could Come pat betwixt too early and too late, For any suit of pounds: and you, (O fate!) A very fresh-fish here, (fy, fy upon This compelld fortune!) have your mouth fill’d up, Before you open it. Anne.
This is strange to me.
Anne. Come, you are pleasant.
With your theme, I could
is it bitter? forty pence, no.) Mr. Roderick, in his appendix to Mr. Edwards's book, proposes to read:
for two-pence, The old reading may, however, stand. Forty pence was, in those days, the proverbial expression of a small wager, or a small sum. Money was then reckoned by pounds, marks, and nobles. Forty pence is half a noble, or the sixth part of a pound. Forty pence, or three and four pence, still remains, in many offices, the legal and established fee. So, in King Richard II, Act V, sc. v:
“ The cheapest of us is ten groats too dear." Again in All's Well that Ends Well, Act II, the Clown says: " As fit as ten groats for the hand of an attorney."
Again, in Green's Groundwork of Coneycatching: “- wagers laying, &c. forty pence gaged against a match of wrestling."
Again, in the longer thou livest the more Fool thou art, 1570: “I dare wage with any man forty pence.” Again, in The Storye of King Darius, 1565, an interlude:
“Nay, that I will not for fourty pence.” Steevens. & For all the mud in Egypt:] The fertility of Egypt is derived from the mud and slime of the Nile. Steevens.