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That in the natures of their lords rebels;
Bring oil to fire, snow to their colder moods;
Renege, affirm, and turn their halcyon beaks
With every gale and vary of their masters,3
As knowing nought,4 like dogs, but following.-
A plague upon your epileptick visage 5
Smile you my speeches, as I were a fool?
Goose, if I had you upon Sarum plain,
I'd drive ye cackling home to Camelot.6

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Mr. Holt White has observed, in a note on Pericles, that in some counties they say—“ smooth the cat," instead of “ stroke the cat." Thus also Milton:

smoothing the raven down " Of darkness Thus also in Stubbes's Anatomie of Abuses, 8vo. 1583 :.“ If you will learn to deride, scoffe, mock, and flowt, to flatter and smooth,&c. Steevens.

and turn their halcyon beaks With every gale and vary of their masters,] The halcyon is the bird otherwise called the king-fisher. The vulgar opinion was,

that this bird, if hung up, would vary with the wind, and by that means show from what point it blew. So, in Marlowe's Few of Malta, 1633:

« But how now stands the wind ?

“ Into what corner peers iny halcyon's bill ?. Again, in Storer's Life and Death of Thomas Wolsey, Cardinall, a


poem, 1599:


“ Oras a halcyon with her turning brest,

“ Demonstrates wind from wind, and east from west." Again, in The Tenth Booke of Notable Thinges, by Thomas Lupton, 4to. bl. 1: « A lytle byrde called the Kings Fysher, being hanged up in the ayre by the neck, his nebbe or byli wyll be alwayes dyrect or strayght against ye winde.” Steevens.

4 As knowing nought,] As was supr'od by Sir Thomas Hanmer, for the sake of connection as well as metre.

Steevens. epileptick visage!] The frighted countenance of a man ready to fall in a fit. Fohnson.

- Camelot.] Was the place where the romances say king Ar. thur kept his court in the West; so this alludes to some proverbial speech in those romances. Warburton. So, in The Birth of Merlin, 1662:

raise more powers - To man with strength the castle Camelot.Again, in Drayton's Polyolbion, Song III:

“ Like Camelot, what place was ever yet renown'd ?

“ Where, as at Carlion, oft he kept the table round.” Steevens. In Somersetshire, near Camelot, are many large moors, where are bred great quantities of geese, so that many other places are from hence supplied with quills and feathers. Hanmer.


Corn. What, art thou mad, old fellow?

How fell you out? Say that.

Kent. No contraries hold more antipathy, Than I and such a knave.? Corn. Why dost thou call him knave? What's his of

fence ? Kent. His countenance likes me not.8 Corn. No more, perchance, does mine, or his, or hers.

Kent. Sir, 'tis my occupation to be plain ;
I have seen better faces in my time,
Than stands on any shoulder that I see
Before me at this instant.

This is some fellow,
Who, having been prais'd for bluntness, doth affect
A saucy roughness; and constrains the garb,
Quite from his nature :9 He cannot flatter, he!
An honest mind and plain, he must speak truth:
An they will take it, so; if not, he's plain.
These kind of knaves I know, which in this plainness
Harbour more craft, and more corrupter ends,
Than twenty silly ducking observants,
That stretch their duties nicely.



7 No contraries hold more antipathy,
Than I and such a knave.] Hence Mr. Pope's expression :

“ The strong antipathy of good to bad." Tollet.

likes me not.] i. e. pleases me not. So in Every Man out of his Humour :

“ I did but cast an amorous eye, e'en now,

Upon a pair of gloves that somewhat lik'd me.” Again, in The Sixth Booke of Notable Thinges, by Thomas Lupton, 40. bl. 1: 66 - if the wyne have gotten his former strength, the water will smell, and then the wyne will lyke thee.” Steevens.

constrains the garb, Quite from his nature:] Forces his outside or his appearance to something totally different from his natural disposition. Johnson.

1 Than twenty silly ducking observants,] Silly means simple, or rustick. So, in Cymbeline, Act V, sc. iii:

“ There was a fourth man in a silly habit,” meaning Posthumus in the dress of a peasant. Nicely is with punctilious folly. Niais. Fr.

Steevens. See Cymbeline, Act V, sc. iii. Nicely is, I think, with the utmost exactness, with an attention to the most minute trifle. So, in Romeo and Juliet:

“ The letter was not nice, but full of charge." Malone.

Kent. Sir, in good sooth, in sincere verity,
Under the allowance of your grand aspect,
Whose influence, like the wreath of radiant fire
On flickering Phæbus' front-

What mean'st by this? Kent. To go out of my dialect, which you discommend so much. I know, sir, I am no flatterer : he that beguiled you, in a plain accent, was a plain knave; which, for my part, I will not be, though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to it.3 Corn. What was the offence

you gave him?
It pleas'd the king his master, very late,
To strike at me, upon his misconstruction;
When he, conjunct, and flattering his displeasure,
Tripp'd me behind; being down, insulted, rail'd,
And put upon him such a deal of man,
That worthy'd him, got praises of the king

Never any : 4

? On flickering Phabus' front,] Dr. Johnson, in his Dictionary, says this word means to flutter. I meet with it in The History of Clyomon, Knight of the Golden Shield, 1599:

By flying force of flickering fame your grace shall under

Again, in The Pilgrim of Beaumont and Fletcher :

some castrel
" That hovers over her, and dares her daily;

“Some flickring slave." Stanyhurst, in his translation of the fourth Book of Virgil's Æneid, 1582, describes Iris

“ From the sky down flickering,” &c. And again, in the old play, entitled, Fuimus Troes, 1633 :

“With gaudy pennons flickering in the air.” Steevens. Dr. Johnson's interpretation is too vague for the purpose. To flicker is indeed to flutter ; but in a particular manner, which may be bet. ter exemplified by the motion of a flame, than explained by any verbal description. Henley.

though I should win your displeasure to entreat me to it.] Though I should win you, displeased as you now are, to like me so well as to entreat me to be a knave. Johnson. 4 Never any : ] Old copy:

I never gave him any. The words here omitted, which are unnecessary to sense and injurious to metre, were properly extruded by Sir T. Hanmer as a mani. fest interpolation. Steevens.

conjunct,] is the reading of the old quartos; compact, of the folio. Steevens.



For him attempting who was self-subdu'd;
And, in the fleshmentot of this dread exploit,
Drew on me here.?

None of these rogues, and cowards,
But Ajax is their fool.3

Fetch forth the stocks, ho!
You stubborn ancient knave, you reverend braggart,
We'll teach you

Sir, I am too old to learn :
Call not your stocks for me: I serve the king;
On whose employment I was sent to you:
You shall do small respect, show too bold malice
Against the grace and person of my master,
Stocking his messenger.

Fetch forth the stocks :


- fleshment - ] A young soldier is said to flesh his sword, the first time he draws blood with it. Fleshment, therefore, is here metaphorically applied to the first act of service, which Kent, in his new capacity, had performed for his master ; and, at the same time, in a sarcastick sense, as though he had esteemed it an heroick exploit to trip a man behind, that was actually falling. Henley.

So, in The First Part of King Henry IV, Vol. VIII, p. 332:
P. Hen. “Come, brother Fohn, full bravely hast thou flesh'd

Thy maiden sword." Am. Ed. 7 Drew on me here.] Old copy:

Drew on me here again. But as Kent had not drawn on him before, and as the adverb. again, corrupts the metre, I have ventured to leave it out. Steevens.

8 But Ajax is their fool.) Meaning, as we should now express it. Ajax is a fool to them, there are none of these knaves and cowards, that if you believe themselves, are not so brave, that Ajax is a fool compared to them; alluding to the Steward's account of their quarrel, where he says of Kent, “ This ancient rufhan, whose life I have spared in pity to his gray beard.” When a man is compared to one who excels him very much in any art or quality—it is a vulgar ex. pression to say, “ He is but a fuol to him.M. Mason.

The foregoing explanation of this passage was suggested also by Mr. Malone, in his Second Appendix to the Supplement to Shakspeare, 8vo. 1783, in opposition to an idea of mine, which I readily allow to have been erroneous. Steevens.

Our poet has elsewhere employed the same phraseology. So, in The Taming of the Shrew:

" Tut, she's a lamb, a dove, a fool to him." The phrase in this sense is yet used in low language. Malone.

- ancient knuve,] Two of the quartos read-miscreant knave, and one of them-unreverent, instead of reverend. Sieevens. VOL. XIV.



As I've life and honour, there shall he sit till noon.

Reg. Till noon! till night, my lord; and all night too.

Kent. Why, madam, if I were your father's dog,
You should not use me so.

Sir, being his knave, I will.

[Stocks brought out. Corn. This is a fellow of the self-same colour2 Our sister speaks of :~Come, bring away the stocks.

Glo. Let me beseech your grace not to do so :
*His faults is much, and the good king his master
Will check him for 't: your purpos'd low correction
Is such, as basest and contemned’st wretches,4
For pilferings and most common trespasses,
Are punish'd with :* the king must take it ill,
That he's so slightly valued in his messenger,
Should have him thus restrain'd.

I'll answer that.
Reg. My sister may receive it much more worse,
To have her gentleman abus'd, assaulted,
For following her affairs.5—Put in his legs.-

[KENT is put in the Stocks.6 Come, my good lord; away. [Exeunt Reg. and Corn. Glo. I am sorry for thee, friend; 'tis the duke's plea

sure, Whose disposition, all the world well knows,


1 Stocks &c.] This is not the first time that stocks had been introduced on the stage. In Hick Scorner, which was printed early in the reign of King Henry VIII, Pity is put into them, and left there till he is freed by Perseverance and Contemplacyon. Steevens.

colour -] The quartos read, nature. Steevens. 3 His fault - ) All between the asterisks is omitted in the folio.

Steevens. and contemned'st wretches,] The quartos read—and teinnest wretches. This conjectural emendation was suggested by Mr. Stee

Malone. I found this correction already made in an ancient hand in the margin of one of the quarto copies. Steevens. 5 For following her affairs. &c.] This line is not in the folio.

Malone. 6 I know not whether this circumstance of putting Kent in the stocks be not ridiculed in the punishment of Numps, in Ben Jonson's Bartholomew Fair.

It should be remembered, that formerly in great houses, as still in some colleges, there were moveable stocks for the correction of the servants. Farmer.


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