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from this Jew, my master: The fiend is at mine elbow; and tempts me, saying to me, Gobbo, Launcelot Gobbo, good Launcelot, or good Gobbo, or good Launcelot, Gobbo, use your legs, take the start, run away: My conscience says,-no; take heed honest Launcelot; take heed honest Gobbo; or, as aforesaid, honest Launcelot Gobbo;, do not run; scorn running with thy heels:9 Well, the most courageous fiend bids me pack: via! says the fiend; away! says the fiend, for the heavens ;l rouse up a brave mind,
8 The old copies read-Enter the Clown alone; and throughout the play this character is called the Clown at most of his entrances or exits. Steevens.
9_ scorn running with thy heels :) Launcelot was designed for a wag, but perhaps not for an absurd one. We may therefore suppose, no such expression would have been put in his mouth, as our author had censured in another character. When Pistol says, “ he hears with ears," Sir Hugh Evans very properly is made to exclaim, “ The tevil and his tam! what phrase is this, he hears with ear? why it is affectations.” To talk of running with one's heels, has scarce less of absurdity. It has been suggested that we should read and point the passage as follows: " Do not run; scorn running; withe thy heels:" i. e. connect them with a withe, (a band made of osiers) as the legs of cattle are hamper. ed in some countries, to prevent their straggling far from home. The Irishman in Sir John Oldcastle petitions to be hanged in a withe ; and Chapman, in his version of the tenth Odyssey, has the following passage:
“ There let him lie
“I made together in a sure league meete.” I think myself bound, however, to add, that in Much Ado about Nothing, the very phrase, that in the present instance is disputed, occurs:
“O illegitimate construction! I scorn that with my heels;" i. e. I recalcitrate, kick up contemptuously at the idea, as animals throw up their hind legs. Such also may be Launcelot's meaning. Steevens.
I perceive no need of alteration. The pleonasm appears to me consistent with the general tenour of Launcelot's speech. He had just before expressed the same thing in three different ways: -"Use your legs'; take the start; run away.” Malone.
1_ away! says the fiend, for the heavens ;] As it is not likely that Shakspeare should make the Devil conjure Launcelot to do any thing for Heaven's sake, I have no doubt but this passage is corrupt, and that we ought to read:
“ Away! says the fiend, for the haven."
says the fiend, and run. Well, my conscience, hanging about the neck of my heart, says very wisely to me, - my honest friend Launcelot, being an honest man's son, -or rather an honest woman's son:-for, indeed, my father did something smack, something grow to, he had a kind of taste;-well, my conscience says, Launcelot, budge not; budge, says the fiend; budge not, says my conscience: Conscience, say I, you counsel well; fiend, say I, you counsel well: to be ruled by my conscience, I should stay with the Jew my master, who, (God bless the mark!) is a kind of devil; and, to run away from the Jew, I should be ruled by the fiend, who, saving your reverence, is the devil himself: Certainly, the Jew is the very devil incarnation; and, in my conscience, my conscience is but a kind of hard conscience, to offer to counsel me to stay with the Jew: The fiend gives the more friendly counsel: I will run, fiend; my heels are at your commandment, I will run.
Enter old GOBBO,2 with a basket. Gob. Master, young man, you, I pray you; which is the way to master Jew's?
Laun. [Aside] O heavens, this is my true begotten father! who, being more than sand-blind, high-gravel
By which Launcelot was to make his escape, if he was determined to run away. M. Mason.
- away! says the fiend, for the heavens;] i. e. Begone to the heavens. So again, in Much Ado about Nothing: “So I deliver up my apes, (to the devil) and away to St. Peter, for the heavens.”
Malone. Away! says the fiend, for the heavens;] I cannot agree with Mr. Malone in his explanation of this passage. Why does he suppose it not likely the devil should conjure Launcelot to do any thing for heaven's sake! does our author commit any impropriéty in representing the devil as a deceiver ? and why not represent him tempting Launcelot from his duty in the name of heaven? Why not except on the same ground to what follows? “ Conscience, say I, you counsel well; fiend, say I, you counsel well.” Mr. Mason and Mr. Malone appear desirous to attach a meaning to this passage never designed by the author. As it stands I can see no impropriety in the passage, whether the counsel is attributed to a fiend or an angel. Amer. Edit.
2 Enter old Gobbo,] It may be inferred from the name of Gobbo, that Shakspeare designed this character to be represented with a hump-back. Steevens.
blind, knows me not:-I will try conclusions with him.
Gob. Master young gentleman, I pray you, which is the way to master Jew's?
Laun, Turn up on your right hand, at the next turning, but, at the next turning of all, on your left; marry, at the very next turning, turn of no hand, but turn down indirectly to the Jew's house.
Gob. By God's sonties, 5 'twill be a hard way to hit. Can you tell me whether one Launcelot, that dwells with him, dwell with him, or no?
Laun. Talk you of young master Launcelot ?-Mark me now; [aside] now will I raise the waters:—Talk you of young master Launcelot?
Gob. No master, sir, but a poor man's son; his father, though I say it, is an honest exceeding poor man, and, God be thanked, well to live.
3_ try conclusions - To try conclusions is to try experi. ments. So, in Heywood's Golden Age, 1611:
“ since favour
“ Cannot attain thy love, I'll try conclusions." Again, in The Lancashire Witches, 1634:
“Nay then I'll try conclusions :
" And where I point thee, carry me.” Steevens. So quarto R.-Quarto H. and folio read-confusions. Malone.
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,
Theobald. 5— God's sonties,] I know not exactly of what oath this is a corruption. I meet with God's santy in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635:
Again, in The longer thou livest the more Fool thou art, a come. dy, bl. 1. without date:
" God's santie, this is a goodly book indeed. Perhaps it was customary to swear by the santé, i. e. health, of the Supreme Being, or by his saints; or, as Mr. Ritson observes to me, by his sanctity: Oaths of such a turn are not unfrequent among our ancient writers. All, however, seem to have been so thoroughly convinced of the crime of prophane swearing, that they were content to disguise their meaning by abbreviations which were permitted silently to terminate in irremediable corruptions. Steevens.
Laun. Well, let his father be what he will, we talk of young master Launcelot.
Gob. Your worship’s friend, and Launcelot, sir..
Laun. But I pray you ergo, old man, ergo, I beseech you; Talk you of young master Launcelot?
Gob. Of Launcelot, an 't please your mastership.
Laun. Ergo, master Launcelot; talk not of master Launcelot, father; for the young gentleman (according to fates and destinies, and such odd sayings, the sisters three, and such branches of learning) is, indeed, deceased; or, as you would say, in plain terms, gone to heaven.
Gob. Marry, God forbid! the boy was the very staff of my age, my very prop.
Laun. Do I look like a cudgel, or a hovel-post, a staff, or a prop ?-Do you know me, father?
Gob. Alack the day, I know you not, young gentleman: but, I pray you, tell me, is my boy, (God rest his soul!) alive, or dead?
Laun. Do you not know me, father?
Laun. Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of the knowing me: it is a wise father, that knows his own child. Well, old man, I will tell you news of your son: Give me your blessing:7 truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long, a man's son may; but, in the end, truth will out.
Gob. Pray you, sir, stand up; I am sure, you are not Launcelot, my boy.
Laun. Pray you, let's have no more fooling about it, but give me your blessing; I am Launcelot, your boy that was, your son that is, your child that shall be. 8
6 Your worship's friend, and Launcelot, sir.) Dr. Farmer is of opinion we should read Gobbo instead of Launcelot; and observes, that phraseology like this occurs also in Love's Labour's Lost:
" your servant, and Costard.” Steevens.
and Launcelot, sir,] i. e. plain Launcelot; and not, as you term him, master Launcelot. Malone.
? Give me your blessing :) In this conversation between Launcelot and his blind father, there are frequent references to the deception practised on the blindness of Isaac, and the blessing obtained in consequence of it. Henley.
i — your child that shall be.] Launcelot probably here inGob. I cannot think, you are my son.
Laun. I know not what I shall think of that: but I am Launcelot, the Jew's man; and, I am sure, Margery, your wife, is my mother.
Gob. Her name is Margery, indeed: I'll be sworn, if thou be Launcelot, thou art mine own flesh and blood. Lord worshipp'd might he be! what a beard hast thou got! thou hast got more hair on thy chin, than Dobbin my thill-horse has on his tail.9
Laun. It should seem then, that Dobbin's tail grows backward; I am sure he had more hair on his tail, than I have on my face, when I last saw him.
Gob. Lord, how art thou changed! How dost thou and thy master agree? I have brought him a present; How 'gree you now?
dulges himself in talking nonsense. So, afterwards:-"you may tell every finger I have with my ribs.” An anonymous critick supposes: “he means to say, I was your child, I am your boy, and shall ever be your son.” But son not being first mentioned, but placed in the middle member of the sentence, there is no ground for supposing such an inversion intended by our author. Besides, if Launcelot is to be seriously defended, what would his father learn, by being told that he who was his child, shall be his son Malone..
Launcelot may mean, that he shall hereafter prove his claim to the title of child, by his dutiful behaviour. Thus, says the Prince of Wales to King Henry IV: I will redeem my character:
“ And, in the closing of some glorious day,
my thill-horse-1 Thill or fill, means the shafts of a cart or waggon. So, in A Woman never vex'd, 1632:
“I' the fills.” Again, in Fortune by Land and Sea, 1655, by Thomas Heywood and W. Rowley: “ -- acquaint you with Jock the fore-horse, and Fib the fil-horse," &c. Steevens.
All the ancient copies have phil-horse, but no dictionary that I have met with acknowledges the word. It is, I am informed, a corruption used in some counties for the proper term, thill-horse.
Malone. See Christie's Catalogue of the effects of
F P , Esq. 1794, p. 6, lot. 50: “ Chain-harness for two horses, and phill harness for two horses.” Steevens.
Phil or fill is the term in all the midland counties,-thill, would not be understood. Harris.