« PreviousContinue »
King. I would I had that corporal soundness now,
It much repairs me To talk of your good father:] To repair, in these plays, generally signifies to renovate. So, in Cymbeline :
O disloyal thing,
To-day in our young lords ; but they may jest,
Ere they can hide their levity in honour. ] I believe honour is not dignity of birth or rank, but acquired reputation :-Your father, says the king, had the same airy flights of satirical wit with the young lords of the present time, but they do not what he did, hide their unnoted levity, in honour, cover petty faults with great merit.
This is an excellent observation. Jocoseofollies, and slight offences, are only allowed by mankind in him that over-powers them by great qualities. Fohnson. Point thus :
He had the wit, which I can well observe
So like a courtier, Contempt, &c. Blackstone.
a courtier, contempt nor bitterness Were in his pride or sharpness; if they were,
His equal had awak'd them:] Nor was used without reduplication. So, in Measure for Measure :
“ More nor less to others paying,
Clock to itself, knew the true minute when
The old text needs to be explained. He was so like a courtier, that there was in his dignity of manner nothing contemptuous, and in his keenness of wit nothing bitter. If bitterness or contemptuousness ever appeared, they had been awakened by some injury, not of a man below him, but of his equal. This is the complete image of a well-bred man, and somewhat like this Voltaire has exhibited his hero, Lewis XIV. Johnson.
1 His tongue obey'd his hand:] We should read-His tongue obey'd the hand. That is, the hand of his honour's clock, showing the true minute when exceptions bad him speak. Johnson. His is put for its. So, in Othello:
her motion “ Blush'd at herself,”-instead of itself. Steevens. 2 He us'd as creatures of another place;] i. e. he made allowances for their conduct, and bore from them what he would not from one of his own rank. The Oxford editor, not understand. ing the sense, has altered another place to a brother-race.
Warburton. I doubt whether this was our author's meaning. I rather incline to think that he meant only, that the father of Bertram treated those below him with becoming condescension, as creatures not indeed in so high a place as himself, but yet holding a certain place; as one of the links, though not the largest, of the great chain of society.
In The Winter's Tale, place is again used for rank or situation in life:
O thou thing, “ Which I'll not call a creature of thy place." Malone. 3 Making them proud of his humility,
In their poor praise he humbled:] But why were they proud of his humility? It should be read and pointed thus:
Making them proud ; and his humility,
In their poor praise, he humbled i. e. by condescending to stoop to his inferiors, he exalted them and made them proud; and in the gracious receiving their poor praise, he humbled even his humility. The sentiment is fine.
Warburton. Every man has seen the mean too often proud of the humility of the great, and perhaps the great may sometimes be humbled in the praises of the mean, of those who commend them without
Might be a copy to these younger times;
His good remembrance, sir,
conviction or discernment: this, however, is not so common; the mean are found more frequently than the great. Fohnson.
I think the meaning is-Making them proud of receiving such marks of condescension and affability from a person in so elevated a situation, and at the same time lowering or humbling himself, by stooping to accept of the encomiums of mean persons for that humility. The construction seems to be, “he being humbled in their poor praise." Malone.
Giving them a better opinion of their own importance, by his condescending manner of behaving to them. M. Mason. 4 So in approof lives not his epitaph,
As in your royal speech.] Epitaph for character. Warburton. I should wish to read
Approof so lives not in his epitaph,
As in your royal speech. Approof is approbation. If I should allow Dr. Warburton's interpretation of epitaph, which is more than can be reasonably expected, I can yet find no sense in the present reading. Johnson. We might, by a slight transposition, read
So his approof lives not in epitaph.
“ A man so absolute in my approof,
“That he enjoys not.” Again, in Measure for Measure:
“ Either of condemnation or approof” Steevens. Perhaps the meaning is this:-His epitaph or inscription on his tomb is not so much in approbation or commendation of him, as is your royal speech. Tollet.
There can be no doubt but the word approof is frequently used in the sense of approbation, but this is not always the case; and in this place it signifies proof or confirmation. The meaning of the passage appears to be this: “The truth of his epitaph is in no way so fully proved, as by your royal speech.” It is needless to remark, that epitaphs generally contain the character and praises of the deceased. Approof is used in the same sense by Bertram, in the second Act:
“ Laf. But I hope your lordship thinks him not a soldier. “ Ber. Yes, my lord, and of very valiant approof.” M. Mason.
Mr. Heath supposes the meaning to be this: “ His epitaph or the character he left behind him, is not so well established by
King. 'Would, I were with him! He would always say,
-Let me not live,
the specimens he exhibited of his worth, as by your royal report in his favour.” The passage above quoted from Act II, supports this interpretation. Malone. 5 Thus - ) Old copy-This. Corrected by Mr. Pope.
Malone. - whose judgments are Mere fathers of their garments ;] Who have no other use of their faculties, than to invent new modes of dress. Johnson.
I have a suspicion that Shakspeare wrote-mere feathers of their garments ; i. e. whose judgments are merely parts (and insignificant parts) of their dress, worn and laid aside, as feathers are, from the mere love of novelty and change. He goes on to say,
that they are even less constant in their judgments than in their dress :
their constancies Expire before their fashions. Tyrwhitt. The reading of the old copy-fathers, is supported by a similar passage in Cymbeline :
some jay of Italy
No, nor thy tailor, rascal,
“ Which, as it seems, make thee.” There the garment is said to be the father of the man:- in the text, the judgment, being employed solely in forming or giving birth to new dresses, is called the father of the garment. So, in King Henry IV, P. II:
every minute now “Should be the father of some stratagem.” Malone.
You are lov'd, şir; They, that least lend it you, shall lack you first.
King. I fill a place, I know 't.-How long is 't, count, Since the physician at your father's died? He was much fam’d. Ber.
Some six months since, my lord. King. If he were living, I would try him yet; Lend me an arm ;---the rest have worn me out With several applications:-nature and sickness Debate it? at their leisure. Welcome, count; My son 's no dearer. Ber.
Thank your majesty.
[Exeunt. Flourish. SCENE III.
Rousillon. A Room in the Countess's Palace.
Enter Countess, Steward, and Clown.8 Count. I will now hear: what say you of this gentlewoman?
7nature and sickness
“ Death and nature do contend about them.” Steevens.
Stezvard, and Clown.) A Clown in Shakspeare is commonly taken for a licensed jester, or domestick fool. We are not to wonder that we find this character often in his plays, since fools were at that time maintained in all great families, to keep up merriment in the house. In the picture of Sir Thomas More's family, by Hans Holbein, the only servant represented is Patison the fool. This is a proof of the familiarity to which they were admitted, not by the great only, but the wise.
In some plays, a servant, or a rustic, of a remarkable petulance and freedom of speech, is likewise called a clown.
Fohnson. Cardinal Wolsey, after his disgrace, wishing to show King Henry VIII a mark of his respect, sent him his fool Patch, as a present; whom, says Stowe, “the King received very gladly."
Malone, This dialogue, or that in Twelfth Night, between Olivia and the Clown, seems to have been particularly censured by Cartwright, in one of the copies of verses prefixed to the works of Beaumont and Fletcher:
“ Shakspeare to thee was dull, whose best jest lies