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'Tis no counterfcit. Suf. 'Tis the right ring, by heaven: I told ye all, When we first put this dangerous stone a rolling, Twould fall upon ourselves. Nor.
Do you think, my lords, The king will suffer but the little finger Of this man to be vex'd ? | Cham.
'Tis now too certain : Ilow much more is his life in value with him? 'Would I were fairly out on 't. Crom.
My mind gave me, In seeking tales, and informations, Against this man, (whose honesty the devil And his disciples only envy at) Ye blew the fire that burns ye: Now hare at ye.
Enter King, frowning on them; takes his seat. Gar. Dread sovereign, how much are we bound to
heaven In daily thanks, that gave us such a prince; Not only good and wise, but most religious: One that, in all obedience, makes the church The chief aim of his honour; and, to strengthen That holy duty, out of dear respect, His royal self in judgment comes to hear The cause betwixt her and this great offender. K. Hen. You were ever good at sudden commenda
tions, Bishop of Winchester. But know, I come not To hear such flattery now, and in my presence;
7 This is the king's ring.) It seems to have been a custom, begun probably in the dark ages, before literature was generally diffused, and before the regal power experienced the restraints of law, for every monarch to have a ring, the temporary possession of which invested the bolder with the same authority as the owner himself could exercise. The production of it was sufficient to suspend the execution of the law; it procured indemnity for offences committed, and imposed acquiescence and submission on whatever was done under its authority. Instances abound in the history of almost every nation. See Procopius de bell. Vandal. L. I. p. 15, as quoted in Farnworth's Machiavel, Vol. I, p 9. The traditional story of the Earl of Essex, Queen Elizabeth, and the Countess of Nottingham, long considered as an incident of a ro. mance is generally known, and now as generally credited. See Birch's Vegotiations, p. 206. Reet. VOL. XI.
They are too thin and base to hide offences.o.
Sur. May it please your grace,
No, sir, it does not please me.
& They are too thin &c.] i.e. the commendations above mentioned. Mr. Pope, in the former line, changed flattery to flatteries, and this unnecessary emendation has been adopted by all the subsequent editors. I believe our author wrote
They are too thin and bare; and that the editor of the first folio, not understanding the word, changed it to base, as he did in King Henry IV, Part I. See Vol. VIII, p. 180, n. 9. Malone.
But know, I come not
They are too thin and base to hide offences. &c.] I think the pointing of these lines preferable to that in the former edition, in which they stand thus:
- I come not
They are too thin, &c.
To me you cannot reach: you play the spaniel,
And think with wagging of your tongue to win me. But the former of these lines should evidently be thus written:
To one you cannot reach you play the spaniel, the relative whom being understood. Whalley,
I think the old copy is right. Malone.
To me you cannot reach, you play the spaniel,
M. Mason In the punctuation of this passage I have followed the concurring advice of Mr. Whalley and Mr. M. Mason. Steevens.
1 Than but once think his place becomes thee not. Who dares to suppose that the place or situation in which he is, is not suitable to thee also? who supposes that thou' art not as fit for the office of a privy counsellor as he is. Mr. Rowe and all the subsequent editors read--this place.
I had thought, I had had men of some understanding
K. Hen. Well, well, my lords, respect him;
bury, I have a suit which you must not deny me; That is, a fair young maid that yet wants baptism,2
2 That is, &c.) My suit is, that you would be a godfather to a fair young maid, who is not yet christened. Mr. Rowe readsThere is, &c. and all the subsequent editors have adopted this unnecessary alteration. The final word her, we should now consider as superfluous; but we have many instances of a similar phraseology in these plays-or, the construction may be-A fair young maid, &c. you must be godfather (to), and answer for her. So before, in this play:
“ whoever the king favours,
“ And far enough from court too." Again, in The Merchant of Venice:
“How true a gentleman you send relief [to]." Again, in Julius Cæsar :
You must be godfather, 3 and answer for her.
Cran. The greatest monarch now alive may glory In such an honour; How may I deserve it, That am a poor and humble subject to you? K. Hen. Come, come, my lord, you 'd spare your
spoons;4 you shall have
' “ Thy honourable metal may be wrought
“ From what it is dispos'd .” See also Vol. VII, p. 351, n. 3, and a note on Cymbeline, sc. ult. Vol. XVI. Malone.
The superfluous pronoun in the text (if it be superfluous) may be justified by the following passage in Romeo and Juliet: "
this reverend holy friar, “ All our whole city is much bound to him.” Steevens. 3 You must be godfather,] Our prelates formerly were often employed on the like occasions. Cranmer was godfather to Edward VI. See Hall, fo. 232. Archbishop Warham to Henry's eldest son by Queen Katharine ; and the Bishop of Winchester to Henry himself. See Sandford, 479, 495. Reed.
4— you'd spare your spoons ;] It was the custom, long before the time of Shakspeare, for the sponsors at christenings to offer gilt spoons as a present to the child. These spoons were called apostle spoons, because the figures of the apostles were carved on the tops of the handles. Such as were at once opulent and generous, gave the whole twelve ; those who were either more mo. derately rich or liberal, escaped at the expence of the four evan. gelists; or even sometimes contented themselves with presenting one spoon only, which exhibited the figure of any saint, in honour of whom the child received its name.
In the year 1560, we find entered on the books of the Station. ers' company, “a spoyne, of the gyfte of master Reginold Wolfe all gylie with the pycture of St. John."
Ben Jonson also, in his Bartholomew Fair, mentions spoons of this kind: “- and all this for the hope of a couple of apostle spoons, and a cup to eat caudle in.”
So, in Middleton's comedy of A chaste Maid of Cheapside, 1620: “6 2 Gos. What has he given her!--what is it, gossip? 3 Gos. A faire high standing-cup, and two great 'postle spoons, one of them gilt. 1 Pur. Sure that was Judas then with the red beard." Again:
“E'en the same gossip 'twas that gave the spoons." Again, in Sir Wm. D’Avenant's comedy of The Wits, 1639:
" my pendants, carcanets, and rings,
“ Are dissolv'd into that lump.”
“ Didst ask her name?-
Two noble partners with you; the old duchess of Nor
“ And what they promis'd more, besides a spoon,
" And what apostle's picture.” Again, in The Noble Gentleman, by the same authors:
"I'll be a gossip, Bewford,
“ I have an odd apostle spoon.” Mr. Pegge, in his preface to A Forme of Cury, a Roll of ancient English Cookery, compiled about A. D. 1390, &c. observes, that “the general mode of eating must either have been with the spoon or the fingers; and this, perhaps, may have been the reason that spoons became the usual present from gossips to their godchildren, at christenings.” Steevens.
As the following story, which is found in a collection of anecdotes, entitled Merry Passages and Feasts, MSS. Harl. 6395, contains an allusion to this custom, and has not, I believe, been published, it may not be an improper supplement to this account of apostle spoons. It shows that our author and Ben Jonson were once on terms of familiarity and friendship, however cold and jealous the latter might have been at a subsequent period:
“Shakspeare was godfather to one of Ben Jonson's children, and after the christening, being in deepe study, Jonson came to cheer him up, and ask'd him why he was so melancholy: No'faith, Ben, says he, not I; but I have been considering a great while what should be the fittest gift for me to bestow upon my godchild, and I have resolv'd at last. I pr’ythee, what? says he.---'faith, Ben, I'll give him a douzen good latten (Latin) spoons, and thou shalt translate them.”
The collector of these anecdotes appears to have been nephew to Sir Roger L'Estrange. He names Donne as the relater of this story.
The practice of sponsors giving spoons at christenings continued to the latter end of the last century, as appears from a pamphlet written against Dryden, entitled The Reasons of Mr. Bayes's Conversion, &c. p. 14.
At one period it was the mode to present gifts of a different kind. - At this time,” [the first year of Queen Elizabeth) says the continuator of Stowe's Chronicle, "and for many yeeres before, it was not the use and custome, as now it is, (1631,s for gödfathers and godmothers generally to give plate at the baptism of children, (as spoones, cups, and such like,) but only to give christening shirts, with little hands and cuffs wrought either with silk or blue thread; the best of them for chief persons were edged with a small lace of blacke silke and goldle; the highest price of which for great men's children were seldom above a noble, and the common sort, two, threc, or four and five shillings a piece.”
Whether our author, when he speaks of apostle-spoons, has, as usual, attributed the practice of his own time to the reign of Henry VIII, I have not been able to ascertain. Probably howe.