« PreviousContinue »
king is speaking of the panegyricks pronounced by the two lovers on their mistresses.
One was formerly pronounced on. Hence the mis. take. See a note on The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
The same mistake has happened in All's Well that Ends Well (first folio):
“ A traveller is a good thing after dinner-but on that lies two thirds,” &c.
The two words are frequently confounded in our ancient dramas.
Since I wrote the above, I have found my conjecture confirmed by the first quarto edition of this play, 1598, which reads, “ One, her hairs," &c.
MALONE. 477 How will he triumph, leap, and laugh at it?] To leap is to exult, to skip for joy. JOHNSON. 484. Your
do make no cuaches;- -] Alluding to a passage in the king's sonnet : “No drop but as a coach doth carry
STEEVENS, 495 To see a king transformed to a knot !] Knot has no sense that can suit this place. We may read sot. The rhimes in this play are such, as that sat and sot may be well enough admitted.
Johnson. A knot is, I believe, a true lover's knot, meaning that the king
-lay'd his wreathed arms athwart His loving bosom so long, i. e. remained so long in the lover's posture, that he seemed actually transformed into a knot. The word
sat is in some counties pronounced sot. This may account for the seeming want of exact rhime. In the old comedy of Albumazar the same thought occurs ;
“ Why should I twine my arms to cables ?" So, in The Tempest :
“ Marcus, unknit that sorrow-wreathen knot :
“ With folded arms."
-as he walk'd
STEEVENS, A knot is likewise a Lincolnshire bird of the snipe kind. It is foolish even to a proverb, and it is said to be easily ensnared. Ray, in his Ornithology, observes, that it took its name froni Canute, who was particu. larly fond of it.
The knot is enumerated among other delicacies by Sir Epicure Mammon, in Ben Jonson's Alchemist :
“My foot-boy shall eat pheasants, &c.
“ Krotts, godwits,” &c. Again, in the 25th Song of Drayton's Polyolbion :
“ The knot that called was Canutus' bird of old, * Of that great king of Danes his name that still
“ His appetite to please that far and near were sought."
COLLINS. The old copy, however, reads a gnat, and Mr. Tollet seems to think it contains an allusion to St. Matthew, ch. xxiii. v. 24. where the metaphorical term of a gnat means a thing of least importance, or what is proverbially small. The smallness of a gnat is likewise mentioned in Cymbeline. Steevens.
If instead of the king himself, his arms only had been mentioned, knot (or, as it is pronounced in some parts of the kingdom, knat) might have been admitted ; or if the king had been destined to be served up at a feast, we might then read knot, “ Canutus' bird ;' but, as his majesty of Navarre, who had dovoted himself to a life of study, watching, and fasting, was also a martyr to love, the old reading may be presumed to be the true one, and that he was become as slender as a ĢNAT.
HENLEY. 499. ---critick Timon—] Critick and critical are used by our author in the same sense as cynick and cynical. Iago, speaking of the fair sex as harshly as is sometimes the practice of Dr. Warburton, declares he is nothing if not critical.
Steevens. Mr. Steevens's observation is supported by our author's 119th Sonnet :
my adder's sense
MALOne. 510. With men-like men, of strange inconstancy. ]
This is a strange senseless line, and should be read thus : With vane-like men, of strange inconstancy.
WARBURTON. This is well imagined, but perhaps the poet may mean, with men like common men. JOHNSON.
o] believe the emendation is proper. So, in Much Ado about Nothing: “ If speaking, why a vane blown with all winds."
STEEVENS. The following passage in King Henry IV. P. III. act iii. sc. 1. adds such support to Dr. Warburton's emendation, that I should not scruple to give it a place in the text :
“ Look, as I blow this feather from my face,
“ Such is the lightness of your common men." Strange was first added in the second folio, and consequently any other word, as well as that, may have been the author's; for all the additions in that copy appear manifestly to have been capricious and arbitrary, and are generally very injudicious.
MALONE. Acute as Dr. Warburton's conjecture is, the old reading should inaintain its place. The king and his companions were to shew themselves superior to the rest of mankind by an inflexible perseverance in the
execution execution of their project; but, having violated their vows, Biron tells them he is betrayed, by associating with men who, notwithstanding all their boasts of superior firmness, are as fickle as the common herd of mankind; nay, whose inconstancy appears the more strange, as they had bound themselves by an oath.
HENLEY. 513. In pruning me?-] A bird is said to prune himself, when he picks and sleeks his feathers. So, in King Henry IV. Part I.
" Which makes him prune himself, and bristle up " The crest of youth.”.
Sreevens. 567. She, an attending star,- -] Something like this is a stanza of Sir Henry Wotton, of which the poetical reader will forgive the insertion :
You meaner beauties of the night,
That poorly satisfy our eyes
You common people of the skies, What are ye when the sun shall rise ? JOHNSON. 590.
Black is the badge of hell, The hue of dungeons, and the scowl of night ;] In former editions,
-the school of night. But I have preferred the conjecture of my friend Mr. Warburton, who reads,
-the scowl of night, as it comes nearer in pronunciation to the corrupted reading, as well as agrees better with the other images.