« PreviousContinue »
And here his mad attendant and himself.
172. Beaten the maids a-row]i. e. Successively, one after another. So in Chaucer's Wife of Bath, Talev. 6836, late edit. "A thousand times a row he can hire kisse."!
STEVENS, 173. Whose beard they have singod. off with brands of fire;] Such a ludicrous circumstance is not unworthy of the farce in which we find it introduced; but is rather out of place in an epick poem, amidst all the horrors and carnage of a battle :
• Obvius ambustum torrem Corynæus ab ara
Occupat os flammis. Olli ingens barba reluxit,
Virg. Æneid. lib. xii. 298. STEEVENS. Shakspere was a great reader of Plutarch, where he might have seen this method of shaving in the life of Dion. p. 167, 4to. See North's translation, in which ävOpapes may be translated brands,
S. W. 177. His man with scissors nicks him like a fool:] The force of this allusion I am unable to explain. Pèrhaps it was once the custom to cut the hair of ideots or jesters close to their heads. There is a proverbial similem" Like crop the conjurer;" which might have been applied to either of these characters. STEEVENS.
There is a penalty of ten shillings in one of king Alfred's ecclesiastical laws, if one opprobriously shave a common man like a fool.
207. with harlots-] Antipholis did not suspect his wife of having entertained courtezans, but of having been confederate with cheats, to impose on him and abuse him, therefore he says to her, act i. sc.4:
are these your custoiners, &c. By this description he points out Pinch and his followers.
Harlot was a term of reprcach applied to cheats among men, as well as to wantons among women. Thus, in the Fox, Corbacchio says to Volpone :
Out harlot !" Again, in The Winter's Tale :
for the harlot king “Is quite beyond mine arm" The learned editor of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 4
vol. 8vo. 1775, observes, that in The Romaunt of the Rose, v 6068, King of Harlots is Chaucer's Translation of Roy des ribaulx. Chaucer uses the word more than once :
“ A sturdy harlot went hem ay behind,
Sompnoures Tale, v. 7336. Again, in the Dyers' Play, among the Chester Collection in the Museum, Antichrist says to the male characters on the stage : “ Out on ye harlots, whence come ye?"
STEVENS. 216. -I am advis'd -] 1. c. I am not going to speak precipitately or rashly, but on reflection and consideration.
284. mated,] i.e. wild, foolish, from the Italian
“ I think you are all fools or madmen.” 301.
-deformed] for deforming. Steevens. 302. --strange defeatures] Defeature is the privative of feature. The meaning is, time hath cancelled my features.
Johnson. De features are undoings, miscarriages, misfortunes; from defaire, Fr. So, in Daniel's Complaint of Rosamond, 1599 : “ The day before the night of my defeature,
(i.e. undoing) “ He greets me with a casket richly wrought." The sense is, I am deformed, undone, by misery. Misfortune has left its impression on my face.
STEEVENS. I rather think defeatures mean here, as in another place in this play, alteration of feature, or deformity. So in our author's Venus and Adonis, 1593 :
-To cross the curious workmanship of Nature, “ 'To mingle beauty with infirmities, “ And pure perfection with impure de feature.” If we understand by defeatures, in this place, miscarriages, or misfortunes, then we suppose Ægeon to say, “ that careful hours, i. e. misfortunes, have written misfortunes in his face."
MALONE. Defeatures are certainly neither more nor less than features; as demerits are neither more nor less than inerits. Time, says Ægeon, hath placed new and strange
features in niy face ; i, e, given it quite a different appearance; no wonder therefore thou dost not know
REMARKS. 314. -this grained face] i, e. furrow'd, like the grain of wood. So in Coriolanus: --my grained ash."
STEEVENS. 321. All these OLD witnesses (I cannot err) I believe should be read :
All those OLD witnesses cannot err. i.e. all these continue to testify that I cannot érr, and tell me, &c.
WARBURTON. The old reading is the true one, as well as the most poetical. The words, I cannot err, should be thrown into a parenthesis. By old witnesses, I believe he means experienced, accustom'd ones, which are therefore less likely to err. So in the Tempest : “ If these be true spies that I wear in my head," &c.
STEEVENS. 353. Besides her urging of her wreck at sea,] This is one of Shakspere's oversights. The abbess has not so much as hinted at the shipwreck. Perhaps, indeed, this and the next speech should change places.
STEEVENS, That however would scarcely remove the difficulty: the next speech is Ægeon's : both it and the following one should precede the duke's; or there is possibly á line lost.
REMARKS. 405. Twenty-five years -] In former edi. tions : Thirty-three years,
'Tis iinpossible the poet should be so forgetful, as to
My youngest boy, and yet my eldest care,
After his brother, &c.
in the fifth act :
Æge. But seven years since, in Syracusa bay,
Thou knowest we parted ; So that these two numbers, put together, settle the date of their birth beyond dispute.
THEOBALD. 407. My heavy burden not delivered :] The old copy reads are delivered.” I believe, the author wrote :
My heavy burdens are not deliver'd. Printers sometimes omit words, but never insert a new word not in the manuscript, except where they mistake one word for another. The compositor's eye might have passed over the word not ; but are could