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Severn's flood, “ IVho then, affrighted,” &c. Dr Johnson has very fairly vindicated the propriety of this passage, though in doing so he has furnished a conspicuous instance of the capriciousness, sometimes, of his critical decisions, for, if the Severn may justly be personified or have a tutelary power bearing his name, there can be no reason why the Thames should not have the same privilege; yet the Doctor has been very sarcastic upon Mr. Gray for invoking “Father Thames,” in the Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College. 223. “ I tell thee he durst,” &c.
“I tell thee" seems to be a clumsy interpolation, burthensome to the measure and useless to the sense.
“ Art not asham'd ?” &c.
Something is wanting to the measure, which Mr. Capel endeavoured to supply: “ Art not asham'd to say't? but, sirråh, hence
forth.” 227. “ Did gage them both,” &c.
“To gage,” at least with a note of contraction, might well stand here for to “engage;" but does not the expression refer to chivalry ? and imply that these men had “ laid down their nobility, &c.” as a gage or pledge to support the cause of the usurper ? 228. “ Disdain'd contempt."
" Disdain’d,” says Dr. Johnson, for “ disdainful;" but so it might as well have been“ disdainful disdain,” or contemptuous contempt. The sense, I believe, is contempt that is repelled with equal contempt or disdain. “To o'er-walk a current, roaring loud, ' On the unsteadfast footing of a spear."
This is a strange image of an action that does not appear to have been ever practised, or to be practicable. 229. “
An easy leap, “ To pluck bright honour from the pale
fac'd moon.” D. Johnson, I think, has well defended this sally of Hotspur : but, says Mr. T. Warton, it is probably a passage from some bombast play, and afterwards used as a common burlesque phrase for attempting impossibilities. I believe neither that learned critic nor Mr Steevens will find many readers agreeing with hiin in fancying a probability that our poet would designedly put into the mouth of the noble Percy, at a time like this, a speech of boastful nonsense and extravagant burlesque. 232. “ All studies here I solemnly defy.”
" Defy," says Mr. Steevens, is “ refuse;"' but it is rather “renounce,” disclaim with vehemence, abjure, as in Romeo and Juliet:
“I do defy thy conjurations.” 233.“ Wasp-stung."
I have always thought, with Mr. Capel and Mr. Malone, that “ wasp-tongue," the reading of the second quarto, is right:-had Hotspur himself been the speaker, he might naturally have said, in justification of his impatience, that he was wasp-stung, as he afterwards says he is “ stung with pismires ;” and even if Northum, berland had supposed his son to be so uncomfortably assailed, there would be no reason to wonder at his restlessness; but Hotspur is reproached for being irritated without any sufficient cause, and from the mere caprice and petulance of his temper, and thus he is called “ wasp-tongue," as Brutus says to Cassius : “I'll use you for my mirth, yea, for my laughter, “ When you are waspish.”
“Wasp-tongued,” says Heron, “is a metaphor nothing like so hard as many used by Shakspeare, and implies, with a tongue, poisonous and keen as the sting of a wasp: let us, with due gratitude, return thanks to Mr. Steevens, for his skilful quotation to prove that Shakspeare knew where the sting of a wasp lies; not in the mouth, but in its tail." I think wasp-tongued the true reading, and heartily agree with Heron,
LORD CHEDWORTH, 235. “At Berkley Castle,
You say true." Something appears to have been lost: perhaps,
“'Twas there; you say true.” 236. “ Nay, if you have not, to't again.” We might read: “Nay, if you have not, you may to't again." Or, with Mr. Capel:
“ Nay, if you have not, sir, to it again.” 237. “ For, bear ourselves as even as we can, “ The king will always think him in our
debt ; " And think we think ourselves unsatis
fied, “ Till he hath found a time to pay us home.” Dr. Johnson's observation here, as well as one to the same purpose by Mrs. Montague, appears to have been suggested by the following passage in Tacitus,“ Nam Beneficia eo usque læta sunt, dum videntur exolvi posse : ubi multum antevenere, pro gratia odium redditur.
It is not easy, says Gibbon, to settle between a subject and a despot, the debt of gratitude; which the former is tempted to claim by a revolt, and the latter to discharge by an execution.
Hist, of the Decl, and Fall of the Roman
Lord CHEDWORTH, “And think we think ourselves unsatisfied.”
This is not carelessly written: Iago says to Cassio :
“I think you think I love you." 238. “
O let the hours be short, “ Till fields, and blows, and groans applaud
our sport." I am afraid the poet had no better motive than the pitiful jingle of a rhyme for degrading the gallant Hotspur by this savage sentiment
ACT II. SCENE I. 243. “ Time enough to go to bed with a candle.”
I know not whether the humour implies, that any time would serve to go to bed with a candle, or that it is simply asserted that he shall be at home before all lights are put out.
“ Time enough to go to bed with a candle.” I suppose we are not to look for any very profound meaning here; the whole of the dialogue shews that the carrier did not rejoice in his companion, whom he answers jeeringly: I do not suppose the words were intended to convey more than “ time enough to go to bed after it is dark;" the answer is purposely not precise.
LORD CHEDWORTH, 247. “Great oneyers.”
This phrase, which Mr. Malone would refine inta a meaning that, I suppose, neither Gadshill nor Shakspeare ever thought of, appears to be, as Dr, Johnson has remarked, a mere cant expression for “ great ones,” or “ great folks," or those who assume or challenge that distinction. 248. “ Such as can hold-in.”
To hold-in, if I mistake not, is a common phrase in the chace for “not to tire," not to spend the breath too soon,
" To hold-in,” I believe means here, not to blab; Parmenio, in the Eunuch, speaking of his own guarrulity, says: “ Plenus rimarum sum, hac atq; illac profluo.”