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Thus might he pass indeed! :-Yet he revives :
Away, and let me die.
thers, air, So many fathom down precipitating, Thou had'st shiver'd like an egg : but thou dost
breathe ; Hast heavy substance; bleed'st not ; speak'st ; art
sound. Ten masts at each make not the altitude,
Thus might he pass indeed :) Thus might he die in reality. We still use the word passing bell. Johnson. So, in King Henry VI. Part II. :
“ Disturb him not, let him pass peaceably.” Steevens. 2 Had'st thou been aught but GOSSOMER, feathers, air,] Gossomore, the white and cob-web like exhalations that fly about in hot sunny weather. Skinner says, in a book called The French Gardiner, it signifies the down of the sow-thistle, which is driven to and fro by the wind :
“ As sure some wonder on the cause of thunder,
“ And on all things, till that the cause is wist.” GREY. The substance called Gossamer is formed of the collected webs of flying spiders, and during calm weather in Autumn sometimes falls in amazing quantities. Holt White.
See Romeo and Juliet, Act II. Sc. VI. MALONE.
3 Ten masts AT EACH make not the altitude,] So Mr. Pope found it in the old editions ; and seeing it corrupt, judiciously corrected it to attacht. But Mr. Theobald restores again the old nonsense, at each. WARBURTON.
Mr. Pope's conjecture may stand if the word which he uses were known in our author's time, but I think it is of later introduction. We may say:
- Ten masts on end- m." JOHNSON. Perhaps we should read-at reach, i. e. extent. In Mr. Rowe's edition it is, “ Ten masts at least." Steevens.
“ Ten masts at each make not the altitude." i. e. each at, or near, the other. Such I suppose the meaning, if the text be right; but it is probably corrupt. The word attach'd certainly existed in Shakspeare's time, but was not used in the sense required here. In Bullokar's English Expositor, 8vo. 1616, to attach is interpreted, “ To take; lay hold on.". It was verbum juris. MALONE.
Which thou hast perpendicularly fell ;
Glo. But have I fallen, or no ?
bourn 4 :
Glo. Alack, I have no eyes.Is wretchedness depriv'd that benefit, To end itself by death? 'Twas yet some comfort, When misery could beguile the tyrant's rage, And frustrate his proud will. Edg.
Give me your arm: Up:-So;—How is't? Feel you your legs? You
stand. Glo. Too well, too well. EDG.
This is above all strangeness. Upon the crown o' the cliff, what thing was that Which parted from you ? Glo.
A poor unfortunate beggar. Edg. As I stood here below, methought, his eyes Were two full moons; he had a thousand noses, Horns whelk'd', and wav'd like the enridged sea
chalky BOURN:] Bourn seems here to signify a hill. Its common signification is a brook. Milton in Comus uses bosky bourn, in the same sense perhaps with Shakspeare. But in both authors it may mean only a boundary. Johnson.
Here it certainly means “this chalky boundary of England, towards France." STEEVENS.
5 Horns wheLK'D,] Whelkod, I believe, signifies varied with protuberances. So, in King Henry V. Fluellen speaking of Bardulph: his face is all bubukles, and whelks," &c. Steevens.
Twisted, convolved. A welk or whilk is a small shell-fish, Drayton in his Mortimeriados, 4to. 1596, seems to use this participle in the sense of rolling or curled :
“ The sunny palfreys have their traces broke,
It was some fiend : Therefore, thou happy father, Think that the clearest gods”, who make them
honours Of men's impossibilities °, have preserv'd thee.
Glo. I do remember now: henceforth I'll bear Affliction, till it do cry out itself, Enough, enough, and, die. That thing you speak of, I took it for a man ; often 'twould say, The fiend, the fiend: he led me to that place. Edg. Bear free and patient thoughts'.—But who
Enter LEAR, fantastically dressed up with Flowers,
ENRidged sea ;] Thus the quarto. The folio enraged.
STEEVENS. Enridged was certainly our author's word ; for he has the same expression in his Venus and Adonis :
“ Till the wild waves will have him seen no more,
Malone. 1 — the CLEAREST gods,] The purest ; the most free from evil.
Johnson. So, in Timon of Athens :
“ Roots! you clear gods !.” MALONE. - who make them honours
Of men's IMPOSSIBILITIES,] Who are graciously pleased to preserve men in situations in which they think it impossible to escape: Or, perhaps, who derive honour from being able to do what man can not do. MALONE.
By men's impossibilities perhaps is meant, what men call impossibilities, what appear as such to mere mortal beings. Steevens.
9 Bear Free and patient THOUGHTS.] To be melancholy is to have the mind chained down to one painful idea ; there is therefore great propriety in exhorting Gloster to free thoughts, to an emancipation of his soul from grief and despair. Johnson. · The SAFER sense will ne'er accomniodate His master thus.] I read :
“ The saner sense will ne'er accommodate
LEAR. No, they cannot touch me for coining?; I am the king himself.
Edg. O thou side-piercing sight !
LEAR. Nature's above art in that respect. There's your press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper*: draw me a clothier's
“Here is Lear, but he must be mad : his sound or sane senses would never suffer him to be thus disguised.” Johnson.
I have no doubt but that safer was the poet's word. So, [as Mr. Jennens has reinarked] in Measure for Measure:
Nor do I think the man of safe discretion “ That does affect it."
STEEVENS. The safer sense seems to me to mean the eye-sight, which, says Edgar, will never more serve the unfortunate Lear so well, as those senses which Gloster has remaining will serve him, who is now returned to a right mind. The eye-sight is probably called the safer sense in allusion to our vulgar proverb, “ seeing is believing." Horace terms the eyes “ oculi fideles.” Gloster afterwards laments the stiffness of his vile sense. BLAKEWAY.
-for COINING;] So the quartos. Folio--for crying. Malone. 3 There's your PRESS-MONEY.] It is evident from the whole of this speech, that Lear fancies himself in a battle: but,
“ There's your press-money-” has not been properly explained. It means the money which was paid to soldiers when they were retained in the King's service: and it appears from some antient statutes, and particularly 7 Henry VII. c. 1; and 3 Henry Vill. c. 5. that it was felony in any soldier to withdraw himself from the King's service after receipt of this money, without special leave. On the contrary, he was obliged at all times to hold himself in readiness. The term is from the French “
It is written prest in several places in King Henry VIIth's Book of household expences still preserved in the Exchequer. This may serve also to explain the following passage in Act V. Sc. II. : “And turn our imprest lances in our eyes ; and to correct Mr. Whalley's note in Hamlet, Act I. Sc. I. : “Why such impress of shipwrights?"
Douce. 4 That fellow handles his bow like a CROW-KEEPER :) Mr. Pope, in his last edition, reads cow-keeper. It is certain we must read crow-keeper. In several counties, to this day, they call a stuffed figure, representing a man, and armed with a bow and arrow, set up to fright the crows from the fruit and corn, a crowkeeper, as well as a scare-crow.
THEOBALD. This crow-keeper was so common in the author's time, that it is one of the few peculiarities mentioned by Ortelius, in his account of our island. Johnson.
yard'.-Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace ;—this piece of toasted cheese will do't.-- There's my gauntlet ; I'll prove it on a giant.-Bring up the brown bills 6. -0, well flown, bird !-i' the clout?, i' the clout: hewgh !--Give the word ®.
So, in the 48th Idea of Drayton :
“ Or if thou’lt not thy archery forbear, “ To some base rustick do thyself prefer ;
“ And when corn's sown, or grown into the ear,
“ Practise thy quiver and turn crow-keeper." Mr. Tollet informs me, that Markham, in his Farewell to Hus- . bandry, says, that such servants are called field-keepers, or crowkeepers. Steevens. So, in Bonduca, by Fletcher:
Can these fight? They look
“ Like men of clouts, set to keep crows from orchards." See also Romeo and Juliet, Act I. Sc. IV. MALONE.
The following curious passage in Latimer's Fruitful Sermons, 1584, fol. 69, will show how indispensable was practice to enable an archer to handle his bow skilfully: "In
my time (says the good bishop) my poor father was diligent to teach me to shoote, as to learne me any other thing, and so I thinke other men did their children. He taught me how to draw, howe to lay my body in my bow, and not to drawe with strength of armes as other nations doe, but with strength of the bodye. I had my bowes bought me according to my age and strength : as I encreased in them, so my bowes were made bigger and bigger : for men shall neuer shoote well, except they be brought up in it.” Holt White.
The notes on this passage serve only to identify the character of a crow-keeper; but the comparison still remains to be explained. On this occasion, we must consult our sole preceptor in the manly and too much neglected science of archery, the venerable Ascham. In speaking of awkward shooters, he says, “ Another cowreth downe, and layeth out his buttockes as thoughe hee should shoote at crowes." DOUCE.
draw me a CLOTHIER'S YARD.] Perhaps the poet had in his mind a stanza of the old ballad of Chevy-Chace :
“ An arrow of a cloth-yard long,
Up to the head drew he,” &c. STEEVENS. the BROWN BILLS.] A bill was a kind of battle-axe, affixed to a long staff:
“ Which is the constable's house ?
“ At the sign of the brown bill.” Blurt Mr. Constable, 1602. Again, in Marlowe's King Edward II. 1622: VOL. X.