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Line 162. Far from her nest the lapwing, &c.] This expression seems to be proverbial. I have met with it in many of the old comic writers. STEEVENS.
Line 173. A fiend, a fairy, pitiless and rough ;] Mr. Theobald
would read fury.
There were fairies like hobgoblins, pitiless and rough, and described as malevolent and mischievous. JOHNSON.
Line 178. A hound that runs counter, and yet draws dry-foot well;] To run counter, is to run backward, by mistaking the course of the animal pursued; to draw dry-foot is, I believe, to pursue by the track or prick of the foot; to run counter and draw dry-foot well are, therefore, inconsistent. The jest consists in the ambiguity of the word counter, which means the wrong way in the chase, and a prison in London. The officer that arrested him was a serjeant of the counter. For the congruity of this jest with the scene of action, let our author answer. JOHNSON.
To draw dry-foot, is when the dog pursues the game by the scent of the foot: for which the blood-hound is famed. GREY. Line 180. -poor souls to hell.] Hell was the cant term for an obscure dungeon in any of our prisons. It is mentioned in the Counter-rat, a poem, 1658:
"In Wood-street's hole, or Poultry's hell." Line 184. -on the case.] An action upon the case, is a ge neral action given for the redress of a wrong done any man without force, and not especially provided for by law.
Line 195. -was he arrested on a band?] Thus the old copy, and I believe rightly; though the modern editors read bond. Ą bond, i. e. an obligatory writing to pay a sum of money, was anciently spelt band. A band is likewise a neckcloth. On this circumstance I believe the humour of the passage turns. STEEV,
ACT IV. SCENE. III.
—he that sets up his rest to do more exploits with his mace, than a morris-pike.] The rest of a pike was a common term, and signified, I believe, the manner in which it was fixed to receive the rush of the enemy. A morris-pike was a pike used in a morris or a military dance, and with which great exploits were done, that is, great feats of dexterity were shewn. JOHNSON.
Line 396. a prostitute. Line 398.
ACT IV. SCENE IV.
-your customers?] A customer was the term for
-companion:-] A term of contempt, a fellow. Perdy,] For Pardieu, the French oath.
417. Certes,] i. e. certainly.
-417. -kitchen-vestal-] Her charge being like that of the vestal virgins, to keep the fire burning.
Fetch our stuff-] i. e. Goods or furniture.
ACT V. SCENE I.
-get within him,] i. e. Master him.
―take a house.] i. e. Take to a house, get within
. Line 115. -a formal man again:] i. e. To bring him back to his senses, and the forms of sober behaviour. So in Measure for Measure:-informal women for just the contrary. STEEV. Line 151. At your important letters,] Important means importunate. JOHNSON.
Line 186. Whose beard they have singed off with brands of fire;] Such a ludicrous circumstance is not unworthy of the farce in which we find it introduced; but is rather extraordinary to be met with in an epic poem, amidst all the horrors and carnage of a battle. STEEVENS.
Line 191. His man with scissars nicks him like a fool:] It appears to have been the custom for the established fools to have their hair cut close to their heads in a very ludicrous manner. Line 200. To scorch your face,] We should read scotch, i.e. hack, cut. WARBURTON.
To scorch I believe is right. He would have punished her as he had punished the conjurer before..
Line 316.mated,] i. e. Confused.
deformed hand-] Time's deforming hand. strange defeatures.] Defeature is the privative
of feature. The meaning is, time hath cancelled my features.
Line 359. All these old witnesses (I cannot err,)] By old wit
nesses I believe he means experienced, accustomed ones, which are therefore less Rikely to err. STEEVENS.
Line 451. Twenty-five years] In former editions, thirtythree years.
'Tis impossible the poet could be so forgetful, as to design this number here: and therefore I have ventured to alter it to twentyfive, upon a proof, that, I think, amounts to demonstration. The number, I presume, was at first wrote in figures, and, perhaps, blindly; and thence the mistake might arise. Theobald.
Line 456. and go with me ;] We should read, and gaude with me: i. e. rejoice, from the French gaudir. WARBURTON. The sense is clear enough without the alteration. STEEVENS. Line 457. After so long grief, such nativity!] We should surely read, After so long grief, such festivity!
Nativity lying so near, and the termination being the same of both words, the mistake was easy. JOHNSON.
Mr. Steevens is of opinion, nativity is the right reading, as she alludes to her sons.
Line 484. In this play we find more intricacy of plot than distinction of character; and our attention is less forcibly engaged, because we can guess in great measure how it will conclude. Yet the poet seems unwilling to part with his subject, even in the last and unnecessary scene, where the same mistakes are continued, till they have lost the power of affording any entertainment at all. STEEVENS.
END OF THE ANNOTATIONS ON THE COMEDY OF ERRORS,
ACT I. SCENE I.
LINE 5. In my behaviour,] The word behaviour seems here to have a signification that I have never found in any other author. The king of France, says the envoy, thus speaks in my behaviour to the majesty of England; that is, the king of France speaks in the character which I here assume. I once thought that these two lines, in my behaviour, &c. had been uttered by the ambassador as part of his master's message, and that behaviour had meant the conduct of the king of France towards the king of England; but the ambassador's speech, as continued after the interruption, will not admit this meaning. JOHNSON,
control-] Opposition, from controller. JOHNS.
30. Be thou, as lightning-] The simile does not suit well: the lightning indeed appears before the thunder is heard, but the lightning is destructive, and the thunder innocent. JOHNSON.
Line 34. -Sullen presage-] By the epithet sullen, which cannot be applied to a trumpet, it is plain, that our author's imagination had now suggested a new idea. It is as if he had said, be