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Line 538. The fitchew,] A polecat.
-nor the soiled horse,] Soiled horse is a term used for a horse that has been fed with hay and corn in the stable during the winter, and is turned out in the spring to take the first flush of grass, or has it cut and carried in to him. This at once cleanses the animal, and fills him with blood. STEEV. Line 554. Dost thou squiny at me?] To squiny is to look asquint. MALONE.
Line 589. I'll able 'em :] An old phrase signifying to qualify, or uphold them. WARBURTON.
Line 610. It were a delicate stratagem, to shoe
A troop of horse with felt:].i.e. with flocks kneaded to a mass, a practise I believe sometimes used in former ages, for it is mentioned in Ariosto. JOHNSON. -a man of salt,] A man of salt is a man of tears. MALONE. 631. Then there's life in it.] The case is not yet despe JOHNSON.
-the main descry,
Stands on the hourly thought.] The main body is expected to be descry'd every hour. The expression is harsh.
Line 680. -go your gait,] Gang your gait is a common expression in the North. In the last rebellion, when the Scotch soldiers had finished their exercise, instead of our term of dismis sion, their phrase was, gang your gaits. STEEVENS.
Line 684. che vor'ye,] I warn you. Edgar counterfeits the western dialect. JOHNSON.
-your costard-] Costard, i. e. head.
my bat-] i. e. a club, or staff.
689. -no matter vor your foins.] To foin, is to make what is called a feint in fencing.
Line 706. To know our enemies' minds, we'd rip their hearts; Their papers, is more lawful.] This is darkly expressed the meaning is, Our enemies are put upon the rack, and torn in pieces to extort confession of their secrets; to tear open their letters is more lawful. WARBURTON.
Thee I'll rake up, the post unsanctified &c.] I'll cover
thee. In Staffordshire, to rake the fire, is to cover it with fuel for the night. JOHNSON.
Line 725. —the death-practis'd duke:] The duke of Albany, whose death is machinated by practice or treason. JOHNSON.
ACT IV. SCENE VII.
Line 740. every measure fail me.] All good which I shall allot thee, or measure out to thee, will be scanty. JOHNS. Line 745. Be better suited ;] i. e. Be better dressed, put on a better suit of clothes. STEEVENS.
Line 749. -my made intent :] An intent made, is an intent formed. So we say in common language, to make a design, and to make a resolution. JOHNSON. Line 784. With this thin helm ?] With this thin covering of hair. MALONE.
Line 790. Had not concluded all.] It is wonder that thy wits and life had not all ended. JOHNSON. Line 838. To make him even o'er the time he has lost.] i. e. To reconcile it to his apprehension. WARBURTON.
ACT V. SCENE I.
forefended place ?] Forefended means prohibited, STEEVENS.
Line 14. forbidden.
Line 33. Sir, you speak nobly.] This reply must be understood ironically.
Line 66. We will greet the time,] We will be ready to meet the occasion. JOHNSON. Line 73. -carry out my side,] Bring my purpose to a successful issue, to completion. JOHNSON. Line 80.
for my state
Stunds on me &c.] The meaning is, rather-Such is my determination concerning Lear; as for my state it requires now, not deliberation, but defence and support. JOHNSON.
ACT V. SCENE II.
Line 94. Ripeness is all:] i. e. To be ready, prepared, is all.
ACT V. SCENE III.
Line 101. Who, with best meaning, have incurr'd the worst.]
i. e. the worst that fortune can inflict.
Line 114. And take upon us the mystery of things,
As if we were God's spies:] As if we were angels commissioned to survey and report the lives of men, and were consequently endowed with the power of prying into the original motives of action and the mysteries of conduct. JOHNSON.
Line 123. And fire us hence, like foxes.] I have been informed that it is usual to smoke foxes out of their holes. STEEVENS, Line 124. The goujeers shall devour them,] The goujeres, i. e. Morbus Gallicus. Gouge, Fr. HANMER.
-flesh and fell,] Flesh and skin.
Line 124. 135.
Thy great employment
Will not bear question ;] The important business which is now entrusted to your management does not admit of debate: you must instantly resolve to do it, or not. Question, here, as in many other places, signifies discourse, conversation.
Line 157. And turn our impress'd lances in our eyes—] i. e. Turn the launcemen which are press'd into our service against us.
Line 175. The which immediacy-] Immediacy is supremacy, in opposition to subordination, which has quiddam medium between itself and power. JOHNSON.
Line 194. The let-alone lies not in your good will.] Whether he shall not or shall, depends not on your choice. JOHNSON. Line 275. And that thy tongue some 'say of breeding breathes,] 'Say for essay, some show or probability. POPE.
Alb. O save him, save him!
Gon. This is mere practice, Gloster :] Albany desires that Edmund's life might be spared at present, only to obtain his confession, and to convict him openly by his own letter.
Line 304. Let's exchange charity.] Our author, by negligence, gives his Heathens the sentiments and practices of Christianity. JOHNSON. Line 383. Here comes Kent, sir.] The manner in which Edgar
here mentions Kent, seems to require the lines which are inserted from the first edition in the foregoing scene.
JOHNSON. Line 414. That she fordid herself.] To fordo, signifies to destroy by suicide. STEEVENS,
Line 428. Fall, and cease!] Albany is looking with attention on the pains employed by Lear to recover his child, and knows to what miseries he must survive, when he finds them to be ineffectual. Having these images present to his eyes and imagination, he cries out, Rather fall, and cease to be, at once, than continue in existence only to be wretched. STEEVENS.
Line 448. If fortune brag of two she lov'd and hated,
Line 458. tunes.
One of them we behold.] I suppose by the two whom fortune once loved, and then hated, Kent means, Lear and himself; and that each of them, looking on the other, saw a rare instance of her caprice. MALONE. of difference and decay,] Decay for misforWARBURTON. Line 474. What comfort to this great decay may come,] This great decay is Lear, whom Shakspeare poetically calls so, and means the same as if he had said, this piece of decay'd royalty, this ruin'd majesty. STEEVENS. Line 482. And my poor fool is hang'd!] This is an expression of tenderness for his dead Cordelia (not his fool, as some have thought), on whose lips he is still intent, and dies away while he is searching there for indications of life. STEEVENS.
END OF THE ANNOTATIONS ON KING LEAR.
ROMEO AND JULIET.
ACT I. SCENE I.
-we'll not carry coals.] The phrase should seem to mean originally, We'll not submit to servile offices; and thence secondarily, We'll not endure injuries.
-poor John.] is hake, dried, and salted. MAE. 66. thy swashing blow.] To swash seems to have meant to be a bully, to be noisily valiant. STEEVENS. Line 78. Clubs, bills, &c.] When an affray arose in the streets, clubs was the usual exclamation. MALONE.
Line 82. Give me my long sword.] The long sword was the sword used in war, which was sometimes wielded with both hands. JOHNSON. Line 175. Is the day so young?] i. e. is it so early in the day? STEEVENS.
206. Why, such is love's transgression.] Such is the consequence of unskilful and mistaken kindness. JOHNSON. Line 222. Tell me in sadness,] That is, tell me gravely, tell me in seriousness. JOHNSON.