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Per. I thank you, sir.
2 Fish. Hark you, my friend, you said you could not beg.
Per. I did but crave.
2 Fish. But crave? Then I'll turn craver too, and so I shall 'scape whipping.
Per. Why, are all your beggars whipped then?
2 Fish. O, not all, my friend, not all; for if all your beggars were whipped, I would wish no better office, than to be beadle. But, master, I'll go draw up the net. [Exeunt Two of the Fishermen. Per. How well this honest mirth becomes their labour! 1 Fish. Hark you, sir! do you know where you are? Per. Not well.
1 Fish. Why I'll tell you: this is called Pentapolis, and our king, the good Simonides.
Per. The good king Simonides, do you call him?
1 Fish. Ay, sir; and he deserves so to be called, for his peaceable reign, and good government.
Per. He is a happy king, since from his subjects He gains the name of good, by his government. How far is his court distant from this shore?
1 Fish. Marry, sir, half a day's journey; and I 'll tell you, he hath a fair daughter, and to-morrow is her birth
puddings and flap-jacks;] In the old copy this passage is strangely corrupted. It reads-flesh for all days, fish for fasting days, and more, or puddings and flap-jacks. Dr. Farmer suggested to me the correction of the latter part of the sentence: for the other emendation I am responsible. Mr. M. Mason would read-flesh for ale-days but this was not, I think, the language of the time; though ales and church-ales was common. Malone.
-flap-jacks;] In some counties a flap-jack signifies an apple-puff; but anciently it seems to have meant a pancake. But, whatever it was, mention is made of it in Smith's Sea Grammar, 1627: "For when a man is ill, or at the point of death, I would know whether a dish of buttered rice with a little cynamon, ginger, and sugar, a little minced meat, or rost beefe, a few stewed prunes, a race of greene ginger, a flap-jacke, &c. bee not better than a little poore John," &c. Steevens.
7 He is a happy king, &c.] This speech, in the old copies, is printed as follows: I have only transposed a few of the words for the sake of metre:
"He is a happy king, since he gains from
"Iis subjects the name of good, by his government."
day; and there are princes and knights come from all parts of the world, to just and tourney for her love.
Per. Did but my fortunes equal my desires,
I 'd wish to make one there.
1 Fish. O, sir, things must be as they may; and what a man cannot get, he may lawfully deal for his wife's soul.
8 Did but my fortunes &c.] The old copy as follows: Were my fortunes equal to my desires,
I could wish to make one there.
As all the speeches of Pericles, throughout this scene, were designed to be in metre, they cannot be restored to it without such petty liberties as I have taken in the present instance. Steevens.
9 and what a man cannot get, &c.] This passage, in its present state, is to me unintelligible. We might read:-" 0, sir, things must be as they may; and what a man cannot get, he may not lawfully deal for ;-his wife's soul."
Be content; things must be as Providence has appointed;—and what his situation in life does not entitle him to aspire to, he ought not to attempt;-the affections of a woman in a higher sphere than his own.
Soul is in other places used by our author for love. Thus, in Measure for Measure:
we have with special soul
"Elected him, our absence to supply." Malone.
Things must be (says the speaker) as they are appointed to be; and what a man is not sure to compass, he has yet a just right to attempt. Thus far the passage is clear. The Fisherman may then be supposed to begin a new sentence-His wife's soul-but here he is interrupted by his comrades. He might otherwise have proceeded to say-The good will of a wife indeed is one of the things which is difficult of attainment. A husband is in the right to strive for it, but after all his pains may fail to secure it.I wish his brother fishermen had called off his attention before he had time to utter his last three words. Steevens.
The Fisherman means, I think, to say,-" What a man cannot get, there is no law against giving, to save his wife's soul from purgatory." Farmer.
It is difficult to extract any kind of sense from this passage, as it stands, and I don't see how it can be amended. Perhaps the meaning may be this:-" And what a man cannot accomplish, he may lawfully endeavour to obtain;" as for instance, his wife's affection.
With respect to Farmer's explanation, I cannot conceive how a man can give what he cannot get: besides, if the words were capable of the meaning he supposes, they would not apply to any thing that had passed, or been said before; and this Fisherman is a shrewd fellow, who is not supposed to speak nonsense. M. Mason.
Re-enter the Two Fishermen, drawing up a Net.
2 Fish. Help, master, help; here's a fish hangs in the net, like a poor man's right in the law; 'twill hardly come out. Ha! bots on 't, 'tis come at last, and 'tis turned to a rusty armour.
Per. An armour, friends! I pray you, let me see it.
And, though it was mine own, part of mine heritage,
'Twixt me and death; (and pointed to this brace:)*
1 bots on 't,] The bots are the worms that breed in horses. This comick execration was formerly used in the room of one less decent. It occurs in King Henry IV, and in many other old plays. Malone.
See The Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, in the old song of The Miller of Mansfield, Part II, line 65:
"Quoth Dick, a bots on you." Percy.
after all my crosses,] For the insertion of the word my, I am answerable. Malone.
3 And, though it was mine own,] i. e. And I thank you, though it was my own.
this brace:] The brace is the armour for the arm. So, in Troilus and Cressida:
"I'll hide my silver beard in a gold beaver,
"And in my vant-brace put this wither'd brawn."
Avant bras. Fr. Steevens.
See Vol. XII, p.51, n. 1. Malone.
5 Which gods protect thee from! &c.] The old copies read, unintelligibly:
The which the gods protect thee, fame may defend thee.
I am answerable for the correction.-The licence taken in omitting the pronoun before have, in a subsequent line of this speech, was formerly not uncommon. See note on the following passage in Othello, Act III, sc. iii:
"Give me a living reason she 's disloyal." Malone. Being certain that the metre throughout this play was once regular, I correct the line in question thus:
in like necessity,
Which gods protect thee from! it may defend thee. Steevens.
Till the rough seas, that spare not any man,
1 Fish. What mean you, sir?
Per. To beg of you, kind friends, this coat of worth, For it was sometime target to a king;
I know it by this mark. He lov'd me dearly,
And for his sake, I wish the having of it;
And that you 'd guide me to your sovereign's court,
1 Fish. Why, do ye take it, and the gods give thee good on 't!
2 Fish. Ay, but hark yoù, my friend;1 'twas we that made up this garment through the rough seams of the waters: there are certain condolements, certain vails. I hope, sir, if you thrive, you'll remember from whence you had it.2
Per. Believe 't, I will.
Now, by your furtherance, I am cloth'd in steel;3
though calm'd, they give 't again :] Old copies :
by will.] Old copy-in his will. For the sake of metre I read by will. So, in As You Like It : "By will but a poor
thousand crowns." Steevens.
And if that ever my low fortunes better,] Old copy:
And if that ever my low fortune's better,
We should read-" My low fortunes better." Better is in this
place a verb, and fortunes the plural number. M. Mason.
Why, do ye take it,] This is, in plainer terms,-Why, take it.
Ay, but hark you, my friend; &c.] Thus, in Twine's translation: "And in the meane time of this one thing onely doe I putte thee in minde, that when thou shalt be restored to thy former dignity, thou do not despise to thinke on the basenesse of the poore piece of garment." Steevens.
from whence you had it.] For this correction I am answerable. The old copies read-had them. Malone.
Now, by your furtherance, I am cloth'd in steel;] Old copy,
And spite of all the rupture of the sea,
By your furtherance, I am cloth'd in steel; I either read:
By your forbearance I am cloth'd in steel; i. e. by your forbearance to claim the armour, which being just drawn up in your net, might have been detained as your own property;-or, for the sake of metre also:
Now, by your furtherance, &c.
And spite of all the rupture of the sea,] We might read (with Dr. Sewel):
spite of all the rapture of the sea.
That is notwithstanding that the sea hath ravish'd so much from me. So, afterwards:
"Who looking for adventures in the world, "Was by the rough seas reft of ships and men.' Again, in The Life and Death of Lord Cromwell, 1602: "Till envious fortune, and the ravenous sea, "Did rob, disrobe, and spoil us of our own." But the old reading is sufficiently intelligible. Malone.
I am not sure but that the old reading is the true one. We still talk of the breaking of the sea, and the breakers. What is the rupture of the sea, but another word for the breaking of it? Rupture means any solution of continuity.
It should not, however, be dissembled, that Chapman, in his version of the Iliad, has several times used the substantive rapture, to express violent seizure, or the act by which any thing is carried forcibly away. So, in the 5th Iliad:
"Brake swift-foot Iris to his aid from all the darts that hiss'd
"At her quick rapture;
and their friend did from his rapture bear." Again, in the 22d Iliad:
And looke how an eagle from her height "Stoopes to the rapture of a lamb." Steevens.
5 This jewel holds his biding on my arm;] The old copy reads -his building. Biding was, I believe, the poet's word. Malone. This conjecture appears to be just. A similar expression oc curs in Othello:
look, I have a weapon,
"A better never did itself sustain
Upon a soldier's thigh."
i. e. hold its biding, or place, there.
Any ornament of enchased gold was anciently styled a jewel. So, in Markham's Arcadia, 1607: "She gave him a very fine jewel, wherein was set a most rich diamond." Steevens.