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Rend'ring faint quittance,' wearied and out-breath'd,
-faint quittance,] Quittance is return. By faint quittance is meant a faint return of blows. So, in K. Henry V:
“We shall forget the office of our hand,
“ Sooner than quittance of desert and merit.” Steevens. 1 For from his metal was his party steeld;
Which once in him abated,] Abated is not here put for the general idea of diminished, nor for the notion of blunted, as applied to a single edge. Abated means reduced to a lower temper, or, as the workmen call it, let down. Johnson.
2 'Gan vail his stomach,] Began to fall his courage, to let his spirits sink under his fortune. Fohnson.
From avaller, Fr. to cast down, or to let fall down. Malone.
This phrase has already appeared in The Taming of the Shrew, Vol. VI, p. 150:
“ Then vail your stomachs, for it is no boot;
“ And place your hands below your husbands' foot.” Reed. Thus, to vail the bonnet is to pull it off. So, in The Pinner of Wakefield, 1599:
“ And make the king vail bonnet to us both." To vail a staff, is to let it fall in token of respect. Thus, in the same play:
“And for the ancient custom of vail staf,
Of those that turn'd their backs; and, in his flight,
North. For this I shall have time enough to mourn.
“If any ask a reason, why? or how?
Say, English Edward vail'd his staf to you.” Steevens. 3 Having been well, that would have made me sick,] i. e. that would, had I been well, have made me sick. Malone.
buckle -] Bend; yield to pressure. Johnson.
even so my limbs,
Are thrice themselves :) As Northumberland is here comparing himself to a person, who, though his joints are weakened by a bodily disorder, derives strength from the distemper of the mind, I formerly proposed to read~" Weakened with age," or “ Weakened with pain."
When a word is repeated, without propriety, in the same or two succeeding lines, there is great reason to suspect some corruption. Thus, in this scene, in the first folio, we have “ able heels," instead of "armed heels,” in consequence of the word able having occurred in the preceding line. So, in Hamlet : " Thy news shall be the news," &c. instead of “ Thy news shall be the fruit." Again, in Macbeth, instead of “ Whom we, to gain our place,” &c. we find
“Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace." In this conjecture I had once some confidence; but it is much diminished by the subsequent note, and by my having lately observed that Shakspeare elsewhere uses grief for bodily pain. Fal. staff, in King Henry IV, Part I, p. 317, speaks of " the grief of a wound.” Grief, in the latter part of this line, is used in its present sense, for sorrow; in the former part for bodily pain.
A scaly gauntlet now, with joints of steel,
Grief, in ancient language, signifies bodily pain, as well as sor. row. So, in A Treatise of sundrie Diseases, &c. by T. T. 1591: "-he being at that time griped sore, and having grief in his lower bellie. Dolor ventris is, by our old writers, frequently translated "grief of the guts.” I perceive no need of alteration.
Steevens. nice —] i. e. trifling. So, in Julius Cæsar:
it is not meet
Steevens. ? The ragged’st hour —) Mr. Theobald and the subsequent editors read–The rugged'st. But change is unnecessary, the expression in the text being used more than once by our author. In As you Like it, Amiens says, his voice is ragged; and rag is employed as a term of reproach in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and in Timon of Athens. See also the Epistle prefixed to Spenser's Shepherd's Calender, 1579: “- as thinking them fittest for the rustical rudeness of shepherds, either for that their rough sound would make his rimes more ragged, and rustical,” &c. The modern editors of Spenser might here substitute the word rugged with just as much propriety as it has been substituted in the present passage, or in that in As you Like it. See Vol. V, p. 47, n. 7. Again, in The Rape of Lucrece:
“ Thy secret pleasure turns to open shame,
“Thy smoothing titles to a ragged name." Again, in our poet's eighth Sonnet :
“ Then let not Winter's ragged hand deface
“In thee thy summer.” Again, in the play before us:
" A ragged and fore.stall'd remission.” Malone. 8 And darkness be the burier of the dead!] The conclusion of this
Tra. This strained passion doth you wrong, my lord.
Mor. The lives of all your loving complices
Bard. We all, that are engaged to this loss, 3
noble speech is extremely striking. There is no need to suppose it exactly philosophical; darkness, in poetry, may be absence of eyes, as well as privation of light. Yet we may remark, that by an ancient opinion it has been held, that if the human race, for whom the world was made, were extirpated, the whole system of sublunary nature would cease. Johnson.
in the dole of blows -] The dole of blows is the distribution of blows. Dole originally signified the portion of alms (consisting either of meat or money)
that was given away at the door of a nobleman. See Vol. VII, p. 207, n. 9. Steevens. fa ? You knew, he walk'd v'er perils, on an edge,
More likely to fall in, than to get o'er:] So, in King Henry IV, .
“ As full of peril and adventurous spirit,
“On the unsteadfast footing of a spear." Malone.
“ How shall I doat on her with more advice i. e. on further knowledge. Malone.
Thus also, Thomas Twyne, the continuator of Pbaer's translation of Virgil, 1584, for haud inscius, has advis'd:
“He spake: and strait the sword advisde into his throat
Knew that we ventur'd on such dangerous seas,
Mor. 'Tis more than time: And, my most noble lord,
North. I knew of this before; but, to speak truth,
3 We all, that are engaged to this loss,] We have a similar phraseology in the preceding play:
“ Hath a more worthy interest to the state,
“ Than thou the shadow of succession.” Malone. 4 The gentle &c.] These one-and-twenty lines were added since the first edition. Fohnson.
5 Tells them, he doth bestride a bleeding land,] That is, stands over his country to defend her as she lies bleeding on the ground. So Falstaff before says to the Prince, If thou see me down, Hal, and bestride me, so; it is an office of friendship. Johnson.