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Third, where he makes Gloucester say to queen
"The curse my noble father laid on thee
When thou didst crown his noble brows with paper."
He was therefore, in this instance, misled by the author of King Henry the Sixth; or, he must have written the queen's speech himself.
Sc. 4. p. 244.
YORK. Whose tongue more poisons than the adder's tooth. Again in Cymbeline, Act iii. Sc. 4;
"Whose tongue outvenoms all the worms of Nilc."
- ACT III.
Scene 2. Page 310.
L. GREY. But, mighty lord, this merry inclination
The following is offered as a very select instance of the use of sadness for seriousness. It is from Tom Coriat's speech that he made to a Mahometan who had called him an infidel. "But
pray thee tell me thou Mahometan, dost thou
in sadness call me Giaur?
That I doe, quoth he. Then quoth I, in very sober sadness I retort that shameful word in thy throate."
Sc. 2. p. 314.
GLO. Like to a chaos, or an unlick'd bear-whelp.
The common opinion which Dr. Johnson mentions of the bear bringing forth unformed lumps. of animated flesh, and afterwards licking them into proper shape, has been very properly exposed and confuted by Sir Thomas Brown in his Enquiries into vulgar. errors, book iii. ch. 6. His adversary Ross in his Arcana microcosmi, p. 115, has attempted a solution of this matter, by stating it as a fact that bears bring forth their young deformed and mis-shapen, by reason of the thick membrane in which they are wrapped, that is, covered over with a mucous and fleg matick matter. This, he says, the dam contracts in the winter time, by lying in hollow caves without motion, so that to the eye the cub appears like an unformed lump. The above mucilage is afterwards licked away by the dam, and the membrane broken, whereby that which before seemed to be unformed appears now in its right shape.
And this, he contends, against Dr. Brown, is all
that the ancients meant.
See more on the sub
ject of the old opinion in Bartholomæus De pro
prietat. rerum, lib. xviii. c. 112.
Scene 7. Page 359.
GLO. For many men that stumble at the threshold.
To understand this phrase rightly, it must be remembered that some of the old thresholds or steps under the door, were, like the hearths, raised a little, so that a person might stumble over them unless proper care were taken. A very whimsical reason for this practice is given in a curious little tract by Sir Balthazar Gerbier, entitled, Councel and advice to all builders, 1663, 24mo, in these words, "A good surveyour shuns also the ordering of doores with stumbling-blockthresholds, though our forefathers affected them, perchance to perpetuate the antient custome of bridegroomes, when formerly at their return from church [they] did use to lift up their bride, and to knock their head against that of the doore, for a remembrance, that they were not to passe the threshold of their house without their leave."
Scene 7. Page 403.
CLAR. What will your grace have done with Margaret ? Reignier her father, to the king of France
Hath pawn'd the Sicils and Jerusalem,
And hither have they sent it for her ransom.
Unless there be some omission in this speech, it must either be regarded as improperly elliptical, or as ungrammatical. It refers to the sum of money borrowed by Margaret's father, which is mentioned by the French historians to have been fifty thousand crowns. The author of the play followed Holinshed.
THE right accentuation of Hěcătē, as well as the proper description of Althea's torch, which Shakspeare, in King Henry the Fourth, had misrepresented, are additional arguments that he did not write the whole of these plays; but that they were composed by some person who had more classical knowledge, but infinitely less genius than our author.
KING RICHARD III.
Scene 1. Page 461.
GLO. He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
THE question with Dr. Johnson is, whether it be war that capers, or York; and he justly remarks that if the latter, the antecedent is at an almost forgotten distance. The amorous temper of Edward the Fourth is well known; and there cannot be a doubt that by the lascivious pleasing of a lute, he is directly alluded to. The subsequent description likewise that Richard gives of himself is in comparison with the king. Dr. Johnson thought the image of war capering poetical; yet it is not easy to conceive how grimvisag'd war could caper in a lady's chamber.
Sc. 1. p. 462.
GLO. Cheated of feature by dissembling nature.
The poet by this expression seems to mean no