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-my arms -] The weapons and armour which he wore in the character of Pompey.
JOHNSON. 890. --Woolward-] I have no shirt: “ I go wool. ward for penance.” The learned Dr. Grey, whose accurate knowledge of our old historians has often thrown much light on Shakspere, supposes that this passage is a plain reference to a story in Stowe's Annals, p. 98. But where is the connection or resemblance between this monkish tale and the passage before us? There is nothing in the story, as here related by Stowe, that would even put us in mind of this dialogue between Boyet and Armado, except the singular expression' go woolward; which, at the same time, is not ex. plained by the annotator, nor illustrated by his quo. tation. To go woolward, I believe, was a phrase appropriated to pilgrims and penitentiaries. In this sense it seems to be used in Pierce Plowman's Visions, Pass. xviii. fol. 96. b. edit. 1550 :
“ Woolward and wetshod went I forth after
“ An yedeforth like a lorell,” &c. Skinner derives woolward from the Saxon wol, plague, secondarily any great distress, and weard, toward. Thus, says he, it signifies, “in magno discrimine & expectatione magni mali constitutus." I rather think it should be written woolward, and that it means clothed in wool, and not in linen. This appears, not only from Shakspere's context, but more particularly from an historian who relates the legend before cited, and
whose words Stowe has evidently translated. This is Ailred, abbot of Rievaulx, who says, that our blind man was admonished, “ Ecclesias numero octoginta nudis pedibus et absque linteis circumire.” Dec. Scriptor. 392. 50. The same story is told by William of Malmsbury, Gest. Reg. Angl. Lib. II. p. 91. edit. 1601. And in Caxton's Legenda Aurea, fol. 307. edit. 1493. By the way it appears, that Stowe's Vifunius Spileorne, son of Ulmore of Nutgarshall, ought to be Wulwin, surnamed de Spillicote, son of Wulmar de Lutegarshelle, now Ludgershall: and the wood of Brutheullena is the forest of Bruelle, now called Brill, in Buckinghamshire. WARTON.
891. Boyet. True, and it was enjoin'd him in Rome for want of linen : &c.]. This is a plain reference to the following story in Stowe's Annals, p. 98. (in the time of Edward the Confessor.) " Next after this (king Edward's first cure of the king's evil) mine authors affirm, that a certain man, named Vifunius Spileorne, the son of Ulmore of Nutgarshall, who, when he hewcd timber in the wood of Brutheullena, laying him down to sleep after his sore labour, the blood and humours of his head so congealed about his eyes, that he was thereof blind, for the space of nineteen years; but then (as he had been moved in his sleep) he went woolward and barefooted to many churches, in every of them to pray to God for help in his blindness.”
Grey. The same custom is alluded to in an old collection of Satires, Epigrams, &c.
“ And when his shirt's a washing, then he must
Again, in A Mery Geste of Robyn Hoode, bl. let. no
“ Barefoot, woolward have I hight,
« Thether for to go.” Again, in Powell's History of Wales, 1584: “ The Angles and Saxons slew 1000 priests and monks of Bangor, with a great number of lay-brethren, &c. who were come barefooted and woolward to crave
STEEVENS. In Lodge's Incarnate Devils, 1596, we have the character of a swashbuckler : " His cominon course is to go always untrust; except when his shirt is a washing, and then he goes woolward."
FARMER 994. I have seen the days of wrong through the little hole of discretion,] - have hitherto looked on the indige nities I have received, with the eyes of discretion (i. e. not been too forward to resent them), and will insist on such satisfaétion as will not disgrace my character, which is that of a soldier. To have decided the quarrel in the manner proposed by his antagonist, would have been at once a derogation from the honour of a sol. dier, and the pride of a Spaniard.
“ One may see day at a little hole,” is a proverb in Ray's Collection: “ Day-light will peep through a little hole," in Kelly's.
STEEVENS. 913. -liberal-] Free to excess. STEEVENS, 915. In the converse of breath,.-] Perhaps converse may, in this line, mean interchange.
JOHNSON. 917. A heavy heart bears not an humble tongue :] Thus all the editions ; but, surely, without either sense or truth. None are more humble in speech, than they who labour under any oppression. The princess is desiring her grief may apologize for her not expressing her obligations at large; and my correction is conformable to that sentiment. Besides, there is an antithesis between heavy and nimble ; but between keavy and humble, there is none. THEOBALD.
The following passage in King John inclines me to dispute the propriety of Theobald's emendation:
"--grief is proud, and makes his owner stout.” By humble, the princess seems to mean obsequiously thankful.
STEEVENS. 929. And often, at his very loose, decides, &c.] At his very loose, may mean, at the moment of his parting, 1. e. of his getting loose, or away from us.
So, in some ancient poem, of which I forgot to pre. serve either the date or title :
“ Envy discharging all her pois’nous darts,
" The valiant mind is temper'd with that fire, " At her fierce loose that weakly never parts, “ But in despight doth force her to retire.”
STEEVENS. 926. -which fain it would convince ;] We must read, -which fain would it convince ;
that is, the entreaties of love, which would fain overpower grief. So Lady Macbeth declares, “ That she will convince the chamberlains with wine," JOHNSON.
932. I understand you not, my griefs are double.] I suppose, she means, 1. on account of the death of her father; 2. on account of not understanding the king's meaning
MALONE. 933. Honest plain words, &c.] As it seems not very proper for Biron to court the princess for the king in the king's presence, at this critical moment, I believe the speech is given to a wrong person. I read thus :
Prin. I understand you not, my griefs are double : Honest plain words best pierce the ear of grief.
King. And by these badges, &c. JOHNSON. Too many authors sacrifice propriety to the consequence of their principal character, into whose mouth they are willing to put more than justly belongs to him, or at least the best things they have to say. The original actor of Biron, however, like Bottom in the Midsummer-Night's Dream, might have taken this speech out of the mouth of an inferior performer.
Steevens, 943. Full of straying shapes,] A late editor reads strange shapes.
REED. So, in our author's Lover's Complaint:
" In him a plenitude of subtle matter,