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Than such as most seem yours:- I say, I come
good queen; And would by combat make her good, so were I A man, the worst about you." Leon.
Force her hence.
[Laying down the Child. Leon.
To comfort, in old language, is to aid and encourage. Evils here mean wicked courses. Malone. 1 And would by combat make her good, so were I
man, the worst about you.] The worst means only the lowest. Were I the meanest of your servants, I would yet claim the com. bat against any accuser. Fohnson.
The worst, (as Mr. M. Mason and Mr. Henley observe) rather means the weakest, or the least expert in the use of arms. Steevens.
Mr. Edwards observes, that “ The worst about you,” may mean the weakest, or least warlike. So, “a better man, the best man in company, frequently refer to skill in fighting, not to moral goodness." I think he is right. Malone.
2 A mankind witch!] A mankind woman is yet used in the midland counties, for a woman violent, ferocious, and mischievous. It has the same sense in this passage.
Witches are supposed to be mankind, to put off the softness and delicacy of women; therefore Sir Hugh, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, says of a woman suspected to be a witch, “ that he does not like when a woman has a beard.” Of this meaning Mr. Theo bald has given examples. Fohnson. So, in The Two angry Women of Abington, 1599:
66 That e'er I should be seen to strike a woman.
“Why she is mankind, therefore thou may'st strike her." Again, as Dr. Farmer observes to me, in A. Fraunce's Iviechurch: He is speaking of the Golden Age:
“ Noe man murdring man with teare-flesh pyke or a poll
ax; “ Tygers were then tame, sharpe tusked boare was obeis
sant; “ Stoordy lyons lowted, noe wolf was knowne to be mana
A most intelligencing bawd!
So, in M. Frobisher's first Voyage for the Discoverie of Cataja, 4to. bl. 1. 1578, p. 48: “He saw mightie deere, that seemed to be mankind, which ranne at him, and hardly he escaped with bis life,” &c. Steevens.
I shall offer an etymology of the adjective mankind, which may perhaps more fully explain it. Dr. Hickes's Anglo-Saxon Grammar, p. 119, edit. 1705, observes: : “ Saxonicè man est a mein quod Cimbricè est nocumentum, Francicè est nefas, scelus.” So that mankind may signify one of a wicked and pernicious nature, from the Saxon man, mischief or wickedness, and from kind, na ture. Tollet.
Notwithstanding the many learned notes on this expression, I am confident that mankind, in this passage, means nothing more than masculine. So, in Massinger's Guardian:
“I keep no mankind servant in my house,
“ For fear my chastity may be suspected.” And Jonson, in one of his Sonnets, says:
“ Pallas, now thee I call on, mankind maid!” The same phrase frequently occurs in Beaumont and Fletcher. Thus, in Monsieur Thomas, when Sebastian sees him in womens' clothes, and supposes him to be a girl, he says:
“ A plaguy mankind girl; how my brains totter!" And Gondarino, in The Woman-Hater :
“ Are women grown so mankind?” In all which places mankind means masculine. M. Mason.
thou art woman-tir’d,] Woman-tird, is peck’d by a woman; hen-pecked. The phrase is taken from falconry, and is often employed by writers contemporary with Shakspeare. --So, in The Widow's Tears, by Chapman, 1612:
“He has given me a bone to tire on." Again, in Decker's Match me in London, 1631:
the vulture tires “Upon the eagle's heart.” Again, in Chapman's translation of Achilles' Shield, 4to. 1598:
“ Like men alive they did converse in fight,
“ And tyrde on death with mutuall appetite." Partlet is the name of the hen in the old story book of Reynard the Fox. Steevens.
By thy dame Partlet here,-take up the bastard;
I say; give 't to thy crone.
He dreads his wife.
A nest of traitors!
Nor I, nor any,
thy crone. ] i.e. thy old worn-out woman. A croan is an old toothless sheep: thence an old woman. So, in Chaucer's Man of Lawes Tale :
" This olde Soudanesse, this cursed crone." Again, in The Malcontent, 1606: “There is an old crone in the court, her name is Maquerelle.” Again, in Love's Mistress, by T. Heywood, 1636:
“ Witch and hag, crone and beldam.” Again, in Heywood's Golden Age, 1611: “ All the gold in Crete cannot get one of you old crones with child.”. Again, in the ancient interlude of The Repentance of Marie Magdalene, 1567 :
“ I have knowne painters, that have made old crones,
Steevens. 5 Unvenerable be thy hands, if thou
Tak’st up the princess, by that forced baseness - ] Leontes had ordered Antigonus to take up the bastard; Paulina forbids him to touch the Princess under that appellation. Forced is false, uttered witb violence to truth. Fohnson.
A base son was a common term in our author's time. So, in King Lear:
· Why brand they us
slander, “Whose edge is sharper than the sword, whose tongue s« Qut-venoms all the worms of Nile." Douce.
(For as the case now stands, it is a curse
It is yours; And, might we lay the old proverb to your charge So like you, 'tis the worse. -Behold, my lords, Although the print be little, the whole matter And copy of the father: eye, nose, lip, The trick of his frown, his forehead; nay,, the valley, The pretty dimples of his chin, and cheek; his smiles; 8 The very mould and frame of hand, nail, finger:And, thou, good goddess nature, which hast made it So like to him that got it, if thou hast The ordering of the mind too, 'mongst all colours No yellow in 't;o lest she suspect, as he does, Her children not her husband's!1
his smiles;] These two redundant words might be reject ed, especially as the child has already been represented as the inheritor of his father's dimples and frowns. Steevens.
Our author and his contemporaries frequently take the liberty of using words of two syllables, as monosyllables. So, eldest
, highest, lover, either, &c. Dimples is, I believe, employed so here; and of his, when contracted, or sounded quickly, make but one syllable likewise. In this view there is no redundancy.
Malone. How is the word dimples, to be monosyllabically pronounced?
Steedens. No yellow in 't;] Yellow is the colour of jealousy. Fohnson. So, Nym says, in The Merry Wives of Windsor : “I will possess him with yellowness.” Steevens.
lest she suspect, as he does, Her children not her husband's.'] In the ardour of composition Shakspeare seems here to have forgotten the difference of sexes. No suspicion that the babe in question might entertain of her fu. ture husband's fidelity, could affect the legitimacy of her offspring. Unless she were herself a “bed-swerver,” (which is not supposed) she could have no doubt of his being the father of her children. However painful female jealousy may be to her that feels-it, Pau
A gross hag!
Hang all the husbands,
Once more, take her hence.
I'll have thee burn'd.
I care not:
On your allegiance,
Away with her.
lina, therefore, certainly attributes to it, in the present instance, a pang that it can never give. Malone.
I regard this circumstance'as a beauty, rather than a defect. The seeming absurdity in the last clause of Paulina's ardent address to Nature, was undoubtedly designed, being an extravagance characteristically preferable to languid correctness, and chastised declamation. Steevens.
2 And, lozel,] “ A Losel is one that hath lost, neglected, or cast off his owne good and welfare, and so is become lewde and carelesse of credit and honesty.” Verstegan's Restitution, 1605, p. 335. Reed.
This is a term of contempt frequently used by Spenser. I likewise meet with it in The Death of Robert Earl of Huntington,1601:
“ To have the lozel's company." A lozel is a worthless fellow. Again, in The Pinner of Wake
“Peace, prating lozel,” &c. Steevens.