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THE WINTER'S TALE.
ACT I. SCENE I.
LINE 18. -our entertainment, &c.] Though we cannot give you equal entertainment, yet the consciousness of our good-will shall justify us. JOHNSON. Line 28. royally attornied,] Nobly supplied by substitution of embassies, &c. JOHNSON. Line 40. -physicks the subject,] Affords a cordial to the state; has the power of assuaging the sense of misery. JOHNSON.
ACT I. SCENE II.
Line 63. -sneaping winds] i. e. nipping. 90. this satisfaction] We had satisfactory accounts yesterday of the state of Bohemia. JOHNSON. Line 102. behind the gest-] In the time of royal progresses, the king's stages, as we may see by the journals of them in the herald's office, were called his gests; from the old French word giste, diversorium. WARBURTON.
Line 103. yet good deed,] signifies indeed, in very deed, as Shakspeare in another place expresses it.
lordings-] A lording is a little lord.
-the imposition clear'd,
Hereditary ours:] i. e. setting aside original sin; bating the imposition from the offence of our first parents, we might have boldly protested our innocence to heaven. WARB.
Grace to boot!
Of this make no conclusion; lest you say, &c.] To each part of this observation the queen answers in order. To that of temptations she replies, Grace to boot! i. e. though temptations have grown up, yet I hope grace too has kept pace with them. Grace to boot, was a proverbial expression on these occasions.
Line 185. And clap thyself my love;] She open'd her hand, to clap the palm of it into his, as people do when they confirm a bargain. Hence the phrase-to clap up a bargain, i. e. make one with no other ceremony than the junction of hands. STEEVENS. Line 202. The mort o' the deer;] A lesson upon the horn at the death of the deer. THEOBALD. Line 206. I'fecks!] Now pronounced I'fegs-in faith.
207. bawcock.] Bawcock is a fine fellow.
-210. We must be neat ;] Leontes, seeing his son's nose smutched, cries we must be neat, then recollecting that neat is the term for horned cattle, he says, not neat, but cleanly. JOHNSON. Line 212. still virginalling-] Still playing with her fingers, as a girl playing on the virginals. JOHNSON. A virginal, as I am informed, is a very small kind of spinnet. Queen Elizabeth's virginal book is yet in being, and many of the lessons in it have proved so difficult, as to baffle our most expert players on the harpsichord. STEEVENS. a rough pash,] i. e. a rough face.
221. As o'er-died blacks,] Sir T. Hanmer understands, blacks died too much, and therefore rotten.
It is common with tradesmen to dye their faded or damaged stuffs black. O'er-dyed blacks may mean those which have received a dye over their former colour. STEEVENS.
Line 223. No bourn-] Bourn is limit, boundary.
Line 225. -welkin-eye:] Blue eye; an eye of the same colour with the welkin, or sky. JOHNSON.
Line 229. Thou dost make possible things not so held,] i. e. thou dost make those things possible, which are conceived to be impossible. JOHNSON. Line 254. This squash,] A squash is the peapod in its early
Line 255. Will you take eggs for money?] This seems to be a
proverbial expression, used when a man sees himself wronged and makes no resistance. Its original, or precise meaning, I cannot find, but I believe it means, will you be a cuckold for hire. The cuckow is reported to lay her eggs in another bird's nest; he therefore that has eggs laid in his nest, is said to be cucullatus, cuckow'd, or cuckold. JOHNSON.
Line 275. Apparent-] That is, heir apparent, or the next claimant. JOHNSON.
Line 283. —the neb,] or nib, i. e. the mouth.
-a fork'd one,] That is, a horned one; a cuckold. JOHNSON.
-it still came home.] This is a sea-faring expression, used of the anchor, and meaning, it would not take hold. STEEVENS.
Line 321. —more material.] i. e. of still greater urgency. 323. They're here with me already;] Not Polixenes and Hermione, but casual observers, people accidentally present.
Line 323. whispering, rounding,] To round in the ear, is to whisper, or to tell secretly. The expression is very copiously JOHNS. explained by M. Causaubon, in his book de Ling. Sax.
Line 326. -gust it—] To gust, is to taste.
-336. lower messes,] I believe lower messes is only used as an expression to signify the lowest degrees. about the court. At every great man's table the visitants were anciently, as at present, placed according to their consequence or dignity, but with an additional mark of inferiority, viz. that of having coarser STEEVENS. provisions set before them.
hoxes honesty behind,] To hox, is to hough, to
Line 357. cut the hamstrings.
Line 374. Whereof the execution did cry out
Against the non-performance,] This is one of the expressions by which Shakspeare too frequently clouds his meaning. This sounding phrase means, I think, no more than a thing necessary to be done. JOHNSON.
As deep as that, though true.] i. e, your suspicion is as great a sin as would be that (if committed) for which you suspect her. WARBURTON.
-meeting-noses?] Dr. Thirlby reads, meting noses; that is, measuring noses. JOHNSON. -more doing:] The verb here is used in a wanton
with no rash potion,
But with a ling ring dram, that should not work, Maliciously, like poison:] Rash is hasty, as in another place, rash gunpowder. Maliciously is malignantly, with effects openly hurtful. Shakspeare had no thought of betraying the JOHNSON.
Line 448. I have lov'd thee, &c.] Camillo, desirous to defend the queen, and willing to secure credit to his apology, begins, by telling the king that he has loved him, is about to give instances of his love, and to infer from them his present zeal, when he is interrupted. JOHNSON.
Line 458. Could any man so blench?] To blench is to shrink. 530. In whose success we are gentle,] I know not whether "success here does not mean succession. JOHNSON. Line 554. I am appointed Him to murder you.] i. e. I am the person appointed to murder you. STEEVENS.
Line 561. To vice you to 't,] The vice is an instrument well known; its operation is to hold things together. So the bailiff speaking of Falstaff, "If he come but within my vice," &c.
Swear his thought over
By each particular star in Heaven, &c.] May, perhaps mean, overswear his present persuasion, that is, endeavour to overcome his opinion, by swearing oaths numerous as the stars.
Line 608. Good expedition be my friend, and comfort The gracious queen, part of his theme, but nothing Of his ill-ta'en suspicion!] Jealousy is a passion compounded of love and suspicion, this passion is the theme or subject of the king's thoughts.-Polixenes, perhaps, wishes the queen, for her comfort, so much of that theme or subject as is good, but deprecates that which causes misery. May part of the king's present sentiments comfort the queen, but away with his suspicion. JOHNSON.
ACT II. SCENE I
Line 58. Alack, for lesser knowledge!] That is, O that my knowledge were less. JOHNSON.
Line 60. A spider steep'd,] Spiders were formerly esteemed poisonous.
-violent hefts :- -] i. e. violent heavings.
a federary,] i. e. a confederate.
if I mistake
The center, &c.- -] That is, if the proofs which I can offer will not support the opinion I have formed, no foundation can be trusted. JOHNSON.
Line 137. He, who shall speak for her, is afar off guilty But that he speaks.] Far off guilty, signifies, guilty in a remote degree. JOHNSON. Line 159. -this action, I now go on,] The word action is here taken in the lawyer's sense, for indictment, charge, or accusation. JOHNSON.
Line 190. -land-damn him;] Land-damn is probably one of those words which caprice brought into fashion, and which, after a short time, reason and grammar drove irrecoverably away. It perhaps meant no more than I will rid the country of him; condemn him to quit the land. JOHNSON.
Line 197. And I had rather glib myself, &c.] For glib I think we should read lib, which in the northern language, is the same with geld.. GREY.
Though lib may probably be the right word, yet glib is at this time current in many counties, where they say-to glib a boar, to glib a horse.