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1 LORD. Joy and all comfort in your sacred breast!
2 LORD. And keep your mind, till you return to
Peaceful and comfortable!
HEL. Peace, peace, my lords, and give experience tongue.
They do abuse the king, that flatter him:
The thing the which is flatter'd, but a spark,
Whereas reproof, obedient, and in order,
roots they grow by, so it is the duty of the former to protect his subjects, who are no less the supporters of his dignity. So, in King Henry VI. P. III:
"Thus yields the cedar &c.
"Whose top branch over-peer'd Jove's spreading tree, "And kept low shrubs from winter's powerful wind." STEEVENS.
Once more, must have been a corruption. I formerly thought the poet might have written Who owe no more, but am now persuaded that he wrote, however ungrammatically,-Who wants no more, i. e. which self wants no more; has no other wish or desire, but to protect its subjects. The transcriber's ear, I suppose, deceived him in this, as in various other instances. It should be remembered that self was formerly used as a substantive, and is so used at this day by persons of an inferior rank, who frequently say-his self. Hence, I suppose, the author wrote wants rather than want. MALONE.
1 To which that breath &c.] i. e. the breath of flattery. The old copy reads that spark; the word, (as Mr. Steevens has observed,) being accidentally repeated by the compositor. He would read-that wind. MALONE.
This passage seems to be corrupt, as it stands, and the sense requires that we should read:
To which that blast gives heat and stronger glowing. Steevens agrees with me in the necessity of some amendment, but proposes to read wind, which I think not so proper a word as blast. M. MASON.
Fits kings, as they are men, for they may err.
PER. All leave us else; but let your cares o'erlook
What shipping, and what lading's in our haven, And then return to us. [Exeunt Lords.] Helicanus,
Hast moved us: what seest thou in our looks?
HEL. An angry brow, dread lord.
PER. If there be such a dart in princes' frowns, How durst thy tongue move anger to our face?
HEL. How dare the plants look up to heaven, from whence
They have their nourishment?3
To take thy life.
Thou know'st I have power
HEL. [Kneeling.] I have ground the axe myself; Do you but strike the blow.
PER. Rise, pr'ythee rise; Sit down, sit down; thou art no flatterer:
2 When signior Sooth-] A near kinsman of this gentleman
is mentioned in The Winter's Tale: "and his pond fish'd by his next neighbour, by sir Smile, his neighbour." MALONE.
3 How dare the plants look up to heaven, from whence
They have their nourishment?] Thus the quarto 1609. Mr. Rowe &c. read:
How dare the planets look up unto heaven
From whence they have their nourishment?
It would puzzle a philosopher to ascertain the quality of planetary nourishment, or to discover how planets, which are already in heaven, can be said to look up to it. STEEVENS.
I thank thee for it; and high heaven forbid, That kings should let their ears hear their faults hid!4
Fit counsellor, and servant for a prince,
With patience bear Such griefs as you do lay upon yourself.
PER. Thou speak'st like a physician, Helicanus; Who minister'st a potion unto me, That thou would'st tremble to receive thyself. Attend me then: I went to Antioch, Where, as thou know'st," against the face of death, I sought the purchase of a glorious beauty, From whence an issue I might propagate,
That kings should let their ears hear their faults hid!] Heaven forbid, that kings should stop their ears, and so prevent them from hearing their secret faults!-To let formerly signified to hinder.
So, in Hamlet:
"By heaven I'll make a ghost of him that lets me.” Again, in Tancred and Gismund, 1592:
"Nor base suspect of aught to let his suit." MALONE.
I am not clear, but that let is here used in its ordinary sense: "Forbid it, heaven, (says Pericles,) that kings should suffer their ears to hear their failings palliated!" HOLT WHITE.
Where, as thou know'st, &c.] Malone observes that whereas is frequently used by the old dramatick writers, instead of where, and he is certainly right; but the observation is not to the purpose on the present occasion; for the word whereas does not really occur in this passage, which should be printed and pointed thus: I went to Antioch,
Where, as thou know'st, against the face of death,
Where is more frequently used for whereas, but not in this place. M. MASON.
• From whence an issue-] From whence I might propagate an issue, that are arms, &c. MALONE.
Bring arms to princes, and to subjects joys."
'Tis time to fear, when tyrants seem to kiss.
7 From whence an issue I might propagate,
Bring arms to princes, and to subjects joys.] Old copy:
I once imagined that a line was wanting to complete the sense of this passage, and that the deficiency might be supplied as follows: a glorious beauty,
From whence an issue I might propagate;
Influenced, however, by the subsequent remark of Mr. M.
The meaning of this passage is clearly this: "From whence I might propagate such issue, as bring additional strength to princes, and joy to their subjects." The expression is certainly faulty; but it seems to be the fault of the author, not the printer. I believe it was written as it stands. M. MASON.
Seem'd not to strike, but smooth:] To smooth formerly signified to flatter. See note on "smooth every passion," in King Lear, Act II. sc. ii. MALONE.
To smooth in this place means to stroke. In the same sense we should understand the word in Milton's Comus, v. 251 : - smoothing the raven down "Of darkness, till it smil'd."
They say in some counties smooth-instead of stroke, the cat.
I knew him tyrannous; and tyrants' fears
PER. Drew sleep out of mine eyes, blood from my cheeks,
Musings into my mind, a thousand doubts
9than their years:] Old copy-the years. Their suspicions outgrow their years; a circumstance sufficiently natural to veteran tyrants. The correction is mine. STEEvens.
1 And should he doubt it, (as no doubt he doth,)] The quarto, 1609, reads:
And should he doo't, as no doubt he doth—.
from which the reading of the text has been formed. The repetition is much in our author's manner, and the following words, to lop that doubt, render this emendation almost certain. MALONE.
Here is an apparent corruption. I should not hesitate to read -doubt on't-or,-doubt it. To doubt is to remain in suspense or uncertainty. Should he be in doubt that I shall keep this secret, (as there is no doubt but he is,) why, to "lop that doubt," i. e. to get rid of that painful uncertainty, he will strive to make me appear the aggressor, by attacking me first as the author of some supposed injury to himself. STEEVENS.
who spares not innocence:] Thus the eldest quarto. All the other copies read corruptly:
who fears not innocence. MALONE.