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Line 116. -best men;] That is, bravest; so in the next lines, good deeds are brave actions. JOHNSON. Line 126. the men would carry coals.] It appears that, in Shakspeare's age, to carry coals, was, I know not why, to endure affronts. So, in Romeo and Juliet, one serving-man asks another whether he will carry coals. JOHNSON. Line 143. -is dight himself four yards under the countermines:] Fluellen means, that the enemy had digged himself countermines four yards under the mines. JOHNSON. will plow up all,] That is, he will blow up all. JOHNSON. -I sall quit you—] That is, I shall, with your permission, requite you, that is, answer you, or interpose with my arguments, as I shall find opportunity. JOHNSON. Line 226.- there is an end.] It were to be wished, that the poor merriment of this dialogue had not been purchased with so much profaneness. JOHNSON.
ACT III. SCENE III.
Enlink'd to waste and desolation?] All the savage practices naturally concomitant to the sack of cities. JOHNSON. ACT III. SCENE IV.
Scene IV.] I have left this ridiculous scene as I found it; and am sorry to have no colour left, from any of the editions, to imagine it interpolated. WARBURTON.
Sir T. Hanmer has rejected it. The scene is indeed mean enough, when it is read; but the grimaces of two French women, and the odd accent with which they uttered the English, made it divert upon the stage. It may be observed, that there is in it not only the French language, but the French spirit. Alice compliments the princess upon her knowledge of four words, and tells her that she pronounces like the English themselves. The princess suspects no deficiency in her instructress, nor the instructress in herself. Throughout the whole scene there may be found French servility, and French vanity.
I cannot forbear to transcribe the first sentence of this dialogue VOL. X.
from the edition of 1608, that the reader, who has not looked into the old copies, may judge of the strange negligence with which they are printed.
"Kate. Alice venecia, vous aves cates en, vou parte fort bon Angloys englatara, coman sae palla vou la main en francoy."
ACT III. SCENE V.
-our father's luxury,] In this place, as in others, JOHNSON.
Line 355. luxury means lust. Line 356. —savage—] is here used in the French original sense, for silvan, uncultivated, the same with wild.
Line 364. In that nook-shotten isle of Albion.] Shotten signifies any thing projected: so nook-shotten isle, is an isle that shoots out into capes, promontories, and necks of land, the very figure WARBURTON. of Great Britain.
-Can sodden water,
A drench for sur-rein'd jades,] The exact meaning of sur-reyn'd I do not know. It is common to give horses over-ridden or feverish ground malt and hot water mixed, which is called a JOHNSON. mash. To this he alludes. -I suppose, sur-rein'd means over-ridden; horses on whom the rein has remained too long. MALONE.
-lavoltas high,] A very brisk dance.
394. Charles De-la-bret, &c.] Milton somewhere bids the English take notice how their names are misspelt by foreigners, and seems to think that we may lawfully treat foreign names, in return, with the same neglect. This privilege seems to be exercised in this catalogue of French names, which, since the sense of the author is not affected, I have left as I found it. JOHNSON, Line 404. With pennons-] i. e. small flags.
·405. melted snow- -] The poet has here defeated himself by passing too soon from one image to another. To bid the French rush upon the English as the torrents formed from melted snow stream from the Alps, was at once vehement and proper, but its force is destroyed by the grossness of the thought in the next line. JOHNSON.
ACT III. SCENE VI.
Line 437. but keeps the pridge most valiantly,] This is not an imaginary circumstance, but founded on an historical fact. After Henry had passed the Some, the French endeavoured to intercept him in his passage to Calais; and for that purpose attempted to break down the only bridge that there was over the small river of Ternois, at Blangi, over which it was necessary for Henry to pass. But Henry, having notice of their design, sent a part of his troops before him, who, attacking and putting the French to flight, preserved the bridge, till the whole English army arrived, and passed over it. MALONE.
Line 456. That goddess blind,] The picture of Fortune is taken from the old history of Fortunatus; where she is described to be a fair woman, muffled over the eyes. FARMER.
Line 470. For he hath stoľ'n a pix,] Pix or pax was a little box in which were kept the consecrated wafers. JOHNSON. Line 504. -a sconce,] A sconce appears to have been a rude kind of entrenchment.
Line 513. such slanders of the age,] This was a character very troublesome to wise men in our author's time. "It is the practice with him (says Ascham) to be warlike, though he never looked enemy in the face; yet some warlike sign must be used, as a slovenly buskin, or an over-staring frownced head, as though out of every hair's top should suddenly start a good big oath."
Line 542. -his fire's out.] This is the last time that any sport can be made with the red face of Bardolph, which, to confess the truth, seems to have taken more hold on Shakspeare's imagination than on any other. The conception is very cold to the solitary reader, though it may be somewhat invigorated by the exhibition on the stage. This poet is always more careful about the present than the future, about his audience than his readers. JOHNSON.
Line 551. by my habit.] That his, by his herald's coat. The person of a herald being inviolable, was distinguished in those times of formality by a peculiar dress, which is likewise yet worn on particular occasions. JOHNSON,
-upon our cue,] In our turn. This phrase the author learned among players, and has imparted it to kings.
Line 597.- -God before,] This was an expression in that age for God being my guide, or, when used to another, God be thy guide. So, in An old Dialogue between a Herdsman and a Maiden going on a Pilgrimage to Walsinghum, the herdsman takes his leave in these words:
"Now, go thy ways, and God before."
Discolour:] From Holinshed: "My desire is, that none of you be so 'unadvised, as to be the occasion that I in my defence shall colour and make red your tawny ground with the effusion of christian bloud, When he [Henry] had thus answered the herauld, he gave him a greate rewarde, and licensed him to depart." MALONE.
ACT III. SCENE VII.
Line 629. He bounds from the earth, as if his entrails were hairs;] Alluding to the bounding of tennis-balls, which were stuffed with hair, as appears from Much Ado about Nothing: "And the old ornament of his cheek hath already stuff'd tennisballs." WARBURTON.
Line 733. 'tis a hooded valour; and, when it appears, it will bate.] This is said with allusion to falcons which are kept hooded when they are not to fly at game, and, as soon as the hood is off, bait or flap the wing. The meaning is, the Dauphin's valour has never been let loose upon an enemy, yet, when he makes his first essay, we shall see how he will flutter. JOHNSON.
Line 736. I will cap that proverb-] Alluding to the practice of capping verses. JOHNSON.
Line 772. give them great meals of beef,] Our author had the Chronicle in his thoughts: "-keep an English man one month from his warm bed, fat beef, stale drink," &c.
So also in the old King Henry V:
Why, take an Englishman out of his warm bed, "And his stale drink, but one moneth,
"And, alas, what will become of him?"
ACT IV. CHORUS.
Line 3. Fills the wide vessel of the universe.] The universe, in its original sense, no more means this globe singly than the circuit of the horizon; but, however large in its philosophical sense, it may be poetically used for as much of the world as falls under observation. JOHNSON. stilly sounds,] i. e. gently, lowly. So, in the 66 a still small voice." MALONE.
Line 6. sacred writings: Line 8. The secret whispers of each other's watch :] Holinshed says, that the distance between the two armies was but two hundred and fifty paces. MALONE.
Line 9. Fire answers fire;] This circumstance is also taken from Holinshed: "but at their coming into the village, fires were made (by the English) to give light on every side, as there likewise were in the French hoste." MALONE. Line 10. the other's umber'd face :] Umber'd means here discoloured by the gleam of the fires. MALONE. Line 20. Do the low-rated English play at dice ;] From Holinshed: "The Frenchmen in the mean while, as though they had been sure of victory, made great triumphe, for the captaines had determined before how to divide the spoil, and the souldiers the night before had plaid the Englishmen at dice." MALONE. Line 55. Minding true things,] To mind is the same as to call to rememberance. JOHNSON.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
Line 66. That we should dress us fairly for our end.] Dress us, I believe, means here, address us; i. e. prepare ourselves.
Line 81. With casted slough &c.] Slough is the skin which the serpent annually throws off, and by the change of which he is supposed to regain new vigour and fresh youth. Legerity is lightness, nimbleness. JOHNSON.