Ah, think not, Mistress, more true Dulness lies
In Follys Cap, than Wisdoms grave disguise.
Like buoys, that never sink into the flood,
On Learnings surface we but lie and nod.
For thee we dim the eyes, and stuff the head,
With all such reading as was never read:
For thee explain a thing till all men doubt it,
And write about it, Goddess, and about it.



IF a variety of editions, and innumerable comments can be supposed to perfect and correct the inaccurate text of a celebrated au­thor, sufficient, one would think, has been done to leave that of Shakspeare without a blemish. So slow, however, or so inefficaci­ous, is the progress and exertion of verbal criticism, when moiling in the dust and cob­webs of antiquity, so much is to be demo­lished, so much to be rebuilt, that it will not, except to those who place implicit confi­dence in the interested and unqualifyed asser­tions of every publisher, be a matter of much surprise to learn, that, after all that has been done by the labour of Shakspeares numerous editors and commentators,—after all that has been urged or assumed in favour of the last [Page ii]edition, — as much more still remains to be done to bring his text back even to the state of correct­ness in which it was left by his first editors. A reader of hesitation and reflection will hear this with perfect calmness; he will be no stranger to the fluctuating state of former editions; he will have noticed the boldness and assurance, the legislative and dictatorial manner in which every succeeding editor has ushered hisself into the world; and will not easyly forget the con­fidence of each in assuring the public that no­thing further could possibly be done to his author:—Is not this the language of Rowe, and Pope, and Theobald, and Warburton, and Hanmer, and Capell? And where are they now? Where even dr. Johnson and mr. Steevens may, in the course of a few revolving years, be sent to accompany them:—the re­gions of oblivion or disgrace.

The chief and fundamental business of an editor is carefully to collate the original and authentic editions of his author. It is other­wise impossible for him to be certain that he is giving the genuine text, because he does not know what that text is. There have been no less than eight professed editors of Shakspeare; and [Page iii]yet the old copies, of which we have heard so much, have never been collated by any one of them: no, not even either of the two first folios, books indifferently common, and quoted by every body. And yet, strange as it may seem, not one of the eight but has taken the credit of, or actually asserted, his having collated them. One may be well al­lowed to pass by the pretensions of those prior to dr. Johnson without particular notice; their falsehood is sufficiently apparent in the margin of the late edition. Surely, men who thus proudly expose and severely reprobate the crimes of their neighbours should effectually guard theirselves against similar accusations.

"I," says dr. Johnson, "collated such co­pies as I could procure, and wished for more 1:" "I collated ... all [the folios] at the beginning, but afterwards used only the first 2." He must be very hardy, indeed, that dares give a flat contradiction to such positive assertions as these from so respectable a cha­racter. But the cause of Shakspeare and truth obliges one to say that the learned writer is certainly mistaken. The text of his own edi­tion, [Page iv]the notes of mr. Steevens, and, in some respect, the remarks in the following sheets, will prove that he never collated any one of the folios, —no not for a single play,— or at least that of his collations he has made little or no use. That he picked out a reading here and there from the old editions, is true: all his predecessors did the same: but this is not colla­tion. So much for dr. Johnson.

With regard to the last edition, mr. Steevens explicitly tells us that "it has been constantly compared with the most authentic copies, whe­ther collation was absolutely necessary to the sense, or not 3." "Would not any one, from this declaration," to use the ingenious critics own words, "suppose that he had at least compared the folios with each other 4?" But he has been deceived, no doubt, by the person employed in this laborious but necessary work. What an abuse of that confidence and credit which the public naturally place in an editor of rank and character, to tell them, that "by a diligent collation of all the old copies hi­therto discovered, and the judicious restoration [Page v]of ancient readings, the text of this author seems now finally settled 5!" To what bet­ter cause can we ascribe such unfounded as­sertions than to indolence and temerity? since, had the ingenious writer compared the old and present editions through a single play, he must necessaryly have perceived, that all the old copies had NOT been diligently collated, that ancient readings had NOT been judiciously re­stored, and that the text is no more finally settled at present than it was in the time of Theobald, Hanmer, and Warburton: nay, that it is, at large, in the same state of inac­curacy and corruption in which it was left by mr. Rowe.

These, it may be objected, are merely nega­tive and unproved assertions. It is very true. And they who do not think them confirmed in the course of the following pages, and will not give theirselves the trouble to investigate their truth, are at liberty to disbelieve them. To publish the various readings of the old edi­tions would be a busyness of some labour, and little utility.

[Page vi] As to the notes and conjectures here offered to the public, very little need be said. Shak­speare is the God of the writers idolatry, and should any one of these remarks be thought pertinent or useful in the opinion of a single individual who, like him, admires the effu­sions of this darling child of nature and fancy, whom, age cannot wither, and whose infinite variety custom cannot stale, it will be a suffi­cient gratification to him for the pains be­stowed in drawing them up. And if there should be a future edition of this favourite, this inimitable author, the writer is not with­out vanity to hope that the following sheets may stimulate the editors care and attention to give his text with integrity, judgement, and cor­rectness, —

— a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd;

and, which must of consequence follow, to re­duce the number of exuberant and impertinent notes 6.

The freedom with which every editor has treated his predecessors precludes the necessity [Page vii]of an apology for the liberties taken in the en­suing pages, with the sentiments of some of our most eminent literary characters. The su­periority of a commentators rank, however, does not intitle his blunders to respect. It were to be wished that dr. Johnson had shewn somewhat less partiality to pride of place; for, though he professes to have treated his prede­cessors with candour, Theobald, the best of Shakspeares editors, experiences as much scur­rility and injustice at his hands, as Hanmer and Warburton, the worst of them, do defe­rence and respect. For this, however, the learned critic might have his private reasons, which, as they could scarcely have justifyed his conduct, he did right to conceal.

To controvert the opinions, or disprove the assertions of mr. Steevens, dr. Farmer and mr. Tyrwhitt, men no less remarkable for their learning and genius than for their obliging dispositions and amiable manners, has been a painful and odious task. But whereever the writer has been under the necessity of differing from any of these gentlemen either in point of opinion or in point of fact, he will not be [Page viii]found to have expressed hisself in a manner inconsistent with a due sense of obligations and the profoundest respect. Such, at least, was his intention, such has been his endeavour, and such is his hope.


  • P. 17. l. 13. for might read might have.
  • P. 28. l. 9. dele it.
  • P. 39. l. 15. for wyffyves read wyffves.
  • P. 62. l. 11. for is, not as—read is not, as—
  • P. 128. l. 14. for latte read latter.
  • P. 145. l. 14. for the read due.
  • P. 145. l. 15. for due read the.
  • P. 221. l. 26. dele and apologise for.




p. 199.

The slightest alteration in the name of this great writer is a circumstance of so much importance to the public, that, although the editors may not have been too hasty in preferring SHAKSPEARE to SHAKESPEARE, it might be wished that a more decisive and less equivocal au­thority than his WILL had been produced to justify and enforce the change. This will, it should seem, the poet made in his last sickness, when he appears to have been so incapable of paying that attention to the writing of his name which a man in health usually does, that he has actually subscribed it two different ways: SHAKSPERE, and SHAKSPEARE. So that we are still uncertain which mode to adopt. How negligent, therefor, have the editors been, and how much are they to be blamed, for not procuring better and more positive evidence, if it were to be come at [...] [Page 2]it certainly was! Mr. Garrick, as they must have known, though they did not think it necessary to notice the fact, had then in his possession a lease or mortgage from Shakspeare of a house in Blackfriars, subscribed (as we learn from mr. Colmans preface to Beaumont and Fletcher) with his own hand, WM. SHAKSPEARE; which, very luckyly, confirms the alteration made, with less authority, by the present editors. This deed was discovered among some old writings by mr. Wallis, of Norfolk-street, who presented it to mr. Garrick, in the possession of whose widow it, most probably, still re­mains. Mr. Colman likewise informs us, that the name is, in the poets own county, pronounced with the first a short 1, and, in the register of Stratford church, uniformly entered SHAKSPERE.

p. [294].

One Hamlet (or Hamnet) Sadler, being a witness to, and mentioned in Shakspeares will, mr. Malone takes it for granted that he acquired this name from the testators tragedy of Ham­let; and thence infers, at least gives it as one reason, that the play must have been written in 1596; that he might be of what the critic thinks a competent age for a witness. In fact, however, the name of Hamlet was in common use long before Shakspeare was able to write a line; so that the gentle­mans presumption must, in this instance, necessaryly fall to the ground.

"Here under lyeth buried Eleanor Wife of HAMLET Clarke. She dyed on Sunday the 14th of January 1626. [Page 3]After they had been married 33 years and about two months." Stows Survey, by Strype. I. iii. 39.

p. [307].

Whenever the Merry Wives of Windsor may have been writt­en, it is certain, as well from the enquirers quotations and remarks, as from the play its self, that the time of action is in the reign of king Henry the fourth. But "if it should be placed," says he, "as dr. Johnson observes it should be read, between the Second part of K. Henry IV. and Henry V." (where, however, it cannot be introduced without the most flagrant impropriety) "it must be remembered that mrs. Quickly, who is half-bawd, half-hostess in K. Henry IV. is, in the Merry Wives of Windsor, Dr. Caius's housekeeper, and makes a decent appearance; and in K. Henry V. is Pistols wife, and dies in an hospital; a progression that is not very natural." It is strange enough that the critic should not perceive that Dr. Caiuses housekeeper and the land­lady of the Boars-head are totally distinct characters; and have not, if we except their name, sex, sentiments, and loquacity, a single circumstance in common between them. Shakspeare could have been at no loss for one of the same name and family in any town in England.


p. 6.


—If you can command these elements to silence, ... we will not handle a rope more.

This is a very early, though not the most favourable, spe­cimen of the integrity and correctness of the present text Both the folios read—"we will not hand a rope more;" [Page 4]which is evidently right; that being the proper sea-term in use at this day.

p. 10.

More to know
Did never meddle with my thoughts.

To meddle, says mr. Steevens, in this instance, signifies to mingle. Hence, adds he, the substantive medley. But it should rather mean to interfere, to trouble, to busy its self, as still used in the North: e. g. Don't meddle with me: i. e. Let me alone; Don't molest me. Medley can scarce be formed of meddle: it is, most likely, a corruption of the French word, mesleé.

p. 13.

—being transported,
And wrapp'd in secret studies.

And could this bald and threadbare phrase have passed the examination of judicial collaters and correctors of Shak­speares text? Would not rapt have been a fair and proba­ble conjecture, even if it had not been, as it is, the reading of the old editions? And could it, possibly, have escaped the observation of any person who had made a constant compa­rison with the most authentic copies?

p. 28.

Shall, for that vast of night that they may work,
All exercise on thee.

Spirits, perhaps, in the shape of urchins, or hedge-hogs; which as Caliban elsewhere complains, would sometimes

Lie tumbling in 'his' bare-foot way, and mount
Their prickles at 'his' foot fall.

[Page 5]In the Merry Wives of Windsor, however, it seems to imply a spirit or fairy of a peculiar appearance.

Nan Page my daughter, and my little son,
And three or four more of their growth, we'll dress
Like urchins, ouphes, and fairies, green and white,
With rounds of waxen tapers on their heads,
And rattles in their bands.

p. 30.

—when thou didst not, savage,
Know thy own meaning, but wouldst gabble like
A thing more brutish.

More brutish than what? The old edition reads—"a thing most brutish;" and so should this; as the quotation to dr. Warburtons note might have led the editors to suspect.

p. 38.

Make not too rash a trial of him, for
He's gentle and not fearful.

That is: Do not rashly determine to treat him with seve­rity: he is mild and harmless, and not in the least terrible or dangerous.

p. 47.


You are gentlemen of brave metal.

What metal? Brass or copper? Read mettle.

p. 59.


—If I can recover him and keep him tame, I will not take too much for him; he shall pay for him that hath him, and that soundly.

Too much, says mr. Steevens, means, any sum, ever so much. But this can hardly be right. Stephano evidently proposes to sell his monster for a good round price; which it would have been rather difficult for him to do, if he were deter­mined [Page 6]not to take any sum, ever so much, for it. He means that he could not rate his purchase too high:—Let me, says he, get ever so much for him, it shall not be more than enough.

p. 64.


Nor scrape trencher.

The old copy, mr. Steevens observes, reads trenchering: and one might naturally have expected a reason why this did not, as the word is, certainly, not so very improper. Housing is one of the same kind. Rightly, trencheren, housen; trenchers, houses. The participle beholden is, by a similar mistake, every where, in the old editions, beholding.

p. 74.

S [...].

Lead monster; we'll follow.—I would, I could see this laborer: he lays it on.


Wilt come? I'll follow, Stephano.

Is it not evident that the words Wilt come should be the last of the preceding speech?


p. 139.

Oh, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day;
Which now shews all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away!

Resembleth, mr. Tyrwhitt says, is here used as a quadri­syllable, as if it was written resembeleth. And in support of this assertion he instances the two following lines: the one from the Comedy of Errors, the other from As you like it:

And these two Dromios, one in semblance.
The parts and graces of the wrestler.

"And it should be observed," continues he, "that Shake­speare takes the same liberty with many other words, in [Page 7]which l or r are [is] subjoined to another consonant. See Com. of Errors: ‘"These are the parents to these children."’

Mr. Steevens, in a note immediately preceding mr. Tyrwhitts, has observed, that when a word was not long enough to complete the measure, our early writers occasio­nally extended it. Thus, says he, Spenser in his Faery Queen: ‘"Formerly grounded, and fast setteled."’ Again:

"The while sweet Zephirus loud whisteled,
"His treble, a strange kind of harmony;
"Which Guyon's senses softly tickeled," &c.

From this practice, he supposes, the author wrote resem­beleth, which, though it affords no jingle, completes the verse. "The old ballad of Titus Andronicus," adds he, "is written in this measure, where the second and fourth lines only rhime." Whether this be a fact or not "let the forest judge." The ballad is printed by Percy, and begins thus: (the stanza being the same throughout:)

You noble minds, and famous martiall wights,
That in defence of native country fights,
Give eare to me that ten yeeres fought for Rome,
Yet reapt disgrace at my returning home.

There is much greater and more important matter i [...] these observations than either of the ingenious commenta­tors was aware of. Neither Shakspeare nor Spenser ap­pears, from the above instances, at least, to have taken the smallest liberty in extending his words: neither has the in­cident of l or r being subjoined to another consonant any thing to do in the matter. But that great authors and great critics should not be better acquainted with the orthography and grammatical structure of their native tongue, is a circum­stance which, if not to be wondered at, is, surely, very much [Page 8]to be regretted. The truth is, that every verb in the English lan­guage gains an additional syllable by its termination in est, eth, ed, ing, or (when formed into a substantive) in er: and the above words, when rightly printed, are not onely unexception­able, but most just. Thus, resemble makes resemble-eth; wrestle, wrestle-er; and settle, whistle, tickle, make settle-ed, whistle-ed; tickle-ed.

Semblance, indeed, cannot properly be written as three syllables; neither, perhaps, is it altogether necessary to pronounce it so. Childeren, however, would be certainly right.

Another instance of this sort occurs in K. John: ‘That were embatteled and rank'd in Kent:’ which should now be written embattleed; though the verb was, probably enough, in Shakspeares time, usually spelled embattel.

Again, in Butlers panegyric on sir John Denham:

No poet jeer'd for scribbling amiss,
With verses forty times more lewd than his.

Here scribbling should be printed scribbleing: the metre evidently requiring three syllables, which are necessaryly articulated in the pronunciation.

These ideas, had they been more germane to the object of the present sheets, or more likely to experience a favora­ble reception, might have been much expanded and further pursued; but, indeed, our orthographical system is so tho­roughly corrupted, and the principles and formation of the language are, even by those who have professedly treated the subject 2, so little investigated or understood, that a writer, hardy enough to attempt a reform, will naturally expect to find many of his clearest axioms considered as the offspring of singularity, affectation, and caprice.

p. 149.


—I am the dog:—no, the dog is himself, and I am the dog,—oh, the dog is me, and I am myself; ay, so, so.

This passage, dr. Johnson very gravely remarks, is much confused, and of confusion, says he, the present reading makes no end. There is not, however, the least room for altera­tion; Shakspeare has evidently intended to make honest Launce puzzle and confound hisself in the arrangement of his dramatis personae; and, it should seem, he has tolerably well succeeded.

A similar thought, mr. Steevens observes, occurs in a play of an elder date than this: A Christian turn'd Turk, 1612. The Two Gentlemen of Verona is mentioned by Meres in 1598; and, in the opinion of mr. Malone, "bears strong internal marks of an early composition." He therefor refers it to the year 1593. Surely then the play quoted by mr. Steevens can hardly be supposed to be of an elder date.



Now come I to my mother;—oh that she could speak now like a wood woman!

Mr. Steevens was not certain that he understood this pas­sage; and, indeed, the contrary does not appear by his expla­nation of it. Now, says Launce, I come to my mother (i. e. to the old shoe with the hole in it, which he has just told us was to represent her); oh, that she (i. e. the old shoe) could now speak like a wood woman! that is, like a woman craz'd, mad, out of her senses, with grief for my departure. And where's the difficulty of this?

p. 159.


Is it mine eye or Valentino's praise.

The word eye was supplyed by dr. Warburton, who says that in ALL the old editions, we find the line printed thus: It is mine, or Valentino's praise.

[Page 10] But this, to use his own "warm language 3," is a lye. ‘The line is so printed in NO old edition.’

The first folio reads: ‘It is mine or Valentines praise.’

The second: ‘Is it mine then or Valentineans praise?’

There is no quarto.

p. 165.

Out, out, Lucetta! that will be ill-favour'd.
Out, out, Lucetta! means no more than fie, fie!

p. 187.

3. Out. Know then, that some of us are gentlemen,
Such as the fury of ungovern'd youth
Thrust from the company of awful men.

That is, says dr. Johnson, reverend, worshipful, such as magistrates, &c. Sir John Hawkins proposes lawful, which mr. Steevens and mr. Tyrwhitt seem half-inclined to admit. But awful men is certainly right; and means men well­governed, observant of law and authority; full of, or subject to awe. In the same kind of sense as we use fearful.

p. 188.

3 Out. Myself was from Verona banished,
For practising to steal away a lady,
An heir, and niece ally'd unto the duke.

Niece mr. Theobald altered to near: as the poet he thought, "would never have expressed himself so stupidly, as to tell us, this lady was the duke's niece and allied to him." And, indeed, if he had done so, the remark and alteration might have been just: but he does not say she was the dukes niece, any more than he does that she was his [Page 11]heir. She was the niece and heir of some body else, and a distant relation of the duke.

p. 194.

I am very loath to be your idol, sir;
But since your falshood, shall become you well
To worship shadows, and adore false shapes,
Send to me in the morning, and I'll send it.

Dr. Johnson says that this is hardly sense. He might have said more. It is nonsense. We might, he thinks, read thus: ‘But since you're false, it shall become you well.’

Mr. Tyrwhitt, however, will have no alteration: he sup­poses the word it to be understood: i. e. But, since your falsehood, it shall become you well, &c. Or, that To worship shadows, &c. is the nominative case to shall be­come.

How far any of these opposite conjectures would rectify or elucidate the text, it is not now proposed to examine, as the omission of a single comma will restore sense to the whole passage.

I am very loth, says Silvia, to be your idol; but, since your falsehood to your friend and mistress shall well be­come you to worship shadows and adore false shapes (i. e. will be properly employed in so doing), send to me, and you shall have my picture.


By my hallidom, I was fast sleep.
i. e. By my holydame; our lady.

p. 199.


It seems you lov'd not her to leave her taken.

Protheus, says dr. Johnson, does not properly leave his ladys token, he gives it away: he, therefor, proposes a [Page 12]different reading. But what puerile quibbling this is! To leave is to quit, abandon, forsake, part with, &c. To leave her taken, is, properly, to give it away.



The council shall know this.


'Twere better for you, if 'twere known in council; you'll be laughed at.

Dr. Johnson considers this as a broken and abrupt speech, and alters the passage accordingly. Mr. Steevens says, the modern editors read—if 'twere not known in council; and believes Falstaff quibbles between council and counsel (secrecy). But the present reading is just; neither is there any such con­ceit in the speech, which is quite in Falstaffs insolent, sneering manner. It would be much better for you, indeed, says he, to have it known in the council, where you would onely be laugh'd at!

p. 230.


Two Edward shovel-boards, that cost me two shillings and two-pence a-piece.

"Edward shovel-boards," dr. Farmer thinks, "were the broad s [...]illings of Edw. VI." But why Edward the Sixths shillings for the shovel boards of Henry the Fourths time? Can it be imagined, that these shillings, in Shakspeares time, not fifty years after their coinage, and when they were in com­mon circulation, could be possibly ever sold for two and two-pence? It may likewise be doubted, if Edward the Sixths shillings ever were, or, indeed, could be, used at sho [...]el board, as they appear much too light for that diversion. M [...]ster Slenders "Edward shovel-boards" have undoubtedly been broad shillings of Edward the Third.



I combat challenge of this latten bilbo.

One could well wish that the greater part of the long notes on this passage had been omitted. Latten is certainly tin. But whether the allusion be to Slenders softness, rather than to his thinness, is not quite so clear.

p. 244.


Hold, firrah, bear you these letters tightly.

This is nonsense. The quarto and second folio read rightly, for which tightly, the reading of the first folio, is onely a misprint.

p. 248.


No, forsooth: he hath but a little wee face.

Wee, says mr. Steevens, in the northern dialect, signi­fies very little. But, though he is so near the true meaning, he hints that on the authority of the quarto, 1619, we might be led to read whey face. Little wee, however, is certainly the right reading; it implies something extremely diminutive; and is a very common vulgar idiom in the North. Wee, alone, has only the signification of little. Thus Cleveland: ‘A Yorkshire wee bit, longer than a mile.’ The proverb is, A mile and a wee bit; i. e. about a league and a half.

p. 250.


We shall all be shent.

i. e. (according to Mr. Steevens) scolded, roughly treated. The word has, indeed, a variety of significations in old au­thors, and these are two of them; but, in modern lan­guage, mrs. Quicklys exclamation would have been:—We shall be all murder'd, ruin'd, undone!

p. 261.


Hope is a curtail'd dog in some affairs.

The tail, says dr. Johnson, is counted necessary to the agility of a grey-hound; and one method, he observes, of disqualifying a dog, according to the forest-laws, is [was] to cut his tail, and make him a curtail. A curtail-dog, adds mr. Steevens, was the dog of an unqualifyed person, whose tail, by the laws of the forest, was cut off.

But it does not appear that there either is, or could be any such regulation in the Forest-laws; as greyhounds, which alone would be disqualifyed by excauditation, could never have been the objects of laws made solely for the pre­servation of the kings deer. By those modern forest-laws, however, the acts of parliament for the preservation (i. e. destruction) of the Game, as expounded by that learned and respectable body ycleped Justices of the Peace; an unqua­lifyed person is allowed to keep a curtailed greyhound, without incurring the penalties of the aforesaid statutes, in which it is difficult to say whether Justice or Humanity be most apparent. A curtail dog, simply, is one of that inferior species of those animals, now called curs, from the prevailing usage of cutting their tails. A piece of wanton barbarity which (though, by no means, singular, even in this country) can onely be perpetrated by unfeeling wretches who seem to enjoy no more reason than is just sufficient to plunge them into a more degraded and brutal state than that of the poor animal they so inhumanly mangle.

p. 279.


But Mrs. Page would desire you to send her your little page, of all loves.

This, which, mr. Steevens thinks, signifies no more than by all means, is an expression of kindness, and an earnest de­sire [Page 15]that the person would comply with the request out of affection and regard.

p. 310.


—I see what thou wert, if Fortune thy foe were not.

He alludes to a very old, and formerly very popular song, beginning: ‘Fortune, my foe, why dost thou frown on me?’

It is, more than once, mentioned by Beaumont and Fletcher, and from a passage in The Rump or Mirrour of the Times, an old comedy by John Tatham, it should seem to have been a common dance tune; which may serve to shew that the old dances were much more grave and solemn than those now in use, the tune being a very slow movement; as the reader will immediately recollect when he is informed that it is the identical air, now known by the song of Death and the Lady, to which the metrical lamentations of extraordinary criminals have been usually chanted for upwards of these two hundred years.

p. 335.

Mrs. Ford.

—It is my maids aunt of Brentford


A witch, a quean &c.—she works by charms &c.

Concerning some old woman of Brentford, says mr. Steevens, there are several ballads; among the rest, Julian of Brentfords last will and testament, 1599. The learned commentator has in this assertion, perhaps, been misled by the vague ex­pression of the stationers book. Iyl of breyntfords testament, to which he seems to allude, was written by Robert, and printed by William Copland, long before 1599. But this, the only publication, it is believed, concerning the above lady at present known, is certainly no ballad.

p. 347.


May I be so bold to say so, sir?


Ay, sir Tike; like who more bold.

"In the first edition the latter speech stands: I Tike, who more holde.—And should plainly be read here, Ay sir Tike, &c. FARMER."

The word recommended by this ingenious critic is indeed inserted; but, doubtless, by the printers oversight, the cor­rupt one, which it was intended to supplant, has been likewise continued.

p. 363.


—But, stay; I smell a man of middle earth.

Spirits, says dr. Johnson, are supposed to inhabit the ethe­real regions, and fairies to dwell underground, men therefor are in a middle station. Yes; but to make the explanation consistent, we must suppose spirits to inhabit a higher earth, and fairies a lower; otherwise the station of man cannot, with respect to them, be called middle earth. The truth is, that the phrase, which is a very common one, signifies nei­ther more nor less than the earth, or world, from its imagi­nary situation in the midst or middle of the Ptolemaic sys­tem, and has not the least reference to either spirits or fairies.



p. 16.

Enter Clown.

As this is the first clown who makes his appearance in the plays of our author, mr. Steevens thought it not amiss, from a passage in Tarltons News out of Pur­gatory, [Page 17]to point out one of the ancient dresses appro­priated to the character. ‘— I saw one actired in russet, with a buttoned cap on his head, a great bag by his side and a strong bat in his hand; so artificially attired for a clowne, as I began to call Tarlton's wonted shape to re­membrance.’

This may, probably enough, have been the dress ap­propriated to such a character as the clown or fool in As you like it, All's Well that Ends Well, Twelfth Night, and King Lear; but the clown of this play is a different personage, the tapster to a bawdy-house, and resembles the above cha­racter no more than Launce, Speed, Costard, or Launclot Gobbo, the note and quotation, therefor, which might had their use elsewhere, are here certainly misplaced.

p. 20.

—Upon a true contract,
I got possession of Juliettas bed;
You know the lady; &c.

This speech, as mr. Steevens well observes, is too inde­licate to be spoken concerning Juliet, before her face; for she appears to be brought in with the rest, though she has nothing to say. The clown points her out as they enter; and yet, from Claudios telling Lucio that he knows the lady, &c. one would think, he says, she was not meant to have made her personal appearance upon the stage.

That Julietta enters at the same time with Claudio;— that she is not present during his conversation with Lucio; —and that she is afterwards in the custody of the pro­vost;—are evident and certain. The little seeming impro­priety there is will be entirely removed by supposing, that, when Claudio stops to speak to Lucio, the provosts officers depart with Julietta.

p. 24.

We have strict statutes and most biting laws,
Which for these nineteen years we have let sleep.

It was fourteen years in all the editions prior to Theobald who made the alteration. The reason of which, he, in his note upon the place, says, will be obvious to him who recollects what the duke has said in a foregoing scene. But the duke had not before uttered a syllable about the matter; he must therefor mean Claudio, who mentions

—the enrolled penalties
Which have, like unscour'd armour, hung by the wall,
So long, that nineteen zodiacks have gone round,
And none of them been worn.

Theobald says, the author could not so disagree with him­self; and that it is necessary to make the two accounts corre­spond. But there is no reason to charge the author with incon­sistency, neither is it necessary that the two speakers should agree in their calculation. If it were, the dukes account should most certainly be preferred, as he was doubtless much better acquainted with the exact time of the disuse of those laws than Claudio can be reasonably sup­posed to have been. For, though he may not be too young a man to have a perfect recollection of the circumstance, (and it should rather appear he is) yet it must be observed that he is about to suffer by the revival of these very penalties, which, both his interest and inclination would naturally lead him to represent as much more obsolete than they ac­tually were. The old reading should, in all events, be re­stored.

p. 28.


Sir, make me not your story.

i. e. do not make a jest of me. Dr. Johnson: do not by deceiving me, make me subject for a tale. Mr. Steevens: do [Page 19]not divert yourself with me as you would with a story, do not make me the subject of your drama.

p. 40.


Which is the wiser here? Justice or iniquity?

These, says dr. Johnson, were, I suppose, two per­sonages well known to the audience by their frequent ap­pearance in the old moralities. The words, therefor, con­tinues he, at that time produced a combination of ideas, which they have now lost.

Justice or iniquity, i. e. the constable or the fool. Escalus calls the latter iniquity in allusion to the old Vice, a neces­sary character, it is said, in the ancient moralities or dumb shews; and the Harlequin of the modern stage. Justice may have a similar allusion to his supposed antagonist, into whose hands, after a variety of elusions, he was always made to fall.

p. 45.

Enter Lucio and Isabella.

Save your honour!


Stay yet awhile—[To Isab.] you are welcome: what's your will?

It is not clear, dr. Johnson thinks, why the provost is bidden to stay, nor when he goes out.

The entrance of Lucio and Isabella should not, perhaps, be made till after Angelos speech to the provost, who had only announced a lady, and seems to be detained as a wit­ness to the purity of the deputys conversation with her. His exit may be fixed with that of Lucio and Isabella. He cannot remain longer, and there is no reason to think he departs before.

Stay yet a while.] The old copies, which dr. Johnson pretends to have collated, read Stay a little while.

p. 51.

[Aside.] She speaks, and 'tis
Such sense, that my sense breeds with it.

That is, says dr. Johnson, new thoughts are stirring in my mind, new conceptions are hatched in my imagination. So, adds he, we say to brood over thought. But can this be right? Does not the deputy plainly mean, that her wis­dom raised his desires?

p. 66.

As these black masks
Proclaim an enshield beauty ten times louder
Than beauty could displayed.

These masks, in mr. Tyrwhitts opinion, mean the masks of the audience; an indecorum, he thinks, of which Shakspeare would hardly have been guilty to flatter a com­mon audience; he therefor concludes that the play may have been written to be acted at court.

The remark is ingenious, but not decisive. It is hardly generous or candid to make the author absurd, when his language or sentiment will obviously bear a different and rational interpretation. The idea in Angelos speech might be easyly communicated by the mask which Isabella held in her hand. And these black masks will, in that case, onely be such masks as these, or this kind of masks. Which doubtless is Shakspeares meaning. Enshield is certainly put by contraction for enshielded, and not by corruption for in­she [...]'d, as mr. Tyrwhitt would suppose.

p. 88.


—And here, by this, is your brother saved,—and the corrupt deputy sealed.

To sca [...]e is certainly to reach (as dr. Johnson explains it), as well as to disperse or spread abroad, and hence its appli­cation [Page 21]to a routed army, which is scattered over the field: further than this it seems nothing to the purpose of mr. Steevenses note. The dukes meaning appears to be, either, that Angelo would be over-reached, as a town is by the scalade; or, that his true character would be spread or lay'd open, so that his vileness would become evident. Dr. Warburtion thinks it is weighed; a meaning which dr. John­son affixes to the word in another place: Scaling his present bearing with his past. Coriolanus.

p. 89.


I will presently go to St. Lukes; there at the moated grange resides this Mariana.

A grange does not properly mean any solitary farm house, as mr. Steevens explains it. It implies some one particular house, immediately inferior in rank to a hall, situated at a small distance from the town or village from which it takes its name; as Hornby-grange, Blackwell-grange; and is, in the neighbourhood, simply called the Grange. Originally, perhaps, these buildings were the lords granary or store­house, and the residence of his chief bailiff. (Grange, Fr. Granagium, Lat.) This note may likewise serve to correct mr. Wartons misinterpretation of the word in vol. x. p. 436.

p. 100.


Double and treble admonition, and still forfeit in the same kind? this would make Mercy swear, and play the tyrant.

Certainly right. We still say to swear like an em­peror; and, from some old book, of which the writer unfortunately neglected to copy the title, he has noted, to swear like a tyrant. To swear like a termagant is quoted [Page 22]elsewhere. Dr. Warburton would read mercy swerve, and dr. Farmer severe. A similar passage occurs in As you like it.

Patience herself would startle at this letter,
And play the swaggerer.

p. 101.

I am a brother
Of gracious order, lately come from the see,
In special business from his holiness.

The folio, as dr. Johnson observes, reads, from the sea. And this seems the more probable reading. For, without it could be proved, that the see was used by way of emi­nence and distinction for the papal court, one may be satis­fyed that Shakspeare intended to represent the friar as having come from his Holyness to Vienna by sea; and so, no doubt, Shakspeare might imagine he did. If it were not from the mention, which occurs, of Poland and Russia, one might suppose the Vienna of this play to be not the ca­pital of Austria, but rather Vienna (now Vienne) in Dau­phiné: which was anciently a city of great fame, go­verned by a duke.

p. 108.

—volumes of report
Run with these false and most contrarious quests.

That is, says dr. Johnson, reports running counter to each other. But false and contrarious quests, in this place, rather mean lying and contradictory messengers, with whom run volumes of report. An explanation which the line quoted by mr. Steevens will serve to confirm.

p. 111.


A bawd, Sir? fie upon him, he will discredit our mi [...]tery.

[Page 23] "I think it just worth while to observe," says dr. Warburton, "that the word mystery, when used to signify a trade or manual profession, should be spelt [spelled] with an i, and not a y, because it comes not from the Greek [...], but from the French mestier."

If it were worth the learned prelates while to make this observation, it may be worth the while of an inferior per­son to contradict it. For, ingenious as the distinction may seem, and implicitly as it has been adopted, there is not the smallest authority for it, unless the great critics dogma­tical assertion may be termed so. He doubtless thought that the word mystery was too sublime and sacred to be mixed with the profane and vulgar ideas of base mechanicals; and that such vile objects as trades and manual professions ought not to participate in the use of a name set apart for the inexpli­cable solemnities of Christianity. But the truth is, that the word, in its highest or lowest acceptation, means no more or less than the secret or arcana of any CRAFT, civil or religious; in faith or in works; and whether we are talking of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, or the mystery of the Barber-Surgeons, we mean one and the same word, from mystere, Fr. (of which mestier is only a corruption) myste­rium, Lat. [...], Gr. Mystery should, therefor, be re­stored to the text; whence it was the more unwarrantably ejected, even according to the right reverend fathers hypo­thesis, as it there signifies neither trade nor manual profes­sion.

p. 122.


—Master Forthright the tilter.

The old copy, says dr. Johnson, reads Forthlight, but this he conjectured should be Forthright, alluding to the line in which the thrust is made. And, as he had it in [Page 24]his power to alter the text,—so the text was altered. Forth­light may, nevertheless, be the true reading; certainly, it should not have been so hastyly displaced. It, probably enough, contains an allusion to the fencers threat of making the light shine through his antagonist.

p. 123.


—What are you?


Your friends, fir; the hangman.

This should be, either—your friend, sir; the hangman; or —your friends, sir; the hangmen.

p. 124.

Unfit to live or die: oh, gravel heart!
After him fellows; bring him to the block.

The duke is wonderfully consistent: not three lines be­low he calls the prisoner; ‘A creature unprepar'd, unmeet for death;’ and says, that

— to transport him in the mind he is
Were damnable.

p. 130.

—But that her tender shame
Will not proclaim against her maiden loss,
How might she tongue me? Yet reason dares her? no:
For my authority bears a credent bulk,
That no particular scandal once can touch,
But it confounds the breather.

Though all the editors and commentators differ about the meaning of this passage, and even dr. Johnson is not ashamed to say that he has nothing to offer worth insertion, yet, surely, there is no such amazing difficulty in it. [Page 25]mr. Upton, and mr. Upton onely, has given the true and apparent sense. The following are his own words, which dr. Johnson, as he did not understand the passage, and, consequently, their value, has been pleased to muti­late: Were it not for her maiden modesty, how might the lady proclaim my guilt? Yet (you'll say) she has reason on her side, and that will make her dare to do it. I think not; for my au­thority is of such weight, &c.

p. 170.

—I'll limit thee this day,
To seek thy help by beneficial help.

Thus, indeed, the old editions; but we should certainly read life.

p. 199.

For slander lives upon succession;
For ever hous'd where't gets possession.

On consulting the first folio, says mr. Steevens, I found the second line had been lengthened out by the modern edi­tors, who read: ‘For ever hous'd where it once gets possession.’ I have therefore, adds he, referred it to its former measure.

If this ingenious gentleman had consulted the second folio he might have perceived that the line had not been length­ened, nor, indeed, touched, by the modern editors.

p. 203.

S. Ant.

Let love, being light be drowned if he sink.

The old editions read she. But "I know not," says mr. Steevens, "to whom the pronoun she can be referred. I have made no scruple to remove a letter from it." It would not, however, have been amiss, if the in­genious critic had been somewhat more scrupulous on the [Page 26]occasion: as there need be little doubt to whom the pronoun she can be referred. i. e. to Love (Venus). Thus, in the old ballad of The Spanish Lady:

I will spend my days in prayer,
Love and all her laws defy.


p. 218.

Tell me was he arrested on a band
S. Dro.
Not on a band but on a stronger thing.
A chain, a chain.

Band is here rightly preserved, but it is pleasant enough to mark the consistency of the editors, who make a merit of restoring it from bond, which, they observe, is in the old editions, and was formerly spelled band. The word porpentine appears throughout all the old copies, and in many contemporary writers; but this they have moder­nised to porcupine. The affirmative I, always used by Shak­speare and others, has been likewise changed to ay, and fre­quently to the injury of both sense and rime. A number of words in every play are in the same predicament. And even this identical word band is elsewhere turned into band. Happy Shakspeare!

A band, Mr. Steevens observes, is likewise a neckcloth; and on this circumstance, he believes, the humour of the passage turns. But the ingenious gentleman is un­der a double mistake. A band is not, nor ever was, a neck­cloth, though, certainly, an appendage to the neck. Nei­ther does the humour of the passage turn upon any such al­lusion; for there would be very little humour in it, if it [Page 27]did. Adriana means a written band, and Dromio quibbles upon a hempen one.

p. 223.


—Will you go with me? we'll mend our dinner here.

S. Dro.

Master, if you do expect spoon-meat, or bespeak a longer spoon.

Or, says Mr. Steevens, which modern editors have thrown out of the text, signifies before. But the passage is wrong pointed. And the or is a mistake for and. We should read thus:


—We'll mend our dinner here

S. Dro.

Master, if you do, expect spoon-meat, and bespeak a long spoon.

Mr. Steevenses remark does not seem much to the purpose.

p. 233.

— What doth ensue,
But moody and dull melancholy,
Kinsman to grim and comfortless despair
And at her heels, a hunge infectious troop,
Of pale distemperature, and foes to life?

Shakspeare, says dr. Warburton, could never make me­lancholy a male in one line, and a female in the next, he therefor boldly pronounces the line the foolish insertion of the first editors; as if such fools could write as well as Shak­speare.

Mr. Heath, in his fancyful way, proposes a different reading, while mr. Steevens is contented with ridiculing the preciseness and affectation of master Capell.

But, after all, the text is very clear and intelligible, and certainly right. Kinsman means no more than near relation. Many words are used by Shakspeare with much greater latitude.

p. 238.

Mistress, —
He cries for you, and vows, if he can take you,
To scorch your face, and to disfigure you.

Dr. Warburton would read scotch. But mr. Steevens defends the present reading (which is certainly the true one), and says that Antipholis would have punished her as he had punished the conjurer before. He had singed the con­jurers beard off: Mr. Steevens should have informed us how he it was to punish his wife in the same manner.

p. 242.

Oh! grief hath chang'd me, since you saw me last;
And careful hours, with times deformed hand,
Have written strange defeatures in my face.

Defeature, says dr. Johnson, is the privation of feature. The meaning, adds he, is, time hath cancelled my features. It is no uncommon thing to find the author and his com­mentator of different opinions; What says Aegeon? Why that Time had written defeatures in his face, i. e. given them to him. As to the commentators theirselves, it is so very rarely we meet them agreeing, that it is no wonder to find mr. Steevens explaining defeatures by un­doings, miscarriages, misfortunes, from defaire, Fr. So that the meaning, according to this ingenious gentleman, will be, Time hath written in my face strange undoings. But defeatures are certainly neither more nor less than features; as demerits are neither more nor less than merits. Time, says Aegeon, hath placed new and strange features in my face;—i. e. given it quite a different appearance; [...]no wonder therefor thou do'st not know me.


I am sure thou dost.
E. Dro.
Ay, sir?
But I am sure I do not; and whatsoever
A man denies you are now bound to believe him.

In the two old folios the passage stands, and rightly, thus:

Aegeon. I am sure thou dost.
E. Dro. I, sir?
But I am sure I do not, &c.

I is here—not the adverb, but—the personal pronoun.

One great excellence of modern commentators con­sists in the art of discovering neglected puns. It is some wonder therefor that this of Dromio should escape them. The reader will remember that Aegeon is actually in bonds.

p. 244.


Besides her urging of her wreck at sea.

This, mr. Steevens observes, is one of Shakspeares over­sights. The abbess has not so much as hinted at the ship­wreck. Perhaps, indeed, adds he, this and the next speech should change places.

That however would scarcely remove the difficulty: the next speech is Aegeons. Both it and the following one should precede the dukes; or there is, possibly, a line lost.

p. 266.


—Let him him be clap'd on the shoulder, and call'd Adam.

"Adam Bell," says dr. Johnson, "was a companion of Robin Hood, as may be seen in Robin Hoods garland; in which, if I do not mistake," adds he, "are these lines:

[Page 30]
"For he brought Adam Bell, and Clim of the clough,
"And William of Cloudeslee,
"To shoot with our forester for forty mark,
"And our forester beat them all three."

In answer to this it may be observed, 1. That Adam Bell was not a companion of Robin Hood; 2. That it can­not be seen in Robin Hoods garland; 3. That the lines quoted prove neither the one nor the other, as they do not relate to Robin Hood. It is peculiarly unfortunate that the leraned critic should be most mistaken where he is most confident.


p. 271.


I had rather be a canker in a hedge; than a rose in his grace.

A canker, dr. Johnson tells, is the canker-rose, dog-rose, cyn [...]b [...]sius, or hip. But the word canker should rather seem to be used here, as it is in various other places, for the worm which preys upon flowers; a metamorphosis suited to the ma [...]ignancy of the speakers disposition.

Thus in the Two Gentlemen of Verona:

— as in the sweetest bud
The eating-canker dwells

Again, in the same play:

— as the most forward bud
Is eaten by the canker, ere it blow.

"Mallet alias Malloch," in his beautyful ballad of Wil­liam and Margaret, has made a fine use of this idea.

[Page 31]
But love had, like the canker-worm,
Consum'd her early prime;
The rose grew pale, and left her cheek;—
She dy'd before her time.

It occurs likewise in the Midsummer Nights Dream: ‘Some to kill cankers in the musk-rose buds.’

Again, in the same play: ‘O me! you jugler! oh! you canker-blossom!

Upon which mr. Steevens observes, that canker blossom is not, in this place, the blossom of the canker or wild-rose, which our author alludes to in Much ado about Nothing, act I. sc. vi. [the present text] but a worm that preys on the leaves or buds of flowers, always beginning in the middle." And the ingenious critic is certainly right in his exposition of the words canker-blossom; but it may be safely affirmed that if they mean not the wild-rose, canker, neither in the text, nor any where else, does.

We meet with it again in the First Part of Hen. IV.

O that this good blossom could be kept from cankers.
And plant this thorn, this canker, Bolingbroke.

In this last passage it undoubtedy means what mr. Stee­vens explains it to be; the wild-rose; which it does not in the following:

Hath not thy rose a canker, Somerset? 1 Hen. 6.

p. 293.

See you where Benedick hath hid himself?
O very well, my lord; the musick ended,
We'll fit the kid-fox with a pennyworth.

i. e. says dr. Grey, we'll be even with the fox now discovered.

So, adds he, the word kid, or kidde, signifies in Chaucer. [Page 32]To which mr. Steevens does not dissent; except by hinting that if any future editor should choose to read hid sox, he may observe that Hamlet has said—"Hide fox and all after."

A kid fox seems to be no more than a young fox, or cub.

p. 329.


Go, good partner, get you to Francis Seacoal, bid him bring his pen and inkhorn, &c.—here's that shall drive some of them to a non-com.

Master Seacoals name, in act III. sc. iii. is George. By non-com Dogberry means to say non-plus.

p. 345.


Masters, it is proved already that you are little better than false knaves, and it will go near to be thought so shortly; how answer you for yourselves?


Marry, sir, we say, we are none.


A marvellous witty fellow, I assure you; but I will go about with him. Come hither, sirrah; a word in your ear, sir; I say to you, it is thought you are salse knaves.


Sir, I say to you, we are none.


Well, stand aside.—'Fore God they are both in a tale; —have you writ down they are none?

"This is an admirable stroke of humour: Dogberry says of the prisoners that they are false knaves, and from that denial of the charge, which one in his wits could not but be supposed to make, he infers a communication of counsels, and records it in his examination as an evidence of their guilt." SIR J. HAWKINS.

It is with infinite reluctance that the writer finds hisself obliged to differ in opinion from the learned magistrate, who, from his having so long and so ably presided upon [Page 33]similar occasions, must, no doubt, be perfectly acquainted with the nature of a judicial process.

That there is infinite humour in the passage is very true; and that the ingenious commentator has not discovered it is equally so; the sentiments and conduct of master Dogberry being the direct reverse of what he supposes them to be. We clearly perceive that in this examination Dog­berry takes all the precaution possible to come at the truth; he charges them severally with being false knaves; he takes the utmost care that they shall have no communication of counsels, in order to concert a joint defence, by onely whispering to one, what he had before asked in the hearing of both; he is, therefore, astonished to find them both in a tale, and directs it to be recorded, as a proof of their innocence,—that they are no knaves:—because they had both told him so.

This is the more evident from the behaviour of the sex­ton; who, in mr. Steevenses opinion, and he seems per­fectly right, shews as much good sense on the occasion as any judge upon the bench could do, and who immediately tells Dogberry, that he goes not the way to examine, and that he must call the watch, &c.

If the learned annotator will amend his comment, by omitting the word guilt, and inserting the word innocence, it will (except as to the supposed inference of a communica­tion of counsels which should be likewise omitted or cor­rected) be a just and pertinent remark.

p. 349.

If such a one will smile and stroke his beard;
And, sorrow wag! cry; hem, when he should groan.

By the two full pages of note-work upon this passage there should seem to be some difficulty in it. Be it what it will, however, it is left just as it was found. Every [Page 34]editor and commentator has offered his proper lection, and therefor here's a new one to increase the number. ‘And, sorrow waggery, hem when he should groan.’ i. e. sorrow becoming waggery; or, converting sorrow into waggery, hem, &c.

Surely this is at least as good as—hallow wag, sorrow wage, sorrow gagge, sorrowing, sorry wag, &c. or even as the present text. The old editions unisormly read, ‘And sorrow, wagge, crie hem, &c. when he should groan.’

p. 366.

Bene. Question?

—why, an hour in clamour, &c.

i. e. says bishop Warburton, "what a question's there, or what a foolish question you ask." The learned prelate, one may easyly suppose, would not have hesitated to call a fine lady fool to her face: Benedick, it is to be hoped, had rather more politeness. The phrase occurs fre­quently in Shakspeare, and means no more than—you ask a question, or that is the question.

p. 367.

Song. Pardon goddess of the night,
Those that slew thy virgin knight,

Knight does not mean either follower or pupil, as dr. Johnson says it does. The lady being a virgin, and her name Hero, she is metonymically called one of Dianas knights; and what occasion was there for a note upon this?


p. 387.


The manner of it is, he was taken with the manner.


In what manner.


In manner and form following.

Dr. Warburtons note certainly proves the necessity of reading in the manner. With the manner, though undoubtedly the law phrase and often made use of, is mere nonsense.

p. 391.


Why, sadness is one and the self-same thing, dear imp.

This is spoken to his boy or page. Dr. Johnson ob­serves that Imp was anciently a term of dignity. Lord Crom­well, he says, in his last letter to Hen. VIII. prays for the imp his son. And what does that prove? The word literally means a graff, slip, scion or sucker: and, by metonymy, comes to be used for a boy or child. The imp his son is no more than his infant son. It is now set apart to signify young fiends; as, "the devil and his imps."

p. 397.


Fair weather after you.


Come, Jaquenetta away.

"Maid. Fair weather after you. Come Jaquenetta away.] Thus all the printed copies: but the editors have been guilty of much inadvertence. They make Jaquenetta and a maid enter; whereas Jaquenetta is the onely maid intended by the poet, and is committed to....Dull, to be the lodge in the park. This being the case, it is evi­dent to demonstration, that—Fair weather after you—must be spoken by Jaquenetta; and then that Dull says to her, [Page 36] Come, Jaquenetta, away, as I have regulated the text. THEOBALD."

Mr. Theobald has endeavoured here to dignify his own industry by a very slight performance. The folios ALL read as he reads, except that instead of naming the per­sons they give their characters, enter Clown, Constable, and Wench. JOHNSON."

There was no great occasion for this evidence to prove the last learned commentator very little acquainted with the editions of which he speaks with so much fami­liarity and confidence. The assertion in the note is un­true: NONE of the folios read as Theobald does: in the first of them the passage stands thus:


Fair weather after you!


[i. e Clown, Costard, not Constable.] Come Jaque­e tta away.

In the second and subsequent folios, thus:

Fair weather after you.
Come Jaquenetta away.

Mr. Theobald does not appear to have inspected the first folio: dr. Johnson has, evidently, looked neither into that nor into any of the rest.

p. 417.


My sweet ounce of man's flesh! my incony Jew!

Incony or kony, as dr. Warbarton says, in the North, signifies fine, delicate, as a kony thing, a fine thing. He would therefor read my incony jewel. But the truth is, that there is no such expression in the North as either kony. or incony. The word canny, which the people there use, and from which dr. Warburtons mistake may have arisen, bears a variety of significations, none of which is fine, de­licate, [Page 37]or applicable to a thing of value. Dr. Johnsons quotation by no means proves Jew to have been a word of endearment.

p. 444.


Trip and go, my sweet.

These words are certainly part of an old popular song. There is an ancient musical medley beginning Trip and go, hey!

p. 457.

My love, her mistress, is a gracious moon;
She an attending star, scarce seen a light.

Something like this is a stanza of Sir Henry Wotton, of which the poetical reader will forgive the insertion:

Ye stars, the train of night,
That poorly satisfy our eyes
More by your number than your light.
Ye common people of the skies,
What are ye when the sun shall rise?

The passage is certainly worth quoting, but one may venture to doubt whether the poetical reader will easyly pardon the insertion of it in the inaccurate and corrupted state in which the learned critic has been pleased to give it. For let us read what sir Henry hisself says?

You meaner beauties of the night,
That poorly satisfy our eyes,
More by your number than your light:
You common people of the skies,
What are ye when the moon shall rise?

p. 503.

Pageant of the Nine Worthies.] This sort of procession was the usual recreation of our ancestors at Christmas, and other festive seasons. Such things, being chiefly plotted and composed by ignorant people, were seldom com­mitted to writing, at least with the view of preservation, and are, of course, rarely discovered in the researches of even the most industrious antiquaries. And it is cer­tain that nothing of the kind (except the speeches in this scene, which were intended to burlesque them) ever ap­peared in print. The curious reader will not, therefor, be displeased to see a genuine specimen of the poetry and manner of this rude and ancient drama from an original manuscript of Edward the Fourths time. (MSS. Tanner. 407.)

IX. Wurthy.
Ector de troye.
Thow achylles in bataly me slow
Of my wurthynes men speken J now.
And in romaunce often am J leyt
As conquerour gret thow J seyt.
Julius Cesar.
Thow my cenatoures me slow in collory
Fele londes by fore by conquest wan J.
In holy Chyrche ȝe mowen here & rede
Of my wurthynes and of my dede.
Aftyr yt slayn was golyas
By me the sawter than made was.
Judas macabeus.
Of my wurthynesse ȝyf ȝe wyll wete
Seche the byble for ther it is wrete.
The round tabyll J sette wt knyghtes strong
Ȝyt shall J come aȝen thow it be long.
With me dwellyd rouland olyvere
In all my Conquest fer and nere.
Godefrey de Bo­leyn.
[Page 39]
And J was Kyng of Jherusalem
The crowne of thorn J wan fro hem.

In another part of the same MS. are preserved different speeches, for three of these worthies, which have most pro­bably, belonged to a distinct pageant.

Lo Kyng Artor ful manly and ful wyse
Whan he slow gurnard & alle his cheff ches
ccc was slayne as J vnderstonde
And yet is he levand in a nother londe.
Charlys the cheeff of Romannys and emꝑor
Kyng of paynemnys and conquerour
iij. relekys he browte into frauns
for ihūs love sufferyd penanns
I am Kyng Davyd that in my lyff
LV maydenys & wyffyves J had at my wylle
And afterward whan golyas was styntyd of stryff
I made the sawter my mercy to fullfyll.

Sometimes, it should seem, that these things were in a more dramatic form (i. e. dialogue-wise); and, indeed, it is here that we must look for the true Origin of the English stage. Behold a champion, who gives a universal defiance: (MSS. Harl. 1197. very old.)

I ame a knight[t]e
And menes to fight
And armet well ame I
Lo here I stand
With swerd ine hand
My manhoud for to try.

[Page 40]The challenge is instantly accepted:

Thow marciall wite
That menes to fight
And sete vppon me so
Lo heare J stand
With swrd in hand
To dubbelle eurey bloue.

Here would necessaryly ensue a combat with the back­sword or cudgel, to the great entertainment, as well as in­struction of the applauding croud. Possibly it served to conclude the pageant instead of an epilogue, and not impro­perly. Such exhibitions, however rude and simple they may appear to the more refined taste of the present age, were admirably adapted to that warlike and manly spirit in our uncultivated ancestors, which procured them the glories of conquest abroad, and the blessings of sieedom at home.

p. 480.

They — are apparel'd thus,
Like Muscovites, or Russians.

"The settling commerce in Russia was, at that time, a matter that much ingrossed the concern and conversation of the publick. There had been several embassies employed thither on that occasion; and several tracts of the manners and state of that nation written: so that a mask of Mus­covites was as good an entertainment to the audience of that time, as a coronation has been since. WARBURTON."

All this may be very true, but the learned commentator might have discovered that a mask of Muscovites was no un­common recreation at court long before our authors time. In the first year of king Henry the eighth, at a banquet made for the foreign ambassadors in the parliament chamber at Westminster, "came the lorde Henry, Erle of W [...]ltshire, [Page 41]and the lorde Fitzwater, in twoo long gounes of yelowe satin, trauarsed with white satin, and in euery ben of white, was a bend of crimosen satin after the sashiō of Russia or Ruslande, with furred hattes of grey on their hedes, either of them hauyng an hatchet in their handes, and bootes with pykes turned vp." Hall. Hen. VIII. fo. 6, b. This extract may serve to convey an idea of the dress used, upon the present occasion, by the king and his lords, at the per­formance of the play.

p. 523.

Dr. Warburtons note upon the old Romances.] The learned prelate has received such a complete dressing, from the hand of a master, in the Supplement, that there is neither occasion nor opportunity for any further remark. At the foot of this page, however, there is a note, by the celebrated dr. Percy, which seems to deserve some little attention; and the more so, as it is countenanced by the very ingenious gentleman alluded to, who has either not been aware of its fallacy, or, from private motives, forborn to expose it.

Dr. Warburton," says this redoubted critic, "is quite mis­taken in deriving Oliver from (Palmerin de) Oliva, which is utterly incompatible with the genius of the Spanish lan­guage." So that, from his thus recurring to etymology, he clearly appears to be not a whit better acquainted with the history than dr. Warburton was. "The old ro­mance," continues he, "of which Oliver was the hero, is entitled in Spanish, "Historias de los nobles Cavalleros Oliveros de Castilla, y Artus de Algarbe, in fol. en Va­lladolid, 1501, in fol. en Sevilla, 1507;" and in French thus, "Histoire d'Olivier de Castille, & Aitus d'Algarbe son loyal compagnon, & de Heleine, Fille au Roy d'An­gleterre, [Page 42]&c. translatée du Latin, par Phil. Camus, in fol. Gothique."

From so much seeming knowlege, from the annotators great credit, and from his very confident assertions, who would be foreward to suspect his ignorance, or doubt his veracity? But it is even so; he knows no more of the history which he quotes with so much parade, than bishop Warburton knew of Amadis or Palmerin; with either of which the story of Oliver the Paladin has just as much con­nection as it has with the history of Oliver of Castile and Arthur of Algarbe. With respect to the above French and Spanish titles, they are literally transcribed from Fresnoy. And so much for dr. Percys acquaintance with old ro­mances.



p. 26.

A lovely boy, s [...]ol'n from an Indian king,
She never had so sweet a changeling.

Change [...]ing, says dr. Johnson, is commonly used for the child supposed to be left by the fairies, but here for the child taken away.

And it is here properly used, and in its common accepta­tion; that is, for the child got in exchange. Dr. Johnson will recollect that a Fairy is now speaking.

p. 30.

The wisest aunt telling the saddest tale,
Some time for three-foot stool mistaketh me.

[Page 43] Aunt, mr. Steevens says, is a procuress, and the wisest aunt, adds he, may mean the most sentimental bawd.

But this conjecture is much too wanton, and injurious to the word aunt, which, in this place at least, certainly means no other than an innocent old woman.

p. 35.


The human mortals want their winter here.

Shakspeare, says mr. Steevens, might have employed this epithet (human mortals), which, at first, appears re­dundant, to mark the difference between men and sairies. Fairies, adds he, were not human, but they were yet sub­ject to mortality. This however does not by any means appear to have been the case. Oberon, Titania, and Puck never dye; the inferior agents must necessaryly be supposed to enjoy the same privilege; and the ingenious commentator may rely upon it, that the oldest woman in England never heard of the death of a Fairy. Human mor­tals is, notwithstanding, evidently put in opposition to Fairies, who partook of a middle nature between men and spirits. Puck in a subsequent scene says, ‘Lord, what fools these mortals be.’

p. 68.

The shallowest thick-skin of that barren sort,
Who Pyramus presented in their sport,
Forsook his scene and enter'd in a brake:
When I did him at this advantage take,
An ass's nowl I fixed on his head;
Anon his Thisby must be answered,
And forth my minnock comes.

Minnock, dr. Johnson says, is the reading of the old quarto, and, he believes, right. Minnekin, adds he, now [Page 44] minx, is a nice trifling girl! The folio, according to mr. Steevens, reads mimmick; perhaps for mimick, a word more familiar than that exhibited by one of the 4tos, for the other reads minnick. After all minnock, mimmick, and minnick, are onely, perhaps, misprints for mommock, which comes nearly to the same letters, and signifies a huge misshapen thing; and is very properly applyed by a Fairy to a clumsy over-grown clown. Minnekin is evidently a cor­ruption of mannekin or manikin, properly mankin 4, a little man. Dr. Johnson is so very imperfectly acquainted with the nature and derivation of the English language (and, in that respect, his dictionary, how valuable soever it may be on account of the explanation and use of Eng­lish words, is beneath contempt; there being scarcely­ten words properly deduced in the whole work), that it is no wonder to find him making minnekin and minx the same word. But minnekin does not mean a nice trifling girl: and, though a substantive, is oftener used adjectively, than otherwise: so in Midas (not John Lylies): "My mi­nikin miss 5." The smallest sized pins are likewise called minnekin or minikin pins. So Jerry Sneak, citizen and pin-maker, in the Mayor of Garrat:—"as if I had been seeking for one of my own minikins 6." As mankin got changed into minnekin, a little man, so they formed minne­kiness a little woman, a girl; which has since, by corrup­tion, become minx. Thus Laddess (Ladess), from Lad, has, by a similar progress, become Lass.

p. 69.


And at our stamp here o'er and o'er one falls.

Dr. Johnson labours hard to prove this to be a vicious reading: "Fairies, says he, are never represented stamp­ing, [Page 45]or of a size that should give force to a stamp, nor could they have distinguished the stamps of such from those of their own companions." He, therefor, reads: ‘And at a stump here o'er and o'er one falls.’

To prove, however, that Fairies could stamp, mr. Stee­vens produces a passage from Olaus Wormius. He need not have gone so much out of his way: honest Reginald Scot could have informed him, that our "grandams maides were woont to set a boll of milke before 'Incubus' and his cousine Robin good-fellow, for grinding of malt or mustard, and sweeping the house at midnight: and....that he would chase exceedingly, if the maid or good-wife of the house, hauing compassion of his nakednes, laid anie clothes for him, beesides his messe of white bread and milke, which was his standing see. For in that case he faith; What haue we here? Hemton hamten, here will I neuer more tread nor stampen." Discouerie of witchcrast. 1584. p. 85.

p. 70.

If thou hast slain Lysander in his sleep,
Being o'er shoes in blood, plunge in the deep,
And kill me too.

"An allusion to the proverb, over shoes, over boots. JOHN­SON."

"Excellent i'faith! Why this is the best fooling after all!"

p. 78.

We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our neelds created both one flower.

All the old editions, it seems, read needles. But mr. Steevens has altered it to neelds, as, he says, "it was proba­bly written by Shakspeare."

[Page 46] The learned critic has made the same innovation in another place, and quoted this very passage, as genuine, to justify the change: and yet, where the word candlesticks was a syllable too much, and the old editions read cansticks, which rendered the measure perfect, and was supported by the authority of many ancient authors, he has continued candlesticks in the text!

Ho, ho, ho! coward, why comest thon not?

It may be remarked that this exclamation is peculiar to Puck. In the old song, printed by Peck, in which he re­lates all his gambols, he concludes every verse with Ho, ho, ho! He here forgets his assumed character.

p. 100.

So me thinks:
And I have found Demetrius like a jewel
Mine own, and not mine own.

Instead of jewel, dr. Warburton would read gemel, a twin; which dr. Johnson calls an ingenious emendation that de­serves to be true. But dr. Warburton is in evident confu­sion about the passage. He makes Helena compare her lover to something which had the property of appearing one thing when it was another: not the property sure, he cries, of a jewel! In reality, however, Helena makes no such compari­son, and the learned critic wilfully misstates her words to, found his ingenious emendation (as every foolish and im­pertinent proposal is, by the courtesy of editors, intitled): She says that she has found Demetrius, as a person finds a jewel, or thing of great value, in which his property is so precarious as to make it uncertain whether it belongs to him or not.

p. 101.


—I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream: —and I will sing it in the latter end of a play, before the duke: Peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall sing it at her death.

Instead of a play, we should certainly read the play (i. e. that which they were about to perform). At her death is very judiciously corrected by mr. Theobald to after death; and so should have been here printed.

p. 105.


— Call Philostrate.

In the folio, 1623, says mr. Steevens, it is—Call Egeus, and all the speeches spoken by Philostrate, are there given to that character. If the ingenious commentator will take the trouble to look into either folio, at the speech be­ginning,

No, my noble lord,
It is not for you,

he will find that all the speeches here spoken by Philostrate are not there given to Egeus.

p. 107. n.

Mr. Steevens is, certainly, mistaken in assigning Spen­sers death to Dublin. He dyed in King-street, Westminster, and was buryed in Westminster-abbey.

p. 110.

Enter Pyramus and Thisbe, &c. There is an old pam­phlet, containing the history of this amourous pair, in lamentable verse, by one Dunstan Gale, which appears to have been printed in 1596; and may, not improbably, befound the but of Shakspeares ridicule in some parts of this interlude.

p. 116.

Then know, that I, as Snug the joiner, am
A lion fell, nor else no lions dam.

The folio reads:

Then know that I one Snug the joiner am
A lion fell nor else no lions dam.

This (i. e. A lion fell), says mr. Steevens, not agree­ing with the remainder of the speech, the modern editors have altered it into—no lion fell. Had they, continues he, consulted the quarto, 1600, it would have set them right.

Then know that I, as Snug the joyner, am
A lion fell, nor else no lyons dam.

A reading which this ingenious gentleman has accord­ingly adopted. It is, nevertheless, certainly wrong, and that of the folio is certainly right.

At the rehearsal of the play, lest "the ladies should be afear'd of the lion," being, as Bottom observes, "the most fearful wild fowl living," it was settled, that there should be a prologue to tell, that Snug, who was to perform this terrible part, was not a lion; his name was, likewise, to be named, and half his face seen through the lions neck; through which he was, moreover, to speak, "saying thus, or to this defect,—Ladies, &c. If you think I come hither as a lion, it were pity of my life: no, I am no such thing; I am a man as other men are:"—and there, indeed, he was "to name his name; and tell them plainly he 'was' Snug the joiner." This prologue he is now delivering; but the passage must be read and pointed thus; the sense and mean­ing being strangely misconceived and misrepresented by the present editors:

Then know, that I one Snug the joiner am;
A lion fell nor else no lions dam:
For if I should as lion come in strife
Into this place, 'twere pity of my life.

[Page 49] That is, I am neither lion nor lioness, I am Snug the joiner. The text makes him declare that he is a lion, or comes as a lion, which is utterly inconsistent with the rest of his speech; defeats the very end and design of his prologue; and would have been enough ("God shield us!") to scare the ladies out of their wits. The use of the sing [...]e negative with a double aspect is common with our author and other ancient writers. Thus Fletcher, in his animated apostrophe to the memory of Spenser:

O may that man that hath the Muses scorn'd,
Alive nor dead be ever of a Muse adorn'd 7.

The conclusion is, that "the modern editors," who read no, were perfectly right, in point of construction, though the alteration was unnecessary and improper.



He dares not go there [i. e. into the lantern] for you see it is already in snuff.

Snuff, says dr. Johnson, signifies both the cinder of a Gandle, and hasty anger.

So, in a Voyage to the Western Islands:

"The hedges near Montrose are of stone.

So, likewise, in a note upon the First part of Hen. IV.

"The cuckows chickeu."


p. 149.

Signior Anthonio, many a time and oft,
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my monies, and my usances.

Use and usance, mr. Steevens says, are both words anci­ently employed for usury. And, to justify the explanation, he quotes the two following passages from an old play:

Give me my use, give me my principal.
A toy; the main about five hundred pounds,
And the use fifty.

But, after all, is he not mistaken? Use and usance mean nothing more than interest. And the former word is still used by country people in the same sense. His own authorities prove this to be the ancient meaning. Give me my interest, give me my principal. The main (i. e. the principal) five hundred pounds, and the use fifty; i. e. interest at ten per cent, the legal rate in Shakspeares time: when, perhaps, the word usury itsself had a much more innocent meaning than has been since annexed to it. In the old song of Neptunes raging fury, or the gallant seamans sufferings, it signifies onely a scrivener:

The lawyer and the usurer,
That sits in gowns of fur, &c.

p. 150.

—For when did friendship take
A breed of barren metal of his friend.

[Page 51] The quartos (mr. Steevens says) read—a breed of—the folio—a breed for,—The ingenious commentator has not, it seems, paid his usual attention to the folios,—both which assuredly read of.

p. 159.


I am Launcelot, your boy that was, your son that is, and your child that shall be.

The distinction between boy and son, dr. Johnson sagaciously remarks, is obvious, but child, adds he, seems to have had some meaning which is now lost. Mr. Stee­vens supposes that, by your child that shall be, he means that his duty to his father should in future shew him to be his child. There is not the least difficulty in the passage. Launcelot is talking nonsense, or, as the vulgar have it, putting the cart before the horse; but whether designedly or not is left to the contemplation of the critics. He means, however, to say, I was your child, I am your boy, and shall ever be your son.

p. 167.

— thou shalt not gormandize
As thou hast done with me.

"The word [gormandize] is very ancient, and took its rise from a Danish king. The Danes, towards the latter end of the ninth century, were defeated by king Alfred at Edendon in Wiltshire; and as an article of peace, Guth­rum their king, commonly called Gurmond, submitted to be baptized, king Alfred being his godfather, who gave him the name of Athelstan, and took him for his adopted [Page 52]son. During the stay of the Danes in Wiltshire, "they consumed their time in profuseness, and belly-cheer, in idleness and sloth. Insomuch, that as from their laziness in general, we, e [...]en to this day, call them Lur-Danes; so from the licentiousness of Gurmond, and his army in par­ticular, we brand all luxuricus and profuse people, by the name of Gurmondizers." And this luxury, and this lazi­ness, are the sole monuments, the only memorials by which the Danes have made themselves notorious to pos­terity, by being encamped in Wiltshire. Vide, A Vindi­cation of Stone-Heng restored, by John Webb, esq. p. 227. [...]n Jonson in his Sejanus, act. I.

"That great Gourmond, fat Apicius. G."

After such a pompous display of learning, so strangely in­troduced into the margin of Shakspeare, how will this mr. G. (who has certainly shewed, if not judgement, at least prudence, in concealing his name) be surprised to hear that there is not a single j [...]t either of sense or of truth from the beginning to the end of his laborious dissertation! Gour­mand, a glutton, and Gourmandise, glutro [...]y, whence Jon­ [...]ons Gourmond, and our gormandize are immediately taken, are common French words to be found in every dictio­nary; a [...]d Lurdane, properly l [...]urden, is derived from lourdin, or fal [...]urdin, a word of the same signification, in the same language, equally common. Either Gourmond or Lurdane, therefor, has no more (possibly, much less) connection with the ancient Danes, than it has with this same mr. G. the structor of the above ingenious, but, alas! too easyly demolished fabric,

p. 183.


Where is my lady?

P [...]r.

Here; what would my lord?

[Page 53] "Would not this speech to the servant be more proper in the mouth of Nerissa? TYRWHITT."

No; very impertinent, in the presence of her lady.

p. 293.


I would it might prove the end of his losses!


Let me say amen betimes, lest the devil cross thy prayer.

All the old copies read my prayer; but, says Warburton, the prayer was Salanios. The other onely, as clerk, says amen to it; he therefor changed it to thy prayer. The old reading, however, may be very right: Is not amen a prayer?

p. 207.


I could not do with all.

"For the sense of the word do in this place, see a note on Measure for Measure, act I. COLLINS."

The conversation of even the highest ranks, was not, perhaps, in Shakspeares time, over and above remarkable for its delicacy. But does the (real) commentator believe that a lady of Portias good sense, high station, and elegant manners, could speak (or even think) so grossly? It is im­possible!

This observation, and others of the like nature, from the same hand, are, however, as the reader will perceive, strictly within the canon.

"He (i. e. the professed critic) may find out a bawdy, or immoral meaning in his author, where there does not appear to be any hint that way." Canon XII.

p. 214.

And others, when the bagpipe sings i'the nose,
Cannot contain their urine; For affections,
[Page 54] Masters of passion sway it to the mood
Of what it likes or loath [...].

The reading of all the old editions is;

And others, when the bagpipe sings i'th' nose,
Cannot contain their urine for affection.
Masters of passion sways it to the mood
Of what it likes or loaths.

Which is, surely, defensible, though our candid editors have not been pleased to notice it. The meaning is that some men when they hear the sound of a bagpipe are so affected therewith that they cannot retain their urine. For those things which are masters over passion, make it like or loath whatever they will.

If sways be objected to, it may be easyly altered to sway. But there are above fifty instances in Shakspeare, where a verb of the singular number is made to agree with a noun of the plural.

p. 216.

S [...]y.

Why he a woollen bagpipe.

It is not unusual to see the large skin or bladder of a bagpipe covered with flannel; and, it is possible that Shak­speare onely used the word as a descriptive epithet.

Dr. Johnson supposes he wrote wooden;—sir John Haw­kins swelling or swollen. But any meaning is preferable to such arbitrary violations of the text.

p. 228.


Shylock, there's thrice thy money offer'd thee.

Where, or by whom, is any such offer made? Bas­sanio, indeed, in answer to Portias question, if Anthonio were not able to discharge the money, says, [Page 55]

Yes, here I tender it for him in the court;
Yea twice the sum.

But nobody offers thrice the money. Either Portia mistook Bassanios proposal, or this is one of those inaccuracies of the text which are now irremediable.

p. 228.

For half thy wealth it is Anthonios;
The other half comes to the general state,
Which humbleness may drive unto a fine.
So please my lord the duke, and all the court,
To quit the fine for one half of his goods;
I am content; so be will let me have
The other half in use,—to render it,
Upon his death, unto the gentleman,
That lately stole his daughter.

The terms proposed, says dr. Johnson, have been misun­derstood. Anthonio declares, that as the duke quits one half of the forfeiture, he is likewise content to abate his claim, and desires not the property but the use or pro­duce only of the half, and that only for the Jews life, un­less we read, as perhaps is right, upon my death.

How others have misunderstood Anthonios terms, does not by this edition appear, and it might be policy in dr. Johnson to suppress the account, for it is very clear that they are not understood by HIM. Anthonio tells the duke, that, if he will abate the fine for the states half, he (An­thonio) will be contented to take the other, in trust, after Shylocks death, to render it to his daughters husband. That is, it was, during Shylocks life, to remain at interest in An­thonios hands, and Shylock was to enjoy the produce of it. The present reading is perfectly right, clear, and intelligible. [Page 56]And these trifling mistakes might teach even the greatest critic some little diffidence upon similar occasions.

p. 234.


Tell him there's a post come from my master, with his horn full of good news; my master will be here ere morning, sweet soul.


Let's in, and there expect his coming.

These two words, mr. Tyrwhitt observes, should cer­tainly be taken from the end of Launcelots speech, and placed at the begining of the following speech of Lorenzo. An excellent and happy remark. No alteration was ever more necessary, or more obvious. The two syllables thus misplaced, and which are utterly absurd and insensible as they stand, are just wanting to make up the metre of the first line of Lorenzos speech. The emendation is therefor unpardonably neglected.

p. 256.

P. 111. The Merchant of Venice.]—"A ballad is still re­maining on the subject of Romeo and Juliet, which by the date appears to be much older than Shakspeares time. It is remarkable that all the particulars in which that play dif­fers from the story in Bandello, are found in this ballad."

Where is this same ballad to be found? Or who ever saw it? The information is—MR. WARTONS!


p. 263.

Orlando. As I remember, Adam, it was on this fashion be­queathed me: by will, but a poor thousand ducats; and as thou fa [...]'st, charged my brother, on his blessing, to breed me well.

[Page 57] Dr. Warburton would substitute my fath [...]r in the place of fashion. Dr. Johnson allows that the nominative my father is left out, but says it is so left out that the auditor inserts it in spite of himself. An auditors understanding the intent of a speech will not, however, supply the defects of its grammatical construction. There is no necessity for omitt­ing the word fashion, but either my father, or (which is perhaps much better) the pronoun he should be inserted be­tween fashion and bequeathed. The passage ought, therefor, to be read and pointed thus: As I remember, Adam, it was on this fashion he bequeathed me, by will, but a poor thousand ducats, &c. The reader will perceive that it is onely the sequel of a conversation which has commenced before the play.

p. 274.

Le Beau.

What colour, madam? how shall I answer you?


As wit and fortune will.


Or as the destinies decree.


Well said, that was laid on with a trowel.

Laid on with a trowel, dr. Johnson supposes to mean, "too heavy a mass of big words, laid upon a slight sub­ject." But mr. Steevens will have it to be a "proverbial expression, generally used to signify a glaring falshood." The doctor is not right, and the gentleman palpably wrong. It means a good round hit, thrown in without judgement or design. So, in Tony Lumpkin in Town, 1780.

"Tim, that was a dash with the pound brush.

p. 270.


Yet he's gentle;—of all sorts enchantingly beloved.

Sorts, in this place, means ranks and degrees of men.

p. 336.


Well, I am not fair; and therefore I pray the gods make me honest.


Truly, and to cast honesty away upon a foul slut, were to put meat into an unclean dish.


I am not a slut, though I thank the gods for my foulness.


Well, praised be the gods for thy foulness, sluttishness may come hereafter.

By foul, says Hanmer, is meant coy or frowning. Mr. Tyrwhitt rather believes it to be the rustic pronunciation of full, as if she thanked the gods for a belly-full.

Audrey says she is not fair (i. e. handsome), and therefor prays the gods to make her honest. The clown tells her that to cast honesty away upon a foul slut (i. e. an ill favoured, dirty crecture) is to put meat in an unclean dish. She replies, she is no slut (no dirty drab), though, in her great simplicity, she thanks the gods for her soulness (homely­ness); i. e. for being as she is. Well, adds he, praised be the gods for thy foulness, sluttishness may come hereafter. Where can be the difficulty?

p. 361.


How say you now? Is it not past two o'clock, and here's much Orlando.

Thus, says mr. Steevens, the old copy. The modern editors, adds he, read, but without the least authority: I wonder much, Orlando is not here.

This is sense, however, which the old and present read­ing is not, though there was no necessity for so great an [...]teration to make it so. One might propose the follow­ing: ‘Is it not past two o'clock? and here's no Orlando.’

p. 378.


We found our quarrel was upon the seventh cause.

So, says dr. Johnson, all the copies; but it is apparent, adds he, from the sequel, that we must read, the quarrel was not upon the seventh cause.

The propriety of this remark is very doubtfull. Jaques, a few speeches after, asks the clown, How he and his anta­gonist found the quarrel was upon the seventh cause. The clown says, upon a lye seven times remov'd; and thus ex­plains it: 1. His dislike of the courtiers beard. 2. The courtiers retort courteous. 3. The quip modest. 4. The re­ply churlish. 5. The reproof valiant. 6. The countercheek quarrelsome. 7. The lye circumstantial. This may indeed be called the seventh cause, but it certainly is not a lye, se­ven times removed. Touchstone is rather inaccurate in his calculations, but dr. Johnsons proposal seems inadmissible. After all, it is not easy to conceive, how either the lye cir­cumstantial, or the lye direct could be a greater affront than the countercheck quarrelsome, which was simply thus:— YOU LYE!


p. 409.


Am not I Christopher Sly, old Slys son of Burton-heath; Ask Marian Hacket the fat ale-wife of Wincot, if she know me not, &c.

Mr. Steevens suspects that we should read Barton-heath. Barton and Woodmancot, vulgarly Woncot, being both in Gloustershire, near the residence of Justice Shallow. (The ingenious observer might have recollected William Visor [Page 60]of Wonc [...]t.) But the matter is fully cleared up by the cele­brated mr. Warton, who positively assures us, that Wilne­cotte is a village in Warwickshire, with which Shakspeare was well acquainted, near Stratford. That the house kept by our genial ho [...]iess, still remains, but is at present a mill. A stranger to the chronology of mr. Wartons life would be apt to conclude, from this satisfactory information, that Shakspeare and he had had many a merry meeting over a cup of our genial hostesses Warwickshire ale; or how should he suppose him to have come by such a perfect knowlege of the house, our authors intimate acquaintance with it, and the character of its mistress? Burton Dorset is a village in Warwickshire.

p. 421.


Sweet Bianca!—Happy man be his dole!

A proverbial expression, mr. Steevens tells us, Dole being any thing dealt out or distributed. But what sort of an explanation is this? The meaning is, let his portion or lot in life be that of a happy man.

p. 426.

Alla nostra casa ben venuto,
Melto h [...]norato sign [...]r mio Petruchio.

Surely the editors are sufficiently acquainted with Italian to know that this name should have been here printed Pe­tru [...]is. Or do they intend it to be pronounced Petroukio?

p. 436.

Tell me, I beseech you, which is the readiest way
To the house of signior Baptista Minola?
He that has the two fair daughters.

"This [last] speech, in the old copy, is given to Tranio. STEEVENS."

[Page 61] A mistake: both folios give it to Biondello; and make Tranio answer him thus:—Even he Biondello. The text, however, seems properly corrected.

p. 438.


O excellent motion! fellows let's be gone.

Gru. (Grumio) is here, perhaps by a misprint, put for Gre. (Gremio.)

p. 469.

But, sir, our love concerneth us to add
Her fathers liking.

The first folio, as mr. Tyrwhitt observes, reads; ‘But, sir, love, &c.

Which he thinks should be thus corrected: But, sir, to her love, &c.’

This, however, is scarce grammar or even common sense. The word her is alone sufficient, and is, most likely, Shakspeares own.

p. 483.

Pet. Where is the life that late I led —

A scrap of some old ballad. Ancient Pistol elsewhere quotes the same line. In an old black letter book intitled A gorgious Gallery of gallant Inuentions. Lon. 1578. 4to. is a song To the Tune of Where is the life that late I led.

p. 507.


And what of all this?


I cannot tell; expect they are busied about a counterfeit assurance, &c.

[Page 62] "I can make no sense of expect. I rather believe this passage should be read thus:—I cannot tell; except thus much; they are busied, &c. TYRWHITT."

The second folio confirms the propriety of this judicious emendation. The editors are perfectly inexcusable for their negligence in not consulting the old copies.



p. 50.


As fit as Tibs rush for Toms forefinger.

It behoveth me here to remark that this abridged nomi­native, Tib, is, not as the great musical knight opineth, a contraction of Tabitha, but is the diminutive of Isabel. Moreover, the forefinger is not, as master Tollet conceiveth, the thumb, but that finger which is usually placed next or nearest thereunto. Meseemeth, likewise, that our author hath here one of those covert allusions, divers of which my singular good friend M. Collins and myself have hereto­fore noted, and shall, Deo juvante, persever to remark in our future lucubrations. AMNER.

p. 102.


If I should swear by Joves great attributes.

"In the print of the old folio, it is doubtful whether it be Jove's or Love's, the characters being not distinguish­able. JOHNSON."

It is no wonder that the learned critic should not have been able to distinguish between an 1 and an l, where he could not perceive the variation of whole words, and even [Page 63]lines and speeches. No one beside hisself, however, could possibly have had a doubt about the matter, the two cha­racters being as clearly different in the old editions as they are any where else.

But this is not the onely instance in which the ingenious commentator could not determine whether the word were love or Jove. He is at the same loss in Troilus and Cressida, (x. 87.) where the l is equally conspicuous.

p. 127.


O madam, yonder's my lord your son with a patch of velvet on's face; whether there be a scar under it, or no, the velvet knows, &c.


A fear nobly got,—is a good livery of honour.

The old editions give the latter speech to Lafeu; from whom it has been taken without either acknowlegement or necessity.


p. 160.


My lady takes great exceptions to your ill hours.

Sir To.

Why, let her except before excepted.

This, says dr. Farmer, should probably be, as before ex­cepted: a ludicrous use of the formal law-phrase. But the ingenious critic mìght have spared his remark, the formal law-phrase being more usually as in the text.

p. 185.

She made good view of me; indeed so much,
That, sure, methought her eyes had lost her tongue.

[Page 64] "Sure, says mr. Steevens, has been added to complete the verse." It is very true: it was added by Shakspeare.

p. 188.

Sir To.

— a stoop of wine.

i. e. a cup. So in Othello.

"Come lieutenant, I have a stoop of wine. STEEVENS.

Compare the following passage, and note (Hamlet, x. 4.)

King. Set me the stoups of wine upon the table.

"A stoup is a flaggon or bowl. STEEVENS."

This explanation may be right: Cup is certainly wrong.

p. 210.


My purpose is, indeed, a horse of that colour.

Sir And.

And your horse now would make him an ass.

Mar. Ass

I doubt not.

Mr. Tyrwh [...]tt thinks that the conceit given to sir Andrew, shews too quick an apprehension for him. He would there­for transfer it to sir Toby. But does the ingenious critic imagine it probable that Maria would call sir Toby an ass?

p. 216.

Sir To.

Marry hang thee, brock.

A brock is certainly a badger; but Malvolio is not so called because he is likely to be hunted and persecuted like that animal (which, by the way, is never hunted). Neither is to badger a man, a phrase for making a fool of him. Sir Toby uses the word as a term of contempt, as if he had said, hang thee, cur!—Out filth! to stink like a brock, be­ing proverbial. To badger a man is to be perpetually plague­ing him: the badger, from that spirit of humanity so pre­valent in the English vulgar, being always baited to death.

p. 211.

Sir T [...]

—How now my nettle of India.

The old copy, mr. Steevens says, reads—mettle of India, which, he thinks, is probably the true reading. The change, he tells us, was made by mr. Rowe.

Nettle, however, as the learned commentator ought to have known, is the reading of the second folio, and is indisputably right.

p. 231.

Sir To.

Challenge me the counts youth to fight with him.

This, mr. Tyrwhitt pronounces to be nonsense: he would have us read,—challenge me the counts youth; go, fight with him. But if any alteration be necessary, it should be thus:—Challenge me the counts youth to fight with you. The text, however, is neither nonsensical, nor difficult.

p. 247.

Sir To.

Why man he's a very devil; I have not seen such a virago.

The word virago is certainly inapplicable to a man, a blustering hectoring fellow, as Sir Toby means to repre­sent Viola; for he cannot possibly entertain any suspicion of her sex: but it is no otherwise so, than Rounceval is to a woman, meaning a terrible fighting blade; from Ronceval, or Roncesvalles, the famous scene of that fabulous combat with the Saracens,

When Charlemagne and all his Peerage fell,
By Fontarabia.

p. 249.

Sir To.

Nay if you be an undertaker, I am for you.

This, mr. Tyrwhitt believes a touch upon the times, in al­lusion to certain persons who in the reign of king James [Page 66]the first, undertook to carry all the government measures smoothly through parliament. But what has Antonio said or done that Sir Toby should take him for a busy member of the house of commons? He onely means to tell him that if he be an undertaker of, or intermeddler in other peoples quar­rels, he (Sir Toby) is ready to take him up.

p. 261.


What say you, sir? I am shent for speaking to you.

Shent, i. e. rated, scolded, abused. The two instances adduced by mr. Steevens give it a meaning quite foreign to the text.

p. 240.

Sir Toby.

Ay, biddy, come with me.

This seems to be a scrap of some old song, and should be printed as such. Did the editors understand it, that they have given us no annotation upon it? Biddy is the dimi­nutive of Bridget.

p. 241.

Sir To.

— we thee for a finder of madmen.

Dr. Johnson thinks this phrase an allusion to witch-finders. But mr. Steevens pronounces it, a satire on those coroners who so often bring in self-murder, lunacy, to which title, he says, many other offences have to the full as just pre­tensions. The observation is, however, scarcely pertinent, as it is not the officer, but the inquest that makes the return. And, perhaps, while such inhuman, such diabolical laws as the brutality of the most barbarous ages has annexed to the commission of the above act, continue to disgrace the judicial system of this country, even perjury itsself becomes a [Page 67]virtue. Finders of madmen are those who formerly acted under the writ De Lunatico inquirendo.

p. 246.

Sir To.

meddle you must, that's certain.

Meddle, mr. Steevens explains, mix; but it means to interfere, have to do with, concern ones self, &c. as before explained.

p. 267.


The bells of St. Bennet.

What necessity is there for accusing Shakspeare of any impropriety in this place. There must have been churches in Illyria, and how does dr. Johnson know that none of them was dedicated to St. Bennet?

p. 278.

A most extracting frenzy of mine own,
From my remembrance clearly banish'd his.

i. e. says dr. Warburton, a frenzy that drew me away from every thing but its own object. But mr. Malone, ever studious to preserve his authors text, till some example is produced of the word being used in the above sense, should wish to read distracting, which he very mo­destly conjectures to have been the original word. If dr. Warburton had considered his explanation a single moment, he would undoubtedly have given it right, i. e. a frenzy that drew every object but one out of my memory.



An your ladyship will have it [i. e. Malvolios letter] as it ought to be, you must allow vox.

[Page 68] "I am by no means certain," says mr. Steevens, "that I understand this passage." The learned editors diffidence must, therefor, apologise for his having mistaken it: the meaning is, nevertheless, very simple.

If your ladyship, says the Clown, will have this letter read as it should be, you must allow me the full and proper use of my voice. She had just checked him for bawling too loud, which he tells her is the right method of reading a madmans letter.


p. 305.

lower messes
Perchance are to this business purblind.

Mess, says dr. Johnson, is a contraction of master, as Mess John, master John; an appellation used by the Scots, to those who have taken their academical degree. Lower messes, therefor, adds he, are graduates of a lower form. Mr. Steevens, however, believes that lower messes is onely used to signify the lowest [lower] degrees about the court. A conjecture in which he seems to be as right, as dr. Johnson is certainly wrong: the word mess, as Mess John, neither being any contraction of master, nor having the remotest allusion to academical degrees. It is merely the Scotish pronunciation of Mass, and is only applyed, in vulgar lan­guage, to the priest or minister.

p. 311.


I have lov'd thee


Make that thy question, and go rot.

[Page 69] Nothing can be more obvious than that the words here put into the mouth of Camillo really belong to Leontes, whom he neither does nor could address with so much fami­liarity. But we are under no necessity to agree with mr. Tyrwhitt that they would come in more properly after rot. If the measure be thought to need emendation, it would be less violence to adopt that proposed by mr. Theobald.

p. 326.

I have three daughters; the eldest is eleven,
The second, and the third, nine, and some five.

"This," says dr. Johnson, "is mr. Theobalds correc­tion; the former editions read sans five."

If the critic mean to say onely that some editions prior to Theobalds read sans, the assertion may probably be true; but if his note imply that Theobald first introduced the word some, nothing can be less so: it is the reading of the first folio, and the second does not read sans.

The speaker tells us that one of his daughters was eleven, the second nine, and the third about five.

p. 345.

I ne'er heard yet,
That any of these bolder vices wanted
Less impudence to gain-say what they did,
Than to perform it first.

"It is apparent," dr. Johnson says, "that according to the proper, at least according to the present use of words, less should be more, or wanted should be had."

It is a pity that the learned critic should not better un­derstand the language upon which he professes to com­ment. There is not the slightest difficulty or impropriety in the passage. I never heard, says Leontes, that any of [Page 70]these greater offenders wanted (i. e. were deficient in) less impudence to deny their crime than to commit it. You, therefor, he means to tell the queen, who have had suffi­cient impudence to do what I charge you with, can be at no loss for impudence to deny it.

p. 375.

— the gods themselves,
Humbling their deities to love, have taken
The shapes of beasts upon them;—their transformations
Were never for a piece of beauty rarer;
Nor in a way so chaste.

In what way? We should certainly read (in the margin at least): ‘Nor any way so chaste.’

p. 381.

Your hand my Perdita: so turtles pair,
That never mean to part.
I'll swear for 'em.

For whom or what? This is sheer nonsense. And dr. Johnson, by giving the line to Polixenes, rather increases the absu [...]dity than lessens it. We should, doubtless, read thus: ‘I'll swear for one.

i. e. I will answer or engage for myself. Some altera­tion is absolutely necessary. This seems the easyest; and the reply will then be perfectly becoming her character.

p. 394.


Leave your prating, since these good men are pleas'd, let them come in.

Here a dance of twelve satyrs.
[Page 71]

O father, you'll know more of that hereafter.

This, says dr. Warburton, is replied by the king in an­swer to the shepherds saying since these good men are pleased.

This is very unlikely. The dance, which has intervened, would take up too much time to preserve any connection between the two speeches. The line spoken by the king seems to be in reply to some unexpressed question from the old shepherd, and should not be uttered aside.


p. 473.


The prince of Cumberland!

The crown of Scotland, mr. Steevens observes, was originally not hereditary. When a successor was declared in the life time of a king, (as was often the case) the title of prince of Cumberland was immediately bestowed on him as the mark of his designation.

The propriety of this note is not very apparent.

The crown of Scotland had been hereditary for ages before Duncan,—nay, from the very foundation of the Scotish monarchy. The apparent or presumptive heir was always the known and declared successor; as in England and every other hereditary government. The kings eldest son, or grandson (i. e. the heir apparent for the time being) alone was prince of Cumberland, as the king of Englands is prince of [Page 72]Wales; or the king of France's, the Dauphin. And it should seem, from the play, that Malcolm was the first who had this title.

p. 505.

— No; this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green—one red.

Whoever was the author of this emendation, as it is called) (for mr. Sheridan has likewise taken the credit of it, Lectures on Elocution. 4to. p. 65.); it seems to have been adopted with too much haste, and without either necessity or advantage. The old reading is much more in the man­ner of Shakspeare, and of course more likely to be the true one: especially if we read sea.

p. 523.

—There is none, but he,
Whose genius I do fear: and, under him,
My genius is rebuk'd; as, it is said,
Mark Antonys was by Caesar. He chid the sisters,
When, &c.

"Though I would not often assume the critics privi­lege of being confident where certainty cannot be obtained, nor indulge myself too far in departing from the established reading; yet I cannot but propose the rejection of this pas­sage, which I believe was an insertion of some player, that having so much learning as to discover to what Shak­speare alluded, was not willing that his audience should be less knowing than himself, and has therefore weakened the [Page 73]authours sense, by the intrusion of a remote and useless image into a speech bursting from a man wholly possessed with his own present condition, and therefore not at leisure to explain his allusions to himself. If these words are taken away, by which not only the thought but the numbers are injured, the lines of Shakespeare close together without any traces of a break.

My genius is rebuk'd. He chid the sisters. JOHNSON."

This note, dr. Johnson tells us, was written before he was fully acquainted with Shakspeares manner, and he does not now think it of so much weight: why did he then reprint it? because the words which he once thought interpolated by the players, he now thinks to have been interpolated by the author. But there never was surely such a number of words wasted to such an idle purpose. Whether Mac­beth would have made use of the image is not the question: the words are as evidently Shakspeares as any others in the play. And where was the necessity of so much learning to discover the allusion? The idea was persectly familiar to him. He got it from the old translation of Plutarch, and has particularly dwelled upon it in Ant [...]ny and Cleopatra, act II. scene iii.

p. 531.

— Better be with the dead,
Whom we to gain our place have sent to peace.

The old copy, according to mr. Steevens, reads: ‘Whom we to gain our peace have sent to peace.’

The change, he says, was made by mr. Rowe. It is, however, the reading of the second folio.

p. 532.

The shard-borne beetle, with his drowsy hum,
Hath rung nights yawning peal, &c.

The shard-born beetle is, perhaps, the beetle born among shards, i. e. (not cows-dung, for that is only a secondary or metonymical signification of the word, and not even so, generally, but) pieces of broken pots, tiles, and such like things which are frequently thrown together in corners as rubbish, and under which these beetles may usually breed, or (what is all the same) may have been supposed to do so.

Thus, in Hamlet, the priest says, of Ophelia, Shards, flints, and pebbles, should be thrown on her.’

Would mr. Tollet say that cows-dung was to be thrown into the grave? The spelling of born can have no weight any way. It is true, however, that sharded beetle seems scarcely reconcilable to the above explanation. Mr. Stee­vens may be right, but dr. Warburton and mr. Tollet, are certainly wrong.

p. 535.

Enter three murderers.
1 Mur.

But who bid thee join with us?

3 Mur.


2 Mur.

He needs not our mistrust; since he delivers

Our offices and what we have to do
To the direction just.

The meaning of this abrupt dialogue, dr. Johnson ob­serves, is this: the perfect spy, mentioned by Macbeth in the foregoing scene, has, before they enter upon the stage, given them the directions which were promised at the time of their agreement; yet one of the murderers suborned, [Page 75]suspects him of intending to betray them; the other ob­serves, that, by his exact knowledge of what they were to do, he appears to be employed by Macbeth, and needs not be mistrusted. A comment which there are sew besides the learned author that would not have been ashamed to re­peat.

In the preceding scene, Macbeth says to the two first murderers.

I will advise you where to plant yourselves;
Acquaint you with the perfect spy o'the time,
The moment on't.

i. e. the very time when you are to look out for him. But dr. Johnson has changed it to A perfect spy o'the time,’ and seems too consident or too careless to perceive the ab­surdity he introduces. For, if Macbeth had made the two first murderers acquainted with this perfect spy of dr. John­son, and they had received their directions from him, how could the first murderer possibly ask him who bid him join them?—O, but, says the learned critic, he suspects him of an intention to betray them. Betray them! To whom? To Banquo? To be sure they had wonderful cause to be afraid of one whom the king hisself had appointed them to kill!—The fact plainly is, that this additional or supernumerary villain is sent from Mac­beth, by way of reinforcement, after the others had taken their stand. He has told them that he was acquainted with the design, but one of them, being unwilling, it should seem, to admit a third to participate in the reward, and therefor desirous to shuffle him off, very naturally asks, who bid him join them.

p. 575.

Bleed, bleed, poor country!
Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure
For goodness dares not check thee! wear thou thy wrongs,
His title is affcard!

His (i. e. Macbeths) title is affeer'd, i. e. established or affirmed, since he whose duty and interest it is to en­deavour to dethrone him refuses to join in the attempt. This kind of exclamation seems natural to Macduff; for, a little after, when Malcolm striyes to comfort him on the slaughter of his wise and children, he breaks forth in the same manner: He 8 has no children!—all my pretty ones!’

p. 581.

'Tis call'd the evil:
— strangely visited people,
All swoln and ulcerous, he curts,
Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,
Put on with holy prayers: and 'tis spoken,
To the succeeding royalty he leaves
The healing benediction. With this strange virtue,
He hath a heavenly gift of prophery, &c.

"It must be owned," says dr. Warburton, "that Shak­speare is often guilty of some strange absurdities in point of history and chronology: yet here he has artfully avoided one. He had a mind to hint, that the cure of the evil was to descend to the successors in the royal line in compliment to James the first. But the Consessor was the first who pre­tended to the gift: how then could it be at that time ge­nerally spoken of, that the gift was hereditary? this he has solved by telling us that Edward had the gift of prophecy along with it."

[Page 77] "The ingenious editor of the Houshold Book of the Fifth Earle of Northumberland, dr. Percy," adds mr. Steevens, "very acutely observes on the subject of cramp rings, "that the miraculous gift of curing the evil was left to be claimed by the Stuarts; our ancient Plantagenets were humbly con­tent to cure the cramp."

There may be a vast fund of acuteness, but there is not a tittle of truth or knowlege in this ingenious observation. It is so well known that not onely the Tudor family, but their predecessors, for many ages, exercised this real or imaginary power, that, in the reign of queen Elizabeth, who touched often, as any old history, and many other books, will inform us, one William Tooker, a learned divine, pub­lished a laborious Latin treatise upon the subject, in which he enumerates a number of cures performed by that princess, and others of our ancient English monarchs 9. With re­spect to dr. Warburton, one would be glad to know, how he became so certain that Edward the Confessor was the first who pretended to this gift. Shakspeare may be sometimes chargeable with great absurdities, but he rarely, if ever, commits such a one as his over­learned commentator would here force upon him. If Edward the Consessor had been the first English monarch possessed of this hereditary faculty, it must necessaryly have dyed with him, for he not onely was a usurper, but left no issue. So that king James neither did, nor possibly could either claim or get it from him. And his real titles were too [Page 78]good, and he was too well acquainted with them, to per­mit him to accept such a compliment; even if Shakspeare in­tended it, which he, undoubtedly, did not.

p. 583.

— But I have words,
That would be howl'd out in the desert air
Where hearing should not catch them.

The folio, it seems, read latch, which appears to be the proper word, and certainly signifies catch. Thus in Piers Plowman, so. 26.

As who so layeth lynes for to latche foules.

As mr. Steevens elsewhere tells us, that he made it his busyness to restore ancient readings, one might naturally have expected to see latch in the text.

p. 592.

— Then, fly, false thanes,
And mingle with the English epicures.

"It appears," says mr. Steevens, in a note upon this pas­sage, "from dr. Johnsons Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, that the natives had neither kail nor brogues, till they were taught the arts of planting the one, and making the other, by the soldiers of Cromwell; and yet," adds he, ‘king James VI. thought it necessary to form an act against superfluous banquetting.’

It is a pity that the ingenious commentator has omitted the very candid and liberal inference which the great tra­veler draws from the above circumstance of the kail, i. e. that, "when they had not that, they had nothing."

But under the favour of this ingenious critic, it does not appear:—dr. Johnson, indeed, is pleased to say so, and they who would have believed him if he had given a rela­tion [Page 79]of his voyage into the moon, may, if they choose, believe this. It is very seldom that we find people teach­ing to others arts of which they are ignorant theirselves, and yet this must have been the case with Cromwells sol­diers; who were accustomed neither to eat kail, nor to wear brogues. The truth is, that both articles have, in all probability, been known to the Scotish ever since the country was inhabited. So that they may safely admit the truth of the above very candid travelers good-natured posi­tion.

Mr. Steevens seems to think it altogether needless to re­strain luxury in diet, where people could get neither kail nor brogues; which, to be sure, are the very essence of a sump­tuous feast.

p. 596.

And with some sweet oblivious antidote,
Cleanse the foul bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart!

Stuff'd, mr. Steevens tell us, is the reading of the old copy; but, for the sake of the ear, which must be shocked by the recurrence of so harsh a sound, he is willing to read foul; foul is accordingly read. And such is the method taken to preserve the authors genuine text. Alas! poor Shakspeare.



p. 5.

K. John.
Be thou as Eghtning in the eyes of France;
For ere thou canst report, I will be there;
The thunder of my cannon shall be heard.

"This simile," dr. Johnson observes, "does not suit well: the lightning indeed," adds he, "appears before the thunder is heard, but the lightning is destructive, and the thunder innocent." The allusion may, notwithstanding, be very proper so far as Shakspeare has applyed it, i. e. merely to the swiftness of the lightening, and its preceding and foretelling the thunder. But there is some reason to believe that thunder was not thought to be innocent in our authors time, as we, elsewhere, learn from hisself. Thus in King Lear:

You sulphurous and thought executing fires
Vaunt couriers to oak-rending thunder-bolts.

Again, in Antheny and Cleopatra: ‘Some innocents scape not the thunderbolt.

Again, in Julius Caesar:

— I have walk'd about the streets,
And, thus unbraced, Casea, as you see,
Have bar'd my bosom to the thunder-sione.

And still more decisively in Measure for Measure:

Merciful heaven!
Thou rather with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt
Split'st the unwedgeable and guarled-oak,
Than the soft myrtle.

[Page 81] This old superstition is still prevalent in many parts of the country.

p. 30.

K. John.
Bedlam, have done.

Surely this should be Beldam, a word frequently used in this play.

p. 56.

Thou wear a lions hide! doff it for shame,
And hang a calfs skin on thy recreant limbs.

It does not appear that Constance hereby means to call Austria fool, as sir John Hawkins would have it; but she certainly means to call him coward, and to tell him that a calfs skin would suit his recreant limbs better than a lions. They still say of a dastardly person that he is a calf-hearted fellow, and a runaway school-boy is usually called a great calf.

p. 64.

For that, which thou hast sworn to do amiss,
Is't not amiss when it is truly done?
And being not done, where doing tends to ill,
The truth is then most done not doing it.

For this nonsense the reader is indebted to dr. Johnsons emendation; the old copies have it thus: Is not amiss when it is truly done.’ Which dr. Warburton calls the conclusion de travers: he therefor reads: ‘Is yet amiss.’ Sir Thomas Hanmer:—most amiss.

[Page 82] But all these objections to, and proposed alterations of the old reading, arise entirely from its not being under­stood. If the reader will consider the passage a moment, he will perceive that it has sense and meaning,—is quite in the spirit of the cardinals quibbling logic,—and infinitely superior to any of these pretended emendations. Pandulf, having conjured the king to perform his first vow to hea­ven,—to be champion of the church,—tells him, that what he has since sworn is sworn against hisself, and therefor may not be performed by him: for that, says he, which you have sworn to do amiss, is not amiss (i. e. becomes right) when it is done truely (that is, as he explains it, not done at all); and being not done, where it would be a sin to do it, the truth is most done when you do it not.

So, in Loves Labour Lost: ‘It is religion to be thus forsworn.

There is no difficulty in this, but what the over busy critic chooses to make.

"It is strange that, when the sense is so clear, any commentator should thus laboriously obscure it, to intro­duce a new reading; and yet stranger that he should shew such confidence in his emendation as to insert it in the text. JOHNSON."

The learned critic seems to think hisself intitled to an exclusive privilege of corrupting the authors lan­guage 9

p. 70.

Faul [...]. Bell, book, and candle, shall not drive me back.

The curse by bell, book, and candle, is the solemn anathema pronounced by the priest at the time of Mass, the book being laid open before him, the candles lighted, and the sacring bell rung.

p. 80.

For he that steeps his safety in true blood
Shall find but bloody safety and untrue.

True blood, says dr. Johnson, is the blood of him that has the just claim. But the expression seems to mean no more than innocent blood in general.

p. 113.

—John hath made

His peace with Rome? What is that peace to me?

I, by the honour of my marriage bed,
After young Arthur, claim this land for mine.

In a preceding scene, Pandulph tells Lewis, that, in case of Arthurs death, he,

'— in the right of lady Blanch his wife,
Might then make all the claim that Arthur did.'

[Page 84] This claim the dauphin now asserts, and it is possible that Shakspeare imagined him to have the right he pre­tended. But the fact is, Arthur had left an infant sister (Eleanor of Britain), who was then right heir to the crown, and de jure queen of England; and who, to the everlasting disgrace of this country, languished all her days in obscurity and confinement; and, even supposing her out of the question, John, and his son Henry, had a better title than Blanch, who was onely that kings sisters daughter; unless, indeed, he might be said to have forfeited all right, by his unnatural cruelty to his nephew, whom he is believed to have murdered with his own hands: yet still, even on that idea, would young Henrys title remain unimpeached; for neither then, nor in our authors time, was it understood, that the per­sonal misconduct of the ancestor, could, in any case, bar the succession of the innocent issue. A humane and righte­ous principle, reserved for the discovery and practice of a more refined and liberal people, in a more enlightened and politic age!

p. 120.

— New flight,
And happy newness, that intends old right.

"Happy innovation," quoth dr. Johnson. "that pur­posed the restoration of the ancient rightful government." What rightful government? Does the good old constitu­tionalist suppose it to have been in John, a murderer, and a villain, one who had not the least right to the possession of the crown, and whom it would have been praise-worthy in any man or set of men to have put to death?


p. 151.

Norsolk,—so far as to mine enemy.

Dr. Johnson does not (he says) clearly see the sense of this abrupt line. It is not, therefor, much to be wondered that he has not given a meaning which he could not find. The old copies reading—so fare 10, mr. Tollet makes the speaker wish Norsolk to fare like his enemy. A construction than which nothing can be more irrational and absurd. Bolingbroke onely uses the phrase by way of caution, lest Mowbray should think he was about to ad­dress him as a friend: Norfolk, says he, so far as a man may speak to his enemy, I, &c.

p. 188.

Thanks gentle uncle.—Come, lords, away;
To fight with Glendower and his complices.

This last line mr. Theobald thought an interpolation, and therefor threw it out of his edition; and, in this, the edi­tors have been weak enough to inclose it in brackets. These proceedings are the more remarkable, as, supposing it genuine, there does not appear any thing like a reason in mr. Theobalds note, for the charge he would make against Shakspeare, of forgetfulness and inattention to his­tory (and a very strange charge it would be). For it is evident, from the preceding scene, that there was a force in [Page 86]Wales, which Bolingbroke might think it necessary to suppress; and why, dr. Johnson, (for you think the emen­dation just), might not Shakspeare call it Glendowers? When we next see Bolingbroke, he is in Wales, and men­tions his having received intelligence that the Welshmen are dispersed.

p. 211.

Gardiner, for telling me these news of woe,
I would, the plants, thou graft'st may never grow.

An execration, dr. Johnson observes, too ludicrous and unsuitable to the queens condition; and it certainly ap­pears so. But, perhaps, (for Shakspeares highest or lowest characters are never without a quibble) she means to wish him chidlless. It is to be remembered that the queen was very young, dr. Johnson will, therefor, the more readyly pardon any puerilities of expression he may find her guilty of.

p. 213.

— my rapiers point.

Dr. Johnson here takes an opportunity to censure Shak­speare for deserting the manners of the age in which his drama is placed:—this weapon, he says, not being seen in England till two centuries aftewards. It would be as well, however, though not quite so easy, for the learned critic to bring some proof in support of this and such like assertions. Without which the authority of Shakspeare is at least equal to that of dr. Johnson. And, even if he could prove what he asserts (which, however, it is believed he cannot), the poets friends would still have an argument which would render both his assertions and his proofs equally nugatory and ridi­culous.

p. 242.

K. Rich.

My thoughts are minutes, and, with sighs they jar Their watches to mine eyes —

The first folio, says dr. Johnson, agrees with the third quarto, which reads:

My thoughts are minutes; and with sighes they jarre
There watches to mine eyes—

This is not true. The first folio, which the learned critic was too indolent to consult, reads Their watches on unto mine eyes—’

Which he has already given as the reading of the quarto of 1608.

p. 243.

R. Rich.

Now, sir, the sound, that tells what hour it is, Are clamorous groans —

Should we not read thus:

Now, sir, the sounds that tell what hour it is,
Are clamorous groans?


p. 252.

K. Henry.
No more the thirsty entrance of this soil
Shall daub her lips with her own childrens blood.

Dr. Warburton calls these lines nonsense, and would read trempe instead of daub, or, as it stood then, damp. Dr. Johnson allows them to be absurd, but objects to trempe, and would change entrance to entrails, adding that the relative her is inaccurately used in both readings. He is likewise willing to suppose a verse lost. Mr. Steevens, [Page 88]not being satisfyed with either alteration, proposes entrants instead of entrance, and explains it by, "those who set foot on this kingdom through the lust of power or con­quest (which was the kings own case)." Never sure was there so much drumbleing, nor (except in this edition) were there ever so many wild and absurd conjectures, as this simple passage has given rise to. For so simple it cer­tainly is, as that the little meaning it has may be easyly discovered by the most ignorant; however doctors may differ about it. The thirsty entrance of the soil is nothing more or less than the face of the earth, parched and cracked as it always appears in a dry summer; and mr. Steevens came nearer the mark than he was aware of when he men­tioned the persus surface of the ground. As to its being personifyed, it is, certainly, no such unusual practice with Shakspeare. Every one talks familarly of mother Earth; and they who live upon her face may, without much im­propriety, be called her children. Our author onely confines the image to his own country. The allusion is to the Barons wars.

p. 261.

P. Henry.
As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle.

There is a very old and popular tradition that old lad of the castle alludes to the name of Sir John Oldcastle, Fal­staffs original surname, when this play was first performed. This mr. Steevens will by no means allow. But it is no matter; there is as much reason, argument, and authority, as can be well expected on one side of the question, and his bare opinion on the other. Fuller, beside the words cited in the note, has, in his Worthies, p. 253, the following passage:

[Page 89] "Sir John Oldcastle was first made a thrasonical puff, an emblem of mock valour, a make sport in all plays for a coward."

Speed, likewise, in his Chronicle, edit. 2. p. 178, says:

"The author of the Three Conversions [i. e. Parsons, the Jesuit] hath made Oldcastle a ruffian, a robber, and a rebel, and his authority, taken from the stage-playe [...]s, is more befitting the pen of his slandcrous report, than the credit of the judicious, being only grounded from the papist and the poet, of like conscience for lies, the one ever seign­ing, and the other ever falsifying the truth." 11

It is somewhat extraordinary for mr. Steevens to assert that Shakspeare was not the author of the old play of Hen. V. in which Oldcastle appears to have been first intro­duced upon the stage. No body ever said or thought he was. But the very ingenious critic knows, and allows; that this same play afforded Shakspeare several hints; among which were the name and character of Sir John Oldcastle, whom he, afterwards, upon better advice, called Sir John Falst [...]ff.

p. 284.

But, soft, I pray you; did king Richard then
Proclaim my brother Edmund Mortimer
Heir to the crown?
He did; myself did hear it.

It was not, says mr. Steevens, Edmund Earl of March, the Mortimer of this play, whom K. Richard II. pro­claimed heir to the crown; but his father Roger earl of March, who was killed soon after in Ireland.

The learned commentator would have done well to consult the history before he ventured to be so deci­sive. [Page 90]Let us see when Northumberland heard this procla­mation. Why,

—then it was when the unhappy king,
Set forth upon his Irish expedition.

That Roger Mortimer could not be then proclaimed heir to the crown is evident, from this plain and simple circum­stance:—He was not then alive. He had been treache­rously killed by the wild Irish; and it was chiefly to revenge his death that the king set out on this very expe­dition. This proves it could not be Roger; and that it was Edmund, is proved by Hall, who expressly says, that HE, ("Edmond, sonne to erle Roger") "at kyng Richardes goyng into Ireland was proclaimed heire apparant to the crowne and realme."

p. 292.

1 Car.

An't be not four by the day, I'll be hang'd: Charles' wain is over the new chimney.

Charleses wain is the vulgar name given to the constella­tion called the Bear. But why Charleses wain? What Charles? It is, in fact, a mere corruption of the Chorles, or Churls wain (Sax. ceo [...]l, a countryman). For this very in­genious and judicious etymology the writer is indebted to a earned friend.

p. 293.

2 Car.
Your chamber-lie breeds fleas like a loach.

Loach, says dr. Warburton, is a loch (Scotch) a lake. Mr. Steevens half-doubts the propriety of this explanation, and supposes the expression may mean fleas resembling a loach (i. e. the fish so called). They must have been elephantine­lops, indeed, to do this, the loach being two or three [Page 91]inches in length. Besides, this construction necessaryly re­quires the passage to have been:—s [...]eas like loaches. The allusion is doubtless to the above fish; and mr. Steevens, in the course of his extensive researches, may one day find that it either has, or was formerly supposed to have, when dead, the quality of producing fleas in abundance. Dr. Watbur­tons explanation, if it may be so miscalled, is almost too ab­surd to deserve contradiction. The Scotch or Irish word loch, a lake, is a hard guttural sound, which we have softened into lough: e. g. lough (vulgariter lop)-leeches, the physi­cians or phlebotomists of the lake.

p. 300.


Give me thy hand: thou shalt have a share in our purchase.

Purchase;—perquisitio, acquisition: Thus, in Hen. V. ‘They will steal any thing, and call it purchase.

p. 303.

Enter Gadshill.



So I do, against my will.


O, 'tis our Setter, I know his voice.


What news.


Case ye, case ye; &c.

In all the copies, says dr. Johnson, that I have seen, Poins is made to speak on the entrance of Gadshill thus: ‘O, 'tis our setter; I know his voice.—Bardelph, what news?’

This he pronounces to be absurd; and therefor alters the passage as above; with very little reason, and against all authority. The modern editors, noticing an omission, make Bardolph to enter with Gadshill. The learned critic calls this a countenancing of the impropriety, and, therefor, [Page 92]does not bring Bardolph on at all. There is no absurdity in the passage, except that of which the learned commen­tator is guilty. Falstaffs calling out for Bardolph is no proof that he was within hearing. The latters entrance should be marked, and the old reading restored.

p. 304.


Hang ye, gor-bellied knaves; are ye undone? No, ye fat chuffs.

Mr. Steevens is under a small mistake in supposing this word a corruption of choughs. The name of the Cornish bird is pronounced, by the natives, chow. Chuff is the same word with cuff, both signifying a clown, and being, in all probability derived from a Saxon word of the latter sound. So Cotton, Virgil [...] t [...]ave [...]tie:

The wealthieft carles thereabouts,
Rich cuffs and very sturdy louts.

p. 321.


You rogue, there's lime in this sack.

Sack, the favourite beverage of Sir John Falstaff, was, according to the information of a very old gentleman, a liquor compounded of Sherry, Syder, and Sugar. Some­times it should s [...]em to have been brewed with eggs, i. e. mulled. And that the vintners played tricks with it, appears from Falstaffs charge in the text, &c. It does not seem to be, at present, known; the sweet wine so called being, apparently, of a quite different nature.

p. 333.


He of Wales that swore the devil his true liegeman upon the cross of a Welsh book.

Mr. Steevens seems to be right in supposing a Welsh book to be a weapon of the same kind with our old Eng­lish [Page 93]bill, or the Lochaber axe (with which, by the way, mr. Steevens might have observed, colonel Gardiner was killed 12). The representation, therefor, of the old sword from Speed could have been spared. It is more like the seaxe or faulchion of our Saxon ancestors than any instru­ment of Henry the Fourths time. The shepherds hook, in the song, is no warlike implement, but merely a crook he used to catch his sheep withall.

p. 336.

P. Henry.

Do thou stand for my father.


Shall I? content:—this chair shall be my state, this dag­ger my sceptre, and this cushion my crown.

P. Henry.

Thy state is taken for a joint-stool, thy golden sceptre for a leaden dagger, and thy precious rich crown, for a pitiful bald crown.

This, says dr. Farmer, is an apostrophe of the prince to his absent father; not an answer to Falstaff.

The learned critics interpretation cannot be right. It is certainly nothing more than a ludicrous description of Falslaffs mock regalia.

p. 339.


If the fruit may be known by the tree, as the tree by the fruit, then there is virtue in that Falstaff.

Mr. Steevens is afraid that here is a profane allusion to the 33d verse of the 12th chapter of St. Matthew. Alas! [Page 94]and if the allusion were intentional, where is its profans­ness?

p. 343.


Thou art essentially mad, without seeming so.

P. Henry.

And thou a natural coward, without instinct.


I deny your major; if you will deny the sheriff, so; if not let him enter: &c.

Falstaff here intends a quibble, which the editors, indus­trious enough, it must be confessed, in pointing out such like things 13, have suffered to escape their notice. Major, which sheriff brought to his mind, signifies as well one of the parts of a logical propofit on, as the principal officer of a corporation, now called a Mayor.

p. 352.

For I was train'd up in the English court;
Where, being but young, I framed to the harp
Many an English ditty, lovely well,
And gave the tongue a helpful ornament;
A virtue that was never seen in you.

The tongue, i. e. says dr. Johnson, the English language, He is wrong. Glendower means that he graced his own tongue with the art of singing.

p. 355.


She's desperate here; a peevish self-will'd harlotry.

Capulet, in Romeo and Juliet, speaking of his daughter has the same expression: ‘A peevish self-will'd harlotry it is.’

p. 363.

K. Henry.
The skipping king he ambled up and down,
With shallow jesters, and rash bavin wits,
Soon kindled, and soon burnt; carded his state;
Mingled his royalty with carping fools.

The metaphor carded his state is supposed, by mr. Stee­vens (from a hint of mr. Tollet), and by dr. Farmer, to be taken from mingling coarse wool with fine, and carding them together. But this explanation is by much too far fetched; and the learned critics may be justly said to have sent their wits a wool-gathering in search of it. By card­ing his state, the usurper means that his predecessor set his consequence to hazard, played it away (as a man loses his fortune) at cards.

p. 366.

K. Hen.

The archbishops grace of York, Douglas, Mortimer, Capitulate against us and are up.

i. e. says mr. Steevens, make head against us. Rather combine, confederate, indent. To capitulate is To draw up any thing in heads or articles. Johnsons Dictionary.

These things, 'tis true, you have articulated.

p. 396.

He came but to be duke of Lancaster,
To sue his livery, and beg his peace.

[Page 96] To sue his livery, mr. Steevens says, is a law phrase, meaning to sue out the possession of his lands from the Court of Wards.

The Court of Wards did not exist till the 32d year of king Henry the Eighth; before which time Wardships were usually granted, as court-favours, to those who made suit for, and had interest enough to obtain them.

p. 403.

And being fed by us, you us'd us so,
As that ungentle gull, the cuckows bird,
Useth the sparrow.

That is, as dr. Johnson very learnedly observes, the cuckows chicken, who, says he, being hatched and fed by the sparrow [r. the hedge sparrow], in whose nest the cuckows egg was laid, grows in time able to devour his nurse.

Such, indeed, is the old popular superstition. But the curious reader will find the honour and reputation of the cuckow and her said chicken (so elegantly personifyed by the learned commentator) ably desended by the ingenious mr. Daines Barrington, in his late useful and entertaining Miscellany.


p. 417.

K. Hen.
Stay and breathe awhile:—
Thou hast redeem'd thy lost opinion.

Should we not read—my lost opinion?

p. 452.


And more, and less, do flock to follow him.

More and less, mr. Steevens says, means greater and less. Not in this place. It is, simply, large and small num­bers.

p. 458.


You hunt-counter, hence! avaunt!

Hunt-counter, says dr. Johnson, that is, blunderer. Ra­ther, you base tyke, you worthless dog. There can be no rea­son why Falstaff should call the servant a blunderer, but he seems very anxious to prove him a rascal. Mr. Steevenses quotations would have been more germane to the matter if they had exhibited hunt-counter as a substantive. For it is not impossible that, after all, the word may be found to signify a catchpole or bumbailif. He was, probably, the judge's tipstaff.

p. 459.

Very well, my lord, very well.

In the quarto edition, printed in 1600, this speech, mr. Theobald informs us, stands thus: Old. Very well, my lord, very well.’

Mr. Steevens still remains unconvin [...]ed, and adds that Old. MIGHT have been the beginning of some actors name. An ob­jection which would have served equally well, if the name of Oldcastle had, in that edition, stood at length, instead of Falstaff, throughout the whole play. The learned critics heterodoxical obduracy increases in proportion to the blaze of gospel evidence on the other side, which must enforce conviction upon every mind not predetermined to think otherwise.

p. 481.

Poins. — the worst that they can say of me is, that I am a second brother, and that I am a proper fellow of my hands; and these two things, I confess, I cannot help.

A tall or proper fellow of his hands, says dr. Johnson, was a stout fighting man.

In this place, however, a proper fellow of his hands, means a good looking, well made, personable man. Poins might certainly have helped his being a fighting fellow.

p. 511.

[On seeing the prince and Poins disguised as waiters.]

Ha! a bastard son of the king's? and art not thou Poins, his brother?

His brother! whose brother? the kings, or his bastard sons? Astonishing, that the editors did not perceive the absurdity of printing, or, at least, pointing the passage thus:

And art not thou Poins his brother (i. e. Poinses brother or brother to Poins)? a vulgar corruption of the genitive case!

p. 520.

K. Hen.

We would, dear lords, unto the Holy Land.

Dr. Johnson is very fond of giving the reader continual information, that the play proceeds in one unbroken tenor through the first edition,—that there is, therefor, no evi­dence that the division of the acts was made by the au­thour; and that, since, every editor has the same right to mark the intervals of action as the players who made the present distribution, he would propose, to change them so and so.

[Page 99] When a division has been made by mr. Rowe [...] any of his successors, an editor has certainly a good right, to change it, if he can, for the better. But there is little room to doubt that the pauses of action marked in the first folio have been intended, or, at least, approved by the au­thor. The player editors divided the different dramas just as they were broken in the representation. And, most, if not all, of Shakspeares plays having been performed at his own theatre, and under his own eye, it is very improbable that he should not have given directions about the division of the acts. If there had been no distinction of acts in the playhouse copies, messieurs Hemings and Condell would never have troubled their heads about the matter. No edi­tor has therefor any right to alter that division which is established by the two first folios: unless in two or three places where the misplacing of the actus is too glaringly absurd to admit a doubt of its impropriety.

p. 521.


— Will Squele a Cotswold man.

i. e. says mr. Steevens, one versed in the gymnastic ex­ercises, and consequently of a daring spirit, and an athletic constitution. I suppose, continues he, the following pas­sage contains an allusion of the same kind:

By my faith ye are wont to be as bold
As yt were a lyon of Cottyswold.

Again: ‘You old stale ruffin, you lyon of Cotsoll.

It is rather unlucky that the ingenious commentator did not comprehend the force of this expression. A lyon of Cots­wold is a sheep.

p. 523.


The same sir John.....I saw him break Skogans head at the court gate.

[Page 100] Who Scogan was, mr. Steevens says, may be understood from a passage in the Fortunate Isles, a masque by Ben Jonson.

Scogan? what was he?
Oh, a fine gentleman, and a master of arts,
Of Henry the Fourths time that made disguises
For the kings sons, and writ in ballad royal
Daintily well, &c.

And adds, that among the works of Chaucer is a poem called, "Scogan, unto the lordes and gentilmen of the king's house."

But this is not the Scogan alluded to by Shallow. He means the Scogan who was a jester, mime, mimic, or court-fool in Edward the Fourths reign. Mr. Steevens knows Scogans Jes [...]s. That is the man. As to the point of chronology, it is not worth consideration.

p. 530.


For you, Mouldy, stay at home till you are past service.

Dr. Farmer seems right in his conjecture that this pas­sage should be read: ‘For you, Mouldy, you have stay'd at home 'till you are past service.’

The same ingenious and learned critic (whom every lover of hakspeare, literature, and truth must always regard with the utmost gratitude and respect) observes that there is some mistake in the number of recruits: Shallow says, that Fal­staff should have four there, but he appears to get but three: Wart, Shadow, and Feeble.—It is very true.—Falstaff, on his entrance, asks the justices if they have provided him half a dozen sufficient men. Shal [...]ow answers in the affirma­tive. But onely five are produced. And, when Falstaff [Page 101]says, Is here all? Shallow tells him, there is two more called than your number, you must have but four here. So that there is certainly a man missing. Is this now irretrieveable loss to be charged upon Shakspeare, or the players?

p. 581.


— Yea, marry, William cook, bid him come hither.

It appears from this instance, mr. Steevens thinks, that anciently the lower orders of people had no surnames, but in their stead were content to adopt the titles of their seve­ral professions. An inserence and conclusion which may with equal justice and propriety be made by some critic, commenting, a couple of centuries hence, upon the dramatic pieces of the present period, on meeting with the titles of Robin coachman, and John hosteler.

p. 588.

Ch. Just.

And struck me in the very seat of judgment.

Sir John Hawkins subjoins an account of the insult given to the speaker by prince Henry, from Sir Thomas Elyot. But mr. Malone observes that there is no mention in it of the princes having struck him. "Speed, however," adds he, "who quotes Elyot, says, on I know not what authority, that the prince gave the judge a blow on the face." That this most learned gentleman may, for the future, know on what authority Speed made the assertion, he has an opportunity to peruse the following extract.

"For imprisonmente of one of his [prince Henrys] wanton mates and vnthriftie plaifaiers he strake the chiefe Justice with his fiste on the face. For which offence he was not onely committed to streyght prison, but also of his fa­ther put out of the preuy counsaill and banished the courte." [Page 102]Hall, Hen. IV. It is more than probable that Hollinshed has the same story; and the commentator might have like­wise found it,—where Shakspeare did,—in the old anony­mous play.

p. 597.


Do me right, and dub me knight; Saningo.—Is't not so?

He means, according to Hanmer, to say San Domingo. An observation highly applauded by the reverend mr. Thomas Warton, who is, to be sure, from his extraordi­nary skill in the tongues, perfectly well qualifyed to judge of its propriety. But the truth is, that the Spaniards, though they use San Pedro, San Juan, never either write or say San Tomas, or San Domingo. Mr. Steevens has very happyly quoted an old catch, ending:

— do me right,
And dub me knight,

Which is the identical scrap that Silence is singing; he therefor certainly means to say Domingo; but, being fap (as Bardolph hath it), conclusions pass the careires.



p. 18.

— the lady Lingare
Daughter to Charlemain, who was the son
To Lewis the emperor, and Lewis the son
Of Charles the great.

But Charlemain and Charles the Great were one and the same person. Charlechauve was indeed the son of Lewis the emperor: but who the lady Lingare was hath not been discovered. Shakspeare, however, gives the information just as he found it in Hall and Hollinshed.


— also king Lewis the ninth
Who was sole heir to the usurper Capet,
Could not keep quiet in his conscience,
Wearing the crown of France, till satisfy'd
That fair queen Isabel, his grandmother
Was lineal of the lady Ermengare
Daughter to Charles the foresaid duke of Lorain.

The worth ninth has been inserted by some of the mo­dern editors. The old copies read tenth. No notice is, how­ever, taken of any variation in the margin of the present edition. And yet, ninth is certainly wrong, and tenth cer­tainly right. Isabel was the wife of Philip the Second, father of Lewis the Ninth, and grandfather of Lewis the Tenth.

p. 20.

K. Hen.

May I, with right and conscience, make this claim?


The sin upon my head, dread sovereign!

Notwithstanding the learned prelate is so confident in his opinion, and so zealous to engage the king in a war with France, and to cause such a deluge of Christian blood, it will not be improper for the readers of this play to reflect, that he had no more right to the throne of that kingdom, than Charles VI. had to the crown of England. Henry proposes the invasion and conquest of France in prosecu­cution of the dying advice of the usurping Machiavel his father:

— to busy giddy minds
With foreign quartels; that action, thence borne out,
Might waste the memory of the former days.

That his subjects might have sufficient employment to mislead their attention from the nakedness of his own title. The archibishop and clergy, it appears, had a similar rea­son for urging it.

p. 29.

K. Hen.
We never valu'd this poor seat of England;
And, therefore, living hence, did give ourself
To barbarous licence; as 'tis ever common;
That men are merriest when they are from home.
But tell the Dauphin,—I will keep my state;
Be like a king, and shew my sail of greatness,
When I do rouse me in my throne of France.

It is evident that the word hence implies here: Sir Tho­mas Hanmer was, however, to blame for making it so. No one who reads Shakspeare, or, indeed, any other old writer, can be ignorant in what strangely lax and arbitrary senses [Page 105]many other words are used. The king says, that as he had lived from home (i. e. his throne of France), in a place he did not esteem, he had been careless to observe the dignity and behaviour of a great king.

Dr. Warburton explains it to be, living as if he were ab­sent from England; mr. Steevens, with-drawing from court.

p. 35.


Good morrow, lieutenant Bardolph.

It would be some satisfaction to learn how Bardolph ac­quired his commission; he was no more than Falstaffs cor­poral when we last parted with him: and in act II. scene ii. Nym addresses him by the same title; which, mr. Steevens there says, is a mistake for lieutenant. That gentleman, therefor, is, perhaps, able to give the desired information.

p. 36.


— when time shall serve, there shall be smiles.

Dr. Warburton suspects smiles to have been a stage di­rection. Mr. Steevens explains it thus:—he should be merry even though he were to lose Pistols friendship; or, that his face would be ready with a smile as often as occa­sion should call one out into service, though Pistol, who had excited so many, was no longer near him. It is not always an easy matter to discover the humour of Nyms ex­pressions, but, from the tenour of his discourse, one would think he meant, that, when opportunity came, he would take a pleasant revenge; that he would, when he caught Pistol sleeping, cut his throat, and smile.

p. 38.


Good lieutenant, good corporal, offer nothing here.

[Page 106] Mr. Steevens observes, we should read—Good ancient, for it is Pistol to whom he addresses himself. It is very true; and what is Pistol? Falstaff, whom one may sup­pose to have been at least as well acquainted with his rank as the ingenious commenator can be, has already ad­dressed him by the same title: ‘"Fear no colours; go with me to dinner. Come, lieutenant Pistol; come, Bardolph."’ And, in act III. of the present play, Fluellen calls him —an ancient lieutenant.



Pish for thee, Iceland dog! thou prick-ear'd cur of Iceland!

The old reading was Island; and Island seems to be right. It is the proper name of the country. The difficulty arose from the commentators not understanding the right pro­nunciation. And it may be here observed, in passing, that the common English word should be always written iland; the s being not only expletive and useless, but unnatural and absurd. The same observation will apply to the word viscount, unless it should be thought better to write and pronounce it vicecount.

p. 53.


— his nose was as sharp as a pen, and 'a babbled of green fields.

Here is a number of profound annotations on this pas­sage, of which the use is not very apparent. That note of Theobalds, which, dr. Johnson affects to say, he omits in pity to his readers, is not onely a better but a more interest­ing one than any in the page; and was peculiarly neces­sary, as it established the adopted reading. A mr. Smith seems to write with a good deal of confidence; why do not [Page 107]we meet him oftener? or, rather, why have we met him at all?

p. 58.


Let housewif'ry appear; keep close, I thee command.

Mr. Steevens (whose note on this passage it would not be proper to transcribe) has elsewhere observed, that, on some occasions, silence is less reprehensible than information; and it would, perhaps, have been as well, if he had still continued of the same opinion, and omitted to acquaint us with the indecent reading of the old quartos, and spared his equally indecent quotations and comments; more espe­cially as every reader, ignorant of this precious piece of in­formation, would take the text, to imply (as it does) no more than a charge to keep within doors: and, further, as it doth not appear, on looking into Philotus, that the word adduced by the learned commentator, either has, or can, by the utmost stretch of ingenuity, be made to bear, in that play, any such meaning as he here seems so desirous of forcing upon it.

p. 64.

He'll call you to so hot an answer for it,
That caves and womby vaultages of France
Shall chide your trespass.

"Shall hide your trespass,—] Mr. Pope rightly corrected it, Shall chide—WARBURTON."

"I doubt whether it be rightly corrected. The mean­ing is that the authors of this insult shall fly to caves for refuge. JOHNSON."

"Mr. Pope restored chide from the quarto. I have therefore inserted it in the the text.....STEEVENS."

[Page 108] All these gentlemen have boasted of their fidelity and care in collating the old editions. The two first cannot at present be spoke with. But one may, surely, venture to ask dr. Johnson and mr. Steevens, what the folios read?

p. 70.


— Up to the preaches, you rascals! will you not up to the preaches?


Be merciful, great duke, to men of mould!

Great duke! what duke? Fluellen? Indeed his grace is infinitely obliged to the generosity of our editorial Brentford Sovereigns, for the honour they have been so graciously pleased to confer upon him. A Welsh captain created a duke! Good! It is not fit, however, that Shak­speares dignities should be thus prostituted at the mere motion and special grace of every usurper. Perhaps the next Phys or Ush that obtrudes hisself upon the dramatic throne may take it into his head to create ancient Pistol a viscount. But the peerage of Shakspeare must not be so degraded. We shall, therefor, forthwith institute an enquiry into the disposal of the above dukedom.

Up to the preaches, &c.] Thus, says mr. Steevens, the 4to. The folio, adds he, reads up to the breach you dogges, avaunt you cullions. But neither does this variation lessen the ab­surdity of Pistols calling Fluel'en a duke.

The quart [...] reads Flucilens speech as in the text, and Nym answers him thus: ‘Abate thy rage, sweet knight, abate thy rage.’ No mention is made of any duke.

The fact is, that, in the folio, it is the duke of Exeter, and not Eluellen, who enters, and to whom Pistol addresses hisself. Shakspeare had made the alteration, and the [Page 109]player editors inserted it in the text, but, inadvertently, left Fluellen in possession of the margin. This was an incon­gruity which might, one would think, have been easyly per­ceived and quickly remedyed, but the present editors, by taking Fluellens speech from the quarto, and Pistols from the folio, have increased the confusion and absurdity of the text a thousand fold; and thus it has come to pass that the former is created a duke.

If such like kings be fit to govern, speak.

p. 85.


— Fortune is painted plind, &c.

This picture of Fortune, dr. Farmer tells us, is taken from the old history of Fortunatus. But is dr. Farmer quite certain that this history had made its appearance in an Eng­lish dress so early as Shakspeares time? Surely Fortune is painted plind in many other books, much more ancient, and equally common.

p. 87.


Die and be damn'd: and figo for thy friendship!—The fig of Spain!

An allusion, mr. Steevens observes, to the custom of giving poison'd figs to those who were the objects of Spa­nish or Italian revenge. But the expression both here and afterwards is evidently used by Pistol as a term of contempt; and cannot have any relation either to poisoning or to re­venge. Whether to the fico, indeed, explained in the Merry Wives of Windsor, may be doubtful.

p. 103.

— The poor condemned English
Sit patiently, and inly ruminate
The morning danger; and their gesture sad
Presented them unto the gazing moon
So many horrid ghosts.

We must certainly read Presenteth.

p. 110.


— Some, crying for a surgeon, &c. some, upon their children rawly left.

That is, says dr. Johnson, without preparation, hastily suddenly. He is wrong. Rawly left is, left young and helpless.

p. 116.

K. Henry.
O God of battles! steel my soldiers hearts!
Possess them not with fear; take from them now
The sense of reckoning, if the opposed numbers
Pluck their hearts from them!

The old copies read:

— take from them now
The sense of reck'ning of th' opposed numbers;
Pluck their hearts from them!

The poet, says Theobald, might intend, "take from them the sense of reckoning those opposed numbers; which might pluck their courage from them." But the relative, adds he, not being expressed, the sense is very obscure.

This change, according to dr. Johnson, is rightly ad­mitted by bishop Warburton. Sir Thomas Hanmer, it seems, reads:

— the opposed numbers
Which stand before them.

This reading, dr. Johnson says, he borrowed from the old quarto, which gives the passage thus:

Take from them now the sense of reckoning,
That the opposed multitudes that stand before them
May not appall their courage.

Mr. Tyrwhitt allows that Theobalds alteration makes a very good sense; but he thinks that we might read, with [Page 111]less deviation from the old edition, what is adopted in the present text.

After all, the old reading appears to be right; though none of the commentators has attempted to explain it. The king prays that his men may be unable to reckon the enemys force; that their hearts (i. e. their sense and pas­sions) may be taken from them: that they may be as brave as a total absence of all feeling and reflection can make them 14. An explanation which seems to be countenanced by the old 4to.

A learned friend inclines to think that, by—their hearts, the king means the hearts of the opposed numbers.

p. 117.

K. Hen.
—More will I do;
Though all that I can do, is nothing worth;
Since that my penitence comes after all,
Imploring pardon.

This reading is certainly right, though not properly ex­plained by dr. Johnson. It is simply thus:—All that I can do is of no avail; since, when I have done every thing I can, I must still rely on my own penitence for obtaining the pardon of my fathers misdeeds. The first part of dr. Warburtons note is singularly just. It is, indeed, a mockery of Heaven in Henry to expect pardon for a crime of which he continued to enjoy the benefit. And, certainly, if ever the divine judgement ought to have interfered, or did actually interfere in visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children, it was in this very case of the house of Lancaster.

p. 129.


Yield, cur.

Fr. Sol.

Je pense, que vous efles le gentilhomme de bonne qualité.


Quality, call you me? Construe me, art thou a gentle­man?

The old and evidently true reading is, quality, (calmie) calmly, (custure) construe me. The alteration was, it seems, proposed by mr. Edwards; and has been too hastyly adopted. For if it be not nonsense, it is very little better. Pistol, who does not understand French, imagines the pri­soner to be speaking of his own quality. The line should, therefor, have been given thus: ‘Quality!—calmly; construe me, art thou a gentleman?’

p. 133.


neantmoins, pour les escus que vous l'avez promettez, &c.

It is strange enough that the editors should print this nonsense for French. The first folio reads, layt a promets. But the second gives it correctly,—lui promettez.

p. 145.


Stand away captain Gower; I will give treason his pay­ment into plows, I warrant you.

The Revisal, very plausibly, according to dr. Johnson, reads, in two plows. Mr. Steevens would rather prefer, in due plows. But what need of alteration? The Scotish, both in speaking and in writing, frequently use into for in. However, if it should still be thought necessary to amend the text, the readyest way would be to omit a syllable, and read—in plows.

p. 146.

K. Henry.

Give me thy glove, soldier; look, here is the fellow of it.

[Page 113] It must be, says dr. Johnson, give me my glove; for of the soldiers glove the king had not the fellow. The passage is, notwithstanding, like most of those the doctor objects to, perfectly right. Give me thy glove, soidier, i. e. that which thou hast in thy cap; and of that the king had cer­tainly the fellow.

p. 161.

K. Henry.

— such a plain king—

"I know not," says dr. Johnson, "why Shakspeare now gives the king nearly such a character as he made him for­merly ridicule in Percy." It would be much less difficult for the reader to remove the cause of the learned commen­tators ignorance, than it would be for him to point out the passage in which Percy is ridiculed.


p. 210.

Am sure, I scar'd the dauphin, and his trull.

Mr. Steevens believes that trull did not anciently bear so harsh an interpretation as it does at present. An opinion for which the learned commentator does not seem to have suf­ficient authority. In Shakspeares time, and long before, it signifyed a strumpet, a harlot, as it evidently does in the text. Neither will the single instance brought by mr. [Page 114]Steevens prove the contrary. In the ancient morality of The iiij elements, a fellow says:

For to satisfy your wanton lust
I shall apoynt you a trull of trust,
Nor a fairer in this towne.

Again, in the old mayg [...]me of Robin Hode: ‘She is a trul of trust, to ferve a fryer at his lust.’

It is to be regretted that Shakspeare should have so far fol­lowed the absurd and lying stories of his time, about this celebrated heroine, whom the French called the maid of God, as to represent her not onely a strumpet, but a witch. If we may believe the most authentic historians she was no less distinguished for virtue than courage. She was burnt, indeed, by the barbarous English, whom she had so fre­quently driven before her, and who, to excuse their want of courage or policy, and to justify their inhumanity, pre­tended that she had dealt with the devil! But her memory will, no doubt, be long held in deserved veneration by her grateful countrymen, whom she so largely contributed to rescue from usurpation and slavery. And it is not the least praise of our elegant historian, mr. Hume, that he has en­deavoured to do justice to the much injured character of this amiable, brave, wise, and patriotic female.

The dauphin, too, whom we are apt to look upon as a traitor, a coward, and a scoundrel, was, perhaps, the greatest character of the age he lived in. He was one of the best kings France ever had, and England never had a better.

p. 218.

Pla [...]t.

He bears him on the place's privilege.

"The Temple," dr. Johnson observes, "being a reli­ [...], was an asvlum, a place of exemption, from [...], revenge, and bloodshed."

[Page 115] The learned commentator deals more in words than in knowlege. The Temple was then, as it is now, the re­sidence of students in the law. And it is not unlikely that the orders of the society prohibited quarreling and blows under certain penalties.

p. 220.

A room in the Tower. Enter Mortimer, brought in a chair, and jailors.

Mr. Edwards, in his MS. notes, says mr. Steevens, ob­serves, that Shakspeare has varyed from the truth of his­tory, to introduce this scene between Mortimer and Richard Plantagenet. Edmund Mortimer served under Henry V. in 1422, and dyed unconfined in Ireland in 1424.

The truth of this charge should have been established by some better authority than the dictum of mr. Edwards, adopted by mr. Steevens. In the third year of Henry the sixth (1425), and during the time that Peter duke of Coimbra was entertained in London, "Edmonde Mortymer," says Hall, "the last erle of Marche of that name (which longe tyme had bene restrayned frō hys liberty, and fynally waxed lame) disceased wythout yssue, whose inheritance discended to lord Richard Plantagenet, &c."

This authority, even if the fact were otherwise, is suf­ficient to protect Shakspeare against the charge of having varyed from the truth of history to introduce the scene.

p. 243.

K. Hen.
When I was young, (as yet I am not old)
I do remember how my father said
A stouter champion never handled sword

[Page 116] His majesty must have had a fine sprag memory, as sir Hugh Evans says, since he frequently, in the course of the play, mentions his having been crowned at nine months old.

p. 251.

My lord of York, I promise you, the king
Prettily methought, did play the orator.
And so he did; but yet I like it not,
In that he wears the badge of Somerset.
Tush, that was but his fancy, blame him not;
I dare presume, sweet prince, he thought no harm.
And, if I wist he did—But let it rest;
Other affairs must now be managed.
Well didst thou, Richard, to suppress thy voice;
For had the passions of thy hearst burst out,
I fear we should have seen decypher'd there
More ranccrous spight, more furious raging broils,
Than yet can be imagin'd or suppos'd.

Theobald, who thought that, by what he calls the point­ing reform'd (i. e. corrupted), he had restored the text to its purity, reads,—And if I wis, he did—Nay, if I know any thing, he did think harm. Dr. Johnson thought this plau­sible enough, but would rather have the speech (corrupted further) broken thus:—And if—I wish—he did, or, per­haps: And if he did, I wish. Such nonsense as no one but dr. Johnson would have been confident enough to pro­duce; and which not even dr. Johnson could understand. To mr. Steevens we are certainly indebted for a very useful additional letter; the old copies, onely reading I wis. But it is really astonishing that men of so much learn­ing, sense, and sagacity, for they certainly have in many places displayed a great deal of each, should so grossly misconceive the meaning of so plain and simple a passage. York says, he is not pleased that the king should prefer [Page 117]the red rose, the badge of Somerset, his enemy; Warwick desires him not to be offended at it, as he dares say the king meant no harm. To which York, yet unsatisfyed, hastyly adds, in a menacing tone,—If I thought he did —but he instantly checks his threat with—let it rest. It is an example of a rhetorical figure which every one knows, and which our author has elsewhere used. Thus, in Co­riolanus:

An 'twere to give again—But 'tis no matter.

Mr. Steevens is too familiar with Virgil not to recollect his Quos ego—Sed motos praes [...]at componere fluctus.

If the passage would not have explained itsself, one should think that Exeters soliloquy, immediately following Yorks speech, might have served to do it.

It is but justice to say that the truely ingenious author of the Revisal understood this passage in the same manner; and the neglect he has received at the hands of the late editors who have made little other use of his book than merely to pick out a few conjectures to cavil at, does no more credit to them, than it has done service to their author.

p. 255.


And I am lowted by a traytor villain.

A lout is a country fellow, a clown. He means that So­merset treats him like a hind. Dr. Johnson had better let such words alone, as he does not understand. Lowted, in his dictionary, is overpowered.


p. 318.

The duke yet lives that Henry shall depose,
But him out live and die a violent death.

The meaning of this perplexed and aenigmatical reply seems to be: The duke is living who shall depose the king; but the king shall outlive him, and dye by vio­lence. The plain construction is: the duke shall depose Henry, but shall outlive him, and dye a violent death;— which was not the case.

p. 326.

— being call'd
A hundred times, and oftner, in my sleep,
By good Saint Alban; who said,—Saunder come.

Instead of Saunder the old copies have Simon: mr. Theo­bald made the change, as Saunder, elsewhere, appears to be the impostors Christian name. Correction is certainly necessary: but it would seem better to read Simpcox; for which Sim has, in all probability, been put by contraction in the players MS.

p. 331.

— give me leave,
In this close walk, to satisfy myself,
In craving your opinion of my title,
Which is infallible, to Englands crown.

[Page 119] "I know not well," says dr. Johnson, "whether he means the opinion or the title is infallible." Does the learned commentator, whose knowlege and want of know­lege seem equally serviceable to Shakspeare, imagine that any other person could have conceived such a doubt, or would have written such a note?

p. 332.

This Edmund, in the reign of Bolingbroke,
As I have read, laid claim unto the crown;
And, but for Owen Glendower, had been king,
Who kept him in captivity, till he dy'd.

This is very extraordinary. In act II. scene v. of the last play, York, to whom this is spoken, is present at the death of Edmund Mortimer in prison; and the reader will recollect him to have been marryed to Owen Glendowers daughter in the First part of king Henry IV. Is it possible that the authors memory should have so much deceived him that he could not remember in one play what he had already written in another?

p. 335.

Q. Mar.
— two pulls at once,
His lady banish'd, and a limb lopp'd off.
This staff of honour raught:—There let it stand.

The word raught seems to have some other meaning in this place, than reached; e. g. reft, or violently torn from him. The point at the end of the second line should be a comma. The limb lopp'd off certainly alludes to the loss of his office. The full stop should be after raught.

p. 348.


My lord, these faults are easy, quickly answer'd.

[Page 120] Easy, dr. Johnson says, is slight, inconfiderable, as in other passages of this author. It would have been well to have produced one or two of those other passages; but that, perhaps, might have been difficult. The word, no doubt, means easyly.

p. 353.

— that is good deceit,
Which mates him first, that first intends deceit.

Mates him, says bishop Percy, means—that first puts an end to his moving. To mate, adds he, is a term in chess, used when the king is stopped from moving, and an end put to the game. The learned prelate follows Dog­berrys advice, and lets his writing and reading appear when there is no need of such vanity. Mates him, in the text, means—confounds him; from amatir or mater, French. To mate is no term in chefs; with which one would have sup­posed the ingenious annotator more intimate. Check-mate, the term he alludes to, is a corruption of the Persian Schah mat; the king is killed. There can be no better evidence that Shakspeare was entirely unacquainted with the game of chess than his not having (at least to the writers remem­brance) the most distant allusion to it. As he does not appear to have read a single book, or known a single art or science, or, indeed, any thing else, from which he did not, some how or other, contrive to introduce into his plays all the information, images, or ideas they had supplyed him with. Chess would have been an inexhaustible fund: and kings and warriors would have been check-mated in every play.

p. 359.

K. Henry.

I thank thee: Well, these words content me much.

The old copies read: ‘I thank thee, Nell, these words content me much.’

[Page 121] This, says mr. Theobald, is king Henrys reply to his wife Margaret. There can be no reason, adds he, why the king should forget his own wises name, and call her Nell instead of Margaret. As the change of a single letter, he thought, set all right, he was willing to suppose it came from his pen thus: ‘I thank thee. Well, these words content me much.’ And this the editors have adopted without further en­quiry. That the queens name was Margaret and not Eleanor is an allowed fact. But that the king should for­get it is not at all surprising, as, in the progress of the scene, we find, that she forgets it herself, calling herself Eleanor no less than three times in one speech. Of this, however, it should seem that mr. Theobald has not taken any notice: at least none is taken of it in this edition, which every where reads Margaret. The change in the three instances alluded to was certainly requisite: and the same necessity and the same reasoning which displaced Eleanor and inserted Margaret, must, in the passage under consideration, displace Nell and insert Meg.

p. 376.


Obscure and lowly swain, king Henrys blood.

The quarto, mr. Steevens observes, reads lowsy swain. From which we are, doubtless, to infer that the present edition agrees with the folio. But, unfortunately for the inference, the folio does not differ from the quarto.

p. 382.


Than Bargulus, the strong Illyrian pirate.

Mr. Tollet is accurate in his reference to Co [...]grave; but Co [...]grave is mistaken. The name of the giant alluded to [Page 122]was Fierabras. Cotgrave had somewhere found ce fierabras, which he supposed to have been three words, ce fier Abras. Don Quixotes miraculous elixir was the balsam of Fie­rabras.

p. 392.


The Lent shall be as long again as it is, &c.

Lent shall be as long as it is—] Methinks, says dr. John­son, it might be read more humorously, Lent shall be as long again as it is.

"This emendation, thus impressed with all the power of his eloquence, 'dr. Johnson' found in the" old quarto and two first folios, all "which he professes to have seen" 15

p. 412.


Iden farewell; and be proud of thy victory: tell Kent from me, she hath lost her best man, and exhort all the world to be cowards; for I that never fear'd any, am vanquish'd by famine, not by valour.


How much thou wrong'st me, heaven be my judge.

That is, says dr. Johnson, in supposing that I am proud of my victory. Certainly not; because Cade does not tell him he is proud of his victory, but onely bids him be so. He wrongs him in attributing his own death to famine, and not to Idens valour.

p. 413.

Fields near Saint Albans.] But why Saint Albans? Hall, who, it may be supposed, knew as much about the matter as the editors, and Hollinshed after him, expressly says, that the duke of York was encamped on "brēt-heath a mile from Dertford [in Kent] and .x. miles from Londō;" and that the kings army lay upon Blackheath. And there is no reason to believe that Shakspeare meant, in this in­stance, at least, to deviate from the history; though he has certainly so, either by inadvertency or design, in making Buckingham the messenger: he was, indeed, sent to York, on a different occasion (i. e. immediately before the battle of Saint Albans); but the bishops of Winchester and Ely were the ambassadors on this.

p. 418.

Call hither to the stake my two brave bears;
Bid Salisbury and Warwick come to me.

"The Nevils, earls of Warwick," says sir John Haw­kins, "had a bear and a ragged staff for their cognizance, but the Talbots who were formerly earls of Shrewsbury, had a lion; and the present earl of Talbot, a descendant of that family, has the same."

All this, sir John Hawkins, may be very true, but will you just give us leave to ask—what it is to the purpose?


p. 432.

Lord Clifford, and lord Stafford all abreast,
Charg'd our main battles front, and, breaking in,
Were by the swords of common soldiers slain.

It is the more extraordinary that York should be made to say this, as in the last scene but one of the immediately preceding play, he kills Clifford upon the stage, with his own hand.

p. 437.

K. Henry.
Richard, in the view of many lords,
Resign'd the crown to Henry the Fourth.
He rose against him, being his sovereign,
And made him to resign the crown perforce.
Suppose, my lords, he did it unconstrain'd,
Think you, 'twere prejudicial to the crown?
No, for he could not so resign the crown,
But that the next heir should succeed and reign.

Dr. Johnson thought we should rather read prejudicial to his son, to his next heir: which is strangely absurd. Mr. Steevens says prejudicial to the crown means to the prerogative of the crown; an exposition in which he is certainly right, if, by prerogative of the crown, he mean, its indefeasible here­ditary descent. The reader will recollect that this was a Revolution parliament, though diametrically opposite in its principles and practice to one Shakspeare never heard of; which, unhappyly for this country! contributed as much to destroy the constittuion, as that he here describes did to preserve it.

p. 445.

The queen, with all the northern earls and lords,
Intend here to besiege you in your castle.

This intelligence is given to York just after he has de­termined, from the arguments of his sons Edward and Richard, to break his oath of peace to the king, and obtain immediate possession of the crown by force.

"I know not," says dr. Johnson, "whether the au­thor intended any moral instruction, but he that reads this has a striking admonition against that precipitancy by which men often use unlawful means to do that which a little de­lay would put honestly in their power. Had York staid but a few moments, he had saved his cause from the stain of perjury."

It will be no more than justice to York if we recollect that this scene, so far as respects the oath, and his resolu­tion to break it, proceeds entirely from the authors imagi­nation. Neither the earl of March nor Richard was then at Sandal: the latter being likewise a mere child, scarcely more than (if, indeed, so much as) nine years old. His appearance, therefor, and actions in this and the last acts of the present, and, at least, the two first of the following play, are totally unsupported by history and truth.

p. 446.

Enter Rutland, and his tutor.]
"A priest called sir R [...] ­bert Aspall."
Hall, Hen. VI. fo. 99.

p. 448.


I never did thee harm, why wilt thou slay me?


Thy father hath.


But 'twas ere I was born.

[Page 126] Rutland is under a mistake. The battle of St. Albans, in which old Clifford was slain, happened in 1455; that of Wakefield in 1460. He appears to have been at this time above seventeen years old.

p. 453.


Oh, tygres heart, wrapp'd in a womans hide.

This is a remarkable instance of the editors diffidence, The word appears in the same shape in the old editions; and the present editors, not knowing whether it was in­tended for tygers or tygress's, durst not venture to change it, and have therefor left it as they found it. We should, however, certainly read tygress.'

p. 462.


— when came George from Burgundy to England?

— he was lately sent
From your kind aunt, duchess of Burgundy,
With aid of soldiers to this needful war.

This circumstance is not warranted by history. Clarence and Gloucester (as they were afterwards created) were sent into Flanders immediately after the battle of Wakefield, and did not return untill their brother Edward got posses­sion of the crown. Besides, Clarence was not now more than twelve years old.

Isabel dutchess of Burgundy, whom Shakspeare calls the dukes aunt, was daughter of John I. king of Portugal, by Philippa of Lancaster, eldest daughter of John of Gaunt. They were, therefor, no more than third cousins.

p. 469. 470.


Whoever got thee there thy mother stands.



Iron of Naples, hid with English gilt.

[Page 127] The first of these speeches is, in the folios, by an evident blunder, given to Warwick. The latter, which is there given to Richard, seems more properly to belong to War­wick.

p. 473.

A field of battle, at Ferrybridge in Yorkshire.] We should read near Towton, Shakspeare has here, perhaps inten­tionally, thrown three different actions into one. The lord Fitz-water, being stationed by king Edward to defend the pass of Ferrybridge, was assaulted by the lord Clifford, and immediately slain, "and with hym," says Hall, "the hastard of Salisbury, brother to the earl of Warwycke, a valeaunt yong gen [...]elman, and of great audicitie. When the earl of Warwycke," adds he, "was informed of this seate, he lyke a man desperated, mounted on his hackeney, and came blowing to kyng Edwarde saiyng: syr I praye God haue mercy of their soules, which in the beginning of your enterprise hath lost their lyfes, and because I se no succors of the world I remit the vengeaunce and punish­ment to God our creator and redenier, and with that lighted doune, and slewe his horse with his swourde, saiyng: let them flye that wyl, for surely I wil tary with him that wil tary with me, and kissed the crosse of his swourde." Clifford in his retreat was beset with a party of Yorkists, when, "eyther," says the historian, "for heat or payne putting off his gerget sodainly with an arrowe (as some say) without an hedde [he] was striken into the throte, and incontinent rendered his spirite, and the erle of Westmerlandes brother, and almost all his company were thare slayn, at a place called Dinting-dale, not farr frō Towton." In the afternoon of the next day (Palm Sunday eve, 1461), on a plain field between Towton and Saxton, joined the main battles, [Page 128]which continued engaged that night and the greater part of the following day: upwards of 30,000 men, all English (including many of the nobility and the flower of the gentry, especially of the northern parts) being slain, on both sides. This battle, says Carte, "decided the fate of the house of Lancaster, overturning, in one day, an usurpation strengthened by sixty-two years continuance: and esta­blished Edward on the throne of England."

p. 489.

A wood in Lancashire.]
Why Lancashlre? The king says,
From Scotland am I stol'n, even of pure love,
To greet mine own land with my wishful sight.

Which proves that he can neither have been long out of the former country, nor have got far into the latte. In­deed, that this was the fact appears from Hall, who tells us: "He was no sooner entered, but he was knowen and taken of one Cantlow, and brought towarde the kyng." A future editor will, therefor, do well to read Northhum­berland.

p. 499.

And yet, between my souls desire and me.
(The lustful Edwards title buried)
Is Clarence, Henry, and his son young Edward,
And all th' unlook'd for issue of their bedies,
To take their fooms ere I can place myself.

Gloucester seems onely to enumerate the branches of the house of Lancaster from his natural desire to have a spe­cious pretence for the murders he intended to commit. Henry and his son and their unlcok'd for issue could no more [Page 129](of right) place theirselves between Clarence and him than between Edward and Clarence.

p. 504.

Enter Warwick (at the French court).] This noble­mans embassy and commission, the insult he receives by the kings hasty marriage, and his consequent resolu­tion to avenge it, with the capture, imprisonment, and escape of the king, Shakspeare, it is true, found in Hall and Hollinshed; but later, as well as earlyer writers, of better authority, incline us to discredit the whole; and to refer the rupture between the king and his political creator to causes which have not reached posterity, or to that jealousy and ingratitude so natural, perhaps, to those who are under obligations too great to be discharged. Beneficia, says Tacitus, eo usque loeta sunt, dum videntur exsolvi posse; ubi multum antevenere, pro gratiâ odium red­ditur.

p. 541.

Somerset, Somerset, for Lancaster.!
Glo. Two of thy name, both dukes of Somerset,
Have sold their lives unto the house of York;
And thou shalt be the third, if this sword hold.

The first of these noblemen was Edmund, slain at the battle of St. Albans, 1455 (Part l. act v. scene ii.) The second was Henry his son, beheaded after the battle of Hex­ham, 1463. The present duke, Edmund, brother to Henry, was taken prisoner at Tewksbury, 1471, and there beheaded, (infra, scene v.) his brother John losing his life in the same fight.

[Page 130] A list of the several battles fought between the houses of York and Lancaster may, possibly, be thought no incu­rious addition to the notes on this play.

  • 1. The battle of St. Albans, between Richard duke of York and K. Henry; in which the latter was defeated and made pri­soner; 23d May 1455.
  • 2 The battle of Blore-heath (in Shropshire), between Richard carl of Salisbury (for York) and James lord Audley (for Lancaster); in which the latter was defeated and slain: 23d Septem. 1459.
  • 3. The battle of Northhampton, between the earls of March and W [...]rwick and king Henry; in which the king was again defeated and made prisoner: 10th July 1460.
  • 4. The battle of Wakefield, between Richard duke of York and queen Margaret; in which the former was defeated and slain 30th Decem. 1460.
  • 5. The battle of Mortimers cross, between Edward duke of York and Jasper earl of Pembroke; in which the latter was de­feated: ..... 1460.
  • 6. The (second) battle of St. Albans, between queen Mar­garet and the earl of Warwick; in which the latter was de­seated: (Shrove-Tuesday) 17th Feb. 1460.
  • 7. The [...] of Ferrybridge, between the lord Clifford (for Lancaster) and the lord Fitzwater (for York); in which the [...] was surprised and killed, Clifford and almost all his party being stain in their retreat: 28th March 1461.
  • 8. The battle of Towton, between king Edward and king Henry; in which the latter was deseated, and 36,000 were slain: (Paint-Sunday eve) 29th March 1961.
  • [Page 131] 9. The battle of Hedgeley-Moor (in Northhumberland), be­tween the lord Montacute (for York) and the lords Hunger­ford and Roos, sir Ralph Percy and others (for Lancaster); in which the Lancastrians were defeated, and Percy slain: 25th. April 1463.
  • 10. The battle of Hexham, between the lord Montacute and king Henry; in which the latter was defeated: 15th May 1463.
  • 11. The battle of Hedgecote (Banbury or Cotswold), between the earl of Pembroke (for king Edward) and the lords Fitz­hugh and Latimer and sir John Conyers (for the earl of Warwick, on the part of Lancaster); in which the former was defeated: 29th July 1469.
  • 13. The battle of Stamford (Lesecoatfield), between sir Ro­bert Wells (for Warwick) and king Edward; in which the former was defeated: ..... 1469.
  • 14. The battle of Barnet, between king Edward and the earl of Warwick; in which the latter was defeated and slain: (Easter-Sunday) 14th April 1471.
  • 15. The battle of Tewksbury, between king Edward and queen Margaret; in which the latter was defeated and made prisoner: 3d May 1471.



p. 30.


So just is God, to right the innocent.

"Q. Mar. So just is God, &c.] This line should be given to Edward IVth's queen. WARBURTON."

[Page 132] It is given to her in both folios. Where was the occa­sion for a note?

p. 33.

Q. Mar.

Why strew'st thou sugar on that bottled spider.

"A spider," says dr. Johnson, "is called bottled, be­cause, like other insects, he has a middle slender, and a belly protuberant."

A most rational and satisfactory explanation, — very little worse than none at all. A bottled spider is the large bloated spider with a deep black shining skin, generally esteemed the most venemous.

p. 34.

Q. Mar.
And turns the sun to shade;—alas! alas!
Witness my sun, now in the shade of death;
Whose bright out-shining beams thy cloudy wrath
Hath in eternal darkness folded up.

The folios read: ‘Witness my Sonne —’ Her distress cannot prevent her quibbling.

It may be here remarked that the introduction of Mar­garet in this place is against all historical evidence. She was ransomed and sent to France soon after Tewksbury fight, and there passed the remainder of her wretched life.

p. 61.

2 Cit.

Hear you the news abroad?

1 Cit.

Yes, that the king is dead.

2 Cit.

Ill news by'r lady; seldom comes a better.

This is noted by Ray as a proverbial saying.

p. 63.

Last night, I heard, they lay at Northampton;
At Stony-Stratford they do rest to-night.

Thus the present editors. The folio reads:

Last night I heard they lay at Stony-Stratford,
And at Northampton they do rest to-night.

Much to the metrical advantage, one would think, of the first line. But the gentlemen who took upon them to make the transposition (of which they have not, by the way, been pleased to give the slightest intimation) just knew that Stony-Stratford was a stage nearer London than North­hampton; and that was all. Had they condescended to consult the history, they would have found that the prince and his company did, in their way to London, actually lye at Stony-Stratford one night, and were the next morning taken back, by the duke of Gloucester, to North­hampton, where they lay the following night. See Hall. Ed. V. fo. 6.

p. 64.


A parlous boy:—Go to, you are too shrewd.


Good madam, be not angry with the child.

Parlous, mr. Steevens says, is shrewd. It is a corruption of perilous, dangerous; the sense it has here. The queen evidently means to chide him.

p. 65.


Who hath committed them?


The mighty dukes, Gloster and Buckingham.


For what offence?

[Page 134]
The sum of all I can, I have disclos'd;
Why, or for what, the nobles were committed,
Is all unknown to me, my gracious lady.

"For what offence?] The question is given to the arch­bishop in former copies, but the messenger plainly speaks to the queen or dutchess. JOHNSON."

The learned critic has therefor made the change. And thus are the words and meaning of Shakspeare altered, corrupted, and injured, through the indolence and presump­tion of his editors and commentators. The old editions not onely give the question to the archbishop, but make it plain that the messenger speaks to no other person. They read: ‘Is all unknown to me, my gracious lord.

p. 94.

Gle. Touch'd you the bastardy of Edwards children?

Buck. I did; with his contract with lady Lucy.

The king had been familiar with this lady before his mar­riage, to obstruct which his mother alledged a precontract between them; "whervpon," says the historian, "dame Elizabeth Lucye was sente for and albeit she was by the kyng hys mother and many other put in good comfort to affirme yt she was assured to the kynge, yet when she was solempny sworne to say yt truth she confessed she was ne [...]er ensured. Howbeit she sayd, his grace spake suche l [...]uing wordes to her, that she verely hoped that he would have maried her, and that yf such kynde woordes had not bone, she woulde neuer haue shewed such kindnesse to him, to lette hym so kyndely gette her wyth chylde." Hall. Ed. V. fo. 19.

p. 97.

Enter Gloster above, between two Bishops.] It should seem, mr. Steevens says, from a former passage that these two cler­gymen, here called bishops, were Dr. Shaw, and Friar Penker.

Gloucester tells Buckingham:

— you shall find me well accompanied,
With reverend fathers, and well learned bishops.

And Catesby has just informed him, that the duke is ‘— within, with two right reverend fathers:

i. e. the two bishops between whom he appears above, Dr. Shaw and friar Penker were the reverend fathers.

p. 115.

K. Rich. The son of Clarence have I pen'd up close.

In Sheriffhutton castle: where he remained till the com­ing of Henry VII. who, immediately after the battle of Bosworth, sent him to the Tower, and, some few years after, most treacherously and barbarously put him to death; being, from a total want of education and com­merce with mankind, so ignorant that he could not, ac­cording to Hall, discern a goose from a [...]apon. With this unfortunate young nobleman ended the male line of the illust [...]ious house of Plantagenet.

— his daughter meanly have I match'd in marriage.

To sir Richard Pole knight. This lady, at seventy years of age, without any legal process, and for no crime but her relation to the crown, was beheaded in the Tewer by that sanguinary tyrant Henry VIII. Her son lord Mon­tag [...] had been put to death a few [...] cars [...], in the same manner, and for the same crime. And the famous cardinal [Page 136]Pole, another of her children, onely escaped the fate of his mother and brother by keeping out of the butchers reach.

p. 132.

Heaven's wrong is most of all.—
If thou hadst fear'd to break an oath by him.

"Thus all the old copies. The modern ones read: ‘— with Heaven.

I have restored the old reading, because him (the ob­lique case of he) was anciently used for it, in a neutral sense. STEEVENS."

The restoration was certainly just, though it is very doubtful that the reason here given in support of it is so. The truth is that Shakspeare makes Heaven a person.

p. 136.

K. Rich.
What heir of York is there alive, but we?

What heir of York; i. e. What son of Richard duke of York?

p. 149.

O Thou! whose captain I account myself, &c.

They who read Halls account of this adventurer will be apt to attribute the fervency of his prayers rather to cowardice than to piety.

p. 161.

K. Rich.
— a paltty fellow,
Long kept in Brittaine at our brother's cost?

The old reading is—our mothers cost, which mr. Theo­bald would alter to—his mothers cost. Dr. Farmer says, that Holli [...]shed, whom Shakspeare closely followed, has— [Page 137]"brought up by my mothers means and mine." That Hollinshed copies verbatim from Hall, but by an error of the press, gives moother instead of brother as it is in Hall, and ought to be in Shakspeare. The learned commentators ingenuity is unquestionable, though it has involved him in some little inconsistency. For, if mother, which Shakspeare certainly wrote, should be changed to brother, because he was misled by the blunder of Hollinsheds printer, why is the word praeclarissimus to be justifyed by the identical principle on which mother is condemned? (Hen. V. volume v. p. 169.)

p. 166.

O, now, let Richmond and Elizabeth,
The true succeeders of each royal house,
By God's fair ordinance conjoin together!

Shakspeare is not singular in supposing Henry to be the true representative of the line of Lancaster. The tyrannous and bloody disposition of this monarch, and his immediate successor (neither of whom was at all inferior in cruelty, and the first of them far superior in craft and cunning to the monster he dethroned), joined to the goodness of their title under the house of York, made it unsafe, and perhaps unnecessary to canvas his descent. So that fear, flattery, neglect, and ignorance, seem to have established the opi­nion which most of our historians, and people in general hold of Richmonds being what he here pretends to be. But he is an impostor: his great grandfather, John duke of Somerset, from whom he derived the little title he had, was bastard son to John of Gaunt, and, though legitimated by act of parliament as to other purposes, utterly incapable of inheriting the crown. The right heir of the house of Lancaster, which, indeed, as opposed to the line of York, had not the smallest legal pretensions to the throne, was [Page 138]then, and still is, in the royal family of Portugal, in virtue of its descent from the lady Philippa, eldest daughter to John of Gaunt.


p. 186.

— his own letter,
The honourable board of council out,
Must fetch in him he papers.

"Council not then sitting. JOHNSON."

"All mention of the board of council being left out of his letters. STEEVENS."

Neither, neither. Without advising with or consulting the council: not suffering them to have any concern in the busyness.

p. 212.

You are a merry gamester,
My lord Sands.

Yes, if I make my play.

That is, says mr. Steevens, if I make my party.—Rather, if I may choose my game.

p. 231.

Old L.
Our content
Is our best having.

"That is, our best possession......In Spanish, hazi­enda. JOHNSON."

[Page 139] People generally introduce scraps of a foreign language to shew their knowlege: the learned commentator brings this merely to display his want of it. For, let the word hazienda signify what it may, what has it to do here? Indeed, "the professed critic, in order to furnish his quota to the bookseller, may write notes of nothing, that is notes which either explane things which do not want explanation, or such as do not explane matters at all, but merely fill up so much paper:" a canon, of which dr. Johnson has availed hisself pretty much in the manner of his predecessor dr. Warburton, who sagaciously observes, that friends of my soul is a Spanish phrase: Amigo de mi alma. Query, which of these two professed critics has displayed the most learning and acuteness?

p. 240.

— I do believe,
Induc'd by potent circumstances; that
You are mine enemy; and make my challenge,
You shall not be my judge.

One would think it impossible to find a sentiment ex­pressed with greater accuracy. But hear dr. Johnson:

"Challenge is here a verb [...] juris, a law term. The criminal, when he refuses a juryman, says, I challenge him. I think there is a slight errour which destroys the connection, and would read:

Induc'd by potent circumstances, that
You are mine enemy, I make my challenge.
— You shall not be my judge."

Alas; how very easy it is for a great scholar to convert a fine expression into downright nonsense!

p. 287.

Noble madam,
Mens evil manners live in brass; their virtues
We write in water.

Sir John Harrington, in his translation of Ariosto, has a similar sentiment:

Men say it, and we see it come to pass,
Good turns in sand, shrewd turns are writ in brass.

The Latin proverb, he says, is, Scribit in marmore laesus.


p. 352.

All the contagion of the south light on you,
You shames of Rome, you! Herds of boils and plagues
Plaster you o'er.

Herds of boils and plagues, to say the best of it, is a very strange sort of expression. The old editions read: ‘You shames of Rome: you heard of byles and plagues.’ Which, thus regulated, is certainly right:

You shames of Rome! you herd of—Boils and plagues
Plaister you o'er.

p. 374.

M [...]r.

A letter for me? It gives me an estate of seven years health; .... the most sovereign prescription in Galen is but em­piric, and, to this preservative, of no better effect than a horse­drench.

The old copy, mr. Steevens tells us, reads—is but em­pirick qutique—of which, he says, the reader must make [...]. can.

[Page 141] This, to be sure, is one way for an editor to get rid of difficulties—by transferring them to his readers. The pre­sent instance, however, fortunately happens to be none. The most sovereign prescription in Galen, says Menenius, is, to this news, but empiricutic:—an adjective evidently formed by the author from empiric (empirique, F.) a quack.

p. 378.


Ever right.


Menenius, ever, ever.

Mr. Tyrwhitt would rather read:


Ever right, Menenius.


Ever, ever.

But will not the change of a single point have a more natural and spirited effect?


Ever right.


Menenius? ever, ever.

p. 379.

— The kitchen malkin pins
Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck.

"A maukin or malkin," says one P. "is a kind of mop made of clouts for the use of sweeping ovens: thence a frightful figure of clouts dressed up: thence a dirty wench."

Malkin is properly the diminutive of Mal, (Mary); as Wilkin, Tomkin, &c. In Scotland, pronounced Maukin, it signifies a hare. Grey malkin (corruptly, Grimalkin) is a cat. The kitchen malkin is just the same as the kitchen Madge or Bess: the scullion. Master P. has exhibited her pedigree reversed, and mistaken the effect for the cause.

p. 395.


You know the cause, sirs, of my standing here.

2 Cit.

— tell us what hath brought you to't.


Mine own desert.

2 Cit.

Your own desert?


Ay, not mine own desire.

"The old copy—but mine own desire. If but be the true reading, it must signify, as in the North—without. STEEVENS."

But is onely the reading of the first folio: Not is the true reading.

p. 479.


— I have been blown out of your gates with fighs; and conjure thee to pardon Rome, and thy petitionary country­men.

Your cannot be right. If the speaker mean to call the gates Coriolanuses, which would seem very absurd, he ought to say thy gates. It must be either our or their.



p. 5.


What trade, thou knave?


Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out with me: yet if you be out, sir, I can mend you.


What meanest thou by that? Mend me, thou saucy fellow?

[Page 143] Mr. Theobald thinks it plain that this last speech must be given to Flavius. But dr. Johnson replaces Marullus, who, he says, might properly enough reply to a saucy sentence di­rected to his colleague. The cobler tells Flavius that, if he be out, he can mend him. Can any thing, therefor, be more absurd than for Marullus to abuse the cobler for saying what he had not said; that he could mend HIM? And yet does the critic pronounce his reply to be made properly enough! The hint, however, in the latter part of the note may incline one to give the first speech to Marullus instead of transferring the last to Flavius.

p. 6.


That Tyber trembled underneath his banks.

"The old copies read—her banks. As Tyber is always represented by the figure of a man, the feminine gender is improper. STEEVENS."

This may be true, but it is the duty of an editor to give what his author actually wrote, and not what he should have written.

p. 25.

And the complexion of the element,
It favours like the work we have in hand,
Most bloody, fiery, and most terrible.

The old editions read—Is Favors—of which some preced­ing editor made—Is fev'rous;—a much more ingenious and probable emendation surely than that adopted in the text.

p. 46.


And graves have yawn'd, and yielded up their dead.

I am afraid here is a profane allusion to the following text of holy scripture (Gospel according to St. Matthew, xxvii. 52.)

[Page 144] "And the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints which slept, arose, and came out of the graves, .... and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many."

It is somewhat remarkable that neither St. Luke nor St. John should take the least notice of this prodigious event. Even St. Mark, who onely copies or abridges St. Matthew, seems to have been fearful of trusting, in this particular, to his readers faith. COLLINS.

p. 48.

— Danger knows full well,
That Caesar is more dangerous than he.
We were two lions litter'd in one day,
And I the elder and more terrible.

The old copies read heare, which Theobald changed into were. Upton, says mr. Steevens, would read we are: an emendation, which common sense, as well as gramma­tical construction, requires us to adopt. The pointing, likewise, demands a slight improvement.

We are two lions, litter'd in one day,
And I the elder and more terrible.

p. 82.

On a small island near Mutina.] In whatever place the triumvirs actually met, it is evident that Shakspeare in­tended to place the scene in Rome.

p. 90.


You wrong me every way, you wrong me, Brutus.

The spirit of Cassiuses expostulation would be, perhaps, better preserved, if we were to point it thus: ‘You wrong me; every way you wrong me, Brutus.’

p. 95.

— With this she fell distract,
And, her attendants absent, swallow'd fire.

Mr. Steevens, after observing that this circumstance is taken from Plutarch, and that it is also mentioned by Va­lerius Maximus, says: "It may not be amiss to remark, that the death of Portia wants that foundation which has hitherto intitled her to a place in poetry, as a pattern of Roman fortitude. She is reported by Pliny, I think, to have died in Rome of a lingering illness while Brutus was abroad."

This, indeed, though a rather extraordinary, is a tole­rably easy method of overturning the credit of historians, and the existence of an historical fact. But, surely, with all the submission to the learned and ingenious commentator, due authority of Plutarch and Valerius Maximus is some­what better than a vague idea of its being contradicted by Pliny.

p. 103.


Upon the right hand I, keep thou the left.

The tenour of the conversation evidently requires us to read—you.

p. 119.

"Of this tragedy," dr. Johnson says, "many parti­cular passages deserve regard ..... but I have never been strongly agitated in perusing it, and think it somewhat cold and unaffecting, &c."

This is a strange charge. If nature have denyed to this great critic the ordinary feelings of humanity, is he there­for to accuse the poet? Surely, dr. Johnson is the onely person living who would not be ashamed to declare hisself [Page 146]insensible to the interesting and pathetic scenes of this ad­mirable drama. So far from Shakspeares adherence "to the real story and to Roman manners" having "impeded the natural vigour of his genius," he seems to have risen with the grandeur and importance of his subject; and, if there be any one play in these volumes which affects the heart more than the rest it may be safely averred to be this of Julius Caesar. And he who is not "agitated in perusing it" may defy the powers of poetry to move him.

The characters or dogmatical criticisms subjoined by the above learned philosopher at the end of each play are gene­rally (as in the present instance) as unjust in theirselves, as injurious to the immortal author; and, in many cases, could onely proceed from one who either had not read the drama reviewed, or, from some natural defect, was insen­sible of its beauty and merit.


p. 130.

Pr'ythee, how many boys and wenches must I have?
If every of your wishes had a womb,
And foretel every wish, a million.

That is, says dr. Johnson, if you had as many wombs as you will have w [...]shes, and I should foretel all those wishes, I should foret [...]l a million of children. The text, as dr. Warbur­ton justly observes, is nonsense, and this explanation is as bad. She asks the foothsayer how many children she is to have: why, says he, if all your wishes had wombs, and [I [Page 147]should] foretel every wish, you would have a million. Ridicu­lous! Is that any answer to her question? He does foretel how many she will have. Dr. Warburton reads fertil, which restores sense and spirit to the whole passage.

p. 142.

— Can Fulvia die?

Notwithstanding the ingenious comment upon this pas­sage by mr. Steevens, one may be still inclined to think that Cleopatra means no more than—Is it possible that Fulvia should dye? I will not believe it.

p. 153.

Ale [...].
— So he nodded,
And soberly did mount an arm-gaunt steed,
Who neigh'd so high, that what I would have spoke,
Was beastly dumb'd by him.

Mr. Seyward, says dr. Johnson, in his preface to Beau­mont, has very elaborately endeavoured to prove that an arm-gaunt steed is a steed with lean-shoulders. Arm, adds he, is the Teutonic word for want, or poverty. "Arm gaunt may be therefore an old word, signifying lean for want, ill-fed. Edwards's observation, that a worn out horse is not proper for Atlas to mount in battle, is impertinent: the horse here mentioned seems to be a post-horse, rather than a war­horse."

It is somewhat remarkable that when this great critic is desirous to introduce his own note on a passage whereon a much better has been already written, he ge­nerally begins his observation by ridiculing that of his predecessor. Mr. Seward, (not Seyward as dr. John­son, mr. Steevens, and mr. Malone, have every where [Page 148]throughout this edition corrupted his name) explains the word arm-gaunt by thin shoulders, which, he says, is known to be one of the principal beauties of a horse. And he adds that the epithet has, from the uncommon use of either part of the compound word in this [...]ense, an antique dignity and grandeur in sound that poets much delight in. (The reader will observe the difference between thin shoulders and lean shoulders; the former being a beauty, the latter a defect.) And this dr. Johnson calls an elaborate endeavour to prove. Not recollecting that his own attempt is more elaborate, and much [...]ss ingenious and successful. Arm may be the Teu­toni [...] word for want; and yet one would like to have some better proof of its existence than the bare dictum of one so little acquainted with ancient languages as dr. Johnson is. And even when that is given we should still be glad to know how Shakspeare came by it. Dr. Johnsons observation that this steed was a post horse is "impertinent;" as a post­horse would scareely have made any distinction between Antony and his groom: and yet the author represents it so proud of its burthen that its neigh silenced the by-standers.

p. 190.


I have fair meaning, sir.


And fair words to them.

The last word makes it evident that we should read meanings.

p. 197.

There's a strong fellow, Menas.
[Pointing to the attendant who carries off Lepidus.
He bears
The third part of the world ...
[Page 149]
The third part then he is drunk: would it were all,
That it might go on wheels.

This should have been corrected to ‘The third part then is drunk: would it were all.’

p. 216.

Mec. And gives his potent regiment to a trull.

Trull, dr. Johnson says, was not, in our authors time, a term of mere infamy, but a word of slight contempt, as wench is now. It may be difficult to know what the learned commentator conceives to be a term of mere infamy. But thus much is certain, that trull, in the age of Shak­speare, signifyed a strumpet, and so he uses it.

p. 227.

Yes, my lord, yes;—He, at Philippi, kept
His sword even like a dancer.

Sword-dances at Christmas are not peculiar to North­humberland; they are common to the adjoining counties; and are, not without the greatest probability, supposed to have descended from the Romans 17. In these dances the sword-points are generally over the shoulders of the per­formers. Antony means that Caesar stood inactive with his sword on his shoulder.

p. 266.


Let me lodge Lichas on the horns o'the moon.

Shakspeare, mr. Steevens thinks, might have taken part of this imagery from Heywood's Silver age, 1613. If the Silver [Page 150]age, however, were not printed before that year it is more likely that Shakspeare furnished Heywood.

p. 277.

— not the imperious shew
Of the full-fortun'd Caefar ever shall
Be brooch'd with me.

Brooch, says dr. Percy, is properly a bodkin or some such instrument, originally a spit; and ladies bodkins, adds he, being headed with gems, it sometimes stands for an orna­mental trinket or jewel in general; in which sense, he says, it is, perhaps, used at present, or as probably in its original one for pinned up, &c.

A brooch is always an ornament; whether a buckle or pin for the breast, hat, or hair, or whatever other shape it may may assume. A broach is a spit: the spires of churches are likewise so called in the Northern couuties; as Darn­ton-broach. Brooch'd, in the text, certainly means adorn'd, as it has been properly explained by mr. Steevens.


p. 323.


How this lord is follow'd!


The senators of Athens;—Happy men!

Mr. Steevens would read—Happy man! thinking it the happiness of Timon, and not that of the senators, upon which the poet means to exclaim. But the text is right. The poet envies or admires the felicity of the senators in [Page 151]being Timons friends, and familiarly admitted to his table to partake of his good chear, and experience the effects of his bounty.

p. 324.

Apemantus ..... even he drops down
The knee before him, and returns in peace
Most rich in Timons nod.

Either Shakspeare, mr. Steevens says, meant to put a falsehood into the mouth of his poet, or had not yet thoroughly planned the character of Apemantus; for in the ensuing scenes his behaviour is cynical to Timon as to his followers.

The behaviour of Apemantus is justly represented, and yet the note might have been spared; the authors consis­tency being liable to no charge. The poet, seeing that Apemantus paid frequent visits to Timon, naturally con­cluded that he was equally courteous with his other guests. The critic, indeed, knows the contrary, but the speaker did not.

p. 326.

I am not of that feather to shake off
My friend when he must need me.

The sense would be certainly improved by reading thus:

I am not of that feather to shake off
My friend when he most needs me.

p. 361.

Purchance, some single vantages you took.
When my indisposition put you back;
And that unaptness made your minister,
Thus to excuse yourself.

[Page 152] This is perfectly unintelligible. "So, however," says dr. Johnson, "the original." The later editions, he tells us, have all: ‘— made you minister. Which is right. It is the reading of the second folio.

p. 362.

— My dear lov'd lord,
Though you hear now, yet now's too late a time.

The old editions read ‘Though you hear now (too late) yet now's a time.

That is, according to dr. Warburton, "Though it be now too late to retrieve your former fortunes, yet it is not too late to prevent, by the assistance of your friends, your future miseries." Sir T. Hanmer, it seems, made the al­teration, which, though undoubtedly wrong, dr. Johnson thought right, and admitted into his text. The old read­ing, however, is not properly explained by dr. Warburton. Though I tell you this, says Flavius, at too late a period, perhaps, for the information to be of service to you, yet late as it is, it is necessary that you should be acquainted with it. It is evident that the steward had very little hope of assistance from his masters friends.

p. 380.


Yes, mine's three thousand crowns: what's yours?

Lu [...].

Five thousand mine.

'Tis much deep: and it should seem by the sum,
Your masters confidence was above mine;
Else, surely, his bad equall'd.

Dr. Johnson, whose understanding frequently starts at the plainest passage, and makes those who have little of [Page 153]their own, imagine difficulties where there are none, asks if this should not be, else, surely, mine had equall'd. The answer is easy: it should not. Mr. Malone has, indeed, undertaken to justify the text; and given a long note upon it, which HE may possibly understand. Without taking further notice, however, of his see-saw conjectures, the meaning of the passage is evidently and simply this: Your master, it seems, had more confidence in lord Timon than mine, otherwise, his (i. e. my masters) debt (i. e. the money due to him from Timon) would, certainly, have been as great as your masters (i. e. as the money which Timen owes to your master);—that is, my master, being as rich as yours, could and would have advanced Timon as large a sum as your master has advanced him, if he (i. e. my master) had thought it prudent to do so.

p. 397.

— maid, to thy masters bed;
Thy mistress is o'the brothel!

The sense, according to mr. Steevens, is Go, maid with security to thy masters bed, for thy mistress is a bawd to thy amours. This is not altogether so clear. One would father suppose it to mean that the mistress frequented the brothel; and so sir T. Hanmer understood it.

p. 411.

— those milk-paps,
That through the window-bars bore at mens eyes.

The folios read barne, and not improperly. En is a com­mon termination of a Saxon plural; which we, in num­berless instances, retain to this day. The word is to be [Page 154]explained by bars, but should not (though dr. Warburton calls it strange nonsense) have been removed from the text.

p. 429.

Apemantus retreats backward.

Would not this ingenious remark be much improved by reading,—Apemantus advances backward? Like the exer­cise of the city militia:—"Advance three paces back­wards!"

The editors have, here and there, indulged us with a few of these little marginal pleasantries, which would not make a bad figure together. The reader may take a spe­cimen:

  • Exit Com. and Men. (vii. 465.)
  • Exit Worcester and Vernon. (v. 405.)
  • Enter Mortimer, brought in a chair. (v. 220.)
  • Exit Clown, Autolycus, Dorcas, and Mopsa. (iv. 392.)
  • Exit the queen, and Hamlet dragging in Polonius. (x. 332.)
  • Exit &c. (x. 509.)

p. 440.

Scene II.Enter Poet and Painter.] "The Poet and the Painter were within view when Apemantus parted from Timon, and might then have seen Timon, since Apemantus, standing by him could see them: But the scenes of the thieves and steward have passed before their arrival, and yet passed, as the drama is now con­ducted, within their view. It might be suspected, that some scenes are transposed, for all these difficulties would be removed by introducing the Poet and Painter first, and the thieves in this place. Yet I am afraid the scenes must keep their present order; for the Painter alludes to [Page 155]the thieves when he says, he likewise enriched poor strag­gling soldiers with great quantity. This impropriety is now heightened by placing the thieves in one act, and the Poet and Painter in another: but it must be remem­bered, that in the original edition this play is not divided into separate acts, so that the present distribution is arbi­trary, and may be changed if any convenience can be gained, or impropriety obviated by alteration. JOHNSON."

Had the learned critic perused the small remainder of the Painters speech, he would have perceived another incongruity, of which he does not seem to be aware. In the immediately preceding scene (the first of the fifth act) Flavius, Timons steward, has a conference with his master, and receives gold from him. Between this and the present scene, a single minute cannot be supposed to pass; and yet the Painter tells his companion:—'tis said, he gave his steward a mighty sum. Where was it said? Why in Athens, whence, it must therefor seem, they are but newly come. Here then should be fixed the commencement of the fifth act, in order to allow time for Flavius to return to the city, and for rumour to publish his adventure with Timon. But how are we, in this case, to account for Apemantuses announcing the approach of the Poet and Painter in the last scene of the preceding act, and before the thieves appear? It is possible that, when this play was abridged for representation, all be­tween this passage and the entrance of the Poet and Painter, may have been omitted by the players, and these words put into the mouth of Apemantus to introduce them: and that when it was published at large, the interpolation was un­noticed. Or, if we allow the Poet and the Painter to see Apemantus, it may be conjectured that they did not think his presence necessary at their interview with Timon, and had therefor returned back into the city.

p. 452.

By all description this should be the place.
Who's here? speak, ho!—No answer?—What is this?
Timon is dead, who hath out-firetch'd his span:
Some beast read this; there does not live a man.
Dead sure; and this his grave. What's on this tomb?
I cannot read; the character I'll take with wax.

Dr. Warburton proposes rear'd for read, and says, that the soldier had onely seen the rude heap of earth. But dr. Johnson, who seems to have thought, that the chief part of his busy­ness consisted in a totis viribus opposition to the most judi­cious improvements of preceding commentators, and that there is as much honour to be got by the demolition, as by the erection, of an elegant structure, observes that the soldier "had evidently seen something that told him Timon was dead; and what could tell that but his tomb? The tomb he sees, and the inscription upon it, which not being able to read, and finding none to read it for him, he ex­claims peevishly, some beast read this, for it must be read, and in this place it cannot be read by man."

Now with all proper deserence to the misunderstanding and confusion under which the learned critic labours in the above note, it is evident that the soldier, when he first sees the heap of earth does not know it to be a tomb. He con­cludes that Timon must be dead, because he receives no an­swer. It is likewise evident that when he utters the words some beast, &c. he has not seen the inscription. And dr. Warburtons emendation is therefor not onely just and happy, but absolutely necessary. What can this heap of earth be? says the soldier. — Timon is certainly dead, some beast must have erected this for here does not [...]ive a man to do it,—Yes, he is dead, sure enough, and this must be his grave. What is this writing upon it?

[Page 159] Dr. Johnson is not content with representing the soldier as peevish; he makes him a perfect fool. For thus, ac­cording to the sagacious commentators exposition, will his soliloquy stand:—I cannot read these letters; I must get some beast to read them for me; for, read they must be; and read, in this place, they cannot be, by man! But, first, where was the so urgent necessity of the inscription being read at all? and, secondly, why could no man read it where it was?


p. 477.

The Greeks upon advice did bury Ajax
That slew himself, &c.

This passage convinces mr. Steevens, that this play was the work of one conversant with the Greek tragedies in their original language; and, therefor, not of Shakspeare. "We have here," says he, "a plain allusion to the Ajax of Sophocles, of which no translation was extant in the time of Shakspeare." If the fact were true, of which, however, neither mr. Steevens, nor any man now living can be cer­tain 18, numbers of printed tracts, and even large vo­lumes, having perished since that period, as accidents and [Page 158]the researches of antiquarians dayly prove, still Shakspeare might have been indebted for the circumstance to some manuscript version, or the information of a more learned friend. Or (as is very probable) the same allusion may be contained in other old books. There are many expressions in the course of the play which do not prove the author to have been very familiar with the ancients. Among other instances which might be adduced, Marcus praises Lavinia for her excellent performance on the lute. And it will not be very easy to decide whether the characters, or, at least, the times are Christian or Heathen.

p. 483.


Not I; till I have sheath'd &c.

The editors have here adopted a transposition made by dr. Warburton, for which there is not the least reason. Onely the matter is not of sufficient consequence to dwell upon.

p. 484.

D [...]m.
She is a woman, therefore may be woo'd;
She is a woman, therefore may be won.

Suffolk, in the First part of king Henry VI. makes use of almost the same words:

She's beautiful; and therefore to be woo'd;
She is a woman, therefore to be won.

How much or how little soever this may serve to prove, if facts and evidence be to determine our judgement, there cannot remain a doubt that this play of Titus Andronicus is as much Shakspeares as any other in this collection. It is not onely given to him by Mer [...]s, but is printed as his by the [Page 159]editors of the first folio, his fellow comedians and intimate friends, who neither could have been deceived theirselves, nor could or would have deceived the public.



p. 26.

— Women are angels, wooing;
Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing.

So, says dr. Johnson, read both the old editions, for which, adds he, the later editors have [...]orly given: ‘— the soul's joy lies in doing.

Whatever may be the poverty of the expression, it did not originate with the later editors. It is the reading of the second folio.

p. 51.


No more words, Thersites; peace.


I will hold my peace when Achilles' brach bids me, shall I?

The folio and quarto editions, it seems, read brooch, which leads dr. Johnson to think the meaning equivalent to one of Achilles' hangers-on. Mr. Malone, who, it must be confessed, generally comes foreward to a very good or useful purpose, observes that Brooch had some meaning at present unknown. For, says he, in the following passage [Page 160]in Lodges Rosalynde, 1592, it seems to signify something very different from a pin or a bodkin: "His bonnet was green, whereon stood a copper brooch with the picture of St. Dennis." A brooch is an ornament; likewise a buckle of uncommon workmanship, for the hat or breast. Such a one as had an image or figure of St. Dennis upon it, would probably conceal the pin or prong, which kept it fast to the hat or girdle. K. Lewis the eleventh of France generally wore a leaden figure of St. Andrew in his hat, which, perhaps, answered the purpose of a brooch or buckle.

Thus, in Loves Labour Lost (ii. 509):


St. George's half cheek in a brooch.


Ay, and in a brooch of lead.


Ay, and worn in the cap of a tooth-drawer.

Brach is certainly the true reading.

p. 55.

— the remainder viands
We do not throw in unrespective sieve.

Sieve, it seems, is in the quarto. The folio, according to dr. Johnson, reads ‘— unrespective same [same];’ for which, he says, the modern editors have silently printed, ‘— unrespective place.

The learned commentator is so perfectly acquainted with the old copies that it is wonderful to find an ancient read­ing escape him! Place, however, cannot well be the silent interpolation of a modern editor, as it is to be found in the second folio.

p. 62.


Why am I a fool?


Make that demand of the prover.

So, says dr. Johnson, the quarto. The folio, adds mr. Steevens, profanely reads—of thy [to the] Creator. This would be intelligible, however, which the adopted reading is not. And as to any profaneness there may be in the words rejected, which every person may not so readyly dis­cover, the author is answerable for it, not the editor.

p. 73.


What exploit's in hand? where sups he to night?


Nay, but my lord,—


What says my sweet queen? My cousin will fall out with you.


You must not know where he sups.


I'll lay my life, with my disposer Cressida.


No, no, no such matter, you are wide; come, your disposer is fick.

Disposer dr. Warburton thinks should in both places be dispouser; she that would separate Helen from Paris. Dr. Johnson does not understand the word, nor know what to substitute in its place. He says, there is no variation in the copies. Mr. Steevens suspects that you must not know when he sups, should be added to the speech of Pandarus; and that the following one of Paris should be given to Helen. He thinks that disposer should be changed into deposer; and supposes that she addresses herself to Pandarus, and, by de­poser, means—she who thinks her beauty (or, whose beauty you suppose) to be superior to mine.

Mr. Steevenses conjecture is very ingenious and happy, but the propriety of his explanation is very doubtful. The dialogue should, perhaps, be regulated thus:

[Page 162]

— where sups he to night?


Nay, but my lord —


What says my sweet queen?


My cousin will fall out with you.

[To Helen.]

You must not know where he sups.

[To Paris.]

I'll lay my life with my deposer Cressida.

She calls Cressida her deposer, not for either of the rea­sons assigned by mr. Steevens, but because she had deposed her in the affections of Troilus, whom Fandarus, in a pre­ceding scene, is ready to swear she lov'd more than Paris.

Dr. Johnson mistakes in asserting the uniformity of the the copies. The second folio reads the fifth speech thus: Pan. With my disposer Cressida.’

p. 75.


Oh! oh! groans out for ha! ha! ha! Hey ho!

Hey ho.] This exclamation is thus added in the folio to the preceding line: O ho grones out for ha ha ha—hey ho. But the interjection is certainly no part of the song: and consequently should not appear in the same character: it is uttered by Pandarus after he has done singing. This is evident from Helens observation: ‘In love, i'faith, to the very tip of the nose.’

p. 106.


Good, good, my lord; the secrets of neighbour Pandar.

This reading was first introduced by mr. Pope from the old quarto. The folio reads, ‘— the secrets of nature: which is, surely, preferable; neither the sense nor the measure seeming to be much improved by the words adopted.

p. 114.

The prince must think me tardy and remiss,
That swore to ride before him to the field.
'Tis Troilus' fault: Come, come, to field with him.
Dio. Let us make ready straight.
Yea, with a bridegrooms fresh alacrity,
Let us address to tend on Hector's heels.

But why should Diomed say, Let us make ready straight? Was HE to tend with them on Hectors heels? Certainly not. Dio. has, therefor, crept in by mistake; the line either is part of Parises speech, or belongs to Deiphobus, who is in company. As to Diomed, he neither goes along with them, nor has any thing to get ready:—he is now walking, with Troilus and Cressida, toward the gate, on his way to the Grecian camp.

p. 115.


'Tis but early days?

Should not this be—early day?

p. 117.


May I, sweet lady, beg a kiss of you?


You may.


I do desire it.


Why, beg then.

Why then for Venus' sake give me a kiss,
When Helen is a maid again, and his.

I am your debtor, claim it when 'tis due.


Never's my day and then a kiss of you.

For the sake of rime, dr. Johnson says, we should read: Why beg two.’ "If you think kisses worth begging beg more than one."

[Page 164] Neither rime nor reason requires the alteration. Ulysses asks her if he may beg a kiss; she says, he may; he then desires it: she bids him beg, which he does. The construc­tion is plain enough; and if the rime be thought worth preserving by a violence to the text we may read: ‘Why beg toe.

The remainder, upon which the same learned commen­tator has given an unintelligible note, might be regulated thus:


Why then for Venus' sake give me a kiss.

When Helen is a maid again, and his,
I am your debtor; claim it when 'tis due.

Never's my day, and then a kiss of you.

p. 124.


Whom must we answer?


The noble Menelaus.

This is rather a blunt way for a man to announce his­self. Menelaus, indeed, does not appear to have been over and above well off in the article of friends, but, still, he was not reduced to the necessity of being his own puffer. The speech belongs to Aeneas.

p. 126.


I shall forestall thee, lord Ulysses, thou!

"Should we not read—though?—TYRWHITT."

"The repetition of thou! was anciently used by one who meant to insult another. STEEVENS."

Yes;—but what has Ulysses said or done, that Achilles should mean to insult him. Besides, the ingenious critic ne [...]er [...]w the word thou! thus used after a proper name. Mr. Tyrwhitts proposal should certainly have been adopted.

[Page 165]
Hence, brother lacquey! [...]ominy and shame
Pursue thy life, and live aye with thy name!

" [...]ence brothel, lacquey!—] For brothel, the folio reads brother, err [...]neously for broker, as it stands at the end of the play, where the lines are repeated. JOHNSON."

Let us turn to the end of the play, and see what the critic says there.

"Hence, broker lacquey!—] So the quarto. The folio has brother. JOHNSON."

The concordance of the two comments is surprising.

After all, however, brothel lacquey seems the best reading; though broker is certainly (in this place) the reading of the folio.

p. 155.

— like scaled sculls
Before the belching whale.

Sculls and shoals have not only one and the same mean­ing, but are, actually, or at least originally, one and the same word. A scull of herrings (and it is to these fish that the speaker alludes), so termed on the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk, is elsewhere called a shoal.

p. 162.

The dragon-wing of night o'erspreads the earth,
And, s [...]ickler-like, the armies separates.

A stickler, mr. Steevens tells us, was one who stood by to part the combatants, &c. They are called sticklers, he says, from carrying sticks or staves in their hands. It is not here meant to question the propriety of mr. Steevenses ex­planation of the word: but the nature of the English lan­guage cannot possibly allow the derivation of slickler from stick, with which, as a word, it has not the remotest con­nection. [Page 166]Besides, the giving sticks or staves to the seconds or sidesmen seems a mere gratis-dictum, for which the in­genious critic can have no authority, but such as he may be able to produce from the practice of Paris-garden. Stickler is, simply, from the verb stickle, to interfere, to take part with, to busy ones self on either side.


p. 175.

2 Gent.

You speak him far.

1 Gent.

I do extend him, sir, within himself.

Surely we should read fair. It is the sound which the other takes occasion to play upon.

p. 176.

1 Gent.

A glass that seated them.

Dr. Johnson, in his note upon this passage, is certainly wrong in saying that Mirrour of Knighthood does not give the idea of a glass, but of an example. Miroir de Chevalerie, Sp [...]cc [...]io di cavalleria, Espejo de cavallerias, are all a looking­glass for chi [...]alry. And so is the word properly rendered in our English versions of the history of Don Quixote, who is called "a looking-glass, in which all the valiant knights of the world may behold themselves." But one might be glad to know who ever stiled Don Bellianis the Morrour of Knighthood before dr. Johnson.

p. 306.

— could this carle,
A very drudge of nature's, have subdu'd me.

"Carle is used by our old writers in opposition to a gen­tleman. See the poem of John the Reeve. PERCY."

It is a very common, but, at the same time, a very unreasonable practice in commentators and others, to bid their readers see this or that scarce book, of which it is, as they well know, frequently impossible for them to pro­cure a sight. But never was this absurdity carryed to such an extent of mockery as it is in the present instance; where the learned prelate very coolly orders us to inspect a poem, onely extant, as he is well assured, and has else­where told us, in a certain FOLIO MS in his own posses­sion, which, perhaps, no one ever saw, and which (if it really exist) he will, for his own sake, take effectual care that no one shall see.

Carl or churl (Ceopl, Sax.) is a clown, or husbandman.


p. 365.


Is it no more but this? a tardiness in nature.

These two words (no more) seem to be introduced or preserved merely to spoil the measure. They are not in either folio.

p. 372.

— All this done
Upon the gad.

[Page 168] To do upon the gad, says dr. Johnson, is, to act by the sudden stimulation of caprice, as cattle run madding when they are stung by the gad-fly.

This indeed is a mode of explanation which requires very little knowlege of ones author. It should not se [...]m that cattle, stung by the gad-fly, are actuated by caprice, but whether or not is a circumstance foreign to the purpose. A thing done upon the gad is—done suddenly, or (as be­fore) while the iron is hot. A gad is an iron ba [...]. So in I'll never leave th [...]e, a Scotish song, by Allan Ramsay: ‘Bid iceshogles hammer red gads on the studdy.’

p. 415.


You .... take vanity the puppets part against the royalty of her father.

"Alluding," says dr. Johnson, "to the mysteries or al­legorical shews, in which vanity, iniquity, and other vices were personified."

The description is applicable onely to the old Moralities, between which and the mysteries there was an essential dif­ference, of which the learned commentator does not seem to have been aware.

p. 427.

— Poor Turlygood! poor Tom!
That's something yet;—Edgar I nothing am.

This dr. Johnson explains: "As Edgar I am out­lawed, dead in law; I have no longer any political exis­tence." And, surely, nothing can be more completely ridiculous. Outlawry is the effect of many legal pro­ceedings in the ordinary course of justice, and neither the speaker, nor the author can have the least allusion to it. [Page 169]The critics idea is both too complex and too puerile for one in Edgars situation. He is pursued, it seems, and pro­claimed, i. e. a reward has been offered for taking or kill­ing him. In assuming this character, says he, I may pre­serve myself; as Edgar I am inevitably gone.

p. 479.


Come o'er the bourn, Bessy, to me.

We should certainly read burn. The fools reply does not seem to have been any part of the original song; which is here given from an ancient MS. in the writers possession, where it is attended with the musical notes for three voices.

Come ou þe burn besse
[...] u lytyll pty besse
Come ou the burne besse to me.
The burne ys þis world blȳde
& besse ys mākynd
So ꝓpyr J can none fynd as she
She daunc & lepys
& crist stōd [...] & clepys
Cū ou the burne besse to me.

p. 480.

Sleepest, or wakest thou, jolly shepherd?
Thy sheep be in the corn;
And for one blast of thy minikin mouth,
Thy sheep shall take no harm.

Mr. Steevens thinks that minikin has been a term of en­dearment. But it onely means small, little, slender, as has been already observed (p. 44). Thy minikin mouth implies, thy little (and, therefor, perhaps, pretty) mouth.

p. 482.


Hound or spaniel, brache, or lym.

A lym seems to have been a large dog of the spaniel kind.

His cofin had a Lyme bound argent bright.

Harrington, Or. Fu. xli. 30.

Again: ‘His Ly [...] laid on his back, he couching down.’

See the portrait of sir Johns faithful and favourite ser­vant Bungay at the bottom of the engraved title. The word differently spelled, occurs again, p. 349.

Oliuero whose deuise is the Spaniell, or lyam hound.

p. 483.

Sessy; come, march to wakes and fairs,
And market towns:—poor Tom, thy born is dry.

Mr. Strevens seems rather to strain this last expression in explaining it to be a private address from Edgar to hisself: "I can no more: all my materials for sustaining the cha­racter of poor Tom are now exhausted." His horn was what he carryed his liquor in. And there is no necessity either for making him speak the words aside, or for giving them an allegorical signification. And even supposing the latter probable, they need onely mean I can no more, or I have nothing left to say; the company, if they attended to him, would take the phrase in its most obvious and simple sense, i. e. that he had nothing to drink.

Dr. Johnson is, surely, right in supposing that sessy is a co [...]ption of cessez, be quiet, stop, hold, let alone. It is so used by Christofero Sly, the drunken tinker, in the Tan [...]ing of a Shrew: and by Edgar hisself, in a preceding scene.—Dolphin, my boy, Sessy; let him trot by. But it [Page 171]does not seem equally clear that it has been corrupted into so, so. Mr. Steevens would have it to mean Sissy (Cecilia) which is certainly wrong.

p. 506.


[Aside.] One way I like this well.

"Goneril," dr. Johnson observes, "is well pleased that Cornwall is destroyed who was preparing war against her and her husband, but is afraid of losing Edmund to the widow."

It does not appear that Cornwall was making any hos­tile preparations against Albany. On the contrary, in act III. scene viii. Goneril is on a visit to Cornwall, who dispatches her with amicable letters to her husband. She is glad to hear of Cornwalls death, because, by her sisters, now rendered less difficult to compass, she could possess the whole kingdom.

p. 513.


Lord Edmund spake not with your lady at home?


No, madam.

The folio reads your lord; but, says dr. Johnson, lady is the first and better reading. If the learned critic had not been too indolent to look back, a few pages, to the second scene of this act, he would have found that, though lady may be the first and better reading, lord is the true and right one. For Goneril not onely converses with lord Edmund, in the stewards presence, but prevents him from speaking to, or even seeing her husband.

p. 535.

Ay, madam; in the heaviness of his sleep,
We put fresh garments on him.
[Page 172]
Be by, good madam, when we do awake him;
I doubt not of his temperance.

The folio, mr. Steevens observes, gives these four lines to a gentleman. The quartos, it seems, distribute them very differently. But the ingenious critic will recollect that in the folio, the gentleman and (as he is here called) the physician is one and the same person: a circumstance he does not appear to have at all attended to.

p. 547.

The goujeres shall devour them, &c.

"The resolute John Florio," dr. Farmer says, "has sadly mistaken these goujeers. He writes with a good yeare to thee!" and gives it in Italian, "Il mal' anno che dio ti dia."

But does the ingenious commentator really suppose that John meant a blessing instead of a curse? In fact, the pedant is guilty of no mistake:—that he intended these very gou­jeers is evident from the folio of Shakspeare, where it is said, ‘The good yeares shall devour them.’ And this was the usual spelling of that age.

p. 550.


Mean you to enjoy him?


The let alone lies not in your good will.

"Whether he [who?] shall not or shall [what?] de­pends not on your choice. JOHNSON."

This ingenious and occult annotation is grounded on and supported by CANON XV. which allows the professed critic to "explane a difficult passage by words absolutely unintelligible."

[Page 173] There is not, it may be here observed, one of the Ca­nons which could not be properly illustrated and supported by numerous examples from the margin of the last edition.

Albany means to tell his wife, that, however she might want the power, she evidently did not want the inclination, to prevent the match.

p. 555.


Let us exchange charity.

"Our author," says dr. Johnson, "by negligence gives his heathens the sentiments and practices of christianity."

Does the learned critic mean to insinuate that benevolence, or a forgiveness of injuries could not subsist without a be­lief in christianity? That heathens could not act like men? The contrary, it is believed, is so much a fact, that it would be no paradox to assirm, because it might be very easyly proved, that all the moral virtues were better understood, and more regarded by Heathen Greece, and Pagan Rome, tha­they have been by any Christian state since the invention or introduction of that system. And what would the great philo­sopher think, if it were to be made appear that the first Chris­tians borrowed (or, rather, stole, for they took without ac­knowlegement) all their morality from the professors of Pa­ganism? Indeed it must be absurd to suppose for a single moment, that they who had more sense than their successors, had not, at least, as much virtue.

p. 564.

I have a journey, sir, shortly to go;
My master calls, and I must not say no.

The modern editors, mr. Steevens says, have supposed that Kent expires after he has repeated these two lines: [Page 174]but the speech, he thinks, rather appears to be meant for a despairing than a dying man; and, adds that, as the old editions give no marginal direction for his death, he has forborn to insert any.

The construction mr. Steevens puts upon Kents speech is not meant to be disputed. But, it might have been as well, if, before he had charged his death upon the modern editors, and asserted that the old editions give no direction about it, he had consulted those editions. For nothing can be more certain than that the second folio, at the end of this speech, has the word Dyes in the margin:

The folios give the couplet thus:

I have a journey, sir, shortly to go:
My master calls me, I shust not say no.



p. 14.


— What sadness lengthens Romeo's hours?


Nor having that, which, having makes them short.


In love?


Out —


Of love?


Out of her favour, where I am in love.

"I," says dr. Percy, "take out not to be an imperfect part of a sentence cut off by aposiopesis; but rather the interjec­tion [Page 175]still used in the north, where they say Out! much in the same sense as we now say fye!"

Mr. Steevens very pertinently asks the doctor why Romeo should say fye! on being asked if he were in love. But mr. Steevens gives no opinion.

It is evident that this word out (which is neither an in­terjection, nor cut off by aposiopesis) would, in case Romeo had not been interrupted, have been, as it is, the first of his following speech: Out of her favour, &c.

p. 18.


These happy masks that kiss fair ladies brows.

i. e. says mr. Steevens, the masks worn by female spec­tators of the play. But this is by no means so certain. And there is little reason for thus forcing improprieties upon the author, of which he may not be guilty. These or those merely resers to the masks worn by ladies: Shakspeare knew it to be a custom in London, and supposed it to be one in Verona.

p. 21.

Such comfort, as do lusty young men feel
When well-apparel'd April on the heel
Of limping winter treads —

Dr. Johnson reads yeomen: which, though mr. Steevens does not agree with him, seems, at least, to be the interpre­tation of young men: as these words are, perpetually, used for yeomen, in old writings. See particularly the legends of Robin Hood and Adam Bell. So, in a subsequent scene of this very play, yew trees are, in the old editions called, yong trees.

p. 34.

I'll be a candle-holder, and look on.—
The game was ne'er so fair, and I am done.

An allusion to an old proverbial saying which advises to "give over, when the game is at the fairest."

p. 40.

This is that very Mab
That .... cakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs.

If all the old copies read bakes, which mr. Steevens says they do, what authority had mr. Pope to make the altera­tion? and why is it followed?

p. 44.


Nay, sit, nay, sit, good cousin Capulet.

This cousin Capulet, dr. Johnson observes, is unkle in the paper of invitation; but as Capulet is described as old, consin is probably, he says, the right word in both places.

Each reading is right in its place. Cousin was a com­mon expression from one kinsman to another, out of the de­grees of parent and child, brother and sister. Thus, in Hamlet, the king, his uncle and step-father, addresses him with, ‘But now my cousin Hamlet, and my son. And in this very play, act III. lady Capulet says, ‘Tybalt my cousin!—O my brothers child. So, in As you like it:

Res. Me, uncle?
Duke. You, cousin!

And Olivia, in the Twelfth Night, constantly calls her uncle Toby cousin.

p. 50.

Enter Chorus.] The use of this chorus, dr. Johnson thinks, is not easyly discovered as it relates nothing but what is already known or what the next scene will shew. In­deed it seems to have been brought out merely to fill up part of the vacancy of time between the acts, instead of a piece of music. The groundlings of that age, like the rooflings of the present, would, doubless, be ever impatient to know what was to come next.

p. 52.

Come, he hath hid himself among those trees,
To be consorted with the humorous night.

Mr. Steevens brings some instances from other authors to prove that Shakspeare means humid: and mr. Malone, who is remarkable for the pertinence, propriety, and real importance of his learned and ingenious remarks, adds the following note:

"Again, in Measure for Measure: ‘"The vaporous night approaches."’

To prove, no doubt, that Shakspeare, as he has here used humorous for humid, there uses vaporous for vapid.

p. 53.

And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit,
As maids call medlars, when they laugh alone.

As maids, &c.] "After this line," says mr. Steevens, "in the quarto 1597, I find two other verses, containing such ribaldry, that I cannot venture to insert them in the text, though I exhibit them here as a proof that either the poor or his friends knew sometimes how to blot." Surely the [Page 178]poet and his friends are under very little obligation to the ingenious commentator for producing an indecent passage which he supposes one or other of them to have already sup­pressed. But, after all, the learned editor is mistaken: for, despicable as the lines are, they were NOT blotted either by the poet or by his friends:—and if he will take the trouble of turning to either of the folios he will THERE find them.

p. 54.


He jests at scars, that never felt a wound.

That is, says dr. Johnson, Mercutio jests (who has just left the scene and) whom he overheard. But, with all due submission, it does not appear that Romeo either did, or could, nor is there any occasion that he should, hear Mer­cutio. He (that person) jests, &c. is merely in allusion to his having conceived hisself so armed with the love of Ro­saline, that no other beauty could make any impression on him. This is clear from the conversation he has with Mer­cutio just before they go to Capulets.

p. 56.

'Tis but thy name, that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? &c.

There is, certainly, some obscurity in this passage; which might, possibly be remov'd by reading: ‘Thou art thyself, though yet a Montague.’ Or, thus: ‘Thou art thyself, although a Montague.’

At least, Juliets meaning seems to be, that though he was a Montague by name, and, therefor, her enemy, yet for his person and mind, i. e. as a man, she might still be [Page 179]allowed to love him. Either of the above proposed read­ings (which yet are only for the margin) seem as good as this, which dr. Johnson thinks the true one: ‘Thou art thyself, then not a Montague.’

And certainly much better than this of Hanmer: ‘Thou 'rt not thyself so, though a Montague.’

The subsequent lines, which in the present edition stand thus:

What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part:
What's in a name, &c.

and in the folio thus:

What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, O be some other name
Belonging to a man.
What's in a name, &c.

should, perhaps, be thus regulated:

What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face [nor any other part]
Belonging to a man. O be some other name.
What's in a name? &c.

The words, nor any other part, which are in the quarto editions, seem to have been omitted in the folio by inad­vertency.

p. 57.

My life were better ended by their hate,
Than death prorogued, wanting of thy love.

To prorogue, mr. Steevens observes, has not, in this place, its common signification, but means to delay. And what is its common signification, but to delay? When [Page 180]the king prorogues the parliament, he only defers or puts off its meeting to a future day.

p. 65.


Holy St. Francis! &c.

"Old copy, Jesu Maria! STEEVENS."

And why not this?

p. 68.


A pox of such antick, lisping, affecting fantasticoes.

Thus the old copies, says mr. Steevens, and rightly. The modern editors, adds he, read phantasies.

The folio, however, which is generally looked upon as an old copy, does NOT read fantasticoes; and Heminge and Condell, who are not usually ranked among modern editors, read phantacies.

p. 78.


Doth not rosemary and Romeo begin with a letter?


Ay, nurse; what of that? both with an R.

Ah, mocker! that's the dog's name. R is for the dog. No;
I know it begins with some other letter.

The old reading appears to be — R is for the no, I know it begins with some other letter. The alteration adopted was proposed by mr. Tyrwhitt, and is certainly superior to either dr. Warburtons (Thee? no) or dr. Johnsons (the nonce) not but the old reading is as good, if not better, when properly regulated, e. g.

Ah, mocker! that's the dog's name. R is for the—no;
I know it begins with some other letter.

In any case the long notes preceding mr. Tyrwhitts might be well spared, being now wholely impertinent to the text.

p. 83.

Therefore, love moderately; long love doth so;
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.

Alluding to the vulgar proverb: The more haste the worse speed.

p. 84.

But my true love is grown to such excess,
I cannot sum up half my sum of wealth.

The old copies, according to mr. Steevens, read: ‘I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth:’ And: ‘I cannot sum up some of half my wealth.’ The following would, therefor, be nearer the original read­ing, than the present text: ‘I cannot sum up th' sum of half my wealth.’

p. 99.

Back, foolish tears, back to your native spring;
Your tributary drops belong to woe,
Which you, mistaking, offer up to joy.

Mr. Steevens thinks the words woe and joy should change places; otherwise, says he, her reasoning is inconclusive. The learned critic does not seem to have paid his usual at­tention to the passage. The text is certainly right. Juliet says that she has more reason to rejoice than to be sorry at Tibalts death, and that therefor her tears are egregiously mistimed.

p. 100.

That—banished, that one word—banished,
Hath stain ten thousand Tybalts.

[Page 182] "Hath put Tybalt out of my mind, as if out of being JOHNSON."

Out of being? why, where was he before? The true meaning is: I am more affected by Romeos banishment than I should be by the death of ten thousand such relations as Tybalt.

p. 109.

It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierc'd the fearful hollow of thine ear:
Nightly she sits on you pomegranate tree.

"This is not," mr. Steevens says, "merely a poetical supposition. It is observed of the nightingale that, if un­disturbed, she sits and sings upon the same tree for many weeks together."

It may be very true; but the learned critic will recollect that it can only be so of the he, and not of the she nightin­gale: as the latter never sings. The discovery is not, in­deed, of the age of Shakspeare—but what of that?

p. 111.


Hunting thee hence with hunts up to the day.

The hunts up, mr. Steevens says, was the name of the tune anciently played to wake the hunters, and collect them together. And, in proof of it, he quotes a number of passages; to which, if the please, he may add the fol­lowing from Charles Cottons Virgil Travestie (which, in­deed, it is somewhat extraordinary he should omit): ‘I'll play the rakehells such a hunts up.

There was likewise a little rude song, which, it is sup­posed was formerly in use on this occasion, as we learn [Page 183]from Puttenham, Art of English Poesie, 1589. "One Gray," says he, "what good estimation did he grow into with king Henry [the eighth], and afterward with the duke of Somerset protectour, for making certain merry ballades, whereof one chiefly was, The hunte is up, the hunte is up." Whether the following be the identical merry ballade, doth not clearly appear; it is, however, very old:

The hunt is up, the hunt is up,
And now it is almost day;
And he that's a bed with another mans wife,
It's time to get him away.

Master Gray was, probably, author of both words and music; and the tune may have remained in use, after the words were forgot.

p. 128.

— gentle nurse,
I pray thee, leave me to myself to-night;
For I have need of many orisons
To move the heavens to smile upon my state.

Dr. Johnson, with that candour and politeness for which he is so remarkable, observes, that Juliet plays most of her pranks under the appearance of religion. Perhaps, says he, Shakspeare meant to punish her hypocrisy. If he had, we should, without doubt, have been, some how or other, in­formed of it. But Shakspeare would never have given the little innocent excuses her virtue and conjugal fidelity prompt her to make use of so harsh a name.—Sweet Juliet! little did'st thou dream, that, in addition to thy misfortunes, the unsullyed purity of thy angelic mind should, at this distance of time, be subject to the rude breath of criticism!—But rest in peace, sweet saint! thy [Page 184]fair untained name shall live—live in thy Shakspeares page—when even the critics memory is no more.

p. 136.

O son, the night before thy wedding day
Hath death lain with thy bride.

Mr. Steevens is willing to suppose that this passage may have been coarsely ridiculed in Deckers Satiromastix: ‘"Dead: she's Death's bride; he hath her maidenhead."’

The ingenious commentator, who pursues such objects with, perhaps, too much avidity, might have caught a much more likely hint in another place, from Juliets own mouth. The judicious reader, however, will find many opportunities to remark, that numerous expressions which are now degraded by vulgar currency, were perfectly in­nocent and polite in the age of Shakspeare.


Death is my son-in-law, death is my heir;
My daughter he hath wedded! I will die,
And leave him all; life leaving, all is death's.

"Death is my son-in-law, &c.] The remaining part of the speech I have restored from the quarto, 1609. STEEVENS."

It is unfortunate that the industrious editor did not know that the lines restored are in both the folios.

p. 139.


What will you give us?


No money, on my faith; but the gleek:

The use of this cant term is no where explained; and, in all probability, cannot at this distance of time be recovered. [Page 185]To gleek, however, signifyed to put a joke or trick upon a person, perhaps, to jest, according to the coarse humour of that age. So Bottom, Midsummor Nights Dream, act III. scene i.

— Nay I can gleek upon occasion.
Queen. Thou art as wise as thou art beautiful.

Dumps were heavy mournful tunes; possibly, indeed, any sort of movements were once so called, as we sometimes meet with—a merry dump. Hence doleful dumps, deep sorrow, or grievous affliction, as in the next page, and in the less ancient ballad of Chevy Chase. It is still said of a person uncommonly sad, that he is in the dumps.

p. 141.


It is—musick with her silver sound, because such fellows as you have no gold for founding.

Instead of fellows, which is the reading of the old quarto in 1597, later editions, mr. Steevens observes, have mu­sicians. "I should suspect," adds he, "that a fidler made the alteration."—But does the ingenious commentator really imagine that such fellows were the editors of subsequent impressions, or had even power to alter the language of Shakspeare whenever they were displeased at it? The change was, less doubtfully, made by the author, out of compliment to, or upon a remonstrance from, the Gentle­men of the orchestra.

p. 145.

— famine is in thy cheeks,
Need and oppression starveth in thine eyes.

The first quarto, mr. Steevens informs us, reads: ‘"And starved samine dwelleth in thy cheeks."’

[Page 186] The quartos, 1599, 1609, and the folio, as in the text.

The modern editors, without authority: ‘"Need and oppression stare within their eyes.’

The passage might, perhaps, be better regulated thus: ‘Need and oppression stareth in thy eyes.’

For they cannot, properly, be said to starve in his eyes; though starved famine may be allowed to dwell in his cheeks. Thy not thine is the reading of the folio. And those who are conversant in our author, and especially in the old co­pies, will scarcely notice the grammatical impropriety of the proposed emendation.

p. 147.

Unhappy fortune! by my brotherhood,
The letter was not nice, but full of charge
Of dear import.

That is, it was not a mere letter of compliment or cere­mony.

p. 150.


Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death.

Détestable is right. So Spenser (Faerie Queen. I. i. 26): ‘That detestable sight him much amaz'd.’

Which mr. Church has not been ashamed to declare read better, "in his ear," detèstable. Such an ear totally disqua­lifyed him for an editor of Spenser.

The modern pronunciation has arisen from vulgarity and ignorance: the word being not formed of the verb detest but derived from detestable, F. detestabilis, L. Thus, ad­mirable, comparable, &c.

[Page 187] The words persevere [persever] and perseverance are in the same predicament: always right in Shakspeare; and always wrong at present.

p. 151.

— I beseech thee, youth,
Pull not another sin upon my head,
By urging me to fury.

The quarto, 1597, it seems, has: heap not. The quartos, 1599 and 1609, and all the folios:—Put not.— Mr. Rowe first made the change, which mr. Steevens (and we are much indebted both to his sagacity and friendship) informs us, "may be discontinued at the readers pleasure." The editors duty, however, and not the readers pleasure ought to have determined the matter. The reader has it not in his power to discontinue any thing, but the perusal of the book. Either of the other words would answer as well.

p. 152.

How oft, when men are at the point of death
Have they been merry? which their keepers call
A lightning before death: O, how may I
Call this a lightning.

Dr. Johnson thinks we should read:

—O, now may I
Call this a lighting?

But how is certainly right and proper. Romeo had, just before, been in high spirits, a symptom, which he observes, was sometimes called a lightning before death: but how, says he, (for no situation can exempt Shakspeares characters from the vice of punning) can I term this sal and gloomy prospect a lightning.

p. 155.

— O here
Will I set up my everlasting rest.

This, again, is a quibble between the implement for­merly used by foot soldiers, and the certain quiet of a future state.

The writer of these notes will here take occasion to ob­serve, as one of the many great excellencies of this im­mortal bard, that no author, ancient or modern, ever sa­crificed less to the reigning superstition of the time than hisself. Whatever may be the temporary religion, Popish or Protestant, Paganism or Christianity, if its professors have the slightest regard for genius or virtue, Shakspeare, the poet of nature, addicted to no system of bigotry, will always be a favourite. There never was but one set of men who professed open enmity to his name and writings, and they were, at the same time, the declared and most virulent enemies of literature and morality, in every shape: It is scarcely necessary to add the mention of the barbarous en­thusiasts of the last century; one, and perhaps the best founded of whose charges against that great and good mo­narch whom they so savagely murdered was—his intimacy with the writings of WILLIAM SHAKSPEARE!!!—The circumstance would, at this time, at least, pass unnoticed in such a miscreant as Cocke, to whom a hatred of letters was as natural as it was to his more illustrious predecessor Jack Cade:—but when we see Milton—the sublime Milton—in­sisting upon the enormity of this amiable trait in the cha­racter of his murdered and libeled sovereign—our con­tempt for and detestation of the act is equaled by our sur­prize to find him the assassin!

p. 163.

Lau. I will be brief, &c.] Dr. Johnson thinks it "much to be lamented that the poet did not conclude the dialogue with the action, and avoid a narrative of events which the audience already knew." It was necessary, however, that the surviving characters should be made acquainted with the circumstances which produce the catastrophe, and we should have had more reason to condemn the poet for being brief than tedious. That our judicious author knew when to tell his story behind the curtain, and when upon the stage, is evident from the next play; and it was, perhaps, to avoid a sameness between the conclusion of that and present, that he has made the friar reveal the transaction to the audience; which naturally introduces the reconcili­ation of the two families and the moral reflections at the end of the scene, which, whatever the critic may think, are too valuable to be sacrificed to his mere rule and com­pass abridgement of it.

p. 165.

And I, for winking at your discords too,
Have lost a brace of kinsmen.

What kinsmen? Mercutio, doubtless, is one, and Ben­volio, we may presume is the other. The line, therefor, which communicated the tidings of the latters death to the audience, p. 162. ‘And young Benvolio is deceased too,’ and which mr. Steevens rejects, as he supposes Shakspeare to have done, "as unnecessary slaughter," should be re­stored to the text. His death should seem to have been oc­casioned by grief for the death of one friend, and the ba­nishment [Page 190]of the other: and we no where find that the prince was any way related to either the Capulets, or the Montagues.

HAMLET(19) 19.

p. 170.

If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
The rivals of my watch, bid them make hast.

By rivals the speaker certainly means partners (according to dr. Warburtons explanation), or those whom he expected to watch with him. Marcellus had watched with him be­fore; whether as a centinel, a volunteer, or from mere curiosity we do not learn: but whichever it was, it seems evident that his station was on the same spot with Bernardo, and that there is no other centinel by them relieved. Pos­sibly Marcellus was an officer, whose duty it was to visit each watch, and perhaps continue with it some time. Ho­ratio, as it appears, watches out of curiosity. But in act II. scene i. to Hamlets question, Hold you the watch to­night? Horatio, Marcellus, and Bernardo, all answer, we do, my honour'd lord. The folio, indeed, reads both, which one may, with greater propriety, refer to Marcellus and Bernardo. If we did not find the latter gentleman in such good company, we might have taken him to have been like [Page 191]Francisco, whom he relieves, an honest, but common, sol­dier. The strange indiscriminate use of Italian and Roman names in this and other plays makes it obvious that the author was very little conversant in even the rudiments of either language.

p. 185.


But now, my cousin Hamlet and my son.


A little more than KIN and less than KIND.

i. e. we are, indeed, somewhat too nearly related, but our relationship savours very little either of nature or af­fection.

Why the page of Shakspeare should be loaded and dis­graced with such a quantity of ill-founded and injudicious notes, is a question that every reader will find frequent oc­casion to ask. To any one acquainted with the language of Shakspeare and of nature, the sense of this passage was sufficiently clear. Bishop Warburton and dr. Johnson, out of the abundance of their misunderstanding, have done every thing in their power to confound it; and those who look upon them to be the most intelligent and sagacious of all possible critics, are naturally led to conceive difficul­ties which do not exist. Mr. Steevens has established the true reading, and, if there be any necessity for a note, his, with a little alteration, should alone remain, and all the others be consigned to the oblivion they so well merit.

p. 188.

— Let the world take note,
You are the most immediate to our throne;
And with no less nobility of love,
Than that which dearest father bears his son,
Do I impart toward you.

[Page 192] "The crown of Denmark was elective. STEEVENS."

Whereever the learned commentator acquired this piece of knowlege, certain it is, that his quotation from Sir Clyo­mon proves no such thing:

And me possess for spoused wife, who in election am
To have the crown of Denmark here, as heir unto the same.

For it clearly appears, from this, that she was to take the crown by hereditary right. The words in election im­plying no more than that she had such right by the election, the chosenness, the elevation of her rank and family. The king tells Hamlet that he is the most immediate to the throne, i. e. heir apparent, or, at least, presumptive heir, which would be absurd, on an idea that the crown was elective. (See also the conversation of Laertes with his sister, in scene iii.)

Impart most assuredly means profess myself, bear me to­wards you; and not what dr. Johnson says, (i. e. communicate whatever I can bestow) whose note, as well as mr. Steevenses, should be entirely expunged.

p. 190.

Or that the everlasting had not fix'd,
His canon 'against self-slaughter.

A quibble between ordnance and ecclesiastical decrees. Mr. Steevens is an advocate for the former sense; mr. Theobald for the latter. What happyness, what immortal glory, to be the conciliator of such contending chieftains in criti­cism!

p. 210.

For the apparel oft proclaims the man;
And they in France, of the best rank and station,
Are most select, and generous chief, in that.

This pointing, which comes recommended by mr. Steevens, makes the most ingenious and absolute nonsense of the whole passage. The folios read:

[Page 193] Are of a most select and generous cheff in that, without any punctuation. The genuine meaning of the passage requires us to point the line thus: ‘Are most select and generous, chief in that.’

i. e. the nobility of France are select and generous above all other nations, and chiefly in the point of apparel; the richness and elegance of their dress.

p. 208.

— That these men, —
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect;
Being nature's livery or fortune's star

One of the quarto editions (and the editors have not con­descended to inform us that the passage is, in consequence no doubt of the authors own alteration, omitted in the folios) reads scar, which dr. Johnson thinks more proper. But dr. Johnson did not, perhaps, know, neither does it appear that mr. Steevens could acquaint him, that the word star, in the text, signifies a scar of that appearance. It is a term of farriery: the white star or mark so common on the forehead of a dark coloured horse is, according to another humane practice, peculiar, it is believed, to this generous country, usually produced by making a scar on the place.


— The dram of base
Doth all the noble substance of worth out,
To his own scandal.

This must be allowed a very difficult, and perplexed passage. But as mr. Steevenses proposed reading (doth all the noble substance oft do out), or rather, indeed, mr. Holts (Doth all the noble substance oft adopt), comes nearest to the traces of the original

[Page 194]
(— The dram of ease
Doth all the noble substance of a doubt),

it ought to have been inserted in preference to Theobalds. And the whole speech, from the fourth line, should have been thrown to the bottom of the page, or, perhaps, totally omitted, as apparently rejected, by the author, upon a revision of his play.

p. 214.


— To what issue will this come?


Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.


Heaven will direct it.

"Perhaps," says dr. Farmer, "it may be more apposite to read, heaven will detect it."

Horatio asks to what issue this strange busyness will come, and not receiving any answer from Marcellus, at least one to his purpose, very naturally adds, Heaven will direct or lead it. Dr. Farmer and Horatio seem to be thinking of two distinct subjects: the latter is reflecting upon the ap­pearance of the ghost; the former upon the rottenness of the state.

p. 217.

I find thee apt,
And duller should'st thou be than the fat weed
That rots itself in ease on Lethe's wharf,
Would'st thou not stir in this.

Rots itself, is the reading of the two first folios; that of the quarto, mr. Steevens informs us (but as there are more quartos than one, we should have been more obliged to him if he had told us to which he alludes, and what the others read), is roots: and mr. Pope followed it: though mr. Steevens thinks the superiority of the present reading ap­parent. [Page 195]"To be in a quiescent state" he says, "(i. e. to root itself) affords an idea of activity." Very little activity, one would imagine, is necessary for the purpose of a weed rooting itsself; and that little is made almost none, when it roots itsself in ease. To rot, he thinks, better suits with the dullness and inaction to which the ghost refers." "And yet," adds he, "the accusative case itself may seem to demand the verb roots." And with that reading the text would certainly be better. For, setting aside the impro­priety of giving an octive signification to a neuter verb, it is far from being either necessary or even proper that the ghost should have any allusion to rottenness and decay: fat­ness and stupidity being generally attended, at least in this world, with a tolerable share both of good health and of good fortune.

p. 231.


Good sir, or so; or friend or gentleman.

This is the reading of all the old copies; and there is not a more plain, simple, certain 20, and intelligible line in these ten volumes; nor one that has more exercised the attention and ingenuity of the learned and sagacious commentators. Such readers as are better acquainted with Shakspeare than with the modern improvements upon him, [Page 196]will not be displeased to see a list of their several emenda­tions.

Dr. WARBURTON: Good sir, or sire, i. e. father.

Dr. JOHNSON: Good, sir, forsooth, or friend or gentle­man.

Mr. STEEVENS: Good sir, or so forth, friend or gentle­man.

Mr. TYRWHITT: Good sir, or sir, &c.

Each of these proposals is recommended by a long note; and there is, besides, a memoir by the reverend and learned dr. Percy, upon the word forsooth. Illustrious critics! how much is the spir [...]t of Shakspeare indeb [...]ed to your unpa­ralleled generosity, and unexampled friendship!

p. 236.

But, we both obey,
And here give up ourselves in the full bent
To lay our service freely at your feet —

Bent dr. Warburton would have to be endeavour, appli­cation. He is wrong: it means, inclination, will, resolution, desire.

p. 238

Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy,
Gives him threescore thousand crowns in annual-sie.

Fee in this place, says mr. Steevens, signifies reward, re­compence. The word annual, however, might have in­clined him to find some other meaning for it. The king gave his nephew a feud or see (in land) of that yearly value. The folio reads the line thus: ‘Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee.’ [Page 197]But mr. Theobald, and the present editors after him, thinking that too little for a prince, have very liberally (upon the credit of some of the old quarto editions) en­larged his income to 60,000. To be sure the interpolation spoiled the measure: but as the critic has for this licence the authority of one of the CANONS, nothing is to be objected on that head.

p. 247.


Conception is a blessing; but not as your daugh­ter may conceive.

This reading is not explained. Conception (understand­ing), says Hamlet, is a blessing, but the conception (preg­nancy) of your daughter would not be one.

p. 255.


— An aiery of little eyases

Mr. Theobald had no such mighty reason to plume his­self on having done what is just equal to nothing at all: for Yases (the old reading), had he known how to pronounce it, would not have been round to differ, in any very ex­traordinary degree, from his most sagacious emendation.

p. 258.


Then came each actor on his ass.

This, says dr. Johnson, seems to be a line of an old bal­lad. He has, therefor, caused it to be printed in the Italic character. But there appears no other ground for the supposition, than the good doctors opinion, which is not sufficient in these matters to authorise an alteration in the type.


Pol. The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, [tragical­historical, tragical-comical, historical-pastoral] scene undividable, &c.

"The words within the crotchets," says mr. Steevens, "I have recovered from the folio, and see no reason why they were hitherto omitted." But though the learned commen­tator could see no reason why the words were omitted before, his readers can see one why they should be omitted now; viz. that the words historical-pastoral may not be absurdly repeated. The truth is, that the industrious editor has en­tirely lost the merit of his recovery, by the negligence of his printer: the folio properly reads: ‘— pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-histo­rical, tragical-comical- historical-pastoral, &c.’

p. 259.

Ham. Why, as By lot, God-wot, &c.] The original bal­lad, in black-letter, is among Anthony à Woods collections in the Ashmolean Museum.

p. 260.


O old friend! Why, thy face is valanc'd since I saw thee last; com'st thou to beard me in Denmark.

Valanc'd should have been explained. It means over­hung with a canopy or tesier like a bed. The folios read valiant, which seems right. The comedian was, probably, "bearded like the pard."

p. 262.

Ham. — the play, I remember, pleas'd not the million; 'twas caviare to the general.

The discordant accounts given in this page will fully jus­tify the following quotation from a writer of sense and veracity.

[Page 199] "Caviare is made at Astracan of the rows of Sturgeon and Belluga, a large fish, about twelve or fifteen feet long, without scales, not unlike a sturgeon, but more luscious and large; his flesh is whiter than veal, and more delicious than marrow. Of these two fishes they take great numbers only for their rows sake, which they salt and press and put up into casks; some they send unpress'd, and a little corn'd with salt, being accounted a great dainty." Present state of Russia, by dr. Collins, 1671, 12mo.

Hamlet seems to mean, that the play, like the pickled sturgeon, was a delicacy for which the multitude had no relish; and, hereby, pays the said multitude a compliment he did not intend; since it is hard to say, whether his tra­gedy or his caviare were the more strange and unnatural food.

p. 268.

What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
That he should weep for her?

Mr. Upton and sir John Hawkins think this expression a plain allusion to a passage in Plutarchs life of Pelopidas, which the latter has here quoted at length. This story Shakspeare had undoubtedly read in sir Thomas Norths translation: but that he here alludes to it is not equally apparent. Hamlets observation merely relates, as the players grief did, to the bombast stuff about Hecuba which the latter had just done spouting.

p. 273.


Her father, and myself (lawful espials).

"The words—lawful espials, are WANTING in the FOLIO. STEEVENS"

[Page 200] This is not altogether so certain. At least both the first and second folios appear to read: ‘Her father, and my selfe (LAWFULL ESPIALS).’

p. 278.

— Who would fardels bear,
To groan and sweat under a weary life;
But that the dread of something after death, —
The undiscover'd country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns—puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sickly'd o'er with the pale cast of thought;
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard, their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

Groan.] Dr. Johnson is for or against Shakspeares own words just as it suits his purpose or inclination: if grunt (the reading of all the old copie [...]) be to be changed to groan merely because (as he says) it can scarcely be borne by modern ears, Shakspeare may be so transmografyed (how do your ears bear that, dr. Johnson?) and frittered away, by his friendly editors, in the course of a few years, that, if he were to rise from the dead, he could not possibly know his own work.

The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns.

It may still be a question how far dr. Farmers note re­moves the force or ground of lord Orrcrys objection.

A very simple person once observed, that it is rather ex­traordinary for Hamlet to say that no Traveler had ever re­turned [Page 201]from this undiscovered country, when he has, a few moments before, had a long conversation with the spirit of his father, which had returned from it, for the sole pur­pose of speaking to him.

Pith.] The quartos, it seems, have pitch, which is cer­tainly the better reading. The allusion is to the pitching or throwing the bar;—a manly exercise, usual in country villages.

p. 280.


You should not have believ'd me: for virtue cannot so inoculate our old stock, but we shall relish of it.

Innocculate is the reading of the folios. The first quarto, according to mr. Steevens, reads euocutat; the second, euacuat; and the third euacuate. So that evacuate appears to be the true reading. The word adopted renders the pas­sage absolute nonsense.

p. 282.


Like sweet bells jangled out of tune and harsh

Would it not be better to read time, with the quarto?

p. 285.


I would have such a fellow whipp'd for o'er-doing Termagant; it out-herods Herod.

Dr. Percy (who has been long suspected to deal a little too much in creatures of his own imagination) should, at least, have pointed out some one of the old Moralities in which this Saracen Deity of his is so clamorous and violent. "Grennyng upon her lyke Termagauntes in a play" (Bales Acts of English Votaries. Reliques, I. 77.), which is, [Page 202]very probably, all the authority the learned dignitary had for his assertion, seems to mean no more than the behavi­our of those fiends or imps, so frequently to be met with in the ancient Mysteries.

p. 289.

Dost thou hear?
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice,
And could of men distinguish, her election
Hath seal'd thee for herself.

Though this be the reading of the two first folios, it is certainly much inferiour to the following, which mr. Steevens gives us from an old quarto:

And could of men distinguish her election,
Sh' hath seal'd thee, &c.

Distinguish her election, is no more than make her election; Distinguish of men is exceeding harsh, to say the best of it.

p. 292.


O, your only jigmaker.

Mr. Steevens has clearly proved that jig in the authors time signifyed a ludicrous dialogue in metre, or a common [...]ulgar ballad; but he is as clearly wrong in asserting that it did not, at that time, signify a dance. He may be satisfyed of the fact, by onely turning over the next leaf, from his own note: ‘— tumbling dauncing of gigges.

p. 292. b.


— let the devil wear black, for I'll have a suit of sables.

[Page 203] That a suit of sables was a very rich dress, and that an equivoque is hardly intended, will appear from the following passage:

"I had rather," says honest Sancho, when he is taking leave of his government, "cover my selfe with a double sheepe skinne, ..... then be clothed in Sables." Shelton, P. 2. p. 359. e. 1620. 4to.

p. 300.


Gonzago is the duke's name; his wife, Baptista.

Mr. — thinks that Baptista is, in Italian, the name always of a man. He is certainly right: Baptista, Battista, or Giam-battista, means no more or less than John the Baptist.

p. 302.


Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers and two provencial roses on my rayed shoes.

After such a conclusive note in support of the old reading (raz'd or rac'd), why is mr. Popes capricious alteration still suffered to usurp a place in the text?

p. 304.

For thou dost know, O Damon dear,
This realm dismantled was
Of Jove himself; and now reigns here
A very, very—peacock.

The first folio has paiocke, one of the quartos, it seems, and the second folio pajecke, and another quarto paicocke. Mr. Theobald, in a very long note, contends that we should read paddock, which he interprets a Toad. As this is a most groundless and absurd conjecture, mr. Malone—be­lieves it to be the true reading! Alas, poor Shakspeare!— [Page 204] Peacock, however, is so certainly right, that the very cor­ruption of the old editions serves to confirm it:—the sur­name Peacock, and, most probably, the bird itsself, is still, in many parts of the country, called Paike. A paddock is a frog. Hamlets using that word afterwards is nothing to the purpose here. A peacock means a creature of no value but for its gawdy trappings: but Theobald is evidently right ins [...]upposing that it is onely substituted for the word ass.

p. 316.

Now might I do it, pat, now he is praying;
And now I'll do't;—And so he goes to heaven:
And so am I reveng'd?—That would be scann'd:
A villain kills my father; and, for that
I, his sole son, do this same villain send
To heaven.
Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
He took my father grossly, full of bread;
With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May;
And, how his audit stands, who knows, save heaven?
But, in our circumstance and course of thought,
'Tis heavy with him: and am I then reveng'd,
To take him in the purging of his soul,
When he is fit and season'd for his passage?
Up sword and know thou a more horrid hent:
When he is drunk, asleep, or in his rage;
Or in the incestuous pleasures of his bed;
At gaming, swearing; or about some act
That has no relish of salvation in't:
Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven;
And that his soul may be as damn'd, and black,
As hell whereto it goes.

[Page 205] "This speech," says dr. Johnson, "in which Hamlet, re­presented as a virtuous character, is not content with taking blood for blood, but contrives damnation for the man that he would punish, is too horrible to be read or to be uttered."

How far it detracts from the virtue of Hamlet to be represented as lying in wait for an opportunity to take an adequate and complete revenge upon the murderer of his father, is a question not, with submission to the great mo­ralist, quite so easyly decided. The late king has reported hisself to have been destroyed in the most deliberate, horrid, and diabolical manner;

Cut off ev'n in the blossom of his sin,
Unhousel'd, disappointed, unaneal'd,
No reckoning made, but sent to his account,
With all his imperfections on his head:
O horrible! O horrible! most horrible!

Under such aggravated circumstances, for Hamlet to be content with having what dr. Johnson calls blood for blood, would have been taking an inadequate and imperfect revenge, and, consequently, doing an act of injustice and impiety to the manes of his murdered parent. But, indeed, the reasons Hamlet here gives for his conduct, as they are better than any other person can make for him, will fully justify both him and it, against all such hypercritical op­position to the end of time.

p. 318.

A bloody deed;—almost as bad, good mother,
As kill a king, and marry with his brother.
As kill a king?

This exclamation, which mr. Steevens thinks may be considered as some hint, that the queen had no hand in her [Page 206]husbands murder, is as likely to proceed from surprised guilt, as conscious innocence. There is, indeed, no direct proof before us, of her being accessory to the late kings death: but his referring her punishment

— to Heaven,
And to those thorns that in her bosom-lodge,
To goad and sting her;

and her own confession of the black and grained spots she sees in her very soul, which will not leave their tinct, do, surely, render her share in that shocking transaction very suspi­cious.

p. 321.

— Sense, sure you have,
Else, could you not have motion: but sure that sense
Is apoplex'd.

This is, certainly, the true reading. Hamlet means that the queen must have some kind of sense, otherwise she could not walk about, use her eyes, hands, &c. as she was every day seen to do. Mr. Malones note (in which he explains motion by libidinous inclination), instead of throwing light upon the passage, does essential injury to it.

p. 325.


— A vice of kings,

The vice, says dr. Johnson, is a low mimick, the foo of a farce, from whom the modern punch is descended. But, with a [...]l proper deference to so good a judge in these ma [...]ters, it is a much more probable conjecture that the facetious master Punch and his wife Joan are the tru­re re [...]entarives of those distinguished characters, in the old m [...]steries, Pontius Pilate and his dreaming lady. The [...], as we elsewhere read, had a dagger of lath (i. e. [Page 207]a sword of thin wood), and is very likely the genuine ances­tor of our more modern Harlequin. The fool of the Christ­mas gambols, in the North of Yorkshire, is yet called the Vice.

p. 328.

For this same lord
I do repent; but heaven hath pleas'd it so,
To punish him with me, and me with him.

This, dr. Johnson tells us, is Hanmers reading; the other editions have it, ‘To punish me with this, and this with me.

What thanks are due from every lover of Shakspeare to these worthy editors for their constant and successful edea­vours to preserve his genuine text!

p. 329.


— a pair of reechy kisses.

Reechy is, here, not smoky, as mr. Steevens interprets it, but dirty and greasy, like the appearance of a cook-wenches face, or chimney-bacon. This is, likewise, its meaning in Coriolanus:

— The kitchen Malkin pins
Her richest lockram 'bout her reechy neck.

p. 338.


The bark is ready, and the wind at help.

i. e. at hand, ready, ready to help or assist you. Dr. Johnson supposes it should be—the wind at helm.

p. 240.

And thou must cure me: till I know 'tis done,
Howe' [...]r my haps, my joys were ne'er begun.

[Page 208] "Howe'er my haps, my joys will ne'er begin.] This being the termination of a scene, should, according to our authors custom, be rhymed. Perhaps he wrote, Howe'er my hopes, my joys are not begun. JOHNSON."’

"The folio reads, in confirmation of dr. Johnsons re­mark, — ‘Howe'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun. STEEVENS."’

This is true: but is it not, at the same time, a con­clusive proof either that dr. Johnson never looked into the folio, or that he has ascribed what he there found to his own sagacity?

Something of this nature has been before observed. Dr. Johnsons captious readyness to question mr. Theobalds in­tegrity on similar, though much more dubious, occasions is a sufficient justification of truth and candour to dwell on circumstances which might, perhaps, otherwise have been left unnoticed.

p. 346.

To-morrow is St. Valentines day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.

Without doubt, says dr. Farmer, Good morrow 'tis Saint Valentines day.

The young lady comes to her sweethearts window the day before: the choosing of Valentines is always the busyness of the vigil or eve.

p. 347.


By Gis, and by Saint Charity.

[Page 209] Gis is, likely enough, a corruption of Jesus. But surely it cannot be imagined that the letters l. H. S. on book backs, &c. could any way contribute to it.

p. 361.

— The other motive,
Is the great love the general gender bear him:
Who dipping all his faults in their affection,
Work, like the spring that turneth wood to stone,
Convert his gyves to graces.

The folio, mr. Steevens observes, instead of work reads would. And should not the present edition have done so? Dr. Johnson seems not to understand the passage: the king says that the common people would turn Hamlets faults into virtues, as strange a perversion, adds he, as that produced by the spring which changes wood to stone. The learned and sagacious editor has a similar property; but his alchemy only serves to convert gold to lead: he has a very ready knack at changing the most perfect sense to the most abso­lute nonsense.

p. 367.

— good Laertes,
Will you do this, keep close within your chamber;
Hamlet, return'd, shall know you are come home:
We'll put on those shall praise your excellence,
And set a double varnish on the fame
The Frenchman gave you; bring you, in fine, together,
And wager o'er your heads: he, being remiss,
Most generous and free from all contriving,
Will not peruse the foils; so that, with ease,
Or with a little shuffling, you may choose
A sword unbated, and, in a pass of practice,
Requite him for your father.
[Page 210]
I will do't:
And, for the purpose, I'll anoint my sword,
I bought an unction of a mountebank,
So mortal that but dip a knife in it,
Where it draws blood, no cataplasm so rare,
Collected from all simples tliat have virtue
Under the moon, can save the thing from death
That is but scratch'd withal: I'll touch my point
With this contagion, that, if I gall him slightly,
It may be death.

It is a matter of surprise that neither dr. Johnson, nor any other of Shakspeares numerous and able commentators has remarked, with proper warmth and detestation, the villainous assassin-like treachery of Laertes in this horrid plot. There is the more occasion that he should be here pointed out an object of abhorrence as he is a character we are, in some preceding parts of the play, led to respect and admire.

p. 379.


We must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us.

To do any thing by the card, says dr. Johnson, is to do if with nice observation; the card, being, according to him, the paper on which the different points of the compass were described: that is, the compass-paper itsself. But it is not. The card is a sea-chart, still so termed by mariners: and the word is afterwards used by Osrick in the same sense. Hamlets meaning will therefor be, we must speak directly foreward, in a siraight line, plainly to the point.

p. 397.


The king, sir, hath wager'd with him six Barbary horses: against the which he has impon'd six French rapiers, &c.

[Page 211] To impone is certainly right, and means to put down, to stake, from the verb impono. To depone, which dr. John­son perhapses it should be, is the same as to depose, to swear, or give evidence upon oath, as he might have concluded from the very passage he has quoted from Hudibras.

p. 398.


The king, sir, hath lay'd, that in a dozen passes between yourself and him, he shall not exceed you three hits: he hath lay'd on twelve for nine.

This wager dr. Johnson candidly professes hisself unable to understand. In a dozen passes, he says, one must exceed the other more or less than three hits: nor can be compre­hend how, in a dozen, there can be twelve to nine. Mr. Malone, however, with the assistance of a "slight correc­tion already made by sir T. Hanmer," thinks he has recon­ciled all difficulties. By a dozen passes between yourself and him, he understands a dozen passes for each. The mean­ing then, says he, is—"The king hath laid, that in a dozen passes a-piece between you and Laertes, he shall not have the advantage of you by three hits. He (viz. the king) hath laid on the terms of Laertes making twelve hits for nine which you shall make."—Or perhaps, he adds, the last he means Laertes, and then it will run—"He (viz. Laertes) hath laid on terms of making twelve hits for nine which you shall make." This, continues the ingenious critic, just exceeds Hamlets number by three. If therefor, says he, Laertes in his 12 passes should make 12 hits, and Hamlet in his 12 but 9, the king would lose.—If on the other hand, Laertes should make but 11 hits, and Hamlet 9, or Laertes 12 and Hamlet 10, his majesty would win.

[Page 212] Mr. Ma [...]one has evidently bestowed great pains in the above nice and accurate calculation. And great is his praise as an ingenious commentator, and a dexterous arithme­tician. It must, therefor, be with no small diffidence after so laborious and mathematical a discussion of this intricate subject, which he has, doubtless, most satisfactoryly ex­pounded, and, in the stile of his good old school-master, the venerable mr. Cocker, made plain to the meanest capacity, that any anonymous scribbler should venture to question the radix of his figurative system: and if that should unfor­tunately cause a demolition of the whole fabric, alas the day!

That a dozen passes a-piece were NOT intended, does evi­dentry appear from the ensuing scene, in which the king, previously to the encounter, declares, that,

If Hamlet give the first or second hit,
Or quit in answer of the third exchange,

he will then drink his health. It is clear from this, that Laertes might get these three hits. But, in case either party (no matter which) were to be the sole assailant for the first twelve passes, and the other stand altogether on the defen­sive, as the ingenious commentators own idea allows one to suppose, the kings proposal would be ridiculous and ab­surd; for, if Hamlet played his bouts first, Laertes could not have a single chance out of 12 passes, or, at least, 9: and, on the contrary, if Laertes took the lead, there would be no possibility of Hamlets getting a single hit. The ingenious c [...]itic takes it for granted that passes might be made without a bit on either side; a conjecture for which there is not the slightest ground in the play: each pass (or number of passes) seems to have been made for the purpose of getting the hit, and did not end till the hit was given. But let us [Page 213]see how the parties behave in the trial scene. "Here they play," each endeavouring, we find, to hit the other. Hamlet gets the first and second hits, and calls on his antagonist for the third bout; praying him to pass with his best violence: they play again: La [...]rtes wounds Hamlet: they become incensed, change rapiers, and Hamlet wounds Laertes. There does not seem the least foundation for the ingenious hypothesis and calculation in the note; the whole structure must, therefor, inevitably [...]a [...]l to the ground. Had they played with coolness, and supposing their skill equal, the odds were (and so we are to understand Osrick) 12 to 9 in favour of Hamlet; for Laertes, to win, must have got 8 hits at the least; whereas Hamlet would have won if he had onely got 5; so that he had clearly the advantage of Laertes, in point of number, three whole passes or hits, and the odds were 8 to 5, which is in the same arithmetical proportion as 12 to 9, in Hamlets favour, before they begun to play. This is Shakspeares meaning, and renders the text clear and consistent throughout. And it onely remains to be consi­dered whether dr. Johnson or mr. Malone has understood the passage best?

p. 405.

I am satisfy'd in nature,
Whose motion, in this case, should stir me most
To my revenge: but in my terms of honour
I stand aloof; and will no reconcilement,
Till by some elder masters, of known honour,
I have a view and precedent of peace,
To keep my name ungor'd: But, till that time,
I do receive your offer'd love like love,
And will not wrong it.

This, mr. Steevens says, was a piece of satire on fantas­tical honour. Though nature, adds he, is satisfyed, yet [Page 214]he will ask advice of older men of the sword, whether arti­ficial honour ought to be contented with Hamlets submission. But, in fact, the passage is as little intended for a satire, as the honour Laertes alludes to, is artificial or fantastical. The ingenious commentator does not, surely, mean to contend that nature and honour are one and the same thing? The sentiments of Laertes, and almost his very words, would, one may venture to say, be adopted by men of real honour, in similar circumstances, in any country or in any age. He is, notwithstanding, a treacherous and diabolical villain.

p. 406.


Your grace hath laid the adds o'the weaker side.

Mr. Malone (for, unluckyly, as he did not understand the passage, he found it would not, in its present shape, suit his ingenious hypothesis and curious calculations in a pre­ceding page) would have us read: ‘Your grace hath laid upon the weaker side.’ But the text is perfectly right, and neither requires nor ad­mits of alteration. The king had wagered, on Hamlets part, six Barbary horses against a few rapiers, poniards, &c. i. e. about twenty to one. ODDS enough, in all conscience! And yet is this same mr. Malone, in another place, so hardy as to assert that no unequal stakes were laid.

p. 408.


I am afraid you make a wanton of me.

i. e. you trifle with me, as if you were playing with a child. Dr. Johnson onely observes that a wanton was a man feeble and effeminate. He might as well have said it was a horse or an elephant.

[Page 215]
— I would have thee gone,
And yet no further than a wantons bird,
That lets it hop a little from his hand,
And with a silk thread pulls it back again.
Romeo and Juliet.

p. 411.

Now cracks a noble heart: Good night, sweet prince;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Mr. Steevenses note on this passage is so interesting and extraordinary that it becomes necessary to insert it here at large, lest it might be thought to be partially or unfairly represented in the remarks which it has occasioned.

"Let us review for a moment the behaviour of Hamlet, on the strength of which Horatio founds this eulogy, and recommends him to the patronage of angels.

"Hamlet, at the command of his father's ghost, under­takes with seeming alacrity to revenge the murder; and declares he will banish all other thoughts from his mind. He makes, however, but one effort to keep his word, and that is, when he mistakes Polonius for the king. On ano­ther occasion, he defers his purpose till he can find an op­portunity of taking his uncle when he is least prepared for death, that he may insure damnation to his soul. Though he assassinated Polonius by accident, yet he deliberately procures the execution of his school-fellows, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who appear to have been unacquainted with the treacherous purposes of the mandate they were employed to carry. Their death (as he declares in a subse­quent conversation with Horatio) gives him no concern, for they obtruded themselves into the service, and he thought he had a right to destroy them. He is not less ac­countable for the distraction and death of Ophelia. He [Page 216]comes to interrupt the funeral designed in honour of this lady, at which both the king and queen were present; and, by such an outrage to decency, renders it still more neces­sary for the usurp [...]r to lay a second stratagem for his life, though the first had proved abortive. He comes to insult the brother of the dead, and to boast of an affection for his sister, which, before, he had denied to her face; and yet at this very time must be considered as desirous of sup­porting the character of a madman, so that the openness of his confession is not to be imputed to him as a virtue. He apologizes to Horatio afterwards for the absurdity of this behaviour, to which, he says, he was provoked by that nobleness of fraternal grief, which, indeed, he ought rather to have applauded than condemned. Dr. Johnson has observed, that to bring about a reconciliation with Laertes, he has availed himself of a dishonest fallacy; and to conclude, it is obvious to the most careless spectator or reader, that he kills the king at last to revenge himself, and not his father.

"Hamlet cannot be said to have pursued his ends by very warrantable means; and if the poet, when he sacri­ficed him at last, meant to have enforced such a moral, it is not the worst that can be deduced from the play; for as Maximus, in Beaumont and Fletchers Valentinian, says,

"Although his justice were as white as truth,
"His way was crooked to it; that condemns him."

"The late dr. Akinside once observed to me, that the conduct of Hamlet was every way unnatural and indefen­sible, unless he were to be regarded as a young man whose intellects were in some degree impaired by his own misfor­tunes; by the death of his father, the loss of expected so­vereignty, and a sense of shame resulting from the hasty and incestuons marriage of his mother.

[Page 217] "I have dwelt the longer on this subject, because Ham­let seems to have been hitherto regared as a hero not un­deserving the pity of the audience; and because no writer on Shakespeare has taken the pains to point out the immoral tendency of his character."

There are very few, it is believed, at all acquainted with this inimitable author, who would not be surprised, nay astonished, at such a severe and unexpected attack upon his principal and most favourite character: a character every one has been hitherto led to admire and esteem, not more by universal and long established opinion, than by the senti­ments and feelings of his own mind. To find the amiable, the injured, the distracted, and unfortunate Hamlet repre­sented as a worthless and immoral being, totally undeserv­ing of the least pity from those almost numberless audiences whom the united force of Nature, Shakspeare, and Garrick has compelled to weep for his misfortunes; and whose compassion would not be less in the closet than in the theatre, seems the most extraordinary and irreconcilable proceeding in a writer of genius and learning that can be well imagined. However, as the heavy charges which are here brought against him will, upon the slightest examination, appear to be groundless, unwarrantable, and unjust, there is little reason to fear that the confidence and ingenuity with which they are advanced and supported will answer the purpose of the learned objector.

Hamlet, the onely child of the late king, upon whose death he became lawfully intitled to the crown, had, it seems, ever since that event, been in a state of melancholy, owing to ex­cessive grief for the suddenness with which it had taken place, and an indignant horror at his mothers speedy and incestu­ous marriage. The spirit of the king his father appears, and makes him acquainted with the circumstances of his un­timely [Page 218]fate, which he excites him to revenge: this Ham­let engages to do: an engagement it does not appear he ever forgot. It behoved him, however, to conduct hisself with the greatest prudence. The usurper was powerful, and had Hamlet carryed his design into immediate execu­tion, it could not but have been attended with the worst consequences to his own life and fame. No one knew what the ghost had imparted to him; till he afterwards made Horatio acquainted with it: and though his interview with the spirit gave him certain proof and sa­tisfactory reason to know and detest the usurper, it would scarcely, in the eye of the people, have justifyed his killing their king. To conceal, and, at a convenient time, to ef­fect, his purpose, he counterfeits madness, and, for his greater assurance, puts the spirits evidence and the usurpers guilt to the test of a play, by which the truth of each is manifested. He soon after espies the usurper at prayers, but resolves, and with great justice resolves, not to kill him in the very moment when he might be making his peace with heaven: inasmuch as a death so timed would have been rather a happyness than a punishment, and, by no means, a proper revenge for his fathers murder. We next find him in the queens apartment, endeavouring to make her sensible of the state of vice and horror into which her unnatural connection with the usurper had plunged her. At the beginning of this conference he mistakes Polonius, who was behind the arras, and about to alarm the household, for the usurper, and, under that apprehension, stabs him. The spirit appears (not very necessaryly, perhaps) "to whe [...] his almost blunted purpose." He is, immediately, sent off to England: and, in his passage, discovers the treacherous and fatal purpose of the commission with which his compa­nion and pretended friends were charged. These men, he [Page 219]knew, had eagerly solicited and even thrust theirselves upon this employment; and he had, of course, sufficient reason to conclude that they were well acquainted with the nature and purport of their fatal packet. That Shakspeare meant to charge them with this knowlege, and to represent them as participes criminis, is evident from the old black letter Hystorie which furnished him with the subject, where they are not only made privy to, but actually devise the scheme to take Hamlets life. His own safety depended on their removal; and, at such a time, and under such circum­stances, he would have been fully justifyed in using any means to procure it.

That he is "accountable for the distraction and death of Ophelia" is a most strange charge indeed. He had, to be sure, accidentally killed her father, whom he took for his betters. This causes her distraction; and her distraction causes her death. A most lamentable train of circumstances! and with which the moral character of Hamlet is as little concerned at that of the ingenious, though uncandid, com­mentator.

That "he comes to interrupt the funeral designed in ho­nour of this lady," is an assertion which has nothing but the credit of the asserter to support it. Walking with his friend Horatio through a churchyard, he enters into con­versation with a grave-digger; but, presently, observing the approach of a funeral procession, he says to Horatio, to whom he was then speaking:

Soft, soft, aside. Here comes the king,
The queen, the courtiers: Who is this they follow?
And with such maimed rites? This doth betoken
The corse they follow, did with desperate hand
[Page 220]Fordo its own life. 'Twas of some estate,
Couch we a while, and mark.

Does it appear from hence that he knew, or had the least reason to suspect this to be the funeral of Ophelia; or even that he was apprised of her distraction or unfortu­nate death? The contrary is most certain. He left the [...]ingdom before her insanity broke out, and does not re­turn till after she is dead: he has seen no one, except Ho­ratio, who was certainly unacquainted with the latter cir­cumstance, so that it is next to an impossibility that he could have known what had happened to her. But to pro­ceed: Laertes asking what ceremony else? Hamlet observes to Horatio, That is Laertes; a very noble youth. Laertes concluding his expostulation about the further honours with the following beautyful lines:

— lay her i'the earth;
And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring!—I tell thee, churlish priest,
A ministring angel shall my sister be,
When thou liest howling;

Hamlet exclaims: What! the fair Ophelia? His surprise and astonishment on hearing Laertes name his sister are manifestly apparent, and may serve to convince the learned critic, and every one who has been misled by his ill-founded accusations, that Hamlet does NOT come to interrupt the funeral, and is guilty of NO outrage what­ever. He as little "comes to insult the brother of the dead," or "to boast of an affection for his sister, which before he had [in a wild and careless manner when he was under the necessity of counterfeiting madness] denied to her face." Laertes bids

— Treble woe
Fall ten times treble on that cursed head,
[Page 221]Whose wicked deed thy most ingenious sense
Depriv'd thee of;

an execration Hamlet cannot but perceive to be pointed at hisself. Having uttered this curse, Laertes, hastyly, and in direct violation of all decorum, jumps into the grave, where he "rants and mouths it" like a player. This out­rageous proceeding seems to infect Hamlet; who, forgetting hisself, as he afterward, with sorrow, owns to Horatio, and, by the "bravery" of the others grief being worked up "into a towering passion," leaps in after him: and he who thinks Hamlets madness or sincerity counterfeit here does not appear to know so much of Shakspeare or of human nature as every one who reads this play ought to do.

The affection Hamlet now boasts for Ophelia was ge­nuine and violent; we find him with the very same senti­ments in the beginning of the play, and he has never once disowned it, except on a single occasion, when the sacrifice was required by his assumed character; a circumstance which cannot, at least ought not to, be imputed to him as a crime.

The behaviour and language of Laertes is more ranting and unnatural, than noble and pathetic, and, with his ex­ecration upon Hamlet previously to his leaping into the grave, and the violent shock which Hamlet might feel on learning the corse to be Ophelias, might easyly work up to, and apologise for, a higher pitch of extravagance, a stronger and more composed mind than that of which Hamlet appears to have been then master.

Hamlets conversation with Laertes, immediately before the fencing scene, was at the queens earnest intreaty, and though dr. Johnson be pleased to give it the harsh name of "a dishonest fallacy," there are better, because more na­tural, judges who consider it as a most gentle and pathetic [Page 222]address; and cannot perceive it to be either dishonest or fallacious: for, certainly, Hamlet did not intend the death of Polonius; of consequence, unwittingly, and by mere ac­cident, injured Laertes, who, after declaring that he was "satisfyed in nature," and that he onely delayed his per­fect reconcilement till his honour were satisfyed by elder masters, whom, at the same time, (for he has the instru­ment of death in his hand) he never meant to consult, says,

— Till that time,
I do receive your offer'd LOVE LIKE LOVE,

On which the truely virtuous, innocent, and unsuspecting Hamlet replies,

— I embrace it freely
And will this BROTHERS wager frankly play.

Let the conduct and sentiments of Laertes, in this inter­view, and in his conversation with the usurper, together with his villainous design against the life of Hamlet, be examined and tryed by any rules of gentility, honour, or humanity, natural or artificial, he must be considered as a treacherous, cowardly, diabolical wretch. Is such a cha­racter to rise on the fall of the generous Hamlet?

Things are sometimes obvious to very careless specta­tors or readers, which are not discerned by those who play closer attention to the scene. Hamlet, in a trial of skill with Laertes, receives an unexpected, a treacherous, and mortal wound. Immediately before the company enter, he appears to be much troubled in mind; his spirits fore­boding what was to happen: "If it be now," says he, "'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come; the readyness is all." [Page 223]He does not appear to have suspected Laertes of any unfair practice (he did not know so much of him as we do), but he had every reason to expect treachery and murder from the usurper; he might too have heared something of his secret juggling with Laertes; and, doubtless, intended to revenge the death of his father. Being thus wounded, and on the threshold of futurity, if he had not killed the usurper im­mediately, the villain would have escaped unpunished. But he does not stab him for his treachery toward hisself,—he upbraids him with his crimes of INCEST and MURDER,— and consigns him to the infernal regions, ‘With all his 'rank offences' thick upon him.’

So that he sufficiently revenges his father, his mother (who, by the way, dyes, if not deservedly, at least unpityed), and hisself. As to his own fall, every reader or spectator must sympathise with Horatio, for the untimely loss of a youth­ful prince possessed of such great and amiable qualities, rendered miserable by such unparalleled misfortunes;

—For he was likely, had he been put on,
To have prov'd most royally;

and who falls a sacrifice to the most base and infernal ma­chinations. His death, however, is not to be looked upon as a punishment; the most innocent, as Shakspeare well knew, are frequently confounded with the most guilty; and the virtues of Hamlet were to be rewarded among those angels which his friend Horatio invokes to escort him to everlasting rest.

Dr. Akenside was a very ingenious, sensible, and worthy man: but enough has been said to satisfy those who doubt, that the conduct of Hamlet is neither unnatural nor inde­fensible. That his intellects were really impaired by the circumstances enumerated by the above learned physician, [Page 224]is very probable; and, indeed, Hamlet hisself, more than once, plainly insinuates it. See, in particular, the latter part of his soliloquy at the end of the second act.

The opposing and refuting of general charges by proof and circumstance commonly requires much more time and space than the making of them. The writer is sensible that the arguments here adduced are neither arranged so judiciously, nor expressed so well, as the objections of the learned com­mentator; but from what has been said, and as it is said, it will appear, that it has not been without strong and suf­ficient reasons that Hamlet has "been hitherto regarded as a hero not undeserving the pity of the audience;" and the ingenious critic will not, perhaps, have much cause to con­gratulate hisself, on being the onely person who has taken pains to point out the immoral tendency of as noble, as virtuous, and as interesting a character, ‘As e'er 'imagination' cop'd withall.’

p. 414.

— So shall you hear
Of cruel, bloody, and unnatural acts.

Thus, says mr. Collins, the more modern editors. The first quarto, and the folio, adds he, read—Of carnal, &c. referring, he supposes, to the usurpers criminal intercourse with the mother of Hamlet.

Carnal, is without doubt, the true reading: but nothing can be more indecent, ridiculous, and absurd than the con­struction here put upon it. Was the relationship between the usurper and the deceased king a secret confined to Ho­ratio? All the world must have been apprised of it. The word is used by Shakspeare as an adjective to carnage.


p. 427.

— Three great ones of the city,
In personal suit to make me his lieutenant,
Oft capp'd to him.

Off-capp'd, in the folio, is certainly the true reading, That of the text is nonsense.

p. 428.

One Michael Cassio, a Florentine,
A fellow almost damn'd in a fair wife.

This passage is too stubborn for any but a master critic to attack; and those who have hitherto attempted it have little reason to boast of their success. Sir Thomas Hanmer reads fair phyz; which dr. Warburton calls a "White­friers phrase," and thinks Iago is repeating Othellos own words, alluding to him. Mr. Steevens seems gently to in­cline to Theobalds notion, that the fair wife was Iagos. Dr. Johnson, according to his usual custom when there is real difficulty in a passage, has nothing to propose. Mr. Tollet thinks one might read salse wife. Mr. Tyrwhitt be­lieves the true reading is fair life. Mr. Steevens, in a subse­quent note, observes, that almost damn'd in a wife can onely be said of a man who is near being marryed; thinking, it seems, that a man actually marryed is not almost, but alto­gether damn'd. It is, however, settled that Cassio is the Flo­rentine, and evident that wise can never be the true word; since he neither is marryed, nor, till some time after, has any connection with a woman, at least to our knowlege. [Page 226]Mr. Tyrwhitt seems to have come the nearest to what we may conceive to be Iagos meaning; and as his emendation does so little violence to the text, the editors would cer­tainly have been justifiable in adopting it.

p. 436.

What tell'st thou me of robbing? this is Vonice;
My house is not a grange.

That is, says mr. Warton, you are in a populous city, not in a lone house, where a robbery might easily be com­mitted.

One is always glad to read the notes of this very ingeni­ous and fancyful writer; since, if one does not meet with information, one may be sure of entertainment. "You," he makes Brabantio say to Iago and Rodorigo, "are in a populous City, not in a lone house."—They are standing in the STREET. See, as to Grange, before, p. 21.

p. 440.

With the Moor, say'st thou?—Who would be a father?
How did'st thou know 'twas she?—O, thou deceiv'st me
Past thought!—what said she to you?—

Thus, says mr. Steevens, the quarto 1622. The folio 1623, and the quartos 1630 and 1655, he adds, read,

— O she deceives me
Past thought.

"I," continues he, "have chosen the apostrophe to his ab­sent daughter, as the most spirited of the two readings."

It may be the most spirited, but it is surely the least na­tural. It is not at all in Brabantios manner, and is with as much probability an errour of the press as an apostrophe to his daughter. Be that, however, as it may; the majo­rity [Page 227]and weight of evidence is in favour of the other read­ing, which is more likely to be Shakspeares own, and should therefor be restored.

p. 446.


He's married.


To who?


Marry, to—Come, captain, will you go?

Mr. Steevens thinks it singular that Cassio should ask the question, as it appears he knew of Othellos courtship from first to last. But it is very easy to imagine that Cassio might wish to know if Iago were acquainted with the lady, to prevent the latters suspecting that he was.

p. 448.

That thou hast practis'd on her with foul charms;
Abus'd her delicate youth with drugs, or minerals,
That weaken motion.

Mr. Theobald reads—That weaken notion. HANMER— That waken motion: a notion to which mr. Steevens in­clines. Mr. Malone knows not which to prefer; he is for both and neither.

To weaken motion is—to impair the faculties. It was, till very lately, and may, with some, be still, an opinion that phil­tres or love-potions have the power of perverting, and, of course, weakening or impairing, both the sight and judge­ment, and of procuring fondness or dotage toward any unworthy object who administers them. And by motion Shakspeare means the senses which are depraved and weak­ened by these fascinating mixtures.

p. 454.

She is abus'd, stol'n from me, and corrupted
By spells and medicines bought of mountebanks.

Dr. Warburton cites a Venetian statute against those who sold love potions, of which mr. Steevens believes Shakspeare knew no more than he does; he, however, supposes him to have been "well acquainted with the edicts of that sapient prince king James the first, against

Of arts inhibited and out of warrant."

But there is no doubt that Shakspeare had the substance of Brabantios speech from Cinthios novel, however he might come by it, and Cinthio, it may be supposed, knew something of the Veneti [...]n statute. As to the edict against these practices by James I. it may be fairly presumed, that his sapiency had just about as much concern in its fabri­cation as (if wisdom and learning be as criminal as it is rare in a great king) a somewhat less sapient successor of his had in its repeal.

p. 460.

That I would all my pilgrimage dilate,
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not intentively.

Thus, says mr. Steevens, the eldest quarto. The folio, he adds, reads instinctively. Perhaps, continues he, it should be distinctively: a word which, if he had looked into the second, third, or fourth folio, or into any subse­quent edition prior to dr. Johnsons, he would there have found.

p. 475.


— If fanctimony and a frail vow, betwixt an er­ring barbarian and a super-subtle Venetian, be not too hard for my wits, &c.

Here is a collection of quibbles. By an erring Barba­rian he means not onely a roving moor, but a shallow, blun­dering brute; and this character he sets in opposition to that of a supersubtle Venetian woman. The vow, he concluded, must needs be frail that was made between two such unna­tural extremes as brutal folly and the most refined female cunning.

p. 485.


O, fie upon thee, slanderer!

This short speech, mr. Steevens says, is in the quarto unappropriated; and may as well belong to AEmilia, as to Desdemona. It is given to Desdemona in both the folios; and to her it most certainly belongs.

p. 499.


What an eye she has! methinks, it founds a parley of provocation.


An inviting eye; and yet, methinks, right modest.


And when she speaks, is it not an alarum to love?

The voice, says dr. Johnson, may sound an alarum more properly than the eye can sound a parley.

The eye is often said to speak. Thus we frequently hear of the language of the eye. Surely that which can talk may, without any violent stretch of the figure, be allowed to sound a parley.

The folio reads—parley to provocation.

[Page 230] Pheere or fere is as entirely different from peer as one word can be from another: the former implying a partner, companion, mate, sweetheart, husband, or wife. Peers and compeers may signify equals, and, in that sense, fellows; but this is not the language of a ballad-maker. The term worthy fellow would be poorly explained by honest equal. But why should we thus endeavour to make difficulties where we find none? Every person, one may venture to say, who has hitherto read the line will understand it to mean, by a very common inversion of language, ‘King Stephen was a worthy lord, The term is not confined to this passage: we have it in the Tempest: ‘O king Stephano! O peer! O worthy Stephano.’ Spenser uses peer continually for lord, and one might quote a multitude of similar instances from old books: but to what purpose?


With that he called the taylor—lown.

"Sorry fellow, paltry wretch. JOHNSON." Rather knave, rascol.

p. 506.

I do not know;—friends all but now, even now,
In quarter and in terms like bride and groom.

In quarter, that is, according to dr. Johnson, "in their quarters, at their lodging." But it should rather mean at peace, quiet, or, as the learned critic elsewhere explains it, "in friendship, amity, concord." They had been on that very spot (the court or platform, it is presumed, before the [Page 231]castle), ever since Othello left them, which can scarcely be called being in their quarters, or at their lodging. And, indeed, they could not have left it without being guilty of another offence, as they were directed by Othello to keep the watch.

p. 515.


Then put up your pipes in your bag, for I'll away; go; vanish into air; away.

This must be wrong;—possibly Shakspeare wrote—fly away.

p. 520.

— What! Michael Cassio,
That came a wooing with you.

And yet in the first act, says mr. Steevens, Cassio ap­pears perfectly ignorant of the amour, and is indebted to Iago for the information of Othellos marriage, and of the person to whom he is marryed.

The ingenious critic will, perhaps, find his observation a little too hasty. Cassios appearing or pretending to be ig­norant of the above circumstances is, in the first place, no conclusive proof that he actually was so: and, secondly, if the learned writer will take the trouble of referring to the passage he alludes to, he will perceive that Cassio is not indebted to Iago for the information "of the person to whom Othello is married."

p. 523.


They are close delations, working from the heart.

Dr. Warburton reading, and defending cold dilations, "I know not," says dr. Johnson, "why the modern editors are [Page 232]satisfied with this reading. They might easily have found that it is introduced without authority. The old copies UNI­FORMLY give, close dilations, except that the earlier quarto has close denotements; which was the authors first expression, afterwards changed by him, not to cold dilations, for cold is read in NO ANCIENT COPY, but to close delations, &c."

Now would any one suppose that, after this confidence, cold dilations should be the reading of the second, third, and fourth folios? But it is actually the case. How naturally does indolence produce errour!

p. 525.

I do beseech you,
Though I—perchance, am vicious in my guess,
— that your wisdom yet,
From one that so imperfectly conceits,
Would take no notice, &c.

This passage is printed and explained as if what should have followed after the words though I were broken off by the speaker designedly. But it is not. His words and meaning are altogether plain and simple. I beeseech you, says he to Ot [...]ello, though I may be too shrewd and vicious in my guess (i. e. as mr. Steevens well explains it, apt to put the worst construction on this matter), that you would not, from my imperfect surmises, take further notice of it.

p. 527.

O, beware, my lord, of jealousy,
It is the green-ey'd monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.

The term green-ey'd monster seems to refer onely to Jealousy, and meek, doubtless, in this instance, signifies to loath. Sus­picion is the food which may be said to support jealousy; and [Page 235]this very food the jealous person loaths and detests, though he is not able to withstand the anxiety with which his mind pursues, and devours it. Dr. Smollet had, perhaps, this very passage in his eye, when he made one of the cha­racters in his Regicide say

— let me rot
A loathsome banquet to the fowls of heaven.

p. 529.

— 'Tis not to make me jealous,
To say—my wife is fair, feeds well, loves company,
Is free of speech, sings, plays, and dances well;
Where virtue is, these are more virtuous.

"I know not," says mr. Steevens, "why the modern editors, in opposition to the first quarto and folio, read most instead of more."

They had two reasons:

  • 1.The sense requires most. And,
  • 2.It is the reading of the second folio.

p. 532.


Foh! one may smell, in such, a will most rank.

Will, says dr. Johnson, is for wilfulness. A rank will, adds he, is self-will overgrown and exuberant. To SMELL wilfulness, and an overgrown self-will, is a faculty peculiar to the learned critic. But with all imaginable deference to him, the expression means,—inclinations or desires most foul, gross, and strong-scented.

p. 553.

A liberal hand: the hearts, of old, gave hands;
But our new heraldry is—hands, not hearts.

[Page 236] Without it can be proved that this play existed in its present shape prior to the institution of the order of baronets, one may, pretty safely, admit that this passage contains an allusion to the arms allotted them. But that Shakspeare intended to sneer at the establishment, or had such a re­fined and complex meaning as dr. Warburton would con­tend, is not quite so obvious. As to the inconsistency of Othellos acquaintance with an English honour of the writ­ers own time, every play abounds with similar instances.


p. 81.

Widow Dido.

Perhaps, says the industrious editor, there is here an allusion to some old ballad. In the Pepy­sian collection, adds he, is one to the tune of Queen Dido. If the learned commentator had consulted that collection, he might have found the ballad of Queen Dido itsself. But it is rather extraordinary that he should not know that it was printed in Percys Reliques.

This ballad appears to have been, at one time, a great favourite with the common people. "Oh you ale-knights," exclaims an ancient writer, "you that deuoure the marrow of the Mault, and drinke whole Aletubs into consumptions; that sing QUEENE DIDO ouer a Cupp, and tell strange newes ouer an Ale pot, &c." Jacke of Douer, his Quest of In­quirie, or his priuy search for the veriest Foole in England. Lon. 1604. 4to. (fig. 2.)

p. 82.

Nor scrape trencher, nor wash dish.] "It should be remembered," says one of mr. Malones mushroom assistants in this notable piece of editorial cookry, "that trenchers, which, in the time of our author, were generally used, were cleansed by scraping ONLY, and were never washed. They were scraped daily," continues he, "till they were en­tirely worn away." An assertion as ridiculous as untrue. The scraping of a trencher is merely preparatory and con­ducive to its being thoroughly washed and scoured. If scrap­ing had been the sole and dayly process, these lasting and ser­viceable utensils would not onely have been soon entirely scraped away, but have scarcely been fit to eat off a second time. And if mr. White (the trencher-scraper in the note) have been used onely to scrape, and never to wash his trenchers, one cannot well envy his guests the luxury of fouling a plate with him.

p. 87.


Not mine, my gloves are on.


Why then, this may be yours; for this is but one.

From this quibble mr. Malone conjectures that the word one was anciently pronounced as if it were written on. That this was the ancient and original pronunciation is very probable, as appears from the word only (onely), and the vulgar usage in many counties at this day. But that it was not the general practice in our authors time is evident from the following passages:

Much ado about 'lothing, act V. scene i.

Nor let no comforter delight mine ear,
But such A ONE whose wrongs do suit with mine.

Macbeth, act IV. scene iv.

[Page 238]
There's not A ONE of them, but in his house
I keep a servant see'd.

A love letter of Henry the eighth to Anna Bullen, printed by Hearne at the end of Robert de Avesbury, will clearly shew the pronunciation of that period.

"As touching a lodging for you, we have gotten WON by my lord Cardinals means, &c." 20

p. 88.

Thou common friend that's without faith or love.

That's, says mr. Malone, is here used for id est, that is to say. Seriously? And does not the ingenious critic think there is almost as much reason for supposing it to be used instead of—that art?

p. 360.

that young Hamlet was born.] By this scene, judge Blackstone observes, it appears that Hamlet was then thirty years old. And yet, says he, in the beginning of the play he is spoken of as a very young man, one that de­signed to go back to school, i. e. to the university of Wit­tenberg. The poet in the fifth act, he thinks, had forgot what he wrote in the first.

In fact, however, the poet has forgot nothing; neither is there any reason to suppose the least inconsistency in the matter: men may study, or reside at the university to any age.



p. 15.

K. Henry.

Send for him good uncle.

"John Holland, duke of Exeter, was married to Eliza­beth the kings aunt. STEEVENS."

It is very true; but the learned commentator should have added, that he had been deprived of the title, and be­headed by Henry IV. The nobleman to whom the king now addresses hisself is Thomas Beaufort, earl of Dorset, who was, indeed, created duke of Exeter, but not till some years after the time of this conference.


p. 452.

A crown for York;—and, lords, bow low to him.—
Hold you his hands, whilst I do set it on.—
Putting a paper crown on his head.

Shakspeare, mr. Steevens observes, has on this occasion deviated from history. The paper crown, he says, was not placed on the duke of Yorks head till after it had been cut off.

The ingenious commentator is most certainly mistaken. Shakspeare, so far from having deviated from history, has [Page 240]followed it with the utmost precision. Whethamstede ex­pressly tells us that the Lancastrians, in direct breach of a mutual agreement, and before the day appointed for the battle, fell suddenly upon the dukes army, and took him and the earl of Salisbury prisoners; treating both, but especially the duke, in the most shameful manner. Nam, says he, statuentes eum super unum parvum formicarium colli­culum, & quoddam sertum vile, ex palustri gramine confectum, imponentes, per modum coronae, super capud suum, non aliter quam Ju [...]aei coram Domino incurvaverunt genua sua coram ipso, dicentes illuserie: Ave rex sine regimine; Ave rex absque hereditate; Ave dux & p [...]inceps absque omni populo penitus & possessione. Et hiis una cum aliis variis, in eum probrose opprobri [...]seque dictis, coegerunt ipsum demum per capitis absci­sionem clameum relinquere suae justiciae vendicacionis. (p. 489.) Not a single circumstance is omitted or varyed in the scene. It is not, however, imagined that Shakspeare had ever con­sulted Whethamstede: he found the same story, no doubt, in some old black letter chronicle, which it has not been the writers fortune to meet with, or he might possibly have it from popular tradition.



THIS edition will be comprised in eight duodecimo volumes; and will be carefully and accurately printed from the onely copies of real authority, the two first folios. But although these editions will be the standard of the intended work, such passages in the old quartos as may appear to have been omitted by accident, or with a view to shorten the representation, and every various reading, will be maturely considered, and, if wor­thy of insertion, be adopted, either in the text or margin, as their importance or merit may seem to require. No variation, however, will be made from the standard edi­tions [Page]without apprising the reader of it, unless the diffe­rence should consist merely in a slight typographical error. Nor is any difference between the various editions in other respects intended to be otherwise than occasionally re­garded. The orthography will be reduced with the utmost care to a modern and uniform system, except where a change would be injurious to the authors sense and meaning. Various or doubtful readings will be settled from an attentive examination of the sentiments of every commentator. The notes, which will be very sparingly introduced, and never but where they seem absolutely ne­cessary, or peculiarly proper, will be chiefly extracted, under the names of their respective authors, from the edi­tions of Theobald, Warburton, Johnson, and Steevens; but not to the exclusion of better, though, perhaps, ano­nymous, intelligence, if it can be given. It is, however, no part of the editors design to fill his margin with a view of the corruptions, or a refutation of the errors of preced­ing commentators.

The authors life, with the usual documents (particularly a more exact copy of his will than has been yet published), and the prefaces of his various editors will be prefixed to to the work: which will, likewise, be attended with a new, copious, and accurate glossary. And, in an additional vo­lume, it is proposed to give a complete verbal index, adapted to the intended edition.

This edition will, with regard to the correctness of the text, be infinitely superior to any that has yet appeared. It will possess all the advantages of every former edition, and be as little liable, it is hoped, as possible to the defects of any.

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