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I incline to think that this is rightly explained by Mr. Malone. If Mr. Steevens's reading, wrest, be the true one, I think Mr. Ritson's explanation of it, and not Mr. Steevens's should be adopted; the meaning would be rendered more obvious by making then and should change place.
a holy vow;
Never to taste the pleasures of the world,
By giving it the worship of revenge.
There is no occasion to change hand into head.
Sal. Thou art a murderer.
Do not prove me so;
Yet, I am none: Whose tongue soe'er speaks false,
"I rather believe (says Mr. Davies) do not prove me so, is as much as to say, do not bring me to a trial, or to the proof of it, for the consequence will be, that yourself will be found a slanderer and a liar." I incline to think that Davies is right.
Bast. Away then, with good courage; yet, I know,
I cannot help wondering that Dr. Johnson should so strangely mistake the meaning of this passage, which clearly is, "I know that our party "is still able to cope with a more powerful enemy "than that which it is now to encounter."
Mel. Fly, noble English, you are bought and sold;
And welcome home again discarded faith.
Theobald's reading seems to receive some countenance from what Salisbury says afterwards in this scene, "we will untread the steps of "damned flight." He is telling Melun that they would follow his advice, and therefore it is natural for him to use Melun's expression. I do not however state this with perfect confidence. P. 128.-561.-171.
Lew. And wound our tatter'd colours clearly up,
I think tatter'd is the true reading.
Hub. Unkind remembrance! thou, and eyeless night,
I think eyeless is the true reading.
Bast. Who didst thou leave to tend his majesty ?
Malone's pointing is certainly right.
K. Rich. The fly-slow hours shall not determinate
I think Mr. Pope's reading, fly-slow hours, is right.
Gaunt. All places that the eye of heaven visits,
Are to a wise man ports and happy havens.
Mr. Davies observes that these lines are evidently borrowed from Ovid:
"Omne viro forti solum patria." FAST. lib. 1.493.
which is likewise imitated by Ben Jonson in the Fox,
"Sir, to a wise man all the world's his soil."
So too Euripides :
Απασα δε χθων ανδρι γενναίω παίρις.
Excelso vir animo contristari exsilio non debet.
The magnanimous words of Sir Humphrey Gilbert when his ship was sinking are extremely remarkable. That gallant officer was seen sitting in the stern of the ship with a book in his hand, and was often heard to say with a loud voice, Courage, my lads! we are as near heaven at sea as at land."
Gaunt. Though Richard my life's counsel would not hear,
York. No; it is stopp'd with other flattering sounds,
Possibly meeters may be here used for writers
Gaunt. This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
This thought (as Bishop Newton has observed) is imitated by Milton in Comus :
all the sea-girt isles,
That like to rich and various gems inlay
The unadorned bosom of the deep.
But Milton (says Mr. Warton, I think justly) has heightened the comparison, omitting Shakespeare's petty conceit of the silver sea, the conception of a jeweller, and substituting another and a more striking piece of imagery. This rich inlay, to use an expression in the Paradise Lost, gives beauty to the bosom of the deep, else unadorned. It has its effect on a simple ground.
England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
I believe blots is the right word; its propriety I will not undertake to defend.
K. Rich. I am in health, I breathe, and see thee ill.
I think with Mr. Steevens that the words to see should be omitted.
a lunatick lean-witted fool,
Presuming on an ague's privilege,
I cannot help expressing my astonishment at Dr. Farmer's observation. I can by no means think the expressions similar; the leanness spoken of in the 106th Psalm is surely not exility of wit.
Gaunt. Join with the present sickness that I have;
To crop at once a too-long wither'd flower.
I do not see any need of altering the text: Mr. Davies says, "I cannot help thinking that "the meaning of the text as it stands is very "clear:" Do thou forget all proximity of blood, and become a confederate with my present sickness and the many infirmities of old age, to deprive me at once of life.
Ross. The commons hath he pill'd with grievous taxes,
For ancient quarrels, and quite lost their hearts.
I think Mr. Steevens is right in ejecting quite from the second line of Ross's speech.
Yet, again, methinks,
Some unborn sorrow, ripe in fortune's womb,