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crow-keeper: draw me a clothier's yard.2-Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace;-this piece of toasted cheese will do 't. There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it on a giant. -Bring up the brown bills.3-O, well flown, bird!-i' the clout, i' the clout: hewgh!-Give the word.5
prest," ready. It is written prest in several places in King Henry VIIth's Book of household expences still preserved in the Exchequer. This may serve also to explain the following passage in Act V, sc. ii: "And turn our imprest lances in our eyes;" and to correct Mr. Whalley's note in Hamlet, Act I, sc. i: " Why such impress of shipwrights?" Douce.
1 That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper:] Mr. Pope, in his last edition, reads cow keeper. It it certain we must read crowkeeper In several counties, to this day, they call a stuffed figure, representing a man, and armed with a bow and arrow, set up to fright the crows from the fruit and corn, a crow-keeper, as well as a scareCrow. Theobald.
This crow-keeper was so common in the author's time, that it is one of the few peculiarities, mentioned by Ortelius, in his account of our island. Johnson.
So, in the 48th Idea of Drayton:
"Or if thou 'lt not thy archery forbear,
"To some base rustick do thyself prefer;
"And when corn 's sown, or grown into the ear,
"Practise thy quiver and turn crow keeper "
Mr. Tollet informs me, that Markham, in his Farewell to Husban dry, says, that such servants are called field-keepers, or crow-keepers.
"Like empty scabbards all; no mettle in them; "Like men of clouts, set to keep crows from orchards.” See also Romeo and Juliet, Act I sc. iv.
The following curious passage in Latimer's Fruitful Sermons, 1584, fol. 69, will show how indispensable was practice to enable an archer to handle his bow skilfully: "In my time (says the good bishop) my poor father was diligent to teach me to shoote, a to learne me any other thing, and so I thinke other men did their children. He taught me how to draw howe to lay my body in my bow, and not to drawe with strength of armes as other nations doe, but with strength of the bodye. I had my bowes bought me according to my age and strength: as I encreased in them, so my bowes were made bigger and bigger: for men shall neuer shoote well, except they be brought up in it." H White.
draw me a clothier's yard.] Perhaps the poet had in his mind a stanza of the old ballad of Chevy Chace:
"An arrow of a cloth-yard long,
Up to the head drew he," &c. Steevens.
Edg. Sweet marjoram.
Glo. I know that voice.
Lear. Ha! Goneril!-with a white beard !6-They flatter'd me like a dog; and told me, I had white hairs in my beard, ere the black ones were there. To say ay, and no, to every thing I said!—Ay and no too was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding; there I found them, there I smelt them out. Go to, they are not men o' their words: they told me I was every thing; 'tis a lie; I am not agueproof.
the brown bills.] A bill was a kind of battle-axe, affixed to
a long staff.
40, well flown, bird!-i' the clout, &c.] Lear is here raving of archery, and shooting at buts, as is plain by the words i' the clout, that is, the white mark they set up and aim at: hence the phrase, to hit the white. Warburton.
So, in The Two Maids of Moreclacke, 1609: "Change your mark, shoot at a white; come stick me in the clout, sir."
Again, in Tamburlaine, &c. 1590:
"For kings are clouts that every man shoots at." Again, in How to choose a good Wife from a bad one, 1602: who could miss the clout,
Having such steady aim?'
Mr. Heath thinks there can be no impropriety in calling an arrow a bird, from the swiftness of its flight, especially when immediately preceded by the words well-flown: but it appears that well-flown bird, was the falconer's expression when the hawk was successful in her flight; and is so used in A Woman killed with Kindness. Steevens. The quartos read-O, well flown bird in the ayre, hugh, give the word. Malone.
Give the word.] Lear supposes himself in a garrison, and before he lets Edgar pass, requires the watch-word. Johnson.
6 Ha! Goneril!-with a white beard!] So reads the folio, properly; the quarto, whom the latter editors have followed, has, Ha! Goneril, ha! Regan! they flattered me, &c, which is not so forcible.
* They flatter'd me like a dog ;] They played the spaniel to me.
and told me, I had white hairs in my beard, ere the black ones were there] They told me that I had the wisdom of age, before I had attained to manhood. Malone.
9 When the rain came to wet me &c.] This seems to be an allusion to King Canure's behaviour when his courtiers flattered him as lord of the sea.
Glo. The trick of that voice1 I do well remember: Is 't not the king?
Ay, every inch a king:
When I do stare, see, how the subject quakes.2
Thou shalt not die: Die for adultery! No:
Let copulation thrive, for Gloster's bastard son
To 't luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers.—
Whose face between her forks4 presageth snow;
The fitchew, nor the soiled horse,7 goes to 't
1 The trick of that voice-] Trick (says Sir Thomas Hanmer) is a word frequently used for the air, or that peculiarity in a face, voice, or gesture, which distinguishes it from others. We still say, He has a trick of winking with his eyes, of speaking loud," &c.
2 Ay, every inch a king:
When I do stare, see, how the subject quakes.] So, in Venus and Adonis:
"Who, like a king perplexed in his throne,
"By their suggestion gives a deadly groan,
"Whereat each tributary subject quakes." Malone.
3 To't, luxury. &c.] Luxury was the ancient appropriate term for incontinence. See Mr. Collins's note on Troilus and Cressida, Act V, sc. ii, Vol. XII. Steevens.
4 Whose face between her forks-] The construction is not "whose face between her forks," &c. but whose face presageth snow between her forks." So, in Timon of Athens, Act IV, sc. iii: "Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow
"That lies on Dian's lap." Edwards
To preserve the modesty of Mr. Edward's happy explanation, I can only hint a reference to the word fourcheure in Cotgrave's Dictionary. Steevens.
5 That minces virtue,] Whose virtue consists in appearance only; in an affected delicacy and prudery: who is as nice and squeamish in talking of virtue and of the frailer part of her sex, as a lady who walks mincingly along:
66 and turn two mincing steps
"Into a manly stride." Merchant of Venice. Malone.
With a more riotous appetite.
Down from the waist they are centaurs,
But to the girdle do the gods inherit,
Beneath is all the fiends';1 there 's hell, there's darkness, there is the sulphurous pit,2 burning, scalding, stench, consumption;-Fy, fy, fy! pah; pah! Give me an ounce of civet, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination : there's money for thee.
Glo. O, Let me kiss that hand!
Lear. Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality. Glo. O ruin'd piece of nature! This great world Shall so wear out to nought.-Dost thou know me?
Lear. I remember thine eyes well enough. Dost thou squiny at me? No, do thy worst, blind Cupid; I'll not
▾ — nor the soiled horse,] Soiled horse is a term used for a horse that has been fed with hay and corn in the stable during the winter, and is turned out in the spring to take the first flush of grass, or has it cut and carried in to him. This at once cleanses the animal, and fills him with blood. Steevens.
8 Down from the waist they are centaurs ] In The Malcontent, is a thought as singular as this:
"'Tis now about the immodest waist of night." Steevens. 9 But to the girdle &c.] To inherit in Shakspeare is, to possess. See Vol. II p. 206, n 7. But is here used for only. Malone. 1 Beneath is all the fiends';] According to Grecian superstition, every limb of us was consigned to the charge of some particular deity. Gower, De Confessione Amantis, enlarges much on it, and concludes by saying:
"And Venus through the letcherie
"For whiche thei hir deifie,
"She kept all doune the remenant
"To thilke office appertainant." Collins.
In the old copies the preceding as well as the latter part of Lear's speech is printed as prose. I doubt much whether any part of it was intended for metre.
there is the sulphurous pit, &c.] Perhaps these lines should be regulated as follows:
There is the sulphurous pit, stench, burning, scalding,
Consumption: fy, fy, fy! pah! pah! pah!
An ounce of civet, &c. Steevens.
3 Dost thou squiny at me?] To squiny is to look asquint. The word is used by our poet's fellow-comedian, Robert Armin, in A Nest of Ninnies, &c. 4to. 1609: "The world-squinies at this, and looks as one scorning." Maione.
love. Read thou this challenge; mark but the penning of it.
Glo. Were all the letters suns, I could not see one. Edg. I would not take this from report;-it is, And my heart breaks at it.
Glo. What, with the case of eyes?+
Lear. O, ho, are you there with me? No eyes in your head, nor no money in your purse? Your eyes are in a heavy case, your purse in a light: Yet you see how this world goes.
Glo. I see it feelingly.
Lear. What, art mad? A man may see how this world goes, with no eyes. Look with thine ears: see how yon' justice rails upon yon' simple thief. Hark, in thine ear: Change places; and, handy-dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief?—Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar?
Glo. Ay, sir.
Lear. And the creature run from the cur? There thou
4 What, with the case of eyes?] Mr. Rowe changed the into this, but without necessity. I have restored the cld reading. The case of eyes is the socket of either eye. Shakspeare has the expression again in The Winter's Tale: "-- they seemed almost, with staring on one another, to tear the cases of their eyes." Steevens.
In Pericles, Prince of Tyre. 1609, we have the same expression: her eyes as jewel-like,
"And cas'd as richly."
"Her eye lids, cases to those heavenly jewels
"Begin to part their fringes of bright gold.”
This could not have been the author's word; for "this case of eyes" in the language of his time signified-this pair of eyes, a sense directly opposite to that intended to be conveyed. Malone.
5 Change places; and, handy-dandy,] The words change places, and, are not in the quartos. Handy-dandy is, I believe, a play among children, in which something is shaken between two hands, and then a guess is made in which hand it is retained. See Florio's Italian Dictionary, 1598: "Bazzicchiare. To shake between two hands; to play handy-dandy." Coles in his Latin Dictionary, 1679, renders "to play bandy-dandy," by digitis micare; and he is followed by Ainsworth; but they appear to have been mistaken; as is Dr. Johnson in his definition in his Dictionary, which seems to have been formed on the passage before us, misunderstood. He says, Handy-dandy is "a play in which children change hands and places." Malone.