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That minces virtue, and does shake the head
The fitchew, nor the soiled horse,' goes to't
Down from the waist they are centaurs,2
But to the girdle3 do the gods inherit,
there's hell, there's
"whose face between her forks," &c. but "whose face presageth snow between her forks." So, in Timon, Act IV. sc. iii: "Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow
To preserve the modesty of Mr. Edwards's happy explanation, I can only hint a reference to the word fourcheure in Cotgrave's Dictionary. STEEVENS.
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 :
-and turn two mincing steps
"Into a manly stride." Merchant of Venice. MALONE. This is a passage which I shall not venture to explain further than by recommending a reconsideration of the passage, quoted by Mr. Malone, from The Merchant of Venice. STEEVENS.
' The fitchew,] A polecat. Pope.
-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.
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.'
But to the girdle &c.] To inherit in Shakspeare is, to pos-
Beneath is all the fiends';] According to Grecian superstition, every limb of us was consigned to the charge of some VOL. XVII.
there is the sulphurous pit, burning, scalding, stench, consumption;-Fye, fye, fye! 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 love. Read thou this challenge; mark but the penning of it.
GLO. Were all the letters suns, I could not see
EDG. I would not take this from report;—it is, And my heart breaks at it.
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. MALONE.
there is the sulphurous pit, &c.] Perhaps these lines should be regulated as follows:
There is the sulphurous pit, stench, burning, scalding,
An ounce of civet, &c. STEEVENS.
"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." MALONE.
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, handydandy, which is the justice, which is the thief?Thou hast seen a farmer's dog bark at a beggar?
7 What, with the case of eyes?] Mr. Rowe changed the into this, but without necessity. I have restored the old reading. The case of eyes is the socket of either eye. Statius in his first
Thebaid, has a similar expression. Speaking of Oedipus he
“Inane solum, i. e. vacui oculorum loci."
Shakspeare has the expression again in The Winter's Tale:
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.
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: "Bazzic
GLO. Ay, sir.
LEAR. And the creature run from the cur? There thou might'st behold the great image of authority: a dog's obeyed in office.
Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand: Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back;
Thou hotly lust'st to use her in that kind
For which thou whipp'st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
Through tatter'd clothes small vices do appear; Robes, and furr'd gowns, hide all.9 Plate sin' with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks: Arm it in rags, a pigmy's straw doth pierce it. None does offend, none, I say, none; I'll able'em:
chiare. To shake between two hands; to play handy-dandy." Coles in his Latin Dictionary, 1679, renders "to play handydandy," 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."
• Robes, and furr'd gowns, hide all.] So, in The Rape of Lucrece:
Hiding base sin in pleats of majesty." MALONE. From hide all to accuser's lips, the whole passage is wanting in the first edition, being added, I suppose, at his revisal.
1Plate sin-] The old copies read-Place sin. Mr. Pope made the correction. MALONE.
So, in King Richard II:
"Thus plated in habiliments of war." STEEVENS.
? I'll able 'em :] An old phrase signifying to qualify, or uphold them. So Scogan, contemporary with Chaucer, says: "Set all my life after thyne ordinaunce,
"And able me to mercie or thou deme." Warburton.
Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
To see the things thou dost not.-Now, now, now,
Pull off my boots :-harder, harder so.
EDG. O, matter and impertinency mix'd!
LEAR. If thou wilt weep my fortunes, take my
I know thee well enough; thy name is Gloster:
GLO. Alack, alack the day!
LEAR. When we are born, we cry, that we are
To this great stage of fools;-This a good block?4
So Chapman, in his comedy of The Widow's Tears, 1612:
-I'll able this
"For five revolved
• Thou know'st, the first time that we smell the air,
"Vagituque locum lugubri complet, ut æquum est
"The child feeles that, the man that feeling knowes,
This a good block?] Perhaps, we should read—