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Has deserv'd prison, then abound in tears,
(Exeunt Queen and Ladies. 1 Lord. 'Beseech your highness, call the queen again.
Ant. Be certain what you do, sir; lest your justice Prove violence; in the which three great ones suffer, Yourself, your queen, your son. 1 Lord.
For her, my lord,
If it prove
this action, I now go on,] The word action is here taken in the lawyer's sense, for indictment, charge, or accusation.
Johnson We cannot say that a person goes on an indictment, charge, or accusation. I believe, Hermione only means, “What I am now about to do.” M. Mason
Mr. M. Mason's supposition may be countenanced by the following passage in Much Ado about Nothing, Act I, sc. i:
" When I went forward on this ended action.” Steevens.
I'll keep my stables where Il lodge my wife :) Stable-stand (stabilis statio, as Spelman interprets it) is a term of the forest-laws, and signifies a place where a deer-stealer fixes his stand under some convenient cover, and keeps watch for the purpose of killing deer as they pass by. From the place it came to be applied also to the person, and any man taken in a forest in that situation, with a gun or bow in his hand, was presumed to be an offender, and bad the name of a stable-stand. In all former editions this hath been printed stable; and it may perhaps be objected, that another syllable added spoils the smoothness of the verse. But by pronouncing stable short, the measure will very well bear it, according to the liberty allowed in this kind of writing, and which Shakspeare never scruples to use ; therefore I read, stable-stand. Hanmer.
There is no need of Sir T. Hanmer's addition to the text. So, in the ancient interlude of The Repentaunce of Marie Magdalaine, 1567 : “ Where thou dwellest, the devyll may have a stable.”
Than when I feel, and see her, no further trust her;1
Leon. Hold your peaces.
Good my lord,
If Hermione prove unfaithful, I'll never trust my wife out of my sight; I'll always go in couples with her; and, in that respect, my house shall resemble a stable, where dogs are kept in pairs. Though a kennel is a place where a pack of hounds is kept, every one, I suppose, as well as our author, has occasionally seen dogs tied up in couples under the manger of a stable. A dog-couple is · a term at this day. To this practice perhaps he alludes in King Fohn:
66 To dive like buckets in concealed wells,
“ To crouch in litter of your stable planks.” In the Teutonick language, hund stall or dog-stable, is the term for a kennel. Stables or stable, however, may mean station stabilis statio, and two distinct propositions may be intended. I'll keep my station in the same place where my wife is lodged; I 'll run every where with her, like dogs that are coupled together.
Malone. i Than when I feel, and see her, &c.] The old copies read -Then when, &c. The correction is Mr. Rowe's. Steevens.
The modern editors read-Than when, &c. certainly not without ground, for than was formerly spelt then; but here, I believe, the latter word was intended. Malone. - putter-on,) i. e. one who instigates. So, in Macbeth:
the powers divine
land-damn him:] Sir T. Hanmer interprets, stop his urine. Land or lant being the old word for urine.
Land-damn is probably one of those words which caprice brought into fashion, and which, after a short time, reason and grammar drove irrecoverably away. It perhaps meant no more than I will rid the country of him, condemn him to quit the land.
Fohnson. Land-damn him, if such a reading can be admitted, may mean, he would procure sentence to be past on him in this world, on this earth.
Antigonus could no way make good the threat of stopping his urine. Besides, it appears too ridiculous a punishment for so atrocious a criminal. Yet it must be confessed, that what Sir T. Hanmer has said concerning the word lant, is true. I meet with
I have three daughters; the eldest is eleven;
the following instance in Glapthorne's Wit in a Constable, 1639:
“ Your frequent drinking country ale with lant in 't.” And, in Shakspeare's time, to drink a lady's health in urine appears to have been esteemed an act of gallantry. One instance (for I could produce many) may suffice: “Have I not religiously vow'd my heart to you, been drunk for your health, eat glasses, drank urine, stabb’d arms, and done all the offices of protested gallantry for your sake?” Antigonus, on this occasion, may therefore have a dirty meaning. It should be remembered, however, that to damn anciently signified to condemn. So, in Promos and Cassandra, 1578:
“Vouchsafe to give my damned husband life.” Again, in Julius Cæsar, Act IV, sc. i: “He shall not live; look, with a spot I damn him.”
Steevens. I am persuaded that this is a corruption, and that either the printer caught the word damn from the preceding line, or the transcriber was deceived by similitude of sounds. What the poet's word was, cannot now be ascertained, but the sentiment was probably similar to that in Othello :
“O heaven, that such companions thoud'st unfold,” &c. I believe, we should read-land-dam; i.e. kill him; bury him in earth. So, in King John:
“ His ears are stopp'd with cust; he's dead.” Again, ibid:
“ And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust." Again, in Kendal's Flowers of Epigrams, 1577 :
“ The corps clapt fast in clotter'd claye,
“ That here engrav'd doth lie" Again, in Ben Jonson's Volpone :
“ Speak to the knave ?
“I'll ha' my mouth first stopp'd with earth.” Malone. After all these aukward struggles to obtain a meaning, we might, I think, not unsafely read
“I'd laudanum him," i.e. poison him with laudanum. So, in Ben Jonson's Silent Wo
“ Have I no friend, that will make her drunk, or give her a little laudanum, or opium ?"
The word is much more ancient than the time of Shakspeare. I owe this remark to Dr. Farmer. Steevens.
4 The second, and the thiril, nine, and some five;] The second folio reads--sonnes five. Reed.
This line appears obscure, because the word nine seems to refer to both “ the second and the third.” But it is sufficiently clear, referendo singula singulis. The second is of the age of nine, and the third is some five years old. The same expression, as Theobald has remarked, is found in King Lear :
If this prove true, they 'll pay for 't: by mine honour,
Cease; no more.
“For that I am, some twelve or fourteen moonshines,
"Lag of a brother.” The editor of the second folio reads-sons five; startled proba. bly by the difficulty that arises from the subsequent lines, the operation that Antigonus threatens to perform on his children, not being commonly applicable to females. But for this, let our author answer. Bulwer, in his Artificial Changeling, 1656, shows it may be done. Shakspeare undoubtedly wrote some; for were we, with the ignorant editor above mentioned, to read-sons five, then the second and third daughter would both be of the same age; which, as we are not told that they are twins, is not very reasonable to suppose. Besides; daughters are by the law of England co-heirs, but sons never. Malone.
5 And I had rather glib myself, &c.] For glib I think we should read lib, which, in the northern language, is the same with geld.
In The Court Beggar, by Mr. Richard Brome, Act IV, the word lib is used in this sense :-" He can sing a charm (he says) shall make you feel no pain in your libbing, nor after it: no tooth-drawer, or corn-cutter, did ever work with so little feeling to a pa.. tient.” Grey. So, in the comedy of Fancies Chaste and Noble, by Ford, 1638:
“What a terrible sight to a lib'd breech, is a sow-gelder?" Again, in Chapman's translation of Hesiod's Booke of Daies, 4to. 1618:
“ The eight, the bellowing bullock lib, and gote.” Though lib may probably be the right word, yet glib is at this timé current in many counties, where they say--to glib a boar, to glib a horse. So, in St. Patrick for Ireland, a play, by Shirley, 1640:
“If I come back, let me be glib’d.” Steevens.
I see 't, and feel't,] The old copy-but I do see 't, and feel 't. I have followed Sir T. Hanmer, who omits these exple. tives, which serve only to derange the metre, without improving the sense. Steevens.
I see 't, and feel't,
If it be so,
What! lack I credit?
Why, what need we Commune with you of this? but rather follow Our forceful instigation? Our prerogative Calls not your counsels; but our natural goodness Imparts this: which,-if you (or stupified, Or seeming so in skill) cannot, or will not, Relish as truth, like us; inform yourselves,
cessary in this place; but what that direction should be, it is not easy to decide. Sir T. Hanmer gives-Laying hold of his arm; Dr. Johnson-striking his brows. Steevens.
As a stage direction is certainly requisite, and as there is none in the old copy, I will venture to propose a different one from any hitherto mentioned. Leontes, perhaps, touches the forehead of Antigonus with his fore and middle fingers forked in imitation of a SNAIL'S HORNS; for these, or imaginary horns of his own like them, are the instruments that feel, to which he alluded.—There is a similar reference in The Merry Wives of Windsor, from whence the direction of striking his brows seems to have been adopted :“ he so takes on,-so curses all Eve's daughters, and so buffets himself on the forehead, crying, Peer out, peer out!—The word lunes, it should be noted, occurs in the context of both passages, and in the same sense. Henley.
I see and feel my disgraçe, as you Antigonus, now feel me, on my doing thus to you, and as you now see the instruments that feel, i. e. my fingers. So, in Coriolanus :
all the body's members
where, the other instruments “Did see, hear, derise, instruct, walk, feel,” &c. Leontes must here be supposed to lay hold of either the beard or arm, or some other part of Antigonus. See a subsequent note in the last scene of this Act. Malone.
dungy earth.) So, in Antony and Cleopatra :
our dungy earth alike