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word lifter is used for a thief, by Green, in his Art of Coney-catching, printed 1591: on this the humour of the passage may be supposed to turn. We still call a person who robs the shops, a shop-lifter.
8 I give to both your speeches--which were such,
As Agamemnon and the hand of Greece
To his experienc'd tongue :-) Ulysses begins his oration with praising those who had spoken before him, and marks the characteristick excellencies of their different eloquence, strength, and sweetness, which he expresses by the different metals on which he recommends them to be engraven for the instruction of posterity. The speech of Agamemnon is such that it ought to be engraven in brass, and the tablet held up by him on the one side, and Greece on the other, to shew the union of their opinion. And Nestor ought to be exhibited in silver, uniting all his audience in one mind by his soft and gentle elocution. Brass is the common emblem of strength, and silver of gentleness. We call a soft voice a silver voice, and a persuasive tongue a silver tongue.--I once read for hand, the band of Greece, but I think the text right.To hatch is a term of art for a particular method of engraving. Hatcher, to cut, Fr. JOHNSON.
9 When that the general is not like the hire,] The meaning is, When the general is not to the army like
the hive to the bees, the repository of the stock of every individual, that to which each particular resorts with whatever he has collected for the good of the whole, what honey is expected? what hope of advantage? The sense is clear, the expression is confused.
JOHNSON. 10 But when the planets, &c.] The apparent irregular motions of the planets were supposed to portend some disasters to mankind; indeed the planets themselves were not thought formerly to be confined in any fixed orbits of their own, but to wander about ad libitum, as the etymology of their names demonstrates.
ANONYMOUS. 11 It hath to climb. -] With a design in each man to aggrandize himself, by slighting his immediate superior.
JOHNSON. 12 How rank soever rounded in with danger.] A rank weed, is a high weed.
A stranger &c. -] And yet this was the seventh year of the war. Shakspeare, who so wonderfully preserves character, usually confounds the customs of all nations, and probably supposed that the ancients (like the heroes of chivalry) fought with beavers to their helmets.
STEEVENS. 14 -long-continued truce] Of this long truce there has been no notice taken; in this very act it is said, that Ajax coped Hector yesterday in the battle.
-vantbrace-] i. e. Avantbras, French, An armour for the arm,
16 Must tarre the mastiffs on,-] Tarre, an old English word signifying to provoke or urge on. See King John, Act 4. Scene 1.
like a dog
when Achilles'b rach-] He calls Patroclus, in contempt, Achilles' brach, i. e. dog.
many thousand dismes—] Dismes is the tythe, the tenth.
19 And do a deed thut fortune &c.] If I understand this passage, the meaning is, “Why do you, by cen
suring the determination of your own wisdoms,
degrade Helen, whom fortune has not yet deprived “ of her value, or against whom, as the wife of Paris, “ fortune has not in this war so declared, as to make “ us value her less?” This is very harsh, and much strained.
JOHNSON 20 —the performance of our heaving spleens,] The execution of spite and resentment.
-without drawing their massy irons- ] That is, without drawing their swords to cut the web. They use no means but those of violence.
JOHNSON. 22 - underwrite--] Is subscribe, and to subscribe, in Shakspeare, is, to obey.
seam,] Grease. To this day, in Devonshire, goose grease is called
goose seam. 24 I'll pheeze his pride :] To pheeze is to comb or curry.
- my disposer Cressida-) I do not understand the word disposer, nor know what to substitute in its
place, says Dr. Johnson: there is no variation in the copies.
The falcon as the tercel,] Pandarus means, that he'll match his niece against her lover for any bett. The tercel is the male hawk; by the falcon we generally understand the female. THEOBALD,
27 Might be affronted-] I wish “my integrity "might be met and matched with such equality and "force of pure unmingled love." JOHNSON.
28 In most accepted pain.] Sir T. Hanmer, and Dr. Warburton after him, read,
In most accepted pay. They do not seem to understand the construction of the passage.
presence, says Calchas, shall strike off, or recompence, the service I have done, even in these labours which were most accepted. Johnson.
29 How some men creep in skittish fortune's hall] Some men are kept out of notice in the hall of fortune, whilst others, though they but play the idiot, are ever
in her eye.
30 Made emulous missions-) Missions, for divisions, i. e. goings out, on one side and the other.
WAR BURTON. s! Keeps place with thought ;-) i. e. there is in the providence of a state, as in the providence of the universe, a kind of ubiquity. The expression is exquisitely fine: yet the Oxford editor alters it to keeps pace, and so destroys all its beauty. WARBURTON.
32 -question of the gentle truce.] Question means here intercourse, conversation.
-Capocchia !-] Pandarus would say, I think,
in English-Poor innocent! Poor fool! hast not slept to-night? These appellations are very well answered by the Italian word capocchio: for capocchio signifies the thick head of a club; and thence, metaphorically, a head of not much brain, a sot, dullard, heavy gull.
make a prey.
-throw my glove at death himself.) i. e. challenge death himself in defence of thy fidelity.
35 I'll answer to my lust,] To my lust is, as it pleases me. Lust is pleasure. German.
36 sluttish spoils of opportunity, ] Corrupt wenches, of whose chastity every opportunity may
JOHNSON 37 Not Neoptolemus so mirable,] That is to say, “You, an old veteran warrior, threaten to kill me, “when not the young son of Achilles (who is yet to
serve his apprentisage in war, under the Grecian
generals, and on that account called Neoflórsy @) “ dare himself entertain such a thought.” But Shakspeare meant another sort of man, as is evident from,
On whose bright crest, &c. Which characterises one who goes foremost and alone: and can therefore suit only one, which one was Achilles; as Shakspeare himself has drawn him,
The great Achilles, whom opinion crowns
The sinew and the forehund of our host. And again, Whose glorious deeds but in these fields of late, Made emulous missions ʼmongst the gods themselves, And drove great Mars to faction.