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Pliny informs us, that the Romans did the same to drive away evil spirits.
Steevens. 148. -charactery.] For the matter with which they make letters.
JOHNSON. So, in another of our author's plays:
“ All the chara&tery of my sad brows." į e. all that seems to be written on them.
Steevens. 155. of middle earth.] Spirits are supposed to inhabit the ethereal regions, and fairies to dwell under ground; men therefore are in a middle station.
JOHNSON. So, in the antient metrical romance of Syr Guy of Warwick, bl. 1. no date :
“ Thou mayst them flea with dint of swearde,
* And win the fayrest mayde of middle erde.” Again :
the best knight " That ever was in middle earde." Again, in Gower, De Confessione Amantis, fol. 26.
“ Adam for pride lost his price
“ In mydell erth." Again in an ancient alliterative ode, quoted by Mr. Warton, in his History of English Poetry:
“ Middle-erd for mon was made." Again, the MSS. called William and the Werwolf in the library of King's College, Cambridge, p. 15. " And seide God that madest man and all middle orthe."
The phrase signifies neither more nor less, than the earth or world, from its imaginary situation in the midst or middle of the Ptolemaic system, and has not the least reference to either spirits or fairies.
REMARKS. 158. Vile worm, thou wast o'er-look'd even in thy birth.] The old copy reads-uild. That vild, which so often occurs in these plays, was not an error of the press, but the pronunciation of the time, appears from these lines of Heywood, in his Pleasant Dialogues and Dramas, 1637 :
“ Earth. What goddess, or how st;ld ?
MALONE. 159 With trial-fire, &c.] So Beaumont and Fletcher, in the Faithful Shepherdess :
“ In this fame his finger thrust,
“ As loth unspotted flesh to burn." STEVENS, 169. Eva. It is right indeed, - --] This short speech, which is very much in character for sir Hugh, I have inserted from the old quarto, 1619.
THCOEALD. 172. —and luxury !] Luxury is here used for incontinence. So, in K. Lear, “ To't luxury pell-mell, for I lack soldiers."
STTEVENS. 173. Lust is but a bloody fire,] A bloody fire,
means a fire in the blood. In The Second Part of Hen. IV. act iv. the same expression occurs :
“ Led on by bloody youth,” &c. i.e. sanguine youth.
STEEVENS. Again in the Tempest, we have the very expression of the text :
" the strongest oaths are straw, " To the fire i' the blood.”' And in Othello : “ It is merely a lust in the blood.”
MALONE. 181. During this song,-) This direction I thought proper to insert from the old quartos.
THEOBALD. --they pinch him.] So, in Lylly's Endymion, 1591:
“ The fairies dance, and with a song, pinch him.” And, in his Maid's Metamorphosis, 1600, they threaten the same punishment.
STEEVENS. 207. --how wit may be made a Jack-a-lent,-) ] A Jack o'Lent appears to have been some puppet which was thrown at in Lent, like Shrove-tide cocks. So, in the old comedy of Lady Alimony, 1659 :
—if I forfeit,
shins “ For untagg’d points and counters.". Again, in Ben Jonson’s Tale of a Tub:
---0.1 an Ash-Wednesday, " Where thou didst stand six weeks the Jack o' Lent,
" For boys to hurl three throws a penny at thee."
STEEVENS. 218. -a coxcomb of Frize?] i. e, a fool's
made out of Welch materials. Wales was famous for this cloth. So, in K. Edward I. 1599 : “ Enter Lluellin, alias Prince of Wales, &c. with swords and bucklers, and frieze jerkins.” Again: “Enter Sussex, &c. with a mantle of frieze." "--my boy shall weare a mantle of this country's weaving, to keep him warm."
Steevens. 243. -the Welch flannel ;-] The very word is derived from a Welch one, so that it is almost unneces.' sary to add that flannel was originally the manufacture of Wales. In the old play of K. Edward I. 1599 : “ Enter Hugh ap David, Guenthian his wench in flannel, and Jack his novice.” Again :
“ Here's a wholesome Welch wench,
STEEVENS. 243. ignorance itself is a plummet o'er me: Though this be perhaps not unintelligible, yet it is an odd way of confessing his dejection. I should wish to read :
ignoranee itself has a plume o' me: That is, I am so depressed, that ignorance itself plucks me, and decks itself with the spoils of my weakness. Of the present reading, which is probably right, the meaning may be, I am so enfeebled, that ignorance itself weighs me down and oppresses me.
JOHNSON. + Ignorance
“ Ignorance itself, says Falstaff, is a plummet o'er