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fiend; away! says the fiend, for the heavens 6; rouse up a brave mind, says the fiend, and run. Well, my conscience, hanging about the neck of my heart, says very wisely to me,-my honest friend Launcelot, being an honest man's son,-or rather an honest woman's son ;-for, indeed, my father did something smack, something grow to, he had a kind of taste ;-well, my conscience says, Launcelot, budge not ; budge, says the fiend; budge not, says my conscience: Conscience, say I, you counsel well ; fiend, say I, you counsel well: to be ruled by my conscience, I should stay with the Jew my master, who, (God bless the mark !) is a kind of devil; and, to run away from the Jew, I should
throw up their hind legs. Such also may be Launcelot's meaning. STEEVENS.
1 perceive no need of alteration. The pleonasm appears to me consistent with the general tenour of Launcelot's speech. He had just before expressed the same thing in three different ways :“ Use your legs; take the start; run away." MALONE.
Mr. 'Steevens calls this absurdity, and introduces a brother critick, Sir Hugh Evans, who had maintained that “he hears with ears
was affectations : both the parties had forgotten their Bible. As to the proposed alteration “ withe thy heels,” it might be asked, who ever heard of a person binding his own heels to prevent running ? Mr. Malone has well defended the consistency of Launcelot's speech. It may be added that in King Richard II. Act V. Sc. III. we have “ kneel upon my knees.” Douce.
And in the Common Prayer“ meekly kneeling upon your knees.” Boswell.
AWAY! says the fiend, for the heavENS;] As it is not likely that Shakspeare should make the Devil conjure Launcelot to do any thing for Heaven's sake, I have no doubt but this passage is corrupt, and that we ought to read :
Away! says the fiend, for the haven," by which Launcelot was to make his escape, if he was determined to run away. M. Mason.
Mr. Gifford, in a note on Every Man Out of His Humour, has shewn by a number of instances that for the heavens was merely a petty oath. To make the fiend conjure Launcelot to do a thing for Heaven's sake is a specimen of that “ acute nonsense,” which Barrow makes one of the species of wit, and which Shakspeare was sometimes very fond of. Boswell.
be ruled by the fiend, who, saving your reverence, is the devil himself : Certainly, the Jew is the very devil incarnation ; and, in my conscience, my conscience is but * a kind of hard conscience, to offer to counsel me to stay with the Jew: The fiend gives the more friendly counsel : I will run, fiend; my heels are at your commandment, I will run.
Enter old GOBBO ®, with a Basket.' GOB. Master, young man, you, I pray you; which is the way to master Jew's ?
Laun. [ Aside.] O heavens, this is my true be
* First folio omits but. 7 - well, my conscience says, Launcelot, budge not; budge, says the fiend; budge not, says my conscience.]
It is not improbable that this curious struggle between Launcelot's conscience and the fiend might have been suggested by some well known story in Shakspeare's time, grafted on the following Monkish fable. It occurs in a collection of apologues that remain only in manuscript, and have been severally ascribed to Hugo of Saint Victor, and Odo de Sheriton or Shirton, an English Cistercian Monk of the 12th century. “ Multi sunt sicut mulier delicata et pigra. Talis vero mulier dum jacet mane in lecto et audit pulsari ad missam, cogitat secum quod vadat ad missam. Et cum caro, quæ pigra est, timet frigus, respondet et dicit, Quare ires ita mane, nonne scis quod clerici pulsant campanas propter oblationes ? dormi adhuc; et sic transit pars diei. Postea iterum conscientia pungit eam quod vadat ad missam. Sed caro respondet, et dicit, Quare ires tu tam cito ad ecclesiam ? certè tu destrueres corpus tuum si ita manè surrexeris, et hoc Deus non vult ut homo destruat seipsum ; ergo quiesce et dormi. Et transit alia
pars diei. Iterum conscientia pungit eam quod vadat ad ecclesiam ; sed caro dicit, Ut quid ires tam cito? Ego bene scio quod talis vicina tua nondum vadit ad ecclesiam ; dormi parum adhuc. Et sic transit alia pars diei. Postea pungit eam conscientia? sed caro dicit, Non oportet quod adhuc vadas, quia sacerdos est curialis et bene expectabit te; attende et dormi. Et sic dormiendo transit tempus. Et tamen ad ultimum verecundia tacita atque coacta, surgit et vadit ad ecclesiam, et invenit portas clausas.” Douce.
8 Enter old Gobbo,] It may be inferred from the name of Gobbo, that Shakspeare designed this character to be represented with a hump-back.' STEEVENS,
gotten father! who, being more than sand-blind", high-gravel blind, knows me not :- I will try conclusions with him. Gob. Master young gentleman, I pray you,
which is the way to master Jew's ?
Laun. Turn up on your right hand?, at the next turning, but, at the next turning of all, on your left; marry, at the very next turning, turn of no hand, but turn down indirectly to the Jew's house.
Gov. By God's sonties', 'twill be a hard way to
9 — being more than SAND-Blind,] So, in Anthony Copley's Fig for Fortune, 1596 :
“ But on the other side, when thou consider
“ The sand-blind errors even of justest men.” So, also in Latimer's 1st Sermon on the Lord's Prayer: "The Saintis be purre-blinde and sand-blinde.” Malone.
i-try conclusions - ] To try conclusions is to try experiments. So, in Heywood's Golden Age, 1611:
since favour “ Cannot attain thy love, I'll try conclusions.” Again, in the Lancashire Witches, 1634 :
“Nay then I'll try conclusions :
Mare, mare, see thou be,
“ And where I point thee, carry me.” Steevens. So quarto R. Quarto H. and folio read—confusions.
Malone. ? Turn up on your right hand, &c.] This arch and perplexed direction to puzzle the enquirer, seems to imitate that of Syrus to Demea in the Brothers of Terence:
ubi eas præterieris,
THEOBALD. God's sonties,] I know not exactly of what oath this is a corruption. I meet with God's santy in Decker's Honest Whore, 1635.
Again, in The longer thou Livest the more Fool thou Art, a comedy, bl. 1. without date :
“ God's santie, this is a goodly book indeed.” Perhaps it was once customary to swear by the santé, i. e. health, of the Supreme Being, or by his saints ; or, as Mr. Ritson observes to me, by his sanctity. Oaths of such a turn are not unfrequent among our ancient writers. All, however, seem to have
you tell me whether one Launcelot, that dwells with him, dwell with him, or no?
Laun. Talk you of young master Launcelot ?Mark me now; [aside] now will I raise the waters: -Talk you of young master Launcelot ?
Gob. No master, sir, but a poor man's son ; his father, though I say it, is an honest exceeding poor man, and, God be thanked, well to live.
Laun. Well, let his father be what he will, we talk of young master Launcelot.
Gob. Your worship's friend, and Launcelot, sir **.
young master Launcelot? Gob. Of Launcelot, an't please your mastership.
Laun. Ergo, master Launcelot; talk not of master Launcelot, father; for the young gentleman (according to fates and destinies, and such odd
sayings, the sisters three, and such branches of learning,) is, indeed, deceased; or, as you would say, in plain terms, gone to heaven.
Gob. Marry, God forbid ! the boy was the very staff of my age, my very prop.
Laun. Do I look like a cudgel, or a hovel-post, a staff, or a prop ?-Do you know me, father ?
* First folio omits sir. been so thoroughly convinced of the crime of profane swearing, that they were content to disguise their meaning by abbreviations which were permitted silently to terminate in irremediable corruptions. STEEVENS.
4 Your worship's friend, and LAUNCELOT, sir.] Dr. Farmer is of opinion we should read Gobbo instead of Launcelot; and observes, that phraseology like this occurs also in Love's Labour's Lost :
your servant, and Costard.” Steevens. Mr. Capel observes that from the son being termed young Launcelot, it is probable that the father had the same Christian name. Boswell.
and Launcelot, sir." i. e. plain Launcelot; and not, as you term him, master Launcelot." Malone.
Gob. Alack the day, I know you not, young gen. tleman: but, I pray you, tell me, is my boy, (God rest his soul !) alive, or dead ?
Laun. Do you not know me, father ?
GOB. Alack, sir, I am sand-blind, I know you not.
LAUŃ. Nay, indeed, if you had your eyes, you might fail of the knowing me: it is a wise father, that knows his own child. Well, old man, I will tell you news of your son : Give me your blessing: truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long, a man's son may; but, in the end, truth will out.
GOB. Pray you, sir, stand up; I am sure, you are not Launcelot, my boy.
LAUN. Pray you, let's have no more fooling about it, but give me your blessing; I am Launcelot, your boy that was, your son that is, your child that shall be 5
GOB. I cannot think, you are my son.
Laun. I know not what I shall think of that: but I am Launcelot, the Jew's man; and, I am sure, Margery, your wife, is my mother. .
GOB. Her name is Margery, indeed: I'll be sworn, if thou be Launcelot, thou art mine own flesh and blood. Lord worshipp'd might he be !
5 — your child that shall be.] Launcelot probably here indulges himself in talking nonsense. So, afterwards :every finger I have with my ribs.” An anonymous critick supposes : “ he means to
was your child, I am your boy, and shall ever be your son." ' But son not being first mentioned, but placed in the middle member of the sentence, there is no ground for supposing such an inversion intended by our author. Besides, if Launcelot is to be seriously defended, what would his father learn, by being told that he who was his child, shall be his son?
MALONE. Launcelot may mean, that he shall hereafter prove his claim to the title of child, by his dutiful behaviour. Thus, says the Prince of Wales to King Henry IV.: I will redeem my character:
“And, in the closing of some glorious day,
you may tell