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on those that war for a placket. I have said my prayers; and devil, envy, say Amen. What, ho! my lord Achilles !
PATR. Who's there? Thersites? Good Thersites, come in and rail.
THER. If I could have remembered a gilt counterfeit, thou wouldest not have slipped out of my contemplation :- but it is no matter; Thyself upon thyself! The common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance, be thine in great revenue! heaven bless thee from a tutor, and discipline come not near thee! Let thy blood be thy direction till thy death! then if she, that lays thee out, says—thou art a fair
that war for a placket.] On this occasion Horace must be our expositor:
-fuit ante Helenam ****** teterrima belli
In mine opinion, this remark enlumineth not the English reader. See mine handling of the same subject, in the play of King Lear, Act III. sc. iv. Vol. XVII. AMNER.
* If I could have remembered a gilt counterfeit, thou wouldest not have slipped out of my contemplation :) Here is a plain allusion to the counterfeit piece of money called a slip, which occurs again in Romeo and Juliet, Act II. sc. iv. and which has been happily illustrated by Mr. Reed, in a note on that passage. There is the same allusion in Every Man in his Humour, Act II.
WHALLEY. • Let thy blood be thy direction--] Thy blood means, thy passions ; thy natural propensities. See Vol. VIII. p. 178, n. 4.
MALONE. So, in The Yorkshire Tragedy : - for 'tis our blood to love what we are forbidden.” This word has the same sense in Timon of Athens and Cymbeline. STEEVENS.
corse, I'll be sworn and sworn upon't, she never shrouded
but lazars. Amen. Where's Achilles? PATR. What, art thou devout? wast thou in prayer?
THER. Ay; The heavens hear me!
ACHIL. Who's there?
lord. Achil. Where, where? - Art thou come? Why, my cheese, my digestion, why hast thou not served thyself in to my table so many meals ? Come; what's Agamemnon?
THER. Thy commander, Achilles;—Then tell me, Patroclus, what's Achilles ?
PATR. Thy lord, Thersites; Then tell me, I pray thee, what's thyself?
THER. Thy knower, Patroclus ; Then tell me, Patroclus, what art thou ?
PATR. Thou mayest tell, that knowest.
THER. I'll decline the whole question. Agamemnon commands Achilles ; Achilles is my lord; I am Patroclus' knower; and Patroclus is a fool.?
PATR. You rascal !
- decline the whole question.] Deduce the question from the first case to the last. JOHNSON, See Vol. XIV. p. 453, n. 9. MALONE.
Patroclus is a fool.] The four next speeches are not in the quarto. JOHNSON.
Achil. He is a privileged man.--Proceed, Thersites.
Ther. Agamemnon is a fool; Achilles is a fool; Thersites is a fool; and, as aforesaid, Patroclus is a fool.
Achil. Derive this ; come.
THER. Agamemnon is a fool to offer to command Achilles ; Achilles is a fool to be commanded of Agamemnon; Thersites is a fool to serve such a fool; and Patroclus is a fool positive. 8
PATR. Why am I a fool ?
THER. Make that demand of the prover.!—It suffices me, thou art. Look you, who comes here?
Enter AGAMEMNON, Ulysses, Nestor, Dio
MEDES, and AJAX. Achil. Patroclus, I'll speak with nobody:Come in with me, Thersites.
[Exit. Ther. Here is such patchery, such juggling, and such knavery! all the argument is, a cuckold, and a whore; A good quarrel, to draw emulous fąctions, and bleed to death upon. Now the dry
a fool positive. The poet is still thinking of his grammar; the first degree of comparison being here in his thoughts.
MALONE. of the prover.] So the quarto. Johnson. The folio profanely reads—to thy creator. STEEVENS.
There seems to be a profane allusion in the last speech but one spoken by Thersites. MALONE.
1- to draw emulous factions,] i. e. envious, contending factions. See p. 312, n. 7. MALONE. Why not rival factions, factions jealous of each other?
serpigo on the subject !? and war, and lechery, con found all !
[Exit. AGAM. Where is Achilles ? PATR. Within his tent; but ill-dispos'd, my
lord. AGAM. Let it be known to him, that we are here. He shent our messengers ; : and we lay by Our appertainments, visiting of him : Let him be told so; lest, perchance, he think We dare not move the question of our place, Or know not what we are. PATR.
I shall say so to him.
[Exit. ULYSS. We saw him at the opening of his tent; He is not sick.
Now the dry serpigo &c.] This is added in the folio.
JOHNSON. The serpigo is a kind of tetter. The term has already occurred in Measure for Measure. STEVENS. 3 He shent our messengers ;] i. e. rebuked, rated.
WARBURTON. This word is used in common by all our ancient writers. So, in Spenser's Fairy Queen, Book IV. c. vi:
“ Yet for no bidding, not for being shent,
66 Would he restrained be from his attendement.” Again, ibid :
“ He for such baseness shamefully him shent." Again, in the ancient metrical romance of The Sowdon of Babyloyne, p. 41:
hastowe no mynde
“ All messengeris ne doth shende.” Steevens. The quarto reads-sate; the folio-sent. The correction was made by Mr. Theobald. Sir T. Hanmer reads-He sent us mes, sengers. I have great doubts concerning the emendation now adopted, though I have nothing satisfactory to propose. Though sent might easily have been misprinted for shent, how could sate (the reading of the original copy) and shent have been confounded? MALONE.
AJAX. Yes, lion-sick, sick of proud heart: you may call it melancholy, if you will favour the man; but, by my head, 'tis pride : But why, why? let him show us a cause.- A word, my lord.
[Takes AGAMEMNON aside. NEST. What moves Ajax thus to bay at him? Ulyss. Achilles hath inveigled his fool from him. NEST. Who? Thersites? Ulyss. He.
NEST. Then will Ajax lack matter, if he have lost his argument.
Ulyss. No you see, he is his argument, that has his argument; Achilles.
NEST. All the better; their fraction is more our wish, than their faction: But it was a strong composure,a fool could disunite.
Ulyss. The amity, that wisdom knits not, folly may easily untie. Here comes Patroclus.
Re-enter PATROCLUS. NEST. No Achilles with him.
Ulyss. The elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy: his legs are legs for necessity, not for flexure.
composure,] So reads the quarto very properly; but the folio, whích the moderns have followed, has, it was a strong counsel. JOHNSON.
5 The elephant hath joints, &c.] So, in All's lost by Lust, 1633 :
Is she pliant ? “ Ştubborn as an elephant's leg, no bending in her.” Again, in All Fools, 1605 :
“ I hope you are no elephant, you have joints." In The Dialogues of Creatures Moralysed, &c. bl. 1. is mention of “ the olefawnte that bowyth not the kneys ;" a curious specimen of our early Natural History. STEEVENS.