NOTES AND QUERIES. [9< s. v. APKIL 23, im
The difficulty here is in the word skill. The current explanation is that it means reason. Skill is at times used as equivalent to reason ; but what a platitude would result from such a use in the present case! Skill to fear is skill in fear (or in fearing if "fear " be taken as a verb). " You say you might fear, but I say you know no fear you have as little knowledge of fear as I have purpose of deceit."
IV. iv. 162.
Dorcas. Mopsa must be your mistress: marry,
garlic, To mend her kissing with !
The Rev. John Hunter comments " you will be garlic." But how should the clown be garlic 1 ? No, Dorcas offers him a sprig of something, in imitation of Perdita's recent distribution of flowers, and calls it garlic. Garlic, she jeeringly says, would sweeten his mistress's breath.
IV. iv. 237.
Mopsa. I was promised them against the feast ; but they come not too late now.
To a Midlander "against the feast" means "in time for our annual festival." Every town and village had its feast, which began on the Sunday following the saint's day appropriate to its parish church. If Mopsa meant " in time for Trinity Sunday, whereas this sheep-shearing celebration is some weeks later," she would be thinking of Stratford- on-Avon, whose parish church is dedicated to the Trinity.
IV. iv. 409.
Polix. Is he not stupid
With age and altering rheums ?
"Altering" here does not mean merely changing, but has the technical sense of broken health. When we say an invalid is "much altered" we mean much worse in health, and showing it in his appearance. The same meaning is glanced at in Act I. ii. 383-4 and in Act IV. iv. 586.
IV. iv. 430.
Polix. Thou a sceptre's heir,
That thus affect'st a sheep-hook !
This is not metaphorical only. In 'Pandosto' it is expressly stated that the disguised Prince carried an actual sheep-hook. The point is worth making for its bearing on the next two passages, which have been misunder- stood.
IV. iv. 443.
Polix. Thou churl, for this time,
Though full of our displeasure, yet we free thee From the dead blow of it. The churl here is Florizel "in swain's wear-
ng," not the Shepherd, who remains under the ban already pronounced. IV. iv. 445.
Polix. And you, enchantment,
Worthy enough a herdsman ; yea, him too, That makes himself, but for our honour therein, Unworthy thee.
Much difficulty has been found in the phrase unworthy thee." How, it is asked, has Florizel made himself unworthy of Perdita 1 The answer is simple : by assuming the garb of a shepherd, whilst Perdita is pranked out most goddess - like. If it be objected that mere clothing is at such a moment beneath Polixenes's notice, let the objector look again to the opening of the scene, when he will find that Perdita made quite as much of the differ- ence in their attire, and, moreover, predicted most clearly that this was the point which would chiefly move the anger of Polixenes. IV. iv. 549.
Flo. But as the unthought-on accident is guilty To what we wildly do, so, &c.
" Guilty to " is not merely equivalent to " guilty of "; it is rather " guilty towards " some future action, whereas "guilty of" would refer to the past.
IV. iv. 789.
Aut. The king is not at the palace j he is gone aboard a new ship, &c.
The only explanation offered of the "new ship" is that the king preferred one with little bilge-water ! whereas this is but another of Autolycus's bad puns. Speaking to a shepherd and the son of a shepnerd, he rests assured they will hear his words as " an ewe sheep." In the literary workmanship that fashioned for us Autolycus, a remarkable point is the profusion of his poor puns. He is always punning, and yet is never allowed to give vent to a good one.
V. i. 203.
Per. The heaven sets spies upon us, will not have Our contract celebrated.
Leon. You are married ?
Flo. We are not, sir, nor are we like to be ; The stars, I see, will kiss the valleys first : The odds for high and low 's alike.
The last line has given much trouble, some making the stars the " high " and the valleys the " low," whilst others affirm that Florizel means that the ill fortune that pursued him as a shepherd will still pursue him as a prince. The speech, however, should clearly be allotted to Perdita; in it she continues what she had just been saying about the heaven, and adds that the inequality as regards high and low between her lover and herself is similar to that between the stars