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BADE THEE STAND UP
But he that tempered thee bade thee stand up,
(Henry V, ii, 2, 118)
The obscurity which invests this passage has caused the words “tempered” and “stand up” to be a fruitful source of emendation and conjecture. The present-day understanding of Henry's remark is probably stated by Gollancz as well as any:
“No emendation is necessary, tho’ it is uncertain what the exact force of ‘bade thee stand up,' may be, whether (1) 'like an honest man,' or (2) ʻrise in rebellion.'
From an examination of emendations from the time of Johnson, and the nature of the critical query of today, it appears that critics have missed the idea that Lord Scroop is being regarded by Henry as a devil's knight and do not realize what this implies.
A knight practiced goodness just for the sake of goodness. He went about protecting the oppressed, assisting the helpless and fighting the battles of those who were wronged, and with no object whatever except to do good. Chivalry was the aristocratic flower of Christianity; it was not limited to doing to others as
you would have them do to you, but went about aggressively doing good to the complete sacrifice of self. It was active goodness just for the ideal of doing good.
A devil's knight therefore would be one who practiced evil just for the sake of being bad. He would be an entirely gratuitous and unrewarded miscreant – a man who did not even need an excuse for his badness. He would belong to the chivalry of evil.
For King Henry to address Scroop from such a point of view would express his sentiments exactly. Henry was baffled to know why Scroop, who had been his most intimate and favored friend, should conspire against him and prove a traitor. The only possible view he could take was that Scroop was one of those natures that are gratuitously bad. This seemed to be so strongly the truth of the matter that Henry expressed it by the powerful image of a man who had been consecrated to evil deeds as a knight is consecrated to good ones. a devil's knight; and just as a Christian king might dub a knight by some fit and distinctive title, so the devil had dubbed him Sir Traitor.
We are now in a position to answer the modern query as to the exact force of the words stand up.
When a nobleman was raised to knighthood, it was the custom, after the king had struck him across the shoulders with the royal sword and dubbed him by his new name, to tell him to stand up. The practice shows itself in several
places in Shakespeare: “Iden kneel down. Rise up a knight,” (2 Henry VI, V, I, 78). “I will make myself a knight presently. Rise up Sir John Mortimer,” (2 Henry VI, iv, 2, 128). Moreover, a man who espoused knighthood in the Middle Ages did it out of emulation of renowned Christian examples and a regard for high religious principles; he would therefore, in being knighted, have recalled to his mind these great “instances” of reasons and examples for being a knight. Shakespeare, in depicting Scroop as a devil's knight, used these expressions "stand up,” and “gave thee no instance,” so that King Henry's shaft would be driven home with a still deeper irony. The devil, as the text says, did not need to do this with Scroop - such ceremonies were unnecessary in his case. The devil, seeing what sort of man he had before him, knew that Scroop would not need to be incited to deeds of badness by great examples of evil; he could be depended upon to do bad without reason or example. And so the devil simply struck him with the sword as he knelt and then said, “Stand up.” That was all. In short, there was no use in his being knighted at all except that he aspired to the title -- Traitor.
Such words, addressed to Scroop, who was himself a nobleman and understood all that knighthood implied, would stab to the quick. He was guilty of the worst sort of traitorship not only to his king but to his friend. Henry
would naturally feel this bitterly; and so Shakespeare had to express it with adequate force.
If the reader will refer to the text he will see that this passage is preceded by seven lines which speak of a "cunning fiend” who “ got the voice in hell” for the way in which he wrought upon Scroop. This is generally understood, of course, as referring to a devil; but why this image has not been carried on by critics and applied to the continuing lines I do not understand. To be sure, there is no reference to knighthood anywhere except as it is alluded to in these three lines by such words as “dubbed” and “stand up.” There seems to have been a general failure to catch the essential idea as applied to the general circumstances. All this Shakespeare conveyed in three lines.
I might add that “tempered” is a figurative usage. The king struck the candidate for knighthood across the shoulder with his sword; it was at this moment that he became a knight. There is an implication that this sudden metamorphosis is like the tempering of metal, which is changed by striking. In keeping with Shakespeare's word-use it also has, faintly and secondarily, its usual meaning of compounding or mixing ingredients, hence making.
AY AND NO
Lear. No they cannot touch me for coining. I am the king himself.
Edgar. O thou side-piercing sight.
Lear. Nature's above art in that respect. There's your pressmoney. That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper; draw me a clothier's yard. Look, look, a mouse. Peace, peace; this piece of toasted cheese will do 't. There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it on a giant. Bring up the brown bills. O well flown bird. I the clout, i' the clout! Hewgh! Give the word.
Edgar. Sweet Marjoram.
Lear. Ha! Goneril, with a white beard. They flattered me like a dog, and told me I had the white hairs in my beard ere the black ones were there. To say “ay” and “no” to everything that I said! “Ay” and “no” too was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding; there I found 'em, there I smelt 'em out. Go to, they are not men o' their words; they told me I was everything; 't is a lie, I am not agueproof.
(Lear, iv, 6, 83)
The trouble in the above passage is the remark, “To say “ay' and 'no' to everything that I said! Ay' and 'no' too was no good divinity.” The traditional editorial note which, in lack of anything better, is still doing service in all annotated editions, is — “Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay.” (Matthew 5; 37). What this has to do with the sense here is never touched upon. It is just a con