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forks “presages snow—Whose face between her,” KING LEAR, iv. 6. 119. “Whose face between her forks, that is, her hand held before her face, in sign of modesty, with the fingers spread out, forky” (WARBURTON) . “The construction is not ‘Whose face between her forks,’ etc., but ‘Whose face presages snow,’ etc. The following expression, I believe, every body but Mr. Warburton understands; and he might, if he had read a little farther; which would have saved him this ingenious note. See in Timon of Athens, iv. 3. 383-384:
‘Whose blush doth thaw the consecrated snow
That lies on Dian's lap’; ” (EDWARDS) . “To preserve the modesty of Mr. Edwards's happy explanation, I can only hint a reference to the word fourcheure in Cotgrave's Dictionary(STEEVENS) . Warburton's interpretation of this passage has more recently been adopted by a gentleman (Mr. W. C. Jourdain—in Transactions of the Philological Society, 1857, p. 134), who maintains that the lady in our text is looking through her fingers just as a woman is represented doing at the drunken and naked Noah in a picture by Gozzoli in the Campo Santo, and as maids are said to do at a certain object in Jonson's Sad Shepherd; but qy. if Whose face between her forks—that is,“Whose face half concealed by her fingers” — presages snow reads as a complete sentence? and if it be considered as such, can presages snow mean anything else than “presages a fall of snow”? Besides, does not Whose face presages snow between her forks, that is, “Whose face presages that snow lies inter femora,” agree better than the other construction and explanation of the passage with what presently follows,—Down from the waist, etc.?

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    • William Shakespeare, King Lear, 4.6
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