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Line 38. He set up his bills, &c.] In Ben Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour, Shift says,
"This is rare, I have set up my bills without dicovery." Beatrice means, that Benedick published a general challenge, like a prize-fighter. STEEVENS.
Line 39. challenged Cupid at the flight;] The disuse of the bow makes this passage obscure. Benedick is represented as challenging Cupid at archery. To challenge at the flight is, I believe, to wager who shall shoot the arrow furthest without any particular mark. JOHNSON.
To challenge at the flight was a challenge to shoot with an arrow. Flight means only an arrow. STEEVENS.
Line 41. —at the bird-bolt.] The bird-bolt is a short thick arrow without point, and spreading at the extremity so much, as to leave a flat surface, about the breadth of a shilling. Such are to this day in use to kill rooks with, and are shot from a crossbow. STEEVENS.
Line 46. —he'll be meet with you.] This is a very common expression in the midland counties, and signifies he'll be your match, he'll be even with you.
four of his five wits- -] In our author's time
wit was the general term for intellectual powers.
-if he have wit enough to keep himself warm,] Such
a one has wit enough to keep himself warm, is a proverbial expression; to bear any thing for a difference is a term in heraldry.
STEEVENS. Line 73. -he wears his faith-] Not religious profession, but profession of friendship; for the speaker gives it as the reason of her asking, who was now his companion? that he had every month a new sworn brother. WARBURTON.
Line 74. which a hat is formed.
for the hat itself.
with the next block.] A block is a mould on The old writers sometimes use the word STEEVENS.
Line 76. the gentleman is not in your books.] This is a phrase used, I believe, by more than understand it. To be in one's books is to be in one's codicils or will, to be among friends set down for legacies. JOHNSON.
Thus Hamlet says,
"My tables, meet it is I set it down
when he pulls out his pocket-book.
Probably the phrase was originally adopted from the tradesman's language. To be in tradesman's books, might formerly have been an expression in common conversation for a trust of any other kind. STEEVENS.
Line 80. -young squarer- -] A squarer I take to be a cholerick, quarrelsome fellow, for in this sense Shakspeare uses the. word to square. So in Midsummer-Night's Dream, it is said of Oberon and Titania, that they never meet but they square. So the sense may be, Is there no hot-blooded youth that will keep him company through all his mad pranks? JOHNSON.
―your charge] That is, your burthen, your JOHNSON.
Dr. Johnson here mistakes the meaning of the word, it must imply a ward, or any person committed to your protection.
the flouting Jack ;] A term of derision. Thus
in Henry IV. Part I.
-the prince is a Jack, a sneak cup,"
Line 182. -to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder, &c.] That is, "Do you mean to tell us that love is not blind, and that fire will not consume what is combustible ?"- for both these propositions are implied in making Cupid a good hare-finder, and Vulcan (the God of fire) a good carpenter. In other words, would you convince me, whose opinion on this head is well known, that you can be in love without being blind, and can play with the flame of beauty without being scorched. ANONYMOUS.
wear his cap with suspicion ?] That is, subject
his head to the disquiet of jealousy.
sigh away Sundays.] A proverbial expression to signify that a man has no rest at all; when Sunday, a day formerly of ease and diversion, was passed so uncomfortably.
Line 232. -but in the force of his will.] Alluding to the definition of a heretick in the schools. WARBURTON,
Line 236. —but that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead,] That is, I will wear a horn on my forehead which the huntsman may blow. A recheat is the sound by which dogs are
called back. Shakspeare had no mercy upon the poor cuckold, his horn is an inexhaustible subject of merriment. JOHNSON. -notable argument.] An eminent subject for
Line 253. -in a bottle like a cat,] In some counties of England, a cat was formerly closed up with a quantity of soot in a wooden bottle, (such as that in which shepherds carry their liquor) and was suspended on a line. He who beat out the bottom as he ran under it, and was nimble enough to escape its contents, was regarded as the hero of this inhuman diversion.
Line 254. —and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder, and called Adam.] But why should he therefore be called Adam? Perhaps, by a quotation or two we may be able to trace the poet's allusion here. In Law-Tricks, or, Who would have thought it! (a comedy written by John Day, and printed in 1608) I find this. speech. Adam Bell, a substantial outlaw, and a passing good archer, yet no tobacconist.-By this it appears, that Adam Bell at that time of day was of reputation for his skill at the bow. THEOBALD. Adam Bell was a companion of Robin Hood, as may be seen in Robin Hood's Garland. JOHNSON.
Line 257. In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.] This line is taken from the Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronymo, &c. 1605.
Line 266. if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice,] All modern writers agree in representing Venice in the same light as the ancients did Cyprus. And 'tis this character of the people that is here alluded to. WARBURTON.
-guarded with fragments,] Guards were laces
-ere you flout old ends, &c.] Before you endeavour to distinguish yourself any more by antiquated allusions, examine whether you can fairly claim them for your own. This, I think, is the meaning; or it may be understood in another sense, examine, if your sarcasms do not touch yourself. JOHNSON.
Line 316. The fairest grant is the necessity:] i. e. No one can have a better reason for granting a request than the necessity of its being granted. WARBURTON.
. Line 317. lov'st.
-'tis once, thou lov'st;] i. e, Once for all, thou
ACT I. SCENE II.
--a thick-pleached alley] Pleached is inter
ACT I. SCENE III.
What the goujere,] Goujere may mean, as it is in the old copy, good year; but the meaning is most likely to be here, the lues venerea. Thus in Lear:
-the goujeres shall devour them," &c.
Line 364. I cannot hide what I am:] This is one of our au thor's natural touches. An envious and unsocial mind, too proud to give pleasure, and too sullen to receive it, always endeavours to hide its malignity from the world and from itself, under the plainness of simple honesty, or the dignity of haughty independence. JOHNSON.
Line 369. -claw no man in his humour.] To claw is to flatter. So the pope's claw-backs, in bishop Jewel, are the pope's flatterers. The sense is the same in the proverb, Mulus mulum scabit. JOHNSON.
Line 377. I had rather be a canker in a hedge, than a rose in his grace;] A canker is the canker-rose, dog-rose, cynosbatus, or hip. The sense is, I would rather live in obscurity the wild life of nature, than owe dignity or estimation to my brother.
Line 409. grave, sedate.
-in sad conference:] Sad here means, as usual,
ACT II. SCENE I.
Line 4. -heart-burned an hour after.] The pain commonly. called the heart-burn, proceeds from an acid humour in the stomach, and is therefore properly enough imputed to tart looks. JOHNSON,
Line 42. Well then, &c.] Of the two next speeches Mr. Warburton says, All this impious nonsense thrown to the bottom is the players, and foisted in without rhyme or reason. He therefore puts
them in the margin. They do not deserve, indeed, so honourable a place, yet I am afraid they are too much in the manner of our author, who is sometimes trying to purchase merriment at too dear a rate.
I have restored the lines omitted. Line 70. if the prince be too important,] Important here, and in many other places, is importunate.
-there is measure in every thing,] Thus in
"My legs can keep no measure in delight,
-Balthazar ;] The quarto and folio add-or dumb
-your friend?] Friend was used for lover in
Line 94. -the lute should be like the case!] i. e. That your face should be as homely and as coarse as your mask.
Line 95. My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove.] 'Tis plain, the poet alludes to the story of Baucis and Philemon from Ovid: and this old couple, as the Roman poet describes it, lived in a thatched cottage. Though this old pair lived in a cottage, this cottage received two straggling Gods, (Jupiter and Mercury) under its roof. So, Don Pedro is a prince; and though his visor is but ordinary, he would insinuate to Hero, that he has something godlike within: alluding either to his dignity or the qualities of his person and mind. THEOBALD.
Line 117. his dry hand-] See note on Twelfth-Night, Act 1. Sc. 3.
Line 129. Hundred merry Tales ;] The book, to which Shakspeare alludes, was an old translation of Les cent Nouvelles Nouvelles. The original was published at Paris, in the black letter, before the year 1500; and is said to have been written by some of the royal family of France. Ames mentions a translation of it prior to the time of Shakspeare. STEEVENS.
his gift is in devising impossible slanders:] We should read impassible, i. e. slanders so ill-invented, that they will pass upon no body.