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: Impossible slanders are, I suppose, such slanders as, from their absurdity and impossibility, bring their own confutation with them.


Line 139. -his villainy ;] By which she means his malice and impiety. By his impious jests, she insinuates, he pleased libertines; and by his devising slanders of them, he angered them. WARBURTON.

Line 159.

his bearing:] That is, his deportment.

179. Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.] The signification of blood here is, amorous desire. So also in All's well

that Ends well, Act 3. Sc. 7.

"Now his important blood will nought deny

"That she'll demand."

Line 188.

———usurer's chain?] Usury seems about this time to have been a common topic of invective. I have three or four dialogues, pasquils, and discourses on the subject, printed before. the year 1600. From every one of these it appears, that the merchants were the chief usurers of the age. STEEVENS.

Line 206. --it is the base, the bitter disposition of Beatrice, that puts the world into her person.] That is, It is the disposition of Beatrice, who takes upon her to personate the world, and therefore represents the world as saying what she only says herself. JOHNSON. Line 213. -as melancholy as a lodge in a warren ;] A parallel thought occurs in the first chapter of Isaiah, where the prophet, describing the desolation of Judah, says,-"The daughter of Zion "is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers," &c. I am informed, that near Aleppo, these lonely buildings are still made use of, it being necessary, that the fields where water-melons, cucumbers, &c. are raised, should be regularly watched. STEEVENS.

Line 215. of this young lady;] Benedick speaks of Hero as if she were on the stage. Perhaps, both she and Leonato, were meant to make their entrance with Don Pedro. When Beatrice enters, she is spoken of as coming in alone.

Line 244.


such impossible conveyance,] i. e. In the na

ture of a slight-of-hand trick, done with all the dexterity and ap

parent impossibility of a juggler.

Line 254.

the infernal Até in good apparel.] This is a

pleasant allusion to the custom of ancient poets and painters, who

represent the furies in rags.


Line 266. bring you the length of Prester John's foot; fetch you a hair off the great Cham's beard;] i. e. I will undertake the most difficult task, rather than have any conversation with lady Beatrice. Alluding to the difficulty of access to either of those monarchs, but more particularly to the former.

Line 278. 294.

-use for it,] i. e. Interest paid for it.


of that jealous complexion.] Thus the quarto 1600. The folio reads, of a jealous complexion. STEEVENS. Line 316. Thus goes every one to the world but I, and I am sun-burned;] I believe we should read, Thus goes every one to the wood but I, and I am sun-burnt. Thus does every one but I find a shelter, and I am left exposed to wind and sun. It is said of a woman, who accepts a worse match than those which she had refused, that she has passed through the wood, and at last taken a crooked stick. Shakspeare, in All's well that Ends well, uses the phrase, to go to the world, for marriage.


Line 343. she hath often dreamed of unhappiness,] Thus Beaumont and Fletcher, in their comedy of The Maid of the Mill.

-My dreams are like my thoughts, honest and innocent:
Yours are unhappy.


Line 363. into a mountain of affection, the one with the other.] A mountain of affection with one another is a strange expression, yet I know not well how to change it. Perhaps it was originally written, to bring Benedick into a mooting of affection; to bring them not to any more mootings of contention, but to a mooting or conversation of love.

Line 376. 381.

-a noble strain,] i. e. Descent.
-queasy stomach,] i. e. Squcamish.



Line 418. Bora. Go then, find me a meet hour to draw Don Pedro, and the count Claudio alone; tell them that you know Hero loves me-Offer them instances, which shall bear no less likelihood than to

see me at her chamber-window; hear me call Margaret, Hero; hear Margaret term me Claudio; and bring them to see this the very night before the intended wedding.] The business stands thus; Claudio, a favourite of the Arragon prince, is by his intercessions with her father, to be married to fair Hero; Don John, natural brother of the prince, and a hater of Claudio, is in his spleen zealous to disappoint the match. Borachio, a rascally dependant on Don John, offers his assistance, and engages to break off the marriage by this stratagem. "Tell the prince and Claudio (says he) that Hero is "in love with me; they won't believe it; offer them proofs, as "that they shall see me converse with her in her chamber-window. "I am in the good graces of her waiting-woman, Margaret; and "I'll prevail with Margaret, at a dead hour of night to personate "her mistress Hero; do you then bring the prince and Claudio to "overhear our discourse; and they shall have the torment to hear ❝me address Margaret by the name of Hero; and her to say sweet things to me by the name of Claudio.”— -This is the substance of Borachio's device to make Hero suspected of disloyalty, and to break off her match with Claudio. THEOBALD.

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Line 420.

-intend- -] i. e. Pretend.


Line 477. —and her hair shall be of what colour it please God.] Satirically alluding to the fashion of dying the hair, in Shakspeare's time.

Line 544. Stalk on, stalk on; the fowl sits.] Alluding to the stalking horse, well known to the fowler in the fenn countries, who conceals himself under it, till he makes sure of his shot.

Line 553. --but that she loves him with an enraged affection, it is past the infinite of thought.] The meaning is, it is not in the power of thought to conceive, with what an enraged affection she loves him.

The plain sense is, I know not what to think otherwise, but that she loves him with an enraged affection: It (this affection) is past the infinite of thought. Here are no abrupt stops, or imperfect sentences. Infinite may well enough stand; it is used by more careful writers for indefinite: and the speaker only means, that

thought, though in itself unbounded, cannot reach or estimate the →degree of her passion. JOHNSON.

Line 591. 0, she tore the letter into a thousand half-pence ;] i. e. Into a thousand pieces of the same bigness. This is farther explained by a passage in As you like it:

-There were none principal; they were all like one another

as half-pence are.

Line 620.


have daff'd] To daff, is to put aside. -contemptible spirit.] That is, a temper inclined to scorn and contempt. It has been before remarked, that our author uses his verbal adjectives with great license.

Line 672.

JOHNSON. was sadly borne.] i. e. Was seriously carried on. STEEVENS.


Line 3. Proposing-] i. e. Conversing.
46. To wish him- -] i. e. Recommend to him.
-56. Misprising-] Despising, contemning.


68. If black, why, Nature, drawing of an antick,

Made a foul blot:] The antick was a buffoon character in the old English farces, with a blacked face, and a patchwork habit. What I would observe from hence is, that the name of antick or antique, given to this character, shews that the people had some traditional ideas of its being borrowed from the ancient mimes, who are thus described by Apuleius, Mimi centunculo, fuligine faciem obducti. WARBURTON.

Dr. Warburton's interpretation here is imperfect, the ancient harlequins, anticks, or vices, in the low comedies, had not their faces blackened. Shakspeare means only, one with a complexion or beard, more black than usual.

Line 70. If low, an agate very vilely cut:] Meaning the comparison between a little man and an agate stone; Falstaff his page:

"I was never so man'd with an agate till now." Line 102. -argument,] This word seems here to signify discourse, or, the powers of reasoning.


Line 110. She's lim'd- -] She is ensnared and entangled as a sparrow with birdlime. JOHNSON.

Line 114. What fire is in mine ears?] Alluding to a proverbial saying of the common people, that their ears burn, when others are talking of them. WARBURTON.

Line 119. Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand;] This image is taken from falconry. She had been charged with being as wild as haggards of the rock; she therefore says, that wild as her heart is, she will tame it to the hand. JOHNSON.

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Line 134.

the little hangman dare not shoot at him:] This character of Cupid came from the Arcadia of Sir Philip Sidney:

"Millions of yeares this old drivell Cupid lives;

"While still more wretch, more wicked he doth prove;

"Till now at length that Jove him office gives,

"(At Juno's suite who much did Argus love)

"In this our world a hangman for to be

"Of all those fooles that will have all they see."

B. 2. Ch. 14.

Line 154.



There is no appearance of fancy, &c.] Here is a

the word fancy, which Shakspeare uses for love as well

as for humour, caprice, or affectation.

Line 159.


slops;] Slops are loose breeches or trowsers.

190. She shall be buried with her face upwards.] The meaning seems to be, that she who acted upon principles contrary to others, should be buried with the same contrariety. JOHNSON. The passage perhaps means only-She shall be buried in her

lover's arms.

So in The Winter's Tale:

"Flo. What? like a corse?

"Per. No, like a bank for love to lie and play on;

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Line 298.


-bills be not stolen:] A bill is still carried by

the watchmen at Litchfield. It was the old weapon of the

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