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became understood, of chalking and notching upon wood the scores of customers; and by the text it is not unlikely a post was placed in the middle of the shop for that purpose.
-that merry sconce of yours,] Sconce means head. o'er-raught,-] That is, over-reached. JOHNSON. They say, this town is full of cozenage ;] This was the character the ancients give of it. Hence 'Eɛσia ähɛğıpaguana was proverbial amongst them. Thus Menander uses it, and Εφεσια γράμματα, in the same sense. WARBURTON.
Line 275. As, nimble jugglers, that deccive the eye,
Dark-working sorcerers, that change the mind,
By soul-killing I understand destroying the rational faculties by such means as make men fancy themselves beasts. JOHNSON.
Witches or sorcerers themselves, as well as those who employed them, were supposed to forfeit their souls by making use of a forbidden agency. In that sense, they may be said to destroy the souls of others as well as their own. STEEVENS.
-liberties of sin:] Sir T. Hanmer reads, libertines, which, as the author has been enumerating not acts but persons, seems right.
ACT II. SCENE I.
Line 14. Adr. There's none, but asses, will be bridled so. Luc. Why, headstrong liberty is lash'd with woe.] Should it not rather be leash'd, i. e. coupled like a head-strong hound ? ANONYMOUS.
The meaning of this passage may be, that those who refuse the bridle must bear the lash, and that woe is the punishment of headstrong liberty. It may be observed, however, that the seamen still use lash in the same sense with leash. Lace was the old English word for a cord, from which verbs have been derived differently modelled by the chances of pronunciation. When the mariner lashes his guns, the sportsman leashes his dogs, the female laces her clothes, they all perform the same act of fastening with a lace or cord. Of the same original is the word windlass, or more properly windlace, an engine, by which a lace or cord is wound upon a barrel.
start some other where?] I cannot but think
that our author wrote,
-start some other hare?
So in Much ado about Nothing, Cupid is said to be a good hare
-though she pause ;] To pause is to rest, to be
in quiet. Line 44. fool-begg'd-] She seems to mean, by foolbegg'd patience, that patience which is so near to idiotical simplicity, that your next relation would take advantage from it to represent you as a fool, and beg the guardianship of your fortune. JOHNSON.
Line 57. that I could scarce understand them.] i. e. that I could scarce stand under them. This quibble, poor as it is, seems to have been the favourite of Shakspeare. STEEVENS.
Line 91. Am I so round with you, as you with me,] He plays upon the word round, which signified spherical applied to himself, and unrestrained, or free in speech or action, spoken of his mistress. So the king, in Hamlet, bids the queen be round with her son. JOHNSON.
Line 107. My decayed fair-] Shakspeare uses the adjective gilt, as a substantive, for what is gilt, and very probably fair for fairness. In the Midsummer Night's Dream, the old quartos read,
"Demetrius loves your fair."
Line 109. too unruly deer,] The ambiguity of deer and dear is borrowed, poor as it is, by Waller, in his poem on the Ladies Girdle.
"This was my heaven's extremest sphere,
Line 110. poor I am but his stale.] The word stale, in our author, used as a substantive, means, not something offered to allure or attract, but something vitiated with use, something of which the best part has been enjoyed and consumed. JOHNSON.
Stale means, I believe, in this place, the same as the French word, chaperon. Poor I am but the cover for his infidelity. STEEV. Line 119. I see, the jewel, best enamelled,
Will lose his beauty; and though gold 'bides still,
Wear gold and so no man, that hath a name,
But falshood, and corruption doth it shame.
The sense is this, "Gold, indeed, will long bear the handling; "however, often touching will wear even gold; just so the great"est character, tho' as pure as gold itself, may, in time, be in"jured, by the repeated attacks of falshood and corruption.” WARBURTON.
Line 160. And make a common of my serious hours.] i. e. intrude on them when you please. The allusion is to those tracts of ground destined to the general use, which are thence called STEEVENS.
Line 169.insconse-] i. e. fortify.
-219. Not a man of those, but he hath the wit to lose his hair.] That is, Those who have more hair than wit are easily entrapped by loose women, and suffer the consequences of lewdness, one of which, in the first appearance of the disease in Europe, was the loss of hair. JOHNSON.
284. I live distain'd, thou undishonoured.] To distaine (from the French word, destaindre) signifies, to stain, defile, pollute. But the context requires a sense quite opposite. We must either read, unstain'd; or, by adding an hyphen, and giving the preposition a privative force, read, dis-stain'd; and then it will mean, unstain'd, undefiled. THEOBALD.
Line 314. you are from me exempt,] Exempt, separated, parted. The sense is, If I am doomed to suffer the wrong of separation, yet injure not with contempt me who am already injured.
Line 358. And shrive you- -] That is, I will call you to con
fession, and make
tell your tricks.
-Carkanet] seems to have been a necklace or rather
chain, perhaps hanging down double from the neck. JOHNSON.
Marry, so it doth appear
By the wrongs I suffer, and the blows I bear.]
Dromio says, that his wrongs and blows prove him an ass ; but immediately, with a correction of his former sentiment, such as may be hourly observed in conversation, he observes that, if he had been an ass, he should, when he was kicked, have kicked again.
Mome,] A dull stupid fellow.
patch!] A paltry fellow.
-I owe?] i. e. I possess, or own.
we'll pluck a crow together.] We find the
same quibble on a like occasion in one of the comedies of Plautus.
-the doors are made against you.] To make the door, is the expression used to this day in some counties of England, instead of, to bar the door.
STEEVENS. Line 166. -supposed by the common rout-] For suppose I once thought it might be more commodious to substitute supported; but there is no need of change: supposed is founded on supposition, made by conjecture. JOHNSON.
Line 173. And, in despight of mirth,] The meaning is, I will be merry, even out of spite to mirth, which is, now, of all things, the most unpleasing to me. WARBURTON.
ACT III. SCENE II.
Line 191. that you have quite forgot, &c.] What our poet means, is this: Shall thy love-springs rot, even in the spring of love? and shall thy love grow ruinous, even while 'tis but building up? THEOBALD.
Line 214. Being compact of credit,] Means, being made altogether of credulity. STEEVENS.
Line 219. vain,] Is light of tongue, not veracious. JOHNS. -250. Not mad, but mated;] i. e. confounded. So in Macbeth:
My mind she has mated, and amaz'd my sight. STEEVens. Line 266. My sole earth's heaven, and my heaven's claim.] When he calls the girl his only heaven on the earth, he utters the common cant of lovers. When he calls her his heaven's claim, I cannot understand him. Perhaps he means that which he asks of heaven. JOHNSON.
Line 307. Swart,] i. e. Swarth or tawny.
-328. In her forehead; armed, and reverted, making war against her hair.] With this corrected text Dr. Warburton concurs, and sir T. Hanmer thinks an equivocation intended, though he retains hair in the text. Yet surely they have all lost the. sense by looking beyond. Our author here sports with an allusion, in which he takes too much delight, and means that his mistress had the French disease. The ideas are rather too offensive to be dilated. By a forehead armed, he means covered with incrusted eruptions: by reverted, he means having the hair turning backward. An equivocal word must have senses applicable to both the subjects to which it is applied. Both forehead and France might in some sort make war against their hair, but how did the forehead make war against its heir? as Theobald conjectures. The sense which I have given immediately occurred to me, and will, I believe, arise to every reader who is contented with the meaning that lies before him, without sending out conjecture in search of refinements. JOHNSON.
Line 350. ————And, I think, if my breast had not been made of faith, &c.] Alluding to the superstition of the common people, that nothing could resist a witch's power, of transforming men into animals, but a great share of faith. WARBURTON.
Line 375. at the Porcupine:] It is remarkable, that all over the ancient editions of Shakspeare's plays, the word Porpentine is used instead of Porcupine. It was so written at that time. STEEVENS.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
want gilders—] A gilder is a coin of the value of
one shilling and sixpence, to two shillings.
ACT IV. SCENE II.
Line 6.meteors tilting in his face?] Alluding to those meteors in the sky, which have the appearance of lines of armies meeting in the shock. WARBURTON. Line 154.
sere,] that is, dry, withered. JOHNSON. 157. Stigmatical in making,] That is, marked or stigmatized by nature with deformity, as a token of his vicious disposition.