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"And stagger'd many; who receives them right, "Had need from head to foot well understand, "Not understood, this gift they have besides, "To shew us when our foes stand not upright." Line 559. -the ale- -] i. e. A fair, or country merry
Line 561. It is to be observed, that, in the first folio edition, the only edition of authority, there are no directions concerning the scenes; they have been added by the later editors, and may therefore be changed by any reader that can give more consistency or regularity to the drama by such alterations. I make this remark in this place, because I know not whether the following soJOHNSON. liloquy of Protheus is so proper in the street.
Line 568. O sweet-suggesting love,-] To suggest is to tenipt in our author's language. So again:
Knowing that tender youth is soon suggested." The sense is. O tempting love, if thou hast influenced me to sin, teach me to excuse it.
Line 596. in counsel, his competitor.] Myself, who am his competitor or rival, being admitted to his counsel.
-pretended flight;] Means intended flight. So also in Macbeth, "What good could they pretend." Line 604. -this drift!] I suspect that the author concluded the act with this couplet, and that the next scene should begin the third act; but the change, as it will add nothing to the proba JOHNSON. bility of the action, is of no great importance.
ACT II. SCENE VII.
with a cod-piece, &c.] Whoever wishes to be acquainted with this particular, relative to dress, may consult Bulwer's Artificial Changeling, in which such matters are very amply discussed.
Line 679. as infinite] Old edition,-of infinite.
Line 48. daughter. Line 75.
of this pretence.] Of this claim made to your
where] i. e. Whereas.
-Sir, in Milan, here,] It ought to be thus, instead of-in Verona, here-for the scene apparently is in Milan, as is clear from several passages in the first act, and in the beginning of the first scene of the fourth act. A like mistake has crept into the eighth scene of Act II. where Speed bids his fellow-servant Launce welcome to Padua.
POPE. Line 88. -the fashion of the time- -] The modes of courtship, the acts by which men recommended themselves to ladies.
Line 117. What lets,] To let, signifies to hinder: thus in Hamlet, Act I. Sc. 4. "By heaven, I'll make a ghost of him that lets me."
Line 154. that, since.
--for they are sent by me,] For is the same as for
Line 159. -Merop's son)] Thou art Phaeton in thy rashness, but without his pretensions; thou art not the son of a divinity, but a terræ filius, a low-born wretch; Merops is thy true father, with whom Phaeton was falsely reproached. JOHNSON.
Line 192. I fly not death, to fly his deadly doom;] To fly his doom, used for by flying, or in flying, is a gallicism. The sense is, By avoiding the execution of his sentence I shall not escape death. If I stay here, I suffer myself to be destroyed; if I go away, I destroy myself. JOHNSON.
Line 262. Even in the milk-white bosom of thy love.] This is probably an allusion to a real custom, viz. that of ladies wearing their bosoms not only open, but so wide in front, as to admit all the paraphernalia of needle-work, their letters, their money, &c. in fact, A POCKET; where every thing was carelessly bestowed till a better opportunity presented of putting these articles by: the custom exists to this day, in a more or less degree.
Line 273. Laun. I am but a fool, look you; and yet I have the wit to think my master is a kind of knave: but that's all one, if he be but one KNAVE.] Where is the sense? or, if you won't allow the speaker that, where is the humour of this speech? Nothing had given the fool occasion to suspect that his master was become
double, like Antipholis in The Comedy of Errors. The last word is corrupt. We should read,
-if he be but one KIND.
He thought his master was a kind of knave; however, he keeps himself in countenance with this reflection, that if he was a knave but of one kind, he might pass well enough amongst his neighbours. This is truly humourous. WARBURTON.
This alteration is acute and specious, yet I know not whether, in Shakspeare's language, one knave may not signify a knave on only one occasion, a single knave. We still use a double villain for a villain beyond the common rate of guilt. JOHNSON.
Line 277. —a team of horse shall not pluck- -] I see how Valentine suffers for telling his love-secrets, therefore I will keep mine close. JOHNSON.
Line 292. With my master's ship?- -] How does Launce mistake the word? Speed asks him about his mastership, and he replys to it literatim. But then how was his mastership at sea, and on shore too? The addition of a letter and a note of apostrophe makes Launce both mistake the word, and sets the pun right it restores, indeed, but a mean joke; but, without it, there is no sense in the passage. Besides, it is in character with the rest of the scene; and, I dare be confident, the poet's own conceit. THEOBALD.
Line 307. -St. Nicholas be thy speed!] St. Nicholas presided over scholars, who were therefore called St. Nicholas's clerks. Hence, by a quibble between Nicholas and Old Nick, highwaymen, in The First Part of Henry the Fourth, are called Nicholas's clerks. WARBURTON.
stock.] i. e. Hose.
-she is not to be kiss'd fasting,- -] The old she is not to be fasting, &c. The necessary word
kiss'd was first added by Mr. Rowe.
-sweet mouth.] This I take to be the same with
what is now vulgarly called a sweet tooth, a luxurious desire of
dainties and sweetmeats.
-praise her liquor.] That is, shew how well she
likes it by drinking often.
Line 355. she is too liberal.] Liberal, is licentious and
gross in language. So in Othello, "Is he not a profane and very
"liberal counsellor ?"
she hath more hair than wit.] An old English
proverb. See Ray's Proverbs:
"Bush natural, more hair than wit."
ACT III. SCENE II.
Line 399. Trench'd in ice ;] Cut, carved in ice. Trencher, to cut, French. JOHNSON.
Line 428. —with circumstance,- -] With the addition of such incidental particulars as may induce belief. JOHNSON.
Line 444. —as you unwind her love—] As you wind off her love from him, make me the bottom on which you wind it. The housewife's term for a ball of thread wound upon a central body, is a bottom of thread.
Line 462. lime,— -] i. e. Birdlime.
-471. For Orpheus' lute was strung with poet's sinews;] This shews Shakspeare's knowledge of antiquity. He here assigns Orpheus his true character of legislator. For under that of a poet only, or lover, the quality given to his lute is unintelligible. But considered as a lawgiver, the thought is noble, and the imagery exquisitely beautiful. For by his lute is to be understood his system of laws; and by the poet's sinews, the power of numbers, which Orpheus actually employed in those laws to make them received by a fierce and barbarous people. WARBURTON.
inherit―] i. e. Obtain.
-I will pardon you.] I will excuse you from
ACT IV. SCENE I.
Line 6. If not, we'll make you sit, and rifle you.] The old copy reads as I have printed it. Paltry as the opposition between stand and sit may be thought, it is Shakspeare's own. The editors read, -we'll make you, Sir, &c. STEEVENS
Line 13. 40.
-a proper man.] i. e. A good-looking man.
tain of a band of robbers, and was much inclined to rob church
Line 52.awful men;] Reverend, worshipful; such as magistrates, and other principal members of civil communities. JOHNS. I think we should read lawful, in opposition to lawless men. In judicial proceedings the word has this sense. HAWKINS.
The author of The Revisal has proposed the same emendation. STEEVENS.
Line 55. An heir, and near allied unto the duke.] All the impressions, from the first downwards, An heir and niece allied unto the duke. But our poet would never have expressed himself so stupidly, as to tell us, this lady was the duke's neice, and allied to him: for her alliance was certainly sufficiently included in the first term. Our author meant to say, she was an heiress, and near allied to the duke; an expression the most natural that can be for the purpose, and very frequently used by the stage poets.
-] i. e. Resentment.
quality] i, e. Profession or trade.
ACT IV. SCENE II,
sudden quips,] That is, hasty passionate re
proaches and scoffs. So Macbeth is in a kindred sense said to be
sudden; that is, irascible and impetuous.
Line 131. beauty lives with kindness:] kindness dies unenjoyed, and undelighting.
JOHNSON. Beauty without JOHNSON.
Line 162. -out of all nick.] Beyond all reckoning or count. Reckonings are kept upon nicked or notched sticks or tallies.
Line 182. You have your wish; my will is even this,word will is here ambiguous. He wishes to gain her will: she tells him, if he wants her will he has it.
Line 220. But, since your falshood shall become you well] This is hardly sense. We may read, with very little alteration,
But since you're false, it shall become
This simple comment of Dr. Johnson's gives the author's meaning, without quoting Mr. Tyrwhitt, Mr. Ritson, and Mr. Malone.
Line 232. most heaviest.] The double superlative may be frequently observed in our author.