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teen. I have altered the odd phrase of letting the laws slip: for how does it sort with the comparison that follows, of a lion in his cave that went not out to prey? But letting the laws sleep, adds a particular propriety to the thing represented, and accords exactly too with the simile. It is the metaphor too, that our author seems fond of using upon this occasion, in several other passages of this play. The law hath not been dead, tho' it hath slept;
'Tis now awake. And so, again,
-but this new governor
und for a name,
TIEOBALD. The query is, whether fourteen should be altered here to nineteen, or whether the nineteen in Claudio's statement is not, in fact, the error.
10 Stands at a guard with envy;] Stands on terms of defiance.
JOHNSON. -'tis my familiar sin With maids to seem the lapwing, and to jest, Tongue far from heart,-] The lightness of a spark's behaviour to his mistress, is here compared to the lapwing's hovering and fluttering as it flies : besides which, the farther she is from her nest, where her heart is, the louder she is in her cry, to deceive those who seek her young.
10 Bore many gentlemen
In hand, and hope of action : To bear in hand is a common phrase for to keep in erpectation and dependance, but we should read,
-with hope of action. 13 —the mother) i. e, the abbess, the head of a convent.
14 to fear the birds of prey] To fear is to affright, to terrify; so in The Merchant of Venice,
-This aspect of mine Hath fear'd the valiant. 15 Some run from brakes of vice, and answer none;] In some editions, “ some run through brakes, &c." Mr. Steevens very gravely quotes Drayton and Daniel to prove that a brake signified formerly a bush, or a thicket of bushes. Had he lived in the west of England, he would have known that, at this day, it is not only the common, but the sole appellation of certain thickets. A plat of ground (be its size what it may) covered with furze, with briars, or with thorns, bears there the name of brake, and no other. For my own part, however, I must confess, I agree with him, that this is the brake used here figuratively by our poet, and not brake for a rack or an engine of confession. If we read some run from instruments of torture and answer none,' to what does the word none refer? neither to any thing before, nor to any thing that follows. But if we understand some run through the midst of vices as they would dash through a thicket, and yet, in the end, escape punishment,' the opposition
will be a very natural one to the words of the next line, that some are condemned for a fault alone.' There is no one but must entertain the most profound respect for Mr. Henley's critical judgment, and yet I cannot help differing from that gentleman's opinion of the meaning of the verb to answer in the passage before me. He thinks it must signify that confession of guilt which is extorted by the rack. But when we say a man shall answer for his crimes with his life,' we mean that death is the punishment due to them; and when we use the expression of our sins being to be answered for at the last day,' the omniscience of Heaven excludes all thoughts of the necessity of confession : we understand, by answering, either the trial we are to undergo, or the punishment which is to be the consequence of it.
a tapster, sir; parcel-bawd ;] This we should now express by saying, he is half-tapster, half-bawd.
Where lately harbour'd many a famous whore,
16 Hannibal !] for Cannibal.
19 ---three pence a bay:] Mr. Theobald found that this was the reading of the old books, and he follows it out of pure reverence for antiquity; for he
knows nothing of the meaning of it. He supposes bay to be that projection called a bay-window; as if the way of rating houses was by the number of their bay-windows. But it is quite another thing, and signifies the squared frame of a timber house ; each of which divisions or squares is called a bay. Hence a building of so many bays.
then will breathe within your lips, Like man new made.] This is a fine thought, and finely expressed. The meaning is, that mercy will add such a grace to your person, that you will appear as amiable as a mun come fresh out of the hands of his Creator.
WARBURTON. I rather think the meaning is, You would then change the severity of your present character. In familiar speech, You would be quite another man. JOHNSON.
21 gnarled oak,] Gnarre is the old English word for a knot in the wood.
22 -who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.] ] Mr. Theobald says the meaning of this is, that if they were endowed with our spleens and perishable organs, they would luugh themselves out of immortality: Which amounts to this, that if they were mortal, they would not be immortal. Shakspeare meant no such nonsense. By spleens, he meant that peculiar turn of the human mind, that always inclines it to a spiteful, unseasonable mirth. Had the angels that, says Shakspeare, they would laugh themselves out of their immortality, by indulging a passion which does not deserve that
prerogative. The ancients thought, that immoderate laughter was caused by the bigness of the spleen.
-She speaks, and 'tis Such sense, that my sense breeds with it.] Mr. Malone here appears to me to give the true meaning of Shakspeare. Angelo by his own sense means his lust, which is stirred more fiercely by the worth of Isabella. So afterwards,
- Can it be
• Than woman's lightness ?' 24 I smild, and wonder'd how.] As a day must now intervene between this conference of Isabella with Angelo, and the next, the act might more properly end here; and here, in my opinion, it was ended by
JOHNSON. 25 Let's write good angel on the devil's horn,
'Tis not the devil's crest.] i. e. Let the most wicked thing have but a virtuous pretence, and it shall
for innocent. This was his conclusion from his preceding words,
To thy false seeming? But the Oxford editor makes him conclude just counter to his own premises ; by altering it to,
Is't not the devil's crest? So that, according to this alteration, the reasoning