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Line 424. I am sent, with broom, before,
To sweep the dust behind the door.] Cleanliness is always necessary to invite the residence and the favour of Fairies. JOHNSON.
Line 437. Now, until, &c.] This speech, which both the old quartos give to Oberon, is in the edition of 1623, and in all the following, printed as the song. I have restored it to Oberon, as it apparently contains not the blessing which he intends to bestow on the bed, but his declaration that he will bless it, and his orders to the fairies how to perform the necessary rites. But where then is the song?—I am afraid it is gone after many other things of greater value. The truth is, that two songs are lost. The series of the scene is this; after the speech of Puck, Oberon enters, and calls the fairies to a song, which song is apparently wanting in all the copies. Next Titania leads another song, which is indeed lost like the former, though the editors have endeavoured to find it. Then Oberon dismisses his fairies to the dispatch of the
The songs, I suppose, were lost, because they were not inserted in the players parts, from which the drama was printed.
Line 469. —unearned luck—] i. e. If we have better fortune than we have deserved. STEEVENS.
Line 470. Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue.] That is, if we be dismissed without hisses. JOHNSON.
Line 474. Give me your hands.] That is, Clap your hands. Give us your applause. JOHNSON.
END OF THE ANNOTATIONS ON A MIDSUMMER-NIGHT'S
LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST..
ACT I. SCENE 1.
LINE 33. With all these, living in philosohy.] The stile of the rhyming scenes in this play is often entangled and obscure. I know not certainly to what all these is to be referred; I suppose he means, that he finds love, pomp, and wealth in philosophy.
By all these the poet seems to mean, all these gentlemen who have sworn to prosecute the same studies with me. STEEVENS.
Line 49. Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep.] Our author here has availed himself of poetical licence, by omitting the particle to before the last three verbs.
Line 65. When I to feast expressly am forbid ;] The copies all have,
When I to fast expressly am forbid.
But if Biron studied where to get a good dinner, at a time when he was forbid to fast, how was this studying to know what he was forbid to know? Common sense, and the whole tenour of the context require us to read, feast, or to make a change in the last word of the verse.
When I to fast expressly am fore-bid;
i. e. when I am enjoined before-hand to fast. while truth the while
Doth falsely blind] Falsely is here, and in many other places, the same as dishonestly or treacherously. The whole sense of this gingling declamation is only this, that a man by too close study may read himself blind, which might have been told with less obscurity in fewer words. JOHNSON.
Line 86. Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed,
And give him light that was it blinded by.] This is another passage unnecessarily obscure: the meaning is, that when he dazzles, that is, has his eye made weak, by fixing his eye upon a fairer eye, that fairer eye shall be his heed, his direction or lodestar, (see Midsummer-Night's Dream,) and give him light that was blinded by it. JOHNSON.
Line 96. Too much to know, is to know nought but fame; And every godfather can give a name.] The consequence, says Biron, of too much knowledge, is not any real solution of doubts, but mere empty reputation. That is, too much knowledge gives only fame, a name which every godfather can give likewise. JOHNSON.
Line 110. -sneaping frost,] To sneap, is to check. -117. May's newfangled shows:] Alluding to the pastimes and merriment of May-day. JOHNSON. Line 143. A dangerous law against gentility !] Gentility, here, does not signify that rank of people called gentry; but what the French express by gentilesse, i. e. elegantia, urbanitas. And then the meaning is this: Such a law for banishing women from the court is dangerous, or injurious to politeness, urbanity, and the more refined pleasures of life. For men without women would turn brutal and savage, in their natures and behaviour. THEOBALD.
Line 171. Not by might master'd, but by special grace:] Biron, amidst his extravagancies, speaks with great justness against the folly of vows. They are made without sufficient regard to the variations of life, and are therefore broken by some unforeseen necessity. They proceed commonly from a presumptuous confidence, and a false estimate of human power.
Line 177. Suggestions-] Temptations.
Line 180. diversion.
Line 188. A man of complements, whom right and wrong Have chose as umpire of their mutiny:] This passage, I believe, means that Don Armado was a man nicely versed in ceremonial distinctions, one who could distinguish in the most delicate questions of honour the exact boundaries of right and wrong. JOHNSON.
-quick recreation] Lively sport, sprightly JOHNSON.
Line 193. —in the world's debate.] The world seems to be used in a monastick sense by the king, now devoted for a time to a monastick life. JOHNSON: Line 198.
-fire new words,] i. e. New coined, just forged. -tharborough:] i. e. An under-constable.
216. A high hope for a low having;] The meaning is this. "Though you hope for high words, and should have them,' "it will be but a low acquisition at best." This our poet calls a low having. THEOBALD. Line 224. -taken with the manner ] This was the phrase in use to signify, taken in the fact. WARBURTON.
curious knotted garden:] The picturesque of the ancient gardens consisted of figures, of which the lines occasionally intersected each other.
Line 269. -base minnow of thy mirth,] Minnow here means, a contemptibly small object.
ACT I. SCENE II.
Line 338. --dear imp.] Imp was anciently a term of dignity. Lord Cromwel in his last letter to Henry VIII. prays for the imp his son. It is now used only in contempt or abhorrence; perhaps in our author's time it was ambiguous, in which state it suits well with this dialogue. JOHNSON.
Pistol salutes king Henry V. by the same title. STEEVENS. Line 341. juvenal?] i. e. Youth.
-crosses love not him.] By crosses he means money. So in As you like it, the Clown says to Celia,
"If I should bear you, I should bear no cross."
JOHNSON. Line 387. Moth. And how easy it is to put years to the word
three, and study three years in two words, the dancing-horse will tell you.] Banks's horse, which played many remarkable pranks. Sir Walter Raleigh (History of the World, first part, p. 178) says, "If Banks had lived in older times, he would have shamed all "the enchanters in the world: for whosoever was most famous among them, could never master, or instruct any beast as he did "his horse." Dr. GREY. Banks's horse is alluded to by many writers contemporary with Shakspeare. STEEVENS.
Which native she doth owe.] i. e. Own, or be pos
Line 446. The King and the Beggar?] See Dr. Percy's collection, in three volumes. STEEVENS. -my digression-] Digression here means,
Line 453. transgression.
Line 455. -the rational hind Costard;] Means, the reasoning brute, the animal with some share of reason. STEEVENS. Line 499. It is not for prisoners to be too silent in their words ;] I suppose we should read, it is not for prisoners to be silent in their wards, that is, in custody, in the holds.
I believe the blunder was intentional.
ACT II. SCENE I
Line 17. Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye,
Not utter'd by base sale of chapmen's tongues.] Chap man here seems to signify the seller, not, as now commonly, the buyer. Cheap or cheping was anciently the market, chapman therefore is marketman. The meaning is, that the estimation of beauty depends not on the uttering or proclamation of the seller, but on the eye of the buyer. JOHNSON.
Line 48. Well fitted in the arts,] Is, well qualified.
JOHNSON. -match'd with- -] Is combined or joined with. JOHNSON.
90. Were all address'd-] i. e. Were all prepared. 117. And sin to break it.] The Princess shews an inconvenience very frequently attending rash oaths, which, whether kept or broken, produce guilt.