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called back. Shakspeare had no mercy upon the poor cuckold, his horn is an inexhaustible subject of merriment. JOHNSON. notable argument.] An eminent subject for
-Line 252. satire.
Line 253. —in a bottle like a cat,] In some counties of England, a cat was formerly closed up with a quantity of soot in a wooden bottle, (such as that in which shepherds carry their liquor) and was suspended on a line. He who beat out the bottom as he ran under it, and was nimble enough to escape its contents, was regarded as the hero of this inhuman diversion.
Line 254. —and he that hits me, let him be clapped on the shoulder, and called Adam.] But why should he therefore be called Adam? Perhaps, by a quotation or two we may be able to trace the poet's allusion here. In Law-Tricks, or, Who would have thought it! (a comedy written by John Day, and printed in 1608) I find this speech. Adam Bell, a substantial outlaw, and a passing good archer, yet no tobacconist.-By this it appears, that Adam Bell at that time of day was of reputation for his skill at the bow. THEOBALD.
Adam Bell was a companion of Robin Hood, as may be seen in Robin Hood's Garland. JOHNSON.
Line 257. In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke.] This line is taken from the Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronymo, &c. 1605.
Line 266. if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice,] All modern writers agree in representing Venice in the same light as the ancients did Cyprus. And 'tis this character of the people that is here alluded to. WARBURTON.
-guarded with fragments,] Guards were laces.
. Line 283. -ere you flout old ends, &c.] Before you endeavour to distinguish yourself any more by antiquated allusions, examine whether you can fairly claim them for your own. This, I think, is the meaning; or it may be understood in another sense, examine, if your sarcasms do not touch yourself. JOHNSON.
Line 316. The fairest grant is the necessity:] i. e. No one can have a better reason for granting a request than the necessity of its being granted. WARBURTON.
. Line 317. tis once, thou lov'st;] i. e. Once for all, thou lov'st.
ACT I. SCENE II.
-a thick-pleached alley] Pleached is inter
ACT I. SCENE III.
Line 353. What the goujere,] Goujere may mean, as it is in the old copy, good year; but the meaning is most likely to be here, the lues venerea. Thus in Lear:
-the goujeres shall devour them," &c.
Line 364. I cannot hide what I am:] This is one of our au thor's natural touches. An envious and unsocial mind, too proud to give pleasure, and too sullen to receive it, always endeavours to hide its malignity from the world and from itself, under the plainness of simple honesty, or the dignity of haughty independence. JOHNSON.
Line 369. -claw no man in his humour.] To claw is to flatter. So the pope's claw-backs, in bishop Jewel, are the pope's flatterers. The sense is the same in the proverb, Mulus mulum scabit. JOHNSON.
Line 377. I had rather be a canker in a hedge, than a rose in his grace;] A canker is the canker-rose, dog-rose, cynosbatus, or hip. The sense is, I would rather live in obscurity the wild life of nature, than owe dignity or estimation to my brother.
Line 409. grave, sedate.
-in sad conference:] Sad here means, as usual,
ACT II. SCENE I.
Line 4. heart-burned an hour after.] The pain commonly. called the heart-burn, proceeds from an acid humour in the stomach, and is therefore properly enough imputed to tart looks. JOHNSON.
Line 42. Well then, &c.] Of the two next speeches Mr. Warburton says, All this impious nonsense thrown to the bottom is the players, and foisted in without rhyme or reason. He therefore puts
them in the margin. They do not deserve, indeed, so honourable a place, yet I am afraid they are too much in the manner of our author, who is sometimes trying to purchase merriment at too dear a rate. JOHNSON. STEEVENS.
I have restored the lines omitted.
if the prince be too important,] Important here, and in many other places, is importunate. JOHNSON.
-there is measure in every thing,] Thus in
Line 71. Richard II.:
"My legs can keep no measure in delight, "When my poor heart no measure keeps in grief.” Line 84.
Line 85. Shakspeare's time. Line 94. -the lute should be like the case!] i. e. That your face should be as homely and as coarse as your mask.
-Balthazar ;] The quarto and folio add-or dumb
Line 95. My visor is Philemon's roof; within the house is Jove.] 'Tis plain, the poet alludes to the story of Baucis and Philemon from Ovid: and this old couple, as the Roman poet describes it, lived in a thatched cottage. Though this old pair lived in a cottage, this cottage received two straggling Gods, (Jupiter and Mercury) under its roof. So, Don Pedro is a prince; and though his visor is but ordinary, he would insinuate to Hero, that he has something godlike within: alluding either to his dignity or the qualities of his person and mind. THEOBALD. —his dry hand] See note on Twelfth Night,
Line 117. Act 1. Sc. 3.
Line 129. Hundred merry Tales ;] The book, to which Shakspeare alludes, was an old translation of Les cent Nouvelles Nouvelles. The original was published at Paris, in the black letter, before the year 1500; and is said to have been written by some of the royal family of France. Ames mentions a translation of it prior to the time of Shakspeare. STEEVENS.
Line 137. —his gift is in devising impossible slanders:] We should read impassible, i. e. slanders so ill-invented, that they will pass upon no body. WARBURTON.
: Impossible slanders are, I suppose, such slanders as, from their absurdity and impossibility, bring their own confutation with them. JOHNSON.,
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.
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.
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 nature of a slight-of-hand trick, done with all the dexterity and apparent 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. WARBURTON. 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.
-use for it,] i. e. Interest paid for it.
294. 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. JOHNSON: 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:
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. JOHNSON.
Line 376. 381.
-a noble strain,] i. e. Descent.
ACT II. SCENE II.
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