« AnteriorContinuar »
ing can belong but to one, and that happy one ought not to despise his inferior.
Line 603. -to a non com:] That is, to a non compos mentis.
ACT IV. SCENE I.
Line 12. If either of you know any inward impediment, &c.] This is evidently borrowed from the form of marriage ceremony. Line 21. -some be of laughing,] This is a quotation from the Accidence. JOHNSON. -luxurious bed:] That is, lascivious. Luxury is the confessor's term for unlawful pleasures of the sex.
Line 57. word too large ;] So he uses large jests in this play, for licentious, not restrained within due bounds. JOHNSON. Line 61. -I will write against it:] To subscribe to any thing is to allow it, so to write against is to disallow or deny.
JOHNSON. Line 64. --chaste as is the bud--] Before the air has tasted its sweetness. JOHNSON. Line 86.
--kindly power -] That is, natural power. Kind JOHNSON. Line 106. --liberal villain,] Liberal here, as in many places of these plays, means, frank beyond honesty or decency. Free of tongue. JOHNSON.
Line 114. is intended a poor
what a Hero had'st thou been.] I am afraid here conceit upon the word Hero. JOHNSON. Line 144. The story that is printed in her blood?] That is, the
story which her blushes discover to be true.
-smirched- -] i. e. Soiled, sullied.
bent of honour;] Rent is used by our author for the utmost degree of any passion, or mental quality. Benedick already says in this play, her affection has its full bent. The expression is derived from archery; the bow has its bent, when it is drawn as far as it can be. JOHNSON.
-ostentation;] Show, appearance. JOHNSON. 252. -we rack the value;] i. e. We exaggerate the value. The allusion is to rack-rents. STEEVENS,
Line 277. timate with as in Measure for Measure: "I was an inward of his."
-] Inward means, to be in
Line 283. The smallest twine may lead me.] This is one of our author's observations upon life. Men overpowered with distress, eagerly listen to the first offers of relief, close with every scheme, and believe every promise. He that has no longer any confidence in himself, is glad to repose his trust in any other that will undertake to guide him. JOHNSON.
Line 290. Lady Beatrice, &c.] The poet, in my opinion, has shewn a great deal of address in this scene, Beatrice here engages her lover to revenge the injury done her cousin Hero: and without this very natural incident, considering the character of Beatrice, and that the story of her passion for Benedick was all a fable, she could never have been easily or naturally brought to confess she loved him, notwithstanding all the foregoing preparation. And yet, on this confession, in this very place, depended the whole success of the plot upon her and Benedick. For had she not owned her love here, they must have soon found out the trick, and then the design of bringing them together had been defeated; and she would never have owned a passion she had been only tricked into, had not her desire of revenging her cousin's wrong made her drop her capricious humour at once. WARBURTON. Line 328. I am gone, though I am here:] i. e. I am out of your mind already, though I remain in person before you.
Line 341. I would eat his heart in the market-place.] A savage sentiment for a woman; but the same expression is frequent in The Iliad of Homer.
-a goodly count-confect;] A sugar-candy sort
ACT IV. SCENE II.
we have the exhibition to examine.] Meaning,
Line 377. we have the examination to take.
Line 390. Con. Bor. Yea, Sir, we hope.
Dogb. Write down-that they hope they serve God: -and write God first; for God defend-but God should go before
such villains!] This short passage, which is truly humourous and in character, I have added from the old quarto. Besides, it supplies a defect: for, without it, the Town-Clerk asks a question of the prisoners, and goes on without staying for any answer to it. THEOBALD.
ACT V. SCENE I.
Line 16. If such a one will smile, and stroke his beard; Cry,-sorrow, wag! and hem, when he should groan;] Dr. Johnson does not approve of either of the conjectures made by the different commentators. He says, I point thus: and stroke his beard,
If such an one will smile,
And, sorrow wag! cry; hem, when he shall groan;
That is, If he will smile, and cry sorrow be gone, and hem instead of groaning. The order in which and and cry are placed is harsh, and this harshness made the sense mistaken. Range the words in the common order, and my reading will be free from all difficulty. JOHNSON. candle wasters;] Probably means, those who have recourse to revelry and midnight orgies.
Line 33, than advertisement.] That is, than admonition, than moral instruction, JOHNSON.
Line 38. However they have writ the style of Gods,] This alludes to the extravagant titles the Stoics gave their wise men. Sapiens ille cum Diis ex pare vivit. Senec. Ep. 39. Jupiter quo antecedit virum bonum? diutius bonus est. Sapiens nihilo se minoris estimat.-Deus non vincit sapientem felicitate. Ep. 73.
Line 39. And make a pish at chance and sufferance.] Alludes to their famous apathy. WARBURTON.
Line 89. Despite his nice fence,] i. e. His skill in fencing. -92. Can'st thou so daff me?] To duffe and doffe are synonimous terms, that mean, to put off: which is the very sense required here, and what Leonato would reply upon Claudio's saying, he would have nothing to do with him. THEOBALD.
Line 95. Ant. He shall kill two of us, &c.] This brother Anthony is the truest picture imaginable of human nature. He had assumed the character of a sage to comfort his brother, o'er
whelmed with grief for his only daughter's affront and dishonour and had severely reproved him for not commanding his passion better on so trying an occasion. Yet, immediately after this, no sooner does he begin to suspect that his age and valour are slighted, but he falls into the most intemperate fit of rage himself: and all he can do or say is not of power to pacify him. This is copying nature with a penetration and exactness of judgment peculiar to Shakspeare. As to the expression, too, of his passion, nothing can be more highly painted. WARBURTON.
Line 112. Scambling,] Means, scrambling.
-we will not wake your patience.] The old men have been both very angry and outrageous; the prince tells them that he and Claudio will not wake their patience; will not any longer force them to endure the presence of those whom, though they look on them as enemies, they cannot resist. JOHNSON.
Line 151. the minstrels;] The minstrels were, in the time of Elizabeth, itinerants who amused the people with sworddancing.
Line 160. Nay, then give him another staff, &c.] Allusion to tilting. See note, As you like it, Act 3. Sc. 10. WARBURTON.
Line 164. to turn his girdle.] We have a proverbial speech, If he be angry, let him turn the buckle of his girdle. But I do not know its original or meaning. JOHNSON.
A corresponding expression is used to this day in Ireland.-If he be angry, let him tie up his brogues. Neither proverb, I believe, has any other meaning than this: If he is in a bad humour, let · him employ himself till he is in a better. STEEVENS.
bid] Means invited.
187. -a wise gentleman:] This jest depending on the colloquial use of words is now obscure; perhaps we should read, a wise gentle man, or a man wise enough to be a coward. Perhaps wise gentleman was in that age used ironically, and always stood for silly fellow. JOHNSON.
Line 222. What a pretty thing man is, when he goes in his doublet and hose, and leaves off his wit!] It was esteemed a mark of levity and want of becoming gravity, at that time, to go in the doublet and hose, and leave off the cloak, to which this well-turned expression alludes. The thought is, that love makes a man as ridi
culous, and exposes him as naked as being in the doublet and hose without a cloak. WARBURTON.
Line 231. —ne'er weigh more reasons in her balance:] A pun upon the word raisins.
Line 249. one meaning well suited.] That is, one meaning is put into many different dresses; the prince having asked the same question in four modes of speech. JOHNSON.
Line 316. Possess the people, &c.] i. e. Inform, or make the people acquainted with it.
Line 325. And she alone is heir to both of us;] Shakspeare seems to have forgot what he had made Leonato say, in the fifth scene of the first act, to Antonio: How now, brother; where is my cousin your son? hath he provided the musick? ANONYMOUS.
packed in all this wrong,] i. e. A confederate
in the mischief.
Line 347. —and borrows money in God's name ;] The invocation of the common beggar.
Line 383. To have no man come over me? why, shall I always keep below stairs?] I suppose every reader will find the meaning. JOHNSON. Line 391. I give thee the bucklers.] I suppose, that to give the bucklers is, to yield, or to lay by all thoughts of defence, so clipeum abjicere. The rest deserves no comment. JOHNSON. —in festival terms.] Thus in Henry IV. Part 1. "With many holiday and lady terms."
453. —in the time of good neighbours:] i. e. When men were not envious, but every one gave another his due. The reply is extremely humourous. WARBURTON.
ACT V. SCENE III.
Line 482. Done to death- -] An obsolete phrase common to our author, and the ancient writers, implying dead.
in guerdon- -] Guerdon means, reward, re
Line 492. Those that slew thy virgin knight;] Knight, in its original signification, means follower or pupil, and in this sense