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Phi. His father and I were soldiers together; to whom I have been often bound for no less than my life :
Enter PostHUMUS. Here- comes the Briton: Let him be so entertained amongst you, as suits, with gentlemen of your knowing, to a stranger of his quality.-I beseech you all, be better known to this gentleman; whom I commend to you, as a noble friend of mine: How worthy he is, I will leave to appear hereafter, rather than story him in his own hearing.
French. Sir, we have known together in Orleans.
Post. Since when I have been debtor to you for courtesies, which I will be ever to pay, and yet pay still.9
French. Sir, you o’er-rate my poor kindness: I was glad I did atone my countryman and you;' it had been pity, you should have been put together with so mortal a purpose, as then each bore, upon importance of so slight and trivial a nature.2
I ne'er heard yet
“ Than to perform it first.” Again, in King Lear:
I have hope
“ Than she to scant her duty.” See note on Antony and Cleopatra, Act IV, sc. xii. Mr. Rowe and all the subsequent editors read—without more quality, and so undoubtedly Shakspeare ought to have written. On the stage, an actor may rectify such petty errors; but it is the duty of an editor to exhibit what his author wrote. Malone.
As on this occasion, and several others, we can only tell what Hemings and Condel printed, instead of knowing, with any de. gree of certainty, what Shakspeare wrote, I have not disturbed Mr. Rowe's emendation, which leaves a clear passage to the reader, if he happens to prefer an obvious sense to no sense at all.
Steevens. · which I will be ever to pay, a:rd yet pay still.] So, in All's Well that Ends Well:
... Which I will ever pay, and pay again,
" When I have found it." Again, in our author's 30th Sonnet:
“ Which I new pay, as if not pay'd before.” Malone.
I did atone &c.] To atone signifies in this place to reconcile. So, Ben Jonson, in The Silent Woman:
“ There had been some hope to atone you." Again, in Heywood's English Traveller, 1633:
" The constable is call'd to atone the broil.” Steevens
Post. By your pardon, sir, I was then a young traveller; rather shunn'd to go even with what I heard, than in my every action to be guided by others' experiences:3 but, upon my mended judgment, (if I offend not to say it is mended) my quarrel was not altogether slight.
French. ’Faith, yes, to be put to the arbitrement of words; and by such two, that would, by all likelihood, iave confounded one the other, 4 or have fallen both.
Iach. Can we, with manners, ask what was the diffe'ence?
French. Safely, I think: 'twas a contention in publick, «vhich may, without contradiction,5 suffer the report. It was much like an argument that fell out last night, where each of us fell in praise of our country mistresses: This gentleman at that time vouching, (and upon warrant of bloody affirmation,) his to be more fair, virtuous, wise, chaste, constant-qualified, and less attemptible, than any the rarest of our ladies in France.
Iach. That lady is not now living; or this gentleman's pinion, by this, worn out.
Post. She holds her virtue still, and I my mind.
- upon importance of so slight and trivial a nature.) Impor. ance is here, as elsewhere in Shakspeare, importunity, instiga. ion. Malone.
So, in Twelfth Night: “Maria wrote the letter at Sir Toby's great importance." Again, in King John:
“ At our importance hither is he come." Steevens.
rather shunned to go even with what I heard, &c.] This is -xpressed with a kind of fantastical perplexity. He means, I was hen willing to take for my direction the experience of others more chan such intelligence as I had gathered myself. Johnson.
This passage cannot bear the meaning that Johnson contends for. Posthumus is describing a presumptuous young man, as he acknowledges himself to have been at that time; and means to say, that he rather studied to avoid conducting himself by the opinions of other people, than to he guided by their experience. --To take for direction the experience of others, would be a proof of wisdom, not of presumption. M. Mason.
confounded one the other,] To confound, in our author's time, signified-to destroy. See Vol. IX, p. 270, n. 8. Malone.
5 which may, without contradiction,] Which, undoubtedly, may be publickly told. Johnson.
would abate her nothing; though I profess myself her adorer, not her friend..
- though I profess &c.] Though I have not the common obligations of a lover to his mistress, and regard her not with the fondness of a friend, but the reverence of an adorer. ; 'Johnson.
The sense seems to require a transposition of these words, and that we should read:
Though I profess myself her friend, not her adorer. meaning thereby the praises he bestowed on her arose from his knowledge of her virtues, not from a superstitious reverence only. If Posthumus wished to be believed, as he surely did, the de. claring that his praises proceeded from adoration, would lessen the credit of them, and counteract his purpose. 'In confirmation of this conjecture, we find that in the next page he acknowIedges her to be his wife.-Iachimo afterwards says in the same
“ You are a friend, and therein the wiser." Which would also serve to confirm my amendment, if it were the right reading; but I do not think it is. M. Mason.
I am not certain that the foregoing passages have been completely understood by either commentator, for want of acquaintance with the peculiar sense in which the word friend may have been employed.
A friend, in ancient colloquial language, is occasionally synonymous to a par amour or inamorato of either sex, in both the favour. able and unfavourable sense of that word. “Save you frien: Cassio !” says Bianca in Othello; and Lucio, in Measure for Measure, informs Isabella that her brother Claudio“ hath got his friend [Julietta) with child.” Friend, in short, is one of those fond adoptious christendorns that blinking Gupid gossips," many of which are catalogued by Helen in All's Well that Ends Well, and friend is one of the number:
“ A mother, and a mistress, and a friend,
“ A phạnis, captain, and an enemy." This word, though with some degradation, is still current among the harlotry of London, who, (like Macheath's doxies) as often as they have occasion to talk about their absent keepers, invariably call them their
friends. In this sense the word is also used by Iago, in Othello, Act IV, sc. i:
“ Or to be naked with her friend abed." Posthumus means to bestow the most exalted praise on Imogen, a praise the more valuable as it was the result of reason, not of amorous dotage. I make my avowal, says he, in the character of Ker adorer, not of ler possessor.--I speak of her as a being I reverence, not as a beauty whom I enjoy.-I rather profess to describe her with the devotion of a worshipper, than the raptures of a lover. This sense of the word also appears to be confirmed: by a subsequent remark of Iachimo: “You are a friend, and therein the wiser.”
lách. As fair, and as good, (a kind of hand-in-hand comparison) had been something too fair, and too good, for any lady in Britany. If she went before others I have seen, as that diamond of yours out-lustres many I have beheld, I could not but believe she excelled many: but I have not seen the most precious diamond that is, nor you the lady."
Post. I praised her, as I rated her; so do I my stone. lach. What do you esteem it at? Post. More than the world enjoys.
Iach. Either your unparagoned mistress is dead, or she's outprized by a trifle.
Post. You are mistaken: the one may be sold, or given; if there were wealth enough for the purchase, or merit for the gift: the other is not a thing for sale, and only the gift of the gods.
lach. Which the gods have given you? Post. Which, by their graces, I will keep.
Iach. You may wear her in title yours: but, you know, strange fowl light upon neighbouring ponds. Your ring may be stolen too: so, of your brace of unprizeable estimations, the one is but frail, and the other casual; a cunning thief, or that-way-accomplished courtier, would hazard the winning both of first and last.
e. you are a lorer, and therefore show your wisdom in opposing all experiments that may bring your lady's chastity into question.
Steevens. 7 If she went before others I have seen, as that diamond of yours out-lustres many I have beheld, I could not but believe she excelled many; but I have not seen the most precious diamond that is, nor you the lady ] The old copy reads-I could not believe she excell'd many; but it is on all hands allowed that the reasoning of lachimo, as it stands there, is inconclusive.
On this account, Dr. Warburton reads, omitting the word not, “ I could believe she excelled many."
Mr. Heath proposes to read, “I could but believe" &c.
Mr. Malone, whom I have followed, exhibits the passage as it appears in the present text.
The reader who wishes to know more on this subject, may consult a note in Mr. Malone's edit. Vol. VIII, p. 327, 328, and 329.
Steevens. - if there were – ] Old copy-or if-for the purchases, &c. the compositor having inadvertently repeated the word-or, which has just occurred. The correction was made by Mr. Rowe.
Post. Your Italy contains none so accomplished a courtier, to convince the honour of my mistress; if, in the holdinig or loss of that, you term her frail. I do nothing doubt, you have store of thieves; notwithstanding, I fear not my ring. Phi. Let us leave here, gentlemen.
Post. Sir, with all my heart. This worthy signior, I thank him, makes no stranger of me; we are familiar at first.
Iach. With five times so much conversation, I should get ground of your fair mistress: make her go back, even to the yielding; had I admittance, and opportunity to friend.
Post. No, no.
Iach. I dare, thereupon, pawn the moiety of my estate to your ring; which, in my opinion, o'ervalues it something: But I make my wager rather against your confidence, than her reputation : and, to bar your offence herein too, I durst attempt it against any lady in the world.
Post. You are a great deal abusedi in too bold a persuasion; and I doubt not you sustain what you 're worthy of, by your attempt.
Iach. What's that?
Post. A repulse: Though your attempt, as you call it, deserve more; a punishment too.
Phi. Gentlemen, enough of this : it came too suddenly; let it die as it was born, and, I pray you, be better acquainted.
lach. 'Would I had put my estate, and my neighbour's, on the approbation of what I have spoke.
9-to convince the honour of my mistress ;] Convince for over.
their malady convinces
abused -] Deceived. Fohnson.
Steevens. approbation --] Proof. Johnson. So, in King Henry V:
how many, now in health, “Shall drop their blood in approbation “Of what your reverence shall incite us to.” Steedens.