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Line 426.weal balanced- -] i. e. Well balanced.
439. When it is least expected.] A better reason might have been given. It was necessary to keep Isabella in ignorance, that she might with more keenness accuse the deputy.
Line 468. sire.
-your bosom- -] Your wish; your heart's de
JOHNSON. Line 479. I am combined by a sacred vow.] I once thought this should be confined, but Shakspeare uses combine for to bind by a pact or agreement, so he calls Angelo the combinate husband of Mariana. JOHNSON.
Line 480. Wend you- -] i. e. Go
493. -If the old, &c.] Sir Thomas Hanmer reads, the odd fantastical Duke, but old is a common word of aggravation in ludicrous language, as, there was old revelling. JOHNSON. Line 499. -woodman- -] That is, huntsman, here taken for a hunter of girls.
So also in The Merry Wives of Windsor :
Fal. "Am I a woodman? Ha!"
ACT IV. SCENE IV.
-sort and suit,] Figure and rank.
545. -Yet reason dares her?-no:] And this is right. The meaning is, the circumstances of our case are such, that she will never venture to contradict me: dares her to reply No to me, whatever I say. WARBURTON. Line 547.
my authority bears a credent bulk,
That no particular scandal, &c.] Credent is creditable, inforcing credit, not questionable. The old English writers often confound the active and passive adjectives. So Shakspeare, and Milton after him, use inexpressive from inexpressible.
Particular is private, a French sense. No scandal from any private mouth can reach a man in my authority.
Line 557. -we would, and we would not.] Here undoubtedly the act should end, and was ended by the poet; for here is properly a cessation of action, and a night intervenes, and the place is changed, between the passages of this scene, and those
of the next. The next act, beginning with the following scene, proceeds without any interruption of time or change of place.
ACT IV. SCENE V.
Line 558. These letters-] Peter never delivers the letters, but tells his story without any credentials. The poet forgot the plot which he had formed. JOHNSON.
-you do blench- -] To blench, is to fly off;
to shrink from.
ACT IV. SCENE VI.
Line 576. He says, to veil full purpose.] To veil full purpose, may, with very little force on the words, mean to hide the whole extent of our design. JOHNSON.
Line 584. Enter Friar Peter.] This play has two Friars, either of whom might singly have served. I should therefore imagine, that Friar Thomas, in the first act, might be changed, without any harm, to Friar Peter; for why should the Duke unnecessarily trust two in an affair which required only one. The name of Friar Thomas is never mentioned in the dialogue, and therefore seems arbitrarily placed at the head of the scene. JOHNSON.
ACT V. SCENE I.
Line 24. -vail your regard] That is, withdraw your thoughts from higher things, let your notice descend upon a wronged woman. To vail, is to lower. JOHNSON.
Line 54. truth is truth
To the end of the reckoning.] That is, truth has no gradations; nothing which admits of encrease can be so much what it is, as truth is truth. There may be a strange thing, and a thing more strange, but if a proposition be true, there can be none more JOHNSON.
Line 65. -as shy, as grave, as just, as absolute,] As shy; as reserved, as abstracted: as just; as nice, as exact: as absolute; -as complete in all the round of duty.
Line 67. In all his dressings, &c.] In all his semblance of virtue, in all his habiliments of office.
Line 67. —characts,] i. e. Characters. See Dugdale, Orig. Jurid, p. 81.-" That he use ne hide, no charme, 'ne carecte." TYRWHITT.
-do not banish reason
For inequality:] Let not the high quality of my adversary prejudice you against me. JOHNSON.
Line 116. How he refell'd me,] To refel is to refute. Refellere et coarguere mendacium... Cicero pro Ligario. Ben Jonson uses the word:
"Friends, not to refel you,
Line 120. To his concupiscible, &c.] Such is the old reading. The modern editors unauthoritatively substitute concupiscent.
STEEVENS. Line 127. Oh, that it were as like, as it is true!] Like is not here used for probable, but for seemly. She catches at the Duke's word, and turns it to another sense; of which there are a great many examples in Shakspeare, and the writers of that time.
I do not see why like may not stand here for probable, or why .the lady should not wish, that since her tale is true, it may obtain belief. If Dr. Warburton's explication be right, we should read, O! that it were as likely, as 'tis true! Like I have never found for seemly. Line 128.
fond wretch,] i. e. Foolish wretch.
131. In hateful practice.] Practice was used by the old writers for any unlawful or insidious stratagem. Line 143. In countenance!] i. e. In partial favour.
175. -nor a temporary medler,] It is hard to know what is meant by a temporary medler. In its usual sense, as opposed to perpetual, it cannot be used here. It may stand for temporal: the sense will then be, I know him for a holy man, one that meddles not with secular affairs. It may mean temporising: I know him to be a holy man, one who would not temporise, or take the opportunity of your absence to defame you. Or we may read,
Not scurvy, nor a tamperer and medler :
not one who would have tampered with this woman to make her a false evidence against your deputy.
Line 189. Whensoever he's convented.] Or, convened. 191. So vulgarly Meaning either so grosly, with such indecency of invective, or by so mean and inadequate wit JOHNSON.
It is more probable that vulgarly here signifies, publicly or notoriously.
Come, cousin Angelo;
In this I'll be impartial; be you judge.
Of your own cause.] Surely this Duke had odd notions of impartiality; to commit the decision of a cause to the person accused. THEOBALD.
Line 210. neither maid, widow, nor wife.] See RAY's proverbs, where this expression may be found.
Line 240. This is a strange abuse :] Abuse stands in this place for deception, or puzzle. So in Macbeth,
This strange and self abuse, means, this strange deception of himself. her promised proportions
Came short of composition;] Her fortune, which was promised proportionate to mine, fell short of the composition, that is, contract or bargain. JOHNSON.
Line 277. These poor informal women-] Informal signifies out of their senses. In The Comedy of Errors, we meet with these lines:
66 -I will not let him stir,
“Till I have us'd the approved means I have,
"With wholesome syrups, drugs, and holy prayers,
Formal, in this passage, evidently signifies in his senses. The lines are spoken of Antipholis of Syracuse, who is behaving like a madman. STEEVENS.
Line 289. That's seal'd in approbation?] When any thing subject to counterfeits is tried by the proper officers and approved, a stamp or seal is put upon it, as among us on plate, weights, and measures. So the Duke says, that Angelo's faith has been tried, VOL. X.
approved, and seal'd in testimony of that approbation,' and, like other things so sealed, is no more to be called in question.
Line 301. -to hear this matter forth,] To hear it to the end; to search it to the bottom. JOHNSON. Line 350. -to retort your manifest appeal,] To refer back to Angelo the cause in which you appealed from Angelo to the Duke. JOHNSON.
Line 367. Nor here provincial :] Nor here accountable. The meaning seems to be, I am not one of his natural subjects, nor of any dépendent province. JOHNSON.
Line 372. Stand like the forfeits in a barber's shop.] Barbers' shops were, at all times, the resort of idle people.
Tonstrina erat quædam: hic solebamus ferè
Which Donatus calls apta sedes otiosis. Formerly with us, the better sort of people went to the barber's shop to be trimmed; who then practised the under parts of surgery: so that he had occasion for numerous instruments, which lay there ready for use; and the idle people, with whom his shop was generally crowded, would be perpetually handling and misusing them. To remedy which, I suppose, there was placed up against the wall a table of forfeitures, adapted to every offence of this kind; which, it is not likely, would long preserve its authority. WARBURTON.
Line 388. and a coward.) So again afterwards,
But Lucio had not, in the former conversation, mentioned cowardice among the faults of the Duke.-Such failures of memory are incident to writers more diligent than this poet.
Line 409. Show your sheep-biting face, and be hang'd an hour! wilt not off?] This is intended to be the common language of vulgar indignation. Our phrase on such occasions is simply; show your sheep-biting face, and be hanged. The words an hour have no particular use here, nor are authorised by custom. I suppose it was written thus, show your sheep-biting face, and be hanged-an'