Page images

means, the dew that nightly flows down his cheeks. Shakspeare, in one of his other plays, uses night of dew for dewy night.


Line 444. - -he comes in like a perjure,] The punishment of perjury is to wear on the breast a paper expressing the crime.


Line 459. 0, rhymes are guards on wanton Cupid's hose; Disfigure not his slop.] Slops are large and widekneed breeches, the garb in fashion in our author's days, as we may observe from old family pictures; but they are now worn only by boors and sea-faring men. THEOBALD.

Line 477. —the liver vein,] The liver was anciently supposed to be the seat of love. JOHNSON.

Line 493. By earth, she is but corporal; there you lie.] Corporal for corporeal.

Line 495. -amber coted.] To cote, is to outstrip, to overpass. STEEVENS.

Line 526. Air, would I might triumph so!] Perhaps we may better read,

Ah! would I might triumph so!


my true love's fasting pain.] Fasting is longing, JOHNSON.

Line 538. hungry, wanting.

Line 582.


-teen!] i. e. Grief.

To see a king transformed to a gnat!] Gnat, in the old copy. The modern editors read knot, which is a bird of the snipe kind, known in Lincolnshire, remarkable for its stupidity. Line 588. critick Timon-] Critick and critical are used by our author in the same sense as cynic and cynical.


Line 599. With moon-like men, of strange inconstancy,] Perhaps the poet may mean, with men like common men. JOHNSON.

Line 693. And beauty's crest becomes the heavens well.] Crest is here properly opposed to badge. Black, says the King, is the badge of hell, but that which graces the heaven is the crest of· beauty. Black darkens hell, and is therefore hateful: white adorns heaven, and is therefore lovely. JOHNSON.

Line 697. —and usurping hair,] Alluding to the great quantity of false hair then worn.


Line 738. -some quillets,] The word quillet signifies a false charge, or an evasive answer. WARBURTON. Line 741. -affection's men at arms :] A man at arms, is a soldier armed at all points both offensively and defensively.

JOHNSON. Line 764. Teaches such beauty as a woman's eye ?] i. e. A lady's eyes give a fuller notion of beauty than any author. JOHNSON. In leaden contemplation, have found out

Line 772.

Such fiery numbers,] Numbers are, in this passage, nothing more than poetical measures. Could you, says Biron, by solitary contemplation, have attained such poetical fire, such sprightly numbers, as have been prompted by the eyes of beauty? JOHNSON. Line 787. the suspicious head of theft is stopt;] i. e. A lover in pursuit of his mistress has the sense of hearing quicker than a thief (who suspects every sound he hears) in pursuit of his prey. WARBURTON.

Line 789.

-cockled- i. e. Shelled.

794. As bright Apollo's lute, strung with his hair;] This expression is extremely beautiful, and highly figurative. Apollo, as the sun, is represented with golden hair; so that a lute strung with his hair, means no more than strung with gilded wire.


Line 795. And, when love speaks, the voice of all the gods Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.] A very ingenious friend observes, that the meaning of the passage is this: That the voice of all the Gods united, could inspire only drowsiness, when compared with the chearful effects of the voice of love.

STEEVENS. -a word that loves all men ;] We should read, -a word all women love. WARBURTON. The antithesis of a word that all men love, and a word which loves all men, though in itself worth little, has much of the spirit of this play. JOHNSON.

Line 839. sow'd cockle reap'd no corn;] This proverbial expression intimates, that beginning with perjury, they can expect to reap nothing but falshood. WARBURTON.

Line 809.


Line 2. Your reasons at dinner have been, &c.] I know not well what degree of respect Shakspeare intends to obtain for this vicar, but he has here put into his mouth a finished respresentation of colloquial excellence. It is very difficult to add any thing to this character of the school-master's table-talk, and perhaps all the precepts of Castiglione will scarcely be found to comprehend a rule for conversation so justly delineated, so widely dilated, and so nicely limited. It may be proper just to note, that reason here, and in many other places, signifies discourse; and that audacious is used in a good sense for spirited, animated, confident. Opinion is the same with obstinacy or opiniatreté. JOHNSON.

Line 4. 13.

-without affection,] i. e. Without affectation.
thrasonical.] Bragging, boastful.

-14. He is too picked,] To have the beard piqued (picked) or shorn so as to end in a point, was, in our author's time, a mark of a traveller affecting foreign fashions. JOHNSON.

Line 19. point-devise-] From the French. Means, exact to the utmost pitch.

Line 42.

Honorificabilitudinitatibus:] This word, whence

soever it comes, is often mentioned as the longest word known. JOHNSON. Line 43. a flap-dragon:] A flap-dragon is the well known game of raisins put into brandy, and burnt.

-a quick venew of wit:] Venew or veney is a bout

[ocr errors]

Line 59. or turn at fencing. Line 82.

the charge-house--] Probably means, a school supported at the public charge, as a charity or free-school. -inward-] Means, confidential.

Line 96.

103. dally with my excrement,] The author has be fore called the beard valour's excrement, in The Merchant of Venice.

Line 147. if this fadge not,] i. e. Suit not.




Line 168. signified to grow.

-to make his God-head wax;] To war anciently It is yet said of the moon, that she wares and STEEVENS. Line 184. taking it in snuff;] i. e. In dudgeon: but the word here is used equivocally.


Line 213. 'Ware pencils!] Rosaline, a black beauty, reproaches

the fair Catherine for painting.


Line 216. 0, that your face were not so full of O's!

A pox of that jest! &c.] Dr. Farmer has judiciously shewn no indecency to be meant in this language, the small-pox only is here alluded to, by the very line preceding.

Line 217. -in by the week!] This I suppose to be an expression taken from hiring servants or artificers; meaning, I wish I was as sure of his service for any time limited, as if I had hired him. STEEVENS.

Line 245. So portent-like, &c.] i. e. I would be his fate or destiny, and, like a portent, hang over, and influence his fortunes. For portents were not only thought to forebode, but to influence. WARBURTON.

Line 247. None are so, &c.] These are observations worthy of a man who has surveyed human nature with the closest attention. JOHNSON.

Line 269. Saint Dennis, to Saint Cupid!] The Princess of France invokes, with too much levity, the patron of her country, to oppose his power to that of Cupid. JOHNSON. Line 301. -spleen ridiculous-] Is, a ridiculous fit. JOHNS. 305. Like Muscovites, or Russians: as I guess.] The settling commerce in Russia was, at that time, a matter that much ingrossed the concern and conversation of the publick. There had been several embassies employed thither on that occasion; and several tracts of the manners and state of that nation written: so that a mask of Muscovites was as good an entertainment to the audience of that time, as a coronation has been since.

[ocr errors]


Line 347. Beauties, no richer than rich taffata.] i. e. The taffata masks they wore to conceal themselves. THEOBALD.

Line 405. Vouchsafe, bright moon, and these thy stars,] When queen Elizabeth asked an embassador how he liked her ladies, It is hard, said he, to judge of stars in the presence of the sun.

JOHNSON. Line 450. Since you can cog,] To cog signifies to falsify the dice, and to falsify a narrative, or to lie. JOHNSON. Line 520. -better wits have worn plain statute-caps.] This line is not universally understood, because every reader does not know that a statute-cap is part of the academical habit. Lady Rosaline declares that her expectation was disappointed by these courtly students, and that better wits might be found in the common places of education. JOHNSON.

Line 537. Fair ladies, mask'd, are roses in their bud; Dismask'd, their damask sweet commixture shewn,

Are angels vailing clouds, or roses blown.] Ladies unmask'd, says Boyet, are like angels vailing clouds, or letting those clouds which obscured their brightness, sink from before them. JOHNSON.

Line 545. shapeless gear:] Shapeless, for uncouth, or what Shakspeare elewhere calls diffused. WARBURTON. pecks up wit, as pigeons peas;] This expression

Line 559.

is proverbial.

"Children pick up words as pigeons peas, "And utter them again as God shall please." See Ray's collection. Line 562.

-wassels,] A wassel is a drunken bout. 572. A mean most meanly, &c.] The mean, in music, is STEEVENS.

the tenor.

Line 576. -as white as whales bone:] So in Turberville's Poems, printed in the year 1570, is an ode intitled, of Lady P."

"In Praise

"Her mouth so small, her teeth so white,
"As any whale his bone;

"Her lips without so lively red,
"That passe the corall stone."


Line 582.


-Behaviour, what wert thou,

'Till this man show'd thee? and what art thou now?] These are two wonderfully fine lines, intimating that what courts

« PreviousContinue »