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Line 168. signified to grow.
ACT V. SCENE II.
-to make his God-head wax;] To war anciently It is yet said of the moon, that she waxes and STEEVENS.
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.
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.
Line 347. Beauties, no richer than rich taffata.] i. e. The taffata masks they wore to conceal themselves,
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.
Line 450. Since you can cog,] To cog signifies to falsify the dice, and to fulsify 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.
shapeless gear;] Shapeless, for uncouth, or WARBURTON.
what Shakspeare elewhere calls diffused.
pecks up wit, as pigeons peas;] This expression
"Children pick up words as pigeons peas,
See Ray's collection.
—wassels,] A wassel is a drunken bout.
572. A mean most meanly, &c.] The mean, in music, is
Line 576. as white as whales bone:] So in Turberville's Poems, printed in the year 1570, is an ode intitled, "In Praise
of Lady P."
-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
call manners, and value themselves so much upon teaching, as a thing no where else to be learnt, is a modest silent accomplishment under the direction of nature and common sense, which does its office in promoting social life without being taken notice of. But that when it degenerates into shew and parade, it becomes an unmanly contemptible quality. WARBURTON.
What is told in this note is undoubtedly true, but is not comprised in the quotation. Line 596. The virtue of your eye must break my oath.] I believe the author means that the virtue, in which word goodness and power are both comprised, must dissolve the obligation of the oath. The Princess, in her answer, takes the most invidious part of the ambiguity. JOHNSON.
Line 625. —when we greet, &c.] This is a very lofty and elegant compliment. JOHNSON. -my friend,] i. e. Courtezan. See note in Mea
Line 662. sure for Measure.
Line 679. Write, Lord have mercy on us,] This was the inscription put upon the door of the houses infected with the plague, to which Biron compares the love of himself and his companions; and pursuing the metaphor finds the tokens likewise on the ladies. The tokens of the plague are the first spots or discolorations, by which the infection is known to be received. JOHNSON.
That you stand forfeit, being those that sue.] That is, how can those be liable to forfeiture that begin the process. The jest lies in the ambiguity of sue, which signifies to prosecute by law, or to offer a petition. JOHNSON.
Line 709. -you force not to forswear.] You force not is the same with you make no difficulty. This is a very just observation. The crime which has been once committed, is committed again with less reluctance. JOHNSON.
That smiles his cheek in years;] In years, signifies, into wrinkles. So in The Merchant of Venice:
"With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
-Go, you are allow'd;] i. e. You may say what
you will; you are a licensed fool, a common jester. So in Twelfth Night,- "There is no slander in an allow'd fool." WARB.
Line 767. You cannot beg us,] That is, we are not fools, our next relations cannot beg the wardship of our persons and fortunes. One of the legal tests of a natural is to try whether he can number. JOHNSON.
Line 799. That sport best pleases, that doth least know how: Where zeal strives to content, and the contents
Die in the zeal of them which it presents,
Their form, &c.] This sentiment of the Princess is very natural, but less generous than that of the Amazonian Queen, who says, on a like occasion, in Midsummer-Night's Dream, "I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharg'd, "Nor duty in his service perishing."
Line 831. Abate a throw at novum;] That is, setting the chance of the dice (novum) aside, the world could not produce such another five.
Line 840. With libbard's head on knee.] This alludes to the old heroic habits, which on the knees and shoulders had usually, by way of ornament, the resemblance of a leopard's or lion's head. WARBURTON. Line 873. lion, that holds his poll-ax, sitting on a closestool,] Alluding to the arms given to the nine worthies in the old history. Line 881. A-jax ;] There is a conceit of Ajax and a jakes.
922. on a flask.] i. e. A soldier's powder-horn.
962. Stuck with cloves.] An orange stuck with cloves appears to have been a common new-year's gift. So Ben Jonson, in his Christmas Masque,-" he has an orange and rosemary but not "a clove to stick in it." A gilt nutmeg is mentioned in the same piece, and on the same occasion. STEEVENS.
Line 1003. more Ates ;] That is, more instigation. Ate was the mischievous goddess that incited bloodshed. JOHNSON. Line 1011. --my arms-— -] The weapons and armour which he wore in the character of Pompey.
Line 1041. I have seen the day of wrong through the little hole
of discretion.] I believe it means, I have hitherto looked on the indignities I have received with the eyes of discretion, (i. e. not been too forward to resent them) and will insist on such satisfaction as will not disgrace my character, which is that of a soldier. STEEV. Line 1051. liberal- -] Free to excess. STEEVENS.
1053. In the converse of breath,] Perhaps converse may,
in this line, mean interchange.
Line 1060. And often, at his very loose, decides, &c.] At his very loose may mean, at the moment of his parting, i. e. of his getting loose, or away from us. STEEVENS.
Line 1064. - -which fain it would convince;] We must read,
—which fain would it convince;
that is, the entreaties of love which would fain over-power grief. So Lady Macbeth declares, That she will convince the chamberlain with wine. JOHNSON.
Line 1072. Honest plain words, &c.] As it seems not very proper for Biron to court the princess for the king in the king's presence, at this critical moment, I believe the speech is given to a wrong person. I read thus:
Prin. I understand you not, my griefs are double:
Honest plain words best pierce the ear of grief.
King. And by these badges, &c.
Line 1090. Suggested us-] That is, tempted us. JOHNSON. 1101. As bombast, and as lining to the time:] This line is obscure. Bombast was a kind of loose texture not unlike what is now called wadding, used to give the dresses of that time bulk and protuberance, without much increase of weight; whence the same name is given to a tumour of words unsupported by solid sentiment. The Princess, therefore, says, that they considered this courtship as but bombast, as something to fill out life, which not being closely united with it, might be thrown away at pleasure. JOHNSON.
Line 1108. We did not quote them so.] In the old copies cout. We should read, quote, esteem, reckon, though our old writers spelling by the ear, probably wrote cote, as it was pronounced.
dear groans,] Dear should here, as in many JOHNSON.
Line 1196. other places, be dere, sad, odious.