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The meaning of which seems to be, you are not deeply skilled in the character of offices of great friends. JOHNSON.
Line 398. A prophet, I, madam; and I speak the truth the next way:] The phrase-speak the truth the next way, means directly; as they do who are only the instruments or canals of others; such as inspired persons were supposed to be. WARBURTON.
Line 410. Was this fair face the cause, &c.] This is a stanza of an old ballad, out of which a word or two are dropt, equally necessary to make the sense and the alternate rhime. For it was not Helen who was king Priam's joy, but Paris. WARBURTON. Fond done,] Is foolishly done.
There's but one bad in ten.] This second stanza of the ballad is turned into a joke upon the women: a confession, that there was one good in ten. Whereon the Countess observed, that he corrupted the song, which shews the song said, Nine good in ten.
If one be bad amongst nine good,
This relates to the ten sons of Priam, who all behaved themselves well but Paris. For, though he once had fifty, yet at this unfortunate period of his reign he had but ten; Agathon, Antiphon, Deiphobus, Dius, Hector, Helenus, Hippothous, Pammon, Paris, and Polites. WARBURTON.
Line 432. Clo. That man, &c.] The clown's answer is obscure. His lady bids him do as he is commanded. He answers with the licentious petulance of his character, that if a man does as a woman commands, it is likely he will do amiss; that he does not amiss, being at the command of a woman, he makes the effect, not of his lady's goodness, but of his own honesty, which, though not very nice or puritanical, will do no hurt; and will not only do no hurt, but, unlike the puritans, will comply with the injunctions of superiors, and wear the surplice of humility over the black gown of a big heart; will obey commands, though not much pleased with a state of subjection.
Here is an allusion, violently enough forced in, to satirize the obstinacy with which the puritans refused the use of the ecclesiastical habits, which was, at that time, one principal cause of the
breach of union, and, perhaps, to insinuate, that the modest purity of the surplice was sometimes a cover for pride. JOHNSON. The aversion of the puritans to a surplice is alluded to in many of the old comedies. So in the following instance:
"She loves to act in as clean linen as any gentlewoman "of her function, about the town; and truly that's the reason "that your sincere puritans cannot abide a surplice, because they
say 'tis made of the same thing that your villainous sin is com"mitted in, of your prophane holland.”
Cupid's Whirligig by E. S. 1616.
Line 475. By our remembrances-] That is, according to our recollection. So we say, he is old by my reckoning. JOHNSON.
A native slip to us from foreign seeds:] i. e. Our choice furnishes us with a slip from foreign seeds, which we nourish and rear, as if it were a native.
But, I your daughter, he must be my brother?] The meaning is obscured by the elliptical diction. Can it be no other way, but if I be your daughter he must be my brother? JOHNSON. Line 519.
-Now I see
The mystery of your loneliness, and find
Your salt tears' head:] i. e. "I now find the "mystery of your creeping into corners, and weeping, and pining "in secret." The Steward, in the foregoing scene, where he gives the Countess intelligence of Helena's behaviour, says
Alone she was, and did communicate to herself her own words to her own ears. THEOBALD.
Your salt tears' head.] The force, the fountain of
your tears, the cause of your grief.
Line 555. -captious and intenible sieve.] The word captious I never found in this sense; yet I cannot tell what to substitute, unless carious for rotten, which yet is a word more likely to have been mistaken by the copyers than used by the author.
And lack not to lose still:] Perhaps we should read
Mr. Malone is of a different opinion, and thinks the present reading just. Line 581. notes, whose faculties inclusive-] Receipts in which greater virtues were inclosed than appeared to observation. JOHNSON.
Line 598. Embowell'd of their doctrine,] i. e. Exhausted of their skill.
(Those 'bated, that inherit but the fall
Of the last monarchy,) see, &c.] This passage is confessedly obscure, and therefore I may offer some explanation. I am of opinion that the epithet higher is to be understood of situation rather than of dignity. The sense may be this, Let upper Italy, where you are to exercise your valour, see that you come to gain honour, to the abatement, that is, to the disgrace and depression of those that have now lost their ancient military fame, and inherit but the fall of the last monarchy. To abate is used by Shakspeare in the original sense of abatre, to depress, to sink, to deject, to subdue. So in Coriolanus,
-'till ignorance deliver you,
"As most abated captives to some nation
"That won you without blows."
And bated is used in a kindred sense in the Jew of Venice: "—in a bondman's key
"With bated breath and whisp'ring humbleness."
The word has still the same meaning in the language of the law.
-beware of being captives,
Before you serve.] The word serve is equivocal; the sense is, Be not captives before you serve in the war. Be not captives before you are soldiers. Line 46. I grow to you, and our parting is a tortur'd body.] I read thus: Our parting is the parting of a tortured body. Our parting is as the disruption of limbs torn from each other. Repetition of a word is often the cause of mistakes, the eye glances
on the wrong word, and the intermediate part of the sentence is omitted. JOHNSON,
Line 53. —with his cicatrice,] Parolles only means, “You "shall find one captain Spurio in the camp, with a scar on his " left cheek, a mark of war that my sword gave him." THEOB.
Line 64. they wear themselves in the cap of the time, there, do muster true gait, &c.] Perhaps it might be read thus: They do muster with the true gaite, that is, they have the true military step. Every man has observed something peculiar in the strut of a soldier. JOHNSON.
Line 67. 82.
lead the measure,] i. e. Lead the dance.
is used when any pass of wit miscarries.
My noble grapes, &c.] You will eat, says Lafeu, no grapes. Yes, but you will eat such noble grapes as I bring you, if you could reach them.
JOHNSON. Line 91. and make you dance canary,] Mr. Rich. Broom, in his comedy, intitled, The City Wit, or the Woman wears the Breeches, Act 4, Sc. 1. mentions this among other dances. "As "for corantoes, levoltos, jigs, measures, pavins, brawls, galliards "or canaries; I speak it not swellingly, but I subscribe to no man." Dr. GREY.
Line 102. her years, profession,] By profession is meant her declaration of the end and purpose of her coming. WARB. Line 119. Cressid's uncle,] I am like Pandarus. See Troilus and Cressida. JOHNSON.
Of my dear father's gift stands chief in power,] Per
haps we may better read,
wherein the power
Of my dear father's gift stands chief in honour. JOHNS. Line 164. So holy writ in babes hath judgment shown,
When judges have been babes.] This alludes to St. Matthew's Gospel, c. xi. v. 25.
Line 168. When miracles have by the greatest been denied.] I do not see the import or connection of this line. As the next line
stands without a correspondent rhyme, I suspect that something has been lost. JOHNSON.
Line 184. Myself against the level of mine aim;] She means to say, I am not an impostor that proclaim one thing and design another, that proclaim a cure and aim at a fraud: I think what I speak. JOHNSON.
Traduc'd by odious ballads; my maiden's name
With vilest torture let my life be ended.] "I would "bear (says she) the tax of impudence, which is the denotement "of a strumpet; would endure a shame resulting from my failure " in what I have undertaken, and thence become the subject of "odious ballads; let my maiden reputation be otherwise branded; "and, no worse of worse extended, i. e. provided nothing worse is "offered to me (meaning violation) let my life be ended with "the worst of tortures." The poet for the sake of rhyme has obscured the sense of the passage. The worst that can befal a woman being extended to me, seems to be the meaning of the last line. STEEVENS.
Line 205. Methinks, in thee some blessed spirit doth speak; His powerful sound, within an organ weak:] The verb, doth speak, in the first line, should be understood to be repeated in the construction of the second, thus:
His powerful sound speaks within a weak organ. HEATH. Line 211. in thee hath estimate;] May be counted among
the gifts enjoyed by them. Line 213. -prime-] Youth; the spring or morning of life.
Line 218. in property-] Mr. Malone thinks the meaning of this word to be, the due performing of, though it is used in a very lax way.
Line 224. Ay, by my sceptre, and my hopes of heaven.] In the old reading—my hopes of help.
The king could have but a very slight hope of help from her, ́ scarce enough to swear by ; and therefore Helen might suspect he meant to equivocate with her. Besides, observe, the greatest part of the scene is strictly in rhyme and there is no shadow of