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15. That it alone is high fantastical.] High fantastical means, fantastical to the height.
That instant I was turn'd into a hart, &c.] This image evidently alludes to the story of Acteon, by which Shakspeare seems to think men cautioned against too great familiarity with forbidden beauty. Acteon, who saw Diana naked, and was torn in pieces by his hounds, represents a man, who indulging his eyes, or his imagination, with the view of a woman that he cannot gain, has his heart torn with incessant longing. An interpretation far more elegant and natural than that of Sir Francis Bacon, who, in his Wisdom of the Antients, supposes this story to warn us against enquiring into the secrets of princes, by shewing, that those who knew that which for reasons of state is to be concealed, will be detected and destroyed by their own servants.
Line 40. THESE Sovereign thrones,] We should read, THREE sov'reign thrones. This is exactly in the manner of Shakspeare. So afterwards, in this play, Thy tongue, thy face, thy limbs, actions, and spirit, do give thee fivefold blazon.
Line 42. (HER sweet perfections,-] Liver, brain, and heart, are admitted in poetry as the residence of passions, judgment, and sentiments. These are what Shakspeare calls, her sweet perfections, though he has not very clearly expressed what he might design to have said. STEEVENS.
ACT I. SCENE II.
Line 73. A noble Duke in nature, as in his name.] I know not whether the nobility of the name is comprised in Duke, or in Orsino, which is, I think, the name of a great Italian family.
Line 92. And might not be delivered to the world,] I wish I
might not be made public to the world, with regard to the state of my birth and fortune, till I have gained a ripe opportunity for my design..
Viola seems to have formed a very deep design with very little premeditation: she is thrown by shipwreck on an unknown coast, hears that the prince is a bachelor, and resolves to supplant the lady whom he courts. JOHNSON.
Line 106. I'll serve this Duke;] Viola is an excellent schemer, never at a loss; if she cannot serve the lady, she will serve the Duke.
Line 142. viol-de-gambo,] The viol-de-gambo seems, in our author's time, to have been a very fashionable instrument. In The Return from Parnassus, 1606, it is mentioned with its proper derivation.
"Her viol-de-gambo is her best content,
"For 'twixt her legs she holds her instrument."
In the old dramatic writers frequent mention is made of a case of viols, consisting of the viol-de-gambo, the tenor, and the treble. STEEVENS.
Line 158. like a parish-top.] This is an old proverb, arising from a custom known in country villages, of a top being kept for public use in cold weather, to promote exercise, when some mechanics could not be employed at their trades.
-Castiliano vulgo;] Put on your Castilian coun-
tenance; that is, your grave, solemn looks.
Castiliano volgo. I meet with the word Castilian and Castilians in several of the old comedies: the Host, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, calls Caius a Castilian king Urinal; and in The Merry Devil of Edmonton, one of the characters says, Ha! my Castilian dialogues.
Line 174.board her,] A sea phrase, meaning here, address her, make up to her.
Line 190. It's dry, Sir.] What is the jest of dry hand, I know not any better than Sir Andrew. It may possibly mean, a hand with no money in it; or, according to the rules of physiognomy, she may intend to insinuate, that it is not a lover's hand, a moist band being vulgarly accounted a sign of an amorous constitution. JOHNSON.
Line 216. it will not curl by nature.] In former copies,thou seest, it will not COOL MY nature.] read, it will not CURL BY nature. The joke is evident. WARBURTON.
Line 236. —and yet I will not compare with an old man.] This stroke of pretended satire but ill accords with the character of the foolish knight. Ague-cheek, though willing enough to arrogate to himself such experience as is commonly the acquisition of age, is yet careful to exempt his person from comparison with its bodily weakness. In short, he would say what Falstaff says,I am old in nothing but my understanding. STEEVENS.
Line 246. like mistress Mall's picture ?] This is probably an allusion to a very notorious character in those days, named Moll Cutpurse; for a long account of whom, the reader is referred to Dodsley's old plays.
Line 255. flame-coloured stock.] The old copy reads-a dam'd colour'd stock. Stockings were in Shakspeare time called stocks. The same solicitude concerning the furniture of the legs makes a part of master Stephen's character in Every Man in his Humour:
I think my leg would show well in a silk hose. Line 259. Taurus? that's sides and heart.] Alluding to the medical astrology still preserved in almanacks, which refers the affections of particular parts of the body to the predominance of particular constellations. JOHNSON,
ACT I. SCENE IV.
-a woman's part.] That is, thy proper part in
a play would be a woman's. Women were then personated by
ACT I. SCENE V.
-lenten answer :- -] A lean, or, as we now
call it, a dry answer.
Line 328. —and for turning away, let summer bear it out.] This seems to be a pun from the nearness in the pronunciation of turning away and turning of whey. STEEVENS.
Line 345. -Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit.-] Hall, in his Chronicle, speaking of the death of Sir Thomas More, says, that he knows not whether to call him a foolish wise man, or a wise foolish man. JOHNSON.
-Madonna,- -] i. e. Mistress.
408. Now Mercury endue thee with LEASING, for thou speakest well of fools!] This is a stupid blunder. We should read, with PLEASING, i. c. with eloquence, make thee a gracious and powerful speaker; for Mercury was the god of orators as well as cheats. WARBURTON.
I think the present reading humorous. May Mercury teach thee to lie, since thou liest in favour of fools.
-pia mater.] The pia mater is a membrane
Line 426. which covers the brain.
Line 431. 'Tis a gentleman HERE- -] He had before said it was a gentleman. He was asked what gentleman? and he makes this reply; which, it is plain, is corrupt, and should be read thus, 'Tis a gentleman-HEIR.
i. e. some
lady's eldest son just come out of the nursery; for this was the appearance Viola made in men's clothes. See the character Malvolio draws of him presently after. WARBURTON.
Can any thing be plainer than that Sir Toby was going to describe the gentleman, but was interrupted by the effects of his pickle herring? I would print it as an imperfect sentence. Mr. Edwards has the same observation. STEEVENS,
Line 443. hot in a proper degree. Line 460. stand at your door like a sheriff's post,—] It was the custom for that officer to have large posts set up at his door, as an indication of his office. The original of which was, that the king's proclamations, and other public acts, might be af
above heat-] i. e. Above the state of being STEEVENS.
fixed thereon by way of publication. So Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour :
To the lord Chancellor's tomb, or the Shrives posts.
Line 490. I am very comptible,] Comptible for ready to call to account. WARBURTON.
Viola seems to mean just the contrary. She begs she may not be treated with scorn, because she is very submissive, even to lighter marks of reprehension. STEEVENS. skipping-] Wild, frolicksome, mad.
-Some mollification for your giant.] Ladies, in
romance, are guarded by giants, who repel all improper or troublesome advances. Viola seeing the waiting-maid so eager to oppose her message, intreats Olivia to pacify her giant. JOHNSON.
Vio. I am a messenger.] Viola growing troublesome, Olivia would dismiss her, and therefore cuts her short with this command, Tell me your mind. The other taking advantage of the ambiguity of the word mind, which signifies either business or inclinations, replies as if she had used it in the latter sense, I am a messenger. WARBURTON,
Line 556. -Look you, Sir, such a one as I was this present: is't not well done ] This is nonesense. The change of was to wear, think, clears all up, and gives the expression an air of gallantry. Viola presses to see Olivia's face: The other at length pulls off her veil, and says; We will draw the curtain, and show you the picture. I wear this complexion to-day, I may wear another tomorrow; jocularly intimating, that she painted. The other, vext at the jest, says, "Excellently done, if God did all." Perhaps, it may be true, what you say in jest; otherwise 'tis an excellent face. 'Tis in grain, &c. replies Olivia. WARBURTON.
I am not satisfied with this emendation. She says, I was this present, instead of saying I am; because she had once shewn herself, and personates the beholder, who is afterwards to make the relation. STEEVENS.