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I know not whether we may not better read,
One that can inform himself of that which it would be otherwise my part to tell him. JOHNSON.
Line 50. appointed.
Line 46. Hold therefore, Angelo:] That is, continue to be Angelo; hold as thou art. JOHNSON. first in question,] That is, first called for; first JOHNSON. Line 57. We have with a leaven'd and prepared choice] Leaven'd choice is one of Shakspeare's harsh metaphors. His train of ideas. seems to be this. I have proceeded to you with choice mature, concocted, fermented, leavened. When bread is leavened it is left to ferment: a leavened choice is therefore a choice not hasty, but considerate, not declared as soon as it fell into the imagination, but suffered to work long in the mind. Thus explained, it suits better with prepared than levelled, which is Dr. Warburton's reading. JOHNSON. bring you something on the way.] i. e. Travel way with you.
Line 68. some part of the Line 71. plitude of power.
—your scope is as mine own.] That is, your amJOHNSON.
ACT I. SCENE II.
Line 113. -in metre?] In the primers, there are metrical graces, such as, I suppose, were used in Shakspeare's time.
Line 114. In any proportion, &c.] Proportion signifies measure: and refers to the question, What? in metre? WARBURTON.
Line 116. Grace is grace, despite of all controversy:] Satirically insinuating that the controversies about grace were so intricate and endless, that the disputants unsettled every thing but this, that grace was grace; which, however, in spite of controversy, still remained certain. WARBURTON. Line 119. there went but a pair of sheers between us.] We are both of the same piece. JOHNSON. So in The Maid of the Mill, by Beaumont and Fletcher.— "There went but a pair of sheers and a bodkin between them."
Line 126. -pil'd, as thou art pil'd, for a French velvet.] The jest about the pile of a French velvet alludes to the loss of hair in the French disease, a very frequent topick of our author's jocularity. Lucio finding that the gentleman understands the distemper so well, and mentions it so feelingly, promises to remember to drink his health, but to forget to drink after him. It was the opinion of Shakspeare's time, that the cup of an infected person was contagious. JOHNSON.
The jest lies between the similar sound of the words pill'd and pil'd. STEEVENS.
Line 141. To three thousand dollars a year.] A quibble intended between dollars and dolours. HANMER. JOHNSON.
The same jest occurred before in The Tempest.
Line 143. A French crown more.] Lucio means here not the piece of money so called, but that venereal scab, which among the surgeons is stiled corona Veneris. To this, I think, our author likewise makes Quince allude in Midsummer-Night's Dream.
Some of your French crowns have no hair at all, and then you will play bare-faced.
For where these eruptions are, the skull is carious, and the party becomes bald. THEOBALD.
Line 173. —what with the sweat,] This may allude to the sweating sickness, of which the memory was very fresh in the time of Shakspeare: but more probably to the method of cure then used for the diseases contracted in brothels. JOHNSON.
what has he done?
Clown, A woman.] To illustrate the verb, we shall quote Titus Andronicus:
Chiron. Thou has undone our mother.
Line 186. All houses in the suburbs- -] It may here be observed, that by king James's law concerning huires (whores), brothels were not permitted, but in the suburbs.
in a peculiar river.] A stream that is private
ACT I. SCENE III.
Thus can the demi-god, Authority,
Make us pay down for our offence by weight.
The words of heaven;-on whom it will, it will;
On whom it will not, so; yet still 'tis just.] The sense of the whole is this: The demi-god, Authority, makes us pay the full penalty of our offence, and its decrees are as little to be questioned as the words of heaven, which pronounces its pleasure thus: -I punish and remit punishment according to my own uncontrolable will; and yet who can say, what dost thou ?—Make us pay down for our offence by weight, is a fine expression, to signify paying the full penalty. The metaphor is taken from paying money by weight, which is always exact. WARBURTON.
Line 242. I got possession of Julietta's bed, &c.] This speech is surely too indelicate to be spoken concerning Juliet, before her face; for she appears to be brought in with the rest, though she has nothing to say. The Clown points her out as they enter; and yet, from Claudio's telling Lucio, that he knows the lady, &c. one would think she was not meant to have made her personal appearance on the scene. STEEVENS.
-the fault and glimpse of newness;] Perhaps we
Line 255. may read,
Whether it be the fault or glimpse
That is, whether it be the seeming enormity of the action, or the glare of new authority. Yet the same sense follows in the next lines. JOHNSON.
Line 266. So long, that nineteen zodiacks have gone round,] The Duke in the scene immediately following says,
Which for these fourteen years we have let slip. THEOBALD. Line 270. -so tickleSTEEVENS. -] i. e. Ticklish. 282. -prone and speechless dialect,] The author may, by a prone dialect, mean a dialect which men are prone to regard, or a dialect natural and unforced, as those actions seem to which we are prone. JOHNSON. Prone, perhaps, may stand for humble, as a prone posture is a posture of supplication. STEEVENS.
Line 287. under grievous imposition:] I once thought it should be inquisition, but the present reading is probably right. The crime would be under grievous penalties imposed. JOHNSON.
ACT I. SCENE IV.
Line 296. Believe not, that the dribbling dart of love Can pierce a cómplete basom:] Think not that a breast completely armed can be pierced by the dart of love that comes fluttering without force. JOHNSON.
-the life removed;] i. e. A retired life. 307. (A man of stricture and firm abstinence,)] We should read,
A man of strict ure and firm abstinence,
i. e. a man of the exactest conduct, and practised in the subdual of his passions. Ure an old word for use, practice: so enur'd, habituated to. WARBURTON.
Stricture may easily be used for strictness; ure is indeed an old word, but, I think, always applied to things, never to persons.
Line 316. The needful bits and curbs for head-strong steeds,] Nothing can be more proper, than to compare persons of unbridled licentiousness to head-strong steeds: and, in this view, bridling the passions has been a phrase adopted by our best poets.
Line 318. Which for these fourteen years we have let sleep;] By letting the laws sleep, adds a particular propriety to the thing represented, and accords exactly too with the simile. It is the metaphor too, that our author seems fond of using upon this occasion, in several other passages of this play,
The law hath not been dead, tho' it hath slept;
Line 324. Becomes more mock'd than fear'd:] Becomes was added by Mr. Pope to restore sense to the passage, some such word having been left out. STEEVENS.
Line 335. Sith-] i. e. Since.
344. To do it slander.] Perhaps an alteration might have produced the true reading,
And yet my nature never, in the sight,
And yet my nature never suffers slander by doing any open acts of severity.
Line 352. Stands at a guard-] Stands on terms of defiance. JOHNSON.
-make me not your story.] Do not, by deceiving
Line 388. me, make me a subject for a tale. JOHNSON. Perhaps only, Do not divert yourself with me, as you would with STEEVENS.
-'tis my familiar sin
With maids to seem the lapwing,] The quality of the lapwing, alluded to here, is, its perpetually flying so low and so near the passenger, that he thinks he has it, and then is suddenly gone again. This made it a proverbial expression to signify a lover's falshood. WARBURTON.
-as blossoming time
That from the seedness the bare fallow brings
To teeming foison; even so— -] As the sentence
Line 420. whole length. Line 426.
now stands, it is apparently ungrammatical. I read, At blossoming time, &c.
That is, As they that feed grow full, so her womb now at blossoming time, at that time through which the seed time proceeds to the harvest, her womb shows what has been doing. Lucio ludicrously pregnancy blossoming time, the time when fruit is promised, though not yet ripe. JOHNSON.
Foison is, plenty.
Line 415. Bore many gentlemen,
In hand, and hope of action:] To bear in hand is a phrase for to keep in expectation and dependance, but we should read,
with hope of action.
JOHNSON. with full line- -] With full extent, with the JOHNSON.
-to give fear to use- -] To intimidate use, that is, practices long countenanced by custom.