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* Tis pity to part love that is so true.
Mrs. Page. (Aside.] Although that I have miss'd in my intent, Yet I am glad my husband's match is cross'd.
Here Fenton, take her.
Page. I cannot tell, and yet my heart is eas'd;
END OF THE ANNOTATIONS ON THE MERRY WIVES OF
WHAT YOU WILL.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Line 2. Give me excess of it; that, surfeiting, &c.] So in The
0! it came o'er my ear, like the sweet south,
Stealing, and giving odour] Amongst the beauties of this charming similitude, its exact propriety is not the least. For, as a south wind, while blowing over a violet-bank, wafts away the odour of the flowers, it, at the same time, communicates its own sweetness to it; so the soft affecting music, here described, though it takes away the natural, and sweet tranquillity of the mind, yet, at the same time, it communicates a new pleasure to it.
Line 7. Stealing and giving odour.)
- and whisper whence they stole
STEEvens. Line 12. —validity) i.e. Value.
15. That it alone is high fantastical.] High fantastical means, fantastical to the height.
Steevens. Line 22. 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.
JOHNSON 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, dy give thee fivefold blazon.
WARBURTON. 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.
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.
JOHNSON. 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.
ACT I. SCENE III.
-as tall a man- -] Tall means, sturdy and bold.
Line 142. riol-de-gambo,] The riol-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. Line 159.
-Castiliano vulgo;] Put on your Castilian countenance; that is, your grave, solemn looks. WARBURTON.
Castiliano was a common cant expression ; it arose from the contempt of the Spaniards, on the defeat of the Invincible Armada.
Castiliano volyo. 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 Decil 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 253. 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. Steevens. 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.
ACT I. SCENE IV. Line 298.
a woman's part.] That is, thy proper part in a play would be a woman's. Women were then personated by boys.