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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. JOHNSON.
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. Line 662. -my friend,] i. e. Courtezan. See note in Measure 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.
-how can this be true,
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.
-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. Line 734.
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. WARBURTON. -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 :
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. HANMER. Line 681. A-jax ;] There is a conceit of Ajax and a jakes. JOHNSON.
-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. In the converse of breath,] Perhaps converse may, in this line, mean interchange. JOHNSON.
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. 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:
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.
JOHNSON. Line 1196. dear groans,] Dear should here, as in many other places, be dere, sad, odious. JOHNSON.
Line 1232. When daisies pied, &c.] The first lines of this song that were transposed, have been replaced by Mr. Theobald.
Line 1234. -cuckoo-buds-] Miller says, that lady-smocks and cuckoo-flowers are only different names of the same plant. STEEVENS. Line 1358. -doth keel the pot.] Dr. Goldsmith says, this word is used in Ireland, and signifies to scum the pot; but the other commentators have proved the meaning of keel to be to cool.
END OF THE ANNOTATIONS ON LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST.
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Argosies] A name given in our author's time
to ships of great burthen, probably galleons, such as the Spaniards now use in their West-India trade. Line 18. Plucking the grass, &c.] By holding up the grass, or any light body that will bend by a gentle blast, the direction of
the wind is found.
open place, there I take a fethere, or a lyttle grasse, and so
"learned how the wind stood." Ascham.
Line 28. -Andrew-] The name of the ship.
29. Vailing her high top lower than her ribs,] Means, to put off the hat, to strike sail, to give sign of submission. Line 53. Now, by two-headed Janus,] By two-headed Janus is meant those antique bifrontine heads, which generally represent a young and smiling face, together with an old and wrinkled one, being of Pan and Bacchus; of Saturn and Apollo. WARB. Line 56. peep through their eyes,] This gives us a very