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Make 't thy question, and go rot!" Dost think, I am so muddy, so unsettled, To appoint myself in this vexation? sully The purity and whiteness of my sheets, Which to preserve, is sleep; which being spotted, Is goads, thorns, nettles, tails of wasps ?' Give scandal to the blood o' the prince my son, Who, I do think is mine, and love as mine; Without ripe moving to 't? Would I do this? Could man so blench?1
I think Steevens right in restoring the old reading, but mistaken in his interpretation of it. Camillo is about to express his affection for Leontes, but the impatience of the latter will not suffer him to proceed. He takes no notice of that part of Camillo's speech, but replies to that which gave him offence—the doubts he had expressed of the Queen's misconduct; and says—“Make that thy question, and go rot.” Nothing can be more natural than this interruption. M. Mason.
The commentators have differed much in explaining this pas. sage, and some have wished to transfer the words--" I have lov'd thee,” from Camillo to Leontes. Perhaps the words—" being honourable,” should be placed in a parenthesis, and the full point that has been put in all the editions after the latter of these words, ought to be omitted. The sense will then be: Having ever had the highest respect for you, and thought you so estimable and honourable a character, so worthy of the love of my mistress, I cannot believe that she has played you false, has dishonoured you. However, the text is very intelligible as now regulated. Camillo is going to give the King instances of his love, and is interrupted. I see no sufficient reason for transferring the words, I have lood thee, from Camillo to Leontes. In the original copy there is a comma at the end of Camillo's speech, to denote an abrupt speech.
8 Make 't thy question, and go rot! &c.] This refers to what Camillo has just said, relative to the Queen's chastity:
I cannot “ Believe this crack to be in my dread mistress Not believe it, replies Leontes; make that (i. e. Hermione's disloyalty, which is so clear a point) a subject of debate or discussion, and go rot! Dost thou think, I am such a fool as to torment myself, and to bring disgrace on me and my children, without sufficient grounds ? Malone.
9 Is goads, &c.] Somewhat necessary to the measure is omitted in this line. Perhaps we should read, with Sir T. Hanmer: “ Is goads and thorns, nettles and tails of wasps."
Steevens. 1 Could man so blench?] To blench is to start off, to shrink. So, in Hamlet :
I must believe you, sir;
Thou dost advise me,
Cam. My lord,
This is all:
I'll do 't, my lord. Leon. I will seem friendly, as thou hast advis'd me.
[Erit. Cam. O miserable lady !-But, for me, What case stand I in? I must be the poisoner Of good Polixenes: and my ground to do 't Is the obedience to a master; one, Who, in rebellion with himself, will have All that are his, so too.To do this deed, Promotion follows: If I could find example Of thousands, that had struck anointed kings, And flourish'd after, I'd not do 't: but since Nor brass, nor stone, nor parchment, bears not one, Let villainy itself forswear 't. I must Forsake the court: to do ’t, or no, is certain To me a break-neck. Happy star, reign now!
if he but blench, “I know my course. Leontes means-could any man so start or fly off from proprie. ty of behaviour? Steevens.
- If I could find example &c.] An allusion to the death of the Queen of Scots. The play, therefore, was written in King James's time. Blackstone.
Here comes Bohemia.
This is strange! methinks,
Hail, most royal sir!
None rare, my lord.
Cam: I dare not know, my lord.
There is a sickness
How! caught of me?
A lip of much contempt, speeds from me; This is a stroke of nature worthy of Shakspeare. Leontes had but a moment before assured Camillo that he would seem friendly to Polixenes, according to his advice; but on meeting him, his jealousy gets the better of his resolution, and he finds it impossible to restrain his hatred. M. Mason.
Do you know, and dare not Be intelligent to me?] i.e. do you know, and dare not confess to me that you know? Tyrwhitt.
I have look'd on thousands, who have sped the better
may not answer. Pol. A sickness caught of me, and yet I well! I must be answer'd.- Dost thou hear, Camillo, I conjure thee, by all the parts of man, Which honour does acknowledge,—whereof the least Is not this suit of mine,--that thou declare What incidency thou dost guess of harm Is creeping toward me; how off, how near; Which way to be prevented, if to be; If not, how best to bear it. Cam.
Sir, I'll tell you; Since I am charg'd in honour, and by him That I think honourable: Therefore, mark my counsel; Which must be even as swiftly follow'd, as I mean to utter it; or both yourself and me Cry, lost, and so good-night. Pol.
On, good Camillo. Cam. I am appointed Him to murder you.6
5 In whose success we are gentle,] I know not whether success here does not mean succession. Johnson.
Gentle in the text is evidently opposed to simple; alluding to the distinction between the gentry and yeomanry. So, in The Insatiate Countess, 1613:
“ And make thee gentle being born a beggar.” In whose success we are gentle, may, indeed, mean in consequence of whose success in life, &c. Steevens.
Success seems clearly to have been used for succession by Shak. speare, in this, as in other instances. Henley.
I think Dr. Johnson's explanation of success the true one. So, in Titus Andronicus:
“ Plead my successive title with your swords.” Malone. :6 I am appointed Him to murder you.) i. e. I am the person appointed to murder you. Steevens.
Pol. By whom, Camillo?
By the king.
Pol. O, then my best blood turn
Swear his thought over By each particular star in heaven,' and
So, in King Henry VI, P. I:
“ Him that thou magnifiest with all these titles,
Stinking and fly-blown lies there at our feet." Malone. 7. To vice you to't,] i. e. to draw, persuade you. The charac. ter called the Vice, in the old plays, was the tempter to evil.
Warburton. The vice is an instrument well known; its operation is to hold things together. So, the Bailiff speaking of Falstaff: “If he come but within my vice," &c. A vice, however, in the age of Shakspeare, might mean any kind of clock-work or machinery. So, in Holinshed, p 245: “ the rood of Borleie in Kent, call. ed the rood of grace, made with diverse vices to moove the eyes and lips," &c. It may, indeed, be no more than a corruption of “ to advise you.” So, in the old metrical romance of Syr Guy of Warwick, bl. l. no date:
“ Then said the emperour Ernis,
“Methinketh thou sayest a good vyce.". But my first attempt at explanation is, I believe, the best.
Steevens. did betray the best;] Perhaps Judas. The word best is spelt with a capital letter thus, Best, in the first folio.
Henderson. 9 Swear his thought over
By each particular star in heaven, &c.] The transposition of a single letter reconciles this passage to good sense. Polixenes, in the preceding speech, had been laying the deepest imprecations on himself, if he had ever abused Leontes in any familiarity with his Queen. To which Camillo very pertinently replies:
Swear this though over, &c. Theobald.