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Dro. E. Ay, ay, he told his mind upon mine ear: Beshrew his hand, I scarce could understand it.
Luc. Spake he so doubtfully, thou couldst not feel his meaning?
Dro. E. Nay, he struck so plainly, I could too well feel his blows; and withal so doubtfully, that I could scarce understand them..
Adr. But say, I pr’ythee, is he coming home?
Dro. E. Why, mistress, sure my master is horn-mad.
Luc. Quoth who?
Dro. E. Quoth my master:
Adr. Go back again, thou slave, and fetch him home.
that I could scarce understand them.] i. e. that I could scarce stand under them. This quibble, poor as it is, seems to have been a favourite with Shakspeare. It has been already introduced in The Two Gentlemen of Verona:
my staff understands me.” Steevens. - a thousand marks in gold:] The old copy reads—a hundred marks. The correction was made in the second folio.
Malone. 8 Will you come home? quoth I;] The word home, which the metre requires, but is not in the authentick copy of this play, was suggested by Mr. Capell. Melone. . ! I know not thy. inistress; out on thy mistress ] I suppose this dissonant line originally stood thus:
I know no mistress; out upon thy mistress! Steevens.
Dro. E. Go back again, and be new beaten home? For God's sake, send some other messenger.
Adr. Back, slave, or I'will break thy pate across.
Adr. Hence, prating peasant; fetch thy master home.
Dro. E. Am I so round with you, as you with me, That like a football you.do spurn me thus? You spurn me hence, and he will spurn me hither: If I last in this service, you must case me in leather.2
[Exit. Luc. Fy, how impatience lowreth in your face!
Adr. His company must do his minions grace,
1 Am I so round with you, as you with me,] He plays upon the word round, which signified spherical, applied to himself, and un. restrained, or free in speech or action, spoken of his mistress. So the King, in Hamlet, bids the Queen be round with her son.
Fohnson. -case me in leather.) Still alluding to a football, the bladder of which is always covered with leather. Steevens.
3 Whilst I at home starve for a merry look.] So, in our poet's 47th Sonnet:
“When that mine eye is famish'd for a look.” Malone. 4 of my defeatures : ] By defeatures is here meant alteration of features. At the end of this play the same word is used with a somewhat different signification. Steedens.
My decayed fuir -] Shakspeare uses the adjective gilt, as a substantive, for what is gilt, and in this instance fair for fairness. To ex nanór, is a similar expression. In A Midsummer Night's Dream, the old quartos read:
« Demetrius loves your fair."
But, too unruly deer, he breaks the pale,
Again, in Shakspeare's 68th Sonnet :
“Before these bastard signs of fair were born." Again, in his 83d Sonnet:
“ And therefore to your fair no painting set.” Pure is likewise used as a substantive in The Shepherd to the Flowers, a song in England's Helicon, 1614. “ Do pluck your pure, ere Phobus view the land.”
Steevens. Fair is frequently used substantively by the writers of Shakspeare's time. So, Marston, in one of his Satires :
“ As the greene meads, whose native outward faire
Farmer. too unruly deer,] The ambiguity of deer and deur is borrowed, poor as it is, by Waller, in his Poem on The Ladies Gir.
“ This was my heaven's extremest sphere,
“ The pale that held my lovely deer.” Johnson. Shakspeare has played upon this word in the same manner in his Venus and Adonis :
“ Fondling, saith she, since I have hemm’d thee here,
“ Within the circuit of this ivory pale,
« Feed where thou wilt on mountain or on dale." The lines of Waller seem to have been immediately copied from these. Malone.
- poor I am but his stale.] The word stale, in our author, used as a substantive, means not something offered to allure or attract, but something vitiated with use, something of which the best part has been enjoyed and consumed. Johnson.
I believe my learned coadjutor mistakes the use of the word stale on this occasion. “ Stale to catch these thieves,” in The Tempest, undoubtedly means a fraudulent bait. Here it seems to imply the same as stalking-horse, pretence. I am, says Adriana, but his pretended wife, the mask under which he covers his amours. So, in King John and Matilda, by Robert Davenport, 1655, the Queen says to Matilda:
I am made your stale, “ The king, the king your strumpet,” &c. Again:
I knew I was made “ A stale for her obtaining.” Again, in the old translation of the Menæchmi of Plautus, 1595, from whence, perhaps, Shakspeare borrowed the expression:
“ He makes me a stale and a langhing-stock.” Steevens. In Greene's Art of Coney-catching, 1592, a stale is the confede. rate of a thief; “he that faceth the man,” or holds him in discourse. Again, in another place, “wishing all, of what estate
Luc. Self-harming jealousy !-fy, beat it hence.
Adr. Unfeeling fools can with such wrongs dispense. I know his eye doth homage otherwhere; Or else, what lets it but he would be here? Sister, you know, he promised me a chain ;Would that alone alone he would detain, So he would keep fair quarter with his bed! I see, the jewel, best enamelled, Will lose his beauty; and though gold 'bides still, That others touch, yet often touching will Wear gold: and so no man, that hath a name, But falshood and corruption doth it shame.' Since that my beauty cannot please his eye, I'll weep what 's left away, and weeping die. Luc. How many fond fools serve mad jealousy!
soever, to beware of filthy lust, and such damnable stales,” &c. A stale, in this last instance, means the pretended wife of a crossbiter.
Perhaps, however, stale may here have the same meaning as the French word chaperon. Poor I am but the cover for his infidelity. Collins. 8 Would that alone alone he would detain,] The first copy reads
Would that alone a love &c.
Will lose his beauty; and though gold 'bides still,
But falshood and corruption doth it shame.] The sense is this: “Gold, indeed, will long bear the handling; however, often touching will wear even gold; just so the greatest character though as pure as gold itself, may, in time, be injured, by the repeated attacks of falshood and corruption.” Warburton. Mr. Heath reads thus:
- yet the gold’bides still,
By falshood and corruption doth it shame. Steevens. The observation concerning gold is found in one of the early dramatick pieces, Damon and Pithias, 1582:
-gold in time does wear away, “ And other precious things do fade: friendship does
ne’er decay.” Malone.
Enter ANTIPHOLUS of Syracuse.
Enter DROMIO of Syracuse.
Dro. S. What answer, sir? when spake I such a word?
Dro. S. I did not see you since you sent me hence, Home to the Centaur, with the gold you gave me.
Ant. S. Villain, thou didst deny the gold's receipt; And told'st me of a mistress, and a dinner; For which, I hope, thou felt'st I was displeas'd.
Dro. S. I am glad to see you in this merry vein: What means this jest? I pray you, master, tell me.
Ant. S. Yea, dost thou jeer, and flout me in the teeth? Think'st thou, I jest? Hold, take thou that, and that.
[Beating him. Dro. S. Hold, sir, for God's sake: now your jest is
Ant. S. Because that I familiarly sometimes
And make a common of my serious hours.] i.e. intrude on them when you please. The allusion is to those tracts of ground destined to common use, which are thence called commons.