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That had Narcissus seen her as she stood,
Why hunt I then for colour or excuses ?
And when his gawdy banner is display'd',
Then childish fear, avaunt! debating, die!
Desire my pilot is, beauty my prize;
2 And when his gawdy banner is display'd.] Thus the quarto 1594. The edition of 1616 reads-this gawdy banner; and in the former part of the stanza, pleads and dreads, instead of pleadeth and dreadeth. Malone. 3 Then childish fear, avaunt! debating, die !
Respect and reason, wait on wrinkled age! &c.] So, in King Richard III.:
“— I have learn’d that fearful commenting
“ Then firy expedition be my guide !" Respect means, cautious prudence, that coolly weighs all consequences. So, in Troilus and Cressida, Act II. Sc. I. :
“ reason and respect
“Make livers pale, and lustihood deject." Malone. 4 SAD pause and deep regard beseem the sage ;] Sad, in ancient language, is grave. So, in Much Ado About Nothing :
« The conference was sadly borne.” MalOnE S MY PART is youth, and beats these from the stage :) The poet seems to have had the conflicts between the Devil and the Vice of the old moralities, in his thoughts. In these, the Vice was always victorious, and drove the Devil roaring off the stage.
MALONE. “My part is youth -" Probably the poet was thinking on that particular interlude intitled Lusty Juventus. STEEVENS.
As corn o'er-grown by weeds, so heedful fear
So cross him with their opposite persuasion,
Within his thought her heavenly image sits,
But with a pure appeal seeks to the heart,
Which once corrupted, takes the worser part;
By reprobate desire thus madly led,
The Roman lord marcheth to Lucrece' bed 8. 0 -heedful fear
Is almost chok'd by unresisted lust.] Thus the old copy. So, in King Henry IV.:
“ And yet we ventur’d, for the gain propos'd
“ Chok'd the respect of likely peril fear'd.” So, also, Dryden:
“ No fruitful crop the sickly fields return,
“ But docks and darnel choke the rising corn." The modern editions erroneously read :
“ cloak’d by unresisted lust.” Steevens. 7 Stuff up his lust, as MINUTES FILL UP HOURS;] So, in King Henry VI. Part III. :
“ to see the minutes how they run,
“ How many make the hour full-complete.” MALONE. 8 The Roman lord MARCHETH to Lucrece' bed.] Thus the quarto 1594. The edition of 1616 reads-doth march. MALONE.
The locks between her chamber and his will,
As each unwilling portal yields him way,
:9 — RETIRES his ward ;] Thus the quarto, and the editions 1598 and 1600. That of 1616, and the modern copies, read, unintelligibly:
" Each one by one enforc'd, recites his ward." Retires is draws back. Retirer, Fr. So, in King Richard II. : . “That he, our hope, might have retird his power.”
MALONE. Which drives the creeping thief to SOME REGARD :] Which makes him pause, and consider what he is about to do. So before :
“ Sad pause and deep regard beseem the sage.” MALONE. . So, in Hamlet :
“ With this regard their currents turn awry.” BOSWELL. 2 - to have him heard ;] That is, to discover him ; to proclaim his approach. MALONE.
3 Night wand'ring weesels shriek, &c.] The property of the weesel is to suck eggs. To this circumstance our author alludes in As You Like It : “ I suck melancholy out of a song, as a weesel sucks eggs.” Again, in King Henry V.:
“For once the eagle England being in prey,
“ Comes sneaking, and so sucks her princely eggs." Perhaps the poet meant to intimate, that even animals intent on matrimonial plunder, gave the alarm at sight of a more powerful invader of the nuptial bed. But this is mere idle conjecture,
But his hot heart, which fond desire doth scorch, Puffs forth another wind that fires the torch:
And being lighted, by the light he spies
Is not inur'd; return again in haste;
But all these poor forbiddings could not stay him ;
Who with a ling’ring stay his course doth let, Till every minute pays the hour his debt.
4 Extinguishing his conduct in this case ;] Conduct, for conductor. So, in Romeo and Juliet, Act V. Sc. I.: “ Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide,"
MALONE. 5 He takes it from the RUSHES where it lies,] The apartments in England being strewed with rushes in our author's time, he has given Lucretia's chamber the same covering. The contemporary poets, however, were equally inattentive to propriety. Thus Marlowe in his Hero and Leander :
“ She fearing on the rushes to be flung,
« Striv'd with redoubled strength.” MALONE. 6 And griping it, the neeld his finger pricks :] Neeld for needle. Our author has the same abbreviation in his Pericles :
“ Deep clerks she dumbs, and with her neeld composes
“ Nature's own shape " Again, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream : “ Have with our neelds created both one flower.”
MALONE. 7- his course doth let,] To let, in ancient language, is to obstruct, to retard. So, in Hamlet :
" I'll make a ghost of him that lets me.” Malone.
So, so, quoth he, these lets attend the time,
Now is he come unto the chamber-door,
That for his prey to pray he doth begin?,
But in the midst of his unfruitful prayer,
8 To add a more rejoicing to the PRIME,] That is, a greater rejoicing. So, in King Richard II. :
“To make a more requital of your loves." · The prime is the spring. MALONE.
9 And give the sneaped birds —] Sneaped, is checked. So, Falstaff, in King Henry IV. Part II. : “ My lord, I will not undergo this sneap without reply.” Malone.
1°That shuts him from the HEAVEN of his thought,] So, in The Comedy of Errors : . “My food, my fortune, and my sweet hope's aim,
“My sole earth's heaven ." MALONE. 2 That for his PREY TO PRAY he doth begin,] A jingle not less disgusting occurs in Ovid's narration of the same event:
Hostis ut hospes init penetralia Collatina. Steevens. Prey was formerly always spelt pray. Malone.
3 — might compass his fair FAIR,] His fair beauty. Fair, it has been already observed, was anciently used as a substantive. ,