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HERO. O God of love! I know, he doth deserye As much as may be yielded to a man: But nature never fram'd a woman's heart Of prouder fluff than that of Beatrice: 'Dildain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes, Misprising what they look on; and her wit Values itself so highly, that to heç All matter else seems weak: 'she cannot love, Nor take no shape nor project of affection, She is so felf-endeared. URS.
Sure, I think fo; And therefore, certainly, it were not good She knew his love, lest she make sport at it.
Hero. Why, you speak truth: Inever yet saw man, How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featur'd, But she would spell him backward : s if fair-faced,
Mr. M. Mason very justly observes, that what Ursula mcans to say is, “ that he is as deserving of complete happiness in the marriage state, as Beatrice herself." STEEVENS.
6 Misprising —] Despising, contemning. JOHNSON.
To misprise is to undervalue, or take in a wrong light. So, in Troilus and Cressida :
- a great deal misprising
that to her
to your huge store
STEEVENS. -Spell him backward :) Alluding to the pra&ice of witches in uttering prayers.
The following passages containing a similar train of thought, are from Lyly's Anatomy of Wit, 1581.
• If one be hard in conceiving, they pronounce him a dowlte : if given to ftudie, they proclaim him a dunce: if merry, a jefter : if lad, a saint: if full of words, a lot: if without speech, a cypher: if one argue with him.boldly, then is he impudent: if coldly, an innocent: if there be reasoning of divinitie, they cry, Quæ fupra nos, nihil ad nos : if of humanitic, fententias loquitur carnifex.” Again, p. 44, b. "
if he be cleanly, they (women) terma VOL. VI.
She'd swear, the gentleman should be her sister;
him proude : if meene in apparel, a sloven : if tall, a lungis : if shorte, a dwarfe : if bold, blunt: if bamesaft, a cowarde," &c. P. 55: "If she be well set, then call her a bosse : if flender, a hafill twig: if nut brown, black as a coal : is well colour'd, a painted wall: if she be pleasant, then is she wanton : if sullen, a clowne: if honcft, then is she coye." STEEVENS. S'If black, why, nature, drawing of an antick,
Made a foul blot:] The antick was a buffoon ch a&er in the old English farces, with a blacked face, and a patch-work habit. What I would observe from hence is, that the name of antick or antique, given to this chara&er, shows that the people had some traditional ideas of its being borrowed from the ancient mimes, who are thus described by Apuleius : " mimi ceniunculo, fuligine faciem obduéti." WARBURTON.
I believe what is here said of the old English farces, is said at random. Dr. Warburton was thinking, I imagine, of the modern Harlequin. I have met with no proof that the face of the antick or Vice of the old English comedy was blackened. By the word black in the text, is only meant, as I conceive, swarthy, or dark brown. MALONE.
A black man means a man with a dark or thick beard, not a fwar. thy or dark-brown complexion, as Mr. Malone conceives. Douce.
When Hero says, that "nature drawing of an antick, made a foul blot," she only alludes to a drop of ink that may casually fall out of a pen, and spoil a grotesque drawing. STEEVENS.
9 If low, an agale very vilely cut :) But why an agate, if low? For what likeness between a little man and an agate? The ancients, indeed, used this stone to cut upon; but very exquisitely. I make 110 queftion but the poet wrote :
--- an aglot very vilely cut : An aglet was a tag of those points, formerly so much in fashion. These tags were either of gold, silver, or brass, according to the quality of the wearer; and. were commonly in the shape of little images; or at least had a head cut at the extremity. The French call them, aiguillettes. Mezeray, speaking of Henry IIId's sorrow for the death of the princess of Conti, fams, “ portant même sur les aiguilleries des petites têtes de mort." And as a tall man is before compared to a lance ill-headed; so, by the same figure, a little man is very aptly liken'd to an aglet ill-cut. WARBURTON.
If speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds;
The old reading is, I believe, the true one. Vilely cut may not only mean aukwardly worked by a tool into shape, but grotesquely veined by nature as it grew.
To this circumstance, I suppose, Drayton alludes in his Muses' Elizium :
" Wiib th' agate, very oft that is
- Cut strangely in the quarry;
6. How she herself can vary." Pliny mentions that the shapes of various beings are to be disa covered in agates ; and Mr. Addison has very clegantly compared Shakspeare, who was born with all the seeds of poetry, to the agate in the rin of Pyrrhus, which, as Pliny tells us, had the figure of Apollo and the nine Muses in the veins of it, produced by the spontaneous hand of nature, without any help from art.
STEEVENS. Dr. Warburton reads aglet, which was adopted, I think, too haftily by the subsequent editors. I see no reason for departing from the old copy. Shakspeare's comparisons scarcely ever answer completely on both sides. Dr. Warburton asks, " What likeness is there between a little man and an agate ? " No other than that both are finall. Our author has himself in another place compared a very little man to an agate. 6. Thou whorson mandrake, (says Falstaff to his page,) thou art fitter to be worn in my cap, than to wait at my heels. 'I was never so man'd with an agate till now." Hero means no more than this : " · If a man be low, Beatrice will say that he is as diminutive and unhappily formed as an ill-cut agate."
It appears both from the passage just quoted, and from one of Sir John Harrington's epigrams, 4to. 1618, that agates were commonly worn in Shakspeare's time :
The author to a daughter nine years old.
" Yet could I like a noble-minded girl,
" Rich velvet gowns, pendents, and chains of pearle,
cc Cark'nets of agats, cut with rare device," &c. These lines, at the same time that they add support to the old reading, fhew, I think, that the words - vilely cut," are to be understood in their usual sense, when applied to precious stones, viz. awkwardly wrought by a tool, and not, as Mr. Steevens supa poses, grotesquely veined by nature. MALONE.
- 4 vang blown with all winds;] This comparison mighę
If filent, why, a block moved with none.
in fighs, wafte inwardly: It were a better death than die with mocks; Which is as bad as die with tickling.
URs. Yet tell her of it; hear what she will say.
Hero. No; rather I will go to Benedick,
" I may compare a man againe,
- press me to death --] The allusion is to an ancient punish, ment of our law, called peine forte de dure, which was formerly inAided on those persons, who, being indi&ted, refused to plead. In consequence of their filence, they were pressed to death by an heavy weighi laid upon their stomach. This punishment the good sense and humanity of the legislature have within these few years abolished.
4 Which is as bad as die with tickling.) The author meant that tickling should be pronounced as a triflyllable ; tickeling. So, in Spenser, B II. Canto xii.
a strange kind of harmony; " Which Guyon's senses softly tickeled," kc, MALONI.
Urs. O, do not do your cousin such a wrong. She cannot be so much without true judgement, (Having so swift and excellent a wit;s As she is priz’d to have,j as to refuse So rare a gentleman as signior Benedick.
Hero. He is the only man of Italy, Always excepted my dear Claudio.
URS. I pray you, be not angry with me, madam, Speaking my fancy; fignior Benedick, For shape, for bearing, argument, and valour, Goes foremost in report through Italy.
Hero. Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.
URs. His excellence did earn it, ere he had it. When are you married, madam ?
Hero.Why,every day:-to-morrow:Come,go in; I'll show thee some attires; and have thy counsel, Which is the best to furnish ine to-morrow. Urs. She's lim'd' I warrant you; we have caught
her, madam. Hero. If it prove so, then loving goes by haps ;, Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.
[Exeunt Hero and URSULA.
--so swift and excellent a wit] Swift means ready. So, in As you Like it, A& V. sc. iy.
" He is very swift and sententious." Steevens.
argument;] This word seems here to signify discourse, or, the powers of reasoniog. JOHNSON.
Argument, in the present instance, certainly means conversation. So, in King Henry IV. P. I. " It would be argument for a. weck, laughter for a month, and a good jeft for ever.' STEIVENS.
7 She's limid-] She is ensaared and catangled as a sparrow with birdlime. Joinson. So, in The Spanish Tragedy :
" Which sweet conceits are lim'd with ly deceits." The folio reads She's ta'en. STREVENS.