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SPEED. Why then, how stands the matter with them?
LAUNCE. Marry, thus; when it stands well with him, it stands well with her.
SPEED. What an ass art thou ? I understand thee not.
Launce. What a block art thou, that thou canst not. My staff understands me?.
SPEED. What thou say'st ?
LAUNCE. Ay, and what I do too: look thee, I'll but lean, and my staff understands me.
SPEED. It stands under thee, indeed.
SPEED. But tell me true, will't be a match ?
LAUNCE. Ask my dog : if he say, ay, it will ; if he say, no, it will; if he shake his tale, and say nothing, it will.
SPEED. The conclusion is then, that it will.
Launce. Thou shalt never get such a secret from me, but by a parable.
SPEED. 'Tis well that I get it so. But, Launce, how say'st thou, that my master is become a notable lover?
2 My staff UNDERSTANDS me.] This equivocation, miserable as it is, has been admitted by Milton in his great poem, b. vi:
The terms we sent were terms of weight,
“ To shew us when our foes stand not upright.” Johnson. The same quibble occurs likewise in the second part of The Three Merry Coblers, an ancient ballad :.
“ Our work doth th' owners understand,
- how say'st thou, that my master is become a notable lover?] i. e. (as Mr. Mason has elsewhere observed) What
Launce. I never knew him otherwise.
LAUNCE. A notable lubber, as thou reportest him to be.
Speed. Why, thou whoreson ass, thou mistaks't me.
LAUNCE. Why, fool, I meant not thee; I meant thy master.
SPEED. I tell thee, my master is become a hot lover.
LAUNCE, Why, I tell thee, I care not though he burn himself in love. If thou wilt go with me to the ale-house, so; if not, thou art an Hebrew, a Jew 4, and not worth the name of a Christian.
Launce. Because thou hast not so much charity in thee, as to go to the ale with a Christian : wilt
SPEED. At thy service.
say'st thou to this circumstance,-namely, that my master is become a notable lover? Malone.
4 If thou wilt go with me to the ale-house, so; if not, thou art an Hebrew, a Jew, &c.] The word so, which is not found in the original copy, was added in the second folio; and though I am extremely doubtful whether it is necessary, I have yet admitted it into the text; because Falstaff, I think, more than once used the same phraseology. But certainly the old copy, without any additional word, is intelligible, if we place a comma after the word wilt. If thou wilt, go with me to the ale-house; if not, &c. If it be thy pleasure, accompany me, &c. In the Sacred Writings we have “ thou wilt ” in the same sense. MALONE.
the Ale-) Ales were merry meetings instituted in country places. Thus, Ben Jonson :
“And all the neighbourhood, from old records
“ We bring you now.”.
or else make merry with their neighbours at the ale.” Again, as Mr. M. Mason observes, in the play of Lord Cromwell:
The Same. A Room in the Palace.
Enter PROTEUS. Pro. To leave my Julia, shall I be forsworn; To love fair Silvia, shall I be forsworn; To wrong my friend, I shall be much forsworn; And even that power, which gave me first my oath, Provokes me to this threefold perjury. Love bad me swear, and love bids me forswear: O sweet-suggesting love?, if thou hast sinn'd, Teach me, thy tempted subject, to excuse it! At first I did adore a twinkling star, But now I worship a celestial sun. Unheedful vows may heedfully be broken; And he wants wit, that wants resolved will To learn his wit to exchange the bad for better.Fie, fie, unreverend tongue! to call her bad, Whose sovereignty so oft thou hast preferr'd With twenty thousand soul-confirming oaths.
“ O Tom, that we were now at Putney, at the ale there!"
See also Mr. T. Warton's History of English Poetry, vol. iii. p. 128. STEEVENS.
It is to be observed, that, in the folio edition there are no directions concerning the scenes ; they have been added by the later editors, and may therefore be changed by any reader that can give more consistency or regularity to the drama by such alterations. I make this remark in this place, because I know not whether the following soliloquy of Proteus is so proper in the street. Johnson.
The reader will perceive that the scenery has been changed, though Dr. Johnson's observation is continued. Steevens.
70 sweet-suggesting love,] To suggest is to tempt in our author's language. So, again :
“Knowing that tender youth is soon suggested.” The sense is, o tempting love, if thou hast influenced me to sin, teach me to excuse it.. Johnson.
I cannot leave to love, and yet I do ;
8 For love is still most precious in itself ;] So the original copy. For most, Mr. Steevens has in his last three editions substituted more.
MALONE. 9 And Silvia, witness heaven, that made her fair !
Shows Julia but a swarthy Ethiope.] So, in Love's Labour's Lost:
“ Thou for whom Jove would swear
“ Juno but an Ethiope were.” MALONE.
- in counsel, his compeTITOR:] Myself, who am his competitor or rival, being admitted to his counsel.
“ Is it not Cæsar's natural vice to hate
“One great competitor?" And he is speaking of Lepidus, one of the triumvirate. STEEVENS.
Steevens is right in asserting, that competitor, in this place, means confederate, or partner.—The word is used in the same sense in Twelfth Night, where the Clown, seeing Maria and Sir Toby approach, who were joined in the plot against Malvolio, says, “ The competitors enter.” And again, in K. Richard III. the messenger says:
Now presently I'll give her father notice
Verona. A Room in JULIA's House.
Enter JULIA and LUCETTA. Jul. Counsel, Lucetta: gentle girl, assist me! And, e'en in kind love, I do conjure thee“,
The Guildfords are in arms, “ And every hour more competitors
“ Flock to the rebels.” So, also, in Love's Labour's Lost:
" The king and his competitors in oath.” M. Mason.
PRETENDED flight;] Pretended flight is proposed or intended flight. So, in Macbeth :
What could they pretend." Mr. M. Mason justly observes, that the verb pretendre in French has the same signification. STEÉVENS.
Again, in Dr. A. Borde's Introduction of Knowledge, 1542, sig. H 3: “I pretend to return and come round about thorow other regyons in Europ." REED.
3 I suspect that the author concluded the act with this couplet, and that the next scene should begin the third act; but the change, as it will add nothing to the probability of the action, is of no great importance. Johnson.
4 And, e’en in kind love, I do CÒNJURE thee,] The verb to conjure, or earnestly request, had the accent on the
first syllable in our author's time. So, in Macbeth :
“I cònjure thee by that which you' profess." Again, in The Winter's Tale:
“ I conjure thee by all the parts of man.