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P. 9. by that fire which burn'd the Carthage queen.] Shakspeare had forgot that Theseus performed his exploits before the Trojan war, and consequently long before the death of Dido.
P. 19. And never, since the middle summer's spring.] middle summer's spring, is, I apprehend, the season when trees put forth their second, or, as they are frequently called, their midsummer shoots. Thus, Evelyn in his Silva : "Cut off all the side boughs, and especially at midsummer, if you spy them breaking out." And again, "Where the rows and brush lie longer than midsummer, unbound, or made up, you endanger the loss of the second spring.” HENLEY.
P. 20. their winter here ;] Here, in this country.-I once inclined to receive the emendation proposed by Mr. Theobald, and adopted by Sir T. Hanmer,-their winter cheer; but perhaps alteration is unnecessary. "Their winter" may mean those sports with which country people are wont to beguile a winter's evening, at the season of Christmas, which, it appears from the next line, was particularly in our author's contemplation. MAL.
Ibid. No night is now with hymn or carol blest :] Since the coming of Christianity, this season, (winter,) in commemora tion of the birth of Christ, has been particularly devoted to festivity. And to this custom, notwithstanding the impropriety, hymn or carol blest certainly alludes. WARB.
Hymns and carols, in the time of Shakspeare, during the season of Christmas, were sung every night about the streets, as a pretext for collecting money from house to house. STE.
P. 20. Therefore the moon, the governess of floods, &c.] The repeated adverb therefore, throughout this speech, I suppose to have constant reference to the first time when it is used. All these irregularities of season happened in consequence of the disagreement between the king and queen of the fairies, and not in consequence of each other. Ideas crowded fast on Shakspeare; and as he committed them to paper, he did not attend to the distance of the leading object from which they took their rise. Mr. Malone concurs with me on this occasion. That the festivity and hospitality attending Christmas, decreased, was the subject of complaint to many of our ludicrous writers.
Ibid. Hyems' chin,] Dr. Grey, not inelegantly, conjectures, that the poet wrote:
-on old Hyems' chill and icy crown.
It is not indeed easy to discover how a chaplet can be placed on the chin.
Thinne is nearer to chinne (the spelling of the old copies) than chill, and therefore, I think, more likely to have been the author's word.
P. 24. And maidens call it, love-in-idleness. It is called, in other counties the "Three-coloured violet," the "Herb of Trinity," "Three faces in a hood," "Cuddle me to you," &c. STE.
Ibid. You draw me, you hard-hearted adamant;
But yet you draw not iron,] I learn from Edward Fenton's Certaine Secret Wonders of Nature, bl. I. 1569, that-"there is now a dayes a kind of adamant which draweth unto it fleshe, and the same so strongly, that it hath power to knit and tie together, two mouthes of contrary persons, and drawe the heart of a man out of his bodie without offendyng any parte of him." STE.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
P.35. No, not to be so odd] I should read, nor to be so odd,&c. M. MASON.
P.61. With candle-wasters ;] This is a very difficult passage, and hath not, I think, been satisfactorily cleared up. The explanation I shall offer, will give, I believe, as little satisfaction; but I will, however, venture it. Candle-wasters is a term of contempt for scholars thus Jonson, in Cynthia's Revels, Act III. sc. ii: "-spoiled by a whoreson book-worm, a candle-waster." The sense then, which I would assign to Shakspeare, is this: "If such a one will patch grief with proverbs,-case or cover the wounds of his grief with proverbial sayings-make misfortune drunk with candle-wasters,-stupify misfortune, or render himself insensible to the strokes of it, by the conversation or lucubrations of scholars; the production of the lamp, but not fitted to human nature." Patch, in the sense of mending a defect or breach, occurs in Hamlet: "O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe, "Should patch a wall, to expel the winter's flaw."
LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST.
P. 30. And wear his colours like a tumbler's hoop.] The conceit seems to be very forced and remote, however it be understood. The notion is not that the hoop wears colours, but that the colours are worn as a tumbler carries his hoop, hanging on one shoulder and falling under the opposite arm.
It was once a mark of gallantry to wear a lady's colours. So, in Cynthia's Revels, by Ben Jonson : "-dispatches his lacquey to her chamber early, to know what her colours are for the day, with purpose to apply his wear that day accordingly," &c. I am informed by a lady who remembers morrisdancing, that the character who tumbled, always carried his hoop dressed out with ribbands, and in the position described. by Dr. Johnson. STE.
P. 51. Still climbing trees in the Hesperides.] Our author had heard or read of "the gardens of the Hesperides," and seems to have thought that the latter word was the name of the garden in which the golden apples were kept; as we say, the gardens of the Tuilleries, &c.
P. 64. Veal, quoth the Dutchman.] I suppose, by veal, she means well, sounded as foreigners usually pronounce that word; and introduced merely for the sake of the subsequent question. MAL.
TAMING OF THE SHREW.
P. 5. I must go fetch the thirdborough.] The office of Thirdborough is the same with that of Constable, except in places where there are both, in which case the former is little more than the constable's assistant. The etymology of the word is uncertain. RITSON.
P. 10. Brach Merriman, the poor cur is emboss'd.] Perhaps. we might read bathe Merriman, which is, I believe, the common practice of huntsmen; but the present reading may stand.
Can any thing be more evident than that imboss'd means swelled in the knees, and that we ought to read bathe? What has the imbossing of a deer to do with that of a hound? Imbossed sores' occur in As you like it; and in King Henry IV. the prince calls Falstaff 'imboss'd rascal !' RITSON.
P.15. Old John Naps of Greece] Read,old John Naps o'th'Green. BLACKSTONE.
P. 17. Or so devote to Aristotle's checks.] Tranio is here descanting on academical learning, and mentions by name six of the seven liberal sciences. I suspect this to be a mis-print, made by some copyist or compositor, for ethicks. The sense confirms it. BLACKSTONE.
P. 59. To pass assurance— -] means to make a conveyance or deed Deeds are by law-writers called, "The common assurances of the realm," because thereby each man's property is assured to him. So in a subsequent scene of this act: "they are busied about a counterfeit assurance."
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
P. 25. and great seas have dried.] So holy writ, &c. alludes to Daniel's judging, when, a young youth,' the two elders in the story of Susannah. Great floods, &c. when Moses smote the rock in Horeb, Exod. xvii. Great seas have dried, &c. refers to the children of Israel passing the Red sea, when miracles had been denied, or not hearkened to, by Pharaoh.
Is good, without a name; vileness is so.] Shakspeare may mean that external circumstances have no power over the real nature of things. Good alone (by itself) without a name (without the addition of titles) is good. Vileness is so (is itself.) Either of them is what its name implies.
"Let's write good angel on the devil's horn,
Good is good, independent on any worldly distinction or title so vileness is vile, in whatever state it may appear.
madonna,] Ital. mistress, dame. So, La maddona, by way of pre-eminence, the Blessed Virgin.
P. 16. a most weak pia mater] The pia mater is the membrane that immediately covers the substance of the brain. STE.
P: 37. Day-light and champian discovers not more :] broad day and an open country cannot make things plainer.
P. 42. Then westward hoe : This is the name of a comedy by T. Decker, 1607. He was assisted in it by Webster, and it was acted with great success by the children of Paul's, on whom Shakspeare has bestowed such notice in Hamlet, that we may be sure they were rivals to the company patronized by himself. STE.
P. 44. Look, where the youngest wren of nine comes.] The women's parts were then acted by boys, sometimes so low in stature, that there was occasion to obviate the impropriety by such kind of oblique apologies. WARB.
The wren generally lays Line or ten eggs at a time, and the last hatched of all birds are usually the smallest and weakest of the whole brood.
P. 49. Play at cherry-pit-] Cherry-pit is pitching cherrystones into a little hole. Nash, speaking of the paint on ladies' faces, says: "You may play at cherry-pit in their cheeks."
P. 50. More matter for a May morning.] It was usual on the first of May to exhibit metrical interludes of the comic kind, as well as the morris-dance.
P. 66. Like to the Egyptian thief, at point of death,
Kill what I love;] In this simile, a particular story is presupposed, which ought to be known to show the justness and propriety of the comparison. It was taken from Heliodorus's Ethiopics, to which our author was indebted for the allusion. This "Egyptian thief" was Thyamis, who was a native of Memphis, and at the head of a band of robbers. Theagenes and Chariclea falling into their hands, Thyamis fell de sperately in love with the lady, and would have married her. Soon after, a stronger body of robbers coming down upon Thyamis's party, he was in such fears for his mistress, that he had her shut into a cave with his treasure. It was customary with those barbarians, when they despaired of their own safety, first to make away with those whom they held dear, and desired for companions in the next life. Thyamis, therefore, benetted round with his enemies, raging with love, jealousy, and anger, went to his cave; and calling aloud in the Egyptian tongue, so soon as he heard himself answered towards the cave's mouth by a Grecian, making to the person by the direction of her voice, he caught her by the hair with his left hand, and (supposing her to be Chariclea) with his right hand plunged his sword into her breast.
P. 71. you must allow vox.) x.] The Clown, we may presume, had begun to read the letter in a very loud tone, and probably with extravagant gesticulation. Being reprimanded by his mistress, he justifies himself by saying, "If you would have it read in character, as such a mad epistle ought to be read, you must permit me to assume a frantic tone." MAL.
P. S. You were pretty lordlings then.] Read lordings.
P. 10. We must be neat ;] Leontes, seeing his son's nose smutch'd, cries, we must be neat; then recollecting that neat is the ancient term for horned cattle,he says, not neat, but cleanly.
P. 11. Affection! thy intention stabs the center] Affection, I believe, signifies imagination. Thus, in the Merchant of Venice: -affection,
"Mistress of passion, sways it," &c.
i. e. imagination governs our passions. Intention is, as Mr. Locke expresses it, "when the mind with great earnestness, and of choice, fixes its view on any idea, considers it on every