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So pertaunt-like, would I o'er-sway his state,
That he should be my fool, and I his fate.
merely thou art Death's Fool;
“ And yet run'st towards him still.".
JOHNSON 224. None are so, &c.] These are observations worthy of a man who has surveyed human nature with the closest attention.
JOHNSON. 243. Saint Dennis to saint Cupid !--] The princess of France invokes, with too much levity, the patron of her country, to oppose his power to that of Cupid.
-spleen ridiculous -] is a ridiculous fit.
· 277. Like Muscovites, or Russians : as I guess,] A. mask of Muscovites was no uncommon recreation at court long before our author's time. In the first year of King Henry the Eighth, at a banquet made for the foreign ambassadors in the parliament-chamber at Westminster, “ came the lorde Henry, earle of Wiltshire, and the lorde Fitzwater, in twoo long gounes of yellowe satin travarsed with white satin, and in every ben of white was a bend of crimosen satin, after the fashion of Russia or Ruslande, with furred hattes of grey, on their hedes, either of them havying a hatchet in their handes, and bootes with pykes turned up." Hall, Henry VIII, p. 6. This extract may serve to convey an idea of the dress used
present occasion by the king and his lords at the performance of the play.
REMARKS. 315. Beauties no richer than rich taffata.] i... the taffata masks they wore to conceal themselves. All the editors concur to give this line to Biron; but, surely, very absurdly; for he's one of the zealous admirers, and hardly would make such an inference. Boyet is sneering at the parade of their address, is in the secret of the ladies' stratagem, and makes himself sport at the absurdity of their proem, in complimenting their beauty, when they were masked. It therefore comes from him with the utinost propriety.
THEOBALD. 342. To tread a measure
-] The measures were dances solemn and slow. They were performed at court, and at publick entertainments of the societies of law and equity, at their halls, on particular occa. sions. It was formerly not deemed inconsistent with propriety even for the gravest persons to join in them; and accordingly at the revels which were celebrated at the inns of court, it has not been unusual for the first characters in the law to become performers in treading the measures. To confirm this account, Mr. Reed refers to Dugdale's Origines Juridicales, and cites the following passage from Sir John Davies's poem called Orchestra, 1622 :
“ But after these as men more civil grew,
“ He did more grave and solemn measures frame : " With such fair order and proportion true,
“ And correspondence ev'ry way the same, “ That no fault-finding eye did ever blame,
“ For ev'ry eye was moved at the sight,
“ Which on the stars did all their lifetime look, “ Could ever find such measure in the skies,
“ So full of change, and rare varieties; “ Yet all the feet whereon these measures go, “ Are only spondees, solemn, grave, and slow.""
EDITOR. 363. Vouchsafe, bright moon, and these thy stars,-) When queen Elizabeth asked an ambassador how he liked her ladies, It is hard, said he, to judge of stars in the presence of the sun.
- 398. Since you can cog, -] To cog, signifies to falsify the dice, and to falsify a narrative, or to lye.
JOHNSON. 439. Well-liking wits-] Well-liking is the same as en bon point. So, in Job, ch. xxxix, v. 4. “ Their young ones are in good-liking."
-better wits have worn plain statute-caps. ] This line is not universally understood, because every reader does not know that a statute-cap is part of the academical habit. Lady Rosaline declares that her expectation was disappointed by these courtly students, and that better wits might be found in the common places of education.
JOHNSON. Ros. Well, better wits have worn plain statute-caps.] Woollen caps were enjoined by act of parliament, in the year 1571, the 13th of queen Elizabeth. " Be. sides the bills passed into acts this parliament, there was one which I judge not amiss to be taken notice of it concerned the queen's care for employment for her poor sort of subjects. It was for continuance of making and wearing woollen caps, in behalf of the trade of cappers ; providing, that all above the age of six years (except the nobility and some others) should on sabbath-days and holy days, wear caps of wool, knit, thicked, and drest in England, upon penalty of ten groats.”
GREY. This act may account for the distinguishing mark of Mother Red-Cap. I have observed that mention made of this sign by some of our ancient pamphleteers and play-writers, as far back as the date of the act.
referred to by Dr. Grey. If that your cap be wool became a proverbial saying. So, in Hans Beer-Pot, a comedy, 1618:
“ You shall not flinch; if that your cap be wool, « You shall along."
STEEVENS. I think my own interpretation of this passage is right.
JOHNSON. Probably the meaning ismbetter wits may be found among the citizens, who are not, in general, remark. able for sallies of imagination. In Marston's Dutch Courtezan, 1605, Mrs. Mulligrub says,my husband be a citizen, and his cap's made of wool, yet
I have wit." Again, in the Family of Love, 1608 : " 'Tis a law enacted by the common-council of
statute-caps." Again, in Newes from Hell, brought by the Devil's Carrier, 1606:
in a bowling alley in a flat cap like a shopkeeper."
STEVENS. 469. Fair ladies, mask'd, are roses in their bud;
Disinask'd, their damask sweet commixture shewn,
Are angels veiling clouds, or roses blown.]
Fair ladies masked are roses in their bud:
Dismask'd, thcir damask sweet commixture shewn. But he, willing to shew how well he could improve a thought, would print it,