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915. In the converse of breath, -] Perhaps converse may, in this line, mean interchange.
917. A heavy heart bears not an humble tongue :] Thus all the editions; but, surely, without either sense or truth. None are more humble in speech, than they who labour under any oppression. The princess is desiring her grief may apologize for her not expressing her obligations at large; and my correction is conformable to that sentiment. Besides, there is an antithesis between heavy and nimble; but between heavy and humble, there is none.
The following passage in King John inclines me to dispute the propriety of Theobald's emendation:
-grief is proud, and makes his owner stout." By humble, the princess seems to mean obsequiously thankful. STEEVENS.
922. And often, at his very loose, decides, &c.] At his very loose, may mean, at the moment of his parting, i. e. of his getting loose, or away from us.
So, in some ancient poem, of which I forgot to preserve either the date or title:
"Envy discharging all her pois'nous darts,
"The valiant mind is temper'd with that fire, "At her fierce loose that weakly never parts, "But in despight doth force her to retire."
-which fain it would convince ;] We
which fain would it convince;
that is, the entreaties of love, which would fain overpower grief. So Lady Macbeth declares, "That she will convince the chamberlains with wine." JOHNSON.
932. I understand you not, my griefs are double.] I suppose, she means, 1. on account of the death of her father; 2. on account of not understanding the king's meaning. MALONE.
933. Honest plain words, &c.] As it seems not very proper for Biron to court the princess for the king in the king's presence, at this critical moment, I believe the speech is given to a wrong person. I
Prin. I understand you not, my griefs are double: Honest plain words best pierce the ear of grief.
King. And by these badges, &c. JOHNSON. Too many authors sacrifice propriety to the consequence of their principal character, into whose mouth they are willing to put more than justly belongs to him, or at least the best things they have to say. The original actor of Biron, however, like Bottom in the Midsummer-Night's Dream, might have taken this speech out of the mouth of an inferior performer. STEEVENS.
943. Full of straying shapes,] A late editor reads strange shapes.
So, in our author's Lover's Complaint:
"In him a plenitude of subtle matter,
Applied to cautels, all strange forms receives."
950. Suggested us] That is, tempted us.
961. As Bombast and as lining to the time :] This line is obscure. Bombast was a kind of loose texture not unlike what is now called wadding, used to give the dresses of that time bulk and protuberance, without much increase of weight; whence the same name is given to a tumour of words unsupported by solid sentiment. The princess, therefore, says, that they considered this courtship as but bombast, as something to fill out life, which not being closely united with it, might be thrown away at pleasure. JOHNSON. Prince Henry calls Falstaff, "my sweet creature of bombast." STEEVENS.
971. To make a world-without-end bargain in:] This singular phrase, which Shakspere borrowed probably from our liturgy, occurs again in his 57th Sonnet :
"Nor dare I chide the world-without-end hour."
MALONE. 987. Come challenge, challenge me by these deserts,] The old copies read,
Come challenge me, challenge me by these de
I see no occasion for departing from them. We have many verses in this play equally irregular.
994. Neither entitled in the other's heart.] The quarto, 1598, reads-Neither intiled-; which may be right: neither of us having a dwelling in the heart of the other.
Our author has the same kind of imagery in many
Thus, in the Comedy of Errors:
"Shall love in building grow so ruinate?",
Again, in his Lover's Complaint:
"Love lack'd a dwelling, and made him her
Again, in the Two Gentlemen of Verona:
996. To flatter up inese powers of mine with rest,] Dr. Warburton would read fetter, but flatter or sooth is, in my opinion, more apposite to the king's purpose than fetter. Perhaps we may read,
To flatter on these hours of time with rest ; That is, I would not deny to live in the hermitage, to make the year of delay pass in quiet. JOHNSON. 999. Biron. And what to me, my love, and what to me? Ros. You must be purged too, your sins are
You are attaint with fault and perjury :
A twelvemonth shall you spend, and never rest, But seek the weary beds of people sick.] These six verses both Dr. Thirlby and Mr. Warburton concur to think, should be expunged; not that they were an interpolation, but as the author's first draught,
which he afterwards rejected; and executed the same thought a little lower with much more spirit and elegance. Shakspere is not to answer for the present absurd repetition, but his actor-editors; who, thinking Rosaline's speech too long in the second plan, had abridged it to the lines above quoted; but, in publishing the play, stupidly printed both the original speech of Shakspere, and their own abridgment of it. THEOBALD.
1000. -are rank;] The folio and quarto, 1631, read-are rack'd.
fierce endeavour-] Fierce is vehement,
1047. dear groans,] Dear should here, as in many other places, be dere, sad, odious. JOHNSON. I believe dear in this place, as in many others, means only immediate, consequential. So, already, in this scene:
full of dear guiltiness.
1054. The characters of Biron and Rosaline suffer much by comparison with those of Benedick and Beatrice. We know that Love's Labour's Lost was the elder performance; and as our author grew more experienced in dramatick writing, he might have seen how much he could improve on his own originals. To this circumstance, perhaps, we are indebted for the more perfect comedy of Much Ado about Nothing. STEEVENS.