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In law, what plea so tainted and corrupt,
milk? And these assume but valour's excrement,5 To render them redoubted. Look on beauty, 6
gracious voice,] Pleasing ; winning faJOHNSON. 3 Will bless it, and approve it, &c.] Bless seems to be here used in the sense of- -Sanctify, make regarded as sacred. E.
-approve it] i.e. justify it. So, in Antony and Cleopatra :
-I am full sorry “ That he approves the common liar, famre."
STEEVENS. -valour's excrement,] i.e. what a little higher is called the beurd of Hercules. So, “Pedlar's excrement,"
;" in the Winter's Tale. MALONE.
- Look on beauty, &c.] This passage, at first view, seems pretty obscure, but, by beauty is,
And you shall see 'tis purchas'd by the weight;
meant only artificial beauty, which is procured by painting, and is mere adscititious show and ornament superinduced upon true and real nature, like that false hair, the mention of which immediately follows. This factitious beauty, though purchased by weight, the more of it is laid on, the more lightness it indicates in the wearer. HEATH. .
7 So are those crisped snaky golden locks,] The five lines which follow are expressed with an uncommon degree of elegance; and, in the concluding one, there is a certain air of melancholy connected with the use of the absolute case, that is very sweet and affecting. See Appendix. E.
-crisped-] i. e. curled. So, in The Philosopher's Satires, by Robert Anton : • Her face as beauteous as the crisped morn.”
STEEVENS. -the guiled shore] i. e. the treacherous shore. I should not have thought the word wanted explanation, but that some of our modern editors have rejected it, and read gilded. Guiled is the reading of all the ancient copies.' Shakspeare in this instance, as in many others, confounds the participles. Guiled stands for guiling. STEEVENS.
To a most dangerous sea ; the beauteous scarf
To entrap the wisest. Therefore, thou gaudy
gold, Hard food for Midas, I will none of thee:
Guilded shore, in the folio of 1632, and in Sir T. Hanmer: Guiled shore in Mr. Theobald's 2d edit. Guilded or gilded seems to be the true reading from the subsequent lines. DR. GREY.
Gilded, (corrupted in some editions to- -Guiled) is a well chosen epithet ; expressing the glitter of cliffs and rocks, and of the sea's beach, when the sun lies upon them. Capell.
If gilded be, indeed, the right word, it may, perhaps, bear an allusion to the golden locks just before mentioned. E. « Guiled shore” is deceived shore.
We must read guiling shore, i. e, deceitful.
CONCORD. TO SHAKSPEARE. -Indian beauty ;] Sir Tho. Hanmer reads :
Indian dowdy." JOHNSON. If we lay the stress upon Indian we shall have no occasion, with the Oxford Editor, to change the following word to dowdy. CAPELL.
One of the causes, no doubt, for suspecting a corruption here is that the words beauteous and beauty come so close together, but in that the writer might have designed something like an antithesis. E.
-cunning times) Must, I think, be understood to mean those seasons in which cunning finds itself under a temptation to exert itself, and prac tice deceit. E.
Nor none of thee, thou pale and common
drudge 'Tween man and man: but thou, thou meager
lead, Which rather threat'nest, than dost promise
aught, Thy plainness moves me more than eloquence,2
2 Thy plainness moves me, &c.] The old copies read-paleness. STEEVENS.
Bassanio is displeased at the golden casket for its gaudiness, and the silver one for its paleness; but what! is he charmed with the leaden one for having the very same quality that displeased him in the silver ? The poet certainly wrote:
Thy plainness moves me more than eloquence :" This characterizes the lead from the silver, which paleness does not, they being both pale. Besides, there is a beauty in the antithesis between plainness and eloquence ; between paleness and eloquence none. So it is said before of the leaden casket : “ This third, dull lead, with warning all as blunt.”
WARBURTON Opposition between the terms that compose it appearing manifestly the intention in this line, " palines" (the word of the original quarto) must have been a corruption, and that for “plainness,” in the manuscript plaines. CAPELL. It may
be that Dr. Warburton has altered the wrong word, if any alteration be necessary. I would rather give the character of silver,
-Thou stale, and common drudge « 'Tween man and man.' The puleness of lead is for ever alluded to. “Diane declining, pale as any ledde."
Says And here choose I; Joy be the consequence !
Por. How all the other passions fleet to air !3 As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embrac'd despair,
Says Stephen Hawes. In Fairfur's Tasso, we have
« The lord Tancredie, pale with rage as lead.” Again, Sackville, in his Legend of the Duke of Buckingham :
“ Now pale as lead, now cold as any stone." And in the old ballad of the King and the Beggur:
She blushed scarlet red, “ Then straight again, as pale as lead." As to the antithesis, Shakspeare has already made it in the Midsummer-Nights Dream : “ When (says Theseus) I have seen great clerks
look pale, “ I read as much, as from the rattling tongue “ Of saucy and audacious eloquence.” FARMER.
By laying an emphasis on Thy, [Thy paleness moves me, &c.) Dr. Warburton's objection is obviated. Though Bassanio might object to silver, that “pale and common drudge,” lead, though pale also, yet not being in daily use, might, in his opinion, deserve a preference. I have therefore great doubts concerning Dr. Warburton's emendation.
MALONE. Theobald, Hanmer, Johnson, and Capell, as well as the editions of Mr. Steevens and Mr. Reed, have all admitted the reading of Dr. Warburton into the text. E.
3 How all the other passions fleet to air!] Notwith, standing that dramas coniposed in rhyme have been justly censured, the use of it deserves not, perhaps, to be altogether banished from the stage: Here, in particular, the rhymes have, I cannot belp thinking, a very pleasing effect, as seeming strongly expressive of joy and exultation. E.