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If low, an agate very vilely cut:?
foul blot,” she only alludes to a drop of ink that may casually fall out of a pen, and spoil a grotesque drawing. Steevens.
7 If low, an agate very vilely cut:7 But why an agate, if low! For what likeness between a little man and an agate? The ancients, indeed, used this stone to cut upon; but very exquisitely. I make no question but the poet wrote:
an aglet very vilely cut: An aglet was a tag of those points, formerly so much in fashion. These tags were either of gold, silver, or brass, according to the quality of the wearer; and were commonly in the shape of little images: or at least had a head cut at the extremity. The French call them, aiguillettes. Mezeray, speaking of Henry IIId's sorrow for the death of the princess of Conti, says, “ portant meme sur les aiguillettes des petites tetes de mort." And as a tall man is before compared to a lance ill-headed; so, by the same figure, a little man is very aptly liken'd to an aglet ill-cut. Warburton.
The old reading is, I believe, the true one. Vilely cut may not only mean awkwardly worked by a tool into shape, but grotesquely veined by nature as it grew. To this circumstance, I suppose, Drayton alludes in his Muses' Elizium:
“With th' agate, very oft that is
“ Cut strangely in the quarry;
“How she herself can vary."
Steevens. Dr. Warburton reads aglet, which was adopted, I think, too hastily by the subsequent editors. I see no reason for departing from the old copy. Shakspeare's comparisons scarcely ever answer completely on both sides. Dr. Warburton asks, “What likeness is there between a little man and an agate.?" No other than that both are small. Our author has himself in another place compared a very little man to an agate. “Thou whorson mandrake, (says Falstaff to his page) thou art fitter to be worn in my cap, than to wait at my heels. I was never so man'd with an agate till now." Hero means no more than this: “If a man be low, Beatrice will say that he is as diminutive and unhappily formed as an ill-cut agate."
It appears both from the passage just quoted, and from one of Sir John Harrington's epigrams, 4to. 1618, that agates were commonly worn in Shakspeare's time:
So turns she every man the wrong side out;
Urs. Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.
Hero. No: not to be so odd, and from all fashions, As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable: But who dare tell her so: If I should speak, She'd mock me into air; O, she would laugh me Out of myself, press me to death with wit. . Therefore let Benedick, like cover'd fire, Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly: It were a better death than die with mocks; Which is as bad as die with tickling.1
Urs. Yet tell her of it; hear what she will say.'
Hero. No; rather I will go to Benedick, And council him to fight against his passion:
The author to a daughter nine years old.
" Yet could I like a noble-minded girl,
« Rich velvet gowns, pendents, and chains of pearle,
“ Cark’nets of agats, cut with rare device,” &c. These lines, at the same time that they add support to the old reading, shew, I think, that the words “ vilely cut,” are to be understood in their usual sense, when applied to precious stones, viz. awkwardly wrought by a tool, and not, as Mr. Steevens supposes, grotesquely veined by nature. Malone. 8 a cane blown with all winds;] This comparison might have been borrowed from an ancient black-letter ballad, intitled A Comparison of the Life of Man:
I may compare a man againe,
“ Indeed so is man's fickle mind.” Steevens. 9- press me to death -] The allusion is to an ancient punishment of our law, called peine fort et dure, which was formerly inflicted on those persons, who, being indicted, refused to plead. In consequence of their silence, they were pressed to death by an heavy weight laid upon their stomach. This punishment the good sense and humanity of the legislature have within these few years abolished. Malone.
1 Which is as bad as die with tickling. The author meant that tickling should be pronounced as a trisyllable; tickeling. So, in Spenser, B. II, Canto xii:
“ a strange kind of harmony;
And, truly, I'll devise some honest slanders
Urs. O, do not do your cousin such a wrong.
Hero. He is the only man of Italy,
Urs. I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,
Hero. Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.
Urs. His excellence did earn it, ere he had it.When are you married, madam?
Hero. Why, every day;-to-morrow: Come, go in; I 'll show thee some attires; and have thy counsel, Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow. Urs. She's lim’d* I warrant you; we have caught her,
madam. Hero. If it prove so, then loving goes by haps: Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.
[Exeunt HERO and URS. BEATRICE advances. Beat. What fire is in mine ears?" Can this be true? · Stand I condemn’d for pride and scorn so much? Contempt, farewel! and maiden pride, adieu!
No glory lives behind the back of such.
2 — so swift and excellent a wit,] Swift means ready. So, in As you Like it, Act V, sc. iv:
“ He is very swift and sententious.” Steevens. 3 — argument,] This word seems here to signify discourse, or, the powers of reasoning. Fohnson.
Argument, in the present instance, certainly means conversation. So, in King Henry IV, P. I:“- It would be argument for a week, laughter for a month, and a good jest for ever.” Steevens. *. 4 She's lim'd-] She is ensnared and entangled as a sparrow with birdlime. Fohnson. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:
“ Which sweet conceits are lim’d with sly deceits." The folio reads-She's ta’en. Steevens.
And, Benedick, love on, I will requite thee;
Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand;6 If thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee
To bind our loves up in a holy band: For others say, thou dost deserve; and I Believe it better than reportingly.
A Room in LEONATO's House.
Enter Don PEDRO, CLAUDIO, BENEDIC K, and LEONATO.
D. Pedro. I do but stay till your marriage be consummate, and then go I toward Arragon.
Claud. I'll bring you thither, my lord, if you 'll vouchsafe me.
D. Pedro. Nay, that would be as great a soil in the new gloss of your marriage, as to show a child his new coat, and forbid him to wear it. I will only be bold with Benedick for his company; for, from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot, he is all mirth; he hath twice or thrice cut Cupid's bow-string, and the little hangman dare not shoot at him:8 he hath a heart as sound as
5 What fire is in mine ears?7 Alluding to a proverbial saying of the common people, that their ears burn, when others are talking of them. Warburton.
The opinion from whence this proverbial saying is derived, is of great antiquity, being thus mentioned by Pliny: “Moreover is not this an opinion generally received, That when our ears do glow and tingle, some there be that in our absence doe talke of us?” Philemon Holland's Translation, B. XXVIII, p. 297, and Brown's Vulgar Errors. Reed.
6 Taming my wild heart to thy loving hand;] This image is taken from falconry. She had been charged with being as wild as haggards of the rock; she therefore says, that wild as her heart is, she will tame it to the hand. Fohnson.
7— as to show a child his new coat, and forbid him to wear it.] So, in Romeo and Juliet:
“ As is the night before some festival,
“ And may not wear them.” Steevens. 8 t he little hangman dare not shoot at him:) This character of Cupid came from the Arcadia of Sir Philip Sidney:
a bell, and his tongue is the clapper; for what his heart thinks his tongue speaks.
Bene. Gallants, I am not as I have been.
D. Pedro. Hang him, truant; there's no true drop of blood in him, to be truly touch'd with love: if he be sad, he wants money.
Bene, I have the tooth-ach.
Bene. Well, Every one can master a grief,1 but he that has it.
Claud. Yet say I, he is in love.
D. Pedro. There is no appearance of fancy in him, unless it be a fancy that he hath to strange disguises;2 as, to be a Dutch-man to-day; a French-man to-morrow; or in the shape of two countries at once,3 as, a German
“ Millions of yeares this old drivell Cupid lives;
“ Till now at length that Jove him office gives,
“In this our world a hangman for to be
B. II, ch. xiv. Farmer. 9- as a bell, and his tongue is the clapper ; &c.] A covert al. lusion to the old proverb:
6 As the fool thinketh
“ So the bell clinketh.” Steevens. I can master a grief,] The old copies read corruptly-cannot. The correction was made by Mr. Pope. Malone.
2 There is no appearance of fancy, Sc.] Here is a play upon the word fancy, which Shakspeare uses for love as well as for humour, caprice, or affectation. Johnson.
3 or in the shape of two countries at once, &c.] So, in The Seven deadly Sinnes of London, by Tho. Decker, 1606, 4to. bl. I. “ For an Englishman's sute is like a traitor's bodie that hath been hanged, drawne, and quartered, and is set up in several places: his codpiece is in Denmarke: the collor of his dublet and the belly, in France: the wing and narrow sleeve, in Italy: the short waste hangs ouer a Dutch botcher's stall in Utrich: his huge