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Long. I am resolv'd: 'tis but a three years' fast; The mind shall banquet, though the body pine: Fat paunches have lean pates; and dainty bits Make rich the ribs, but bank’rout quite the wits.
Dum. My loving lord, Dumain is mortified: The grosser manner of these world's delights He throws upon the gross world's baser slaves : To love, to wealth, to pomp, I pine and die ; With all these living in philofophy.'
Biron. I can but say their protestation over, So much, dear liege, I have already sworn, That is, To live and study here three years. But there are other ftrict observances : As, not to see a woman in that term; Which, I hope well, is not enrolled there : And, one day in a week to touch no food; And but one meal on every day beside ; The which, I hope, is not enrolled there : And then, to sleep but three hours in the night, And not be seen to wink of all the day, (When I was wont to think no harm all night, And make a dark night too of half the day ;) Which, I hope well, is not enrolled there. O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keepi Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep.*
3 With all these living in philofophy.] The style of the rhyming scenes in this play is often entangled and obscure. I know not certainly to what all these is to be referred; I suppose he means, that he finds love, pomp, and wealth in philosophy. Johnson.
By all these, Dumain means the King, Biron, &c. to whom he may be supposed to point, and with whom he is going to live in philosophical retirement. A. C.
4 Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep.] The words as they ftand, will express the meaning intended, if pointed thus :
Not to see ladies — ftudy — fait — not sleep. Biron is recapitulating the several talks imposed upon him viz. not to see ladies, to study, to fast, and not to fleep: but Shakļpcare, by a common poetical license, though in this passage injudicioully
King. Your oath is pass’d to pass away from these.
Biron. Let me say, no, my liege, an if you please; I only swore, to study with your grace, And stay here in your court for three years' space.
Long. You swore to that, Biron, and to the rest. Biron. By yea and nay, sir, then I swore in jeft.-What is the end of study? let me know. King. Why, that to know, which else we should
not know. Biron. Things hid and barr'd, you mean, from
common sense? KING. Ay, that is study's god-like recompense.
Biron. Come on then, I will swear to study fo,
When I to feast expressly am forbid ;s
When mistresses from common sense are hid:
King. These be the stops that hinder study quite, And train our intellects to vain delight.
exercised, omits the article to, before the three laft verbs, and from hence the obscurity arises. M. MASON. 5 When I to feast expressly am forbid;] The copies all have:
When I to fast expressly am forbid; But if Biron studied where to get a good dinner, at a time when he was forbid to faft, how was this studying to know what he was forbid to know ? Common sense, and the whole tenour of the context require us to read-feaft, or to make a change in the last word of the verse :-" When I to fast expressly am fore-bid;” i. e. when I am enjoined before-hand to fait. THEOBALD.
If fudy's gain be thus, and this be so,] Read :
Biron. Why, all delights are vain; but that most
vain, Which, with pain purchas'd, doth inherit pain : As, painfully to pore upon a book,
To seek the light of truth; while truth the while Doth falsely blind the eyesight of his look:
Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile: So, ere you find where light in darkness lies, Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes. Study me how to please the eye indeed,
By fixing it upon a fairer eye;
And give him light that was it blinded by.
That will not be deep search'd with saucy looks; Small have continual plodders ever won,
Save base authority from others' books. These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights,
That give a name to every fixed star, Have no more profit of their shining nights,
Than those that walk, and wot not what they are. Too much to know, is, to know nought but fame; And every godfather can give a name.*
while truth the while Doth falsely blind - Falsely is here, and in many other places, the same as dishonestly or treacherously. The whole sense of this gingling declamation is only this, that a man by too close ftudy may read himself blind, which might have been told with less obscurity in fewer words. JOHNSON, ? Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed,
And give him light that was it blinded by.) This is another pafCage unnecessarily obscure: the meaning is, that when he dazzles, that is, has his eye made weak, by fixing his eye npon a fairer eye, that fairer eye shall be his heed, his direction or lode-ftar, (See Midsummer Night's Dream) and give him light that was blinded by it.
JOHNSON. The old copies read it was. Corrected by Mr. Steevens.
MALONE. . Too much to know, is, to know nought but fame;
And every godfather con give a name.) Tbe consequence, says
King. How well he's read, to reason against
reading! Dum. Proceeded well, to stop all good proceed
ing!' Long. He weeds the corn, and still lets grow the
weeding. Biron. The spring is near, when green geese are
a breeding. Dum. How follows that? Biron.
Fit in his place and time. Dum. In reason nothing. BIRON.
Something then in rhime. Long. Biron is like an envious sneaping frost,"
That bites the first-born infants of the spring. Biron. Well, say I am; why should proud sum
mer boast, Before the birds have any cause to sing ? Why should I joy in an abortive birth? At Christmas I no more desire a rose, Than with a snow in May's new-fangled shows; But like of each thing, that in season grows.'
Biron, of too much knowledge, is not any real solution of doubts, but mere empty reputation. That is, too much knowledge gives only fame, a name which every godfather can give likewise. Johnson.
9 Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding!] To proceed is an academical term, meaning, to take a degree, as he proceeded bachelor in phyfick. The sense is, he has taken bis degrees in the art of bindering the degrees of others. JOHNSON.
I don't suspect that Shakspeare had any academical term in contemplation, when he wrote this line. He has proceeded well, means only, he has gone on well. M. Mason.
sneaping froft,] So sneaping winds in The Winter's Tale : To sneap is to check, to rebuke. Thus also, Falstaff, in K. Henry IV. P. II : “ I will not undergo this sneap, without reply." STEEVENS. 3 Why should I joy in an abortive birth?
At Christmas I no more defi:e a rose,
So you, to study now it is too late,
of this scene (both what precedes and follows) is strictly in rhimes, either fuccellive, alternate, or triple, I am persuaded, that the copyists have made a lip here. For by making a triplet of the three last lines quoted, birth in the close of the first line is quite destitute of any rhime to it. Besides, what a displeasing identity of sound recurs in the middle and close of this verse?
Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled shows : Again ; new fangled shows feems to have very little propriety. The flowers are not new-fangled; but the earth is new-fangled by the profusion and variety of the flowers, that spring on its bofom in May. I have therefore ventured to substitute earth, in the close of the third line, which restores the alternate measure. It was very easy for a negligent transcriber to be deceived by the Thime immediately preceding: so miftake the concluding word in the fequent line, and corrupt it into one that would chime with the other. THEOBALD.
I rather suspect a line to have been loft after " an abortive birth." For an in that line the old copies have any. Corrected by Mr. Pope. MALONE.
By these foows the poet means Maygames, at which a fnow would be very unwelcome and unexpected. It is only a periphrafis for May. T. Warton.
I have no doubt that the more obvious interpretation is the true one. So, in Chaucer's Knightes Tale :
** And fresher than May with floures new,". So also, in our poet's K. Richard II:
" She came adorned hither, like sweet May.” i. e. as the ground is in that month enamelled by the gay diversity of flowers which the spring produces.
Again, in The Destruction of Troy, 1619: “ At the entry of the month of May, when the earth is attired and adorned with diverse flowers,” &c. MALONE.
I concur with Mr. Warton : for with what propriety can the flowers which every year produces with the same identical shape and colours, be called-new-fangled? The sports of May might be annually diversified, but its natural productions would be invariably the same. Steevens.
4 Climb o'er the house, &c.] This is the reading of the quarto, 1598, and much preferable to that of the folio" That were to climb o'er the house to unlock the gate.”