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King. Well, fit you out:'go home, Biron ; adicu!
Biron. No, my good lord; I have sworn to stay And, though I have for barbarism spoke more,
Than for that angel knowledge you can say, Yet confident I'll keep what I have swore,
And bide the penance of each three years' day. Give me the paper, let me read the fame; And to the strict'st decrees I'll write my name. King. How well this yielding rescues thee from
shame! Biron. [Reads.] Item, That no woman fhall come within a mile of my court.And hath this been proclaim'd? Long.
Four days ago.
Who deyis'd this?
you out :] This may mean, hold you out, continue rea fractory. But I suspect, we should read—Jet you out. MALONE.
To fit out, is a term from the card-table. Thus Bishop Sanderson;
game." The person who cuts out at a rubber of whift, is still said to fite kut; i. e. to be no longer engaged in the party. Steevens,
6 Who devis'd this?] The old copies read—this penalty. I have omitted this needless repetition of the word penalıy, because it deftroys the measure. STEEVENS.
i A dangerous law against gentility!) I have ventured to prefix the name of Biron to this line, it being evident, for two reasons, that it, by some accident or other, Dipt out of the printed books. Is the first place, Longaville confefies, he bad devised the penalty :
[Reads.] Item, If any man be seen to talk with a woman within the term of three years, be shall endure such publick shame as the rest of the court can possibly devise. This article, my liege, yourself must break;
For, well you know, here comes in embassy The French king's daughter, with yourself to
speak,A maid of grace, and complete majesty, About surrender-up of Aquitain
To her decrepit, fick, and bed-rid father:
Or vainly comes the admired princess hither.
King. We must, of force, dispense with this deShe must lie here? on mere necessity.
and why he should immediately arraign it as a dangerous law, seems to be very inconsistent. In the next place, it is much more natural for Biron to make this reflexion, who is cavilling at every thing; and then for him to pursue his reading over the remaining articles. -As to the word gentility, here, it does not signify that rank of people called, gentry; but what the French express by, gentilele, i. e. elegantia, urbanitas. And then the meaning is this : Such a law for banishing women from the court, is dangerous, or injurious, to politeness, urbanity, and the more refined pleasures of life. For men without women would turn brutal, and savage, in their natures and behaviour. THEOBALD.
? - lie here -] Means reside here, in the same sense as an ambassador is said to lie leiger. See Beaumont and Fletcher's Love's Ciore, or the Martial Maid, A& II. sc. ii :
Biron. Necessity will make us all forsworn Three thousand times within this three years'
space: For every man with his affects is born;
Not by might master'd, but by special grace: If I break faith, this word shall speak for me, I am forsworn on mere necessity.So to the laws at large I write my name:[Subscribes.
And he, that breaks them in the least degree, Stands in attainder of eternal shame:
Suggestions are to others, as to me; But, I believe, although I seem so loth, I am the last that will last keep his oath. But is there no quick recreation o granted ? King. Ay, that there is : our court, you know,
is haunted With a refined traveller of Spain; A man in all the world's new fashion planted,
That hath a mint of phrafes in his brain:
“ Or did the cold Muscovite beget thee,
“ That lay here leiger, in the last great froft ?” Again, in Sir Henry Wotton's Definition: “An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie (i. e. reside) abroad for the good of his country." REED.
8 Not by might master'd, but by Special grace:] Biron, amidt his extravagances, speaks with great juftness against the folly of vows, They are made without fufficient regard to the variations of life, and are therefore broken by some unforeseen necessity. They proceed commonly from a presumptuous confidence, and a false estimate of human power. JOHNSON.
9 Suggestions - Temptations. Johnson. So, in K. Henry IV. P. I:
“ And these led on by your suggestion.” Steevens. 1- quick recreation-] Lively sport, spritely diversion.
JOHNSON So, in Antony and Cleopatra :
- the quick comedians
One, whom the musick of his own vain tongue
Doth ravish, like enchanting harmony; A man of complements, whom right and wrong
Have chofe as umpire of their mutiny ::
3 A man of complements, whom right and wrong
Have chose as umpire of their mutiny :) As very bad a play as this is, it was certainly Shakspeare's, as appears by many fine master-strokes scattered up and down. An excessive complaisance is here admirably painted, in the person of one who was willing to make even right and wrong friends: and to perfuade the one to recede from the accustomed stubbornness of her nature, and wink at the liberties of her opposite, rather than he would incur the imputation of ill-breeding in keeping up the quarrel. And as our author, and Jonson his contemporary, are confessedly the two greatest writers in the drama that our nation could ever boast of, this may be no improper occasion to take notice of one material difference between Shakspeare's worst plays and the other's. Our author owed all to his prodigious natural genius; and Jonfon moft to his acquired parts and learning. This, if attended to, will explain the difference we speak of. Which is this, that, in Jonson's bad pieces, we do not discover the least traces of the author of the Fox and Alchemist; but in the wildest and most extravagant notes of Shakspeare, you every now and then encounter strains that recoge nize their divine composer. And the reason is this, that Jonson owing his chief excellence to art, by which he sometimes ftrained himself to an uncommon pitch, when he unbent himfelf, had nothing to support him; but fell below all likenefs of himself; while Shakspeare, indebted more largely to nature than the other to his acquired talents, could never, in his moft negligent hours, foto tally divest himself of his genius, but that it would frequently break out with amazing force and splendour. WARBURTON.
This passage, I believe, means no more than that Don Armado was a man nicely versed in ceremonial diftinctions, one who could distinguish in the moft delicate questions of honour the exact boundaries of right and wrong. Compliment, in Shakspeare's time, did not fignify, at least did not only fignify verbal civility, or phrases of courtesy, but according to its original meaning, the trappings, or ornamental appendages of a character, in the same manner, and on the same principles of speech with accomplishment. Complement is, as Armado well expresies it, the varnish of a complete man.
JOHNSON. Dr. Johnson's opinion may be supported by the following pairage in Lingua, or The Combat of the Tongue and the five Senfes for Superiority, 1607:4" after all fashions and of all colours, with rings,
This child of fancy,4 that Armado hight,
For interim to our studies, shall relate,
From tawny Spain, loft in the world's debate.“
jewels, a fan, and in every other place, odd complements.” And
--adorned with the exacteft complements belonging to everlafting nobleness.” STEEVENS.
Thus, in Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio calls Tybalt, “the Captain of complements.” M. Mason.
4 This child of fancy,] This fantastick. The expression, in ano. ther sense, has been adopted by Milton in his L'Allegro:
" Or fweetest Shakspeare, Fancy's child," MALONE. 5 That Armado hight,] Who is called Armado. MALONE.
6 From tawny Spain, loft in the world's debate.] i. e. he shall relate to us the celebrated itories recorded in the old romances, and in their very ftile. Why he says from tawny Spain is, because those romances, being of Spanish original, the heroes and the scene were generally of that country. Why he says, loft in the world's debate is, because the subject of those romances were the crusades of the European Chriftians against the Saracens of Asia and Africa.
WARBURTON. I have suffered this note to hold its place, though Mr. Tyrwhitt has shewn that it is wholly unfounded, because Dr. Warburton re fers to it in his dissertation at the end of this play. MALONE.
in the world's debate.] The world seems to be used in a monastick sense by the king, now devoted for a time to a monastic life. In the world, in feculs, in the bustle of human affairs, from which we are now happily fequeftred, in the world, to which the votaries of solitude have no relation. JOHNSON.
Warburton's interpretation is clearly preferable to that of Johnson. The King had not yet fo weaned himself from the world, as to adopt the language of a cloister. M. Mason,
And I will use him for my minstrelly.] i. e. I will make a minArel of him, whose occupation was to rclate fabulous stories.