Page images
PDF
EPUB

Ros. That was the way to make his god-head

wax; } For he hath been five thousand years a boy.

KATH. Ay, and a shrewd unhappy gallows too. Ros. You'll ne'er be friends with him; he kill'd

your sister.

KATH. He made her melancholy, sad, and heavy; And so she died: had she been light, like you, Of such a merry, nimble, stirring spirit, She might have been a grandam ere she died : And so may you; for a light heart lives long. Ros. What's your dark meaning, mouse,+ of this

light word? Kath. A light condition in a beauty dark. Ros. We need more light to find your meaning

out.

KATH. You'll mar the light, by taking it in

snuff;s Therefore, I'll darkly end the argument.

3

to make his god-head wax ;] To wax anciently signified to grow. It is yet said of the moon, that she waxes and wanes. So, in Drayton's Polyolbion, Song I:

I view those wanton brooks that waxing still do wane.” Again, in Lyly's Love's Metamorphofes, 1601 :

Men's follies will ever wax, and then what reason can make them wife?” Again, in the Polyolbion, Song V: “ The stem thall strongly wax, as still the trunk doth wither.”

STEEVENS. mouse,] This was a term of endearment formerly. So, in Hamlet : « Pinch wanton on your

cheek; call you

his mouse."

MALONE. taking it in snuff;] Snuff is here used equivocally for an, ger, and the snuff of a candle. See more instances of this conceit in X. Henry IV. P. I. Ac I. sc. iii. STEVENS.

[ocr errors]

6

Ros. Look, what you do, you do it still i' the

dark. KATH. So do not you; for you are a light wench. Ros. Indeed, I weigh not you; and therefore

light. KATH. You weigh me not,-0, that's you care

not for me. Ros. Great reason; for, Past cure is still past

care.
Prin. Well bandied both; a set of wit i well

play'd.
But Rosaline, you have a favour too:
Who sent it? and what is it?
Ros.

I would, you knew :
An if my face were but as fair as yours,
My favour were as great; be witness this.
Nay, I have verses too, I thank Birón:

The numbers true; and, were the numb'ring too,
I were the fairelt goddess on the ground:
I am compar'd to twenty thousand fairs.
O, he hath drawn my picture in his letter !

Prin. Any thing like?

for, Paft cure is fill past care.] The old copy reads—past care is still past cure. The transposition was proposed by Dr. Thirlby, and, it must be owned, is supported by a line in K. Richard II:

Things pait redress are now with me past care." So also in a pamphlet entitled Holland's Leaguer, 4to. 1632 : «She had got this adage in her mouth, Things paft cure, past care. - Yet the following lines in our author's 147th Sonnet seem rather in favour of the old reading :

“ Paft cure I am, now reason is past care,

“ And frantick mad with evermore unreit." MALONE. i — a set of wit -] A term from tennis. So, in K. Henry V :

-play a set
“ Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard.”

Ros. Much, in the letters: ; nothing, in the praise.
Prin. Beauteous as ink; a good conclusion.
Kath. Fair as a text B in a copy-book.
Ros. 'Ware pencils !' How? let me not die your

debtor,
My red dominical, my golden letter:
O, that your face were not so full of O's!!
KATH. A pox of that jest! and beshrew all

Throws !!

'Ware pencils !] The former editions read:

" Were pencilsSir T. Hanmer here rightly restored :

“ 'Ware pencils' Rosaline, a black beauty, reproaches the fair Katharine for painting. JOHNSON.

Johnson mistakes the meaning of this sentence; it is not a reproach, but a cautionary threat. Rosaline says that Biron had drawn her picture in his letter; and afterwards playing on the word letter, Katharine compares her to a text B. Rosaline in reply advises her to beware of pencils, that is of drawing likenesses, left the should retaliate ; which she afterwards does, by comparing her to a red dominical letter, and calling her marks of the small pox oes.

M. MASON. - full of O's!] Shakspeare talks of “ — fiery O's and eyes of light," in A Midsummer-Night's Dream. STEEVENS.

9 Pox of that jeft! and beforew all sorozus !] Pox of that jeft!'' Mr. Theobald is scandalized at this language from a princess. But there needs no alarm--the small pax only is alluded to; with which it seems, Katharine was pitted; or, as it is quaintly expressed, “ her face was full of O's." Davison has a canzonet on his lady's ficknesse of the poxe : and Dr. Donne writes to his sitter : “ at my return from Kent, I found Pegge had the Poxe--I humbly thank God, it hath not much disfigured her.” Farmer.

A pox of that ieft! &c.] This line which in the old copies is given to the princess, Mr. "Theobald rightly attributed to Katharine, The metre, as well as the mode of expression, few that—" I befhrew," the reading of these copies, was a mistake of the transcriber.

MALONS.

8

Prin. But what was sent to you from fair Du.

main ? KATH. Madam, this glove. PRIN.

Did he not send

you

twain KATH. Yes, madam ; and moreover, Some thousand verses of a faithful lover : A huge transation of hypocrisy. Vilely compil'd, profound fimplicity. Mar. This, and these pearls, to me sent Longa

ville; The letter is too long by half a mile. Prin. I think no less; Dost thou not wish in

heart, The chain were longer, and the letter short? Mar. Ay, or I would these hands might never

part. Prin. We are wise girls, to mock our lovers so.

Ros. They are worse fools, to purchase mockThat same Birón I'll torture ere I go. O, that I knew he were but in by the week!3 How I would make him fawn, and beg, and seek

ing fo.

3

2 But what was sent to you from fair Dumain?] The old copies, after But insert Kaibarine. We should therefore read: « But, Katharine, what was sent you from Dumain ?"

Ritson. in by the week!] This I suppose to be an expression taken from hiring servants or artificers; meaning, I wish I was as sure of his service for any time limited, as if I had hired him.

The expreifion was a common one. So, in Vittoria Corombona, : 1612 :

“ What, are you in by the week? So; I will try now whether. thy wit be close prisoner." Again, in 7 he Wit of a IVoman, 1604: “ Since I am in hy the week, let me look to the year."

And wait the season, and observe the times,
And spend his prodigal wits in bootless rhymes;
And shape his service wholly to my behests ;'
And make him proud to make me proud that jests!
So portent-like would I o'ersway his state,
That he should be my fool, and I his fate.

3 -wholly to my behests ;] The quarto, 1598, and the first folio, read—to my device. The emendation, which the rhyme confirms, was made by the editor of the second folio, and is one of the very few corrections of any value to be found in that

copy.

MALONE. Mr. Malone, however, admits three other corrections from the second folio, in this very sheet. STEEVENS.

4 And make him proud to make me proud that iefts!] The meaning of this obscure line seems to be, I would make him proud to flatter me who make a mock of his flattery.

Edinburgh Magazine for Nov. 1786. STIEVENS. 5 So portent-like, &c.] In former copies :

So pertaunt-like, would I o'er-fway his state,

That he should be my fool, and I his fate. In old farces, to show the inevitable approaches of death and de. ftiny, the Fool of the farce is made to employ all his stratagems to avoid Death or Fate; which very stratagems, as they are ordered, bring the Fool, at every turn, into the very jaws of Fate. To this Shakspeare alludes again in Measure for Measure :

merely thou art Death's Fool;
« For him thon labour' by thy flight to foun,

And yet run's towards him still It is plain from all this, that the nonsense of pertaunt-like, should be read, portent-like, i. e. I would be his fate or destiny, and, like a portent, hang over, and influence his fortunes. For portents were not only thought to forebode, but to influence. So the Latins called a person destined to bring mischief, fatale portentum.

WARBURTON. The emendation appeared first in the Oxford edition. MALONE.

Until some proof be brought of the existence of such characters as Death and the Fool, in old farces, (for the mere affertion of Dr. Warburton is not to be relied on,) this passage must be literally understood, independently of any particular allufion. The old reading might probably mean—" so scoffingly would I o'erfway,” &c. The initial letter in Stowe, mentioned by Mr. Reed in Measure for Menfure, here cited, has been altogether misunderstood. It is only

« PreviousContinue »