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Cost. We will turn it finely off, fir; we will take some care.
[Exit CostaRD. King. Biron, they will shame us, let them not
approach. Biron. We are shame-proof, my lord: and 'tis
some policy To have one show worse than the king's and his
company. King. I say, they shall not come. Prin. Nay, my good lord, let me o'er-rule you
That sport best pleases, that doth leaft know how :
• That sport beft pleafes, which doth leaft know how:
IV here zeal strives to content, and the contents
Their form, &c.] The old copies read—of that which it presents. STEEVENS. The third tine may be read better thus :
- the contents Die in the zeal of him which them presents. This sentiment of the Princess is very natural, but less generous than that of the Amazonian Queen, who says, on a like occasion, in The Midsummer Night's Dream:
“ í love not to fee wretchedness o'ercharg'd,
“ Nor duty in his service perishing,” Johnson. This passage, as it stands, is unintelligible.-- Johnson's amendment makes it grammatical, but does not make it sense. What does he mean by the contents which die in the zeal of him who presents them? The word content, when fignifying an affection of the mind, has no plural. Perhaps we should read thus :
Where zeal strives to content, and the content
Lies in the zeal of those which it present A fimilar sentiment, and on a similar occasion, occurs in A Midsummer Night's Dream, when Philoftrate says of the play they were about to exhibit:
Biron. A right description of our sport, my lord.
It is nothing,
sport in their intents
To do you service. M. Mason. 'The quarto, 1598, and the folio, 1623, read of that which it presents. The context, I think, clearly shows that them (which, as the passage is unintelligible in its original form, I have ventured to substitute,) was the poet's word. Which for who is common in our author; So, (to give one instance out of many,) in The Merchant of Venice,
-a civil doctor,
“ Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me.” and ym and yt were easily confounded : nor is the false concord in. ' troduced by this reading (of them who presents it,) any objection to it; for every page of these plays furnishes us with examples of the same kind. So dies in the present line, for thus the old copy reads; though here, and in almott every other passage where a fimilar corruption occurs, I have followed the example of my predecessors, and corrected the error. Where rhymes or metre, however, are concerned, it is impossible. Thus we must still read in Cymbeline, lies, as in the line before us, presents :
“ And Phæbus 'gins to rise.
" On chalic'd flowers that lies." Again, in the play before us:
“ That in this spleen ridiculous appears,
“ To check their folly, passion's solemn tears." Again, in The Merchant of Venice:
“ Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect.” Dr. Johnson would read
Die in the zeal of him which them presents. But him was not, I believe, abbreviated in old Mss. and therefore not likely to have been confounded with that.
The word it, I believe, refers to sport. That Sport, says the princess, pleafes beft, where the actors are least skilful; where zal Arives to please, and the contents, or, (as these exhibitions are immediately afterwards called) great things, great attempts, perih in the very ad of being produced, from the ardent zeal of those who present the Sportive entertainment. To“ present a play" is still the phrase of the theatre. It however may refer to contents, and that word may mean the most material part of the exhibition. Malone,
7-labouring perish in their birth.) Labouring here means, iz tbe ad of parturition. So Roscommon:
Arm. Anointed, I implore so much expence of thy royal sweet breath as will utter a brace of words. [ARMADO converses with the King, and delivers
bim a paper.] PRIN. Doth this man serve God? Biron. Why ask you? Prin. He speaks not like a man of God's mak
ing. Arm. That's all one, my fair, sweet, honey monarch: for, I protest, the school-master is exceeding fantastical; too, too vain; too, too vain: But we will put it, as they say, to fortuna della guerra. I wish you the peace of mind, most royal couplement! 9
[Exit ARMADO. King. Here is like to be a good presence of worthies : He presents Hector of Troy; the swain, Pompey the great; the parish curate, Alexander; Armado's page, Hercules; the pedant, Judas Macchabæus. And if these four worthiesa in their first show
thrive, These four will change habits, and present the
" The mountains labour'd, and a mouse was born."
MALONE. . : Enter Armado.] The old copies read-Enter Braggart.
STEEVENS. 9 I wish you the peace of mind, most royal couplement !] This fingular word is again used by our author in his 21 ft Sonnet :
“ Making a couplement of proud compare—" MALONE. ? And if these four worthies, &c.] These two lines might have been designed as a ridicule on the conclusion of Selimus, a tragedy,
Biron. There is five in the first show.
Biron. The pedant, the braggart, the hedge-
again, Cannot prick out five such, take each one in his
“: If this first part, gentles, do like you well,
STEEVENS. I rather think Shakspeare alludes to the shifts to which the actors were reduced in the old theatres, one person often performing two or three parts. Malone.
3 Abate a throw at novum ;] Novum (or novem) appears from the following passage in Green's Art of Legerdemain, 1612, to have been some game at dice: “ The principal use of them (the dice) is at novum, &c. 'Again, in The Bell-man of London, by Decker, 5th edit. 1640: “ The principal use of langrets is at novum; for so long as a payre of bard cater treas be walking, so long can you cast neither s nor 9—for without cater treay, 5 or 9, you can never come.” Again, in A Woman never Vex’d: «'What ware deal you in ? cards, dice, bowls, or pigeon-holes; fort them yourselves, either passage, novum, or mum-chance.” Steevens.
Abate throw is the reading of the original and authentick copies; the quarto, 1598, and the folio, 1623.
A bare throw, &c. was an arbitrary alteration made by the editor of the second folio. I have added only the article, which seems to have been inadvertently omitted. I suppose the meaning is, Except or put the chance of the dice out of the question, and the world cannot produce five such as these. Abate, from the Fr. abatre, is used again by our author, in the same sense, in All's well that ends well:
those 'bated, that inherit but the fall “ Of the last monarchy." “ A bare throw at novum” is to me unintelligible. MALONE. * Cannot prick out, &c.] Dr. Grey proposes to read pick out.
Pageant of the Nine Worthies.s
Enter Costarp arm’d, for Pompey.
Cost. I Pompey am,-
You lie, you are not he.
With libbard's head on knee..
So, in King Henry IV. P.I: “ Could the world pick thee out three such enemies again?" The old reading, however, may be right. To prick out, is a phrase still in use among gardeners. To prick may likewise have reference to vein. STEEVENS.
Pick is the reading of the quarto, 1598: Cannot prick out,—that of the folio, 1623. Our author uses the same phrase in his 20th Sonnet, in the same sense ;-cannot point out by a puncture or mark. Again, in Julius Cæfar: “ Will you be prick'd in number of our friends ?”
MALONE. To prick out, means to choose out, or to mark as chosen. The word, in this sense, frequently occurs in the Second Part of King Henry IV. where Falstaff receives his recruits from Justice Shallow:
“ Here's Wart-Shall I prick him, Sir John?
M. Mason. s Pageant of the Nine Worthies.] In MS. Harl. 2057, p. 31. is « The order of a showe intended to be made Aug. 1, 1621."
“ First, 2 woodmen, &c.
9 worthies in compleat armor with crownes of gould on their heads, every one having his esquires to beare before him his shield and penon of armes, dressed according as these lords were accustomed to be: 3 Affaralits, 3 Infidels, 3 Christians.
“ After them, a Fame, to declare the rare virtues and noble deedes of the 9 worthye women.”
Such a pageant as this, we may suppose it was the design of Shakspeare to ridicule. Steevens.
“ This sort of procession was the usual recreation of our ancestors at Christmas and other festive seasons. Such things, being chiefly plotted and composed by ignorant people, were seldom committed io writing, at least with the view of preservation, and are of courfe