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Ros. But why did he swear he would come this morning, and comes not?
Cel. Nay certainly, there is no truth in him.
Cel. Yes: I think he is not a pick-purse, nor a horsestealer; but for his verity in love, I do think him as concave as a cover'd goblet,5 or a worm-eaten nut.
Ros. Not true in love?
Cel. Was is not is: besides, the oath of a lover is no stronger than the word of a tapster; they are both the confirmers of false reckonings: He attends here in the forest on the duke your father.
sisterhood. And after so happy a thought, it was to no purpose to tell him there was no religious order of that denomination. The plain truth is, Shakspeare meant an unfruitful sisterhood, which had devoted itself to chastity. For as those who were of the sisterhood of the spring, were the votaries of Venus; those of summer, the votaries of Ceres; those of autumn, of Pomona : so these of the sisterhood of winter were the votaries of Diana; called, of winter, because that quarter is not, like the other three, productive of fruit or increase. On this account it is, that when the poet speaks of what is most poor, he instances it in winter, in these fine lines of Othello:
“But riches fineless is as poor as winter
“ To him that ever fears he shall be poor.” The other property of winter, that made him term them of its sisterhood, is its coldness. So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
“ To be a barren sister all your life,
Warburton, There is certainly no need of Theobald's conjecture, as Dr. Warburton has most effectually supported the old reading. In one circumstance, however, he is mistaken. The Golden Legend, p. ccci, &c. gives a full account of St. Winifred and her sisterhood. Edit. by Wynkyn de Worde, 1527. Steevens.
as concave as a cover'd goblet,] Why a coverd? Because a goblet is never kept cover'd but when empty. Shakspeare never throws out his expressions at random. Warburton.
Warburton asks, " Why a cover'd goblet?”—and answers, “ Because a goblet is never cover'd but when empty." If that be the case, the cover is of little use; for when empty, it may as well be uncovered. But it is the idea of hollowness, not that of emptiness, that Shakspeare wishes to convey; and a goblet is more completely hollow when covered, than when it is not.
Ros. I met the duke yesterday, and had much question with him: He asked me, of what parentage I was; I told him, of as good as he; so he laugh’d, and let me go. But what talk we of fathers, when there is such a man as Orlando?
Cel. O, that's a brave man! he writes brave verses, speaks brave words, swears brave oaths, and breaks them bravely, quite traverse, athwart? the heart of his lover;8
much question - ] i. e. conversation. So, in The Merchant of Venice:
“ You may as well use question with the wolf.” Stecvens.
quite traverse, athwart &c.] An unexperienced lover is here compared to a puny tilter, to whom it was a disgrace to have his lance broken across, as it was mark either of want of courage or address.
This happened when the horse flew on one side, in the career: and hence, I suppose, arose the jocular proverbial phrase of spurring the horse only on one side. Now as breaking the lance against his adversary's breast, in a direct line, was honourable, so the breaking it across against his breast was, for the reason above, dishonourable; hence it is, that Sidney in his Arcadia, speaking of the mock-combat of Clinias and Dametas, says: “ The wind took such hold of his staff that it crost quite over his breast,'' &c.—And to break across was the usual phrase, as appears from some wretched verses of the same author, speaking of an unskilful tilter:
Methought some staves he mist: if so, not much amiss : “ For when he most did hit, he ever yet did miss.
“One said he brake across, full well it so might be," &c. This is the allusion. So that Orlando, a young gallant, affecting the fashion, (for brave is here used, as in other places, for fashionable) is represented either unskilful in courtship, or timorous. The lover's meeting or appointment corresponds to the tilter's career: and as the one breaks staves, the other breaks oaths. The business is only meeting fairly, and doing both with ad. dress: and 'tis for the want of this, that Orlando is blamed.
Warburton. So, in Northward Hoe, 1607: melancholick like a tilter, that had broke his staves foul before his mistress.” Steevens.
A puny tilter, that breaks his staff like a noble goose:] Sir Tho. mas Hanmer altered this to a nose-quill'd goose, but no one seems to have regarded the alteration. Certainly nose-quill'd is an epi. thet likely to be corrupted: it gives the image wanted, and may in a great measure be supported by a quotation from Turber, ville's Falconrie: “ Take with you a ducke, and slip one of her wing feathers, and having thrust it through her nares, throw her out unto your hawke.” Farmer. Again, in Philaster, by Beaumont and Fletcher:
“He shall for this time only be seeld up
as a puny tilter, that spurs his horse but on one side,
Well, and what of him?
O, come, let us remove;
Enter SILVIUS and PHEBE.
But first begs pardon; Will you sterner be
“ With a feather through his nose, that he may only
“ See heaven," &c.
Will you sterner be
Enter RosALIND, CELIA, and Corin, at a distance.
Phe. I would not be thy executioner; I fly thee, for I would not injure thee.
but how does he die by bloody drops? The poet must certainly have wrote:
that deals and lives, &c. i. e. that gets his bread by, and makes a trade of cutting off heads: but the Oxford editor makes it plainer. He reads:
Than he that lives and thrives by bloody drops. Warburton. Either Dr. Warburton's emendation, except that the word deals, wants its proper construction, or that of Sir Tho. Hanmer, may serve the purpose; but I believe they have fixed corruption upon
wrong word, and should rather read:
Than he that dies his lips by bloody drops.? Will you speak with more sternness than the executioner, whose lips are used to be sprinkled with blood? The mention of drops implies some part that must be sprinkled rather than dipped.
Fohnson. I am afraid our bard is at his quibbles again. To die, means as well to dip a thing in a colour foreign to its own as to expire. In this sense, contemptible as it is, the executioner may be said to die as well as live by bloody drops. Shakspeare is fond of opposing these terms to each other. In King John is a play on words not unlike this:
- all with purple hands “ Dy'd in the dying slaughter of their foes.” Camden has preserved an epitaph on a dyer, which has the same turn :
“ He that dyed so oft in sport,
Dyed at last, no colour for 't.”
“ Is thy husband a dyer, woman? alack,
Dyers be ever dying, but never dead.”
“We once sported upon a country fellow, who came to run for the best game, and was by his occupation a dyer, and had very big swelling legs.
" He is but coarse to run a course,
“Whose shanks are bigger than his thigh; “ Yet is his luck a little worse
“ That often dyes before he die." “ Where ye see the words course and die used in divers senses, one giving the rebound to the other.” Steevens.
J. Davies, of Hereford, in his Scourge of Folly, printed about 1611, has the same conceit, and uses almost our author's words:
Thou tell’st me, there is murder in mine eye:
OF A PROUD LYING DYER.
“ Turbine, the dyer, stalks before his dore,
“Like Cæsar, that by dying oft did thrive;
“ Yet (like the mortifide) he dyes to live.” Again, on the same:
“Who lives well, dies well:-not by and by;
“ For this man lives proudly, yet weil doth die.” Malone. He that lives and dies, i. e. he who, to the very end of his life, continues a common executioner. So, in the second scene of the fifth Act of this play: “ live and die a shepherd.” Tollet.
To die and live by a thing is to be constant to it, to persevere in it to the end. Lives, therefore, does not signify is maintained; but the two verbs taken together mean, who is all his life conversant with bloody drops. Musgrave. 1 'Tis pretty, sure, and very probable,] Sure for surely. Douce.
lean but upon a rush,] But, which is not in the old copy, was added, for the sake of the metre, by the editor of the second folio. Malone.
3 The cicatrice and capable impressure - ] Cicatrice is here not very properly used; it is the scar of a wound. Capable impressure, hollow mark. Johnson.
Capable, I believe, means here---perceptible. Our author often uses the word for intelligent ; (See a note on Hamlet,-
“ His form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,
“ Would make them capable.”) Hence, with his usual license, for intelligible, and then for per. ceptible. Malone.