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To make my lady laugh, when she's dispos'de
Webster, in his Dutchess of Malfy, makes Castruchio declare of his lady: “She cannot endure merry company, for she says much laughing fills her too full of the wrinckle.” Farmer. Again, in Lingua, or the Combat of the Tongue, &c. 1607:
“That light and quick, with wrinkled laughter painted." Again, in Twelfth Night: “- he doth smile his cheek into more lines
than is in the new map,” &c. Steevens. The old copies read-in yeères. Jeers, the present emendation, which I proposed some time ago, I have since observed, was made by Mr. Theobald. Dr. Warburton endeavours to support the old reading, by explaining years to mean wrinkles, which belong alike to laughter and old age. But allowing the word to be used in that licentious sense, surely our author would have writ. ten, not in, but into, years-i. e. into wrinkles, as in a passage quoted by Mr. Steevens from Twelfth Night: “ — he does smile his cheek into more lines than is in the new map," &c. The change being only that of a single letter for another nearly re. sembling it, I have placed jeers (formerly spelt jeeres) in my text, The words-jeer, flout, and mock, were much more in use in our author's time than at present. In Othello, 1622, the former word is used exactly as here:
“ And mark the jeers, the gibes, and notable scorns,
“ That dwell in every region of his face." Out-roaring Dick was a celebrated singer, who, with William Wimbars, is said by Henry Chettle, in bis Kind HARTS DREAME, to have got twenty shillings a day by singing at Braintree fair, in Essex. Perhaps this itinerant droll was here in our author's thoughts. This circumstance adds some support to the emendation now made. From the following passage in Sir John Oldcastle, 1600, it seems to have been a common term for a noisy swaggerer:
“O he, sir, he's a desperate Dick indeed;
“ Bar him your house." Again, in Kemp's Nine daies wonder, &c. 4to. 1600:
“ A boy arm’d with a poking stick
“ Will dare to challenge cutting Dick." Again, in The Epistle Dedicatorie to Nashe's Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1596: “ - nor Dick Swash, or Desperate Dick, that's such a terrible cutter at a chine of beef, and devoures more meat at ordinaries in discoursing of his fraies, and deep acting of his slashing and hewing, than would serve half a dozen brewers draymen.” Malone.
As the aptitude of my quotation from Twelfth Night is questioned, I shall defend it, and without much effort; for Mr. Malone himself must, on recollection, allow that in, throughout the plays of Shakspeare, is often used for into. Thus, in King Richard III:
The ladies did change favours; and then we,
[To BOYET. Forestal our sport, to make us thus untrue? Do not you know my lady's foot by the squire, 1
And laugh upon the apple of her eye?
Holding a trencher, jesting merrily?
Biron. Lo, he is tilting straight! Peace; I have done.
“ But first, I'll turn yon fellow in his grave.” I really conceived this usage of the preposition in, to have been too frequent to need exemplification. Steevens.
in will, and error. Much upon this it is :- And might not you,] I believe this passage should be read thus :
- in will and error.
Biron. And might not you, &c. Johnson.
Musgrave. by the squire,] From esquierre, French, a rule, or square. The sense is nearly the same as that of the proverbial expression in our own language, he hath got the length of her foot; i. e. he hath humoured her so long that he can persuade her to what he pleases. Heath.
Squire in our author's time was the common term for a rule. See Minsheu's Dict. in v. The word occurs again in The Winter's Tale. Malone.
So, in Philemon Holland's translation of the seventh Book of Pliny's Natural History, ch. 56: “ As for the rule and squire, &c. Theodorus Samius devised them.” Steevens.
Go, you are allow'd ;] i. e. you may say what you you are a licensed fool, a common jester. So, in Twelfth Night:
“ There is no slander in an allow'd fool.” Warburton. 3 Hath this brave manage,] The old copy has manager. Corrected by Mr. Theobald. Malone.
Cost. O Lord, sir, they would know,
Biron. What, are there but three?
No, sir; but it is vara fine,
And three times thrice is nine.
not so: You cannot beg us, 4 sir, I can assure you, sir; we know
what we know: I hope, sir, three times thrice, sir, Biron.
Is not nine. Cost. Under correction, sir, we know whereuntil it doth amount.
Biron. By Jove, I always took three threes for nine.
Cost. O Lord, sir, it were pity you should get your living by reckoning, sir.
Biron. How much is it?
Cost. O Lord, sir, the parties themselves, the actors, sir, will show whereuntil it doth amount: for my own part, I am, as they say, but to parfect one man-e'en one poor man;s Pompion the great, sir.
Biron. Art thou one of the worthies?
4 You cannot beg us,] That is, we are not fools; our next rela. tions cannot beg the wardship of our persons and fortunes. One of the legal tests of a natural is to try whether he can number.
Johnson. It is the wardship of Lunaticks not Ideots that devolves upon the next relations. Shakspeare, perhaps, as well as Dr. Johnson, was not aware of the distinction. Douce.
It was not the next relation only who begg'd the wardship of an ideot. “ A rich fool was begg'd by a lord of the king; and the lord coming to another nobleman's house, the fool saw the picture of a fool in the hangings, which he cut out; and being chidden for it, answered, you have more cause to love me for it; for if my lord had seen the picture of the fool in the hangings, he would certainly have begg'd them of the king, as he did my lands.” Cabinet of Mirth, 1674. Ritson.
one man,--e'en one poor man;] The old copies read in one poor man. For the emendation I am answerable. The same mistake has happened in several places in our author's plays. See my note in All's well that ends well, Act I, sc, ü:“You are shallow, madam," &c. Malone.
Cost. It pleased them, to think me worthy of Pompion the great: for mine own part, I know not the degree of the worthy; but I am to stand for him.6
Biron. Go, bid them prepare.
[Exit Cost. King. Birón, 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 now; That sport best pleases, that doth least know how: Where zeal strives to content, and the contents Die in the zeal of them which it presents, Their form confounded makes most form in mirth;7 When great things labouring perish in their birth.8
I know not the degree of the worthy; &c. I This is a stroke of satire which, to this hour, has lost nothing of its force. Few performers are solicitous about the history of the character they are to represent. Steevens. 7 That sport best pleases, that doth least know how:
Where zeal strives to content, and the contents
Their form &c.] The old copies read of that which it presents. Steevens. The third line 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 gene. rous than that of the Amazonian Queen, who says, on a like oc. casion, in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
“ I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharg'd,
“Nor duty in his service perishing." Fohnson. 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 signifying 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-
It is nothing,
Biron. A right description of our sport, my lord.
Enter ARMADO.9 Arm. Anointed, I implore so much expense of thy royal sweet breath, as will utter a brace of words.
[ARM.converses with the King, and delivers him a paper.
“Extremely stretch'd, and conn'd with cruel pain,
“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 introduced by this reading [of them who presents it] any objec. tion 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 almost every other passage, where a similar 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, pleases best, where the actors are least skilful; where zeal strives to please, and the contents, or, (as these exhibitions are immediately afterwards called) great things, great attempts, perish in the very act 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. -labouring perish in their birth.] Labouring here means, in the act of parturition. So, Roscommon:
“ The mountains labour'd, and a mouse was born.” Malone. . Enter Armado.] The old copies read-Enter Braggart.