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Claud. Is she not a modest young lady?
Bene. Do you question me, as an honest man should do, for my simple true judgment? or would you have me speak after my custom, as being a professed tyrant to their sex?
Claud. No, I pray thee, speak in sober judgment.
Bene. Why, i' faith, methinks she is too low for a high praise, too brown for a fair praise, and too little for a great praise: only this commendation I can afford her; that were she other than she is, she were un handsome; and being no other but as she is, I do not like her.
Claud. Thou thinkest, I am in sport; I pray thee, tell me truly how thou likest her.
Bene. Would you buy her, that you inquire after her? Claud. Can the world buy such a jewel?
Bene. Yea, and a case to put it into. But speak you this with a sad brow? or do you play the flouting Jack;6 to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder, and Vulcan a rare carpenter?? Come, in what key shall a man take you, to go in the song?8
the flouting Jack;] Jack, in our author's time, I know not why, was a term of contempt. So, in King Henry IV, P. I, Act III: 56 the prince is a Jack, a sneak-cup.” Again, in The Taming of the Shrew:
rascal fidler, “ And twangling Fack, with twenty such vile terms,” &c. See in Minsheu's Dict. 1617: “A Facé sauce, or saucie Jack.” See also Chaucer's Cant. Tales, ver. 14,816, and the note, edit. Tyrwhitt. Malone.
to tell us Cupid is a good hare-finder, &c.] I know not whether I conceive the jest here intended. Claudio hints hi love of Hero. Benedick asks, whether he is serious, or whether he only means to jest, and to tell them that Cupid is a good harefinder, and Vulcan a rare carpenter. A man praising a pretty lady in jest, may show the quick sight of Cupid, but wiat has it to do with the carpentry of Vulcan? Perhaps the thought lies no deeper than this, Do you mean to tell us as new what we all know alreadly?
Johnson I believe no more is meant by those ludicrous expressions than this.-Do you mean, says Benedick, to amuse us with improbable stories?
An ingenious correspondent, whose signature is R. W. explains the passage in the same sense, but more amply. “Do you mean to tell us that love is not blind, and that fire will not consume what is combustible?”—for both these propositions are im
Claud. In mine eye, she is the sweetest lady that ever I looked on.
Bene. I can see yet without spectacles, and I see no such matter: there's her cousin, an she were not possessed with a fury, exceeds her as much in beauty, as the first of May doth the last of December. But I hope, you have no intent to turn husband; have you?
Claud. I would scarce trust myself, though I had sworn the contrary, if Hero would be my wife.
Bene. Is it come to this, i' faith? Hath not the world one man, but he will wear his cap with suspicion? 9 Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore again? Go to, i' faith; and thou wilt needs thrust thy neck into a yoke, wear the
plied in making Cupid a good hare-finder, and Vulcan (the God of fire) a good carpenter. In other words, would you convince me, whose opinion on this head is well known, that you can be in love without be. ing blind, und can play with the flame of beauty without being scorched. Steevens.
I explain the passage thus: Do you scoff and mock in telling us that Cupid, who is blind, is a good hare-finder, which requires a quick eye-sight; and that Vulcan, a blacksmith, is a rare carpenter? Tollet.
After such attempts at decent illustration, I am afraid that he who wishes to know why Cupid is a good hare-finder, must discover it by the assistance of many quibbling allusions of the same sort, about hair and hoar, in Mercutio's song in the second Act of Romeo and Juliet. Collins.
to go in the song?] i. e. to join with you in your songto strike in with you in the song. Steevens.
wear his cap with suspicion.?] That is, subject his head to the disquiet of jealousy. Johnson.
In Painter's Palace of Pleasure, p. 233, we have the following passage: “ All they that weare hornes be pardoned to weare their cappes upon their heads.” Henderson.
In our author's time none but the inferior classes wore caps, and such persons were termed in contempt flat-caps. All gentlemen wore hats. Perhaps therefore the meaning is,- Is there not one man in the world prudent enough to keep out of that state where he must live in apprehension that his night-cap will be worn occasionally by another. So, in Othello:
“For I fear Cassio with my night-cap too.” Malone. If this remark on the disuse of caps among people of higher rank be accurate, Sir Christopher Hatton, and other worthies of the court of Elizabeth, have been injuriously treated; for the painters of their time exhibit several of them with caps on their heads.-It should be remembered that there was a material distinction between the plain statute-caps of citizens, and the orna. mented ones worn by gentlemen. Stecvens.
print of it, and sigh away Sundays.1 Look, Don Pedro is returned to seek you.
Re-enter Don PEDRO. D. Pedro. What secret hath held you here, that you followed not to Leonato's?
Bene. I would your grace would constrain me to tell. D. Pedro. I charge thee on thy allegiance.
Bene. You hear, Count Claudio: I can be secret as a dumb man, I would have you think so; but on my allegiance,-mark you this, on my allegiance:–He is in love. With who?-now that is your grace's part.Mark, how short his answer is:- With Hero, Leonato's short daughter.
Claud. If this were so, so were it uttered.
Bene. Like the old tale, my lord: it is not só, nor 'twas not so; but, indeed, God forbid it should be so.
Claud. If my passion change not shortly, God forbid it should be otherwise.
D. Pedro. Amen, if you love her; for the lady is very well worthy.
- sigh away Sundays.] A proverbial expression to signify that a man has no rest at all; when Sunday, a day formerly of ease and diversion, was passed so uncomfortably. Warburton.
I cannot find this proverbial expression in any ancient book whatever. I am apt to believe that the learned commentator has mistaken the drift of it, and that it most probably alludes to the strict manner in which the sabbath was observed by the Puritans, who usually spent that day in sighs and gruntings, and other hypocritical marks of devotion. Steevens.
2 Claud. If this were so, so were it uttered.) This and the three next speeches I do not well understand; there seems something omitted relating to Hero's consent, or to Claudio's marriage, else I know not what Claudio can wish not to be otherwise. The copies all read alike. Perhaps it may be better thus :
Claud. If this were so, so were it.
Bene. Uttered like the old tale, &c. Claudio gives a sullen answer, if it is so, so it is. Still there seems something omitted which Claudio and Pedro concur in wishing:
Fohnson. Claudio, evading at first a confession of his passion, says; if I had really confided such a secret to him, yet he would have blabbed it in this manner. In his next speech, he thinks proper to avow his love; and when Benedick says, God forbid it should be So, i. e. God forbid he should even wish to marry her; Claudio replies, God forbid I should not wish it. Steevens.
Claud. You speak this to fetch me in, my lord.
Bene. And, by my two faiths and troths, my lord, I spoke mine. 3
Claud. That I love her, I feel.
Bene. That I neither feel how she should be loved, nor know how she should be worthy, is the opinion that fire cannot melt out of me; I will die in it at the stake.
D. Pedro. Thou wast ever an obstinate heretick in the despite of beauty.
Claud. And never could maintain his part, but in the force of his will.4
Bene. That a woman conceived me, I thank her; that she brought me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks: but that I will have a red
winded in my forehead, or hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick,
I spoke mine.] Thus the quarto, 1600. The folio reads I speak mine.” But the former is right. Benedick means, that he spoke his mind when he said—“God forbid it should be so;" i. e. that Claudio should be in love, and marry in consequence of his passion. Steevens.
but in the force of his will.] Alluding to the definition of a heretick in the schools. Warburton.
but that I will have a recheat winded in my forehead,] That is, I will wear a horn on my forehead which the huntsman may blow. A recheate is the sound by which dogs are called back. Shakspeare had no mercy upon the poor cuckold, his horn is an inexhaustible subject of merriment. Fohnson.
So, in The Return from Parnassus : « · When you blow the death of your fox in the field or covert, then you must sound three notes, with three winds; and recheat, mark you, sir, upon the same three winds."
“ Now, sir, when you come to your stately gate, as you sound. ed the recheat before, so now you must sound the relief three times.”
Again, in The Book of Huntynge, &c. bl. 1. no date: “Blow the whole rechate with three wyndes, the first wynde one longe and six shorte. The second wynde two shorte and one longe. The thred wynde one longe and two shorte.
Among Bagford's Collections relative to Typography, in the British Museum, 1044, II. C, is an engraved half sheet, containing the ancient Hunting Notes of England, &c. Among these, I find, Single, Double, and Treble Recheats, Running Recheat,
all women shall pardon me: Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will do myself the right to trust none; and the fine is, (for the which I may go the finer) I will live a bachelor.
D.Pedro. I shall see thee, ere I die, look pale with love.
Bene. With anger, with sickness, or with hunger, my lord; not with love: prove, that ever I lose more blood with love, than I will get again with drinking, pick out mine eyes
with a ballad-maker's pen, and hang me up at the door of a brothel-house, for the sign of blind Cupid.
D. Pedro. Well, if ever thou dost fall from this faith, thou wilt prove a notable argument.?
Bene. If I do, hang me in a bottle like a cat,s and
Warbling Recheat, another Recheat with the tongue very hard, another smoother Recheat, and another warbling Recheat. The musical notes are affixed to them all. Steevens.
A recheate is a particular lesson upon the horn, to call dogs back from the scent: from the old French word recet, which was used in the same sense as retraite. Hanmer.
hang my bugle in an invisible baldrick,] Bugle, i. e. bugle. horn, hunting-horn. The meaning seems to be-or that I should be compelled to carry a horn on my forehead where there is no. thing visible to support it. So, in John Alday's translation of Pierre Boisteau's Theatrum Mundi, &c. bl. I. no date: “
Beholde the hazard wherin thou art (sayth William de la Perriere) that thy round head become not forked, which were a fearfull sight if it were visible and apparent.”
It is still said of the mercenary cuckold, that he carries his horns in his pockets. Steevens. - notable argument.] An eminent subject for satire.
Fohnson 8 in a bottle like a cat,] As to the cat and bottle, I can procure no better information than the following:
In some counties in England, a cat was formerly closed up with a quantity of soot in a wooden bottle, (such as that in which shepherds carry their liquor) and was suspended on a line. He who beat out the bottom as he ran under it, and was nimble enough to escape its contents, was regarded as the hero of this inhuman diversion.
Again, in Warres, or the Peace is broken, bl. 1.-_"arrowes flew faster than they did at a catte in a basket, when Prince Arthur, or the Duke of Shordich, strucke up the drumme in the field.”
In a Poem, however, called Cornu-copie, or Pasquil's Night-cap, or an Antidote to the Head ache, 1623, p. 48, the following passage