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But are you sure That Benedick loves Beatrice so entirely?
Hero. So says the prince, and my new-trothed lord.
Hero. They did intreat me to acquaint her of it:
Urs. Why did you so? Doth not the gentleman
Hero. O God of love! I know, he doth deserve
her spirit, she will not admit
of any society, until such a time as nature worketh,” &c. So, in The Tragical History of Didaco and Violenta, 1576:
“ Perchaunce she's not of haggard's kind,
“ Nor heart so hard to bend,” &c. Steevens. 1 To wish him-] i.e. recommend or desire. So, in The Honest Whore, 1604:
“ Go wish the surgeon to have great respect,” &c. Again, in The Hog hath lost his Pearl, 1614: “But lady mine that shall be, your father hath wish'd me to appoint the day with you.” Reed.
as full, &c.] So, in Othello:
“What a full fortune doth the thick-lips owe?" &c. Mr. M. Mason very justly observes, that what Ursula means
say is, “ that he is as deserving of complete happiness in the marriage state, as Beatrice herself.” Steevens.
3 Misprising-] Despising, contemning. Johnson.
To misprise is to undervalue, or take in a wrong light.
- a great deal misprising
that to her
to your huge store
Nor take no shape nor project of affection,
Sure, I think so;
Hero. Why, you speak truth: I never yet saw man, How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featur’d, But she would spell him backward:5 if fair-faced, She'd swear, the gentleman should be her sister; If black, why, nature, drawing of an antick, Made a foul blot:6 if tall, a lance ill-headed;
- spell him backward:] Alluding to the practice of witches in uttering prayers.
The following passages containing a similar train of thought, are from Lyly's Anatomy of Wit, 1581:
“ If one be hard in conceiving, they pronounce him a dowlte : if given to studie, they proclaim him a dunce: if merry, a jester: if sad, a saint: if full of words, a sot: if without speech, a cypher: if one argue with him boldly, then is he impudent : if coldly, an innocent: if there be reasoning of divinitie, they cry, Quæ supra nos, nihil ad nos : if of humanitie, sententias loquitur carnifex.”
Again, p. 44, b.“ if he be cleanly, they (women) term him proude: if meene in apparel, a sloven : if tall, a lungis : if shorte, a dwarfe : if bold, blunt: if shamefast, a cowarde,” &c. P. 55 : “ If she be well set, then call her a bosse : if slender, a hasill twig: if nut brown, black as a coal : if well colour'd, a painted wall: if she be pleasant, then is she wanton : if sullen, à clowne : if honest, then is she coye.” Steevens.
If black, why, nature, drawing of an antick, Made a foul blot:] The antick was a buffoon character in the old English farces, with a blacked face, and a patch-work habit. What I would observe from hence is, that the name of antick or antique, given to this character, shows that the people had some traditional ideas of its being borrowed from the ancient mimes, who are thus described by Apuleius : “ mimi centunculo, fuligine faciem obducti.” Warburton.
I believe what is here said of the old English farces, is said at random. Dr. Warburton was thinking, I imagine, of the modern Harlequin. I have met with no pro that the face of the antic or Vice of the old English comedy was blackened. By the word black in the text, is only meant, as I conceive, swarthy, or dark brown. Malone.
A black man means a man with a dark or thick beard, not a swarthy or dark-brown complexion, as Mr. Malone conceives.
Douce. When Hero says, thato' nature drawing of an antick, made a
If low, an agate very vilely cut:?
foul blot,” she only alludes to a drop of ink that may casually fall out of a pen, and spoil a grotesque drawing. Steevens.
7 If low, an agate very vilely cut : ] But why an agate, if low! For what likeness between a little man and an agate? The ancients, indeed, used this stone to cut upon; but very exquisitely. I make no question but the poet wrote:
- an aglet very vilely cut: An aglet was a tag of those points, formerly so much in fashion. These tags were either of gold, silver, or brass, according to the quality of the wearer; and were commonly in the shape of little images: or at least had a head cut at the extremity. The French call them, aiguillettes. Mezeray, speaking of Henry IIId's sor. row for the death of the princess of Conti, says, “ — portant meme sur les aiguillettes des petites tetes de mort." And as a tall man is before compared to a lance ill-headed; so, by the same figure, a little man is very aptly liken’d to an aglet ill-cut. Warburton.
The old reading is, I believe, the true one. Vilely cut may not only mean awkwardly worked by a tool into shape, but grotesquely veined by nature as it grew. To this circumstance, I suppose, Drayton alludes in his Muses' Elizium :
“With th' agate, very oft that is
“ Cut strangely in the quarry;
“ How she herself can vary.” Pliny mentions that the shapes of various beings are to be discovered in agates; and Mr. Addison has very elegantly compared Shakspeare, who was born with all the seeds of poetry, to the agate in the ring of Pyrrhus, which, as Pliny tells us, had the figure of Apollo and the nine Muses in the veins of it, produced by the spontaneous hand of nature, without any help from art.
Steevens. Dr. Warburton reads aglet, which was adopted, I think, too hastily by the subsequent editors. I see no reason for departing from the old copy. Shakspeare's comparisons scarcely ever answer completely on both sides. Dr. Warburton asks, “What likeness is there between a little man and an agate?". No other than that both are small. Our author has himself in another place compared a very little man to an agate. “ Thou whorson mandrake, (says Falstaff
ou art fitter to be worn in my cap, than to wait at my heels. I was never so man'd with an agate till now.” Hero means no more than this : “ If a man be low, Beatrice will say that he is as diminutive and unhappily formed as an ill-cut agate."
It appears both from the passage just quoted, and from one of Sir John Harrington's epigrams, 4to. 1618, that agates were commonly worn in Shakspeare's time:
So turns she every man the wrong side out;
Urs. Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable.
Hero. No: not to be so odd, and from all fashions, As Beatrice is, cannot be commendable: But who dare tell her so: If I should speak, She'd mock me into air; O, she would laugh me Out of myself, press me to death with wit.o Therefore let Benedick, like cover'd fire, Consume away in sighs, waste inwardly: It were a better death than die with mocks; Which is as bad as die with tickling. 1
Urs. Yet tell her of it; hear what she will say.
Hero. No; rather I will go to Benedick, And council him to fight against his passion:
The author to a daughter nine years old.
“ Yet could I like a noble-minded girl,
“Rich velvet gowns, pendents, and chains of pearle,
“ Cark’nets of agats, cut with rare device," &c. These lines, at the same time that they add support to the old reading, shew, I think, that the words “ vilely cut,” are to be understood in their usual sense, when applied to precious stones, viz. awkwardly wrought by a tool, and not, as Mr. Steevens supposes, grotesquely veined by nature. Malone.
-a vane blown with all winds ;] This comparison might have been borrowed from an ancient black-letter ballad, intitled A Comparison of the Life of Man:
“I may compare a man againe,
press me to death -] The allusion is to an ancient punishment of our law, called peine fort et dure, which was formerly inflicted on those persons, who, being indicted, refused to plead. In consequence of their silence, they were pressed to death by an heavy weight laid upon their stomach. This punishment the good sense and humanity of the legislature have within these few years abolished. Malone.
1 Which is as bad as die with tickling. ] The author meant that tickling should be pronounced as a trisyllable ; tickeling. So, in Spenser, B. II, Canto xii:
a strange kind of harmony; “Which Guyon's senses softly tickeled," &c. Malone.
And, truly, I'll devise some honest slanders
Urs. O, do not do your cousin such a wrong.
Hero. He is the only man of Italy,
Urs. I pray you, be not angry with me, madam,
Hero. Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.
Urs. His excellence did earn it, ere he had it.When are you married, madam?
Hero. Why, every day ;-to-morrow: Come, go in; I 'll show thee some attires; and have thy counsel, Which is the best to furnish me to-morrow. Urs. She's lim'd' I warrant you; we have caught her,
madam. Hero. If it prove so, then loving goes by haps: Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.
[Exeunt Hero and URS.
Stand I condemn'd for pride and scorn so much? Contempt, farewel! and maiden pride, adieu!
No glory lives behind the back of such.
- so swift and excellent a wit,] Swift means ready. So, in As you Like it, Act V, sc. iv:
“He is very swift and sententious.” Steevens.
argument,] This word seems here to signify discourse, or, the powers of reasoning. Johnson.
Argument, in the present instance, certainly means conversation. So, in King Henry IV, P. I:“— It would be argument for a week, laughter for a month, and a good jest for ever.” Steevens.
4 She's lim’d-] She is ensnared and entangled as a 'sparrow with birdlime. Fohnson. So, in The Spanish Tragedy:
“ Which sweet conceits are lim'd with sly deceits.” The folio reads-She's ta'en. Steevens.