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LOVE'S LABOUR’S LOST..
ACT 1. SCÉNÊ Í,
Line 33. With all these, living in philosohy.) The stile of the rhyming scenes in this play is often entangled and obscure. I know not certainly to what all these is to be referred; I suppose he means, that he finds love, pomp, and wealth in philosophy.
JOHNSON. By all these the poet seems to mean, all these gentlemen who have sworn to prosecute the same studies with me. Steevens.
Line 49. Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep.] Our author here has availed himself of poetical licence, by omitting the particle to before the last three verbs.
Line 65. When I to feast expressly am forbid;] The copies all have,
When I to fast expressly am forbid. But if Biron studied where to get a good dinner, at a time when he was forbid to fust, how was this studying to know what he was forbid to know? Common sense, and the whole tenour of the context require us to read, feast, or to make a change in the last word of the verse,
When I to fast expressly am fore-bid; i. e. when I am enjoined before-hand to fast. THEOBALD.
while truth the while
Doth falsely blind-] Falsely is here, and in many other places, the same as dishonestly or treacherously. The whole sense of this gipgling declamation is only this, that a man by too close study may read himself blind, which might have been told with less obscurity in fewer words.
JOHNSON. Line 86. Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed,
And give him light that was it blinded by.] This is another passage unnecessarily obscure: the meaning is, that when he dazzles, that is, has his eye made weak, by fixing his eye upon a fairer eye, that fairer eye shall be his heed, his direction or lodestar, (see Midsummer-Night's Dream,) and give him light that was blinded by it.
JOHNSON. Line 96. Too much to know, is to know nought but fame;
And every godfather can give a name.] The consequence, says Biron, of too much knowledge, is not any real solution of doubts, but mere empty reputation. That is, too much knowledge gives only fame, a name which every godfather can give likewise.
JOHNSON, Line 110. -sneaping frost,] To sneap, is to check.
117. -May's newfangled shows :] Alluding to the pastimes and merriment of May-day.
JOHNSON. Line 143. A dangerous law against gentility !] Gentility, here, does not signify that rank of people called gentry; but what the French express by gentilesse, i. e. elegantia, urbanitas. And then the meaning is this : Such a law for banishing women from the court is dangerous, or injurious to politeness, urbanity, and the more refined pleasures of life. For men without women would turu brutal and savage, in their natures and behaviour. THEOBALD.
Line 171. Not by might master'd, but by special grace :] Biron, amidst his extravagancies, speaks with great justness against the folly of vows. They are made without sufficient regard to the variations of life, and are therefore broken by some unforeseen necessity. They proceed commonly from a presumptuous confidence, and a false estimate of human power. JOHNSON
Line 177. Suggestions —) Temptations. JOHNSON
Line 180. -quick recreation-] Lively sport, sprightly diversion.
JOHNSON. Line 188. A man of complements, whom right and wrong
Have chose as umpire of their mutiny :] This passage, I believe, means that Don Armado was a man nicely versed in ceremonial distinctions, one who could distinguish in the most de. licate questions of honour the exact boundaries of right and wrong.
JOHNSON. Line 193.
in the world's debate.] The world seems to be used in a monastick sense by the king, now devoted for a time to a monastick life.
JOHNSON: -fire new words,] i. e. New coined, just forged. 205. -tharborough:] i.e. An under-constable.
216. A high hope for a low having;] The meaning is this. “Though you hope for high words, and should have them, “it will be but a low acquisition at best.” This our poet calls a low having.
THEOBALD. Line 224. -taken with the manner ] This was the phrase in use to signify, taken in the fact.
WARBURTON. Line 267. -curious knotted garden:) The picturesque of the ancient gardens consisted of figures, of which the lines occasionally intersected each other.
Line 269. —base minnow of thy mirth,] Minnow here means, a contemptibly small object.
ACT I. SCENE II.
Line 338. --dear imp.] Imp was anciently a term of dignity. Lord Cromwel in his last letter to Henry VIII. prays for the imp his son. It is now used only in contempt or abhorrence; perhaps in our author's time it was ambiguous, in which state it suits well with this dialogue.
JOHNSON. Pistol salutes king Henry V. by the same title. Steevens. Line 341. -juvenal ?] i. e. Youth,
367. -crosses love not him.] By crosses he means money. So in As you like it, the Clown says to Celia, “If I should bear you, I should bear no cross.”
Johnson Line 387. Moth. And how easy it is to put years to the word
three, and study three years in two words, the dancing-horse will tell you.] Banks's horse, which played many remarkable pranks. Sir Walter Raleigh (History of the World, first part, p. 178) says, “ If Banks had lived in older times, he would have shamed all " the enchanters in the world : for whosoever was most famous
ainong them, could never master, or instruct any beast as he did « his borse."
Dr. GREY. Banks's horse is alluded to by many writers contemporary with Shakspeare.
Steevens. Line 443. Which native she doth owe.] i. e. Own, or be
Line 446. The King and the Beggar ?] See Dr. Percy's collection, in three volumes.
STEEVENS. Line 453. -my digression-] Digression here means, transgression.
Line 455. -the rational hind Costard;) Means, the reasoning brute, the animal with some share of reason. STEEVENS.
Line 499. It is not for prisoners to be too silent in their words ;] I suppose we should read, it is not for prisoners to be silent in their wards, that is, in custody, in the holds. JOHNSON. I believe the blunder was intentional.
Line 17. Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye,
Not utter'd by buse sale of chapmen's tongues.] Chapmun here seems to signify the seller, not, as now commonly, the buyer. Cheap or cheping was anciently the market, chupman therefore is marketman. The meaning is, that the estimation of beauty depends not on the uttering or proclamation of the seller, but on the eye of the buyer.
JOHNSON. Line 48. Well fitted in the arts,] Is, well qualified.
JOHNSON 52. -match'd with -] Is combined or joined with.
JOHNSON. 90. Were all addressid -] i.e. Were all prepared.
117. And sin to break it.] The Princess shews an inconvenience very frequently attending rash oaths, which, whether kept or broken, produce guilt.
and not demands,
On payment, &c.] I have restored, I believe, the genuine sense of the passage. Aquitain was pledged, it seems, to Navarre's father, for 200,000 crowns.
The French king pretends to bave paid one moiety of this debt, (which Navarre knows nothing of,) but demands this moiety back again : instead whereof (says Navarre) he should rather pay the remaining moiety and demand to have Aquitain re-delivered up to him. This is plain and easy reasoning upon the fact supposed; and Navarre declares, he had rather receive the residue of his debt, than detain the province mortgaged for security of it.
THEOBALD. Line 163. -gelded
-gelded) Mr. Steevens justly remarks the partiality of Shakspeare for this expression.
Line 228. God's blessing on your beard !] That is, mayst thou have sense and seriousness more proportionate to thy beard, the length of which suits ill with such idle catches of wit. Johnson.
Line 255. My lips are no common, though several they be.] Screral is an enclosed field of a private proprietor, so Maria says, her lips are private property. Of a lord that was newly married one observed that he grew fat; Yes, said Sir Walter Raleigh, any beast will grow fat, if you take him from the common and
graze him in the several.
JOHNSON. Line 274. His tongue, all impatient to speak and not see,] That is, his tongue being impatiently desirous to see as well as speak.
ACT III. SCENE I.
Line 6. -festinately hither:] i. e. Hastily.
9. -a French brawl?] A bruwl is a kind of dance. Ben Jonson mentions it in one of his masques. STEEvens. Line 12.
canary to it with your feet.] Canary was the name of a sprightly nimble dance.
THEOBALD. Line 20. like a man after the old painting;] It was a common trick, among some of the most indolent of the ancient masters, to place the hands in the bosom or the pockets, or conceal them in some other part of the drapery, to avoid the labour of representing them, or to disguise their own inability. Steevens. Line 23.
-these beti'ily, &c.] His meaning is, that they