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THE COMEDY OF ERRORS.
ACT I. SCENE I.
LINE 36. Wus wrought by nature, not by vile offence.] By my past life, (says he) which I am going to relate, the world may understand, that my present death is according to the ordinary course of Providence, [wrought by nature] and not the effects of divine vengeance overtaking me for my crimes, [not by vile offence.]
WARBURTON. Line 138. Roaming clean through the bounds of Asia,] Clean is a provincial word, meaning complete, perfect.
Line 103. —wend,] To wend, is to go. Obsolete.
ACT I. SCENE II. Line 171.
ere the weary sun set in the west.] Thus in King Richard III. The weary sun hath made a golden set. Line 183.
-a trusty villain,] Villain means servant. 232. – I shall be post indeed ;
For she will score your fault upon my pate.] It is very probable that this alludes to a practice which must have been adopted before the arts of writing and arithmetic
became understood, of chalking and notching upon wood the
merry sconce of yours,] Sconce means head. - 273. -o'er-raught,-) That is, over-reached. JOHNSON.
-274. —They say, this town is full of cozenage ;] This was the character the ancients give of it. Hence 'E$ecia ã negobaquara was proverbial amongst them. Thus Menander uses it, and 'Eperia yaupara, in the same sense. WARBURTON. Line 275. As, nimble jugglers, that deceive the eye,
Dark-working sorcerers, that change the mind,
Soul-killing witches, that deform the body ;] By soul-killing I understand destroying the rational faculties by such means as make men fancy themselves beasts. Johnson.
Witches or sorcerers themselves, as well as those who employed them, were supposed to forfeit their souls by making use of a forbidden agency. In that sense, they may be said to destroy the souls of others as well as their own.
STEEVENS. -liberties of sin :] Sir T. Hanmer reads, libertines, which, as the author has been enumerating not acts but persons, seems right.
ACT II. SCENE I.
Luc. Why, headstrong liberty is lash'd with woe.] Should it not rather be leash’d, i. e. coupled like a head-strong hound ?
ANONYMOUS. The meaning of this passage may be, that those who refuse the bridle must bear the lash, and that woe is the punishment of headstrong liberty. It may be observed, however, that the seamen still use lash in the same sense with leash. Lace was the old English word for a cord, from which verbs have been derived differently modelled by the chances of pronunciation. When the mariner lashes his guns, the sportsman leashes his dogs, the female laces her clothes, they all perform the same act of fastening with a lace or cord. Of the same original is the word windlass, or more properly windlace, an engine, by which a lace or cord is wound upon a barrel.
Line 32. start some other where ?] I cannot but think that our author wrote,
start some other hare ? So in Much ado about Nothing, Cupid is said to be a good harefinder.
Johnson. Line 35. -though she pause ;] To pause is to rest, to be in quiet.
JOHNSON. Line 44. -fool-begg'd-] She seems to mean, by foolbegg'd patience, that patience which is so near to idiotical simplicity, that your next relation would take advantage from it to represent you as a fool, and beg the guardianship of your fortune. JOHNSON.
Line 57. that I could scarce understand them.] i. e. that I could scarce stand under them. This quibble, poor as it is, seems to have been the favourite of Shakspeare. Steevens.
Line 91. Am I so round with you, as you with me,] He plays upon the word round, which signified spherical applied to himself, and unrestrained, or free in speech or action, spoken of his mistress. So the king, in Hamlet, bids the queen be round with her son.
JOHNSON. Line 107. -My decayed fair-] Shakspeare uses the adjective gilt, as a substantive, for what is gilt, and very probably fair for fairness. In the Midsummer Night's Dream, the old quartos read, « Demetrius loves your fair."
STEEVENS. Line 109. too unruly deer,] The ambiguity of deer and dear is borrowed, poor as it is, by Waller, in his poem on the Ladies Girdle.
“ This was my heaven's extremest sphere,
“ The pale that held my lovely deer.” JOHNSON. Line 1 10.
I am but his stale.] The word stale, in our author, used as a substantive, means, not something offered to allure or attract, but something vitiated with use, something of which the best part has been enjoyed and consumed. JOHNSON.
Stule means, I believe, in this place, the same as the French word, chaperon. Poor I am but the cover for his infidelity. Steev. Line 119. I see, the jewel, best enamelled,
Will lose his beauty; and though gold 'bides still,
That others touch, yet often touching will
Wear gold : and so no man, that hath a name,
But falshood, and corruption doth it shame. The sense is this, “ Gold, indeed, will long bear the handling ; “ however, often touching will wear even gold; just so the great“ est character, tho' as pure as gold itself, may, in time, be in“jured, by the repeated attacks of falshood and corruption."
ACT II. SCENE II. Line 160. And make a common of my serious hours.) i. e. intrude on them when you please. The allusion is to those tracts of ground destined to the general use, which are thence called
STEEVENS. Line 169. -insconse—] i. e. fortify.
-219. Not a man of those, but he hath the wit to lose his hair.] That is, Those who have more hair than wit are easily entrapped by loose women, and suffer the consequences of lewdness, one of which, in the first appearance of the disease in Europe, was the loss of hair.
JOHNSON. Line 245. -wafts us—] beckons us.
284. I live distain'd, thou undishonoured.) To distaine (from the French word, destaindre) signifies, to stain, defile, pollute. But the context requires a sense quite opposite. We must either read, unstain d; or, by adding an hyphen, and giving the preposition a privative force, read, dis-stain'd; and then it will mean, unstain'd, undefiled.
THEOBALD. Line 314. you are from me exempt,] Exempt, separated, parted. The sense is, If I am doomed to suffer the wrong of separation, yet injure not with contempt me who am already injured.
JOHNSON. Line 358. And shrive you—] That is, I will call you to confession, and make you tell your tricks.
ACT III. SCENE I. Line 5. —Carkanet] seems to have been a necklace or rather chain, perhaps hanging down double from the neck. JOHNSON. Line 20. Marry, so it doth appear
By the wrongs I suffer, and the blows I bear.)