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Enter ISABELLA and FRANCISCA.
Isab. Yes, truly : I speak not as desiring more;
Who's that which calls? Fran. It is a man's voice: Gentle Isabella, Turn you the key, and know his business of him; You may,
may not; you are yet unsworn: When you have vow'd, you must not speak with men, But in the presence of the prioress: Then, if you speak, you must not show your face; Or, if you show your face, you must not speak. He calls again; 1 pray you, answer him. [Exit FRAN. Isab. Peace and prosperity! Who is 't that calls?
Enter Lucio. Lucio. Hail, virgin, if you be; as those cheek-roses Proclaim you are no less! Can you so stead me, As bring me to the sight of Isabella, A novice of this place, and the fair sister To her unhappy brother Claudio?
Isab. Why her unhappy brother? let me ask; The rather, for I now must make
know I am that Isabella, and his sister. Lucio. Gentle and fair, your brother kindly greets
you: Not to be weary
you, he 's in prison. Isab. Woe me! For what? Lucio. For that, which, if myself might be his
judge, He should receive his punishment in thanks: He hath got his friend with child.
"2 For that, which, if myself might be his judge,] Perhaps these words were transposed at the press. The sense seems to require-That, for which, &c. Malone,
Isab. Sir, make me not your story 3
It is true
3_make me not your story.) Do not, by deceiving me, make me a subject for a tale. Fohnson.
Perhaps only, Do not divert yourself with me, as you would with a story, do not make me the subject of your drama. Benedick talks of becoming—the argument of his own scorn.
Sir W. D'Avenant reads-scorn instead of story.
After all, the irregular phrase [me, &c.] that, perhaps, obscures this passage, occurs frequently in our author, and particu. larly in the next scene, where Escalus says: “Come me to what was done to her.”—“Make me not your story,” may therefore signify--invent not your story on purpose to deceive me.
It is true," in Lucio's reply, means-What I have already told you, is true.
Steevens. Mr. Ritson explains this passage, “ do not make a jest of me."
Reed. I have no doubt that we ought to read (as I have printed) Sir, mock me not:--your story. So, in Macbeth:
“ Thou com’st to use thy tongue :---thy story quickly." In King Lear we have" Pray, do not mock me. I beseech you, Sir, (says Isabel) do not play upon my fears; reserve this idle talk for some other occasion ;-proceed at once to your tale. Lucio's subsequent words, ["'Tis true,"—i.e you are right; I thank you for reminding me;] which, as the text has heen hitherto printed, had no meaning, are then pertinent and clear. Mr. Pope was so sensible of the impossibility of reconciling them to what preceded in the old copy, that he fairly omitted them.
What Isabella says afterwards, fully supports this emenda. tion :
“ You do blaspheme the good, in mocking me.” I have observed that almost every passage in our author, in which there is either a broken speech, or a sudden transition without a connecting particle, has been corrupted by the carelessness of either the transcriber or compositor. See a note on Love's Labour's Lost, Act II, sc. i:
“A man of-sovereign, peerless, he's esteemid.” And another on Coriolanus, Act I, sc. iv:
“ You shames of Rome! you herd of-Boils and plagues
“ Plaster you o'er!” Malone. 4. I would not —] i. e. Be assured, I would not mock you. So afterwards: “ Do not believe it:" i. e. Do not suppose that I would mock you. Malone. I am satisfied with the sense afforded by the old punctuation,
With maids to seem the lapwing," and to jest,
'tis my familiar sin With maids to seem the lapwing,] The Oxford editor's note on this passage is in these words: The lapwings fly, with seeming fright and anxiety, far from their nests, to deceive those who seek their young. And do not all other birds do the same? But what has this to do with the infidelity of a general lover, to whom this bird is compared ? It is another quality of the lapwing that is here alluded to, viz. its perpetually flying so low and so near the passenger, that he thinks he has it, and then is suddenly gore again. This made it a proverbial expression to signify a lover's falshood : and it seems to be a very old one; for Chaucer, in his Plowman's Tale, says:
“ — And lapwings that well conith lie.” Warburton. The modern editors have not taken in the whole similitude here: they have taken notice of the lightness of a spark's beha. viour to his mistress, and compared it to the lapring's hovering and fluttering as it flies. But the chief, of which no notice is taken, is, and to jest.” (See Ray's Proverbs) “The lapwing cries, tongue far from heart." i. e. most farthest from the nest, i. e. Slie is, as Shakspeare has it here,- Tongue far from beart. “ The farther she is from her nest, where her heart is with her young ones, she is the louder, or perhaps all tongue.”
Smith. Shakspeare has an espression of the like kind, in his Comedy of Errors:
« Adr. Far from her nest the lapring cries away;
“ My heart prays for him, though my tonguedo curse." We meet with the same thought in Lyly's Campaspe, (1584); from whence Shakspeare might borrow it:
you resemble the lapwing, who crieth most where ner nest is not, and so, to lead me from espying your love for Campaspe, you cry Timoclea.” Grey. 5 I would not-though 'tis iny familiar sin
With maids to seem the lapwing, and to jest,
Tongue far from heart,-play with all virgins so: &c.] This passage has been pointed in the modern editions thus :
'Tis true : -I would not (though 'tis my familiar sin
I bold you, &c. According to this punctuation, Lucio is made to deliver a sentiment directly opposite to that which the author intended. Though?tis my common practice to jest with and to deceive all dirgins, I would not so play with all virgins.
The sense, as I have regulated my text, appears to me clear and easy. 'Tis very true, (says he) I ought indeed, as you say, to proceed at once to my story. Be assured, I would not inock you.
I hold you as a thing ensky'd, and sainted;
Isab. You do blaspheme the good, in mocking me.
thus: Your brother and his lover? have embrac'd: As those that feed grow full; as blossoming time,
Though it is my familiar practice to jest with maidens, and, like the lapwing, to deceive them by my insincere prattle, though, I say, it is my ordinary and babitual practice to sport in this manner with all virgins, yet I should never think of treating you so, for I consider you, in consequence of your having renounced the world, as an immortal spirit, as one to whom I ought to speak with as much sincerity as if I were addressing a saint. Malone.
Mr. Malone complains of a contradiction which I cannot find in the speech of Lucio. He has not said that it is his practice to jest with and deceive all virgins. “Though (says he) it is my practice with maids to seem the lapwing, I would not play with all virgins so;”. meaning that she herself is the exception to his usual practice. Though he has treated other women with levity, he is serious in his address to her. Steevens.
. Fewness and truth, &c.] i. e. in few words, and those true ones. In few, is many times thus used by Shakspeare. Steevens.
7 Your brother and his lover-) i.e. his mistress ; lover, in our author's time, being applied to the female as well as the male sex. Thus, one of his poems, containing the lamentation of a deserted maiden, is entitled, “ A Lover's Complaint.”
So, in Tarleton's Newes out of Purgatory, bl. l. no date :" he spide the fetch, and perceived that all this while this was his lover's husband, to whom he had revealed these escapes."
Malone, as blossoming time, That from the seedness the bare fallow brings
To teeming foison; even so — ] As the sentence now stands, it is apparently ungrammatical. I read,
At blossoming time, &c. That is, As they that feed grow full, so her womb now at blossoming time, at that time through which the seed time proceeds to the harvest, her womb shows what has been doing. Lucio ludi. crously calls pregrancy blossoming time, the time when fruit is promised, though not yet ripe. Fohnson.
Instead of that, we may read oth; and, instead of brings, bring. Foizon is plenty. So, in The Tempest:
nature should bring forth, “ Of its own kind, all foizon,” &c. Teeming foizon, is abundant produce. Steevens.
That from the seedness the bare fallow brings
She it is.
This is the point.
The passage seems to me to require no amendment; and the meaning of it is this: “ As blossoming time proves the good tillage of the farmer, so the fertility of her womb expresses Claudio's full tilth and husbandry.” By blossoming time is meant, the time when the ears of corn are formed. M. Mason.
This sentence, as Dr. Johnson has observed, is apparently ungrammatical. I suspect two half lines have been lost. "Perhaps however an imperfect sentence was intended, of which there are many instances in these plays: —or, as might have been used in the sense of like. Tilth is tillage. So, in our author's 3d Sonnet:
“For who is she so fair, whose unear'd womb
“ Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?” Malone. ġ Bore many gentlemen,
In band, and bope of action:] To bear in band is a common phrase for to keep in*expectation and dependance; but we should read:
with bope of action. Johnson. So, in Macbeth:
“ How you were borne in hand," &c. Steevens.
with full line -] With full extent, with the whole length. Fohnson.