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Quit their own part, and in obsequious fondness
I am come to know your pleasure. Ang. That you might know it, would much better
please me, Than to demand what 'tis. Your brother cannot live. Isab. Even so?-Heaven keep your honour!
[Retiring Ang. Yet may he live a while; and, it may be, As long as you, or I: Yet he must die.
Isab. Under your sentence?
Isab. When, I beseech you? that in his reprieve,
So the Duke had before (Act I, sc. ii,) expressed his dislike of popular applause :
“I'll privily away. I love the people,
" That does affect it." I cannot help thinking that Shakspeare, in these two passages, intended to flatter the unkingly weakness of James the First, which made him so impatient of the crowds that focked to see him, especially upon bis first coming, that as some of our histo. rians say, he restrained them by a proclamation. Sir Symonds D'Ewes, in his Memoirs of his own Life,* has a remarkable passage with regard to this humour of James. After taking notice, that the King going to parliment, on the 30th of January, 1620-1, “ spake lovingly to the people, and said, God bless ye, God bless ye;" he adds these words,“ contrary to his former hasty and passionate custom, which often, in his sudden distemper, would bid a pox or a plague on such as flocked to see him.” Tyrkubitt.
Mr. Tyrwhitt's apposite remark might find support, if it needed any, from the following passage in a True narration of the Entertainment of his Royal Majestie, from the Time of bis Departure from Edenbrogh, till bis receiving in London, &c. &c. 1603: «
- he was faine to publish an inhibition against the inordinate and dayly accesse of peoples comming,” &c. Steevens,
* A Manuscript in the British Museum,
Ang. Ha! Fie, these filthy vices! It were as good To pardon him, that hath from nature stolen A man already made, as to remit Their sawcy sweetness, that do coin heaven's image In stamps that are forbid:3 'tis all as easy Falsely to take away a life true made,4 As to put mettle in restrained means,5
that bath from nature stolen A man already made,] i. e. that hath killed a man. Malone 3 Their saucy sweetness, that do coin heaven's image
In stamps that are forbid:] We meet with nearly the same words in King Edward III, a tragedy, 1596, certainly prior to this play:
And will your sacred self
“To stamp his image in forbidden metal 39 These lines are spoken by the countess of Salisbury, whose chastity (like Isabel's) was assailed by her sovereign.
Their saucy="teetness Dr. Warburton interprets, their saucy indulgence of their appetite. Perhaps it means nearly the same as what is afterwards called sweet uncleanness. Malone.
Sweetness, in the present instance has, I believe, the same sense as-lickerishness. Steevens.
4 Falsely to take away a life true made,] Falsely is the same with dishonestly, illegally: so false, in the next line but one, is illegal, illegitimate. Fobnson.
mettle in restrained means,] In forbidden moulds. I suspect means not to be the right word, but I cannot find another.
Fobnson. I should suppose that our author wrote,
-in restrained mints, as the allusion may be still to coining. Sir W. D'Avenant omits the passage. Steevens.
Mettle, the reading of the old copy, which was changed to metal by Mr. Theobald, (who has been followedby the subsequent editors,) is supported not only by the general purport of the passage, (in which our author, having already illustrated the sentia ment he has attributed to Angelo by an allusion to coining, would not give the same image a second time,) but by a similar expression in Timon:
thy father, that poor rag,
“ Poor rogue hereditary.” Again, in The Winter's Tale:
“ As rank as any flax-wench, that puts to,
To make a false one.
Isab. 'Tis set down so in heaven, but not in earth,
Ang. Say you so? then I shall poze you quickly. Which had you rather, That the most just law Now took your brother's life; or, to redeem him,?
The controverted word is found again in the same sense in Macbeth:
thy undaunted mettle should compose
Nothing but males.”
that bed, that womb,
“ Made him a man." Again, in Timon of Athens:
Common mother, thou, " Whose womb unmeasurable, and infinite breast, “ Teems and feeds all; whose self-same mettle, “ Whereof thy proud child, arrogant man, is puffd,
“ Engenders the black toad,” &c. Means is here used for medium, or object, and the sense of the whole is this: 'Tis as easy wickelly to deprive a man born in wed. lock of life, as to have unlawful commerce with a maid, in order to give life to an illegitimate child. The thought is simply, that murder is as easy as fornication; and the inference which Angelo would draw, is, that it is as improper to pardon the latter as the former. The words—to make a false one-evidently refer. ring to life, shew that the preceding line is to be understood in a natural, and not in a metaphorical sense.
Malone. 6 'Tis set down so in beaven, but not in earth.] I would have it considered, whether the train of the discourse does not rather require Isabel to say:
'Tis so set down in earth, but not in heaven. When she has said this, Then, says Angelo, I shall poze you quickly. Would you, who, for the present purpose, declare your brother's crime to be less in the sight of heaven, than the law has made it; would you commit that crime, light as it is, to save your brother's life? To this she answers, not very plainly in either reading, but more appositely to that which I propose:
I had rather give my body than my soul. Johnson. What you have stated is undoubtedly the divine law: murder and fornication are both forbid by the canon of scripture ;- but on earth the latter offence is considered as less heinous than the former. Malone. So, in King John:
“ Some sins do bear their privilege on earth,
Give up your body to such sweet uncleanness,
Sir, believe this,
Ang. I talk not of your soul; Our compellid sins Stand more for number than accompt.' Isab.
How say you? Ang. Nay, I 'll not warrant that; for I can speak Against the thing I say. Answer to this; I, now the voice of the recorded law, Pronounce a sentence on your brother's life: Might there not be a charity in sin, To save this brother's life? Isab.
Please you to do it, I 'll take it as a peril to my soul, It is no sin at all, but charity.
Ang. Pleasd you to do 't, at peril of your soul,
or, to redeem him,] The old copy has—and to redeem him. The emendation was made by Sir William D'Avenant.
Malone. I had rather give my body tban my soul.] Isabel, I believe, uses the words, "give my body,” in a different sense from that in which they had been employed by Angelo. She means, 1 think, I bad rather die, than forfeit my eternal happiness by the prostitution of my person. Malone.
She may mean 1-I had rather give up my body to imprisonment, than my soul to perdition. Steevens.
Our compelld sins Stand more for number than accompt.) Actions to which we are compelled, however numerous, are not imputed to us by hea. ven as crimes. If you cannot save your brother but by the loss of your chastity, it is not a voluntary but compelled sin, for which you cannot be accountable. Malone. The old copy reads
“ Stand more for number than for accompt." I have omitted the second for, which had been casually repeated by the compositor. Steevens.
1 Pleas'd you to do 't, at peril &c.] The reasoning is thus: Angelo asks, whether there might not to be a charity in sin to save this brother. Isabella answers, that if Angelo will save him, she will stake her soul that it were charity, not sin. Angelo replies, that if Isabella would save him at the hazard of her soul, it would be not indeed no sin, but a sin to which the charity would be equivalent.
Were equal poize of sin and charity.
Isab. That I do beg his life, if it be sin,
Nay, but hear me: Your sense pursues not mine: either you are ignorant, Or seem so, craftily ;3 and that 's not good.
Isab. Let me be ignorant, and in nothing good, But graciously to know I am no better.
Ang. Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright, When it doth tax itself: as these black masks Proclaim an enshield beautys ten times louder
2 And nothing of your, answer.
-] I think it should be read, And nothing of yours, answer. You and whatever is yours, be exempt from penalty. Johnson.
And nothing of your answer, means, and make no part of those sins for which you shall be called to answer Steevens. This
passage would be clear, I think, if it were pointed thus : To have it added to the faults of mine,
And nothing of your, answer. So that the substantive answer may be understood to be joined in construction with mine as well as your. The faults of mine answer are the faults which I am to answer for. Tyrwhitt.
- craftily;] The old copy reads-crafty. Corrected by Sir William D'Avenant. Malone.
4 Let me be ignorant,] Me is wanting in the original copy. The emendation was made by the editor of the second folio.
Malone. Ś Proclaim an enshield beauty-] An enshield beauty is a sbielded beauty, a beauty covered as with a shield. Steevens.
as these black masks
Proclaim an enshield beauty &c. This should be written en-shelld, or in-shell’d, as it is in Coriolanus, Act IV, sc. vi:
“ Thrusts forth his horns again into the world
" That were in-shell'd when Marcius stood for Rome.” These Masks must mean, I think, the Musks of the audience ; however improperly a compliment to them is put into the mouth of Angelo. As Shakspeare would hardly have been guilty of such an indecorum to flatter a common audience, I think this passage affords ground for supposing that the play was written to be acted at court. Some strokes of particular flattery to the King I have already pointed out; and there are several other general reflections, in the character of the Duke especially, which seem calculated for the royal ear. Tyrwbitt.