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Ang. Plainly conceive, I love you.
me, That he shall die for it.
Ang. He shall not, Isabel, if you give me love.
Isab. I know, your virtue hath a license in 't;3
Believe me, on mine honour,
Isab. Ha! little honour to be much believ'd, And most pernicious purpose!-Seeming, seeming!5I will proclaim thee, Angelo; look for 't: Sign me a present pardon for my brother, Or, with an out-stretch'd throat, I'll tell the world Aloud, what man thou art. Ang.
Who will believe thee, Isabel? My unsoild name, the austereness of
3 I know your virtue bath a license in',] Alluding to the licenses given by ministers to their spies, to go into all suspected companies, and join in the language of malecontents. Warburton.
I suspect Warburton's interpretation to be more ingenious than just. The obvious meaning is--I know your virtue assuines an air of licentiousness which is not natural to you, on purpose to try me.-Edinburgh Magazine, Nov. 1786. Steevens.
4 Which seems a little fouler &c.] So, in Promos and Gassan. dra: “ Cas. Renowned lord, you use this speech (I hope)
your thrall to trye, “ If otherwise, my brother's life so deare I will not bye." “ Pro. Fair dame, my outward looks my inward thoughts
bewray; “ If you mistrust, to search my harte, would God you
had a kaye.” Steevens.
Seeming, seeming:'] Hypocrisy, hypocrisy; counterfeit virtue. Johnson.
6 My vouch against you,] The calling his denial of her charge his douch, has something fine. Vouch is the testimony one man bears for another. So that, by this, he insinuates his autho. rity was so great, that his denial would have the same credit that a vouch or testimony has in ordinary cases. Warburton.
I believe this beauty is merely imaginary, and that couch against means no more than denial. Johnson.
And smell of calumny. I have begun;
7 That you shall stifle in your own report,
And smell of calumny.) A metaphor from a lamp or candle extinguished in its own grease. Steevens.
8 And now I give my sensual race the rein:] And now I give my senses the rein, in the race they are now actually running.
Heath. and prolixious blushes,] The word prolixious is not peculiar to Shakspeare. I find it in Moses his birth and Miracles, by Drayton :
"Most part by water, more prolixious was,” &c. Again, in the Dedication to Gabriel Harvey's Hunt is Up, 1598:
rarifier of prolixious rough barbarism,” &c. Again, in Nash's Lenten Stuff, &c. 1599:
well known unto them by his prolixious sea-wandering.” Prolixious blushes mean what Milton has elegantly called
“sweet reluctant delay.” Steevens.
- die the death,] This seems to be a solemn phrase for death inflicted by law. So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream :
Prepare to die the death.” Johnson. It is a phrase taken from scripture, as is observed in a note on The Midsummer Night's Dream. Steevens.
The phrase is a gooil phrase, as Shallow says, but I do not conceive it to be either of legal or scriptural origin. Chaucer uses it frequently. See Cant. Tales, ver. 607.
“They were adradde of him, as of the deth.” Ver. 1222, “ The detb he feleth thurgh his herte smite." It seems to have been originally a mistaken translation of the French La Mort. Tyrwhitt.
Bidding the law make court'sy to their will;
ACT III.....SCENE I.
A Room in the Prison.
Claud. The miserable have no other medicine,
Duke. Be absolute for death;* either death, or life;
prompture -] Suggestion, temptation, instigation. .
Fobnson. such a mind of honour,] This, in Shakspeare's language, may mean, such an honourable mind, as he uses “mind of love,” in The Merchant of Venice, for loving mind. Thus also, in Pbilaster :
I had thought, thy mind “ Had been of bonour." Steevens. 4 Be absolute for death;] Be determined to die, without any hope of life. Horace, “ – The hour which exceeds expectation will be wel.
come." Johnson. 5 That none but fools would keep:] But this reading is not only contrary to all sense and reason, but to the drift of this moral
(Servile to all the skiey ifluences)
discourse. The Duke, in his assumed character of a friar, is endeavouring to instil into the condemned prisoner a resignation of mind to his sentence; but the sense of the lines in this read. ing, is a direct persuasive to suicide : I make no doubt, but the poet wrote,
That none but fools would reck: i.e.
e. care for, be anxious about, regret the loss of. So, in the tragedy of Tancred and Gisinund, Act IV, sc. iii:
Not that she recks this life.”.
• Recking as little what betideth me. Warburton. The meaning seems plainly this, that none but fools would wish to keep life; or, none but fools would keep it, if choice were allowed. A sense which, whether true or not, is certainly innocent.
Yobnson. Keep, in this place, I believe, may not signify preserve, but care for. “ No lenger for to liven I ne kepe,” says Æneas in Chaucer's Dido, Queen of Carthage; and elsewhere: “ That I Aepe not rehearsed be:" i. e. which I care not to have rehearsed. Again, in The Knightes Tale, Tyrwhitt's edit. ver. 2240:
“ I kepe nought of armes for to yelpe." Again, in À Mery Jeste of a Man called Howleglass, bl. 1. no date.
“ Then the parson bad him remember that he had a soule for to kepe, and he preached and teached to him the use of confession,” &c. Steevens.'
Mr Steevens's explanation is confirmed by a passage in The Dutchess of Malfy, by Webster, (1623) an author who has frequently imitated Shakspeare, and who perhaps followed him in the present instance :
“Of what is 't fools make such vain keeping ?
“ Their death a hideous storm of terror."
6 That dost this habitation, where thou keep’st,] Sir T. Hanmer changed dost to do without necessity or authority. The construction is not, “ the skiey influences that do,” but, “ a breath thou art, that dast,” &c. if “ Servile to all the skiey influences" be inclosed in a parenthesis, all the difficulty will vanish. Porson.
Are nurs'd by baseness:8 Thou art by no means valiant; For thou dost fear the soft and tender fork
merely, thou art death's fool;
yet run'st toward bim still.] In those old farces called Moralities, the fool of the piece, in order to show the inevitable approaches of death, is made to employ all his stratagenis to avoid him ; which, as the matter is ordered, bring the fool at every turn, into his very jaws. So that the representations of these scenes would afford a great deal of good mirth and morals mixed together. And from such circumstances, in the genius of our ancestors' public diversions, I suppose it was, that the old proverb arose, of being merry and wise. Warburton.
Such another expression as death’s fool, occurs in The Honest Lawyer, a comedy, by S. S. 1616:
“ Wilt thou be a fool of fate? who can
“ Prevent the destiny decreed for man?" Steevens. It is observed by the Editor of The Sad Shepherd, 8vo. 1783, p. 154, that the initial letter of Stow's Survey, contains a representation of a struggle between Death and the Fool; the figures of which were most probably copied from those characters as formerly exhibited on the stage. Reed.
There are no such characters as Death and the Fool, in any old Morality now extant. They seem to have existed only in the dumb Shows. The two figures in the initial letter of Stow's Suroey, 1603, which have been mistaken for these two personages, have no allusion whatever to the stage, being merely one of the set known by the name of Death's Dance, and actually copied from the margin of an old Missal. The scene in the modern pantomime of Harlequin Skeleton, seems to have been suggested by some playhouse tradition of Death and the Fool.
Ritson. 8 Are nurs’d by baseness :) Dr. Warburton is undoubtedly mistaken in supposing that by baseness is meant self-love, here assigned as the motive of all human actions. Shakspeare only meant to observe, that a minute analysis of life at once destroys that splendour which dazzles the imagination. Whatever grandeur can display, or luxury enjoy, is procured by baseness, by offices of which the mind shrinks from the contemplation. All the delicacies of the table may be traced back to the shambles and the dunghill, all magnificence of building was hewn from the quarry, and all the pomp of ornament dug from among the damps and darkness of the mine. Johnson.
This is a thought which Shakspeare delights to espress. So, in Antony and Cleopatra:
our dung; earth alike “ Feeds man as beast." Again :
“ Which sleeps, and never palates more the dung,