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It may be proper just to note, that reason here, and in many other places, signifies discourse; and that audacious is used in a good sense for spirited, animated, confident. Opinion is the same with obo. stinacy or opiniatreté.
JOHNSON. 38 Honorificabilitudinitatibus.] This word, whencesoever it comes, is often mentioned as the longest word known.
Johnson. 49 The third of the five vowels, &c.] In former editions: The last of the five vowels, if you repeat them; or the fifth, if I;
Hol. I will repeat them, a, e, i
Moth. The sheep:- the other two concludes it out. Is not the last and the fifth the same vowel? Though my correction restores but a poor conundrum, yet if it restores the poet's meaning, it is the duty of an editor to trace him in his lowest conceits. By O, U, Moth would mean-Oh, you-i.e. You are the sheep still, either way; no matter which of us repeats them.
THEOBALD. 40 dally with my excrement.] Shakspeare calls the beard valour's excrement, in the Merchant of Venice.
Johnson, 41 — war.]. In scripture, to wax wroth, is frequent for, to grow angry. Formerly the word had a more general meaning of to increase than it has at present. German, WAXEN, to grow.
42 -in by the week!] This Mr. Steevens supposes to be an expression taken from hiring servants or artificers; meaning, “I wish I was as sure of his service for any time limited, as if I had hired him.'
43 None are so surely caught, &c.] These are observations worthy of a man who has surveyed human nature with the closest attention. JOHNSON.
44 Like Muscovites, or Russians:] The intercourse between this country and Russia was but a very confined one in the days of Shakspeare; and therefore the player's fancy would be allowed full scope in the choice of dress. A mask of Russians in the real habits of a people so rude as they were then, must have appeared extremely grotesque in representation.
45 Beauties no richer than rich taffeta,] i.e. the taffeta masks they wore to conceal themselves.
THBOBALD. 46 Vouchsafe, bright moon, and these thy stars,- ) When queen Elizabeth asked an ambassador how he liked her ladies, It is hard, said he, to judge of stars in the presence of the sun.
Johnson. 47 Since you can cog,— -] To cog signifies to falsify the dice, and to falsify a narrative, or to lye.
JOHNSON. 48 - better wits have worn plain statute-caps.] Woollen caps were enjoined by act of parliament, in the year 1571, 13th queen Elizabeth. “Besides the “ bills passed into acts this parliament, there was “ one which I judge not amiss to be taken notice “of-it concerned the queen's care for employment “ for her poor sort of subjects. It was for conti“ nuance of making and wearing woollen caps, in “ behalf of the trade of cappers; providing, that all “ above the age of six years, (except the nobility and
“ some others) should on sabbath days, and holy “ days, wear caps of wool, knit, thicked, and drest “ in England, upon penalty of ten groats.” DR. GRAY.
Probably the meaning may be-better wits may be found among the citizens, who are not in general remarkable for sallies of imagination. In Marston's Dutch Courtezan, 1605, Mrs. Mulligrub says, “ though my husband be a citizen, and his cap's “ made of wool, yet I have wit.” So in the Family “ of Love, 1608. “ 'Tis a law enacted by the com“ mon-council of statute-caps.” Steevens.
49 Are angels vailing clouds.] Ladies unmasked, says Boyet, are like angels vailing clouds, or letting those clouds, which obscured their brightness, sink from before them.
JOHNSON. The primitive word is the French verb avaler, which has still, in some instances, the same signification as descendre.
50 —white as whales bone.] White as whale's bone is a proverbial expression in the old poets. So in Tuberville's poems, printed in 1570. “ In praise of lady P."
“ Her mouth so small, her teeth so white, “ As any whale his bone; “ Her lips without so lively red, “ That passe the corall stone." WARTON. si
lehaviour, what wert thou, 'Till this man shew'd thee? and what art thou now?] These are two wonderfully fine lines, intimating that what courts call manners, and value themselves so much upon teaching, as a thing no where else to be learnt, is a modest silent accomplishment under the direction of nature and common sense, which does its office in promoting social life without being taken notice of. But that when it degenerates into shew and parade, it becomes an unmanly contemptible quality.
WARBURTON. What is told in this note is undoubtedly true, but is not comprised in the quotation. JOHNSON.
52 Write, &c.] This was the inscription put upon the door of the houses infected with the plague, to which Biron compares the love of himself and his companions; and pursuing the metaphor finds the tokens likewise on the ladies. The tokens of the plague are the first spots or discolorations, by which the infection is known to be received. Johnson. 53 how can this be true,
That you should forfeit, being those that sue.] That is, how can those be liable to forfeiture that begin the process. The jest lies in the ambiguity of sue, which signifies to prosecute by law, or to offer a petition.
JOHNSON. 54 That smiles his cheek in years.] Mr. Malone reads jeers, but the other commentators understand Shakspeare to use years figuratively for wrinkles; the effect both of years and laughter.
55 -squire,] Esquierre French, a rule, a square.
so you cannot beg us, sir,] i.e. beg the guardian. ship of us, from the king, as ideots.
57 abate a throw at novum.] Novum appears from the following passage in Green's Tu quoque, to have been some game at dice.-“ Change your game “for dice; we are a full number for novum." Again in A Woman never vex’d,“ What ware deal you “ in, cards, dice, bowls, or pigeon-holes? Sort them “ yourselves, either passage, novum, or mum-chance."
STEEVENS. 58 with libbard's head on knee,] alluding to the old heroic habits, which usually had a lion or leopard's head on the knees and shoulders.
59 Your lion that holds his poll az sitting on a close stool, &c.] In Leigh's Accidence of Armoury, the arms given to Alexander in the history of The Nine Worthies, is a Lion, seiante in a chayer, holding a battleax. The paltry conceit between Ajax and a jakes is also used by Ben Jonson and Camden the antiquary.
60 Stuck with cloves.] An orange stuck with cloves appears to have been a common new-year's gift. So Ben Jonson, in his Christmas Masque," he has an orange and rosemary, but not a clove to stick in it.” A gilt nutmeg is mentioned in the same piece, and on the same occasion.
STEEVENS. 61 —more Ates;] That is, more instigation. Ate was the mischievous goddess that incited bloodshed.
JOHNSON. 62 I go woolward-]i.e with woollen next the skin.
63 Honest plain words, &c.] As it seems not very proper for Biron to court the princess for the king in the king's presence, at this critical moment, I believe the speech is given to a wrong person. I read thus,
Prin. I understand you not, my griefs are double : Honest plain words best pierce the ear of grief.