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Has censur'd him3
IsaB. Alas! what poor ability's in me
Assay the power you have.
Our doubts are traitors,
Isab. I'll see what I can do.
3 Has censur'd him~]i. c. fentenced him. So, in Othelle :
to you, lord governor, « Remains the cenfure of this hellish villain." STEEVENS. We should read, I think, He has censured him, &c. In the Mss. of
our author's time, and frequently in the printed copy of these plays, he has, when intended to be contra&ed, is written h'as. Hence probably the mistake here. So, in Othello, 4to. 1622 : « And it is thought abroad, that 'twixt my
sheets • H'as done my office." Again, in All's well that ends well, p. 247, folio 1623, we find H'as twice, for He has. See also Twelfth Night, p. 258, edi:. 1623 : --- h'as been told so," for os he has been told so."
MALONE. * All their petitions are as freely theirs - ] All their requests are as freely granted to them, are granted in as full and beneficial a manner, as they themselves vould wish. The editor of the second folio arbitrarily reads --- as truly theirs ; which has been followed in all the subsequent copics. MALONE.
s would owe them.] To owe, fignifics in this place, as in many others, to poffefs, io have. STEEVINS,
ISAB. I will about it straight;
success. Lucio. I take my leave of you. ISAB.
Good sir, adieu.
Enter ANGELO, ESCALUS, a Justice, Provost,"
Officers, and other Attendants. Ang. We must not make a fcare-crow of the law, Setting it up to fear the birds of prey,
the mother -] The abbess, or prioress. JOHNSON. 7 Provost, ] A Provost martial, Minshier explains,
o Prevost des mareschaux: Præfe&us rerum capitalium, Prætor rerum capitalium." REED.
A provost is generally the executioner of an army. So, in The Famous History of Tho. Stukely, 1605, bl. 1:
Provojt, lay irons upon him, and take him to your charge. Again, in The Virgin Martyr, by Massinger:
Thy provost, to see execution done
66 On these base Chriftians in Cæfarea." STEEVENS A prison for military offenders is at this day, in some places, called the Prévôt. MALONE,
The Provost here, is not a military officer, but a kind of Theriff or gaoler, so called in foreigu countries. Douce.
to fear the birds of prey, ] To fear is to affright, to terrify. So, in The Merchant of Venice :
this afpe&t of mine
And let it keep one shape, till custom make it
yet Let us be keen, and rather cut a little, Than fall, and bruise to death: ' Alas! this gentle
man, Whom I would save, had a moit noble father. Let but your honour know, . (Whom I believe to be most strait in virtue,) That, in the working of your own affections, Had time coher'd with place, or place with wishing, Or that the resolute acting of your blood Could liave attain'd the effect of your own purpose. Whether
you had not sometime in Err'd in this point which now you censure him, } And puild the law upon you.
9 Thar fall, and bruise to death :) I should rather read fell, i. e. Krike down. So, in Timon of Athens :
All save thee, « I fell with curses. WARBURTON. Fall is the old reading, and the true one. Shakspeare has used The fame verb adive in T'he Comedy of Errors:
as easy may'ft thou fall « A drop of water, i. c. let fall. So, in As you Like it:
the executioner 6. Falls not the axe upon the humbled neck. STEEVENS. Than fall, and bruise to death: ] i. e. fall the axe'; or rather, let the criminal fall, &c. MALONE.
a Lot but your honour know,] To know is here to examine, , to take cognisance. So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream :
Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires ; • Know of your youth, examine well your blood. JOHNSON. 3 Err’d in this point, which now you censure him, ] Some word seems to be wanting to make this line sense. Perhaps, we should read :
“ Err'd in this point which now you censure him for. STEEVENS. The sense undoubtedly requires, which now you censure Him for," but the text certainly appears as the poet left it.
I have elsewhere shewn that he frequently uses these elliptical expreflions.
Ang. 'Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus, Another thing to fall. I not deny, The jury, passing on the prisoner's life, May, in the sworn twelve, have a thief or two Guiltier than him they try : What's open made to
justice, That justice seizes. What know the laws. That thieves do pass on thieves?' 'Tis very prega
Escal. Be it as your wisdom will.
Where is the provost?
4 That jufice seizes.] For the sake of- metre, I think we should read, -seizes on; or, perhaps, we should regulate the passage thus:
Guiltier than him they try: What's open made
What know the laws, That thieves do pass on thieves? ] How can the adminiftrators of the laws take cognizance of what I have just mentioned ? How can they know, whether the jurymen who decide on the life or death of thieves be themselves as criminal as those whom they try? To pass on is a forenfick term. MALONE. So, in King Leat, A&. II), sc. vii:
Though well we may not pass upon his life.” See my noie on this paslage. STEEVENS.
6 'Tis very pregnant, } *Iis plain that we must a& with bad as with good; we punish the faults, as we take the advantages that liç in our way, and what we do not fee we cannot note.
Johnson. 7 For I have had — ] That is, becauses by reason that I have had such faults. JOHNSON.
Prov. Here, if it like
your honour. ANG.
See that Claudio Be executed by nine to-morrow morning: Bring him his confessor, let him be prepar'd; For that's the utmost of his pilgrimage.
[Exit Provost. ESCAL. Well, heaven forgive him! and forgive
Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall:
8 Some rife, &c.) This line is in the first folio printed in Italics as a quotation. All the folios read in the next line : 1 Somo run from brakes of ice, and answer none.
Johnson. The old reading is, perhaps, the true one, and may mean, fome Tun. away from danger, and stay to answer none of their faults, whilft others are condemned only on account of a single frailty. If this be the true reading, it should be printed :
Some run from breaks [i. e. fra&ures ] of ice, &c. Since I suggested this, I have found reason to change my opinion, A brake anciently meant not only a sharp bit, a fnaffie, but also the engine with which farriers confined the legs of such unruly horses as would not otherwise submit themselves to be shod, or to have a cruel operation performed on them. This, in some places, is still called a smith's brake. In this laft sense, Ben Jonson uses the word in his Underwoods :
66 And not think he had eat a flake,
for the former sense, see Thé Silent Woman, A& IV. Again, for the latter sense, Buty do Ambois, by Chapman:
Or, like a strumpet, learn to set my face
". In an eternal brake. Again, in The Opportunity, by Shirley, 1640:
c. He is fallen into some brake, some wench has tied him by the legs. Again, in Holland's Leaguer, 1633 :
her I'll make 6. A ftale, to catch this courtier in a brake." 1 offer these quotations, which may prove of use to some more fortunate conje&urer; but am able myself in derive very little from them to suit the paffage before us.