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My vouch against you, and my place i'the state,
shall stifle in your own report, And smell of calumny." I have begun; And now I give my sensual.race the rein :: Fit thy consent to my sharp appetite; Lay by all nicety, and proạxious blushes, 9 That banish what they sue for; redeem thy brother By yielding up thy body to my will; Or else he must not only die the death,
My vouch against you,] The calling his denial of her charge his vouch, has something fine. Vouch is the testimony one man bears for another. So that, by this, he insinuates his authority was so great, that his denial would have the fame credit that a vouch or testimony has in ordinary cases. ' WARBURTON.
I believe this beauty is merely imaginary, and that vouch against means no more than denial. JOHNSON. ? 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 a&ually running. 'HEATH.
and prolixious blushes , ] The word prolixious is not peculiar to Shakspeare. I find it in Mofes, his Birth and Miracles, by Drayton :
Most part by water, more prolixious was, ".&c.
- rarifier of prolixious rough barbarism, Again, in Nash's Lenten Stuffi
, &c. 1599: well known unto them by his prolixious sea-wandering." Prolixious blushes niean what Milton has elegantly called
sweet relu&ant delay.” STEEvens.
die the death,] This seems to be a folemn phrase for death infided 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 Dreail. STEEVENS.
The plırase is a good phrase, as Shallow says , but I do not conceive it to be either of legal or fcriptural origin. Chaucer uses it frequently. See Cant. Tales, ver. 607.
6 They were adradde of him, as of the deth.
But thy unkindness shall his death draw out
[Exit. IŞAB. To whom fhould I complain? Did I tell
« The deth be foleth thurgh his herte smite. It seems to have been originally a mistaken translation of the French La Mort.
TYRWHITT. prompture) Suggestion, temptation, instigation.
I had thought, thy mind
A Room in the Prison.
Enter DUKE, CLAUDIO, and Provost.
DUKE. So, then you hope of pardon from lord
Angelo ? CLAUD. The miserable have no other medicine, But only hope: I have hope to live, and am prepar'd to die.
Duke. Be absolute for death ; 6 either death, or
Shall thereby be the sweeter. Reason thus with life,
6 Be absolute for death; } Be determined to dic, without any hope of life. Horace, - The hour which exceeds expeâation will be welcome."
JOHNSON. 7 That none but foois would keep :] But this reading is noi only contrary to all sense and reason, but to the drift of this moral discourse. The Duke, in his assumed chara&er of a friar, is endeavouring to instil into the condemned prisoner a resigua ion of mind to his sentence; but the sense of the lines in this reading, 'is a dire& persuasive to suicide; I make no doubt, but the poet wrote,
That none but fools would reck : is c. care for, be anxious about, regret the loss of. So, in the tragedy of Tancred and Gismund, A& IV. sc. iii :
Not that the recks this life.
WARBURTON. The meaning seeins 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.
JOHNSON Vol. VI.
(Servile to all the skiey influences,) That dost this habitation, where thou keep'st, ? Hourly afflict: merely, thou art death's fool; For him thou labour'st by thy flight to slun, And yet run'st toward him ftill: & Thou art not
Keep, in this place, I believe, may not fignify preserve, but cart for. " No lenger for to liven I ne kepe,” says Æneas in Chaucer's Dido, Queen of Carthage; and elsewhere : " That I kepe not rehearseu be:" i, e. which I care not to have rehearsed. Again, in The Knightes Iale, Tyrwhitt's edit. ver. 2240 :
" I kepe nought of armes for to yelpe. Again, in A Mery Jefte of a Man called Howleglass, bl. 1. no date.
" Then the parlon bad him remember that he had a foule for to kepe, and be preached and teached to him the use of confeffion, STEEVENS.
Mr. Steevens's explanation is confirmed by a passage in The Dutchefs 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. See the Glossary to Mr. Tyrwhitt's edit. of The Canterbury Tales of Chaucer. v. kepe. MALONE.
7 That doft this habitation, where thou keep lt, ] Sir T. Hanmer changed dnst to do without necesity or authority. The constru&ion
16 the ikicy influences that do, but, a breath thou art, that doft," &c. If Servile to all the skiey influences" be inclosed in a parenthesis, all the difficulty will vanish. Porson.
merely, thou art death's fool;
And yet runjt toward him Nill:] 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 ftratagems 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' publick diversions, I suppose it was, that the old proverb arose, of being merry and wise. WARBURTON,
For all the accommodations that thou bear'it,
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
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 ftage. REED.
There are no such chara&ers 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 Survey, 1603, which have been mistaken for these two personages, have no allusion whatever to the stage, being merely one of the fet known by the name of Death's Dance, and a&ually copied from the margin of an old Millal. The scene in the modern pantomime of Harlequin Skeleton, seems to have been suggested by some playhouse tradition of Death and the Fool. RITSON.
9 Are nurs'd by baseness :] Dr. Warburton is undoubtedly mistaken in fuppofing that by baseness is meant self-love, here assigned as the motive of all human adions. 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 exprefs. So, in Antony and Cleopatra :
our dungy earth alike
" Which sleeps, and never palates more the dung,