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You cannot make gross sins look clear;
To revenge is no valour, but to bear.
ALCIB. My lords, then, under favour, pardon
If I speak like a captain,
Why do fond men expose themselves to battle,
And th' ass, more captain than the lion; the fellow',
5-threatnings?] Old copy-threats. This slight, but judicious change, is Sir Thomas Hanmer's. In the next line but one, he also added, for the sake of metre,-but-. STEEVENS.
what MAKE WE
Abroad?] What do we, or what have we to do in the field.
See vol. viii. p. 150, n. 5.
7 And th' ass, MORE CAPTAIN than the lion, &c.] Here is another arbitrary regulation [the omission of—captain]: the original reads thus:
"Abroad? why then, women are more valiant
"That stay at home, if bearing carry it:
"And the ass, more captain than the lion,
"The fellow, loaden with irons, wiser than the judge,
"If wisdom," &c.
I think it may be better adjusted thus:
what make we
"Abroad? why then the women are more valiant
"If bearing carry it, then is the ass
"More captain than the lion; and the felon
“Loaden with irons, wiser," &c. JOHNSON.
if bearing carry it : Dr. Johnson when he proposed to connect this hemistich with the following line instead of the preceding words, seems to have forgot one of our author's favourite propensities. I have no doubt that the present arrangement is right.
Mr. Pope, who rejected whatever he did not like, omitted the
Loaden with irons, wiser than the judge,
Who cannot condemn rashness in cold blood?
words" more captain." They are supported by what Alcibiades has already said:
"My lords, then, under favour, pardon me,
"If I speak like a captain."
and by Shakspeare's 66th Sonnet, where the word captain is used with at least as much harshness as in the text:
"And captive good attending captain ill."
Again, in another of his Sonnets:
"Like stones of worth they thinly placed are,
"Or captain jewels in the carkanet."
Dr. Johnson with great probability proposes to read felon instead of fellow. MALONE.
The word captain has been very injudiciously restored. That it cannot be the author's is evident from its spoiling what will otherwise be a metrical line. Nor is his using it elsewhere any proof that he meant to use it here. RITSON.
I have not scrupled to insert Dr. Johnson's emendation, felon, for fellow in the text; but do not perceive how the line can become strictly metrical by the omission of the word-captain, unless, with Sir Thomas Hanmer, we transpose the conjunction-and, and read:
"The ass more than the lion, and the felon.”
Fellow is a common term of contempt. Boswell. 8 sin's extremest GUST;] Gust, for aggravation.
Gust is here in its common sense: the utmost degree of appetite for sin. JOHNSON.
I believe gust means rashness. The allusion may be to a sudden gust of wind. STEEVENS.
So we say, it was done in a sudden gust of passion. MALONE. 9 — by MERCY, 'tis most just.] By mercy is meant equity.
But we must read:
'tis made just."
WARBURTON. Mercy is not put for equity. If such explanation be allowed, what can be difficult? The meaning is, I call mercy herself to witness, that defensive violence is just.' JOHNSON.
The meaning, I think, is, 'Homicide in our own defence, by a merciful and lenient interpretation of the laws, is considered as justifiable. MALONE.
To be in anger, is impiety;
But who is man, that is not angry?
2 SEN. You breathe in vain.
In vain ? his service done
At Lacedæmon, and Byzantium, Were a sufficient briber for his life. 1 SEN. What's that?
ALCIB. Why, I say, my lords, h'as done fair service,
And slain in fight many of your enemies:
In the last conflict, and made plenteous wounds? 2 SEN. He has made too much plenty with 'em 2.
He's a sworn rioter": he has a sin that often
Dr. Johnson's explanation is the more spirited; but a passage in King John should seem to countenance that of Mr. Malone: Some sins do bear their privilege on earth,
"And so doth yours
Why, I say,] The personal pronoun was inserted by the editor of the second folio. MALONE.
with 'EM,] The folio-with him. JOHNSON.
The correction was made by the editor of the second folio. MALONE.
3 Is a SWORN RIOTER:] A sworn rioter is a man who practises riot, as if he had by an oath made it his duty. JOHNSON. The expression a sworn rioter, seems to be similar to that of sworn brothers. See Henry V. Act. II. Sc. I. MALONE.
4-alone-] This word was judiciously supplied by Sir Thomas Hanmer to complete the measure. Thus, in All's Well That Ends Well:
"Is good." STEEVENS.
1 SEN. He dies.
ALCIB. Hard fate! he might have died in war. My lords, if not for any parts in him,
(Though his right arm might purchase his own time,
And be in debt to none,) yet, more to move you, Take my deserts to his, and join them both: And, for I know, your reverend ages love
Security, I'll pawn my victories, all
My honour to you,
upon his good returns. If by this crime he owes the law his life, Why, let the war receiv't in valiant gore; For law is strict, and war is nothing more.
1 SEN. We are for law, he dies; urge it no more, On height of our displeasure: Friend, or brother, He forfeits his own blood, that spills another.
ALCIB. Must it be so? it must not be. My lords,
I do beseech you, know me.
2 SEN. HOW?
ALCIB. Call me to your remembrances 6.
ALCIB. I cannot think, but your age has forgot
It could not else be, I should prove so base 7,
- your reverend ages love
SECURITY, I'll PAWN, &c.] He charges them obliquely with
So afterwards :
"That makes the senate ugly." MALONE.
remembrances.] Is here used as a word of five syllables. In the singular number it occurs as a quadrisyllable only. See Twelfth-Night, Act I. Sc. I. :
"And lasting in her sad remembrance." STEEVENS.. 7 I should prove so BASE,] Base, for dishonoured.
Do you dare our anger?
'Tis in few words, but spacious in effect *;
We banish thee for ever.
Banish your dotage; banish usury,
That makes the senate ugly.
1 SEN. If, after two days' shine, Athens contain
Attend our weightier judgment. And, not to swell our spirit9,
He shall be executed presently. [Exeunt Senators. ALCIB. Now the gods keep you old enough; that you may live
Only in bone, that none may look on you!
I am worse than mad: I have kept back their foes,
8 Do you dare our anger
'Tis in few words, but spacious in effect;] This reading may pass, but perhaps the author wrote:
not to put
""Tis few in words, but spacious in effect." JOHNSON. 9 And, NOT to swell OUR spirit,] I believe, means ourselves into any tumour of rage, take our definitive resolution.' So, in King Henry VIII. Act III. Sc, I. :
The hearts of princes kiss obedience,
"So much they love it; but, to stubborn spirits,
“They swell and grow as terrible as storms." STEEVENS. 1-HA! banishment?] Thus the second folio. Its everblundering predecessor omits the interjection ha! and consequently spoils the metre.-The same exclamation occurs in Romeo and Juliet:
"Ha! banishment? be merciful, say-death.”