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[ Aside to PEDRO] I did never think that lady would have loved any man.
Leon. No, nor I neither; but most wonderful, that she should so dote on signior Benedick, whom she hath in all outward behaviours seem'd ever to abhor. Bene. Is 't possible? Sits the wind in that corner?
(Aside. Leon. By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think of it; but that she loves him with an enraged affection, it is past the infinite of thought.5
Again, in the 25th Song of Drayton's Polyolbion:
“One underneath his horse to get a shoot doth stalk." Again, in his Muses' Elysium: " Then underneath my horse, I stalk my game to strike.”
Steevens. Again, in New Shreds of the Old Snare, by John Gee, quarto, p.23: “ - Methinks I behold the cunning fowler, such as I have knowne in the fenne countries and els-where, that doe shoot at woodcockes, snipes, and wilde fowle, by sneaking behind a painted cloth which they carrey before them, having pictured in it the shape of a horse; which while the silly fowle gazeth on, it is knockt downe with hale shot, and so put in the fowler's budget." Reed.
A stalking-bull, with a cloth thrown over him, was sometimes used for deceiving the game; as may be seen from a very elegant cut in Loniceri Venatus et Aucupium. Francofurti, 1582, 4to. and from a print by F. Valeggio, with the motto
“Veste boves operit, dum sturnos fallit edaces.” Douce. 5 b ut that she loves him with an enraged affection,-it is past the infinite of thought.] It is impossible to make sense and grammar of this speech. And the reason is, that the two beginnings of two different sentences are jumbled together and made one. For-but that she loves him with an enraged affection, is only part of a sentence, which should conclude thus,-is most certain. But a new idea striking the speaker, he leaves his sentence unfinished, and turns to another, It is past the infinite of thought, which is likewise left unfinished; for it should conclude thusto say how great that affection is. Those broken disjointed sen. tences are usual in conversation. However, there is one word wrong, which yet perplexes the sense; and that is infinite. Hu. man thought cannot surely be called infinite with any kind of figurative propriety. I suppose the true reading was definite. This makes the passage intelligible. It is past the definite of thought,
-i. e. it cannot be defined or conceived how great that affection is. Shakspeare uses the word again in the same sense in Cymbeline:
“ For ideots, in this case of favour, would
“ Be wisely definite." i. e. could tell how to pronounce or determine in the case.
D. Pedro. May be, she doth but counterfeit.
Leon. O God! counterfeit! There never was counterfeit of passion came so near the life of passion, as she discovers it.
D. Pedro. Why, what effects of passion shows she? Claud. Bait the hook well; this fish will bite. [Aside.
Leon. What effects, my lord! She will sit you,—You heard my daughter tell you how.
Claud. She did, indeed.
D. Pedro. How, how, I pray you? You amaze me: I would have thought her spirit had been invincible against all assaults of affection.
Leon. I would have sworn it had, my lord; especially against Benedick.
Bene. [Aside] I should think this a gull, but that the white-bearded fellow speaks it: knavery cannot, sure, hide himself in such reverence.
Claud. He hath ta'en the infection; hold it up. [Aside.
D. Pedro. Hath she made her affection known to Benedick?
Leon. No; and swears she never will: that's her torment.
Claud. 'Tis true, indeed; so your daughter says: Shall I, says she, that have so oft encounter'd him with scorn, write to him that I love him?
Leon. This says she now when she is beginning to write to him: for she 'll be up twenty times a night; and there will she sit in her smock, till she have writ a sheet of paper:6-my daughter tells us all.
Here are difficulties raised only to show how easily they can be removed. The plain sense is, I know not what to think otherwise, but that she loves him with an enraged affection: It (this affection) is past the infinite of thought. Here are no abrupt stops, or imperfect sentences. Infinite may well enough stand; it is used by more careful writers for indefinite : and the speaker only means, that thought, though in itself unbounded, cannot reach or estimate the degree of her passion. Yohnson.
The meaning I think, is--but with what an enraged affection she loves him, it is beyonu the power of thought to conceive. Malone. Shakspeare has a similar expression in King John :
“Beyond the infinite and boundless reach
“ Of mercy .” Steevens. * This says she now when she is beginning to write to him: for Claud. Now you talk of a sheet of paper, I remember a pretty jest your daughter told us of.
Leon. (!-When she had writ it, and was reading it over, she found Benedick and Beatrice between the sheet? * Claud. That.
Leon. O! she tore the letter into a thousand halfpense;7 rail'd at herself, that she should be so immodest to write to one that she knew would flout her: I measure him, says she, by my own spirit; for I should flout him, if he writ to me; yea, though I love him, I should.
Claud. Then down upon her knees she falls, weeps,
she'll be up twenty times a night; and there will she sit in her smock, till she have writ a sheet of paper :] Shakspeare has more than once availed himself of such incidents as occurred to him from history, &c. to compliment the princes before whom his pieces were performed. A striking instance of flattery to James occurs in Macbeth; perhaps the passage here quoted was not less grateful to Elizabeth, as it apparently alludes to an extraordinary trait in one of the letters pretended to have been written by the hated Mary to Bothwell :
"I am nakit, and ganging to sleep, and zit I cease not to scribble all this paper, in so meikle as rest is thairof.” That is, I am naked, and going to sleep, and yet I cease not to scribble to the end of my paper, much as there remains of it unwritten on. Henley.
Mr. Henley's observation must fall to the ground; the word in every edition of Mary's letter which Shakspeare could possibly have seen, being irkit, not nakit. “ I am irkit” means, I am uneasy. So, in As you Like it :
“ And yet it irks me, the poor dappled fools,” &c. Again, in K. Henry VI:
“ It irks his heart he cannot be reveng'd.” Steevens. : 70! she tore the letter into a thousand halfpense;] i. e. into a thousand pieces of the same bigness. So, in As you Like it : “they were all like one another, as halfpense are.” Theobald.
A farthing, and perhaps a halfpenny, was used to signify any small particle or division. So, in the character of the Prioress in Chaucer: '
“ That in hire cuppe was no ferthing sene
Prol. to the Cant. Tales, Tyrwhitt's edit. v. 135. Steevens. See Mortimeriados, by Michael Drayton, 4to. 1596:
“She now begins to write unto her lover,
sobs, beats her heart, tears her hair, prays, curses; O sweet Benedick! God give me patience!
Leon. She doth indeed; my daughter says so: and the ecstasy8 hath so much overborne her, that my daughter is sometime afraid she will do a desperate outrage to herself; It is very true.
D. Pedro. It were good, that Benedick knew of it by some other, if she will not discover it.
Claud. To what end? He would but make a sport of it, and torment the poor lady worse.
D. Pedro. An he should, it were an alms to hang him: She's an excellent sweet lady; and, out of all suspicion, she is virtuous.
Claud. And she is exceeding wise. D. Pedro. In every thing, but in loving Benedick. Leon. O my lord, wisdom and blood o combating in so tender a body, we have ten proofs to one, that blood hath the victory. I am sorry for her, as I have just cause, being her uncle and her guardian.
D. Pedro. I would, she had bestowed this dotage on me: I would have daff'di all other respects, and made her half myself: I pray you, tell Benedick of it, and hear what he will say.
Leon. Were it good, think you?
Claud. Hero thinks surely, she will die: for she says, she will die if he love her not; and she will die ere she make her love known; and she will die if he woo her, rather than she will 'bate one breath of her accustom'd crossness.
D. Pedro. She doth well: if she should make tender
8_and the ecstasy -] i. e. alienation of mind. So, in The • Tempest, Act III, sc. iii:-Hinder them from what this ecstasy may now provoke them to.” Steevens.
9_ and blood-] I suppose blood, in this instance, to mean nature, or disposition. So, in The Yorkshire Tragedy: “For 'tis our blood to love what we ’re forbidden."
Steevens. Blood is here as in many other places used by our author in the sense of passion, or rather temperament of body. Malone.
1- have daft'd - ] To daff is the same as to doff, to do off, to put aside. So, in Macbeth:
"_ to doff their dire distresses.” Steevens.
of her love, 'tis very possible he 'll scorn it; for the man, as you know all, hath a contemptible spirit.2
Claud. He is a very proper man.3
D. Pedro. He doth, indeed, show some sparks that are like wit.
Leon. And I take him to be valiant.
D. Pedro. As Hector, I assure you: and in the managing of quarrels you may say he is wise; for either he avoids them with great discretion, or undertakes them with a most christian-like fear.
Leon. If he do fear God, he must necessarily keep peace; if he break the peace, he ought to enter into a quarrel with fear and trembling.
D. Pedro. And so will he do; for the man doth fear God, howsoever it seems not in him, by some large jests he will make. Well, I am sorry for your niece: Shall we go seek Benedick, and tell him of her love?
Claud. Never tell him, my lord; let her wear it out with good counsel. * Leon. Nay, that's impossible; she may wear her heart out first.
D. Pedro. Well, we'll hear further of it by your daughter; let it cool the while. I love Benedick well; and I could wish he would modestly examine himself, to see how much he is unworthy so good a lady. 4
2_ contemptible spirit.] That is, a temper inclined to scorn Ż222222\\\\ūņÂ2Ò2/2/2 2/2/2/2/2/2/2/2/2/2/22ūtiffi2ū2ņ222222 uses his verbal adjectives with great licence. There is therefore no need of changing the word with Sir Thomas Hanmer to conternptuous. Johnson.
In the argument to Darius, a tragedy, by Lord Sterline, 1603, it is said, that Darius wrote to Alexander “in a proud and contemptible manner.” In this place contemptible certainly means contemptuous
Again, Drayton, in the 24th Song of his Polyolbion, speaking · in praise of a hermit, says, that he,
“ The mad tumultuous world contemptibly forsook,
Steevens. 3 — a very proper man.) i. e. a very handsome one. So, in Othello:
“ This Ludovico is a proper man.” Steevens.