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DUM. Once more I'll read the ode that I have


BIRON. Once more I'll mark how love can vary


DUM. On a day, (alack the day!)
Love, whose month is ever May,
Spied a blossom, passing fair,
Playing in the wanton air:

Through the velvet leaves the wind,
All unseen, 'gan passage find*;
That the lover, sick to death,
Wish'd himself the heaven's breath.
Air, quoth he, thy cheeks may blow;
Air, would I might triumph so!
But alack, my hand is sworn 6,

Ne'er to pluck thee from thy thorn":


young gallants of that age, to stab themselves in the arms, or elsewhere, in order to drink their mistress's health, or write her name in their blood, as a proof their passion.

Thus, in The Humorous Lieutenant, a gentleman gives the following description of him, when in love with the King:


Thus he begins, though light and life of creatures,

Angel-ey'd king, vouchsafe at length thy favour; "And so proceeds to incision."

But the custom is more particularly described in Johnson's Cynthia's Revels, where Phantaste, describing the different modes of making love, says :-"A fourth with stabbing himself, and drinking healths, or writing languishing letters in his blood."And in the Palinode, at the end of the play, Amorphus says: "From stabbing of arms, &c. Good Mercury deliver us!'

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4 'GAN passage find;] The quarto, 1598, and the first folio, have-can. Corrected by Mr. Theobald. In the line next but one, Wish (the reading of the old copies) was corrected by the editor of the second folio. MALOne.

5 AIR, would I might triumph so!] Perhaps we may better read:



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Ah! would I might triumph so! JOHNSON.

my hand is sworn,] A copy of this sonnet is printed in England's Helicon, 1614, and reads:


But, alas! my hand hath sworn."

It is likewise printed as Shakspeare's, in Jaggard's Collection 1599. STEEVENS.

Vow, alack, for youth unmeet;
Youth so apt to pluck a sweet.
Do not call it sin in me,

That I am forsworn for thee:

Thou for whom even Jove would swear,
Juno but an Ethiop were;

And deny himself for Jove,

Turning mortal for thy love.

This will I send ; and something else more plain,
That shall express my true love's fasting pain 9.
O, would the King, Birón, and Longaville,
Were lovers too! Ill, to example ill,

Would from my forehead wipe a perjur'd note;
For none offend, where all alike do dote.

LONG. Dumain, [advancing,] thy love is far from charity,

That in love's grief desir'st society:

You may look pale, but I should blush, I know,
To be o'erheard, and taken napping so.

KING. Come, sir, [advancing,] you blush; as his your case is such;

You chide at him, offending twice as much :

7-from thy THORN:] So, Mr. Pope. The original copies read-throne. MALONE.

8 EVEN Jove would swear,] The word even has been supplied; and the two preceding lines are wanting in the copy published in England's Helicon, 1614. STEEVENS.

Swear is here used as a dissyllable. Mr. Pope, not attending to this, reads-ev'n Jove, which has been adopted by the subsequent editors. MALONE.

I have endeavoured to shew in the Essay on Shakspeare's Versification, that the word inserted by Mr. Pope was unnecessary, without having recourse to Mr. Malone's suggestion of making swear a dissyllable. BoswELL.

I would willingly abandon the adoption, if I could read the line without it, and persuade myself that I was reading a verse. But when was swear ever used as a dissyllable, at the end of a verse? STEEVENS.


my true love's FASTING pain.] Fasting is longing, hungry, wanting. JOHNSON.

You do not love Maria; Longaville
Did never sonnet for her sake compile ;
Nor never lay his wreathed arms athwart
His loving bosom, to keep down his heart.
I have been closely shrouded in this bush,
And mark'd you both, and for you both did blush.
I heard your guilty rhymes, observ'd your fashion;
Saw sighs reek from you, noted well your passion :
Ay me! says one; O Jove! the other cries;
One, her hairs1 were gold, crystal the other's eyes :
You would for paradise break faith and troth;

And Jove, for your love, would infringe an oath.
What will Birón say, when that he shall hear
Faith infringed, which such zeal did swear??
How will he scorn? how will he spend his wit?
How will he triumph, leap, and laugh at it?
For all the wealth that ever I did see,

I would not have him know so much by me. BIRON. Now step I forth to whip hypocrisy.Ah, good my liege, I pray thee pardon me:

[Descends from the tree.

'ONE, her hairs-] The folio reads-On her hairs, &c. I some years ago conjectured that we should read-One, her hairs were gold, &c. i. e. the hairs of one of the ladies were of the colour of gold, and the eyes of the other as clear as crystal. The King is speaking of the panegyricks pronounced by the two lovers on their mistresses. On examining the first quarto, 1598, I have found my conjecture confirmed; for so it reads. One and on are frequently confounded in the old copies of our author's plays. See a note on King John, Act III. Sc. III. MALONE.

A faith infring'd, which such a zeal did swear?] The repeated article A (which is wanting in the oldest copy) appears to have been judiciously restored by the editor of the folio 1632. At least, I shall adopt his supplement, till some hardy critick arises and declares himself satisfied with the following line :

"Faith infringed, which such zeal did swear?" in which “ze—al" must be employed as a dissyllable. See Mr. Malone's note, p. 372. STEEVENS.

See the Essay on Shakspeare's Versification. BoSWELL.

Good heart, what grace hast thou, thus to re


These worms for loving, that art most in love?
Your eyes do make no coaches*; in your tears,
There is no certain princess that appears:
You'll not be perjur'd, 'tis a hateful thing;
Tush, none but minstrels like of sonneting.
But are you not asham'd? nay, are you not,
All three of you, to be thus much o'ershot?
You found his mote*; the king your mote* did


But I a beam do find in each of three.

O, what a scene of foolery I have seen,
Of sighs, of groans, of sorrow, and of teen"!
O me, with what strict patience have I sat,
To see a king transformed to a gnat"!

*First folio and quarto, moth.

3 These WORMS for loving,] So, in The Tempest, Prospero addressing Miranda, says


Poor worm, thou art infected."


4 Your eyes do make no COACHES ;] Alluding to a passage in the king's sonnet :

"No drop but as a coach doth carry thee." STEEVens. The old copy has-couches. Mr. Pope corrected it. MALONE. TEEN!] i. e. grief. So, in The Tempest:


"To think o' the teen that I have turn'd you to."


6 To see a king transformed to a GNAT!] Mr. Theobald and the succeeding editors read—to a knot. MALONE.

Knot has no sense that can suit this place. We may readsot. The rhymes in this play are such as that sat and sot may be well enough admitted. JOHNSON.

A knot is, I believe, a true lover's knot, meaning that the king laid

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so long; i. e. remained so long in the lover's posture, that he seemed actually transformed into a knot. The word sat is in some counties pronounced sot. This may account for the seeming want of exact rhyme.


In the old comedy of Albumazar, the same thought occurs:
Why should I twine my arms to cables?"
So, in The Tempest :

To see great Hercules whipping a gig,
And profound Solomon to tune * a jig,
And Nestor play at push-pin with theb oys,
And critick Timon' laugh at idle toys!


* First folio, tuning. sitting,

"His arms in this sad knot.”

Again, in Titus Andronicus :



Marcus, unknit that sorrow-wreathen knot :

Thy niece and I, poor creatures, want our hands, "And cannot passionate our ten-fold grief

"With folded arms."

Again, in The Raging Turk, 1631:



as he walk'd,

Folding his arms up in a pensive knot."

The old copy, however, reads-a gnat, and Mr. Tollet seems to think it contains an allusion to St. Matthew, xxiii. 24, where the metaphorical term of a gnat means a thing of least importance, or what is proverbially small. The smallness of a gnat is likewise mentioned in Cymbeline. STEEVENS.

A knott is likewise a Lincolnshire bird of the snipe kind. It is foolish even to a proverb, and it is said to be easily ensnared. Ray, in his Ornithology, observes, that it took its name from Canute, who was particularly fond of it. COLLINS.

So, in The Alchemist:

"My foot-boy shall eat pheasants, &c.

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Again, in the 25th song of Drayton's Polyolbion :

"The knot that called was Canutus' bird of old,

"Of that great king of Danes his name that still doth hold, "His appetite to please that far and near were sought." STEEVENS.

"To see a king transformed to a gnat !" Alluding to the singing of that insect, suggested by the poetry the king had been detected in. HEATH.

The original reading, and Mr. Heath's explanation of it, are confirmed by a passage in Spenser's Fairy Queene, b. ii. c. ix. : "As when a swarme of gnats at even tide "Out of the fennes of Ällan doe arise,

"Their murmuring small trompettes sounden wide," &c.

MALONE. Gnat is undoubtedly the true reading, and is that, it seems, of the old copy. Biron is abusing the King for his sonnetting like a minstrel, and compares him to a gnat, which always sings as it flies. Besides, the word gnat preserves the rhyme, which is here to be attended to. M. MASON.

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