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To make my lady laugh, when she's dispos'd,—
Told our intents before: which once disclos'd,
The ladies did change favours; and then we,
Following the signs, woo'd but the sign of she.
Now, to our perjury to add more terror,
We are again forsworn; in will, and error.
Much upon this it is * :—And might not you4,


Forestal our sport, to make us thus untrue?

* Folio and quarto, 'tit.

in Essex. Perhaps this itinerant droll was here in our author's thoughts. This circumstance adds some support to the emendation now made. From the following passage in Sir John Oldcastle, 1600, it seems to have been a common term for a noisy swaggerer:

"O he, sir, he's a desperate Dick indeed; "Bar him your house." Again, in Kemp's Nine Daies Wonder, &c. 4to. 1600: "A boy arm'd with a poking stick "Will dare to challenge cutting Dick." Again, in The Epistle Dedicatorie to Nashe's Have With You to Saffron Walden, 1596: "— nor Dick Swash, or Desperate Dick, that's such a terrible cutter at a chine of beef, and devoures more meat at ordinaries in discoursing of his fraies, and deep acting of his flashing and hewing, than would serve half a dozen brewers draymen." Malone.

As the aptitude of my quotation from Twelfth-Night is questioned, I shall defend it, and without much effort; for Mr. Malone himself must, on recollection, allow that in, throughout the plays of Shakspeare, is often used for into. Thus, in King Richard III.:

"But first, I'll turn yon fellow in his grave." I really conceived this usage of the preposition in, to have been too frequent to need exemplification. Steevens. ♦ — in will, ana error. Much upon this it is :—And might not you,] I believe this passage should be read thus:

"—— in will and error. "Boyet. Much upon this it is. "Biron. And might not you," &c. Johnson. "In will, and error." i. e. first in will, and afterwards in error.


Do not you know my lady's foot by the squire5,

And laugh upon the apple of her eye?
And stand between her back, sir, and the fire,

Holding a trencher, jesting merrily?
You put our page out: Go, you are allow'd6;
Die when you will, a smock shall be your shroud.
You leer upon me, do you? there's an eye,
Wounds like a leaden sword.

Boyet. Full merrily

Hath this brave manage7, this career, been run.

Biron. Lo, he is tilting straight! Peace; I have done.

Enter Costard.

Welcome, pure wit! thou partest a fair fray.

Cost. O Lord, sir, they would know, Whether the three worthies shall come in, or no.

Biron. What, are there but three?

Cost. No, sir; but it is vara fine,

For every one pursents three.

Biron. And three times thrice is nine.

5 — by the sauirE,] From esquierre, French, a rule, or square. The sense is nearly the same as that of the proverbial expression in our own language, he hath got the length of her foot; i. e. he hath humoured her so long that he can persuade her to what he pleases. Heath.

Squire, in our author's time was the common term for a rule. See Minsheu's Dict, in v. The word occurs again in the Winter's Tale. Malone.

So, in Philemon Holland's translation of the Seventh Book of Pliny's Natural History, ch. 56: "As for the rule and squire, &c. Theodoras Samius devised them." Steevens.

6 — Go, you are Allow'd ;] i. e. you may say what you will; you are a licensed fool, a common jester. So, in TwelfthNight:

"There is no slander in an allow'd fool." Warburton. 1 Hath this brave Manage,] The old copy has manager. Corrected by Mr. Theobald. Malone.

Cost. Not so, sir; under correction, sir; I hope, it is not so:

You cannot beg us8, sir, I can assure you, sir; we

know what we know: I hope, sir, three times thrice, sir,— Biron. Is not nine.

Cost. Under correction, sir, we know whereuntil it doth amount.

Biron. By Jove, I always took three threes for nine.

Cost. O Lord, sir, it were pity you should get your living by reckoning, sir. B/ron. How much is it?

Cost. O Lord, sir, the parties themselves, the actors, sir, will show whereuntil it doth amount: for my own part, I am, as they say, but to parfect one man,—e'en one poor man 9; Pompion the great, sir.

Biron. Art thou one of the worthies?

Cost. It pleased them, to think me worthy of Pompion the great: for mine own part, I know not

8 You cannot Beg Us,] That is, we are not fools; our next relations cannot beg the wardship of our persons *and fortunes. One of the legal tests of a natural is to try whether he can number.


It is the wardship of Lunaticks not Ideots that devolves upon the next relations. Shakspeare, perhaps, as well as Dr. Johnson, was not aware of the distinction. Douce.

It was not the next relation only who begg'd the wardship of an ideot. "A rich fool was begg'd by a lord of the king; and the lord coming to another nobleman's house, the fool saw the picture of a fool in the hangings, which he cut out; and being chidden for it, answered, you have more cause to love me for it; for if my lord had seen the picture of the fool in the hangings, he would certainly have begg'd them of the king, as he did my lands." Cabinet of Mirth, I(i74. Ritson.

9 — one man,—E'en one poor man ;] The old copies read— in one poor man. For the emendation I am answerable. The same mistake has happened in several places in our author's plays. See my note on All's Well that Ends Well, Act I. Sc. III.: "You are shallow, madam," &c. Malone.

the degree of the worthy; but I am to stand for

Biron. Go, bid them prepare.
Cost. We will turn it finely off, sir; we will take
some care. [Exit Costard.

King. Biron, they will shame us, let them not

Biron. We are shame-proof, my lord: and 'tis
some policy
To have one show worse than the king's and his
King. I say, they shall not come.
Prin. Nay, my good lord, let me o'er-rule you

, now;

That sport best pleases, that doth least* know how:

Where zeal strives to content, and the contents

Die in the zeal of them which it presents,

Their form confounded makes most form in mirth2;

When great things labouring perish in their birth 3.

* Quarto, best.

1 — I know not the degree of the worthy; &c.] This is a stroke

of satire which, to this hour, has lost nothing of its force. Few

performers are solicitous about the history of the character they

are to represent. Steevens.

1 That sport best pleases, that doth least know how:

Where zeal strives to content, and the contents

Die in the zeal of Them which It presents,

Their form, &c.] The old copies read—of that which it

presents. Steevens.

The third line may be read better thus:

—— "the contents

"Die in the zeal of him which them presents."

This sentiment of the Princess is very natural, but less gene-
rous than that of the Amazonian Queen, who says, on a like oc-
casion, in A Midsummer-Night's Dream:

"I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharg'd,
"Nor duty in his service perishing." Johnson.
This passage, as it stands, is unintelligible.—Johnson's amend-
ment makes it grammatical, but does not make it sense. What
does he mean by the contents which die in the zeal of him who
presents them? The word content, when signifying an aftection
of the mind, has no plural. Perhaps we should read thus:

Biron. A right description of our sport, my lord.

Enter Armado *. Arm. Anointed, I implore so much expence of

"Where zeal strives to content, and the content

"Lies in the zeal of those which it present —" A similar sentiment, and on a similar occasion, occurs in A Midsummer-Night's Dream, when Philostrate says of the play they were about to exhibit:

"— It is nothing,

"Unless you can find sport in their intents

"Extremely stretch'd, and conn'd with cruel pain,

"To do you service." M. Mason. The quarto, 1598, and the folio, 1623, read—of that which it presents. The context, I think, clearly shows that Mem (which, as the passage is unintelligible in its original form, I have ventured to substitute,) was the poet's word. Which for who is common in our author. So, (to give one instance out of many,) in The Merchant of Venice:

"——— a civil doctor,

"Which did refuse three thousand ducats of me :" and ym and y' were easily confounded: nor is the false concord introduced by this reading [of them who presents it,] any objection to it; for every page of these plays furnishes us with examples of the same kind. So dies in the present line, for thus the old copy reads; though here, and in almost every other passage, where a similar corruption occurs, I have followed the example of my predecessors, and corrected the error. Where rhymes or metre, however, are concerned, it is impossible. Thus we must Still read in Cymbeline, lies, as in the line before us, presents i

"And Phoebus 'gins to rise.

"His steeds to water at those springs

"On chalic'd flowers that lies." Again, in the play before us:

"That in this spleen ridiculous appears,

"To check their folly, passion's solemn tears." Again, in The Merchant of Venice:

"Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect." Dr. Johnson would read:

"Die in the zeal of him which them presents." But him was not, I believe, abbreviated in old MSS. and therefore not likely to have been confounded with that. . The word it, I believe, refers to sport. That sport, says the Princess,—pleases best, where the actors are least skilful; where

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