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Than our fore-goers : the mére word's a slave,
BER. I cannot love her, nor will strive to do't.
strive to choose. HEL. That you are well restor’d, my lord, I am
glad; Let the rest go.
King. My honour's at the stake; which to defeat, I must produce my power:: Here, take her hand, Proud scornful boy, unworthy this good gift;
*My honour's at the stake ; which to defeat,
I must produce my power :] The poor King of France is again made a man of Gotham, by our unmerciful editors. For he is not to make use of his authority to defeat, but to defend, his honour. THEOBALD.
Had Mr. Theobald been aware that the implication or clause of the sentence (as the grammarians say) served for the antecedent “ Which danger to defeat,” there had been no need of his wit or his alteration. Farmer.
Notwithstanding Mr. Theobald's pert censure of former edi. tors for retaining the word defeat, I should be glad to see it restored again, as I am persuaded it is the true reading. The French verb defaire (from whence our defeat) signifies to free, to disembarrass, as well as to destroy. Defaire un ncèud, is to untie a knot; and in this sense, I apprehend, defeat is here used. It may be observed, that our verb undo has the same varieties of signification; and I suppose even Mr. Theobald would not have been much puzzled to find the sense of this passage, if it had been written ;— My honour's at the stake, which to undo I must produce my power. Tyrwhitt,
That dost in vile misprision shackle up
BER. Pardon, my gracious lord ; for I submit
that canst not dream,
Shall weigh thee to the beam ;] That canst not understand, that if you and this maiden should be weighed together, and our royal favours should be thrown into her scale, (which you esteem so light,) we should make that in which you should be placed, to strike the beam. MALONE.
? Into the staggers,] One species of the staggers, or the horse's apoplexy, is a raging impatience, which makes the animal dash himself with a destructive violence against posts or walls. To this the allusion, I suppose, is made. JOHNSON.
Shakspeare has the same expression in Cymbeline, where Posthumus says:
“ Whence come these staggers on me?" STEEVENS.
Take her by the hand,
I take her hand.
And be perform’d to-night:] Several of the modern editors read-new-born brief. STEEVENS.
This, if it be at all intelligible, is at least obscure and inaccu. rate. Perhaps it was written thus: odontol o n
what ceremony Shall seem expedient on the now-born brief, bo l lers Shall be perform’d to-night ; the solemn feast Bran
Shall more attend The brief is the contract of espousal, or the licence of the church. The King means, What ceremony is necessary to make this contract a marriage, shall be immediately performed; the rest may be delayed. Johnson.
The only authentick copy reads-now-born. I do not perceive that any change is necessary. Malone.
The whole speech is unnaturally expressed; yet I think it in. telligible as it stands, and should therefore reject Johnson's amendment and explanation.
The word brief does not here denote either a contract or a licence, but is an adjective, and means short or contracted : and the words on the now-born, signify for the present, in opposition to upon the coming space, which means hereafter. The sense of the whole passage seems to be this :-" The king and fortune smile on this contract; the ceremony of which it seems expedient to abridge for the present; the solemn feast shall be performed at a future time, when we shall be able to assemble friends.” M. Mason.
Though I have inserted the foregoing note, I do not profess to comprehend its meaning fully. Shakspeare used the words
Shall more attend upon the commg space,
and Attendants. LAF. Do you hear, monsieur ? a word with you. PAR. Your pleasure, sir ?
expedience, expedient, and expediently, in the sense of haste, quick, expeditiously. A brief, in ancient language, means any short and summary writing or proceeding. The now-born brief is only another phrase for the contract recently and suddenly made. The ceremony of it (says the king) shall seem to hasten after its short preliminary, and be performed to-night, &c.
POSTEEVENS. Now-born, the epithet in the old copy, prefixed to brief, unquestionably ought to be restored. The now-born brief, is the breve originale of the feudal times, which, in this instance, formally notified the king's consent to the marriage of Bertram, his ward. HENLEY.
Our author often uses brief in the sense of a short note, or intimation concerning any business; and sometimes without the idea of writing. So, in the last Act of this play: 6 she told me
davol boynlab 9 “ In a sweet verbal brief," &c. Again, in the Prologue to Sir John Oldcastle, 1600: 0
“ To stop which scruple, let this brief suffice :
" It is no pamper'd glutton we present,” &c. w 90 The meaning therefore of the present passage, I believe, is : Good fortune, and the king's favour, smile on this short contract; the ceremonial part of which shall immediately pass, shall follow close on the troth now plighted between the parties, and be performed this night; the solemn feast shall be delayed to a future time. MALONE.
9 The old copy has the following singular continuation : Parolles and Lafeu stay behind, commenting of this wedding. This could have been only the marginal note of a prompter, and was never designed to appear in print. STEEVENS. . Rabatt
To comment means, I believe, to assume the appearance of persons deeply engaged in thought. MALONE.
LAF. Your lord and master did well to make his recantation,
PAR. Recantation ?-My lord ? my master ?
PAR. A most harsh one; and not to be understood without bloody succeeding. My master ?
LAF. Are you companion to the count Rousillon? PAR. To any count; to all counts; to what is
man. LAF. To what is count's man; count's master is of another style.
PAR. You are too old, sir; let it satisfy you, you are too old. . .
LAF. I must tell thee, sirrah, I write man; to which title age cànnot bring thee.
PAR. What I dare too well do, I dare not do.
LAF. I did think thee, for two ordinaries, to be a pretty wise fellow; thou didst make tolerable vent of thy travel; it might pass: yet the scarfs, and the bannerets, about thee, did manifoldly dissuade me from believing thee a vessel of too great a burden, I have now found thee; when I lose thee again, I care not: yet art thou good for nothing but taking up ;? and that thou art scarce worth.
PAR. Hadst thou not the privilege of antiquity upon thee,
LAF. Do not plunge thyself too far in anger, lest thou hasten thy trial, which if-Lord have mercy
!— for two ordinaries,] While I sat twice with thee at table, JOHNSON.
- taking up;] To take up is to contradict, to call to acéount ; as well as to pick off the ground. JOHNSON.