« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
"with a Messenger"-The old stage-direction runs thus, explaining the relations of the parties to each other, there being originally no list of characters:-"Enter Leonato, governor of Messina, Imogen his wife, Hero his daughter, and Beatrice his niece, with a messenger.' It is clear, therefore, that the mother of Hero made her appearance before the audience, although she says nothing throughout the comedy.
"I know none of that name"-Beatrice asks after Benedick by a term of the fencing-school, "Montanto:" a term with which Capt. Bobadil has made most readers familiar-"Your punto, your reverso, your stoccato, your montanto," etc. The humour of this the messenger does not understand, and answers, "I know none of that name, lady."
"He set up his bills"-To "set up bills" was to give public notice of a challenge, by posting placards.
"-challenged Cupid at the FLIGHT"-" "Flights' were long and light-feathered arrows, that went directly to the mark; bird-bolts, short thick arrows, without a point, and spreading, at the extremity, into a blunt or nobbed head. The meaning of the whole is-Benedick, from a vain conceit of his influence over women, challenged Cupid at the 'flight'-i. e. to shoot at hearts. The fool, to ridicule this piece of vanity, in his turn challenged Benedick at the bird-bolt-an inferior kind of archery, used by fools, who, for obvious reasons, were not permitted to shoot with pointed arrows: whence the proverb- A fool's bolt is soon shot.'"DOUCE.
"-he'll be MEET with you"-i. e. He will be even with you, or he will be your match-a phrase common in old dramatists, and other writers; and still preserved, in colloquial use, in the midland counties of England.
"STUFFED with all honourable virtues"-"Stuffed," in this first instance, has no ridiculous meaning. Mede,
in his discourses on Scripture, quoted by Edwards, speaking of Adam, says-"He whom God had stuffed TER'S TALE, we havewith so many excellent qualities." And, in the WIN
-of stuff'd sufficiency.
Beatrice starts an idea at the words stuffed man, and prudently checks herself in the pursuit of it. A stuffed man appears to have been one of the many cant phrases for a cuckold.
"-four of his five wITS"-The five senses, long before the time of Shakespeare, were called the "five wits." In his time wits became the general name for the intellectual powers, and these, by analogy to the senses, "the inlets of ideas," were also supposed to be five in number. Shakespeare, in his One hundred and forty-first "Sonnet," distinguishes the "five wits" from the five senses:
But my fire wits, nor my five senses, can Dissuade one foolish heart from loving thee. "-the fashion of his HAT, it ever changes with the next BLOCK"-"In the perpetual change of fashions which was imputed to the English in Elizabeth's day, the hat underwent every possible transition of form. We had intended to have illustrated this by exhibiting the principal varieties which we find in pictures of that day; but if our blocks had been as numerous as these blocks, we should have filled pages with the graceful or grotesque caprices of the exquisites from whom Brummell inherited his belief in the powers of the hat. 'Why, Mr. Brummell, does an Englishman always look better dressed than a Frenchman? The oracular reply was, 'Tis the hat.' We present, however, the portrait of one ancient Brummell, with a few hats at his feet to choose from."-KNIGHT. (See cut, end of scene, p. 44.)
"the gentleman is not in your books"-" The meaning of this expression, which we retain to the present day, is generally understood. He who is 'in your books'-or, as we sometimes say, in your good books-is he whom you think well of-whom you trust.
It appears obvious that the phrase has a commercial origin; and that, as he who has obtained credit, buys upon trust, is in his creditor's books, so he who has obtained in any way the confidence of another, is said to be in his books. None of the commentators, however, bave suggested this explanation. Johnson says it means to be in one's codicils, or will;' Stevens, that it is to be in one's visiting-book, or in the books of a university, or in the books of the Herald's Office; Farmer, and Douce, that it is to be in the list of a great man's retainers, because the names of such were entered in a book. This is the most received explanation. Our view of the matter is more homely, and for that reason it appears to us more true."-KNIGHT.
"Is there no young SQUARER now"-i. e. Quarreller. To square is the first position for boxing-to dispute, to confront hostilely. So, in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM:
“— Vulcan a rare carpenter”—Do you scoff and mock in telling us that Cupid, who is blind, is a good hare-finder; and that Vulcan, a blacksmith, is a good carpenter? Do you mean to amuse us with improbable stories?
"—to Go in the song"-i. e. To join in the song you are singing.
"he will wear his cap with suspicion"-The cap alluded to is the nightcap; as Iago says, "I fear Cassio with my nightcap, too."
“Like the old tale, my lord: it is not so, nor 'twas not so; but, indeed, God forbid it should be so.'
Mr. Blakeway, in Boswell's edition of SHAKESPEARE, has given an illustration of this passage, in his own recollections of an "old tale," (to which our Poet evidently alludes,)" and which has often froze my young blood, when I was a child, as, I dare say, it had done his before me:"
"Once upon a time there was a young lady, (called Lady Mary in the story,) who had two brothers. One summer they all three went to a country-seat of theirs, which they had not before witnessed. Among the other gentry in the neighbourhood, who came to see them, was a Mr. Fox, a bachelor, with whom they, particularly the young lady, were much pleased. He used often to dine with them, and frequently invited Lady Mary to come and see his house. One day that her brothers were absent elsewhere, and she had nothing better to do, she determined to go thither, and accordingly set out unattended. When she arrived at the house and knocked at the door, no one answered. At length she opened it, and went in. Over the portal of the hall was written, 'Be bold, be bold, but not too bold.' She advanced-over the staircase, the same inscription. She went up over the entrance of a gallery, the same. She proceeded-over the door of a chamber, Be bold, be bold, but not too bold, lest that your heart'sblood should run cold.' She opened it-it was full of skeletons, tabs full of blood, etc. She retreated in haste. Coming down stairs, she saw, out of a window, Mr. Fox advancing towards the house, with a drawn sword in one hand, while with the other he dragged along a young lady by her hair. Lady Mary had just time to slip down and hide herself, under the stairs, before Mr. Fox and his victim arrived at the foot of them. As he pulled the young lady up stairs, she caught hold of one of the bannisters with her hand, on which was a rich bracelet. Mr. Fox cut it off with his sword: the
hand and bracelet fell into Lady Mary's lap, who then contrived to escape unobserved, and got home safe to her brothers' house.
"After a few days Mr. Fox came to dine with them, as usual; (whether by invitation, or of his own accord, this deponent saith not.) After dinner, when the guests began to amuse each other with extraordinary anecdotes, Lady Mary at length said she would relate to them a remarkable dream she had lately had. I dreamed,' said she, that as you, Mr. Fox, had often invited me to your house, I would go there one morning. When I came to the house, I knocked, etc., but no one answered. When I opened the door, over the hall was written, 'Be bold, be bold, but not too bold.' But,' said she, turning to Mr. Fox, and smiling, it is not so, nor it was not so.' Then she pursues the rest of the story, concluding at every turn with, 'It is not so, nor it was not so,' till she comes to the room full of dead bodies, when Mr. Fox took up the burden of the tale, and said, 'It is not so, nor it was not so, and God forbid it should be so;' which he continues to repeat at every subsequent turn of the dreadful story, till she came to the circumstance of his cutting off the young lady's hand; when, upon his saying, as usual, 'It is not so, nor it was not so, and God forbid it should be so,' Lady Mary retorts, 'But it is so, and it was so, and here the hand I have to show,' at the same time producing the hand and bracelet from her lap-whereupon, the guests drew their swords, and instantly cut Mr. Fox into a thousand pieces."
in the force of his will"-Warburton has rightly pointed out the allusion here to the definition of heresy in the scholastic divinity, as consisting not simply in error of opinion, but in a wilful adherence to it against the Church. This whole question had been so much canvassed, in that day of bitter religious animosity and persecution, that such a reference to the familiar topics of controversial theology neither of course implied any profound learning in the author, nor would appear obscure, or pedantic, to the mass of his audience, or readers.
"ARECHEAT winded in my forehead"—A "recheat" is the species of sound on the bugle by which hounds are called back. Benedick means, he will not wear the horns on his forehead, by which such an operation may be performed. "Shakespeare (says Johnson) had no mercy on the poor cuckold: his horn is an inexhaustible subject of merriment." The "bugle," etc., contains a similar allusion.
"-clapped on the shoulder, and called Adam”— This passage is supposed to refer to Adam Bell, one of three noted outlaws, (Clym of the Clough, and William of Cloudeslee, being the others,) who were formerly as famous, in the north of England, as Robin Hood and his fellows in the midland counties. (See the "Outlaws' Ballad," in Percy's "Reliques of English Poetry.")
"In time the savage bull doth bear the yoke'"-This line is from the old tragedy of "Hieronymo," which was long a favourite subject of ridicule.
—if Cupid have not spent all his quiver in Venice" -Few of the readers of Byron and Rogers need to be informed that Venice was, in its day of splendour, the capital of pleasure and intrigue; and the allusion would be as readily applied as a similar one to Paris would be in our own day.
"GUARDED with fragments"-Clothes were said to be "guarded," when they were ornamented with lace.
"flout OLD ENDS any further"-i. e. "Old ends," or conclusions, of letters. It was very common formerly to finish a letter with the words used by Benedick, Claudio, and Don Pedro:-" And so I commit you to the tuition of God: From my house, the sixth of July, your loving friend," etc. There are many such in the "Paston Letters," lately reprinted.
"What the good year"-The commentators say that the original form of this exclamation was the gougerei. e. morbus gallicus-which became obscure, and was corrupted into the "good year:" a very opposite form of expression, and used without any such reference.
"I cannot hide what I am"-"This is one of Shakespeare's natural touches. An envious and unsocial mind, too proud to give pleasure, and too sullen to receive it, always endeavours to hide its malignity from the world and from itself, under the plainness of simple honesty, or the dignity of haughty independence.' JOHNSON.
"I had rather be a CANKER in a hedge"-The allusion is to the canker-rose-i. e. the dog-rose. The speaker means, he would rather live in obscurity than owe dignity, or estimation, to his hated brother, who, Conrade reminds him, had "taken him into his grace."
"That young start-up hath all the glory of my overthrow"-It has already been intimated, (see "Introductory Remarks,") that, in the character of the chief villain of the drama, the Poet has wholly departed from the plot of Bandello's tale, which furnished him with the outline of the story. The novelist had ascribed the base deception, on which his story turns, to the revenge of a rejected lover, who, at the catastrophe, makes some amends for his guilt, by remorse and frank confession. Shakespeare has chosen to pourtray a less common and obvious, but unhappily too true character,one of sullen malignity, to whom the happiness or success of others is sufficient reason for the bitterness of hatred, and cause enough to prompt to injury and crime. This character has much the appearance of being the original conception and rough sketch of that wayward, dark disposition, which the Poet afterwards painted more elaborately, with some variation of circumstances and temperament, in his "honest Iago."
ACT II.-SCENE I.
"-in earnest of the BEAR-WARD"-Spelled berrord in the old copies-a colloquial corruption of bear-ward, and not bear-herd, as many editors have it. Yet, in the "Induction" to the TAMING OF THE SHREW, we find bear-heard: that, however, was a corruption of "bearward."
"-if the prince be too IMPORTANT"-i. e. Importunate; as in the COMEDY OF ERRORS.
"DANCE out the answer"-The technical meaning of measure, a particular sort of grave measured dance, like the minuet of the last age, is here opposed to its ordinary sense. (See ROMEO AND JULIET, act i.)
"BALTHAZAR; JOHN"-The quarto and folio here both read-"Balthazar, or dumb John." Reed argues that Shakespeare might have called John "dumb John," on account of his taciturnity; while others take it, more probably, as a misprint for Don John.
"-God defend, the lute should be like the case"i. e. God forbid that your face should be like your mask.
"-within the house is Jove"-The line, which is in the rhythm of Chapman's "Homer," and Golding's "Ovid," is an allusion to the story of Baucis and Philemon; and perhaps Shakespeare was thinking of Golding's version of the original. The subsequent speeches of Hero and Don Pedro complete a couplet. The "thatch'd" refers to Ovid's line, as translated by Golding:
The roof thereof was thatched all with straw and fennish reede.
"-the Hundred Merry Tales'"-An old jestbook, of which only a fragment remains. Being unknown to the older editors, this was supposed to allude to the "Decameron" until part of the book was found, and it was reprinted in 1835. It was originally printed by Rastell, between 1517 and 1533. No doubt it was a chap-book well known to the audiences of the Globe.
"-like an usurer's chain"-Chains of gold were at this time worn by persons of wealth, as usurers generally were.
"it is the base, THOUGH bitter disposition"-So the quarto and folio. There seems to be no reason whatever for changing "though" into the, as it stands in Malone's SHAKESPEARE, and Singer's useful edition. In the old copies, "though bitter" is in parentheses. Though severe, she is grovelling in mind.
with such impossible CONVEYANCE"-i. e. With a rapidity equal to that of jugglers, whose " conveyances," or tricks, appear impossibilities. "Impossible" may, however, be used in the sense of incredible, or inconceivable, both here and in the beginning of the scene, where Beatrice speaks of "impossible slanders."
“— CIVIL as an orange"-A very common play on words, in Old-English literature, upon the Seville orange-the fruit of that kind best known in London.
"—thus goes every one to the world but I”—To“ go to the world" is again used by Shakespeare in ALL's WELL THAT ENDS WELL, act i. scene 3, to signify being married. When Beatrice adds, "I am sun-burned," she means that her beauty is damaged, as the phrase is used in TROILUS AND CRESSIDA-"The Grecian dames were sun-burned." See, also, As You LIKE IT, act v. scene 3, where Audrey desires to be "a woman of the world."
"hear Margaret term me CLAUDIO"-Theobald altered the name, in this passage, to Borachio, which, as it is supported by plausible reasons, has been followed in most editions, until the later English editors, who restore "Claudio," the original reading. It appears evident that, at the time of speaking, Borachio intended there should be a change of his appellation, as well as in that of Margaret; for where would be the wonder that Claudio should hear him called by his own name? He prevails upon Margaret (whom he expressly states to have no ill intention towards her mistress) to take part in the plot, under the impression that she and Borachio were merely amusing themselves with a masquerade representation of the courtship of her lady and Claudio. It has also been suggested, that Claudio might well be made to believe that the perfidious Hero received a clandestiné lover, whom she called Claudio, in order to decieve her attendants, should any be within sight or hearing; and this, of course, in Claudio's estimation, would be a great aggravation of her offence. The reader will find, in the "Variorum" SHAKESPEARE, a large array of argument on both sides of the question.
"— in the ORCHARD"-" Orchard," in Shakespeare's time, signified a garden. So, in ROMEO AND JULIET:The orchard walls are high and hard to climb. This word was first written hort-yard, then, by corruption, hort-chard-and hence orchard.
"-her hair shall be of what colour it please God" -Some of the editors explain this very literally, as meaning, "If I can find all these excellences united, I shall not trouble myself about the colour of the lady's hair"-certainly a reasonable conclusion. But it appears, from many passages, that our author had an especial and somewhat whimsical dislike to all disguises of the head by art. Like his own Biron, (LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST,) he mourned that—
-painting and usurping hair
Should ravish doters with a false aspect. The fashions of colouring the hair, wearing artificial curls, etc., were as familiar in Elizabeth's reign as in that of Victoria; and were assailed by the wits, as well as more solemnly denounced from the pulpit. He, therefore, makes Benedick the mouth-piece of his own taste in this matter, by summing up his catalogue of all imaginary female perfections,-as wit, virtue, wisdom, riches, mildness, talents for music or discourse,-with insisting, with ludicrous exaggeration, that her hair shall be of the colour that nature made it.
"We'll fit the KID-FOX"-"Kid-fox' has been supposed to mean discovered, or detected fox. Kid certainly meant known, or discovered, in Chaucer's time. It may have been a technical term in the game of hidefox: old terms are sometimes longer preserved in jocu
lar sports than in common usage. Some editors have printed it hid-fox; and others explained it young, or cub-fox."-NARES.
The last sense is adopted by Richardson, in his "Dictionary," and is approved by Dyce. It sorts well with the speaker, and with Benedick's character.
"Note notes, forsooth, and NOTHING"-" This is the reading of the old copies, and ought to be preserved in preference to noting, which Theobald substituted, and which has stood in the text ever since. Don Pedro means to play upon the similarity of sound between noting and nothing,' and to indicate his opinion of
the worth of Balthazar's crotchets.'"-COLLIER.
"STALK on; the fowl sits"-An allusion to the stalking-horse, by which the fowler anciently sheltered himself from the sight of the game.
"hide HIMSELF in such reverence"-" Himself" has been printed itself, in many editions; but Shakespeare meant to personify knavery; and so it is printed in the older copies.
"she tore the letter into a thousand HALFPENCE"
i. e. Into a thousand pieces. The word farthing was also used to signify any small particle, or division. Chaucer says of his Prioress
In hirre cuppe was no ferthing sene
Of grese, when she dronken had hirre draught. "DAFF'D all other respects"-To "daff" is to doff; to do off, or put aside.
hath a CONTEMPTIBLE spirit"-i. e. ContempThe difference of these two words was not yet accurately settled, even in the next generation. Drayton confounds them; and 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."
"-the conference was SADLY borne"-i. e. Seriously conducted. Sad and " 'sadly" were often used for serious and seriously, grave and gravely.
ACT III.-SCENE I.
"To listen our PROPOSE"-A few lines above we had-"Proposing with the Prince and Claudio." "Propose" is conversation, from the French propos; and so the quarto reads here; for which the folio has purpose. Beatrice was to come to overhear what Hero and Ursula were saying, not what they intended to do. Reed, however, has showed that purpose, when accented like propose, on the last syllable, had the same sense-it being taken in the modern sense when pronounced as it is now always.
"HAGGARDS of the rock"-Wild or untamed hawks, from the mountains. (See cut, p. 42.)
"If black, why, nature, drawing of an ANTICK," etc.
The "antick" was the fool, or buffoon, of the old farces. By "black" is meant only (as in the Two GENTLEMEN OF VERONA) a man of a dark or swarthy complexion, in which sense it was used as late as the "Spectator;" but Douce says that here it means one with merely a black beard,
"— an AGATE very vilely cut"-Warburton, followed by several editors, substituted aght, a tag of gold or silver, anciently used. But the allusion is to the agate stone worn in rings, and cut into figures-a general fashion of the day; as Queen Mab is said, in ROMEO AND JULIET, to be "no bigger than an agate stone on the fore-finger of an alderman." Falstaff says of his page, "I was never manned with an agate till now."
"press me to death with wit"-By the old common-law, the punishment called peine fort et dure was inflicted on persons who refused to plead to their indictment. They were pressed to death by weights placed upon the stomach.
"What fire is in mine ears”—The popular opinion here alluded to is as old as Pliny :-" Moreover, is not this an opinion generally received, that when our ears do glow and tingle, some there be that in our absence do talk of us?"-(Holland's "Translation," book xxviii.) SCENE II.
"to show a child his new coat, and forbid him to wear it"-Shakespeare seldom repeats himself; but, in ROMEO AND JULIET, there is a passage similar to the above:
As is the night before some festival,
To an impatient child that hath new robes
"-all sLors"-i. e. Large breeches, or trousers. Hence, a slop-seller, for one who furnishes seamen, etc., with clothes.
66- his jesting spirit, which is now crept into a lutestring"-i. e. His jocular wit is now employed in the inditing of love-songs, which, in Shakespeare's time, were usually accompanied on the lute. The "stops" are the frets of the lute, and those points on the fingerboard on which the string is pressed, or stopped, by the finger.
"Good DEN, brother"-" Good den" is a colloquial abridgment of good even, but it was also used for good day: and, in act v. scene 1, Don Pedro says, good den, and Claudio, good day.
-have a care that your BILLS be not stolen"-The bill" was a formidable weapon in the hands of the old English infantry. "It gave (says Temple) the most ghastly and deplorable wounds." Dr. Johnson states that, when he wrote, the "bill" was still carried by the watchmen of Litchfield, his native town. It was a long weapon, with a point shaped somewhat like an axe.
"If you hear a child cry in the night"-This part of the sapient Dogberry's charge may have been suggested by some of the amusing provisions contained in the "Statutes of the Streets," imprinted by Wolfe, in 1595. For instance-"22. No man shall blow any horne in the night, within the citie, or whistle after the houre of nyne of the clock in the night, under paine of imprisonment.-30. No man shall, after the houre of nyne at night, keep any rule, whereby any such suddaine outcry be made in the still of the night; as making any affray, or beating his wife or servant, or singing or revyling [revelling] in his house, to the disturbance of his neighbours, under paine of iiis. iiiid.," etc., etc.
"Keep your fellows' counsels and your own”. "This is part of the oath of a grand juryman; and is one of many proofs of Shakespeare's having been very conversant, at some period of his life, with legal proceedings and courts of justice."-MALONE.
"I know that Deformed"-In the induction to his "Bartholomew Fair," we find Ben Jonson aiming a satirical stroke at this scene:-" And then a substantial watch to have stole in upon 'em, and taken them away, with mistaking words, as the fashion is in the stage practice." Jonson himself, however, in his "Tale of a Tub," makes his wise men of Finsbury blunder in the same manner. Boswell, in his edition of Malone's SHAKESPEARE, points out examples of this sort of humour before Shakespeare's time. Nash, in his "Anatomy of Absurditie," (1589,) speaks of "a misterming clowne in a comedie ;" and in "Selimus, Emperor of the Turks," (1594,) this speech is put into the mouth of Bullithrumble, a shepherd:-"Well, if you will keepe my sheepe truly and honestly, keeping your hands from lying and slandering, and your tongue from picking and stealing, you shall be Maister Bullithrumble's servitures."
"REECHY painting"-i. e. Painting (says Stevens) discoloured by smoke.
"-a' wears a lock"-It was one of the fantastic fashions of Shakespeare's day, for men to cultivate a favourite lock of hair, which was brought before, tied with ribands, and called a love-lock. It was against this practice that Prynne wrote his treatise on the "Unlovelyness of Love-locks." It appears from Manzoni's Italian novel, "I Promessi Sposi," that, in the sixteenth century, wearing a lock was made penal, in Lombardy, as the sign of a lawless life. Italian fashions were so much talked of in England, that the Poet might have known this, and alluded to it.
"your other RABATO"-An ornament for the neck, a kind of ruff, such as we often see in the portraits of Queen Elizabeth. Decker calls them "your stiff-necked rebatoes." Menage derives it from rebattre—to put back.
"-set with pearls, down sleeves"-i. e. The pearls are to be set down the sleeves.
side sleeves”—Long sleeves, or full sleevesfrom the Anglo-Saxon sid; ample, long. The “deep and broad sleeves" of the time of Henry IV. are thus ridiculed by Hoccleve:
Now hath this land little neede of broomes
To sweepe away the filth out of the streete,
Will it up licke, be it drie or weete.
"—"Light o'love'"-This is the name of an old dance tune, mentioned in the Two GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, act i. scene 2. (See Chappell's "Ancient English Airs," where the words of a song to the tune of "Light o' Love" are given.)
the letter that begins them all, H"-This conceit, as well as similar jokes in contemporary writers, shows that the word, which we now pronounce ake, was, in Shakespeare's time, pronounced aitch. Beatrice says, she is ill for an H, (aitch,) the letter that begins each of the three words-hawk, horse, and husband. J. P. Kemble had a long contention with the public on this point. When playing Prospero, he always persisted in saying, "Fill all thy bones with aitches;" and the public (particularly those of the upper regions, who are always most intolerant of singularity) as pertinaciously hissed him for presuming to be right, out of