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ACT I.-SCENE I.
"-it had a DYING FALL"-By 'fall' is meant cadence, (from cado,) a musical term, signifying the close of a passage or phrase, and which commonly includes the transition from a dissonant to a consonant sound; or, in the language of Lord Bacon, (Sylva Sylvarum,) the falling from a discord to a concord, which maketh great sweetnesse in musicke.' Milton, in 'Comus,' uses the word in the same sense as Shakespeare; and Pope, in his Ode to St. Cecilia's Day,' has 'dying fall.' 'Dying' probably means a diminution of sound, technically expressed diminuendo."-KNIGHT.
"-like the sweet SOUTH"-I have, not without hesitation, retained in the text Pope's beautiful and ingenious conjectural reading. The original has, "the sweet sound that breathes," etc.; which cannot well be denied to be possibly the word used by one so bold in the application of poetical language as Shakespeare. Rowe, startled at the boldness of it, suggested wind for sound; but Pope, presuming a very natural typographical error, (sound for south,) offered a new and beautiful thought, which has been approved by the commentators, except Douce and Knight. The latter retains the old reading, and thus maintains it:
"-like the sweet SOUND-To those who are familiar with the well-known text
O! it came o'er my ear like the sweet souththe restoration of the word sound will appear strange
and startling. But let us consider whether Shakespeare was most likely to have written sound or south, which involves the question of which is the better word. Stevens tells us that the thought might have been borrowed from Sidney's Arcadia,' (book i.,) and he quotes a part of the passage. We must look, however, at the context. Sidney writes, Her breath is more sweet than a gentle south-west wind, which comes creeping over flowery fields and shadowed waters in the extreme heat of summer.' The comparison is here direct. The sweet breath of Urania is more sweet than the gentle south-west wind. Sidney adds, and yet is nothing, compared to the honey-flowing speech that breath doth carry. The music of the speech is not here compared with the music of the wind-the notion of fragrance is alone conveyed. If in the passage of the text we read south instead of sound, the conclusion of the sentence, Stealing, and giving odour,' rests upon the mind; and the comparison becomes an indirect one between the harmony of the dying fall and the odour of the breeze that had passed over a bank of violets. This, we think, is not what the Poet meant. He desired to compare one sound with another sound. Milton had probably this passage in view when he wrote
Shakespeare, the sound that breathes'-the soft murmur of the breeze playing amid beds of flowers-is put first, because of the dying fall' of the exquisite harmony; but in Milton the perfumes' of the gentle gales' are more prominent than the whisper'-because the image is complete in itself, unconnected with what precedes. Further, Shakespeare has nowhere else made the south an odour-breathing wind; his other representations are directly contrary. In As You LIKE IT, Rosalind says
"my desires, like fell and cruel honnds"-" This image evidently alludes to the story of Acteon, by which Shakespeare seems to think men cautioned against too great familiarity with forbidden beauty. Acteon, who saw Diana naked, and was torn in pieces by his hounds, represents a man, who, indulging his eyes, or his imagination, with the view of a woman he cannot gain, has his heart torn with incessant longing. An interpretation far more elegant and natural than that of Sir Francis Bacon, who, in his Wisdom of the Ancients,' supposes this story to warn us against inquiring into the secrets of princes, by showing that those who know that which for reasons of state should be concealed, will be detected and destroyed by their own servants."-JOHNSON.
"(Her sweet perfections,)"-" Stevens thus explains this passage:-Liver, brain, and heart are admitted, in poetry, as the residence of passions, judgment, and sentiments. These are what Shakespeare calls her sweet perfections.' This is doubtless a mistaken interpretation. The phrase ought probably to be, Her sweet perfection. The filling of the sovereign throne' with one self king' is the perfection of Olivia's merits—according to the ancient doctrine that a woman was not complete till her union with a self king.' In Lord Berners's translation of Froissart,' there is a sentence which glances at the same opinion. The rich Berthoult of Malines is desirous to marry his daughter to the noble Earl of Guerles; and he thus communes with himself:Howbeit, I will answer these messengers that their coming pleaseth me greatly, and that my daughter should be happy if she might come to so great a perfection as to be conjoined in marriage with the Earl of Guerles.' KNIGHT.
"—with one SELF KING"-Many editors adopt a reading of the second folio, self-same, as improving the metre. But all dramatic metre is modified by emphasis. Here the sense leads to a strong emphasis on one, and the line thus read does not halt in its metre. "Self" seems used for self-same, as in LEAR-I am made of that self metal as my sister," etc.; and elsewhere.
- like a PARISH-TOP"-The "parish-top" was a large top, formerly kept in each village, for the peasants to whip, by way of exercise and amusement.
"- · Castiliano VULGO"-Warburton supposed that 'vulgo" should be printed volto, and that Maria was to put on a Castilian, or grave countenance, on the approach of Sir Andrew. Hall, in his "Satires," describes his man of forms as making "a Spanish face." This is doubtless the allusion; but Sir Toby blunders in his Spanish, as he has just done in his "viol-de-gamboys."
"The old copy reads, Castiliano vulgo. Warburton proposed reading, Castiliano volto. In English, Put on your Castilian countenance'-i. e. grave serious looks. I have no doubt that Warburton was right, for that reading is required by the context, and Castiliano vulgo has no meaning. But I have met with a passage in Hall's Satires' which, I think, places it beyond a doubt:
- he can kiss his hand in gree,
And shake his head, and cringe his neck and side, etc. The Spaniards were in high estimation for courtesy, though the natural gravity of the national countenance was thought to be a cloak for villany. The Castiliano volto was in direct opposition to the viso sciolto, which the noble Roman told Sir Henry Wootton would go safe over the world. Castiliano vulgo, besides its want of connection or meaning in this place, could hardly have been a proverbial phrase, when we remember that Castile is the noblest part of Spain."-SINGER.
This is probably enough the meaning intended; but this edition has not deviated from the old reading, because it looks as if the author meant that Sir Toby should make an accidental or intentional blunder-just as he does as to the viol-de-gamboys, using of choice the vulgar corruption.
"ACCOST, Sir Andrew”—Sir Andrew did not understand the word "accost;" and since the time of Dryden, who employs it, the use of it in this sense is rare. Sir Toby afterwards explains it, "front her, board her," "Accost" is from the French accoster, and means, strictly, to come side by side, and more generally to approach.
"bring your HAND to the BUTTERY-BAR"-The "buttery" was the place from which meat and drink were formerly delivered. To have a dry hand was formerly considered a symptom of debility, as Stevens shows, by various quotations.
"-mistress MALL's picture"-The name of this woman was Mary Frith. She was in the habit of wear
ing men's clothes, and obtained extraordinary celebrity in connection with many low characters of the time. Her picture might be curtained, either because it was considered indecent, or simply, as sir Toby says, to preserve it from the dust. Her death occurred in 1659, and in 1662 her “Life and Death" was published. John Day, the dramatist, wrote a tract upon her "mad pranks," which was entered at Stationers' Hall in August, 1610; but it is not known to have been printed. Possibly, her "Life and Death" (1662) was only Day's tract with additions. All the known particulars regarding her have been collected by the Rev. Mr. Dyce, in his introduction to Decker's and Middleton's comedy, the Roaring Girl," (1611,) which has a wood-cut of the heroine upon the title-page.
"— a GALLIARD"-A lively dance. "A lighter and more stirring kind of dancing than the pavan," says Morley, a contemporary of Shakespeare; who adds"The Italians make their galliards plain, and frame ditties to them, which, in their mascaradoes, they sing and dance, and manie times without any instruments."
"— a CORANTO" (courante)—A quick dance, as the word indicates, and for two persons, according to Mersenne, ("Harmonie Universelle," 1686.) Morley describes it as "traversing and running, as our countrydance, but hath twice as much in a strain."
"a SINK-A-PACE"-i. e. Cinque pace" the name of a dance, (says Sir John Hawkins,) the measures whereof are regulated by the number five." In an old Italian work, Il Ballerino," (1581,) this dance is described as consisting of four steps and a cadence; and, according to Sir John Davis, in his poem on "Dancing”— Five was the number of the music's feet,
Which still the dance did with five paces meet.
"— a DAMASK-COLOURED STOCK"-" Dam'd coloured stock," or stocking, is the reading of the original editions. Pope altered it to "flame-coloured," which is the common reading. We have preferred Knight's reading, both because it is nearer to the old copy, and therefore more likely to have been misprinted, and because "damask-coloured" is a phrase used by Drayton, in the same age; and in this play we have damask cheek.
"TAURUS? that's sides and heart"-" Alluding to the medical astrology still preserved in almanacks, which refers the affections of particular parts of the body to the predominance of particular constellations."-JOHN
"—a BARFUL strife"-i. e. A struggle on my part full of bars, or impediments.
"Enter Maria, and CLOWN"-The Clown in this play, as well as in ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, is the domestic fool, or jester. In AS YOU LIKE IT, he is the court-fool. All three wore "motley."
"-fear no COLOURS"-Maria explains the saying in one way-it was born in the wars; referring to the colours of an enemy. It probably meant-I fear no deceptions. Holofernes says, "I do fear colourable colours." (LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST, act iv. scene 2.)
Warburton would read pleasing, and Hanmer substitutes learning; but Johnson's interpretation seems to be the true one. The Clown means to say, that unless Olivia lied she could not "speak well of fools;" consequently, he prays Mercury to endue her with "leasing," or lying,
"—like a SHERIFF'S POST"-The posts at the doors of sheriffs, on which originally proclamations and pla cards were exhibited, are very often mentioned in writers of the time.
"as a SQUASH is before 'tis a PEASCOD"—The vegetable, familiarly known to us under the name of "squash," was not known in England in James the First's reign; and the term meant only an unripe pod of peas. It is thus used again in the WINTER'S TALE.
"a CODLING when 'tis almost an APPLE"-A" cod. ling" (according to Mr. Gifford) means an involucrum, or kell, and was used by our old writers for that early state of vegetation, when the fruit, after shaking off the blossom, began to assume a globular and determinate shape. Mr. Nares says, a "codling" was a young raw apple, fit for nothing without dressing: and that it is so named because it was chiefly eaten when coddled, œ scalded-codlings being particularly so used when unripe. Florio interprets-" Mele cotte; quodlings, boiled apples."
- very COMPTIBLE" '—"Comptible" is accountable; and here seems to mean subject to, or sensitive of, "the least sinister usage."
"I am to HULL here"-Viola follows up Maria's sea-phrase, and tells her that she is to lie there a little longer. To" hull" is to remain "driven to and fro by the waves," as it is expressed in a passage in Philemon Holland's "Translation of Pliny," (1601.)
"beauty truly BLENT"-i. e. Blended. So, in the MERCHANT OF VENICE, we have
Where every something, being blent together,
"—leave the world no copy"-Shakespeare has expressed the same thought in his Ninth, Eleventh, and Thirteenth" Sonnets."
"loyal CANTONS"-" Cantons" was the old English word for canto. Heywood, in his "Great Britain's Troy," (1609,) calls the seventeen divisions of his poem "cantons."
"I am no FEE'D POST"-I am no paid messenger.
PEEVISH messenger"-Another instance, out of many, to prove that in the time of Shakespeare, and earlier, "peevish" did not mean petulant, or testy, but silly, or foolish. In this place Olivia may wish Malvolio not to perceive that she takes any interest about so insignificant a person as "the county's man."
"ourselves we do not owE"-i. e. Own, as in many other places. The meaning, as Malone remarks, is— "we are not our own masters."
ACT II.-SCENE I.
ESTIMABLE wonder"-" Shakespeare often confounds the active and passive adjectives. Estimable wonder' is esteeming wonder, or wonder and esteem. The meaning is, that he could not venture to think so highly as others of his sister."-JOHNSON.
Thus Milton uses "unexpressive" notes, for unexpressible, in his "Hymn on the Nativity."
“If you will not murder me for my love, let me be your servant"—" These words are uttered by Antonio to Sebastian, whom he has saved from drowning. The commentators offer no explanation of them; but we think that they have a latent meaning, and that they allude to a superstition of which Sir Walter Scott has made such admirable use in the 'Pirate.' Our readers will remem ber that, when Mordaunt has rescued Cleveland from 'the breach of the sea,' and is endeavouring
the animation of the perishing man, he is thus reproved by Bryce, the pedlar:- Are you mad? you, that have lived so long in Zetland, to risk the saving of a drowning man? Wot ye not, if you bring him to life again, he will be sure to do you some capital injury?' Sir Walter Scott has a note upon this passage:
"It is remarkable that, in an archipelago where so many persons must be necessarily endangered by the waves, so strange and inhuman a maxim should have engrafted itself upon the minds of a people otherwise kind, moral, and hospitable. But all with whom I have spoken agree that it was almost general in the beginning of the eighteenth century, and was with difficulty weeded out by the sedulous instructions of the clergy, and the rigorous injunctions of the proprietors. There is little doubt it had been originally introduced as an excuse for suffering those who attempted to escape from the wreck to perish unassisted, so that, there being no survivor, she might be considered as lawful plunder.'
**It appears to us, however, if we mistake not the meaning of our text, if you will not murder me for my love, let me be your servant,' that the superstition was not confined to the Orkneys, in the time of Shakespeare. Why should Sebastian murder Antonio for his love, if this superstition were not alluded to? Indeed, the answer of Sebastian distinctly refers to the office of humanity which Antonio had rendered him, and appears to glance at the superstition as if he perfectly understood what Antonio meant-'If you will not undo what you have done, that is, kill him whom you have recovered, desire it not.' The vulgar opinion is here reversed.”— KNIGHT.
"RECEIVE it so"-i. e. Understand, or take it so, without reference to the ring. Viola follows it up by expressing surprise at what Malvolio had said about the ring, which she had never seen till then.
"the PROPER FALSE"-" Proper" is here handsome, as in OTHELLO
This Ludovico is a proper man. This adjective is compounded with "false" in the same way that we subsequently have beauteous-evil.
"such as we are made OF, such we be"-The folios read, "For such as we are made, if such we be." I cannot perceive that this gives any satisfactory sense, and have adopted Tyrwhitt's correction-of for if—thus gaining a natural sense, expressed in a phrase of the Poet's manner, as in the TEMPEST-"such stuff as dreams are made of." Knight and Collier, however, retain and defend the old reading, which is said to allow the following sense:-"How easy is it (says Viola) for handsome false men to set their forms in the waxen hearts of women; for which, alas! our frailty is the cause, not ourselves, inasmuch as we are made such as we are, if indeed we be such."
"IMPETICOS thy GRATILLITY"-"This is evidently a touch of the fantastic language which the Clown con tinually uses. Johnson would read-'I did impetticoat thy gratuity." No doubt we understand it so. then comes a grave discussion among the commentators, whether the Clown put the sixpence in his own petticoat or gave it to his leman. Dr. Johnson says, with great candour and wisdom-"There is much in this dialogue which I do not understand." And we are content to plead his sanction in not entering upon this recondite question of the petticoat; in leaving unexplained the still more abstruse histories of Pigrogromitus' and the Vapians;' and in giving up the riddle why 'the Myrmidons are no bottle-ale houses.'"-KNIGHT.
"a song of GOOD LIFE"-i. e. A "civil and virtuous song," as it is called in the "Mad Pranks, etc., of Robin Good-fellow," in opposition to a "love-song."
"They sing a catch"-This "catch" is contained in Ravenscroft's "Deuteromelia," (1609,) where the air is given to the following words:
Hold thy peace, and I pr'ythee hold thy peace, Thou knave, thou knave! hold thy peace, thou knave. "It appears to be so contrived," says Sir John Hawkins, "that each of the singers calls the other knave in turn." "a CATAIAN"-It is not easy to explain this term of reproach, nor is it of much consequence. Stevens supposes it to mean a cheat, or a thief. "Cataian" is found in Davenant's "Love and Honour," in the sense of sharper. Cathay was the old name of China.
"a PEG-A-RAMSEY"-Sir Toby grows more musical as he grows more mellow. His allusions are all to songs and tunes, some not of the most decorous character, on which much learning will be found in the commentators.
"COZIERS' catches"-i. e. Botchers' "catches." A "cozier" meant either a tailor or a cobbler. Minshew says that it is a cobbler; but it is, in fact, any person engaged in sewing-from the Fr. coudre.
Snick up"-A term of contempt, of which the precise meaning is lost. Stevens would derive it from sneak-up," applied to the Prince (HENRY IV., part i.) by Falstaff, and such may have been its origin; but it became afterwards equivalent to the phrase "Go and hang yourself," or "Go and be hanged."
"Farewell, dear heart, since I must needs be gone"In Percy's "Reliques," the ballad from which this line is taken is inserted at length, from the "Golden Garland of Princely Delight." What is subsequently sung by Sir Toby and the Clown is a variation, for their purpose, of parts of the first two stanzas of the ballad.
"Out o' TUNE"-So all the old copies; but modern editors read, "Out of time ?”—as if it were a question put to Malvolio, in reference to what he had said soon after his entrance. All that Sir Toby means is, that the Clown had sung out of tune. "Sir, ye lie!" is addressed to Malvolio with the purpose of affronting him.
"Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale ?"-It was the custom, on saints' days and other holidays, to eat ginger-cakes and quaff ale, in their honour; and Malvolio, sometimes affecting to be, as Maria says, "a kind of Puritan," may
be supposed to have censured this practice as superstitious, which the Puritans did.
"-rub your chain with crumbs"-"Stewards formerly wore gold chains, as a mark of distinction, and these chains were cleaned with crumbs. Nash, in his Have With You to Saffron Walden,' (1596,) charges Gabriel Harvey with having stolen a nobleman's steward's chain;' and in Webster's Dutchess of Malfy,' (1623,) occurs this passage-Yea, and the chippings of the buttery fly after him, to scouer his gold chain."-STE
is a slang term of contempt, often used by the old dra matic writers. So, in the old comedy of "Gammer Gurton's Needle," (act iii. scene 3,) "Thou slut! thou cut!"
feature, or countenance. upon some FAVOUR"-" Favour" is often used for In her reply, Viola plays upon the double meaning of the word "a little, by your favour."
"Too old, by heaven Let still the woman take"— We learn from Mr. Collier that it was an opinion, confidently stated by Coleridge, in his lectures, in 1818. (of which only fragments are preserved in his printed works,) that this passage had a direct application to the circumstances of his own marriage with Anne Hathaway, who was so much senior to the Poet. Some of Shakespeare's biographers had previously enforced this notion, and others have since followed it up; but Cole ridge took the opportunity of enlarging eloquently on the manner in which young poets have frequently con nected themselves with women of very ordinary personal and mental attractions, the imagination supplying all deficiencies, clothing the object of affection with grace and beauty, and furnishing her with every accom plishment.
FREE maids"-i. e. "Chaste maids, employed in making lace. This passage has puzzled the commentators. Johnson says, 'free is perhaps vacant, unengaged, easy in mind.' Stevens once thought it meant unmarried; then that it might mean cheerful; and at last concludes that its precise meaning cannot easily be pointed out.' Warton mentions, in his notes on 'L'Allegro' of Milton, that it was a common attribute of woman, coupled mostly with fair; but he did not venture upon an explanation. The following extracts will show