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Upon a courser, whose delightful steps
Of a pair of bases."
2 Fish. We'll sure provide: thou shalt have my best gown to make thee a pair; and I'll bring thee to the court myself.
Per. Then honour be but a goal to my will;
This day I'll rise, or else add ill to ill.
a pair of bases.] Bases appear to have been a kind of loose breeches. Thus, in the first Book of Sidney's Arcadia: "About his middle he ha', instead of bases, a long cloake of silke," &c.—Again, in the third Book: "His bases (which he ware so long, as they came almost to his ankle,) were embroidered onely with blacke worms, which seemed to crawle up and downe, as readie alreadie to devour him."—It is clear from these passages, that bases (as if derived from Bas, Fr. a stocking, as I formerly supposed,) cannot mean any kind of defensive covering for the legs.
In this concluding observation the late Captain Grose agreed with me; though at the same time he confessed his inability to determine, with any degree of precision, what bases were.
Johnson tells us, in his Dictionary, that bases are part of any ornament that hangs down as housings, and quotes a passage from Sidney's Arcadia: "Phalantus was all in white, having his bases and caparisons embroidered :”—and to confirm this explanation it may be observed, that the [lower] valances of a bed are still called the bases.
In Massinger's Picture, Sophia, speaking of Hilario's disguise,
says to Corisca:
"Had a hand in it too, as it appears,
"Your petticoat serves for bases to this warrior."
M. Mason. Bases, signified the housings of a horse, and may have been used in that sense here. So, in Fairfax's translation of Tasso's Godfrey of Bulloigne:
"And with his streaming blood his bases dide.” Malone. It may be remarked, that Richardson in his notes on Paradise Lost, p. 392, has the following explanation :-" Bases, from Bas, (Fr.) they fall low to the ground; they are also called the housing, from Houssè, be-daggled." Steevens.
Enter SIMONIDES, THAISA, Lords, and Attendants. Sim. Are the knights ready to begin the triumph?" 1 Lord. They are, my liege;
And stay your coming to present themselves.
Sim. Return them, we are ready; and our daughter, In honour of whose birth these triumphs are, Sits here, like beauty's child, whom nature gat For men to see, and seeing wonder at.
[Exit a Lord. Thai. It pleaseth you, my father, to express9 My commendations great, whose merit 's less. Sim. 'Tis fit it should be so; for princes are A model, which heaven makes like to itself: As jewels lose their glory, if neglected, So princes their renown, if not respected. 'Tis now your honour, daughter, to explain The labour of each knight, in his device.1
7 Are the knights ready to begin the triumph?] In Gower's Poem, and Kynge Appolyn of Thyre, 1510, certain gymnastick exercises only are performed before the Pentapolitan monarch, antecedent to the marriage of Appollinus, the Pericles of this play. The present tournament, however, as well as the dance in the next scene, seems to have been suggested by a passage the former writer, who, describing the manner in which the wedding of Apollinus was celebrated, says:
"The knightes that be yonge and proude,
"Thei juste first, and after daunce." Malone. A triumph, in the language of Shakspeare's time, signified any publick show, such as a Mask, or Revel, &c. Thus, in King Richard II:
hold those justs and triumphs ?"
Again, in King Henry VI:
"With stately triumphs, mirthful comick shows."
8 Return them, we are ready;] i. e. return them notice, that we are ready, &c. Percy.
9 It pleaseth you, &c.] Old copy:
It pleaseth you, my royal father to express
As this verse was too long by a foot, I have omitted the epithet royal. Steevens.
1 'Tis now your honour, daughter, to explain
The labour of each knight, in his device.] The old copy reads
Thai. Which, to preserve mine honour, I'll perform.2 Enter a Knight: he passes over the Stage, and his Squire presents his Shield to the Princess.
Sim. Who is the first that doth prefer himself?
Is a black Ethiop, reaching at the sun;
Sim. He loves you well, that holds his life of you.
[The second Knight passes.
Who is the second, that presents himself?
Thai. A prince of Macedon, my royal father;
And the device he bears upon his shield
Is an arm'd knight, that 's conquer'd by a lady:
The motto thus, in Spanish, Piu per dulcura que per
-to entertain, which cannot be right. Mr. Steevens suggested the emendation. Malone.
The sense would be clearer were we to substitute, both in this and the following instance, office. Honour, however, may mean her situation as queen of the feast, as she is afterwards denominated.
The idea of this scene appears to have been caught from the Iliad, Book III, where Helen describes the Grecian leaders to her father-in-law Priam. Steevens.
2 Which, to preserve mine honour, I'll perform.] Perhaps we should read-to prefer, i. e. to advance. Percy.
3 The word, Lux tua vita mihi.] What we now call the motto, was sometimes termed the word or mot by our old writers. Le mot, French. So, in Marston's Satires, 1599:
Fabius' perpetual golden coat,
"Which might have semper idem for a mot.”
These Latin mottos may perhaps be urged as a proof of the learning of Shakspeare, or as an argument to show that he was not the author of this play; but tournaments were so fashionable and frequent an entertainment in the time of Queen Elizabeth, that he might easily have been furnished with these shreds of literature. Malone.
Piu per dulcura que per fuerca.] That is, more by sweetness than by force. The author should have written Mas per dulcura, &c. Più in Italian signifies more; but, I believe there is no such Spanish word. Malone. Q
The word, Me pompa provexit apex.5
Sim. What is the fourth ?6
[The fourth Knight passes.
Thai. A burning torch,' that 's turned upside down; The word, Quod me alit, me extinguit.
Sim. Which shows, that beauty hath his power and will, Which can as well inflame, as it can kill.
[The fifth Knight passés. Thai. The fifth, an hand environed with clouds ; Holding out gold, that 's by the touchstone tried: The motto thus, Sic spectanda fides.
[The sixth Knight passes. Sim. And what 's the sixth and last, which the knight
With such a graceful courtesy deliver❜d?
Thai. He seems a stranger; but his present is A wither'd branch, that 's only green at top;
Me pompe provexit apex.] All the old copies haveMe Pompey, &c. Whether we should amend these words as follows-me pompe provexit apex,-or correct them thus-me Pompei provexit apex, I confess my ignorance. A wreath of chivalry, in its common sense, might be the desert of many knights on many various occasions; so that its particular claim to honour on the present one is not very clearly ascertained.— If the wreath declares of itself that it was once the ornament of Pompey's helm, perhaps here may be some allusion to those particular marks of distinction which he wore after his bloodTess victory over the Cilician pirates:
"Et victis cedat piratica laurea Gallis." Steevens.
Steevens is clearly right in reading pompa, instead of Pompey, and the meaning of the Knight in the choice of his device and motto seems to have been, to declare that he was not incited by love to enter the lists, but by the desire of glory, and the ambition of obtaining the wreath of victory which Thaisa was to bestow upon the conqueror. M. Mason.
6 What is the fourth] i. e. What is the fourth device. Malone.
7 A burning torch, &c.] This device and motto may have been taken from Daniel's translation of Paulus Jovius, in 1585, inwhich they are found. Signat. H. 7. b. Malone.
The same idea occurs again in King Henry VI, P. I :
"Here dies the dusky torch of Mortimer,
8 He seems &c.] Old copy:
He seems to be a stranger; but his present
Is a wither'd branch,
For reasons frequently given. I have here deserted the ancient
The motto, In hac spe vivo.
Sim. A pretty moral;
From the dejected state wherein he is,
He hopes by you his fortunes yet may flourish.
1 Lord. He had need mean better than his outward show. Can any way speak in his just commend:
For, by his rusty outside, he appears
To have practis'd more the whipstock, than the lancę. 2 Lord. He well may be a stranger, for he comes To an honour'd triumph, strangely furnished.
3 Lord. And on set purpose let his armour rust Until this day, to scour it in the dust.1
Sim. Opinion 's but a fool, that makes us scan
[Exeunt. [Great Shouts, and all cry, The mean knight.3
9 the whipstock,] i. e. the carter's whip. See note on Twelfth Night, Vol. III. Steevens.
Until this day, to scour it in the dust.] The idea of this ill-appointed knight appears to have been adopted from Sidney's Arcadia, Book I: "His armour of as old a fashion, besides the rustie poornesse &c.-so that all that looked on, measured his length on the earth already," &c. Steevens.
2 The outward habit by the inward man.] i. e. that makes us scan the inward man by the outward habit.
This kind of inversion was formerly very common. So, in The Merchant of Venice:
that many may be meant
By the fool multitude."
See the note on that passage in Vol. IV, p. 358, n. 7. Malone. Why should we not read:
The inward habit by the outward man.
The words were accidentally misplaced. In the prose romance already quoted, the king says: not the relygious man." Steevens.
the habyte maketh
In my copy this line is quoted in an old hand as Mr. Steevens reads.
I don't think any amendment necessary; but the passage should be pointed thus:
Opinion's but a fool, that makes us scan
The outward habit by, the inward man.
That is, that makes us scan the inward man, by the outward habit. M. Mason.
3 Great shouts, and all cry, The mean knight.] Again, in the