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Dum. How follows that?
Biron.

Fit in his place and time.

Dum. In reason nothing.
Biron.

Something then in rhyme.
Long. Biron is like an envious sneaping frost,2
That bites the first-born infants of the spring.
Biron. Well, say I am; why should proud summer
boast,

Before the birds have any cause to sing?

Why should I joy in an abortive birth?
At Christmas I no more desire a rose,
Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled shows;
But like of each thing, that in season grows.3

}

2 sneaping frost,] So, sneaping winds in The Winter's Tale: To sneap is to check, to rebuke. Thus also, Falstaff, in King Henry IV, P. II: "I will not undergo this sneap, without reply."

Steevens.

3 Why should I joy in an abortive birth?

At Christmas I no more desire a rose,

Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled shows;

But like of each thing, that in season grows.] As the greatest part of this scene (both what precedes and follows) is strictly in rhymes, either successive, alternate, or triple, I am persuaded, that the copyists have made a slip here. For by making a triplet of the three last lines quoted, birth in the close of the first line is quite destitute of any rhyme to it. Besides, what a displeasing identity of sound recurs in the middle and close of this verse! "Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled shows,”

Again, new-fangled shows seems to have very little propriety. The flowers are not new-fangled, but the earth is new-fangled by the profusion and variety of the flowers, that spring on its bosom in May. I have therefore ventured to substitute earth, in the close of the third line, which restores the alternate measure. It was very easy for a negligent transcriber to be deceived by the rhyme immediately preceding; so mistake the concluding word in the sequent line, and corrupt it into one that would chime with the other. Theobald.

I rather suspect a line to have been lost after "an abortive birth." For an in that line the old copies have any. Corrected by Mr. Pope. Malone.

By these shows the poet means Maygames, at which a snow would be very unwelcome and unexpected. It is only a periphrasis for May. T. Warton.

I have no doubt that the more obvious interpretation is the true So, in Chaucer's Knightes Tale:

one.

39

"And fresher than May with floures new -. So also, in our poet's King Richard II:

"She came adorned hither, like sweet May."

So you"to"study now it is too late, by

Climb o'er the house "to unlock the little gate. house.top/&
King. Well, sit you out:5 go home, Biron; adieu!
Biron. No, my good lord; I have sworn to stay with
you:

And though I have for barbarism spoke more,
Than for that angel knowledge you can say,
Yet confident I'll keep what I have"swore,

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And bide the penance of each three years' day.
Give me the paper, let me read the same;
And to the strict'st decrees I'll write my name.

King. How well this yielding rescues thee from
shame!

Biron. [Reads.] Item, That no woman shall come within a mile of my court.And hath this been proclaim'd?

-

Four days ago.

Long.

Biron. Let's see the penalty. [Reads.]-On pain of losing her tongue.

Long. Marry, that did I.

Who devis'd this?"

i. e. as the ground is in that month enamelled by the gay diversity of flowers which the spring produces.

Again, in The Destruction of Troy, 1619: "At the entry of the month of May, when the earth is attired and adorned with divers flowers," &c. Malone.

I concur with Mr. Warton; for with what propriety can the flowers which every year produces with the same identical shape and colours, be called-new-fangled? The sports of May might be annually diversified, but its natural productions would be invariably the same. Steevens.

4 Climb o'er the house &c.] This is the reading of the quarto, 1598, and much preferable to that of the folio:

"That were to climb o'er the house to unlock the gate." Malone. 5 sit you out:] This may mean, hold you out, continue refractory. But I suspect, we should read-set you out. Malone. To sit out, is a term from the card-table. Thus, Bishop Sanderson:

"They are glad, rather than sit out, to play very small game." The person who cuts out at a rubber of whist, is still said to sit out; i. e. to be no longer engaged in the party. Steevens.

• Who devis'd this?] The old copies read-this penalty. I have omitted this needless repetition of the word penalty, because it destroys the measure. Steevens.

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Biron. Sweet lord, and why?

Long. To fright them hence with that dread penalty.

Long, [Biron. A dangerous law against gentility."" garrulity

[Reads.] Item, If any man be seen to talk with a woman within the term of three years, he shall endure such publick shame as the rest of the court can possibly devise.— This article, my liege, yourself must break;

For, well you know, here comes in embassy
The French king's daughter, with yourself to speak,-
A maid of grace, and cómplete majesty,-
About surrender-up of Aquitain

To her decrepit, sick, and bed-rid father:
Therefore this article is made in vain,

Or vainly comes the admired princess hither.
King. What say you, lords? why this was quite forgot.
Biron. So study evermore is overshot;
While it doth study to have what it would,
It doth forget to do the thing it should:
And when it hath the thing it hunteth most,
'Tis won, as towns with fire; so won, so lost.

King. We must, of force, dispense with this decree; She must lie here on mere necessity.

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71 dangerous law against gentility!] I have ventured to prefix the name of Biron to this line, it being evident, for two reasons, that it, by some accident or other, slipt out of the printed books. In the first place, Longaville confesses he had devised the penalty: and why he should immediately arraign it as a dangerous law, seems to be very inconsistent. In the next place, it is much more natural for Biron to make this reflection, who is cavilling at every thing; and then for him to pursue his reading over the remaining articles.-As to the word gentility, here, it does not signify that rank of people called gentry; but what the French express by gentilesse, i. e. elegantia, urbanitas. And then the meaning is this: Such a law for banishing women from the court, is dangerous, or injurious, to politeness, urbanity, and the more refined pleasures of life. For men without women would turn brutal, and savage, in their natures and behaviour. Theobald.

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lie here] Means reside here, in the same sense as an ambassador is said to lie leiger. See Beaumont and Fletcher's Love's Cure, or the Martial Maid, Act II, sc. ii:

"Or did the cold Muscovite beget thee,

"That lay here leiger, in the last great frost ?”

Again, in Sir Henry Wotton's Definition: "An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie (i, e. reside) abroad for the good of his country." Reed.

Biron. Necessity will make us all forsworn

Three thousand times within this three years' space:
For every man with his affects is born;

Not by might master'd, but by special grace:9
If I break faith, this word shall speak" for me, plead ms.
I am forsworn on mere necessity.-

[Subscribes.

So to the laws at large I write my name:

And he, that breaks them in the least degree, Stands in attainder of eternal shame:

Suggestions are to others, as to me;
But, I believe, although I seem so loath,
I am the last that will last keep his oath.
But is there no quick recreation2 granted?

King. Ay, that there is; our court, you know, is
haunted

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With a refined traveller of Spain;

A man in all the world's new fashion planted,
That hath a mint of phrases in his brain:
One, whom the musick of his own vain tongue
Doth ravish, like enchanting harmony;
A man of complements, whom right and wrong
Have chose as umpire of their mutiny :3

1 Suggestions-] Temptations. Johnson. So, in King Henry IV, P. I:

2

9 Not by might master'd, but by special grace:] Biron, amidst his extravagancies, speaks with great justness against the folly of vows. They are made without sufficient regard to the variations of life, and are therefore broken by some unforeseen necessity. They proceed commonly from a presumptuous confidence, and a false estimate of human power. Johnson.

So, in Antony and Cleopatra:

"

26

"And these led on by your suggestion." Steevens.
· quick recreation —] Lively sport, spritely diversion.
Johnson.

66

66— the quick comedians
'Extemporally will stage us."

Steevens.

3 A man of complements, whom right and wrong

Have chose as umpire of their mutiny:] As very bad a play as this is, it was certainly Shakspeare's, as appears by many fine master-strokes scattered up and down. An excessive complaisance is here admirably painted, in the person of one who was willing to make even right and wrong friends; and to persuade the one to recede from the accustomed stubbornness of her nature, and wink at the liberties of her opposite, rather than he would incur the imputation of ill-breeding in keeping up the quarrel. And 26.4 world-new fushions flaunted" ms.1632

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This child of fancy, that Armado hight,5

For interim to our studies, shall relate,
In high-born words, the worth of many a knight
From tawny Spain, lost in the world's debate."

as our author, and Jonson his contemporary, are confessedly the two greatest writers in the drama that our nation could ever boast of, this may be no improper occasion to take notice of one material difference between Shakspeare's worst plays and the other's. Our author owed all to his prodigious natural genius; and Jonson most to his acquired parts and learning, This, if attended to, will explain the difference we speak of: which is this, that, in Jonson's bad pieces, we do not discover the least traces of the author of the Fox and Alchemist; but in the wildest and most extravagant notes of Shakspeare, you every now and then encounter strains that recognize their divine composer. And the reason is this, that Jonson owing his chief excellence to art, by which he sometimes strained himself to an uncommon pitch, when he unbent himself, had nothing to support him, but fell below all likeness of himself; while Shakspeare, indebted more largely to nature, than the other to his acquired talents, could never, in his most negligent hours, so totally divest himself of his genius, but that it would frequently break out with amazing force and splendour. Warburton.

This passage, I believe, means no more than that Don Armado was a man nicely versed in ceremonial distinctions; one who could distinguish in the most delicate questions of honour, the exact boundaries of right and wrong. Compliment, in Shakspeare's time, did not signify, at least did not only signify verbal civility, or phrases of courtesy, but, according to its original meaning, the trappings, or ornamental appendages of a character, in the same manner, and on the same principles of speech with accomplishment. Complement is, as Armado well expresses it, the varnish of a complete man. Johnson.

Dr. Johnson's opinion may be supported by the following passage in Lingua, or The Combat of the Tongue and the Five Senses for Superiority, 1607:-" after all fashions and of all colours, with rings, jewels, a fan, and in every other place, odd complements." And again, by the title-page to Richard Braithwaite's English Gentlewoman: drawne out to the full body, expressing what habiliments doe best attire her: what ornaments doe best adorne her; and what complements doe best accomplish her." Again, in p. 59, we are told that "complement hath beene anciently defined, and so successively retained;-a no lesse reall than formall accomplishment."

4 This child of fancy,] This fantastick. The expression, in another sense, has been adopted by Milton in his L'Allegro: "Or sweetest Shakspeare, Fancy's child —.” That Armado hight,] Who is called Armado. Malone.

Malone.

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