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Long. You fwore to that, Biron, and to the rest. Biron. By yea and nay, Sir, then I fwore in jeft." What is the end of study? let me know?
King. Why, that to know, which elfe we should
Biron. Things hid and barr'd (you mean) from
King. Ay, that is ftudy's god-like recompencé..
King. Thefe be the ftops, that hinder ftudy quite; And train our Intellects to vain delight.
Biron. Why, all delights are vain; but that most vain, Which, with pain purchas'd, doth inherit pain; As, painfully to pore upon a book,
To feek the light of truth; while truth the while } Doth falfly blind the eye-fight of his look:
Light, feeing light, doth light of light beguile;
i. e. when I am enjoin'd beforehand to fast, THEOBALD.
3while truth the while
2 The copies all have, When I to faft exprefly am forbid.] But if Biron ftudied where to get a good Dinner, at a time when he Doth falfly blind.} Falfly was forbid to faft, how was This is here, and in many other places, ftudying to know what he was the fame as difbaneftly or treacherforbid to know? Common Senfe, ously. The whole fenfe of this and the whole Tenour of the gingling declamation is only this, Contexty requires us to read feaft, that a man by too close study or to make a Change in the laft may read himself blind, which Word of the Verfe.might have been told with less When I to fall exprefly fore- obfcurity in fewer words
bid; VOL. II.
So, ere you find where light in darkness lies,
Who dazzling fo, that eye shall be his heed,
That will not be deep fearch'd with fawcy looks;
4 Who dazzling fo, that eye
blinded by. This is another paffage unneceffarily obfcure: the meaning is, that when he dazzles, that is, has his eye made weak, by fixing his eye upon a fairer eye, that fairer eye shall be his beed, his direction or lodefar, (fee Midfummer Night's Dream) and give him light that was blinded by it.
5. Too much to know, is to know nought but FAME; And every Godfather can give a name.] The first line in this reading is abfurd and impertinent. There are two ways of fetting it right. The firft is to read it thus,
Too much to know, is to know
nought but SHAME; This makes a fine fenfe, and al
ludes to Adam's Fall, which came from the inordinate paffion of knowing too much. The other' way is to read, and point it thus,
Too much to know, is to know
nought: but FEIGN, i. e. to feign. As much as to fay, the affecting to know too much is the way to know nothing. The fense, in both these readings, is equally good: But with this difference; If we read the firft way, the following line is impertinent; and to fave the correction, we must judge it fpurious. If we read it the fecond way, then the following line compleats the fenfe. Confequently the correction of feign is to be preferred. To know too much (fays the fpeaker) is to know nothing; it is only feigning to know what we do not: giving names for things without knowing their natures; which is falfe knowledge:
King. How well he's read, to reafon against reading!
Biron. The fpring is near, when green geefe are a
Dum. How follows that?
Biron. Fit in his place and time.
Biron. Something then in rhime.
Long. Biron is like an envious fneaping froft,
That bites the firft-born infants of the fpring.
Biron. Well; fay, I am; why should proud fummer boaft,
Before the birds have any caufe to fing?
Why should I joy in an abortive birth??
knowledge: And this was the peculiar defect of the Peripatetic Philofophy then in vogue. These philofophers, the poet, with the higheft humour and good fenfe, calls the Godfathers of Nature, who could only give things a name, but had no manner of acquaintance with their effences.
That there are two ways of Jetting a paffage right gives reafon to fufpect that there may be a third way better than either. The firft of thefe emendations makes a fine fenfe, but will not unite with the next line; the other makes a fenfe lefs fine, and yec will not rhyme to the correfpondent word I cannot fee why the paffage may not ftand with out difturbance. The confequence fays Biron, of too much knowledge, is not any real folution of doubts, but mere empty reputation.
6 Proceeded well, to good proceeding.] To proceed is ftop all an academical term, meaning, to take a degree, as he proceeded bachelor in phyfick. The fenfe is, he has taken his degrees on the art of hindering the degrees of others.
7 Why Jhould I joy in an abort-
At Christmas I no more defire a
Than wish a Snow inMay's new-
But like of each Thing, that in
Seafon grows.] As the greateft part of this Scene (both what precedes and follows) is ftrictly in Rhimes, either fuccef five, alternate, or triple; I am perfuaded, the Copyifts have made a flip here. For by mak ing a Triplet of the three laft Lines quoted, Birth in the Clofe of the first Line is quite destitute of any Rhyme to it. Befides, I 2
At Christmas I no more defire a rofe,
Than with a fnow in May's new-fangled fhows:
That were to climb o'er th' houfe t'unlock the gate.
And though I have for barbarism spoke more,
And 'bide the penance of each three years' day.
Biron. Item. That no woman shall come within a
mile of my Court.
Hath this been proclaimed?
Long. To fright them hence with that dread penalty.
what a difpleafing Identity of Sound recurs in the Middle and Clofe of this Verfe?
Than wifh a Snow in May's
new-fangled Shows: Again; new-fangled Shows feems to have very little Propriety. The Flowers are not new-fangled; but the earth is nerv-fangled by the Profufion and Variety of the Flowers, that fpring on its Bofom in May, I have therefore ventured to fubftitute, Earth, in
the Clofe of the 3d Line, which reftores the alternate Measure. It was very eafy for a negligent Transcriber to be deceived by the Rhime immediately preceding; fo mistake the concluding Word in the fequent Line, and corrupt it into one that would chime with the other. THEOBALD.
8 A dangerous Law against Gentility!] I have ventured to prefix the Name of Biron to this
Item, [reading.] If any man be feen to talk with a woman within the term of three Years, he shall endure. fuch publick fame as the rest of the Court can poffibly devife.
This article, my liege, yourself must break;
For, well you know, here comes in embaffy The French King's daughter with yourfelf to fpeak, A maid of grace and compleat majesty, About Surrender up of Aquitain
To her decrepit, fick, and bed-rid father: Therefore this article is made in vain,
Or vainly comes th' admired Princess hither. King. What fay you, lords? why, this was quite forgot.
Biron. So ftudy evermore is overshot;
While it doth study to have what it would,
Biron. Neceffity will make us all forfworn,
Three thousand times within this three years space:
For every man with his affects is born:"
Not by might mafter'd, but by fpecial grace.
Line, it being evident, for two Reafons, that it, by fome Accident or other, flipt out of the printed Books. In the firft place, Longueville confeffes, he had devis'd the Penalty and why he fhould immediately arraign it as a dangerous Law, feems to be very inconfiftent. In the next place, it is much more natural for Biron to make this Reflexion, who is cavilling at every thing; and then for him to purfue his reading over the remaining Articles. As to the Word Gen
tility, here, it does not fignify that Rank of People called, Gentry; but what the French express by, gentileffe, i. e. elegantia urbanitas. And then the Meaning is this. Such a law for banishing Women from the Court, is dangerous, or injurious, to Politenefs, Urbanity, and the more refined Pleafures of Life. For Men without Women would turn trutal, and favage, in their Natures and Behaviour. THEOBALD. 9 Not by might mafter'd, but by Special grace.] Biron amidít I 3