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I have look'd on thousands, who have sped the better
By my regard, but kill'd none so. Camillo,-
As you are certainly a gentleman; thereto
Clerk-like, experienc'd, which no less adorns
Our gentry, than our parents' noble names,
In whose success we are gentle,-I beseech you
If you know aught which does behove my knowledge
Thereof to be inform'd, imprison it not

In ignorant concealment.


I may not answer.

Pol. A sickness caught of me, and yet I well! I must be answer'd.-Dost thou hear, Camillo,

I conjure thee, by all the parts of man,

Which honour does acknowledge,-whereof the least
Is not this suit of mine,-that thou declare
What incidency thou dost guess of harm

Is creeping toward me; how far off, how near;
Which way to be prevented, if to be;

If not, how best to bear it.


Sir, I'll tell you;

Since I am charg'd in honour, and by him

That I think honourable: Therefore, mark my counsel;
Which must be even as swiftly follow'd, as

I mean to utter it; or both yourself and me
Cry, lost, and so good-night.


On, good Camillo. "Cam. I am appointed Him to murder you."

5 In whose success we are gentle,] I know not whether success here does not mean succession. Johnson.

Gentle in the text is evidently opposed to simple; alluding to the distinction between the gentry and yeomanry. So, in The Insatiate Countess, 1613:

"And make thee gentle being born a beggar."

In whose success we are gentle, may, indeed, mean in consequence of whose success in life, &c. Steevens.

Success seems clearly to have been used for succession by Shakspeare, in this, as in other instances. Henley.

I think Dr. Johnson's explanation of success the true one. in Titus Andronicus:

"Plead my successive title with your swords." Malone.


6 I am appointed Him to murder you.] i. e. I am the person appointed to murder you. Steevens.

Pol. By whom, Camillo?



By the king.

For what?

Cam. He thinks, nay, with all confidence he swears, As he had seen 't, or been an instrument

To vice you to 't,7-that you have touch'd his queen

O, then my best blood turn
To an infected jelly; and my name

Be yok'd with his, that did betray the best!
Turn then my freshest reputation to

A savour, that may strike the dullest nostril
Where I arrive; and my approach be shunn'd,
Nay, hated too, worse than the great'st infection
That e'er was heard, or read!


Swear his thought over

By each particular star in heaven, and

So, in King Henry VI, P. I:

"Him that thou magnifiest with all these titles,
Stinking and fly-blown lies there at our feet.”



7 To vice you to 't,] i. e. to draw, persuade you. The character called the Vice, in the old plays, was the tempter to evil. Warburton.

The vice is an instrument well known; its operation is to hold things together. So, the Bailiff speaking of Falstaff: "If he come but within my vice," &c. A vice, however, in the age of Shakspeare, might mean any kind of clock-work or machinery. So, in Holinshed, p. 245: ". the rood of Borleie in Kent, called the rood of grace, made with diverse vices to moove the eyes and lips," &c. It may, indeed, be no more than a corruption of "to advise you." So, in the old metrical romance of Syr Guy of Warwick, bl. 1. no date:

"Then said the emperour Ernis,
"Methinketh thou sayest a good vyce."

But my first attempt at explanation is, I believe, the best.



did betray the best;] Perhaps Judas. The word best is

spelt with a capital letter thus, Best, in the first folio.

9 Swear his thought over


By each particular star in heaven, &c.] The transposition of a single letter reconciles this passage to good sense. Polixenes, in the preceding speech, had been laying the deepest imprecations on himself, if he had ever abused Leontes in any familiarity with his Queen. To which Camillo very pertinently replies: Swear this though over, &c. Theobald.

By all their influences, you may as well
Forbid the sea for to obey the moon,1
As or, by oath, remove, or counsel, shake,
The fabrick of his folly; whose foundation
Is pil'd upon his faith,2 and will continue
The standing of his body.


How should this grow?
Cam. I know not; but, I am sure, 'tis safer to
Avoid what's grown, than question how 'tis born.
If therefore you dare trust my honesty,-
That lies enclosed in this trunk, which you
Shall bear along impawn'd,-away to-night.
Your followers I will whisper to the business;
And will, by twos, and threes, at several posterns,
Clear them o' the city: For myself, I'll put
My fortunes to your service, which are here
By this discovery lost. Be not uncertain;
For, by the honour of my parents, I

Have utter'd truth: which if you seek to prove,
I dare not stand by; nor shall you be safer

Than one condemn'd by the king's own mouth, thereon

Swear his thought over, may perhaps mean, overswear his present persuasion, that is, endeavour to overcome his opinion, by swearing oaths numerous as the stars. Johnson.

It may mean: "Though you should endeavour to swear away his jealousy, though you should strive, by your oaths, to change his present thoughts."-The vulgar still use a similar expression: "To swear a person down." Malone.

This appears to me little better than nonsense; nor have either Malone or Johnson explained it into sense. I think, therefore, that Theobald's amendment is necessary and well imagined.

M. Mason.

Perhaps the construction is-" Over-swear his thought,”-i. e. strive to bear down, or overpower, his conception by oaths.-In our author we have weigh out for outweigh, overcome for come over, &c. and overswear for swear over, in Twelfth Night, Act V.


•you may as well


Forbid the sea for to obey the moon,] We meet with the same sentiment in The Merchant of Venice:


"You may as well go stand upon the beach,

"And bid the main flood 'bate his usual height." Douce.

whose foundation

Is pil'd upon his faith,] This folly which is erected on the foundation of settled belief. Steevens.

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His execution sworn.


I do believe thee:

I saw his heart in his face.3 Give me thy hand;
Be pilot to me, and thy places shall

Still neighbour mine: My ships are ready, and
My people did expect my hence departure
Two days ago.-This jealousy

Is for a precious creature: as she's rare,
Must it be great; and, as his person 's mighty,
Must it be violent; and as he does conceive
He is dishonour'd by a man which ever
Profess'd to him, why, his revenges must

In that be made more bitter. Fear o'ershades me:

Good expedition be my friend," and comfort": heav'n comfort dream The gracious queen, part of his theme, but nothing Of his ill-ta'en suspicion! Come, Camillo;

3 I saw his heart in his face.] So, in Macbeth:

"To find the mind's construction in the face." Steevens.
and thy places shall

Still neighbour mine:] Perhaps Shakspeare wrote-" And thy
paces shall," &c. Thou shalt be my conductor, and we will both
pursue the same path.-The old reading, however, may mean—
wherever thou art, I will still be near thee. Malone.
By places, our author means—preferments, or honours. Steevens.
5 Good expedition be my friend, and comfort

The gracious queen, part of his theme, but nothing

Of his ill-ta'en suspicion!] But how could this expedition comfort the Queen? on the contrary, it would increase her husband's suspicion. We should read:

and comfort

The gracious queen's;

i.e. be expedition my friend, and be comfort the queen's friend.

Dr. Warburton's conjecture is, I think, just; but what shall
be done with the following words, of which I can make nothing?
Perhaps the line which connected them to the rest is lost:

and comfort

The gracious queen, part of his theme, but nothing
Of his ill-ta'en suspicion !-

Jealousy is a passion compounded of love and suspicion; this pas-
sion is the theme or subject of the King's thoughts.-Polixenes,
perhaps, wishes the Queen, for her comfort, so much of that
theme or subject as is good, but deprecates that which causes
misery. May part of the King's present sentiments comfort the
Queen, but away with his suspicion. This is such meaning as
can be picked out. Johnson.

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I will respect thee as a father, if

Thou bears't my life off hence: Let us avoid.
Cam. It is in mine authority, to command

The keys of all the posterns: Please your highness
To take the urgent hour: come, sir, away.



The same.

Enter HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, and Ladies.

Her. Take the boy to you: he so troubles me, 'Tis past enduring.

1 Lady.

Come, my gracious lord.

Shall I be your play-fellow?


No, I'll none of you.

1 Lady. Why, my sweet lord?

Mam. You'll kiss me hard; and speak to me as if

I were a baby still.-I love you better.

2 Lady. And why so, my good lord?" Mam. Not for because Your brows are blacker; yet black brows, they say, Become some women best; so that there be not

Perhaps the sense is-May that good speed which is my friend, comfort likewise the Queen who is part of its theme, i. e. partly on whose account I go away; but may not the same comfort extend itself to the groundless suspicions of the King; i.e. may not my departure support him in them! His for its is common with Shakspeare: and Paulina says, in a subsequent scene, that she does not choose to appear a friend to Leontes, in comforting his evils, i. e. in strengthening his jealousy by appearing to acquiesce in it. Steevens.

Comfort is, I apprehend, here used as a verb. Good expedition befriend me, by removing me from a place of danger, and comfort the innocent Queen, by removing the object of her husband's jealousy; the Queen, who is the subject of his conversation, but without reason the object of his suspicion!-We meet with a similar phraseology in Twelfth Night: "Do me this courteous office, as to know of the knight, what my offence to him is; it is something of my negligence, nothing of my purpose. Malone.

my good lord?] The epithet-good, which is wanting in the old copies, is transplanted (for the sake of metre) from a re. dundant speech in the following page. Steevens.

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