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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
Which must be even as swiftly follow'd, as
On, good Camillo. CAM. I am appointed Him to murder you."
POL. By whom, Camillo?
By the king.
CAM. He thinks, nay, with all confidence he
As he had seen't, or been an instrument
• I am appointed Him to murder you.] i. e. I am the appointed to murder you. STEEVENS.
So, in King Henry VI. P. I:
"Him that thou magnifiest with all these titles,
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.
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
O, then my best blood turn
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
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,
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.
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.
By all their influences, you may as well
How should this grow?
CAM. I know not: but, I am sure, 'tis safer to
Have utter'd truth: which if you seek to prove,
His execution sworn.
I do believe thee:
-In our author we have weigh out for outweigh, overcome for come over, &c. and over-swear 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,
Is pil'd upon his faith,] This folly which is erected on the foundation of settled belief. STEevens,
I saw his heart in his face. Give me thy hand;
Still neighbour mine: My ships are ready, and
Is for a precious creature as she's rare,
In that be made more bitter. Fear o'ershades me:
"I saw his heart in his face.] So, in Macbeth:
"To find the mind's construction in the face."
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.
By places, our author means-preferments, or honours.
Good expedition be my friend, and comfort
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:
The gracious queen's;
i. e. be expedition my friend, and be comfort the queen's friend. WARBURTON.
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:
The gracious queen, part of his theme, but nothing
I will respect thee as a father, if
Thou bear'st 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.
Jealousy is a passion compounded of love and suspicion; this passion 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.
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."