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-So, thou, Posthumus, Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men ;) When Posthumus thought his wife false, he unjustly scandalized the whole sex. His wife here, under the same impressions of his infidelity, attended with more provoking circumstances, acquits his sex, and lays the fault where it is due. The poet paints from nature. This is life and manners. The man thinks it a dishonour to the superiority of his understanding to be jilted, and therefore flatters his vanity into a conceit that the disgrace was inevitable from the general infidelity of the sex. The woman, on the contrary, not imagining her credit to be at all affected in the matter, never seeks out for so extravagant a consolation; but at once eases her malice and her grief, by laying the crime and damage at the door of some obnoxious coquet.
WARBURTON. 371. Something's afore't-] The old copy reads, Something's a-foot
The scriptures -] So Ben Jonson, in The Sad Shepherd :
“ The lover's scriptures, Heliodore's, or Tatius'." Shakspere, however, means in this place, an opposition between scripture, in its common signification, and heresy.
STEEVENS. 387. That now thou tir'st on, -] A hawk is said to tire upon that which he pecks; from tirer, French.
JOHNSON. 404 To be unbent,
-] To have thy bow unbent; alluding to a hunter.
-Now, if you could wear a mind
Dark as your fortune is; -— ] To wear a dark mind, is to carry a mind impenetrable to the search of others. Darkness, applied to the mind, is secrecy, applied to the fortune, is obscurity. The next lines are obscure. You must, says Pisanio, disguise that greatness, which, to appear hereafter in its proper form, cannot yet appear without great danger to itself.
JOHNSON 454. - full of view; -] With opportunities of examining your affairs with your own eyes.
JOHNSON. 460. Though peril to my modesty, -] I read,
Through perilI would for such means adventure through peril of Modesty; I would risque every thing but real dishonour.
-nay, you must
Alack, no remedy)-] I think it very natural to reflect in this distress on the cruelty of Posthumus.
JOHNSON. 485. -(which you'll make him know,] This is Hanmer's reading. The common books have it :
-which will make him know, Mr. Theobald, in one of his long notes, endeavours to prove, that it should be :
-which will make him so. He is followed by Dr. Warburton. Johnson.
-we'll even All that good time will give us :-) We'll make our work even with our time; we'll do what time will allow.
I am soldier to, -] i. e. I have inlisted and bound myself to it.
WARBURTON. 592. And that she hath all courtly parts more exquisite
Than lady, ladies, woman; from every one
The best she hath,] She has all courtly parts, says he, more exquisite than any lady, than all ladies, than all womankind.
JOHNSON. There is a similar passage in All's Well that Ends Well, act ii. sc. 3. “ To any count; to all counts; to what is man.'
TOLLET. 629. Or this, or perish.] These words, I think, belong to Cloten, who, requiring the paper, says:
Let's see't: I will pursue her
Even to Augustus’ throne. Or this, or perish. Then Pisanio giving the paper, says to himself: She's far enough, &c.
JOHNSON. I own I am of a different opinion. Or this, or perish, properly belongs to Pisanio, who says to himself, as he gives the paper into the hands of Cloten, I must either give it him freely, or perish in my attempt to keep it: or else the words may be considered as a reply to Cloten's boast of following her to the throne of Augustus, and are added slily: You will either do what you say, or perish, which is the more probable of the two.
I cannot but think Dr. Johnson in the right, from the account of this transaction which Pisanio after
wards gave :
Lord Cloten, Upon my lady's inissing, came to me, “ With his sword drawn; foam'd at the mouth,
and swore, " If I discover'd not which way she was gone, “ It was my instant death : By accident, “ I had a feigned letter of my master's
“ Then in my pocket," &c. But if the words, Or this, or perish, belong to Pisanio, as the letter was feigned, they must have been spoken out, not aside.
HENLEY. 706. Is sorer, -] Is a greater, or heavier crime.
JOHNSON 716. If any thing that's civil,-) Civil, for hu
WARBURTON. If any thing that's civil, speak; if savage,
Take, or lend. -] She is in doubt, whether this cave be the habitation of a man or beast. If it be the former, she bids him speak; if the latter, that is, the den of a savage beast, what then? Take or lend-We should read :
Take or 't end. i. e. Take my life ere famine end it. Or was commonly used for ere: this agrees to all that went before.
suppose the emendation proposed will not easily be received; it is strained and obscure, and the ob
jection against Hanmer's reading is likewise very strong I question whether, after the words, if savage, a line be not lost. I can offer nothing better than to read,
Ho! who's here?
If savage, speak. If you are civilized and peaceable, take a price for what I want, or lend it for a future recompence ; if you are rough inhospitable inhabitants of the mountain, speak, that I may know my state.
JOHNSON. Dr. Johnson's interpretation of these words is con. firmed by what Imogen says afterwards“ I call’d, and thought to have begg’d or bought."
MALONE. If any thing that's civil, speak; if savage,
Take or lend.-Ho! -] It is by no means necessary suppose
savage hold signifies the habitation of a beast. It may as well be used for the cave of a savage, or wild man, who, in the romances of the time, were represented as residing in the woods, like the famous Orson, Bremo in the play of Mucedorus, or the savage in the seventh canto of the fourth book of Spenser's Faery Queen, and the 6th B. C. 4.
STEEVENS. May not, if any thing that's civil, intimate the chance of this cave's being the abode of one amenable to the laws of society, in opposition to the greater probability of its belonging to an out-law ?-Robin Hood, Adam Bell, and Clym of the Clough, were all of them wood