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(For that is her demand) and know her business?
Now, good Lafeu,
Nay, I'll fit you,
[Exit LAF. King. Thus he his special nothing ever prologues. 8
Re-enter LAFEU, with HELENA.
This haste hath wings indeed.
King. Now, fair one, does your business follow us?
King. I knew. him.
Hel. The rather will I spare my praises towards him;
8 Thus he his special nothing ever prologues.] So, in Othello:
“'Tis evermore the prologue to his sleep.” Steevens. 9 - come your ways;] This vulgarism is also put into the mouth of Polonius. See Hamlet, Act I, sc. iii. Steevens.
Cressid's uncle,] I am like Pandarus. See Troilus and Cressida. Fohnson. well found.] i. e. of known acknowledged excellence.
Steevens. 3-a triple eye,] i. e. a third eye. So, in Antony and Cleopatra :
“The triple pillar of the world, transformid
With that malignant cause wherein the honour
We thank you, maiden;
Hel. My duty then shall pay me for my pains:
King. I cannot give thee less, to be call'd grateful:
Hel. What I can do, can do no hurt to try, Since you set up your rest 'gainst remedy: He that of greatest works is finisher, Oft does them by the weakest minister: So holy writ in babes hath judgment shown, When judges have been babes.5 Great foods have flown
wherein the honour of my dear father's gift stands chief in power,] Perhaps we may better read?
wherein the power Of my dear father's gift stands chief in honour. Johnson. 5 So holy writ in babes hath judgment shown,
IV hen judges have been babes.] The allusion is to St. Matthew's Gospel, si, 25: “O father, lord of heaven and earth. I thank thee, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed thein unto babes." See also 1 Cor. i, 27: “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty." Malone,
From simple sources; and great seas have dried,
King. I must not hear thee; fare thee well, kind maid;
Hel. Inspired merit so by breath is barr’d:
6 When miracles have by the greatest been denied.) I do not see the import or connexion of this line. As the next line stands with. out a correspondent rhyme, I suspect that something has been lost. Johnson.
I point the passage thus; and then I see no reason to complain of want of connexion :
When judges have been babes. Great floods, &c.
When miracles have by the greatest been denied. Shakspeare after alluding to the production of water from a rock, and the drying up of the Red Sea, says, that miracles had been de nied by the GREATEST; or, in other words, that the ELDERS of ISRAEL (who just before, in reference to another text, were styled judges) had, notwithstanding these miracles, wrought for their own preservation, refused that compliance they ought to have yielded. See the Book of Exodus, particularly ch. xvii, 5, 6, &c. Henley.
So holy writ, &c. alludes to Daniel's judging, when, “a young youth,” the two Elders in the story of Susannah.
Great floois, i. e. when Moses smote the rock in Horeb, Exod. xvii.
great seas have driet
When miracles have by the greatest been denied. Dr. Johnson did not see the import or connexion of this line. It certainly refers to the children of Israel passing the Red Sea, when miracles had been denied, or not hearkened to, by Pharaoh.
H White. - and despair most sits.) The old copy reads--shifts. The correction was made by Mr. Pope. Malone.
8 Myself against the level of mine aim ;] i. e. pretend to greater things than befits the mediocrity of my condition. Warburton.
But know I think, and think I know most sure,
King. Art thou so confident? Within what space
The greatest grace lending grace,
King. Upon thy certainty and confidence,
Tax of impudence,
I rather think that she means to say,-1 am not an impostor that proclaim one thing and design another, that proclaim a cure and aim at a fraud; I think what I speak. Johnson. 9 The
greatest grace lending grace,] I should have thought the repetition of grace to have been superfluous, if the grace of grace had not occurred in the speech with which the tragedy of Macbeth concludes. Steevens.
The former grace in this passage, and the latter in Macbeth, evidently signify divine grace. Henley.
- his sleepy lamp;] Old copy-her sleepy lamp. Corrected by Mr. Rowe. Malone.
a divulged shame,-
With vilest torture let my life be ended ] I would bear (says she) the tax of impudence, which is the denotement of a strumpet ; would endure a shame resulting from my failure in what I have undertaken, and thence become the subject of odious ballads; let my mai len reputation be otherwise braniled; and, no worse of worst extended, i.e. provided nothing worse is offered to me, (meaning violation) let my life be ended with the worst of tortures. The poet, for the sake of rhyme, has obscured the sense of the passage. The worst that can befal a woman, being extended to me, seems to be the meaning of the last line. Steevens.
King. Methinks, in thee some blessed spirit doth speak; His powerful sound, within an organ weak:3 And what impossibility would slay In common sense, sense saves another way.* Thy life is dear; for all, that life can rate Worth name of life, in thee hath estimate ;5
Tax of impudence, that is, to be charged with having the bold. ness of a strumpet:-a divulged shame ; i. e. to be traduced by odious ballads: my maiden's name seared otherwise ; i. e. to be stigmatized as a prostitute:—No worse of worst extended; i. e. to be so defamed that nothing severer can be said against those who are most publickly reported to be infamous. Shakspeare has used the word sear and extended in The Winter's Tale, both in the same sense as above:
for calumny will sear 6 Virtue itself!" And “ The report of her is extended more than can be thought."
Henley. The old copy reads, not no, but ne, probably an error for nay, or the. I would wish to read and point the latter part of the pas
my maiden's name
With wilest torture, let my life be ended. i.e. Let me be otherwise branded; -and (what is the worst of worst the consummation of misery) my body being extended on the rack by the most cruel torture, let my life pay the forfeit of my pre. sumption. So, in Daniel's Cleopatra, 1594:
the worst of worst of ills.”
“ If she be fat, then she is swollen, say,
“ If slender, Icane, meagre and worne away,
“If courtly, wanton, worst of worst before.” Malone. 3 Methinks, in thee some blessed spirit doth speak;
His powerful sound, within an organ we sk:] The verb, doth speak, in the first line, should be understood to be repeated in the construction of the second, thus:
His powerful sound speaks within a weak organ. Heath. This, in my opinion, is a very just and happy explanation.
Steevens. 4 And what impossibility would slay
In common sense, sense saves another way.] i.e. and that which, if I trusted to my reason, I should think impossible, I yet, perceiving thee to be actuated by some blessed spirit, think thee capable of effecting. Malone.