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By love's own sweet constraint, and will for ever
Ay, so you serve us,
How have I sworn ? Dia. 'Tis not the many oaths, that make the
truth; But the plain single vow, that is vow'd true. What is not holy, that we swear not by , But take the Highest to witness : Then, pray you,
If I should swear by Jove's great attributes",
7. No more of that !
I proythee, do not strive against my vows :
I was compell’d to her:] Against his vows, I believe means-against his determined resolution never to cohabit with Helena; and this vow, or resolution, he had very strongly expressed in his letter to the Countess. STEEvens. So, in Vittoria Corombona, a tragedy, by Webster, 1612:
“ Henceforth I'll never lie with thee,
My vow is fix’d.” Malone. 8 What is not holy, that we swear not by,] The sense is *We never swear by what is not holy, but swear by, or take to witness, the Highest, the Divinity. The tenor of the reasoning contained in the following lines perfectly corresponds with this : If I should swear by Jove's great attributes, that I loved you dearly, would you believe my oaths, when you found by experience that I loved you ill, and was endeavouring to gain credit with you in order to seduce you to your ruin? No, surely; but you would conclude that I had no faith either in Jove or his attributes, and that my oaths were mere words of course.' For that oath can certainly have no tie upon us, which we swear by him we profess to love and honour, when at the same time we give the strongest proof of our disbelief in him, by pursuing a course which we know will offend and dishonour him. Heath.
9 If I should swear by Jove's great attributes,] In the print of the old folio, it is doubtful whether it be Jove's or Love's, the characters being not distinguishable. If it is read Love's, perhaps it may be something less difficult. I am still at a loss.
I lov'd you dearly, would you believe my oaths,
Change it, change it;
* To swear by him whom I protest to love, &c.] This passage likewise appears to me corrupt. She swears not by him whom she loves, but by Jupiter. I believe we may read~" To swear to him.” There is, says she, no holding, no consistency, in swearing to one that I love him, when I swear it only to injure him.
Johnson. This appears to me a very probable conjecture. Mr. Heath's explanation, which refers the words—“whom I protest to love,” to Jove, can hardly be right. Let the reader judge. Malone. May we not read
“ To swear by him whom I profess to love.” Harris. 2 I see, that men MAKE HOPES, in such a scene,] The four folio editions read :
make ROPE's in such a SCARRE." The emendation (make hopes, in such affairs] was introduced by Mr. Rowe. I find the word scarre in The Tragedy of Hoffman, 1631 ; but do not readily perceive how it can suit the
of the present speaker :
“ I know a cave, wherein the bright day's eye,
“ There have I sometimes liv'd,” &c. Again :
“ Where is the villain's body ?
That we'll forsake ourselves. Give me that ring. BER. I'll lend it thee, my dear, but have no
power To give it from me.
“ Run up to the top of the dreadful scarre.” Again :
“ I stood upon the top of the high scarre." Ray says, that a scarre is a cliff of a rock, or a naked rock on the dry land, from the Saxon carre, cautes. He adds, that this word gave denomination to the town of Scarborough.
But as some Latin commentator, (whose name I have forgot,) observes on a similar occasion, “ veritate desperatâ, nihil amplius · curæ de hac re suscipere volui.” STEEVENS.
“ I see, that men make hopes, in such a scene,
“ That we'll forsake ourselves.” i. e. I perceive that while our lovers are making professions of love, and acting their assumed parts in this kind of amorous interlude, they entertain hopes that we shall be betrayed by our passions to yield to their desires. So, in Much Ado About Nothing : “ The sport will be, when they hold an opinion of one another's dotage, and no such matter,that's the scene that I would see,” &c. Again, in The Winter's
It shall be so my care
“ The scene you play, were mine.” The old copy reads :
I see, that men make ropes in such a scarre,” &c. Which Mr. Rowe altered to—“ make hopes in such affairs ;” and all the subsequent editors adopted his correction. It being entirely arbitrary, any emendation that is nearer to the traces of the unintelligible word in the old copy, and affords at the same time an easy sense, is better entitled to a place in the text.
A corrupted passage in the first sketch of The Merry Wives of Windsor, suggested to me [scene,] the emendation now introduced. In the fifth Act, Fenton describes to the Host his scheme for marrying Anne Page :
or And in a robe of white this night disguised
“ Must Slender take her,” &c. It is manifest, from the corresponding lines in the folio, that scare was printed by mistake for scene ; for in the folio the passage
you not, my lord ?
Mine honour's such a ring:
Here, take my ring:
ber window; I'll order take, my mother shall not hear.
The expression, “ to make hopes," though it now sounds oddly to our ears, is supported by similar phraseology in other places. So, in one of our poet's Sonnets we find—“the faults I make.” Again, in Measure for Measure, Act III. Sc. II.: “ What offence hath this man made you, sir ?" Malone.
Mr. Rowe's emendation is not only liable to objection from its dissimilarity to the reading of the four folios, but also from the aukwardness of his language, where the literal resemblance is most, like the words, rejected. “ In such affairs,” is a phrase too vague for Shakspeare, when a determined point, to which the preceding conversation had been gradually narrowing, was in question; and “to make hopes," is as uncouth an expression as can well be imagined.
Nor is Mr. Malone's supposition, of scene for scarre, a whit more in point : for, first, scarre, in every part of England where rocks abound, is well known to signify “the detached protrusion of a large rock;” whereas scare is terror or affright. Nor was scare, in the first sketch of The Merry Wives of Windsor, a mistake for scene, but an intentional change of ideas ; scare implying only Falstaff's terror, but scene including the spectator's entertainment. On the supposal that make hopes is the true reading, “ in such a scarre,” may be taken figuratively for “ in such an extremity,"i. e. in so desperate a situation. Henley.
Now will I charge you in the band of truth,
[Exit. Dia. For which live long to thank both heaven
and me! You may so in the end. My mother told me just how he would woo, As if she sat in his heart; she says, all men Have the like oaths: he had sworn to marry me, When his wife's dead; therefore I'll lie with him, When I am buried. Since Frenchmen are so braid, Marry that will, I'll live * and die a maid :
* First folio, I live.
Since Frenchmen are so BRAID, Marry that will, I'll live and die a maid :) Braid signifies crafty or deceitful. So, in Greene's Never Too Late, 1616:
Dian rose with all her maids,
Blushing thus at love his braids." Chaucer uses the word in the same sense ;
but as the passage where it occurs in his Troilus and Cressida is contested, it may
be necessary to observe, that Bred is an Anglo-Saxon word, signifying fraus, astus. Again, in Thomas Drant's translation of Horace's Epistles, where its import is not very clear :
Professing thee a friend, to plaie the ribbalde at a brade.” In The Romaunt of The Rose, v. 1336, braid seems to mean forthwith, or, at a jerk. There is nothing to answer it in the French, except tantost.
In the ancient song of Lytyl Thanke, (MS. Cotton, Titus A. xxvi.) “at a brayd" undoubtedly signifies—at once, on a sudden, in the instant : “ But in come ffrankelyn at a brayd." STEEVENS.