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Myself would, on the rereward of reproaches,
Strike at thy life. "Griev'd I, I had but one?
Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame?6
O, one too much by thee! Why had I one?
Why ever wast thou lovely in my eyes?
Why had I not, with charitable hand,
Took up a beggar's issue at my gates;
Who smirched thus,? and mired with infamy,
I might have said, No part of it is mine,
This shame derives itself from unknown loins ?
But mine, and mine I lov'd, and mine I prais’d,
And mine that I was proud on ;8 mine so much,

Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame !) Frame is contrivance, order, disposition of things. So, in The Death of Robert Earl of Huntington, 1603:

* And therefore seek to set each thing in frame." Again, in Holinshed's Chronicle, p. 555: — There was no man that studied to bring the unrulie to frame." Again, in Daniel's Verses on Montaigne :

extracts of men, “ Though in a troubled frame confus’dly set.” Again, in this play:

“Whose spirits toil in frame of villainies.” Steevens. It seems to me, that by frugal nature's frame, Leonato alludes to the particular formation of himself, or of Hero's mother, rather than to the universal system of things. Frame means here framing, as it does where Benedick says of John, that

spirits toil in frame of villainies.” Thus Richard says of Prince Edward, that he was

Fram'd in the prodigality of nature.” And, in All's well that ends well, the King says to Bertram:

“ Frank nature, rather curious than in haste,

“ Hath well compos'd thee.” But Leonato, dissatisfied with his own frame, was wont to complain of the frugality of nature. M. Mason.

The meaning, I think, is,-Grieved I at nature's being so frue gal as to have framed for me only one child? Malone.

7 Who smirched thus, &c.] Thus the quarto, 1600. The folio reads-smeared.” To smirch is to daub, to sully. So, in King Henry V: “Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch'd,” &c.

Steevens. 8 But mine, and mine I lov’d, and

mine I prais’d, And mine that I was proud on;] The sense requires that we should read, as in these three places. The reasoning of the speaker stands thus-Had this been my adopted child, her shame would not have rebounded on me. But this child was mine, as mine I loo'd her,

That I myself was to myself not mine,
Valuing of her; why, she-0, she is fallen
Into a pit of ink! that the wide sea
Hath drops too few to wash her clean again;9
And salt too little, which may season give
To her foul tainted flesh!1
Bene.

Sir, sir, be patient:
For my part, I am so attir'd in wonder,
I know not what to say.

Beat. O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!
Bene. Lady, were you her bedfellow last night?

Beat. No, truly, not; although until last night,
I have this twelvemonth been her bedfellow.

Leon. Confirm’d, confirm’d! O, that is stronger made,
Which was before barr'd up with ribs of iron!
Would the two princes lie? and Claudio lie?
Who lov'd her so, that, speaking of her foulness,
Wash'd it with tears? Hence from her; let her die.

Friar. Hear me a little;
For I have only been silent so long,
And given way unto this course of fortune,
By noting of the lady: I have mark'd
A thousand blushing apparitions start
Into her face; a thousand innocent shames
In angel whiteness bear away those blushes;
And in her eye there hath appear'd a fire,
To burn the errors2 that these princes hold

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praised her, was proud of her : consequently, as I claimed the glory, I must needs be subject to the shame, &c. Warburton.

Even of this small alteration there is no need. The speaker utters his emotion abruptly. But mine, and mine that I lood, &c. by an ellipsis frequent, perhaps too frequent, both in verse and prose. Johnson.

the wide sea Hath drops too few to wash her clean again;] The same thought is repeated in Macbeth:

“Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand ?” Steevens.

which may season give To her foul tainted flesh!] The same metaphor from the kitchen occurs in Twelfth Night:

all this to season “ A brother's dead love.” Steevens.

Against her maiden truth:

-Call me a fool;
Trust not my reading, nor my observations,
Which with experimental seal doth warrant
The tenour of my book ;3 trust not my age,
My reverence, calling, nor divinity,
If this sweet lady lie not guiltless here
Under some biting error.
Leon.

Friar it cannot be:
Thou seest, that all the grace that she hath left,
Is, that she will not add to her damnation
A sin of perjury; she not denies it:
Why seek'st thou then to cover with excuse
That which appears in

proper

nakedness? Friar. Lady, what man is he you are accus'd of?'

Hero. They know, that do accuse me; I know none: If I know more of any man alive, Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant, Let all my sins lack mercy - my father, Prove you that any man with me convers’d At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight Maintain'd the change of words with any creature, Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.

Friar. There is some strange misprision in the princes. Bene. Two of them have the very bent of honour;5

2 To burn the errors - ] The same idea occurs in Romeo and Juliet:

“ Transparent hereticks be burnt for liars.” Steevens. 3 — of my book ;] i. e. of what I have read. Malone. 4 Friar.

what man is he you are accus'd of?] The friar had just before boasted his great skill in fishing out the truth. And, indeed, he appears by tộis question to be no fool. He was by, all the while at the accusation, and heard no name mentioned. Why then should he ask her what man she was accused of? But in this lay the subtilty of his examination. For, had Hero been guilty, it was very probable that in that hurry and confusion of spirits, into which the terrible insult of her lover had thrown her, she would never have observed that the man's name was not mentioned; and so, on this question, have betrayed herself by naming the person she was conscious of an affair with. The Friar observed this, and so concluded that were she guilty, she would probably fall into the trap he laid for her.- I only take notice of this to show how admirably well Shakspeare knew how to sustain his characters. Warburton.

bent of honour;] Bent is used by our author for the utmost degree of any passion, or mental quality. In this play be

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And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
The practice of it lives in John the bastard,
Whose spirits toil in frame of villainies.

Leon. I know not; If they speak but truth of her,
These hands shall tear her; if they wrong her honour,
The proudest of them shall well hear of it.
Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine,
Nor age so eat up my invention,
Nor fortune made such havock of my means,
Nor my bad life reft me so much of friends,
But they shall find, awak’d in such a kind,
Both strength of limb, and policy of mind,
Ability in means, and choice of friends,
To quit me of them throughly.
Friar.

Pause a while,
And let my counsel sway you in this case.
Your daughter here the princes left for dead;6
Let her awhile be secretly kept in.
And publish it, that she is dead indeed:
Maintain a mourning ostentation ;?
And on your family's old monument
Hang mournful epitaphs, and do all rites
That appertain unto a burial.

Leon. What shall become of this? What will this do?

Friar. Marry, this, well carried, shall on her behalf Change slander toʻremorse; that is some good: But not for that, dream I on this strange course, But on this travail look for greater birth. She dying, as it must be so maintain'd,

fore, Benedick says of Beatrice, her affection has its full bent. The expression is derived from archery; the bow has its bent, when it is drawn as far as it can be. Fohnson. 6 Your daughter here the princes left for dead;] In former copies,

Your daughter here the princess (left for dead;) But how comes Hero to start up a princess here? We have no intimation of her father being a prince; and this is the first and only time she is complimented with this dignity. The remotion of a single letter, and of the parenthesis, will bring her to her own rank, and the place to its true meaning:

Your daughter here the princes left for dead; i, e. Don Pedro, prince of Arragon; and his bastard brother, whe is likewise called a prince.” Theobald.

7 ostentation ;] Show, appearance. Johnson,

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Upon the instant that she was accus'd,
Shall be lamented, pitied and excus’d,
Of every hearer: For it so falls out,
That what we have we prize not to the worth,
Whiles we enjoy it; but being lack'd and lost,
Why, then we rack the value;8 then we find
The virtue, that possession would not show us
Whiles it was ours:-So will it fare with Claudio:
When he shall hear she died upon his words,
The idea of her life shall sweetly creep
Into his study of imagination;
And every lovely organ of her life
Shall come apparelld in more precious habit,
More moving-delicate, and full of life,
Into the eye and prospect of his soul,
Than when she liv'd indeed :-- then shall he mourn,
(If ever love had interest in his liver?)
And wish he had not so accused her;
No, though he thought his accusation true.
Let this be so, and doubt not but success
Will fashion the event in better shape
Than I can lay it down in likelihood.
But if all aim but this be levell’d false,
The supposition of the lady's death
Will quench the wonder of her infamy:
And, if it sort not well, you may conceal her
(As best befits her wounded reputation)
In some reclusive and religious life,
Out of all eyes, tongues, minds, and injuries.

Bene. Signior Leonato, let the friar advise you :
And though, you know, my inwardness? and love

8

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-we rack the value ;] i. e. we exaggerate the value. The allusion is to rack-rents. The same kind of thought occurs in Antony and Cleopatra :

“What our contempts do often hurl from us,
“We wish it ours again.” Steevens.

died upon his words,] i. e. died by them. So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream :

“ To die upon the hand I love so well.” Steevens. 1 If ever love had interest in his liver,] The liver, in conformity to ancient supposition, is frequently mentioned by Shakspeare as the seat of love. Thus Pistol represents Falstaff as loving Mrs. Ford" with liver burning hot.” Steevens.

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