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As o'er-died blacks, as wind, as waters; false
Affection! thy intention stabs the center*:
9 As o'er-died blacks,] Sir T. Hanmer understands blacks died too much, and therefore rotten. JOHNSON.
It is common with tradesmen to die their faded or damaged stuffs, black. O'er-died black may mean those which have received a die over their former colour.
There is a passage in The old Law of Massinger, which might lead us to offer another interpretation:
Blacks are often such dissembling mourners,
It seems that blacks was the common term for mourning. So, in A mad World my Masters, 1608:
in so many blacks
"I'll have the church hung round-."
Black, however, will receive no other hue without discovering itself through it: "Lanarum nigræ nullum colorem bibunt." Plin. Nat. Hist. Lib. VIII. STEEVENS. The following passage in a book which our author had certainly read, inclines me to believe that the last is the true interpretation.
Truly (quoth Camillo) my wool was blacke, and therefore it would take no other colour." Lyly's Euphues and his England, 4to. 1580. MALONE.
1 NO BOURN] Bourn is boundary. So, in Hamlet: from whose bourn
"No traveller returns-."
welkin-eye :] Blue-eye; an eye of the same colour with the welkin, or sky. JOHNSON.
my COLLOP!] So, in The First Part of King Henry VI.: God knows, thou art a collop of my flesh." STEEVens. It is given as a proverbial phrase in Heywood's Epigrams, 1566, Sig. C. iv.:
"For I have heard saie it is a deere collup,
"That is cut out of th' owne fleshe." BosWELL. 4 Affection! thy intention stabs the center:]
Instead of this
Thou dost make possible, things not so held 3, Communicat'st with dreams;- (How can this
With what's unreal thou coactive art,
(And that beyond commission; and I find it,) And that to the infection of my brains,
And hardening of my brows.
line, which I find in the folio, the modern editors have introduced another of no authority:
Imagination! thou dost stab to the center."
Mr. Rowe first made the exchange. I am not sure that I understand the reading I have restored. Affection, however, I believe, signifies imagination. Thus, in The Merchant of Venice:
"Mistress of passion, sways it," &c.
Intention is, as Mr. reat earnestness, and
i. e. imagination governs our passions. Locke expresses it, when the mind with of choice, fixes its view on any idea, considers it on every side, and will not be called off by the ordinary solicitations of other ideas." This vehemence of the mind seems to be what affects Leontes so deeply, or in Shakspeare's language," stabs him to the center." STEEVENS.
Intention, in this passage, means eagerness of attention, or of desire; and is used in the same sense in The Merry Wives of Windsor, where Falstaff says" She did so course o'er my exteriors with such a greedy intention," &c. M. MASON.
I think, with Mr. Steevens, that affection means here imagination, or perhaps more accurately: "the disposition of the mind when strongly affected or possessed by a particular idea." And in a kindred sense at least to this, it is used in the passage quoted from The Merchant of Venice. MALONE.
5 Thou dost make possible, things not so held,] i. e. thou dost make those things possible, which are conceived to be impossible. JOHNSON.
To express the speaker's meaning, it is necessary to make a short pause after the word possible. I have therefore put a comma there, though perhaps in strictness it is improper. MALONE.
- credent,] i. e. credible. So, in Measure for Measure, Act V. Sc. V.:
66 For my authority bears a credent bulk." STEEVENS.
What means Sicilia ?
As if you held a brow of much distraction:
How like, methought, I then was to this kernel,
7 What cheer? how is't with you, best brother?] This line, which in the old copy is given to Leontes, has been attributed to Polixenes, on the suggestion of Mr. Steevens. Sir T. Hanmer had made the same emendation. MALONE.
8 Are you Mov'D, my lord?] We have again the same expression on the same occasion, in Othello:
Iago. I see my Lord, you are mov'd.
"Othel. No, not much mov'd, not much." MALone.
my dagger мUZzzled,
Lest it should bite-] So, in King Henry VIII.:
Again, in Much Ado about Nothing : "I am trusted with a muzzle." STEEVENS.
1 AS ORNAMENTS oft do, too DANGEROUS.] So, in The Merchant of Venice:
"Thus ornament is but the guiled shore
"To a most dangerous sea." STEEVENS.
2 This SQUASH,] A squash is a pea-pod, in that state when the young peas begin to swell in it. HENLEY.
3 Will you take eggs for money?] This seems to be a pro
MAM. No, my lord, I'll fight.
LEON. You will? why, happy man be his dole1!— My brother,
verbial expression, used when a man sees himself wronged and makes no resistance. Its original, or precise meaning, I cannot find, but I believe it means, will you be a cuckold for hire. The cuckow is reported to lay her eggs in another bird's nest; he therefore that has eggs laid in his nest is said to be cucullatus, cuckowed, or cuckold. JOHNSON.
The meaning of this is, will you put up affronts ?' The French have a proverbial saying, A qui vendes vous coquilles? i. e. whom do you design to affront? Mamillius's answer plainly "Mam. No, my Lord, I'll fight." SMITH.
I meet with Shakspeare's phrase in a comedy, call'd A Match at Midnight, 1633 :-" I shall have eggs for my money; I must hang myself." STEEVENS.
Leontes seems only to ask his son if he would fly from an enemy. In the following passage the phrase is evidently to be taken in that sense: "The French infantery skirmisheth bravely afarre off, and cavallery gives a furious onset at the first charge; but after the first heat they will take eggs for their money." Relations of the most famous Kingdomes and Commonwealths thorowout the World, 4to. 1630, p. 154.
Mamillius's reply to his father's question appears so decisive as to the true explanation of this passage, that it leaves no doubt with me even after I have read the following note. The phrase undoubtedly sometimes means what Mr. Malone asserts, but not here. REED.
In A Method for Travell. Shewed by taking the view of France as it stoode in the yeere of our Lord 1593, by Robert Dallington, no date, we meet with the very sentence quoted by Mr. Reed, given as a translation from the French. This is the original: "L'infanterie Francoise escaramouche bravement de loin et la Cavellerie a une furieuse brutée a l'affront, puis apres q'elle s'accomode."
BOSWELL. This phrase seems to me to have meant originally,— Are such a poltron as to suffer another to use you as he pleases, to compel you to give him your money, and to accept of a thing of so small a value as a few eggs in exchange for it?' This explanation appears to me perfectly consistent with the passage quoted by Mr. Reed. He, who will take eggs for money, seems to be what, in As You Like It, and in many of the old plays, is called a tame snake.
The following passage in Campion's History of Ireland, folio,
Are you so fond of your young prince, as we
1633, fully confirms my explanation of this passage; and shows that by the words-"Will you take eggs for money,' was meant, Will you suffer yourself to be cajoled, or imposed upon?'"What my cousin Desmond hath compassed, as I know not, so I beshrew his naked heart for holding out so long. But go to, suppose hee never be had; what is Kildare to blame for it, more than my good brother of Ossory, who, notwithstanding his high promises, having also the king's power, is glad to take eggs for his money, and to bring him in at leisure."
These words make part of the defence of the Earl of Kildare, in answer to a charge brought against him by Cardinal Wolsey, that he had not been sufficiently active in endeavouring to take the Earl of Desmond, then in rebellion. In this passage "to take eggs for his money," undoubtedly means to be trifled with, or to be imposed upon.' “Will you
means in the place of money.'
give me money, and take eggs instead of it?" MALONE.
happy man be his DOLE!] May his dole or share in life be to be a happy man. JOHNSON.
The expression is proverbial. Dole was the term for the allowance of provision given to the poor, in great families. So, in Greene's Tu Quoque, 1614:
"Had the women puddings to their dole?"
See vol. v. p. 389, n. 8. STEEvens.
The alms immemorially given to the poor by the Archbishops of Canterbury, is still called the dole. See The History of Lambeth Palace, p. 31, in Bibl. Top. Brit. NICHOLS.