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Their smoothness, like a goodly champaign plain,
Poor women's faces are their own faults' books".
No man inveigh against the wither'd flower",
With men's abuses: those proud lords, to blame,
"Women! help Heaven! men their creation mar
- women's FACES are their own faults' BOOKS.] So, in Macbeth:
"Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men
Our author has advanced a contrary sentiment in another poem:
"The tricks and toys that in them lurk,
"The cock that treads them shall not know." MALONE.
6 No man INVEIGH against the wither'd flower,
But CHIDE-] Thus the quarto. All the other copies have inveighs and chides. MALONE.
70, let it not be HILD-] Thus the quarto, for the sake of the rhyme. Spenser, in imitation of the Italian poets, often takes the same liberty. See p. 189, n. 2. MAlone.
that they are so fulfill'd
With men's abuses;] Fulfilled had formerly the sense of filled. It is so used in our liturgy. MALONE.
Fulfilled means completely filled, till there be no room for more. The word, in this sense, is now obsolete. So, in the Prologue to Troilus and Cressida :
"And corresponsive and fulfilling bolts." STEEVENS.
The precedent whereof in Lucrece view,
That dying fear through all her body spread ;
By this, mild patience bid fair Lucrece speak
If thou dost weep for grief of my sustaining,
Know, gentle wench, it small avails my mood:
But tell me, girl, when went-(and there she stay'd
Myself was stirring ere the break of day,
But lady, if your maid may be so bold,
abuse a body dead?] So, in Romeo and Juliet:
66 to do some villainous shame
"On the dead bodies." STEEVENS.
To the poor COUNTERFEIT of her complaining:] To her maid, whose countenance exhibited an image of her mistress's grief. A counterfeit, in ancient language, signified a portrait. So, in The Merchant of Venice:
"What have we here? fair Portia's counterfeit?"
The repetition cannot make it less;
And that deep torture may be call'd a hell,
Go, get me hither paper, ink, and pen,-
Bid him with speed prepare to carry it:
The cause craves haste, and it will soon be writ..
Her maid is gone, and she prepares to write,
Much like a press of people at a door,
At last she thus begins: "Thou worthy lord
So I commend me from our house in grief3;
2 Much like a PRESS OF PEOPLE at a door,
THRONG her INVENTIONS, which shall go before.] So, in King John:
"-legions of strange fantasies,
"Which, in their throng and press to that last hold,
Again, in King Henry VIII. :
which forc'd such way,
"That many maz'd considerings did throng,
"And press in with this caution." MALONE.
3 So I commend me FROM OUR HOUSE IN GRIEF ;] Shakspeare
Here folds she up the tenour of her woe,
Lest he should hold it her own gross abuse,
Besides, the life and feeling of her passion
Of her disgrace, the better so to clear her
From that suspicion which the world might bear her.
To shun this blot, she would not blot the letter With words, till action might become them better.
To see sad sights moves more than hear them told1;
has here closely followed the practice of his own times. Thus, Anne Bullen concluding her pathetick letter to her savage murderer: "From my doleful prison in the Tower, this 6th of May."
So also Gascoigne the poet ends his address to the Youth of England, prefixed to his works: " From my poor house at Walthamstowe in the Forest, the second of February, 1575."
To see sad sights moves more than hear them told :]
Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus. Hor. Malone. 5 For then the eye INTERPRETS to the ear
The heavy MOTION that it doth behold,] Our author seems to have been thinking of those heavy motions called Dumb-shows, which were exhibited on the stage in his time. Motion, in old language, signifies a puppet-show; and the person who spoke for the puppets was called an interpreter. So, in Timon of Athens: to the dumbness of the gesture "One might interpret." MALONE.
Deep sounds make lesser noise than shallow fords", And sorrow ebbs, being blown with wind of words.
Her letter now is seal'd, and on it writ,
6 Deep SOUNDS make lesser noise than shallow fords,] Thus the quarto, 1594, and all the subsequent copies. The author probably wrote:
"Deep floods make lesser noise," &c.
Deep woes roll forward like a gentle flood." MALONE. The old reading is perhaps the true one. A sound, in naval language, is such a part of the sea as may be sounded. We have all heard of Plymouth sound, the depth of which is sufficient to carry vessels that draw the most water. The contradiction in terms is of little moment. We still talk of the back front of a house; and every ford, or sound, is comparatively deep. STEEVENS.
As a meaning may be extracted from the reading of the old copy, I have not disturbed it, though I suspect that Shakspeare wrote not sounds but floods, for these reasons:
1. Because there is scarce an English poet that has not compared real sorrow to a deep water, and loquacious and counterfeited grief to a bubbling shallow stream. The comparison is always between a river and a brook; nor have I observed the sea once mentioned in the various places in which this trite thought is expressed. Shakspeare, we see, has it in this very poem in a preceding passage, in which deep woes are compared to a gentle flood.
2. Because, supposing the poet to have had the sea in his contemplation, some reason ought to be assigned why he should have chosen those parts of it which are called sounds. To give force to the present sentiment, they must be supposed to be peculiarly still; whereas the truth I believe is, that all parts of the ocean are equally boisterous; at least those which are called sounds are not less so than others.
Lastly, because those parts of the sea which are denominated sounds, so far from deserving the epithet deep, are expressly defined to be "shallow seas; such as may be sounded." MALONE.
and on it writ,
At Ardea to my lord, WITH MORE THAN HASTE:] Shakspeare seems to have begun early to confound the customs of his own country, with those of other nations. About a century and a half ago, all our letters that required speed were superscribed-With post post haste. STEEVENS.