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deceived, would suffer him to escape in so slight a disguise. Act IV. SCENE vii. (iv. iii. 12-13.) They must COME off
To come off, signifies in our authour, sometimes to be uttered with spirit and volubility. In this place it seems to mean what is in our time expressed by to come down, to pay liberally and readily. These accidental and colloquial senses are the disgrace of language, and the plague of commentators. Act IV. SCENE X. (iv. v. 130.) Good bearts.
The great fault of this play is the frequency of expressions so profane, that no necessity of preserving character can justify them. There are laws of higherauthority than those of criticism.
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.
Act. I. SCENE iv. (1. i. 166.)
Redime te captum quam queas minimo. Our author had this line from Lilly, which I mention, that it may not be brought as an argument of his learning. ACT II. SCENE vi. (11. i. 331-2.)
GREMIO. Youngling! thou canst not love so dear as I.
The fire of love in youthful blood,
But for a moment burns-
It glows, and with a sullen heat,
And though the flame be not so great
ret is the heat as strong. Act V. SCENE iv. (v. ii. 54.)
PETRUCHIO. A good swift Simile. Swift, besides the original sense of speedy in motion, signified witty, quick-witted. So in As you like it, the Duke says of the clown, He is very swift and sententious. Quick is now used in almost the same sense, as nimble was in the age after that of our authour. Heylin says of Hales, that he had known Laud for a nimble disputant.
From this play the Tatler formed a story, Vol. 4.
It cannot but seem strange that Shakespeare should be so little known to the authour of the Tatler, that he should suffer this Story to be obtruded upon him, or so little known to the Publick, that he could hope to make it pass upon his readers as a novel narrative of a transaction in Lincolnshire ; yet it is apparent, that he was deceived, or intended to deceive, that he knew not himself whence the story was taken, or hoped that he might rob so obscure a writer without detection.
Of this play the two plots are so well united, that they can hardly be called two without injury to the art with which they are interwoven.
The attention is entertained with all the variety of a double plot, yet is not distracted by unconnected incidents.
The part between Catharine and Petruchio is eminently spritely and diverting. At the marriage of Bianca the arrival of the real father, perhaps, produces more perplexity than pleasure. The whole play is very-popular and diverting.
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS
Act III. SCENE Ü. (ur. ii. 63-4.)
When he calls the girl his only heaven on earth, he utters the common cant of lovers. When he calls her his heaven's claim, I cannot understand him. Perhaps he means that which he asks of heaven.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. Act I. SCENE i. (1. i. 67.) Four of his five wils.
In our authour's time wit was the general term for intellectual powers. So Davies on the Soul,
Wit, seeking truth from cause to cause ascends,
And never rests till it the first attain ;
But never stays till it the last do gain.
But if a phrenzy do possess the brain,
As fantasy proves altogether vain,
Then doth the wit, admitting all for true,
Don JOHN. I cannot bide what I am. This is one of our authour's natural touches. An envious and unsocial mind, too proud to give pleasure, and too sullen to receive it, always endeavours to hide
its malignity from the world and from itself, under the plainness of simple honesty, or the dignity of haughty independence. Act II. SCENE V. (11. i. 332-4.) Thus goes every one to the world but I, and I am sunburni.
What is it, to go to the world ? perhaps, to enter by marriage into a settled state : but why is the unmarried Lady sunburnt ? I believe we should read, thus goes every one to the wood but I, and I am sunburnt. Thus does every one but I find a shelter, and I am left exposed to wind and sun. The nearest way to the wood, is a phrase for the readiest means to any end. It is said of a woman, who accepts a worse match than those which she had refused, that she has passed through the wood, and at last taken a crooked stick. But conjectural criticism has always something to abate its confidence. Shakespeare, in All's well that ends well, uses the phrase, to go to the world, for marriage. So that my emendation depends only on the opposition of wood to sun-burnt.
ACT III. SCENE iv. (111. iii. 43-4.)
DOGBERRY. Have a care that your Bills be not stolen. A bill is still carried by the watchmen at Lichfield. It was the old weapon of the English infantry, which, says Temple, gave the most ghastly and deplorable wounds. It may be called securis falcata. Act IV. SCENE Ï. (iv. i. 251–2.) LEONATO. Being that I flow in grief,
The smallest twine may This is one of our authour's observations upon life. Men over-powered with distress eagerly listen to the first offers of relief, close with every scheme, and believe every promise. He that has no longer any
confidence in himself, is glad to repose his trust in any other that will undertake to guide him.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL. Act I. SCENE i. (1. i. 49-52.)
W bere an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, ibere commendations wib pity, ibey are virtues and traitors 100 ; in ber they are obe better for their simpleness.
Estimable and useful qualities, joined with evil dis-
So like a Courtier, no Contempı or Bitterness
His Equal bad awak'd them.
Wbo were below him
In their poor praise be bumbled.
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