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Not by the title. She is young, wise, fair; '
would still be vileness, though we had no such name to distinguish it by. A similar expression occurs in Macbeth:
" Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,
“ Yet grace must still look so." That is, grace would still be grace, as vileness would still be vileness. M. Mason.
The meaning is,Good is good, independent on any worldly distinction or title : so vileness is vile, in whatever state it may appear. MALONE.
8 In these to nature she's immediate heir;] To be immediate heir is to inherit without any intervening transmitter : thus she inherits beauty immediately from nature, but honour is transmitted by ana cestors. JOHNSON. 2- that is konour's scorn, Which challenges itself as honour's born,
And is not like the fire:] Perhaps we might read more elegantlyas honour-born,“honourably descended : the child of honour.
MALONE. Honour's born, is the child of honour. Born is here used, as bairn still is in the North. Henley.
2 And is not like the fire: Honours best thrive, &c.] The first folio omits beft; but the second folio supplies it, as it is necessary to enforce the sense of the passage, and complete its measure.
STEEVENS. The modern editors read—Honours best thrive; in which they have followed the editor of the second folio, who introduced the word best unnecessarily; not observing that fire was used by our author, like fire, hour, &c. as a disfyllable. MALONE..
Where is an example of fire, used as a disfyllable, to be found ? Fire and hour were anciently written fier ard hower; and consequently the concurring vowels could be separated in pronunciation.
Of honour'd bones indeed. What should be said ?
Ber. I cannot love her, nor will strive to do't.
strive to choose. Hel. That you are well restor’d, my lord, I am glad; Let the rest go.
King. My honour's at the stake; which to defeat, I must produce my power: Here, take her hand, Proud scornful boy, unworthy this good gift; That dost in vile misprision shackle up My love, and her desert; that canst not dream, We, poizing us in her defective scale, Shall weigh thee to the beam;4 that wilt not know,
3 My honour's at the flake; which to defeat, '
I must produce my power :] The poor King of France is again made a man of Gotham, by our unmercisul editors. For he is not to make use of his authority to defeat, but to defend, his honour. THEOBALD.
Had Mr. Theobald been aware that the implication or clause of the sentence (as the grammarians say) served for the antecedent “ Which danger to defeat," there had been no need of his wit or his alteration. FARMER.
Notwithstanding Mr. Theobald's pert censure of former editors for retaining the word defeat, I should be glad to see it restored again, as I am persuaded it is the true reading. The French verb de faire (from whence our defeat) signifies to free, to dijembarrass, as well as to destroy, Defaire un næud, is to untie a knot; and in this sense, I apprehend, defeat is here used. It may be observed, tha. our verb undo has the same varieties of signification; and I suppose even Mr. Theobald would not have been much puzzled to find the sense of this passage, if it had been written; My honour's at the stake, which to undo I must produce my power.
TYRWHITT. 4 - - that canft not dream,
We, poizing us in her defective scale,
It is in us to plant thine honour, where
Ber. Pardon, my gracious lord; for I submit
Take her by the hand,
I take her hand.
if you and this maiden should be weighed together, and our royal favours should be thrown into her scale, (which you esteem so light,) we should make that in which you should be placed, to strike the beam. Malone.
s Into the staggers,] One species of the flaggers, or the horse's apoplexy, is a raging impatience which makes the animal dash himself with destructive violence against pofts or walls. To this the allusion, I suppose, is made. Johnson.
Shakspeare has the same expression in Cymbeline, where Posthumus says:
“ Whence come these flaggers on me?" Steevens,
Smile upon this contráct; whose ceremony
6- whose ceremony
Shall seem expedient on the now-born brief,
And be perform’d to-night:] Several of the modern editors read-new-born brief. Steevens.
This, if it be at all intelligible, is at least obfçure and inaccurate. Perhaps it was written thus :
Shall more attend The brief is the contract of fpoufal, or the licence of the church. The King means, What ceremony is necessary to make this contract a marriage, shall be immediately performed; the rest may be delayed. JOHNSON.
The only authentick ancient copy reads--now-born. I do not perceive that any change is necessary. MALONE.
The whole speech is unnaturally expressed; yet I think it intelligible as it stands, and should therefore reject Johnson's amendment and explanation.
The word brief does not here denote either a contract or a lice ice, but is an adjective, and means short or contracted: and the words on the now-born, signify for the present, in opposition to upon the coming Space, which means hereafter. The sense of the whole passage seems to be this:-“ The king and fortune smile on this contract; the ceremony of which it seems expedient to abridge for the present; the solemn feast shall be performed at a future time, when we shall be able to assemble friends.” M. Mason.
Though I have inserted the foregoing note, I do not profefs to comprehend its meaning fully. Shakspeare uses the words expedience, expedient, and expediently, in the sense of haste, quick, expeditiously. A brief, in ancient language, means any short and summary writing or proceeding. The now-born brief is only another phrase for the contrait recently and suddenly made. The ceremony of it (says the king) fhall seem to haften after its short preliminary, and be performed to-night, &c. Steevens.
Now-born, the epithet in the old copy, prefixed to brief, unquestionably ought to be restored. The now-born brief, is the breve originale of the feudal times, which, in this instance, formally notified the king's consent to the marriage of Bertram, his ward.
Shall more attend upon the coming space,
LAF. Your lord and master did well to make his recantation.
Par. Recantation ?-My lord? my master?
PAR. A most harsh one; and not to be understood without bloody succeeding. My master?
LAF. Are you companion to the count Rousillon? Par. To any count; to all counts; to what is man,
Laf. To what is count's man; count's master is of another style.
Par. You are too old, sir; let it satisfy you, you are too old.
Our author often uses brief in the sense of a short note, or in. timation concerning any business; and sometimes without the idea of writing. So, in the last Act of this play:
“ - she told me
" In a sweet verbal brief " &c. Again, in the Prologue to Sir John Oldcastle, 1600:
“ To stop which scruple, let this brief suffice:
“ It is no pamper'd glutton we present," &c. The meaning therefore of the present passage, I believe, is ;-Good fortune, and the king's favour smile on this short contract; the ceremonial part of which shall immediately pass, shall follow close on the troth now plighted between the parties, and be performed this night; the folemn featt Mall be delayed to a future time. MALONE,
7 The old copy has the following fingular continuation : Parolles and Lafeu stay behind, commenting of this wedding. This could have been only the marginal note of a prompter, and was never designed to appear in print. STEEVENS.
To comment means, I believe, to assume the appearance of persons deeply engaged in thought, MALONE,