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LOVE'S LABOUR'S LOST.
With all these, living in philosophy.] The stile of the rhyming scenes in this play is often entangled and obscure. I know not certainly to what all these is to be referred; I suppose he means, that he finds love, pomp, and wealth in philosophy. JOHNSON
2 When I to feast expressly am forbid;] The copies all have,
When I to fast expressly am forbid. But if Biron studied where to get a good dinner, at a time when he was forbid to fast, how was this studying to know what he was forbid to know? Common sense, and the whole tenour of the context require us to read, feast, or to make a change in the last word of the verse.
When I to fast expressly am fore-bid; i.e. when I am enjoined before-hand to fast.
3 To seek the light of truth; while truth the while
Doth falsely blind- ] Falsely is here, and in many other places, the same as dishonestly or treacherously. The whole sense of this gingling declamation is only this, that a man ly too close study may read himself blind, which might have been told with less obscurity in fewer words. JOHNSON.
4 Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding.) To proceed is an academical term, meaning, to take a degree, as he proceeded lachelor in physick. The sense is, he has taken his degrees on the art of hindering the degrees of others.
JOHNSON. SA dangerous law against gentility!) I have ventured to prefix the name of Biron to this line, it being evident, for two reasons, that it, by some accident or other, slipt out of the printed books. In the first place, Longaville confesses, he had devis'd the penalty: and why he should immediately arraign it as a dangerous law, seems to be very inconsistent. In the next place, it is much more natural for Biron to make this reflexion, who is cavilling at every thing: and then for him to pursue his reading over the remaining articles.-As to the word gentility, here, it does not signify that rank of people called, gentry; but what the French express by, gentilesse, i. e. elegantia, urbanitas. And then the meaning is this. Such a law for banishing women from the court, is dangerous, or injurious, to politeness, urbanity, and the more refined pleasures of life. For men without women would turn brutal, and savage, in their natures and behaviour.
6 Not by might master'd, but ly special grace.) Biron, amidst his extravagancies, speaks with great
justness against the folly of vows. They are made without sufficient regard to the variations of life, and are therefore broken by some unforeseen necessity. They proceed commonly from a presumptuous confidence, and a false estimate of human power.
JOHNSON. 1 - Tharborough:] i.e. a Third lorough; a peaceofficer, alike in authority with a headborough or a constable.
SIR J. HAWKINS. 8 dear imp - ] Imp was anciently a term of dignity. Lord Cromwell, in his last letter to Hen. VIII. prays for the imp his son. It is now used only in contempt or abhorrence; perhaps in our author's time, it was ambiguous, in which state it suits well with this dialogue.
JOHNSON crosses love not him.] By crosses he means money.
10 -the dancing-horse will tell you.] Banks's horse, which play'd many remarkable pranks. Sir Walter Raleigh (History of the World, first part, p. 178) says, “ If Banks had lived in older times, he “ would have shamed all the inchanters in the world: “ for whosoever was most famous among them, could “ never master, or instruct any beast as he did his “ horse.” And sir Kenelm Digby (a Treatise of Bodies, chap. 38. page 393.) observes, “ That his horse “ would restore a glove to the due owner, after the “master had whispered the man's name in his ear; “ would tell the just number of pence in any piece “ of silver coin, newly shewed him by his master;
“ and even obey presently his command, in discharg
ing himself of his excrements, whensoever he had “ bade him.”
DR. GRAY. Banks's horse is alluded to by many writers contemporary with Shakespeare; among the rest, by B. Jonson, in Every Man out of his Humour.
“ He keeps more ado with this monster, than ever Banks did with his horse."
-and not demands,
-and not demands
To have his title live in Aquitain. I have restored, I believe, the genuine sense of the passage. Aquitain was pledged, it seems, to Navarre's father, for 200,000 crowns. The French king pretends to have paid one moiety of this debt, (which Navarre knows nothing of,) but demands this moiety back again: instead whereof (says Navarre) he should rather pay the remaining moiety, and demand to have Aquitain re-delivered up to him. This is plain and easy reasoning upon the fact suppos'd; and Navarre declares, he had rather receive the residue of bis debt, than detain the province mortgaged for security of it.
THEOBALD. 12 God's blessing on your beard!] That is, mayst thou have sense and seriousness more proportionate to thy beard, the length of which suits ill with such idle catches of wit.
JOHNSON. 13 My lips are no common, though several they be.] Several is an inclosed field of a private proprietor, so Maria says, her lips are private property. Of a lord that was newly married one observed that he grew fat; Yes, said sir Walter Raleigh, any beast will grow fat, if you take him from the common and graze
him in the several.
JOHNSON. 14 Concolinel- .] Here is apparently a song lost.
JOHNSON. I have observed in the old comedies, that the songs are frequently omitted. On this occasion the stage direction is generally —Here they sing-or-Can. tant. Probably the performer was left to chuse bis own ditty, and therefore it could not with propriety he exhibited as part of a new performance. Sometimes yet more was left to the discretion of the ancient comedians, as I learn from the following circumstance in K. Edward IV. 2d. p. 1019,—" Jockey “is led whipping over the stage, speaking some " words, but of no importance." STEEVENS.
a French brawl.] Brawl here and canary afterwards, are two dances.
16 like a man after the old painting;] it was a common trick, among some of the most indolent of the ancient masters, to place the hands in the bosom or the pockets, or conceal them in some other part of the drapery, to avoid the labour of representing them, · or to disguise their own inability.
17 The hobby-horse is forgot.] In the celebration of May-day, besides the sports now used of hanging a pole with garlands, and dancing round it, formerly