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But know I think, and think I know most sure,
King. Art thou so confident? Within what space
The greatest grace lending grace,
King. Upon thy certainty and confidence,
Tax of impudence,
I rather think that she means to say,-1 am not an impostor that proclaim one thing and design another, that proclaim a cure and aim at a fraud; I think what I speak. Johnson.
9 The greatest grace lending grace,] I should have thought the repetition of grace to have been superfluous, if the grace of grace had not occurred in the speech with which the tragedy of Macbeth concludes. Steevens.
The former grace in this passage, and the latter in Macbeth, evidently signify divine grace. Henley.
his sleepy lamp;] Old copy-her sleepy lamp. Corrected by Mr. Rowe. Malone.
a divulged shame,
With vilest torture let my life be ended.] I would bear (says she) the tax of impudence, which is the denotement of a strumpet; would enrlure a shame resulting from my failure in what I have undertaken, and thence become the subject of odious ballads; let my maiden reputation be otherwise branded; and, no worse of worst extended, i.e. provided nothing worse is offered to me, (meaning violation) let my life be ended with the worst of tortures. The poet, for the sake of rhyme, has obscured the sense of the passage. The worst that can befal a woman, being extended to me, seems to be the meaning of the last line. Steevens.
King. Methinks, in thee some blessed spirit doth speak; His powerful sound, within an organ weak :3 And what impossibility would slay In common sense, sense saves another way." Thy life is dear; for all, that life can rate Worth name of life, in thee hath estimate;5
Tax of impudence, that is, to be charged with having the bold. ness of a strumpet:-a divulged shame ; i. e. to be traduced by odious ballads: my maiden's name seared otherwise ; i. e. to be stigmatized as a prostitute:-no worse of worst extended; i. e. to be so defamed that nothing severer can be said against those who are most publickly reported to be infamous. Shakspeare has used the word sear and extended in The Winter's Tale, both in the same sense as above:
for calumny will sear “ Virtue itself!"And “ The report of her is extended more than can be thought."
Henley. The old copy reads, not no, but ne, probably an error for nay, or the. I would wish to read and point the latter part of the pas.
my maiden's name
With vilest torture, let my life be ended. i.e. Let me be otherwise branded ;--and (what is the worst of worst the consummation of misery) my body being extended on the rack by the most cruel torture, let my life pay the forfeit of my presumption. So, in Daniel's Cleopatra, 1594:
the worst of worst of ills.”
- If she be fat, then she is swollen, say,
“ If slender, leane, meagre and worne away,
“ If courtly, wanton, worst of worst before.” Malone. 3 Methinks, in thee some blessed spirit doth speak;
His powerful sound, within an organ weak:] The verb, doth speak, in the first line, should be understood to be repeated in the construction of the second, thus:
His powerful sound speaks within a weak organ. Heath. This, in my opinion, is a very just and happy explanation.
Steevens 4 And what impossibility would slay
In common sense, sense saves another way.) i.e. and that which, if I trusted to my reason, I should think impossible, I yet, perceiving thee to be actuated by some blessed spirit, think thee capable of effecting. Malone.
Youth, beauty, wisdom, courage,' virtue, all:6
Hel. If I break time, or flinch in property 8
King. Make thy demand.
But will you make it even? King. Ay, by my sceptre, and my hopes of heaven..
5- in thee hath estimate ;] May be counted among the gifts enjoyed by thee. Johnson.
6 Youth, beauty, wisdom, courage, virtue, all — ] The old copy omits virtue. It was supplied by Dr. Warburton, to remedy a defect in the measure. Steevens.
-prime-) Youth ; the spring or morning of life. Fohnson. Should we not read~pride?' Dr. Johnson explains prime to mean youth; and indeed'I do not see any other plausible interpretation that can be given of it. But how does that suit with the context ? “ You have all that is worth the name of life; youth, beauty, &c. all, That happiness and youth can happy call."--Happiness and pride may signify, I think, the pride of happiness; the proudest state of bappiness. So, in The Second Part of Henry IV, Act III, sc. i, the voice and echo, is put for the voice of echo, or, the echoing voice. Tyrwhitt.
I think, with Dr. Johnson, that prime is here used as a substantive, but that it means, that sprightly vigour which usually accompanies is in the prime of life. So, in Montaigne's Essaies, translated by Florio, 1603, B. II, ch. 6: “Many things seeme greater by imagination, than by effect. I have passed over a good part of my age in sound and perfect health. I say, not only sound, but blithe and wantonly-lustful. That state, full of lust, of prime and mirth, made me deeme the consideration of sick. nesses so yrksome, that when I came to the experience of them, I have found their fits but weak.” Malone.
in property -] In property seems to be here used, with much laxity, for—in the due performance. In a subsequent passage it seems to mean either a thing possessed, or a subject discrimi. nated by peculiar qualities :
“The property by what it is should go,
“ Not by the title.” Malone. 9 Ay, by my sceptre, and my hopes of heaven.] The old copy reads:
Hel. Then shalt thou give me, with thy kingly hand, What husband in thy power I will command: Exempted be from me the arrogance To choose from forth the royal blood of France; My low and humble name to propagate With any branch or image of thy state:1 But such a one, thy vassal, whom I know Is free for me to ask, thee to bestow.
King. Here is my hand; the premises observ'd, Thy will by my performance shall be serv'd; So make the choice of thy own time; for I, Thy resolv'd patient, on thee stiil rely. More should I question thee, and more I must; Though, more to know, could not be more to trust; From whence thou cam'st, how tended on. But rest Unquestion'd welcome, and undoubted blest. Give me some help here, ho!-If thou proceed As high as word, my deed shall match thy deed.
my hopes of help. Steevens. The King could have but a very slight hope of help from her, scarce enough to swear by: and therefore Helen might suspect he meant to equivocate with her. Besides, observe, the greatest part of the scene is strictly in rhyme: and there is no shadow of reason why it should be interrupted here. I rather imagine the poet wrote:
Ay, by my sceptre, and my hopes of heaven. Thirlby. 1 With any branch or image of thy state:] Shakspeare unquestionably wrote impage, grafting. Impe, a graft, or slip, or sucker: by which she means one of the sons of France. Caxton calls our Prince Arthur, that noble impe of fame. Warburton.
Image is surely the true reading, and may mean any representative of thine ; i. e. any one who resembles you as being related to your family, or as a prince reflects any part of your state and majesty. There is no such word as impage; and, as Mr. M. Mason observes, were such a one coined, it would mean nothing but the art of grafting. Mr. Henley adds, that branch refers to the collateral descendants of the royal blood, and image to the direct and immediate line. Steevens.
Our author again uses the word image in the same sense as here, in his Rape of Lucrece:
“O, from thy cheeks my image thou hast torn.” Malone. SCENE II.
Rousillon. A Room in the Countess's Palace.
Enter Countess and Clown. Count. Come on, sir; I shall now put you to the height of your breeding.
Člo. I will show myself highly fed, and lowly taught: I know my business is but to the court.
Count. To the court! why, what place make you special, when you put off that with such contempt? But to the court!
Clo. Truly, madam, if God have lent a man any manners, he may easily put it off at court: he that cannot make a leg, put off' 's cap, kiss his hand, and say no. thing, has neither leg, hands, lip, nor cap: and indeed such a fellow, to say precisely, were not for the court: but, for me, I have an answer will serve all men.
Count. Marry, that's a bountiful answer, that fits all questions.
Clo. It is like a barber's chair, that fits all buttocks;2 the pin-buttock, the quatch-buttock, the brawn-buttock, or any buttock.
Count. Will your answer serve fit to all questions?
Clo. As fit as ten groats is for the hand of an attorney, as your French crown for your taffata punk, as Tib's rush for Tom's fore-finger, as a pancake for Shrove
2 It is like a barber's chair, &c.] This expression is proverbial. See Ray's Proverbs, and Burton's Anat. of Melancholy, edit. 1632,
Again, in More Fools Yet, by R. S. a collection of Epigrams, 4to. 1610:
" Moreover sattin sutes he doth compare
Tib's rush, for Tom's fore-finger,] Tom is the man, and by Tib we are to understand the woman, and therefore, more properly we might read-Tom's rush for, &c. The allusion is to an ancient practice of marrying with a rush ring, as well in other countries as in England. Breval, in his Antiquities of Paris, mentions it as a kind of espousal used in France, by such persons as meant to live together in a state of concubi.