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Pol. By whom, Camillo?
By the king
best blood turn
Swear his thought over By each particular star in heaven,' and
So, in King Henry VI, P. I!
“ Him that thou magnifiest with all these titles,
Stinking and fly-blown lies there at our feet.” Malone. 7 To vice you to 't,] i. e. to draw, persuade you. The character called the Vice, in the old plays, was the tempter to evil.
Warburton. The vice is an instrument well known; its operation is to hold things together So, the Bailiff speaking of Falstaff: “If he come but within my vice,” &c. A vice, however, in the age of Shakspeare, might mean any kind of clock-work or machinery. So, in Holinshed, p 245: “ the rood of Borleie in Kent, call. ed the rood of grace, made with diverse vices to moove the eyes and lips,” &c. It may, indeed, be no more than a corruption of “ to advise you.” So, in the old metrical romance of Syr Guy of Warwick, bl. I. no date:
« Then said the emperour Ernis,
“Methinketh thou sayest a good vyce.". But my first attempt at explanation is, I believe, the best.
Steevens did betray the best;] Perhaps Judas. The word best is spelt with a capital letter thus, Best, in the first folio.
Henderson. 9 Swear his thought over
By each particular star in heaven, &c.] The transposition of a single letter reconciles this passage to good sense. Polixenes, in the preceding speech, had been laying the deepest imprecations on himself, if he had ever abused Leontes in any familiarity with his Queen. To which Camillo very pertinently replies:
Swear this though over, &c. Theobald.
By all their influences, you may as well
How should this grow?
be safer Than one condemn’d by the king's own mouth, thereon
Swear his thought over, may perhaps mean, overswear his pre* sent persuasion, that is, endeavour to overcome his opinion, by swearing oaths numerous as the stars. Fohnson.
It may mean: Though you should endeavour to swear away his jealousy,—though you should strive, by your oaths, to change his present thoughts.”—The vulgar still use a similar expression: “ To swear a person down." Malone.
This appears to me little better than nonsense; nor have either Malone or Johnson explained it into sense. I think, therefore, that Theobald's amendment is necessary and well imagined.
M. Mason Perhaps the construction is—“Over-swear his thought,”-i.e. strive to bear down, or overpower, his conception hy oaths.-In our author we have weigh out for outweigh, overcome for come over, &c. and overswear for swear over, in Twelfth Night, Act V.
Steevens. - you may as well Forbid the sea for to obey the moon,] We meet with the same sentiment in The Merchant of Venice:
“ You may as well go stand upon the beach,
whose foundation Is pild upon his faith,] This folly which is erected on the foundation of settled belief. Steevens.
His execution sworn.
I do believe thee:
3 I saw his heart in his face.] So, in Macbeth:
“ To find the inind's construction in the face.” Steevens.
and thy places shall Still neighbour inine :] Perhaps Shakspeare wrote" And thy paces shall,” &c. Thou shalt be my conductor, and we will both pursue the same path. --The old reading, however, may meanwherever thou art, I will still be near thee. Malone.
By places, our author means-preferments, or honours. Steevens. 5 Good expedition be my friend, and comfort
The gracious queen, part of his theme, but nothing
Of his ill-ta'en suspicion'] But how could this expedition comfort the Queen? on the contrary, it would increase her husband's suspicion. We should read:
and comfort The gracious queen's; i.e. be expedition my friend, and be comfort the queen's friend.
Warburton. Dr. Warburton's conjecture is, I think, just; but what shall be done with the following words, of which I can make nothing? Perhaps the line which connected them to the rest is lost;
Of his ill-ta'en suspicion ! Jealousy is a passion compounded of love and suspicion; this passion is the theme or subject of the King's thoughts. Polixenes, perhaps, wishes the Queen, for her comfort, so much of that theme or subject as is good, but deprecates that which causes misery. May part of the King's present sentiments comfort the Queen, but away with his suspicion. This is such meaning as can be picked out. Johnson.
I will respect thee as a father, if
Cam. It is in mine authority, to command
ACT II.....SCENE I.
Enter HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, and Ladies.
Come, my gracious lord.
No, I'll none of you. 1 Lady. Why, my sweet lord ?
Mam. You 'll kiss me hard; and speak to me as if I were a baby still.- I love you better.
2 Lady. And why so, my good lord ?6 Mam.
Not for because Your brows are blacker; yet black brows, they say, Become some women best; so that there be not
Perhaps the sense is—May that good speed which is my friend, comfort likewise the Queen who is part of its theme, i. e. partly on whose account I go away; but may not the same comfort extend itself to the groundless suspicions of the King; i.e. may not my departure support him in them! His for its is common with Shakspeare: and Paulina says, in a subsequent scene, that she does not choose to appear a friend to Leontes, in comforting his evils, i. e. in strengthening bis jealousy by appearing to acquiesce in it.
Steevens. Comfort is, I apprehend, here used as a verb. Good expedition befriend me, by removing me from a place of danger, and comfort the innocent Queen, by removing the object of her husband's jealousy; the Queen, who is the subject of his conversation, but without reason the object of his suspicion !--We meet with a similar phraseology in Twelfth Night: “Do me this courteous office, as to know of the knight, what my offence to him is; it is something of my negligence, nothing of my purpose. Malone.
my good lord?) The epithet-good, which is wanting in the old copies, is transplanted (for the sake of metre) from a redundant speech in the following page. Steevens.
Too much hair there, but in a semi-circle,
Who taught you this??
Blue, my lord. Mam. Nay, that 's a mock: I have seen a lady's nose That has been blue, but not her eye-brows.
2 Lady. The queen, your mother, rounds apace: we shall Present our services to a fine new prince, One of these days; and then you 'd wanton with us, If we would have you. 1 Lady.
She is spread of late Into a goodly-bulk: Good time encounter her!
Her. What wisdom stirs amongst you? Come, sir,
I am for you again: Pray you, sit by us,
Merry, or sad, shall 't be?
A sad tale 's best for winter. 8
Let's have that, sir.9
Mam. There was a man,
Nay, come, sit down; then on. Mam. Dwelt by a church-yard ;-- I will tell it softly;
7 Who taught you this?] You, which is not in the old copy, was added by Mr. Rowe. Malone.
8 A sad tale 's best for winter:] Hence, I suppose, the title of the play. Tyrwhitt.
This supposition may seem to be countenanced by our author's 98th Sonnet:
“ Yet not the lays of birds, &c.
“ Could make me any Summer's story tell." And yet I cannot help regarding the words for winter (which spoil the measure) as a playhouse interpolation. All children delight in telling dismal stories; but why should a dismal story be best for winter? Steevens.
9 Let's have that, sir.] The old copy redundantly reads-good. sir. Steevens.