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King. Methinks, in thee some blessed spirit doth
speak; His powerful sound, within an organ weak ? :
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. “ Tax of impudence,” that is, to be charged with having the boldness of a strumpet :-“ a divulged shame ;" i. e. to be traduced by odious ballads :-“my maiden's name's 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 passage thus : “
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 courtly, wanton, worst of worst before.” MALONE. I cannot think that justice has been done to the purity of Helena's sentiment. I explain it thus : Let me be stigmatized as a strumpet, and in addition (although that would not be worse, or a more extended evil than what I have mentioned, the loss of
And what impossibility would slay
my honour, which is the worst that could happen), let me die with torture. Ne is nor. BosweLL. 3 Methinks, in thee some blessed spirit doth speak;
His POWERFUL SOUND, within an organ weak :7 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 away.] 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.
is — 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. 7 — prime —] Youth; the spring or morning of life.
Johnson. 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 happiness. 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 us in the prime of life. So, in Montaigne's Essaies, translated by Florio, 1603, b. ii. c. 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 sicknesses
Thou this to hazard, needs must intimate
Hel. If I break time, or flinch in property 8
King. Make thy demand.
But will you make it even ?
so yrksoine, that when I came to the experience of them, I have found their fits but weak.” MALONE. So, in Hamlet;
“A violet in the youth of primy nature.” Boswell. 8 — 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 discriminated 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 :
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. The rhyme fully supports this change. MALONE.
It may be right for that reason; but Thirlby's objection to the old text is unfounded. The King had expressed the strongest confidence in her help. Boswell.
. My low and humble name to propagate
King. Here is my hand; the premises observ'd,
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.
i With any BRANCH or image of thy state:] Shakspeare unquestionably wrote impage, grafting. Impe, a graff, 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.
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.
Clo. 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 nothing, 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 ? ; 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,
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, p. 666.
Again, in More Fooles Yet, by R. S. a collection of Epigrams, 4to. 1610:
" Moreover sattin sutes he doth compare
“ As for a knight or worthy gentleman.” Steevens.