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Wilt thou reach stars, because they shine on thee?
Enter PROTEUS and LAUNCE.
And feed upon the shadow of perfection.]
“ Animum picturâ pascit inani.” Virg. Henley. 4 I fly not death, to fly his deadly doom:) To fly his doom, used for by flying, or in flying, is a Gallicism. The sense is, by avoiding the execution of his sentence I shall not escape death. If I stay here, I suffer myself to be destroyed; if I go away, I destroy myself. Johnson
Laun. So-ho! so-ho!
Laun. Him we go to find: there 's not a hairs on 's head, but 'tis a Valentine.
Val. My ears are stopp'd, and cannot hear good news, So much of bad already hath possess'd them.
Pro. Then in dumb silence will I bury mine,
Val. Is Silvia dead?
Val. No Valentine, indeed, for sacred Silvia!
Pro. No, Valentine.
Val. No Valentine, if Silvia have forsworn me! What is your news?
Laun. Sir, there's a proclamation that you are vanish’d.
Pro. That thou art banished; Oh! that 's the news; From hence, from Silvia, and from me, thy friend.
Val. Oh, I have fed upon this woe already,
Pro. Ay, ay; and she hath offer'd to the doom
- there's not a hair -] Launce is still quibbling. He is now running down the hare that he started when he entered.
Malone. 6 Whom-] Old copy-Who. Corrected in the second folio.
With them, upon her knees, her humble self;
Val. No more; unless the next word that thou speak’st
Pro. Cease to lament for that thou canst not help,
7 Even in the milk-white bosom of thy love.] So, in Hamlet:
6. These to her excellent white bosom," &c. Again, in Gascoigne's Adventures of Master F. 1. first edit. p. 206: “ - at deliuerie thereof, [i. e. of a letter) she understode not for what cause he thrust the same into her bosome.”
Trifling as the remark may appear, before the meaning of this address of letters to the busom of a mistress can be understood, it should be known, that women anciently had a pocket in the fore part of their stays, in which they not only carried love-letters and love tokens, but even their money and materials for needle work. Thus Chaucer, in his Marchantes Tale:
“ This purse hath she in hire bosome hid.” In many parts of England the rustic damsels still observe the same practice; and a very old lady informs me, that she remembers, when it was the fashion to wear prominent stays, it was no less the custom, for stratagem and gallantry, to drop its literary favours within the front of them. Steevens. See Lord Surrey's Sonnets, 1557.
“My song, thou shalt attain to find the pleasant place,
The time now serves not to expostulate:
Val. I pray thee, Launce, an if thou seest my boy, Bid him make haste, and meet me at the north-gate.
Pro. Go, sirrah, find him out. Come, Valentine. Val. O my dear Silvia! hapless Valentine.
[Exeunt VAL. and Pro. Laun. I am but a fool, look you; and yet I have the wit to think, my master is a kind of knave: but that 's all one, if he be but one knave.8 He lives not now, that
“ When she hath read, and seen the grief wherein I serve,
serve.” Malone. 8 Laun. I am but a fool, look you; and yet I have the wit to think, my master is a kind of knave: but that's all one, if he be but one KNAVE.] Where is the sense, or, if you won't allow the speaker that, where is the humour, of this speech? Nothing had given the fool'occasion to suspect that his master
was become double, like Antipholis in The Comedy of Errors. The last word is corrupt. We should read :
if he be but one KIND. He thought his master was a kind of knave; however, he keeps himself in countenance with this reflection, that if he was a knave but of one kind, he might pass well enough amongst his neighbours. This is truly humorous. Warburton.
This alteration is acute and specious, yet I know not whether, in Shakspeare's language, one knave may not signify a knave on only one occasion, a single knave. We still use a double villain for a villain beyond the common rate of guilt. Fohnson.
This passage has been altered, with little difference, by Dr. Warburton and Sir T. Hanmer.-Mr. Edwards explains it,“ if he only be a knave, if I myself be not found to be another." I agree with Dr. Johnson, and will support the old reading and his interpretation with indisputable authority. In the old play of Damon and Pythias, Aristippus declares of Carisophus: “ You lose money by him if you sell him for one knave, for he serves for twayne.”
This phraseology is often met with: Arragon says, in The Merchant of Venice :
“ With one fool's head I came to woo,
“ But I go away with two." Donne begins one of his sonnets:
“I am two fools, I know,
knows me to be in love: yet I am in love; but a team of horse shall not plucko that from me; nor who 'tis I love, and yet 'tis a woman: but that woman, I will not tell myself; and yet ’tis a milk-maid: yet tis not a maid, for she hath had gossips :1 yet ’tis a maid, for she is her master's maid, and serves for wages.
She hath more qualities than a water-spaniel, which is much in a bare christian. Here is the cat-log [Pulling out a paper] of her conditions.3 Imprimis, She can fetch and carry. Why, a horse can do no more; nay, a horse cannot fetch, but only carry; therefore, is she better than a jade. Item, She can milk; look you, a sweet virtue in a. maid with clean hands.
Enter SPEED. Speed. How now, signior Launce? what news with your mastership?
Laun. With my master's ship?" why, it is at sea.
And when Panurge cheats St. Nicholas of the chapel, which, he vowed to him in a storm, Rabelais calls him “ a rogue-a rogue and an half-Le gallant, gallant et demy." Farmer. Again, in Like Will to Like, quoth the Devil to the Collier, 1587:
« Thus thou may'st be called a knave in graine,
Steevens. a team of horse shall not pluck -] I see how Valentine suffers for telling his love-secrets; therefore, I will keep mine close. Johnson.
Perhaps Launce was not intended to shew so much sense; but here indulges himself in talking contradictory nonsense. Steevens.
- for she hath had gossips: ] Gossips not only signify those, who answer for a child in baptism, but the tattling women, who attend lyings-in. The quibble between these is evident. Steevens.
2 a bare christian,). Launce is quibbling on. Bare has two senses: mere and naked. In Coriolanus it is used in the first:
“ 'Tis but a bare petition of the state.” Launce uses it in both, and opposes the naked female to the water-spaniel, cover'd with hairs of remarkable thickness. Steevens.
her conditions.] i. e. qualities. The old copy has condi. tion. Corrected by Mr. Rowe. Malone, 4 With my master's ship.?] In former editions it is
With my mastership? why, it is at sea. For how does Launce mistake the word ? Speed asks him about ķis mastership, and he replies to it literatim. But then how was his mastership at sea, and on shore too? The addition of a letter