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“ Madam, for a twelvemonth's approbation,
« We mean to make the trial of our child."

MALONE. 273 -prone and speechless diale&t,] I can scarcely tell what signification to give to the word prone. Its primitive and translated senses are well known. The author may, by a prone dialect, mean a dialect which men are prone to regard, or a dialect natural and unforced, as those actions seem to which we are prone. Either of these interpretations are sufficiently strained; but such distortion of.words is not uncommon in our author. For the sake of an easier sense, we may read,

- In her youth
There is a pow'r, and speechless dialect,

Such as moves men.
Or thus :
There is a prompt and speechless dialect.

Prone, perhaps, may stand for humble, as a prone
posture is a posture of supplication.
So, in The Opportunity, by Shirley, 1640 :

“ You have prostrate language.
The same thought occurs in the Winter's Tale:

“ 'The silence often of pure innocence

“ Persuades, when speaking fails." Sir W. Davenant, in his alteration of the play, changes prone to sweet. I mention some of his variations, to shew that what appear difficulties to us,

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nean dat hich sut



were difficulties to him, who living nearer the time
of Shakspere, might be supposed to have understood
his language more intimately.

Prone is used here for prompt. So, in our author's
Rape of Lucrece, 1594 :
“O that prone lust should stain so pure a bed !"

MALONE. 279. under grievous imposition:] I once thought it should be inquisition, but the present reading is probably right. The crime would be under grievous penalties imposed.

JOHNSON. 281. lost at a game of tick-tack. -] Ticktack is a game at tables. Jeu au tric-trac is used in French, in a wanton sense.

MALONE, The same phrase, in Lucio's wanton sense, occurs in Lusty Juventus.

STEEVENS. 286. Believe not that the dribbling dart of love

Can pierce a complete bosom : -] Think not that a breast completely armed can be pierced by the dart of love, that comes fluttering without force.

JOHNSON. the life remov'd ;] i. c. a life of retire. ment, a life removed from the bustle of the world.

STEEVENS. 297. (A man of stricture, and firm abstinence)] Strico ture may easily be used for strictness; ure is indeed an old word, but, I think, always applied to things, never to persons.

JOHNSON. Sir W. Davenant, in his alteration of this play, reads, strictness.





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best poets.


305. (The needful bits and curbs for head-strong steeds)] In the copies,

The needful bits and curbs for head-strong weeds. There is no matter of analogy or consonance in the metaphors here: and, though the copies agree, I do not think the author would have talked of bits and curbs for weeds. On the other hand, nothing can be more proper, than to compare persons of unbridled licentiousness to head-strong steeds : and, in this view, bridling the passions has been a phrase adopted by our

THEOBALD. 306. Which for these nineteen years we have let.sleep. ;] In former editions,

Which for these fourteen years we have let slip.
For fourteen I have made no scruple to replace nineteen.
The reason will be obvious to him who recollects
what the Duke [Claudio] has said in a foregoing

I have altered the odd phrase of letling the
laws slip : for how does it sort with the comparison
that follows, of a lion in his cave that went not out to
prey? But letting the laws sleep, adds a particular
propriety to the thing represented, and accords ex-
actly too with the simile. It is the metaphor too
that our author seems fond of using upon this occa-
sion, in several other passages of this play:
The law hath not been dead, though it hath slept;

-'Tis now awake. And, so again :

-but this new governor Awakes me all the enrolled penalties ;




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-and for a name,
Now puts the drowsy and neglected act
Freshly on me.

THEOBALD. I once thought that the words let slip (which is the reading of the old copy, and I believe, right) related to the line immediately preceding--the needful bits and curbs, which we have suffered for so many years to hang loose. But it is clear from a passage in Twelfth Night that these words should be referred to laws, " which for these nineteen years we have suffered to pass unnoticedmunobserved;" for so the same phrase is used by Sir Andrew Aguecheek : Let him let the mata ter slip, and I'll give him my horse grey Capulet.” Again, in Marlow's Doctor Faustus, 1631 :

“ Shall I let slip so great an injury , " Again, in A Mad World my Masters, by Middleton,

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“ Well, things must slip and sleep-I will disa

Again, in The Spanish Tragedy, 1605:

My simplicity may make them think

“ That ignorantly I will let all slip." The two readings which Mr. Theobald has intro. duced into the text, he might have found in an alteration of this play, published in 1700, by Charles Gildon, under the title of Measure for Measure, or Beauty the best Advocate:

“ We have strict statutes and sharp penal laws, “ Which I have suffer'd nineteen years to sleep.'



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And he might have supported the latter by the fol. lowing passage in Hamlet :

-How stand I then,
66 That have a father killid, a mother stain'd,
« Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep."

MALONE. Mr. Malone, in a note on line 254, &c. supposed Lord Strafford to have adverted, in his defence, to that passage. It seems no less probable that he thought upon this, and if so, it is obvious that he understood sleep to be the original word. HENLEY.

Theobald's correction is misplaced. If any correction is really necessary, it should have been made where Claudio, in a foregoing scene, says nineteen years. I am disposed to take the Duke's words:

WHALLEY. A similar observation on this passage occurs in the Remarks.

312. Becomes more mock'd, than feard:-] Bee comes was added by Mr. Pope, to restore sense to the passage, some such word having been left out.

STBEVENS. 322. Sith -] i. e. since.

STEEVENS, 330. To do it slander : -] The text stood,

So do in slander..
Sir Thomas Hanmer has very well corrected it thus,

To do it slander.-
Yet perhaps less alteration might have produced the
true reading,


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