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On his bow-back he hath a battle set
Being mov'd, he strikes what e'er is in his way,
His brawny sides, with hairy bristles arm’d,
The thorny brambles and embracing bushes,
Alas, he nought esteems that face of thine,
But having thee at vantage, (wond'rous dread !)
i On his bow-back he hath a battle set
Of bristly pikes, that ever threat his foes ;
His eyes, like glow-worms, shine when he doth fret;] In this description Shakspeare had perhaps in view that given by Ovid of the Calydonian boar, slain by Meleager. See Golding's translation, book viii. :
“ His eyes did glister blood and fire; right dreadful was to see “ His brawned back ; right dreadful was his haire, which grew
as thicke “ With pricking points as one of them could well by other
sticke : “And, like a front of armed pikes set close in battel ray, “ The sturdie bristles on his back stood staring up alway."
Malone. 2 The thorny brambles and embracing bushes,
As fearful of him, part; through whom he rushes.] Thus Virgil describing the rapid passage of two centaurs through the woods :
- dat euntibus ingens
0, let him keep his loathsome cabin still ';
Didst thou not mark my face? Was it not white ?
For where love reigns, disturbing jealousy
Distemp’ring gentle love in his desire,
This sour informer, this bate-breeding? spy,
3 — his loathsome Cabin still ;] Cabin, in the age of Queen Elizabeth, signified a small mean dwelling place, and was much in use. The term still is used universally through Ireland, where the word cottage is scarcely ever employed. MALONE.
4 Come not within his danger -] This was a common expression in Shakspeare's time, and seems to have meant, Expose not yourself to one who has the power to do you mischief. See vol. v. p. 120, n. 2. Malone.
s And in a peaceful hour doth cry, KILL, KILL;] So, in King Lear:
“And when I have stolen upon these sons-in-law,
“ Then kill, kill, kill.” STEEVENS. 6 - In his desire - So the original copy 1593, and the 16mo. 1596. In the edition of 1600, we find with his desire.
Malone. 7 — bate-breeding -] So, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Mrs. Quickly observes that John Rugby is “no tell-tale, no
This carry-tale”, dissensious jealousy,
bring, · Knocks at my heart, and whispers in mine ear,
That if I love thee, I thy death should fear:
And more than so, presenteth to mine eye
Whose blood upon the fresh flowers being shed,
What should I do, seeing thee so indeed, That trembleo at the imagination ? breed-bate.” Bate is an obsolete word signifying strife, contention. Steevens.
8 — love's tender spring,] I once thought that love's tender spring meant, printemps d'amour. So, in The Rape of Lucrece:
“Unruly blasts wait on the tender spring.” Again, in the present poem : i
“ Love's gentle spring doth always fresh remain ," But I am now of opinion that spring is used here, as in other places, for a young shoot or plant, or rather, the tender bud of growing love. So, in The Comedy of Errors : "Even in the spring of love, thy love-springs rot."
MALONE. “ This canker, that eats up love's tender spring.” So, in Romeo and Juliet :
“Full soon the canker death eats up that plant.” 9 This CARRY-TALE,] So, in Love's Labour's Lost :
“ Some carry-tale, some please-man,” &c. STEEVENS. That sometime true news, sometime false doth bring,] Tam ficti pravique tenax quam nuntia veri. Virg.
STEEVENS. · Doth make them droOP-] So the quarto 1593, and the editions of 1596 and 1600. The modern editions have-drop.
Malone, 3 Thąt TREMBLE -) So the original copy, 1593. The edition of 1596 has-trembling. Malone.
The thought of it doth make my faint heart bleed,
I prophesy thy death, my living sorrow,
But if thou needs wilt hunt, be ruld by me :
Pursue these fearful creatures o'er the downs,
And when thou hast on foot the purblind hare, Mark the poor wretch, to overshut his troubles", How he out-runs the wind, and with what care He cranks? and crosses with a thousand doubles :
4 And fear doth teach it divination :] So, in King Henry IV. Part II.:
“Tell thou thy earl, his divination lies.” Steevens.
"'o God! I have an ill divining soul;
“ As one dead in the bottom of a tomb." MALONE. s But if thou needs wilt hunt, be rul'd by me :
Uncouple at the timorous flying hare,] So, in The Sheepheard's Song of Venus and Adonis, by H. C. 1600 :
“ Speake, sayd she, no more
“ If thou wilt yield Venus grace." Malone. 6-to OVERSHUT his troubles,] I would read overshoot, i, e. Ay beyond. STEEVENS.
To shut up, in Shakspeare's age, signified to conclude. I believe therefore the text is right. MALONE.
? He CRANKS -] i. e. he winds. So, in Coriolanus, the belly says :
“ I send it through the rivers of your blood,
The many musits through the which he goes,
Sometime he runs among a flock of sheep,
And sometime sorteth with a herd of deer';
For there his smell with others being mingled,
Then do they spend their mouths : Echo replies,
Again, more appositely, in King Henry IV. Part I. :
“See, how this river comes me cranking in—," Malone. & The many MUSITs through the which he goes,] Musits are said by the lexicographers to be the places through which the hare goes for relief. The modern editions read umfits.
“ Three things," says the author of the Choice of Change, 1585, “are hard to be found :
“ A hare without a muse ;
“ A whore without a skuse." Coles, in his English Dictionary, 1677, renders “the muse of a hare," by “ Arctus leporis per super transitus ; leporis lacuna.” So, in Ram Alley, 1611:
- we can find
9 – keep,] i. e. dwell. This word, which was formerly common in this sense, is now almost obsolete. It is still, however, commonly used at Oxford and Cambridge, Malone.
And sometime sortery with a herd of deer;] Sorteth means accompanies, consorts with. Sort anciently signified a troop, or company. See vol. v. p. 260, n. 8. Malone.