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Unless you have the grace- -] That is, the accept

Line 433. ableness, the power of gaining favour. So when she makes her suit, the provost says,

Heaven give thee moving graces.


Line 434.

Of business

of my message.

See also Hamlet:

"And enterprises of great pith and moment." Line 437. Has censured him,] i. e. sentenced him.



-] The inmost part, the main JOHNSON.

-owe them.] i. e. Own or possess them.


Line 2. -to fear the birds of prey,] To fear is to affright, to terrify. So in The Merchant of Venice,

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"-this aspect of mine

"Hath fear'd the valiant."


Line 7. Than fall, and bruise to death.] Shakspeare has used the same expression in the Comedy of Errors:

-as easy may'st thou fall

"A drop of water.


Line 10. Let but your honour know,] To know is here to examine, to take cognizance. So in Midsummer-Night's Dream, Therefore, fair Hermia, question your desires; Know of your truth, examine well your blood.


Line 26. 'Tis very pregnant,] 'Tis plain that we must act with bad as with good; we punish the faults, as we take the advantages, that lie in our way, and what we do not see we cannot note. JOHNSON.

Line 32. For I have had- -] That is, because, by reason that I have had faults. JOHNSON.

Line 45. Some rise, &c.] This line is in the first folio printed in Italics as a quotation. All the folios read in the next line, Some run from brakes of ice, and answer none.

JOHNSON. The old reading is perhaps the true one, and may mean, some

run away from danger, and stay to answer none of their faults, whilst others are condemned only on account of a single frailty.


Mr. Tollet's opinion of "brakes of vice" is, that it simply means, the paths of vice, and not an engine of torture, so called, invented by the duke of Exeter and Suffolk, in the time of Henry VI. Line 64. This comes off well;] This is nimbly spoken; this is volubly uttered. JOHNSON. Line 69. -A tapster, Sir; parcel bawd;] This we should now express by saying, he is half-tapster, half-bawd. JOHNSON. She professes a hot-house,] A hot-house is an

Line 72.

English name for a bagnio.

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Where lately harbour'd many a famous whore,
A purging-bill now fix'd upon the door,

Tells you it is a hot-house; so it may,
And still be a whore-house. Ben Jonson.

JOHNSON. Line 90. Ay, Sir, by mistress Over-done's means:] Here seems to have been some mention made of Froth, who was to be accused, and some words therefore may have been lost, unless the irregularity of the narrative may be better imputed to the ignorance of the constable. JOHNSON. Line 97. stew'd prunes;] Stewed prunes were the standing dishes of bawdy-houses.

. Line 136.

-lower chair,] i. e. Easy chair.


I'll be supposed- -] i. e. I'll be sworn or deposed. 183. Justice, or Iniquity?] These were, I suppose, two personages well known to the audience by their frequent appearance in the old moralities. The words therefore, at that time, produced a combination of ideas, which they have now lost.

JOHNSON. Line 188. Hannibal!] Mistaken by the constable for Cannibal. JOHNSON.


they will draw you,] Draw has here a cluster of senses. As it refers to the tapster, it signifies to drain, to empty; as it is related to hang, it means to be conveyed to execution on a hurdle. In Froth's answer, it is the same as to bring along by some motive or power. JOHNSON. Line 227. greatest thing about you;] It appears from


Strutt's Manners of the People, and Holinshed, that it was the fashion in Elizabeth's time, to wear "breyches well boulstered up " and wyde."

Line 252. I'll rent the fairest house in it, after three pence a bay:] A bay of building is, in many parts of England, a common term, of which the best conception that I could ever attain, is, that it is the space between the main beams of the roof; so that a barn crossed twice with beams is a barn of three bays. JOHNSON.


Line 335. Stay a little while.] It is not clear why the provost is bidden to stay, nor when he goes out. JOHNSON.

Line 343.

For which I must not plead, but that I am At war, 'twixt will and will not.] This is obscure perhaps it may be mended by reading,

For which I must now plead; but yet I am
At war, 'twixt will and will not,

Yet and yt are almost undistinguishable in a manuscript. Yet no alteration is necessary, since the speech is not unintelligible as it now stands. JOHNSON. -touch'd with that remorse,] Remorse here sig

Line 372.

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nifies pity.

Line 394. all the souls that were,] This is false divinity. We should read, are. WARBURTON. Line 399. And mercy then will breathe within your lips,

Like man new made.] This is a fine thought, and finely expressed. The meaning is, that mercy will add such a grace to your person, that you will appear as amiable as a man come fresh out of the hands of his Creator. WARBURTON.

I rather think the meaning is, You would then change the severity of your present character. In familiar speech, You would be quite another man.


Line 420.

-like a prophet,

Looks in a glass,] This alludes to the fopperies of the berril, much used at that time by cheats and fortune-tellers to predict by. WARBURTON.

Line 426.

-shew some pity.

Ang. I shew it most of all, when I shew justice;

For then I pity those I do not know,] This was one of Hale's memorials. When I find myself swayed to mercy, let me remember, that there is a mercy likewise due to the country. JOHNSON. Line 441. pelting,] i. e. Paltry.

446. ―gnarled oak,] Gnarre is the old English word for a knot in wood. STEEVENS.

Line 452. As make the angels weep;] The notion of angels weeping for the sins of men is rabbinical.—Ob peccatum flentes angelos inducunt Hebræorum magistri.-Grotius ad Lucam.


Line 452.

who, with our spleens,

Would all themselves laugh mortal.] Shakspeare meant by spleens, that peculiar turn of the human mind, that always inclines it to a spiteful, unseasonable mirth. Had the angels that, says Shakspeare, they would laugh themselves out of their immortality, by indulging a passion which does not deserve that prerogative. The ancients thought, that immoderate laughter was caused by the bigness of the spleen. WARBURTON,

Line 457. We cannot weigh our brother with ourself:] We mortals proud and foolish cannot prevail on our passions to weigh or compare our brother, a being of like nature and like frailty, with ourself. We have different names and different judgments for the same faults committed by persons of different condition.


Line 467. That skins the vice o' the top ] So in Hamlet : "It will but skin and film the ulcerous place."

474. that my sense breeds with it.] My sense breeds with her sense, that is, new thoughts are stirring in my mind, new conceptions are hatched in my imagination. So we say to brood over thought. JOHNSON.

Perhaps Angelo means," she speaks so elegantly, and forcibly, "that my sense (i. e. sensual desires) begins to hold unlawful "sway."

Line 485.

-fond shekels] Fond, i. e. foolish, or con


Line 485. tested gold,] i. e. Attested, or marked with the standard stamp.


Rather cupelled, brought to the test, refined.


Line 489. preserved souls,] i. e. Preserved from the corruption of the world. The metaphor is taken from fruits preserved in sugar. WARBURTON.

Line 497. I am that way going to temptation,

Where prayers cross.] Isabella prays that his honour may be safe, meaning only to give him his title: his imagination is caught by the word honour: he feels that his honour is in danger, and therefore, I believe, answers thus :

I am that way going to temptation,
Which your prayers cross.

That is, I am tempted to lose that honour of which thou implorest the preservation. The temptation under which I labour is that which thou hast unknowingly thwarted with thy prayer. He uses the same mode of language a few lines lower.


parting, says,

Save your honour!
Angelo catches the word-Save it! From what?
From thee; even from thy virtue !—
-it is I,

That lying, by the violet, in the sun, &c.] I am not corrupted by her, but by my own heart, which excites foul desires under the same benign influences that exalt her purity, as the carrion grows putrid by those beams which increase the fragrance of the violet. JOHNSON.

Line 506.


Line 509. Can it be,

That modesty may more betray our sense, &c.] Sense, here, evidently bears the same meaning as that above stated.

Line 530. I smil'd and wonder'd how.] As a day must now intervene between this conference of Isabella with Angelo and the next, the act might more properly end here; and here, in my opinion, it was ended by the poet. JOHNSON.


Line 543. Who falling in the flames of her own youth, Hath blister'd her report:] Who doth not see that the integrity of the metaphor requires we should read, -flames of her own youth, as is now read, instead of flaws?


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