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Sir, believe this, I had rather give my body than my soul.
Avg. I talk not of your soul ; Our compelld sins Stand more for number than accompt'. IsaB.
How say you?
Please you to do't,
Ang. Pleas'd you to do't, at peril of your soul', Were equal poize of sin and charity.
IsaB. That I do beg his life, if it be sin, Heaven, let me bear it! you granting of my suit,
I had rather GIVE MY BODY than my soul.] Isabel, I believe, uses the words, “give my body,” in a different sense from that in which they had been employed by Angelo. She means, I think, “ I had rather die, than forfeit my eternal happiness by the prostitution of my person.” Malone.
She may mean—I had rather “ give up my body to imprisonment, than my soul to perdition.” Steevens. I–Our compell d sins
Stand more for number than accomPT.] Actions to which we are compelled, however numerous, are not imputed to us by heaven as crimes. If you cannot save your brother but by the loss of your chastity, it is not a voluntary but compelled sin, for which you cannot be accountable. Malone. The old copy reads
“Stand more for number than for accompt.” I have omitted the second for, which had been casually repeated by the compositor. Steevens.
Pleas d you to do't, at peril, &c.] The reasoning is thus : Angelo asks, whether there might “not be a charity in sin to save this brother.” Isabella answers, that “if Angelo will save him, she will stake her soul that it were charity, not sin." Angelo replies, that if Isabella would “save him at the hazard of her soul, it would be not indeed no sin, but a sin to which the charity would be equivalent." Johnson.
If that be sin, I'll make it my morn prayer
Nay, but hear me: Your sense pursues not mine: either you are igno
rant, Or seem so, craftily'; and that's not good.
Isab. Let me be ignorant *, and in nothing good, But graciously to know I am no better.
Ang. Thus wisdom wishes to appear most bright, When it doth tax itself: as these black masks Proclaim an enshield beautys ten times louder
. And nothing of your, answer.] I think it should be read
And nothing of yours, answer." You, and whatever is yours, be exempt from penalty. JOHNSON,
“And nothing of your answer," (as it stands in the old copy] means, and make no part of those sins for which you shall be called to answer.' STEEVENS. This passage
would be clear, I think, if it were pointed thus : « To have it added to the faults of mine,
“ And nothing of your, answer.” So that the substantive answer may be understood to be joined in construction with mine as well as your. The faults of mine answer are the faults which I am to answer for. TYRWHITT.
3 craftily;] The old copy reads-crafty. Corrected by Sir William D'Avenant. Malone.
4 Let me be ignorant,] Me is wanting in the original copy. The emendation was made by the editor of the second folio. MALONE.
5. Proclaim an ENSHIELD beauty -] An enshield beauty is a shielded beauty, a beauty covered or protected as with a shield.
STEEVENS. as these black masks Proclaim an enshield beauty,” &c.
This should be written ershelld, or in-shell'd, as it is in Coriolanus, Act IV. Sc. VI. :
“ Thrusts forth his horns again into the world
“ That were in-shelld when Marcius stood for Rome." These masks must mean, I think, the masks of the audience; however improperly a compliment to them is put into the mouth of Angelo. “As Shakspeare would hardly have been guilty of such an indecorum to flatter a common audience, I think this passage affords ground for supposing that the play was written to be acted at court. Some strokes of particular fattery to the King I have already pointed out; and there are several other general reflec
Than beauty could displayed.--But mark me;
Avg. And his offence is so, as it appears,
tions, in the character of the Duke especially, which seem calculated for the royal ear. TYRWHITT.
I do not think so well of the conjecture in the latter part of this note, as I did some years ago; and therefore I should wish to withdraw it. Not that I am inclined to adopt the idea of Mr. Ritson, as I see no ground for supposing that Isabella “ had any mask in her hand.” My notion at present is, that the phrase these black masks signifies nothing more than black masks ; according to an old idiom of our language, by which the demonstrative pronoun is put for the prepositive article. See the Glossary to Chaucer, edit. 1775 : This, Thise. Shakspeare seems to have used the same idiom not only in the passage quoted by Mr. Steevens from Romeo and Juliet, but also in King Henry IV. Part I. Act I. Sc. III:
“ — and, but for these vile guns,
“He would himself have been a soldier.” With respect to the former part of this note, though Mr. Ritson has told us that “enshield is CERTAINLY put by contraction for cnshielded," I have no objection to leaving my conjecture in its place, till some authority is produced for such an usage of enshield or enshielded. Tyrwhitt.
There are instances of a similar contraction or elision, in our author's plays. Thus, bloat for bloated, ballast for ballasted, and waft for wafted, with many others. Ritson.
Mr. Ritson is mistaken in his illustration by similar phraseology. Ballast is not ballasted, but balased. See vol, iv. p. 212; and bloat is found as a regular adjective in Cole's Dictionary. Malone.
Sir William D'Avenant reads—as a black mask; but I am afraid Mr. Tyrwhitt is too well supported in his first supposition, by a passage at the beginning of Romeo and Juliet :
“ These happy masks that kiss fair ladies' brows,
Steevens. 6 Accountant to the law upon that pain.] Pain is here for penalty, punishment. JOHNSON.
(As I subscribe not that“, nor any other,
7 As I subsCRIBE not that,] To subscribe means, to agree to. Milton uses the word in the same sense. So also, in Marlowe's Lust's Dominion, 1661 :
“ Subscribe to his desires." STEEVENS. 8 But in the loss of question,] The loss of question I do not well understand, and should rather read :
But in the toss of question.” In the agitation, in the discussion of the question. To toss an argument is a common phrase. Johnson.
This expression, I believe, means, but in idle supposition, or conversation that tends to nothing, which may therefore, in our author's language, be called the loss of question. Thus, in Coriolanus, Act III. Sc. I. :
“ The which shall turn you to no other harm,
“ Than so much loss of time.” Question, in Shakspeare, often bears this meaning. So, in his Tarquin and Lucrece:
* And after supper, long he questioned
“ With modest Lucrece,” &c. STEVENS. Question is used here, as in many other places, for conversation.
MALONE. 9 Of the ALL-BINDING law ;] The old editions read :
all-building law.” Johnson. The emendation is Theobald's. STEEVENS.
- or else let him suffer;] The old copy reads—" or else to let him,” &c. Sreevens.
Sir Thomas Hanmer reads more grammatically—“ or else let him suffer.” But our author is frequently inaccurate in the construction of his sentences. I have therefore adhered to the old copy “ You must be under the necessity” (to let, &c.] must be understood. So, in Holinshed's History of Scotland, p. 150 :
IsaB. As much for my poor brother, as myself: That is, Were I under the terms of death, The impression of keen whips I'd wear as rubies, And strip myself to death, as to a bed That longing I have been sick for, ere I'd yield My body up to shame. ANG.
Then must your brother die. IsaB. And 'twere the cheaper way: Better it were, a brother died at once", Than that a sister, by redeeming him, Should die for ever.
Ang. Were not you then as cruel as the sentence That you have slander'd so ?
Isab. Ignomy in ransom, and free pardon, Are of two houses : lawful mercy is Nothing akin * to foul redemption. Ang. You seem'd of late to make the law a
they were so fast, that a man might have removed the chamber over them, sooner than to have awaked them out of their drunken sleep." MALONE.
The old copy reads-supposed, not suppos d. The second to in the line might therefore be the compositor's accidental repetition of the first. Being unnecessary to sense, and injurious to measure, I have omitted it. The pages of the first edition of Holinshed will furnish examples of every blunder to which printed works are liable.
STEEVENS. 2 — a brother died at once,] Perhaps we should read :
“ Better it were, a brother died for once,” &c. Johnson. 3 IGNOMY in ransom,) So the word ignominy was formerly written. Thus, in Troilus and Cressida, Act V. Sc. III.:
“ Hence, brother lacquey ! ignomy and shame," &c. Reed. Sir William D'Avenant's alteration of these lines may prove a reasonably good comment on them :
Ignoble ransom no proportion bears
“ To pardon freely given.” MALONE. The second folio reads—ignominy; but whichsoever reading we take, the line will be'inharmonious, if not defective. Steevens.
• Nothing AKIN -] The old copy reads--kin. For this trivial emendation I am answerable. Steevens.