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Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion;
And, for I am richer than to hang by the walls 5,
I must be ripp'd:-to pieces with me!-0,
Men's vows are women's traitors! All good seeming,
By thy revolt, O husband, shall be thought

Put on for villainy; not born, where't grows.;
But worn, a bait for ladies.


Good madam, hear me

Imo. True honest men being heard, like false


Were, in his time, thought false: and Sinon's weeping Did scandal many a holy tear: took pity

From most true wretchedness: So, thou, Posthumus, Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men 6;

Goodly, and gallant, shall be false and perjur'd, From thy great fail.—Come, fellow, be thou honest:

5 That is to be hung up as useless among the neglected contents of a wardrobe. So in Measure for Measure :

That have, like unscour'd armour, hung by the wall.' Clothes were not formerly, as at present, made of slight materials, were not kept in drawers, or given away as soon as lapse of time or change of fashion had impaired their value. On the contrary, they were hung up on wooden pegs, in a room appropriated to the sole purpose of receiving them; and though such cast off things as were composed of rich substances were occasionally ripped for domestic uses, articles of inferior quality were suffered to hang by the walls till age and moths had destroyed what pride would not permit to be worn by servants or poor relations:

'Comitem horridulum tritâ donare lacerna,' seems not to have been customary among our ancestors. When Queen Elizabeth died, she was found to have left above three thousand dresses behind her. Steevens once saw one of these repositories at an ancient mansion in Suffolk, which (thanks to a succession of old maids!) had been preserved with superstitious reverence for almost a century and a half.


Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men.'


The leaven is, in Scripture phraseology, the whole wickedness of our sinful nature.' See 1 Corinthians, v. 6, 7, 8. failure, Posthumus, will lay falsehood to the charge of men without guile make all suspected.

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Do thou thy master's bidding: when thou seest him,
A little witness my obedience: Look!
I draw the sword myself: take it; and hit
The innocent mansion of my love, my heart:
Fear not: 'tis empty of all things, but grief:
Thy master is not there; who was, indeed,
The riches of it: Do his bidding; strike.
Thou may'st be valiant in a better cause;
But now thou seem'st a coward.


Hence, vile instrument!

Thou shalt not damn my hand.


Why, I must die;

And if I do not by thy hand, thou art

No servant of thy master's: Against self-slaughter There is a prohibition so divine,

That cravens my weak hand'. Come, here's my heart;

Something's afore't:-Soft, soft; we'll no defence; Obedient as the scabbard. -What is here?


The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus,

All turn'd to heresy? Away, away,

Corrupters of my faith! you shall no more

Be stomachers to my heart! Thus may poor


Believe false teachers: Though those that are be


Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor
Stands in worse case of woe.

And thou, Posthumus, thou that didst set up
My disobedience 'gainst the king my father,

And make me put into contempt the suits

7 That makes me afraid to put an end to my own life.' Hamlet exclaims :

O that the Everlasting had not fix'd

His canon 'gainst self slaughter.'

8 Shakspeare here means Leonatus's letters, but there is an opposition intended between scripture, in its common signification, and heresy.

Of princely fellows, shalt hereafter find
It is no act of common passage, but
A strain of rareness: and I grieve myself,
To think, when thou shalt be disedg'd by her
That now thou tir'st 10 on, how thy memory
Will then be pang'd by me.-Pr'ythee, despatch:
The lamb entreats the butcher: Where's thy knife?
Thou art too slow to do thy master's bidding,
When I desire it too.


O gracious lady,

Since I receiv'd command to do this business,
I have not slept one wink.

Wherefore then

Imo. Do't, and to bed then. Pis. I'll wake mine eyeballs blind first11. Imo. Didst undertake it? Why hast thou abus'd So many miles with a pretence? this place? Mine action, and thine own? our horses' labour? The time inviting thee? the perturb'd court, For my being absent; whereunto I never Purpose return? Why hast thou gone so far, To be unbent 12, when thou hast ta'en thy stand, The elected deer before thee?

9 Fellows for equals; those of the same princely rank with myself.


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when thou shalt be disedg'd by her

That now thou tir'st on.'

It is probable that the first, as well as the last, of these metaphorical expressions is from falconry. A bird of prey may be said to be disedged when the keenness of its appetite is taken away by tiring, or feeding, upon some object given to it for that purpose. Thus in Hamlet:

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Oph. You are keen, my lord, you are keen.

Ham. It would cost you a groaning to take off mine edge.'

11 Blind, which is not in the old copy, was supplied by Hanmer.

12 To have thy bow unbent, alluding to a hunter. So in one of Shakspeare's poems in The Passionate Pilgrim, 1599:— When as thine eye hath chose the dame

And stall'd the deer that thou shouldst strike.'


But to win time

To lose so bad employment: in the which
I have consider'd of a course; Good lady,
Hear me with patience.

Talk thy tongue weary; speak:
I have heard, I am a strumpet: and mine ear,
Therein false struck, can take no greater wound,
Nor tent to bottom that. But speak.

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'But if I were as wise as honest, then

My purpose would prove well. It cannot be,

But that my master is abus'd:

Some villain, ay, and singular in his art,

Hath done you both this cursed injury.

Imo. Some Roman courtezan.


No, on my life

I'll give but notice you are dead, and send him
Some bloody sign of it; for 'tis commanded

I should do so: You shall be miss'd at court,
And that will well confirm it.


Why, good fellow, What shall I do the while? Where bide? How live? Or in my life what comfort, when I am

Dead to my husband?


If you'll back to the court,

Imo. No court, no father; nor no more ado With that harsh, noble, simple, nothing 13: That Cloten, whose love-suit hath been to me As fearful as a siege.

13 This line requires some word of two syllables to complete

the measure. Steevens proposed to read :

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With that harsh, noble, simple, nothing, Cloten ;
That Cloten,' &c.


If not at court,

Then not in Britain must you bide.

Where then?
Hath Britain all the sun that shines 14? Day, night,
Are they not but in Britain? I'the world's volume
Our Britain seems as of it, but not in it;

In a great pool, a swan's nest; Pr’ythee, think
There's livers out of Britain.

I am most glad
You think of other place. The embassador
Lucius the Roman, comes to Milford Haven
To-morrow: Now, if you could wear a mind
Dark as your fortune is 15; and but disguise
That, which, to appear itself, must not yet be,
But by self-danger; you should tread a course
Pretty, and full of view 16: yea, haply, near
The residence of Posthumus: so nigh, at least,
That though his actions were not visible, yet
Report should render him hourly to your ear,
As truly as he moves.

O, for such means!
Though peril to my modesty, not death on't,
I would adventure.


Well then, here's the point:

You must forget to be a woman; change

14 The poet may have had in his mind a passage in Lyly's Euphues, which he has imitated in King Richard II. See it in a note on that play, vol. v. p. 27.

15 To wear a dark mind is to carry a mind impenetrable to the search of others. Darkness, applied to the mind, is secrecy; applied to the fortune, is obscurity. The next lines are obscure. You must (says Pisanio) disguise that greatness which, to appear hereafter in its proper form, cannot yet appear without great danger to itself.'

16 Full of view appears to mean of ample prospect, affording a complete view of circumstances which it is your interest to know. Thus in Pericles, Full of face' appears to signify amply beautiful:' and Duncan assures Banquo that he will labour to make him full of growing,' i. e. of ample growth.'

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