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304. “ Cold obstruction.”
i. e. I suppose, the state of the body when the circulation of the vital fluids is stopped. 305. “ The weariest and most loathed worldly
life, “ That ache, age, penury, imprisonment, “ Can lay on nature, were a parudise
“ To what we fear of death." This sentiment, perhaps too natural, and which the force of Dr. Johnson's virtue was not hardy enough to resist, has, by the robuster mind of Milton, been properly ascribed, in Paradise Lost, to the fallen and depraved archangel : "
Who would lose, .“ Tho’ full of pain, this intellectual being, “ Those thoughts that wander thro' eternity, * To perish rather, swallow'd-up and lost “ In the wide womb of uncreated night,
" Devoid of sense or motion. 311. “ Refer yourself to this advantage.”
i. e. Direct your attention to it. 312. "The corrupt deputy scaled.”
Dr. Johnson's explanation of “ scaled,” by to scale, i. e. (as he says) to reach him, notwithstanding the elevation of his place, will hardly, I fear, be thought satisfactory : if the author had used the metaphor of the scalade, he would at the same time, I think, have applied to the deputy an epithet different from corrupt, and suitable to his image : it would have been the towering deputy, the high-plac'd deputy. By the connexion of
think, have calade, he would
ideas, natural in discourse, there is, perhaps, a reference here to physical or animal corruption.The success of the stratagem, says the Duke, will be a medicine, by which the inward and concealed baseness of this deputy will be brought forth, and diffused about him in disgraceful scales and scrophula. An image similar to this presents itself in King Richard III.
- Diffus'd infection of a man."
317. “That we were all, as some would seem to
be, “ Free from our faults, as faults from
seeming, free." The transposition inade by Sir Thomas Hanmer, and approved by Mr. Steevens, would at least be blameless, if sense were wanting in the original text: but, perhaps, there is no such defect; and, if I am not nistaking, the thought is not only altered, but impaired by the change. 0! exclaims the Duke, that we were, as some men would seem to be, as free from faults, as faults themselves (which every man perceives, and knows the sin of committing) are, from seeming allowable, innocent, or free. The twisting and jingling the word free, occasions the obscurity, but the sentiment is admirable, and finely in character with the speaker.
"Free,” for innocent, blameless, occurs in The Winter's Tale, Act 2:
“L o A gracious, innocent soul,
“More free than he is jealous.” VOL. I.
To extirp it.” This unusual verb is not, I believe, to be found any where else in these works. 324.“ – - Much detected for women.”
I can by no means admit, with Mr. Malone, that detected stands for suspected; and the instances produced from the Old Tales, will not, I fear, support him :-whose daughter was detected of dishonesty, and generally so reported. Detected is, indeed, used here, in the same sense as that to which the Duke applies it ; for he who is “ generally reported to be dishonest,” is already more than suspected: but the meaning, in both cases, is, I believe, not suspected, but accused, charged, appeached. Thus in a translation of The Annales of Tacitus, by Greenwey, 1622 :-“A notable example, that a free'd woman should defend, in such great crueltie of torture, strangers, and almost unknown to her, whenas men, and free-born, and gentlemen of Rome, and senators, not touched with tortures, detected the dearest of their kindred.”
328. “ Sparrows must not build in his house
eaves, because they are lecherous.” Bickerstaff has made a whimsical use of this conceit in the Hypocrite; where it is said of Dr. Cantwell, that “ he used to make the maids lock up the turkey cocks every Saturday night, for fear they should gallant with the hens of a Sunday.” 331. “ There is scarce truth enough alive to
make societies secure; but security enough to make fellowships accursed.” The obscurity in this passage arises from the jingle and double meaning of " security :” in the first instance it implies " safety, protection; in the second, confidence, implicit trust. 334. “ How may likeness made in crimes,
“ Making practice on the times,” &c. How may a specious appearance, framed in villany, making practice, i. e. working deceitfully on the times, &c. Instances are not wanting of this use of the word practice, as in King Lear: "
This act persuades me, “ That this remotion of the duke and her, “ Is practice only.”
ACT IV. SCENE I. 341. “ My most stay."
The adverb, thus taking the station of an adjective, has already been remarked as uncouth phraseology.
SCENE II. 353. “
Happily, “You something know ;“ Happily” for “ haply" occurs in other places, as in The Taming of the Shrew, Act 4, Scene 4:
" And happily we might be interrupted.” 356. “ Insensible of mortality, and desperately mortal.”
I believe the meaning is free from the common and natural abhorrence of death, and prepared for a state of annihilation.
367. “What if we do omit.”
The disorder of the metre in many parts of this play appears to be incorrigible ; but sometimes, as here, it is easily repaired by dismissing a useless' word:
“ Just of his colour, what if we omit
“ This reprobate till he were well inclin'd.” They must omit him, (or the hanging him) a great while before the prisoner would be well inclined to submit :--but “inclined” here means “ disposed” or “prepared” for death, by religious exercises. 368. “ I am your free dependant." i. e. Your willing servant.”
Makes me unpregnant, “ And dull to all proceedings.”
“ Makes me unpregnant,” means, I believe, dispossesses me of my clear judgment. Hamlet uses the word in a similar sense :
But I, “A dull and muddy-metled rascal, peak “ Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause, “ And can say nothing."