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preposterousness of their designs, and the absurd pains they take to shew their duty. 470. “ The kinder we, to give them thanks for
This sentiment occurs, on a similar occasion, in Hamlet,“ the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.”
“ And what poor duty cannot do,
merit." “Might,” perhaps, implies labour, effort, attempt, and the meaning may be, Generosity accepts the endeavour for the worth of the performance: but the defective measure in the first line, and in the other the want of perspicuity, which none of the commentators has been able to supply, is an unquestionable evidence of corruption. I am inclined to think a rhyme has been lost, and that the couplet ran thus, at least this affords a meaning,
" And what poor duty cannot do aright,
“Respect takes it in merit, not in might." 483." — Well moused, lion.”
This, I apprehend, has no reference to mammocking, as Mr. Malone supposes, nor to mouth. ing, as Mr. M. Mason would have it, but simply to the action of the lion, in pouncing on the garment, as a cat would on a inouse-in Macbeth “ An eagle, towering in his pride of place, “ Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at, and kill'd."
MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.
ACT I. SCENE I.
27. “ My book of songs and sonnets."
Mr. Malone's gratuitous supposition that Lord Surrey's poems are here meant, reminds me of an old story in a jest book :-A student of Oxford shewing the Museum to some company, one of them enquired the history of an old rusty sword which was there. This, says the student, is the sword with which Balaam was just going to kill his ass. I never knew, said the stranger, that Balaam had any sword, but that he wished for one. You are right, replied the Oxonian, and this is the very sword he wished for.
37. “ Let me see thee froth, and lime."
This may be an allusion to the combustion in Bardolph's face, which the host calls froth and lime. The tricks, though practised, of frothing and liming the liquors, would not, probably, be thus openly acknowledged and uselessly proclaimed by the host.
ACT II. SCENE I. 70. “ A drawling, affecting rogue.”
We now say affected; perhaps less properly.
97. “ Mechanical salt-butter rogue.”
I cannot discover the signification of this latter epithet, unles it mean one who, pursuing a sordid economy, used salt butter instead of fresh.
" I will aggravate his style.” i. e. I will load his addition, extend his titles.
104. “ Monsieur Muck-water.”
Mock-water, the old reading, appears sufficiently intelligible; and preferable to Dr. Farmer's emendation, muck-water : the host seems to be sneering at the affected mystery or mockery in use with medical men, of inspecting the urine of their patients.
“ Monsieur Mock-water." I have sometimes thought, that, by mock-water, the host, availing himself, as Mr. Malone says, of the doctor's ignorance of English, means to call Doctor Caius a counterfeit, that is to insinuate that he is an empiric, and not a regular physician: the colour or complexion of a diamond is called its water, and a counterfeit stone may very well be said to have a mock-water, i. e. a false lustre; or the host may mean that, notwithstanding all Doctor Caius's vapouring, his courage is counterfeited: in the scene where Prince Henry acquaints Falstaff with the detection of his cowardice, Falstaff says, “ Dost thou hear, Hal, never call a true piece of gold a counterfeit.” The host's reply to the doctor's enquiring after the meaning of mock-water seems to countenance the latter explanation: I am not pleased with the emendation proposed by Dr. Farmermuck-water; still less do I like Mr. Malone's make water. tended the allusion Mr. Steevens supposes : it seems a natural and common expression of extravagant joy :-A similar sentiment occurs in Terence; Eunuch, Act 3, Scene 5. 16
ACT III. SCENE III.
128. “ I see how thine eye would emulate the
diamond.” Mr. Mason has used this expression in his Elfrida.
" Whose brightest eye
“ But emulates the diamond's blaze." 127. “ Why now let me die, for I have liv'd
long enough.” I see no profaneness nor indecency in this passage, and do not believe that Shakspeare in
- Proh Jupiter ! “Nunc tempus profecto est cum perpeti me
possum interfici “Ne hoc gaudium contaminet vita ægritudine aliqua."
LORD CHEDWORTH. Lord Chedworth might have added, from our immediate poet, other instances in favour of his argument; as in Othello"
-- If it were now to die, " "Twere now to be most happy; for I fear “ My soul hath her content so absolute, “ That not another comfort like to this “ Succeeds in unknown fate.”
And in Macbeth
" Had I but died an hour before this chance,
. “I have liv'd long enough.”
· 152. “ Ford's wife's distraction.”
Mr. M. Mason would read direction, but surely without advantage: the device was Mrs. Page's, while Mrs. Ford's apparent confusion could suggest no better means of escape.