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Love's Labour's Lost


I.i.31 (342,2)

[To love, to wealth, to pomp, I pine and die;
With all these, living in philosophy]

The stile of the rhyming scenes in this play is often entangled and obscure. I know not certainly to what all these is to be referred; I suppose he means, that he finds love, pomp, and wealth in philosophy.

I.i.75 (344,4) [while truth the while Doth falsly blind] Falsly is here, and in many other places, the same as dishonestly or treacherously. The whole sense of this gingling declamation is only this, that a man by too close study may read himself blind, which might have been told with less obscurity in fewer words.

I.i.82 (344,5)

[Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed, And give him light, that it was blinded by]

This is another passage unnecessarily obscure: the meaning is, that when he dazzles, that is, has his eye made weak, by fixing his eye upon a fairer eye, that fairer eye shall be his heed, his direction or lode-star,(See Midsummer-Night's Dream) [and give him light that was blinded by it.

I.i.92 (345,6)

[Too much to know, is, to know nought but fame; And every godfather can give a name]

[W: "shame" or "feign"] That there are two ways of setting a passage right gives reason to suspect that there may be a third way better than either. The first of these emendations makes a fine sense, but will not unite with the next line; the other makes a sense less fine, and yet will not rhyme to the correspondent word. I cannot see why the passage may not stand without disturbance. The consequence, says Biron, of too much knowledge, is not any real solution of doubts, but mere empty reputation. That is, too much knowledge gives only fame, a name which every godfather can give likewise. (1773)

I.i.95 (345,7) [Proceeded well to stop all good proceeding] To proceed is an academical term, meaning, to take a degree, as he proceeded bachelor in physick. The sense is, he has taken his degrees on the art of hindering the degrees of others.

I.i.153 (348,1) [Not by might master'd, but by especial grace] Biron, amidst his extravagancies, speaks with great justness against the folly of vows. They are made without sufficient regard to the variations of life, and are therefore broken by some unforeseen necessity. They proceed commonly from a presumptuous confidence, and a false estimate of human power.

I.i.159 (349,2) [Suggestions] Temptations.

I.i.162 (349,3) [quick recreation] Lively sport, spritely diversion.

I.i.169 (349,4)

[A man of complements, whom right and wrong Have chose as umpire of their mutiny]

This passage, I believe, means no more than that Don Armado was a man nicely versed in ceremonial distinctions, one who could distinguish in the most delicate questions of honour the exact boundaries of right and wrong. Compliment, in Shakespeare's time, did not signify, at least did not only signify verbal civility, or phrases of courtesy, but according to its original meaning, the trapping, or ornamental appendages of a character, in the same manner, and on the same principles of speech with accomplishment. Compliment is, as Arwado well expresses it, the varnish of a complete man.

I.i.174 (350,6) [in the world's debate] The world seems to be used in a monastick sense by the king, now devoted for a time to a monastic life. In the world, in seculo, in the bustle of human affairs, from which we are now happily sequestred, in the world, to which the votaries of solitude have no relation.

I.i.252 (353,1) [base minow of thy mirth] A minnow is a little fish which cannot be intended here. We may read, the base minion of thy mirth.

I.ii.5 (355,2) [dear imp] Imp was anciently a term of dignity. Lord Cromwell in his last letter to Henry VIII. prays for the imp his son. It is now used only in contempt or abhorrence; perhaps in our authour's time it was ambiguous, in which state it suits well with this dialogue.

I.ii.36 (356,3) [crosses love not him] By crosses he means money. So in As you like it, the Clown says to Celia, if I should bear you, I should bear no cross.

I.ii.150 (360,7)

 [Jaq. Fair weather after you!
                 Dull. Come, Jaquenetta, away]

[Theobald had reassigned two speeches] Mr. Theobald has endeavoured here to dignify his own industry by a very slight performance. The folios all read as he reads, except that instead of naming the persons they give their characters, enter Clown, Constable, and Wench.

I.ii.168 (361,8) [It is not for prisoners to be silent in their words] I suppose we should read, it is not for prisoners to be silent in their wards, that is, in custody, in the holds.

I.ii.183 (361,9) [The first and second cause will not serve my turn] See the last act of As you like it, with the notes.

II.i.15 (362,1)

[Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye, Not utter'd by base sale of chapmen's tongues]

Chapman here seems to signify the seller, not, as now commonly, the buyer. Cheap or cheping was anciently the market, chapman therefore is marketman. The meaning is, that that the estimation of beauty depends not on the uttering or proclamation of the seller, but on the eye of the buyer.

II.i.45 (363,2) [Well fitted] is well qualified.

II.i.49 (363,3) [match'd with] is combined or joined with.

II.i.105 (365,4) ['Tis deadly sin to keep that oath, my lord; And sin to break it] Sir T. Hammer reads,

Not sin to break it.

I believe erroneously. The Princess shews an inconvenience very frequently attending rash oaths, which, whether kept or broken, produce guilt.

II.i.203 (369,6) [God's blessing on your beard!] That is, mayst thou have sense and seriousness more proportionate to thy beard, the length of which suits ill with such idle catches of wit.

II.i.223 (370,7) [My lips are no common, though several they be] Several, is an inclosed field of a private proprietor, so Maria says, her lips are private property. Of a lord that was newly married one observed that he grew fat; Yes, said sir Walter Raleigh, any beast will grow fat, if you take him from the common and graze him in the several.

II.i.238 (370,8) [His tongue, all impatient to speak and not see] That is, his tongue being impatiently desirous to see as well as speak.

II. i. 241 (370,9) [To feel only looking] Perhaps we may better read, To feed only by looking.

II. i. 262 (371,1) [Boyet. You are too hard for me] [Theobald did not end Act II here] Mr. Theobald has reason enough to propose this alteration, but he should not have made it in his book without better authority or more need. I have therefore preserved his observation, but continued the former division.

III.i (372,2) [Enter Armado, and Moth.] In the folios the direction is, enter Braggart and Moth, and at the beginning of every speech of Armado stands Brag, both in this and the foregoing scene between him and his boy. The other personages of this play are likewise noted by their characters as often as by their names. All this confusion has been well regulated by the later editors.

III.i.3 (372,3) [Concolinel] Here is apparently a song lost.

III. i. 22 (373,5) [These are complements] Dr. Warburton has here changed complements to 'complishments, for accomplishments, but unnecessarily.

III. i. 32 (374,8) [but a colt] Colt is a hot, mad-brained, unbroken young fellow; or sometimes an old fellow with youthful desires.

III. i. 62 (375,9) [You are too swift, Sir, to say so] How is he too swift for saying that lead is slow? I fancy we should read, as well to supply the rhyme as the sense,

You are too swift, sir, to say so, so soon Is that lead slow, sir, which is fir'd from a gun?

III. i. 68 (375,1) [By thy favour, sweet welkin] Welkin is the sky, to which Armado, with the false dignity of a Spaniard, makes an apology for sighing in its face.

III. i. 73 (376,3) [no salve in the male, Sir] The old folio reads, no salve in thee male, sir, which, in another folio, is, no salve, in the male, sir. What it can mean is not easily discovered: if mail for a packet or bag was a word then in use, no salve in the mail may mean, no salve in the mountebank's budget. Or shall we read, no enigma, no riddle, no l'envoy--in the vale, sir--O, sir. plantain. The matter is not great, but one would wish for some meaning or other.

III. i.112 (377,5) [how was there a Costard broken in a shin?] Costard is the name of a species of apple.

III. i.136 (378,7) [my in-cony Jew] [W. jewel] I know not whether it be fit, however specious, to change Jew to jewel. Jew, in our author's time, was, for whatever reason, apparently a word of endearment. So in Midsummer-Night's Dream,

Most tender Juvenile, and eke most lovely Jew. (see 1765, II,144,9)

III.i.182 (381,2) [This signior Junto's giant-dwarf. Don Cupid] Mr. Upton has made a very ingenious conjecture on this passage. He reads,

This signior Julio's giant-dwarf--

Shakespeare, says he, intended to compliment Julio Romano, who drew Cupid in the character of a giant-dwarf. Dr. Warburton thinks, that by Junio is meant youth in general.

III.i.188 (382,3) [Of trotting paritors] An apparitor, or paritor. is an officer of the bishop's court who carries out citations; as citations are most frequently issued for fornication, the paritor is put under Cupid's government.

III.i.189 (382,4)

[And I to be a corporal of his field, And wear his colours! like a tumbler's hoop!]

The conceit seems to be very forced and remote, however it be understood. The notion is not that the hoop wears colours, but that the colours are worn as a tumbler carries his hoop, hanging on one shoulder and falling under the opposite arm.

III.i.207 (383,5) [Some men must love my lady, and some Joan] To this line Mr. Theobald extends his second act, not injudiciously, but, as was before observed, without sufficient authority.

IV.i.19 (384,6) [Here,--good my glass] To understand how the princess has her glass so ready at hand in a casual conversation, it must be remembered that in those days it was the fashion among the French ladies to wear a looking-glass,' as Mr. Bayle coarsely represents it, on their bellies; that is, to have a small mirrour set in gold hanging at the girdle, by which they occasionally viewed their faces or adjusted their hair.

IV.i.35 (385,8) [that my heart means no ill] [W: tho'] That my heart means no ill, is the same with to whom my heart means no ill; the common phrase suppresses the particle, as I mean him [not to him] no harm.

IV.i.41 (386,9) [a member of the commonwealth] Here, I believe, is a kind of jest intended; a member of the common-wealth is put for one of the common people, one of the meanest.

IV.i.49 (386,1)

[An' your waist, mistress, were as slender as my wit, One o' these maids girdles for your waist should be fit]

[W: my waste ... your wit ... my waste] This conjecture is ingenious enough, but not well considered. It is plain that the ladies girdles would not fit the princess. For when she has referred the clown to the thickest and the tallest, he turns immediately to her with the blunt apology, truth is truth; and again tells her, you are the thickest here. If any alteration is to be made, I should propose,

An' your waist, mistress, were as slender as your wit.

This would point the reply; but perhaps he mentions the slenderness of his own wit to excuse his bluntness.

IV.i.59 (387,3) [Break the neck of the wax] Still alluding to the capon.

IV.i.65 (388,5) [king Cophetua] This story is again alluded to in Henry IV.

Let king Cophetua know the truth thereof.

But of this king and beggar, the story, then doubtless well known, is, I am afraid, lost. Zenelophon has not appearance of a female name, but since I know not the true none, it is idle to guess.

IV.i.99 (389,7) [ere while] Just now; a little while ago. So Raleigh,

Here lies Hobbinol our shepherd, while e'er.

IV.i.108 (390,9) [Come, lords, away] Perhaps the Princess said rather,

--Come, ladies, away.

The rest of the scene deserves no care.

IV.ii (392,2) [Enter Dull, Holofernes, and Sir Nathaniel] I am not of the learned commentator's [Wurburton] opinion, that the satire of Shakespeare is so seldom personal. It is of the nature of personal invectives to be soon unintelligible; and the authour that gratifies private malice, aniuam in vulnere ponit, destroys the future efficacy of his own writings, and sacrifices the esteem of succeeding times to the laughter of a day. It is no wonder, therefore, that the sarcasms, which, perhaps, in the authour's time, set the playhouse in a roar, are now lost among general reflections. Yet whether the character of Holofernes was pointed at any particular man, I am, notwithstanding the plausibility of Dr. Warburton's conjecture, inclined to doubt. Every man adheres as long as he can to his own pre-conceptions. Before I read this note I considered the character of Holofernes as borrowed from the Rhombus of sir Philip Sidney, who, in a kind of pastoral entertainment, exhibited to queen Elizabeth, has introduced a school-master so called, speaking a leash of languages at once, and puzzling himself and his auditors with a jargon like that of Holofernes in the present play. Sidney himself might bring the character from Italy; for, as Peacham observes, the school-master has long been one of the ridiculous personages in the farces of that country.

IV.ii.29 (395,4)

[And such barren plants are set before us, that we thankful should be, Which we taste and feeling are for those parts that do fructify in us, more than he]

Sir T. Hammer reads thus,

And such barren plants are set before us, that we thankful should be, For those parts which we taste and feel do fructify in us more than he.

And Mr. Edwards, in his animadversions on Dr. Warburton's notes, applauds the emendation. I think both the editors mistaken, except that sir T. Hammer found the metre, though he missed the sense. I read, with a slight change,

And such barren plants are set before us, that we thankful should be, When we taste and feeling are for those parts that do fructify in us more than he.

That is, such barren plants are exhibited in the creation, to make us thankful when we have more taste and feeling than he, of those parts or qualities which produce fruit in us, and preserve as from being likewise barren plants. Such is the sense, just in itself and pious, but a little clouded by the diction of sir Nathaniel. The length of these lines was no novelty on the English stage. The moralities afford scenes of the like measure. (1773)

IV.ii.32 (396,5)

[For as it would ill become me to be vain, indiscreet, or a fool; So were there a patch set on learning, to see him in a school]

The meaning is, to be in a school would as ill become a patch, or low fellow, as folly would become me.

IV.ii.99 (399,2) [Vinegia. Vinegia, Chi non te vedi, ei non te pregia] [This reading is an emendation by Theobald] The proverb, as I am informed, is this; He that sees Venice little, values it much; he that sees it much, values it little. But I suppose Mr. Theobald is right, for the true proverb would hot serve the speaker's purpose.

IV.ii.156 (403,6) [colourable colours] That is specious, or fair seeming appearances.

IV.iii.3 (403,7) [I am toiling in a pitch] Alluding to lady Rosaline's complexion, who is through the whole play represented as a black beauty.

IV.iii.29 (404,8) [The night of dew, that on my cheeks down flows] I cannot think the night of dew the true reading, but know not what to offer.

IV.iii.47 (405,9) [he comes in like a perjure, wearing papers] The punishment of perjury is to wear on the breast a paper expressing the crime.

IV.iii.74 (406,2) [the liver-vein] The liver was anciently supposed to be the seat of love.

IV.iii.110 (408,5) [Air, would I might triumph so!] Perhaps we may better read,

Ah! would I might triumph so!

IV.iii.117 (409,7) [ay true love's fasting pain] [W: festring] There is no need of any alteration. Fasting is longing, hungry, wanting.

IV.iii.148 (410,8) [How will he triumph, leap, and laugh at it?] [W: geap] To leap is to exult, to skip for joy. It must stand.

IV.iii.166 (410,9) [To see a king transformed to a knot!] Knot has no sense that can suit this place. We may read sot. The rhimes in this play are such, as that sat and sot may be well enough admitted.

IV.iii.180 (412,2) [With men like men] [W: vane-like] This is well imagined, but perhaps the poet may mean, with men like common men.

IV.iii.231 (414,3) [She (an attending star)] Something like this is a stanza of sir Henry Wotton, of which the poetical reader will forgive the insertion.

--Ye stars, the train of night, That poorly satisfy our eyes More by your number than your light: Ye common people of the skies, What are ye when the sun shall rise.

IV.iii.256 (415,6) [And beauty's crest becomes the heavens well] [W: crete] This emendation cannot be received till its authour can prove that crete is an English word. Besides, crest is here properly opposed to badge. Black, says the King, is the badge of hell, but that which graces the heaven is the crest of beauty. Black darkens hell, and is therefore hateful; white adorns heaven, and is therefore lovely.

IV.iii.290 (417,8) [affection's men at arms] A man at arms, is a soldier armed at all points both offensively and defensively. It is no more than, Ye soldiers of affection.

IV.iii.313 (418,2) [Teaches such beauty as a woman's eye] i.e. a lady's eyes gives a fuller notion of beauty than any authour.

IV.iii.321 (418.3) [In leaden contemplation have found out Such fiery numbers] Numbers are, in this passage, nothing more than poetical measures. Could you, says Biron, by solitary contemplation, have attained such poetical fire, such spritely numbers, as have been prompted by the eyes of beauty? The astronomer, by looking too much aloft, falls into a ditch.

IV.iii.358 (422,9)

[Or for love's sake, a word, that loves all men; Or for men's sake, the author of these women; Or women's sake, by whom we men are men]

Perhaps we might read thus, transposing the lines,

Or for love's sake, a word that loves all men; For women's sake, by whom we men are men; Or for men's sake, the authours of these women.

The antithesis of a word that all men love, and a word which loves all men, though in itself worth little, has much of the spirit of this play.

IV.iii.386 (423,2) [If so, our copper buys no better treasure] Here Mr. Theobald ends the third act.

V.i.3 (423,3) [your reasons at dinner have been sharp and sententious] I know not well what degree of respect Shakespeare intends to obtain for this vicar, but he has here put into his mouth a finished representation of colloquial excellence. It is very difficult to add any thing to this character of the school-master's table-talk, and perhaps all the precepts of Castiglione will scarcely be found to comprehend a rule for conversation so justly delineated, so widely dilated, and so nicely limited.

It may be proper just to note, that reason here, and in many other places, signifies discourse; and that audacious is used in a good sense for spirited, animated, confident. Opinion is the same with obstinacy or opinionated.

V.i.14 (424,4) [He is too picked] To have the beard piqued or shorn so as to end in a point, was, in our authour's time, a mark of a traveller affecting foreign fashions: so says the Bastard in K. John,

    --I catechise
    My piqued man of countries.

V.i.29 (425,6) [(Ne intelligis, Domine.) to make frantick, lunatick?] There seems yet something wanting to the integrity of this passage, which Mr. Theobald has in the most corrupt and difficult places very happily restored. For ne intelligis domine, to make frantick, lunatick, I read, (nonne intelligis, domine?) to be mad, frantick, lunatick.

V.i.44 (427,6) [honorificabilitudinitatibus] This word, whencesoever it comes, is often mentioned as the longest word known. (1773)

V.i.110 (429,6) [dally with my excrement] The authour has before called the beard valour's excrement in the Merchant of Venice.

V.ii.43 (432,5) ['Ware pencils!] The former editions read,

Were pencils----

Sir T. Hammer here rightly restored,

'Ware pencils-----

Rosaline, a black beauty, reproaches the fair Catherine for painting.

V.ii.69 (434,9) [None are so surely caught when they are catch'd, As wit turn'd fool] These are observation worthy of a man who has surveyed human nature with the closest attention.

V.ii.87 (434,1) [Saint Dennis to St. Cupid!] The Princess of France invokes, with too much levity, the patron of her country, to oppose his power to that of Cupid.

V.ii.117 (435,2) [spleen ridiculous] is, a ridiculous fit.

V.ii.205 (439,5) [Vouchsafe, bright moon, and these thy stars] When queen Elizabeth asked an ambassadour how he liked her ladies, It is hard, said he, to judge of stars in the presence of the sun.

V.ii.235 (440,6) [Since you can cog] To cog signifies to falsify the dice, and to falsify a narrative, or to lye.

V.ii.281 (442,7) [better wits have worn plain statute-caps] This line is not universally understood, because every reader does not know that a statute cap is part of the academical habit. Lady Rosaline declares that her expectation was disappointed by these courtly students, and that better wits might be found in the common places of education. [Gray had offered a different explanation] I think my own interpretation of this passage right. (see 1765, II,197,3)

V.ii.295 (443,8)

[Fair ladies, mask'd, are roses in their bud; Dismask'd, their damask sweet commixture shewn, Are angels vailing clouds, or roses blown]

[Hammer: angels vailing clouds] [Warburton exercised his sarcasm on this] I know not why Sir T. Hanmer's explanation should be treated with so much contempt, or why vailing clouds should be capping the sun. Ladies unmask'd, says Boyet, are like angels vailing clouds, or letting those clouds which obscured their brightness, sink from before them. What is there in this absurd or contemptible?

V.ii.309 (444,1) [Exeunt ladies] Mr. Theobald ends the fourth act here.

V.ii.337 (447,4) [--behaviour, what wert thou, 'Till this mad man shew'd thee? and what art thou now?] [These are two wonderfully fine lines, intimating that what courts call manners, and value themselves so much upon teaching, as a thing no where else to be learnt, is a modest silent accomplishment under the direction of nature and common sense, which does its office in promoting social life without being taken notice of. But that when it degerates into shew and parade, it becomes an unmanly contemptible quality. Warburton.] What is told in this note is undoubtedly true, but is not comprised in the quotation.

V.ii.348 (448,5) [The virtue of your eye must break my oath] I believe the author means that the virtue, in which word goodness and power are both comprised, must dissolve the obligation of the oath. The Princess, in her answer, takes the most invidious part of the ambiguity.

V.ii.374 (449,6)

[when we greet With eyes best seeing, heaven's fiery eye, By light we lose light: your capacity Is of that nature, as to your huge store Wise things seem foolish, and rich things but poor]

This is a very lofty and elegant compliment.

V.ii.419 (450,7) [Write, Lord have mercy on us, on those three] This was the inscription put upon the door of the houses infected with the plague, to which Biron compares the love of himself and his companions; and pursuing the metaphor finds the tokens likewise on the ladies. The tokens of the plague are the first spots or discolorations, by which the infection is known to be received.

V.ii.426 (451,8) [how can this be true, That you stand forfeit, being those that sue?] That is, how can those be liable to forfeiture that begin the process. The jest lies in the ambiguity of sue, which signifies to prosecute by law, or to offer a petition.

V.ii.440 (451,9) [you force not to forswear] You force not is the same with you make no difficulty. This is a very just observation. The crime which has been once committed, is committed again with less reluctance.

V.ii.471 (452,2) [in will and error. Much upon this it is:--And might not you] I, believe this passage should be read thus,

--in will and error. Boyet. Much upon this it is. Biron. And might not you, &c.

V.ii.490 (453,5) [You cannot beg us] That is, we are not fools, our next relations cannot beg the wardship of our persons and fortunes. One of the legal tests of a natural is to try whether he can number.

V.ii.517 (454,6)

[That sport best pleases, that doth least know how. Where zeal strives to content, and the contents Dies in the zeal of that which it presents]

The third line may be read better thus,

--the contents Die in the zeal of him which them presents.

This sentiment of the Princess is very natural, but less generous than that of the Amazonian Queen, who says, on a like occasion, in Midsummer-Night's Dream,

I love not to see wretchedness o'ercharg'd, Nor duty in his service perishing.

V.ii.547 (455,8) [A bare throw at novum] This passage I do not understand. I fancy that novum should be novem, and that some allusion is intended between the play of nine pins and the play of the nine worthies, but it lies too deep for my investigation.

V.ii.581 (457,2) [A-jax] There is a conceit of Ajax and a jakes.

V.ii.694 (461,4) [more Ates] That is, more instigation. Ate was the mischievous goddess that incited bloodshed.

V.ii.702 (461,5) [my arms] The weapons and armour which he wore in the character of Pompey.

V.ii.744 (463,8) [In the converse of breath] Perhaps converse may, in this line, mean interchange.

V.ii.755 (464,2) [which fain it would convince] We must read,

--which fain would it convince;

that is, the entreaties of love which would fain over-power grief. So Lady Macbeth declares, That she will convince the chamberlain with wine.

V.ii.762 (464,3) [Honest plain words best pierce the ear of grief] As it seems not very proper for Biron to court the princess for the king in the king's presence, at this critical moment, I believe the speech is given to a wrong person. I read thus,

Prin. I understand you not, my griefs are double: Honest plain words best pierce the ear of grief. King. And by these badges, &c.

V.ii.779 (465,4) [Suggested us] That is, tempted us.

V.ii.790 (465,5) [As bombast, and as lining to the time] This line is obscure. Bombast was a kind of loose texture not unlike what is now called wadding, used to give the dresses of that time bulk and protruberance, without much increase of weight; whence the same name is given a tumour of words unsupported by solid sentiment. The Princess, therefore, says, that they considered this courtship as but bombast, as something to fill out life, which not being closely united with it, might be thrown away at pleasure.

V.ii.795 (466,7) [We did not quote them so] [We should read, quote, esteem, reckon. Warburton] though our old writers spelling by the ear, probably wrote cote, as it was pronounced. (see 1765, II,218,5)

V.ii.823 (467,8) [To flatter up these powers of mine with rest] Dr. Warburton would read fetter, but flatter or sooth is, in my opinion, more apposite to the king's purpose than fetter. Perhaps we may read,

To flatter on these hours of time with rest;

That is, I would not deny to live in the hermitage, to make the year of delay pass in quiet.

V.ii.873 (469,2) [dear groans] Dear should here, as in many other places, be dere, sad, odious.

V.ii.904 (470,3) [When daisies pied, and violets blue] The first lines of this song that were transposed, have been replaced by Mr. Theobald.

V.ii.907 (470,5) [Do paint the meadows with delight] [W: much bedight] Much less elegant than the present reading.

(472,7) General Observation. In this play, which all the editors have concurred to censure, and some have rejected as unworthy of him.

Samuel Johnson