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So portent-like? would I o'ersway his state,
That he should be my fool, and I his fate.
Prin. None are so8 surely caught, when they are

As wit turn’d fool: folly, in wisdom hatch'd,
Hath wisdom's warrant, and the help of school;
And wit's own grace to grace a learned fool.

Ros. The blood of youth burns not with such excess, As gravity's revolt to wantonness. 9

Mar. Folly in fools bears not so strong a note,
As foolery in the wise, when wit doth dote;
Since all the power thereof it doth apply,
To prove, by wit, worth in simplicity.

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? So portent-like &c.] In former copies:

So pertaunt-like, would I o'er-sway his state,

That he should be my fool, and I his fate. In old farces, to show the inevitable approaches of death and destiny, the Fool of the farce is made to employ all his stratagems to avoid Death or Fate; which very stratagems, as they are or. dered, bring the Fool, at every turn, into the very jaws of Fate. To this Shakspeare alludes again in Measure for Measure:

- merely thou art Death's Fool;
“ For him thou labour'st by thy flight to shun,

“ And yet run’st towards him still It is plain from all this, that the nonsense of pertaunt-like, should be read, portent-like, i. e. I would be his fate or destiny, and, like a portent, hang over, and influence his fortunes. For portents were not only thought to forebode, but to influence. So the Latins called a person destined to bring mischief, fatale portentum.

Warburton. The emendation appeared first in the Oxford edition. Malone.

Until some proof be brought of the existence of such characters as Death and the Fool, in old farces, (for the mere assertion of Dr. Warburton is not to be relied on) this passage must be literally understood, independently of any particular allusion. The old reading might probably mean—"so scoffingly would I o'ersway,” &c. The initial letter in Stowe, mentioned by Mr. Reed in Measure for Measure, here cited, has been altogether misunderstood. It is only a copy from an older letter which formed part of a Death's Dance, in which Death and the Fool were always represented. I have several of these alphabets.

Douce. 8 None are so &c.] These are observations worthy of a man who has surveyed human nature with the closest attention. Fohnson.

- to wantonness.] The quarto, 1598, and the first folio have-to wantons be. For this emendation we are likewise in. debted to the second folio. Malone.


Enter Boyet. Prin. Here comes Boyet, and mirth is in his face. Boyet. O, I am stabb'd with laughter! Where's her

grace? Prin. Thy news, Boyet? Boyet.

Prepare, madam, prepare! Arm, wenches, arm! encounters mounted are Against your peace: Love doth approach disguis'd, Armed in arguments; you ’ll be surpris’d: Muster your wits; stand in your own defence; Or hide your heads like cowards, and fly hence.

Prin. Saint Dennis to saint Cupid!1 What are they, That charge their breath against us? say, scout, say.

Boyet. Under the cool shade of a sycamore,
I thought to close mine eyes some half an hour:
When, lo! to interrupt my purpos'd rest,
Toward that shade I might behold addrest
The king and his companions: warily
I stole into a neighbour thicket by,
And overheard what you shall overhear;
That, by and by, disguis'd they will be here;
Their herald is a pretty knavish page,
That well by heart hath conn’d his embassage:
Action, and accent, did they teach him there;
Thus must thou speak, and thus thy body bear:
And ever and anon they made a doubt,
Presence majestical would put him out;
For, quoth the king, an angel shalt thou see ;
Yet fear not thou, but speak audaciously.
The boy reply'd, An angel is not evil;
I should have fear'd her, had she been a devil.

1 Saint Dennis, to saint Cupid!] The Princess of France invokes, with too much levity, the patron of her country, to oppose his power to that of Cupid. Fohnson.

Johnson censures the Princess for invoking with so much le. vity the patron of her country, to oppose his power to that of Cupid; but that was not her intention. Being determined to engage the King and his followers, she gives for the word of battle St. Dennis, as the King, when he was determined to attack her, had given for the word of battle St. Cupid:

- Saint Cupid then, and soldiers to the field.” M. Mason. VOL. IV.


With that all laugh'd, and clapp'd him on the shoulder;
Making the bold wag by their praises bolder.
One rubb’d his elbow, thus; and fleer’d, and swore,
A better speech was never spoke before:
Another, with his finger and his thumb,
Cry’d, Via! we will do’t, come what will come:
The third he caper'd, and cried, All goes well:
The fourth turn'd on the toe, and down he fell.
With that, they all did tumble on the ground,
With such a zealous laughter, so profound,
That in this spleen ridiculous appears,
To check their folly, passion's solemn tears.3

Prin.' But what, but what, come they to visit us?
Boyet. They do, they do; and are apparel'd thus,
Like Muscovites, or Russians: as I guess, 4
Their purpose is, to parle, to court, and dance:
And every one his love-feat will advance




-spleen ridiculous -] Is, a ridiculous fit of laughter.

Fohnson. The spleen was anciently supposed to be the cause of laughter: So, in some old Latin verses already quoted on another occasion.

Splen ridere facit, cogit amare jecur.” Steevens.

-passion's solemn tears.] So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream :

“Made mine eyes water, but more merry tears

The passion of loud laughter never shed.” Malone. 4 Like Muscovites, or Russians; as I guess,] The settling commerce in Russia was, at that time, a matter that much ingrossed the concern and conversation of the publick. There had been several embassies employed thither on that occasion; and several tracts of the manners and state of that nation written: so that a mask of Muscovites was as good an entertainment to the audience of that time, as a coronation has been since. Warburton.

A mask of Muscovites was no uncommon recreation at court long before our author's time. In the first year of King Henry the Eighth, at a banquet made for the foreign embassadors in the parliament-chamber at Westminster: “came the lorde Henry, Earle of Wiltshire, and the lorde Fitzwater, in twoo long gounes of yellowe satin travarsed with white satin, and in every ben of white was a bend of crimosen satin after the fashion of Russia or Ruslande, with furred hattes of grey on their hedes, either of them havyng an hatchet in their handes, and bootes with pykes turned up.” HALL, Henry VIII, p. 6. This extract may serve to convey an idea of the dress used upon the present occasion by the King and his Lords at the performance of the play. Ritson.

Unto his several mistress; which they 'll know
By favours several, which they did bestow.

Prin. And will they so? the gallants shall be task'd :-
For, ladies, we will every one be mask'd;
And not a man of them shall have the grace,
Despite of suit, to see a lady's face.-
Hold, Rosaline, this favour thou shalt wear;
And then the king will court thee for his dear;
Hold, take thou this, my sweet, and give me thine;
So shall Birón take me for Rosaline.
And change you favours too; so shall your loves
Woo contrary, deceiv’d by these removes.

Ros. Come on then; wear the favours most in sight.
Kath. But, in this changing, what is your intent?

Prin. The effect of my intent is, to cross theirs:
They do it but in mocking merriment;
And mock for mock is only my intent.
Their several counsels they unbosom shall
To loves mistook; and so be mock'd withal,
Upon the next occasion that we meet,
With visages display'd, to talk, and greet.

Ros. But shall we dance, if they desire us to 't?

Prin. No; to the death, we will not move a foot: Nor to their penn'd speech render we no grace; But, while 'tis spoke, each turn away her face.5 Boyet. Why, that contempt will kill the speaker's

heart. And quite divorce his memory from his part.

Prin. Therefore I do it; and, I make no doubt, The rest will ne'er come in, if he be out. There's no such sport, as sport by sport o'erthrown; To make theirs ours, and ours none but our own: So shall we stay, mocking intended game; And they, well mock'd, depart away with-shame.

[Trumpets sound within. Boyet. The trumpet sounds; be mask'd, the maskers come.

[The ladies mask.



- her face.] The first folio, and the quarto, 1598, have his face. Corrected by the editor of the second folio. Malone.

- will ne'er come in,] The quarto, 1598, and the folio, 1623, readwill e'er. The correction was made in the second folio.



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Enter the King, Biron, LONGAVILLE, and DUMAIN,

in Russian habits, and masked; Moth, Musicians and
Moth. All hail, the richest beauties on the earth!
Boyet. Beauties no richer than rich taffata.?
Moth. A holy parcel of the fairest dames,

[The ladies turn their backs to him. That ever turn'd their-backs to mortal views !

Biron. Their eyes, villain, their eyes.
Moth. That ever turn'd their eyes to mortal views. Out -
Boyet. True; out, indeed.

Moth. Out of your favours, heavenly spirits, vouchsafe Not to behold

Biron. Once to behold, rogue.

Moth. Once to behold with your sun-beamed eyes, with your sun-beamed eyes

Boyet. They will not answer to that epithet; You were best call it, daughter-beamed eyes.

Moth. They do not mark me, and that brings me out.
Biron. Is this your perfectness? be gone, you rogue.
Ros. What would these strangers ? know their minds,

If they do speak our language, 'tis our will
That some plain man recount their purposes:
Know what they would.

Boyet. What would you with the princess?
Biron. Nothing but peace, and gentle visitation.
Ros. What would they, say they?
Boyet. Nothing but peace, and gentle visitation.
Ros. Why, that they have; and bid them so begone.
Boyet. She says, you have it, and you may begone.

King. Say to her, we have measur'd many miles,
To tread a measure with her on this grass.

Boyet. They say that they have measur’d many a mile, To tread a measure with you on this grass.


7 Beauties no richer than rich taffata.] i. e. the taffata masks they wore to conceal themselves. All the editors concur to give this line to Biron; but, surely, very absurdly: for he's one of the zealous admirers, and hardly would make such an inference. Boyet is sneering at the parade of their address, is in the secret of the ladies' stratagem, and makes himself sport at the absurdity of their proem, in complimenting their beauty, when they were mask'd." It therefore comes from him with the utmost propriety.


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