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THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.
INDUCTION. SCENE I.
LINE 1. I'll pheese you,] To pheeze or fease, is to separate a twist into single threads. In the figurative sense it may well enough be taken, like teaze or toze, for to harass, to plague. Perhaps I'll pheeze you, may be equivalent to I'll comb your head, a phrase vulgarly used by persons of Sly's character on like occasions. JOHNSON.
Line 2. -no rogues :] That is, vagrants, no mean fellows, but gentlemen.
Line 5. -paucas pallabris ;] Sly, as an ignorant fellow, is purposely made to aim at languages out of his knowledge, and knock the words out of joint. The Spaniards say, pocas palabras, i. e. few words: as they do likewise, Cessa, i. e. be quiet. THEOB. Line 7. -you have burst?] To burst and to break were anciently synonimous. Falstaff says-that John of Gaunt burst Shallow's head for crowding in among the marshal's men. STEEV. Line 11. I must go fetch the thirdborough.] In the old copies
headborough. i. e. a constable; of what class it is useless to demonstrate, though the commentators have taken great pains to ascertain.
Line 18. Brach Merriman,—the poor cur is emboss'd,] Here, says Pope, brach signifies a degenerate hound: but Edwards explains it a hound in general.
The meaning of the latter part of the paragraph seems to be, "I am so little skilled in hunting, that I can hardly tell whether a "bitch be a bitch or not; my judgment goes no further, than just "to direct me to call either dog or bitch by their general name "-Hound." WARTON.
Line 71. And, when he says he is,-say, that he dreams,
For he is nothing but a mighty lord.] Sir T. Hanmer
thinks that Shakspeare wrote,
"And when he says he 's poor, say, that he dreams.” The dignity of a lord is then significantly opposed to the poverty which it would be natural for him to acknowledge. STEEVENS. Line 75. modesty.] By modesty is meant moderation, without suffering our merriment to break into an excess. JOHNS. Line 91. —to accept our duty.] It was in those times the custom of players to travel in companies, and offer their service at great houses. JOHNSON.
Line 97. I think, 't was Soto-] I take our author here to be paying a compliment to Beaumont and Fletcher's Women pleas'd, in which comedy there is the character of Soto, who is a farmer's son, and a very facetious serving-man. Mr. Rowe and Mr. Pope prefix the name of Sim to the line here spoken; but the first folio has it Sincklo; which, no doubt, was the name of one of the players here introduced, and who had played the part of Soto with applause. THEOBALD.
-in the world.] Here follows an insertion made by Mr. Pope from the old play, which is neither found in the quarto, 1631, nor in the folio, 1623. I have therefore sunk it into a note, as we have no proof that the first sketch of the play was written by Shakspeare.
"2 Play. [to the other] Go, get a dish-clout to make clean your "shoes, and I'll speak for the properties. [Exit Player.
* Property] in the language of a playhouse, is every implement necessary to the exhibition. JOHNSON.
My lord, we must have a shoulder of mutton for a property, " and a little vinegar to make our devil roar +."
The shoulder of mutton was indeed necessary afterwards for the dinner of Petruchio, but there is no devil in the piece, neither were the players yet informed what comedy they should represent. STEEV.
Line 137. An onion- -] It is not unlikely that the onion was an expedient used by the actors of interludes. JOHNSON.
So in Anthony and Cleopatra:
The tears live in an onion that should water
Line 171. -of Burton-heath;-Marian Hacket, the fat alewife of Wincot.] I suspect we should read Barton-heath. Barton and Woodmancot, or, as it is vulgarly pronounced, Woncot, are both of them in Glostershire, near the residence of Shakspeare's old enemy, Justice Shallow. Very probably too, this fat ale-wife
might be a real character.
-I am not bestraught:] i. e. mad.
Line 307. Is not a commonty, a Christmas gambol, or a tumbling trick?] Thus the old copies; the modern ones read, It is not a commodity, &c. Commonty for comedy, &c. STEEVENS.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Line 9. -ingenious-] I rather think it was written ingenuous studies, but of this and a thousand such observations there is little certainty. JOHNSON.
+a little vinegar to make our devil roar.] When the acting the mysteries of the Old and New Testament was in vogue; at the representation of the mystery of the Passion, Judas and the Devil made a part. And the Devil, wherever he came, was always to suffer some disgrace, to make the people laugh: as here the buffoonery was to apply the gall and vinegar to make him roar. And the Passion being that, of all the mysteries, which was most frequently represented, vinegar became at length the standing implement to torment the devil; and used for this purpose even after the mysteries ceased, and the moralities came in vogue; where the Devil continued to have a considerable part. The mention of it here was to ridicule so absurd a WARBURTON.
circumstance in these old farces.
Line 18. Virtue, and that part of philosophy-] Sir Thomas Hanmer, and after him Dr. Warburton, read to virtue; but formerly ply and apply were indifferently used, as to ply or apply his studies.
Line 32. of Aristotle.
-Aristotle's checks,] are, I suppose, the harsh rules
Line 80. A pretty peat!] Peat or pet is a word of endearment from petit, little, as if it meant pretty little darling. JOHNSON. -so strange ?] That is, so odd, so different from others in your conduct. JOHNSON. Line 101. cunning men,] Cunning had not yet lost its original signification of knowing, learned, as may be observed in the translation of the Bible.
-I will wish him to her father.] Wish means to
Line 144. Happy man be his dole !] A proverb, signifying, may his lot be happy.
Line 167. Redime, &c.] Our author had this line from Lilly, which I mention, that it may not be brought as an argument of his learning.
Line 170. longly-] Probably it means longingly. -208. Basta:] i. e. 't is enough; Italian and Spanish. STEEV. port,] Port, is figure, show, appearance. JOHNS.
ACT I. SCENE II.
Line 303. -what he 'leges in Latin.] i. e. I suppose, what he alleges in Latin. Petruchio has been just speaking Italian to Hortensio, which Grumio mistakes for the other language. STEEv. Line 328. Where small experience grows. But, in a few.] In a few means the same as in short, in few words. JOHNSON.
Line 345. (as wealth is burthen of my wooing dance,) The burthen of a dance is an expression which I have never heard; the burthen of his wooing song had been more proper. JOHNSON.
Line 346. Be she as foul as was Florentius' love,] Dr. Farmer supposes this alludes to the story of a Florentine, which is to be found in the Thousand notable Things of Thomas Lupton.
Line 356. -aglet-baby;] diminutive, the tag of a point. POPE. -389. an' he begin once, he 'll rail in his rope-tricks.] Rhetorick (as Hanmer reads) agrees very well with figure in the
succeeding part of the speech, yet I am inclined to believe that rope-tricks is the true word. JOHNSON.
In Romeo and Juliet Shakspeare uses ropery for roguery, and therefore certainly wrote rope-tricks.
Line 391. -stand him—] i. e. oppose him.
·393. that she shall have no more eyes to see withal
than a cat.] The humour of this passage I do not understand. This animal is remarkable for the keenness of its sight.
It may mean, that he shall swell up her eyes with blows, till she shall seem to peep with a contracted pupil like a cat in the light.
Well seen in musick,] i. e. well skilled.
with bugs.] i. e. with bug-bears.
So in Cymbeline,
The mortal bugs o' th' field.
Line 571. Please you, we may contrive this afternoon,] The
word contrive is used in the same sense of spending or wearing out in the Palace of Pleasure.
ACT II. SCENE I.
-to keep you fair.] I wish to read, To keep you
fine. But either word may serve.
hilding-] The word hilding or hinderling, is
a low wretch; it is applied to Catharine for the coarseness of her
Line 109. this small packet of Greek and Latin books :] It may be here noticed, that in the time of queen Elizabeth, the education of young ladies was not confined like the present, but they were instructed in the learned languages; of which, repeated examples are to be found in the Biographical Dictionary of Women. Line 165. her frets,] A fret is the stop of a musical instrument, by which the vibration is regulated. JOHNSON.
Line 190. As morning roses newly wash'd with dew:] See a similar image in Milton's Allegro,
"And fresh-blown roses wash'd in dew."
Line 219. A joint-stool.] This is a proverbial expression,
Cry you mercy, I took you for a join'd stool.”
See Ray's Collection.