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Sc. 1. p. 402.
ANT. Read the conclusion then;
Which read and not expounded, 'tis decreed,
Conclusion, which formerly signified a trial or experiment, is here put for riddle, itself a trial of skill. The practice of proposing such riddles, with the penalty for not expounding them, is borrowed from ancient romances. In that of Tristan de Leonnois, there is a giant who detains all passengers that he meets, and puts them to the test of unfolding a riddle. If they fail, he kills them. A hero at length presents himself, who, after explaining the riddle, proposes one in his turn; the giant not being able to expound it, is himself put to death. The construction of these riddles is the same as that in the play, as will appear from the following specimen :
"Je d'un arbre jouy jadis
Que j'aimois mieux que paradis;
La me disant la vie auras ;
Sc. 1. p. 402.
DAUGH. In all save that, may'st thou prove prosperous! This reading has been adopted in preference to that of the old copy, which was, of all said yet; and in support of it Mr. Mason has offered the following argument.
She cannot wish him more prosperous in expounding the riddle than those who had preceded him; because his success would cause the publication of her own shame. Feeling a regard for the prince, she deprecates his fate, and wishes he may not succeed in solving the riddle; but that his failure may be attended with prosperous consequences. Now she must have very well known that the failure in question could be attended with no other consequences than the forfeiture of his life, a condition that had been just before expressly declared. Nor was such a wish on the part of the lady likely to operate as an inducement to the prince to try his chance, The words "save that" appear to have no regular antecedent. Would it not therefore be more charitable towards the lady to suppose that her mind revolted at the guilty situation she was placed in; and that a sudden affection for the prince, and a desire to be honourably united to such a man,
might take possession of her mind; and induce her to wish, according to a sense which may be extracted from the old reading, that, as to all which had been uttered, he might prove successful? It should be remembered too, that this idea corresponds entirely with the character of the princess in Gower. Should this interpretation be thought just, the present speech must be supposed to be privately addressed to the prince.
Sc. 1. p. 410.
for wisdom sees, those men
Blush not in actions blacker than the night,
Will shun no course to keep them from the light.
The old reading was show no course, which is equivalent with take no means; and the construction is, "they who blush not for bad actions will take no means to conceal them."
Sc. 2. p. 413.
PER. Let none disturb us: why this charge of thoughts?
Both the old editions have change, which, as Mr. Mason has shown, may very well stand; and even the redundant word should, in the old copies, might be retained without diminishing the
harmony of the line. The sense would then be, "Let none disturb us: why should this change of sentiment [disturb us"]?
Sc. 4. p. 426.
CLE. If heaven slumber while their creatures want,
As these lines stand they are ungrammatical, The original reading was, no doubt, if the Gods slumber, which was altered by the licencer of the press. This should either be restored, or the whole rendered correct.
what shall be next,
Pardon old Gower; this longs the text.
Which Mr. Steevens thus explains; "Excuse old Gower from telling you what follows. The very text to it has proved of too considerable a length already." But has he not missed the meaning of this elliptical mode of expression, which seems to be,"Excuse old Gower from
relating what follows; this belongs to the text, i. e. the play itself, not to me the commentator?" In the third act he uses a similar speech,
"I will relate; action may
Conveniently the rest convey."
Longs should be printed 'longs, as we have 'lated for belated in Macbeth, Act iii. Sc. s.
These were a sort of petticoat that hung down to the knees, and were suggested by the Roman military dress, in which they seem to have been separate and parallel slips of cloth or leather. Gayton in his Festivous notes on Don Quixote, p. 218, says, that "all heroick persons are pictured in bases and buskins." In the celebrated story of Friar John and friar Richard, as related in Heywood's History of women, p. 253, the skirts of the armed friar's gown are made to serve as bases. At the justs that were held in honour of Queen Catherine in the second year of Hen. VIII., some of the knights had "their basses and trappers of cloth of golde, every of