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SPEED. What an afs art thou? I understand thee


LAUN. What a block art thou, that thou canst not?

My staff understands me."

SPEED. What thou say'st?

LAUN. Ay, and what I do too : look thee, I'll but lean, and my staff understands me.

SPEED. It ftands under thee, indeed.

LAUN. Why, stand under and understand is all one. SPEED. But tell me true, will't be a match?

LAUN. Afk my dog: if he fay, ay, it will; if he fay, no, it will; if he thake his tail, and fay nothing, it will.

SPEED. The conclufion is then, that it will. LAUN. Thou fhalt never get fuch a secret from me, but by a parable.

SPEED. 'Tis well that I get it fo. But, Launce, how fay'st thou, that my mafter is become a notable lover? 8


My ftaff understands me.] This equivocation, miferable as it is, has been admitted by Milton in his great poem, B. VI: The terms we fent were terms of weight, "Such as, we may perceive, amaz'd them all, "And ftagger'd many; who receives them right, "Had need from head to foot well understand; "Not underflood, this gift they have befides, "To fhew us when our foes ftand not upright." JOHNSON. The fame quibble occurs likewise in the fecond part of The Three Merry Coblers, an ancient ballad:

"Our work doth th' owners understand,

"Thus ftill we are on the mending hand." STEEVENS,


how fay ft thou, that my mafter is become a notable lover?] i. e. (as Mr. M. Mafon has elsewhere obferved) What say'ft thou to this circumftance, namely, that my mafter is become a notable lover? MALONE.

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LAUN. I never knew him otherwise.

SPEED. Than how?

LAUN. A notable lubber, as thou reporteft him to


SPEED.Why, thou whorfon ass, thou mistakest me. LAUN. Why, fool, I meant not thee; I meant thy master.

SPEED. I tell thee, my mafter is become a hot lover.

LAUN. Why, I tell thee, I care not though he burn himself in love. If thou wilt go with me to the ale-house, so; if not, thou art an Hebrew, a Jew, and not worth the name of a Chriftian.


LAUN. Because thou haft not fo much charity in thee, as to go to the ale with a Chriftian: Wilt thou go?


SPEED. At thy fervice.


fo;] So, which is wanting in the firft folio, was fupplied by the editor of the fecond. MALONE.


the ale] Ales were merry meetings inftituted in country places. Thus Ben Jonfon:

"And all the neighbourhood, from old records
"Of antique proverbs drawn from Whitfon lords,
"And their authorities at wakes and ales,
"With country precedents, and old wives' tales,
"We bring you now."

Again, as Mr. M. Mafon obferves, in the play of Lord Cromwell:
"O Tom, that we were now at Putney, at the ale there!"
See alfo Mr. T. Warton's Hiftory of English Poetry, Vol. III.
p. 128. STEEVENS.


The fame. An Apartment in the Palace.


PRO. To leave my Julia, fhall I be forfworn;
To love fair Silvia, fhall I be forfworn;
To wrong my friend, I fhall be much forfworn;
And even that power, which gave me first my oath,
Provokes me to this threefold perjury.

Love bade me swear, and love bids me forfwear :
O fweet-fuggefting love, if thou haft finn'd,
Teach me, thy tempted fubject, to excufe it!
At first I did adore a twinkling star,
But now I worship a celeftial fun.
Unheedful vows may heedfully be broken;
And he wants wit, that wants refolved will
To learn his wit to exchange the bad for better.—
Fie, fie, unreverend tongue! to call her bad,
Whose fovereignty so oft thou haft preferr'd
With twenty thoufand foul-confirming oaths.
I cannot leave to love, and yet I do;
But there I leave to love, where I fhould love.
Julia I lofe, and Valentine I lofe:

3 It is to be observed, that, in the folio edition there are no directions concerning the fcenes; they have been added by the later editors, and may therefore be changed by any reader that can give more confiftency or regularity to the drama by fuch alterations. I make this remark in this place, because I know not whether the following foliloquy of Proteus is fo proper in the ftreet. JOHNSON,

The reader will perceive that the scenery has been changed, though Dr. Johnson's obfervation is continued. STEEVENS.

4 O fweet-fuggefting love,] To fuggeft is to tempt, in our author's language. So again:


Knowing that tender youth is foon fuggefted."

The fenfe is, O tempting love, if thou haft influenced me to fin, teach me to excufe it. JOHNSON.


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If I keep them, I needs must lose myself;
If I lose them, thus find I by their lofs,
For Valentine, myself; for Julia, Silvia.
I to myself am dearer than a friend;
For love is ftill more precious in itself:
And Silvia, witnefs heaven, that made her fair!
Shews Julia but a fwarthy Ethiope.
I will forget that Julia is alive,
Rememb'ring that my love to her is dead;
And Valentine I'll hold an enemy,
Aiming at Silvia as a sweeter friend.
I cannot now prove conftant to myself,
Without fome treachery us'd to Valentine:-
This night, he meaneth with a corded ladder
To climb celeftial Silvia's chamber-window;
Myself in counsel, his competitor:
Now presently I'll give her father notice
Of their difguifing, and pretended flight;"


S in counfel, his competitor :] Myself, who am his competitor or rival, being admitted to his counfel. JOHNSON. Competitor is confederate, affiftant, partner.

So, in Antony and Cleopatra:

"It is not Cæfar's natural vice, to hate
"One great competitor :"

and he is fpeaking of Lepidus, one of the triumvirate. STEEVENS.

Steevens is right in afferting, that competitor, in this place, means confederate, or partner.-The word is ufed in the fame fense in Twelfth Night, where the Clown feeing Maria and Sir Toby approach, who were joined in the plot againft Malvolio, fays, "The competitors enter." And again, in King Richard III. the meffenger fays,

The Guildfords are in arms,
"And every hour more competitors
"Flock to the rebels."

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So alfo, in Love's Labour's Loft :

"The king, and his competitors in oath." M. MASON. pretended flight;] Pretended flight is propofed or intended fight. So, in Macbeth:


What good could they pretend?"

Who, all enrag'd, will banish Valentine;
For Thurio, he intends, fhall wed his daughter:
But, Valentine being gone, I'll quickly cross,
By fome fly trick, blunt Thurio's dull proceeding.
Love, lend me wings to make my purpose swift,
As thou haft lent me wit to plot this drift!" [Exit.


Verona. A Room in Julia's Houfe.


JUL. Counfel, Lucetta; gentle girl, assist me! And, even in kind love, I do conjure thee,— Who art the table wherein all my thoughts Are vifibly character'd and engrav'd,To leffon me; and tell me fome good mean, How, with my honour, I may undertake A journey to my loving Proteus.

Luc. Alas! the way is wearifome and long. JUL. A true-devoted pilgrim is not weary To measure kingdoms with his feeble steps; Much less fhall fhe, that hath love's wings to fly; And when the flight is made to one fo dear, Of fuch divine perfection, as fir Proteus.

Luc. Better forbear, till Proteus make return.

Mr. M. Mafon juftly obferves, that the verb pretendre in French, has the fame fignification. STEEVENS.

Again, in Dr. A. Borde's Introduction of Knowledge, 1542, fig. H 3, "I pretend to return and come round about thorow other regyons in Europ." REED.


-this drift!] I fufpect that the author concluded the act with this couplet, and that the next fcene fhould begin the third aft; but the change, as it will add nothing to the probability of the action, is of no great importance. JOHNSON.

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