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That never object pleasing in thine eye,
How comes it now, my husband, oh, how comes it,
Am better than thy dear self's better part.
As take from me thyself, and not me too.
My musick then you could for ever hear,
An earlier dramatist than Shakspeare has the same image. See Soliman and Perseda :
Her words are musick,
"The self-same musick that in ancient days
'Brought Alexander from war to banquetting." MALONE. -may'st thou FALL-] Fall is here a verb active. So, in Othello:
"Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile." STEEVENS. 8 And tear the stain'd skin OFF my harlot-brow,] The authentick copy has the stain'd skin of my harlot-brow; but as, in former times, off was generally written of, it is not easy here to determine which of the two words was intended by the poet; each affording good sense. However, I have in the text followed
Mr. Steevens. MALONE.
And from my false hand cut the wedding-ring,
I know thou can'st; and therefore, see, thou do it.
I am possess'd with an adulterate blot;
I do digest the poison of thy flesh,
Being strumpeted' by thy contagion.
Keep then fair league and truce with thy true bed; I live dis-stain'd, thou undishonoured 2.
ANT. S. Plead you to me, fair dame? I know you
In Ephesus I am but two hours old,
As strange unto your town, as to your talk;
Luc. Fye, brother! how the world is chang'd with you:
When were you wont to use my sister thus ?
*First folio, wants.
9 I am possess'd with an adulterate BLOT;
My blood is mingled with the CRIME of lust:] Both the integrity of the metaphor, and the word blot, in the preceding line, show that we should read
with the grime of lust: "
i. e. the stain, smut. So, again, in this play,-" A man may go over his shoes in the grime of it." WARBURTON.
Being STRUMPETED] Shakspeare is not singular in his use of this verb. So, in Heywood's Iron Age, 1632:
"By this adultress basely strumpeted." STEEVENS.
2 I live DIS-STAIN'D, thou undishonoured.] To distain (from the French word, destaindre) signifies to stain, defile, pollute. But the context requires a sense quite opposite. We must either read, unstain'd; or, by adding an hyphen, and giving the preposition a privative force, read dis-stain'd; and then it will mean, unstain'd, undefiled. THEOBALD.
I would read:
"I live distained, thou dishonoured."
That is, As long as thou continuest to dishonour thyself, I also live distained.
ANT. S. By Dromio?
ADR. By thee; and this thou didst return from him,
That he did buffet thee, and, in his blows
ANT. S. Did you converse, sir, with this gentle
What is the course and drift of your compact?
Did'st thou deliver to me on the mart.
DRO. S. I never spake with her in all my life. ANT. S. How can she thus then call us by our
Unless it be by inspiration?
ADR. How ill agrees it with your gravity, To counterfeit thus grossly with your slave, Abetting him to thwart me in my mood? Be it my wrong, you are from me exempt 3, But wrong not that wrong with a more contempt *.
3 you are from me EXEMPT,] Exempt, separated, parted. The sense is, If I am doomed to suffer the wrong of separation, yet injure not with contempt me who am already injured.
Johnson says that exempt means separated, parted; and the use of the word in that sense may be supported by a passage in Beaumont and Fletcher's Triumph of Honour, where Valerius, in the character of Mercury, says―
"To shew rash vows cannot bind destiny,
Lady, behold the rocks transported be.
Hard-hearted Dorigen! yield, lest for contempt
"They fix you there a rock, whence they're exempt."
Yet I think that Adriana does not use the word exempt in that sense, but means to say, that as he was her husband she had no power over him, and that he was privileged to do her wrong.
M. MASON. Exempt, as defined by Bullokar in his English Expositor, Svo. 1616, free or privileged from any payment of service;" but
Come, I will fasten on this sleeve of thine :
this is the forensick, not the colloquial sense of the word and therefore I think, with Dr. Johnson, that it is used by Shakspeare in the sense of separated or parted; which appears to have been the usual meaning of the word in his time. So, in a letter written by the Earl of Nottingham, in 1600, in favour of Edward Alleyn : "Forasmuche as he hath bestowed a grate some of money not onelie for the title of a plott of grounde, scituate in a verie remote and exempte place, neere Goulding lane," &c.
4 But WRONG not that WRONG with a more contempt.] So, in the Rape of Lucrece :
"To wrong the wronger till he render right."
Adriana means to say-Add not another wrong to that which I suffer already; do not both desert and despise me. MALONE.
s Thou art an elm, my husband, I a vine ;]
So Milton, Par. Lost, b. v. :
they led the vine
"To wed her elm. She spous'd, about him twines
Thus, in Ovid's tale of Vertumnus and Pomona :
Ulmus erat contra, spatiosa tumentibus uvis : "Quam socia postquam pariter cum vite probavit ; "At si staret, ait, cœlebs, sine palmite truncus, "Nil præter frondes, quare peteretur, haberet. "Hæc quoque, quæ juncta vitis requiescit in ulmo, "Si non nupta foret, terræ acclinata jaceret." STEEVENS. STRONGER state,] The old copy has-stranger. Corrected by Mr. Rowe. MALOne.
7 Usurping ivy, BRIAR, &c.] The word briar here, as in
many other places, is employed as a monosyllable. MALONE.
IDLE moss:] Moss that produces no fruit. So, in Othello: antres vast, and desarts idle." STEEVENS.
ANT. S. To me she speaks; she moves me for her theme:
What, was I marry'd to her in my dream?
Luc. Dromio, go bid the servants spread for dinner.
DRO. S. O, for my beads! I cross me for a sinner. This is the fairy land ;-O, spight of spights!— We talk with goblins, owls, and elvish sprights';
- the OFFER'D fallacy.] The old copy has-
Which perhaps was only, by mistake, for—
"the offer'd fallacy."
This conjecture is from an anonymous correspondent.
We talk with goblins, owLs, and ELVISH Sprights;] Here Mr. Theobald calls out, in the name of Nonsense, the first time he had formally invoked her, to tell him how owls could suck their breath, and pinch them black and blue. He therefore alters owls to ouphes, and dares say, that his readers will acquiesce in the justness of his emendation. But, for all this, we must not part with the old reading. He did not know it to be an old popular superstition, that the screech-owl sucked out the breath and blood of infants in the cradle. On this account, the Italians called witches, who were supposed to be in like manner mischievously bent against children, strega from strix, the screech-owl. This superstition they had derived from their pagan ancestors, as appears from this passage of Ovid:
"Sunt avidæ volucres; non quæ Phineïa mensis
"Guttura fraudabant; sed genus inde trahunt.
"Nocte volant, puerosque petunt nutricis egentes,
Carpere dicuntur luctantia viscera rostris,
"Ghastly owls accompany elvish ghosts," in Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar for June. So, in Sheringham's Disceptatio de Anglo