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faculties by such means as make men fancy themselves beasts.


Witches or sorcerers themselves, as well as those who employed them, were supposed to forfeit their souls by making use of a forbidden agency. In that sense, they may be said to destroy the souls of others as well as their own. I believe Dr. Johnson has done as much as was necessary to remove all difficulty from the passage.


7-is lash'd with woe.] Should it not rather be leash'd, i. e. coupled like a head-strong hound?

The high opinion I must necessarily entertain of the learned Lady's judgment, who furnished this observation, has taught me to be diffident of my own, which I am now to offer.

The meaning of this passage may be, that those who refuse the bridle must bear the lash, and that woe is the punishment of headstrong liberty. It may be observed, however, that the seamen still use lash in the same sense with leash. Lace was the old English word for a cord, from which verbs have been derived differently modelled by the chances of pronunciation. When the mariner lashes his guns, the sportsman leashes his dogs, the female laces her clothes, they all perform the same act of fastening with a lace or cord. Of the same original is the word windlass, or more properly windlace, an engine, by which a lace or cord is wound upon a barrel.


-fool-begg'd-] She seems to mean by fool-begg'd

patience, that patience which is so near to idiotical simplicity, that your next relation would take advantage from it to represent you as a fool, and beg the guardianship of your fortune.

JOHNSON. 9-that I could scarce understand them,] i. e. that I could scarce stand under them. This quibble, poor as it is, seems to have been the favourite of Shakspeare. It has been already introduced in the Two Gentlemen of Verona.


66 my staff understands me." 10 Am I so round with you, as you with me,] He plays upon the word round, which signified spherical applied to himself, and unrestrained, or free in speech or action, spoken of his mistress. So the king, in Hamlet, bids the queen be round with her son.


"-make a common of my serious hours,] i. e. intrude on them when you please. The allusion is to these tracts of ground destined to the general use, which are thence called commons.


12 Not a man of these but hath the wit to lose his hair.] That is, Those who have more hair than wit, are easily entrapped by loose women, and suffer the consequences of lewdness, one of which, in the first appearance of the disease in Europe, was the loss of hair.


13 the crime of lust-] Both the integrity of the metaphor, and the word blot, in the preceding line, shew that we should read,

with the GRIME of lust:

ï. e. the stain, smut. So again in this play,-A man may go over shoes in the GRIME of it. WARBURTON.

14 I live distain'd, thou undishonoured.] To distaine (from the French word, destaindre) signifies, to stain, defile, pollute. But the context requires a sense quite opposite. We must either read, instain'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.

I would read,


I live distained, thou dishonoured. That is, As long as thou continuest to dishonour thyself, I also live distained.


15you 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.

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16 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 ouphs, 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 scretch 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

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strix, the scretch-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. Grande caput: stantes oculi: rostra apta rapinæ: Canities pennis, unguibus hamus inest. Nocte volant, PUEROSQUE PETUNT nutricis egentes; Et vitiant CUNIS corpora rapta suis. Carpere dicuntur luctantia viscera rostris ; Et plenum poto sanguine guttur habent. Est illis strigibus nomen:·

Lib. 6. Fast.


17 And shrive you] i. e. I will call you to confession, and make you tell your tricks.



carkanet,-] seems to have been a necklace or rather chain, perhaps hanging down double from the neck. So Lovelace in his poem,

The empress spreads her carcanets. JOHNSON. Quarquan, ornement d'or qu'on mit au col des damoiselles. Le grand Dict. de N. cod.


19 Marry, so it doth appear&c.] He first says, that his wrongs and blows prove him an ass; but immediately, with a correction of his former sentiment, such as may be hourly observed in conversation, he observes that, if he had been an ass, he should, when he was kicked, have kicked again.



If a crow help up us in, sirrah, we'll pluck a crow together.] We find the same quibble on a like occasion in one of the comedies of Plautus.

The children of quality among the Greeks and Romans had usually birds of different kinds given them for their amusement. This custom Tyndarus in the Captives mentions, and says, that for his part he had -tantum upupam.

Upupa signifies both a lapwing and a mattock or some instrument of the same kind, employed to dig stones from the quarries.


21 Being compact of credit,] means, being made altogether of credulity.


22-vain,] is light of tongue, not veracious.


23 Not mad, but mated,] i. e. confounded. So in Macbeth:

My mind she has mated, and amaz'd my sight.


24 My sole earth's heaven, and my heaven's claim.] When he calls the girl his only heaven on the earth, he utters the common cant of lovers. When he calls her his heaven's claim, I cannot understand him. Perhaps he means that which he asks of heaven.


25 Ant. S. What's her name? Dromio. Nell, sir; but her name is three quarters; that is, an ell and three quarters, &c.] This passage has hitherto lain as perplexed and unintelligible, as it is now easy, and truly humourous. If

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