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Myself would, on the rereward of reproaches,
Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame !) Frame is contrivance, order, disposition of things. So, in The Death of Robert Earl of Huntington, 1603:
* And therefore seek to set each thing in frame.” Again, in Holinshed's Chronicle, p. 555: “ There was no man that studied to bring the unrulie to frame." Again, in Daniel's Verses on Montaigne :
extracts of men, “Though in a troubled frame confus’dly set.” Again, in this play:
“Whose spirits toil in frame of villainies.” Steevens. It seems to me, that by frugal nature's frame, Leonato alludes to the particular formation of himself, or of Hero's mother, rather than to the universal system of things. Frame means here framing, as it does where Benedick says of John, that
“His spirits toil in frame of villainies.” Thus Richard says of Prince Edward, that he was
“ Fram'd in the prodigality of nature.” And, in All’s well that ends well, the King says to Bertram :
“ Frank nature, rather curious than in haste,
“Hath well cornpos’d thee." But Leonato, dissatisfied with his own frame, was wont to complain of the frugality of nature. M. Mason.
The meaning, I think, is,-Grieved I at nature's being so frugal as to have framed for me only one child? Malone.
7 Who smirched thus, &c.] Thus the quarto, 1600. The folio reads-“smeared.” To smirch is to daub, to sully. So, in King Henry V: “Our gayness and our gilt are all besmirch'd," &c.
Steevens. 8 But mine, and mine I lov'd, and mine I prais’d,
And mine that I was proud on;] The sense requires that we should read, as in these three places. The reasoning of the speak. er stands thus-Had this been my adopted child, her shame would not have rebounded on me. But this child was mine, as mine I loo'd her,
That I myself was to myself not mine,
Sir, sir, be patient:
Beat. O, on my soul, my cousin is belied!
Beat. No, truly, not; although until last night,
Leon. Confirm’d, confirm’d! O, that is stronger made,
Friar. Hear me a little;
praised her, was proud of her : consequently, as I claimed the glory, I must needs be subject to the shame, &c. Warburton.
Even of this small alteration there is no need. The speaker utters his emotion abruptly. But mine, and mine that I lood, &c. by an ellipsis frequent, perhaps too frequent, both in verse and prose. Johnson.
the wide sea Hath drops too few to wash her clean again;] The same thought is repeated in Macbeth:
“Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
- which may season give To her foul tainted flesh.] The same metaphor from the kitchen occurs in Twelfth Night:
all this to season “A brother's dead love." Steevens
Against her maiden truth:-Call me a fool;
Friar it cannot be:
Friar. Lady, what man is he you are accus'd of?*
Hero. They know, that do accuse me; I know none: If I know more of any man alive, Than that which maiden modesty doth warrant, Let all my sins lack mercy-O my father, Prove you that any man with me convers’d At hours unmeet, or that I yesternight Maintain’d the change of words with any creature, Refuse me, hate me, torture me to death.
Friar. There is some strange misprision in the princes. Bene. Two of them have the very bent of honour;5
2 To burn the errors — ] The same idea occurs in Romeo and Juliet:
“ Transparent hereticks be burnt for liars.” Steevens.
of my book ;] i. e. of what I have read. Malone. 4 Friar.
- what man is he you are accus'd of?] The friar had just before boasted his great skill in fishing out the truth. And, indeed, he appears by this question to be no fool. He was by, alí the while at the accusation, and heard no name mentioned. Why then should he ask her what man she was accused of? But in this lay the subtilty of his examination. For, had Hero been guilty, it was very probable that in that hurry and confusion of spirits, into which the terrible insult of her lover had thrown her, she would never have observed that the man's name was not mentioned; and so, on this question, have betrayed herself by naming the person she was conscious of an affair with. The Friar observed this, and so concluded that were she guilty, she would probably fall into the trap he laid for her.-I only take notice of this to show how admirably well Shakspeare knew how to sustain his characters. Warburton.
5-bent of honour;) Bent is used by our author for the utmost degree of any passion, or mental quality. In this play be
And if their wisdoms be misled in this,
Leon. I know not; If they speak but truth of her,
Pause a while,
Leon. What shall become of this? What will this do?
Friar. Marry, this, well carried, shall on her behalf Change slander to remorse; that is some good: But not for that, dream I on this strange course, But on this travail look for greater birth. She dying, as it must be so maintain’d,
fore, Benedick says of Beatrice, her affection has its full bent. The expression is derived from archery; the bow has its bent, when it is drawn as far as it can be. Johnson. 6 Your daughter here the princes left for dead;] In former copies,
Your daughter here the princess (left for dead;). But how comes Hero to start up a princess here? We have no intimation of her father being a prince; and this is the first and only time she is complimented with this dignity. The remotion of a single letter, and of the parenthesis, will bring her to her own rank, and the place to its true meaning :
Your daughter here the princes left for dead; i, e. Don Pedro, prince of Arragon; and his bastard brother, wha is likewise called a prince.” Theobald.
ostentation :] Show, appearance. Johnson,
Upon the instant that she was accus'd,
Bene. Signior Leonato, let the friar advise you :
- we rack the value ;] i. e. we exaggerate the value. The allusion is to rack-rents. The same kind of thought occurs in Antony and Cleopatra :
“What our contempts do often hurl from us,
died upon his words,] i. e. died by them. So, in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
" To die upon the hand I love so well.” Steevens. 1 If ever love had interest in his liver,] The liver, in conformity to ancient supposition, is frequently mentioned by Shakspeare as the seat of love. Thus Pistol represents Falstaff as loving Mrs. Ford—with liver burning hot.” Steevens.