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NEST. What is't?
ULYSS. This 'tis :
Well, and how ??
stance, Whose grossness little characters sum up :S
I believe Shakspeare was here thinking of the period of gestation which is sometimes denominated a female's time, or reckoning. T.C.
The seeded pride &c.] Shakspeare might have taken this idea from Lyte's Herbal, 1578 and 1579. The Oleander tree or Nerium i hath scarce one good propertie.” It may be compared to a Pharisee, “who maketh a glorious and beautiful show, but inwardly is of a corrupt and poisoned nature.”—“ It is high time &c. to supplant it (i. e. pharisaism) for it hath already floured, so that I feare it will shortly seede, and fill this wholesome soyle full of wicked Nerium.” TOLLET. So, in The Rape of Lucrece:
“ How will thy shame be seeded in thine age,
MALONE. nursery-] Alluding to a plantation called a nursery.
JOHNSON. ? Well, and how ?] We might complete this defective line by reading:
Well, and how then? Sir T. Hanmer readshow now? STEEVENS. • The purpose is perspicuous even as substance,
Whose grossness little characters sum up:) That is, the you?
And, in the publication, make no strain,
Ulyss. And wake him to the answer, think
NEST. It is most meet; Whom may you else oppose, That can from Hector bring those honours off, If not Achilles ? Though't be a sportful combat, Yet in the trial much opinion dwells ; For here the Trojans taste our dear'st repute With their fin’st palate: And trust to me, Ulysses, Our imputation shall be oddly pois’d In this wild action : for the success,
purpose is as plain as body or substance; and though I have collected this purpose from many minute particulars, as a gross body is made up of small insensible parts, yet the result is as clear and certain as a body thus made up is palpable and visible. This is the thought, though a little obscured in the conciseness of the expression. WARBURTON.
Substance is estate, the value of which is ascertained by the use of small characters, i. e. numerals. So, in the prologue to King Henry V:
a crooked figure may. “ Attest, in little place, a million.” The gross sum is a term used in The Merchant of Venice. Grossness has the same meaning in this instance. STEEVENS.
9 And, in the publication, make no strain,] Nestor goes on to say, make no difficulty, no doubt, when this duel comes to be proclaimed, but that Achilles, dull as he is, will discover the drift of it. This is the meaning of the line. So afterwards, in this play, Ulysses says:
ií I do not strain at the position.” i. e. I do not hesitate at, I make no difficulty of it. THEOBALD.
those honours-] Folio-his honour. MALONE.
Although particular, shall give a scantling?
Ulyss. Give pardon to my speech ;-, Therefore 'tis meet, Achilles meet not Hector. Let us, like merchants, show our foulest wares, And think, perchance, they'll sell; if not,
scantling -). That is, a measure, proportion. The carpenter cuts his wood to a certain scantling. Johnson.
So, in John Florio's translation of Montaigne's Essays, folio, 1603 : “ When the lion's skin will not suffice, we must add a scantling of the fox's.” MALONE.
small pricks-) Small points compared with the volumes. JOHNSON. Indexes were, in Shakspeare's time, often prefixed to books.
MALONE. " Which entertain's, &c.] These two lines (and the concluding hemistich] are not in the quarto. Johnson.
limbs are his instruments,] The folio reads :
limbs are in his instruments. I have omitted the impertinent preposition. STEEVENS.
if not,] I suppose, for the sake of metre, we should read :
if they do not. STEEVENS.
The lustre of the better shall exceed,
what are they? Ulyss. What glory our Achilles shares from
Hector, Were he not proud, we all should share with him: But he already is too insolent; And we were better parch in Africk sun, Than in the pride and salt scorn of his eyes, Should he 'scape Hector fair : If he were foil'd, Why, then we did our main opinion' crush In taint of our best man. No, make a lottery; And, by device, let blockish Ajax" draw
The lustre of the better shall exceed,
The lustre of the better, yet to show,
Shall show the better. I once thought that the alteration was made by the author; but a more diligent comparison of the quartos and the first folio has convinced me that some arbitrary alterations were made in the latter copy by its editor. The quarto copy of this play is in general more correct than the folio. MALONE. share-] So the quarto. The folio-wear.
Johnson. our main opinion--] is, our general estimation or character. See Vol. XI. p. 422, n. 9. Opinion has already been used in this scene in the same sense. MALONE.
blockish Ajax-] Shakspeare, on this occasion, has deserted Lydgate, who gives a very different character of Ajax:
“ Another Ajax (surnamed Telamon)
abound, “ That in his time the like could not be found.”
The sort to fight with Hector : Among ourselves,
“ And one that hated pride and flattery,”' &c. Our author appears to have drawn his portrait of the Grecian chief from the invectives thrown out against him by Ulysses in the thirteenth Book of Ovid's Metamorphosis, translated by Golding, 1587 ; or from the prologue to Harrington's Metamorphosis of Ajax, 1596, in which he is represented as “strong, heady, boisterous, and a terrible fighting fellow, but neither wise, learned, staide, nor polliticke." STEEVENS.
I suspect that Shakspeare confounded Ajax Telamonius with Ajax Oileus. The characters of each of them are given by Lydgate. Shakspeare knew that one of the Ajaxes was Hector's nephew, the son of his sister ; but perhaps did not know that he was Ajax Telamonius, and in consequence of not attending to this circumstance has attributed to the person whom he has introduced in this play part of the character which Lydgate had drawn for Ajax Oileus:
“ Oileus Ajax was right corpulent;
High of stature, and boystrous in a pres,
“ And but a coward was he of his herte." Ajax Telamonius he thus describes :
“ An other Ajax Thelamonyius
yet had he good practike
Devoyde of pomp, hating all vayn glorye,
Lydgate's Auncient Historie, &c. 1555. There is not the smallest ground in Lydgate for what the author of the Rifacimento of this poem, published in 1614, has