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NEST. What is't?

ULYSS. This 'tis :
Blunt wedges rive hard knots: The seeded prides
That hath to this maturity blown up
In rank Achilles, must or now be cropp’d,
Or, shedding, breed a nursery of like evil,
To overbulk us all.

Well, and how ??
Ulyss. This challenge that the gallant Hector

However it is spread in general name,
Relates in purpose only to Achilles.
Nest. The purpose is perspicuous even as sub-

stance, Whose grossness little characters sum up :S

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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,
“ When thus thy vices bud before thy spring ?”.

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,
But that Achilles, were his brain as barren
As banks of Libya,—though, Apollo knows,
'Tis dry enough,—will with great speed of judg-

Ay, with celerity, find Hector's purpose
Pointing on him.

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,


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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.

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Although particular, shall give a scantling?
Of good or bad unto the general;
And in such indexes, although small prick83
To their subséquent volumes, there is seen
The baby figure of the giant mass
Of things to come at large. It is suppos'd,
He, that meets Hector, issues from our choice:
And choice, being mutual act of all our souls,
Makes merit her election; and doth boil,
As 'twere from forth us all, a man distill'd
Out of our virtues; Who miscarrying,
What heart receives from hence a conquering part,
To steel a strong opinion to themselves ?
Which entertain'd, limbs are his instruments,
In no less working, than are swords and bows
Directive by the limbs.

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,



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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,
By showing the worse first. Do not consent,
That ever Hector and Achilles meet;
For both our honour and our shame, in this,
Are dogg'd with two strange followers.
NEST. I see them not with


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,
By showing the worse first.] The folio reads :

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)
“ There was, a man that learning did adore,&c.
“ Who did so much in eloquence

abound, “ That in his time the like could not be found.”



The sort to fight with Hector : Among ourselves,

Again :

“ 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;
“ To be well cladde he set all his entent.
“ In rich aray he was full curyous,
“ Although he were of body corsyous.
“ Of armes great, with shoulders square and brode;
“ It was of him almost a horse-lode.

High of stature, and boystrous in a pres,
And of his speech rude, and rechless.
Full many worde in ydel hym asterte,

“ And but a coward was he of his herte." Ajax Telamonius he thus describes :

“ An other Ajax Thelamonyius
“ There was also, diserte and virtuous;
“ Wonder faire and semely to behold,
“ Whose heyr was black and upward ay gan folde,
“ In compas wise round as any sphere;
“ And of musyke was there none his pere.

yet had he good practike
“ In armes eke, and was a noble knight.
“ No man more orped, nor hardyer for to fight,
« Nor desirous for to have victorye;

Devoyde of pomp, hating all vayn glorye,
“ All ydle laud spent and blowne in vayne.”.

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

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