As You Like It (1919) Yale/Notes
I. i. 2. The nominative 'he' is often omitted when it may be readily inferred from the context, as in this instance before 'bequeathed.' There are numerous other unnecessary conjectures and emendations of the text. The sentence is abrupt, but its meaning is clear.
I. i. 5. Jaques. Jaques de Boys, who appears in V. iv. Not to be confused with the follower of Duke Senior, the 'melancholy Jaques.'
I. i. 27 S. d. A return has been made to the 'anticipatory entrances' of the First Folio. In nearly every case the entrance is placed earlier in the First Folio than in modern editions. Time is required for the actor to cross the stage, hence the entrances of the First Folio correspond to the necessities of stage representation.
I. i. 41. prodigal portion. A reference to the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15).
I. i. 55. reverence. I.e., 'as the first-born you should stand nearer the inheritance of reverence derived from the head of the family.' It is the irony in Orlando's tone as he says this which angers Oliver.
I. i. 122. forest of Arden. The scene of Lodge's novel is laid in France and therefore the literal minded have suggested that by the forest of Arden Shakespeare meant the forest of the Ardennes in northeastern France. There is, however, a forest of Arden in Warwickshire. Needless to say, the forests of neither locality contain either palm or olive trees, to say nothing of lions. Shakespeare himself has sufficiently identified his forest as a place where men may 'fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world.' It is an Arcadia inhabited by shepherds and shepherdesses, a never-never land whose exact location is in the uncharted seas of a poet's imagination.
I. i. 127. golden world. According to classical mythology, the first inhabitants of the world lived together in innocence and happiness under the natural laws of truth and right. The earth brought forth all man's necessities, without labor, and strife was unknown. For a description of the golden world and man's successive departures from an age of innocence see Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book I.
I. ii. 4. I. The addition of 'I' is Rowe's emendation (1709), accepted by later authorities as necessary.
I. ii. 36. Fortune . . . wheel. Fortune's emblem was a wheel which symbolized the instability of her favors. A good housewife also had a wheel, but one of another kind, namely, a spinning wheel. Celia jestingly likens Fortune's wheel to the housewife's, and proposes to drive this housewife Fortune from her wheel by wit to prevent her hereafter from being inconstant.
I. ii. 90. Cel. The First Folio assigns this speech to Rosalind. In that case it would be necessary to infer that both the Dukes were named Frederick. As they were brothers, this would not be probable.
I. ii. 96. fools . . . silenced. Wright believes this to be a reference to some recent inhibition of the players; Fleay, 'probably to the burning of satirical books by public authority 1st June, 1599.' If the latter were true it would be an important indication of the date of the play.
I. ii. 108. Sport. Le Beau probably pronounces 'sport' so that it sounds like 'spot.' Hence Celia's quibble.
I. ii. 114. rank. A pun on 'rank' meaning 'position' and its adjectival meaning of 'strong' in relation to odors.
I. ii. 132. Be . . . presents. A common legal phrase introduced for the sake of the pun on 'presence' in line 131.
I. ii. 151. broken music. Chapell (Popular Music, p. 346) explains the phrase as follows: 'Some instruments such as viols, violins, flutes, etc., were made in sets of four, which when played together made a consort. If one or more of the instruments of one set were substituted for the corresponding ones of another set, the result is no longer a consort, but broken music.' A damaged wrestler groaning in pain, might, therefore, be looked upon as broken music, since neither his utterance nor himself was now a harmony.
I. ii. 187. saw . . . judgment. I.e., 'if your eyes saw yourself in your true proportion, or your judgment were mature enough to know your own limitations.'
I. ii. 198. wherein . . . guilty. I.e., 'much deserving of your hard thoughts to deny, etc'
I. ii. 226. Hercules . . . speed. I.e., 'may Hercules be your patron.'
I. ii. 263. suits . . . fortune. I.e., 'whom fortune has denied favors.'
I. ii. 289. taller. Apparently a slip of the pen on Shakespeare's part, for afterwards Rosalind is described as 'taller' than Celia. Malone suggested the emendation 'smaller,' which has been adopted by many editors unwilling to credit Shakespeare with even so trivial an error.
I. ii. 304. smoke . . . smother. Proverbial, equivalent to 'out of the frying pan into the fire.' 'Smother' is a suffocating smoke.
I. iii. 20. hem . . . him. A quibble on the likeness of sound between 'hem' and 'him.' Possibly the whole phrase is proverbial, although no commentator has quoted such a proverb.
I. iii. 38. Why . . . not. I.e., 'Why should I not hate him?' deserve well. I.e., 'to be hated.'
I. iii. 131. Aliena. From the Latin, meaning a stranger. Cf. alien.
II. i. S. d. Duke Senior. So designated throughout the First Folio.
II. i. 5. penalty of Adam. I.e., 'In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread' (Genesis 3. 19). In the forest they do not suffer from this penalty, for they fleet the time carelessly as in the golden world where none had to toil. 'The season's difference' which some commentators take to be the 'penalty of Adam' is not so described in the Bible.
II. i. 13. toad. The natural history of Shakespeare's time spoke of the toad as 'venomous,' while it was believed to carry in its head a stone or jewel 'of power to repulse poysons.'
II. i. 18. I . . . it. Many modern editions give this half line to Duke Senior. The present text follows the First Folio in assigning it to Amiens, who thus agrees with the Duke's summary of their happy life.
II. i. 23. desert. Any uninhabited or sparsely inhabited wild country was called a 'desert' by the Elizabethans. The lack of vegetable and animal life was not implied in its meaning.
II. i. 38. tears. There are many references to the tears shed by a wounded or dying stag in Elizabethan literature.
II. i. 50. velvet. Other interpretations of velvet are: 'sleek and prosperous' (Aldis Wright); velvet is the technical term for the outer covering of the horns of a stag in the early stages of their growth. Here Velvet' seems to be equivalent to 'delicate' (Neil).
II. i. 52. flux of company. I.e., 'the continuous stream of people, or friendships.'
II. iii. 12. No . . . yours. I.e., 'your graces serve you to no better purpose.'
II. iii. 37. diverted blood. I.e., 'natural affection turned into a false channel.'
II. iii. 43. ravens. Cf. Job 38. 41. 'Who provideth for the raven his food?'
II. iii. 50. Nor . . . not. The double negative, with the force of a single negative, occurs in several places throughout this play.
II. iii. 74. a week. Probably a proverbial method of expression, with a slightly ironical implication, viz., 'eighty years of age is at least a week too late to begin a career of adventure.'
II. iv. 43. thy wound. The First Folio has 'they would,' which obviously does not make sense. The later Folios read 'their wound.' The present emendation, 'thy wound,' comes from Rowe.
II. iv. 51. peascod. 'The peascod is the husk or pod which contains the peas, but it here appears to be used for the plant itself (Wright). 'Touchstone surely means that he took both the cods from, and returned them to, the peascod, the representative of his mistress' (Staunton). There is a Suffolk superstition current today in which peascods play a part in love omens.
II. v. 3. turn. It has been suggested that this is a misprint for 'tune.' There is, however, good authority for this use of 'turn' in the sense given in the gloss.
II. v. 27. dog-apes. I.e., dog-faced baboons (?).
II. v. 54. ducdame. In spite of the plain warning given by Jaques of the purpose of his refrain, a number of scholars have made laborious guesses at its etymology.
II. v. 61. first-born of Egypt. Cf. Exodus 11. 4–5. 'And Moses said, Thus saith the Lord, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die . . .'
II. vii. 6. spheres. According to the Ptolemaic system of astronomy, the planets revolved in crystal spheres which made heavenly harmonies in their turnings.
II. vii. 16. rail'd . . . Fortune. I.e., apparently because the lady had not, in Touchstone's case, lived up to the proverb that 'fortune favors fools.'
II. vii. 28. thereby . . . tale. I.e., the commonplace story of every man.
II. vii. 30. chanticleer. I.e., 'laugh in triumph at my discovery, like the crowing of Chanticleer, the cock.'
II. vii. 44. my only suit. A pun on the two meanings 'my only request' and 'the only dress for me.'
II. vii. 73. weary very. A satisfactory paraphrase has not as yet been made. The general idea seems to be: 'pride flows in as vast a stream as the sea until its very sources begin to ebb—i.e., exhaust themselves.' The line is probably corrupt.
II. vii. 79—82. I.e., 'or who is he of lowest office, or employment, that says his fine clothes are not at my expense, thinking I mean him, but by so saying fits his folly to the substance of my speech?'
II. vii. 96. inland. To be 'inland bred' was to be educated among cultured surroundings, not among 'outlanders' (foreigners) nor 'uplanders' (peasants).
II. vii. 139. All . . . stage. The phrase goes back to classical antiquity and had appeared in English drama before Shakespeare's day.
II. vii. 143. seven ages. This seems to have been a common number into which to divide the life of man. Seven was itself a mystic number.
II. vii. 167. venerable burden. There is a tradition, not well authenticated, that Shakespeare himself played the part of Adam and, in this role, was borne upon the stage on another man's back.
III. i. 6. candle. Probably a reference to Luke 15. 8. 'Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?' (Steevens).
III. i. 17. extent. A legal term derived from 'extendi facias,' a writ seizing house and lands upon the forfeiture of a debt. It is not here used in its strict legal sense, since the seizure is an act of arbitrary power on the Duke's part.
III. ii. 68. worms-meat. The idea that man's bodily fate is ultimately to feed worms occurs several times in Shakespeare; for example, in Hamlet, IV. iii.
III. ii. 76. incision. 'Bloodletting' by an incision was regarded by the Elizabethans as a cure for most ills.
III. ii. 88. cuckoldy. I.e., because of the symbolical horns upon his head. Another example of the inexhaustible Elizabethan jest concerning the imaginary horns upon the forehead of a husband whose wife had proved unfaithful.
III. ii. 104. butter-women's rank. I.e., these verses amble monotonously along like files of butter-women riding nags to market.
III. ii. 137. civil sayings. Sayings relating to orderly social life such as are illustrated by the examples cited in the lines immediately following.
III. ii. 140. span. Cf. the Prayer-Book, Psalm 39. 6. 'Behold, thou hast made my days as it were a span long.'
III. ii. 148. quintessence. A term in alchemy. The fifth essence of ancient and mediaeval philosophy, supposed to be the substance of which the heavenly bodies were composed, and to be actually latent in all things: hence, pure essence or extract, essential part of a thing (Murray).
III. ii. 156. Atalanta's better part. To rid herself of her suitors, because an oracle had warned her not to marry, she challenged them in turn to a footrace. Overtaking them in the race she would smite them in the back with a spear, until Hippomenes finally conquered her with the aid of the three golden apples given him by Aphrodite. Her 'better part' clearly, therefore, is her swiftness of foot.
III. ii. 164. Jupiter. Spedding altered 'Jupiter' to 'pulpiter' (i.e., preacher) and in this he has been followed by many recent editors. The change though ingenious is not absolutely required by the sense or context, and therefore, the present editor has returned to the reading of the First Folio.
III. ii. 185. seven . . . nine. There is an old proverbial saying that any marvelous event will cause 'a nine days' wonder' (Capell).
III. ii. 187. palm-tree. The strange flora and fauna of the forest of Arden have already been commented upon.
III. ii. 188. Pythagoras' . . . rat. Pythagoras believed in the transmigration of men's souls into the bodies of animals. As for Irish rats, there are many references to the power of Irish witches and rhymers to rhyme rats to death.
III. ii. 195. hard . . . meet. Possibly an inverted reference to the proverb 'Friends may meet, but mountains never greet' (Steevens).
III. ii. 205. Good my complexion. An exclamation of Rosalind's that has puzzled commentators. Rosalind swears by her woman's temperament which, she explains, naturally contains a large measure of feminine curiosity, or 'Rosalind appeals to her complexion not to betray her by changing color' (Wright).
III. ii. 207. One . . . discovery. I.e., 'Each inch of delay makes me await the impending disclosure with the eager anticipation one has for South Sea discoveries'; or, 'A moment's delay will dissolve my whole womanhood.' Commentators are in wide disagreement over the meaning of this sentence.
III. ii. 217. God's making. I.e., 'or his tailor's.' Cf. Twelfth Night, I. v. 256.
III. ii. 239. Gargantua's mouth. Gargantua was a giant who swallowed five pilgrims in a salad (Rabelais, Book I, chapter xxxviii). The story of Gargantua was known in England before any translation of Rabelais had appeared.
III. ii. 251. Jove's tree. The oak was sacred to Jupiter.
III. ii. 289. goldsmiths' wives . . . rings. Rings which were given as love tokens had engraved upon the inside 'posies' or love mottoes. Cf. Hamlet, III. ii. 163. Jaques implies that Orlando has secured permission from the goldsmiths' wives to memorize the pretty sayings in the rings they had for sale.
III. ii. 291. painted cloth. Tapestries or paintings of scenes from familiar stories, often accompanied by brief explanatory legends, whence Orlando charges Jaques with having learned his commonplace sayings. Cf. Henry IV, pt. I, IV. ii. 27, 'slaves as ragged as Lazarus in the painted cloth.'
III. ii. 389. quotidian. According to Euphuistic love-making, quotidian fevers were a symptom of violent love.
III. ii. 449. liver. The liver was regarded by Elizabethans as the seat of love.
III. iii. 5. features. There is a jest here, caused by Audrey's misunderstanding, whose meaning has been lost. There are numerous conjectures but none satisfactory.
III. iii. 8. capricious . . . Goths. The pun is a double one on the word 'goats.' 'Capricious' is derived from the Latin 'capra,' a goat. 'Goths' was probably pronounced by the Elizabethans to sound like 'goats.' Ovid dwelt, during his exile, among the Getae on the shore of the Black Sea.
III. iii. 14. strikes . . . room. I. e., 'is more overwhelming than an excessive bill for the poor accommodation of a private room in an inn.'
III. iii. 49. gods . . . joy. From other references in Elizabethan literature this phrase appears to be equivalent to an acknowledgment of marriage.
III. iv. 7. dissembling. Red or auburn hair was supposed to indicate a deceitful person.
III. iv. 8. Judas's. Mediaeval tradition assigns red, hence a 'dissembling colour,' to Judas' hair.
III. iv. 11. your chestnut. In this sense 'your chestnut' means 'chestnut in general.'
III. iv. 16. winter's sisterhood. Used figuratively of nuns dedicated to the 'ice of chastity.'
III. iv. 43. traverse. An allusion to the disgrace of breaking one's lance across one's opponent's body, instead of lengthways (Onions).
III. v. 7. dies and lives. Equivalent to live and die, i.e., subsist from the cradle to the grave (Arrowsmith).
III. v. 39. dark. I.e., 'If you depend upon your beauty to illuminate you, you will be left in the dark' (Wright).
III. v. 47. bugle. 'A tube shaped glass bead, usually black' (Murray).
III. v. 62. Foul . . . scoffer. Abbott paraphrases: 'foulness is most foul when its foulness consists in being a scoffer.'
III. v. 81. Dead shepherd. The 'saw' which Phebe quotes is from Marlowe's Hero and Leander, which was first printed in 1598. The 'dead shepherd' is therefore Marlowe (d. 1593) and the reference to the poem gives a possible clue to the date of this play.
III. v. 123. mingled damask. 'Damask' was applied both to roses and to a silken material. Here, of course, the phrase refers to a color. A 'mingled damask' rose would be flush pink in tint.
IV. i. 8. censure. I.e., 'Those who run to extremes either of mirth or melancholy expose themselves to the ill opinion of the everyday world worse even than do drunkards.'
IV. i. 40. swam . . . gondola. Venice was the Mecca of the young Elizabethan fop. Rosalind means that without these affectations which travelers usually bring back from abroad, it will be difficult for her to believe that Jaques has really been to Venice and ridden in a gondola.
IV. i. 109. chroniclers. Thus set down in the First Folio, although some editors have altered it to 'coroners.'
IV. i. 145. there's . . . goes. I.e., 'There's a girl who goes faster than the priest.'
IV. i. 161. Diana . . . fountain. Diana was a frequent subject for Renaissance fountains. It is not necessary to suppose that Shakespeare had any particular fountain in mind. The 'weeping' naturally refers to the water gushing from the fountain, and not to any sad story of Diana.
IV. i. 174. 'Wit . . . wilt.' A phrase of proverbial purport, whose meaning is now somewhat obscure. Perhaps it means, 'Whither away? Restrain your tendency to roam.' Or, 'Do not let your wit desert you.'
IV. i. 184. husband's occasion. I.e., 'occasioned by her husband,' or 'the woman who cannot make her offence against her husband seem a special service to him.'
IV. i. 216. bird . . . nest. A reference to the proverb, 'It is a foul bird that defiles its own nest.'
IV. ii. 5. branch. A quibble on 'palm-branch,' an emblem of victory, and on the division of a deer's horn called a 'branch.'
IV. ii. 12 S. d. The . . . burden. This apparent stage direction is printed in the First Folio as a part of the song.
IV. iii. 18. phoenix. There was never but one phoenix in the world at one time. After several hundred years this miraculous bird would burn itself to ashes, and from these ashes would arise another.
IV. iii. 34. Turk . . . Christian. In the old Christmas mumming plays the Turkish knight challenged the Christian to combat with many 'strange oaths' in the name of 'Mahound.'
IV. iii. 54. aspect. A term from astrology. In 'mild aspect' meant in 'a favorable conjunction.'
IV. iii. 119. royal. The lion was supposed not to touch any who submitted or lay prostrate before him on the ground. The lion accepted this as the proper homage to the king of beasts.
V. i. 49. ipse is he. Touchstone is punning on the current use of the phrase 'ipse he,' i.e., the man himself, the man of the hour, with special reference to a successful lover. Cf. Lyly's Euphues (ed. Croll, p. 92): 'though Curio be . . . Ipse, he.'
V. ii. 21. fair sister. 'Oliver enters into Orlando's humour in regarding the apparent Ganymede as Rosalind' (Wright).
V. ii. 35. thrasonical. This adjective is derived from the name of a boastful character in the Eunuchus of Terence, and had come into English before Shakespeare's day.
V. ii. 36. 'I . . . overcame.' Caesar's famous dispatch was 'veni, vidi, vici.'
V. ii. 44. incontinent. The second time this word is used it has its present-day meaning.
V. ii. 46. clubs. 'Clubs' was the rallying cry of the London 'prentices, who used these weapons in their not infrequent riots. It is with this in mind that Rosalind uses the word.
V. ii. 62-65. neither . . . good. I.e., 'nor am I seeking any further favorable opinion than that degree of trust in my powers which will conduce to your own good.'
V. ii. 69. damnable. I.e., Rosalind means that his magic was not 'black art' but lawful spells, not contrary to the teachings of the Church.
V. ii. 79. though . . . magician. A statute of Elizabeth provided severe penalties for magicians who used their art to cause harm.
V. ii. 105. The First Folio has 'observance,' which already appears in line 103. Clearly, therefore, the second 'observance' is a careless substitution by the compositor. Probably the original word resembled in lettering 'observance' and thus caught the printer napping. In addition to 'obedience,' which the present editor follows Malone in inserting, other suggestions are 'obeisance,' 'endurance,' and 'deservance.'
V. ii. 116. Irish wolves. Why Rosalind prefers to go to Ireland for her zoological allusions,—cf. her 'Irish rats'—is not certain, unless the animals of Erin share in the Celtic temperament. There were no wolves in England at this time, but they were still to be found in Scotland. As between the two, an Irish wolf would probably make more noise.
V. iii. 17. Song. The First Folio arranges this Song in a different order. The stanza 'And therefore . . . prime' is there printed as part of the chorus. Music for this song will be found on p. 205 of Chapell's Popular Music of the Olden Time.
V. iv. 4. As . . . fear. I.e., 'As those who hope against hope and yet fear that they know their hopes to be vain.' Nearly all the commentators have different paraphrases. The present editor offers still another.
V. iv. 44. put . . . purgation. I.e., 'Let him test me thoroughly,' with a quibble on the medical meaning of the word. Cf. Hamlet, III. ii. 323.
V. iv. 47. undone three tailors. I.e., 'like a true courtier, I have ruined three tailors by not paying my bills.'
V. iv. 56. desire . . . like. I.e., 'I desire this "like" of yours.' With a quibble on 'like' as an adjective.
V. iv. 95. book. There were several books on fencing and the proper methods to follow in challenging an opponent. Possibly Shakespeare is here ridiculing a treatise by Vincentio Saviolo (Second Book 1594; First Book 1595). Cf. also Mercutio's mockery, in Romeo and Juliet, of the elaborate terms used in Italian fencing. Shakespeare probably had in mind the type and not a particular book.
V. iv. 112. stalking-horse. A real or artificial horse behind which a fowler hid when pursuing his game.
V. iv. 114 S. d. Hymen. The Greek and Roman god of marriage, represented as a young man carrying a torch and veil. As Rosalind's appearance is supposed to be caused by magic, she has carried out her plan as an allegorical masque in which she has some shepherd swain take the part of Hymen.
V. iv. 121, 122. In the First Folio the pronoun throughout these two lines is 'his.' The alteration of 'his' to 'her' where this occurs in the present text was suggested by Malone. A case can, however, by casuistry be made for the reading of the Folio.
V. iv. 127. sight and shape. I.e., if all this is not magic and Phebe may trust the evidence of her eyesight, 'why then, etc.'
V. iv. 155. Even daughter. I.e., 'you are welcome both as niece and daughter.'
Epil. 1. the lady. It was rare in Shakespeare's day for a female character to speak the epilogue, as these rôles were taken by boy actors who were, usually, not the most important actors in the company.
Epil. 4. wine . . . bush. The sign of an inn was often the branch of a tree hung over the door. This gave rise to the proverb, 'good wine needs no bush,' for it advertises itself.
Epil. 18. If . . . woman. Rosalind is not a woman, for the part is being played by a boy actor.