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Ber. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
Count. Be thou blest, Bertram! and succeed thy father
Laf He cannot want the best
[Exit Count. Ber. The best wishes, that can be forged in your thoughts, (to Hel.] be servants to you!3 Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her.
Laf. Farewel, pretty lady: You must hold the credit of your father.
[Exeunt BER. and LAF. Hel. O, were that all I think not on my father;4
2 That thee may furnish,] That may help thee with more and better qualifications. Fohnson.
3 The best wishes, &c.] That is, may you be mistress of your wishes, and have power to bring them to effect. Fohnson.
4 Laf. Farewel, pretty lady: You must hold the credit of your father.
Hel. O, were that all!-I think not on my father;] This passage has been passed over in silence by all the commentators, yet it is evidently defective. The only meaning that the speech of Lafeu will bear, as it now stands, is this: " That Helena, who was a young girl, ought to keep up the credit which her father had established, who was the best physician of the age; and she, by her answer, 0, were that all! seems to admit that it would be no difficult matter for her to do so.” The absurdity of this is evident; and the words will admit of no other interpretation. Some alteration therefore is necessary; and that which I propose is, to read uphold, instead of must hold, and then the meaning will be this: Lafeu, observing that Helena had shed a torrent of tears, which he and the Countess both ascribe to her grief for her fa
And these great tears: grace his remembrance more Than those I shed for him. What was he like? I have forgot him: my imagination Carries no favour in it, but Bertram's. I am undone; there is no living, none, If Bertram be away. It were all one, That I should love a bright particular star, And think to wed it, he is so above me: In his bright radiance and collateral light Must I be comforted, not in his sphere. ther, says, that she upholds the credit of her father, on this prin. ciple, that the surest proof that can be given of the merit of a person deceased, are the lamentations of those who survive him. But Helena, who knows her own heart, wishes that she had no other cause of grief, except the loss of her father, whom she thinks no more of." M. Mason.
0, were that all! &c.] Would that the attention to maintain the credit of my father, (or, not to act unbecoming the daugh. ter of such a father,--for such perhaps is the meaning) were my only solicitude! I think not of him. My cares are all for Ber. tram. Malone.
these great tears --] The tears which the King and Countess shed for him. Fohnson.
And these great tears grace his remembrance more
Than those I shed for hiin.] Johnson supposes that, by these great tears, Helena means the tears which the King and the Countess shed for her father; but it does not appear that either of those great persons had shed tears for him, though they spoke of him with regret. By these great tears, Helena does not mean the tears of great people, but the big and copious tears she then shed herself, which were caused in reality by Bertram's depar. ture, though attributed by Lafeu and the Countess, to the loss of her father; and from this misapprehension of theirs, graced his remembrance more than those she actually shed for him. What she calls gracing his remembrance, is what Lafeu had styled before, upholding his credit, the two passages tending to explain each other.---It is scarcely necessary to make this grammatical observation-That if Helena had alluded to any tears supposed to have been shed by the King, she would have said those tears, not these, as the latter pronoun must necessarily refer to something present at the time. M. Mason.
6 In his bright radiance and collateral light &c.] I cannot be united with him and move in the same sphere, but must be comforted at a distance by the radiance that shoots on all sides from him. Johnson So, in Milton's Paradise Lost, B. X:
- from his radiant seat he rose
The ambition in my love thus plagues itself:
7 'Twas pretty, though a plague,
To see him every hour ; to sit and draw
“Mine eye hath play'd the painter, and hath steel'd
“Thy beauty's form in table of my heart." A table was in our anthor's time a term for a picture, in which sense it is used here. Tableau, French. So, on a picture painted in the time of Queen Elizabeth, in the possession of the Hon. Horace Walpole:
“ The queen to Walsingham this table sent,
“ Mark of her people's and her own content.” Malone. Table here only signifies the board on which any picture was painted. So, in Mr. Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England, Vol. I, p. 58: “ Item, one table with the picture of the Duchess of Milan.” Item, one table with the pictures of the King's Majesty and Queen Jane :" &c. Helena would not have talked of drawing Bertram's picture in her heart's picture; but considers her heart as the tablet or surface on which his resemblance was to be pourtrayed. Steevens.
trick of his sweet favour :) So, in King Fohn: "he hath a trick of Cour de Lion's face." Trick seems to be some peculiarity or feature. Fohnson.
Trick is an expression taken from drawing, and is so explained in King Fohn, Act I, sc. i. The present instance explains itself:
to sit and draw His arched brows, &c.
and trick of his sweet favour. Trick, however, on the present occasion, may mean neither tracing nor outline, but peculiarity. Steevens.
Tricking is used by heralds for the delineation and colouring of arms, &c. Malone.
That they take place, when virtue's steely bones
Par. Save you, fair queen.
9 Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.] Cold for naked; as superfluous for over-clothed. This makes the propriety of the antithesis. Warburton.
1 And you, monarch.) Perhaps here is some allusion designed to Monarcho, a ridiculous fantastical character of the age of Shakspeare. Concerning this person, see the notes on Love's Labour's Lost, Act IV, sc. i. Steevens.
2 And no.] I am no more a queen than you are a monarch, or Monarcho. Malone.
stain of soldier-] Stain for colour. Parolles was in red, as appears from his being afterwards called red-taild humble-bee.
Warburton. It does not appear from either of these expressions, that Parolles was entirely drest in red. Shakspeare writes only some stain of soldier, meaning in one sense that he had red breeches on, (which is sufficiently evident from calling him afterwards redtail'd humble-bee) and in another, that he was a disgrace to sol. diery. Stain is used in an adverse sense by Shakspeare, in Troilus and Cressida: “
nor any man an attaint, but he carries some stain of it."
Mr. M. Mason observes on this occasion that “though a red coat is now the mark of a soldier in the British service, it was not so in the days of Shakspeare, when we had no standing ar. my, and the use of armour still prevailed.” To this I reply, that the colour red has always been annexed to soldiership. Chaucer, in his Knight's Tale, v. 1749, has “ Mars the rede," and Boccace has given Mars the same epithet in the opening of his Theseida: “O rubicondo Marte.” Steevens.
I take the liberty of making one observation respecting Steevens's note on this passage, which is, that when Chaucer talks of Mars the red, and Boccace of the rubicondo Marte, they both allude to the countenance and complexion of the god, not to his clothes; but as Lafeu, in Act IV, sc. y, calls Parolles the redtailed humble-bee, it is probable that the colour of his dress was in Helena's contemplation. M. Mason.
Stain rather for what we now say tincture, some qualities, at least superficial, of a soldier. Johnson.
let me ask you a question: Man is enemy to virginity; how may we barricado it against him?
Par. Keep him out.
Hel. But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant in the defence, yet is weak: unfold to us some warlike resistance.
Par. There is none; man, sitting down before you, will undermine you, and blow you up.
Hel. Bless our poor virginity from underminers, and blowers up!Is there no military policy, how virgins might blow up men?
Par. Virginity, being blown down, man will quicklier be blown up: marry, in blowing him down again, with the breach yourselves made, you lose your city. It is not politick in the commonwealth of nature, to preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational increase;s and there was never virgin got, till virginity was first lost. That, you were made of, is metal to make virgins. Virginity, by being once lost, may be ten times found: by being ever kept, it is ever lost: 'tis too cold a companion; away with it.
Hel. I will stand for 't a little, though therefore I die a virgin.
Par. There's little can be said in 't; 'tis against the rule of nature. To speak on the part of virginity, is to accuse your mothers; which is most infallible disobedi. ence. He, that hangs himself, is a virgin: virginity murders itself;6 and should be buried in highways, out of all sanctified limit, as a desperate offendress against
with the breach yourselves made, you lose your city.] So, in our author's Lover's Complaint:
“ And long upon these terms I held my city,
“Till thus he 'gan besiege me.” Again, in The Rape of Lucrece:
“ This makes in him more rage, and lesser pity,
“To make the breach, and enter this sweet city. Malone. Loss of virginity is rational increase ;] I believe we should read, national. Tyrwhitt.
Rational increase may mean the regular increase by which rational beings are propagated. Steevens.
6 He, that hangs himself, is a virgin: virginity murders itself ;] i.e. he that hangs himself, and a virgin, are in this circumstance alike; they are both self-destroyers. Malone.