« AnteriorContinuar »
All yet seems well; and, if it end so meet,
The King's a beggar, now the play is done:
NOTES ON ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
13." to whom I am now in ward" :— By a feudal
custom, often alluded to in old writers, the infant heirs of titles and estates which had been granted or confirmed by the crown, in consideration of any kind of service, were wards of the King, who exercised a power quite absolute over them, even to giving them in marriage.
t! "You shall find of the King a husband" : — This pure
ly French construction is noteworthy. It is a literal rendering of the French idiom, Vous trouverez de le Roi un mari. Had the Scene and characters of the play an influence in producing it?
'" rather than lack it" : — Theobald, on Warbur
ton's suggestion, read "slack it." This is plausible, but needless; for it is quite in Shakespeare's manner to use 'lack' transitively.
14." would have made Nature immortal" :— In this
sentence there is no nominative for 'would' expressed; but 'it,' referring to «skill,' is so clearly impressed upon the mind as the subject, that the grammatical need is not noticed except upon particular observation. The nominative was frequently omitted in such cases by our earlier writers. Mr. Singer prints "'twould."
""A fistula, my lord": — The nature of the disease which Helena cured appears more fully in the novel than in the play. This is the corresponding passage in the former: "She heard by reporte that the Frenche Kyng had a swellyng upon his breast, whiche by reason of ill cure, was growen to be a fistula, which did putte him to marveilous pain and grief," &c.
"in her they are the better for their simpleness":
VOL. V. H (113)
— Hanmer read, "her simpleness," which, as the virtuous qualities spoken of by the Countess, are such as are acquired by education and self-discipline, is a more than plausible suggestion.
p. 15." all livelihood from her cheek" : — We would
now say, " all livelmm."
"I do affect a sorrow" : — It must be remembered that 'affect' was used to mean «incline to' as well as ' pretend to.' The Countess uses it in the latter sense, Helena in the former.
,; "Count. If the living be enemy," &c.:— This speech has been found obscure; yet it is but an antithetical conceit, such as the writers of Shakespeare's day were addicted to; and it means only that if there be such enmity between the living and the grief, an excess of the latter will prove fatal. So Sir Toby Belch says, (Twelfth Night, Act I. Sc. 3,) "I am sure care's an enemy to life." But many editors, following Tieck's suggestion, assign the speech to Helena, as a mysterious allusion to her love for Bertram, and as meaning, in Mr. Hudson's words, "that the grief of her unrequited love for him, makes mortal, that is, kills, the grief she felt at her father's death." But this, I venture to think, is only to replace a quibbling conceit by mysterious nonsense, and to put far too fine a point upon the matter. It should also be noticed that if this speech be assigned to Helena, Lafeu's question, excited by its quibbling nature, is not put until after Bertram has turned the attention of the audience by addressing another person, to wit, the Countess, whom he asks for her blessing; in which case Lafeu's query is presuming and discourteous, and the dramatic effect awkward. But if the Countess be the last speaker, as she is in the authentic copy, this is avoided.
"" Farewell. — My lord " : — Capell read, "My
lord Lafeu," for the sake of completing the measure; and it is by no means impossible that the name dropped away from the end of the line; but the mere lack of two syllables will not warrant the assumption that such was the case. There can be no doubt that Shakespeare purposely left many lines without the full complement of ten syllables. The same objection applies to the reading, in Helena's soliloquy, just below, "Carries no favour in't but only Bertram's," found in Mr. Collier's folio, and "but my Bertram's," which appears in Hanmer's edition. p. 16. "In our heart's table" : — Whatever was written or drawn upon was called a table. Thus in Hamlet, "the table of my memory," "my tables! meet it is, I set it down," &c. For the "trick of his sweet favour" we would now write 'the traits of his sweet countenance.'
p. 16. "And you, monarch" :— It has been thought that there is here an allusion to the fantastic Monarcho, mentioned in Loves Labour's Lost, Act IV. Sc. 1; and possibly there is. But it is more probable that Helena's reply is merely of the nature of Portia's, "What would my lord?" Merchant of Venice, Act II. Sc. 9. See the Note.
p. 18." within one year it will make itself two " : — The
original has "within ten yeare it will make it self two," which is manifestly wrong, for that is not "goodly increase ;" and yet, strangely enough, the equally manifest error of 'ten' for 'one' has been left to be corrected in this edition. Previous editors, including Mr. Collier, have misquoted the original, as " within ten years." Hanmer read, "within ten years it will make itself ten;" but with such increase as that, the principal could hardly fail to be much the worse. Steevens suggested, "within two years it will make itself two;" but this hardly accords with the usual course of nature, which is more nearly complied with by Malone's violent change, adopted by Mr. Singer, "within ten months it will make itself two." A year is, next to a day, the most remarkable and most frequently mentioned term of time, and the one within which the first fruits of marriage generally appear. [As the proofs of these Notes are passing through my hands, I notice in a recently issued Legislative Document this very misprint of ' ten' for «one.']
n a the brooch and the toothpick" : — It appears
that when the toothpick was first introduced from Prance it was used not in a quiet matter of course way, but quite demonstratively, and with something of a nourish, as part of "the varnish of a complete man." '( "Not my virginity yet" : —There is plainly an important hiatus here in the text. Helena's reply to the question of Parolles is decisive, and as brief as she can make it; and she proceeds directly to change the subject. But the remark upon which her speech turns is wanting. There can be no doubt that the Court was the subject of it, not only because she says in the last line "the Court's a learning place," but because in the courtly society of Shakespeare's day it was the fashion for gallants to avow themselves the admirers of some particular lady, and to address her as their phcenix, captain, humble ambition, or proud humility, or by other "fond adoptious Christendoms !" — Who forgets Sir Piercie Shafton in the Monastery! Capell was therefore on the right track when he read, "Not my virginity yet. You're for the Court."