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King of France.
Duke of Florence.
Bertram, Count of Rousillon.
Lafeu, an old Lord.
Parolles, a follower of Bertram.
Several young French Lords, that serve with Bertram in the Florentine war.
servants to the Countess of Rousillon.
Countess of Rousillon, mother to Bertram. Helena, a gentlewoman protected by the Countess. An old Widow of Florence.
Diana, daughter to the widow.
Marina, neighbours and friends to the widow.
Lords, attending on the King; Officers, Soldiers, &c. French and Florentine.
Scene, partly in France, and partly in Tuscany.
SCENE I-Rousillon. A Room in the Coun tess's Palace. Enter Bertram, the Countess of Rousillon, Helena, and Lafeu, in mourning. Countess.
IN delivering my son from me, I bury a second
Ber. And I, in going, madam, weep o'er my father's death anew: but I must attend his majesty's command, to whom I am now in ward, evermore in subjection.
Laf. You shall find of the king a husband, madam;-you, sir, a father: He that so generally is at all times good, must of necessity hold his virtue to you; whose worthiness would stir it up where it wanted, rather than lack it where there is such abundance.
Count. What hope is there of his majesty's amendment?
Laf. He hath abandoned his physicians, madam; under whose practices he hath persecuted time with hope; and finds no other advantage in the process but only the losing of hope by time.
Count. This young gentlewoman had a father
(1) Under his particular care, as my guardian.
(O, that had! how sad a passage 'tis !) whose skill was almost as great as his honesty; had it stretched so far, would have made nature immortal, and death should have play for lack of work. 'Would, for the king's sake, he were living! I think, it would be the death of the king's disease.
Laf. How called you the man you speak of,
Count. He was famous, sir, in his profession, and it was his great right to be so: Gerard de Narbon.
Laf. He was excellent, indeed, madam; the king very lately spoke of him, admiringly, and mourningly he was skilful enough to have lived still, if knowledge could be set up against mortality. Ber. What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of?
Laf. A fistula, my lord.
Ber. I heard not of it before.
Laf. I would, it were not notorious.-Was this gentlewoman the daughter of Gerard de Narbon? Count. His sole child, my lord; and bequeathed to my overlooking. I have those hopes of her good, that her education promises: her dispositions she inherits, which make fair gifts fairer; for where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities,2 there commendations go with pity, they are virtues and traitors too; in her they are the better for their simpleness;3 she derives her honesty, and achieves her goodness.
Laf. Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.
Count. 'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise in. The remembrance of her father
(1) The countess recollects her own loss of a husband, and observes how heavily had passes through her mind.
(2) Qualities of good breeding and erudition. (3) i. e. Her excellencies are the better because they are artless.
never approaches her heart, but the tyranny of her sorrows takes all livelihood! from her cheek. No more of this, Helena, go to, no more; lest it be rather thought you affect a sorrow, than to have. Hel. I do affect a sorrow, indeed, but I have it
Laf. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the living.
Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.
Ber. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
Count. Be thou blest, Bertram! and succeed thy father
In manners, as in shape! thy blood, and virtue,
Fall on thy head! Farewell.-My lord,
Laf. He cannot want the best
Count. Heaven bless him!-Farewell, Bertram. [Exit Countess. Ber. The best wishes, that can be forged in your thoughts, [To Helena] be servants to you!3 Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make
much of her.
(1) All appearance of life.
(2) i. e. That may help thee with more and better qualifications.
(3) i. e. May you be mistress of your wishes and have power to bring them to effect.
Laf. Farewell, pretty lady: You must hold the credit of your father. [Exe. Bertram and Lafeu. Hel. O, were that all !—I think not on my father; 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. The ambition in my love thus plagues itself: The hind, that would be mated by the lion, Must die for love. 'Twas pretty, though a plague, To see him every hour; to sit and draw His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls, In our heart's table; heart, too capable Of every line and trick2 of his sweet favour :3 But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancy Must sanctify his relics. Who comes here?
One that goes with him: I love him for his sake;
Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;
That they take place, when virtue's steely bones
Look bleak in the cold wind: withal, full oft we see Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.
Par. Save you, fair queen.
Hel. And you, monárch.
Hel. And no.
Par. Are you meditating on virginity?
(1) Helena considers her heart as the tablet on which his resemblance was portrayed.
(2) Peculiarity of feature. (3) Countenance.