« AnteriorContinuar »
mendations go with pity, they are virtues and trai. tors too; in her they are the better for their simpleness;' 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
Again, in Marlowe's Tamburlaine, p. 1, 1590 :
6 If these had made one poem's period,
they are virtues and traitors too; in her they are the better for their simpleness ;] Her virtues are the better for their simpleness, that is, her excellencies are the better because they are artless and open, without fraud, without design. The learned commentator has well explained virtues, but has not, I think, reached the force of the word traitors, and therefore has not shown the full extent of Shakspeare's masterly observation. Virtues in an unclean mind are virtues and traitors too. Estimable and useful qualities, joined with an evil disposition, give that evil disposition power over others, who, by admiring the virtue, are betrayed to the malevolence. The Tatler, mentioning the sharpers of his time, observes, that some of them are men of such elegance and knowledge, that a young man who falls into their way, is betrayed as much by his judgment as his passions. Johnson. In As
you like it,' virtues are called traitors on a very different ground:
to some kind of men
“ Envenoms him that bears it!” Malone,
- can season her praise in.) To season has here a culinary sense; to preserve by salting. A passage in TwelfthNight will best explain its meaning:
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.8
HEL. I do affect a sorrow, indeed, but I have it too.
LAF. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the living.
all this to season
“ And lasting in her remembrance." MALONE. So, in Chapman's version of the third Iliad:
“ Season'd with tears her joys, to see,” &c. STEEVENS. all livelihood -- ] i, e. all appearance of life.
STEEVENS. lest it be rather thought you affect a sorrow, than to have.] Our author sometimes is guilty of such slight inaccura
and concludes a sentence as if the former part of it had been constructed differently. Thus, in the present instance, he seems to have meant-lest you be rather thought to affect a sorrow,
than to have. MALONE. 9 I do affect a sorrow, indeed, but I have it too.] Helena has, I believe, a meaning here, that she does not wish should be understood by the countess. Her affected sorrow was for the death of her father; her real grief for the lowness of her situation, which she feared would for ever be a bar to her union with her beloved Bertram. Her own words afterwards fully support this interpretation : I think not on my
What was he like?
“ I am undone." MALONE. The sorrow that Helen affected, was for her father ; that which she really felt, was for Bertram's departure. The line should be particularly attended to, as it tends to explain some subsequent passages which have hitherto been misunderstood.
Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.
Ber. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
down, Fall on thy head! Farewell.-My lord, 'Tis an unseason'd courtier; good my lord, Advise him.
If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.] Lafeu says, excessive grief is the enemy of the living: the Countess replies, If the living be an enemy to grief, the excess soon makes it mortal : that is, If the living do not indulge grief, grief destroys itself by its own excess. By the word mortal I understand that which dies; and Dr. Warburton (who reads -be not enemy-] that which destroys. I think that my interpretation gives a sentence more acute and more refined. Let the reader judge. Johnson.
A passage in The Winter's Tale, in which our author again speaks of grief destroying itself by its own excess, adds support to Dr. Johnson's interpretation:
scarce any joy
“ But kill'd itself much sooner.”
“ These violent delights have violent ends,
“ And in their triumph die.” MALONE. . That thee may furnish,] That may help thee with more and better qualifications. JOHNSON. VOL. VIII.
LAF. He cannot want the best That shall attend his love.
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.
LAF. Farewell, pretty lady: You must hold the credit of your father.
[Exeunt BERTRAM and LAFEU HEL. O, were that all!—I think not on my fa
3 The best wishes, &c.] That is, may you be mistress of your wishes, and have power to bring them to effect. Johnson.
· Laf. Farewell, pretty lady: You must hold the credit of your
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 father, says, that she upholds the credit of her father, on this principle, that the surest proof that can be given of the merit of a person deceased, are the lamentations of those who survive him. Bui 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.
O, were that all ! &c.] Would that the attention to maintain the credit of my father, (or, not to act unbecoming the
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.
daughter of such a father,- for such perhaps is the meaning,) were my only solicitude! I think not of him. My cares are all for Bertram. MALONE.
these great tears —] The tears which the King and Countess shed for him. JOHNSON.
And these great tears grace his remembrance more
Than those I shed for him.] 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 departure, 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 ob tion-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.
• 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