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· HEL. I am a simple maid; and therein wealthiest,
Make choice; and, see,
1 LORD. And grant it. HEL. Thanks, sir ; all the rest is mute.?
...We blush, that thou should'st choose; but, be refus'd,
Let the white death &c.] In the original copy, these lines are pointed thus:
We blush that thou should'st choose, but be refus’d; . Let the white death sit on thy cheek for ever, &c. This punctuation has been adopted in all the subsequent editions. The present regulation of the text appears to me to afford a much clearer sense. " My blushes, (says Helen,) thus whisper me. We blush that thou should'st have the nomination of thy husband. However, choose him at thy peril. But, if thou be refused, let thy cheeks be for ever pale ; we will never revisit them again.”
· The blushes, which are here personified, could not be supposed to know that Helena would be refused, as, according to the former punctuation, they appear to do; and, even if the poet had meant this, he would surely have written “ - and be refused,” not “ — but be refused.”
Be refus'd means the same as thou being refused,”-or, “ be thou refused.” MALONE.
The white death is the chlorosis. JOHNSON.
The pestilence that ravaged England in the reign of Edward III. was called “ the black death.” ŠTEEVENS.
- all the rest is mute.] i.e. I have no more to say to you. So, Hamlet : " -- the rest is silence." STEEVENS.
LAF. I had rather be in this choice, than throw ames-ace : for my life. Hel. The honour, sir, that flames in your fair
2 LORD. No better, if you please.
My wish receive, Which great love grant! and so I take my leave.
LAF. Do all they deny her ?" An they were sons of mine, I'd have them whipped ; or I would send them to the Turk, to make eunuchs of. HEL. Be not afraid [To a Lord] that I your
hand should take;
LAF. These boys are boys of ice, they'll none have her: sure, they are bastards to the English; the French ne'er got them. HEL. You are too young, too happy, and too
good, To make yourself a son out of my blood.
4 LORD. Fair one, I think not so.
iames-ace-] i.e. the lowest chance of the dice. So, in The Ordinary, by Cartwright: " may I at my last stake, &c. throw ames-aces thrice together.” STEEVENS. · · Laf. Do all they deny her?] None of them have yet denied her, or deny her afterwards, but Bertram. The scene must be so regulated that Lafeu and Parolles talk at a distance, where they may see what passes between Helena and the lords, but not hear it, so that they know not by whom the refusal is made. JOHNSON.
LAF. There's one grape yet, - I am sure, thy father drank wine.—But if thou be'st not an ass, I am a youth of fourteen; I have known thee already. HEL. I dare not say, I take you ; [To BERTRAM]
but I give Me, and my service, ever whilst I live, Into your guiding power. This is the man. King. Why then, young Bertiam, take her, she's
thy wife. BER. My wife, my liege ? I shall beseech your
highness, In such a business give me leave to use * The help of mine own eyes.
Know'st thou not, Bertram, What she has done for me? BER.
Yes, my good lord ; But never hope to know why I should marry her. KING. Thou know'st, she has rais'd me from
my sickly bed. BER. But follows it, my lord, to bring me down Must answer for your raising? I know her well; She had her breeding at my father's charge: A poor physician's daughter my wife ! -Disdain Rather corrupt me ever!
• There's one grape yet,] This speech the three last editors (Theobald, Hanmer, and Warburton,] have perplexed themselves, by dividing between Lafeu and Parolles, without any authority of copies, or any improvement of sense. I have restored the old reading, and should have thought no explanation necessary, but that Mr. Theobald apparently misunderstood it.
Old Lafeu having, upon the supposition that the lady was refused, reproached the young lords as boys of ice, throwing his eyes on Bertram, who remained, cries out, There is one yet into whom his father put good, blood but I have known thee long enough to know thee for an ass. JOHNSON.
King. 'Tis only title ® thou disdain'st in her, the
which I can build up. Strange is it, that our bloods, Of colour, weight, and heat, pour'd all together, Would quite confound distinction, yet stand off In differences so mighty : If she be All that is virtuous, (save what thou dislik’st, A poor physician's daughter,) thou dislik'st Of virtue for the name : but do not so: From lowest place when virtuous things proceed, The place is dignified by the doer's deed : Where great additions swell,' and virtue none, It is a dropsied honour : good alone Is good, without a name; vileness is so :' The property by what it is should go,
6'Tis only title -] i. e. the want of title. Malone,
? Of colour, weight, and heat,] That is, which are of the same colour, weight, &c. MALONE
• From lowest place when virtuous things proceed,] The old copy has—whence. This easy correction (when) was prescribed by Dr. Thirlby. THEOBALD.
• Where great additions swell,] Additions are the titles and descriptions by which men are distinguished from each other.
good alone Is good, without a name ; vileness is so :] Shakspeare may mean, that external circumstances have no power over the real nature of things. Good alone (i. e. by itself) without a name (i. e. without the addition of titles) is good. Vileness is so (i. e, is itself.) Either of them is what its name implies:
“ The property by what it is should go,
STEEVENS. Steevens's last interpretation of this passage is very near being right; but I think it should be pointed thus:
- good alone
Not by the title. She is young, wise, fair ;
Meaning that good is good without any addition, and vileness would still be vileness, though we had no such name to distinguish it by. A similar expression occurs in Macbeth:
“ Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,
“ Yet grace must still look so." ; That is, grace would still be grace, as vileness would still be vileness. M. Mason.
The meaning is, -Good is good, independent on any worldly distinction or title: so vileness is vile, in whatever state it may appear. MALONE.
? In these to nature she's immediate heir;] To be immediate heir is to inherit without any intervening transmitter : thus she inherits beauty immediately from nature, but honour is transmitted by ancestors. Johnson.
- that is honour's scorn, .
And is not like the sire:] Perhaps we might read, more elegantly-as honour-born,-honourably descended: the child of honour. MALONE.
Honour's born, is the child of honour. Born is here used, as bairn still is in the North. HENLEY.
* And is not like the sire : Honours best thrive, &c.] The first folio omits-best; but the second folio supplies it, as it is necessary to enforce the sense of the passage, and complete its measure. STEEVENS.
The modern editors read-Honours best thrive ; in which they have followed the editor of the second folio, who introduced the word best unnecessarily; not observing that sire was used by our author, like fire, hour, &c. as a dissyllable. Malone.
Where is an example of sire, used as a dissyllable, to be found? Fire and hour were anciently written fier and hower ; and consequently the concurring vowels could be separated in pronunciation. STEEVENS.