« PreviousContinue »
SCENE I. Rousillon. A Room in the Countess's
Enter BERTRAM, the Countess of Rousillon,
Helena, and LaFeu, in mourning. Count. In delivering my son from me, I bury a second husband.
Ber. And I, in going, madam, weep o'er my ther'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
I-in ward,] Under his particular care, as my guardian, till I come to age. It is row almost forgotten in England, that the heirs of great fortunes were the King's wards. Whether the same practice prevailed in France, it is of no great use to enquire, for Shakspeare gives to all nations the manners of England.
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 tiine.
Count. This young gentlewoman had a father, (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, madam?
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.
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, there commendations go with pity, they are virtues and traitors 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 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 too."
Laf. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the living.
virtuous qualities,] By virtuous qualities are meant qualities of good breeding and erudition, and not moral ones.
WARBURTON. 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. Vire tues 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 us much by his judgment as his passions. Johnson.
all livelihood -] i.e. all appearance of life. I do affect a sorrow, indeed, but I have it too.] Helena has, I believe, a mearing 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.
Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.
Ber. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
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! 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. .
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, It 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 ercess. 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.
7 That thee may furnish,] That may help thee with more and better qualifications.
Hel. 0, were that all!—I think not on my father;8 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 trick of his sweet favour: But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancy Must sanctify his relicks. Who comes here?
One that goes with him: I love him for his sake;
* Laf. Farewell, pretty lady: You must hold the credit of your father. Hel. 0, were that all!
I think not on my father ;] Would that the attention to maintain the credit of my father, (or, not to act unbecoming the 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.
. 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.
* In our heart's table;] A table was, in our author's time, a term for a picture, in which sense it is used here.
- trick of his sweet furour:] Trick is an expression taken from drawing ; but on the present occasion may mean neither tracing nor outline, but peculiarity. VOL. III.