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na, go to, no more; lest it be rather thought you affect a sorrow, than to have.s
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.
Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.1
lest it be rather thought you affect a sorrow, than to have.] Our author is sometimes guilty of such slight inaccuracies; 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 father;
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. This line should be particularly attended to, as it tends to explain some subsequent passages which have hitherto been misunderstood. M. Mason.
1 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 mortał 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.
Fohnson. 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,
Ber. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
Count. Be thou blest, Bertram! and succeed thy father
Laf. He cannot want the best
[Exit Count. Ber. The best wishes, that can be forged in your thoughts, [to HEL.] be servants to you!3 Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her.
Laf. Farewel, pretty lady: You must hold the credit of your father.
[Exeunt Ber, and LaF. Hel. O, were that all-I think not on my father;4
2 That thee may furnish,] That may help thee with more and better qualifications. Fohnson.
3 The best wishes, &c.] That is, may you be mistress of your wishes, and have power to bring them to effect. Johnson.
- 4 Laf. Farewel, pretty lady: You must hold the credit of your father.
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 fa
And these great tears5 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. ther, 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. But 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.
0, were that all! &c.] 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.
these great tears - ] The tears which the King and Countess shed for him. Fohnson.
And these great tears grace his remembrance more
Than those I shed for him.] Johnson supposes that, by these great tears, Heleną 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 observation-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 some thing present at the time. M. Mason.
6 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. Fohnson. So, in Milton's Paradise Lost, B. X:
from his radiant seat he rose
The ambition in my love thus plagues itself:
7 'Twas pretty, though a plague,
To see him every hour; to sit and draw
“Mine eye hath play'd the painter, and hath steeld
“ Thy beauty's form in table of my heart.” A table was in our author's time a term for a picture, in which sense it is used here. Tableau, French. So, on a picture painted in the time of Queen Elizabeth, in the possession of the Hon. Horace Walpole:
“ The queen to Walsingham this table sent,
“ Mark of her people's and her own content.” Malone. Table here only signifies the board on which any picture was painted. So, in Mr. Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England, Vol. I, p. 58: "Item, one table with the picture of the Duchess of Milan.” "Item, one table with the pictures of the King's Majesty and Queen Jane :" &c. Helena would not have talked of drawing Bertram's picture in her heart's picture; but considers her heart as the tablet or surface on which his resemblance was to be pourtrayed. Steevens.
8 — trick of his sweet favour :) So, in King John: “he hath a trick of Cæur de Lion's face." Trick seems to be some peculiarity or feature. Johnson.
Trick is an expression taken from drawing, and is so explained in King Fohn, Act I, sc. i. The present instance explains itself:
to sit and draw His arched brows, &c.
and trick of his sweet favour. Trick, however, on the present occasion, may mean neither tracing nor outline, but peculiarity. Steevens.
Tricking is used by heralds for the delineation and colouring of arms, &c. Malone.
That they take place, when virtue's steely bones
Par. Save you, fair queen.
9 Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.] Cold for naked; as superfluous for over-clothed. This makes the propriety of the antithesis. Warburton.
1 And you, monarch.] Perhaps here is some allusion designed to Monarcho, a ridiculous fantastical character of the age of Shakspeare. Concerning this person, see the notes on Love's Labour's Lost, Act IV, sc. i. Steevens.
2 And no.] I am no more a queen than you are a monarch, or Monarcho. Malone.
stain of soldier--] Stain for colour. Parolles was in red, as appears from his being afterwards called red-tail'd humble-bee.
Warburton. It does not appear from either of these expressions, that Parolles was entirely drest in red. Shakspeare writes only some stain of soldier, meaning in one sense that he had red breeches on, (which is sufficiently evident from calling him afterwards redtail'd humble-bee) and in another, that he was a disgrace to soldiery. Stain is used in an adverse sense by Shakspeare, in Troilus and Cressida: " - nor any man an attaint, but he carries some stain of it."
Mr. M. Mason observes on this occasion that “though a red coat is now the mark of a soldier in the British service, it was not so in the days of Shakspeare, when we had no standing army, and the use of armour still prevailed.” To this I reply, that the colour red has always been annexed to soldiership. Chaucer, in his Knight's Tale, v. 1749, has “ Mars the rede," and Boccace has given Mars the same epithet in the opening of his Theseida: “O rubicondo Marte.” Steevens.
I take the liberty of making one observation respecting Stee. vens's note on this passage, which is, that when Chaucer talks of Mars the red, and Boccace of the rubicondo Marte, they both allude to the countenance and complexion of the god, not to his clothes; but as Lafeu, in Act IV, sc. v, calls Parolles the redtailed humble-bee, it is probable that the colour of his dress was in Helena's contemplation. M. Mason.
Stain rather for what we now say tincture, some qualit' least superficial, of a soldier. Johnson.