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King of France.
Duke of Florence.

Bertram, Count of Roufillon.

Lafeu, an old Lord.

Parolles, a follower of Bertram.

Several young French Lords, that ferve with Bertram in the

Florentine war.


Servants to the Countess of Roufillon.

Steward, Clown, A Page.

Countess of Roufillon, mother to Bertram.
Helena, a gentlewoman protected by the Countefs.
An old widow of Florence.

Diana, daughter to the widow.



} 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.

2 The perfons were firft enumerated by Mr. Rowe:

3 Lafeu,] We fhould read- Lefeu


Parolles.] I fuppofe we should write this name-Paroles, i. e. a creature made up of empty words. STEEVENS.

5 Violenta only enters once, and then the neither speaks, nor is spoken This name appears to be borrowed from an old metrical hiftory, entitled Didaco and Violenta, 1576. STILVENS.



Roufillon. A Room in the Countefs's Palate.

Enter BERTRAM, the Countess of Roufillon, HELENA, and LAFEU, in mourning.

Count. In delivering my fon from me, I bury a fecond husband.

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,2 evermore in subjection.

Laf. You fhall find of the king a husband, madam ;—you, fir, a father: He that fo generally is at all times good, muft of neceffity hold his virtue to you; whofe worthiness would ftir it up where it wanted, rather than lack it where there is fuch abundance.

Count. What hope is there of his majesty's amendment?

Laf. He hath abandon'd his phyficians, madam; under whofe practices he hath perfecuted time with hope, an finds no other advantage in the process, but only the lofing of hope by time.

B 2


Under his particular care, as my guardian, till I come to age. It is now almost forgotten in England, that the heirs of great fortunes were the King's wards. Whether the fame practice prevailed in France, it is of no great use to enquire, for Shakspeare gives to all nations the manner of England. JOHNSON.

Howell's fifteenth letter acquaints us that the province of Normandy was fubject to wardships, and no other part of France befides; but the fuppofition of the contrary furnished Shakspeare with a reafon why the King compelled Roufillon to marry Helen. ToLLET.

The prerogative of a wardship is a branch of the feud law, and may as well be fuppofed to be incorporated with the conftitution of France, as it was with that of England, till the reign of Charles II.



Count. This young gentlewoman had a father, (O, that bad! how fad a paffage 'tis 3) whofe fkill was almost as great as his honefty; had it ftretch'd fo far, would have made nature immortal, and death should have play for lack of work. 'Would, for the king's fake, he were living! I think, it would be the death of the king's disease.

Laf. How call'd you the man you fpeak of, madam? Count. He was famous, fir, in his profeffion, and it was his great right to be fo: Gerard de Narbon.

Laf. He was excellent, indeed, madam; the king very lately fpoke of him, admiringly, and mourningly he was fkilful enough to have liv'd ftill, if knowledge could be fet up against mortality.

Ber. What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of? Laf. A fiftula, 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 fole child, my lord; and bequeathed to my overlooking. I have thofe hopes of her good, that her education promifes: her difpofitions the inherits, which make fair gifts fairer; for where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there commendations go with pity, they are vir


3 Imitated from the Heautontimcrumenos of Terence, (then translated,) where Menedemus fays:


Filium unicum adolefcentulum
"Haben. Ah, quid dixi? habere me? imo
babui, Chreme,


"Nunc habeam necne incertum eft." BLACKSTONE. Paffage is any thing that paffes. So we now fay, a passage of an author, and we faid about a century ago, the paffages of a reign. When the cuntejs mentions Helena's lofs of a father, the recollects her own lofs of a husband, and ftops to obferve how heavily that word had paffes through her mind. JOHNSON.


4 By virtuous qualities are meant qualities of good breeding and erudition; in the fame fenfe that the Italians fay, qualità virtuofa; and not moral ones. On this account it is, fhe fays, that, in an ill mind, thefe virtuous qualities are virtues and traitors too: i. e. the advantages of education enable an ill mind to go further in wickednefs than it could have done without them. WARBURTON.

Virtue, and virtuous, as I am told, ftill keep this fignification in the north, and mean ingenuity and ingenious. STEEVENS.

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tues and traitors too; in her they are the better for their fimplenefs; fhe derives her honefty, and atchieves her good. nefs.

Laf. Your commendations, madam, get from her tears. Count. 'Tis the best brine a maiden can feafon her praise in. The remembrance of her father never approaches her heart; but the tyranny of her forrows takes all livelihood7 from her cheek. No more of this, Helena, go to, no more; left it be rather thought you affect, a forrow, than to have. Hel. I do affect a forrow, indeed, but I have it too,

Laf. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, exceffive grief the enemy to the living.

Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it foon mortal.9

B 3


5 Her virtues are the better for their fimpleness, that is, her excellencies are the better because they are artlefs and open, without fraud, without defign. 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 obfervation. Virtues in an unclean mind are virtues and traitors too. Eftimable and ufefu! qualities, joined with an evil difpofition, give that evil difpofition power over others, who, by admiring the virtue, are betrayed to the malevolence. The Tat ler, mentioning the fharpers of his time, obferves, that fome of them are men of fuch elegance and knowledge, that a young man who falls into their way, is betrayed as much by his judgement as bis paffions. JOHNSON.

To feafon has here a culinary fenfe; to preferve by falting. MALONE. 7 i. e. all appearance of life. STEEVENS.

8 Helena has, I believe, a meaning here, that he does not with should be understood by the countefs. Her affected forrow was for the death of her father; her real grief for the lowness of her fituation, which the feared would for ever be a bar to her union with her beloved Bertram.


The forrow that Helen affected, was for her father; that which the really felt, was for Bertram's departure. This line should be particularly attended to, as it tends to explain fome fubfequent paffages which have hitherto been misunderstood. M. MASON.

9 Lafeu fays, exceffive grief is the enemy of the living: the countefs replies, If the living be an enemy to grief, the excess foon makes it mortal: that is, If the living do not indulge grief, grief deftroys felf by its own excess. By the word mortal I understand that which dies; and Dr. Warburton [who reads-be not enemy-] that which deftroys. I think that my interpretation gives a sentence more acute and more refined. Let the reader judge.


Ber. Madam, I defire your holy wishes.
Laf. How understand we that?

Count. Be thou bleft, Bertram! and fucceed thy father

In manners, as in fhape! thy blood, and virtue,

Contend for empire in thee; and thy goodness

Share with thy birth-right! Love all, truft a few,

Do wrong to none: be able for thine enemy

Rather in power, than ufe; ard keep thy friend
Under thy own life's key: be check`d for filence,

But never tax'd for fpeech. What heaven more will,
That thee may furnish, and my prayers pluck down,
Fall on thy head! Farewell.-My lord,
1 is an unfeafon'd courtier; good my lord,
Advise him.

That fhall attend his love.

Count. Heaven bless him!-Farewell Bertram.

He cannot want the best

Exit Countefs.

Ber. The beft wifhes, that can be forged in your thoughts, [To HELENA.] be fervants 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. Hel. O, were that all !—I think not on my father;4



2 That may help thee with more and better qualifications. JOHNSON. 3 That is, may you be mistress of your w shes, and have power to bring them to effect. JOHNSON.

4 This paflage has been paffed over in filence by all the commentators, yet it is evidently defective. The only meaning that the fpeech of Lafeu will bear, as it now ftands, is this: That Helena, who was a young girl, ought to keep up the credit which her father had established, who was the best phyfician of the age; and the by her anfwer, 0, were that all! feems to admit that it would be no difficult matter for her to do fo." The absurdity of this is evident; and the words will admit of no other interpretation. Some alteration therefore is nec ffary, and that which I propofe is, to read uphold, instead of must bold, and then the meaning will be this: "Lafeu, obferving that Hena had fhed a torrent cr tears, which he and the Countess both afcribe to her grief for her father, fays, that the upholds the credit of her father, on this principle, that the fureft proof that can be given of the merit of a perfon d ceafed, are the lamentations of thofe who furvive him. But Helena, who knows her own heart, wishes that the had no other caufe of grief, except the loss of her father, whom he thinks no more of." M. MASON.

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