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Hel. If it appear not plain, and prove untrue, Deadly divorce step between me and you !-O, my dear mother, do I see you living?
Laf. Mine eyes smell onions, I shall weep anon: -Good Tom Drum (to Parolles), lend me a handkerchief: so, I thank thee; wait on me home, I 'll make sport with thee. Let thy courtesies alone, they are scurvy ones. King. Let us from point to point this story
know, To make the even truth in pleasure flow.If thou beest yet a fresh uncroppéd flower,
[To Diana. Choose thou thy husband, and I'll pay thy dower;
For I can guess that, by thy honest aid,
“0, that had !' how sad a passage 'l is !”--Act I., Scene 1.
Passage is anything that passes; as we now say, a passage in an author; and, as was said formerly, the passage of a reign. When the Countess mentions Helena's loss of a father, she recollects her own loss of a husband, and stops to observe how heavily that word “had" passes through her mind.
“Where an unclean mind carries rirtuous qualities, there commendations go with pily; they are virtues and traitors too."-Act I., Scene 1.
The meaning probably is, that estimable and useful qualities, joined with an evil disposition, give that evil disposition power over others; who, by 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.
" If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal."—Act I., Scene 1.
That is, if the living do not indulge grief, grief destroys itself by its own excess. As in the “ WINTER's TALE:"
-- "Scarce any joy Did ever live so long; no sorrow But killed itself much sooner."
--"I think nol on my father :
Than those I shed for him."--Act I., Scene 1. Helena's meaning appears to be, that the great tears which were then falling from her eyes appear to do more honour to her father's memory than those less copious ones which she actually shed for him on his death.
" In his bright radiance and collateral light
Act I., Scene 1. That is, 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.
" He that hangs himself is a virgin: rirginity murders itself.”—Act I., Scene 1.
A virgin, and he that hangs himself, are in this circumstance alike-they are both self-destroyers.
“Par. Will you anything with il ?
HEL. Not my virginity yet. -
Act I., Scene 1. Something is plainly wanting here, to connect Helena's reply with the question of Parolles. Mr. Tyrwhitt plausibly proposes to read, “Will you anything with us?" that is, “Will you send anything with us to court ?" to which Helena's answer would be proper enough :-"Not my virginity
A similar phrase occurs in "TWELFTH NIGHT:' "You'll nothing, madam, to my lord by me?"
With reference to the "thousand loves" that Bertram is to find at court, Mr. Heath remarks, “I believe it would not be difficult to find in the love-poetry of those times, an authority for most, if not for every one, of these whimsical titles. At least, I can affirm it from knowledge, that far the greater part of them are to be found in the Italian lyric poetry, which was the model from which our poets chiefly copied."
" What power is it which mounts my love so high ;
Act I., Scene I. That is, by what influence is my love directed to a person so much above me? Why am I made to discern excellence, and left to long after it, without the food of hope?
"The mightiest space in fortune, nature brings
Act I., Scene I. The meaning appears to be, that the affections given us by nature often unite persons between whom fortune or accident has placed the greatest distance or disparity; and cause them "to join like likes."--like persons in the same station or rank of life. A corresponding phrase occurs in “ TIMON OF ATHENS:"
" Thou solderest close impossibilities,
And mak'st them kiss."
“ The Florentines and Senoys are by the ears."
Act I., Scene 2. The “ Senois," as the term is translated by Painter, are called by Boccaccio the "Sanesi." They formed a sinall republic, of which Sienna was the capital.
"He had the wit which I can well observe
To-day in our young lords; but they may jes!
Act I., Scene 2 Honour does not here signify dignity of birth or rank, but acquired reputation. “Your father," says the King, "had the same airy flights of satirical wit with the young lords of the present time; but they do not what he did. -- hide their unnoted levity in honour; cover petty faults with great merit."— This is an excellent observation. Jocose follies and slight offences are only allowed by mankind in him that overpowers them by great qualities.- Johnson.
-" What's the maller,
Act I., Scene 3. There is something exquisitely beautiful in this representation of that suffusion of colours which glimmers around the sight, when the eyelashes are wet with tears. The poet has described the same appearance in his “ RAPE OF LUCRECE:"“And round about her tear-distainéd eye
Blue circles streamed, like rainbows in the sky."-HENLEY,
" Or were you both our mothers, I care no more for than I do for heaven,
So I were not his sister."-Act I., Scene 3. " I care no more for," here signifies," I care as much for; I wish it equally."
Milton says of Death and the King of Hell, preparing to combat:
“So frowned the mighty combatants, that hell
Grew darker at their frown."
Perhaps this is the same thought, though more solemnly expressed, that we meet with in "KING HENRY IV.," Part I.:
-"lle's as tedious As a tired horse, a railing wife; Worse than a smoky house."
" Let higher Italy
Not to woo honour, but to wed it," --Act II., Scene 1. This passage is confessedly obscure, and probably corrupt. The meaning, according to Dr. Johnson, is this :** Let Upper Italy, where you are to exercise your valour, see that you come to gain honour, to the abatement (that is, to the disgrace and depression) of those that have now lost their ancient military fame, and inherit but the fall of the last monarchy." Hanmer proposed to read " bastards" for “i 'bated;" and the whole tenour of the passage makes the suggestion highly probable.
“ You have made shift to run into'l, boots and spurs and all, like him that leaped into the custard."--Act II., Scene 5.
Our old dramatists abound with pleasant allusions to the enormous size of their “ quaking custards,” which were served up at the city feasts, and with which such gross fooleries were played. Thus Glapthorne:
“I'll write the city annals,
At my lord-mayor's feast."--WIT IN A CONSTABLE. Indeed, no common supply was required; for, besides what the corporation (great devourers of custards) consumed on the spot, it appears that it was thought no breach of city manners to send or take some of it home with them, for the use of their ladies.-GIFFORD.
----" I hare spoke
Than I dare blame my weakness."-Act II., Scene 1. Lafeu, perhaps, means that the amazement Helena excited in him, was so great, that he could not impute it merely to his own weakness, but to the wonderful qualities of the object that occasioned it.
“I am not an impostor, thal proclaim
Act II., Scene 1. That is, I am not an impostor that proclaim one thing and design another; that proclaim a cure, and aim at a fraud: I think what I speak.
" Why, he will look upon his boot, and sing; mend the rull, and sing."--Act III., Scene 2.
The tops of the boots, in Shakspere's time, turned down, and hung loosely over the leg. The folding part, or top, was the ruff: it was of softer leather than the boot, and often fringed. Ben Jonson calls it the ruffle :-" Not having leisure to put off my silver spurs, one of the rowels catched hold of the ruffle of my boot."- EVERY MAN OUT OF His HuMOUR. To this fashion, also, Bishop Earle alludes in his "CHARACTERS" (1638):-"He has learned to ruffle his face from his boot, and takes great delight in his walk to hear his spurs jingle."
“ Youth, beauty, wisdom, courage, all
Act II., Scene 1. Prime is here used as a substantive, and means that sprightly vigour which usually accompanies the prime of life. So in Montaigne's " Essays," translated by Florio:"Many things seem greater by imagination than by effect. I have passed over a good part of my age in sound and perfect health: I say, not only sound, but blithe and wantonly lustful. That state, full of lust, of prime, and mirth, made me deem the consideration of sicknesses so irksome, that, when I came to the experience of them, I have found their fits but weak."
" Come thou home, Rousillon, Whence honour but of danger wins a scar;
As oft it luses all."-Act III., Scene 2. The sense is-Come from that place where all the advantage that honour usually reaps from the danger it rushes upon, is only a scar in testimony of its bravery; as, on the other hand, it often is the cause of losing all, even life itself.
-- " Good alone
Act II, Scene 3. The meaning is-Good is good, independent of any worldly distinction or title : so, vileness is vile, in whatever state it may appear. The same phraseology is found in “ MACBETH:"“ Though all things foul would wear the brow of grace,
Yet grace must still look so :" that is, must still look like grace; like itself.
"Where do the palmers lodge, I do beseech you ?."
Act III., Scene 5. Palmers were so called from a staff or bough of palm they were wont to carry, especially such as had visited the holy places at Jerusalem. A pilgrim and a palmer are said to have differed thus: a pilgrim had some dwelling-place, a palmer had none; the pilgrim travelled to some certain place, the palmer to all, and not to any one in particular; the pilgrim must go at his own charge, the palmer must profess wilful poverty; the pilgrim might give over his profession, the palmer must be constant.
"Well, thou hast a son shall take this disgrace off me."
Act II., Scene 3. This the poet makes Parolles speak alone; and this is nature. A coward should try to hide his poltroonery, even from himself. An ordinary writer would have been glad of such an opportunity to bring him to confession.--WARBURTON.
“ If you give him not John Drum's entertainment, your inclining cannot be removed." --Act III., Scene 6.
“John Drum's entertainment" (the Christian name varying) appears to have been a common phrase to signify illtreatment. There is an old motley interlude (printed in 1601), called “Jack Drum's ENTERTAINMENT," in which Jack Drum is a servant of intrigue, who is ever aiming at projects, and always foiled. Holinshed, in his description of Ireland, speaking of the hospitality of Patrick Sarsfield (mayor of
--"War is no strise
Act II., Scene 3 The dark house is a house made gloomy by discontent.
Dublin in 1551), says,-"No porter, or any other officer, durst not, for both his ears, give the simplest man that resorted to his house, Tom Drum his entertainment; which is, to hale a man in by the head, and thrust him out by both the shoulders."
“His heels have deserved it, in usurping his spurs so long."
Act IV., Scene 3. The punishment of a recreant or coward was, to have his spurs hacked off.
" I would have that drum or another, or hic jacet."
Act III., Scene 6. “ Hic jacet" (here lies) is a common commencement of epitaphs. Parolles means to say, that he would either recover the lost drum, or another belonging to the enemy, or die in the attempt.
"He was whipped for getting the sheriff's fool with child; a dumb innocent, that could not say him nay."
Act IV., Scene 3. Female fools were sometimes retained in families for diversion, though much less frequently than males." Inno. cent” meant, in the good-natured language of our ancestors, an idiot, or natural fool. The following is the entry of a burial in the parish register of Charlewood, in Surrey :" Thomas Sole, an innocent, about the age of fifty years and upwards, buried 19th September, 1605."
“I will presently pen down my dilemmas."
Act III., Scene 6. By “dilemmas" is meant his plans, on the one hand, and the probable obstructions he was to meet with, on the other.
" What is not holy, that we swear not by,
When I did love you ill ?"--Act IV., Scene 2.
The sense is-We never swear by what is not holy, but swear by, or take to witness, the Highest, the Divinity. The tenour of the reasoning contained in the following lines, perfectly corresponds with this :-If I should swear by Jove's great attributes that I loved you dearly, would you believe my oaths, when you found by experience that I loved you ill, and was endeavouring to gain credit with you in order to seduce you to your ruin? No surely; you would conclude that I had no faith either in Jove or his attributes, and that my oaths were mere words of course.
“ His grace is at Marseilles ; to which place
We have convenient convoy."-Act IV., Scene 4. It appears from this line and others, in the present play and the “TAMING OF THE SHREw," that “ Marseilles" was pronounced as a word of three syllables. The old copy has here Marcellæ, and in the last scene of this Act, Marcellas.
“Whose villanous saffron would hare made all the unbaked and doughy youth of a nation in his colour."
Act IV., Scene 5. Parolles is the person here alluded to. The meaning is, that his evil qualities are of so deep a dye, as to be sufficient to corrupt the inexperienced, and to make them of the same disposition with himself. The general custom at that time, of colouring pastry with saffron, probably suggested the remark. In the “WINTER's Tale," we find, "I must have saffron to colour the warden-pies."
“ I see that men make hopes, in such a war,
That we'll forsake ourselves."—Act IV., Scene 2. The old copy reads, “ make ropes in such a scarre." Rowe changed it to "make hopes in such affairs; and Malone to "hopes in such a scene." But offairs and scene have no literal resemblance to the old word “scarre :" warre is always so written in the old copy; the change is therefore less violent, more probable, and, I think, makes better sense. -SINGER.
"I would give his wife my bauble, sir, to do her serrice."
Act IV., Scene 5. Part of the equipment of a professional fool, was a bauble, which was a kind of short stick, or truncheon, with a fool's head carved on it, or sometimes that of a doll or puppet. To this instrument was frequently annexed an inflated bladder, with which the fool belaboured those with whom he was inclined to make sport. An ancient proverb in Ray's collection, points out the material of which these baubles were made: "If every fool should wear a bauble, fuel would be dear."
“Enter the two French Lords, and two or three Soldiers."
Act IV., Scene 3. The latter editors have, with great liberality, bestowed lordship upon these interlocutors, who, in the original edition, are called with more propriety Capt. E. and Capt. G.JOHNSON
These two personages may be supposed to be two young French lords, serving in the Florentine camp, where they now appear in their military capacity. In the first scene, where the two French lords are introduced taking leave of the King, they are called, in the original edition, Lord E. and Lord G.-- G. and E. were, I believe, only put to denote the players who performed these characters. In the list of actors prefixed to the first folio, I find the names of Gilburne and Ecclestone, to whom these insignificant parts probably fell. -MALONE.
" But it is your carbonadoed face."-- Act IV., Scene 3.
"Carbonadoed" means "slashed over the face in a manner that fetcheth the flesh with it." The term is derived from carbonado, a collop of meat. In “ KING LEAR," Kent says to the steward, “I'll carbonado your shanks for you."
“I would gladly hare him see his company anatomised; that he might take a measure of his own judgments."
Act IV., Scene 3. This a very just and moral reason. Bertram, by finding how erroneously he has judged, will be less confident, and more easily moved by admonition.-Johnson.
"Enter a Gentle Astringer."--Act V., Scene 1. This term signified a gentleman falconer. The word is derived from asturcus, or austurcus, a goshawk. Cowell, in his Law Dictionary, says,-"We usually call a falconer who keeps that kind of hawk, an astringer." The "Gentle Astringer" in question was probably an officer of the court, and a noble.
“Bring forth this counterfeit module."-Act IV., Scene 3.
It appears that "module" and model were synonimous. The meaning is-- Bring forth this fellow, who, by counterfeiting virtue, pretended to make himself a pattern.
" I will come after you, with what good speed
Our means will make us means."-Act V., Scene 1. Helena intends to say, that they will follow with such speed as the means which they have will give them ability to exert.
“ We lost a jewel of her, and our esteem
Was made much poorer by it." -Act V., Scene 3. " Esteem" is here reckoning or estimate.-Since the loss of Helena, with her virtues and qualifications, our account is sunk: what we have to reckon ourselves king of, is much poorer than before.
" But thou art too fine in thy evidence."-Act V., Scene 3.
"Too fine" signifies too full of finesse. In Bacon's “APOPHTHEGMs," the term is used in its better sense :“Your majesty was too fine for my Lord Burleigh."
“Whose beauty did astonish the survey
Os richest eyes."-Act V., Scene 3. That is, her beauty astonished those who, having seen the greatest number of fair women, might be said to be the richest in ideas of beauty. So, in “ As You LIKE IT:""To have seen much and to have nothing, is to have rich eyes and poor hands."
" In Florence was it from a casement thrown me."
Act V., Scene 3. Bertram still continues to have too little virtue to deserve Helen. He did not know indeed that it was Helen's ring, but he knew that he had it not from a window.--Jounson.
--" Plutus himself,
Act V., Scene 3. Plutus is here spoken of as the grand alchemist, who knows the tincture which confers the properties of gold upon base metals. In the reign of Henry IV., a law was made to forbid all men henceforth to multiply gold, or use any craft of multiplication. Of this law, Mr. Boyle, when he was warm with the hope of transmutation, procured a repeal.
The following is a short abstract of the tale of “Giletta of Narbonne,” in Painter's “ Palace OF PLEASURE" (1575), on which the present play is founded :
Isnardo, Count of Rossiglione, retains a famous physician, Gerardo of Narbona, whose daughter is in love with the Count's son, Bertram. Isnardo dies; his son becomes the King's ward, and is sent to Paris. The physician dying, Giletta makes a journey in pursuit of Bertram. The King languishes 'under a malady thought incurable; Giletta, furnished with a specific of her father's, promises to effect a cure in eight days: the penalty of failure is death; but if successful, she stipulates for permission to choose a husband, with reservation only of the royal blood. The King is cured; Giletta fixes on Bertram; and he, unable to disobey the King, consents to the marriage: disgusted, however, with the meanness of her family, he joins the Florentine army; and in reply to her submissive messages from Rossiglione, he coldly says, “Let her do what she list; for I do purpose to dwell with her when she shall have this ring upon her finger, and a son in her arms begotten by me."
Giletta provides herself with money, and travels to Florence: here she finds that Bertram is in love with the daughter of a poor but reputable lady, to whose house she repairs, and, explaining her situation, proposes that the young woman should agree to the Count's wishes, on his giving her the ring he wore. Preparations are made for Bertram's introduction at the dead of night, and Giletta, instead of the young lady, receives him in her arms. The ring is obtained, and Giletta, in due time, has the satisfaction of giving birth to two sons, both bearing a strong likeness to their father.
Bertram, informed of his wife's absence, determines to return home. He gives, when there, a great entertainment; and Giletta, "with his ring on her finger, and twin sons, begotten by him, in her arms," prostrates herself before him, and supplicates to be acknowledged as his wife. The Count kisses her, and vows henceforth to love and honour her.
-" Then, if you know
Confess 't was hers."-Act V., Scene 3. That is, if you have the proper consciousness of your own actions, and are able to recollect and relate what you have done, confess the truth..
My forepast proofs, howe'er the matter fall,
Having vainly feared too litlle."-Act V., Scene 3. The meaning probably is—The proofs which I have already had, are sufficient to shew that my fears were not vain and irrational: I have rather been more easy than I ought, and have unreasonably had too little fear.
“ Here's a petition from a Florentine,
Who hath, for four or five removes, come short
To tender it herself."-Act V., Scene 3. " Removes" are stages or journeys. The petitioner had lost the opportunity of presenting the paper herself, either at Marseilles, or on the road from thence to Rousillon, in consequence of having been four or five removes behind the court.
"I will buy me a son-in-law in a fair, and toll for this."
Act V., Scene 3. The allusion is to the custom of paying toll for the liberty of selling in a fair. Lafeu means to say, he will buy a sonin-law in a fair, and sell his intended one; pay toll for the liberty of selling him. The practice is thus alluded to in "HUDIBRAS:"
---"Can I bring proof
The story of “ All': WELL THAT Ends Well," and of several others of Shakspere's plays, is taken from Boccaccio. The poet has dramatised the original novel with great skill and comic spirit, and has preserved all the beauty of character and sentiment, without improving upon it, which was Impossible. There are, indeed, in Boccaccio's serious pieces, a truth, a pathos, and an exquisite refinement of sentiment, which are hardly to be met with in any other prose-writer whatever. Justice has not been done him by the world. He has in general passed for a mere narrator of lascivious tales or idlo jests. This character probably originated in his obnoxious attacks on the monks, and has been kept up by the grossness of mankind, who revenged their own want of refinement on Boccaccio, and only saw in his writings what buited the coarseness of their own tastes. But the truth is, that he has carried sentiment of every kind to its very highest purity and perfection. By sentiment, we would here understand the habitual workings of some one powerful feeling, where the heart reposes almost entirely upon itself, without the violent excitement of opposing duties or untoward circumstances.
The invention implied in his different tales, is immense: but we are not to infer that it is all his own.
He probably availed himself of all the common traditions which were floating in his time, and which he was the first to appropriate. Homer appears the most original of all authors, probably for no other reason than that we can trace the plagiarism no farther.-Hazlitt.
"I wonder, sir, since wives are monsters to you,
Yet you desire to marry."—Act V., Scene 3. "Lordship” is probably intended for that protection which the husband, in the marriage ceremony, promises to the wife.