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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'.
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 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
Count. 'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise in. The remembrance of her father never
3 would have made nature immortal,] Another instance of the manner in which Shakespeare sometimes left the nominative case of the verb to be understood. See vol. ii. p. 478, note 7.
4 In Painter's novel the passage relating to the disorder of the King of France runs thus :-" She heard by report that the French king had a swelling upon his breast, which by reason of ill cure, was growen to be a fistula, which did put him to marvelous paine and griefe; and that there was no Phisician to be found (although many were proved) that could heale it." Vol. i. fo. 88.
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.
Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.
Ber. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
Laf. How understand we that?
Count. Be thou blest, Bertram; and succeed thy father
In manners, as in shape! thy blood, and virtue,
That shall attend his love.
Count. Heaven bless him!-Farewell, Bertram.
[Exit COUNTESS. Ber. [To HELENA.] The best wishes that can be forged in your thoughts be servants to you! Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her.
He cannot want the best
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; And these great tears grace his remembrance more
What was he like?
Than those I shed for him".
One that goes with him: I love him for his sake,
Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;
That they take place, when virtue's steely bones
5 And these great tears grace his remembrance more
Than those I shed for him.] Her meaning seems to be, that the great tears she lets fall grace the remembrance of Bertram more than those she sheds for her father, her grief being for the departure of the former.
6 In our heart's TABLE ;] A "table" was the old word for a picture: here it is used for the canvass on which a picture was to be painted. As Malone has observed, Shakespeare uses the expression " table of my heart" in his 24th Sonnet. The word "trick," in the next line, was technical with reference to painting; and it here means tracing, rather than peculiarity. Compare "King John," A. i. sc. 1, "He hath a trick of Coeur-de-lion's face." Ben Jonson, in his "Every Man out of his Humour," A. iii. sc. 1, uses tricking as an heraldic term, in reference to the tracing of coats of arms. In his "Poetaster," A. i. sc. 1, speaking of actors, he says, "they are blazoned there: there they are tricked."
Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.
Hel. And you, monarch'.
Hel. And no.
Par. Are you meditating on virginity?
Hel. Ay. You have some stain of soldiers in you, let me ask you a question: man is enemy to virginity; how may we barricado it against him?
Par. Keep him out.
Hel. But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant in the defence, yet is weak. Unfold to us some warlike resistance.
Par. There is none: man, sitting down before you, will undermine you, and blow you up.
Hel. Bless our poor virginity from underminers, and blowers up!-Is there no military policy, how virgins might blow up men?
Par. Virginity being blown down, man will quicklier be blown up: marry, in blowing him down again, with the breach yourselves made you lose your city. It is not politic in the commonwealth of nature to preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational increase; and there was never virgin got, till virginity was first lost. That you were made of is metal to make virgins. Virginity, by being once lost, may be ten times found: by being ever kept, it is ever lost. 'Tis too cold a companion away with't.
Hel. I will stand for't a little, though therefore I die a virgin.
Par. There's little can be said in't: 'tis against the rule of nature. To speak on the part of virginity is to
7 And you, MONARCH.] The word " queen " had a double application, perhaps not in the mind of Parolles: when Helena says, And you, monarch," she may have intended a reference to a character called "a Monarcho" in the time of Shakespeare. See note to "Love's Labour's Lost," A. iv. sc. 1. A “Monarcho" seems to have been a blustering braggart, not unlike Parolles.
some STAIN of soldier-] i.e. Some tincture or colour of a soldier.
accuse your mothers, which is most infallible disobedience. He that hangs himself is a virgin virginity murders itself, and should be buried in highways, out of all sanctified limit, as a desperate offendress against nature. Virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese; consumes itself to the very paring, and so dies with feeding his own stomach. Besides, virginity is peevish, proud, idle, made of self-love, which is the most inhibited sin' in the canon. Keep it not: you cannot choose but lose by't. Out with't: within ten years it will make itself ten10, which is a goodly increase, and the principal itself not much the worse. Away with't. Hel. How might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking?
Par. Let me see: marry, ill; to like him that ne'er it likes'. 'Tis a commodity will lose the gloss with lying; the longer kept, the less worth: off with't, while 'tis vendible: answer the time of request. Virginity, like an old courtier, wears her cap out of fashion; richly suited, but unsuitable: just like the brooch and the tooth-pick, which wear not now. Your date is better in your pie and your porridge, than in your cheek: and your virginity, your old virginity, is like one of our French withered pears: it looks ill, it eats dryly; marry, 'tis a withered pear; it was formerly better; marry, yet, 'tis a withered pear. Will you any thing with it?
Hel. Not my virginity yet2.
the most INHIBITED sin-] i. e. prohibited: "inhibit" and "inhibited" are elsewhere employed by Shakespeare in the same sense.
within ten years it will make itself TEN,] The old copy reads, "within ten years it will make itself two." The emendation was made by Sir T. Hanmer; and it is supported by what Parolles previously says, "Virginity, by being once lost, may be ten times found." Two children in ten years would hardly be a "goodly increase." This reading is confirmed by a MS. note in Lord Francis Egerton's first folio, where " 10" is written in the margin.
marry, ill; to like him that ne'er it likes.] Meaning, that Helena must do ill, by liking a man who does not like virginity.
2 Not my virginity yet.] We do not see the difficulty of this passage, on which, and on the question of Parolles, "Will you any thing with it?" various