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King. Then shall we have a match. I have letters

sent me,

That set him high in fame.



He looks well on't.

King. I am not a day of season10,
For thou may'st see a sunshine and a hail
In me at once; but to the brightest beams
Distracted clouds give way: so stand thou forth;
The time is fair again.

Dear sovereign, pardon to me.


All is whole;
Not one word more of the consumed time.
Let's take the instant by the forward top,
For we are old, and on our quick'st decrees
Th' inaudible and noiseless foot of time
Steals, ere we can effect them.

You remember

The daughter of this lord?

My high repented blames,



My liege, at first

I stuck my choice upon her, ere my heart
Durst make too bold a herald of my tongue :
Where the impression of mine eye infixing,
Contempt his scornful perspective did lend me,
Which warp'd the line of every other favour,
Scorn'd a fair colour, or express'd it stolen,
Extended or contracted all proportions,
To a most hideous object. Thence it came,
That she, whom all men prais'd, and whom myself,
Since I have lost, have lov'd, was in mine eye

10 I am not a day of SEASON,] . e. A day when the season is settled; but a day when it hails while the sun shines.

1 Admiringly.] The usual regulation of this passage makes two imperfect lines, when there is in fact only one hemistich: "Admiringly" concludes the line commenced by the king with the words "The daughter of this lord:" Bertram then proceeds, "My liege, at first," which was probably not meant to be a complete line.

The dust that did offend it.


Well excus'd:

That thou didst love her strikes some scores away
From the great compt. But love, that comes too late,
Like a remorseful pardon slowly carried,

To the great sender turns a sour offence,
Crying, that's good that's gone. Our rash faults
Make trivial price of serious things we have,
Not knowing them, until we know their grave:
Oft our displeasures, to ourselves unjust,
Destroy our friends, and after weep their dust:
Our own love, waking, cries to see what's done,
While shameful hate sleeps out the afternoon.
Be this sweet Helen's knell, and now forget her.
Send forth your amorous token for fair Maudlin:
The main consents are had; and here we'll stay
To see our widower's second marriage-day.

Count. Which better than the first, O, dear heaven, bless!

Or, ere they meet, in me, O nature, cease3!

Laf. Come on, my son, in whom my house's name Must be digested, give a favour from you, To sparkle in the spirits of my daughter, That she may quickly come.-By my old beard, And every hair that's on't, Helen, that's dead, Was a sweet creature; such a ring as this, The last that, ere I took her leave at court,


2 Our own love, waking,] Monck Mason would substitute old for but perhaps "own" may be taken in the sense of real or true.


3 Which better than the first, O, dear heaven, bless!


Or, ere they meet, in me, O nature, cease!] This couplet (ending in the original copies with " cesse for cease) was assigned by Theobald to the countess, and has been given to her by subsequent editors. This is doing some violence to the text, but it seems necessary, though we would willingly have restored the lines to the king, in accordance with the old copies. That "cesse" means cease there can be no doubt, and in the second folio the word is printed


The last that, ere I took her leave at court,] There seems some corruption in this line to convert "I" into she, as was done by Rowe, does not completely cure the defect. The meaning seems to be, "the last time that I took leave of her at court."

I saw upon her finger.


Hers it was not.

King. Now, pray you, let me see it; for mine eye, While I was speaking, oft was fasten'd to't.This ring was mine; and, when I gave it Helen,

I bade her, if her fortunes ever stood

Necessitied to help, that by this token

I would relieve her. Had you that craft to reave her Of what should stead her most?

My gracious sovereign,
Howe'er it pleases you to take it so,
The ring was never hers.


Son, on my life, I have seen her wear it; and she reckon'd it At her life's rate.


I am sure I saw her wear it. Ber. You are deceiv'd: my lord, she never saw it. In Florence was it from a casement thrown me, Wrapp'd in a paper, which contain'd the name Of her that threw it. Noble she was, and thought I stood engag'd'; but when I had subscrib'd To mine own fortune, and inform'd her fully I could not answer in that course of honour As she had made the overture, she ceas'd, In heavy satisfaction, and would never Receive the ring again.


Plutus himself, That knows the tinct and multiplying medicine, Hath not in nature's mystery more science, Than I have in this ring: 'twas mine, 'twas Helen's, Whoever gave it you. Then, if you know That you are well acquainted with yourself, Confess 'twas hers, and by what rough enforcement You got it from her. She call'd the saints to surety, That she would never put it from her finger,

5 I stood ENGAG'D;] . e. The noble lady thought that Bertram "stood engaged" to her. Malone understands it unengaged.



Unless she gave it to yourself in bed,
Where you have never come, or sent it us
Upon her great disaster.

She never saw it.

King. Thou speak'st it falsely, as I love mine honour,
And mak'st conjectural fears to come into me,
Which I would fain shut out. If it should prove
That thou art so inhuman,-'twill not prove so ;—
And yet I know not:-thou didst hate her deadly,
And she is dead; which nothing, but to close
Her eyes myself, could win me to believe,
More than to see this ring.-Take him away.-
[Guards seize BERTRAM.
My fore-past proofs, howe'er the matter fall,
Shall tax my fears of little vanity,

Having vainly fear'd too little.-Away with him!
We'll sift this matter farther.

If you shall prove
This ring was ever hers, you shall as easy
Prove that I husbanded her bed in Florence,
Where yet she never was.

[Exit BERTRAM, guarded.

Enter a Gentleman®.

King. I am wrapp'd in dismal thinkings.
Gracious sovereign,
Whether I have been to blame, or no, I know not:
Here's a petition from a Florentine,

Who hath, for four or five removes, come short
To tender it herself. I undertook it,
Vanquish'd thereto by the fair grace and speech
Of the poor suppliant, who by this, I know,
Is here attending: her business looks in her
With an importing visage'; and she told me,
In a sweet verbal brief, it did concern

6 Enter a Gentleman.] This gentleman must have been the "gentle Astringer," whom Helena had previously encountered and solicited.

7 With an IMPORTING visage ;] Malone's Shakespeare by Boswell reads important, in opposition to all the folios.

Your highness with herself.

King. [Reads.] "Upon his many protestations to marry me, when his wife was dead, I blush to say it, he won me. Now is the count Rousillon a widower: his vows are forfeited to me, and my honour's paid to him. He stole from Florence, taking no leave, and I follow him to his country for justice. Grant it me, O king! in you it best lies; otherwise a seducer flourishes, and a poor maid is undone.

"DIANA CAPILET." Laf. I will buy me a son-in-law in a fair, and toll: for this, I'll none of him3.

King. The heavens have thought well on thee, Lafeu,

To bring forth this discovery.-Seek these suitors :Go speedily, and bring again the count.

[Exeunt Gentleman, and some Attendants.

I am afeard, the life of Helen, lady,
Was foully snatch'd.


Now, justice on the doers!

Re-enter BERTRAM, guarded.

King. I wonder, sir, for wives are monsters to you', And that you fly them as you swear them lordship, Yet you desire to marry.-What woman's that?

Re-enter Gentleman, with Widow, and DIANA. Dia. I am, my lord, a wretched Florentine, Derived from the ancient Capilet:

8 I will buy me a son-in-law in a fair, and toll: for this, I'll none of him.] The meaning is very plain, although much comment has been wasted upon the passage. Lafeu says, “I will buy me a son-in-law in a fair, and pay toll for him on the purchase: as for this son-in-law, I'll have nothing to do with him."

I wonder, sir, FOR wives are monsters to you,] The first folio repeats “sir" instead of for, which has been added in old MS. in Lord Francis Egerton's copy: sir, with a long s, would be easily misprinted for for. The modern editors read since; but "for" is used in the sense of because. The second folio gives the line thus:—

"I wonder, sir, wives are such monsters to you."

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