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A counsellor, a traitress, and a dear;
- a traitress,] It seems that traitress was in that age a term of endearment, for when Lafeu introduces Helena to the king, he
says, “ You are like a traytor, but such traytors his majesty does not much fear.” Johnson.
I cannot conceive that traitress (spoken seriously) was in any age a term of endearment. From the present passage, we might as well suppose enemy (in the last line but one) to be a term of endearment. In the other passage quoted, Lafeu is plainly speaking ironically. TYRWHITT.
Traditora, a traitress, in the Italian language, is generally used as a term of endearment. The meaning of Helena is, that she shall prove every thing to Bertram. Our ancient writers delighted in catalogues, and always characterize love by contrarieties. STEEVENS.
Falstaff, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, says to Mrs. Ford : “ Thou art a traitor to say so." In his interview with her, he certainly meant to use the language of love.
Helena, however, I think, does not mean to say that she shall prove every thing to Bertram, but to express her apprehension that he will find at the court some lady or ladies who shall prove every thing to him; (“ a phenix, captain, counsellor, traitress ;"? &c.) to whom he will give all the fond names that “ blinking Cupid gossips.” MALONE.
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 lyrick poetry, which was the model from which our poets chiefly copied. HEATH.
christendoms,] This word, which signifies the collective body of christianity, every place where the christian religion is embraced, is surely used with much licence on the present occasion. It is also employed with a similar sense in an Epitaph
on an only Child,” which the reader will find at the end of Wit's Recreations, 1640 :
That blinking Cupid gossips. Now shall he-
PAR. What one, i'faith ?
Hel. That wishing well had not a body in't,
“ As here a name and christendome to obtain,
" And to his Maker then return again.” STEEVENS. It is used by another ancient writer in the same sense; so that the word probably bore, in our author's time, the signification which he has affixed to it. So, in A Royal Arbor of Loyal Poesie, by Thomas Jordan, ro date, but printed about 1661 :
“ She is baptiz'd in Christendom,
[i. e. by a christian name, ]
6 The Jew cries out he's undone." These lines are found in a ballad formed on part of the story of The Merchant of Venice, in which it is remarkable that it is the Jew's daughter, and not Portia, that saves the Merchant's life by pleading his cause. There should seem therefore to have been some novel on this subject that has hitherto escaped the researches of the commentators. In the same book are ballads founded on the fables of Much Ado about Nothing, and The Winter's Tale. MALONE.
8 And show what we alone must think ;] And show by realities what we now must only think. Johnson.
Enter a Page.
PAGE. Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for
[Exit Page. PAR. Little Helen, farewell: if I can remember thee, I will think of thee at court.
HEL. Monsieur Parolles, you were born under a charitable star.
Par. Under Mars, I.
HEL. The wars have so kept you under, that you must needs be born under Mars.
PAR. When he was predominant.
so? HEL. You go so much backward, when you fight.
PAR. That's for advantage.
HEL. So is running away, when fear proposes the safety: But the composition, that your valour and fear makes in you, is a virtue of a good wing," and I like the wear well.
is a virtue of a good wing,] Mr. Edwards is of opinion, that a virtue of a good wing refers to his nimbleness or fleetness in running away. The phrase, however, is taken from falconry, as may appear from the following passage in Marston's Fawne, 1606: “ I love my horse after a journeying easiness, as he is easy in journeying; my hawk, for the goodness of his wing,” &c. Or it may be taken from dress. So, in Every Man out of his Humour : “ I would have mine such a suit without a difference; such stuff, such a wing, such a sleeve," &c. Mr. Tollet observes, that a good wing signifies a strong wing in Lord Bacon's Natural History, experiment 866 :
PAR. I am so full of businesses, I cannot answer thee acutely: I will return perfect courtier; in the which, myinstruction shall serve to naturalize thee, so thou wilt be capable of a courtier's counsel, and understand what advice shall thrust upon thee; else thou diest in thine unthankfulness, and thine ignorance makes thee away: farewell. When thou hast leisure, say thy prayers; when thou hast none, remember thy friends: get thee a good husband, and use him as he uses thee: so farewell. [Exit.
“ Certainly many birds of a good wing (as kites and the like) would bear up a good weight as they ily.” The same phrase, however, anciently belonged to archery. So Ascham, in his Toxophilus, edit. 1589, p. 57: “ --another shaft—because it is lower feathered, or else because it is of a better wing,” &c.
STEEVENS. The reading of the old copy (which Dr. Warburton changed to ming) is supported by a passage in King Henry V. in which we meet with a similar expression : “ Though his affections are higher mounted than ours, yet when they stoop, they stoop with the like wing.” Again, in King Henry IV. P. I:
“ Yet let me wonder Harry,
“Quite from the light of all thy ancestors.” MALONE. The meaning of this passage appears to be this: “ if your valour will suffer you to go backward for advantage, and your fear for the same reason will make you run away, the composition that your valour and fear make in you, must be a virtue that will fly far and swiftly."
A bird of a good wing, is a bird of swift and strong flight.
Though the latter part of this sentence is sense as it stands, I cannot help thinking that there is an error in it, and that we ought to read~" And is like to wear well,” instead of “ I like the wear well.” M. MASON.
so thou wilt be capable of a courtier's counsel,] i. e. thou wilt comprehend it. See a note in Hamlet on the words
“ Whose form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones, “ Would make them capable." MALONE.
HEL. Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, Which we ascribe to heaven : the fated sky Gives us free scope; only, doth backward pull Our slow designs, when we ourselves are dull. What power is it, which mounts my love so high; That makes me see, and cannot feed mine eye? The mightiest space in fortune nature brings To join like likes, and kiss like native things.' Impossible be strange attempts, to those That weigh their pains in sense; and do suppose, What hath been* cannot be: Who ever strove To show her merit, that did miss her love?
power is it, which mounts my love so high ; That makes me see, and cannot feed mine eye? ] She means, 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? JOHNSON.
3-kiss like native things.] Things formed by nature for each other. M. Mason.
So, in Chapman's metrical “ Address to the Reader," prefixed to his translation of Homer's Iliad, 1611:
“ Our monosyllables so kindly fall
STEEVENS. • The mightiest space in fortune nature brings To join
like likes, and kiss like native things.
What hath been --] All these four lines are obscure, and, I believe, corrupt ; I shall propose an emendation, which those who can explain the present reading, are at liberty to reject :
Through mightiest space in fortune nature brings
Likes to join likes, and kiss like native things. That is, nature brings like qualities and dispositions to meet through any distance that fortune may set between them; she joins them and makes them kiss like things born together. The next lines I read with Sir T. Hanmer :
Impossible be strange attempts to those