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PERSONS REPRESENTED. 3
King of France.
Servants to the Countess of Roufillon.
Countess of Rousillon, mother to Bertram.
} Neighbours and friends to the widow.
Lords, atiending on the King; Officers, Soldiers, &c. French
SCENE, partly in France, and partly in Tuscany,
2 The persons were first enumerat-d by Mr. Rowe: 3 Lafeu,] We should read-Lefeu STELVINS.
* Parolles, ] I suppose we should write this name-Paroles, i. c. a crea. turc made up of empty words. STLLVINS.
s Violenia only enters once, and then the neither speaks, nor is spoken 10. This name appears to be borrowed from an old metrical history, en. titled Didace and Violenta, 1576. STILYINS.
Rousillon. A Room in the Countess's Palate.
Enter BERTRAM, the Countess of Rousillon, HELENA, and
LAFBU, in mourning. Count. In delivering my son from me, I bury a second
, 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, evermore in subjection.
Laf. You shall find of the king a husband, madam ;-you, sir, a father : He that so generally is at all times good, must of neceffity hold his virtue to you ; whose worthiness would Itir it up where it wanted, rather than lack it where there is such abundance.
Count. What hope is there of his majesty's amendment?
Laf. He hath abandon'd his physicians, madam; under whose practices he hath persecuted time with hope ; an 1 finds no other advantage in the process, but only the losing of hope by time.
? 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 prepailed 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 subject to wardships, and no other part of France besides; but the Tupposition of the contrary furnished Shakspeare with a reason why the King compelled Roufillon to marry Helen. TOLIET.
The prerogative of a wardship is a branch of the feud law, and may as well be supposed to be incorporated with the constitution of France, as is was with that of England, till the reign of Charles II. 3
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 stretch'd so 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 callà
you the man you speak of, madam? Count. He was famous, fir, in his profession, and it was his great right to be fo: Gerard de Narbon.
Laf. He was excellent, indeed, madam ; the king very Jately spoke of him, admiringly, and mourningly : he was skilful enough to have liv'd still, if knowledge could be set up against mortality.
Ber. What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of?
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 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 vir
tues 3 Imitated from the Heüutontimcrumenos of Terence, (then transated,) where Menedemus says:
Filium unicum adolescentulum
babui, Chreme, " Nunc kabeam necne incertum eft." BLACKSTONE. Pasage is any thing that paljës. So we now say, a palage of an author, and we said about a century ago, the passages of a reign. When the c:untefs mentions Helena's loss of a father, the recollects her own lofs of a husband, and stops to observe how heavily that word had passes through her mind.
JOHNSON. 4 By virtuous qualities are meant qualities of good breeding and erudi. tion; in the fame sense that the Italians say, qualità virtuoja ; and not moral ones. On this account it is, me says, that, in an ill mind, these virtuous qualities are virtues and traitors too : i. e. the advantages of education enable an ill mind to go further in wickedness than it could have done without them. WAR BURTON.
Virtue, and virtuous, as I am told, still keep this signification in the north, and mean ingenuity and ingenious. STEEVENS.
tues and traitors too; in her they are the better for their fimpleness;The derives her honesty, and atchieves her good. ness.
Laf. Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.
Count. 'Tis the belt brine a maiden can season her praise in. The remembrance of her father never approaches her heart; but the tyranny of her forrows takes all livelihood ? 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.8
Laf. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, ex. cessive grief the enemy to the living.
Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it foon mortal.9
s Her virtues are the better for their fimpleness, that is, her excellencies are the better because they are artless and open, without fraud, without design. 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 observation. Virtues in an unclean mind are virtues and traitors too. Eftimable and useful qualities, joined with an evil difpofition, give that evil disposition power over others, who, by admiring the virtue, are betrayed to the malevolence. The Tata ler, 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 bis judgement as bis pasions. JOHNSON.
To seafon has here a culinary lense; to preserve by falting. MALONE. ? i. e. all appearance o: life. STEEVENS.
& Helena has, I believe, a meaning here, that she does not with thould be understood by the countess. Her affected sorrow was for the death of her father; her real grief for the lowness of her situation, which the feared would for ever be a bar to her union with her beloved Bertram.
MALONE. 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 some subsequent passages which have hitherto been misunderstood. M. MASON.
9 Lafeu says, excellive grief is the enemy of the living: the countess replies, If tbe living be an enemy to grief, the excess foon makes it mortal : that is, If the living do not indulge grief, grief destroys i: self by its own excess. By the word mortal I understand that which dies; and Dr. Warburton (who reads-be not enemy-] that which destroys. I think that my interpretazion gives a sentenoe more acute and more refined. Let the reader judge.
Ber. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
Count. Be thou bleft, Bertram! and succeed thy father
Rather in power, than use; ard keep thy friend
Laf. He cannot want the best
Exit Counters, Ber. The best wishes, that can be forged in your thoughts, [TO HELENA.] be servants to you ! Be comfortable to iny 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 ;*
And 2 That may help thee with more and better qualifications. Joungmx.
3 That is, may you be mistress of your w lhes, and have power to bring tl em to effect. JOHNSON.
4 This pallige has been passed over in silence by all the commentators, yet it is evidently defective. The only meaning that the speech of La. feu will bear, as it now stands, is this is That Helena, who was a young girl, ought to keep up the credit which her father had established, who was the best physician of the age ; and me by her answer, 0, were that all! seems to admit that it would be no difficult matter for her to do fo." The absurdity of this is evident; and the wo.ds will admit of no other interpretation. Some alteration therefore is nec fary, and that which I propose is, to read upbold, instead of muft bold, and then the means ing will be this: “ Lifeu, obs'rving that Holna had shed a torrent ci tears, which he and the Counters both ascribe to her grief for her fıther, Says, that the upholds the credit of her father, on this principle, that the furest proof that can be given of the merit if a perfon diceafrd, are the lamentations of those who survive him. But Helena, who knows her own heart, wishes that she had no o her cause of grief, except the loss of her father, whom the thinks no more of." M. MASON.