« PreviousContinue »
King. Wherefore hast thou accus'd him all this
Dia. Because he's guilty, and he is not guilty; He knows, I am no maid, and he'll swear to't: I'll swear, I am a maid, and he knows not. Great king, I am no strumpet, by my life; I am either maid, or else this old man's wife.
[Pointing to Lafeu. King. She does abuse our ears; to prison with her. Dia. Good mother, fetch my bail.-Stay, royal [Exit Widow. the ring, is sent for,
sir; The jeweller, that owes And he shall surety me.
But for this lord,
Who bath abus'd me, as he knows himself,
Re-enter Widow, with Helena.
Is there no exorcistt
Beguiles the truer office of mine eyes?
Is't real, that I see?
No, my good lord;
"Tis but the shadow of a wife you see,
The name, and not the thing.
Both, both; O, pardon! Hel. O, my good lord, when I was like this maid, I found you wond'rous kind. There is your ring, And, look you, here's your letter; This it says, When from my finger you can get this ring, And are by me with child, &c.-This is done: Will you be mine, now you are doubly won?
Ber. If she, my liege, can make me know this
I'll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly.
Hel. If it appear not plain, and prove untrue,
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 be'st yet a fresh uncropped flower,
[To Diana. Choose thou thy busband, and I'll pay thy dower; For I can guess, that, by the honest aid, Thou kept'st a wife herself, thyself a maid. Of that, and all the progress, more and less, Resolvedly more leisure shall express: All yet seems well; and if it end so meet. The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet.
The king's a beggar, now the play is done:
That you express content; which we will pay,
i. e. Hear us without interruption, and take our parts, that is, support and defend us.
This play has many delightful scenes, though not sufficiently probable; and some happy characters, though not new, nor produced by any deep knowledge of human nature. Parolles is a boaster and a coward, such as has always been the sport of the stage, but perhaps never raised more laughter or contempt than in the hands of Shakspeare.
I cannot reconcile my heart to Bertram; a man noble without generosity, and young without truth; who marries Helen as a coward, and leaves her as a profligate when she is dead by his unkindness, sneaks home to a second marriage, is accused by a woman whom he has wronged, defends himself by falsehood, and is dismissed to happiness.
The story of Bertram and Diana had been told before of Mariana and Angelo, and, to confess the truth, scarcely merited to be heard a second time.