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Confounds thy fame, as whirlwinds shake fair buds;
And in no sense is meet, or amiable.
A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty;
And, while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance; commits his body
To painful labour, both by sea and land;

To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
While thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands,
But love, fair looks, and true obedience :-
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband:
And, when she's froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel,

And graceless traitor to her loving lord?—
I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway,

When they are bound to serve, love, and obey.
Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts ?


Helena, a favoured attendant on the Countess of Roussillon, is secretly in love with Bertram, son of the countess, he being ignorant of her attachment to him. The play opens with the departure of Bertram for France, the king of which country is suffering from a malady, which is pronounced by his physicians to be incurable. Helena's father, who has been dead six months, was a physician of eminence; and she, possessing a knowledge of the virtues of some of his prescriptions, follows Bertram to the Court of France, anxious to try the effect of her father's prescriptions on the king. She obtains his majesty's consent to make the trial and restores him to health, claiming as her reward the hand of Bertram, who is commanded by the French king to marry Helena forthwith. Much against his inclination, Bertram assents to the marriage, and immediately after the ceremony orders his newly-wedded wife to return to his mother at Roussillon, whilst he himself departs for the wars, and, attended by Parolles, a vain and empty braggart, who figures conspicuously in the play, he joins the army of the Duke of Florence. Helena, in disguise, proceeds to Florence in search of Bertram ; without making herself known to him, she follows him home to Roussillon, where, to the great satisfaction of his mother and the King of France, he accepts her as his wife. Dr. Johnson says—“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."



Be thou blest, Bertram! and succeed thy father
In manners, as in shape! thy blood and virtue,
Contend for empire in thee; and thy goodness.
Share with thy birth-right! Love all, trust a few,
Do wrong to none: be able for thine enemy

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Rather in power, than use; and keep thy friend
Under thy own life's key: be check'd for silence,
But never tax'd for speech.

Too ambitious Love.

I am undone; there is no living, none,
If Bertram be away. It were all one
That I should love a bright particular star,
And think to wed it, he is so above me:
In his bright radiance and collateral light
Must I be comforted, not in his sphere.
The ambition in my love thus plagues itself:
The hind that would be mated by the lion,
Must die for love. 'Twas pretty, though a plague,
To see him every hour; to sit and draw
His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls,
In our heart's table ;* heart, too capable
Of every line and trick † of his sweet favour:‡
But now he's
's gone, and my idolatrous fancy
Must sanctify his relics.

Helena's description of Parolles.

I know him a notorious liar,

Think him a great way fool, solely a coward:
Yet these fix'd evils sit so fit in him,

That they take place, when virtue's steely bones
Look bleak in the cold wind.

The remedy of Evils exists in Ourselves.

Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, Which we ascribe to heaven: the fated sky

* The tablet or surface on which a picture is painted, used here for the picture itself.

† Peculiarity of feature.

↑ Countenance

Gives us free scope; only doth backward pull,
Our slow designs, when we ourselves are dull.
Character of a noble Courtier.

In his youth

He had the wit, which I can well observe
To-day in our young lords; but they may jest
Till their own scorn return to them unnoted,
Ere they can hide their levity in honour.
So like a courtier, contempt nor bitterness
Were in his pride or sharpness; if they were,
His equal had awaked them; and his honour,
Clock to itself, knew the true minute when
Exception bid him speak, and at this time,
His tongue obey'd his hand :* who were below him
He used as creatures of another place:

And bow'd his eminent top to their low ranks,
Making them proud of his humility,

In their poor praise he humbled; such a man
Might be a copy to these younger times.


The Count Rousillon cannot be my brother:
I am from humble, he from honour'd name;
No note upon my parents, his all noble
My master, my dear lord he is; and I
His servant live, and will his vassal die.


Helena's Hopeless Love for Bertram.
Then, I confess,

Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,

* Hand of a clock; the word clock in a previous line being used metaphorically.

I love your son :—

My friends were poor, but honest; so's my love.
Be not offended; for it hurts not him,

That he is lov'd of me: I follow him not

By any token of presumptuous suit;

Nor would I have him, till I do deserve him;
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet, in this captious and intenible sieve,*
I still pour in the waters of my love,
And lack not to lose still: thus, Indian like,
Religious in mine error, I adore

The sun, that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more.


Honour due to Personal Virtue, not to Birth.

From lowest place when virtuous things proceed,
The place is dignified by the doer's deed:
Where great additions† swell, and virtue none,
It is a dropsied honour: good alone
Is good, without a name; vileness is so :‡
The property by what it is should go,
Not by the title. She is young, wise, fair
In these to nature she's immediate heir;
And these breed honour; that is honour's scorn,
Which challenges itself as honour's born,

And is not like the sire: Honours best thrive,

* Captious and intenible sieve-able to receive, but not to retain.

+ Titles.

Good is good in itself, and so is vileness vile, without reference to worldly considerations.

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