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He cannot want the best
COUNT. Heaven bless him!-Farewell, Bertram. [Exit Countess.
BER. The best wishes, that can be forged in your thoughts, [To HELENA] be servants to you!3 Be comfortable to my 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;
3 The best wishes, &c.] That is, may you be mistress of your wishes, and have power to bring them to effect. JOHNSON.
* Laf. Farewell, pretty lady: You must hold the credit of your father.
Hel. O, were that all!-I think not on my father ;] This passage has been passed over in silence by all the commentators, yet it is evidently defective. The only meaning that the speech of Lafeu will bear, as it now stands, is this: "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 she, by her answer, O, were that all! seems to admit that it would be no difficult matter for her to do so.' ." The absurdity of this is evident; and the words will admit of no other interpretation. Some alteration therefore is necessary; and that which I propose is, to read uphold, instead of must hold, and then the meaning will be this: "Lafeu, observing that Helena had shed a torrent of tears, which he and the Countess both ascribe to her grief for her father, says, that she upholds the credit of her father, on this principle, that the surest proof that can be given of the merit of a person deceased, are the lamentations of those who survive him. But Helena, who knows her own heart, wishes that she had no other cause of grief, except the loss of her father, whom she thinks no more of." M. MASON.
O, were that all! &c.] Would that the attention to maintain the credit of my father, (or, not to act unbecoming the
And these great tears grace his remembrance
Than those I shed for him. What was he like?
daughter of such a father, for such perhaps is the meaning,) were my only solicitude! I think not of him. My cares are all for Bertram. MALONE.
these great tears] The tears which the King and Countess shed for him. JOHNSON.
And these great tears grace his remembrance more
Than those I shed for him.] Johnson supposes that, by these great tears, Helena means the tears which the King and the Countess shed for her father; but it does not appear that either of those great persons had shed tears for him, though they spoke of him with regret. By these great tears, Helena does not mean the tears of great people, but the big and copious tears she then shed herself, which were caused in reality by Bertram's departure, though attributed by Lafeu and the Countess, to the loss of her father; and from this misapprehension of theirs, graced his remembrance more than those she actually shed for him. What she calls gracing his remembrance, is what Lafeu had styled before, upholding his credit, the two passages tending to explain each other.-It is scarcely necessary to make this grammatical observation-That if Helena had alluded to any tears supposed to have been shed by the King, she would have said those tears, not these, as the latter pronoun must necessarily refer to something present at the time. M. MASON.
6 In his bright radiance and collateral light &c.] I cannot be united with him and move in the same sphere, but must be comforted at a distance by the radiance that shoots on all sides from him. JOHNSON.
So, in Milton's Paradise Lost, B. X:
from his radiant seat he rose
The ambition in my love thus plagues itself:
7 '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;] So, in our author's 24th Sonnet: "Mine eye hath play'd the painter, and hath steel'd "Thy beauty's form in table of my heart."
A table was in our author's time a term for a picture, in which sense it is used here. Tableau, French. So, on a picture painted in the time of Queen Elizabeth, in the possession of the Hon. Horace Walpole:
"The Queen to Walsingham this table sent,
Table here only signifies the board on which any picture was painted. So, in Mr. Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England, Vol. I. p. 58: "Item, one table with the picture of the Duchess of Milan." "Item, one table with the pictures of the King's Majesty and Queen Jane:" &c. Helena would not have talked of drawing Bertram's picture in her heart's picture; but considers her heart as the tablet or surface on which his resemblance was to be pourtrayed. STEEVENS.
- trick of his sweet favour:] So, in King John: "he hath a trick of Čœur de Lion's face." Trick seems to be some
peculiarity or feature. JOHNSON.
Trick is an expression taken from drawing, and is so explained in King John, Act I. sc. i. The present instance explains itself: to sit and draw
His arched brows, &c.
and trick of his sweet favour.
Trick, however, on the present occasion, may mean neither tracing nor outline, but peculiarity. STEEVENS.
Tricking is used by heralds for the delineation and colouring of arms, &c. MALONE.
But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancy
One that goes with him: I love him for his sake
Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;
That they take place, when virtue's steely bones
Cold, wisdom waiting on superfluous folly."
PAR. Save you, fair queen.
HEL. And you, monárch.1
HEL. And no.2
PAR. Are you meditating on virginity?
• Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.] Cold for naked; as superfluous for over-clothed. This makes the propriety of the antithesis. WARBURTON.
1 And you, monárch.] Perhaps here is some allusion designed to Monarcho, a ridiculous fantastical character of the age of Shakspeare. Concerning this person, see the notes on Love's Labour's Lost, Act IV. sc. i. STEEVEns.
And no.] I am no more a queen than you are a monarch, or Monarcho. MALONE.
-stain of soldier-] Stain for colour. Parolles was in red, as appears from his being afterwards called red-tail'd humble-bee. WARBURTON.
It does not appear from either of these expressions, that Parolles was entirely drest in red. Shakspeare writes only some stain of soldier, meaning in one sense, that he had red breeches on, (which is sufficiently evident from calling him afterwards red-tail'd humble-bee,) and in another, that he was a disgrace
you; let me ask you a question: Man is enemy to virginity; how may we barricado it against him? PAR. Keep him out.
HEL. But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant in the defence, yet is weak: unfold to us some warlike resistance.
PAR. There is none; man, sitting down before you, will undermine you, and blow you up.
HEL. Bless our poor virginity from underminers, and blowers up!-Is there no military policy, how virgins might blow up men?
PAR. Virginity, being blown down, man will quicklier be blown up: marry, in blowing him down again, with the breach yourselves made, you lose your city. It is not politick in the commonwealth
to soldiery. Stain is used in an adverse sense by Shakspeare, in Troilus and Cressida: " — nor any man an attaint, but he carries some stain of it."
Mr. M. Mason observes on this occasion that "though a red coat is now the mark of a soldier in the British service, it was not so in the days of Shakspeare, when we had no standing army, and the use of armour still prevailed." To this I reply, that the colour red has always been annexed to soldiership. Chaucer, in his Knight's Tale, v. 1749, has " Mars the rede," and Boccace has given Mars the same epithet in the opening of his Theseida: “Ŏ rubicondo Marte." STEEVENS.
I take the liberty of making one observation respecting Steevens's note on this passage, which is, that when Chaucer talks of Mars the red, and Boccace of the rubicondo Marte, they both allude to the countenance and complexion of the god, not to his clothes; but as Lafeu, in Act IV. sc. v. calls Parolles the redtailed humble-bee, it is probable that the colour of his dress was in Helena's contemplation. M. Mason.
Stain rather for what we now say tincture, some qualities, at least superficial, of a soldier. JOHNSON.
with the breach yourselves made, you lose your city.]
So, in our author's Lover's Complaint: