Lar. Your reputation [To BERTRAM.] comes too short for my daughter, you are no husband for her.

BER. My lord, this is a fond and desperate creature,
Whom sometime I have laugh'd with: let your highness
Lay a more noble thought upon mine honour,
Than for to think that I would sink it here.

King. Sir, for my thoughts, you have them ill to friend,
Till your deeds gain them : fairer prove your honour,
Than in my thought it lies!

Good my lord,
Ask him upon his oath, if he does think
He had not my virginity.

KING. What say'st thou to her ?

She's impudent, my lord,
And was a common gamester to the camp.

Dia. He does me wrong, my lord ; if I were so,
He might have bought me at a common price:
Do not believe him: 0, behold this ring,
Whose high respect, and rich validity,
Did lack a parallel ; yet, for all that,
He gave it to a commoner o' the camp,
If I be one.

COUNT. He blushes, and 't is it:
Of six preceding ancestors, that gem
Conferrd by testament to the sequent issue,
Hath it been ow'd and worn. This is his wife;
That ring's a thousand proofs.

Methought, you said,
You saw one here in court could witness it.

DIA. I did, my lord, but loath am to produce
So bad an instrument; his name's Parolles.

LAF. I saw the man to-day, if man he be.
KING. Find him, and bring him hither. [Exit Attendants.

What of him?
He's quoted for a most perfidious slave,
With all the spots o' the world tax'd and deboshid;
Whose nature sickens, but to speak a truth.
Am I or that, or this, for what he'll utter,
That will speak any thing?

She hath that ring of yours.
BER. I think, she has : certain it is, I lik’d her,
And boarded her l' the wanton way of youth:
She knew her distance, and did angle for me,
Madding my eagerness with her restraint,
As all impediments in fancy's course
Are motives of more fancy; and, in fine,
Her infinite cunning a with her modern grace,

Her infinite cunning with her modern grace,–] The old copy reads, “Her insuite comming,&c. The extremely happy emendation in the text was first suggested by the late Mr. Sidney Walker, and has since been found among the annotations of Mr. Collier's “ Old Corrector."

Subdued me to her rate; she got the ring,
And I had that, which any inferior might
At market-price have bought.

I must be patient;
You, that turn'd off a first so noble wife,
May justly diet me. I pray you yet,
(Since you lack virtue, I will lose a husband,)
Send for your ring, I will return it home,
And give me mine again.

I have it not.
KING. What ring was yours, I pray you?

Sir, much like
The same upon your finger.
KING. Know you this ring? this ring was his of late.
Dia. And this was it I gave him, being a-bed.

KING. The story then goes false, you threw it him
Out of a casement.

I have spoke the truth.

BER. My lord, I do confess the ring was hers.

KING. You boggle shrewdly, every feather starts you.
Is this the man you speak of?

Ay, my lord.
KING. Tell me, sirrah, but, tell me true, I charge you,
Not fearing the displeasure of your master,
(Which, on your just proceeding, I'll keep off,)
By him, and by this woman here, what know you ?

PAR. So please your majesty, my master hath been an honourable gentleman; tricks he hath had in him, which gentlemen have.

KING. Come, come, to the purpose: did he love this woman?
PAR. 'Faith, sir, he did love her; but how !
KING. How, I pray you?
PAR. He did love her, sir, as a gentleman loves a woman.
KING. How is that?
Par. He loved her, sir, and loved her not.

KING. As thou art a knave, and no knave:-what an equivocal companion is this?

PAR. I am a poor man, and at your majesty's command.
LAF. He's a good drum, my lord, but a naughty orator.
Dia. Do you know, he promised me marriage ?
PAR. 'Faith, I know more than I'll speak.
KING. But wilt thou not speak all thou know'st ?

PAR. Yes, so please your majesty; I did go between them, as I said; but more than that, he loved her-for, indeed, he was mad for her, and talked of Satan, and of limbo, and of furies, and I know not what: yet I was in that credit with them at that time, that I knew of their going to bed, and of other motions, as, promising her marriage, and things that would derive me ill-will to speak of, therefore I will not speak what I know.

KING. Thou hast spoken all already, unless thou canst say they


are married. But thou art too finea in thy evidence; therefore stand
aside.—This ring, you say, was yours?

Ay, my good lord.
KING. Where did you buy it? or who gave it you?
Dia. It was not given me, nor I did not buy it.
KING. Who lent it you ?

It was not lent me neither.
KING. Where did you find it then ?

I found it not.
King. If it were yours by none of all these ways,
How could you give it him?

I never gave it him. LAF. This woman's an easy glove, my lord; she goes off and on at pleasure.

KING. This ring was mine, I gave it his first wife.
Dia. It might be yours, or hers, for aught I know.

KING. Take her away, I do not like her now;
To prison with her, and away with him.-
Unless thou tell’st me where thou hadst this ring,
Thou diest within this hour.

I'll never tell you.
King. Take her away.

I'll put in bail, my liege.
King. I think thee now some common customer.b
DIA. By Jove, if ever I knew man, 't was you.
KING. Wherefore hast thou accus'd him all this while ?

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 sir; [Exit Widow. The jeweller, that owes the ring, is sent for, And he shall surety me. But for this lord, Who hath abus'd me, as he knows hintself, Though yet he never harm'd me, here I quit him : He knows himself my bed he hath defild; And at that time he got his wife with child: Dead though she be, she feels her young one kick; So there's my riddle, One that's dead is quick, And now behold the meaning..

Re-enter Widow, with HELENA.

Is there no exorcist
Beguiles the truer office of mine eyes ?
Is 't real, that I see?

. Too fine in thy evidence ;] Trop fine, too full of finesse.

b Customer.] Customer was a term applied to a loose woman. Thus, in " Othello," Act IV. Sc. 1:

“I marry her! what? a customer.”


No, my good lord ;
'Tis but the shadow of a wife you see,
The name and not the thing.

Both, both; 0, pardon !
HEL. O, my good lord, when I was like this maid,
I found you wondrous 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 clearly,
I'll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly.

HEL. If it appear not plain, and prove untrue,
Deadly divorce step between me and you !
O, my dear mother, do I see you living ?

LAF. Mine eves 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,

Choose thou thy husband, and I'll pay thy dower;
For I can guess, that by thy 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.

[Flourish. (Advancing.) The king's a beggar, now the play is done : All is well ended, if this suit be won, That you express content; which we will pay, With strife to please you, day exceeding day: Ours be your patience then, and yours our parts, Your gentle hands lend us, and take our hearts.


(*) First folio, is.



(1) SCENE I.- To whom I am now in ward.] The heirs of great fortunes, from the feudal ages down to as late as the middle of the seventeenth century, were, both in this country and in parts of France, under the wardship of the sovereign.

(2) SCENE III.-Clown.] “The practice of retaining fools,” Douce observes, “can be traced in very remote times throughout almost all civilized and even among some barbarous nations. With respect to the antiquity of this custom in our own country, there is reason to suppose that it existed even during the period of our Saxon history; but we are quite certain of the fact in the reign of William the Conqueror. * * * The accounts of the household expenses of our sovereigns contain many payments and rewards to fools both foreign and domestic, the motives for which do not appear, but might perhaps have been some witty speech or comic action that had pleased the donors. Some of these payments are annual gifts at Christmas. Dr.

the court jester, whom, he says, some count a necessary evil, remarks, in his usual quaint manner, that it is an office which none but he that hath wit can perform, and none but he that wants it will perform. * * *

" The sort of entertainment that fools were expected to afford, may be collected, in great variety, from our old plays, and particularly from those of Shakespeare ; but perhaps no better idea can be formed of their general mode of conduct than from the following passage in a singular tract by Lodge, entitled Wit's Miserie, 1599, 4to :'Immoderate and disordinate joy became incorporate in the bodie of a jeaster; this fellow in person is comely, in apparell courtly, but in behaviour a very ape, and no man; his studie is to coine bitter jeasts, or to shew antique motions, or to sing baudie sonnets and ballads : give him a little wine in his head, he is continually flearing and making of mouthes : he laughs intemperately at every little occasion, and dances about the house, leaps over tables, out-skips mens heads, trips up his companions heeles, burns sack with a candle, and hath all the feats of a lord of misrule in the countrie feed him in his humor, you shall have his heart, in meere kindness he will hug you in his armes, kisse you on the cheeke, and rapping out an horrible oth, crie Gods soule Tum, I love you, you know my poore heart, come to my chamber for a pipe of tabacco, there lives not a man in this world that I more honor. In these ceremonies you shall know his courting, and it is a speciall mark of him at the table, he sits and makes faces: keep not this fellow company, for in jugling with him, your wardropes shall be wasted, your credits crackt, your crownes consumed, and time (the most precious riches of the world) utterly lost. This is the picture of a real hireling or artificial fool.'” The reader desirous of further information on the duties of the domestic jester will find them pleasantly illustrated in a curious and valuable tract, called Armin's “Nest of Ninnies," 1608; of which a reprint has been made, from the only known copy, for the Shakespeare Society.

(3) SCENE III.-A prophet I, madam.] “It is a supposition, which has run through all ages and people, that natural fools have something in them of divinity; on which account they were esteemed sacred. Travellers tell us in what esteem the Turks now hold them; nor had they less honour paid them heretofore in France, as appears from the old word benet, for a natural fool." - WARBURTON.

(4) SCENE III.- One good woiman in ten, madam; which is a purifying o' the song.]

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