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Count. 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 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. What heaven more will, That thee may furnish9, and my prayers pluck down, Fall on thy head! Farewell.—My lord, 'Tis an unseason'd courtier; good my lord, Advise him.
Laf. He cannot want the best That shall attend his love. Count. Heaven bless him!—Farewell, Bertram.
[Exit Countess. Ber. The best wishes, that can be forged in your thoughts [T. HELENA), be servants to you 10! 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; And these great tears 11 grace his remembrance more Than those I shed for him. What was he like? I have forgot him: my imagination Carries no favour in it, but Bertram's.
9 i.e. that may help thee with more and better qualifications.
10 i. e. may you be mistress of your wishes, and have power to bring them to effect.
11 That is, Helen's own tears, which were caused in reality by the departure of Bertram, though attributed by Lafeu and the Countess to the loss of her father, and which, from this misapprehension of theirs, graced his memory more than those she actually shed for him.
I am undone; there is no living, none,
Par. Save you, fair queen.
12 Helena considers her heart as the tablet on which his resemblance was portrayed.
13 i.e. every line and trace of his sweet countenance.
14 i. e. altogether, without any admixture of the opposite quality. A similar phrase occurs in Cupid's Revenge, by Beaumont and Fletcher:
‘She being only wicked.' 15 Cold for naked, as superfluous for overclothed. This makes the propriety of the antithesis.
16 Perhaps there is an allusion here to the fantastic Monarcho mentioned in a note on Love's Labour's Lost, Act i. Sc. 1.
Hel. Ay. You have some stain 17 of soldier in 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 of nature, to preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational increase; and there was never virgin got, till virginity was first lost. That, you were made of, is metal to make virgins. Virginity, by being once lost, may be ten times found: by being ever kept, it is ever lost: 'tis too cold a companion; away with it.
Hel. I will stand for't a little, though therefore I die a virgin.
Par. There's little can be said in't; 'tis against the rule of nature. To speak on the part of virginity, is to accuse your mothers; which is most infallible disobedience. He, that hangs himself is a virgin : virginity murders itself 18; and should be buried in highways, out of all sanctified limit, as a desperate offendress against nature, Virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese; consumes itself to the very paring, and so dies with feeding his own stomach. Besides, virginity is peevish, proud, idle, made of self-love, which is the most inhibited 19 sin in the canon. Keep it not: you cannot chose but lose by't: Out with't: within ten years it will make itself ten 20, which is a goodly increase, and the principal itself not much the worse: Away with’t.
17 That is, some tincture, some little of the hue or colour of a soldier; as much as to say, 'you that are a bit of a soldier.'
18 He that hangs himself, and a virgin, are in this circumstance alike, they are both self-destroyers,
Hel. How might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking ?
Par. Let me see: Marry, ill, to like him that ne'er it likes 21. 'Tis a commodity will lose the gloss with lying; the longer kept, the less worth: off with't, while 'tis vendible: answer the time of request. Virginity, like an old courtier, wears her cap out of fashion; richly suited, but unsuitable: just like the brooch and toothpick, which wear 22 not now: Your date 23 is better in your pie and your porridge, than in your cheek: And your virginity, your old virginity, is like one of our French withered pears; it looks ill, it eats dryly; marry, 'tis a withered pear; it was formerly better; marry, yet, 'tis a withered pear: Will you any thing with it?
20 The old copy reads, within ten years it will make itself two. The emendation is Hanmer's. Out with it is used equivocally. Applied to virginity, it means, give it away; part with it: considered in another light, it signifies put it out to interest, it will produce you ten for one.
21 Parolles plays upon the word liking, and says, ' She must do ill for virginity to be so lost, must like him that likes not virginity.
22 The old copy reads were, Rowe corrected it. Shakspeare here, as in other places, uses the active for the passive.
23 A quibble on date, which means age, and a candied fruit then much used in pies. The same quibble occurs in Troilus and Cressida, Act i. Sc. 2.. .
Hel. Not my virginity yet 24.-
Par. What one, i'faith?
Hel. That wishing well had not a body in't,
24 I cannot but think, with Hanmer and Johnson, that some such clause as “You're for the court,' has been omitted. Unless we suppose, with Malone, that the omission is in Parolles's speech, and that he may have said, 'I am now bound for the court. Something of the kind is necessary to connect Helena's rhapsodical speech; she could not mean to say, that she shall prove every thing to Bertram. There certainly means the court, where he will find mistresses enough, 'a thousand loves,' to whom he will give all the fond names 'that blinking Cupid gossips. Captain alone excepted, which should be read parenthetically as addressed to Parolles : each substantive forming part of the thousand loves has its article ; but captain none.
25 i.e. a number of pretty, fond, adopted appellations or Christian names, to which blind Cupid stands godfather. It is often used for baptism by old writers. See K. John, Act iv. Sc. 1:
- by my christendom,
I should be merry as the day is long.' 26 i. e, and show by realities what we now must only think.