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Count. Well, now.
Stew. I know, madam, you love your gentlewoman entirely.
Count. Faith, I do: her father bequeathed her to me; and she herself, without other advantage, may lawfully make title to as much love as she finds: there is more owing her, than is paid; and more shall be paid her, than she 'll demand.
Stew. Madam, I was very late more near her than, I think, she wished me: alone she was, and did communicate to herself, her own words to her own ears; she thought, I dare vow for her, they touched not any stranger sense. Her matter was, she loved your son: Fortune, she said, was no goddess, that had put such difference betwixt their two estates; Love no god, that would not extend his might, only where qualities were level;' Diana, no queen of virgins, that would suffer her poor knight to be surprised, without rescue, in the first assault, or ransome afterward:2 This she delivered
humbly comply with the lawful commands of its superiors, while, at the same time, its proud spirit inwardly revolts against them.” I suspect, however, a still farther corruption ; and that the compositor caught the words “ no hurt" from the preceding line. Our author, perhaps, wrote_" Though honesty be a puritan, yet it will do what is enjoined; it will wear the surplice of humility, over the black gown of a big heart.” I will, therefore, obey my mis. tress, however reluctantly, and go for Helena. Malone.
only where qualities were level;] The meaning may be, where qualities only, and not fortunes or conditions, were level. Or, perhaps, only is used for except: that would not extend his might, except where two persons were of equal rank.”
Malone. Love, no god, &c. Diana, no queen of virgins, &c.] This passage stands thus in the old copies :
Love, no god, that would not extend his might only where qualities were level; queen of virgins, that would suffer her poor knight, &c.
'Tis evident to every sensible reader that something must have slipt out here, by which the meaning of the context is rendered defective. The steward is speaking in the very words he overheard of the young lady; fortune was no goddess, she said, for one reason ; love, no god, for another;-what could she then more naturally subjoin, than as I have amended in the text.
Diana, no queen of virgins, that would suffer her pour knight to be surprise:l without rescue, &c.
For, in poetical history, Diana was as well known to preside over chastity, as Cupid over love, or Fortune over the change or regulation of our circumstances. Theobald.
in the most bitter touch of sorrow, that e'er I heard vir. gin exclaim in: which I held my duty, speedily to acquaint you withal; sithence, 3 in the loss that may happen, it concerns you something to know it.
Count. You have discharged this honestly; keep it to yourself: many likelihoods informed me of this before, which hung so tottering in the balance, that I could neither believe, nor misdoubt: Pray you, leave me: stall this in your bosom, and I thank you for your honest care: I will speak with you further anon.
[Exit Stew. [Enter Helena.] Count. Even so it was with me, when I was young:
If we are nature's, these are ours; this thorn
Our blood to us, this to our blood is born;
Hel. What is your pleasure, madam?
You know, Helen,
sithence,] i.e. since. So, in Spenser's State of Ireland: the beginning of all other evils which sithence have afflicted that land.” Chaucer frequently uses sith, and sithen, in the same
Steevens. • If w
'we are nature's,] The old copy reads-If ever we are nature's. Steevens.
The emendation was made by Mr. Pope. Malone.
5 By our remembrances - ] That is, according to our recollection. So we say, he is old by my reckoning. Fohnson.
o Such were our faults ;- :-or then we thought them none.] We should read: -0! then we thought them none.
A motive for pity and pardon, agreeable to fact, and the indulgent character of the speaker. This was sent to the Oxford editor, and he altered O, to though. Warburton.
Such were the faulty weaknesses of which I was guilty in my youth, or such at least were then my feelings, though, perhaps, at that period of my life, I did not think they deserved the name of faults. Dr. Warburton, without necessity, as it seems to me, reads"0! then we thought them none;"--and the subsequent editors adopted the alteration. Malone. Search ue ont faults, for then ne honght ihon none
ms fol. 1632
Hel. Mine honourable mistress.
Nay, a mother;
That I am not.
Pardon, madam; The count Rousillon cannot be
Nor I your mother?
and choice breeds A native slip to us from foreign seeds : ] And our choice fur. nishes us with a slip propagated to us from foreign seeds, which we educate and treat, as if it were native to us, and sprung from ourselves. Heath.
What's the matter,
The many-colourd Iris, rounds thine eye.?] There is something exquisitely beautiful in this representation of that suffusion of colours which glimmers around the sight when the eye-lashes are wet with tears. The poet hath described the same appear. ance in his Rape of Lucrece :
" And round about her tear-distained eye
I care no more for, than I do for heaven,
Count. Yes, Helen, you might be my daughter-in-law;
or were you both our mothers,
So I were not his sister :] There is a designed ambiguity: I care no more for, is, I care as much for. I wish it equally.
Farmer. In Troilus and Cressida we find- I care not to be the louse of a lazar, so I were not Menelaus.” There the words certainly mean, I should not be sorry or unwilling to be, &c. According to this, then, the meaning of the passage before us should be, “ If you were mother to us both, it would not give me more solicitude than heaven gives me,-so I were not his sister.” But Helena certainly would not confess an indifference about her future state. However, she may mean, as Dr. Farmer has suggested, “ I should not care more than, but equally as, I care for future happiness; I should be as content, and solicit it as much, as I pray for the bliss of heaven.” Malone.
- Can 't no other,
But, I your daughter, he must be my brother?] The meaning is obscured by the elliptical diction. Can it be no other way, but if I be your daughter, he must be my brother ? Johnson.
strive -] To strive is to contend. So, in Cymbeline :
Now I see
Steevens. The mystery of her loveliness is beyond my comprehension: the old Countess is saying nothing ironical, nothing taunting, or in reproach, that this word should find a place here; which it could not unless sarcastically employed, and with some spleen. I dare warrant the poet meant his old lady should say no more than this: “I now find the mystery of your creeping into corners, and weeping, and pining in secret.” For this reason I have amended the text, loneliness. The Steward, in the foregoing scene, where he gives the Countess intelligence of Helena's behaviour, says
“ Alone she was, and did communicate to herself, her own words to her own ears.” Theobald.
You love my son; invention is asham'd,
Good madam, pardon me!
Your pardon, noble mistress!
Do not you love him, madam?
Then, I confess,
The late Mr. Hall had corrected this, I believe, rightly,—your lowliness. Tyrwhitt.
I think Theobald's correction as plausible. To choose solitude is a mark of love. Steevens.
Your salt tears' head.] The source, the fountain of your tears, the cause of your grief. Johnson.
in their kind -] i.e. their language, according to theiz Steevens.