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Count. [reads] I have sent you a daughter-in-law; she hath recovered the king, and undone me. I have wedded her, not bedded her; and sworn to make the not eternal. You shall hear, I am run away; know it, before the report come. If there be breadth enough in the world, I will hold a long distance. My duty to you. Your unfortunate son,
BERTRAM. This is not well, rash and unbridled boy, To fly the favours of so good a king; To pluck his indignation on thy head, By the misprizing of a maid too virtuous For the contempt of empire.
Re-enter Clown. Clo. O madam, yonder is heavy news within, between two soldiers and my young lady.
Count. What is the matter?
Clo. Nay, there is some comfort in the news, some comfort; your son will not be killed so soon as I thought he would.
Count. Why should he be kill'd?
Clo. So say I, madam, if he run away, as I hear he does: the danger is in standing to 't; that's the loss of men, though it be the getting of children. Here they come, will tell you more: for my part, I only hear, your son was run away.
[Exit Clo. Enter HELENA and two Gentlemen. i Gen. Save you, good madam. Hel. Madam, my lord is gone, for ever gone. 2 Gen. Do not say so.
Count. Think upon patience.- 'Pray you, gentlemen, I have felt so many quirks of joy, and grief, That the first face of neither, on the start, Can woman me? unto 't: Where is my son, I pray you?
2 Gen. Madam, he's gone to serve the duke of Flo
We met him thitherward; for thence we came,
1 Clo. E'en that -] Old copy-In that. Corrected by Mr. Theobald. Malone.
2 Can woman me —] i. e. affect me suddenly and deeply, as my sex are usually affected. Steevens.
And, after some despatch in hand at court,
Hel. Look on this letter, madam: here 's my passport. [reads] When thou canst get the ring upon my finger, 3
which never shall come off, and show me a child begotten of thy body, that I am father to, then call me hus
band: but in such a then I write a never. This is a dreadful sentence.
Count. Brought you this letter, gentlemen? 1 Gen.
Ay, madam; And, for the contents' sake, are sorry for our pains.
Count. I pr’ythee, lady, have a better cheer; If thou engrossest all the griefs are"thine, as Thou robb’st me of a moiety:" He was my son; But I do wash his name out of my blood, And thou art all my child.- Towards Florence is he?
2 Gen. Ay, madam.
And to be a soldier?
Return you thither? 1 Gen. Ay, madam, with the swiftest wing of speed.
3 When thou canst get the ring upon my finger,] i. e. When thou. canst get the ring, which is on my finger, into thy possession. The Oxford editor, who took it the other way, to signify, when thou canst get it on upon my finger, very sagaciously alters it to -When thou canst get the ring from my finger. Warburton.
I think Dr. Warburton's explanation sufficient; but I once read it thus: When thou canst get the ring upon thy finger, which never shall come off mine. Johnson.
Dr. Warburton's explanation is confirmed incontestably by these lines in the fifth Act, in which Helena again repeats the substance of this letter:
there is your ring:
“When from my finger you can get this ring,” &c. Malone, 4 If thou engrossest all the griefs are thine, Thou robb’st me of a moiety:] We should certainly read:
all the griefs as thine, instead of-are thine. M. Mason..
This sentiment is elliptically expressed, but, I believe, means no more than-If thou keepest all thy sorrows to thyself; i. e. "all the griefs that are thine, &c. Steevens.
Hel. [reads] Till I have no wife, I have nothing in
France. 'Tis bitter.
Count. Find you that there?
Ay, madam. 1 Gen. 'Tis but the boldness of his hand, haply, which His heart was not consenting to.
Count. Nothing in France, until he have no wife! There's nothing here, that is too good for him, But only she; and she deserves a lord, That twenty such rude boys might tend upon, And call her hourly, mistress. Who was with him?
1 Gen. A servant only, and a gentleman Which I have some time known. Count.
Parolles, was 't not? 1 Gen. Ay, my good lady, he. Count. A very tainted fellow, and full of wickedness: My son corrupts a well-derived nature With his inducement. 1 Gen.
Indeed, good lady,
Count. You are welcome, gentlemen. . e
We serve you, madam,
Count. Not so, but as we change our courtesies. 6
5-a deal of that, too much,
Which holds him much to have.] That is, his vices stand him in stead. Helen had before delivered this thought in all the beauty of expression:
I know him a notorious liar;
“ Look bleak in the cold wind." Warburton. Mr. Heath thinks that the meaning is, this fellow hath a deal too much of that which alone can hold or judge that he has much in him; i.e. folly and ignorance. Malone.
6 Not so, &c.] The gentlemen declare that they are servants to the Countess; she replies,-No otherwise than as she returns the same offices of civility. Fohnson.
hores hinn mich to leave mis. fol.
Will you draw near? [Exeunt Count. and Gentlemen.
Hel. Till I have no wife, I have nothing in France,
volant Fly with
false aim ; "move“the still-piecing air, wound
am the caitiff, that do hold him to it;
- move the still-piecing air,
That sings with piercing,] The words are here oddly shuffled into nonsense. We should read:
pierce the still-moving air,
That sings with piercing. i. e. pierce the air, which is in perpetual motion, and suffers no injury by piercing. Warburton.
The old copy reads—the still-peering air. Perhaps we might better read:
the still-piecing air, i. e. the air that closes immediately. This has been proposed already, but I forget by whom. Steevens.
Piece was formerly spelt-peece : so that there is but the change of one letter. See Twelfth Night, first folio, p. 262:
“Now, good Cesario, but that peece of song —,” Malone. I have no doubt that still-piecing was Shakspeare's word. But the passage is not yet quite sound. We should read, I believe,
rove the still-piecing air. i.e. fly at random through. The allusion is to shooting at rovers in archery, which was shooting without any particular aim.
Tyrwhitt. Mr. Tyrwhitt's reading destroys the designed antithesis hetween move and still ; nor is he correct in his definition of roving, which is not shooting without a particular aim, but at marks of uncertain lengths. Douce.
With sharp constraint of hunger; better 'twere
Lords, Officers, Soldiers, and Others.
Sir, it is
thou forth; And fortune play upon thy prosperous helm, 2
the ravin lion - ] i.e. the ravenous or ravening lion. To ravin is to swallow voraciously. Malone.
See Macbeth, Act IV, sc. i. Steevens.
9 Whence honour but of danger &c.] The sense is, from that abode, where all the advantages that honour usually reaps from the danger it rushes upon, is only a scar in testimony of its bravery, as, on the other hand, it often is the cause of losing all, even life itself. Heath. 1 We'll strive to bear it for your worthy sake,
To extreme edge of hazard.] So, in our author's 116th Sonnet:
“But bears it out even to the edge of doom.” Malone. Milton has borrowed this expression ; Par. Reg. B. I:
“ You see our danger on the utmost edge
6. Of hazard.” Steevens. 2 And fortune play upon thy prosperous helm,] So, in King Richard III: