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LAF. Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.
Count. 'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise in. The remembrance of her father never approaches her heart, but the tyranny of her sorrows takes all livelihood ? from her cheek. No more of this, Helena, go to, no more ; lest it be rather thought you affect a sorrow, than to have s.
Hel. I do affect a sorrow, indeed, but I have it too.
- can season her praise in.) To season has here a culinary sense; to preserve by salting. A passage in Twelfth-Night will best explain its meaning :
all this to seuson
“ Season'd with tears her joys, to see,” &c. Steevens. all livelihood --] i. e. all appearance of life. Steevens.
lest it be rather thought you affect a sorrow, than to Have.] Our author sometimes is guilty of such slight inaccuracies ; and concludes a sent nce as if the former part of it had been constructed differently. Thus, in the present instance, he seems to have meant-lest
you be rather thought to affect a sorrow, than to have.' So, in his 58th Sonnet:
“ That God forbid, that made me first your slave,
“ I should in thought control your times of pleasure,
“ Or at your hand the account of hours to crave.” But this inaccuracy was not peculiar to Shakspeare, as will be shown in the Essay on his Phraseology. Malone.
9 I do affect a sorrow, indeed, but I have it too.] Helena has, I believe, a meaning here, that she does not wish should be understood by the countess. Her affected sorrow was for the death of her father; her real grief for th , lowness of her situation, which she feared would for ever be a bar to her union with her beloved Bertram. Her own words afterwards fully support this interpreta
I think not on my father ;
What was he like?
I am undone.” Malone.
LAF. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the living.
Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal".
BER. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
she really felt, was for Bertram's departure. The line should be particularly attended to, as it tends to explain some subsequent passages which have hitherto been misunderstood. M. Mason.
If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.]
excessive grief is the enemy of the living :” the Countess replies, “ If the living be an enemy, to grief, the excess soon makes it mortal :” that is, . If the living do not indulge grief, grief destroys itself by its own excess.' By the word mortal I understand that which dies; and Dr. Warburton (who reads-be not enemy-] that which destroys. I think that my interpretation gives a sentence more acute and more refined. Let the reader judge. Johnson.
A passage in The Winter's Tale, in which our author again speaks of grief destroying itself by its own excess, adds support to Dr. Johnson's interpretation :
scarce any joy
“ But kill'd itself much sooner."
“ These violent delights have violent ends,
“ And in their triumph die.” Malone. 2. That thee may furnish,] That may help thee with more and better qualifications. Johnson.
Fall on thy head ! Farewell.-My lord,
LAF. He cannot want the best
[Exit Countess. BER. The best wishes, that can be forged in your thoughts, [To Helena.] be servants to you'! 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 fa
3 The best WISHES, &c.] That is, may you be mistress of your wishes, and have power to bring them to effect. Johnson.
4 Laf. Farewell, pretty lady: You must hold the credit of your father.
Hel. O, were that all ! &c.] Would that the attention to maintain the credit of my father, (or, not to act unbecoming the daughter of such a father,) were my only solicitude ! I think not of him. My cares are all for Bertram. Malone,
Hel. O, were that all !- I think not on my father.” This passage 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, (), 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 ther, whom she thinks no
And these great tears“ grace his remembrance
more Than those I shed for him. What was he like? I have forgot him: my imagination Carries no favour in't, but Bertram's. I am undone: there is no living, none, If Bertram be away. It were * all one, That I should love a bright particular star, And think to wed it, he is so above me : In his bright radiance and collateral light Must I be comforted, not in his sphere o.
* First folio, Tuwvere.
The verb to hold has exactly the same meaning—to maintain, as that which Mr. Mason would substitute in its place. Boswell.
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.
These for those is found in writers much more accurate than Shakspeare. Boswell.
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:
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,
“ Mark of her people's and her own content.” MALONE. 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.
A passage in The Custom of the Country, by Beaumont and Fletcher, as Mr. Weber has observed, confirms Mr. Malone's explanation of the word table :
he has a strange aspéct,
“ In a table of the passion.” BOSWELL.
TRICK of his sweet favour:] So, in King John: “ he hath a trick of Cour 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
and trick of his sweet favour." Trick, however, on the present occasion, may mean neither tracing nor outline, but peculiarity. STEEVENS.
Favour is countenance. It occi frequently in that sense in Shakspeare. Malone.