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But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancy
Enter PAROLLES. One that goes with him : I love him for his sake; And yet I know him a notorious liar, Think him a great way fool, solelyo a coward; Yet these fix'd evils sit so fit in him, That they take place, when virtue's steely bones Look bleak in the cold wind: withal, full oft we
Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly .
Par. Save you, fair queen. Hel. And you, monarch?. PAR. No. HEL. And no. Par. Are you meditating on virginity ? Hel. Ay. You have some stain of soldier * in 9 Solely a coward ;] Altogether a coward, without any admixture of the
opposite quality. A similar phrase occurs in Cupid's Revenge, by Beaumont and Fletcher:
“ She being only wicked.” Boswell. Cold wisdom waiting on SUPERFLUOUS folly.) Cold for naked; as superfluous for over-clothed. This makes the propriety of the antithesis. WARBURTON.
2 And you, monarch.) Perhaps here is some allusion designed to Monarcho, a ridiculous fantastical character of the age of Shakspeare. Concerning this person, see the notes on Love's Labour's Lost, Act IV. Sc. I. STEEVENS.
3 And no.] I am no more a queen than you are a monarch, or Monarcho. Malone. Stain of soldier -]
Stain for colour. Parolles was in red, as appears from his being afterwards called red-tail'd humblebee. WARBURTON.
It does not appear from either of these expressions, that Parolles was entirely drest in red. Shakspeare writes only some stain of soldier, meaning in one sense, that he had red breeches on, (which is sufficiently evident from calling him afterwards red-tail'd humble-bee,) and in another, that he was a disgrace to soldiery. Stain is used in an adverse sense by Shakspeare, in Troilus and Cressida : 6 nor any man an attaint, but he carries some stain of it.”
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
Mr. M. Mason observes on this occasion that " though a red coat is now the mark of a soldier in the British service, it was not so in the days of Shakspeare, when we had no standing army, and the use of armour still prevailed.” To this I reply, that the colour red has always been annexed to soldiership. "Chaucer, in his Knight's Tale, v. 1749, has “ Mars the rede," and Boccace has given Mars the same epithet in the opening of his Theseida : * O rubicondo Marte." STEEVENS.
I take the liberty of making one observation respecting Steevens's note on this passage, which is, that when Chaucer talks of Mars the red, and Boccace of the rubicondo Marte, they both allude to the countenance and complexion of the god, not to his clothes ; but as Lafeu, in Act IV. Sc. V. calls Parolles the redtailed humble-bee, it is probable that the colour of his dress was in Helena's contemplation. M. Mason.
Stain rather for what we now say tincture, some qualities, at least superficial, of a soldier. Johnson.
- with the breach yourselves made, you lose your city.] So, in our author's Lover's Complaint :
“ And long upon these terms I held my city,
“ Till thus he 'gan besiege me.” Again, in The Rape of Lucrece:
• This makes in him more rage, and lesser pity,
is rational increase 5; 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;
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 itselfo; 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 sin? in the canon. Keep it not; you cannot choose but loose by't : Out with't: within ten years it will make itself ten', which is a goodly increase; and
5 Loss of virginity is RATIONAL increase ;) I believe we should read, national. TYRWHITT.
Rational increase may mean the “regular increase by which rational beings are propagated.” Steevens.
• He, that hangs himself, is a virgin: virginity murders itself;] i. e. he that hangs himself, and a virgin, are in this circumstance alike; they are both self-destroyers. MALONE. 9 - INHIBITED sin -] i. e. forbidden. So, in Othello :
within ten years it will make itself ten,] The old copy reads- .“ within ten years it will make itself two." The emendation was made by Sir T. Hanmer. It was also suggested by Mr. Steevens, who likewise proposed to read" within two years it will make itself two." Mr. Tollet would read—“ within ten years it will make itself twelve.”
I formerly proposed to read—“Out with it: within ten months
the principal itself not much the worse : Away with't.
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'. 'Tis a commodity will lose the gloss with lying ; the longer kept, the less worth : off
it will make itself two." Part with it, and within ten months' time it will double itself; i. e. it will produce a child.
I now mention this conjecture, (in which I once had some confidence,) only for the purpose of acknowledging my error. I had not sufficiently attended to a former passage in this scene, “ Virginity, by being once lost, may be ten times found,” i. e. may produce ten virgins. Those words likewise are spoken by Parolles, and add such decisive support to Sir Thomas Hanmer's emendation, that I have not hesitated to adopt it.
The text, as exhibited in the old copy, is undoubtedly corrupt. It has already been observed, that many passages in these plays, in which numbers are introduced, are printed incorrectly. Our author's sixth Sonnet also fully supports this emendation :
“ That use is not forbidden usury,
If ten of thine ten times refigur'd thee." “ 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. In The Tempest we have—"Each putter out on five for one,” &c. MALONE.
There is no reason for altering the text. A well-known observation of the noble earl, to whom the horses of the present generation owe the length of their tails, contains the true explanation of this passage. Henley.
I cannot help repeating on this occasion, Justice Shallow's remark : “ Give me pardon, sir :- If you come with news, I take it there is but two ways ;-either to utter them, or to conceal them.” With this noble earl's notorious remark, I am quite unacquainted.
Steevens. 9 - Marry, ill, to like him that ne'er it likes.] Parolles, in answer to the question, “How one shall lose virginity to her own liking?" plays upon the word liking, and says, she must do ill, for virginity, to be so lost, must like him that likes not virginity.
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 tooth-pick, which wear not now?: Your date 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 ?
Hel. Not my virginity yet'.
- which wear not now :) Thus the old copy, and rightly. Shakspeare often uses the active for the passive. The modern editors read," which we wear not now." Tyrwhitt. The old copy has were. Mr. Rowe corrected it. MALONE.
your date is better -] Here is a quibble on the word date, which means both age, and a candied fruit much used in our author's time. So, in Romeo and Juliet :
They call for dates and quinces in the pastry.” The same quibble occurs in Troilus and Cressida : “ - and then to be bak'd with no date in the pie, for then the man's date is out." Steevens.
3 Not my virginity yet.] The whole speech is abrupt, unconnected, and obscure. Dr. Warburton thinks much of it supposititious. I would be glad to think so of the whole, for a commentator naturally wishes to reject what he cannot understand. Something, which should connect Helena's words with those of Parolles, seems to be wanting. Hanmer has made a fair attempt, by reading :
“Not my virginity yet. - You're for the court,
• There shall your master," &c. Some such clause has, I think, dropped out, but still the first words want connection. Perhaps Parolles, going away from his harangue, said, “ Will you any thing with me? to which Helen may reply. I know not what to do with the passage.
Johnson. I do not perceive so great a want of connection as my predecessors have apprehended; nor is that connection always to be sought for, in so careless a writer as ours, from the thought immediately preceding the reply of the speaker. Parolles has been laughing at the unprofitableness of virginity, especially when it grows ancient, and compares it to withered fruit. Helena, properly enough, replies, that hers is not yet in that state ; but that