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There shall your master have a thousand loves,
in the enjoyment of her, his master should find the gratification of all his most romantic wishes. What Dr. Warburton says afterwards is said at random, as all positive declarations of the same kind must of necessity be. Were I to propose any change, I would read should instead of shall. It does not, however, appear that this rapturous effusion of Helena was designed to be intelligible to Parolles. Its obscurity, therefore, may be its merit. It sufficiently explains what is passing in the mind of the speaker, to every one but him to whom she does not mean to explain it.
STEEVENS. Perhaps we should read: “Will you any thing with us?” i. e. will you send any thing with us to court ? to which Helena's answer would be proper enough—
“ Not my virginity yet.” A similar phrase occurs in Twelfth-Night, Act III. Sc. I. :
“ You'll nothing, madam, to my lord by me? TYRWHITT. Perhaps something has been omitted in Parolles's speech : “I am now bound for the court; will you any thing with it [i, e. with the court !] ” So, in The Winter's Tale :
“ Tell me what you have to the king." Again, in Timon of Athens:
" What would'st thou have to Athens ?” I do not agree with Mr. Steevens in the latter part of his note;
that in the enjoyment of her,” &c. Malone. I am satisfied the passage is as Shakspeare left it. Parolles, after having cried down, with all his eloquence, old virginity, in reference to what he had before said, “ That virginity is a commodity the longer kept, the less worth : off with't, while 'tis vendible. Answer the time of request,” asks Helena, “Will you any thing with it?”—to which she replies" Not my virginity yet.” Henley.
4 A phenix, &c.] The eight lines following friend, I am persuaded, is the nonsense of some foolish conceited player. What put it into his head was Helen's saying, as it should be read for the future:
“ There shall your master have a thousand loves;
“ I know not what he shall-God send him well.” Where the fellow, finding a thousand loves spoken of, and only three reckoned up, namely, a mother's, a mistress's, and a friend's, (which, by the way, were all a judicious writer could mention; for there are but three species of love in nature,) he would help VOL. X.
A guide, a goddess, and a sovereign,
out the number, by the intermediate nonsense : and, because they were yet too few, he pieces out his loves with enmities, and makes of the whole such finished nonsense, as is never heard out of Bedlam. WARBURTON.
- captain,] Our author often uses this word for a head or chief. So, in one of his Sonnets :
“ Or captain jewels in the carkanet.” Again, in Timon of Athens : “ - the ass more captain than the lion.”
Again, more appositely, in Othello, where it is applied to Desdemona:
- our great captain's captain. We find some of these terms of endearment again used in The Winter's Tale. Leontes says to the young Mamillius,
“ Come, captain, we must be neat,” &c. Again, in the same scene, Polixenes, speaking of his son, says: “ He's all my exercise, my mirth,
My parasite, my soldier, statesman, all.” MALONE. - A TRAITRESS.] It seems that traitress was in that age a term of endearment, for when Lafeu introduces Helena to the king, he says,
“ You are like a traytor, but such traytors his majesty does not much fear.” Johnson.
I cannot conceive that traitress (spoken seriously) was in any age a term of endearment. From the present passage, we might as well suppose enemy (in the last line but one) to be a term of endearment. In the other passage quoted, Lafeu is plainly speaking ironically. TYRWHITT.
“ Traditora, a traitress,” in the Italian language, is generally used as a term of endearment. The meaning of Helena is, that she shall prove every thing to Bertram. Our ancient writers delighted in catalogues, and always characterize love by contratrarieties. STEEVENS.
Falstaff, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, says to Mrs. Ford :
Thou art a traitor to say so.” In his interview with her, he certainly meant to use the language of love.
Helena, however, I think, does not mean to say that she shall prove every thing to Bertram, but to express her apprehension that he will find at the court some lady or ladies who shall prove every thing to him; (“a phænix, captain, counsellor, traitress ; " &c.) to whom he will give all the fond names that “blinking Cupid gossips." Malone.
I believe it would not be difficult to find in the love poetry of those times an authority for most, if not for every one, of these
His humble ambition, proud humility,
Par. What one, i'faith ?
Hel. That wishing well had not a body in't, Which might be felt: that we, the poorer born, Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes, whimsical titles. At least I can affirm it from knowledge, that far the greater part of them are to be found in the Italian lyrick poetry, which was the model from which our poets chiefly copied.
Heath. 7 - christendoms,] This word, which signifies the collective body of christianity, every place where the christian religion is embraced, is surely used with much licence on the present occasion. It is also employed with a similar sense in an Epitaph an only Child,” which the reader will find at the end of Wit's Recreations, 1640 :
“ As here a name and christendome to obtain,
“ And to his Maker then return again.” STEEVENS. It is used by another ancient writer in the same sense ; so that the word probably bore, in our author's time, the signification which he has affixed to it. So, in A Royal Arbor of Loyal Poesie, by Thomas Jordan, no date, but printed about 1661 :
“She is baptiz'd in Christendom,
[i. e. by a christian name,]
6 The Jew cries out he's undone-" These lines are found in a ballad formed on part of the story of The Merchant of Venice, in which it is remarkable that it is the Jew's daughter, and not Portia, that saves the Merchant's life by pleading his cause. There should seem therefore to have been some novel on this subject that has hitherto escaped the researches of the commentators. In the same book are ballads founded on the fables of Much Ado About Nothing, and The Winter's Tale.
The term in the text is used by Nash in Four Letters Confuted : “ But for an author to renounce his Christendome to write in his owne commendation, to refuse the name which his Godfathers and Godmothers gave him in his baptisme,” &c. MALONE.
Might with effects of them follow our friends,
Enter a Page. PAGE. Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you.
[Exit Page. Par. Little Helen, farewell: if I can remember thee, I will think of thee at court.
Hel. Monsieur Parolles, you were born under a charitable star.
Par. Under Mars, I.
Hel. The wars have so kept you under, that you must needs be born under Mars.
Par. When he was predominant.
Hel. You go so much backward, when you fight.
Par. That's for advantage.
Hel. So is running away, when fear proposes the safety : But the composition, that your valour and fear makes in you, is a virtue of a good wing”, and I like the wear well.
8 And show what we alone must think ;] And show by realities what we now must only think. Johnson.
- is a virtue of a GOOD wing,] Mr. Edwards is of opinion, that a “virtue of a good wing ” refers to his nimbleness or fleetness in running away. The phrase, however, is taken from falconry, as may appear from the following passage in Marston's Fawne, 1606 : “ I love my horse after a journeying, easiness, as he is easy in journeying: my hawk, for the goodness of his wing,” &c. Or it may be taken from dress. So, in Every Man out of his Humour : " I would have mine such a suit without a difference; such stuff, such a wing, such a sleeve," &c. Mr. Tollet observes, that a good wing signifies a strong wing in Lord Bacon's Natural History, experiment
Par. I am so full of businesses, I cannot answer thee acutely: I will return perfect courtier; in the which, my instruction shall serve to naturalize thee, so thou wilt be capable of a courtier's counsel', and understand what advice shall thrust upon thee; else thou diest in thine unthankfulness, and thine ignorance makes thee away: farewell. When thou hast leisure, say thy prayers; when thou hast none, remember thy friends: get thee a good husband, and use him as he uses thee : so farewell. [Exit.
866 :-“ Certainly many birds of a good wing (as kites and the like) would bear up a good weight as they fly. The same phrase, however, anciently belonged to archery. So Ascham, in his Toxophilus, edit. 1589, p. 57: “ - another shaft-because it is lower feathered, or else because it is of a better wing,” &c. STEEVENS.
The reading of the old copy (which Dr. Warburton changed to ming) is supported by a passage in King Henry V. in which we meet with a similar expression: “ Though his affections are higher mounted than ours, yet when they stoop, they stoop with the like wing." Again, in King Henry IV. Part I. :
“ Yet let me 'wonder, Harry,
MALONE. The meaning of this passage appears to be this : valour will suffer you to go backward for advantage, and your fear for the same reason will make you run away, the composition that
your valour and fear make in you, must be a virtue that will fly far and swiftly.”—A bird of a good wing, is a bird of swift and strong flight.
Though the latter part of this sentence is sense as it stands I cannot help thinking that there is an error in it, and that we ought to read—“ And is like to wear well,” instead of “ I like the wear well.” M. Mason.
- so thou wilt be CAPABLE of a courtier's counsel,] i. e. thou wilt comprehend it. See a note in Hamlet, vol. vii.p. 399, on the words
Whose form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones, “ Would make them capable.” MALONE. The word in this sense occurs a few pages before this :
heart too capable “Of every line and trick of his sweet favour.". Boswell.