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Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.1
Ber. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
Count. Be thou blessed Bertram! and succeed thy father
In manners, as in shape! Thy blood, and virtue,
Laf. He cannot want the best
Count. Heaven bless him!-Farewell, Bertram. [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
I am undone; there is no living, none,
That is, “if the living do not indulge grief, grief destroys itself by its own excess."
2 i. e. that may help thee with more and better qualifications.
3 That is, Helen's own tears, which were caused, in reality, by the departure of Bertram, though attributed by Lafeu and the countess to the loss of her father, and which, from this misapprehension of theirs, graced his memory more than those she actually shed for him.
That I should love a bright particular star,
One that goes with him: I love him for his sake,
Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;
That they take place, when virtue's steely bones Look bleak in the cold wind: withal, full oft we see Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.
Par. Save you, fair queen.
Hel. And you, monarch.
Hel. And no.
Par. Are you meditating on virginity?
Hel. Ay. You have some stain of soldier in 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.
1 i. e. countenance.
2 i. e. altogether.
3 That is, some tincture, some little of the hue or color of a soldier.
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 politic in the commonwealth of nature to preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational increase; 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; away with it.
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 itself; 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 lose by't. Out with't: within ten years it will make itself two,' which is a goodly increase, and 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 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
1 Hanmer proposes to substitute ten for two.
the brooch and toothpick, 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.3.
There shall your master have a thousand loves,
A phoenix, captain, and an enemy,
Hel. That I wish well.-'Tis pity-
Hel. That wishing well had not a body in't,
The old copy reads were; Rowe corrected it. Shakspeare here, as in other places, uses the active for the passive.
2 A quibble on date, which means age, and a candied fruit then much used in pies.
3 Hanmer and Johnson suggest that some such clause as "You're for the court," has been omitted. Something of the kind is necessary to connect Helena's rhapsodical speech.
4 i. e. a number of pretty, fond, adopted appellations or Christian names, to which blind Cupid stands godfather. It is often used for baptism by old writers.
5 i. e. and show by realities what we now must only think.
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. I especially think, under Mars.
Par. Why under Mars?
Hel. The wars have so kept you under, that you must needs be born under Mars.
Par. When he was predominant.
Hel. When he was retrograde, I think, rather.
Par. Why think you so?
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 valor and fear makes in you, is a virtue of a good wing,' and I like the wear well.
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.
Hel. Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, Which we ascribe to Heaven. The fated sky Gives us free scope; only, doth backward pull Our slow designs, when we ourselves are dull.
1 A bird of good wing was a bird of swift and strong flight.
2 Capable and susceptible were synonymous in Shakspeare's time, as appears by the dictionaries.