Imatges de pàgina

--" Or were you both our mothers,

I cure no more for than I do for heaven,

So I were not his sister."—Act I., Scene 3.

"I care no more for," here signifies, "I care as much for; I wish it equally."

"Let higher Italy

(Those 'bated, that inherit but the fall

Of the last monarchy) see that you come

Not to woo honour, but to wed it."-Act II., Scene 1. This passage is confessedly obscure, and probably corrupt. The meaning, according to Dr. Johnson, is this:"Let Upper Italy, where you are to exercise your valour, see that you come to gain honour, to the abatement (that is, to the disgrace and depression) of those that have now lost their ancient military fame, and inherit but the fall of the last monarchy." Hanmer proposed to read "bastards" for "'bated;" and the whole tenour of the passage makes the suggestion highly probable.

"I have spoke

With one that, in her sex, her years, profession, Wisdom, and constancy, hath amazed me more Than I dare blame my weakness."-Act II., Scene 1. Lafeu, perhaps, means that the amazement Helena excited in him, was so great, that he could not impute it merely to his own weakness, but to the wonderful qualities of the object that occasioned it.

"I am not an impostor, that proclaim Myself against the level of mine aim." Act II., Scene 1. That is, I am not an impostor that proclaim one thing and design another; that proclaim a cure, and aim at a fraud: I think what I speak.


"Youth, beauty, wisdom, courage, all

That happiness and prime can happy call."

Act II, Scene 1. Prime is here used as a substantive, and means that sprightly vigour which usually accompanies the prime of So in Montaigne's " ESSAYS," translated by Florio:"Many things seem greater by imagination than by effect. I have passed over a good part of my age in sound and perfect health: I say, not only sound, but blithe and wantonly lustful. That state, full of lust, of prime, and mirth, made me deem the consideration of sicknesses so irksome, that, when I came to the experience of them, I have found their fits but weak."

"Good alone

Is good, without a name; vileness is so.".

Act II, Scene 3. The meaning is-Good is good, independent of any worldly distinction or title: so, vileness is vile, in whatever state it may appear. The same phraseology is found in "MACBETH:""Though all things foul would wear the brow of grace, Yet grace must still look so:"

that is, must still look like grace; like itself.

"Well, thou hast a son shall take this disgrace off me." Act II., Scene 3. This the poet makes Parolles speak alone; and this is A coward should try to hide his poltroonery, even from himself. An ordinary writer would have been glad of such an opportunity to bring him to confession.-WARBURTON.


"War is no strife

To the dark house and the detested wife."
Act II., Scene 3
The dark house is a house made gloomy by discontent.

Milton says of Death and the King of Hell, preparing to combat:

"So frowned the mighty combatants, that hell
Grew darker at their frown."

Perhaps this is the same thought, though more solemnly expressed, that we meet with in "KING HENRY IV.," Part I.:-"He's as tedious

As a tired horse, a railing wife;
Worse than a smoky house."

"You have made shift to run into't, boots and spurs and all, like him that leaped into the custard."-Act II., Scene 5.

Our old dramatists abound with pleasant allusions to the enormous size of their "quaking custards," which were served up at the city feasts, and with which such gross fooleries were played. Thus Glapthorne:

"I'll write the city annals,

In metre which shall far surpass Sir Guy Of Warwick's History, or John Stow's, upon The custard with the four-and twenty nooks, At my lord-mayor's feast."-WIT IN A CONSTABLE. Indeed, no common supply was required; for, besides what the corporation (great devourers of custards) consumed on the spot, it appears that it was thought no breach of city manners to send or take some of it home with them, for the use of their ladies.-GIFFORD.

"Why, he will look upon his boot, and sing; mend the ruff, and sing."-Act III., Scene 2.

The tops of the boots, in Shakspere's time, turned down, and hung loosely over the leg. The folding part, or top, was the ruff: it was of softer leather than the boot, and often fringed. Ben Jonson calls it the ruffle :-"Not having leisure to put off my silver spurs, one of the rowels catched hold of the ruffle of my boot."- EVERY MAN OUT OF HIS HUMOUR. To this fashion, also, Bishop Earle alludes in his "CHARACTERS" (1638):-" He has learned to ruffle his face from his boot, and takes great delight in his walk to hear his spurs jingle."

"Come thou home, Rousillon, Whence honour but of danger wins a scar; As oft it loses all."-Act III., Scene 2.

The sense is-Come from that place where all the advantage 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.

"Where do the palmers lodge, I do beseech you?"
Act III., Scene 5.

Palmers were so called from a staff or bough of palm they were wont to carry, especially such as had visited the holy places at Jerusalem. A pilgrim and a palmer are said to have differed thus: a pilgrim had some dwelling-place, a palmer had none; the pilgrim travelled to some certain place, the palmer to all, and not to any one in particular; the pilgrim must go at his own charge, the palmer must profess wilful poverty; the pilgrim might give over his profession, the palmer must be constant.

"If you give him not John Drum's entertainment, your inclining cannot be removed."-Act III., Scene 6.

"John Drum's entertainment" (the Christian name varying) appears to have been a common phrase to signify illtreatment. There is an old motley interlude (printed in 1601), called "JACK DRUM'S ENTERTAINMENT," in which Jack Drum is a servant of intrigue, who is ever aiming at projects, and always foiled. Holinshed, in his description of Ireland, speaking of the hospitality of Patrick Sarsfield (mayor of

Dublin in 1551), says,-"No porter, or any other officer, durst not, for both his ears, give the simplest man that resorted to his house, Tom Drum his entertainment; which is, to hale a man in by the head, and thrust him out by both the shoulders."

"I would have that drum or another, or hic jacet."

Act III., Scene 6. "Hic jacet" (here lies) is a common commencement of epitaphs. Parolles means to say, that he would either recover the lost drum, or another belonging to the enemy, or die in the attempt.

"I will presently pen down my dilemmas."

Act III., Scene 6. By "dilemmas" is meant his plans, on the one hand, and the probable obstructions he was to meet with, on the other.

"What is not holy, that we swear not by,

But take the Highest to witness. Then, pray you, tell me,
If I should swear by Jove's great attributes

I loved you dearly, would you believe my oaths,
When I did love you ill ?"-Act IV., Scene 2.

The sense is-We never swear by what is not holy, but swear by, or take to witness, the Highest, the Divinity. The tenour of the reasoning contained in the following lines, perfectly corresponds with this:-If I should swear by Jove's great attributes that I loved you dearly, would you believe my oaths, when you found by experience that I loved you ill, and was endeavouring to gain credit with you in order to seduce you to your ruin? No surely; you would conclude that I had no faith either in Jove or his attributes, and that my oaths were mere words of course.

"I see that men make hopes, in such a war,

That we'll forsake ourselves."-Act IV., Scene 2. The old copy reads, "make ropes in such a scarre." Rowe changed it to "make hopes in such affairs; and Malone to "hopes in such a scene." But affairs and scene have no literal resemblance to the old word "scarre:" warre is always so written in the old copy; the change is therefore less violent, more probable, and, I think, makes better sense. -SINGER.

"Enter the two French Lords, and two or three Soldiers." Act IV., Scene 3. The latter editors have, with great liberality, bestowed lordship upon these interlocutors, who, in the original edition, are called with more propriety Capt. E. and Capt. G.JOHNSON.

These two personages may be supposed to be two young French lords, serving in the Florentine camp, where they now appear in their military capacity. In the first scene, where the two French lords are introduced taking leave of the King, they are called, in the original edition, Lord E. and Lord G.-G. and E. were, I believe, only put to denote the players who performed these characters. In the list of actors prefixed to the first folio, I find the names of Gilburne and Ecclestone, to whom these insignificant parts probably fell. -MALONE.

"I would gladly have him see his company anatomised; that he might take a measure of his own judgments." Act IV., Scene 3. This a very just and moral reason. Bertram, by finding how erroneously he has judged, will be less confident, and more easily moved by admonition.-JOHNSON.

"Bring forth this counterfeit module."-Act IV., Scene 3.

It appears that "module" and model were synonimous. The meaning is-Bring forth this fellow, who, by counterfeiting virtue, pretended to make himself a pattern.

"His heels have deserved it, in usurping his spurs so long." Act IV., Scene 3. The punishment of a recreant or coward was, to have his spurs hacked off.

"He was whipped for getting the sheriff's fool with child; a dumb innocent, that could not say him nay."

Act IV., Scene 3.

Female fools were sometimes retained in families for diversion, though much less frequently than males. "Innocent" meant, in the good-natured language of our ancestors, an idiot, or natural fool. The following is the entry of a burial in the parish register of Charlewood, in Surrey:"Thomas Sole, an innocent, about the age of fifty years and upwards, buried 19th September, 1605."

"Why does he ask him of me?"—Act IV., Scene 3. This is nature. Every man is, on such occasions, more willing to hear his neighbour's character than his own.JOHNSON.

"His grace is at Marseilles; to which place

We have convenient convoy.”—Act IV., Scene 4. It appears from this line and others, in the present play and the "TAMING OF THE SHREW," that "Marseilles" was pronounced as a word of three syllables. The old copy has here Marcellæ, and in the last scene of this Act, Marcellus.

"Whose villanous saffron would have made all the unbaked and doughy youth of a nation in his colour."

Act IV., Scene 5. Parolles is the person here alluded to. The meaning is, that his evil qualities are of so deep a dye, as to be sufficient to corrupt the inexperienced, and to make them of the same disposition with himself. The general custom at that time, of colouring pastry with saffron, probably suggested the remark. In the "WINTER'S TALE," we find, "I must have saffron to colour the warden-pies."

"I would give his wife my bauble, sir, to do her service.” Act IV., Scene 5.

Part of the equipment of a professional fool, was a bauble, which was a kind of short stick, or truncheon, with a fool's head carved on it, or sometimes that of a doll or puppet. To this instrument was frequently annexed an inflated bladder, with which the fool belaboured those with whom he was inclined to make sport. An ancient proverb in Ray's collection, points out the material of which these baubles were made: "If every fool should wear a bauble, fuel would be dear."

"But it is your carbonadoed face."-Act IV., Scene 5.

"Carbonadoed" means "slashed over the face in a manner that fetcheth the flesh with it." The term is derived from

carbonado, a collop of meat. In "KING LEAR," Kent says to the steward, "I'll carbonado your shanks for you."

"Enter a Gentle Astringer."-Act V., Scene 1. This term signified a gentleman falconer. The word is derived from asturcus, or austurcus, a goshawk. Cowell, in his Law Dictionary, says,-" We usually call a falconer who keeps that kind of hawk, an astringer." The "Gentle Astringer" in question was probably an officer of the court, and a noble.

"I will come after you, with what good speed

Our means will make us means."—Act V., Scene 1. Helena intends to say, that they will follow with such speed as the means which they have will give them ability to


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My forepast proofs, howe'er the matter fall, Shall tax my fears of little vanity,

Having vainly feared too little."-Act V., Scene 3.

The meaning probably is-The proofs which I have already had, are sufficient to shew that my fears were not vain and irrational: I have rather been more easy than I ought, and have unreasonably had too little fear.

"Here's a petition from a Florentine,

Who hath, for four or five removes, come short
To tender it herself."-Act V., Scene 3.

"Removes" are stages or journeys. The petitioner had lost the opportunity of presenting the paper herself, either at Marseilles, or on the road from thence to Rousillon, in consequence of having been four or five removes behind the


"I will buy me a son-in-law in a fair, and toll for this."— Act V., Scene 3. The allusion is to the custom of paying toll for the liberty of selling in a fair. Lafeu means to say, he will buy a sonin-law in a fair, and sell his intended one; pay toll for the liberty of selling him. The practice is thus alluded to in "HUDIBRAS:"

"Can I bring proof
Where, when, by whom, and what y' were sold for,
And in the open market tolled for?"

"I wonder, sir, since wives are monsters to you, And that you fly them as you swear them lordship, Yet you desire to marry.' ."-Act V., Scene 3. "Lordship" is probably intended for that protection which the husband, in the marriage ceremony, promises to the wife.

"But thou art too fine in thy evidence."-Act V., Scene 3.

"Too fine" signifies too full of finesse. In Bacon's "APOPHTHEGMS," the term is used in its better sense:"Your majesty was too fine for my Lord Burleigh."

The following is a short abstract of the tale of "Giletta of Narbonne," in Painter's " PALACE OF PLEASURE" (1575), on which the present play is founded:

Isnardo, Count of Rossiglione, retains a famous physician, Gerardo of Narbona, whose daughter is in love with the Count's son, Bertram. Isnardo dies; his son becomes the King's ward, and is sent to Paris. The physician dying, Giletta makes a journey in pursuit of Bertram. The King languishes under a malady thought incurable; Giletta, furnished with a specific of her father's, promises to effect a cure in eight days: the penalty of failure is death; but if successful, she stipulates for permission to choose a husband, with reservation only of the royal blood. The King is cured; Giletta fixes on Bertram; and he, unable to disobey the King, consents to the marriage: disgusted, however, with the meanness of her family, he joins the Florentine army; and in reply to her submissive messages from Rossiglione, he coldly says, "Let her do what she list; for I do purpose to dwell with her when she shall have this ring upon her finger, and a son in her arms begotten by me."

Giletta provides herself with money, and travels to Florence: here she finds that Bertram is in love with the daughter of a poor but reputable lady, to whose house she repairs, and, explaining her situation, proposes that the young woman should agree to the Count's wishes, on his giving her the ring he wore. Preparations are made for Bertram's introduction at the dead of night, and Giletta, The instead of the young lady, receives him in her arms. ring is obtained, and Giletta, in due time, has the satisfaction of giving birth to two sons, both bearing a strong likeness to their father.

Bertram, informed of his wife's absence, determines to return home. He gives, when there, a great entertainment; and Giletta, "with his ring on her finger, and twin sons, begotten by him, in her arms," prostrates herself before him, and supplicates to be acknowledged as his wife. The Count kisses her, and vows henceforth to love and honour her.

The story of "ALL'8 WELL THAT ENDS WELL," and of several others of Shakspere's plays, is taken from Boccaccio. The poet has dramatised the original novel with great skill and comic spirit, and has preserved all the beauty of character and sentiment, without improving upon it, which was impossible. There are, indeed, in Boccaccio's serious pieces, a truth, a pathos, and an exquisite refinement of sentiment, which are hardly to be met with in any other prose-writer whatever. Justice has not been done him by the world. He has in general passed for a mere narrator of lascivious tales or idle jests. This character probably originated in his obnoxious attacks on the monks, and has been kept up by the grossness of mankind, who revenged their own want of refinement on Boccaccio, and only saw in his writings what suited the coarseness of their own tastes. But the truth is, that he has carried sentiment of every kind to its very highest purity and perfection. By sentiment, we would here understand the habitual workings of some one powerful feeling, where the heart reposes almost entirely upon itself, without the violent excitement of opposing duties or untoward circumstances.

The invention implied in his different tales, is immense: but we are not to infer that it is all his own. He probably availed himself of all the common traditions which were floating in his time, and which he was the first to appropriate. Homer appears the most original of all authors, probably for no other reason than that we can trace the plagiarism no farther.-HAZLITT.

The comic parts of the plot of "ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL," and the characters of the Countess, Lafeu, &c., are of the poet's own creation; and, in the conduct of the fable, he has found it expedient to depart from his original more than it is his usual custom to do.

Johnson has expressed his dislike of the character of Bertram, and most fair readers have manifested their abhorrence of him, and have thought with Johnson that he ought not to have gone unpunished, for the sake not only of poetical but of moral justice. Schlegel has remarked, that "Shakspere never attempts to mitigate the impression of his unfeeling pride and giddy dissipation. He intended merely to give us a military portrait; and paints the true way of the world, according to which the injustice of men towards women is not considered in a very serious light, if they only maintain what is called the honour of the family."— "-The fact is, that the construction of his plot prevented him. Helen was to be rewarded for her heroic and persevering affection; and any more serious punishment than the temporary shame and remorse that awaits Bertram, would have been inconsistent with comedy. It should also be remembered that he was constrained to marry Helen against his will. Shakspere was a good-natured moralist; and, like his own creation, old Lafeu, though he was delighted to strip off the mask of pretension, he thought that punishment might be carried too far.-SINGER.

Helena is the union of strength of passion with strength of character. "To be tremblingly alive to gentle impressions, and yet able to preserve, when the prosecution of a design requires it, an immovable heart, amidst even the most imperious causes of subduing emotion, is, perhaps, not an impossible constitution of mind; but it is the utmost and rarest endowment of humanity."-FOSTER'S ESSAYS. Such a character, almost as difficult to delineate in fiction as to find in real life, has Shakspere given us in Helena, touched with the most soul-subduing pathos, and developed with the most consummate skill.

Although Helena tells herself that she loves in vain, a conviction stronger than reason tells her that she does not. Her love is like a religion, pure, holy, and deep: the blessedness to which she has lifted her thoughts, is ever before her:

-to despair would be a crime, and would be to cast herself away, and die. The faith of her affection, combining with the natural energy of her character, believing all things possible, makes them so. It could say to the mountain of pride which stands between her and her hopes-" Be thou removed!" and it is removed. This is the solution of her behaviour in the marriage scene, where Bertram, with obvious reluctance and disdain, accepts her hand, which the King, his feudal lord and guardian, forces on him.

Her maidenly shame is at first shocked, and she shrinks back:

"That you are well restored, my lord, I'm glad :
Let the rest go."

But shall she weakly relinquish the golden opportunity, and dash the cup from her lips at the moment it is presented? Shall she cast away the treasure for which she has ventured life, honour, all-when it is just within her grasp? Shall she, after compromising her feminine delicacy by the public disclosure of her preference, be thrust back into shame, "to blush out the poor remainder of her life," and die a poor, lost, scorned thing? This would be very pretty, and interesting, and characteristic in Viola or Ophelia; but not at all consistent with that high determined spirit, that moral energy, with which Helena is portrayed. Pride is the only obstacle opposed to her. She is not despised and rejected as a woman, but as a poor physician's daughter; and this, to an understanding so clear, so strong, so just as Helena's, is not felt as an unpar donable insult. The mere pride of rank and birth, is a prejudice of which she cannot comprehend the force, because her mind towers so immeasurably above it: and, compared with the infinite love that swells in her own bosom, it sinks into nothing. She cannot conceive that he to whom she has devoted her heart and truth, her soul, her life, her service, must not one day love her in return; and, once her own beyond the reach of fate, that her cares, her caresses, her unwearied, patient tenderness, will not, at last, "win her lord to look upon her."

It is this fond faith which, hoping all things, enables her to endure all things;-which hallows and dignifies the surrender of her woman's pride, making it a sacrifice on which virtue and love throw a mingled essence.-MRS. JAMESON.

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