Meet us on:
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "All art is an imitation of nature."
    More: Art quotes

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    All's Well That Ends Well

    • Rate it:
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 13
    Previous Chapter
    I.i.1 (3,2) [In delivering my son from me] [W: dissevering] Of this change I see no need: the present reading is clear, and, perhaps, as proper as that which the great commentator would substitute; for the king dissevers her son from her, she only delivers him.

    I.i.5 (4,3) [to whom I am now in ward] Under his particular care, as my guardian, till I come to age. It is now almost forgotten in England that the heirs of great fortunes were the king's wards. Whether the same practice prevailed in France, it is of no great use to enquire, for Shakespeare gives to all nations the manners of England.

    I. i.19 (4,5) [This young gentlewoman had a father, (O, that had! how sad a passage 'tis!)] [W: presage 'tis] This emendation is ingenious, perhaps preferable to the present reading, yet since passage may be fairly enough explained, I have left it in the text. Passage is anything that passes, so we now say, a passage of an authour and we said about a century ago, the passages of a reign. When the countess mentions Helena's loss of a father, she recollects her own loss of a husband, and stops to observe how heavily that word had passes through her mind.

    I.i.48 (6,6) [for where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there commendations go with pity, they are virtues and traitors too; in her they are the better for their simpleness; she derives her honesty, and atchieves her goodness] [W: her simpleness] This is likewise a plausible but unnecessary alteration. Her virtues are the better for their simpleness, that is, her excellencies are the better because they are artless and open, without fraud, without design. The learned commentator has well explained virtues but has not, I think, reached the force of the word traitors, and therefore has not shown the full extent of Shakespeare's masterly observation. Virtues in an unclean mind are virtues and traitors too. Estimable and useful qualities, joined with evil disposition, give that evil disposition power over others, who, by admiring the virtue, are betrayed to the malevolence. The Tatler mentioning the sharpers of his time, observes, that some of them are men of such elegance and knowledge, that a young man who falls into their way is betrayed as much by his judgment as his passions.

    I.i.86 (7,8) [If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal] [W: be not enemy] This emendation I had once admitted into the text, but restored the old reading, because I think it capable of an easy explication. Lafeu says, 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, that which destroys. I think that my interpretation gives a sentence more acute and more refined. Let the reader judge.

    I.i.78 (8,9) [That thee may furnish] That may help thee with more and better qualifications.

    I.i.84 (8,1) [The best wishes that can beforg'd in your thoughts, be servants to you!] That is, may you be mistress of your wishes, and have power to bring then to effect.

    I.i.91 (8,2) [And these great tears grace his remembrance more] The tears which the king and countess shed for him.

    I.i.99 (8,3) [In his bright radiance and collateral light Must I be comforted, not in his sphere] 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.

    I.i.107 (9,4) [Of every line and trick of his sweet favour!] So in King John; he hath a trick of Coeur de Lion's face. Trick seen to be some peculiarity of look or feature.

    I.i.122 (9,6) [you have some stain of soldier in you] [W: "Stain for colour."] Stain rather for what we now say tincture, some qualities, at least superficial, of a soldier. (1773)

    I.i.150 (10,8) [He, that hangs himself, is a virgin] [W: As is] I believe most readers Will spare both the emendations, which I do not think much worth a claim or a contest. The old reading is more spritely and equally just.

    I.i.165 (11,1) [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.

    I.i.178-191 (12,5) [Not my virginity yet] This whole speech is abrupt, unconnected, and obscure. Dr. Warburton thinks much of it suppofititious. 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. Hammer 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 after his harangue, said, will you any thing with me? to which Helen may reply--I know not what to do with the passage.

    I.i.184 (13,7) [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 like a traytor, but such traytors his majesty does not much fear.

    I.i.199 (14,8) [And shew what we alone must think] And shew by realities what we now must only think.

    I.i.218 (14,9) [is a virtue of a good wing, and I like the wear well] [W: good ming] This conjecture I could wish to see better proved. This common word ming I have never found. The first edition of this play exhibits wing without a capital: yet, I confess, that a virtue of good wing is an expression that I cannot understand, unless by a metaphor taken from falconry, it may mean, a virtue that will fly high, and in the stile of Hotspur, Pluck honour from the moon.

    I.i.235 (15,1) [What power is it, which mounts my love so high; That makes me see, and cannot feed mine eye?]

    She means, by what influence is my love directed to a person so much above me. [why am I made to discern excellence, sad left to long after it, without the food of hope.]

    I.i.237 (15,2)

    [The mightiest space in fortune, nature brings To join like likes, and kiss, like native things. Impossible be strange attempts, to those That weigh their pain in sense; and do suppose, What hath been]

    All these four lines are obscure, and, I believe, corrupt. I shall propose an emendation, which those who can explain the present reading, are at liberty to reject.

    Through mightiest space in fortune nature brings Likes to join likes, and kiss, like native things.

    That is, nature brings like qualities and dispositions to meet through any distance that fortune may have set between them; she joins them and makes them kiss like things born together.

    The next lines I read with Hammer.

    Impossible be strange attempts to those That weigh their pains in sense, and do suppose What ha'n't been, cannot be.

    New attempts seen impossible to those who estimate their labour or enterprises by sense, and believe that nothing can be but what they see before them.

    I.ii.32 (17,3)

    [He had the wit, which I can well observe To-day in our young lords, but they may jest, Till their own scorn return to them; unnoted, Ere they can hide their levity in honour]

    I believe honour is not dignity of birth or rank, but acquired reputation: Your father, says the king, had the same airy flights of satirical wit-with the young lords of the present time, but they do not what he did, hide their unnoted levity in honour, cover petty faults with great merit.

    This is an excellent observation. Jocose follies, and slight offences, are only allowed by mankind in him that overpowers them by great qualities.

    I.ii.36 (18,4)

    [So like a courtier, contempt nor bitterness Were in his pride or sharpness; if they were, His equal had awak'd them]

    [W: no contempt or] The original edition reads the first line thus,

    So like a courtier, contempt nor bitterness.

    The sense is the same. Nor was used without reduplication. So in Measure for Measure,

    More nor less to others paying, Than by self-offences weighing.

    The old text needs to be explained. He was so like a courtier, that there was in his dignity of manner nothing contemptuous, and

    I.ii.41 (19, 5) [His tongue obey'd his hand] We should read,

    His tongue obeyed the hand.

    That is, the hand of his honour's clock, shewing the true minute when exceptions bad him speak.

    I.ii.44 (19, 7) [Making then proud of his humility, In their poor praise he humbled] [W: proud; and his] Every man has seen the mean too often proud of the humility of the great, and perhaps the great may sometimes be humbled in the praises of the mean, of those who commend them without conviction or discernment: this, however is not so common; the mean are found more frequently than the great.

    I.ii.50 (19, 8)

    [So in approof lives not his epitaph, As in your royal speech]

    [W: Epitaph for character.] I should wish to read,

    Approof so lives not in his epitaph, As in your royal speech.

    Approof is approbation. If I should allow Dr. Warburton's interpretation of Epitaph, which is more than can be reasonably expected, I can yet find no sense in the present reading.

    I.ii.61 (20, 9) [whose judgments are meer fathers of their garments] Who have no other use of their faculties, than to invent new modes of dress.

    I.iii (21, 1) [Enter Countess, Steward, and Clown] A Clown in Shakespeare is commonly taken for a licensed jester, or domestick fool. We are not to wonder that we find this character often in his plays, since fools were, at that time, maintained in all great families, to keep up merriment in the house. In the picture of Sir Thomas More's family, by Hans Holbein, the only servant represented is Patison the fool. This is a proof of the familiarity to which they were admitted, not by the great only, but the wise.

    In some plays, a servant, or a rustic, of remarkable petulance and freedom of speech, is likewise called a clown.

    I.iii.3 (21, 2) [to even your content] To act up to your desires.

    I.iii.45 (23, 4) [You are shallow, madam, in great friends; for the knaves come to do that for me, which I am a weary of] [Tyrwhitt: my great] The meaning seems to be, you are not deeply skilled in the character of offices of great friends. (1773)

    I.iii.96 (26, 1) [Clo. That man should be at woman's command, and yet no hurt done!--Tho' honesty be no puritan, yet it will do no hurt; it will wear the surplice of humility over the black gown of a big heart] The clown's answer is obscure. His lady bids him do as he is commanded. He answers with the licentious petulance of his character, that if a man does as a woman commands, it is likely he will do amiss; that he does not amiss, being at the command of a woman, he makes the effect, not of his lady's goodness, but of his own honesty, which, though not very nice or puritanical, will do no hurt; and will not only do no hurt, but, unlike the puritans, will comply with the injunctions of superiors, and wear the surplice of humility over the black gown of a big heart; will obey commands, though not much pleased with a state of subjection.

    Here is an allusion, violently enough forced in, to satirize the obstinacy with which the puritans refused the use of the ecclesiastical habits, which was, at that time, one principal cause of the breach of union, and, perhaps, to insinuate, that the modest purity of the surplice was sometimes a cover for pride.

    I.iii.140 (28,3) [By our remembrances] That is, according to our recollection. So we say, he is old by my reckoning.

    I.iii.169 (29,5)

    [----or, were you both our mothers I care no more for, than I do for heaven. So I were not his sister]

    [W: I can no more fear, than I do fear heav'n.] I do not much yield to this emendation; yet I have not been able to please myself with any thing to which even my own partiality can give the preference.

    Sir Thomas Banner reads,

    Or were you both our mothers. I cannot ask for more than that of heaven. So I were not his sister; can be no other Way I your daughter, but he must be my brother?

    I.iii.171 (30,6) [can't no other, But, I your daughter, he must be my brother?] The meaning is obscur'd by the elliptical diction. Can it be no other way, but if I be your daughter he must be my brother?

    I.iii.178 (30,8) [Your salt tears' head] The force, the fountain of your tears, the cause of your grief.

    I.iii.208 (31,9) [captious and intenible sieve] The word captious I never found in this sense; yet I cannot tell what to substitute, unless carious, for rotten, which yet is a word more likely to have been mistaken by the copyers than used by the author.

    I.iii.232 (32,2)

    [As notes, whose faculties inclusive were Receipts in which greater virtues were inclosed]

    Do not throw from you; you, my lord,, farewell; Share the advice betwixt you; if both gain all, The gift doth stretch itself as 'tis receiv'd, And is enough for both.

    The first edition, from which the passage is restored, was sufficiently clear; yet it is plain, that the latter editors preferred a reading which they did not understand.

    II.i.12 (35,8)

    [let higher Italy (Those 'hated, that inherit but the fall Of the last monarchy) [see, that you come Not to woo honour, but to wed it]

    [Hammer: Those bastards that inherit] Dr. Warburton's observation is learned, but rather too subtle; Sir Tho. Hanmer's alteration is merely arbitrary. The passage is confessedly obscure, and there-fore I may offer another explanation. I am of opinion that the epithet higher is to be understood of situation rather than of dignity. The sense may then be 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. To abate is used by Shakespeare in the original sense of abatre, to depress, to sink, to deject, to subdue. So in Coriolanus,

    ----'till ignorance deliver you. As moat abated captives to some nation That won you without blows. And bated is used in a kindred sense in the Jew of Venice.

    --in a bondman's key With bated breath and whisp'ring humbleness.

    The word has still the same meaning in the language of the law.

    II.i.21 (37,9) [Beware of being captives, Before you serve] The word serve is equivocal; the sense is, Be not captives before you serve in the war. Be not captives before you are soldiers.

    II.i.36 (37,1) [I grow to you, and our parting is a tortur'd body] I read thus, Our parting is the parting of a tortured body. Our parting is as the disruption of limbs torn from each other. Repetition of a word is often the cause of mistakes, the eye glances on the wrong word, and the intermediate part of the sentence is omitted.

    II.i.54 (38,3) [they wear themselves in the cap of the time, there, do muster true gait] [W: to muster] I think this amendation cannot be said to give much light to the obscurity of the passage. Perhaps it might be read thus, They do muster with the true gaite that is, they have the true military step. Every man has observed something peculiar in the strut of a soldier, (rev. 1778, IV,35,8)

    II.i.70 (39,4) [across] This word, as has been already observed, is used when any pass of wit miscarries.

    II.i.74 (39,5) [Yes, but you will, my noble grapes, as if] These words,my noble grapes, seem to Dr. Warburton and Sir T. Hammer, to stand so much in the way, that they have silently omitted them. They may be indeed rejected without great loss, but I believe they are Shakespeare's words. You will eat, says Lafen, no grapes. Yes, but you will eat such noble grapes as I bring you, if you could reach them.

    II.i. 100 (41,8) [I am Cressid's uncle] I am like Pandarus. See Troilus and Cressida. (see 1765, III,310,2)

    II.i.114 (41,9) [wherein the honour Of my dear father's gift stands chief in power] Perhaps we may better read,-- wherein the power Of my dear father's gift stands chief in honour,

    II.i.144 (42,1) [When miracles have by the greatest been deny'd] I do not see the import or connection of this line. As the next line stands without a correspondent rhyme, I suspect that something has been lost.

    II.i.159 (43,2) [Myself against the level of mine aim] I rather think that she means to say, 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.

    II.i.174 (43,3)

    [a divulged shame Traduc'd by odious ballds; my maiden's name Sear'd otherwise; no worse of worst extended, With vilest torture let my life be ended]

    This passage is apparently corrupt, and how shall it be rectified? I have no great hope of success, but something must be tried. I read the whole thus,

    King. What darest thou venture? Hal. Tax of impudence. A strumpet's boldness; a divulged shame, Traduc'd by odious ballads my maiden name; Sear'd otherwise, to worst of worst extended; With vilest torture let my life be ended.

    When this alteration first came into my mind, I supposed Helen to mean thus, First, I venture what is dearest to me, my maiden reputation; but if your distrust extends my character to the worst of the worst, and supposes me seared against the sense of infamy, I will add to the stake of reputation, the stake of life. This certainly is sense, and the language as grammatical as many other passages of Shakespeare. Yet we may try another experiment.

    Fear otherwise to worst of worst extended; With vilest torture let my life be ended. That is, let me act under the greatest terrors possible.

    But once again we will try to find the right way by the glimmer of Hanmer's amendation, who reads thus,

    --my maiden name Sear'd; otherwise the worst of worst extended. etc.

    Perhaps it were better thus,

    -- my maiden name Sear'd; otherwise the worst to worst extended;

    With vilest torture let my life be ended.

    II.i.182 (45,5) [Thy life is dear; for all, that life can rate Worth name of life, in thee hath estimate] May be counted among the gifts enjoyed by them.

    II.i.185 (45,7) [prime] Youth; the spring or morning of life.

    II.ii.40 (48,1) [To be young again] The lady censures her own levity in trifling with her jester, as a ridiculous attempt to return back to youth.

    Il.iii.6 (49,3) [unknown fear] Fear is here the object of fear.

    II.iii.11 (50,4)

    [Par. So I say, both of Galen and Paracelsus. Laf. Of all the learned and authentic fellows]

    As the whole merriment of this scene consists in the pretensions of Parollei to knowledge and sentiments which he has not, I believe here are two passages in which the words and sense are bestowed upon him by the copies, which the author gave to Lafen. I read this passage thus,

    Laf. To be relinquished of the artists-- Par. So I. say. Laf. Both of Galen and Paracelsus, of all the learned and authentick fellows-- Par. Right, so I say.

    II.iii.41 (51,7)

    [which should, indeed, give us a farther use to be made, than alone the recovery of the King; as to be-- Laf. Generally thankful]

    I cannot see that there is any hiatus, or other irregularity of language than such as is very common in these plays. I believe Parolles has again usurped words and sense to which he has no right; and I read this passage thus,

    Laf. In a most weak and debile minister, great power, great transcendence; which should, indeed, give us a farther use to be made than the mere recovery of the king. Par. As to be. Laf. Generally thankful.

    II.iii.66 (52,9) [My mouth no more were broken than these boys'] A broken mouth is a mouth which has lost part of its teeth.

    II.iii.77 (53,1) [Let the white death sit on thy cheek for ever] [W: dearth] The white death is the chlorosis.

    II.iii.80 (53,2) [And to imperial Love] [W. The old editions read IMPARTIAL, which is right.] There is no edition of this play older than that of 1623, the next is that of 1632, of which both read imperials the second reads imperial Jove.

    II.iii.92 (53,3) [Laf. Do they all deny her?] None of them have yet denied her, or deny her afterwards but Bertram. The scene must be so regulated that Lafeu and Parolles talk at a distance, where they nay see what passes between Helena and the lords, but not hear it, so that they know not by whom the refusal is made.

    II.iii.105 (54,4) [There's one grape yet,--I am sure, they father drunk wine.--But if thou be'st not an ass, I am a youth of fourteen. I have known thee already] This speech the three last editors have perplexed themselves by dividing between Lafeu and Parolles, without any authority of copies, or any improvement of sense. I have restored the old reading, and should have thought no explanation necessary, but that Mr. Theobald apparently misunderstood it.

    Old Lafeu having, upon the supposition that the lady was refused, reproached the young lords as boys of ice, throwing his eyes on Bertram who remained, cries out, "There is one yet into whom his father put good blood,----but I have known thee long enough to know thee for an ass."

    II.iii.135 (55,6) [good alone Is good, without a name, vileness is so] [W: good; and with a name,] The present reading is certainly wrong, and, to confess the truth, I do not think Dr. Warburton's emendation right; yet I have nothing that I can propose with much confidence. Of all the conjectures that I can make, that which least displeases me is this:

    --good alone. Is good without a name; Helen is so;

    The rest follows easily by this change.

    II.iii.138 (56,7)

    [--She is young, wise, fair; In these, to nature she's immediate heir; And these breed honour]

    Here is a long note [W's] which I wish had been shorter. Good is better than young, as it refers to honour. But she is more the immediate heir of nature with respect to youth than goodness. To be immediate heir is to inherit without any intervening transmitter: thus she inherits beauty immediately from nature, but honour is transmitted by ancestors; youth is received immediately from nature but goodness may be conceived in part the gift of parents, or the effect of education. The alteration therefore loses on one side what it gains on the other.

    II.iii.170 (58,9) [Into the staggers] One species of the staggers, or the horses apoplexy, is a raging impatience which makes the animal dash himself with destructive violence against posts or walls. To this the allusion, I suppose, is made.

    II.iii.185 (59,1)

    [whose ceremony Shall seem expedient on the now-born brief, And be perform'd to-night]

    This, if it be at all intelligible, is at least obscure and inaccurate. Perhaps it was written thus,

    --what ceremony Shall seem expedient on the now-born brief Shall be perform'd to-night; the solemn feast Shall more attend--

    The brief is the contract of espousal, or the licence of the church. The King means, What ceremony is necessary to make this contract a marriage, shall be immediately performed; the rest may be delayed.

    II.iii.211 (60,2) [I did think thee, for two ordinaries, to be a pretty wise fellow] While I sat twice with thee at table.

    II.iii.217 (60,3) [yet art then good for nothing but taking up] To take up, is to contradict, to call to account, as well as to pick off the ground.

    II.iii.242 (60,4) [in the default] That is, at a need.

    II.iii.246 (61,5) [for doing, I am past; as I will by thee, in what motion age will give me leave] [Warburton suspected a line lost after "past"] This suspicion of chasm is groundless. The conceit which is so thin that it might well escape a hasty reader, is in the word past, I am past, as I will be past by thee.

    II.iii.309 (63,9) [To the dark house] The dark house is a house made gloomy by discontent. Milton says of death and the king of hell preparing to combat,

    So frown'd the mighty combatants, that hell Grew darker at their frown.

    II.iv.45 (65,1) [Whose want, and whose delay, is strew'd with sweets] The sweets with which this want are strewed, I suppose, are compliments and professions of kindness.

    II.iv.52 (65,2) [probable need] A specious appearance of necessity.

    III.i.10 (70,5) [The reasons of our state I cannot yield] I cannot inform you of the reasons.

    III.i.11 (70,6) [an outward man] [W: i.e. one not in the secret of affairs] So inward is familiar, admitted to secrets. I was an inward of his. Measure for Measure.

    III.ii.59 (73,1) [When thou canst get the ring upon my finger] [W: When thou canst get the ring, which is on my finger, into thy possession] I think Dr. Warburton's explanation sufficient, but I once read it thus, When thou canst get the ring upon thy finger, which newer shall come off mine.

    III.ii.100 (74,3) [Not so, but as we change our courtesies] The gentlemen declare that they are servants to the Countess, she replies, No otherwise than as she returns the same offices of civility.

    III.iv.4 (77,4) [St. Jaques' pilgrim] I do not remember any place famous for pilgrimages consecrated in Italy to St. James, but it is common to visit St. James of Compostella, in Spain. Another saint might easily have been found, Florence being somewhat out of the road from Bonsillon to Compostella.

    III.iv.13 (77,6) [Juno] Alluding to tho story of Hercules.

    III.iv.19 (77,6) [Rinaldo, you did never lack advice so much] Advice, is discretion or thought.

    III.v.21 (79,7) [are not the things they go under] [W: Mr. Theobald explains these words by, They are not really so true and sincere as in appearance they seem to be.] I think Theobald's interpretation right; to go under the name of any thing is a known expression. The meaning is, they are not the things for which their names would make them pass.

    III.v.66 (81,8) [examin'd] That is, question'd, doubted.

    III.v.74 (81,9) [brokes] Deals as a broker. (86,6) [we have almost imboss'd him] To imboss a deer is to inclose him in a wood. Milton uses the same word:

    Like that self-begotten bird In th' Arabian woods embost. Which no second knows or third. (87,7) [ere we case him] This is, before we strip him naked. (1773)

    III.vii.9 (88,2) [to your sworn council] To your private knowledge, after having required from you an oath of secrecy.

    III.vii.21 (88,9) [Now his important blood will nought deny] Important here, and elsewhere, is importunate.

    IV.i.16 (90,2) [some band of strangers i' the adversary's entertainment] That is, foreign troops in the enemy's pay.

    Iv.i.44 (91,3) [the instance] The proof.

    IV.ii.13 (94,5)

    [No more of that! I pr'ythee, do not strive against my vows: I was compell'd to her]

    I know not well what Bertram can mean by entreating Diana not to strive against his vows. Diana has just mentioned his wife, so that the vows seem to relate to his marriage. In this sense not Diana, but himself, strives against his vows. His vows indeed may mean vows made to Diana; but, in that case, to strive against is not properly used for to reject, nor does this sense cohere well with his first exclamation of impatience at the mention of his wife. No more of that! Perhaps we might read,

    I Pr'ythee do not drive against my vows.

    Do not run upon that topick; talk of any thing else that I can bear to hear.

    I have another conceit upon this passage, which I would be thought to offer without much confidence:

    No more of that! I pr'ythee do not strive--against my voice I was compell'd to her.

    Diana tells him unexpectedly of his wife. He answers with perturbation, No more of that! I pr'ythee do not play the confessor --against my own consent I was compelled to her.

    When a young profligate finds his courtship so gravely repressed by an admonition of his duty, he very naturally desires the girl not to take upon her the office of a confessor.

    IV.ii.23 (95,6) [What is not holy, that we swear not 'bides] [W: not 'bides] This is an acute and excellent conjecture, and I have done it the due honour of exalting it to the text; yet, methinks, there is something yet wanting. The following words, but take the High'st to witness, even though it be understood as an anticipation or assumption in this sense,--but now suppose that you take the Highest to witness,--has not sufficient relation to the antecedent sentence. I will propose a reading nearer to the surface, and let it take its chance.

    Ber. How have I sworn!

    Diana. 'Tis not the many oaths, that make the truth, But the plain single vow, that is vow'd true.

    Ber. What is not holy, that we swear not by. But take the High'st to witness.

    Diana. Then, pray tell me. If I should swear, &c.

    Bertram means to enforce his suit, by telling her, that he has bound himself to her, not by the pretty protestations usual among lovers, but by vows of greater solemnity. She then makes a proper and rational reply.

    IV.ii.25 (96,7) [If I should swear by Jove's great attributes] In the print of the old folio, it is doubtful whether it be Jove's or Love's, the characters being not distinguishable. If it is read Love's, perhaps it may be something less difficult. I am still at a loss.

    It may be read thus,

    --"this has no holding, "To swear by him whom I attest to love, "That I will work against him."

    There is no consistence in expressing reverence for Jupiter by calling him to attest my love, and shewing at the same time, by working against him by a wicked passion, that I have no respect to the name which I invoke. (1773)

    IV.ii.28 (96,8) [To swear by him whom I protest to love, That I will work against him] This passage likewise appears to me corrupt. She swears not by him whom she loves, but by Jupiter. I believe we may read, to swear to him. There is, says she, no holding, no consistency, in swearing to one that I love him, when I swear it only to injure him.

    IV.ii.73 (98,9) [Since Frenchmen are so braid, Marry that will, I'll live and die a maid] [W: Marry 'em] The passage is very unimportant, and the old reading reasonable enough. Nothing is more common than for girls, on such occasions, to say in a pet what they do not think, or to think for a time what they do not finally resolve.

    IV.iii.7 (98,1) [I Lord] The later 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. It is true that captain E. is in a former scene called lord E. but the subordination in which they seem to act, and the timorous manner in which they converse, determines them to be only captains. Yet as the later readers of Shakespeare have been used to find them lords, I have not thought it worth while to degrade them in the margin.

    IV.iii.29 (99,2) [he, that in this action contrives against his own nobility, in his proper stream o'erflows himself] That is, betrays his own secrets in his own talk. The reply shows that this is the meaning.

    IV.iii.38 (100,3) [he might take a measure of his own judgment] This is a very just and moral reason. Bertram, by finding how erroneously he has judged, will be less confident, and more easily moved by admonition.

    IV.iii.113 (102,4) [bring forth this counterfeit module] [W: medal] Module being the pattern of any thing, may be here used in that sense. Bring forth this fellow, who, by counterfeit virtue pretended to make himself a pattern.

    IV.iii.237 (106,8) [Dian. the Count's a fool, and full of gold] After this line there is apparently a line lost, there being no rhime that corresponds to gold.

    IV.iii.254 (106,9) [Half won, is match well made; match, and well make it] This line has no meaning that I can find. I read, with a very slight alteration, Half won is match well made; watch, and well make it. That is, a match well made is half won; watch, and make it well.

    This is, in my opinion, not all the error. The lines are misplaced, and should be read thus:

    Half won is match well made; watch, and well make it; when he swears oaths, bid him drop gold, and take it. After he scores, he never pays the score: He never pays after-debts, take it before. And say--

    That is, take his money and leave him to himself. When the players had lost the second line, they tried to make a connection out of the rest. Part is apparently in couplets, and the note was probably uniform.

    IV.iii.280 (107,1) [He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister] I know not that cloister, though it may etymologically signify anything shut is used by our author, otherwise than for a monastery, and therefore I cannot guess whence this hyperbole could take its original: perhaps it means only this: He will steal any thing, however trifling, from any place, however holy.

    IV.iii.307 (108,2) [he's a cat still] That is, throw him how you will, he lights upon his legs. [Steevens offered another explanation] I an still of my former opinion. The same speech was applied by king James to Coke, with respect to his subtilties of law, that throw him which way we would, he could still like a cat light upon his legs. (see 1765, III,372,1)

    IV.iii.317 (109,3) [Why does he ask him of me?] This is nature. Every man is on such occasions more willing to hear his neighbour's character than his own.

    IV.iii.332 (109,4) [Only to seem to deserve well, and to beguile the supposition of that lascivious young boy the Count, have I run into this danger] That is, to deceive the opinion, to make the count think me a man that deserves well.

    IV.iv.23 (III,6) [When saucy trusting of the cozen'd thoughts Defiles the pitchy night!] [W: When Fancy,] This conjecture is truly ingenious, but, I believe, the author of it will himself think it unnecessary, when he recollects that saucy may very properly signify luxurious, and by consequence lascivious.

    IV.iv.31 (112,7)

    [But with the word, the time will bring on summer, When briars shall have leaves as well as thorns, And be as sweet as sharp]

    The meaning of this observation is, that as briars have sweetness with their prickles, so shall these troubles be recompensed with joy.

    IV.iv.34 (112,8) [Our waggon is prepar'd, and time revives us] [W: revyes] The present reading is corrupt, and I am afraid the emendation none of the soundest. I never remember to have seen the word revye. One may as well leave blunders as make them. Why may we not read for a shift, without much effort, the time invites us?

    IV.v.8 (114,1) [I would, I had not known him!] This dialogue serves to connect the incidents of Parolles with the main plan of the play.

    IV.v.66 (116,4) [Laf. A shrewd knave, and an unhappy] That is, mischievously waggish; unlucky. (see 1765, III,379,3)

    IV.v.70 (116,5) [he has no pace, but runs where he will] [Tyrrwhit: place] A pace is a certain or prescribed walk, so we say of a man meanly obsequious, that he has learned his paces. (1773) [(rev. 1778, IV,126,3]

    V.i.35 (120,8)

    [I will come after you, with what good speed Our means will make us means]

    Shakespeare delights much in this kind of reduplication, sometimes so as to obscure his meaning. Helena says, they will follow with such speed as the means which they have will give them ability to exert.

    V.ii.57 (123,3) [tho' you are a fool and a knave, you shall eat] Parolles has many of the lineaments of Falstaff, and seems to be the character which Shakespeare delighted to draw, a fellow that had more wit than virtue. Though justice required that he should be detected and exposed, yet his vices sit so fit in him that he is not at last suffered to starve.

    V.iii.1 (123,4) [We lost a jewel of her, and our esteem Was made much poorer by it] Dr. Warburton, in Theobald's edition, altered this word to estate, in his own he lets it stand and explains it by worth or estate. But esteem is here reckoning or estimate. Since the loss of Helen with her virtues and qualifications, our account is sunk; what we have to reckon ourselves king of, is much poorer than before.

    V.iii.4 (123,5) [home] That is, completely, in its full extent.

    V.iii.6 (123,6) [done i' the blade of youth] In the spring of early life, when the man is yet green, oil and fire suit but ill with blade, and therefore Dr. Warburton reads, blaze of youth.

    V.iii.21 (124,7) [the first view shall kill All repetition] The first interview shall put an end to all recollection of the past. Shakespeare is now hastening to the end of the play, finds his matter sufficient to fill up his remaining scenes, and therefore, as on other such occasions, contracts his dialogue and precipitates his action. Decency required that Bertram's double crime of cruelty and disobedience, joined likewise with some hypocrisy, should raise more resentment; and that though his mother might easily forgive him, his king should more pertinaciously vindicate his own authority and Helen's merit: of all this Shakespeare could not be ignorant, but Shakespeare wanted to conclude his play.

    V.iii.50 (125,9) [My high repented blames] [A long note by Warburton] It was but just to insert this note, long as it is, because the commentator seems to think it of importance. Let the reader judge.

    V.iii.65 (127,1)

    [Our own love, waking, cries to see what's done, While shameful hate sleeps out the afternoon]

    These two lines I should be glad to call an interpolation of a player. They are ill connected with the former, and not very clear or proper in themselves. I believe the author made two couplets to the same purpose, wrote them both down that he might take his choice, and so they happened to be both preserved.

    For sleep I think we should read slept. Love cries to see what was done while hatred slept, and suffered mischief to be done. Or the meaning may be, that hatred still continues to sleep at ease, while love is weeping; and so the present reading may stand.

    V.iii.93 (128,3) [In Florence was it from a casement thrown me] Bertram still continues to have too little virtue to deserve Helen. He did not know indeed that it was Helen's ring, but he knew that he had it not from a window.

    V.iii.95 (128,4) [Noble she was, and thought I stood engag'd] [T: I don't understand this reading; if we are to understand, that she thought Bertram engag'd to her in affection, insnared by her charms, this meaning is too obscurely express'd.] The context rather makes me believe, that the poet wrote,

    noble she was, and thought I stood ungag'd;--

    i.e. unengag'd: neither my heart, nor person, dispos'd of.--The plain meaning is, when she saw me receive the ring, she thought me engaged to her.

    V.iii.101 (129,5) [King Plutus himself , That knows the tinct and multiplying medicine] Plutus the grand alchemist, who knows the tincture which confers the properties of gold upon base metals, and the matter by which gold is multiplied, by which a small quantity of gold is made to communicate its qualities to a large mass of metal.

    In the reign of Henry the fourth a law was made to forbid all men thenceforth to multiply gold, or use any craft of multiplication. Of which law Mr. Boyle, when he was warm with the hope of transmutation, procured a repeal.

    V.iii.105 (129,6) [Then if you know, That you are well acquainted with yourself] The true meaning of this strange [Warburton's word] expression is, If you know that your faculties are so found, as that you have the proper consciousness of your own actions, and are able to recollect and relate what you have done, tell me. &c.

    V.iii.121 (130,7)

    [My fore-past proofs, howe'er the matter fall, Shall tax my fears of little vanity, Having vainly fear'd too little]

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

    V.iii.131 (130,8) [Who hath, some four or five removes, come short] Removes are journies or post-stages.

    V.iii.191 (133,1) [O, behold this ring. Whose high respect and rich validity] Validity is a very bad word for value, which yet I think is its meaning, unless it be considered as making a contract valid.

    V.iii.214 (133,2)

    [As all impediments in fancy's course, Are motives of more fancy: and in fine, Her insult coming with her modern grace, Subdu'd me to her rate: she got the ring]

    Every thing that obstructs love is an occasion by which love is heightened. And, to conclude, her solicitation concurring with her fashionable appearance, she got the ring.

    I an not certain that I have attained the true meaning of the word modern, which, perhaps, signifies rather meanly pretty.

    V.iii.296-305 (137,3) This dialogue is too long, since the audience already knew the whole transaction; nor is there any reason for puzzling the king and playing with his passions; but it was much easier than to make a pathetical interview between Helen and her husband, her mother, and the king.

    V.iii.305 (137,4) [exorcist] This word is used not very properly for enchanter.

    V.iii.339 (139,2) [Ours be your patience then, and yours our parts] The meaning is: Grant us then your patience; hear us without interruption. And take our parts; that is, support and defend us. (see 1765, III,399)

    (139) General Observation. This play has many delightful scenes, though not sufficiently probable, and some happy characters, though not new, nor produced by any deep knowledge of human nature. Parolles is a boaster and a coward, such as has always been the sport of the stage, but perhaps never raised more laughter or contempt than in the hands of Shakespeare.

    I cannot reconcile my heart to Bertram; a man noble without generosity, and young without truth; who marries Helen as a coward, and leaves her as a profligate: when she is dead by his unkindness, sneaks home to a second marriage, is accused by a woman whom he has wronged, defends himself by falsehood, and is dismissed to happiness.

    The story of Bertram and Diana hod been told before of Mariana and Angelo, and, to confess the truth, scarcely merited to be heard a second time.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 13
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Samuel Johnson essay and need some advice, post your Samuel Johnson essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Want to read

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?