[ocr errors]

HEL. What is your pleasure, madam ?

You know, Helen, I am a mother to you.

HEL. Mine honourable mistress. · Count.

Nay, a mother;
Why not a mother? When I said, a mother,
Methought you saw a serpent: What's in mother,
That you start at it ? I say, I am your mother;
And put you in the catalogue of those
That were enwombed mine: 'Tis often seen,
Adoption strives with nature; and choice breeds
A native slip to us from foreign seeds 1 :
You ne'er oppress'd me with a mother's groan,
Yet I express to you a mother's care :-
God's mercy, maiden! does it curd thy blood,
To say, I am thy mother? What's the matter,
That this distemper'd messenger of wet,
The many-colour'd Iris, rounds thine eye 8 ?
Why?--that you are my daughter ?

That I am not.
Count. I say, I am your mother.

Pardon, madam; The count Rousillon cannot be my brother :


of faults. Dr. Warburton, without necessity, as it seems to me, reads-"0! then we thought them none;”-and the subsequent editors adopted the alteration. MALONE.

and choice breeds A native slip to us from foreign seeds :) And our choice furnishes us with a slip propagated to us from foreign seeds, which we educate and treat, as if it were native to us, and sprung from ourselves. HEATH. 8

What's the matter,
That this distemper'd messenger of wet,

The many-colour'd Iris, rounds thine eye ?] There is something exquisitely beautiful in this representation of that suffusion of colours which glimmers around the sight when the eye-lashes are wet with tears. The poet hath described the same appearance in his Rape of Lucrece:

“And round about her tear-distained eye .
“ Blue circles stream'd like rainbows in the sky.” Henley.

I am from humble, he from honour'd name;
No note upon my parents, his all noble :
My master, my dear lord he is; and I
His servant live, and will his vassal die :
He must not be my brother.

Nor I your mother? Hel. You are my mother, madam; 'Would you

were (So that my lord, your son, were not my brother,) Indeed, my mother !-or were you both our mo

thers, I care no more for, than I do for heaven, So I were not his sister ' : Can't no other, But, I your daughter, he must be my brother'? Count. Yes, Helen, you might be my daughter

in-law ; God shield, you mean it not! daughter, and mother, So strive ? upon your pulse : What, pale again ? My fear hath catch'd your fondness : Now I see


or were you both our mothers,
I CARE NO MORE FOR, than I do for heaven,

So I were not his sister:] There is a designed ambiguity: “ I care no more for,” is, “I care as much for. I wish it equally.”


· In Troilus and Cressida we find_“I care not to be the louse of a lazar, so I were not Menelaus.” There the words certainly mean, I should not be sorry or unwilling to be, &c. According to this, then, the meaning of the passage before us should be, If you were mother to us both, it would not give me mora solicitude than heaven gives me,-so I were not his sister.” But Helena certainly would not confess an indifference about her future state. However, she may mean, as Dr. Farmer has suggested, “ I should not care more than, but equally as, I care for future happiness; I should be as content, and solicit it as much, as I pray for the bliss of heaven.” Malone.

- Can't no other,

But, I your daughter, he must be my brother?] The meaning is obscured by the elliptical diction. . Can it be no other way, but if I be your daughter, he must be my brother ? Johnson. 2 — strive -] To strive is to contend. So, in Cymbeline :

“ That it did strive in workmanship and value ! ” STEEVENS.

The mystery of your loneliness, and find
Your salt tears' head'. Now to all sense 'tis gross,
You love my son; invention is asham'd,
Against the proclamation of thy passion,
To say, thou dost not : therefore tell me true;
But tell me then, 'tis so :-for, look, thy cheeks
Confess it, one to the other; and thine eyes
See it so grossly shown in thy behaviours,
That in their kind 4 they speak it: only sin
And hellish obstinacy tie thy tongue,
That truth should be suspected: Speak, is't so ?
If it be so, you have wound a goodly clue;
If it be not, forswear't : howe'er, I charge thee,
As heaven shall work in me for thine avail,
To tell me truly.

HEL. Good madam, pardon me !
Count. Do you love my son ?

Your pardon, noble mistress ! 3 - - Now I see

The mystery of your LONELINESS, and find
Your salt tears' HEAD.] The old copy reads-loveliness.

STEEVENS. The mystery of her loveliness is beyond my comprehension : the old Countess is saying nothing ironical, nothing taunting, or in reproach, that this word should find a place here ; which it could not, unless sarcastically employed, and with some spleen. I dare warrant the poet meant his old lady should say no more than this : “ I now find the mystery of your creeping into corners, and weeping, and pining in secret." For this reason I have amended the text, loneliness. The Steward, in the foregoing scene, where he gives the Countess intelligence of Helena's behaviour, says

Alone she was, and did communicate to herself, her own words to her own ears." THEOBALD.

The late Mr. Hall had corrected this, I believe, rightly,—your lowliness. TYRWHITT.

I think Theobald's correction as plausible. To choose solitude is a mark of love. STEEVENS.

Your salt tears' head.” The source, the fountain of your tears, the cause of your grief. Johnson. . 4 – in their KIND -] i. e. in their language, according to their nature. STEEVENS.

Count. Love you my son ?

Do not you love him, madam ? Count. Go not about; my love hath in't a bond, Whereof the world takes note : come, come, dis

. close
The state of your affection ; for your passions
Have to the full appeach'd.

Then, I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,
I love your son :-
My friends were poor, but honest; so's my love :
Be not offended; for it hurts not him,
That he is lov'd of me: I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit;
Nor would I have him, till I do deserve him;
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope ;
Yet, in this captious and intenible sieve 5,
I still pour in the waters of my love,
And lack not to lose still °: thus, Indian-like,

5- 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 copiers than used by the author. Johnson.

Dr. Farmer supposes captious to be a contraction of capacious. As violent ones are to be found among our ancient writers, and especially in Churchyard's Poems, with which Shakspeare was not unacquainted. Steevens.

By captious, I believe Shakspeare only meant recipient, capable of receiving what is put into it; and by intenible, incapable of holding or retaining it. How frequently he and the other writers of his age confounded the active and passive adjectives, has been already more than once observed.

The original copy reads-intemible. The correction was made in the second folio. Malone. 6 And lack not to lose still :) Perhaps we should read

“ And lack not to love still.” Tyrwhitt.
I believe lose is right. So afterwards, in this speech:

“— whose state is such, that cannot choose
“ But lend and give, where she is sure to lose.

Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun, that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love,
For loving where you do: but, if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth”,
Did ever, in so true a flame of liking,
Wish chastly, and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and love 8 ; 0 then, give pity
To her, whose state is such, that cannot choose
But lend and give, where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But, riddle-like, lives sweetly where she dies.

Count. Had you not lately an intent, speak truly,
To go to Paris ?

Madam, I had.

Wherefore ? tell true ?.

Helena means, I think, to say that, like a person who pours water into a vessel full of holes, and still continues his employment, though he finds the water all lost, and the vessel empty, so, though she finds that the waters of her love are still lost, that her affection is thrown away on an object whom she thinks she never can deserve, she yet is not discouraged, but perseveres in her hopeless endeavour to accomplish her wishes. The poet evidently alludes to the trite story of the daughters of Danaus.

MALONE. 7 Whose aged honour Cites a virtuous youth,] i. e. whose respectable conduct in age shows, or proves, that you were no less virtuous when young. As a fact is proved by citing witnesses, or examples from books, our author, with his usual licence, uses to cite, in the same sense of to prove. MALONE.

8 Wish chastly, and love dearly, that your Dian

Was both herself and love ;] i. e. Venus. Helena means to say—“ If ever you wished that the deity who presides over chastity, and the queen of amorous rites, were one and the same person; or, in other words, if ever you wished for the honest and lawful completion of your chaste desires." I believe, however, the words were accidentally transposed at the press, and would read“Love dearly, and wish chastly, that your Dian,” &c.

Malone. 9 — tell true.] This is an evident interpolation. It is needless,

« ForrigeFortsett »