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A Room in the Countess's Palace.
Flourish. Enter King, Countess, LAFEU, Lords,
Gentlemen, Guards, fc.
"Tis past, my liege :
My honour'd lady,
This I must say,
Falstaff, and seems to be the character which Shakspeare 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. Johnson.
esteem -] Meaning that his esteem was lessened in its value by Bertram's misconduct; since a person who was honoured with it could be so ill treated as Helena had been, and that with impunity.
i home.] That is, completely, in its full extent.
Of richest eyes;' whose words all cars took captive;
Praising what is lost, Makes the remembrance dear. Well, call him
I shall, my liege.
[Erit Gentleman. King. What says he to your daughter. have you
spoke? Laf. All that he is hath reference to your highness. King. Then shall we have a match. I have letters
That set him high in fame.
He looks well on't.
Of richest eyes ;] Shakspeare means that her beauty had astonished those, who, having seen the greatest number of fair women, might be said to be the richest in ideas of beauty.
the first view shall kill All repetition :) The first interview shall put an end to all recollection of the past. Shakspeare is now hastening to the end of the play, finds his matter sufficient to fill up his remaining scenes, and therefore, as on such other 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 Shakspeare could not be ignorant, but Shakspeare wanted to conclude his play. JOHNSON.
King. I am not a day of season,
My high-repented blames,
All is whole;
Ber. Admiringly, my liege: at first
Well excus'd :
late, Like a remorseful pardon slowly carried,
3 I am not a day of season,] That is, of uninterrupted rain : one of those wet days that usually happen about the vernal equinox.
* My high-repented blames, ] High-repented blames, are faults repented of to the height, to the utmost. VOL. III.
To the great sender turns a sour offence,
Count. Which better than the first, o dear hea
Or, ere they meet, in me, O nature, cease!
Laf. Come on, my son, in whom my house's
Must be digested, give a favour from you,
Hers it was not.
eye, While I was speaking, oft was fasten’d to't:This ring was mine; and, when I gave it Helen, I bade her, if her fortunes ever stood Necessitied to help, that by this token I would relieve her: Had you that craft, to reave her Of what should stead her most? Ber.
My gracious sovereign, Howe'er it pleases you to take it so, The ring was never hers. Count.
Son, on my life,
I have seen her wear it; and she reckon'd it
I am sure, I saw her wear it.
Plutus himself, That knows the tinct and multiplying medicine, Hath not in nature's mystery more science, Than I have in this ring: 'twas mine, 'twas Helen's, Whoever gave it you: Then, if you know That you are well acquainted with yourself, Confess twas hers, and by what rough enforcement
5 In Florence was it from a casenicnt 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. Johnson. 6 noble she was, and thought
I stood ingag'd :) Ingaged, in the sense of unengaged, is a word of exactly the same formation as inhabitable, which is used by Shakspeare and the contemporary writers for uninhabitable.
MALONE. 1 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 commuvicate its qualities to a large mass of base metal.
Then, if you know
Confess 'twas hers,] The true meaning of this expression is, If you know that your faculties are so sound, 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. Johnson.