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A guide, a goddess, and a sovereign,
Where the fellow, finding a thousand loves spoken of, and only three reckoned up, namely, a mother's a mistress's, and a friend's, (which, by the way, were all a judicious writer could- mention; for there are but these three species of love in nature) he would help out the number, by the intermediate nonsense: and, because they were yet too few, he pieces out his loves with enmities, and makes of the whole such finished nonsense, as is never heard out of Bedlam. Warburton.
captain,] Our author often uses this word for a head or chief. So, in one of his Sonnets :
“Or captain jewels in the carkanet." Again, in Timon of Athens : “ the ass more captain than the lion."
Again, more appositely, in Othello, where it is applied to Desdemona:
our great captain's captain." We find some of these terms of endearment again used in The Winter's Tale. Leontes says to the young Mamillius,
“ Come, captain, we must be neat,” &c. Again, in the same scene, Polixenes, speaking of his son says:
“ He's all my exercise, my mirth, my matter;
“ My parasite, my soldier, statesman, all.” Malone. 6 — 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 are like a traytor, but such traytors his maa jesty does not much fear.” Johnson.
I cannot conceive that traitress (spoken seriously) was in any age a term of endearment. From the present passage, we might as well suppose enemy (in the last line but one) to be a term of endearment. In the other passage quoted, Lafeu is plainly speak. ing ironically. Tyrwhitt.
Traditora, a traitress, in the Italian language, is generally used as a term of endearment. The meaning of Helena is, that she shall prove every thing to Bertram. Our ancient writers delighted in catalogues, and always characterize love by contrarieties.
Steevens. Falstaff, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, says to Mrs. Ford: “Thou art a traitor to say so." In his interview with her, he certainly meant to use the language of love.
Helena, however, I think, does not mean to say that she shall prove every thing to Bertram, but to express her apprehension that he will find at the court some lady or ladies who shall prove every thing to him; (“ a phænix, captain, counsellor, traitress;" &c.) to whom he will give all the fond names that “ blinking Cu. pid gossips.” Malone.
His humble ambition, proud humility,
Par. What one, i' faith?
Hel. That wishing well had not a body in 't,
I believe it would not be difficult to find in the love poetry of those times an authority for most, if not for every one, of these whimsical titles. At least I can affirm it from knowledge, that far the greater part of them are to be found in the Italian lyrick poetry, which was the model from which our poets chiefly copied.
Heath. christendoms,] This word, which signifies the collective body of christianity, every place where the christian religion is embraced, is surely used with much license on the present occasion. It is also employed with a similar sense in an Epitaph “on an only Child,” which the reader will find at the end of Wit's Recreations, 1640:
“ As here a name and christendome to obtain,
“ And to his Maker then return again.” Steevens. It is used by another ancient writer in the same sense; so that the word probably bore, in our author's time, the signification which he has affixed to it. So, in 4 Royal Arbor of Loyal Poesie, by Thomas Jordan, no date, but printed about 1661:
“She is baptiz'd in Christendom,
[i.e. by a christian name]
“ The Jew cries out he's undone —." These lines are found in a ballad formed on part of the story of The Merchant of Venice, in which it is remarkable that it is the Jew's daughter, and not Portia, that saves the merchant's life by pleading his cause. There should seem therefore to have been some novel on this subject that has hitherto escaped the researches of the commentators. In the same book are ballads founded on the fables of Much Ado about Nothing, and The Winter's Tale. Malone.
& And show what we alone must think;] And show by realities what we now must only think. Johnson.
Enter a Page.
[Exit Page. Par. Little Helen, farewel: 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. The wars have so kept you under, that you must needs be born under Mars.
Par. When he was predominant.
Hel. So is running away, when fear proposes the safety: But the composition, that your valour and fear makes in you, is a virtue of a good wing,' and I like the wear well.
is a virtue of a good wing,] Mr. Edwards is of opinion, that a virtue of a good wing refers to his nimbleness or fleetness in running away. The phrase, however, is taken from falconry, as may appear from the following passage in Marston's Fawne, 1606: " I love my horse after a journeying easiness, as he is easy in journeying'; my hawk, for the goodness of his wing;" &c. Or it may be taken from dress. So, in Every Man out of his Humour : “ I would have mine such a suit without a difference; such stuff, such a wing, such a sleeve,” &c. Mr. Tollet observes, that a good wing signifies a strong wing in Lord Bacon's Natural History, experiment 866:4" Certainly many birds of a good wing (as kites and the like) would bear up a good weight as they fiy." The same phrase, however, anciently belonged to archery. So Ascham, in his Toxophilus, edit. 1589, p. 57: “— - another shaftbecause it is lower feathered, or else because it is of a better wing.?' &c. Steevens.
The reading of the old copy (which Dr. Warburton changed to ming) is supported by a passage in King Henry V, in which we meet with a similar expression: “ Though his affections are higher mounted than ours, yet when they stoop, they stoop with the like wing: Again, in King Henry IV, P. I:
“ Yet let me wonder Harry,
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: farewel. 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 farewel.
[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. What power
is it, which mounts my love so high;
The meaning of this passage appears to be this: “If your valour will suffer you to go backward for advantage, and your fear for the same reason will make you run away, the composition that your valour and fear make in you, must be a virtue that will fly far and swiftly.”—A bird of a good wing, is a bird of swift and strong flight.
Though the latter part of this sentence is sense as it stands, I cannot help thinking that there is an error in it, and that we ought to read “ And is like to wear well,” instead of “ I like the wear well.” M. Mason.
-80 thou wilt be capable of a courtier's counsel,] i. e. thou wilt comprehend it. See a note in Hamlet on the words
“ Whose form and cause conjoin'd, preaching to stones,
“ Would make them capable." Malone. 2 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, and left too long after it, without the food of hope? Fohnson.
kiss like native things.] Things formed by nature for each other. M. Mason.
So, in Chapman's metrical “ Address to the Reader,” prefixed to his translation of Homer's Iliad, 1611:
“Our monosyllables so kindly fall
What hath been cannot be: Who ever strove
* The mightiest space in fortune nature brings
To join like likes, and kiss like native things.
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 set between them; she joins them and makes them kiss like things born together. The next lines I read with Sir T. Hanmer :
Impossible be strange attempts to those
What ha' n't been, cannot be. New attempts seem impossible to those who estimate their labour or enterprises by sense, and believe that nothing can be but what they see before them. Fohnson.
I understand the meaning to be this--The affections given us by nature often unite persons between whom fortune or accident has placed the greatest distance or disparity; and cause them to join, like likes (instar parium) like persons in the same situation or rank of life. Thus (as Mr. Steevens has observed) in Timon of Athens :
« Thou solderest close impossibilities,
“c And mak'st them kiss." This interpretation is strongly confirmed by a subsequent speech of the countesses steward, who is supposed to have over. heard this soliloquy of Helena: “ Fortune, she said, was no god. dess, that had put such difference betwixt their two estates."
The mightiest space in fortune, for persons the most widely sepa. rated by fortune, is certainly a licentious expression; but it is such a license as Shakspeare often takes. Thus, in Cymbeline, the diminution of space is used for the diminution, of which space or distance, is the cause. If he had written spaces, (as in Troilus and Cressida,
her whom we know well “ The world's large spaces cannot parallel,)" the passage would have been more clear; but he was confined by the metre. We might, however, read
The mightiest space in nature fortune brings
To join, &c. i. e. accident sometimes unites those whom inequality of rank has separated. But I believe the text is right. Malone.