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Hel. Mine honourable mistress.
Nay, a mother;
That I am not. Count. I
say, I am your mother. Hel.
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 mothers,
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.
What's the matter,
The many-colourd 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 appear. ance in his Rape of Lucrece:
“ And round about her tear-distained eye
I care no more for, than I do for heaven,
Count. Yes, Helen, you might be my daughter-in-law;
or were you both our mothers,
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.
Farmer. 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 more 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? Fohnson.
strive —] To strive is to contend. So, in Cymbeline :
Now I see
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 forego. ing 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.
You love my son; invention is asham'd,
Good madam, pardon me!
Your pardon, noble mistress?
Do not you love him, madam?
Then, I confess,
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.
in their kind - ] i. e. their language, according to their Steevens.
I still pour in the waters of my love,
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. Fohnson.
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 hold. ing 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.
“whose state is such, that cannot choose
“But lend and give, where she is sure to lose." 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, 80, 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 diseouraged, but perseveres in her hopeless endeavour to accomplish her wishes. The poet evi. dently alludes to the trite story of the daughters of Danaus.
Malone. ? 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 license, 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
To her, whose state is such, that cannot choose
Count. Had you not lately an intent, speak truly,
Madam, I had.
Wherefore? tell true.” Hel. I will tell truth; by grace itself, I swear. You know, my father left me some prescriptions Of rare and prov'd effects, such as his reading, And manifest experience, had collected For general sovereignty; and that he willd me In heedfullest reservation to bestow them, As notes, whose faculties inclusivel were, More than they were in note: amongst the rest, There is a remedy, approv'd set down, To cure the desperate languishings, whereof The king is render'd lost. Count.
This was your motive
Hel. My lord your son made me to think of this;
But think you, Helen,
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.
tell true.] This is an evident interpolation. It is need. less, because it repeats what the Countess had already said: it is injurious, because it spoils the measure. Steevens.
notes, whose faculties inclusive - ] Receipts in which greater virtues were inclosed than appeared to observation.