« PreviousContinue »
Hel. Bless our poor virginity from underminers and blowers up!-Is there no military policy, how virgins might blow up men?
Par. Virginity being blown down, man will quick- ́ lier be blown up; marry, in blowing him down again, with the breach yourselves made, you lose your city. It is not politic in the commonwealth of nature to preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational increase; and there was never virgin got, till virginity was first lost. That you were made of, is metal to make virgins. Virginity, by being once lost, may be ten times found; by being ever kept, it is ever lost: 'tis too cold a companion; away with it.
Hel. I will stand for't a little, though therefore I die a virgin.
Par. There's little can be said in't; 'tis against the rule of nature. To speak on the part of virginity, is to accuse your mothers; which is most infallible disobedience. He that hangs himself is a virgin: virginity murders itself; and should be buried in highways, out of all sanctified limit, as a desperate offendress against nature. Virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese; consumes itself to the very paring, and so dies with feeding his own stomach. Besides, virginity is peevish, proud, idle, made of self-love, which is the most inhibited sin in the canon. Keep it not: you cannot choose but lose by't. Out with't: within ten years it will make itself two,' which is a goodly increase, and the principal itself not much the worse. Away with't.
Hel. How might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking?
Par. Let me see. Marry, ill, to like him that ne'er it likes. 'Tis a commodity will lose the gloss with lying; the longer kept, the less worth. Off with't, while 'tis vendible: answer the time of request. Virginity, like an old courtier, wears her cap out of fashion; richly suited, but unsuitable; just like
the brooch and toothpick, which wear1 not now. Your date is better in your pie and your porridge, than in your cheek; and your virginity, your old virginity, is like one of our French withered pears; it looks ill; it eats dryly; marry, 'tis a withered pear; it was formerly better; marry, yet, 'tis a withered pear. Will you any thing with it?
Hel. Not my virginity yet.
There shall your master have a thousand loves,
A phoenix, captain, and an enemy,
Hel. That I wish well.-'Tis pity-
Hel. That wishing well had not a body in't,
1 The old copy reads were; Rowe corrected it. Shakspeare here, as in other places, uses the active for the passive.
2 A quibble on date, which means age, and a candied fruit then much used in pies.
3 Hanmer and Johnson suggest that some such clause as" You're for the court," has been omitted. Something of the kind is necessary to connect Helena's rhapsodical speech.
4 i. e. a number of pretty, fond, adopted appellations or Christian names, to which blind Cupid stands godfather. It is often used for baptism by old writers.
5 i. e. and show by realities what we now must only think.
Enter a Page.
Page. Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you.
[Exit Page. Par. Little Helen, farewell; 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. I especially think, under Mars.
Par. Why under Mars?
Hel. The wars have so kept you under, that you must needs be born under Mars.
Par. When he was predominant.
Hel. When he was retrograde, I think, rather.
Par. Why think you so?
Hel. You go so much backward, when you fight.
Hel. So is running away, when fear proposes the safety; but the composition, that your valor and fear makes in you, is a virtue of a good wing,' and I like the wear well.
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: farewell. 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 farewell.
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.
1 A bird of good wing was a bird of swift and strong flight. 2 Capable and susceptible were synonymous in Shakspeare's time, as appears by the dictionaries.
What power is it which mounts my love so high;
SCENE II. Paris. A Room in the King's Palace. Flourish of Cornets.
Enter the King of France, with letters; Lords and others attending.
King. The Florentines and Senoys are by the ears; Have fought with equal fortune, and continue A braving war. 1 Lord.
So 'tis reported, sir.
King. Nay, 'tis most credible; we here receive it A certainty, vouched from our cousin Austria, With caution, that the Florentine will move us For speedy aid; wherein our dearest friend Prejudicates the business, and would seem To have us make denial.
1 She means, "Why am I made to discern excellence, and left to long after it without the food of hope?'
2 The mightiest space in fortune is a licentious expression for persons the most widely separated by fortune; whom nature (i. e. natural affection) brings to join like likes (i. e. equals), and kiss like native things (i. e. and unite like things formed by nature for each other); or, in other words, "Nature often unites those whom fortune or inequality of rank has separated."
3 The citizens of the small republic of which Sienna is the capital; the Sanesi, as Boccaccio calls them, which Painter translates Senois, after the French method.
And Florence is denied before he comes;
He hath armed our answer,
What's he comes here?
Enter BERTRAM, LAFEU, and PAROLLES.
1 Lord. It is the count Rousillon, my good lord, Young Bertram.
King. Youth, thou bear'st thy father's face; Frank nature, rather curious than in haste, Hath well composed thee. Thy father's moral parts Mayst thou inherit too! Welcome to Paris.
Ber. My thanks and duty are your majesty's. King. I would I had that corporal soundness now, As when thy father, and myself, in friendship First tried our soldiership! He did look far Into the service of the time, and was Discipled of the bravest. He lasted long; But on us both did haggish age steal on, And wore us out of act. It much repairs1 me To talk of your good father. In his youth 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 honor.2 So like a courtier, contempt nor bitterness Were in his pride or sharpness: if they were, His equal had awaked them; and his honor,
1 To repair, in these plays, generally signifies to renovate.
2 That is, "cover petty faults with great merit:" honor does not stand for dignity of rank or birth, but acquired reputation. "This is an excellent observation (says Johnson); jocose follies, and slight offences, are only allowed by mankind in him that overpowers them by great qualities.”
3 Nor was sometimes used without reduplication. "He was so like a courtier, that there was in his dignity of manner nothing contemptuous,