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indeed tells us that "he who fears nothing will do nothing contrary to his inclination; it is in quality of cowards that troops are brave." But this is a refinement upon a word beyond its general acceptation. It suits the mouth of a metaphysician, but a man of the world would hardly understand it, and a great moralist has nothing to do with it. We rather admire the boldness of young Bertram's sneering and ironical speech, wherein he consents to "take her hand," which could not be uttered without hazard while the brow of royalty was scowling upon him. Nor does he "leave her as a profligate." A profligate would have taken her to his arms before he abandoned her; but he flies from her with indignation immediately after the marriage-ceremony. As I profess to entertain a brotherly affection for Helen, I am bound to inquire if there is any apology for such ungallant behaviour on the part of the bridegroom; and in this my duty I must, as is usual, previously insist on the fault being all on his side. Well, even in this oneeyed view of the question, I must needs acquit him on the score of mere accident,—the coronet having slipped over his forehead and blinded his eyes to Helen's perfections. He knew not she was "a maid too virtuous for the contempt of empire ;" and it was utterly out of his comprehension "that twenty such rude boys (as himself) might tend upon, and call her hourly, mistress." All his knowledge was comprised in her being "a poor physician's daughter, who had her breeding at his father's charge;" and his farewell to her at the castle shows he regarded her somewhat in the light of a menial, when he concludes his speech
with "Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her." To regard the poor girl with so little consideration is certainly very wrong; but at the same time it is very lordly, and Bertram is a lord. Besides, is the compulsion nothing? Suppose, reader (if thou art a parlour gentleman) that an act of parliament were to pass, compelling thee to take Dolly from the kitchen as thy wife. Truly, whatever deserving qualities Dolly might possess, or however good her education might be, I fear thou wouldest not perceive them, partly owing to her inferior station, and partly to thine own indignation at so tyrannical a law.
The Count likewise had a bad adviser at his elbow, one Monsieur Parolles. Nor does the fostering of so adroit a parasite cast any reproach on the understanding of an inexperienced youth. Parolles is not a bully like Captain Bobadil, or ancient Pistol, whose swaggering could only deceive a Master Matthew or a Dame Quickly. He talks like a soldier of "very valiant approof," and wears not his sword clumsily, but with a grace; such a counterfeit may pass for one of the current coin of Mars. He goes through the ordeal of the French Court without suspicion, save from one man. was first smoked by the old Lord Lafeu ;" and he, with all his cunning, did not immediately discover him to be "a snipt taffata fellow," whose "soul was in his clothes." Should this play be acted, let it be borne in mind that Parolles, so far from being a buffoon, is serious, stately, and pompous. He has nothing of the droll or the fop. It is not for the love of distinction that he assumes the character of a man
of courage, but for the sake of a livelihood; and therefore there is no touch of vanity in his composition. He acts his part well, as a labourer works well when he knows he shall be well paid. It is remarkable that Helen is the only one at the castle who saw through his disguise; she says:
"And yet I know him a notorious liar,
Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;
This delineation does credit to Helen's discernment, and may be brought forward as an evidence of the truth of the Vicar of Wakefield's observation, that "the two sexes seem placed as spies on each other, and are furnished with different abilities, adapted for mutual inspection."
An overweening pride of birth was Bertram's great foible. To cure him of this, Shakespeare sends him to the wars, that he may earn fame for himself, and thus exchange a shadow for a reality. There "the great dignity that his valour acquired for him" places him on an equality with any of his ancestors, and he is no longer beholden to them alone for the world's observance. Thus, in his own person, he discovers there is something better than mere hereditary honour; and his heart is prepared to acknowledge that the entire devotion of Helen's love is of more worth than the court-bred stately smiles of a princess. He will not again turn a deaf ear, nor give a peevish reply, to those arguments which had been made use of in behalf of the "poor physician's daughter;" and which, by the by, might be sculptured (without offence, I hope) over the door of the Herald's College :
Strange is it that our bloods,
Of colour, weight, and heat, pour'd all together,
That is honour's scorn,
I know not how to palliate the conduct of our young soldier in his love for that pretty Florentine lass, Diana. He was yet in his minority, to be sure; and that Parolles, "a very tainted fellow, and full of wickedness," did his utmost to further the affair; yet still I find it difficult to excuse him. After my utmost moral consideration, I feel it impossible to do any thing better than yield him up to the judgment of the pure and spotless; and they perhaps may be merciful, though those, the most conversant in his crime, should, as by usage established, plead in aggravation. But, let it be observed, while Shakespeare chronicles this fault, he allows it to be canvassed and severely censured by others; not by greybeards, who may have forgotten their similar delinquencies, or grown envious of what they but faintly remember, but by the gay, the youthful gallants of the camp; who, while they exclaim against it in bitter reproof, mingle his shame with a fearful consciousness of their own frailty. What extreme justice and what charity here meet together!
The learned Doctor goes on to tell us that Bertram "sneaks home to a second marriage ;" which is as contrary to the text as that he travelled in a balloon. The war being ended he returns to France, and agrees to marry the Lord Lafeu's daughter, rather as an expiation than by choice. He will do any thing prescribed for him, otherwise his case is hopeless. At the last Diana enters, accusing him of a breach of promise of marriage, with as much archness as modesty can possibly assume, backed by a string of riddling impossibilities, very amusing to the reader, but wondrously perplexing to the parties concerned. Throughout this trying scene Bertram never "defends himself by falsehood." He neither confesses nor denies the promise. If we look back to the interview between him and Diana, where she laughs at his promise, and begs his diamond ring, we cannot be surprised at the low estimation in which he holds her virtue. There is a plot against him, and the part Diana takes in it necessarily involves her in his worst thoughts. He is guilty of no "falsehood," except as touching a certain ring on his finger; and, challenged as he is, before the king and the whole court, how could he reveal its history? In all intrigues, whether amatory or political, it is held infamous for the parties not to be true to each other, at the expense of truth towards the rest of the world. Why then should Bertram be seriously blamed? It was rather his care for Diana's good name, than his own, that induced him to forge that foolish tale of the ring being thrown to him from a casement. But he is at last "dismissed to happiness ;" and why not?-his faults