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PAR. My life, sir, in any case: not that I am afraid to die; but that, my offences being many, I would repent out the remainder of nature: let me live, sir, in a dungeon, i̇' the stocks, or any where, so I may live *.
1 SOLD. We'll see what may be done, so you confess freely; therefore, once more to this captain Dumain: You have answered to his reputation with the duke, and to his valour: What is his honesty?
PAR. He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister"; for rapes and ravishments he parallels Nessus. He professes not keeping of oaths; in breaking them, he is stronger than Hercules. He will lie, sir, with such volubility, that you would think truth were a fool: drunkenness is his best virtue; for he will be swine-drunk; and in his sleep he does little harm, save to his bed-clothes about him; but they know his conditions, and lay him in straw. I have but little more to say, sir, of his honesty: he has every thing that an honest man should not have; what an honest man should have, he has nothing.
The emendation was made by the editor of the second folio, and the misprint probably arose from ye in the MS. being taken for y2. MALONE.
let me live, sir, in a dungeon, i' the stocks, or any where, so I may live.] Smith might have had this abject sentiment of Parolles in his memory, when he put the following words into the mouth of Lycon, in Phædra and Hippolytus :
"O, chain me, whip me, let me be the scorn
"Give me but life, and make that life most wretched!"
5- an egg out of a cloister;] I know not that cloister, though it may etymologically signify "any thing shut," is used by our author otherwise than for a monastery, and therefore I cannot guess whence this hyperbole could take its original: perhaps it means only this" He will steal any thing, however trifling, from any place, however holy." JOHNSON.
"Robbing the spital," is a common phrase, of the like import. M. MASON.
1 LORD. I begin to love him for this. BER. For this description of thine honesty? A pox upon him for me, he is more and more a cat.
1 SOLD. What say you to his expertness in war? PAR. Faith, sir, he has led the drum before the English tragedians,-to belie him, I will not,-and more of his soldiership I know not; except, in that country, he had the honour to be the officer at a place there call'd Mile-end 6, to instruct for the doubling of files: I would do the man what honour I can, but of this I am not certain.
1 LORD. He hath out-villained villainy so far, that the rarity redeems him.
BER. A pox on him! he's a cat still".
1 SOLD. His qualities being at this poor price, I need not ask you, if gold will corrupt him to revolt.
6 at a place there call'd Mile-end,] See a note on King Henry IV. Part II. Act III. Sc. II. MALONE.
- he's a cat still.] That is, throw him how you will, he lights upon his legs. JOHNSON.
Bertram has no such meaning. In a speech or two before, he declares his aversion to a cat, and now only continues in the same opinion, and says he hates Parolles as much as he hates a cat. The other explanation will not do, as Parolles could not be meant by the cat, which always lights on its legs, for Parolles is now in a fair way to be totally disconcerted. STEEVENS.
I am still of my former opinion. The speech was applied by King James to Coke, with respect to his subtilties of law, that throw him which way we would, he could still, like a cat, light upon his legs. JOHNSON.
The Count had said, that formerly a cat was the only thing in the world which he could not endure; but that now Parolles was as much the object of his aversion as that animal. After Parolles has gone through his next list of falshoods, the Count adds, "he's more and more a cat,"—still more and more the object of my aversion than he was. As Parolles proceeds still further, one of the Frenchmen observes, that the singularity of his impudence and villainy redeems his character.-Not at all, replies the Count; "he's a cat still;' he is as hateful to me as ever. There cannot, therefore, I think be any doubt that Dr. Johnson's interpretation, "throw him how you will, he lights upon his legs," is founded on a misapprehension. MALOne.
PAR. Sir, for a quart d'ecu he will sell the feesimple of his salvation, the inheritance of it; and cut the entail from all remainders, and a perpetual succession for it perpetually.
1 SOLD. What's his brother, the other captain Dumain?
2 LORD. Why does he ask him of me??
1 SOLD. What's he?
PAR. E'en a crow of the same nest; not altogether so great as the first in goodness, but greater a great deal in evil. He excels his brother for a coward, yet his brother is reputed one of the best that is: In a retreat he out-runs any lackey; marry, in coming on he has the cramp.
1 SOLD. If your life be saved, will you undertake to betray the Florentine ?
PAR. Ay, and the captain of his horse, count Rousillon.
1 SOLD. I'll whisper with the general, and know his pleasure.
PAR. I'll no more drumming; a plague of all drums! Only to seem to deserve well, and to beguile the supposition of that lascivious young boy the count, have I run into this danger: Yet, who would have suspected an ambush where I was taken?
[Aside. 1 SOLD. There is no remedy, sir, but you must die: the general says, you, that have so traitorously discovered the secrets of your army, and made such pestiferous reports of men very nobly held, can
for a QUART D'ECU-] The fourth part of the smaller French crown; about eight-pence of our money. MALONE.
9 Why does he ask him of me?] This is nature. Every man is, on such occasions, more willing to hear his neighbour's character than his own. JOHNSON.
to beguile the supposition] That is, to deceive the opinion, to make the Count think me a man that deserves well.
serve the world for no honest use; therefore you must die. Come, headsmen, off with his head.
PAR. O Lord, sir; let me live, or let me see my death!
1 SOLD. That shall you, and take your leave of all your friends. [Unmuffling him.
So, look about you; Know you any here?
2 LORD. God bless you, captain Parolles.
2 LORD. Captain, what greeting will you to my lord Lafeu? I am for France.
1 LORD. Good captain, will you give me a copy of the sonnet you writ to Diana in behalf of the count Rousillon ? an I were not a very coward, I'd compel it of you; but fare you well.
[Exeunt BERTRAM, Lords, &c. 1 SOLD. You are undone, captain: all but your scarf, that has a knot on't yet.
PAR. Who cannot be crushed with a plot ?
1 SOLD. If you could find out a country where but women were that had received so much shame, you might begin an impudent nation. Fare you well, sir; I am for France too; we shall speak of you there. [Exit. PAR. Yet am I thankful: if my heart were great, 'Twould burst at this: Captain, I'll be no more; But I will eat and drink, and sleep as soft As captain shall: simply the thing I am Shall make me live. Who knows himself a braggart, Let him fear this; for it will come to pass, That every braggart shall be found an ass, Rust, sword! cool, blushes! and Parolles, live Safest in shame! being fool'd, by foolery thrive ! There's place, and means, for every man alive. I'll after them.
Florence. A Room in the Widow's House.
Enter HELENA, Widow, and DIANA.
HEL. That you may well perceive I have not wrong'd you,
One of the greatest in the Christian world Shall be my surety; 'fore whose throne, 'tis needful,
Ere I can perfect mine intents, to kneel:
HEL. Nor you3, mistress, Ever a friend, whose thoughts more truly labour To recompense your love; doubt not, but heaven Hath brought me up to be your daughter's dower, As it hath fated her to be my motive*
2 His grace is at MARSEILLES, &c.] From this line, and others, it appears that Marseilles was pronounced by our author as a word of three syllables. The old copy has here Marcellæ, and in the last scene of this Act, Marcellus. MALONE.
3 Nor You,] Old copy-Nor your. Corrected by Mr. Rowe. MALONE.
my MOTIVE-] Motive for assistant. WARBURton.