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of Helena, except in the relation she bore to his mother as a humble friend and dependant. He does not marry her as a coward; he marries her reluctantly at the command of his liege lord.
His profligacy is the licence of the camp and the court. If he is ultimately “ dismissed to happiness," we are reconciled to the forgiveness which he has obtained, because we are sure that through his punishment Helena would have been doubly punished. Improbable and unpleasant as are the incidents by which the ardent hope of Helena is accomplished, it would not have consisted with our sympathy for her that Bertram should have been disgraced, and she condemned to a life-long divorce. There is much that is rash, and cruel, and licentious in Bertram, but there is no incurable meanness that would make Helena more miserable in their union than their separation.
“In this piece," says Schlegel, “age is exhibited to singular advantage: the plain honesty of the King, the goodnatured impetuosity of old Lafeu, the maternal indulgence of the Countess to Helena's love of her son, seem all, as it were, to vie with each other in endeavours to conquer the arrogance of the young Count.” It is the admiration of these for Helena that makes us understand the nobleness of her character, carrying out her self-will almost without selfishness; “tremblingly alive to gentle impressions," and yet preserving an immoveable heart amidst even the most imperious causes of subduing emotion."
Shakspere,” says Steevens, “is indebted to the novel only for a few leading circumstances in the graver parts of the piece. The comic business appears to be entirely of his own formation." The great character of the comic business is Parolles. According to Johnson, “ Parolles is a boaster and a coward, such as has always been the sport of the stage, but perhaps never raised more laughter or contempt than in the hands of Shakspere.” This is true. But how mistaken is Johnson when, in a note upon the same character, he says, “Parolles has many of the lineaments of Falstaff, and seems to be the character which Shakspere delighted to draw, a fellow that had more wit than virtue." Ulrici calls him “the little appendix of the great Falstaff.” Schlegel says, “Fal
staff has thrown Parolles into the shade." We cannot understand these comparisons between the two characters. Helena has drawn the character of Parolles much more justly:-
“I know him a notorious liar,