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Changes to the Countess's at Roufillon.
Enter Countefs, Steward and Clown 3:
Will now hear; what fay you of this gentlewoman?
Stew. Madam, the care I have had to even your content, I with might be found in the calendar of my past endeavours; for then we wound our modefty, and make foul the clearness of our defervings, when of ourselves we publish them.
Count. What does this knave here? get you gone, Sirrah; the complaints, I have heard of you, I do not all believe; 'tis my flowness that I do not, for, I know, you lack not folly to commit them, and have ability enough to make fuch knaveries yours.
3 Steward and Clown.] A Clown in Shakespeare is commonly taken for a licensed jefter, or domeftick fool. We are not to wonder that we find this character often in his plays, fince fools were, at that time, maintained in all great families, to keep up merriment in the houfe. In the picture of Sir Thomas More's family, by Hans Holbein, the only fervant reprefented is Patifon the fool. This is a proof of the familiarity to which they were admitted, not by the great only, but the wife.
In fome plays, a fervant, or ruftic, of remarkable petulance and freedom of fpeech, is like wife called a Clown.
4 To even your content] To act up to your desires.
S you lack not folly to commit them, and have ability enough to make fuch knaveries YOURS; Well, but if he had folly to commit them, he neither wanted knavery, nor any thing else, fure, to make them his own. This nonfenfe fhould be read, To make fuch knaveries YARE; nimble, dextrous, i. e. Tho' you be fool enough to commit knaveries, yet you have quicknefs enough to commit them dextroufly: for this obfervation was to let us into his character. But now, tho' this be fet right, and, I dare fay, in Shakespeare's own words, yet the former part of the fentence will ftill be inaccurate you lack not folly to commit THEM. Them, what? the fense requires knaveries, but the anteU 3 cedent
Clo. 'Tis not unknown to you, Madam, I am a poor fellow.
Count. Well, Sir.
Clo. No, Madam, 'tis not fo well that I am poor, tho' many of the rich are damn'd; but, if I have your ladyship's good will to go to the world, Ibel the woman and I will do as we may.
Count. Wilt thou needs be a beggar?
Clo. I do beg your good will in this case.
Clo. In Ibel's cafe, and my own; fervice is no heritage, and, I think, I fhall never have the bleffing of God, till I have iffue of my body; for they fay, bearns are bleffings.
Count. Tell me the reafon why thou wilt marry.
Clo. My poor body, Madam, requires it. I am driven on by the flesh; and he must needs go, that the devil drives.
Count. Is this all your worship's reafon ?
Clo. Faith, Madam, I have other holy reafons, fuch as they are.
Count. May the world know them?
Clo. I have been, Madam, a wicked creature, as you and all flesh and blood are; and; indeed, I do marry, that I may repent.
Count. Thy marriage, fooner than thy wickedness. Clo. I am out of friends, Madam, and I hope to have friends for my wife's fake.
Count. Such friends are thine enemies, knave..
Clo. Y'are fhallow, Madam, in great friends; for the knaves come to do that for me, which I am weary of; he, that eares my land, fpares my team, and gives me leave to inn the crop; If I be his cuckold, he's my drudge; he, that comforts my wife, is the cherisher of my flesh and blood; he, that cherisheth my flesh and blood, loves my flesh and blood; he, that loves my flesh and blood, is my friend: ergo, he that kiffes my wife, is my friend. If men 'could be contented to be what they are, there were no fear in marriage; for young Charbon the puritan, and old Poyfam the papist, howfoe'er their hearts fever'd in religion, their heads are both one; they may joul horns together, like any deer i' th' herd.
-Count. Wilt thou ever be a foul-mouth'd and calumnious knave?
Clo. A prophet, I, Madam; and I speak the truth the next way;
"For I the ballad will repeat, which men full true "fhall find;
"Your marriage comes by deftiny, your cuckow "fings by kind.
Count. Get you gone, Sir, I'll talk with you more
Stew. May it please you, Madam, that he bid Helen come to you; of her I am to fpeak.
Count. Sirrah, tell my gentlewoman I would speak with her; Helen I mean.
Clo." Was this fair face the caufe, quoth fhe,
"Why the Grecians facked Troy?
"Fond done, fond done;-for Paris, he,
"Was this King Priam's joy.
"With that she fighed as fhe ftood,
"And gave this fentence then;
"There's yet one good in ten 3.
Count. What, one good in ten? You corrupt the fong, Sirrah.
Clo. One good woman in ten, Madam, which is a purifying o' th' fong: 'would, God would ferve the world fo all the year! we'd find no fault with the tythewoman, if I were the Parfon; one in ten, quoth a'! an we might have a good woman born but every blazing ftar, or at an earthquake, 'twould mend the lot
Was this fair face the caufe,
Was this King Priam's joy.] This is a Stanza of an old ballad, out of which a word or two are dropt, equally neceffary to make the fenfe and the alternate rhime. For it was not Helen, who was King Priam's joy, but Paris. The third line therefore fhould be read thus,
Fond done, fond done, FOR
This fecond ftanza of the ballad is turned to a joke upon the women: a confeffion, that there was one good in ten. Whereon the Countess obferved, that he corrupted the fong; which fhews the fong faid, Nine good in ten.
If one be bad among ft nine good, There's but one bad in ten. This relates to the ten fons of Priam, who all behaved themfelves well but Paris. For tho' he once had fifty, yet at this unfortunate period of his reign he had but ten; Agathon, Antiphon, Deiphobus, Dius, Hector, Helenus, Hippothous, Pemmon, Paris, and Polites. WARBURTON.
tery well; a man may draw his heart out, ere he pluck one.
Count. You'll be gone, Sir knave, and do as I command you?
Clo. That man fhould be at woman's command, and yet no hurt done!-tho' honesty be no puritan, yet it will do no hurt; it will wear the furplice of humility over the black gown of a big heart-I am going, forfooth. The bufinefs is for Helen to come hither. [Exit.
Count. Well, now.
Stew. I know, Madam, you love your gentlewoman intirely.
Count. Faith, I do; her father bequeath'd her to me; and she herself, without other advantages, mày lawfully make title to as much love as the finds; there is more owing her, than is paid; and more shall be paid her, than fhe'll demand.
Stew. Madam, I was very late more near her, than, I think, fhe wifh'd me; alone fhe was, and did communicate to herfelf her own words to her own ears; fhe thought, I dare vow for her, they touch'd not any stranger fenfe. Her matter was, she lov'd your fon;
Clo. That man, &c.] The clown's anfwer is obfcure. His lady bids him do as he is commanded. He answers with the licentious petulance of his character, that if a man does as a roman commands, it is likely ke will do amifs; that he does not amifs, being at the command of a woman, he makes the effect, not of his Lady's goodness, but
junctions of fuperiours, and wear the Surplice of humility over the black gown of a big heart; will obey commands, though not much pleased with a state of subjection.
Here is an allufion, violently enough forced in, to fatirife the obftinacy with which the Puritans refufed the use of the ecclefiaftical habits, which was, arthat
of his own honefty, which, though time, one principal caufe that
not very nice or puritanical, will
the breach of union, and, perhaps, to infinuate, that the modest purity of the furplice was fometimes a cover for f pride.