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2 Lord. This is your devoted friend, sir, the manifold linguist, and the armipotent soldier.
Ber. I could endure any thing before but a cat, and now he's a cat to me.
1 Sold. I perceive, sir, by the general's looks, we shall be fain to hang you.
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, i'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 valor; 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 swinedrunk; 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.
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 honor to be the officer at a place there called Mile End, to instruct for the doubling of files. I would do the man what honor I can, but of this I am not certain.
i The Centaur killed by Hercules.
2 Mile End Green was the place for public sports and exercises. See K. Henry IV. P. II. Act iii. Sc. 2.
1 Lord. He hath out-villained villany 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.
Par. Sir, for a quart d'ecu' he will sell the fee-simple 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. Even 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 outruns 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 1 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 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 The fourth part of the smaller French crown, about eight pence. 2 To deceive the opinion.
1 Sold. That shall you, and take your leave of all your friends.
[Unmuffling him. So, look about you: Know you any here?
Ber. Good morrow, noble captain.
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 fooled, by foolery thrive! There's place, and means, for every man alive. I'll after them.
Florence. A Room in the Widow's
Enter Helena, Widow, and Diana.
Nor you, mistress,
1 Marseilles, in the old copy, is written Marcella and Marcellus. 2 i. e. to be my mover.
3 Saucy was used in the sense of wanton. We have it with the same meaning in Measure for Measure. VOL. II.
Under my poor instructions, yet must suffer
Let death and honesty
Yet, I pray you,
SCENE V. Rousillon. A Room in the Countess's
Enter Countess, LaFEU, and Clown. Laf. No, no, no, your son was misled with a snipttaffeta fellow there; whose villanous saffron 4 would have inade all the unbaked and doughy youth of a nation in his color : your daughter-in-law had been alive at this hour; and your son here at home, more advanced by the king, than by that red-tailed humble-bee I speak of.
Count. I would I had not known him! It was the death of the most virtuous gentlewoman, that ever na
1 i. e. let death, accompanied by honesty, go with the task you impose, still I am yours, &c. 2 The reading proposed by Blackstone,
“ Yet I 'fray you But with the word : the time will bring, &c." seems required by the context, and makes the passage intelligible.
3 A translation of the common Latin proverb, Finis coronat opus ; the origin of which has been pointed out by Mr. Douce, in his Illustrations, vol. i. p. 323.
4 It has been thought that there is an allusion here to the fashion of yellow starch for bands and ruffs, which was long prevalent; and also to the custom of coloring paste with saffron. The plain meaning seems to be—that Parolles's vices were of such a colorable quality as to be sufficient to corrupt the inexperienced youth of a nation, and make them take the same hue.