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I hold him but a fool, that will endanger
I claim her not, and therefore she is thine.
Duke. The more degenerate and base art thou,
I do applaud thy spirit, Valentine,
And think thee worthy of an empress' love.
I now beseech you, for your daughter's sake,
To grant one boon that I shall ask of you.
Duke. I grant it for thine own, whate'er it be.
Val. These banished men, that I have kept withal, Are men endued with worthy qualities;
Forgive them what they have committed here,
And let them be recalled from their exile:
They are reformed, civil, full of good,
And fit for great employment, worthy lord.
Duke. Thou hast prevailed; I pardon them, and thee:
Dispose of them, as thou know'st their deserts.
Val. And, as we walk along, I dare be bold
Duke. I think the boy hath grace in him; he
Val. I warrant you, my lord; more grace than boy.
1 Include is here used for conclude.
2 Triumphs are pageants.
Duke. What mean you by that saying?
Val. Please you, I'll tell you as we pass along,
In this play there is a strange mixture of knowledge and ignorance, of care and negligence. The versification is often excellent, the allusions are learned and just; but the author conveys his heroes by sea from one inland town to another in the same country; he places the emperor at Milan, and sends his young men to attend him, but never mentions him more; he makes Proteus, after an interview with Silvia, say he has only seen her picture; and, if we may credit the old copies, he has, by mistaking places, left his scenery inextricable. The reason of all this confusion seems to be, that he took his story from a novel, which he sometimes followed, and sometimes forsook, sometimes remembered, and sometimes forgot.
That this play is rightly attributed to Shakspeare, I have little doubt. If it be taken from him, to whom shall it be given? This question may be asked of all the disputed plays, except Titus Andronicus; and it will be found more credible, that Shakspeare might sometimes sink below his highest flights, than that any other should rise up to his lowest.
Johnson's general remarks on this play are just, except that part in which he arraigns the conduct of the poet, for making Proteus say he had only seen the picture of Silvia, when it appears that he had had a personal interview with her. This, however, is not a blunder of Shakspeare's, but a mistake of Johnson's, who considers the passage alluded to in a more literal sense than the author intended it. Sir Proteus, it is true, had seen Silvia for a few moments; but though he could form from thence some idea of her person, he was still unacquainted with her temper, manners, and the qualities of her mind. He therefore considers himself as having seen her picture only. The thought is just, and elegantly expressed. So, in The Scornful Lady, the elder Loveless says to her,
I was mad once, when I loved pictures ;
For what are shape and colors else, but pictures?