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in full the dialogue from which the first of the forecited passages is taken with the whole of the second scene in Act i. These seem to me at least as apt and telling examples as any, of the Poet's rawest and ripest styles so strangely mixed in this play; and the difference is here so clearly pronounced, that one must be dull indeed not to perceive it.
As regards the notion of Mr. Hunter before referred to, it is indeed true, as he argues, that the play twice bespeaks its present title; but both instances occur in just those parts which relish most of the Poet's later style. And the line in the epilogue, — “ All is well ended, if this suit be won," — may be fairly understood as intimating some connection between the two titles which the play is supposed to have borne.
The only known source from which the Poet could have borrowed any part of this play is a story in Boccaccio, entitled Giletta di Nerbona. In 1566 William Paynter published an English version of this tale in his Palace of Pleasure. Here it was, no doubt, that Shakespeare got his borrowed matter; and the following outline will show the nature and extent of his obligations.
Isnardo, Count of Rousillon, being sickly, kept in his house a physician named Gerardo of Nerbona. The Count had a son named Beltramo, and the physician a daughter named Giletta, who were brought up together. The Count dying, his son was left in the care of the King and sent to Paris. The physician also dying some while after, his daughter, who had loved the young Count so long that she knew not when her love began, sought occasion of going to Paris, that she might see him; but, being diligently looked to by her kinsfolk, because she was rich and had many suitors, she could not see her way clear. Now the King had a swelling on his breast, which through ill treatment was grown to a fistula; and, having tried all the best physicians and being only rendered worse by their efforts, he resolved to take no further counsel or help. Giletta, hearing of this, was very
glad, as it suggested an apt reason for visiting Paris, and offered a chance of compassing her secret and cherished wish. Arming herself with such knowledge in the healing art as she had gathered from her father, she rode to Paris and repaired to the King, praying him to show her his dis
He consenting, as soon as she saw it she told him that, if he pleased, she would within eight days make him whole. He asked how it was possible for her, being a young woman, to do that which the best physicians in the world could not; and, thanking her for her good-will, said he was resolved to try no more remedies. She begged him not to despise her knowledge because she was a young woman, assuring him that she ministered physic by the help of God, and with the cunning of Master Gerardo of Nerbona, who was her father. The King, hearing this, and thinking that peradventure she was sent of God, asked what might follow, if she caused him to break his resolution, and did not heal him. She said, “Let me be kept in what guard you list, and if I do not heal you let me be burnt; but, if I do, what recompense shall I have ?” He answered that, since she was a maiden, he would bestow her in marriage upon a gentleman of right good worship and estimation. To this she agreed, on condition that she might have such a husband as herself should ask, without presumption to any member of his family; which he readily granted. This done, she set about her task, and before the eight days were passed he was entirely well; whereupon he told her she deserved such a husband as herself should choose, and she declared her choice of Beltramo, saying she had loved him from her childhood. The King was very loth to grant him to her; but, because he would not break his promise, he had him called forth, and told him what had been done. The Count, thinking her stock unsuitable to his nobility, disdainfully said, “Will you, then, sir, give me a physician to wife?” The King pressing him to comply, he answered, “Sire, you may take from me all that I have, and give my person to whom you please, because I am your subject :
but I assure you I shall never be contented with that marriage.” To which he replied, “Well, you shall have her, for the maiden is fair and wise, and loveth you entirely; and verily you shall lead a more joyful life with her than with a lady of a greater House”; whereupon the Count held his peace. The marriage over, the Count asked leave to go home, having settled beforehand what he would do. Knowing that the Florentines and the Senois were at war, he was no sooner on horseback than he stole off to Tuscany, meaning to side with the Florentines; by whom being honorably received and made a captain, he continued a long time in their service.
His wife, hoping by her well-doing to win his heart, returned home, where, finding all things spoiled and disordered by reason of his absence, she like a sage lady carefully put them in order, making all his people very glad of her presence and loving to her person. Having done this, she sent word thereof to the Count by two knights, adding that, if she were the cause of his forsaking home, he had but to let her know it, and she, to do him pleasure, would depart thence. Now he had a ring which he greatly loved, and kept very carefully, and never took off his finger, for a certain virtue which he knew it had. When the knights came, he said to them churlishly, “Let her do what she list; for I purpose to dwell with her when she shall have this ring on her finger, and a son of mine in her arms. The knights, after trying in vain to change his purpose, returned to the lady, and told his answer; at which she was very sorrowful, and bethought herself a good while how she might accomplish those two things. She then called together the noblest of the country, and told them what she had done to win her husband's love; that she was loth he should dwell in perpetual exile on her account; and therefore would spend the rest of her life in pilgrimages and devotion; praying them to let him know she had left, with a purpose never to return. Then, taking with her a maid and one of her kinsmen, she set out in the habit of a
pilgrim, well furnished with silver and jewels, told no one whither she was going, and rested not till she came to Florence. She put up at the house of a poor widow; and the next day, seeing her husband pass by on horseback, she asked who he was. The widow told her this, and also that he was marvellously in love with a neighbour of hers, a gentlewoman who was poor, but of right honest life and report, and dwelt with her mother, a wise and honest lady. After hearing this, she was not long in deciding what to do. Going secretly to the house, and getting a private interview with the mother, she told her whole story, and how she hoped to thrive in her undertaking, if the mother and daughter would lend their aid. In recompense she proposed to give the daughter a handsome marriage portion; and the mother replied, “Madam, tell me wherein I may do you service; if it be honest, I will gladly perform it; and, that being done, do as it shall please you." So an arrangement was made, that the daughter should encourage the Count, and signify her readiness to grant his wish, provided he would first send her the ring he prized so highly, as a token of his love. Proceeding with great subtlety as she was instructed, the daughter soon got the ring; and at the time fixed for the meeting the Countess supplied her place; the result of which was, that she became the mother of two fine boys, and so was prepared to claim her dues as a wife upon the seemingly-impossible terms which the Count himself had proposed.
Meanwhile her husband, hearing of her departure, had returned to his country. In due time the Countess also took her journey homeward, and arrived at Montpellier, where, hearing that the Count was about to have a great party at his house, she determined to go thither in her pilgrim's weeds. Just as they were on the point of sitting down to the table, she came to the place where her husband was, and fell at his feet weeping, and said, “My lord, I am thy poor unfortunate wife, who, that thou mightest return and dwell in thy house, have been a great while
begging about the world. Therefore I now beseech thee to observe the conditions which the two knights that I sent to thee did command me to do; for behold, here in my arms, not only one son of thine, but twain, and likewise the ring : it is now time, if thou keep promise, that I should be received as thy wife.” The Count knew the ring, and the children also, they were so like him, and desired her to rehearse in order how all these things came about. When she had told her story, he knew it to be true; and, perceiving her constant mind and good wit, and the two fair young boys, to keep his promise, and to please his people, and the ladies that made suit to him, he caused her to rise up, and embraced and kissed her, and from that day forth loved and honoured her as his wife.
From this sketch it will be seen that the Poet anglicized Beltramo into Bertram, changed Giletta to Helena, and closely followed Boccaccio in the main features of the plot so far as regards these persons and the widow and her daughter. Beyond this, the novel yields no hints towards the play, while the latter has several judicious departures from the matter of the former. Giletta is rich, and has a fine establishment of her own; which so far reduces the social inequality between her and the Count: Helena is poor and dependent, so that she has nothing to stand upon but her nobility of nature and merit. Beltramo, again, has no thought of going to Florence till after his compelled marriage; so that his going to the war is not from
free stirring of virtue in him, but purely to escape the presence of a wife that has been forced upon him. With Bertram, the unwelcome marriage comes in only as an additional spur to the execution of a purpose already formed. Before Helena makes her appearance at the Court, his spirit is in revolt against the command which would make him
“stay here the forehorse to a smock,