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ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
Of this play there is no edition earlier than the first folio. Mr. Malone supposes it to have been written in the year 1606; but the many passages of rhyme scattered through the play seem to speak it an earlier production. Meres, in 1598, mentioned a play of our author's called, Love's Lubour Wonne, an appellation which very accurately applies to this, but to no other of his plays ; and its date may be perhaps assigned a year or two earlier.
The title All's Well that ends Well, is one of Camden's proverbial sentences.
The story was originally taken from Boccacio, but came immediately to Shakspeare from Painter's Giletta of Narbon, in the first vol. of the Palace of Pleasure, 4to. 1566, p. 88. To the novel, however, Shakspeare is only indebted for a few leading circumstances in the graver parts of the piece. The comic business appears to be entirely of his own formation.'
King of France.
young French lords, that serve with Bertram in the
servants to the countess of Rousillon.
"}neighbours and friends to the Widow. MARIANA,
Lords, attending on the King; Officers, Soldiers, &c.
French and Florentine.
Scene, partly in France and partly in Tuscany. a The persons were first enumerated by Mr. Rowe. b Lafeu,] We should read-Lefeu.--Steevens.
c Parolles,] I suppose we should write this name-Paroles, i. e. a creature made up of empty words.-STEEVENS.
a Violenta only enters once, and then she neither speaks, nor is spoken to. This name appears to be borrowed from an old metrical history, entitled Didaco and Violenta, 1576.-STEEVENS.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
SCENE I.-Rousillon. A Room in the Countess's Palace.
Enter Bertram, the Countess of Rousillon, HELENA,
and Lafeu, in mourning. Count. In delivering my son from me, I bury a second husband.
Ber. And I, in going, madam, weep o'er my father's death anew : but I must attend his majesty's command, to whom I am now in ward, evermore in subjection.
Laf. You shall find of the king a husband, madam ;you, sir, a father: He that so generally is at all times good, must of necessity hold his virtue to you : whose worthiness would stir it up where it wanted, rather than lack it where there is such abundance.
Count. What hope is there of his majesty's amendment?
Laf. He hath abandoned his physicians, madam; under whose practices he hath persecuted time with hope ; and finds no other advantage in the process but only the losing of hope by time.
Count. This young gentlewoman had a father, (0, that had ! how sad a passage 'tis !) whose skill was almost as great as his honesty; had it stretched so far, would have made nature immortal, and death should have play for lack of work. 'Would, for the king's saķe he were living! I think it would be the death of the king's disease. Laf. How called you the man you speak of, madam ?
in ward,) Under his particular care, as my guardian, till I come to age. It is now almost forgotten in England, that the heirs of great fortunes were the king's wurds. And as this prerogative was a part of feudal law, it may as well be supposed to be incorporated with the constitution of France as it was with that of England.--Johnson and Sir J. Hawkins.
Count. He was famous, sir, in his profession, and it was his great right to be so : Gerard de Narbon.
Laf. He was excellent, indeed, madam; the king very lately spoke of him, admiringly, and mourningly: he was skilful enough to have lived still, if knowledge could be set up against mortality.
Ber. What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of ?
Laf. I would it were not notorious.-Was this gentlewoman the daughter of Gerard de Narbon ?
Count. His sole child, my lord ; and bequeathed to my overlooking. I have those hopes of her good, that her education promises; her dispositions she inherits, which make fair gifts fairer; for where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there commendations go with pity, they are virtues and traitors too; in her they are the better for their simpleness; she derives her honesty, and achieves her goodness.
Laf. Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.
Count. 'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise in. The remembrance of her father never approaches her heart, but the tyranny of her sorrows takes all livelihoodd from her cheek. No more of this, Helena, go to, no more; lest it be rather thought you affect a sorrow, than to have.
Hel. I do affect a sorrow, indeed, but I have it too.
Laf. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the living.
b What is it the king languishes of ?] The king of France's disorder is thus described in Painter's translation from Boccacio's novel, on which this play is founded : “She heard by report that the French king had a swelling upon his breast, which by reason of ill cure was grown into a fistula,” &c.--STEEVENS.
virtuous qualities,] By virtuous qualities are meant qualities of good breeding and erudition, in the same sense that the Italians say, qualità virtuosa ; and not moral ones. Shakspeare observes that, virtues in an unclean mind are virtues and traitors too ; i. e. estimable and useful qualities, joined with an evil disposition, give that evil disposition power over others, who, by admiring the virtue, are betrayed to the malevolence. The Tatler, mentioning the sharpers of his time, observes, that some of them are even of such elegance and knowledge that a young man who falls into their way, is betrayed as much by his judgment as his passions.—WARBURTON and Johnson.
- all livelihood-] i. e. All appearance of life. e I do affect a sorrow, indeed, but I have it too.) Her affected sorrow was for the death of her father; her real grief for the departure of Bertram.