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ALL's Well that ENDS WELL4.
ACT 1. SCEN E I.
The Countess of Rousillon's house in France. Enter Bertram, the Countess of Rousillon, Helena, and
Lafeu, all in black.
Count. S 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
4 The story of All's Well that Ends Well, or, as I suppose it to have been fometimes called, Love's Labour Wonne, is originally indeed the property of Boccace, but it came immediately to Shake fpeare from Painter's Gilletta of Narbon, in the first vol. of the Palace of Pleasure; 4to, 1566, p. 88. FARMER.
Shakespeare is indebted to the novel only for a few leading circumstances in the graver parts of the piece. The comic business appears to be entirely of his own formation. Steevens.
5 In delivering my son from me,-) To deliver from, in the sense of giving up, is not English. Shakespeare wrote, in dissevering my fon from me The following words, too, I bury a second husband demand this reading. For to dijever implies a violent divorce; and therefore might be compared to the brrying á husband; which delivering does not. WARBURTON.
Of this change I see no need: the present reading is clear, and, perhaps, as proper as that which the great commentator would substitute; the king disevers her fon from her, the only delivers him, JOHNSON.
command, to whom I am now in ward, evermore in subjection.
Laf. You shall find of the king a husband, madam;-you, fir, a father : He that so generally is at all times good, muft of neceffity 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 abandon'd 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, (O, that had! how. sad a passage 'tis !), whose skill
-in ward, -] Under his particular care, as my guar. dian, till I come to age. It is now almost forgotten in England, that the heirs of great fortunes were the king's wards. Whether the fame practice prevailed in France, it is of no great use to en quire, for Shakespeare gives to all nations the manners of England.
JOHNSON. Howell's fifteenth letter acquaints us that the province of Normandy was subject to wardships, and no other part of France befides; but the supposition of the contrary furnished Shakespeare with a reason why the king compelled Roufillon to marry Helen.
TOLLET. in ward, -] The prerogative of wardship is a branch of the feudal law, and may as well be supposed to be incorporated with the constitution of France, as it was with that of England, till the reign of Charles II. SIR J. HAWKINS.
whose worthinefs would fir it up where it wanted, rather than lack it where there is such abundance.] An opposition of terms is visibly designed in this sentence; tho' the opposition is not so vifible, as the terms now stand. Wanted and abundance are the oppofites to one another; but how is lack a contrast to ftir up! The addition of a single letter gives it, and the very sense requires it. Read Nack it. WARBURTON.
8 This young gentlewoman had a father (O, that had! how fad a paffage 'tis !] Lafeu was speaking of the king's desperate condition: which makes the counters recall to mind the deceased Ge. rard de Narbon, who, she thinks could have cured him. But in
was almost as great as his honefty; had it stretch'd fo far, it would have made nature immortal, and death should have play'd for lack of work. 'Would, for the king's fake, he were living! I think, it would be the death of the king's disease.
Laf. How call’d you the man you speak of, ma-dam
Count. He was famous, fir, 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 mourn
using the word had, which implied his death, she stops in the middle of her sentence, and makes a reflection upon it, which, according to the present reading, is unintelligible. We must therefore believe Shakespeare wrote (o that had ! how fad a presage 'tis) i. e. a presage that the king must now expect no cure, since so skil. ful a person was himself forced to submit to a malignant distemper.
WAR EUR TON. This emendation is ingenious, perhaps preferable to the present reading, yet since pasage may be fairly enough explained, I have left it in the text. Pasage is any thing that passes, so we now say, a pasage of an author, and we said about a century ago, the passages of a reign. When the countess mentions Helena's loss of a father, she recollects her own loss of a husband, and stops to observe how heavily that word had passes through her mind.
JOHNSON. Thus Shakespeare himself. See The Comedy of Errors, act III. sc.i
* Now in the stirring palage of the day.” So, in The Gamefter, by Shirley, 1637: "I'll not be witness of
your pallages myself." }, e. of what passes between you. Again, in A Woman's a Weathercock, 1612:
never lov'd these prying listening men " That ask of other's states and pasages.' Again :
mers " I knew the passages 'twixt her and Scudamore," Again, in the Dumb Knight, 1633 :
have beheid “ 'Your vile and most lascivious pasages." Again, in the English Intelligencer, a tragi-comedy, 1641: "—two philosophers that jeer and weep at the pallages of the world."
ingly: he was skilful enough to have liv'd still, if knowledge could have been set up against mortality,
Ber. What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of
Laf. A fistula, my lord.
Laf. I would, it were not notorious. -Was this gentlewoınan 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 makes fair gifts fairer : for' where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there commendations go with pity, they are virtues and traitors
9 where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there commendations with pity, they are virtues and traitors too ; in her they are the better for their fimpleness ; she derives her honesty, and atchieves her goodness.] This obscure encomium is made ftill more obscure by a slight corruption of the text. Let us explain the pafsage as it lies. By virtuous qualities are meant qualities of good breeding and erudition; in the fame sense that the Italians say, qualità virtuosa; and not moral ones. On this account it is, the fays, that, in an ill mind, these virtuous qualities are virtues and traitors too: i. e. the advantages of education enable an ill mind to go further in wickedness than it could have done without them. But, fays the countess, in her they are the better for their fimpleness. But simpleness is the same with what is called honesty, immediately after; which cannot be predicated of the qualities of education. We muit certainly read -- HER fimpleness, and then the sentence is properly concluded. The countess had faid, that virtuous qualities are the worse for an unclean mind, but concludes that Helen's are the better for her fimpleness, i. e. her clean, pure mind. She then sums up the character, she had before given in detail, in these words, she derives her honesty, and atchieves her goodness, i.e. The derives her honefly, her simpleness, her moral character, from her father and her ancestors; but the archieves or wins her goodness, her virtue, or her qualities of good breeding and erudition, by her own pains and labour.' WAR BURTON.
This is likewise a plaufible but unnecessary alteration. Her virtues are the better for their fimpleness, that is, her excellencies are the better because they are artless and open, without fraud, withbut defign. The learned commentator has well explained virtues,
too; in her they are the better for their simpleness; The derives her honesty, and archieves 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 livelihood from her cheek. No inore of this, Helena, go to, no more; left it be rather thought you affect a sorrow, than to have.
Hel. I do affect a forrow, indeed, but I have it too. Laf. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead,
ive grief the enemy to the living. Count. ? If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.
but has not, I think, reached the force of the word traitors, and therefore has not shewn the full extent of Shakespeare's masterly observation. Virtues in an unclean mind are virtues and traitors too, Eftimable and useful qualities, joined with 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 men of such elegance and knowledge, that a young man who falls into their way, is betrayed as much by his judgment as his passions.
Johnson. Virtue, and virtuous, as I am told, still keep this fignification in the north, and mean ingenuity and ingenious.
Of this sense perhaps an instance occurs in the eighth book of Chapman's Verfion of the Iliad:
" Then will I to Olympus' top our vertuous engine bind,
“ And by it every thing shall hang, &c." Again, in Marlowe's Tamvurlaine, p. 1. 1590:
“ If these had made one poem's period,
“ Which into words no vertue can digest.”. STEEVENS.
2 If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.] This feeins very obscure ; but the addition of a negative perfectly dispels all the mist. If the living be not enemy, &c. excellive grief is an enemy to the living, says Lateu: Yes, replies the