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THE story of All's Well that Ends Well, or, as I suppose it to have been sometimes called, Love's Labour Wonne, is originally indeed the property of Boccace, but it came immediately to Shakspeare from Painter's Giletta of Narbon, in the first vol. of the Palace of Pleasure, 4to. 1566, p. 88. Farmer.
Shakspeare 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.
This comedy, I imagine, was written in 1606. See an Attempt to ascertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, vol. ii. Malone.
PERSONS REPRESENTED 1.
King of France.
tram in the Florentine War. Steward,
Servants to the Countess of Rousillon. Clown, A Page.
Countess of Rousillon, Mother to Bertram.
Lords attending on the King; Officers, Soldiers,
&c. French and Florentine.
SCENE, partly in France, and partly in Tuscany.
* The persons were first enumerated by Mr. Rowe.
Lafeu,] We should read-Lefeu. Steevens. 3 Parolles,] I suppose we should write this name, Paroles, i. e. a creature made up of empty words. Steevens.
4 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.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Rousillon. A Room in the Countess's Palace.
Enter BERTRAM, the Countess of Rousillon,
Helena, and LaFev, 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.
'- in WARD,] Under his particular care, as my guardian, till I come to age. It is now almost forgotten in England, th he heirs of great fortunes were the King's wards. Whether the same practice prevailed in France, it is of no great use to inquire, for Shakspeare 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 besides; but the supposition of the contrary furnished Shakspeare with a reason why the King compelled Rousillon to marry Helen.
TOLLET. The prerogative of a 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.