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ALL'S WELL that ENDS WELL'.
ACTI. SCENE I.
The Countess of Roufillon's boufe in France.
Enter Bertram, the Countess of Roufillon, Helena, and Lafeu, all in black.
N delivering my fon from me, I bury a fecond hufband.
Ber. And I, in going, madam, weep o'er my father's death anew: but I must attend his majesty's
The ftory of All's Well that Ends Well, or, as I fuppofe it to have been fometimes called, Love's Labour Wonne, is originally indeed the property of Boccace, but it came immediately to Shakefpeare from Painter's Gilletta of Narbon, in the first vol. of the Palace of Pleafure, 4°, 1598, p. 282. FARMER.
Shakespeare is indebted to the novel only for a few leading circumftances in the graver parts of the piece. The comic bufinefs appears to be entirely of his own formation. STEEVENS.
In DELIVERING my fon from me--] To deliver from, in the fenfe of giving up, is not English. Shakespeare wrote, in D15SEVERING my fon from me-The following words, too,- -I bury a fecond bufbanddemand this reading. For to diffever implies a violent divorce; and therefore might be compared to the burying a bufband; which delivering does not. WARE.
Of this change I fee no need: the prefent reading is clear, and, perhaps, as proper as that which the great commentator would fubftitute; for the king diffevers her fon from her, fhe only delivers him, JOHNSON.
command, to whom I am now 3 in ward, evermore in fubjection.
Laf. You fhall find of the king a husband, madam; you, fir, a father. He, that fo generally is at all times good, muft of neceffity hold his virtue to you; 4 whose worthinefs would ftir it up where it wanted, rather than flack it where there is fuch abundance.
Count. What hope is there of his majesty's amendment?
Laf. He hath abandon'd his physicians, madam, under whose practices he hath perfecuted time with hope; and finds no other advantage in the process, but only the lofing of hope by time.
Count. This young gentlewoman had a father, (O, that bad! how fad a paffage 'tis !) whofe skill
3 In ward.] Under his particular care, as my guardian, till I come to age. It is now almoft 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 ufe to enquire, for Shakespeare gives to all nations the manners of England.
4 whofe worthiness would stir it up where it wanted, rather than lack it where there is fuch abundance.] An oppofition of terms is visibly designed in this fentence; tho' the oppofition is not so vifible, as the terms now ftand. Wanted and abundance are the oppofites to one another; but how is lack a contrast to stir up? The addition of a fingle letter gives it, and the very fenfe requires it. Read flack it. WARBURTON.
"This young gentlewoman had a father (O, that had! bow fad a FASSAGE is! Lafeu was fpeaking of the king's defperate condition which makes the countefs recall to mind the deceafed Gerard de Narbon, who, fhe thinks could haye cured him. But in ufing the word bad, which implied his death, the flops in the middle of her fentence, and makes a reflection upon it, which, according to the prefent reading, is unintelligible. We muft therefore believe Shakespeare wrote (O that had! how fad a PRESAGE 'tis) i e. a prefage that the king muft now expect no cure, fince fo fkilful a person was himself forced to fubmit to a malignant diftemper. WARBURTON.
was almoft as great as his honefty; had it stretch'd fo far, it would have made nature immortal, and death fhould 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, madam?
Count. He was famous, fir, in his profeffion, and it was his great right to be fo: 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 liv'd ftill, if knowledge could have been fet up against mortality. Ber. What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of?
Laf. A fiftula, my lord.
Ber. I heard not of it before.
Laf. I would, it were not notorious.-Was this gentlewoman the daughter of Gerard de Narbon ?
Count. His fole child, my lord; and bequeathed to my overlooking. I have thofe hopes of her good, that her education promifes: her difpofition fhe in
This emendation is ingenious, perhaps preferable to the prefent reading, yet fince passage may be fairly enough explained, I have left it in the text. Paffage is any thing that passes, so we now fay, a paffage of an authour, and we faid about a century ago, the paffages of a reign. When the countess mentions Helena's lofs of a father, the recollects her own lofs of a husband, and tops to obferve how heavily that word had paffes through her mind. JOHNSON. Thus Shakespear himself. See The Comedy of Errors, act iii. fc. I.
"Now in the stirring passage of the day.
So in The Gamefter by Shirley, 1637. "I'll not be witness "of your passages myfelf." i, e. of what paffes between you,
herits, which makes fair gifts fairer for where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there commendations go with pity, they are virtues and traitors.
• where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there com mendations go with pity; they are virtues and traitors 100; in her they are the better for THEIR fimpleness; fhe derives her bonesty, and atchieves her goodness.] This obfcure encomium is made still more obfcure by a flight corruption of the text. Let us explain the paffage as it lies. By virtuous qualities are meant qualities of good breeding and erudition; in the fame fenfe that the Italians fay, qualità virtuofa; and not moral ones. On this account it is, the fays, that, in an ill mind, thefe virtuous qualities are virtues and traitors 100: 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 countefs, in her they are the better for PHEIR fimpleness. But fimpleness is the fame with what is called bonefly, immediately after; which cannot be predicated of the qualities of education. We must certainly read
and then the sentence is properly concluded. The countess had faid, that virtuous qualities are the worfe for an unclean mind, but concludes that Helen's are the better for her fimpleness, i. e. her clean, pure mind. She then fums up the character, she had before given in detail, in thefe words, fhe derives her bonefly, and atchieves her goodness, i. e. fhe derives her bonefty, her fimpleness, her moral character, from her father and her ancestors; but the atchieves or wins her goodness, her virtue, or her qualities of good breeding and erudition, by her own pains and labour. WARBURTON.
This is likewife a plaufible but unneceffary alteration. Her wirtues are the better for their fimpleness, that is, her excellencies are the better because they are artlefs and open, without fraud, without defign. The learned commentator has well explained virtues, but has not, I think, reached the force of the word iraitors, and therefore has not fhewn the full extent of Shakespeare's mafterly obfervation. Virtues in an unclean mind are virtues and traitors too. Eftimable and ufeful qualities, joined with evil difpofition, give that evil difpofition power over others, who, by admiring the virtue, are betrayed to the malevolence. The Tatler, mentioning the harpers of his time, obferves, that fome of them are men of fuch elegance and knowledge, that a young man who falls into their away is betrayed as much by his judgment as his paffions.
t00; in her they are the better for their fimpleness; the derives her honesty, and atchieves her goodness. Laf. Your commendations, madam, get from her
Count. 'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise in. The remembrance of her father never ap! proaches her heart, but the tyranny of her forrows takes all livelihood from her cheek. No more of this, Helena, go to, no more; left it be rather thought you affect a forrow, than to have.
Hel. I do affect a forrow, indeed, but I have it too, Laf. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, exceffive grief the enemy to the living.
Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it foon mortal.
Ber. Madam, I defire your holy wishes.
Laf. How understand we that?
Count. Be thou bleft, Bertram, and fucceed thy father
In manners as in fhape! thy blood, and virtue
7 all livelihood] Means all appearance of life.
If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it foon mortal.] This feems very obfcure; but the addition of a negative perfectly difpels all the mift. If the living be not enemy, &c. exceffive grief is an enemy to the living, fays Lafeu: Yes, replies the countefs; and if the living be not enemy to the grief, [i. e. Atrive to conquer it,] the excefs makes it foon mortal.
This emendation I had once admitted into the text, but reftored the old reading, because I think it capable of an eafy explication. Lafeu fays, exceffive grief is the enemy of the living the countefs replies, If the living be an enemy to grief, the excess foon makes it mortal: that is, if the living do not indulge grief, grief defireys itself by its own excess. By the word mortal I understand that which dies, and Dr. Warburton, that which destroys. I think that my interpretation gives a fentence more acute and more refined. Let the reader judge. JOHNSON.