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* 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 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 circumftances in the graver parts of the piece. The comic bufiness appears to be entirely of his own formation. STEEVENS.
This comedy, I imagine, was written in 1598. See An Attempt to afcertain the Order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. I. MALONE.
King of France.
Duke of Florence.
Bertram, Count of Roufillon.
Lafeu, an old Lord.
Parolles, a follower of Bertram.
Several young French Lords, that ferve with Bertram in the Florentine war.
Servants to the Countess of Roufillon.
Countess of Roufillon, mother to Bertram.
Diana, daughter to the widow,
}Neighbours and friends to the widow.
Lords, attending on the King; Officers, Soldiers, &c. French and Florentine.
SCENE, partly in France, and partly in Tuscany.
2 The perfons were firft enumerated by Mr. Rowe.
3 Lafu, We fhould read Lefeu
4 Parles I fuppofe we should write this name-Paroles, i. e. a creature made up of empty words. STEEVENS.
5 Violena only enters once, and then fhe neither speaks, nor is spoken This name appears to be borrowed from an old metrical history, entitled Didaco and Violenta, 1576. STEEVENS.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Roufillon. A Room in the Countefs's Palace.
Enter BERTRAM, the Countess of Roufillon, HELENA, and LAFEU, in mourning.
Count. In 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 majefty's command, to whom I am now 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; whofe worthinefs would ftir it up where it wanted, rather than lack it where there is fuch abundance.
Count. What hope is there of his majesty's amendment? Laf. He hath abandon'd his phyficians, madam; under whofe practices he hath perfecuted time with hope; and finds no other advantage in the procefs, but only the lofing of hope by time.
2 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 wards. Whether the fame practice prevailed in France, it is of no great ufe to enquire, for Shakspeare gives to all nations the manner of England. JOHNSON.
Howell's fifteenth letter acquaints us that the province of Normandy was fubject to wardships, and no other part of France befides; but the fuppofition of the contrary furnished Shakspeare with a reason why the King compelled Roufillon to marry Helen. TOLLET.
The prerogative of a wardship is a branch of the feud il law, and may as well be fuppofed to be incorporated with the conftitution of France, as it was with that of England, till the reign of Charles II.
SIR J. HAWKIN6»
Count. This young gentlewoman had a father, (0, that had! how fad a paffage 'tis !3) whofe skill was almost as great as his honefty; had it ftretch'd so far, would have made nature immortal, and death should have play 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 fpoke of him, admiringly, and mourningly: he was fkilful enough to have liv'd ftill, if knowledge could be 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 promises: her difpofitions fhe inherits, which make fair gifts fairer; for where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there commendations go with pity, they are vir
3 Imitated from the Heautontimorumenos of Terence, (then translated,) where Menedemus fays:
Filium unicum adolefcentulum
"Habeo. Ah, quid dixi? babere me? imo
"Nunc habeam necne incertum eft." BLACKSTONE. Paffage is any thing that paffes. So we now fay, a passage of an author, and we faid about a century ago, the passages of a reign. When the countess mentions Helena's lofs of a father, the recollects her own lofs of a husband, and stops to obferve how heavily that word had paffes through her mind. JOHNSON.
4 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, 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. WARBURTON.
Virtue, and virtuous, as I am told, ftill keep this fignification in the north, and mean ingenuity and ingenious. STEEVENS.