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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 volume 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.
This play has many delightful scenes, though not sufficiently probable, and some happy characters, though not new, nor produced by any deep knowledge of human nature. Parolles is a boaster and a coward, such as has always been the sport of the stage, but perhaps never raised more laughter or contempt than in the hands of Shakspeare.
I cannot reconcile my heart to Bertram; a man noble without generosity, and young without truth; who marries Helen as a coward, and leaves her as a profligate when she is dead by his unkindness, sneaks home to a second marriage, is accused by a woman whom he has wronged, defends himself by falsehood, and is dismissed to happiness.
The story of Bertram and Diana had been told before of Mariana and Angelo, and, to confess the truth, scarcely merited to be heard a second time. JOHNSON.
King of France.
Duke of Florence.
BERTRAM, Count of Rousillon.
LAFEU, an old lord.
PAROLLES, a follower of Bertram.
Several young French Lords, that serve with Bertram
in the Florentine war.
servan to the countess of Rousillon.
Countess of Rousillon, mother to Bertram.
HELENA, a gentlewoman, protected by the countess. An old Widow of Florence.
DIANA, daughter to the widow.
VIOLENTA, 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.
The persons were first enumerated by Rowe.
I suppose we should write this name-Paroles; i. e. a creature made up of empty words.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
SCENE 1.-Rousilion. A Room in the Countess's Palace. Enter BERTRAM, the Countess of Rousillon, HELENA, and LAFEU, in mourning.
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 sake, 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? 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:  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 same practice prevailed in France, it is of no great use to inquire, for Shakspeare gives to all nations the manners of England. JOHNS.
9 VOL. III.
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. A fistula, 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 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.2
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 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.3 Laf. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the living.
 By virtuous qualities are meant qualities of good breeding and erudition; on this account it is, she says, 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.
Her virtues are the better for their simpleness, that is, her excellencies are the better because they are artless and open, without fraud, without design. The learned commentator has well explained virtues, but has not, I think reached the force of the word traitors, and therefore has not shown the full extent of Shakspeare's masterly observation Virtues in an unclean mind are virtues and traitors too. 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 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. JOHNS.
 Helena has, I believe, a meaning here, that she does not wish should be understood by the countess. Her affected sorrow was for the death of her father; her real grief for the lowness of her situation, which she feared would for ever be a bar to her union with her beloved Bertram. Her own words afterwards fully support this interpretation:
I think not on my father ;-
"I have forgot him; my imagination
"I am undone."' MAL.
The line should be particularly attended to, as it tends to explain some subsequent passages which have hitherto been misunderstood. M.MASON.
Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.
Ber. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
Laf. How understand we that?
Count. Be thou blest, Bertram! and succeed thy father In manners, as in shape! thy blood, and virtue, Contend for empire in thee; and thy goodness Share with thy birth-right! Love all, trust a few, Do wrong to none: be able for thine enemy Rather in power, than use; and keep thy friend Under thy own life's key: be check'd for silence, But never tax'd for speech. What heaven more will, That thee may furnish, and my prayers pluck down, Fall on thy head! Farewell.—My lord,
'Tis an unseason'd courtier; good my lord, Advise him.
Laf. He cannot want the best
That shall attend his love.
Count. Heaven bless him!-Farewell, Bertram. [Ex. Ber. [To HEL.] The best wishes that can be forged in your thoughts, be servants to you! Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her. Laf. Farewell, pretty lady: You must hold the credit of your father. [Exe. BER. and LAF.
Hel. O, were that all !—I think not on my father;
Must die for love. 'Twas pretty, though a plague,
His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls,
In our heart's table; heart, too capable
Of every line and trick4 of his sweet favour:
 Trick is an expression taken from drawing, and is so explained in King John, Act I. sc. i. The present instance explains itself:
to sit and draw