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KING of France.
Bertram, Count of Roufillon.
Parolles, a parafitical follower of Bertram; a coward, but vain, and a great pretender to valour.
Several young French Lords, that ferve with Bertram in
the Florentine war.
Servants to the Countess of Roufillon.
Countess of Roufillon, mother to Bertram.
Helena, daughter to Gerard de Narbon, a famous physician, fome time fince dead.
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.
SCENE lies partly in France; and, partly in Tuscany.
ALL'S Well, that ENDS Well.
ACT I. SCENE I.
The Countess of Roufillon's House in France.
Enter Bertram, the Countess of Roufillon, Helena, and Lafeu, all in Mourning.
N diffevering my fon from me, I bury a fecond husband.
Ber. And I in going, Madam, weep o'er my father's death anew; but I muit 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, Sir, a father. He, that fo generally is at all times good, muft of neceffity hold his virtue to
1 In DELIVERING my fon from me -] To deliver from, in the fenfe of giving up, is not English. Shakespear wrote, in DISSEVERING my fon from me — The following Words, too, I bury a fecond husband· demand this reading. For to diffever implies a violent divorce; and therefore might be compared to the burying a husband; which, delivering does not.
you; 2 whofe worthinefs would ftir it up where it wanted, rather than flack it where there is fuch abundance.
Count. What hope is there of his Majefty'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.
Count. This young gentlewoman had a father, (O, that bad! how fad a Prefage 'tis!) whofe skill was almost as great as his honefty; had it ftretch'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, Sir, 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 :
2 whofe worthiness would fir it up where it wanted, rather than lack it where there is fuch abundance.] An Oppofition of Terms is vifibly defign'd in this fentence; tho' the Oppofition is not fo vifible, as the Terms now ftand. Wanted and Abundance are the Oppofites to one another; but how is lack a Contrast to fir up? The Addition of a fingle Letter gives it, and the very Senfe requires it. Read flack it.
3 This young gentlewoman had a father (0, that had! bow fad a PASSAGE 'tis!] 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 have cured him. But in ufing the word had, which implied his death, she stops in the middle of her fentence, and makes a reflexion upon it, which, according to the prefent reading, is unintelligible. We must therefore believe Shakespear wrote (O that had! how fad a PRESACE 'tis) i. e. a Prefage that the King muft now expect no cure, fince fo skilful a Perfon was himself forced to fubmit to a malignant distemper.
he was skilful enough to have liv'd still, 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 promifes her; difpofition fhe inherits, which makes 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 her fimpleness; fhe derives her honefty, and atchieves her goodness.
4 where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there, commendations go with pity; they are Virtues and Traitors too: in ber they are the better for THEIR fimpleness; fhe derives her bonefly, and atchieves her goodness.] This obfcure encomium is made ftill 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, 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 Countefs, in her they are the better for THEIR fimpleness. But fimplenefs 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 fentence 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, fhe had before given in detail, in these words, he derives her bonefly, and atchieves ber goodness, i. e. She derives her bonefly, her fimpleness, her moral Character, from her Father and Ancestors: But the atchieves or wins her goodness, her virtue, or her qualities of goodbreeding and erudition, by her own pains and labour.
Laf. Your commendations, Madam, get from her
Count. Tis the best brine a maiden can feafon her praise in. The remembrance of her father never approaches 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 it.
Hel. I do affect a forrow, indeed, but I have it
Laf. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, exceffive grief the enemy to the living.
Count. If the living be not enemy to the grief, the excefs makes it foon mortal.
Ber. Madam, I defire your holy wishes.
Count. Be thou bleft, Bertram, and fucceed thy
In manners as in fhape! thy blood and virtue
Laf. He cannot want the best, That fhall attend his love.
5 If the living be enemy to the grief, the excels 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. ftrive to conquer it,] the excefs makes it foon mortal.