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BERTRAM, Count of Rousillon.
PAROLLES, a follower of Bertram.
Several young French Lords, that serve with Bertram in the Florentine war.
Steward, } Servants to the Countess of Rousillon.
Countess of Rousillon, Mother to Bertram.
HELENA, a Gentlewoman protected by the Countess.
DIANA, Daughter to the Widow.
MARIANA, S } Neighbors and Friends to the Widow.
Lords, attending on the King; Officers, Soldiers, &c., French and Florentine.
SCENE, partly in France, and partly in Tuscany.
1 Steevens says that we should write Lefeu and Paroles.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
SCENE 1. Rousillon. A Room in the Countess's Palace.
Enter BERTRAM, the Countess of Rousillon, HELENA, and LAFEU, in mourning.
Countess. 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 (O 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
1 The heirs of great fortunes were formerly the king's wards. This prerogative was a branch of the feudal law.
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. 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 languish
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.
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 approaches her heart, but the tyranny of her sorrows takes all livelihood 2 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. Laf. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the living.
1 We feel regret even in commending such qualities, joined with an evil disposition; they are traitors, because they give the possessors power over others; who, admiring such estimable qualities, are often betrayed by the malevolence of the possessors. Helena's virtues are the better because they are artless and open.
2 All appearance of life.
Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.1
Ber. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
Count. Be thou blessed Bertram! and succeed thy father
In manners, as in shape! Thy blood, and virtue,
Laf. He cannot want the best.
Count. Heaven bless him!-Farewell, Bertram. [Exit Countess.
Ber. The best wishes, that can be forged in your thoughts [To HELENA.] 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. [Exeunt BERTRAM and Lafeu. Hel. Ŏ, were that all!-I think not on my father, And these great tears 3 grace his remembrance more Than those I shed for him. What was he like? I have forgot him: my imagination Carries no favor in it, but Bertram's. I am undone; there is no living, none, If Bertram be away. It were all one,
That is, "if the living do not indulge grief, grief destroys itself by its
2 i. e. that may help thee with more and better qualifications.
3 That is, Helen's own tears, which were caused, in reality, by the departure of Bertram, though attributed by Lafeu and the countess to the loss of her father, and which, from this misapprehension of theirs, graced his memory more than those she actually shed for him.
That I should love a bright particular star,
One that goes with him: I love him for his sake,
Think him a great way fool, solely2 a coward;
That they take place, when virtue's steely bones.
Par. Save you, fair queen.
Hel. And you, monarch.
Hel. And no.
Par. Are you meditating on virginity?
Hel. Ay. You have some stain3 of soldier in you; let me ask you a question. Man is enemy to virginity; how may we barricado it against him?
Par. Keep him out.
Hel. But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant in the defence, yet is weak; unfold to us some warlike resistance.
Par. There is none; man, sitting down before you, will undermine you, and blow you up.
1 i. e. countenance.
2 i. e. altogether.
3 That is, some tincture, some little of the hue or color of a soldier.