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Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth,
Pet. Come, Kate, we'll to bed. —
[To LUCENTIO. And, being a winner, God give you good night.
[Exeunt PETRUCHIO and Kath. Hor. Now go thy ways, thou hast tam'd a curst
shrew. Luc. 'Tis a wonder, by your leave, she will be tam'd
? Then vail your stomachs,] i. e. lower or abate your pride.
- though you hit the white ;] To “hit the white” is a phrase borrowed from archery ; the white being the centre of the target.
ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL. “ All's Well that Ends Well” was first printed in the folio of 1623, and occupies twenty-five pages, viz. from p. 230 to p. 254 inclusive, in the division of “ Comedies." It fills the same space and place in the three later folios.
The most interesting question in connexion with “ All's Well that Ends Well ” is, whether it was originally called “Love's Labour's Won?” If it were, we may be sure that it was written before 1598; because in that year, and under the title of “ Love Labours Wonne,' it is included by Francis Meres in the list of Shakespeare's plays introduced into his Palladis Tamia.
It was the opinion of Coleridge, an opinion which he first delivered in 1813, and again in 1818, though it is not found in his “ Literary Remains," that “ All's Well that Ends Well," as it has come down to us, was written at two different, and rather distant periods of the poet's life. He pointed out very clearly two distinct styles, not only of thought, but of expression; and Professor Tieck, at a later date, adopted and enforced the same belief. So far we are disposed to agree with Tieck; but when he adds, that some passages in “ All's Well that Ends Well," which it is difficult to understand and explain, are relics of the first draught of the play, we do not concur, because they are chiefly to be discovered in that portion of the drama which affords evidence of riper thought, and of a more involved and constrained mode of writing. Surely those parts which reminded Tieck, as he states, of “Venus and Adonis,” are to be placed among the earlier efforts of Shakespeare. There can be little doubt, however, that Coleridge and Tieck are right in their conclusion, that “All's Well that Ends Well,” which was printed for the first time in the folio of 1623, contains indications of the workings of Shakespeare's mind, and specimens of his composition at two separate dates of his career.
It has been a point recently controverted, whether the “ Love Labours Won” of Meres were the same piece as “All's Well that Ends Well.” The supposition that they were identical was first promulgated by Dr. Farmer, in 1767, in his " Essay on the Learning of Shakespeare.” On the other hand, the Rev. Joseph Hunter, in his “ Disquisition on the Tempest," 8vo. 1839, has contended that by “Love Labours Won” Meres meant “ The Tempest,” and that it originally bore “Love Labours Won" as its second title. I do not think that Mr. Hunter, with all his acuteness and learning, has made out his case satisfactorily; and in our Introduction to “ The Tempest,” some reasons will be found for assigning that play to the year 1610, or 1611. Mr. Hunter argues that “ The Tempest,” even more than “ All's Well that Ends Well,” deserves the significant name of “Love Labours Won;" and he certainly is successful in showing, that “ All's Well that Ends Well” bespoke its own title in two separate quotations'. They are from towards the close of the play ; and here, perhaps, we meet with the strongest evidences that this portion was one of its author's later efforts.
My notion is (and the speculation deserves no stronger term) that “All's Well that Ends Well " was in the first instance, and prior to 1598, called “Love's Labour's Won,” and that it had a clear reference to “ Love's Labour's Lost,” of which it might be considered the counterpart. It was then, perhaps, laid by for some years, and revived by its author, with alterations and additions, about 1605 or 1606, when the new title of “ All's Well that Ends Well” was given to it. At this date, however, “ Love's Labour's Lost" probably continued to be represented; and we learn from the Revels' Accounts that it was chosen for performance at court between Jan. 1 and Jan. 6, 1604-5. The entry runs in these terms :
“ Betwin Newers Day and Twelfe Day, a play of Loves
Labours Lost." The name of the author, and of the company by whom the piece was acted, are not in this instance given. We have no information that “All's Well that Ends Well” met with the same distinction ; and possibly Shakespeare altered its name, in order to give an appearance of greater novelty to the representation on its revival. This surmise, if well founded, would account for the difference in the titles, as we find them in Meres and in the folio of 1623.
Without here entering into the question, whether Shakespeare understood Italian, of which, we think, little doubt can be entertained, we need not suppose that he went to Boccaccio's Decameron for the story of “All's Well that Ends Well,” because he found it
· The two passages run as follows :
“ We must away ;
A. iv. sc. 4.
Though time seem so adverse, and means unfit.” Mr. Hunter prints “ All's well that ends well” in Italic, and with capitals, in both instances, as if it were a title ; but in the original edition the words appear only in the ordinary type and in the usual way. According to my supposition, these passages, as well as another in the Epilogue, “ All is well ended, if this suit is won,” were added when the comedy was revived in 1605 or 1606, and when a new name was given to it. “ All's well that ends well” is merely a proverbial phrase, which was in use in our language long before Shakespeare wrote. See note 10 to “ The Comedy of Errors,” vol. ii. p. 159.