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already translated to his hands, in “ The Palace of Pleasure," by William Painter, of which the first volume was published in 1566, and the second in 1567?. It is the 9th novel of the third day of Boccaccio, and the 28th novel of the first volume of “ The Palace of Pleasure.” In the Decameron it bears the following title, which is very literally translated by Painter :-"Giglietta di Nerbona guarisce il Re di Francia d'una fistola : domanda per marito Beltramo di Rossiglione; il quale contra sua voglia sposatala, a Firenze se ne va per isdegno; dove vagheggiando una giovane, in persona di lei Giglietta giacque con lui, e hebbene due figliuoli; perchè egli poi havutala cara per moglie la tiene.” The English version by Painter may be read in “Shakespeare's Library ;" and hence it will appear, that the poet was only indebted to Boccaccio for the mere outline of his plot, as regards Helena, Bertram, the Widow, and Diana. All that belongs to the characters of the Countess, the Clown, and Parolles, and the comic business in which the last is engaged, were, as far as we now know, the invention of Shakespeare. The only names Boccaccio (and after him Painter) gives are Giglietta and Beltramo : the latter Shakespeare anglicised to Bertram, and he changed Giglietta to Helena, probably because he had already made Juliet the name of one of his heroines. Shakespeare much degrades the character of Bertram, towards the end of the drama, by the duplicity, and even falsehood, he makes him display : Coleridge (Lit. Rem. ii. 121) was offended by the fact, that in A. iii. sc. 5, Helena,
Shakespeare's loveliest character," speaks that which is untrue under the appearance of necessity; but Bertram is convicted by the King of telling a deliberate untruth, and of persisting in it, in the face of the whole court of France. In Boccaccio the winding up of the story occurs at Rousillon, as in Shakespeare, but the King is no party to the scene.
The substitution of Helena for Diana (as in “ Measure for Measure” we had that of Mariana for Isabella) was a common incident in Italian novels. One of these was inserted in “Narbonus : the Laberynth of Libertie,” by Austin Saker, 4to, 1580 ; a romance in which the scene is laid in Vienna, but the manners are those of London : there the object was to impose a wife upon her reluctant husband; but the resemblance to the same incident in “All's Well that Ends Well" is only general.
2 They were published together in 1575, and hence has arisen the error into which some modern editors have fallen, when they suppose that “ The Palace of Pleasure was first printed in that year. Painter dates the dedication of his “ second tome
" " From my pore house, besides the Towre of London, the iiij. of November, 1567."
King of France.
Countess of Rousillon, Mother to Bertram.
VIOLENTA, } Neighbours and Friends to the Widow.
Lords, attending on the King; Officers, Soldiers, &c. French
SCENE, partly in France, and partly in Tuscany.
i First enumerated by Rowe.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
ACT I. SCENE I.
A Room in the COUNTESS's Palace.
Enter BERTRAM, the COUNTESS of Rousillon, HELENA,
and LAFEU, all in black!. Count. 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 persecùted time with hope, and finds no other advantage in the process but only the losing of hope by time.
all in black.) We have thought nothing lost by preserving the simplicity of the old stage-direction, instead of its modernization“ in mourning."
to whom I am now in Ward,) It seems from Howell's fifteenth letter, as quoted by Tollet, that only the province of Normandy was subject to the law of wardships, prevailing generally in this country : by it the infant heirs of large estates were the king's wards. Shakespeare has extended the custom to a part of France where, it seems, it did not exist.
Count. This young gentlewoman had a father,40, 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. 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. 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 tears.
Count. 'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise in.
The remembrance of her father never would have made nature immortal,] Another instance of the manner in which Shakespeare sometimes left the nominative case of the verb to be understood. See vol. ii. p. 478, note 7.
* In Painter's novel the passage relating to the disorder of the King of France runs thus :-“She heard by report that the French king had a swelling upon his breast, wliich by reason of ill cure, was growen to be a fistula, which did put him to marveilous paine and griefe; and that there was no Phisician to be found (although many were proved) that could heale it.” Vol. i. fo. 88.
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.
Laf. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the living.
Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.
Ber. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
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.
[Exit COUNTESS. Ber. [To HELENA.] 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
[Eveunt BERTRAM and LAFEU. Hel. O, were that all I think not on my father; And these great tears grace his remembrance more