Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

ACT 1. SC EN E I.

The Countess of Rousillon's house in France.

Enter Bertram, the Countess of Rousillon, Helena, and

Lafeu, all in black.

COUNTES S. N 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

[ocr errors]

2

' The story of All's Well ebat 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 Shake{peare from Painter's Gilletta of Narbon, in the first vol. of the Palace of Pleasure, 4°, 1598, p. 282.

FARMER. Shakespeare is indebted to the novel only for a few leading circumstances in the graver parts of the piece. The comic busiaess appears to be entirely of his own formation. STEEvens.

In DELIVERING my fon from me-) To deliver from, in the fense of giving up, is not English.. Shakcípeare wrote, in disa SEVERING my son from me-The following words, too, - I bury a second buband-demand this reading. For to dissever implies a violent divorce; and therefore might be compared to the burying a husband; which d. livering does not.

WARE. of this change I see no need: the present readir.g is clear, and, perhaps, as proper as that which the great commentator would fubftitute; for the king diflevers her fon from her, she only deliver him,

JOHNSON. command,

B 2

command, to whom I am now 3 in ward, evermore in subjection.

Laf. You shall find of the king a husband, madam; you, fir, a father. He, that so generally is ac all times good, must of neceflity hold his virtue to you; 4 whose worthiness would stir it up where it wanted, rather than Nack it where there is such abundance.

Count. What hope is there of his majesty's amendment?

Laf. He hath abandon'd 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. 5 This young gentlewoman had a father, (O, that bad! how sad a passage ʼtis !) whose skill

was

3 in ward.) 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 enquire, for Shakespeare gives to all nations the manners of England.

JOHNSON. + whose wortlint's would fiir it ap where it wanted, rather than lack it zubere there is such abundanc..) An opposition of terms is visibly designed in this sentence; tho' che opposition is not so visi. ble, as the terms now stand. Wanied and abundance are the opposites to one another; but how is lack a contralt to frir up? The addition of a single letter gives it, and the very sense requires it. Read slack is.

WARBURTON. This young gentlewoman had a father (O, that had ! how fad a PASSAGE 'ris ! ] Lafeu was speaking of the king's desperate con. dition : which makes the counters recall to mind the deceased Gerard de Narbon, who, she thinks could haye cured him. But in using the word had, which implied his death, the flops in the middle of her sentence, and makes a reflection upon it, which, according to the present reading, is unintelligible. We mult therefore believe Shakespeare wrote (o that had! how fad a Presage 'tis) ie. a presage that the king must now expect no cure, since so skilful a person was himself forced to submit to a malignant diftemper.

WARBURTON.

was almost as great as his honesty; had it stretch'd so far, it would have made nature immortal, and death lhould have play'd 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 calld you the man you speak of, madam?

Count. He was famous, sir, in his profession, 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 : he was skilful enough to have liv'd still, if knowledge could have been 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 disposition the in

This emendation is ingenious, perhaps preferable to the prefent reading, yet fince passage may be fairly enough explained, I have left it in the text. Pasage is any thing that polis, so we now fay, a pasage of an authour, and we said about

a century ago, the passages of a reign. When the countess mentions Helena's loss of a father, the recollects her own loss of a husband, and Aops to observe how heavily that word had passes through her mind.

JOHNSON. Thus Shakespear himself. See Tbe Comedy of Errors, act iii. fc. 1.

“ Now in the stirring passage of the day. So in Tibe Gamefter by Shirley, 1637. “ I'll not be witness " of your passages myself.” 1, c. of what passes between you,

STEEVENS.

[blocks in formation]

herits, which makes fair gifts fairer : for where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there commendations go with pity, they are virtues and traitors

6 w'ere an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there commendations go wiib piry; thiy are virtues and traitors 100; in her bey are : be better for THEIR fimplenes; she derives ber honesty, and archieves her goodness.] This obscure encomium is made ftill more obscure by a slight corruption of the text. Let us explain the passage as it lies. By virtuous qualities are meant qualities of good breeding and erudition ; in the fame sense that the Italians say, qualità virtuosa; and not moral ones. On this account it is, the says, that, in an ill mind, these virtuous qualities are virtues and traitors 100: i. e. the advantages of education enable an ill mind to go further in wickedness than it could have done without them. But, says the countess, in ber they are the better for Dheir fimplerefs. But fimpleness is the same with what is called bonefly, immediately after; which cannot be predicated of the qualities of education. We must certainly read

HER fimpleness, and then the sentence is properly concluded. The countess had said, that virtuous qualities are the worse for an unclean mind, but concludes that Helen's are the better for her fimpleness, i. e. her clean, pure mind. She then sums up the character, he had before given in detail, in these words, fue derives her honefly, and atchieves her goodness, i, e. fhe derives her benefiy, her fimpleness, her moral character, from her father and her ancestors; but she atchieves or wins her goodness, her virtue, or her qualities of good breeding and erudition, by her own pains and labour.

WARBURTON. This is likewise a plaufible but unnecessary alteration. Her virtues are obe better for their fimpliness, that is, her excellencies are the better because they are artless and open, without fraud, without design. The learned commentator has well explained virites, but has not, I think, reached the force of the word iraitors, and therefore has not shewn the full extent of Shakespeare's mafterly observation. Virtues in an unclean mind are virtues and traitors 100. Eftimable and useful qualities, joined with evil disposition, give that evil disposition power over others, who, by admiring the virtue, are betrayed to the malevolence. The Terler, mentioning the liarpers of his time, observes, that some of them are men of such elegance and knowledge, that a young man wbo fails into their way is betrayed as mucb by bis judgment as his passions.

JOHNSON.

too;

[ocr errors]

£00; in her they are the better for their fimpleness ; the derives her honesty, and atchieves 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 ap? proaches her heart, but the tyranny of her sorrows takes 7 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.

Hel. I do affect a forrow, 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.
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,

all livelibood) Means all appearance of life. STEEVEN. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.] This seems very obscure, but the addition of a negative perfe&tly dispels all the mist. If the living be not enemy, &c. exceffive grief is an enemy to the living, says Lafeu : Yes, replies the countess; and if the living be not enemy to the grief, (i. e. ftrive to conquer it,] the excess makes it soon mortal.

WARBURTON. This emendation I had once admitted into the text, but reitored the old reading, because I think it capable of an easy explication. Lafeu says, exceffive grief is the enemy of the living : the countess replies, if the living be an enemy to grief, the excess foon makes it mortal : that is, if the living do not indulge grief, grief de frogs itself by its own excess. By the word mortał I underítand ibat which dies, and Dr. Warburton, that which destroys. I think that my interpretation gives a sentence more acute and more refined. Let the reader judge.

JOHNSON. B 4

Do

« AnteriorContinuar »