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Wedding is great Juno's crown;
High wedlock then be honored.
Duke S. O my dear niece, welcome thou art to me; Even daughter, welcome in no less degree.
Phe. I will not eat my word, now thou art mine, Thy faith my fancy to thee doth combine.
Enter JAQUES DE BOIS.
Jaq. de B. Let me have audience for a word or two;
I am the second son of old sir Rowland,
That bring these tidings to this fair assembly.-
Welcome, young man:
1 i. e. prepared.
That here were well begun, and well begot;
Play, music;—and you, brides and bridegrooms all,
Jaq. Sir, by your patience; if I heard you rightly,
Jaq. To him will I; out of these convertites There is much matter to be heard and learned.You to your former honor I bequeath: [To Duke S. Your patience and your virtue well deserve it :You [To ORLANDO.] to a love that your true faith doth merit :
You [TO OLIVER.] to your land and love, and great allies:You [To SILVIUS.] to a long and well deserved bed :And you [To TOUCHSTONE.] to wrangling; for thy loving voyage
Is but for two months victualed.-So to your pleasures; I am for other than for dancing measures.
Duke S. Stay, Jaques, stay.
Jaq. To see no pastime, I.-What you would have, I'll stay to know at your abandoned cave.' [Exit. Duke S. Proceed, proceed. We will begin these rites,
And we do trust they'll end in true delights. [A dance.
The reader feels some regret to take his leave of Jaques in this manner; and no less concern at not meeting with the faithful old Adam, at the close. It is the more remarkable that Shakspeare should have forgotten him, because Lodge, in his novel, makes him captain of the king's guard.
Ros. It is not the fashion to see the lady the epilogue; but it is no more unhandsome, than to see the lord the prologue. If it be true, that good wine needs no bush, 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue: yet to good wine they do use good bushes; and good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues. What a case am I in, then, that am neither a good epilogue, nor cannot insinuate with you in the behalf of a good play? I am not furnished like a beggar; therefore to beg will not become me. My way is, to conjure you; and I'll begin with the women. I charge you, O women, for the love you bear to men, to like as much of this play as please you: 3 and I charge you, O men, for the love you bear to women, (as I perceive, by your simpering, none of you hate them,) that between you and the women the play may please. If I were a woman, I would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased me, complexions that liked me, and breaths that I defied not; and I am sure, as many as have good beards, or good faces, or sweet breaths, will, for my kind offer, when I make courtesy, bid me farewell.
1 It was formerly the general custom in England, as it is still in France and the Netherlands, to hang a bush of ivy at the door of a vintner. 2 Furnished, dressed.
3 This is the reading of the old copy, which has been altered to "as much of this play as please them," but surely without necessity. It is only the omission of the s at the end of please, which gives it a quaint appearance; but it was the practice of the Poet's age.
4 The parts of women were performed by men or boys in Shakspeare's time.
5 i. e. that I liked.
Or this play the fable is wild and pleasing. I know not how the ladies will approve the facility with which both Rosalind and Celia give away their hearts. To Celia much may be forgiven for the heroism of her friendship. The character of Jaques is natural and well preserved. The comic dialogue is very sprightly, with less mixture of low buffoonery than in some other plays; and the graver part is elegant and harmonious. By hastening to the end of this work, Shakspeare suppressed the dialogue between the usurper and the hermit, and lost an opportunity of exhibiting a moral lesson, in which he might have found matter worthy of his highest powers. JOHNSON.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
THE fable of All's Well that Ends Well is derived from the story of Gilletta of Narbonne in the Decamerone of Boccaccio. It came to Shakspeare through the medium of Painter's Palace of Pleasure, and is to be found in the first volume, which was printed as early as 1566. The comic parts of the plot, and the characters of the Countess, Lafeu, &c. are of the Poet's own creation, and in the conduct of the fable he has found it expedient to depart from his original more than it is his usual custom to do. The character of Helena is beautifully drawn; she is a heroic and patient sufferer of adverse fortune like Griselda, and placed in circumstances of almost equal difficulty. Her romantic passion for Bertram, with whom she had been brought up as a sister; her grief at his departure for the court, which she expresscs in some exquisitely impassioned lines; and the retiring, anxious modesty with which she confides her passion to the Countess, are in the Poet's sweetest style of writing. Nor are the succeeding parts of her conduct touched with a less delicate and masterly hand. Placed in extraordinary and embarrassing circumstances, there is a propriety and delicacy in all her actions, which is consistent with the guileless innocence of her heart.
The King is properly made an instrument in the denouement of the plot of the play, and this a most striking and judicious deviation from the novel. His gratitude and esteem for Helen are consistent and honorable to him as a man and a monarch.