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ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
SCENE 1. Rousillon. A Room in the Countess's
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. 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 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.
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.
Ber. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
Laf. He cannot want the best
[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. O, 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,
1 That is, “ if the living do not indulge grief, grief destroys itself by its own excess."
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,
Par. Save you, fair queen.
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.
Hel. Bless our poor virginity from underminers and blowers up!—Is there no military policy, how virgins might blow up men?
Par. Virginity being blown down, man will quicklier be blown up; marry, in blowing him down again, with the breach yourselves made, you lose your city. It is not politic in the commonwcalth of nature to preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational increase; and there was never virgin got, till virginity was first lost. That you were made of, is metal to make virgins. Virginity, by being once lost, may be ten times found; by being ever kept, it is ever lost : 'tis too cold a companion ; away with it.
Hel. I will stand for't a little, though therefore I die a virgin.
Par. There's little can be said in't ; 'tis against the rule of nature. To speak on the part of virginity, is to accuse your mothers; which is most infallible disobedience. He that hangs himself is a virgin : virginity murders itself; and should be buried in highways, out of all sanctified limit, as a desperate offendress against nature. Virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese; consumes itself to the very paring, and so dies with feeding his own stomach. Besides, virginity is peevish, proud, idle, made of self-love, which is the most inhibited sin in the canon. Keep it not: you cannot choose but lose by't. Out withit: within ten years it will make itself two,' which is a goodly increase, and the principal itself not much the worse. Away with't.
Hel. How might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking ?
Par. Let me see. Marry, ill, to like him that ne'er it likes. 'Tis a commodity will lose the gloss with lying ; the longer kept, the less worth. OH with't, while 'tis vendible: answer the time of request. Virginity, like an old courtier, wears her cap out of fashion ; richly suited, but unsuitable ; just like
1 Hanmer proposes to substitute ten for two. VOL. II.