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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 22 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 23 : 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

24, I would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased me, complexions that liked me 25, 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 curt’sy, bid me farewell.

[Ereunt. a vintner: there was a classical propriety in this; ivy being sacred to Bacchus. So in Summer's last Will and Testament, 1600:

'Green ivy-bushes at the vintners' doors.' Again in The Rival Friends, 1632:

'Tis like the ivy-bush unto a tavern.' The custom is still observed in Warwickshire and the adjoining counties, at statute-hirings, wakes, &c. by people who sell ale at no other time. The manner in which they were decorated appears from a passage in Florio's Italian Dictionary, in voce Tremola: 'gold foile or thin leaves of gold or silver, namely, thinne plate, as our vintners adorn their bushes with. Nash, in bis Lenten stuffe, describes A London vintner's signe thicke jazged and fringed round with theaming arsadine, i. e. glittering foil or orsedew, and not a yellow pigment as Mr. Gifford has supposed.--v. Ben Jonson's Works, vol. iv. p. 405.

22 Furnished, dressed. 23 This is the reading of the old copy, which has been altered

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.

24 The parts of women were performed by men or boys in Shakspeare's time.

15 i.e. that I liked.



Of 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 his highest powers.


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Lafeu. Nay, come your ways;
This is his majesty, say your mind to him.

Acr ii. Sc. 1.



Al'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 an 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 expresses 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.

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