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This is not an allusion to the disease so called in horses, though

Dr. Johnson supposed it was, but is used to express uncertainty, insecurity. In Cymbeline' Posthumus uses the word in the same sense :-

“Whence come these staggers on me?”. STAIN. Act I., Sc. 1.

“You have some stain of soldier in you.” Some tincture, some slight mark. STILL-PEERING. Act III., Sc. 2.

“Move the still-peering air.” Still-peering is appearing still, quiet. SUGGESTIONS. Act III., Sc. 5.

"A filthy officer he is in those suggestions.” Suggestions are ill counsels, temptations. TABLE. Act I., Sc. 1.

“In our heart's table.” Table is the surface, the tablet, on which a picture is painted,

and thence used for the picture itself. TOLL. Act V., Sc. 3.

“I will buy me a son-in-law in a fair, and toll for this.”
The payment of the toll at a fair or market was necessary to

the validity of a sale. Lafeu will get rid of Bertram by toll
and sale. The custom is described in Hudibras :-
“Where, when, by whom, and what 't were sold for,

And in the open market tolld for.”
THE FINE 'S THE CROWN. Act IV., Sc. 4. From the Latin, finis

coronat opus." TRICK. Act I., Sc. 1.

“Of every line and trick of his sweet favour.” Trick is more than once used by Shakspere in the sense of peculiarity. So in ‘King John:

“He hath a trick of Coeur-de-Lion's face.” And also in Lear. UNHAPPY. Act IV., Sc. 4.

“A shrewd knave, and an unhappy." Unhappy is here unlucky, mischievous. VALIDITY. Act V., Sc. 1.

“Whose high respect, and rich validity.' Validity is here used in the sense of value.

WARD. Act I., Sc. 1.

“ To whom I am now in ward." Under the old feudal tenures the heirs of great estates were

the king's wards, and a profit was made of them. In Eng. land there was a Court of Wards, which was not abolished

till 1658. WHAT DO YOU CALL THESE ? Act II., Sc. 1. This is equivalent to

What d'ye call it ?
WHITE DEATH. Act II., Sc. 3.

“Let the white death sit on thy cheek.”
The paleness of death.

PLOT AND CHARACTERS.

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DR. FARMER says that the story of 'All's Well that Ends Well’ came immediately to Shakspere from Painter's Giletta of Narbon.'” Painter's Palace of Pleasure' was printed in 1575; and no doubt Shakspere was familiar with the book. But we yet have to learn that Shakspere was not familiar with the Italian writers, who were as commonly read by the educated classes in England at the end of the sixteenth century as the French writers are read now. Whether received by him directly or indirectly, the story came from Boccaccio. Shakspere has made the character of Helena more interesting, in some respects, by representing her solely dependent on the bounty of the good Countess, whose character is a creation of his own; in the novel she is rich, and is surrounded with suitors. After her marriage and desertion by her husband, Giletta returns to the country of her lord, and governs it in his absence with all wisdom and goodness ; Helena is still a dependant upon her kind friend and mother, The main incidents of the story are the same; the management, by the intervention of the comic characters, belongs to Shakspere.

Hazlitt's spirited character of Boccaccio as a writer includes a notice of this comedy :-“The story of ‘All's Well that Ends Well,' and of several others of Shakspere's plays, is taken from Boccaccio. The poet has dramatised the original novel with great skill and comic spirit, and has preserved all the beauty of character and sentiment without improving upon it, which was impossible. There is, indeed, in Boccaccio's serious pieces a truth, a pathos, and an exquisite refinement of sentiment, which is hardly to be met with in any other prose-writer whatever. Justice bas not been done him by the world. He has in general passed for a mere narrator of lascivious tales, or idle jests. This character probably originated in his obnoxious attacks on the monks, and has been kept up by the grossness of mankind, who revenged their own want of refinement on Boccaccio, and only saw in his writings what suited the coarseness of their own tastes. But the truth is, that he has carried sentiment of every kind to its very highest purity and perfection. By sentiment we would here understand the habitual workings of some one powerful feeling, where the heart reposes almost entirely upon itself, without the violent excitement of opposing duties, or untoward circumstances.

The epithet of divine was well bestowed on this great painter of the human heart. The invention implied in his different tales is immense ; but we are not to infer that it is all his own.

He probably availed himself of all the common traditions which were floating in his time, and which he was the first to appropriate. Homer appears the most original of all authors-probably for no other reason than that we can trace the plagiarism no farther."

Many of the plots of Shakspere are thus founded upon stories which are the common property of mankind, whether they reached him through the Italian novelists, or were derived from sources now unknown. It was his peculiar attribute to make these traditional narratives thoroughly his own, by the most artistical treatment. What was obscure he rendered clear; what was gross he refined. He gave distinctive features to characters that had previously possessed no marked lineaments. He brought wit and humour into immediate contact with sentiment; and he strengthened and purified sentiment by his all-pervading philosophy. It would be unjust and unnecessary to enter upon a comparison of the treatment of the same subject by Boccaccio and by Shakspere ; but we can scarcely assent to Hazlitt's opinion, that he has preserved all the beauty of character and sentiment of the original novel without improving

upon it.

The chief interest of this comedy lies in Helena. Mrs.

“ All the circumstances and details with which Helena is surrounded are shocking to our feelings, and

Jameson says,

wounding to our delicacy; and yet the beauty of the character is made to triumph over all.” Shakspere first displays her sensibility and her secret passion—the same sensibility and secret love as in his Viola:

“It were all one, That I should love a bright particular star, And think to wed it, he is so above me.”

In her confession to the Countess we first see the moral energy, the “wisdom and constancy,” which carry her through a great purpose:

6 I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit;
Nor would I have him, till I do deserve him ;
Yet never know how that desert should be."

The orphan child of the physician has a shadowy hope that in the remedy for the French King's malady which her father has bequeathed her, may be found the means of her advancement, and the recompense of her ambitious love. The force of her will carries her through all difficulties, even through the greatest—the compromise of her feminine deliсасу. When she has avowed her preference for Bertram, she will carry forward that avowal to its consequences. She will not “ blush out the remainder of her life.” Never was so dangerous a position surmounted, without the loss of respect and sympathy.

The character of Bertram is one which commands no sympathy. But Johnson has somewhat undervalued him: “I cannot reconcile my heart to Bertram; a man noble without generosity, and young without truth; who marries Helena as a coward, and leaves her as a profligate: when she is dead by his unkindness, sneaks home to a second marriage: is accused by a woman whom he has wronged, defends himself by falsehood, and is dismissed to happiness.” Johnson has not sufficiently allowed for the conventional circumstances by which Bertram was surrounded. The pride of birth has never allowed him to see the merits

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