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THE PLAYS EDITED FROM THE FOLIO OF MDCXXIII, WITH VARIOUS
READINGS FROM ALL THE EDITIONS AND ALL THE COMMENTATORS,
NOTES, INTRODUCTORY REMARKS, A HISTORICAL SKETCH OF
THE TEXT, AN ACCOUNT OF THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF
THE ENGLISH DRAMA, A MEMOIR OF THE POET,
AND AN ESSAY UPON HIS GENIUS
By RICHARD GRANT WHITE
LITTLE BROWN AND COMPANY
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by
RICHARD GRANT WHITE.
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Riverside, Cambridge: Printed By H. 0. Houghton And Company.
STEREOTYPED AT THE
AIVs Well that Ends Well occupies twenty-five pages in the folio of 1623, viz., from p. 230 to p. 254, inclusive, in the division of Comedies. It is there divided into Acts and Scenes, but has no list of Dramatis Persons, which it was left for Howe to supply.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
BOCCACCIO first gave the story of this comedy a place in literature. It is the Ninth Novel of the Third Day of the Decameron. Paynter translated it for his Palace of Pleasure, which was published, the first volume in 1566 and the second in 1567. In that work the argument of the tale is thus given: "Giletta, a phisician's doughter of Narbon, healed the Frenche kyng of a fistula, for reward wherof she demaunded Beltramo, counte of Rossiglione, to husbande. The counte, beyng maried againste his will, for despite fled to Florence, and loved another. Giletta, his wife, by pollicie founde meanes to lye with her husbande, in place of his lover, and was begotten with child of two soonnes: whiche, knowen to her husbande, he received her againe, and afterwardes he lived in greate honor and felicitie." * Shakespeare followed the novelist in all respects, and preserved two of the names in the original tale, Bertram, Count of Roussillon, and Gerarde of Narbon. But he changed the name of the heroine to Helena; and Mr. Collier has suggested that he did so "probably because he had already made Juliet the name of one of his heroines." This, however, is to assume that Romeo and Juliet was produced before All's Well that Ends Well. To the characters in Boccaccio's story Shakespeare added the Countess, Parolles, the Clown, Lafeu, and other minor person
* This is rather a paraphrase than a translation of Boccaccio's argument, which here follows: "Giglietta di Nerbona guarisce il Re di Francia d'una fistola; domanda per marito Beltramo di Rossiglione; il quale contra sua voglia sposatala, a Firenze se ne va per isdegno; dove vagheggiando una giovane, in persona di lei Giglietta giacque con lui, e hebbene due figlioli; perche egli poi havutala cara per moglie la tiene." Paynter's version is given by Mr. Collier in his Shakespeare'1's Library.