All's Well That Ends Well
by William Shakespeare [Collins edition]
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FIRST LORD. {Aside.] This is the first truth that e'er thine own tongue was guilty of.

PAROLLES. What the devil should move me to undertake the recovery of this drum: being not ignorant of the impossibility, and knowing I had no such purpose? I must give myself some hurts, and say I got them in exploit: yet slight ones will not carry it: they will say Came you off with so little? and great ones I dare not give. Wherefore, what's the instance? Tongue, I must put you into a butter-woman's mouth, and buy myself another of Bajazet's mule, if you prattle me into these perils.

FIRST LORD. {Aside.] Is it possible he should know what he is, and be that he is?

PAROLLES. I would the cutting of my garments would serve the turn, or the breaking of my Spanish sword.

FIRST LORD. {Aside.] We cannot afford you so.

PAROLLES. Or the baring of my beard; and to say it was in stratagem.

FIRST LORD. {Aside.] 'Twould not do.

PAROLLES. Or to drown my clothes, and say I was stripped.

FIRST LORD. {Aside.] Hardly serve.

PAROLLES. Though I swore I leap'd from the window of the citadel,—

FIRST LORD. {Aside.] How deep?

PAROLLES. Thirty fathom.

FIRST LORD. {Aside.] Three great oaths would scarce make that be believed.

PAROLLES. I would I had any drum of the enemy's; I would swear I recovered it.

FIRST LORD. {Aside.] You shall hear one anon.

PAROLLES. A drum now of the enemy's!

[Alarum within.]

FIRST LORD. Throca movousus, cargo, cargo, cargo.

ALL. Cargo, cargo, cargo, villianda par corbo, cargo.

PAROLLES. O, ransom, ransom! Do not hide mine eyes.

[They seize and blindfold him.]

FIRST SOLDIER. Boskos thromuldo boskos.

PAROLLES. I know you are the Muskos' regiment, And I shall lose my life for want of language: If there be here German, or Dane, low Dutch, Italian, or French, let him speak to me; I'll discover that which shall undo the Florentine.

SECOND SOLDIER. Boskos vauvado:—I understand thee, and can speak thy tongue. Kerelybonto:—Sir, Betake thee to thy faith, for seventeen poniards Are at thy bosom.


FIRST SOLDIER. O, pray, pray, pray!— Manka revania dulche.

FIRST LORD. Oscorbi dulchos volivorco.

FIRST SOLDIER. The General is content to spare thee yet; And, hoodwink'd as thou art, will lead thee on To gather from thee: haply thou mayst inform Something to save thy life.

PAROLLES. O, let me live, And all the secrets of our camp I'll show, Their force, their purposes: nay, I'll speak that Which you will wonder at.

FIRST SOLDIER. But wilt thou faithfully?

PAROLLES. If I do not, damn me.

FIRST SOLDIER. Acordo linta.— Come on; thou art granted space.

[Exit, with PAROLLES guarded.]

FIRST LORD. Go, tell the Count Rousillon and my brother We have caught the woodcock, and will keep him muffled Till we do hear from them.

SECOND SOLDIER. Captain, I will.

FIRST LORD. 'A will betray us all unto ourselves;— Inform 'em that.

SECOND SOLDIER. So I will, sir.

FIRST LORD. Till then I'll keep him dark, and safely lock'd.


SCENE 2. Florence. A room in the WIDOW'S house.

[Enter BERTRAM and DIANA.]

BERTRAM. They told me that your name was Fontibell.

DIANA. No, my good lord, Diana.

BERTRAM. Titled goddess; And worth it, with addition! But, fair soul, In your fine frame hath love no quality? If the quick fire of youth light not your mind, You are no maiden, but a monument; When you are dead, you should be such a one As you are now, for you are cold and stern; And now you should be as your mother was When your sweet self was got.

DIANA. She then was honest.

BERTRAM. So should you be.

DIANA. No: My mother did but duty; such, my lord, As you owe to your wife.

BERTRAM. No more of that! I pr'ythee, do not strive against my vows: I was compell'd to her; but I love thee By love's own sweet constraint, and will for ever Do thee all rights of service.

DIANA. Ay, so you serve us Till we serve you; but when you have our roses You barely leave our thorns to prick ourselves, And mock us with our bareness.

BERTRAM. How have I sworn?

DIANA. 'Tis not the many oaths that makes the truth, But the plain single vow that is vow'd true. What is not holy, that we swear not by, But take the Highest to witness: then, pray you, tell me, If I should swear by Jove's great attributes I lov'd you dearly, would you believe my oaths When I did love you ill? This has no holding, To swear by him whom I protest to love That I will work against him: therefore your oaths Are words and poor conditions; but unseal'd,— At least in my opinion.

BERTRAM. Change it, change it; Be not so holy-cruel. Love is holy; And my integrity ne'er knew the crafts That you do charge men with. Stand no more off, But give thyself unto my sick desires, Who then recover: say thou art mine, and ever My love as it begins shall so persever.

DIANA. I see that men make hopes in such a case, That we'll forsake ourselves. Give me that ring.

BERTRAM. I'll lend it thee, my dear, but have no power To give it from me.

DIANA. Will you not, my lord?

BERTRAM. It is an honour 'longing to our house, Bequeathed down from many ancestors; Which were the greatest obloquy i' the world In me to lose.

DIANA. Mine honour's such a ring: My chastity's the jewel of our house, Bequeathed down from many ancestors; Which were the greatest obloquy i' the world In me to lose. Thus your own proper wisdom Brings in the champion honour on my part Against your vain assault.

BERTRAM. Here, take my ring: My house, mine honour, yea, my life, be thine, And I'll be bid by thee.

DIANA. When midnight comes, knock at my chamber-window; I'll order take my mother shall not hear. Now will I charge you in the band of truth, When you have conquer'd my yet maiden-bed, Remain there but an hour, nor speak to me: My reasons are most strong; and you shall know them When back again this ring shall be deliver'd; And on your finger in the night, I'll put Another ring; that what in time proceeds May token to the future our past deeds. Adieu till then; then fail not. You have won A wife of me, though there my hope be done.

BERTRAM. A heaven on earth I have won by wooing thee.


DIANA. For which live long to thank both heaven and me! You may so in the end.— My mother told me just how he would woo, As if she sat in's heart; she says all men Have the like oaths: he had sworn to marry me When his wife's dead; therefore I'll lie with him When I am buried. Since Frenchmen are so braid, Marry that will, I live and die a maid: Only, in this disguise, I think't no sin To cozen him that would unjustly win.


SCENE 3. The Florentine camp.

[Enter the two French Lords, and two or three Soldiers.]

FIRST LORD. You have not given him his mother's letter?

SECOND LORD. I have deliv'red it an hour since: there is something in't that stings his nature; for on the reading, it he changed almost into another man.

FIRST LORD. He has much worthy blame laid upon him for shaking off so good a wife and so sweet a lady.

SECOND LORD. Especially he hath incurred the everlasting displeasure of the king, who had even tuned his bounty to sing happiness to him. I will tell you a thing, but you shall let it dwell darkly with you.

FIRST LORD. When you have spoken it, 'tis dead, and I am the grave of it.

SECOND LORD. He hath perverted a young gentlewoman here in Florence, of a most chaste renown; and this night he fleshes his will in the spoil of her honour: he hath given her his monumental ring, and thinks himself made in the unchaste composition.

FIRST LORD. Now, God delay our rebellion: as we are ourselves, what things are we!

SECOND LORD. Merely our own traitors. And as in the common course of all treasons, we still see them reveal themselves till they attain to their abhorred ends; so he that in this action contrives against his own nobility, in his proper stream, o'erflows himself.

FIRST LORD. Is it not meant damnable in us to be trumpeters of our unlawful intents? We shall not then have his company to-night?

SECOND LORD. Not till after midnight; for he is dieted to his hour.

FIRST LORD. That approaches apace: I would gladly have him see his company anatomized, that he might take a measure of his own judgments, wherein so curiously he had set this counterfeit.

SECOND LORD. We will not meddle with him till he come; for his presence must be the whip of the other.

FIRST LORD. In the meantime, what hear you of these wars?

SECOND LORD. I hear there is an overture of peace.

FIRST LORD. Nay, I assure you, a peace concluded.

SECOND LORD. What will Count Rousillon do then? will he travel higher, or return again into France?

FIRST LORD. I perceive, by this demand, you are not altogether of his counsel.

SECOND LORD. Let it be forbid, sir: so should I be a great deal of his act.

FIRST LORD. Sir, his wife, some two months since, fled from his house: her pretence is a pilgrimage to Saint Jaques-le-Grand: which holy undertaking with most austere sanctimony she accomplished; and, there residing, the tenderness of her nature became as a prey to her grief; in fine, made a groan of her last breath; and now she sings in heaven.

SECOND LORD. How is this justified?

FIRST LORD. The stronger part of it by her own letters, which makes her story true, even to the point of her death: her death itself which could not be her office to say is come, was faithfully confirmed by the rector of the place.

SECOND LORD. Hath the count all this intelligence?

FIRST LORD. Ay, and the particular confirmations, point from point, to the full arming of the verity.

SECOND LORD. I am heartily sorry that he'll be glad of this.

FIRST LORD. How mightily, sometimes, we make us comforts of our losses!

SECOND LORD. And how mightily, some other times, we drown our gain in tears! The great dignity that his valour hath here acquired for him shall at home be encountered with a shame as ample.

FIRST LORD. The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together: our virtues would be proud if our faults whipped them not; and our crimes would despair if they were not cherished by our virtues.—

[Enter a Servant.]

How now? where's your master?

SERVANT. He met the duke in the street, sir; of whom he hath taken a solemn leave: his lordship will next morning for France. The duke hath offered him letters of commendations to the king.

SECOND LORD. They shall be no more than needful there, if they were more than they can commend.

FIRST LORD. They cannot be too sweet for the king's tartness. Here's his lordship now.

[Enter BERTRAM.]

How now, my lord, is't not after midnight?

BERTRAM. I have to-night despatch'd sixteen businesses, a month's length apiece; by an abstract of success: I have conge'd with the duke, done my adieu with his nearest; buried a wife, mourned for her; writ to my lady mother I am returning; entertained my convoy; and between these main parcels of despatch effected many nicer needs: the last was the greatest, but that I have not ended yet.

SECOND LORD. If the business be of any difficulty and this morning your departure hence, it requires haste of your lordship.

BERTRAM. I mean the business is not ended, as fearing to hear of it hereafter. But shall we have this dialogue between the fool and the soldier?—Come, bring forth this counterfeit module has deceived me like a double-meaning prophesier.

SECOND LORD. Bring him forth.

[Exeunt Soldiers.]

Has sat i' the stocks all night, poor gallant knave.

BERTRAM. No matter; his heels have deserved it, in usurping his spurs so long. How does he carry himself?

FIRST LORD. I have told your lordship already; the stocks carry him. But to answer you as you would be understood: he weeps like a wench that had shed her milk; he hath confessed himself to Morgan, whom he supposes to be a friar, from the time of his remembrance to this very instant disaster of his setting i' the stocks: and what think you he hath confessed?

BERTRAM. Nothing of me, has he?

SECOND LORD. His confession is taken, and it shall be read to his face; if your lordship be in't, as I believe you are, you must have the patience to hear it.

[Re-enter Soldiers, with PAROLLES.]

BERTRAM. A plague upon him! muffled! he can say nothing of me; hush, hush!

FIRST LORD. Hoodman comes! Porto tartarossa.

FIRST SOLDIER. He calls for the tortures: what will you say without 'em?

PAROLLES. I will confess what I know without constraint; if ye pinch me like a pasty I can say no more.

FIRST SOLDIER. Bosko chimurcho.

FIRST LORD. Boblibindo chicurmurco.

FIRST SOLDIER. You are a merciful general:—Our general bids you answer to what I shall ask you out of a note.

PAROLLES. And truly, as I hope to live.

FIRST SOLDIER. 'First demand of him how many horse the duke is strong.' What say you to that?

PAROLLES. Five or six thousand; but very weak and unserviceable: the troops are all scattered, and the commanders very poor rogues, upon my reputation and credit, and as I hope to live.

FIRST SOLDIER. Shall I set down your answer so?

PAROLLES. Do; I'll take the sacrament on 't, how and which way you will.

BERTRAM. All's one to him. What a past-saving slave is this!

FIRST LORD. You are deceived, my lord; this is Monsieur Parolles, the gallant militarist (that was his own phrase),that had the whole theoric of war in the knot of his scarf, and the practice in the chape of his dagger.

SECOND LORD. I will never trust a man again for keeping his sword clean; nor believe he can have everything in him by wearing his apparel neatly.

FIRST SOLDIER. Well, that's set down.

PAROLLES. 'Five or six thousand horse' I said—I will say true—or thereabouts, set down,—for I'll speak truth.

FIRST LORD. He's very near the truth in this.

BERTRAM. But I con him no thanks for't in the nature he delivers it.

PAROLLES. Poor rogues, I pray you say.

FIRST SOLDIER. Well, that's set down.

PAROLLES. I humbly thank you, sir: a truth's a truth, the rogues are marvellous poor.

FIRST SOLDIER. 'Demand of him of what strength they are a-foot.' What say you to that?

PAROLLES. By my troth, sir, if I were to live this present hour, I will tell true. Let me see: Spurio, a hundred and fifty, Sebastian, so many; Corambus, so many; Jaques, so many; Guiltian, Cosmo, Lodowick, and Gratii, two hundred fifty each; mine own company, Chitopher, Vaumond, Bentii, two hundred fifty each: so that the muster-file, rotten and sound, upon my life, amounts not to fifteen thousand poll; half of the which dare not shake the snow from off their cassocks lest they shake themselves to pieces.

BERTRAM. What shall be done to him?

FIRST LORD. Nothing, but let him have thanks. Demand of him my condition, and what credit I have with the duke.

FIRST SOLDIER. Well, that's set down. 'You shall demand of him whether one Captain Dumain be i' the camp, a Frenchman; what his reputation is with the duke, what his valour, honesty, expertness in wars; or whether he thinks it were not possible, with well-weighing sums of gold, to corrupt him to a revolt.' What say you to this? what do you know of it?

PAROLLES. I beseech you, let me answer to the particular of the inter'gatories: demand them singly.

FIRST SOLDIER. Do you know this Captain Dumain?

PAROLLES. I know him: he was a botcher's 'prentice in Paris, from whence he was whipped for getting the shrieve's fool with child: a dumb innocent that could not say him nay.

[FIRST LORD lifts up his hand in anger.]

BERTRAM. Nay, by your leave, hold your hands; though I know his brains are forfeit to the next tile that falls.

FIRST SOLDIER. Well, is this captain in the Duke of Florence's camp?

PAROLLES. Upon my knowledge, he is, and lousy.

FIRST LORD. Nay, look not so upon me; we shall hear of your lordship anon.

FIRST SOLDIER. What is his reputation with the duke?

PAROLLES. The duke knows him for no other but a poor officer of mine; and writ to me this other day to turn him out o' the band: I think I have his letter in my pocket.

FIRST SOLDIER. Marry, we'll search.

PAROLLES. In good sadness, I do not know; either it is there or it is upon a file, with the duke's other letters, in my tent.

FIRST SOLDIER. Here 'tis; here's a paper. Shall I read it to you?

PAROLLES. I do not know if it be it or no.

BERTRAM. Our interpreter does it well.

FIRST LORD. Excellently.

FIRST SOLDIER. [Reads.] 'Dian, the Count's a fool, and full of gold,—'

PAROLLES. That is not the duke's letter, sir; that is an advertisement to a proper maid in Florence, one Diana, to take heed of the allurement of one Count Rousillon, a foolish idle boy, but for all that very ruttish: I pray you, sir, put it up again.

FIRST SOLDIER. Nay, I'll read it first by your favour.

PAROLLES. My meaning in't, I protest, was very honest in the behalf of the maid; for I knew the young count to be a dangerous and lascivious boy, who is a whale to virginity, and devours up all the fry it finds.

BERTRAM. Damnable! both sides rogue!

FIRST SOLDIER. [Reads.] 'When he swears oaths, bid him drop gold, and take it: After he scores, he never pays the score; Half won is match well made; match, and well make it; He ne'er pays after-debts, take it before; And say a soldier, 'Dian,' told thee this: Men are to mell with, boys are not to kiss; For count of this, the count's a fool, I know it, Who pays before, but not when he does owe it. Thine, as he vow'd to thee in thine ear, PAROLLES.

BERTRAM. He shall be whipped through the army with this rhyme in his forehead.

SECOND LORD. This is your devoted friend, sir, the manifold linguist, and the armipotent soldier.

BERTRAM. I could endure anything before but a cat, and now he's a cat to me.

FIRST SOLDIER. I perceive, sir, by our general's looks we shall be fain to hang you.

PAROLLES. My life, sir, in any case: not that I am afraid to die, but that, my offences being many, I would repent out the remainder of nature: let me live, sir, in a dungeon, i' the stocks, or anywhere, so I may live.

FIRST SOLDIER. We'll see what may be done, so you confess freely; therefore, once more to this Captain Dumain: you have answered to his reputation with the duke, and to his valour: what is his honesty?

PAROLLES. He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister: for rapes and ravishments he parallels Nessus. He professes not keeping of oaths; in breaking them he is stronger than Hercules. He will lie, sir, with such volubility that you would think truth were a fool: drunkenness is his best virtue, for he will be swine-drunk; and in his sleep he does little harm, save to his bedclothes about him; but they know his conditions and lay him in straw. I have but little more to say, sir, of his honesty; he has everything that an honest man should not have; what an honest man should have he has nothing.

FIRST LORD. I begin to love him for this.

BERTRAM. For this description of thine honesty? A pox upon him for me; he's more and more a cat.

FIRST SOLDIER. What say you to his expertness in war?

PAROLLES. Faith, sir, has led the drum before the English tragedians,—to belie him I will not,—and more of his soldiership I know not, except in that country he had the honour to be the officer at a place there called Mile-end to instruct for the doubling of files: I would do the man what honour I can, but of this I am not certain.

FIRST LORD. He hath out-villanied villainy so far that the rarity redeems him.

BERTRAM. A pox on him! he's a cat still.

FIRST SOLDIER. His qualities being at this poor price, I need not to ask you if gold will corrupt him to revolt.

PAROLLES. Sir, for a quart d'ecu he will sell the fee-simple of his salvation, the inheritance of it; and cut the entail from all remainders and a perpetual succession for it perpetually.

FIRST SOLDIER. What's his brother, the other Captain Dumain?

SECOND LORD. Why does he ask him of me?


PAROLLES. E'en a crow o' the same nest; not altogether so great as the first in goodness, but greater a great deal in evil. He excels his brother for a coward, yet his brother is reputed one of the best that is; in a retreat he outruns any lackey: marry, in coming on he has the cramp.

FIRST SOLDIER. If your life be saved, will you undertake to betray the Florentine?

PAROLLES. Ay, and the captain of his horse, Count Rousillon.

FIRST SOLDIER. I'll whisper with the general, and know his pleasure.

PAROLLES. [Aside.] I'll no more drumming; a plague of all drums! Only to seem to deserve well, and to beguile the supposition of that lascivious young boy the count, have I run into this danger: yet who would have suspected an ambush where I was taken?

FIRST SOLDIER. There is no remedy, sir, but you must die: the general says you that have so traitorously discovered the secrets of your army, and made such pestiferous reports of men very nobly held, can serve the world for no honest use; therefore you must die. Come, headsman, off with his head.

PAROLLES. O Lord! sir, let me live, or let me see my death.

FIRST SOLDIER. That shall you, and take your leave of all your friends.

[Unmuffling him.]

So look about you; know you any here?

BERTRAM. Good morrow, noble captain.

SECOND LORD. God bless you, Captain Parolles.

FIRST LORD. God save you, noble captain.

SECOND LORD. Captain, what greeting will you to my Lord Lafeu? I am for France.

FIRST LORD. Good Captain, will you give me a copy of the sonnet you writ to Diana in behalf of the Count Rousillon? an I were not a very coward I'd compel it of you; but fare you well.

[Exeunt BERTRAM, Lords, &c.]

FIRST SOLDIER. You are undone, captain: all but your scarf; that has a knot on't yet.

PAROLLES. Who cannot be crushed with a plot?

FIRST SOLDIER. If you could find out a country where but women were that had received so much shame, you might begin an impudent nation. Fare ye well, sir; I am for France too: we shall speak of you there.


PAROLLES. Yet am I thankful: if my heart were great, 'Twould burst at this. Captain I'll be no more; But I will eat, and drink, and sleep as soft As captain shall: simply the thing I am Shall make me live. Who knows himself a braggart, Let him fear this; for it will come to pass That every braggart shall be found an ass. Rust, sword! cool, blushes! and, Parolles, live Safest in shame! being fool'd, by foolery thrive. There's place and means for every man alive. I'll after them.


SCENE 4. Florence. A room in the Widow's house.

[Enter HELENA, Widow, and DIANA.]

HELENA. That you may well perceive I have not wrong'd you! One of the greatest in the Christian world Shall be my surety; 'fore whose throne 'tis needful, Ere I can perfect mine intents, to kneel: Time was I did him a desired office, Dear almost as his life; which gratitude Through flinty Tartar's bosom would peep forth, And answer, thanks: I duly am informed His grace is at Marseilles; to which place We have convenient convoy. You must know I am supposed dead: the army breaking, My husband hies him home; where, heaven aiding, And by the leave of my good lord the king, We'll be before our welcome.

WIDOW. Gentle madam, You never had a servant to whose trust Your business was more welcome.

HELENA. Nor you, mistress, Ever a friend whose thoughts more truly labour To recompense your love: doubt not but heaven Hath brought me up to be your daughter's dower, As it hath fated her to be my motive And helper to a husband. But, O strange men! That can such sweet use make of what they hate, When saucy trusting of the cozen'd thoughts Defiles the pitchy night! so lust doth play With what it loathes, for that which is away: But more of this hereafter.—You, Diana, Under my poor instructions yet must suffer Something in my behalf.

DIANA. Let death and honesty Go with your impositions, I am yours Upon your will to suffer.

HELENA. Yet, I pray you: But with the word the time will bring on summer, When briers shall have leaves as well as thorns, And be as sweet as sharp. We must away; Our waggon is prepar'd, and time revives us: All's well that ends well: still the fine's the crown; Whate'er the course, the end is the renown.


SCENE 5. Rousillon. A room in the COUNTESS'S palace.


LAFEU. No, no, no, son was misled with a snipt-taffeta fellow there, whose villanous saffron would have made all the unbaked and doughy youth of a nation in his colour: your daughter-in-law had been alive at this hour, and your son here at home, more advanced by the king than by that red-tail'd humble-bee I speak of.

COUNTESS. I would I had not known him! It was the death of the most virtuous gentlewoman that ever nature had praise for creating: if she had partaken of my flesh, and cost me the dearest groans of a mother, I could not have owed her a more rooted love.

LAFEU. 'Twas a good lady, 'twas a good lady: we may pick a thousand salads ere we light on such another herb.

CLOWN. Indeed, sir, she was the sweet marjoram of the salad, or, rather, the herb of grace.

LAFEU. They are not salad-herbs, you knave; they are nose-herbs.

CLOWN. I am no great Nebuchadnezzar, sir; I have not much skill in grass.

LAFEU. Whether dost thou profess thyself,—a knave or a fool?

CLOWN. A fool, sir, at a woman's service, and a knave at a man's.

LAFEU. Your distinction?

CLOWN. I would cozen the man of his wife, and do his service.

LAFEU. So you were a knave at his service, indeed.

CLOWN. And I would give his wife my bauble, sir, to do her service.

LAFEU. I will subscribe for thee; thou art both knave and fool.

CLOWN. At your service.

LAFEU. No, no, no.

CLOWN. Why, sir, if I cannot serve you, I can serve as great a prince as you are.

LAFEU. Who's that? a Frenchman?

CLOWN. Faith, sir, 'a has an English name; but his phisnomy is more hotter in France than there.

LAFEU. What prince is that?

CLOWN. The black prince, sir; alias, the prince of darkness; alias, the devil.

LAFEU. Hold thee, there's my purse: I give thee not this to suggest thee from thy master thou talkest of; serve him still.

CLOWN. I am a woodland fellow, sir, that always loved a great fire; and the master I speak of ever keeps a good fire. But, sure, he is the prince of the world; let his nobility remain in his court. I am for the house with the narrow gate, which I take to be too little for pomp to enter: some that humble themselves may; but the many will be too chill and tender; and they'll be for the flow'ry way that leads to the broad gate and the great fire.

LAFEU. Go thy ways, I begin to be a-weary of thee; and I tell thee so before, because I would not fall out with thee. Go thy ways; let my horses be well looked to, without any tricks.

CLOWN. If I put any tricks upon 'em, sir, they shall be jades' tricks, which are their own right by the law of nature.


LAFEU. A shrewd knave, and an unhappy.

COUNTESS. So he is. My lord that's gone made himself much sport out of him; by his authority he remains here, which he thinks is a patent for his sauciness; and indeed he has no pace, but runs where he will.

LAFEU. I like him well; 'tis not amiss. And I was about to tell you, since I heard of the good lady's death, and that my lord your son was upon his return home, I moved the king my master to speak in the behalf of my daughter; which, in the minority of them both, his majesty out of a self-gracious remembrance did first propose: His highness hath promised me to do it; and, to stop up the displeasure he hath conceived against your son, there is no fitter matter. How does your ladyship like it?

COUNTESS. With very much content, my lord; and I wish it happily effected.

LAFEU. His highness comes post from Marseilles, of as able body as when he numbered thirty; he will be here to-morrow, or I am deceived by him that in such intelligence hath seldom failed.

COUNTESS. It rejoices me that I hope I shall see him ere I die. I have letters that my son will be here to-night: I shall beseech your lordship to remain with me till they meet together.

LAFEU. Madam, I was thinking with what manners I might safely be admitted.

COUNTESS. You need but plead your honourable privilege.

LAFEU. Lady, of that I have made a bold charter; but, I thank my God, it holds yet.

[Re-enter CLOWN.]

CLOWN. O madam, yonder's my lord your son with a patch of velvet on's face; whether there be a scar under it or no, the velvet knows; but 'tis a goodly patch of velvet: his left cheek is a cheek of two pile and a half, but his right cheek is worn bare.

LAFEU. A scar nobly got, or a noble scar, is a good livery of honour; so belike is that.

CLOWN. But it is your carbonadoed face.

LAFEU. Let us go see your son, I pray you; I long to talk with the young noble soldier.

CLOWN. Faith, there's a dozen of 'em, with delicate fine hats, and most courteous feathers, which bow the head and nod at every man.



SCENE 1. Marseilles. A street.

[Enter HELENA, Widow, and DIANA, with two Attendants.]

HELENA. But this exceeding posting day and night Must wear your spirits low: we cannot help it. But since you have made the days and nights as one, To wear your gentle limbs in my affairs, Be bold you do so grow in my requital As nothing can unroot you. In happy time;—

[Enter a GENTLEMAN.]

This man may help me to his majesty's ear, If he would spend his power.—God save you, sir.


HELENA. Sir, I have seen you in the court of France.

GENTLEMAN. I have been sometimes there.

HELENA. I do presume, sir, that you are not fallen From the report that goes upon your goodness; And therefore, goaded with most sharp occasions, Which lay nice manners by, I put you to The use of your own virtues, for the which I shall continue thankful.

GENTLEMAN. What's your will?

HELENA. That it will please you To give this poor petition to the king; And aid me with that store of power you have To come into his presence.

GENTLEMAN. The king's not here.

HELENA. Not here, sir?

GENTLEMAN. Not indeed. He hence remov'd last night, and with more haste Than is his use.

WIDOW. Lord, how we lose our pains!

HELENA. All's well that ends well yet, Though time seem so adverse and means unfit. I do beseech you, whither is he gone?

GENTLEMAN. Marry, as I take it, to Rousillon; Whither I am going.

HELENA. I do beseech you, sir, Since you are like to see the king before me, Commend the paper to his gracious hand; Which I presume shall render you no blame, But rather make you thank your pains for it: I will come after you with what good speed Our means will make us means.

GENTLEMAN. This I'll do for you.

HELENA. And you shall find yourself to be well thank'd, Whate'er falls more.—We must to horse again;— Go, go, provide.


SCENE 2. Rousillon. The inner court of the COUNTESS'S palace.


PAROLLES. Good Monsieur Lavache, give my Lord Lafeu this letter: I have ere now, sir, been better known to you, when I have held familiarity with fresher clothes; but I am now, sir, muddied in fortune's mood, and smell somewhat strong of her strong displeasure.

CLOWN. Truly, Fortune's displeasure is but sluttish, if it smell so strongly as thou speak'st of: I will henceforth eat no fish of fortune's buttering. Pr'ythee, allow the wind.

PAROLLES. Nay, you need not to stop your nose, sir; I spake but by a metaphor.

CLOWN. Indeed, sir, if your metaphor stink, I will stop my nose; or against any man's metaphor. Pr'ythee, get thee further.

PAROLLES. Pray you, sir, deliver me this paper.

CLOWN. Foh, pr'ythee stand away. A paper from Fortune's close-stool to give to a nobleman! Look here he comes himself.

[Enter LAFEU.]

Here is a pur of fortune's, sir, or of fortune's cat (but not a musk-cat), that has fallen into the unclean fishpond of her displeasure, and, as he says, is muddied withal: pray you, sir, use the carp as you may; for he looks like a poor, decayed, ingenious, foolish, rascally knave. I do pity his distress in my similes of comfort, and leave him to your lordship.


PAROLLES. My lord, I am a man whom fortune hath cruelly scratched.

LAFEU. And what would you have me to do? 'tis too late to pare her nails now. Wherein have you played the knave with fortune, that she should scratch you, who of herself is a good lady, and would not have knaves thrive long under her? There's a quart d'ecu for you: let the justices make you and fortune friends; I am for other business.

PAROLLES. I beseech your honour to hear me one single word.

LAFEU. You beg a single penny more: come, you shall ha't: save your word.

PAROLLES. My name, my good lord, is Parolles.

LAFEU. You beg more than word then.—Cox' my passion! give me your hand:—how does your drum?

PAROLLES. O my good lord, you were the first that found me.

LAFEU. Was I, in sooth? and I was the first that lost thee.

PAROLLES. It lies in you, my lord, to bring me in some grace, for you did bring me out.

LAFEU. Out upon thee, knave! dost thou put upon me at once both the office of God and the devil? one brings the in grace, and the other brings thee out.

[Trumpets sound.]

The king's coming; I know by his trumpets.—Sirrah, inquire further after me; I had talk of you last night: though you are a fool and a knave, you shall eat: go to; follow.

PAROLLES. I praise God for you.


SCENE 3. The same. A room in the COUNTESS'S palace.

[Flourish. Enter KING, COUNTESS, LAFEU, Lords, Gentlemen, Guards, &c.]

KING. We lost a jewel of her; and our esteem Was made much poorer by it: but your son, As mad in folly, lack'd the sense to know Her estimation home.

COUNTESS. 'Tis past, my liege: And I beseech your majesty to make it Natural rebellion, done i' the blaze of youth, When oil and fire, too strong for reason's force, O'erbears it and burns on.

KING. My honour'd lady, I have forgiven and forgotten all; Though my revenges were high bent upon him, And watch'd the time to shoot.

LAFEU. This I must say,— But first, I beg my pardon,—the young lord Did to his majesty, his mother, and his lady, Offence of mighty note; but to himself The greatest wrong of all: he lost a wife Whose beauty did astonish the survey Of richest eyes; whose words all ears took captive; Whose dear perfection hearts that scorn'd to serve Humbly call'd mistress.

KING. Praising what is lost Makes the remembrance dear.—Well, call him hither;— We are reconcil'd, and the first view shall kill All repetition:—let him not ask our pardon; The nature of his great offence is dead, And deeper than oblivion do we bury Th' incensing relics of it; let him approach, A stranger, no offender; and inform him, So 'tis our will he should.

GENTLEMAN. I shall, my liege.

[Exit Gentleman.]

KING. What says he to your daughter? have you spoke?

LAFEU. All that he is hath reference to your highness.

KING. Then shall we have a match. I have letters sent me That sets him high in fame.

[Enter BERTRAM.]

LAFEU. He looks well on 't.

KING. I am not a day of season, For thou mayst see a sunshine and a hail In me at once: but to the brightest beams Distracted clouds give way; so stand thou forth; The time is fair again.

BERTRAM. My high-repented blames, Dear sovereign, pardon to me.

KING. All is whole; Not one word more of the consumed time. Let's take the instant by the forward top; For we are old, and on our quick'st decrees The inaudible and noiseless foot of time Steals ere we can effect them. You remember The daughter of this lord?

BERTRAM. Admiringly, my liege: at first I stuck my choice upon her, ere my heart Durst make too bold herald of my tongue: Where the impression of mine eye infixing, Contempt his scornful perspective did lend me, Which warp'd the line of every other favour; Scorned a fair colour, or express'd it stolen; Extended or contracted all proportions To a most hideous object: thence it came That she whom all men prais'd, and whom myself, Since I have lost, have lov'd, was in mine eye The dust that did offend it.

KING. Well excus'd: That thou didst love her, strikes some scores away From the great compt: but love that comes too late, Like a remorseful pardon slowly carried, To the great sender turns a sour offence, Crying, That's good that's gone. Our rash faults Make trivial price of serious things we have, Not knowing them until we know their grave: Oft our displeasures, to ourselves unjust, Destroy our friends, and after weep their dust: Our own love waking cries to see what's done, While shameful hate sleeps out the afternoon. Be this sweet Helen's knell, and now forget her. Send forth your amorous token for fair Maudlin: The main consents are had; and here we'll stay To see our widower's second marriage-day.

COUNTESS. Which better than the first, O dear heaven, bless! Or, ere they meet, in me, O nature, cesse!

LAFEU. Come on, my son, in whom my house's name Must be digested, give a favour from you, To sparkle in the spirits of my daughter, That she may quickly come.—

[BERTRAM gives a ring to Lafeu.]

By my old beard, And every hair that's on 't, Helen, that's dead, Was a sweet creature: such a ring as this, The last that e'er I took her leave at court, I saw upon her finger.

BERTRAM. Hers it was not.

KING. Now, pray you, let me see it; for mine eye, While I was speaking, oft was fasten'd to it.— This ring was mine; and when I gave it Helen I bade her, if her fortunes ever stood Necessitied to help, that by this token I would relieve her. Had you that craft to 'reave her Of what should stead her most?

BERTRAM. My gracious sovereign, Howe'er it pleases you to take it so, The ring was never hers.

COUNTESS. Son, on my life, I have seen her wear it; and she reckon'd it At her life's rate.

LAFEU. I am sure I saw her wear it.

BERTRAM. You are deceiv'd, my lord; she never saw it: In Florence was it from a casement thrown me, Wrapp'd in a paper, which contain'd the name Of her that threw it: noble she was, and thought I stood engag'd: but when I had subscrib'd To mine own fortune, and inform'd her fully I could not answer in that course of honour As she had made the overture, she ceas'd, In heavy satisfaction, and would never Receive the ring again.

KING. Plutus himself, That knows the tinct and multiplying medicine, Hath not in nature's mystery more science Than I have in this ring: 'twas mine, 'twas Helen's, Whoever gave it you. Then, if you know That you are well acquainted with yourself, Confess 'twas hers, and by what rough enforcement You got it from her: she call'd the saints to surety That she would never put it from her finger Unless she gave it to yourself in bed,— Where you have never come,—or sent it us Upon her great disaster.

BERTRAM. She never saw it.

KING. Thou speak'st it falsely, as I love mine honour; And mak'st conjectural fears to come into me Which I would fain shut out. If it should prove That thou art so inhuman,—'twill not prove so:— And yet I know not:—thou didst hate her deadly. And she is dead; which nothing, but to close Her eyes myself, could win me to believe More than to see this ring.—Take him away.

[Guards seize BERTRAM.]

My fore-past proofs, howe'er the matter fall, Shall tax my fears of little vanity, Having vainly fear'd too little.—Away with him;— We'll sift this matter further.

BERTRAM. If you shall prove This ring was ever hers, you shall as easy Prove that I husbanded her bed in Florence, Where she yet never was.

[Exit, guarded.]

KING. I am wrapp'd in dismal thinkings.

[Enter a Gentleman.]

GENTLEMAN. Gracious sovereign, Whether I have been to blame or no, I know not: Here's a petition from a Florentine, Who hath, for four or five removes, come short To tender it herself. I undertook it, Vanquish'd thereto by the fair grace and speech Of the poor suppliant, who by this, I know, Is here attending: her business looks in her With an importing visage; and she told me In a sweet verbal brief, it did concern Your highness with herself.

KING. [Reads.] 'Upon his many protestations to marry me, when his wife was dead, I blush to say it, he won me. Now is the count Rousillon a widower; his vows are forfeited to me, and my honour's paid to him. He stole from Florence, taking no leave, and I follow him to his country for justice: grant it me, O king; in you it best lies; otherwise a seducer flourishes, and a poor maid is undone. DIANA CAPULET.'

LAFEU. I will buy me a son-in-law in a fair, and toll this: I'll none of him.

KING. The heavens have thought well on thee, Lafeu, To bring forth this discovery.—Seek these suitors:— Go speedily, and bring again the count.

[Exeunt Gentleman, and some Attendants.]

I am afeard the life of Helen, lady, Was foully snatch'd.

COUNTESS. Now, justice on the doers!

[Enter BERTRAM, guarded.]

KING. I wonder, sir, since wives are monsters to you. And that you fly them as you swear them lordship, Yet you desire to marry.—What woman's that?

[Re-enter Widow and DIANA.]

DIANA. I am, my lord, a wretched Florentine, Derived from the ancient Capulet; My suit, as I do understand, you know, And therefore know how far I may be pitied.

WIDOW. I am her mother, sir, whose age and honour Both suffer under this complaint we bring, And both shall cease, without your remedy.

KING. Come hither, count; do you know these women?

BERTRAM. My lord, I neither can nor will deny But that I know them: do they charge me further?

DIANA. Why do you look so strange upon your wife?

BERTRAM. She's none of mine, my lord.

DIANA. If you shall marry, You give away this hand, and that is mine; You give away heaven's vows, and those are mine; You give away myself, which is known mine; For I by vow am so embodied yours That she which marries you must marry me, Either both or none.

LAFEU. [To BERTRAM] Your reputation comes too short for my daughter; you are no husband for her.

BERTRAM. My lord, this is a fond and desperate creature Whom sometime I have laugh'd with: let your highness Lay a more noble thought upon mine honour Than for to think that I would sink it here.

KING. Sir, for my thoughts, you have them ill to friend Till your deeds gain them: fairer prove your honour Than in my thought it lies!

DIANA. Good my lord, Ask him upon his oath, if he does think He had not my virginity.

KING. What say'st thou to her?

BERTRAM. She's impudent, my lord; And was a common gamester to the camp.

DIANA. He does me wrong, my lord; if I were so He might have bought me at a common price: Do not believe him. O, behold this ring, Whose high respect and rich validity Did lack a parallel; yet, for all that, He gave it to a commoner o' the camp, If I be one.

COUNTESS. He blushes, and 'tis it: Of six preceding ancestors, that gem, Conferr'd by testament to the sequent issue, Hath it been ow'd and worn. This is his wife; That ring's a thousand proofs.

KING. Methought you said You saw one here in court could witness it.

DIANA. I did, my lord, but loath am to produce So bad an instrument; his name's Parolles.

LAFEU. I saw the man to-day, if man he be.

KING. Find him, and bring him hither.

[Exit an Attendant.]

BERTRAM. What of him? He's quoted for a most perfidious slave, With all the spots o' the world tax'd and debauch'd: Whose nature sickens but to speak a truth: Am I or that or this for what he'll utter, That will speak anything?

KING. She hath that ring of yours.

BERTRAM. I think she has: certain it is I lik'd her, And boarded her i' the wanton way of youth: She knew her distance, and did angle for me, Madding my eagerness with her restraint, As all impediments in fancy's course Are motives of more fancy; and, in fine, Her infinite cunning with her modern grace, Subdu'd me to her rate: she got the ring; And I had that which any inferior might At market-price have bought.

DIANA. I must be patient: You that have turn'd off a first so noble wife May justly diet me. I pray you yet,— Since you lack virtue, I will lose a husband,— Send for your ring, I will return it home, And give me mine again.

BERTRAM. I have it not.

KING. What ring was yours, I pray you?

DIANA. Sir, much like The same upon your finger.

KING. Know you this ring? this ring was his of late.

DIANA. And this was it I gave him, being a-bed.

KING. The story, then, goes false you threw it him Out of a casement.

DIANA. I have spoke the truth.

BERTRAM. My lord, I do confess the ring was hers.

KING. You boggle shrewdly; every feather starts you.—

[Re-enter Attendant, with PAROLLES.]

Is this the man you speak of?

DIANA. Ay, my lord.

KING. Tell me, sirrah, but tell me true I charge you, Not fearing the displeasure of your master,— Which, on your just proceeding, I'll keep off,— By him and by this woman here what know you?

PAROLLES. So please your majesty, my master hath been an honourable gentleman; tricks he hath had in him, which gentlemen have.

KING. Come, come, to the purpose: did he love this woman?

PAROLLES. Faith, sir, he did love her; but how?

KING. How, I pray you?

PAROLLES. He did love her, sir, as a gentleman loves a woman.

KING. How is that?

PAROLLES. He loved her, sir, and loved her not.

KING. As thou art a knave and no knave.— What an equivocal companion is this!

PAROLLES. I am a poor man, and at your majesty's command.

LAFEU. He's a good drum, my lord, but a naughty orator.

DIANA. Do you know he promised me marriage?

PAROLLES. Faith, I know more than I'll speak.

KING. But wilt thou not speak all thou know'st?

PAROLLES. Yes, so please your majesty; I did go between them, as I said; but more than that, he loved her,—for indeed he was mad for her, and talked of Satan, and of limbo, and of furies, and I know not what: yet I was in that credit with them at that time that I knew of their going to bed; and of other motions, as promising her marriage, and things which would derive me ill-will to speak of; therefore I will not speak what I know.

KING. Thou hast spoken all already, unless thou canst say they are married: but thou art too fine in thy evidence; therefore stand aside.—This ring, you say, was yours?

DIANA. Ay, my good lord.

KING. Where did you buy it? or who gave it you?

DIANA. It was not given me, nor I did not buy it.

KING. Who lent it you?

DIANA. It was not lent me neither.

KING. Where did you find it then?

DIANA. I found it not.

KING. If it were yours by none of all these ways, How could you give it him?

DIANA. I never gave it him.

LAFEU. This woman's an easy glove, my lord; she goes off and on at pleasure.

KING. This ring was mine, I gave it his first wife.

DIANA. It might be yours or hers, for aught I know.

KING. Take her away, I do not like her now; To prison with her: and away with him.— Unless thou tell'st me where thou hadst this ring, Thou diest within this hour.

DIANA. I'll never tell you.

KING. Take her away.

DIANA. I'll put in bail, my liege.

KING. I think thee now some common customer.

DIANA. By Jove, if ever I knew man, 'twas you.

KING. Wherefore hast thou accus'd him all this while?

DIANA. Because he's guilty, and he is not guilty: He knows I am no maid, and he'll swear to't: I'll swear I am a maid, and he knows not. Great King, I am no strumpet, by my life; I am either maid, or else this old man's wife.

[Pointing to LAFEU.]

KING. She does abuse our ears; to prison with her.

DIANA. Good mother, fetch my bail.—Stay, royal sir;

[Exit WIDOW.]

The jeweller that owes the ring is sent for, And he shall surety me. But for this lord Who hath abus'd me as he knows himself, Though yet he never harm'd me, here I quit him: He knows himself my bed he hath defil'd; And at that time he got his wife with child. Dead though she be, she feels her young one kick; So there's my riddle:—One that's dead is quick; And now behold the meaning.

[Re-enter Widow with HELENA.]

KING. Is there no exorcist Beguiles the truer office of mine eyes? Is't real that I see?

HELENA. No, my good lord; 'Tis but the shadow of a wife you see— The name, and not the thing.

BERTRAM. Both, both; O, pardon!

HELENA. O, my good lord, when I was like this maid; I found you wondrous kind. There is your ring, And, look you, here's your letter. This it says, 'When from my finger you can get this ring, And are by me with child, &c.'— This is done: Will you be mine now you are doubly won?

BERTRAM. If she, my liege, can make me know this clearly, I'll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly.

HELENA. If it appear not plain, and prove untrue, Deadly divorce step between me and you!— O my dear mother, do I see you living?

LAFEU. Mine eyes smell onions; I shall weep anon:— Good Tom Drum [to PAROLLES], lend me a handkercher: so, I thank thee; wait on me home, I'll make sport with thee: let thy courtesies alone, they are scurvy ones.

KING. Let us from point to point this story know, To make the even truth in pleasure flow:— If thou beest yet a fresh uncropped flower,


Choose thou thy husband, and I'll pay thy dower; For I can guess that, by thy honest aid, Thou kept'st a wife herself, thyself a maid. Of that and all the progress, more and less, Resolvedly more leisure shall express: All yet seems well; and if it end so meet, The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet.


The king's a beggar, now the play is done; All is well-ended if this suit be won, That you express content; which we will pay With strife to please you, day exceeding day: Ours be your patience then, and yours our parts; Your gentle hands lend us, and take our hearts.



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