All’s Well That Ends Well Shakespeare Drama

All’s Well That Ends Well Shakespeare Drama

Act 1

Countess. In delivering my son from me, I bury a second husband.

Bertram. And I in going, madam, weep o’er my father’s death

anew: but I must attend his majesty’s command, to5

whom I am now in ward, evermore in subjection.

Lafeu. 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 rather10

than lack it where there is such abundance.

Countess. What hope is there of his majesty’s amendment?

Lafeu. He hath abandoned his physicians, madam; under whose

practises he hath persecuted time with hope, and

finds no other advantage in the process but only the15

losing of hope by time.

Countess. 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 death20

should 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.

Lafeu. How called you the man you speak of, madam?

Countess. He was famous, sir, in his profession, and it was25

his great right to be so: Gerard de Narbon.

Lafeu. 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.30

Bertram. What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of?

Lafeu. A fistula, my lord.

Bertram. I heard not of it before.

Lafeu. I would it were not notorious. Was this gentlewoman

the daughter of Gerard de Narbon?35

Countess. 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 makes fair gifts fairer; for where

an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there40

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.

Lafeu. Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.

Countess. ‘Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise45

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 have it.50

Helena. I do affect a sorrow indeed, but I have it too.

Lafeu. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead,

excessive grief the enemy to the living.

Countess. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess

makes it soon mortal.55

Bertram. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.

Lafeu. How understand we that?

Countess. Be thou blest, Bertram, and succeed thy father

In manners, as in shape! thy blood and virtue

Contend for empire in thee, and thy goodness60

Share with thy birthright! Love all, trust a few,

Do wrong to none: be able for thine enemy

Rather in power than use, and keep thy friend

Under thy own life’s key: be cheque’d for silence,

But never tax’d for speech. What heaven more will,65

That thee may furnish and my prayers pluck down,

Fall on thy head! Farewell, my lord;

‘Tis an unseason’d courtier; good my lord,

Advise him.

Lafeu. He cannot want the best70

That shall attend his love.

Countess. Heaven bless him! Farewell, Bertram.

Bertram. [To HELENA] The best wishes that can be forged in

your thoughts be servants to you! Be comfortable75

to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her.

Lafeu. Farewell, pretty lady: you must hold the credit of

your father.

[Exeunt BERTRAM and LAFEU]

Helena. O, were that all! I think not on my father;80

And these great tears grace his remembrance more

Than those I shed for him. What was he like?

I have forgot him: my imagination

Carries no favour in’t but Bertram’s.

I am undone: there is no living, none,85

If Bertram be away. ‘Twere all one

That I should love a bright particular star

And think to wed it, he is so above me:

In his bright radiance and collateral light

Must I be comforted, not in his sphere.90

The ambition in my love thus plagues itself:

The hind that would be mated by the lion

Must die for love. ‘Twas pretty, though plague,

To see him every hour; to sit and draw

His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls,95

In our heart’s table; heart too capable

Of every line and trick of his sweet favour:

But now he’s gone, and my idolatrous fancy

Must sanctify his reliques. Who comes here?

[Enter PAROLLES]100

[Aside]

One that goes with him: I love him for his sake;

And yet I know him a notorious liar,

Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;

Yet these fixed evils sit so fit in him,105

That they take place, when virtue’s steely bones

Look bleak i’ the cold wind: withal, full oft we see

Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.

Parolles. Save you, fair queen!

Helena. And you, monarch!110

Parolles. No.

Helena. And no.

Parolles. Are you meditating on virginity?

Helena. Ay. You have some stain of soldier in you: let me

ask you a question. Man is enemy to virginity; how115

may we barricado it against him?

Parolles. Keep him out.

Helena. But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant,

in the defence yet is weak: unfold to us some

warlike resistance.120

Parolles. There is none: man, sitting down before you, will

undermine you and blow you up.

Helena. Bless our poor virginity from underminers and

blowers up! Is there no military policy, how

virgins might blow up men?125

Parolles. 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 commonwealth of nature to

preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational130

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 ‘t!135

Helena. I will stand for ‘t a little, though therefore I die a virgin.

Parolles. 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:140

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.145

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 loose

by’t: out with ‘t! within ten year it will make

itself ten, which is a goodly increase; and the150

principal itself not much the worse: away with ‘t!

Helena. How might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking?

Parolles. 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: off with ‘t155

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 the brooch and the tooth-pick, which wear not

now. Your date is better in your pie and your160

porridge than in your cheek; and your virginity,

your old virginity, is like one of our French

withered pears, it looks ill, it eats drily; marry,

’tis a withered pear; it was formerly better;

marry, yet ’tis a withered pear: will you anything with it?165

Helena. Not my virginity yet [—]

There shall your master have a thousand loves,

A mother and a mistress and a friend,

A phoenix, captain and an enemy,

A guide, a goddess, and a sovereign,170

A counsellor, a traitress, and a dear;

His humble ambition, proud humility,

His jarring concord, and his discord dulcet,

His faith, his sweet disaster; with a world

Of pretty, fond, adoptious christendoms,175

That blinking Cupid gossips. Now shall he—

I know not what he shall. God send him well!

The court’s a learning place, and he is one—

Parolles. What one, i’ faith?

Helena. That I wish well. ‘Tis pity—180

Parolles. What’s pity?

Helena. That wishing well had not a body in’t,

Which might be felt; that we, the poorer born,

Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes,

Might with effects of them follow our friends,185

And show what we alone must think, which never

Return us thanks.

[Enter Page]

Page. Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you.

[Exit]

Parolles. Little Helen, farewell; if I can remember thee, I

will think of thee at court.

Helena. Monsieur Parolles, you were born under a charitable star.

Parolles. Under Mars, I.

Helena. I especially think, under Mars.195

Parolles. Why under Mars?

Helena. The wars have so kept you under that you must needs

be born under Mars.

Parolles. When he was predominant.

Helena. When he was retrograde, I think, rather.200

Parolles. Why think you so?

Helena. You go so much backward when you fight.

Parolles. That’s for advantage.

Helena. So is running away, when fear proposes the safety;

but the composition that your valour and fear makes205

in you is a virtue of a good wing, and I like the wear well.

Parolles. I am so full of businesses, I cannot answer thee

acutely. I will return perfect courtier; in the

which, my instruction shall serve to naturalize

thee, so thou wilt be capable of a courtier’s210

counsel and understand what advice shall thrust upon

thee; else thou diest in thine unthankfulness, and

thine ignorance makes thee away: farewell. When

thou hast leisure, say thy prayers; when thou hast

none, remember thy friends; get thee a good husband,215

and use him as he uses thee; so, farewell.

[Exit]

Helena. Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,

Which we ascribe to heaven: the fated sky

Gives us free scope, only doth backward pull220

Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.

What power is it which mounts my love so high,

That makes me see, and cannot feed mine eye?

The mightiest space in fortune nature brings

To join like likes and kiss like native things.225

Impossible be strange attempts to those

That weigh their pains in sense and do suppose

What hath been cannot be: who ever strove

So show her merit, that did miss her love?

The king’s disease—my project may deceive me,230

But my intents are fix’d and will not leave me.

Act I Scene II

King of France. The Florentines and Senoys are by the ears;
Have fought with equal fortune and continue
A braving war.

First Lord. So ’tis reported, sir.

King of France. Nay, ’tis most credible; we here received it
A certainty, vouch’d from our cousin Austria,
With caution that the Florentine will move us
For speedy aid; wherein our dearest friend
Prejudicates the business and would seem
To have us make denial.

First Lord. His love and wisdom,
Approved so to your majesty, may plead
For amplest credence.

King of France. He hath arm’d our answer,
And Florence is denied before he comes:
Yet, for our gentlemen that mean to see
The Tuscan service, freely have they leave
To stand on either part.

Second Lord. It well may serve
A nursery to our gentry, who are sick
For breathing and exploit.

King of France. What’s he comes here?

First Lord. It is the Count Rousillon, my good lord,
Young Bertram.

King of France. Youth, thou bear’st thy father’s face;
Frank nature, rather curious than in haste,
Hath well composed thee. Thy father’s moral parts
Mayst thou inherit too! Welcome to Paris.

Bertram. My thanks and duty are your majesty’s.

King of France. I would I had that corporal soundness now,
As when thy father and myself in friendship
First tried our soldiership! He did look far
Into the service of the time and was
Discipled of the bravest: he lasted long;
But on us both did haggish age steal on
And wore us out of act. It much repairs me
To talk of your good father. In his youth
He had the wit which I can well observe
To-day in our young lords; but they may jest
Till their own scorn return to them unnoted
Ere they can hide their levity in honor;
So like a courtier, contempt nor bitterness
Were in his pride or sharpness; if they were,
His equal had awaked them, and his honour,
Clock to itself, knew the true minute when
Exception bid him speak, and at this time
His tongue obey’d his hand: who were below him
He used as creatures of another place
And bow’d his eminent top to their low ranks,
Making them proud of his humility,
In their poor praise he humbled. Such a man
Might be a copy to these younger times;
Which, follow’d well, would demonstrate them now
But goers backward.

Bertram. His good remembrance, sir,
Lies richer in your thoughts than on his tomb;
So in approof lives not his epitaph
As in your royal speech.

King of France. Would I were with him! He would always say—
Methinks I hear him now; his plausive words
He scatter’d not in ears, but grafted them,
To grow there and to bear,—’Let me not live,’—
This his good melancholy oft began,
On the catastrophe and heel of pastime,
When it was out,—’Let me not live,’ quoth he,
‘After my flame lacks oil, to be the snuff
Of younger spirits, whose apprehensive senses
All but new things disdain; whose judgments are
Mere fathers of their garments; whose constancies
Expire before their fashions.’ This he wish’d;
I after him do after him wish too,
Since I nor wax nor honey can bring home,
I quickly were dissolved from my hive,
To give some labourers room.

Second Lord. You are loved, sir:
They that least lend it you shall lack you first.

King of France. I fill a place, I know’t. How long is’t, count,
Since the physician at your father’s died?
He was much famed.

Bertram. Some six months since, my lord.

King of France. If he were living, I would try him yet.
Lend me an arm; the rest have worn me out
With several applications; nature and sickness
Debate it at their leisure. Welcome, count;
My son’s no dearer.

Bertram. Thank your majesty.

Act I Scene III

Countess. I will now hear; what say you of this gentlewoman?

Steward. Madam, the care I have had to even your content, wish might be found in the calendar of my past endeavours; for then we wound our modesty and make foul the clearness of our deservings, when of ourselves we publish them.

Countess. What does this knave here? Get you gone, sirra the complaints I have heard of you I do not all believe: ’tis my slowness that I do not; for I know you lack not folly to commit them, and have ability enough to make such knaveries yours.

Clown. ‘Tis not unknown to you, madam, I am a poor fellow.

Countess. Well, sir.

Clown. No, madam, ’tis not so well that I am poor, though many of the rich are damned: but, if I may have your ladyship’s good will to go to the world, Isbel the woman and I will do as we may.

Countess. Wilt thou needs be a beggar?

Clown. I do beg your good will in this case.

Countess. In what case?

Clown. In Isbel’s case and mine own. Service is no heritage: and I think I shall never have the blessing of God till I have issue o’ my body; for they say barnes are blessings.

Countess. Tell me thy reason why thou wilt marry.

Clown. My poor body, madam, requires it: I am driven on by the flesh; and he must needs go that the devil drives.

Countess. Is this all your worship’s reason?

Clown. Faith, madam, I have other holy reasons such as they are.

Countess. May the world know them?

Clown. I have been, madam, a wicked creature, as you and all flesh and blood are; and, indeed, I do marry that I may repent.

Countess. Thy marriage, sooner than thy wickedness.

Clown. I am out o’ friends, madam; and I hope to have friends for my wife’s sake.

Countess. Such friends are thine enemies, knave.

Clown. You’re shallow, madam, in great friends; for the knaves come to do that for me which I am aweary of. He that ears my land spares my team and gives me leave to in the crop; if I be his cuckold, he’s my drudge: he that comforts my wife is the cherisher of my flesh and blood; he that cherishes my flesh and blood loves my flesh and blood; he that loves my flesh and blood is my friend: ergo, he that kisses my wife is my friend. If men could be contented to be what they are, there were no fear in marriage; for young Charbon the Puritan and old Poysam thePapist, howsome’er their hearts are severed in religion, their heads are both one; they may jowl horns together, like any deer i’ the herd.

Countess. Wilt thou ever be a foul-mouthed and calumnious knave?

Clown. A prophet I, madam; and I speak the truth the next way:

For I the ballad will repeat,

Which men full true shall find;

Your marriage comes by destiny,

Your cuckoo sings by kind.

Countess. Get you gone, sir; I’ll talk with you more anon.

Steward. May it please you, madam, that he bid Helen come to

you: of her I am to speak.

Countess. Sirrah, tell my gentlewoman I would speak with her;

Helen, I mean.

Clown. Was this fair face the cause, quoth she,

Why the Grecians sacked Troy?

Fond done, done fond,

Was this King Priam’s joy?

With that she sighed as she stood,

And gave this sentence then; Among nine bad if one be good, There’s yet one good in ten.

Countess. What, one good in ten? you corrupt the song, sirrah.

Clown. One good woman in ten, madam; which is a purifying o’ the song: would God would serve the world so all the year! we’ld find no fault with the tithe-woman, if I were the parson. One in ten, quoth a’! An we might have a good woman born but one every blazing star, or at an earthquake, ‘twould mend the lottery

well: a man may draw his heart out, ere a’ pluck one.

Countess. You’ll be gone, sir knave, and do as I command you.

Clown. That man should be at woman’s command, and yet no hurt done! Though honesty be no puritan, yet it will do no hurt; it will wear the surplice of humility over the black gown of a big heart. I am going, forsooth: the business is for Helen to come hither.

Countess. Well, now.

Steward. I know, madam, you love your gentlewoman entirely.

Countess. Faith, I do: her father bequeathed her to me; and she herself, without other advantage, may lawfully make title to as much love as she finds: there is more owing her than is paid; and more shall be paid her than she’ll demand.

Steward. Madam, I was very late more near her than I think she wished me: alone she was, and did communicate to herself her own words to her own ears; she thought, I dare vow for her, they touched not any stranger sense. Her matter was, she loved your son

Fortune, she said, was no goddess, that had put such difference betwixt their two estates; Love no god, that would not extend his might, only where qualities were level; Dian no queen of virgins, that would suffer her poor knight surprised, without rescue in the first assault or ransom afterward. This she delivered in the most bitter touch of sorrow that e’er I heard virgin exclaim in: which I held my duty speedily to acquaint you withal; sithence, in the loss that may happen, it concerns435

you something to know it.

Countess. You have discharged this honestly; keep it to

yourself: many likelihoods informed me of this before, which hung so tottering in the balance that I could neither believe nor misdoubt. Pray you, leave me: stall this in your bosom; and I thank you for your honest care: I will speak with you further anon.

[Exit Steward]

[Enter HELENA]

Even so it was with me when I was young If ever we are nature’s, these are ours; this thorn Doth to our rose of youth rightly belong; Our blood to us, this to our blood is born; It is the show and seal of nature’s truth, Where love’s strong passion is impress’d in youth: By our remembrances of days foregone, Such were our faults, or then we thought them none.Her eye is sick on’t: I observe her now.

Helena. What is your pleasure, madam?

Countess. You know, Helen, I am a mother to you.

Helena. Mine honourable mistress.

Countess. Nay, a mother: Why not a mother? When I said ‘a mother,’ Methought you saw a serpent: what’s in ‘mother,’ That you start at it? I say, I am your mother; And put you in the catalogue of those That were enwombed mine: ’tis often seen Adoption strives with nature and choice breeds A native slip to us from foreign seeds:

You ne’er oppress’d me with a mother’s groan,

Yet I express to you a mother’s care:

God’s mercy, maiden! does it curd thy blood

To say I am thy mother? What’s the matter,

That this distemper’d messenger of wet,

The many-colour’d Iris, rounds thine eye?

Why? that you are my daughter?

Helena. That I am not.

Countess. I say, I am your mother.

Helena. Pardon, madam;

The Count Rousillon cannot be my brother:

I am from humble, he from honour’d name;

No note upon my parents, his all noble:

My master, my dear lord he is; and I

His servant live, and will his vassal die:

He must not be my brother.

Countess. Nor I your mother?

Helena. You are my mother, madam; would you were,—

So that my lord your son were not my brother,—

Indeed my mother! or were you both our mothers,

I care no more for than I do for heaven,

So I were not his sister. Can’t no other,

But, I your daughter, he must be my brother?

Countess. Yes, Helen, you might be my daughter-in-law:

God shield you mean it not! daughter and mother

So strive upon your pulse. What, pale again?

My fear hath catch’d your fondness: now I see

The mystery of your loneliness, and find

Your salt tears’ head: now to all sense ’tis gross

You love my son; invention is ashamed,

Against the proclamation of thy passion,

To say thou dost not: therefore tell me true;

But tell me then, ’tis so; for, look thy cheeks

Confess it, th’ one to th’ other; and thine eyes

See it so grossly shown in thy behaviors

That in their kind they speak it: only sin

And hellish obstinacy tie thy tongue,

That truth should be suspected. Speak, is’t so?

If it be so, you have wound a goodly clew;

If it be not, forswear’t: howe’er, I charge thee, As heaven shall work in me for thine avail,

Tell me truly.

Helena. Good madam, pardon me!

Countess. Do you love my son?

Helena. Your pardon, noble mistress!

Countess. Love you my son?

Helena. Do not you love him, madam?

Countess. Go not about; my love hath in’t a bond,

Whereof the world takes note: come, come, disclose

The state of your affection; for your passions

Have to the full appeach’d.

Helena. Then, I confess,

Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,

That before you, and next unto high heaven,

I love your son.

My friends were poor, but honest; so’s my love:

Be not offended; for it hurts not him

That he is loved of me: 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.

I know I love in vain, strive against hope;

Yet in this captious and intenible sieve

I still pour in the waters of my love

And lack not to lose still: thus, Indian-like,

Religious in mine error, I adore

The sun, that looks upon his worshipper,

But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,

Let not your hate encounter with my love

For loving where you do: but if yourself,

Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,

Did ever in so true a flame of liking

Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian

Was both herself and love: O, then, give pity

To her, whose state is such that cannot choose

But lend and give where she is sure to lose;

That seeks not to find that her search implies,

But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies!

Countess. Had you not lately an intent,—speak truly,—

To go to Paris?

Helena. Madam, I had.

Countess. Wherefore? tell true.

Helena. I will tell truth; by grace itself I swear. You know my father left me some prescriptions Of rare and proved effects, such as his reading And manifest experience had collected For general sovereignty; and that he will’d me In heedfull’st reservation to bestow them, As notes whose faculties inclusive were More than they were in note: amongst the rest, There is a remedy, approved, set down, To cure the desperate languishings where of The king is render’d lost.

Countess. This was your motive For Paris, was it? speak.

Helena. My lord your son made me to think of this; Else Paris and the medicine and the king Had from the conversation of my thoughts Haply been absent then.

Countess. But think you, Helen, If you should tender your supposed aid,He would receive it? he and his physicians Are of a mind; he, that they cannot help him, They, that they cannot help: how shall they credit A poor unlearned virgin, when the schools, Embowell’d of their doctrine, have left offThe danger to itself?

Helena. There’s something in’t, More than my father’s skill, which was the greatest Of his profession, that his good receipt Shall for my legacy be sanctified By the luckiest stars in heaven: and, would your honour But give me leave to try success, I’ld venture The well-lost life of mine on his grace’s cure By such a day and hour.

Countess. Dost thou believe’t?

Helena. Ay, madam, knowingly.

Countess. Why, Helen, thou shalt have my leave and love, Means and attendants and my loving greetings To those of mine in court: I’ll stay at home And pray God’s blessing into thy attempt, Be gone to-morrow; and be sure of this,

What I can help thee to thou shalt not miss.

Act II Scene I

King of France. Farewell, young lords; these warlike principles Do not throw from you: and you, my lords, farewell: Share the advice betwixt you; if both gain, all The gift doth stretch itself as ’tis received, And is enough for both.

First Lord. ‘Tis our hope, sir After well enter’d soldiers, to return And find your grace in health.King of France. No, no, it cannot be; and yet my heart Will not confess he owes the malady That doth my life besiege. Farewell, young lords; Whether I live or die, be you the sons Of worthy Frenchmen: let higher Italy,Those bated that inherit but the fall Of the last monarchy,—see that you come Not to woo honour, but to wed it; when The bravest questant shrinks, find what you seek, That fame may cry you loud: I say, farewell.Second LordHealth, at your bidding, serve your majesty!

King of France. Those girls of Italy, take heed of them:
They say, our French lack language to deny,
If they demand: beware of being captives,
Before you serve. BothOur hearts receive your warnings.

King of France. Farewell. Come hither to me.

[Exit, attended]

First Lord. O, my sweet lord, that you will stay behind us!

Parolles. ‘Tis not his fault, the spark.

Second Lord. O, ’tis brave wars!

Parolles. Most admirable: I have seen those wars.

Bertram. I am commanded here, and kept a coil with
‘Too young’ and ‘the next year’ and ’tis too early.’

Parolles. An thy mind stand to’t, boy, steal away bravely.

Bertram. I shall stay here the forehorse to a smock, Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry,
Till honour be bought up and no sword worn But one to dance with! By heaven, I’ll steal away.

First Lord. There’s honour in the theft.

Parolles. Commit it, count.

Second Lord. I am your accessary; and so, farewell.

Bertram. I grow to you, and our parting is a tortured body.

First Lord. Farewell, captain.

Second Lord. Sweet Monsieur Parolles

Parolles. Noble heroes, my sword and yours are kin. Good
sparks and lustrous, a word, good metals: you shall
find in the regiment of the Spinii one Captain
Spurio, with his cicatrice, an emblem of war, here
on his sinister cheek; it was this very sword entrenched it: say to him, I live; and observe his
reports for me.

First Lord. We shall, noble captain.

[Exeunt Lords]

Parolles. Mars dote on you for his novices! what will ye do?

Bertram. Stay: the king.

[Re-enter KING. BERTRAM and PAROLLES retire]

Parolles. [To BERTRAM] Use a more spacious ceremony to the noble lords; you have restrained yourself within the list of too cold an adieu: be more expressive to them: for they wear themselves in the cap of the time, there do muster true gait, eat, speak, and move under the influence of the most received star; and though the devil lead the measure, such are to be followed: after them, and take a more dilated farewell.

Bertram. And I will do so.

Parolles. Worthy fellows; and like to prove most sinewy sword-men.

[Exeunt BERTRAM and PAROLLES]

[Enter LAFEU]

Lafeu. [Kneeling] Pardon, my lord, for me and for my tidings.

King of France. I’ll fee thee to stand up.

Lafeu. Then here’s a man stands, that has brought his pardon.
I would you had kneel’d, my lord, to ask me mercy,
And that at my bidding you could so stand up.

King of France. I would I had; so I had broke thy pate,
And ask’d thee mercy for’t.

Lafeu. Good faith, across: but, my good lord ’tis thus;
Will you be cured of your infirmity?

King of France. No.

Lafeu. O, will you eat no grapes, my royal fox?
Yes, but you will my noble grapes, an if
My royal fox could reach them: I have seen a medicine
That’s able to breathe life into a stone,
Quicken a rock, and make you dance canary
With spritely fire and motion; whose simple touch,
Is powerful to araise King Pepin, nay,
To give great Charlemain a pen in’s hand,
And write to her a love-line.

King of France. What ‘her’ is this?

Lafeu. Why, Doctor She: my lord, there’s one arrived,If you will see her: now, by my faith and honour If seriously I may convey my thoughts In this my light deliverance, I have spoke With one that, in her sex, her years, profession, Wisdom and constancy, hath amazed me more
Than I dare blame my weakness: will you see her For that is her demand, and know her business?
That done, laugh well at me.

King of France. Now, good Lafeu,Bring in the admiration; that we with thee May spend our wonder too, or take off thine By wondering how thou took’st it.

Lafeu. Nay, I’ll fit you, And not be all day neither.

[Exit]

King of France. Thus he his special nothing ever prologues.

[Re-enter LAFEU, with HELENA]

Lafeu. Nay, come your ways.

King of France. This haste hath wings indeed.

Lafeu. Nay, come your ways: This is his majesty; say your mind to him: A traitor you do look like; but such traitors His majesty seldom fears: I am Cressid’s uncle, That dare leave two together; fare you well.

King of France. Now, fair one, does your business follow us?

Helena. Ay, my good lord. Gerard de Narbon was my father; In what he did profess, well found.

King of France. I knew him.

Helena. The rather will I spare my praises towards him: Knowing him is enough. On’s bed of death Many receipts he gave me: chiefly one. Which, as the dearest issue of his practise, And of his old experience the oily darling,He bade me store up, as a triple eye, Safer than mine own two, more dear; I have so; And hearing your high majesty is touch’d With that malignant cause wherein the honour Of my dear father’s gift stands chief in power,I come to tender it and my appliance With all bound humbleness.

King of France. We thank you, maiden; But may not be so credulous of cure, When our most learned doctors leave us and The congregated college have concluded That labouring art can never ransom nature From her inaidible estate; I say we must not So stain our judgment, or corrupt our hope, To prostitute our past-cure malady To empirics, or to dissever so Our great self and our credit, to esteem A senseless help when help past sense we deem.

Helena. My duty then shall pay me for my pains: I will no more enforce mine office on you. Humbly entreating from your royal thoughts A modest one, to bear me back a again.

King of France. I cannot give thee less, to be call’d grateful: Thou thought’st to help me; and such thanks I give As one near death to those that wish him live:But what at full I know, thou know’st no part, I knowing all my peril, thou no art.

Helena. What I can do can do no hurt to try,Since you set up your rest ‘gainst remedy.
He that of greatest works is finisher Oft does them by the weakest minister: So holy writ in babes hath judgment shown,When judges have been babes; great floods have flown
From simple sources, and great seas have dried
When miracles have by the greatest been denied.
Oft expectation fails and most oft there
Where most it promises, and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest and despair most fits.

King of France. I must not hear thee; fare thee well, kind maid; Thy pains not used must by thyself be paid: Proffers not took reap thanks for their reward.

Helena. Inspired merit so by breath is barr’d: It is not so with Him that all things knows As ’tis with us that square our guess by shows; But most it is presumption in us when help of heaven we count the act of men. Dear sir, to my endeavours give consent; Of heaven, not me, make an experiment.
I am not an impostor that proclaim Myself against the level of mine aim;But know I think and think I know most sure My art is not past power nor you past cure.

King of France. Are thou so confident? within what space Hopest thou my cure?

Helena. The great’st grace lending grace Ere twice the horses of the sun shall bring Their fiery torcher his diurnal ring, Ere twice in murk and occidental damp Moist Hesperus hath quench’d his sleepy lamp, Or four and twenty times the pilot’s glass Hath told the thievish minutes how they pass,
What is infirm from your sound parts shall fly, Health shall live free and sickness freely die.

King of France. Upon thy certainty and confidence What darest thou venture?

Helena. Tax of impudence, A strumpet’s boldness, a divulged shame Traduced by odious ballads: my maiden’s name Sear’d otherwise; nay, worse—if worse—extended With vilest torture let my life be ended.

King of France. Methinks in thee some blessed spirit doth speak His powerful sound within an organ weak: And what impossibility would slayIn common sense, sense saves another way.
Thy life is dear; for all that life can rate Worth name of life in thee hath estimate, Youth, beauty, wisdom, courage, all That happiness and prime can happy call: Thou this to hazard needs must intimate Skill infinite or monstrous desperate. Sweet practiser, thy physic I will try, That ministers thine own death if I die.

Helena. If I break time, or flinch in property Of what I spoke, unpitied let me die, And well deserved: not helping, death’s my fee; But, if I help, what do you promise me?

King of France. Make thy demand.

Helena. But will you make it even?

King of France. Ay, by my sceptre and my hopes of heaven.

Helena. Then shalt thou give me with thy kingly hand ,What husband in thy power I will command: Exempted be from me the arrogance To choose from forth the royal blood of France,My low and humble name to propagate With any branch or image of thy state; But such a one, thy vassal, whom I know Is free for me to ask, thee to bestow.

King of France. Here is my hand; the premises observed, Thy will by my performance shall be served: So make the choice of thy own time, for I, Thy resolved patient, on thee still rely. More should I question thee, and more I must, Though more to know could not be more to trust,
From whence thou camest, how tended on: but rest Unquestion’d welcome and undoubted blest.Give me some help here, ho! If thou proceed As high as word, my deed shall match thy meed.

Act II, Scene 2

[Enter COUNTESS and Clown]

Countess. Come on, sir; I shall now put you to the height of your breeding.

Clown. I will show myself highly fed and lowly taught: I know my business is but to the court.

Countess. To the court! why, what place make you special, when you put off that with such contempt? But to the court!

Clown. Truly, madam, if God have lent a man any manners, he may easily put it off at court: he that cannot make a leg, put off’s cap, kiss his hand and say nothing, has neither leg, hands, lip, nor cap; and indeed such a fellow, to say precisely, were not for the court; but for me, I have an answer will serve all men.

Countess. Marry, that’s a bountiful answer that fits all questions.

Clown. It is like a barber’s chair that fits all buttocks, the pin-buttock, the quatch-buttock, the brawn

buttock, or any buttock.

Countess. Will your answer serve fit to all questions?

Clown. As fit as ten groats is for the hand of an attorney, as your French crown for your taffeta punk, as Tib’s rush for Tom’s forefinger, as a pancake for Shrove Tuesday, a morris for May-day, as the nail to his hole, the cuckold to his horn, as a scolding queen to a wrangling knave, as the nun’s lip to the

friar’s mouth, nay, as the pudding to his skin. Countess. Have you, I say, an answer of such fitness for all

questions?

Clown. From below your duke to beneath your constable, it will fit any question.

Countess. It must be an answer of most monstrous size that must fit all demands.

Clown. But a trifle neither, in good faith, if the learned should speak truth of it: here it is, and all that

belongs to’t. Ask me if I am a courtier: it shall do you no harm to learn.

Countess. To be young again, if we could: I will be a fool in question, hoping to be the wiser by your answer. I pray you, sir, are you a courtier?

Clown. O Lord, sir! There’s a simple putting off. More,

more, a hundred of them.

Countess. Sir, I am a poor friend of yours, that loves you.

Clown. O Lord, sir! Thick, thick, spare not me.

Countess. I think, sir, you can eat none of this homely meat.

Clown. O Lord, sir! Nay, put me to’t, I warrant you.

Countess. You were lately whipped, sir, as I think.

Clown. O Lord, sir! spare not me.

Countess. Do you cry, ‘O Lord, sir!’ at your whipping, and ‘spare not me?’ Indeed your ‘O Lord, sir!’ is very sequent to your whipping: you would answer very well to a whipping, if you were but bound to’t.

Clown. I ne’er had worse luck in my life in my ‘O Lord,

sir!’ I see things may serve long, but not serve ever.

Countess. I play the noble housewife with the time To entertain’t so merrily with a fool.

Clown. O Lord, sir! why, there’t serves well again.

Countess. An end, sir; to your business. Give Helen this, And urge her to a present answer back: Commend me to my kinsmen and my son:

This is not much.

Clown. Not much commendation to them.

Countess. Not much employment for you: you understand me?

Clown. Most fruitfully: I am there before my legs.

Countess. Haste you again.

[Exeunt severally]

Act II, Scene 4

[Enter HELENA and Clown]Helena. My mother greets me kindly; is she well?

Clown. She is not well; but yet she has her health: she’s
very merry; but yet she is not well: but thanks be
given, she’s very well and wants nothing i’, the
world; but yet she is not well.

Helena. If she be very well, what does she ail, that she’s
not very well?

Clown. Truly, she’s very well indeed, but for two things.

Helena. What two things?

Clown. One, that she’s not in heaven, whither God send her
quickly! the other that she’s in earth, from whence
God send her quickly!

[Enter PAROLLES]Parolles. Bless you, my fortunate lady!

Helena. I hope, sir, I have your good will to have mine own
good fortunes.

Parolles. You had my prayers to lead them on; and to keep them
on, have them still. O, my knave, how does my old lady?

Clown. So that you had her wrinkles and I her money,
I would she did as you say.

Parolles. Why, I say nothing.

Clown. Marry, you are the wiser man; for many a man’s
tongue shakes out his master’s undoing: to say
nothing, to do nothing, to know nothing, and to have
nothing, is to be a great part of your title; which
is within a very little of nothing.

Parolles. Away! thou’rt a knave.

Clown. You should have said, sir, before a knave thou’rt a
knave; that’s, before me thou’rt a knave: this had
been truth, sir.

Parolles. Go to, thou art a witty fool; I have found thee.

Clown. Did you find me in yourself, sir? or were you
taught to find me? The search, sir, was profitable;
and much fool may you find in you, even to the
world’s pleasure and the increase of laughter.

Parolles. A good knave, i’ faith, and well fed.
Madam, my lord will go away to-night;
A very serious business calls on him.
The great prerogative and rite of love,
Which, as your due, time claims, he does acknowledge;
But puts it off to a compell’d restraint;
Whose want, and whose delay, is strew’d with sweets,
Which they distil now in the curbed time,
To make the coming hour o’erflow with joy
And pleasure drown the brim.

Helena. What’s his will else?

Parolles. That you will take your instant leave o’ the king
And make this haste as your own good proceeding,
Strengthen’d with what apology you think
May make it probable need.

Helena. What more commands he?

Parolles. That, having this obtain’d, you presently
Attend his further pleasure.

Helena. In every thing I wait upon his will.

Parolles. I shall report it so.

Helena. I pray you.
[Exit PAROLLES]
Come, sirrah.

[Exeunt]

Act II, Scene 5

Paris. The KING’s palace

Lafeu. But I hope your lordship thinks not him a soldier. BertramYes, my lord, and of very valiant approof.

LafeuYou have it from his own deliverance.

BertramAnd by other warranted testimony.

LafeuThen my dial goes not true: I took this lark for a bunting.

BertramI do assure you, my lord, he is very great in
knowledge and accordingly valiant.

LafeuI have then sinned against his experience and
transgressed against his valour; and my state that
way is dangerous, since I cannot yet find in my
heart to repent. Here he comes: I pray you, make
us friends; I will pursue the amity.

[Enter PAROLLES]

  • Parolles[To BERTRAM] These things shall be done, sir.
  • LafeuPray you, sir, who’s his tailor?
  • ParollesSir?
  • LafeuO, I know him well, I, sir; he, sir, ‘s a good
    workman, a very good tailor.
  • Bertram[Aside to PAROLLES] Is she gone to the king?
  • ParollesShe is.
  • BertramWill she away to-night?
  • ParollesAs you’ll have her.
  • BertramI have writ my letters, casketed my treasure,
    Given order for our horses; and to-night,
    When I should take possession of the bride,
    End ere I do begin.
  • LafeuA good traveller is something at the latter end of a
    dinner; but one that lies three thirds and uses a
    known truth to pass a thousand nothings with, should
    be once heard and thrice beaten. God save you, captain.
  • BertramIs there any unkindness between my lord and you, monsieur?
  • ParollesI know not how I have deserved to run into my lord’s
    displeasure.
  • LafeuYou have made shift to run into ‘t, boots and spurs
    and all, like him that leaped into the custard; and
    out of it you’ll run again, rather than suffer1300
    question for your residence.
  • BertramIt may be you have mistaken him, my lord.
  • LafeuAnd shall do so ever, though I took him at ‘s
    prayers. Fare you well, my lord; and believe this
    of me, there can be no kernel in this light nut; the1305
    soul of this man is his clothes. Trust him not in
    matter of heavy consequence; I have kept of them
    tame, and know their natures. Farewell, monsieur:
    I have spoken better of you than you have or will to
    deserve at my hand; but we must do good against evil.1310

[Exit]ParollesAn idle lord. I swear.

BertramI think so.

ParollesWhy, do you not know him?

BertramYes, I do know him well, and common speech
Gives him a worthy pass. Here comes my clog.

[Enter HELENA]HelenaI have, sir, as I was commanded from you,
Spoke with the king and have procured his leave
For present parting; only he desires
Some private speech with you.

BertramI shall obey his will.
You must not marvel, Helen, at my course,
Which holds not colour with the time, nor does
The ministration and required office
On my particular. Prepared I was not
For such a business; therefore am I found
So much unsettled: this drives me to entreat you
That presently you take our way for home;
And rather muse than ask why I entreat yo
For my respects are better than they seem
And my appointments have in them a need
Greater than shows itself at the first view
To you that know them not. This to my mother:
[Giving a letter]
‘Twill be two days ere I shall see you, so
I leave you to your wisdom.

HelenaSir, I can nothing say,
But that I am your most obedient servant.

BertramCome, come, no more of that.

HelenaAnd ever shall
With true observance seek to eke out that
Wherein toward me my homely stars have fail’d
To equal my great fortune.

BertramLet that go:
My haste is very great: farewell; hie home.

HelenaPray, sir, your pardon.

BertramWell, what would you say?

HelenaI am not worthy of the wealth I owe,
Nor dare I say ’tis mine, and yet it is;
But, like a timorous thief, most fain would steal
What law does vouch mine own.

BertramWhat would you have?

HelenaSomething; and scarce so much: nothing, indeed.
I would not tell you what I would, my lord:
Faith yes;
Strangers and foes do sunder, and not kiss.

BertramI pray you, stay not, but in haste to horse.

HelenaI shall not break your bidding, good my lord.

BertramWhere are my other men, monsieur? Farewell.
[Exit HELENA]
Go thou toward home; where I will never come
Whilst I can shake my sword or hear the drum.
Away, and for our flight.

ParollesBravely, coragio!

[Exeunt]

Act III, Scene 1

Florence. The DUKE’s palace.

Duke of FlorenceSo that from point to point now have you heard
The fundamental reasons of this war,
Whose great decision hath much blood let forth
And more thirsts after.

First LordHoly seems the quarrel
Upon your grace’s part; black and fearful
On the opposer.

Duke of FlorenceTherefore we marvel much our cousin France
Would in so just a business shut his bosom
Against our borrowing prayers.

Second LordGood my lord,
The reasons of our state I cannot yield,
But like a common and an outward man,
That the great figure of a council frames
By self-unable motion: therefore dare not
Say what I think of it, since I have found
Myself in my incertain grounds to fail
As often as I guess’d.

Duke of FlorenceBe it his pleasure.

First LordBut I am sure the younger of our nature,
That surfeit on their ease, will day by day
Come here for physic.

Duke of FlorenceWelcome shall they be;
And all the honours that can fly from us
Shall on them settle. You know your places well;
When better fall, for your avails they fell:
To-morrow to the field.1395

[Flourish. Exeunt]

Act III, Scene 2

Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.CountessIt hath happened all as I would have had it, save
that he comes not along with her.

ClownBy my troth, I take my young lord to be a very melancholy man.

CountessBy what observance, I pray you?

ClownWhy, he will look upon his boot and sing; mend the ruff and sing; ask questions and sing; pick his teeth and sing. I know a man that had this trick of melancholy sold a goodly manor for a song.

CountessLet me see what he writes, and when he means to come.

[Opening a letter]ClownI have no mind to Isbel since I was at court: our
old ling and our Isbels o’ the country are nothing
like your old ling and your Isbels o’ the court:
the brains of my Cupid’s knocked out, and I begin to
love, as an old man loves money, with no stomach.

CountessWhat have we here?

ClownE’en that you have there.

[Exit]Countess[Reads] I have sent you a daughter-in-law: she hath
recovered the king, and undone me. I have wedded
her, not bedded her; and sworn to make the ‘not’
eternal. You shall hear I am run away: know it
before the report come. If there be breadth enough
in the world, I will hold a long distance. My duty
to you.. Your unfortunate son,
BERTRAM.
This is not well, rash and unbridled boy.
To fly the favours of so good a king;
To pluck his indignation on thy head
By the misprising of a maid too virtuous
For the contempt of empire.

[Re-enter Clown]ClownO madam, yonder is heavy news within between two
soldiers and my young lady!

CountessWhat is the matter?

ClownNay, there is some comfort in the news, some
comfort; your son will not be killed so soon as I
thought he would.

CountessWhy should he be killed?

ClownSo say I, madam, if he run away, as I hear he does:
the danger is in standing to’t; that’s the loss of
men, though it be the getting of children. Here
they come will tell you more: for my part, I only
hear your son was run away.

[Exit]

[Enter HELENA, and two Gentlemen]First GentlemanSave you, good madam.

Helena. Madam, my lord is gone, for ever gone.

Second GentlemanDo not say so.

CountessThink upon patience. Pray you, gentlemen,
I have felt so many quirks of joy and grief,
That the first face of neither, on the start,
Can woman me unto’t: where is my son, I pray you?

Second GentlemanMadam, he’s gone to serve the duke of Florence:
We met him thitherward; for thence we came,
And, after some dispatch in hand at court,
Thither we bend again.

HelenaLook on his letter, madam; here’s my passport.
[Reads]
When thou canst get the ring upon my finger which
never shall come off, and show me a child begotten
of thy body that I am father to, then call me
husband: but in such a ‘then’ I write a ‘never.’
This is a dreadful sentence.

CountessBrought you this letter, gentlemen?

First GentlemanAy, madam;
And for the contents’ sake are sorry for our pain.

CountessI prithee, lady, have a better cheer;
If thou engrossest all the griefs are thine,
Thou robb’st me of a moiety: he was my son;
But I do wash his name out of my blood,
And thou art all my child. Towards Florence is he?

Second GentlemanAy, madam.

CountessAnd to be a soldier?

Second GentlemanSuch is his noble purpose; and believe ‘t,
The duke will lay upon him all the honour
That good convenience claims.

CountessReturn you thither?

First GentlemanAy, madam, with the swiftest wing of speed.

Helena[Reads] Till I have no wife I have nothing in France.
‘Tis bitter.

CountessFind you that there?

HelenaAy, madam.

First Gentleman‘Tis but the boldness of his hand, haply, which his
heart was not consenting to.

CountessNothing in France, until he have no wife!
There’s nothing here that is too good for him
But only she; and she deserves a lord
That twenty such rude boys might tend upon
And call her hourly mistress. Who was with him?

First GentlemanA servant only, and a gentleman
Which I have sometime known.

CountessParolles, was it not?

First GentlemanAy, my good lady, he.

CountessA very tainted fellow, and full of wickedness.
My son corrupts a well-derived nature
With his inducement.

First GentlemanIndeed, good lady,
The fellow has a deal of that too much,
Which holds him much to have.

CountessYou’re welcome, gentlemen.
I will entreat you, when you see my son,
To tell him that his sword can never win
The honour that he loses: more I’ll entreat you
Written to bear along.

Second GentlemanWe serve you, madam,
In that and all your worthiest affairs.

CountessNot so, but as we change our courtesies.
Will you draw near!

[Exeunt COUNTESS and Gentlemen]

Helena‘Till I have no wife, I have nothing in France.’
Nothing in France, until he has no wife! Thou shalt have none, Rousillon, none in France;
Then hast thou all again. Poor lord! is’t I That chase thee from thy country and expose Those tender limbs of thine to the event Of the none-sparing war? and is it I That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark Of smoky muskets? O you leaden messengers, That ride upon the violent speed of fire, Fly with false aim; move the still-peering air, That sings with piercing; do not touch my lord. Whoever shoots at him, I set him there; Whoever charges on his forward breast, I am the caitiff that do hold him to’t; And, though I kill him not, I am the cause His death was so effected: better ’twere I met the ravin lion when he roar’d With sharp constraint of hunger; better ’twere That all the miseries which nature owes Were mine at once. No, come thou home, Rousillon,
Whence honour but of danger wins a scar,
As oft it loses all: I will be gone;
My being here it is that holds thee hence:
Shall I stay here to do’t? no, no, although
The air of paradise did fan the house
And angels officed all: I will be gone,
That pitiful rumour may report my flight,
To consolate thine ear. Come, night; end, day!
For with the dark, poor thief, I’ll steal away.

[Exit]

Act III, Scene 3

Florence. Before the DUKE’s palace.

[Flourish. Enter the DUKE of Florence, BERTRAM,] [p]PAROLLES, Soldiers, Drum, and Trumpets]Duke of FlorenceThe general of our horse thou art; and we,
Great in our hope, lay our best love and credence
Upon thy promising fortune.

BertramSir, it is
A charge too heavy for my strength, but yet
We’ll strive to bear it for your worthy sake
To the extreme edge of hazard.

Duke of FlorenceThen go thou forth;
And fortune play upon thy prosperous helm,
As thy auspicious mistress!

BertramThis very day,
Great Mars, I put myself into thy file:
Make me but like my thoughts, and I shall prov
A lover of thy drum, hater of love.

[Exeunt]

Act III, Scene 4

Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace

[Enter COUNTESS and Steward]CountessAlas! and would you take the letter of her?
Might you not know she would do as she has done,
By sending me a letter? Read it again.

Steward[Reads]
I am Saint Jaques’ pilgrim, thither gone: Ambitious love hath so in me offended, That barefoot plod I the cold ground upon, With sainted vow my faults to have amended. Write, write, that from the bloody course of war My dearest master, your dear son, may hie: Bless him at home in peace, whilst I from far His name with zealous fervor sanctify:
His taken labours bid him me forgive; I, his despiteful Juno, sent him forth
From courtly friends, with camping foes to live, Where death and danger dogs the heels of worth:
He is too good and fair for death and me:
Whom I myself embrace, to set him free.

CountessAh, what sharp stings are in her mildest words!
Rinaldo, you did never lack advice so much,
As letting her pass so: had I spoke with her,
I could have well diverted her intents,
Which thus she hath prevented.

StewardPardon me, madam:
If I had given you this at over-night,
She might have been overtaken; and yet she writes,
Pursuit would be but vain.

CountessWhat angel shall
Bless this unworthy husband? he cannot thrive,
Unless her prayers, whom heaven delights to hear
And loves to grant, reprieve him from the wrath
Of greatest justice. Write, write, Rinaldo,
To this unworthy husband of his wife;
Let every word weigh heavy of her worth That he does weigh too light: my greatest grief.
Though little he do feel it, set down sharply.
Dispatch the most convenient messenger:
When haply he shall hear that she is gone, He will return; and hope I may that she,
Hearing so much, will speed her foot again, Led hither by pure love: which of them both
Is dearest to me. I have no skill in sense To make distinction: provide this messenger:
My heart is heavy and mine age is weak; Grief would have tears, and sorrow bids me speak.

[Exeunt]

Act III, Scene 5

Florence. Without the walls. A tucket afar off.

[Enter an old Widow of Florence, DIANA, VIOLENTA,] [p]and MARIANA, with other Citizens]WidowNay, come; for if they do approach the city, we
shall lose all the sight.

DianaThey say the French count has done most honourable service.

WidowIt is reported that he has taken their greatest commander; and that with his own hand he slew the duke’s brother.
[Tucket]
We have lost our labour; they are gone a contrary way: hark! you may know by their trumpets.

MarianaCome, let’s return again, and suffice ourselves withthe report of it. Well, Diana, take heed of this
French earl: the honour of a maid is her name; and
no legacy is so rich as honesty.

WidowI have told my neighbour how you have been solicited
by a gentleman his companion.

MarianaI know that knave; hang him! one Parolles: a
filthy officer he is in those suggestions for the
young earl. Beware of them, Diana; their promises,
enticements, oaths, tokens, and all these engines of
lust, are not the things they go under: many a maid
hath been seduced by them; and the misery is,
example, that so terrible shows in the wreck of
maidenhood, cannot for all that dissuade succession,
but that they are limed with the twigs that threaten
them. I hope I need not to advise you further; but
I hope your own grace will keep you where you are,
though there were no further danger known but the
modesty which is so lost.

DianaYou shall not need to fear me.

WidowI hope so.
[Enter HELENA, disguised like a Pilgrim]
Look, here comes a pilgrim: I know she will lie at
my house; thither they send one another: I’ll
question her. God save you, pilgrim! whither are you bound?

HelenaTo Saint Jaques le Grand.
Where do the palmers lodge, I do beseech you?

WidowAt the Saint Francis here beside the port.

HelenaIs this the way?

WidowAy, marry, is’t.
[A march afar]
Hark you! they come this way.
If you will tarry, holy pilgrim,
But till the troops come by,
I will conduct you where you shall be lodged;
The rather, for I think I know your hostess
As ample as myself.

HelenaIs it yourself?

WidowIf you shall please so, pilgrim.

HelenaI thank you, and will stay upon your leisure.

WidowYou came, I think, from France?

HelenaI did so.

WidowHere you shall see a countryman of yours
That has done worthy service.

HelenaHis name, I pray you.

DianaThe Count Rousillon: know you such a one?

HelenaBut by the ear, that hears most nobly of him:
His face I know not.

DianaWhatsome’er he is,
He’s bravely taken here. He stole from France,
As ’tis reported, for the king had married him
Against his liking: think you it is so?

HelenaAy, surely, mere the truth: I know his lady.

DianaThere is a gentleman that serves the count
Reports but coarsely of her.

HelenaWhat’s his name?

DianaMonsieur Parolles.

HelenaO, I believe with him,
In argument of praise, or to the worth
Of the great count himself, she is too mean
To have her name repeated: all her deserving
Is a reserved honesty, and that
I have not heard examined.

DianaAlas, poor lady!
‘Tis a hard bondage to become the wife
Of a detesting lord.

WidowI warrant, good creature, wheresoe’er she is,
Her heart weighs sadly: this young maid might do her
A shrewd turn, if she pleased.

HelenaHow do you mean?
May be the amorous count solicits her
In the unlawful purpose.

WidowHe does indeed;
And brokes with all that can in such a suit
Corrupt the tender honour of a maid:
But she is arm’d for him and keeps her guard
In honestest defence.

MarianaThe gods forbid else!

WidowSo, now they come:
[Drum and Colours]
[Enter BERTRAM, PAROLLES, and the whole army]
That is Antonio, the duke’s eldest son;
That, Escalus.

HelenaWhich is the Frenchman?

DianaHe;
That with the plume: ’tis a most gallant fellow.
I would he loved his wife: if he were honester
He were much goodlier: is’t not a handsome gentleman?

HelenaI like him well.

Diana‘Tis pity he is not honest: yond’s that same knave
That leads him to these places: were I his lady,
I would Poison that vile rascal.

HelenaWhich is he?

DianaThat jack-an-apes with scarfs: why is he melancholy?

HelenaPerchance he’s hurt i’ the battle.

ParollesLose our drum! well.

MarianaHe’s shrewdly vexed at something: look, he has spied us.

WidowMarry, hang you!

MarianaAnd your courtesy, for a ring-carrier!

[Exeunt BERTRAM, PAROLLES, and army]WidowThe troop is past. Come, pilgrim, I will bring you
Where you shall host: of enjoin’d penitents
There’s four or five, to great Saint Jaques bound,
Already at my house.

HelenaI humbly thank you:
Please it this matron and this gentle maid
To eat with us to-night, the charge and thanking
Shall be for me; and, to requite you further,
I will bestow some precepts of this virgin
Worthy the note.

BothWe’ll take your offer kindly.

[Exeunt]

Act III, Scene 6

Camp before Florence.

Second LordNay, good my lord, put him to’t; let him have his way.

First LordIf your lordship find him not a hilding, hold me no
more in your respect.

Second LordOn my life, my lord, a bubble.

BertramDo you think I am so far deceived in him?

Second LordBelieve it, my lord, in mine own direct knowledge, without any malice, but to speak of him as my kinsman, he’s a most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker, the owner of no one good quality worthy your lordship’s entertainment.

First LordIt were fit you knew him; lest, reposing too far in
his virtue, which he hath not, he might at some
great and trusty business in a main danger fail you.

BertramI would I knew in what particular action to try him.

First LordNone better than to let him fetch off his drum,
which you hear him so confidently undertake to do.

Second LordI, with a troop of Florentines, will suddenly
surprise him; such I will have, whom I am sure he
knows not from the enemy: we will bind and hoodwink
him so, that he shall suppose no other but that he
is carried into the leaguer of the adversaries, when
we bring him to our own tents. Be but your lordship
present at his examination: if he do not, for the
promise of his life and in the highest compulsion of
base fear, offer to betray you and deliver all the
intelligence in his power against you, and that with
the divine forfeit of his soul upon oath, never
trust my judgment in any thing.

First LordO, for the love of laughter, let him fetch his drum; he says he has a stratagem for’t: when your lordship sees the bottom of his success in’t, and to what metal this counterfeit lump of ore will be melted, if you give him not John Drum’s entertainment, your inclining cannot be removed.
Here he comes.

[Enter PAROLLES]Second Lord[Aside to BERTRAM] O, for the love of laughter,
hinder not the honour of his design: let him fetch
off his drum in any hand.

BertramHow now, monsieur! this drum sticks sorely in your
disposition.

First LordA pox on’t, let it go; ’tis but a drum.

Parolles‘But a drum’! is’t ‘but a drum’? A drum so lost!
There was excellent command,—to charge in with our
horse upon our own wings, and to rend our own soldiers!

First LordThat was not to be blamed in the command of the
service: it was a disaster of war that Caesar
himself could not have prevented, if he had been
there to command.

BertramWell, we cannot greatly condemn our success: some
dishonour we had in the loss of that drum; but it is
not to be recovered.

ParollesIt might have been recovered.

BertramIt might; but it is not now.

ParollesIt is to be recovered: but that the merit of
service is seldom attributed to the true and exact
performer, I would have that drum or another, or
‘hic jacet.’

BertramWhy, if you have a stomach, to’t, monsieur: if you
think your mystery in stratagem can bring this
instrument of honour again into his native quarter,
be magnanimous in the enterprise and go on; I will
grace the attempt for a worthy exploit: if you
speed well in it, the duke shall both speak of it.
and extend to you what further becomes his
greatness, even to the utmost syllable of your
worthiness.

ParollesBy the hand of a soldier, I will undertake it.

BertramBut you must not now slumber in it.

ParollesI’ll about it this evening: and I will presently
pen down my dilemmas, encourage myself in my
certainty, put myself into my mortal preparation;
and by midnight look to hear further from me.

BertramMay I be bold to acquaint his grace you are gone about it?

ParollesI know not what the success will be, my lord; but
the attempt I vow.

BertramI know thou’rt valiant; and, to the possibility of
thy soldiership, will subscribe for thee. Farewell.

ParollesI love not many words.

[Exit]Second LordNo more than a fish loves water. Is not this a
strange fellow, my lord, that so confidently seems
to undertake this business, which he knows is not to
be done; damns himself to do and dares better be
damned than to do’t?

First LordYou do not know him, my lord, as we do: certain it
is that he will steal himself into a man’s favour and
for a week escape a great deal of discoveries; but
when you find him out, you have him ever after.

BertramWhy, do you think he will make no deed at all of
this that so seriously he does address himself unto?

Second LordNone in the world; but return with an invention and
clap upon you two or three probable lies: but we
have almost embossed him; you shall see his fall
to-night; for indeed he is not for your lordship’s respect.

First LordWe’ll make you some sport with the fox ere we case
him. He was first smoked by the old lord Lafeu:
when his disguise and he is parted, tell me what a
sprat you shall find him; which you shall see this
very night

Second LordI must go look my twigs: he shall be caught.

BertramYour brother he shall go along with me.

Second LordAs’t please your lordship: I’ll leave you.

[Exit]BertramNow will I lead you to the house, and show you
The lass I spoke of.

First LordBut you say she’s honest.

BertramThat’s all the fault: I spoke with her but once
And found her wondrous cold; but I sent to her,
By this same coxcomb that we have i’ the wind,
Tokens and letters which she did re-send;
And this is all I have done. She’s a fair creature:
Will you go see her?

First LordWith all my heart, my lord.

[Exeunt]

Act III, Scene 7

Florence. The Widow’s house.

[Enter HELENA and Widow]HelenaIf you misdoubt me that I am not she,
I know not how I shall assure you further,
But I shall lose the grounds I work upon.

WidowThough my estate be fallen, I was well born,
Nothing acquainted with these businesses;
And would not put my reputation now
In any staining act.

HelenaNor would I wish you.
First, give me trust, the count he is my husband,
And what to your sworn counsel I have spoken
Is so from word to word; and then you cannot,
By the good aid that I of you shall borrow,
Err in bestowing it.

WidowI should believe you:
For you have show’d me that which well approves
You’re great in fortune.

HelenaTake this purse of gold, And let me buy your friendly help thus far, Which I will over-pay and pay again When I have found it. The count he wooes your daughter, Lays down his wanton siege before her beauty, Resolved to carry her: let her in fine consent,
As we’ll direct her how ’tis best to bear it. Now his important blood will nought deny
That she’ll demand: a ring the county wears, That downward hath succeeded in his house
From son to son, some four or five descents
Since the first father wore it: this ring he holds In most rich choice; yet in his idle fire,
To buy his will, it would not seem too dear,
Howe’er repented after.

WidowNow I see
The bottom of your purpose.

HelenaYou see it lawful, then: it is no more, But that your daughter, ere she seems as won, Desires this ring; appoints him an encounter; In fine, delivers me to fill the time,
Herself most chastely absent: after this,
To marry her, I’ll add three thousand crowns
To what is passed already.

WidowI have yielded:
Instruct my daughter how she shall persever,
That time and place with this deceit so lawful May prove coherent. Every night he comes With musics of all sorts and songs composed To her unworthiness: it nothing steads us To chide him from our eaves; for he persists As if his life lay on’t.

HelenaWhy then to-night Let us assay our plot; which, if it speed, Is wicked meaning in a lawful deed And lawful meaning in a lawful act, Where both not sin, and yet a sinful fact:
But let’s about it.

[Exeunt]

Act IV, Scene 1

Without the Florentine camp.

[Enter Second French Lord, with five or six other] [p]Soldiers in ambush]Second LordHe can come no other way but by this hedge-corner.
When you sally upon him, speak what terrible
language you will: though you understand it not
yourselves, no matter; for we must not seem to
understand him, unless some one among us whom we
must produce for an interpreter.

First SoldierGood captain, let me be the interpreter.

Second LordArt not acquainted with him? knows he not thy voice?

First SoldierNo, sir, I warrant you.

Second LordBut what linsey-woolsey hast thou to speak to us again?

First SoldierE’en such as you speak to me.

Second LordHe must think us some band of strangers i’ the
adversary’s entertainment. Now he hath a smack of
all neighbouring languages; therefore we must every
one be a man of his own fancy, not to know what we
speak one to another; so we seem to know, is to
know straight our purpose: choughs’ language,
gabble enough, and good enough. As for you,
interpreter, you must seem very politic. But couch,
ho! here he comes, to beguile two hours in a sleep,
and then to return and swear the lies he forges.

[Enter PAROLLES]ParollesTen o’clock: within these three hours ’twill be
time enough to go home. What shall I say I have
done? It must be a very plausive invention that
carries it: they begin to smoke me; and disgraces
have of late knocked too often at my door. I find
my tongue is too foolhardy; but my heart hath the
fear of Mars before it and of his creatures, not
daring the reports of my tongue.

Second LordThis is the first truth that e’er thine own tongue
was guilty of.

ParollesWhat 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.

Second LordIs it possible he should know what he is, and be
that he is?

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

Second LordWe cannot afford you so.

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

Second Lord‘Twould not do.

ParollesOr to drown my clothes, and say I was stripped.

Second LordHardly serve.

ParollesThough I swore I leaped from the window of the citadel.

Second LordHow deep?

ParollesThirty fathom.

Second LordThree great oaths would scarce make that be believed.

ParollesI would I had any drum of the enemy’s: I would swear I recovered it.

Second LordYou shall hear one anon.

ParollesA drum now of the enemy’s,—

[Alarum within]Second LordThroca movousus, cargo, cargo, cargo.

AllCargo, cargo, cargo, villiando par corbo, cargo.

ParollesO, ransom, ransom! do not hide mine eyes.

[They seize and blindfold him]First SoldierBoskos thromuldo boskos.

ParollesI 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.

First SoldierBoskos vauvado: I understand thee, and can speak
thy tongue. Kerely bonto, sir, betake thee to thy
faith, for seventeen poniards are at thy bosom.

ParollesO!

First SoldierO, pray, pray, pray! Manka revania dulche.

Second LordOscorbidulchos volivorco.

First SoldierThe 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.

ParollesO, 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 SoldierBut wilt thou faithfully?

ParollesIf I do not, damn me.

First SoldierAcordo linta.
Come on; thou art granted space.

[Exit, with PAROLLES guarded. A short alarum within]Second LordGo, tell the Count Rousillon, and my brother,
We have caught the woodcock, and will keep him muffled
Till we do hear from them.

Second SoldierCaptain, I will.

Second LordA’ will betray us all unto ourselves:
Inform on that.

Second SoldierSo I will, sir.

Second LordTill then I’ll keep him dark and safely lock’d.

[Exeunt]

Act IV, Scene 2

Florence. The Widow’s house.

[Enter BERTRAM and DIANA]BertramThey told me that your name was Fontibell.

DianaNo, my good lord, Diana.

BertramTitled goddess;
And worth it, with addition! But, fair soul,
In your fine frame hath love no quality?
If 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 stem;
And now you should be as your mother was
When your sweet self was got.

DianaShe then was honest.

BertramSo should you be.

DianaNo:
My mother did but duty; such, my lord,
As you owe to your wife.

BertramNo more o’ that;
I prithee, 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.

DianaAy, 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.

BertramHow 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 High’st to witness: then, pray you, tell me,
If I should swear by God’s great attributes,
I loved 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.

BertramChange 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.

DianaI see that men make ropes in such a scarre
That we’ll forsake ourselves. Give me that ring.

BertramI’ll lend it thee, my dear; but have no power
To give it from me.

DianaWill you not, my lord?

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

DianaMine 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.

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

DianaWhen 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.

BertramA heaven on earth I have won by wooing thee.

[Exit]

DianaFor 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.

[Exit]

Act IV, Scene 3

The Florentine camp.

[Enter the two French Lords and some two or three Soldiers]First LordYou have not given him his mother’s letter?

Second LordI have delivered 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 LordHe has much worthy blame laid upon him for shaking
off so good a wife and so sweet a lady.

Second LordEspecially 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 LordWhen you have spoken it, ’tis dead, and I am the
grave of it.

Second LordHe 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 LordNow, God delay our rebellion! as we are ourselves
what things are we!

Second LordMerely 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 LordIs it not meant damnable in us, to be trumpeters of
our unlawful intents? We shall not then have his
company to-night?

Second LordNot till after midnight; for he is dieted to his hour.

First LordThat 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 LordWe will not meddle with him till he come; for his
presence must be the whip of the other.

First LordIn the mean time, what hear you of these wars?

Second LordI hear there is an overture of peace.

First LordNay, I assure you, a peace concluded.

Second LordWhat will Count Rousillon do then? will he travel
higher, or return again into France?

First LordI perceive, by this demand, you are not altogether
of his council.

Second LordLet it be forbid, sir; so should I be a great deal
of his act.

First LordSir, 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 LordHow is this justified?

First LordThe 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 LordHath the count all this intelligence?

First LordAy, and the particular confirmations, point from
point, so to the full arming of the verity.

Second LordI am heartily sorry that he’ll be glad of this.

First LordHow mightily sometimes we make us comforts of our losses!

Second LordAnd 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 LordThe 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 Messenger]
How now! where’s your master?

ServantHe 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 LordThey shall be no more than needful there, if they
were more than they can commend.

First LordThey 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?

BertramI have to-night dispatched sixteen businesses, a
month’s length a-piece, by an abstract of success:
I have congied 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 dispatch effected
many nicer needs; the last was the greatest, but
that I have not ended yet.

Second LordIf the business be of any difficulty, and this
morning your departure hence, it requires haste of
your lordship.

BertramI 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, he has deceived
me, like a double-meaning prophesier.

Second LordBring him forth: has sat i’ the stocks all night,
poor gallant knave.

BertramNo matter: his heels have deserved it, in usurping
his spurs so long. How does he carry himself?

Second LordI 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?

BertramNothing of me, has a’?

Second LordHis 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.

[Enter PAROLLES guarded, and First Soldier]BertramA plague upon him! muffled! he can say nothing of
me: hush, hush!

First LordHoodman comes! Portotartarosa

First SoldierHe calls for the tortures: what will you say without ’em?

ParollesI will confess what I know without constraint: if ye pinch me like a pasty, I can say no more.

First SoldierBosko chimurcho.

First LordBoblibindo chicurmurco.

First SoldierYou are a merciful general. Our general bids you answer to what I shall ask you out of a note.

ParollesAnd truly, as I hope to live.

First Soldier[Reads] ‘First demand of him how many horse the
duke is strong.’ What say you to that?

ParollesFive 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 SoldierShall I set down your answer so?

ParollesDo: I’ll take the sacrament on’t, how and which way you will.

BertramAll’s one to him. What a past-saving slave is this!

First LordYou’re 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 practise in the chape of
his dagger.

Second LordI will never trust a man again for keeping his sword
clean. nor believe he can have every thing in him
by wearing his apparel neatly.

First SoldierWell, that’s set down.

ParollesFive or six thousand horse, I said,— I will say
true,—or thereabouts, set down, for I’ll speak truth.

First LordHe’s very near the truth in this.

BertramBut I con him no thanks for’t, in the nature he
delivers it.

ParollesPoor rogues, I pray you, say.

First SoldierWell, that’s set down.

ParollesI humbly thank you, sir: a truth’s a truth, the
rogues are marvellous poor.

First Soldier[Reads] ‘Demand of him, of what strength they are
a-foot.’ What say you to that?

ParollesBy 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 and fifty each; mine own company, Chitopher, Vaumond, Bentii, two hundred and 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 snow from off
their cassocks, lest they shake themselves to pieces.

BertramWhat shall be done to him?

First LordNothing, but let him have thanks. Demand of him my
condition, and what credit I have with the duke.

First SoldierWell, that’s set down.
[Reads]
‘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, and expertness in wars; or whether he thinks it were not possible, with well-weighing sums of gold, to corrupt him to revolt.’ What say you to this? what do you know of it?

ParollesI beseech you, let me answer to the particular of
the inter’gatories: demand them singly.

First SoldierDo you know this Captain Dumain?

ParollesI know him: a’ 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.

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

First SoldierWell, is this captain in the duke of Florence’s camp?

ParollesUpon my knowledge, he is, and lousy.

First LordNay look not so upon me; we shall hear of your
lordship anon.

First SoldierWhat is his reputation with the duke?

ParollesThe 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 SoldierMarry, we’ll search.

ParollesIn 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 SoldierHere ’tis; here’s a paper: shall I read it to you?

ParollesI do not know if it be it or no.

BertramOur interpreter does it well.

First LordExcellently.

First Soldier[Reads] ‘Dian, the count’s a fool, and full of gold,’—

ParollesThat 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 SoldierNay, I’ll read it first, by your favour.

ParollesMy 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.

BertramDamnable 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 vowed to thee in thine ear,
PAROLLES.’

BertramHe shall be whipped through the army with this rhyme
in’s forehead.

Second LordThis is your devoted friend, sir, the manifold
linguist and the armipotent soldier.

BertramI could endure any thing before but a cat, and now he’s a cat to me.

First SoldierI perceive, sir, by the general’s looks, we shall be fain to hang you.

ParollesMy 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 any where, so I may live.

First SoldierWe’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?

ParollesHe will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister: for
rapes and ravishments he parallels Nessus: he
professes not keeping of oaths; in breaking ’em he
is stronger than Hercules: he will lie, sir, with2335
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 bed-clothes about him; but they
know his conditions and lay him in straw. I have but2340
little more to say, sir, of his honesty: he has
every thing that an honest man should not have; what
an honest man should have, he has nothing.

First LordI begin to love him for this.

BertramFor this description of thine honesty? A pox upon2345
him for me, he’s more and more a cat.

First SoldierWhat say you to his expertness in war?

ParollesFaith, sir, he 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 country2350
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 LordHe hath out-villained villany so far, that the2355
rarity redeems him.

BertramA pox on him, he’s a cat still.

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

ParollesSir, for a quart d’ecu he will sell the fee-simple2360
of his salvation, the inheritance of it; and cut the
entail from all remainders, and a perpetual
succession for it perpetually.

First SoldierWhat’s his brother, the other Captain Dumain?

Second LordWhy does be ask him of me?2365

First SoldierWhat’s he?

ParollesE’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:2370
in a retreat he outruns any lackey; marry, in coming
on he has the cramp.

First SoldierIf your life be saved, will you undertake to betray
the Florentine?

ParollesAy, and the captain of his horse, Count Rousillon.2375

First SoldierI’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 who2380
would have suspected an ambush where I was taken?

First SoldierThere 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, can2385
serve the world for no honest use; therefore you
must die. Come, headsman, off with his head.

ParollesO Lord, sir, let me live, or let me see my death!

First LordThat shall you, and take your leave of all your friends.
[Unblinding him]2390
So, look about you: know you any here?

BertramGood morrow, noble captain.

Second LordGod bless you, Captain Parolles.

First LordGod save you, noble captain.

Second LordCaptain, what greeting will you to my Lord Lafeu?
I am for France.

First LordGood 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’ld compel it of you:
but fare you well.

[Exeunt BERTRAM and Lords]First SoldierYou are undone, captain, all but your scarf; that
has a knot on’t yet

ParollesWho cannot be crushed with a plot?

First SoldierIf 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.

[Exit with Soldiers]

ParollesYet 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.

[Exit]

Act IV, Scene 4

Florence. The Widow’s house.

[Enter HELENA, Widow, and DIANA]HelenaThat 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,2425
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 inform’d2430
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,2435
We’ll be before our welcome.WidowGentle madam,
You never had a servant to whose trust
Your business was more welcome.HelenaNor you, mistress,2440
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!2445
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,2450
Under my poor instructions yet must suffer
Something in my behalf.DianaLet death and honesty
Go with your impositions, I am yours
Upon your will to suffer.2455HelenaYet, 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 wagon is prepared, and time revives us:2460
All’s well that ends well; still the fine’s the crown;
Whate’er the course, the end is the renown.[Exeunt]
 previous scene     Act IV, Scene 5Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.     next scene 
[Enter COUNTESS, LAFEU, and Clown]LafeuNo, no, no, your son was misled with a snipt-taffeta2465
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-tailed humble-bee I speak of.2470CountessI 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.2475Lafeu‘Twas a good lady, ’twas a good lady: we may pick a
thousand salads ere we light on such another herb.ClownIndeed, sir, she was the sweet marjoram of the
salad, or rather, the herb of grace.LafeuThey are not herbs, you knave; they are nose-herbs.2480ClownI am no great Nebuchadnezzar, sir; I have not much
skill in grass.LafeuWhether dost thou profess thyself, a knave or a fool?ClownA fool, sir, at a woman’s service, and a knave at a man’s.LafeuYour distinction?2485ClownI would cozen the man of his wife and do his service.LafeuSo you were a knave at his service, indeed.ClownAnd I would give his wife my bauble, sir, to do her service.LafeuI will subscribe for thee, thou art both knave and fool.ClownAt your service.2490LafeuNo, no, no.ClownWhy, sir, if I cannot serve you, I can serve as
great a prince as you are.LafeuWho’s that? a Frenchman?ClownFaith, sir, a’ has an English name; but his fisnomy2495
is more hotter in France than there.LafeuWhat prince is that?ClownThe black prince, sir; alias, the prince of
darkness; alias, the devil.LafeuHold thee, there’s my purse: I give thee not this2500
to suggest thee from thy master thou talkest of;
serve him still.ClownI 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 the2505
world; let his nobility remain in’s 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 flowery way that2510
leads to the broad gate and the great fire.LafeuGo thy ways, I begin to be aweary 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.2515ClownIf I put any tricks upon ’em, sir, they shall be
jades’ tricks; which are their own right by the law of nature.[Exit]LafeuA shrewd knave and an unhappy.CountessSo he is. My lord that’s gone made himself much2520
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.LafeuI like him well; ’tis not amiss. And I was about to
tell you, since I heard of the good lady’s death and2525
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 do2530
it: and, to stop up the displeasure he hath
conceived against your son, there is no fitter
matter. How does your ladyship like it?CountessWith very much content, my lord; and I wish it
happily effected.2535LafeuHis 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.CountessIt rejoices me, that I hope I shall see him ere I2540
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.LafeuMadam, I was thinking with what manners I might
safely be admitted.2545CountessYou need but plead your honourable privilege.LafeuLady, of that I have made a bold charter; but I
thank my God it holds yet.[Re-enter Clown]ClownO madam, yonder’s my lord your son with a patch of2550
velvet on’s face: whether there be a scar under’t
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.LafeuA scar nobly got, or a noble scar, is a good livery2555
of honour; so belike is that.ClownBut it is your carbonadoed face.LafeuLet us go see your son, I pray you: I long to talk
with the young noble soldier.ClownFaith there’s a dozen of ’em, with delicate fine2560
hats and most courteous feathers, which bow the head
and nod at every man.[Exeunt]
[Enter HELENA, Widow, and DIANA, with two] [p]Attendants]HelenaBut 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.
GentlemanAnd you.
HelenaSir, I have seen you in the court of France.GentlemanI have been sometimes there.
Helena. I do presume, sir, that you are not fallen
From the report that goes upon your goodness;
An 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.
GentlemanWhat’s your will?
HelenaThat 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.
GentlemanThe king’s not here.HelenaNot here, sir!
GentlemanNot, indeed:
He hence removed last night and with more haste
Than is his use.WidowLord, how we lose our pains!HelenaALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL yet,
Though time seem so adverse and means unfit.
I do beseech you, whither is he gone?GentlemanMarry, as I take it, to Rousillon;
Whither I am going.HelenaI 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 speed2605
Our means will make us means.GentlemanThis I’ll do for you.HelenaAnd you shall find yourself to be well thank’d,
Whate’er falls more. We must to horse again.
Go, go, provide.2610[Exeunt]
[Enter Clown, and PAROLLES, following]
ParollesGood 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.
ClownTruly, fortune’s displeasure is but sluttish, if it
smell so strongly as thou speakest of: I will
henceforth eat no fish of fortune’s buttering.
Prithee, allow the wind.
ParollesNay, you need not to stop your nose, sir; I spake
but by a metaphor.
ClownIndeed, sir, if your metaphor stink, I will stop my nose; or against any man’s metaphor. Prithee, get thee further.
ParollesPray you, sir, deliver me this paper.
ClownFoh! prithee, stand away: a paper from fortune’s close-stool to give to a nobleman! Look, here he comes himself.
[Enter LAFEU]
Here is a purr 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.
[Exit]
ParollesMy lord, I am a man whom fortune hath cruelly scratched.
LafeuAnd 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.
ParollesI beseech your honour to hear me one single word.LafeuYou beg a single penny more: come, you shall ha’t;
save your word.
ParollesMy name, my good lord, is Parolles.LafeuYou beg more than ‘word,’ then. Cox my passion!
give me your hand. How does your drum?
ParollesO my good lord, you were the first that found me!LafeuWas I, in sooth? and I was the first that lost thee.
ParollesIt lies in you, my lord, to bring me in some grace,
for you did bring me out.
LafeuOut upon thee, knave! dost thou put upon me at once
both the office of God and the devil? One brings
thee 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.ParollesI praise God for you.
[Exeunt]

Act V, Scene 3Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.

[Flourish. Enter KING, COUNTESS, LAFEU, the two] [p]French Lords, with Attendants]King of France. 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 know2675
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,2680
O’erbears it and burns on.King of France. 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.2685Lafeu. 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 wife2690
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 of France. Praising what is lost2695
Makes the remembrance dear. Well, call him hither;
We are reconciled, 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 we do bury2700
The 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]King of France. What says he to your daughter? have you spoke?Lafeu. All that he is hath reference to your highness.King of France. Then shall we have a match. I have letters sent me
That set him high in fame.[Enter BERTRAM]LAFEU. He looks well on’t.King of France. 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.2715Bertram. My high-repented blames,
Dear sovereign, pardon to me.King of France. All is whole;
Not one word more of the consumed time.
Let’s take the instant by the forward top;2720
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 first2725
I stuck my choice upon her, ere my heart
Durst make too bold a 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;2730
Scorn’d 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 praised and whom myself,
Since I have lost, have loved, was in mine eye2735
The dust that did offend it.King of France. Well excused:
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,2740
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,2745
Destroy our friends and after weep their dust
Our own love waking cries to see what’s done,
While shame full late sleeps out the afternoon.
Be this sweet Helen’s knell, and now forget her.
Send forth your amorous token for fair Maudlin:2750
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 name2755
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]
By my old beard,2760
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 at court,
I saw upon her finger.Bertram. Hers it was not.2765King of France. Now, pray you, let me see it; for mine eye,
While I was speaking, oft was fasten’d to’t.
This ring was mine; and, when I gave it Helen,
I bade her, if her fortunes ever stood
Necessitied to help, that by this token2770
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,2775
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 deceived, 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 engaged: but when I had subscribed
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 ceased
In heavy satisfaction and would never
Receive the ring again.
King of France. 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 know2795
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,2800
Where you have never come, or sent it us
Upon her great disaster.
Bertram. She never saw it.
King of France. Thou speak’st it falsely, as I love mine honour;
And makest 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!2815
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 yet she never was.2820[Exit, guarded]King of France. I am wrapp’d in dismal thinkings.[Enter a Gentleman]Gentleman. Gracious sovereign,
Whether I have been to blame or no, I know not:2825
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 know2830
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 of France. [Reads] Upon his many protestations to marry me2835
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, O2840
king! in you it best lies; otherwise a seducer
flourishes, and a poor maid is undone.
DIANA CAPILET.Lafeu. I will buy me a son-in-law in a fair, and toll for
this: I’ll none of him.2845King of France. The heavens have thought well on thee Lafeu,
To bring forth this discovery. Seek these suitors:
Go speedily and bring again the count.
I am afeard the life of Helen, lady,
Was foully snatch’d.2850Countess. Now, justice on the doers![Re-enter BERTRAM, guarded]King of France. I wonder, sir, sith wives are monsters to you,
And that you fly them as you swear them lordship,
Yet you desire to marry.2855
[Enter Widow and DIANA]
What woman’s that?Diana. I am, my lord, a wretched Florentine,
Derived from the ancient Capilet:
My suit, as I do understand, you know,2860
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 of France. Come hither, count; do you know these women?2865Bertram. 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,2870
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,2875
Either both or none.Lafeu. 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 highness2880
Lay a more noble thought upon mine honour
Than for to think that I would sink it here.King of France. 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.2885Diana. Good my lord,
Ask him upon his oath, if he does think
He had not my virginity.King of France. What say’st thou to her?Bertram. She’s impudent, my lord,2890
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 validity2895
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,2900
Conferr’d by testament to the sequent issue,
Hath it been owed and worn. This is his wife;
That ring’s a thousand proofs.King of France. Methought you said
You saw one here in court could witness it.2905Diana. 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 of France. 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 debosh’d;
Whose nature sickens but to speak a truth.
Am I or that or this for what he’ll utter,2915
That will speak any thing?King of France. She hath that ring of yours.Bertram. I think she has: certain it is I liked her,
And boarded her i’ the wanton way of youth:
She knew her distance and did angle for me,2920
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,
Subdued me to her rate: she got the ring;2925
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;2930
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 of France. What ring was yours, I pray you?2935Diana. Sir, much like
The same upon your finger.King of France. Know you this ring? this ring was his of late.Diana. And this was it I gave him, being abed.King of France. The story then goes false, you threw it him2940
Out of a casement.Diana. I have spoke the truth.[Enter PAROLLES]Bertram. My lord, I do confess the ring was hers.King of France. You boggle shrewdly, every feather stars you.2945
Is this the man you speak of?Diana. Ay, my lord.King of France. 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,2950
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 of France. Come, come, to the purpose: did he love this woman?2955Parolles. Faith, sir, he did love her; but how?King of France. How, I pray you?Parolles. He did love her, sir, as a gentleman loves a woman.King of France. How is that?Parolles. He loved her, sir, and loved her not.2960King of France. 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?2965Parolles. Faith, I know more than I’ll speak.King of France. But wilt thou not speak all thou knowest?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 and2970
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 not2975
speak what I know.King of France. 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?2980Diana. Ay, my good lord.King of France. Where did you buy it? or who gave it you?Diana. It was not given me, nor I did not buy it.King of France. Who lent it you?Diana. It was not lent me neither.2985King of France. Where did you find it, then?Diana. I found it not.King of France. If it were yours by none of all these ways,
How could you give it him?Diana. I never gave it him.2990Lafeu. This woman’s an easy glove, my lord; she goes off
and on at pleasure.King of France. This ring was mine; I gave it his first wife.Diana. It might be yours or hers, for aught I know.King of France. Take her away; I do not like her now;2995
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 of France. Take her away.3000Diana. I’ll put in bail, my liege.King of France. I think thee now some common customer.Diana. By Jove, if ever I knew man, ’twas you.King of France. Wherefore hast thou accused him all this while?Diana. Because he’s guilty, and he is not guilty:3005
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.King of France. She does abuse our ears: to prison with her.3010Diana. 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 abused me, as he knows himself,3015
Though yet he never harm’d me, here I quit him:
He knows himself my bed he hath defiled;
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:3020
And now behold the meaning.[Re-enter Widow, with HELENA]
King of France. 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,3030
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?3035Bertram. 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:
[To PAROLLES]
Good Tom Drum, 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 of France. Let us from point to point this story know,
To make the even truth in pleasure flow.
[To DIANA]
If thou be’st 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 keep’st a wife herself, thyself a maid. Of that and all the progress, more or less,
Resolvedly more leisure shall express:
All yet seems well; and if it end so meet, The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet.
[Flourish]
EPILOGUEKing of France. 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.[Exeunt]

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