by William Shakespeare

edited with notes, © 2016 by Deloss Brown

Act I, Scene 1
Act I, Scene 2
Act I, Scene 3
Act II, Scene 1
Act II, Scene 2
Act II, Scene 3
Act II, Scene 5 filmed

Table of Contents

The Morality Play Structure of All's Well
Themes and Images
Characters in All's Well
The Castle of Perseverance (part)
Horrid Technical Details! (which you may ignore)

All's Well that Ends Well:
Act I, Scene 1
Act I, Scene 2
Act I, Scene 3
Act II, Scene 1
Act II, Scene 2
Act II, Scene 3
Act II, Scene 5 filmed

Horrid Technical Details! (which you may ignore!)

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Table of Contents of this Page

Act I, Scene 1
Act I, Scene 2
Act I, Scene 3
Act II, Scene 1
Act II, Scene 2
Act II, Scene 3
Act II, Scene 5 filmed


Rossillion. The COUNT'S palace.

In delivering [2] my son from me, I bury a second husband.

And I in going, madam, weep o'er my father's death anew; but I must attend his Majesty's command, to whom I am now in ward, evermore in subjection.

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, rather than lack it where there is such abundance.[3]

What hope is there of his Majesty's amendment?

He hath abandoned his physicians, madam; under whose practices he hath persecuted time with hope, and finds no other advantage in the process but only the losing of hope by time.

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 death 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.

How called you the man you speak of, madam?

He was famous, sir, in his profession, and it was his great right to be so--Gerard de Narbon.

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.

What is it, my good lord, the King languishes of?

A fistula, my lord. [4]

I heard not of it before. [5]

I would it were not notorious. Was this gentlewoman the daughter of Gerard de Narbon?

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, there 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.

Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.

'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise 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 to have--

I do affect a sorrow indeed, but I have it too. [6]

Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead: excessive grief the enemy to the living.

If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal. [7]

Madam, I desire your holy wishes.

How understand we that? [8]

Be thou blest, Bertram, and succeed thy father
In manners, as in shape! Thy blood and virtue
Contend for empire in thee, and thy goodness
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 checked for silence,
But never taxed for speech. What heaven more will,
That thee may furnish, and my prayers pluck down,
Fall on thy head! Farewell. My lord,
'Tis an unseasoned courtier; good my lord,
Advise him. [9]

He cannot want the best
That shall attend his love.

Heaven bless him! Farewell, Bertram.[10]   [Exit.]

The best wishes that can be forged in your thoughts be servants to you! [To HELENA] Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her.

Farewell, pretty lady; you must hold the credit of your father.[11]

          (Exeunt BERTRAM and LAFEW.)

O, were that all! I think not on my father;
And these great | tears grace his remembrance more [12]
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,
If Bertram be away. [13] 'Twere all one
That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, he is | so above me. [14]
In his bright radiance and collateral | light
Must I be comforted, not in his | sphere. [15]
Th' ambition in my love thus plagues itself:
The hind that would be mated by the lion
Must | die for love. 'Twas pretty, though a plague,
To see him every hour; to sit and draw
His archèd brows, his hawking eye, his curls, [16]
In our heart's table--heart | too capable [17]
Of every line and | trick of his | sweet favor.
But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancy
Must sanctify his relics. Who comes here?

          (Enter PAROLLES--who doesn't hear HELENA)

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
That they take place when virtue's | steely bones [18]
Looks bleak i' th' cold wind; withal, [19] full oft we see          in the cold wind [20]
Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.

Save you, fair queen! [21]

And you, monarch! [22]


And no.

Are you meditating on virginity? [23]

Ay. You have some stain of soldier in you; let me ask you a question. Man is enemy to virginity; how may we barricado[24] it against him?

Keep him out.

But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant in the defense, yet is weak. Unfold to us some warlike resistance.

There is none. Man, setting down before you, will undermine you and blow you up. [25]

Bless our poor virginity from underminers and blowers-up! Is there no military policy how virgins might blow up men?

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 rational 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.

I will stand for 't a little, though therefore I die a virgin. [26]

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; 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. 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 lose by't. Out with't. Within ten year it will make itself ten, which is a goodly increase; and the principal itself not much the worse. Away with't. [27]

How might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking? [28]

Let me see. Marry, ill to like him that ne'er it likes. [29] 'Tis a commodity will lose the gloss with lying; the longer kept, the less worth. Off with't 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 toothpick, which wear not now. Your date is better in your pie and your 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?

Not my virginity, yet--
There shall your master have a thousand loves, [30]
A mother, and a mistress, and a friend,
A phoenix, captain, and an enemy,
A guide, a goddess, and a sovereign,
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  [31]
Of pretty, fond, adoptious christendoms
That blinking Cupid gossips. Now shall he-- [32]
I know not what he shall. God send him well!
The court's a learning-place, and he is one-- [33]

What one, i' faith?

That I wish well. 'Tis pity-- [34]

What's pity?

That wishing well had not a body in't [35]        in it
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
And show what we alone must think, which never [36]
Returns us thanks.

          (Enter PAGE)

Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you.     (Exit PAGE)

Little Helen, farewell; if I can remember thee, I will think of thee at court. [37]

Monsieur Parolles, you were born under a charitable star.

Under Mars, I.

I especially think, under Mars.             Emphasis by this editor.

Why under Mars?

The wars hath so kept you under that you must needs be born under Mars.

When he was predominant.

When he was retrograde, I think, rather.

Why think you so?

You go so much backward when you fight.

That's for advantage.

So is running away, when fear proposes the safety: but the composition that your valor and fear makes in you is a virtue of a good wing, and I like the wear well. [38]

I am so full of business 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's counsel, and understand what advice shall thrust upon thee; else thou diest in thine unthankfulness, and thine ignorance makes thee away. Farewell.

          (PAROLLES starts out, then returns--my SD. He said "farewell," did he not?)

When thou hast leisure, say thy prayers; when thou hast none, remember thy friends.

          (PAROLLES starts out, then returns--my SD. He still hasn't told her what he wants to say.)

Get thee a good husband and use him as he uses thee. So, farewell. [39]     (Exit, finally.)

Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
Which we ascribe to heaven. The fated sky
Gives us free scope; only doth backward pull
Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull. [40]
What power is it which mounts my love so high, [41]
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.
Impossible be strange attempts to those
That weigh their pains in sense, and do suppose
What hath been cannot be. Who ever strove
To show her merit that did miss her love?
The King's disease--my project may deceive me,
But my intents are fixed, and will not leave me. [42]     (Exit.)


Paris. The KING'S palace
Flourish of cornets. Enter the KING OF FRANCE, with letters, and divers ATTENDANTS.[43]

The Florentines and Senoys are by th' ears; [44]          by the
Have fought with equal fortune, and continue
A braving war.

          So 'tis reported, sir.

Nay, 'tis most credible. We here receive it,
A certainty, vouched 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.

          His love and wisdom,
Approved so to your Majesty, may plead
For amplest credence.

                            He hath armed our answer,
And Florence is denied before he comes; [45]
Yet, for our gentlemen that mean to see
The Tuscan service, freely have they leave
To stand on either part. [46]

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

          What's he comes here?


It is the Count Rossilion, my good lord,
Young Bertram.

          Youth, thou bear'st thy father's face; [47]
Frank nature, rather curious than in haste,
Hath well composed thee. Thy father's moral parts
Mayst thou inherit too! Welcome to Paris.

My thanks and duty are your Majesty's.

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
Today 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 honor,
Clock to itself, knew the true minute when
Exception bid him speak, and at this time
His tongue obeyed his hand. Who were below him
He used as creatures of another place;
And bowed 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, followed well, would demonstrate them now
But goers backward.

                    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.[48]

Would I were with him![49] He would always say--
Methinks I hear him now; his plausive words
He scattered 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[50]
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 wished.
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 laborers room.

                                        You're loved, sir;
They that least lend it you shall lack you first.

I fill a place, I know't. How long is't, Count,
Since the physician at your father's died?
He was much famed.

                                        Some six months since, my lord.

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.[51]

                                        Thank your Majesty. (Exeunt.) [Flourish]


Rossilion. The COUNT'S palace. Enter COUNTESS, STEWARD, and CLOWN (LAVATCH).

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

Madam, the care I have had to even your content I wish might be found in the calendar of my past endeavors; for then we wound our modesty, and make foul the clearness of our deservings, when of ourselves we publish them. [52]

What does this knave here? Get you gone, sirrah. 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.

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

Well, sir.

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. [53]

Wilt thou needs be a beggar?

I do beg your good will in this case.

In what case?

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 [54] are blessings.

Tell me thy reason why thou wilt marry.

My poor body, madam, requires it. I am driven on by the flesh; and he must needs go that the devil drives. [55]

Is this all your worship's reason? [56]

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

May the world know them?

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

Thy marriage, sooner than thy wickedness.

I am out o' friends, madam, and I hope to have friends for my wife's sake.                    out o' = "out of"; please do not say "out oh"

Such friends are thine enemies, knave.

Y'are shallow, madam-in great friends; for the knaves come to do that for me which I am aweary of. He that ears [57] 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 [58] the puritan and old Poysam [59] the papist, howsome'er their hearts are severed in religion, their heads are both one; they may jowl horns together like any deer i' th' herd.

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

A prophet I, madam; [60] and I speak the truth the next way: [61]

        For I the ballad will repeat,
          Which men full true shall find:
        Your marriage comes by destiny,
          Your cuckoo sings by kind. [62]

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

May it please you, madam, that he bid Helen come to you. Of her I am to speak.

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


          "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 sighèd as she stood,
          With that she sighèd as she stood,
        And gave this sentence then:
        "Among nine bad if one be good,
          Among nine bad if one be good,
        There"s yet one good in ten." [63]

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

One good woman in ten, madam, which is a purifying o' th' song. Would God would serve the world so all the year! We'd 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 before every blazing star, or at an earthquake, 'twould mend the lottery well: a man may draw his heart out ere 'a pluck one. [64]

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

That man should be at woman's command, and yet no hurt done! [65] 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. [66] I am going, forsooth. The business is for Helen to come hither. (Exit.)

Well, now.

I know, madam, you love your gentlewoman entirely.

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.

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; Diana 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, [67] in the loss that may happen, it concerns you something to know it.

You have discharged this honestly; keep it to yourself. Many likelihoods informed me of this before, which hung so tott'ring in the balance that I could neither believe nor misdoubt. [68] 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. [69]
If ever we are nature's, these are ours; this thorn [70]
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 impressed 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. [71]

What is your pleasure, madam?

                            You know, Helen,
I am a mother to you. [72]

Mine honourable mistress.

                          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 enwombèd mine. 'Tis often seen
Adoption strives with nature, and choice breeds
A native slip to us from foreign seeds.
You ne'er oppressed me with a mother's groan, [73]
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 distempered messenger of wet,
The many-coloured Iris, rounds thine eye? [74]
Why, that you are my daughter?

                          That I am not.

I say I am your mother.

                          Pardon, madam.
The Count Rossilion cannot be my brother:
I am from humble, he from honoured 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.

                          Nor I your mother?

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?

Yes, Helen, you might be my daughter-in-law. [75]
God shield you mean it not! 'daughter' and 'mother'
So strive upon your pulse. What! pale again?
My fear hath catched your fondness. Now I see
The myst'ry 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 behaviours
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,
To tell me truly.

                          Good madam, pardon me.

Do you love my son?

                          Your pardon, noble mistress.

Love you my son?

                          Do not you love him--madam? [76]

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 appeached.

HELENA (kneels)
                          Then I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,
I love your son. [77]
My friends were poor, but honest; so's my love.[77A]
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 agèd honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly that your Dian [78]
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! [79]

Had you not lately an intent--speak truly--
To go to Paris?

                          Madam, I had.

                                                    Wherefore? Tell true. [80]

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 willed 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 whereof
The King is rendered lost.

                               This was your motive
For Paris, was it? Speak. [81]

My lord your son made me to think of this, [82]
Else Paris, and the medicine, and the King,
Had from the conversation of my thoughts
Haply been absent then.

                               But think you, Helen,
If you should tender your supposèd 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 unlearnèd virgin, when the schools,
Embowelled of their doctrine, have left off
The danger to itself?

                               There's something in't
More than my father's skill, which was the great'st
Of his profession, that his good receipt [83]
Shall for my legacy be sanctified
By th' luckiest stars in heaven; and, would your honor
But give me leave to try success, I'd venture
The well-lost life of mine on his Grace's cure.
By such a day and hour.

                               Dost thou believe't?

Ay, madam, knowingly. [84]

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 tomorrow; and be sure of this,
What I can help thee to thou shalt not miss.                               (Exeunt.) [85]


Paris. The KING'S palace

Flourish of cornets. Enter the KING with divers
young LORDS taking leave for the Florentine war;

Farewell, young lords; these war-like principles
Do not throw from you. And you, my lords, farewell; [87]
Share the advice betwixt you; if both gain all,
The gift doth stretch itself as 'tis received,
And is enough for both.

                              'Tis our hope, sir,
After well-entered soldiers, to return
And find your Grace in health. [88]

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 [89]
Not to woo honor, but to wed it; when
The bravest questant shrinks, find what you seek,
That fame may cry you aloud. I say farewell.

Health at your bidding serve your Majesty!

Those girls of Italy, take heed of them; [90]
They say our French lack language to deny,
If they demand; beware of being captives
Before you serve.

                              Our hearts receive your warnings.

Farewell.  [To ATTENDANTS] Come hither to me.                              (The KING retires attended.) [91]

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

'Tis not his fault, the spark. [92]

O, 'tis brave wars!

Most admirable! I have seen those wars.

I am commanded here and kept a coil with "too young" and "next year" and " 'tis too early." [93]

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

I shall stay here the forehorse to a smock, [94]
Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry, [95]
Till honor be bought up, and no sword worn
But one to dance with. By heaven, I'll steal away. [96]

There's honor in the theft. [97]

Commit it, Count.

I am your accessary; and so farewell. [98]

I grow to you, and our parting is a tortured body. [99]

Farewell, Captain. [100]

Sweet Monsieur Parolles! [101]

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. [102]

We shall, noble captain.

Mars dote on you for his novices!                              (Exeunt LORDS.)
     (to Bertram)
What will ye do?

Stay the King. [103]

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. [104]

And I will do so.

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

                                                            (Exeunt BERTRAM and PAROLLES and enter LAFEW to the KING.)

LAFEW (kneeling)
Pardon, my lord, for me and for my tidings.

I'll fee thee to stand up. [106]

LAFEW (stands up)
Then here's a man stands that has brought his pardon.
I would you had kneeled, my lord, to ask me mercy;
And that at my bidding you could so stand up.

I would I had; so I had broke thy pate,
And asked thee mercy for't.                              for it

                              Good faith, across!
But, my good lord, 'tis thus: will you be cured
Of your infirmity?

                              No. [107]

                                                            O, will you eat
No grapes, my royal fox? [108] 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 [109]
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.

                              What "her" is this?

Why, Doctor She! My lord, there's one arrived,
If you will see her. Now, by my faith and honor,
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. [110]

                              Now, good Lafew,
Bring in the admiration, that we with the
May spend our wonder too, or take off thine
By wond'ring how thou took'st it. [111]

                              Nay, I'll fit you,
And not be all day neither.                              (Exit LAFEW.)

Thus he his special nothing ever prologues. [112]

                              (Re-enter LAFEW with HELENA.)

Nay, come your ways.

                              This haste hath wings indeed.

Nay, come your ways; [113]
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, [114]
That dare leave two together. Fare you well.        (Exit.)

Now, fair one, does your business follow us? [115]

Ay, my good lord. [116]
Gerard de Narbon was my father,
In what he did profess, well found.

                              I knew him. [117]

The rather will I spare my praises towards him;
Knowing him is enough. On's bed of death
Many receipts [118] he gave me; chiefly one,
Which, as the dearest issue of his practice,
And of his old experience th' only darling,
He bade me store up as a triple [119] eye,
Safer than mine own two, more dear. I have so:
And, hearing your high Majesty is touched
With that malignant [120] cause wherein the honor
Of my dear father's gift stands chief in power,
I come to tender it, and my appliance, [121]
With all bound humbleness.

                              We thank you, maiden;
But may not be so credulous of cure,
When our most learnèd doctors leave us, and
The congregated college have concluded
That laboring art can never ransom nature
From her inaidable estate--I say we must not
So stain our judgment, or corrupt our hope,
To prostitute our past-cure malady
To empirics; [122] or to dissever so
Our great self and our credit to esteem
A senseless help, when help past sense we deem. [123]

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 again. [124]

I cannot give thee less, to be called 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. [125]

What I can do can do no hurt to try,
Since you set up your rest 'gainst remedy. [126]
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. [127]

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.

Inspirèd merit so by breath is barred.
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
The help of heaven we count the act of men.
Dear sir, to my endeavors give consent;
Of heaven, not me, make an experiment.
I am not an impostor, that proclaim
Myself against the level of mine aim; [128]
But know I think, and think I know most sure,
My art is not past power nor you past cure.

Art thou so confident? Within what space
Hop'st thou my cure? [129]                                hop'st = hopest = hopes

The greatest Grace lending grace, [130] [131]
Ere twice the horses of the sun shall bring
Their fiery torcher his diurnal ring, [132]
Ere twice in murk and occidental damp
Moist Hesperus hath quenched his sleepy lamp, [133]
Or four and twenty times the pilot's glass [134]
Hath told the thievish minutes how they pass, [135]
What is infirm from your sound parts shall fly,
Health shall live free, and sickness freely die. [136]

Upon thy certainty and confidence
What dar'st thou venture?

                    Tax of impudence,
A strumpet's boldness, a divulged shame,
Traduced by odious ballads; my maiden's name [137]
Seared otherwise; ne worse of worst--extended
With vildest torture let my life be ended. [138]

Methinks in thee some blessed spirit doth speak
His powerful sound within an organ weak;
And what impossibility would slay
In 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.

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? [139]

Make thy demand.

                    But will you make it even? [140]

Ay, by my sceptre and my hopes of heaven.

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, [141]
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.

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 cam'st, how tended on. But rest
Unquestioned, welcome, and undoubted blest.
Give me some help here, ho!
                    (to Helena)
                                                    If thou proceed
As high as word, my deed shall match thy deed.
                    [Flourish. Exeunt]


Rossilion. The COUNT'S palace.

Come on, sir; I shall now put you to the height of your breeding. [143]

I will show myself highly fed and lowly taught. I know my business is but to the court. [144]

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

Truly, madam, if God have lent a man any manners, he may easily put it off [145] at court. He that cannot make a leg, [146] 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.

Marry, that's a bountiful answer that fits all questions. [147]

It is like a barber's chair, that fits all buttocks--the pin buttock, the quatch buttock, the brawn buttock, or any buttock. [148]

Will your answer serve fit to all questions? [149]

As fit as ten groats is for the hand of an attorney, as your French crown for your taffety punk, as Tib's rush for Tom's forefinger, as a pancake for Shrove Tuesday, a morris for Mayday, as the nail to his hole, the cuckold to his horn, as a scolding quean to a wrangling knave, as the nun's lip to the friar's mouth; nay, as the pudding to his skin. [150]

Have you, I, say, an answer of such fitness for all questions?

From below your duke to beneath your constable, it will fit any question. [151]

It must be an answer of most monstrous size that must fit all demands. [152]

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.

To be young again, if we could, I will be a fool in question, hoping to be the wiser by your answer. [153] I pray you, sir, are you a courtier?

O Lord, sir!--There's a simple putting off. [154] More, more, a hundred of them.

Sir, I am a poor friend of yours, that loves you. [155]

O Lord, sir!--Thick, thick; spare not me.

I think, sir, you can eat none of this homely meat. [156]

O Lord, sir!--Nay, put me to't, I warrant you. [157]

You were lately whipped, sir, as I think. [158]

O Lord, sir!--Spare not me.

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.

I ne'er had worse luck in my life in my 'O Lord, sir!' I see thing's may serve long, but not serve ever.

I play the noble housewife with the time, [159]
To entertain it so merrily with a fool.

O Lord, sir!--Why, there't serves well again.

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.

Not much commendation to them?

Not much employment for you. You understand me?

Most fruitfully; I am there before my legs. [160]

Haste you again. [161] (Exeunt.)


Paris. The KING'S palace

They say miracles are past; [163] and we have our philosophical persons to make modern and familiar things supernatural and causeless. Hence is it that we make trifles of terrors, ensconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge when we should submit ourselves to an unknown fear. [164]

Why, 'tis the rarest argument of wonder that hath shot out in our latter times.

And so 'tis.

To be relinquished of the artists-- [165]

So I say--both of Galen and Paracelsus. [166]

Of all the learned and authentic fellows--

Right; so I say.

That gave him out incurable--

Why, there 'tis; so say I too.

Not to be helped--

Right; as 'twere a man assured of a--

Uncertain life and sure death.

Just; you say well; so would I have said.

I may truly say it is a novelty to the world.

It is indeed. If you will have it in showing, you shall read it in what-do-ye-call't here.

LAFEW (Reading the ballad title)
"A Showing of a Heavenly Effect in an Earthly Actor." [167]

That's it; I would have said the very same.

Why, your dolphin is not lustier. [168] 'Fore me, I speak in respect-- [169]

Nay, 'tis strange, 'tis very strange; that is the brief and the tedious of it; and he's of a most facinerious spirit that will not acknowledge it to be the-- [170]

Very hand of heaven.

Ay; so I say.

In a most weak--

And debile minister, great power, great transcendence; which should, indeed, give us a further use to be made than alone the recov'ry of the King, as to be--

Generally thankful.
I would have said it; you say well. Here comes the King.

Lustig, as the Dutchman says. [171] I'll like a maid the better, whilst I have a tooth in my head. Why, he's able to lead her a coranto. [172]

Mor du vinager! [173] Is not this Helen?

'Fore God, I think so.

Go, call before me all the lords in court.
(Exit an ATTENDANT.)
Sit, my preserver, by thy patient's side;
And with this healthful hand, whose banished sense
Thou has repealed, a second time receive
The confirmation of my promised gift,
Which but attends thy naming.
(Enter three or four LORDS.)
Fair maid, send forth thine eye. This youthful parcel
Of noble bachelors stand at my bestowing,
O'er whom both sovereign power and father's voice
I have to use. Thy frank election make;
Thou hast power to choose, and they none to forsake.

To each of you one fair and virtuous mistress
Fall, when love please. Marry, to each but one! [174]

I'd give bay Curtal and his furniture [175]
My mouth no more were broken than these boys', [176]
And writ as little beard. [177]

                    Peruse them well.
Not one of those but had a noble father.

Gentlemen, [178]
Heaven hath through me restored the King to health.

We understand it, and thank heaven for you.

I am a simple maid, and therein wealthiest
That I protest I simply am a maid. [179]
Please it your Majesty, I have done already.
The blushes in my cheeks thus whisper me:
"We blush that thou shouldst choose; but, be refused,
Let the white death sit on thy cheek for ever,
We'll ne'er come there again."

                    Make choice and see:
Who shuns thy love shuns all his love in me.

Now, Dian, from thy altar do I fly, [180]
And to imperial Love, that god most high,
Do my sighs stream. Sir, will you hear my suit?

And grant it. [181]

                    Thanks, sir; all the rest is mute.
(HELEN moves on to the next candidate.)
I had rather be in this choice than throw ames-ace for my life. [182]

The honor, sir, that flames in your fair eyes,
Before I speak, too threat'ningly replies. [183]
Love make your fortunes twenty times above
Her that so wishes, and her humble love!

No better, if you please. [184]

                     My wish receive,
Which great Love grant; and so I take my leave.

Do all they deny her? An they were sons of mine I'd have them whipt; or I would send them to th' Turk to make eunuchs of. [185]

Be not afraid that I your hand should take;
I'll never do you wrong for your own sake.
Blessing upon your vows; and in your bed
Find fairer fortune, if you ever wed! [186]

These boys are boys of ice; they'll none have her. Sure, they are bastards to the English; the French ne'er got 'em.

You are too young, too happy, and too good,
To make yourself a son out of my blood.

Fair one, I think not so.

There's one grape yet; I am sure thy father drunk wine--but if thou be'st not an ass, I am a youth of fourteen; I have known thee already.

I dare not say I take you; but I give
Me and my service, ever whilst I live,
Into your guiding power. This is the man.

Why, then, young Bertram, take her; she's thy wife.

My wife, my liege! I shall beseech your Highness,
In such a business give me leave to use
The help of mine own eyes.

                    Know'st thou not, Bertram,
What she has done for me?

                    Yes, my good lord;
But never hope to know why I should marry her.

Thou know'st she has raised me from my sickly bed.

But follows it, my lord, to bring me down
Must answer for your raising? I know her well:
She had her breeding at my father's charge. [187]
A poor physician's daughter my wife! Disdain
Rather corrupt me ever! [188]

KING (after a pause)
'Tis only title thou disdain'st in her, the which [189]
I can build up. Strange is it that our bloods,
Of colour, weight, and heat, poured all together,
Would quite confound distinction, yet stand off
In differences so mighty. If she be
All that is virtuous-save what thou dislik'st,
A poor physician's daughter-thou dislik'st
Of virtue for the name; but do not so.
From lowest place when virtuous things proceed,
The place is dignified by the doer's deed;
Where great additions swell's, and virtue none, [190]
It is a dropsied honour. Good alone [191]
Is good without a name. Vileness is so:
The property by what it is should go,
Not by the title. She is young, wise, fair;
In these to nature she's immediate heir;
And these breed honor. That is honor's scorn
Which challenges itself as honor's born
And is not like the sire. Honors thrive
When rather from our acts we them derive
Than our fore-goers. [192] The mere word's a slave,
Debauched on every tomb, on every grave
A lying trophy; and as oft is dumb
Where dust and damned oblivion is the tomb [193]
Of honored bones indeed. What should be said?
If thou canst like this creature as a maid,
I can create the rest. Virtue and she
Is her own dower; honor and wealth from me.

I cannot love her, nor will strive to do't. [194]                 do it

Thou wrong'st thyself, if thou shouldst strive to choose.

That you are well restored, my lord, I'm glad.
Let the rest go.

KING (after an ominous pause) [195]
My honor's at the stake; which to defeat,
I must produce my power. Here, take her hand,
Proud scornful boy, unworthy this good gift,
That dost in vile misprision [196] shackle up
My love and her desert; that canst not dream
We, poising us in her defective scale,
Shall weigh thee to the beam; [197] that wilt not know
It is in us to plant thine honour where
We please to have it grow. Check thy contempt;
Obey our will, which travails in thy good;
Believe not thy disdain, but presently
Do thine own fortunes that obedient right
Which both thy duty owes and our power claims;
Or I will throw thee from my care for ever
Into the staggers and the careless lapse
Of youth and ignorance; both my revenge and hate
Loosing upon thee in the name of justice,
Without all terms of pity. Speak! . . . Thine answer! [198]

Pardon, my gracious lord; for I submit
My fancy to your eyes. When I consider
What great creation and what dole of honor
Flies where you bid it, I find that she which late
Was in my nobler thoughts most base is now
The praisèd of the King; who, so ennobled,
Is--as 'twere--born so. [199]

                              Take her by the hand,
And tell her she is thine; to whom I promise
A counterpoise, if not to thy estate
A balance more replete.

                              I take her hand. [200]

Good fortune and the favour of the King
Smile upon this contract; whose ceremony
Shall seem expedient on the now-born brief,
And be performed to-night. The solemn feast
Shall more attend upon the coming space,
Expecting absent friends. As thou lov'st her,
Thy love's to me religious; else, does err.

(Exeunt all but LAFEW and PAROLLES who stay behind, commenting of this wedding.)


Do you hear, monsieur? A word with you.

Your pleasure, sir?

Your lord and master did well to make his recantation.

Recantation! My Lord! my master!

Ay; is it not a language I speak?

A most harsh one, and not to be understood without bloody succeeding. My master!

Are you companion to the Count Rossilion?

To any count; to all counts; to what is man.

To what is count's man: count's master is of another style.

You are too old, sir; let it satisfy you, you are too old.

I must tell thee, sirrah, I write man; to which title age cannot bring thee.

What I dare too well do, I dare not do.

I did think thee, for two ordinaries, to be a pretty wise fellow; thou didst make tolerable vent of thy travel; it might pass. Yet the scarfs and the bannerets about thee did manifoldly dissuade me from believing thee a vessel of too great a burden. I have now found thee; when I lose thee again I care not; yet art thou good for nothing but taking up; and that thou’rt scarce worth.

Hadst thou not the privilege of antiquity upon thee--

Do not plunge thyself too far in anger, lest thou hasten thy trial; which if--Lord have mercy on thee for a hen! So, my good window of lattice, fare thee well; thy casement I need not open, for I look through thee. Give me thy hand.

My lord, you give me most egregious indignity.

Ay, with all my heart; and thou art worthy of it.

I have not, my lord, deserved it.

Yes, good faith, ev'ry dram of it; and I will not bate thee a scruple.

Well, I shall be wiser.

Ev’n as soon as thou canst, for thou hast to pull at a smack
o’ th’ contrary. If ever thou be’st bound in thy scarf and
beaten, thou shalt find what it is to be proud of thy bondage. I
have a desire to hold my acquaintance with thee, or rather my
knowledge, that I may say in the default ‘He is a man I know.’

My lord, you do me most insupportable vexation.

I would it were hell pains for thy sake, and my poor doing
eternal; for doing I am past, as I will by thee, in what motion
age will give me leave. Exit

Well, thou hast a son shall take this disgrace off me:
scurvy, old, filthy, scurvy lord! Well, I must be patient; there
is no fettering of authority. I’ll beat him, by my life, if I can
meet him with any convenience, an he were double and double a
lord. I’ll have no more pity of his age than I would have of-
I’ll beat him, and if I could but meet him again.

Re-enter LAFEW

Sirrah, your lord and master’s married; there’s news for
you; you have a new mistress.

I most unfeignedly beseech your lordship to make some
reservation of your wrongs. He is my good lord: whom I serve
above is my master.

Who? God?

Ay, sir.

The devil it is that’s thy master. Why dost thou garter up
thy arms o’ this fashion? Dost make hose of thy sleeves? Do other
servants so? Thou wert best set thy lower part where thy nose
stands. By mine honour, if I were but two hours younger, I’d beat
thee. Methink’st thou art a general offence, and every man should
beat thee. I think thou wast created for men to breathe
themselves upon thee.

This is hard and undeserved measure, my lord.

Go to, sir; you were beaten in Italy for picking a kernel
out of a pomegranate; you are a vagabond, and no true traveller;
you are more saucy with lords and honourable personages than the
commission of your birth and virtue gives you heraldry. You are
not worth another word, else I’d call you knave. I leave you.


Good, very, good, it is so then. Good, very good; let it
be concealed awhile.

Undone, and forfeited to cares for ever!

What's the matter, sweetheart? [2998]

Although before the solemn priest I have sworn,
I will not bed her.

What, what, sweetheart?

O my Parolles, they have married me!
I’ll to the Tuscan wars, and never bed her.

France is a dog-hole, and it no more merits
The tread of a man’s foot. To th’ wars!

There’s letters from my mother; what th’ import is I know
not yet.

Ay, that would be known. To th’ wars, my boy, to th’
He wears his honour in a box unseen
That hugs his kicky-wicky here at home, [2999]
Spending his manly marrow in her arms,
Which should sustain the bound and high curvet
Of Mars's fiery steed. To other regions!
France is a stable; we that dwell in't jades;
Therefore, to th' war!

It shall be so; I'll send her to my house,
Acquaint my mother with my hate to her,
And wherefore I am fled; write to the King
That which I durst not speak. His present gift
Shall furnish me to those Italian fields
Where noble fellows strike. War is no strife
To the dark house and the detested wife.

Will this capriccio hold in thee, art sure?

Go with me to my chamber and advise me.
I’ll send her straight away. To-morrow
I’ll to the wars, she to her single sorrow.

Why, these balls bound; there's noise in it. 'Tis hard: [3000]
A young man married is a man that's marred.
Therefore away, and leave her bravely; go.
The King has done you wrong; but, hush, 'tis so. Exeunt
Paris. The KING’S palace


My mother greets me kindly; is she well?

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’ th’ world; but yet she is not well.