All's Well That Ends Well

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Original text
Act I, Scene I
Enter yong Bertram Count of Rossillion, his Mother,
and Helena, Lord Lafew, all in blacke.

Mother
IN deliuering my sonne from me, I burie a second
husband.

Ros.
And I in going Madam, weep ore my fathers
death anew; but I must attend his maiesties command,
to whom I am now in Ward, euermore in subiection.

Laf.
You shall find of the King a husband Madame,
you sir a father. He that so generally is at all times good,
must of necessitie hold his vertue to you, whose worthinesse
would stirre it vp where it wanted rather then lack it
where there is such abundance.

Mo.
What hope is there of his Maiesties
amendment?

Laf.
He hath abandon'd his Phisitions Madam, vnder
whose practises he hath persecuted time with hope, and
finds no other aduantage in the processe, but onely the
loosing of hope by time.

Mo.
This yong Gentlewoman had a father, O
that had, how sad a passage tis, whose skill was
almost as great as his honestie, had it stretch'd so far,
would haue made nature immortall, and death should
haue play for lacke of worke. Would for the Kings sake hee
were liuing, I thinke it would be the death of the Kings
disease.

Laf.
How call'd you the man you speake of Madam?

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

Laf.
He was excellent indeed Madam, the King very
latelie spoke of him admiringly, and mourningly: hee
was skilfull enough to haue liu'd stil, if knowledge could
be set vp against mortallitie.

Ros.
What is it (my good Lord) the King languishes
of?

Laf.
A Fistula my Lord.

Ros
I heard not of it before.

Laf.
I would it were not notorious. Was this Gentlewoman
the Daughter of Gerard de Narbon

Mo.
His sole childe my Lord, and bequeathed to my
ouer looking. I haue those hopes of her good, that her
education promises her dispositions shee inherits, which
makes faire gifts fairer: for where an vncleane mind
carries vertuous qualities, there commendations go with
pitty, they are vertues and traitors too: in her they are the
better for their simplenesse; she deriues her honestie, and
atcheeues her goodnesse.

Lafew.
Your commendations Madam get from her teares.

Mo.
'Tis the best brine a Maiden can season her
praise in. The remembrance of her father neuer
approches her heart, but the tirrany of her sorrowes
takes all liuelihood from her cheeke. No more of this
Helena go too, no more least it be rather thought you
affect a sorrow, then to haue------

Hell.
I doe affect a sorrow indeed, but I haue it too.

Laf.
Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead,
excessiue greefe the enemie to the liuing.

Mo.
If the liuing be enemie to the greefe, the excesse
makes it soone mortall.

Ros.
Maddam I desire your holie wishes.

Laf.
How vnderstand we that?

Mo.
Be thou blest Bertrame and succeed thy father
In manners as in shape: thy blood and vertue
Contend for Empire in thee, and thy goodnesse
Share with thy birth-right. Loue all, trust a few,
Doe wrong to none: be able for thine enemie
Rather in power then vse: and keepe thy friend
Vnder thy owne lifes key. Be checkt for silence,
But neuer tax'd for speech. What heauen more wil,
That thee may furnish, and my prayers plucke downe,
Fall on thy head. Farwell my Lord,
'Tis an vnseason'd Courtier, good my Lord
Aduise him.

Laf.
He cannot want the best
That shall attend his loue.

Mo.
Heauen blesse him: Farwell Bertram.

Ro.
The best wishes that can be forg'd in your
thoghts be seruants to you: be comfortable
to my mother, your Mistris, and make much of her.

Laf.
Farewell prettie Lady, you must hold the credit of
your father.

Hell.
O were that all, I thinke not on my father,
And these great teares grace his remembrance more
Then those I shed for him. What was he like?
I haue forgott him. My imagination
Carries no fauour in't but Bertrams
I am vndone, there is no liuing, none,
If Bertram be away. 'Twere all one,
That I should loue a bright particuler starre,
And think to wed it, he is so aboue me
In his bright radience and colaterall light,
Must I be comforted, not in his sphere;
Th' ambition in my loue thus plagues it selfe:
The hind that would be mated by the Lion
Must die for loue. 'Twas prettie, though a plague
To see him euerie houre to sit and draw
His arched browes, his hawking eie, his curles
In our hearts table: heart too capeable
Of euerie line and tricke of his sweet fauour.
But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancie
Must sanctifie his Reliques. Who comes heere?
Enter Parrolles.
One that goes with him: I loue him for his sake,
And yet I know him a notorious Liar,
Thinke him a great way foole, solie a coward,
Yet these fixt euils sit so fit in him,
That they take place, when Vertues steely bones
Lookes bleake i'th cold wind: withall, full ofte we see
Cold wisedome waighting on superfluous follie.

Par.
Saue you faire Queene.

Hel.
And you Monarch.

Par.
No.

Hel
And no.

Par.
Are you meditating on virginitie?

Hel.
I: you haue some staine of souldier in you: Let mee
aske you a question. Man is enemie to virginitie, how may
we barracado it against him?

Par.
Keepe him out.

Hel.
But he assailes, and our virginitie though valiant,
in the defence yet is weak: vnfold to vs some war-like
resistance.

Par.
There is none: Man setting downe before you,
will vndermine you, and blow you vp.

Hel.
Blesse our poore Virginity from vnderminers and
blowers vp. Is there no Military policy how Virgins
might blow vp men?

Par.
Virginity beeing blowne downe, Man will quicklier
be blowne vp: marry in blowing him downe againe,
with the breach your selues made, you lose your Citty. It
is not politicke, in the Common-wealth of Nature, to preserue
virginity. Losse of Virginitie, is rationall encrease, and
there was neuer Virgin goe, till virginitie was first lost.
That you were made of, is mettall to make Virgins.
Virginitie, by beeing once lost, may be ten times found: by
being euer kept, it is euer lost: 'tis too cold a
companion: Away with't.

Hel.
I will stand for't a little, though therefore I die
a Virgin.

Par.
There's little can bee saide in't, 'tis against the
rule of Nature. To speake on the part of virginitie, is to
accuse your Mothers; which is most infallible
disobedience. He that hangs himselfe is a Virgin: Virginitie
murthers it selfe, and should be buried in highwayes out of
all sanctified limit, as a desperate Offendresse against
Nature. Virginitie breedes mites, much like a Cheese, consumes
it selfe to the very payring, and so dies with feeding
his owne stomacke. Besides, Virginitie is peeuish, proud,
ydle, made of selfe-loue, which is the most inhibited sinne in
the Cannon. Keepe it not, you cannot choose but loose by't.
Out with't: within ten yeare it will make it selfe two, which
is a goodly increase, and the principall it selfe not much
the worse. Away with't.

Hel.
How might one do sir, to loose it to her owne
liking?

Par.
Let mee see. Marry ill, to like him that ne're it
likes. 'Tis a commodity wil lose the glosse with lying:
The longer kept, the lesse worth: Off with't while 'tis
vendible. Answer the time of request, Virginitie like an
olde Courtier, weares her cap out of fashion, richly suted,
but vnsuteable, iust like the brooch & the tooth-pick,
which were not now: your Date is better in your Pye and
your Porredge, then in your cheeke: and your virginity,
your old virginity, is like one of our French wither'd
peares, it lookes ill, it eates drily, marry 'tis a wither'd
peare: it was formerly better, marry yet 'tis a wither'd
peare: Will you any thing with it?

Hel.
Not my virginity yet:
There shall your Master haue a thousand loues,
A Mother, and a Mistresse, and a friend,
A Phenix, Captaine, and an enemy,
A guide, a Goddesse, and a Soueraigne,
A Counsellor, a Traitoresse, and a Deare:
His humble ambition, proud humility:
His iarring, concord: and his discord, dulcet:
His faith, his sweet disaster: with a world
Of pretty fond adoptious christendomes
That blinking Cupid gossips. Now shall he:
I know not what he shall, God send him well,
The Courts a learning place, and he is one.

Par.
What one ifaith?

Hel.
That I wish well, 'tis pitty.

Par.
What's pitty?

Hel.
That wishing well had not a body in't,
Which might be felt, that we the poorer borne,
Whose baser starres do shut vs vp in wishes,
Might with effects of them follow our friends,
And shew what we alone must thinke, which neuer
Returnes vs thankes.
Enter Page.

Pag.
Monsieur Parrolles / My Lord cals for you.

Par.
Little Hellen farewell, if I can remember thee,
I will thinke of thee at Court.

Hel.
Monsieur Parolles you were borne vnder a
charitable starre.

Par.
Vnder Mars I.

Hel.
I especially thinke, vnder Mars.

Par
Why vnder Mars?

Hel.
The warres hath so kept you vnder, that you must
needes be borne vnder Mars.

Par.
When he was predominant.

Hel.
When he was retrograde I thinke rather.

Par.
Why thinke you so?

Hel.
You go so much backward when you fight.

Par.
That's for aduantage.

Hel.
So is running away, / When feare proposes the
safetie: / But the composition that your valour and feare
makes in you, is a vertue of a good wing, and I like the
weare well.

Paroll.
I am so full of businesses, I cannot answere thee
acutely: I will returne perfect Courtier, in the which my
instruction shall serue to naturalize thee, so thou wilt be
capeable of a Courtiers councell, and vnderstand what
aduice shall thrust vppon thee, else thou diest in thine
vnthankfulnes, and thine ignorance makes thee away,
farewell: When thou hast leysure, say thy praiers: when
thou hast none, remember thy Friends: Get thee a good
husband, and vse him as he vses thee: So farewell.

Hel.
Our remedies oft in our selues do lye,
Which we ascribe to heauen: the fated skye
Giues vs free scope, onely doth backward pull
Our slow designes, when we our selues are dull.
What power is it, which mounts my loue so hye,
That makes me see, and cannot feede mine eye?
The mightiest space in fortune, Nature brings
To ioyne like, likes; and kisse like natiue things.
Impossible be strange attempts to those
That weigh their paines in sence, and do suppose
What hath beene, cannot be. Who euer stroue
To shew her merit, that did misse her loue?
(The Kings disease) my proiect may deceiue me,
But my intents are fixt, and will not leaue me.
Exit
Original text
Act I, Scene II
Flourish Cornets. Enter the King of France with
Letters, and diuers Attendants.

King
The Florentines and Senoys are by th'eares,
Haue fought with equall fortune, and continue
A brauing warre.

1.Lo.G.
So tis reported sir.

King
Nay tis most credible, we heere receiue it,
A certaintie vouch'd from our Cosin Austria
With caution, that the Florentine will moue vs
For speedie ayde: wherein our deerest friend
Preiudicates the businesse, and would seeme
To haue vs make deniall.

1.Lo.G.
His loue and wisedome
Approu'd so to your Maiesty, may pleade
For amplest credence.

King.
He hath arm'd our answer,
And Florence is deni'de before he comes:
Yet for our Gentlemen that meane to see
The Tuscan seruice, freely haue they leaue
To stand on either part.

2.Lo.E.
It well may serue
A nursserie to our Gentrie, who are sicke
For breathing, and exploit.

King.
What's he comes heere.
Enter Bertram, Lafew, and Parolles.

1.Lor.G.
It is the Count Rosignoll my good Lord,
Yong Bertram.

King.
Youth, thou bear'st thy Fathers face,
Franke Nature rather curious then in hast
Hath well compos'd thee: Thy Fathers morall parts
Maist thou inherit too: Welcome to Paris.

Ber.
My thankes and dutie are your Maiesties.

Kin
I would I had that corporall soundnesse now,
As when thy father, and my selfe, in friendship
First tride our souldiership: he did looke farre
Into the seruice of the time, and was
Discipled of the brauest. He lasted long,
But on vs both did haggish Age steale on,
And wore vs out of act: It much repaires me
To talke of your good father; in his youth
He had the wit, which I can well obserue
To day in our yong Lords: but they may iest
Till their owne scorne returne to them vnnoted
Ere they can hide their leuitie in honour:
So like a Courtier, contempt nor bitternesse
Were in his pride, or sharpnesse; if they were,
His equall had awak'd them, and his honour
Clocke to it selfe, knew the true minute when
Exception bid him speake: and at this time
His tongue obey'd his hand. Who were below him,
He vs'd as creatures of another place,
And bow'd his eminent top to their low rankes,
Making them proud of his humilitie,
In their poore praise he humbled: Such a man
Might be a copie to these yonger times;
Which followed well, would demonstrate them now
But goers backward.

Ber.
His good remembrance sir
Lies richer in your thoughts, then on his tombe:
So in approofe liues not his Epitaph,
As in your royall speech.

King.
Would I were with him he would alwaies say,
(Me thinkes I heare him now) his plausiue words
He scatter'd not in eares, but grafted them
To grow there and to beare: Let me not liue,
This his good melancholly oft began
On the Catastrophe and heele of pastime
When it was out: Let me not liue (quoth hee)
After my flame lackes oyle, to be the snuffe
Of yonger spirits, whose apprehensiue senses
All but new things disdaine; whose iudgements are
Meere 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 honie can bring home,
I quickly were dissolued from my hiue
To giue some Labourers roome.

L2.E.
You'r loued Sir,
They that least lend it you, shall lacke you first.

Kin.
I fill a place I know't: how long ist Count
Since the Physitian at your fathers died?
He was much fam'd.

Ber.
Some six moneths since my Lord.

Kin.
If he were liuing, I would try him yet.
Lend me an arme: the rest haue worne me out
With seuerall applications: Nature and sicknesse
Debate it at their leisure. Welcome Count,
My sonne's no deerer.

Ber
Thanke your Maiesty.
Exit Flourish.
Original text
Act I, Scene III
Enter Countesse, Steward, and Clowne.

Coun.
I will now heare, what say you of this
gentlewoman.

Ste.
Maddam the care I haue had to euen your
content, I wish might be found in the Kalender of my
past endeuours, for then we wound our Modestie, and
make foule the clearnesse of our deseruings, when of
our selues we publish them.

Coun.
What doe's this knaue heere? Get you gone
sirra: the complaints I haue heard of you I do not all
beleeue, 'tis my slownesse that I doe not: For I know you
lacke not folly to commit them, & haue abilitie enough
to make such knaueries yours.

Clo.
'Tis not vnknown to you Madam, I am a poore
fellow.

Coun.
Well sir.

Clo.
No maddam, / 'Tis not so well that I am poore,
though manie of the rich are damn'd, but if I may haue
your Ladiships good will to goe to the world, Isbell the
woman and w will doe as we may.

Coun.
Wilt thou needes be a begger?

Clo.
I doe beg your good will in this case.

Cou.
In what case?

Clo.
In Isbels case and mine owne: seruice is no
heritage, and I thinke I shall neuer haue the blessing of
God, till I haue issue a my bodie: for they say barnes are
blessings.

Cou.
Tell me thy reason why thou wilt marrie?

Clo.
My poore bodie Madam requires it, I am driuen
on by the flesh, and hee must needes goe that the diuell
driues.

Cou.
Is this all your worships reason?

Clo.
Faith Madam I haue other holie reasons, such as
they are.

Cou.
May the world know them?

Clo.
I haue beene Madam a wicked creature, as you
and all flesh and blood are, and indeede I doe marrie that I
may repent.

Cou.
Thy marriage sooner then thy wickednesse.

Clo.
I am out a friends Madam, and I hope to haue
friends for my wiues sake.

Cou.
Such friends are thine enemies knaue.

Clo.
Y'are shallow Madam in great friends, for the
knaues come to doe that for me which I am a wearie of:
he that eres my Land, spares my teame, and giues mee
leaue to Inne the crop: if I be his cuckold hee's my drudge;
he that comforts my wife, is the cherisher of my flesh
and blood; hee that cherishes my flesh and blood, loues
my flesh and blood; he that loues 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 feare in marriage, for yong Charbon the Puritan, and
old Poysam the Papist, how somere their hearts are
seuer'd in Religion, their heads are both one, they may
ioule horns together like any Deare i'th Herd.

Cou.
Wilt thou euer be a foule mouth'd and
calumnious knaue?

Clo.
A Prophet I Madam, and I speake the truth the
next waie,
for I the Ballad will repeate,
which men full true shall finde,
your marriage comes by destinie,
your Cuckow sings by kinde.

Cou.
Get you gone sir, Ile talke with you more anon.

Stew
May it please you Madam, that hee bid Hellen
come to you, of her I am to speake.

Cou.
Sirra tell my gentlewoman I would speake
with her, Hellen I meane.

Clo.
Was this faire face the cause, quoth she,
Why the Grecians sacked Troy,
Fond done, done, fond
was this King Priams ioy,
With that she sighed as she stood, bis
And gaue this sentence then,
among nine bad if one be good,
among nine bad if one be good,
there's yet one good in ten.

Cou.
What, one good in tenne? you corrupt the song
sirra.

Clo.
One good woman in ten Madam, which is a
purifying ath' song: would God would serue the world
so all the yeere, weed finde no fault with the tithe woman
if I were the Parson, one in ten quoth a? and wee might
haue a good woman borne but ore euerie blazing starre, or
at an earthquake, 'twould mend the Lotterie well, a man
may draw his heart out ere a plucke one.

Cou.
Youle begone sir knaue, and doe as I
command you?

Clo.
That man should be at womans command, and
yet no hurt done, though honestie be no Puritan, yet it
will doe no hurt, it will weare the Surplis of humilitie ouer
the blacke-Gowne of a bigge heart: I am going forsooth, the
businesse is for Helen to come hither.
Exit.

Cou.
Well now.

Stew.
I know Madam you loue your Gentlewoman
intirely.

Cou.
Faith I doe: her Father bequeath'd her to mee,
and she her selfe without other aduantage, may lawfullie
make title to as much loue as shee findes, there is more
owing her then is paid, and more shall be paid her then
sheele demand.

Stew.
Madam, I was verie late more neere her then I
thinke shee wisht mee, alone shee was, and did communicate
to her selfe her owne words to her owne eares, shee
thought, I dare vowe for her, they toucht not anie
stranger sence, her matter was, shee loued your Sonne;
Fortune shee said was no goddesse, that had put such
difference betwixt their two estates: Loue no god, that
would not extend his might onelie, where qualities were
leuell, Queene of Virgins, that would suffer her
poore Knight surpris'd without rescue in the first assault
or ransome afterward: This shee deliuer'd in the most
bitter touch of sorrow that ere I heard Virgin exclaime
in, which I held my dutie speedily to acquaint you
withall, sithence in the losse that may happen, it
concernes you something to know it.

Cou.
You haue discharg'd this honestlie, keepe it to
your selfe, manie likelihoods inform'd mee of this before,
which hung so tottring in the ballance, that I could
neither beleeue nor misdoubt: praie you leaue mee, stall
this in your bosome, and I thanke you for your honest
care: I will speake with you further anon.
Exit Steward.
Enter Hellen.

Old. Cou.
Euen so it was with me when I was yong:
If euer we are natures, these are ours, this thorne
Doth to our Rose of youth righlie belong
Our bloud to vs, this to our blood is borne,
It is the show, and seale of natures truth,
Where loues strong passion is imprest in youth,
By our remembrances of daies forgon,
Such were our faults, or then we thought them none,
Her eie is sicke on't, I obserue her now.

Hell.
What is your pleasure Madam?

Ol. Cou.
You know Hellen
I am a mother to you.

Hell.
Mine honorable Mistris.

Ol. Cou.
Nay a mother,
why not a mother? when I sed a mother
Me thought 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 seene
Adoption striues with nature, and choise breedes
A natiue slip to vs from forraine seedes:
You nere opprest me with a mothers groane,
Yet I expresse to you a mothers care,
(Gods mercie maiden) dos it curd thy blood
To say I am thy mother? what's the matter,
That this distempered messenger of wet?
The manie colour'd Iris rounds thine eye?
------ Why, that you are my daughter?

Hell.
That I am not.

Old.Cou
I say I am your Mother.

Hell
Pardon Madam.
The Count Rosillion cannot be my brother:
I am from humble, he from honored name:
No note vpon my Parents, his all noble,
My Master, my deere Lord he is, and I
His seruant liue, and will his vassall die:
He must not be my brother.

Ol.Cou.
Nor I your Mother.

Hell.
You are my mother Madam, would you were
So that my Lord your sonne were not my brother,
Indeede my mother, or were you both our mothers,
I care no more for, then I doe for heauen,
So I were not his sister, cant no other,
But I your daughter, he must be my brother.

Old.Cou.
Yes Hellen you might be my daughter in law,
God shield you meane it not, daughter and mother
So striue vpon your pulse; what pale agen?
My feare hath catcht your fondnesse! now I see
The mistrie of your louelinesse, and finde
Your salt teares head, now to all sence 'tis grosse:
You loue my sonne, inuention is asham'd
Against the proclamation of thy passion
To say thou doost not: therefore tell me true,
But tell me then 'tis so, for looke, thy cheekes
Confesse it 'ton tooth to th' other, and thine eies
See it so grosely showne in thy behauiours,
That in their kinde they speake it, onely sinne
And hellish obstinacie tye thy tongue
That truth should be suspected, speake, ist so?
If it be so, you haue wound a goodly clewe:
If it be not, forsweare't how ere I charge thee,
As heauen shall worke in me for thine auaile
To tell me truelie.

Hell.
Good Madam pardon me.

Cou.
Do you loue my Sonne?

Hell.
Your pardon noble Mistris.

Cou.
Loue you my Sonne?

Hell.
Doe not you loue him Madam?

Cou.
Goe not about; my loue hath in't a bond
Whereof the world takes note: Come, come, disclose:
The state of your affection, for your passions
Haue to the full appeach'd.

Hell.
Then I confesse
Here on my knee, before high heauen and you,
That before you, and next vnto high heauen,
I loue your Sonne:
My friends were poore but honest, so's my loue:
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is lou'd of me; I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suite,
Nor would I haue him, till I doe deserue him,
Yet neuer know how that desert should be:
I know I loue in vaine, striue against hope:
Yet in this captious, and intemible Siue.
I still poure in the waters of my loue
And lacke not to loose still; thus Indian like
Religious in mine error, I adore
The Sunne that lookes vpon his worshipper,
But knowes of him no more. My deerest Madam,
Let not your hate incounter with my loue,
For louing where you doe; but if your selfe,
Whose aged honor cites a vertuous youth,
Did euer, in so true a flame of liking,
Wish chastly, and loue dearely, that your Dian
Was both her selfe and loue, O then giue pittie
To her whose state is such, that cannot choose
But lend and giue where she is sure to loose;
That seekes not to finde that, her search implies,
But riddle like, liues sweetely where she dies.

Cou.
Had you not lately an intent, speake truely,
To goe to Paris?

Hell.
Madam I had.

Cou.
Wherefore? tell true.

Hell.
I will tell truth, by grace it selfe I sweare:
You know my Father left me some prescriptions
Of rare and prou'd effects, such as his reading
And manifest experience, had collected
For generall soueraigntie: and that he wil'd me
In heedefull'st reseruation to bestow them,
As notes, whose faculties inclusiue were,
More then they were in note: Amongst the rest,
There is a remedie, approu'd, set downe,
To cure the desperate languishings whereof
The King is render'd lost.

Cou.
This was your motiue
for Paris was it, speake?

Hell.
My Lord, your sonne, made me to think of this;
Else Paris and the medicine, and the King,
Had from the conuersation of my thoughts,
Happily beene absent then.

Cou.
But thinke you Hellen,
If you should tender your supposed aide,
He would receiue it? He and his Phisitions
Are of a minde, he, that they cannot helpe him:
They, that they cannot helpe, how shall they credit
A poore vnlearned Virgin, when the Schooles
Embowel'd of their doctrine, haue left off
The danger to it selfe.

Hell
There's something in't
More then my Fathers skill, which was the great'st
Of his profession, that his good receipt,
Shall for my legacie be sanctified
Byth' luckiest stars in heauen, and would your honor
But giue me leaue to trie successe, I'de venture
The well lost life of mine, on his Graces cure,
By such a day, an houre.

Cou
Doo'st thou beleeue't?

Hell
I Madam knowingly.

Cou
Why Hellen thou shalt haue my leaue and loue,
Meanes and attendants, and my louing greetings
To those of mine in Court, Ile staie at home
And praie Gods blessing into thy attempt:
Begon to morrow, and be sure of this,
What I can helpe thee to, thou shalt not misse.
Exeunt.
Modern text
Act I, Scene I
Enter young Bertram, Count of Rossillion, his mother
the Countess, Helena, and Lord Lafew; all in black

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,
to whom I am now in ward, evermore in subjection.

LAFEW
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.

COUNTESS
What hope is there of his majesty's
amendment?

LAFEW
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.

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 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.

LAFEW
How called you the man you speak of, madam?

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

LAFEW
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.

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

LAFEW
A fistula, my lord.

BERTRAM
I heard not of it before.

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

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, 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.

LAFEW
Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.

COUNTESS
'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't.

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

LAFEW
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.

BERTRAM
Madam, I desire your holy wishes.

LAFEW
How understand we that?

COUNTESS
Be thou blessed, 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.

LAFEW
He cannot want the best
That shall attend his love.

COUNTESS
Heaven bless him! Farewell, Bertram.
Exit

BERTRAM
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.

LAFEW
Farewell, pretty lady. You must hold the credit of
your father.
Exeunt Bertram and Lafew

HELENA
O, were that all! I think not on my father,
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,
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.
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 arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls,
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 relics. Who comes here?
Enter Parolles
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
Look bleak i'th' cold wind. Withal, full oft we see
Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.

PAROLLES
Save you, fair queen!

HELENA
And you, monarch!

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; how 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.

PAROLLES
There is none. Man setting 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?

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 rational increase, and
there was never virgin got till virginity was first lost.
That you were made of is mettle 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!

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; 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 loose by't.
Out with't! Within ten year it will make itself two, which
is a goodly increase, and the 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'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?

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,
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
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 –

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,
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.

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.

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
makes 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's 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, 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 pull
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.
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.
Exit
Modern text
Act I, Scene II
Flourish of cornets. Enter the King of France with
letters, and divers attendants

KING
The Florentines and Senoys are by th' ears,
Have fought with equal fortune, and continue
A braving war.

FIRST LORD
So 'tis reported, sir.

KING
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.

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

KING
He hath armed 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
What's he comes here?
Enter Bertram, Lafew, and Parolles

FIRST LORD
It is the Count Rossillion, my good lord,
Young Bertram.

KING
Youth, thou bearest 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
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 honour.
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 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.

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
Would I were with him! 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
Of younger spirits, whose apprehensive senses
All but new things disdain; whose judgements 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 labourers room.

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

KING
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
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.
Exeunt. Flourish
Modern text
Act I, Scene III
Enter the Countess, Rynaldo her Steward, and
Lavatch her Clown

COUNTESS
I will now hear. What say you of this
gentlewoman?

STEWARD
Madam, the care I have had to even your
content I 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,
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.

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
Y'are shallow, madam; e'en 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 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.

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,
With that she sighed 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.

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

CLOWN
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 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.
Exit

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
concerns 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

COUNTESS
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 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.

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 oppressed 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 distempered messenger of wet,
The many-coloured 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 Rossillion 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.

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 catched 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 t' 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.

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 appeached.

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 intenable 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 willed me
In heedfullest 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.

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,
Embowelled of their doctrine, have left off
The 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 th' luckiest stars in heaven; and would your honour
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, an 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 tomorrow, and be sure of this,
What I can help thee to, thou shalt not miss.
Exeunt
SHAKESPEARE'S WORDS © 2018 DAVID CRYSTAL & BEN CRYSTAL