Open Source Shakespeare

All's Well That Ends Well

(complete text)

Act I

1. Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.

2. Paris. The KING’s palace.

3. Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.

Act II

1. Paris. The KING’s palace.

2. Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.

3. Paris. The KING’s palace.

4. Paris. The KING’s palace.

5. Paris. The KING’s palace.


1. Florence. The DUKE’s palace.

2. Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.

3. Florence. Before the DUKE’s palace.

4. Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.

5. Florence. Without the walls. A tucket afar off.

6. Camp before Florence.

7. Florence. The Widow’s house.

Act IV

1. Without the Florentine camp.

2. Florence. The Widow’s house.

3. The Florentine camp.

4. Florence. The Widow’s house.

5. Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.

Act V

1. Marseilles. A street.

2. Rousillon. Before the COUNT’s palace.

3. Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.

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Act I, Scene 1

Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.


Enter BERTRAM, the COUNTESS of Rousillon, HELENA,] [p]and LAFEU, 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 5
    whom I am now in ward, evermore in subjection.
  • Lafeu. You shall find of the king a husband, madam; you,
    sir, a father: he that so generally is at all times
    good must of necessity hold his virtue to you; whose
    worthiness would stir it up where it wanted rather 10
    than lack it where there is such abundance.
  • Countess. What hope is there of his majesty's amendment?
  • Lafeu. He hath abandoned his physicians, madam; under whose
    practises he hath persecuted time with hope, and
    finds no other advantage in the process but only the 15
    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 20
    should have play for lack of work. Would, for the
    king's sake, he were living! I think it would be
    the death of the king's disease.
  • Lafeu. How called you the man you speak of, madam?
  • Countess. He was famous, sir, in his profession, and it was 25
    his great right to be so: Gerard de Narbon.
  • Lafeu. He was excellent indeed, madam: the king very
    lately spoke of him admiringly and mourningly: he
    was skilful enough to have lived still, if knowledge
    could be set up against mortality. 30
  • Bertram. What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of?
  • Lafeu. A fistula, my lord.
  • Bertram. I heard not of it before.
  • Lafeu. I would it were not notorious. Was this gentlewoman
    the daughter of Gerard de Narbon? 35
  • Countess. His sole child, my lord, and bequeathed to my
    overlooking. I have those hopes of her good that
    her education promises; her dispositions she
    inherits, which makes fair gifts fairer; for where
    an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there 40
    commendations go with pity; they are virtues and
    traitors too; in her they are the better for their
    simpleness; she derives her honesty and achieves her goodness.
  • Lafeu. Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.
  • Countess. 'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise 45
    in. The remembrance of her father never approaches
    her heart but the tyranny of her sorrows takes all
    livelihood from her cheek. No more of this, Helena;
    go to, no more; lest it be rather thought you affect
    a sorrow than have it. 50
  • Helena. I do affect a sorrow indeed, but I have it too.
  • Lafeu. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead,
    excessive grief the enemy to the living.
  • Countess. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess
    makes it soon mortal. 55
  • Bertram. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
  • Lafeu. How understand we that?
  • Countess. Be thou blest, Bertram, and succeed thy father
    In manners, as in shape! thy blood and virtue
    Contend for empire in thee, and thy goodness 60
    Share with thy birthright! Love all, trust a few,
    Do wrong to none: be able for thine enemy
    Rather in power than use, and keep thy friend
    Under thy own life's key: be cheque'd for silence,
    But never tax'd for speech. What heaven more will, 65
    That thee may furnish and my prayers pluck down,
    Fall on thy head! Farewell, my lord;
    'Tis an unseason'd courtier; good my lord,
    Advise him.
  • Lafeu. He cannot want the best 70
    That shall attend his love.
  • Countess. Heaven bless him! Farewell, Bertram.


  • Bertram. [To HELENA] The best wishes that can be forged in
    your thoughts be servants to you! Be comfortable 75
    to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her.
  • Lafeu. Farewell, pretty lady: you must hold the credit of
    your father.

[Exeunt BERTRAM and LAFEU]

  • Helena. O, were that all! I think not on my father; 80
    And these great tears grace his remembrance more
    Than those I shed for him. What was he like?
    I have forgot him: my imagination
    Carries no favour in't but Bertram's.
    I am undone: there is no living, none, 85
    If Bertram be away. 'Twere all one
    That I should love a bright particular star
    And think to wed it, he is so above me:
    In his bright radiance and collateral light
    Must I be comforted, not in his sphere. 90
    The ambition in my love thus plagues itself:
    The hind that would be mated by the lion
    Must die for love. 'Twas pretty, though plague,
    To see him every hour; to sit and draw
    His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls, 95
    In our heart's table; heart too capable
    Of every line and trick of his sweet favour:
    But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancy
    Must sanctify his reliques. Who comes here?
    [Enter PAROLLES] 100
    One that goes with him: I love him for his sake;
    And yet I know him a notorious liar,
    Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;
    Yet these fixed evils sit so fit in him, 105
    That they take place, when virtue's steely bones
    Look bleak i' the cold wind: withal, full oft we see
    Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.
  • Parolles. Save you, fair queen!
  • Helena. And you, monarch! 110
  • Parolles. No.
  • Helena. And no.
  • Parolles. Are you meditating on virginity?
  • Helena. Ay. You have some stain of soldier in you: let me
    ask you a question. Man is enemy to virginity; how 115
    may we barricado it against him?
  • Parolles. Keep him out.
  • Helena. But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant,
    in the defence yet is weak: unfold to us some
    warlike resistance. 120
  • Parolles. There is none: man, sitting down before you, will
    undermine you and blow you up.
  • Helena. Bless our poor virginity from underminers and
    blowers up! Is there no military policy, how
    virgins might blow up men? 125
  • Parolles. Virginity being blown down, man will quicklier be
    blown up: marry, in blowing him down again, with
    the breach yourselves made, you lose your city. It
    is not politic in the commonwealth of nature to
    preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational 130
    increase and there was never virgin got till
    virginity was first lost. That you were made of is
    metal to make virgins. Virginity by being once lost
    may be ten times found; by being ever kept, it is
    ever lost: 'tis too cold a companion; away with 't! 135
  • Helena. I will stand for 't a little, though therefore I die a virgin.
  • Parolles. There's little can be said in 't; 'tis against the
    rule of nature. To speak on the part of virginity,
    is to accuse your mothers; which is most infallible
    disobedience. He that hangs himself is a virgin: 140
    virginity murders itself and should be buried in
    highways out of all sanctified limit, as a desperate
    offendress against nature. Virginity breeds mites,
    much like a cheese; consumes itself to the very
    paring, and so dies with feeding his own stomach. 145
    Besides, virginity is peevish, proud, idle, made of
    self-love, which is the most inhibited sin in the
    canon. Keep it not; you cannot choose but loose
    by't: out with 't! within ten year it will make
    itself ten, which is a goodly increase; and the 150
    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 155
    while 'tis vendible; answer the time of request.
    Virginity, like an old courtier, wears her cap out
    of fashion: richly suited, but unsuitable: just
    like the brooch and the tooth-pick, which wear not
    now. Your date is better in your pie and your 160
    porridge than in your cheek; and your virginity,
    your old virginity, is like one of our French
    withered pears, it looks ill, it eats drily; marry,
    'tis a withered pear; it was formerly better;
    marry, yet 'tis a withered pear: will you anything with it? 165
  • Helena. Not my virginity yet [—]
    There shall your master have a thousand loves,
    A mother and a mistress and a friend,
    A phoenix, captain and an enemy,
    A guide, a goddess, and a sovereign, 170
    A counsellor, a traitress, and a dear;
    His humble ambition, proud humility,
    His jarring concord, and his discord dulcet,
    His faith, his sweet disaster; with a world
    Of pretty, fond, adoptious christendoms, 175
    That blinking Cupid gossips. Now shall he—
    I know not what he shall. God send him well!
    The court's a learning place, and he is one—
  • Parolles. What one, i' faith?
  • Helena. That I wish well. 'Tis pity— 180
  • Parolles. What's pity?
  • Helena. That wishing well had not a body in't,
    Which might be felt; that we, the poorer born,
    Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes,
    Might with effects of them follow our friends, 185
    And show what we alone must think, which never
    Return us thanks.

[Enter Page]

  • Page. Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you.


  • Parolles. Little Helen, farewell; if I can remember thee, I
    will think of thee at court.
  • Helena. Monsieur Parolles, you were born under a charitable star.
  • Parolles. Under Mars, I.
  • Helena. I especially think, under Mars. 195
  • Parolles. Why under Mars?
  • Helena. The wars have so kept you under that you must needs
    be born under Mars.
  • Parolles. When he was predominant.
  • Helena. When he was retrograde, I think, rather. 200
  • Parolles. Why think you so?
  • Helena. You go so much backward when you fight.
  • Parolles. That's for advantage.
  • Helena. So is running away, when fear proposes the safety;
    but the composition that your valour and fear makes 205
    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 210
    counsel and understand what advice shall thrust upon
    thee; else thou diest in thine unthankfulness, and
    thine ignorance makes thee away: farewell. When
    thou hast leisure, say thy prayers; when thou hast
    none, remember thy friends; get thee a good husband, 215
    and use him as he uses thee; so, farewell.


  • Helena. Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
    Which we ascribe to heaven: the fated sky
    Gives us free scope, only doth backward pull 220
    Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.
    What power is it which mounts my love so high,
    That makes me see, and cannot feed mine eye?
    The mightiest space in fortune nature brings
    To join like likes and kiss like native things. 225
    Impossible be strange attempts to those
    That weigh their pains in sense and do suppose
    What hath been cannot be: who ever strove
    So show her merit, that did miss her love?
    The king's disease—my project may deceive me, 230
    But my intents are fix'd and will not leave me.



Act I, Scene 2

Paris. The KING’s palace.


Flourish of cornets. Enter the KING of France,] [p]with letters, and divers Attendants]

  • King of France. The Florentines and Senoys are by the ears; 235
    Have fought with equal fortune and continue
    A braving war.
  • First Lord. So 'tis reported, sir.
  • King of France. Nay, 'tis most credible; we here received it
    A certainty, vouch'd from our cousin Austria, 240
    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, 245
    Approved so to your majesty, may plead
    For amplest credence.
  • King of France. He hath arm'd our answer,
    And Florence is denied before he comes:
    Yet, for our gentlemen that mean to see 250
    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. 255
  • King of France. What's he comes here?


  • First Lord. It is the Count Rousillon, my good lord,
    Young Bertram.
  • King of France. Youth, thou bear'st thy father's face; 260
    Frank nature, rather curious than in haste,
    Hath well composed thee. Thy father's moral parts
    Mayst thou inherit too! Welcome to Paris.
  • Bertram. My thanks and duty are your majesty's.
  • King of France. I would I had that corporal soundness now, 265
    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 270
    And wore us out of act. It much repairs me
    To talk of your good father. In his youth
    He had the wit which I can well observe
    To-day in our young lords; but they may jest
    Till their own scorn return to them unnoted 275
    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 280
    Exception bid him speak, and at this time
    His tongue obey'd his hand: who were below him
    He used as creatures of another place
    And bow'd his eminent top to their low ranks,
    Making them proud of his humility, 285
    In their poor praise he humbled. Such a man
    Might be a copy to these younger times;
    Which, follow'd well, would demonstrate them now
    But goers backward.
  • Bertram. His good remembrance, sir, 290
    Lies richer in your thoughts than on his tomb;
    So in approof lives not his epitaph
    As in your royal speech.
  • King of France. Would I were with him! He would always say—
    Methinks I hear him now; his plausive words 295
    He scatter'd not in ears, but grafted them,
    To grow there and to bear,—'Let me not live,'—
    This his good melancholy oft began,
    On the catastrophe and heel of pastime,
    When it was out,—'Let me not live,' quoth he, 300
    'After my flame lacks oil, to be the snuff
    Of younger spirits, whose apprehensive senses
    All but new things disdain; whose judgments are
    Mere fathers of their garments; whose constancies
    Expire before their fashions.' This he wish'd; 305
    I after him do after him wish too,
    Since I nor wax nor honey can bring home,
    I quickly were dissolved from my hive,
    To give some labourers room.
  • Second Lord. You are loved, sir: 310
    They that least lend it you shall lack you first.
  • King of France. I fill a place, I know't. How long is't, count,
    Since the physician at your father's died?
    He was much famed.
  • Bertram. Some six months since, my lord. 315
  • King of France. If he were living, I would try him yet.
    Lend me an arm; the rest have worn me out
    With several applications; nature and sickness
    Debate it at their leisure. Welcome, count;
    My son's no dearer. 320
  • Bertram. Thank your majesty.

[Exeunt. Flourish]


Act I, Scene 3

Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.


[Enter COUNTESS, Steward, and Clown]

  • Countess. I will now hear; what say you of this gentlewoman?
  • Steward. Madam, the care I have had to even your content, I 325
    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: 330
    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. 335
  • 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. 340
  • 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 345
    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. 350
  • Countess. Is this all your worship's reason?
  • Clown. Faith, madam, I have other holy reasons such as they
  • Countess. May the world know them?
  • Clown. I have been, madam, a wicked creature, as you and 355
    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. 360
  • Countess. Such friends are thine enemies, knave.
  • Clown. You're shallow, madam, in great friends; for the
    knaves come to do that for me which I am aweary of.
    He that ears my land spares my team and gives me
    leave to in the crop; if I be his cuckold, he's my 365
    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 370
    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' the herd. 375
  • Countess. Wilt thou ever be a foul-mouthed and calumnious knave?
  • Clown. A prophet I, madam; and I speak the truth the next
    For I the ballad will repeat,
    Which men full true shall find; 380
    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. 385
  • 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, 390
    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, 395
    Among nine bad if one be good,
    There's yet one good in ten.
  • Countess. What, one good in ten? you corrupt the song, sirrah.
  • Clown. One good woman in ten, madam; which is a purifying
    o' the song: would God would serve the world so all 400
    the year! we'ld find no fault with the tithe-woman,
    if I were the parson. One in ten, quoth a'! An we
    might have a good woman born but one every blazing
    star, or at an earthquake, 'twould mend the lottery
    well: a man may draw his heart out, ere a' pluck 405
  • 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 410
    humility over the black gown of a big heart. I am
    going, forsooth: the business is for Helen to come hither.


  • Countess. Well, now.
  • Steward. I know, madam, you love your gentlewoman entirely. 415
  • 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. 420
  • 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: 425
    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 430
    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 435
    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, 440
    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: 445
    If ever we are nature's, these are ours; this thorn
    Doth to our rose of youth rightly belong;
    Our blood to us, this to our blood is born;
    It is the show and seal of nature's truth,
    Where love's strong passion is impress'd in youth: 450
    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, 455
    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,' 460
    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: 465
    You ne'er oppress'd me with a mother's groan,
    Yet I express to you a mother's care:
    God's mercy, maiden! does it curd thy blood
    To say I am thy mother? What's the matter,
    That this distemper'd messenger of wet, 470
    The many-colour'd Iris, rounds thine eye?
    Why? that you are my daughter?
  • Helena. That I am not.
  • Countess. I say, I am your mother.
  • Helena. Pardon, madam; 475
    The Count Rousillon cannot be my brother:
    I am from humble, he from honour'd name;
    No note upon my parents, his all noble:
    My master, my dear lord he is; and I
    His servant live, and will his vassal die: 480
    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, 485
    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 490
    So strive upon your pulse. What, pale again?
    My fear hath catch'd your fondness: now I see
    The mystery of your loneliness, and find
    Your salt tears' head: now to all sense 'tis gross
    You love my son; invention is ashamed, 495
    Against the proclamation of thy passion,
    To say thou dost not: therefore tell me true;
    But tell me then, 'tis so; for, look thy cheeks
    Confess it, th' one to th' other; and thine eyes
    See it so grossly shown in thy behaviors 500
    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, 505
    As heaven shall work in me for thine avail,
    Tell me truly.
  • Helena. Good madam, pardon me!
  • Countess. Do you love my son?
  • Helena. Your pardon, noble mistress! 510
  • 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 515
    Have to the full appeach'd.
  • Helena. Then, I confess,
    Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
    That before you, and next unto high heaven,
    I love your son. 520
    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; 525
    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, 530
    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, 535
    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 540
    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? 545
  • 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 550
    And manifest experience had collected
    For general sovereignty; and that he will'd me
    In heedfull'st reservation to bestow them,
    As notes whose faculties inclusive were
    More than they were in note: amongst the rest, 555
    There is a remedy, approved, set down,
    To cure the desperate languishings whereof
    The king is render'd lost.
  • Countess. This was your motive
    For Paris, was it? speak. 560
  • 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, 565
    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, 570
    Embowell'd 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 575
    Shall for my legacy be sanctified
    By the luckiest stars in heaven: and, would your honour
    But give me leave to try success, I'ld venture
    The well-lost life of mine on his grace's cure
    By such a day and hour. 580
  • 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 585
    And pray God's blessing into thy attempt:
    Be gone to-morrow; and be sure of this,
    What I can help thee to thou shalt not miss.



Act II, Scene 1

Paris. The KING’s palace.


[Flourish of cornets. Enter the KING, attended] [p]with divers young Lords taking leave for the [p]Florentine war; BERTRAM, and PAROLLES]

  • King of France. Farewell, young lords; these warlike principles
    Do not throw from you: and you, my lords, farewell:
    Share the advice betwixt you; if both gain, all 595
    The gift doth stretch itself as 'tis received,
    And is enough for both.
  • First Lord. 'Tis our hope, sir,
    After well enter'd soldiers, to return
    And find your grace in health. 600
  • King of France. No, no, it cannot be; and yet my heart
    Will not confess he owes the malady
    That doth my life besiege. Farewell, young lords;
    Whether I live or die, be you the sons
    Of worthy Frenchmen: let higher Italy,— 605
    Those bated that inherit but the fall
    Of the last monarchy,—see that you come
    Not to woo honour, but to wed it; when
    The bravest questant shrinks, find what you seek,
    That fame may cry you loud: I say, farewell. 610
  • Second Lord. Health, at your bidding, serve your majesty!
  • King of France. Those girls of Italy, take heed of them:
    They say, our French lack language to deny,
    If they demand: beware of being captives,
    Before you serve. 615
  • Both. Our hearts receive your warnings.
  • King of France. Farewell. Come hither to me.

[Exit, attended]

  • First Lord. O, my sweet lord, that you will stay behind us!
  • Parolles. 'Tis not his fault, the spark. 620
  • Second Lord. O, 'tis brave wars!
  • Parolles. Most admirable: I have seen those wars.
  • Bertram. I am commanded here, and kept a coil with
    'Too young' and 'the next year' and 'tis too early.'
  • Parolles. An thy mind stand to't, boy, steal away bravely. 625
  • Bertram. I shall stay here the forehorse to a smock,
    Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry,
    Till honour be bought up and no sword worn
    But one to dance with! By heaven, I'll steal away.
  • First Lord. There's honour in the theft. 630
  • Parolles. Commit it, count.
  • Second Lord. I am your accessary; and so, farewell.
  • Bertram. I grow to you, and our parting is a tortured body.
  • First Lord. Farewell, captain.
  • Second Lord. Sweet Monsieur Parolles! 635
  • Parolles. Noble heroes, my sword and yours are kin. Good
    sparks and lustrous, a word, good metals: you shall
    find in the regiment of the Spinii one Captain
    Spurio, with his cicatrice, an emblem of war, here
    on his sinister cheek; it was this very sword 640
    entrenched it: say to him, I live; and observe his
    reports for me.
  • First Lord. We shall, noble captain.

[Exeunt Lords]

  • Parolles. Mars dote on you for his novices! what will ye do? 645
  • Bertram. Stay: the king.

[Re-enter KING. BERTRAM and PAROLLES retire]

  • Parolles. [To BERTRAM] Use a more spacious ceremony to the
    noble lords; you have restrained yourself within the
    list of too cold an adieu: be more expressive to 650
    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. 655
  • Bertram. And I will do so.
  • Parolles. Worthy fellows; and like to prove most sinewy sword-men.


[Enter LAFEU]

  • Lafeu. [Kneeling] Pardon, my lord, for me and for my tidings. 660
  • King of France. I'll fee thee to stand up.
  • Lafeu. Then here's a man stands, that has brought his pardon.
    I would you had kneel'd, my lord, to ask me mercy,
    And that at my bidding you could so stand up.
  • King of France. I would I had; so I had broke thy pate, 665
    And ask'd thee mercy for't.
  • Lafeu. Good faith, across: but, my good lord 'tis thus;
    Will you be cured of your infirmity?
  • King of France. No.
  • Lafeu. O, will you eat no grapes, my royal fox? 670
    Yes, but you will my noble grapes, an if
    My royal fox could reach them: I have seen a medicine
    That's able to breathe life into a stone,
    Quicken a rock, and make you dance canary
    With spritely fire and motion; whose simple touch, 675
    Is powerful to araise King Pepin, nay,
    To give great Charlemain a pen in's hand,
    And write to her a love-line.
  • King of France. What 'her' is this?
  • Lafeu. Why, Doctor She: my lord, there's one arrived, 680
    If you will see her: now, by my faith and honour,
    If seriously I may convey my thoughts
    In this my light deliverance, I have spoke
    With one that, in her sex, her years, profession,
    Wisdom and constancy, hath amazed me more 685
    Than I dare blame my weakness: will you see her
    For that is her demand, and know her business?
    That done, laugh well at me.
  • King of France. Now, good Lafeu,
    Bring in the admiration; that we with thee 690
    May spend our wonder too, or take off thine
    By wondering how thou took'st it.
  • Lafeu. Nay, I'll fit you,
    And not be all day neither.


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

[Re-enter LAFEU, with HELENA]

  • Lafeu. Nay, come your ways.
  • King of France. This haste hath wings indeed.
  • Lafeu. Nay, come your ways: 700
    This is his majesty; say your mind to him:
    A traitor you do look like; but such traitors
    His majesty seldom fears: I am Cressid's uncle,
    That dare leave two together; fare you well.


  • King of France. Now, fair one, does your business follow us?
  • Helena. Ay, my good lord.
    Gerard de Narbon was my father;
    In what he did profess, well found.
  • King of France. I knew him. 710
  • Helena. The rather will I spare my praises towards him:
    Knowing him is enough. On's bed of death
    Many receipts he gave me: chiefly one.
    Which, as the dearest issue of his practise,
    And of his old experience the oily darling, 715
    He bade me store up, as a triple eye,
    Safer than mine own two, more dear; I have so;
    And hearing your high majesty is touch'd
    With that malignant cause wherein the honour
    Of my dear father's gift stands chief in power, 720
    I come to tender it and my appliance
    With all bound humbleness.
  • King of France. We thank you, maiden;
    But may not be so credulous of cure,
    When our most learned doctors leave us and 725
    The congregated college have concluded
    That labouring art can never ransom nature
    From her inaidible estate; I say we must not
    So stain our judgment, or corrupt our hope,
    To prostitute our past-cure malady 730
    To empirics, or to dissever so
    Our great self and our credit, to esteem
    A senseless help when help past sense we deem.
  • Helena. My duty then shall pay me for my pains:
    I will no more enforce mine office on you. 735
    Humbly entreating from your royal thoughts
    A modest one, to bear me back a again.
  • King of France. I cannot give thee less, to be call'd grateful:
    Thou thought'st to help me; and such thanks I give
    As one near death to those that wish him live: 740
    But what at full I know, thou know'st no part,
    I knowing all my peril, thou no art.
  • Helena. What I can do can do no hurt to try,
    Since you set up your rest 'gainst remedy.
    He that of greatest works is finisher 745
    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. 750
    Oft expectation fails and most oft there
    Where most it promises, and oft it hits
    Where hope is coldest and despair most fits.
  • King of France. I must not hear thee; fare thee well, kind maid;
    Thy pains not used must by thyself be paid: 755
    Proffers not took reap thanks for their reward.
  • Helena. Inspired merit so by breath is barr'd:
    It is not so with Him that all things knows
    As 'tis with us that square our guess by shows;
    But most it is presumption in us when 760
    The help of heaven we count the act of men.
    Dear sir, to my endeavours give consent;
    Of heaven, not me, make an experiment.
    I am not an impostor that proclaim
    Myself against the level of mine aim; 765
    But know I think and think I know most sure
    My art is not past power nor you past cure.
  • King of France. Are thou so confident? within what space
    Hopest thou my cure?
  • Helena. The great'st grace lending grace 770
    Ere twice the horses of the sun shall bring
    Their fiery torcher his diurnal ring,
    Ere twice in murk and occidental damp
    Moist Hesperus hath quench'd his sleepy lamp,
    Or four and twenty times the pilot's glass 775
    Hath told the thievish minutes how they pass,
    What is infirm from your sound parts shall fly,
    Health shall live free and sickness freely die.
  • King of France. Upon thy certainty and confidence
    What darest thou venture? 780
  • Helena. Tax of impudence,
    A strumpet's boldness, a divulged shame
    Traduced by odious ballads: my maiden's name
    Sear'd otherwise; nay, worse—if worse—extended
    With vilest torture let my life be ended. 785
  • King of France. 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 790
    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. 795
    Sweet practiser, thy physic I will try,
    That ministers thine own death if I die.
  • Helena. If I break time, or flinch in property
    Of what I spoke, unpitied let me die,
    And well deserved: not helping, death's my fee; 800
    But, if I help, what do you promise me?
  • King of France. Make thy demand.
  • Helena. But will you make it even?
  • King of France. Ay, by my sceptre and my hopes of heaven.
  • Helena. Then shalt thou give me with thy kingly hand 805
    What husband in thy power I will command:
    Exempted be from me the arrogance
    To choose from forth the royal blood of France,
    My low and humble name to propagate
    With any branch or image of thy state; 810
    But such a one, thy vassal, whom I know
    Is free for me to ask, thee to bestow.
  • King of France. Here is my hand; the premises observed,
    Thy will by my performance shall be served:
    So make the choice of thy own time, for I, 815
    Thy resolved patient, on thee still rely.
    More should I question thee, and more I must,
    Though more to know could not be more to trust,
    From whence thou camest, how tended on: but rest
    Unquestion'd welcome and undoubted blest. 820
    Give me some help here, ho! If thou proceed
    As high as word, my deed shall match thy meed.

[Flourish. Exeunt]


Act II, Scene 2

Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.


[Enter COUNTESS and Clown]

  • Countess. Come on, sir; I shall now put you to the height of 825
    your breeding.
  • Clown. I will show myself highly fed and lowly taught: I
    know my business is but to the court.
  • Countess. To the court! why, what place make you special,
    when you put off that with such contempt? But to the court! 830
  • Clown. Truly, madam, if God have lent a man any manners, he
    may easily put it off at court: he that cannot make
    a leg, put off's cap, kiss his hand and say nothing,
    has neither leg, hands, lip, nor cap; and indeed
    such a fellow, to say precisely, were not for the 835
    court; but for me, I have an answer will serve all
  • Countess. Marry, that's a bountiful answer that fits all
  • Clown. It is like a barber's chair that fits all buttocks, 840
    the pin-buttock, the quatch-buttock, the brawn
    buttock, or any buttock.
  • Countess. Will your answer serve fit to all questions?
  • Clown. As fit as ten groats is for the hand of an attorney,
    as your French crown for your taffeta punk, as Tib's 845
    rush for Tom's forefinger, as a pancake for Shrove
    Tuesday, a morris for May-day, as the nail to his
    hole, the cuckold to his horn, as a scolding queen
    to a wrangling knave, as the nun's lip to the
    friar's mouth, nay, as the pudding to his skin. 850
  • Countess. Have you, I say, an answer of such fitness for all
  • Clown. From below your duke to beneath your constable, it
    will fit any question.
  • Countess. It must be an answer of most monstrous size that 855
    must fit all demands.
  • Clown. But a trifle neither, in good faith, if the learned
    should speak truth of it: here it is, and all that
    belongs to't. Ask me if I am a courtier: it shall
    do you no harm to learn. 860
  • Countess. To be young again, if we could: I will be a fool in
    question, hoping to be the wiser by your answer. I
    pray you, sir, are you a courtier?
  • Clown. O Lord, sir! There's a simple putting off. More,
    more, a hundred of them. 865
  • Countess. Sir, I am a poor friend of yours, that loves you.
  • Clown. O Lord, sir! Thick, thick, spare not me.
  • Countess. I think, sir, you can eat none of this homely meat.
  • Clown. O Lord, sir! Nay, put me to't, I warrant you.
  • Countess. You were lately whipped, sir, as I think. 870
  • Clown. O Lord, sir! spare not me.
  • Countess. Do you cry, 'O Lord, sir!' at your whipping, and
    'spare not me?' Indeed your 'O Lord, sir!' is very
    sequent to your whipping: you would answer very well
    to a whipping, if you were but bound to't. 875
  • Clown. I ne'er had worse luck in my life in my 'O Lord,
    sir!' I see things may serve long, but not serve ever.
  • Countess. I play the noble housewife with the time
    To entertain't so merrily with a fool.
  • Clown. O Lord, sir! why, there't serves well again. 880
  • Countess. An end, sir; to your business. Give Helen this,
    And urge her to a present answer back:
    Commend me to my kinsmen and my son:
    This is not much.
  • Clown. Not much commendation to them. 885
  • Countess. Not much employment for you: you understand me?
  • Clown. Most fruitfully: I am there before my legs.
  • Countess. Haste you again.

[Exeunt severally]


Act II, Scene 3

Paris. The KING’s palace.



  • Lafeu. They say miracles are past; 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 895
    ourselves to an unknown fear.
  • Parolles. Why, 'tis the rarest argument of wonder that hath
    shot out in our latter times.
  • Bertram. And so 'tis.
  • Lafeu. To be relinquish'd of the artists,— 900
  • Parolles. So I say.
  • Lafeu. Both of Galen and Paracelsus.
  • Parolles. So I say.
  • Lafeu. Of all the learned and authentic fellows,—
  • Parolles. Right; so I say. 905
  • Lafeu. That gave him out incurable,—
  • Parolles. Why, there 'tis; so say I too.
  • Lafeu. Not to be helped,—
  • Parolles. Right; as 'twere, a man assured of a—
  • Lafeu. Uncertain life, and sure death. 910
  • Parolles. Just, you say well; so would I have said.
  • Lafeu. I may truly say, it is a novelty to the world.
  • Parolles. It is, indeed: if you will have it in showing, you
    shall read it in—what do you call there?
  • Lafeu. A showing of a heavenly effect in an earthly actor. 915
  • Parolles. That's it; I would have said the very same.
  • Lafeu. Why, your dolphin is not lustier: 'fore me,
    I speak in respect—
  • Parolles. Nay, 'tis strange, 'tis very strange, that is the
    brief and the tedious of it; and he's of a most 920
    facinerious spirit that will not acknowledge it to be the—
  • Lafeu. Very hand of heaven.
  • Parolles. Ay, so I say.
  • Lafeu. In a most weak—
    [pausing] 925
    and debile minister, great power, great
    transcendence: which should, indeed, give us a
    further use to be made than alone the recovery of
    the king, as to be—
    [pausing] 930
    generally thankful.
  • Parolles. I would have said it; you say well. Here comes the king.
    [Enter KING, HELENA, and Attendants. LAFEU and]
    PAROLLES retire]
  • Lafeu. Lustig, as the Dutchman says: I'll like a maid the 935
    better, whilst I have a tooth in my head: why, he's
    able to lead her a coranto.
  • Parolles. Mort du vinaigre! is not this Helen?
  • Lafeu. 'Fore God, I think so.
  • King of France. Go, call before me all the lords in court. 940
    Sit, my preserver, by thy patient's side;
    And with this healthful hand, whose banish'd sense
    Thou hast repeal'd, a second time receive
    The confirmation of my promised gift,
    Which but attends thy naming. 945
    [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; 950
    Thou hast power to choose, and they none to forsake.
  • Helena. To each of you one fair and virtuous mistress
    Fall, when Love please! marry, to each, but one!
  • Lafeu. I'ld give bay Curtal and his furniture,
    My mouth no more were broken than these boys', 955
    And writ as little beard.
  • King of France. Peruse them well:
    Not one of those but had a noble father.
  • Helena. Gentlemen,
    Heaven hath through me restored the king to health. 960
  • All. We understand it, and thank heaven for you.
  • Helena. I am a simple maid, and therein wealthiest,
    That I protest I simply am a maid.
    Please it your majesty, I have done already:
    The blushes in my cheeks thus whisper me, 965
    '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.'
  • King of France. Make choice; and, see,
    Who shuns thy love shuns all his love in me. 970
  • Helena. Now, Dian, from thy altar do I fly,
    And to imperial Love, that god most high,
    Do my sighs stream. Sir, will you hear my suit?
  • First Lord. And grant it.
  • Helena. Thanks, sir; all the rest is mute. 975
  • Lafeu. I had rather be in this choice than throw ames-ace
    for my life.
  • Helena. The honour, sir, that flames in your fair eyes,
    Before I speak, too threateningly replies:
    Love make your fortunes twenty times above 980
    Her that so wishes and her humble love!
  • Second Lord. No better, if you please.
  • Helena. My wish receive,
    Which great Love grant! and so, I take my leave.
  • Lafeu. Do all they deny her? An they were sons of mine, 985
    I'd have them whipped; or I would send them to the
    Turk, to make eunuchs of.
  • Helena. 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 990
    Find fairer fortune, if you ever wed!
  • Lafeu. These boys are boys of ice, they'll none have her:
    sure, they are bastards to the English; the French
    ne'er got 'em.
  • Helena. You are too young, too happy, and too good, 995
    To make yourself a son out of my blood.
  • Fourth Lord. Fair one, I think not so.
  • Lafeu. 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. 1000
  • Helena. [To BERTRAM] 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.
  • King of France. Why, then, young Bertram, take her; she's thy wife.
  • Bertram. My wife, my liege! I shall beseech your highness, 1005
    In such a business give me leave to use
    The help of mine own eyes.
  • King of France. Know'st thou not, Bertram,
    What she has done for me?
  • Bertram. Yes, my good lord; 1010
    But never hope to know why I should marry her.
  • King of France. Thou know'st she has raised me from my sickly bed.
  • Bertram. 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. 1015
    A poor physician's daughter my wife! Disdain
    Rather corrupt me ever!
  • King of France. 'Tis only title thou disdain'st in her, the which
    I can build up. Strange is it that our bloods,
    Of colour, weight, and heat, pour'd all together, 1020
    Would quite confound distinction, yet stand off
    In differences so mighty. If she be
    All that is virtuous, save what thou dislikest,
    A poor physician's daughter, thou dislikest
    Of virtue for the name: but do not so: 1025
    From lowest place when virtuous things proceed,
    The place is dignified by the doer's deed:
    Where great additions swell's, and virtue none,
    It is a dropsied honour. Good alone
    Is good without a name. Vileness is so: 1030
    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 honour: that is honour's scorn,
    Which challenges itself as honour's born 1035
    And is not like the sire: honours thrive,
    When rather from our acts we them derive
    Than our foregoers: the mere word's a slave
    Debosh'd on every tomb, on every grave
    A lying trophy, and as oft is dumb 1040
    Where dust and damn'd oblivion is the tomb
    Of honour'd 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; honour and wealth from me. 1045
  • Bertram. I cannot love her, nor will strive to do't.
  • King of France. Thou wrong'st thyself, if thou shouldst strive to choose.
  • Helena. That you are well restored, my lord, I'm glad:
    Let the rest go.
  • King of France. My honour's at the stake; which to defeat, 1050
    I must produce my power. Here, take her hand,
    Proud scornful boy, unworthy this good gift;
    That dost in vile misprision shackle up
    My love and her desert; that canst not dream,
    We, poising us in her defective scale, 1055
    Shall weigh thee to the beam; that wilt not know,
    It is in us to plant thine honour where
    We please to have it grow. Cheque thy contempt:
    Obey our will, which travails in thy good:
    Believe not thy disdain, but presently 1060
    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 1065
    Loosing upon thee, in the name of justice,
    Without all terms of pity. Speak; thine answer.
  • Bertram. Pardon, my gracious lord; for I submit
    My fancy to your eyes: when I consider
    What great creation and what dole of honour 1070
    Flies where you bid it, I find that she, which late
    Was in my nobler thoughts most base, is now
    The praised of the king; who, so ennobled,
    Is as 'twere born so.
  • King of France. Take her by the hand, 1075
    And tell her she is thine: to whom I promise
    A counterpoise, if not to thy estate
    A balance more replete.
  • Bertram. I take her hand.
  • King of France. Good fortune and the favour of the king 1080
    Smile upon this contract; whose ceremony
    Shall seem expedient on the now-born brief,
    And be perform'd to-night: the solemn feast
    Shall more attend upon the coming space,
    Expecting absent friends. As thou lovest her, 1085
    Thy love's to me religious; else, does err.

[Exeunt all but LAFEU and PAROLLES]

  • Lafeu. [Advancing] Do you hear, monsieur? a word with you.
  • Parolles. Your pleasure, sir?
  • Lafeu. Your lord and master did well to make his 1090
  • Parolles. Recantation! My lord! my master!
  • Lafeu. Ay; is it not a language I speak?
  • Parolles. A most harsh one, and not to be understood without
    bloody succeeding. My master! 1095
  • Lafeu. Are you companion to the Count Rousillon?
  • Parolles. To any count, to all counts, to what is man.
  • Lafeu. To what is count's man: count's master is of
    another style.
  • Parolles. You are too old, sir; let it satisfy you, you are too old. 1100
  • Lafeu. I must tell thee, sirrah, I write man; to which
    title age cannot bring thee.
  • Parolles. What I dare too well do, I dare not do.
  • Lafeu. I did think thee, for two ordinaries, to be a pretty
    wise fellow; thou didst make tolerable vent of thy 1105
    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 burthen. I
    have now found thee; when I lose thee again, I care
    not: yet art thou good for nothing but taking up; and 1110
    that thou't scarce worth.
  • Parolles. Hadst thou not the privilege of antiquity upon thee,—
  • Lafeu. 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 1115
    well: thy casement I need not open, for I look
    through thee. Give me thy hand.
  • Parolles. My lord, you give me most egregious indignity.
  • Lafeu. Ay, with all my heart; and thou art worthy of it.
  • Parolles. I have not, my lord, deserved it. 1120
  • Lafeu. Yes, good faith, every dram of it; and I will not
    bate thee a scruple.
  • Parolles. Well, I shall be wiser.
  • Lafeu. Even as soon as thou canst, for thou hast to pull at
    a smack o' the contrary. If ever thou be'st bound 1125
    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.
  • Parolles. My lord, you do me most insupportable vexation. 1130
  • Lafeu. 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.


  • Parolles. Well, thou hast a son shall take this disgrace off 1135
    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 1140
    would of—I'll beat him, an if I could but meet him again.

[Re-enter LAFEU]

  • Lafeu. Sirrah, your lord and master's married; there's news
    for you: you have a new mistress.
  • Parolles. I most unfeignedly beseech your lordship to make 1145
    some reservation of your wrongs: he is my good
    lord: whom I serve above is my master.
  • Lafeu. Who? God?
  • Parolles. Ay, sir.
  • Lafeu. The devil it is that's thy master. Why dost thou 1150
    garter up thy arms o' this fashion? dost make hose of
    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'ld beat
    thee: methinks, thou art a general offence, and 1155
    every man should beat thee: I think thou wast
    created for men to breathe themselves upon thee.
  • Parolles. This is hard and undeserved measure, my lord.
  • Lafeu. Go to, sir; you were beaten in Italy for picking a
    kernel out of a pomegranate; you are a vagabond and 1160
    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'ld call you knave. I leave you.


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

[Re-enter BERTRAM]

  • Bertram. Undone, and forfeited to cares for ever!
  • Parolles. What's the matter, sweet-heart? 1170
  • Bertram. Although before the solemn priest I have sworn,
    I will not bed her.
  • Parolles. What, what, sweet-heart?
  • Bertram. O my Parolles, they have married me!
    I'll to the Tuscan wars, and never bed her. 1175
  • Parolles. France is a dog-hole, and it no more merits
    The tread of a man's foot: to the wars!
  • Bertram. There's letters from my mother: what the import is,
    I know not yet.
  • Parolles. Ay, that would be known. To the wars, my boy, to the wars! 1180
    He wears his honour in a box unseen,
    That hugs his kicky-wicky here at home,
    Spending his manly marrow in her arms,
    Which should sustain the bound and high curvet
    Of Mars's fiery steed. To other regions 1185
    France is a stable; we that dwell in't jades;
    Therefore, to the war!
  • Bertram. 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 1190
    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.
  • Parolles. Will this capriccio hold in thee? art sure? 1195
  • Bertram. 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.
  • Parolles. Why, these balls bound; there's noise in it. 'Tis hard:
    A young man married is a man that's marr'd: 1200
    Therefore away, and leave her bravely; go:
    The king has done you wrong: but, hush, 'tis so.



Act II, Scene 4

Paris. The KING’s palace.


[Enter HELENA and Clown]

  • Helena. My mother greets me kindly; is she well? 1205
  • Clown. She is not well; but yet she has her health: she's
    very merry; but yet she is not well: but thanks be
    given, she's very well and wants nothing i', the
    world; but yet she is not well.
  • Helena. If she be very well, what does she ail, that she's 1210
    not very well?
  • Clown. Truly, she's very well indeed, but for two things.
  • Helena. What two things?
  • Clown. One, that she's not in heaven, whither God send her
    quickly! the other that she's in earth, from whence 1215
    God send her quickly!


  • Parolles. Bless you, my fortunate lady!
  • Helena. I hope, sir, I have your good will to have mine own
    good fortunes. 1220
  • Parolles. You had my prayers to lead them on; and to keep them
    on, have them still. O, my knave, how does my old lady?
  • Clown. So that you had her wrinkles and I her money,
    I would she did as you say.
  • Parolles. Why, I say nothing. 1225
  • Clown. Marry, you are the wiser man; for many a man's
    tongue shakes out his master's undoing: to say
    nothing, to do nothing, to know nothing, and to have
    nothing, is to be a great part of your title; which
    is within a very little of nothing. 1230
  • Parolles. Away! thou'rt a knave.
  • Clown. You should have said, sir, before a knave thou'rt a
    knave; that's, before me thou'rt a knave: this had
    been truth, sir.
  • Parolles. Go to, thou art a witty fool; I have found thee. 1235
  • Clown. Did you find me in yourself, sir? or were you
    taught to find me? The search, sir, was profitable;
    and much fool may you find in you, even to the
    world's pleasure and the increase of laughter.
  • Parolles. A good knave, i' faith, and well fed. 1240
    Madam, my lord will go away to-night;
    A very serious business calls on him.
    The great prerogative and rite of love,
    Which, as your due, time claims, he does acknowledge;
    But puts it off to a compell'd restraint; 1245
    Whose want, and whose delay, is strew'd with sweets,
    Which they distil now in the curbed time,
    To make the coming hour o'erflow with joy
    And pleasure drown the brim.
  • Helena. What's his will else? 1250
  • Parolles. That you will take your instant leave o' the king
    And make this haste as your own good proceeding,
    Strengthen'd with what apology you think
    May make it probable need.
  • Helena. What more commands he? 1255
  • Parolles. That, having this obtain'd, you presently
    Attend his further pleasure.
  • Helena. In every thing I wait upon his will.
  • Parolles. I shall report it so.
  • Helena. I pray you. 1260
    [Exit PAROLLES]
    Come, sirrah.



Act II, Scene 5

Paris. The KING’s palace.



  • Lafeu. But I hope your lordship thinks not him a soldier. 1265
  • Bertram. Yes, my lord, and of very valiant approof.
  • Lafeu. You have it from his own deliverance.
  • Bertram. And by other warranted testimony.
  • Lafeu. Then my dial goes not true: I took this lark for a bunting.
  • Bertram. I do assure you, my lord, he is very great in 1270
    knowledge and accordingly valiant.
  • Lafeu. I have then sinned against his experience and
    transgressed against his valour; and my state that
    way is dangerous, since I cannot yet find in my
    heart to repent. Here he comes: I pray you, make 1275
    us friends; I will pursue the amity.


  • Parolles. [To BERTRAM] These things shall be done, sir.
  • Lafeu. Pray you, sir, who's his tailor?
  • Parolles. Sir? 1280
  • Lafeu. O, I know him well, I, sir; he, sir, 's a good
    workman, a very good tailor.
  • Bertram. [Aside to PAROLLES] Is she gone to the king?
  • Parolles. She is.
  • Bertram. Will she away to-night? 1285
  • Parolles. As you'll have her.
  • Bertram. I have writ my letters, casketed my treasure,
    Given order for our horses; and to-night,
    When I should take possession of the bride,
    End ere I do begin. 1290
  • Lafeu. A good traveller is something at the latter end of a
    dinner; but one that lies three thirds and uses a
    known truth to pass a thousand nothings with, should
    be once heard and thrice beaten. God save you, captain.
  • Bertram. Is there any unkindness between my lord and you, monsieur? 1295
  • Parolles. I know not how I have deserved to run into my lord's
  • Lafeu. You have made shift to run into 't, boots and spurs
    and all, like him that leaped into the custard; and
    out of it you'll run again, rather than suffer 1300
    question for your residence.
  • Bertram. It may be you have mistaken him, my lord.
  • Lafeu. And shall do so ever, though I took him at 's
    prayers. Fare you well, my lord; and believe this
    of me, there can be no kernel in this light nut; the 1305
    soul of this man is his clothes. Trust him not in
    matter of heavy consequence; I have kept of them
    tame, and know their natures. Farewell, monsieur:
    I have spoken better of you than you have or will to
    deserve at my hand; but we must do good against evil. 1310


  • Parolles. An idle lord. I swear.
  • Bertram. I think so.
  • Parolles. Why, do you not know him?
  • Bertram. Yes, I do know him well, and common speech 1315
    Gives him a worthy pass. Here comes my clog.

[Enter HELENA]

  • Helena. I have, sir, as I was commanded from you,
    Spoke with the king and have procured his leave
    For present parting; only he desires 1320
    Some private speech with you.
  • Bertram. I shall obey his will.
    You must not marvel, Helen, at my course,
    Which holds not colour with the time, nor does
    The ministration and required office 1325
    On my particular. Prepared I was not
    For such a business; therefore am I found
    So much unsettled: this drives me to entreat you
    That presently you take our way for home;
    And rather muse than ask why I entreat you, 1330
    For my respects are better than they seem
    And my appointments have in them a need
    Greater than shows itself at the first view
    To you that know them not. This to my mother:
    [Giving a letter] 1335
    'Twill be two days ere I shall see you, so
    I leave you to your wisdom.
  • Helena. Sir, I can nothing say,
    But that I am your most obedient servant.
  • Bertram. Come, come, no more of that. 1340
  • Helena. And ever shall
    With true observance seek to eke out that
    Wherein toward me my homely stars have fail'd
    To equal my great fortune.
  • Bertram. Let that go: 1345
    My haste is very great: farewell; hie home.
  • Helena. Pray, sir, your pardon.
  • Bertram. Well, what would you say?
  • Helena. I am not worthy of the wealth I owe,
    Nor dare I say 'tis mine, and yet it is; 1350
    But, like a timorous thief, most fain would steal
    What law does vouch mine own.
  • Bertram. What would you have?
  • Helena. Something; and scarce so much: nothing, indeed.
    I would not tell you what I would, my lord: 1355
    Faith yes;
    Strangers and foes do sunder, and not kiss.
  • Bertram. I pray you, stay not, but in haste to horse.
  • Helena. I shall not break your bidding, good my lord.
  • Bertram. Where are my other men, monsieur? Farewell. 1360
    [Exit HELENA]
    Go thou toward home; where I will never come
    Whilst I can shake my sword or hear the drum.
    Away, and for our flight.
  • Parolles. Bravely, coragio! 1365



Act III, Scene 1

Florence. The DUKE’s palace.


[Flourish. Enter the DUKE of Florence attended;] [p]the two Frenchmen, with a troop of soldiers.

  • Duke of Florence. So that from point to point now have you heard
    The fundamental reasons of this war, 1370
    Whose great decision hath much blood let forth
    And more thirsts after.
  • First Lord. Holy seems the quarrel
    Upon your grace's part; black and fearful
    On the opposer. 1375
  • Duke of Florence. Therefore we marvel much our cousin France
    Would in so just a business shut his bosom
    Against our borrowing prayers.
  • Second Lord. Good my lord,
    The reasons of our state I cannot yield, 1380
    But like a common and an outward man,
    That the great figure of a council frames
    By self-unable motion: therefore dare not
    Say what I think of it, since I have found
    Myself in my incertain grounds to fail 1385
    As often as I guess'd.
  • Duke of Florence. Be it his pleasure.
  • First Lord. But I am sure the younger of our nature,
    That surfeit on their ease, will day by day
    Come here for physic. 1390
  • Duke of Florence. Welcome shall they be;
    And all the honours that can fly from us
    Shall on them settle. You know your places well;
    When better fall, for your avails they fell:
    To-morrow to the field. 1395

[Flourish. Exeunt]


Act III, Scene 2

Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.


[Enter COUNTESS and Clown]

  • Countess. It hath happened all as I would have had it, save
    that he comes not along with her.
  • Clown. By my troth, I take my young lord to be a very 1400
    melancholy man.
  • Countess. By what observance, I pray you?
  • Clown. Why, he will look upon his boot and sing; mend the
    ruff and sing; ask questions and sing; pick his
    teeth and sing. I know a man that had this trick of 1405
    melancholy sold a goodly manor for a song.
  • Countess. Let me see what he writes, and when he means to come.

[Opening a letter]

  • Clown. I have no mind to Isbel since I was at court: our
    old ling and our Isbels o' the country are nothing 1410
    like your old ling and your Isbels o' the court:
    the brains of my Cupid's knocked out, and I begin to
    love, as an old man loves money, with no stomach.
  • Countess. What have we here?
  • Clown. E'en that you have there. 1415


  • Countess. [Reads] I have sent you a daughter-in-law: she hath
    recovered the king, and undone me. I have wedded
    her, not bedded her; and sworn to make the 'not'
    eternal. You shall hear I am run away: know it 1420
    before the report come. If there be breadth enough
    in the world, I will hold a long distance. My duty
    to you.. Your unfortunate son,
    This is not well, rash and unbridled boy. 1425
    To fly the favours of so good a king;
    To pluck his indignation on thy head
    By the misprising of a maid too virtuous
    For the contempt of empire.

[Re-enter Clown]

  • Clown. O madam, yonder is heavy news within between two
    soldiers and my young lady!
  • Countess. What is the matter?
  • Clown. Nay, there is some comfort in the news, some
    comfort; your son will not be killed so soon as I 1435
    thought he would.
  • Countess. Why should he be killed?
  • Clown. So say I, madam, if he run away, as I hear he does:
    the danger is in standing to't; that's the loss of
    men, though it be the getting of children. Here 1440
    they come will tell you more: for my part, I only
    hear your son was run away.


[Enter HELENA, and two Gentlemen]

  • First Gentleman. Save you, good madam. 1445
  • Helena. Madam, my lord is gone, for ever gone.
  • Second Gentleman. Do not say so.
  • Countess. Think upon patience. Pray you, gentlemen,
    I have felt so many quirks of joy and grief,
    That the first face of neither, on the start, 1450
    Can woman me unto't: where is my son, I pray you?
  • Second Gentleman. Madam, he's gone to serve the duke of Florence:
    We met him thitherward; for thence we came,
    And, after some dispatch in hand at court,
    Thither we bend again. 1455
  • Helena. Look on his letter, madam; here's my passport.
    When thou canst get the ring upon my finger which
    never shall come off, and show me a child begotten
    of thy body that I am father to, then call me 1460
    husband: but in such a 'then' I write a 'never.'
    This is a dreadful sentence.
  • Countess. Brought you this letter, gentlemen?
  • First Gentleman. Ay, madam;
    And for the contents' sake are sorry for our pain. 1465
  • Countess. I prithee, lady, have a better cheer;
    If thou engrossest all the griefs are thine,
    Thou robb'st me of a moiety: he was my son;
    But I do wash his name out of my blood,
    And thou art all my child. Towards Florence is he? 1470
  • Second Gentleman. Ay, madam.
  • Countess. And to be a soldier?
  • Second Gentleman. Such is his noble purpose; and believe 't,
    The duke will lay upon him all the honour
    That good convenience claims. 1475
  • Countess. Return you thither?
  • First Gentleman. Ay, madam, with the swiftest wing of speed.
  • Helena. [Reads] Till I have no wife I have nothing in France.
    'Tis bitter.
  • Countess. Find you that there? 1480
  • Helena. Ay, madam.
  • First Gentleman. 'Tis but the boldness of his hand, haply, which his
    heart was not consenting to.
  • Countess. Nothing in France, until he have no wife!
    There's nothing here that is too good for him 1485
    But only she; and she deserves a lord
    That twenty such rude boys might tend upon
    And call her hourly mistress. Who was with him?
  • First Gentleman. A servant only, and a gentleman
    Which I have sometime known. 1490
  • Countess. Parolles, was it not?
  • First Gentleman. Ay, my good lady, he.
  • Countess. A very tainted fellow, and full of wickedness.
    My son corrupts a well-derived nature
    With his inducement. 1495
  • First Gentleman. Indeed, good lady,
    The fellow has a deal of that too much,
    Which holds him much to have.
  • Countess. You're welcome, gentlemen.
    I will entreat you, when you see my son, 1500
    To tell him that his sword can never win
    The honour that he loses: more I'll entreat you
    Written to bear along.
  • Second Gentleman. We serve you, madam,
    In that and all your worthiest affairs. 1505
  • Countess. Not so, but as we change our courtesies.
    Will you draw near!

[Exeunt COUNTESS and Gentlemen]

  • Helena. 'Till I have no wife, I have nothing in France.'
    Nothing in France, until he has no wife! 1510
    Thou shalt have none, Rousillon, none in France;
    Then hast thou all again. Poor lord! is't I
    That chase thee from thy country and expose
    Those tender limbs of thine to the event
    Of the none-sparing war? and is it I 1515
    That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou
    Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark
    Of smoky muskets? O you leaden messengers,
    That ride upon the violent speed of fire,
    Fly with false aim; move the still-peering air, 1520
    That sings with piercing; do not touch my lord.
    Whoever shoots at him, I set him there;
    Whoever charges on his forward breast,
    I am the caitiff that do hold him to't;
    And, though I kill him not, I am the cause 1525
    His death was so effected: better 'twere
    I met the ravin lion when he roar'd
    With sharp constraint of hunger; better 'twere
    That all the miseries which nature owes
    Were mine at once. No, come thou home, Rousillon, 1530
    Whence honour but of danger wins a scar,
    As oft it loses all: I will be gone;
    My being here it is that holds thee hence:
    Shall I stay here to do't? no, no, although
    The air of paradise did fan the house 1535
    And angels officed all: I will be gone,
    That pitiful rumour may report my flight,
    To consolate thine ear. Come, night; end, day!
    For with the dark, poor thief, I'll steal away.



Act III, Scene 3

Florence. Before the DUKE’s palace.


[Flourish. Enter the DUKE of Florence, BERTRAM,] [p]PAROLLES, Soldiers, Drum, and Trumpets]

  • Duke of Florence. The general of our horse thou art; and we,
    Great in our hope, lay our best love and credence
    Upon thy promising fortune. 1545
  • Bertram. Sir, it is
    A charge too heavy for my strength, but yet
    We'll strive to bear it for your worthy sake
    To the extreme edge of hazard.
  • Duke of Florence. Then go thou forth; 1550
    And fortune play upon thy prosperous helm,
    As thy auspicious mistress!
  • Bertram. This very day,
    Great Mars, I put myself into thy file:
    Make me but like my thoughts, and I shall prove 1555
    A lover of thy drum, hater of love.



Act III, Scene 4

Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.


[Enter COUNTESS and Steward]

  • Countess. Alas! and would you take the letter of her?
    Might you not know she would do as she has done, 1560
    By sending me a letter? Read it again.
  • Steward. [Reads]
    I am Saint Jaques' pilgrim, thither gone:
    Ambitious love hath so in me offended,
    That barefoot plod I the cold ground upon, 1565
    With sainted vow my faults to have amended.
    Write, write, that from the bloody course of war
    My dearest master, your dear son, may hie:
    Bless him at home in peace, whilst I from far
    His name with zealous fervor sanctify: 1570
    His taken labours bid him me forgive;
    I, his despiteful Juno, sent him forth
    From courtly friends, with camping foes to live,
    Where death and danger dogs the heels of worth:
    He is too good and fair for death and me: 1575
    Whom I myself embrace, to set him free.
  • Countess. Ah, what sharp stings are in her mildest words!
    Rinaldo, you did never lack advice so much,
    As letting her pass so: had I spoke with her,
    I could have well diverted her intents, 1580
    Which thus she hath prevented.
  • Steward. Pardon me, madam:
    If I had given you this at over-night,
    She might have been o'erta'en; and yet she writes,
    Pursuit would be but vain. 1585
  • Countess. What angel shall
    Bless this unworthy husband? he cannot thrive,
    Unless her prayers, whom heaven delights to hear
    And loves to grant, reprieve him from the wrath
    Of greatest justice. Write, write, Rinaldo, 1590
    To this unworthy husband of his wife;
    Let every word weigh heavy of her worth
    That he does weigh too light: my greatest grief.
    Though little he do feel it, set down sharply.
    Dispatch the most convenient messenger: 1595
    When haply he shall hear that she is gone,
    He will return; and hope I may that she,
    Hearing so much, will speed her foot again,
    Led hither by pure love: which of them both
    Is dearest to me. I have no skill in sense 1600
    To make distinction: provide this messenger:
    My heart is heavy and mine age is weak;
    Grief would have tears, and sorrow bids me speak.



Act III, Scene 5

Florence. Without the walls. A tucket afar off.


[Enter an old Widow of Florence, DIANA, VIOLENTA,] [p]and MARIANA, with other Citizens]

  • Widow. Nay, come; for if they do approach the city, we
    shall lose all the sight.
  • Diana. They say the French count has done most honourable service.
  • Widow. It is reported that he has taken their greatest 1610
    commander; and that with his own hand he slew the
    duke's brother.
    We have lost our labour; they are gone a contrary
    way: hark! you may know by their trumpets. 1615
  • Mariana. Come, let's return again, and suffice ourselves with
    the report of it. Well, Diana, take heed of this
    French earl: the honour of a maid is her name; and
    no legacy is so rich as honesty.
  • Widow. I have told my neighbour how you have been solicited 1620
    by a gentleman his companion.
  • Mariana. I know that knave; hang him! one Parolles: a
    filthy officer he is in those suggestions for the
    young earl. Beware of them, Diana; their promises,
    enticements, oaths, tokens, and all these engines of 1625
    lust, are not the things they go under: many a maid
    hath been seduced by them; and the misery is,
    example, that so terrible shows in the wreck of
    maidenhood, cannot for all that dissuade succession,
    but that they are limed with the twigs that threaten 1630
    them. I hope I need not to advise you further; but
    I hope your own grace will keep you where you are,
    though there were no further danger known but the
    modesty which is so lost.
  • Diana. You shall not need to fear me. 1635
  • Widow. I hope so.
    [Enter HELENA, disguised like a Pilgrim]
    Look, here comes a pilgrim: I know she will lie at
    my house; thither they send one another: I'll
    question her. God save you, pilgrim! whither are you bound? 1640
  • Helena. To Saint Jaques le Grand.
    Where do the palmers lodge, I do beseech you?
  • Widow. At the Saint Francis here beside the port.
  • Helena. Is this the way?
  • Widow. Ay, marry, is't. 1645
    [A march afar]
    Hark you! they come this way.
    If you will tarry, holy pilgrim,
    But till the troops come by,
    I will conduct you where you shall be lodged; 1650
    The rather, for I think I know your hostess
    As ample as myself.
  • Helena. Is it yourself?
  • Widow. If you shall please so, pilgrim.
  • Helena. I thank you, and will stay upon your leisure. 1655
  • Widow. You came, I think, from France?
  • Helena. I did so.
  • Widow. Here you shall see a countryman of yours
    That has done worthy service.
  • Helena. His name, I pray you. 1660
  • Diana. The Count Rousillon: know you such a one?
  • Helena. But by the ear, that hears most nobly of him:
    His face I know not.
  • Diana. Whatsome'er he is,
    He's bravely taken here. He stole from France, 1665
    As 'tis reported, for the king had married him
    Against his liking: think you it is so?
  • Helena. Ay, surely, mere the truth: I know his lady.
  • Diana. There is a gentleman that serves the count
    Reports but coarsely of her. 1670
  • Helena. What's his name?
  • Diana. Monsieur Parolles.
  • Helena. O, I believe with him,
    In argument of praise, or to the worth
    Of the great count himself, she is too mean 1675
    To have her name repeated: all her deserving
    Is a reserved honesty, and that
    I have not heard examined.
  • Diana. Alas, poor lady!
    'Tis a hard bondage to become the wife 1680
    Of a detesting lord.
  • Widow. I warrant, good creature, wheresoe'er she is,
    Her heart weighs sadly: this young maid might do her
    A shrewd turn, if she pleased.
  • Helena. How do you mean? 1685
    May be the amorous count solicits her
    In the unlawful purpose.
  • Widow. He does indeed;
    And brokes with all that can in such a suit
    Corrupt the tender honour of a maid: 1690
    But she is arm'd for him and keeps her guard
    In honestest defence.
  • Mariana. The gods forbid else!
  • Widow. So, now they come:
    [Drum and Colours] 1695
    [Enter BERTRAM, PAROLLES, and the whole army]
    That is Antonio, the duke's eldest son;
    That, Escalus.
  • Helena. Which is the Frenchman?
  • Diana. He; 1700
    That with the plume: 'tis a most gallant fellow.
    I would he loved his wife: if he were honester
    He were much goodlier: is't not a handsome gentleman?
  • Helena. I like him well.
  • Diana. 'Tis pity he is not honest: yond's that same knave 1705
    That leads him to these places: were I his lady,
    I would Poison that vile rascal.
  • Helena. Which is he?
  • Diana. That jack-an-apes with scarfs: why is he melancholy?
  • Helena. Perchance he's hurt i' the battle. 1710
  • Parolles. Lose our drum! well.
  • Mariana. He's shrewdly vexed at something: look, he has spied us.
  • Widow. Marry, hang you!
  • Mariana. And your courtesy, for a ring-carrier!

[Exeunt BERTRAM, PAROLLES, and army]

  • Widow. The troop is past. Come, pilgrim, I will bring you
    Where you shall host: of enjoin'd penitents
    There's four or five, to great Saint Jaques bound,
    Already at my house.
  • Helena. I humbly thank you: 1720
    Please it this matron and this gentle maid
    To eat with us to-night, the charge and thanking
    Shall be for me; and, to requite you further,
    I will bestow some precepts of this virgin
    Worthy the note. 1725
  • Both. We'll take your offer kindly.



Act III, Scene 6

Camp before Florence.


[Enter BERTRAM and the two French Lords]

  • Second Lord. Nay, good my lord, put him to't; let him have his
    way. 1730
  • First Lord. If your lordship find him not a hilding, hold me no
    more in your respect.
  • Second Lord. On my life, my lord, a bubble.
  • Bertram. Do you think I am so far deceived in him?
  • Second Lord. Believe it, my lord, in mine own direct knowledge, 1735
    without any malice, but to speak of him as my
    kinsman, he's a most notable coward, an infinite and
    endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker, the owner
    of no one good quality worthy your lordship's
    entertainment. 1740
  • First Lord. It were fit you knew him; lest, reposing too far in
    his virtue, which he hath not, he might at some
    great and trusty business in a main danger fail you.
  • Bertram. I would I knew in what particular action to try him.
  • First Lord. None better than to let him fetch off his drum, 1745
    which you hear him so confidently undertake to do.
  • Second Lord. I, with a troop of Florentines, will suddenly
    surprise him; such I will have, whom I am sure he
    knows not from the enemy: we will bind and hoodwink
    him so, that he shall suppose no other but that he 1750
    is carried into the leaguer of the adversaries, when
    we bring him to our own tents. Be but your lordship
    present at his examination: if he do not, for the
    promise of his life and in the highest compulsion of
    base fear, offer to betray you and deliver all the 1755
    intelligence in his power against you, and that with
    the divine forfeit of his soul upon oath, never
    trust my judgment in any thing.
  • First Lord. O, for the love of laughter, let him fetch his drum;
    he says he has a stratagem for't: when your 1760
    lordship sees the bottom of his success in't, and to
    what metal this counterfeit lump of ore will be
    melted, if you give him not John Drum's
    entertainment, your inclining cannot be removed.
    Here he comes. 1765


  • Second Lord. [Aside to BERTRAM] O, for the love of laughter,
    hinder not the honour of his design: let him fetch
    off his drum in any hand.
  • Bertram. How now, monsieur! this drum sticks sorely in your 1770
  • First Lord. A pox on't, let it go; 'tis but a drum.
  • Parolles. 'But a drum'! is't 'but a drum'? A drum so lost!
    There was excellent command,—to charge in with our
    horse upon our own wings, and to rend our own soldiers! 1775
  • First Lord. That was not to be blamed in the command of the
    service: it was a disaster of war that Caesar
    himself could not have prevented, if he had been
    there to command.
  • Bertram. Well, we cannot greatly condemn our success: some 1780
    dishonour we had in the loss of that drum; but it is
    not to be recovered.
  • Parolles. It might have been recovered.
  • Bertram. It might; but it is not now.
  • Parolles. It is to be recovered: but that the merit of 1785
    service is seldom attributed to the true and exact
    performer, I would have that drum or another, or
    'hic jacet.'
  • Bertram. Why, if you have a stomach, to't, monsieur: if you
    think your mystery in stratagem can bring this 1790
    instrument of honour again into his native quarter,
    be magnanimous in the enterprise and go on; I will
    grace the attempt for a worthy exploit: if you
    speed well in it, the duke shall both speak of it.
    and extend to you what further becomes his 1795
    greatness, even to the utmost syllable of your
  • Parolles. By the hand of a soldier, I will undertake it.
  • Bertram. But you must not now slumber in it.
  • Parolles. I'll about it this evening: and I will presently 1800
    pen down my dilemmas, encourage myself in my
    certainty, put myself into my mortal preparation;
    and by midnight look to hear further from me.
  • Bertram. May I be bold to acquaint his grace you are gone about it?
  • Parolles. I know not what the success will be, my lord; but 1805
    the attempt I vow.
  • Bertram. I know thou'rt valiant; and, to the possibility of
    thy soldiership, will subscribe for thee. Farewell.
  • Parolles. I love not many words.


  • Second Lord. No more than a fish loves water. Is not this a
    strange fellow, my lord, that so confidently seems
    to undertake this business, which he knows is not to
    be done; damns himself to do and dares better be
    damned than to do't? 1815
  • First Lord. You do not know him, my lord, as we do: certain it
    is that he will steal himself into a man's favour and
    for a week escape a great deal of discoveries; but
    when you find him out, you have him ever after.
  • Bertram. Why, do you think he will make no deed at all of 1820
    this that so seriously he does address himself unto?
  • Second Lord. None in the world; but return with an invention and
    clap upon you two or three probable lies: but we
    have almost embossed him; you shall see his fall
    to-night; for indeed he is not for your lordship's respect. 1825
  • First Lord. We'll make you some sport with the fox ere we case
    him. He was first smoked by the old lord Lafeu:
    when his disguise and he is parted, tell me what a
    sprat you shall find him; which you shall see this
    very night. 1830
  • Second Lord. I must go look my twigs: he shall be caught.
  • Bertram. Your brother he shall go along with me.
  • Second Lord. As't please your lordship: I'll leave you.


  • Bertram. Now will I lead you to the house, and show you 1835
    The lass I spoke of.
  • First Lord. But you say she's honest.
  • Bertram. That's all the fault: I spoke with her but once
    And found her wondrous cold; but I sent to her,
    By this same coxcomb that we have i' the wind, 1840
    Tokens and letters which she did re-send;
    And this is all I have done. She's a fair creature:
    Will you go see her?
  • First Lord. With all my heart, my lord.



Act III, Scene 7

Florence. The Widow’s house.


[Enter HELENA and Widow]

  • Helena. If you misdoubt me that I am not she,
    I know not how I shall assure you further,
    But I shall lose the grounds I work upon.
  • Widow. Though my estate be fallen, I was well born, 1850
    Nothing acquainted with these businesses;
    And would not put my reputation now
    In any staining act.
  • Helena. Nor would I wish you.
    First, give me trust, the count he is my husband, 1855
    And what to your sworn counsel I have spoken
    Is so from word to word; and then you cannot,
    By the good aid that I of you shall borrow,
    Err in bestowing it.
  • Widow. I should believe you: 1860
    For you have show'd me that which well approves
    You're great in fortune.
  • Helena. Take this purse of gold,
    And let me buy your friendly help thus far,
    Which I will over-pay and pay again 1865
    When I have found it. The count he wooes your daughter,
    Lays down his wanton siege before her beauty,
    Resolved to carry her: let her in fine consent,
    As we'll direct her how 'tis best to bear it.
    Now his important blood will nought deny 1870
    That she'll demand: a ring the county wears,
    That downward hath succeeded in his house
    From son to son, some four or five descents
    Since the first father wore it: this ring he holds
    In most rich choice; yet in his idle fire, 1875
    To buy his will, it would not seem too dear,
    Howe'er repented after.
  • Widow. Now I see
    The bottom of your purpose.
  • Helena. You see it lawful, then: it is no more, 1880
    But that your daughter, ere she seems as won,
    Desires this ring; appoints him an encounter;
    In fine, delivers me to fill the time,
    Herself most chastely absent: after this,
    To marry her, I'll add three thousand crowns 1885
    To what is passed already.
  • Widow. I have yielded:
    Instruct my daughter how she shall persever,
    That time and place with this deceit so lawful
    May prove coherent. Every night he comes 1890
    With musics of all sorts and songs composed
    To her unworthiness: it nothing steads us
    To chide him from our eaves; for he persists
    As if his life lay on't.
  • Helena. Why then to-night 1895
    Let us assay our plot; which, if it speed,
    Is wicked meaning in a lawful deed
    And lawful meaning in a lawful act,
    Where both not sin, and yet a sinful fact:
    But let's about it. 1900



Act IV, Scene 1

Without the Florentine camp.


[Enter Second French Lord, with five or six other] [p]Soldiers in ambush]

  • Second Lord. He can come no other way but by this hedge-corner.
    When you sally upon him, speak what terrible 1905
    language you will: though you understand it not
    yourselves, no matter; for we must not seem to
    understand him, unless some one among us whom we
    must produce for an interpreter.
  • First Soldier. Good captain, let me be the interpreter. 1910
  • Second Lord. Art not acquainted with him? knows he not thy voice?
  • First Soldier. No, sir, I warrant you.
  • Second Lord. But what linsey-woolsey hast thou to speak to us again?
  • First Soldier. E'en such as you speak to me.
  • Second Lord. He must think us some band of strangers i' the 1915
    adversary's entertainment. Now he hath a smack of
    all neighbouring languages; therefore we must every
    one be a man of his own fancy, not to know what we
    speak one to another; so we seem to know, is to
    know straight our purpose: choughs' language, 1920
    gabble enough, and good enough. As for you,
    interpreter, you must seem very politic. But couch,
    ho! here he comes, to beguile two hours in a sleep,
    and then to return and swear the lies he forges.


  • Parolles. Ten o'clock: within these three hours 'twill be
    time enough to go home. What shall I say I have
    done? It must be a very plausive invention that
    carries it: they begin to smoke me; and disgraces
    have of late knocked too often at my door. I find 1930
    my tongue is too foolhardy; but my heart hath the
    fear of Mars before it and of his creatures, not
    daring the reports of my tongue.
  • Second Lord. This is the first truth that e'er thine own tongue
    was guilty of. 1935
  • Parolles. What the devil should move me to undertake the
    recovery of this drum, being not ignorant of the
    impossibility, and knowing I had no such purpose? I
    must give myself some hurts, and say I got them in
    exploit: yet slight ones will not carry it; they 1940
    will say, 'Came you off with so little?' and great
    ones I dare not give. Wherefore, what's the
    instance? Tongue, I must put you into a
    butter-woman's mouth and buy myself another of
    Bajazet's mule, if you prattle me into these perils. 1945
  • Second Lord. Is it possible he should know what he is, and be
    that he is?
  • Parolles. I would the cutting of my garments would serve the
    turn, or the breaking of my Spanish sword.
  • Second Lord. We cannot afford you so. 1950
  • Parolles. Or the baring of my beard; and to say it was in
  • Second Lord. 'Twould not do.
  • Parolles. Or to drown my clothes, and say I was stripped.
  • Second Lord. Hardly serve. 1955
  • Parolles. Though I swore I leaped from the window of the citadel.
  • Second Lord. How deep?
  • Parolles. Thirty fathom.
  • Second Lord. Three great oaths would scarce make that be believed.
  • Parolles. I would I had any drum of the enemy's: I would swear 1960
    I recovered it.
  • Second Lord. You shall hear one anon.
  • Parolles. A drum now of the enemy's,—

[Alarum within]

  • Second Lord. Throca movousus, cargo, cargo, cargo. 1965
  • All. Cargo, cargo, cargo, villiando par corbo, cargo.
  • Parolles. O, ransom, ransom! do not hide mine eyes.

[They seize and blindfold him]

  • First Soldier. Boskos thromuldo boskos.
  • Parolles. I know you are the Muskos' regiment: 1970
    And I shall lose my life for want of language;
    If there be here German, or Dane, low Dutch,
    Italian, or French, let him speak to me; I'll
    Discover that which shall undo the Florentine.
  • First Soldier. Boskos vauvado: I understand thee, and can speak 1975
    thy tongue. Kerely bonto, sir, betake thee to thy
    faith, for seventeen poniards are at thy bosom.
  • Parolles. O!
  • First Soldier. O, pray, pray, pray! Manka revania dulche.
  • Second Lord. Oscorbidulchos volivorco. 1980
  • First Soldier. The general is content to spare thee yet;
    And, hoodwink'd as thou art, will lead thee on
    To gather from thee: haply thou mayst inform
    Something to save thy life.
  • Parolles. O, let me live! 1985
    And all the secrets of our camp I'll show,
    Their force, their purposes; nay, I'll speak that
    Which you will wonder at.
  • First Soldier. But wilt thou faithfully?
  • Parolles. If I do not, damn me. 1990
  • First Soldier. Acordo linta.
    Come on; thou art granted space.

[Exit, with PAROLLES guarded. A short alarum within]

  • Second Lord. Go, tell the Count Rousillon, and my brother,
    We have caught the woodcock, and will keep him muffled 1995
    Till we do hear from them.
  • Second Soldier. Captain, I will.
  • Second Lord. A' will betray us all unto ourselves:
    Inform on that.
  • Second Soldier. So I will, sir. 2000
  • Second Lord. Till then I'll keep him dark and safely lock'd.



Act IV, Scene 2

Florence. The Widow’s house.



  • Bertram. They told me that your name was Fontibell.
  • Diana. No, my good lord, Diana. 2005
  • Bertram. Titled goddess;
    And worth it, with addition! But, fair soul,
    In your fine frame hath love no quality?
    If quick fire of youth light not your mind,
    You are no maiden, but a monument: 2010
    When you are dead, you should be such a one
    As you are now, for you are cold and stem;
    And now you should be as your mother was
    When your sweet self was got.
  • Diana. She then was honest. 2015
  • Bertram. So should you be.
  • Diana. No:
    My mother did but duty; such, my lord,
    As you owe to your wife.
  • Bertram. No more o' that; 2020
    I prithee, do not strive against my vows:
    I was compell'd to her; but I love thee
    By love's own sweet constraint, and will for ever
    Do thee all rights of service.
  • Diana. Ay, so you serve us 2025
    Till we serve you; but when you have our roses,
    You barely leave our thorns to prick ourselves
    And mock us with our bareness.
  • Bertram. How have I sworn!
  • Diana. 'Tis not the many oaths that makes the truth, 2030
    But the plain single vow that is vow'd true.
    What is not holy, that we swear not by,
    But take the High'st to witness: then, pray you, tell me,
    If I should swear by God's great attributes,
    I loved you dearly, would you believe my oaths, 2035
    When I did love you ill? This has no holding,
    To swear by him whom I protest to love,
    That I will work against him: therefore your oaths
    Are words and poor conditions, but unseal'd,
    At least in my opinion. 2040
  • Bertram. Change it, change it;
    Be not so holy-cruel: love is holy;
    And my integrity ne'er knew the crafts
    That you do charge men with. Stand no more off,
    But give thyself unto my sick desires, 2045
    Who then recover: say thou art mine, and ever
    My love as it begins shall so persever.
  • Diana. I see that men make ropes in such a scarre
    That we'll forsake ourselves. Give me that ring.
  • Bertram. I'll lend it thee, my dear; but have no power 2050
    To give it from me.
  • Diana. Will you not, my lord?
  • Bertram. It is an honour 'longing to our house,
    Bequeathed down from many ancestors;
    Which were the greatest obloquy i' the world 2055
    In me to lose.
  • Diana. Mine honour's such a ring:
    My chastity's the jewel of our house,
    Bequeathed down from many ancestors;
    Which were the greatest obloquy i' the world 2060
    In me to lose: thus your own proper wisdom
    Brings in the champion Honour on my part,
    Against your vain assault.
  • Bertram. Here, take my ring:
    My house, mine honour, yea, my life, be thine, 2065
    And I'll be bid by thee.
  • Diana. When midnight comes, knock at my chamber-window:
    I'll order take my mother shall not hear.
    Now will I charge you in the band of truth,
    When you have conquer'd my yet maiden bed, 2070
    Remain there but an hour, nor speak to me:
    My reasons are most strong; and you shall know them
    When back again this ring shall be deliver'd:
    And on your finger in the night I'll put
    Another ring, that what in time proceeds 2075
    May token to the future our past deeds.
    Adieu, till then; then, fail not. You have won
    A wife of me, though there my hope be done.
  • Bertram. A heaven on earth I have won by wooing thee.


  • Diana. For which live long to thank both heaven and me!
    You may so in the end.
    My mother told me just how he would woo,
    As if she sat in 's heart; she says all men
    Have the like oaths: he had sworn to marry me 2085
    When his wife's dead; therefore I'll lie with him
    When I am buried. Since Frenchmen are so braid,
    Marry that will, I live and die a maid:
    Only in this disguise I think't no sin
    To cozen him that would unjustly win. 2090



Act IV, Scene 3

The Florentine camp.


[Enter the two French Lords and some two or three Soldiers]

  • First Lord. You have not given him his mother's letter?
  • Second Lord. I have delivered it an hour since: there is
    something in't that stings his nature; for on the 2095
    reading it he changed almost into another man.
  • First Lord. He has much worthy blame laid upon him for shaking
    off so good a wife and so sweet a lady.
  • Second Lord. Especially he hath incurred the everlasting
    displeasure of the king, who had even tuned his 2100
    bounty to sing happiness to him. I will tell you a
    thing, but you shall let it dwell darkly with you.
  • First Lord. When you have spoken it, 'tis dead, and I am the
    grave of it.
  • Second Lord. He hath perverted a young gentlewoman here in 2105
    Florence, of a most chaste renown; and this night he
    fleshes his will in the spoil of her honour: he hath
    given her his monumental ring, and thinks himself
    made in the unchaste composition.
  • First Lord. Now, God delay our rebellion! as we are ourselves, 2110
    what things are we!
  • Second Lord. Merely our own traitors. And as in the common course
    of all treasons, we still see them reveal
    themselves, till they attain to their abhorred ends,
    so he that in this action contrives against his own 2115
    nobility, in his proper stream o'erflows himself.
  • First Lord. Is it not meant damnable in us, to be trumpeters of
    our unlawful intents? We shall not then have his
    company to-night?
  • Second Lord. Not till after midnight; for he is dieted to his hour. 2120
  • First Lord. That approaches apace; I would gladly have him see
    his company anatomized, that he might take a measure
    of his own judgments, wherein so curiously he had
    set this counterfeit.
  • Second Lord. We will not meddle with him till he come; for his 2125
    presence must be the whip of the other.
  • First Lord. In the mean time, what hear you of these wars?
  • Second Lord. I hear there is an overture of peace.
  • First Lord. Nay, I assure you, a peace concluded.
  • Second Lord. What will Count Rousillon do then? will he travel 2130
    higher, or return again into France?
  • First Lord. I perceive, by this demand, you are not altogether
    of his council.
  • Second Lord. Let it be forbid, sir; so should I be a great deal
    of his act. 2135
  • First Lord. Sir, his wife some two months since fled from his
    house: her pretence is a pilgrimage to Saint Jaques
    le Grand; which holy undertaking with most austere
    sanctimony she accomplished; and, there residing the
    tenderness of her nature became as a prey to her 2140
    grief; in fine, made a groan of her last breath, and
    now she sings in heaven.
  • Second Lord. How is this justified?
  • First Lord. The stronger part of it by her own letters, which
    makes her story true, even to the point of her 2145
    death: her death itself, which could not be her
    office to say is come, was faithfully confirmed by
    the rector of the place.
  • Second Lord. Hath the count all this intelligence?
  • First Lord. Ay, and the particular confirmations, point from 2150
    point, so to the full arming of the verity.
  • Second Lord. I am heartily sorry that he'll be glad of this.
  • First Lord. How mightily sometimes we make us comforts of our losses!
  • Second Lord. And how mightily some other times we drown our gain
    in tears! The great dignity that his valour hath 2155
    here acquired for him shall at home be encountered
    with a shame as ample.
  • First Lord. The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and
    ill together: our virtues would be proud, if our
    faults whipped them not; and our crimes would 2160
    despair, if they were not cherished by our virtues.
    [Enter a Messenger]
    How now! where's your master?
  • Servant. He met the duke in the street, sir, of whom he hath
    taken a solemn leave: his lordship will next 2165
    morning for France. The duke hath offered him
    letters of commendations to the king.
  • Second Lord. They shall be no more than needful there, if they
    were more than they can commend.
  • First Lord. They cannot be too sweet for the king's tartness. 2170
    Here's his lordship now.
    [Enter BERTRAM]
    How now, my lord! is't not after midnight?
  • Bertram. I have to-night dispatched sixteen businesses, a
    month's length a-piece, by an abstract of success: 2175
    I have congied with the duke, done my adieu with his
    nearest; buried a wife, mourned for her; writ to my
    lady mother I am returning; entertained my convoy;
    and between these main parcels of dispatch effected
    many nicer needs; the last was the greatest, but 2180
    that I have not ended yet.
  • Second Lord. If the business be of any difficulty, and this
    morning your departure hence, it requires haste of
    your lordship.
  • Bertram. I mean, the business is not ended, as fearing to 2185
    hear of it hereafter. But shall we have this
    dialogue between the fool and the soldier? Come,
    bring forth this counterfeit module, he has deceived
    me, like a double-meaning prophesier.
  • Second Lord. Bring him forth: has sat i' the stocks all night, 2190
    poor gallant knave.
  • Bertram. No matter: his heels have deserved it, in usurping
    his spurs so long. How does he carry himself?
  • Second Lord. I have told your lordship already, the stocks carry
    him. But to answer you as you would be understood; 2195
    he weeps like a wench that had shed her milk: he
    hath confessed himself to Morgan, whom he supposes
    to be a friar, from the time of his remembrance to
    this very instant disaster of his setting i' the
    stocks: and what think you he hath confessed? 2200
  • Bertram. Nothing of me, has a'?
  • Second Lord. His confession is taken, and it shall be read to his
    face: if your lordship be in't, as I believe you
    are, you must have the patience to hear it.

[Enter PAROLLES guarded, and First Soldier]

  • Bertram. A plague upon him! muffled! he can say nothing of
    me: hush, hush!
  • First Lord. Hoodman comes! Portotartarosa
  • First Soldier. He calls for the tortures: what will you say
    without 'em? 2210
  • Parolles. I will confess what I know without constraint: if
    ye pinch me like a pasty, I can say no more.
  • First Soldier. Bosko chimurcho.
  • First Lord. Boblibindo chicurmurco.
  • First Soldier. You are a merciful general. Our general bids you 2215
    answer to what I shall ask you out of a note.
  • Parolles. And truly, as I hope to live.
  • First Soldier. [Reads] 'First demand of him how many horse the
    duke is strong.' What say you to that?
  • Parolles. Five or six thousand; but very weak and 2220
    unserviceable: the troops are all scattered, and
    the commanders very poor rogues, upon my reputation
    and credit and as I hope to live.
  • First Soldier. Shall I set down your answer so?
  • Parolles. Do: I'll take the sacrament on't, how and which way you will. 2225
  • Bertram. All's one to him. What a past-saving slave is this!
  • First Lord. You're deceived, my lord: this is Monsieur
    Parolles, the gallant militarist,—that was his own
    phrase,—that had the whole theoric of war in the
    knot of his scarf, and the practise in the chape of 2230
    his dagger.
  • Second Lord. I will never trust a man again for keeping his sword
    clean. nor believe he can have every thing in him
    by wearing his apparel neatly.
  • First Soldier. Well, that's set down. 2235
  • Parolles. Five or six thousand horse, I said,— I will say
    true,—or thereabouts, set down, for I'll speak truth.
  • First Lord. He's very near the truth in this.
  • Bertram. But I con him no thanks for't, in the nature he
    delivers it. 2240
  • Parolles. Poor rogues, I pray you, say.
  • First Soldier. Well, that's set down.
  • Parolles. I humbly thank you, sir: a truth's a truth, the
    rogues are marvellous poor.
  • First Soldier. [Reads] 'Demand of him, of what strength they are 2245
    a-foot.' What say you to that?
  • Parolles. By my troth, sir, if I were to live this present
    hour, I will tell true. Let me see: Spurio, a
    hundred and fifty; Sebastian, so many; Corambus, so
    many; Jaques, so many; Guiltian, Cosmo, Lodowick, 2250
    and Gratii, two hundred and fifty each; mine own
    company, Chitopher, Vaumond, Bentii, two hundred and
    fifty each: so that the muster-file, rotten and
    sound, upon my life, amounts not to fifteen thousand
    poll; half of the which dare not shake snow from off 2255
    their cassocks, lest they shake themselves to pieces.
  • Bertram. What shall be done to him?
  • First Lord. Nothing, but let him have thanks. Demand of him my
    condition, and what credit I have with the duke.
  • First Soldier. Well, that's set down. 2260
    'You shall demand of him, whether one Captain Dumain
    be i' the camp, a Frenchman; what his reputation is
    with the duke; what his valour, honesty, and
    expertness in wars; or whether he thinks it were not 2265
    possible, with well-weighing sums of gold, to
    corrupt him to revolt.' What say you to this? what
    do you know of it?
  • Parolles. I beseech you, let me answer to the particular of
    the inter'gatories: demand them singly. 2270
  • First Soldier. Do you know this Captain Dumain?
  • Parolles. I know him: a' was a botcher's 'prentice in Paris,
    from whence he was whipped for getting the shrieve's
    fool with child,—a dumb innocent, that could not
    say him nay. 2275
  • Bertram. Nay, by your leave, hold your hands; though I know
    his brains are forfeit to the next tile that falls.
  • First Soldier. Well, is this captain in the duke of Florence's camp?
  • Parolles. Upon my knowledge, he is, and lousy.
  • First Lord. Nay look not so upon me; we shall hear of your 2280
    lordship anon.
  • First Soldier. What is his reputation with the duke?
  • Parolles. The duke knows him for no other but a poor officer
    of mine; and writ to me this other day to turn him
    out o' the band: I think I have his letter in my pocket. 2285
  • First Soldier. Marry, we'll search.
  • Parolles. In good sadness, I do not know; either it is there,
    or it is upon a file with the duke's other letters
    in my tent.
  • First Soldier. Here 'tis; here's a paper: shall I read it to you? 2290
  • Parolles. I do not know if it be it or no.
  • Bertram. Our interpreter does it well.
  • First Lord. Excellently.
  • First Soldier. [Reads] 'Dian, the count's a fool, and full of gold,'—
  • Parolles. That is not the duke's letter, sir; that is an 2295
    advertisement to a proper maid in Florence, one
    Diana, to take heed of the allurement of one Count
    Rousillon, a foolish idle boy, but for all that very
    ruttish: I pray you, sir, put it up again.
  • First Soldier. Nay, I'll read it first, by your favour. 2300
  • Parolles. My meaning in't, I protest, was very honest in the
    behalf of the maid; for I knew the young count to be
    a dangerous and lascivious boy, who is a whale to
    virginity and devours up all the fry it finds.
  • Bertram. Damnable both-sides rogue! 2305
  • First Soldier. [Reads] 'When he swears oaths, bid him drop gold, and take it;
    After he scores, he never pays the score:
    Half won is match well made; match, and well make it;
    He ne'er pays after-debts, take it before;
    And say a soldier, Dian, told thee this, 2310
    Men are to mell with, boys are not to kiss:
    For count of this, the count's a fool, I know it,
    Who pays before, but not when he does owe it.
    Thine, as he vowed to thee in thine ear,
    PAROLLES.' 2315
  • Bertram. He shall be whipped through the army with this rhyme
    in's forehead.
  • Second Lord. This is your devoted friend, sir, the manifold
    linguist and the armipotent soldier.
  • Bertram. I could endure any thing before but a cat, and now 2320
    he's a cat to me.
  • First Soldier. I perceive, sir, by the general's looks, we shall be
    fain to hang you.
  • Parolles. My life, sir, in any case: not that I am afraid to
    die; but that, my offences being many, I would 2325
    repent out the remainder of nature: let me live,
    sir, in a dungeon, i' the stocks, or any where, so I may live.
  • First Soldier. We'll see what may be done, so you confess freely;
    therefore, once more to this Captain Dumain: you
    have answered to his reputation with the duke and to 2330
    his valour: what is his honesty?
  • Parolles. He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister: for
    rapes and ravishments he parallels Nessus: he
    professes not keeping of oaths; in breaking 'em he
    is stronger than Hercules: he will lie, sir, with 2335
    such volubility, that you would think truth were a
    fool: drunkenness is his best virtue, for he will
    be swine-drunk; and in his sleep he does little
    harm, save to his bed-clothes about him; but they
    know his conditions and lay him in straw. I have but 2340
    little more to say, sir, of his honesty: he has
    every thing that an honest man should not have; what
    an honest man should have, he has nothing.
  • First Lord. I begin to love him for this.
  • Bertram. For this description of thine honesty? A pox upon 2345
    him for me, he's more and more a cat.
  • First Soldier. What say you to his expertness in war?
  • Parolles. Faith, sir, he has led the drum before the English
    tragedians; to belie him, I will not, and more of
    his soldiership I know not; except, in that country 2350
    he had the honour to be the officer at a place there
    called Mile-end, to instruct for the doubling of
    files: I would do the man what honour I can, but of
    this I am not certain.
  • First Lord. He hath out-villained villany so far, that the 2355
    rarity redeems him.
  • Bertram. A pox on him, he's a cat still.
  • First Soldier. His qualities being at this poor price, I need not
    to ask you if gold will corrupt him to revolt.
  • Parolles. Sir, for a quart d'ecu he will sell the fee-simple 2360
    of his salvation, the inheritance of it; and cut the
    entail from all remainders, and a perpetual
    succession for it perpetually.
  • First Soldier. What's his brother, the other Captain Dumain?
  • Second Lord. Why does be ask him of me? 2365
  • First Soldier. What's he?
  • Parolles. E'en a crow o' the same nest; not altogether so
    great as the first in goodness, but greater a great
    deal in evil: he excels his brother for a coward,
    yet his brother is reputed one of the best that is: 2370
    in a retreat he outruns any lackey; marry, in coming
    on he has the cramp.
  • First Soldier. If your life be saved, will you undertake to betray
    the Florentine?
  • Parolles. Ay, and the captain of his horse, Count Rousillon. 2375
  • First Soldier. I'll whisper with the general, and know his pleasure.
  • Parolles. [Aside] I'll no more drumming; a plague of all
    drums! Only to seem to deserve well, and to
    beguile the supposition of that lascivious young boy
    the count, have I run into this danger. Yet who 2380
    would have suspected an ambush where I was taken?
  • First Soldier. There is no remedy, sir, but you must die: the
    general says, you that have so traitorously
    discovered the secrets of your army and made such
    pestiferous reports of men very nobly held, can 2385
    serve the world for no honest use; therefore you
    must die. Come, headsman, off with his head.
  • Parolles. O Lord, sir, let me live, or let me see my death!
  • First Lord. That shall you, and take your leave of all your friends.
    [Unblinding him] 2390
    So, look about you: know you any here?
  • Bertram. Good morrow, noble captain.
  • Second Lord. God bless you, Captain Parolles.
  • First Lord. God save you, noble captain.
  • Second Lord. Captain, what greeting will you to my Lord Lafeu? 2395
    I am for France.
  • First Lord. Good captain, will you give me a copy of the sonnet
    you writ to Diana in behalf of the Count Rousillon?
    an I were not a very coward, I'ld compel it of you:
    but fare you well. 2400

[Exeunt BERTRAM and Lords]

  • First Soldier. You are undone, captain, all but your scarf; that
    has a knot on't yet
  • Parolles. Who cannot be crushed with a plot?
  • First Soldier. If you could find out a country where but women were 2405
    that had received so much shame, you might begin an
    impudent nation. Fare ye well, sir; I am for France
    too: we shall speak of you there.

[Exit with Soldiers]

  • Parolles. Yet am I thankful: if my heart were great, 2410
    'Twould burst at this. Captain I'll be no more;
    But I will eat and drink, and sleep as soft
    As captain shall: simply the thing I am
    Shall make me live. Who knows himself a braggart,
    Let him fear this, for it will come to pass 2415
    that every braggart shall be found an ass.
    Rust, sword? cool, blushes! and, Parolles, live
    Safest in shame! being fool'd, by foolery thrive!
    There's place and means for every man alive.
    I'll after them. 2420



Act IV, Scene 4

Florence. The Widow’s house.


[Enter HELENA, Widow, and DIANA]

  • Helena. That you may well perceive I have not wrong'd you,
    One of the greatest in the Christian world
    Shall be my surety; 'fore whose throne 'tis needful, 2425
    Ere I can perfect mine intents, to kneel:
    Time was, I did him a desired office,
    Dear almost as his life; which gratitude
    Through flinty Tartar's bosom would peep forth,
    And answer, thanks: I duly am inform'd 2430
    His grace is at Marseilles; to which place
    We have convenient convoy. You must know
    I am supposed dead: the army breaking,
    My husband hies him home; where, heaven aiding,
    And by the leave of my good lord the king, 2435
    We'll be before our welcome.
  • Widow. Gentle madam,
    You never had a servant to whose trust
    Your business was more welcome.
  • Helena. Nor you, mistress, 2440
    Ever a friend whose thoughts more truly labour
    To recompense your love: doubt not but heaven
    Hath brought me up to be your daughter's dower,
    As it hath fated her to be my motive
    And helper to a husband. But, O strange men! 2445
    That can such sweet use make of what they hate,
    When saucy trusting of the cozen'd thoughts
    Defiles the pitchy night: so lust doth play
    With what it loathes for that which is away.
    But more of this hereafter. You, Diana, 2450
    Under my poor instructions yet must suffer
    Something in my behalf.
  • Diana. Let death and honesty
    Go with your impositions, I am yours
    Upon your will to suffer. 2455
  • Helena. Yet, I pray you:
    But with the word the time will bring on summer,
    When briers shall have leaves as well as thorns,
    And be as sweet as sharp. We must away;
    Our wagon is prepared, and time revives us: 2460
    All's well that ends well; still the fine's the crown;
    Whate'er the course, the end is the renown.



Act IV, Scene 5

Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.


[Enter COUNTESS, LAFEU, and Clown]

  • Lafeu. No, no, no, your son was misled with a snipt-taffeta 2465
    fellow there, whose villanous saffron would have
    made all the unbaked and doughy youth of a nation in
    his colour: your daughter-in-law had been alive at
    this hour, and your son here at home, more advanced
    by the king than by that red-tailed humble-bee I speak of. 2470
  • Countess. I would I had not known him; it was the death of the
    most virtuous gentlewoman that ever nature had
    praise for creating. If she had partaken of my
    flesh, and cost me the dearest groans of a mother, I
    could not have owed her a more rooted love. 2475
  • Lafeu. 'Twas a good lady, 'twas a good lady: we may pick a
    thousand salads ere we light on such another herb.
  • Clown. Indeed, sir, she was the sweet marjoram of the
    salad, or rather, the herb of grace.
  • Lafeu. They are not herbs, you knave; they are nose-herbs. 2480
  • Clown. I am no great Nebuchadnezzar, sir; I have not much
    skill in grass.
  • Lafeu. Whether dost thou profess thyself, a knave or a fool?
  • Clown. A fool, sir, at a woman's service, and a knave at a man's.
  • Lafeu. Your distinction? 2485
  • Clown. I would cozen the man of his wife and do his service.
  • Lafeu. So you were a knave at his service, indeed.
  • Clown. And I would give his wife my bauble, sir, to do her service.
  • Lafeu. I will subscribe for thee, thou art both knave and fool.
  • Clown. At your service. 2490
  • Lafeu. No, no, no.
  • Clown. Why, sir, if I cannot serve you, I can serve as
    great a prince as you are.
  • Lafeu. Who's that? a Frenchman?
  • Clown. Faith, sir, a' has an English name; but his fisnomy 2495
    is more hotter in France than there.
  • Lafeu. What prince is that?
  • Clown. The black prince, sir; alias, the prince of
    darkness; alias, the devil.
  • Lafeu. Hold thee, there's my purse: I give thee not this 2500
    to suggest thee from thy master thou talkest of;
    serve him still.
  • Clown. I am a woodland fellow, sir, that always loved a
    great fire; and the master I speak of ever keeps a
    good fire. But, sure, he is the prince of the 2505
    world; let his nobility remain in's court. I am for
    the house with the narrow gate, which I take to be
    too little for pomp to enter: some that humble
    themselves may; but the many will be too chill and
    tender, and they'll be for the flowery way that 2510
    leads to the broad gate and the great fire.
  • Lafeu. Go thy ways, I begin to be aweary of thee; and I
    tell thee so before, because I would not fall out
    with thee. Go thy ways: let my horses be well
    looked to, without any tricks. 2515
  • Clown. If I put any tricks upon 'em, sir, they shall be
    jades' tricks; which are their own right by the law of nature.


  • Lafeu. A shrewd knave and an unhappy.
  • Countess. So he is. My lord that's gone made himself much 2520
    sport out of him: by his authority he remains here,
    which he thinks is a patent for his sauciness; and,
    indeed, he has no pace, but runs where he will.
  • Lafeu. I like him well; 'tis not amiss. And I was about to
    tell you, since I heard of the good lady's death and 2525
    that my lord your son was upon his return home, I
    moved the king my master to speak in the behalf of
    my daughter; which, in the minority of them both,
    his majesty, out of a self-gracious remembrance, did
    first propose: his highness hath promised me to do 2530
    it: and, to stop up the displeasure he hath
    conceived against your son, there is no fitter
    matter. How does your ladyship like it?
  • Countess. With very much content, my lord; and I wish it
    happily effected. 2535
  • Lafeu. His highness comes post from Marseilles, of as able
    body as when he numbered thirty: he will be here
    to-morrow, or I am deceived by him that in such
    intelligence hath seldom failed.
  • Countess. It rejoices me, that I hope I shall see him ere I 2540
    die. I have letters that my son will be here
    to-night: I shall beseech your lordship to remain
    with me till they meet together.
  • Lafeu. Madam, I was thinking with what manners I might
    safely be admitted. 2545
  • Countess. You need but plead your honourable privilege.
  • Lafeu. Lady, of that I have made a bold charter; but I
    thank my God it holds yet.

[Re-enter Clown]

  • Clown. O madam, yonder's my lord your son with a patch of 2550
    velvet on's face: whether there be a scar under't
    or no, the velvet knows; but 'tis a goodly patch of
    velvet: his left cheek is a cheek of two pile and a
    half, but his right cheek is worn bare.
  • Lafeu. A scar nobly got, or a noble scar, is a good livery 2555
    of honour; so belike is that.
  • Clown. But it is your carbonadoed face.
  • Lafeu. Let us go see your son, I pray you: I long to talk
    with the young noble soldier.
  • Clown. Faith there's a dozen of 'em, with delicate fine 2560
    hats and most courteous feathers, which bow the head
    and nod at every man.



Act V, Scene 1

Marseilles. A street.


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

  • Helena. But this exceeding posting day and night
    Must wear your spirits low; we cannot help it:
    But since you have made the days and nights as one,
    To wear your gentle limbs in my affairs,
    Be bold you do so grow in my requital 2570
    As nothing can unroot you. In happy time;
    [Enter a Gentleman]
    This man may help me to his majesty's ear,
    If he would spend his power. God save you, sir.
  • Gentleman. And you. 2575
  • Helena. Sir, I have seen you in the court of France.
  • Gentleman. I have been sometimes there.
  • Helena. I do presume, sir, that you are not fallen
    From the report that goes upon your goodness;
    An therefore, goaded with most sharp occasions, 2580
    Which lay nice manners by, I put you to
    The use of your own virtues, for the which
    I shall continue thankful.
  • Gentleman. What's your will?
  • Helena. That it will please you 2585
    To give this poor petition to the king,
    And aid me with that store of power you have
    To come into his presence.
  • Gentleman. The king's not here.
  • Helena. Not here, sir! 2590
  • Gentleman. Not, indeed:
    He hence removed last night and with more haste
    Than is his use.
  • Widow. Lord, how we lose our pains!
  • Helena. ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL yet, 2595
    Though time seem so adverse and means unfit.
    I do beseech you, whither is he gone?
  • Gentleman. Marry, as I take it, to Rousillon;
    Whither I am going.
  • Helena. I do beseech you, sir, 2600
    Since you are like to see the king before me,
    Commend the paper to his gracious hand,
    Which I presume shall render you no blame
    But rather make you thank your pains for it.
    I will come after you with what good speed 2605
    Our means will make us means.
  • Gentleman. This I'll do for you.
  • Helena. And you shall find yourself to be well thank'd,
    Whate'er falls more. We must to horse again.
    Go, go, provide. 2610



Act V, Scene 2

Rousillon. Before the COUNT’s palace.


[Enter Clown, and PAROLLES, following]

  • Parolles. Good Monsieur Lavache, give my Lord Lafeu this
    letter: I have ere now, sir, been better known to
    you, when I have held familiarity with fresher 2615
    clothes; but I am now, sir, muddied in fortune's
    mood, and smell somewhat strong of her strong
  • Clown. Truly, fortune's displeasure is but sluttish, if it
    smell so strongly as thou speakest of: I will 2620
    henceforth eat no fish of fortune's buttering.
    Prithee, allow the wind.
  • Parolles. Nay, you need not to stop your nose, sir; I spake
    but by a metaphor.
  • Clown. Indeed, sir, if your metaphor stink, I will stop my 2625
    nose; or against any man's metaphor. Prithee, get
    thee further.
  • Parolles. Pray you, sir, deliver me this paper.
  • Clown. Foh! prithee, stand away: a paper from fortune's
    close-stool to give to a nobleman! Look, here he 2630
    comes himself.
    [Enter LAFEU]
    Here is a purr of fortune's, sir, or of fortune's
    cat,—but not a musk-cat,—that has fallen into the
    unclean fishpond of her displeasure, and, as he 2635
    says, is muddied withal: pray you, sir, use the
    carp as you may; for he looks like a poor, decayed,
    ingenious, foolish, rascally knave. I do pity his
    distress in my similes of comfort and leave him to
    your lordship. 2640


  • Parolles. My lord, I am a man whom fortune hath cruelly
  • Lafeu. And what would you have me to do? 'Tis too late to
    pare her nails now. Wherein have you played the 2645
    knave with fortune, that she should scratch you, who
    of herself is a good lady and would not have knaves
    thrive long under her? There's a quart d'ecu for
    you: let the justices make you and fortune friends:
    I am for other business. 2650
  • Parolles. I beseech your honour to hear me one single word.
  • Lafeu. You beg a single penny more: come, you shall ha't;
    save your word.
  • Parolles. My name, my good lord, is Parolles.
  • Lafeu. You beg more than 'word,' then. Cox my passion! 2655
    give me your hand. How does your drum?
  • Parolles. O my good lord, you were the first that found me!
  • Lafeu. Was I, in sooth? and I was the first that lost thee.
  • Parolles. It lies in you, my lord, to bring me in some grace,
    for you did bring me out. 2660
  • Lafeu. Out upon thee, knave! dost thou put upon me at once
    both the office of God and the devil? One brings
    thee in grace and the other brings thee out.
    [Trumpets sound]
    The king's coming; I know by his trumpets. Sirrah, 2665
    inquire further after me; I had talk of you last
    night: though you are a fool and a knave, you shall
    eat; go to, follow.
  • Parolles. I praise God for you.



Act V, Scene 3

Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.


[Flourish. Enter KING, COUNTESS, LAFEU, the two] [p]French Lords, with Attendants]

  • King of France. We lost a jewel of her; and our esteem
    Was made much poorer by it: but your son,
    As mad in folly, lack'd the sense to know 2675
    Her estimation home.
  • Countess. 'Tis past, my liege;
    And I beseech your majesty to make it
    Natural rebellion, done i' the blaze of youth;
    When oil and fire, too strong for reason's force, 2680
    O'erbears it and burns on.
  • King of France. My honour'd lady,
    I have forgiven and forgotten all;
    Though my revenges were high bent upon him,
    And watch'd the time to shoot. 2685
  • Lafeu. This I must say,
    But first I beg my pardon, the young lord
    Did to his majesty, his mother and his lady
    Offence of mighty note; but to himself
    The greatest wrong of all. He lost a wife 2690
    Whose beauty did astonish the survey
    Of richest eyes, whose words all ears took captive,
    Whose dear perfection hearts that scorn'd to serve
    Humbly call'd mistress.
  • King of France. Praising what is lost 2695
    Makes the remembrance dear. Well, call him hither;
    We are reconciled, and the first view shall kill
    All repetition: let him not ask our pardon;
    The nature of his great offence is dead,
    And deeper than oblivion we do bury 2700
    The incensing relics of it: let him approach,
    A stranger, no offender; and inform him
    So 'tis our will he should.
  • Gentleman. I shall, my liege.


  • King of France. What says he to your daughter? have you spoke?
  • Lafeu. All that he is hath reference to your highness.
  • King of France. Then shall we have a match. I have letters sent me
    That set him high in fame.

[Enter BERTRAM]LAFEU. He looks well on't.

  • King of France. I am not a day of season,
    For thou mayst see a sunshine and a hail
    In me at once: but to the brightest beams
    Distracted clouds give way; so stand thou forth;
    The time is fair again. 2715
  • Bertram. My high-repented blames,
    Dear sovereign, pardon to me.
  • King of France. All is whole;
    Not one word more of the consumed time.
    Let's take the instant by the forward top; 2720
    For we are old, and on our quick'st decrees
    The inaudible and noiseless foot of Time
    Steals ere we can effect them. You remember
    The daughter of this lord?
  • Bertram. Admiringly, my liege, at first 2725
    I stuck my choice upon her, ere my heart
    Durst make too bold a herald of my tongue
    Where the impression of mine eye infixing,
    Contempt his scornful perspective did lend me,
    Which warp'd the line of every other favour; 2730
    Scorn'd a fair colour, or express'd it stolen;
    Extended or contracted all proportions
    To a most hideous object: thence it came
    That she whom all men praised and whom myself,
    Since I have lost, have loved, was in mine eye 2735
    The dust that did offend it.
  • King of France. Well excused:
    That thou didst love her, strikes some scores away
    From the great compt: but love that comes too late,
    Like a remorseful pardon slowly carried, 2740
    To the great sender turns a sour offence,
    Crying, 'That's good that's gone.' Our rash faults
    Make trivial price of serious things we have,
    Not knowing them until we know their grave:
    Oft our displeasures, to ourselves unjust, 2745
    Destroy our friends and after weep their dust
    Our own love waking cries to see what's done,
    While shame full late sleeps out the afternoon.
    Be this sweet Helen's knell, and now forget her.
    Send forth your amorous token for fair Maudlin: 2750
    The main consents are had; and here we'll stay
    To see our widower's second marriage-day.
  • Countess. Which better than the first, O dear heaven, bless!
    Or, ere they meet, in me, O nature, cesse!
  • Lafeu. Come on, my son, in whom my house's name 2755
    Must be digested, give a favour from you
    To sparkle in the spirits of my daughter,
    That she may quickly come.
    [BERTRAM gives a ring]
    By my old beard, 2760
    And every hair that's on't, Helen, that's dead,
    Was a sweet creature: such a ring as this,
    The last that e'er I took her at court,
    I saw upon her finger.
  • Bertram. Hers it was not. 2765
  • King of France. Now, pray you, let me see it; for mine eye,
    While I was speaking, oft was fasten'd to't.
    This ring was mine; and, when I gave it Helen,
    I bade her, if her fortunes ever stood
    Necessitied to help, that by this token 2770
    I would relieve her. Had you that craft, to reave
    Of what should stead her most?
  • Bertram. My gracious sovereign,
    Howe'er it pleases you to take it so, 2775
    The ring was never hers.
  • Countess. Son, on my life,
    I have seen her wear it; and she reckon'd it
    At her life's rate.
  • Lafeu. I am sure I saw her wear it. 2780
  • Bertram. You are deceived, my lord; she never saw it:
    In Florence was it from a casement thrown me,
    Wrapp'd in a paper, which contain'd the name
    Of her that threw it: noble she was, and thought
    I stood engaged: but when I had subscribed 2785
    To mine own fortune and inform'd her fully
    I could not answer in that course of honour
    As she had made the overture, she ceased
    In heavy satisfaction and would never
    Receive the ring again. 2790
  • King of France. Plutus himself,
    That knows the tinct and multiplying medicine,
    Hath not in nature's mystery more science
    Than I have in this ring: 'twas mine, 'twas Helen's,
    Whoever gave it you. Then, if you know 2795
    That you are well acquainted with yourself,
    Confess 'twas hers, and by what rough enforcement
    You got it from her: she call'd the saints to surety
    That she would never put it from her finger,
    Unless she gave it to yourself in bed, 2800
    Where you have never come, or sent it us
    Upon her great disaster.
  • Bertram. She never saw it.
  • King of France. Thou speak'st it falsely, as I love mine honour;
    And makest conjectural fears to come into me 2805
    Which I would fain shut out. If it should prove
    That thou art so inhuman,—'twill not prove so;—
    And yet I know not: thou didst hate her deadly,
    And she is dead; which nothing, but to close
    Her eyes myself, could win me to believe, 2810
    More than to see this ring. Take him away.
    [Guards seize BERTRAM]
    My fore-past proofs, howe'er the matter fall,
    Shall tax my fears of little vanity,
    Having vainly fear'd too little. Away with him! 2815
    We'll sift this matter further.
  • Bertram. If you shall prove
    This ring was ever hers, you shall as easy
    Prove that I husbanded her bed in Florence,
    Where yet she never was. 2820

[Exit, guarded]

  • King of France. I am wrapp'd in dismal thinkings.

[Enter a Gentleman]

  • Gentleman. Gracious sovereign,
    Whether I have been to blame or no, I know not: 2825
    Here's a petition from a Florentine,
    Who hath for four or five removes come short
    To tender it herself. I undertook it,
    Vanquish'd thereto by the fair grace and speech
    Of the poor suppliant, who by this I know 2830
    Is here attending: her business looks in her
    With an importing visage; and she told me,
    In a sweet verbal brief, it did concern
    Your highness with herself.
  • King of France. [Reads] Upon his many protestations to marry me 2835
    when his wife was dead, I blush to say it, he won
    me. Now is the Count Rousillon a widower: his vows
    are forfeited to me, and my honour's paid to him. He
    stole from Florence, taking no leave, and I follow
    him to his country for justice: grant it me, O 2840
    king! in you it best lies; otherwise a seducer
    flourishes, and a poor maid is undone.
  • Lafeu. I will buy me a son-in-law in a fair, and toll for
    this: I'll none of him. 2845
  • King of France. The heavens have thought well on thee Lafeu,
    To bring forth this discovery. Seek these suitors:
    Go speedily and bring again the count.
    I am afeard the life of Helen, lady,
    Was foully snatch'd. 2850
  • Countess. Now, justice on the doers!

[Re-enter BERTRAM, guarded]

  • King of France. I wonder, sir, sith wives are monsters to you,
    And that you fly them as you swear them lordship,
    Yet you desire to marry. 2855
    [Enter Widow and DIANA]
    What woman's that?
  • Diana. I am, my lord, a wretched Florentine,
    Derived from the ancient Capilet:
    My suit, as I do understand, you know, 2860
    And therefore know how far I may be pitied.
  • Widow. I am her mother, sir, whose age and honour
    Both suffer under this complaint we bring,
    And both shall cease, without your remedy.
  • King of France. Come hither, count; do you know these women? 2865
  • Bertram. My lord, I neither can nor will deny
    But that I know them: do they charge me further?
  • Diana. Why do you look so strange upon your wife?
  • Bertram. She's none of mine, my lord.
  • Diana. If you shall marry, 2870
    You give away this hand, and that is mine;
    You give away heaven's vows, and those are mine;
    You give away myself, which is known mine;
    For I by vow am so embodied yours,
    That she which marries you must marry me, 2875
    Either both or none.
  • Lafeu. Your reputation comes too short for my daughter; you
    are no husband for her.
  • Bertram. My lord, this is a fond and desperate creature,
    Whom sometime I have laugh'd with: let your highness 2880
    Lay a more noble thought upon mine honour
    Than for to think that I would sink it here.
  • King of France. Sir, for my thoughts, you have them ill to friend
    Till your deeds gain them: fairer prove your honour
    Than in my thought it lies. 2885
  • Diana. Good my lord,
    Ask him upon his oath, if he does think
    He had not my virginity.
  • King of France. What say'st thou to her?
  • Bertram. She's impudent, my lord, 2890
    And was a common gamester to the camp.
  • Diana. He does me wrong, my lord; if I were so,
    He might have bought me at a common price:
    Do not believe him. O, behold this ring,
    Whose high respect and rich validity 2895
    Did lack a parallel; yet for all that
    He gave it to a commoner o' the camp,
    If I be one.
  • Countess. He blushes, and 'tis it:
    Of six preceding ancestors, that gem, 2900
    Conferr'd by testament to the sequent issue,
    Hath it been owed and worn. This is his wife;
    That ring's a thousand proofs.
  • King of France. Methought you said
    You saw one here in court could witness it. 2905
  • Diana. I did, my lord, but loath am to produce
    So bad an instrument: his name's Parolles.
  • Lafeu. I saw the man to-day, if man he be.
  • King of France. Find him, and bring him hither.

[Exit an Attendant]

  • Bertram. What of him?
    He's quoted for a most perfidious slave,
    With all the spots o' the world tax'd and debosh'd;
    Whose nature sickens but to speak a truth.
    Am I or that or this for what he'll utter, 2915
    That will speak any thing?
  • King of France. She hath that ring of yours.
  • Bertram. I think she has: certain it is I liked her,
    And boarded her i' the wanton way of youth:
    She knew her distance and did angle for me, 2920
    Madding my eagerness with her restraint,
    As all impediments in fancy's course
    Are motives of more fancy; and, in fine,
    Her infinite cunning, with her modern grace,
    Subdued me to her rate: she got the ring; 2925
    And I had that which any inferior might
    At market-price have bought.
  • Diana. I must be patient:
    You, that have turn'd off a first so noble wife,
    May justly diet me. I pray you yet; 2930
    Since you lack virtue, I will lose a husband;
    Send for your ring, I will return it home,
    And give me mine again.
  • Bertram. I have it not.
  • King of France. What ring was yours, I pray you? 2935
  • Diana. Sir, much like
    The same upon your finger.
  • King of France. Know you this ring? this ring was his of late.
  • Diana. And this was it I gave him, being abed.
  • King of France. The story then goes false, you threw it him 2940
    Out of a casement.
  • Diana. I have spoke the truth.


  • Bertram. My lord, I do confess the ring was hers.
  • King of France. You boggle shrewdly, every feather stars you. 2945
    Is this the man you speak of?
  • Diana. Ay, my lord.
  • King of France. Tell me, sirrah, but tell me true, I charge you,
    Not fearing the displeasure of your master,
    Which on your just proceeding I'll keep off, 2950
    By him and by this woman here what know you?
  • Parolles. So please your majesty, my master hath been an
    honourable gentleman: tricks he hath had in him,
    which gentlemen have.
  • King of France. Come, come, to the purpose: did he love this woman? 2955
  • Parolles. Faith, sir, he did love her; but how?
  • King of France. How, I pray you?
  • Parolles. He did love her, sir, as a gentleman loves a woman.
  • King of France. How is that?
  • Parolles. He loved her, sir, and loved her not. 2960
  • King of France. As thou art a knave, and no knave. What an
    equivocal companion is this!
  • Parolles. I am a poor man, and at your majesty's command.
  • Lafeu. He's a good drum, my lord, but a naughty orator.
  • Diana. Do you know he promised me marriage? 2965
  • Parolles. Faith, I know more than I'll speak.
  • King of France. But wilt thou not speak all thou knowest?
  • Parolles. Yes, so please your majesty. I did go between them,
    as I said; but more than that, he loved her: for
    indeed he was mad for her, and talked of Satan and 2970
    of Limbo and of Furies and I know not what: yet I
    was in that credit with them at that time that I
    knew of their going to bed, and of other motions,
    as promising her marriage, and things which would
    derive me ill will to speak of; therefore I will not 2975
    speak what I know.
  • King of France. Thou hast spoken all already, unless thou canst say
    they are married: but thou art too fine in thy
    evidence; therefore stand aside.
    This ring, you say, was yours? 2980
  • Diana. Ay, my good lord.
  • King of France. Where did you buy it? or who gave it you?
  • Diana. It was not given me, nor I did not buy it.
  • King of France. Who lent it you?
  • Diana. It was not lent me neither. 2985
  • King of France. Where did you find it, then?
  • Diana. I found it not.
  • King of France. If it were yours by none of all these ways,
    How could you give it him?
  • Diana. I never gave it him. 2990
  • Lafeu. This woman's an easy glove, my lord; she goes off
    and on at pleasure.
  • King of France. This ring was mine; I gave it his first wife.
  • Diana. It might be yours or hers, for aught I know.
  • King of France. Take her away; I do not like her now; 2995
    To prison with her: and away with him.
    Unless thou tell'st me where thou hadst this ring,
    Thou diest within this hour.
  • Diana. I'll never tell you.
  • King of France. Take her away. 3000
  • Diana. I'll put in bail, my liege.
  • King of France. I think thee now some common customer.
  • Diana. By Jove, if ever I knew man, 'twas you.
  • King of France. Wherefore hast thou accused him all this while?
  • Diana. Because he's guilty, and he is not guilty: 3005
    He knows I am no maid, and he'll swear to't;
    I'll swear I am a maid, and he knows not.
    Great king, I am no strumpet, by my life;
    I am either maid, or else this old man's wife.
  • King of France. She does abuse our ears: to prison with her. 3010
  • Diana. Good mother, fetch my bail. Stay, royal sir:
    [Exit Widow]
    The jeweller that owes the ring is sent for,
    And he shall surety me. But for this lord,
    Who hath abused me, as he knows himself, 3015
    Though yet he never harm'd me, here I quit him:
    He knows himself my bed he hath defiled;
    And at that time he got his wife with child:
    Dead though she be, she feels her young one kick:
    So there's my riddle: one that's dead is quick: 3020
    And now behold the meaning.

[Re-enter Widow, with HELENA]

  • King of France. Is there no exorcist
    Beguiles the truer office of mine eyes?
    Is't real that I see? 3025
  • Helena. No, my good lord;
    'Tis but the shadow of a wife you see,
    The name and not the thing.
  • Bertram. Both, both. O, pardon!
  • Helena. O my good lord, when I was like this maid, 3030
    I found you wondrous kind. There is your ring;
    And, look you, here's your letter; this it says:
    'When from my finger you can get this ring
    And are by me with child,' &c. This is done:
    Will you be mine, now you are doubly won? 3035
  • Bertram. If she, my liege, can make me know this clearly,
    I'll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly.
  • Helena. If it appear not plain and prove untrue,
    Deadly divorce step between me and you!
    O my dear mother, do I see you living? 3040
  • Lafeu. Mine eyes smell onions; I shall weep anon:
    Good Tom Drum, lend me a handkercher: so,
    I thank thee: wait on me home, I'll make sport with thee:
    Let thy courtesies alone, they are scurvy ones. 3045
  • King of France. Let us from point to point this story know,
    To make the even truth in pleasure flow.
    [To DIANA]
    If thou be'st yet a fresh uncropped flower,
    Choose thou thy husband, and I'll pay thy dower; 3050
    For I can guess that by thy honest aid
    Thou keep'st a wife herself, thyself a maid.
    Of that and all the progress, more or less,
    Resolvedly more leisure shall express:
    All yet seems well; and if it end so meet, 3055
    The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet.
  • King of France. The king's a beggar, now the play is done:
    All is well ended, if this suit be won, 3060
    That you express content; which we will pay,
    With strife to please you, day exceeding day:
    Ours be your patience then, and yours our parts;
    Your gentle hands lend us, and take our hearts.