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All's Well That Ends Well

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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.
  • Lafeu. To be relinquish'd of the artists,— 900
  • Lafeu. Both of Galen and Paracelsus.
  • Lafeu. Of all the learned and authentic fellows,—
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bertram. Yes, my good lord; 1010
    But never hope to know why I should marry her.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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.