Open Source Shakespeare

All's Well That Ends Well


Scene 1. Florence. The DUKE’s palace.

Scene 2. Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.

Scene 3. Florence. Before the DUKE’s palace.

Scene 4. Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.

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

Scene 6. Camp before Florence.

Scene 7. Florence. The Widow’s house.

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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