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All's Well That Ends Well

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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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • Parolles. Five or six thousand horse, I said,— I will say
    true,—or thereabouts, set down, for I'll speak truth.
  • Bertram. But I con him no thanks for't, in the nature he
    delivers it. 2240
  • Parolles. Poor rogues, I pray you, say.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Bertram. For this description of thine honesty? A pox upon 2345
    him for me, he's more and more a cat.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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