Open Source Shakespeare

All's Well That Ends Well

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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.