William Shakespeare's "All's Well that Ends Well" in the complete original text.
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All's Well that Ends Well

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Act II. Scene III.

Scene III.—Paris. A Room in the KING'S
Palace.

Enter BERTRAM, LAFEU, and PAROLLES.

Laf. 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, en-
sconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge, when
we should submit ourselves to an unknown fear.
Par. Why, 'tis the rarest argument of wonder
that hath shot out in our latter times.
Ber. And so 'tis.
Laf. To be relinquished of the artists,—
Par. So I say.
Laf. Both of Galen and Paracelsus.
Par. So I say.
Laf. Of all the learned and authentic fellows,—
Par. Right; so I say.
Laf. That gave him out incurable,—
Par. Why, there 'tis; so say I too.
Laf. Not to be helped,—
Par. Right; as 'twere, a man assured of a—
Laf. Uncertain life, and sure death.
Par. Just, you say well: so would I have
said.
Laf. I may truly say it is a novelty to the
world.
Par. It is, indeed: if you will have it in
showing, you shall read it in—what do you call
there—
Laf. A showing of a heavenly effect in an
earthly actor.
Par. That's it I would have said; the very
same.
Laf. Why, your dolphin is not lustier: 'fore
me, I speak in respect—
Par. Nay, 'tis strange, 'tis very strange, that
is the brief and the tedious of it; and he is of a
most facinorous spirit, that will not acknowledge
it to be the—
Laf. Very hand of heaven—
Par. Ay, so I say.
Laf. In a most weak 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 generally
thankful.
Par. I would have said it; you say well.
Here comes the king.

Enter KING, HELENA, and Attendants.
Laf. Lustig, as the Dutchman says: I'll like
a maid the better, whilst I have a tooth in my
head. Why, he's able to lead her a coranto.
Par. Mort du vinaigre! Is not this Helen?
Laf. 'Fore God, I think so.
King. Go, call before me all the lords in
court. [Exit an Attendant.
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.

Enter several Lords.
Fair maid, send forth thine eye: this youthful
parcel
Of noble bachelors stand at my bestowing,
O'er whom both sov'reign power and father's
voice
I have to use: thy frank election make;
Thou hast power to choose, and they none to
forsake.
Hel. To each of you one fair and virtuous
mistress
Fall, when Love please! marry, to each, but one.
Laf. I'd give bay Curtal, and his furniture,
My mouth no more were broken than these boys'
And writ as little beard.
King. Peruse them well:
Not one of those but had a noble father.
Hel. Gentlemen,
Heaven hath through me restor'd the king to
health.
All. We understand it, and thank heaven
for you.
Hel. 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,
'We blush, that thou shouldst choose; but, be
refus'd,
Let the white death sit on thy cheek for ever;
We'll ne'er come there again.'
King. Make choice; and see,
Who shuns thy love, shuns all his love in me.
Hel. 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.
Hel. Thanks, sir; all the rest is mute.
Laf. I had rather be in this choice than
throw ames-ace for my life.
Hel. The honour, sir, that flames in your fair
eyes,
Before I speak, too threateningly replies:
Love make your fortunes twenty times above
Her that so wishes, and her humble love!
Sec. Lord. No better, if you please.
Hel. My wish receive,
Which great Love grant! and so I take my
leave,
Laf. Do all they deny her? An they were
sons of mine, I'd have them whipp'd or I would
send them to the Turk to make eunuchs of.
Hel. [To third Lord.] 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
Find fairer fortune, if you ever wed!
Laf. These boys are boys of ice, they'll none
have her: sure, they are bastards to the Eng-
lish; the French ne'er got 'em.
Hel. You are too young, too happy, and too
good,
To make yourself a son out of my blood.
Fourth Lord. Fair one, I think not so.
Laf. 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.
Hel. [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. Why then, young Bertram, take her;
she's thy wife.
Ber. My wife, my liege! I shall beseech your
highness
In such a business give me leave to use
The help of mine own eyes.
King. Know'st thou not, Bertram,
What she has done for me?
Ber. Yes, my good lord;
But never hope to know why I should marry her.
King. Thou know'st she has rais'd me from
my sickly bed.
Ber. 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.
A poor physician's daughter my wife! Disdain
Rather corrupt me ever!
King. '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,
Would quite confound distinction, yet stand off
In differences so mighty. If she be
All that is virtuous, save what thou dislik'st,
A poor physician's daughter, thou dislik'st
Of virtue for the name; but do not so:
From lowest place when virtuous things pro-
ceed,
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:
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,
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
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.
Ber. I cannot love her, nor will strive to do't.
King. Thou wrong'st thyself if thou shouldst
strive to choose.
Hel. That you are well restor'd, my lord, I'm
glad:
Let the rest go.
King. My honour's at the stake, which to
defeat
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; thou canst not dream
We, poising us in her defective scale,
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. Check thy contempt
Obey our will, which travails in thy good:
Believe not thy disdain, but presently
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
Loosing upon thee, in the name of justice,
Without all terms of pity. Speak; thine answer.
Ber. Pardon, my gracious lord; for I submit
My fancy to your eyes. When I consider
What great creation and what dole of honour
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. Take her by the hand,
And tell her she is thine: to whom I promise
A counterpoise, if not to thy estate
A balance more replete.
Ber. I take her hand.
King. Good fortune and the favour of the
king
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 lov'st her,
Thy love's to me religious; else, does err.
[Exeunt KING, BERTRAM, HELENA, Lords,
and Attendants.
Laf. Do you hear, monsieur? a word with you.
Par. Your pleasure, sir?
Laf, Your lord and master did well to make
his recantation.
Par. Recantation! My lord! my master!
Laf. Ay; is it not a language I speak?
Par. A most harsh one, and not to be under
stood without bloody succeeding. My master!
Laf. Are you companion to the Count
Rousillon?
Par. To any count; to all counts; to what is
man.
Laf. To what is count's man: count's master
is of another style.
Par. You are too old, sir; let it satisfy you,
you are too old,
Laf. I must tell thee, sirrah, I write man; to
which title age cannot bring thee.
Par. What I dare too well do, I dare not do.
Laf. I did think thee, for two ordinaries,
to be a pretty wise fellow: thou didst make
tolerable vent of thy 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 burden. I have now found
thee; when I lose thee again, I care not; yet art
thou good for nothing but taking up, and that
thou'rt scarce worth.
Par. Hadst thou not the privilege of antiquity
upon thee,—
Laf. 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 well: thy casement I need
not open, for I look through thee. Give me thy
hand.
Par. My lord, you give me most egregious
indignity.
Laf. Ay, with all my heart; and thou art
worthy of it.
Par. I have not, my lord, deserved it.
Laf. Yes, good faith, every dram of it; and I
will not bate thee a scruple.
Par. Well, I shall be wiser.
Laf. E'en as soon as thou canst, for thou
hast to pull at a smack o' the contrary. If ever
thou be'st bound 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.
Par. My lord, you do me most insupportable
vexation.
Laf. 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. [Exit.
Par. Well, thou hast a son shall take this
disgrace off 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 would have of—I'll beat him, an if I
could but meet him again!

Re-enter LAFEU.
Laf. Sirrah, your lord and master's married;
there's news for you: you have a new mistress.
Par. I most unfeignedly beseech your lord-
ship to make some reservation of your wrongs:
he is my good lord: whom I serve above is my
master.
Laf. Who? God?
Par. Ay, sir.
Laf. The devil it is that's thy master. Why
dost thou garter up thy arms o' this fashion?
dost make hose of thy 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'd beat thee: methinks thou art
a general offence, and every man should beat
thee: I think thou wast created for men to
breathe themselves upon thee.
Par. This is hard and undeserved measure,
my lord.
Laf. Go to, sir; you were beaten in Italy for
picking a kernel out of a pomegranate; you are
a vagabond and no true traveller: you are more
saucy with lords and honourable personages than
the heraldry of your birth and virtue gives you
commission. You are not worth another word,
else I'd call you knave. I leave you. [Exit.
Par, Good, very good; it is so then: good,
very good. Let it be concealed awhile.

Enter BERTRAM.
Ber. Undone, and forfeited to cares for ever!
Par. What is the matter, sweet heart?
Ber. Although before the solemn priest I
have sworn,
I will not bed her.
Par. What, what, sweet heart?
Ber. O my Parolles, they have married me!
I'll to the Tuscan wars, and never bed her.
Par. France is a dog-hole, and it no more
merits
The tread of a man's foot. To the wars!
Ber. There's letters from my mother: what
the import is
I know not yet.
Par. Ay, that would be known. To the wars,
my boy! to the wars!
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!
France is a stable; we that dwell in't jades;
Therefore, to the war!
Ber. 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
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.
Par. Will this capriccio hold in thee? art
sure?
Ber. 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.
Par. Why, these balls bound; there's noise in
it. 'Tis hard:
A young man married is a man that's marr'd:
Therefore away, and leave her bravely; go:
The king has done you wrong: but, hush! 'tis so.
[Exeunt.
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