William Shakespeare's "All's Well that Ends Well" in the complete original text.
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HOME > Plays > All's Well that Ends Well > ActI V. Scene III.

All's Well that Ends Well

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Act IV. Scene III.

Scene III.—The Florentine Camp.

Enter the two French Lords, and two or three

First Lord. You have not given him his
mother's letter?
Sec. Lord. I have delivered it an hour since:
there is something in't that stings his nature, for
on the reading it he changed almost into another
First Lord. He has much worthy blame laid
upon him for shaking off so good a wife and so
sweet a lady.
Sec. Lord. Especially he hath incurred the
everlasting displeasure of the king, who had even
tuned his 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.
Sec. Lord. He hath perverted a young gentle-
woman here in Florence, of a most chaste re-
nown; and this night he fleshes his will in the
spoil of her honour: he hath given her his monu-
mental ring, and thinks himself made in the
unchaste composition.
First Lord. Now, God delay our rebellion!
as we are ourselves, what things are we!
Sec. 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 nobility, in his proper stream
overflows himself.
First Lord. Is it not most damnable in us,
to be trumpeters of our unlawful intents? We
shall not then have his company to-night?
Sec. Lord. Not till after midnight, for he is
dieted to his hour.
First Lord. That approaches apace: I would
gladly have him see his company anatomized,
that he might take a measure of his own judg-
ments, wherein so curiously he had set this
Sec. Lord. We will not meddle with him till
he come, for his presence must be the whip of
the other.
First Lord. In the meantime what hear you
of these wars?
Sec. Lord. I hear there is an overture of peace.
First Lord. Nay, I assure you, a peace con-
Sec. Lord. What will Count Rousillon do
then? will he travel higher, or return again into
First Lord. I perceive by this demand, you
are not altogether of his council.
Sec. Lord. Let it be forbid, sir; so should I
be a great deal of his act.
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 grief; in fine, made a groan of her last
breath, and now she sings in heaven.
Sec. Lord. How is this justified?
First Lord. The stronger part of it by her
own letters, which make her story true, even to
the point of her death: her death itself, which
could not be her office to say is come, was faith-
fully confirmed by the rector of the place.
Sec. Lord. Hath the count all this intelligence?
First Lord. Ay, and the particular confirma-
tions, point from point, to the full arming of the
Sec. Lord. I am heartily sorry that he'll be
glad of this.
First Lord. How mightily sometimes we
make us comforts of our losses!
Sec. Lord. And how mightily some other
times we drown our gain in tears! The great
dignity that his valour hath 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 despair if they were not cherished
by our virtues.

Enter a Servant.
How now! where's your master?
Serv. He met the duke in the street, sir, of
whom he hath taken a solemn leave: his lordship
will next morning for France. The duke hath
offered him letters of commendations to the king.
Sec. 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. Here's his lordship now.

How now, my lord! is't not after midnight?
Ber. I have to-night dispatched sixteen
businesses, a month's length a-piece, by an
abstract of success: I have conge'd 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 be-
tween these main parcels of dispatch effected
many nicer needs: the last was the greatest, but
that I have not ended yet.
Sec. Lord. If the business be of any difficulty,
and this morning your departure hence, it re-
quires haste of your lordship.
Ber. I mean, the business is not ended, as
fearing to hear of it hereafter. But shall we
have this dialogue between the fool and the
soldier? Come, bring forth this counterfeit
model: he has deceived me, like a double-
meaning prophesier.
Sec. Lord. Bring him forth. [Exeunt Soldiers.]
Has sat i' the stocks all night, poor gallant
Ber. No matter; his heels have deserved it,
in usurping his spurs so long. How does he
carry himself?
First Lord. I have told your lordship already,
the stocks carry him. But to answer you as you
would be understood; he weeps like a wench
that had shed her milk: he hath confessed him-
self 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?
Ber. Nothing of me, has a'?
Sec. 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.

Re-enter Soldiers with PAROLLES.
Ber. A plague upon him! muffled! he can
say nothing of me: hush! hush!
First Lord. Hoodman comes! Porto tar-
First Sold. He calls for the tortures: what
will you say without 'em?
Par. I will confess what I know without con-
straint: if ye pinch me like a pasty, I can say no
First Sold. Bosko chimurcho.
First Lord. Boblibindo chicurmurco.
First Sold. You are a merciful general. Our
general bids you answer to what I shall ask you
out of a note.
Par. And truly, as I hope to live.
First Sold. First, demand of him how many
horse the duke is strong. What say you to that?
Par. Five or six thousand; but very wreak
and unserviceable: the troops are all scattered,
and the commanders very poor rogues, upon my
reputation and credit, and as I hope to live.
First Sold. Shall I set down your answer so?
Par. Do: I'll take the sacrament on 't, how
and which way you will.
Ber. All's one to him. What a past-saving
slave is this!
First Lord. You are deceived, my lord: this
is Monsieur Parolles, the gallant militarist,—
that was his own phrase,—that had the whole
theorick of war in the knot of his scarf, and the
practice in the chape of his dagger.
Sec. Lord. I will never trust a man again for
keeping his sword clean; nor believe he can
have everything in him by wearing his apparel
First Sold. Well, that's set down.
Par. Five or six thousand horse, I said,—I
will say true,—or thereabouts, set down, for I'll
speak truth.
First Lord. He's very near the truth in this.
Ber. But I con him no thanks for't. in the
nature he delivers it.
Par. Poor rogues, I pray you, say.
First Sold. Well, that's set down.
Par. I humbly thank you, sir. A truth's a
truth; the rogues are marvellous poor.
First Sold. Demand of him, of what strength
they are a-foot. What say you to that?
Par. 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, and Gratii, two hundred fifty
each; mine own company, Chitopher, Vaumond,
Bentii, two hundred 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 the snow from off their
cassocks, lest they shake themselves to pieces.
Ber. 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 Sold. Well, that's set down. You shall
demand of him, whether one Captain Dumain
be i' the camp, a Frenchman; what his reputa-
tion, is with the duke; what his valour, honesty,
and expertness in wars; or whether he thinks
it were not possible, with well-weighing sums of
gold, to corrupt him to a revolt. What say you
to this? what do you know of it?
Par. I beseech you, let me answer to the
particular of the inter'gatories: demand them
First Sold. Do you know this Captain Du-
Par. I know him: a' was a botcher's 'pren-
tice in Paris, from whence he was whipped for
getting the shrieve's fool with child; a dumb
innocent, that could not say him nay.
[DUMAIN lifts up his hand in anger.
Ber. Nay, by your leave, hold your hands'
though I know his brains are forfeit to the next
tile that falls.
First Sold. Well, is this captain in the Duke
of Florence's camp?
Par. Upon my knowledge he is, and lousy.
First Lord. Nay, look not so upon me; we
shall hear of your lordship anon.
First Sold. What is his reputation with the
Par. 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.
First Sold. Marry, we'll search.
Par. 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 Sold. Here 'tis; here's a paper; shall I
read it to you?
Par. I do not know if it be it or no.
Ber. Our interpreter does it well.
First Lord. Excellently.
First Sold. Dian, the count's a fool, and full
of gold—
Par. That is not the duke's letter, sir; that
is an advertisement to a proper maid in Flo-
rence, 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.
First Sold. Nay, I'll read it first, by your
Par. 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 lasci-
vious boy, who is a whale to virginity, and de-
vours up all the fry it finds.
Ber. Damnable both-sides rogue?
First Sold. 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,
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 vow'd to thee in thine ear,
Ber. He shall be whipped through the army
with this rime in's forehead.
First Lord. This is your devoted friend, sir;
the manifold linguist and the armipotent sol-
Ber. I could endure anything before but a
cat, and now he's a cat to me.
First Sold. I perceive, sir, by our general's
looks, we shall be fain to hang you.
Par. My life, sir, in any case! not that I am
afraid to die; but that, my offences being many,
I would repent out the remainder of nature.
Let me live, sir, in a dungeon, i' the stocks, or
anywhere, so I may live.
First Sold. 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 his valour:
what is his honesty?
Par. 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 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 little more to say, sir, of his
honesty: he has everything that an honest man
should not have; what an honest man should
have, he has nothing.
First Lord. I begin to love him for this.
Ber. For this description of thine honesty? A
pox upon him for me! he is more and more a cat.
First Sold. What say you to his expertness
in war?
Par. 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, 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
First Lord. He hath out-villained villany so
far, that the rarity redeems him.
Ber. A pox on him! he's a cat still.
First Sold. His qualities being at this poor
price, I need not ask you, if gold will corrupt him
to revolt.
Par. Sir, for a cardecu he will sell the fee-
simple of his salvation, the inheritance of it;
and cut the entail from all remainders, and a
perpetual succession for it perpetually.
First Sold. What's his brother, the other
Captain Dumain?
Sec. Lord. Why does he ask of me?
First Sold. What's he?
Par. E'en a crow o' the same nest; not alto-
gether 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. In a retreat he out-runs
any lackey; marry, in coming on he has the
First Sold. If your life be saved, will you
undertake to betray the Florentine?
Par. Ay, and the captain of his horse. Count
First Sold. I'll whisper with the general, and
know his pleasure.
Par. [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 would have suspected
an ambush where I was taken?
First Sold. 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 serve the world for no honest
use; therefore you must die. Come, headsman,
off with his head.
Par. O Lord, sir, let me live, or let me see my
First Sold. That shall you, and take your
leave of all your friends. [ Unmuffling him.
So, look about you: know you any here?
Ber. Good morrow, noble captain.
Sec. Lord. God bless you, Captain Parolles.
First Lord. God save you, noble captain.
Sec. Lord. Captain, what greeting will you to
my Lord Lafeu? 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'd compel it of you; but fare you well.
[Exeunt BERTRAM and Lords.
First Sold. You are undone, captain; all but
your scarf; that has a knot on't yet.
Par. Who cannot be crushed with a plot?
First Sold. If you could find out a country
where but women were 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.
Par. Yet am I thankful: if my heart were great
'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 brag-
Let him fear this; for it will come to pass
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. [Exit.
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