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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
All’s Well that Ends Well
 
Act II. 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, ensconcing 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.        5
  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,—        10
  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—        15
  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.        20
  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.        25
  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.        30
  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        35
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        40
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        45
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:        50
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        55
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;        60
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,        65
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,        70
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,        75
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        80
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 English; 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.        85
  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.        90
  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?        95
  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:        100
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,        105
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        110
Of virtue for the name; but do not so:
From lowest place when virtuous things proceed,
The place is dignified by the doer’s deed:
Where great additions swell’s, and virtue none,
It is a dropsied honour. Good alone        115
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        120
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        125
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        130
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.        135
  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        140
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:        145
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        150
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        155
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.        160
  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.        165
  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,        170
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.        175
  Par.  Recantation! My lord! my master!
  Laf.  Ay; is it not a language I speak?
  Par.  A most harsh one, and not to be understood without bloody succeeding. My master!
  Laf.  Are you companion to the Count Rousillon?
  Par.  To any count; to all counts; to what is man.        180
  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.        185
  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.        190
  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.        195
  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 lordship to make some reservation of your wrongs: he is my good lord: whom I serve above is my master.
  Laf.  Who? God?        200
  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.        205
 
Re-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.        210
  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!        215
  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,        220
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!        225
  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,        230
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        235
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.        240
 
 
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