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Home > All's Well That Ends Well > ACT I - SCENE I. Rousillon. The COUNT's palace.

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ACT I, SCENE II (Next) >

ACT I - SCENE I. Rousillon. The COUNT's palace.
COUNTESS
1    In delivering my son from me, I bury a second husband.
BERTRAM
2    And I in going, madam, weep o'er my father's death
3    anew: but I must attend his majesty's command, to
4    whom I am now in ward, evermore in subjection.
LAFEU
5    You shall find of the king a husband, madam; you,
6    sir, a father: he that so generally is at all times
7    good must of necessity hold his virtue to you; whose
8    worthiness would stir it up where it wanted rather
9    than lack it where there is such abundance.
COUNTESS
10   What hope is there of his majesty's amendment?
LAFEU
11   He hath abandoned his physicians, madam; under whose
12   practises he hath persecuted time with hope, and
13   finds no other advantage in the process but only the
14   losing of hope by time.
COUNTESS
15   This young gentlewoman had a father,--O, that
16   'had'! how sad a passage 'tis!--whose skill was
17   almost as great as his honesty; had it stretched so
18   far, would have made nature immortal, and death
19   should have play for lack of work. Would, for the
20   king's sake, he were living! I think it would be
21   the death of the king's disease.
LAFEU
22   How called you the man you speak of, madam?
COUNTESS
23   He was famous, sir, in his profession, and it was
24   his great right to be so: Gerard de Narbon.
LAFEU
25   He was excellent indeed, madam: the king very
26   lately spoke of him admiringly and mourningly: he
27   was skilful enough to have lived still, if knowledge
28   could be set up against mortality.
BERTRAM
29   What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of?
LAFEU
30   A fistula, my lord.
BERTRAM
31   I heard not of it before.
LAFEU
32   I would it were not notorious. Was this gentlewoman
33   the daughter of Gerard de Narbon?
COUNTESS
34   His sole child, my lord, and bequeathed to my
35   overlooking. I have those hopes of her good that
36   her education promises; her dispositions she
37   inherits, which makes fair gifts fairer; for where
38   an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, there
39   commendations go with pity; they are virtues and
40   traitors too; in her they are the better for their
41   simpleness; she derives her honesty and achieves her goodness.
LAFEU
42   Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.
COUNTESS
43   'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise
44   in. The remembrance of her father never approaches
45   her heart but the tyranny of her sorrows takes all
46   livelihood from her cheek. No more of this, Helena;
47   go to, no more; lest it be rather thought you affect
48   a sorrow than have it.
HELENA
49   I do affect a sorrow indeed, but I have it too.
LAFEU
50   Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead,
51   excessive grief the enemy to the living.
COUNTESS
52   If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess
53   makes it soon mortal.
BERTRAM
54   Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
LAFEU
55   How understand we that?
COUNTESS
56   Be thou blest, Bertram, and succeed thy father
57   In manners, as in shape! thy blood and virtue
58   Contend for empire in thee, and thy goodness
59   Share with thy birthright! Love all, trust a few,
60   Do wrong to none: be able for thine enemy
61   Rather in power than use, and keep thy friend
62   Under thy own life's key: be cheque'd for silence,
63   But never tax'd for speech. What heaven more will,
64   That thee may furnish and my prayers pluck down,
65   Fall on thy head! Farewell, my lord;
66   'Tis an unseason'd courtier; good my lord,
67   Advise him.
LAFEU
68   He cannot want the best
69   That shall attend his love.
COUNTESS
70   Heaven bless him! Farewell, Bertram.
Exit

BERTRAM
To HELENA
71    The best wishes that can be forged in
72   your thoughts be servants to you! Be comfortable
73   to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her.
LAFEU
74   Farewell, pretty lady: you must hold the credit of
75   your father.
Exeunt BERTRAM and LAFEU

HELENA
76   O, were that all! I think not on my father;
77   And these great tears grace his remembrance more
78   Than those I shed for him. What was he like?
79   I have forgot him: my imagination
80   Carries no favour in't but Bertram's.
81   I am undone: there is no living, none,
82   If Bertram be away. 'Twere all one
83   That I should love a bright particular star
84   And think to wed it, he is so above me:
85   In his bright radiance and collateral light
86   Must I be comforted, not in his sphere.
87   The ambition in my love thus plagues itself:
88   The hind that would be mated by the lion
89   Must die for love. 'Twas pretty, though plague,
90   To see him every hour; to sit and draw
91   His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls,
92   In our heart's table; heart too capable
93   Of every line and trick of his sweet favour:
94   But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancy
95   Must sanctify his reliques. Who comes here?
Enter PAROLLES
Aside
96   One that goes with him: I love him for his sake;
97   And yet I know him a notorious liar,
98   Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;
99   Yet these fixed evils sit so fit in him,
100  That they take place, when virtue's steely bones
101  Look bleak i' the cold wind: withal, full oft we see
102  Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.
PAROLLES
103  Save you, fair queen!
HELENA
104  And you, monarch!
PAROLLES
105  No.
HELENA
106  And no.
PAROLLES
107  Are you meditating on virginity?
HELENA
108  Ay. You have some stain of soldier in you: let me
109  ask you a question. Man is enemy to virginity; how
110  may we barricado it against him?
PAROLLES
111  Keep him out.
HELENA
112  But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant,
113  in the defence yet is weak: unfold to us some
114  warlike resistance.
PAROLLES
115  There is none: man, sitting down before you, will
116  undermine you and blow you up.
HELENA
117  Bless our poor virginity from underminers and
118  blowers up! Is there no military policy, how
119  virgins might blow up men?
PAROLLES
120  Virginity being blown down, man will quicklier be
121  blown up: marry, in blowing him down again, with
122  the breach yourselves made, you lose your city. It
123  is not politic in the commonwealth of nature to
124  preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational
125  increase and there was never virgin got till
126  virginity was first lost. That you were made of is
127  metal to make virgins. Virginity by being once lost
128  may be ten times found; by being ever kept, it is
129  ever lost: 'tis too cold a companion; away with 't!
HELENA
130  I will stand for 't a little, though therefore I die a virgin.
PAROLLES
131  There's little can be said in 't; 'tis against the
132  rule of nature. To speak on the part of virginity,
133  is to accuse your mothers; which is most infallible
134  disobedience. He that hangs himself is a virgin:
135  virginity murders itself and should be buried in
136  highways out of all sanctified limit, as a desperate
137  offendress against nature. Virginity breeds mites,
138  much like a cheese; consumes itself to the very
139  paring, and so dies with feeding his own stomach.
140  Besides, virginity is peevish, proud, idle, made of
141  self-love, which is the most inhibited sin in the
142  canon. Keep it not; you cannot choose but loose
143  by't: out with 't! within ten year it will make
144  itself ten, which is a goodly increase; and the
145  principal itself not much the worse: away with 't!
HELENA
146  How might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking?
PAROLLES
147  Let me see: marry, ill, to like him that ne'er it
148  likes. 'Tis a commodity will lose the gloss with
149  lying; the longer kept, the less worth: off with 't
150  while 'tis vendible; answer the time of request.
151  Virginity, like an old courtier, wears her cap out
152  of fashion: richly suited, but unsuitable: just
153  like the brooch and the tooth-pick, which wear not
154  now. Your date is better in your pie and your
155  porridge than in your cheek; and your virginity,
156  your old virginity, is like one of our French
157  withered pears, it looks ill, it eats drily; marry,
158  'tis a withered pear; it was formerly better;
159  marry, yet 'tis a withered pear: will you anything with it?
HELENA
160  Not my virginity yet
161  There shall your master have a thousand loves,
162  A mother and a mistress and a friend,
163  A phoenix, captain and an enemy,
164  A guide, a goddess, and a sovereign,
165  A counsellor, a traitress, and a dear;
166  His humble ambition, proud humility,
167  His jarring concord, and his discord dulcet,
168  His faith, his sweet disaster; with a world
169  Of pretty, fond, adoptious christendoms,
170  That blinking Cupid gossips. Now shall he--
171  I know not what he shall. God send him well!
172  The court's a learning place, and he is one--
PAROLLES
173  What one, i' faith?
HELENA
174  That I wish well. 'Tis pity--
PAROLLES
175  What's pity?
HELENA
176  That wishing well had not a body in't,
177  Which might be felt; that we, the poorer born,
178  Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes,
179  Might with effects of them follow our friends,
180  And show what we alone must think, which never
181  Return us thanks.
Enter Page

Page
182  Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you.
Exit

PAROLLES
183  Little Helen, farewell; if I can remember thee, I
184  will think of thee at court.
HELENA
185  Monsieur Parolles, you were born under a charitable star.
PAROLLES
186  Under Mars, I.
HELENA
187  I especially think, under Mars.
PAROLLES
188  Why under Mars?
HELENA
189  The wars have so kept you under that you must needs
190  be born under Mars.
PAROLLES
191  When he was predominant.
HELENA
192  When he was retrograde, I think, rather.
PAROLLES
193  Why think you so?
HELENA
194  You go so much backward when you fight.
PAROLLES
195  That's for advantage.
HELENA
196  So is running away, when fear proposes the safety;
197  but the composition that your valour and fear makes
198  in you is a virtue of a good wing, and I like the wear well.
PAROLLES
199  I am so full of businesses, I cannot answer thee
200  acutely. I will return perfect courtier; in the
201  which, my instruction shall serve to naturalize
202  thee, so thou wilt be capable of a courtier's
203  counsel and understand what advice shall thrust upon
204  thee; else thou diest in thine unthankfulness, and
205  thine ignorance makes thee away: farewell. When
206  thou hast leisure, say thy prayers; when thou hast
207  none, remember thy friends; get thee a good husband,
208  and use him as he uses thee; so, farewell.
Exit

HELENA
209  Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
210  Which we ascribe to heaven: the fated sky
211  Gives us free scope, only doth backward pull
212  Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.
213  What power is it which mounts my love so high,
214  That makes me see, and cannot feed mine eye?
215  The mightiest space in fortune nature brings
216  To join like likes and kiss like native things.
217  Impossible be strange attempts to those
218  That weigh their pains in sense and do suppose
219  What hath been cannot be: who ever strove
220  So show her merit, that did miss her love?
221  The king's disease--my project may deceive me,
222  But my intents are fix'd and will not leave me.
Exit

ACT I, SCENE II (Next) >
Scene Index
ACT I
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III


  • ACT II
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V


  • ACT III
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V
  • SCENE VI
  • SCENE VII


  • ACT IV
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • SCENE IV
  • SCENE V


  • ACT V
  • SCENE I
  • SCENE II
  • SCENE III
  • EPILOGUE

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