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

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ACT I - SCENE III. Rousillon. The COUNT's palace.
Enter COUNTESS, Steward, and Clown

COUNTESS
1    I will now hear; what say you of this gentlewoman?
Steward
2    Madam, the care I have had to even your content, I
3    wish might be found in the calendar of my past
4    endeavours; for then we wound our modesty and make
5    foul the clearness of our deservings, when of
6    ourselves we publish them.
COUNTESS
7    What does this knave here? Get you gone, sirrah:
8    the complaints I have heard of you I do not all
9    believe: 'tis my slowness that I do not; for I know
10   you lack not folly to commit them, and have ability
11   enough to make such knaveries yours.
Clown
12   'Tis not unknown to you, madam, I am a poor fellow.
COUNTESS
13   Well, sir.
Clown
14   No, madam, 'tis not so well that I am poor, though
15   many of the rich are damned: but, if I may have
16   your ladyship's good will to go to the world, Isbel
17   the woman and I will do as we may.
COUNTESS
18   Wilt thou needs be a beggar?
Clown
19   I do beg your good will in this case.
COUNTESS
20   In what case?
Clown
21   In Isbel's case and mine own. Service is no
22   heritage: and I think I shall never have the
23   blessing of God till I have issue o' my body; for
24   they say barnes are blessings.
COUNTESS
25   Tell me thy reason why thou wilt marry.
Clown
26   My poor body, madam, requires it: I am driven on
27   by the flesh; and he must needs go that the devil drives.
COUNTESS
28   Is this all your worship's reason?
Clown
29   Faith, madam, I have other holy reasons such as they
30   are.
COUNTESS
31   May the world know them?
Clown
32   I have been, madam, a wicked creature, as you and
33   all flesh and blood are; and, indeed, I do marry
34   that I may repent.
COUNTESS
35   Thy marriage, sooner than thy wickedness.
Clown
36   I am out o' friends, madam; and I hope to have
37   friends for my wife's sake.
COUNTESS
38   Such friends are thine enemies, knave.
Clown
39   You're shallow, madam, in great friends; for the
40   knaves come to do that for me which I am aweary of.
41   He that ears my land spares my team and gives me
42   leave to in the crop; if I be his cuckold, he's my
43   drudge: he that comforts my wife is the cherisher
44   of my flesh and blood; he that cherishes my flesh
45   and blood loves my flesh and blood; he that loves my
46   flesh and blood is my friend: ergo, he that kisses
47   my wife is my friend. If men could be contented to
48   be what they are, there were no fear in marriage;
49   for young Charbon the Puritan and old Poysam the
50   Papist, howsome'er their hearts are severed in
51   religion, their heads are both one; they may jowl
52   horns together, like any deer i' the herd.
COUNTESS
53   Wilt thou ever be a foul-mouthed and calumnious knave?
Clown
54   A prophet I, madam; and I speak the truth the next
55   way:
56   For I the ballad will repeat,
57   Which men full true shall find;
58   Your marriage comes by destiny,
59   Your cuckoo sings by kind.
COUNTESS
60   Get you gone, sir; I'll talk with you more anon.
Steward
61   May it please you, madam, that he bid Helen come to
62   you: of her I am to speak.
COUNTESS
63   Sirrah, tell my gentlewoman I would speak with her;
64   Helen, I mean.
Clown
65   Was this fair face the cause, quoth she,
66   Why the Grecians sacked Troy?
67   Fond done, done fond,
68   Was this King Priam's joy?
69   With that she sighed as she stood,
70   With that she sighed as she stood,
71   And gave this sentence then;
72   Among nine bad if one be good,
73   Among nine bad if one be good,
74   There's yet one good in ten.
COUNTESS
75   What, one good in ten? you corrupt the song, sirrah.
Clown
76   One good woman in ten, madam; which is a purifying
77   o' the song: would God would serve the world so all
78   the year! we'ld find no fault with the tithe-woman,
79   if I were the parson. One in ten, quoth a'! An we
80   might have a good woman born but one every blazing
81   star, or at an earthquake, 'twould mend the lottery
82   well: a man may draw his heart out, ere a' pluck
83   one.
COUNTESS
84   You'll be gone, sir knave, and do as I command you.
Clown
85   That man should be at woman's command, and yet no
86   hurt done! Though honesty be no puritan, yet it
87   will do no hurt; it will wear the surplice of
88   humility over the black gown of a big heart. I am
89   going, forsooth: the business is for Helen to come hither.
Exit

COUNTESS
90   Well, now.
Steward
91   I know, madam, you love your gentlewoman entirely.
COUNTESS
92   Faith, I do: her father bequeathed her to me; and
93   she herself, without other advantage, may lawfully
94   make title to as much love as she finds: there is
95   more owing her than is paid; and more shall be paid
96   her than she'll demand.
Steward
97   Madam, I was very late more near her than I think
98   she wished me: alone she was, and did communicate
99   to herself her own words to her own ears; she
100  thought, I dare vow for her, they touched not any
101  stranger sense. Her matter was, she loved your son:
102  Fortune, she said, was no goddess, that had put
103  such difference betwixt their two estates; Love no
104  god, that would not extend his might, only where
105  qualities were level; Dian no queen of virgins, that
106  would suffer her poor knight surprised, without
107  rescue in the first assault or ransom afterward.
108  This she delivered in the most bitter touch of
109  sorrow that e'er I heard virgin exclaim in: which I
110  held my duty speedily to acquaint you withal;
111  sithence, in the loss that may happen, it concerns
112  you something to know it.
COUNTESS
113  You have discharged this honestly; keep it to
114  yourself: many likelihoods informed me of this
115  before, which hung so tottering in the balance that
116  I could neither believe nor misdoubt. Pray you,
117  leave me: stall this in your bosom; and I thank you
118  for your honest care: I will speak with you further anon.
Exit Steward
Enter HELENA
119  Even so it was with me when I was young:
120  If ever we are nature's, these are ours; this thorn
121  Doth to our rose of youth rightly belong;
122  Our blood to us, this to our blood is born;
123  It is the show and seal of nature's truth,
124  Where love's strong passion is impress'd in youth:
125  By our remembrances of days foregone,
126  Such were our faults, or then we thought them none.
127  Her eye is sick on't: I observe her now.
HELENA
128  What is your pleasure, madam?
COUNTESS
129  You know, Helen,
130  I am a mother to you.
HELENA
131  Mine honourable mistress.
COUNTESS
132  Nay, a mother:
133  Why not a mother? When I said 'a mother,'
134  Methought you saw a serpent: what's in 'mother,'
135  That you start at it? I say, I am your mother;
136  And put you in the catalogue of those
137  That were enwombed mine: 'tis often seen
138  Adoption strives with nature and choice breeds
139  A native slip to us from foreign seeds:
140  You ne'er oppress'd me with a mother's groan,
141  Yet I express to you a mother's care:
142  God's mercy, maiden! does it curd thy blood
143  To say I am thy mother? What's the matter,
144  That this distemper'd messenger of wet,
145  The many-colour'd Iris, rounds thine eye?
146  Why? that you are my daughter?
HELENA
147  That I am not.
COUNTESS
148  I say, I am your mother.
HELENA
149  Pardon, madam;
150  The Count Rousillon cannot be my brother:
151  I am from humble, he from honour'd name;
152  No note upon my parents, his all noble:
153  My master, my dear lord he is; and I
154  His servant live, and will his vassal die:
155  He must not be my brother.
COUNTESS
156  Nor I your mother?
HELENA
157  You are my mother, madam; would you were,--
158  So that my lord your son were not my brother,--
159  Indeed my mother! or were you both our mothers,
160  I care no more for than I do for heaven,
161  So I were not his sister. Can't no other,
162  But, I your daughter, he must be my brother?
COUNTESS
163  Yes, Helen, you might be my daughter-in-law:
164  God shield you mean it not! daughter and mother
165  So strive upon your pulse. What, pale again?
166  My fear hath catch'd your fondness: now I see
167  The mystery of your loneliness, and find
168  Your salt tears' head: now to all sense 'tis gross
169  You love my son; invention is ashamed,
170  Against the proclamation of thy passion,
171  To say thou dost not: therefore tell me true;
172  But tell me then, 'tis so; for, look thy cheeks
173  Confess it, th' one to th' other; and thine eyes
174  See it so grossly shown in thy behaviors
175  That in their kind they speak it: only sin
176  And hellish obstinacy tie thy tongue,
177  That truth should be suspected. Speak, is't so?
178  If it be so, you have wound a goodly clew;
179  If it be not, forswear't: howe'er, I charge thee,
180  As heaven shall work in me for thine avail,
181  Tell me truly.
HELENA
182  Good madam, pardon me!
COUNTESS
183  Do you love my son?
HELENA
184  Your pardon, noble mistress!
COUNTESS
185  Love you my son?
HELENA
186  Do not you love him, madam?
COUNTESS
187  Go not about; my love hath in't a bond,
188  Whereof the world takes note: come, come, disclose
189  The state of your affection; for your passions
190  Have to the full appeach'd.
HELENA
191  Then, I confess,
192  Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
193  That before you, and next unto high heaven,
194  I love your son.
195  My friends were poor, but honest; so's my love:
196  Be not offended; for it hurts not him
197  That he is loved of me: I follow him not
198  By any token of presumptuous suit;
199  Nor would I have him till I do deserve him;
200  Yet never know how that desert should be.
201  I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
202  Yet in this captious and intenible sieve
203  I still pour in the waters of my love
204  And lack not to lose still: thus, Indian-like,
205  Religious in mine error, I adore
206  The sun, that looks upon his worshipper,
207  But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
208  Let not your hate encounter with my love
209  For loving where you do: but if yourself,
210  Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
211  Did ever in so true a flame of liking
212  Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
213  Was both herself and love: O, then, give pity
214  To her, whose state is such that cannot choose
215  But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
216  That seeks not to find that her search implies,
217  But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies!
COUNTESS
218  Had you not lately an intent,--speak truly,--
219  To go to Paris?
HELENA
220  Madam, I had.
COUNTESS
221  Wherefore? tell true.
HELENA
222  I will tell truth; by grace itself I swear.
223  You know my father left me some prescriptions
224  Of rare and proved effects, such as his reading
225  And manifest experience had collected
226  For general sovereignty; and that he will'd me
227  In heedfull'st reservation to bestow them,
228  As notes whose faculties inclusive were
229  More than they were in note: amongst the rest,
230  There is a remedy, approved, set down,
231  To cure the desperate languishings whereof
232  The king is render'd lost.
COUNTESS
233  This was your motive
234  For Paris, was it? speak.
HELENA
235  My lord your son made me to think of this;
236  Else Paris and the medicine and the king
237  Had from the conversation of my thoughts
238  Haply been absent then.
COUNTESS
239  But think you, Helen,
240  If you should tender your supposed aid,
241  He would receive it? he and his physicians
242  Are of a mind; he, that they cannot help him,
243  They, that they cannot help: how shall they credit
244  A poor unlearned virgin, when the schools,
245  Embowell'd of their doctrine, have left off
246  The danger to itself?
HELENA
247  There's something in't,
248  More than my father's skill, which was the greatest
249  Of his profession, that his good receipt
250  Shall for my legacy be sanctified
251  By the luckiest stars in heaven: and, would your honour
252  But give me leave to try success, I'ld venture
253  The well-lost life of mine on his grace's cure
254  By such a day and hour.
COUNTESS
255  Dost thou believe't?
HELENA
256  Ay, madam, knowingly.
COUNTESS
257  Why, Helen, thou shalt have my leave and love,
258  Means and attendants and my loving greetings
259  To those of mine in court: I'll stay at home
260  And pray God's blessing into thy attempt:
261  Be gone to-morrow; and be sure of this,
262  What I can help thee to thou shalt not miss.
Exeunt

< (Previous) ACT I, SCENE IIACT II, SCENE I (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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