Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT V. - All's Well that Ends Well
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ACT V. - William Shakespeare, All’s Well that Ends Well 
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (The Oxford Shakespeare), ed. with a glossary by W.J. Craig M.A. (Oxford University Press, 1916).
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Marseilles. A Street.
EnterHelena, Widow, andDiana,with two Attendants.
But this exceeding posting, day and night,
Must wear your spirits low; we cannot help it:
But since you have made the days and nights as one,
To wear your gentle limbs in my affairs,
Be bold you do so grow in my requital
As nothing can unroot you. In happy time;
Enter a gentle Astringer.
This man may help me to his majesty’s ear,
If he would spend his power. God save you, sir.
Sir, I have seen you in the court of France.
I have been sometimes there.
I do presume, sir, that you are not fallen
From the report that goes upon your goodness;
And therefore, goaded with most sharp occasions,
Which lay nice manners by, I put you to
The use of your own virtues, for the which
I shall continue thankful.
What’s your will?
That it will please you
To give this poor petition to the king,
And aid me with that store of power you have
To come into his presence.
The king’s not here.
Not here, sir!
He hence remov’d last night, and with more haste
Than is his use.
Lord, how we lose our pains!
All’s well that ends well yet,
Though time seems so adverse and means unfit.
I do beseech you, whither is he gone?
Marry, as I take it, to Rousillon;
Whither I am going.
I do beseech you, sir,
Since you are like to see the king before me,
Commend the paper to his gracious hand;
Which I presume shall render you no blame
But rather make you thank your pains for it.
I will come after you with what good speed
Our means will make us means.
This I’ll do for you.
And you shall find yourself to be well thank’d,
Whate’er falls more. We must to horse again:
Go, go, provide.
Rousillon. The inner Court of theCountess’sPalace.
Enter Clown andParolles.
Good Monsieur Lavache, give my Lord Lafeu this letter. I have ere now, sir, been better known to you, when I have held familiarity with fresher clothes; but I am now, sir, muddied in Fortune’s mood, and smell somewhat strong of her strong displeasure.
Truly, Fortune’s displeasure is but sluttish if it smell so strongly as thou speakest of: I will henceforth eat no fish of Fortune’s buttering. Prithee, allow the wind.
Nay, you need not to stop your nose, sir: I spake but by a metaphor.
Indeed, sir, if your metaphor stink, I will stop my nose; or against any man’s metaphor. Prithee, get thee further.
Pray you, sir, deliver me this paper.
Foh! prithee, stand away: a paper from Fortune’s close-stool to give to a nobleman! Look, here he comes himself.
Here is a purr of Fortune’s, sir, or of Fortune’s cat—but not a musk-cat—that has fallen into the unclean fishpond of her displeasure, and, as he says, is muddied withal. Pray you, sir, use the carp as you may, for he looks like a poor, decayed, ingenious, foolish, rascally knave. I do pity his distress in my similes of comfort, and leave him to your lordship.
My lord, I am a man whom Fortune hath cruelly scratched.
And what would you have me to do? ’tis too late to pare her nails now. Wherein have you played the knave with Fortune that she should scratch you, who of herself is a good lady, and would not have knaves thrive long under her? There’s a cardecu for you. Let the justices make you and Fortune friends; I am for other business.
I beseech your honour to hear me one single word.
You beg a single penny more: come, you shall ha’t; save your word.
My name, my good lord, is Parolles.
You beg more than one word then. Cox my passion! give me your hand. How does your drum?
O, my good lord! you were the first that found me.
Was I, in sooth? and I was the first that lost thee.
It lies in you, my lord, to bring me in some grace, for you did bring me out.
Out upon thee, knave! dost thou put upon me at once both the office of God and the devil? one brings thee in grace and the other brings thee out. [Trumpets sound.] The king’s coming; I know by his trumpets. Sirrah, inquire further after me; I had talk of you last night: though you are a fool and a knave, you shall eat: go to, follow.
I praise God for you.
The Same. A Room in theCountess’sPalace.
Flourish. EnterKing, Countess, Lafeu, Lords, Gentlemen, Guards, &c.
We lost a jewel of her, and our esteem
Was made much poorer by it: but your son,
As mad in folly, lack’d the sense to know
Her estimation home.
’Tis past, my liege;
And I beseech your majesty to make it
Natural rebellion, done i’ the blaze of youth;
When oil and fire, too strong for reason’s force,
O’erbears it and burns on.
My honour’d lady,
I have forgiven and forgotten all,
Though my revenges were high bent upon him,
And watch’d the time to shoot.
This I must say,—
But first I beg my pardon,—the young lord
Did to his majesty, his mother, and his lady,
Offence of mighty note, but to himself
The greatest wrong of all: he lost a wife
Whose beauty did astonish the survey
Of richest eyes, whose words all ears took captive,
Whose dear perfection hearts that scorn’d to serve
Humbly call’d mistress.
Praising what is lost
Makes the remembrance dear. Well, call him hither;
We are reconcil’d, and the first view shall kill
All repetition. Let him not ask our pardon:
The nature of his great offence is dead,
And deeper than oblivion we do bury
The incensing relics of it: let him approach,
A stranger, no offender; and inform him
So ’tis our will he should.
I shall, my liege.
What says he to your daughter? have you spoke?
All that he is hath reference to your highness.
Then shall we have a match. I have letters sent me,
That set him high in fame.
He looks well on’t.
I am not a day of season,
For thou mayst see a sunshine and a hail
In me at once; but to the brightest beams
Distracted clouds give way: so stand thou forth;
The time is fair again.
My high-repented blames,
Dear sovereign, pardon to me.
All is whole;
Not one word more of the consumed time.
Let’s take the instant by the forward top,
For we are old, and on our quick’st decrees
The inaudible and noiseless foot of time
Steals ere we can effect them. You remember
The daughter of this lord?
Admiringly, my liege:
At first I stuck my choice upon her, ere my heart
Durst make too bold a herald of my tongue,
Where the impression of mine eye infixing,
Contempt his scornful perspective did lend me,
Which warp’d the line of every other favour;
Scorn’d a fair colour, or express’d it stolen;
Extended or contracted all proportions
To a most hideous object: thence it came
That she, whom all men prais’d, and whom myself,
Since I have lost, have lov’d, was in mine eye
The dust that did offend it.
That thou didst love her, strikes some scores away
From the great compt. But love that comes too late,
Like a remorseful pardon slowly carried,
To the great sender turns a sour offence,
Crying, ‘That’s good that’s gone.’ Our rasher faults
Make trivial price of serious things we have,
Not knowing them until we know their grave:
Oft our displeasures, to ourselves unjust,
Destroy our friends and after weep their dust:
Our own love waking cries to see what’s done,
While shameful hate sleeps out the afternoon.
Be this sweet Helen’s knell, and now forget her.
Send forth your amorous token for fair Maudlin:
The main consents are had; and here we’ll stay
To see our widower’s second marriage-day.
Which better than the first, O dear heaven, bless!
Or, ere they meet, in me, O nature, cesse!
Come on, my son, in whom my house’s name
Must be digested, give a favour from you
To sparkle in the spirits of my daughter,
That she may quickly come.
[Bertramgives a ring. By my old beard,
And every hair that’s on’t, Helen, that’s dead,
Was a sweet creature; such a ring as this,
The last that e’er I took her leave at court,
I saw upon her finger.
Hers it was not.
Now, pray you, let me see it; for mine eye,
While I was speaking, oft was fasten’d to’t.—
This ring was mine; and, when I gave it Helen,
I bade her, if her fortunes ever stood
Necessitied to help, that by this token
I would relieve her. Had you that craft to reave her
Of what should stead her most?
My gracious sovereign,
Howe’er it pleases you to take it so,
The ring was never hers.
Son, on my life,
I have seen her wear it; and she reckon’d it
At her life’s rate.
I am sure I saw her wear it.
You are deceiv’d, my lord, she never saw it:
In Florence was it from a casement thrown me,
Wrapp’d in a paper, which contain’d the name
Of her that threw it. Noble she was, and thought
I stood engag’d: but when I had subscrib’d
To mine own fortune, and inform’d her fully
I could not answer in that course of honour
As she had made the overture, she ceas’d,
In heavy satisfaction, and would never
Receive the ring again.
That knows the tinct and multiplying medicine,
Hath not in nature’s mystery more science
Than I have in this ring: ’twas mine, ’twas Helen’s,
Whoever gave it you. Then, if you know
That you are well acquainted with yourself,
Confess ’twas hers, and by what rough enforcement
You got it from her. She call’d the saints to surety,
That she would never put it from her finger
Unless she gave it to yourself in bed,
Where you have never come, or sent it us
Upon her great disaster.
She never saw it.
Thou speak’st it falsely, as I love mine honour;
And mak’st conjectural fears to come into me
Which I would fain shut out. If it should prove
That thou art so inhuman,—’twill not prove so;—
And yet I know not: thou didst hate her deadly,
And she is dead; which nothing, but to close
Her eyes myself, could win me to believe,
More than to see this ring. Take him away.
My fore-past proofs, howe’er the matter fall,
Shall tax my fears of little vanity,
Having vainly fear’d too little. Away with him!
We’ll sift this matter further.
If you shall prove
This ring was ever hers, you shall as easy
Prove that I husbanded her bed in Florence,
Where yet she never was.
I am wrapp’d in dismal thinkings.
Enter the gentle Astringer.
Whether I have been to blame or no, I know not:
Here’s a petition from a Florentine,
Who hath, for four or five removes come short
To tender it herself. I undertook it,
Vanquish’d thereto by the fair grace and speech
Of the poor suppliant, who by this I know
Is here attending: her business looks in her
With an importing visage, and she told me,
In a sweet verbal brief, it did concern
Your highness with herself.
Upon his many protestations to marry me when his wife was dead, I blush to say it, he won me. Now is the Count Rousillon a widower: his vows are forfeited to me, and my honour’s paid to him. He stole from Florence, taking no leave, and I follow him to his country for justice. Grant it me, O king! in you it best lies; otherwise a seducer flourishes, and a poor maid is undone.
I will buy me a son-in-law in a fair, and toll for this: I’ll none of him.
The heavens have thought well on thee, Lafeu,
To bring forth this discovery. Seek these suitors:
Go speedily and bring again the count.
[Exeunt the gentle Astringer, and some Attendants.
I am afeard the life of Helen, lady,
Was foully snatch’d.
Now, justice on the doers!
I wonder, sir, sith wives are monsters to you,
And that you fly them as you swear them lordship,
Yet you desire to marry.
Re-enter the gentle Astringer, with Widow andDiana.
What woman’s that?
I am, my lord, a wretched Florentine,
Derived from the ancient Capilet:
My suit, as I do understand, you know,
And therefore know how far I may be pitied.
I am her mother, sir, whose age and honour
Both suffer under this complaint we bring,
And both shall cease, without your remedy.
Come hither, county; do you know these women?
My lord, I neither can nor will deny
But that I know them: do they charge me further?
Why do you look so strange upon your wife?
She’s none of mine, my lord.
If you shall marry,
You give away this hand, and that is mine;
You give away heaven’s vows, and those are mine;
You give away myself, which is known mine;
For I by vow am so embodied yours
That she which marries you must marry me;
Either both or none.
[ToBertram.] Your reputation comes too short for my daughter: you are no husband for her.
My lord, this is a fond and desperate creature,
Whom sometime I have laugh’d with: let your highness
Lay a more noble thought upon mine honour
Than for to think that I would sink it here.
Sir, for my thoughts, you have them ill to friend,
Till your deeds gain them: fairer prove your honour,
Than in my thought it lies.
Good my lord,
Ask him upon his oath, if he does think
He had not my virginity.
What sayst thou to her?
She’s impudent, my lord;
And was a common gamester to the camp.
He does me wrong, my lord; if I were so,
He might have bought me at a common price:
Do not believe him. O! behold this ring,
Whose high respect and rich validity
Did lack a parallel; yet for all that
He gave it to a commoner o’ the camp,
If I be one.
He blushes, and ’tis it:
Of six preceding ancestors, that gem
Conferr’d by testament to the sequent issue,
Hath it been ow’d and worn. This is his wife:
That ring’s a thousand proofs.
Methought you said
You saw one here in court could witness it.
I did, my lord, but loath am to produce
So bad an instrument: his name’s Parolles.
I saw the man to-day, if man he be.
Find him, and bring him hither.
[Exit an Attendant.
What of him?
He’s quoted for a most perfidious slave,
With all the spots of the world tax’d and debosh’d,
Whose nature sickens but to speak a truth.
Am I or that or this for what he’ll utter,
That will speak anything?
She hath that ring of yours.
I think she has: certain it is I lik’d her,
And boarded her i’ the wanton way of youth.
She knew her distance and did angle for me,
Madding my eagerness with her restraint,
As all impediments in fancy’s course
Are motives of more fancy; and, in fine,
Her infinite cunning, with her modern grace,
Subdued me to her rate; she got the ring,
And I had that which any inferior might
At market-price have bought.
I must be patient;
You, that have turn’d off a first so noble wife,
May justly diet me. I pray you yet,—
Since you lack virtue I will lose a husband,—
Send for your ring; I will return it home,
And give me mine again.
I have it not.
What ring was yours, I pray you?
Sir, much like
The same upon your finger.
Know you this ring? this ring was his of late.
And this was it I gave him, being a-bed.
The story then goes false you threw it him
Out of a casement.
I have spoke the truth.
Re-enter Attendant withParolles.
My lord, I do confess the ring was hers.
You boggle shrewdly, every feather starts you.
Is this the man you speak of?
Ay, my lord.
Tell me, sirrah, but tell me true, I charge you,
Not fearing the displeasure of your master,—
Which, on your just proceeding I’ll keep off,—
By him and by this woman here what know you?
So please your majesty, my master hath been an honourable gentleman: tricks he hath had in him, which gentlemen have.
Come, come, to the purpose: did he love this woman?
Faith, sir, he did love her; but how?
How, I pray you?
He did love her, sir, as a gentleman loves a woman.
How is that?
He loved her, sir, and loved her not.
As thou art a knave, and no knave.
What an equivocal companion is this!
I am a poor man, and at your majesty’s command.
He is a good drum, my lord, but a naughty orator.
Do you know he promised me marriage?
Faith, I know more than I’ll speak.
But wilt thou not speak all thou knowest?
Yes, so please your majesty. I did go between them, as I said; but more than that, he loved her, for, indeed, he was mad for her, and talked of Satan, and of limbo, and of Furies, and I know not what: yet I was in that credit with them at that time, that I knew of their going to bed, and of other motions, as promising her marriage, and things which would derive me ill will to speak of: therefore I will not speak what I know.
Thou hast spoken all already, unless thou canst say they are married: but thou art too fine in thy evidence; therefore stand aside. This ring, you say, was yours?
Ay, my good lord.
Where did you buy it? or who gave it you?
It was not given me, nor I did not buy it.
Who lent it you?
It was not lent me neither.
Where did you find it, then?
I found it not.
If it were yours by none of all these ways,
How could you give it him?
I never gave it him.
This woman’s an easy glove, my lord: she goes off and on at pleasure.
This ring was mine: I gave it his first wife.
It might be yours or hers, for aught I know.
Take her away; I do not like her now.
To prison with her; and away with him.
Unless thou tell’st me where thou hadst this ring
Thou diest within this hour.
I’ll never tell you.
Take her away.
I’ll put in bail, my liege.
I think thee now some common customer.
By Jove, if ever I knew man, ’twas you.
Wherefore hast thou accus’d him all this while?
Because he’s guilty, and he is not guilty.
He knows I am no maid, and he’ll swear to’t;
I’ll swear I am a maid, and he knows not.
Great king, I am no strumpet, by my life;
I am either maid, or else this old man’s wife.
She does abuse our ears: to prison with her!
Good mother, fetch my bail. [Exit Widow.] Stay, royal sir;
The jeweller that owes the ring is sent for,
And he shall surety me. But for this lord,
Who hath abus’d me, as he knows himself,
Though yet he never harm’d me, here I quit him:
He knows himself my bed he hath defil’d,
And at that time he got his wife with child:
Dead though she be, she feels her young one kick:
So there’s my riddle: one that’s dead is quick;
And now behold the meaning.
Re-enter Widow, withHelena.
Is there no exorcist
Beguiles the truer office of mine eyes?
Is’t real that I see?
No, my good lord;
’Tis but the shadow of a wife you see;
The name and not the thing.
Both, both. O! pardon.
O my good lord! when I was like this maid,
I found you wondrous kind. There is your ring;
And, look you, here’s your letter; this it says:
When from my finger you can get this ring,
And are by me with child, &c. This is done:
Will you be mine, now you are doubly won?
If she, my liege, can make me know this clearly,
I’ll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly.
If it appear not plain, and prove untrue,
Deadly divorce step between me and you!
O! my dear mother; do I see you living?
Mine eyes smell onions; I shall weep anon. [ToParolles.] Good Tom Drum, lend me a handkercher: so, I thank thee. Wait on me home, I’ll make sport with thee: let thy curtsies alone, they are scurvy ones.
Let us from point to point this story know,
To make the even truth in pleasure flow.
[ToDiana.] If thou be’st yet a fresh uncropped flower,
Choose thou thy husband, and I’ll pay thy dower;
For I can guess that by thy honest aid
Thou keptst a wife herself, thyself a maid.
Of that, and all the progress, more and less,
Resolvedly more leisure shall express:
All yet seems well; and if it end so meet,
The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet.