Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editors: Andrew Griffin, Helen Ostovich
Not Peer Reviewed

All's Well That Ends Well (Modern)


[2.2]
Enter Countess and Clown.
825Countess Come on, sir, I shall now put you to the height of your breeding.
Clown I will show myself highly fed and lowly taught. I know my business is but to the court.
Countess To the court? Why, what place make you 830special, when you put off that with such contempt? 'But to the court'!
Clown Truly, madam, if God have lent a man any manners, he may easily put it off at court. He that cannot make a leg, put off 's cap, kiss his hand, and say 835nothing, has neither leg, hands, lip, nor cap; and indeed such a fellow, to say precisely, were not for the court. But, for me, I have an answer will serve all men.
Countess Marry, that's a bountiful answer that fits all questions.
840Clown It is like a barber's chair that fits all buttocks: the pin-buttock, the quatch-buttock, the brawn-buttock, or any buttock.
Countess Will your answer serve fit to all questions?
Clown As fit as ten groats is for the hand of an 845attorney, as your French crown for your taffety punk, as Tib's rush for Tom's forefinger, as a pancake for Shrove Tuesday, a Morris for May Day, as the nail to his hole, the cuckold to his horn, as a scolding quean to a wrangling knave, as the nun's lip to the friar's mouth; 850nay, as the pudding to his skin.
Countess Have you, I say, an answer of such fitness for all questions?
Clown From below your duke to beneath your constable, it will fit any question.
855Countess It must be an answer of most monstrous size that must fit all demands.
Clown But a trifle neither, in good faith, if the learned should speak truth of it. Here it is, and all that belongs to't. Ask me if I am a courtier; it shall do you no 860harm to learn.
Countess To be young again, if we could! I will be a fool in question, hoping to be the wiser by your answer. I pray you, sir, are you a courtier?
865Clown Oh Lord, sir! -- There's a simple putting off. More, more, a hundred of them.
Countess Sir, I am a poor friend of yours that loves you.
Clown Oh Lord, sir! -- Thick, thick, spare not me.
Countess I think, sir, you can eat none of this homely 870meat.
Clown Oh Lord, sir! -- Nay, put me to't, I warrant you.
Countess You were lately whipped, sir, as I think.
Clown Oh Lord, sir! -- Spare not me.
Countess Do you cry 'Oh Lord, sir!' at your whipping, and 875'Spare not me'? Indeed your 'Oh Lord, sir!' is very sequent to your whipping; you would answer very well to a whipping, if you were but bound to't.
Clown I ne'er had worse luck in my life in my 'Oh Lord, sir!' I see things may serve long, but not serve ever.
880Countess I play the noble housewife with the time, to entertain it so merrily with a fool.
Clown Oh Lord, sir! -- Why there't serves well again.
Countess An end, sir. To your business: give Helen this, [Giving him a letter]
And urge her to a present answer back.
885Commend me to my kinsmen, and my son.
This is not much.
Clown
Not much commendation to them?
Countess Not much employment for you. You understand me?
890Clown Most fruitfully. I am there before my legs.
Lafeu Haste you again.
Exeunt.