Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

All's Well That Ends Well (Modern)


[3.2]
Enter Countess[, with a letter,] and Clown.
Countess It hath happened all as I would have had it, save that he comes not along with her.
Clown By my troth I take my young lord to be a 1405very melancholy man.
Countess By what observance, I pray you?
Clown Why, he will look upon his boot and sing, mend the ruff and sing, ask questions and sing, pick his teeth and sing. I know a man that had this trick of 1410melancholy, sold a goodly manor for a song.
Countess Let me see what he writes and when he means to come.
[She opens and reads the letter.]
Clown I have no mind to Isbel since I was at court. Our old lings and our Isbels o'th' country are nothing 1415like your old ling and your Isbels o'th' court. The brains of my Cupid's knocked out, and I begin to love, as an old man loves money, with no stomach.
Countess What have we here?
Clown E'en that you have there.
Exit.
1420Countess:
[She reads] a letter.
I have sent you a daughter-in-law. She hath recovered the King, and undone me: I have wedded her, not bedded her, and sworn to make the "not" eternal. You shall hear I am run away. Know it before the report come. If there be 1425breadth enough in the world, I will hold a long distance. My duty to you. Your unfortunate son, Bertram.
This is not well, rash and unbridled boy,
To fly the favors of so good a king,
1430To pluck his indignation on thy head
By the misprising of a maid too virtuous
For the contempt of empire.
Enter Clown.
Clown Oh, madam, yonder is heavy news within 1435between two soldiers and my young lady.
Countess What is the matter?
Clown Nay, there is some comfort in the news, some comfort. Your son will not be killed so soon as I thought he would.
1440Countess Why should he be killed?
Clown So say I, madam, if he run away, as I hear he does. The danger is in standing to't: that's the loss of men, though it be the getting of children. Here they come will tell you more. For my part I only hear your 1445son was run away.
Enter Helen and two Gentlemen.
2 Gentleman Save you, good madam.
Helen Madam, my lord is gone, forever gone.
1 Gentleman Do not say so.
1450Countess [To Helen] Think upon patience, pray you. -- Gentlemen,
I have felt so many quirks of joy and grief
That the first face of neither on the start
Can woman me unto't. Where is my son, I pray you?
1 Gentleman Madam, he's gone to serve the Duke of Flo1455rence.
We met him thitherward, for thence we came,
And, after some dispatch in hand at court,
Thither we bend again.
Helen Look on his letter, madam. Here's my passport. [She shows the letter to the Countess and reads from it.]
1460
When thou canst get the ring upon my finger, which never shall come off, and show me a child begotten of thy body that I am father to, then call me husband, but in such a "then" I write a "never."
This is a dreadful sentence.
1465Countess Brought you this letter, gentlemen?
1 Gentleman Ay, madam, and for the contents' sake are sorry for our pains.
Countess [To Helen] I prithee, lady, have a better cheer.
If thou engrossest all the griefs are thine,
1470Thou robb'st me of a moiety. He was my son,
But I do wash his name out of my blood,
And thou art all my child. -- [To the Gentlemen.] Towards Florence, is he?
1 Gentleman
Ay, madam.
Countess
And to be a soldier?
14751 Gentleman Such is his noble purpose, and, believe 't,
The duke will lay upon him all the honor
That good convenience claims.
Countess
Return you thither?
2 Gentleman Ay, madam, with the swiftest wing of speed.
1480Helen
Till I have no wife, I have nothing in France.
'Tis bitter.
Countess
Find you that there?
Helen
Ay, madam.
2 Gentleman 'Tis but the boldness of his hand, haply, which 1485his heart was not consenting to.
Countess Nothing in France, until he have no wife.
There's nothing here that is too good for him
But only she, and she deserves a lord
That twenty such rude boys might tend upon
1490And call her hourly mistress. Who was with him?
2 Gentleman A servant only, and a gentleman which I have sometime known.
Countess
Paroles, was it not?
2 Gentleman
Ay, my good lady, he.
1495Countess A very tainted fellow, and full of wickedness.
My son corrupts a well-derivèd nature
With his inducement.
2 Gentleman Indeed, good lady, the fellow has a deal of that, too much, which holds him much to have.
1500Countess You're welcome, gentlemen.
I will entreat you when you see my son
To tell him that his sword can never win
The honor that he loses. More I'll entreat you
Written to bear along.
1 Gentleman
We serve you, madam,
In that and all your 1505worthiest affairs.
Countess Not so, but as we change our courtesies.
Will you draw near?
Exit [Countess with the Gentlemen].
Helen
"Till I have no wife I have nothing in France."
Nothing in France until he has no wife.
1510Thou shalt have none, Roussillon, none in France;
Then hast thou all again. Poor lord, is't I
That chase thee from thy country and expose
Those tender limbs of thine to the event
Of the none-sparing war? And is it I
1515That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou
Wast shot at with faire eyes, to be the mark
Of smoky muskets? O you leaden messengers
That ride vpon the violent speed of fire,
Fly with false aim, move the still-pearing air
1520That sings with piercing, do not touch my lord!
Whoever shoots at him, I set him there.
Whoever charges on his forward breast,
I am the caitiff that do hold him to 't,
And, though I kill him not, I am the cause
1525His death was so effected: Better 'twere
I met the ravin lion when he roared
With sharp constraint of hunger. Better 'twere
That all the miseries which nature owes
Were mine at once. No, come thou home, Roussillon,
1530Whence honor but of danger wins a scar
As oft it loses all. I will be gone.
My being here it is that holds thee hence.
Shall I stay here to do 't? No, no, although
The air of paradise did fan the house
1535And angels officed all: I will be gone,
That pitiful rumor may report my flight
To consolate thine ear. Come, night, end day,
For with the dark, poor thief, I'll steal away.
Exit.