Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed

All's Well That Ends Well (Modern)

Enter Countess and Steward.
Countess Alas! And would you take the letter of her?
Might you not know she would do, as she has done,
By sending me a letter? Read it again.
Steward [He reads the] letter. 1560
I am St Jaques' pilgrim, thither gone.
Ambitious love hath so in me offended
That bare-foot plod I the cold ground upon
With sainted vow my faults to have amended.
Write, write, that from the bloody course of war
1565My dearest master, your dear son, may hie.
Bless him at home in peace. Whilst I from far
His name with zealous fervor sanctify,
His taken labors bid him me forgive;
I, his despiteful Juno, sent him forth
1570From courtly friends with camping foes to live,
Where death and danger dogs the heels of worth.
He is too good and fair for death and me,
Whom I myself embrace to set him free.
Countess Ah, what sharp stings are in her mildest words?
1575Rinaldo, you did never lack advice so much
As letting her pass so. Had I spoke with her,
I could have well diverted her intents,
Which thus she hath prevented.
Pardon me, madam.
1580If I had given you this at overnight,
She might have been o'erta'en. And yet she writes
Pursuit would be but vain.
What angel shall
Bless this unworthy husband? He cannot thrive
1585Unless her prayers, whom heaven delights to hear
And loves to grant, reprieve him from the wrath
Of greatest justice. Write, write, Rinaldo,
To this unworthy husband of his wife;
Let every word weigh heavy of her worth
1590That he does weigh too light. My greatest grief,
Though little he do feel it, set down sharply.
Dispatch the most convenient messenger.
When haply he shall hear that she is gone,
He will return, and hope I may that she,
1595Hearing so much, will speed her foot again,
Led hither by pure love. Which of them both
Is dearest to me, I have no skill in sense
To make distinction. Provide this messenger.
My heart is heavy, and mine age is weak;
1600Grief would have tears, and sorrow bids me speak.