Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: All's Well That Ends Well (Modern)
  • Editors: Andrew Griffin, Helen Ostovich
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-432-5

    Copyright Helen Ostovich and Andrew Griffin. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editors: Andrew Griffin, Helen Ostovich
    Not Peer Reviewed

    All's Well That Ends Well (Modern)

    Enter the King with divers young Lords taking leave for 595the Florentine war, [Bertram,] Count Roussillon, and Paroles. Flourish cornets.
    King [Addressing the assembled Lords] Farewell, young lords. These warlike principles
    Do not throw from you. -- [To 1 Lord and 2 Lord] And you, my lords, farewell.
    Share the advice betwixt you; if both gain, all
    600The gift doth stretch itself as 'tis received,
    And is enough for both.
    1 Lord
    'Tis our hope sir,
    After well entered soldiers, to return
    And find your grace in health.
    605King No, no, it cannot be. And yet my heart
    Will not confess he owes the malady
    That doth my life besiege. -- Farewell, young lords.
    Whether I live or die, be you the sons
    Of worthy Frenchmen. Let higher Italy
    610(Those bated that inherit but the fall
    Of the last monarchy) see that you come
    Not to woo honor, but to wed it, when
    The bravest questant shrinks. Find what you seek,
    That fame may cry you loud. I say farewell.
    6151 Lord Health, at your bidding, serve your majesty.
    King Those girls of Italy, take heed of them:
    They say our French lack language to deny
    If they demand. Beware of being captives
    Before you serve.
    6201 and 2 Lords
    Our hearts receive your warnings.
    King Farewell. -- [To Attendants] Come hither to me.
    1 Lord [To Bertram] O, my sweet lord, that you will stay behind us!
    'Tis not his fault, the spark.
    2 Lord
    Oh, 'tis brave wars!
    625Paroles Most admirable! I have seen those wars.
    Bertram I am commanded here, and kept a coil with
    "Too young" and "The next year" and "'Tis too early."
    Paroles An thy mind stand to't, boy, steal away bravely.
    630Bertram I shall stay here the forehorse to a smock,
    Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry
    Till honor be bought up and no sword worn
    But one to dance with. By heaven, I'll steal away!
    1 Lord
    There's honor in the theft.
    Commit it, count.
    2 Lord
    I am your accessory, and so farewell.
    I grow to you,
    And our parting is a tortured body.
    1 Lord
    Farewell, captain.
    2 Lord
    Sweet Monsieur Paroles.
    640Paroles [To the departing Lords] Noble heroes, my sword and yours are kin. Good sparks and lustrous, a word, good metals. You shall find in the regiment of the Spinii one Captain Spurio with his cicatrice, an emblem of war, here on his sinister cheek. It was this very sword entrenched it. [He indicates his weapon.] 645Say to him I live, and observe his reports for me.
    1 Lord We shall, noble captain.
    Paroles Mars dote on you for his novices!
    [Exeunt 1 Lord and 2 Lord.]
    [To Bertram]--What will ye do?
    Bertram Stay the king.
    650Paroles Use a more spacious ceremony to the noble lords: you have restrained yourself within the list of too cold an adieu. Be more expressive to them, for they wear themselves in the cap of the time; there do muster true gait; eat, speak, and move under the influence of 655the most received star; and, though the devil lead the measure, such are to be followed. After them, and take a more dilated farewell.
    Bertram And I will do so.
    Paroles Worthy fellows, and like to prove most 660sinewy swordsmen.
    Exeunt [Bertram and Paroles].
    Enter Lafeu
    Lafeu [Kneeling] Pardon, my lord, for me and for my tidings.
    King I'll fee thee to stand up.
    Lafeu [Stands]Then here's a man stands that has brought his pardon.
    665I would you had kneeled, my lord, to ask me mercy,
    And that at my bidding you could so stand up.
    King I would I had, so I had broke thy pate
    And asked thee mercy for't.
    Good faith, across!
    But, my good lord, 'tis 670thus:will you be cured
    Of your infirmity?
    Oh, will you eat
    No grapes, my royal fox? Yes, but you will
    My noble grapes, an if my royal fox
    Could reach them. I have seen a medicine
    675That's able to breathe life into a stone,
    Quicken a rock, and make you dance canary
    With sprightly fire and motion, whose simple touch
    Is powerful to a-raise King Pépin, nay,
    To give great Charlemagne a pen in 's hand
    680And write to her a love-line.
    What "her" is this?
    Lafeu Why, Doctor She! My lord, there's one arrived
    If you will see her. Now, by my faith and honor,
    If seriously I may convey my thoughts.
    685In this my light deliverance, I have spoke
    With one that, in her sex, her years, profession,
    Wisdom, and constancy, hath amazed me more
    Than I dare blame my weakness. Will you see her --
    For that is her demand -- and know her business?
    690That done, laugh well at me.
    Now, good Lafeu,
    Bring in the admiration, that we with thee
    May spend our wonder too, or take off thine
    By wondering how thou took'st it.
    Nay, I'll fit you,
    And not be all day neither.
    [Lafeu goes off briefly to usher in Helen]
    King [Aside] Thus he his special nothing ever prologues.
    Lafeu [To Helen, still offstage] Nay, come your ways.
    Enter Helen
    This haste hath wings indeed.
    Nay, come your ways,
    This is his majesty; say your mind to him.
    A traitor you do look like, but such traitors
    His majesty seldom fears. I am Cressid's uncle,
    705That dare leave two together. Fare you well.
    King Now, fair one, does your business follow us?
    Helen Ay, my good lord. Gérard de Narbonne was my father;
    In what he did profess, well found.
    I knew him.
    Helen The rather will I spare my praises towards him:
    Knowing him is enough. On's bed of death,
    Many receipts he gave me, chiefly one
    Which, as the dearest issue of his practice
    715And of his old experience th'only darling,
    He bade me store up as a triple eye
    Safer then mine own two; more dear I have so.
    And, hearing your high majesty is touched
    With that malignant cause wherein the honor
    720Of my dear father's gift stands chief in power,
    I come to tender it and my appliance
    With all bound humbleness.
    We thank you, maiden,
    But may not be so credulous of cure
    725When our most learnèd doctors leave us and
    The congregated college have concluded
    That laboring art can never ransom nature
    From her inaidable estate. I say we must not
    So stain our judgment or corrupt our hope
    730To prostitute our past-cure malady
    To empirics, or to dissever so
    Our great self and our credit to esteem
    A senseless help, when help past sense we deem.
    Helen My duty, then, shall pay me for my pains.
    735I will no more enforce mine office on you,
    Humbly entreating from your royal thoughts,
    A modest one to bear me back again.
    King I cannot give thee less, to be called grateful.
    Thou thoughtst to help me, and such thanks I give,
    740As one near death to those that wish him live.
    But what at full I know, thou knowst no part,
    I knowing all my peril, thou no art.
    Helen What I can do can do no hurt to try,
    Since you set up your rest 'gainst remedy.
    745He that of greatest works is finisher
    Oft does them by the weakest minister:
    So holy writ in babes hath judgment shown,
    When judges have been babes; great floods have flown
    From simple sources: and great seas have dried
    750When miracles have by the great'st been denied.
    Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
    Where most it promises, and oft it hits,
    Where hope is coldest and despair most shifts.
    King I must not hear thee. Fare thee well, kind maid.
    755Thy pains not used must by thyself be paid:
    Proffers not took reap thanks for their reward.
    Helen Inspirèd merit so by breath is barred.
    It is not so with him that all things knows
    As 'tis with us that square our guess by shows.
    760But most it is presumption in us when
    The help of heaven we count the act of men.
    Dear sir, to my endeavors give consent:
    Of heaven, not me, make an experiment.
    I am not an impostor that proclaim
    765Myself against the level of mine aim,
    But know I think, and think I know most sure,
    My art is not past power, nor you past cure.
    King Art thou so confident? Within what space
    Hop'st thou my cure?
    The greatest grace lending grace,
    Ere twice the horses of the sun shall bring
    Their fiery torcher his diurnal ring,
    Ere twice in murk and occidental damp
    Moist Hesperus hath quenched her sleepy lamp,
    775Or four and twenty times the pilot's glass
    Hath told the thievish minutes how they pass,
    What is infirm, from your sound parts shall fly,
    Health shall live free, and sickness freely die.
    King Upon thy certainty and confidence,
    780What dar'st thou venture?
    Tax of impudence,
    A strumpet's boldness, a divulgèd shame
    Traduced by odious ballads; my maiden's name
    Seared otherwise -- nay, worse of worst, extended
    785With vilest torture, let my life be ended.
    King Methinks in thee some blessèd spirit doth speak
    His powerful sound within an organ weak,
    And what impossibility would slay
    In commonsense, sense saves another way.
    790Thy life is dear, for all that life can rate
    Worth name of life in thee hath estimate:
    Youth, beauty, wisdom, courage, all
    That happiness and prime can happy call.
    Thou this to hazard needs must intimate
    795Skill infinite, or monstrous desperate.
    Sweet practicer, thy physic I will try,
    That ministers thine own death if I die.
    Helen If I break time, or flinch in property
    Of what I spoke, unpitied let me die,
    800And well deserved: not helping, death's my fee.
    But if I help, what do you promise me.
    Make thy demand.
    But will you make it even?
    King Ay, by my scepter and my hopes of help.
    805Helen Then shalt thou give me with thy kingly hand
    What husband in thy power I will command.
    Exempted be from me the arrogance
    To choose from forth the royal blood of France,
    My low and humble name to propagate
    810With any branch or image of thy state;
    But such a one, thy vassal, whom I know
    Is free for me to ask, thee to bestow.
    King Here is my hand; the premises observed,
    Thy will by my performance shall be served.
    815So make the choice of thy own time, for I,
    Thy resolvèd patient, on thee still rely.
    More should I question thee, and more I must --
    Though more to know could not be more to trust --
    From whence thou cam'st, how tended on; but rest,
    820Unquestioned welcome, and undoubted blessed. --
    [To Attendants] Give me some help here, ho!-- [To Helen] If thou proceed,
    As high as word, my deed shall match thy deed.
    Flourish. Exeunt.