Internet Shakespeare Editions

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Not Peer Reviewed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.
[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.
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.
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.
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!
Most admirable! I have seen those wars.
I am commanded here, and kept a coil with
"Too young" and "The next year" and "'Tis too early."
An thy mind stand to't, boy, steal away bravely.
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.
Mars dote on you for his novices!
[Exeunt 1 Lord and 2 Lord.]
[To Bertram]--What will ye do?
Stay the king.
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.
And I will do so.
Worthy fellows, and like to prove most 660sinewy swordsmen.
Exeunt [Bertram and Paroles].
Enter Lafeu
[Kneeling] Pardon, my lord, for me and for my tidings.
I'll fee thee to stand up.
[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.
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?
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]
[Aside] Thus he his special nothing ever prologues.
[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.
Now, fair one, does your business follow us?
Ay, my good lord. Gérard de Narbonne was my father;
In what he did profess, well found.
I knew him.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Ay, by my scepter and my hopes of help.
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.
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.