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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Bertram, Lafeu, and Paroles.
    They say miracles are past, and we have our philosophical persons to make modern and familiar 895things supernatural and causeless. Hence is it that we make trifles of terrors, ensconcing ourselves into seeming knowledge when we should submit ourselves to an unknown fear.
    Why, 'tis the rarest argument of wonder that 900hath shot out in our latter times.
    And so 'tis.
    To be relinquished of the artists --
    So I say, both of Galen and Paracelsus.
    Of all the learned and authentic fellows --
    Right, so I say.
    That gave him out incurable --
    Why, there 'tis; so say I too.
    Not to be helped.
    Right, as 'twere a man assured of a --
    Uncertain life, and sure death.
    Just. You say well; so would I have said.
    I may truly say it is a novelty to the world.
    It is indeed. If you will have it in showing, you shall read it in what-do-ye-call there.
    [Pointing to a paper in LAFEU's possession.]
    A Showing of a Heavenly Effect in an Earthly Actor.
    That's it; I would have said the very same.
    Why, your dolphin is not lustier. 'Fore me, I speak in respect --
    Nay, 'tis strange, 'tis very strange; that is the brief and the tedious of it. And he's of a most facinerious spirit that will not acknowledge it to be the --
    Very hand of heaven.
    Ay, so I say.
    In a most weak --
    And debile minister, great power, great transcendence, which should indeed give us a further use to be made than alone the recovery of the king, as to be --
    Generally thankful.
    930Enter King, Helen, and Attendants.
    I would have said it; you say well. -- Here comes the king.
    Lustig, as the Dutchman says! I'll like a maid the better whilst I have a tooth in my head. Why, 935he's able to lead her a coranto.
    Mort du vinaigre! Is not this Helen?
    'Fore God, I think so.
    [To Attendant] Go, call before me all the lords in court. --
    [Exit an Attendant.]
    [To Helen] Sit, my preserver, by thy patient's side,
    940And with this healthful hand, whose banished sense
    Thou hast repealed, a second time receive
    The confirmation of my promised gift,
    Which but attends thy naming.
    Enter four [young] Lords.
    945Fair maid, send forth thine eye; this youthful parcel
    Of noble bachelors stand at my bestowing,
    O'er whom both sovereign power and father's voice
    I have to use. Thy frank election make;
    Thou hast power to choose, and they none to forsake.
    To each of you, one fair and virtuous mistress
    Fall when love please; marry, to each but one.
    I'd give bay curtal and his furniture,
    My mouth no more were broken than these boys,
    And writ as little beard.
    Peruse them well:
    Not one of those but had a noble father.
    Gentlemen, heaven hath through me restored
    The king to health.
    We understand it, and thank heaven for you.
    She addresses her to a Lord.
    I am a simple maid, and therein wealthiest
    That I protest I simply am a maid. --
    [To the King] Please it your majesty, I have done already.
    The blushes in my cheeks thus whisper me,
    965"We blush that thou shouldst choose; but be refused,
    Let the white death sit on thy cheek for ever,
    We'll ne'er come there again."
    Make choice and see.
    Who shuns thy love shuns all his love in me.
    Now, Dian, from thy altar do I fly,
    And to Imperial Love, that god most high,
    Do my sighs stream. [To 1 Young Lord] Sir, will you hear my suit?
    1 Young Lord
    And grant it.
    Thanks, sir, all the rest is mute.
    I had rather be in this choice than throw ames-ace for my life.
    [To 2 Young Lord.]The honor, sir, that flames in your fair eyes,
    Before I speak, too threat'ningly replies.
    Love make your fortunes twenty times above
    980Her that so wishes, and her humble love.
    2 Young Lord
    No better, if you please.
    My wish receive,
    Which great love grant. And so I take my leave.
    Do all they deny her? An they were sons 985of mine, I'd have them whipped, or I would send them to th' Turk to make eunuchs of.
    [To 3 Young Lord] Be not afraid that I your hand should take:
    I'll never do you wrong for your own sake.
    Blessing upon your vows, and in your bed
    990Find fairer fortune if you ever wed.
    These boys are boys of ice, they'll none have her. Sure they are bastards to the English: the French ne'er got 'em.
    [To 4 Young Lord] You are too young, too happy, and too good
    995To make yourself a son out of my blood.
    4 Young Lord
    Fair one, I think not so.
    There's one grape yet; I am sure thy father drunk wine. But if thou be'st not an ass, I am a youth of fourteen: I have known thee already.
    [To Bertram] I dare not say I take you, but I give
    Me and my service, ever whilst I live,
    Into your guiding power. -- [To the King] This is the man.
    Why, then, young Bertram, take her: she's thy wife.
    My wife, my liege? I shall beseech your highness:
    In such a business, give me leave to use
    The help of mine own eyes.
    Know'st thou not, Bertram,
    What she has done for me?
    Yes, my good lord,
    But never hope to know why I should marry her.
    Thou know'st she has raised me from my sickly bed.
    But follows it, my lord, to bring me down
    1015Must answer for your raising? I know her well:
    She had her breeding at my father's charge --
    A poor physician's daughter my wife? Disdain
    Rather corrupt me ever!
    'Tis only title thou disdain'st in her, the which
    1020I can build up. Strange is it that our bloods,
    Of color, weight, and heat, poured all together,
    Would quite confound distinction, yet stands off
    In differences so mighty. If she be
    All that is virtuous -- save what thou dislik'st,
    1025"A poor physician's daughter" -- thou dislik'st
    Of virtue for the name. But do not so.
    From lowest place, whence virtuous things proceed,
    The place is dignified by th' doer's deed.
    Where great additions swell's, and virtue none,
    1030It is a dropsied honor. Good alone
    Is good without a name! Vileness is so.
    The property by what it is should go,
    Not by the title. She is young, wise, fair:
    In these to nature she's immediate heir,
    1035And these breed honor. That is honor's scorn
    Which challenges itself as honor's born
    And is not like the sire. Honors thrive
    When rather from our acts we them derive
    Than our foregoers. The mere word's a slave,
    1040Debauched on every tomb: on every grave,
    A lying trophy, and as oft is dumb
    Where dust and damned oblivion is the tomb
    Of honored bones indeed. What should be said?
    If thou canst like this creature as a maid,
    1045I can create the rest: virtue and she
    Is her own dower; honor and wealth, from me.
    I cannot love her, nor will strive to do't.
    Thou wrong'st thyself if thou shouldst strive to choose.
    That you are well restored, my lord, I'm glad;
    Let the rest go.
    My honor's at the stake, which to defeat
    I must produce my power. -- [To Bertram] Here, take her hand.
    Proud scornful boy, unworthy this good gift,
    1055That dost in vile misprision shackle up
    My love and her desert; that canst not dream
    We, poising us in her defective scale,
    Shall weigh thee to the beam; that wilt not know
    It is in us to plant thine honor where
    1060We please to have it grow. Check thy contempt.
    Obey our will which travails in thy good.
    Believe not thy disdain, but presently
    Do thine own fortunes that obedient right,
    Which both thy duty owes and our power claims,
    1065Or I will throw thee from my care forever
    Into the staggers and the careless lapse
    Of youth and ignorance, both my revenge and hate,
    Loosing upon thee in the name of justice,
    Without all terms of pity. Speak, thine answer.
    Pardon, my gracious lord, for I submit
    My fancy to your eyes. When I consider
    What great creation and what dole of honor
    Flies where you bid it, I find that she, which late
    Was in my nobler thoughts most base, is now
    1075The praised of the king; who so ennobled
    Is as 'twere born so.
    Take her by the hand
    And tell her she is thine, to whom I promise
    A counterpoise; if not to thy estate,
    1080A balance more replete.
    I take her hand.
    Good fortune and the favor of the king
    Smile upon this contract, whose ceremony
    Shall seem expedient on the now-born brief
    1085And be performed tonight; the solemn feast
    Shall more attend upon the coming space,
    Expecting absent friends. As thou lov'st her,
    Thy love's to me religious; else, does err.
    Exeunt [King, Helen, and court.]
    Paroles and Lafeu stay behind, 1090commenting of this wedding.
    Do you hear, monsieur? A word with you.
    Your pleasure, sir.
    Your lord and master did well to make his recantation.
    Recantation? My lord? My master?
    Ay; is it not a language I speak?
    A most harsh one, and not to be understood without bloody succeeding. My master?
    Are you companion to the Count Roussillon?
    To any count, to all counts: to what is man.
    To what is count's man. Count's master is of another style.
    You are too old, sir. Let it satisfy you, you are too old.
    I must tell thee, sirrah, I write man -- to which title age cannot bring thee.
    What I dare too well do, I dare not do.
    I did think thee, for two ordinaries, to be a pretty wise fellow; thou didst make tolerable vent of 1110thy travel, it might pass. Yet the scarfs and the bannerets about thee did manifoldly dissuade me from believing thee a vessel of too great a burden. I have now found thee; when I lose thee again, I care not. Yet art thou good for nothing but taking up, and that thou'rt 1115scarce worth.
    Hadst thou not the privilege of antiquity upon thee --
    Do not plunge thyself too far in anger, lest thou hasten thy trial; which if -- Lord have mercy on 1120thee for a hen! So, my good window of lattice, fare thee well. Thy casement I need not open, for I look through thee. Give me thy hand.
    My lord, you give me most egregious indignity.
    Ay, with all my heart, and thou art worthy of it.
    I have not, my lord, deserved it.
    Yes, good faith, ev'ry dram of it, and I will not bate thee a scruple.
    Well, I shall be wiser.
    Ev'n as soon as thou canst, for thou hast to pull 1130at a smack o' th' contrary. If ever thou be'st bound in thy scarf and beaten, thou shall find what it is to be proud of thy bondage. I have a desire to hold my acquaintance with thee, or rather my knowledge, that I may say in the default, 'He is a man I know.'
    My lord, you do me most insupportable vexation.
    I would it were hell-pains for thy sake and my poor doing eternal; for doing I am past, as I will by thee in what motion age will give me leave.
    Well, thou hast a son shall take this disgrace off me -- scurvy, old, filthy, scurvy lord! Well, I must be patient: there is no fettering of authority. I'll beat him, by my life, if I can meet him with any convenience, an he were double and double a lord. I'll have 1145no more pity of his age than I would have of -- I'll beat him, an if I could but meet him again.
    Enter Lafeu.
    Sirrah, your lord and master's married. There's news for you. You have a new mistress.
    I most unfainedly beseech your lordship to make some reservation of your wrongs. He is my good lord; whom I serve above is my master.
    Who? God.
    Ay, sir.
    The devil it is, that's thy master. Why dost thou garter up thy arms a' this fashion? Dost make hose of thy sleeves? Do other servants so? Thou wert best set thy lower part where thy nose stands. By mine honor, if I were but two hours younger I'd beat thee. 1160Methink'st thou art a general offence, and every man should beat thee. I think thou wast created for men to breathe themselves upon thee.
    This is hard and undeserved measure, my lord.
    Go to, sir. You were beaten in Italy for picking 1165a kernel out of a pomegranate. You are a vagabond and no true traveler. You are more saucy with lords and honorable personages than the commission of your birth and virtue gives you heraldry. You are not worth another word, else I'd call you knave. I leave you.
    Good, very good, it is so then. Good, very good, let it be concealed awhile.
    Enter [Bertram,] Count Roussillon.
    Undone, and forfeited to cares forever!
    What's the matter, sweetheart?
    Although before the solemn priest I have sworn,
    I will not bed her.
    What? What, sweetheart?
    Oh, my Paroles, they have married me.
    1180I'll to the Tuscan war, and never bed her.
    France is a doghole, and it no more merits
    The tread of a man's foot. To th'war!
    There's letters from my mother; what th'import is,
    I know not yet.
    Ay, that would be known.
    To th'wars, my boy, to th'wars!
    He wears his honor in a box unseen
    That hugs his kicky-wicky here at home,
    Spending his manly marrow in her arms
    1190Which should sustain the bound and high curvet
    Of Mars's fiery steed. To other regions!
    France is a stable, we that dwell in't, jades;
    Therefore, to th'war.
    It shall be so. I'll send her to my house,
    1195Acquaint my mother with my hate to her
    And wherefore I am fled, write to the king
    That which I durst not speak. His present gift
    Shall furnish me to those Italian fields
    Where noble fellows strike. Wars is no strife
    1200To the dark house and the detested wife.
    Will this capriccio hold in thee, art sure?
    Go with me to my chamber and advise me.
    I'll send her straight away. Tomorrow,
    I'll to the wars, she to her single sorrow.
    [Exit Bertram(?)]
    Why, these balls bound, there's noise in it! 'Tis hard,
    A young man married is a man that's marred.
    Therefore, away, and leave her bravely, go:
    The king has done you wrong, but hush 'tis so.