Roussillon. The Count’s palace.
With much chaffing back and forth, the Countess sends the Clown to Paris with a message for Helena. (33 lines)
Enter Countess and Clown.
Come on, sir, I shall now put you to the height of your breeding.
I will show myself highly fed and lowly taught. I know my business is but to the court.
To the court! Why, what place make you special, when you put off that with such contempt? But to the court!
Truly, madam, if God have lent a man any manners, he may easily put it off at court. He that cannot make a leg, put off ’s cap, kiss his hand, and say nothing, has neither leg, hands, lip, nor cap; and indeed such a fellow, to say precisely, were not for the court; but for me, I have an answer will serve all men.
Marry, that’s a bountiful answer that fits all questions.
It is like a barber’s chair that fits all buttocks: the pin-buttock, the quatch-buttock, the brawn-buttock, or any buttock.
Will your answer serve fit to all questions?
As fit as ten groats is for the hand of an attorney, as your French crown for your taffety punk, as Tib’s rush for Tom’s forefinger, as a pancake for Shrove Tuesday, a morris for May-day, as the nail to his hole, the cuckold to his horn, as a scolding quean to a wrangling knave, as the nun’s lip to the friar’s mouth, nay, as the pudding to his skin.
Have you, I say, an answer of such fitness for all questions?
From below your duke to beneath your constable, it will fit any question.
It must be an answer of most monstrous size that must fit all demands.
But a trifle neither, in good faith, if the learned should speak truth of it. Here it is, and all that belongs to’t. Ask me if I am a courtier: it shall do you no harm to learn.
To be young again, if we could, I will be a fool in question, hoping to be the wiser by your answer. I pray you, sir, are you a courtier?
O Lord, sir!—There’s a simple putting off. More, more, a hundred of them.
Sir, I am a poor friend of yours that loves you.
O Lord, sir!—Thick, thick, spare not me.
I think, sir, you can eat none of this homely meat.
O Lord, sir!—Nay, put me to’t, I warrant you.
You were lately whipt, sir, as I think.
O Lord, sir!—Spare not me.
Do you cry, “O Lord, sir!” at your whipping, and “Spare not me”? Indeed your “O Lord, sir!” is very sequent to your whipping; you would answer very well to a whipping, if you were but bound to’t.
I ne’er had worse luck in my life in my “O Lord, sir!” I see things may serve long, but not serve ever.
I play the noble huswife with the time,
To entertain it so merrily with a fool.
O Lord, sir!—Why, there’t serves well again.
An end, sir; to your business: give Helen this,
And urge her to a present answer back.
Commend me to my kinsmen and my son.
This is not much.
Not much commendation to them.
Not much employment for you. You understand me?
Most fruitfully, I am there before my legs.
Haste you again.