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All's Well that Ends Well Scenes

Scene 3

Paris. The King’s palace.

(Bertram; Lafew; Parolles; King; Helen; Attendants; Lords)

The King is cured and Lafew, Bertram and Parolles comment wonderingly on the miracle of it. Fully restored, the King enters, accompanied by Helena. Much to their amazement, Bertram and Parolles learn that Helena is the wondrous physician. Claiming the King’s promise, Helena chooses Bertram as husband, but he disdains her as a “poor physician’s daughter.” The King insists that Bertram agree, pointing out that he can give Helena both title and estate. Bertram yields. Lafew now berates Parolles who is too cowardly to make even that old Lord retract his insult. Bertram and Helena are married, but Bertram resolves, despite his promise to the King, that he will not love Helena. He plots with Parolles to rather run away to the war and refuse to consummate the marriage. (234 lines)

Enter count Bertram, Lafew, and Parolles.


They say miracles are past, and we have our philosophical persons, to make modern and familiar, things 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 hath shot out in our latter times.


And so ’tis.


To be relinquish’d 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 help’d—


Right, as ’twere a man assur’d 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 ballad in Lafew’s hand.


Reading the title.

“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 recov’ry of the King, as to be—


Generally thankful.

Enter 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, he’s able to lead her a coranto.


Mort du vinaigre! Is not this Helen?


’Fore God, I think so.


Go call before me all the lords in court.

Sit, my preserver, by thy patient’s side,

And with this healthful hand, whose banish’d sense

Thou hast repeal’d, a second time receive

The confirmation of my promis’d gift,

Which but attends thy naming.

Enter three or four Lords.

Fair 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.



Heaven hath through me restor’d the King to health.


We understand it, and thank heaven for you.


I am a simple maid, and therein wealthiest

That I protest I simply am a maid.

Please it your Majesty, I have done already.

The blushes in my cheeks thus whisper me,

“We blush that thou shouldst choose; but be refused,

Let the white death sit on thy cheek forever,

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.

She addresses her to a Lord.

Sir, will you hear my suit?

1. 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 a Second Lord.

The honor, sir, that flames in your fair eyes,

Before I speak, too threat’ningly replies.

Love make your fortunes twenty times above

Her that so wishes, and her humble love!

2. LORD.

No better, if you please.


My wish receive,

Which great Love grant, and so I take my leave.


Do all they deny her? And they were sons of mine, I’d have them whipt, or I would send them to th’ Turk to make eunuchs of.


To a third 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

Find 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 a fourth Lord.

You are too young, too happy, and too good,

To make yourself a son out of my blood.

4. 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.—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 rais’d me from my sickly bed.


But follows it, my lord, to bring me down

Must 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

I can build up. Strange is it that our bloods,

Of color, weight, and heat, pour’d 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,

A poor physician’s daughter—thou dislik’st

Of virtue for the name. But do not so.

From lowest place when virtuous things proceed,

The place is dignified by th’ doer’s deed.

Where great additions swell ’s, and virtue none,

It 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;

And 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

Debosh’d on every tomb, on every grave

A lying trophy, and as oft is dumb

Where dust and damn’d oblivion is the tomb

Of honor’d bones indeed. What should be said?

If thou canst like this creature as a maid,

I 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 restor’d, my lord, I’m glad.

Let the rest go.


My honor’s at the stake, which to defeat,

I must produce my power. Here, take her hand,

Proud scornful boy, unworthy this good gift,

That 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

We 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,

Or 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

The 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

A 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,

And be perform’d 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.


Lafew and Parolles stay behind, commenting 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 thy 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 scarce 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 thee 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, deserv’d 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 at a smack a’ 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, and he were double and double a lord. I’ll have no more pity of his age than I would have of—I’ll beat him, and if I could but meet him again.

Enter Lafew.


Sirrah, your lord and master’s married, there’s news for you. You have a new mistress.


I most unfeignedly 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. Methink’st thou art a general offense, and every man should beat thee. I think thou wast created for men to breathe themselves upon thee.


This is hard and undeserv’d measure, my lord.


Go to, sir, you were beaten in Italy for picking a 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.


Enter Bertram, Count Roussillon.


Good, very good, it is so then. Good, very good, let it be conceal’d awhile.


Undone, and forfeited to cares forever!


What’s the matter, sweet heart?


Although before the solemn priest I have sworn,

I will not bed her.


What, what, sweet heart?


O my Parolles, they have married me!

I’ll to the Tuscan wars, and never bed her.


France is a dog-hole, and it no more merits

The tread of a man’s foot. To th’ wars!


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,

Which 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,

Acquaint 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

To 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.


Why, these balls bound, there’s noise in it. ’Tis hard!

A young man married is a man that’s marr’d;

Therefore away, and leave her bravely; go.

The King has done you wrong; but hush, ’tis so.



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