All's Well That Ends Well is a play by William Shakespeare. Helena, the low-born ward of a Spanish countess, is in love with the countess' son Bertram, who is indifferent to her. Bertram goes to Paris to replace his late father as attendant to the ailing King of France. Helena, the daughter of a recently deceased doctor, follows Bertram, ostensibly to offer the King her services as a healer. The King is sceptical, and she guarantees the cure with her life: if he dies, she will be put to death, but if he lives, she may choose a husband from the court. The King is cured and Helena chooses Bertram, who rejects her, owing to her poverty and low status.
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Copyright © 2017 by William Shakespeare.
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations em- bodied in critical articles or reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organiza- tions, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Book and Cover design by Sheba Blake Publishing
First Edition: January 2017
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL 2
TABLE OF CONTENTS
KING OF FRANCE.
THE DUKE OF FLORENCE.
BERTRAM, Count of Rousillon.
LAFEU, an old Lord.
PAROLLES, a follower of Bertram.
Several young French Lords, that serve with Bertram in theFlorentine War.
Steward, Servant to the Countess of Rousillon.
Clown, Servant to the Countess of Rousillon.
A Page, Servant to the Countess of Rousillon.
COUNTESS OF ROUSILLON, Mother to Bertram.
HELENA, a Gentlewoman protected by the Countess.
An old Widow of Florence.
DIANA, daughter to the Widow.
VIOLENTA, neighbour and friend to the Widow.
MARIANA, neighbour and friend to the Widow.
Lords attending on the KING; Officers; Soldiers, &c., French and Florentine.
Rousillon. A room in the COUNTESS'S palace.
[Enter BERTRAM, the COUNTESS OF ROUSILLON, HELENA, and LAFEU, all in black.]
COUNTESS.In delivering my son from me, I bury a second husband.
BERTRAM.And I in going, madam, weep o'er my father's death anew;but I must attend his majesty's command, to whom I am now in ward, evermore in subjection.
LAFEU.You shall find of the king a husband, madam;--you, sir, a father: he that so generally is at all times good, must of necessity hold his virtue to you; whose worthiness would stir it up where it wanted, rather than lack it where there is such abundance.
COUNTESS.What hope is there of his majesty's amendment?
LAFEU.He hath abandoned his physicians, madam; under whose practices he hath persecuted time with hope; and finds no other advantage in the process but only the losing of hope by time.
COUNTESS.This young gentlewoman had a father--O, that 'had!' howsad a passage 'tis!--whose skill was almost as great as his honesty; had it stretched so far, would have made natureimmortal, and death should have play for lack of work. Would, for the king's sake, he were living! I think it would be the death of the king's disease.
LAFEU.How called you the man you speak of, madam?
COUNTESS.He was famous, sir, in his profession, and it was his great right to be so--Gerard de Narbon.
LAFEU.He was excellent indeed, madam; the king very lately spokeof him admiringly and mourningly; he was skilful enough to have liv'd still, if knowledge could be set up against mortality.
BERTRAM.What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of?
LAFEU.A fistula, my lord.
BERTRAM.I heard not of it before.
LAFEU.I would it were not notorious.--Was this gentlewoman thedaughter of Gerard de Narbon?
COUNTESS.His sole child, my lord, and bequeathed to my overlooking. I have those hopes of her good that her education promises; herdispositions she inherits, which makes fair gifts fairer; for where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities, therecommendations go with pity,--they are virtues and traitors too: in her they are the better for their simpleness; she derives her honesty, and achieves her goodness.
LAFEU.Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.
COUNTESS.'Tis the best brine a maiden can season her praise in. Theremembrance of her father never approaches her heart but the tyranny of her sorrows takes all livelihood from her cheek. No more of this, Helena,--go to, no more, lest it be rather thought you affect a sorrow than to have.
HELENA.I do affect a sorrow indeed; but I have it too.
LAFEU.Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead; excessive grief the enemy to the living.
COUNTESS.If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.
BERTRAM.Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
LAFEU.How understand we that?
COUNTESS.Be thou blest, Bertram, and succeed thy fatherIn manners, as in shape! thy blood and virtueContend for empire in thee, and thy goodnessShare with thy birthright! Love all, trust a few,Do wrong to none: be able for thine enemyRather in power than use; and keep thy friendUnder thy own life's key: be check'd for silence,But never tax'd for speech. What heaven more will,That thee may furnish and my prayers pluck down,Fall on thy head! Farewell.--My lord,'Tis an unseason'd courtier; good my lord,Advise him.
LAFEU.He cannot want the bestThat shall attend his love.
COUNTESS.Heaven bless him!--Farewell, Bertram.
BERTRAM.The best wishes that can be forg'd in your thoughts [To HELENA.] be servants to you! Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her.
LAFEU.Farewell, pretty lady: you must hold the credit of your father.
[Exeunt BERTRAM and LAFEU.]
HELENA.O, were that all!--I think not on my father;And these great tears grace his remembrance moreThan those I shed for him. What was he like?I have forgot him; my imaginationCarries no favour in't but Bertram's.I am undone: there is no living, none,If Bertram be away. It were all oneThat I should love a bright particular star,And think to wed it, he is so above me:In his bright radiance and collateral lightMust I be comforted, not in his sphere.The ambition in my love thus plagues itself:The hind that would be mated by the lionMust die for love. 'Twas pretty, though a plague,To see him every hour; to sit and drawHis arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls,In our heart's table,--heart too capableOf every line and trick of his sweet favour:But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancyMust sanctify his relics. Who comes here?One that goes with him: I love him for his sake;And yet I know him a notorious liar,Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;Yet these fix'd evils sit so fit in himThat they take place when virtue's steely bonesLooks bleak i' the cold wind: withal, full oft we seeCold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.
PAROLLES.Save you, fair queen!
HELENA.And you, monarch!
PAROLLES.Are you meditating on virginity?
HELENA.Ay. You have some stain of soldier in you: let me ask you a question. Man is enemy to virginity; how may we barricado it against him?
PAROLLES.Keep him out.
HELENA.But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant in thedefence, yet is weak: unfold to us some warlike resistance.
PAROLLES.There is none: man, setting down before you, will undermine you and blow you up.
HELENA.Bless our poor virginity from underminers and blowers-up!--Is there no military policy how virgins might blow up men?
PAROLLES.Virginity being blown down, man will quicklier be blown up: marry, in blowing him down again, with the breach yourselves made, you lose your city. It is not politic in the commonwealth of nature to preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational increase; and there was never virgin got till virginity was first lost. That you were made of is metal to make virgins. Virginity by being once lost may be ten times found; by being ever kept, it is ever lost: 'tis too cold a companion; away with it!
HELENA.I will stand for 't a little, though therefore I die a virgin.
PAROLLES.There's little can be said in't; 'tis against the rule ofnature. To speak on the part of virginity is to accuse your mothers; which is most infallible disobedience. He that hangs himself is a virgin: virginity murders itself; and should be buried in highways, out of all sanctified limit, as a desperate offendress against nature. Virginity breeds mites, much like a cheese; consumes itself to the very paring, and so dies with feeding his own stomach. Besides, virginity is peevish, proud, idle, made of self-love, which is the most inhibited sin in the canon. Keep it not; you cannot choose but lose by't: out with't! within ten years it will make itself ten, which is a goodly increase; and the principal itself not much the worse: away with it!
HELENA.How might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking?
PAROLLES.Let me see: marry, ill to like him that ne'er it likes. 'Tis a commodity will lose the gloss with lying; the longer kept, the less worth: off with't while 'tis vendible; answer the time of request. Virginity, like an old courtier, wears her cap out of fashion; richly suited, but unsuitable: just like the brooch and the toothpick, which wear not now. Your date is better in your pie and your porridge than in your cheek. And your virginity, your old virginity, is like one of our French withered pears; it looks ill, it eats drily; marry, 'tis a wither'd pear; it was formerly better; marry, yet 'tis a wither'd pear. Will youanything with it?
HELENA.Not my virginity yet.There shall your master have a thousand loves,A mother, and a mistress, and a friend,A phoenix, captain, and an enemy,A guide, a goddess, and a sovereign,A counsellor, a traitress, and a dear:His humble ambition, proud humility,His jarring concord, and his discord dulcet,His faith, his sweet disaster; with a worldOf pretty, fond, adoptious christendoms,That blinking Cupid gossips. Now shall he--I know not what he shall:--God send him well!--The court's a learning-place;--and he is one,--
PAROLLES.What one, i' faith?
HELENA.That I wish well.--'Tis pity--
HELENA.That wishing well had not a body in'tWhich might be felt; that we, the poorer born,Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes,Might with effects of them follow our friendsAnd show what we alone must think; which neverReturns us thanks.
[Enter a PAGE.]
PAGE.Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you.
PAROLLES.Little Helen, farewell: if I can remember thee, I willthink of thee at court.
HELENA.Monsieur Parolles, you were born under a charitable star.
PAROLLES.Under Mars, I.
HELENA.I especially think, under Mars.
PAROLLES.Why under Mars?
HELENA.The wars hath so kept you under that you must needs be born under Mars.
PAROLLES.When he was predominant.
HELENA.When he was retrograde, I think, rather.
PAROLLES.Why think you so?
HELENA.You go so much backward when you fight.
PAROLLES.That's for advantage.
HELENA.So is running away, when fear proposes the safety: but thecomposition that your valour and fear makes in you is a virtue of a good wing, and I like the wear well.
PAROLLES.I am so full of business I cannot answer thee acutely. Iwill return perfect courtier; in the which my instruction shall serve to naturalize thee, so thou wilt be capable of a courtier's counsel, and understand what advice shall thrust upon thee; else thou diest in thine unthankfulness, and thine ignorance makes thee away: farewell. When thou hast leisure, say thy prayers; when thou hast none, remember thy friends: get thee a goodhusband, and use him as he uses thee: so, farewell.
HELENA.Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,Which we ascribe to heaven: the fated skyGives us free scope; only doth backward pullOur slow designs when we ourselves are dull.What power is it which mounts my love so high,--That makes me see, and cannot feed mine eye?The mightiest space in fortune nature bringsTo join like likes, and kiss like native things.Impossible be strange attempts to thoseThat weigh their pains in sense, and do supposeWhat hath been cannot be: who ever stroveTo show her merit that did miss her love?The king's disease,--my project may deceive me,But my intents are fix'd, and will not leave me.
Paris. A room in the King's palace.
[Flourish of cornets. Enter the KING OF FRANCE, with letters; Lords and others attending.]
KING.The Florentines and Senoys are by the ears;Have fought with equal fortune, and continueA braving war.
FIRST LORD.So 'tis reported, sir.
KING.Nay, 'tis most credible; we here receive it,A certainty, vouch'd from our cousin Austria,With caution, that the Florentine will move usFor speedy aid; wherein our dearest friendPrejudicates the business, and would seemTo have us make denial.
FIRST LORD.His love and wisdom,Approv'd so to your majesty, may pleadFor amplest credence.
KING.He hath arm'd our answer,And Florence is denied before he comes:Yet, for our gentlemen that mean to seeThe Tuscan service, freely have they leaveTo stand on either part.
SECOND LORD.It well may serveA nursery to our gentry, who are sickFor breathing and exploit.
KING.What's he comes here?
[Enter BERTRAM, LAFEU, and PAROLLES.]
FIRST LORD.It is the Count Rousillon, my good lord,Young Bertram.
KING.Youth, thou bear'st thy father's face;Frank nature, rather curious than in haste,Hath well compos'd thee. Thy father's moral partsMayst thou inherit too! Welcome to Paris.
BERTRAM.My thanks and duty are your majesty's.
KING.I would I had that corporal soundness now,As when thy father and myself in friendshipFirst tried our soldiership! He did look farInto the service of the time, and wasDiscipled of the bravest: he lasted long;But on us both did haggish age steal on,And wore us out of act. It much repairs meTo talk of your good father. In his youthHe had the wit which I can well observeTo-day in our young lords; but they may jest
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