Enter the two French Lords, and two or three soldiers
You have not given him his mother's letter?
I have delivered it an hour since. There is
something in't that stings his nature, for on the reading
it he changed almost into another man.
He has much worthy blame laid upon him
for shaking off so good a wife and so sweet a lady.
Especially he hath incurred the everlasting
displeasure of the King, who had even tuned his
bounty to sing happiness to him. I will tell you a thing,
but you shall let it dwell darkly with you.
When you have spoken it 'tis dead, and I am
the grave of it.
He hath perverted a young gentlewoman
here in Florence, of a most chaste renown, and this
night he fleshes his will in the spoil of her honour. He
flesh (v.) 4
[give a piece of the kill to a hound to stimulate its desire to hunt further] reward, stimulate, excite
spoil (n.) 4
[hunting] piece of the kill [given to a hound to stimulate its desire to hunt further]
hath given her his monumental ring, and thinks himself
made in the unchaste composition.
Now, God delay our rebellion! As we are
ourselves, what things are we!
Merely our own traitors. And as in the
common course of all treasons we still see them reveal
themselves till they attain to their abhorred ends, so he
that in this action contrives against his own nobility, in
his proper stream o'erflows himself.
Is it not meant damnable in us to be
deserving damnation, evil, in a state of mortal sin
trumpeters of our unlawful intents? We shall not then
have his company tonight?
Not till after midnight, for he is dieted to
That approaches apace. I would gladly have
him see his company anatomized, that he might take a
measure of his own judgements wherein so curiously he
had set this counterfeit.
We will not meddle with him till he come,
for his presence must be the whip of the other.
In the meantime, what hear you of these
I hear there is an overture of peace.
Nay, I assure you, a peace concluded.
What will Count Rossillion do then? Will
he travel higher, or return again into France?
I perceive by this demand you are not
altogether of his council.
Let it be forbid, sir; so should I be a great
deal of his act.
Sir, his wife some two months since fled
from his house. Her pretence is a pilgrimage to Saint
Jaques le Grand; which holy undertaking with most
austere sanctimony she accomplished; and there residing,
the tenderness of her nature became as a prey to her
grief; in fine, made a groan of her last breath, and now
she sings in heaven.
How is this justified?
The stronger part of it by her own letters,
which makes her story true even to the point of her
death. Her death itself, which could not be her office to
say is come, was faithfully confirmed by the rector of
Hath the Count all this intelligence?
Ay, and the particular confirmations, point
from point, to the full arming of the verity.
establishment, confirmation, substantiation
I am heartily sorry that he'll be glad of
How mightily sometimes we make us comforts
of our losses!
And how mightily some other times we
drown our gain in tears! The great dignity that his
valour hath here acquired for him shall at home be
encountered with a shame as ample.
The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good
and ill together. Our virtues would be proud if our faults
whipped them not, and our crimes would despair if they
were not cherished by our virtues.
Enter a Messenger
How now? Where's your master?
He met the Duke in the street, sir, of whom
he hath taken a solemn leave: his lordship will next
morning for France. The Duke hath offered him letters
of commendations to the King.
They shall be no more than needful there,
if they were more than they can commend.
They cannot be too sweet for the King's
tartness. Here's his lordship now. How now, my lord?
Is't not after midnight?
I have tonight dispatched sixteen businesses a
month's length apiece, By an abstract of success: I have
congied with the Duke, done my adieu with his nearest,
buried a wife, mourned for her, writ to my lady mother
I am returning, entertained my convoy, and between
these main parcels of dispatch effected many nicer
needs; the last was the greatest, but that I have not ended
If the business be of any difficulty, and
this morning your departure hence, it requires haste of
I mean, the business is not ended, as fearing to
hear of it hereafter. But shall we have this dialogue
between the Fool and the Soldier? Come, bring forth
this counterfeit module he has deceived me like a
Bring him forth.
Exeunt the Soldiers
Has sat i'th' stocks all night, poor gallant knave.
No matter. His heels have deserved it in usurping
his spurs so long. How does he carry himself?
I have told your lordship already: the
stocks carry him. But to answer you as you would be
understood, he weeps like a wench that had shed her
milk. He hath confessed himself to Morgan, whom he
supposes to be a friar, from the time of his remembrance
to this very instant disaster of his setting i'th' stocks.
And what think you he hath confessed?
Nothing of me, has 'a?
His confession is taken, and it shall be
read to his face; if your lordship be in't, as I believe you
are, you must have the patience to hear it.
Enter Parolles guarded, and the First Soldier as his
A plague upon him! Muffled! He can say
nothing of me.
(aside to Bertram)
Hush, hush! Hoodman
comes. (Aloud) Portotartarossa.
He calls for the tortures. What will you
say without 'em?
I will confess what I know without constraint.
If ye pinch me like a pasty I can say no more.
You are a merciful general. Our General
bids you answer to what I shall ask you out of a note.
And truly, as I hope to live.
First demand of him how many
horse the Duke is strong. What say you to that?
Five or six thousand, but very weak and
unserviceable. The troops are all scattered and the
commanders very poor rogues, upon my reputation and
credit, and as I hope to live.
Shall I set down your answer so?
Do. I'll take the sacrament on't, how and
which way you will.
All's one to him. What a past-saving slave is
Y'are deceived, my lord; this is Monsieur
Parolles, the gallant militarist – that was his own phrase
– that had the whole theoric of war in the knot of his
scarf, and the practice in the chape of his dagger.
metal plate on the sheath of a weapon, especially one covering rhe dagger-point
See Topics: Weapons
I will never trust a man again for keeping
his sword clean, nor believe he can have everything in
him by wearing his apparel neatly.
Well, that's set down.
‘ Five or six thousand horse ’ I said – I will say
true – ‘ or thereabouts ’ set down, for I'll speak truth.
He's very near the truth in this.
But I con him no thanks for't, in the nature he
‘ Poor rogues ’ I pray you say.
Well, that's set down.
I humbly thank you, sir. A truth's a truth, the
rogues are marvellous poor.
Demand of him of what strength
they are a-foot. What say you to that?
By my troth, sir, if I were to live this present
hour, I will tell true. Let me see: Spurio, a hundred and
fifty; Sebastian, so many; Corambus, so many; Jaques,
so many; Guiltian, Cosmo, Lodowick, and Gratii, two
hundred fifty each; mine own company, Chitopher,
Vaumond, Bentii, two hundred fifty each; so that the
muster-file, rotten and sound, upon my life, amounts
not to fifteen thousand poll; half of the which dare not
shake the snow from off their cassocks lest they shake
themselves to pieces.
What shall be done to him?
Nothing but let him have thanks. Demand
of him my condition, and what credit I have with the
Well, that's set down. (reading) You
shall demand of him whether one Captain Dumaine be
i'th' camp, a Frenchman; what his reputation is with the
Duke, what his valour, honesty, and expertness in wars;
or whether he thinks it were not possible with well-weighing
sums of gold to corrupt him to a revolt. What say you to
this? What do you know of it?
I beseech you, let me answer to the particular
of the inter'gatories. Demand them singly.
Do you know this Captain Dumaine?
I know him: 'a was a botcher's prentice in
mender of old clothes, tailor who does repairs, patcher-up
Paris, from whence he was whipped for getting the
shrieve's fool with child, a dumb innocent that could not
say him nay.
Nay, by your leave, hold your hands – though
I know his brains are forfeit to the next tile that falls.
Well, is this captain in the Duke of
Upon my knowledge he is, and lousy.
Nay, look not so upon me; we shall hear of
your lordship anon.
What is his reputation with the Duke?
The Duke knows him for no other but a poor
officer of mine, and writ to me this other day to turn
him out o'th' band. I think I have his letter in my pocket.
Marry, we'll search.
In good sadness, I do not know; either it is
there or it is upon a file with the Duke's other letters in
Here 'tis; here's a paper. Shall I read it
I do not know if it be it or no.
Our interpreter does it well.
Dian, the Count's a fool, and full of gold.
That is not the Duke's letter, sir; that is an
advertisement to a proper maid in Florence, one Diana,
to take heed of the allurement of one Count Rossillion, a
foolish idle boy, but for all that very ruttish. I pray you,
sir, put it up again.
Nay, I'll read it first by your favour.
My meaning in't, I protest, was very honest in
the behalf of the maid; for I knew the young Count to
be a dangerous and lascivious boy, who is a whale to
virginity, and devours up all the fry it finds.
Damnable both-sides rogue!
When he swears oaths, bid him drop gold, and take it;
After he scores he never pays the score.
Half-won is match well made; match, and well make it.
He ne'er pays after-debts, take it before.
unpaid bill after goods have been received, outstanding debt
And say a soldier, Dian, told thee this:
Men are to mell with, boys are not to kiss;
For count of this, the Count's a fool, I know it,
Who pays before, but not when he does owe it.
Thine, as he vowed to thee in thine ear,
He shall be whipped through the army, with
this rhyme in's forehead.
This is your devoted friend, sir, the
manifold linguist, and the armipotent soldier.
I could endure anything before but a cat, and
now he's a cat to me.
I perceive, sir, by the General's looks,
we shall be fain to hang you.
My life, sir, in any case! Not that I am afraid
to die, but that, my offences being many, I would
repent out the remainder of nature. Let me live, sir, in a
dungeon, i'th' stocks, or anywhere, so I may live.
We'll see what may be done, so you
confess freely. Therefore once more to this Captain
Dumaine: you have answered to his reputation with
the Duke and to his valour; what is his honesty?
He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister. For
rapes and ravishments he parallels Nessus. He professes
not keeping of oaths; in breaking 'em he is stronger than
Hercules. He will lie, sir, with such volubility that you
would think truth were a fool. Drunkenness is his best
virtue, for he will be swine-drunk, and in his sleep he
does little harm, save to his bedclothes about him; but
they know his conditions and lay him in straw. I have
but little more to say, sir, of his honesty: he has everything
that an honest man should not have; what an
honest man should have, he has nothing.
I begin to love him for this.
For this description of thine honesty? A pox
upon him! For me, he's more and more a cat.
What say you to his expertness in war?
Faith, sir, has led the drum before the English
tragedians – to belie him I will not – and more of his
soldiership I know not, except in that country he had
the honour to be the officer at a place there called Mile-end,
to instruct for the doubling of files. I would do the
man what honour I can, but of this I am not certain.
He hath out-villained villainy so far that the
rarity redeems him.
A pox on him! He's a cat still.
His qualities being at this poor price, I
need not to ask you if gold will corrupt him to revolt.
Sir, for a cardecue he will sell the fee-simple
of his salvation, the inheritance of it, and cut th' entail
provision that an estate should pass to an heir
from all remainders, and a perpetual succession for it
What's his brother, the other Captain
Why does he ask him of me?
E'en a crow o'th' same nest; not altogether so
great as the first in goodness, but greater a great deal in
evil. He excels his brother for a coward, yet his brother
is reputed one of the best that is. In a retreat he outruns
any lackey; marry, in coming on he has the cramp.
If your life be saved will you undertake
to betray the Florentine?
Ay, and the captain of his horse, Count
I'll whisper with the General and know
I'll no more drumming. A plague of all
drums! Only to seem to deserve well, and to beguile the
supposition of that lascivious young boy, the Count,
have I run into this danger. Yet who would have
suspected an ambush where I was taken?
There is no remedy, sir, but you must
die. The General says you that have so traitorously
discovered the secrets of your army, and made such
pestiferous reports of men very nobly held, can serve
the world for no honest use; therefore you must die
Come, headsman, off with his head.
O Lord, sir, let me live, or let me see my death!
That shall you, and take your leave of all
He removes the blindfold
So: look about you. Know you any here?
Good morrow, noble captain.
God bless you, Captain Parolles.
God save you, noble captain.
Captain, what greeting will you to my
Lord Lafew? I am for France.
Good captain, will you give me a copy of the
sonnet you writ to Diana in behalf of the Count
Rossillion? An I were not a very coward I'd compel it of
you; but fare you well.
Exeunt Bertram and the Lords
You are undone, captain – all but your
scarf; that has a knot on't yet.
Who cannot be crushed with a plot?
If you could find out a country where
but women were that had received so much shame you
might begin an impudent nation. Fare ye well, sir. I am
for France too; we shall speak of you there.
Exeunt the Soldiers
Yet am I thankful. If my heart were great
'Twould burst at this. Captain I'll be no more,
But I will eat and drink and sleep as soft
As captain shall. Simply the thing I am
[contemptuous] being, creature, base thing
Shall make me live. Who knows himself a braggart,
Let him fear this; for it will come to pass
That every braggart shall be found an ass.
Rust, sword; cool, blushes; and Parolles live
Safest in shame; being fooled, by foolery thrive.
There's place and means for every man alive.
I'll after them.