All's Well That Ends Well

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Original text
Act V, Scene I
Enter Hellen, Widdow, and Diana, with two
Attendants.

Hel.
But this exceeding posting day and night,
Must wear your spirits low, we cannot helpe it:
But since you haue made the daies and nights as one,
To weare your gentle limbes in my affayres,
Be bold you do so grow in my requitall,
As nothing can vnroote you.
Enter a gentle Astringer.
In happie time,
This man may helpe me to his Maiesties eare,
If he would spend his power. God saue you sir.

Gent.
And you.

Hel.
Sir, I haue seene you in the Court of France.

Gent
I haue beene sometimes there.

Hel.
I do presume sir, that you are not falne
From the report that goes vpon your goodnesse,
And therefore goaded with most sharpe occasions,
Which lay nice manners by, I put you to
The vse of your owne vertues, for the which
I shall continue thankefull.

Gent.
What's your will?

Hel.
That it will please you
To giue this poore petition to the King,
And ayde me with that store of power you haue
To come into his presence.

Gen.
The Kings not heere.

Hel.
Not heere sir?

Gen.
Not indeed,
He hence remou'd last night, and with more hast
Then is his vse.

Wid.
Lord how we loose our paines.

Hel.
All's well that ends well yet,
Though time seeme so aduerse, and meanes vnfit:
I do beseech you, whither is he gone?

Gent.
Marrie as I take it to Rossillion
Whither I am going.

Hel.
I do beseech you sir,
Since you are like to see the King before me,
Commend the paper to his gracious hand,
Which I presume shall render you no blame,
But rather make you thanke your paines for it,
I will come after you with what good speede
Our meanes will make vs meanes.

Gent.
This Ile do for you.

Hel.
And you shall finde your selfe to be well thankt
what e're falles more. We must to horse againe,
Go, go, prouide.
Original text
Act V, Scene II
Enter Clowne and Parrolles.

Par.
Good Mr Lauatch giue my Lord Lafew
this letter, I haue ere now sir beene better knowne to
you, when I haue held familiaritie with fresher cloathes:
but I am now sir muddied in fortunes mood, and
smell somewhat strong of her strong displeasure.

Clo.
Truely, Fortunes displeasure is but sluttish if it
smell so strongly as thou speak'st of: I will hencefoorth
eate no Fish of Fortunes butt'ring. Prethee alow the
winde.

Par.
Nay you neede not to stop your nose sir: I
spake but by a Metaphor.

Clo.
Indeed sir, if your Metaphor stinke, I will stop my
nose, or against any mans Metaphor. Prethe get thee
further.

Par.
Pray you sir deliuer me this paper.

Clo.
Foh, prethee stand away: a paper from fortunes
close-stoole, to giue to a Nobleman. Looke heere he comes
himselfe.
Enter Lafew.
Heere is a purre of Fortunes sir, or of Fortunes Cat, but
not a Muscat, that ha's falne into the vncleane fish-pond
of her displeasure, and as he sayes is muddied withall.
Pray you sir, vse the Carpe as you may, for he lookes like a
poore decayed, ingenious, foolish, rascally knaue. I doe
pittie his distresse in my smiles of comfort, and leaue him
to your Lordship.

Par.
My Lord I am a man whom fortune hath
cruelly scratch'd.

Laf.
And what would you haue me to doe? 'Tis too late
to paire her nailes now. Wherein haue you played the
knaue with fortune that she should scratch you, who of
her selfe is a good Lady, and would not haue knaues thriue
long vnder? There's a Cardecue for you: Let the
Iustices make you and fortune friends; I am for other
businesse.

Par.
I beseech your honour to heare mee one single
word.

Laf.
you begge a single peny more: Come you shall
ha't, saue your word.

Par.
My name my good Lord is Parrolles.

Laf.
You begge more then word then. Cox my passion,
giue me your hand: How does your drumme?

Par.
O my good Lord, you were the first that found
mee.

Laf.
Was I insooth? And I was the first that lost thee.

Par.
It lies in you my Lord to bring me in some
grace for you did bring me out.

Laf.
Out vpon thee knaue, doest thou put vpon mee at
once both the office of God and the diuel: one brings
thee in grace, and the other brings thee out.
The Kings comming I know by his Trumpets. Sirrah,
inquire further after me, I had talke of you last night,
though you are a foole and a knaue, you shall eate, go too,
follow.

Par.
I praise God for you.
Original text
Act V, Scene III
Flourish. Enter King, old Lady, Lafew, the two
French Lords, with attendants.

Kin.
We lost a Iewell of her, and our esteeme
Was made much poorer by it: but your sonne,
As mad in folly, lack'd the sence to know
Her estimation home.

Old La.
'Tis past my Liege,
And I beseech your Maiestie to make it
Naturall rebellion, done i'th blade of youth,
When oyle and fire, too strong for reasons force,
Ore-beares it, and burnes on.

Kin.
My honour'd Lady,
I haue forgiuen and forgotten all,
Though my reuenges were high bent vpon him,
And watch'd the time to shoote.

Laf.
This I must say,
But first I begge my pardon: the yong Lord
Did to his Maiesty, his Mother, and his Ladie,
Offence of mighty note; but to himselfe
The greatest wrong of all. He lost a wife,
Whose beauty did astonish the suruey
Of richest eies: whose words all eares tooke captiue,
Whose deere perfection, hearts that scorn'd to serue,
Humbly call'd Mistris.

Kin.
Praising what is lost,
Makes the remembrance deere. Well, call him hither,
We are reconcil'd, and the first view shall kill
All repetition: Let him not aske our pardon,
The nature of his great offence is dead,
And deeper then obliuion, we do burie
Th' incensing reliques of it. Let him approach
A stranger, no offender; and informe him
So 'tis our will he should.

Gent.
I shall my Liege.

Kin.
What sayes he to your daughter, / Haue you spoke?

Laf.
All that he is, hath reference to your Highnes.

Kin.
Then shall we haue a match. I haue letters sent me,
that sets him high in fame.
Enter Count Bertram.

Laf.
He lookes well on't.

Kin.
I am not a day of season,
For thou maist see a sun-shine, and a haile
In me at once: But to the brightest beames
Distracted clouds giue way, so stand thou forth,
The time is faire againe.

Ber.
My high repented blames
Deere Soueraigne pardon to me.

Kin.
All is whole,
Not one word more of the consumed time,
Let's take the instant by the forward top:
For we are old, and on our quick'st decrees
Th'inaudible, and noiselesse foot of time
Steales, ere we can effect them. You remember
The daughter of this Lord?

Ber.
Admiringly my Liege, at first
I stucke my choice vpon her, ere my heart
Durst make too bold a herauld of my tongue:
Where the impression of mine eye enfixing,
Contempt his scornfull Perspectiue did lend me,
Which warpt the line, of euerie other fauour,
Scorn'd a faire colour, or exprest it stolne,
Extended or contracted all proportions
To a most hideous obiect. Thence it came,
That she whom all men prais'd, and whom my selfe,
Since I haue lost, haue lou'd; was in mine eye
The dust that did offend it.

Kin.
Well excus'd:
That thou didst loue her, strikes some scores away
From the great compt: but loue that comes too late,
Like a remorsefull pardon slowly carried
To the great sender, turnes a sowre offence,
Crying, that's good that's gone: Our rash faults,
Make triuiall price of serious things we haue,
Not knowing them, vntill we know their graue.
Oft our displeasures to our selues vniust,
Destroy our friends, and after weepe their dust:
Our owne loue waking, cries to see what's don,e
While shamefull hate sleepes out the afternoone.
Be this sweet Helens knell, and now forget her.
Send forth your amorous token for faire Maudlin,
The maine consents are had, and heere wee'l stay
To see our widdowers second marriage day:
Which better then the first, O deere heauen blesse,
Or, ere they meete in me, O Nature cesse.

Laf.
Come on my sonne, in whom my houses name
Must be digested: giue a fauour from you
To sparkle in the spirits of my daughter,
That she may quickly come.
By my old beard,
And eu'rie haire that's on't, Helen that's dead
Was a sweet creature: such a ring as this,
The last that ere I tooke her leaue at Court,
I saw vpon her finger.

Ber.
Hers it was not.

King
Now pray you let me see it. For mine eye,
While I was speaking, oft was fasten'd too't:
This Ring was mine, and when I gaue it Hellen,
I bad her if her fortunes euer stoode
Necessitied to helpe, that by this token
I would releeue her. Had you that craft to reaue her
Of what should stead her most?

Ber.
My gracious Soueraigne,
How ere it pleases you to take it so,
The ring was neuer hers.

Old La.
Sonne, on my life
I haue seene her weare it, and she reckon'd it
At her liues rate.

Laf.
I am sure I saw her weare it.

Ber
You are deceiu'd my Lord, she neuer saw it:
In Florence was it from a casement throwne mee,
Wrap'd in a paper, which contain'd the name
Of her that threw it: Noble she was, and thought
I stood ingag'd, but when I had subscrib'd
To mine owne fortune, and inform'd her fully,
I could not answer in that course of Honour
As she had made the ouerture, she ceast
In heauie satisfaction, and would neuer
Receiue the Ring againe.

Kin.
Platus himselfe,
That knowes the tinct and multiplying med'cine,
Hath not in natures mysterie more science,
Then I haue in this Ring. 'Twas mine, 'twas Helens,
Who euer gaue it you: then if you know
That you are well acquainted with your selfe,
Confesse 'twas hers, and by what rough enforcement
You got it from her. She call'd the Saints to suretie,
That she would neuer put it from her finger,
Vnlesse she gaue it to your selfe in bed,
Where you haue neuer come: or sent it vs
Vpon her great disaster.

Ber.
She neuer saw it.

Kin.
Thou speak'st it falsely: as I loue mine Honor,
And mak'st connecturall feares to come into me,
Which I would faine shut out, if it should proue
That thou art so inhumane, 'twill not proue so:
And yet I know not, thou didst hate her deadly,
And she is dead, which nothing but to close
Her eyes my selfe, could win me to beleeue,
More then to see this Ring. Take him away,
My fore-past proofes, how ere the matter fall
Shall taze my feares of little vanitie,
Hauing vainly fear'd too little. Away with him,
Wee'l sift this matter further.

Ber.
If you shall proue
This Ring was euer hers, you shall as easie
Proue that I husbanded her bed in Florence,
Where yet she neuer was.

King.
I am wrap'd in dismall thinkings.
Enter a Gentleman.

Gen.
Gracious Soueraigne.
Whether I haue beene too blame or no, I know not,
Here's a petition from a Florentine,
Who hath for foure or fiue remoues come short,
To tender it her selfe. I vndertooke it,
Vanquish'd thereto by the faire grace and speech
Of the poore suppliant, who by this I know
Is heere attending: her businesse lookes in her
With an importing visage, and she told me
In a sweet verball breefe, it did concerne
Your Highnesse with her selfe.
A Letter.
Vpon his many protestations to
marrie mee when his wife wasdead, I blush to say it, he
wonne me. Now is the Count Rossillion a Widdower, his vowes
are forfeited to mee, and myhonors payed to him. Hee stole
from Florence, taking noleaue, and I follow him to his
Countrey for Iustice Grant it me, O King, in you it best
lies, otherwise a seducer flourishes and a poore Maid is
vndone.
Diana Capilet.

Laf.
I will buy me a sonne in Law in a faire, and toule for
this. Ile none of him.

Kin.
The heauens haue thought well on thee Lafew,
To bring forth this discou'rie, seeke these sutors:
Go speedily, and bring againe the Count.
I am a-feard the life of Hellen (Ladie)
Was fowly snatcht.

Old La.
Now iustice on the doers.
Enter Bertram.

King.
I wonder sir, sir, wiues are monsters to you,
And that you flye them as you sweare them Lordship,
Yet you desire to marry.
Enter Widdow, Diana, and Parrolles.
What woman's that?

Dia.
I am my Lord a wretched Florentine,
Deriued from the ancient Capilet,
My suite as I do vnderstand you know,
And therefore know how farre I may be pittied.

Wid.
I am her Mother sir, whose age and honour
Both suffer vnder this complaint we bring,
And both shall cease, without your remedie.

King.
Come hether Count, do you know these Women?

Ber.
My Lord, I neither can nor will denie,
But that I know them, do they charge me further?

Dia.
Why do you looke so strange vpon your wife?

Ber.
She's none of mine my Lord.

Dia.
If you shall marrie
You giue away this hand, and that is mine,
You giue away heauens vowes, and those are mine:
You giue away my selfe, which is knowne mine:
For I by vow am so embodied yours,
That she which marries you, must marrie me,
Either both or none.

Laf.
Your reputation comes too short for my daughter,
you are no husband for her.

Ber.
My Lord, this is a fond and desp'rate creature,
Whom sometime I haue laugh'd with: Let your highnes
Lay a more noble thought vpon mine honour,
Then for to thinke that I would sinke it heere.

Kin.
Sir for my thoughts, you haue them il to friend,
Till your deeds gaine them fairer: proue your honor,
Then in my thought it lies.

Dian.
Good my Lord,
Aske him vpon his oath, if hee do's thinke
He had not my virginity.

Kin.
What saist thou to her?

Ber.
She's impudent my Lord,
And was a common gamester to the Campe.

Dia.
He do's me wrong my Lord: If I were so,
He might haue bought me at a common price.
Do not beleeue him. O behold this Ring,
Whose high respect and rich validitie
Did lacke a Paralell: yet for all that
He gaue it to a Commoner a'th Campe
If I be one.

Coun.
He blushes, and 'tis hit:
Of sixe preceding Ancestors that Iemme
Confer'd by testament to'th sequent issue
Hath it beene owed and worne. This is his wife,
That Ring's a thousand proofes.

King.
Me thought you saide
You saw one heere in Court could witnesse it.

Dia.
I did my Lord, but loath am to produce
So bad an instrument, his names Parrolles.

Laf.
I saw the man to day, if man he bee.

Kin
Finde him, and bring him hether.

Ros.
What of him:
He's quoted for a most perfidious slaue
With all the spots a'th world, taxt and debosh'd,
Whose nature sickens: but to speake a truth,
Am I, or that or this for what he'l vtter,
That will speake any thing.

Kin.
She hath that Ring of yours.

Ros.
I thinke she has; certaine it is I lyk'd her,
And boorded her i'th wanton way of youth:
She knew her distance, and did angle for mee,
Madding my eagernesse with her restraint,
As all impediments in fancies course
Are motiues of more fancie, and in fine,
Her insuite comming with her moderne grace,
Subdu'd me to her rate, she got the Ring,
And I had that which any inferiour might
At Market price haue bought.

Dia.
I must be patient:
You that haue turn'd off a first so noble wife,
May iustly dyet me. I pray you yet,
(Since you lacke vertue, I will loose a husband)
Send for your Ring, I will returne it home,
And giue me mine againe.

Ros.
I haue it not.

Kin.
What Ring was yours I pray you?

Dian.
Sir much like
the same vpon your finger.

Kin.
Know you this Ring, this Ring was his of late.

Dia.
And this was it I gaue him being a bed.

Kin.
The story then goes false, you threw it him
Out of a Casement.

Dia.
I haue spoke the truth.
Enter Parolles.

Ros.
My Lord, I do confesse the ring was hers.

Kin.
You boggle shrewdly, euery feather starts you:
Is this the man you speake of?

Dia.
I, my Lord.

Kin
Tell me sirrah, but tell me true I charge you,
Not fearing the displeasure of your master:
Which on your iust proceeding, Ile keepe off,
By him and by this woman heere, what know you?

Par.
So please your Maiesty, my master hath bin
an honourable Gentleman. Trickes hee hath had in him,
which Gentlemen haue.

Kin.
Come, come, to'th' purpose: Did hee loue this
woman?

Par.
Faith sir he did loue her, but how.

Kin.
How I pray you?

Par.
He did loue her sir, as a Gent. loues a
Woman.

Kin.
How is that?

Par.
He lou'd her sir, and lou'd her not.

Kin.
As thou art a knaue and no knaue, what an equiuocall
Companion is this?

Par.
I am a poore man, and at your Maiesties
command.

Laf.
Hee's a good drumme my Lord, but a naughtie Orator.

Dian.
Do you know he promist me marriage?

Par.
Faith I know more then Ile speake.

Kin.
But wilt thou not speake all thou know'st?

Par.
Yes so please your Maiesty: I did goe betweene
them as I said, but more then that he loued her, for
indeede he was madde for her, and talkt of Sathan, and of
Limbo, and of Furies, and I know not what: yet I was in
that credit with them at that time, that I knewe of their
going to bed, and of other motions, as promising her
marriage, and things which would deriue mee ill will to
speake of, therefore I will not speake what I know.

Kin.
Thou hast spoken all alreadie, vnlesse thou canst say
they are maried, but thou art too fine in thy euidence,
therefore stand aside.
This Ring you say was yours.

Dia.
I my good Lord.

Kin.
Where did you buy it? Or who gaue it you?

Dia.
It was not giuen me, nor I did not buy it.

Kin.
Who lent it you?

Dia.
It was not lent me neither.

Kin.
Where did you finde it then?

Dia.
I found it not.

Kin.
If it were yours by none of all these wayes,
How could you giue it him?

Dia.
I neuer gaue it him.

Laf.
This womans an easie gloue my Lord, she goes off
and on at pleasure.

Kin.
This Ring was mine, I gaue it his first wife.

Dia.
It might be yours or hers for ought I know.

Kin.
Take her away, I do not like her now,
To prison with her: and away with him,
Vnlesse thou telst me where thou hadst this Ring,
Thou diest within this houre.

Dia.
Ile neuer tell you.

Kin.
Take her away.

Dia.
Ile put in baile my liedge.

Kin.
I thinke thee now some common Customer.

Dia.
By Ioue if euer I knew man 'twas you.

King.
Wherefore hast thou accusde him al this while.

Dia.
Because he's guiltie, and he is not guilty:
He knowes I am no Maid, and hee'l sweare too't:
Ile sweare I am a Maid, and he knowes not.
Great King I am no strumpet, by my life,
I am either Maid, or else this old mans wife.

Kin.
She does abuse our eares, to prison with her.

Dia.
Good mother fetch my bayle. Stay Royall sir,
The Ieweller that owes the Ring is sent for,
And he shall surety me. But for this Lord,
Who hath abus'd me as he knowes himselfe,
Though yet he neuer harm'd me, heere I quit him.
He knowes himselfe my bed he hath defil'd,
And at that time he got his wife with childe:
Dead though she be, she feeles her yong one kicke:
So there's my riddle, one that's dead is quicke,
And now behold the meaning.
Enter Hellen and Widdow.

Kin.
Is there no exorcist
Beguiles the truer Office of mine eyes?
Is't reall that I see?

Hel.
No my good Lord,
'Tis but the shadow of a wife you see,
The name, and not the thing.

Ros.
Both, both, O pardon.

Hel.
Oh my good Lord, when I was like this Maid,
I found you wondrous kinde, there is your Ring,
And looke you, heeres your letter: this it sayes,
When from my finger you can get this Ring,
And is by me with childe, &c. This is done,
Will you be mine now you are doubly wonne?

Ros.
If she my Liege can make me know this clearly,
Ile loue her dearely, euer, euer dearly.

Hel.
If it appeare not plaine, and proue vntrue,
Deadly diuorce step betweene me and you.
O my deere mother do I see you liuing?

Laf.
Mine eyes smell Onions, I shall weepe anon:
Good Tom Drumme lend me a handkercher.
So I thanke thee, waite on me home, Ile make sport with
thee: Let thy curtsies alone, they are scuruy ones.

King
Let vs from point to point this storie know,
To make the euen truth in pleasure flow:
If thou beest yet a fresh vncropped flower,
Choose thou thy husband, and Ile pay thy dower.
For I can guesse, that by thy honest ayde,
Thou keptst a wife her selfe, thy selfe a Maide.
Of that and all the progresse more and lesse,
Resoluedly more leasure shall expresse:
All yet seemes well, and if it end so meete,
The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet.
Flourish
THe Kings a Begger, now the Play is done,
All is well ended, if this suite be wonne,
That you expresse Content: which we will pay,
With strife to please you, day exceeding day:
Ours be your patience then, and yours our parts,
Your gentle hands lend vs, and take our hearts.
Exeunt omn.
Modern text
Act V, Scene I
Enter Helena, the Widow, and Diana, with two
attendants

HELENA
But this exceeding posting day and night
Must wear your spirits low. We cannot help it;
But since you have made the days and nights as one
To wear your gentle limbs in my affairs,
Be bold you do so grow in my requital
As nothing can unroot you.
Enter a Gentleman, Astringer to the King
In happy time!
This man may help me to his majesty's ear,
If he would spend his power. God save you, sir!

GENTLEMAN
And you.

HELENA
Sir, I have seen you in the court of France.

GENTLEMAN
I have been sometimes there.

HELENA
I do presume, sir, that you are not fallen
From the report that goes upon your goodness;
And therefore, goaded with most sharp occasions
Which lay nice manners by, I put you to
The use of your own virtues, for the which
I shall continue thankful.

GENTLEMAN
What's your will?

HELENA
That it will please you
To give this poor petition to the King,
And aid me with that store of power you have
To come into his presence.

GENTLEMAN
The King's not here.

HELENA
Not here, sir?

GENTLEMAN
Not indeed.
He hence removed last night, and with more haste
Than is his use.

WIDOW
Lord, how we lose our pains!

HELENA
All's well that ends well yet,
Though time seem so adverse and means unfit.
I do beseech you, whither is he gone?

GENTLEMAN
Marry, as I take it, to Rossillion;
Whither I am going.

HELENA
I do beseech you, sir,
Since you are like to see the King before me,
Commend the paper to his gracious hand,
Which I presume shall render you no blame,
But rather make you thank your pains for it.
I will come after you with what good speed
Our means will make us means.

GENTLEMAN
This I'll do for you.

HELENA
And you shall find yourself to be well thanked,
Whate'er falls more. We must to horse again.
Go, go, provide.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act V, Scene II
Enter the Clown and Parolles

PAROLLES
Good Master Lavatch, give my Lord Lafew
this letter. I have ere now, sir, been better known to
you, when I have held familiarity with fresher clothes;
but I am now, sir, muddied in Fortune's mood, and
smell somewhat strong of her strong displeasure.

CLOWN
Truly, Fortune's displeasure is but sluttish if it
smell so strongly as thou speakest of. I will henceforth
eat no fish of Fortune's buttering. Prithee, allow the
wind.

PAROLLES
Nay, you need not to stop your nose, sir. I
spake but by a metaphor.

CLOWN
Indeed, sir, if your metaphor stink I will stop my
nose, or against any man's metaphor. Prithee, get thee
further.

PAROLLES
Pray you, sir, deliver me this paper.

CLOWN
Foh! Prithee stand away. A paper from Fortune's
close-stool, to give to a nobleman! Look, here he comes
himself.
Enter Lafew
Here is a pur of Fortune's, sir, or of Fortune's cat, but
not a musk-cat, that has fallen into the unclean fishpond
of her displeasure and, as he says, is muddied withal.
Pray you, sir, use the carp as you may, for he looks like a
poor, decayed, ingenious, foolish, rascally knave. I do
pity his distress in my similes of comfort, and leave him
to your lordship.
Exit

PAROLLES
My lord, I am a man whom Fortune hath
cruelly scratched.

LAFEW
And what would you have me to do? 'Tis too late
to pare her nails now. Wherein have you played the
knave with Fortune that she should scratch you, who of
herself is a good lady and would not have knaves thrive
long under her? There's a cardecue for you. Let the
justices make you and Fortune friends; I am for other
business.

PAROLLES
I beseech your honour to hear me one single
word.

LAFEW
You beg a single penny more. Come, you shall
ha't, save your word.

PAROLLES
My name, my good lord, is Parolles.

LAFEW
You beg more than ‘ word ’ then. Cox my passion!
Give me your hand. How does your drum?

PAROLLES
O my good lord, you were the first that found
me.

LAFEW
Was I, in sooth? And I was the first that lost thee.

PAROLLES
It lies in you, my lord, to bring me in some
grace, for you did bring me out.

LAFEW
Out upon thee, knave! Dost thou put upon me at
once both the office of God and the devil? One brings
thee in grace and the other brings thee out.
Trumpets sound
The King's coming; I know by his trumpets. Sirrah,
inquire further after me. I had talk of you last night.
Though you are a fool and a knave you shall eat. Go to,
follow.

PAROLLES
I praise God for you.
Exeunt
Modern text
Act V, Scene III
Flourish. Enter the King, the Countess, Lafew, the two
French Lords, with attendants

KING
We lost a jewel of her, and our esteem
Was made much poorer by it; but your son,
As mad in folly, lacked the sense to know
Her estimation home.

COUNTESS
'Tis past, my liege,
And I beseech your majesty to make it
Natural rebellion done i'th' blade of youth,
When oil and fire, too strong for reason's force,
O'erbears it and burns on.

KING
My honoured lady,
I have forgiven and forgotten all,
Though my revenges were high bent upon him
And watched the time to shoot.

LAFEW
This I must say –
But first I beg my pardon – the young lord
Did to his majesty, his mother, and his lady
Offence of mighty note, but to himself
The greatest wrong of all. He lost a wife
Whose beauty did astonish the survey
Of richest eyes, whose words all ears took captive,
Whose dear perfection hearts that scorned to serve
Humbly called mistress.

KING
Praising what is lost
Makes the remembrance dear. Well, call him hither;
We are reconciled, and the first view shall kill
All repetition. Let him not ask our pardon;
The nature of his great offence is dead,
And deeper than oblivion we do bury
Th' incensing relics of it. Let him approach
A stranger, no offender; and inform him
So 'tis our will he should.

ATTENDANT
I shall, my liege.
Exit

KING
What says he to your daughter? Have you spoke?

LAFEW
All that he is hath reference to your highness.

KING
Then shall we have a match. I have letters sent me
That sets him high in fame.
Enter Bertram

LAFEW
He looks well on't.

KING
I am not a day of season,
For thou mayst see a sunshine and a hail
In me at once. But to the brightest beams
Distracted clouds give way; so stand thou forth:
The time is fair again.

BERTRAM
My high-repented blames,
Dear sovereign, pardon to me.

KING
All is whole.
Not one word more of the consumed time.
Let's take the instant by the forward top;
For we are old, and on our quickest decrees
Th' inaudible and noiseless foot of time
Steals ere we can effect them. You remember
The daughter of this lord?

BERTRAM
Admiringly, my liege. At first
I stuck my choice upon her, ere my heart
Durst make too bold a herald of my tongue;
Where, the impression of mine eye infixing,
Contempt his scornful perspective did lend me,
Which warped the line of every other favour,
Scorned a fair colour or expressed it stolen,
Extended or contracted all proportions
To a most hideous object. Thence it came
That she whom all men praised, and whom myself,
Since I have lost, have loved, was in mine eye
The dust that did offend it.

KING
Well excused.
That thou didst love her, strikes some scores away
From the great compt; but love that comes too late,
Like a remorseful pardon slowly carried,
To the great sender turns a sour offence,
Crying ‘ That's good that's gone.’ Our rash faults
Make trivial price of serious things we have,
Not knowing them until we know their grave.
Oft our displeasures, to ourselves unjust,
Destroy our friends and after weep their dust;
Our own love waking cries to see what's done,
While shameful hate sleeps out the afternoon.
Be this sweet Helen's knell, and now forget her.
Send forth your amorous token for fair Maudlin.
The main consents are had, and here we'll stay
To see our widower's second marriage-day.

COUNTESS
Which better than the first, O dear heaven, bless!
Or, ere they meet, in me, O nature, cesse!

LAFEW
Come on, my son, in whom my house's name
Must be digested, give a favour from you
To sparkle in the spirits of my daughter,
That she may quickly come.
Bertram gives Lafew a ring
By my old beard
And every hair that's on't, Helen that's dead
Was a sweet creature; such a ring as this,
The last that e'er I took her leave at court,
I saw upon her finger.

BERTRAM
Hers it was not.

KING
Now pray you let me see it; for mine eye,
While I was speaking, oft was fastened to't.
This ring was mine, and when I gave it Helen
I bade her, if her fortunes ever stood
Necessitied to help, that by this token
I would relieve her. Had you that craft to reave her
Of what should stead her most?

BERTRAM
My gracious sovereign,
Howe'er it pleases you to take it so,
The ring was never hers.

COUNTESS
Son, on my life,
I have seen her wear it, and she reckoned it
At her life's rate.

LAFEW
I am sure I saw her wear it.

BERTRAM
You are deceived, my lord, she never saw it.
In Florence was it from a casement thrown me,
Wrapped in a paper which contained the name
Of her that threw it. Noble she was, and thought
I stood ingaged; but when I had subscribed
To mine own fortune, and informed her fully
I could not answer in that course of honour
As she had made the overture, she ceased
In heavy satisfaction, and would never
Receive the ring again.

KING
Plutus himself,
That knows the tinct and multiplying medicine,
Hath not in nature's mystery more science
Than I have in this ring. 'Twas mine, 'twas Helen's,
Whoever gave it you; then if you know
That you are well acquainted with yourself,
Confess 'twas hers, and by what rough enforcement
You got it from her. She called the saints to surety
That she would never put it from her finger
Unless she gave it to yourself in bed,
Where you have never come, or sent it us
Upon her great disaster.

BERTRAM
She never saw it.

KING
Thou speakest it falsely, as I love mine honour,
And makest conjectural fears to come into me
Which I would fain shut out. If it should prove
That thou art so inhuman – 'twill not prove so,
And yet I know not; thou didst hate her deadly,
And she is dead; which nothing but to close
Her eyes myself could win me to believe,
More than to see this ring. Take him away.
My forepast proofs, howe'er the matter fall,
Shall tax my fears of little vanity,
Having vainly feared too little. Away with him.
We'll sift this matter further.

BERTRAM
If you shall prove
This ring was ever hers, you shall as easy
Prove that I husbanded her bed in Florence,
Where yet she never was.
Exit, guarded

KING
I am wrapped in dismal thinkings.
Enter a Gentleman (the Astringer)

GENTLEMAN
Gracious sovereign,
Whether I have been to blame or no, I know not:
Here's a petition from a Florentine
Who hath for four or five removes come short
To tender it herself. I undertook it,
Vanquished thereto by the fair grace and speech
Of the poor suppliant, who, by this, I know,
Is here attending. Her business looks in her
With an importing visage, and she told me,
In a sweet verbal brief, it did concern
Your highness with herself.

KING
(reading the letter)
Upon his many protestations to
marry me when his wife was dead, I blush to say it, he
won me. Now is the Count Rossillion a widower; his vows
are forfeited to me and my honour's paid to him. He stole
from Florence, taking no leave, and I follow him to his
country for justice. Grant it me, O King! In you it best
lies; otherwise a seducer flourishes, and a poor maid is
undone.
Diana Capilet.

LAFEW
I will buy me a son-in-law in a fair, and toll for
this. I'll none of him.

KING
The heavens have thought well on thee, Lafew,
To bring forth this discovery. Seek these suitors.
Go speedily, and bring again the Count.
Exeunt some attendants
I am afeard the life of Helen, lady,
Was foully snatched.

COUNTESS
Now justice on the doers!
Enter Bertram, guarded

KING
I wonder, sir, since wives are monsters to you,
And that you fly them as you swear them lordship,
Yet you desire to marry.
Enter the Widow and Diana
What woman's that?

DIANA
I am, my lord, a wretched Florentine,
Derived from the ancient Capilet.
My suit, as I do understand, you know,
And therefore know how far I may be pitied.

WIDOW
I am her mother, sir, whose age and honour
Both suffer under this complaint we bring,
And both shall cease, without your remedy.

KING
Come hither, Count. Do you know these women?

BERTRAM
My lord, I neither can nor will deny
But that I know them. Do they charge me further?

DIANA
Why do you look so strange upon your wife?

BERTRAM
She's none of mine, my lord.

DIANA
If you shall marry
You give away this hand, and that is mine,
You give away heaven's vows, and those are mine,
You give away myself, which is known mine;
For I by vow am so embodied yours
That she which marries you must marry me –
Either both or none.

LAFEW
Your reputation comes too short for my daughter;
you are no husband for her.

BERTRAM
My lord, this is a fond and desperate creature
Whom sometime I have laughed with. Let your highness
Lay a more noble thought upon mine honour
Than for to think that I would sink it here.

KING
Sir, for my thoughts, you have them ill to friend
Till your deeds gain them; fairer prove your honour
Than in my thought it lies!

DIANA
Good my lord,
Ask him upon his oath if he does think
He had not my virginity.

KING
What sayst thou to her?

BERTRAM
She's impudent, my lord,
And was a common gamester to the camp.

DIANA
He does me wrong, my lord; if I were so
He might have bought me at a common price.
Do not believe him. O behold this ring
Whose high respect and rich validity
Did lack a parallel; yet for all that
He gave it to a commoner o'th' camp,
If I be one.

COUNTESS
He blushes and 'tis hit.
Of six preceding ancestors, that gem
Conferred by testament to th' sequent issue,
Hath it been owed and worn. This is his wife:
That ring's a thousand proofs.

KING
Methought you said
You saw one here in court could witness it.

DIANA
I did, my lord, but loath am to produce
So bad an instrument: his name's Parolles.

LAFEW
I saw the man today, if man he be.

KING
Find him, and bring him hither.
Exit an attendant

BERTRAM
What of him?
He's quoted for a most perfidious slave
With all the spots o'th' world taxed and debauched,
Whose nature sickens but to speak a truth.
Am I or that or this for what he'll utter,
That will speak anything?

KING
She hath that ring of yours.

BERTRAM
I think she has. Certain it is I liked her
And boarded her i'th' wanton way of youth.
She knew her distance and did angle for me,
Madding my eagerness with her restraint,
As all impediments in fancy's course
Are motives of more fancy; and in fine
Her infinite cunning with her modern grace
Subdued me to her rate. She got the ring,
And I had that which any inferior might
At market-price have bought.

DIANA
I must be patient.
You that have turned off a first so noble wife
May justly diet me. I pray you yet –
Since you lack virtue I will lose a husband –
Send for your ring, I will return it home,
And give me mine again.

BERTRAM
I have it not.

KING
What ring was yours, I pray you?

DIANA
Sir, much like
The same upon your finger.

KING
Know you this ring? This ring was his of late.

DIANA
And this was it I gave him, being abed.

KING
The story then goes false you threw it him
Out of a casement?

DIANA
I have spoke the truth.
Enter Parolles

BERTRAM
My lord, I do confess the ring was hers.

KING
You boggle shrewdly; every feather starts you. –
Is this the man you speak of?

DIANA
Ay, my lord.

KING
Tell me, sirrah – but tell me true I charge you,
Not fearing the displeasure of your master,
Which on your just proceeding I'll keep off –
By him and by this woman here what know you?

PAROLLES
So please your majesty, my master hath been
an honourable gentleman. Tricks he hath had in him,
which gentlemen have.

KING
Come, come, to th' purpose. Did he love this
woman?

PAROLLES
Faith, sir, he did love her; but how?

KING
How, I pray you?

PAROLLES
He did love her, sir, as a gentleman loves a
woman.

KING
How is that?

PAROLLES
He loved her, sir, and loved her not.

KING
As thou art a knave and no knave. What an equivocal
companion is this!

PAROLLES
I am a poor man, and at your majesty's
command.

LAFEW
He's a good drum, my lord, but a naughty orator.

DIANA
Do you know he promised me marriage?

PAROLLES
Faith, I know more than I'll speak.

KING
But wilt thou not speak all thou knowest?

PAROLLES
Yes, so please your majesty. I did go between
them as I said; but more than that, he loved her, for
indeed he was mad for her and talked of Satan and of
Limbo and of furies and I know not what; yet I was in
that credit with them at that time that I knew of their
going to bed and of other motions, as promising her
marriage and things which would derive me ill will to
speak of; therefore I will not speak what I know.

KING
Thou hast spoken all already, unless thou canst say
they are married. But thou art too fine in thy evidence –
therefore, stand aside.
This ring you say was yours?

DIANA
Ay, my good lord.

KING
Where did you buy it? Or who gave it you?

DIANA
It was not given me, nor I did not buy it.

KING
Who lent it you?

DIANA
It was not lent me neither.

KING
Where did you find it then?

DIANA
I found it not.

KING
If it were yours by none of all these ways
How could you give it him?

DIANA
I never gave it him.

LAFEW
This woman's an easy glove, my lord; she goes off
and on at pleasure.

KING
This ring was mine; I gave it his first wife.

DIANA
It might be yours or hers for aught I know.

KING
Take her away, I do not like her now.
To prison with her. And away with him.
Unless thou tellest me where thou hadst this ring
Thou diest within this hour.

DIANA
I'll never tell you.

KING
Take her away.

DIANA
I'll put in bail, my liege.

KING
I think thee now some common customer.

DIANA
By Jove, if ever I knew man 'twas you.

KING
Wherefore hast thou accused him all this while?

DIANA
Because he's guilty and he is not guilty.
He knows I am no maid, and he'll swear to't;
I'll swear I am a maid and he knows not.
Great king, I am no strumpet; by my life
I am either maid or else this old man's wife.

KING
She does abuse our ears. To prison with her.

DIANA
Good mother, fetch my bail. Stay, royal sir;
Exit the Widow
The jeweller that owes the ring is sent for
And he shall surety me. But for this lord
Who hath abused me as he knows himself,
Though yet he never harmed me, here I quit him.
He knows himself my bed he hath defiled,
And at that time he got his wife with child.
Dead though she be she feels her young one kick.
So there's my riddle: one that's dead is quick.
And now behold the meaning.
Enter the Widow, with Helena

KING
Is there no exorcist
Beguiles the truer office of mine eyes?
Is't real that I see?

HELENA
No, my good lord,
'Tis but the shadow of a wife you see,
The name and not the thing.

BERTRAM
Both, both. O pardon!

HELENA
O my good lord, when I was like this maid
I found you wondrous kind. There is your ring,
And, look you, here's your letter. This it says:
When from my finger you can get this ring...
And is by me with child, etc. This is done.
Will you be mine now you are doubly won?

BERTRAM
If she, my liege, can make me know this clearly
I'll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly.

HELENA
If it appear not plain and prove untrue,
Deadly divorce step between me and you!
O my dear mother, do I see you living?

LAFEW
Mine eyes smell onions, I shall weep anon.
(To Parolles) Good Tom Drum, lend me a handkercher.
So, I thank thee. Wait on me home, I'll make sport with
thee. Let thy curtsies alone, they are scurvy ones.

KING
Let us from point to point this story know
To make the even truth in pleasure flow.
(To Diana) If thou beest yet a fresh uncropped flower
Choose thou thy husband and I'll pay thy dower;
For I can guess that by thy honest aid
Thou keptest a wife herself, thyself a maid.
Of that and all the progress more and less
Resolvedly more leisure shall express.
All yet seems well, and if it end so meet,
The bitter past, more welcome is the sweet.
Flourish
EPILOGUE

KING
The King's a beggar, now the play is done.
All is well ended if this suit be won,
That you express content; which we will pay
With strife to please you, day exceeding day.
Ours be your patience then and yours our parts;
Your gentle hands lend us and take our hearts.
Exeunt
SHAKESPEARE'S WORDS © 2020 DAVID CRYSTAL & BEN CRYSTAL