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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

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But shoot not at me in your wakened hate:
Since my appeal says I did strive to prove
The constancy and virtue of your love.

Like as to make our appetite more keen
With eager compounds we our palate urge,
As to prevent our maladies unseen,
We sicken to shun sickness when we purge.
Even so being full of your ne'er-cloying sweetness,
To bitter sauces did I frame my feeding;
And sick of welfare found a kind of meetness,
To be diseased ere that there was true needing.
Thus policy in love t' anticipate
The ills that were not, grew to faults assured,
And brought to medicine a healthful state
Which rank of goodness would by ill be cured.
But thence I learn and find the lesson true,
Drugs poison him that so feil sick of you.

What potions have I drunk of Siren tears
Distilled from limbecks foul as hell within,
Applying fears to hopes, and hopes to fears,
Still losing when I saw my self to win!
What wretched errors hath my heart committed,
Whilst it hath thought it self so blessed never!
How have mine eyes out of their spheres been fitted
In the distraction of this madding fever!
O benefit of ill, now I find true
That better is, by evil still made better.
And ruined love when it is built anew
Grows fairer than at first, more strong, far greater.
So I return rebuked to my content,
And gain by ills thrice more than I have spent.

That you were once unkind befriends me now,
And for that sorrow, which I then did feel,
Needs must I under my transgression bow,
Unless my nerves were brass or hammered steel.
For if you were by my unkindness shaken
As I by yours, y'have passed a hell of time,
And I a tyrant have no leisure taken
To weigh how once I suffered in your crime.
O that our night of woe might have remembered
My deepest sense, how hard true sorrow hits,
And soon to you, as you to me then tendered
The humble salve, which wounded bosoms fits!
But that your trespass now becomes a fee,
Mine ransoms yours, and yours must ransom me.

'Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed,
When not to be, receives reproach of being,
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed,
Not by our feeling, but by others' seeing.
For why should others' false adulterate eyes
Give salutation to my sportive blood?
Or on my frailties why are frailer spies,
Which in their wills count bad what I think good?
No, I am that I am, and they that level
At my abuses, reckon up their own,
I may be straight though they themselves be bevel;
By their rank thoughts, my deeds must not be shown
Unless this general evil they maintain,
All men are bad and in their badness reign.

Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain
Full charactered with lasting memory,
Which shall above that idle rank remain
Beyond all date even to eternity.
Or at the least, so long as brain and heart
Have faculty by nature to subsist,
Till each to razed oblivion yield his part
Of thee, thy record never can be missed:
That poor retention could not so much hold,
Nor need I tallies thy dear love to score,
Therefore to give them from me was I bold,
To trust those tables that receive thee more:
To keep an adjunct to remember thee
Were to import forgetfulness in me.

No! Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change,
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange,
They are but dressings Of a former sight:
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire,
What thou dost foist upon us that is old,
And rather make them born to our desire,
Than think that we before have heard them told:
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wond'ring at the present, nor the past,
For thy records, and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste:
This I do vow and this shall ever be,
I will be true despite thy scythe and thee.

If my dear love were but the child of state,
It might for Fortune's bastard be unfathered,
As subject to time's love or to time's hate,
Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gathered.
No it was builded far from accident,
It suffers not in smiling pomp, nor falls
Under the blow of thralled discontent,
Whereto th' inviting time our fashion calls:
It fears not policy that heretic,
Which works on leases of short-numbered hours,
But all alone stands hugely politic,
That it nor grows with heat, nor drowns with showers.
To this I witness call the fools of time,
Which die for goodness, who have lived for crime.

Were't aught to me I bore the canopy,
With my extern the outward honouring,
Or laid great bases for eternity,
Which proves more short than waste or ruining?
Have I not seen dwellers on form and favour
Lose all, and more by paying too much rent
For compound sweet; forgoing simple savour,
Pitiful thrivers in their gazing spent?
No, let me be obsequious in thy heart,
And take thou my oblation, poor but free,
Which is not mixed with seconds, knows no art,
But mutual render, only me for thee.
Hence, thou suborned informer, a true soul
When most impeached, stands least in thy control.

O thou my lovely boy who in thy power,
Dost hold Time's fickle glass his fickle hour:
Who hast by waning grown, and therein show'st,
Thy lovers withering, as thy sweet self grow'st.
If Nature (sovereign mistress over wrack)
As thou goest onwards still will pluck thee back,
She keeps thee to this purpose, that her skill
May time disgrace, and wretched minutes kill.
Yet fear her O thou minion of her pleasure,
She may detain, but not still keep her treasure!
Her audit (though delayed) answered must be,
And her quietus is to render thee.

In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were it bore not beauty's name:
But now is black beauty's successive heir,
And beauty slandered with a bastard shame,
For since each hand hath put on nature's power,
Fairing the foul with art's false borrowed face,
Sweet beauty hath no name no holy bower,
But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress' eyes are raven black,
Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem,
At such who not born fair no beauty lack,
Slandering creation with a false esteem,
Yet so they mourn becoming of their woe,
That every tongue says beauty should look so.

How oft when thou, my music, music play'st,
Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers when thou gently sway'st
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap,
To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,
Whilst my poor lips which should that harvest reap,
At the wood's boldness by thee blushing stand.
To be so tickled they would change their state
And situation with those dancing chips,
O'er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,
Making dead wood more blest than living lips,
Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.

Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action, and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd'rous, bloody full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad.
Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, and in quest, to have extreme,
A bliss in proof and proved, a very woe,
Before a joy proposed behind a dream.
All this the world well knows yet none knows well,
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun,
Coral is far more red, than her lips red,
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun:
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head:
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks,
And in some perfumes is there more delight,
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know,
That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet by heaven I think my love as rare,
As any she belied with false compare.

Thou art as tyrannous, so as thou art,
As those whose beauties proudly make them cruel;
For well thou know'st to my dear doting heart
Thou art the fairest and most precious jewel.
Yet in good faith some say that thee behold,
Thy face hath not the power to make love groan;
To say they err, I dare not be so bold,
Although I swear it to my self alone.
And to be sure that is not false I swear,
A thousand groans but thinking on thy face,
One on another's neck do witness bear
Thy black is fairest in my judgment's place.
In nothing art thou black save in thy deeds,
And thence this slander as I think proceeds.

Thine eyes I love, and they as pitying me,
Knowing thy heart torment me with disdain,
Have put on black, and loving mourners be,
Looking with pretty ruth upon my pain.
And truly not the morning sun of heaven
Better becomes the grey cheeks of the east,
Nor that full star that ushers in the even
Doth half that glory to the sober west
As those two mourning eyes become thy face:
O let it then as well beseem thy heart
To mourn for me since mourning doth thee grace,
And suit thy pity like in every part.
Then will I swear beauty herself is black,
And all they foul that thy complexion lack.

Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan
For that deep wound it gives my friend and me;
Is't not enough to torture me alone,
But slave to slavery my sweet'st friend must be?
Me from my self thy cruel eye hath taken,
And my next self thou harder hast engrossed,
Of him, my self, and thee I am forsaken,
A torment thrice three-fold thus to be crossed:
Prison my heart in thy steel bosom's ward,
But then my friend's heart let my poor heart bail,
Whoe'er keeps me, let my heart be his guard,
Thou canst not then use rigour in my gaol.
And yet thou wilt, for I being pent in thee,
Perforce am thine and all that is in me.

So now I have confessed that he is thine,
And I my self am mortgaged to thy will,
My self I'll forfeit, so that other mine,
Thou wilt restore to be my comfort still:
But thou wilt not, nor he will not be free,
For thou art covetous, and he is kind,
He learned but surety-like to write for me,
Under that bond that him as fist doth bind.
The statute of thy beauty thou wilt take,
Thou usurer that put'st forth all to use,
And sue a friend, came debtor for my sake,
So him I lose through my unkind abuse.
Him have I lost, thou hast both him and me,
He pays the whole, and yet am I not free.

Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy will,
And 'Will' to boot, and 'Will' in over-plus,
More than enough am I that vex thee still,
To thy sweet will making addition thus.
Wilt thou whose will is large and spacious,
Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine?
Shall will in others seem right gracious,
And in my will no fair acceptance shine?
The sea all water, yet receives rain still,
And in abundance addeth to his store,
So thou being rich in will add to thy will
One will of mine to make thy large will more.
Let no unkind, no fair beseechers kill,
Think all but one, and me in that one 'Will.'

If thy soul check thee that I come so near,
Swear to thy blind soul that I was thy 'Will',
And will thy soul knows is admitted there,
Thus far for love, my love-suit sweet fulfil.
'Will', will fulfil the treasure of thy love,
Ay, fill it full with wills, and my will one,
In things of great receipt with case we prove,
Among a number one is reckoned none.
Then in the number let me pass untold,
Though in thy store's account I one must be,
For nothing hold me, so it please thee hold,
That nothing me, a something sweet to thee.
Make but my name thy love, and love that still,
And then thou lov'st me for my name is Will.

Thou blind fool Love, what dost thou to mine eyes,
That they behold and see not what they see?
They know what beauty is, see where it lies,
Yet what the best is, take the worst to be.
If eyes corrupt by over-partial looks,
Be anchored in the bay where all men ride,
Why of eyes' falsehood hast thou forged hooks,
Whereto the judgment of my heart is tied?
Why should my heart think that a several plot,
Which my heart knows the wide world's common place?
Or mine eyes seeing this, say this is not
To put fair truth upon so foul a face?
In things right true my heart and eyes have erred,
And to this false plague are they now transferred.

When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutored youth,
Unlearned in the world's false subtleties.
Thus vainly thinking that she thinks me young,
Although she knows my days are past the best,
Simply I credit her false-speaking tongue,
On both sides thus is simple truth suppressed:
But wherefore says she not she is unjust?
And wherefore say not I that I am old?
O love's best habit is in seeming trust,
And age in love, loves not to have years told.
Therefore I lie with her, and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flattered be.

O call not me to justify the wrong,
That thy unkindness lays upon my heart,
Wound me not with thine eye but with thy tongue,
Use power with power, and slay me not by art,
Tell me thou lov'st elsewhere; but in my sight,
Dear heart forbear to glance thine eye aside,
What need'st thou wound with cunning when thy might
Is more than my o'erpressed defence can bide?
Let me excuse thee, ah my love well knows,
Her pretty looks have been mine enemies,
And therefore from my face she turns my foes,
That they elsewhere might dart their injuries:
Yet do not so, but since I am near slain,
Kill me outright with looks, and rid my pain.

Be wise as thou art cruel, do not press
My tongue-tied patience with too much disdain:
Lest sorrow lend me words and words express,
The manner of my pity-wanting pain.
If I might teach thee wit better it were,
Though not to love, yet love to tell me so,
As testy sick men when their deaths be near,
No news but health from their physicians know.
For if I should despair I should grow mad,
And in my madness might speak ill of thee,
Now this ill-wresting world is grown so bad,
Mad slanderers by mad ears believed be.
That I may not be so, nor thou belied,
Bear thine eyes straight, though thy proud heart go wide.

In faith I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note,
But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who in despite of view is pleased to dote.
Nor are mine cars with thy tongue's tune delighted,
Nor tender feeling to base touches prone,
Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited
To any sensual feast with thee alone:
But my five wits, nor my five senses can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee,
Who leaves unswayed the likeness of a man,
Thy proud heart's slave and vassal wretch to be:
Only my plague thus far I count my gain,
That she that makes me sin, awards me pain.

Love is my sin, and thy dear virtue hate,
Hate of my sin, grounded on sinful loving,
O but with mine, compare thou thine own state,
And thou shalt find it merits not reproving,
Or if it do, not from those lips of thine,
That have profaned their scarlet ornaments,
And sealed false bonds of love as oft as mine,
Robbed others' beds' revenues of their rents.
Be it lawful I love thee as thou lov'st those,
Whom thine eyes woo as mine importune thee,
Root pity in thy heart that when it grows,
Thy pity may deserve to pitied be.
If thou dost seek to have what thou dost hide,
By self-example mayst thou be denied.

Lo as a careful huswife runs to catch,
One of her feathered creatures broke away,
Sets down her babe and makes all swift dispatch
In pursuit of the thing she would have stay:
Whilst her neglected child holds her in chase,
Cries to catch her whose busy care is bent,
To follow that which flies before her face:
Not prizing her poor infant's discontent;
So run'st thou after that which flies from thee,
Whilst I thy babe chase thee afar behind,
But if thou catch thy hope turn back to me:
And play the mother's part, kiss me, be kind.
So will I pray that thou mayst have thy Will,
If thou turn back and my loud crying still.

Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still,
The better angel is a man right fair:
The worser spirit a woman coloured ill.
To win me soon to hell my female evil,
Tempteth my better angel from my side,
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil:
Wooing his purity with her foul pride.
And whether that my angel be turned fiend,
Suspect I may, yet not directly tell,
But being both from me both to each friend,
I guess one angel in another's hell.
Yet this shall I ne'er know but live in doubt,
Till my bad angel fire my good one out.

Those lips that Love's own hand did make,
Breathed forth the sound that said 'I hate',
To me that languished for her sake:
But when she saw my woeful state,
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that ever sweet,
Was used in giving gentle doom:
And taught it thus anew to greet:
'I hate' she altered with an end,
That followed it as gentle day,
Doth follow night who like a fiend
From heaven to hell is flown away.
'I hate', from hate away she threw,
And saved my life saying 'not you'.

Poor soul the centre of my sinful earth,
My sinful earth these rebel powers array,
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
Why so large cost having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms inheritors of this excess
Eat up thy charge? is this thy body's end?
Then soul live thou upon thy servant's loss,
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more,
So shall thou feed on death, that feeds on men,
And death once dead, there's no more dying then.

My love is as a fever longing still,
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
Th' uncertain sickly appetite to please:
My reason the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve,
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest,
My thoughts and my discourse as mad men's are,
At random from the truth vainly expressed.
For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.

O me! what eyes hath love put in my head,
Which have no correspondence with true sight,
Or if they have, where is my judgment fled,
That censures falsely what they see aright?
If that be fair whereon my false eyes dote,
What means the world to say it is not so?
If it be not, then love doth well denote,
Love's eye is not so true as all men's: no,
How can it? O how can love's eye be true,
That is so vexed with watching and with tears?
No marvel then though I mistake my view,
The sun it self sees not, till heaven clears.
O cunning love, with tears thou keep'st me blind,
Lest eyes well-seeing thy foul faults should find.

Canst thou O cruel, say I love thee not,
When I against my self with thee partake?
Do I not think on thee when I forgot
Am of my self, all-tyrant, for thy sake?
Who hateth thee that I do call my friend,
On whom frown'st thou that I do fawn upon,
Nay if thou lour'st on me do I not spend
Revenge upon my self with present moan?
What merit do I in my self respect,
That is so proud thy service to despise,
When all my best doth worship thy defect,
Commanded by the motion of thine eyes?
But love hate on for now I know thy mind,
Those that can see thou lov'st, and I am blind.

O from what power hast thou this powerful might,
With insufficiency my heart to sway,
To make me give the lie to my true sight,
And swear that brightness doth not grace the day?
Whence hast thou this becoming of things ill,
That in the very refuse of thy deeds,
There is such strength and warrantise of skill,
That in my mind thy worst all best exceeds?
Who taught thee how to make me love thee more,
The more I hear and see just cause of hate?
O though I love what others do abhor,
With others thou shouldst not abhor my state.
If thy unworthiness raised love in me,
More worthy I to be beloved of thee.

Love is too young to know what conscience is,
Yet who knows not conscience is born of love?
Then gentle cheater urge not my amiss,
Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove.
For thou betraying me, I do betray
My nobler part to my gross body's treason,
My soul doth tell my body that he may,
Triumph in love, flesh stays no farther reason,
But rising at thy name doth point out thee,
As his triumphant prize, proud of this pride,
He is contented thy poor drudge to be,
To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side.
No want of conscience hold it that I call,
Her love, for whose dear love I rise and fall.

In loving thee thou know'st I am forsworn,
But thou art twice forsworn to me love swearing,
In act thy bed-vow broke and new faith torn,
In vowing new hate after new love bearing:
But why of two oaths' breach do I accuse thee,
When I break twenty? I am perjured most,
For all my vows are oaths but to misuse thee:
And all my honest faith in thee is lost.
For I have sworn deep oaths of thy deep kindness:
Oaths of thy love, thy truth, thy constancy,
And to enlighten thee gave eyes to blindness,
Or made them swear against the thing they see.
For I have sworn thee fair: more perjured I,
To swear against the truth so foul a be.

Cupid laid by his brand and fell asleep,
A maid of Dian's this advantage found,
And his love-kindling fire did quickly steep
In a cold valley-fountain of that ground:
Which borrowed from this holy fire of Love,
A dateless lively heat still to endure,
And grew a seeting bath which yet men prove,
Against strange maladies a sovereign cure:
But at my mistress' eye Love's brand new-fired,
The boy for trial needs would touch my breast,
I sick withal the help of bath desired,
And thither hied a sad distempered guest.
But found no cure, the bath for my help lies,
Where Cupid got new fire; my mistress' eyes.

The little Love-god lying once asleep,
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Whilst many nymphs that vowed chaste life to keep,
Came tripping by, but in her maiden hand,
The fairest votary took up that fire,
Which many legions of true hearts had warmed,
And so the general of hot desire,
Was sleeping by a virgin hand disarmed.
This brand she quenched in a cool well by,
Which from Love's fire took heat perpetual,
Growing a bath and healthful remedy,
For men discased, but I my mistress' thrall,
Came there for cure and this by that I prove,
Love's fire heats water, water cools not love.





by William Shakespeare

Dramatis Personae

BERTRAM, Count of Rousillon
LAFEU, an old lord
PAROLLES, a follower of Bertram
TWO FRENCH LORDS, serving with Bertram

STEWARD, Servant to the Countess of Rousillon
LAVACHE, a clown and 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
DIANA, daughter to the Widow

VIOLENTA, neighbour and friend to the Widow
MARIANA, neighbour and friend to the Widow

Lords, Officers, Soldiers, etc., French and Florentine


Rousillon; Paris; Florence; Marseilles

Rousillon. The COUNT'S palace


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
COUNTESS. What hope is there of his Majesty's amendment?
LAFEU. He hath abandon'd 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,' how
sad a passage 'tis!-whose skill was almost as great as his
honesty; had it stretch'd so far, would have made nature
immortal, 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 call'd 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 spoke
of 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 the
daughter 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; her dispositions she inherits, which makes fair gifts
fairer; for where an unclean mind carries virtuous qualities,
there commendations 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.
The remembrance 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 father
In manners, as in shape! Thy blood and virtue
Contend for empire in thee, and thy goodness
Share with thy birthright! Love all, trust a few,
Do wrong to none; be able for thine enemy
Rather in power than use, and keep thy friend
Under 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 best
That shall attend his love.
COUNTESS. Heaven bless him! Farewell, Bertram. Exit
BERTRAM. The best wishes that can be forg'd in your thoughts be
servants to you! [To HELENA] 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 more
Than those I shed for him. What was he like?
I have forgot him; my imagination
Carries no favour in't but Bertram's.
I am undone; there is no living, none,
If Bertram be away. 'Twere all one
That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, he is so above me.
In his bright radiance and collateral light
Must I be comforted, not in his sphere.
Th' ambition in my love thus plagues itself:
The hind that would be mated by the lion
Must die for love. 'Twas pretty, though a plague,
To see him every hour; to sit and draw
His arched brows, his hawking eye, his curls,
In our heart's table-heart too capable
Of every line and trick of his sweet favour.
But now he's gone, and my idolatrous fancy
Must sanctify his relics. Who comes here?


[Aside] 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 him
That they take place when virtue's steely bones
Looks bleak i' th' cold wind; withal, full oft we see
Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.
PAROLLES. Save you, fair queen!
HELENA. And you, monarch!
HELENA. And no.
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 the
defence, 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't.
HELENA. I will stand for 't a little, though therefore I die a
PAROLLES. There's little can be said in 't; 'tis against the rule
of nature. 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 year it will make itself ten, which is a goodly
increase; and the principal itself not much the worse. Away
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 wither'd 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 you
anything 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 world
Of 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-
PAROLLES. What's pity?
HELENA. That wishing well had not a body in't
Which might be felt; that we, the poorer born,
Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes,
Might with effects of them follow our friends
And show what we alone must think, which never
Returns us thanks.

Enter PAGE

PAGE. Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you. Exit PAGE
PAROLLES. Little Helen, farewell; if I can remember thee, I will
think 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 Man?
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 the
composition 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. I
will 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 good
husband and use him as he uses thee. So, farewell.
HELENA. Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
Which we ascribe to heaven. The fated sky
Gives us free scope; only doth backward pull
Our 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 brings
To join like likes, and kiss like native things.
Impossible be strange attempts to those
That weigh their pains in sense, and do suppose
What hath been cannot be. Who ever strove
To 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. Exit

Paris. The KING'S palace

Flourish of cornets. Enter the KING OF FRANCE, with letters,
and divers ATTENDANTS

KING. The Florentines and Senoys are by th' ears;
Have fought with equal fortune, and continue
A 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 us
For speedy aid; wherein our dearest friend
Prejudicates the business, and would seem
To have us make denial.
FIRST LORD. His love and wisdom,
Approv'd so to your Majesty, may plead
For amplest credence.
KING. He hath arm'd our answer,
And Florence is denied before he comes;
Yet, for our gentlemen that mean to see
The Tuscan service, freely have they leave
To stand on either part.
SECOND LORD. It well may serve
A nursery to our gentry, who are sick
For breathing and exploit.
KING. What's he comes here?


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 parts
Mayst 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 friendship
First tried our soldiership. He did look far
Into the service of the time, and was
Discipled of the bravest. He lasted long;
But on us both did haggish age steal on,
And wore us out of act. It much repairs me
To talk of your good father. In his youth
He had the wit which I can well observe
To-day in our young lords; but they may jest
Till their own scorn return to them unnoted
Ere they can hide their levity in honour.
So like a courtier, contempt nor bitterness
Were in his pride or sharpness; if they were,
His equal had awak'd them; and his honour,
Clock to itself, knew the true minute when
Exception bid him speak, and at this time
His tongue obey'd his hand. Who were below him
He us'd as creatures of another place;
And bow'd his eminent top to their low ranks,
Making them proud of his humility
In their poor praise he humbled. Such a man
Might be a copy to these younger times;
Which, followed well, would demonstrate them now
But goers backward.
BERTRAM. His good remembrance, sir,
Lies richer in your thoughts than on his tomb;
So in approof lives not his epitaph
As in your royal speech.
KING. Would I were with him! He would always say-
Methinks I hear him now; his plausive words
He scatter'd not in ears, but grafted them
To grow there, and to bear- 'Let me not live'-
This his good melancholy oft began,
On the catastrophe and heel of pastime,
When it was out-'Let me not live' quoth he
'After my flame lacks oil, to be the snuff
Of younger spirits, whose apprehensive senses
All but new things disdain; whose judgments are
Mere fathers of their garments; whose constancies
Expire before their fashions.' This he wish'd.
I, after him, do after him wish too,
Since I nor wax nor honey can bring home,
I quickly were dissolved from my hive,
To give some labourers room.
SECOND LORD. You're loved, sir;
They that least lend it you shall lack you first.
KING. I fill a place, I know't. How long is't, Count,
Since the physician at your father's died?
He was much fam'd.
BERTRAM. Some six months since, my lord.
KING. If he were living, I would try him yet-
Lend me an arm-the rest have worn me out
With several applications. Nature and sickness
Debate it at their leisure. Welcome, Count;
My son's no dearer.
BERTRAM. Thank your Majesty. Exeunt [Flourish]

Rousillon. The COUNT'S palace


COUNTESS. I will now hear; what say you of this gentlewoman?
STEWARD. Madam, the care I have had to even your content I wish
might be found in the calendar of my past endeavours; for then we
wound our modesty, and make foul the clearness of our deservings,
when of ourselves we publish them.
COUNTESS. What does this knave here? Get you gone, sirrah. The
complaints I have heard of you I do not all believe; 'tis my
slowness that I do not, for I know you lack not folly to commit
them and have ability enough to make such knaveries yours.
CLOWN. 'Tis not unknown to you, madam, I am a poor fellow.
COUNTESS. Well, sir.
CLOWN. No, madam, 'tis not so well that I am poor, though many of
the rich are damn'd; but if I may have your ladyship's good will
to go to the world, Isbel the woman and I will do as we may.
COUNTESS. Wilt thou needs be a beggar?
CLOWN. I do beg your good will in this case.
COUNTESS. In what case?
CLOWN. In Isbel's case and mine own. Service is no heritage; and I
think I shall never have the blessing of God till I have issue o'
my body; for they say bames are blessings.
COUNTESS. Tell me thy reason why thou wilt marry.
CLOWN. My poor body, madam, requires it. I am driven on by the
flesh; and he must needs go that the devil drives.
COUNTESS. Is this all your worship's reason?
CLOWN. Faith, madam, I have other holy reasons, such as they are.
COUNTESS. May the world know them?
CLOWN. I have been, madam, a wicked creature, as you and all flesh
and blood are; and, indeed, I do marry that I may repent.
COUNTESS. Thy marriage, sooner than thy wickedness.
CLOWN. I am out o' friends, madam, and I hope to have friends for
my wife's sake.
COUNTESS. Such friends are thine enemies, knave.
CLOWN. Y'are shallow, madam-in great friends; for the knaves come
to do that for me which I am aweary of. He that ears my land
spares my team, and gives me leave to in the crop. If I be his
cuckold, he's my drudge. He that comforts my wife is the
cherisher of my flesh and blood; he that cherishes my flesh and
blood loves my flesh and blood; he that loves my flesh and blood
is my friend; ergo, he that kisses my wife is my friend. If men
could be contented to be what they are, there were no fear in
marriage; for young Charbon the puritan and old Poysam the
papist, howsome'er their hearts are sever'd in religion, their
heads are both one; they may jowl horns together like any deer
i' th' herd.
COUNTESS. Wilt thou ever be a foul-mouth'd and calumnious knave?
CLOWN. A prophet I, madam; and I speak the truth the next way:

For I the ballad will repeat,
Which men full true shall find:
Your marriage comes by destiny,
Your cuckoo sings by kind.

COUNTESS. Get you gone, sir; I'll talk with you more anon.
STEWARD. May it please you, madam, that he bid Helen come to you.
Of her I am to speak.
COUNTESS. Sirrah, tell my gentlewoman I would speak with her; Helen
I mean.
CLOWN. [Sings]

'Was this fair face the cause' quoth she
'Why the Grecians sacked Troy?
Fond done, done fond,
Was this King Priam's joy?'
With that she sighed as she stood,
With that she sighed as she stood,
And gave this sentence then:
'Among nine bad if one be good,
Among nine bad if one be good,
There's yet one good in ten.'

COUNTESS. What, one good in ten? You corrupt the song, sirrah.
CLOWN. One good woman in ten, madam, which is a purifying o' th'
song. Would God would serve the world so all the year! We'd find
no fault with the tithe-woman, if I were the parson. One in ten,
quoth 'a! An we might have a good woman born before every blazing
star, or at an earthquake, 'twould mend the lottery well: a man
may draw his heart out ere 'a pluck one.
COUNTESS. You'll be gone, sir knave, and do as I command you.
CLOWN. That man should be at woman's command, and yet no hurt done!
Though honesty be no puritan, yet it will do no hurt; it will
wear the surplice of humility over the black gown of a big heart.
I am going, forsooth. The business is for Helen to come hither.
COUNTESS. Well, now.
STEWARD. I know, madam, you love your gentlewoman entirely.
COUNTESS. Faith I do. Her father bequeath'd her to me; and she
herself, without other advantage, may lawfully make title to as
much love as she finds. There is more owing her than is paid; and
more shall be paid her than she'll demand.
STEWARD. Madam, I was very late more near her than I think she
wish'd me. Alone she was, and did communicate to herself her own
words to her own ears; she thought, I dare vow for her, they
touch'd not any stranger sense. Her matter was, she loved your
son. Fortune, she said, was no goddess, that had put such
difference betwixt their two estates; Love no god, that would not
extend his might only where qualities were level; Diana no queen
of virgins, that would suffer her poor knight surpris'd without
rescue in the first assault, or ransom afterward. This she
deliver'd in the most bitter touch of sorrow that e'er I heard
virgin exclaim in; which I held my duty speedily to acquaint you
withal; sithence, in the loss that may happen, it concerns you
something to know it.
COUNTESS. YOU have discharg'd this honestly; keep it to yourself.
Many likelihoods inform'd me of this before, which hung so
tott'ring in the balance that I could neither believe nor
misdoubt. Pray you leave me. Stall this in your bosom; and I
thank you for your honest care. I will speak with you further
anon. Exit STEWARD


Even so it was with me when I was young.
If ever we are nature's, these are ours; this thorn
Doth to our rose of youth rightly belong;
Our blood to us, this to our blood is born.
It is the show and seal of nature's truth,
Where love's strong passion is impress'd in youth.
By our remembrances of days foregone,
Such were our faults, or then we thought them none.
Her eye is sick on't; I observe her now.
HELENA. What is your pleasure, madam?
COUNTESS. You know, Helen,
I am a mother to you.
HELENA. Mine honourable mistress.
COUNTESS. Nay, a mother.
Why not a mother? When I said 'a mother,'
Methought you saw a serpent. What's in 'mother'
That you start at it? I say I am your mother,
And put you in the catalogue of those
That were enwombed mine. 'Tis often seen
Adoption strives with nature, and choice breeds
A native slip to us from foreign seeds.
You ne'er oppress'd me with a mother's groan,
Yet I express to you a mother's care.
God's mercy, maiden! does it curd thy blood
To say I am thy mother? What's the matter,
That this distempered messenger of wet,
The many-colour'd Iris, rounds thine eye?
Why, that you are my daughter?
HELENA. That I am not.
COUNTESS. I say I am your mother.
HELENA. Pardon, madam.
The Count Rousillon cannot be my brother:
I am from humble, he from honoured name;
No note upon my parents, his all noble.
My master, my dear lord he is; and I
His servant live, and will his vassal die.
He must not be my brother.
COUNTESS. Nor I your mother?
HELENA. You are my mother, madam; would you were-
So that my lord your son were not my brother-
Indeed my mother! Or were you both our mothers,
I care no more for than I do for heaven,
So I were not his sister. Can't no other,
But, I your daughter, he must be my brother?
COUNTESS. Yes, Helen, you might be my daughter-in-law.
God shield you mean it not! 'daughter' and 'mother'
So strive upon your pulse. What! pale again?
My fear hath catch'd your fondness. Now I see
The myst'ry of your loneliness, and find
Your salt tears' head. Now to all sense 'tis gross
You love my son; invention is asham'd,
Against the proclamation of thy passion,
To say thou dost not. Therefore tell me true;
But tell me then, 'tis so; for, look, thy cheeks
Confess it, th' one to th' other; and thine eyes
See it so grossly shown in thy behaviours
That in their kind they speak it; only sin
And hellish obstinacy tie thy tongue,
That truth should be suspected. Speak, is't so?
If it be so, you have wound a goodly clew;
If it be not, forswear't; howe'er, I charge thee,
As heaven shall work in me for thine avail,
To tell me truly.
HELENA. Good madam, pardon me.
COUNTESS. Do you love my son?
HELENA. Your pardon, noble mistress.
COUNTESS. Love you my son?
HELENA. Do not you love him, madam?
COUNTESS. Go not about; my love hath in't a bond
Whereof the world takes note. Come, come, disclose
The state of your affection; for your passions
Have to the full appeach'd.
HELENA. Then I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,
I love your son.
My friends were poor, but honest; so's my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is lov'd of me; I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him;
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this captious and intenible sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love,
And lack not to lose still. Thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love,
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly that your Dian
Was both herself and Love; O, then, give pity
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But, riddle-like, lives sweetly where she dies!
COUNTESS. Had you not lately an intent-speak truly-
To go to Paris?
HELENA. Madam, I had.
COUNTESS. Wherefore? Tell true.
HELENA. I will tell truth; by grace itself I swear.
You know my father left me some prescriptions
Of rare and prov'd effects, such as his reading
And manifest experience had collected
For general sovereignty; and that he will'd me
In heedfull'st reservation to bestow them,
As notes whose faculties inclusive were
More than they were in note. Amongst the rest
There is a remedy, approv'd, set down,
To cure the desperate languishings whereof
The King is render'd lost.
COUNTESS. This was your motive
For Paris, was it? Speak.
HELENA. My lord your son made me to think of this,
Else Paris, and the medicine, and the King,
Had from the conversation of my thoughts
Haply been absent then.
COUNTESS. But think you, Helen,
If you should tender your supposed aid,
He would receive it? He and his physicians
Are of a mind: he, that they cannot help him;
They, that they cannot help. How shall they credit
A poor unlearned virgin, when the schools,
Embowell'd of their doctrine, have let off
The danger to itself?
HELENA. There's something in't
More than my father's skill, which was the great'st
Of his profession, that his good receipt
Shall for my legacy be sanctified
By th' luckiest stars in heaven; and, would your honour
But give me leave to try success, I'd venture
The well-lost life of mine on his Grace's cure.
By such a day and hour.
COUNTESS. Dost thou believe't?
HELENA. Ay, madam, knowingly.
COUNTESS. Why, Helen, thou shalt have my leave and love,
Means and attendants, and my loving greetings
To those of mine in court. I'll stay at home,
And pray God's blessing into thy attempt.
Be gone to-morrow; and be sure of this,
What I can help thee to thou shalt not miss. Exeunt


Paris. The KING'S palace

Flourish of cornets. Enter the KING with divers young LORDS taking leave
for the Florentine war; BERTRAM and PAROLLES; ATTENDANTS

KING. Farewell, young lords; these war-like principles
Do not throw from you. And you, my lords, farewell;
Share the advice betwixt you; if both gain all,
The gift doth stretch itself as 'tis receiv'd,
And is enough for both.
FIRST LORD. 'Tis our hope, sir,
After well-ent'red soldiers, to return
And find your Grace in health.
KING. No, no, it cannot be; and yet my heart
Will not confess he owes the malady
That doth my life besiege. Farewell, young lords;
Whether I live or die, be you the sons
Of worthy Frenchmen; let higher Italy-
Those bated that inherit but the fall
Of the last monarchy-see that you come
Not to woo honour, but to wed it; when
The bravest questant shrinks, find what you seek,
That fame may cry you aloud. I say farewell.
SECOND LORD. Health, at your bidding, serve your Majesty!
KING. Those girls of Italy, take heed of them;
They say our French lack language to deny,
If they demand; beware of being captives
Before you serve.
BOTH. Our hearts receive your warnings.
KING. Farewell. [To ATTENDANTS] Come hither to me.
The KING retires attended
FIRST LORD. O my sweet lord, that you will stay behind us!
PAROLLES. 'Tis not his fault, the spark.
SECOND LORD. O, 'tis brave wars!
PAROLLES. Most admirable! I have seen those wars.
BERTRAM. I am commanded here and kept a coil with
'Too young' and next year' and "Tis too early.'
PAROLLES. An thy mind stand to 't, boy, steal away bravely.
BERTRAM. I shall stay here the forehorse to a smock,
Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry,
Till honour be bought up, and no sword worn
But one to dance with. By heaven, I'll steal away.
FIRST LORD. There's honour in the theft.
PAROLLES. Commit it, Count.
SECOND LORD. I am your accessary; and so farewell.
BERTRAM. I grow to you, and our parting is a tortur'd body.
FIRST LORD. Farewell, Captain.
SECOND LORD. Sweet Monsieur Parolles!
PAROLLES. Noble heroes, my sword and yours are kin. Good sparks and
lustrous, a word, good metals: you shall find in the regiment of
the Spinii one Captain Spurio, with his cicatrice, an emblem of
war, here on his sinister cheek; it was this very sword
entrench'd it. Say to him I live; and observe his reports for me.
FIRST LORD. We shall, noble Captain.
PAROLLES. Mars dote on you for his novices! Exeunt LORDS
What will ye do?

Re-enter the KING

BERTRAM. Stay; the King!
PAROLLES. Use a more spacious ceremony to the noble lords; you have
restrain'd yourself within the list of too cold an adieu. Be more
expressive to them; for they wear themselves in the cap of the
time; there do muster true gait; eat, speak, and move, under the
influence of the most receiv'd star; and though the devil lead
the measure, such are to be followed. After them, and take a more
dilated farewell.
BERTRAM. And I will do so.
PAROLLES. Worthy fellows; and like to prove most sinewy sword-men.


LAFEU. [Kneeling] Pardon, my lord, for me and for my tidings.
KING. I'll fee thee to stand up.
LAFEU. Then here's a man stands that has brought his pardon.
I would you had kneel'd, my lord, to ask me mercy;
And that at my bidding you could so stand up.
KING. I would I had; so I had broke thy pate,
And ask'd thee mercy for't.
LAFEU. Good faith, across!
But, my good lord, 'tis thus: will you be cur'd
Of your infirmity?
LAFEU. O, will you eat
No grapes, my royal fox? Yes, but you will
My noble grapes, an if my royal fox
Could reach them: I have seen a medicine
That's able to breathe life into a stone,
Quicken a rock, and make you dance canary
With spritely fire and motion; whose simple touch
Is powerful to araise King Pepin, nay,
To give great Charlemain a pen in's hand
And write to her a love-line.
KING. What her is this?
LAFEU. Why, Doctor She! My lord, there's one arriv'd,
If you will see her. Now, by my faith and honour,
If seriously I may convey my thoughts
In this my light deliverance, I have spoke
With one that in her sex, her years, profession,
Wisdom, and constancy, hath amaz'd me more
Than I dare blame my weakness. Will you see her,
For that is her demand, and know her business?
That done, laugh well at me.
KING. Now, good Lafeu,
Bring in the admiration, that we with the
May spend our wonder too, or take off thine
By wond'ring how thou took'st it.
LAFEU. Nay, I'll fit you,
And not be all day neither. Exit LAFEU
KING. Thus he his special nothing ever prologues.

Re-enter LAFEU with HELENA

LAFEU. Nay, come your ways.
KING. This haste hath wings indeed.
LAFEU. Nay, come your ways;
This is his Majesty; say your mind to him.
A traitor you do look like; but such traitors
His Majesty seldom fears. I am Cressid's uncle,
That dare leave two together. Fare you well. Exit
KING. Now, fair one, does your business follow us?
HELENA. Ay, my good lord.
Gerard de Narbon was my father,
In what he did profess, well found.
KING. I knew him.
HELENA. The rather will I spare my praises towards him;
Knowing him is enough. On's bed of death
Many receipts he gave me; chiefly one,
Which, as the dearest issue of his practice,
And of his old experience th' only darling,
He bade me store up as a triple eye,
Safer than mine own two, more dear. I have so:
And, hearing your high Majesty is touch'd
With that malignant cause wherein the honour
Of my dear father's gift stands chief in power,
I come to tender it, and my appliance,
With all bound humbleness.
KING. We thank you, maiden;
But may not be so credulous of cure,
When our most learned doctors leave us, and
The congregated college have concluded
That labouring art can never ransom nature
From her inaidable estate-I say we must not
So stain our judgment, or corrupt our hope,
To prostitute our past-cure malady
To empirics; or to dissever so
Our great self and our credit to esteem
A senseless help, when help past sense we deem.
HELENA. My duty then shall pay me for my pains.
I will no more enforce mine office on you;
Humbly entreating from your royal thoughts
A modest one to bear me back again.
KING. I cannot give thee less, to be call'd grateful.
Thou thought'st to help me; and such thanks I give
As one near death to those that wish him live.
But what at full I know, thou know'st no part;
I knowing all my peril, thou no art.
HELENA. What I can do can do no hurt to try,
Since you set up your rest 'gainst remedy.
He that of greatest works is finisher
Oft does them by the weakest minister.
So holy writ in babes hath judgment shown,
When judges have been babes. Great floods have flown
From simple sources, and great seas have dried
When miracles have by the greatest been denied.
Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
Where most it promises; and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest, and despair most fits.
KING. I must not hear thee. Fare thee well, kind maid;
Thy pains, not us'd, must by thyself be paid;
Proffers not took reap thanks for their reward.
HELENA. Inspired merit so by breath is barr'd.
It is not so with Him that all things knows,
As 'tis with us that square our guess by shows;
But most it is presumption in us when
The help of heaven we count the act of men.
Dear sir, to my endeavours give consent;
Of heaven, not me, make an experiment.
I am not an impostor, that proclaim
Myself against the level of mine aim;
But know I think, and think I know most sure,
My art is not past power nor you past cure.
KING. Art thou so confident? Within what space
Hop'st thou my cure?
HELENA. The greatest Grace lending grace.
Ere twice the horses of the sun shall bring
Their fiery torcher his diurnal ring,
Ere twice in murk and occidental damp
Moist Hesperus hath quench'd his sleepy lamp,
Or four and twenty times the pilot's glass
Hath told the thievish minutes how they pass,
What is infirm from your sound parts shall fly,
Health shall live free, and sickness freely die.
KING. Upon thy certainty and confidence
What dar'st thou venture?
HELENA. Tax of impudence,
A strumpet's boldness, a divulged shame,
Traduc'd by odious ballads; my maiden's name
Sear'd otherwise; ne worse of worst-extended
With vilest torture let my life be ended.
KING. Methinks in thee some blessed spirit doth speak
His powerful sound within an organ weak;
And what impossibility would slay
In common sense, sense saves another way.
Thy life is dear; for all that life can rate
Worth name of life in thee hath estimate:
Youth, beauty, wisdom, courage, all
That happiness and prime can happy call.
Thou this to hazard needs must intimate
Skill infinite or monstrous desperate.
Sweet practiser, thy physic I will try,
That ministers thine own death if I die.
HELENA. If I break time, or flinch in property
Of what I spoke, unpitied let me die;
And well deserv'd. Not helping, death's my fee;
But, if I help, what do you promise me?
KING. Make thy demand.
HELENA. But will you make it even?
KING. Ay, by my sceptre and my hopes of heaven.
HELENA. Then shalt thou give me with thy kingly hand
What husband in thy power I will command.
Exempted be from me the arrogance
To choose from forth the royal blood of France,
My low and humble name to propagate
With any branch or image of thy state;
But such a one, thy vassal, whom I know
Is free for me to ask, thee to bestow.
KING. Here is my hand; the premises observ'd,
Thy will by my performance shall be serv'd.
So make the choice of thy own time, for I,
Thy resolv'd patient, on thee still rely.
More should I question thee, and more I must,
Though more to know could not be more to trust,
From whence thou cam'st, how tended on. But rest
Unquestion'd welcome and undoubted blest.
Give me some help here, ho! If thou proceed
As high as word, my deed shall match thy deed.
[Flourish. Exeunt]

Rousillon. The COUNT'S palace


COUNTESS. Come on, sir; I shall now put you to the height of your
CLOWN. I will show myself highly fed and lowly taught. I know my
business is but to the court.
COUNTESS. To the court! Why, what place make you special, when you
put off that with such contempt? But to the court!
CLOWN. 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.
COUNTESS. Marry, that's a bountiful answer that fits all questions.
CLOWN. It is like a barber's chair, that fits all buttocks-the pin
buttock, the quatch buttock, the brawn buttock, or any buttock.
COUNTESS. Will your answer serve fit to all questions?
CLOWN. 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 Mayday,
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.
COUNTESS. Have you, I, say, an answer of such fitness for all
CLOWN. From below your duke to beneath your constable, it will fit
any question.
COUNTESS. It must be an answer of most monstrous size that must fit
all demands.
CLOWN. 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.
COUNTESS. 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?
CLOWN. O Lord, sir!-There's a simple putting off. More, more, a
hundred of them.
COUNTESS. Sir, I am a poor friend of yours, that loves you.
CLOWN. O Lord, sir!-Thick, thick; spare not me.
COUNTESS. I think, sir, you can eat none of this homely meat.
CLOWN. O Lord, sir!-Nay, put me to't, I warrant you.
COUNTESS. You were lately whipp'd, sir, as I think.
CLOWN. O Lord, sir!-Spare not me.
COUNTESS. 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.
CLOWN. I ne'er had worse luck in my life in my 'O Lord, sir!' I see
thing's may serve long, but not serve ever.
COUNTESS. I play the noble housewife with the time,
To entertain it so merrily with a fool.
CLOWN. O Lord, sir!-Why, there't serves well again.
COUNTESS. 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.
CLOWN. Not much commendation to them?
COUNTESS. Not much employment for you. You understand me?
CLOWN. Most fruitfully; I am there before my legs.
COUNTESS. Haste you again. Exeunt

Paris. The KING'S palace


LAFEU. 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.
PAROLLES. Why, 'tis the rarest argument of wonder that hath shot
out in our latter times.
BERTRAM. And so 'tis.
LAFEU. To be relinquish'd of the artists-
PAROLLES. So I say-both of Galen and Paracelsus.
LAFEU. Of all the learned and authentic fellows-
PAROLLES. Right; so I say.
LAFEU. That gave him out incurable-
PAROLLES. Why, there 'tis; so say I too.
LAFEU. Not to be help'd-
PAROLLES. Right; as 'twere a man assur'd of a-
LAFEU. Uncertain life and sure death.
PAROLLES. Just; you say well; so would I have said.
LAFEU. I may truly say it is a novelty to the world.
PAROLLES. It is indeed. If you will have it in showing, you shall
read it in what-do-ye-call't here.
LAFEU. [Reading the ballad title] 'A Showing of a Heavenly
Effect in an Earthly Actor.'
PAROLLES. That's it; I would have said the very same.
LAFEU. Why, your dolphin is not lustier. 'Fore me, I speak in
PAROLLES. 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-
LAFEU. Very hand of heaven.
PAROLLES. Ay; so I say.
LAFEU. In a most weak-
PAROLLES. 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-
LAFEU. Generally thankful.


PAROLLES. I would have said it; you say well. Here comes the King.
LAFEU. 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
PAROLLES. Mort du vinaigre! Is not this Helen?
LAFEU. 'Fore God, I think so.
KING. 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 has 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.
HELENA. To each of you one fair and virtuous mistress
Fall, when love please. Marry, to each but one!
LAFEU. I'd give bay Curtal and his furniture
My mouth no more were broken than these boys',
And writ as little beard.
KING. Peruse them well.
Not one of those but had a noble father.
HELENA. Gentlemen,
Heaven hath through me restor'd the King to health.
ALL. We understand it, and thank heaven for you.
HELENA. 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 for ever,
We'll ne'er come there again.'
KING. Make choice and see:
Who shuns thy love shuns all his love in me.
HELENA. Now, Dian, from thy altar do I fly,
And to imperial Love, that god most high,
Do my sighs stream. Sir, will you hear my suit?
FIRST LORD. And grant it.
HELENA. Thanks, sir; all the rest is mute.
LAFEU. I had rather be in this choice than throw ames-ace for my
HELENA. The honour, 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!
SECOND LORD. No better, if you please.
HELENA. My wish receive,
Which great Love grant; and so I take my leave.
LAFEU. Do all they deny her? An they were sons of mine I'd have
them whipt; or I would send them to th' Turk to make eunuchs of.
HELENA. 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!
LAFEU. These boys are boys of ice; they'll none have her.
Sure, they are bastards to the English; the French ne'er got 'em.
HELENA. You are too young, too happy, and too good,
To make yourself a son out of my blood.
FOURTH LORD. Fair one, I think not so.
LAFEU. 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.
HELENA. [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.
KING. Why, then, young Bertram, take her; she's thy wife.
BERTRAM. My wife, my liege! I shall beseech your Highness,
In such a business give me leave to use
The help of mine own eyes.
KING. Know'st thou not, Bertram,
What she has done for me?
BERTRAM. Yes, my good lord;
But never hope to know why I should marry her.
KING. Thou know'st she has rais'd me from my sickly bed.
BERTRAM. 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!
KING. 'Tis only title thou disdain'st in her, the which
I can build up. Strange is it that our bloods,
Of colour, weight, and heat, pour'd all together,
Would quite confound distinction, yet stand 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 the doer's deed;
Where great additions swell's, and virtue none,
It is a dropsied honour. 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 honour. That is honour's scorn
Which challenges itself as honour's born
And is not like the sire. Honours thrive
When rather from our acts we them derive
Than our fore-goers. The mere word's a slave,
Debauch'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 honour'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; honour and wealth from me.
BERTRAM. I cannot love her, nor will strive to do 't.
KING. Thou wrong'st thyself, if thou shouldst strive to choose.
HELENA. That you are well restor'd, my lord, I'm glad.
Let the rest go.
KING. My honour'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 honour 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 for ever
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.
BERTRAM. Pardon, my gracious lord; for I submit
My fancy to your eyes. When I consider
What great creation and what dole of honour
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.
KING. 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.
BERTRAM. I take her hand.
KING. Good fortune and the favour of the King
Smile upon this contract; whose ceremony
Shall seem expedient on the now-born brief,
And be perform'd to-night. 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.
Exeunt all but LAFEU and PAROLLES who stay behind,
commenting of this wedding
LAFEU. Do you hear, monsieur? A word with you.
PAROLLES. Your pleasure, sir?
LAFEU. Your lord and master did well to make his recantation.
PAROLLES. Recantation! My Lord! my master!
LAFEU. Ay; is it not a language I speak?
PAROLLES. A most harsh one, and not to be understood without bloody
succeeding. My master!
LAFEU. Are you companion to the Count Rousillon?
PAROLLES. To any count; to all counts; to what is man.
LAFEU. To what is count's man: count's master is of another style.
PAROLLES. You are too old, sir; let it satisfy you, you are too
LAFEU. I must tell thee, sirrah, I write man; to which title age
cannot bring thee.
PAROLLES. What I dare too well do, I dare not do.
LAFEU. 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
PAROLLES. Hadst thou not the privilege of antiquity upon thee-
LAFEU. 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.
PAROLLES. My lord, you give me most egregious indignity.
LAFEU. Ay, with all my heart; and thou art worthy of it.
PAROLLES. I have not, my lord, deserv'd it.
LAFEU. Yes, good faith, ev'ry dram of it; and I will not bate thee
a scruple.
PAROLLES. Well, I shall be wiser.
LAFEU. Ev'n as soon as thou canst, for thou hast to pull at a smack
o' th' contrary. If ever thou be'st bound in thy scarf and
beaten, thou shalt 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.'
PAROLLES. My lord, you do me most insupportable vexation.
LAFEU. 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. Exit
PAROLLES. 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, an 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.

Re-enter LAFEU

LAFEU. Sirrah, your lord and master's married; there's news for
you; you have a new mistress.
PAROLLES. 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.
LAFEU. Who? God?
PAROLLES. Ay, sir.
LAFEU. The devil it is that's thy master. Why dost thou garter up
thy arms o' 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 honour, if I were but two hours younger, I'd beat
thee. Methink'st thou art a general offence, and every man should
beat thee. I think thou wast created for men to breathe
themselves upon thee.
PAROLLES. This is hard and undeserved measure, my lord.
LAFEU. Go to, sir; you were beaten in Italy for picking a kernel
out of a pomegranate; you are a vagabond, and no true traveller;
you are more saucy with lords and honourable 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.


PAROLLES. Good, very, good, it is so then. Good, very good; let it
be conceal'd awhile.
BERTRAM. Undone, and forfeited to cares for ever!
PAROLLES. What's the matter, sweetheart?
BERTRAM. Although before the solemn priest I have sworn,
I will not bed her.
PAROLLES. What, what, sweetheart?
BERTRAM. O my Parolles, they have married me!
I'll to the Tuscan wars, and never bed her.
PAROLLES. France is a dog-hole, and it no more merits
The tread of a man's foot. To th' wars!
BERTRAM. There's letters from my mother; what th' import is I know
not yet.
PAROLLES. Ay, that would be known. To th' wars, my boy, to th'
He wears his honour 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!
BERTRAM. 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. War is no strife
To the dark house and the detested wife.
PAROLLES. Will this capriccio hold in thee, art sure?
BERTRAM. Go with me to my chamber and advise me.
I'll send her straight away. To-morrow
I'll to the wars, she to her single sorrow.
PAROLLES. 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. Exeunt

Paris. The KING'S palace


HELENA. My mother greets me kindly; is she well?
CLOWN. She is not well, but yet she has her health; she's very
merry, but yet she is not well. But thanks be given, she's very
well, and wants nothing i' th' world; but yet she is not well.
HELENA. If she be very well, what does she ail that she's not very
CLOWN. Truly, she's very well indeed, but for two things.
HELENA. What two things?
CLOWN. One, that she's not in heaven, whither God send her quickly!
The other, that she's in earth, from whence God send her quickly!


PAROLLES. Bless you, my fortunate lady!
HELENA. I hope, sir, I have your good will to have mine own good
PAROLLES. You had my prayers to lead them on; and to keep them on,
have them still. O, my knave, how does my old lady?
CLOWN. So that you had her wrinkles and I her money, I would she
did as you say.
PAROLLES. Why, I say nothing.
CLOWN. Marry, you are the wiser man; for many a man's tongue shakes
out his master's undoing. To say nothing, to do nothing, to know
nothing, and to have nothing, is to be a great part of your
title, which is within a very little of nothing.
PAROLLES. Away! th'art a knave.
CLOWN. You should have said, sir, 'Before a knave th'art a knave';
that's 'Before me th'art a knave.' This had been truth, sir.
PAROLLES. Go to, thou art a witty fool; I have found thee.
CLOWN. Did you find me in yourself, sir, or were you taught to find
me? The search, sir, was profitable; and much fool may you find
in you, even to the world's pleasure and the increase of
PAROLLES. A good knave, i' faith, and well fed.
Madam, my lord will go away to-night:
A very serious business calls on him.
The great prerogative and rite of love,
Which, as your due, time claims, he does acknowledge;
But puts it off to a compell'd restraint;
Whose want, and whose delay, is strew'd with sweets,
Which they distil now in the curbed time,
To make the coming hour o'erflow with joy
And pleasure drown the brim.
HELENA. What's his else?
PAROLLES. That you will take your instant leave o' th' King,
And make this haste as your own good proceeding,
Strength'ned with what apology you think
May make it probable need.
HELENA. What more commands he?
PAROLLES. That, having this obtain'd, you presently
Attend his further pleasure.
HELENA. In everything I wait upon his will.
PAROLLES. I shall report it so.
HELENA. I pray you. Exit PAROLLES
Come, sirrah. Exeunt

Paris. The KING'S palace


LAFEU. But I hope your lordship thinks not him a soldier.
BERTRAM. Yes, my lord, and of very valiant approof.
LAFEU. You have it from his own deliverance.
BERTRAM. And by other warranted testimony.
LAFEU. Then my dial goes not true; I took this lark for a bunting.
BERTRAM. I do assure you, my lord, he is very great in knowledge,
and accordingly valiant.
LAFEU. I have then sinn'd against his experience and transgress'd
against his valour; and my state that way is dangerous, since I

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