All’s Well That Ends Well, ACT IV
SCENE I. Without the Florentine camp.
Enter Second French Lord, with five or six other Soldiers in ambush
He can come no other way but by this hedge-corner.
When you sally upon him, speak what terrible
language you will: though you understand it not
yourselves, no matter; for we must not seem to
understand him, unless some one among us whom we
must produce for an interpreter.
Good captain, let me be the interpreter.
Art not acquainted with him? knows he not thy voice?
No, sir, I warrant you.
But what linsey-woolsey hast thou to speak to us again?
E’en such as you speak to me.
He must think us some band of strangers i’ the
adversary’s entertainment. Now he hath a smack of
all neighbouring languages; therefore we must every
one be a man of his own fancy, not to know what we
speak one to another; so we seem to know, is to
know straight our purpose: choughs’ language,
gabble enough, and good enough. As for you,
interpreter, you must seem very politic. But couch,
ho! here he comes, to beguile two hours in a sleep,
and then to return and swear the lies he forges.
Ten o’clock: within these three hours ’twill be
time enough to go home. What shall I say I have
done? It must be a very plausive invention that
carries it: they begin to smoke me; and disgraces
have of late knocked too often at my door. I find
my tongue is too foolhardy; but my heart hath the
fear of Mars before it and of his creatures, not
daring the reports of my tongue.
This is the first truth that e’er thine own tongue
was guilty of.
What the devil should move me to undertake the
recovery of this drum, being not ignorant of the
impossibility, and knowing I had no such purpose? I
must give myself some hurts, and say I got them in
exploit: yet slight ones will not carry it; they
will say, ‘Came you off with so little?’ and great
ones I dare not give. Wherefore, what’s the
instance? Tongue, I must put you into a
butter-woman’s mouth and buy myself another of
Bajazet’s mule, if you prattle me into these perils.
Is it possible he should know what he is, and be
that he is?
I would the cutting of my garments would serve the
turn, or the breaking of my Spanish sword.
We cannot afford you so.
Or the baring of my beard; and to say it was in
‘Twould not do.
Or to drown my clothes, and say I was stripped.
Though I swore I leaped from the window of the citadel.
Three great oaths would scarce make that be believed.
I would I had any drum of the enemy’s: I would swear
I recovered it.
You shall hear one anon.
A drum now of the enemy’s,–
Throca movousus, cargo, cargo, cargo.
Cargo, cargo, cargo, villiando par corbo, cargo.
O, ransom, ransom! do not hide mine eyes.
They seize and blindfold him
Boskos thromuldo boskos.
I know you are the Muskos’ regiment:
And I shall lose my life for want of language;
If there be here German, or Dane, low Dutch,
Italian, or French, let him speak to me; I’ll
Discover that which shall undo the Florentine.
Boskos vauvado: I understand thee, and can speak
thy tongue. Kerely bonto, sir, betake thee to thy
faith, for seventeen poniards are at thy bosom.
O, pray, pray, pray! Manka revania dulche.
The general is content to spare thee yet;
And, hoodwink’d as thou art, will lead thee on
To gather from thee: haply thou mayst inform
Something to save thy life.
O, let me live!
And all the secrets of our camp I’ll show,
Their force, their purposes; nay, I’ll speak that
Which you will wonder at.
But wilt thou faithfully?
If I do not, damn me.
Come on; thou art granted space.
Exit, with PAROLLES guarded. A short alarum within
Go, tell the Count Rousillon, and my brother,
We have caught the woodcock, and will keep him muffled
Till we do hear from them.
Captain, I will.
A’ will betray us all unto ourselves:
Inform on that.
So I will, sir.
Till then I’ll keep him dark and safely lock’d.
SCENE II. Florence. The Widow’s house.
Enter BERTRAM and DIANA
They told me that your name was Fontibell.
No, my good lord, Diana.
And worth it, with addition! But, fair soul,
In your fine frame hath love no quality?
If quick fire of youth light not your mind,
You are no maiden, but a monument:
When you are dead, you should be such a one
As you are now, for you are cold and stem;
And now you should be as your mother was
When your sweet self was got.
She then was honest.
So should you be.
My mother did but duty; such, my lord,
As you owe to your wife.
No more o’ that;
I prithee, do not strive against my vows:
I was compell’d to her; but I love thee
By love’s own sweet constraint, and will for ever
Do thee all rights of service.
Ay, so you serve us
Till we serve you; but when you have our roses,
You barely leave our thorns to prick ourselves
And mock us with our bareness.
How have I sworn!
‘Tis not the many oaths that makes the truth,
But the plain single vow that is vow’d true.
What is not holy, that we swear not by,
But take the High’st to witness: then, pray you, tell me,
If I should swear by God’s great attributes,
I loved you dearly, would you believe my oaths,
When I did love you ill? This has no holding,
To swear by him whom I protest to love,
That I will work against him: therefore your oaths
Are words and poor conditions, but unseal’d,
At least in my opinion.
Change it, change it;
Be not so holy-cruel: love is holy;
And my integrity ne’er knew the crafts
That you do charge men with. Stand no more off,
But give thyself unto my sick desires,
Who then recover: say thou art mine, and ever
My love as it begins shall so persever.
I see that men make ropes in such a scarre
That we’ll forsake ourselves. Give me that ring.
I’ll lend it thee, my dear; but have no power
To give it from me.
Will you not, my lord?
It is an honour ‘longing to our house,
Bequeathed down from many ancestors;
Which were the greatest obloquy i’ the world
In me to lose.
Mine honour’s such a ring:
My chastity’s the jewel of our house,
Bequeathed down from many ancestors;
Which were the greatest obloquy i’ the world
In me to lose: thus your own proper wisdom
Brings in the champion Honour on my part,
Against your vain assault.
Here, take my ring:
My house, mine honour, yea, my life, be thine,
And I’ll be bid by thee.
When midnight comes, knock at my chamber-window:
I’ll order take my mother shall not hear.
Now will I charge you in the band of truth,
When you have conquer’d my yet maiden bed,
Remain there but an hour, nor speak to me:
My reasons are most strong; and you shall know them
When back again this ring shall be deliver’d:
And on your finger in the night I’ll put
Another ring, that what in time proceeds
May token to the future our past deeds.
Adieu, till then; then, fail not. You have won
A wife of me, though there my hope be done.
A heaven on earth I have won by wooing thee.
For which live long to thank both heaven and me!
You may so in the end.
My mother told me just how he would woo,
As if she sat in ‘s heart; she says all men
Have the like oaths: he had sworn to marry me
When his wife’s dead; therefore I’ll lie with him
When I am buried. Since Frenchmen are so braid,
Marry that will, I live and die a maid:
Only in this disguise I think’t no sin
To cozen him that would unjustly win.
SCENE III. The Florentine camp.
Enter the two French Lords and some two or three Soldiers
You have not given him his mother’s letter?
I have delivered it an hour since: there is
something in’t that stings his nature; for on the
reading it he changed almost into another man.
He has much worthy blame laid upon him for shaking
off so good a wife and so sweet a lady.
Especially he hath incurred the everlasting
displeasure of the king, who had even tuned his
bounty to sing happiness to him. I will tell you a
thing, but you shall let it dwell darkly with you.
When you have spoken it, ’tis dead, and I am the
grave of it.
He hath perverted a young gentlewoman here in
Florence, of a most chaste renown; and this night he
fleshes his will in the spoil of her honour: he hath
given her his monumental ring, and thinks himself
made in the unchaste composition.
Now, God delay our rebellion! as we are ourselves,
what things are we!
Merely our own traitors. And as in the common course
of all treasons, we still see them reveal
themselves, till they attain to their abhorred ends,
so he that in this action contrives against his own
nobility, in his proper stream o’erflows himself.
Is it not meant damnable in us, to be trumpeters of
our unlawful intents? We shall not then have his
Not till after midnight; for he is dieted to his hour.
That approaches apace; I would gladly have him see
his company anatomized, that he might take a measure
of his own judgments, wherein so curiously he had
set this counterfeit.
We will not meddle with him till he come; for his
presence must be the whip of the other.
In the mean time, what hear you of these wars?
I hear there is an overture of peace.
Nay, I assure you, a peace concluded.
What will Count Rousillon do then? will he travel
higher, or return again into France?
I perceive, by this demand, you are not altogether
of his council.
Let it be forbid, sir; so should I be a great deal
of his act.
Sir, his wife some two months since fled from his
house: her pretence is a pilgrimage to Saint Jaques
le Grand; which holy undertaking with most austere
sanctimony she accomplished; and, there residing the
tenderness of her nature became as a prey to her
grief; in fine, made a groan of her last breath, and
now she sings in heaven.
How is this justified?
The stronger part of it by her own letters, which
makes her story true, even to the point of her
death: her death itself, which could not be her
office to say is come, was faithfully confirmed by
the rector of the place.
Hath the count all this intelligence?
Ay, and the particular confirmations, point from
point, so to the full arming of the verity.
I am heartily sorry that he’ll be glad of this.
How mightily sometimes we make us comforts of our losses!
And how mightily some other times we drown our gain
in tears! The great dignity that his valour hath
here acquired for him shall at home be encountered
with a shame as ample.
The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and
ill together: our virtues would be proud, if our
faults whipped them not; and our crimes would
despair, if they were not cherished by our virtues.
Enter a Messenger
How now! where’s your master?
He met the duke in the street, sir, of whom he hath
taken a solemn leave: his lordship will next
morning for France. The duke hath offered him
letters of commendations to the king.
They shall be no more than needful there, if they
were more than they can commend.
They cannot be too sweet for the king’s tartness.
Here’s his lordship now.
How now, my lord! is’t not after midnight?
I have to-night dispatched sixteen businesses, a
month’s length a-piece, by an abstract of success:
I have congied with the duke, done my adieu with his
nearest; buried a wife, mourned for her; writ to my
lady mother I am returning; entertained my convoy;
and between these main parcels of dispatch effected
many nicer needs; the last was the greatest, but
that I have not ended yet.
If the business be of any difficulty, and this
morning your departure hence, it requires haste of
I mean, the business is not ended, as fearing to
hear of it hereafter. But shall we have this
dialogue between the fool and the soldier? Come,
bring forth this counterfeit module, he has deceived
me, like a double-meaning prophesier.
Bring him forth: has sat i’ the stocks all night,
poor gallant knave.
No matter: his heels have deserved it, in usurping
his spurs so long. How does he carry himself?
I have told your lordship already, the stocks carry
him. But to answer you as you would be understood;
he weeps like a wench that had shed her milk: he
hath confessed himself to Morgan, whom he supposes
to be a friar, from the time of his remembrance to
this very instant disaster of his setting i’ the
stocks: and what think you he hath confessed?
Nothing of me, has a’?
His confession is taken, and it shall be read to his
face: if your lordship be in’t, as I believe you
are, you must have the patience to hear it.
Enter PAROLLES guarded, and First Soldier
A plague upon him! muffled! he can say nothing of
me: hush, hush!
Hoodman comes! Portotartarosa
He calls for the tortures: what will you say
I will confess what I know without constraint: if
ye pinch me like a pasty, I can say no more.
You are a merciful general. Our general bids you
answer to what I shall ask you out of a note.
And truly, as I hope to live.
[Reads] ‘First demand of him how many horse the
duke is strong.’ What say you to that?
Five or six thousand; but very weak and
unserviceable: the troops are all scattered, and
the commanders very poor rogues, upon my reputation
and credit and as I hope to live.
Shall I set down your answer so?
Do: I’ll take the sacrament on’t, how and which way you will.
All’s one to him. What a past-saving slave is this!
You’re deceived, my lord: this is Monsieur
Parolles, the gallant militarist,–that was his own
phrase,–that had the whole theoric of war in the
knot of his scarf, and the practise in the chape of
I will never trust a man again for keeping his sword
clean. nor believe he can have every thing in him
by wearing his apparel neatly.
Well, that’s set down.
Five or six thousand horse, I said,– I will say
true,–or thereabouts, set down, for I’ll speak truth.
He’s very near the truth in this.
But I con him no thanks for’t, in the nature he
Poor rogues, I pray you, say.
Well, that’s set down.
I humbly thank you, sir: a truth’s a truth, the
rogues are marvellous poor.
[Reads] ‘Demand of him, of what strength they are
a-foot.’ What say you to that?
By my troth, sir, if I were to live this present
hour, I will tell true. Let me see: Spurio, a
hundred and fifty; Sebastian, so many; Corambus, so
many; Jaques, so many; Guiltian, Cosmo, Lodowick,
and Gratii, two hundred and fifty each; mine own
company, Chitopher, Vaumond, Bentii, two hundred and
fifty each: so that the muster-file, rotten and
sound, upon my life, amounts not to fifteen thousand
poll; half of the which dare not shake snow from off
their cassocks, lest they shake themselves to pieces.
What shall be done to him?
Nothing, but let him have thanks. Demand of him my
condition, and what credit I have with the duke.
Well, that’s set down.
‘You shall demand of him, whether one Captain Dumain
be i’ the camp, a Frenchman; what his reputation is
with the duke; what his valour, honesty, and
expertness in wars; or whether he thinks it were not
possible, with well-weighing sums of gold, to
corrupt him to revolt.’ What say you to this? what
do you know of it?
I beseech you, let me answer to the particular of
the inter’gatories: demand them singly.
Do you know this Captain Dumain?
I know him: a’ was a botcher’s ‘prentice in Paris,
from whence he was whipped for getting the shrieve’s
fool with child,–a dumb innocent, that could not
say him nay.
Nay, by your leave, hold your hands; though I know
his brains are forfeit to the next tile that falls.
Well, is this captain in the duke of Florence’s camp?
Upon my knowledge, he is, and lousy.
Nay look not so upon me; we shall hear of your
What is his reputation with the duke?
The duke knows him for no other but a poor officer
of mine; and writ to me this other day to turn him
out o’ the band: I think I have his letter in my pocket.
Marry, we’ll search.
In good sadness, I do not know; either it is there,
or it is upon a file with the duke’s other letters
in my tent.
Here ’tis; here’s a paper: shall I read it to you?
I do not know if it be it or no.
Our interpreter does it well.
[Reads] ‘Dian, the count’s a fool, and full of gold,’–
That is not the duke’s letter, sir; that is an
advertisement to a proper maid in Florence, one
Diana, to take heed of the allurement of one Count
Rousillon, a foolish idle boy, but for all that very
ruttish: I pray you, sir, put it up again.
Nay, I’ll read it first, by your favour.
My meaning in’t, I protest, was very honest in the
behalf of the maid; for I knew the young count to be
a dangerous and lascivious boy, who is a whale to
virginity and devours up all the fry it finds.
Damnable both-sides rogue!
[Reads] ‘When he swears oaths, bid him drop gold, and take it;
After he scores, he never pays the score:
Half won is match well made; match, and well make it;
He ne’er pays after-debts, take it before;
And say a soldier, Dian, told thee this,
Men are to mell with, boys are not to kiss:
For count of this, the count’s a fool, I know it,
Who pays before, but not when he does owe it.
Thine, as he vowed to thee in thine ear,
He shall be whipped through the army with this rhyme
This is your devoted friend, sir, the manifold
linguist and the armipotent soldier.
I could endure any thing before but a cat, and now
he’s a cat to me.
I perceive, sir, by the general’s looks, we shall be
fain to hang you.
My life, sir, in any case: not that I am afraid to
die; but that, my offences being many, I would
repent out the remainder of nature: let me live,
sir, in a dungeon, i’ the stocks, or any where, so I may live.
We’ll see what may be done, so you confess freely;
therefore, once more to this Captain Dumain: you
have answered to his reputation with the duke and to
his valour: what is his honesty?
He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister: for
rapes and ravishments he parallels Nessus: he
professes not keeping of oaths; in breaking ’em he
is stronger than Hercules: he will lie, sir, with
such volubility, that you would think truth were a
fool: drunkenness is his best virtue, for he will
be swine-drunk; and in his sleep he does little
harm, save to his bed-clothes about him; but they
know his conditions and lay him in straw. I have but
little more to say, sir, of his honesty: he has
every thing that an honest man should not have; what
an honest man should have, he has nothing.
I begin to love him for this.
For this description of thine honesty? A pox upon
him for me, he’s more and more a cat.
What say you to his expertness in war?
Faith, sir, he has led the drum before the English
tragedians; to belie him, I will not, and more of
his soldiership I know not; except, in that country
he had the honour to be the officer at a place there
called Mile-end, to instruct for the doubling of
files: I would do the man what honour I can, but of
this I am not certain.
He hath out-villained villany so far, that the
rarity redeems him.
A pox on him, he’s a cat still.
His qualities being at this poor price, I need not
to ask you if gold will corrupt him to revolt.
Sir, for a quart d’ecu he will sell the fee-simple
of his salvation, the inheritance of it; and cut the
entail from all remainders, and a perpetual
succession for it perpetually.
What’s his brother, the other Captain Dumain?
Why does be ask him of me?
E’en a crow o’ the same nest; not altogether so
great as the first in goodness, but greater a great
deal in evil: he excels his brother for a coward,
yet his brother is reputed one of the best that is:
in a retreat he outruns any lackey; marry, in coming
on he has the cramp.
If your life be saved, will you undertake to betray
Ay, and the captain of his horse, Count Rousillon.
I’ll whisper with the general, and know his pleasure.
[Aside] I’ll no more drumming; a plague of all
drums! Only to seem to deserve well, and to
beguile the supposition of that lascivious young boy
the count, have I run into this danger. Yet who
would have suspected an ambush where I was taken?
There is no remedy, sir, but you must die: the
general says, you that have so traitorously
discovered the secrets of your army and made such
pestiferous reports of men very nobly held, can
serve the world for no honest use; therefore you
must die. Come, headsman, off with his head.
O Lord, sir, let me live, or let me see my death!
That shall you, and take your leave of all your friends.
So, look about you: know you any here?
Good morrow, noble captain.
God bless you, Captain Parolles.
God save you, noble captain.
Captain, what greeting will you to my Lord Lafeu?
I am for France.
Good captain, will you give me a copy of the sonnet
you writ to Diana in behalf of the Count Rousillon?
an I were not a very coward, I’ld compel it of you:
but fare you well.
Exeunt BERTRAM and Lords
You are undone, captain, all but your scarf; that
has a knot on’t yet
Who cannot be crushed with a plot?
If you could find out a country where but women were
that had received so much shame, you might begin an
impudent nation. Fare ye well, sir; I am for France
too: we shall speak of you there.
Exit with Soldiers
Yet am I thankful: if my heart were great,
‘Twould burst at this. Captain I’ll be no more;
But I will eat and drink, and sleep as soft
As captain shall: simply the thing I am
Shall make me live. Who knows himself a braggart,
Let him fear this, for it will come to pass
that every braggart shall be found an ass.
Rust, sword? cool, blushes! and, Parolles, live
Safest in shame! being fool’d, by foolery thrive!
There’s place and means for every man alive.
I’ll after them.
SCENE IV. Florence. The Widow’s house.
Enter HELENA, Widow, and DIANA
That you may well perceive I have not wrong’d you,
One of the greatest in the Christian world
Shall be my surety; ‘fore whose throne ’tis needful,
Ere I can perfect mine intents, to kneel:
Time was, I did him a desired office,
Dear almost as his life; which gratitude
Through flinty Tartar’s bosom would peep forth,
And answer, thanks: I duly am inform’d
His grace is at Marseilles; to which place
We have convenient convoy. You must know
I am supposed dead: the army breaking,
My husband hies him home; where, heaven aiding,
And by the leave of my good lord the king,
We’ll be before our welcome.
You never had a servant to whose trust
Your business was more welcome.
Nor you, mistress,
Ever a friend whose thoughts more truly labour
To recompense your love: doubt not but heaven
Hath brought me up to be your daughter’s dower,
As it hath fated her to be my motive
And helper to a husband. But, O strange men!
That can such sweet use make of what they hate,
When saucy trusting of the cozen’d thoughts
Defiles the pitchy night: so lust doth play
With what it loathes for that which is away.
But more of this hereafter. You, Diana,
Under my poor instructions yet must suffer
Something in my behalf.
Let death and honesty
Go with your impositions, I am yours
Upon your will to suffer.
Yet, I pray you:
But with the word the time will bring on summer,
When briers shall have leaves as well as thorns,
And be as sweet as sharp. We must away;
Our wagon is prepared, and time revives us:
All’s well that ends well; still the fine’s the crown;
Whate’er the course, the end is the renown.
SCENE V. Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.
Enter COUNTESS, LAFEU, and Clown
No, no, no, your son was misled with a snipt-taffeta
fellow there, whose villanous saffron would have
made all the unbaked and doughy youth of a nation in
his colour: your daughter-in-law had been alive at
this hour, and your son here at home, more advanced
by the king than by that red-tailed humble-bee I speak of.
I would I had not known him; it was the death of the
most virtuous gentlewoman that ever nature had
praise for creating. If she had partaken of my
flesh, and cost me the dearest groans of a mother, I
could not have owed her a more rooted love.
‘Twas a good lady, ’twas a good lady: we may pick a
thousand salads ere we light on such another herb.
Indeed, sir, she was the sweet marjoram of the
salad, or rather, the herb of grace.
They are not herbs, you knave; they are nose-herbs.
I am no great Nebuchadnezzar, sir; I have not much
skill in grass.
Whether dost thou profess thyself, a knave or a fool?
A fool, sir, at a woman’s service, and a knave at a man’s.
I would cozen the man of his wife and do his service.
So you were a knave at his service, indeed.
And I would give his wife my bauble, sir, to do her service.
I will subscribe for thee, thou art both knave and fool.
At your service.
No, no, no.
Why, sir, if I cannot serve you, I can serve as
great a prince as you are.
Who’s that? a Frenchman?
Faith, sir, a’ has an English name; but his fisnomy
is more hotter in France than there.
What prince is that?
The black prince, sir; alias, the prince of
darkness; alias, the devil.
Hold thee, there’s my purse: I give thee not this
to suggest thee from thy master thou talkest of;
serve him still.
I am a woodland fellow, sir, that always loved a
great fire; and the master I speak of ever keeps a
good fire. But, sure, he is the prince of the
world; let his nobility remain in’s court. I am for
the house with the narrow gate, which I take to be
too little for pomp to enter: some that humble
themselves may; but the many will be too chill and
tender, and they’ll be for the flowery way that
leads to the broad gate and the great fire.
Go thy ways, I begin to be aweary of thee; and I
tell thee so before, because I would not fall out
with thee. Go thy ways: let my horses be well
looked to, without any tricks.
If I put any tricks upon ’em, sir, they shall be
jades’ tricks; which are their own right by the law of nature.
A shrewd knave and an unhappy.
So he is. My lord that’s gone made himself much
sport out of him: by his authority he remains here,
which he thinks is a patent for his sauciness; and,
indeed, he has no pace, but runs where he will.
I like him well; ’tis not amiss. And I was about to
tell you, since I heard of the good lady’s death and
that my lord your son was upon his return home, I
moved the king my master to speak in the behalf of
my daughter; which, in the minority of them both,
his majesty, out of a self-gracious remembrance, did
first propose: his highness hath promised me to do
it: and, to stop up the displeasure he hath
conceived against your son, there is no fitter
matter. How does your ladyship like it?
With very much content, my lord; and I wish it
His highness comes post from Marseilles, of as able
body as when he numbered thirty: he will be here
to-morrow, or I am deceived by him that in such
intelligence hath seldom failed.
It rejoices me, that I hope I shall see him ere I
die. I have letters that my son will be here
to-night: I shall beseech your lordship to remain
with me till they meet together.
Madam, I was thinking with what manners I might
safely be admitted.
You need but plead your honourable privilege.
Lady, of that I have made a bold charter; but I
thank my God it holds yet.
O madam, yonder’s my lord your son with a patch of
velvet on’s face: whether there be a scar under’t
or no, the velvet knows; but ’tis a goodly patch of
velvet: his left cheek is a cheek of two pile and a
half, but his right cheek is worn bare.
A scar nobly got, or a noble scar, is a good livery
of honour; so belike is that.
But it is your carbonadoed face.
Let us go see your son, I pray you: I long to talk
with the young noble soldier.
Faith there’s a dozen of ’em, with delicate fine
hats and most courteous feathers, which bow the head
and nod at every man.