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All's Well That Ends Well - Act 2, scene 1
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Navigate this workAll's Well That Ends Well - Act 2, scene 1
Act 2, scene 1
The King bids farewell to the French courtiers going off to war, having commanded Bertram to remain behind. Helen arrives at court and, after promising to forfeit her own life should she fail, persuades the King to let her try to cure his fatal disease. She asks, as her reward should she succeed, the hand in marriage of whichever courtier she chooses.Flourish cornets. Enter the King, ⌜attended,⌝ with divers
young Lords, taking leave for the Florentine war;
⌜Bertram⌝ Count Rossillion, and Parolles.
0595 Farewell, young lords. These warlike principles
0596 Do not throw from you.—And you, my lords,
0598 Share the advice betwixt you. If both gain all,
0599 5 The gift doth stretch itself as ’tis received
0600 And is enough for both.
FIRST LORD 0601 ’Tis our hope, sir,
0602 After well-entered soldiers, to return
0603 And find your Grace in health.
0604 10 No, no, it cannot be. And yet my heart
0605 Will not confess he owes the malady
0606 That doth my life besiege. Farewell, young lords.
0607 Whether I live or die, be you the sons
0608 Of worthy Frenchmen. Let higher Italy—
0609 15 Those bated that inherit but the fall
0610 Of the last monarchy—see that you come
0611 Not to woo honor but to wed it. When
0612 The bravest questant shrinks, find what you seek,
0613 That fame may cry you loud. I say farewell.
p. 49FIRST LORD
0614 20 Health at your bidding serve your Majesty!
0615 Those girls of Italy, take heed of them.
0616 They say our French lack language to deny
0617 If they demand. Beware of being captives
0618 Before you serve.
LORDS 0619 25 Our hearts receive your warnings.
KING 0620 Farewell.—Come hither to me.
⌜The King speaks to Attendants, while Bertram,
Parolles, and other Lords come forward.⌝
FIRST LORD, ⌜to Bertram⌝
0621 O my sweet lord, that you will stay behind us!
0622 ’Tis not his fault, the spark.
SECOND LORD 0623 O, ’tis brave wars.
0624 30 Most admirable. I have seen those wars.
0625 I am commanded here and kept a coil
0626 With “Too young,” and “The next year,” and “’Tis
0627 too early.”
0628 An thy mind stand to ’t, boy, steal away bravely.
0629 35 I shall stay here the forehorse to a smock,
0630 Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry
0631 Till honor be bought up, and no sword worn
0632 But one to dance with. By heaven, I’ll steal away!
0633 There’s honor in the theft.
PAROLLES 0634 40 Commit it, count.
0635 I am your accessory. And so, farewell.
BERTRAM 0636 I grow to you, and our parting is a tortured
p. 51FIRST LORD 0638 Farewell, captain.
SECOND LORD 0639 45Sweet Monsieur Parolles.
PAROLLES 0640 Noble heroes, my sword and yours are kin.
0641 Good sparks and lustrous, a word, good metals.
0642 You shall find in the regiment of the Spinii one
0643 Captain Spurio ⌜with⌝ his cicatrice, an emblem of
0644 50 war, here on his sinister cheek. It was this very
0645 sword entrenched it. Say to him I live, and observe
0646 his reports for me.
FIRST LORD 0647 We shall, noble captain.
PAROLLES 0648 Mars dote on you for his novices.
0649 55 ⌜To Bertram.⌝ What will you do?
BERTRAM 0650 Stay the King.
PAROLLES 0651 Use a more spacious ceremony to the noble
0652 lords. You have restrained yourself within the list
0653 of too cold an adieu. Be more expressive to them,
0654 60 for they wear themselves in the cap of the time;
0655 there do muster true gait; eat, speak, and move
0656 under the influence of the most received star, and,
0657 though the devil lead the measure, such are to be
0658 followed. After them, and take a more dilated
0659 65 farewell.
BERTRAM 0660 And I will do so.
PAROLLES 0661 Worthy fellows, and like to prove most
0662 sinewy swordmen.⌜Bertram and Parolles⌝ exit.
Enter Lafew, ⌜to the King.⌝
0663 Pardon, my lord, for me and for my tidings.
KING 0664 70I’ll ⌜fee⌝ thee to stand up.
0665 Then here’s a man stands that has brought his
0667 I would you had kneeled, my lord, to ask me mercy,
0668 And that at my bidding you could so stand up.
0669 75 I would I had, so I had broke thy pate
0670 And asked thee mercy for ’t.
LAFEW 0671 Good faith, across.
0672 But, my good lord, ’tis thus: will you be cured
0673 Of your infirmity?
KING 0674 80 No.
LAFEW 0675 O, will you eat
0676 No grapes, my royal fox? Yes, but you will
0677 My noble grapes, an if my royal fox
0678 Could reach them. I have seen a medicine
0679 85 That’s able to breathe life into a stone,
0680 Quicken a rock, and make you dance canary
0681 With sprightly fire and motion, whose simple touch
0682 Is powerful to araise King Pippen, nay,
0683 To give great Charlemagne a pen in ’s hand
0684 90 And write to her a love line.
KING 0685 What “her” is this?
0686 Why, Doctor She. My lord, there’s one arrived,
0687 If you will see her. Now, by my faith and honor,
0688 If seriously I may convey my thoughts
0689 95 In this my light deliverance, I have spoke
0690 With one that in her sex, her years, profession,
0691 Wisdom, and constancy hath amazed me more
0692 Than I dare blame my weakness. Will you see her—
0693 For that is her demand—and know her business?
0694 100 That done, laugh well at me.
KING 0695 Now, good Lafew,
0696 Bring in the admiration, that we with thee
0697 May spend our wonder too, or take off thine
0698 By wond’ring how thou took’st it.
LAFEW 0699 105 Nay, I’ll fit you,
0700 And not be all day neither.
⌜He goes to bring in Helen.⌝
0701 Thus he his special nothing ever prologues.
p. 55Enter Helen.
LAFEW, ⌜to Helen⌝ 0702 Nay, come your ways.
KING 0703 This haste hath wings indeed.
LAFEW 0704 110Nay, come your ways.
0705 This is his Majesty. Say your mind to him.
0706 A traitor you do look like, but such traitors
0707 His Majesty seldom fears. I am Cressid’s uncle
0708 That dare leave two together. Fare you well.
0709 115 Now, fair one, does your business follow us?
HELEN 0710 Ay, my good lord,
0711 Gerard de Narbon was my father,
0712 In what he did profess well found.
KING 0713 I knew him.
0714 120 The rather will I spare my praises towards him.
0715 Knowing him is enough. On ’s bed of death
0716 Many receipts he gave me, chiefly one
0717 Which, as the dearest issue of his practice,
0718 And of his old experience th’ only darling,
0719 125 He bade me store up as a triple eye,
0720 Safer than mine own two, more dear. I have so,
0721 And hearing your high Majesty is touched
0722 With that malignant cause wherein the honor
0723 Of my dear father’s gift stands chief in power,
0724 130 I come to tender it and my appliance
0725 With all bound humbleness.
KING 0726 We thank you, maiden,
0727 But may not be so credulous of cure,
0728 When our most learnèd doctors leave us and
0729 135 The congregated college have concluded
0730 That laboring art can never ransom nature
0731 From her inaidible estate. I say we must not
0732 So stain our judgment or corrupt our hope
p. 570733 To prostitute our past-cure malady
0734 140 To empirics, or to dissever so
0735 Our great self and our credit to esteem
0736 A senseless help when help past sense we deem.
0737 My duty, then, shall pay me for my pains.
0738 I will no more enforce mine office on you,
0739 145 Humbly entreating from your royal thoughts
0740 A modest one to bear me back again.
0741 I cannot give thee less, to be called grateful.
0742 Thou thought’st to help me, and such thanks I give
0743 As one near death to those that wish him live.
0744 150 But what at full I know, thou know’st no part,
0745 I knowing all my peril, thou no art.
0746 What I can do can do no hurt to try
0747 Since you set up your rest ’gainst remedy.
0748 He that of greatest works is finisher
0749 155 Oft does them by the weakest minister.
0750 So holy writ in babes hath judgment shown
0751 When judges have been babes. Great floods have flown
0752 From simple sources, and great seas have dried
0753 When miracles have by the great’st been denied.
0754 160 Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
0755 Where most it promises, and oft it hits
0756 Where hope is coldest and despair most shifts.
0757 I must not hear thee. Fare thee well, kind maid.
0758 Thy pains, not used, must by thyself be paid.
0759 165 Proffers not took reap thanks for their reward.
0760 Inspirèd merit so by breath is barred.
0761 It is not so with Him that all things knows
0762 As ’tis with us that square our guess by shows;
0763 But most it is presumption in us when
p. 590764 170 The help of heaven we count the act of men.
0765 Dear sir, to my endeavors give consent.
0766 Of heaven, not me, make an experiment.
0767 I am not an impostor that proclaim
0768 Myself against the level of mine aim,
0769 175 But know I think and think I know most sure
0770 My art is not past power nor you past cure.
0771 Art thou so confident? Within what space
0772 Hop’st thou my cure?
HELEN 0773 The greatest grace lending grace,
0774 180 Ere twice the horses of the sun shall bring
0775 Their fiery torcher his diurnal ring;
0776 Ere twice in murk and occidental damp
0777 Moist Hesperus hath quenched her sleepy lamp;
0778 Or four and twenty times the pilot’s glass
0779 185 Hath told the thievish minutes, how they pass,
0780 What is infirm from your sound parts shall fly,
0781 Health shall live free, and sickness freely die.
0782 Upon thy certainty and confidence
0783 What dar’st thou venture?
HELEN 0784 190 Tax of impudence,
0785 A strumpet’s boldness, a divulgèd shame;
0786 Traduced by odious ballads, my maiden’s name
0787 Seared otherwise; nay, worse of worst, extended
0788 With vilest torture let my life be ended.
0789 195 Methinks in thee some blessèd spirit doth speak
0790 His powerful sound within an organ weak,
0791 And what impossibility would slay
0792 In common sense, sense saves another way.
0793 Thy life is dear, for all that life can rate
0794 200 Worth name of life in thee hath estimate:
0795 Youth, beauty, wisdom, courage, all
0796 That happiness and prime can happy call.
p. 610797 Thou this to hazard needs must intimate
0798 Skill infinite or monstrous desperate.
0799 205 Sweet practicer, thy physic I will try,
0800 That ministers thine own death if I die.
0801 If I break time or flinch in property
0802 Of what I spoke, unpitied let me die,
0803 And well deserved. Not helping, death’s my fee.
0804 210 But if I help, what do you promise me?
0805 Make thy demand.
HELEN 0806 But will you make it even?
0807 Ay, by my scepter and my hopes of ⌜heaven.⌝
0808 Then shalt thou give me with thy kingly hand
0809 215 What husband in thy power I will command.
0810 Exempted be from me the arrogance
0811 To choose from forth the royal blood of France,
0812 My low and humble name to propagate
0813 With any branch or image of thy state;
0814 220 But such a one, thy vassal, whom I know
0815 Is free for me to ask, thee to bestow.
0816 Here is my hand. The premises observed,
0817 Thy will by my performance shall be served.
0818 So make the choice of thy own time, for I,
0819 225 Thy resolved patient, on thee still rely.
0820 More should I question thee, and more I must,
0821 Though more to know could not be more to trust:
0822 From whence thou cam’st, how tended on; but rest
0823 Unquestioned welcome and undoubted blessed.—
0824 230 Give me some help here, ho!—If thou proceed
0825 As high as word, my deed shall match thy deed.
Flourish. ⌜They⌝ exit, ⌜the King assisted.⌝