All's Well, that Ends Well


William Shakespeare

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Shakespeare's First Folio
All's Well, that Ends Well

Actus primus. Scoena Prima.

Enter yong Bertram Count of Rossillion, his Mother, and Helena, Lord Lafew, all in blacke.

Mother. In deliuering my sonne from me, I burie a second husband

Ros. And I in going Madam, weep ore my fathers death anew; but I must attend his maiesties command, to whom I am now in Ward, euermore in subiection

Laf. You shall find of the King a husband Madame, you sir a father. He that so generally is at all times good, must of necessitie hold his vertue to you, whose worthinesse would stirre it vp where it wanted rather then lack it where there is such abundance

Mo. What hope is there of his Maiesties amendment? Laf. He hath abandon'd his Phisitions Madam, vnder whose practises he hath persecuted time with hope, and finds no other aduantage in the processe, but onely the loosing of hope by time

Mo. This yong Gentlewoman had a father, O that had, how sad a passage tis, whose skill was almost as great as his honestie, had it stretch'd so far, would haue made nature immortall, and death should haue play for lacke of worke. Would for the Kings sake hee were liuing, I thinke it would be the death of the Kings disease

Laf. How call'd you the man you speake of Madam? Mo. He was famous sir in his profession, and it was his great right to be so: Gerard de Narbon

Laf. He was excellent indeed Madam, the King very latelie spoke of him admiringly, and mourningly: hee was skilfull enough to haue liu'd stil, if knowledge could be set vp against mortallitie

Ros. What is it (my good Lord) the King languishes of? Laf. A Fistula my Lord

Ros. I heard not of it before

Laf. I would it were not notorious. Was this Gentlewoman the Daughter of Gerard de Narbon? Mo. His sole childe my Lord, and bequeathed to my ouer looking. I haue those hopes of her good, that her education promises her dispositions shee inherits, which makes faire gifts fairer: for where an vncleane mind carries vertuous qualities, there commendations go with pitty, they are vertues and traitors too: in her they are the better for their simplenesse; she deriues her honestie, and atcheeues her goodnesse

Lafew. Your commendations Madam get from her teares

Mo. 'Tis the best brine a Maiden can season her praise in. The remembrance of her father neuer approches her heart, but the tirrany of her sorrowes takes all liuelihood from her cheeke. No more of this Helena, go too, no more least it be rather thought you affect a sorrow, then to haue- Hell. I doe affect a sorrow indeed, but I haue it too

Laf. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessiue greefe the enemie to the liuing

Mo. If the liuing be enemie to the greefe, the excesse makes it soone mortall

Ros. Maddam I desire your holie wishes

Laf. How vnderstand we that? Mo. Be thou blest Bertrame, and succeed thy father In manners as in shape: thy blood and vertue Contend for Empire in thee, and thy goodnesse Share with thy birth-right. Loue all, trust a few, Doe wrong to none: be able for thine enemie Rather in power then vse: and keepe thy friend Vnder thy owne lifes key. Be checkt for silence, But neuer tax'd for speech. What heauen more wil, That thee may furnish, and my prayers plucke downe, Fall on thy head. Farwell my Lord, 'Tis an vnseason'd Courtier, good my Lord Aduise him

William Shakespeare
Classic Literature Library

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