Shakespeare All's Well That Ends Well - ACT IV SCENE 3
All's Well That Ends Well - ACT IV SCENE 3
SCENE: The Florentine camp
Enter the two FRENCH LORDS, and two or three SOLDIERS
SECOND LORD. You have not given him his mother's letter?
FIRST LORD. I have deliv'red it an hour since. There is something
in't that stings his nature; for on the reading it he chang'd
almost into another man.
SECOND LORD. He has much worthy blame laid upon him for shaking off
so good a wife and so sweet a lady.
FIRST LORD. Especially he hath incurred the everlasting displeasure
of the King, who had even tun'd his bounty to sing happiness to
him. I will tell you a thing, but you shall let it dwell darkly
SECOND LORD. When you have spoken it, 'tis dead, and I am the grave
FIRST LORD. 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.
SECOND LORD. Now, God delay our rebellion! As we are ourselves,
what things are we!
FIRST LORD. Merely our own traitors. And as in the common course of
all treasons we still see them reveal themselves till they attain
to their abhorr'd ends; so he that in this action contrives
against his own nobility, in his proper stream, o'erflows
SECOND LORD. Is it not meant damnable in us to be trumpeters of our
unlawful intents? We shall not then have his company to-night?
FIRST LORD. Not till after midnight; for he is dieted to his hour.
SECOND LORD. That approaches apace. I would gladly have him see his
company anatomiz'd, that he might take a measure of his own
judgments, wherein so curiously he had set this counterfeit.
FIRST LORD. We will not meddle with him till he come; for his
presence must be the whip of the other.
SECOND LORD. In the meantime, what hear you of these wars?
FIRST LORD. I hear there is an overture of peace.
SECOND LORD. Nay, I assure you, a peace concluded.
FIRST LORD. What will Count Rousillon do then? Will he travel
higher, or return again into France?
SECOND LORD. I perceive, by this demand, you are not altogether
of his counsel.
FIRST LORD. Let it be forbid, sir! So should I be a great deal
of his act.
SECOND LORD. 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
accomplish'd; 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.
FIRST LORD. How is this justified?
SECOND LORD. 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 confirm'd by the rector of the place.
FIRST LORD. Hath the Count all this intelligence?
SECOND LORD. Ay, and the particular confirmations, point from
point, to the full arming of the verity.
FIRST LORD. I am heartily sorry that he'll be glad of this.
SECOND LORD. How mightily sometimes we make us comforts of our
FIRST LORD. And how mightily some other times we drown our gain in
tears! The great dignity that his valour hath here acquir'd for
him shall at home be encount'red with a shame as ample.
SECOND LORD. The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill
together. Our virtues would be proud if our faults whipt them
not; and our crimes would despair if they were not cherish'd by
Enter a MESSENGER
How now? Where's your master?
SERVANT. 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.
SECOND LORD. They shall be no more than needful there, if they were
more than they can commend.
FIRST LORD. They cannot be too sweet for the King's tartness.
Here's his lordship now.
How now, my lord, is't not after midnight?
BERTRAM. I have to-night dispatch'd sixteen businesses, a month's
length apiece; by an abstract of success: I have congied with the
Duke, done my adieu with his nearest; buried a wife, mourn'd for
her; writ to my lady mother I am returning; entertain'd my
convoy; and between these main parcels of dispatch effected many
nicer needs. The last was the greatest, but that I have not ended
SECOND LORD. If the business be of any difficulty and this morning
your departure hence, it requires haste of your lordship.
BERTRAM. 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 has
deceiv'd me like a double-meaning prophesier.
SECOND LORD. Bring him forth.
Has sat i' th'
stocks all night, poor gallant knave.
BERTRAM. No matter; his heels have deserv'd it, in usurping his
spurs so long. How does he carry himself?
SECOND LORD. 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 confess'd 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' th'
stocks. And what think you he hath confess'd?
BERTRAM. Nothing of me, has 'a?
SECOND LORD. 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 as interpreter
BERTRAM. A plague upon him! muffled! He can say nothing of me.
SECOND LORD. Hush, hush! Hoodman comes. Portotartarossa.
FIRST SOLDIER. He calls for the tortures. What will you say without
PAROLLES. I will confess what I know without constraint; if ye
pinch me like a pasty, I can say no more.
FIRST SOLDIER. Bosko chimurcho.
SECOND LORD. Boblibindo chicurmurco.
FIRST SOLDIER. YOU are a merciful general. Our General bids you
answer to what I shall ask you out of a note.
PAROLLES. And truly, as I hope to live.
FIRST SOLDIER. 'First demand of him how many horse the Duke is
strong.' What say you to that?
PAROLLES. 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.
FIRST SOLDIER. Shall I set down your answer so?
PAROLLES. Do; I'll take the sacrament on 't, how and which way you
BERTRAM. All's one to him. What a past-saving slave is this!
SECOND LORD. Y'are deceiv'd, 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 practice in the
chape of his dagger.
FIRST LORD. I will never trust a man again for keeping his sword
clean; nor believe he can have everything in him by wearing his
FIRST SOLDIER. Well, that's set down.
PAROLLES. 'Five or six thousand horse' I said-I will say true- 'or
thereabouts' set down, for I'll speak truth.
SECOND LORD. He's very near the truth in this.
BERTRAM. But I con him no thanks for't in the nature he delivers it.
PAROLLES. 'Poor rogues' I pray you say.
FIRST SOLDIER. Well, that's set down.
PAROLLES. I humbly thank you, sir. A truth's a truth-the rogues are
FIRST SOLDIER. 'Demand of him of what strength they are a-foot.'
What say you to that?
PAROLLES. 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 fifty each; mine own
company, Chitopher, Vaumond, Bentii, two hundred 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 the
snow from off their cassocks lest they shake themselves to
BERTRAM. What shall be done to him?
SECOND LORD. Nothing, but let him have thanks. Demand of him my
condition, and what credit I have with the Duke.
FIRST SOLDIER. Well, that's set down. 'You shall demand of him
whether one Captain Dumain be i' th' camp, a Frenchman; what his
reputation is with the Duke, what his valour, honesty, expertness
in wars; or whether he thinks it were not possible, with
well-weighing sums of gold, to corrupt him to a revolt.' What say
you to this? What do you know of it?
PAROLLES. I beseech you, let me answer to the particular of the
inter'gatories. Demand them singly.
FIRST SOLDIER. Do you know this Captain Dumain?
PAROLLES. I know him: 'a was a botcher's prentice in Paris, from
whence he was whipt for getting the shrieve's fool with child-a
dumb innocent that could not say him nay.
BERTRAM. Nay, by your leave, hold your hands; though I know his
brains are forfeit to the next tile that falls.
FIRST SOLDIER. Well, is this captain in the Duke of Florence's
PAROLLES. Upon my knowledge, he is, and lousy.
SECOND LORD. Nay, look not so upon me; we shall hear of your
FIRST SOLDIER. What is his reputation with the Duke?
PAROLLES. 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' th' band.
I think I have his letter in my pocket.
FIRST SOLDIER. Marry, we'll search.
PAROLLES. 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.
FIRST SOLDIER. Here 'tis; here's a paper. Shall I read it to you?
PAROLLES. I do not know if it be it or no.
BERTRAM. Our interpreter does it well.
SECOND LORD. Excellently.
FIRST SOLDIER. [Reads] 'Dian, the Count's a fool, and full of
PAROLLES. 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
FIRST SOLDIER. Nay, I'll read it first by your favour.
PAROLLES. 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.
BERTRAM. Damnable both-sides rogue!
FIRST SOLDIER. [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 vow'd to thee in thine ear,
BERTRAM. He shall be whipt through the army with this rhyme in's
FIRST LORD. This is your devoted friend, sir, the manifold
linguist, and the amnipotent soldier.
BERTRAM. I could endure anything before but a cat, and now he's a
cat to me.
FIRST SOLDIER. I perceive, sir, by our General's looks we shall be
fain to hang you.
PAROLLES. 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' th'
stocks, or anywhere, so I may live.
FIRST SOLDIER. We'll see what may be done, so you confess freely;
therefore, once more to this Captain Dumain: you have answer'd to
his reputation with the Duke, and to his valour; what is his
PAROLLES. 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 bedclothes 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 everything
that an honest man should not have; what an honest man should
have he has nothing.
SECOND LORD. I begin to love him for this.
BERTRAM. For this description of thine honesty? A pox upon him! For
me, he's more and more a cat.
FIRST SOLDIER. What say you to his expertness in war?
PAROLLES. Faith, sir, has led the drum before the English
tragedians-to belie him I will not-and more of his soldier-ship
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.
SECOND LORD. He hath out-villain'd villainy so far that the rarity
BERTRAM. A pox on him! he's a cat still.
FIRST SOLDIER. His qualities being at this poor price, I need not
to ask you if gold will corrupt him to revolt.
PAROLLES. Sir, for a cardecue he will sell the fee-simple of his
salvation, the inheritance of it; and cut th' entail from all
remainders and a perpetual succession for it perpetually.
FIRST SOLDIER. What's his brother, the other Captain Dumain?
FIRST LORD. Why does he ask him of me?
FIRST SOLDIER. What's he?
PAROLLES. E'en a crow o' th' 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.
FIRST SOLDIER. If your life be saved, will you undertake to betray
PAROLLES. Ay, and the Captain of his Horse, Count Rousillon.
FIRST SOLDIER. I'll whisper with the General, and know his
PAROLLES. [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?
FIRST SOLDIER. There is no remedy, sir, but you must die.
The General says you that have so traitorously discover'd 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, of with his head.
PAROLLES. O Lord, sir, let me live, or let me see my death!
FIRST SOLDIER. That shall you, and take your leave of all your
friends. [Unmuffling him] So look about you; know you any here?
BERTRAM. Good morrow, noble Captain.
FIRST LORD. God bless you, Captain Parolles.
SECOND LORD. God save you, noble Captain.
FIRST LORD. Captain, what greeting will you to my Lord Lafeu? I am
SECOND LORD. 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'd compel it of you; but fare you well.
Exeunt BERTRAM and LORDS
FIRST SOLDIER. You are undone, Captain, all but your scarf; that
has a knot on 't yet.
PAROLLES. Who cannot be crush'd with a plot?
FIRST SOLDIER. 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
Exit with SOLDIERS
PAROLLES. 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 fool'ry thrive.
There's place and means for every man alive.
I'll after them.