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ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
KING OF FRANCE.
HELENA, a Gentlewoman protected
AN OLD WIDOW of Florence.
PAROLLES, a follower of Bertram.
Several young French LDs, that MARIANA,'} Friends to the Widow.
serve with BERTRAM in the Florentine war. STEWARD, CLOWN, A PAGE.
Servants to the Coun-
COUNTESS OF ROUSILLON, Mo
ther to Bertram.
LORDS attending on the KING; OFFICERS, SOLDIERS, &c., French and Florentine.
SCENE, partly in France, and partly in Tuscany.
SCENE I-Rousillon. A Room in the COUNTESS's Palace. Enter BERTRAM, the COUNTESS OF ROUSILLON, HELENA, and LAFEU, in mourning.
Count. In delivering my son from me, I bury a second husband.
Ber. 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.
Laf. 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 abundance.
Count. What hope is there of his majesty's amendment?
Laf. He hath abandoned 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.
* Under guardianship.
Count. This young gentlewoman had a father (O, that had! how sad a passaget 'tis !), whose skill was almost as great as his
† I. e. passing recollection.
honesty; had it stretched 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.
Laf. How called you the man you speak of, Madam?
Count. 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 lately spoke of him, admiringly, and mourningly: he was skilful enough to have lived still, if knowledge could be set up against mortality.
Ber. What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of?
Ber. I heard not of it before.
Laf. I would it were not notorious.-Was this gentlewoman the daughter of Gerard de Narbon ?
Count. 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.
Laf. Your commendations, Madam, get from her tears.
Count. '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.
Hel. I do affect a sorrow, indeed; but I have it too.
Laf. Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the living.
Count. If the living be enemy to the grief, the excess makes it soon mortal.
Ber. Madam, I desire your holy wishes.
Laf. How understand we that?
Count. Be thou bless'd, Bertram! and succeed thy father
† Are attended by.
* Qualities of good breeding and erudition.
Her excellences are the better because they are artless.
If the living oppose themselves to excessive grief, it soon dies.
Laf. He cannot want the best That shall attend his love.
Count. Heaven bless him!-Farewell, Bertram.
Ber. The best wishes, that can be forged in your thoughts [To HELENA], be servants to you!* Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her.
Laf. Farewell, pretty lady: You must hold the credit of your father. [Exeunt BERTRAM and LAFEU. Hel. 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 it, but Bertram's. I am undone; there is no living, none, If Bertram be away. It were 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. The 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?
One that goes with him: I love him for his sake;
That they take place, when virtue's steely bones
Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.
Par. Save you, fair queen.
Hel. And you, monarch.
Hel. And no.||
Par. Are you meditating on virginity?
Hel. 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?
Par. Keep him out.
*I.e. may you be mistress of your wishes, and have power to bring
them to effect.
† Picture-canvass. Countenance.
Peculiarity of feature.
I. e. no monarch, no queen,
Hel. But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant in the defence, yet is weak: unfold to us some warlike resistance.
Par. There is none; man, sitting down before you, will undermine you, and blow you up.
Hel. Bless our poor virginity from underminers, and blowers up! Is there no military policy, how virgins might blow up men ?
Par. 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 it.
Hel. I will stand for't a little, though therefore I die a virgin. Par. 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 years it will make itself ten, which is a goodly increase; and the principal itself not much the worse: Away with't.
Hel. How might one do, Sir, to lose it to her own liking? Par. 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 tooth-pick, which wear not now: Your datet is better in your pie and your porridge, than in your cheek: And your virginity, your old virginity, is like one of our French withered pears; it looks ill, it eats dryly; marry, 'tis a withered pear; it was formerly better; marry, yet 'tis a withered pear: Will you anything with it?
Hel. Not my virginity yet.
There shall your master have a thousand loves,
† A quib on date, which means age, and candied fruit.