All Is Well | Act 1.1

Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.

[Enter BERTRAM, the COUNTESS of Rousillon,
HELENA, and LAFEU, all in black]

In delivering my son from me,
I bury a second husband.

BERTRAM    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.

LAFEU    You shall find of the king a husband,
madam; you, sir, a father.

COUNTESS    What hope is there
of his majesty’s amendment?

LAFEU    He hath abandoned his physicians, madam;
under whose practises he hath persecuted time with hope,
and finds no other advantage in the process but only the
losing of hope by time.

COUNTESS    This young gentlewoman had a father,
–O, that ‘had’
! how sad a passage ’tis!–whose skill was
almost as great as his 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.

LAFEU    How called you the man you speak of, madam?

COUNTESS    He was famous, sir, in his profession, and
it was his great right to be so: Gerard de Narbon.

LAFEU    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.

BERTRAM    What is it, my good lord, the king languishes of?

LAFEU    A fistula, my lord.

BERTRAM    I heard not of it before.

LAFEU    I would it were not notorious.
Was this gentlewoman
the daughter of Gerard de Narbon?

COUNTESS    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, in her
they are the better for their
simpleness; she derives her
honesty and achieves her goodness.

LAFEU    Your commendations, madam, get from her tears.

COUNTESS    ‘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 have it.

HELENA    I do affect a sorrow indeed, but I have it too.

LAFEU    How understand we that?
Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead,
excessive grief the enemy to the living.

COUNTESS    If the living be enemy to the grief,
the excess makes it soon mortal.

BERTRAM    Madam, I desire your holy wishes.

COUNTESS    Be thou blest, Bertram, and succeed thy father
In manners, as in shape! thy blood and virtue
Contend for empire in thee, and thy goodness
Share with thy birthright! Love all, trust a few,
Do wrong to none: be able for thine enemy
Rather in power than use, and keep thy friend
Under thy own life’s key: be cheque’d for silence,
But never tax’d for speech. What heaven more will,
That thee may furnish and my prayers pluck down,
Fall on thy head! Farewell, my lord;
‘Tis an unseason’d courtier; good my lord,
Advise him.

LAFEU    He cannot want the best
That shall attend his love.

COUNTESS    Heaven bless him! Farewell, Bertram.


BERTRAM [To HELENA] The best wishes that can be forged in
your thoughts be servants to you! Be comfortable
to my mother, your mistress, and make much of her.

LAFEU    Farewell, pretty lady: you must hold the
credit of
your father.

[Exeunt BERTRAM and LAFEU]

HELENA    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’t but Bertram’s.
I am undone: there is no living, none,
If Bertram be away. ‘Twere 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 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 reliques. Who comes here?



 One that goes with him: I love him for his sake;
And yet I know him a notorious liar,
Think him a great way fool, solely a coward;
Yet these fixed evils sit so fit in him,
That they take place, when virtue’s steely bones
Look bleak i’ the cold wind: withal, full oft we see
Cold wisdom waiting on superfluous folly.

PAROLLES    Save you, fair queen!
Are you meditating on virginity?

HELENA    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?

PAROLLES    Keep him out.

HELENA    But he assails; and our virginity, though valiant,
in the defence yet is weak: unfold to us some warlike resistance.

PAROLLES    There is none: man, sitting down before you,
undermine you and blow you up.

HELENA    Bless our poor virginity from underminers
blowers up!

PAROLLES    It is not politic in the commonwealth of nature
preserve virginity. Loss of virginity is rational increase and
there was never virgin got till
virginity was first lost.

HELENA I will stand for ‘t a little, though therefore I die a virgin.

PAROLLES    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 loose by’t:
out with ‘t! within ten year it will make
itself ten, which
is a goodly increase; and the
principal itself not much the
worse: away with ‘t!

HELENA    How might one do, sir, to lose it to her own liking?

PAROLLES    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…
Virginity, like an old courtier, wears her cap out
of fashion: richly suited, but unsuitable: just
like the brooch and the tooth-pick, which wear not
now. Your date 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 drily; marry,
’tis a withered pear; it was formerly better;
marry, yet ’tis a withered pear: will you anything with it?

HELENA    Not my virginity yet [ ]
There shall your master have a thousand loves,
A mother and a mistress and a friend,
A phoenix, captain and an enemy,
A guide, a goddess, and a sovereign,
A counsellor, a traitress, and a dear;
His humble ambition, proud humility,
His jarring concord, and his discord dulcet,
His faith, his sweet disaster; with a world
Of pretty, fond, adoptious christendoms,
That blinking Cupid gossips. Now shall he–
I know not what he shall. God send him well!
The court’s a learning place, and he is one–

PAROLLES    What one, i’ faith?

HELENA    That I wish well. ‘Tis pity–

PAROLLES    What’s pity?

HELENA    That wishing well had not a body in’t,
Which might be felt; that we, the poorer born,
Whose baser stars do shut us up in wishes,
Might with effects of them follow our friends,
And show what we alone must think, which never
Return us thanks.

[Enter Page]

Page Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you.


PAROLLES    Little Helen, farewell; if I can remember thee,
I will think of thee at court.

HELENA    Monsieur Parolles, you were born under a charitable star.

PAROLLES    Under Mars, I.

HELENA    I especially think, under Mars.

PAROLLES    Why under Mars?

HELENA    The wars have so kept you under that you
must needs
be born under Mars.

PAROLLES    When he was predominant.

HELENA    When he was retrograde, I think, rather.

PAROLLES     Why think you so?

HELENA    You go so much backward when you fight.

PAROLLES    That’s for advantage.

HELENA    So is running away, when fear proposes the safety;
but the composition that your valour and fear makes
in you is a virtue of a good wing, and I like the wear well.

PAROLLES    I am so full of businesses, I cannot answer thee
acutely. When thou hast leisure, say thy prayers; when thou
hast none, remember thy friends;
get thee a good husband,
and use him as he uses thee;
so, farewell.


HELENA    Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie,
Which we ascribe to heaven: the fated sky
Gives us free scope, only doth backward pull
Our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.
What power is it which mounts my love so high,
That makes me see, and cannot feed mine eye?
The mightiest space in fortune nature brings
To join like likes and kiss like native things.
Impossible be strange attempts to those
That weigh their pains in sense and do suppose
What hath been cannot be: who ever strove
So show her merit, that did miss her love?
The king’s disease–my project may deceive me,
But my intents are fix’d and will not leave me.


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Updated: September 20, 2022 — 11:47 pm