All Is Well | Act 1.3

  Rousillon. The COUNT’s palace.

[Enter COUNTESS, Steward, and Clown]

COUNTESS    What does this knave here? Get you gone, sirrah: the complaints I have heard of you I do not all believe: ’tis my slowness that I do not; for I know you lack not folly to commit them, and have ability enough to make such knaveries yours.

Clown   ‘Tis not unknown to you, madam, I am a poor fellow.

COUNTESS    Well, sir.

Clown    No, madam, ’tis not so well that I am poor, though
many of the rich are damned: but, if I may have your
ladyship’s good will to go to the world, Isbel
the woman
and I will do as we may.

COUNTESS    Wilt thou needs be a beggar?

Clown    I do beg your good will in this case.

COUNTESS    In what case?

Clown    In Isbel’s case and mine own. Service is no
heritage: and I think I shall never have the blessing
of God till I have issue o’ my body; for
they say
barnes are blessings.

COUNTESS    Tell me thy reason why thou wilt marry.

Clown    My poor body, madam, requires it: I am driven on
by the flesh; and he must needs go that the devil drives.

COUNTESS    Is this all your worship’s reason?

Clown    Faith, madam, I have other holy reasons such as they

COUNTESS    May the world know them?

Clown    I have been, madam, a wicked creature,
as you and
all flesh and blood are; and, indeed,
I do marry
that I may repent.

COUNTESS    Thy marriage, sooner than thy wickedness.

Clown    I am out o’ friends, madam;
and I hope to have
friends for my wife’s sake.

COUNTESS    Such friends are thine enemies, knave.
Get you gone, sir; I’ll talk with you more anon.

Steward    May it please you, madam, that he bid Helen
come to
you: of her I am to speak.

COUNTESS    Sirrah, tell my gentlewoman I would speak with her;
    Well, now.

Steward    I know, madam, you love your gentlewoman entirely.

COUNTESS    Faith, I do: her father bequeathed her to me;
she herself, without other advantage, may lawfully
make title to as much love as she finds: there is more owing
her than is paid; and more shall be paid
her than she’ll demand.

Steward    Madam, I was very late more near her than I think
she wished me: alone she was, and did communicate to herself
her own words to her own ears; she
thought, I dare vow for her,
they touched not any
stranger sense. Her matter was, she loved
your son:
Fortune, she said, was no goddess, that had put such
difference betwixt their two estates; Love no
god, that would not
extend his might, only where
qualities were level…
This she delivered in the most bitter touch of sorrow that e’er I
heard virgin exclaim in: which I
held my duty speedily to
acquaint you withal;
sithence, in the loss that may happen,
it concerns
you something to know it.

COUNTESS    You have discharged this honestly; keep it to
yourself: many likelihoods informed me of this before,
which hung so tottering in the balance that
I could neither
believe nor misdoubt. Pray you,
leave me: stall this in your
bosom; and I thank you
for your honest care: I will speak
with you further anon.

[Exit Steward]

[Enter HELENA]

Even so it was with me when I was young:
If ever we are nature’s, these are ours; this thorn
Doth to our rose of youth rightly belong;
Our blood to us, this to our blood is born;
It is the show and seal of nature’s truth,
Where love’s strong passion is impress’d in youth:
By our remembrances of days foregone,
Such were our faults, or then we thought them none.
Her eye is sick on’t: I observe her now.

HELENA    What is your pleasure, madam?

COUNTESS    You know, Helen,
I am a mother to you.

HELENA    Mine honourable mistress.

COUNTESS    Nay, a mother:
Why not a mother? When I said ‘a mother,’
Methought you saw a serpent: what’s in ‘mother,’
That you start at it? I say, I am your mother;
And put you in the catalogue of those
That were enwombed mine: ’tis often seen
Adoption strives with nature and choice breeds
A native slip to us from foreign seeds:
You ne’er oppress’d me with a mother’s groan,
Yet I express to you a mother’s care:
God’s mercy, maiden! does it curd thy blood
To say I am thy mother?
Why? that you are my daughter?

HELENA    That I am not.

COUNTESS    I say, I am your mother.

HELENA    Pardon, madam;
The Count Rousillon cannot be my brother:
I am from humble, he from honour’d name;
No note upon my parents, his all noble:
My master, my dear lord he is; and I
His servant live, and will his vassal die:
He must not be my brother.

COUNTESS    Nor I your mother?

HELENA    You are my mother, madam; would you were,–
So that my lord your son were not my brother,–
Indeed my mother! or were you both our mothers,
I care no more for than I do for heaven,
So I were not his sister. Can’t no other,
But, I your daughter, he must be my brother?

COUNTESS    Yes, Helen, you might be my daughter-in-law:
God shield you mean it not! daughter and mother
So strive upon your pulse. What, pale again?
My fear hath catch’d your fondness: now I see
The mystery of your loneliness, and find
Your salt tears’ head: now to all sense ’tis gross
You love my son; invention is ashamed,
Against the proclamation of thy passion,
To say thou dost not: therefore tell me true;
But tell me then, ’tis so; for, look thy cheeks
Confess it, th’ one to th’ other; and thine eyes
See it so grossly shown in thy behaviors
That in their kind they speak it: only sin
And hellish obstinacy tie thy tongue,
That truth should be suspected. Speak, is’t so?
If it be so, you have wound a goodly clew;
If it be not, forswear’t: howe’er, I charge thee,
As heaven shall work in me for thine avail,
Tell me truly.

HELENA    Good madam, pardon me!

COUNTESS    Do you love my son?

HELENA    Your pardon, noble mistress!

COUNTESS Love you my son?

HELENA    Do not you love him, madam?

COUNTESS    Go not about; my love hath in’t a bond,
Whereof the world takes note: come, come, disclose
The state of your affection; for your passions
Have to the full appeach’d.

HELENA    Then, I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,
I love your son.
My friends were poor, but honest; so’s my love:
Be not offended; for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me: I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit;
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him;
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this captious and intenible sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love
And lack not to lose still: thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun, that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love
For loving where you do: but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and love: O, then, give pity
To her, whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies!

COUNTESS    Had you not lately an intent,–speak truly,–
To go to Paris?

HELENA    Madam, I had.

COUNTESS    Wherefore? tell true.

HELENA    I will tell truth; by grace itself I swear.
You know my father left me some prescriptions
Of rare and proved effects, such as his reading
And manifest experience had collected
For general sovereignty; amongst the rest,
There is a remedy, approved, set down,
To cure the desperate languishings whereof
The king is render’d lost.

COUNTESS    This was your motive
For Paris, was it? speak.

HELENA    My lord your son made me to think of this;
Else Paris and the medicine and the king
Had from the conversation of my thoughts
Haply been absent then.

COUNTESS    But think you, Helen,
If you should tender your supposed aid,
He would receive it? he and his physicians
Are of a mind; he, that they cannot help him,
They, that they cannot help: how shall they credit
A poor unlearned virgin, when the schools,
Embowell’d of their doctrine, have left off
The danger to itself?

HELENA    There’s something in’t,
More than my father’s skill, which was the greatest
Of his profession, that his good receipt
Shall for my legacy be sanctified
By the luckiest stars in heaven: and, would your honour
But give me leave to try success, I’ld venture
The well-lost life of mine on his grace’s cure
By such a day and hour.

COUNTESS    Dost thou believe’t?

HELENA    Ay, madam, knowingly.

COUNTESS    Why, Helen, thou shalt have my leave and love,
Means and attendants and my loving greetings
To those of mine in court: I’ll stay at home
And pray God’s blessing into thy attempt:
Be gone to-morrow; and be sure of this,
What I can help thee to thou shalt not miss.


 [Exeunt] Act 1.2 | Act 2.1

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Updated: May 21, 2021 — 10:21 pm