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ACT I


SCENE I

Rousillon. The COUNT'S palace.
Enter BERTRAM, the COUNTESS OF ROUSILLON, HELENA, and LAFEU, all in black.

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.

Count.
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.

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: (31)
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?

Laf.
A fistula, my lord.

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 (61)
sorrow than have it.

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? (70)

Count.
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 check'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; (80)
'Tis an unseason'd courtier; good my lord,
Advise him.

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

Count.
Heavens bless him! Farewell, Bertram. [Exit.

Ber.
[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.

Laf.
Farewell, pretty lady: you must hold
the credit of your father. [Exeunt Bertram and Lafeu. (90)

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'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 (100)
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 reliques. Who comes here? Enter PAROLLES. [Aside] (110)
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 fix'd 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.

Par.
Save you, fair queen!

Hel.
And you, monarch!

Par.
No. (120)

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.

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? (134)

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 't!

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 year 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
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?

Hel.
Not my virginity yet. . . .
There shall your master have a thousand loves, (181)
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--

Par.
What one, i' faith?

Hel.
That I wish well. 'Tis pity--

Par.
What's pity?

Hel.
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 (200)
Return us thanks. Enter Page.

Page.
Monsieur Parolles, my lord calls for you. [Exit.

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

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

Par.
Under Mars, I.

Hel.
I especially think, under Mars.

Par.
Why under Mars?

Hel.
The wars have so kept you under that (210)
you must needs be born under Mars.

Par.
When he was predominant.

Hel.
When he was retrograde, I think, rather.

Par.
Why think you so?

Hel.
You go so much backward when you fight.

Par.
That's for advantage.

Hel.
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 (219)
good wing, and I like the wear well.

Par.
I am so full of businesses, I cannot
answer thee acutely. I will return perfect courtier;
in the which, my instruction shall serve
to naturalize thee, so thou wilt be capable of
a courtier's counsel and understand what advice
shall thrust upon thee; else thou diest
in thine unthankfulness, and thine ignorance
makes thee away: farewell. When thou hast
leisure, say thy prayers; when thou hast none,
remember thy friends: get thee a good husband, (230)
and use him as he uses thee; so farewell. [Exit.

Hel.
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. (239)
Impossible be strange attempts to those
That weigh their pains in sense and do suppose
What hath been cannot be: who ever strove
To 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. [Exit.


SCENE II

Paris. The KING'S palace.
Flourish of cornets.
Enter the KING OF FRANCE, with letters, and divers Attendants.

King.
The Florentines and Senoys are by the ears;
Have fought with equal fortune and continue

A braving war.

First Lord.
So 'tis reported, sir.

King.
Nay, 'tis most credible; we here receive it
A certainty, vouch'd from our cousin Austria,
With caution that the Florentine will move us
For speedy aid; wherein our dearest friend
Prejudicates the business and would seem
To have us make denial.

First Lord.
His love and wisdom, (10)
Approved so to your majesty, may plead
For amplest credence.

King.
He hath arm'd our answer,
And Florence is denied before he comes:
Yet, for our gentlemen that mean to see
The Tuscan service, freely have they leave
To stand on either part.

Sec. Lord.
It well may serve
A nursery to our gentry, who are sick
For breathing and exploit.

King.
What's he comes here? Enter BERTRAM, LAFEU, and PAROLLES.

First Lord.
It is the Count Rousillon, my good lord,
Young Bertram.

King.
Youth, thou bear'st thy father's face; (20)
Frank nature, rather curious than in haste,
Hath well composed thee. Thy father's moral parts
Mayst thou inherit too! Welcome to Paris.

Ber.
My thanks and duty are your majesty's.

King.
I would I had that corporal soundness now,
As when thy father and myself in friendship
First tried our soldiership! He did look far
Into the service of the time and was
Discipled of the bravest: he lasted long;
But on us both did haggish age steal on
And wore us out of act. It much repairs me
(31)
To talk of your good father. In his youth
He had the wit which I can well observe
To-day in our young lords; but they may jest
Till their own scorn return to them unnoted
Ere they can hide their levity in honor:
So like a courtier, contempt nor bitterness
Were in his pride or sharpness; if they were,
His equal had awaked them, and his honour,
Clock to itself, knew the true minute when
(40)
Exception bid him speak, and at this time
His tongue obey'd his hand: who were below him
He used as creatures of another place
And bow'd his eminent top to their low ranks,
Making them proud of his humility,
In their poor praise he humbled. Such a man
Might be a copy to these younger times;
Which, follow'd well, would demonstrate them now
But goers backward.

Ber.
His good remembrance, sir,
Lies richer in your thoughts than on his tomb; (50)
So in approof lives not his epitaph
As in your royal speech.

King.
Would I were with him! He would always say--
Methinks I hear him now; his plausive words
He scatter'd not in ears, but grafted them,
To grow there and to bear,--'Let me not live,'--
This his good melancholy oft began,
On the catastrophe and heel of pastime,
When it was out,--'Let me not live,' quoth he, (59)
'After my flame lacks oil, to be the snuff
Of younger spirits, whose apprehensive senses
All but new things disdain; whose judgements are
Mere fathers of their garments; whose constancies
Expire before their fashions.' This he wish'd:
I after him do after him wish too,
Since I nor wax nor honey can bring home,
I quickly were dissolved from my hive,
To give some labourers room.

Sec. Lord.
You are loved, sir:
They that least lend it you shall lack you first.

King.
I fill a place, I know't. How long is't, count, (70)
Since the physician at your father's died?
He was much famed.

Ber.
Some six months since, my lord.

King.
If he were living, I would try him yet.
Lend me an arm; the rest have worn me out
With several applications: nature and sickness
Debate it at their leisure. Welcome, count;
My son's no dearer.

Ber.
Thank your majesty. [Exeunt. Flourish.


SCENE III

Rousillon. The COUNT'S palace.
Enter COUNTESS, Steward, and Clown.

Count.
I will now hear; what say you of
this gentlewoman?

Stew.
Madam, the care I have had to even
your content, I wish might be found in the calendar
of my past endeavours; for then we
wound our modesty and make foul the clearness
of our deservings, when of ourselves we
publish them.

Count.
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.

Clo.
'Tis not unknown to you, madam, I
am a poor fellow.

Count.
Well, sir.

Clo.
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 (21)
do as we may.

Count.
Wilt thou needs be a beggar?

Clo.
I do beg your good will in this case.

Count.
In what case?

Clo.
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.

Count.
Tell me thy reason why thou wilt (29)
marry.

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

Count.
Is this all your worship's reason?

Clo.
Faith, madam, I have other holy reasons,
such as they are.

Count.
May the world know them?

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

Count.
Thy marriage, sooner than thy (41)
wickedness.

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

Count.
Such friends are thine enemies, knave.

Clo.
You're shallow, madam, in great
friends; for the knaves come to do that for
me which I am aweary of. He that ears my
land spares my team and gives me leave to in
the crop; if I be his cuckold, he's my drudge:
he that comforts my wife is the cherisher of
my flesh and blood; he that cherisheth my flesh
and blood loves my flesh and blood is my friend: ergo,
blood; he that loves my flesh and blood is
he that kisses my wife is my friend. If men
could be contented to be what they are,
there were no fear in marriage; for young Charbon
the Puritan and old Poysam the papist, howsome'er
their hearts are severed in religion,
their heads are both one; they may joul horns
together, like any deer i' the herd.

Count.
Wilt thou ever be a foul-mouthed (61)
and calumnious knave?

Clo.
A prophet I, madam; and I speak the
the truth the next way:
For I the ballad will repeat,
Which men full true shall find;
Your marriage comes by dest'ny,
Your cuckoo sings by kind.

Count.
Get you gone, sir; I'll talk with you
more anon.

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

Count.
Sirrah, tell my gentlewoman I
would speak with her; Helen, I mean.

Clo.
Was this fair face the cause, quoth she,
Why the Grecians sacked Troy?
Fond done, done fond,
Was this King Priam's joy?
With that she sighed as she stood,
With that she sighed as she stood, (80)
And gave this sentence then;
Among nine bad if one be good,
Among nine bad if one be good,
There's yet one good in ten.

Count.
What, one good in ten? you corrupt
the song, sirrah.

Clo.
One good woman in ten, madam;
which is a purifying o' the song: would God
would serve the world so all the year; we'ld
find no fault with the tithe-woman, if I were
the parson. One in ten, quoth a'! An we
might have a good woman born but one every
blazing star, or at an earthquake, 'twould
mend the lottery well: a man may draw his
heart out, ere a' pluck one.

Count.
You'll be gone, sir knave, and do
as I command you.

Clo.
That man should be at woman's command,
and yet no hurt done! Though honesty
be no puritan, yet it will do no hurt; it
will wear the surplice of humility over the
black gown of a big heart. I am going, forsooth:
the business is for Helen to come hither. [Exit.

Count.
Well, now.

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

Count.
Faith, I do: her father bequeathed
her to me; and 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 (109)
she'll demand.

Stew.
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; Dian no queen of virgins,
that would suffer her poor knight surprised,
without rescue in the first assault or ransom
afterward. 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.

Count.
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: (140)
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.

Hel.
What is your pleasure, madam?

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

Hel.
Mine honourable mistress.

Count.
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 (150)
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? What's the matter,
That this distemper'd messenger of wet
The many-colour'd Iris, rounds thine eyes?
Why? that you are my daughter?

Hel.
That I am not.

Count.
I say, I am your mother.

Hel.
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.

Count.
Nor I your mother?

Hel.
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, (170)
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?

Count.
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, (180)
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 behaviours
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, (191)
Tell me truly.

Hel.
Good madam, pardon me!

Count.
Do you love my son?

Hel.
Your pardon, noble mistress!

Count.
Love you my son?

Hel.
Do not you love him, madam?

Count.
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.

Hel.
Then, I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven, (200)
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, (211)
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, (220)
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 (221)
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!

Count.
Had you not lately an intent, -- speak truly, --
To go to Paris?

Hel.
Madam, I had.

Count.
Wherefore? tell true.

Hel.
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; and that he will'd me (231)
In heedfull'st reservation to bestow them,
As notes whose faculties inclusive were
More than they were in note: amongst the rest
There is a remedy, approved, set down,
To cure the desperate languishings whereof
The king is render'd lost.

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

Hel.
My lord your son made me to think of this;
Else Paris and the medicine and the king (240)
Had from the conversation of my thoughts
Haply been absent then.

Count.
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?

Hel.
There's something in't,
More than my father's skill, which was the greatest (250)
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.

Count.
Dost thou believe it?

Hel.
Ay, madam, knowingly.

Count.
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 (260)
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.

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