List iconAll’s Well That Ends WellList icon

All’s Well That Ends Well
Act 4, scene 3

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Characters in the Play

Entire Play

In All’s Well That Ends Well, a woman is given in marriage to the man she longs for, but, because she…

Act 1, scene 1

Bertram, having become a ward of the court upon his father’s death, departs from Rossillion. Helen, whose own physician-father has…

Act 1, scene 2

The King of France refuses to take sides in the war between Siena and Florence, giving his courtiers permission to…

Act 1, scene 3

Bertram’s mother, the Countess of Rossillion, learns of Helen’s love for Bertram and forces Helen to confess this secret. When…

Act 2, scene 1

The King bids farewell to the French courtiers going off to war, having commanded Bertram to remain behind. Helen arrives…

Act 2, scene 2

The Countess sends the Fool to the court with a letter for Helen.

Act 2, scene 3

Having cured the King, Helen is given several courtiers from whom to choose a husband as her reward. When she…

Act 2, scene 4

Parolles brings Helen word that Bertram is leaving for Tuscany and that she is to get permission from the King…

Act 2, scene 5

Bertram is warned that Parolles is an untrustworthy coward. Bertram gives Helen a letter and instructs her to go immediately…

Act 3, scene 1

The Duke of Florence greets French courtiers who have come to fight on his side.

Act 3, scene 2

The Fool returns to Rossillion with a letter from Bertram that tells the Countess of his plan to run away…

Act 3, scene 3

Bertram is put in command of the Duke of Florence’s cavalry.

Act 3, scene 4

The Countess is given the letter left for her by Helen, in which Helen sets out her intention to make…

Act 3, scene 5

Helen, on her pilgrimage, meets Diana, whom Bertram has been attempting to seduce.

Act 3, scene 6

The French lords in Florence decide that Parolles’ unhappiness about the loss of the troop’s drum can be used as…

Act 3, scene 7

Helen enlists Diana’s mother in contriving to meet Bertram’s conditions. Diana will agree to sleep with Bertram on the condition…

Act 4, scene 1

Parolles is captured and blindfolded by a French lord and soldiers pretending to be the enemy who can speak to…

Act 4, scene 2

Diana agrees to lie with Bertram after he reluctantly gives her his ancestral ring.

Act 4, scene 3

News comes to the Duke of Florence’s court that Bertram’s wife has died while on pilgrimage. When Bertram enters, he…

Act 4, scene 4

Helen sets out with Diana and Diana’s mother to seek the King of France in Marseilles.

Act 4, scene 5

The Countess, who has learned of Helen’s death, receives word that the King of France is approaching Rossillion and then…

Act 5, scene 1

Helen finds herself unable to petition the King because he has already departed for Rossillion.

Act 5, scene 2

Parolles arrives at Rossillion and persuades Lafew to take him into his service.

Act 5, scene 3

The King forgives Bertram and agrees to a marriage between Bertram and Lafew’s daughter. Bertram gives Lafew a ring, which…

Act 5, epilogue

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Scene 3
Enter the two French Lords and some two
or three Soldiers.


FIRST LORD You have not given him his mother’s
 letter?
SECOND LORD I have delivered it an hour since. There
 is something in ’t that stings his nature, for on the
5 reading it he changed almost into another man.
FIRST LORD He has much worthy blame laid upon him
 for shaking off so good a wife and so sweet a lady.
SECOND LORD Especially he hath incurred the everlasting
 displeasure of the King, who had even tuned
10 his bounty to sing happiness to him. I will tell you
 a thing, but you shall let it dwell darkly with you.

153
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 4. SC. 3

FIRST LORD When you have spoken it, ’tis dead, and I
 am the grave of it.
SECOND LORD He hath perverted a young gentlewoman
15 here in Florence of a most chaste renown,
 and this night he fleshes his will in the spoil of her
 honor. He hath given her his monumental ring and
 thinks himself made in the unchaste composition.
FIRST LORD Now God delay our rebellion! As we are
20 ourselves, what things are we!
SECOND 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 abhorred
 ends, so he that in this action contrives against his
25 own nobility, in his proper stream o’erflows
 himself.
FIRST LORD Is it not meant damnable in us to be trumpeters
 of our unlawful intents? We shall not, then,
 have his company tonight?
SECOND LORD 30Not till after midnight, for he is dieted to
 his hour.
FIRST LORD That approaches apace. I would gladly
 have him see his company anatomized, that he
 might take a measure of his own judgments
35 wherein so curiously he had set this counterfeit.
SECOND LORD We will not meddle with him till he
 come, for his presence must be the whip of the
 other.
FIRST LORD In the meantime, what hear you of these
40 wars?
SECOND LORD I hear there is an overture of peace.
FIRST LORD Nay, I assure you, a peace concluded.
SECOND LORD What will Count Rossillion do then?
 Will he travel higher or return again into France?
FIRST LORD 45I perceive by this demand you are not altogether
 of his counsel.
SECOND LORD Let it be forbid, sir! So should I be a
 great deal of his act.

155
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 4. SC. 3

FIRST LORD Sir, his wife some two months since fled
50 from his house. Her pretense is a pilgrimage to
 Saint Jaques le Grand, which holy undertaking
 with most austere sanctimony she accomplished.
 And, there residing, the tenderness of her nature
 became as a prey to her grief; in fine, made a groan
55 of her last breath, and now she sings in heaven.
SECOND LORD How is this justified?
FIRST 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
60 office to say is come, was faithfully confirmed by
 the rector of the place.
SECOND LORD Hath the Count all this intelligence?
FIRST LORD Ay, and the particular confirmations, point
 from point, to the full arming of the verity.
SECOND LORD 65I am heartily sorry that he’ll be glad of
 this.
FIRST LORD How mightily sometimes we make us
 comforts of our losses.
SECOND LORD And how mightily some other times we
70 drown our gain in tears. The great dignity that his
 valor hath here acquired for him shall at home be
 encountered with a shame as ample.
FIRST LORD The web of our life is of a mingled yarn,
 good and ill together. Our virtues would be proud
75 if our faults whipped them not, and our crimes
 would despair if they were not cherished by our
 virtues.

Enter a Servant.

 How now? Where’s your master?
SERVANT He met the Duke in the street, sir, of whom
80 he hath taken a solemn leave. His Lordship will
 next morning for France. The Duke hath offered
 him letters of commendations to the King.

157
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 4. SC. 3

SECOND LORD They shall be no more than needful
 there, if they were more than they can commend.
85 They cannot be too sweet for the King’s tartness.

Enter Bertram Count Rossillion.

 Here’s his Lordship now.—How now, my lord? Is ’t
 not after midnight?
BERTRAM I have tonight dispatched sixteen businesses,
 a month’s length apiece. By an abstract of
90 success: I have congeed with the Duke, done my
 adieu with his nearest, buried a wife, mourned for
 her, writ to my lady mother I am returning, entertained
 my convoy, and between these main parcels
 of dispatch effected many nicer needs. The last
95 was the greatest, but that I have not ended yet.
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
100 to hear of it hereafter. But shall we have this dialogue
 between the Fool and the Soldier? Come,
 bring forth this counterfeit module; has deceived
 me like a double-meaning prophesier.
SECOND LORD Bring him forth. Has sat i’ th’ stocks all
105 night, poor gallant knave.Soldiers exit.
BERTRAM No matter. His heels have deserved it in
 usurping his spurs so long. How does he carry
 himself?
SECOND LORD I have told your Lordship already: the
110 stocks carry him. But to answer you as you would
 be understood: he weeps like a wench that had
 shed her milk. He hath confessed himself to Morgan,
 whom he supposes to be a friar, from the time
 of his remembrance to this very instant disaster of
115 his setting i’ th’ stocks. And what think you he hath
 confessed?

159
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 4. SC. 3

BERTRAM Nothing of me, has he?
SECOND LORD His confession is taken, and it shall be
 read to his face. If your Lordship be in ’t, as I
120 believe you are, you must have the patience to
 hear it.

Enter Parolles, blindfolded, with his Interpreter,
the First Soldier.


BERTRAM A plague upon him! Muffled! He can say
 nothing of me.
FIRST LORD, aside to Bertram Hush, hush. Hoodman
125 comes.—Portotartarossa.
FIRST SOLDIER, to Parolles He calls for the tortures.
 What will you say without ’em?
PAROLLES I will confess what I know without constraint.
 If you pinch me like a pasty, I can say no
130 more.
FIRST SOLDIER Bosko Chimurcho.
FIRST LORD Boblibindo chicurmurco.
FIRST SOLDIER You are a merciful general.—Our general
 bids you answer to what I shall ask you out of a
135 note.
PAROLLES And truly, as I hope to live.
FIRST SOLDIER, as if reading a note First, demand of
 him how many horse the Duke is strong.
—What say
 you to that?
PAROLLES 140Five 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 145Do. I’ll take the Sacrament on ’t, how and
 which way you will.
BERTRAM, aside All’s one to him. What a past-saving
 slave is this!
FIRST LORD, aside to Bertram You’re deceived, my

161
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 4. SC. 3

150 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.
SECOND LORD, aside I will never trust a man again for
155 keeping his sword clean, nor believe he can have
 everything in him by wearing his apparel neatly.
FIRST SOLDIER, to Parolles 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
160 truth.
FIRST LORD, aside He’s very near the truth in this.
BERTRAM, aside But I con him no thanks for ’t, in the
 nature he delivers it.
PAROLLES “Poor rogues,” I pray you say.
FIRST SOLDIER 165Well, that’s set down.
PAROLLES I humbly thank you, sir. A truth’s a truth.
 The rogues are marvelous poor.
FIRST SOLDIER, as if reading a note Demand of him of
 what strength they are o’ foot.
—What say you to
170 that?
PAROLLES By my troth, sir, if I were to live but 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,
175 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
180 snow from off their cassocks lest they shake themselves
 to pieces.
BERTRAM, aside What shall be done to him?
FIRST LORD, aside Nothing but let him have thanks.
 (Aside to First Soldier.) Demand of him my condition
185 and what credit I have with the Duke.

163
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 4. SC. 3

FIRST SOLDIER, to Parolles Well, that’s set down. Pretending
 to read: 
You shall demand of him whether
 one Captain Dumaine be i’ th’ camp, a Frenchman;
 what his reputation is with the Duke, what his valor,
190 honesty, and 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
195 of the inter’gatories. Demand them singly.
FIRST SOLDIER Do you know this Captain Dumaine?
PAROLLES I know him. He was a botcher’s prentice in
 Paris, from whence he was whipped for getting the
 shrieve’s fool with child, a dumb innocent that
200 could not say him nay.
BERTRAM, aside to First Lord 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
205 Florence’s camp?
PAROLLES Upon my knowledge he is, and lousy.
FIRST LORD, aside to Bertram Nay, look not so upon
 me. We shall hear of your Lordship anon.
FIRST SOLDIER What is his reputation with the Duke?
PAROLLES 210The 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.
They search Parolles’ pockets.
PAROLLES 215In 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 220I do not know if it be it or no.

165
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 4. SC. 3

BERTRAM, aside Our interpreter does it well.
FIRST LORD, aside Excellently.
FIRST SOLDIER reads Dian, the Count’s a fool and full
 of gold—

PAROLLES 225That 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
 Rossillion, a foolish idle boy, but for all that very
 ruttish. I pray you, sir, put it up again.
FIRST SOLDIER 230Nay, I’ll read it first, by your favor.
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
235 finds.
BERTRAM, aside 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.
240 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.
245 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 vowed to thee in thine ear,
 Parolles.

BERTRAM, aside He shall be whipped through the
250 army with this rhyme in ’s forehead.
SECOND LORD, aside This is your devoted friend, sir,
 the manifold linguist and the armipotent soldier.
BERTRAM, aside I could endure anything before but a
 cat, and now he’s a cat to me.
FIRST SOLDIER, to Parolles 255I perceive, sir, by our
 general’s looks we shall be fain to hang you.

167
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 4. SC. 3

PAROLLES My life, sir, in any case! Not that I am afraid
 to die, but that, my offenses being many, I would
 repent out the remainder of nature. Let me live,
260 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
 Dumaine: you have answered to his reputation
265 with the Duke, and to his valor. What is his
 honesty?
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
270 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
275 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.
FIRST LORD, aside I begin to love him for this.
BERTRAM, aside 280For 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
285 tragedians. To belie him I will not, and more
 of his soldiership I know not, except in that country
 he had the honor to be the officer at a place
 there called Mile End, to instruct for the doubling
 of files. I would do the man what honor I can, but
290 of this I am not certain.
FIRST LORD, aside He hath out-villained villainy so
 far that the rarity redeems him.

169
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 4. SC. 3

BERTRAM, aside A pox on him! He’s a cat still.
FIRST SOLDIER His qualities being at this poor price,
295 I need not to ask you if gold will corrupt him to
 revolt.
PAROLLES Sir, for a cardecu he will sell the fee-simple
 of his salvation, the inheritance of it, and cut th’
 entail from all remainders, and a perpetual succession
300 for it perpetually.
FIRST SOLDIER What’s his brother, the other Captain
 Dumaine?
SECOND LORD, aside Why does he ask him of me?
FIRST SOLDIER What’s he?
PAROLLES 305E’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
310 he has the cramp.
FIRST SOLDIER If your life be saved, will you undertake
 to betray the Florentine?
PAROLLES Ay, and the captain of his horse, Count
 Rossillion.
FIRST SOLDIER 315I’ll whisper with the General and know
 his pleasure.
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
320 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
325 discovered 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, off with his
 head.

171
All’s Well That Ends Well
ACT 4. SC. 3

PAROLLES 330O Lord, sir, let me live, or let me see my
 death!
FIRST SOLDIER That shall you, and take your leave of
 all your friends. He removes the blindfold. So,
 look about you. Know you any here?
BERTRAM 335Good morrow, noble captain.
SECOND LORD God bless you, Captain Parolles.
FIRST LORD God save you, noble captain.
SECOND LORD Captain, what greeting will you to my
 Lord Lafew? I am for France.
FIRST LORD 340Good captain, will you give me a copy of
 the sonnet you writ to Diana in behalf of the Count
 Rossillion? An I were not a very coward, I’d compel
 it of you. But fare you well.
Bertram and Lords exit.
FIRST SOLDIER You are undone, captain—all but your
345 scarf; that has a knot on ’t yet.
PAROLLES Who cannot be crushed 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
350 you well, sir. I am for France too. We shall speak of
 you there.He exits.
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
355 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
360 Safest in shame. Being fooled, by fool’ry thrive.
 There’s place and means for every man alive.
 I’ll after them.He exits.