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All's Well That Ends Well

All's Well That Ends Well Translation Act 1, Scene 3

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Enter COUNTESS, Steward, and Clown

COUNTESS

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

COUNTESS

I will hear you now. What do you say of this gentlewoman?

STEWARD

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.

STEWARD

Madam, I hope you'll recognize in my past behavior how much care I've taken to make you happy. It would be harmful to my modesty and would muddy my clear honor if I were to announce my past deeds myself. 

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.

COUNTESS

What is this rogue doing here?

[To the CLOWN]
Get out of here, slave. I don't believe all the complaints I've heard of you. It's my own fault that I don't believe them because I know you're foolish enough to do these things, and you have the ability to misbehave in these ways. 

CLOWN

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

CLOWN

It's not unknown to you, madam, that I am a poor fellow. 

COUNTESS

Well, sir.

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.

CLOWN

No, madam, it's not so well that I am poor, although many rich people are damned. But, if I have your ladyship's good permission to go out into the world, Isbel the servant girl and I will do what we can. 

COUNTESS

Wilt thou needs be a beggar?

COUNTESS

Will you need to be a beggar?

CLOWN

I do beg your good will in this case.

CLOWN

I do beg for your good will in this case?

COUNTESS

In what 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.

CLOWN

In the case of Isbel and myself. Being servants doesn't build up much of an inheritance, and I don't think I'll ever have God's blessing until I've had children, for they say kids are blessings. 

COUNTESS

Tell me thy reason why thou wilt marry.

COUNTESS

Tell me why you want to marry. 

CLOWN

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

CLOWN

My poor body, madam, requires it. I am driven on by the desires of the flesh and I must respond to the devil's commands. 

COUNTESS

Is this all your worship's reason?

COUNTESS

Is this your only reason?

CLOWN

Faith, madam, I have other holy reasons such as theyare.

CLOWN

Actually, madam, I have other nicer reasons as it so happens. 

COUNTESS

May the world know them?

COUNTESS

May the world know what they are?

CLOWN

I have been, madam, a wicked creature, as you andall flesh and blood are; and, indeed, I do marrythat I may repent.

CLOWN

I have been, madam, a wicked creature, just as you and anyone of flesh and blood have been. Indeed, I want to get married so that I can repent. 

COUNTESS

Thy marriage, sooner than thy wickedness.

COUNTESS

You'll repent your marriage before you repent your wickedness. 

CLOWN

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

CLOWN

I have no friends, madam, and I hope to have friends for my wife's sake. 

COUNTESS

Such friends are thine enemies, knave.

COUNTESS

Such friends are your enemies, fool. 

CLOWN

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 cherishes my flesh and blood loves my flesh and blood; he that loves my flesh and blood is my friend: ergo, 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 jowl horns together, like any deer i' the herd.

CLOWN

You're not too knowledgable, madam, about great friends. The rogues come to do things for me that I'm tired of doing for myself. He that takes care of my land and spares my animals from having to do the work leaves me time to focus on the harvest. If he ends up sleeping with my wife, he's my slave: he that comforts my wife cherishes my flesh and blood; he that cherishes my flesh and blood loves my flesh and blood; he that loves my flesh and blood is my friend. Therefore, he that kisses my wife is my friend. If men could be happy to be what they are, they wouldn't be afraid to get married. Young Charbon the Puritan and old Poysam the Papist, even though they have different religions, have the same head. They can knock their horns together like any deers in the herd. 

COUNTESS

Wilt thou ever be a foul-mouthed and calumnious knave?

COUNTESS

Will you always be a foul-mouthed and lying knave?

CLOWN

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

CLOWN

I'll be a prophet, madam, and I speak the truth this way: 

[Singing] For I will repeat the song that honest men will find to be true. Your marriage is fate, your cuckoo sings its natural song. 

COUNTESS

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

COUNTESS

Leave, sir. I'll talk with you more later. 

STEWARD

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

STEWARD

If it's alright with you, madam, he should tell Helena to come to you. Its about her I need to discuss. 

COUNTESS

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

COUNTESS

Sir, tell my gentlewoman I want to speak with her. Helena, I mean. 

CLOWN

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, 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.

CLOWN

[Singing] Was this fair face the cause, she asked,
Of why the Greeks destroyed Troy?
Foolishly done, lovingly done,
Was this the joy of King Priam?
With that she sighed while she stood,
With that she sighed while she stood,
And then gave this sentence:
If there is one good among nine bad,
If there is one good among nine bad,
There's still one good in ten. 

COUNTESS

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

COUNTESS

What, one good in ten? You ruined the song, sir. 

CLOWN

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.

CLOWN

One good woman in ten, madam, which purifies the song. If only God would serve the world as I've served the song all year! We'd find nothing bad about the one woman in ten if I were the parson. One in ten, I sing! If we might have a good woman born once every comet or during an earthquake, it would help our chances: a man can tear his heart out before he finds a good woman. 

COUNTESS

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

COUNTESS

Get out of here, rogue, and do as I command you. 

CLOWN

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.

CLOwn

Can you imagine, woman should command man and no harm is done by it! Although my honest character doesn't follow strict morals, it won't do any harm. I will, like a secret Puritan, wear my Anglican robes over my black gown that shows my true colors. I am going now: my task is to summon Helena here. 

Exit

COUNTESS

Well, now.

COUNTESS

Well, now. 

STEWARD

I know, madam, you love your gentlewoman entirely.

STEWARD

I know, madam, you love your gentlewoman completely. 

COUNTESS

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 she'll demand.

COUNTESS

Well, yes, I do. Her father left her in my care, and she herself, regardless of any other qualities, deserves as much love as she can find, wherever she can find it. She is owed more than she's been paid, and she'll be paid more than she'd ever 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; 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.

STEWARD

Madam, I recently was nearer to her than I think she wanted me to be. She was alone, and spoke her words for her own ears only. She thought, I'd assume on her behalf, that no one else could hear. Her subject was that she loved your son. Fortune, she said, was no goddess, that had put such a difference between their stations. Love was no god that would not bless the union of two people of different social levels. Diana is no queen of virgins that would allow her poor servant to be so captured by love without any way to be rescued from the passion or to earn her love later. She delivered this in the most bitter tone of sorrow that I've ever heard a virgin give. I thought it was my duty to share this information with you quickly. Since, in the grief that might follow, it's important for you to know about 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.

COUNTESS

You've done your duty honestly. Keep it to yourself. Many moments made me suspect this before, but it was so uncertain that I could neither believe it nor doubt it. Please, leave me. Keep this in your heart and I thank you for your honest service. I will speak with you further later. 

Exit Steward

Enter HELENA

COUNTESS

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.

COUNTESS

[To herself] It was just like this for me when I was young. If we belong to nature, these things happen: this thorn of love accompanies our rose of youth. Our blood gives into these passions. When love's strong passion emerges in youth, that's how we know that nature's doing its job. In our memories of days long gone, these were our faults, but then we didn't think of them as faults. Her face looks ill with love: I watch her now. 

HELENA

What is your pleasure, madam?

HELENA

Why did you summon me, madam?

COUNTESS

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

COUNTESS

You know, Helena, I am a mother to you. 

HELENA

Mine honourable mistress.

HELENA

My honorable 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? What's the matter, That this distemper'd messenger of wet, The many-colour'd Iris, rounds thine eye? Why? that you are my daughter?

COUNTESS

No, a mother. Why not a mother? When I said "a mother," I thought you saw a snake. What's in "mother" that so startles you? I say, I am your mother, and I put you in the list of my children that came out of my womb. It's often the case that adopted children feel as close to us as natural children and the family that we choose feel as familiar to us even though they came from another family tree. You never put me through labor pains, but I still tell you I have a mother's love for you. By god, lady! Does it boil your blood to hear me say I am your mother? What's the matter, that Iris, the rainbow-goddess messenger of the rain clouds, brings tears to your eye? Why? Because you are my daughter?

HELENA

That I am not.

HELENA

Because I am not your daughter. 

COUNTESS

I say, I am your mother.

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.

HELENA

I'm sorry, madam. The Count Rousillon cannot be my brother. I come from humble origins, he from an honorable family. My parents are nobodies, his are nobles. He's my master, my dear lord. And I live as his servant and will die as his subject. He must not be my brother. 

COUNTESS

Nor I your mother?

COUNTESS

And I must not be 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?

HELENA

You are my mother, madam. I wish you were—if only my lord your son were not then my brother—indeed, my mother! Even if you were both our mothers, I'd rather die, as long as I'm not his sister. Is there no way for me to be your daughter without him being 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.

COUNTESS

Yes, Helena, you might be my daughter-in-law. God save you from meaning it! "Daughter" and "mother" make your pulse quicken. What, why have you turned pale again? My fear has found out your fondness: now I have solved the mystery of your loneliness, and I see where your tears come from. Now it's completely clear to me that you love my son. It would be shameful to deny it, given how clearly your looks proclaim your passions. Therefore, tell me the truth, and tell me it's true. Your cheeks are confessing it in their blushes, one to the other, and your eyes are so obviously demonstrating it in their behavior that they're practically speaking it. Only sinful and damned stubbornness keeps you from speaking along with your frustration that the truth should be suspected. Speak, is it true? If it is, you've made a good tangle of things. If not, swear it. But, I command you, as heaven will help me fight for you, tell me the truth. 

HELENA

Good madam, pardon me!

HELENA

Good madam, forgive me! 

COUNTESS

Do you love my son?

COUNTESS

Do you love my son?

HELENA

Your pardon, noble mistress!

HELENA

I beg your pardon, noble mistress! 

COUNTESS

Love you my son?

COUNTESS

Do you love my son?

HELENA

Do not you love him, madam?

HELENA

Don't 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.

COUNTESS

Don't mess around with me. My love for you is strong enough that everyone recognizes it. Come, come, tell me what your affections are, for your passions have already given you away. 

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!

HELENA

Then, I confess, here on my knee, before heaven and you, first to you, and then to heaven, I love your son. My friends were poor but honest and my love is too. Don't be offended, for it doesn't hurt him to be loved by me. I don't follow him claiming anything of him and I wouldn't want to be with him until I'm worthy of him. I don't know how I'd ever be worthy of him. I know I love him in vain, I have no hope. It's like I pour the waters of my love into a strainer trying to catch them, but they always evade me. So, like an Indian, worshipping the wrong religion, I adore the sun, that looks down on his worshipper but doesn't even know the one who worships him exists. My dearest madam, don't hate me for loving the son that you love. If you yourself—whose honor in old age suggests you were a virtuous young woman, ever loved chastely and passionately like me, so that Diana, goddess of chastity, and Venus, goddess of love, merged into one—oh, then, give pity to a girl whose condition means that she cannot choose but to give her love to someone who can never return it. She is a girl who won't seek to pursue her love but will keep her secret sweetly until death! 

COUNTESS

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

COUNTESS

Did you not recently have a plan—speak honestly—to go to Paris?

HELENA

Madam, I had.

HELENA

Madam, I did. 

COUNTESS

Wherefore? tell true.

COUNTESS

Why? Tell the truth. 

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; and that he will'd me 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.

HELENA

I will tell the truth; I swear to God. You know that my father left me some medicines with rare and tested powers that he collected for general usefulness based on his reading and impressive experience. He meant to leave them to me for safe-keeping and to use since I understood that their powers were beyond the reputation that they carry. Among those medicines, there is a remedy, that's been tested and studied, that will cure the terrible sickness that is thought to be a death sentence for the king. 

COUNTESS

This was your motiveFor Paris, was it? speak.

COUNTESS

That was your reason to go to 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.

HELENA

My lord your son gave me this idea. Otherwise Paris and the medicine and the king would never have crossed my mind. 

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?

COUNTESS

But do you think, Helena, if you should offer this supposed help to the king that he would accept it? He and his physicians all think the same thing: he thinks they can't help him and they think that he can't be helped. Why would they trust a poor, uneducated virgin, when the leading doctors, having put all of their learning to practice, have left the sickness to take its natural course?

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.

HELENA

My hope is that, beyond just my father's skill, which was the greatest of his profession, that his good reputation will be blessed by all the stars in heaven and will bring me good fortune. And, if your ladyship would only give me the chance to attempt success, I'd wager my life on his grace being cured down to the very day and hour. 

COUNTESS

Dost thou believe't?

COUNTESS

Do you really believe it?

HELENA

Ay, madam, knowingly.

HELENA

Yes, madam, completely. 

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.

COUNTESS

Why, Helena, you will have my permission and love, everything you need to travel and servants to wait on you and my loving greetings to my friends at court. I'll stay at home and pray for God's blessing in your attempt. Leave tomorrow, and be sure of this: anything that I can help you with, you shall have. 

Exeunt

All s well that ends well
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Dan rubins
About the Translator: Dan Rubins

Dan Rubins is currently completing his MA in Shakespeare Studies from King's College London/Shakespeare's Globe and will be pursuing an MA in Elementary Inclusive Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. He holds a BA in English from Yale University. His Masters dissertation focuses on announcements of death in early modern drama, and other research areas of interest include Shakespeare in transformative contexts (prisons, schools, etc.) and rhyme in Shakespeare's dramatic texts. In addition to teaching and learning, he also writes theatre reviews (often of Shakespeare productions), composes musical theatre (frequently with Shakespearean inspirations), and sings in choirs (occasionally in Shakespearean choral settings).