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All's Well That Ends Well

All's Well That Ends Well Translation Act 2, Scene 1

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Flourish of cornets. Enter the KING, attended with divers young Lords taking leave for the Florentine war; BERTRAM, and PAROLLES

KING

Farewell, young lords; these warlike principles Do not throw from you: and you, my lords, farewell: Share the advice betwixt you; if both gain all, The gift doth stretch itself as 'tis received, And is enough for both.

KING

Farewell, young lords. Don't forget your warlike principles.

[To a different group of lords] And you, my lords, farewell: share the advice between you. If you both gain all the knowledge, the gift of the advice will spread and will be sufficient. 

FIRST LORD

'Tis our hope, sir,After well enter'd soldiers, to returnAnd find your grace in health.

FIRST LORD

It's our hope sir, after we've fought well, to return and find your grace in good health. 

KING

No, no, it cannot be; and yet my heart Will not confess he owes the malady That doth my life besiege. Farewell, young lords; Whether I live or die, be you the sons Of worthy Frenchmen: let higher Italy,— Those bated that inherit but the fall Of the last monarchy,—see that you come Not to woo honour, but to wed it; when The bravest questant shrinks, find what you seek, That fame may cry you loud: I say, farewell.

KING

No, no, it cannot be. And yet my heart will not admit that I am sick and dying. Farewell, young lords. Whether I live or die, act like the sons of worthy Frenchmen. Let strong Italy—those lesser people that inherit only the fallen Roman Empire—see that you haven't come just to court honor like a lover but to marry it. When the bravest man of them flees, push onwards, and fame will remember you well for it. I say, farewell. 

SECOND LORD

Health, at your bidding, serve your majesty!

SECOND LORD

Health, upon your command, serve your majesty! 

KING

Those girls of Italy, take heed of them: They say, our French lack language to deny, If they demand: beware of being captives, Before you serve.

KING

Take heed of those girls from Italy. They say that Frenchmen don't have the language to deny what they demand. Beware of falling captive to them before you serve your captains. 

BOTH

Our hearts receive your warnings.

BOTH

We hear your warnings. 

KING

Farewell. Come hither to me.

KING

Farewell. Come along with me. 

Exit, attended

FIRST LORD

O, my sweet lord, that you will stay behind us!

FIRST LORD

[To BERTRAM] Oh, my dear lord, what a shame that you must stay behind! 

PAROLLES

'Tis not his fault, the spark.

PAROLLES

It's not his fault, the little bugger. 

SECOND LORD

O, 'tis brave wars!

SECOND LORD

Oh, these are exciting wars! 

PAROLLES

Most admirable: I have seen those wars.

PAROLLES

Most admirable: I have seen the wars. 

BERTRAM

I am commanded here, and kept a coil with'Too young' and 'the next year' and ''tis too early.'

BERTRAM

I am commanded to remain here, and am told I am "Too young" and "the next year" and "it's too early."

PAROLLES

An thy mind stand to't, boy, steal away bravely.

PAROLLES

If you're fixed on fighting, boy, steal away to the wars bravely. 

BERTRAM

I shall stay here the forehorse to a smock, Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry, Till honour be bought up and no sword worn But one to dance with! By heaven, I'll steal away.

BERTRAM

Otherwise, I'd stay here to dance with women, creaking my shoes on the flat stone, until there was honor left to buy. I'd wear no sword except one to dance with. By heaven, I'll steal away. 

FIRST LORD

There's honour in the theft.

FIRST LORD

There's honor in stealing if you're stealing away to fight. 

PAROLLES

Commit it, count.

PAROLLES

Commit to doing this, count. 

SECOND LORD

I am your accessary; and so, farewell.

SECOND LORD

I am your accomplice in this, and so, farewell. 

BERTRAM

I grow to you, and our parting is a tortured body.

BERTRAM

I've enjoyed our growing friendship, and our parting is torturous. 

FIRST LORD

Farewell, captain.

FIRST LORD

Farewell, captain. 

SECOND LORD

Sweet Monsieur Parolles!

SECOND LORD

Sweet Monsieur Parolles! 

PAROLLES

Noble heroes, my sword and yours are kin. Good sparks and lustrous, a word, good metals: you shall find in the regiment of the Spinii one Captain Spurio, with his cicatrice, an emblem of war, here on his sinister cheek; it was this very sword entrenched it: say to him, I live; and observe his reports for me.

PAROLLES

Noble heroes, my sword and yours are family. Good young buggers and shiny, in a word, good young metals: you shall find in the regiment of the Spinii a man named Captain Spurio, with his scar, received in war, here on his evil cheek. It was this very sword that gave him the wound. Tell him that I live and observe how he reacts for me. 

FIRST LORD

We shall, noble captain.

FIRST LORD

We shall, noble captain. 

Exeunt Lords

PAROLLES

Mars dote on you for his novices! what will ye do?

PAROLLES

May Mars look down on you, his young warriors! What will you do, Bertram?

BERTRAM

Stay: the king.

BERTRAM

Hold on: the king comes. 

Re-enter KING. BERTRAM and PAROLLES retire

PAROLLES

[To BERTRAM] Use a more spacious ceremony to the noble lords; you have restrained yourself within the list of too cold an adieu: be more expressive to them: for they wear themselves in the cap of the time, there do muster true gait, eat, speak, and move under the influence of the most received star; and though the devil lead the measure, such are to be followed: after them, and take a more dilated farewell.

PAROLLES

[To BERTRAM] Speak with more warmth to the noble lords. You've held back and just said a cold farewell. Be more expressive to them: they behave in the new fashion, and they walk, eat, speak, and move following the most successful, popular trends. Even though the devil may be behind these fashions, you want an in with them. Follow after them, and have a more extended farewell. 

BERTRAM

And I will do so.

BERTRAM

And I will do so. 

PAROLLES

Worthy fellows; and like to prove most sinewy sword-men.

PAROLLES

They're worthy fellows, and they'll probably prove to be talented sword-men. 

Exeunt BERTRAM and PAROLLES

Enter LAFEU

LAFEU

[Kneeling] Pardon, my lord, for me and for my tidings.

LAFEU

[Kneeling] Give pardon, my lord, to me and my news. 

KING

I'll fee thee to stand up.

KING

I'll ask you to stand up. 

LAFEU

Then here's a man stands, that has brought his pardon.I would you had kneel'd, my lord, to ask me mercy,And that at my bidding you could so stand up.

LAFEU

Then a man stands here before you having received his pardon. I wish you had kneeled, my lord, to ask me for mercy, and that you'd have waited for my permission to stand up too. 

KING

I would I had; so I had broke thy pate,And ask'd thee mercy for't.

KING

I wish I had. Then I'd have broken your head and asked you mercy for that. 

LAFEU

Good faith, across: but, my good lord 'tis thus;Will you be cured of your infirmity?

LAFEU

That's well said. But, my good lord, I have to ask you, will you be cured of your disease?

KING

No.

KING

No. 

LAFEU

O, will you eat no grapes, my royal fox? Yes, but you will my noble grapes, an if My royal fox could reach them: I have seen a medicine That's able to breathe life into a stone, Quicken a rock, and make you dance canary With spritely fire and motion; whose simple touch, Is powerful to araise King Pepin, nay, To give great Charlemain a pen in's hand, And write to her a love-line.

LAFEU

Oh, do you not like to eat grapes, my royal fox? Yes, but you will eat the noble grapes that I bring, if my royal fox can reach them. I've been shown a medicine that can breathe life into a stone, bring a rock to life, and make you dance the canary with spritely energy and vigor. The simple touch of this medicine is powerful enough to resurrect King Pepin, no, to resurrect great Charlemagne, put a pen in his hand, and have him write to her a love letter. 

KING

What 'her' is this?

KING

What "her" do you speak of?

LAFEU

Why, Doctor She: my lord, there's one arrived, If you will see her: now, by my faith and honour, If seriously I may convey my thoughts In this my light deliverance, I have spoke With one that, in her sex, her years, profession, Wisdom and constancy, hath amazed me more Than I dare blame my weakness: will you see her For that is her demand, and know her business? That done, laugh well at me.

LAFEU

Why, Doctor She: my lord, there's a lady who's arrived if you will now see her. Now, by my faith and honor, if I can seriously share my thoughts beyond this silly speech, I have spoken with a woman that, in her gender, her age, profession, wisdom, and loyalty, has amazed me more than I can blame on my weakness for her beauty. Will you see her and know what she has to say? That is her demand. Once you've done that, you can laugh at me all you want. 

KING

Now, good Lafeu, Bring in the admiration; that we with thee May spend our wonder too, or take off thine By wondering how thou took'st it.

KING

Now, good Lafeu, bring in this admirable woman. Along with you, I'll wonder at her too, or, at the very least, I'll wonder why you found her so wonderful. 

LAFEU

Nay, I'll fit you,And not be all day neither.

LAFEU

No, I'll get her for you, and I won't take all day either. 

Exit

KING

Thus he his special nothing ever prologues.

KING

He always introduces his topic with this special nonsense. 

Re-enter LAFEU, with HELENA

LAFEU

Nay, come your ways.

LAFEU

No, come along. 

KING

This haste hath wings indeed.

KING

You've done this quickly indeed. 

LAFEU

Nay, come your ways: This is his majesty; say your mind to him: A traitor you do look like; but such traitors His majesty seldom fears: I am Cressid's uncle, That dare leave two together; fare you well.

LAFEU

No, come along. This is his majesty, say what you will to him. You look like a traitor, but his majesty is seldom afraid of traitors who look like this. I'm like Cressida's uncle, daring to leave a man and a woman together. Farewell. 

Exit

KING

Now, fair one, does your business follow us?

KING

Now, beautiful one, does your business here have to do with me?

HELENA

Ay, my good lord.Gerard de Narbon was my father;In what he did profess, well found.

HELENA

Yes, my good lord. Gerard de Carbon was my father. He was well-renowned in his profession. 

KING

I knew him.

KING

I knew him. 

HELENA

The rather will I spare my praises towards him: Knowing him is enough. On's bed of death Many receipts he gave me: chiefly one. Which, as the dearest issue of his practise, And of his old experience the oily darling, He bade me store up, as a triple eye, Safer than mine own two, more dear; I have so; And hearing your high majesty is touch'd With that malignant cause wherein the honour Of my dear father's gift stands chief in power, I come to tender it and my appliance With all bound humbleness.

HELENA

Then I won't waste breath praising him. If you know him, that's enough. On his deathbed, he gave me many medicines, but one in particular. That one, as the most special product of all his work, and his favorite of all his practice, he commanded me to store up, and to watch it as if I had three eyes, more safely than I could with these two, more dearly. I have done so. Now, since I've heard your majesty is infected with this terrible disease that my dear father's medicine was made to cure, I come to offer it to you, along with my medical care, with all appropriate humility. 

KING

We thank you, maiden; But may not be so credulous of cure, When our most learned doctors leave us and The congregated college have concluded That labouring art can never ransom nature From her inaidible estate; I say we must not So stain our judgment, or corrupt our hope, To prostitute our past-cure malady To empirics, or to dissever so Our great self and our credit, to esteem A senseless help when help past sense we deem.

KING

Thank you for that, girl. But I don't believe so quickly in this cure when the most educated doctors in the land have given up and their gathered colleagues have concluded that no medicine will ever defeat nature in this helpless condition. I wouldn't want to cast aside my judgement, or overreach my hope, to offer up my incurable sickness to quacks, or to so divide my great self and my reputation, to pursue an impossible cure when I've been called beyond help. 

HELENA

My duty then shall pay me for my pains: I will no more enforce mine office on you. Humbly entreating from your royal thoughts A modest one, to bear me back again.

HELENA

Having done my duty in making you this offer will be enough payment for coming here. I won't try harder to convince you to try this. I just humbly ask your highness kindly to send me back home again. 

KING

I cannot give thee less, to be call'd grateful: Thou thought'st to help me; and such thanks I give As one near death to those that wish him live: But what at full I know, thou know'st no part, I knowing all my peril, thou no art.

KING

I cannot offer less than to say that I'm grateful. You thought of helping me, and I give you the thanks of a man near death who's grateful to those who wish him to live. But the extent of what I know, you know only a little bit. I know all of my suffering, you don't know anything about medicinal art. 

HELENA

What I can do can do no hurt to try, Since you set up your rest 'gainst remedy. He that of greatest works is finisher Oft does them by the weakest minister: So holy writ in babes hath judgment shown, When judges have been babes; great floods have flown From simple sources, and great seas have dried When miracles have by the greatest been denied. Oft expectation fails and most oft there Where most it promises, and oft it hits Where hope is coldest and despair most fits.

HELENA

What I can offer can hardly hurt to try since you're convinced you're beyond curing. God often does great deeds through the weakest of humans. We have seen this when the youth have shown holy judgement, when judges have been youths. Great floods have come from small sources, and great seas have dried up when the most powerful have said miracles were impossible. Often, our expectation fails exactly where we think success most likely to happen, and often we get what we prayed for where hope seems weakest and it seems to make the most sense to despair. 

KING

I must not hear thee; fare thee well, kind maid;Thy pains not used must by thyself be paid:Proffers not took reap thanks for their reward.

KING

I must not listen to you further. Farewell, kind maid. You'll have to make up the difference for your efforts coming here: offers not accepted can earn only thanks as a reward. 

HELENA

Inspired merit so by breath is barr'd: It is not so with Him that all things knows As 'tis with us that square our guess by shows; But most it is presumption in us when The help of heaven we count the act of men. Dear sir, to my endeavours give consent; Of heaven, not me, make an experiment. I am not an impostor that proclaim Myself against the level of mine aim; But know I think and think I know most sure My art is not past power nor you past cure.

HELENA

I'm not saying that my mortal words can guarantee power over divine will. God knows all and has powers beyond us humans who can only guess based on what we see. But it's presumptuous of us to call events the act of men when they actually are controlled from heaven. Dear sir, consent to my attempts. Test heaven, not me. I'm not an imposter who claims to be able to do things greater than I can. But just know that I believe and I think I can be sure that the art that I know is powerful and you can still be cured. 

KING

Are thou so confident? within what spaceHopest thou my cure?

KING

Are you so confident? How long do you think it will take for this cure to work?

HELENA

The great'st grace lending grace Ere twice the horses of the sun shall bring Their fiery torcher his diurnal ring, Ere twice in murk and occidental damp Moist Hesperus hath quench'd his sleepy lamp, Or four and twenty times the pilot's glass Hath told the thievish minutes how they pass, What is infirm from your sound parts shall fly, Health shall live free and sickness freely die.

HELENA

If God lends his power, before the sun's horses can twice bring that sun to nighttime, before the evening star Hesperus can twice turn off his sleepy lamp. When the hourglass has counted the fleeting minutes twenty-four times, the sickness in your healthy bones will flee, and health shall live free and sickness will die. 

KING

Upon thy certainty and confidenceWhat darest thou venture?

KING

How much are you willing to wager on your certainty and confidence?

HELENA

Tax of impudence, A strumpet's boldness, a divulged shame Traduced by odious ballads: my maiden's name Sear'd otherwise; nay, worse—if worse—extended With vilest torture let my life be ended.

HELENA

An accusation of arrogance, the boldness of a whore, an infamous shame carried out in horrid ballads: my maiden's name defamed this way and that. No, worse—if this is worse—let my life be ended with vilest torture. 

KING

Methinks in thee some blessed spirit doth speak His powerful sound within an organ weak: And what impossibility would slay In common sense, sense saves another way. Thy life is dear; for all that life can rate Worth name of life in thee hath estimate, Youth, beauty, wisdom, courage, all That happiness and prime can happy call: Thou this to hazard needs must intimate Skill infinite or monstrous desperate. Sweet practiser, thy physic I will try, That ministers thine own death if I die.

KING

I think some blessed sprit speaks in you, his powerful sound playing from a weak organ. And even though common sense says this should be impossible, my senses tell me differently. Your life is valuable. All worth that can be bestowed on a person finds itself in you: youth, beauty, wisdom, courage, everything that one hopes for in the prime of their life to be happy. If you're willing to risk all of this, then that must mean you have either infinite skill or horrible desperation. Sweet doctor, I'll try your medicine. It will be the prescription of your own death if I die.  

HELENA

If I break time, or flinch in property Of what I spoke, unpitied let me die, And well deserved: not helping, death's my fee; But, if I help, what do you promise me?

HELENA

If your cure doesn't meet this deadline, or if I don't do exactly what I've said, then let me die without pity, and it will be well deserved. If I don't help, death's the cost. But, if I help, what do you promise me?

KING

Make thy demand.

KING

Make your demand.

HELENA

But will you make it even?

HELENA

But will you do whatever I ask?

KING

Ay, by my sceptre and my hopes of heaven.

KING

Yes, by my scepter and my hopes to go to heaven. 

HELENA

Then shalt thou give me with thy kingly hand What husband in thy power I will command: Exempted be from me the arrogance To choose from forth the royal blood of France, My low and humble name to propagate With any branch or image of thy state; But such a one, thy vassal, whom I know Is free for me to ask, thee to bestow.

HELENA

Then you will give me with your kingly hand whatever husband I choose. You'll give me the right to choose from among all the royal blood of France so that I can spread my low and humble name to any branch or family of your kingdom. I know someone who falls into that category, your subject, and it would be acceptable for me to ask for his hand and for you to bestow it. 

KING

Here is my hand ; the premises observed, Thy will by my performance shall be served: So make the choice of thy own time, for I, Thy resolved patient, on thee still rely. More should I question thee, and more I must, Though more to know could not be more to trust, From whence thou camest, how tended on: but rest Unquestion'd welcome and undoubted blest. Give me some help here, ho! If thou proceed As high as word, my deed shall match thy meed.

KING

Here is my hand. If what you promise comes to pass, I will do exactly what you ask. So tell me when you're ready to choose, for I, your new patient, rely entirely on you. I should question you more, and I will question you more, although I wouldn't trust you any more no matter how much I knew about where you came from or how you got here. But leave those questions aside and be welcome and undoubtedly blessed. Give me some help here, hey! If you follow through with what you claim, my deeds for you will match your gift to me. 

Flourish. 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).