William Shakespeare: All's Well That Ends Well, Act III, Scene II
Enter Countess and Clown
Why, he will look upon his boot and sing; mend the ruff and sing; ask questions and sing; pick his teeth and sing. I know a man that had this trick of melancholy sold a goodly manor for a song.
Opening a letter
I have no mind to Isbel since I was at court: our old ling and our Isbels o' the country are nothing like your old ling and your Isbels o' the court: the brains of my Cupid's knocked out, and I begin to love, as an old man loves money, with no stomach.
I have sent you a daughter-in-law: she hath recovered the king, and undone me. I have wedded her, not bedded her; and sworn to make the 'not' eternal. You shall hear I am run away: know it before the report come. If there be breadth enough in the world, I will hold a long distance. My duty to you. Your unfortunate son, Bertram. This is not well, rash and unbridled boy. To fly the favours of so good a king; To pluck his indignation on thy head By the misprising of a maid too virtuous For the contempt of empire.
Nay, there is some comfort in the news, some comfort; your son will not be killed so soon as I thought he would.
So say I, madam, if he run away, as I hear he does: the danger is in standing to't; that's the loss of men, though it be the getting of children. Here they come will tell you more: for my part, I only hear your son was run away.
Enter Helena, and two Gentlemen
Think upon patience. Pray you, gentlemen, I have felt so many quirks of joy and grief, That the first face of neither, on the start, Can woman me unto't: where is my son, I pray you?
Madam, he's gone to serve the duke of Florence: We met him thitherward; for thence we came, And, after some dispatch in hand at court, Thither we bend again.
Look on his letter, madam; here's my passport.
When thou canst get the ring upon my finger which never shall come off, and show me a child begotten of thy body that I am father to, then call me husband: but in such a 'then' I write a 'never.' This is a dreadful sentence.
I prithee, lady, have a better cheer; If thou engrossest all the griefs are thine, Thou robb'st me of a moiety: he was my son; But I do wash his name out of my blood, And thou art all my child. Towards Florence is he?
Such is his noble purpose; and believe 't, The duke will lay upon him all the honour That good convenience claims.
Nothing in France, until he have no wife! There's nothing here that is too good for him But only she; and she deserves a lord That twenty such rude boys might tend upon And call her hourly mistress. Who was with him?
A very tainted fellow, and full of wickedness. My son corrupts a well-derived nature With his inducement.
Indeed, good lady, The fellow has a deal of that too much, Which holds him much to have.
You're welcome, gentlemen. I will entreat you, when you see my son, To tell him that his sword can never win The honour that he loses: more I'll entreat you Written to bear along.
Exeunt Countess and Gentlemen
'Till I have no wife, I have nothing in France.' Nothing in France, until he has no wife! Thou shalt have none, Rousillon, none in France; Then hast thou all again. Poor lord! is't I That chase thee from thy country and expose Those tender limbs of thine to the event Of the none-sparing war? and is it I That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark Of smoky muskets? O you leaden messengers, That ride upon the violent speed of fire, Fly with false aim; move the still-peering air, That sings with piercing; do not touch my lord. Whoever shoots at him, I set him there; Whoever charges on his forward breast, I am the caitiff that do hold him to't; And, though I kill him not, I am the cause His death was so effected: better 'twere I met the ravin lion when he roar'd With sharp constraint of hunger; better 'twere That all the miseries which nature owes Were mine at once. No, come thou home, Rousillon, Whence honour but of danger wins a scar, As oft it loses all: I will be gone; My being here it is that holds thee hence: Shall I stay here to do't? no, no, although The air of paradise did fan the house And angels officed all: I will be gone, That pitiful rumour may report my flight, To consolate thine ear. Come, night; end, day! For with the dark, poor thief, I'll steal away.