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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene IV.

All’s Well that Ends Well

Same.Another Room in the Palace.

Enter HELENA and Clown.

Hel.My mother greets me kindly: is she well?

Clo.She is not well; but yet she has her health; she’s very merry; but yet she is not well: but thanks be given, she’s very well, and wants nothing i’ the world; but yet she is not well.

Hel.If she be very well, what does she ail that she’s not very well?

Clo.Truly, she’s very well indeed, but for two things.

Hel.What two things?

Clo.One, that she’s not in heaven, whither God send her quickly! the other, that she’s in earth, from whence God send her quickly!


Par.Bless you, my fortunate lady!

Hel.I hope, sir, I have your good will to have mine own good fortunes.

Par.You had my prayers to lead them on; and to keep them on, have them still. O! my knave, how does my old lady?

Clo.So that you had her wrinkles, and I her money, I would she did as you say.

Par.Why, I say nothing.

Clo.Marry, you are the wiser man; for many a man’s tongue shakes out his master’s undoing. To say nothing, to do nothing, to know nothing, and to have nothing, is to be a great part of your title; which is within a very little of nothing.

Par.Away! thou’rt a knave.

Clo.You should have said, sir, before a knave thou’rt a knave; that is, before me thou’rt a knave: this had been truth, sir.

Par.Go to, thou art a witty fool; I have found thee.

Clo.Did you find me in yourself, sir? or were you taught to find me? The search, sir, was profitable; and much fool may you find in you, even to the world’s pleasure and the increase of laughter.

Par.A good knave, i’ faith, and well fed.

Madam, my lord will go away to-night;

A very serious business calls on him.

The great prerogative and rite of love,

Which, as your due, time claims, he does acknowledge,

But puts it off to a compell’d restraint;

Whose want, and whose delay, is strew’d with sweets,

Which they distil now in the curbed time,

To make the coming hour o’erflow with joy,

And pleasure drown the brim.

Hel.What’s his will else?

Par.That you will take your instant leave o’ the king,

And make this haste as your own good proceeding,

Strengthen’d with what apology you think

May make it probable need.

Hel.What more commands he?

Par.That, having this obtain’d, you presently

Attend his further pleasure.

Hel.In everything I wait upon his will.

Par.I shall report it so.

Hel.I pray you. Come, sirrah.[Exeunt.