All's Well That Ends Well By William Shakespeare Act I: Scene 3

ACT I. SCENE 3. Rousillon. A Room in the Palace.

[Enter COUNTESS, STEWARD, and CLOWN.]

COUNTESS.
I will now hear: what say you 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.

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.

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

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.

COUNTESS.
Wilt thou needs be a beggar?

CLOWN.
I do beg your good will in this 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 of
my body; for they say bairns are blessings.

COUNTESS.
Tell me thy reason why thou wilt marry.

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

COUNTESS.
Is this all your worship's reason?

CLOWN.
Faith, madam, I have other holy reasons, such as they are.

COUNTESS.
May the world know them?

CLOWN.
I have been, madam, a wicked creature, as you and all flesh
and blood are; and, indeed, I do marry that I may repent.

COUNTESS.
Thy marriage, sooner than thy wickedness.

CLOWN.
I am out of friends, madam, and I hope to have friends for
my wife's sake.

COUNTESS.
Such friends are thine enemies, knave.

CLOWN.
Y'are shallow, madam, in great friends: for the knaves come
to do that for me which I am a-weary 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 joll horns together like any deer
i' the herd.

COUNTESS.
Wilt thou ever be a foul-mouth'd and calumnious 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.

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

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

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

CLOWN.
[Sings.]
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.

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

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'd 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 before every blazing
star, or at an earthquake, 'twould mend the lottery well: a man
may draw his heart out ere he pluck one.

COUNTESS.
You'll be gone, sir knave, 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.

[Exit.]

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