All's Well That Ends Well By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 1


O, will you eat
No grapes, my royal fox? yes, but you will
My noble grapes, and 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 Pipin, nay,
To give great Charlemain a pen in his hand
And write to her a love-line.

What 'her' is that?

Why, doctor 'she': my lord, there's one arriv'd,
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 amaz'd 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.

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

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

[Exit LAFEU.]

Thus he his special nothing ever prologues.

[Re-enter LAFEU with HELENA.]

Nay, come your ways.

This haste hath wings indeed.

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.


Now, fair one, does your business follow us?

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

I knew him.

The rather will I spare my praises towards him.
Knowing him is enough. On his bed of death
Many receipts he gave me; chiefly one,
Which, as the dearest issue of his practice,
And of his old experience the only 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.

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 inaidable 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Inspired merit so by breath is barred:
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.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

Bertram refuses to marry Helena because he