ACT IV
Scene 3
 

The Florentine camp

Enter the two FRENCH LORDS, and two or three SOLDIERS

SECOND LORD
You have not given him his mother's letter?

FIRST LORD
I have deliv'red it an hour since. There is something
in't that stings his nature; for on the reading it he chang'd
almost into another man.

SECOND LORD
He has much worthy blame laid upon him for shaking off
so good a wife and so sweet a lady.

FIRST LORD
Especially he hath incurred the everlasting displeasure
of the King, who had even tun'd his bounty to sing happiness to
him. I will tell you a thing, but you shall let it dwell darkly
with you.

SECOND LORD
When you have spoken it, 'tis dead, and I am the grave
of it.

FIRST LORD
He hath perverted a young gentlewoman here in Florence,
of a most chaste renown; and this night he fleshes his will in
the spoil of her honour. He hath given her his monumental ring,
and thinks himself made in the unchaste composition.

SECOND LORD
Now, God delay our rebellion! As we are ourselves,
what things are we!

FIRST LORD
Merely our own traitors. And as in the common course of
all treasons we still see them reveal themselves till they attain
to their abhorr'd ends; so he that in this action contrives
against his own nobility, in his proper stream, o'erflows
himself.

SECOND LORD
Is it not meant damnable in us to be trumpeters of our
unlawful intents? We shall not then have his company to-night?

FIRST LORD
Not till after midnight; for he is dieted to his hour.

SECOND LORD
That approaches apace. I would gladly have him see his
company anatomiz'd, that he might take a measure of his own
judgments, wherein so curiously he had set this counterfeit.

FIRST LORD
We will not meddle with him till he come; for his
presence must be the whip of the other.

SECOND LORD
In the meantime, what hear you of these wars?

FIRST LORD
I hear there is an overture of peace.

SECOND LORD
Nay, I assure you, a peace concluded.

FIRST LORD
What will Count Rousillon do then? Will he travel
higher, or return again into France?

SECOND LORD
I perceive, by this demand, you are not altogether
of his counsel.

FIRST LORD
Let it be forbid, sir! So should I be a great deal
of his act.

SECOND LORD
Sir, his wife, some two months since, fled from his
house. Her pretence is a pilgrimage to Saint Jaques le Grand;
which holy undertaking with most austere sanctimony she
accomplish'd; and, there residing, the tenderness of her nature
became as a prey to her grief; in fine, made a groan of her last
breath, and now she sings in heaven.

FIRST LORD
How is this justified?

SECOND LORD
The stronger part of it by her own letters, which
makes her story true even to the point of her death. Her death
itself, which could not be her office to say is come, was
faithfully confirm'd by the rector of the place.

FIRST LORD
Hath the Count all this intelligence?

SECOND LORD
Ay, and the particular confirmations, point from
point, to the full arming of the verity.

FIRST LORD
I am heartily sorry that he'll be glad of this.

SECOND LORD
How mightily sometimes we make us comforts of our
losses!

FIRST LORD
And how mightily some other times we drown our gain in
tears! The great dignity that his valour hath here acquir'd for
him shall at home be encount'red with a shame as ample.

SECOND LORD
The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill
together. Our virtues would be proud if our faults whipt them
not; and our crimes would despair if they were not cherish'd by
our virtues.

Enter a MESSENGER

How now? Where's your master?

SERVANT
He met the Duke in the street, sir; of whom he hath taken
a solemn leave. His lordship will next morning for France. The
Duke hath offered him letters of commendations to the King.

SECOND LORD
They shall be no more than needful there, if they were
more than they can commend.

FIRST LORD
They cannot be too sweet for the King's tartness.
Here's his lordship now.

Enter BERTRAM

How now, my lord, is't not after midnight?

BERTRAM
I have to-night dispatch'd sixteen businesses, a month's
length apiece; by an abstract of success: I have congied with the
Duke, done my adieu with his nearest; buried a wife, mourn'd for
her; writ to my lady mother I am returning; entertain'd my
convoy; and between these main parcels of dispatch effected many
nicer needs. The last was the greatest, but that I have not ended
yet.

SECOND LORD
If the business be of any difficulty and this morning
your departure hence, it requires haste of your lordship.

BERTRAM
I mean the business is not ended, as fearing to hear of it
hereafter. But shall we have this dialogue between the Fool and
the Soldier? Come, bring forth this counterfeit module has
deceiv'd me like a double-meaning prophesier.

SECOND LORD
Bring him forth. [Exeunt SOLDIERS] Has sat i' th'
stocks all night, poor gallant knave.

BERTRAM
No matter; his heels have deserv'd it, in usurping his
spurs so long. How does he carry himself?

SECOND LORD
I have told your lordship already the stocks carry
him. But to answer you as you would be understood: he weeps like
a wench that had shed her milk; he hath confess'd himself to
Morgan, whom he supposes to be a friar, from the time of his
remembrance to this very instant disaster of his setting i' th'
stocks. And what think you he hath confess'd?

BERTRAM
Nothing of me, has 'a?

SECOND LORD
His confession is taken, and it shall be read to his
face; if your lordship be in't, as I believe you are, you must
have the patience to hear it.

Enter PAROLLES guarded, and FIRST SOLDIER as interpreter

BERTRAM
A plague upon him! muffled! He can say nothing of me.

SECOND LORD
Hush, hush! Hoodman comes. Portotartarossa.

FIRST SOLDIER
He calls for the tortures. What will you say without
'em?

PAROLLES
I will confess what I know without constraint; if ye
pinch me like a pasty, I can say no more.

FIRST SOLDIER
Bosko chimurcho.

SECOND LORD
Boblibindo chicurmurco.

FIRST SOLDIER
You are a merciful general. Our General bids you
answer to what I shall ask you out of a note.

PAROLLES
And truly, as I hope to live.

FIRST SOLDIER
'First demand of him how many horse the Duke is
strong.' What say you to that?

PAROLLES
Five or six thousand; but very weak and unserviceable.
The troops are all scattered, and the commanders very poor
rogues, upon my reputation and credit, and as I hope to live.

FIRST SOLDIER
Shall I set down your answer so?

PAROLLES
Do; I'll take the sacrament on 't, how and which way you
will.

BERTRAM
All's one to him. What a past-saving slave is this!

SECOND LORD
Y'are deceiv'd, my lord; this is Monsieur Parolles,
the gallant militarist-that was his own phrase-that had the whole
theoric of war in the knot of his scarf, and the practice in the
chape of his dagger.

FIRST LORD
I will never trust a man again for keeping his sword
clean; nor believe he can have everything in him by wearing his
apparel neatly.

FIRST SOLDIER
Well, that's set down.

PAROLLES
'Five or six thousand horse' I said-I will say true- 'or
thereabouts' set down, for I'll speak truth.

SECOND LORD
He's very near the truth in this.

BERTRAM
But I con him no thanks for't in the nature he delivers it.

PAROLLES
'Poor rogues' I pray you say.

FIRST SOLDIER
Well, that's set down.

PAROLLES
I humbly thank you, sir. A truth's a truth-the rogues are
marvellous poor.

FIRST SOLDIER
'Demand of him of what strength they are a-foot.'
What say you to that?

PAROLLES
By my troth, sir, if I were to live this present hour, I
will tell true. Let me see: Spurio, a hundred and fifty;
Sebastian, so many; Corambus, so many; Jaques, so many; Guiltian,
Cosmo, Lodowick, and Gratii, two hundred fifty each; mine own
company, Chitopher, Vaumond, Bentii, two hundred fifty each; so
that the muster-file, rotten and sound, upon my life, amounts not
to fifteen thousand poll; half of the which dare not shake the
snow from off their cassocks lest they shake themselves to
pieces.

BERTRAM
What shall be done to him?

SECOND LORD
Nothing, but let him have thanks. Demand of him my
condition, and what credit I have with the Duke.

FIRST SOLDIER
Well, that's set down. 'You shall demand of him
whether one Captain Dumain be i' th' camp, a Frenchman; what his
reputation is with the Duke, what his valour, honesty, expertness
in wars; or whether he thinks it were not possible, with
well-weighing sums of gold, to corrupt him to a revolt.' What say
you to this? What do you know of it?

PAROLLES
I beseech you, let me answer to the particular of the
inter'gatories. Demand them singly.

FIRST SOLDIER
Do you know this Captain Dumain?

PAROLLES
I know him: 'a was a botcher's prentice in Paris, from
whence he was whipt for getting the shrieve's fool with child-a
dumb innocent that could not say him nay.

BERTRAM
Nay, by your leave, hold your hands; though I know his
brains are forfeit to the next tile that falls.

FIRST SOLDIER
Well, is this captain in the Duke of Florence's
camp?

PAROLLES
Upon my knowledge, he is, and lousy.

SECOND LORD
Nay, look not so upon me; we shall hear of your
lordship anon.

FIRST SOLDIER
What is his reputation with the Duke?

PAROLLES
The Duke knows him for no other but a poor officer of
mine; and writ to me this other day to turn him out o' th' band.
I think I have his letter in my pocket.

FIRST SOLDIER
Marry, we'll search.

PAROLLES
In good sadness, I do not know; either it is there or it
is upon a file with the Duke's other letters in my tent.

FIRST SOLDIER
Here 'tis; here's a paper. Shall I read it to you?

PAROLLES
I do not know if it be it or no.

BERTRAM
Our interpreter does it well.

SECOND LORD
Excellently.

FIRST SOLDIER

[Reads] 'Dian, the Count's a fool, and full of
gold.'

PAROLLES
That is not the Duke's letter, sir; that is an
advertisement to a proper maid in Florence, one Diana, to take
heed of the allurement of one Count Rousillon, a foolish idle
boy, but for all that very ruttish. I pray you, sir, put it up
again.

FIRST SOLDIER
Nay, I'll read it first by your favour.

PAROLLES
My meaning in't, I protest, was very honest in the behalf
of the maid; for I knew the young Count to be a dangerous and
lascivious boy, who is a whale to virginity, and devours up all
the fry it finds.

BERTRAM
Damnable both-sides rogue!

FIRST SOLDIER.

[Reads]
'When he swears oaths, bid him drop gold, and take it;
After he scores, he never pays the score.
Half won is match well made; match, and well make it;
He ne'er pays after-debts, take it before.
And say a soldier, Dian, told thee this:
Men are to mell with, boys are not to kiss;
For count of this, the Count's a fool, I know it,
Who pays before, but not when he does owe it.
Thine, as he vow'd to thee in thine ear,
PAROLLES.'

BERTRAM
He shall be whipt through the army with this rhyme in's
forehead.

FIRST LORD
This is your devoted friend, sir, the manifold
linguist, and the amnipotent soldier.

BERTRAM
I could endure anything before but a cat, and now he's a
cat to me.

FIRST SOLDIER
I perceive, sir, by our General's looks we shall be
fain to hang you.

PAROLLES
My life, sir, in any case! Not that I am afraid to die,
but that, my offences being many, I would repent out the
remainder of nature. Let me live, sir, in a dungeon, i' th'
stocks, or anywhere, so I may live.

FIRST SOLDIER
We'll see what may be done, so you confess freely;
therefore, once more to this Captain Dumain: you have answer'd to
his reputation with the Duke, and to his valour; what is his
honesty?

PAROLLES
He will steal, sir, an egg out of a cloister; for rapes
and ravishments he parallels Nessus. He professes not keeping of
oaths; in breaking 'em he is stronger than Hercules. He will lie,
sir, with such volubility that you would think truth were a fool.
Drunkenness is his best virtue, for he will be swine-drunk; and
in his sleep he does little harm, save to his bedclothes about
him; but they know his conditions and lay him in straw. I have
but little more to say, sir, of his honesty. He has everything
that an honest man should not have; what an honest man should
have he has nothing.

SECOND LORD
I begin to love him for this.

BERTRAM
For this description of thine honesty? A pox upon him! For
me, he's more and more a cat.

FIRST SOLDIER
What say you to his expertness in war?

PAROLLES
Faith, sir, has led the drum before the English
tragedians-to belie him I will not-and more of his soldier-ship
I know not, except in that country he had the honour to be the
officer at a place there called Mile-end to instruct for the
doubling of files-I would do the man what honour I can-but of
this I am not certain.

SECOND LORD
He hath out-villain'd villainy so far that the rarity
redeems him.

BERTRAM
A pox on him! he's a cat still.

FIRST SOLDIER
His qualities being at this poor price, I need not
to ask you if gold will corrupt him to revolt.

PAROLLES
Sir, for a cardecue he will sell the fee-simple of his
salvation, the inheritance of it; and cut th' entail from all
remainders and a perpetual succession for it perpetually.

FIRST SOLDIER
What's his brother, the other Captain Dumain?

FIRST LORD
Why does he ask him of me?

FIRST SOLDIER
What's he?

PAROLLES
E'en a crow o' th' same nest; not altogether so great as
the first in goodness, but greater a great deal in evil. He
excels his brother for a coward; yet his brother is reputed one
of the best that is. In a retreat he outruns any lackey: marry,
in coming on he has the cramp.

FIRST SOLDIER
If your life be saved, will you undertake to betray
the Florentine?

PAROLLES
Ay, and the Captain of his Horse, Count Rousillon.

FIRST SOLDIER
I'll whisper with the General, and know his
pleasure.

PAROLLES

[Aside] I'll no more drumming. A plague of all drums!
Only to seem to deserve well, and to beguile the supposition of
that lascivious young boy the Count, have I run into this danger.
Yet who would have suspected an ambush where I was taken?

FIRST SOLDIER
There is no remedy, sir, but you must die.
The General says you that have so traitorously discover'd the
secrets of your army, and made such pestiferous reports of men
very nobly held, can serve the world for no honest use; therefore
you must die. Come, headsman, off with his head.

PAROLLES
O Lord, sir, let me live, or let me see my death!

FIRST SOLDIER
That shall you, and take your leave of all your
friends. [Unmuffling him] So look about you; know you any here?

BERTRAM
Good morrow, noble Captain.

FIRST LORD
God bless you, Captain Parolles.

SECOND LORD
God save you, noble Captain.

FIRST LORD
Captain, what greeting will you to my Lord Lafeu? I am
for France.

SECOND LORD
Good Captain, will you give me a copy of the sonnet
you writ to Diana in behalf of the Count Rousillon? An I were not
a very coward I'd compel it of you; but fare you well.

Exeunt BERTRAM and LORDS

FIRST SOLDIER
You are undone, Captain, all but your scarf; that
has a knot on 't yet.

PAROLLES
Who cannot be crush'd with a plot?

FIRST SOLDIER
If you could find out a country where but women were
that had received so much shame, you might begin an impudent
nation. Fare ye well, sir; I am for France too; we shall speak of
you there.

Exit with SOLDIERS

PAROLLES
Yet am I thankful. If my heart were great,
'Twould burst at this. Captain I'll be no more;
But I will eat, and drink, and sleep as soft
As captain shall. Simply the thing I am
Shall make me live. Who knows himself a braggart,
Let him fear this; for it will come to pass
That every braggart shall be found an ass.
Rust, sword; cool, blushes; and, Parolles, live
Safest in shame. Being fool'd, by fool'ry thrive.
There's place and means for every man alive.
I'll after them.

Exit