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All’s Well That Ends Well

ACT IV SCENE II Florence. The Widow’s house.
BERTRAM They told me that your name was Fontibell.
DIANA No, my good lord, Diana.
BERTRAM Titled goddess;
And worth it, with addition! But, fair soul,
In your fine frame hath love no quality? 5
If quick fire of youth light not your mind,
You are no maiden, but a monument:
When you are dead, you should be such a one
As you are now, for you are cold and stem;
And now you should be as your mother was 10
When your sweet self was got.
DIANA She then was honest.
BERTRAM So should you be.
My mother did but duty; such, my lord, 15
As you owe to your wife.
BERTRAM No more o’ that;
I prithee, do not strive against my vows:
I was compell’d to her; but I love thee
By love’s own sweet constraint, and will for ever 20
Do thee all rights of service.
DIANA Ay, so you serve us
Till we serve you; but when you have our roses,
You barely leave our thorns to prick ourselves
And mock us with our bareness. 25
BERTRAM How have I sworn!
DIANA ‘Tis not the many oaths that makes the truth,
But the plain single vow that is vow’d true.
What is not holy, that we swear not by,
But take the High’st to witness: then, pray you, tell me, 30
If I should swear by God’s great attributes,
I loved you dearly, would you believe my oaths,
When I did love you ill? This has no holding,
To swear by him whom I protest to love,
That I will work against him: therefore your oaths 35
Are words and poor conditions, but unseal’d,
At least in my opinion.
BERTRAM Change it, change it;
Be not so holy-cruel: love is holy;
And my integrity ne’er knew the crafts 40
That you do charge men with. Stand no more off,
But give thyself unto my sick desires,
Who then recover: say thou art mine, and ever
My love as it begins shall so persever.
DIANA I see that men make ropes in such a scarre 45
That we’ll forsake ourselves. Give me that ring.
BERTRAM I’ll lend it thee, my dear; but have no power
To give it from me.
DIANA Will you not, my lord?
BERTRAM It is an honour ‘longing to our house, 50
Bequeathed down from many ancestors;
Which were the greatest obloquy i’ the world
In me to lose.
DIANA Mine honour’s such a ring:
My chastity’s the jewel of our house, 55
Bequeathed down from many ancestors;
Which were the greatest obloquy i’ the world
In me to lose: thus your own proper wisdom
Brings in the champion Honour on my part,
Against your vain assault. 60
BERTRAM Here, take my ring:
My house, mine honour, yea, my life, be thine,
And I’ll be bid by thee.
DIANA When midnight comes, knock at my chamber-window:
I’ll order take my mother shall not hear. 65
Now will I charge you in the band of truth,
When you have conquer’d my yet maiden bed,
Remain there but an hour, nor speak to me:
My reasons are most strong; and you shall know them
When back again this ring shall be deliver’d: 70
And on your finger in the night I’ll put
Another ring, that what in time proceeds
May token to the future our past deeds.
Adieu, till then; then, fail not. You have won
A wife of me, though there my hope be done. 75
BERTRAM A heaven on earth I have won by wooing thee.
DIANA For which live long to thank both heaven and me!
You may so in the end.
My mother told me just how he would woo,
As if she sat in ‘s heart; she says all men 80
Have the like oaths: he had sworn to marry me
When his wife’s dead; therefore I’ll lie with him
When I am buried. Since Frenchmen are so braid,
Marry that will, I live and die a maid:
Only in this disguise I think’t no sin 85
To cozen him that would unjustly win.

Next: All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 4, Scene 3