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We thank you, maiden

King
We thank you, maiden,
But may not be so credulous of cure,
When our most learnèd doctors leave us and
The congregated college have concluded
That laboring art can never ransom nature
From her inaidible 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.

Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
Where most it promises, and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest and despair most shifts.

Helen
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.
King
I cannot give thee less, to be called 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.
Helen
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 great’st been denied.
Oft expectation fails, and most oft there
Where most it promises, and oft it hits
Where hope is coldest and despair most shifts.
King
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.
Helen
Inspirèd 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 endeavors 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.
King
Art thou so confident? Within what space
Hop’st thou my cure?
Helen
The greatest grace lending grace,
Ere twice the horses of the sun shall bring
Their fiery torcher his diurnal ring;
Ere twice in murk and occidental damp
Moist Hesperus hath quenched her sleepy lamp;
Or four and twenty times the pilot’s glass
Hath told the thievish minutes, how they pass,
What is infirm from your sound parts shall fly,
Health shall live free, and sickness freely die.
King
Upon thy certainty and confidence
What dar’st thou venture?
Helen
Tax of impudence,
A strumpet’s boldness, a divulgèd shame;
Traduced by odious ballads, my maiden’s name
Seared otherwise; nay, worse of worst, extended
With vilest torture let my life be ended.
King
Methinks in thee some blessèd spirit doth speak
His powerful sound within an organ weak,
And what impossibility would slay
In common sense, sense saves another way.
Thy life is dear, for all that life can rate
Worth name of life in thee hath estimate:
Youth, beauty, wisdom, courage, all
That happiness and prime can happy call.
Thou this to hazard needs must intimate
Skill infinite or monstrous desperate.
Sweet practicer, thy physic I will try,
That ministers thine own death if I die.
Helen
If I break time or flinch in property
Of what I spoke, unpitied let me die,
And well deserved. Not helping, death’s my fee.
But if I help, what do you promise me?
King
Make thy demand.
Helen
But will you make it even?
King
Ay, by my scepter and my hopes of heaven.
Helen
Then shalt thou give me with thy kingly hand
What husband in thy power I will command.
Exempted be from me the arrogance
To choose from forth the royal blood of France,
My low and humble name to propagate
With any branch or image of thy state;
But such a one, thy vassal, whom I know
Is free for me to ask, thee to bestow.
King
Here is my hand. The premises observed,
Thy will by my performance shall be served.
So make the choice of thy own time, for I,
Thy resolved patient, on thee still rely.
More should I question thee, and more I must,
Though more to know could not be more to trust:
From whence thou cam’st, how tended on; but rest
Unquestioned welcome and undoubted blessed.—
Give me some help here, ho!—If thou proceed
As high as word, my deed shall match thy deed.
 Flourish. They exit, the King assisted.

Source:
Act 2
Scene 1
Line 132

Source Type:

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