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she yielded but upon great persuasion, and partly to save his life, for
she heard he was in a consumption. So these two mad wits were
reconciled, and made a match of it, after Claudio and Hero were
married; and to complete the history, Don John, the contriver of the
villany, was taken in his flight, and brought back to Messina; and a
brave punishment it was to this gloomy, discontented man, to see the
joy and feastings which, by the disappointment of his plots, took place
in the palace in Messina.


During the time that France was divided into provinces (or dukedoms as
they were called) there reigned in one of these provinces an usurper,
who had deposed and banished his elder brother, the lawful duke.

The duke, who was thus driven from his dominions, retired with a few
faithful followers to the forest of Arden; and here the good duke lived
with his loving friends, who had put themselves into a voluntary exile
for his sake, while their land and revenues enriched the false usurper;
and custom soon made the life of careless ease they led here more sweet
to them than the pomp and uneasy splendour of a courtier's life. Here
they lived like the old Robin Hood of England, and to this forest many
noble youths daily resorted from the court, and did fleet the time
carelessly, as they did who lived in the golden age. In the summer they
lay along under the fine shade of the large forest trees, marking the
playful sports of the wild deer; and so fond were they of these poor
dappled fools, who seemed to be the native inhabitants of the forest,
that it grieved them to be forced to kill them to supply themselves
with venison for their food. When the cold winds of winter made the
duke feel the change of his adverse fortune, he would endure it
patiently, and say: 'These chilling winds which blow upon my body are
true counsellors; they do not flatter, but represent truly to me my
condition; and though they bite sharply, their tooth is nothing like so
keen as that of unkindness and ingratitude. I find that howsoever men
speak against adversity, yet some sweet uses are to be extracted from
it; like the jewel, precious for medicine, which is taken from the head
of the venomous and despised toad.' In this manner did the patient duke
draw a useful moral from everything that he saw; and by the help of
this moralizing turn, in that life of his, remote from public haunts,
he could find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in
stones, and good in everything.

The banished duke had an only daughter, named Rosalind, whom the
usurper, duke Frederick, when he banished her father, still retained in
his court as a companion for his own daughter Celia. A strict
friendship subsisted between these ladies, which the disagreement
between their fathers did not in the least interrupt, Celia striving by
every kindness in her power to make amends to Rosalind for the
injustice of her own father in deposing the father of Rosalind; and
whenever the thoughts of her father's banishment, and her own
dependence on the false usurper, made Rosalind melancholy, Celia's
whole care was to comfort and console her.

One day, when Celia was talking in her usual kind manner to Rosalind,
saying: 'I pray you, Rosalind, my sweet cousin, be merry,' a messenger
entered from the duke, to tell them that if they wished to see a
wrestling match, which was just going to begin, they must come
instantly to the court before the palace; and Celia, thinking it would
amuse Rosalind, agreed to go and see it.

In those times wrestling, which is only practiced now by country
clowns, was a favourite sport even in the courts of princes, and before
fair ladies and princesses. To this wrestling match, therefore, Celia
and Rosalind went. They found that it was likely to prove a very
tragical sight; for a large and powerful man, who had been long
practiced in the art of wrestling, and had slain many men in contests
of this kind, was just going to wrestle with a very young man, who,
from his extreme youth and inexperience in the art, the beholders all
thought would certainly be killed.

When the duke saw Celia and Rosalind, he said: 'How now, daughter and
niece, are you crept hither to see the wrestling? You will take little
delight in it, there is such odds in the men: in pity to this young
man, I would wish to persuade him from wrestling. Speak to him, ladies,
and see if you can move him.'

The ladies were well pleased to perform this humane office, and first
Celia entreated the young stranger that he would desist from the
attempt; and then Rosalind spoke so kindly to him, and with such
feeling consideration for, the danger he was about to undergo, that
instead of being persuaded by her gentle words to forego his purpose,
all his thoughts were bent to distinguish himself by his courage in
this lovely lady's eyes. He refused the request of Celia and Rosalind
in such graceful and modest words, that they felt still more concern
for him; he concluded his refusal with saying: 'I am sorry to deny such
fair and excellent ladies anything. But let your fair eyes and gentle
wishes go with me to my trial, wherein if I be conquered there is one
shamed that was never gracious; if I am killed, there is one dead that
is willing to die; I shall do my friends no wrong, for I have none to
lament me; the world no injury, for in it I have nothing; for I only
fill up a place in the world which may be better supplied when I have
made it empty.'

And now the wrestling match began. Celia wished the young stranger
might not be hurt; but Rosalind felt most for him. The friendless state
which he said he was in, and that he wished to die, made Rosalind think
that he was like herself, unfortunate; and she pitied him so much, and
so deep an interest she took in his danger while he was wrestling, that
she might almost be said at that moment to have fallen in love with him.

The kindness shown this unknown youth by these fair and noble ladies
gave him courage and strength, so that he performed wonders; and in the
end completely conquered his antagonist, who was so much hurt, that for
a while he was unable to speak or move.

The duke Frederick was much pleased with the courage and skill shown by
this young stranger; and desired to know his name and parentage,
meaning to take him under his protection.

The stranger said his name was Orlando, and that he was the youngest
son of Sir Roland de Boys.

Sir Rowland de Boys, the father of Orlando, had been dead some years;
but when he was living, he had been a true subject and dear friend of
the banished duke; therefore, when Frederick heard Orlando was the son
of his banished brother's friend, all his liking for this brave young
man was changed into displeasure, and he left the place in very ill
humour. Hating to hear the very name of any of his brother's friends,
and yet still admiring the velour of the youth, he said, as he went
out, that he wished Orlando had been the son of any other man.

Rosalind was delighted to hear that her new favourite was the son of
her father's old friend; and she said to Celia: 'My father loved Sir
Rowland de Boys, and if I had known this young man was his son, I would
have added tears to my entreaties before he should have ventured.'

The ladies then went up to him; and seeing him abashed by the sudden
displeasure shown by the duke, they spoke kind and encouraging words to
him; and Rosalind, when they were going away, turned back to speak some
more civil things to the brave young son of her father's old friend;
and taking a chain from off her neck, she said: 'Gentleman, wear this
for me. I am out of suits with fortune, or I would give you a more
valuable present.'

When the ladies were alone, Rosalind's talk being still of Orlando,
Celia began to perceive her cousin had fallen in love with the handsome
young wrestler, and she said to Rosalind: 'Is it possible you should
fall in love so suddenly?' Rosalind replied: 'The duke, my father,
loved his father dearly.' 'But,' said Celia, 'does it therefore follow
that you should love his son dearly? for then I ought to hate him, for
my father hated his father; yet I do not hate Orlando.'

Frederick being enraged at the sight of Sir Rowland de Boys' son, which
reminded him of the many friends the banished duke had among the
nobility, and having been for some time displeased with his niece,
because the people praised her for her virtues, and pitied her for her
good father's sake, his malice suddenly broke out against her; and
while Celia and Rosalind were talking of Orlando, Frederick entered the
room, and with looks full of anger ordered Rosalind instantly to leave
the palace, and follow her father into banishment; telling Celia, who
in vain pleaded for her, that he had only suffered Rosalind to stay
upon her account. 'I did not then,' said Celia, 'entreat you to let her
stay, for I was too young at that time to value her; but now that I
know her worth, and that we so long have slept together, rose at the
same instant, learned, played, and eat together, I cannot live out of
her company.' Frederick replied: 'She is too subtle for you; her
smoothness, her very silence, and her patience speak to the people, and
they pity her. You are a fool to plead for her, for you will seem more
bright and virtuous when she is gone; therefore open not your lips in
her favour, for the doom which I have passed upon her is irrevocable.'

When Celia found she could not prevail upon her father to let Rosalind
remain with her, she generously resolved to accompany her; and leaving
her father's palace that night, she went along with her friend to seek
Rosalind's father, the banished duke, in the forest of Arden.

Before they set out, Celia considered that it would be unsafe for two
young ladies to travel in the rich clothes they then wore; she
therefore proposed that they should disguise their rank by dressing
themselves like country maids. Rosalind said it would be a still
greater protection if one of them was to be dressed like a man: and so
it was quickly agreed on between them, that as Rosalind was the
tallest, she should wear the dress of a young countryman, and Celia
should be habited like a country lass, and that they should say they
were brother and sister, and Rosalind said she would be called
Ganymede, and Celia chose the name of Aliena.

In this disguise, and taking their money and jewels to defray their
expenses, these fair princesses set out on their long travel; for the
forest of Arden was a long way off, beyond the boundaries of the duke's

The Lady Rosalind (or Ganymede as she must now be called) with her
manly garb seemed to have put on a manly courage. The faithful
friendship Celia had shown in accompanying Rosalind so many weary
miles, made the new brother, in recompense for this true love, exert a
cheerful spirit, as if he were indeed Ganymede, the rustic and
stout-hearted brother of the gentle village maiden, Aliena.

When at last they came to the forest of Arden, they no longer found the
convenient inns and good accommodations they had met with on the road;
and being in want of food and rest, Ganymede, who had so merrily
cheered his sister with pleasant speeches and happy remarks all the
way, now owned to Aliena that he was so weary, he could find in his
heart to disgrace his man's apparel, and cry like a woman; and Aliena
declared she could go no farther; and then again Ganymede tried to
recollect that it was a man's duty to comfort and console a woman, as
the weaker vessel; and to seem courageous to his new sister; he said:
'Come, have a good heart, my sister Aliena; we are now at the end of
our travel, in the forest of Arden.' But feigned manliness and forced
courage would no longer support them; for though they were in the
forest of Arden, they knew not where to find the duke: and here the
travel of these weary ladies might have come to a sad conclusion, for
they might have lost themselves, and perished for want of food; but
providentially, as they were sitting on the grass, almost dying with
fatigue and hopeless of any relief, a countryman chanced to pass that
way, and Ganymede once more tried to speak with a manly boldness,
saying: 'Shepherd, if love or gold can in this desert place procure us
entertainment, I pray you bring us where we may rest ourselves; for
this young maid, my sister, is much fatigued with travelling, and
faints for want of food.'

The man replied that he was only a servant to a shepherd, and that his
master's house was just going to be sold, and therefore they would find
but poor entertainment; but that if they would go with him, they should
be welcome to what there was. They followed the man, the near prospect
of relief giving them fresh strength; and bought the house and sheep of
the shepherd, and took the man who conducted them to the shepherd's
house to wait on them; and being by this means so fortunately provided
with a neat cottage, and well supplied with provisions, they agreed to
stay here till they could learn in what part of the forest the duke

When they were rested after the fatigue of their journey, they began to
like their new way of life, and almost fancied themselves the shepherd
and shepherdess they feigned to be: yet sometimes Ganymede remembered
he had once been the same lady Rosalind who had so dearly loved the
brave Orlando, because he was the son of old Sir Rowland, her father's
friend; and though Ganymede thought that Orlando was many miles
distant, even so many weary miles as they had travelled, yet it soon
appeared that Orlando was also in the forest of Arden: and in this
manner this strange event came to pass.

Orlando was the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys, who, when he died,
left him (Orlando being then very young) to the care of his eldest
brother Oliver, charging Oliver on his blessing to give his brother a
good education, and provide for him as became the dignity of their
ancient house. Oliver proved an unworthy brother; and disregarding the
commands of his dying father, he never put his bother to school, but
kept him a home untaught and entirely neglected. But in his nature and
in the noble qualities of his mind Orlando so much resembled his
excellent father, that without any advantages of education he seemed
like a youth who had been bred with the utmost care; and Oliver so
envied the fine person and dignified manners of his untutored brother,
that at last he wished to destroy him, and to effect this he set on
people to persuade him to wrestle with the famous wrestler, who, as has
been before related, had killed so many men. Now, it was this cruel
brother's neglect of him which made Orlando say he wished to die, being
so friendless.

When, contrary to the wicked hopes he had formed, his brother proved
victorious, his envy and malice knew no bounds, and he swore he would
burn the chamber where Orlando slept. He was overheard making this vow
by one that had been an old and faithful servant to their father, and
that loved Orlando because he resembled Sir Rowland. This old man went
out to meet him when he returned from the duke's palace, and when he
saw Orlando, the peril his dear young master was in made him break out
into these passionate exclamations: 'O my gentle master, my sweet
master, O you memory of old Sir Rowland! why are you virtuous? why are
you gentle, strong, and valiant? and why would you be so fond to
overcome the famous wrestler? Your praise is come too swiftly home
before you.' Orlando, wondering what all this meant, asked him what was
the matter. And then the old man told him how his wicked brother,
envying the love all people bore him, and now hearing the fame he had
gained by his victory in the duke's palace, intended to destroy him, by
setting fire to his chamber that night; and in conclusion, advised him
to escape the danger he was in by instant flight; and knowing Orlando
had no money, Adam (for that was the good old man's name) had brought
out with him his own little hoard, and he said: 'I have five hundred
crowns, the thrifty hire I saved under your father, and laid by to be
provision for me when my old limbs should become unfit for service;
take that, and He that cloth the ravens feed be comfort to my age! Here
is the gold; all this I give to you: let me be your servant; though I
look old I will do the service of a younger man in all your business
and necessities.' 'O good old man!' said Orlando, 'how well appears in
you the constant service of the old world! You are not for the fashion
of these times. We will go along together, and before your youthful
wages are spent, I shall light upon some means for both our

Together then this faithful servant and his loved master set out; and
Orlando and Adam travelled on, uncertain what course to pursue, till
they came to the forest of Arden, and there they found themselves in
the same distress for want of food that Ganymede and Aliena had been.
They wandered on, seeking some human habitation, till they were almost
spent with hunger and fatigue. Adam at last said: 'O my dear master, I
die for want of food, I can go no farther!' He then laid himself down,
thinking to make that place his grave, and bade his dear master
farewell. Orlando, seeing him in this weak state, took his old servant
up in his arms, and carried him under the shelter of some pleasant
trees; and he said to him: 'Cheerly, old Adam, rest your weary limbs
here awhile, and do not talk of dying!'

Orlando then searched about to find some food, and he happened to
arrive at that part of the forest where the duke was; and he and his
friends were just going to eat their dinner, this royal duke being
seated on the grass, under no other canopy than the shady covert of
some large trees.

Orlando, whom hunger had made desperate, drew his sword, intending to
take their meat by force, and said: 'Forbear and eat no more; I must
have your food!' The duke asked him, if distress had made him so bold,
or if he were a rude despiser of good manners? On this Orlando said, he
was dying with hunger; and then the duke told him he was welcome to sit
down and eat with them. Orlando hearing him speak so gently, put up his
sword, and blushed with shame at the rude manner in which he had
demanded their food. 'Pardon me, I pray you,' said he: 'I thought that
all things had been savage here, and therefore I put on the countenance
of stern command; but whatever men you are, that in this desert, under
the shade of melancholy boughs, lose and neglect the creeping hours of
time; if ever you have looked on better days; if ever you have been
where bells have knolled to church; if you have ever sat at any good
man's feast; if ever from your eyelids you have wiped a tear, and know
what it is to pity or be pitied, may gentle speeches now move you to do
me human courtesy!' The duke replied: 'True it is that we are men (as
you say) who have seen better days, and though we have now our
habitation in this wild forest, we have lived in towns and cities, and
have with holy bell been knolled to church, have sat at good men's
feasts, and from our eyes have wiped the drops which sacred pity has
engendered; therefore sit you down, and take of our refreshment as much
as will minister to your wants.' 'There is an old poor man,' answered
Orlando, 'who has limped after me many a weary step in pure love,
oppressed at once with two sad infirmities, age and hunger; till he be
satisfied, I must not touch a bit.' 'Go, find him out, and bring him
hither,' said the duke; 'we will forbear to eat till you return.' Then
Orlando went like a doe to kind its fawn and give it food; and
presently returned, bringing Adam in his arms; and the duke said: 'Set
down your venerable burthen; you are both welcome'; and they fed the
old man, and cheered his heart, and he revived, and recovered his
health and strength again.

The duke inquired who Orlando was; and when he found that he was the
son of his old friend, Sir Rowland de Boys, he took him under his
protection, and Orlando and his old servant lived with the duke in the

Orlando arrived in the forest not many days after Ganymede and Aliena
came there, and (as has been before 'elated) bought the shepherd's

Ganymede and Aliena were strangely surprised to find the name of
Rosalind carved on the trees, and love-sonnets, fastened to them, all
addressed to Rosalind; and while they were wondering how this could be,
they met Orlando, and they perceived the chain which Rosalind had given
him about his neck.

Orlando little thought that Ganymede was the fair princess Rosalind,
who, by her noble condescension and favour, had so won his heart that
he passed his whole time in carving her name upon the trees, and
writing sonnets in praise of her beauty: but being much pleased with
the graceful air of this pretty shepherd-youth, he entered into
conversation with him, and he thought he saw a likeness in Ganymede to
his beloved Rosalind, but that he had none of the dignified deportment
of that noble lady; for Ganymede assumed the forward manners often seen
in youths when they are between boys and men, and with much archness
and humour talked to Orlando of a certain lover, 'who,' said he,
'haunts our forest, and spoils our young trees with carving Rosalind
upon their barks; and he hangs odes upon hawthorns, and elegies on
brambles, all praising this same Rosalind. If I could find this lover,
I would give him some good counsel that would soon cure him of his

Orlando confessed that he was the fond lover of whom he spoke, and
asked Ganymede to give him the good counsel he talked of. The remedy
Ganymede proposed, and the counsel he gave him, was that Orlando should
come every day to the cottage where he and his sister Aliena dwelt:
'And then,' said Ganymede, 'I will feign myself to be Rosalind, and you
shall feign to court me in the same manner as you would do if I was
Rosalind, and then I will imitate the fantastic ways of whimsical
ladies to their lovers, till I make you ashamed of your love; and this
is the way I propose to cure you.' Orlando had no great faith in the
remedy, yet he agreed to come every day to Ganymede's cottage, and
feign a playful courtship; and every day Orlando visited Ganymede and
Aliena, and Orlando called the shepherd Ganymede his Rosalind, and
every day talked over all the fine words and flattering compliments
which young men delight to use when they court their mistresses. It
does not appear, however, that Ganymede made any progress in curing
Orlando of his love for Rosalind.

Though Orlando thought all this was but a sportive play (not dreaming
that Ganymede was his very Rosalind), yet the opportunity it gave him
of saying all the fond things he had in his heart, pleased his fancy
almost as well as it did Ganymede's, who enjoyed the secret jest in
knowing these fine love-speeches were all addressed to the right person.

In this manner many days passed pleasantly on with these young people;
and the good-natured Aliena, seeing it made Ganymede happy, let him
have his own way, and was diverted at the mock-courtship, and did not
care to remind Ganymede that the Lady Rosalind had not yet made herself
known to the duke her father, whose place of resort in the forest they
had learnt from Orlando. Ganymede met the duke one day, and had some
talk with him, and the duke asked of what parentage he came. Ganymede
answered that he came of as good parentage as he did, which made the
duke smile, for he did not suspect the pretty shepherd-boy came of
royal lineage. Then seeing the duke look well and happy, Ganymede was
content to put off all further explanation for a few days longer.

One morning, as Orlando was going to visit Ganymede, he saw a man lying
asleep on the ground, and a large green snake had twisted itself about
his neck. The snake, seeing Orlando approach, glided away among the
bushes. Orlando went nearer, and then he discovered a lioness lie
crouching, with her head on the ground, with a cat-like watch, waiting
until the sleeping man awaked (for it is said that lions will prey on
nothing that is dead or sleeping). It seemed as if Orlando was sent by
Providence to free the man from the danger of the snake and lioness;
but when Orlando looked in the man's face, he perceived that the
sleeper who was exposed to this double peril, was his own brother
Oliver, who had so cruelly used him, and had threatened to destroy him
by fire; and he was almost tempted to leave him a prey to the hungry
lioness; but brotherly affection and the gentleness of his nature soon

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Online LibraryCharles LambTales of Shakespeare → online text (page 5 of 23)