William Michael Rossetti William Shakespeare.

The complete works of Shakespeare: With a critical biography online

. (page 190 of 224)
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But more in Troilus thousand-fold I see
Than in the glass of Pandar's praise may be;
Yet hold I off. Women are angels, wooing:
Things won are done, joy% soul lies m the

doing ;
That she belov'd knows nought that knows not

Men prize the thing ungain'd more than It is:
That she was never yet that ever knew
Love got so sweet, as when desire did sue:
Therefore this maxim out of love I teach,—
Achievement is command; un^n'd, beseech:
Then though my heart's content firm love doA

Nothing of tluitshaU^^^^^^yes appear. [Aat

8C£NE UL—The Grecian Oan^ Brfon Aga-
memnon'B TenJL

Ssnet. Enter Aoamemvon, Nestob, Ulybsbs,
Menblaub, andothan,

JgauL Princes,
What grief hatli set the ianndioe on your cheeks?
The ample proposition that hope makes
In all designs begun on earth below,
Fails in the promis'd largeness: checks and dis-
Grow in the veins of actions highest reared ;
Aa knots, bj the conflux of meeting sap,
Infect the sound pine, and divert his grain
Tortive and errant from his course of growth.
Nor, princes, is it matter new to us,
That we come short of our suppose so fiir.
That, after seven years* siege, yet Troy walls

Sith every action that hath gone before.
Whereof we have record, trial did draw
Bias and thwart, not answering the aim.
And that unbodied figure of the thought
That gavet surmisd shape. Why then, you

Do Tou with cheeks ahash*d behold our works;
Ana think them shames, which are, indeed, nought

But the protractive trials of great Jove,
To find persistive constancy m men ?
The fineness of which metal is not found
In fortune's love : for then, the bold and coward.
The wise and fool, the artist and unread.
The hard and soft, seem all affin'd and kin :
But, in the Mrind and tempest of her frown,
Distinction, with a broad and powerful fim,
Pufl!ng at all, winnows the lignt away;
And what hath mass, or matter, by itself
Ldes, rich in virtue, and unmingled.

Jfe$L With due observance of thy godlike seat,
Great Agamemnon, Nestor shall apply
Thy latest words. In the reproof of chance
Lies the true proof of men : the sea being smooth,
How many shallow bauble boaU dare sail
Upon her petient breast, noaking their wi^
With those of nobler bulk I
But let the rufiian Boreas once enrase
The gentle Thesis, and, anon, behold
The strong^ribb*d liark through liquid mountains

Bounding between the two moist elements,
like Perseus' horse: Wliere% then the sancy

Whose weak untimber*d sides but even now
Co-rivaird greatness ? either to harbour fled,
Or made a toast for Neptune. Even so
Doth valour's show, and valour's worth, divide.
In storms of fortune : For, in her ray and bright-


The herd hath more annoyance by the brize
Than by the tiger ; bat when the splitting wind
Makes flexible the knees of knotted oaks,
And flies fled under shade, why, then, the thing

of courage.
As Tous'd with rage, with rage doth sympathize.
And, with an accent tunVl in self-eame key,
Hetums to chiding fortune.

Ulyn, Agamemnon, —

Thou great commander, nerve and bone of Greece
Heart of our nnmbent, soul and only spirit.
In whom the tempers and the min(» of all
Should be shut ap,— hear what Ulysses speaka.
Besides the applause and approbation

The which, — most mighty for thy place ana

sway,— [To Aoamemvoh.

And thou most reverend for thy stretch 'd-out

life, — [7b Nbstob.

I give to both your speeches, — ^which were such
As Agamemnon and the hand of Greece
Should hold up high in brass ; and such again
As venerable Nestor, hatchM in silver.
Should with a bond of air, strong as the axletree
On which the heavens ride, knit all Greeks* ears
To his experienc'd toQgae,— >yet let it please

Thou great,— and wise, — to hear Ulysses speak.
Agmu Speak, prince of Ithaca; and be*t of less

That matter needless, of importless burden.
Divide thy lips, than we are confident.
When rank Thersites opes his mastick jaws,
We shall hear music, vrit, and oracle.

Ulysa. Troy, yet upon his basb, had been down.
And the great Hector's sword had lack'd a master.
But for these instances.
The specialty of rule hath been neglected :
And, look, how many Grecian tents do stand
Hollow upon this plain, so many hollow fiu^ns.
When that the general is not like the hive.
To whom the foragers shall all repair.
What honey is expected? Degree being vizarded.
The unworthiest shows as fairly in the mask.
The heavens themselves, the planets, and this

Observe degree, priority, and place,
Insisture, course, proportion, season, form,
Ofilce, and custom, in all line of order :
And therefore b the glorious planet, Sol,
In noble eminence enthron'd and spher'd
Amidst the other; whose med'cinable eye
Corrects the ill aspects of planets evil.
And posts, Uke the commandment ot a king.
Sans check, to good and bad: fiat when the planets.
In evil mixture, to disorder wander.
What phizes, and what portents 1 what mutiny I
What ragine of the sea I shaking of earth I
Commotion m the wmds I frights, changes, horrors,
Divert and crack, rend and deracinate
The unity and married calm of states
Quite from their fixtarel 0, when degree is

Which is the ladder to all high designs.
The enterprise is sick! How could communities,
Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in otiea,
Peaceful commerce from dividable shores.
The primogenitive and due of birth,
Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurela,
But by desree, stand in authentic place ?
Take but degree away, untune that string.
And, hark, what discord follows 1 each thing meets
In mere oppugnancy : The bounded waters
Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores.
And make a sop of all this solid ^lobe:
Strength should be lord of imbecility.
And the rude son should strike his mther dead :
Force should be right ; or, rather, right and wrong
(Between whose endless jar justice resides)
Should lose their names, and so should justioe too.
Then everything includes itself in power.
Power into wUl, will into appetite*
And appetite an universal wolf.
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make, perforce, an universal prey,
And, last, eat up himself. Great Agamenuinfl,
This chaos, when degree is suffocate,

Follows the choking.

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And this neglectioD of degree is it,

That by a pace goes baokward, in a purpose

It hatb to climb. The general*B disdain 'd

By bim one step below; he, by the next;

Tnat next, by him beneath : so every step,

Exampled b^ the first pace that is sick

Of his superior, grows to an euyioos fever

Of pale and bloodless emulation :

And 'tis this fever that keeps Troy on foot,

Not her own sinews. To end a tale of length,

Troy in our weakness stands, not in her strength.

Ifest, Most wisely hath Ulysses here discover'd
The fever whereof all our i>ower is sick.

Again. The nature of the sickness found, Ulysses,
What is the remedy ?

Ui^ The great Achilles, whom opinion crowns
The sinew and the forehand of our host,
Having his ear full of his airy fame,
Grows dainty of his worth, and in his tent
Lies mocking our designs : With him, Patroclus,
Upon a lazy bed, the livelong day
Breaks scurril jests ;

And with ridiculous and awkward action
(\S'hich, slanderer, he imitation callb)
He pageants us. Sometime, great Agamemnon,
Thy topless deputation he puts on:
And like a strutting player, whose conceit
Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich
To hear the wooden dialogue and sound
Twixt his stretch'd footing and the scaffoldage,
Such to-be-pitied and o'er-wrested seeming
He acts thy greatness in : and when he speaks,
Tis like a chime a mending ; with terms uusquar'd,
Which from the tongue of roaring Typhon dropp'd
Would seem h^r boles. At this fusty stuff,
The large Achilles, on his pressed bed lolling.
From his deep chest laughs out a loud applause;
Cries-" Excellent! — 'Tis Agamemnon just —
Now play me Nestor;— hem, and stroke thy beard,
As he, being 'dress'd to some oration."
That's done ;— as near as the extremest ends
Of parallels.— as like as Vulcan and his wife :
Yet god Achilles still cries, " Excellent;
•Tis Nestor right! Now play him me, Patroclus,
Arming to answer in a night alarm."
And then, forsooth, the faint defects of age
Most be the scene of mirth ; to cough, and spit.
And with a palsy, fumbling on bis gorget.
Shake in and out the rivet ; and at this sport.
Sir Valour dies; cries, ** O I— enough, Patroclus ;
Or give me riba of steell I shall split all
In pleasure of my spleen." And in this fashion.
All oar abilities, girt^, natures, shapes,
Severals and generals of grace exa^
Achievements, plots, orders, preventions,
Excitements to the field, or speech for trace,
Sacoess, or loss, what is, or is not, serves
As stuff for these two to make paradoxes.

Neii. And in the imitation of these twain
Whom, as Ulysses says, opinion crowns
(With an imperial voice), many are infect.
Ajax Is grown self-wiird ; and bears his head
In sach a rein^ in full as proud a place
As broad Achilles; keeps his tent like him ;
Hakes Actions feasts; rails on our state of war
Bold as an oracle ; and sets Thersites
|A sUve whose gall coins slanders like a mint)
Te match us in comparisons with dirt;
To weaken and discredit our exposure,
^ow rank soever rounded in with danger.

Vlyaa. They tax our policy, and call it cowardice;
Count wisdom aa no member of the war;
Forestall prescienoe, and esteem no act

But that of hand : the still and mental narts,—
That do contrive how many hands shaA strike.
When fitness calls them on; and kpow, by

Of their observant toil, the enemies* weight, —
Why, tills hath not a finger's dignity:
They call this bed-work, mappery, closet-war:
So that the ram that batters down the wall.
For the great swing and rudeness of his poise.
They place betore his hand that made the engine ;
Or those that with the fineness of their souls
By reason guide his execution.

Ifest, Let this be granted, and Achilles' horse
Makes many Thetis' sons. [ Tucket touruU,

Agam, What trumpet? look, Menelaus.

Enter MvEAB,

Men. From Troy.

Aaam. What would you fore our tent ?

Mie. lathis

Qreat Agamemnon^ tent, I pray yon ?

Agam. Even thia.

jEne. May one that is a herald, and a prince,
Do a fair message to his kingly ears ?

Agam. With surety stronger tlian Achilles' arm
'Fore all the Oreelush beads, which with one

Call Agamemnon head and general.

jEne. Fair leave, and large security. How may
A stranger to those most imperial looks
Know them from eyes of other mortals ?

Agam. How ?

jEne. Ay;
I ask, that I might waken reverence.
And bid the cheek be ready with a blush
Modest as morning when she coldly eyes
The youthful Pbcebus:
Which is that god in oflSce, guiding men ?
Which is the high and mighty Agamemnon }

Agam. This Trojan sooms as ; or the mo
Are ceremonious conrtiers.

.^hie. Courtiers as free, as debonair^ unarm'd.
As bending angels ; that's their fame in peace :
But when they would seem soldiers, they liave

Good arms, strong joints, troe swords ; and, Jove>

Nothing 80 full of heart But peace, ^neaa
Peace, Trojan ; lay thjr finger on thy lipsl
The worthiness of praise di:itains his worth.
If that the prais'd himself bring the praise rorth :
But what the repining enemy commends.
That breath fame blows; that praise, sole pare,

Agam. Sir, yoa of Troy, call you yoorseH

jEne. Ay, Greek, tliat is my name.

Again. What's your afiair, I pray you ?

jEne. Sir, pardon ; His for A^memnon's eara.

Agtan. He hears nought pnvately that comes
from Troy.

.^kte. Nor I from Troy come not to whisper him :
I bring a trumpet to awake his ear
To set his sense on the attentive bent
And then to speak.

Agam. Speak frankly as the wind ;

It is not Agamemnon's sleeping hour;
That thou shalt know, Trojan, be is awake.
He tells thee so himself.

yEne. Trumpet, blow loud.

Send thy brass voice through all these lazy Usom;
And every Greek of m,ttK^l^^.,to^^gJ^


^*^^^ Troy means fairly shalT be spoke aloud.

[Ihmtffet aoimda.
We have, great Agamemnon, here in Troy
A prinoe oall*d Hector (Priam b his father),
Who in this dull and long-continued truce
In mety grown ; be bade me take a trumpet,
And to this pu^iose speak. Kings, princes, lords,
If there be one, amongst the fkir'st of Qreeoe,
That holds his honour higher than his ease ;
That seeks his praise more than be fears his peril ;
That knows his valour, and knows not his fear,
That loves his mistress more than in confession
(With truant vows to her own lips he loves).
And dare avow her beauty and her worth,
In other arms than hers— to him this challenge.
Hector, in view of Trojans and of Qreoks,
Shall make it good, or do his best to do it,
Ue bath a lady, wiser, fairer, truer,
Than ever Greek did compass in his arms;
And will to-morrow with his trumpet call,
Mid-way between your tents and walls of Troy,
To rouse a Grecian that is true in love :
If any come, Hector shall honour him ;
If none, he'll say in Troy when he retiree,
The Grecian dames are sunburnt, and not worth
The splinter of a lance. Even so much.

Agam, This shall be told our lovers, lord .£nea8;
If none of them have soul in such a kind,
We left them all at home: But we are soldiers;
And may tliat soldier a mere recreant prove,
That meant not, bath not, or is not in love I
If then one is, or hath, or means to be.
That one meets Hector; if none else. 111 be he.

NeaL Tell him of Nestor, one that was a man
When Hector's grandsire suck*d : he is old now ;
But, if there be not in our Grecian mould
One noble man, that hath one spark of fire
To answer for his love, tell him from me, —
111 hide my silver beard in a gold beaver.
And in my vantbrace put this withered brawn ;
And meetme him, will tell him, that my lady
Was fairer than his grandame, and as chaste
As may be in the world; his youth in flood,
111 paMm this truth with my three drops of blood.

mne. Now heavens forbid such scarcity of
youth I

UlifMs* Amen.

Ajfaan, Fair lord .£nea8, let me touch your
To oor pavilion shall I lead you first
Achilles shall have word of this intent;
So shall each lord of Greece, from tent to tent :
Yourself shall feast with us before you go,
And find the welcome of a noble foe.

[Exeunt all hut Ulybses and Nestor.

Ulya$, Nestor.

Nett, What says Ulysses?

Ulyss, I have a young conception in my brain,
Beyou my time to bring it to some shape.



I Whose grossness little characters sum up:
And, in the publication, make no strain.
But that Achilles, were his brain as barren
As banks of Libya,— though, Apollo knows.
Tis dry enough, — will, with great speed of judg-
Ay;, with celerity, find Hector^ purpose
Pointing on him.

UlyM. And wake him to the answer, think yon?

Nt»U Yes,

It is most meet; Whom may you else suppose,
That can from Hector bring his honour otif.
If not Achilles? Though 't be a sportful combat.
Yet in this trial much opinion dwells ;
For here the Trojuns taste our dear'st repute
With their fin'st palate : And trust to me, Ulysses,
Our imputation shall be oddly pois'd
In this wild action: for the success.
Although particular, shall give a scantling
Of good or bad unto the general ;
And in such indexes, although small pricks
To their subsequent vohimes, there is seen
The baby figure of the giant mass
Of things to come at large. It is supposed.
He that meets Hector issues from our choice:
And choice, being mutual act of all our souls,
Makes merit her election ; and doth boil.
As 'twere from forth as all, a man distilFd
Out of our virtues ; who, miscarrying,
What heart from hence receives the conquering

To steel a strong opinion to themselves?
Which entertain'd, limbs are his instruments.
In r o less working, than are swords and bows
Directive by the limbs.

Uly$$, Give pardon to my speech;—
Therefore *tis meet, Achilles meet not Hector.
Let us like merchants show our foulest wares.
And think, perchance, theyll sell ; if not,
The lustre of the better yet to show
Sliall show the better. Do not consent
That ever Hector and Achilles meet;
For both our honour and our shame, in this,
Are dogg*d with two strange followers.

Neat, 1 see them not with my old eyes; what
are they?

Ulyti* What glory our Achilles shares from
Were he not proud, we all should wear with him:
But he already is too insolent ;
And we were better parch in Afirio snn.
Than in the pride aoa salt scorn of his eyes.
Should he *scape Hector fair: If he were foil'd.
Why, then we did our main opinion crush
In taint of our best man. No, make a lottery *
And, by device, let blockish Ajax draw
The sort to fight with Hector : Among ourselvea
Give him allowance as the worthier man.
For that will phys c the great Myrmidon,

Digitized by




SCENE h—Jnoiherpart of ike Grecian Camp,
Enter Ajaz and Thebsites.

Afo* Thersites, —

liter, Agamemnon— how if he had boOs? full,
all oyer, generally?

JL^tn. Thersites, —

Ther, And those bofls did mn ?~8a7 so, — did
not the general run ? were not that a botchj core?

Aiax, Dog,—

2her. Then would oome some matter from him;
I see none now.

4^is* Thou bitch-wolfs aon, eanst thou not
hear? Feel then. iStrOeeekim,

Ther* The plague of Qreece upon thee, thou
mon^el beef-wittod lord I

4^>^. Speak then, thou rinew^dest leaven,
speak : I will beat thee into handsomeness.

I%er, I shall sooner rail thee into wit and
holiness: but I think thj horse will sooner con
an oration, than thou learn a prajer without book.
Thou canst strike, canst thou? a red murrain o'
thj jade^ tricks !

^^iax, Toad:itool, learn me the proclamation.

Ther. Dost thou thmk I have no sense, thou

'4JOX. The proclamation —

Ther, Thou art proclaimed a fool, I think.

4jaaB, Do not, porcupine, do not; mj fingers

Ther. I would thou didst itch from head to foot,
and I had the scratching of thee : I would make
thee the loathsomest scab in Greece. When thou
art forth in the incursions, thou strikest as slow
as another.

Jicue. I say, the proclamation,—

Ther. Thou grnmblest and railest eyery hour
on Achilles; and thou arc as full of envy at his
greatness, as Cerberus is at Proserpina^ beauty,
ay, that thou bark^st at him.

JL^iix. Mistress Thersites '

Ther, Thou shouldst strike him.

Amob. Ck>bloafI

Ther. He would pun thee into shiyers with his
fist, as a sailor breaks a biscuit.

Aiax. You whoreson curl [Beating him.

Ther. Do, do.

Ajax, Thou stool for a witch I

Ther, Ay, do, do: thou sodden-witted lord!
thou hast no more brain than I have hi mine
elbows; an assinego may tutor thee : Thou scurvy
ydiant ass ! thou art here but to thrash Trojans ;
and thou art bought and sold among those of any
wit, like a Barbarian slave. If thou use to beat
me, I will begin at thy heel, and tell what thou
art hj inches, thou thing of no bowels, thou !

4^»' You dog !

Ther. You scurvy lord I

4Ais> You curl [Beating him.

Iher. Mars his idiot I do, rudeness ; do, camel ;
do, do.

Enter Achilles and Patboclus.

AM. Why, how now, Ajax? wherefore do
yon thb?
How now, Thersites? what% the matter, man?
Ther. Yon see him there, do you?
AthiL Ay; what^ the matter?
7'her. Nay. look upon him.
AehaL So I do; what's the matter?

Ther. Nay, but regard him welL

AchiL Well, why I do so.

Ther. But yet you look not well upon him: for
whomsoever you take him to be, he is Ajax.

AcML 1 know that, fool.

Ther. A v, but that fool knows not himseUL

Ajax. Therefore 1 beat thee.

Ther. Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit ha
utters ! his evasions have ears thus long. I have
bobbed his brain more than he has beat my bones:
I will buy nine sparrows for a penny, and hispid
mater is not worth the ninth part of a sparrow.
This lord, Achilles, Ajax,— who wears his wit in
his belly, and his guts in bis bead,— 111 tell you
what i say of him.

AchiL What?

Ther, I say, this Ajax—

Nay, good Ajax.

[Ajax ojers to strike ftm, Aghilles

Ther. Has not so much wit —

AchU. Nay, I must hold you.

Ther, As will stop the eye of Helen% needle,
for whom he comes to fight.

AchiL Peace, fool I

Ther, I would have peace and ouietness, but the
fool will not : he there ; that he ; look you there.

A^ax, O thou damned curl I shall —

Achil, Will vou set your wit to a fool's?

Ther. No, I warrant yon; for a fool% wiQ
shame it.

Patr, Good words, Thersites.

AtJdL What's the Quarrel?

Aiax. I bade the vile owl go leara me the teoor
of the proclamation, and he rails upon ma.

Ther, I serve thee not.

A^ax. Well, go to, go to.

Ther, I serve here voluntary.

AcinL Your last service was saffbranoe, ^was
not voluntary; no man is beaten voluntary; Ajax
was here the voluntary, and you as unaer an

Ther, E'en so ;— a great deal of your wit too
lies in your sinews, or else there be liars. Hector
shall have a great catch if he knock out either
of your brains; 'a were as good crack a fus^ nut
with no kernel.

AchiL What, with me too, Thersites?

Ther, There's Ulysses and old Nestor, — ^wlioee
wit was mouldy ere your grandsires had nails on
their toes,— yoke you like draught oxen, and
make you plough up the war.

AchU, What, what?

Ther. Yes, good sooth. To Achilles ! to Ajax I

Ajax. I shall cut out your tongue.

Ther, Tis no matter; I shall speak as much aa
thou, afterwards.

PaJtr, No more words, Thersites; peace.

Ther, I will hold my peace when Achilles* bradi
bids me, shall I ?

AchiL There's for yon, Patrodus.

Ther. I will see you hanged, like dotpolea. era
I come an^ more to your tents ; £ will keep where
there is wit stirring, and leave the faction of fools.

Patr. A good riddance.

AjM. Marry, this, sir, is prooIalm*d tiiroogli
all our host:
That Hector, by the fifUi hour of tiiegBiini .

Digitized by VjOOQ IC

Will, wtth a trumpet, ^ixt our tents and Troy,
To-morrow morning call some knight to arras,
That hath a stomach ; and sach a one that dare
liaintain— I know not what ; 'tis trash : Farewell.

Ajax, Farewell. Who shall answer him ?

AchU. I know not, it is put to lottery; otherwise,
He knew his man.

Ajax. 0, meaning jom^IU go learn more of it.


SCENE IL— Troy. A Room in Priam's Pdtaee,

Enter Pezam, Hector, Tboilub, Paris, and

Pru After so many hoars, lires, speeches spent,
Thns once again says Nestor from the Greeks :
** Delirer Helen, and all damage else—
As honoar, loss of time, travel, expense.
Wounds, friends, and what else dear that Is oon-

In hot digestion of this cormorant war, —
Shall be struck off:"— Hector, what say you to'«?
HecU Though no man lesser fears toe Greeks

than I,
As fiff as toucheth my particular, yet, dread Priam,
Tliere is no lady of more softer l>owels,
More spongy to suck in the sense of fear,
More ready to cryoat—"Whoknows what follows?"
Than Hector is : The wound of peace is surety.
Surety secure ; but modest doubt is caird
The beacon of the vrise, the tent that searches
To the bottom of the worst. Let Helen go :
Since thefirst sword was dravm about this question,
Every tithe soul, *mongst many thousand dismes,
Hath been as dear as Helen ; I mean of ours.
If we hare lost so many tenths of ours.
To guard a thing not ours ; nor worth to us.
Had it our name, the value of one ten ;
What merit 's in that reason which denies
The yielding of her up?

Tro. Fie, fie, my brother!

Weigh yon the worth and honoar of a king
So great as our dread father, in a scale
Of oummon ounces? will you with counters sum
The past-proportion of his infinite?
And Duckle-m a waist most fathomless
With spans and inches so diminutive
As fears and reasons ? fie, for godly shame :
HeL No marvel, though you bite so sharp at

Ton are so empty of them. Should not our father
Bear the great sway of his affairs with reasons.
Because vour speech hath none, that tells him so?
Tro, You are for dreams and slumbers, brother

Ton ftir your gloves with reason. Here are your

reasons :
Too know an enemy intends tou harm;
Tou know a sword employ^ is nerilous,
And rea*ion flies the object of all harm :
Who marvels then, when Heleniis beholds
A Grecian and his sword, if ho do set
The very wings of reason to his heels ;
And fly like chidden Mercury from Jove,
Or like a star dis-orb*d?— Nav, if we talk of reason,

Online LibraryWilliam Michael Rossetti William ShakespeareThe complete works of Shakespeare: With a critical biography → online text (page 190 of 224)