Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: W. L. Godshalk
Peer Reviewed

Troilus and Cressida (Folio 1, 1623)



Troylus and Cressida.

520And thou most reuerend for thy stretcht-out life,
I giue to both your speeches: which were such,
As Agamemnon and the hand of Greece
Should hold vp high in Brasse: and such againe
As venerable Nestor (hatch'd in Siluer)
525Should with a bond of ayre, strong as the Axletree
In which the Heauens ride, knit all Greekes eares
To his experienc'd tongue: yet let it please both
(Thou Great, and Wise) to heare Vlysses speake.
Aga. Speak Prince of Ithaca, and be't of lesse expect:
530That matter needlesse of importlesse burthen
Diuide thy lips; then we are confident
When ranke Thersites opes his Masticke iawes,
We shall heare Musicke, Wit, and Oracle.
Ulys. Troy yet vpon his basis had bene downe,
535And the great Hectors sword had lack'd a Master
But for these instances.
The specialty of Rule hath beene neglected;
And looke how many Grecian Tents do stand
Hollow vpon this Plaine, so many hollow Factions.
540When that the Generall is not like the Hiue,
To whom the Forragers shall all repaire,
What Hony is expected? Degree being vizarded,
Th'vnworthiest shewes as fairely in the Maske.
The Heauens themselues, the Planets, and this Center,
545Obserue degree, priority, and place,
Insisture, course, proportion, season, forme,
Office, and custome, in all line of Order:
And therefore is the glorious Planet Sol
In noble eminence, enthron'd and sphear'd
550Amid'st the other, whose med'cinable eye
Corrects the ill Aspects of Planets euill,
And postes like the Command'ment of a King,
Sans checke, to good and bad. But when the Planets
In euill mixture to disorder wander,
555What Plagues, and what portents, what mutiny?
What raging of the Sea? shaking of Earth?
Commotion in the Windes? Frights, changes, horrors,
Diuert, and cracke, rend and deracinate
The vnity, and married calme of States
560Quite from their fixure? O, when Degree is shak'd,
(Which is the Ladder to all high designes)
The enterprize is sicke. How could Communities,
Degrees in Schooles, and Brother-hoods in Cities,
Peacefull Commerce from diuidable shores,
565The primogenitiue, and due of Byrth,
Prerogatiue of Age, Crownes, Scepters, Lawrels,
(But by Degree) stand in Authentique place?
Take but Degree away, vn-tune that string,
And hearke what Discord followes: each thing meetes
570In meere oppugnancie. The bounded Waters,
Should lift their bosomes higher then the Shores,
And make a soppe of all this solid Globe:
Strength should be Lord of imbecility,
And the rude Sonne should strike his Father dead:
575Force should be right, or rather, right and wrong,
(Betweene whose endlesse iarre, Iustice recides)
Should loose her names, and so should Iustice too.
Then euery thing includes it selfe in Power,
Power into Will, Will into Appetite,
580And Appetite (an vniuersall Wolfe,
So doubly seconded with Will, and Power)
Must make perforce an vniuersall prey,
And last, eate vp himselfe.
Great Agamemnon:
585This Chaos, when Degree is suffocate,
Followes the choaking:
And this neglection of Degree, is it
That by a pace goes backward in a purpose
It hath to climbe. The Generall's disdain'd
590By him one step below; he, by the next,
That next, by him beneath: so euery step
Exampled by the first pace that is sicke
Of his Superiour, growes to an enuious Feauer
Of pale, and bloodlesse Emulation.
595And 'tis this Feauer that keepes Troy on foote,
Not her owne sinewes. To end a tale of length,
Troy in our weaknesse liues, not in her strength.
Nest. Most wisely hath Vlysses heere discouer'd
The Feauer, whereof all our power is sicke.
600Aga. The Nature of the sicknesse found (Ulysses)
What is the remedie?
Vlys. The great Achilles, whom Opinion crownes,
The sinew, and the fore-hand of our Hoste,
Hauing his eare full of his ayery Fame,
605Growes dainty of his worth, and in his Tent
Lyes mocking our designes. With him, Patroclus,
Vpon a lazie Bed, the liue-long day
Breakes scurrill Iests,
And with ridiculous and aukward action,
610(Which Slanderer, he imitation call's)
He Pageants vs. Sometime great Agamemnon,
Thy toplesse deputation he puts on;
And like a strutting Player, whose conceit
Lies in his Ham-string, and doth thinke it rich
615To heare the woodden Dialogue and sound
'Twixt his stretcht footing, and the Scaffolage,
Such to be pittied, and ore-rested seeming
He acts thy Greatnesse in: and when he speakes,
'Tis like a Chime a mending. With tearmes vnsquar'd,
620Which from the tongue of roaring Typhon dropt,
Would seemes Hyperboles. At this fusty stuffe,
The large Achilles (on his prest-bed lolling)
From his deepe Chest, laughes out a lowd applause,
Cries excellent, 'tis Agamemnon iust.
625Now play me Nestor; hum, and stroke thy Beard
As he, being drest to some Oration:
That's done, as neere as the extreamest ends
Of paralels; as like, as Vulcan and his wife,
Yet god Achilles still cries excellent,
630'Tis Nestor right. Now play him (me) Patroclus,
Arming to answer in a night-Alarme,
And then (forsooth) the faint defects of Age
Must be the Scene of myrth, to cough, and spit,
And with a palsie fumbling on his Gorget,
635Shake in and out the Riuet: and at this sport
Sir Valour dies; cries, O enough Patroclus,
Or, giue me ribs of Steele, I shall split all
In pleasure of my Spleene. And in this fashion,
All our abilities, gifts, natures, shapes,
640Seuerals and generals of grace exact,
Atchieuments, plots, orders, preuentions,
Excitements to the field, or speech for truce,
Successe or losse, what is, or is not, serues
As stuffe for these two, to make paradoxes.
645Nest. And in the imitation of these twaine,
Who (as Vlysses sayes) Opinion crownes
With an Imperiall voyce, many are infect:
Aiax is growne selfe-will'd, and beares his head
In such a reyne, in full as proud a place
650As broad Achilles, and keepes his Tent like him;
Makes factious Feasts, railes on our state of Warre
Bold