Internet Shakespeare Editions

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

Troilus and Cressida (Folio 1, 1623)


Senet. Enter Agamemnon, Nestor, Vlysses, Diome-
455des, Menelaus, with others.
Agam. Princes:
What greefe hath set the Iaundies on your cheekes?
The ample proposition that hope makes
In all designes, begun on earth below
460Fayles in the promist largenesse: checkes and disasters
Grow in the veines of actions highest rear'd.
As knots by the conflux of meeting sap,
Infect the sound Pine, and diuerts his Graine
Tortiue and erant from his course of growth.
465Nor Princes, is it matter new to vs,
That we come short of our suppose so farre,
That after seuen yeares siege, yet Troy walles stand,
Sith euery action that hath gone before,
Whereof we haue Record, Triall did draw
470Bias and thwart, not answering the ayme:
And that vnbodied figure of the thought
That gaue't surmised shape. Why then (you Princes)
Do you with cheekes abash'd, behold our workes,
And thinke them shame, which are (indeed) nought else
475But the protractiue trials of great Ioue,
To finde persistiue constancie in men?
The finenesse of which Mettall is not found
In Fortunes loue: for then, the Bold and Coward,
The Wise and Foole, the Artist and vn-read,
480The hard and soft, seeme all affin'd, and kin.
But in the Winde and Tempest of her frowne,
Distinction with a lowd and powrefull fan,
Puffing at all, winnowes the light away;
And what hath masse, or matter by it selfe,
485Lies rich in Vertue, and vnmingled.
Nestor. With due Obseruance of thy godly seat,
Great Agamemnon, Nestor shall apply
Thy latest words.
In the reproofe of Chance,
490Lies the true proofe of men: The Sea being smooth,
How many shallow bauble Boates dare saile
Vpon her patient brest, making their way
With those of Nobler bulke?
But let the Ruffian Boreas once enrage
495The gentle Thetis, and anon behold
The strong ribb'd Barke through liquid Mountaines cut,
Bounding betweene the two moyst Elements
Like Perseus Horse. Where's then the sawcy Boate,
Whose weake vntimber'd sides but euen now
500Co-riual'd Greatnesse? Either to harbour fled,
Or made a Toste for Neptune. Euen so,
Doth valours shew, and valours worth diuide
In stormes of Fortune.
For, in her ray and brightnesse,
505The Heard hath more annoyance by the Brieze
Then by the Tyger: But, when the splitting winde
Makes flexible the knees of knotted Oakes,
And Flies fled vnder shade, why then
The thing of Courage,
510As rowz'd with rage, with rage doth sympathize,
And with an accent tun'd in selfe-same key,
Retyres to chiding Fortune.
Vlys. Agamemnon:
Thou great Commander, Nerue, and Bone of Greece,
515Heart of our Numbers, soule, and onely spirit,
In whom the tempers, and the mindes of all
Should be shut vp: Heare what Vlysses speakes,
Besides the applause and approbation
The which most mighty for thy place and sway,
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 as an Oracle, and sets Thersites
A slaue, whose Gall coines slanders like a Mint,
To match vs in comparisons with durt,
655To weaken and discredit our exposure,
How ranke soeuer rounded in with danger.
Vlys. They taxe our policy, and call it Cowardice,
Count Wisedome as no member of the Warre,
Fore-stall prescience, and esteeme no acte
660But that of hand: The still and mentall parts,
That do contriue how many hands shall strike
When fitnesse call them on, and know by measure
Of their obseruant toyle, the Enemies waight,
Why this hath not a fingers dignity:
665They call this Bed-worke, Mapp'ry, Closset-Warre:
So that the Ramme that batters downe the wall,
For the great swing and rudenesse of his poize,
They place before his hand that made the Engine,
Or those that with the finenesse of their soules,
670By Reason guide his execution.
Nest. Let this be granted, and Achilles horse
Makes many Thetis sonnes.
Tucket
Aga. What Trumpet? Looke Menelaus.
Men. From Troy.
Enter Æneas.
675Aga. What would you 'fore our Tent?
Æne. Is this great Agamemnons Tent, I pray you?
Aga. Euen this.
Æne. May one that is a Herald, and a Prince,
Do a faire message to his Kingly eares?
680Aga. With surety stronger then Achilles arme,
'Fore all the Greekish heads, which with one voyce
Call Agamemnon Head and Generall.
Æne. Faire leaue, and large security. How may
A stranger to those most Imperial lookes,
685Know them from eyes of other Mortals?
Aga. How?
Æne. I: I aske, that I might waken reuerence,
And on the cheeke be ready with a blush
Modest as morning, when she coldly eyes
690The youthfull Phœbus:
Which is that God in office guiding men?
Which is the high and mighty Agamemnon?
Aga. This Troyan scornes vs, or the men of Troy
Are ceremonious Courtiers.
695Æne. Courtiers as free, as debonnaire; vnarm'd,
As bending Angels: that's their Fame, in peace:
But when they would seeme Souldiers, they haue galles,
Good armes, strong ioynts, true swords, & Ioues accord,
Nothing so full of heart. But peace Æneas,
700Peace Troyan, lay thy finger on thy lips,
The worthinesse of praise distaines his worth:
If that he prais'd himselfe, bring the praise forth.
But what the repining enemy commends,
That breath Fame blowes, that praise sole pure transcẽds.
705Aga. Sir, you of Troy, call you your selfe Æneas?
Æne. I Greeke, that is my name.
Aga. What's your affayre I pray you?
Æne. Sir pardon, 'tis for Agamemnons eares.
Aga. He heares nought priuatly
710That comes from Troy.
Æne. Nor I from Troy come not to whisper him,
I bring a Trumpet to awake his eare,
To set his sence on the attentiue bent,
And then to speake.
715Aga. Speake frankely as the winde,
It is not Agamemnons sleeping houre;
That thou shalt know Troyan he is awake,
He tels thee so himselfe.
Æne. Trumpet blow loud,
720Send thy Brasse voyce through all these lazie Tents,
And euery Greeke of mettle, let him know,
What Troy meanes fairely, shall be spoke alowd.
The Trumpets sound.
We haue great Agamemnon heere in Troy,
725A Prince calld Hector, Priam is his Father:
Who in this dull and long-continew'd Truce
Is rusty growne. He bad me take a Trumpet,
And to this purpose speake: Kings, Princes, Lords,
If there be one among'st the fayr'st of Greece,
730That holds his Honor higher then his ease,
That seekes his praise, more then he feares his perill,
That knowes his Valour, and knowes not his feare,
That loues his Mistris more then in consession,
(With truant vowes to her owne lips he loues)
735And dare avow her Beauty, and her Worth,
In other armes then hers: to him this Challenge.
Hector, in view of Troyans, and of Greekes,
Shall make it good, or do his best to do it.
He hath a Lady, wiser, fairer, truer,
740Then euer Greeke did compasse in his armes,
And will to morrow with his Trumpet call,
Midway betweene your Tents, and walles of Troy,
To rowze a Grecian that is true in loue.
If any come, Hector shal honour him:
745If none, hee'l say in Troy when he retyres,
The Grecian Dames are sun-burnt, and not worth
The splinter of a Lance: Euen so much.
Aga. This shall be told our Louers Lord Æneas,
If none of them haue soule in such a kinde,
750We left them all at home: But we are Souldiers,
And may that Souldier a meere recreant proue,
That meanes not, hath not, or is not in loue:
If then one is, or hath, or meanes to be,
That one meets Hector; if none else, Ile be he.
755Nest. Tell him of Nestor, one that was a man
When Hectors Grandsire suckt: 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 Loue; tell him from me,
760Ile hide my Siluer beard in a Gold Beauer,
And in my Vantbrace put this wither'd brawne,
And meeting him, wil tell him, that my Lady
Was fayrer then his Grandame, and as chaste
As may be in the world: his youth in flood,
765Ile pawne this truth with my three drops of blood.
Æne. Now heauens forbid such scarsitie of youth.
Vlys. Amen.
Aga. Faire Lord Æneas,
Let me touch your hand:
770To our Pauillion shal I leade you first:
Achilles shall haue word of this intent,
So shall each Lord of Greece from Tent to Tent:
Your selfe shall Feast with vs before you goe,
And finde the welcome of a Noble Foe.
Exeunt.
775
Manet Vlysses, and Nestor.
Vlys. Nestor.
Nest. What sayes Vlysses?
Vlys. I haue a young conception in my braine,
Be you my time to bring it to some shape.
780Nest. What is't?
Ulysses. This 'tis:
Blunt wedges riue hard knots: the seeded Pride
That hath to this maturity blowne vp
In ranke Achilles, must or now be cropt,
785Or shedding breed a Nursery of like euil
To ouer-bulke vs all.
Nest. Wel, and how?
Ulys. This challenge that the gallant Hector sends,
How euer it is spred in general name,
790Relates in purpose onely to Achilles.
Nest. The purpose is perspicuous euen as substance,
Whose grossenesse little charracters summe vp,
And in the publication make no straine,
But that Achilles, were his braine as barren
795As bankes of Lybia, though (Apollo knowes)
'Tis dry enough, wil with great speede of iudgement,
I, with celerity, finde Hectors purpose
Pointing on him.
Ulys. And wake him to the answer, thinke you?
800Nest. Yes, 'tis most meet; who may you else oppose
That can from Hector bring his Honor off,
If not Achilles; though't be a sportfull Combate,
Yet in this triall, much opinion dwels.
For heere the Troyans taste our deer'st repute
805With their fin'st Pallate: and trust to me Vlysses,
Our imputation shall be oddely poiz'd
In this wilde action. For the successe
(Although particular) shall giue a scantling
Of good or bad, vnto the Generall:
810And in such Indexes, although small prickes
To their subsequent Volumes, there is seene
The baby figure of the Gyant-masse
Of things to come at large. It is suppos'd,
He that meets Hector, issues from our choyse;
815And choise being mutuall acte of all our soules,
Makes Merit her election, and doth boyle
As 'twere, from forth vs all: a man distill'd
Out of our Vertues; who miscarrying,
What heart from hence receyues the conqu'ring part
820To steele a strong opinion to themselues,
Which entertain'd, Limbes are in his instruments,
In no lesse working, then are Swords and Bowes
Directiue by the Limbes.
Vlys. Giue pardon to my speech:
825Therefore 'tis meet, Achilles meet not Hector:
Let vs (like Merchants) shew our fowlest Wares,
And thinke perchance they'l sell: If not,
The luster of the better yet to shew,
Shall shew the better. Do not consent,
830That euer Hector and Achilles meete:
For both our Honour, and our Shame in this,
Are dogg'd with two strange Followers.
Nest. I see them not with my old eies: what are they?
Vlys. What glory our Achilles shares from Hector,
835(Were he not proud) we all should weare with him:
But he already is too insolent,
And we were better parch in Affricke Sunne,
Then in the pride and salt scorne of his eyes
Should he scape Hector faire. If he were foyld,
840Why then we did our maine opinion crush
In taint of our best man. No, make a Lott'ry,
And by deuice let blockish Aiax draw
The sort to fight with Hector: Among our selues,
Giue him allowance as the worthier man,
845For that will physicke the great Myrmidon
Who broyles in lowd applause, and make him fall
His Crest, that prouder then blew Iris bends.
If the dull brainlesse Aiax come safe off,
Wee'l dresse him vp in voyces: if he faile,
850Yet go we vnder our opinion still,
That we haue better men. But hit or misse,
Our proiects life this shape of sence assumes,
Aiax imploy'd, pluckes downe Achilles Plumes.
Nest. Now Vlysses, I begin to rellish thy aduice,
855And I wil giue a taste of it forthwith
To Agamemnon, go we to him straight:
Two Curres shal tame each other, Pride alone
Must tarre the Mastiffes on, as 'twere their bone.
Exeunt