Internet Shakespeare Editions

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

Troilus and Cressida (Folio 1, 1623)


Enter Priam, Hector, Troylus, Paris and Helenus.
985Pri. After so many houres, liues, speeches spent,
Thus once againe sayes Nestor from the Greekes,
Deliuer Helen, and all damage else
(As honour, losse of time, trauaile, expence,
Wounds, friends, and what els deere that is consum'd
990In hot digestion of this comorant Warre)
Shall be stroke off. Hector, what say you too't.
Hect. Though no man lesser feares the Greeks then I,
As farre as touches my particular: yet dread Priam,
There is no Lady of more softer bowels,
995More spungie, to sucke in the sense of Feare,
More ready to cry out, who knowes what followes
Then Hector is: the wound of peace is surety,
Surety secure: but modest Doubt is cal'd
The Beacon of the wise: the tent that searches
1000To'th'bottome of the worst. Let Helen go,
Since the first sword was drawne about this question,
Euery tythe soule 'mongst many thousand dismes,
Hath bin as deere as Helen: I meane of ours:
If we haue lost so many tenths of ours
1005To guard a thing not ours, nor worth to vs
(Had it our name) the valew of one ten;
What merit's in that reason which denies
The yeelding of her vp.
Troy. Fie, fie, my Brother;
1010Weigh you the worth and honour of a King
(So great as our dread Father) in a Scale
Of common Ounces? Wil you with Counters summe
The past proportion of his infinite,
And buckle in a waste most fathomlesse,
1015With spannes and inches so diminutiue,
As feares and reasons? Fie for godly shame?
Hel. No maruel though you bite so sharp at reasons,
You are so empty of them, should not our Father
Beare the great sway of his affayres with reasons,
1020Because your speech hath none that tels him so.
Troy. You are for dreames & slumbers brother Priest
You furre your gloues with reason: here are your reasons
You know an enemy intends you harme,
You know, a sword imploy'd is perillous,
1025And reason flyes the obiect of all harme.
Who maruels then when Helenus beholds
A Grecian and his sword, if he do set
The very wings of reason to his heeles:
Or like a Starre disorb'd. Nay, if we talke of Reason,
1030And flye like chidden Mercurie from Ioue,
Let's shut our gates and sleepe: Manhood and Honor
Should haue hard hearts, wold they but fat their thoghts
With this cramm'd reason: reason and respect,
Makes Liuers pale, and lustyhood deiect.
1035Hect. Brother, she is not worth
What she doth cost the holding.
Troy. What's aught, but as 'tis valew'd?
Hect. But value dwels not in particular will,
It holds his estimate and dignitie
1040As well, wherein 'tis precious of it selfe,
As in the prizer: 'Tis made Idolatrie,
To make the seruice greater then the God,
And the will dotes that is inclineable
To what infectiously it selfe affects,
1045Without some image of th'affected merit.
Troy. I take to day a Wife, and my election
Is led on in the conduct of my Will;
My Will enkindled by mine eyes and eares,
Two traded Pylots 'twixt the dangerous shores
1050Of Will, and Iudgement. How may I auoyde
(Although my will distaste what it elected)
The Wife I chose, there can be no euasion
To blench from this, and to stand firme by honour.
We turne not backe the Silkes vpon the Merchant
1055When we haue spoyl'd them; nor the remainder Viands
We do not throw in vnrespectiue same,
Because we now are full. It was thought meete
Paris should do some vengeance on the Greekes;
Your breath of full consent bellied his Sailes,
1060The Seas and Windes (old Wranglers) tooke a Truce,
And did him seruice; he touch'd the Ports desir'd,
And for an old Aunt whom the Greekes held Captiue,
He brought a Grecian Queen, whose youth & freshnesse
Wrinkles Apolloes, and makes stale the morning.
1065Why keepe we her? the Grecians keepe our Aunt:
Is she worth keeping? Why she is a Pearle,
Whose price hath launch'd aboue a thousand Ships,
And turn'd Crown'd Kings to Merchants.
If you'l auouch, 'twas wisedome Paris went,
1070(As you must needs, for you all cride, Go, go:)
If you'l confesse, he brought home Noble prize,
(As you must needs) for you all clapt your hands,
And cride inestimable; why do you now
The issue of your proper Wisedomes rate,
1075And do a deed that Fortune neuer did?
Begger the estimation which you priz'd,
Richer then Sea and Land? O Theft most base!
That we haue stolne what we do feare to keepe.
But Theeues vnworthy of a thing so stolne,
1080That in their Country did them that disgrace,
We feare to warrant in our Natiue place.
Enter Cassandra with her haire about
her eares.
Cas. Cry Troyans, cry.
1085Priam. What noyse? what shreeke is this?
Troy. 'Tis our mad sister, I do know her voyce.
Cas. Cry Troyans.
Hect. It is Cassandra.
Cas. Cry Troyans cry; lend me ten thousand eyes,
1090And I will fill them with Propheticke teares.
Hect. Peace sister, peace.
Cas. Virgins, and Boyes; mid-age & wrinkled old,
Soft infancie, that nothing can but cry,
Adde to my clamour: let vs pay betimes
1095A moity of that masse of moane to come.
Cry Troyans cry, practise your eyes with teares,
Troy must not be, nor goodly Illion stand,
Our fire-brand Brother Paris burnes vs all.
Cry Troyans cry, a Helen and a woe;
1100Cry, cry, Troy burnes, or else let Helen goe.
Exit.
Hect. Now youthfull Troylus, do not these hie strains
Of diuination in our Sister, worke
Some touches of remorse? Or is your bloud
So madly hot, that no discourse of reason,
1105Nor feare of bad successe in a bad cause,
Can qualifie the same?
Troy. Why Brother Hector,
We may not thinke the iustnesse of each acte
Such, and no other then euent doth forme it,
1110Nor once deiect the courage of our mindes;
Because Cassandra's mad, her brainsicke raptures
Cannot distaste the goodnesse of a quarrell,
Which hath our seuerall Honours all engag'd
To make it gracious. For my priuate part,
1115I am no more touch'd, then all Priams sonnes,
And Ioue forbid there should be done among'st vs
Such things as might offend the weakest spleene,
To fight for, and maintaine.
Par. Else might the world conuince of leuitie,
1120As well my vnder-takings as your counsels:
But I attest the gods, your full consent
Gaue wings to my propension, and cut off
All feares attending on so dire a proiect.
For what (alas) can these my single armes?
1125What propugnation is in one mans valour
To stand the push and enmity of those
This quarrell would excite? Yet I protest,
Were I alone to passe the difficulties,
And had as ample power, as I haue will,
1130Paris should ne're retract what he hath done,
Nor faint in the pursuite.
Pri. Paris, you speake
Like one be-sotted on your sweet delights;
You haue the Hony still, but these the Gall,
1135So to be valiant, is no praise at all.
Par. Sir, I propose not meerely to my selfe,
The pleasures such a beauty brings with it:
But I would haue the soyle of her faire Rape
Wip'd off in honourable keeping her.
1140What Treason were it to the ransack'd Queene,
Disgrace to your great worths, and shame to me,
Now to deliuer her possession vp
On termes of base compulsion? Can it be,
That so degenerate a straine as this,
1145Should once set footing in your generous bosomes?
There's not the meanest spirit on our partie,
Without a heart to dare, or sword to draw,
When Helen is defended: nor none so Noble,
Whose life were ill bestow'd, or death vnfam'd,
1150Where Helen is the subiect. Then (I say)
Well may we fight for her, whom we know well,
The worlds large spaces cannot paralell.
Hect. Paris and Troylus, you haue both said well:
And on the cause and question now in hand,
1155Haue gloz'd, but superficially; not much
Vnlike young men, whom Aristotle thought
Vnfit to heare Morall Philosophie.
The Reasons you alledge, do more conduce
To the hot passion of distemp'red blood,
1160Then to make vp a free determination
'Twixt right and wrong: For pleasure, and reuenge,
Haue eares more deafe then Adders, to the voyce
Of any true decision. Nature craues
All dues be rendred to their Owners: now
1165What neerer debt in all humanity,
Then Wife is to the Husband? If this law
Of Nature be corrupted through affection,
And that great mindes of partiall indulgence,
To their benummed wills resist the same,
1170There is a Law in each well-ordred Nation,
To curbe those raging appetites that are
Most disobedient and refracturie.
If Helen then be wife to Sparta's King
(As it is knowne she is) these Morall Lawes
1175Of Nature, and of Nation, speake alowd
To haue her backe return'd. Thus to persist
In doing wrong, extenuates not wrong,
But makes it much more heauie. Hectors opinion
Is this in way of truth: yet nere the lesse,
1180My spritely brethren, I propend to you
In resolution to keepe Helen still;
For 'tis a cause that hath no meane dependance,
Vpon our ioynt and seuerall dignities.
Tro. Why? there you toucht the life of our designe:
1185Were it not glory that we more affected,
Then the performance of our heauing spleenes,
I would not wish a drop of Troian blood,
Spent more in her defence. But worthy Hector,
She is a theame of honour and renowne,
1190A spurre to valiant and magnanimous deeds,
Whose present courage may beate downe our foes,
And fame in time to come canonize vs.
For I presume braue Hector would not loose
So rich aduantage of a promis'd glory,
1195As smiles vpon the fore-head of this action,
For the wide worlds reuenew.
Hect. I am yours,
You valiant off-spring of great Priamus,
I haue a roisting challenge sent among'st
1200The dull and factious nobles of the Greekes,
Will strike amazement to their drowsie spirits,
I was aduertiz'd, their Great generall slept,
Whil'st emulation in the armie crept:
This I presume will wake him.
Exeunt.