Internet Shakespeare Editions

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

Troilus and Cressida (Quarto 1, 1609)


Enter Agamemnon. Nestor, Vlisses, Diomedes,
455
Menelaus with others.
Aga. Princes: what griefe hath set these Iaundies ore your
The ample proposition that hope makes,
In all designes begun on earth below,
460Failes in the promist largenesse, checks and disasters,
Grow in the vaines of actions highest reard.
As knots by the conflux of meeting sap,
Infects the sound Pine, and diuerts his graine,
Tortiue and errant from his course of growth.
465Nor Princes is it matter new to vs,
That we come short of our suppose so farre,
That after seauen yeares siege, yet Troy walls stand,
Sith euer 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 gau't surmised shape: why then you Princes,
Do you with cheekes abasht behold our workes,
And call them shames which are indeed naught else,
475But the protractiue tryals of great Ioue,
To finde persistiue constancie in men.
The finenesse of which mettall is not found,
In fortunes loue: for then the bould and coward,
The wise and foole, the Artist and vnread,
480The hard and soft seeme all affyn'd and kin,
But in the winde and tempest of her frowne,
Distinction with a broad and powerfull fan,
Puffing at all, winnowss the light away,
And what hath masse or matter by it selfe,
485Lyes rich in vertue and vnmingled.
Nestor. With due obseruance of the godlike seate,
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 ancient brest, making their way
With those of nobler bulke?
But let the ruffian Boreas once enrage
495The gentle Thetis, and anon, behold
The strong ribbd barke through liquid mountaines cut,
Bounding betweene the two moyst elements,
Like Perseus horse. Where's then the sawcie boate,
Whose weake vntymberd sides but euen now
500Corriuald greatnesse? either to harbor fled,
Or made a toste for Neptune: euen so
Doth valours shew, and valours worth deuide
In stormes of fortune; for in her ray and brightnesse
505The heard hath more annoyance by the Bryze
Then by the Tyger, but when the splitting winde,
Makes flexible the knees of knotted Okes,
And Flies fled vnder shade, why then the thing of courage,
510As rouzd with rage, with rage doth simpathize,
And with an accent tun'd in selfe same key,
Retires to chiding fortune.
Uliss. Agamemnon,
Thou great Commander, nerues and bone of Greece,
515Heart of our numbers, soule and onely spright,
In whom the tempers and the minds of all
Should be shut vp: heere what Vlisses speakes,
Besides th'applause and approbation,
The which most mighty (for thy place and sway
520And thou most reuerend) for the 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 (hatcht in siluer)
525Should with a bond of ayre strong as the Axel-tree,
(On which heauen rides) knit all the Greekish eares
To his experienc't tongue, yet let it please both
Thou great and wise, to heare Vlisses speake.
Troy yet vpon his bases had beene downe,
535And the great Hectors sword had lackt a master
But for these instances.
The specialtie 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 honey is expccted? Degree being visarded
Th'vnworthiest shewes as fairly in the maske.
The heauens them-selues, the plannets and this center
545Obserue degree, prioritie and place,
In sisture, 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 spherd,
550Amidst the other; whose medcinable eye,
Corrects the influence of euill Planets,
And posts like the Commandment of a King,
Sans check to good and bad. But when the Planets,
In euill mixture to disorder wander,
555What plagues, and what portents, what mutinie?
What raging of the sea, shaking of earth?
Commotion in the winds, frights, changes, horrors
Diuert and crack, rend and deracinate,
The vnitie and married calme of states
560Quite from their fixure: O when degree is shakt,
Which is the ladder of all high designes,
The enterprise is sick. How could communities,
Degrees in schooles, and brother-hoods in Citties,
Peacefull commerce from deuidable shores,
565The primogenitie and due of birth,
Prerogatiue of age, crownes, scepters, lawrels,
But by degree stand in authentique place:
Take but degree away, vntune that string,
And harke what discord followes, each thing melts
570In meere oppugnancie: the bounded waters
Should lift their bosomes higher then the shores,
And make a sop of all this solid globe:
Strength should be Lord of imbecilitie,
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 their names, and so should Iustice to?
Then euery thing include it selfe in power,
Power into will, will into appetite,
580And appetite an vniuersall Woolfe,
(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 it is,
That by a pace goes backward with a purpose
It hath to clime. The generalls disdaind,
590By him one step below, he by the next,
That next by him beneath, so euery step,
Exampl'd by the first pace that is sick
Of his superior, growes to an enuious feauer
Of pale and bloudlesse emulation,
595And 'tis this feauer that keepes Troy on foote,
Not her owne sinnews. To end a tale of length,
Troy in our weaknesse stands not in her strength.
Nestor. Most wisely hath Vlisses here discouerd,
The feuer whereof all our power is sick.
600Agamem. The nature of the sicknesse found, Vlisses
What is the remedie?
Ulisses. The great Achilles whom opinion crownes,
The sinnow and the fore-hand of our hoste,
Hauing his eare full of his ayrie fame,
605Growes dainty of his worth, and in his Tent
Lies mocking our designes: with him Patroclus
Vpon a lazie bed the liue-long day,
Breakes scurrell iests,
And with ridiculous and sillie action,
610Which (slanderer) he Imitation calls,
He pageants vs. Some-time great Agamemnon,
Thy toplesse deputation he puts on,
And like a strutting Player, whose conceit
Lyes in his ham-string, and doth thinke it rich
615To heere the woodden dialogue and sound,
Twixt his stretcht footing and the scoaffollage,
Such to be pitied and ore-rested seeming,
He acts thy greatnesse in. And when he speakes,
Tis like a chime a mending, with termes vnsquare,
620Which from the tongue of roaring Tiphon dropt,
Would seeme hiperboles, at this fustie stuffe,
The large Achilles on his prest bed lolling,
From his deepe chest laughes out a lowd applause,
Cries excellent; 'tis Agamemnon right,
625Now play me Nestor, hem and stroake thy beard,
As he being drest to some Oration,
That's done, as neere as the extremest ends
Of paralells, as like as Uulcan and his wife:
Yet god Achilles still cries excellent,
630Tis 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 scæne of myrth, to coffe and spit,
And with a palsie fumbling on his gorget,
635Shake in and out the riuet, and at this sport
Sir valour dyes, cryes O enough Patroclus,
Or giue me ribbs of steele, I shall split all
In pleasure of my spleene, and in this fashion,
All our abilities, guifts, natures shapes,
640Seueralls and generalls of grace exact,
Atchiuements, 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.
645Nestor. And in the imitation of these twaine,
Who as Vlisses sayes opinion crownes,
With an imperiall voyce: many are infect,
Aiax is growne selfe-wild, and beares his head
In such a reyne, in full as proud a place
650As broad Achilles: keepes his Tent like him,
Makes factious feasts, railes on our state of warre,
Bould as an Oracle, and sets Thersites
A slaue, whose gall coynes slanders like a mint,
To match vs in comparisons with durt,
655To weaken our discredit, our exposure
How ranke so euer rounded in with danger.
Vlisses. They taxe our pollicie, and call it cowardice,
Count wisdome as no member of the warre,
Forstall prescience, and esteeme no act
660But that of hand, the still and mentall parts,
That do contriue how many hands shall strike,
When fitnesse calls them on, and know by measure
Of their obseruant toyle the enemies waight,
Why this hath not a fingers dignitie,
665They call this bed-worke, mappry, Closet warre,
So that the Ram that batters downe the wall,
For the great swinge and rudenesse of his poise,
They place before his hand that made the engine,
Or those that with the fincsse of their soules,
670By reason guide his execution.
Nest. Let this be granted, and Achilles horse
Makes many Thetis sonnes,
Agam. What trumpet? looke Menelaus.
Mene. From Troy.
675Agam. What would you fore our tent.
Æne. Is this great Agamemnons tent I pray you?
Agam. Euen this.
Æne. May one that is a Herrald and a Prince,
Do a faire message to his Kingly eyes?
680Agam. With surety stronger then Achilles arme,
Fore all the Greekish heads, which with one voice,
Call Agamemnon head and generall.
Æne. Faire leaue and large security, how may
A stranger to those most imperiall lookes,
685Know them from eyes of other mortals?
Agam. How?
Æne. I, I aske that I might waken reuerence,
And bid the cheeke be ready with a blush,
Modest as morning, when shee coldly eyes the youthfull
Which is that god, in office guiding men,
Which is the high and mighty Agamemnon.
Agam. This Troyan scornes vs, or the men of Troy,
Are ceremonious Courtiers.
695Æne, Courtiers as free as debonaire, vnarm'd
As bending Angels, thats their fame in peace:
But when they would seeme soldiers, they haue galls,
Good armes, strong ioints, true swords, & great 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 the praisd him-selfe bring the praise forth.
But what the repining enemy commends,
That breath fame blowes, that praise sole pure transcends.
705Agam. Sir you of Troy, call you your selfe Æneas?
Æne. I Greeke, that is my name.
Agam. Whats your affaires I pray you?
Æne. Sir pardon, 'tis for Agamemnons eares.
Aga. He heeres naught priuately that comes from Troy.
Æne. Nor I from Troy come not to whisper with him,
I bring a trumpet to awake his eare,
To set his seat on that attentiue bent,
And then to speake.
715Agam. Speake frankly as the winde,
It is not Agamemnons sleeping houre;
That thou shalt know Troyan he is awake,
Hee tels thee so himselfe.
Æne. Trumpet blowe alowd,
720Send thy brasse voyce through all these lazie tents,
And euery Greeke of mettell let him know,
What Troy meanes fairely, shall be spoke alowd. Sound
We haue great Agamemnon heere in Troy,
725A Prince calld Hector, Priam is his father,
Who in his dull and long continued truce,
Is restie growne: He bad me take a Trumpet,
And to this purpose speake. Kings, Princes, Lords,
If there be one among the fair'st of Greece,
730That holds his honour higher then his ease,
And feeds his praise, more then he feares his perill,
That knowes his valour, and knowes not his feare,
That loues his Mistresse more then in confession,
(With truant vowes to her owne lips he loues)
735And dare avowe her beautie, 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 couple in his armes,
And will tomorrow with his Trumpet call,
Mid-way betweene your tents and walls of Troy,
To rouze a Grecian that is true in loue:
If any come, Hector shall honor him:
745If none, heele say in Troy when he retires,
The Grecian dames are sun-burnt, and not worth
The splinter of a Launce. Euen so much.
Agam. 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 prooue,
That meanes not, hath not, or is not in loue:
If then one is, or hath a meanes to be,
That one meetes Hector: if none else I am he.
755Nest. Tell him of Nestor, one that was a man
When Hectors grand-sire suckt. He is old now,
But if there be not in our Grecian hoste,
A noble man that hath no sparke of fire
To answer for his loue, tell him from me,
760Ile hide my siluer beard in a gould beauer,
And in my vambrace put my withered braunes
And meeting him tell him that my Lady,
Was fairer then his grandam, and as chast,
As may bee in the world, (his youth in flood)
765Ile proue this troth with my three drops of bloud,
Æne. Now heauens for-fend such scarcity of men.
Vlis. Amen: faire Lord Æneas let me touch your hand,
770To our pauilion shall I leade you sir;
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.
Vlis. Nestor. Nest. What saies Vlisses?
Vlis. I haue a yong conception in my braine,
Be you my time to bring it to some shape.
780Nest. What ist?
Vlis: 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 breede a noursery of like euill,
To ouer-bulk vs all.
Nest. Well and how?
Vlis: This challeng that the gallant Hector sends,
How euer it is spread in generall name
790Relates in purpose onely to Achilles.
Nest. True the purpose is perspicuous as substance,
Whose grosenesse little characters sum vp:
And in the publication make no straine,
But that Achilles weare his braine, as barren,
795As banks of libia (though Apollo knowes
Tis dry enough) will with great speed of iudgement,
I with celerity finde Hectors purpose, pointing on him.
Vlis. And wake him to the answere thinke you?
800Nest. Why tis most meete; who may you elce oppose,
That can from Hector bring those honours off,
If not Achilles: though't be a sportfull combat,
Yet in the triall much opinion dwells:
For here the Troyans tast our deerst repute,
805With their fin'st pallat, and trust to me Ulisses
Our imputation shalbe odly poizde
In this vilde action, for the successe,
Although perticuler shall giue a scantling
Of good or bad vnto the generall,
810And in such indexes (although small pricks
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 meetes Hector, yssues from our choice,
815And choice (being mutuall act 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 receiues from hence a conquering part,
820To steele a strong opinion to themselues.
Uliss. Giue pardon to my speech? therefore tis meete,
825Achilles meete not Hector, let vs like Marchants
First shew foule wares, and thinke perchance theile sell;
If not; the luster of the better shall exceed,
By shewing the worse first: do not consent,
830That euer Hector and Achilles meet,
For both our honour and our shame in this, are dog'd with
two strange followers.
Nest. I see them not with my old eyes what are they?
Vless. What glory our Achilles shares from Hector
835Were he not proud, we al! should share with him:
But he already is too insolent.
And it were better partch in Afrique Sunne,
Then in the pride and sault scorne of his eyes
Should he scape Hector faire. If he were foild,
840Why then we do our maine opinion crush
In taint of our best man. No, make a lottry
And by deuise let blockish Aiax draw
The sort to fight with Hector, among ourselues,
Giue him allowance for the better man,
845For that will phisick the great Myrmidon,
Who broyles in loud applause, and make him fall,
His crest that prouder then blew Iris bends,
If the dull brainlesse Aiax come safe off
Weele dresse him vp in voices, 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 plucks downe Achilles plumes.
Nest. Now Vlisses I begin to relish thy aduise,
855And I will giue a taste thereof forthwith,
To Agamemnon, go we to him straight
Two curres shall tame each other, pride alone
Must arre the mastiffs on, as twere a bone.
Exeunt.