Internet Shakespeare Editions

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

Troilus and Cressida (Quarto 1, 1609)


Enter Priam, Hector, Troylus, Paris and Helenus.
985Priam. After so many houres, liues, speeches spent,
Thus once againe saies Nestor from the Greckes:
Deliuer Hellen, (and all domage els,
As honour, losse of time, trauell, expence,
Wounds, friends and what els deere that is consum'd:
990In hot digestion of this cormorant warre)
Shalbe stroke off, Hector what say you to't?
Hect: Though no man lesser feares the Greekes then I
As farre as toucheth my particular: yet dread Priam
There is no Lady of more softer bowells,
995More spungy to suck in the sence of feare:
More ready to cry out, who knowes what followes
Then Hector is: the wound of peace is surely
Surely secure, but modest doubt is calld
The beacon of the wise, the tent that serches,
1000Too'th bottome of the worst let Hellen go,
Since the first sword was drawne about this question
Euery tith soule 'mongst many thousand dismes,
Hath beene as deere as Hellen. I meane of ours:
If we haue loste so many tenthes of ours,
1005To guard a thing not ours, nor worth to vs,
(Had it our name) the valew of one ten,
What merits in that reason which denies,
The yeelding of her vp?
Troy. Fie, fie, my brother,
1010Way you the worth and honour of a King:
So great as our dread fathers in a scale
Of common ounces? will you with Compters summe,
The past proportion of his infinite
And buckle in, a waste most fathomles,
1015With spanes and inches so dyminutue:
As feares and reasons: Fie for Godly shame?
Hele. No maruell though you bite so sharpe of reasons,
You are so empty of them should not our father;
Beare the great sway of his affaires with reason,
1020Because your speech hath none that tell him so?
Troy. You are for dreames and slumbers brother Priest,
You furre your gloues with reason, here are your reasons
You know an enemy intends you harme:
You know a sword imployde is perilous
1025And reason flies the obiect of all harme.
Who maruells then when Helenus beholds,
A Gretian and his sword, if he do set
The very wings of reason to his heeles,
1030And flie like chidden Mercury from Ioue
Or like a starre disorbd? nay if we talke of reason,
Sets shut our gates and sleepe: man-hood and honour,
Should haue hare hearts, would they but fat their thoughts
With this cram'd reason, reason and respect,
Make lyuers pale, and lustihood deiect.
1035Hect. Brother, shee is not worth, what shee doth cost the
keeping.
Troy. Whats aught but as tis valued.
Hect. But valew dwells not in perticuler will,
It holds his estimate and dignity,
1040As well wherein tis precious of it selfe
As in the prizer, tis madde Idolatry
To make the seruice greater then the God,
And the will dotes that is attributiue;
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 pilots twixt the dangerous shore,
1050Of will and Iudgement: how may I auoyde?
(Although my will distast what it elected)
The wife I choose, there can be no euasion,
To blench from this and to stand firme by honor,
We turne not backe the silkes vpon the marchant
1055When we haue soild them, nor the remainder viands,
We do not throw in vnrespectue siue,
Because we now are full, it was thought meete
Pa is should do some vengeance on the Greekes.
Your breth with full consent bellied his sailes,
1060The seas and winds (old wranglers) tooke a ttuce:
And did him seruice, hee toucht the ports desir'd,
And for an old aunt whom the Greekes held Captiue,
He brought a Grecian Queene, whose youth and freshnesse,
Wrincles Apolloes, and makes pale the morning.
1065Why keepe we her? the Grecians keepe our Aunt,
Is she worth keeping? why shee is a pearle,
Whose price hath lansh't aboue a thousand ships:
And turn'd crown'd Kings to Marchants,
If youle auouch twas wisdome Paris went,
1070As you must needs, for you all cri'd go, go,
If youle confesse be brought home worthy prize:
As you must needs, for you all, clapt your hands,
And cry'd inestimable: why do you now
The yssue of your proper wisdomes rate,
1075And do a deed that neuer fortune did,
Begger the estimation, which you priz'd
Ritcher then sea and land? O theft most base,
That wee 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 rauing.
Cass. Cry Troyans cry:
1085Priam. What noise? what shrike is this?
Troy. Tis our madde sister I do know her voice,
Cass. Cry Troyans. Hect.It is Crssandra!
Cass. Cry Troyans cry, lend me ten thousand eyes,
1090And I will fill them with prophetick teares.
Hect. Peace sister peace.
Cass. Virgins, and boyes, mid-age, and wrinckled elders,
Soft infancie, that nothing canst but crie,
Adde to my clamours: let vs pay be-times
1095A moytie of that masse of mone to come:
Crie Troyans crye, practise your eyes with teares,
Troy must not bee, nor goodly I lion stand.
Our fire-brand brother Paris burnes vs all,
Crie Troyans crie, a Helen and a woe,
1100Crie, crie, Troy burnes, or else let Hellen goe.
Exit.
Hect. Now youthfull Troylus, do not these high straines
Of diuination in our Sister, worke
Some touches of remorse? or is your bloud
So madly hott, 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 act
Such, and no other then euent doth forme it,
1110Nor once deiect the courage of our mindes,
Because Cassandra's madde, her brain-sick raptures
Cannot distast the goodnesse of a quarrell,
Which hath our seuerall honors all engag'd,
To make it gratious. For my priuate part,
1115I am no more toucht then all Priams sonnes:
And Ioue forbid there should be done amongst 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 counsells,
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 enmitie 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 nere retract, what he hath done,
Nor faint in the pursuite,
Pria. 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 meerly to my selfe,
The pleasures such a beautie brings with it,
But I would haue the soile of her faire rape,
Wip't of in honorable keeping her,
1140What treason were it to the ransackt queene,
Disgrace to your great worths, and shame to me,
Now to deliuer her possession vp
On tearmes 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 party,
Without a heart to dare, or sword to drawe,
When Helen is defended: nor none so noble,
Whose life were ill bestowd, 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 glozd, but superficially, not much
Vnlike young men, whom Aristotle thought
Vnfit to heere Morrall Philosophie;
The reasons you alleadge, do more conduce
To the hot passion of distempred 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 humanitie,
Then wife is to the husband? if this lawe
Of nature be corrupted through affection
And that great mindes of partiall indulgence,
To their benummed wills resist the same,
1170There is a lawe in each well-orderd 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 morrall lawes
1175Of nature and of nations, speake alowd
To haue her back returnd: 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 Troyan bloud,
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 promisd glory,
1195As smiles vpon the fore-head of this action,
For the wide worlds reuenew.
Hect. I am yours,
You valiant offspring of great Priamus,
I haue a roisting challenge sent amongst
1200The dull and factious nobles of the Greekes,
VVill shrike amazement to their drowsie spirits,
I was aduertizd, their great generall slept,
VVhilst emulation in the armie crept:
This I presume will wake him.
Exeunt.