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The unity and married calm of states
Lies mocking our designs: with him, Patroclus, Quite from their fixture ! O, when degree is Upon a lazy bed, the live-long day shaked,
Breaks scurril jests ; Which is the ladder of all high designs,
And with ridiculous and awkward action The enterprise is sick! How could communities, | (Which, slanderer ! he imitation calls) Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities, He pageants us. Sometime, great Agamemnon, Peaceful commerce from dividable shores, Thy topless deputation he puts on ; The primogenitive and due of birth,
And like a strutting player, — whose conceit Prerogative of age, crowns, sceptres, laurels, Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich But by degree, stand in authentic place ? To hear the wooden dialogue and sound Take but degree away, untune that string, ’T wixt his stretched footing and the scaffoldage, — And hark, what discord follows! each thing meets Such to-be-pitied and o'er-wrested seeming In mere oppugnancy :- The bounded waters He acts thy greatness in : and when he speaks, Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores, 'Tis like a chime a-mending; with terms unAnd make a sop of all this solid globe :
squared, Strength should be lord of imbecility,
Which, from the tongue of roaring * Typhon And the rude son should strike his father dead :
dropped, Force should be right; or rather, right and wrong Would seem hyperboles. At this fusty stuff, (Between whose endless jar justice resides) The large Achilles, on his pressed bed lolling, Should lose their names, and so should justice too. From his deep chest laughs out a loud applause ; Then everything includes itself in power, Cries, “ Excellent ! 't is Agamemnon just. Power into will, will into appetite;
Now play me Nestor; hem, and stroke thy beard, And appetite, an universal wolf,
As he, being 'ddressed to some oration." So doubly seconded with will and power,
That's done — as near as the extremest ends Must make perforce an universal prey,
Of parallels; as like as Vulcan and his wife; And last, eat up himself. Great Agamemnon, Yet good Achilles still cries, “ Excellent ! This chaos, when degree is suffocate,
'Tis Nestor right! Now play him me, Patroclus, Follows the choking.
Arming to answer in a night alarm.” And this neglection of degree it is
And then, forsooth, the faint defects of age That by a pace goes backward, with a purpose Must be the scene of mirth; to cough, and spit, It hath to climb. The general's disdained And with a palsy-fumbling on his gorget, By him one step below; he, by the next; Shake in and out the rivet: and at this sport That next, by him beneath : so every step, Sir Valor dies; cries, “O, enough Patroclus; Exampled by the first pace that is sick
Or give me ribs of steel! I shall split all Of his superior, grows to an envious fever In pleasure of my spleen.” And in this fashion, Of pale and bloodless emulation :
All our abilities, gifts, natures, shapes, And 't is this fever that keeps Troy on foot, Severals and generals, all grace extract, Not her own sinews. To end a tale of length, Achievements, plots, orders, preventions, Troy in our weakness stands, not in her strength. Excitements to the field, or speech for truce,
Nes. Most wisely hath Ulysses here discovered Success, or loss, what is, or is not, serves The fever whereof all our power is sick.
As stuff for these two to make paradoxes. Agam. The nature of the sickness found, Ulys- Nes. And in the imitation of these twain ses,
(Whom, as Ulysses says, opinion crowns What is the remedy ?
With an imperial voice) many are infect. Ulys. The great Achilles, whom opinion crowns Ajax is grown self-willed; and bears his head The sinew and the forehand of our host,
In such a reign, in full as proud a place Having his ear full of his airy fame,
As broad Achilles ; keeps his tent like him; Grows dainty of his worth, and in his tent Makes factious feasts; rails on our state of war,
Bold as an oracle : and sets Thersites
Æne. Courtiers as free, as debonair, unarmed, (A slave whose gall coins slanders like a mint) As bending angels; that's their fame in peace : To match us in comparisons with dirt;
But when they would seem soldiers, they have To weaken and discredit our exposure,
galls, How rank soever rounded in with danger. Good arms, strong joints, true swords; and Jove's Ulys. They tax our policy, and call it cow
Nothing so full of heart. But peace, Æneas, Count wisdom as no member of the war;
Peace, Trojan ; lay thy finger on thy lips ! Forestal prescience, and esteem no act
The worthiness of praise distains his worth, But that of hand : the still and mental parts, If that the praised himself bring the praise forth: That do contrive how many hands shall strike, But what the repining enemy commends, When fitness calls them on; and know, by measure That breath fame follows; that praise, sole pure, Of their observant toil, the enemies' weight, —
transcends. Why, this hath not a finger's dignity:
Agam. Sir, you of Troy, call you yourself They call this — bed-work, mappery, closet-war ;
Æneas ? So that the ram that batters down the wall, Æne. Ay, Greek, that is my name. For the great swing and rudeness of his poise, Agam. What's your affair, I pray you ? They place before his hand that made the engine; Æne. Sir, pardon ; 'tis for Agamemnon's ears. Or those that, with the fineness of their souls, Agam. He hears naught privately, that comes By reason guide his execution.
And then to speak.
Agam. Speak frankly as the wind;
It is not Agamemnon's sleeping hour :
That thou shalt know, Trojan, he is awake,
Æne. Trumpet, blow loud,
Send thy brass voice through all these lazy tents :Do a fair message to his kingly ears?
And every Greek of mettle let him know, Agam. With surety stronger than Achilles' arm What Troy means fairly, shall be spoke aloud. 'Fore all the Greekish heads, which with one voice
[Trumpet sounds. Call Agamemnon head and general.
We have, great Agamemnon, here in Troy Æne. Fair leave, and large security. How may
A prince called Hector (Priam is his father), A stranger to those most imperial looks
Who in this dull and long-continued truce Know them from eyes of other mortals ?
Is rusty grown; he bade me take a trumpet, Agam. How?
And to this purpose speak;-Kings, princes, lords ! Æne. Ay: I ask, that I might waken reve
If there be one, among the fair'st of Greece, rence,
That holds his honor higher than his ease; And bid the cheek be ready with a blush,
That seeks his praise more than he fears his peril; Modest as morning when she coldly eyes
That knows his valor, and knows not his fear; The youthful Phoebus :
That loves his mistress more than in confession Which is that god in office, guiding men ? (With truant vows to her own lips he loves), Which is the high and mighty Agamemnon ? And dare avow her beauty and her worth, Agam. This Trojan scorns us; or the men of In other arms than hers,—to him this challenge :Troy
Hector, in view of Trojans and of Greeks, Are ceremonious courtiers.
Shall make it good, or do his best to do it,
He hath a lady, wiser, fairer, truer,
In rank Achilles, must or now be cropp’d,
Ulys. This challenge that the gallant Hector If any come, Hector shall honor him;
Nest. The purpose is perspicuous even as subAgam. This shall be told our lovers, lord
stance, . Æneas;
Whose grossness little characters sum up: If none of them have soul in such a kind, And, in the publication, make no strain We left them all at home; but we are soldiers; But that Achilles, were his brain as barren And may that soldier a mere recreant prove, As banks of Lybia, — though Apollo knows, That means not, hath not, or is not in love ! ’T is dry enough, — will, with great speed of judgIf then one is, or hath, or means to be,
ment, That one meets Hector: if none else, I am he. Ay, with celerity, find Hector's purpose
Nes. Tell him of Nestor, one that was a man Pointing on him. When Hector's grandsire sucked: he is old now; | Ulys. And wake him to the answer, think But, if there be not in our Grecian host
you? One noble man, that hath one spark of fire
Nest. Yes, 't is most meet: whom may you else To answer for his love, tell him from me,
oppose, I'll hide my silver beard in a gold beaver, That can from Hector bring those honors off, And in my vantbrace put this withered brawn; If not Achilles ? Though 't be a sportful combat, And, meeting him, will tell him that my lady Yet in the trial much opinion dwells; Was fairer than his grandame, and as chaste For here the Trojans taste our dear’st repute As may be in the world. His youth in flood, With their fin’st palate: and trust to me, Ulysses, I'll prove this truth with my three drops of Our imputation shall be oddly poised blood.
In this wild action : for the success, Æne. Now heavens forbid such scarcity of | Although particular, shall give a scantling youth!
Of good or bad unto the general; Ulys. Amen.
And in such indexes, although small pricks Agam. Fair lord Æneas, let me touch your To their subsequent volumes, there is seen hand;
The baby figure of the giant mass To our pavilion shall I lead you, sir.
Of things to come at large. It is supposed, Achilles shall have word of this intent;
He that meets Hector issues from our choice, So shall each lord of Greece, from tent to tent: And choice, being mutual act of all our souls, Yourself shall feast with us before you go, Makes merit her election; and doth boil, And find the welcome of a noble foe.
As 't were from forth us all, a man distilled [Exeunt all but ULYSSES and NESTOR. Out of our virtues; who miscarrying, Ulys. Nestor,
What heart receives from hence a conquering part, Nes. What says Ulysses ?
To steel a strong opinion to themselves ? Ulys. I have a young conception in my brain, | Which entertained, limbs are his instruments, Be you my time to bring it to some shape. In no less working than are swords and bows Nes. What is't?
Directive by the limbs. Ulys. This 't is :
Ulys. Give pardon to my speech :Blunt wedges rive hard knots: the seeded pride, Therefore 't is meet, Achilles ineet not Hector. That hath to this maturity blown up
Let us, like merchants, show our foulest wares,
And think, perchance, they'll sell; if not, The sort to fight with Hector: among ourselves, The lustre of the better shall exceed,
Give him allowance for the better man, By shewing the worse first. Do not consent | For that will physic the great Myrmidon, That ever Hector and Achilles meet;
Who broils in loud applause; and make him fall For both our honor and our shame, in this, His crest, that prouder than blue Iris bends. Are dogged with two strange followers.
If the dull, brainless Ajax come safe off,
Yet go we under our opinion still,
Our project's life this shape of sense assumes, Were he not proud, we all should share with him: Ajax, employed, plucks down Achilles' plumes. But he already is too insolent;
Nes. Ulysses, And we were better parch in Afric sun,
Now I begin to relish thy advice; Than in the pride and salt scorn of his eyes, And I will give a taste of it forthwith Should he 'scape Hector fair : if he were foiled, To Agamemnon : go we to him straight. Why, then we did our main opinion crush Two curs shall tame each other : pride alone In taint of our best man. No, make a lottery; Must tarre the mastiffs on, as 't were their bone. And, by device, let blockish Ajax draw
SCENE I. - Another part of the Grecian Camp. / Ajax. Toadstool ! learn me the proclamation.
Ther. Dost thou think I have no sense, thou Enter AJAX and THERSITES.
strikest me thus ? Ajax. Thersites, –
Ajax. The proclamation, Ther. Agamemnon — how if he had boils ? full, Ther. Thou art proclaimed a fool, I think. all over, generally ?
Ajax. Do not, porcupine ! do not; my fingers Ajax. Thersites, —
itch. Ther. And those boils did run? Say so,—did Ther. I would thou didst itch from head to not the general run then? were not that a botchy foot, and I had the scratching of thee; I would core?
make thee the loathsomest scab in Greece. When Ajax. Dog!
thou art forth in the incursions, thou strikest as Ther. Then would come some matter from slow as another. him; I see none now.
Ajax. I say, the proclamation, Ajax. Thou bitch-wolf's son! canst thou not Ther. Thou grumblest and railest every hour hear? Feel, then.
[Strikes him. on Achilles ; and thou art as full of envy at his Ther. The plague of Greece upon thee, thou greatness, as Cerberus is at Proserpina's beauty; mongrel beef-witted lord !
ay, that thou bark'st at him. Ajax. Speak, then, thou unsalted leaven! Ajax. Mistress Thersites! speak : I'll beat thee into handsomeness.
Ther. Thou shouldst strike him. Ther. I shall sooner rail thee into wit and Ajax. Cob-loaf ! holiness : but I think thy horse will sooner con Ther. He would pun thee into shivers with an oration, than thou learn a prayer without book. his fist, as a sailor breaks a biscuit. Thou canst strike, canst thou ? a red murrain o' Ajax. You whoreson cur! [Beating him. thy jade's tricks!
Ther. Do, do.
Ajax. Thou stool for a witch!
Achil. Peace, fool! Ther. Ay, do, do; thou sodden-witted lord ! ! Ther. I would have peace and quietness, but thou hast no more brain than I have in mine the fool will not: he there; that he; look you there. elbows; an assinego may tutor thee. Thou scur Ajax. O thou damned cur! I shall — vy-valiant ass! thou art here put to thrash Tro Achil. Will you set your wit to a fool's ? jans; and thou art bought and sold among those Ther. No, I warrant you; for a fool's will of any wit, like a Barbarian slave. If thou
shame it. use to beat me, I will begin at thy heel, and Patr. Good words, Thersites. tell what thou art by inches, thou thing of no Achil. What's the quarrel ? bowels, thou!
Ajax. I bade the vile owl go learn me the tenor Ajax. You dog!
of the proclamation, and he rails upon me. Ther. You scurvy lord !
Ther. I serve thee not. Ajax. You cur !
Ajax. Well, go to, go to. Ther. Mars his idiot! Do, rudeness ! do, camel ! Ther. I serve here voluntary. do, do.
Achil. Your last service was sufferance, 't was
not voluntary; no man is beaten voluntary : Ajax Enter ACHILLES and PATROCLUS.
was here the voluntary, and you as under an imAchil. Why, how now, Ajax, wherefore do you press. thus ?
Ther. Even so ? — a great deal of your wit too How now, Thersites? what's the matter, man? lies in your sinews, or else there be liars. Hector Ther. You see him there, do you?
shall have a great catch, if he knock out either Achil Ay; what's the matter?
of your brains; 'a were as good crack a fusty nut Ther. Nay, look upon him.
with no kernel. Achil. So I do; what's the matter?
Achil. What, with me too, Thersites? Ther. Nay, but regard him well.
Ther. There's Ulysses and old Nestor — whose Achil. Well, why I do so.
wit was mouldy ere your grandsires had nails on Ther. But yet you look not well upon him : their toes — yoke you like draught oxen, and for, whosoever you take him to be, he is Ajax. make you plough up the wars. Achil. I know that, fool.
Achil. What, what? Ther. Ay, but that fool knows not himself. Ther. Yes, good sooth : - to, Achilles ! to, Ajax. Therefore I beat thee.
Ajax! to!. Ther. Lo, lo, lo, lo, what modicums of wit he | Ajax. I shall cut out your tongue. utters! His evasions have cars thus long. I have Ther. 'Tis no matter; I shall speak as much bobbed his brain more than he has beat my bones : as thou, afterwards. I will buy nine sparrows for a penny, and his | Patr. No more words, Thersites; peace. pia mater is not worth the ninth part of a sparrow. Ther. I will hold my peace when Achilles' This lord, Achilles, Ajax, — who wears his wit in brach bids me, shall I ? his belly, and his guts in his heal, — I'll tell you Achil. There 's for you, Patroclus. what I say of him.
Ther. I will see you hanged, like clotpoles, Achil. What?
ere I come any more to your tents; I will keep Ther. I say, this Ajax, —
where there is wit stirring, and leave the faction Achil. Nay, good Ajax.
[Exit. [AJAX offers to strike him. Patr. A good riddance.
ACHILLES interposes. Achil. Marry, this, sir, is proclaimed through Ther. Has not so much wit
all our host; Achil. Nay, I must hold you.
That Hector, by the first hour of the sun, Ther. A: will stop the eye of Helen's needle, Will, with a trumpet, 'twixt our tents and Troy, for whom he comes to fight;
| To-morrow morning call some knight to arms,