Charles and Mary Lamb
TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE
AMIDSUMMER NIGHT's DREAM
MUCHADO ABOUT NOTHING
ASYOU LIKE IT
TWOGENTLEMEN OF VERONA
ALL'SWELL THAT ENDS WELL
TAMINGOF THE SHREW
TWELFTHNIGHT; ORWHAT YOU WILL
HAMLETPRINCE OF DENMARK
PERICLESPRINCE OF TYRE
Thefollowing Tales are meant to be submitted to the young readeras anintroduction to the study of Shakespearefor which purposehis wordsare used whenever it seemed possible to bring them in;and inwhatever has been added to give them the regular form of aconnectedstorydiligent care has been taken to select suchwords asmight least interrupt the effect of the beautifulEnglishtongue in which he wrote: thereforewords introducedinto ourlanguage since his time have been as far as possibleavoided.
In thoseTales which have been taken from the Tragediestheyoungreaders will perceivewhen they come to see the sourcefrom whichthese stories are derivedthat Shakespeare's ownwordswith little alterationrecur very frequently in thenarrativeas well as in the dialogue; but in those made from theComediesthe writers found themselves scarcely ever able to turnhis wordsinto the narrative form: therefore it is feared thatin themdialogue has been made use of too frequently for youngpeople notaccustomed to the dramatic form of writing. But thisfaultifit be a faulthas been caused by an earnest wish togive asmuch of Shakespeare's own words as possible: and if the"Hesaid" and "She said" the question and the replyshouldsometimesseem tedious to their young earsthey must pardon itbecause itwas the only way in which could be given to them a fewhints andlittle foretastes of the great pleasure which awaitsthem intheir elder yearswhen they come to the rich treasuresfrom whichthese small and valueless coins are extracted;pretendingto no other merit than as faint and imperfect stampsofShakespeare's matchless image. Faint and imperfect images theymust becalledbecause the beauty of his language is toofrequentlydestroyed by the necessity of changing many of hisexcellentwords into words far less expressive of his true senseto make itread something like prose; and even in some fewplaceswhere his blank verse is given unalteredas hoping fromits simpleplainness to cheat the young readers into the beliefthat theyare reading proseyet still his language beingtransplantedfrom its own natural soil and wild poetic gardenitmust wantmuch of its native beauty.
It hasbeen wished to make these Tales easy reading for veryyoungchildren. To the utmost of their ability the writers haveconstantlykept this in mind; but the subjects of most of themmade thisa very difficult task. It was no easy matter to givethehistories of men and women in terms familiar to theapprehensionof a very young mind. For young ladiestooit hasbeen theintention chiefly to write; because boys being generallypermittedthe use of their fathers' libraries at a much earlierage thangirls arethey frequently have the best scenes ofShakespeareby heartbefore their sisters are permitted to lookinto thismanly book; andthereforeinstead of recommendingtheseTales to the perusalof young gentlemen who can read themso muchbetter in the originalstheir kind assistance is ratherrequestedin explaining to their sisters such parts as arehardestfor them to understand: and when they have helped them toget overthe difficultiesthen perhaps they will read to them(carefullyselecting what is proper for a young sister's ear)somepassage which has pleased them in one of these storiesinthe verywords of the scene from which it is taken; and it ishoped theywill find that the beautiful extractsthe selectpassagesthey may choose to give their sisters in this way willbe muchbetter relished and understood from their having somenotion ofthe general story from one of these imperfectabridgments;--whichif they be fortunately so done as to provedelight toany of the young readersit is hoped that no worseeffectwill result than to make them wish themselves a littleolderthat they may be allowed to read the Plays at full length(such awish will be neither peevish nor irrational). When timeand leaveof judicious friends shall put them into their handsthey willdiscover in such of them as are here abridged (not tomentionalmost as many morewhich are left untouched) manysurprisingevents and turns of fortunewhich for their infinitevarietycould not be contained in this little bookbesides aworld ofsprightly and cheerful charactersboth men and womenthe humorof which it was feared would be lost if it wereattemptedto reduce the length of them.
What theseTales shall have been to the YOUNG readersthat andmuch moreit is the writers' wish that the true Plays ofShakespearemay prove to them in older years--enrichers of thefancystrengtheners of virtuea withdrawing from all selfishandmercenary thoughtsa lesson of all sweet and honorablethoughts dactionsto teach courtesybenignitygenerosityhumanity:for of examplesteaching these virtueshis pages arefull.
There wasa certain island in the seathe only inhabitants ofwhich werean old manwhose name was Prosperoand his daughterMirandaavery beautiful young lady. She came to this island soyoung thatshe had no memory of having seen any other human facethan herfather's.
They livedin a cave or cellmade out of a rock; it was dividedintoseveral apartmentsone of which Prospero called his study;there hekept his bookswhich chiefly treated of magica studyat thattime much affected by all learned men: and the knowledgeof thisart he found very useful to him; for being thrown by astrangechance upon this islandwhich had been enchanted by awitchcalled Sycoraxwho died there a short time before hisarrivalProsperoby virtue of his artreleased many goodspiritsthat Sycorax had imprisoned in the bodies of large treesbecausethey had refused to execute her wicked commands. Thesegentlespirits were ever after obedient to the will of Prospero.Of theseAriel was the chief.
The livelylittle sprite Ariel had nothing mischievous in hisnatureexcept that he took rather too much pleasure intormentingan ugly monster called Calibanfor be owed him agrudgebecause he was the son of his old enemy Sycorax. ThisCalibanProspero found in the woodsa strange misshapen thingfar lesshuman in form than an ape: he took him home to his celland taughthim to speak; and Prospero would have been very kindto himbut the bad nature which Caliban inherited from hismotherSycoraxwould not let him learn anything good or useful:thereforehe was employed like a slaveto fetch wood and do themostlaborious offices; and Ariel had the charge of compellinghim tothese services.
WhenCaliban was lazy and neglected his workAriel (who wasinvisibleto all eyes but Prospero's) would come slyly and pinchhimandsometimes tumble him down in the mire; and then Arielin thelikeness of an apewould make mouths at him. Then swiftlychanginghis shapein the likeness of a hedgehoghe would lietumblingin Caliban's waywho feared the hedgehog's sharp quillswouldprick his bare feet. With a variety of such-like vexatioustricksAriel would often torment himwhenever Caliban neglectedthe workwhich Prospero commanded him to do.
Havingthese powerful spirits obedient to his willProsperocould bytheir means command the windsand the waves of the sea.By hisorders they raised a violent stormin the midst of whichandstruggling with the wild sea-waves that everymomentthreatenedto swallow it uphe showed his daughter a finelargeshipwhich he told her was full of living beings likethemselves."O my dear father" said she"if by your art youhaveraised this dreadful stormhave pity on their sad distress.See! thevessel will be dashed to pieces. Poor souls! they willallperish. If I had power I would sink the sea beneath theearthrather than the good ship should be destroyedwith alltheprecious souls within her."
"Benot amazeddaughter Miranda" said Prospero; "there. is noharm done.I have so ordered itthat no person in the ship shallreceiveany hurt. What I have done has been in care of youmydearchild. You are ignorant who you areor where you came fromand youknow no more of mebut that I am your father and live inthis poorcave. Can you remember a time before you came to thiscell? Ithink you cannotfor you were not then three years ofage."
"CertainlyI cansir" replied Miranda.
"Bywhat?" asked Prospero; "by any other house or person? Tellmewhat youcan remembermy child."
Mirandasaid: "It seems to me like the recollection of a dream.But had Inot once four or five women who attended upon me?"Prosperoanswered: "You hadand more. How is it that this stilllives inyour mind? Do you remember how you came here?" "Nosir"said Miranda"I remember nothing more."
"Twelveyears agoMiranda" continued Prospero"I was Duke ofMilanandyou were a princessand my only heir. had a youngerbrotherwhose name was Antonioto whom I trusted everything;and as Iwas fond of retirement and deep study I commonly leftthemanagement of my state affairs to your unclemy falsebrother(for so indeed he proved). 1neglecting all worldlyendsburied among my booksdid dedicate whole time to thebetteringof my mind. My brother Antoniobeing thus inpossessionof my powerbegan to think himself the duke indeed.Theopportunity I gave him of making himself popular among mysubjectsawakened in his bad nature a proud ambition to depriveme of mydukedom; this he soon effected with the aid of the Kingof Naplesa powerful princewho was my enemy."
"Wherefore"said Miranda"did they not that hour destroy us?"
"Mychild" answered her father"they durst notso dear wasthelove thatmy people bore me. Antonio carried us on board a shipand whenwe were some leagues out at seahe forced us into asmallboatwithout either tacklesailor mast; there he leftusas hethoughtto perish. But a kind lord of my courtoneGonzalowho loved mehad privately placed in the boat waterprovisionsappareland some books which I prize above mydukedom."
"O myfather" said Miranda"what a trouble must I have been toyou then!"
"Nomy love"' said Prospero"you were a little cherub thatdidpreserveme.Your innocent smiles made me bear up against mymisfortunes.Our food lasted till we landed on this desertislandsince when my chief delight has been in teaching youMirandaand well have you profited by my instructions."
"Heaventhank youmy dear father" said Miranda. "Now pray tellmesiryour reason for raising this sea-storm?"
"Knowthen" said her father""that by means of this stormmyenemiesthe King of Naples and my cruel brotherare cast ashoreupon thisisland."
Having sosaidProspero gently touched his daughter with hismagicwandand she fell fast asleep; for the spirit Ariel justthenpresented himself before his master.to give an account ofthetempestand how he had disposed of the ship's companyandthough thespirits were always invisible to MirandaProspero didnot chooseshe should hear him holding converse (as would seem toher) withthe empty air.
"Wellmy brave spirit" said Prospero to Ariel"how have youperformedyour task?"
Ariel gavea lively description of the stormand of the terrorsof themarinersand how the king's sonFerdinandwas the firstwho leapedinto the sea; and his father thought he saw his dearsonswallowed up by the waves and lost. "But he is safe" saidAriel"ina corner of the islesitting with his arms foldedsadlylamenting the loss of the kinghis fatherwhom heconcludesdrowned. Not a hair of his head is injuredand hisprincelygarmentsthough drenched in the sea-waveslook fresherthanbefore."
"That'smy delicate Ariel" said Prospero. "Bring him hither: mydaughtermust see this young prince. Where is the kingand mybrother?"
"Ileft them" answered Ariel"searching for Ferdinandwhomthey havelittle hopes of findingthinking they saw him perish.Of theship's crew not one is missing; though each one thinkshimselfthe only one saved; and the shipthough invisible tothemissafe in the harbor."
"Ariel"said Prospero"thy charge is faithfully performed; butthere ismore work yet."
"Isthere more work?" said Ariel. "Let me remind youmasteryouhavepromised me my liberty. I prayrememberI have done youworthyservicetold you no liesmade no mistakesserved youwithoutgrudge or grumbling."
"Hownow!" said Prospero. "You do not recollect what a torment Ifreed youfrom. Have you forgot the wicked witch Sycoraxwhowith ageand envy was almost bent double? Where was she born?Speak;tell me."
"Sirin Algiers" said Ariel.
"Ohwas she so?" said Prospero. "I must recount what you havebeenwhich I find you do not remember. This bad witchSycoraxfor herwitchcraftstoo terrible to enter human hearingwasbanishedfrom Algiersand here left by the sailors-; and becauseyou were aspirit too delicate to execute her wicked commandsshe shutyou up in a treewhere I found you howling. ThistormentrememberI did free you from."
"Pardonmedear master" said Arielashamed to seem ungrateful;"Iwill obey your commands."
"Doso" said Prospero"and I will set you free." He thengaveorderswhat further he would have him do; and away went Arielfirst towhere he had left Ferdinandand found him still sittingon thegrass in the same melancholy posture.
"Ohmy young gentleman" said Arielwhen he saw him'I willsoon moveyou. You must be broughtI findfor the Lady Mirandato have asight of your pretty person. Come. sirfollow me." Hethen begansinging:
"Full fathom five thy father lies; Of his bones are coral made; Those are pearls that were his eyes: Nothing of him that doth fade But doth suffer a sea-change Into something rich and strange. Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell: Hark! now I hear them--Ding-dongbell."
Thisstrange news of his lost father soon roused the prince fromthe stupidfit into which he had fallen. He followed in amazementthe soundof Ariel's voicetill it led him to Prospero andMirandawho were sitting under the shade of a large tree. NowMirandahad never seen a man beforeexcept her own father.
"Miranda"said Prospero"tell me what you are looking atyonder."
"Ohfather" said Mirandain a strange surprise"surely thatis aspirit. Lord! how it looks about! Believe mesirit is abeautifulcreature. Is it not a spirit?"
"Nogirl" answered her father; "it eatsand sleepsand hassensessuch as we have. This young man you see was in the ship.He issomewhat altered by griefor you might call him a handsomeperson. Hehas lost his companionsand is wandering about tofindthem."
Mirandawho thought all men had grave faces and gray beards likeherfatherwas delighted with the appearance of this beautifulyoungprince; and Ferdinandseeing such a lovely lady in thisdesertplaceand from the strange sounds he had heardexpectingnothingbut wondersthought be was upon an enchanted islandandthatMiranda was the goddess of the placeand as such he beganto addressher.
Shetimidly answeredshe was no goddessbut a simple maid andwas goingto give him an account of herselfwhen Prosperointerruptedher. He was well pleased to find they admired eachotherforhe plainly perceived they had (as we say) fallen inlove atfirst sight: but to try Ferdinand's constancyheresolvedto throw some difficulties in their way: thereforeadvancingforwardbe addressed the prince with a stern airtellinghimhe came to the island as a spyto take it from himwho wasthe lord of it. "Follow me" said be. "I will tie yourneck andfeet together. You shall drink sea-water; shell-fishwitheredrootsand husks of acorns shall be your food."
"No"said Ferdinand"I will resist such entertainment till Isee a morepowerful enemy" and drew his sword; but Prosperowaving hismagic wandfixed him to the spot where he stoodsothat hehad no power to move.
Mirandahung upon her fathersaying: "Why are you so ungentle?Have pityI will be his surety. This is the second man I eversawandto me he seems a true one."
"Silence!"said the father. "One word more will make me chideyougirl!What! an advocate for an impostor! You think there areno moresuch fine menhaving seen only him and Caliban. I tellyoufoolish girlmost men as far excel this as he doesCalliban."This he said to prove his daughter's constancy; andshereplied:
"Myaffections are most humble. I have no wish to see a goodlierman."
"Comeonyoung man" said Prospero to the prince; "you have nopower todisobey -me."
"Ihave not indeed" answered Ferdinand; and not knowing that itwas bymagic he was deprived of all power of resistance
they weregoing to eathe appeared visible before them in theshape of aharpya voracious monster with wingsand the feastvanishedaway. Thento their utter amazementthis seeming harpyspoke tothemreminding them of their cruelty in drivingProsperofrom his dukedomand leaving him and his infantdaughterto perish in the seasayingthat for this cause theseterrorswere suffered to afflict them.
The Kingof Naplesand Antonio the false brotherrepented theinjusticethey had done to Prospero; and Ariel told his master hewascertain their penitence was sincereand that hethough aspiritcould not but pity them.
"Thenbring them hitherAriel" said Prospero: "if youwho arebut aspiritfeel for their distressshall not Iwho am ahumanbeing like themselveshave compassion on them? Bring themquicklymy dainty Ariel."
Ariel soonreturned with the kingAntonioand old Gonzalo intheirtrainwho had followed himwondering at the wild music heplayed inthe air to draw them on to his master's presence. ThisGonzalowas the same who had so kindly provided Prospero formerlywith booksand provisionswhen his wicked brother left himashethoughtto perish in an open boat in the sea.
Grief andterror had so stupefied their senses that they did notknowProspero. He first discovered himself to the good oldGonzalocalling him the preserver of his life; and then hisbrotherand the king knew that he was the injured Prospero.
Antoniowith tears and sad words of sorrow and true repentanceimploredhis brother's forgivenessand the king expressed hissincereremorse for having assisted Antonio to depose hisbrother:and Prospero forgave them; andupon their engaging torestorehis dukedomhe said to the King of Naples"I have agift instore for youtoo"; andopening a doorshowed him hissonFerdinand playing at chess with Miranda.
Nothingcould exceed the joy of the father and the son at thisunexpectedmeetingfor they each thought the other drowned inthe storm.
"Ohwonder!" said Miranda"what noble creatures these are! Itmustsurely be a brave world that has such people in it."
The Kingof Naples was almost as much astonished at the beautyandexcellent graces of the young Miranda as his son had been."Whois this maid?" said he; "she seems the goddess that hasparted usand brought us thus together."
"Nosir" answered Ferdinandsmiling to find his father hadfalleninto the same mistake that he had done when he first sawMiranda"she is a mortalbut by immortal Providence she ismine; Ichose her when I could not ask youmy fatherfor yourconsentnot thinking you were alive. She is the daughter thisProsperowho is the famous Duke of Milanof whose renown I haveheard somuchbut never saw him till now: of him I have receiveda newlife: he has made himself to me a second fathergiving methis dearlady."
"ThenI must be her father" said the king; "butohhow oddlywill itsoundthat I must ask my child forgiveness."
"Nomore of that" said Prospero: "let us not remember ourtroublespastsince they so happily have ended." And thenProsperoembraced his brotherand again assured him of hisforgiveness;and said that a wise overruling Providence hadpermittedthat he should be driven from his poor dukedom ofMilanthat his daughter might inherit the crown of Naplesforthat bytheir meeting in this desert island it had happened thatthe king'sson had loved Miranda.
These kindwords which Prospero spokemeaning to comfort hisbrotherso filled Antonio with shame and remorse that be weptand wasunable to speak; and the kind old Gonzalo wept to seethisjoyful reconciliationand prayed for blessings on the youngcouple.
Prosperonow told them that their ship was safe in the harborand thesailors all on board herand that he and his daughterwouldaccompany them home the next morning. "In the mean time"says he"partake of such refreshments as my poor cave affords;and foryour evening's entertainment I will relate the history ofmy lifefrom my first landing in this desert island." He thencalled forCaliban to prepare some foodand set the cave inorder; andthe company were astonished at the uncouth form andsavageappearance of this ugly monsterwho (Prospero said) wasthe onlyattendant he had to wait upon him.
BeforeProspero left the island he dismissed Ariel from serviceto thegreat joy of that lively little spiritwhothough he hadbeen afaithful servant to his masterwas always longing toenjoy hisfree libertyto wander uncontrolled in the airlike awild birdunder green treesamong pleasant fruitsandsweet-smellingflowers.
"Myquaint Ariel" said Prospero to the little sprite when hemade himfree"I shall miss you; yet you shall have yourfreedom."
"Thankyoumy dear master" said Ariel; "but give me leave toattendyour ship home with prosperous galesbefore you bidfarewellto the assistance of your faithful spirit; and thenmasterwhen I am freehow merrily I shall live!" Here Arielsang thispretty song:
"Where the bee sucksthere suck !; In a cowslip's bell I lie: There I crouch when owls do cry. On the bat's back I do fly After summer merrily. Merrilymerrily shall I live now Under the blossom that hangs on the bough."
Prosperothen buried deep in the earth his magical books andwandforhe was resolved never more to make use of the magicart. Andhaving thus overcome his enemiesand being reconciledto hisbrother and the King of Naplesnothing now remained tocompletehis happiness but to revisit his native landto takepossessionof his dukedomand to witness the happy nuptials ofhisdaughter and Prince Ferdinandwhich the king said should beinstantlycelebrated with great splendor on their return toNaples. Atwhich placeunder the safe convoy of the spirit Arieltheyafter a pleasant voyagesoon arrived.
There wasa law in the city of Athens which gave to its citizensthe powerof compelling their daughters to marry whomsoever theypleased;for upon a daughter's refusing to marry the man herfather hadchosen to be her husbandthe father was empowered bythis lawto cause her to be put to death; but as fathers do notoftendesire the death of their own daughterseven though theydo happento prove a little refractorythis law was seldom ornever putin executionthough perhaps the young ladies of thatcity werenot unfrequently threatened by their parents with theterrors ofit.
There wasone instancehoweverof an old manwhose name wasEgeuswhoactually did come before Theseus (at that time thereigningDuke of Athens)to complain that his daughter whom hehadcommanded to marry Demetriusa young man of a noble Athenianfamilyrefused to obey himbecause she loved another youngAtheniannamed Lysander. Egeus demanded justice of Theseusanddesiredthat this cruel law might be put in force against hisdaughter.
Hermiapleaded in excuse for her disobedience that Demetrius hadformerlyprofessed love for her dear friend Helenaand thatHelenaloved Demetrius to distraction; but this honorable reasonwhichHermia gave for not obeying her father's commandmoved notthe sternEgeus.
Theseusthough a great and merciful princehad no power toalter thelaws of his country; therefore he could only giveHermiafour days to consider of it: and at the end of that timeif shestill refused to marry Demetriusshe was to be put todeath.
WhenHermia was dismissed from the presence of the dukeshe wentto herlover Lysander and told him the peril she was inand thatshe musteither give him up and marry Demetrius or lose her lifein fourdays.
Lysanderwas in great affliction at hearing these evil tidings;butrecollecting that be had an aunt who lived at some distancefromAthensand that at the place where she lived the cruel lawcould notbe put in force against Hermia (this law not extendingbeyond theboundaries of the city)he proposed to Hermia thatshe shouldsteal out of her father's house that nightand gowith himto his aunt's housewhere he would marry her. "I willmeet you"said Lysander"in the wood a few miles without thecity; inthat delightful wood where we have so often walked withHelena inthe pleasant month of May."
To thisproposal Hermia joyfully agreed; and she told no one ofherintended flight but her friend Helena. Helena (as maidenswill dofoolish things for love) very ungenerously resolved to goand tellthis to Demetriusthough she could hope no benefit frombetrayingher friend's secret but the poor pleasure of followingherfaithless lover to the wood; for she well knew that Demetriuswould gothither in pursuit of Hermia.
The woodin which Lysander and Hermia proposed to meet was thefavoritehaunt of those little beings known by the name of"fairies."
Oberon thekingand Titania the queen of the fairieswith alltheir tinytrain of followersin this wood held their midnightrevels.
Betweenthis little king and queen of sprites there happenedatthis timea sad disagreement; they never met by moonlight in theshady walkof this pleasant wood but they were quarrelingtillall theirfairy elves would creep into acorn-cups and hidethemselvesfor fear.
The causeof this unhappy disagreement was Titania's refusinggiveOberon a little changeling boywhose mother had beenTitania'sfriend; and upon her death the fairy queen stole thechild fromits nurse and brought him up in the woods.
The nighton which the lovers were to meet in this woodasTitaniawas walking with some of her maids of honorshe metOberonattended by his train of fairy courtiers.
"Illmet by moonlightproud Titania" said the fairy king.
The queenreplied: "Whatjealous Oberonis it you? Fairiesskiphence; I have forsworn his company."
"Tarryrash fairy" said Oberon. "Am I not thy lord? Why doesTitaniacross her Oberon? Give me your little changeling boy tobe mypage."
"Setyour heart at rest" answered the queen; "your whole fairykingdombuys not the boy of me." She then left her lord in greatanger.
"Wellgo your way" said Oberon; "before the morning dawns Iwilltorment you for this injury."
Oberonthen sent for Puckhis chief favorite and privycounselor.
Puck (oras he was sometimes calledRobin Goodfellow) was ashrewd andknavish spritethat used to play comical pranks intheneighboring villages; sometimes getting into the dairies andskimmingthe milksometimes plunging his light and airy forminto thebutter-churnand while he was dancing his fantasticshape inthe churnin vain the dairymaid would labor to changeher creaminto butter. Nor had the village swains any bettersuccess;whenever Puck chose to play his freaks in the brewingcopperthe ale was sure to be spoiled. When a few good neighborswere metto drink some comfortable ale togetherPuck would jumpinto thebowl of ale in the likeness of a roasted craband whensome oldgoody was going to drink he would bob against her lipsand spillthe ale over her withered chin; and presently afterwhen thesame old dame was gravely seating herself to tell herneighborsa sad and melancholy storyPuck would slip herthree-leggedstool from under herand down toppled the poor oldwomanandthen the old gossips would hold their sides and laughat herand swear they never wasted a merrier hour.
"ComehitherPuck" said Oberon to this little merry wanderer ofthe night;"fetch me the flower which maids call 'Love inIdleness';the juice of that little purple flower laid on theeyelids ofthose who sleep will make themwhen they awakedoteon thefirst thing they see. Some of the juice of that flower Iwill dropon the eyelids of my Titania when she is asleep; andthe firstthing she looks upon when she opens her eyes she willfall inlove witheven though it be a lion or a beara meddlingmonkey ora busy ape; and before I will take this charm from offher sightwhich I can do with another charm I know ofI willmake hergive me that boy to be my page."
Puckwholoved mischief to his heartwas highly diverted withthisintended frolic of his masterand ran to seek the flower;and whileOberon was waiting the return of Puck he observedDemetriusand Helena enter the wood: he overheard DemetriusreproachingHelena for following himand after many unkind wordson hispartand gentle expostulations from Helenareminding himof hisformer love and professions of true faith to herhe lefther (as hesaid) to the mercy of the wild beastsand she ranafter himas swiftly as she could.
The fairykingwho was always friendly to true loversfeltgreatcompassion for Helena; and perhapsas Lysander said theyused towalk by moonlight in this pleasant woodOberon mighthave seenHelena in those happy times when she was beloved byDemetrius.However that might bewhen Puck returned with thelittlepurple flowerOberon said to his favorite: "Take a partof thisflower; there has been a sweet Athenian lady herewho isin lovewith a disdainful youth; if you find him sleepingdropsome ofthe love-juice in his eyesbut contrive to do it whenshe isnear himthat the first thing he sees when he awakes maybe thisdespised lady. You will know the man ]by the Atheniangarmentswhich be wears."
Puckpromised to manage this matter very dexterously: and thenOberonwentunperceived by Titaniato her bowerwhere she waspreparingto go to rest. Her fairy bower was a bankwhere grewwildthymecowslipsand sweet violetsunder a canopy ofwoodbinemusk-rosesand eglantine. There Titania always sleptsome partof the night; her coverlet the enameled skin of asnakewhichthough a small mantlewas wide enough to wrap afairy in.
He foundTitania giving orders to her fairieshow they were toemploythemselves while she slept. "Some of you" said herMajesty"must kill cankers in the musk-rose budsand some wagewar withthe bats for their leathern wingsto make my smallelvescoats; and some of you keep watch that the clamorous owlthatnightly bootscome not near me: but first sing me tosleep."Then they began to sing this song:
"You spotted snakeswith double tongue Thorny hedgehogsbe not seen; Newts and blind-worms do no wrong; Come not near our fairy queen: "Philomelwith melody Sing in our sweet lullaby; Lullalullalullaby; lullalullalullaby; Never harmnor spellnor charm Come our lovely lady nigh; Sogood nightwith lullaby."
When thefairies had sung their queen asleep with this prettylullabythey left her to perform the important services she hadenjoinedthem. Oberon then softly drew near his Titania anddroppedsome of the love-juice on her eyelidssaying:
"What thou seest when thou dost wake Do it for thy true-love take."
But toreturn to Hermiawho made her escape out of her father'shouse thatnightto avoid the death she was doomed to forrefusingto marry Demetrius. When she entered the woodshe foundher dearLysander waiting for herto conduct her to his aunt'shouse; butbefore they had passed half through the wood Hermiawas somuch fatigued that Lysanderwho was very careful of thisdear ladywho had proved her affection for him even by hazardingher lifefor his sakepersuaded her to rest till morning on abank ofsoft mossandlying down himself on the ground at somelittledistancethey soon fell fast asleep. Here they were foundby Puckwhoseeing a handsome young man asleepand perceivingthat hisclothes were made in the Athenian fashionand that aprettylady was sleeping near himconcluded that this must betheAthenian maid and her disdainful lover whom Oberon had senthim toseek; and he naturally enough conjectured thatas theywere alonetogethershe must be the first thing he would seewhen heawoke; sowithout more adohe proceeded to pour some ofthe juiceof the little purple flower into his eyes. But it sofell outthat Helena came that wayandinstead of Hermiawasthe firstobject Lysander beheld when he opened his eyes; andstrange torelateso powerful was the love-charmall his lovefor Hermiavanished away and Lysander fell in love with Helena.
Had hefirst seen Hermia when he awokethe blunder Puckcommittedwould have been of no consequencefor he could notlove thatfaithful lady too well; but for poor Lysander to beforced bya fairy love-charm to forget his own true Herniaandto runafter another ladyand leave Hermia asleep quite alone ina wood atmidnightwas a sad chance indeed.
Thus thismisfortune happened. Helenaas has been beforerelatedendeavored to keep pace with Demetrius when he ran awayso rudelyfrom her; but she could not continue this unequal racelongmenbeing always better runners in a long race than ladies.Helenasoon lost sight of Demetrius; and as she was wanderingaboutdejected and forlornshe arrived at the place whereLysanderwas sleeping. "Ah!" said she"this is Lysander lyingontheground. Is he dead or asleep?" Thengently touching himshesaid"Good sirif you are aliveawake." Upon this Lysanderopened hiseyesandthe love-charm beginning to workimmediatelyaddressed her in terms of extravagant love andadmirationtelling her she as much excelled Hermia in beauty asa dovedoes a ravenand that be would run through fire for hersweetsake; and many more such lover-like speeches. HelenaknowingLysander was her friend Hermia's loverand that he wassolemnlyengaged to marry herwas in the utmost rage when sheheardherself addressed in this manner; for she thought (as wellshe might)that Lysander was making a jest of her. "Oh!" saidshe"whywas I born to be mocked and scorned by every one? Is itnotenoughis it not enoughyoung manthat I can never get asweet lookor a kind word from Demetrius; but yousirmustpretend inthis disdainful manner to court me? I thoughtLysanderyou were a lord of more true gentleness." Saying thesewords ingreat angershe ran away; and Lysander followed herquiteforgetful of his own Hermiawho was still asleep.
WhenHermia awoke she was in a sad fright at finding herselfalone. Shewandered about the woodnot knowing what was becomeofLysanderor which way to go to seek for him. In the mean timeDemetriusnot being able to find Hermia and his rival Lysanderandfatigued with his fruitless searchwas observed by Oberonfastasleep. Oberon had learned by some questions he had asked ofPuck thathe had applied the lovecharm to the wrong person'seyes; andnowhaving found the person first intendedhe touchedtheeyelids of the sleeping Demetrius with the love-juiceand heinstantlyawoke; and the first thing he saw being HelenaheasLysanderhad done beforebegan to address love-speeches to her;and justat that moment Lysanderfollowed by Hermia (for throughPuck'sunlucky mistake it was now become Hermia's turn to runafter herlover)made his appearance; and then Lysander andDemetriusboth speaking togethermade love to Helenatheybeing eachone under the influence of the same potent charm.
Theastonished Helena thought that DemetriusLysanderand heronce dearfriend Hermia were all in a plot together to make ajest ofher.
Hermia wasas much surprised as Helena; she knew not why LysanderandDemetriuswho both before loved herwere now become thelovers ofHelenaand to Hermia the matter seemed to be no jest.
Theladieswho before bad always been the dearest of friendsnow fellto high words together.
"Unkind.Hermia" said Helena"it is you have set Lysander onto vex mewith mock praises; and your other loverDemetriuswhousedalmost to spurn me with his foothave you not bid him callmegoddessnymphrarepreciousand celestial? He would notspeak thusto mewhom he hatesif you did not set him on tomake ajest of me. Unkind Hermiato join with men in scorningyour poorfriend. Have you forgot our schoolday friendship? HowoftenHermiahave we twositting on one cushionboth singingone songwith our needles working the same flowerboth on thesamesampler wrought; growing up together in fashion of a doublecherryscarcely seeming parted! Hermiait is not friendly inyouit isnot maidenly to join with men in scorning your poorfriend."
"I amamazed at your passionate words" said Hermia: "I scorn younot; itseems you scorn me."
"Ayedo" returned Helena"perseverecounterfeit seriouslooksandmake mouths at me when I turn my back; then wink ateachotherand hold the sweet jest up. If you had any pitygraceormannersyou would not use me thus."
WhileHelena and Hermia were speaking these angry words to eachotherDemetrius and Lysander left themto fight together in thewood forthe love of Helena.
When theyfound the gentlemen had left themthey departedandonce morewandered weary in the wood in search of their lovers.
As soon asthey were gone the fairy kingwho with little Puckhad beenlistening to their quarrelssaid to him"This is yournegligencePuck; or did you do this wilfully?"
"Believemeking of shadows" answered Puck"it was a mistake.Did notyou tell me I should know the man by his Atheniangarments?HoweverI am not sorry this has happenedfor I thinktheirjangling makes excellent sport."
"Youheard" said Oberon"that Demetrius and Lysander are goneto seek aconvenient place to fight in. I command you to overhangthe nightwith a thick fogand lead these quarrelsome lovers soastray in'the dark that they shall not be able to find eachother.Counterfeit each of their voices to the otherand withbittertaunts provoke them to follow youwhile they think it istheirrival's tongue they hear. See you do thistill they are soweary theycan go no farther; and when you find they are asleepdrop thejuice of this other flower into Lysander's eyesandwhen heawakes he will forget his new love for Helenaand returnto his oldpassion for Hermia; and then the two fair ladies mayeach onebe happy with the man she loves and they will think allthat haspassed a vexatious dream. About this quicklyPuckandI will goand see what sweet love my Titania has found."
Titaniawas still sleepingand Oberonseeing a clown near herwho hadlost his way in the wood and was likewise asleep"Thisfellow"said he"shall be my Titania's true love"; and clappingan ass'shead over the clown'sit seemed to fit him as well asif it hadgrown upon his own shoulders. Though Oberon fixed theass's headon very gentlyit awakened himandrising upunconsciousof what Oberon had done to himhe went toward thebowerwhere the fairy queen slept.
"Ah Iwhat angel is that I see?" said Titaniaopening her eyesand thejuice of the little purple flower beginning to takeeffect."Are you as wise as you are beautiful?"
"Whymistress" said the foolish clown"if I have wit enough tofind theway out of this woodI have enough to serve my turn."
"Outof the wood do not desire to go" said the enamoured queen."I ama spirit of no common rate. I love you. Go with meand Iwill giveyou fairies to attend upon you."
She thencalled four of her fairies. Their names werePeas-blossomCobwebMothand Mustard-seed.
"Attend"said the queen"upon this sweet gentleman. Hop in hiswalks andgambol in his sight; feed him with grapes and apricotsand stealfor him the honey-bags from the bees. Comesit withme"said she to the clown."and let me play with your amiablehairycheeksmy beautiful ass! and kiss your fair large earsmygentlejoy."
"Whereis Peas-blossom?" said the ass-headed clownnot muchregardingthe fairy queen's courtshipbut very proud of his newattendants.
"Heresir" said little Peas-blossom.
"Scratchmy head" said the clown. "Where is Cobweb?"
"Heresir" said Cobweb.
"GoodMr. Cobweb" said the foolish clown"kill me the redhumblebeeon the top of that thistle yonder; andgood Mr.Cobwebbring me the honey-bag. Do not fret yourself too much intheactionMr. Cobweband take care the honey-bag break not; Ishould besorry to have you overflown with a honey-bag. Where isMustard-seed?"
"Heresir" said Mustard-seed. "What is your will?"
"Nothing"said the clown"good Mr. Mustard-seedbut to helpMr.Peas-blossom to scratch; I must go to a barber'sMr.Mustard-seedfor methinks I am marvelous hairy about the face."
"Mysweet love" said the queen"what will you have to eat? Ihave aventurous fairy shall seek the squirrel's hoardand fetchyou somenew nuts."
"Ihad rather have a handful of dried peas"' said the clownwhowith hisass's head had got an ass's appetite. "ButI prayletnone ofyour people disturb mefor I have a mind to sleep."
"Sleepthen" said the queen"and I will wind you in my arms.Ohhow Ilove you! how I dote upon you!"
When thefairy king saw the clown sleeping in the arms of hisqueenheadvanced within her sightand reproached her withhavinglavished her favors upon an ass.
This shecould not denyas the clown was then sleeping withinher armswith his ass's head crowned by her with flowers.
WhenOberon had teased her for some timehe again demanded thechangelingboy; which sheashamed of being discovered by herlord withher new favoritedid not dare to refuse him.
Oberonhaving thus obtained the little boy he had so long wishedfor to behis pagetook pity on the disgraceful situation intowhichbyhis merry contrivancehe had brought his Titaniaandthrew someof the juice of the other flower into her eyes; andthe fairyqueen immediately recovered her sensesand wondered ather latedotagesaying how she now loathed the sight of thestrangemonster.
Oberonlikewise took the ass's head from off the clownand lefthim tofinish his nap with his own fool's head upon hisshoulders.
Oberon andhis Titania being now perfectly reconciledhe relatedto her thehistory of the lovers and their midnight quarrelsandshe agreedto go with him and see the end of their adventures.
The fairyking and queen found the lovers and their fair ladiesat nogreat distance from one anothersleeping on a grass-plot;for Puckto make amends for his former mistakehad contrivedwith theutmost diligence to bring them all to the same spotunknown toone another; and he bad carefully removed the charmfrom offthe eyes of Lysander with the antidote the fairy kinggave tohim.
Hermiafirst awokeandfinding her lost Lysander asleep so nearherwaslooking at him and wondering at his strange inconstancy.Lysanderpresently opening his eyesand seeing his dear Hermiarecoveredhis reason which the fairy charm had before cloudedand withhis reason his love for Hermia; and they began to talkover theadventures of the nightdoubting if these things hadreallyhappenedor if they bad both been dreaming the samebewilderingdream.
Helena andDemetrius were by this time awake; and a sweet sleephavingquieted Helena's disturbed and angry spiritsshe listenedwithdelight to the professions of love which Demetrius stillmade toherand whichto her surprise as well as pleasureshebegan toperceive were sincere.
These fairnight-wandering ladiesnow no longer rivalsbecameonce moretrue friends; all the unkind words which had passedwereforgivenand they calmly consulted together what was bestto be donein their present situation. It was soon agreed thatasDemetrius bad given up his pretensions to Hermiahe shouldendeavorto prevail upon her father to revoke the cruel sentenceof deathwhich had been passed against her. Demetrius waspreparingto return to Athens for this friendly purposewhenthey weresurprised with the sight of EgeusHermia's fatherwhocame tothe wood in pursuit of his runaway daughter.
When Egeusunderstood that Demetrius would not now marry hisdaughterhe no longer opposed her marriage with Lysander butgave hisconsent that they should be wedded on the fourth dayfrom thattimebeing the same day on which Hermia had beencondemnedto lose her life; and on that same day Helena joyfullyagreed tomarry her beloved and now faithful Demetrius.
The fairyking and queenwho were invisible spectators of thisreconciliationand now saw the happy ending of the lovers'historybrought about through the good offices of Oberonreceivedso much pleasure that these kind spirits resolved tocelebratethe approaching nuptials with sports and revelsthroughouttheir fairy kingdom.
And nowif any are offended with this story of fairies and theirpranksasjudging it incredible and strangethey have only tothink thatthey have been asleep and dreamingand that all theseadventureswere visions which they saw in their sleep. And I hopenone of myreaders will be so unreasonable as to be offended witha prettyharmless Midsummer Night's Dream.
LeontesKing of Sicilyand his queen the beautiful andvirtuousHermione once lived in the greatest harmony together.So happywas Leontes in the love of this excellent lady that hehad no wish ungratifiedexcept that he some times desired tosee againand to present to his queen his old companion andschoolfellowPolixenesKing of Bohemia. Leontes and Polixeneswerebrought up together from their infancybut beingby thedeath oftheir fatherscalled to reign over their respectivekingdomsthey had not met for many yearsthough they frequentlyinterchangedgiftslettersand loving embassies.
At lengthafter repeated invitationsPolixenes came fromBohemia tothe Sicilian courtto make his friend Leontes avisit.
At firstthis visit gave nothing but pleasure to Leontes. Herecommendedthe friend of his youth to the queen's particularattentionand seemed in the presence of his dear friend and oldcompanionto have his felicity quite completed. They talked overold times;their school-days and their youthful pranks wererememberedand recounted to Hermionewho always took a cheerfulpart inthese conversations.
Whenafter a long stayPolixenes was preparing to departHermioneat the desire of her husbandjoined her entreaties tohis thatPolixenes would prolong his visit.
And nowbegan this good queen's sorrow; for Polixenesrefusingto stay atthe request of Leonteswas won over by Hermione'sgentle andpersuasive words to put off his departure for someweekslonger. Upon thisalthough Leontes had so long known theintegrityand honorable principles of his friend Polixenesaswell asthe excellent disposition of his virtuous queenhe wasseizedwith an ungovernable jealousy. Every attention Hermioneshowed toPolixenesthough by her husband's particular desireand merelyto please himincreased the unfortunate king'sjealousy;and from being a loving and a true friendand the bestandfondest of husbandsLeontes became suddenly a savage andinhumanmonster. Sending for Camilloone of the lords of hiscourtandtelling him of the suspicion he entertainedhecommandedhim to poison Polixenes.
Camillowas a good manand hewell knowing that the jealousy ofLeonteshad not the slightest foundation in truthinstead ofpoisoningPolixenesacquainted him with the king his master'sordersand agreed to escape with him out of the Siciliandominions;and Polixeneswith the assistance of Camilloarrivedsafe in his own kingdom of Bohemiawhere Camillo livedfrom thattime in the king's court and became the chief friendandfavorite of Polixenes.
The flightof Polixenes enraged the jealous Leontes still more;he went tothe queen's apartmentwhere the good lady was sittingwith herlittle son Mamilliuswho was just beginning to tell oneof hisbest stories to amuse his motherwhen the king enteredandtaking the child awaysent Hermione to prison.
Mamilliusthough but a very young childloved his mothertenderly;and when he saw her so dishonoredand found she wastaken fromhim to be put into a prisonhe took it deeply toheart anddrooped and pined away by slow degreeslosing hisappetiteand his sleeptill it was thought his grief would killhim.
The kingwhen he had sent his queen to prisoncommandedCleomenesand Diontwo Sicilian lordsto go to Delphosthereto inquireof the oracle at the temple of Apollo if his queen hadbeenunfaithful to him.
WhenHermione had been a short time in prison she was brought tobed of adaughter; and the poor lady received much comfort fromthe sightof her pretty babyand she said to it"My poor littleprisonerI am as innocent as you are."
Hermionehad a kind friend in the noble-spirited Paulinawho wasthe wifeof Antigonusa Sicilian lord; and when the lady Paulinaheard herroyal mistress was brought to bed she went to theprisonwhere Hermione was confined; and she said to Emiliaalady whoattended upon Hermione"I pray youEmiliatell thegoodqueenif her Majesty dare trust me with her little babeIwill carryit to the kingits father: we do not know how he maysoften atthe sight of his innocent child."
"Mostworthy madam" replied Emilia"I will acquaint the queenwith yournoble offer. She was wishing to-day that she had anyfriend whowould venture to present the child to the king."
"Andtell her" said Paulina. "that I will speak boldly toLeontes inher defense."
"Mayyou be forever blessed" said Emilia"for your kindness toourgracious queen!"
Emiliathen went to Hermionewho joyfully gave up her baby tothe careof Paulinafor she had feared that no one would dareventure topresent the child to its father.
Paulinatook the new-born infant andforcing herself into theking'spresencenotwithstanding her husbandfearing the king'sangerendeavored to prevent hershe laid the babe at itsfather'sfeet; and Paulina made a noble speech to the king indefense ofHermioneand she reproached him severely for hisinhumanityand implored him to have mercy on his innocent wifeand child.But Paulina's spirited remonstrances only aggravatedLeontes'sdispleasureand he ordered her husband Antigonus totake herfrom his presence.
WhenPaulina went away she left the little baby at its father'sfeetthinking when he was alone with it he would look upon itand havepity on its helpless innocence.
The goodPaulina was mistakenfor no sooner was she gone thanthemerciless father ordered AntigonusPaulina's husbandto takethe child and carry it out to sea and leave it upon somedesertshore to perish.
Antigonusunlike the good Camillotoo well obeyed the orders ofLeontes;for he immediately carried the child on shipboardandput out toseaintending to leave it on the first desert coasthe couldfind.
So firmlywas the king persuaded of the guilt of Hermione that hewould notwait for the return of Cleomenes and Dion; whom he hadsent toconsult the oracle of Apollo at Delphosbut before thequeen wasrecovered from her lying-inand from the grief for theloss ofher precious babyhe had her brought to a public trialbefore allthe lords and nobles of his court. And when all thegreatlordsthe judgesand all the nobility of the land wereassembledtogether to try Hermioneand that unhappy queen wasstandingas a prisoner before her subjects to receive theirjudgmentCleomenes and Dion entered the assembly and presentedto theking the answer of the oraclesealed up; and Leontescommandedthe seal to be brokenand the words of the oracle tobe readaloudand these were the words:
"Hermioneis innocentPolixenes blamelessCamillo a truesubjectLeontes a jealous tyrantand the king shall livewithout anheir if that which is lost be not found."
The kingwould give no credit to the words of the oracle. He saidit was afalsehood invented by the queen's friendsand bedesiredthe judge to proceed in the trial of the queen; but whileLeonteswas speaking a man entered and told him that the PrinceMamilliushearing his mother was to be tried for her lifestruckwith grief and shamehad suddenly died.
Hermioneupon hearing of the death of this dearaffectionatechildwhohad lost his life in sorrowing for her misfortunefainted;and Leontespierced to the heart by the newsbegan tofeel pityfor his unhappy queenand he ordered Paulinaand theladies whowere her attendantsto take her away and use meansfor herrecovery. Paulina soon returned and told the king thatHermionewas dead.
WhenLeontes heard that the queen was dead he repented of hiscruelty toher; and now that he thought his ill-usage had brokenHermione'shearthe believed her innocent; and now he thoughtthe wordsof the oracle were trueas he knew "if that which waslost wasnot found" which he concluded was his young daughterhe shouldbe without an heirthe young Prince Mamillius beingdead; andhe would give his kingdom now to recover his lostdaughter.And Leontes gave himself up to remorse and passed manyyears inmournful thoughts and repentant grief.
The shipin which Antigonus carried the infant princess out tosea wasdriven by a storm upon the coast of Bohemiathe verykingdom ofthe good King Polixenes. Here Antigonus landed andhere heleft the little baby.
Antigonusnever returned to Sicily to tell Leontes where he hadleft hisdaughterforas he was going back to the shipa bearcame outof the woods and tore him to pieces; a just punishmenton him forobeying the wicked order Leontes.
The childwas dressed in rich clothes and jewels; for Hermionehad madeit very fine when she sent it to Leontesand Antigonushad pinneda paper to its mantleand the name of "Perdita"writtenthereonand words obscurely intimating its high birthanduntoward fate.
This poordeserted baby was found by a shepherd. He was a humanemanandso he carried the little Perdita home to his wifewhonursed ittenderly. But poverty tempted the shepherd to concealthe richprize be had found; therefore he left that part of thecountrythat no one might know where he got his richesand withpart ofPerdita's jewels be bought herds of sheep and became awealthyshepherd. He brought up Perdita as his own childand sheknew notshe was any other than a shepherd's daughter.
The littlePerdita grew up a lovely maiden; and though she had nobettereducation than that of a shepherd's daughteryet so didthenatural graces she inherited from her royal mother shineforth inher untutored mind that no onefrom her behaviorwouldhave knownshe had not been brought up in her father's court.
Polixenesthe King of Bohemiahad an only sonwhose name wasFlorizel.As this young prince was hunting near the shepherd'sdwellinghe saw the old man's supposed daughter; and the beautymodestyand queenlike deportment of Perdita caused him instantlyto fall inlove with her. He soonunder the name of Doriclesand in thedisguise of a private gentlemanbecame a constantvisitor atthe old shepherd's house. Florizel's frequent absencesfrom courtalarmed Polixenes; and setting people to watch hissonhediscovered his love for the shepherd's fair daughter.
Polixenesthen called for Camillothe faithful Camillowho hadpreservedhis life from the fury of Leontesand desired that hewouldaccompany him to the house of the shepherdthe supposedfather ofPerdita. Polixenes and Camilloboth in disguisearrived atthe old shepherd's dwelling while they werecelebratingthe feast of sheep-shearing; and though they werestrangersyet at the sheep-shearingevery guest being madewelcomethey were invited to walk in and join in the generalfestivity.
Nothingbut mirth and jollity was going forward. Tables werespread andfit great preparations were making for the rusticfeast.Some lads and lasses were dancing on the green before thehousewhile others of the young men were buying ribandsglovesand suchtoys of a peddler at the door.
While thisbusy scene was going forward Florizel and Perdita satquietly ina retired cornerseemingly more pleased with theconversationof each other than desirous of engaging in thesports andsilly amusements of those around them.
The kingwas so disguised that it was impossible his son couldknow him.He therefore advanced near enough to hear theconversation.The simple yet elegant manner in which Perditaconversedwith his son did not a little surprise Polixenes. Hesaid toCamillo:
"Thisis the prettiest low-born lass I ever saw; nothing she doesor saysbut looks like something greater than herselftoo noblefor thisplace."
Camilloreplied"Indeed she is the very queen of curds andcream."
"Praymy good friend" said the king to the old shepherd"whatfair swainis that talking with your daughter?"
"Theycall him Doricles" replied the shepherd. "He says he lovesmydaughter; andto speak truththere is not a kiss to choosewhichloves the other best. If young Doricles can get hersheshallbring him that he little dreams of" meaning the remainderofPerdita's jewels; whichafter he had bought herds of sheepwith partof themhe had carefully hoarded up for her marriageportion.
Polixenesthen addressed his son. "How nowyoung man!" said he."Yourheart seems full of something that takes off your mind fromfeasting.When I was young I used to load my love with presents;but youhave let the peddler go and have bought your lass notoy."
The youngprincewho little thought he was talking to the kinghisfatherreplied"Old sirshe prizes not such trifles; thegiftswhich Perdita expects from me are locked up in my heart."Thenturning to Perditahe said to her"Ohhear mePerditabeforethis ancient gentlemanwho it seems was once himself alover; heshall hear what I profess." Florizel then called uponthe oldstranger to be a witness to a solemn promise of marriagewhich bemade to Perditasaying to Polixenes"I pray youmarkourcontract."
"Markyour divorceyoung sir" said the kingdiscoveringhimself.Polixenes then reproached his son for daring to contracthimself tothis low-born maidencalling Perdita "shepherd'sbratsheep-hook" and other disrespectful namesand threateningif evershe suffered his son to see her againhe would put herand theold shepherd her fatherto a cruel death.
The kingthen left them in great wrathand ordered Camillo tofollow himwith Prince Florizel.
When theking had departedPerditawhose royal nature wasroused byPolixenes's reproachessaid"Though we are allundoneIwas not much afraid; and once or twice I was about tospeak andtell him plainly that the selfsame sun which shinesupon hispalace hides not his face from our cottagebut looks onbothalike." Then sorrowfully she said"But now I am awakenedfrom thisdreamI will queen it no further. Leave mesir. Iwill gomilk my ewes and weep."
Thekind-hearted Camillo was charmed with the spirit andproprietyof Perdita's behavior; andperceiving that the youngprince wastoo deeply in love to give up his mistress at thecommand ofhis royal fatherhe thought of a way to befriend thelovers andat the same time to execute a favorite scheme he hadin hismind.
Camillohad long known that Leontesthe King of Sicilywasbecome atrue penitent; and though Camillo was now the favoredfriend ofKing Polixeneshe could not help wishing once more tosee hislate royal master and his native home. He thereforeproposedto Florizel and Perdita that they should accompany himto theSicilian courtwhere he would engage Leontes shouldprotectthem tillthrough his mediationthey could obtainpardonfrom Polixenes and his consent to their marriage.
To thisproposal they joyfully agreed; and Camillowho conductedeverythingrelative to their flightallowed the old shepherd togo alongwith them.
Theshepherd took with him the remainder of Perdita's jewelsherbabyclothesand the paper which he had found pinned to hermantle.
After aprosperous voyageFlorizel and PerditaCamillo and theoldshepherdarrived in safety at the court of Leontes. Leonteswho stillmourned his dead Hermione and his lost childreceivedCamillowith great kindness and gave a cordial welcome to PrinceFlorizel.But Perditawhom Florizel introduced as his princessseemed toengross all Leontes's attention. Perceiving aresemblancebetween her and his dead queen Hermionehis griefbroke outafreshand he said such a lovely creature might hisowndaughter have been if he had not so cruelly destroyed her.
"Andthentoo" said he to Florizel"I lost the society andfriendshipof your brave fatherwhom I now desire more than mylife onceagain to look upon."
When theold shepherd heard how much notice the king had taken ofPerditaand that he had lost a daughter who was exposed ininfancyhe fell to comparing the time when he found the littlePerditawith the manner of its exposurethe jewels and othertokens ofits high birth; from all which it was impossible forhim not toconclude that Perdita and the king's lost daughterwere thesame.
Florizeland PerditaCamillo and the faithful Paulinawerepresentwhen the old shepherd related to the king the manner inwhich hehad found the childand also the circumstance ofAntigonus'sdeathhe having seen the bear seize upon him. Heshowed therich mantle in which Paulina remembered Hermione hadwrappedthe child; and he produced a jewel which she rememberedHermionehad tied about Perdita's neck; and he gave up the paperwhichPaulina knew to be the writing of her husband. It could notbe doubtedthat Perdita was Leontes's own daughter. Butohthenoblestruggles of Paulinabetween sorrow for her husband'sdeath andjoy that the oracle was fulfilledin the king's heirhislong-lost daughter being found! When Leontes heard thatPerditawas his daughterthe great sorrow that he felt thatHermionewas not living to behold her child made him that hecould saynothing for a long time but "Ohthy motherthymother!"
Paulinainterrupted this joyful yet distressful scene with sayingto Leontesthat she had a statue newly finished by that rareItalianmasterJulio Romanowhich was such a perfectresemblanceof the queen that would his Majesty be pleased to goto herhouse and look upon itbe would be almost ready to thinkit wasHermione herself. Thither then they all went; the kinganxious tosee the semblance of his Hermioneand Perdita longingto beholdwhat the mother she never saw did look like.
WhenPaulina drew back the curtain which concealed this famousstatuesoperfectly did it resemble Hermione that all the king'ssorrow wasrenewed at the sight; for a long time he had no powerto speakor move.
"Ilike your silencemy liege" said Paulina; "it the moreshowsyourwonder. Is not this statue very like your queen?"
At lengththe king said: "Ohthus she stoodeven with suchmajestywhen I first wooed her. But yetPaulinaHermione wasnot soaged as this statue looks."
Paulinareplied: "So much the more the carver's excellencewhohas madethe statue as Hermione would have looked had she beenlivingnow. But let me draw the curtainsirelest presently youthink itmoves."
The kingthen said: "Do not draw the curtain. Would I were dead!SeeCarmillowould you not think it breathed? Her eye seems tohavemotion in it."
"Imust draw the curtainmy liege" said Paulina. "You are sotransportedyou will persuade yourself the statue lives."
"Ohsweet Pauline" said Leontes"make me think so twentyyearstogether!Still methinks there is an air comes from her. Whatfinechisel could ever yet cut breath? Let no man mock mefor Iwill kissher."
"Goodmy lordforbear!" said Paulina. "The ruddiness upon herlip iswet; you will stain your own with oily painting. Shall Idraw thecurtain?"
"Nonot these twenty years" said Leontes.
Perditawho all this time bad been kneeling and beholding insilentadmiration the statue of her matchless mothersaid now"Andso long could I stay herelooking upon my dear mother."
"Eitherforbear this transport" said Paulina to Leontes"andlet medraw the curtain or prepare yourself for more amazement. Ican makethe statue move indeed; ayeand descend from off thepedestaland take you by the hand. But then you will thinkwhichI protestI am notthat I am assisted by some wicked powers."
"Whatyou can make her do" said the astonished king"I amcontent tolook upon. What you can make her speak I am content tohear; forit is as easy to make her speak as move."
Paulinathen ordered some slow and solemn musicwhich she hadpreparedfor the purposeto strike up; andto the amazement ofall thebeholdersthe statue came down from off the pedestal andthrew itsarms around Leontes's neck. The statue then began tospeakpraying for blessings on her husband and on her childthenewlyfound Perdita.
No wonderthat the statue hung upon Leontes's neck and blessedherhusband and her child. No wonder; for the statue was indeedHermioneherselfthe realthe living queen.
Paulinahad falsely reported to the king the death of Hermione'thinkingthat the only means to preserve her royal mistress'slife; andwith the good Paulina Hermione had lived ever sinceneverchoosing Leontes should know she was living till she heardPerditawas found; for though she had long forgiven the injurieswhichLeontes had done to herselfshe could not pardon hiscruelty tohis infant daughter.
His deadqueen thus restored to lifehis lost daughter foundthelong-sorrowing Leontes could scarcely support the excess ofhis ownhappiness.
Nothingbut congratulations and affectionate speeches were heardon allsides. Now the delighted parents thanked Prince Florizelfor lovingtheir lowly seeming daughter; and now they blessed thegood oldshepherd for preserving their child. Greatly did CamilloandPaulina rejoice that they had lived to see so good an end ofall theirfaithful services.
And as ifnothing should be wanting to complete this strange andunlooked-forjoyKing Polixenes himself now entered the palace.
WhenPolixenes first missed his son and Camilloknowing thatCamillohad long wished to return to Sicilyhe conjectured heshouldfind the fugitives here; andfollowing them with allspeedhehappened to just arrive at this the happiest moment ofLeontes'slife.
Polixenestook a part in the general joy; he forgave his friendLeontesthe unjust jealousy he had conceived against himandthey oncemore loved each other with all the warmth of theirfirstboyish friendship. And there was no fear that Polixeneswould nowoppose his son's marriage with Perdita. She was no"sheep-hook"nowbut the heiress of the crown of Sicily.
Thus havewe seen the patient virtues of the long-sufferingHermionerewarded. That excellent lady lived many years with herLeontesand her Perditathe happiest of mothers and of queens.
Therelived in the palace at Messina two ladieswhose names wereHero and Beatrice. Hero was the daughterand Beatrice thenieceofLeonatothe governor of Messina.
Beatricewas of a lively temper and loved to divert her cousinHerowho was of a more serious dispositionwith her sprightlysallies.Whatever was going forward was sure to make matter ofmirth forthe light-hearted Beatrice.
At thetime the history of these ladies commences some young menof highrank in the armyas they were passing through Messina ontheirreturn from a war that was just endedin which they baddistinguishedthemselves by their great braverycame to visitLeonato.Among these were Don Pedrothe Prince of Arragonandhis friendClaudiowho was a lord of Florence; and with themcame thewild and witty Benedickand he was a lord of Padua.
Thesestrangers had been at Messina beforeand the hospitablegovernorintroduced them to his daughter and his niece as theiroldfriends and acquaintance.
Benedickthe moment he entered the roombegan a livelyconversationwith Leonato and the prince. Beatricewho liked notto be leftout of any discourseinterrupted Benedick withsaying:
"Iwonder that you will still be talkingSignor Benedick. Nobodymarksyou."
Benedickwas just such another rattlebrain as Beatriceyet hewas notpleased at this free salutation; he thought it did notbecome awell-bred lady to be so flippant with her tongue; and herememberedwhen he was last at Messinathat Beatrice used toselect himto make her merry jests upon. And as there is no onewho solittle likes to be made a jest of as those who are apt totake thesame liberty themselvesso it was with Benedick andBeatrice;these two sharp wits never met in former times but aperfectwar of raillery was kept up between themand they alwayspartedmutually displeased with each other. ThereforewhenBeatricestopped him in the middle of his discourse with tellinghim nobodymarked what he was sayingBenedickaffecting not tohaveobserved before that she was presentsaid:
"Whatmy dear Lady Disdainare you yet living?" And now warbroke outafresh between themand a long jangling argumentensuedduring which Beatricealthough she knew be had so wellapprovedhis valor in the late warsaid that she would eat allhe hadkilled there; and observing the prince take delight inBenedick'sconversationshe called him "the prince's jester."Thissarcasm sank deeper into the mind of Benedick than allBeatricehad said before. The hint she gave him that he was acowardbysaying she would eat all he bad killedhe did notregardknowing himself to be a brave man; but there is nothingthat greatwits so much dread as the imputation of buffoonerybecausethe charge comes sometimes a little too near the truth;thereforeBenedick perfectly hated Beatrice when she called him"theprince's jester."
The modestlady Hero was silent before the noble guests; andwhileClaudio was attentively observing the improvement whichtime hadmade in her beautyand was contemplating the exquisitegraces ofher fine figure (for she was an admirable young lady)the princewas highly amused with listening to the humorousdialoguebetween Benedick and Beatrice; and he said in a whispertoLeonato:
"Thisis a pleasant-spirited young lady. She were an excellentwife forBenedick."
Leonatoreplied to this suggestion"O my lordmy lordif theywere but aweek marriedthey would talk themselves mad!"
But thoughLeonato thought they would make a discordant pairtheprince didnot give up the idea of matching these two keen witstogether.
When theprince returned with Claudio from the palace he foundthat themarriage he had devised between Benedick and Beatricewas notthe only one projected in that good companyfor Claudiospoke insuch terms of Hero as made the prince guess at what waspassing inhis heart; and he liked it welland he said toClaudio:
"Doyou affect Hero?"
To thisquestion Claudio replied"O my lordwhen I was last atMessina Ilooked upon her with a soldier's eyethat likedbuthad noleisure for loving; but nowin this happy time of peacethoughtsof war have left their places vacant in my mindand intheir roomcome thronging soft and delicate thoughtsallpromptingme how fair young Hero isreminding me that I likedher beforeI went to the wars."
Claudio'sconfession of his love for Hero so wrought upon theprincethat be lost no time in soliciting the consent of Leonatoto acceptof Claudio for a son-in-law. Leonato agreed to thisproposaland the prince found no great difficulty in persuadingthe gentleHero herself to listen to the suit of the nobleClaudiowho was a lord of rare endowments and highlyaccomplishedand Claudioassisted by his kind princesoonprevailedupon Leonato to fix an early day for the celebration ofhismarriage with Hero.
Claudiowas to wait but a few days before he was to be married tohis fairlady; yet he complained of the interval being tediousas indeedmost young men are impatient when they are waiting fortheaccomplishment of any event they have set their hearts upon.Theprincethereforeto make the time seem short to himproposedas a kind of merry pastime that they should invent someartfulscheme to make Benedick and Beatrice fall in love witheachother. Claudio entered with great satisfaction into thiswhim ofthe princeand Leonato promised them his assistanceandeven Herosaid she would do any modest office to help her cousinto a goodhusband.
The devicethe prince invented was that the gentlemen should makeBenedickbelieve that Beatrice was in love with himand thatHeroshould make Beatrice believe that Benedick was in love withher.
TheprinceLeonatoand Claudio began their operations first;andwatching upon an opportunity when Benedick was quietly seatedreading inan arborthe prince and his assistants took theirstationamong the trees behind the arborso near that Benedickcould notchoose but hear all they said; and after some carelesstalk theprince said:
"ComehitherLeonato. What was it you told me the otherday--thatyour niece Beatrice was in love with Signor Benedick? Idid neverthink that lady would have loved any man."
"Nonor I neithermy lord" answered Leonato. "It is mostwonderfulthat she should so dote on Benedickwhom she in alloutwardbehavior seemed ever to dislike."
Claudioconfirmed all this with saying that Hero bad told himBeatricewas so in love with Benedick that she would certainlydie ofgrief if he could not be brought to love her; whichLeonatoand Claudio seemed to agree was impossiblehe havingalwaysbeen such a railer against all fair ladiesand inparticularagainst Beatrice.
The princeaffected to harken to all this with great compassionforBeatriceand he said"It were good that Benedick were toldof this."
"Towhat end?" said Claudio. "He would but make sport of itandtormentthe poor lady worse."
"Andif he should" said the prince"it were a good deed tohanghim; forBeatrice is an excellent sweet ladyand exceeding wiseineverything but in loving Benedick."
Then theprince motioned to his companions that they should walkon andleave Benedick to meditate upon what he had overheard.
Benedickhad been listening with great eagerness to thisconversation;and he said to himselfwhen be heard Beatriceloved him:"Is it possible? Sits the wind in that corner?" Andwhen theywere gonehe began to reason in this manner withhimself:"This can be no trick! They were very seriousand theyhave thetruth from Heroand seem to pity the lady. Love me!Whyitmust be requited! I did never think to marry. But when Isaid Ishould die a bachelorI did not think I should live tobemarried. They say the lady is virtuous and fair. She is so.And wisein everything but loving me. Whythat is no greatargumentof her folly! But here comes Beatrice. By this daysheis a fairlady. I do spy some marks of love in her."
Beatricenow approached him and saidwith her usual tartness"Againstmy will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner."
Benedickwho never felt himself disposed to speak so politely toherbeforereplied"Fair BeatriceI thank you for your pains."And whenBeatriceafter two or three more rude speecheslefthimBenedick thought he observed a concealed meaning of kindnessunder theuncivil words she utteredand he said aloud: "If I donot takepity on herI am a villain. If I do not love herI ama Jew. Iwill go get her picture."
Thegentleman being thus caught in the net they had spread forhimitwas now Hero's turn to play her part with Beatrice; andfor thispurpose she sent for Ursula and Margarettwogentlewomenwho attended upon herand she said to Margaret:
"GoodMargaretrun to the parlor; there you will find my cousinBeatricetalking with the prince and Claudio. Whisper in her earthat I andUrsula are walking in the orchard and that ourdiscourseis all of her. Bid her steal into that pleasant arborwherehoneysucklesripened by the sunlike ungrateful minionsforbid thesun to enter."
This arborinto which Hero desired Margaret to entice Beatricewas thevery same pleasant arbor where Benedick had so latelybeen anattentive listener.
"Iwill make her comeI warrantpresently" said Margaret.
Herothentaking Ursula with her into the orchardsaid to her:"NowUrsulawhen Beatrice comeswe will walk up and down thisalleyandour talk must be only of Benedickand when I namehimletit be your part to praise him more than ever man didmerit. Mytalk to you must be how Benedick is in love withBeatrice.Now begin; for look where Beatrice like a lapwing runsclose bythe groundto hear our conference."
They thenbeganHero saying'as if in answer to something whichUrsula hadsaid: "NotrulyUrsula. She is too disdainful; herspiritsare as coy as wild birds of the rock."
"Butare you sure" said Ursula"that Benedick loves Beatricesoentirely?"
Heroreplied"So says the prince and my lord Claudioand theyentreatedme to acquaint her with it; but I persuaded themifthey lovedBenedicknever to let Beatrice know of it."
"Certainly"replied Ursula"it were not good she knew his lovelest shemade sport of it."
"Whyto say truth" said Heronever yet saw a manhow wisesoeverornobleyoungor rarely featuredbut she woulddispraisehim."
"Suresuresuch carping is not commendable" said Ursula.
"No"replied Hero"but who dare tell her so? If I should speakshe wouldmock me into air."
"Ohyou wrong your cousin!" said Ursula. "She cannot be so muchwithouttrue judgment as to refuse so rare a gentleman as SignorBenedick."
"Hehath an excellent good name" said Hero. "Indeedhe is thefirst manin Italyalways excepting my dear Claudio."
And nowHero giving her attendant a hint that it was time tochange thediscourseUrsula said"And when are you to bemarriedmadam?"
Hero thentold her that she was to be married to Claudio the nextdayanddesired she would go in with her and look at some newattireasshe wished to consult with her on what she would wearon themorrow.
Beatricewho had been listening with breathless eagerness tothisdialoguewhen they went away exclaimed: "What fire is inmine ears?Can this be true? Farewellcontempt and scornandmaidenprideadieu! Benedicklove on! I will requite youtaming mywild heart to your loving hand."
It musthave been a pleasant sight to see these old enemiesconvertedinto new and loving friendsand to behold their firstmeetingafter being cheated into mutual liking by the merryartificeof the good-humored prince. But a sad reverse in thefortunesof Hero must now be thought of. The morrowwhich was tohave beenher wedding-daybrought sorrow on the heart of Heroand hergood fatherLeonato.
The princehad a half-brotherwho came from the wars along withhim toMessina. This brother (his name was Don John) was amelancholydiscontented manwhose spirits seemed to labor inthecontriving of villainies. He hated the prince his brotherand hehated Claudio because he was the prince's friendanddeterminedto prevent Claudio's marriage with Heroonly for themaliciouspleasure of making Claudio and the prince unhappyforhe knewthe prince had set his heart upon this marriage almost asmuch asClaudio himself; and to effect this wicked purpose heemployedone Borachioa man as bad as himselfwhom heencouragedwith the offer of a great reward. This Borachio paidhis courtto MargaretHero's attendant; and Don Johnknowingthisprevailed upon him to make Margaret promise to talk withhim fromher lady's chamber window that nightafter Hero wasasleepand also to dress herself in Hero's clothesthe betterto deceiveClaudio into the belief that it was Hero; for that wasthe end hemeant to compass by this wicked plot.
Don Johnthen went to the prince and Claudio and told them thatHero wasan imprudent ladyand that she talked with men from herchamberwindow at midnight. Now this was the evening before theweddingand he offered to take them that night where they shouldthemselveshear Hero discoursing with a man from her window; andtheyconsented to go along with himand Claudio said:
"If Isee anything to-night why I should not marry herto-morrowin thecongregationwhere I intended to wed herthere will Ishameher."
The princealso said"And as I assisted you to obtain herIwill joinwith you to disgrace her."
When DonJohn brought them near Hero's chamber that nighttheysawBorachio standing under the windowand they saw Margaretlookingout of Hero's window and heard her talking with Borachio;andMargaret being dressed in the same clothes they had seen Heroweartheprince and Claudio believed it was the lady Heroherself.
Nothingcould equal the anger of Claudio when he had made (as bethought)this discovery. All his love for the innocent Hero wasat onceconverted into hatredand he resolved to expose her inthechurchas he had said he wouldthe next day; and theprinceagreed to thisthinking no punishment could be too severefor thenaughty lady who talked with a man from her window thevery nightbefore she was going to be married to the nobleClaudio.
The nextdaywhen they were all met to celebrate the marriageandClaudio and Hero were standing before the priestand thepriestorfriaras he was calledwas proceeding to pronouncethemarriage ceremonyClaudioin the most passionate languageproclaimedthe guilt of the blameless Herowhoamazed at thestrangewords he utteredsaidmeekly:
"Ismy lord wellthat he does speak so wide?"
Leonatoin the utmost horrorsaid to the prince"My lordwhyspeak notyou?"
"Whatshould I speak?" said the prince. "I stand dishonored thathave goneabout to link my dear friend to an unworthy woman.Leonatoupon my honormyselfmy brotherand this grievedClaudiodid see and bear her last night at midnight talk with aman at herchamber window."
Benedickin astonishment at what he heardsaid"This looks notlike anuptial."
"TrueO God!" replied the heart-struck Hero; and then thishaplesslady sank down in a fainting fitto all appearance dead.
The princeand Claudio left the church without staying to see ifHero wouldrecoveror at all regarding the distress into whichthey hadthrown Leonato. So hard-hearted had their anger madethem.
Benedickremained and assisted Beatrice to recover Hero from herswoonsaying"How does the lady?"
"DeadI think" replied Beatricein great agonyfor she lovedhercousin; andknowing her virtuous principlesshe believednothing ofwhat she had heard spoken against her.
Not so thepoor old father. He believed the story of his child'sshameandit was piteous to hear him lamenting over heras shelay likeone dead before himwishing she might never more openher eyes.
But theancient friar was a wise man and full of observation onhumannatureand he had attentively marked the lady'scountenancewhen she heard herself accused and noted a thousandblushingshames to start into her faceand then he saw anangel-likewhiteness bear away those blushesand in her eye besaw a firethat did belie the error that the prince did speakagainsther maiden truthand he said to the sorrowing father:
"Callme a fool; trust not my reading nor my observation; trustnot myagemy reverencenor my callingif this sweet lady lienotguiltless here under some biting error."
When Herohad recovered from the swoon into which she had fallenthe friarsaid to her"Ladywhat man is he you are accused of?"
Heroreplied"They know that do accuse me; I know of none."Thenturning toLeonatoshe said"O my fatherif you can prove thatany manhas ever conversed with me at hours unmeetor that Iyesternightchanged words with any creaturerefuse mehate metorture meto death."
"Thereis" said the friar"some strange misunderstanding in theprince andClaudio." And then he counseled Leonato that he shouldreportthat Hero was dead; and he said that the deathlike swoonin whichthey had left Hero would make this easy of belief; andhe alsoadvised him that he should put on mourningand erect amonumentfor herand do all rites that appertain to a burial.
"Whatshall become of this?" said Leonato. "What will this do?"
The friarreplied: "This report of her death shall change slanderinto pity;that is some good. But that is not all the good 1 hopefor. WhenClaudio shall hear she died upon hearing his wordstheidea ofher life shall sweetly creep into his imagination. Thenshall hemournif ever love had interest in his heartand wishthat behad not so accused her; yeathough he thought hisaccusationtrue."
Benedicknow said"Leonatolet the friar advise you; and thoughyou knowhow well I love the prince and Claudioyet on my honorI will notreveal this secret to them."
Leonatothus persuadedyielded; and he saidsorrowfully"I amso grievedthat the smallest twine may lead me."
The kindfriar then led Leonato and Hero away to comfort andconsolethemand Beatrice and Benedick remained alone; and thiswas themeeting from which their friendswho contrived the merryplotagainst themexpected so much diversion; those friends whowere nowoverwhelmed with affliction and from whose minds allthoughtsof merriment seemed forever banished.
Benedickwas the first who spokeand he said"Lady Beatricehave youwept all this while?"
"Yeaand I will weep awhile longer" said Beatrice.
"Surely"said. Benedick"I do believe your fair cousin iswronged."
"Ah"said Beatrice"how much might that man deserve of me whowouldright her!"
Benedickthen said: "Is there any way to show such friendship? Ido lovenothing in the world so well as you. Is not thatstrange?"
"Itwere as possible" said Beatrice"for me to say I lovednothing inthe world so well as you; but believe me notand yetI lie not.I confess nothingnor I deny nothing. I am sorry formycousin."
"Bymy sword" said Benedick"you love meand I protest Iloveyou. Comebid me do anything for you."
"KillClaudio" said Beatrice.
"Ha!not for the world" said Benedick; for he loved his friendClaudioand he believed he had been imposed upon.
"Isnot Claudio a villain that has slanderedscornedanddishonoredmy cousin?" said Beatrice. "Ohthat I were a man!"
"HearmeBeatrice!" said Benedick.
ButBeatrice would hear nothing in Claudio's defenseand shecontinuedto urge on Benedick to revenge her cousin's wrongs; andshe said:"Talk with a man out of the window? a proper saying!SweetHero! she is wronged; she is slandered; she is undone. Ohthat Iwere a man for Claudio's sake! or that I had any friendwho wouldbe a man for my sake! But valor is melted intocourtesiesand compliments. I cannot be a man with wishingthereforeI will die a woman with grieving."
"Tarrygood Beatrice" said Benedick. "By this hand I love you."
"Useit for my love some other way than swearing by it" saidBeatrice.
"Thinkyou on your soul that Claudio has wronged Hero?" askedBenedick.
"Yea"answered Beatrice; CC as sure as I have a thought or asoul."
"Enough"said Benedick. "I am engaged; I will challenge him. Iwill kissyour handand so leave you. By this hand Claudio shallrender mea dear account! As you hear from meso think of me.Gocomfort your cousin."
WhileBeatrice was thus powerfully pleading with Benedickandworkinghis gallant temperby the spirit of her angry wordstoengage inthe cause of Hero and fight even with his dear friendClaudioLeonato was challenging the prince and Claudio to answerwith theirswords the injury they had done his childwhobeaffirmedhad died for grief. But they respected his age and hissorrowand they said:
"Naydo not quarrel with usgood old man."
And nowcame Benedickand be also challenged Claudio to answerwith hissword the injury be had done to Hero; and Claudio andthe princesaid to each other:
"Beatricehas set him on to do this."
Claudioneverthelessmust have accepted this challenge ofBenedickhad not the justice of Heaven at the moment brought topass abetter proof of the innocence of Hero than the uncertainfortune ofa duel.
While theprince and Claudio were yet talking of the challenge ofBenedick amagistrate brought Borachio as a prisoner before theprince.Borachio had been overheard talking with one of hiscompanionsof the mischief he had been employed by Don John todo.
Borachiomade a full confession to the prince in Claudio'sbearingthat it was Margaret dressed in her lady's clothes thathe hadtalked with from the windowwhom they had mistaken forthe ladyHero herself. and no doubt continued on the minds ofClaudioand the prince of the innocence of Hero. If a suspicionhadremained it must have been removed by the flight of Don Johnwhofinding his villainies were detectedfled from Messina toavoid thejust anger of his brother.
The heartof Claudio was sorely grieved when he found he badfalselyaccused Herowhohe thoughtdied upon bearing hiscruelwords; and the memory of his beloved Hero's image came overhim in therare semblance that he loved it first; and the princeasking himif what he heard did not run like iron through hissoulheanswered that he felt as if he had taken poison whileBorachiowas speaking.
And therepentant Claudio implored forgiveness of the old manLeonatofor the injury he had done his child; and promised thatwhateverpenance Leonato would lay upon him for his fault inbelievingthe false accusation against his betrothed wifeforher dearsake he would endure it.
Thepenance Leonato enjoined him was to marry the next morning acousin ofHero'swhohe saidwas now his heirand in personvery likeHero. Claudioregarding the solemn promise he made toLeonatosaid he would marry this unknown ladyeven though shewere anEthiop. But his heart was very sorrowfuland he passedthat nightin tears and in remorseful grief at the tomb whichLeonatohad erected for Hero.
When themorning came the prince accompanied Claudio to thechurchwhere the good friar and Leonato and his niece werealreadyassembledto celebrate a second nuptial; and Leonatopresentedto Claudio his promised bride. And she wore a maskthatClaudio might not discover her face. And Claudio said to thelady inthe mask:
"Giveme your handbefore this holy friar. I am your husbandifyou willmarry me."
"Andwhen I lived I was your other wife" said this unknownlady; andtaking off her maskshe proved to be no niece (as waspretended)but Leonato's very daughterthe lady Hero herself.We may besure that this proved a most agreeable surprise toClaudiowho thought her deadso that be could scarcely for joybelievehis eyes; and the princewho was equally amazed at whathe sawexclaimed:
"Isnot this HeroHero that was dead?"'
Leonatoreplied"She diedmy lordbut while her slanderlived."
The friarpromised them an explanation of this seeming miracleafter theceremony was endedand was proceeding to marry themwhen hewas interrupted by Benedickwho desired to be married atthe sametime to Beatrice. Beatrice making some demur to thismatchandBenedick challenging her with her love for himwhichhe hadlearned from Heroa pleasant explanation took place; andthey foundthey had both been tricked into a belief of lovewhich hadnever existedand had become lovers in truth by thepower of afalse jest. But the affection which a merry inventionhadcheated them into was grown too powerful to be shaken by aseriousexplanation; and since Benedick proposed to marryhe wasresolvedto think nothing to the purpose that the world could sayagainstit; and he merrily kept up the jest and swore to Beatricethat hetook her but for pityand because he heard she was dyingof lovefor him; and Beatrice protested that she yielded but upongreatpersuasionand partly to save his lifefor she heard hewas in aconsumption. So these two mad wits were reconciled andmade amatch of itafter Claudio and Hero were married; and tocompletethe historyDon Johnthe contriver of the villainywas takenin his flight and brought back to Messina; and abravepunishment it was to this gloomydiscontented man to seethe joyand feastings whichby the disappointment of his plotstookplace inthe palace in Messina.
During thetime that France was divided into provinces (ordukedomsas they were called) there reigned in one of theseprovincesa usurper who had deposed and banished his elderbrotherthe lawful duke.
The dukewho was thus driven from his dominions retired with afewfaithful followers to the forest of Arden; and here the goodduke livedwith his loving friendswho had put themselves into avoluntaryexile for his sakewhile their land and revenuesenrichedthe false usurper; and custom soon made the life ofcarelessease they led here more sweet to them than the pomp anduneasysplendor of a courtier's life. Here they lived like theold RobinHood of Englandand to this forest many noble youthsdailyresorted from the courtand did fleet the time carelesslyas theydid who lived in the golden age. In the summer they layalongunder the fine shade of the large forest treesmarking theplayfulsports of the wild deer; and so fond were they of thesepoordappled foolswho seemed to be the native inhabitants oftheforestthat it grieved them to be forced to kill them tosupplythemselves with venison for their food. When the coldwinds ofwinter made the duke feel the change of his adversefortunehe would endure it patientlyand say:
"Thesechilling winds which blow upon my body are truecounselors;they do not flatterbut represent truly to me mycondition;and though they bite sharplytheir tooth is nothinglike sokeen as that of unkindness and ingratitude. I find thathowsoevermen speak against adversityyet some sweet uses are tobeextracted from it; like the jewelprecious for medicinewhich istaken from the head of the venomous and despised toad."
In thismanner did the patient duke draw a useful moral fromeverythingthat he saw; and by the help of this moralizing turnin thatlife of hisremote from public hauntshe could findtongues intreesbooks in the running brookssermons in stonesand goodin everything.
Thebanished duke had an only daughternamed Rosalindwhom theusurperDuke Frederickwhen he banished her fatherstillretainedin his court as a companion for his own daughterCelia.A strictfriendship subsisted between these ladieswhich thedisagreementbetween their fathers did not in the leastinterruptCelia striving by every kindness in her power to makeamends toRosalind for the injustice of her own father indeposingthe father of Rosalind; and whenever the thoughts of herfather'sbanishmentand her own dependence on the false usurpermadeRosalind melancholyCelia's whole care was to comfort andconsoleher.
One daywhen Celia was talking in her usual kind manner toRosalindsaying"I pray youRosalindmy sweet cousinbemerry"a messenger entered from the duketo tell them that iftheywished to see a wrestling-matchwhich was just going tobeginthey must come instantly to the court before the palace;and Celiathinking it would amuse Rosalindagreed to go and seeit.
In thosetimes wrestlingwhich is only practised now by countryclownswas a favorite sport even in the courts of princesandbeforefair ladies and princesses. To this wrestling-matchthereforeCelia and Rosalind went. They found that it was likelyto prove avery tragical sight; for a large and powerful manwhohad beenlong practised in the art of wrestling and had slainmany menin contests of this kindwas just going to wrestle witha veryyoung manwhofrom his extreme youth and inexperience inthe artthe beholders all thought would certainly be killed.
When theduke saw Celia and Rosalind he said: "How nowdaughterand nieceare you crept hither to see the wrestling? You willtakelittle delight in itthere is such odds in the men. In pityto thisyoung manI would wish to persuade him from wrestling.Speak tohimladiesand see if you can move him."
The ladieswere well pleased to perform this humane officeandfirstCelia entreated the young stranger that he would desistfrom theattempt; and then Rosalind spoke so kindly to himandwith suchfeeling consideration for the danger he was about toundergothatinstead of being persuaded by her gentle words toforego hispurposeall his thoughts were bent to distinguishhimself byhis courage in this lovely lady's eyes. He refused therequest ofCelia and Rosalind in such graceful and modest wordsthat theyfelt still more concern for him; he concluded hisrefusalwith saying:
"I amsorry to deny such fair and excellent ladies anything. Butlet yourfair eyes and gentle wishes go with me to my trialwherein ifI be conquered there is one shamed that was nevergracious;if I am killedthere is one dead that is willing todie. Ishall do my friends no wrongfor I have none to lamentme; theworld no injuryfor in it I have nothing; for I onlyfill up aplace in the world which may be better supplied when Ihave madeit empty."
And nowthe wrestling-match began. Celia wished the youngstrangermight not be hurt; but Rosalind felt most for him. Thefriendlessstate which he said he was inand that he wished todiemadeRosalind think that he waslike herselfunfortunate;and shepitied him so muchand so deep an interest she took inhis dangerwhile he was wrestlingthat she might almost be saidat thatmoment to have fallen in love with him.
Thekindness shown this unknown youth by these fair and nobleladiesgave him courage and strengthso that he performedwonders;and in the end completely conquered his antagonistwhowas somuch hurt that for a while he was unable to speak or move.
The DukeFrederick was much pleased with the courage and skillshown bythis young stranger; and desired to know his name andparentagemeaning to take him under his protection.
Thestranger said his name was Orlandoand that he was theyoungestson of Sir Rowland de Boys.
SirRowland de Boysthe father of Orlandohad been dead someyears; butwhen he was living he had been a true subject and dearfriend ofthe banished duke; thereforewhen Frederick heardOrlandowas the son of his banished brother's friendall hisliking forthis brave young man was changed into displeasure andhe leftthe place in very ill humor. Hating to bear the very nameof any ofhis brother's friendsand yet still admiring the valorof theyouthhe saidas he went outthat he wished Orlando hadbeen theson of any other man.
Rosalindwas delighted to hear that her new favorite was the sonof herfather's old friend; and she said to Celia"My fatherloved SirRowland de Boysand if I had known this young man washis son Iwould have added tears to my entreaties before heshouldhave ventured."
The ladiesthen went up to him andseeing him abashed by thesuddendispleasure shown by the dukethey spoke kind andencouragingwords to him; and Rosalindwhen they were goingawayturned back to speak some more civil things to the braveyoung sonof her father's old friendand taking a chain from offher neckshe said:
"Gentlemanwear this for me. I am out of suits with fortuneorI wouldgive you a more valuable present."
When theladies were aloneRosalind's talk being still ofOrlandoCelia began to perceive her cousin had fallen in lovewith thehandsome young wrestlerand she said to Rosalind:
"Isit possible you should fall in love so suddenly?"
Rosalindreplied"The dukemy fatherloved his father dearly."
"But"said Celia"does it therefore follow that you should lovehis sondearly?. For then I ought to hate himfor my fatherhated hisfather; yet do not hate Orlando."
Frederickbeing enraged at the sight of Sir Rowland de Boys'ssonwhichreminded him of the many friends the banished duke hadamong thenobilityand having been for some time displeased withhis niecebecause the people praised her for her virtues andpitied herfor her good father's sakehis malice suddenly brokeoutagainst her; and while Celia and Rosalind were talking ofOrlandoFrederick entered the room and with looks full of angerorderedRosalind instantly to leave the palace and follow herfatherinto banishmenttelling Celiawho in vain pleaded forherthathe had only suffered Rosalind to stay upon her account.
"Idid not then" said Celia"entreat you to let her stayfor Iwas tooyoung at that time to value her; but now that I know herworthandthat we so long have slept togetherrose at the sameinstantlearnedplayedand eat togetherI cannot live out ofhercompany."
Frederickreplied: "She is too subtle for you; her smoothnessher verysilenceand her patience speak to the peopleand theypity her.You are a fool to plead for herfor you will seem morebright andvirtuous when she is gone; therefore open not yourlips inher favorfor the doom which I have passed upon her isirrevocable."
When Celiafound she could not prevail upon her father to letRosalindremain with hershe generously resolved to accompanyher; andleaving her father's palace that nightshe went alongwith herfriend to seek Rosalind's fatherthe banished dukeinthe forestof Arden.
Beforethey set out Celia considered that it would be unsafe fortwo youngladies to travel in the rich clothes they then wore;shetherefore proposed that they should disguise their rank bydressingthemselves like country maids. Rosalind said it would bea stillgreater protection if one of them was to be dressed likea man. Andso it was quickly agreed on between them thatasRosalindwas the tallestshe should wear the dress of a youngcountrymanand Celia should be habited like a country lassandthat theyshould say they were brother and sister; and Rosalindsaid shewould be called Ganymedeand Celia chose the name ofAliena.
In thisdisguiseand taking their money and jewels to defraytheirexpensesthese fair princesses set out on their longtravel;for the forest of Arden was a long way offbeyond theboundariesof the duke's dominions.
The ladyRosalind (or Ganymedeas she must now be called) withher manlygarb seemed to have put on a manly courage. Thefaithfulfriendship Celia had shown in accompanying Rosalind somany wearymiles made the new brotherin recompense for thistrue loveexert a cheerful spiritas if he were indeedGanymedethe rustic and stout-hearted brother of the gentlevillagemaidenAliena.
When atlast they came to the forest of Arden they no longerfound theconvenient inns and good accommodations they had metwith onthe roadandbeing in want of food and restGanymedewho had somerrily cheered his sister with pleasant speeches andhappyremarks all the waynow owned to Aliena that he was soweary hecould find in his heart to disgrace his man's appareland crylike a woman; and Aliena declared she could go nofarther;and then again Ganymede tried to recollect that it was aman's dutyto comfort and console a womanas the weaker vessel;and toseem courageous to his new sisterhe said:
"Comehave a good heartmy sister Aliena. We are now at the endof ourtravelin the forest of Arden."
Butfeigned manliness and forced courage would no longer supportthem; forthough they were in the forest of Ardenthey knew notwhere tofind the duke. And here the travel of these weary ladiesmight havecome to a sad conclusionfor they might have lostthemselvesand perished for want of foodbutprovidentiallyasthey weresitting on the grassalmost dying with fatigue andhopelessof any reliefa countryman chanced to pass that wayandGanymede once more tried to speak with a manly boldnesssaying:
"Shepherdif love or gold can in this desert place procure usentertainmentI pray you bring us where we may rest ourselves;for thisyoung maidmy sisteris much fatigued with travelingand faintsfor want of food."
The manreplied that he was only a servant to a shepherdandthat hismaster's house was just going to be soldand thereforethey wouldfind but poor entertainment; but that if they would gowith himthey should be welcome to what there was. They followedthe manthe near prospect of relief giving them fresh strengthand boughtthe house and sheep of the shepherdand took the manwhoconducted them to the shepherd's house to wait on them; andbeing bythis means so fortunately provided with a neat cottageand wellsupplied with provisionsthey agreed to stay here tillthey couldlearn in what part of the forest the duke dwelt.
When theywere rested after the fatigue of their journeytheybegan tolike their new way of lifeand almost fanciedthemselvesthe shepherd and shepherdess they feigned to be. YetsometimesGanymede remembered be had once been the same LadyRosalindwho had so dearly loved the brave Orlando because be wasthe son ofold Sir Rowlandher father's friend; and thoughGanymedethought that Orlando was many miles distanteven somany wearymiles as they had traveledyet it soon appeared thatOrlandowas also in the forest of Arden. And in this manner thisstrangeevent came to pass.
Orlandowas the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boyswhowhen hediedlefthim (Orlando being then very young) to the care of hiseldestbrotherOlivercharging Oliver on his blessing to givehisbrother a good education and provide for him as became thedignity oftheir ancient house. Oliver proved an unworthybrotheranddisregarding the commands of his dying fatherhenever puthis brother to schoolbut kept him at home untaughtandentirely neglected. But in his nature and in the noblequalitiesof his mind Orlando so much resembled his excellentfatherthatwithout any advantages of educationhe seemed likea youthwho had been bred with the utmost care; and Oliver soenvied thefine person and dignified manners of his untutoredbrotherthat at last he wished to destroy himand to effect thisbe set onpeople to persuade him to wrestle with the famouswrestlerwhoas has been before relatedhad killed so many men.Now it wasthis cruel brother's neglect of him which made Orlandosay hewished to diebeing so friendless.
Whencontrary to the wicked hopes he had formedhis brotherprovedvictorioushis envy and malice knew no boundsand heswore hewould burn the chamber where Orlando slept. He wasoverheardmaking his vow by one that had been an old and faithfulservant totheir fatherand that loved Orlando because heresembledSir Rowland. This old man went out to meet him when hereturnedfrom the duke's palaceand when he saw Orlando theperil hisdear young master was in made him break out into thesepassionateexclamations:
"O mygentle mastermy sweet master! O you memory of Old SirRowland!Why are you virtuous? Why are you gentlestrongandvaliant?And why would you be so fond to overcome the famouswrestler?Your praise is come too swiftly home before you."
Orlandowondering what all this meantasked him what was thematter.And then the old man told him how his wicked brotherenvyingthe love all people bore himand now hearing the fame hehad gainedby his victory in the duke's palaceintended todestroyhim by setting fire to his chamber that nightand inconclusionadvised him to escape the danger he was in byinstantflight; and knowing Orlando had no moneyAdam (for thatwas thegood old man's name) had brought out with him his ownlittlehoardand he said:
"Ihave five hundred crownsthe thrifty hire I saved under yourfather andlaid by to be provision for me when my old limbsshouldbecome unfit for service. Take thatand He that doth theravensfeed be comfort to my age! Here is the gold. All this Igive toyou. Let me be your servant; though I look old I will dotheservice of a younger man in all your business andnecessities."
"Ogood old man!" said Orlando"how well appears in you theconstantservice of the old world! You are not for the fashion ofthesetimes. We will go along togetherand before your youthfulwages arespent I shall light upon some means for both ourmaintenance."
Togetherthenthis faithful servant and his loved master setout; andOrlando and Adam traveled onuncertain what course topursuetill they came to the forest of Ardenand there theyfoundthemselves in the same distress for want of food thatGanymedeand Aliena had been. They wandered onseeking somehumanhabitationtill they were almost spent with hunger andfatigue.
Adam atlast said: "O my dear masterI die for want of food. Ican go nofarther!" He then laid himself downthinking to makethat placehis graveand bade his dear master farewell.
Orlandoseeing him in this weak statetook his old servant upin hisarms and carried him under the shelter of some pleasanttrees; andhe said to him: "Cheerlyold Adam. Rest your wearylimbs hereawhileand do not talk of dying!"
Orlandothen searched about to find some foodand he happened toarrive atthat part of the forest where the duke was; and he andhisfriends were just going to eat their dinnerthis royal dukebeingseated on the grassunder no other canopy than the shadycovert ofsome large trees.
Orlandowhom hunger had made desperatedrew his swordintendingto take their meat by forceand said: "Forbear and eatno more. Imust have your food!"
The dukeasked him if distress had made him so bold or if he werea rudedespiser of good manners. On this Orlando said he wasdying withhunger; and then the duke told him he was welcome tosit downand eat with them. Orlandohearing him speak so gentlyput up hissword and blushed with shame at the rude manner inwhich hehad demanded their food.
"PardonmeI pray you" said he. "I thought that all things hadbeensavage hereand therefore I put on the countenance of sterncommand;but whatever men you are that in this desertunder theshade ofmelancholy boughslose and neglect the creeping hoursof timeif ever you have looked on better daysif ever you havebeen wherebells have knolled to churchif you have ever sat atany goodman's feastif ever from your eyelids you have wiped atear andknow what it is to pity or be pitiedmay gentlespeechesnow move you to do me human courtesy!"
The dukereplied: "True it is that we are men (as you say) whohave seenbetter daysand though we have now our habitation inthis wildforestwe have lived in towns and cities and have withholy bellbeen knolled to churchhave sat at good men's feastsand fromour eyes have wiped the drops which sacred pity hasengendered;therefore sit you down and take of our refreshment asmuch aswill minister to your wants."
"Thereis an old poor man" answered Orlando"who has limpedafter memany a weary step in pure loveoppressed at once withtwo sadinfirmitiesage and hunger; till he be satisfied I mustnot toucha bit."
"Gofind him out and bring him hither" said the duke. "We willforbear toeat till you return."
ThenOrlando went like a doe to find its fawn and give it food;andpresently returnedbringing Adam in his arms.
And theduke said"Set down your venerable burthen; you are bothwelcome."
And theyfed the old man and cheered his heartand he revivedandrecovered his health and strength again.
The dukeinquired who Orlando was; and when he found that he wasthe son ofhis old friendSir Rowland de Boysbe took him underhisprotectionand Orlando and his old servant lived with theduke inthe forest.
Orlandoarrived in the forest not many days after Ganymede andAlienacame there and (as has been before related) bought theshepherd'scottage.
Ganymedeand Aliena were strangely surprised to find the name ofRosalindcarved on the treesand love-sonnets fastened to themalladdressed to Rosalind; and while they were wondering how thiscould bethey met Orlando and they perceived the chain whichRosalindhad given him about his neck.
Orlandolittle thought that Ganymede was the fair PrincessRosalindwhoby her noble condescension and favorhad so wonhis heartthat he passed his whole time in carving her name uponthe treesand writing sonnets in praise of her beauty; but beingmuchpleased with the graceful air of this pretty shepherd-youthhe enteredinto conversation with himand be thought he saw alikenessin Ganymede to his beloved Rosalindbut that he hadnone ofthe dignified deportment of that noble lady; for Ganymedeassumedthe forward manners often seen in youths when they arebetweenboys and men-and with much archness and humor talked toOrlando ofa certain lover"who" said she"haunts our forestand spoilsour young trees with carving Rosalind upon theirbarks; andhe hangs odes upon hawthornsand elegies on bramblesallpraising this same Rosalind. If I could find this loverIwould givehim some good counsel that would soon cure him of hislove."
Orlandoconfessed that he was the fond lover of whom he spokeand askedGanymede to give him the good counsel he talked Of. TheremedyGanymede proposedand the counsel he gave him was thatOrlandoshould come every day to the cottage where he and hissisterAliena dwelt.
"Andthen" said Ganymede"I will feign myself to be Rosalindand youshall feign to court me in the same manner as you woulddo if Iwas Rosalindand then I will imitate the fantastic waysofwhimsical ladies to their loverstill I make you ashamed ofyour love;and this is the way I propose to cure you."
Orlandohad no great faith in the remedyyet he agreed to comeevery dayto Ganymede's cottage and feign a playful courtship;and everyday Orlando visited Ganymede and Alienaand Orlandocalled theshepherd Ganymede his Rosalindand every day talkedover allthe fine words and flattering compliments which youngmendelight to use when they court their mistresses. It does notappearhoweverthat Ganymede made any progress in curingOrlando ofhis love for Rosalind.
ThoughOrlando thought all this was but a sportive play (notdreamingthat Ganymede was his very Rosalind)yet theopportunityit gave him of saying all the fond things he had inhis heartpleased his fancy almost as well as it did Ganymede'swhoenjoyed the secret jest in knowing these fine love-speecheswere alladdressed to the right person.
In thismanner many days passed pleasantly on with these youngpeople;and the good-natured Alienaseeing it made Ganymedehappylethim have his own way and was diverted at themock-courtshipand did not care to remind Ganymede that the LadyRosalindhad not yet made herself known to the duke her fatherwhoseplace of resort in the forest they had learned fromOrlando.Ganymede met the duke one dayand had some talk withhimandthe duke asked of what parentage he came. Ganymedeansweredthat he came of as good parentage as he didwhich madethe dukesmilefor he did not suspect the pretty shepherd-boycame ofroyal lineage. Then seeing the duke look well and happyGanymedewas content to put off all further explanation for a fewdayslonger.
Onemorningas Orlando was going to visit Ganymedehe saw a manlyingasleep on the groundand a large green snake had twisteditselfabout his neck. The snakeseeing Orlando approachglidedaway amongthe bushes. Orlando went nearerand then hediscovereda lioness lie crouchingwith her head on the groundwith acatlike watchwaiting until the sleeping man awaked (forit is saidthat lions will prey on nothing that is dead orsleeping).It seemed as if Orlando was sent by Providence to freethe manfrom the danger of the snake and lioness; but whenOrlandolooked in the man's face he perceived that the sleeperwho wasexposed to this double peril was his own brother Oliverwho had socruelly used him and had threatened to destroy him byfireandhe was almost tempted to leave him a prey to the hungrylioness;but brotherly affection and the gentleness of his naturesoonovercame his first anger against his brother; and he drewhis swordand attacked the lioness and slew herand thuspreservedhis brother's life both from the venomous snake andfrom thefurious lioness; but before Orlando could conquer thelionessshe had torn one of his arms with her sharp claws.
WhileOrlando was engaged with the lionessOliver awakedandperceivingthat his brother Orlandowhom he had so cruellytreatedwas saving him from the fury of a wild beast at the riskof his ownlifeshame and remorse at once seized himand herepentedof his unworthy conduct and besought with many tears hisbrother'spardon for the injuries he had done him. Orlandorejoicedto see him so penitentand readily forgave him. Theyembracedeach other and from that hour Oliver loved Orlando witha truebrotherly affectionthough he had come to the forest benton hisdestruction.
The woundin Orlando's arm having bled very muchhe foundhimselftoo weak to go to visit Ganymedeand therefore hedesiredhis brother to go and tell Ganymede"whom" saidOrlando"I in sport do call my Rosalind" the accident which hadbefallenhim.
Thitherthen Oliver wentand told to Ganymede and Aliena howOrlandohad saved his life; and when he had finished the story ofOrlando'sbravery and his own providential escape he owned tothem thathe was Orlando's brother who had so cruelly used him;and thenbe told them of their reconciliation.
Thesincere sorrow that Oliver expressed for his offenses madesuch alively impression on the kind heart of Aliena that sheinstantlyfell in love with him; and Oliver observing how muchshe pitiedthe distress he told her he felt for his faulthe assuddenlyfell in love with her. But while love was thus stealinginto thehearts of Aliena and Oliverhe was no less busy withGanymedewhohearing of the danger Orlando had been inandthat hewas wounded by the lionessfainted; and when herecoveredhe pretended that he had counterfeited the swoon in theimaginarycharacter of Rosalindand Ganymede said to Oliver:
"Tellyour brother Orlando how well I counterfeited a swoon."
But Oliversaw by the paleness of his complexion that he didreallyfaintandmuch wondering at the weakness of the youngmanhesaid"Wellif you did counterfeittake a good heartandcounterfeit to be a man."
"So Ido" replied Ganymedetruly"but I should have been awoman byright."
Olivermade this visit a very long oneand when at last hereturnedback to his brother he had much news to tell him; forbesidesthe account of Ganymede's fainting at the hearing thatOrlandowas woundedOliver told him how he had fallen in lovewith thefair shepherdess Alienaand that she had lent afavorableear to his suiteven in this their first interview;and hetalked to his brotheras of a thing almost settledthathe shouldmarry Alienasaying that he so well loved her that hewould livehere as a shepherd and settle his estate and house athome uponOrlando.
"Youhave my consent" said Orlando. "Let your wedding beto-morrowand I will invite the duke and his friends. Goandpersuade your shepherdess to agree to this. She is now aloneforlookhere comes her brother."
Oliverwent to Alienaand Ganymedewhom Orlando had perceivedapproachingcame to inquire after the health of his woundedfriend.
WhenOrlando and Ganymede began to talk over the sudden lovewhich hadtaken place between Oliver and. AlienaOrlando said behadadvised his brother to persuade his fair shepherdess to bemarried onthe morrowand then he added how much he could wishto bemarried on the same day to his Rosalind.
Ganymedewho well approved of this arrangementsaid that ifOrlandoreally loved Rosalind as well as he professed to doheshouldhave his wish; for on the morrow he would engage to makeRosalindappear in her own personand also that Rosalind shouldbe willingto marry Orlando.
Thisseemingly wonderful eventwhichas Ganymede was the LadyRosalindhe could so easily performbe pretended he would bringto pass bythe aid of magicwhich he said he had learned of anuncle whowas a famous magician.
The fondlover Orlandohalf believing and half doubting what heheardasked Ganymede if he spoke in sober meaning.
"Bymy life I do" said Ganymede. "Therefore put on your bestclothesand bid the duke and your friends to your weddingforif youdesire to be married to-morrow to Rosalindshe shall behere."
The nextmorningOliver having obtained the consent of Alienathey cameinto the presence of the dukeand with them also cameOrlando.
They beingall assembled to celebrate this double marriageandas yetonly one of the brides appearingthere was much ofwonderingand conjecturebut they mostly thought that Ganymedewas makinga jest of Orlando.
The dukehearing that it was his own daughter that was to bebrought inthis strange wayasked Orlando if he believed theshepherd-boycould really do what he had promised; and whileOrlandowas answering that he knew not what to thinkGanymedeenteredand asked the dukeif he brought his daughterwhetherhe wouldconsent to her marriage with Orlando.
"ThatI would" said the duke"if I had kingdoms to give withher."
Ganymedethen said to Orlando"And you say you will marry her ifI bringher here."
"ThatI would" said Orlando"if I were king of many kingdoms."
Ganymedeand Aliena then went out togetherandGanymedethrowingoff his male attireand being once more dressed inwoman'sapparelquickly became Rosalind without the power ofmagic; andAlienachanging her country garb for her own richclotheswas with as little trouble transformed into the ladyCelia.
While theywere gonethe duke said to Orlando that he thoughttheshepherd Ganymede very like his daughter Rosalind; andOrlandosaid he also had observed the resemblance.
They hadno time to wonder how all this would endfor Rosalindand Celiain their own clothesenteredandno longerpretendingthat it was by the power of magic that she came thereRosalindthrew herself on her knees before her father and beggedhisblessing. It seemed so wonderful to all present that sheshould sosuddenly appearthat it might well have passed formagic; butRosalind would no longer trifle with her fatherandtold himthe story of her banishmentand of her dwelling in theforest asa shepherd-boyher cousin Celia passing as her sister.
The dukeratified the consent he had already given to themarriage;and Orlando and RosalindOliver and Celiaweremarried atthe same time. And though their wedding could not becelebratedin this wild forest with any of the parade of splendorusual onsuch occasionsyet a happier wedding-day was neverpassed.And while they were eating their venison under the coolshade ofthe pleasant treesas if nothing should be wanting tocompletethe felicity of this good duke and the true loversanunexpectedmessenger arrived to tell the duke the joyful newsthat hisdukedom was restored to him.
Theusurperenraged at the flight of his daughter Celiaandhearingthat every day men of great worth resorted to the forestof Ardento join the lawful duke in his exilemuch envying thathisbrother should be so highly respected in his adversityputhimself atthe head of a large force and advanced toward theforestintending to seize his brother and put him with all hisfaithfulfollowers to the sword; but by a wonderful interpositionofProvidence this bad brother was converted from his evilintentionfor just as he entered the skirts of the wild foresthe was metby an old religious mana hermitwith whom he hadmuch talkand who in the end completely turned his heart from hiswickeddesign. Thenceforward he became a true penitentandresolvedrelinquishing his unjust dominionto spend theremainderof his days in a religious house. The first act of hisnewlyconceived penitence was to send a messenger to his brother(as hasbeen related) to offer to restore to him his dukedomwhich behad usurped so longand with it the lands and revenuesof hisfriendsthe faithful followers of his adversity.
Thisjoyful newsas unexpected as it was welcomecameopportunelyto heighten the festivity and rejoicings at thewedding ofthe princesses. Celia complimented her cousin on thisgoodfortune which had happened to the dukeRosalind's fatherand wishedher joy very sincerelythough she herself was nolongerheir to the dukedombut by this restoration which herfather hadmadeRosalind was now the heirso completely was thelove ofthese two cousins unmixed with anything of jealousy or ofenvy.
The dukehad now an opportunity of rewarding those true friendswho hadstayed with him in his banishment; and these worthyfollowersthough they had patiently shared his adverse fortunewere verywell pleased to return in peace and prosperityto thepalace oftheir lawful duke.
Therelived in the city of Verona two young gentlemenwhosenames wereValentine and Proteusbetween whom a firm anduninterruptedfriendship had long subsisted. They pursued theirstudiestogetherand their hours of leisure were always passedin eachother's companyexcept when Proteus visited a lady hewas inlove with. And these visits to his mistressand thispassion ofProteus for the fair Juliawere the only topics onwhichthese two friends disagreed; for Valentinenot beinghimself aloverwas sometimes a little weary of bearing hisfriendforever talking of his Juliaand then he would laugh atProteusand in pleasant terms ridicule the passion of loveanddeclarethat no such idle fancies should ever enter his headgreatlypreferring (as he said) the free and happy life he led totheanxious hopes and fears of the lover Proteus.
Onemorning Valentine came to Proteus to tell him that they mustfor a timebe separatedfor that he was going to Milan. Proteusunwillingto part with his friendused many arguments to prevailuponValentine not to leave him. But Valentine said:
"Ceaseto persuade memy loving Proteus. I will notlike asluggardwear out my youth in idleness at home. Home-keepingyouthshave ever homely wits. If your affection were not chainedto thesweet glances of your honored JuliaI would entreat youtoaccompany meto see the wonders of the world abroad; butsince youare a loverlove on stilland may your love beprosperous!"
Theyparted with mutual expressions of unalterable friendship.
"SweetValentineadieu!" said Proteus. "Think on me when you seesome rareobject worthy of notice in your travelsand wish mepartakerof your happiness."
Valentinebegan his journey that same day toward Milan; and whenhis friendhad left himProteus sat down to write a letter toJuliawhich he gave to her maid Lucetta to deliver to hermistress.
Julialoved Proteus as well as he did herbut she was a lady ofa noblespiritand she thought it did not become her maidendignitytoo easily to be won; therefore she affected to beinsensibleof his passion and gave him much uneasiness in theprosecutionof his suit.
And whenLucettaoffered the letter to Julia she would notreceiveitand chid her maid for taking letters from Proteusandordered her to leave the room. But she so much wished to seewhat waswritten in the letter that she soon called in her maidagain; andwhen Lucetta returned she said"What o'clock is it?"
Lucettawho knew her mistress more desired to see the letterthan toknow the time of daywithout answering her questionagainoffered the rejected letter. Juliaangry that her maidshouldthus take the liberty of seeming to know what she reallywantedtore the letter in pieces and threw it on the floororderingher maid once more out of the room. As Lucetta wasretiringshe stopped to pick up the fragments of the tornletter;but Juliawho meant not so to part with themsaidinpretendedanger"Goget you goneand let the papers lie; youwould befingering them to anger me."
Julia thenbegan to piece together as well as she could the tornfragments.She first made out these words"Love-woundedProteus";and lamenting over these and such like loving wordswhich shemade out though they were all torn asunderorshesaidWOUNDED (the expression "Love-wounded Proteus" giving herthatidea)she talked to these kind wordstelling them shewouldlodge them in her bosom as in a bedtill their wounds werehealedand that she would kiss each several piece to makeamends.
In thismanner she went on talking with a prettyladylikechildishnesstillfinding herself unable to make out the wholeand vexedat her own ingratitude in destroying such sweet andlovingwordsas she called themshe wrote a much kinder letterto Proteusthan she had ever done before.
Proteuswas greatly delighted at receiving this favorable answerto hisletter. And while he was reading it he exclaimed"Sweetlove!sweet lines! sweet life!"
In themidst of his raptures he was interrupted by his father."Hownow?" said the old gentleman. "What letter are you readingthere?"
"Mylord" replied Proteus"it is a letter from my friendValentineat Milan."
"Lendme the letter" said his father. "Let me see what news."
"Thereis no newsmy lord" said Proteusgreatly alarmed"butthat hewrites how well beloved he is of the Duke of Milanwhodailygraces him with favorsand how he wishes me with himthepartner ofhis fortune."
"Andhow stand you affected to his wish?" asked the father.
"Asone relying on your lordship's will and not depending on hisfriendlywish" said Proteus.
Now it hadhappened that Proteus's father had just been talkingwith afriend on this very subject. His friend had said hewonderedhis lordship suffered his son to spend his youth at homewhile mostmen were sending their sons to seek preferment abroad.
"Some"said he"to the warsto try their fortunes thereandsome todiscover islands far awayand some to study in foreignuniversities.And there is his companion Valentine; he is gone tothe Dukeof Milan's court. Your son is fit for any of thesethingsand it will be a great disadvantage to him in his riperage not tohave traveled in his youth."
Proteus'sfather thought the advice of his friend was very goodand uponProteus telling him that Valentine "wished him with himthepartner of his fortune" he at once determined to send hisson toMilan; and without giving Proteus any reason for thissuddenresolutionit being the usual habit of this positive oldgentlemanto command his sonnot reason with himhe said:
"Mywill is the same as Valentine's wish." And seeing his sonlookastonishedhe added: "Look not amazedthat I so suddenlyresolveyou shall spend some time in the Duke of Milan's court;for what Iwill I willand there is an end. Tomorrow be inreadinessto go. Make no excusesfor I am peremptory."
Proteusknew it was of no use to make objections to his fatherwho neversuffered him to dispute his will; and he blamed himselffortelling his father an untruth about Julia's letterwhich hadbroughtupon him the sad necessity of leaving her.
Now thatJulia found she was going to lose Proteus for so long atime sheno longer pretended indifference; and they bade eachother amournful farewellwith many vows of love and constancy.Proteusand Julia exchanged ringswhich they both promised tokeepforever in remembrance of each other; and thustaking asorrowfulleaveProteus set out on his journey to Milantheabode ofhis friend Valentine.
Valentinewas in realitywhat Proteus had feigned to his fatherin highfavor with the Duke of Milan; and another event hadhappenedto him of which Proteus did not even dreamforValentinehad given up the freedom of which he used so much toboastandwas become as passionate a lover as Proteus.
She whohad wrought this wondrous change in Valentine was theLadySilviadaughter of the Duke of Milanand she also lovedhim; butthey concealed their love from the dukebecausealthoughhe showed much kindness for Valentine and invited himevery dayto his palaceyet he designed to marry his daughter toa youngcourtier whose name was Thurio. Silvia despised thisThuriofor he had none of the fine sense and excellent qualitiesofValentine.
These tworivalsThurio and Valentinewere one day on a visitto Silviaand Valentine was entertaining Silvia with turningeverythingThurio said into ridiculewhen the duke himselfenteredthe room and told Valentine the welcome news of hisfriendProteus's arrival.
Valentinesaid"If I had wished a thingit would have been tohave seenhim here!" And then he highly praised Proteus to thedukesaying"My lordthough I have been a truant of my timeyet hathmy friend made use and fair advantage of his daysandiscomplete in person and in mindin all good grace to grace agentleman."
"Welcomehimthenaccording to his worth" said the duke."SilviaI speak to youand youSir Thurio; for ValentineIneed notbid him do so."
They werehere interrupted by the entrance of ProteusandValentineintroduced him to Silviasaying"Sweet ladyentertainhim to be my fellow-servant to your ladyship."
WhenValentine and Proteus had ended their visitand were alonetogetherValentine said:
"Nowtell me how all does from whence you came? How does yourladyandhow thrives your love?"
Proteusreplied: "My tales of love used to weary you. I know youjoy not ina love discourse."
"AyeProteus" returned Valentine"but that life is alterednow. Ihave done penance for condemning love. For in revenge ofmycontempt of lovelove has chased sleep from my enthralledeyes. Ogentle ProteusLove is a mighty lordand hath sohumbled methat I confess there is no woe like his correction norno suchjoy on earth as in his service. I now like no discourseexcept itbe of love. Now I can break my fastdinesupandsleep uponthe very name of love."
Thisacknowledgment of the change which love had made inthedispositionof Valentine was a great triumph to his friendProteus.But "friend" Proteus must be called no longerfor thesameall-powerful deity Loveof whom they were speaking (yeaeven whilethey were talking of the change he had made inValentine)was working in the heart of Proteus; and hewho hadtill thistime been a pattern of true love and perfectfriendshipwas nowin one short interview with Silviabecome afalsefriend and a faithless lover; for at the first sight ofSilvia allhis love for Julia vanished away like a dreamnor didhis longfriendship for Valentine deter him from endeavoring tosupplanthim in her affections; and althoughas it will alwaysbewhenpeople of dispositions naturally good become unjustbebad manyscruples before he determined to forsake Julia andbecome therival of Valentineyet be at length overcame hissense ofduty and yielded himself upalmost without remorsetohis newunhappy passion.
Valentineimparted to him in confidence the whole history of hisloveandhow carefully they had concealed it from the duke herfatherand told him thatdespairing of ever being able toobtain hisconsenthe had prevailed upon Silvia to leave herfather'spalace that night and go with him to Mantua; then heshowedProteus a ladder of ropes by help of which he meant toassistSilvia to get out of one of the windows of the palaceafter itwas dark.
Uponhearing this faithful recital of his friend's dearestsecretsit is hardly possible to be believedbut so it was thatProteusresolved to go to the duke and disclose the whole to him.
This falsefriend began his tale with many artful speeches to thedukesuchas that by the laws of friendship he ought to concealwhat hewas going to revealbut that the gracious favor the dukehad shownhimand the duty he owed his graceurged him to tellthat whichelse no worldly good should draw from him. He thentold allhe had heard from Valentinenot omitting the ladder ofropes andthe manner in which Valentine meant to conceal themunder along cloak.
The dukethought Proteus quite a miracle of integrityin that hepreferredtelling his friend's intention rather than he wouldconceal anunjust action; highly commended himand promised himnot to letValentine know from whom he had learned thisintelligencebut by some artifice to make Valentine betray thesecrethimself. For this purpose the duke awaited the coming ofValentinein the eveningwhom he soon saw hurrying toward thepalaceand he perceived somewhat was wrapped within his cloakwhich heconcluded was the rope ladder.
The dukeupon thisstopped himsaying"Whither away so fastValentine?"
"Mayit please your grace" said Valentine"there is amessengerthat staysto bear my letters to my friendsand I am going todeliverthem."
Now thisfalsehood of Valentine's had no better success in theevent thanthe untruth Proteus told his father.
"Bethey of much import?" said the duke.
"Nomoremy lord" said Valentine"than to tell my father Iamwell andhappy at your grace's court."
"Naythen" said the duke"no matter; stay with me awhile. Iwish yourcounsel about some affairs that concern me nearly."
He thentold Valentine an artful storyas a prelude to draw hissecretfrom himsaying that Valentine knew he wished to matchhisdaughter with Thuriobut that she was stubborn anddisobedientto his commands.
"Neitherregarding" said he"that she is my child nor fearingme as if Iwere her father. And I may say to thee this pride ofhers hasdrawn my love from her. I had thought my age should havebeencherished by her childlike duty. I now am resolved to take awifeandturn her out to whosoever will take her in. Let herbeauty beher wedding dowerfor me and my possessions sheesteemsnot."
Valentinewondering where all this would endmade answer"Andwhat wouldyour grace have me to do in all this?"
"Why"said the duke"the lady I would wish to marry is nice andcoy anddoes not much esteem my aged eloquence. Besidesthefashion ofcourtship is much changed since I was young. Now Iwouldwillingly have you to be my tutor to instruct me how I amto woo."
Valentinegave him a general idea of the modes of courtship thenpractisedby young men when they wished to win a fair lady'slovesuchas presentsfrequent visitsand the like.
The dukereplied to this that the lady did refuse a present whichhe sentherand that she was so strictly kept by her father thatno manmight have access to her by day.
"Whythen" said Valentine"you must visit her by night."
"Butat night" said the artful dukewho was now coming to thedrift ofhis discourse"her doors are fast locked."
Valentinethen unfortunately proposed that the duke should getinto thelady's chamber at night by means of a ladder of ropessaying hewould procure him one fitting for that purpose; and inconclusionadvised him to conceal this ladder of ropes under sucha cloak asthat which he now wore.
"Lendme your cloak" said the dukewho had feigned this longstory onpurpose to have a pretense to get off the cloak; so uponsayingthese words he caught hold of Valentine's cloak andthrowingit backhe discovered not only the ladder of ropes butalso aletter of Silvia'swhich he instantly opened and read;and thisletter contained a full account of their intendedelopement.The dukeafter upbraiding Valentine for hisingratitudein thus returning the favor he had shown himbyendeavoringto steal away his daughterbanished him from thecourt andcity of Milan foreverand Valentine was forced todepartthat night without even seeing Silvia.
WhileProteus at Milan was thus injuring ValentineJulia atVerona wasregretting the absence of Proteus; and her regard forhim atlast so far overcame her sense of propriety that sheresolvedto leave Verona and seek her lover at Milan; and tosecureherself from danger on the road she dressed her maidenLucettaand herself in men's clothes-. and they set out in thisdisguiseand arrived at Milan soon after Valentine was banishedfrom thatcity through the treachery of Proteus.
Juliaentered Milan about noonand she took up her abode at aninn; andher thoughts being all on her dear Proteusshe enteredintoconversation with the innkeeper--or hostas he wascalled--thinkingby that means to learn some news of Proteus.
The hostwas greatly pleased that this handsome young gentleman(as hetook her to be)who from his appearance be concluded wasof highrankspoke so familiarly to himandbeing agood-naturedmanhe was sorry to see him look so melancholy; andto amusehis young guest he offered to take him to hear some finemusicwith whichhe saida gentleman that evening was going toserenadehis mistress.
The reasonJulia looked so very melancholy wasthat she did notwell knowwhat Proteus would think of the imprudent step she hadtakenforshe knew he had loved her for her noble maiden prideanddignity of characterand she feared she should lower herselfin hisesteem; and this it was that made her wear a sad andthoughtfulcountenance.
She gladlyaccepted the offer of the host to go with him and hearthe music;for she secretly hoped she might meet Proteus by theway.
But whenshe came to the palace whither the host conducted a verydifferenteffect was produced to what the kind host intended; fortheretoher heart's sorrowshe beheld her lovertheinconstantProteusserenading the Lady Silvia with musicandaddressingdiscourse of love and admiration to her. And JuliaoverheardSilvia from a window talk with Proteusand reproachhim forforsaking his own true ladyand for his ingratitude hisfriendValentine; and then Silvia left the windownot choosingto listento his music and his fine speeches; for she was afaithfullady to her banished Valentineand abhorred theungenerousconduct of his false friendProteus.
ThoughJulia was in despair at what she had just witnessedyetdid shestill love the truant Proteus; and hearing that he hadlatelyparted with a servantshe contrivedwith the assistanceof herhostthe friendly innkeeperto hire herself to Proteusas a page;and Proteus knew not she was Juliaand he sent herwithletters and presents to her rivalSilviaand he even sentby her thevery ring she gave him as a parting gift at Verona.
When shewent to that lady with the ring she was most glad tofind thatSilvia utterly rejected the suit of Proteus; andJulia--orthe page Sebastianas she was calledentered intoconversationwith Silvia about Proteus's first lovethe forsakenLadyJulia. She putting in (as one may say) a good word forherselfsaid she knew Julia; as well she mightbeing herselfthe Juliaof whom she spoke; telling how fondly Julia loved hermasterProteusand how his unkind neglect would grieve her. Andthen shewith a pretty equivocation went on: "Julia is about myheightand of my complexionthe color of her eyes and hair thesame asmine." And indeed Julia looked a most beautiful youth inher boy'sattire.
Silvia wasmoved to pity this lovely lady who was so sadlyforsakenby the man she loved; and when Julia offered the ringwhichProteus had sentrefused itsaying:
"Themore shame for him that he sends me that ring. I will nottake itfor I have often heard him say his Julia gave it to him.I lovetheegentle youthfor pitying herpoor lady! Here is apurse; Igive it you for Julia's sake."
Thesecomfortable words coming from her kind rival's tonguecheeredthe drooping heart of the disguised lady.
But toreturn to the banished Valentinewho scarce knew whichway tobend his coursebeing unwilling to return home to hisfather adisgraced and banished man. As he was wandering over alonelyforestnot far distant from Milanwhere he had left hisheart'sdear treasurethe Lady Silviahe was set upon byrobberswho demanded his money.
Valentinetold them that he was a man crossed by adversitythatbe wasgoing into banishmentand that he had no moneytheclothes hehad on being all his riches.
Therobbershearing that he was a distressed manand beingstruckwith his noble air and manly behaviortold him if hewould livewith them and be their chiefor captainthey wouldputthemselves under his command; but that if he refused toaccepttheir offer they would kill him.
Valentinewho cared little what became of himselfsaid he wouldconsent tolive with them and be their captainprovided they didno outrageon women or poor passengers.
Thus thenoble Valentine becamelike Robin Hoodof whom we readinballadsa captain of robbers and outlawed banditti; and inthissituation he was found by Silviaand in this manner it cameto pass.
Silviatoavoid a marriage with Thuriowhom her father insistedupon herno longer refusingcame at last to the resolution offollowingValentine to Mantuaat which place she had heard herlover hadtaken refuge; but in this account she was misinformedfor hestill lived in the forest among the robbershearing thename oftheir captainbut taking no part in their depredationsand usingthe authority which they had imposed upon him in noother waythan to compel them to show compassion to the travelerstheyrobbed.
Silviacontrived to effect her escape from her father's palace incompanywith a worthy old gentleman whose name was Eglamourwhomshe tookalong with her for protection on the road. She had topassthrough the forest where Valentine and the banditti dwelt;and one ofthese robbers seized on Silviaand would also havetakenEglamourbut he escaped.
The robberwho had taken Silviaseeing the terror she was inbade hernot be alarmedfor that he was only going to carry herto a cavewhere his captain livedand that she need not beafraidfor their captain had an honorable mind and always showedhumanityto women. Silvia found little comfort in hearing she wasgoing tobe carried as a prisoner before the captain of a lawlessbanditti.
"OValentine" she cried"this I endure for thee!"
But as therobber was conveying her to the cave of his captain hewasstopped by Proteuswhostill attended by Julia in thedisguiseof a pagehaving heard of the flight of Silviahadtraced hersteps to this forest. Proteus now rescued her from thehands therobber; but scarce had she time to thank him for theservice hehad done her before be began to distress her afreshwith hislove suit; and while he was rudely pressing her toconsent tomarry himand his page (the forlorn Julia) wasstandingbeside him in great anxiety of mindfearing lest thegreatservice which Proteus had just done to Silvia should winher toshow him some favorthey were all strangely surprisedwith thesudden appearance of Valentinewhohaving heard hisrobbershad taken a lady prisonercame to console and relieveher.
Proteuswas courting Silviaand he was so much ashamed of beingcaught byhis friend that he was all at once seized withpenitenceand remorse; and he expressed such a lively sorrow fortheinjuries he had done to Valentine that Valentinewhosenature wasnoble and generouseven to a romantic degreenotonlyforgave and restored him to his former place in hisfriendshipbut in a sudden flight of heroism he said:
"Ifreely do forgive you; and all the interest I have in Silvia Igive it upto you."
Juliawhowas standing beside her master as a pagehearing thisstrangeofferand fearing Proteus would not be able with thisnew-foundvirtue to refuse Silviafainted; and they were allemployedin recovering herelse would Silvia have been offendedat beingthus made over to Proteusthough she could scarcelythink thatValentine would long persevere in this overstrainedand toogenerous act of friendship. When Julia recovered from thefaintingfitshe said:
"Ihad forgotmy master ordered me to deliver this ring toSilvia."
Proteuslooking upon the ringsaw that it was the one he gaveto Juliain return for that which he received from her and whichhe hadsent by the supposed page to Silvia.
"Howis this?" said he. "This is Julia's ring. How came you byitboy?"
Juliaanswered"Julia herself did give it meand Julia herselfhathbrought it hither."
Proteusnow looking earnestly upon herplainly perceived thatthe pageSebastian was no other than the Lady Julia herself; andthe proofshe had given of her constancy and true love so wroughtin himthat his love for her returned into his heartand he tookagain hisown dear lady and joyfully resigned all pretensions tothe LadySilvia to Valentinewho had so well deserved her.
Proteusand Valentine were expressing their happiness in theirreconciliationand in the love of their faithful ladieswhenthey weresurprised with the sight of the Duke of Milan andThuriowho came there in pursuit of Silvia.
Thuriofirst approachedand attempted to seize Silviasaying"Silviais mine."
Upon thisValentine said to him in a very spirited manner:"Thuriokeep back. If once again you say that Silvia is yoursyou shallembrace your death. Here she standstake butpossessionof her with a touch! I dare you but to breathe upon mylove."
Hearingthis threatThuriowho was a great cowarddrew backand saidhe cared not for her and that none but a fool wouldfight fora girl who loved him not.
The dukewho was a very brave man himselfsaid nowin greatanger"The more base and degenerate in you to take such meansfor her asyou have done and leave her on such slightconditions."
Thenturning to Valentine he said: "I do applaud your spiritValentineand think you worthy of an empress's love. You shallhaveSilviafor you have well deserved her."
Valentinethen with great humility kissed the duke's hand andacceptedthe noble present which he had made him of his daughterwithbecoming thankfulnesstaking occasion of this joyful minuteto entreatthe good-humored duke to pardon the thieves with whomhe hadassociated in the forestassuring him that when reformedandrestored to society there would be found among them manygoodandfit for great employment; for the most of them had beenbanishedlike Valentinefor state offensesrather than for anyblackcrimes they had been guilty of. To this the' ready dukeconsented.And now nothing remained but that Proteusthe falsefriendwas ordainedby way of penance for his love-promptedfaultstobe present at the recital of the whole story of hisloves andfalsehoods before the duke. And the shame of therecital tohis awakened conscience was judged sufficientpunishment;which being donethe loversall fourreturned backto Milanand their nuptials were solemnized in the presence ofthe dukewith high triumphs and feasting.
Shylockthe Jewlived at Venice. He was a usurer who hadamassed animmense fortune by lending money at great interest toChristianmerchants. Shylockbeing a hard-hearted manexactedthepayment of the money he lent with such severity that he wasmuchdisliked by all good menand particularly by Antonioayoungmerchant of Venice; and Shylock as much hated Antoniobecause heused to lend money to people in distressand wouldnever takeany interest for the money he lent; therefore therewas greatenmity between this covetous Jew and the generousmerchantAntonio. Whenever Antonio met Shylock on the Rialto(orExchange)he used to reproach him with his usuries and harddealingswhich the Jew would bear with seeming patiencewhilehesecretly meditated revenge.
Antoniowas the kindest man that livedthe best conditionedandhad themost unwearied spirit in doing courtesies; indeedhe wasone inwhom the ancient Roman honor more appeared than in anythat drewbreath in Italy. He was greatly beloved by all hisfellow-citizens;but the friend who was nearest and dearest tohis heartwas Bassanioa noble Venetianwhohaving but a smallpatrimonyhad nearly exhausted his little fortune by living intooexpensive a manner for his slender meansat young men ofhigh rankwith small fortunes are too apt to do. WheneverBassaniowanted money Antonio assisted him; and it seemed as ifthey hadbut one heart and one purse between them.
One dayBassanio came to Antonio and told him that he wished torepair hisfortune by a wealthy marriage with a lady whom hedearlylovedwhose fatherthat was lately deadhad left hersoleheiress to a large estate; and that in her father's lifetimehe used tovisit at her housewhen he thought he had observedthis ladyhad sometimes from her eyes sent speechless messagesthatseemed to say he would be no unwelcome suitor; but nothavingmoney to furnish himself with an appearance befitting thelover ofso rich an heiresshe besought Antonio to add to themanyfavors he had shown him by lending him three thousandducats.
Antoniohad no money by him at that time to lend his friend; butexpectingsoon to have. some ships come home laden withmerchandisehe said he would go to Shylockthe richmoneylenderand borrow the money upon the credit of those ships.
Antonioand Bassanio went together to Shylockand Antonio askedthe Jew tolend him three thousand ducats upon any interest heshouldrequireto be paid out of the merchandise contained inhis shipsat sea.
On thisShylock thought within himself: "If I can once catch himon thehipI will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him. Hehates ourJewish nation; he lends out money gratis; and among themerchantshe rails at me and my well-earned bargainswhich hecallsinterest. Cursed be my tribe if I forgive him!"
Antoniofinding be was musing within himself and did not answerand beingimpatient for the moneysaid:
"Shylockdo you hear? Will you lend the money?"
To thisquestion the Jew replied: "Signor Antonioon the Rialtomany atime and often you have railed at me about my moneys andmyusuriesand I have borne it with a patient shrugforsufferanceis the badge of all our tribe; and then you havecalled meunbelievercutthroat dogand spit upon my Jewishgarmentsand spurned at me with your footas if I was a cur.Wellthenit now appears you need my helpand you come to meand say'Shylocklend me moneys.' Has a dog money? Is itpossible acur should lend three thousand ducats? Shall I bendlow andsay'Fair siryou spit upon me on Wednesday last;anothertime you called me dogand for these courtesies I am tolend youmoneys."'
Antonioreplied: "I am as like to call you so againto spit onyou againand spurn youtoo. If you will lend me this moneylend itnot to me as to a friendbut rather lend it to me as toan enemythatif I breakyou may with better face exact thepenalty."
"Whylook you" said Shylock"how you storm! I would be friendswith youand have your love. I will forget the shames you haveput uponme. I will supply your wants and take no interest for mymoney."
Thisseemingly kind offer greatly surprised Antonio; and thenShylockstill pretending kindness and that all he did was togainAntonio's loveagain said he would lend him the threethousandducatsand take no interest for his money; only Antonioshould gowith him to a lawyer and there sign in merry sport abond thatif he did not repay the money by a certain dayhewouldforfeit a pound of fleshto be cut off from any part ofhis bodythat Shylock pleased.
"Content"said Antonio. "I will sign to this bondand say thereis muchkindness in the Jew."
Bassaniosaid Antonio should not sign to such a bond for him; butstillAntonio insisted that he would sign itfor that before theday ofpayment came his ships would return laden with many timesthe valueof the money.
Shylockhearing this debateexclaimed: "O Father Abrahamwhatsuspiciouspeople these Christians are! Their own hard dealingsteach themto suspect the thoughts of others. I pray you tell methisBassanio: if he should break his daywhat should I gain bytheexaction of the forfeiture? A pound of man's fleshtakenfrom amanis not so estimableprofitableneitheras theflesh ofmutton or beef. I sayto buy his favor I offer thisfriendship:if he will take itso; if notadieu."
At lastagainst the advice of Bassaniowhonotwithstanding allthe Jewhad said of his kind intentionsdid not like his friendshould runthe hazard of this shocking penalty for his sakeAntoniosigned the bondthinking it really was (as the Jew said)merely insport.
The richheiress that Bassanio wished to marry lived near Veniceat a placecalled Belmont. Her name was Portiaand in the gracesof herperson and her mind she was nothing inferior to thatPortiaofwhom we readwho was Cato's daughter and the wife ofBrutus.
Bassaniobeing so kindly supplied with money by his friendAntonioat the hazard of his lifeset out for Belmont with asplendidtrain and attended by a gentleman of the name ofGratiano.
Bassanioproving successful in his suitPortia in a short timeconsentedto accept of him for a husband.
Bassanioconfessed to Portia that he had no fortune and that hishigh birthand noble ancestry were all that he could boast of;shewholoved him for his worthy qualities and had riches enoughnot toregard wealth in a husbandansweredwith a gracefulmodestythat she would wish herself a thousand times more fairand tenthousand times more richto be more worthy of him; andthen theaccomplished Portia prettily dispraised herself and saidshe was anunlessoned girlunschooledunpractisedyet not soold butthat she could learnand that she would commit hergentlespirit to be directed and governed by him in all things;and shesaid: "Myself and what is mine to you and yours is nowconverted.But yesterdayBassanioI was the lady of this fairmansionqueen of myselfand mistress over these servants; andnow thishousethese servantsand myself are yoursmy lord; Igive themwith this ring" presenting a ring to Bassanio.
Bassaniowas so overpowered with gratitude and wonder at thegraciousmanner in which the rich and noble Portia accepted of aman of hishumble fortunes that he could not express his joy
andreverence to the dear lady who so honored himby anythingbut brokenwords of love and thankfulness; andtaking the ringhe vowednever to part with it.
Gratianoand NerissaPortia's waiting-maidwere in attendanceupon theirlord and lady when Portia so gracefully promised tobecome theobedient wife of Bassanio; and GratianowishingBassanioand the generous lady joydesired permission to bemarried atthe same time.
"Withall my heartGratiano" said Bassanio"if you can get awife."
Gratianothen said that he loved the Lady Portia's fairwaiting-gentlewomanNerissaand that she had promised to be hiswife ifher lady married Bassanio. Portia asked Nerissa if thiswas true.Nerissa replied:
"Madamit is soif you approve of it."
Portiawillingly consentingBassanio pleasantly said:
"Thenour wedding-feast shall be much honored by your marriageGratiano."
Thehappiness of these lovers was sadly crossed at this moment bytheentrance of a messengerwho brought a letter from Antoniocontainingfearful tidings. When Bassanio read Antonio's letterPortiafeared it was to tell him of the death of some dearfriendhelooked so pale; andinquiring what was the news whichbad sodistressed himhe said:
"Ohsweet Portiahere are a few of the unpleasantest words thateverblotted paper! Gentle ladywhen I first imparted my love toyouIfreely told you all the wealth I had ran in my veins; butI shouldhave told you that I had less than nothingbeing indebt."
Bassaniothen told Portia what has been here relatedof hisborrowingthe money of Antonioand of Antonio's procuring it ofShylockthe Jewand of the bond by which Antonio had engaged toforfeit apound of flesh if it was not repaid by a certain day:and thenBassanio read Antonio's letterthe words of which were:
'SweetBassaniomy ships are all lostmy bond to the Jew isforfeitedand since in paying it is impossible I should liveIcouldwishto see you at my death; notwithstandinguse yourpleasure.If your love for me do not persuade you to comeletnot myletter.'
"Ohmy dear love" said Portia"despatch all business andbegone;you shall have gold to pay the money twenty times overbeforethis kind friend shall lose a hair by my Bassanio's fault;and as youare so dearly boughtI will dearly love you."
Portiathen said she would be married to Bassanio before he setouttogive him a legal right to her money; and that same daythey weremarriedand Gratiano was also married to Nerissa; andBassanioand Gratianothe instant they were marriedset out ingreathaste for Venicewhere Bassanio found Antonio in prison.
The day ofpayment being pastthe cruel Jew would not accept ofthe moneywhich Bassanio offered himbut insisted upon having apound ofAntonio's flesh. A day was appointed to try thisshockingcause before the Duke of Veniceand Bassanio awaited indreadfulsuspense the event of the trial.
WhenPortia parted with her husband she spoke cheeringly to himand badehim bring his dear friend along with him when hereturned;yet she feared it would go hard with Antonioand whenshe wasleft alone she began to think and consider within herselfif shecould by any means be instrumental in saving the life ofher dearBassanio's friend. And notwithstanding when she wishedto honorher Bassanio she had said to himwith such a meek andwifelikegracethat she would submit in all things to begovernedby his superior wisdomyet being now called forth intoaction bythe peril of her honored husband's friendshe didnothingdoubt her own powersand by the sole guidance of her owntrue andperfect judgment at once resolved to go herself toVenice andspeak in Antonio's defense.
Portia hada relation who was a counselor in the law; to thisgentlemanwhose name was Bellarioshe wroteandstating thecase tohimdesired his opinionand that with his advice hewould alsosend her the dress worn by a counselor. When themessengerreturned he brought letters from Bellario of advice howtoproceedand also everything necessary for her equipment.
Portiadressed herself and her maid Nerissa in men's apparelandputting on the robes of a counselorshe took Nerissa alongwith heras her clerk; setting out immediatelythey arrived atVenice onthe very day of the trial. The cause was just going tobe heardbefore the Duke and Senators of Venice in the SenateHouse whenPortia entered this high court of justice andpresenteda letter from Bellarioin which that learned counselorwrote tothe dukesaying he would have come himself to plead forAntoniobut that he was prevented by sicknessand he requestedthat thelearned young Doctor Balthasar (so he called Portia)might bepermitted to plead in his stead. This the Duke grantedmuchwondering at the youthful appearance of the strangerwhowasprettily disguised by her counselor's robes and her largewig.
And nowbegan this important trial. Portia looked around her andshe sawthe merciless Jew; and she saw Bassaniobut he knew hernot in herdisguise. He was standing beside Antonioin an agonyofdistress and fear for his friend.
Theimportance of the arduous task Portia had engaged in gavethistender lady courageand she boldly proceeded in the dutyshe hadundertaken to perform. And first of all she addressedherself toShylock; and allowing that he had a right by theVenetianlaw to have the forfeit expressed in the bondshe spokeso sweetlyof the noble quality of MERCY as would have softenedany heartbut the unfeeling Shylock'ssaying that it dropped asthe gentlerain from heaven upon the place beneath; and how mercywas adouble blessingit blessed him that gave and him thatreceivedit; and how it became monarchs better than their crownsbeing anattribute of God Himself; and that earthly power camenearest toGod's in proportion as mercy tempered justice; and shebadeShylock remember that as we all pray for mercythat sameprayershould teach us to show mercy. Shylock only answered herbydesiring to have the penalty forfeited in the bond.
"Ishe not able to pay the money?" asked Portia.
Bassaniothen offered the Jew the payment of the three thousandducats asmany times over as he should desire; which Shylockrefusingand still insisting upon having a pound of Antonio'sfleshBassanio begged the learned young counselor would endeavorto wrestthe law a littleto save Antonio's life. But Portiagravelyanswered that laws once established never be altered.Shylockhearing Portia say that the law might not be altereditseemed tohim that she was pleading in his favorand he said:
"ADaniel is come to judgment! O wise young judgehow I do honoryou! Howmuch elder are you than your looks!"
Portia nowdesired Shylock to let her look at the bond; and whenshe hadread it she said: "This bond is forfeitedand by thisthe Jewmay lawfully claim a pound of fleshto be by him cut offnearestAntonio's heart." Then she said to Shylock"Be merciful;take themoney and bid me tear the bond."
But nomercy would the cruel Shylock show; and he said"By mysoulIswear there is no power in the tongue of man to alterme."
"WhythenAntonio" said Portia"you must prepare your bosomfor theknife." And while Shylock was sharpening a long knifewith greateagerness to cut off the pound of fleshPortia saidtoAntonio"Have you anything to say?"
Antoniowith a calm resignation replied that he had but little tosayforthat he had prepared his mind for death. Then he said toBassanio:
"Giveme your handBassanio! Fare you well! Grieve not that I amfalleninto this misfortune for you. Commend me to your honorablewife andtell her how I have loved you!"
Bassanioin the deepest affliction replied: "AntonioI ammarried toa wife who is as dear to me as life itself; but lifeitselfmywifeand all the world are not esteemed with me aboveyour life.I would lose allI would sacrifice all to this devilheretodeliver you."
Portiahearing thisthough the kind-hearted lady was not at alloffendedwith her husband for expressing the love he owed to sotrue afriend as Antonio in these strong termsyet could nothelpanswering:
"Yourwife would give you little thanksif she were presenttohear youmake this offer."
And thenGratianowho loved to copy what his lord didthoughthe mustmake a speech like Bassanio'sand he saidin Nerissa'shearingwho was writing in her clerk's dress by the side ofPortia:
"Ihave a wife whom I protest I love. I wish she were in heavenif shecould but entreat some power there to change the crueltemper ofthis currish Jew."
"Itis well you wish this behind her backelse you would havebut anunquiet house" said Nerissa.
Shylocknow cried outimpatiently: "We trifle time. I praypronouncethe sentence."
And nowall was awful expectation in the courtand every heartwas fullof grief for Antonio.
Portiaasked if the scales were ready to weigh the flesh; and shesaid tothe Jew"Shylockyou must have some surgeon bylest hebleed todeath."
Shylockwhose whole intent was that Antonio should bleed todeathsaid"It is not so named in the bond."
Portiareplied: "It is not so named in the bondbut what ofthat? Itwere good you did so much for charity."
To thisall the answer Shylock would make was"I cannot find it;it is notin the bond."
"Then"said Portia"a pound of Antonio's flesh is thine. Thelaw allowsit and the court awards it. And you may cut this fleshfrom offhis breast. The law allows it and the court awards it."
AgainShylock exclaimed: "O wise and upright judge! A Daniel iscome tojudgment!" And then he sharpened his long knife againandlooking eagerly on Antoniohe said"Comeprepare!"
"Tarrya littleJew" said Portia. "There is something else.This bondhere gives you no drop of blood; the words expresslyare'apound of flesh.' If in the cutting off the pound of fleshyou shedone drop of Christian bloodyour lands and goods are bythe law tobe confiscated to the state of Venice."
Now as itwas utterly impossible for Shylock to cut off the poundof fleshwithout shedding some of Antonio's bloodthis wisediscoveryof Portia'sthat it was flesh and not blood that wasnamed inthe bondsaved the life of Antonio; and all admiringthewonderful sagacity of the young counselor who had so happilythought ofthis expedientplaudits resounded from every part ofthe SenateHouse; and Gratiano exclaimedin the words whichShylockhad used:
"Owise and upright judge! MarkJewa Daniel is come tojudgment!"
Shylockfinding himself defeated in his cruel intentsaidwithadisappointed lookthat he would take the money. And Bassaniorejoicedbeyond measure at Antonio's unexpected deliverancecried out:
"Hereis the money!"
But Portiastopped himsaying: "Softly; there is no haste. TheJew shallhave nothing but the penalty. Therefore prepareShylockto cut off the flesh; but mind you shed no blood; nor donot cutoff more nor less than just a pound; be it more or lessby onepoor scruplenayif the scale turn but by the weight ofa singlehairyou are condemned by the laws of Venice to dieand allyour wealth is forfeited to the state."
"Giveme my money and let me go" said Shylock.
"Ihave it ready" said Bassanio. "Here it is."
Shylockwas going to take the moneywhen Portia again stoppedhimsaying: "TarryJew. I have yet another hold upon you. Bythe lawsof Venice your wealth is forfeited to the state forhavingconspired against the life of one of its citizensandyour lifelies at the mercy of the duke; thereforedown on yourknees andask him to pardon you."
The dukethen said to Shylock: "That you may see the differenceof ourChristian spiritI pardon you your life before you askit. Halfyour wealth belongs to Antoniothe other half comes tothestate."
Thegenerous Antonio then said that he would give up his share ofShylock'swealth if Shylock would sign a deed to make it over athis deathto his daughter and her husband; for Antonio knew thatthe Jewhad an only daughter who had lately married against hisconsent ayoung Christian named Lorenzoa friend of Antonio'swhich hadso offended Shylock that he had disinherited her.
The Jewagreed to this; and being thus disappointed in hisrevengeand despoiled of his richeshe said: "I am ill. Let mego home.Send the deed after meand I will sign over half myriches tomy daughter."
"Getthee gonethen" said the duke"and sign it; and if yourepentyour cruelty and turn Christianthe state will forgiveyou thefine of the other half of your riches."
The dukenow released Antonio and dismissed the court. He thenhighlypraised the wisdom and ingenuity of the young counselorandinvited him home to dinner.
Portiawho meant to return to Belmont before her husbandreplied"I humbly thank your Gracebut I must away directly."
The dukesaid he was sorry he had not leisure to stay and dinewith himandturning to Antoniohe added"Reward thisgentleman;for in my mind you are much indebted to him."
The dukeand his senators left the court; and then Bassanio saidto Portia:"Most worthy gentlemanI and my friend Antonio haveby yourwisdom been this day acquitted of grievous penaltiesandI beg youwill accept of the three thousand ducats due unto theJew."
"Andwe shall stand indebted to you over and above" saidAntonio"in love and service evermore."
Portiacould not be prevailed upon to accept the money. But uponBassaniostill pressing her to accept of some rewardshe said:
"Giveme your gloves. I will wear them for your sake." And thenBassaniotaking off his glovesshe espied the ring which she hadgiven himupon his finger. Now it was the ring the wily ladywanted toget from him to make a merry jest when she saw herBassanioagainthat made her ask him for his gloves; and shesaidwhenshe saw the ring"And for your loveI will take thisring fromyou."
Bassaniowas sadly distressed that the counselor should ask himfor theonly thing he could not part withand he repliedingreatconfusionthat be could not give him that ringbecause itwas hiswife's gift and he had vowed never to part with it; butthat hewould give him the most valuable ring in Veniceand findit out byproclamation.
On thisPortia affected to be affrontedand left the courtsaying"You teach mesirhow a beggar should be answered."
"DearBassanio" said Antonio"let him have the ring. Let Mylove andthe great service he has done for me be valued againstyourwife's displeasure."
Bassanioashamed to appear so ungratefulyieldedand sentGratianoafter Portia with the ring; and then the "clerk"Nerissawho had also given Gratiano a ringbegged his ringandGratiano(not choosing to be outdone in generosity by his lord)gave it toher. And there was laughing among these ladies tothinkwhen they got homehow they would tax their husbands withgivingaway their rings and swear that they had given them as apresent tosome woman.
Portiawhen she returnedwas in that happy temper of mind whichneverfails to attend the consciousness of having performed agoodaction. Her cheerful spirits enjoyed everything she saw: themoon neverseemed to shine so bright before; and when thatpleasantmoon was hid behind a cloudthen a light which she sawfrom herhouse at Belmont as well pleased her charmed fancyandshe saidto Nerissa:
"Thatlight we see is burning in my hall. How far that littlecandlethrows its beams! So shines a good deed in a naughtyworld."And hearing the sound of music from her houseshe said"Methinksthat music sounds much sweeter than by day."
And nowPortia and Nerissa entered the houseanddressingthemselvesin their own apparelthey awaited the arrival oftheirhusbandswho soon followed them with Antonio; and Bassaniopresentinghis dear friend to the Lady Portiathecongratulationsand welcomings of that lady were hardly over whentheyperceived Nerissa and her husband quarreling in a corner ofthe room.
"Aquarrel already?" said Portia. "What is the matter?"
Gratianoreplied"Ladyit is about a paltry gilt ring thatNerissagave mewith words upon it like the poetry on a cutler'sknife:'Love meand leave me not.'"
"Whatdoes the poetry or the value of the ring signify?" saidNerissa."You swore to mewhen I gave it to youthat you wouldkeep ittill the hour of death; and now you say you gave it tothelawyer's clerk. I know you gave it to a woman."
"Bythis hand" replied Gratiano"I gave it to a youtha kindOf boyalittle scrubbed boyno higher than yourself; be wasclerk tothe young counselor that by his wise pleading savedAntonio'slife. This prating boy begged it for a feeand I couldnot for mylife deny him."
Portiasaid: "You were to blameGratianoto part with yourwife'sfirst gift. I gave my Lord Bassanio a ringand I am surebe wouldnot part with it for all the world."
Gratianoin excuse for his faultnow said"My Lord Bassaniogave hisring away to the counselorand then the boyhis clerkthat tooksome pains in writinghe begged my ring."
Portiahearing thisseemed very angry and reproached Bassaniofor givingaway her ring; and she said Nerissa had taught herwhat tobelieveand that she knew some woman had the ring.Bassaniowas very unhappy to have so offended his dear ladyandhe saidwith great earnestness:
"Noby my honorno woman had itbut a civil doctor who refusedthreethousand ducats of me and begged the ringwhich when Idenied himhe went displeased away. What could I dosweetPortia? Iwas so beset with shame for my seeming ingratitude thatI wasforced to send the ring after him. Pardon megood lady.Had youbeen thereI think you would have begged the ring of meto givethe worthy doctor."
"Ah!"said Antonio"I am the unhappy cause of these quarrels."
Portia bidAntonio not to grieve at thatfor that be was welcomenotwithstanding;and then Antonio said:
"Ionce did lend my body for Bassanio's sake; and but for him towhom yourhusband gave the ring I should have now been dead. Idare bebound againmy soul upon the forfeityour lord willnever morebreak his faith with you."
"Thenyou shall be his surety" said Portia. "Give him this ringand bidhim keep it better than the other."
WhenBassanio looked at this ring be was strangely surprised tofind itwas the same he gave away; and then Portia told him howshe wasthe young counselorand Nerissa was her clerk; andBassaniofoundto his unspeakable wonder and delightthat itwas by thenoble courage and wisdom of his wife that Antonio'slife wassaved.
And Portiaagain welcomed Antonioand gave him letters which bysomechance had fallen into her handswhich contained an accountofAntonio's shipsthat were supposed lostbeing safely arrivedin theharbor. So these tragical beginnings of this richmerchant'sstory were all forgotten in the unexpected goodfortunewhich ensued; and there was leisure to laugh at thecomicaladventure of the rings and the husbands that did not knowtheir ownwivesGratiano merrily swearingin a sort of rhymingspeechthat-- While he livedhe'd fear no other thing So soreas keeping safe Nerissa's ring.
During thetime of Augustus CaesarEmperor of Rometherereigned inEngland (which was then called Britain) a king whosename wasCymbeline.
Cymbeline'sfirst wife died when his three children (two sons andadaughter) were very young. Imogenthe eldest of thesechildrenwas brought up in her father's court; but by a strangechance thetwo sons of Cymbeline were stolen out of their nurserywhen theeldest was but three years of age and the youngest quitean infant;and Cymbeline could never discover what was become ofthem or bywhom they were conveyed away.
Cymbelinewas twice married. His second wife was a wickedplottingwomanand a cruel stepmother to ImogenCymbeline'sdaughterby his first wife.
The queenthough she hated Imogenyet wished her to marry a sonof her ownby a former husband (she also having been twicemarried)for by this means she hoped upon the death of Cymbelineto placethe crown of Britain upon the head of her son Cloten;for sheknew thatif the king's sons were not foundthePrincessImogen must be the king's heir. But this design waspreventedby Imogen herselfwho married without the consent orevenknowledge of her father or the queen.
Posthumus(for that was the name of Imogen's husband) was thebestscholar and most accomplished gentleman of that age. Hisfatherdied fighting in the wars for Cymbelineand soon afterhis birthhis mother died also for grief at the loss of herhusband.
Cymbelinepitying the helpless state of this orphantookPosthumus(Cymbeline having given him that name because he wasborn afterhis father's death)and educated him in his owncourt.
Imogen andPosthumus were both taught by the same mastersandwereplayfellows from their infancy; they loved each othertenderlywhen they were childrenandtheir affection continuingtoincrease with their yearswhen they grew up they privatelymarried.
Thedisappointed queen soon learned this secretfor she keptspiesconstantly in watch upon the actions of her stepdaughterand sheimmediately told the king of the marriage of Imogen withPosthumus.
Nothingcould exceed the wrath of Cymbeline when he heard thathisdaughter had been so forgetful of her high dignity as tomarry asubject. He commanded Posthumus to leave Britain andbanishedhim from his native country forever.
The queenwho pretended to pity Imogen for the grief shesufferedat losing her husbandoffered to procure them a privatemeetingbefore Posthumus set out on his journey to Romewhichplace hehad chosen for his residence in his banishment. Thisseemingkindness she showed the better to succeed in her futuredesigns inregard to her son Clotenfor she meant to persuadeImogenwhen her husband was gonethat her marriage was notlawfulbeing contracted without the consent of the king.
Imogen andPosthumus took a most affectionate leave of eachother.Imogen gave her husband a diamond ring which had been hermother'sand Posthumus promised never to part with the ring; andhefastened a bracelet on the arm of his wifewhich he beggedshe wouldpreserve with great careas a token of his love; theythen badeeach other farewellwith many vows of everlasting loveandfidelity.
Imogenremained a solitary and dejected lady in her father'scourtandPosthumus arrived at Romethe place he had chosen forhisbanishment.
Posthumusfell into company at Rome with some gay young men ofdifferentnationswho were talking freely of ladieseach onepraisingthe ladies of his own country and his own mistress.Posthumuswho had ever his own dear lady in his mindaffirmedthat hiswifethe fair Imogenwas the most virtuouswiseandconstantlady in the world.
One ofthose gentlemenwhose name was Iachimobeing offendedthat alady of Britain should be so praised above the Romanladieshis country-womenprovoked Posthumus by seeming to doubttheconstancy of his so highly praised wife; and at lengthaftermuchaltercationPosthumus consented to a proposal of Iachimo'sthat he(Iachimo) should go to Britain and endeavor to gain thelove ofthe married Imogen. They then laid a wager that ifIachimodid not succeed in this wicked design he was to forfeit alarge sumof money; but if he could win Imogen's favorandprevailupon her to give him the bracelet which Posthumus had soearnestlydesired she would keep as a token of his lovethen thewager wasto terminate with Posthumus giving to Iachimo the ringwhich wasImogen's love present when she parted with her husband.Such firmfaith had Posthumus in the fidelity of Imogen that hethought heran no hazard in this trial of her honor.
Iachimoon his arrival in Britaingained admittance and acourteouswelcome from Imogenas a friend of her husband; butwhen hebegan to make professions of love to her she repulsed himwithdisdainand he soon found that he could have no hope ofsucceedingin his dishonorable design.
The desireIachimo had to win the wager made him now haverecourseto a stratagem to impose upon Posthumusand for thispurpose hebribed some of Imogen's attendants and was by themconveyedinto her bedchamberconcealed in a large trunkwhereheremained shut up till Imogen.was retired to rest and hadfallenasleep; and thengetting out of the trunkhe examinedthechamber with great attentionand wrote down everything hesaw thereand particularly noticed a mole which he observed uponImogen'sneckand then softly unloosing the bracelet from herarmwhichPosthumus had given to herhe retired into the chestagain; andthe next day he set off for Rome with greatexpeditionand boasted to Posthumus that Imogen had given himthebraceletand likewise permitted him to pass a night in herchamber.And in this manner Iachimo told his false tale: "Herbedchamber"said he"was hung with tapestry of silk and silverthe storywas the proud Cleopatra when she met her Anthonyapiece ofwork most bravely wrought."
"Thisis true" said Posthumus; "but this you might have heardspoken ofwithout seeing."
"Thenthe chimney" said Iachimo"is south of the chamberandthechimneypiece is Diana bathing; never saw I figures livelierexpressed.""This is a thing you might have likewise heard" saidPosthumus;"for it is much talked of."
Iachimo asaccurately described the roof of the chamber; andadded"Ihad almost forgot her andirons; they were two winkingCupidsmade of silvereach on one foot standing.'" He then tookout thebraceletand said: "Know you this jewelsir? She gaveme this.She took it from her arm. I see her yet; her prettyaction didoutsell her giftand yet enriched ittoo. She gaveit meandsaidSHE PRIZED IT ONCE." He last of all describedthe molehe had observed upon her neck.
Posthumuswho had heard the whole of this artful recital in anagony ofdoubtnow broke out into the most passionateexclamationsagainst Imogen. He delivered up the diamond ring toIachimowhich he had agreed to forfeit to him if he obtained thebraceletfrom Imogen.
Posthumusthen in a jealous rage wrote to Pisanioa gentleman ofBritainwho was one of Imogen's attendantsand had long been afaithfulfriend to Posthumus; and after telling him what proof hehad of hiswife's disloyaltyhe desired Pisanio would takeImogen toMilford Havena seaport of Walesand there kill her.And at thesame time he wrote a deceitful letter to Imogendesiringher to go with Pisaniofor thatfinding he could liveno longerwithout seeing herthough he was forbidden upon painof deathto return to Britainhe would come to Milford Havenatwhichplace he begged she would meet him. Shegoodunsuspectingladywholoved her husband above all thingsand desired morethan herlife to see himhastened her departure with Pisanioand thesame night she received the letter she set out.
When theirjourney was nearly at an endPisaniowhothoughfaithfulto Posthumuswas not faithful to serve him in an evildeeddisclosed to Imogen the cruel order he had received.
Imogenwhoinstead of meeting a loving and beloved husbandfoundherself doomed by that husband to suffer deathwasafflictedbeyond measure.
Pisaniopersuaded her to take comfort and wait with patientfortitudefor the time when Posthumus should see and repent hisinjustice.In the mean timeas she refused in her distress toreturn toher father's courthe advised her to dress herself inboy'sclothes for more security in traveling; to which advice sheagreedand thought in that disguise she would go over to Romeand seeher husbandwhomthough he had used her so barbarouslyshe couldno-t forget to love.
WhenPisanio had provided her with her new apparel he left her toheruncertain fortunebeing obliged to return to court; butbefore hedeparted he gave her a vial of cordialwhich he saidthe queenhad given him as a sovereign remedy in all disorders.
The queenwho hated Pisanio because he was a friend to ImogenandPosthumusgave him this vialwhich she supposed containedpoisonshe having ordered her physician to give her some poisonto try itseffects (as she said) upon animals; but the physicianknowingher malicious dispositionwould not trust her with realpoisonbut gave her a drug which would do no other mischief thancausing aperson to sleep with every appearance of death for afew hours.This mixturewhich Pisanio thought a choice cordialhe gave toImogendesiring herif she found herself ill uponthe roadto take it; and sowith blessings and prayers for hersafety andhappy deliverance from her undeserved troublesheleft her.
Providencestrangely directed Imogen's steps to the dwelling ofher twobrothers who had been stolen away in their infancy.Bellariuswho stole them awaywas a lord in the court ofCymbelineandhaving been falsely accused to the king oftreasonand banished from the courtin revenge he stole away thetwo sonsof Cymbeline and brought them up in a forestwhere helivedconcealed in a cave. He stole them through revengebut hesoon lovedthem as tenderly as if they had been his own childreneducatedthem carefullyand they grew up fine youthstheirprincelyspirits leading them to bold and daring actions; and astheysubsisted by huntingthey were active and hardyand werealwayspressing their supposed father to let them seek theirfortune inthe wars.
At thecave where these youths dwelt it was Imogen's fortune toarrive.She had lost her way in a large forest through which .herroad layto Milford Haven (from which she meant to embark forRome); andbeing unable to find any place where she couldpurchasefoodshe waswith weariness and hungeralmost dying;for it isnot merely putting on a man's apparel that will enablea youngladytenderly brought upto bear the fatigue ofwanderingabout lonely forests like a man.. Seeing this cavesheenteredhoping to find some one within of whom she could procurefood. Shefound the cave emptybutlooking aboutshediscoveredsome cold meatand her hunger was so pressing thatshe couldnot wait for an invitationbut sat down and began toeat.
"Ah"said shetalking to herself"I see a man's life is atediousone. How tired am I! For two nights together I have madethe groundmy bed. My resolution helps meor I should be sick.WhenPisanio showed me Milford Haven from the mountain-tophownear itseemed!" Then the thoughts of her husband and his cruelmandatecame across herand she said"My dear Posthumusthouart afalse one!"
The twobrothers of Imogenwho had been hunting with theirreputedfatherBellariuswere by this time returned home.Bellariushad given them the names of Polydore and Cadwalandthey knewno betterbut supposed that Bellarius was theirfather;but the real names of these princes were Guiderius andArviragus.
Bellariusentered the cave firstandseeing Imogenstoppedthemsaying: " Come not in yet. It eats our victualsor Ishouldthink it was a fairy."
"Whatis the mattersir?" said the young men.
"ByJupiter!" said Bellariusagain"there is an angel in thecaveorif notan earthly paragon." So beautiful did Imogenlook inher boy's apparel.
Shehearing the sound of voicescame forth from the cave andaddressedthem in these words: "Good mastersdo not harm me.Before Ientered your cave I had thought to have begged or boughtwhat Ihave eaten. IndeedI have stolen nothingnor would Ithough Ihad found gold strewed on the floor. Here is money formy meatwhich I would have left on the board when I had made mymealandparted with prayers for the provider."
Theyrefused her money with great earnestness.
"Isee you are angry with me" said the timid Imogen; "butsirsif youkill me for my faultknow that I should have died if Ihad notmade it."
"Whitherare you bound" asked Bellarius"and what is yourname?"
"Fideleis my name" answered Imogen. "I have a kinsman who isbound forItaly; he embarked at Milford Havento whom beinggoingalmost spent with hungerI am fallen into this offense."
"Pritheefair youth" said old Bellarius"do not think uschurlsnor measure our good minds by this rude place we live in.'You arewell encountered; it is almost night. You shall havebettercheer before you departand thanks to stay and eat it.Boysbidhim welcome."
The gentleyouthsher brothersthen welcomed Imogen to theircave withmany kind expressionssaying they would love her (oras theysaidHIM) as a brother; and they entered the cavewhere(theyhaving killed venison when they were hunting) Imogendelightedthem with her neat housewiferyassisting them inpreparingtheir supper; forthough it is not the custom now foryoungwomen of high birth to understand cookeryit was thenandImogenexcelled in this useful art; andas her brothers prettilyexpresseditFidele cut their roots in charactersand saucedtheirbrothas if Juno had been sick and Fidele were her dieter.
"Andthen" said Polydore to his brother"how angel-like hesings!"
They alsoremarked to each other that though Fidele smiled sosweetlyyet so sad a melancholy did overcloud his lovely faceas ifgrief and patience had together taken possession of him.
For theseher gentle qualities (or perhaps it was their nearrelationshipthough they knew it not) Imogen (oras the boyscalledherFidele) became the doting-piece of her brothersandshescarcely less loved themthinking that but for the memory ofher dearPosthumus she could live and die in the cave with thesewildforest youths; and she gladly consented to stay with themtill shewas enough rested from the fatigue of traveling topursue herway to Milford Haven.
When thevenison they had taken was all eaten and they were goingout tohunt for moreFidele could not accompany them because shewasunwell. Sorrowno doubtfor her husband'scruelusageas well as the fatigue of wandering in the forestwas thecause of her illness.
They thenbid her farewelland went to their huntpraising allthe waythe noble parts and graceful demeanor of the youthFidele.
Imogen wasno sooner left alone than she recollected the cordialPisaniohad given herand drank it offand presently fell intoa soundand deathlike sleep.
WhenBellarius and her brothers returned from huntingPolydorewent firstinto the caveandsupposing her asleeppulled offhis heavyshoesthat he might tread softly and not awake her (sodid truegentleness spring up in the minds of these princelyforesters);but he soon discovered that she could not be awakenedby anynoiseand concluded her to be deadand Polydore lamentedover herwith dear and brotherly regretas if they had neverfrom theirinfancy been parted.
Bellariusalso proposed to carry her out into the forestandtherecelebrate her funeral with songs and solemn dirgesas wasthen thecustom.
Imogen'stwo brothers then carried her to a shady covertandtherelaying her gently on the grassthey sang repose to herdepartedspiritandcovering her over with leaves and flowersPolydoresaid:
"Whilesummer lasts and I live hereFideleI will daily strewthy grave.The pale primrosethat flower most like thy face; thebluebelllike thy clear veins; and the leaf of eglantinewhichis notsweeter than was thy breath-all these will I strew overthee. Yeaand the furred moss in winterwhen there are noflowers tocover thy sweet corse."
When theyhad finished her funeral obsequies they departedverysorrowful.
Imogen hadnot been long left alone whenthe effect of thesleepydrug going offshe awakedand easily shaking off theslightcovering of leaves and flowers they had thrown over hershe aroseandimagining she had been dreamingshe said:
"Ithought I was a cave-keeper and cook to honest creatures. Howcame Ihere covered with flowers?"
Not beingable to find her way back to the caveand seeingnothing ofher new companionsshe concluded it was certainly alla dream;and once more Imogen set out on her weary pilgrimagehoping atlast she should find her way to Milford Havenandthence geta passage in some ship bound for Italy; for all herthoughtswere still with her husbandPosthumuswhom sheintendedto seek in the disguise of a page.
But greatevents were happening at this timeof which Imogenknewnothing; for a war had suddenly broken out between the RomanEmperorAugustus Caesar and Cymbelinethe King of Britain; and aRoman armyhad landed to invade Britainand was advanced intothe veryforest over which Imogen was journeying. With this armycamePosthumus.
ThoughPosthumus came over to Britain with the Roman armyhe didnot meanto fight on their side against his own countrymenbutintendedto join the army of Britain and fight in the cause ofhis kingwho had banished him.
He stillbelieved Imogen false to him; yet the death of her hehad sofondly lovedand by his own orderstoo (Pisanio havingwrittenhim a letter to say he had obeyed his commandand thatImogen wasdead)sat heavy on his heartand therefore hereturnedto Britaindesiring either to be slain in battle or tobe put todeath by Cymbeline for returning home from banishment.
Imogenbefore she reached Milford Havenfell into the hands ofthe Romanarmyandher presence and deportment recommendinghershewas made a page to Luciusthe Roman general.
Cymbeline'sarmy now advanced to meet the enemyand when theyenteredthis forest Polydore and Cadwal joined the king's army.The youngmen were eager to engage in acts of valorthough theylittlethought they were going to fight for their own royalfather;and old Bellarius went with them to the battle.
He hadlong since repented of the injury he had done to Cymbelineincarrying away his sons; andhaving been a warrior in hisyouthhegladly joined the army to fight for the king he had soinjured.
And now agreat battle commenced between the two armiesand theBritonswould have been defeatedand Cymbeline himself killedbut forthe extraordinary valor of Posthumus and Bellarius andthe twosons of Cymbeline. They rescued the king and saved hislifeandso entirely turned the fortune of the day that theBritonsgained the victory.
When thebattle was overPosthumuswho had not found the deathhe soughtforsurrendered himself up to one of the officers ofCymbelinewilling to suffer the death which was to be hispunishmentif he returned from banishment.
Imogen andthe master she served were taken prisoners and broughtbeforeCymbelineas was also her old enemyIachimowho was anofficer inthe Roman army. And when these prisoners were beforethe kingPosthumus was brought in to receive his sentence ofdeath; andat this strange juncture of time Bellarius withPolydoreand Cadwal were also brought before Cymbelinetoreceivethe rewards due to the great services they had by theirvalor donefor the king. Pisaniobeing one of the king'sattendantswas likewise present.
Thereforethere were now standing in the king's presence (butwith verydifferent hopes and fears) Posthumus and Imogenwithher newmaster the Roman general; the faithful servant Pisanioand thefalse friend Iachimo; and likewise the two lost sons ofCymbelinewith Bellariuswho had stolen them away.
The Romangeneral was the first who spoke; the rest stood silentbefore thekingthough there was many a beating heart amongthem.
Imogen sawPosthumusand knew himthough he was in the disguiseof apeasant; but he did not know her in her male attire. And sheknewIachimoand she saw a ring on his finger which sheperceivedto be her own.but she did not know him as yet to havebeen theauthor of all her troubles; and she stood before her ownfather aprisoner of war.
Pisanioknew Imogenfor it was he who had dressed her in thegarb of aboy. "It is my mistress" thought he. "Since she islivinglet the time run on to good or bad." Bellarius knew hertooandsoftly said to Cadwal"Is not this boy revived fromdeath?"
"Onesand" replied Cadwal"does not more resemble another thanthatsweetrosy lad is like the dead Fidele."
"Thesame dead thing alive" said Polydore.
"Peacepeace" said Bellarius. "If it were heI am sure bewould havespoken to us."
"Butwe saw him dead"again whispered Polydore.
"Besilent" replied Bellarius.
Posthumuswaited in silence to hear the welcome sentence of hisown death;and he resolved not to disclose to the king that hehad savedhis life in the battlelest that should move Cymbelineto pardonhim.
Luciusthe Roman generalwho had taken Imogen under hisprotectionas his pagewas the first (as has been before said)who spoketo the king. He was a man of high courage and noble andthis washis speech to the king:
"Ihear you take no ransom for your prisonersbut doom them allto death.I am a Romanand with a Roman heart will sufferdeath. Butthere is one thing for which I would entreat." ThenbringingImogen before the kinghe said: "This boy is a Britonborn. Lethim be ransomed. He is my page. Never master had a pageso kindso duteousso diligent on all occasionsso truesonurselike.He hath done no Briton wrongthough he hath served aRoman.Save himif you spare no one beside."
Cymbelinelooked earnestly on his daughter Imogen. He knew hernot inthat disguise; but it seemed that all-powerful Naturespake inhis heartfor he said: "I have surely seen him; hisfaceappears familiar to me. I know not why or wherefore I sayliveboybut I give you your life; and ask of me what boon youwill and Iwill grant it you. Yeaeven though it be the life ofthenoblest prisoner I have."
"Ihumbly thank your Highness" said Imogen.
What wasthen called granting a boon was the same as a promise togive anyone thingwhatever it might be. that the person onwhom thatfavor was conferred chose to ask for.
They allwere attentive to hear what thing the page would askfor; andLuciusher mastersaid to her:
"I donot beg my lifegood ladbut I know that is what you willask for."
"Nonoalas!" said Imogen. "I have other work in handgoodmaster.Your life I cannot ask for."
Thisseeming want of gratitude in the boy astonished the Romangeneral.
Imogenthenfixing her eye on Iachimodemanded no other boonthan this:that Iachimo should be made to confess whence he hadthe ringhe wore on his finger.
Cymbelinegranted her this boonand threatened Iachimo with thetorture ifhe did not confess how he came by the diamond ring onhisfinger.
Iachimothen made a full acknowledgment of all his villainyintellingas has been before relatedthe whole story of his wagerwithPosthumus and how he had succeeded in imposing upon iscredulity.
WhatPosthumus felt at hearing this proof of the innocence of hisladycannot be expressed. He instantly came forward and confessedtoCymbeline the cruel sentence which he had enjoined Pisanio toexecuteupon the princessexclaimingwildly:
"OImogenmy queenmy lifemy wife! O ImogenImogenImogen!"
Imogencould not see her beloved husband in this distress withoutdiscoveringherselfto the unutterable joy of Posthumuswho wasthusrelieved from a weight of guilt and woeand restored to thegoodgraces of the dear lady he had so cruelly treated.
Cymbelinealmost as much overwhelmed as he with joyat findinghis lostdaughter so strangely recoveredreceived her to herformerplace in his fatherly affectionand not only gave herhusbandPosthumus his lifebut consented to acknowledge him forhisson-in-law.
Bellariuschose this time of joy and reconciliation to make hisconfession.He presented Polydore and Cadwal to the kingtellinghim theywere his two lost sonsGuiderius and Arviragus.
Cymbelineforgave old Bellarius; for who could think ofpunishmentsat a season of such universal happiness? To find hisdaughterlivingand his lost sons in the persons of his youngdeliverersthat he had seen so bravely fight in his defensewasunlooked-forjoy indeed!
Imogen wasnow at leisure to perform good services for her latemasterthe Roman generalLuciuswhose life the kingherfatherreadily granted at her request; and by the mediation ofthe sameLucius a peace was concluded between the Romans and theBritonswhich was kept inviolate many years.
HowCymbeline's wicked queenthrough despair of bringing herprojectsto passand touched with remorse of consciencesickenedand diedhaving first lived to see her foolish sonClotenslain in a quarrel which he had provokedare events tootragicalto interrupt this happy conclusion by more than merelytouchingupon. It is sufficient that all were made happy who weredeserving;and even the treacherous Iachimoin consideration ofhisvillainy having missed its final aimwas dismissed withoutpunishment.
LearKingof Britainhad three daughters: Gonerilwife to theDuke ofAlbany; Reganwife to the Duke of Cornwall; andCordeliaa young maidfor whose love the King of France andDuke ofBurgundy were joint suitorsand were at this time makingstay forthat purpose in the court of Lear.
The oldkingworn out with age and the fatigues of governmenthe beingmore than fourscore years olddetermined to take nofurtherpart in state affairsbut to leave the management toyoungerstrengthsthat he might have time to prepare for deathwhich mustat no long period ensue. With this intent he calledhis threedaughters to himto know from their own lips which ofthem lovedhim bestthat he might part his kingdom among them insuchproportions as their affection for him should seem todeserve.
Gonerilthe eldestdeclared that she loved her father more thanwordscould give outthat he was dearer to her than the light ofher owneyesdearer than life and libertywith a deal of suchprofessingstuffwhich is easy to counterfeit where there is noreal loveonly a few fine words delivered with confidence beingwanted inthat case. The kingdelighted to hear from her ownmouth thisassurance of her loveand thinking truly that herheart wentwith itin a fit of fatherly fondness bestowed uponher andher husband one-third of his ample kingdom.
Thencalling to him his second daughter he demanded what she hadto say.Reganwho was made of the same hollow metal as hersisterwas not a whit behind in her professionsbut ratherdeclaredthat what her sister had spoken came short of the lovewhich sheprofessed to bear for his Highness; in so much that shefound allother joys dead in comparison with the pleasure whichshe tookin the love of her dear king and father.
Learblessed himself in having such loving childrenas hethought;and could do no lessafter the handsome assuranceswhichRegan had madethan bestow a third of his kingdom upon herand herhusbandequal in size to that which he had alreadygiven awayto Goneril.
Thenturning to his youngest daughterCordeliawhom he calledhis joyhe asked what she had to saythinking no doubt that shewould gladhis ears with the same loving speeches which hersistershad utteredor rather that her expressions would be somuchstronger than theirsas she had always been his darlingandfavored by him above either of them. But Cordeliadisgustedwith theflattery of her sisterswhose hearts she knew were farfrom theirlipsand seeing that all their coaxing speeches wereonlyintended to wheedle the old king out of his dominionsthatthey andtheir husbands might reign in his lifetimemade nootherreply but this--that she loved his Majesty according to herdutyneither more nor less.
The kingshocked with this appearance of ingratitude in hisfavoritechilddesired her to consider her words and to mend herspeechlest it should mar her fortunes.
Cordeliathen told her father that he was her fatherthat he hadgiven herbreedingand loved her; that she returned those dutiesback aswas most fitand did obey himlove himand most honorhim. Butthat she could not frame her mouth to such largespeechesas her sisters had doneor promise to love nothing elsein theworld. Why had her sisters husbands if (as they said) theyhad nolove for anything but their father? If she should everwedshewas sure the lord to whom she gave her husband wouldwant halfher lovehalf of her care and duty; she should nevermarry likeher sistersto love her father all.
Cordeliawho in earnest loved her old father even almostextravagantlyas her sisters pretended to dowould have plainlytold himso at any other timein more daughter-like and lovingtermsandwithout these qualificationswhich did indeed sound alittleungracious; but after the craftyflattering speeches ofhersisterswhich she had seen draw such extravagant rewardsshethought the handsomest thing she could do was to love and besilent.This put her affection out of suspicion of mercenaryendsandshowed that she lovedbut not for gain; and that herprofessionsthe less ostentatious they werehad so much themore oftruth and sincerity than her sisters'.
Thisplainness of speechwhich Lear called prideso enraged theoldmonarch--who in his best of times always showed much ofspleen andrashnessand in whom the dotage incident to old agehad soclouded over his reason that he could not discern truthfromflatterynor a gaypainted speech from words that came fromtheheart--that in a fury of resentment he retracted the thirdpart ofhis kingdom which yet remainedand which he had reservedforCordeliaand gave it away from hersharing it equallybetweenher two sisters and their husbandsthe Dukes of AlbanyandCornwallwhom he now called to him and in presence of allhiscourtiersbestowing a coronet between theminvested themjointlywith all the powerrevenueand execution of governmentonlyretaining to himself the name of king; all the rest ofroyalty heresignedwith this reservationthat himselfwith ahundredknights for his attendantswas to be maintained bymonthlycourse in each of his daughters' palaces in turn.
Sopreposterous a disposal of his kingdomso little guided byreasonand so much by passionfilled all his courtiers withastonishmentand sorrow; but none of them had the courage tointerposebetween this incensed king and his wrathexcept theEarl ofKentwho was beginning to speak a good word forCordeliawhen the passionate Lear on pain of death commanded himto desist;but the good Kent was not so to be repelled. He hadbeen everloyal to Learwhom he had honored as a kingloved asa fatherfollowed as a master; and he had never esteemed hislifefurther than as a pawn to wage against his royal master'senemiesnor feared to lose it when Lear's safety was the motive;nornowthat Lear was most his own enemydid this faithfulservant ofthe king forget his old principlesbut manfullyopposedLear to do Lear good; and was unmannerly only becauseLear wasmad. He had been a most faithful counselor in times pastto thekingand he besought him now that he would see with hiseyes (ashe had done in many weighty matters) and go by hisadvicestilland in his best consideration recall this hideousrashness;for he would answer with his life his judgment thatLear'syoungest daughter did not love him leastnor were thoseempty-heartedwhose low sound gave no token of hollowness. Whenpowerbowed to flatteryhonor was bound to plainness. For Lear'sthreatswhat could he do to him whose life was already at hisservice?That should not hinder duty from speaking.
The honestfreedom of this good Earl of Kent only stirred up theking'swrath the moreandlike a frantic patient who kills hisphysicianand loves his mortal diseasehe banished this trueservantand allotted him but five days to make his preparationsfordeparture; but if on the sixth his hated person was foundwithin therealm of Britainthat moment was to be his death. AndKent badefarewell to the kingand said thatsince he chose toshowhimself in such fashionit was but banishment to staythere; andbefore he went he recommended Cordelia to theprotectionof the godsthe maid who had so rightly thought andsodiscreetly spoken; and only wished that her sisters' largespeechesmight be answered with deeds of love; and then he wentas hesaidto shape his old course to a new country.
The Kingof France and Duke of Burgundy were now called in tohear thedetermination of Lear about his youngest daughterandto knowwhether they would persist in their courtship toCordelianow that she was under her father's displeasure and hadno fortunebut her own person to recommend her. And the Duke ofBurgundydeclined the matchand would not take her to wife uponsuchconditions. But the King of Franceunderstanding what thenature ofthe fault had been which had lost her the love of herfather--thatit was only a tardiness of speech and the not beingable toframe her tongue to flattery like her sisters--took thisyoung maidby the hand andsaying that her virtues were a dowryabove akingdombade Cordelia to take farewell of her sistersand of herfatherthough he had been unkindand she should gowith himand be Queen of him and of fair Franceand reign overfairerpossessions than her sisters. And he called the Duke ofBurgundyin contempta waterish dukebecause his love for thisyoung maidhad in a moment run all away like water.
ThenCordelia with weeping eyes took leave of her sistersandbesoughtthem to love their father well and make good theirprofessions;and they sullenly told her not to prescribe to themfor theyknew their dutybut to strive to content her husbandwho hadtaken her (as they tauntingly expressed it) as Fortune'salms. AndCordelia with a heavy heart departedfor she knew thecunning ofher sisters and she wished her father in better handsthan shewas about to leave him in.
Cordeliawas no sooner gone than the devilish dispositions of hersistersbegan to show themselves 'in their true colors. Evenbefore theexpiration of the first monthwhich Lear was to spendbyagreementwith hisdaughterGonerilthe old king began tofind outthe difference between promises and performances. Thiswretchhaving got from her father all that he had to bestoweven tothe giving away of the crown from off his headbegan togrudgeeven those small remnants of royalty which the old man hadreservedto himselfto please his fancy with the idea of beingstill aking. She could not bear to see him and his knights.Every timeshe met her father she put on a frowning countenance;and whenthe old man wanted to speak with her she would feignsicknessor anything to get rid of the sight of himfor it wasplain thatshe esteemed his old age a useless burden and hisattendantsan unnecessary expense; not only she herself slackenedin herexpressions of duty to the kingbut by her exampleand(it is tobe feared) not without her private instructionsherveryservants affected to treat him with neglectand wouldeitherrefuse to obey his orders or still more contemptuouslypretendnot to hear them. Lear could not but perceive thisalterationin the behavior of his daughterbut he shut his eyesagainst itas long as he couldas people commonly are unwillingto believethe unpleasant consequences which their own mistakesandobstinacy have brought upon them.
True loveand fidelity are no more to be estranged by ILLthanfalsehoodand hollow-heartedness can be conciliated by GOODUSAGE.This eminently appears in the instance of the good Earl ofKentwhothough banished by Learand his life made forfeit ifhe werefound in Britainchose to stay and abide allconsequencesas long as there was a chance of his being useful tothe kinghis master. See to what mean shifts and disguises poorloyalty isforced to submit sometimes; yet it counts nothing baseorunworthy so as it can but do service where it owes anobligation!In the disguise of a serving-manall his greatnessand pomplaid asidethis good earl proffered his services to thekingwhonot knowing him to be Kent in that disguisebutpleasedwith a certain plainnessor rather bluntnessin hisanswerswhich the earl put on (so different from that smoothoilyflattery which he had so much reason to be sick ofhavingfound theeffects not answerable in his daughter)a bargain wasquicklystruckand Lear took Kent into his service by the nameof Caiusas he called himselfnever suspecting him to be hisonce greatfavoritethe high and mighty Earl of Kent.
This Caiusquickly found means to show his fidelity and love tohis royalmasterforGoneril's steward that same day behavingin adisrespectful manner to Learand giving him saucy looks andlanguageas no doubt he was secretly encouraged to do by hismistressCaiusnot enduring to hear so open an affront put uponhisMajestymade no more adobut presently tripped up his heelsand laidthe unmannerly slave in the kennel; for which friendlyserviceLear became more and more attached to him.
Nor wasKent the only friend Lear had. In his degreeand as faras soinsignificant a personage could show his lovethe poorfoolorjesterthat had been of his palace while Lear had apalaceasit was the custom of kings and great personages atthat timeto keep a fool (as he was called) to make them sportafterserious business--this poor fool clung to Lear after he hadgiven awayhis crownand by his witty sayings would keep up hisgood-humorthough he could not refrain sometimes from jeering athis masterfor his imprudence in uncrowning himself and givingall awayto his daughters; at which timeas he rhyminglyexpresseditthese daughters--
"For sudden joy did weep And I for sorrow sung That such a king should play bo-peep And go the fools among."
And insuch wild sayingsand scraps of songsof which he hadplentythis pleasanthonest fool poured out his heart even inthepresence of Goneril herselfin many a bitter taunt and jestwhich cutto the quicksuch as comparing the king to thehedgesparrowwho feeds the young of the cuckoo till they growoldenoughand then has its head bit off for its pains; andsayingthat an ass may know when the cart draws the horse(meaningthat Lear's daughtersthat ought to go behindnowrankedbefore their father); and that Lear was no longer Learbut theshadow of Lear. For which free speeches he was once ortwicethreatened to be whipped.
Thecoolness and falling off of respect which Lear had begun toperceivewere not all which this foolish fond father was tosufferfrom his unworthy daughter. She now plainly told him thathisstaying in her palace was inconvenient so long as he insisteduponkeeping up an establishment of a hundred knights; that thisestablishmentwas useless and expensive and only served to fillher courtwith riot and feasting; and she prayed him that hewouldlessen their number and keep none but old men about himsuch ashimselfand fitting his age.
Lear atfirst could not believe his eyes or earsnor that it washisdaughter who spoke so unkindly. He could not believe that shewho hadreceived a crown from him could seek to cut off his trainand grudgehim the respect due to his old age. But she persistingin herundutiful demandthe old man's rage was so excited thathe calledher a detested kite and said that she spoke an untruth;and soindeed she didfor the hundred knights were all men ofchoicebehavior and sobriety of mannersskilled in allparticularsof dutyand not given to rioting or feastingas shesaid. Andhe bid his horses to be preparedfor he would go tohis otherdaughterReganhe and his hundred knights; and hespoke ofingratitudeand said it was a marble-hearted devilandshowedmore hideous in a child than the sea-monster. And hecursed hiseldest daughterGonerilso as was terrible to hearprayingthat she might never have a childorif she hadthatit mightlive to return that scorn and contempt upon her whichshe hadshown to him; that she might feel how sharper than aserpent'stooth it was to have a thankless child. And Goneril'shusbandthe Duke of Albanybeginning to excuse himself for anysharewhich Lear might suppose he had in the unkindnessLearwould nothear him outbut in a rage ordered his horses to besaddledand set out with his followers for the abode of Reganhis otherdaughter. And Lear thought to himself how small thefault ofCordelia (if it was a fault) now appeared in comparisonwith hersister'sand he wept; and then he was ashamed that sucha creatureas Goneril should have so much power over his manhoodas to makehim weep.
Regan andher husband were keeping their court in great pomp andstate attheir palace; and Lear despatched his servant Caius withletters tohis daughterthat she might be prepared for hisreceptionwhile he and his train followed after. But it seemsthatGoneril had been beforehand with himsending letters alsoto Reganaccusing her father of waywardness and ill-humorsandadvisingher not to receive so great a train as he was bringingwith him.This messenger arrived at the same time with CaiusandCaius andhe metand who should it be but Caius's old enemy thestewardwhom he had formerly tripped up by the heels for hissaucybehavior to Lear. Caius not liking the fellow's lookandsuspectingwhat he came forbegan to revile him and challengedhim tofightwhich the fellow refusingCaiusin a fit ofhonestpassionbeat him soundlyas such a mischief-maker andcarrier ofwicked messages deserved; which coming to the ears ofRegan andher husbandthey ordered Caius to be put in thestocksthough he was a messenger from the king her father and inthatcharacter demanded the highest respect. So that the firstthing theking saw when he entered the castle was his faithfulservantCaius sitting in that disgraceful situation.
This wasbut a bad omen of the reception which he was to expect;but aworse followed whenupon inquiry for his daughter and herhusbandhe was told they were weary with traveling all night andcould notsee him; and whenlastlyupon his insisting in apositiveand angry manner to see themthey came to greet himwhomshould he see in their company but the hated Gonerilwhohad cometo tell her own story and set her sister against theking herfather!
This sightmuch moved the old manand still more to see Regantake herby the hand; and he asked Goneril if she was not ashamedto lookupon his old white beard. And Regan advised him to gohome againwith Goneriland live with her peaceablydismissinghalf ofhis attendantsand to ask her forgiveness; for he wasold andwanted discretionand must be ruled and led by personsthat hadmore discretion than himself. And Lear showed howpreposterousthat would soundif he were to go down on his kneesand beg ofhis own daughter for food and raiment; and he arguedagainstsuch an unnatural dependencedeclaring his resolutionnever toreturn with herbut to stay where he was with Reganheand hishundred knights; for he said that she had not forgot thehalf ofthe kingdom which he had endowed her withand that hereyes werenot fierce like Goneril'sbut mild and kind. And hesaid thatrather than return to Gonerilwith half his train cutoffhewould go over to France and beg a wretched pension of thekingtherewho had married his youngest daughter without aportion.
But he wasmistaken in expecting kinder treatment of Regan thanhe hadexperienced from her sister Goneril. As if willing tooutdo hersister in unfilial behaviorshe declared that shethoughtfifty knights too many to wait upon him; thatfive-and-twentywere enough. Then Learnigh heartbrokenturnedto Goneriland said that he would go back with herfor her fiftydoubledfive-and-twentyand so her love was twice as much asRegan's.But Goneril excused herselfand saidwhat need of somany asfive-and twenty? or even ten? or five? when he might bewaitedupon by her servants or her sister's servants? So thesetwo wickeddaughtersas if they strove to exceed each other incruelty totheir old fatherwho had been so good to thembylittle andlittle would have abated him of all his trainallrespect(little enough for him that once commanded a kingdom)which wasleft him to show that he had once been a king! Not thata splendidtrain is essential to happinessbut from a king to abeggar isa hard changefrom commanding millions to be withoutoneattendant; and it was the ingratitude in his daughters'denyingmore than what he would suffer by the want of itwhichpiercedthis poor king to the heart; in so much thatwith thisdoubleill-usageand vexation for having so foolishly given awaya kingdomhis wits began to be unsettledand while he said heknew notwhathe vowed revenge against those unnatural hags andto makeexamples of them that should be a terror to the earth!
While hewas thus idly threatening what his weak arm could neverexecutenight came onand a loud storm of thunder and lightningwith rain;and his daughters still persisting in their resolutionnot toadmit his followershe called for his horsesand choserather toencounter the utmost fury of the storm abroad than stayunder thesame roof with these ungrateful daughters; and theysayingthat the injuries which wilful men procure to themselvesare theirjust punishmentsuffered him to go in that conditionand shuttheir doors upon him.
The windswere highand the rain and storm increasedwhen theold mansallied forth to combat with the elementsless sharpthan hisdaughters' unkindness. For many miles about there wasscarce abush; and there upon a heathexposed to the fury of thestorm in adark nightdid King Lear wander outand defy thewinds andthe thunder; and he bid the winds to blow the earthinto theseaor swell the waves of the sea till they drowned theearththat no token might remain of any such ungrateful animalas man.The old king was now left with no other companion thanthe poorfoolwho still abided with himwith his merry conceitsstrivingto outjest misfortunesaying it was but a naughty nightto swiminand truly the king had better go in and ask hisdaughter'sblessing:
But he that has a little tiny wit-- With heigh hothe wind and the rain-- Must make content with his fortunes fit Though the rain it raineth every day
andswearing it was a brave night to cool a lady's pride.
Thuspoorly accompaniedthis once great monarch was found by hisever-faithfulservant the good Earl of Kentnow transformed toCaiuswhoever followed close at his sidethough the king didnot knowhim to be the earl; and be said:
"Alassirare you here? Creatures that love night love not suchnights asthese. This dreadful storm has driven the beasts totheirhiding-places. Man's nature cannot endure the affliction orthe fear."
And Learrebuked him and said these lesser evils were not feltwhere agreater malady was fixed. When the mind is at ease thebody hasleisure to be delicatebut the tempest in his mind didtake allfeeling else from his senses but of that which beat athis heart.And he spoke of filial ingratitudeand said it wasall one asif the mouth should tear the hand for lifting food toit; forparents were hands and food and everything to children.
But thegood Caius still persisting in his entreaties that theking wouldnot stay out in the open airat last persuaded him toenter alittle wretched hovel which stood upon the heathwherethe foolfirst enteringsuddenly ran back terrifiedsaying thathe hadseen a spirit. But upon examination this spirit proved tobe nothingmore than a poor Bedlam beggar who had crept into thisdesertedhovel for shelterand with his talk about devilsfrightedthe foolone of those poor lunatics who are either mador feignto be sothe better to extort charity from thecompassionatecountry peoplewho go about the country callingthemselvespoor Tom and poor Turlygoodsaying"Who givesanythingto poor Tom?" sticking pins and nails and sprigs ofrosemaryinto their arms to make them bleed; and with horribleactionspartly by prayersand partly with lunatic cursestheymove orterrify the ignorant country folk into giving them alms.This poorfellow was such a one; and the kingseeing him in sowretched aplightwith nothing but a blanket about his loins tocover hisnakednesscould not be persuaded but that the fellowwas somefather who had given all away to his daughters andbroughthimself to that pass; for nothinghe thoughtcouldbring aman to such wretchedness but the having unkind daughters.
And fromthis and many such wild speeches which he uttered thegood Caiusplainly perceived that he was not in his perfect mindbut thathis daughters' ill-usage had really made him go mad. Andnow theloyalty of this worthy Earl of Kent showed itself in moreessentialservices than he had hitherto found opportunity toperform.For with the assistance of some of the king's attendantswhoremained loyal he had the person of his royal master removedatdaybreak to the castle of Doverwhere his own friends andinfluenceas Earl of Kentchiefly lay; and himselfembarkingforFrancehastened to the court of Cordeliaand did there insuchmoving terms represent the pitiful condition of her royalfatherand set out in such lively colors the inhumanity of hersistersthat this good and loving child with many tears besoughtthe kingher husbandthat he would give her leave to embark forEnglandwith a sufficient power to subdue these cruel daughtersand theirhusbands and restore the old kingher fatherto histhrone;which being grantedshe set forthand with a royal armylanded atDover.
Learhaving by some chance escaped from the guardians which' thegood Earlof Kent had put over him to take care of him in hislunacywas found by some of Cordelia's trainwandering aboutthe fieldsnear Doverin a pitiable conditionstark madandsingingaloud to himselfwith a crown upon his head which he hadmade ofstraw and nettles and other wild weeds that he had pickedup in thecorn-fields. By the advice of the physiciansCordeliathoughearnestly desirous of seeing her fatherwas prevailedupon toput off the meeting tillby sleep and the operation ofherbswhich they gave himhe should be restored to greatercomposure.By the aid of these skilful physiciansto whomCordeliapromised all her gold and jewels for the recovery of theold kingLear was soon in a condition to see his daughter.
A tendersight it was to see the meeting between this father anddaughter;to see the struggles between the joy of this poor oldking atbeholding again his once darling childand the shame atreceivingsuch filial kindness from her whom he had cast off forso small afault in his displeasure; both these passionsstrugglingwith the remains of his maladywhich in hishalf-crazedbrain sometimes made him that he scarce rememberedwhere hewas or who it was tb at so kindly kissed him and spoketo him.And then he would beg the standers-by not to laugh at himif he weremistaken in thinking this lady to be his daughterCordelia!And then to see him fall on his knees to beg pardon ofhis child;and shegood ladykneeling all the while to ask ablessingof himand telling him that it did not become him tokneelbutit was her dutyfor she was his childhis true andvery childCordelia! And she kissed him (as she said) to kissaway allher sisters' unkindnessand said that they might beashamed ofthemselvesto turn their old kind father with hiswhitebeard out into the cold airwhen her enemy's dogthoughit had bither (as she prettily expressed it)should have stayedby herfire such a night as thatand warmed himself. And shetold herfather how she had come from France with purpose tobring himassistance; and he said that she must forget andforgivefor he was old and foolish and did not know what he did;but thatto be sure she had great cause not to love himbut hersistershad none. And Cordelia said that she had no causenomore thanthey had.
So we willleave this old king in the protection of his dutifuland lovingchildwhereby the help of sleep and medicinesheand herphysicians at length succeeded in winding up the untunedandjarring senses which the cruelty of his other daughters hadsoviolently shaken. Let us return to say a word or two aboutthosecruel daughters.
Thesemonsters of ingratitudewho had been so false to their oldfathercould not be expected to prove more faithful to their ownhusbands.They soon grew tired of paying even the appearance ofduty andaffectionand in an open way showed they had fixedtheirloves upon another. It happened that the object of theirguiltyloves was the same. It was Edmunda natural son of thelate Earlof Gloucesterwho by his treacheries had succeeded indisinheritinghis brother Edgarthe lawful heirfrom hisearldomand by his wicked practices was now earl himself; awickedmanand a fit object for the love of such wickedcreaturesas Goneril and Regan. It falling out about this timethat theDuke of CornwallRegan's husbanddiedReganimmediatelydeclared her intention of wedding this Earl ofGloucesterwhich rousing the jealousy of her sisterto whom aswell as toRegan this wicked earl had at sundry times professedloveGoneril found means to make away with her sister by poison;but beingdetected in her practicesand imprisoned by herhusbandthe Duke of Albanyfor this deedand for her guiltypassionfor the earl which had come to his earsshein a fit ofdisappointedlove and rageshortly put an end to her own life.Thus thejustice of Heaven at last overtook these wickeddaughters.
While theeyes of all men were upon this eventadmiring thejusticedisplayed in their deserved deathsthe same eyes weresuddenlytaken off from this sight to admire at the mysteriousways ofthe same power in the melancholy fate of the young andvirtuousdaughterthe Lady Cordeliawhose good deeds did seemto deservea more fortunate conclusion. But it is an awful truththatinnocence and piety are not always successful in this world.The forceswhich Goneril and Regan had sent out under the commandof the badEarl of Gloucester were victoriousand Cordeliabythepractices of this wicked earlwho did not like that anyshouldstand between him and the throneended her life inprison.Thus heaven took this innocent lady to itself in heryoungyearsafter showing her to the world an illustriousexample offilial duty. Lear did not long survive this kindchild.
Before hediedthe good Earl of Kentwho had still attended hisoldmaster's steps from the first of his daughters' ill-usage tothis sadperiod of his decaytried to make him understand thatit was hewho had followed him under the name of Caius; butLear'scare-crazed brain at that time could not comprehend howthat couldbeor how Kent and Caius could be the same personsoKentthought it needless to trouble him with explanations at sucha time;andLear soon after expiringthis faithful servant tothe kingbetween age and grief for his old master's vexationssoonfollowed him to the grave.
How thejudgment of Heaven overtook the bad Earl of Gloucesterwhosetreasons were discoveredand himself slain in singlecombatwith his brotherthe lawful earland how Goneril'shusbandthe Duke of Albanywho was innocent of the death ofCordeliaand had never encouraged his lady in her wickedproceedingsagainst her fatherascended the throne of Britainafter thedeath of Learit is needless here to narrateLear andhis threedaughters being deadwhose adventures alone concernour story.
WhenDuncan the Meek reigned King of Scotland there lived a greatthaneorlordcalled Macbeth. This Macbeth was a near kinsmanto thekingand in great esteem at court for his valor andconduct inthe warsan example of which he had lately given indefeatinga rebel army assisted by the troops of Norway interriblenumbers.
The twoScottish generalsMacbeth and Banquoreturningvictoriousfrom this great battletheir way lay over a blastedheathwhere they were stopped by the strange appearance of threefigureslike womenexcept that they had beardsand theirwitheredskins and wild attire made them look not like anyearthlycreatures. Macbeth first addressed themwhen theyseeminglyoffendedlaid each one her choppy finger upon herskinnylipsin token of silence; and the first of them salutedMacbethwith the title of Thane of Glamis. The general was not alittlestartled to find himself known by such creatures; but howmuch morewhen the second of them followed up that salute bygiving himthe title of Thane of Cawdorto which honor he had nopretensions;and again the third bid him"All hail! that shaltbe kinghereafter!" Such a prophetic greeting might well amazehimwhoknew that while the king's sons lived he could not hopeto succeedto the throne. Then turning to Banquothey pronouncedhimin asort of riddling termsto be LESSER THAN MACBETHANDGREATER!NOT SO HAPPYBUT MUCH HAPPIER! and prophesied thatthough heshould never reignyet his sons after him should bekings inScotland. They then turned into air and vanished; bywhich thegenerals knew them to be the weird sistersor witches.
While theystood pondering on the strangeness of this adventuretherearrived certain messengers from the kingwho wereempoweredby him to confer upon Macbeth the dignity of Thane ofCawdor. Anevent so miraculously corresponding with thepredictionof the witches astonished Macbethand he stoodwrapped inamazementunable to make reply to the messengers; andin thatpoint of time swelling hopes arose in his mind that thepredictionof the third witch might in like manner have itsaccomplishmentand that he should one day reign king inScotland.
Turning toBanquohe said"Do you not hope that your childrenshall bekingswhen what the witches promised to me has sowonderfullycome to pass?"
"Thathope" answered the general"might enkindle you to aim atthethrone; but oftentimes these ministers of darkness tell ustruths inlittle thingsto betray us into deeds of greatestconsequence."
But thewicked suggestions of the witches had sunk too deep intothe mindof Macbeth to allow him to attend to the warnings of thegoodBanquo. From that time he bent all his thoughts how tocompassthe throne of Scotland.
Macbethhad a wifeto whom he communicated the strangepredictionof the weird sisters and its partial accomplishment.She was abadambitious womanand so as her husband and herselfcouldarrive at greatness she cared not much by what means. Shespurred onthe reluctant purpose of Macbethwho felt compunctionat thethoughts of bloodand did not cease to represent themurder ofthe king as a step absolutely necessary to thefulfilmentof the flattering prophecy.
Ithappened at this time that the kingwho out of his royalcondescensionwould oftentimes visit his principal nobility upongracioustermscame to Macbeth's houseattended by his twosonsMalcolm and Donalbainand a numerous train of thanes andattendantsthe more to honor Macbeth for the triumphal successof hiswars.
The castleof Macbeth was pleasantly situated and the air aboutit wassweet and wholesomewhich appeared by the nests which themartletor swallowhad built under all the jutting friezes andbuttressesof the buildingwherever it found a place ofadvantage;for where those birds most breed and haunt the air isobservedto be delicate. The king enteredwell pleased with theplaceandnot less so with the attentions and respect of hishonoredhostessLady Macbethwho had the art of coveringtreacherouspurposes with smilesand could look like theinnocentflower while she was indeed serpent under it.
The kingbeing tired with his journeywent early to bedand inhisstate-room two grooms of his chamber (as was the custom)besidehim. He had been unusually pleased with his receptionandhad madepresents before he retired to his principal ; and amongthe resthad sent a diamond to Lady Macbethgreeting the name ofhis mostkind hostess.
Now wasthe middle of nightwhen over half the world natureseemsdeadand wicked dreams abuse men's minds asleepand nonebut thewolf and the murderer are abroad. This was the time whenLadyMacbeth waked to plot the murder of the king. She would nothaveundertaken a deed so abhorrent to her sex but that shefeared herhusband's naturethat it was too full of the milk ofhumankindness to do a contrived murder. She knew him to beambitiousbut withal to be scrupulousand not yet prepared forthatheight of crime which commonly in the end accompaniesinordinateambition. She had won him to consent to the murderbut shedoubted his resolution; and she feared that the naturaltendernessof his disposition (more humane than her own) wouldcomebetween and defeat the purpose. So with her own hands armedwith adagger she approached the king's bedhaving taken care toply thegrooms of his chamber so with wine that they sleptintoxicatedand careless of their charge. There lay Duncan in asoundsleep after the fatigues of his journeyand as she viewedhimearnestly there was something in his faceas he sleptwhichresembledher own fatherand she had not the courage to proceed.
Shereturned to confer with her husband. His resolution had beguntostagger. He considered that there were strong reasons againstthe deed.In the first placehe was not only a subjectbut anearkinsman to the king; and he had been his host andentertainerthat daywhose dutyby the laws of hospitalityitwas toshut the door against his murderersnot bear the knifehimself.Then he considered how just and merciful a king thisDuncan hadbeenhow clear of offense to his subjectshow lovingto hisnobilityand in particular to him; that such kings arethepeculiar care of Heavenand their subjects doubly bound torevengetheir deaths. Besidesby the favors of the kingMacbethstood highin the opinion of all sorts of menand how wouldthosehonors be stained by the reputation of so foul a murder!
In theseconflicts of the mind Lady Macbeth found her husbandincliningto the better part and resolving to proceed no further.But shebeing a woman not easily shaken from her evil purposebegan topour in at his ears words which infused a portion of herown spiritinto his mindassigning reason upon reason why heshould notshrink from what he had undertaken; how easy the deedwas; howsoon it would be over; and how the action of one shortnightwould give to all their nights and days to come sovereignsway androyalty! Then she threw contempt on his change ofpurposeand accused him of fickleness and cowardice; anddeclaredthat she had given suckand knew how tender it was tolove thebabe that milked herbut she wouldwhile it wassmiling inher facehave plucked it from her breast and dashedits brainsout if she had so sworn to do it as he had sworn toperformthat murder. Then she addedhow practicable it was tolay theguilt of the deed upon the drunkensleepy grooms. Andwith thevalor of her tongue she so chastised his sluggishresolutionsthat he once more summoned up courage to the bloodybusiness.
Sotakingthe dagger in his handhe softly stole in the dark tothe roomwhere Duncan lay; and as he went he thought he sawanotherdagger in the airwith the handle toward himand on theblade andat the point of it drops of blood; but when be tried tograsp atit it was nothing but aira mere phantasm proceedingfrom hisown hot and oppressed brain and the business he had inhand.
Gettingrid of this fearhe entered the king's roomwhom hedespatchedwith one stroke of his dagger. just as he had done themurder oneof the grooms who slept in the chamber laughed in hissleepandthe other cried"Murder" which woke them both.
But theysaid a short prayer; one of them said"God less us!"and theother answered"Amen"; and addressed themselves to sleepagain.Macbethwho stood listening to themtried to say "Amen"when thefellow said "God bless us!" butthough he had most needof ablessingthe word stuck in his throat and he could notpronounceit.
Again hethought he heard a voice which cried: "Sleep no more!Macbethdoth murder sleepthe innocent sleepthat nourisheslife."Still it cried"Sleep no more!" to all the house. "Glamishathmurdered sleepand therefore Cawdor shall sleep no moreMacbethshall sleep no more."
With suchhorrible imaginations Macbeth returned to his listeningwifewhobegan to think he had failed of his purpose and thatthe deedwas somehow frustrated. He came in so distracted a statethat shereproached him with his want of firmness and sent him towash hishands of the blood which stained themwhile she tookhisdaggerwith purpose to stain the cheeks of the grooms withbloodtomake it seem their guilt.
Morningcameand with it the discovery of the murderwhichcould notbe concealed; and though Macbeth and his lady madegreat showof griefand the proofs against the grooms (thedaggerbeing produced against them and their faces smeared withblood)were sufficiently strongyet the entire suspicion felluponMacbethwhose inducements to such a deed were so much moreforciblethan such poor silly grooms could be supposed to have;andDuncan's two sons fled. Malcolmthe eldestsought forrefuge inthe English court; and the youngestDonalbainmadehis escapeto Ireland.
The king'ssonswho should have succeeded himhaving thusvacatedthe throneMacbeth as next heir was crowned kingandthus theprediction of the weird sisters was literallyaccomplished.
Thoughplaced so highMacbeth and his queen could not forget theprophecyof the weird sisters thatthough Macbeth should bekingyetnot his childrenbut the children of Banquoshould bekingsafter him. The thought of thisand that they had defiledtheirhands with bloodand done so great crimesonly to placetheposterity of Banquo upon the throneso rankled within themthat theydetermined to put to death both Banquo and his sontomake voidthe predictions of the weird sisterswhich in theirown casehad been so remarkably brought to pass.
For thispurpose they made a great supperto which they invitedall thechief thanes; and among the restwith marks ofparticularrespectBanquo and his son Fleance were invited. Theway bywhich Banquo was to pass to the palace at night was besetbymurderers appointed by Macbethwho stabbed Banquo; but in thescuffleFleance escaped. From that Fleance descended a race ofmonarchswho afterward filled the Scottish throneending withJames theSixth of Scotland and the First of Englandunder whomthe twocrowns of England and Scotland were united.
At supperthe queenwhose manners were in the highest degreeaffableand royalplayed the hostess with a gracefulness andattentionwhich conciliated every one presentand Macbethdiscoursedfreely with his thanes and noblessaying that allthat washonorable in the country was under his roofif he hadbut hisgood friend Banquo presentwhom yet he hoped he shouldratherhave to chide for neglect than to lament for anymischance.just at these words the ghost of Banquowhom he hadcaused tobe murderedentered the room and placed himself on thechairwhich Macbeth was about to occupy. Though Macbeth was abold manand one that could have faced the devil withouttremblingat this horrible sight his cheeks turned white withfear andhe stood quite unmannedwith his eyes fixed upon theghost. Hisqueen and all the nobleswho saw nothingbutperceivedhim gazing (as they thought) upon an empty chairtookit for afit of distraction; and she reproached himwhisperingthat itwas but the same fancy which made him see the dagger inthe airwhen he was about to kill Duncan. But Macbeth continuedto see theghostand gave no heed to all they could saywhileheaddressed it with distracted wordsyet so significant thathis queenfearing the dreadful secret would be disclosedingreathaste dismissed the guestsexcusing the infirmity ofMacbeth asdisorder he was often troubled with.
To suchdreadful fancies Macbeth was subject. His queen and hehad theirsleeps afflicted with terrible dreamsand the blood ofBanquotroubled them not more than the escape of Fleancewhomnow theylooked upon as father to a line of kings who should keeptheirposterity out of the throne. With these miserable thoughtsthey foundno peaceand Macbeth determined once more to seek outthe weirdsisters and know from them the worst.
He soughtthem in a cave upon the heathwhere theywho knew byforesightof his comingwere engaged in preparing their dreadfulcharms bywhich they conjured up infernal spirits to reveal tothemfuturity. Their horrid ingredients were toadsbatsandserpentsthe eye of a newt and the tongue of a dogthe leg of alizard andthe wing of the night-owlthe scale of a dragonthetooth of awolfthe maw of the ravenous salt-sea sharkthemummy of awitchthe root of the poisonous hemlock (this to haveeffectmust be digged in the dark)the gall of a goatand theliver of aJewwith slips of the yew-tree that roots itself ingravesand the finger of a dead child. All these were set on toboil in agreat kettleor caldronwhichas fast as it grew toohotwascooled with a baboon's blood. To these they poured inthe bloodof a sow that had eaten her youngand they threw intothe flamethe grease that had sweaten from a murderer's gibbet.By thesecharms they bound the infernal spirit to answer theirquestions.
It wasdemanded of Macbeth whether he would have his doubtsresolvedby them or by their mastersthe spirits.
Henothing daunted by the dreadful ceremonies which be sawboldlyanswered: "Where are they? Let me see them."
And theycalled the spiritswhich were three. And the firstarose inthe likeness of an armed headand he called Macbeth byname andbid him beware of the Thane of Fife; for which cautionMacbeththanked him; for Macbeth had entertained a jealousy ofMacduffthe Thane of Fife.
And thesecond spirit arose in the likeness of a bloody childand hecalled Macbeth by name and bid him have no fearbut laughto scornthe power of manfor none of woman born should havepower tohurt him; and he advised him to be bloodyboldandresolute.
"ThenliveMacduff!" cried the king. "What need I fear thee? Butyet I willmake assurance doubly sure. Thou shalt not livethatI may tellpale-hearted fear it liesand sleep in spite ofthunder."
Thatspirit being dismisseda third arose in the form of a childcrownedwith a tree in his hand. He called Macbeth by name andcomfortedhim against conspiraciessaying that he should neverbevanquished until the wood of Birnam to Dunsinane hill shouldcomeagainst him.
"Sweetbodements! good!" cried Macbeth; "who can unfix theforestand move it from its earth-bound roots? I see I shalllive theusual period of man's lifeand not be cut off by aviolentdeath. But my heart throbs to know one thing. Tell meifyour artcan tell so muchif Banquo's issue shall ever reign inthiskingdom?"
Here thecaldron sank into the groundand a noise of music washeardandeight shadowslike kingspassed by MacbethandBanquolastwho bore a glass which showed the figures of manymoreandBanquoall bloodysmiled upon Macbethand pointed tothem; bywhich Macbeth knew that these were the posterity ofBanquowho should reign after him in Scotland; and the witcheswith asound of soft musicand with dancingmaking a show ofduty andwelcome to Macbethvanished. And from this time thethoughtsof Macbeth were all bloody and dreadful. The first thinghe heardwhen he got out of the witches' cave was that MacduffThane ofFifehad fled to England to join the army which wasformingagainst him under Malcolmthe eldest son of the latekingwithintent to displace Macbeth and set Malcolmthe rightheiruponthe throne. Macbethstung with rageset upon thecastle ofMacduff and put his wife and childrenwhom the thanehad leftbehindto the swordand extended the slaughter to allwhoclaimed the least relationship to Macduff.
These andsuch-like deeds alienated the minds of all his chiefnobilityfrom him. Such as could fled to join with Malcolm andMacduffwho were now approaching with a powerful army which theyhad raisedin England; and the rest secretly wished success totheirarmsthoughfor fear of Macbeththey could take noactivepart. His recruits went on slowly. Everybody hated thetyrant;nobody loved or honored him; but all suspected him; andhe beganto envy the condition of Duncanwhom he had murderedwho sleptsoundly in his graveagainst whom treason had done itsworst.Steel nor poisondomestic malice nor foreign leviescould hurthim any longer.
Whilethese things were actingthe queenwho had been the solepartner inhis wickednessin whose bosom he could sometimes seekamomentary repose from those terrible dreams which afflictedthem bothnightlydiedit is supposedby her own handsunableto bearthe remorse of guilt and public hate; by which event hewas leftalonewithout a soul to love or care for himor afriend towhom he could confide his wicked purposes.
He grewcareless of life and wished for death; but the nearapproachof Malcolm's army roused in him what remained of hisancientcourageand he determined to die (as he expressed it)"witharmor on his back." Besides thisthe hollow promises ofthewitches had filled him with a false confidenceand herememberedthe sayings of the spiritsthat none of woman bornwas tohurt himand that he was never to be vanquished tillBirnamwood should come to Dunsinanewhich he thought couldnever be.So he shut himself up in his castlewhose impregnablestrengthwas such as defied a siege. Here he sullenly waited theapproachof Malcolm. Whenupon a daythere came a messenger tohimpaleand shaking with fearalmost unable to report thatwhich hehad seen; for he averredthat as he stood upon hiswatch onthe hill he looked toward Birnamand to his thinkingthe woodbegan to move!
"Liarand slave!" cried Macbeth. "If thou speakest falsethoushalt hangalive upon the next treetill famine end thee. If thytale betrueI care not if thou dost as much by me"; for Macbethnow beganto faint in resolutionand to doubt the equivocalspeechesof the spirits. He was not to fear till Birnam woodshouldcome to Dunsinane; and now a wood did move! "However"said he"if this which he avouches be truelet us arm and out.There isno flying hencenor staying here. I begin to be wearyof thesunand wish my life at an end." With these desperatespeecheshe sallied forth upon the besiegerswho had now come upto thecastle.
Thestrange appearance which had given the messenger an idea of awoodmoving is easily solved. When the besieging army marchedthroughthe wood of BirnamMalcolmlike a skilful generalinstructedhis soldiers to hew down every one a bough and bear itbeforehimby way of concealing the true numbers of his host.Thismarching of the soldiers with boughs had at a distance theappearancewhich had frightened the messenger. Thus were thewords ofthe spirit brought to passin a sense different fromthat inwhich Macbeth had understood themand one great hold ofhisconfidence was gone.
And now asevere skirmishing took placein which Macbeththoughfeeblysupported by those who called themselves his friendsbutin realityhated the tyrant and inclined to the party of MalcolmandMacduffyet fought with the extreme of rage and valorcutting topieces all who were opposed to himtill he came towhereMacduff was fighting. Seeing Macduffand remembering thecaution ofthe spirit who had counseled him to avoid Macduffabove allmenhe would have turnedbut Macduffwho had beenseekinghim through the whole fightopposed his turningand afiercecontest ensuedMacduff giving him many foul reproachesfor themurder of his wife and children. Macbethwhose soul waschargedenough with blood of that family alreadywould stillhavedeclined the combat; but Macduff still urged him to itcallinghim tyrantmurdererhell-houndand villain.
ThenMacbeth remembered the words of the spirithow none ofwoman bornshould hurt him; andsmiling confidentlyhe said toMacduff:
"Thoulosest thy laborMacduff. As easily thou mayest impressthe airwith thy sword as make me vulnerable. I bear a charmedlifewhich must not yield to one of woman born."
"Despairthy charm" said Macduff"and let that lying spiritwhom thouhast served tell thee that Macduff was never born ofwomannever as the ordinary manner of men is to be bornbut wasuntimelytaken from his mother."
"Accursedbe the tongue which tells me so" said the tremblingMacbethwho felt his last hold of confidence give way; "and letnever manin future believe the lying equivocations of witchesandjuggling spirits who deceive us in words which have doublesensesandwhile they keep their promise literallydisappointour hopeswith a different meaning. I will not fight with thee."
"Thenlive!" said the scornful Macduff. "We will have a show oftheeasmen show monstersand a painted boardon which all bewritten'Here men may see the tyrant!'"
"Never"said Macbethwhose courage returned with despair. "Iwill notlive to kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet tobe baitedwith the curses of the rabble. Though Birnam wood become toDunsinaneand thou opposed to mewho wast born ofwomanyetwill I try the last."
With thesefrantic words he threw himself upon Macduffwhoafter asevere strugglein the end overcame himandcuttingoff hisheadmade a present of it to the young and lawful kingMalcolmwho took upon him the government whichby themachinationsof the usurperhe had so long been deprived ofandascendedthe throne of Duncan the Meek among the acclamations ofthe noblesand the people.
BertramCount of Rousillonhad newly come to his title andestate bythe death of his father. The King of France loved thefather ofBertramand when he heard of his death he sent for hisson tocome immediately to his royal court in Parisintendingfor thefriendship he bore the late countto grace young Bertramwith hisespecial favor and protection.
Bertramwas living with his motherthe widowed countesswhenLafeuanold lord of the French courtcame to conduct him tothe king.The King of France was an absolute monarch and theinvitationto court was in the form of a royal mandateorpositivecommandwhich no subjectof what high dignity soevermightdisobey; thereforethough the countessin parting withthis dearsonseemed a second time to bury her husbandwhoseloss shehad so lately mournedyet she dared not to keep him asingledaybut gave instant orders for his departure. Lafeuwhocame tofetch himtried to comfort the countess for the loss ofher latelord and her son's sudden absence; and he saidin acourtier'sflattering mannerthat the king was so kind a princeshe wouldfind in his Majesty a husbandand that he would be afather toher son; meaning only that the good king would befriendthefortunes of Bertram. Lafeu told the countess that the kinghad falleninto a sad maladywhich was pronounced by hisphysiciansto be incurable. The lady expressed great sorrow onhearingthis account of the king's ill healthand said shewished thefather of Helena (a young gentlewoman who was presentinattendance upon her) were living that she doubted not he couldhave curedhis Majesty of his disease. And she told Lafeusomethingof the history of Helenasaying she was the onlydaughterof the famous physicianGerard de Narbonand that hehadrecommended his daughter to her care when he was dyingsothat sincehis death she had taken Helena under her protection;then thecountess praised the virtuous disposition and excellentqualitiesof Helenasaying she inherited these virtues from herworthyfather. While she was speakingHelena wept in sad andmournfulsilencewhich made the countess gently reprove her fortoo muchgrieving for her father's death.
Bertramnow bade his mother farewell. The countess parted withthis dearson with tears and many blessingsand commended him tothe careof Lafeusaying:
"Goodmy lordadvise himfor he is an unseasoned courtier."
Bertram'slast words were spoken to Helenabut they were wordsof merecivilitywishing her happiness; and he concluded hisshortfarewell to her with saying:
"Becomfortable to my motheryour mistressand make much ofher."
Helena hadlong loved Bertramand when she wept in sad andmournfulsilence the tears she shed were not for Gerard deNarbon..Helena loved her fatherbut in the present feeling of adeeperlovethe object of which she was about to loseshe hadforgottenthe very form and features of her dead fatherherimaginationpresenting no image to her mind but Bertram's.
Helena hadlong loved Bertramyet she always remembered that hewas theCount of Rousillondescended from the most ancientfamily inFrance. She of humble birth. Her parents of no note atall. Hisancestors all noble. And therefore she looked up to thehigh-bornBertram as to her master and to her dear lordanddared notform any wish but to live his servantandso livingto die hisvassal. So great the distance seemed to her betweenhis heightof dignity and her lowly fortunes that she would say:
"Itwere all one that I should love a bright particular starandthink towed itBertram is so far above me."
Bertram'sabsence filled her eyes with tears and her heart withsorrow;for though she loved without hopeyet it was a prettycomfort toher to see him every hourand Helena would sit andlook uponhis dark eyehis arched browand the curls of hisfine hairtill she seemed to draw his portrait on the tablet ofher heartthat heart too capable of retaining the memory ofevery linein the features of that loved face.
Gerard deNarbonwhen he diedleft her no other portion thansomeprescriptions of rare and well-proved virtuewhichby deepstudy andlong experience in medicinehe had collected assovereignand almost infallible remedies. Among the rest therewas oneset down as an approved medicine for the disease underwhichLafeu said the king at that time languished; and whenHelenaheard of the king's complaintshewho till now had beenso humbleand so hopelessformed an ambitious project in hermind to goherself to Paris and undertake the cure of the king.But thoughHelena was the possessor of this choice prescriptionit wasunlikelyas the king as well as his physicians was ofopinionthat his disease was incurablethat they would givecredit toa poor unlearned virgin if she should offer to performa cure.The firm hopes that Helena had of succeedingif shemight bepermitted to make the trialseemed more than even herfather'sskill warrantedthough he was the most famous physicianof histime; for she felt a strong faith that this good medicinewassanctified by all the luckiest stars in heaven to be thelegacythat should advance her fortuneeven to the high dignityof beingCount Rousillon's wife.
Bertramhad not been long gone when the countess was informed byhersteward that he had overheard Helena talking to herselfandthat heunderstoodfrom some words she utteredshe was in lovewithBertram and thought of following him to Paris. The countessdismissedthe steward with thanksand desired him to tell Helenashe wishedto speak with her. What she had just heard of Helenabroughtthe remembrance of days long past into the mind of thecountess;those daysprobablywhen her love for Bertram'sfatherfirst began; and she said to herself:
"Evenso it was with me when I was young. Love is a thorn thatbelongs tothe rose of youth; for in the season of youthif everwe areNature's childrenthese faults are oursthough then wethink notthey are faults."
While thecountess was thus meditating on the loving errors ofher ownyouthHelena enteredand she said to her"Helenayouknow I ama mother to you."
Helenareplied"You are my honorable mistress."
"Youare my daughter" said the countess again. "I say I am yourmother.Why do you start and look pale at my words?"
With looksof alarm and confused thoughtsfearing the countesssuspectedher loveHelena still replied"Pardon memadamyouare not mymother; the Count Rousillon cannot be my brothernorI yourdaughter."
"YetHelena" said the countess"you might be mydaughter-in-law;and I am afraid that is what you mean to bethewordsMOTHER and DAUGHTER so disturb you. Helenado you love myson?"
"Goodmadampardon me" said the affrighted Helena.
Again thecountess repeated her question. "Do you love my son?"
"Donot you love himmadam?" said Helena.
Thecountess replied: "Give me not this evasive answerHelena.Comecomedisclose the state of your affectionsfor your lovehas to thefull appeared."
Helenaonher knees nowowned her loveand with shame andterrorimplored the pardon of her noble mistress; and with wordsexpressiveof the sense she had of the inequality between theirfortunesshe protested Bertram did not know she loved himcomparingher humbleunaspiring love to a poor Indian who adoresthe sunthat looks upon his worshiper but knows of him no more.Thecountess asked Helena if she had not lately an intent to goto Paris.Helena owned the design she had formed in her mind whenshe heardLafeu speak of the king's illness.
"Thiswas your motive for wishing to go to Paris" said thecountess"was it? Speak truly."
Helenahonestly answered"My lord your son made me to think ofthis; elseParis. and the medicine and the king had from theconversationof my thoughts been absent then."
Thecountess heard the whole of this confession without saying awordeither of approval or of blamebut she strictly questionedHelena asto the probability of the medicine being useful to theking. Shefound that it was the most prized by Gerard de Narbonof all hepossessedand that he had given it to his daughter onhisdeath-bed; and remembering the solemn promise she had made atthat awfulhour in regard to this young maidwhose destinyandthe lifeof the king himselfseemed to depend on the executionof aproject (whichthough conceived by the fond suggestions ofa lovingmaiden's thoughtsthe countess knew not but it might bethe unseenworkings of Providence to bring to pass the recoveryof theking and to lay the foundation of the future fortunes ofGerard deNarbon's daughter)free leave she gave to Helena topursue herown wayand generously furnished her with ample meansandsuitable attendants; and Helena set out for Paris with theblessingsof the countess and her kindest wishes for her success.
Helenaarrived at Parisand by the assistance of her friendtheold LordLafeushe obtained an audience of the king. She hadstill manydifficulties to encounterfor the king was not easilyprevailedon to try the medicine offered him by this fair youngdoctor.But she told him she was Gerard de Narbon's daughter(withwhose fame the king was well acquainted)and she offeredtheprecious medicine as the darling treasure which contained theessence ofall her father's long experience and skilland sheboldlyengaged to forfeit her life if it failed to restore hisMajesty toperfect health in the space of two days. The king atlengthconsented to try itand in two days' time Helena was tolose herfife if the king did not recover; but if she succeededhepromised to give her the choice of any man throughout allFrance(the princes only excepted) whom she could like for ahusband;the choice of a husband being the fee Helena demanded ifshe curedthe king of his disease.
Helena didnot deceive herself in the hope she conceived of theefficacyof her father's medicine. Before two days were at anend theking was restored to perfect healthand he assembled allthe youngnoblemen of his court togetherin order to confer thepromisedreward of a husband upon his fair physician; and hedesiredHelena to look round on this youthful parcel of noblebachelorsand choose her husband. Helena was not slow to make herchoicefor among these young lords she saw the Count Rousillonandturning to Bertramshe said:
"Thisis the man. I dare not saymy lordI take youbut I giveme and myservice ever whilst I live into your guiding power."
"Whythen" said the king"young Bertramtake her; she is yourwife."
Bertramdid not hesitate to declare his dislike to this presentof theking's of the self-offered Helenawhohe saidwas apoorphysician's daughterbred at his father's chargeand nowliving adependent on his mother's bounty.
Helenaheard him speak these words of rejection and of scornandshe saidto the king: "That you are wellmy lordI am glad. Letthe restgo."
But theking would not suffer his royal command to be soslightedfor the power of bestowing their nobles in marriage wasone of themany privileges of the kings of Franceand that samedayBertram was married to Helenaa forced and uneasy marriagetoBertramand of no promising hope to the poor ladywhothough shegained the noble husband she had hazarded her life toobtainseemed to have won but a splendid blankher husband'slove notbeing a gift in the power of the King of France tobestow.
Helena wasno sooner married than she was desired by Bertram toapply tothe king for him for leave of absence from court; andwhen shebrought him the king's permission for his departureBertramtold her that he was not prepared for this suddenmarriageit had much unsettled himand therefore she must notwonder atthe course he should pursue. If Helena wondered notshegrieved when she found it was his intention to leave her. Heorderedher to go home to his mother. When Helena heard thisunkindcommandshe replied:
"SirI can nothing say to this but that I am your most obedientservantand shall ever with true observance seek to eke out thatdesertwherein my homely stars have failed to equal my greatfortunes."
But thishumble speech of Helena's did not at all move thehaughtyBertram to pity his gentle wifeand he parted from herwithouteven the common civility of a kind farewell.
Back tothe countess then Helena returned. She had accomplishedthepurport of her journeyshe had preserved the life of thekingandshe had wedded her heart's dear lordthe CountRousillon;but she returned back a dejected lady to her noblemother-in-lawand as soon as she entered the house she receiveda letterfrom Bertram which almost broke her heart.
The goodcountess received her with a cordial welcomeas if shehad beenher son's own choice and a lady of a high degreeandshe spokekind words to comfort her for the unkind neglect ofBertram insending his wife home on her bridal day alone. Butthisgracious reception failed to cheer the sad mind of Helenaand shesaid:
"Madammy lord is goneforever gone." She then read these wordsout ofBertram's letter:
"Whenyou can get the ring from my fingerwhich never shall comeoffthencall me husbandbut in such a Then I write a Never."
"Thisis a dreadful sentence!" said Helena.
Thecountess begged her to have patienceand saidnow Bertramwas goneshe should be her child and that she deserved a lordthattwenty such rude boys as Bertram might tend uponand hourlycall hermistress. But in vain by respectful condescension andkindflattery this matchless mother tried to soothe the sorrowsof herdaughter-in-law.
Helenastill kept her eyes fixed upon the letterand cried outin anagony of grief"TILL I HAVE NO WIFEI HAVE NOTHING INFRANCE."The countess asked her if she found those words in theletter.
"Yesmadam" was all poor Helena could answer.
The nextmorning Helena was missing. She left a letter to bedeliveredto the countess after she was goneto acquaint herwith thereason of her sudden absence. In this letter sheinformedher that she was so much grieved at having drivenBertramfrom his native country and his homethat to atone forheroffenseshe had undertaken a pilgrimage to the shrine of St.Jaques leGrandand concluded with requesting the countess toinform herson that the wife he so hated had left his houseforever.
Bertramwhen he left Pariswent to Florenceand there becamean officerin the Duke of Florence's armyand after a successfulwarinwhich he distinguished himself by many brave actionsBertramreceived letters from his mother containing theacceptabletidings that Helena would no more disturb him; and hewaspreparing to return homewhen Helena herselfclad in herpilgrim'sweedsarrived at the city of Florence.
Florencewas a city through which the pilgrims used to pass ontheir wayto St. Jaques le Grand; and when Helena arrived at thiscity sheheard that a hospitable widow dwelt there who used toreceiveinto her house the female pilgrims that were going tovisit theshrine of that saintgiving them lodging and kindentertainment.To this good ladythereforeHelena wentand thewidow gaveher a courteous welcome and invited her to seewhateverwas curious in that famous cityand told her that ifshe wouldlike to see the duke's army she would take her whereshe mighthave a full view of it.
"Andyou will see a countryman of yours" said the widow. "Hisname isCount Rousillonwho has done worthy service in theduke'swars." Helena wanted no second invitationwhen she foundBertramwas to make part of the show. She accompanied herhostess;and a sad and mournful pleasure it was to her to lookonce moreupon her dear husband's face.
"Ishe not a handsome man?" said the widow.
"Ilike him well" replied Helenawith great truth.
All theway they walked the talkative widow's discourse was allofBertram. She told Helena the story of Bertram's marriageandhow he haddeserted the poor lady his wife and entered into theduke'sarmy to avoid living with her. To this account of her ownmisfortunesHelena patiently listenedand when it was ended thehistory ofBertram was not yet donefor then the widow begananothertaleevery word of which sank deep into the mind ofHelena;for the story she now told was of Bertram's love for herdaughter.
ThoughBertram did not like the marriage forced on him by thekingitseems he was not insensible to lovefor since he hadbeenstationed with the army at Florence he had fallen in lovewithDianaa fair young gentlewomanthe daughter of this widowwho wasHelena's hostess; and every nightwith music of allsortsandsongs composed in praise of Diana's beautyhe wouldcome underher window and solicit her love; and all his suit toher wasthat she would permit him to visit her by stealth afterthe familywere retired to rest. But Diana would by no means bepersuadedto grant this improper requestnor give anyencouragementto his suitknowing him to be a married man; forDiana hadbeen brought up under the counsels of a prudent motherwhothough she was now in reduced circumstanceswas well bornanddescended from the noble family of the Capulets.
All thisthe good lady related to Helenahighly praising thevirtuousprinciples of her discreet daughterwhich she said wereentirelyowing to the excellent education and good advice she hadgiven her;and she further said that Bertram had beenparticularlyimportunate with Diana to admit him to the visit heso muchdesired that nightbecause he was going to leaveFlorenceearly the next morning.
Though itgrieved Helena to hear of Bertram's love for thewidow'sdaughteryet from this story the ardent mind of Helenaconceiveda project (nothing discouraged at the ill success ofher formerone) to recover her truant lord. She disclosed to thewidow thatshe was Helenathe deserted wife of Bertramandrequestedthat her kind hostess and her daughter would sufferthis visitfrom Bertram to take placeand allow her to passherselfupon Bertram for Dianatelling them her chief motive fordesiringto have this secret meeting with her husband was to geta ringfrom himwhichhe had saidif ever she was inpossessionof he would acknowledge her as his wife.
The widowand her daughter promised to assist her in this affairpartlymoved by pity for this unhappyforsaken wife and partlywon overto her interest by the promises of reward which Helenamade themgiving them a purse of money in earnest of her futurefavor. Inthe course of that day Helena caused information to besent toBertram that she was deadhoping thatwhen he thoughthimselffree to make a second choice by the news of her deathhewouldoffer marriage to her in her feigned character of Diana.And if shecould obtain the ring and this promisetooshedoubtednot she should make some future good come of it.
In theeveningafter it was darkBertram was admitted intoDiana'schamberand Helena was there ready to receive him. Theflatteringcompliments and love discourse he addressed to Helenawereprecious sounds to her though she knew they were meant forDiana; andBertram was so well pleased with her that he made hera solemnpromise to be her husbandand to love her forever;which shehoped would be prophetic of a real affectionwhen heshouldknow it was his own wifethe despised Helenawhoseconversationhad so delighted him.
Bertramnever knew how sensible a lady Helena waselse perhapshe wouldnot have been so regardless of her; and seeing her everydayhehad entirely over looked her beauty; a face we areaccustomedto see constantly losing the effect which is caused bythe firstsight either of beauty or of plainness; and of herunderstandingit was impossible he should judgebecause she feltsuchreverencemixed with her love for himthat she was alwayssilent inhis presence. But now that her future fateand thehappyending of all her love-projectsseemed to depend on herleaving afavorable impression on the mind of Bertram from thisnight'sinterviewshe exerted all her wit to please him; and thesimplegraces of her lively conversation and the endearingsweetnessof her manners so charmed Bertram that be vowed sheshould behis wife. Helena begged the ring from off his finger asa token ofhis regardand he gave it to her; and in return forthis ringwhich it was of such importance to her to possessshegave himanother ringwhich was one the king had made her apresentof. Before it was light in the morning she sent Bertramaway; andhe immediately set out on his journey toward hismother'shouse.
Helenaprevailed on the widow and Diana to accompany her toParistheir further assistance being necessary to the fullaccomplishmentof the plan she had formed. When they arrivedtherethey found the king was gone upon a visit to the CountessofRousillonand Helena followed the king with all the speed shecouldmake.
The kingwas still in perfect healthand his gratitude to herwho hadbeen the means of his recovery was so lively in his mindthat themoment he saw the Countess of Rousillon he began to talkof Helenacalling her a precious jewel that was lost by thefolly ofher son; but seeing the subject distressed the countesswhosincerely lamented the death of Helenahe said:
"Mygood ladyI have forgiven and forgotten all."
But thegood-natured old Lafeuwho was presentand could notbear thatthe memory of his favorite Helena should be so lightlypassedoversaid"This I must saythe young lord did greatoffense tohis Majestyhis motherand his lady; but to himselfhe did thegreatest wrong of allfor he has lost a wife whosebeautyastonished all eyeswhose words took all ears captivewhose deepperfection made all hearts wish to serve her."
The kingsaid: "Praising what is lost makes the remembrance dear.Well--callhim hither"; meaning Bertramwho now presentedhimselfbefore the kingand on his expressing deep sorrow fortheinjuries he had done to Helena the kingfor his deadfather'sand his admirable mother's sakepardoned him andrestoredhim once more to his favor. But the gracious countenanceof theking was soon changed toward himfor he perceived thatBertramwore the very ring upon his finger which he had given toHelena;and he well remembered that Helena had called all thesaints inheaven to witness she would never part with that ringunless shesent it to the king himself upon some great disasterbefallingher; and Bertramon the king's questioning him how hecame bythe ringtold an improbable story of a lady throwing itto him outof a windowand denied ever having seen Helena sincethe day oftheir marriage. The kingknowing Bertram's dislike tohis wifefeared he had destroyed herand he ordered his guardsto seizeBertramsaying:
"I amwrapt in dismal thinkingfor I fear the life of Helena wasfoullysnatched."
At thismoment Diana and her mother entered and presented apetitionto the kingwherein they begged his Majesty to exerthis royalpower to compel Bertram to marry Dianahe having madeher asolemn promise of marriage. Bertramfearing the king'sangerdenied he had made any such promise; and then Dianaproducedthe ring (which Helena had put into her hands) toconfirmthe truth of her words; and she said that she had givenBertramthe ring he then worein exchange for thatat the timehe vowedto marry her. On hearing this the king ordered theguards toseize her also; andher account of the ring differingfromBertram'sthe king's suspicions were confirmedand he saidif theydid not confess how they came by this ring of Helena'stheyshould be both put to death. Diana requested her mothermight bepermitted to fetch the jeweler of whom she bought theringwhichbeing grantedthe widow went outand presentlyreturnedleading in Helena herself.
The goodcountesswho in silent grief had beheld her son'sdangerand had even dreaded that the suspicion of his havingdestroyedhis wife might possibly be truefinding her dearHelenawhom she loved with even a maternal affectionwas stilllivingfelt a delight she was hardly able to support; and thekingscarce believing for joy that it was Helenasaid:
"Isthis indeed the wife of Bertram that I see?"
Helenafeeling herself yet an unacknowledged wifereplied"Nomy goodlordit is but the shadow of a wife you see; the nameand notthe thing."
Bertramcried out: "Bothboth! Oh pardon!"
"O mylord" said Helena"when I personated this fair maid Ifound youwondrous kind; and lookhere is your letter!" readingto him ina joyful tone those words which she had once repeatedsosorrowfully"WHEN FROM MY FINGER YOU CAN GET THIS RING--Thisis done;it was to me you gave the ring. Will you be minenowyou aredoubly won?"
Bertramreplied"If you can make it plain that you were the ladyI talkedwith that night I will love you dearlyevereverdearly."
This wasno difficult taskfor the widow and Diana came withHelena toprove this fact; and the king was so well pleased withDiana forthe friendly assistance she had rendered the dear ladyhe sotruly valued for the service she had done him that hepromisedher also a noble husbandHelena's history giving him ahint thatit was a suitable reward for kings to bestow upon fairladieswhen they perform notable services.
ThusHelena at last found that her father's legacy was indeedsanctifiedby the luckiest stars in heaven; for she was now thebelovedwife of her dear Bertramthe daughter-in-law of hernoblemistressand herself the Countess of Rousillon.
Katharinethe Shrewwas the eldest daughter of Baptistaa richgentlemanof Padua. She was a lady of such an ungovernable spiritand fierytempersuch a loud-tongued scoldthat she was knownin Paduaby no other name than Katharine the Shrew. It seemedveryunlikelyindeed impossiblethat any gentleman would everbe foundwho would venture to marry this ladyand thereforeBaptistawas much blamed for deferring his consent to manyexcellentoffers that were made to her gentle sister Biancaputtingoff all Bianca's suitors with this excusethat when theeldestsister was fairly off his bands they should have freeleave toaddress young Bianca.
Ithappenedhoweverthat a gentlemannamed Petruchiocame toPaduapurposely to look out for a wifewhonothing discouragedby thesereports of Katharine's temperand hearing she was richandhandsomeresolved upon marrying this famous termagantandtaming herinto a meek and manageable wife. And truly none was sofit to setabout this herculean labor as Petruchiowhose spiritwas ashigh as Katharine'sand he was a witty and mosthappy-temperedhumoristand withal so wiseand of such a truejudgmentthat he well knew how to feign a passionate and furiousdeportmentwhen his spirits were so calm that himself could havelaughedmerrily at his own angry feigningfor his natural temperwascareless and easy; the boisterous airs he assumed when hebecame thehusband of Katharine being but in sportormoreproperlyspeakingaffected by his excellent discernmentas theonly meansto overcomein her own waythe passionate ways ofthefurious Katharine.
A-courtingthenPetruchio went to Katharine the Shrew; andfirst ofall he applied to Baptistaher fatherfor leave to woohis GENTLEDAUGHTER Katharineas Petruchio called hersayingarchlythathaving heard of her bashful modesty and mildbehaviorhe had come from Verona to solicit her love. Herfatherthough he wished her marriedwas forced to confessKatharinewould ill answer this characterit being soon apparentof whatmanner of gentleness she was composedfor hermusic-masterrushed into the room to complain that the gentleKatharinehis pupilhad broken his head with her lute forpresumingto find fault with her performance; whichwhenPetruchioheardhe said:
"Itis a brave wench. I love her more than everand long to havesome chatwith her." And hurrying the old gentleman for apositiveanswerhe said: "My business is in hasteSignorBaptista.I cannot come every day to woo. You knew my father. Heis deadand has left me heir to all his lands and goods. Thentell meif I get your daughter's lovewhat dowry you will givewith her."
Baptistathought his manner was somewhat blunt for a lover; butbeing gladto get Katharine marriedhe answered that he wouldgive hertwenty thousand crowns for her dowryand half hisestate athis death. So this odd match was quickly agreed on andBaptistawent to apprise his shrewish daughter of her lover'saddressesand sent her in to Petruchio to listen to his suit.
In themean time Petruchio was settling with himself the mode ofcourtshipbe should pursue; and he said: "I will woo her withsomespirit when she comes. If she rails at mewhythen I willtell hershe sings as sweetly as a nightingale; and if shefrownsIwill say she looks as clear as roses newly washed withdew. Ifshe will not speak a wordI will praise the eloquence ofherlanguage; and if she bids me leave herI will give herthanks asif she bid me stay with her a week."
Now thestately Katharine enteredand Petruchio first addressedher with:
"GoodmorrowKatefor that is your nameI hear."
Katharinenot liking this plain salutationsaiddisdainfully"Theycall me Katharine who do speak to me."
"Youlie" replied the lover; "for you are called plain KateandbonnyKateand sometimes Kate the Shrew; butKateyou are theprettiestKate in Christendomand thereforeKatehearing yourmildnesspraised in every townI am come to woo you for mywife."
A strangecourtship they made of it. She in loud and angry termsshowinghim how justly she had gained the name of Shrewwhile hestillpraised her sweet and courteous wordstill at lengthhearingher father cominghe said (intending to make as quick awooing aspossible):
"SweetKatharinelet us set this idle chat asidefor yourfather hasconsented that you shall be my wifeyour dowry isagreed onand whether you will or no I will marry you."
And nowBaptista enteringPetruchio told him his daughter hadreceivedhim kindly and that she had promised to be married thenextSunday. This Katharine deniedsaying she would rather seehim hangedon Sundayand reproached her father for wishing towed her tosuch a madcap ruffian as Petruchio. Petruchio desiredher fathernot to regard her angry wordsfor they had agreed sheshouldseem reluctant before himbut that when they were alonehe hadfound her very fond and loving; and he said to her:
"Giveme your handKate. I will go to Venice to buy you apparelagainstour wedding-day. Provide the feastfatherbid theweddingguests. I will be sure to bring ringsfine arrayandrichclothesthat my Katharine may be fine. And kiss meKatefor wewill be married on Sunday."
On theSunday all the wedding guests were assembledbut theywaitedlong before Petruchio cameand Katharine wept forvexationto think that Petruchio had only been making a jest ofher. Atlasthoweverhe appeared; but he brought none of thebridalfinery be had promised Katharinenor was he dressedhimselflike a bridegroombut in strangedisordered attireasif hemeant to make a sport of the serious business he cameabout; andhis servant and the very horses on which they rodewere inlike manner in mean and fantastic fashion habited.
Petruchiocould not be persuaded to change his dress. He saidKatharinewas to be married to himand not to his clothes. Andfinding itwas in vain to argue with himto the church theywenthestill behaving in the same mad wayfor when the priestaskedPetruchio if Katharine should be his wifehe swore so loudthat sheshouldthatall amazedthe priest let fall his bookand as hestooped to take it up this mad-brained bridegroom gavehim such acuff that down fell the priest and his book again. Andall thewhile they were being married he stamped and swore sothat thehigh-spirited Katharine trembled and shook with fear.After theceremony was overwhile they were yet in the churchhe calledfor wineand drank a loud health to the companyandthrew asop which was at the bottom of the glass full in thesexton'sfacegiving no other reason for this strange act thanthat thesexton's beard grew thin and hungerlyand seemed to askthe sop ashe was drinking. Never sure was there such a madmarriage;but Petruchio did but put this wildness on the betterto succeedin the plot he had formed to tame his shrewish wife.
Baptistahad provided a sumptuous marriage feastbut when theyreturnedfrom churchPetruchiotaking hold of Katharinedeclaredhis intention of carrying his wife home instantlyandnoremonstrance of his father-in-lawor angry words of theenragedKatharinecould make him change his purpose. He claimedahusband's right to dispose of his wife as he pleasedand awayhe hurriedKatharine off; he seeming so daring and resolute thatno onedared attempt to stop him.
Petruchiomounted his wife upon a miserable horselean and lankwhich hehad picked out for the purposeandhimself and hisservant nobetter mountedthey journeyed on through rough andmiry waysand ever when this horse of Katharine's stumbled hewouldstorm and swear at the poor jaded beastwho could scarcecrawlunder his burthenas if he had been the most passionateman alive.
At lengthafter a weary journeyduring which Katharine hadheardnothing but the wild ravings of Petruchio at the servantand thehorsesthey arrived at his house. Petruchio welcomed herkindly toher homebut he resolved she should have neither restnor foodthat night. The tables were spreadand supper soonserved;but Petruchiopretending to find fault with every dishthrew themeat about the floorand ordered the servants toremove itaway; and all this he didas he saidin love for hisKatharinethat she might not eat meat that was not well dressed.And whenKatharineweary and supperlessretired to resthefound thesame fault with the bedthrowing the pillows andbedclothesabout the roomso that she was forced to sit down ina chairwhereifshe chanced to drop asleepshe was presentlyawakenedby the loud voice of her husband storming at theservantsfor the ill-making of his wife's bridal-bed.
The nextday Petruchio pursued the same coursestill speakingkind wordsto Katharinebutwhen she attempted to eatfindingfault witheverything that was set before herthrowing thebreakfaston the floor as he had done the supper; and Katharinethehaughty Katharinewas fain to beg the servants would bringhersecretly a morsel of food; but theybeing instructed byPetruchioreplied they dared not give her anything unknown totheirmaster.
"Ah"said she"did he marry me to famish me? Beggars that cometo myfather's door have food given them. But Iwho never knewwhat itwas to entreat for anythingam starved for want of foodgiddy forwant of sleepwith oaths kept wakingand withbrawlingfed; and that which vexes me more than allhe does itunder thename of perfect lovepretending that if I sleep oreatitwere present death to me."
Here thesoliloquy was interrupted by the entrance of Petruchio.Henotmeaning she should be quite starvedhad brought her asmallportion of meatand he said to her:
"Howfares my sweet Kate? Hereloveyou see how diligent I am.I havedressed your meat myself. I am sure this kindness meritsthanks.Whatnot a word? Naythen you love not the meatandall thepains I have taken is to no purpose." He then ordered theservant totake the dish away.
Extremehungerwhich had abated the pride of Katharinemade hersaythough angered to the heart"I pray you let it stand."
But thiswas not all Petruchio intended to bring her toand hereplied"The poorest service is repaid with thanksand so shallminebefore you touch the meat."
On thisKatharine brought out a reluctant "I thank yousir."
And now hesuffered her to make a slender mealsaying: "Muchgood mayit do your gentle heartKate. Eat apace! And nowmyhoneylovewe will return to your father's house and revel it asbravely asthe bestwith silken coats and caps and golden ringswith ruffsand scarfs and fans and double change of finery." Andto makeher believe be really intended to give her these gaythingshecalled in a tailor and a haberdasherwho brought somenewclothes he had ordered for herand thengiving her plate totheservant to take awaybefore she had half satisfied herhungerhesaid:
"Whathave you dined?"
Thehaberdasher presented a capsaying"Here is the cap yourworshipbespoke." On which Petruchio began to storm afreshsaying thecap was molded in a porringer and that it was nobiggerthan a cockle or walnut shelldesiring the haberdasher totake itaway and make it bigger.
Katharinesaid"I will have this; all gentlewomen wear such capsas these."
"Whenyou are gentle" replied Petruchio"you shall have onetooandnot till then."
The meatKatharine had eaten had a little revived her fallenspiritsand she said: "WhysirI trust I may have leave tospeakandspeak I will. I am no childno babe. Your bettershaveendured to hear me say my mind; and if you cannotyou hadbetterstop your ears."
Petruchiowould not hear these angry wordsfor he had happilydiscovereda better way of managing his wife than keeping up ajanglingargument with her; therefore his answer was:
"Whyyou say true; it is a paltry capand I love you for notlikingit."
"Lovemeor love me not" said Katharine"I like the capand Iwill havethis cap or none."
"Yousay you wish to see the gown" said Petruchiostillaffectingto misunderstand her.
The tailorthen came forward and showed her a fine gown he hadmade forher. Petruchiowhose intent was that she should haveneithercap nor gownfound as much fault with that.
"OhmercyHeaven!" said he"what stuff is here! Whatdo youcall thisa sleeve? it is like a demi-cannoncarved up and downlike anapple tart."
The tailorsaid"You bid me make it according to the fashion ofthetimes"; and Katharine said she never saw a better-fashionedgown. Thiswas enough for Petruchioand privately desiring thesepeoplemight be paid for their goodsand excuses made to themfor theseemingly strange treatment he bestowed upon themhewithfierce words and furious gestures drove the tailor and thehaberdasherout of the room; and thenturning to Katharinehesaid:
"Wellcomemy Katewe will go to your father's even in thesemeangarments we now wear."
And thenhe ordered his horsesaffirming they should reachBaptista'shouse by dinner-timefor that it was but seveno'clock.Now it was not early morningbut the very middle of thedaywhenhe spoke this; therefore Katharine ventured to saythoughmodestlybeing almost overcome by the vehemence of hismanner:
"Idare assure yousirit is two o'clockand will besuppertimebefore we get there."
ButPetruchio meant that she should be so completely subdued thatshe shouldassent to everything he said before he carried her toherfather; and thereforeas if he were lord even of the sun andcouldcommand the hourshe said it. should be what time hepleased tohave itbefore beset forward. "For" he said"whateverI say or doyou still are crossing it. I will not goto-dayand when I goit shall be what o'clock I say it is."
Anotherday Katharine was forced to practise her newly foundobedienceand not till he had brought her proud spirit to such aperfectsubjection that she dared not remember there was such aword ascontradiction would Petruchio allow her to go to herfather'shouse; and even while they were upon their journeythithershe was in danger of being turned back againonlybecauseshe happened to hint it was the sun when he affirmed themoon shonebrightly at noonday.
"Nowby my mother's son" said be"and that is myselfit shallbe themoonor starsor what I listbefore I journey to yourfather'shouse." He then made as if he were going back again. ButKatharineno longer Katharine the Shrewbut the obedient wifesaid"Letus go forwardI praynow we have come so farand itshall bethe sunor moonor what you please; and if you pleaseto call ita rush candle henceforthI vow it shall be so forme."
This hewas resolved to provetherefore he said again"I say itis themoon."
"Iknow it is the moon" replied Katharine.
"Youlie. It is the blessed sun" said Petruchio.
"Thenit is the blessed sun" replied Katharine; "but sun it isnot whenyou say it is not. What you will have it namedeven soit isandso it ever shall be for Katharine."
Now thenhe suffered her to proceed on her journey; but furtherto try ifthis yielding humor would lasthe addressed an oldgentlemanthey met on the road as if he had been a young womansaying tohim"Good morrowgentle mistress"; and askedKatharineif she had ever beheld a fairer gentlewomanpraisingthe redand white of the old man's cheeksand comparing his eyesto twobright stars; and again he addressed himsaying"Fairlovelymaidonce more good day to you!" and said to his wife"SweetKateembrace her for her beauty's sake."
The nowcompletely vanquished Katharine quickly adopted herhusband'sopinionand made her speech in like sort to the oldgentlemansaying to him: "Young budding virginyou are fair andfresh andsweet. Whither are you goingand where is yourdwelling?Happy are the parents of so fair a child."
"Whyhow nowKate" said Petruchio. "I hope you are not mad.This is amanold and wrinkledfaded and witheredand not amaidenasyou say he is."
On thisKatharine said"Pardon meold gentleman; the sun has sodazzled myeyes that everything I look on seemeth green. Now Iperceiveyou are a reverend father. I hope you will pardon me formy sadmistake."
"Dogood old grandsire" said Petruchio"and tell us which wayyou aretraveling. We shall be glad of your good companyif youare goingour way."
The oldgentleman replied: "Fair sirand youmy merry mistressyourstrange encounter has much amazed me. My name is Vincentioand I amgoing to visit a son of mine who lives at Padua."
ThenPetruchio knew the old gentleman to be the father ofLucentioa young gentleman who was to be married to Baptista'syoungerdaughterBiancaand he made Vincentio very happy bytellinghim the rich marriage his son was about to make; and theyalljourneyed on pleasantly together till they came to Baptista'shousewhere there was a large company assembled to celebrate thewedding ofBianca and LucentioBaptista having willinglyconsentedto the marriage of Bianca when he had got Katharine offhis hands.
When theyenteredBaptista welcomed them to the wedding feastand therewas present also another newly married pair.
LucentioBianca's husbandand Hortensiothe other new-marriedmancouldnot forbear sly jestswhich seemed to hint at theshrewishdisposition of Petruchio's wifeand these fondbridegroomsseemed highly pleased with the mild tempers of theladiesthey had chosenlaughing at Petruchio for his lessfortunatechoice. Petruchio took little notice of their jokestill theladies were retired after dinnerand then he perceivedBaptistahimself joined in the laugh against himfor whenPetruchioaffirmed that his wife would prove more obedient thantheirsthe father of Katharine said"Nowin good sadnesssonPetruchioI fear you have got the veriest shrew of all."
"Well"said Petruchio"I say noand thereforefor assurancethat Ispeak the truthlet us each one send for his wifeand hewhose wifeis most obedient to come at first when she is sent forshall wina wager which we will propose."
To thisthe other two husbands willingly consentedfor they wereconfidentthat their gentle wives would prove more obedient thantheheadstrong Katharineand they proposed a wager of twentycrowns.But Petruchio merrily said he would lay as much as thatupon hishawk or houndbut twenty times as much upon his wife.Lucentioand Hortensio raised the wager to a hundred crownsandLucentiofirst sent his servant to desire Bianca would come tohim. Butthe servant returnedand said:
"Sirmy mistress sends you word she is busy and cannot come."
"How"said Petruchio"does she say she is busy and cannot come?Is that ananswer for a wife?"
Then theylaughed at himand said it would be well if Katharinedid notsend him a worse answer. And now it was Hortensio's turnto sendfor his wife; and be said to his servant"Goandentreat mywife to come to me."
"Ohho! entreat her!" said Petruchio.
"Naythenshe needs must come."
"I amafraidsir" said Hortensio"your wife will not beentreated."But presently this civil husband looked a littleblank whenthe servant returned without his mistress; and he saidto him:
"Hownow? Where is my wife?"
"Sir"said the servant"my mistress says you have some goodlyjest inhandand therefore she will not come. She bids you cometo her."
"Worseand worse!" said Petruchio. And then he sent his servantsaying"Sirrahgo to your mistress and tell her I command herto come tome."
Thecompany had scarcely time to think she would not obey thissummonswhen Baptistaall in amazeexclaimed:
"Nowby my holidamehere comes Katharine!"
And sheenteredsaying meekly to Petruchio"What is your willsirthatyou send for me?"
"Whereis your sister and Hortensio's wife?" said he.
Katharinereplied"They sit conferring by the parlor fire."
"Gofetch them hither!" said Petruchio.
Away wentKatharine without reply to perform her husband'scommand.
"Hereis a wonder" said Lucentio"if you talk of a wonder."
"Andso it is" said Hortensio. "I marvel what it bodes."
"Marrypeace it bodes" said Petruchio"and loveand quietlifeandright supremacy; andto be shorteverything that issweet andhappy."
Katharine'sfatheroverjoyed to see this reformation in hisdaughtersaid: "Nowfair befall theeson Petruchio! You havewon thewagerand I will add another twenty thousand crowns toher dowryas if she were another daughterfor she is changed asif she hadnever been."
"Nay"said Petruchio"I will win the wager better yetand showmore signsof her new-built virtue and obedience." Katharine nowenteringwith the two ladieshe continued: "See where she comesand bringsyour froward wives as prisoners to her womanlypersuasion.Katharinethat cap of yours does not become you; offwith thatbaubleand throw it underfoot."
Katharineinstantly took off her cap and threw it down.
"Lord!"said Hortensio's wife"may I never have a cause to sightill I ambrought to such a silly pass!"
AndBiancashetoosaid"Fie! What foolish duty call youthis?"
On thisBianca's husband said to her"I wish your duty were asfoolishtoo! The wisdom of your dutyfair Biancahas cost me ahundredcrowns since dinner-time."
"Themore fool you" said Bianca"for laying on my duty."
"Katharine"said Petruchio"I charge you tell these headstrongwomen whatduty they owe their lords and husbands."
And to thewonder of all presentthe reformed shrewish ladyspoke aseloquently in praise of the wifelike duty of obedienceas she hadpractised it implicitly in a ready submission toPetruchio'swill. And Katharine once more became famous in Paduanot asheretofore as Katharine the Shrewbut as Katharine themostobedient and duteous wife in Padua.
The statesof Syracuse and Ephesus being at variancethere was acruel lawmade at Ephesusordaining that if any merchant ofSyracusewas seen in the city of Ephesus he was to be put todeathunless he could pay a thousand marks for the ransom of hislife.
Aegeonanold merchant of Syracusewas discovered in thestreets ofEphesusand brought before the dukeeither to paythis heavyfine or receive sentence of death.
Aegeon hadno money to pay the fineand the dukebefore hepronouncedthe sentence of death upon himdesired him to relatethehistory of his lifeand to tell for what cause he hadventuredto come to the city of Ephesuswhich it was death foranySyracusan merchant to enter.
Aegeonsaid that he did not fear to diefor sorrow had made himweary ofhis lifebut that a heavier task could not have beenimposedupon him than to relate the events of his unfortunatelife. Hethen began his own historyin the following words:
"Iwas born at Syracuseand brought up to the profession of amerchant.I married a ladywith whom I lived very happilybutbeingobliged to go to EpidamnumI was detained there by mybusinesssix monthsand thenfinding I should be obliged tostay sometime longerI sent for my wifewhoas soon as shearrivedwas brought to bed of two sonsand what was verystrangethey were both so exactly alike that it was impossibletodistinguish the one from the other. At the same time that mywife wasbrought to bed of these twin boys a poor woman in theinn wheremy wife lodged was brought to bed of two sonsandthesetwins were as much like each other as my two sons were. Theparents ofthese children being exceeding poorI bought the twoboys andbrought them up to attend upon my sons.
"Mysons were very fine childrenand my wife was not a littleproud oftwo such boys; and she daily wishing to return homeIunwillinglyagreedand in an evil hour we got on shipboardforwe had notsailed above a league from Epidamnum before a dreadfulstormarosewhich continued with such violence that the sailorsseeing nochance of saving the shipcrowded into the boat tosave theirown livesleaving us alone in the shipwhich weeverymoment expected would be destroyed by the fury of thestorm.
"Theincessant weeping of my wife and the piteous complaints ofthe prettybabeswhonot knowing what to fearwept forfashionbecause they saw their mother weepfilled me withterror forthemthough I did not for myself fear death; and allmythoughts were bent to contrive means for their safety. I tiedmyyoungest son to the end of a small spire mastsuch asseafaringmen provide against storms; at the other end I boundtheyoungest of the twin slavesand at the same time I directedmy wifehow to fasten the other children in like manner toanothermast. She thus having the care of the eldest twochildrenand I of the younger twowe bound ourselves separatelyto thesemasts with the children; and but for this contrivance wehad allbeen lostfor the ship split on a mighty rock and wasdashed inpieces; and weclinging to these slender mastsweresupportedabove the waterwhere Ihaving the care of twochildrenwas unable to assist my wifewhowith the otherchildrenwas soon separated from me; but while they were yet inmy sightthey were taken up by a boat of fishermenfrom Corinth(as Isupposed)andseeing them in safetyI had no care but tostrugglewith the wild sea-wavesto preserve my dear son and theyoungestslave. At length wein our turnwere taken up by ashipandthe sailorsknowing megave us kind welcome andassistanceand landed us in safety at Syracuse; but from that sadhour Ihave never known what became of my wife and eldest child.
"Myyoungest sonand now my only carewhen he was eighteenyears ofagebegan to be inquisitive after his mother and hisbrotherand often importuned me that he might take hisattendantthe young slavewho had also lost his brotherandgo insearch of them. At length I unwillingly gave consentforthough Ianxiously desired to hear tidings of my wife and eldestsonyetin sending my younger one to find them I hazarded theloss ofhim also. It is now seven years since my son left me;five yearshave I passed in traveling through the world in searchof him. Ihave been in farthest Greeceand through the bounds ofAsiaandcoasting homewardI landed here in Ephesusbeingunwillingto leave any place unsought that harbors men; but thisday mustend the story of my lifeand happy should I thinkmyself inmy death if I were assured my wife and sons wereliving."
Here thehapless Aegeon ended the account of his misfortunes; andthe dukepitying this unfortunate father who had brought uponhimselfthis great peril by his love for his lost sonsaid if itwere notagainst the lawswhich his oath and dignity did notpermit himto alterhe would freely pardon him; yetinstead ofdoominghim to instant deathas the strict letter of the lawrequiredhe would give him that day to try if he could beg orborrow themoney to pay the fine.
This dayof grace did seem no great favor to Aegeonfornotknowingany man in Ephesusthere seemed to him but little chancethat anystranger would lend or give him a thousand marks to paythe fine;andhelpless and hopeless of any reliefhe retiredfrom thepresence of the duke in the custody of a jailer.
Aegeonsupposed he knew no person in Ephesus; but at the time hewas indanger of losing his life through the careful search hewas makingafter his youngest son that sonand his eldest sonalsowerein the city of Ephesus.
Aegeon'ssonsbesides being exactly alike in face and personwere bothnamed alikebeing both called Antipholusand the twotwinslaves were also both named Dromio. Aegeon's youngest sonAntipholusof Syracusehe whom the old man had come to Ephesusto seekhappened to arrive at Ephesus with his slave Dromio thatvery sameday that Aegeon did; and he being also a merchant ofSyracusehe would have been in the same danger that his fatherwasbutby good fortune he met a friend who told him the perilan oldmerchant of Syracuse was inand advised him to pass for amerchantof Epidamnum. This Antipholus agreed to doand he wassorry tohear one of his own countrymen was in this dangerbuthe littlethought this old merchant was his own father.
The eldestson of Aegeon (who must be called Antipholus ofEphesusto distinguish him from his brother Antipholus ofSyracuse)had lived at Ephesus twenty yearsandbeing a richmanwaswell able to have paid the money for the ransom of hisfather'slife; but Antipholus knew nothing of his fatherbeingso youngwhen he was taken out of the sea with his mother by thefishermenthat he only remembered he had been so preserved; buthe had norecollection of either his father or his motherthefishermenwho took up this Antipholus and his mother and theyoungslave Dromio having carried the two children away from her(to thegreat grief of that unhappy lady)intending to sellthem.
Antipholusand Dromio were sold by them to Duke Menaphonafamouswarriorwho was uncle to the Duke of Ephesusand hecarriedthe boys to Ephesus when he went to visit the dukehisnephew.
The Dukeof Ephesustaking a liking to young Antipholuswhen hegrew upmade him an officer in his armyin which hedistinguishedhimself by his great bravery in the warswhere hesaved thelife of his patronthe dukewho rewarded his merit bymarryinghim to Adrianaa rich lady of Ephesuswith whom he wasliving(his slave Dromio still attending him) at the time hisfathercame there.
Antipholusof Syracusewhen he parted with his friendwhoadvisedhim to say he came from Epidamnumgave his slave Dromiosome moneyto carry to the inn where he intended to dineand inthe meantime he said he would walk about and view the city andobservethe manners of the people.
Dromio wasa pleasant fellowand when Antipholus was dull andmelancholyhe used to divert himself with the odd humors andmerryjests of his slaveso that the freedoms of speech heallowed inDromio were greater than is usual between masters andtheirservants.
WhenAntipholus of Syracuse had sent Dromio awayhe stood awhilethinkingover his solitary wanderings in search of his mother andhisbrotherof whom in no place where he landed could he hearthe leasttidings; and he said sorrowfully to himself"I am likea drop ofwater in the ocean. whichseeking to find its fellowdroploses itself in the wide seaSo Iunhappilyto find amother anda brotherdo lose myself."
While hewas thus meditating on his weary travelswhich hadhithertobeen so uselessDromio (as he thought) returned.Antipholuswondering that he came back so soonasked him wherehe hadleft the money. Now it was not his own Dromiobut thetwin-brotherthat lived with Antipholus of Ephesusthat he spoketo. Thetwo Dromios and the two Antipholuses were still as muchalike asAegeon had said they were in their infancy; therefore nowonderAntipholus thought it was his own slave returnedandasked himwhy he came back so soon.
Dromioreplied: "My mistress sent me to bid you come to dinner.The caponburnsand the pig falls from the spitand the meatwill beall cold if you do not come home."
"Thesejests are out of season" said Antipholus. "Where did youleave themoney?"
Dromiostill answering that his mistress had sent him to fetchAntipholusto dinner"What mistress?" said Antipholus.
"Whyyour worship's wifesir!" replied Dromio.
Antipholushaving no wifehe was very angry with Dromioandsaid:"Because I familiarly sometimes chat with youyou presumeto jestwith me in this free manner. I am not in a sportive humornow. Whereis the money? We being strangers herehow dare youtrust sogreat a charge from your own custody?"
Dromiohearing his masteras he thought himtalk of theirbeingstrangerssupposing Antipholus was jestingrepliedmerrily:"I pray yousirjest as you sit at dinner. I had nocharge butto fetch you home to dine with my mistress and hersister."
NowAntipholus lost all patienceand beat Dromiowho ran homeand toldhis mistress that his master had refused to come todinner andsaid that he had no wife.
Adrianathe wife of Antipholus of Ephesuswas very angry whenshe heardthat her husband said he had no wife; for she was of ajealoustemperand she said her husband meant that he lovedanotherlady better than herself; and she began to fretand sayunkindwords of jealousy and reproach of her husband; and hersisterLucianawho lived with hertried in vain to persuade herout of hergroundless suspicions.
Antipholusof Syracuse went to the innand found Dromio with themoney insafety thereandseeing his own Dromiohe was goingagain tochide him for his free jestswhen Adriana came up tohimandnot doubting but it was her husband she sawshe begantoreproach him for looking strange upon her (as well he mightneverhaving seen this angry lady before); and then she told himhow wellhe loved her before they were marriedand that now heloved someother lady instead of her.
"Howcomes it nowmy husband" said she"ohhow comes it thatI havelost your love?"
"Pleadyou to mefair dame?" said the astonished Antipholus.
It was invain he told her he was not her husband and that he hadbeen inEphesus but two hours. She insisted on his going homewith herand Antipholus at lastbeing unable to get awaywentwith herto his brother's houseand dined with Adriana and hersisterthe one calling him husband and the other brotherheallamazedthinking he must have been married to her in hissleeporthat he was sleeping now. And Dromiowho followedthemwasno less surprisedfor the cook-maidwho was hisbrother'swifealso claimed him for her husband.
WhileAntipholus of Syracuse was dining with his brother's wifehisbrotherthe real husbandreturned home to dinner with hisslaveDromio; but the servants would not open the doorbecausetheirmistress had ordered them not to admit any company; andwhen theyrepeatedly knockedand said they were Antipholus andDromiothe maids laughed at themand said that Antipholus wasat dinnerwith their mistressand Dromio was in the kitchenandthoughthey almost knocked the door downthey could not gainadmittanceand at last Antipholus went away very angryandstrangelysurprised athearing a gentleman was dining with hiswife.
WhenAntipholus of Syracuse had finished his dinnerhe was soperplexedat the lady's still persisting in calling him husbandand athearing that Dromio had also been claimed by the cookmaidthat heleft the house as soon as he could find any pretense toget away;for though he was very much pleased with Lucianathesisteryet the jealous-tempered Adriana he disliked very muchnor wasDromio at all better satisfied with his fair wife in thekitchen;therefore both master and man were glad to get away fromtheir newwives as fast as they could.
The momentAntipholus of Syracuse had left the house he was metby agoldsmithwhomistaking himas Adriana had doneforAntipholusof Ephesusgave him a gold chaincalling him by hisname; andwhen Antipholus would have refused the chainsaying itdid notbelong to himthe goldsmith replied he made it by hisownordersand went awayleaving the chain in the hands ofAntipholuswho ordered his man Dromio to get his things on boarda shipnot choosing to stay in a place any longer where he metwith suchstrange adventures that he surely thought himselfbewitched.
Thegoldsmith who had given the chain to the wrong Antipholus wasarrestedimmediately after for a sum of money he owed; andAntipholusthe married brotherto whom the goldsmith thought hehad giventhe chainhappened to come to the place where theofficerwas arresting the goldsmithwhowhen he saw Antipholusasked himto pay for the gold chain he had just delivered to himthe priceamounting to nearly the same sum as that for which hehad beenarrested. Antipholus denying the having received thechainandthe goldsmith persisting to declare that he had but afewminutes before given it to himthey disputed this matter along timeboth thinking they were right; for Antipholus knew thegoldsmithnever gave him the chainand so like were the twobrothersthe goldsmith was as certain he had delivered the chaininto hishandstill at last the officer took the goldsmith awayto prisonfor the debt he owedand at the same time thegoldsmithmade the officer arrest Antipholus for the price of thechain; sothat at the conclusion of their dispute Antipholus andthemerchant were both taken away to prison together.
AsAntipholus was going to prisonhe met Dromio of Syracusehisbrother'sslaveandmistaking him for his ownhe ordered himto go toAdriana his wifeand tell her to send the money forwhich hewas arrested. Dromiowondering that his master shouldsend himback to the strange house where he dinedand from whichhe hadjust before been in such haste to departdid not dare toreplythough he came to tell his master the ship was ready tosailforhe saw Antipholus was in no humor to be jested with.Thereforehe went awaygrumbling within himself that he mustreturn toAdriana's house"Where" said he"Dowsabel claims mefor ahusband. But I must gofor servants must obey theirmasters'commands."
Adrianagave him the moneyand as Dromio was returning he metAntipholusof Syracusewho was still in amaze at the surprisingadventureshe met withforhis brother being well known inEphesusthere was hardly a man he met in the streets but salutedhim as anold acquaintance. Some offered him money which theysaid wasowing to himsome invited him to come and see themandsome gavehim thanks for kindnesses they said he had done themallmistaking him for his brother. A tailor showed him some silkshe hadbought for himand insisted upon taking measure of himfor someclothes.
Antipholusbegan to think he was among a nation of sorcerers andwitchesand Dromio did not at all relieve his master from hisbewilderedthoughts by asking him how he got free from theofficerwho was carrying him to prisonand giving him the purseof goldwhich Adriana had sent to pay the debt with. This talk ofDromio'sof the arrest and of a prisonand of the money he hadbroughtfrom Adrianaperfectly confounded Antipholusand hesaid"This fellow Dromio is certainly distractedand we wanderhere inillusions" andquite terrified at his own confusedthoughtshe cried out"Some blessed power deliver us from thisstrangeplace!"
And nowanother stranger came up to himand she was a ladyandshetoocalled him Antipholusand told him he had dined withher thatdayand asked him for a gold chain which she said hehadpromised to give her. Antipholus now lost all patienceandcallingher a sorceresshe denied that he had ever promised hera chainor dined with heror had even seen her face before thatmoment.The lady persisted in affirming he had dined with her andhadpromised her a chainwhich Antipholus still denyingshefurthersaid that she had given him a valuable ringand if hewould notgive her the gold chainshe insisted upon having herown ringagain. On this Antipholus became quite franticandagaincalling her sorceress and witchand denying all knowledgeof her orher ringran away from herleaving her astonished athis wordsand his wild looksfor nothing to her appeared morecertainthan that he had dined with herand that she had givenhim a ringin consequence of his promising to make her a presentof a goldchain. But this lady had fallen into the same mistakethe othershad donefor she had taken him for his brother; themarriedAntipholus had done all the things she taxed thisAntipholuswith.
When themarried Antipholus was denied entrance into his house(thosewithin supposing him to be already there) be had gone awayveryangrybelieving it to be one of his wife's jealous freaksto whichshe was very subjectandremembering that she hadoftenfalsely accused him of visiting other ladiesheto berevengedon her for shutting him out of his own housedeterminedto go anddine with this ladyand she receiving him with greatcivilityand his wife having so highly offended himAntipholuspromisedto give her a gold chain which he had intended as apresentfor his wife; it was the same chain which the goldsmithby mistakehad given to his brother. The lady liked so well thethoughtsof having a fine gold chain that she gave the marriedAntipholusa ring; which whenas she supposed (taking hisbrotherfor him)he deniedand said he did not know herandleft herin such a wild passionshe began to think he wascertainlyout of his senses; and presently she resolved to go andtellAdriana that her husband was mad. And while she was tellingit toAdriana he cameattended by the jailer (who allowed him tocome hometo get the money to pay the debt)for the purse ofmoneywhich Adriana had sent by Dromio and he had delivered tothe otherAntipholus.
Adrianabelieved the story the lady told her of her husband'smadnessmust be true when he reproached her for shutting him outof his ownhouse; and remembering how he had protested alldinner-timethat he was not her husband and had never been inEphesustill that dayshe had no doubt that he was mad; shethereforepaid the jailer the moneyandhaving discharged himsheordered her servants to bind her husband with ropesand hadhimconveyed into a dark roomand sent for a doctor to come andcure himof his madnessAntipholus all the while hotlyexclaimingagainst this false accusationwhich the exactlikenesshe bore to his brother had brought upon him. But hisrage onlythe more confirmed them in the belief that he was mad;and Dromiopersisting in the same storythey bound him also andtook himaway along with his master.
Soon afterAdriana had put her husband into confinement a servantcame totell her that Antipholus and Dromio must have brokenloose fromtheir keepersfor that they were both walking atliberty inthe next street. On hearing this Adriana ran out tofetch himhometaking some people with her to secure her husbandagain; andher sister went along with her. When they came to thegates of aconvent in their neighborhoodthere they sawAntipholusand Dromioas they thoughtbeing again deceived bythelikeness of the twin brothers.
Antipholusof Syracuse was still beset with the perplexities thislikenesshad brought upon him. The chain which the goldsmith hadgiven himwas about his neckand the goldsmith was reproachinghim fordenying that he had it and refusing to pay for itandAntipholuswas protesting that the goldsmith freely gave him thechain inthe morningand that from that hour he had never seenthegoldsmith again.
And nowAdriana came up to him and claimed him as her lunatichusbandwho had escaped from his keepersand the men she broughtwith herwere going to lay violent hands on Antipholus andDromio;but they ran into the conventand Antipholus begged theabbess togive him shelter in her house.
And nowcame out the lady abbess herself to inquire into thecause ofthis disturbance. She was a grave and venerable ladyand wiseto judge of what she sawand she would not too hastilygive upthe man who had sought protection in her house; so shestrictlyquestioned the wife about the story she told of herhusband'smadnessand she said:
"Whatis the cause of this sudden distemper of your husband's?Has helost his wealth at sea? Or is it the death of some dearfriendthat has disturbed his mind?"
Adrianareplied that no such things as these had been the cause.
"Perhaps"said the abbess"he has fixed his affections on someother ladythan youhis wifeand that has driven him to thisstate."
Adrianasaid she had long thought the love of some other lady wasthe causeof his frequent absences from home.
Now it wasnot his love for anotherbut the teasing jealousy ofhis wife'stemperthat often obliged Antipholus to leave hishome; andthe abbess (suspecting this from the vehemence ofAdriana'smanner)to learn the truthsaid:
"Youshould have reprehended him for this."
"Whyso I did" replied Adriana.
"Aye"said the abbess"but perhaps not enough."
Adrianawilling to convince the abbess that she had said enoughtoAntipholus on this subjectreplied: "It was the constantsubject ofour conversation; in bed I would not let him sleep forspeakingof it. At table I would not let him eat for speaking ofit. When Iwas alone with him I talked of nothing else; and incompany Igave him frequent hints of it. Still all my talk washow vileand bad it was in him to love any lady better than me."
The ladyabbesshaving drawn this full confession from thejealousAdriananow said: "And therefore comes it that yourhusband ismad. The venomous clamor of a jealous woman is a moredeadlypoison than a mad dog's tooth. It seems his sleep washinderedby your railing; no wonder that his head is light; andhis meatwas sauced with your upbraidings; unquiet meals make illdigestionsand that has thrown him into this fever. You say hissportswere disturbed by your brawls; being debarred from theenjoymentof society and recreationwhat could ensue but dullmelancholyand comfortless despair? The consequence isthenthat yourjealous fits have made your husband mad."
Lucianawould have excused her sistersaying she alwaysreprehendedher husband mildly; and she said to her sister"Whydo youhear these rebukes without answering them?"
But theabbess had made her so plainly perceive her fault thatshe couldonly answer"She has betrayed me to my own reproof."
Adrianathough ashamed of her own conductstill insisted onhaving herhusband delivered up to her; but the abbess wouldsuffer noperson to enter her housenor would she deliver upthisunhappy man to the care of the jealous wifedeterminingherself touse gentle means for his recoveryand she retiredinto herhouse againand ordered her gates to be shut againstthem.
During thecourse of this eventful dayin which so many errorshadhappened from the likeness the twin brothers bore to eachotherold Aegeon's day of grace was passing awayit being nownearsunset; and at sunset he was doomed to die if he could notpay themoney.
The placeof his execution was near this conventand here hearrivedjust as the abbess retired into the convent; the dukeattendingin personthatif any offered to pay the moneyhemight bepresent to pardon him.
Adrianastopped this melancholy processionand cried out to theduke forjusticetelling him that the abbess had refused todeliver upher lunatic husband to her care. While she wasspeakingher real husband and his servantDromiowho had gotloosecame before the duke to demand justicecomplaining thathis wifehad confined him on a false charge of lunacyandtelling inwhat manner he had broken his bands and eluded thevigilanceof his keepers. Adriana was strangely surprised to seeherhusband when she thought he had been within the convent.
Aegeonseeing his sonconcluded this was the son who had lefthim to goin search of his mother and his brotherand he feltsecurethat this dear son would readily pay the money demandedfor hisransom. He therefore spoke to Antipholus in words offatherlyaffectionwith joyful hope that he should now bereleased.Butto the utter astonishment of Aegeonhis sondenied allknowledge of himas well he mightfor thisAntipholushad never seen his father since they were separated inthe stormin his infancy. But while the poor old Aegeon was invainendeavoring to make his son acknowledge himthinking surelythateither his griefs and the anxieties he had suffered had sostrangelyaltered him that his son did not know him or else thathe wasashamed to acknowledge his father in his misery--in themidst ofthis perplexity the lady abbess and the other Antipholusand Dromiocame outand the wondering Adriana saw two husbandsand twoDromios standing before her.
And nowthese riddling errorswhich had so perplexed them allwereclearly made out. When the duke saw the two Antipholuses andthe twoDromios both so exactly alikehe at once conjecturedaright ofthese seeming mysteriesfor he remembered the storyAegeon hadtold him in the morning; and he said these men must bethe twosons of Aegeon and their twin slaves.
But now anunlooked-for joy indeed completed the history ofAegeon;and the tale he had in the morning told in sorrowandundersentence of deathbefore the setting sun went down wasbrought toa happy conclusionfor the venerable lady abbess madeherselfknown to be the long-lost wife of Aegeon and the fondmother ofthe two Antipholuses.
When thefishermen took the eldest Antipholus and Dromio awayfrom hershe entered a nunneryand by her wise and virtuousconductshe was at length made lady abbess of this convent and indischargingthe rites of hospitality to an unhappy stranger shehadunknowingly protected her own son.
Joyfulcongratulations and affectionate greetings between theselong-separatedparents and their children made them for a whileforgetthat Aegeon was yet under sentence of death. When theywerebecome a little calmAntipholus of Ephesus offered the dukethe ransommoney for his father's life; but the duke freelypardonedAegeonand would not take the money. And the duke wentwith theabbess and her newly found husband and children into theconventto hear this happy family discourse at leisure of theblessedending of their adverse fortunes. And the two Dromios'humble joymust not be forgotten; they had their congratulationsandgreetingstooand each Dromio pleasantly complimented hisbrother onhis good looksbeing well pleased to see his ownperson (asin a glass) show so handsome in his brother.
Adrianahad so well profited by the good counsel of hermother-in-lawthat she never after cherished unjust suspicionsnor wasjealous of her husband.
Antipholusof Syracuse married the fair Lucianathe sister ofhisbrother's wife; and the good old Aegeonwith his wife andsonslived at Ephesus many years. Nor did the unraveling oftheseperplexities so entirely remove every ground of mistake forthe futurebut that sometimesto remind them of adventures pastcomicalblunders would happenand the one Antipholusand theoneDromiobe mistaken for the othermaking altogether apleasantand diverting Comedy of Errors.
In thecity of Vienna there once reigned a duke of such a mildand gentletemper that he suffered his subjects to neglect thelaws withimpunity; and there was in particular one law theexistenceof which was almost forgottenthe duke never havingput it inforce during his whole reign. This was a law doomingany man tothe punishment of death who should live with a womanthat wasnot his wife; and this lawthrough the lenity of thedukebeing utterly disregardedthe holy institution of marriagebecameneglectedand complaints were every day made to the dukeby theparents of the young ladies in Vienna that their daughtershad beenseduced from their protection and were living as thecompanionsof single men.
The goodduke perceived with sorrow this growing evil among hissubjects;but he thought that a sudden change in himself from theindulgencehe had hitherto shownto the strict severityrequisiteto check this abusewould make his people (who hadhithertoloved him) consider him as a tyrant; therefore hedeterminedto absent himself awhile from his dukedom and deputeanother tothe full exercise of his powerthat the law againstthesedishonorable lovers might be put in effectwithout givingoffense byan unusual severity in his own person.
Angeloaman who bore the reputation of a saint in Vienna forhis strictand rigid lifewas chosen by the duke as a fit persontoundertake this important charge; and when the duke impartedhis designto Lord Escalushis chief counselorEscalus said:
"Ifany man in Vienna be of worth to undergo such ample grace andhonoritis Lord Angelo."
And nowthe duke departed from Vienna under pretense of making ajourneyinto Polandleaving Angelo to act as the lord deputy inhisabsence; but the duke's absence was only a feigned oneforheprivately returned to Viennahabited like a friarwith theintent towatch unseen the conduct of the saintly-seeming Angelo.
Ithappened just about the time that Angelo was invested with hisnewdignity that a gentlemanwhose name was Claudiohad seduceda younglady from her parents; and for this offenseby commandof the newlord deputyClaudio was taken up and committed toprisonand by virtue of the old law which had been so longneglectedAngelo sentenced Claudio to be beheaded. Great interestwas madefor the pardon of young Claudioand the good old LordEscalushimself interceded for him.
"Alas!"said he"this gentleman whom I would save had anhonorablefatherfor whose sake I pray you pardon the youngman'stransgression."
But Angeloreplied: "We must not make a scarecrow of the lawsetting itup to frighten birds of preytill customfinding itharmlessmakes it their perch and not their terror. Sirhe mustdie."
Luciothefriend of Claudiovisited him in the prisonandClaudiosaid to him: "I pray youLuciodo me this kind service.Go to mysister Isabelwho this day proposes to enter theconvent ofSaint Clare; acquaint her with the danger of my state;imploreher that she make friends with the strict deputy; bid hergo herselfto Angelo. I have great hopes in that; for she candiscoursewith prosperous artand well she can persuade;besidesthere is a speechless dialect in youthful sorrow such asmovesmen."
Isabelthe sister of Claudiohadas he saidthat day enteredupon hernovitiate in the conventand it was her intentafterpassingthrough her probation as a noviceto take the veilandshe wasinquiring of a nun concerning the rules of the conventwhen theyheard the voice of Luciowhoas he entered thatreligioushousesaid"Peace be in this place!"
"Whois it that speaks?" said Isabel.
"Itis a man's voice" replied the nun. "Gentle Isabelgo tohimandlearn his business; you mayI may not. When you havetaken theveilyou must not speak with men but in the presenceof theprioress; then if you speak you must not show your faceor if youshow your face you must not speak."
"Andhave you nuns no further privileges?" said Isabel.
"Arenot these large enough?" replied the nun.
"Yestruly" said Isabel. "I speak not as desiring morebutratherwishing a more strict restraint upon the sisterhoodthevotaristsof Saint Clare."
Again theyheard the voice of Lucioand the nun said: "He callsagain. Ipray you answer him."
Isabelthen went out to Lucioand in answer to his salutationsaid:"Peace and Prosperity! Who is it that calls?"
ThenLucioapproaching her with reverencesaid: "Hailvirginif suchyou beas the roses on your cheeks proclaim you are noless! Canyou bring me to the sight of Isabela novice of thisplaceandthe fair sister to her unhappy brother Claudio?"
"Whyher unhappy brother?" said Isabel"let me ask! for I amthatIsabel and his sister."
"Fairand gentle lady" he replied"your brother kindly greetsyou by me;he is in prison."
"Woeis me! for what?" said Isabel.
Lucio thentold her Claudio was imprisoned for seducing a youngmaiden."Ah" said she"I fear it is my cousin Juliet."
Juliet andIsabel were not relatedbut they called each othercousin inremembrance of their school-days' friendship; and asIsabelknew that Juliet loved Claudioshe feared she had beenled by heraffection for him into this transgression.
"Sheit is" replied Lucio.
"Whythenlet my brother marry Juliet" said Isabel.
Lucioreplied that Claudio would gladly marry Julietbut thatthe lorddeputy had sentenced him to die for his offense."Unless"said he"you have the grace by your fair prayer tosoftenAngeloand that is my business between you and your poorbrother."
"Alas!"said Isabel"what poor ability is there in me to do himgood? Idoubt I have no power to move Angelo."
"Ourdoubts are traitors" said Lucio"and make us lose thegoodwe mightoften winby fearing to attempt it. Go to Lord Angelo!Whenmaidens sue and kneel and weep men give like gods."
"Iwill see what I can do said Isabel. "I will but stay to givetheprioress notice of the affairand then I will go to Angelo.Commend meto my brother. Soon at night I will send him word ofmysuccess."
Isabelhastened to the palace and threw herself on her kneesbeforeAngelosaying"I am a woeful suitor to your Honorif itwillplease your Honor to hear me."
"Wellwhat is your suit?" said Angelo.
She thenmade her petition in the most moving terms for herbrother'slife.
But Angelosaid"Maidenthere is no remedy; your brother issentencedand he must die."
"Ohjust but severe law!" said Isabel. "I had a brother then.Heavenkeep your Honor!" and she was about to depart.
But Luciowho had accompanied hersaid: "Give it not over so;return tohim againentreat himkneel down before himhangupon hisgown. You are too cold; if you should need a pinyoucould notwith a more tame tongue desire it."
Then againIsabel on her knees implored for mercy.
"Heis sentenced" said Angelo. "It is too late."
"Toolate!" said Isabel. "Whyno! I that do speak a word maycall itback again. Believe thismy lordno ceremony that togreat onesbelongsnot the king's crownnor the deputed swordthemarshal's truncheonnor the judge's robebecomes them withone halfso good a grace as mercy does."
"Prayyou begone" said Angelo.
But stillIsabel entreated; and she said: "If my brother had beenas youand you as heyou might have slipped like himbut helike youwould not have been so stern. I would to Heaven I hadyour powerand you were Isabel. Should it then be thus? NoIwould tellyou what it were to be a judgeand what a prisoner."
"Becontentfair maid!" said Angelo: "it is the lawnot Icondemnsyour brother. Were he my kinsmanmy brotheror my sonit shouldbe thus with him. He must die to-morrow."
"To-morrow?"said Isabel. "Ohthat is sudden! Spare himsparehim. He isnot prepared for death. Even for our kitchens we killthe fowlin season; shall we serve Heaven with less respect thanweminister to our gross selves? Goodgoodmy lordbethinkyounonehave died for my brother's offensethough many havecommittedit. So you would be the first that gives this sentenceand he thefirst that suffers it. Go to your own bosommy lord;knockthereand ask your heart what it does know that is like mybrother'sfault; if it confess a natural guiltiness such as hisislet itnot sound a thought against my brother's life!"
Her lastwords more moved Angelo than all she had before saidfor thebeauty of Isabel had raised a guilty passion in his heartand hebegan to form thoughts of dishonorable lovesuch asClaudio'scrime had beenand the conflict in his mind made himto turnaway from Isabel; but she called him backsaying:"Gentlemy lordturn back. Harkhow I will bribe you. Good mylordturnback!"
"How!bribe me?" said Angeloastonished that she should think ofofferinghim a bribe.
"Aye"said Isabel"with such gifts that Heaven itself shallshare withyou; not with golden treasuresor those glitteringstoneswhose price is either rich or poor as fancy values thembut withtrue prayers that shall be up to Heaven beforesunrise--prayersfrom preserved soulsfrom fasting maids whoseminds arededicated to nothing temporal."
"Wellcome to me to-morrow" said Angelo.
And forthis short respite of her brother's lifeand for thispermissionthat she might be heard againshe left him with thejoyfulhope that she should at last prevail over his sternnature.And as she went away she said: "Heaven keep your Honorsafe!Heaven save your Honor!" Whichwhen Angelo heardhe saidwithin hisheart"AmenI would be saved from thee and from thyvirtues."And thenaffrighted at his own evil thoughtshe said:"Whatis this? What is this? Do I love herthat I desire to hearher speakagain and feast upon her eyes? What is it I dream on?Thecunning enemy of mankindto catch a saintwith saints doesbait thehook. Never could an immodest woman once stir my temperbut thisvirtuous woman subdues me quite. Even till nowwhen menwere fondI smiled and wondered at them."
In theguilty conflict in his mind Angelo suffered more thatnight thanthe prisoner he had so severely sentenced; for in theprisonClaudio was visited by the good dukewhoin his friar'shabittaught the young man the way to heavenpreaching to himthe wordsof penitence and peace. But Angelo felt all the pangsofirresolute guiltnow wishing to seduce Isabel from the pathsofinnocence and honorand now suffering remorse and horror fora crime asyet but intentional. But in the end his evil thoughtsprevailed;and he who had so lately started at the offer of abriberesolved to tempt this maiden with so high a bribe as shemight notbe able to resisteven with the precious gift of herdearbrother's life.
WhenIsabel came in the morning Angelo desired she might beadmittedalone to his presence; and being therehe said to herif shewould yield to him her virgin honor and transgress even asJuliet haddone with Claudiohe would give her her brother'slife.
"For"said he"I love youIsabel."
"Mybrother" said Isabel"did so love Julietand yet youtellme heshall die for it."
"But"said Angelo"Claudio shall not die if you will consent tovisit meby stealth at nighteven as Juliet left her father'shouse atnight to come to Claudio."
Isabelinamazement at his wordsthat he should tempt her tothe samefault for which he passed sentence upon her brothersaid"Iwould do as much for my poor brother as for myself; thatiswere Iunder sentence of deaththe impression of keen whipsI wouldwear as rubiesand go to my death as to a bed thatlonging Ihad been sick forere I would yield myself up to thisshame."And then she told him she hoped he only spoke these wordsto try hervirtue.
But hesaid"Believe meon my honormy words express mypurpose."
Isabelangered to the heart to hear him use the word honor toexpresssuch dishonorable purposessaid: "Ha! little honor to bemuchbelieved; and most pernicious purpose. I will proclaim theeAngelolook for it! Sign me a present pardon for my brotherorI willtell the world aloud what man thou art!"
"Whowill believe youIsabel?" said Angelo; "my unsoiled nametheaustereness of my lifemy word vouched against yourswilloutweighyour accusation. Redeem your brother by yielding to mywillorhe shall die to-morrow. As for yousay what you canmyfalse willoverweigh your true story. Answer me to-morrow."
"Towhom should I complain? Did I tell thiswho would believeme?"said Isabelas she went toward the dreary prison where herbrotherwas confined. When she arrived there her brother was inpiousconversation with the dukewho in his friar's habit hadalsovisited Juliet and brought both these guilty lovers to apropersense of their fault; and unhappy Juliet with tears and atrueremorse confessed that she was more to blame than Claudioin thatshe willingly consented to his dishonorablesolicitations.
As Isabelentered the room where Claudio was confinedshe said"Peacebe heregraceand good company!"
"Whois there?" said the disguised duke. "Come in; the wishdeserves awelcome."
"Mybusiness is a word or two with Claudio" said Isabel.
Then theduke left them togetherand desired the provost who hadthe chargeof the prisoners to place him where he might overheartheirconversation.
"Nowsisterwhat is the comfort?" said Claudio.
Isabeltold him he must prepare for death on the morrow.
"Isthere no remedy?" said Claudio.
"Yesbrother" replied Isabel"there is; but such a one as ifyouconsented to it would strip your honor from you and leave younaked."
"Letme know the point" said Claudio.
"OhI do fear youClaudio!" replied his sister; "and I quakelest youshould wish to liveand more respect the trifling termof six orseven winters added to your life than your perpetualhonor! Doyou dare to die? The sense of death is most inapprehensionand the poor beetle that we tread upon feels a pangas greatas when a giant dies."
"Whydo you give me this shame?" said Claudio. "Think you I canfetch aresolution from flowery tenderness? If I must dieI willencounterdarkness as a bride and hug it in my arms."
"Therespoke my brother" said Isabel; "there my father's gravedid utterforth a voice! Yesyou must die; yet would you thinkitClaudiothis outward sainted deputyif I would yield to himmy virginhonorwould grant your life? Ohwere it but my lifeI wouldlay it down for your deliverance as frankly as a pin!"
"Thanksdear Isabel" said Claudio.
"Beready to die to-morrow" said Isabel.
"Deathis a fearful thing" said Claudio.
"Andshamed life a hateful" replied his sister.
But thethoughts of death now overcame the constancy of Claudio'stemperand terrorssuch as the guilty only at their deaths doknowassailing himhe cried out: "Sweet sisterlet me live!The sinyou do to save a brother's lifenature dispenses withthe deedso far that it becomes a virtue."
"Ofaithless coward! O dishonest wretch!" said Isabel. "Wouldyoupreserveyour life by your sister's shame? Ohfiefiefie! Ithoughtmy brotheryou had in you such a mind of honor thathad youtwenty heads to render up on twenty blocksyou wouldhaveyielded them up all before your sister should stoop to suchdishonor."
"Nayhear meIsabel!" said Claudio.
But whathe would have said in defense of his weakness indesiringto live by the dishonor of his virtuous sister wasinterruptedby the entrance of the duke; who said:
"ClaudioI have overheard what has passed between you and yoursister.Angelo had never the purpose to corrupt her; what hesaidhasonly been to make trial of her virtue. Shehaving thetruth ofhonor in herhas given him that gracious denial whichhe is mostill glad to receive. There is no hope that he willpardonyou; therefore pass your hours in prayerand make readyfordeath."
ThenClaudio repented of his weaknessand said: "Let me ask mysister'spardon! I am so out of love with life that I will sue tobe rid ofit." And Claudio retiredoverwhelmed with shame andsorrow forhis fault.
The dukebeing now alone with Isabelcommended her virtuousresolutionsaying"The hand that made you fair has made yougood."
"Oh"said Isabel"how much is the good duke deceived in Angelo!If ever hereturnand I can speak to himI will discover hisgovernment."Isabel knew not that she was even now making thediscoveryshe threatened.
The dukereplied: "That shall not be much amiss; yet as thematter nowstandsAngelo will repel your accusation; thereforelend anattentive ear to my advisings. I believe that you maymostrighteously do a poor wronged lady a merited benefitredeemyourbrother from the angry lawdo no stain to your own mostgraciouspersonand much please the absent dukeif peradventurehe shallever return to have notice of this business."
Isabelsaid she had a spirit to do anything he desiredprovidedit wasnothing wrong.
"Virtueis bold and never fearful" said the duke: and then heasked herif she had ever heard of Marianathe sister ofFrederickthe great soldier who was drowned at sea.
"Ihave heard of the lady" said Isabel"and good words wentwith hername."
"Thislady" said the duke"is the wife of Angelo; but hermarriagedowry was on board the vessel in which her brotherperishedand mark how heavily this befell to the poorgentlewoman!forbesides the loss of a most noble and renownedbrotherwho in his love toward her was ever most kind andnaturalin the wreck of her fortune she lost the affections ofherhusbandthe well-seeming Angelowhopretending to discoversomedishonor in this honorable lady (though the true cause wasthe lossof her dowry)left her in her tears and dried not oneof themwith his comfort. His unjust unkindnessthat in allreasonshould have quenched her lovehaslike an impediment inthecurrentmade it more unrulyand Mariana loves her cruelhusbandwith the full continuance of her first affection."
The dukethen more plainly unfolded his plan. It was that Isabelshould goto Lord Angelo and seemingly consent to come to him ashe desiredat midnight; that by this means she would obtain thepromisedpardon; and that Mariana should go in her stead to theappointmentand pass herself upon Angelo in the dark for Isabel.
"Norgentle daughter" said the feigned friar"fear you to thisthing.Angelo is her husbandand to bring them thus together isno sin.
Isabelbeing pleased with this projectdeparted to do as hedirectedher; and he went to apprise Mariana of their intention.He hadbefore this time visited this unhappy lady in his assumedcharactergiving her religious instruction and friendlyconsolationat which times he had learned her sad story from herown lips;and now shelooking upon him as a holy manreadilyconsentedto be directed by him in this undertaking.
WhenIsabel returned from her interview with Angeloto the houseofMarianawhere the duke had appointed her to meet himhesaid:"Well metand in good time. What is the news from thisgooddeputy?"
Isabelrelated the manner in which she had settled the affair."Angelo"said she"has a garden surrounded with a brick wallon thewestern side of which is a vineyardand to that vineyardis agate." And then she showed to the duke and Mariana two keysthatAngelo had given her; and she said: "This bigger key opensthevineyard gate; this other a little door which leads from thevineyardto the garden. There I have made my promise at the deadof thenight to call upon himand have got from him his word ofassurancefor my brother's life. I have taken a due and wary noteof theplace; and with whispering and most guilty diligence heshowed methe way twice over."
"Arethere no other tokens agreed upon between youthat Marianamustobserve?" said the duke.
"Nonone" said Isabel"only to go when it is dark. I havetoldhim mytime can be but short; for I have made him think a servantcomesalong with meand that this servant is persuaded I comeabout mybrother."
The dukecommended her discreet managementand sheturning toMarianasaid"Little have you to say to Angelowhen you departfrom himbut soft and lowREMEMBER NOW MY BROTHER!"
Marianawas that night conducted to the appointed place byIsabelwho rejoiced that she hadas she supposedby thisdevicepreserved both her brother's life and her own honor. Butthat herbrother's life was safe the duke was not well satisfiedandtherefore at midnight he again repaired to the prisonand itwas wellfor Claudio that he did soelse would Claudio have thatnight beenbeheaded; for soon after the duke entered the prisonan ordercame from the cruel deputy commanding that Claudioshould bebeheaded and his head sent to him by five o'clock inthemorning. But the duke persuaded the provost to put off theexecutionof Claudioand to deceive Angelo by sending him thehead of aman who died that morning in the prison. And to prevailupon theprovost to agree to thisthe dukewhom still theprovostsuspected not to be anything more or greater than heseemedshowed the provost a letter written with the duke's handand sealedwith his sealwhich when the provost sawheconcludedthis friar must have some secret order from the absentdukeandtherefore he consented to spare Claudio; and he cut offthe deadman's head and carried it to Angelo.
Then theduke in his own name wrote to Angelo a letter sayingthatcertain accidents had put a stop to his journey and that heshould bein Vienna by the following morningrequiring Angelo tomeet himat the entrance of the citythere to deliver up hisauthority;and the duke also commanded it to be proclaimed thatif any ofhis subjects craved redress for injustice they shouldexhibittheir petitions in the street on his first entrance intothe city.
Early inthe morning Isabel came to the prisonand the dukewhothereawaited her comingfor secret reasons thought it good totell herthat Claudio was beheaded; therefore when Isabelinquiredif Angelo had sent the pardon for her brotherhe said:
"Angelohas released Claudio from this world. His head is off andsent tothe deputy."
Themuch-grieved sister cried out"O unhappy ClaudiowretchedIsabelinjurious worldmost wicked Angelo!"
Theseeming friar bid her take comfortand when she was become alittlecalm he acquainted her with the near prospect of theduke'sreturn and told her in what manner she should proceed inpreferringher complaint against Angelo; and he bade her not fearif thecause should seem to go against her for a while. LeavingIsabelsufficiently instructedhe next went to Mariana and gavehercounsel in what manner she also should act.
Then theduke laid aside his friar's habitand in his own royalrobesamid a joyful crowd of his faithful subjects assembled togreet hisarrivalentered the city of Viennawhere he was metby Angelowho delivered up his authority in the proper form. Andthere cameIsabelin the manner of a petitioner for redressandsaid:
"Justicemost royal duke! I am the sister of one Claudiowhofor theseducing a young maidwas condemned to lose his head. Imade mysuit to lord Angelo for my brother's pardon. It wereneedlessto tell your Grace how I prayed and kneeledhow herepelledmeand how I replied; for this was of much length. Thevileconclusion I now begin with grief and pain to utter. Angelowould notbut by my yielding to his dishonorable lovereleasemybrother; and after much debate within myself my sisterlyremorseovercame my virtueand I did yield to him. But the nextmorningbetimesAngeloforfeiting his promisesent a warrantfor mypoor brother's head!"
The dukeaffected to disbelieve her story; and Angelo said thatgrief forher brother's deathwho had suffered by the due courseof thelawhad disordered her senses.
And nowanother suitor approachedwhich was Mariana; and Marianasaid:"Noble princeas there comes light from heaven and truthfrombreathas there is sense in truth and truth in virtueI amthis man'swifeandmy good lordthe words of Isabel arefalseforthe night she says she was with Angelo I passed thatnight withhim in the garden-house. As this is true let me insafetyriseor else forever be fixed here a marble monument."
Then didIsabel appeal for the truth of what she had said toFriarLodowickthat being the name the duke had assumed in hisdisguise.Isabel and Mariana had both obeyed his instructions inwhat theysaidthe duke intending that the innocence of Isabelshould beplainly proved in that public manner before the wholecity ofVienna; but Angelo little thought that it was from such acause thatthey thus differed in their storyand he hoped fromtheircontradictory evidence to be able to clear himself from theaccusationof Isabel; and he saidassuming the look of offendedinnocence:
"Idid but smile till now; butgood my lordmy patience here istouchedand I perceive these poordistracted women are but theinstrumentsof some greater one who sets them on. Let me havewaymylordto find this practice out."
"Ayewith all my heart" said the duke"and punish them to theheight ofyour pleasure. YouLord Escalussit with Lord Angelolend himyour pains to discover this abuse; the friar is sent forthat setthem onand when he comes do with your injuries as mayseem bestin any chastisement. I for a while will leave youbutstir notyouLord Angelotill you have well determined uponthisslander." The duke then went awayleaving Angelo wellpleased tobe deputed judge and umpire in his own cause. But theduke wasabsent only while he threw off his royal robes and puton hisfriar's habit; and in that disguise again he presentedhimselfbefore Angelo and Escalus. And the good old EscaluswhothoughtAngelo had been falsely accusedsaid to the supposedfriar"Comesirdid you set these women on to slander LordAngelo?"
Hereplied: "Where is the duke? It is he who should hear mespeak."
Escalussaid: "The duke is in usand we will hear you. Speakjustly."
"Boldlyat least" retorted the friar; and then he blamed theduke forleaving the cause of Isabel in the hands of him she hadaccusedand spoke so freely of many corrupt practices he hadobservedwhileas he saidhe had been a looker-on in ViennathatEscalus threatenedhim with the torture for speaking wordsagainstthe state and for censuring the conduct of the dukeandorderedhim to be taken away to prison. Thento the amazement ofallpresentand to the utter confusion of Angelothe supposedfriarthrew off his disguiseand they saw it was the dukehimself.
The dukefirst addressed Isabel. He said to her: "Come hitherIsabel.Your friar is now your princebut with my habit I havenotchanged my heart. I am still devoted to your service."
"Ohgive me pardon" said Isabel"that Iyour vassalhaveemployedand troubled your unknown sovereignty."
Heanswered that he had most need of forgiveness from her for nothavingprevented the death of her brother for not yet would hetell herthat Claudio was living; meaning first to make a furthertrial ofher goodness.
Angelo nowknew the duke had been a secret witness of his baddeedsandbe said: "O my dread lordI should be guiltier thanmyguiltinessto think I can be undiscerniblewhen I perceiveyourGracelike power divinehas looked upon my actions. Thengoodprinceno longer prolong my shamebut let my trial be myownconfession. Immediate sentence and death is all the grace Ibeg."
The dukereplied: "Angelothy faults are manifest. We do condemnthee tothe very block where Claudio stooped to deathand withlike hasteaway with him; and for his possessionsMarianawe doinstateand widow you withalto buy you a better husband."
"O mydear lord" said Mariana"I crave no othernor no betterman!"And then on her kneeseven as Isabel had begged the lifeofClaudiodid this kind wife of an ungrateful husband beg thelife ofAngelo; and she said: "Gentle my liegeO good my lord!SweetIsabeltake my part! Lend me your knees and all my life tocome Iwill lend you all my lifeto do you service!"
The dukesaid: "Against all sense you importune her. ShouldIsabelkneel down to beg for mercyher brother's ghost wouldbreak hispaved bed and take her hence in horror."
StillMariana said: "Isabelsweet Isabeldo but kneel by mehold upyour handsay nothing! I will speak all. They say bestmen aremolded out of faultsand for the most part become muchthe betterfor being a little bad. So may my husband. O Isabel!will younot lend a knee?"
The dukethen said"He dies for Claudio." But much pleased wasthe goodduke when his own Isabelfrom whom he expected allgraciousand honorable actskneeled down before himand said:"Mostbounteous sirlookif it please youon this mancondemnedas if my brother lived. I partly think a due sinceritygovernedhis deeds till he did look on me. Since it is solethim notdie! My brother had but justice in that he did the thingfor whichhe died."
The dukeas the best reply he could make to this noblepetitionerfor her enemy's lifesending for Claudio from hisprisonhousewhere he lay doubtful of his destinypresented toher thislamented brother living; and he said to Isabel: "Give meyour handIsabel. For your lovely sake I pardon Claudio. Say youwill bemineand he shall be my brothertoo."
By thistime Lord Angelo perceived he was safe; and the dukeobservinghis eye to brighten up a littlesaid:
"WellAngelolook that you love your wife; her worth hasobtainedyour pardon. Joy to youMariana! Love herAngelo! Ihaveconfessed her and know her virtue."
Angelorememberedwhen dressed in a little brief authorityhowhard hisheart had beenand felt how sweet is mercy.
The dukecommanded Claudio to marry Julietand offered himselfagain tothe acceptance of Isabelwhose virtuous and nobleconducthad won her prince's heart. Isabelnot having taken theveilwasfree to marry; and the friendly officeswhile hidunder thedisguise of a humble friarwhich the noble duke haddone forhermade her with grateful joy accept the honor heofferedher; and when she became Duchess of Vienna the excellentexample ofthe virtuous Isabel worked such a complete reformationamong theyoung ladies of that citythat from that time noneever fellinto the transgression of Julietthe repentant wife ofthereformed Claudio. And the mercy-loving duke long reigned withhisbeloved Isabelthe happiest of husbands and of princes.
Sebastianand his sister Violaa young gentleman and lady ofMessalinewere twinsand (which was accounted a great wonder)from theirbirth they so much resembled each other thatbut forthedifference in their dressthey could not be known apart.They wereboth born in one hourand in one hour they were bothin dangerof perishingfor they were shipwrecked on the coast ofIllyriaas they were making a sea-voyage together. The ship onboard ofwhich they were split on a rock in a violent stormanda verysmall number of the ship's company escaped with theirlives. Thecaptain of the vesselwith a few of the sailors thatweresavedgot to land in a small boatand with them theybroughtViola safe on shorewhere shepoor ladyinstead ofrejoicingat her own deliverancebegan to lament her brother'sloss; butthe captain comforted her with the assurance that hehad seenher brotherwhen the ship splitfasten himself to astrongmaston whichas long as he could see anything of himfor thedistancehe perceived him borne up above the waves.Viola wasmuch consoled by the hope this account gave herandnowconsidered bow she was to dispose of herself in a strangecountryso far from home; and she asked the captain if he knewanythingof Illyria.
"Ayevery wellmadam" replied the captain"for I was born notthreehours' travel from this place."
"Whogoverns here?" said Viola. The captain told her Illyria wasgovernedby Orsinoa duke noble in nature as well as dignity.
Violasaidshe had heard her father speak of Orsinoand that hewasunmarried then.
"Andhe is so now" said the captain; "or was so very late forbut amonth agoI went from hereand then it was the generaltalk (asyou know what great ones dothe people will prattle of)thatOrsino sought the love of fair Oliviaa virtuous maidthedaughterof a count who died twelve months agoleaving Olivia totheprotection of her brotherwho shortly after died also; andfor thelove of this dear brotherthey sayshe has abjured thesight andcompany of men."
Violawhowas herself in such a sad affliction for her brother'slosswished she could live with this lady who so tenderlymourned abrother's death. She asked the captain if be couldintroduceher to Oliviasaying she would willingly serve thislady. Buthe replied this would be a hard thing to accomplishbecausethe Lady Olivia would admit no person into her housesince herbrother's deathnot even the duke himself. Then Violaformedanother project in her mindwhich wasin a man's habitto servethe Duke Orsino as a page. It was a strange fancy in ayoung ladyto put on male attire and pass for a boy; but theforlornand unprotected state of Violawho was young and ofuncommonbeautyaloneand in a foreign landmust plead herexcuse.
She havingobserved a fair behavior in the captainand that heshowed afriendly concern for her welfareintrusted him with herdesignand he readily engaged to assist her. Viola gave himmoney anddirected him to furnish her with suitable apparelorderingher clothes to be made of the same color and in the samefashionher brother Sebastian used to wearand when she wasdressed inher manly garb she looked so exactly like her brotherthat somestrange errors happened by means of their beingmistakenfor each otherforas will afterward appearSebastianwas alsosaved.
Viola'sgood friendthe captainwhen he had transformed thisprettylady into a gentlemanhaving some interest at courtgotherpresented to Orsino under the feigned name of Cesario. Theduke waswonderfully pleased with the address and gracefuldeportmentof this handsome youthand made Cesario one of hispagesthat being the office Viola wished to obtain; and she sowellfulfilled the duties of her new stationand showed such areadyobservance and faithful attachment to her lordthat shesoonbecame his most favored attendant. To Cesario Orsinoconfidedthe whole history of his love for the lady Olivia. ToCesario hetold the long and unsuccessful suit he had made to onewhorejecting his long services and despising his personrefused toadmit him to her presence; and for the love of thislady whohad so unkindly treated him the noble Orsinoforsakingthe sportsof the field and all manly exercises in which heused todelightpassed his hours in ignoble slothlistening totheeffeminate sounds of soft musicgentle airsand passionatelove-songs;and neglecting the company of the wise and learnedlords withwhom he used to associatehe was now all day longconversingwith young Cesario. Unmeet companion no doubt hisgravecourtiers thought Cesario was for their once noble masterthe greatDuke Orsino.
It is adangerous matter for young maidens to be the confidantesofhandsome young dukes; which Viola too soon foundto hersorrowfor all that Orsino told her he endured for Olivia shepresentlyperceived she suffered for the love of himand much itmoved herwonder that Olivia could be so regardless of this herpeerlesslord and masterwhom she thought no one could beholdwithoutthe deepest admirationand she ventured gently to hintto Orsinothat it was a pity he should affect a lady who was soblind tohis worthy qualities; and she said:
"If alady were to love youmy lordas you love Olivia (andperhapsthere may be one who does)if you could not love her inreturn)would you not tell her that you could not loveand mustshe not becontent with this answer?"
But Orsinowould not admit of this reasoningfor he denied thatit waspossible for any woman to love as he did. He said nowoman'sheart was big enough to hold so much loveand thereforeit wasunfair to compare the love of any lady for him to his loveforOlivia. Nowthough Viola had the utmost deference for theduke'sopinionsshe could not help thinking this was not quitetrueforshe thought her heart had full as much love in it asOrsino'shad; and she said:
"Ahbut I knowmy lord."
"Whatdo you knowCesario?" said Orsino.
"Toowell I know" replied Viola"what love women may owe tomen. Theyare as true of heart as we are. My father had adaughterloved a manas I perhapswere I a womanshould loveyourlordship."
"Andwhat is her history?" said Orsino.
"Ablankmy lord" replied Viola. "She never told her lovebutletconcealmentlike a worm in the budfeed on her damaskcheek. Shepined in thoughtand with a green and yellowmelancholyshe sat like Patience on a monumentsmiling atGrief."
The dukeinquired if this lady died of her lovebut to thisquestionViola returned an evasive answer; as probably she hadfeignedthe storyto speak words expressive of the secret loveand silentgrief she suffered for Orsino.
While theywere talkinga gentleman entered whom the duke hadsent toOliviaand he said"So please youmy lordI might notbeadmitted to the ladybut by her handmaid she returned youthisanswer: Until seven years hence the element itself shall notbehold herface; but like a cloistress she will walk veiledwateringher chamber with her tears for the sad remembrance ofher deadbrother."
On hearingthis the duke exclaimed"Ohshe that has a heart ofthis fineframeto pay this debt of love to a dead brotherhowwill shelove when the rich golden shaft has touched her heart!"
And thenhe said to Viola: "You knowCesarioI have told youall thesecrets of my heart; thereforegood youthgo toOlivia'shouse. Be not denied access; stand at her doors and tellher thereyour fixed foot shall grow till you have audience."
"Andif I do speak to hermy lordwhat then?" said Viola.
"Ohthen" replied Orsino"unfold to her the passion of mylove. Makea long discourse to her of my dear faith. It will wellbecome youto act my woesfor she will attend more to you thanto one ofgraver aspect."
Awaythen went Viola; but not willingly did she undertake thiscourtshipfor she was to woo a lady to become a wife to him shewished tomarry; buthaving undertaken the affairshe performedit withfidelityand Olivia soon heard that a youth was at herdoor whoinsisted upon being admitted to her presence.
"Itold him" said the servant"that you were sick. He saidheknew youwereand therefore he came to speak with you. I toldhim thatyou were asleep. He seemed to have a foreknowledge ofthattooand said that therefore he must speak with you. Whatis to besaid to himlady? for he seems fortified against alldenialand will speak with youwhether you will or no."
Oliviacurious to see who this peremptory messenger might bedesired bemight be admittedandthrowing her veil over herfaceshesaid she would once more hear Orsino's embassynotdoubtingbut that he came from the dukeby his importunity.Violaenteringput on the most manly air she could assumeandaffectingthe fine courtier language of great men's pagesshesaid tothe veiled lady:
"Mostradiantexquisiteand matchless beautyI pray you tellme if youare the lady of the house; for I should be sorry tocast awaymy speech upon another; for besides that it isexcellentlywell pennedI have taken great pains to learn it."
"Whencecome yousir?" said Olivia.
"Ican say little more than I have studied" replied Violaandthatquestion is out of my part."
"Areyou a comedian?" said Olivia.
"No"replied Viola; "and yet I am not that which I play"meaningthat shebeing a womanfeigned herself to be a man. Andagain sheasked Olivia if she were the lady of the house.
Oliviasaid she was; and then Violahaving more curiosity to seeherrival's features than haste to deliver her master's messagesaid"Good madamlet me see your face." With this bold requestOlivia wasnot averse to complyfor this haughty beautywhomthe DukeOrsino had loved so long in vainat first sightconceiveda passion for the supposed pagethe humble Cesario.
When Violaasked to see her faceOlivia said"Have you anycommissionfrom your lord and master to negotiate with my face?"And thenforgetting her determination to go veiled for sevenlongyearsshe drew aside her veilsaying: "But I will draw thecurtainand show the picture. Is it not well done?"
Violareplied: "It is beauty truly mixed; the red and white uponyourcheeks is by Nature's own cunning hand laid on. You are themost cruellady living if you lead these graces to the grave andleave theworld no copy."
"Ohsir" replied Olivia"I will not be so cruel. The worldmayhave aninventory of my beauty. Asitemtwo lipsindifferentred; itemtwo gray eyes with lids to them; one neck; one chin;and soforth. Were you sent here to praise me?"
Violareplied"I see what you are: you are too proudbut youare fair.My lord and master loves you. Ohsuch a love could butberecompensed though you were crowned the queen of beauty; forOrsinoloves you with adoration and with tearswith groans thatthunderloveand sighs of fire."
"Yourlord" said Olivia"knows well my mind. I cannot love him;yet Idoubt not he is virtuous; I know him to be noble and ofhighestateof fresh and spotless youth. All voices proclaim himlearnedcourteousand valiant; yet I cannot love him. He mighthave takenhis answer long ago."
"If Idid love you as my master does" said Viola"I would makeme awillow cabin at your gatesand call upon your name. I wouldwritecomplaining sonnets on Oliviaand sing them in the dead ofthe night.Your name should sound among the hillsand I wouldmake Echothe babbling gossip of the aircry out OLIVIA. Ohyou shouldnot rest between the elements of earth and airbutyou shouldpity me."
"Youmight do much" said Olivia. "What is your parentage?'"
Violareplied: "Above my fortunesyet my state is well. I am agentleman."
Olivia nowreluctantly dismissed Violasaying: "Go to yourmaster andtell him I cannot love him. Let him send no more'unlessperchance you come again to tell me how he takes it."
And Violadepartedbidding the lady farewell by the name of FairCruelty.When she was gone Olivia repeated the wordsABOVE MYFORTUNESYET MY STATE IS WELL. I AM A GENTLEMAN. And she saidaloud"Iwill be sworn he is; his tonguehis facehis limbsactionand spirit plainly show he is a gentleman." And then shewishedCesario was the duke; andperceiving the fast hold he hadtaken onher affectionsshe blamed herself for her sudden love;but thegentle blame which people lay upon their own faults hasno deeprootand presently the noble lady Olivia so far forgottheinequality betweenher fortunes and those of this seemingpageaswell as the maidenly reserve which is the chief ornamentof alady's characterthat she resolved to court the love ofyoungCesarioand sent a servant after him with a diamond ringunder thepretense that he had left it with her as a present fromOrsino.She hoped by thus artfully making Cesario a present ofthe ringshe should give him some intimation of her design; andtruly itdid make Viola suspect; forknowing that Orsino hadsent noring by hershe began to recollect that Olivia's looksand mannerwere expressive of admirationand she presentlyguessedher master's mistress had fallen in love with her.
"Alas!"said she"the poor lady might as well love a dream.Disguise Isee is wickedfor it has caused Olivia to breathe asfruitlesssighs for me as I do for Orsino."
Violareturned to Orsino's palaceand related to her lord theillsuccess of the negotiationrepeating the command of Oliviathat theduke should trouble her no more. Yet still the dukepersistedin hoping that the gentle Cesario would in time be abletopersuade her to show some pityand therefore he bade him heshould goto her again the next day. In the mean timeto passaway thetedious intervalhe commanded a song which he loved tobe sung;and he said:
"Mygood Cesariowhen I heard that song last nightmethought itdidrelieve my passion much. Mark itCesarioit is old andplain. Thespinsters and the knitters when they sit in the sunand theyoung maids that weave their thread with bonechant thissong. Itis sillyyet I love itfor it tells of the innocenceof love inthe old times."
Come awaycome awayDeath And in sad cypress let me be laid; Fly awayfly awaybreath I am slain by a fair cruel maid.Myshroud of white stuck all with yewO prepare it!My partof death no one so true did share it. Not a flowernot a flower sweet On my black coffin let there be strewn: Not a friendnot a friend greet My poor corpsewhere my bones shall be thrown.Athousand thousand sighs to savelay me O whereSadtrue lover never find my graveto weep there!
Viola didnot fail to mark the words of the old songwhich insuch truesimplicity described the pangs of unrequited loveandshe boretestimony in her countenance of feeling what the songexpressed.Her sad looks were observed by Orsinowho said toher:
"Mylife upon itCesariothough you are so youngyour eye haslookedupon some face that it loves. Has it notboy?"
"Alittlewith your leave" replied Viola.
"Andwhat kind of womanand of what age is she?" said Orsino.
"Ofyour age and of your complexionmy lord" said Viola; whichmade theduke smile to hear this fair young boy loved a woman somuch olderthan himself and of a man's dark complexion; but Violasecretlymeant Orsinoand not a woman like him.
When Violamade her second visit to Olivia she found nodifficultyin gaining access to her. Servants soon discover whentheirladies delight to converse with handsome young messengers;and theinstant Viola arrived the gates were thrown wide openand theduke's page was shown into Olivia's apartment with greatrespect.And when Viola told Olivia that she was come once moreto pleadin her lord's behalfthis lady said:
"Idesired you never to speak of him again; but if you wouldundertakeanother suitI had rather hear you solicitthan musicfrom thespheres."
This waspretty plain speakingbut Olivia soon explained herselfstill moreplainlyand openly confessed her love; and when shesawdispleasure with perplexity expressed in Viola's faceshesaid: "Ohwhat a deal of scorn looks beautiful in the contemptand angerof his lip! Cesarioby the roses of the springbymaidhoodhonorand by truthI love you so thatin spite ofyourprideI have neither wit nor reason to conceal my passion."
But invain the lady wooed. Viola hastened from her presencethreateningnever more to come to plead Orsino's love; and allthe replyshe made to Olivia's fond solicitation wasadeclarationof a resolution NEVER TO LOVE ANY WOMAN.
No soonerhad Viola left the lady than a claim was made upon hervalor. Agentlemana rejected suitor of Oliviawho had learnedhow thatlady had favored the duke's messengerchallenged him tofight aduel. What should poor Viola dowhothough she carrieda man-likeoutsidehad a true woman's heart and feared to lookon her ownsword?
Whenshesaw her formidable rival advancing toward her with hissworddrawn she began to think of confessing that she was awoman; butshe was relieved at once from her terrorand theshame ofsuch a discoveryby a stranger that was passing bywhomade up tothemand as if he had been long known to her and wereherdearest friend said to her opponent:
"Ifthis young gentleman has done offenseI will take the faulton me; andif you offend himI will for his sake defy you."
BeforeViola had time to thank him for his protectionor toinquirethe reason of his kind interferenceher new friend metwith anenemy where his bravery was of no use to him; for theofficersof justice coming up in that instantapprehended thestrangerin the duke's nameto answer for an offense he hadcommittedsome years before; and he said to Viola:
"Thiscomes with seeking you." And then he asked her for a pursesaying:"Now my necessity makes me ask for my purseand itgrieves memuch more for what I cannot do for you than for whatbefallsmyself. You stand amazedbut be of comfort."
His wordsdid indeed amaze Violaand she protested she knew himnotnorhad ever received a purse from him; but for the kindnesshe hadjust shown her she offered him a small sum of moneybeingnearly thewhole she possessed. And now the stranger spoke severethingscharging her with ingratitude and unkindness. He said:
"Thisyouth whom you see here I snatched from the jaws of deathand forhis sake alone I came to Illyria and have fallen intothisdanger."
But theofficers cared little for harkening to the complaints oftheirprisonerand they hurried him offsaying"What is thatto us?"And as he was carried awayhe called Viola by the nameofSebastianreproaching the supposed Sebastian for disowninghisfriendas long as he was within hearing. When Viola heardherselfcalled Sebastianthough the stranger was taken away toohastilyfor her to ask an explanationshe conjectured that thisseemingmystery might arise from her being mistaken for herbrotherand she began to cherish hopes that it was her brotherwhose lifethis man said he had preserved. And so indeed it was.Thestrangerwhose name was Antoniowas a sea-captain. He hadtakenSebastian up into his ship whenalmost exhausted withfatiguehe was floating on the mast to which he had fastenedhimself inthe storm. Antonio conceived such a friendship forSebastianthat he resolved to accompany him whithersoever hewent; andwhen the youth expressed a curiosity to visit Orsino'scourtAntoniorather than part from himcame to Illyriathough heknewif his person should be known therehis lifewould bein dangerbecause in a sea-fight he had oncedangerouslywounded the Duke Orsino's nephew. This was theoffensefor which he was now made a prisoner.
Antonioand Sebastian had landed together but a few hours beforeAntoniomet Viola. He had given his purse to Sebastiandesiringhim to useit freely if he saw anything he wished to purchasetellinghim he would wait at the inn while Sebastian went to viewthe town;butSebastian not returning at the time appointedAntoniohad ventured out to look for himandpriest made Orsinobelievethat his page had robbed him of the treasure he prizedabove hislife. But thinking that it was past recallhe wasbiddingfarewell to his faithless mistressand the YOUNGDISSEMBLERher husbandas he called Violawarning her never tocome inhis sight againwhen (as it seemed to them) a miracleappeared!for another Cesario enteredand addressed Olivia ashis wife.This new Cesario was Sebastianthe real husband ofOlivia;and when their wonder had a little ceased at seeing twopersonswith the same facethe same voiceand the same habitthebrother and sister began to question each other; for Violacouldscarce be persuaded that her brother was livingandSebastianknew not how to account for the sister he supposeddrownedbeing found in the habit of a young man. But Violapresentlyacknowledged that she was indeed Violaand his sisterunder thatdisguise.
When allthe errors were cleared up which the extreme likenessbetweenthis brother and sister had occasionedthey laughed atthe LadyOlivia for the pleasant mistake she had made in fallingin lovewith a woman; and Olivia showed no dislike to herexchangewhen she found she had wedded the brother instead ofthesister.
The hopesof Orsino were forever at an end by this marriage ofOliviaand with his hopesall his fruitless love seemed tovanishawayand all his thoughts were fixed on the event of hisfavoriteyoung Cesariobeing changed into a fair lady. HeviewedViola with great attentionand he remembered how veryhandsomehe had always thought Cesario wasand he concluded shewould lookvery beautiful in a woman's attire; and then herememberedhow often she had said SHE LOVED HIMwhich at thetimeseemed only the dutiful expressions of a faithful page; butnow heguessed that something more was meantfor many of herprettysayingswhich were like riddles to himcame now into hismindandhe no sooner remembered all these things than heresolvedto make Viola his wife; and he said to her (he stillcould nothelp calling her CESARIO and BOY):
"Boyyou have said to me a thousand times that you should neverlove awoman like to meand for the faithful service you havedone forme so much beneath your soft and tender breedingandsince youhave called me master so longyou shall now be yourmaster'smistressand Orsino's true duchess."
Oliviaperceiving Orsino was making over that heartwhich shehad soungraciously rejectedto Violainvited them to enter herhouse andoffered the assistance of the good priest who hadmarriedher to Sebastian in the morning to perform the sameceremonyin the remaining part of the day for Orsino and Viola.Thus thetwin brother and sister were both wedded on the samedaythestorm and shipwreck which had separated them being themeans ofbringing to pass their high and mighty fortunes.Violawas thewife of Orsinothe Duke of Illyriaand Sebastian thehusband ofthe rich and noble countessthe Lady Olivia.
Timonalord of Athensin the enjoyment of a princely fortuneaffected ahumor of liberality which knew no limits. His almostinfinitewealth could not flow in so fast but he poured it outfasterupon all sorts and degrees of people. Not the poor onlytasted ofhis bountybut great lords did not disdain to rankthemselvesamong his dependents and followers. His table wasresortedto by all the luxurious feastersand his house was opento allcomers and goers at Athens. His large wealth combined withhis freeand prodigal nature to subdue all hearts to his love;men of allminds and dispositions tendered their services to LordTimonfrom the glass-faced flatterer whose face reflects as in amirror thepresent humor of his patronto the rough andunbendingcynic whoaffecting a contempt of men's persons and anindifferenceto worldly thingsyet could not stand out againstthegracious manners and munificent soul of Lord Timonbut wouldcome(against his nature) to partake of his royal entertainmentsand returnmost rich in his own estimation if he had received anod or asalutation from Timon.
If a poethad composed a work which wanted a recommendatoryintroductionto the worldhe had no more to do but to dedicateit to LordTimonand the poem was sure of salebesides apresentpurse from the patronand daily access to his house andtable. Ifa painter had a picture to dispose of he had only totake it toLord Timon and pretend to consult his taste as to themerits ofit; nothing more was wanting to persuade the liberal-heartedlord to buy it. If a jeweler had a stone of priceor amercerrichcostly stuffswhich for their costliness lay uponhis handsLord Timon's house was a ready mart always openwherethey mightget off their wares or their jewelry at any priceandthegood-natured lord would thank them into the bargainas ifthey haddone him a piece of courtesy in letting him have therefusal ofsuch precious commodities. So that by this means hishouse wasthronged with superfluous purchasesof no use but toswelluneasy and ostentatious pomp; and his person was still moreinconvenientlybeset with a crowd of these idle visitorslyingpoetspainterssharking tradesmenlordsladiesneedycourtiersand expectantswho continually filled his lobbiesrainingtheir fulsome flatteries in whispers in his earssacrificingto him with adulation as to a Godmaking sacred theverystirrup by which he mounted his horseand seeming as thoughthey drankthe free air but through his permission and bounty.
Some ofthese daily dependents were young men of birth who (theirmeans notanswering to their extravagance) had been put in prisonbycreditors and redeemed thence by Lord Timon; these youngprodigalsthenceforward fastened upon his lordshipas if bycommonsympathy he were necessarily endeared to all suchspendthriftsand loose liverswhonot being able to follow himin hiswealthfound it easier to copy him in prodigality andcopiousspending of what was their own. One of these flesh-flieswasVentidiusfor whose debtsunjustly contractedTimon butlately hadpaid down the sum of five talents.
But amongthis confluencethis great flood of visitorsnonewere moreconspicuous than the makers of presents and givers ofgifts. Itwas fortunate for these men if Timon took a fancy to adog or ahorseor any piece of cheap furniture which was theirs.The thingso praisedwhatever it waswas sure to be sent thenextmorning with the compliments of the giver for Lord Timon'sacceptanceand apologies for the unworthiness of the gift; andthis dogor horseor whatever it might bedid not fail toproducefrom Timon's bountywho would not be outdone in giftsperhapstwenty dogs or horsescertainly presents of far richerworthasthese pretended donors knew well enoughand that theirfalsepresents were but the putting out of so much money at largeand speedyinterest. In this way Lord Lucius had lately sent toTimon apresent of four milk-white horsestrapped in silverwhich thiscunning lord had observed Timon upon some occasion tocommend;and another lordLucullushad bestowed upon him in thesamepretended way of free gift a brace of greyhounds whose makeandfleetness Timon had been heard to admire; these presents theeasy-heartedlord accepted without suspicion of the dishonestviews ofthe presenters; and the givers of course were rewardedwith somerich returna diamond or some jewel of twenty timesthe valueof their false and mercenary donation.
Sometimesthese creatures would go to work in a more direct wayand withgross and palpable artificewhich yet the credulousTimon wastoo blind to seewould affect to admire and praisesomethingthat Timon possesseda bargain that he had boughtorsome latepurchasewhich was sure to draw from this yielding andsoft-heartedlord a gift of the thing commendedfor no servicein theworld done for it but the easy expense of a little cheapandobvious flattery. In this way Timon but the other day hadgiven toone of these mean lords the bay courser which he himselfrode uponbecause his lordship had been pleased to say that itwas ahandsome beast and went well; and Timon knew that no maneverjustly praised what he did not wish to possess. For LordTimonweighed his friends' affection with his ownand so fondwas he ofbestowingthat be could have dealt kingdoms to thesesupposedfriends and never have been weary.
Not thatTimon's wealth all went to enrich these wickedflatterers;he could do noble and praiseworthy actions; and whena servantof his once loved the daughter of a rich Athenianbutcould nothope to obtain her by reason that in wealth and rankthe maidwas so far above himLord Timon freely bestowed uponhisservant three Athenian talentsto make his fortune equalwith thedowry which the father of the young maid demanded of himwho shouldbe her husband. But for the most partknaves andparasiteshad the command of his fortunefalse friends whom hedid notknow to be suchbutbecause they flocked around hispersonhethought they must needs love him; and because theysmiled andflattered himhe thought surely that his conduct wasapprovedby all the wise and good. And when be was feasting inthe midstof all these flatterers and mock friendswhen theywereeating him up and draining his fortunes dry with largedraughtsof richest wines drunk to his health and prosperitybecould notperceive the difference of a friend from a flattererbut to hisdeluded eyes (made proud with the sight) it seemed apreciouscomfort to have so many like brothers commanding oneanother'sfortunes (though it was his own fortune which paid allthecosts)and with joy they would run over at the spectacle ofsuchasit appeared to himtruly festive and fraternal meeting.
But whilehe thus outwent the very heart of kindnessand pouredout hisbountyas if Plutusthe god of goldhad been but hissteward;while thus he proceeded without care or stopsosenselessof expense that he would neither inquire how he couldmaintainit nor cease his wild flow of riot--his richeswhichwere notinfinitemust needs melt away before a prodigalitywhich knewno limits. But who should tell him so? His flatterers?They hadan interest in shutting his eyes. In vain did his honeststewardFlavius try to represent to him his conditionlaying hisaccountsbefore himbegging of himpraying of himwith animportunitythat on any other occasion would have been unmannerlyin aservantbeseeching him with tears to look into the state ofhisaffairs. Timon would still put him offand turn thediscourseto something else; for nothing is so deaf toremonstranceas riches turned to povertynothing is so unwillingto believeits situationnothing so incredulous to its own truestateandhard to give credit to a reverse. Often had this goodstewardthis honest creaturewhen all the rooms of Timon'sgreathouse had been choked up with riotous feeders at hismaster'scostwhen the floors have wept with drunken spilling ofwineandevery apartment has blazed with lights and resoundedwith musicand feastingoften had he retired by himself to somesolitaryspotand wept faster than the wine ran from thewastefulcasks withinto see the mad bounty of his lordand tothinkwhen the means were gone which brought him praises fromall sortsof peoplehow quickly the breath would be gone ofwhich thepraise was made; praises won in feasting would be lostinfastingand at one cloud of winter-showers these flies woulddisappear.
But nowthe time was come that Timon could shut his ears nolonger tothe representations of this faithful steward. Moneymust behad; and when he ordered Flavius to sell some of his landfor thatpurposeFlavius informed himwhat he had in vainendeavoredat several times before to make him listen tothatmost ofhis land was already sold or forfeitedand that all hepossessedat present was not enough to pay the one-half of whathe owed.Struck with wonder at this presentationTimon hastilyreplied:
"Mylands extend from Athens to Lacedoemon."
"O mygood lord" said Flavius"the world is but a worldandhasbounds. Were it all yours to give in a breathhow quicklywere itgone!"
Timonconsoled himself that no villainous bounty had yet comefrom himthat if he had given his wealth away unwiselyit hadnot beenbestowed to feed his vicesbut to cherish his friends;and hebade the kind-hearted steward (who was weeping) to takecomfort inthe assurance that his master could never lack meanswhile hehad so many noble friends; and this infatuated lordpersuadedhimself that he had nothing to do but to send andborrowtouse every man's fortune (that had ever tasted hisbounty) inthis extremityas freely as his own. Then with acheerfullookas if confident of the trialhe severallydespatchedmessengers to Lord Luciusto Lords Lucullus andSemproniusmen upon whom he had lavished his gifts in past timeswithoutmeasure or moderation; and to Ventidiuswhom he hadlatelyreleased out of prison by paying his debtsand whobythe deathof his fatherwas now come into the possession of anamplefortune and well enabled to requite Timon's courtesy; torequest ofVentidius the return of those five talents which hehad paidfor himand of each of those noble lords the loanof fiftytalents; nothing doubting that their gratitude wouldsupply hiswants (if he needed it) to the amount of five hundredtimesfifty talents.
Luculluswas the first applied to. This mean lord had beendreamingovernight of a silver bason and cupand when Timon'sservantwas announced his sordid mind suggested to him that thiswas surelya making out of his dreamand that Timon had sent himsuch apresent. But when he understood the truth of the matterand thatTimon wanted moneythe quality of his faint andwateryfriendship showed itselffor with many protestations hevowed tothe servant that he had long foreseen the ruin of hismaster'saffairsand many a time had he come to dinner to tellhim of itand had come again to supper to try to persuade him tospendlessbut he would take no counsel nor warning by hiscoming.And true it was that he had been a constant attender (ashe said)at Timon's feastsas he had in greater things tastedhisbounty; but that he ever came with that intentor gave goodcounsel orreproof to Timonwas a baseunworthy liewhich hesuitablyfollowed up with meanly offering the servant a bribe togo home tohis master and tell him that be had not found Lucullusat home.
As littlesuccess had the messenger who was sent to Lord Lucius.This lyinglordwho was full of Timon's meat and enriched almosttobursting with Timon's costly presentswhen he found the windchangedand the fountain of so much bounty suddenly stoppedatfirstcould hardly believe it; but on its being confirmed heaffectedgreat regret that he should not have it in his power toserve LordTimonforunfortunately (which was a basefalsehood)he had made a great purchase the day beforewhichhad quitedisfurnished him of the means at presentthe morebeast hehe called himselfto put it out of his power to serveso good afriend; and he counted it one of his greatestafflictionsthat his ability should fail him to pleasure such anhonorablegentleman.
Who cancall any man friend that dips in the same dish with him?Just ofthis metal is every flatterer. In the recollection ofeverybodyTimon had been a father to this Luciushad kept up hiscreditwith his purse; Timon's money had gone to pay the wages ofhisservantsto pay the hire of the laborers who had sweat tobuild thefine houses which Lucius's pride had made necessary tohim.Yet---ohthe monster which man makes himself when he provesungrateful!--thisLucius now denied to Timon a sum whichinrespect ofwhat Timon had bestowed on himwas less thancharitablemen afford to beggars.
Semproniusand every one of these mercenary lords to whom Timonapplied intheir turnreturned the same evasive answer or directdenial;even Ventidiusthe redeemed and now rich Ventidiusrefused toassist him with the loan of those five talents whichTimon hadnot lent but generously given him in his distress.
Now wasTimon as much avoided in his poverty as he had beencourtedand resorted to in his riches. Now the same tongues whichhad beenloudest in his praisesextolling him as bountifulliberaland open-handedwere not ashamed to censure that verybounty asfollythat liberality as profusenessthough it hadshownitself folly in nothing so truly as in the selection ofsuchunworthy creatures as themselves for its objects. Now wasTimon'sprincely mansion forsaken and become a shunned and hatedplaceaplace for men to pass bynot a placeas formerlywhereevery passenger must stop and taste of his wine and goodcheer;nowinstead of being thronged with feasting andtumultuousguestsit was beset with impatient and clamorouscreditorsusurersextortionersfierce and intolerable in theirdemandspleading bondsinterestmortgages; iron-hearted menthat wouldtake no denial nor putting offthat Timon's house wasnow hisjailwhich he could not passnor go in nor out forthem; onedemanding his due of fifty talentsanother bringing ina bill offive thousand crownswhichif he would tell out hisblood bydrops and pay them sohe had not enough in his body todischargedrop by drop.
In thisdesperate and irremediable state (as it seemed) of hisaffairsthe eyes of all men were suddenly surprised at a new andincredibleluster which this setting sun put forth. Once moreLord Timonproclaimed a feastto which he invited his accustomedguests--lordsladiesall that was great or fashionable inAthens.Lord Lucius and Lucullus cameVentidiusSemproniusandthe rest.Who more sorry now than these fawning wretcheswhenthey found(as they thought) that Lord Timon's poverty was allpretenseand had been only put on to make trial of their lovesto thinkthat they should not have seen through the artifice atthe timeand have had the cheap credit of obliging his lordship?Yet whomore glad to find the fountain of that noble bounty whichthey hadthought dried upstill fresh and running? They camedissemblingprotestingexpressing deepest sorrow and shamethat whenhis lordship sent to them they should have been sounfortunateas to want the present means to oblige so honorable afriend.But Timon begged them not to give such trifles a thoughtfor he hadaltogether forgotten it. And these basefawninglordsthough they had denied him money in his adversityyetcould notrefuse their presence at this new blaze of hisreturningprosperity. For the swallow follows not summer morewillinglythan men of these dispositions follow the good fortunesof thegreatnor more willingly leaves winter than these shrinkfrom thefirst appearance of a reverse. Such summer birds aremen. Butnow with music and state the banquet of smoking disheswas servedup; and when the guests had a little done admiringwhence thebankrupt Timon could find means to furnish so costly afeastsome doubting whether the scene which they saw was realas scarcetrusting their own eyesat a signal given the disheswereuncovered and Timon's drift appeared. Instead of thosevarietiesand far-fetched dainties which they expectedthatTimon'sepicurean table in past times had so liberally presentednowappeared under the covers of these dishes a preparation moresuitableto Timon's poverty--nothing but a little smoke andlukewarmwaterfit feast for this knot of mouth-friendswhoseprofessionswere indeed smokeand their hearts lukewarm andslipperyas the water with which Timon welcomed his astonishedguestsbidding them"Uncoverdogsand lap;" andbefore theycouldrecover their surprisesprinkling it in their facesthatthey mighthave enoughand throwing dishes and all after themwho nowran huddling outlordsladieswith their caps snatchedup inhastea splendid confusionTimon pursuing themstillcallingthem what they were"smooth smiling parasitesdestroyersunder the mask of courtesyaffable wolvesmeekbearsfools of fortunefeast-friendstime-flies." Theycrowdingout to avoid himleft the house more willinglythan theyhad entered it; some losing their gowns and capsandsome theirjewels in the hurryall glad to escape out of thepresenceof such a mad lordand from the ridicule of his mockbanquet.
This wasthe last feast which ever Timon madeand in it he tookfarewellof Athens and the society of men; forafter thathebetookhimself to the woodsturning his back upon the hatedcity andupon all mankindwishing the walls of that detestablecity mightsinkand the houses fall upon their ownerswishingallplagues which infest humanity--waroutragepovertydiseases--mightfasten upon its inhabitantspraying the justgods toconfound all Atheniansboth young and oldhigh and low;sowishinghe went to the woodswhere he said he should findtheunkindest beast much kinder than mankind. He stripped himselfnakedthat he might retain no fashion of a manand dug a caveto liveinand lived solitary in the manner of a beasteatingthe wildroots and drinking waterflying from the face of hiskindandchoosing rather to herd with wild beastsas moreharmlessand friendly than man.
What achange from Lord Timon the richLord Timon the delight ofmankindto Timon the nakedTimon the man-hater! Where were hisflatterersnow? Where were his attendants and retinue? Would thebleak airthat boisterous servitorbe his chamberlainto puthis shirton warm? Would those stiff trees that had outlived theeagle turnyoung and airy pages to himto skip on his errandswhen hebade them? Would the cool brookwhen it was iced withwinteradminister to him his warm broths and caudles when sickof anovernight's surfeit? Or would the creatures that lived inthose wildwoods come and lick his hand and flatter him?
Here on adaywhen he was digging for rootshis poorsustenancehis spade struck against something heavywhichproved tobe golda great heap which some miser had probablyburied ina time of alarmthinking to have come again and takenit fromits prisonbut died before the opportunity had arrivedwithoutmaking any man privy to the concealment; so it laydoingneithergood nor harmin the bowels of the earthits motherasif it hadnever come thencetill the accidental striking ofTimon'sspade against it once more brought it to light.
Here was amass of treasure whichif Timon had retained his oldmindwasenough to have purchased him friends and flatterersagain; butTimon was sick of the false world and the sight ofgold waspoisonous to his eyes; and he would have restored it tothe earthbut thatthinking of the infinite calamities which bymeans ofgold happen to mankindhow the lucre of it causesrobberiesoppressioninjusticebriberiesviolenceandmurderamong menhe had a pleasure in imagining (such a rootedhatred didhe bear to his species) that out of this heapwhichin digginghe had discoveredmight arise some mischief to plaguemankind.And some soldiers passing through the woods near to hiscave atthat instantwhich proved to be a part of the troops oftheAthenian captain Alcibiadeswhoupon some disgust takenagainstthe senators of Athens (the Athenians were ever noted tobe athankless and ungrateful peoplegiving disgust to theirgeneralsand best friends)was marching at the head of the sametriumphantarmy which he had formerly headed in their defensetowaragainst them. Timonwho liked their business wellbestowedupon theircaptain the gold to pay his soldiersrequiring nootherservice from him than that he should with his conqueringarmy layAthens level with the groundand burnslaykill allherinhabitants; not sparing the old men for their white beardsfor (hesaid) they were usurersnor the young children for theirseeminginnocent smilesfor those (he said) would liveif theygrew upto be traitors; but to steel his eyes and ears againstany sightsor sounds that might awaken compassion; and not to letthe criesof virginsbabesor mothers hinder him from makingoneuniversal massacre of the citybut to confound them all inhisconquest; and when he had conqueredhe prayed that the godswouldconfound him alsothe conqueror. So thoroughly did TimonhateAthensAtheniansand all mankind.
While helived in this forlorn stateleading a life more brutalthanhumanhe was suddenly surprised one day with the appearanceof a manstanding in an admiring posture at the door of hiscave. Itwas Flaviusthe honest stewardwhom love and zealousaffectionto his master had led to seek him out at his wretcheddwellingand to offer his services; and the first sight of hismasterthe once noble Timonin that abject conditionnaked ashe wasbornliving in the manner of a beast among beastslookinglike his own sad ruins and a monument of decaysoaffectedthis good servant that he stood speechlesswrapped upin horrorand confounded. And when he found utterance at last tohis wordsthey were so choked with tears that Timon had much adoto knowhim againor to make out who it was that had come (socontraryto the experience he had had of mankind) to offer himservice inextremity. And being in the form and shape of a manhesuspected him for a traitorand his tears for false; but thegoodservant by so many tokens confirmed the truth of hisfidelityand made it clear that nothing but love and zealousduty tohis once dear master had brought him therethat Timonwas forcedto confess that the world contained one honest man;yetbeingin the shape and form of a manbe could not look uponhis man'sface without abhorrenceor hear words uttered from hisman's lipswithout loathing; and this singly honest man wasforced todepartbecause he was a manand becausewith a heartmoregentle and compassionate than is usual to manhe bore man'sdetestedform and outward feature.
Butgreater visitants than a poor steward were about to interruptthe savagequiet of Timon's solitude. For now the day was comewhen theungrateful lords of Athens sorely repented the injusticewhich theyhad done to the noble Timon. For Alcibiadeslike anincensedwild boarwas raging at the walls of their cityandwith hishot siege threatened to lay fair Athens in the dust. Andnow thememory of Lord Timon's former prowess and militaryconductcame fresh into their forgetful mindsfor Timon had beentheirgeneral in past timesand a valiant and expert soldierwho aloneof all the Athenians was deemed able to cope with abesiegingarmy such as then threatened themor to drive back thefuriousapproaches of Alcibiades.
Adeputation of the senators was chosen in this emergency to waituponTimon. To him they come in their extremityto whomwhen hewas inextremitythey had shown but small regard; as if theypresumedupon his gratitude whom they had disobligedand hadderived aclaim to his courtesy from their own most discourteousandunpiteous treatment.
Now theyearnestly beseech himimplore him with tearsto returnand savethat city from which their ingratitude had so latelydrivenhim; now they offer him richespowerdignitiessatisfactionfor past injuriesand public honorsand the publiclove;their personslivesand fortunes to be at his disposalif he willbut come back and save them. But Timon the nakedTimon theman-haterwas no longer Lord Timonthe lord ofbountythe flower of valortheir defense in wartheir ornamentin peace.If Alcibiades killed his countrymenTimon cared not.If hesacked fair Athensand slew her old men and her infantsTimonwould rejoice. So he told them; and that there was not aknife inthe unruly camp which he did not prize above thereverendestthroat in Athens.
This wasall the answer he vouchsafed to the weepingdisappointedsenators; only at parting he bade them commend himto hiscountrymenand tell them that to ease them of theirgriefs andanxietiesand to prevent the consequences of fierceAlcibiades'swraththere was yet a way leftwhich he wouldteachthemfor he had yet so much affection left for his dearcountrymenas to be willing to do them a kindness before hisdeath.These words a little revived the senatorswho hoped thathiskindness for their city was returning. Then Timon told themthat hehad a treewhich grew near his cavewhich he shouldshortlyhave occasion to cut downand he invited all his friendsin Athenshigh or lowof whatsoever degreewho wished to shunafflictionto come and take a taste of his tree before he cut itdown;meaning that they might come and hang themselves on it andescapeaffliction that way.
And thiswas the last courtesyof all his noble bountieswhichTimonshowed to mankindand this the last sight of him which hiscountrymenhadfor not many days aftera poor soldierpassingby thesea-beach which was at a little distance from the woodswhichTimon frequentedfound a tomb on the verge of the seawith aninscription upon it purporting that it was the grave ofTimon theman-haterwho "While he liveddid hate all livingmenanddyingwished a plague might consume all caitiffsleft!"
Whether hefinished his life by violenceor whether meredistasteof life and the loathing he had for mankind broughtTimon tohis conclusionwas not clearyet all men admired thefitness ofhis epitaph and the consistency of his enddyingashe hadliveda hater of mankind. And some there were who fancieda conceitin the very choice which he had made of the sea-beachfor hisplace of burialwhere the vast sea might weep foreverupon hisgraveas in contempt of the transient and shallow tearsofhypocritical and deceitful mankind.
The twochief families in Verona were the rich Capulets and theMontagues.There had been an old quarrel between these familieswhich wasgrown to such a heightand so deadly was the enmitybetweenthemthat it extended to the remotest kindredto thefollowersand retainers of both sidesin so much that a servantof thehouse of Montague could not meet a servant of the house ofCapuletnor a Capulet encounter with a Montague by chancebutfiercewords and sometimes bloodshed ensued; and frequent werethe brawlsfrom such accidental meetingswhich disturbed thehappyquiet of Verona's streets.
Old LordCapulet made a great supperto which many fair ladiesand manynoble guests were invited. All the admired beauties ofVeronawere presentand all comers were made welcome if theywere notof the house of Montague. At this feast of CapuletsRosalinebeloved of Romeoson to the old Lord Montaguewaspresent;and though it was dangerous for a Montague to be seen inthisassemblyyet Benvolioa friend of Romeopersuaded theyoung lordto go to this assembly in the disguise of a maskthathe mightsee his Rosalineandseeing hercompare her with somechoicebeauties of Veronawho (he said) would make him think hisswan acrow. Romeo had small faith in Benvolio's words;neverthelessfor the love of Rosalinehe was persuaded to go.For Romeowas a sincere and passionate loverand one that losthis sleepfor love and fled society to be alonethinking onRosalinewho disdained him and never requited his love with theleast showof courtesy or affection; and Benvolio wished to curehis friendof this love by showing him diversity of ladies andcompany.To this feast of Capuletsthenyoung RomeowithBenvolioand their friend Mercutiowent masked. Old Capulet bidthemwelcome and told them that ladies who had their toesunplaguedwith corns would dance with them. And the old man waslight-heartedand merryand said that he had worn a mask when hewas youngand could have told a whispering tale in a fair lady'sear. Andthey fell to dancingand Romeo was suddenly struck withtheexceeding beauty of a lady who danced therewho seemed tohim toteach the torches to burn brightand her beauty to showby nightlike a rich jewel worn by a blackamoor; beauty too richfor usetoo dear for earth! like a snowy dove trooping withcrows (hesaid)so richly did her beauty and perfections shineabove theladies her companions. While he uttered these praiseshe wasoverheard by Tybalta nephew of Lord Capuletwho knewhim by hisvoice to be Romeo. And this Tybaltbeing of a fieryandpassionate tempercould not endure that a Montague shouldcome undercover of a maskto fleer and scorn (as he said) attheirsolemnities. And he stormed and raged exceedinglyandwould havestruck young Romeo dead. But his unclethe old LordCapuletwould not suffer him to do any injury at that timebothout ofrespect to his guests and because Romeo had borne himselflike agentleman and all tongues in Verona bragged of him to be avirtuousand well-governed youth. Tybaltforced to be patientagainsthis willrestrained himselfbut swore that this vileMontagueshould at another time dearly pay for his intrusion.
Thedancing being doneRomeo watched the place where the ladystood; andunder favor of his masking habitwhich might seem toexcuse inpart the libertyhe presumed in the gentlest manner totake herby the handcalling it a shrinewhich if he profanedbytouching ithe was a blushing pilgrim and would kiss it foratonement.
"Goodpilgrim" answered the lady"your devotion shows by fartoomannerly and too courtly. Saints have hands which pilgrimsmay touchbut kiss not."
"Havenot saints lipsand pilgrimstoo?" said Romeo.
"Aye"said the lady"lips which they must use in prayer."
"Ohthenmy dear saint" said Romeo"hear my prayerandgrantitlest Idespair."
In suchlike allusions and loving conceits they were engaged whenthe ladywas called away to her mother. And Romeoinquiring whoher motherwasdiscovered that the lady whose peerless beauty hewas somuch struck with was young Julietdaughter and heir tothe LordCapuletthe great enemy of the Montagues; and that hehadunknowingly engaged his heart to his foe. This troubled himbut itcould not dissuade him from loving. As little rest hadJulietwhen she found that the gentle man that she had beentalkingwith was Romeo and a Montaguefor she had been suddenlysmit withthe same hasty and inconsiderate passion for Romeowhich hehad conceived for her; and a prodigious birth of love itseemed toherthat she must love her enemy and that heraffectionsshould settle therewhere family considerationsshouldinduce her chiefly to hate.
It beingmidnightRomeo with his companions departed; but theysoonmissed himforunable to stay away from the house where hehad lefthis hearthe leaped the wall of an orchard which was atthe backof Juliet's house. Here he had not been longruminatingon his newlovewhen Juliet appeared above at a windowthroughwhich herexceeding beauty seemed to break like the light of thesun in theeast; and the moonwhich shone in the orchard with afaintlightappeared to Romeo as if sick and pale with grief atthesuperior luster of this new sun. And she leaning her cheekupon herhandhe passionately wished himself a glove upon thathandthathe might touch her cheek. She all this while thinkingherselfalonefetched a deep sighand exclaimed:
Romeoenraptured to bear her speaksaidsoftly and unheard byher"Ohspeak againbright angelfor such you appearbeingover myheadlike a winged messenger from heaven whom mortalsfall backto gaze upon."
Sheunconscious of being overheardand full of the new passionwhich thatnight's adventure had given birth tocalled upon herlover byname (whom she supposed absent). "O RomeoRomeo!" saidshe"wherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thynameformy sake; or if thou wilt notbe but my sworn loveandI nolonger will be a Capulet."
Romeohaving this encouragementwould fain have spokenbut hewasdesirous of hearing more; and the lady continued herpassionatediscourse with herself (as she thought)still chidingRomeo forbeing Romeo and a Montagueand wishing him some othernameorthat he would put away that hated nameand for thatname whichwas no part of himself he should take all herself. Atthisloving word Romeo could no longer refrainbuttaking upthedialogue as if her words had been addressed to himpersonallyand not merely in fancyhe bade her call him Loveor bywhatever other name she pleasedfor he was no longerRomeoifthat name was displeasing to her. Julietalarmed tohear aman's voice in the gardendid not at first know who itwas thatby favor of the night and darkness had thus stumbledupon thediscovery of her secret; but when he spoke againthoughher earshad not yet drunk a hundred words of that tongue'sutteringyet so nice is a lover's hearing that she immediatelyknew himto be young Romeoand she expostulated with him on thedanger towhich he had exposed himself by climbing the orchardwallsforif any of her kinsmen should find him there it wouldbe deathto himbeing a Montague.
"Alack!"said Romeo"there is more peril in your eye than intwenty oftheir swords. Do you but look kind upon meladyand Iam proofagainst their enmity. Better my life should be ended bytheir hatethan that hated life should be prolonged to livewithoutyour love."
"Howcame you into this place" said Juliet"and by whosedirection?"
"Lovedirected me" answered Romeo. "I am no pilotyet 'wertthou asfar apart from me as that vast shore which is washed withthefarthest seaI should venture for such merchandise."
A crimsonblush came over Juliet's faceyet unseen by Romeo byreason ofthe nightwhen she reflected upon the discovery whichshe hadmadeyet not meaning to make itof her love to Romeo.She wouldfain have recalled her wordsbut that was impossible;fain wouldshe have stood upon formand have kept her lover at adistanceas the custom of discreet ladies isto frown and beperverseand give their suitors harsh denials at first; to standoffandaffect a coyness or indifference where they most lovethat theirlovers may not think them too lightly or too easilywon; forthe difficulty of attainment increases the value of theobject.But there was no room in her case for denialsorputtingsoffor any of the customary arts of delay andprotractedcourtship. Romeo had heard from her own tonguewhenshe didnot dream that he was near hera confession of her love.So with anhonest frankness which the novelty of her situationexcusedshe confirmed the truth of what he had before heardandaddressinghim by the name of FAIR MONTAGUE (love can sweeten asourname)she begged him not to impute her easy yielding tolevity oran unworthy mindbut that he must lay the fault of it(if itwere a fault) upon the accident of the night which had sostrangelydiscovered her thoughts. And she addedthat though herbehaviorto him might not be sufficiently prudentmeasured bythe customof her sexyet that she would prove more true thanmany whoseprudence was dissemblingand their modesty artificialcunning.
Romeo wasbeginning to call the heavens to witness that nothingwasfarther from his thoughts than to impute a shadow of dishonorto such anhonored ladywhen she stopped himbegging him not toswear; foralthough she joyed in himyet she had no joy of thatnight'scontract--it was too rashtoo unadvisedtoo sudden. Buthe beingurgent with her to exchange a vow of love with him thatnightshesaid that she already had given him hers before herequesteditmeaningwhen he overheard her confession; but shewouldretract what she then bestowedfor the pleasure of givingit againfor her bounty was as infinite as the seaand her loveas deep.From this loving conference she was called away by hernursewhoslept with her and thought it time for her to be inbedforit was near to daybreak; buthastily returningshesaid threeor four words more to Romeo the purport of which wasthat ifhis love was indeed honorableand his purpose marriageshe wouldsend a messenger to him to-morrow to appoint a time fortheirmarriagewhen she would lay all her fortunes at his feetand followhim as her lord through the world. While they weresettlingthis point Juliet was repeatedly called for by hernurseandwent in and returnedand went and returned againforshe seemedas jealous of Romeo going from her as a young girl ofher birdwhich she will let hop a little from her hand and pluckit backwith a silken thread; and Romeo was as loath to part assheforthe sweetest music to lovers is the sound of eachother'stongues at night. But at last they partedwishingmutuallysweet sleep and rest for that night.
The daywas breaking when they partedand Romeowho was toofull ofthoughts of his mistress and that blessed meeting toallow himto sleepinstead of going homebent his course to amonasteryhard byto find Friar Lawrence. The good friar wasalready upat his devotionsbutseeing young Romeo abroad soearlyheconjectured rightly that he had not been abed thatnightbutthat some distemper of youthful affection had kept himwaking. Hewas right in imputing the cause of Romeo's wakefulnessto lovebut he made a wrong guess at the objectfor he thoughtthat hislove for Rosaline had kept him waking. But when Romeorevealedhis new passion for Julietand requested the assistanceof thefriar to marry them that daythe holy man lifted up hiseyes andhands in a sort of wonder at the sudden change inRomeo'saffectionsfor he had been privy to all Romeo's love forRosalineand his many complaints of her disdain; and he said thatyoungmen's love lay not truly in their heartsbut in theireyes. ButRomeo replying that he himself had often chidden himfor dotingon Rosalinewho could not love him againwhereasJulietboth loved and was beloved by himthe friar assented insomemeasure to his reasons; and thinking that a matrimonialalliancebetween young Juliet and Romeo might happily be themeans ofmaking up the long breach between the Capulets and theMontagueswhich no one more lamented than this good friar whowas afriend to both the families and had often interposed hismediationto make up the quarrel without effect; partly moved bypolicyand partly by his fondness for young Romeoto whom hecould denynothingthe old man consented to join their hands inmarriage.
Now wasRomeo blessed indeedand Julietwho knew his intentfrom amessenger which she had despatched according to promisedid notfail to be early at the cell of Friar Lawrencewheretheirhands were joined in holy marriagethe good friar prayingtheheavens to smile upon that actand in the union of thisyoungMontague and young Capuletto bury the old strife and longdissensionsof their families.
Theceremony being overJuliet hastened homewhere she stayedimpatientfor the coming of nightat which time Romeo promisedto comeand meet her in the orchardwhere they had met the nightbefore;and the time between seemed as tedious to her as thenightbefore some great festival seems to an impatient child thathas gotnew finery which it may not put on till the morning.
That samedayabout noonRomeo's friendsBenvolio andMercutiowalking through the streets of Veronawere met by aparty ofthe Capulets with the impetuous Tybalt at their head.This wasthe same angry Tybalt who would have fought with Romeoat oldLord Capulet's feast. Heseeing Mercutioaccused himbluntly ofassociating with Romeoa Montague. Mercutiowho hadas muchfire and youthful blood in him as Tybaltreplied to thisaccusationwith some sharpness; and in spite of all Benvoliocould sayto moderate their wrath a quarrel was beginning whenRomeohimself passing that waythe fierce Tybalt turned fromMercutioto Romeoand gave him the disgraceful appellation ofvillain.Romeo wished to avoid a quarrel with Tybalt above allmenbecause he was the kinsman of Juliet and much beloved byher;besidesthis young Montague had never thoroughly enteredinto thefamily quarrelbeing by nature wise and gentleand thename of aCapuletwhich was his dear lady's namewas now rathera charm toallay resentment than a watchword to excite fury. Sohe triedto reason with Tybaltwhom he saluted mildly by thename ofGOOD CAPULETas if hethough a Montaguehad somesecretpleasure in uttering that name; but Tybaltwho hated allMontaguesas he hated hellwould hear no reasonbut drew hisweapon;and Mercutiowho knew not of Romeo's secret motive fordesiringpeace with Tybaltbut looked upon his presentforbearanceas a sort of calm dishonorable submissionwith manydisdainfulwords provoked Tybalt to the prosecution of his firstquarrelwith him; and Tybalt and Mercutio foughttill Mercutiofellreceiving his death's wound while Romeo and Benvolio werevainlyendeavoring to part the combatants. Mercutio being deadRomeo kepthis temper no longerbut returned the scornfulappellationof villain which Tybalt had given himand theyfoughttill Tybalt was slain by Romeo. This deadly broil fallingout in themidst of Verona at noondaythe news of it quicklybrought acrowd of citizens to the spot and among them the LordsCapuletand Montaguewith their wives; and soon after arrivedthe princehimselfwhobeing related to Mercutiowhom Tybalthad slainand having had the peace of his government oftendisturbedby these brawls of Montagues and Capuletscamedeterminedto put the law in strictest force against those whoshould befound to be offenders. Benvoliowho had beeneye-witnessto the fraywas commanded by the prince to relatethe originof it; which he didkeeping as near the truth as hecouldwithout injury to Romeosoftening and excusing the partwhich hisfriends took in it. Lady Capuletwhose extreme grieffor theloss of her kinsman Tybalt made her keep no bounds in herrevengeexhorted the prince to do strict justice upon hismurdererand topay no attention to Benvolio's representationwhobeingRomeo's friend and a Montaguespoke partially. Thusshepleaded against her new son-in-lawbut she knew not yet thathe was herson-in-law and Juliet's husband. On the other hand wasto be seenLady Montague pleading for her child's lifeandarguingwith some justice that Romeo had done nothing worthy ofpunishmentin taking the life of Tybaltwhich was alreadyforfeitedto the law by his having slain Mercutio. The princeunmoved bythe passionate exclamations of these womenon acarefulexamination of the facts pronounced his sentenceand bythatsentence Romeo was banished from Verona.
Heavy newsto young Julietwho had been but a few hours a brideand now bythis decree seemed everlastingly divorced! When thetidingsreached hershe at first gave way to rage against Romeowho hadslain her dear cousin. She called him a beautiful tyranta fiendangelicala ravenous dovea lamb with a wolf's natureaserpent-heart hid with a flowering faceand otherlikecontradictorynameswhich denoted the struggles in her mindbetweenher love and her resentment. But in the end love got themasteryand the tears which she shed for grief that Romeo hadslain hercousin turned to drops of joy that her husband livedwhomTybalt would have slain. Then came fresh tearsand theywerealtogether of grief for Romeo's banishment. That word wasmoreterrible to her than the death of many Tybalts.
Romeoafter the frayhad taken refuge in Friar Lawrence's cellwhere hewas first made acquainted with the prince's sentencewhichseemed to him far more terrible than death. To him itappearedthere was no world out of Verona's wallsno living outof thesight of Juliet. Heaven was there where Juliet livedandall beyondwas purgatorytorturehell. The good friar wouldhaveapplied the consolation of philosophy to his griefs; butthisfrantic young man would hear of nonebut like a madman hetore hishair and threw himself all along upon the groundas hesaidtotake the measure of his grave. From this unseemly statehe wasroused by a message from his dear lady which a littlerevivedhim; and then the friar took the advantage to expostulatewith himon the unmanly weakness which he had shown. He had slainTybaltbut would he also slay himselfslay his dear ladywholived butin his life? The noble form of manhe saidwas but ashape ofwax when it wanted the courage which should keep itfirm. Thelaw had been lenient to him that instead of deathwhich hehad incurredhad pronounced by the prince's mouth onlybanishment.He had slain Tybaltbut Tybalt would have slainhim-therewas a sort of happiness in that. Juliet was alive and(beyondall hope) had become his dear wife; therein he was mosthappy. Allthese blessingsas the friar made them out to bedidRomeo putfrom him like a sullen misbehaved wench. And the friarbade himbewarefor such as despaired (he said) died miserable.Then whenRomeo was a little calmed he counseled him that heshould gothat night and secretly take his leave of Julietandthenceproceed straightway to Mantuaat which place he shouldsojourntill the friar found fit occasion to publish hismarriagewhich might be a joyful means of reconciling theirfamilies;and then he did not doubt but the prince would be movedto pardonhimand he would return with twenty times more joythan hewent forth with grief. Romeo was convinced by these wisecounselsof the friarand took his leave to go and seek hisladyproposing to stay with her that nightand by daybreakpursue hisjourney alone to Mantua; to which place the good friarpromisedto send him letters from time to timeacquainting himwith thestate of affairs at home.
That nightRomeo passed with his dear wifegaining secretadmissionto her chamber from the orchard in which he had heardherconfession of love the night before. That had been a night ofunmixedjoy and rapture; but the pleasures of this night and thedelightwhich these lovers took in each other's society weresadlyallayed with the prospect of parting and the fataladventuresof the past day. The unwelcome daybreak seemed to cometoo soonand when Juliet heard the morning song of the lark shewould havepersuaded herself that it was the nightingalewhichsings bynight; but it was too truly the lark which sangand adiscordantand unpleasing note it seemed to her; and the streaksof day inthe east too certainly pointed out that it was time fortheselovers to part. Romeo took his leave of his dear wife witha heavyheartpromising to write to her from Mantua every hourin theday; and when he had descended from her chamber windowashe stoodbelow her on the groundin that sad foreboding state ofmind inwhich she washe appeared to her eyes as one dead in thebottom ofa tomb. Romeo's mind misgave him in like manner. Butnow he wasforced hastily to departfor it was death for him tobe foundwithin the walls of Verona after daybreak.
This wasbut the beginning of the tragedy of this pair of star-crossedlovers. Romeo had not been gone many days before the oldLordCapulet proposed a match for Juliet. The husband he hadchosen forhernot dreaming that she was married alreadywasCountParisa gallantyoungand noble gentlemanno unworthysuitor tothe young Juliet if she had never seen Romeo.
Theterrified Juliet was in a sad perplexity at her father'soffer. Shepleaded her youth unsuitable to marriagethe recentdeath ofTybaltwhich had left her spirits too weak to meet ahusbandwith any face of joyand how indecorous it would showfor thefamily of the Capulets to be celebrating a nuptial feastwhen hisfuneral solemnities were hardly over. She pleaded everyreasonagainst the match but the true onenamelythat she wasmarriedalready. But Lord Capulet was deaf to all her excusesand in aperemptory manner ordered her to get readyfor by thefollowingThursday she should be married to Paris. And havingfound hera husbandrichyoungand noblesuch as the proudestmaid inVerona might joyfully accepthe could not bear that outof anaffected coynessas he construed her denialshe shouldopposeobstacles to her own good fortune.
In thisextremity Juliet applied to the friendly friaralways acounselorin distressand he asking her if she had resolution toundertakea desperate remedyand she answering that she would gointo thegrave alive rather than marry Parisher own dearhusbandlivinghe directed her to go homeand appear merryandgive herconsent to marry Parisaccording to her father'sdesireand on the next nightwhich was the night before themarriageto drink off the contents of a vial which he then gavehertheeffect of which would be that for two-and-forty hoursafterdrinking it she should appear cold and lifelessand whenthebridegroom came to fetch her in the morning he would find hertoappearance dead; that then she would be borneas the mannerin thatcountry wasuncovered on a bierto be buried in thefamilyvault; that if she could put off womanish fearandconsent tothis terrible trialin forty-two hours afterswallowingthe liquid (such was its certain operation) she wouldbe sure toawakeas from a dream; and before she should awake hewould lether husband know their driftand he should come in thenight andbear her thence to Mantua. Loveand the dread ofmarryingParisgave young Juliet strength to undertake thishorribleadventure; and she took the vial of the friarpromisingto observehis directions.
Going fromthe monasteryshe met the young Count Parisandmodestlydissemblingpromised to become his bride. This wasjoyfulnews to the Lord Capulet and his wife. It seemed to putyouth intothe old man; and Julietwho had displeased himexceedinglyby her refusal of the countwas his darling againnow shepromised to be obedient. All things in the house were ina bustleagainst the approaching nuptials. No cost was spared topreparesuch festival rejoicings as Verona had never beforewitnessed.
On theWednesday night Juliet drank off the potion. She had manymisgivingslest the friarto avoid the blame which might beimputed tohim for marrying her to Romeohad given her poison;but thenhe was always known for a holy man. Then lest she shouldawakebefore the time that Romeo was to come for her; whether theterror ofthe placea vault full of dead Capulets' bonesandwhereTybaltall bloodylay festering in his shroudwould notbe enoughto drive her distracted. Again she thought of all thestoriesshe had heard of spirits haunting the places where theirbodieswere bestowed. But then her love for Romeo and heraversionfor Paris returnedand she desperately swallowed thedraughtand became insensible.
When youngParis came early in the morning with music to awakenhis brideinstead of a living Juliet her chamber presented thedrearyspectacle of a lifeless corse. What death to his hopes!Whatconfusion then reigned through the whole house! Poor Parislamentinghis bridewhom most detestable death had beguiled himofhaddivorced from him even before their hands were joined.But stillmore piteous it was to hear the mournings of the oldLord andLady Capuletwho having but this oneone poor lovingchild torejoice and solace incruel death had snatched her fromtheirsightjust as these careful parents were on the point ofseeing heradvanced (as they thought) by a promising andadvantageousmatch. Now all things that were ordained for thefestivalwere turned from their properties to do the office of ablackfuneral. The wedding cheer served for a sad burial feastthe bridalhymns were changed for sullen dirgesthe sprightlyinstrumentsto melancholy.bellsand the flowers that should havebeenstrewed in the bride's path now served but to strew hercorse.Nowinstead of a priest to marry hera priest was neededto buryherand she was borne to church indeednot to augmentthecheerful hopes of the livingbut to swell the dreary numbersof thedead.
Bad newswhich always travels faster than goodnow brought thedismalstory of his Juliet's death to Romeoat Mantuabeforethemessenger could arrive who was sent from Friar Lawrence toapprisehim that these were mock funerals onlyand but theshadow andrepresentation of deathand that his dear lady lay inthe tombbut for a short whileexpecting when Romeo would cometo releaseher from that dreary mansion. Just beforeRomeo hadbeenunusually joyful and light-hearted. He had dreamed in thenight thathe was dead (a strange dreamthat gave a dead manleave tothink) and that his lady came and found him deadandbreathedsuch life with kisses in his lips that he revived andwas anemperor! And now that a messenger came from Veronahethoughtsurely it was to confirm some good news which his dreamshadpresaged. But when the contrary to this flattering visionappearedand that it was his lady who was dead in truthwhom hecould notrevive by any kisseshe ordered horses to be gotreadyforhe determined that night to visit Verona and to seehis ladyin her tomb. And as mischief is swift to enter into thethoughtsof desperate menhe called to mind a poor apothecarywhose shopin Mantua he had lately passedand from the beggarlyappearanceof the manwho seemed famishedand the wretched showin hisshow of empty boxes ranged on dirty shelvesand othertokens ofextreme wretchednesshe had said at the time (perhapshavingsome misgivings that his own disastrous life might haplymeet witha conclusion so desperate):
"If aman were to need poisonwhich by the law of Mantua it isdeath tosellhere lives a poor wretch who would sell it him."
Thesewords of his now came into his mind and he sought out theapothecarywho after some pretended scruplesRomeo offering himgoldwhich his poverty could not resistsold him a poisonwhichifhe swallowedhe told himif he had the strength oftwentymenwould quickly despatch him.
With thispoison he set out for Veronato have a sight of hisdear ladyin her tombmeaningwhen he had satisfied his sightto swallowthe poison and be buried by her side. He reachedVerona atmidnightand found the churchyard in the midst ofwhich wassituated the ancient tomb of the Capulets. He hadprovided alightand a spadeand wrenching-ironand wasproceedingto break open the monument when he was interrupted bya voicewhich by the name of VILE MONTAGUE bade him desist fromhisunlawful business. It was the young Count Pariswho had cometo thetomb of Juliet at that unseasonable time of night to strewflowersand to weep over the grave of her that should have beenhis bride.He knew not what an interest Romeo had in the deadbutknowing him to be a Montague and (as he supposed) a swornfoe to allthe Capuletshe judged that he was come by night todo somevillainous shame to the dead bodies; therefore in anangry tonehe bade him desist; and as a criminalcondemned bythe lawsof Verona to die if he were found within the walls ofthe cityhe would have apprehended him. Romeo urged Paris toleave himand warned him by the fate of Tybaltwho lay buriedtherenotto provoke his anger or draw down another sin upon hishead byforcing him to kill him. But the count in scorn refusedhiswarningand laid hands on him as a felonwhichRomeoresistingthey foughtand Paris fell. When Romeoby the helpof alightcame to see who it was that he had slainthat it wasPariswho(he learned in his way from Mantua) should havemarriedJuliethe took the dead youth by the handas one whommisfortunehad made a companionand said that he would bury himin atriumphal gravemeaning in Juliet's gravewhich he nowopened.And there lay his ladyas one whom death had no powerupon tochange a feature or complexionin her matchless beauty;or as ifdeath were amorousand the leanabhorred monster kepther therefor his delight; for she lay yet fresh and bloomingasshe hadfallen to sleep when she swallowed that benumbing potion;and nearher lay Tybalt in his bloody shroudwhom Romeo seeingbeggedpardon of his lifeless corseand for Juliet's sake calledhimCOUSINand said that he was about to do him a favor byputtinghis enemy to death. Here Romeo took his last leave of hislady'slipskissing them; and here he shook the burden of hiscrossstars from his weary bodyswallowing that poison which theapothecaryhad sold himwhose operation was fatal and realnotlike thatdissembling potion which Juliet had swallowedtheeffect ofwhich was now nearly expiringand she about to awaketocomplain that Romeo had not kept his timeor that he had cometoo soon.
For nowthe hour was arrived at which the friar had promised thatshe shouldawake; and hehaving learned that his letters whichhe hadsent to Mantuaby some unlucky detention of themessengerhad never reached Romeocame himselfprovided with apickax andlanternto deliver the lady from her confinement; buthe wassurprised to find a light already burning in the Capulets'monumentand to see swords and blood near itand Romeo andParislying breathless by the monument
Before hecould entertain a conjectureto imagine how thesefatalaccidents had fallen outJuliet awoke out of her tranceandseeing the friar near hershe remembered the place whereshe wasand the occasion of her being thereand asked forRomeobutthe friarhearing a noisebade her come out of thatplace ofdeath and of unnatural sleepfor a greater power thanthey couldcontradict had thwarted their intents; andbeingfrightenedby the noise of people cominghe fled. But whenJuliet sawthe cup closed in her true love's handsshe guessedthatpoison had been the cause of his endand she would haveswallowedthe dregs if any had been leftand she kissed hisstill warmlips to try if any poison yet did hang upon them; thenhearing anearer noise of people comingshe quickly unsheathed adaggerwhich she woreandstabbing herselfdied by her trueRomeo'sside.
The watchby this time had come up to the place. A page belongingto CountPariswho had witnessed the fight between his masterand Romeohad given the alarmwhich had spread among thecitizenswho went up and down the streets of Verona confusedlyexclaiming"A Paris! a Romeo! a Juliet!" as the rumor hadimperfectlyreached themtill the uproar brought Lord Montagueand LordCapulet out of their bedswith the princeto inquireinto thecauses of the disturbance. The friar had beenapprehendedby some of the watchcoming from the churchyardtremblingsighingand weeping in a suspicious manner. A greatmultitudebeing assembled at the Capulets' monumentthe friarwasdemanded by the prince to deliver what he knew of thesestrangeand disastrous accidents.
And therein the presence of the old Lords Montague and Capulethefaithfully related the story of their children's fatal lovethe parthe took in promoting their marriagein the hope in thatunion toend the long quarrels between their families; how Romeotheredeadwas husband to Julietand Julietthere deadwasRomeo'sfaithful wife; howbefore he could find a fitopportunityto divulge their marriageanother match wasprojectedfor Julietwhoto avoid the crime of a secondmarriageswallowed the sleeping-draught (as he advised)and allthoughther dead; how meantime he wrote to Romeo to come and takeher thencewhen the force of the potion should ceaseand by whatunfortunatemiscarriage of the messenger the letters neverreachedRomeo. Further than this the friar could not follow thestorynorknew more than thatcoming himself to deliver Julietfrom thatplace of deathhe found the Count Paris and Romeoslain. Theremainder of the transactions was supplied by thenarrationof the page who had seen Paris and Romeo fightand bytheservant who came with Romeo from Veronato whom thisfaithfullover had given letters to be delivered to his father inthe eventof his deathwhich made good the friar's wordsconfessinghis marriage with Julietimploring the forgiveness ofhisparentsacknowledging the buying of the poison of the poorapothecaryand his intent in coming to the monument to die andlie withJuliet. All these circumstances agreed together to clearthe friarfrom any hand he could be supposed to have in thesecomplicatedslaughtersfurther than as the unintendedconsequencesof his own well-meantyet too artificial and subtlecontrivances.
And theprinceturning to these old lordsMontague and Capuletrebukedthem for their brutal and irrational enmitiesand showedthem whata scourge Heaven had laid upon such offensesthat ithad foundmeans even through the love of their children to punishtheirunnatural hate. And these old rivalsno longer enemiesagreed tobury their long strife in their children's graves; andLordCapulet requested Lord Montague to give him his handcallinghim by the name of brotheras if in acknowledgment ofthe unionof their families by the marriage of the young CapuletandMontague; and saying that Lord Montague's hand (in token ofreconcilement)was all he demanded for his daughter's jointure.But LordMontague said he would give him morefor he would raiseher astatue of pure gold thatwhile Verona kept its namenofigureshould be so esteemed for its richness and workmanship asthat ofthe true and faithful Juliet. And Lord Capulet in returnsaid thathe would raise another statue to Romeo. So did thesepoor oldlordswhen it was too latestrive to outgo each otherin mutualcourtesies; while so deadly had been their rage andenmity inpast times that nothing but the fearful overthrow oftheirchildren (poor sacrifices to their quarrels anddissensions)could remove the rooted hates and jealousies of thenoblefamilies.
GertrudeQueen of Denmarkbecoming a widow by the sudden deathof KingHamletin less than two months after his death marriedhisbrother Claudiuswhich was noted by all people at the timfor astrange act of indiscretionor unfeelingnessor worse;for thisClaudius did no way resemble her late husband in thequalitiesof his person or his mindbut was as contemptible inoutwardappearance as he was base and unworthy in disposition;andsuspicions did not fail to arise in the minds of some that hehadprivately made away with his brotherthe late kingwith theview ofmarrying his widow and ascending the throne of Denmarkto theexclusion of young Hamletthe son of the buried king andlawfulsuccessor to the throne.
But uponno one did this unadvised action of the queen make suchimpressionas upon this young princewho loved and venerated thememory ofhis dead father almost to idolatryandbeing of anice senseof honor and a most exquisite practiser of proprietyhimselfdid sorely take to heart this unworthy conduct of hismotherGertrude; in so much thatbetween grief for his father'sdeath andshame for his mother's marriagethis young prince wasovercloudedwith a deep melancholyand lost all his mirth andall hisgood looks; all his customary pleasure in books forsookhimhisprincely exercises and sportsproper to his youthwereno longeracceptable; he grew weary of the worldwhich seemed tohim anunweeded gardenwhere all the wholesome flowers werechoked upand nothing but weeds could thrive. Not that theprospectof exclusion from the thronehis lawful inheritanceweighed somuch upon his spiritsthough that to a young andhigh-mindedprince was a bitter wound and a sore indignity; butwhat sogalled him and took away all his cheerful spirits wasthat hismother had shown herself so forgetful to his father'smemoryand such a father! who had been to her so loving and sogentle ahusband! and then she always appeared as loving andobedient awife to himand would hang upon him as if heraffectiongrew to him. And now within two monthsoras itseemed toyoung Hamletless than two monthsshe had marriedagainmarried his uncleher dear husband's brotherin itself ahighlyimproper and unlawful marriagefrom the nearness ofrelationshipbut made much more so by the indecent haste withwhich itwas concluded and the unkingly character of the man whomshe hadchosen to be the partner of her throne and bed. This itwas whichmore than the loss of ten kingdoms dashed the spiritsandbrought a cloud over the mind of this honorable young prince.
In vainwas all that his mother Gertrude or the king could do tocontriveto divert him; he still appeared in court in a suit ofdeepblackas mourning for the king his father's deathwhichmode ofdress he had never laid asidenot even in compliment tohis motherupon the day she was marriednor could he be broughtto join inany of the festivities or rejoicings of that (asappearedto him) disgraceful day.
Whatmostly troubled him was an uncertainty about the manner ofhisfather's death. It was given out by Claudius that a serpenthad stunghim; but young Hamlet had shrewd suspicions thatClaudiushimself was the serpent; in plain Englishthat he hadmurderedhim for his crownand that the serpent who stung hisfather didnow sit on the throne.
How far hewas right in this conjecture and what he ought tothink ofhis motherhow far she was privy to this murder andwhether byher consent or knowledgeor withoutit came to passwere thedoubts which continually harassed and distracted him.
A rumorhad reached the ear of young Hamlet that an apparitionexactlyresembling the dead king his fatherhad been seen by thesoldiersupon watchon the platform before the palace atmidnightfor two or three nights successively. The figure cameconstantlyclad in the same suit of armorfrom head to footwhich thedead king was known to have worn. And they who saw it(Hamlet'sbosom friend Horatio was one) agreed in their testimonyas to thetime and manner of its appearance that it came just asthe clockstruck twelve; that it looked palewith a face more ofsorrowthan of anger; that its beard was grislyand the color aSABLESILVEREDas they had seen it in his lifetime; that itmade noanswer when they spoke to it; yet once they thought itlifted upits head and addressed itself to motionas if it wereabout tospeak; but in that moment the morning cock crew and itshrank inhaste awayand vanished out of their sight.
The youngprincestrangely amazed at their relationwhich wastooconsistent and agreeing with itself to disbelieveconcludedthat itwas his father's ghost which they had seenanddeterminedto take his watch with the soldiers that nightthathe mighthave a chance of seeing it; for he reasoned with himselfthat suchan appearance did not come for nothingbut that theghost hadsomething to impartand though it had been silenthithertoyet it would speak to him. And he waited withimpatiencefor the coming of night.
When nightcame he took his stand with Horatioand Marcellusone of theguardupon the platformwhere this apparition wasaccustomedto walk; and it being a cold nightand the airunusuallyraw and nippingHamlet and Horatio and their companionfell intosome talk about the coldness of the nightwhich wassuddenlybroken off by Horatio announcing that the ghost wascoming.
At thesight of his father's spirit Hamlet was struck with asuddensurprise and fear.' He at first called upon the angels andheavenlyministers to defend themfor he knew not whether itwere agood spirit or badwhether it came for good or evil; buthegradually assumed more courage; and his father (as it seemedto him)looked upon him so piteouslyand as it were desiring tohaveconversation with himand did in all respects appear solikehimself as he was when he livedthat Hamlet could not helpaddressinghim. He called him by his name"HamletKingFather!"and conjured him that he would tell the reason why hehad lefthis gravewhere they had seen him quietly bestowedtocome againand visit the earth and the moonlight; and besoughthim thathe would let them know if there was anything which theycould doto give peace to his spirit. And the ghost beckoned toHamletthat he should go with him to some more removed placewhere theymight be alone; and Horatio and Marcellus would havedissuadedthe young prince from following itfor they fearedlest itshould be some evil spirit who would tempt him to theneighboringsea or to the top of some dreadful cliffand thereput onsome horrible shape which might deprive the prince of hisreason.But their counsels and entreaties could not alterHamlet'sdeterminationwho cared too little about life to fearthe losingof it; and as to his soulhe saidwhat could thespirit doto thatbeing a thing immortal as itself? And he feltas hardyas a lionandbursting from themwho did all theycould tohold himhe followed whithersoever the spirit led him.
Andwhen they were alone togetherthe spirit broke silence andtold himthat he was the ghost of Hamlethis fatherwho hadbeencruelly murderedand he told the manner of it; that it wasdone byhis own brother ClaudiusHamlet's uncleas Hamlet hadalreadybut too much suspectedfor the hope of succeeding to hisbed andcrown. That as he was sleeping in his gardenhis customalways inthe afternoonhis treasonous brother stole upon him inhis sleepand poured the juice of poisonous henbane into hisearswhich has such an antipathy to the life of man thatswiftasquicksilverit courses through all the veins of the bodybaking upthe blood and spreading a crust-like leprosy all overthe skin.Thus sleepingby a brother's hand he was cut off atonce fromhis crownhis queenand his life; and he adjuredHamletifhe did ever his dear father lovethat he wouldrevengehis foul murder. And the ghost lamented to his son thathis mothershould so fall off from virtue as to prove false tothe weddedlove of her first husband and to marry his murderer;but hecautioned Hamlethowsoever he proceeded in his revengeagainsthis wicked uncleby no means to act any violence againstthe personof his motherbut to leave her to Heavenand to thestings andthorns of conscience. And Hamlet promised to observetheghost's direction in all thingsand the ghost vanished.
And whenHamlet was left alone he took up a solemn resolutionthat allhe had in his memoryall that he had ever learned bybooks orobservationshould be instantly forgotten by himandnothinglive in his brain but the memory of what the ghost hadtold himand enjoined him to do. And Hamlet related theparticularsof the conversation which had passed to none but hisdearfriend Horatio; and he enjoined both to him and Marcellusthestrictest secrecy as to what they had seen that night.
The terrorwhich the sight of the ghost had left upon the sensesof Hamlethe being weak and dispirited beforealmost unhingedhis mindand drove him beside his reason. And hefearing that itwouldcontinue to have this effectwhich might subject him toobservationand set his uncle upon his guardif he suspectedthat hewas meditating anything against himor that Hamletreallyknew more of his father's death than he professedtook upa strangeresolutionfrom that time to counterfeit as if he werereally andtruly mad; thinking that he would be less an object ofsuspicionwhen his uncle should believe him incapable of anyseriousprojectand that his real perturbation of mind would bebestcovered and pass concealed under a disguise of pretendedlunacy.
From thistime Hamlet affected a certain wildness and strangenessin hisapparelhis speechand behaviorand did so excellentlycounterfeitthe madman that the king and queen were bothdeceivedand not thinking his grief for his father's death asufficientcause to produce such a distemperfor they knew notof theappearance of the ghostthey concluded that his maladywas loveand they thought they had found out the object.
BeforeHamlet fell into the melancholy way which has beenrelated hehad dearly loved a fair maid called Opheliathedaughterof Poloniusthe king's chief counselor in affairs ofstate. Hehad sent her letters and ringsand made many tendersof hisaffection to herand importuned her with love inhonorablefashion; and she had given belief to his vows andimportunities.But the melancholy which he fell into latterlyhad madehim neglect herand from the time he conceived theproject ofcounterfeiting madness he affected to treat her withunkindnessand a sort of rudeness; but shegood ladyratherthanreproach him with being false to herpersuaded herself thatit wasnothing but the disease in his mindand no settledunkindnesswhich had made him less observant of her thanformerly;and she compared the faculties of his once noble mindandexcellent understandingimpaired as they were with the deepmelancholythat oppressed himto sweet bells which in themselvesarecapable of most exquisite musicbut when jangled out oftuneorrudely handledproduce only a harsh and unpleasingsound.
Though therough business which Hamlet had in handthe revengingof hisfather's death upon his murdererdid not suit with theplayfulstate of courtshipor admit of the society of so idle apassion aslove now seemed to himyet it could not hinder butthat softthoughts of his Ophelia would come betweenand in oneof thesemomentswhen he thought that his treatment of thisgentlelady had been unreasonably harshhe wrote her a letterfull ofwild starts of passionand in extravagant termssuch asagreedwith his supposed madnessbut mixed with some gentletouches ofaffectionwhich could not but show to this honoredlady thata deep love for her yet lay at the bottom of his heart.He badeher to doubt the stars were fireand to doubt that thesun didmoveto doubt truth to be a liarbut never to doubtthat heloved; with more of such extravagant phrases. This letterOpheliadutifully showed to her fatherand the old man thoughthimselfbound to communicate it to the king and queenwho fromthat timesupposed that the true cause of Hamlet's madness waslove. Andthe queen wished that the good beauties of Opheliamight bethe happy cause of his wildnessfor so she hoped thathervirtues might happily restore him to his accustomed wayagaintoboth their honors.
ButHamlet's malady lay deeper than she supposedor than couldbe socured. His father's ghostwhich he had seenstill hauntedhisimaginationand the sacred injunction to revenge his murdergave himno rest till it was accomplished. Every hour of delayseemed tohim a sin and a violation of his father's commands. Yethow tocompass the death of the kingsurrounded as he constantlywas withhis guardswas no easy matter. Or if it had beenthepresenceof the queenHamlet's motherwho was generally withthe kingwas a restraint upon his purposewhich he could notbreakthrough. Besidesthe very circumstance that the usurperwas hismother's husbandfilled him with some remorse and stillbluntedthe edge of his purpose. The mere act of putting afellow-creatureto death was in itself odious and terrible to adispositionnaturally so gentle as Hamlet's was. His verymelancholyand the dejection of spirits he had so long been illproducedan irresoluteness and wavering of purpose which kept himfromproceeding to extremities. Moreoverhe could not helphavingsome scruples upon his mindwhether the spirit which hehad seenwas indeed his fatheror whether it might not be thedevilwhohe had heard has power to take any form he pleasesand whomight have assumed his father's shape only to takeadvantageof his weakness and his melancholyto drive him to thedoing ofso desperate an act as murder. And he determined that hewould havemore certain grounds to go upon than a visionorapparitionwhich might be a delusion.
While hewas in this irresolute mind there came to the courtcertainplayersin whom Hamlet formerly used to take delightandparticularly to hear one of them speak a tragical speechdescribingthe death of old PriamKing of Troywith the griefof Hecubahis queen. Hamlet welcomed his old friendstheplayersand remembering how that speech had formerly given himpleasurerequested the player to repeat it; which he did in solively amannersetting forth the cruel murder of the feeble oldkingwiththe destruction of his people and city by fireandthe madgrief of the old queenrunning barefoot up and down thepalacewith a poor clout upon that head where a crown had beenand withnothing but a blanket upon her loinssnatched up inhastewhere she had worn a royal robe; that not only it drewtears fromall that stood bywho thought they saw the realscenesolively was it representedbut even the player himselfdeliveredit with a broken voice and real tears. This put Hamletuponthinkingif that player could so work himself up to passionby a merefictitious speechto weep for one that he had neverseenforHecubathat had been dead so many hundred yearshowdull washewho having a real motive and cue for passiona realking and adear father murderedwas yet so little moved that hisrevengeall this while had seemed to have slept in dull and muddyforgetfulness!and while he meditated on actors and actingandthepowerful effects which a good playrepresented to the lifehas uponthe spectatorhe remembered the instance of somemurdererwhoseeing a murder on the stagewas by the mereforce ofthe scene and resemblance of circumstances so affectedthat onthe spot he confessed the crime which he had committed.And hedetermined that these players should play something likethe murderof his father before his uncleand he would watchnarrowlywhat effect it might have upon himand from his lookshe wouldbe able to gather with more certainty if he were themurdereror not. To this effect he ordered a play to be preparedto therepresentation of which he invited the king and queen.
The storyof the play was of a murder done in Vienna upon a duke.The duke'sname was Gonzagohis wife's Baptista. The play showedhow oneLucianusa near relation to the dukepoisoned him inhis gardenfor his estateand how the murderer in a short timeafter gotthe love of Gonzago's wife.
At therepresentation of this playthe kingwho did not knowthe trapwhich was laid for himwas presentwith his queen andthe wholecourt; Hamlet sitting attentively near him to observehis looks.The play began with a conversation between Gonzago andhis wifein which the lady made many protestations of loveandof nevermarrying a second husband if she should outlive Gonzagowishingshe might be accursed if she ever took a second husbandand addingthat no woman did so but those wicked women who killtheirfirst husbands. Hamlet observed the king his uncle changecolor atthis expressionand that it was as bad as wormwood bothto him andto the queen. But when Lucianusaccording to thestorycame to poison Gonzago sleeping in the gardenthe strongresemblancewhich it bore to his own wicked act upon the latekinghisbrotherwhom he had poisoned in his gardenso struckupon theconscience of this usurper that he was unable to sit outthe restof the playbut on a sudden calling for lights to hischamberand affecting or partly feeling a sudden sicknessheabruptlyleft the theater. The king being departedthe play wasgivenover. Now Hamlet had seen enough to be satisfied that thewords ofthe ghost were true and no illusion; and in a fit ofgaietylike that which comes over a man who suddenly has somegreatdoubt or scruple resolvedhe swore to Horatio that hewould takethe ghost's word for a thousand pounds. But before hecould makeup his resolution as to what measures of revenge heshouldtakenow he was certainly informed that his uncle was hisfather'smurdererhe was sent for by the queen his motherto aprivateconference in her closet.
It was bydesire of the king that the queen sent for Hamletthat shemight signify to her son how much his late behaviorhaddispleased them bothand the kingwishing to know all thatpassed atthat conferenceand thinking that the too partialreport ofa mother might let slip some part of Hamlet's wordswhich itmight much import the king to knowPoloniusthe oldcounselorof statewas ordered to plant himself behind thehangingsin the queen's closetwhere he mightunseenhear allthatpassed. This artifice was particularly adapted to thedispositionof Poloniuswho was a man grown old in crookedmaxims andpolicies of stateand delighted to get at theknowledgeof matters in an indirect and cunning way.
Hamletbeing come to his mothershe began to tax him in theroundestway with his actions and behaviorand she told him thathe hadgiven great offense to HIS FATHERmeaning the kinghisunclewhombecause he had married hershe called Hamlet'sfather.Hamletsorely indignant that she should give so dear andhonored aname as father seemed to him to a wretch who wasindeed nobetter than the murderer of his true fatherwith somesharpnessreplied:
"MotherYOU have much offended MY FATHER."
The queensaid that was but an idle answer.
"Asgood as the question deserved" said Hamlet.
The queenasked him if he had forgotten who it was he wasspeakingto.
"Alas!"replied Hamlet"I wish I could forget. You are thequeenyour husband's brother's wife; and you are my mother. Iwish youwere not what you are."
"Naythen" said the queen"if you show me so little respectIwill setthose to you that can speak" and was going to send theking orPolonius to him.
But Hamletwould not let her gonow he had her alonetill hehad triedif his words could not bring her to some sense of herwickedlife; andtaking her by the wristhe held her fastandmade hersit down. Sheaffrighted at his earnest mannerandfearfullest in his lunacy he should do her a mischiefcriedout; and avoice was heard from behind the hangings"Helphelp'thequeen!" which Hamlet hearingand verily thinking that it wasthe kinghimself there concealedhe drew his sword and stabbedat theplace where the voice came fromas he would have stabbeda rat thatran theretillthe voice ceasinghe concluded theperson tobe dead. But when he dragged forth the body it was notthe kingbut Poloniusthe oldofficious counselorthat hadplantedhimself as a spy behind the hangings.
"Ohme!" exclaimed the queen"what a rash and bloody deed haveyou done!"
"Abloody deedmother" replied Hamlet"but not so bad asyourswhokilled a kingand married his brother."
Hamlet hadgone too far to leave off here. He was now in thehumor tospeak plainly to his motherand he pursued it. Andthough thefaults of parents are to be tenderly treated by theirchildrenyet in the case of great crimes the son may have leaveto speakeven to his own mother with some harshnessso as thatharshnessis meant for her good and to turn her from her wickedwaysandnot done for the purpose of upbraiding. And now thisvirtuousprince did in moving terms represent to the queen theheinousnessof her offense in being so forgetful of the deadkinghisfatheras in so short a space of time to marry withhisbrother and reputed murderer. Such an act asafter the vowswhich shehad sworn to her first husbandwas enough to make allvows ofwomen suspected and all virtue to be accounted hypocrisyweddingcontracts to be less than gamesters' oathsand religionto be amockery and a mere form of words. He said she had donesuch adeed that the heavens blushed at itand the earth wassick ofher because of it. And he showed her two picturestheone of thelate kingher first husbandand the other of thepresentkingher second husbandand he bade her mark thedifference;what a grace was on the brow of his fatherhow likea god helooked! the curls of Apollothe forehead of Jupiterthe eye ofMarsand a posture like to Mercury newly alighted onsomeheaven-kissing hill! this manhe saidHAD BEEN herhusband.And then be showed her whom she had got in his stead;how like ablight or a mildew he lookedfor so he had blastedhiswholesome brother. And the queen was sore ashamed that heshould soturn her eyes inward upon her soulwhich she now sawso blackand deformed. And he asked her how she could continue tolive withthis manand be a wife to himwho had murdered herfirsthusband and got the crown by as false means as a thief--andjust as hespoke the ghost of his fathersuch as he was in hislifetimeand such as he had lately seen itentered the roomandHamletingreat terrorasked what it would have; and the ghostsaid thatit came to remind him of the revenge he had promisedwhichHamlet seemed to have forgot; and the ghost bade him speakto hismotherfor the grief and terror she was in would elsekill her.It then vanishedand was seen by none but Hamletneithercould he by pointing to where it stoodor by anydescriptionmake his mother perceive itwho was terriblyfrightenedall this while to hear him conversingas it seemed toherwithnothing; and she imputed it to the disorder of hismind. ButHamlet begged her not to flatter her wicked soul insuch amanner as to think that it was his madnessand not herownoffenseswhich had brought his father's spirit again on theearth. Andhe bade her feel his pulsehow temperately it beatnot like amadman's. And he begged of herwith tearsto confessherself toHeaven for what was pastand for the future toavoid thecompany of the king and be no more as a wife to him;and whenshe should show herself a mother to himby respectinghisfather's memoryhe would ask a blessing of her as a son. Andshepromising to observe his directionsthe conference ended.
And nowHamlet was at leisure to consider who it was that in hisunfortunaterashness he had killed; and when he came to see thatit wasPoloniusthe father of the Lady Ophelia whom he so dearlylovedhedrew apart the dead bodyandhis spirits being now alittlequieterhe wept for what he had done.
Theunfortunate death of Polonius gave the king a pretense forsendingHamlet out of the kingdom. He would willingly have puthim todeathfearing him as dangerous; but he dreaded thepeoplewho loved Hamletand the queenwhowith all herfaultsdoted upon the princeher son. So this subtle kingunderpretense of providing for Hamlet's safetythat he mightnot becalled to account for Polonius's deathcaused him to beconveyedon board a ship bound for Englandunder the care of twocourtiersby whom he despatched letters to the English courtwhich inthat time was in subjection and paid tribute to Denmarkrequiringfor special reasons there pretendedthat Hamletshould beput to death as soon as he landed on English ground.Hamletsuspecting some treacheryin the nighttime secretly gotat thelettersandskilfully erasing his own namehe in thestead ofit put in the names of those two courtierswho had thecharge ofhimto be put to death; then sealing up the lettershe putthem into their place again. Soon after the ship wasattackedby piratesand a sea-fight commencedin the course ofwhichHamletdesirous to show his valorwith sword in handsinglyboarded the enemy's vessel; while his own shipin acowardlymannerbore away; and leaving him to his fatethe twocourtiersmade the best of their way to Englandcharged withthoseletters the sense of which Hamlet had altered to their owndeserveddestruction.
Thepirates who had the prince in their power showed themselvesgentleenemiesandknowing whom they had got prisonerin thehope thatthe prince might do them a good turn at court inrecompensefor any favor they might show himthey set Hamlet onshore atthe nearest port in Denmark. From that place Hamletwrote tothe kingacquainting him with the strange chance whichhadbrought him back to his own country and saying that on thenext dayhe should present himself before his Majesty. When hegot home asad spectacle offered itself the first thing to hiseyes.
This wasthe funeral of the young and beautiful Opheliahis oncedearmistress. The wits of this young lady had begun to turn eversince herpoor father's death. That he should die a violentdeathandby the hands of the prince whom she lovedso affectedthistender young maid that in a little time she grew perfectlydistractedand would go about giving flowers away to the ladiesof thecourtand saying that they were for her father's burialsingingsongs about love and about deathand sometimes such ashad nomeaning at allas if she had no memory of what happenedto her.There was a willow which grew slanting over a brookandreflectedits leaves on the stream. To this brook she came oneday whenshe was unwatchedwith garlands she had been makingmixed upof daisies and nettlesflowers and weeds togetherandclamberingup to bang her garland upon the boughs of the willowa boughbroke and precipitated this fair young maidgarlandandall thatshe had gatheredinto the waterwhere her clothes boreher up fora whileduring which she chanted scraps of old tuneslike oneinsensible to her own distressor as if she were acreaturenatural to that element; but long it was not before hergarmentsheavy with the wetpulled her in from her melodioussinging toa muddy and miserable death. It was the funeral ofthis fairmaid which her brother Laertes was celebratingtheking andqueen and whole court being presentwhen Hamletarrived.He knew not what all this show importedbut stood onone sidenot inclining to interrupt the ceremony. He saw theflowersstrewed upon her graveas the custom was in maidenburialswhich the queen herself threw in; and as she threw themshe said:
"Sweetsto the sweet! I thought to have decked thy bride bedsweetmaidnot to have strewed thy grave. Thou shouldst havebeen myHamlet's wife."
And heheard her brother wish that violets might spring from hergrave; andhe saw him leap into the grave all frantic with griefand bidthe attendants pile mountains of earth upon himthat hemight beburied with her. And Hamlet's love for this fair maidcame backto himand he could not bear that a brother shouldshow somuch transport of grieffor he thought that he lovedOpheliabetter than forty thousand brothers. Then discoveringhimselfhe leaped into the grave where Laertes wasall asfrantic ormore frantic than heand Laertesknowing him to beHamletwho had been the cause of his father's and his sister'sdeathgrappled him by the throat as an enemytill theattendantsparted them; and Hamletafter the funeralexcusedhis hastyact in throwing himself into the grave as if to braveLaertes;but he said he could not bear that any one should seemto outgohim in grief for the death of the fair Ophelia. And forthe timethese two noble youths seemed reconciled.
But out ofthe grief and anger of Laertes for the death of hisfather andOphelia the kingHamlet's wicked unclecontriveddestructionfor Hamlet. He set on Laertesunder cover of peaceandreconciliationto challenge Hamlet to a friendly trial ofskill atfencingwhich Hamlet acceptinga day was appointed totry thematch. At this match all the court was presentandLaertesby direction of the kingprepared a poisoned weapon.Upon thismatch great wagers were laid by the courtiersas bothHamlet andLaertes were known to excel at this sword play; andHamlettaking up the foilschose onenot at all suspecting thetreacheryof Laertesor being careful to examine Laertes'sweaponwhoinstead of a foil or blunted swordwhich the lawsof fencingrequiremade use of one with a pointand poisoned.At firstLaertes did but play with Hamletand suffered him togain someadvantageswhich the dissembling king magnified andextolledbeyond measuredrinking to Hamlet's success andwageringrich bets upon the issue. But after a few pausesLaertesgrowing warmmade a deadly thrust at Hamlet with hispoisonedweaponand gave him a mortal blow. Hamletincensedbut notknowingthe whole of the treacheryin the scuffleexchangedhis own innocent weapon for Laertes's deadly oneandwith athrust of Laertes's own sword repaid Laertes homewho wasthusjustly caught in his own treachery. In this instant thequeenshrieked out that she was poisoned. She had inadvertentlydrunk outof a bowl which the king had prepared for Hamletincase thatbeing warm in fencinghe should call for drink; intothis thetreacherous king had infused a deadly poisonto makesure ofHamletif Laertes had failed. He had forgotten to warnthe queenof the bowlwhich she drank ofand immediately diedexclaimingwith her last breath that she was poisoned. Hamletsuspectingsome treacheryordered the doors to be shut while hesought itout. Laertes told him to seek no fartherfor he wasthetraitor; and feeling his life go away with the wound whichHamlet hadgiven himhe made confession of the treachery he hadused andhow he had fallen a victim to it: and he told Hamlet oftheenvenomed pointand said that Hamlet had not half an hour toliveforno medicine could cure him; and begging forgiveness ofHamlethediedwith his last words accusing the king of beingthecontriver of the mischief. When Hamlet saw his end draw neartherebeing yet some venom left upon the swordhe suddenlyturnedupon his false uncle and thrust the point of it to hisheartfulfilling the promise which he had made to his father'sspiritwhose injunction was now accomplished and his foul murderrevengedupon the murderer. Then Hamletfeeling his breath failand lifedepartingturned to his dear friend Horatiowho hadbeenspectator of this fatal tragedy; and with his dying breathrequestedhim that he would live to tell his story to the world(forHoratio had made a motion as if he would slay himself toaccompanythe prince in death)and Horatio promised that hewould makea true report as one that was privy to all thecircumstances.Andthus satisfiedthe noble heart of Hamletcracked;and Horatio and the bystanders with many tears commendedthe spiritof this sweet prince to the guardianship of angels.For Hamletwas a loving and a gentle prince and greatly belovedfor hismany noble and princelike qualities; and if he had livedwould nodoubt have proved a most royal and complete king toDenmark.
Brabantiothe rich senator of Venicehad a fair daughterthegentleDesdemona. She was sought to by divers suitorsboth onaccount ofher many virtuous qualities and for her richexpectations.But among the suitors of her own clime andcomplexionshe saw none whom she could affectfor this nobleladywhoregarded the mind more than the features of menwith asingularityrather to be admired than imitated had chosen for theobject ofher affections a Moora blackwhom her father lovedand ofteninvited to his house.
Neither isDesdemona to be altogether condemned for theunsuitablenessof the person whom she selected for her lover.Batingthat Othello was blackthe noble Moor wanted nothingwhichmight recommend him to the affections of the greatest lady.He was asoldierand a brave one; and by his conduct in bloodywarsagainst the Turks had risen to the rank of general in theVenetianserviceand was esteemed and trusted by the state.
He hadbeen a travelerand Desdemona (as is the manner ofladies)loved to hear him tell the story of his adventureswhichhe wouldrun through from his earliest recollection; the battlessiegesand encounters which he had passed through; the perils hehad beenexposed to by land and by water; his hair-breadthescapeswhen he had entered a breach or marched up to the mouthof acannon; and how he had been taken prisoner by the insolentenemyandsold to slavery; how he demeaned himself in thatstateandhow he escaped: all these accountsadded to thenarrationof the strange things he had seen in foreign countriesthe vastwilderness and romantic cavernsthe quarriesthe rocksandmountains whose heads are in the clouds; of the savagenationsthe cannibals who are man-eatersand a race of peoplein Africawhose heads do grow beneath their shoulders. Thesetravelers'stories would so enchain the attention of Desdemonathat ifshe were called off at any time by household affairs shewoulddespatch with all haste that businessand returnand witha greedyear devour Othello's discourse. And once he tookadvantageof a pliant hour and drew from her a prayer that hewould tellher the whole story of his life at largeof which shehad heardso muchbut only by parts. To which he consentedandbeguiledher of many a tear when he spoke of some distressfulstrokewhich his youth had suffered.
His storybeing doneshe gave him for his pains a world ofsighs. Sheswore a pretty oath that it was all passing strangeandpitifulwondrous pitiful. She wished (she said) she had notheard ityet she wished that Heaven had made her such a man; andthen shethanked himand told himif he had a friend who lovedherhehad only to teach him how to tell his story and thatwould wooher. Upon this hintdelivered not with more franknessthanmodestyaccompanied with certain bewitching prettiness andblusheswhich Othello could not but understandhe spoke moreopenly ofhis loveand in this golden opportunity gained theconsent ofthe generous Lady Desdemona privately to marry him.
NeitherOthello's color nor his fortune was such that it could behopedBrabantio would accept him for a son-in-law. He had lefthisdaughter free; but he did expect thatas the manner of nobleVenetianladies wasshe would choose erelong a husband ofsenatorialrank or expectations; but in this he was deceived.Desdemonaloved the Moorthough he was blackand devoted herheart andfortunes to his valiant parts and qualities. So was herheartsubdued to an implicit devotion to the man she had selectedfor ahusband that his very colorwhich to all but thisdiscerninglady would have proved an insurmountable objectionwas by heresteemed above all the white skins and clearcomplexionsof the young Venetian nobilityher suitors.
Theirmarriagewhichthough privately carriedcould not longbe kept asecretcame to the ears of the old manBrabantiowhoappearedin a solemn council of the senate as an accuser of theMoorOthellowho by spells and witchcraft (he maintained) hadseducedthe affections of the fair Desdemona to marry himwithoutthe consent of her fatherand against the obligations ofhospitality.
At thisjuncture of time it happened that the state of Venice hadimmediateneed of the services of Othellonews having arrivedthat theTurks with mighty preparation had fitted out a fleetwhich wasbending its course to the island of Cypruswith intentto regainthat strong post from the Venetianswho then held it;in thisemergency the state turned its eyes upon Othellowhoalone wasdeemed adequate to conduct the defense of Cyprusagainstthe Turks. So that Othellonow summoned before thesenatestood in their presence at once as a candidate for agreatstate employment and as a culprit charged with offenseswhich bythe laws of Venice were made capital.
The ageand senatorial character of old Brabantio commanded amostpatient hearing from that grave assembly; but the incensedfatherconducted his accusation with so much intemperanceproducinglikelihoods and allegations for proofsthatwhenOthellowas called upon for his defensehe had only to relate aplain taleof the course of his love; which he did with such anartlesseloquencerecounting the whole story of his wooing as wehaverelated it aboveand delivered his speech with so noble aplainness(the evidence of truth) that the dukewho sat as chiefjudgecould not help confessing that a tale so told would havewon hisdaughtertooand the spells and conjurations whichOthellohad used in his courtship plainly appeared to have beenno morethan the honest arts of men in loveand the onlywitchcraftwhich he had used the faculty of telling a soft taleto win alady's ear.
Thisstatement of Othello was confirmed by the testimony of theLadyDesdemona herselfwho appeared in court andprofessing aduty toher father for life and educationchallenged leave ofhim toprofess a yet higher duty to her lord and husbandeven somuch asher mother had shown in preferring him (Brabantio) aboveHERfather.
The oldsenatorunable to maintain his pleacalled the Moor tohim withmany expressions of sorrowandas an act of necessitybestowedupon him his daughterwhomif he had been free towithholdher (he told him)he would with all his heart have keptfrom him;adding that he was glad at soul that he had no otherchildforthis behavior of Desdemona would have taught him to bea tyrantand hang clogs on them for her desertion.
Thisdifficulty being got overOthelloto whom custom hadrenderedthe hardships of a military life as natural as food andrest areto other menreadily undertook the management of thewars inCyprus; and Desdemonapreferring the honor of her lord(thoughwith danger) before the indulgence of those idle delightsin whichnew-married people usually waste their timecheerfullyconsentedto his going.
No soonerwere Othello and his lady landed in Cyprus than newsarrivedthat a desperate tempest had dispersed the Turkish fleetand thusthe island was secure from any immediate apprehension ofan attack.But the war which Othello was to suffer was nowbeginning;and the enemies which malice stirred up against hisinnocentlady proved in their nature more deadly than strangersorinfidels.
Among allthe general's friends no one possessed the confidenceof Othellomore entirely than Cassio. Michael Cassio was a youngsoldieraFlorentinegayamorousand of pleasing addressfavoritequalities with women; he was handsome and eloquentandexactlysuch a person as might alarm the jealousy of a manadvancedin years (as Othello in some measure was) who hadmarried ayoung and beautiful wife; but Othello was as free fromjealousyas he was nobleand as incapable of suspecting as ofdoing abase action. He had employed this Cassio in his loveaffairwith Desdemonaand Cassio had been a sort of go-betweenin hissuit; for Othellofearing that himself had not those softparts ofconversation which please ladiesand finding thesequalitiesin his friendwould often depute Cassio to go (as hephrasedit) a-courting for himsuch innocent simplicity beingrather anhonor than a blemish to the character of the valiantMoor. Sothat no wonder ifnext to Othello himself (but at fardistanceas beseems a virtuous wife)the gentle Desdemona lovedandtrusted Cassio. Nor had the marriage of this couple made anydifferencein their behavior to Michael Cassio. He frequentedtheirhouseand his free and rattling talk was no unpleasingvariety toOthellowho was himself of a more serious temper; forsuchtempers are observed often to delight in their contrariesas arelief from the oppressive excess of their own; andDesdemonaand Cassio would talk and laugh togetheras in thedays whenhe went a-courting for his friend.
Othellohad lately promoted Cassio to be the lieutenanta placeof trustand nearest to the general's person. This promotiongave greatoffense to Iagoan older officer who thought he had abetterclaim than Cassioand would often ridicule Cassio as afellow fitonly for the company of ladies and one that knew nomore ofthe art of war or how to set an army in array for battlethan agirl. Iago hated Cassioand he hated Othello as well forfavoringCassio as for an unjust suspicionwhich he had lightlytaken upagainst Othellothat the Moor was too fond of Iago'swifeEmilia. From these imaginary provocations the plotting mindof Iagoconceived a horrid scheme of revengewhich shouldinvolveCassiothe Moorand Desdemona in one common ruin.
Iago wasartfuland had studied human nature deeplyand he knewthat ofall the torments which afflict the mind of man (and farbeyondbodily torture) the pains of jealousy were the mostintolerableand had the sorest sting. If he could succeed inmakingOthello jealous of Cassio he thought it would be anexquisiteplot of revenge and might end in the death of Cassio orOthelloor both; he cared not.
Thearrival of the general and his lady in Cyprusmeeting withnews ofthe dispersion of the enemy's fleetmade a sort ofholiday inthe island. Everybody gave himself up to feasting andmakingmerry. Wine flowed in abundanceand cups went round tothe healthof the black Othello and his lady the fair Desdemona.
Cassio hadthe direction of the guard that nightwith a chargefromOthello to keep the soldiers from excess in drinkingthatno brawlmight arise to fright the inhabitants or disgust themwith thenew-landed forces. That night Iago began his deep-laidplans ofmischief. Under color of loyalty and love to thegeneralhe enticed Cassio to make rather too free with thebottle (agreat fault in an officer upon guard). Cassio for atimeresistedbut he could not long hold out against the honestfreedomwhich Iago knew how to put onbut kept swallowing glassafterglass (as Iago still plied him with drink and encouragingsongs)and Cassio's tongue ran over in praise of the LadyDesdemonawhom he again and again toastedaffirming that shewas a mostexquisite lady. Until at last the enemy which he putinto hismouth stole away his brains; and upon some provocationgiven himby a fellow whom Iago had set onswords were drawnandMontanoa worthy officerwho interfered to appease thedisputewas wounded in the scuffle. The riot now began to begeneraland Iagowho had set on foot the mischiefwas foremostinspreading the alarmcausing the castle bell to be rung (as ifsomedangerous mutiny instead of a slight drunken quarrel hadarisen).The alarm-bell ringing awakened Othellowhodressingin a hurryand coming to the scene of actionquestioned Cassioof thecause.
Cassio wasnow come to himselfthe effect of the wine having alittlegone offbut was too much ashamed to reply; and Iagopretendinga great reluctance to accuse Cassiobutas it wereforcedinto it by Othellowho insisted to know the truthgavean accountof the whole matter (leaving out his own share in itwhichCassio was too far gone to remember) in such a manner aswhile heseemed to make Cassio's offense lessdid indeed make itappeargreater than it was. The result was that Othellowho wasa strictobserver of disciplinewas compelled to take awayCassio'splace of lieutenant from him.
Thus didIago's first artifice succeed completely; he had nowunderminedhis hated rival and thrust himout of his place; but afurtheruse was hereafter to be made of the adventure of thisdisastrousnight.
Cassiowhom this misfortune had entirely soberednow lamentedto hisseeming friend Iago that he should have been such a foolas totransform himself into a beast. He was undonefor howcould heask the general for his place again? He would tell himhe was adrunkard. He despised himself. Iagoaffecting to makelight ofitsaid that heor any man livingmight be drunk uponoccasion;it remained now to make the best of a bad bargain. Thegeneral'swife was now the generaland could do anything withOthello;that he were best to apply to the Lady Desdemona tomediatefor him with her lord; that she was of a frankobligingdispositionand would readily undertake a good office of thissort andset Cassio right again in the general's favor; and thenthis crackin their love would be made stronger than ever. A goodadvice ofIagoif it had not been given for wicked purposeswhich willafter appear.
Cassio didas Iago advised himand made application to the LadyDesdemonawho was easy to be won over in any honest suit; andshepromised Cassio that she should be his solicitor with herlordandrather die than give up his cause. This she immediatelyset aboutin so earnest and pretty a manner that Othellowho wasmortallyoffended with Cassiocould not put her off. When hepleadeddelayand that it was too soon to pardon such anoffendershe would not be beat backbut insisted that it shouldbe thenext nightor the morning afteror the next morning tothat atfarthest. Then she showed how penitent and humbled poorCassiowasand that his offense did not deserve so sharp acheck. Andwhen Othello still hung back:
"What!my lord" said she"that I should have so much to do toplead forCassioMichael Cassiothat came a-courting for youandoftentimeswhen I have spoken in dispraise of you has takenyour part!I count this but a little thing to ask of you. When Imean totry your love indeed I shall ask a weighty matter."
Othellocould deny nothing to such a pleaderand only requestingthatDesdemona would leave the time to himpromised to receiveMichaelCassio again in favor.
Ithappened that Othello and Iago had entered into the room whereDesdemonawasjust as Cassiowho had been imploring herintercessionwas departing at the opposite door; and Iagowhowas fullof artsaid in a low voiceas if to himself"I likenot that."Othello took no great notice of what he said; indeedtheconference which immediately took place with his lady put itout of hishead; but he remembered it afterward. For whenDesdemonawas goneIagoas if for mere satisfaction of histhoughtquestioned Othello whether Michael Cassiowhen Othellowascourting his ladyknew of his love. To this the generalansweringin the affirmativeand addingthat he had gonebetweenthem very often during the courtshipIago knitted hisbrowasif he had got fresh light on some terrible matterandcried"Indeed!" This brought into Othello's mind the words whichIago hadlet fall upon entering the room and seeing Cassio withDesdemona;and he began to think there was some meaning in allthisforhe deemed Iago to be a just manand full of love andhonestyand what in a false knave would be tricks in him seemedto be thenatural workings of an honest mindbig with somethingtoo greatfor utterance. And Othello prayed Iago to speak what heknew andto give his worst thoughts words.
"Andwhat" said Iago"if some thoughts very vile should haveintrudedinto my breastas where is the palace into which foulthings donot enter?" Then Iago went on to saywhat a pity itwere ifany trouble should arise to Othello out of his imperfectobservations;that it would not be for Othello's peace to knowhisthoughts; that people's good names were not to be taken awayfor slightsuspicions; and when Othello's curiosity was raisedalmost todistraction with these hints and scattered wordsIagoas if inearnest care for Othello's peace of mindbesought himto bewareof jealousy. With such art did this villain raisesuspicionsin the unguarded Othelloby the very caution which hepretendedto give him against suspicion.
"Iknow" said Othello"that my wife is fairloves companyandfeastingis free of speechsingsplaysand dances well; butwherevirtue isthese qualities are virtuous. I must have proofbefore Ithink her dishonest."
Then Iagoas if glad that Othello was slow to believe ill of hisladyfrankly declared that he had no proofbut begged Othelloto see herbehavior wellwhen Cassio was by; not to be jealousnor toosecure neitherfor that he (Iago) knew the dispositionsof theItalian ladieshis country-womenbetter than Othellocould do;and that in Venice the wives let Heaven see many pranksthey darednot show their husbands. Then he artfully insinuatedthatDesdemona deceived her father in marrying with Othelloandcarried itso closely that the poor old man thought thatwitchcrafthad been used. Othello was much moved with thisargumentwhich brought the matter home to himfor if she haddeceivedher father why might she not deceive her husband?
Iagobegged pardon for having moved him; but Othelloassuming anindifferencewhile he was really shaken with inward grief atIago'swordsbegged him to go onwhich Iago did with manyapologiesas if unwilling to produce anything against Cassiowhom hecalled his friend. He then came strongly to the point andremindedOthello how Desdemona had refused many suitable matchesof her ownclime and complexionand had married hima Moorwhichshowed unnatural in her and proved her to have a headstrongwill; andwhen her better judgment returnedhow probable it wasshe shouldfall upon comparing Othello with the fine forms andclearwhite complexions of the young Italians her countrymen. Heconcludedwith advising Othello to put off his reconcilement withCassio alittle longerand in the mean while to note with whatearnestnessDesdemona should intercede in his behalf; for thatmuch wouldbe seen in that. So mischievously did this artfulvillainlay his plots to turn the gentle qualities of thisinnocentlady into her destructionand make a net for her out ofher owngoodness to entrap herfirst setting Cassio on toentreather mediationand then out of that very mediationcontrivingstratagems for her ruin.
Theconference ended with Iago's begging Othello to account hiswifeinnocent until he had more decisive proof; and Othellopromisedto be patient; but from that moment the deceived Othellonevertasted content of mind. Poppynor the juice of mandragoranor allthe sleeping potions in the worldcould ever againrestore tohim that sweet rest which he had enjoyed butyesterday.His occupation sickened upon him. He no longer tookdelight inarms. His heartthat used to be roused at the sightof troopsand banners and battle arrayand would stir and leapat thesound of a drum or a trumpet or a neighing war-horseseemed tohave lost all that pride and ambition which are asoldier'svirtue; and his military ardor and all his old joysforsookhim. Sometimes he thought his wife honestand at timeshe thoughther not so; sometimes he thought Iago justand attimes hethought him not so; then he would wish that he had neverknown ofit; he was not the worse for her loving Cassioso longas he knewit not. Torn to pieces with these distractingthoughtshe once laid hold on Iago's throat and demanded proofofDesdemona's guiltor threatened instant death for his havingbeliedher. Iagofeigning indignation that his honesty should betaken fora viceasked Othello if he had not sometimes seen ahandkerchiefspotted with strawberries in his wife's hand.Othelloanswered that he had given her such a oneand that itwas hisfirst gift.
"Thatsame handkerchief" said Iago"did I see Michael Cassiothis daywipe his face with."
"Ifit be as you say" said Othello"I will not rest till awiderevengeswallow them up; and firstfor a token of your fidelityI expectthat Cassio shall be put to death within three days; andfor thatfair devil [meaning his lady] I will withdraw and devisesome swiftmeans of death for her."
Trifleslight as air are to the jealous proofs as strong as holywrit. Ahandkerchief of his wife's seen in Cassio's hand wasmotiveenough to the deluded Othello to pass sentence of deathupon thembothwithout once inquiring how Cassio came by it.Desdemonahad never given such a present to Cassionor wouldthisconstant lady have wronged her lord with doing so naughty athing asgiving his presents to another man; both Cassio andDesdemonawere innocent of any offense against Othello; but thewickedIagowhose spirits never slept in contrivance ofvillainyhad made his wife (a goodbut a weak woman) steal thishandkerchieffrom Desdemonaunder pretense of getting the workcopiedbut in reality to drop it in Cassio's waywhere he mightfind itand give a handle to Iago's suggestion that it wasDesdemona'spresent.
Othellosoon after meeting his wifepretended that he had aheadache(as he might indeed with truth)and desired her to lendhim herhandkerchief to hold to his temples. She did so.
"Notthis" said Othello"but that handkerchief I gave you."
Desdemonahad it not about her (for indeed it was stolenas wehaverelated).
"How?"said Othello"this is a fault indeed. That handkerchiefanEgyptian woman gave to my mother; the woman was a witch andcould readpeople's thoughts. She told my mother while she keptit itwould make her amiable and my father would love her; but ifshe lostit or gave it awaymy father's fancy would turn and hewouldloathe her as much as he had loved her. Shedyinggave itto meandbade meif I ever marriedto give it to my wife. Idid so.Take heed of it. Make it a darling as precious as youreye."
"Isit possible?" said the frighted lady.
"'Tistrue" continued Othello; "it is a magical handkerchief; asibyl thathad lived in the world two hundred yearsin a fit ofpropheticfury worked it; the silkworms that furnished the silkwerehallowedand it was dyed in a mummy of maidens' heartsconserved."
Desdemonahearing the wondrous virtues of the handkerchiefwasready todie with fearfor she plainly perceived she had lostitandwith itshe fearedthe affections of her husband. ThenOthellostarted and looked as if he were going to do some rashthingandstill he demanded the handkerchiefwhich when shecould notproduceshe tried to divert her husband from tooseriousthoughtsand cheerfully told him she saw all his talkabout thehandkerchief was only to put her off from her suitaboutMichael Cassiowhom she went on to praise (as Iago hadforetold)till Othello in perfect distraction burst out of theroomandthen Desdemonathough unwillinglybegan to suspectthat herlord was jealous.
What causeshe could have ministered to him she knew notandthen sheaccused herself for accusing the noble Othelloandthoughtto be surethat some untoward news from Venice or somestatetroubles had puddled his spirits and made his temper not sosweet asformerly. And she said"Men are not godsand we mustnot lookfor that observance from them when they are marriedwhich theyshow us on the bridal day." And she beshrewed herselffor sounkindly judging of his unkindness.
AgainOthello and Desdemona metand he accused her more plainlyof beingunfaithful and of loving another manbut he did notname whom.And Othello weptand Desdemona said"Alas! the heavyday! whydo you weep?" And Othello told her he could have borneall sortsof evils with fortitude--povertyand diseaseanddisgrace--buther infidelity had broken his heart. And he calledher a weedthat looked so fair and smelled so sweet that thesenseached at it; and wished she had never been born. And whenhe hadleft her this innocent lady was so stupefied with wonderat herlord's untrue suspicion of her that a weightlike sleepcame overherand she only desired her attendant to make her bedand to layher wedding-sheets upon itsaying that when peopleteachtheir babes they do it by gentle means and easy tasksandOthellomight have chid her so; for in good faith she was but achild whenshe was chidden. And this was all the complaint whichthisgentle lady made.
Desdemonabeing retired to bedexpecting her lord would followhersoonfell into a slumberthe effect of her troubledspiritswhen Othello entered the chamberfull of the blackpurposewhich he had meditatedof putting his lady to death. Butwhen hesaw her asleep he thought he would not shed her bloodnor scarthat white skin of hersmore white than alabaster. Buthe wasresolved she should dieelse (as he said) she would liveto betraymore men as she had done him. Then he kissed her forthe lasttime (as he said)and that kiss was so sweet that hemust needskiss her again; and he weptbut he said they werecrueltears.
Desdemonawas awakened with his kissesand she looked uponOthelloand she saw him gnaw his under lip and roll his eyesand sheknew he was always fatal when he looked so; and he badeherprepare for death and to say her prayersfor he would notkill hersoul. And this innocent wifeas she lay at his mercybegged forcompassion and to know her faultand then he namedCassioand the handkerchief which (he said) she had given him;and as theguiltless lady was proceeding to clear herself hesuddenlywould hear no morebutcovering her up in thebedclothesstifled her till she died.
In thisinstant of time was brought into the house Cassiowoundedand bleedingwhom Iago had set one of his creatures ontoassassinate; but the fellow not succeeding in his attempt tokillCassio (whom he woundedbut not mortally)and being him-selfkilled by Iago to prevent discoveryin his pockets werefoundcertain letterswhich made the guilt of Iagoand theinnocenceof Cassioclear beyond all doubt; and Cassio now cameto begpardon of Othelloand to ask wherein he had offended himthat hehad employed Iago to murder him.
Thisdiscovery was as a thunderstroke to Othellowho now plainlysaw thathe was no better than a murdererand that his wife(poorinnocent lady) had been ever faithful to him; the extremeanguish ofwhich discovery making life insupportablehe fellupon hisswordand throwing himself upon the body of his dearinjuredladyexpired.
These rashacts raised much passion of horror and amazement inthebystandersfor Othello had borne a fair reputationand tillhe waswrought upon by the arts of a villainwhich his own noblenaturenever gave him leave to suspecthe was a loving and adotinghusband. He had loved not wiselybut too well; and hismanly eyes(when be learned his mistake)though not used to weepon everysmall occasiondropped tears as fast as the Arabiantreestheir gum. And when he was dead all his former merits andhisvaliant acts were remembered. Nothing now remained for hissuccessorbut to put the utmost censure of the law in forceagainstIagowho was executed with strict tortures; and to sendword tothe state of Venice of the lamentable death of theirrenownedgeneral.
PericlesPrince of Tyrebecame a voluntary exile from hisdominionsto avert the dreadful calamities which Antiochusthewickedemperor of Greecethreatened to bring upon his subjectsand cityof Tyrein revenge for a discovery which the prince hadmade of ashocking deed which the emperor had done in secret; ascommonlyit proves dangerous to pry into the hidden crimes ofgreatones. Leaving the government of his people in the hands ofhis ableand honest ministerHelicanusPericles set sail fromTyrethinking to absent himself till the wrath of Antiochuswhowasmightyshould be appeased.
The firstplace which the prince directed his course to wasTarsusand hearing that the city of Tarsus was at that timesufferingunder a severe faminehe took with him a store ofprovisionsfor its relief. On his arrival he found the cityreduced tothe utmost distress; andhe coming like a messengerfromheaven with his unhoped-for succorCleonthe governor ofTarsuswelcomed him with boundless thanks. Pericles had not beenhere manydays before letters came from his faithful ministerwarninghim that it was not safe for him to stay at TarsusforAntiochusknew of his abodeand by secret emissaries despatchedfor thatpurpose sought his life. Upon receipt of these lettersPericlesput out to sea againamid the blessings and prayers ofa wholepeople who had been fed by his bounty.
He had notsailed far when his ship was overtaken by a dreadfulstormandevery man on board perished except Pericleswho wascast bythe sea waves naked on an unknown shorewhere he had notwanderedlong before he met with some poor fishermenwho invitedhim totheir homesgiving him clothes and provisions. Thefishermentold Pericles the name of their country was Pentapolisand thattheir king was Simonidescommonly called the goodSimonidesbecause of his peaceable reign and good government.From themhe also learned that King Simonides had a fair youngdaughterand that the following day was her birthdaywhen agrandtournament was to be held at courtmany princes andknightsbeing come from all parts to try their skill in arms forthe loveof Thaisathis fair princess. While the prince waslisteningto this accountand secretly lamenting the loss of hisgoodarmorwhich disabled him from making one among thesevaliantknightsanother fisherman brought in a complete suit ofarmor thathe had taken out of the sea with his fishing-netwhichproved to be the very armor he had lost. When Periclesbeheld hisown armor he said: "ThanksFortune; after all mycrossesyou give me somewhat to repair myself This armor wasbequeathedto me by my dead fatherfor whose dear sake I have soloved itthat whithersoever I went I still have kept it by meand therough sea that parted it from mehaving now become calmhath givenit back againfor which I thank itforsince I havemyfather's gift againI think my shipwreck no misfortune."
The nextday Periclesclad in his brave father's armorrepairedto theroyal court of Simonideswhere he performed wonders atthetournamentvanquishing with ease all the brave knights andvaliantprinces who contended with him in arms for the honor ofThaisa'slove. When brave warriors contended at court tournamentsfor thelove of kings' daughtersif one proved sole victor overall therestit was usual for the great lady for whose sakethesedeeds of valor were undertaken to bestow all her respectupon theconquerorand Thaisa did not depart from this customfor shepresently dismissed all the princes and knights whomPericleshad vanquishedand distinguished him by her especialfavor andregardcrowning him with the wreath of victoryasking ofthat day's happiness; and Pericles became a mostpassionatelover of this beauteous princess from the first momenthe beheldher.
The goodSimonides so well approved of the valor and noblequalitiesof Pericleswho was indeed a most accomplishedgentlemanand well learned in all excellent artsthat though heknew notthe rank of this royal stranger (for Pericles for fearofAntiochus gave out that he was a private gentleman of Tyre)yet didnot Simonides disdain to accept of the valiant unknownfor ason-in-lawwhen he perceived his daughter's affectionswerefirmly fixed upon him.
Pericleshad not been many months married to Thaisa before hereceivedintelligence that his enemy Antiochus was deadand thathissubjects of Tyreimpatient of his long absencethreatenedto revoltand talked of placing Helicanus upon his vacant throne.This newscame from Helicanus himselfwhobeing a loyal subjectto hisroyal masterwould not accept of the high dignityofferedhimbut sent to let Pericles know their intentionsthathe mightreturn home and resume his lawful right. It was matterof greatsurprise and joy to Simonides to find that hisson-in-law(the obscure knight) was the renowned Prince of Tyre;yet againhe regretted that he was not the private gentleman hesupposedhim to beseeing that he must now part both with hisadmiredson-in-law and his beloved daughterwhom he feared totrust tothe perils of the seabecause Thaisa was with child;andPericles himself wished her to remain with her father tillafter herconfinement; but the poor lady so earnestly desired togo withher husband that at last they consentedhoping she wouldreach Tyrebefore she was brought to bed.
The seawas no friendly element to unhappy Periclesfor longbeforethey reached Tyre another dreadful tempest arosewhich soterrifiedThaisa that she was taken illand in a short space oftime hernurseLychoridacame to Pericles with a little childin herarmsto tell the prince the sad tidings that his wifedied themoment her little babe was born. She held the babetoward itsfathersaying:
"Hereis a thing too young for such a place. This is the child ofyour deadqueen."
No tonguecan tell the dreadful sufferings of Pericles when heheard hiswife was dead. As soon as he could speak he said:
"Oyou godswhy do you make us love your goodly gifts and thensnatchthose gifts away?"
"Patiencegood sir" said Lychorida"here is all that is leftalive ofour dead queena little daughterand for your child'ssake bemore manly. Patiencegood sireven for the sake of thispreciouscharge."
Periclestook the newborn infant in his armsand he said to thelittlebabe: "Now may your life be mildfor a more blusterousbirth hadnever babe! May your condition be mild and gentleforyou havehad the rudest welcome that ever prince's child did meetwith! Maythat which follows be happyfor you have had aschiding anativity as fireairwaterearthand heaven couldmake toherald you from the womb! Even at the firstyour loss"meaning inthe death of her mother"is more than all the joyswhich youshall find upon this earth to which you are come a newvisitorshall be able to recompense."
The stormstill continuing to rage furiouslyand the sailorshaving asuperstition that while a dead body remained in the shipthe stormwould never ceasethey came to Pericles to demand thathis queenshould be thrown overboard; and they said:
"Whatcouragesir? God save you!"
"Courageenough" said the sorrowing prince. "I do not fear thestorm; ithas done to me its worst; yet for the love of this poorinfantthis fresh new seafarerI wish the storm was over."
"Sir"said the sailors"your queen must overboard. The seaworkshighthe wind is loudand the storm will not abate tillthe shipbe cleared of the dead."
ThoughPericles knew how weak and unfounded this superstitionwasyethe patiently submittedsaying: "As you think meet. Thenshe mustoverboardmost wretched queen!"
And nowthis unhappy prince went to take a last view of his dearwifeandas he looked on his Thaisa he said: "A terriblechildbedhast thou hadmy dear; no lightno fire; theunfriendlyelements forget thee utterlynor have I time to bringtheehallowed to thy gravebut must cast thee scarcely coffinedinto theseawhere for a monument upon thy bones the hummingwatersmust overwhelm thy corpselying with simple shells. OLychoridabid Nestor bring me spicesinkand papermy casketand myjewelsand bid Nicandor bring me the satin coffin. Laythe babeupon the pillowand go about this suddenlyLychoridawhile Isay a priestly farewell to my Thaisa."
Theybrought Pericles a large chestin which (wrapped in a satinshroud) heplaced his queenand sweet-smelling spices he strewedover herand beside her he placed rich jewelsand a writtenpapertelling who she was and praying if haply any one shouldfind thechest which contained the body of his wife they wouldgive herburial; and then with his own hands he cast the chestinto thesea. When the storm was overPericles ordered thesailors tomake for Tarsus. "For" said Pericles"the babecannothold out till we come to Tyre. At Tarsus I will leave itat carefulnursing."
After thattempestuous night when Thaisa was thrown into the seaand whileit was yet early morningas Cerimona worthygentlemanof Ephesus and a most skilful physicianwas standingby theseasidehis servants brought to him a chestwhich theysaid thesea waves had thrown on the land.
"Inever saw" said one of them"so huge a billow as cast itonourshore."
Cerimonordered the chest to be conveyed to his own houseandwhen itwas opened he beheld with wonder the body of a young andlovelylady; and the sweet-smelling spices and rich casket ofjewelsmade him conclude it was some great person who was thusstrangelyentombed. Searching fartherhe discovered a paperfrom whichhe learned that the corpse which lay as dead beforehim hadbeen a queenand wife to PericlesPrince of Tyre; andmuchadmiring at the strangeness of that accidentand morepityingthe husband who had lost this sweet ladyhe said:"Ifyou are livingPericlesyou have a heart that even crackswith woe."Thenobserving attentively Thaisa's facehe saw howfresh andunlike death her looks wereand he said"They weretoo hastythat threw you into the sea"; for he did not believeher to bedead. He ordered a fire to be madeand proper cordialsto bebroughtand soft music to be playedwhich might help tocalm heramazed spirits if she should revive; and he said tothose whocrowded round herwondering at what they saw"OIpray yougentlemengive her air; this queen will live; she hasnot beenentranced above five hours; and seeshe begins to blowinto lifeagain; she is alive; beholdher eyelids move; thisfaircreature will live to make us weep to hear her fate."
Thaisa hadnever diedbut after the birth of her little baby hadfalleninto a deep swoon which made all that saw her conclude herto bedead; and now by the care of this kind gentleman she oncemorerevived to light and life; andopening her eyesshe said:
"Wheream I? Where is my lord? What world is this?"
By gentledegrees Cerimon let her understand what had befallenher; andwhen he thought she was enough recovered to bear thesight heshowed her the paper written by her husbandand thejewels;and she looked on the paper and said:
"Itis my lord's writing. That I was shipped at sea I wellrememberbut whether there delivered of my babeby the holygods Icannot rightly say; but since my wedded lord I nevershall seeagainI will put on a vestal livery and never morehave joy."
"Madam"said Cerimon"if you purpose as you speakthe templeof Dianais not far distant from hence; there you may abide as avestal.Moreoverif you pleasea niece of mine shall thereattendyou." This proposal was accepted with thanks by Thaisa;and whenshe was perfectly recoveredCerimon placed her in thetemple ofDianawhere she became a vestal or priestess of thatgoddessand passed her days in sorrowing for her husband'ssupposedlossand in the most devout exercises of those times.
Periclescarried his young daughter (whom he named Marinabecauseshe was born at sea) to Tarsusintending to leave herwithCleonthe governor of that cityand his wife Dionysiathinkingfor the good he had done to them at the time of theirfaminethey would be kind to his little motherless daughter.When Cleonsaw Prince Pericles and heard of the great loss whichhadbefallen him he said"Ohyour sweet queenthat it hadpleasedHeaven you could have brought her hither to have blessedmy eyeswith the sight of her!"
Periclesreplied: "We must obey the powers above us. Should Irage androar as the sea does in which my Thaisa hasyet the endmust be asit is. My gentle babeMarina hereI must charge yourcharitywith her. I leave her the infant of your carebeseechingyou togive her princely training." And then turning to Cleon'swifeDionysiahe said"Good madammake me blessed in yourtare inbringing up my child."
And sheanswered"I have a child myself who shall not be moredear to myrespect than yoursmy lord."
And Cleonmade the like promisesaying: "Your noble servicesPrincePericlesin feeding my whole people with your corn (forwhich intheir prayers they daily remember you) must in yourchild bethought on. If I should neglect your childmy wholepeoplethat were by you relieved would force me to my duty; butif to thatI need a spurthe gods revenge it on me and mine tothe end ofgeneration."
Periclesbeing thus assured that his child would be carefullyattendedtoleft her to the protection of Cleon and his wifeDionysiaand with her he left the nurseLychorida. When he wentaway thelittle Marina knew not her lossbut Lychorida weptsadly atparting with her royal master.
"Ohno tearsLychorida" said Pericles; "no tears; look toyourlittlemistresson whose grace you may depend hereafter."
Periclesarrived in safety at Tyreand was once more settled inthe quietpossession of his thronewhile his woeful queenwhomhe thoughtdeadremained at Ephesus. Her little babe Marinawhom thishapless mother had never seenwas brought up by Cleonin amanner suitable to her high birth. He gave her the mostcarefuleducationso that by the time Marina attained the age offourteenyears the most deeply learned men were not more studiedin thelearning of those times than was Marina. She sang like oneimmortaland danced as goddess-likeand with her needle she wasso skilfulthat she seemed to compose nature's own shapes inbirdsfruitsor flowersthe natural roses being scarcely morelike toeach other than they were to Marina's silken flowers. Butwhen shehad gained from education all these graces which madeher thegeneral wonderDionysiathe wife of Cleonbecame hermortalenemy from jealousyby reason that her own daughterfromtheslowness of her mindwas not able to attain to thatperfectionwherein Marina excelled; and finding that all praisewasbestowed on Marinawhile her daughterwho was of the sameage andhad been educated with the same care as Marinathoughnot withthe same successwas in comparison disregardedsheformed aproject to remove Marina out of the wayvainlyimaginingthat her untoward daughter would be more respected whenMarina wasno more seen. To encompass this she employed a man tomurderMarinaand she well timed her wicked designwhenLychoridathe faithful nursehad just died. Dionysia wasdiscoursingwith the man she had commanded to commit this murderwhen theyoung Marina was weeping over the dead Lychorida.Leoninethe man she employed to do this bad deedthough he wasa verywicked mancould hardly be persuaded to undertake itsohad Marinawon all hearts to love her. He said:
"Sheis a goodly creature!"
"Thefitter then the gods should have her" replied her mercilessenemy."Here she comes weeping for the death of her nurseLychorida.Are you resolved to obey me?"
Leoninefearing to disobey herreplied"I am resolved." Andsointhat one short sentencewas the matchless Marina doomedto anuntimely death. She now approachedwith a basket offlowers inher handwhich she said she would daily strew overthe graveof good Lychorida. The purple violet and the marigoldshould asa carpet hang upon her gravewhile summer days didlast.
"Alasfor met" she said"poor unhappy maidborn in a tempestwhen mymother died. This world to me is like a lasting stormhurryingme from my friends."
"HownowMarina" said the dissembling Dionysia"do you weepalone? Howdoes it chance my daughter is not with you? Do notsorrow forLychorida; you have a nurse in me. Your beauty isquitechanged with this unprofitable woe. Comegive me yourflowers--thesea air will spoil them--and walk with Leonine; theair isfineand will enliven you. ComeLeoninetake her by thearm andwalk with her."
"Nomadam" said Marina"I pray you let me not deprive you ofyourservant"; for Leonine was one of Dionysia's attendants.
"Comecome" said this artful womanwho wished for a pretenseto leaveher alone with Leonine"I love the princeyour fatherand I loveyou. We every day expect your father here; and when hecomes andfinds you so changed by grief from the paragon ofbeauty wereported youhe will think we have taken no care ofyou. GoIpray youwalkand be cheerful once again. Be carefulof thatexcellent complexion which stole the hearts of old andyoung."
Marinabeing thus importunedsaid"WellI will gobut yet Ihave nodesire to it."
AsDionysia walked away she said to Leonine"Remember what Ihavesaid!" shocking wordsfor their meaning was that he shouldrememberto kill Marina.
Marinalooked toward the seaher birthplaceand said"Is thewindwesterly that blows?"
"WhenI was born the wind was north" said she; and then thestorm andtempest and all her father's sorrowsand her mother'sdeathcame full into her mindand she said"My fatherasLychoridatold medid never fearbut criedCOURAGEGOODSEAMENtothe sailorsgalling his princely hands with theropesandclasping to the mastshe endured a sea that almostsplit thedeck."
"Whenwas this?" said Leonine.
"WhenI was born" replied Marina. "Never were wind and wavesmoreviolent." And then she described the stormthe action ofthesailorsthe boatswain's whistleand the loud call of themasterwhich" said she"trebled the confusion of the ship."
Lychoridahad so often recounted to Marina the story of herhaplessbirth that these things seemed ever present to herimagination.But here Leonine interrupted her with desiring herto say herprayers. "What mean you?" said Marinawho began tofearsheknew not why.
"Ifyou require a little space for prayerI grant it" saidLeonine;"but be not tedious; the gods are quick of ear and I amsworn todo my work in haste."
"Willyou kill me?" said Marina. "Alas! why?"
"Tosatisfy my lady" replied Leonine.
"Whywould she have me killed?" said Marina. "Nowas I canrememberI never hurt her in all my life. I never spake bad wordnor didany ill turn to any living creature. Believe me nowIneverkilled a mouse nor hurt a fly. I trod upon a worm onceagainst mywillbut I wept for it. How have I offended?"
Themurderer replied"My commission is not to reason on thedeedbutto do it." And he was just going to kill her whencertainpirates happened to land at that very momentwhoseeingMarinabore her off as a prize to their ship.
The piratewho had made Marina his prize carried her to Mityleneand soldher for a slavewherethough in that humble conditionMarinasoon became known throughout the whole city of Mitylenefor herbeauty and her virtuesand the person to whom she wassoldbecame rich by the money she earned for him. She taughtmusicdancingand fine needleworksand the money she got byherscholars she gave to her master and mistress; and the fame ofherlearning and her great industry came to the knowledge ofLysimachusa young nobleman who was governor of MityleneandLysimachuswent himself to the house where Marina dweltto seethisparagon of excellence whom all the city praised so highly.Herconversation delighted Lysimachus beyond measureforthough hehad heard much of this admired maidenhe did notexpect tofind her so sensible a ladyso virtuousand so goodas heperceived Marina to be; and he left hersaying he hopedshe wouldpersevere in her industrious and virtuous courseandthat ifever she heard from him again it should be for her good.Lysimachusthought Marina such a miracle for sensefinebreedingand excellent qualitiesas well as for beauty and alloutwardgracesthat he wished to marry herandnotwithstandingher humblesituationhe hoped to find that her birth was noble;butwhenever when they asked her parentage she would sit stilland weep.
Meantimeat TarsusLeoninefearing the anger of Dionysiatoldher he hadkilled Marina; and that wicked woman gave out that shewas deadand made a pretended funeral for herand erected astatelymonument; and shortly after Periclesaccompanied by hisloyalminister Helicanusmade a voyage from Tyre to Tarsusonpurpose tosee his daughterintending to take her home with him.And henever having beheld her since he left her an infant in thecare ofCleon and his wifehow did this good prince rejoice atthethought of seeing this dear child of his buried queen! Butwhen theytold him Marina was deadand showed the monument theyhaderected for hergreat was the misery this most wretchedfatherenduredandnot being able to bear the sight of thatcountrywhere his last hope and only memory of his dear Thaisawasentombedhe took ship and hastily departed from Tarsus. Fromthe day heentered the ship a dull and heavy melancholy seizedhim. Henever spokeand seemed totally insensible to everythingaroundhim.
Sailingfrom Tarsus to Tyrethe ship in its course passed byMitylenewhere Marina dwelt; the governor of which placeLysimachusobserving this royal vessel from the shoreanddesirousof knowing who was on boardwent in a barge to the sideof theshipto satisfy his curiosity. Helicanus received himverycourteously and told him that the ship came from Tyreandthat theywere conducting thither Periclestheir prince. "A mansir"said Helicanus"who has not spoken to any one these threemonthsnor taken any sustenancebut just to prolong his grief;it wouldbe tedious to repeat the whole ground of his distemperbut themain springs from the loss of a beloved daughter and awife."
Lysimachusbegged to see this afflicted princeand when hebeheldPericles he saw he had been once a goodly personand hesaid tohim: "Sir kingall hail! The gods preserve you! Hailroyalsir!"
But invain Lysimachus spoke to him. Pericles made no answernordid heappear to perceive any stranger approached. And thenLysimachusbethought him of the peerless maid Marinathat haplywith hersweet tongue she might win some answer from the silentprince;and with the consent of Helicanus he sent for Marinaandwhen sheentered the ship in which her own father sat motionlesswithgriefthey welcomed her on board as if they had known shewas theirprincess; and they cried:
"Sheis a gallant lady."
Lysimachuswas well pleased to hear their commendationsand hesaid:
"Sheis such a one thatwere I well assured she came of noblebirthIwould wish no better choice and think me rarely blessedin awife." And then he addressed her in courtly termsas if thelowlyseeming maid had been the high-born lady he wished to findhercalling her FAIR AND BEAUTIFUL MARINAtelling her a greatprince onboard that ship had fallen into a sad and mournfulsilence;andas if Marina had the power of conferring healthandfelicityhe begged she would undertake to cure the royalstrangerof his melancholy.
"Sir"said Marina"I will use my utmost skill in his recoveryprovidednone but I and my maid be suffered to come near him."
Shewhoat Mitylene had so carefully concealed her birthashamed totell that one of royal ancestry was now a slavefirstbegan tospeak to Pericles of the wayward changes in her ownfatetelling him from what a high estate herself had fallen. Asif she hadknown it was her royal father she stood beforeallthe wordsshe spoke were of her own sorrows; but her reason forso doingwas that she knew nothing more wins the attention of theunfortunatethan the recital of some sad calamity to match theirown. Thesound of her sweet voice aroused the drooping prince; helifted uphis eyeswhich had been so long fixed and motionless;andMarinawho was the perfect image of her motherpresented tohis amazedsight the features of his dead queen. The long silentprince wasonce more heard to speak.
"Mydearest wife" said the awakened Pericles"was like thismaidandsuch a one might my daughter have been. My queen'ssquarebrowsher stature to an inchas wand-like straightassilver-voicedher eyes as jewel-like. Where do you liveyoungmaid?Report your parentage. I think you said you had been tossedfrom wrongto injuryand that you thought your griefs wouldequalmineif both were opened."
"Somesuch thing I said" replied Marina"and said no more thanwhat mythoughts did warrant me as likely."
"Tellme your story" answered Pericles. "If I find you haveknown thethousandth part of my endurance you have borne yoursorrowslike a man and I have suffered like a girl; yet you dolook likePatience gazing on kings' graves and smiling extremelyout ofact. How lost you your namemy most kind virgin? RecountyourstoryI beseech you. Comesit by me."
How wasPericles surprised when she said her name was MARINAforhe knew itwas no usual namebut had been invented by himselffor hisown child to signify SEA-BORN.
"OhI am mocked" said he"and you are sent hither by someincensedgod to make the world laugh at me."
"Patiencegood sir" said Marina"or I must cease here."
"Na"said Pericles"I will be patient. You little know how youdo startlemeto call yourself Marina."
"Thename" she replied"was given me by one that had somepowermyfather and a king."
"Howa king's daughter!" said Pericles"and called Marina! Butare youflesh and blood? Are you no fairy? Speak on. Where wereyou bornand wherefore called Marina?"
Shereplied: "I was called Marina because I was born at sea. Mymother wasthe daughter of a king; she died the minute I wasbornasmy good nurse Lychorida has often told meweeping. Thekingmyfatherleft me at Tarsus till the cruel wife of Cleonsought tomurder me. A crew of pirates came and rescued me andbrought mehere to Mitylene. Butgood sirwhy do you weep? Itmay be youthink me an impostor. But indeedsirI am thedaughterto King Periclesif good King Pericles be living."
ThenPericlesterrified as he seemed at his own sudden joyanddoubtfulif this could be realloudly called for his attendantswhorejoiced at the sound of their beloved king's voice; and hesaid toHelicanus:
"OHelicanusstrike megive me a gashput me to present painlest thisgreat sea of joys rushing upon me overbear the shoresof mymortality. Ohcome hitherthou that wast born at seaburied atTarsusand found at sea again. O Helicanusdown onyourkneesthank the holy gods! This is Marina. Now blessings ontheemychild! Give me fresh garmentsmine own Helicanus! Sheis notdead at Tarsus as she should have been by the savageDionysia.She shall tell you allwhen you shall kneel to her andcall heryour very Princess. Who is this?" (observing Lysimachusfor thefirst time).
"Sir"said Helicanus"it is the governor of Mitylenewhohearing ofyour melancholycame to see you."
"Iembrace yousir" said Pericles. "Give me my robes! I amwellwithbeholding. O Heaven bless my girl! But harkwhat music isthat?"--fornoweither sent by some kind god or by his owndelightedfancy deceivedhe seemed to hear soft music.
"MylordI hear none" replied Helicanus.
"None?"said Pericles. "Whyit is the music of the spheres."
As therewas no music to be heardLysimachus concluded that thesudden joyhad unsettled the prince's understandingand he said"Itis not good to cross him; let him have his way." And thenthey toldhim they heard the music; and he now complaining of adrowsyslumber coming over himLysimachus persuaded him to reston acouchandplacing a pillow under his headhequiteoverpoweredwith excess of joysank into a sound sleepandMarinawatched in silence by the couch of her sleeping parent.
While hesleptPericles dreamed a dream which made him resolveto go toEphesus. His dream was that Dianathe goddess of theEphesiansappeared to him and commanded him to go to her templeatEphesusand there before her altar to declare the story ofhis lifeand misfortunes; and by her silver bow she swore that ifheperformed her injunction he should meet with some rarefelicity.When he awokebeing miraculously refreshedhe toldhis dreamand that his resolution was to obey the bidding of thegoddess.
ThenLysimachus invited Pericles to come on shore and refreshhimselfwith such entertainment as he should find at Mitylenewhichcourteous offer Pericles acceptingagreed to tarry withhim forthe space of a day or two. During which time we may wellsupposewhat feastingswhat rejoicingswhat costly shows andentertainmentsthe governor made in Mitylene to greet the royalfather ofhis dear Marinawhom in her obscure fortunes he had sorespected.Nor did Pericles frown upon Lysimachus's suitwhen heunderstoodhow he had honored his child in the days of her lowestateand that Marina showed herself not averse to hisproposals;only he made it a conditionbefore he gave hisconsentthat they should visit with him the shrine of theEphesianDiana; to whose temple they shortly after all threeundertooka voyage; andthe goddess herself filling their sailswithprosperous windsafter a few weeks they arrived in safetyatEphesus.
There wasstanding near the altar of the goddesswhen Pericleswith histrain entered the templethe good Cerimon (now grownveryaged)who had restored Thaisathe wife of Periclestolife; andThaisanow a priestess of the templewas standingbefore thealtar; and though the many years he had passed insorrow forher loss had much altered PericlesThaisa thought sheknew herhusband's featuresand when he approached the altar andbegan tospeakshe remembered his voiceand listened to hiswords withwonder and a joyful amazement. And these were thewords thatPericles spoke before the altar:
"HailDiana! to perform thy just commands I here confess myselfthe Princeof Tyrewhofrighted from my countryat Pentapoliswedded thefair Thaisa. She died at sea in childbedbut broughtforth amaid-child called Marina. She at Tarsus was nursed withDionysiawho at fourteen years thought to kill herbut herbetterstars brought her to Mityleneby whose shores as I sailedher goodfortunes brought this maid on boardwhere by her mostclearremembrance she made herself known to be my daughter."
Thaisaunable to bear the transports which his words had raisedin hercried out"You areyou areO royal Pericles" andfainted.
"Whatmeans this woman?" said Pericles. "She dies! Gentlemenhelp."
"Sir"said Cerimon"if you have told Diana's altar truethisis yourwife."
"Reverendgentlemanno" said Pericles. "I threw her overboardwith thesevery arms."
Cerimonthen recounted howearly one tempestuous morningthislady wasthrown upon the Ephesian shore; howopening the coffinhe foundtherein rich jewels and a paper; howhappilyherecoveredher and placed her here in Diana's temple.
And nowThaisabeing restored from her swoonsaid: "O my lordare younot Pericles? Like him you speaklike him you are. Didyou notname a tempesta birthand death?"
Heastonishedsaid"The voice of dead Thaisa!"
"ThatThaisa am I" she replied"supposed dead and drowned."
"Otrue Diana!" exclaimed Periclesin a passion of devoutastonishment.
"Andnow" said Thaisa"I know you better. Such a ring as I seeon yourfinger did the king my father give you when we with tearspartedfrom him at Pentapolis."
"Enoughyou gods!" cried Pericles. "Your present kindness makesmy pastmiseries sport. OhcomeThaisabe buried a second timewithinthese arms."
And Marinasaid"My heart leaps to be gone into my mother'sbosom."
Then didPericles show his daughter to her mothersaying"Lookwho kneelshereflesh of thy fleshthy burthen at seaandcalledMarina because she was yielded there."
"Blessedand my own!" said Thaisa. And while she hung inrapturousjoy over her child Pericles knelt before the altarsaying:
"PureDianabless thee for thy vision. For this I will offeroblationsnightly to thee."
And thenand there did Pericleswith the consent of Thaisasolemnlyaffiance their daughterthe virtuous Marinato thewell-deservingLysimachus in marriage.
Thus havewe seen in Pericleshis queenand daughtera famousexample ofvirtue assailed by calamity (through the sufferance ofHeaventoteach patience and constancy to men)under the sameguidancebecoming finally successful and triumphing over chanceandchange. In Helicanus we have beheld a notable pattern oftruthoffaithand loyaltywhowhen he might have succeededto athronechose rather to recall the rightful owner to hispossessionthan to become great by another's wrong. In the worthyCerimonwho restored Thaisa to lifewe are instructed howgoodnessdirected by knowledgein bestowing benefits uponmankindapproaches to the nature of the gods. It only remains tobe toldthat Dionysiathe wicked wife of Cleonmet with an endproportionableto her deserts. The inhabitants of Tarsuswhenher cruelattempt upon Marina was knownrising in a body torevengethe daughter of their benefactorand setting fire to thepalace ofCleonburned both him and her and their wholehouseholdthe gods seeming well pleased that so foul a murderthough butintentional and never carried into actshould bepunishedin a way befitting its enormity.