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TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE
CHARLES AND MARY LAMB
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT's DREAM
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
AS YOU LIKE IT
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA
MERCHANT OF VENICE
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
TAMING OF THE SHREW
COMEDY OF ERRORS
MEASURE FOR MEASURE
TWELFTH NIGHT; ORWHAT YOU WILL
TIMON OF ATHENS
ROMEO AND JULIET
HAMLETPRINCE OF DENMARK
PERICLESPRINCE OF TYRE
The following Tales are meant to be submitted to the young reader
as an introduction to the study of Shakespearefor which purpose
his words are used whenever it seemed possible to bring them in;
and in whatever has been added to give them the regular form of a
connected storydiligent care has been taken to select such
words as might least interrupt the effect of the beautiful
English tongue in which he wrote: thereforewords introduced
into our language since his time have been as far as possible
In those Tales which have been taken from the Tragediesthe
young readers will perceivewhen they come to see the source
from which these stories are derivedthat Shakespeare's own
wordswith little alterationrecur very frequently in the
narrative as well as in the dialogue; but in those made from the
Comedies the writers found themselves scarcely ever able to turn
his words into the narrative form: therefore it is feared that
in themdialogue has been made use of too frequently for young
people not accustomed to the dramatic form of writing. But this
faultif it be a faulthas been caused by an earnest wish to
give as much of Shakespeare's own words as possible: and if the
He saidand "She said the question and the reply, should
sometimes seem tedious to their young ears, they must pardon it,
because it was the only way in which could be given to them a few
hints and little foretastes of the great pleasure which awaits
them in their elder years, when they come to the rich treasures
from which these small and valueless coins are extracted;
pretending to no other merit than as faint and imperfect stamps
of Shakespeare's matchless image. Faint and imperfect images they
must be called, because the beauty of his language is too
frequently destroyed by the necessity of changing many of his
excellent words into words far less expressive of his true sense,
to make it read something like prose; and even in some few
places, where his blank verse is given unaltered, as hoping from
its simple plainness to cheat the young readers into the belief
that they are reading prose, yet still his language being
transplanted from its own natural soil and wild poetic garden, it
must want much of its native beauty.
It has been wished to make these Tales easy reading for very
young children. To the utmost of their ability the writers have
constantly kept this in mind; but the subjects of most of them
made this a very difficult task. It was no easy matter to give
the histories of men and women in terms familiar to the
apprehension of a very young mind. For young ladies, too, it has
been the intention chiefly to write; because boys being generally
permitted the use of their fathers' libraries at a much earlier
age than girls are, they frequently have the best scenes of
Shakespeare by heart, before their sisters are permitted to look
into this manly book; and, therefore, instead of recommending
these Tales to the perusal, of young gentlemen who can read them
so much better in the originals, their kind assistance is rather
requested in explaining to their sisters such parts as are
hardest for them to understand: and when they have helped them to
get over the difficulties, then perhaps they will read to them
(carefully selecting what is proper for a young sister's ear)
some passage which has pleased them in one of these stories, in
the very words of the scene from which it is taken; and it is
hoped they will find that the beautiful extracts, the select
passages, they may choose to give their sisters in this way will
be much better relished and understood from their having some
notion of the general story from one of these imperfect
abridgments;--which if they be fortunately so done as to prove
delight to any of the young readers, it is hoped that no worse
effect will result than to make them wish themselves a little
older, that they may be allowed to read the Plays at full length
(such a wish will be neither peevish nor irrational). When time
and leave of judicious friends shall put them into their hands,
they will discover in such of them as are here abridged (not to
mention almost as many more, which are left untouched) many
surprising events and turns of fortune, which for their infinite
variety could not be contained in this little book, besides a
world of sprightly and cheerful characters, both men and women,
the humor of which it was feared would be lost if it were
attempted to reduce the length of them.
What these Tales shall have been to the YOUNG readers, that and
much more it is the writers' wish that the true Plays of
Shakespeare may prove to them in older years--enrichers of the
fancy, strengtheners of virtue, a withdrawing from all selfish
and mercenary thoughts, a lesson of all sweet and honorable
thoughts d actions, to teach courtesy, benignity, generosity,
humanity: for of examples, teaching these virtues, his pages are
There was a certain island in the sea, the only inhabitants of
which were an old man, whose name was Prospero, and his daughter
Miranda, a very beautiful young lady. She came to this island so
young that she had no memory of having seen any other human face
than her father's.
They lived in a cave or cell, made out of a rock; it was divided
into several apartments, one of which Prospero called his study;
there he kept his books, which chiefly treated of magic, a study
at that time much affected by all learned men: and the knowledge
of this art he found very useful to him; for being thrown by a
strange chance upon this island, which had been enchanted by a
witch called Sycorax, who died there a short time before his
arrival, Prospero, by virtue of his art, released many good
spirits that Sycorax had imprisoned in the bodies of large trees,
because they had refused to execute her wicked commands. These
gentle spirits were ever after obedient to the will of Prospero.
Of these Ariel was the chief.
The lively little sprite Ariel had nothing mischievous in his
nature, except that he took rather too much pleasure in
tormenting an ugly monster called Caliban, for be owed him a
grudge because he was the son of his old enemy Sycorax. This
Caliban, Prospero found in the woods, a strange misshapen thing,
far less human in form than an ape: he took him home to his cell,
and taught him to speak; and Prospero would have been very kind
to him, but the bad nature which Caliban inherited from his
mother, Sycorax, would not let him learn anything good or useful:
therefore he was employed like a slave, to fetch wood and do the
most laborious offices; and Ariel had the charge of compelling
him to these services.
When Caliban was lazy and neglected his work, Ariel (who was
invisible to all eyes but Prospero's) would come slyly and pinch
him, and sometimes tumble him down in the mire; and then Ariel,
in the likeness of an ape, would make mouths at him. Then swiftly
changing his shape, in the likeness of a hedgehog, he would lie
tumbling in Caliban's way, who feared the hedgehog's sharp quills
would prick his bare feet. With a variety of such-like vexatious
tricks Ariel would often torment him, whenever Caliban neglected
the work which Prospero commanded him to do.
Having these powerful spirits obedient to his will, Prospero
could by their means command the winds, and the waves of the sea.
By his orders they raised a violent storm, in the midst of which,
and struggling with the wild sea-waves that every
moment,threatened to swallow it up, he showed his daughter a fine
large ship, which he told her was full of living beings like
themselves. O my dear father said she, if by your art you
have raised this dreadful stormhave pity on their sad distress.
See! the vessel will be dashed to pieces. Poor souls! they will
all perish. If I had power I would sink the sea beneath the
earthrather than the good ship should be destroyedwith all
the precious souls within her."
Be not amazed, daughter Miranda,said Prospero; "there. is no
harm done. I have so ordered itthat no person in the ship shall
receive any hurt. What I have done has been in care of youmy
dear child. You are ignorant who you areor where you came from
and you know no more of mebut that I am your father and live in
this poor cave. Can you remember a time before you came to this
cell? I think you cannotfor you were not then three years of
Certainly I can, sir,replied Miranda.
By what?asked Prospero; "by any other house or person? Tell me
what you can remembermy child."
Miranda said: "It seems to me like the recollection of a dream.
But had I not once four or five women who attended upon me?"
Prospero answered: "You hadand more. How is it that this still
lives in your mind? Do you remember how you came here?" "No
sir said Miranda, I remember nothing more."
Twelve years ago, Miranda,continued ProsperoI was Duke of
Milan, and you were a princess, and my only heir. had a younger
brother, whose name was Antonio, to whom I trusted everything;
and as I was fond of retirement and deep study I commonly left
the management of my state affairs to your uncle, my false
brother (for so indeed he proved). 1, neglecting all worldly
ends, buried among my books, did dedicate whole time to the
bettering of my mind. My brother Antonio, being thus in
possession of my power, began to think himself the duke indeed.
The opportunity I gave him of making himself popular among my
subjects awakened in his bad nature a proud ambition to deprive
me of my dukedom; this he soon effected with the aid of the King
of Naples, a powerful prince, who was my enemy.
Wherefore,said Mirandadid they not that hour destroy us?
My child,answered her fatherthey durst not, so dear was the
love that my people bore me. Antonio carried us on board a ship,
and when we were some leagues out at sea, he forced us into a
small boat, without either tackle, sail, or mast; there he left
us, as he thought, to perish. But a kind lord of my court, one
Gonzalo, who loved me, had privately placed in the boat water,
provisions, apparel, and some books which I prize above my
O my father,said Mirandawhat a trouble must I have been to
No, my love,' said Prosperoyou were a little cherub that did
preserve me.Your innocent smiles made me bear up against my
misfortunes. Our food lasted till we landed on this desert
island, since when my chief delight has been in teaching you,
Miranda, and well have you profited by my instructions.
Heaven thank you, my dear father,said Miranda. "Now pray tell
mesiryour reason for raising this sea-storm?"
Know then,said her fatherthat by means of this stormmy
enemiesthe King of Naples and my cruel brotherare cast ashore
upon this island."
Having so saidProspero gently touched his daughter with his
magic wandand she fell fast asleep; for the spirit Ariel just
then presented himself before his master.to give an account of
the tempestand how he had disposed of the ship's companyand
though the spirits were always invisible to MirandaProspero did
not choose she should hear him holding converse (as would seem to
her) with the empty air.
Well, my brave spirit,said Prospero to Arielhow have you
performed your task?
Ariel gave a lively description of the stormand of the terrors
of the marinersand how the king's sonFerdinandwas the first
who leaped into the sea; and his father thought he saw his dear
son swallowed up by the waves and lost. "But he is safe said
Ariel, in a corner of the islesitting with his arms folded
sadly lamenting the loss of the kinghis fatherwhom he
concludes drowned. Not a hair of his head is injuredand his
princely garmentsthough drenched in the sea-waveslook fresher
That's my delicate Ariel,said Prospero. "Bring him hither: my
daughter must see this young prince. Where is the kingand my
I left them,answered Arielsearching for Ferdinand, whom
they have little hopes of finding, thinking they saw him perish.
Of the ship's crew not one is missing; though each one thinks
himself the only one saved; and the ship, though invisible to
them, is safe in the harbor.
Ariel,said Prosperothy charge is faithfully performed; but
there is more work yet.
Is there more work?said Ariel. "Let me remind youmasteryou
have promised me my liberty. I prayrememberI have done you
worthy servicetold you no liesmade no mistakesserved you
without grudge or grumbling."
How now!said Prospero. "You do not recollect what a torment I
freed you from. Have you forgot the wicked witch Sycoraxwho
with age and envy was almost bent double? Where was she born?
Speak; tell me."
Sir, in Algiers,said Ariel.
Oh, was she so?said Prospero. "I must recount what you have
beenwhich I find you do not remember. This bad witchSycorax
for her witchcraftstoo terrible to enter human hearingwas
banished from Algiersand here left by the sailors-; and because
you were a spirit too delicate to execute her wicked commands
she shut you up in a treewhere I found you howling. This
tormentrememberI did free you from."
Pardon me, dear master,said Arielashamed to seem ungrateful;
I will obey your commands.
Do so,said Prosperoand I will set you free.He then gave
orders what further he would have him do; and away went Ariel
first to where he had left Ferdinandand found him still sitting
on the grass in the same melancholy posture.
Oh, my young gentleman,said Arielwhen he saw him'I will
soon move you. You must be broughtI findfor the Lady Miranda
to have a sight of your pretty person. Come. sirfollow me." He
then began singing:
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-dong, bell.
This strange news of his lost father soon roused the prince from
the stupid fit into which he had fallen. He followed in amazement
the sound of Ariel's voicetill it led him to Prospero and
Mirandawho were sitting under the shade of a large tree. Now
Miranda had never seen a man beforeexcept her own father.
Miranda,said Prosperotell me what you are looking at
Oh, father,said Mirandain a strange surprisesurely that
is a spirit. Lord! how it looks about! Believe me, sir, it is a
beautiful creature. Is it not a spirit?
No, girl,answered her father; "it eatsand sleepsand has
senses such as we have. This young man you see was in the ship.
He is somewhat altered by griefor you might call him a handsome
person. He has lost his companionsand is wandering about to
Mirandawho thought all men had grave faces and gray beards like
her fatherwas delighted with the appearance of this beautiful
young prince; and Ferdinandseeing such a lovely lady in this
desert placeand from the strange sounds he had heardexpecting
nothing but wondersthought be was upon an enchanted islandand
that Miranda was the goddess of the placeand as such he began
to address her.
She timidly answeredshe was no goddessbut a simple maid and
was going to give him an account of herselfwhen Prospero
interrupted her. He was well pleased to find they admired each
otherfor he plainly perceived they had (as we say) fallen in
love at first sight: but to try Ferdinand's constancyhe
resolved to throw some difficulties in their way: therefore
advancing forwardbe addressed the prince with a stern air
telling himhe came to the island as a spyto take it from him
who was the lord of it. "Follow me said be. I will tie your
neck and feet together. You shall drink sea-water; shell-fish
withered rootsand husks of acorns shall be your food."
No,said FerdinandI will resist such entertainment till I
see a more powerful enemy,and drew his sword; but Prospero
waving his magic wandfixed him to the spot where he stoodso
that he had no power to move.
Miranda hung upon her fathersaying: "Why are you so ungentle?
Have pityI will be his surety. This is the second man I ever
sawand to me he seems a true one."
Silence!said the father. "One word more will make me chide
yougirl! What! an advocate for an impostor! You think there are
no more such fine menhaving seen only him and Caliban. I tell
youfoolish girlmost men as far excel this as he does
Calliban." This he said to prove his daughter's constancy; and
My affections are most humble. I have no wish to see a goodlier
Come on, young man,said Prospero to the prince; "you have no
power to disobey -me."
I have not indeed,answered Ferdinand; and not knowing that it
was by magic he was deprived of all power of resistance
they were going to eathe appeared visible before them in the
shape of a harpya voracious monster with wingsand the feast
vanished away. Thento their utter amazementthis seeming harpy
spoke to themreminding them of their cruelty in driving
Prospero from his dukedomand leaving him and his infant
daughter to perish in the seasayingthat for this cause these
terrors were suffered to afflict them.
The King of Naplesand Antonio the false brotherrepented the
injustice they had done to Prospero; and Ariel told his master he
was certain their penitence was sincereand that hethough a
spiritcould not but pity them.
Then bring them hither, Ariel,said Prospero: "if youwho are
but a spiritfeel for their distressshall not Iwho am a
human being like themselveshave compassion on them? Bring them
quicklymy dainty Ariel."
Ariel soon returned with the kingAntonioand old Gonzalo in
their trainwho had followed himwondering at the wild music he
played in the air to draw them on to his master's presence. This
Gonzalo was the same who had so kindly provided Prospero formerly
with books and provisionswhen his wicked brother left himas
he thoughtto perish in an open boat in the sea.
Grief and terror had so stupefied their senses that they did not
know Prospero. He first discovered himself to the good old
Gonzalocalling him the preserver of his life; and then his
brother and the king knew that he was the injured Prospero.
Antoniowith tears and sad words of sorrow and true repentance
implored his brother's forgivenessand the king expressed his
sincere remorse for having assisted Antonio to depose his
brother: and Prospero forgave them; andupon their engaging to
restore his dukedomhe said to the King of NaplesI have a
gift in store for you, too; andopening a doorshowed him his
son Ferdinand playing at chess with Miranda.
Nothing could exceed the joy of the father and the son at this
unexpected meetingfor they each thought the other drowned in
Oh wonder!said Mirandawhat noble creatures these are! It
must surely be a brave world that has such people in it.
The King of Naples was almost as much astonished at the beauty
and excellent graces of the young Miranda as his son had been.
Who is this maid?said he; "she seems the goddess that has
parted usand brought us thus together."
No, sir,answered Ferdinandsmiling to find his father had
fallen into the same mistake that he had done when he first saw
Mirandashe is a mortal, but by immortal Providence she is
mine; I chose her when I could not ask you, my father, for your
consent, not thinking you were alive. She is the daughter this
Prospero, who is the famous Duke of Milan, of whose renown I have
heard so much, but never saw him till now: of him I have received
a new life: he has made himself to me a second father, giving me
this dear lady.
Then I must be her father,said the king; "butohhow oddly
will it soundthat I must ask my child forgiveness."
No more of that,said Prospero: "let us not remember our
troubles pastsince they so happily have ended." And then
Prospero embraced his brotherand again assured him of his
forgiveness; and said that a wise overruling Providence had
permitted that he should be driven from his poor dukedom of
Milanthat his daughter might inherit the crown of Naplesfor
that by their meeting in this desert island it had happened that
the king's son had loved Miranda.
These kind words which Prospero spokemeaning to comfort his
brotherso filled Antonio with shame and remorse that be wept
and was unable to speak; and the kind old Gonzalo wept to see
this joyful reconciliationand prayed for blessings on the young
Prospero now told them that their ship was safe in the harbor
and the sailors all on board herand that he and his daughter
would accompany them home the next morning. "In the mean time
says he, partake of such refreshments as my poor cave affords;
and for your evening's entertainment I will relate the history of
my life from my first landing in this desert island." He then
called for Caliban to prepare some foodand set the cave in
order; and the company were astonished at the uncouth form and
savage appearance of this ugly monsterwho (Prospero said) was
the only attendant he had to wait upon him.
Before Prospero left the island he dismissed Ariel from service
to the great joy of that lively little spiritwhothough he had
been a faithful servant to his masterwas always longing to
enjoy his free libertyto wander uncontrolled in the airlike a
wild birdunder green treesamong pleasant fruitsand
My quaint Ariel,said Prospero to the little sprite when he
made him freeI shall miss you; yet you shall have your
Thank you, my dear master,said Ariel; "but give me leave to
attend your ship home with prosperous galesbefore you bid
farewell to the assistance of your faithful spirit; and then
masterwhen I am freehow merrily I shall live!" Here Ariel
sang this pretty song:
Where the bee sucks, there 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.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.
Prospero then buried deep in the earth his magical books and
wandfor he was resolved never more to make use of the magic
art. And having thus overcome his enemiesand being reconciled
to his brother and the King of Naplesnothing now remained to
complete his happiness but to revisit his native landto take
possession of his dukedomand to witness the happy nuptials of
his daughter and Prince Ferdinandwhich the king said should be
instantly celebrated with great splendor on their return to
Naples. At which placeunder the safe convoy of the spirit Ariel
theyafter a pleasant voyagesoon arrived.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
There was a law in the city of Athens which gave to its citizens
the power of compelling their daughters to marry whomsoever they
pleased; for upon a daughter's refusing to marry the man her
father had chosen to be her husbandthe father was empowered by
this law to cause her to be put to death; but as fathers do not
often desire the death of their own daughterseven though they
do happen to prove a little refractorythis law was seldom or
never put in executionthough perhaps the young ladies of that
city were not unfrequently threatened by their parents with the
terrors of it.
There was one instancehoweverof an old manwhose name was
Egeuswho actually did come before Theseus (at that time the
reigning Duke of Athens)to complain that his daughter whom he
had commanded to marry Demetriusa young man of a noble Athenian
familyrefused to obey himbecause she loved another young
Atheniannamed Lysander. Egeus demanded justice of Theseusand
desired that this cruel law might be put in force against his
Hermia pleaded in excuse for her disobedience that Demetrius had
formerly professed love for her dear friend Helenaand that
Helena loved Demetrius to distraction; but this honorable reason
which Hermia gave for not obeying her father's commandmoved not
the stern Egeus.
Theseusthough a great and merciful princehad no power to
alter the laws of his country; therefore he could only give
Hermia four days to consider of it: and at the end of that time
if she still refused to marry Demetriusshe was to be put to
When Hermia was dismissed from the presence of the dukeshe went
to her lover Lysander and told him the peril she was inand that
she must either give him up and marry Demetrius or lose her life
in four days.
Lysander was in great affliction at hearing these evil tidings;
butrecollecting that be had an aunt who lived at some distance
from Athensand that at the place where she lived the cruel law
could not be put in force against Hermia (this law not extending
beyond the boundaries of the city)he proposed to Hermia that
she should steal out of her father's house that nightand go
with him to his aunt's housewhere he would marry her. "I will
meet you said Lysander, in the wood a few miles without the
city; in that delightful wood where we have so often walked with
Helena in the pleasant month of May."
To this proposal Hermia joyfully agreed; and she told no one of
her intended flight but her friend Helena. Helena (as maidens
will do foolish things for love) very ungenerously resolved to go
and tell this to Demetriusthough she could hope no benefit from
betraying her friend's secret but the poor pleasure of following
her faithless lover to the wood; for she well knew that Demetrius
would go thither in pursuit of Hermia.
The wood in which Lysander and Hermia proposed to meet was the
favorite haunt of those little beings known by the name of
Oberon the kingand Titania the queen of the fairieswith all
their tiny train of followersin this wood held their midnight
Between this little king and queen of sprites there happenedat
this timea sad disagreement; they never met by moonlight in the
shady walk of this pleasant wood but they were quarrelingtill
all their fairy elves would creep into acorn-cups and hide
themselves for fear.
The cause of this unhappy disagreement was Titania's refusing
give Oberon a little changeling boywhose mother had been
Titania's friend; and upon her death the fairy queen stole the
child from its nurse and brought him up in the woods.
The night on which the lovers were to meet in this woodas
Titania was walking with some of her maids of honorshe met
Oberon attended by his train of fairy courtiers.
Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania,said the fairy king.
The queen replied: "Whatjealous Oberonis it you? Fairies
skip hence; I have forsworn his company."
Tarry, rash fairy,said Oberon. "Am I not thy lord? Why does
Titania cross her Oberon? Give me your little changeling boy to
be my page."
Set your heart at rest,answered the queen; "your whole fairy
kingdom buys not the boy of me." She then left her lord in great
Well, go your way,said Oberon; "before the morning dawns I
will torment you for this injury."
Oberon then sent for Puckhis chief favorite and privy
Puck (oras he was sometimes calledRobin Goodfellow) was a
shrewd and knavish spritethat used to play comical pranks in
the neighboring villages; sometimes getting into the dairies and
skimming the milksometimes plunging his light and airy form
into the butter-churnand while he was dancing his fantastic
shape in the churnin vain the dairymaid would labor to change
her cream into butter. Nor had the village swains any better
success; whenever Puck chose to play his freaks in the brewing
copperthe ale was sure to be spoiled. When a few good neighbors
were met to drink some comfortable ale togetherPuck would jump
into the bowl of ale in the likeness of a roasted craband when
some old goody was going to drink he would bob against her lips
and spill the ale over her withered chin; and presently after
when the same old dame was gravely seating herself to tell her
neighbors a sad and melancholy storyPuck would slip her
three-legged stool from under herand down toppled the poor old
womanand then the old gossips would hold their sides and laugh
at herand swear they never wasted a merrier hour.
Come hither, Puck,said Oberon to this little merry wanderer of
the night; "fetch me the flower which maids call 'Love in
Idleness'; the juice of that little purple flower laid on the
eyelids of those who sleep will make themwhen they awakedote
on the first thing they see. Some of the juice of that flower I
will drop on the eyelids of my Titania when she is asleep; and
the first thing she looks upon when she opens her eyes she will
fall in love witheven though it be a lion or a beara meddling
monkey or a busy ape; and before I will take this charm from off
her sightwhich I can do with another charm I know ofI will
make her give me that boy to be my page."
Puckwho loved mischief to his heartwas highly diverted with
this intended frolic of his masterand ran to seek the flower;
and while Oberon was waiting the return of Puck he observed
Demetrius and Helena enter the wood: he overheard Demetrius
reproaching Helena for following himand after many unkind words
on his partand gentle expostulations from Helenareminding him
of his former love and professions of true faith to herhe left
her (as he said) to the mercy of the wild beastsand she ran
after him as swiftly as she could.
The fairy kingwho was always friendly to true loversfelt
great compassion for Helena; and perhapsas Lysander said they
used to walk by moonlight in this pleasant woodOberon might
have seen Helena in those happy times when she was beloved by
Demetrius. However that might bewhen Puck returned with the
little purple flowerOberon said to his favorite: "Take a part
of this flower; there has been a sweet Athenian lady herewho is
in love with a disdainful youth; if you find him sleepingdrop
some of the love-juice in his eyesbut contrive to do it when
she is near himthat the first thing he sees when he awakes may
be this despised lady. You will know the man ]by the Athenian
garments which be wears."
Puck promised to manage this matter very dexterously: and then
Oberon wentunperceived by Titaniato her bowerwhere she was
preparing to go to rest. Her fairy bower was a bankwhere grew
wild thymecowslipsand sweet violetsunder a canopy of
woodbinemusk-rosesand eglantine. There Titania always slept
some part of the night; her coverlet the enameled skin of a
snakewhichthough a small mantlewas wide enough to wrap a
He found Titania giving orders to her fairieshow they were to
employ themselves while she slept. "Some of you said her
Majesty, must kill cankers in the musk-rose budsand some wage
war with the bats for their leathern wingsto make my small
elves coats; and some of you keep watch that the clamorous owl
that nightly bootscome not near me: but first sing me to
sleep." Then they began to sing this song:
You spotted snakes, with double tongue,
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen;
Newts and blind-worms do no wrong;
Come not near our fairy queen:
Sing in our sweet lullaby;
Never harmnor spellnor charm
Come our lovely lady nigh;
Sogood nightwith lullaby."
When the fairies had sung their queen asleep with this pretty
lullabythey left her to perform the important services she had
enjoined them. Oberon then softly drew near his Titania and
dropped some of the love-juice on her eyelidssaying:
What thou seest when thou dost wake,
Do it for thy true-love take.
But to return to Hermiawho made her escape out of her father's
house that nightto avoid the death she was doomed to for
refusing to marry Demetrius. When she entered the woodshe found
her dear Lysander waiting for herto conduct her to his aunt's
house; but before they had passed half through the wood Hermia
was so much fatigued that Lysanderwho was very careful of this
dear ladywho had proved her affection for him even by hazarding
her life for his sakepersuaded her to rest till morning on a
bank of soft mossandlying down himself on the ground at some
little distancethey soon fell fast asleep. Here they were found
by Puckwhoseeing a handsome young man asleepand perceiving
that his clothes were made in the Athenian fashionand that a
pretty lady was sleeping near himconcluded that this must be
the Athenian maid and her disdainful lover whom Oberon had sent
him to seek; and he naturally enough conjectured thatas they
were alone togethershe must be the first thing he would see
when he awoke; sowithout more adohe proceeded to pour some of
the juice of the little purple flower into his eyes. But it so
fell out that Helena came that wayandinstead of Hermiawas
the first object Lysander beheld when he opened his eyes; and
strange to relateso powerful was the love-charmall his love
for Hermia vanished away and Lysander fell in love with Helena.
Had he first seen Hermia when he awokethe blunder Puck
committed would have been of no consequencefor he could not
love that faithful lady too well; but for poor Lysander to be
forced by a fairy love-charm to forget his own true Herniaand
to run after another ladyand leave Hermia asleep quite alone in
a wood at midnightwas a sad chance indeed.
Thus this misfortune happened. Helenaas has been before
relatedendeavored to keep pace with Demetrius when he ran away
so rudely from her; but she could not continue this unequal race
longmen being always better runners in a long race than ladies.
Helena soon lost sight of Demetrius; and as she was wandering
aboutdejected and forlornshe arrived at the place where
Lysander was sleeping. "Ah!" said shethis is Lysander lying on
the ground. Is he dead or asleep?Thengently touching himshe
saidGood sir, if you are alive, awake.Upon this Lysander
opened his eyesandthe love-charm beginning to work
immediately addressed her in terms of extravagant love and
admirationtelling her she as much excelled Hermia in beauty as
a dove does a ravenand that be would run through fire for her
sweet sake; and many more such lover-like speeches. Helena
knowing Lysander was her friend Hermia's loverand that he was
solemnly engaged to marry herwas in the utmost rage when she
heard herself addressed in this manner; for she thought (as well
she might) that Lysander was making a jest of her. "Oh!" said
shewhy was I born to be mocked and scorned by every one? Is it
not enough, is it not enough, young man, that I can never get a
sweet look or a kind word from Demetrius; but you, sir, must
pretend in this disdainful manner to court me? I thought,
Lysander, you were a lord of more true gentleness.Saying these
words in great angershe ran away; and Lysander followed her
quite forgetful of his own Hermiawho was still asleep.
When Hermia awoke she was in a sad fright at finding herself
alone. She wandered about the woodnot knowing what was become
of Lysanderor which way to go to seek for him. In the mean time
Demetriusnot being able to find Hermia and his rival Lysander
and fatigued with his fruitless searchwas observed by Oberon
fast asleep. Oberon had learned by some questions he had asked of
Puck that he had applied the lovecharm to the wrong person's
eyes; and nowhaving found the person first intendedhe touched
the eyelids of the sleeping Demetrius with the love-juiceand he
instantly awoke; and the first thing he saw being Helenaheas
Lysander had done beforebegan to address love-speeches to her;
and just at that moment Lysanderfollowed by Hermia (for through
Puck's unlucky mistake it was now become Hermia's turn to run
after her lover)made his appearance; and then Lysander and
Demetriusboth speaking togethermade love to Helenathey
being each one under the influence of the same potent charm.
The astonished Helena thought that DemetriusLysanderand her
once dear friend Hermia were all in a plot together to make a
jest of her.
Hermia was as much surprised as Helena; she knew not why Lysander
and Demetriuswho both before loved herwere now become the
lovers of Helenaand to Hermia the matter seemed to be no jest.
The ladieswho before bad always been the dearest of friends
now fell to high words together.
Unkind. Hermia,said Helenait is you have set Lysander on
to vex me with mock praises; and your other lover, Demetrius, who
used almost to spurn me with his foot, have you not bid him call
me goddess, nymph, rare, precious, and celestial? He would not
speak thus to me, whom he hates, if you did not set him on to
make a jest of me. Unkind Hermia, to join with men in scorning
your poor friend. Have you forgot our schoolday friendship? How
often, Hermia, have we two, sitting on one cushion, both singing
one song, with our needles working the same flower, both on the
same sampler wrought; growing up together in fashion of a double
cherry, scarcely seeming parted! Hermia, it is not friendly in
you, it is not maidenly to join with men in scorning your poor
I am amazed at your passionate words,said Hermia: "I scorn you
not; it seems you scorn me."
Aye, do,returned Helenapersevere, counterfeit serious
looks, and make mouths at me when I turn my back; then wink at
each other, and hold the sweet jest up. If you had any pity,
grace, or manners, you would not use me thus.
While Helena and Hermia were speaking these angry words to each
otherDemetrius and Lysander left themto fight together in the
wood for the love of Helena.
When they found the gentlemen had left themthey departedand
once more wandered weary in the wood in search of their lovers.
As soon as they were gone the fairy kingwho with little Puck
had been listening to their quarrelssaid to himThis is your
negligence, Puck; or did you do this wilfully?
Believe me, king of shadows,answered Puckit was a mistake.
Did not you tell me I should know the man by his Athenian
garments? However, I am not sorry this has happened, for I think
their jangling makes excellent sport.
You heard,said Oberonthat Demetrius and Lysander are gone
to seek a convenient place to fight in. I command you to overhang
the night with a thick fog, and lead these quarrelsome lovers so
astray in' the dark that they shall not be able to find each
other. Counterfeit each of their voices to the other, and with
bitter taunts provoke them to follow you, while they think it is
their rival's tongue they hear. See you do this, till they are so
weary they can go no farther; and when you find they are asleep,
drop the juice of this other flower into Lysander's eyes, and
when he awakes he will forget his new love for Helena, and return
to his old passion for Hermia; and then the two fair ladies may
each one be happy with the man she loves and they will think all
that has passed a vexatious dream. About this quickly, Puck, and
I will go and see what sweet love my Titania has found.
Titania was still sleepingand Oberonseeing a clown near her
who had lost his way in the wood and was likewise asleepThis
fellow,said heshall be my Titania's true love; and clapping
an ass's head over the clown'sit seemed to fit him as well as
if it had grown upon his own shoulders. Though Oberon fixed the
ass's head on very gentlyit awakened himandrising up
unconscious of what Oberon had done to himhe went toward the
bower where the fairy queen slept.
Ah I what angel is that I see?said Titaniaopening her eyes
and the juice of the little purple flower beginning to take
effect. "Are you as wise as you are beautiful?"
Why, mistress,said the foolish clownif I have wit enough to
find the way out of this wood, I have enough to serve my turn.
Out of the wood do not desire to go,said the enamoured queen.
I am a spirit of no common rate. I love you. Go with me, and I
will give you fairies to attend upon you.
She then called four of her fairies. Their names were
Attend,said the queenupon this sweet gentleman. Hop in his
walks and gambol in his sight; feed him with grapes and apricots,
and steal for him the honey-bags from the bees. Come, sit with
me,said she to the clown.and let me play with your amiable
hairy cheeks, my beautiful ass! and kiss your fair large ears, my
Where is Peas-blossom?said the ass-headed clownnot much
regarding the fairy queen's courtshipbut very proud of his new
Here, sir,said little Peas-blossom.
Scratch my head,said the clown. "Where is Cobweb?"
Here, sir,said Cobweb.
Good Mr. Cobweb,said the foolish clownkill me the red
humblebee on the top of that thistle yonder; and, good Mr.
Cobweb, bring me the honey-bag. Do not fret yourself too much in
the action, Mr. Cobweb, and take care the honey-bag break not; I
should be sorry to have you overflown with a honey-bag. Where is
Here, sir, said Mustard-seed. "What is your will?"
Nothing,said the clowngood Mr. Mustard-seed, but to help
Mr. Peas-blossom to scratch; I must go to a barber's, Mr.
Mustard-seed, for methinks I am marvelous hairy about the face.
My sweet love,said the queenwhat will you have to eat? I
have a venturous fairy shall seek the squirrel's hoard, and fetch
you some new nuts.
I had rather have a handful of dried peas,' said the clownwho
with his ass's head had got an ass's appetite. "ButI praylet
none of your people disturb mefor I have a mind to sleep."
Sleep, then,said the queenand I will wind you in my arms.
Oh, how I love you! how I dote upon you!
When the fairy king saw the clown sleeping in the arms of his
queenhe advanced within her sightand reproached her with
having lavished her favors upon an ass.
This she could not denyas the clown was then sleeping within
her armswith his ass's head crowned by her with flowers.
When Oberon had teased her for some timehe again demanded the
changeling boy; which sheashamed of being discovered by her
lord with her new favoritedid not dare to refuse him.
Oberonhaving thus obtained the little boy he had so long wished
for to be his pagetook pity on the disgraceful situation into
whichby his merry contrivancehe had brought his Titaniaand
threw some of the juice of the other flower into her eyes; and
the fairy queen immediately recovered her sensesand wondered at
her late dotagesaying how she now loathed the sight of the
Oberon likewise took the ass's head from off the clownand left
him to finish his nap with his own fool's head upon his
Oberon and his Titania being now perfectly reconciledhe related
to her the history of the lovers and their midnight quarrelsand
she agreed to go with him and see the end of their adventures.
The fairy king and queen found the lovers and their fair ladies
at no great distance from one anothersleeping on a grass-plot;
for Puckto make amends for his former mistakehad contrived
with the utmost diligence to bring them all to the same spot
unknown to one another; and he bad carefully removed the charm
from off the eyes of Lysander with the antidote the fairy king
gave to him.
Hermia first awokeandfinding her lost Lysander asleep so near
herwas looking at him and wondering at his strange inconstancy.
Lysander presently opening his eyesand seeing his dear Hermia
recovered his reason which the fairy charm had before clouded
and with his reason his love for Hermia; and they began to talk
over the adventures of the nightdoubting if these things had
really happenedor if they bad both been dreaming the same
Helena and Demetrius were by this time awake; and a sweet sleep
having quieted Helena's disturbed and angry spiritsshe listened
with delight to the professions of love which Demetrius still
made to herand whichto her surprise as well as pleasureshe
began to perceive were sincere.
These fair night-wandering ladiesnow no longer rivalsbecame
once more true friends; all the unkind words which had passed
were forgivenand they calmly consulted together what was best
to be done in their present situation. It was soon agreed that
as Demetrius bad given up his pretensions to Hermiahe should
endeavor to prevail upon her father to revoke the cruel sentence
of death which had been passed against her. Demetrius was
preparing to return to Athens for this friendly purposewhen
they were surprised with the sight of EgeusHermia's fatherwho
came to the wood in pursuit of his runaway daughter.
When Egeus understood that Demetrius would not now marry his
daughterhe no longer opposed her marriage with Lysanderbut
gave his consent that they should be wedded on the fourth day
from that timebeing the same day on which Hermia had been
condemned to lose her life; and on that same day Helena joyfully
agreed to marry her beloved and now faithful Demetrius.
The fairy king and queenwho were invisible spectators of this
reconciliationand now saw the happy ending of the lovers'
historybrought about through the good offices of Oberon
received so much pleasure that these kind spirits resolved to
celebrate the approaching nuptials with sports and revels
throughout their fairy kingdom.
And nowif any are offended with this story of fairies and their
pranksas judging it incredible and strangethey have only to
think that they have been asleep and dreamingand that all these
adventures were visions which they saw in their sleep. And I hope
none of my readers will be so unreasonable as to be offended with
a prettyharmless Midsummer Night's Dream.
LeontesKing of Sicilyand his queenthe beautiful and
virtuous Hermioneonce lived in the greatest harmony together.
So happy was Leontes in the love of this excellent lady that he
had no wish ungratifiedexcept that he some times desired to
see again and to present to his queen his old companion and
schoolfellowPolixenesKing of Bohemia. Leontes and Polixenes
were brought up together from their infancybut beingby the
death of their fatherscalled to reign over their respective
kingdomsthey had not met for many yearsthough they frequently
interchanged giftslettersand loving embassies.
At lengthafter repeated invitationsPolixenes came from
Bohemia to the Sicilian courtto make his friend Leontes a
At first this visit gave nothing but pleasure to Leontes. He
recommended the friend of his youth to the queen's particular
attentionand seemed in the presence of his dear friend and old
companion to have his felicity quite completed. They talked over
old times; their school-days and their youthful pranks were
rememberedand recounted to Hermionewho always took a cheerful
part in these conversations.
Whenafter a long stayPolixenes was preparing to depart
Hermioneat the desire of her husbandjoined her entreaties to
his that Polixenes would prolong his visit.
And now began this good queen's sorrow; for Polixenesrefusing
to stay at the request of Leonteswas won over by Hermione's
gentle and persuasive words to put off his departure for some
weeks longer. Upon thisalthough Leontes had so long known the
integrity and honorable principles of his friend Polixenesas
well as the excellent disposition of his virtuous queenhe was
seized with an ungovernable jealousy. Every attention Hermione
showed to Polixenesthough by her husband's particular desire
and merely to please himincreased the unfortunate king's
jealousy; and from being a loving and a true friendand the best
and fondest of husbandsLeontes became suddenly a savage and
inhuman monster. Sending for Camilloone of the lords of his
courtand telling him of the suspicion he entertainedhe
commanded him to poison Polixenes.
Camillo was a good manand hewell knowing that the jealousy of
Leontes had not the slightest foundation in truthinstead of
poisoning Polixenesacquainted him with the king his master's
ordersand agreed to escape with him out of the Sicilian
dominions; and Polixeneswith the assistance of Camillo
arrived safe in his own kingdom of Bohemiawhere Camillo lived
from that time in the king's court and became the chief friend
and favorite of Polixenes.
The flight of Polixenes enraged the jealous Leontes still more;
he went to the queen's apartmentwhere the good lady was sitting
with her little son Mamilliuswho was just beginning to tell one
of his best stories to amuse his motherwhen the king entered
andtaking the child awaysent Hermione to prison.
Mamilliusthough but a very young childloved his mother
tenderly; and when he saw her so dishonoredand found she was
taken from him to be put into a prisonhe took it deeply to
heart and drooped and pined away by slow degreeslosing his
appetite and his sleeptill it was thought his grief would kill
The kingwhen he had sent his queen to prisoncommanded
Cleomenes and Diontwo Sicilian lordsto go to Delphosthere
to inquire of the oracle at the temple of Apollo if his queen had
been unfaithful to him.
When Hermione had been a short time in prison she was brought to
bed of a daughter; and the poor lady received much comfort from
the sight of her pretty babyand she said to itMy poor little
prisoner, I am as innocent as you are.
Hermione had a kind friend in the noble-spirited Paulinawho was
the wife of Antigonusa Sicilian lord; and when the lady Paulina
heard her royal mistress was brought to bed she went to the
prison where Hermione was confined; and she said to Emiliaa
lady who attended upon HermioneI pray you, Emilia, tell the
good queen, if her Majesty dare trust me with her little babe, I
will carry it to the king, its father: we do not know how he may
soften at the sight of his innocent child.
Most worthy madam,replied EmiliaI will acquaint the queen
with your noble offer. She was wishing to-day that she had any
friend who would venture to present the child to the king.
And tell her,said Paulina. "that I will speak boldly to
Leontes in her defense."
May you be forever blessed,said Emiliafor your kindness to
our gracious queen!
Emilia then went to Hermionewho joyfully gave up her baby to
the care of Paulinafor she had feared that no one would dare
venture to present the child to its father.
Paulina took the new-born infant andforcing herself into the
king's presencenotwithstanding her husbandfearing the king's
angerendeavored to prevent hershe laid the babe at its
father's feet; and Paulina made a noble speech to the king in
defense of Hermioneand she reproached him severely for his
inhumanity and implored him to have mercy on his innocent wife
and child. But Paulina's spirited remonstrances only aggravated
Leontes's displeasureand he ordered her husband Antigonus to
take her from his presence.
When Paulina went away she left the little baby at its father's
feetthinking when he was alone with it he would look upon it
and have pity on its helpless innocence.
The good Paulina was mistakenfor no sooner was she gone than
the merciless father ordered AntigonusPaulina's husband
to take the child and carry it out to sea and leave it upon some
desert shore to perish.
Antigonusunlike the good Camillotoo well obeyed the orders of
Leontes; for he immediately carried the child on shipboardand
put out to seaintending to leave it on the first desert coast
he could find.
So firmly was the king persuaded of the guilt of Hermione that he
would not wait for the return of Cleomenes and Dion; whom he had
sent to consult the oracle of Apollo at Delphosbut before the
queen was recovered from her lying-inand from the grief for the
loss of her precious babyhe had her brought to a public trial
before all the lords and nobles of his court. And when all the
great lordsthe judgesand all the nobility of the land were
assembled together to try Hermioneand that unhappy queen was
standing as a prisoner before her subjects to receive their
judgmentCleomenes and Dion entered the assembly and presented
to the king the answer of the oraclesealed up; and Leontes
commanded the seal to be brokenand the words of the oracle to
be read aloudand these were the words:
Hermione is innocent, Polixenes blameless, Camillo a true
subject, Leontes a jealous tyrant, and the king shall live
without an heir if that which is lost be not found.
The king would give no credit to the words of the oracle. He said
it was a falsehood invented by the queen's friendsand be
desired the judge to proceed in the trial of the queen; but while
Leontes was speaking a man entered and told him that the Prince
Mamilliushearing his mother was to be tried for her life
struck with grief and shamehad suddenly died.
Hermioneupon hearing of the death of this dearaffectionate
childwho had lost his life in sorrowing for her misfortune
fainted; and Leontespierced to the heart by the newsbegan to
feel pity for his unhappy queenand he ordered Paulinaand the
ladies who were her attendantsto take her away and use means
for her recovery. Paulina soon returned and told the king that
Hermione was dead.
When Leontes heard that the queen was dead he repented of his
cruelty to her; and now that he thought his ill-usage had broken
Hermione's hearthe believed her innocent; and now he thought
the words of the oracle were trueas he knew "if that which was
lost was not found which he concluded was his young daughter,
he should be without an heir, the young Prince Mamillius being
dead; and he would give his kingdom now to recover his lost
daughter. And Leontes gave himself up to remorse and passed many
years in mournful thoughts and repentant grief.
The ship in which Antigonus carried the infant princess out to
sea was driven by a storm upon the coast of Bohemia, the very
kingdom of the good King Polixenes. Here Antigonus landed and
here he left the little baby.
Antigonus never returned to Sicily to tell Leontes where he had
left his daughter, for, as he was going back to the ship, a bear
came out of the woods and tore him to pieces; a just punishment
on him for obeying the wicked order Leontes.
The child was dressed in rich clothes and jewels; for Hermione
had made it very fine when she sent it to Leontes, and Antigonus
had pinned a paper to its mantle, and the name of Perdita"
written thereonand words obscurely intimating its high birth
and untoward fate.
This poordeserted baby was found by a shepherd. He was a humane
manand so he carried the little Perdita home to his wifewho
nursed it tenderly. But poverty tempted the shepherd to conceal
the rich prize be had found; therefore he left that part of the
countrythat no one might know where he got his richesand with
part of Perdita's jewels be bought herds of sheep and became a
wealthy shepherd. He brought up Perdita as his own childand she
knew not she was any other than a shepherd's daughter.
The little Perdita grew up a lovely maiden; and though she had no
better education than that of a shepherd's daughteryet so did
the natural graces she inherited from her royal mother shine
forth in her untutored mind that no onefrom her behaviorwould
have known she had not been brought up in her father's court.
Polixenesthe King of Bohemiahad an only sonwhose name was
Florizel. As this young prince was hunting near the shepherd's
dwelling he saw the old man's supposed daughter; and the beauty
modestyand queenlike deportment of Perdita caused him instantly
to fall in love with her. He soonunder the name of Doricles
and in the disguise of a private gentlemanbecame a constant
visitor at the old shepherd's house. Florizel's frequent absences
from court alarmed Polixenes; and setting people to watch his
sonhe discovered his love for the shepherd's fair daughter.
Polixenes then called for Camillothe faithful Camillowho had
preserved his life from the fury of Leontesand desired that he
would accompany him to the house of the shepherdthe supposed
father of Perdita. Polixenes and Camilloboth in disguise
arrived at the old shepherd's dwelling while they were
celebrating the feast of sheep-shearing; and though they were
strangersyet at the sheep-shearingevery guest being made
welcomethey were invited to walk in and join in the general
Nothing but mirth and jollity was going forward. Tables were
spread and fit great preparations were making for the rustic
feast. Some lads and lasses were dancing on the green before the
housewhile others of the young men were buying ribandsgloves
and such toys of a peddler at the door.
While this busy scene was going forward Florizel and Perdita sat
quietly in a retired cornerseemingly more pleased with the
conversation of each other than desirous of engaging in the
sports and silly amusements of those around them.
The king was so disguised that it was impossible his son could
know him. He therefore advanced near enough to hear the
conversation. The simple yet elegant manner in which Perdita
conversed with his son did not a little surprise Polixenes. He
said to Camillo:
This is the prettiest low-born lass I ever saw; nothing she does
or says but looks like something greater than herself, too noble
for this place.
Camillo repliedIndeed she is the very queen of curds and
Pray, my good friend,said the king to the old shepherdwhat
fair swain is that talking with your daughter?
They call him Doricles,replied the shepherd. "He says he loves
my daughter; andto speak truththere is not a kiss to choose
which loves the other best. If young Doricles can get hershe
shall bring him that he little dreams of meaning the remainder
of Perdita's jewels; which, after he had bought herds of sheep
with part of them, he had carefully hoarded up for her marriage
Polixenes then addressed his son. How nowyoung man!" said he.
Your heart seems full of something that takes off your mind from
feasting. When I was young I used to load my love with presents;
but you have let the peddler go and have bought your lass no
The young princewho little thought he was talking to the king
his fatherrepliedOld sir, she prizes not such trifles; the
gifts which Perdita expects from me are locked up in my heart.
Then turning to Perditahe said to herOh, hear me, Perdita,
before this ancient gentleman, who it seems was once himself a
lover; he shall hear what I profess.Florizel then called upon
the old stranger to be a witness to a solemn promise of marriage
which be made to Perditasaying to PolixenesI pray you, mark
Mark your divorce, young sir,said the kingdiscovering
himself. Polixenes then reproached his son for daring to contract
himself to this low-born maidencalling Perdita "shepherd's
bratsheep-hook and other disrespectful names, and threatening
if ever she suffered his son to see her again, he would put her,
and the old shepherd her father, to a cruel death.
The king then left them in great wrath, and ordered Camillo to
follow him with Prince Florizel.
When the king had departed, Perdita, whose royal nature was
roused by Polixenes's reproaches, said, Though we are all
undoneI was not much afraid; and once or twice I was about to
speak and tell him plainly that the selfsame sun which shines
upon his palace hides not his face from our cottagebut looks on
both alike." Then sorrowfully she saidBut now I am awakened
from this dream, I will queen it no further. Leave me, sir. I
will go milk my ewes and weep.
The kind-hearted Camillo was charmed with the spirit and
propriety of Perdita's behavior; andperceiving that the young
prince was too deeply in love to give up his mistress at the
command of his royal fatherhe thought of a way to befriend the
lovers and at the same time to execute a favorite scheme he had
in his mind.
Camillo had long known that Leontesthe King of Sicilywas
become a true penitent; and though Camillo was now the favored
friend of King Polixeneshe could not help wishing once more to
see his late royal master and his native home. He therefore
proposed to Florizel and Perdita that they should accompany him
to the Sicilian courtwhere he would engage Leontes should
protect them tillthrough his mediationthey could obtain
pardon from Polixenes and his consent to their marriage.
To this proposal they joyfully agreed; and Camillowho conducted
everything relative to their flightallowed the old shepherd to
go along with them.
The shepherd took with him the remainder of Perdita's jewelsher
baby clothesand the paper which he had found pinned to her
After a prosperous voyageFlorizel and PerditaCamillo and the
old shepherdarrived in safety at the court of Leontes. Leontes
who still mourned his dead Hermione and his lost childreceived
Camillo with great kindness and gave a cordial welcome to Prince
Florizel. But Perditawhom Florizel introduced as his princess
seemed to engross all Leontes's attention. Perceiving a
resemblance between her and his dead queen Hermionehis grief
broke out afreshand he said such a lovely creature might his
own daughter have been if he had not so cruelly destroyed her.
And then, too,said he to FlorizelI lost the society and
friendship of your brave father, whom I now desire more than my
life once again to look upon.
When the old shepherd heard how much notice the king had taken of
Perditaand that he had lost a daughter who was exposed in
infancyhe fell to comparing the time when he found the little
Perdita with the manner of its exposurethe jewels and other
tokens of its high birth; from all which it was impossible for
him not to conclude that Perdita and the king's lost daughter
were the same.
Florizel and PerditaCamillo and the faithful Paulinawere
present when the old shepherd related to the king the manner in
which he had found the childand also the circumstance of
Antigonus's deathhe having seen the bear seize upon him. He
showed the rich mantle in which Paulina remembered Hermione had
wrapped the child; and he produced a jewel which she remembered
Hermione had tied about Perdita's neck; and he gave up the paper
which Paulina knew to be the writing of her husband. It could not
be doubted that Perdita was Leontes's own daughter. Butohthe
noble struggles of Paulinabetween sorrow for her husband's
death and joy that the oracle was fulfilledin the king's heir
his long-lost daughter being found! When Leontes heard that
Perdita was his daughterthe great sorrow that he felt that
Hermione was not living to behold her child made him that he
could say nothing for a long time but "Ohthy motherthy
Paulina interrupted this joyful yet distressful scene with saying
to Leontes that she had a statue newly finished by that rare
Italian masterJulio Romanowhich was such a perfect
resemblance of the queen that would his Majesty be pleased to go
to her house and look upon itbe would be almost ready to think
it was Hermione herself. Thither then they all went; the king
anxious to see the semblance of his Hermioneand Perdita longing
to behold what the mother she never saw did look like.
When Paulina drew back the curtain which concealed this famous
statueso perfectly did it resemble Hermione that all the king's
sorrow was renewed at the sight; for a long time he had no power
to speak or move.
I like your silence, my liege,said Paulina; "it the more shows
your wonder. Is not this statue very like your queen?"
At length the king said: "Ohthus she stoodeven with such
majestywhen I first wooed her. But yetPaulinaHermione was
not so aged as this statue looks."
Paulina replied: "So much the more the carver's excellencewho
has made the statue as Hermione would have looked had she been
living now. But let me draw the curtainsirelest presently you
think it moves."
The king then said: "Do not draw the curtain. Would I were dead!
SeeCarmillowould you not think it breathed? Her eye seems to
have motion in it."
I must draw the curtain, my liege,said Paulina. "You are so
transportedyou will persuade yourself the statue lives."
Oh, sweet Pauline,said Leontesmake me think so twenty years
together! Still methinks there is an air comes from her. What
fine chisel could ever yet cut breath? Let no man mock me, for I
will kiss her.
Good my lord, forbear!said Paulina. "The ruddiness upon her
lip is wet; you will stain your own with oily painting. Shall I
draw the curtain?"
No, not these twenty years,said Leontes.
Perditawho all this time bad been kneeling and beholding in
silent admiration the statue of her matchless mothersaid now
And so long could I stay here, looking upon my dear mother.
Either forbear this transport,said Paulina to Leontesand
let me draw the curtain or prepare yourself for more amazement. I
can make the statue move indeed; aye, and descend from off the
pedestal and take you by the hand. But then you will think, which
I protest I am not, that I am assisted by some wicked powers.
What you can make her do,said the astonished kingI am
content to look upon. What you can make her speak I am content to
hear; for it is as easy to make her speak as move.
Paulina then ordered some slow and solemn musicwhich she had
prepared for the purposeto strike up; andto the amazement of
all the beholdersthe statue came down from off the pedestal and
threw its arms around Leontes's neck. The statue then began to
speakpraying for blessings on her husband and on her childthe
newly found Perdita.
No wonder that the statue hung upon Leontes's neck and blessed
her husband and her child. No wonder; for the statue was indeed
Hermione herselfthe realthe living queen.
Paulina had falsely reported to the king the death of Hermione'
thinking that the only means to preserve her royal mistress's
life; and with the good Paulina Hermione had lived ever since
never choosing Leontes should know she was living till she heard
Perdita was found; for though she had long forgiven the injuries
which Leontes had done to herselfshe could not pardon his
cruelty to his infant daughter.
His dead queen thus restored to lifehis lost daughter found
the long-sorrowing Leontes could scarcely support the excess of
his own happiness.
Nothing but congratulations and affectionate speeches were heard
on all sides. Now the delighted parents thanked Prince Florizel
for loving their lowly seeming daughter; and now they blessed the
good old shepherd for preserving their child. Greatly did Camillo
and Paulina rejoice that they had lived to see so good an end of
all their faithful services.
And as if nothing should be wanting to complete this strange and
unlooked-for joyKing Polixenes himself now entered the palace.
When Polixenes first missed his son and Camilloknowing that
Camillo had long wished to return to Sicilyhe conjectured he
should find the fugitives here; andfollowing them with all
speedhe happened to just arrive at this the happiest moment of
Polixenes took a part in the general joy; he forgave his friend
Leontes the unjust jealousy he had conceived against himand
they once more loved each other with all the warmth of their
first boyish friendship. And there was no fear that Polixenes
would now oppose his son's marriage with Perdita. She was no
sheep-hooknowbut the heiress of the crown of Sicily.
Thus have we seen the patient virtues of the long-suffering
Hermione rewarded. That excellent lady lived many years with her
Leontes and her Perditathe happiest of mothers and of queens.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING
There lived in the palace at Messina two ladieswhose names were
Hero and Beatrice. Hero was the daughterand Beatrice the
nieceof Leonatothe governor of Messina.
Beatrice was of a lively temper and loved to divert her cousin
Herowho was of a more serious dispositionwith her sprightly
sallies. Whatever was going forward was sure to make matter of
mirth for the light-hearted Beatrice.
At the time the history of these ladies commences some young men
of high rank in the armyas they were passing through Messina on
their return from a war that was just endedin which they bad
distinguished themselves by their great braverycame to visit
Leonato. Among these were Don Pedrothe Prince of Arragonand
his friend Claudiowho was a lord of Florence; and with them
came the wild and witty Benedickand he was a lord of Padua.
These strangers had been at Messina beforeand the hospitable
governor introduced them to his daughter and his niece as their
old friends and acquaintance.
Benedickthe moment he entered the roombegan a lively
conversation with Leonato and the prince. Beatricewho liked not
to be left out of any discourseinterrupted Benedick with
I wonder that you will still be talking, Signor Benedick. Nobody
Benedick was just such another rattlebrain as Beatriceyet he
was not pleased at this free salutation; he thought it did not
become a well-bred lady to be so flippant with her tongue; and he
rememberedwhen he was last at Messinathat Beatrice used to
select him to make her merry jests upon. And as there is no one
who so little likes to be made a jest of as those who are apt to
take the same liberty themselvesso it was with Benedick and
Beatrice; these two sharp wits never met in former times but a
perfect war of raillery was kept up between themand they always
parted mutually displeased with each other. Thereforewhen
Beatrice stopped him in the middle of his discourse with telling
him nobody marked what he was sayingBenedickaffecting not to
have observed before that she was presentsaid:
What, my dear Lady Disdain, are you yet living?And now war
broke out afresh between themand a long jangling argument
ensuedduring which Beatricealthough she knew be had so well
approved his valor in the late warsaid that she would eat all
he had killed there; and observing the prince take delight in
Benedick's conversationshe called him "the prince's jester."
This sarcasm sank deeper into the mind of Benedick than all
Beatrice had said before. The hint she gave him that he was a
cowardby saying she would eat all he bad killedhe did not
regardknowing himself to be a brave man; but there is nothing
that great wits so much dread as the imputation of buffoonery
because the charge comes sometimes a little too near the truth;
therefore Benedick perfectly hated Beatrice when she called him
the prince's jester.
The modest lady Hero was silent before the noble guests; and
while Claudio was attentively observing the improvement which
time had made in her beautyand was contemplating the exquisite
graces of her fine figure (for she was an admirable young lady)
the prince was highly amused with listening to the humorous
dialogue between Benedick and Beatrice; and he said in a whisper
This is a pleasant-spirited young lady. She were an excellent
wife for Benedick.
Leonato replied to this suggestionO my lord, my lord, if they
were but a week married, they would talk themselves mad!
But though Leonato thought they would make a discordant pairthe
prince did not give up the idea of matching these two keen wits
When the prince returned with Claudio from the palace he found
that the marriage he had devised between Benedick and Beatrice
was not the only one projected in that good companyfor Claudio
spoke in such terms of Hero as made the prince guess at what was
passing in his heart; and he liked it welland he said to
Do you affect Hero?
To this question Claudio repliedO my lord, when I was last at
Messina I looked upon her with a soldier's eye, that liked, but
had no leisure for loving; but now, in this happy time of peace,
thoughts of war have left their places vacant in my mind, and in
their room come thronging soft and delicate thoughts, all
prompting me how fair young Hero is, reminding me that I liked
her before I went to the wars.
Claudio's confession of his love for Hero so wrought upon the
prince that be lost no time in soliciting the consent of Leonato
to accept of Claudio for a son-in-law. Leonato agreed to this
proposaland the prince found no great difficulty in persuading
the gentle Hero herself to listen to the suit of the noble
Claudio who was a lord of rare endowments and highly
accomplishedand Claudioassisted by his kind princesoon
prevailed upon Leonato to fix an early day for the celebration of
his marriage with Hero.
Claudio was to wait but a few days before he was to be married to
his fair lady; yet he complained of the interval being tedious
as indeed most young men are impatient when they are waiting for
the accomplishment of any event they have set their hearts upon.
The princethereforeto make the time seem short to him
proposed as a kind of merry pastime that they should invent some
artful scheme to make Benedick and Beatrice fall in love with
each other. Claudio entered with great satisfaction into this
whim of the princeand Leonato promised them his assistanceand
even Hero said she would do any modest office to help her cousin
to a good husband.
The device the prince invented was that the gentlemen should make
Benedick believe that Beatrice was in love with himand that
Hero should make Beatrice believe that Benedick was in love with
The princeLeonatoand Claudio began their operations first;
and watching upon an opportunity when Benedick was quietly seated
reading in an arborthe prince and his assistants took their
station among the trees behind the arborso near that Benedick
could not choose but hear all they said; and after some careless
talk the prince said:
Come hither, Leonato. What was it you told me the other
day--that your niece Beatrice was in love with Signor Benedick? I
did never think that lady would have loved any man.
No, nor I neither, my lord,answered Leonato. "It is most
wonderful that she should so dote on Benedickwhom she in all
outward behavior seemed ever to dislike."
Claudio confirmed all this with saying that Hero bad told him
Beatrice was so in love with Benedick that she would certainly
die of grief if he could not be brought to love her; which
Leonato and Claudio seemed to agree was impossiblehe having
always been such a railer against all fair ladiesand in
particular against Beatrice.
The prince affected to harken to all this with great compassion
for Beatriceand he saidIt were good that Benedick were told
To what end?said Claudio. "He would but make sport of itand
torment the poor lady worse."
And if he should,said the princeit were a good deed to hang
him; for Beatrice is an excellent sweet lady, and exceeding wise
in everything but in loving Benedick.
Then the prince motioned to his companions that they should walk
on and leave Benedick to meditate upon what he had overheard.
Benedick had been listening with great eagerness to this
conversation; and he said to himselfwhen be heard Beatrice
loved him: "Is it possible? Sits the wind in that corner?" And
when they were gonehe began to reason in this manner with
himself: "This can be no trick! They were very seriousand they
have the truth from Heroand seem to pity the lady. Love me!
Whyit must be requited! I did never think to marry. But when I
said I should die a bachelorI did not think I should live to
be married. They say the lady is virtuous and fair. She is so.
And wise in everything but loving me. Whythat is no great
argument of her folly! But here comes Beatrice. By this dayshe
is a fair lady. I do spy some marks of love in her."
Beatrice now approached him and saidwith her usual tartness
Against my will I am sent to bid you come in to dinner.
Benedickwho never felt himself disposed to speak so politely to
her beforerepliedFair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains.
And when Beatriceafter two or three more rude speechesleft
himBenedick thought he observed a concealed meaning of kindness
under the uncivil words she utteredand he said aloud: "If I do
not take pity on herI am a villain. If I do not love herI am
a Jew. I will go get her picture."
The gentleman being thus caught in the net they had spread for
himit was now Hero's turn to play her part with Beatrice; and
for this purpose she sent for Ursula and Margarettwo
gentlewomen who attended upon herand she said to Margaret:
Good Margaret, run to the parlor; there you will find my cousin
Beatrice talking with the prince and Claudio. Whisper in her ear
that I and Ursula are walking in the orchard and that our
discourse is all of her. Bid her steal into that pleasant arbor,
where honeysuckles, ripened by the sun, like ungrateful minions,
forbid the sun to enter.
This arbor into which Hero desired Margaret to entice Beatrice
was the very same pleasant arbor where Benedick had so lately
been an attentive listener.
I will make her come, I warrant, presently,said Margaret.
Herothen taking Ursula with her into the orchardsaid to her:
Now, Ursula, when Beatrice comes, we will walk up and down this
alley, and our talk must be only of Benedick, and when I name
him, let it be your part to praise him more than ever man did
merit. My talk to you must be how Benedick is in love with
Beatrice. Now begin; for look where Beatrice like a lapwing runs
close by the ground, to hear our conference.
They then beganHero saying'as if in answer to something which
Ursula had said: "NotrulyUrsula. She is too disdainful; her
spirits are as coy as wild birds of the rock."
But are you sure,said Ursulathat Benedick loves Beatrice so
Hero repliedSo says the prince and my lord Claudio, and they
entreated me to acquaint her with it; but I persuaded them, if
they loved Benedick, never to let Beatrice know of it.
Certainly,replied Ursulait were not good she knew his love,
lest she made sport of it.
Why, to say truth,said Heronever yet saw a manhow wise
soeveror nobleyoung@ or rarely featuredbut she would
Sure@ sure, such carping is not commendable,said Ursula.
No,replied Herobut who dare tell her so? If I should speak,
she would mock me into air.
Oh, you wrong your cousin!said Ursula. "She cannot be so much
without true judgment as to refuse so rare a gentleman as Signor
He hath an excellent good name,said Hero. "Indeedhe is the
first man in Italyalways excepting my dear Claudio."
And nowHero giving her attendant a hint that it was time to
change the discourseUrsula saidAnd when are you to be
Hero then told her that she was to be married to Claudio the next
dayand desired she would go in with her and look at some new
attireas she wished to consult with her on what she would wear
on the morrow.
Beatricewho had been listening with breathless eagerness to
this dialoguewhen they went away exclaimed: "What fire is in
mine ears? Can this be true? Farewellcontempt and scornand
maiden prideadieu! Benedicklove on! I will requite you
taming my wild heart to your loving hand."
It must have been a pleasant sight to see these old enemies
converted into new and loving friendsand to behold their first
meeting after being cheated into mutual liking by the merry
artifice of the good-humored prince. But a sad reverse in the
fortunes of Hero must now be thought of. The morrowwhich was to
have been her wedding-daybrought sorrow on the heart of Hero
and her good fatherLeonato.
The prince had a half-brotherwho came from the wars along with
him to Messina. This brother (his name was Don John) was a
melancholydiscontented manwhose spirits seemed to labor in
the contriving of villainies. He hated the prince his brother
and he hated Claudio because he was the prince's friendand
determined to prevent Claudio's marriage with Heroonly for the
malicious pleasure of making Claudio and the prince unhappyfor
he knew the prince had set his heart upon this marriage almost as
much as Claudio himself; and to effect this wicked purpose he
employed one Borachioa man as bad as himselfwhom he
encouraged with the offer of a great reward. This Borachio paid
his court to MargaretHero's attendant; and Don Johnknowing
thisprevailed upon him to make Margaret promise to talk with
him from her lady's chamber window that nightafter Hero was
asleepand also to dress herself in Hero's clothesthe better
to deceive Claudio into the belief that it was Hero; for that was
the end he meant to compass by this wicked plot.
Don John then went to the prince and Claudio and told them that
Hero was an imprudent ladyand that she talked with men from her
chamber window at midnight. Now this was the evening before the
weddingand he offered to take them that night where they should
themselves hear Hero discoursing with a man from her window; and
they consented to go along with himand Claudio said:
If I see anything to-night why I should not marry her, to-morrow
in the congregation, where I intended to wed her, there will I
The prince also saidAnd as I assisted you to obtain her, I
will join with you to disgrace her.
When Don John brought them near Hero's chamber that nightthey
saw Borachio standing under the windowand they saw Margaret
looking out of Hero's window and heard her talking with Borachio;
and Margaret being dressed in the same clothes they had seen Hero
wearthe prince and Claudio believed it was the lady Hero
Nothing could equal the anger of Claudio when he had made (as be
thought) this discovery. All his love for the innocent Hero was
at once converted into hatredand he resolved to expose her in
the churchas he had said he wouldthe next day; and the
prince agreed to thisthinking no punishment could be too severe
for the naughty lady who talked with a man from her window the
very night before she was going to be married to the noble
The next daywhen they were all met to celebrate the marriage
and Claudio and Hero were standing before the priestand the
priestor friaras he was calledwas proceeding to pronounce
the marriage ceremonyClaudioin the most passionate language
proclaimed the guilt of the blameless Herowhoamazed at the
strange words he utteredsaidmeekly:
Is my lord well, that he does speak so wide?
Leonatoin the utmost horrorsaid to the princeMy lord, why
speak not you?
What should I speak?said the prince. "I stand dishonored that
have gone about to link my dear friend to an unworthy woman.
Leonatoupon my honormyselfmy brotherand this grieved
Claudio did see and bear her last night at midnight talk with a
man at her chamber window."
Benedickin astonishment at what he heardsaidThis looks not
like a nuptial.
True, O God!replied the heart-struck Hero; and then this
hapless lady sank down in a fainting fitto all appearance dead.
The prince and Claudio left the church without staying to see if
Hero would recoveror at all regarding the distress into which
they had thrown Leonato. So hard-hearted had their anger made
Benedick remained and assisted Beatrice to recover Hero from her
swoonsayingHow does the lady?
Dead, I think,replied Beatricein great agonyfor she loved
her cousin; andknowing her virtuous principlesshe believed
nothing of what she had heard spoken against her.
Not so the poor old father. He believed the story of his child's
shameand it was piteous to hear him lamenting over heras she
lay like one dead before himwishing she might never more open
But the ancient friar was a wise man and full of observation on
human natureand he had attentively marked the lady's
countenance when she heard herself accused and noted a thousand
blushing shames to start into her faceand then he saw an
angel-like whiteness bear away those blushesand in her eye be
saw a fire that did belie the error that the prince did speak
against her maiden truthand he said to the sorrowing father:
Call me a fool; trust not my reading nor my observation; trust
not my age, my reverence, nor my calling, if this sweet lady lie
not guiltless here under some biting error.
When Hero had recovered from the swoon into which she had fallen
the friar said to herLady, what man is he you are accused of?
Hero repliedThey know that do accuse me; I know of none.Then
turning to Leonatoshe saidO my father, if you can prove that
any man has ever conversed with me at hours unmeet, or that I
yesternight changed words with any creature, refuse me, hate me,
torture me to death.
There is,said the friarsome strange misunderstanding in the
prince and Claudio.And then he counseled Leonato that he should
report that Hero was dead; and he said that the deathlike swoon
in which they had left Hero would make this easy of belief; and
he also advised him that he should put on mourningand erect a
monument for herand do all rites that appertain to a burial.
What shall become of this?said Leonato. "What will this do?"
The friar replied: "This report of her death shall change slander
into pity; that is some good. But that is not all the good 1 hope
for. When Claudio shall hear she died upon hearing his wordsthe
idea of her life shall sweetly creep into his imagination. Then
shall he mournif ever love had interest in his heartand wish
that be had not so accused her; yeathough he thought his
Benedick now saidLeonato, let the friar advise you; and though
you know how well I love the prince and Claudio, yet on my honor
I will not reveal this secret to them.
Leonatothus persuadedyielded; and he saidsorrowfullyI am
so grieved that the smallest twine may lead me.
The kind friar then led Leonato and Hero away to comfort and
console themand Beatrice and Benedick remained alone; and this
was the meeting from which their friendswho contrived the merry
plot against themexpected so much diversion; those friends who
were now overwhelmed with affliction and from whose minds all
thoughts of merriment seemed forever banished.
Benedick was the first who spokeand he saidLady Beatrice,
have you wept all this while?
Yea, and I will weep awhile longer,said Beatrice.
Surely,said. BenedickI do believe your fair cousin is
Ah,said Beatricehow much might that man deserve of me who
would right her!
Benedick then said: "Is there any way to show such friendship? I
do love nothing in the world so well as you. Is not that
It were as possible,said Beatricefor me to say I loved
nothing in the world so well as you; but believe me not, and yet
I lie not. I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for
By my sword,said Benedickyou love me, and I protest I love
you. Come, bid me do anything for you.
Kill Claudio,said Beatrice.
Ha! not for the world,said Benedick; for he loved his friend
Claudio and he believed he had been imposed upon.
Is not Claudio a villain that has slandered, scorned, and
dishonored my cousin?said Beatrice. "Ohthat I were a man!"
Hear me, Beatrice!said Benedick.
But Beatrice would hear nothing in Claudio's defenseand she
continued to urge on Benedick to revenge her cousin's wrongs; and
she said: "Talk with a man out of the window? a proper saying!
Sweet Hero! she is wronged; she is slandered; she is undone. Oh
that I were a man for Claudio's sake! or that I had any friend
who would be a man for my sake! But valor is melted into
courtesies and compliments. I cannot be a man with wishing
therefore I will die a woman with grieving."
Tarry, good Beatrice,said Benedick. "By this hand I love you."
Use it for my love some other way than swearing by it,said
Think you on your soul that Claudio has wronged Hero?asked
Yea,answered Beatrice; CC as sure as I have a thought or a
Enough,said Benedick. "I am engaged; I will challenge him. I
will kiss your handand so leave you. By this hand Claudio shall
render me a dear account! As you hear from meso think of me.
Gocomfort your cousin."
While Beatrice was thus powerfully pleading with Benedickand
working his gallant temperby the spirit of her angry wordsto
engage in the cause of Hero and fight even with his dear friend
ClaudioLeonato was challenging the prince and Claudio to answer
with their swords the injury they had done his childwhobe
affirmedhad died for grief. But they respected his age and his
sorrowand they said:
Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old man.
And now came Benedickand be also challenged Claudio to answer
with his sword the injury be had done to Hero; and Claudio and
the prince said to each other:
Beatrice has set him on to do this.
Claudioneverthelessmust have accepted this challenge of
Benedick had not the justice of Heaven at the moment brought to
pass a better proof of the innocence of Hero than the uncertain
fortune of a duel.
While the prince and Claudio were yet talking of the challenge of
Benedick a magistrate brought Borachio as a prisoner before the
prince. Borachio had been overheard talking with one of his
companions of the mischief he had been employed by Don John to
Borachio made a full confession to the prince in Claudio's
bearing that it was Margaret dressed in her lady's clothes that
he had talked with from the windowwhom they had mistaken for
the lady Hero herself. and no doubt continued on the minds of
Claudio and the prince of the innocence of Hero. If a suspicion
had remained it must have been removed by the flight of Don John
whofinding his villainies were detectedfled from Messina to
avoid the just anger of his brother.
The heart of Claudio was sorely grieved when he found he bad
falsely accused Herowhohe thoughtdied upon bearing his
cruel words; and the memory of his beloved Hero's image came over
him in the rare semblance that he loved it first; and the prince
asking him if what he heard did not run like iron through his
soulhe answered that he felt as if he had taken poison while
Borachio was speaking.
And the repentant Claudio implored forgiveness of the old man
Leonato for the injury he had done his child; and promised that
whatever penance Leonato would lay upon him for his fault in
believing the false accusation against his betrothed wifefor
her dear sake he would endure it.
The penance Leonato enjoined him was to marry the next morning a
cousin of Hero'swhohe saidwas now his heirand in person
very like Hero. Claudioregarding the solemn promise he made to
Leonatosaid he would marry this unknown ladyeven though she
were an Ethiop. But his heart was very sorrowfuland he passed
that night in tears and in remorseful grief at the tomb which
Leonato had erected for Hero.
When the morning came the prince accompanied Claudio to the
churchwhere the good friar and Leonato and his niece were
already assembledto celebrate a second nuptial; and Leonato
presented to Claudio his promised bride. And she wore a mask
that Claudio might not discover her face. And Claudio said to the
lady in the mask:
Give me your hand, before this holy friar. I am your husband, if
you will marry me.
And when I lived I was your other wife,said this unknown
lady; andtaking off her maskshe proved to be no niece (as was
pretended)but Leonato's very daughterthe lady Hero herself.
We may be sure that this proved a most agreeable surprise to
Claudiowho thought her deadso that be could scarcely for joy
believe his eyes; and the princewho was equally amazed at what
Is not this Hero, Hero that was dead?'
Leonato repliedShe died, my lord, but while her slander
The friar promised them an explanation of this seeming miracle
after the ceremony was endedand was proceeding to marry them
when he was interrupted by Benedickwho desired to be married at
the same time to Beatrice. Beatrice making some demur to this
matchand Benedick challenging her with her love for himwhich
he had learned from Heroa pleasant explanation took place; and
they found they had both been tricked into a belief of love
which had never existedand had become lovers in truth by the
power of a false jest. But the affection which a merry invention
had cheated them into was grown too powerful to be shaken by a
serious explanation; and since Benedick proposed to marryhe was
resolved to think nothing to the purpose that the world could say
against it; and he merrily kept up the jest and swore to Beatrice
that he took her but for pityand because he heard she was dying
of love for him; and Beatrice protested that she yielded but upon
great persuasionand partly to save his lifefor she heard he
was in a consumption. So these two mad wits were reconciled and
made a match of itafter Claudio and Hero were married; and to
complete the historyDon Johnthe contriver of the villainy
was taken in his flight and brought back to Messina; and a
punishment it was to this gloomydiscontented man to see the joy
and feastings whichby the disappointment of his plotstook
place in the palace in Messina.
AS YOU LIKE IT
During the time that France was divided into provinces (or
dukedomsas they were called) there reigned in one of these
provinces a usurper who had deposed and banished his elder
brotherthe lawful duke.
The duke who was thus driven from his dominions retired with a
few faithful followers to the forest of Arden; and here the good
duke lived with his loving friendswho had put themselves into a
voluntary exile for his sakewhile their land and revenues
enriched the false usurper; and custom soon made the life of
careless ease they led here more sweet to them than the pomp and
uneasy splendor of a courtier's life. Here they lived like the
old Robin Hood of Englandand to this forest many noble youths
daily resorted from the courtand did fleet the time carelessly
as they did who lived in the golden age. In the summer they lay
along under the fine shade of the large forest treesmarking the
playful sports of the wild deer; and so fond were they of these
poor dappled foolswho seemed to be the native inhabitants of
the forestthat it grieved them to be forced to kill them to
supply themselves with venison for their food. When the cold
winds of winter made the duke feel the change of his adverse
fortunehe would endure it patientlyand say:
These chilling winds which blow upon my body are true
counselors; they do not flatter, but represent truly to me my
condition; and though they bite sharply, their tooth is nothing
like so keen as that of unkindness and ingratitude. I find that
howsoever men speak against adversity, yet some sweet uses are to
be extracted from it; like the jewel, precious for medicine,
which is taken from the head of the venomous and despised toad.
In this manner did the patient duke draw a useful moral from
everything that he saw; and by the help of this moralizing turn
in that life of hisremote from public hauntshe could find
tongues in treesbooks in the running brookssermons in stones
and good in everything.
The banished duke had an only daughternamed Rosalindwhom the
usurperDuke Frederickwhen he banished her fatherstill
retained in his court as a companion for his own daughterCelia.
A strict friendship subsisted between these ladieswhich the
disagreement between their fathers did not in the least
interruptCelia striving by every kindness in her power to make
amends to Rosalind for the injustice of her own father in
deposing the father of Rosalind; and whenever the thoughts of her
father's banishmentand her own dependence on the false usurper
made Rosalind melancholyCelia's whole care was to comfort and
One daywhen Celia was talking in her usual kind manner to
RosalindsayingI pray you, Rosalind, my sweet cousin, be
merry,a messenger entered from the duketo tell them that if
they wished to see a wrestling-matchwhich was just going to
beginthey must come instantly to the court before the palace;
and Celiathinking it would amuse Rosalindagreed to go and see
In those times wrestlingwhich is only practised now by country
clownswas a favorite sport even in the courts of princesand
before fair ladies and princesses. To this wrestling-match
thereforeCelia and Rosalind went. They found that it was likely
to prove a very tragical sight; for a large and powerful manwho
had been long practised in the art of wrestling and had slain
many men in contests of this kindwas just going to wrestle with
a very young manwhofrom his extreme youth and inexperience in
the artthe beholders all thought would certainly be killed.
When the duke saw Celia and Rosalind he said: "How nowdaughter
and nieceare you crept hither to see the wrestling? You will
take little delight in itthere is such odds in the men. In pity
to this young manI would wish to persuade him from wrestling.
Speak to himladiesand see if you can move him."
The ladies were well pleased to perform this humane officeand
first Celia entreated the young stranger that he would desist
from the attempt; and then Rosalind spoke so kindly to himand
with such feeling consideration for the danger he was about to
undergothatinstead of being persuaded by her gentle words to
forego his purposeall his thoughts were bent to distinguish
himself by his courage in this lovely lady's eyes. He refused the
request of Celia and Rosalind in such graceful and modest words
that they felt still more concern for him; he concluded his
refusal with saying:
I am sorry to deny such fair and excellent ladies anything. But
let your fair eyes and gentle wishes go with me to my trial,
wherein if I be conquered there is one shamed that was never
gracious; if I am killed, there is one dead that is willing to
die. I shall do my friends no wrong, for I have none to lament
me; the world no injury, for in it I have nothing; for I only
fill up a place in the world which may be better supplied when I
have made it empty.
And now the wrestling-match began. Celia wished the young
stranger might not be hurt; but Rosalind felt most for him. The
friendless state which he said he was inand that he wished to
diemade Rosalind think that he waslike herselfunfortunate;
and she pitied him so muchand so deep an interest she took in
his danger while he was wrestlingthat she might almost be said
at that moment to have fallen in love with him.
The kindness shown this unknown youth by these fair and noble
ladies gave him courage and strengthso that he performed
wonders; and in the end completely conquered his antagonistwho
was so much hurt that for a while he was unable to speak or move.
The Duke Frederick was much pleased with the courage and skill
shown by this young stranger; and desired to know his name and
parentagemeaning to take him under his protection.
The stranger said his name was Orlandoand that he was the
youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys.
Sir Rowland de Boysthe father of Orlandohad been dead some
years; but when he was living he had been a true subject and dear
friend of the banished duke; thereforewhen Frederick heard
Orlando was the son of his banished brother's friendall his
liking for this brave young man was changed into displeasure and
he left the place in very ill humor. Hating to bear the very name
of any of his brother's friendsand yet still admiring the valor
of the youthhe saidas he went outthat he wished Orlando had
been the son of any other man.
Rosalind was delighted to hear that her new favorite was the son
of her father's old friend; and she said to CeliaMy father
loved Sir Rowland de Boys, and if I had known this young man was
his son I would have added tears to my entreaties before he
should have ventured.
The ladies then went up to him andseeing him abashed by the
sudden displeasure shown by the dukethey spoke kind and
encouraging words to him; and Rosalindwhen they were going
awayturned back to speak some more civil things to the brave
young son of her father's old friendand taking a chain from off
her neckshe said:
Gentleman, wear this for me. I am out of suits with fortune, or
I would give you a more valuable present.
When the ladies were aloneRosalind's talk being still of
OrlandoCelia began to perceive her cousin had fallen in love
with the handsome young wrestlerand she said to Rosalind:
Is it possible you should fall in love so suddenly?
Rosalind repliedThe duke, my father, loved his father dearly.
But,said Celiadoes it therefore follow that you should love
his son dearly?. For then I ought to hate him, for my father
hated his father; yet do not hate Orlando.
Frederickbeing enraged at the sight of Sir Rowland de Boys's
sonwhich reminded him of the many friends the banished duke had
among the nobilityand having been for some time displeased with
his niece because the people praised her for her virtues and
pitied her for her good father's sakehis malice suddenly broke
out against her; and while Celia and Rosalind were talking of
OrlandoFrederick entered the room and with looks full of anger
ordered Rosalind instantly to leave the palace and follow her
father into banishmenttelling Celiawho in vain pleaded for
herthat he had only suffered Rosalind to stay upon her account.
I did not then,said Celiaentreat you to let her stay, for I
was too young at that time to value her; but now that I know her
worth, and that we so long have slept together, rose at the same
instant, learned, played, and eat together, I cannot live out of
Frederick replied: "She is too subtle for you; her smoothness
her very silenceand her patience speak to the peopleand they
pity her. You are a fool to plead for herfor you will seem more
bright and virtuous when she is gone; therefore open not your
lips in her favorfor the doom which I have passed upon her is
When Celia found she could not prevail upon her father to let
Rosalind remain with hershe generously resolved to accompany
her; andleaving her father's palace that nightshe went along
with her friend to seek Rosalind's fatherthe banished dukein
the forest of Arden.
Before they set out Celia considered that it would be unsafe for
two young ladies to travel in the rich clothes they then wore;
she therefore proposed that they should disguise their rank by
dressing themselves like country maids. Rosalind said it would be
a still greater protection if one of them was to be dressed like
a man. And so it was quickly agreed on between them thatas
Rosalind was the tallestshe should wear the dress of a young
countrymanand Celia should be habited like a country lassand
that they should say they were brother and sister; and Rosalind
said she would be called Ganymedeand Celia chose the name of
In this disguiseand taking their money and jewels to defray
their expensesthese fair princesses set out on their long
travel; for the forest of Arden was a long way offbeyond the
boundaries of the duke's dominions.
The lady Rosalind (or Ganymedeas she must now be called) with
her manly garb seemed to have put on a manly courage. The
faithful friendship Celia had shown in accompanying Rosalind so
many weary miles made the new brotherin recompense for this
true loveexert a cheerful spiritas if he were indeed
Ganymedethe rustic and stout-hearted brother of the gentle
When at last they came to the forest of Arden they no longer
found the convenient inns and good accommodations they had met
with on the roadandbeing in want of food and restGanymede
who had so merrily cheered his sister with pleasant speeches and
happy remarks all the waynow owned to Aliena that he was so
weary he could find in his heart to disgrace his man's apparel
and cry like a woman; and Aliena declared she could go no
farther; and then again Ganymede tried to recollect that it was a
man's duty to comfort and console a womanas the weaker vessel;
and to seem courageous to his new sisterhe said:
Come, have a good heart, my sister Aliena. We are now at the end
of our travel, in the forest of Arden.
But feigned manliness and forced courage would no longer support
them; forthough they were in the forest of Ardenthey knew not
where to find the duke. And here the travel of these weary ladies
might have come to a sad conclusionfor they might have lost
themselves and perished for want of foodbutprovidentiallyas
they were sitting on the grassalmost dying with fatigue and
hopeless of any reliefa countryman chanced to pass that way
and Ganymede once more tried to speak with a manly boldness
Shepherd, if love or gold can in this desert place procure us
entertainment, I pray you bring us where we may rest ourselves;
for this young maid, my sister, is much fatigued with traveling,
and faints for want of food.
The man replied that he was only a servant to a shepherdand
that his master's house was just going to be soldand therefore
they would find but poor entertainment; but that if they would go
with him they should be welcome to what there was. They followed
the manthe near prospect of relief giving them fresh strength
and bought the house and sheep of the shepherdand took the man
who conducted them to the shepherd's house to wait on them; and
being by this means so fortunately provided with a neat cottage
and well supplied with provisionsthey agreed to stay here till
they could learn in what part of the forest the duke dwelt.
When they were rested after the fatigue of their journeythey
began to like their new way of lifeand almost fancied
themselves the shepherd and shepherdess they feigned to be. Yet
sometimes Ganymede remembered be had once been the same Lady
Rosalind who had so dearly loved the brave Orlando because be was
the son of old Sir Rowlandher father's friend; and though
Ganymede thought that Orlando was many miles distanteven so
many weary miles as they had traveledyet it soon appeared that
Orlando was also in the forest of Arden. And in this manner this
strange event came to pass.
Orlando was the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boyswhowhen he
diedleft him (Orlando being then very young) to the care of his
eldest brotherOlivercharging Oliver on his blessing to give
his brother a good education and provide for him as became the
dignity of their ancient house. Oliver proved an unworthy
brotheranddisregarding the commands of his dying fatherhe
never put his brother to schoolbut kept him at home untaught
and entirely neglected. But in his nature and in the noble
qualities of his mind Orlando so much resembled his excellent
father thatwithout any advantages of educationhe seemed like
a youth who had been bred with the utmost care; and Oliver so
envied the fine person and dignified manners of his untutored
brother that at last he wished to destroy himand to effect this
be set on people to persuade him to wrestle with the famous
wrestler whoas has been before relatedhad killed so many men.
Now it was this cruel brother's neglect of him which made Orlando
say he wished to diebeing so friendless.
Whencontrary to the wicked hopes he had formedhis brother
proved victorioushis envy and malice knew no boundsand he
swore he would burn the chamber where Orlando slept. He was
overheard making his vow by one that had been an old and faithful
servant to their fatherand that loved Orlando because he
resembled Sir Rowland. This old man went out to meet him when he
returned from the duke's palaceand when he saw Orlando the
peril his dear young master was in made him break out into these
O my gentle master, my sweet master! O you memory of Old Sir
Rowland! Why are you virtuous? Why are you gentle, strong, and
valiant? And why would you be so fond to overcome the famous
wrestler? Your praise is come too swiftly home before you.
Orlandowondering what all this meantasked him what was the
matter. And then the old man told him how his wicked brother
envying the love all people bore himand now hearing the fame he
had gained by his victory in the duke's palaceintended to
destroy him by setting fire to his chamber that nightand in
conclusion advised him to escape the danger he was in by
instant flight; and knowing Orlando had no moneyAdam (for that
was the good old man's name) had brought out with him his own
little hoardand he said:
I have five hundred crowns, the thrifty hire I saved under your
father and laid by to be provision for me when my old limbs
should become unfit for service. Take that, and He that doth the
ravens feed be comfort to my age! Here is the gold. All this I
give to you. Let me be your servant; though I look old I will do
the service of a younger man in all your business and
O good old man!said Orlandohow well appears in you the
constant service of the old world! You are not for the fashion of
these times. We will go along together, and before your youthful
wages are spent I shall light upon some means for both our
Togetherthenthis faithful servant and his loved master set
out; and Orlando and Adam traveled onuncertain what course to
pursuetill they came to the forest of Ardenand there they
found themselves in the same distress for want of food that
Ganymede and Aliena had been. They wandered onseeking some
human habitationtill they were almost spent with hunger and
Adam at last said: "O my dear masterI die for want of food. I
can go no farther!" He then laid himself downthinking to make
that place his graveand bade his dear master farewell.
Orlandoseeing him in this weak statetook his old servant up
in his arms and carried him under the shelter of some pleasant
trees; and he said to him: "Cheerlyold Adam. Rest your weary
limbs here awhileand do not talk of dying!"
Orlando then searched about to find some foodand he happened to
arrive at that part of the forest where the duke was; and he and
his friends were just going to eat their dinnerthis royal duke
being seated on the grassunder no other canopy than the shady
covert of some large trees.
Orlandowhom hunger had made desperatedrew his sword
intending to take their meat by forceand said: "Forbear and eat
no more. I must have your food!"
The duke asked him if distress had made him so bold or if he were
a rude despiser of good manners. On this Orlando said he was
dying with hunger; and then the duke told him he was welcome to
sit down and eat with them. Orlandohearing him speak so gently
put up his sword and blushed with shame at the rude manner in
which he had demanded their food.
Pardon me, I pray you,said he. "I thought that all things had
been savage hereand therefore I put on the countenance of stern
command; but whatever men you are that in this desertunder the
shade of melancholy boughslose and neglect the creeping hours
of timeif ever you have looked on better daysif ever you have
been where bells have knolled to churchif you have ever sat at
any good man's feastif ever from your eyelids you have wiped a
tear and know what it is to pity or be pitiedmay gentle
speeches now move you to do me human courtesy!"
The duke replied: "True it is that we are men (as you say) who
have seen better daysand though we have now our habitation in
this wild forestwe have lived in towns and cities and have with
holy bell been knolled to churchhave sat at good men's feasts
and from our eyes have wiped the drops which sacred pity has
engendered; therefore sit you down and take of our refreshment as
much as will minister to your wants."
There is an old poor man,answered Orlandowho has limped
after me many a weary step in pure love, oppressed at once with
two sad infirmities, age and hunger; till he be satisfied I must
not touch a bit.
Go, find him out and bring him hither,said the duke. "We will
forbear to eat till you return."
Then Orlando went like a doe to find its fawn and give it food;
and presently returnedbringing Adam in his arms.
And the duke saidSet down your venerable burthen; you are both
And they fed the old man and cheered his heartand he revived
and recovered his health and strength again.
The duke inquired who Orlando was; and when he found that he was
the son of his old friendSir Rowland de Boysbe took him under
his protectionand Orlando and his old servant lived with the
duke in the forest.
Orlando arrived in the forest not many days after Ganymede and
Aliena came there and (as has been before related) bought the
Ganymede and Aliena were strangely surprised to find the name of
Rosalind carved on the treesand love-sonnets fastened to them
all addressed to Rosalind; and while they were wondering how this
could be they met Orlando and they perceived the chain which
Rosalind had given him about his neck.
Orlando little thought that Ganymede was the fair Princess
Rosalind whoby her noble condescension and favorhad so won
his heart that he passed his whole time in carving her name upon
the trees and writing sonnets in praise of her beauty; but being
much pleased with the graceful air of this pretty shepherd-youth
he entered into conversation with himand be thought he saw a
likeness in Ganymede to his beloved Rosalindbut that he had
none of the dignified deportment of that noble lady; for Ganymede
assumed the forward manners often seen in youths when they are
between boys and men-and with much archness and humor talked to
Orlando of a certain loverwho,said shehaunts our forest,
and spoils our young trees with carving Rosalind upon their
barks; and he hangs odes upon hawthorns, and elegies on brambles,
all praising this same Rosalind. If I could find this lover, I
would give him some good counsel that would soon cure him of his
Orlando confessed that he was the fond lover of whom he spoke
and asked Ganymede to give him the good counsel he talked Of. The
remedy Ganymede proposedand the counsel he gave him was that
Orlando should come every day to the cottage where he and his
sister Aliena dwelt.
And then,said GanymedeI will feign myself to be Rosalind,
and you shall feign to court me in the same manner as you would
do if I was Rosalind, and then I will imitate the fantastic ways
of whimsical ladies to their lovers, till I make you ashamed of
your love; and this is the way I propose to cure you.
Orlando had no great faith in the remedyyet he agreed to come
every day to Ganymede's cottage and feign a playful courtship;
and every day Orlando visited Ganymede and Alienaand Orlando
called the shepherd Ganymede his Rosalindand every day talked
over all the fine words and flattering compliments which young
men delight to use when they court their mistresses. It does not
appearhoweverthat Ganymede made any progress in curing
Orlando of his love for Rosalind.
Though Orlando thought all this was but a sportive play (not
dreaming that Ganymede was his very Rosalind)yet the
opportunity it gave him of saying all the fond things he had in
his heart pleased his fancy almost as well as it did Ganymede's
who enjoyed the secret jest in knowing these fine love-speeches
were all addressed to the right person.
In this manner many days passed pleasantly on with these young
people; and the good-natured Alienaseeing it made Ganymede
happylet him have his own way and was diverted at the
mock-courtshipand did not care to remind Ganymede that the Lady
Rosalind had not yet made herself known to the duke her father
whose place of resort in the forest they had learned from
Orlando. Ganymede met the duke one dayand had some talk with
himand the duke asked of what parentage he came. Ganymede
answered that he came of as good parentage as he didwhich made
the duke smilefor he did not suspect the pretty shepherd-boy
came of royal lineage. Then seeing the duke look well and happy
Ganymede was content to put off all further explanation for a few
One morningas Orlando was going to visit Ganymedehe saw a man
lying asleep on the groundand a large green snake had twisted
itself about his neck. The snakeseeing Orlando approachglided
away among the bushes. Orlando went nearerand then he
discovered a lioness lie crouchingwith her head on the ground
with a catlike watchwaiting until the sleeping man awaked (for
it is said that lions will prey on nothing that is dead or
sleeping). It seemed as if Orlando was sent by Providence to free
the man from the danger of the snake and lioness; but when
Orlando looked in the man's face he perceived that the sleeper
who was exposed to this double peril was his own brother Oliver
who had so cruelly used him and had threatened to destroy him by
fireand he was almost tempted to leave him a prey to the hungry
lioness; but brotherly affection and the gentleness of his nature
soon overcame his first anger against his brother; and he drew
his sword and attacked the lioness and slew herand thus
preserved his brother's life both from the venomous snake and
from the furious lioness; but before Orlando could conquer the
lioness she had torn one of his arms with her sharp claws.
While Orlando was engaged with the lionessOliver awakedand
perceiving that his brother Orlandowhom he had so cruelly
treatedwas saving him from the fury of a wild beast at the risk
of his own lifeshame and remorse at once seized himand he
repented of his unworthy conduct and besought with many tears his
brother's pardon for the injuries he had done him. Orlando
rejoiced to see him so penitentand readily forgave him. They
embraced each other and from that hour Oliver loved Orlando with
a true brotherly affectionthough he had come to the forest bent
on his destruction.
The wound in Orlando's arm having bled very muchhe found
himself too weak to go to visit Ganymedeand therefore he
desired his brother to go and tell Ganymedewhom,said
OrlandoI in sport do call my Rosalind,the accident which had
Thither then Oliver wentand told to Ganymede and Aliena how
Orlando had saved his life; and when he had finished the story of
Orlando's bravery and his own providential escape he owned to
them that he was Orlando's brother who had so cruelly used him;
and then be told them of their reconciliation.
The sincere sorrow that Oliver expressed for his offenses made
such a lively impression on the kind heart of Aliena that she
instantly fell in love with him; and Oliver observing how much
she pitied the distress he told her he felt for his faulthe as
suddenly fell in love with her. But while love was thus stealing
into the hearts of Aliena and Oliverhe was no less busy with
Ganymedewhohearing of the danger Orlando had been inand
that he was wounded by the lionessfainted; and when he
recovered he pretended that he had counterfeited the swoon in the
imaginary character of Rosalindand Ganymede said to Oliver:
Tell your brother Orlando how well I counterfeited a swoon.
But Oliver saw by the paleness of his complexion that he did
really faintandmuch wondering at the weakness of the young
manhe saidWell, if you did counterfeit, take a good heart
and counterfeit to be a man.
So I do,replied Ganymedetrulybut I should have been a
woman by right.
Oliver made this visit a very long oneand when at last he
returned back to his brother he had much news to tell him; for
besides the account of Ganymede's fainting at the hearing that
Orlando was woundedOliver told him how he had fallen in love
with the fair shepherdess Alienaand that she had lent a
favorable ear to his suiteven in this their first interview;
and he talked to his brotheras of a thing almost settledthat
he should marry Alienasaying that he so well loved her that he
would live here as a shepherd and settle his estate and house at
home upon Orlando.
You have my consent,said Orlando. "Let your wedding be
to-morrowand I will invite the duke and his friends. Go
and persuade your shepherdess to agree to this. She is now alone
forlookhere comes her brother."
Oliver went to Alienaand Ganymedewhom Orlando had perceived
approachingcame to inquire after the health of his wounded
When Orlando and Ganymede began to talk over the sudden love
which had taken place between Oliver and. AlienaOrlando said be
had advised his brother to persuade his fair shepherdess to be
married on the morrowand then he added how much he could wish
to be married on the same day to his Rosalind.
Ganymedewho well approved of this arrangementsaid that if
Orlando really loved Rosalind as well as he professed to dohe
should have his wish; for on the morrow he would engage to make
Rosalind appear in her own personand also that Rosalind should
be willing to marry Orlando.
This seemingly wonderful eventwhichas Ganymede was the Lady
Rosalindhe could so easily performbe pretended he would bring
to pass by the aid of magicwhich he said he had learned of an
uncle who was a famous magician.
The fond lover Orlandohalf believing and half doubting what he
heardasked Ganymede if he spoke in sober meaning.
By my life I do,said Ganymede. "Therefore put on your best
clothesand bid the duke and your friends to your weddingfor
if you desire to be married to-morrow to Rosalindshe shall be
The next morningOliver having obtained the consent of Aliena
they came into the presence of the dukeand with them also came
They being all assembled to celebrate this double marriageand
as yet only one of the brides appearingthere was much of
wondering and conjecturebut they mostly thought that Ganymede
was making a jest of Orlando.
The dukehearing that it was his own daughter that was to be
brought in this strange wayasked Orlando if he believed the
shepherd-boy could really do what he had promised; and while
Orlando was answering that he knew not what to thinkGanymede
entered and asked the dukeif he brought his daughterwhether
he would consent to her marriage with Orlando.
That I would,said the dukeif I had kingdoms to give with
Ganymede then said to OrlandoAnd you say you will marry her if
I bring her here.
That I would,said Orlandoif I were king of many kingdoms.
Ganymede and Aliena then went out togetherandGanymede
throwing off his male attireand being once more dressed in
woman's apparelquickly became Rosalind without the power of
magic; and Alienachanging her country garb for her own rich
clotheswas with as little trouble transformed into the lady
While they were gonethe duke said to Orlando that he thought
the shepherd Ganymede very like his daughter Rosalind; and
Orlando said he also had observed the resemblance.
They had no time to wonder how all this would endfor Rosalind
and Celiain their own clothesenteredandno longer
pretending that it was by the power of magic that she came there
Rosalind threw herself on her knees before her father and begged
his blessing. It seemed so wonderful to all present that she
should so suddenly appearthat it might well have passed for
magic; but Rosalind would no longer trifle with her fatherand
told him the story of her banishmentand of her dwelling in the
forest as a shepherd-boyher cousin Celia passing as her sister.
The duke ratified the consent he had already given to the
marriage; and Orlando and RosalindOliver and Celiawere
married at the same time. And though their wedding could not be
celebrated in this wild forest with any of the parade of splendor
usual on such occasionsyet a happier wedding-day was never
passed. And while they were eating their venison under the cool
shade of the pleasant treesas if nothing should be wanting to
complete the felicity of this good duke and the true loversan
unexpected messenger arrived to tell the duke the joyful news
that his dukedom was restored to him.
The usurperenraged at the flight of his daughter Celiaand
hearing that every day men of great worth resorted to the forest
of Arden to join the lawful duke in his exilemuch envying that
his brother should be so highly respected in his adversityput
himself at the head of a large force and advanced toward the
forestintending to seize his brother and put him with all his
faithful followers to the sword; but by a wonderful interposition
of Providence this bad brother was converted from his evil
intentionfor just as he entered the skirts of the wild forest
he was met by an old religious mana hermitwith whom he had
much talk and who in the end completely turned his heart from his
wicked design. Thenceforward he became a true penitentand
resolvedrelinquishing his unjust dominionto spend the
remainder of his days in a religious house. The first act of his
newly conceived penitence was to send a messenger to his brother
(as has been related) to offer to restore to him his dukedom
which be had usurped so longand with it the lands and revenues
of his friendsthe faithful followers of his adversity.
This joyful newsas unexpected as it was welcomecame
opportunely to heighten the festivity and rejoicings at the
wedding of the princesses. Celia complimented her cousin on this
goodfortune which had happened to the dukeRosalind's father
and wished her joy very sincerelythough she herself was no
longer heir to the dukedombut by this restoration which her
father had madeRosalind was now the heirso completely was the
love of these two cousins unmixed with anything of jealousy or of
The duke had now an opportunity of rewarding those true friends
who had stayed with him in his banishment; and these worthy
followersthough they had patiently shared his adverse fortune
were very well pleased to return in peace and prosperityto the
palace of their lawful duke.
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA
There lived in the city of Verona two young gentlemenwhose
names were Valentine and Proteusbetween whom a firm and
uninterrupted friendship had long subsisted. They pursued their
studies togetherand their hours of leisure were always passed
in each other's companyexcept when Proteus visited a lady he
was in love with. And these visits to his mistressand this
passion of Proteus for the fair Juliawere the only topics on
which these two friends disagreed; for Valentinenot being
himself a loverwas sometimes a little weary of bearing his
friend forever talking of his Juliaand then he would laugh at
Proteusand in pleasant terms ridicule the passion of loveand
declare that no such idle fancies should ever enter his head
greatly preferring (as he said) the free and happy life he led to
the anxious hopes and fears of the lover Proteus.
One morning Valentine came to Proteus to tell him that they must
for a time be separatedfor that he was going to Milan. Proteus
unwilling to part with his friendused many arguments to prevail
upon Valentine not to leave him. But Valentine said:
Cease to persuade me, my loving Proteus. I will not, like a
sluggard, wear out my youth in idleness at home. Home-keeping
youths have ever homely wits. If your affection were not chained
to the sweet glances of your honored Julia, I would entreat you
to accompany me, to see the wonders of the world abroad; but
since you are a lover, love on still, and may your love be
They parted with mutual expressions of unalterable friendship.
Sweet Valentine, adieu!said Proteus. "Think on me when you see
some rare object worthy of notice in your travelsand wish me
partaker of your happiness."
Valentine began his journey that same day toward Milan; and when
his friend had left himProteus sat down to write a letter to
Juliawhich he gave to her maid Lucetta to deliver to her
Julia loved Proteus as well as he did herbut she was a lady of
a noble spiritand she thought it did not become her maiden
dignity too easily to be won; therefore she affected to be
insensible of his passion and gave him much uneasiness in the
prosecution of his suit.
And when Lucettaoffered the letter to Julia she would not
receive itand chid her maid for taking letters from Proteus
and ordered her to leave the room. But she so much wished to see
what was written in the letter that she soon called in her maid
again; and when Lucetta returned she saidWhat o'clock is it?
Lucettawho knew her mistress more desired to see the letter
than to know the time of daywithout answering her question
again offered the rejected letter. Juliaangry that her maid
should thus take the liberty of seeming to know what she really
wantedtore the letter in pieces and threw it on the floor
ordering her maid once more out of the room. As Lucetta was
retiringshe stopped to pick up the fragments of the torn
letter; but Juliawho meant not so to part with themsaidin
pretended angerGo, get you gone, and let the papers lie; you
would be fingering them to anger me.
Julia then began to piece together as well as she could the torn
fragments. She first made out these wordsLove-wounded
Proteus; and lamenting over these and such like loving words
which she made out though they were all torn asunderorshe
said WOUNDED (the expression "Love-wounded Proteus" giving her
that idea)she talked to these kind wordstelling them she
would lodge them in her bosom as in a bedtill their wounds were
healedand that she would kiss each several piece to make
In this manner she went on talking with a prettyladylike
childishnesstillfinding herself unable to make out the whole
and vexed at her own ingratitude in destroying such sweet and
loving wordsas she called themshe wrote a much kinder letter
to Proteus than she had ever done before.
Proteus was greatly delighted at receiving this favorable answer
to his letter. And while he was reading it he exclaimedSweet
love! sweet lines! sweet life!
In the midst of his raptures he was interrupted by his father.
How now?said the old gentleman. "What letter are you reading
My lord,replied Proteusit is a letter from my friend
Valentine, at Milan.
Lend me the letter,said his father. "Let me see what news."
There is no news, my lord,said Proteusgreatly alarmedbut
that he writes how well beloved he is of the Duke of Milan, who
daily graces him with favors, and how he wishes me with him, the
partner of his fortune.
And how stand you affected to his wish?asked the father.
As one relying on your lordship's will and not depending on his
friendly wish,said Proteus.
Now it had happened that Proteus's father had just been talking
with a friend on this very subject. His friend had said he
wondered his lordship suffered his son to spend his youth at home
while most men were sending their sons to seek preferment abroad.
Some,said heto the wars, to try their fortunes there, and
some to discover islands far away, and some to study in foreign
universities. And there is his companion Valentine; he is gone to
the Duke of Milan's court. Your son is fit for any of these
things, and it will be a great disadvantage to him in his riper
age not to have traveled in his youth.
Proteus's father thought the advice of his friend was very good
and upon Proteus telling him that Valentine "wished him with him
the partner of his fortune he at once determined to send his
son to Milan; and without giving Proteus any reason for this
sudden resolution, it being the usual habit of this positive old
gentleman to command his son, not reason with him, he said:
My will is the same as Valentine's wish." And seeing his son
look astonishedhe added: "Look not amazedthat I so suddenly
resolve you shall spend some time in the Duke of Milan's court;
for what I will I willand there is an end. Tomorrow be in
readiness to go. Make no excusesfor I am peremptory."
Proteus knew it was of no use to make objections to his father
who never suffered him to dispute his will; and he blamed himself
for telling his father an untruth about Julia's letterwhich had
brought upon him the sad necessity of leaving her.
Now that Julia found she was going to lose Proteus for so long a
time she no longer pretended indifference; and they bade each
other a mournful farewellwith many vows of love and constancy.
Proteus and Julia exchanged ringswhich they both promised to
keep forever in remembrance of each other; and thustaking a
sorrowful leaveProteus set out on his journey to Milanthe
abode of his friend Valentine.
Valentine was in realitywhat Proteus had feigned to his father
in high favor with the Duke of Milan; and another event had
happened to him of which Proteus did not even dreamfor
Valentine had given up the freedom of which he used so much to
boastand was become as passionate a lover as Proteus.
She who had wrought this wondrous change in Valentine was the
Lady Silviadaughter of the Duke of Milanand she also loved
him; but they concealed their love from the dukebecause
although he showed much kindness for Valentine and invited him
every day to his palaceyet he designed to marry his daughter to
a young courtier whose name was Thurio. Silvia despised this
Thuriofor he had none of the fine sense and excellent qualities
These two rivalsThurio and Valentinewere one day on a visit
to Silviaand Valentine was entertaining Silvia with turning
everything Thurio said into ridiculewhen the duke himself
entered the room and told Valentine the welcome news of his
friend Proteus's arrival.
Valentine saidIf I had wished a thing, it would have been to
have seen him here!And then he highly praised Proteus to the
dukesayingMy lord, though I have been a truant of my time,
yet hath my friend made use and fair advantage of his days, and
is complete in person and in mind, in all good grace to grace a
Welcome him, then, according to his worth,said the duke.
Silvia, I speak to you, and you, Sir Thurio; for Valentine, I
need not bid him do so.
They were here interrupted by the entrance of Proteusand
Valentine introduced him to SilviasayingSweet lady,
entertain him to be my fellow-servant to your ladyship.
When Valentine and Proteus had ended their visitand were alone
Now tell me how all does from whence you came? How does your
lady, and how thrives your love?
Proteus replied: "My tales of love used to weary you. I know you
joy not in a love discourse."
Aye, Proteus,returned Valentinebut that life is altered
now. I have done penance for condemning love. For in revenge of
my contempt of love, love has chased sleep from my enthralled
eyes. O gentle Proteus, Love is a mighty lord, and hath so
humbled me that I confess there is no woe like his correction nor
no such joy on earth as in his service. I now like no discourse
except it be of love. Now I can break my fast, dine, sup, and
sleep upon the very name of love.
This acknowledgment of the change which love had made inthe
disposition of Valentine was a great triumph to his friend
Proteus. But "friend" Proteus must be called no longerfor the
same all-powerful deity Loveof whom they were speaking (yea
even while they were talking of the change he had made in
Valentine)was working in the heart of Proteus; and hewho had
till this time been a pattern of true love and perfect
friendshipwas nowin one short interview with Silviabecome a
false friend and a faithless lover; for at the first sight of
Silvia all his love for Julia vanished away like a dreamnor did
his long friendship for Valentine deter him from endeavoring to
supplant him in her affections; and althoughas it will always
bewhen people of dispositions naturally good become unjustbe
bad many scruples before he determined to forsake Julia and
become the rival of Valentineyet be at length overcame his
sense of duty and yielded himself upalmost without remorseto
his new unhappy passion.
Valentine imparted to him in confidence the whole history of his
loveand how carefully they had concealed it from the duke her
fatherand told him thatdespairing of ever being able to
obtain his consenthe had prevailed upon Silvia to leave her
father's palace that night and go with him to Mantua; then he
showed Proteus a ladder of ropes by help of which he meant to
assist Silvia to get out of one of the windows of the palace
after it was dark.
Upon hearing this faithful recital of his friend's dearest
secretsit is hardly possible to be believedbut so it was that
Proteus resolved to go to the duke and disclose the whole to him.
This false friend began his tale with many artful speeches to the
dukesuch as that by the laws of friendship he ought to conceal
what he was going to revealbut that the gracious favor the duke
had shown himand the duty he owed his graceurged him to tell
that which else no worldly good should draw from him. He then
told all he had heard from Valentinenot omitting the ladder of
ropes and the manner in which Valentine meant to conceal them
under a long cloak.
The duke thought Proteus quite a miracle of integrityin that he
preferred telling his friend's intention rather than he would
conceal an unjust action; highly commended himand promised him
not to let Valentine know from whom he had learned this
intelligencebut by some artifice to make Valentine betray the
secret himself. For this purpose the duke awaited the coming of
Valentine in the eveningwhom he soon saw hurrying toward the
palaceand he perceived somewhat was wrapped within his cloak
which he concluded was the rope ladder.
The dukeupon thisstopped himsayingWhither away so fast,
May it please your grace,said Valentinethere is a messenger
that stays to bear my letters to my friends, and I am going to
Now this falsehood of Valentine's had no better success in the
event than the untruth Proteus told his father.
Be they of much import?said the duke.
No more, my lord,said Valentinethan to tell my father I am
well and happy at your grace's court.
Nay then,said the dukeno matter; stay with me awhile. I
wish your counsel about some affairs that concern me nearly.
He then told Valentine an artful storyas a prelude to draw his
secret from himsaying that Valentine knew he wished to match
his daughter with Thuriobut that she was stubborn and
disobedient to his commands.
Neither regarding,said hethat she is my child nor fearing
me as if I were her father. And I may say to thee this pride of
hers has drawn my love from her. I had thought my age should have
been cherished by her childlike duty. I now am resolved to take a
wife, and turn her out to whosoever will take her in. Let her
beauty be her wedding dower, for me and my possessions she
Valentinewondering where all this would endmade answerAnd
what would your grace have me to do in all this?
Why,said the dukethe lady I would wish to marry is nice and
coy and does not much esteem my aged eloquence. Besides, the
fashion of courtship is much changed since I was young. Now I
would willingly have you to be my tutor to instruct me how I am
Valentine gave him a general idea of the modes of courtship then
practised by young men when they wished to win a fair lady's
lovesuch as presentsfrequent visitsand the like.
The duke replied to this that the lady did refuse a present which
he sent herand that she was so strictly kept by her father that
no man might have access to her by day.
Why, then,said Valentineyou must visit her by night.
But at night,said the artful dukewho was now coming to the
drift of his discourseher doors are fast locked.
Valentine then unfortunately proposed that the duke should get
into the lady's chamber at night by means of a ladder of ropes
saying he would procure him one fitting for that purpose; and in
conclusion advised him to conceal this ladder of ropes under such
a cloak as that which he now wore.
Lend me your cloak,said the dukewho had feigned this long
story on purpose to have a pretense to get off the cloak; so upon
saying these words he caught hold of Valentine's cloak and
throwing it backhe discovered not only the ladder of ropes but
also a letter of Silvia'swhich he instantly opened and read;
and this letter contained a full account of their intended
elopement. The dukeafter upbraiding Valentine for his
ingratitude in thus returning the favor he had shown himby
endeavoring to steal away his daughterbanished him from the
court and city of Milan foreverand Valentine was forced to
depart that night without even seeing Silvia.
While Proteus at Milan was thus injuring ValentineJulia at
Verona was regretting the absence of Proteus; and her regard for
him at last so far overcame her sense of propriety that she
resolved to leave Verona and seek her lover at Milan; and to
secure herself from danger on the road she dressed her maiden
Lucetta and herself in men's clothes-. and they set out in this
disguiseand arrived at Milan soon after Valentine was banished
from thatcity through the treachery of Proteus.
Julia entered Milan about noonand she took up her abode at an
inn; andher thoughts being all on her dear Proteusshe entered
into conversation with the innkeeper--or hostas he was
called--thinking by that means to learn some news of Proteus.
The host was greatly pleased that this handsome young gentleman
(as he took her to be)who from his appearance be concluded was
of high rankspoke so familiarly to himandbeing a
good-natured manhe was sorry to see him look so melancholy; and
to amuse his young guest he offered to take him to hear some fine
musicwith whichhe saida gentleman that evening was going to
serenade his mistress.
The reason Julia looked so very melancholy wasthat she did not
well know what Proteus would think of the imprudent step she had
takenfor she knew he had loved her for her noble maiden pride
and dignity of characterand she feared she should lower herself
in his esteem; and this it was that made her wear a sad and
She gladly accepted the offer of the host to go with him and hear
the music; for she secretly hoped she might meet Proteus by the
But when she came to the palace whither the host conducted a very
different effect was produced to what the kind host intended; for
thereto her heart's sorrowshe beheld her loverthe
inconstant Proteusserenading the Lady Silvia with musicand
addressing discourse of love and admiration to her. And Julia
overheard Silvia from a window talk with Proteusand reproach
him for forsaking his own true ladyand for his ingratitude his
friend Valentine; and then Silvia left the windownot choosing
to listen to his music and his fine speeches; for she was a
faithful lady to her banished Valentineand abhorred the
ungenerous conduct of his false friendProteus.
Though Julia was in despair at what she had just witnessedyet
did she still love the truant Proteus; and hearing that he had
lately parted with a servantshe contrivedwith the assistance
of her hostthe friendly innkeeperto hire herself to Proteus
as a page; and Proteus knew not she was Juliaand he sent her
with letters and presents to her rivalSilviaand he even sent
by her the very ring she gave him as a parting gift at Verona.
When she went to that lady with the ring she was most glad to
find that Silvia utterly rejected the suit of Proteus; and
Julia--or the page Sebastianas she was calledentered into
conversation with Silvia about Proteus's first lovethe forsaken
Lady Julia. She putting in (as one may say) a good word for
herselfsaid she knew Julia; as well she mightbeing herself
the Julia of whom she spoke; telling how fondly Julia loved her
masterProteusand how his unkind neglect would grieve her. And
then she with a pretty equivocation went on: "Julia is about my
heightand of my complexionthe color of her eyes and hair the
same as mine." And indeed Julia looked a most beautiful youth in
her boy's attire.
Silvia was moved to pity this lovely lady who was so sadly
forsaken by the man she loved; and when Julia offered the ring
which Proteus had sentrefused itsaying:
The more shame for him that he sends me that ring. I will not
take it, for I have often heard him say his Julia gave it to him.
I love thee, gentle youth, for pitying her, poor lady! Here is a
purse; I give it you for Julia's sake.
These comfortable words coming from her kind rival's tongue
cheered the drooping heart of the disguised lady.
But to return to the banished Valentinewho scarce knew which
way to bend his coursebeing unwilling to return home to his
father a disgraced and banished man. As he was wandering over a
lonely forestnot far distant from Milanwhere he had left his
heart's dear treasurethe Lady Silviahe was set upon by
robberswho demanded his money.
Valentine told them that he was a man crossed by adversitythat
be was going into banishmentand that he had no moneythe
clothes he had on being all his riches.
The robbershearing that he was a distressed manand being
struck with his noble air and manly behaviortold him if he
would live with them and be their chiefor captainthey would
put themselves under his command; but that if he refused to
accept their offer they would kill him.
Valentinewho cared little what became of himselfsaid he would
consent to live with them and be their captainprovided they did
no outrage on women or poor passengers.
Thus the noble Valentine becamelike Robin Hoodof whom we read
in balladsa captain of robbers and outlawed banditti; and in
this situation he was found by Silviaand in this manner it came
Silviato avoid a marriage with Thuriowhom her father insisted
upon her no longer refusingcame at last to the resolution of
following Valentine to Mantuaat which place she had heard her
lover had taken refuge; but in this account she was misinformed
for he still lived in the forest among the robbershearing the
name of their captainbut taking no part in their depredations
and using the authority which they had imposed upon him in no
other way than to compel them to show compassion to the travelers
Silvia contrived to effect her escape from her father's palace in
company with a worthy old gentleman whose name was Eglamourwhom
she took along with her for protection on the road. She had to
pass through the forest where Valentine and the banditti dwelt;
and one of these robbers seized on Silviaand would also have
taken Eglamourbut he escaped.
The robber who had taken Silviaseeing the terror she was in
bade her not be alarmedfor that he was only going to carry her
to a cave where his captain livedand that she need not be
afraidfor their captain had an honorable mind and always showed
humanity to women. Silvia found little comfort in hearing she was
going to be carried as a prisoner before the captain of a lawless
O Valentine,she criedthis I endure for thee!
But as the robber was conveying her to the cave of his captain he
was stopped by Proteuswhostill attended by Julia in the
disguise of a pagehaving heard of the flight of Silviahad
traced her steps to this forest. Proteus now rescued her from the
hands the robber; but scarce had she time to thank him for the
service he had done her before be began to distress her afresh
with his love suit; and while he was rudely pressing her to
consent to marry himand his page (the forlorn Julia) was
standing beside him in great anxiety of mindfearing lest the
great service which Proteus had just done to Silvia should win
her to show him some favorthey were all strangely surprised
with the sudden appearance of Valentinewhohaving heard his
robbers had taken a lady prisonercame to console and relieve
Proteus was courting Silviaand he was so much ashamed of being
caught by his friend that he was all at once seized with
penitence and remorse; and he expressed such a lively sorrow for
the injuries he had done to Valentine that Valentinewhose
nature was noble and generouseven to a romantic degreenot
only forgave and restored him to his former place in his
friendshipbut in a sudden flight of heroism he said:
I freely do forgive you; and all the interest I have in Silvia I
give it up to you.
Juliawho was standing beside her master as a pagehearing this
strange offerand fearing Proteus would not be able with this
new-found virtue to refuse Silviafainted; and they were all
employed in recovering herelse would Silvia have been offended
at being thus made over to Proteusthough she could scarcely
think that Valentine would long persevere in this overstrained
and too generous act of friendship. When Julia recovered from the
fainting fitshe said:
I had forgot, my master ordered me to deliver this ring to
Proteuslooking upon the ringsaw that it was the one he gave
to Julia in return for that which he received from her and which
he had sent by the supposed page to Silvia.
How is this?said he. "This is Julia's ring. How came you by
Julia answeredJulia herself did give it me, and Julia herself
hath brought it hither.
Proteusnow looking earnestly upon herplainly perceived that
the page Sebastian was no other than the Lady Julia herself; and
the proof she had given of her constancy and true love so wrought
in him that his love for her returned into his heartand he took
again his own dear lady and joyfully resigned all pretensions to
the Lady Silvia to Valentinewho had so well deserved her.
Proteus and Valentine were expressing their happiness in their
reconciliationand in the love of their faithful ladieswhen
they were surprised with the sight of the Duke of Milan and
Thuriowho came there in pursuit of Silvia.
Thurio first approachedand attempted to seize Silviasaying
Silvia is mine.
Upon this Valentine said to him in a very spirited manner:
Thurio, keep back. If once again you say that Silvia is yours,
you shall embrace your death. Here she stands, take but
possession of her with a touch! I dare you but to breathe upon my
Hearing this threatThuriowho was a great cowarddrew back
and said he cared not for her and that none but a fool would
fight for a girl who loved him not.
The dukewho was a very brave man himselfsaid nowin great
angerThe more base and degenerate in you to take such means
for her as you have done and leave her on such slight
Then turning to Valentine he said: "I do applaud your spirit
Valentineand think you worthy of an empress's love. You shall
have Silviafor you have well deserved her."
Valentine then with great humility kissed the duke's hand and
accepted the noble present which he had made him of his daughter
with becoming thankfulnesstaking occasion of this joyful minute
to entreat the good-humored duke to pardon the thieves with whom
he had associated in the forestassuring him that when reformed
and restored to society there would be found among them many
goodand fit for great employment; for the most of them had been
banishedlike Valentinefor state offensesrather than for any
black crimes they had been guilty of. To this the' ready duke
consented. And now nothing remained but that Proteusthe false
friendwas ordainedby way of penance for his love-prompted
faultsto be present at the recital of the whole story of his
loves and falsehoods before the duke. And the shame of the
recital to his awakened conscience was judged sufficient
punishment; which being donethe loversall fourreturned back
to Milanand their nuptials were solemnized in the presence of
the dukewith high triumphs and feasting.
MERCHANT OF VENICE
Shylockthe Jewlived at Venice. He was a usurer who had
amassed an immense fortune by lending money at great interest to
Christian merchants. Shylockbeing a hard-hearted manexacted
the payment of the money he lent with such severity that he was
much disliked by all good menand particularly by Antonioa
young merchant of Venice; and Shylock as much hated Antonio
because he used to lend money to people in distressand would
never take any interest for the money he lent; therefore there
was great enmity between this covetous Jew and the generous
merchant Antonio. Whenever Antonio met Shylock on the Rialto(or
Exchange) he used to reproach him with his usuries and hard
dealingswhich the Jew would bear with seeming patiencewhile
he secretly meditated revenge.
Antonio was the kindest man that livedthe best conditionedand
had the most unwearied spirit in doing courtesies; indeedhe was
one in whom the ancient Roman honor more appeared than in any
that drew breath in Italy. He was greatly beloved by all his
fellow-citizens; but the friend who was nearest and dearest to
his heart was Bassanioa noble Venetianwhohaving but a small
patrimonyhad nearly exhausted his little fortune by living in
too expensive a manner for his slender meansat young men of
high rank with small fortunes are too apt to do. Whenever
Bassanio wanted money Antonio assisted him; and it seemed as if
they had but one heart and one purse between them.
One day Bassanio came to Antonio and told him that he wished to
repair his fortune by a wealthy marriage with a lady whom he
dearly lovedwhose fatherthat was lately deadhad left her
sole heiress to a large estate; and that in her father's lifetime
he used to visit at her housewhen he thought he had observed
this lady had sometimes from her eyes sent speechless messages
that seemed to say he would be no unwelcome suitor; but not
having money to furnish himself with an appearance befitting the
lover of so rich an heiresshe besought Antonio to add to the
many favors he had shown him by lending him three thousand
Antonio had no money by him at that time to lend his friend; but
expecting soon to have. some ships come home laden with
merchandisehe said he would go to Shylockthe rich
moneylenderand borrow the money upon the credit of those ships.
Antonio and Bassanio went together to Shylockand Antonio asked
the Jew to lend him three thousand ducats upon any interest he
should requireto be paid out of the merchandise contained in
his ships at sea.
On thisShylock thought within himself: "If I can once catch him
on the hipI will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him. He
hates our Jewish nation; he lends out money gratis; and among the
merchants he rails at me and my well-earned bargainswhich he
calls interest. Cursed be my tribe if I forgive him!"
Antoniofinding be was musing within himself and did not answer
and being impatient for the moneysaid:
Shylock, do you hear? Will you lend the money?
To this question the Jew replied: "Signor Antonioon the Rialto
many a time and often you have railed at me about my moneys and
my usuriesand I have borne it with a patient shrugfor
sufferance is the badge of all our tribe; and then you have
called me unbelievercutthroat dogand spit upon my Jewish
garmentsand spurned at me with your footas if I was a cur.
Wellthenit now appears you need my helpand you come to me
and say'Shylocklend me moneys.' Has a dog money? Is it
possible a cur should lend three thousand ducats? Shall I bend
low and say'Fair siryou spit upon me on Wednesday last;
another time you called me dogand for these courtesies I am to
lend you moneys."'
Antonio replied: "I am as like to call you so againto spit on
you againand spurn youtoo. If you will lend me this money
lend it not to me as to a friendbut rather lend it to me as to
an enemythatif I breakyou may with better face exact the
Why, look you,said Shylockhow you storm! I would be friends
with you and have your love. I will forget the shames you have
put upon me. I will supply your wants and take no interest for my
This seemingly kind offer greatly surprised Antonio; and then
Shylockstill pretending kindness and that all he did was to
gain Antonio's loveagain said he would lend him the three
thousand ducatsand take no interest for his money; only Antonio
should go with him to a lawyer and there sign in merry sport a
bond thatif he did not repay the money by a certain dayhe
would forfeit a pound of fleshto be cut off from any part of
his body that Shylock pleased.
Content,said Antonio. "I will sign to this bondand say there
is much kindness in the Jew."
Bassanio said Antonio should not sign to such a bond for him; but
still Antonio insisted that he would sign itfor that before the
day of payment came his ships would return laden with many times
the value of the money.
Shylockhearing this debateexclaimed: "O Father Abrahamwhat
suspicious people these Christians are! Their own hard dealings
teach them to suspect the thoughts of others. I pray you tell me
thisBassanio: if he should break his daywhat should I gain by
the exaction of the forfeiture? A pound of man's fleshtaken
from a manis not so estimableprofitableneitheras the
flesh of mutton or beef. I sayto buy his favor I offer this
friendship: if he will take itso; if notadieu."
At lastagainst the advice of Bassaniowhonotwithstanding all
the Jew had said of his kind intentionsdid not like his friend
should run the hazard of this shocking penalty for his sake
Antonio signed the bondthinking it really was (as the Jew said)
merely in sport.
The rich heiress that Bassanio wished to marry lived near Venice
at a place called Belmont. Her name was Portiaand in the graces
of her person and her mind she was nothing inferior to that
Portiaof whom we readwho was Cato's daughter and the wife of
Bassanio being so kindly supplied with money by his friend
Antonioat the hazard of his lifeset out for Belmont with a
splendid train and attended by a gentleman of the name of
Bassanio proving successful in his suitPortia in a short time
consented to accept of him for a husband.
Bassanio confessed to Portia that he had no fortune and that his
high birth and noble ancestry were all that he could boast of;
shewho loved him for his worthy qualities and had riches enough
not to regard wealth in a husbandansweredwith a graceful
modestythat she would wish herself a thousand times more fair
and ten thousand times more richto be more worthy of him; and
then the accomplished Portia prettily dispraised herself and said
she was an unlessoned girlunschooledunpractisedyet not so
old but that she could learnand that she would commit her
gentle spirit to be directed and governed by him in all things;
and she said: "Myself and what is mine to you and yours is now
converted. But yesterdayBassanioI was the lady of this fair
mansionqueen of myselfand mistress over these servants; and
now this housethese servantsand myself are yoursmy lord; I
give them with this ring presenting a ring to Bassanio.
Bassanio was so overpowered with gratitude and wonder at the
gracious manner in which the rich and noble Portia accepted of a
man of his humble fortunes that he could not express his joy
and reverence to the dear lady who so honored him, by anything
but broken words of love and thankfulness; and, taking the ring,
he vowed never to part with it.
Gratiano and Nerissa, Portia's waiting-maid, were in attendance
upon their lord and lady when Portia so gracefully promised to
become the obedient wife of Bassanio; and Gratiano, wishing
Bassanio and the generous lady joy, desired permission to be
married at the same time.
With all my heartGratiano said Bassanio, if you can get a
Gratiano then said that he loved the Lady Portia's fair
waiting-gentlewomanNerissaand that she had promised to be his
wife if her lady married Bassanio. Portia asked Nerissa if this
was true. Nerissa replied:
Madam, it is so, if you approve of it.
Portia willingly consentingBassanio pleasantly said:
Then our wedding-feast shall be much honored by your marriage,
The happiness of these lovers was sadly crossed at this moment by
the entrance of a messengerwho brought a letter from Antonio
containing fearful tidings. When Bassanio read Antonio's letter
Portia feared it was to tell him of the death of some dear
friendhe looked so pale; andinquiring what was the news which
bad so distressed himhe said:
Oh, sweet Portia, here are a few of the unpleasantest words that
ever blotted paper! Gentle lady, when I first imparted my love to
you, I freely told you all the wealth I had ran in my veins; but
I should have told you that I had less than nothing, being in
Bassanio then told Portia what has been here relatedof his
borrowing the money of Antonioand of Antonio's procuring it of
Shylock the Jewand of the bond by which Antonio had engaged to
forfeit a pound of flesh if it was not repaid by a certain day:
and then Bassanio read Antonio's letterthe words of which were:
'Sweet Bassaniomy ships are all lostmy bond to the Jew is
forfeitedand since in paying it is impossible I should liveI
could wishto see you at my death; notwithstandinguse your
pleasure. If your love for me do not persuade you to comelet
not my letter.'
Oh, my dear love,said Portiadespatch all business and
begone; you shall have gold to pay the money twenty times over,
before this kind friend shall lose a hair by my Bassanio's fault;
and as you are so dearly bought, I will dearly love you.
Portia then said she would be married to Bassanio before he set
outto give him a legal right to her money; and that same day
they were marriedand Gratiano was also married to Nerissa; and
Bassanio and Gratianothe instant they were marriedset out in
great haste for Venicewhere Bassanio found Antonio in prison.
The day of payment being pastthe cruel Jew would not accept of
the money which Bassanio offered himbut insisted upon having a
pound of Antonio's flesh. A day was appointed to try this
shocking cause before the Duke of Veniceand Bassanio awaited in
dreadful suspense the event of the trial.
When Portia parted with her husband she spoke cheeringly to him
and bade him bring his dear friend along with him when he
returned; yet she feared it would go hard with Antonioand when
she was left alone she began to think and consider within herself
if she could by any means be instrumental in saving the life of
her dear Bassanio's friend. And notwithstanding when she wished
to honor her Bassanio she had said to himwith such a meek and
wifelike gracethat she would submit in all things to be
governed by his superior wisdomyet being now called forth into
action by the peril of her honored husband's friendshe did
nothing doubt her own powersand by the sole guidance of her own
true and perfect judgment at once resolved to go herself to
Venice and speak in Antonio's defense.
Portia had a relation who was a counselor in the law; to this
gentlemanwhose name was Bellarioshe wroteandstating the
case to himdesired his opinionand that with his advice he
would also send her the dress worn by a counselor. When the
messenger returned he brought letters from Bellario of advice how
to proceedand also everything necessary for her equipment.
Portia dressed herself and her maid Nerissa in men's apparel
andputting on the robes of a counselorshe took Nerissa along
with her as her clerk; setting out immediatelythey arrived at
Venice on the very day of the trial. The cause was just going to
be heard before the Duke and Senators of Venice in the Senate
House when Portia entered this high court of justice and
presented a letter from Bellarioin which that learned counselor
wrote to the dukesaying he would have come himself to plead for
Antonio but that he was prevented by sicknessand he requested
that the learned young Doctor Balthasar (so he called Portia)
might be permitted to plead in his stead. This the Duke granted
much wondering at the youthful appearance of the strangerwho
was prettily disguised by her counselor's robes and her large
And now began this important trial. Portia looked around her and
she saw the merciless Jew; and she saw Bassaniobut he knew her
not in her disguise. He was standing beside Antonioin an agony
of distress and fear for his friend.
The importance of the arduous task Portia had engaged in gave
this tender lady courageand she boldly proceeded in the duty
she had undertaken to perform. And first of all she addressed
herself to Shylock; and allowing that he had a right by the
Venetian law to have the forfeit expressed in the bondshe spoke
so sweetly of the noble quality of MERCY as would have softened
any heart but the unfeeling Shylock'ssaying that it dropped as
the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath; and how mercy
was a double blessingit blessed him that gave and him that
received it; and how it became monarchs better than their crowns
being an attribute of God Himself; and that earthly power came
nearest to God's in proportion as mercy tempered justice; and she
bade Shylock remember that as we all pray for mercythat same
prayer should teach us to show mercy. Shylock only answered her
by desiring to have the penalty forfeited in the bond.
Is he not able to pay the money?asked Portia.
Bassanio then offered the Jew the payment of the three thousand
ducats as many times over as he should desire; which Shylock
refusingand still insisting upon having a pound of Antonio's
fleshBassanio begged the learned young counselor would endeavor
to wrest the law a littleto save Antonio's life. But Portia
gravely answered that laws once established never be altered.
Shylockhearing Portia say that the law might not be alteredit
seemed to him that she was pleading in his favorand he said:
A Daniel is come to judgment! O wise young judge, how I do honor
you! How much elder are you than your looks!
Portia now desired Shylock to let her look at the bond; and when
she had read it she said: "This bond is forfeitedand by this
the Jew may lawfully claim a pound of fleshto be by him cut off
nearest Antonio's heart." Then she said to ShylockBe merciful;
take the money and bid me tear the bond.
But no mercy would the cruel Shylock show; and he saidBy my
soul, I swear there is no power in the tongue of man to alter
Why, then, Antonio,said Portiayou must prepare your bosom
for the knife.And while Shylock was sharpening a long knife
with great eagerness to cut off the pound of fleshPortia said
to AntonioHave you anything to say?
Antonio with a calm resignation replied that he had but little to
sayfor that he had prepared his mind for death. Then he said to
Give me your hand, Bassanio! Fare you well! Grieve not that I am
fallen into this misfortune for you. Commend me to your honorable
wife and tell her how I have loved you!
Bassanio in the deepest affliction replied: "AntonioI am
married to a wife who is as dear to me as life itself; but life
itselfmy wifeand all the world are not esteemed with me above
your life. I would lose allI would sacrifice all to this devil
hereto deliver you."
Portia hearing thisthough the kind-hearted lady was not at all
offended with her husband for expressing the love he owed to so
true a friend as Antonio in these strong termsyet could not
Your wife would give you little thanks, if she were present, to
hear you make this offer.
And then Gratianowho loved to copy what his lord didthought
he must make a speech like Bassanio'sand he saidin Nerissa's
hearingwho was writing in her clerk's dress by the side of
I have a wife whom I protest I love. I wish she were in heaven
if she could but entreat some power there to change the cruel
temper of this currish Jew.
It is well you wish this behind her back, else you would have
but an unquiet house,said Nerissa.
Shylock now cried outimpatiently: "We trifle time. I pray
pronounce the sentence."
And now all was awful expectation in the courtand every heart
was full of grief for Antonio.
Portia asked if the scales were ready to weigh the flesh; and she
said to the JewShylock, you must have some surgeon by, lest he
bleed to death.
Shylockwhose whole intent was that Antonio should bleed to
deathsaidIt is not so named in the bond.
Portia replied: "It is not so named in the bondbut what of
that? It were good you did so much for charity."
To this all the answer Shylock would make wasI cannot find it;
it is not in the bond.
Then,said Portiaa pound of Antonio's flesh is thine. The
law allows it and the court awards it. And you may cut this flesh
from off his breast. The law allows it and the court awards it.
Again Shylock exclaimed: "O wise and upright judge! A Daniel is
come to judgment!" And then he sharpened his long knife again
and looking eagerly on Antoniohe saidCome, prepare!
Tarry a little, Jew,said Portia. "There is something else.
This bond here gives you no drop of blood; the words expressly
are'a pound of flesh.' If in the cutting off the pound of flesh
you shed one drop of Christian bloodyour lands and goods are by
the law to be confiscated to the state of Venice."
Now as it was utterly impossible for Shylock to cut off the pound
of flesh without shedding some of Antonio's bloodthis wise
discovery of Portia'sthat it was flesh and not blood that was
named in the bondsaved the life of Antonio; and all admiring
the wonderful sagacity of the young counselor who had so happily
thought of this expedientplaudits resounded from every part of
the Senate House; and Gratiano exclaimedin the words which
Shylock had used:
O wise and upright judge! Mark, Jew, a Daniel is come to
Shylockfinding himself defeated in his cruel intentsaidwith
a disappointed lookthat he would take the money. And Bassanio
rejoiced beyond measure at Antonio's unexpected deliverance
Here is the money!
But Portia stopped himsaying: "Softly; there is no haste. The
Jew shall have nothing but the penalty. Therefore prepare
Shylockto cut off the flesh; but mind you shed no blood; nor do
not cut off more nor less than just a pound; be it more or less
by one poor scruplenayif the scale turn but by the weight of
a single hairyou are condemned by the laws of Venice to die
and all your wealth is forfeited to the state."
Give me my money and let me go,said Shylock.
I have it ready,said Bassanio. "Here it is."
Shylock was going to take the moneywhen Portia again stopped
himsaying: "TarryJew. I have yet another hold upon you. By
the laws of Venice your wealth is forfeited to the state for
having conspired against the life of one of its citizensand
your life lies at the mercy of the duke; thereforedown on your
knees and ask him to pardon you."
The duke then said to Shylock: "That you may see the difference
of our Christian spiritI pardon you your life before you ask
it. Half your wealth belongs to Antoniothe other half comes to
The generous Antonio then said that he would give up his share of
Shylock's wealth if Shylock would sign a deed to make it over at
his death to his daughter and her husband; for Antonio knew that
the Jew had an only daughter who had lately married against his
consent a young Christian named Lorenzoa friend of Antonio's
which had so offended Shylock that he had disinherited her.
The Jew agreed to this; and being thus disappointed in his
revenge and despoiled of his richeshe said: "I am ill. Let me
go home. Send the deed after meand I will sign over half my
riches to my daughter."
Get thee gone, then,said the dukeand sign it; and if you
repent your cruelty and turn Christian, the state will forgive
you the fine of the other half of your riches.
The duke now released Antonio and dismissed the court. He then
highly praised the wisdom and ingenuity of the young counselor
and invited him home to dinner.
Portiawho meant to return to Belmont before her husband
repliedI humbly thank your Grace, but I must away directly.
The duke said he was sorry he had not leisure to stay and dine
with himandturning to Antoniohe addedReward this
gentleman; for in my mind you are much indebted to him.
The duke and his senators left the court; and then Bassanio said
to Portia: "Most worthy gentlemanI and my friend Antonio have
by your wisdom been this day acquitted of grievous penaltiesand
I beg you will accept of the three thousand ducats due unto the
And we shall stand indebted to you over and above,said
Antonioin love and service evermore.
Portia could not be prevailed upon to accept the money. But upon
Bassanio still pressing her to accept of some rewardshe said:
Give me your gloves. I will wear them for your sake.And then
Bassanio taking off his glovesshe espied the ring which she had
given him upon his finger. Now it was the ring the wily lady
wanted to get from him to make a merry jest when she saw her
Bassanio againthat made her ask him for his gloves; and she
saidwhen she saw the ringAnd for your love, I will take this
ring from you.
Bassanio was sadly distressed that the counselor should ask him
for the only thing he could not part withand he repliedin
great confusionthat be could not give him that ringbecause it
was his wife's gift and he had vowed never to part with it; but
that he would give him the most valuable ring in Veniceand find
it out by proclamation.
On this Portia affected to be affrontedand left the court
sayingYou teach me, sir, how a beggar should be answered.
Dear Bassanio,said Antoniolet him have the ring. Let My
love and the great service he has done for me be valued against
your wife's displeasure.
Bassanioashamed to appear so ungratefulyieldedand sent
Gratiano after Portia with the ring; and then the "clerk"
Nerissawho had also given Gratiano a ringbegged his ringand
Gratiano (not choosing to be outdone in generosity by his lord)
gave it to her. And there was laughing among these ladies to
thinkwhen they got homehow they would tax their husbands with
giving away their rings and swear that they had given them as a
present to some woman.
Portiawhen she returnedwas in that happy temper of mind which
never fails to attend the consciousness of having performed a
good action. Her cheerful spirits enjoyed everything she saw: the
moon never seemed to shine so bright before; and when that
pleasant moon was hid behind a cloudthen a light which she saw
from her house at Belmont as well pleased her charmed fancyand
she said to Nerissa:
That light we see is burning in my hall. How far that little
candle throws its beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty
world.And hearing the sound of music from her houseshe said
Methinks that music sounds much sweeter than by day.
And now Portia and Nerissa entered the houseanddressing
themselves in their own apparelthey awaited the arrival of
their husbandswho soon followed them with Antonio; and Bassanio
presenting his dear friend to the Lady Portiathe
congratulations and welcomings of that lady were hardly over when
they perceived Nerissa and her husband quarreling in a corner of
A quarrel already?said Portia. "What is the matter?"
Gratiano repliedLady, it is about a paltry gilt ring that
Nerissa gave me, with words upon it like the poetry on a cutler's
knife: 'Love me, and leave me not.'
What does the poetry or the value of the ring signify?said
Nerissa. "You swore to mewhen I gave it to youthat you would
keep it till the hour of death; and now you say you gave it to
the lawyer's clerk. I know you gave it to a woman."
By this hand,replied GratianoI gave it to a youth, a kind
Of boy, a little scrubbed boy, no higher than yourself; be was
clerk to the young counselor that by his wise pleading saved
Antonio's life. This prating boy begged it for a fee, and I could
not for my life deny him.
Portia said: "You were to blameGratianoto part with your
wife's first gift. I gave my Lord Bassanio a ringand I am sure
be would not part with it for all the world."
Gratianoin excuse for his faultnow saidMy Lord Bassanio
gave his ring away to the counselor, and then the boy, his clerk,
that took some pains in writing, he begged my ring.
Portiahearing thisseemed very angry and reproached Bassanio
for giving away her ring; and she said Nerissa had taught her
what to believeand that she knew some woman had the ring.
Bassanio was very unhappy to have so offended his dear ladyand
he said with great earnestness:
No, by my honor, no woman had it, but a civil doctor who refused
three thousand ducats of me and begged the ring, which when I
denied him he went displeased away. What could I do, sweet
Portia? I was so beset with shame for my seeming ingratitude that
I was forced to send the ring after him. Pardon me, good lady.
Had you been there, I think you would have begged the ring of me
to give the worthy doctor.
Ah!said AntonioI am the unhappy cause of these quarrels.
Portia bid Antonio not to grieve at thatfor that be was welcome
notwithstanding; and then Antonio said:
I once did lend my body for Bassanio's sake; and but for him to
whom your husband gave the ring I should have now been dead. I
dare be bound again, my soul upon the forfeit, your lord will
never more break his faith with you.
Then you shall be his surety,said Portia. "Give him this ring
and bid him keep it better than the other."
When Bassanio looked at this ring be was strangely surprised to
find it was the same he gave away; and then Portia told him how
she was the young counselorand Nerissa was her clerk; and
Bassanio foundto his unspeakable wonder and delightthat it
was by the noble courage and wisdom of his wife that Antonio's
life was saved.
And Portia again welcomed Antonioand gave him letters which by
some chance had fallen into her handswhich contained an account
of Antonio's shipsthat were supposed lostbeing safely arrived
in the harbor. So these tragical beginnings of this rich
merchant's story were all forgotten in the unexpected good
fortune which ensued; and there was leisure to laugh at the
comical adventure of the rings and the husbands that did not know
their own wivesGratiano merrily swearingin a sort of rhyming
While he livedhe'd fear no other thing
So soreas keeping safe Nerissa's ring.
During the time of Augustus CaesarEmperor of Romethere
reigned in England (which was then called Britain) a king whose
name was Cymbeline.
Cymbeline's first wife died when his three children (two sons and
a daughter) were very young. Imogenthe eldest of these
childrenwas brought up in her father's court; but by a strange
chance the two sons of Cymbeline were stolen out of their nursery
when the eldest was but three years of age and the youngest quite
an infant; and Cymbeline could never discover what was become of
them or by whom they were conveyed away.
Cymbeline was twice married. His second wife was a wicked
plotting womanand a cruel stepmother to ImogenCymbeline's
daughter by his first wife.
The queenthough she hated Imogenyet wished her to marry a son
of her own by a former husband (she also having been twice
married)for by this means she hoped upon the death of Cymbeline
to place the crown of Britain upon the head of her son Cloten;
for she knew thatif the king's sons were not foundthe
Princess Imogen must be the king's heir. But this design was
prevented by Imogen herselfwho married without the consent or
even knowledge of her father or the queen.
Posthumus (for that was the name of Imogen's husband) was the
best scholar and most accomplished gentleman of that age. His
father died fighting in the wars for Cymbelineand soon after
his birth his mother died also for grief at the loss of her
Cymbelinepitying the helpless state of this orphantook
Posthumus (Cymbeline having given him that name because he was
born after his father's death)and educated him in his own
Imogen and Posthumus were both taught by the same mastersand
were playfellows from their infancy; they loved each other
tenderly when they were childrenandtheir affection continuing
to increase with their yearswhen they grew up they privately
The disappointed queen soon learned this secretfor she kept
spies constantly in watch upon the actions of her stepdaughter
and she immediately told the king of the marriage of Imogen with
Nothing could exceed the wrath of Cymbeline when he heard that
his daughter had been so forgetful of her high dignity as to
marry a subject. He commanded Posthumus to leave Britain and
banished him from his native country forever.
The queenwho pretended to pity Imogen for the grief she
suffered at losing her husbandoffered to procure them a private
meeting before Posthumus set out on his journey to Romewhich
place he had chosen for his residence in his banishment. This
seeming kindness she showed the better to succeed in her future
designs in regard to her son Clotenfor she meant to persuade
Imogenwhen her husband was gonethat her marriage was not
lawfulbeing contracted without the consent of the king.
Imogen and Posthumus took a most affectionate leave of each
other. Imogen gave her husband a diamond ring which had been her
mother'sand Posthumus promised never to part with the ring; and
he fastened a bracelet on the arm of his wifewhich he begged
she would preserve with great careas a token of his love; they
then bade each other farewellwith many vows of everlasting love
Imogen remained a solitary and dejected lady in her father's
courtand Posthumus arrived at Romethe place he had chosen for
Posthumus fell into company at Rome with some gay young men of
different nationswho were talking freely of ladieseach one
praising the ladies of his own country and his own mistress.
Posthumuswho had ever his own dear lady in his mindaffirmed
that his wifethe fair Imogenwas the most virtuouswiseand
constant lady in the world.
One of those gentlemenwhose name was Iachimobeing offended
that a lady of Britain should be so praised above the Roman
ladieshis country-womenprovoked Posthumus by seeming to doubt
the constancy of his so highly praised wife; and at lengthafter
much altercationPosthumus consented to a proposal of Iachimo's
that he (Iachimo) should go to Britain and endeavor to gain the
love of the married Imogen. They then laid a wager that if
Iachimo did not succeed in this wicked design he was to forfeit a
large sum of money; but if he could win Imogen's favorand
prevail upon her to give him the bracelet which Posthumus had so
earnestly desired she would keep as a token of his lovethen the
wager was to terminate with Posthumus giving to Iachimo the ring
which was Imogen's love present when she parted with her husband.
Such firm faith had Posthumus in the fidelity of Imogen that he
thought he ran no hazard in this trial of her honor.
Iachimoon his arrival in Britaingained admittance and a
courteous welcome from Imogenas a friend of her husband; but
when he began to make professions of love to her she repulsed him
with disdainand he soon found that he could have no hope of
succeeding in his dishonorable design.
The desire Iachimo had to win the wager made him now have
recourse to a stratagem to impose upon Posthumusand for this
purpose he bribed some of Imogen's attendants and was by them
conveyed into her bedchamberconcealed in a large trunkwhere
he remained shut up till Imogen.was retired to rest and had
fallen asleep; and thengetting out of the trunkhe examined
the chamber with great attentionand wrote down everything he
saw thereand particularly noticed a mole which he observed upon
Imogen's neckand then softly unloosing the bracelet from her
armwhich Posthumus had given to herhe retired into the chest
again; and the next day he set off for Rome with great
expeditionand boasted to Posthumus that Imogen had given him
the braceletand likewise permitted him to pass a night in her
chamber. And in this manner Iachimo told his false tale: "Her
bedchamber said he, was hung with tapestry of silk and silver
the story was the proud Cleopatra when she met her Anthonya
piece of work most bravely wrought."
This is true,said Posthumus; "but this you might have heard
spoken of without seeing."
Then the chimney,said Iachimois south of the chamber, and
the chimneypiece is Diana bathing; never saw I figures livelier
expressed.This is a thing you might have likewise heard,said
Posthumus; "for it is much talked of."
Iachimo as accurately described the roof of the chamber; and
addedI had almost forgot her andirons; they were two winking
Cupids made of silver, each on one foot standing.'He then took
out the braceletand said: "Know you this jewelsir? She gave
me this. She took it from her arm. I see her yet; her pretty
action did outsell her giftand yet enriched ittoo. She gave
it meand saidSHE PRIZED IT ONCE." He last of all described
the mole he had observed upon her neck.
Posthumuswho had heard the whole of this artful recital in an
agony of doubtnow broke out into the most passionate
exclamations against Imogen. He delivered up the diamond ring to
Iachimo which he had agreed to forfeit to him if he obtained the
bracelet from Imogen.
Posthumus then in a jealous rage wrote to Pisanioa gentleman of
Britainwho was one of Imogen's attendantsand had long been a
faithful friend to Posthumus; and after telling him what proof he
had of his wife's disloyaltyhe desired Pisanio would take
Imogen to Milford Havena seaport of Walesand there kill her.
And at the same time he wrote a deceitful letter to Imogen
desiring her to go with Pisaniofor thatfinding he could live
no longer without seeing herthough he was forbidden upon pain
of death to return to Britainhe would come to Milford Havenat
which place he begged she would meet him. Shegoodunsuspecting
ladywho loved her husband above all thingsand desired more
than her life to see himhastened her departure with Pisanio
and the same night she received the letter she set out.
When their journey was nearly at an endPisaniowhothough
faithful to Posthumuswas not faithful to serve him in an evil
deeddisclosed to Imogen the cruel order he had received.
Imogenwhoinstead of meeting a loving and beloved husband
found herself doomed by that husband to suffer deathwas
afflicted beyond measure.
Pisanio persuaded her to take comfort and wait with patient
fortitude for the time when Posthumus should see and repent his
injustice. In the mean timeas she refused in her distress to
return to her father's courthe advised her to dress herself in
boy's clothes for more security in traveling; to which advice she
agreedand thought in that disguise she would go over to Rome
and see her husbandwhomthough he had used her so barbarously
she could no-t forget to love.
When Pisanio had provided her with her new apparel he left her to
her uncertain fortunebeing obliged to return to court; but
before he departed he gave her a vial of cordialwhich he said
the queen had given him as a sovereign remedy in all disorders.
The queenwho hated Pisanio because he was a friend to Imogen
and Posthumusgave him this vialwhich she supposed contained
poisonshe having ordered her physician to give her some poison
to try its effects (as she said) upon animals; but the physician
knowing her malicious dispositionwould not trust her with real
poisonbut gave her a drug which would do no other mischief than
causing a person to sleep with every appearance of death for a
few hours. This mixturewhich Pisanio thought a choice cordial
he gave to Imogendesiring herif she found herself ill upon
the roadto take it; and sowith blessings and prayers for her
safety and happy deliverance from her undeserved troubleshe
Providence strangely directed Imogen's steps to the dwelling of
her two brothers who had been stolen away in their infancy.
Bellariuswho stole them awaywas a lord in the court of
Cymbelineandhaving been falsely accused to the king of
treason and banished from the courtin revenge he stole away the
two sons of Cymbeline and brought them up in a forestwhere he
lived concealed in a cave. He stole them through revengebut he
soon loved them as tenderly as if they had been his own children
educated them carefullyand they grew up fine youthstheir
princely spirits leading them to bold and daring actions; and as
they subsisted by huntingthey were active and hardyand were
always pressing their supposed father to let them seek their
fortune in the wars.
At the cave where these youths dwelt it was Imogen's fortune to
arrive. She had lost her way in a large forest through which .her
road lay to Milford Haven (from which she meant to embark for
Rome); and being unable to find any place where she could
purchase foodshe waswith weariness and hungeralmost dying;
for it is not merely putting on a man's apparel that will enable
a young ladytenderly brought upto bear the fatigue of
wandering about lonely forests like a man.. Seeing this caveshe
enteredhoping to find some one within of whom she could procure
food. She found the cave emptybutlooking aboutshe
discovered some cold meatand her hunger was so pressing that
she could not wait for an invitationbut sat down and began to
Ah,said shetalking to herselfI see a man's life is a
tedious one. How tired am I! For two nights together I have made
the ground my bed. My resolution helps me, or I should be sick.
When Pisanio showed me Milford Haven from the mountain-top, how
near it seemed!Then the thoughts of her husband and his cruel
mandate came across herand she saidMy dear Posthumus, thou
art a false one!
The two brothers of Imogenwho had been hunting with their
reputed fatherBellariuswere by this time returned home.
Bellarius had given them the names of Polydore and Cadwaland
they knew no betterbut supposed that Bellarius was their
father; but the real names of these princes were Guiderius and
Bellarius entered the cave firstandseeing Imogenstopped
themsaying: " Come not in yet. It eats our victualsor I
should think it was a fairy."
What is the matter, sir?said the young men.
By Jupiter!said Bellariusagainthere is an angel in the
cave, or if not, an earthly paragon.So beautiful did Imogen
look in her boy's apparel.
Shehearing the sound of voicescame forth from the cave and
addressed them in these words: "Good mastersdo not harm me.
Before I entered your cave I had thought to have begged or bought
what I have eaten. IndeedI have stolen nothingnor would I
though I had found gold strewed on the floor. Here is money for
my meatwhich I would have left on the board when I had made my
mealand parted with prayers for the provider."
They refused her money with great earnestness.
I see you are angry with me,said the timid Imogen; "butsirs
if you kill me for my faultknow that I should have died if I
had not made it."
Whither are you bound,asked Bellariusand what is your
Fidele is my name,answered Imogen. "I have a kinsman who is
bound for Italy; he embarked at Milford Havento whom being
goingalmost spent with hungerI am fallen into this offense."
Prithee, fair youth,said old Bellariusdo not think us
churls, nor measure our good minds by this rude place we live in.
'You are well encountered; it is almost night. You shall have
better cheer before you depart, and thanks to stay and eat it.
Boys, bid him welcome.
The gentle youthsher brothersthen welcomed Imogen to their
cave with many kind expressionssaying they would love her (or
as they saidHIM) as a brother; and they entered the cavewhere
(they having killed venison when they were hunting) Imogen
delighted them with her neat housewiferyassisting them in
preparing their supper; forthough it is not the custom now for
young women of high birth to understand cookeryit was thenand
Imogen excelled in this useful art; andas her brothers prettily
expressed itFidele cut their roots in charactersand sauced
their brothas if Juno had been sick and Fidele were her dieter.
And then,said Polydore to his brotherhow angel-like he
They also remarked to each other that though Fidele smiled so
sweetlyyet so sad a melancholy did overcloud his lovely face
as if grief and patience had together taken possession of him.
For these her gentle qualities (or perhaps it was their near
relationshipthough they knew it not) Imogen (oras the boys
called herFidele) became the doting-piece of her brothersand
she scarcely less loved themthinking that but for the memory of
her dear Posthumus she could live and die in the cave with these
wild forest youths; and she gladly consented to stay with them
till she was enough rested from the fatigue of traveling to
pursue her way to Milford Haven.
When the venison they had taken was all eaten and they were going
out to hunt for moreFidele could not accompany them because she
was unwell. Sorrowno doubtfor her husband's
cruel usageas well as the fatigue of wandering in the forest
was the cause of her illness.
They then bid her farewelland went to their huntpraising all
the way the noble parts and graceful demeanor of the youth
Imogen was no sooner left alone than she recollected the cordial
Pisanio had given herand drank it offand presently fell into
a sound and deathlike sleep.
When Bellarius and her brothers returned from huntingPolydore
went first into the caveandsupposing her asleeppulled off
his heavy shoesthat he might tread softly and not awake her (so
did true gentleness spring up in the minds of these princely
foresters); but he soon discovered that she could not be awakened
by any noiseand concluded her to be deadand Polydore lamented
over her with dear and brotherly regretas if they had never
from their infancy been parted.
Bellarius also proposed to carry her out into the forestand
there celebrate her funeral with songs and solemn dirgesas was
then the custom.
Imogen's two brothers then carried her to a shady covertand
therelaying her gently on the grassthey sang repose to her
departed spiritandcovering her over with leaves and flowers
While summer lasts and I live here, Fidele, I will daily strew
thy grave. The pale primrose, that flower most like thy face; the
bluebell, like thy clear veins; and the leaf of eglantine, which
is not sweeter than was thy breath-all these will I strew over
thee. Yea, and the furred moss in winter, when there are no
flowers to cover thy sweet corse.
When they had finished her funeral obsequies they departedvery
Imogen had not been long left alone whenthe effect of the
sleepy drug going offshe awakedand easily shaking off the
slight covering of leaves and flowers they had thrown over her
she aroseandimagining she had been dreamingshe said:
I thought I was a cave-keeper and cook to honest creatures. How
came I here covered with flowers?
Not being able to find her way back to the caveand seeing
nothing of her new companionsshe concluded it was certainly all
a dream; and once more Imogen set out on her weary pilgrimage
hoping at last she should find her way to Milford Havenand
thence get a passage in some ship bound for Italy; for all her
thoughts were still with her husbandPosthumuswhom she
intended to seek in the disguise of a page.
But great events were happening at this timeof which Imogen
knew nothing; for a war had suddenly broken out between the Roman
Emperor Augustus Caesar and Cymbelinethe King of Britain; and a
Roman army had landed to invade Britainand was advanced into
the very forest over which Imogen was journeying. With this army
Though Posthumus came over to Britain with the Roman armyhe did
not mean to fight on their side against his own countrymenbut
intended to join the army of Britain and fight in the cause of
his king who had banished him.
He still believed Imogen false to him; yet the death of her he
had so fondly lovedand by his own orderstoo (Pisanio having
written him a letter to say he had obeyed his commandand that
Imogen was dead)sat heavy on his heartand therefore he
returned to Britaindesiring either to be slain in battle or to
be put to death by Cymbeline for returning home from banishment.
Imogenbefore she reached Milford Havenfell into the hands of
the Roman armyandher presence and deportment recommending
hershe was made a page to Luciusthe Roman general.
Cymbeline's army now advanced to meet the enemyand when they
entered this forest Polydore and Cadwal joined the king's army.
The young men were eager to engage in acts of valorthough they
little thought they were going to fight for their own royal
father; and old Bellarius went with them to the battle.
He had long since repented of the injury he had done to Cymbeline
in carrying away his sons; andhaving been a warrior in his
youthhe gladly joined the army to fight for the king he had so
And now a great battle commenced between the two armiesand the
Britons would have been defeatedand Cymbeline himself killed
but for the extraordinary valor of Posthumus and Bellarius and
the two sons of Cymbeline. They rescued the king and saved his
lifeand so entirely turned the fortune of the day that the
Britons gained the victory.
When the battle was overPosthumuswho had not found the death
he sought forsurrendered himself up to one of the officers of
Cymbelinewilling to suffer the death which was to be his
punishment if he returned from banishment.
Imogen and the master she served were taken prisoners and brought
before Cymbelineas was also her old enemyIachimowho was an
officer in the Roman army. And when these prisoners were before
the kingPosthumus was brought in to receive his sentence of
death; and at this strange juncture of time Bellarius with
Polydore and Cadwal were also brought before Cymbelineto
receive the rewards due to the great services they had by their
valor done for the king. Pisaniobeing one of the king's
attendantswas likewise present.
Therefore there were now standing in the king's presence (but
with very different hopes and fears) Posthumus and Imogenwith
her new master the Roman general; the faithful servant Pisanio
and the false friend Iachimo; and likewise the two lost sons of
Cymbelinewith Bellariuswho had stolen them away.
The Roman general was the first who spoke; the rest stood silent
before the kingthough there was many a beating heart among
Imogen saw Posthumusand knew himthough he was in the disguise
of a peasant; but he did not know her in her male attire. And she
knew Iachimoand she saw a ring on his finger which she
perceived to be her own.but she did not know him as yet to have
been the author of all her troubles; and she stood before her own
father a prisoner of war.
Pisanio knew Imogenfor it was he who had dressed her in the
garb of a boy. "It is my mistress thought he. Since she is
livinglet the time run on to good or bad." Bellarius knew her
tooand softly said to CadwalIs not this boy revived from
One sand,replied Cadwaldoes not more resemble another than
that sweet, rosy lad is like the dead Fidele.
The same dead thing alive,said Polydore.
Peace, peace,said Bellarius. "If it were heI am sure be
would have spoken to us."
But we saw him dead,again whispered Polydore.
Be silent,replied Bellarius.
Posthumus waited in silence to hear the welcome sentence of his
own death; and he resolved not to disclose to the king that he
had saved his life in the battlelest that should move Cymbeline
to pardon him.
Luciusthe Roman generalwho had taken Imogen under his
protection as his pagewas the first (as has been before said)
who spoke to the king. He was a man of high courage and noble and
this was his speech to the king:
I hear you take no ransom for your prisoners, but doom them all
to death. I am a Roman, and with a Roman heart will suffer,
death. But there is one thing for which I would entreat.Then
bringing Imogen before the kinghe said: "This boy is a Briton
born. Let him be ransomed. He is my page. Never master had a page
so kindso duteousso diligent on all occasionsso trueso
nurselike. He hath done no Briton wrongthough he hath served a
Roman. Save himif you spare no one beside."
Cymbeline looked earnestly on his daughter Imogen. He knew her
not in that disguise; but it seemed that all-powerful Nature
spake in his heartfor he said: "I have surely seen him; his
face appears familiar to me. I know not why or wherefore I say
liveboybut I give you your life; and ask of me what boon you
will and I will grant it you. Yeaeven though it be the life of
the noblest prisoner I have."
I humbly thank your Highness,said Imogen.
What was then called granting a boon was the same as a promise to
give any one thingwhatever it might be. that the person on
whom that favor was conferred chose to ask for.
They all were attentive to hear what thing the page would ask
for; and Luciusher mastersaid to her:
I do not beg my life, good lad, but I know that is what you will
No, no, alas!said Imogen. "I have other work in handgood
master. Your life I cannot ask for."
This seeming want of gratitude in the boy astonished the Roman
Imogen thenfixing her eye on Iachimodemanded no other boon
than this: that Iachimo should be made to confess whence he had
the ring he wore on his finger.
Cymbeline granted her this boonand threatened Iachimo with the
torture if he did not confess how he came by the diamond ring on
Iachimo then made a full acknowledgment of all his villainyin
tellingas has been before relatedthe whole story of his wager
with Posthumus and how he had succeeded in imposing upon is
What Posthumus felt at hearing this proof of the innocence of his
lady cannot be expressed. He instantly came forward and confessed
to Cymbeline the cruel sentence which he had enjoined Pisanio to
execute upon the princessexclaimingwildly:
O Imogen, my queen, my life, my wife! O Imogen, Imogen, Imogen!
Imogen could not see her beloved husband in this distress without
discovering herselfto the unutterable joy of Posthumuswho was
thus relieved from a weight of guilt and woeand restored to the
good graces of the dear lady he had so cruelly treated.
Cymbelinealmost as much overwhelmed as he with joyat finding
his lost daughter so strangely recoveredreceived her to her
former place in his fatherly affectionand not only gave her
husband Posthumus his lifebut consented to acknowledge him for
Bellarius chose this time of joy and reconciliation to make his
confession. He presented Polydore and Cadwal to the kingtelling
him they were his two lost sonsGuiderius and Arviragus.
Cymbeline forgave old Bellarius; for who could think of
punishments at a season of such universal happiness? To find his
daughter livingand his lost sons in the persons of his young
deliverersthat he had seen so bravely fight in his defensewas
unlooked-for joy indeed!
Imogen was now at leisure to perform good services for her late
masterthe Roman generalLuciuswhose life the kingher
fatherreadily granted at her request; and by the mediation of
the same Lucius a peace was concluded between the Romans and the
Britons which was kept inviolate many years.
How Cymbeline's wicked queenthrough despair of bringing her
projects to passand touched with remorse of conscience
sickened and diedhaving first lived to see her foolish son
Cloten slain in a quarrel which he had provokedare events too
tragical to interrupt this happy conclusion by more than merely
touching upon. It is sufficient that all were made happy who were
deserving; and even the treacherous Iachimoin consideration of
his villainy having missed its final aimwas dismissed without
LearKing of Britainhad three daughters: Gonerilwife to the
Duke of Albany; Reganwife to the Duke of Cornwall; and
Cordeliaa young maidfor whose love the King of France and
Duke of Burgundy were joint suitorsand were at this time making
stay for that purpose in the court of Lear.
The old kingworn out with age and the fatigues of government
he being more than fourscore years olddetermined to take no
further part in state affairsbut to leave the management to
younger strengthsthat he might have time to prepare for death
which must at no long period ensue. With this intent he called
his three daughters to himto know from their own lips which of
them loved him bestthat he might part his kingdom among them in
such proportions as their affection for him should seem to
Gonerilthe eldestdeclared that she loved her father more than
words could give outthat he was dearer to her than the light of
her own eyesdearer than life and libertywith a deal of such
professing stuffwhich is easy to counterfeit where there is no
real loveonly a few fine words delivered with confidence being
wanted in that case. The kingdelighted to hear from her own
mouth this assurance of her loveand thinking truly that her
heart went with itin a fit of fatherly fondness bestowed upon
her and her husband one-third of his ample kingdom.
Then calling to him his second daughter he demanded what she had
to say. Reganwho was made of the same hollow metal as her
sisterwas not a whit behind in her professionsbut rather
declared that what her sister had spoken came short of the love
which she professed to bear for his Highness; in so much that she
found all other joys dead in comparison with the pleasure which
she took in the love of her dear king and father.
Lear blessed himself in having such loving childrenas he
thought; and could do no lessafter the handsome assurances
which Regan had madethan bestow a third of his kingdom upon her
and her husbandequal in size to that which he had already
given away to Goneril.
Then turning to his youngest daughterCordeliawhom he called
his joyhe asked what she had to saythinking no doubt that she
would glad his ears with the same loving speeches which her
sisters had utteredor rather that her expressions would be so
much stronger than theirsas she had always been his darling
and favored by him above either of them. But Cordeliadisgusted
with the flattery of her sisterswhose hearts she knew were far
from their lipsand seeing that all their coaxing speeches were
only intended to wheedle the old king out of his dominionsthat
they and their husbands might reign in his lifetimemade no
other reply but this--that she loved his Majesty according to her
dutyneither more nor less.
The kingshocked with this appearance of ingratitude in his
favorite childdesired her to consider her words and to mend her
speechlest it should mar her fortunes.
Cordelia then told her father that he was her fatherthat he had
given her breedingand loved her; that she returned those duties
back as was most fitand did obey himlove himand most honor
him. But that she could not frame her mouth to such large
speeches as her sisters had doneor promise to love nothing else
in the world. Why had her sisters husbands if (as they said) they
had no love for anything but their father? If she should ever
wedshe was sure the lord to whom she gave her husband would
want half her lovehalf of her care and duty; she should never
marry like her sistersto love her father all.
Cordeliawho in earnest loved her old father even almost
extravagantly as her sisters pretended to dowould have plainly
told him so at any other timein more daughter-like and loving
termsand without these qualificationswhich did indeed sound a
little ungracious; but after the craftyflattering speeches of
her sisterswhich she had seen draw such extravagant rewards
she thought the handsomest thing she could do was to love and be
silent. This put her affection out of suspicion of mercenary
endsand showed that she lovedbut not for gain; and that her
professionsthe less ostentatious they werehad so much the
more of truth and sincerity than her sisters'.
This plainness of speechwhich Lear called prideso enraged the
old monarch--who in his best of times always showed much of
spleen and rashnessand in whom the dotage incident to old age
had so clouded over his reason that he could not discern truth
from flatterynor a gaypainted speech from words that came from
the heart--that in a fury of resentment he retracted the third
part of his kingdom which yet remainedand which he had reserved
for Cordeliaand gave it away from hersharing it equally
between her two sisters and their husbandsthe Dukes of Albany
and Cornwallwhom he now called to him and in presence of all
his courtiersbestowing a coronet between theminvested them
jointly with all the powerrevenueand execution of government
only retaining to himself the name of king; all the rest of
royalty he resignedwith this reservationthat himselfwith a
hundred knights for his attendantswas to be maintained by
monthly course in each of his daughters' palaces in turn.
So preposterous a disposal of his kingdomso little guided by
reasonand so much by passionfilled all his courtiers with
astonishment and sorrow; but none of them had the courage to
interpose between this incensed king and his wrathexcept the
Earl of Kentwho was beginning to speak a good word for
Cordeliawhen the passionate Lear on pain of death commanded him
to desist; but the good Kent was not so to be repelled. He had
been ever loyal to Learwhom he had honored as a kingloved as
a fatherfollowed as a master; and he had never esteemed his
life further than as a pawn to wage against his royal master's
enemiesnor feared to lose it when Lear's safety was the motive;
nornow that Lear was most his own enemydid this faithful
servant of the king forget his old principlesbut manfully
opposed Lear to do Lear good; and was unmannerly only because
Lear was mad. He had been a most faithful counselor in times past
to the kingand he besought him now that he would see with his
eyes (as he had done in many weighty matters) and go by his
advice stilland in his best consideration recall this hideous
rashness; for he would answer with his life his judgment that
Lear's youngest daughter did not love him leastnor were those
empty-hearted whose low sound gave no token of hollowness. When
power bowed to flatteryhonor was bound to plainness. For Lear's
threatswhat could he do to him whose life was already at his
service? That should not hinder duty from speaking.
The honest freedom of this good Earl of Kent only stirred up the
king's wrath the moreandlike a frantic patient who kills his
physician and loves his mortal diseasehe banished this true
servantand allotted him but five days to make his preparations
for departure; but if on the sixth his hated person was found
within the realm of Britainthat moment was to be his death. And
Kent bade farewell to the kingand said thatsince he chose to
show himself in such fashionit was but banishment to stay
there; and before he went he recommended Cordelia to the
protection of the godsthe maid who had so rightly thought and
so discreetly spoken; and only wished that her sisters' large
speeches might be answered with deeds of love; and then he went
as he saidto shape his old course to a new country.
The King of France and Duke of Burgundy were now called in to
hear the determination of Lear about his youngest daughterand
to know whether they would persist in their courtship to
Cordelianow that she was under her father's displeasure and had
no fortune but her own person to recommend her. And the Duke of
Burgundy declined the matchand would not take her to wife upon
such conditions. But the King of Franceunderstanding what the
nature of the fault had been which had lost her the love of her
father--that it was only a tardiness of speech and the not being
able to frame her tongue to flattery like her sisters--took this
young maid by the hand andsaying that her virtues were a dowry
above a kingdombade Cordelia to take farewell of her sisters
and of her fatherthough he had been unkindand she should go
with him and be Queen of him and of fair Franceand reign over
fairer possessions than her sisters. And he called the Duke of
Burgundyin contempta waterish dukebecause his love for this
young maid had in a moment run all away like water.
Then Cordelia with weeping eyes took leave of her sistersand
besought them to love their father well and make good their
professions; and they sullenly told her not to prescribe to them
for they knew their dutybut to strive to content her husband
who had taken her (as they tauntingly expressed it) as Fortune's
alms. And Cordelia with a heavy heart departedfor she knew the
cunning of her sisters and she wished her father in better hands
than she was about to leave him in.
Cordelia was no sooner gone than the devilish dispositions of her
sisters began to show themselves 'in their true colors. Even
before the expiration of the first monthwhich Lear was to spend
by agreementwith hisdaughterGonerilthe old king began to
find out the difference between promises and performances. This
wretchhaving got from her father all that he had to bestow
even to the giving away of the crown from off his headbegan to
grudge even those small remnants of royalty which the old man had
reserved to himselfto please his fancy with the idea of being
still a king. She could not bear to see him and his knights.
Every time she met her father she put on a frowning countenance;
and when the old man wanted to speak with her she would feign
sickness or anything to get rid of the sight of himfor it was
plain that she esteemed his old age a useless burden and his
attendants an unnecessary expense; not only she herself slackened
in her expressions of duty to the kingbut by her exampleand
(it is to be feared) not without her private instructionsher
very servants affected to treat him with neglectand would
either refuse to obey his orders or still more contemptuously
pretend not to hear them. Lear could not but perceive this
alteration in the behavior of his daughterbut he shut his eyes
against it as long as he couldas people commonly are unwilling
to believe the unpleasant consequences which their own mistakes
and obstinacy have brought upon them.
True love and fidelity are no more to be estranged by ILLthan
falsehood and hollow-heartedness can be conciliated by GOOD
USAGE. This eminently appears in the instance of the good Earl of
Kentwhothough banished by Learand his life made forfeit if
he were found in Britainchose to stay and abide all
consequences as long as there was a chance of his being useful to
the king his master. See to what mean shifts and disguises poor
loyalty is forced to submit sometimes; yet it counts nothing base
or unworthy so as it can but do service where it owes an
obligation! In the disguise of a serving-manall his greatness
and pomp laid asidethis good earl proffered his services to the
kingwhonot knowing him to be Kent in that disguisebut
pleased with a certain plainnessor rather bluntnessin his
answerswhich the earl put on (so different from that smooth
oily flattery which he had so much reason to be sick ofhaving
found the effects not answerable in his daughter)a bargain was
quickly struckand Lear took Kent into his service by the name
of Caiusas he called himselfnever suspecting him to be his
once great favoritethe high and mighty Earl of Kent.
This Caius quickly found means to show his fidelity and love to
his royal masterforGoneril's steward that same day behaving
in a disrespectful manner to Learand giving him saucy looks and
languageas no doubt he was secretly encouraged to do by his
mistressCaiusnot enduring to hear so open an affront put upon
his Majestymade no more adobut presently tripped up his heels
and laid the unmannerly slave in the kennel; for which friendly
service Lear became more and more attached to him.
Nor was Kent the only friend Lear had. In his degreeand as far
as so insignificant a personage could show his lovethe poor
foolor jesterthat had been of his palace while Lear had a
palaceas it was the custom of kings and great personages at
that time to keep a fool (as he was called) to make them sport
after serious business--this poor fool clung to Lear after he had
given away his crownand by his witty sayings would keep up his
good-humorthough he could not refrain sometimes from jeering at
his master for his imprudence in uncrowning himself and giving
all away to his daughters; at which timeas he rhymingly
expressed itthese 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 in such wild sayingsand scraps of songsof which he had
plentythis pleasanthonest fool poured out his heart even in
the presence of Goneril herselfin many a bitter taunt and jest
which cut to the quicksuch as comparing the king to the
hedgesparrowwho feeds the young of the cuckoo till they grow
old enoughand then has its head bit off for its pains; and
saying that an ass may know when the cart draws the horse
(meaning that Lear's daughtersthat ought to go behindnow
ranked before their father); and that Lear was no longer Lear
but the shadow of Lear. For which free speeches he was once or
twice threatened to be whipped.
The coolness and falling off of respect which Lear had begun to
perceive were not all which this foolish fond father was to
suffer from his unworthy daughter. She now plainly told him that
his staying in her palace was inconvenient so long as he insisted
upon keeping up an establishment of a hundred knights; that this
establishment was useless and expensive and only served to fill
her court with riot and feasting; and she prayed him that he
would lessen their number and keep none but old men about him
such as himselfand fitting his age.
Lear at first could not believe his eyes or earsnor that it was
his daughter who spoke so unkindly. He could not believe that she
who had received a crown from him could seek to cut off his train
and grudge him the respect due to his old age. But she persisting
in her undutiful demandthe old man's rage was so excited that
he called her a detested kite and said that she spoke an untruth;
and so indeed she didfor the hundred knights were all men of
choice behavior and sobriety of mannersskilled in all
particulars of dutyand not given to rioting or feastingas she
said. And he bid his horses to be preparedfor he would go to
his other daughterReganhe and his hundred knights; and he
spoke of ingratitudeand said it was a marble-hearted deviland
showed more hideous in a child than the sea-monster. And he
cursed his eldest daughterGonerilso as was terrible to hear
praying that she might never have a childorif she hadthat
it might live to return that scorn and contempt upon her which
she had shown to him; that she might feel how sharper than a
serpent's tooth it was to have a thankless child. And Goneril's
husbandthe Duke of Albanybeginning to excuse himself for any
share which Lear might suppose he had in the unkindnessLear
would not hear him outbut in a rage ordered his horses to be
saddled and set out with his followers for the abode of Regan
his other daughter. And Lear thought to himself how small the
fault of Cordelia (if it was a fault) now appeared in comparison
with her sister'sand he wept; and then he was ashamed that such
a creature as Goneril should have so much power over his manhood
as to make him weep.
Regan and her husband were keeping their court in great pomp and
state at their palace; and Lear despatched his servant Caius with
letters to his daughterthat she might be prepared for his
receptionwhile he and his train followed after. But it seems
that Goneril had been beforehand with himsending letters also
to Reganaccusing her father of waywardness and ill-humorsand
advising her not to receive so great a train as he was bringing
with him. This messenger arrived at the same time with Caiusand
Caius and he metand who should it be but Caius's old enemy the
stewardwhom he had formerly tripped up by the heels for his
saucy behavior to Lear. Caius not liking the fellow's lookand
suspecting what he came forbegan to revile him and challenged
him to fightwhich the fellow refusingCaiusin a fit of
honest passionbeat him soundlyas such a mischief-maker and
carrier of wicked messages deserved; which coming to the ears of
Regan and her husbandthey ordered Caius to be put in the
stocksthough he was a messenger from the king her father and in
that character demanded the highest respect. So that the first
thing the king saw when he entered the castle was his faithful
servant Caius sitting in that disgraceful situation.
This was but a bad omen of the reception which he was to expect;
but a worse followed whenupon inquiry for his daughter and her
husbandhe was told they were weary with traveling all night and
could not see him; and whenlastlyupon his insisting in a
positive and angry manner to see themthey came to greet him
whom should he see in their company but the hated Gonerilwho
had come to tell her own story and set her sister against the
king her father!
This sight much moved the old manand still more to see Regan
take her by the hand; and he asked Goneril if she was not ashamed
to look upon his old white beard. And Regan advised him to go
home again with Goneriland live with her peaceablydismissing
half of his attendantsand to ask her forgiveness; for he was
old and wanted discretionand must be ruled and led by persons
that had more discretion than himself. And Lear showed how
preposterous that would soundif he were to go down on his knees
and beg of his own daughter for food and raiment; and he argued
against such an unnatural dependencedeclaring his resolution
never to return with herbut to stay where he was with Reganhe
and his hundred knights; for he said that she had not forgot the
half of the kingdom which he had endowed her withand that her
eyes were not fierce like Goneril'sbut mild and kind. And he
said that rather than return to Gonerilwith half his train cut
offhe would go over to France and beg a wretched pension of the
king therewho had married his youngest daughter without a
But he was mistaken in expecting kinder treatment of Regan than
he had experienced from her sister Goneril. As if willing to
outdo her sister in unfilial behaviorshe declared that she
thought fifty knights too many to wait upon him; that
five-and-twenty were enough. Then Learnigh heartbrokenturned
to Goneril and said that he would go back with herfor her fifty
doubled five-and-twentyand so her love was twice as much as
Regan's. But Goneril excused herselfand saidwhat need of so
many as five-and twenty? or even ten? or five? when he might be
waited upon by her servants or her sister's servants? So these
two wicked daughtersas if they strove to exceed each other in
cruelty to their old fatherwho had been so good to themby
little and little would have abated him of all his trainall
respect (little enough for him that once commanded a kingdom)
which was left him to show that he had once been a king! Not that
a splendid train is essential to happinessbut from a king to a
beggar is a hard changefrom commanding millions to be without
one attendant; and it was the ingratitude in his daughters'
denying more than what he would suffer by the want of itwhich
pierced this poor king to the heart; in so much thatwith this
double ill-usageand vexation for having so foolishly given away
a kingdomhis wits began to be unsettledand while he said he
knew not whathe vowed revenge against those unnatural hags and
to make examples of them that should be a terror to the earth!
While he was thus idly threatening what his weak arm could never
executenight came onand a loud storm of thunder and lightning
with rain; and his daughters still persisting in their resolution
not to admit his followershe called for his horsesand chose
rather to encounter the utmost fury of the storm abroad than stay
under the same roof with these ungrateful daughters; and they
saying that the injuries which wilful men procure to themselves
are their just punishmentsuffered him to go in that condition
and shut their doors upon him.
The winds were highand the rain and storm increasedwhen the
old man sallied forth to combat with the elementsless sharp
than his daughters' unkindness. For many miles about there was
scarce a bush; and there upon a heathexposed to the fury of the
storm in a dark nightdid King Lear wander outand defy the
winds and the thunder; and he bid the winds to blow the earth
into the seaor swell the waves of the sea till they drowned the
earththat no token might remain of any such ungrateful animal
as man. The old king was now left with no other companion than
the poor foolwho still abided with himwith his merry conceits
striving to outjest misfortunesaying it was but a naughty night
to swim inand truly the king had better go in and ask his
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
and swearing it was a brave night to cool a lady's pride.
Thus poorly accompaniedthis once great monarch was found by his
ever-faithful servant the good Earl of Kentnow transformed to
Caiuswho ever followed close at his sidethough the king did
not know him to be the earl; and be said:
Alas, sir, are you here? Creatures that love night love not such
nights as these. This dreadful storm has driven the beasts to
their hiding-places. Man's nature cannot endure the affliction or
And Lear rebuked him and said these lesser evils were not felt
where a greater malady was fixed. When the mind is at ease the
body has leisure to be delicatebut the tempest in his mind did
take all feeling else from his senses but of that which beat at
his heart. And he spoke of filial ingratitudeand said it was
all one as if the mouth should tear the hand for lifting food to
it; for parents were hands and food and everything to children.
But the good Caius still persisting in his entreaties that the
king would not stay out in the open airat last persuaded him to
enter a little wretched hovel which stood upon the heathwhere
the fool first enteringsuddenly ran back terrifiedsaying that
he had seen a spirit. But upon examination this spirit proved to
be nothing more than a poor Bedlam beggar who had crept into this
deserted hovel for shelterand with his talk about devils
frighted the foolone of those poor lunatics who are either mad
or feign to be sothe better to extort charity from the
compassionate country peoplewho go about the country calling
themselves poor Tom and poor TurlygoodsayingWho gives
anything to poor Tom?sticking pins and nails and sprigs of
rosemary into their arms to make them bleed; and with horrible
actionspartly by prayersand partly with lunatic cursesthey
move or terrify the ignorant country folk into giving them alms.
This poor fellow was such a one; and the kingseeing him in so
wretched a plightwith nothing but a blanket about his loins to
cover his nakednesscould not be persuaded but that the fellow
was some father who had given all away to his daughters and
brought himself to that pass; for nothinghe thoughtcould
bring a man to such wretchedness but the having unkind daughters.
And from this and many such wild speeches which he uttered the
good Caius plainly perceived that he was not in his perfect mind
but that his daughters' ill-usage had really made him go mad. And
now the loyalty of this worthy Earl of Kent showed itself in more
essential services than he had hitherto found opportunity to
perform. For with the assistance of some of the king's attendants
who remained loyal he had the person of his royal master removed
at daybreak to the castle of Doverwhere his own friends and
influenceas Earl of Kentchiefly lay; and himselfembarking
for Francehastened to the court of Cordeliaand did there in
such moving terms represent the pitiful condition of her royal
fatherand set out in such lively colors the inhumanity of her
sistersthat this good and loving child with many tears besought
the kingher husbandthat he would give her leave to embark for
Englandwith a sufficient power to subdue these cruel daughters
and their husbands and restore the old kingher fatherto his
throne; which being grantedshe set forthand with a royal army
landed at Dover.
Learhaving by some chance escaped from the guardians which' the
good Earl of Kent had put over him to take care of him in his
lunacywas found by some of Cordelia's trainwandering about
the fields near Doverin a pitiable conditionstark madand
singing aloud to himselfwith a crown upon his head which he had
made of straw and nettles and other wild weeds that he had picked
up in the corn-fields. By the advice of the physiciansCordelia
though earnestly desirous of seeing her fatherwas prevailed
upon to put off the meeting tillby sleep and the operation of
herbs which they gave himhe should be restored to greater
composure. By the aid of these skilful physiciansto whom
Cordelia promised all her gold and jewels for the recovery of the
old kingLear was soon in a condition to see his daughter.
A tender sight it was to see the meeting between this father and
daughter; to see the struggles between the joy of this poor old
king at beholding again his once darling childand the shame at
receiving such filial kindness from her whom he had cast off for
so small a fault in his displeasure; both these passions
struggling with the remains of his maladywhich in his
half-crazed brain sometimes made him that he scarce remembered
where he was or who it was tb at so kindly kissed him and spoke
to him. And then he would beg the standers-by not to laugh at him
if he were mistaken in thinking this lady to be his daughter
Cordelia! And then to see him fall on his knees to beg pardon of
his child; and shegood ladykneeling all the while to ask a
blessing of himand telling him that it did not become him to
kneelbut it was her dutyfor she was his childhis true and
very child Cordelia! And she kissed him (as she said) to kiss
away all her sisters' unkindnessand said that they might be
ashamed of themselvesto turn their old kind father with his
white beard out into the cold airwhen her enemy's dogthough
it had bit her (as she prettily expressed it)should have stayed
by her fire such a night as thatand warmed himself. And she
told her father how she had come from France with purpose to
bring him assistance; and he said that she must forget and
forgivefor he was old and foolish and did not know what he did;
but that to be sure she had great cause not to love himbut her
sisters had none. And Cordelia said that she had no causeno
more than they had.
So we will leave this old king in the protection of his dutiful
and loving childwhereby the help of sleep and medicineshe
and her physicians at length succeeded in winding up the untuned
and jarring senses which the cruelty of his other daughters had
so violently shaken. Let us return to say a word or two about
those cruel daughters.
These monsters of ingratitudewho had been so false to their old
fathercould not be expected to prove more faithful to their own
husbands. They soon grew tired of paying even the appearance of
duty and affectionand in an open way showed they had fixed
their loves upon another. It happened that the object of their
guilty loves was the same. It was Edmunda natural son of the
late Earl of Gloucesterwho by his treacheries had succeeded in
disinheriting his brother Edgarthe lawful heirfrom his
earldomand by his wicked practices was now earl himself; a
wicked manand a fit object for the love of such wicked
creatures as Goneril and Regan. It falling out about this time
that the Duke of CornwallRegan's husbanddiedRegan
immediately declared her intention of wedding this Earl of
Gloucesterwhich rousing the jealousy of her sisterto whom as
well as to Regan this wicked earl had at sundry times professed
loveGoneril found means to make away with her sister by poison;
but being detected in her practicesand imprisoned by her
husbandthe Duke of Albanyfor this deedand for her guilty
passion for the earl which had come to his earsshein a fit of
disappointed love and rageshortly put an end to her own life.
Thus the justice of Heaven at last overtook these wicked
While the eyes of all men were upon this eventadmiring the
justice displayed in their deserved deathsthe same eyes were
suddenly taken off from this sight to admire at the mysterious
ways of the same power in the melancholy fate of the young and
virtuous daughterthe Lady Cordeliawhose good deeds did seem
to deserve a more fortunate conclusion. But it is an awful truth
that innocence and piety are not always successful in this world.
The forces which Goneril and Regan had sent out under the command
of the bad Earl of Gloucester were victoriousand Cordeliaby
the practices of this wicked earlwho did not like that any
should stand between him and the throneended her life in
prison. Thus heaven took this innocent lady to itself in her
young yearsafter showing her to the world an illustrious
example of filial duty. Lear did not long survive this kind
Before he diedthe good Earl of Kentwho had still attended his
old master's steps from the first of his daughters' ill-usage to
this sad period of his decaytried to make him understand that
it was he who had followed him under the name of Caius; but
Lear's care-crazed brain at that time could not comprehend how
that could beor how Kent and Caius could be the same personso
Kent thought it needless to trouble him with explanations at such
a time; andLear soon after expiringthis faithful servant to
the kingbetween age and grief for his old master's vexations
soon followed him to the grave.
How the judgment of Heaven overtook the bad Earl of Gloucester
whose treasons were discoveredand himself slain in single
combat with his brotherthe lawful earland how Goneril's
husbandthe Duke of Albanywho was innocent of the death of
Cordeliaand had never encouraged his lady in her wicked
proceedings against her fatherascended the throne of Britain
after the death of Learit is needless here to narrateLear and
his three daughters being deadwhose adventures alone concern
When Duncan the Meek reigned King of Scotland there lived a great
thaneor lordcalled Macbeth. This Macbeth was a near kinsman
to the kingand in great esteem at court for his valor and
conduct in the warsan example of which he had lately given in
defeating a rebel army assisted by the troops of Norway in
The two Scottish generalsMacbeth and Banquoreturning
victorious from this great battletheir way lay over a blasted
heathwhere they were stopped by the strange appearance of three
figures like womenexcept that they had beardsand their
withered skins and wild attire made them look not like any
earthly creatures. Macbeth first addressed themwhen they
seemingly offendedlaid each one her choppy finger upon her
skinny lipsin token of silence; and the first of them saluted
Macbeth with the title of Thane of Glamis. The general was not a
little startled to find himself known by such creatures; but how
much morewhen the second of them followed up that salute by
giving him the title of Thane of Cawdorto which honor he had no
pretensions; and again the third bid himAll hail! that shalt
be king hereafter!Such a prophetic greeting might well amaze
himwho knew that while the king's sons lived he could not hope
to succeed to the throne. Then turning to Banquothey pronounced
himin a sort of riddling termsto be LESSER THAN MACBETHAND
GREATER! NOT SO HAPPYBUT MUCH HAPPIER! and prophesied that
though he should never reignyet his sons after him should be
kings in Scotland. They then turned into air and vanished; by
which the generals knew them to be the weird sistersor witches.
While they stood pondering on the strangeness of this adventure
there arrived certain messengers from the kingwho were
empowered by him to confer upon Macbeth the dignity of Thane of
Cawdor. An event so miraculously corresponding with the
prediction of the witches astonished Macbethand he stood
wrapped in amazementunable to make reply to the messengers; and
in that point of time swelling hopes arose in his mind that the
prediction of the third witch might in like manner have its
accomplishmentand that he should one day reign king in
Turning to Banquohe saidDo you not hope that your children
shall be kings, when what the witches promised to me has so
wonderfully come to pass?
That hope,answered the generalmight enkindle you to aim at
the throne; but oftentimes these ministers of darkness tell us
truths in little things, to betray us into deeds of greatest
But the wicked suggestions of the witches had sunk too deep into
the mind of Macbeth to allow him to attend to the warnings of the
good Banquo. From that time he bent all his thoughts how to
compass the throne of Scotland.
Macbeth had a wifeto whom he communicated the strange
prediction of the weird sisters and its partial accomplishment.
She was a badambitious womanand so as her husband and herself
could arrive at greatness she cared not much by what means. She
spurred on the reluctant purpose of Macbethwho felt compunction
at the thoughts of bloodand did not cease to represent the
murder of the king as a step absolutely necessary to the
fulfilment of the flattering prophecy.
It happened at this time that the kingwho out of his royal
condescension would oftentimes visit his principal nobility upon
gracious termscame to Macbeth's houseattended by his two
sonsMalcolm and Donalbainand a numerous train of thanes and
attendantsthe more to honor Macbeth for the triumphal success
of his wars.
The castle of Macbeth was pleasantly situated and the air about
it was sweet and wholesomewhich appeared by the nests which the
martletor swallowhad built under all the jutting friezes and
buttresses of the buildingwherever it found a place of
advantage; for where those birds most breed and haunt the air is
observed to be delicate. The king enteredwell pleased with the
placeand not less so with the attentions and respect of his
honored hostessLady Macbethwho had the art of covering
treacherous purposes with smilesand could look like the
innocent flower while she was indeed serpent under it.
The kingbeing tired with his journeywent early to bedand in
his state-room two grooms of his chamber (as was the custom)
beside him. He had been unusually pleased with his receptionand
had made presents before he retired to his principal ; and among
the rest had sent a diamond to Lady Macbethgreeting the name of
his most kind hostess.
Now was the middle of nightwhen over half the world nature
seems deadand wicked dreams abuse men's minds asleepand none
but the wolf and the murderer are abroad. This was the time when
Lady Macbeth waked to plot the murder of the king. She would not
have undertaken a deed so abhorrent to her sex but that she
feared her husband's naturethat it was too full of the milk of
human kindness to do a contrived murder. She knew him to be
ambitiousbut withal to be scrupulousand not yet prepared for
that height of crime which commonly in the end accompanies
inordinate ambition. She had won him to consent to the murder
but she doubted his resolution; and she feared that the natural
tenderness of his disposition (more humane than her own) would
come between and defeat the purpose. So with her own hands armed
with a dagger she approached the king's bedhaving taken care to
ply the grooms of his chamber so with wine that they slept
intoxicated and careless of their charge. There lay Duncan in a
sound sleep after the fatigues of his journeyand as she viewed
him earnestly there was something in his faceas he sleptwhich
resembled her own fatherand she had not the courage to proceed.
She returned to confer with her husband. His resolution had begun
to stagger. He considered that there were strong reasons against
the deed. In the first placehe was not only a subjectbut a
near kinsman to the king; and he had been his host and
entertainer that daywhose dutyby the laws of hospitalityit
was to shut the door against his murderersnot bear the knife
himself. Then he considered how just and merciful a king this
Duncan had beenhow clear of offense to his subjectshow loving
to his nobilityand in particular to him; that such kings are
the peculiar care of Heavenand their subjects doubly bound to
revenge their deaths. Besidesby the favors of the kingMacbeth
stood high in the opinion of all sorts of menand how would
those honors be stained by the reputation of so foul a murder!
In these conflicts of the mind Lady Macbeth found her husband
inclining to the better part and resolving to proceed no further.
But shebeing a woman not easily shaken from her evil purpose
began to pour in at his ears words which infused a portion of her
own spirit into his mindassigning reason upon reason why he
should not shrink from what he had undertaken; how easy the deed
was; how soon it would be over; and how the action of one short
night would give to all their nights and days to come sovereign
sway and royalty! Then she threw contempt on his change of
purposeand accused him of fickleness and cowardice; and
declared that she had given suckand knew how tender it was to
love the babe that milked herbut she wouldwhile it was
smiling in her facehave plucked it from her breast and dashed
its brains out if she had so sworn to do it as he had sworn to
perform that murder. Then she addedhow practicable it was to
lay the guilt of the deed upon the drunkensleepy grooms. And
with the valor of her tongue she so chastised his sluggish
resolutions that he once more summoned up courage to the bloody
Sotaking the dagger in his handhe softly stole in the dark to
the room where Duncan lay; and as he went he thought he saw
another dagger in the airwith the handle toward himand on the
blade and at the point of it drops of blood; but when be tried to
grasp at it it was nothing but aira mere phantasm proceeding
from his own hot and oppressed brain and the business he had in
Getting rid of this fearhe entered the king's roomwhom he
despatched with one stroke of his dagger. just as he had done the
murder one of the grooms who slept in the chamber laughed in his
sleepand the other criedMurder,which woke them both.
But they said a short prayer; one of them saidGod less us!
and the other answeredAmen; and addressed themselves to sleep
again. Macbethwho stood listening to themtried to say "Amen"
when the fellow said "God bless us!" butthough he had most need
of a blessingthe word stuck in his throat and he could not
Again he thought he heard a voice which cried: "Sleep no more!
Macbeth doth murder sleepthe innocent sleepthat nourishes
life." Still it criedSleep no more!to all the house. "Glamis
hath murdered sleepand therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more
Macbeth shall sleep no more."
With such horrible imaginations Macbeth returned to his listening
wifewho began to think he had failed of his purpose and that
the deed was somehow frustrated. He came in so distracted a state
that she reproached him with his want of firmness and sent him to
wash his hands of the blood which stained themwhile she took
his daggerwith purpose to stain the cheeks of the grooms with
bloodto make it seem their guilt.
Morning cameand with it the discovery of the murderwhich
could not be concealed; and though Macbeth and his lady made
great show of griefand the proofs against the grooms (the
dagger being produced against them and their faces smeared with
blood) were sufficiently strongyet the entire suspicion fell
upon Macbethwhose inducements to such a deed were so much more
forcible than such poor silly grooms could be supposed to have;
and Duncan's two sons fled. Malcolmthe eldestsought for
refuge in the English court; and the youngestDonalbainmade
his escape to Ireland.
The king's sonswho should have succeeded himhaving thus
vacated the throneMacbeth as next heir was crowned kingand
thus the prediction of the weird sisters was literally
Though placed so highMacbeth and his queen could not forget the
prophecy of the weird sisters thatthough Macbeth should be
kingyet not his childrenbut the children of Banquoshould be
kings after him. The thought of thisand that they had defiled
their hands with bloodand done so great crimesonly to place
the posterity of Banquo upon the throneso rankled within them
that they determined to put to death both Banquo and his sonto
make void the predictions of the weird sisterswhich in their
own case had been so remarkably brought to pass.
For this purpose they made a great supperto which they invited
all the chief thanes; and among the restwith marks of
particular respectBanquo and his son Fleance were invited. The
way by which Banquo was to pass to the palace at night was beset
by murderers appointed by Macbethwho stabbed Banquo; but in the
scuffle Fleance escaped. From that Fleance descended a race of
monarchs who afterward filled the Scottish throneending with
James the Sixth of Scotland and the First of Englandunder whom
the two crowns of England and Scotland were united.
At supperthe queenwhose manners were in the highest degree
affable and royalplayed the hostess with a gracefulness and
attention which conciliated every one presentand Macbeth
discoursed freely with his thanes and noblessaying that all
that was honorable in the country was under his roofif he had
but his good friend Banquo presentwhom yet he hoped he should
rather have to chide for neglect than to lament for any
mischance. just at these words the ghost of Banquowhom he had
caused to be murderedentered the room and placed himself on the
chair which Macbeth was about to occupy. Though Macbeth was a
bold manand one that could have faced the devil without
tremblingat this horrible sight his cheeks turned white with
fear and he stood quite unmannedwith his eyes fixed upon the
ghost. His queen and all the nobleswho saw nothingbut
perceived him gazing (as they thought) upon an empty chairtook
it for a fit of distraction; and she reproached himwhispering
that it was but the same fancy which made him see the dagger in
the air when he was about to kill Duncan. But Macbeth continued
to see the ghostand gave no heed to all they could saywhile
he addressed it with distracted wordsyet so significant that
his queenfearing the dreadful secret would be disclosedin
great haste dismissed the guestsexcusing the infirmity of
Macbeth as disorder he was often troubled with.
To such dreadful fancies Macbeth was subject. His queen and he
had their sleeps afflicted with terrible dreamsand the blood of
Banquo troubled them not more than the escape of Fleancewhom
now they looked upon as father to a line of kings who should keep
their posterity out of the throne. With these miserable thoughts
they found no peaceand Macbeth determined once more to seek out
the weird sisters and know from them the worst.
He sought them in a cave upon the heathwhere theywho knew by
foresight of his comingwere engaged in preparing their dreadful
charms by which they conjured up infernal spirits to reveal to
them futurity. Their horrid ingredients were toadsbatsand
serpentsthe eye of a newt and the tongue of a dogthe leg of a
lizard and the wing of the night-owlthe scale of a dragonthe
tooth of a wolfthe maw of the ravenous salt-sea sharkthe
mummy of a witchthe root of the poisonous hemlock (this to have
effect must be digged in the dark)the gall of a goatand the
liver of a Jewwith slips of the yew-tree that roots itself in
gravesand the finger of a dead child. All these were set on to
boil in a great kettleor caldronwhichas fast as it grew too
hotwas cooled with a baboon's blood. To these they poured in
the blood of a sow that had eaten her youngand they threw into
the flame the grease that had sweaten from a murderer's gibbet.
By these charms they bound the infernal spirit to answer their
It was demanded of Macbeth whether he would have his doubts
resolved by them or by their mastersthe spirits.
Henothing daunted by the dreadful ceremonies which be saw
boldly answered: "Where are they? Let me see them."
And they called the spiritswhich were three. And the first
arose in the likeness of an armed headand he called Macbeth by
name and bid him beware of the Thane of Fife; for which caution
Macbeth thanked him; for Macbeth had entertained a jealousy of
Macduffthe Thane of Fife.
And the second spirit arose in the likeness of a bloody child
and he called Macbeth by name and bid him have no fearbut laugh
to scorn the power of manfor none of woman born should have
power to hurt him; and he advised him to be bloodyboldand
Then live, Macduff!cried the king. "What need I fear thee? But
yet I will make assurance doubly sure. Thou shalt not livethat
I may tell pale-hearted fear it liesand sleep in spite of
That spirit being dismisseda third arose in the form of a child
crownedwith a tree in his hand. He called Macbeth by name and
comforted him against conspiraciessaying that he should never
be vanquished until the wood of Birnam to Dunsinane hill should
come against him.
Sweet bodements! good!cried Macbeth; "who can unfix the
forestand move it from its earth-bound roots? I see I shall
live the usual period of man's lifeand not be cut off by a
violent death. But my heart throbs to know one thing. Tell meif
your art can tell so muchif Banquo's issue shall ever reign in
Here the caldron sank into the groundand a noise of music was
heardand eight shadowslike kingspassed by Macbethand
Banquo lastwho bore a glass which showed the figures of many
moreand Banquoall bloodysmiled upon Macbethand pointed to
them; by which Macbeth knew that these were the posterity of
Banquowho should reign after him in Scotland; and the witches
with a sound of soft musicand with dancingmaking a show of
duty and welcome to Macbethvanished. And from this time the
thoughts of Macbeth were all bloody and dreadful. The first thing
he heard when he got out of the witches' cave was that Macduff
Thane of Fifehad fled to England to join the army which was
forming against him under Malcolmthe eldest son of the late
kingwith intent to displace Macbeth and set Malcolmthe right
heirupon the throne. Macbethstung with rageset upon the
castle of Macduff and put his wife and childrenwhom the thane
had left behindto the swordand extended the slaughter to all
who claimed the least relationship to Macduff.
These and such-like deeds alienated the minds of all his chief
nobility from him. Such as could fled to join with Malcolm and
Macduffwho were now approaching with a powerful army which they
had raised in England; and the rest secretly wished success to
their armsthoughfor fear of Macbeththey could take no
active part. His recruits went on slowly. Everybody hated the
tyrant; nobody loved or honored him; but all suspected him; and
he began to envy the condition of Duncanwhom he had murdered
who slept soundly in his graveagainst whom treason had done its
worst. Steel nor poisondomestic malice nor foreign levies
could hurt him any longer.
While these things were actingthe queenwho had been the sole
partner in his wickednessin whose bosom he could sometimes seek
a momentary repose from those terrible dreams which afflicted
them both nightlydiedit is supposedby her own handsunable
to bear the remorse of guilt and public hate; by which event he
was left alonewithout a soul to love or care for himor a
friend to whom he could confide his wicked purposes.
He grew careless of life and wished for death; but the near
approach of Malcolm's army roused in him what remained of his
ancient courageand he determined to die (as he expressed it)
with armor on his back.Besides thisthe hollow promises of
the witches had filled him with a false confidenceand he
remembered the sayings of the spiritsthat none of woman born
was to hurt himand that he was never to be vanquished till
Birnam wood should come to Dunsinanewhich he thought could
never be. So he shut himself up in his castlewhose impregnable
strength was such as defied a siege. Here he sullenly waited the
approach of Malcolm. Whenupon a daythere came a messenger to
himpale and shaking with fearalmost unable to report that
which he had seen; for he averredthat as he stood upon his
watch on the hill he looked toward Birnamand to his thinking
the wood began to move!
Liar and slave!cried Macbeth. "If thou speakest falsethou
shalt hang alive upon the next treetill famine end thee. If thy
tale be trueI care not if thou dost as much by me"; for Macbeth
now began to faint in resolutionand to doubt the equivocal
speeches of the spirits. He was not to fear till Birnam wood
should come to Dunsinane; and now a wood did move! "However
said he, if this which he avouches be truelet us arm and out.
There is no flying hencenor staying here. I begin to be weary
of the sunand wish my life at an end." With these desperate
speeches he sallied forth upon the besiegerswho had now come up
to the castle.
The strange appearance which had given the messenger an idea of a
wood moving is easily solved. When the besieging army marched
through the wood of BirnamMalcolmlike a skilful general
instructed his soldiers to hew down every one a bough and bear it
before himby way of concealing the true numbers of his host.
This marching of the soldiers with boughs had at a distance the
appearance which had frightened the messenger. Thus were the
words of the spirit brought to passin a sense different from
that in which Macbeth had understood themand one great hold of
his confidence was gone.
And now a severe skirmishing took placein which Macbeththough
feebly supported by those who called themselves his friendsbut
in reality hated the tyrant and inclined to the party of Malcolm
and Macduffyet fought with the extreme of rage and valor
cutting to pieces all who were opposed to himtill he came to
where Macduff was fighting. Seeing Macduffand remembering the
caution of the spirit who had counseled him to avoid Macduff
above all menhe would have turnedbut Macduffwho had been
seeking him through the whole fightopposed his turningand a
fierce contest ensuedMacduff giving him many foul reproaches
for the murder of his wife and children. Macbethwhose soul was
charged enough with blood of that family alreadywould still
have declined the combat; but Macduff still urged him to it
calling him tyrantmurdererhell-houndand villain.
Then Macbeth remembered the words of the spirithow none of
woman born should hurt him; andsmiling confidentlyhe said to
Thou losest thy labor, Macduff. As easily thou mayest impress
the air with thy sword as make me vulnerable. I bear a charmed
life, which must not yield to one of woman born.
Despair thy charm,said Macduffand let that lying spirit
whom thou hast served tell thee that Macduff was never born of
woman, never as the ordinary manner of men is to be born, but was
untimely taken from his mother.
Accursed be the tongue which tells me so,said the trembling
Macbethwho felt his last hold of confidence give way; "and let
never man in future believe the lying equivocations of witches
and juggling spirits who deceive us in words which have double
sensesandwhile they keep their promise literallydisappoint
our hopes with a different meaning. I will not fight with thee."
Then live!said the scornful Macduff. "We will have a show of
theeas men show monstersand a painted boardon which all be
written'Here men may see the tyrant!'"
Never,said Macbethwhose courage returned with despair. "I
will not live to kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet to
be baited with the curses of the rabble. Though Birnam wood be
come to Dunsinaneand thou opposed to mewho wast born of
womanyet will I try the last."
With these frantic words he threw himself upon Macduffwho
after a severe strugglein the end overcame himandcutting
off his headmade a present of it to the young and lawful king
Malcolmwho took upon him the government whichby the
machinations of the usurperhe had so long been deprived ofand
ascended the throne of Duncan the Meek among the acclamations of
the nobles and the people.
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL
BertramCount of Rousillonhad newly come to his title and
estate by the death of his father. The King of France loved the
father of Bertramand when he heard of his death he sent for his
son to come immediately to his royal court in Parisintending
for the friendship he bore the late countto grace young Bertram
with his especial favor and protection.
Bertram was living with his motherthe widowed countesswhen
Lafeuan old lord of the French courtcame to conduct him to
the king. The King of France was an absolute monarch and the
invitation to court was in the form of a royal mandateor
positive commandwhich no subjectof what high dignity soever
might disobey; thereforethough the countessin parting with
this dear sonseemed a second time to bury her husbandwhose
loss she had so lately mournedyet she dared not to keep him a
single daybut gave instant orders for his departure. Lafeuwho
came to fetch himtried to comfort the countess for the loss of
her late lord and her son's sudden absence; and he saidin a
courtier's flattering mannerthat the king was so kind a prince
she would find in his Majesty a husbandand that he would be a
father to her son; meaning only that the good king would befriend
the fortunes of Bertram. Lafeu told the countess that the king
had fallen into a sad maladywhich was pronounced by his
physicians to be incurable. The lady expressed great sorrow on
hearing this account of the king's ill healthand said she
wished the father of Helena (a young gentlewoman who was present
in attendance upon her) were living that she doubted not he could
have cured his Majesty of his disease. And she told Lafeu
something of the history of Helenasaying she was the only
daughter of the famous physicianGerard de Narbonand that he
had recommended his daughter to her care when he was dyingso
that since his death she had taken Helena under her protection;
then the countess praised the virtuous disposition and excellent
qualities of Helenasaying she inherited these virtues from her
worthy father. While she was speakingHelena wept in sad and
mournful silencewhich made the countess gently reprove her for
too much grieving for her father's death.
Bertram now bade his mother farewell. The countess parted with
this dear son with tears and many blessingsand commended him to
the care of Lafeusaying:
Good my lord, advise him, for he is an unseasoned courtier.
Bertram's last words were spoken to Helenabut they were words
of mere civilitywishing her happiness; and he concluded his
short farewell to her with saying:
Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make much of
Helena had long loved Bertramand when she wept in sad and
mournful silence the tears she shed were not for Gerard de
Narbon.. Helena loved her fatherbut in the present feeling of a
deeper lovethe object of which she was about to loseshe had
forgotten the very form and features of her dead fatherher
imagination presenting no image to her mind but Bertram's.
Helena had long loved Bertramyet she always remembered that he
was the Count of Rousillondescended from the most ancient
family in France. She of humble birth. Her parents of no note at
all. His ancestors all noble. And therefore she looked up to the
high-born Bertram as to her master and to her dear lordand
dared not form any wish but to live his servantandso living
to die his vassal. So great the distance seemed to her between
his height of dignity and her lowly fortunes that she would say:
It were all one that I should love a bright particular star, and
think to wed it, Bertram is so far above me.
Bertram's absence filled her eyes with tears and her heart with
sorrow; for though she loved without hopeyet it was a pretty
comfort to her to see him every hourand Helena would sit and
look upon his dark eyehis arched browand the curls of his
fine hair till she seemed to draw his portrait on the tablet of
her heartthat heart too capable of retaining the memory of
every line in the features of that loved face.
Gerard de Narbonwhen he diedleft her no other portion than
some prescriptions of rare and well-proved virtuewhichby deep
study and long experience in medicinehe had collected as
sovereign and almost infallible remedies. Among the rest there
was one set down as an approved medicine for the disease under
which Lafeu said the king at that time languished; and when
Helena heard of the king's complaintshewho till now had been
so humble and so hopelessformed an ambitious project in her
mind to go herself to Paris and undertake the cure of the king.
But though Helena was the possessor of this choice prescription
it was unlikelyas the king as well as his physicians was of
opinion that his disease was incurablethat they would give
credit to a poor unlearned virgin if she should offer to perform
a cure. The firm hopes that Helena had of succeedingif she
might be permitted to make the trialseemed more than even her
father's skill warrantedthough he was the most famous physician
of his time; for she felt a strong faith that this good medicine
was sanctified by all the luckiest stars in heaven to be the
legacy that should advance her fortuneeven to the high dignity
of being Count Rousillon's wife.
Bertram had not been long gone when the countess was informed by
her steward that he had overheard Helena talking to herselfand
that he understoodfrom some words she utteredshe was in love
with Bertram and thought of following him to Paris. The countess
dismissed the steward with thanksand desired him to tell Helena
she wished to speak with her. What she had just heard of Helena
brought the remembrance of days long past into the mind of the
countess; those daysprobablywhen her love for Bertram's
father first began; and she said to herself:
Even so it was with me when I was young. Love is a thorn that
belongs to the rose of youth; for in the season of youth, if ever
we are Nature's children, these faults are ours, though then we
think not they are faults.
While the countess was thus meditating on the loving errors of
her own youthHelena enteredand she said to herHelena, you
know I am a mother to you.
Helena repliedYou are my honorable mistress.
You are my daughter,said the countess again. "I say I am your
mother. Why do you start and look pale at my words?"
With looks of alarm and confused thoughtsfearing the countess
suspected her loveHelena still repliedPardon me, madam, you
are not my mother; the Count Rousillon cannot be my brother, nor
I your daughter.
Yet, Helena,said the countessyou might be my
daughter-in-law; and I am afraid that is what you mean to be, the
words MOTHER and DAUGHTER so disturb you. Helena, do you love my
Good madam, pardon me,said the affrighted Helena.
Again the countess repeated her question. "Do you love my son?"
Do not you love him, madam?said Helena.
The countess replied: "Give me not this evasive answerHelena.
Comecomedisclose the state of your affectionsfor your love
has to the full appeared."
Helenaon her knees nowowned her loveand with shame and
terror implored the pardon of her noble mistress; and with words
expressive of the sense she had of the inequality between their
fortunes she protested Bertram did not know she loved him
comparing her humbleunaspiring love to a poor Indian who adores
the sun that looks upon his worshiper but knows of him no more.
The countess asked Helena if she had not lately an intent to go
to Paris. Helena owned the design she had formed in her mind when
she heard Lafeu speak of the king's illness.
This was your motive for wishing to go to Paris,said the
countesswas it? Speak truly.
Helena honestly answeredMy lord your son made me to think of
this; else Paris. and the medicine and the king had from the
conversation of my thoughts been absent then.
The countess heard the whole of this confession without saying a
word either of approval or of blamebut she strictly questioned
Helena as to the probability of the medicine being useful to the
king. She found that it was the most prized by Gerard de Narbon
of all he possessedand that he had given it to his daughter on
his death-bed; and remembering the solemn promise she had made at
that awful hour in regard to this young maidwhose destinyand
the life of the king himselfseemed to depend on the execution
of a project (whichthough conceived by the fond suggestions of
a loving maiden's thoughtsthe countess knew not but it might be
the unseen workings of Providence to bring to pass the recovery
of the king and to lay the foundation of the future fortunes of
Gerard de Narbon's daughter)free leave she gave to Helena to
pursue her own wayand generously furnished her with ample means
and suitable attendants; and Helena set out for Paris with the
blessings of the countess and her kindest wishes for her success.
Helena arrived at Parisand by the assistance of her friendthe
old Lord Lafeushe obtained an audience of the king. She had
still many difficulties to encounterfor the king was not easily
prevailed on to try the medicine offered him by this fair young
doctor. But she told him she was Gerard de Narbon's daughter
(with whose fame the king was well acquainted)and she offered
the precious medicine as the darling treasure which contained the
essence of all her father's long experience and skilland she
boldly engaged to forfeit her life if it failed to restore his
Majesty to perfect health in the space of two days. The king at
length consented to try itand in two days' time Helena was to
lose her fife if the king did not recover; but if she succeeded
he promised to give her the choice of any man throughout all
France (the princes only excepted) whom she could like for a
husband; the choice of a husband being the fee Helena demanded if
she cured the king of his disease.
Helena did not deceive herself in the hope she conceived of the
efficacy of her father's medicine. Before two days were at an
end the king was restored to perfect healthand he assembled all
the young noblemen of his court togetherin order to confer the
promised reward of a husband upon his fair physician; and he
desired Helena to look round on this youthful parcel of noble
bachelors and choose her husband. Helena was not slow to make her
choicefor among these young lords she saw the Count Rousillon
andturning to Bertramshe said:
This is the man. I dare not say, my lord, I take you, but I give
me and my service ever whilst I live into your guiding power.
Why, then,said the kingyoung Bertram, take her; she is your
Bertram did not hesitate to declare his dislike to this present
of the king's of the self-offered Helenawhohe saidwas a
poor physician's daughterbred at his father's chargeand now
living a dependent on his mother's bounty.
Helena heard him speak these words of rejection and of scornand
she said to the king: "That you are wellmy lordI am glad. Let
the rest go."
But the king would not suffer his royal command to be so
slightedfor the power of bestowing their nobles in marriage was
one of the many privileges of the kings of Franceand that same
day Bertram was married to Helenaa forced and uneasy marriage
to Bertramand of no promising hope to the poor ladywho
though she gained the noble husband she had hazarded her life to
obtainseemed to have won but a splendid blankher husband's
love not being a gift in the power of the King of France to
Helena was no sooner married than she was desired by Bertram to
apply to the king for him for leave of absence from court; and
when she brought him the king's permission for his departure
Bertram told her that he was not prepared for this sudden
marriageit had much unsettled himand therefore she must not
wonder at the course he should pursue. If Helena wondered not
she grieved when she found it was his intention to leave her. He
ordered her to go home to his mother. When Helena heard this
unkind commandshe replied:
Sir, I can nothing say to this but that I am your most obedient
servant, and shall ever with true observance seek to eke out that
desert wherein my homely stars have failed to equal my great
But this humble speech of Helena's did not at all move the
haughty Bertram to pity his gentle wifeand he parted from her
without even the common civility of a kind farewell.
Back to the countess then Helena returned. She had accomplished
the purport of her journeyshe had preserved the life of the
kingand she had wedded her heart's dear lordthe Count
Rousillon; but she returned back a dejected lady to her noble
mother-in-lawand as soon as she entered the house she received
a letter from Bertram which almost broke her heart.
The good countess received her with a cordial welcomeas if she
had been her son's own choice and a lady of a high degreeand
she spoke kind words to comfort her for the unkind neglect of
Bertram in sending his wife home on her bridal day alone. But
this gracious reception failed to cheer the sad mind of Helena
and she said:
Madam, my lord is gone, forever gone.She then read these words
out of Bertram's letter:
When you can get the ring from my finger, which never shall come
off, then call me husband, but in such a Then I write a Never.
This is a dreadful sentence!said Helena.
The countess begged her to have patienceand saidnow Bertram
was goneshe should be her child and that she deserved a lord
that twenty such rude boys as Bertram might tend uponand hourly
call her mistress. But in vain by respectful condescension and
kind flattery this matchless mother tried to soothe the sorrows
of her daughter-in-law.
Helena still kept her eyes fixed upon the letterand cried out
in an agony of griefTILL I HAVE NO WIFE, I HAVE NOTHING IN
FRANCE.The countess asked her if she found those words in the
Yes, madam,was all poor Helena could answer.
The next morning Helena was missing. She left a letter to be
delivered to the countess after she was goneto acquaint her
with the reason of her sudden absence. In this letter she
informed her that she was so much grieved at having driven
Bertram from his native country and his homethat to atone for
her offenseshe had undertaken a pilgrimage to the shrine of St.
Jaques le Grandand concluded with requesting the countess to
inform her son that the wife he so hated had left his house
Bertramwhen he left Pariswent to Florenceand there became
an officer in the Duke of Florence's armyand after a successful
warin which he distinguished himself by many brave actions
Bertram received letters from his mother containing the
acceptable tidings that Helena would no more disturb him; and he
was preparing to return homewhen Helena herselfclad in her
pilgrim's weedsarrived at the city of Florence.
Florence was a city through which the pilgrims used to pass on
their way to St. Jaques le Grand; and when Helena arrived at this
city she heard that a hospitable widow dwelt there who used to
receive into her house the female pilgrims that were going to
visit the shrine of that saintgiving them lodging and kind
entertainment. To this good ladythereforeHelena wentand the
widow gave her a courteous welcome and invited her to see
whatever was curious in that famous cityand told her that if
she would like to see the duke's army she would take her where
she might have a full view of it.
And you will see a countryman of yours,said the widow. "His
name is Count Rousillonwho has done worthy service in the
duke's wars." Helena wanted no second invitationwhen she found
Bertram was to make part of the show. She accompanied her
hostess; and a sad and mournful pleasure it was to her to look
once more upon her dear husband's face.
Is he not a handsome man?said the widow.
I like him well,replied Helenawith great truth.
All the way they walked the talkative widow's discourse was all
of Bertram. She told Helena the story of Bertram's marriageand
how he had deserted the poor lady his wife and entered into the
duke's army to avoid living with her. To this account of her own
misfortunes Helena patiently listenedand when it was ended the
history of Bertram was not yet donefor then the widow began
another taleevery word of which sank deep into the mind of
Helena; for the story she now told was of Bertram's love for her
Though Bertram did not like the marriage forced on him by the
kingit seems he was not insensible to lovefor since he had
been stationed with the army at Florence he had fallen in love
with Dianaa fair young gentlewomanthe daughter of this widow
who was Helena's hostess; and every nightwith music of all
sortsand songs composed in praise of Diana's beautyhe would
come under her window and solicit her love; and all his suit to
her was that she would permit him to visit her by stealth after
the family were retired to rest. But Diana would by no means be
persuaded to grant this improper requestnor give any
encouragement to his suitknowing him to be a married man; for
Diana had been brought up under the counsels of a prudent mother
whothough she was now in reduced circumstanceswas well born
and descended from the noble family of the Capulets.
All this the good lady related to Helenahighly praising the
virtuous principles of her discreet daughterwhich she said were
entirely owing to the excellent education and good advice she had
given her; and she further said that Bertram had been
particularly importunate with Diana to admit him to the visit he
so much desired that nightbecause he was going to leave
Florence early the next morning.
Though it grieved Helena to hear of Bertram's love for the
widow's daughteryet from this story the ardent mind of Helena
conceived a project (nothing discouraged at the ill success of
her former one) to recover her truant lord. She disclosed to the
widow that she was Helenathe deserted wife of Bertramand
requested that her kind hostess and her daughter would suffer
this visit from Bertram to take placeand allow her to pass
herself upon Bertram for Dianatelling them her chief motive for
desiring to have this secret meeting with her husband was to get
a ring from himwhichhe had saidif ever she was in
possession of he would acknowledge her as his wife.
The widow and her daughter promised to assist her in this affair
partly moved by pity for this unhappyforsaken wife and partly
won over to her interest by the promises of reward which Helena
made themgiving them a purse of money in earnest of her future
favor. In the course of that day Helena caused information to be
sent to Bertram that she was deadhoping thatwhen he thought
himself free to make a second choice by the news of her deathhe
would offer marriage to her in her feigned character of Diana.
And if she could obtain the ring and this promisetooshe
doubted not she should make some future good come of it.
In the eveningafter it was darkBertram was admitted into
Diana's chamberand Helena was there ready to receive him. The
flattering compliments and love discourse he addressed to Helena
were precious sounds to her though she knew they were meant for
Diana; and Bertram was so well pleased with her that he made her
a solemn promise to be her husbandand to love her forever;
which she hoped would be prophetic of a real affectionwhen he
should know it was his own wifethe despised Helenawhose
conversation had so delighted him.
Bertram never knew how sensible a lady Helena waselse perhaps
he would not have been so regardless of her; and seeing her every
dayhe had entirely over looked her beauty; a face we are
accustomed to see constantly losing the effect which is caused by
the first sight either of beauty or of plainness; and of her
understanding it was impossible he should judgebecause she felt
such reverencemixed with her love for himthat she was always
silent in his presence. But now that her future fateand the
happy ending of all her love-projectsseemed to depend on her
leaving a favorable impression on the mind of Bertram from this
night's interviewshe exerted all her wit to please him; and the
simple graces of her lively conversation and the endearing
sweetness of her manners so charmed Bertram that be vowed she
should be his wife. Helena begged the ring from off his finger as
a token of his regardand he gave it to her; and in return for
this ringwhich it was of such importance to her to possessshe
gave him another ringwhich was one the king had made her a
present of. Before it was light in the morning she sent Bertram
away; and he immediately set out on his journey toward his
Helena prevailed on the widow and Diana to accompany her to
Paristheir further assistance being necessary to the full
accomplishment of the plan she had formed. When they arrived
therethey found the king was gone upon a visit to the Countess
of Rousillonand Helena followed the king with all the speed she
The king was still in perfect healthand his gratitude to her
who had been the means of his recovery was so lively in his mind
that the moment he saw the Countess of Rousillon he began to talk
of Helenacalling her a precious jewel that was lost by the
folly of her son; but seeing the subject distressed the countess
who sincerely lamented the death of Helenahe said:
My good lady, I have forgiven and forgotten all.
But the good-natured old Lafeuwho was presentand could not
bear that the memory of his favorite Helena should be so lightly
passed oversaidThis I must say, the young lord did great
offense to his Majesty, his mother, and his lady; but to himself
he did the greatest wrong of all, for he has lost a wife whose
beauty astonished all eyes, whose words took all ears captive,
whose deep perfection made all hearts wish to serve her.
The king said: "Praising what is lost makes the remembrance dear.
Well--call him hither"; meaning Bertramwho now presented
himself before the kingand on his expressing deep sorrow for
the injuries he had done to Helena the kingfor his dead
father's and his admirable mother's sakepardoned him and
restored him once more to his favor. But the gracious countenance
of the king was soon changed toward himfor he perceived that
Bertram wore the very ring upon his finger which he had given to
Helena; and he well remembered that Helena had called all the
saints in heaven to witness she would never part with that ring
unless she sent it to the king himself upon some great disaster
befalling her; and Bertramon the king's questioning him how he
came by the ringtold an improbable story of a lady throwing it
to him out of a windowand denied ever having seen Helena since
the day of their marriage. The kingknowing Bertram's dislike to
his wifefeared he had destroyed herand he ordered his guards
to seize Bertramsaying:
I am wrapt in dismal thinking, for I fear the life of Helena was
At this moment Diana and her mother entered and presented a
petition to the kingwherein they begged his Majesty to exert
his royal power to compel Bertram to marry Dianahe having made
her a solemn promise of marriage. Bertramfearing the king's
angerdenied he had made any such promise; and then Diana
produced the ring (which Helena had put into her hands) to
confirm the truth of her words; and she said that she had given
Bertram the ring he then worein exchange for thatat the time
he vowed to marry her. On hearing this the king ordered the
guards to seize her also; andher account of the ring differing
from Bertram'sthe king's suspicions were confirmedand he said
if they did not confess how they came by this ring of Helena's
they should be both put to death. Diana requested her mother
might be permitted to fetch the jeweler of whom she bought the
ringwhichbeing grantedthe widow went outand presently
returnedleading in Helena herself.
The good countesswho in silent grief had beheld her son's
dangerand had even dreaded that the suspicion of his having
destroyed his wife might possibly be truefinding her dear
Helenawhom she loved with even a maternal affectionwas still
livingfelt a delight she was hardly able to support; and the
kingscarce believing for joy that it was Helenasaid:
Is this indeed the wife of Bertram that I see?
Helenafeeling herself yet an unacknowledged wiferepliedNo,
my good lord, it is but the shadow of a wife you see; the name
and not the thing.
Bertram cried out: "Bothboth! Oh pardon!"
O my lord,said Helenawhen I personated this fair maid I
found you wondrous kind; and look, here is your letter!reading
to him in a joyful tone those words which she had once repeated
so sorrowfullyWHEN FROM MY FINGER YOU CAN GET THIS RING--This
is done; it was to me you gave the ring. Will you be mine, now
you are doubly won?
Bertram repliedIf you can make it plain that you were the lady
I talked with that night I will love you dearly, ever, ever
This was no difficult taskfor the widow and Diana came with
Helena to prove this fact; and the king was so well pleased with
Diana for the friendly assistance she had rendered the dear lady
he so truly valued for the service she had done him that he
promised her also a noble husbandHelena's history giving him a
hint that it was a suitable reward for kings to bestow upon fair
ladies when they perform notable services.
Thus Helena at last found that her father's legacy was indeed
sanctified by the luckiest stars in heaven; for she was now the
beloved wife of her dear Bertramthe daughter-in-law of her
noble mistressand herself the Countess of Rousillon.
TAMING OF THE SHREW
Katharinethe Shrewwas the eldest daughter of Baptistaa rich
gentleman of Padua. She was a lady of such an ungovernable spirit
and fiery tempersuch a loud-tongued scoldthat she was known
in Padua by no other name than Katharine the Shrew. It seemed
very unlikelyindeed impossiblethat any gentleman would ever
be found who would venture to marry this ladyand therefore
Baptista was much blamed for deferring his consent to many
excellent offers that were made to her gentle sister Bianca
putting off all Bianca's suitors with this excusethat when the
eldest sister was fairly off his bands they should have free
leave to address young Bianca.
It happenedhoweverthat a gentlemannamed Petruchiocame to
Padua purposely to look out for a wifewhonothing discouraged
by these reports of Katharine's temperand hearing she was rich
and handsomeresolved upon marrying this famous termagantand
taming her into a meek and manageable wife. And truly none was so
fit to set about this herculean labor as Petruchiowhose spirit
was as high as Katharine'sand he was a witty and most
happy-tempered humoristand withal so wiseand of such a true
judgmentthat he well knew how to feign a passionate and furious
deportment when his spirits were so calm that himself could have
laughed merrily at his own angry feigningfor his natural temper
was careless and easy; the boisterous airs he assumed when he
became the husband of Katharine being but in sportormore
properly speakingaffected by his excellent discernmentas the
only means to overcomein her own waythe passionate ways of
the furious Katharine.
A-courtingthenPetruchio went to Katharine the Shrew; and
first of all he applied to Baptistaher fatherfor leave to woo
his GENTLE DAUGHTER Katharineas Petruchio called hersaying
archlythathaving heard of her bashful modesty and mild
behaviorhe had come from Verona to solicit her love. Her
fatherthough he wished her marriedwas forced to confess
Katharine would ill answer this characterit being soon apparent
of what manner of gentleness she was composedfor her
music-master rushed into the room to complain that the gentle
Katharinehis pupilhad broken his head with her lute for
presuming to find fault with her performance; whichwhen
Petruchio heardhe said:
It is a brave wench. I love her more than ever, and long to have
some chat with her.And hurrying the old gentleman for a
positive answerhe said: "My business is in hasteSignor
Baptista. I cannot come every day to woo. You knew my father. He
is deadand has left me heir to all his lands and goods. Then
tell meif I get your daughter's lovewhat dowry you will give
Baptista thought his manner was somewhat blunt for a lover; but
being glad to get Katharine marriedhe answered that he would
give her twenty thousand crowns for her dowryand half his
estate at his death. So this odd match was quickly agreed on and
Baptista went to apprise his shrewish daughter of her lover's
addressesand sent her in to Petruchio to listen to his suit.
In the mean time Petruchio was settling with himself the mode of
courtship be should pursue; and he said: "I will woo her with
some spirit when she comes. If she rails at mewhythen I will
tell her she sings as sweetly as a nightingale; and if she
frownsI will say she looks as clear as roses newly washed with
dew. If she will not speak a wordI will praise the eloquence of
her language; and if she bids me leave herI will give her
thanks as if she bid me stay with her a week."
Now the stately Katharine enteredand Petruchio first addressed
Good morrow, Kate, for that is your name, I hear.
Katharinenot liking this plain salutationsaiddisdainfully
They call me Katharine who do speak to me.
You lie,replied the lover; "for you are called plain Kateand
bonny Kateand sometimes Kate the Shrew; butKateyou are the
prettiest Kate in Christendomand thereforeKatehearing your
mildness praised in every townI am come to woo you for my
A strange courtship they made of it. She in loud and angry terms
showing him how justly she had gained the name of Shrewwhile he
still praised her sweet and courteous wordstill at length
hearing her father cominghe said (intending to make as quick a
wooing as possible):
Sweet Katharine, let us set this idle chat aside, for your
father has consented that you shall be my wife, your dowry is
agreed on, and whether you will or no I will marry you.
And now Baptista enteringPetruchio told him his daughter had
received him kindly and that she had promised to be married the
next Sunday. This Katharine deniedsaying she would rather see
him hanged on Sundayand reproached her father for wishing to
wed her to such a madcap ruffian as Petruchio. Petruchio desired
her father not to regard her angry wordsfor they had agreed she
should seem reluctant before himbut that when they were alone
he had found her very fond and loving; and he said to her:
Give me your hand, Kate. I will go to Venice to buy you apparel
against our wedding-day. Provide the feast, father, bid the
wedding guests. I will be sure to bring rings, fine array, and
rich clothes, that my Katharine may be fine. And kiss me, Kate,
for we will be married on Sunday.
On the Sunday all the wedding guests were assembledbut they
waited long before Petruchio cameand Katharine wept for
vexation to think that Petruchio had only been making a jest of
her. At lasthoweverhe appeared; but he brought none of the
bridal finery be had promised Katharinenor was he dressed
himself like a bridegroombut in strangedisordered attireas
if he meant to make a sport of the serious business he came
about; and his servant and the very horses on which they rode
were in like manner in mean and fantastic fashion habited.
Petruchio could not be persuaded to change his dress. He said
Katharine was to be married to himand not to his clothes. And
finding it was in vain to argue with himto the church they
wenthe still behaving in the same mad wayfor when the priest
asked Petruchio if Katharine should be his wifehe swore so loud
that she shouldthatall amazedthe priest let fall his book
and as he stooped to take it up this mad-brained bridegroom gave
him such a cuff that down fell the priest and his book again. And
all the while they were being married he stamped and swore so
that the high-spirited Katharine trembled and shook with fear.
After the ceremony was overwhile they were yet in the church
he called for wineand drank a loud health to the companyand
threw a sop which was at the bottom of the glass full in the
sexton's facegiving no other reason for this strange act than
that the sexton's beard grew thin and hungerlyand seemed to ask
the sop as he was drinking. Never sure was there such a mad
marriage; but Petruchio did but put this wildness on the better
to succeed in the plot he had formed to tame his shrewish wife.
Baptista had provided a sumptuous marriage feastbut when they
returned from churchPetruchiotaking hold of Katharine
declared his intention of carrying his wife home instantlyand
no remonstrance of his father-in-lawor angry words of the
enraged Katharinecould make him change his purpose. He claimed
a husband's right to dispose of his wife as he pleasedand away
he hurried Katharine off; he seeming so daring and resolute that
no one dared attempt to stop him.
Petruchio mounted his wife upon a miserable horselean and lank
which he had picked out for the purposeandhimself and his
servant no better mountedthey journeyed on through rough and
miry waysand ever when this horse of Katharine's stumbled he
would storm and swear at the poor jaded beastwho could scarce
crawl under his burthenas if he had been the most passionate
At lengthafter a weary journeyduring which Katharine had
heard nothing but the wild ravings of Petruchio at the servant
and the horsesthey arrived at his house. Petruchio welcomed her
kindly to her homebut he resolved she should have neither rest
nor food that night. The tables were spreadand supper soon
served; but Petruchiopretending to find fault with every dish
threw the meat about the floorand ordered the servants to
remove it away; and all this he didas he saidin love for his
Katharinethat she might not eat meat that was not well dressed.
And when Katharineweary and supperlessretired to resthe
found the same fault with the bedthrowing the pillows and
bedclothes about the roomso that she was forced to sit down in
a chairwhereifshe chanced to drop asleepshe was presently
awakened by the loud voice of her husband storming at the
servants for the ill-making of his wife's bridal-bed.
The next day Petruchio pursued the same coursestill speaking
kind words to Katharinebutwhen she attempted to eatfinding
fault with everything that was set before herthrowing the
breakfast on the floor as he had done the supper; and Katharine
the haughty Katharinewas fain to beg the servants would bring
her secretly a morsel of food; but theybeing instructed by
Petruchioreplied they dared not give her anything unknown to
Ah,said shedid he marry me to famish me? Beggars that come
to my father's door have food given them. But I, who never knew
what it was to entreat for anything, am starved for want of food,
giddy for want of sleep, with oaths kept waking, and with
brawling fed; and that which vexes me more than all, he does it
under the name of perfect love, pretending that if I sleep or
eat, it were present death to me.
Here the soliloquy was interrupted by the entrance of Petruchio.
Henot meaning she should be quite starvedhad brought her a
small portion of meatand he said to her:
How fares my sweet Kate? Here, love, you see how diligent I am.
I have dressed your meat myself. I am sure this kindness merits
thanks. What, not a word? Nay, then you love not the meat, and
all the pains I have taken is to no purpose.He then ordered the
servant to take the dish away.
Extreme hungerwhich had abated the pride of Katharinemade her
saythough angered to the heartI pray you let it stand.
But this was not all Petruchio intended to bring her toand he
repliedThe poorest service is repaid with thanks, and so shall
mine before you touch the meat.
On this Katharine brought out a reluctant "I thank yousir."
And now he suffered her to make a slender mealsaying: "Much
good may it do your gentle heartKate. Eat apace! And nowmy
honey lovewe will return to your father's house and revel it as
bravely as the bestwith silken coats and caps and golden rings
with ruffs and scarfs and fans and double change of finery." And
to make her believe be really intended to give her these gay
thingshe called in a tailor and a haberdasherwho brought some
new clothes he had ordered for herand thengiving her plate to
the servant to take awaybefore she had half satisfied her
What, have you dined?
The haberdasher presented a capsayingHere is the cap your
worship bespoke.On which Petruchio began to storm afresh
saying the cap was molded in a porringer and that it was no
bigger than a cockle or walnut shelldesiring the haberdasher to
take it away and make it bigger.
Katharine saidI will have this; all gentlewomen wear such caps
When you are gentle,replied Petruchioyou shall have one,
too, and not till then.
The meat Katharine had eaten had a little revived her fallen
spiritsand she said: "WhysirI trust I may have leave to
speakand speak I will. I am no childno babe. Your betters
have endured to hear me say my mind; and if you cannotyou had
better stop your ears."
Petruchio would not hear these angry wordsfor he had happily
discovered a better way of managing his wife than keeping up a
jangling argument with her; therefore his answer was:
Why, you say true; it is a paltry cap, and I love you for not
Love me, or love me not,said KatharineI like the cap, and I
will have this cap or none.
You say you wish to see the gown,said Petruchiostill
affecting to misunderstand her.
The tailor then came forward and showed her a fine gown he had
made for her. Petruchiowhose intent was that she should have
neither cap nor gownfound as much fault with that.
Oh, mercy, Heaven!said hewhat stuff is here! What, do you
call this a sleeve? it is like a demi-cannon, carved up and down
like an apple tart.
The tailor saidYou bid me make it according to the fashion of
the times; and Katharine said she never saw a better-fashioned
gown. This was enough for Petruchioand privately desiring these
people might be paid for their goodsand excuses made to them
for the seemingly strange treatment he bestowed upon themhe
with fierce words and furious gestures drove the tailor and the
haberdasher out of the room; and thenturning to Katharinehe
Well, come, my Kate, we will go to your father's even in these
mean garments we now wear.
And then he ordered his horsesaffirming they should reach
Baptista's house by dinner-timefor that it was but seven
o'clock. Now it was not early morningbut the very middle of the
daywhen he spoke this; therefore Katharine ventured to say
though modestlybeing almost overcome by the vehemence of his
I dare assure you, sir, it is two o'clock, and will be
suppertime before we get there.
But Petruchio meant that she should be so completely subdued that
she should assent to everything he said before he carried her to
her father; and thereforeas if he were lord even of the sun and
could command the hourshe said it. should be what time he
pleased to have itbefore beset forward. "For he said,
whatever I say or doyou still are crossing it. I will not go
to-dayand when I goit shall be what o'clock I say it is."
Another day Katharine was forced to practise her newly found
obedienceand not till he had brought her proud spirit to such a
perfect subjection that she dared not remember there was such a
word as contradiction would Petruchio allow her to go to her
father's house; and even while they were upon their journey
thither she was in danger of being turned back againonly
because she happened to hint it was the sun when he affirmed the
moon shone brightly at noonday.
Now, by my mother's son,said beand that is myself, it shall
be the moon, or stars, or what I list, before I journey to your
father's house.He then made as if he were going back again. But
Katharineno longer Katharine the Shrewbut the obedient wife
saidLet us go forward, I pray, now we have come so far, and it
shall be the sun, or moon, or what you please; and if you please
to call it a rush candle henceforth, I vow it shall be so for
This he was resolved to provetherefore he said againI say it
is the moon.
I know it is the moon,replied Katharine.
You lie. It is the blessed sun,said Petruchio.
Then it is the blessed sun,replied Katharine; "but sun it is
not when you say it is not. What you will have it namedeven so
it isand so it ever shall be for Katharine."
Now then he suffered her to proceed on her journey; but further
to try if this yielding humor would lasthe addressed an old
gentleman they met on the road as if he had been a young woman
saying to himGood morrow, gentle mistress; and asked
Katharine if she had ever beheld a fairer gentlewomanpraising
the red and white of the old man's cheeksand comparing his eyes
to two bright stars; and again he addressed himsayingFair,
lovely maid, once more good day to you!and said to his wife
Sweet Kate, embrace her for her beauty's sake.
The now completely vanquished Katharine quickly adopted her
husband's opinionand made her speech in like sort to the old
gentlemansaying to him: "Young budding virginyou are fair and
fresh and sweet. Whither are you goingand where is your
dwelling? Happy are the parents of so fair a child."
Why, how now, Kate,said Petruchio. "I hope you are not mad.
This is a manold and wrinkledfaded and witheredand not a
maidenas you say he is."
On this Katharine saidPardon me, old gentleman; the sun has so
dazzled my eyes that everything I look on seemeth green. Now I
perceive you are a reverend father. I hope you will pardon me for
my sad mistake.
Do, good old grandsire,said Petruchioand tell us which way
you are traveling. We shall be glad of your good company, if you
are going our way.
The old gentleman replied: "Fair sirand youmy merry mistress
your strange encounter has much amazed me. My name is Vincentio
and I am going to visit a son of mine who lives at Padua."
Then Petruchio knew the old gentleman to be the father of
Lucentioa young gentleman who was to be married to Baptista's
younger daughterBiancaand he made Vincentio very happy by
telling him the rich marriage his son was about to make; and they
all journeyed on pleasantly together till they came to Baptista's
housewhere there was a large company assembled to celebrate the
wedding of Bianca and LucentioBaptista having willingly
consented to the marriage of Bianca when he had got Katharine off
When they enteredBaptista welcomed them to the wedding feast
and there was present also another newly married pair.
LucentioBianca's husbandand Hortensiothe other new-married
mancould not forbear sly jestswhich seemed to hint at the
shrewish disposition of Petruchio's wifeand these fond
bridegrooms seemed highly pleased with the mild tempers of the
ladies they had chosenlaughing at Petruchio for his less
fortunate choice. Petruchio took little notice of their jokes
till the ladies were retired after dinnerand then he perceived
Baptista himself joined in the laugh against himfor when
Petruchio affirmed that his wife would prove more obedient than
theirsthe father of Katharine saidNow, in good sadness, son
Petruchio, I fear you have got the veriest shrew of all.
Well,said PetruchioI say no, and therefore, for assurance
that I speak the truth, let us each one send for his wife, and he
whose wife is most obedient to come at first when she is sent for
shall win a wager which we will propose.
To this the other two husbands willingly consentedfor they were
confident that their gentle wives would prove more obedient than
the headstrong Katharineand they proposed a wager of twenty
crowns. But Petruchio merrily said he would lay as much as that
upon his hawk or houndbut twenty times as much upon his wife.
Lucentio and Hortensio raised the wager to a hundred crownsand
Lucentio first sent his servant to desire Bianca would come to
him. But the servant returnedand said:
Sir, my mistress sends you word she is busy and cannot come.
How,said Petruchiodoes she say she is busy and cannot come?
Is that an answer for a wife?
Then they laughed at himand said it would be well if Katharine
did not send him a worse answer. And now it was Hortensio's turn
to send for his wife; and be said to his servantGo, and
entreat my wife to come to me.
Oh ho! entreat her!said Petruchio.
Nay, then, she needs must come.
I am afraid, sir,said Hortensioyour wife will not be
entreated.But presently this civil husband looked a little
blank when the servant returned without his mistress; and he said
How now? Where is my wife?
Sir,said the servantmy mistress says you have some goodly
jest in hand, and therefore she will not come. She bids you come
Worse and worse!said Petruchio. And then he sent his servant
sayingSirrah, go to your mistress and tell her I command her
to come to me.
The company had scarcely time to think she would not obey this
summons when Baptistaall in amazeexclaimed:
Now, by my holidame, here comes Katharine!
And she enteredsaying meekly to PetruchioWhat is your will,
sir, that you send for me?
Where is your sister and Hortensio's wife?said he.
Katharine repliedThey sit conferring by the parlor fire.
Go, fetch them hither!said Petruchio.
Away went Katharine without reply to perform her husband's
Here is a wonder,said Lucentioif you talk of a wonder.
And so it is,said Hortensio. "I marvel what it bodes."
Marry, peace it bodes,said Petruchioand love, and quiet
life, and right supremacy; and, to be short, everything that is
sweet and happy.
Katharine's fatheroverjoyed to see this reformation in his
daughtersaid: "Nowfair befall theeson Petruchio! You have
won the wagerand I will add another twenty thousand crowns to
her dowryas if she were another daughterfor she is changed as
if she had never been."
Nay,said PetruchioI will win the wager better yet, and show
more signs of her new-built virtue and obedience.Katharine now
entering with the two ladieshe continued: "See where she comes
and brings your froward wives as prisoners to her womanly
persuasion. Katharinethat cap of yours does not become you; off
with that baubleand throw it underfoot."
Katharine instantly took off her cap and threw it down.
Lord!said Hortensio's wifemay I never have a cause to sigh
till I am brought to such a silly pass!
And BiancashetoosaidFie! What foolish duty call you
On this Bianca's husband said to herI wish your duty were as
foolish, too! The wisdom of your duty, fair Bianca, has cost me a
hundred crowns since dinner-time.
The more fool you,said Biancafor laying on my duty.
Katharine,said PetruchioI charge you tell these headstrong
women what duty they owe their lords and husbands.
And to the wonder of all presentthe reformed shrewish lady
spoke as eloquently in praise of the wifelike duty of obedience
as she had practised it implicitly in a ready submission to
Petruchio's will. And Katharine once more became famous in Padua
not as heretofore as Katharine the Shrewbut as Katharine the
most obedient and duteous wife in Padua.
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS
The states of Syracuse and Ephesus being at variancethere was a
cruel law made at Ephesusordaining that if any merchant of
Syracuse was seen in the city of Ephesus he was to be put to
deathunless he could pay a thousand marks for the ransom of his
Aegeonan old merchant of Syracusewas discovered in the
streets of Ephesusand brought before the dukeeither to pay
this heavy fine or receive sentence of death.
Aegeon had no money to pay the fineand the dukebefore he
pronounced the sentence of death upon himdesired him to relate
the history of his lifeand to tell for what cause he had
ventured to come to the city of Ephesuswhich it was death for
any Syracusan merchant to enter.
Aegeon said that he did not fear to diefor sorrow had made him
weary of his lifebut that a heavier task could not have been
imposed upon him than to relate the events of his unfortunate
life. He then began his own historyin the following words:
I was born at Syracuse, and brought up to the profession of a
merchant. I married a lady, with whom I lived very happily, but,
being obliged to go to Epidamnum, I was detained there by my
business six months, and then, finding I should be obliged to
stay some time longer, I sent for my wife, who, as soon as she
arrived, was brought to bed of two sons, and what was very
strange, they were both so exactly alike that it was impossible
to distinguish the one from the other. At the same time that my
wife was brought to bed of these twin boys a poor woman in the
inn where my wife lodged was brought to bed of two sons, and
these twins were as much like each other as my two sons were. The
parents of these children being exceeding poor, I bought the two
boys and brought them up to attend upon my sons.
My sons were very fine childrenand my wife was not a little
proud of two such boys; and she daily wishing to return homeI
unwillingly agreedand in an evil hour we got on shipboardfor
we had not sailed above a league from Epidamnum before a dreadful
storm arosewhich continued with such violence that the sailors
seeing no chance of saving the shipcrowded into the boat to
save their own livesleaving us alone in the shipwhich we
every moment expected would be destroyed by the fury of the
The incessant weeping of my wife and the piteous complaints of
the pretty babes, who, not knowing what to fear, wept for
fashion, because they saw their mother weep, filled me with
terror for them, though I did not for myself fear death; and all
my thoughts were bent to contrive means for their safety. I tied
my youngest son to the end of a small spire mast, such as
seafaring men provide against storms; at the other end I bound
the youngest of the twin slaves, and at the same time I directed
my wife how to fasten the other children in like manner to
another mast. She thus having the care of the eldest two
children, and I of the younger two, we bound ourselves separately
to these masts with the children; and but for this contrivance we
had all been lost, for the ship split on a mighty rock and was
dashed in pieces; and we, clinging to these slender masts, were
supported above the water, where I, having the care of two
children, was unable to assist my wife, who, with the other
children, was soon separated from me; but while they were yet in
my sight they were taken up by a boat of fishermen, from Corinth
(as I supposed), and, seeing them in safety, I had no care but to
struggle with the wild sea-waves, to preserve my dear son and the
youngest slave. At length we, in our turn, were taken up by a
ship, and the sailors, knowing me, gave us kind welcome and
assistance and landed us in safety at Syracuse; but from that sad
hour I have never known what became of my wife and eldest child.
My youngest sonand now my only carewhen he was eighteen
years of agebegan to be inquisitive after his mother and his
brotherand often importuned me that he might take his
attendantthe young slavewho had also lost his brotherand
go in search of them. At length I unwillingly gave consentfor
though I anxiously desired to hear tidings of my wife and eldest
sonyet in sending my younger one to find them I hazarded the
loss of him also. It is now seven years since my son left me;
five years have I passed in traveling through the world in search
of him. I have been in farthest Greeceand through the bounds of
Asiaandcoasting homewardI landed here in Ephesusbeing
unwilling to leave any place unsought that harbors men; but this
day must end the story of my lifeand happy should I think
myself in my death if I were assured my wife and sons were
Here the hapless Aegeon ended the account of his misfortunes; and
the dukepitying this unfortunate father who had brought upon
himself this great peril by his love for his lost sonsaid if it
were not against the lawswhich his oath and dignity did not
permit him to alterhe would freely pardon him; yetinstead of
dooming him to instant deathas the strict letter of the law
requiredhe would give him that day to try if he could beg or
borrow the money to pay the fine.
This day of grace did seem no great favor to Aegeonfornot
knowing any man in Ephesusthere seemed to him but little chance
that any stranger would lend or give him a thousand marks to pay
the fine; andhelpless and hopeless of any reliefhe retired
from the presence of the duke in the custody of a jailer.
Aegeon supposed he knew no person in Ephesus; but at the time he
was in danger of losing his life through the careful search he
was making after his youngest son that sonand his eldest son
alsowere in the city of Ephesus.
Aegeon's sonsbesides being exactly alike in face and person
were both named alikebeing both called Antipholusand the two
twin slaves were also both named Dromio. Aegeon's youngest son
Antipholus of Syracusehe whom the old man had come to Ephesus
to seekhappened to arrive at Ephesus with his slave Dromio that
very same day that Aegeon did; and he being also a merchant of
Syracusehe would have been in the same danger that his father
wasbut by good fortune he met a friend who told him the peril
an old merchant of Syracuse was inand advised him to pass for a
merchant of Epidamnum. This Antipholus agreed to doand he was
sorry to hear one of his own countrymen was in this dangerbut
he little thought this old merchant was his own father.
The eldest son of Aegeon (who must be called Antipholus of
Ephesusto distinguish him from his brother Antipholus of
Syracuse) had lived at Ephesus twenty yearsandbeing a rich
manwas well able to have paid the money for the ransom of his
father's life; but Antipholus knew nothing of his fatherbeing
so young when he was taken out of the sea with his mother by the
fishermen that he only remembered he had been so preserved; but
he had no recollection of either his father or his motherthe
fishermen who took up this Antipholus and his mother and the
young slave Dromio having carried the two children away from her
(to the great grief of that unhappy lady)intending to sell
Antipholus and Dromio were sold by them to Duke Menaphona
famous warriorwho was uncle to the Duke of Ephesusand he
carried the boys to Ephesus when he went to visit the dukehis
The Duke of Ephesustaking a liking to young Antipholuswhen he
grew up made him an officer in his armyin which he
distinguished himself by his great bravery in the warswhere he
saved the life of his patronthe dukewho rewarded his merit by
marrying him to Adrianaa rich lady of Ephesuswith whom he was
living (his slave Dromio still attending him) at the time his
father came there.
Antipholus of Syracusewhen he parted with his friendwho
advised him to say he came from Epidamnumgave his slave Dromio
some money to carry to the inn where he intended to dineand in
the mean time he said he would walk about and view the city and
observe the manners of the people.
Dromio was a pleasant fellowand when Antipholus was dull and
melancholy he used to divert himself with the odd humors and
merry jests of his slaveso that the freedoms of speech he
allowed in Dromio were greater than is usual between masters and
When Antipholus of Syracuse had sent Dromio awayhe stood awhile
thinking over his solitary wanderings in search of his mother and
his brotherof whom in no place where he landed could he hear
the least tidings; and he said sorrowfully to himselfI am like
a drop of water in the ocean. which, seeking to find its fellow
drop, loses itself in the wide sea, So I, unhappily, to find a
mother and a brother, do lose myself.
While he was thus meditating on his weary travelswhich had
hitherto been so uselessDromio (as he thought) returned.
Antipholuswondering that he came back so soonasked him where
he had left the money. Now it was not his own Dromiobut the
twin-brother that lived with Antipholus of Ephesusthat he spoke
to. The two Dromios and the two Antipholuses were still as much
alike as Aegeon had said they were in their infancy; therefore no
wonder Antipholus thought it was his own slave returnedand
asked him why he came back so soon.
Dromio replied: "My mistress sent me to bid you come to dinner.
The capon burnsand the pig falls from the spitand the meat
will be all cold if you do not come home."
These jests are out of season,said Antipholus. "Where did you
leave the money?"
Dromio still answering that his mistress had sent him to fetch
Antipholus to dinnerWhat mistress?said Antipholus.
Why, your worship's wife, sir!replied Dromio.
Antipholus having no wifehe was very angry with Dromioand
said: "Because I familiarly sometimes chat with youyou presume
to jest with me in this free manner. I am not in a sportive humor
now. Where is the money? We being strangers herehow dare you
trust so great a charge from your own custody?"
Dromiohearing his masteras he thought himtalk of their
being strangerssupposing Antipholus was jestingreplied
merrily: "I pray yousirjest as you sit at dinner. I had no
charge but to fetch you home to dine with my mistress and her
Now Antipholus lost all patienceand beat Dromiowho ran home
and told his mistress that his master had refused to come to
dinner and said that he had no wife.
Adrianathe wife of Antipholus of Ephesuswas very angry when
she heard that her husband said he had no wife; for she was of a
jealous temperand she said her husband meant that he loved
another lady better than herself; and she began to fretand say
unkind words of jealousy and reproach of her husband; and her
sister Lucianawho lived with hertried in vain to persuade her
out of her groundless suspicions.
Antipholus of Syracuse went to the innand found Dromio with the
money in safety thereandseeing his own Dromiohe was going
again to chide him for his free jestswhen Adriana came up to
himandnot doubting but it was her husband she sawshe began
to reproach him for looking strange upon her (as well he might
never having seen this angry lady before); and then she told him
how well he loved her before they were marriedand that now he
loved some other lady instead of her.
How comes it now, my husband,said sheoh, how comes it that
I have lost your love?
Plead you to me, fair dame?said the astonished Antipholus.
It was in vain he told her he was not her husband and that he had
been in Ephesus but two hours. She insisted on his going home
with herand Antipholus at lastbeing unable to get awaywent
with her to his brother's houseand dined with Adriana and her
sisterthe one calling him husband and the other brotherhe
all amazedthinking he must have been married to her in his
sleepor that he was sleeping now. And Dromiowho followed
themwas no less surprisedfor the cook-maidwho was his
brother's wifealso claimed him for her husband.
While Antipholus of Syracuse was dining with his brother's wife
his brotherthe real husbandreturned home to dinner with his
slave Dromio; but the servants would not open the doorbecause
their mistress had ordered them not to admit any company; and
when they repeatedly knockedand said they were Antipholus and
Dromiothe maids laughed at themand said that Antipholus was
at dinner with their mistressand Dromio was in the kitchenand
though they almost knocked the door downthey could not gain
admittanceand at last Antipholus went away very angryand
strangely surprised athearing a gentleman was dining with his
When Antipholus of Syracuse had finished his dinnerhe was so
perplexed at the lady's still persisting in calling him husband
and at hearing that Dromio had also been claimed by the cookmaid
that he left the house as soon as he could find any pretense to
get away; for though he was very much pleased with Lucianathe
sisteryet the jealous-tempered Adriana he disliked very much
nor was Dromio at all better satisfied with his fair wife in the
kitchen; therefore both master and man were glad to get away from
their new wives as fast as they could.
The moment Antipholus of Syracuse had left the house he was met
by a goldsmithwhomistaking himas Adriana had donefor
Antipholus of Ephesusgave him a gold chaincalling him by his
name; and when Antipholus would have refused the chainsaying it
did not belong to himthe goldsmith replied he made it by his
own ordersand went awayleaving the chain in the hands of
Antipholuswho ordered his man Dromio to get his things on board
a shipnot choosing to stay in a place any longer where he met
with such strange adventures that he surely thought himself
The goldsmith who had given the chain to the wrong Antipholus was
arrested immediately after for a sum of money he owed; and
Antipholusthe married brotherto whom the goldsmith thought he
had given the chainhappened to come to the place where the
officer was arresting the goldsmithwhowhen he saw Antipholus
asked him to pay for the gold chain he had just delivered to him
the price amounting to nearly the same sum as that for which he
had been arrested. Antipholus denying the having received the
chainand the goldsmith persisting to declare that he had but a
few minutes before given it to himthey disputed this matter a
long timeboth thinking they were right; for Antipholus knew the
goldsmith never gave him the chainand so like were the two
brothersthe goldsmith was as certain he had delivered the chain
into his handstill at last the officer took the goldsmith away
to prison for the debt he owedand at the same time the
goldsmith made the officer arrest Antipholus for the price of the
chain; so that at the conclusion of their dispute Antipholus and
the merchant were both taken away to prison together.
As Antipholus was going to prisonhe met Dromio of Syracusehis
brother's slaveandmistaking him for his ownhe ordered him
to go to Adriana his wifeand tell her to send the money for
which he was arrested. Dromiowondering that his master should
send him back to the strange house where he dinedand from which
he had just before been in such haste to departdid not dare to
replythough he came to tell his master the ship was ready to
sailfor he saw Antipholus was in no humor to be jested with.
Therefore he went awaygrumbling within himself that he must
return to Adriana's houseWhere,said heDowsabel claims me
for a husband. But I must go, for servants must obey their
Adriana gave him the moneyand as Dromio was returning he met
Antipholus of Syracusewho was still in amaze at the surprising
adventures he met withforhis brother being well known in
Ephesusthere was hardly a man he met in the streets but saluted
him as an old acquaintance. Some offered him money which they
said was owing to himsome invited him to come and see themand
some gave him thanks for kindnesses they said he had done them
all mistaking him for his brother. A tailor showed him some silks
he had bought for himand insisted upon taking measure of him
for some clothes.
Antipholus began to think he was among a nation of sorcerers and
witchesand Dromio did not at all relieve his master from his
bewildered thoughts by asking him how he got free from the
officer who was carrying him to prisonand giving him the purse
of gold which Adriana had sent to pay the debt with. This talk of
Dromio's of the arrest and of a prisonand of the money he had
brought from Adrianaperfectly confounded Antipholusand he
saidThis fellow Dromio is certainly distracted, and we wander
here in illusions,andquite terrified at his own confused
thoughtshe cried outSome blessed power deliver us from this
And now another stranger came up to himand she was a ladyand
shetoocalled him Antipholusand told him he had dined with
her that dayand asked him for a gold chain which she said he
had promised to give her. Antipholus now lost all patienceand
calling her a sorceresshe denied that he had ever promised her
a chainor dined with heror had even seen her face before that
moment. The lady persisted in affirming he had dined with her and
had promised her a chainwhich Antipholus still denyingshe
further said that she had given him a valuable ringand if he
would not give her the gold chainshe insisted upon having her
own ring again. On this Antipholus became quite franticand
again calling her sorceress and witchand denying all knowledge
of her or her ringran away from herleaving her astonished at
his words and his wild looksfor nothing to her appeared more
certain than that he had dined with herand that she had given
him a ring in consequence of his promising to make her a present
of a gold chain. But this lady had fallen into the same mistake
the others had donefor she had taken him for his brother; the
married Antipholus had done all the things she taxed this
When the married Antipholus was denied entrance into his house
(those within supposing him to be already there) be had gone away
very angrybelieving it to be one of his wife's jealous freaks
to which she was very subjectandremembering that she had
often falsely accused him of visiting other ladiesheto be
revenged on her for shutting him out of his own housedetermined
to go and dine with this ladyand she receiving him with great
civilityand his wife having so highly offended himAntipholus
promised to give her a gold chain which he had intended as a
present for his wife; it was the same chain which the goldsmith
by mistake had given to his brother. The lady liked so well the
thoughts of having a fine gold chain that she gave the married
Antipholus a ring; which whenas she supposed (taking his
brother for him)he deniedand said he did not know herand
left her in such a wild passionshe began to think he was
certainly out of his senses; and presently she resolved to go and
tell Adriana that her husband was mad. And while she was telling
it to Adriana he cameattended by the jailer (who allowed him to
come home to get the money to pay the debt)for the purse of
money which Adriana had sent by Dromio and he had delivered to
the other Antipholus.
Adriana believed the story the lady told her of her husband's
madness must be true when he reproached her for shutting him out
of his own house; and remembering how he had protested all
dinner-time that he was not her husband and had never been in
Ephesus till that dayshe had no doubt that he was mad; she
therefore paid the jailer the moneyandhaving discharged him
she ordered her servants to bind her husband with ropesand had
him conveyed into a dark roomand sent for a doctor to come and
cure him of his madnessAntipholus all the while hotly
exclaiming against this false accusationwhich the exact
likeness he bore to his brother had brought upon him. But his
rage only the more confirmed them in the belief that he was mad;
and Dromio persisting in the same storythey bound him also and
took him away along with his master.
Soon after Adriana had put her husband into confinement a servant
came to tell her that Antipholus and Dromio must have broken
loose from their keepersfor that they were both walking at
liberty in the next street. On hearing this Adriana ran out to
fetch him hometaking some people with her to secure her husband
again; and her sister went along with her. When they came to the
gates of a convent in their neighborhoodthere they saw
Antipholus and Dromioas they thoughtbeing again deceived by
the likeness of the twin brothers.
Antipholus of Syracuse was still beset with the perplexities this
likeness had brought upon him. The chain which the goldsmith had
given him was about his neckand the goldsmith was reproaching
him for denying that he had it and refusing to pay for itand
Antipholus was protesting that the goldsmith freely gave him the
chain in the morningand that from that hour he had never seen
the goldsmith again.
And now Adriana came up to him and claimed him as her lunatic
husband who had escaped from his keepersand the men she brought
with her were going to lay violent hands on Antipholus and
Dromio; but they ran into the conventand Antipholus begged the
abbess to give him shelter in her house.
And now came out the lady abbess herself to inquire into the
cause of this disturbance. She was a grave and venerable lady
and wise to judge of what she sawand she would not too hastily
give up the man who had sought protection in her house; so she
strictly questioned the wife about the story she told of her
husband's madnessand she said:
What is the cause of this sudden distemper of your husband's?
Has he lost his wealth at sea? Or is it the death of some dear
friend that has disturbed his mind?
Adriana replied that no such things as these had been the cause.
Perhaps,said the abbesshe has fixed his affections on some
other lady than you, his wife, and that has driven him to this
Adriana said she had long thought the love of some other lady was
the cause of his frequent absences from home.
Now it was not his love for anotherbut the teasing jealousy of
his wife's temperthat often obliged Antipholus to leave his
home; and the abbess (suspecting this from the vehemence of
Adriana's manner)to learn the truthsaid:
You should have reprehended him for this.
Why, so I did,replied Adriana.
Aye,said the abbessbut perhaps not enough.
Adrianawilling to convince the abbess that she had said enough
to Antipholus on this subjectreplied: "It was the constant
subject of our conversation; in bed I would not let him sleep for
speaking of it. At table I would not let him eat for speaking of
it. When I was alone with him I talked of nothing else; and in
company I gave him frequent hints of it. Still all my talk was
how vile and bad it was in him to love any lady better than me."
The lady abbesshaving drawn this full confession from the
jealous Adriananow said: "And therefore comes it that your
husband is mad. The venomous clamor of a jealous woman is a more
deadly poison than a mad dog's tooth. It seems his sleep was
hindered by your railing; no wonder that his head is light; and
his meat was sauced with your upbraidings; unquiet meals make ill
digestionsand that has thrown him into this fever. You say his
sports were disturbed by your brawls; being debarred from the
enjoyment of society and recreationwhat could ensue but dull
melancholy and comfortless despair? The consequence isthen
that your jealous fits have made your husband mad."
Luciana would have excused her sistersaying she always
reprehended her husband mildly; and she said to her sisterWhy
do you hear these rebukes without answering them?
But the abbess had made her so plainly perceive her fault that
she could only answerShe has betrayed me to my own reproof.
Adrianathough ashamed of her own conductstill insisted on
having her husband delivered up to her; but the abbess would
suffer no person to enter her housenor would she deliver up
this unhappy man to the care of the jealous wifedetermining
herself to use gentle means for his recoveryand she retired
into her house againand ordered her gates to be shut against
During the course of this eventful dayin which so many errors
had happened from the likeness the twin brothers bore to each
otherold Aegeon's day of grace was passing awayit being now
near sunset; and at sunset he was doomed to die if he could not
pay the money.
The place of his execution was near this conventand here he
arrived just as the abbess retired into the convent; the duke
attending in personthatif any offered to pay the moneyhe
might be present to pardon him.
Adriana stopped this melancholy processionand cried out to the
duke for justicetelling him that the abbess had refused to
deliver up her lunatic husband to her care. While she was
speakingher real husband and his servantDromiowho had got
loosecame before the duke to demand justicecomplaining that
his wife had confined him on a false charge of lunacyand
telling in what manner he had broken his bands and eluded the
vigilance of his keepers. Adriana was strangely surprised to see
her husband when she thought he had been within the convent.
Aegeonseeing his sonconcluded this was the son who had left
him to go in search of his mother and his brotherand he felt
secure that this dear son would readily pay the money demanded
for his ransom. He therefore spoke to Antipholus in words of
fatherly affectionwith joyful hope that he should now be
released. Butto the utter astonishment of Aegeonhis son
denied all knowledge of himas well he mightfor this
Antipholus had never seen his father since they were separated in
the storm in his infancy. But while the poor old Aegeon was in
vain endeavoring to make his son acknowledge himthinking surely
that either his griefs and the anxieties he had suffered had so
strangely altered him that his son did not know him or else that
he was ashamed to acknowledge his father in his misery--in the
midst of this perplexity the lady abbess and the other Antipholus
and Dromio came outand the wondering Adriana saw two husbands
and two Dromios standing before her.
And now these riddling errorswhich had so perplexed them all
were clearly made out. When the duke saw the two Antipholuses and
the two Dromios both so exactly alikehe at once conjectured
aright of these seeming mysteriesfor he remembered the story
Aegeon had told him in the morning; and he said these men must be
the two sons of Aegeon and their twin slaves.
But now an unlooked-for joy indeed completed the history of
Aegeon; and the tale he had in the morning told in sorrowand
under sentence of deathbefore the setting sun went down was
brought to a happy conclusionfor the venerable lady abbess made
herself known to be the long-lost wife of Aegeon and the fond
mother of the two Antipholuses.
When the fishermen took the eldest Antipholus and Dromio away
from hershe entered a nunneryand by her wise and virtuous
conduct she was at length made lady abbess of this convent and in
discharging the rites of hospitality to an unhappy stranger she
had unknowingly protected her own son.
Joyful congratulations and affectionate greetings between these
long-separated parents and their children made them for a while
forget that Aegeon was yet under sentence of death. When they
were become a little calmAntipholus of Ephesus offered the duke
the ransom money for his father's life; but the duke freely
pardoned Aegeonand would not take the money. And the duke went
with the abbess and her newly found husband and children into the
conventto hear this happy family discourse at leisure of the
blessed ending of their adverse fortunes. And the two Dromios'
humble joy must not be forgotten; they had their congratulations
and greetingstooand each Dromio pleasantly complimented his
brother on his good looksbeing well pleased to see his own
person (as in a glass) show so handsome in his brother.
Adriana had so well profited by the good counsel of her
mother-in-law that she never after cherished unjust suspicions
nor was jealous of her husband.
Antipholus of Syracuse married the fair Lucianathe sister of
his brother's wife; and the good old Aegeonwith his wife and
sonslived at Ephesus many years. Nor did the unraveling of
these perplexities so entirely remove every ground of mistake for
the future but that sometimesto remind them of adventures past
comical blunders would happenand the one Antipholusand the
one Dromiobe mistaken for the othermaking altogether a
pleasant and diverting Comedy of Errors.
MEASURE FOR MEASURE
In the city of Vienna there once reigned a duke of such a mild
and gentle temper that he suffered his subjects to neglect the
laws with impunity; and there was in particular one law the
existence of which was almost forgottenthe duke never having
put it in force during his whole reign. This was a law dooming
any man to the punishment of death who should live with a woman
that was not his wife; and this lawthrough the lenity of the
dukebeing utterly disregardedthe holy institution of marriage
became neglectedand complaints were every day made to the duke
by the parents of the young ladies in Vienna that their daughters
had been seduced from their protection and were living as the
companions of single men.
The good duke perceived with sorrow this growing evil among his
subjects; but he thought that a sudden change in himself from the
indulgence he had hitherto shownto the strict severity
requisite to check this abusewould make his people (who had
hitherto loved him) consider him as a tyrant; therefore he
determined to absent himself awhile from his dukedom and depute
another to the full exercise of his powerthat the law against
these dishonorable lovers might be put in effectwithout giving
offense by an unusual severity in his own person.
Angeloa man who bore the reputation of a saint in Vienna for
his strict and rigid lifewas chosen by the duke as a fit person
to undertake this important charge; and when the duke imparted
his design to Lord Escalushis chief counselorEscalus said:
If any man in Vienna be of worth to undergo such ample grace and
honor, it is Lord Angelo.
And now the duke departed from Vienna under pretense of making a
journey into Polandleaving Angelo to act as the lord deputy in
his absence; but the duke's absence was only a feigned onefor
he privately returned to Viennahabited like a friarwith the
intent to watch unseen the conduct of the saintly-seeming Angelo.
It happened just about the time that Angelo was invested with his
new dignity that a gentlemanwhose name was Claudiohad seduced
a young lady from her parents; and for this offenseby command
of the new lord deputyClaudio was taken up and committed to
prisonand by virtue of the old law which had been so long
neglected Angelo sentenced Claudio to be beheaded. Great interest
was made for the pardon of young Claudioand the good old Lord
Escalus himself interceded for him.
Alas!said hethis gentleman whom I would save had an
honorable father, for whose sake I pray you pardon the young
But Angelo replied: "We must not make a scarecrow of the law
setting it up to frighten birds of preytill customfinding it
harmlessmakes it their perch and not their terror. Sirhe must
Luciothe friend of Claudiovisited him in the prisonand
Claudio said to him: "I pray youLuciodo me this kind service.
Go to my sister Isabelwho this day proposes to enter the
convent of Saint Clare; acquaint her with the danger of my state;
implore her that she make friends with the strict deputy; bid her
go herself to Angelo. I have great hopes in that; for she can
discourse with prosperous artand well she can persuade;
besidesthere is a speechless dialect in youthful sorrow such as
Isabelthe sister of Claudiohadas he saidthat day entered
upon her novitiate in the conventand it was her intentafter
passing through her probation as a noviceto take the veiland
she was inquiring of a nun concerning the rules of the convent
when they heard the voice of Luciowhoas he entered that
religious housesaidPeace be in this place!
Who is it that speaks?said Isabel.
It is a man's voice,replied the nun. "Gentle Isabelgo to
himand learn his business; you mayI may not. When you have
taken the veilyou must not speak with men but in the presence
of the prioress; then if you speak you must not show your face
or if you show your face you must not speak."
And have you nuns no further privileges?said Isabel.
Are not these large enough?replied the nun.
Yes, truly,said Isabel. "I speak not as desiring morebut
rather wishing a more strict restraint upon the sisterhoodthe
votarists of Saint Clare."
Again they heard the voice of Lucioand the nun said: "He calls
again. I pray you answer him."
Isabel then went out to Lucioand in answer to his salutation
said: "Peace and Prosperity! Who is it that calls?"
Then Lucioapproaching her with reverencesaid: "Hailvirgin
if such you beas the roses on your cheeks proclaim you are no
less! Can you bring me to the sight of Isabela novice of this
placeand the fair sister to her unhappy brother Claudio?"
Why her unhappy brother?said Isabellet me ask! for I am
that Isabel and his sister.
Fair and gentle lady,he repliedyour brother kindly greets
you by me; he is in prison.
Woe is me! for what?said Isabel.
Lucio then told her Claudio was imprisoned for seducing a young
maiden. "Ah said she, I fear it is my cousin Juliet."
Juliet and Isabel were not relatedbut they called each other
cousin in remembrance of their school-days' friendship; and as
Isabel knew that Juliet loved Claudioshe feared she had been
led by her affection for him into this transgression.
She it is,replied Lucio.
Why, then, let my brother marry Juliet,said Isabel.
Lucio replied that Claudio would gladly marry Julietbut that
the lord deputy had sentenced him to die for his offense.
Unless,said heyou have the grace by your fair prayer to
soften Angelo, and that is my business between you and your poor
Alas!said Isabelwhat poor ability is there in me to do him
good? I doubt I have no power to move Angelo.
Our doubts are traitors,said Lucioand make us lose the good
we might often win, by fearing to attempt it. Go to Lord Angelo!
When maidens sue and kneel and weep men give like gods.
I will see what I can do said Isabel. I will but stay to give
the prioress notice of the affairand then I will go to Angelo.
Commend me to my brother. Soon at night I will send him word of
Isabel hastened to the palace and threw herself on her knees
before AngelosayingI am a woeful suitor to your Honor, if it
will please your Honor to hear me.
Well, what is your suit?said Angelo.
She then made her petition in the most moving terms for her
But Angelo saidMaiden, there is no remedy; your brother is
sentenced, and he must die.
Oh, just but severe law!said Isabel. "I had a brother then.
Heaven keep your Honor!" and she was about to depart.
But Luciowho had accompanied hersaid: "Give it not over so;
return to him againentreat himkneel down before himhang
upon his gown. You are too cold; if you should need a pinyou
could not with a more tame tongue desire it."
Then again Isabel on her knees implored for mercy.
He is sentenced,said Angelo. "It is too late."
Too late!said Isabel. "Whyno! I that do speak a word may
call it back again. Believe thismy lordno ceremony that to
great ones belongsnot the king's crownnor the deputed sword
the marshal's truncheonnor the judge's robebecomes them with
one half so good a grace as mercy does."
Pray you begone,said Angelo.
But still Isabel entreated; and she said: "If my brother had been
as youand you as heyou might have slipped like himbut he
like youwould not have been so stern. I would to Heaven I had
your power and you were Isabel. Should it then be thus? NoI
would tell you what it were to be a judgeand what a prisoner."
Be content, fair maid!said Angelo: "it is the lawnot I
condemns your brother. Were he my kinsmanmy brotheror my son
it should be thus with him. He must die to-morrow."
To-morrow?said Isabel. "Ohthat is sudden! Spare himspare
him. He is not prepared for death. Even for our kitchens we kill
the fowl in season; shall we serve Heaven with less respect than
we minister to our gross selves? Goodgoodmy lordbethink
younone have died for my brother's offensethough many have
committed it. So you would be the first that gives this sentence
and he the first that suffers it. Go to your own bosommy lord;
knock thereand ask your heart what it does know that is like my
brother's fault; if it confess a natural guiltiness such as his
islet it not sound a thought against my brother's life!"
Her last words more moved Angelo than all she had before said
for the beauty of Isabel had raised a guilty passion in his heart
and he began to form thoughts of dishonorable lovesuch as
Claudio's crime had beenand the conflict in his mind made him
to turn away from Isabel; but she called him backsaying:
Gentle my lord, turn back. Hark, how I will bribe you. Good my
lord, turn back!
How! bribe me?said Angeloastonished that she should think of
offering him a bribe.
Aye,said Isabelwith such gifts that Heaven itself shall
share with you; not with golden treasures, or those glittering
stones whose price is either rich or poor as fancy values them,
but with true prayers that shall be up to Heaven before
sunrise--prayers from preserved souls, from fasting maids whose
minds are dedicated to nothing temporal.
Well, come to me to-morrow,said Angelo.
And for this short respite of her brother's lifeand for this
permission that she might be heard againshe left him with the
joyful hope that she should at last prevail over his stern
nature. And as she went away she said: "Heaven keep your Honor
safe! Heaven save your Honor!" Whichwhen Angelo heardhe said
within his heartAmen, I would be saved from thee and from thy
virtues.And thenaffrighted at his own evil thoughtshe said:
What is this? What is this? Do I love her, that I desire to hear
her speak again and feast upon her eyes? What is it I dream on?
The cunning enemy of mankind, to catch a saint, with saints does
bait the hook. Never could an immodest woman once stir my temper,
but this virtuous woman subdues me quite. Even till now, when men
were fond, I smiled and wondered at them.
In the guilty conflict in his mind Angelo suffered more that
night than the prisoner he had so severely sentenced; for in the
prison Claudio was visited by the good dukewhoin his friar's
habittaught the young man the way to heavenpreaching to him
the words of penitence and peace. But Angelo felt all the pangs
of irresolute guiltnow wishing to seduce Isabel from the paths
of innocence and honorand now suffering remorse and horror for
a crime as yet but intentional. But in the end his evil thoughts
prevailed; and he who had so lately started at the offer of a
bribe resolved to tempt this maiden with so high a bribe as she
might not be able to resisteven with the precious gift of her
dear brother's life.
When Isabel came in the morning Angelo desired she might be
admitted alone to his presence; and being therehe said to her
if she would yield to him her virgin honor and transgress even as
Juliet had done with Claudiohe would give her her brother's
For,said heI love you, Isabel.
My brother,said Isabeldid so love Juliet, and yet you tell
me he shall die for it.
But,said AngeloClaudio shall not die if you will consent to
visit me by stealth at night, even as Juliet left her father's
house at night to come to Claudio.
Isabelin amazement at his wordsthat he should tempt her to
the same fault for which he passed sentence upon her brother
saidI would do as much for my poor brother as for myself; that
is, were I under sentence of death, the impression of keen whips
I would wear as rubies, and go to my death as to a bed that
longing I had been sick for, ere I would yield myself up to this
shame.And then she told him she hoped he only spoke these words
to try her virtue.
But he saidBelieve me, on my honor, my words express my
Isabelangered to the heart to hear him use the word honor to
express such dishonorable purposessaid: "Ha! little honor to be
much believed; and most pernicious purpose. I will proclaim thee
Angelolook for it! Sign me a present pardon for my brotheror
I will tell the world aloud what man thou art!"
Who will believe you, Isabel?said Angelo; "my unsoiled name
the austereness of my lifemy word vouched against yourswill
outweigh your accusation. Redeem your brother by yielding to my
willor he shall die to-morrow. As for yousay what you canmy
false will overweigh your true story. Answer me to-morrow."
To whom should I complain? Did I tell this, who would believe
me?said Isabelas she went toward the dreary prison where her
brother was confined. When she arrived there her brother was in
pious conversation with the dukewho in his friar's habit had
also visited Juliet and brought both these guilty lovers to a
proper sense of their fault; and unhappy Juliet with tears and a
true remorse confessed that she was more to blame than Claudio
in that she willingly consented to his dishonorable
As Isabel entered the room where Claudio was confinedshe said
Peace be here, grace, and good company!
Who is there?said the disguised duke. "Come in; the wish
deserves a welcome."
My business is a word or two with Claudio,said Isabel.
Then the duke left them togetherand desired the provost who had
the charge of the prisoners to place him where he might overhear
Now, sister, what is the comfort?said Claudio.
Isabel told him he must prepare for death on the morrow.
Is there no remedy?said Claudio.
Yes, brother,replied Isabelthere is; but such a one as if
you consented to it would strip your honor from you and leave you
Let me know the point,said Claudio.
Oh, I do fear you, Claudio!replied his sister; "and I quake
lest you should wish to liveand more respect the trifling term
of six or seven winters added to your life than your perpetual
honor! Do you dare to die? The sense of death is most in
apprehensionand the poor beetle that we tread upon feels a pang
as great as when a giant dies."
Why do you give me this shame?said Claudio. "Think you I can
fetch a resolution from flowery tenderness? If I must dieI will
encounter darkness as a bride and hug it in my arms."
There spoke my brother,said Isabel; "there my father's grave
did utter forth a voice! Yesyou must die; yet would you think
itClaudiothis outward sainted deputyif I would yield to him
my virgin honorwould grant your life? Ohwere it but my life
I would lay it down for your deliverance as frankly as a pin!"
Thanks, dear Isabel,said Claudio.
Be ready to die to-morrow,said Isabel.
Death is a fearful thing,said Claudio.
And shamed life a hateful,replied his sister.
But the thoughts of death now overcame the constancy of Claudio's
temperand terrorssuch as the guilty only at their deaths do
knowassailing himhe cried out: "Sweet sisterlet me live!
The sin you do to save a brother's lifenature dispenses with
the deed so far that it becomes a virtue."
O faithless coward! O dishonest wretch!said Isabel. "Would you
preserve your life by your sister's shame? Ohfiefiefie! I
thoughtmy brotheryou had in you such a mind of honor that
had you twenty heads to render up on twenty blocksyou would
have yielded them up all before your sister should stoop to such
Nay, hear me, Isabel!said Claudio.
But what he would have said in defense of his weakness in
desiring to live by the dishonor of his virtuous sister was
interrupted by the entrance of the duke; who said:
Claudio, I have overheard what has passed between you and your
sister. Angelo had never the purpose to corrupt her; what he
said, has only been to make trial of her virtue. She, having the
truth of honor in her, has given him that gracious denial which
he is most ill glad to receive. There is no hope that he will
pardon you; therefore pass your hours in prayer, and make ready
Then Claudio repented of his weaknessand said: "Let me ask my
sister's pardon! I am so out of love with life that I will sue to
be rid of it." And Claudio retiredoverwhelmed with shame and
sorrow for his fault.
The dukebeing now alone with Isabelcommended her virtuous
resolutionsayingThe hand that made you fair has made you
Oh,said Isabelhow much is the good duke deceived in Angelo!
If ever he return, and I can speak to him, I will discover his
government.Isabel knew not that she was even now making the
discovery she threatened.
The duke replied: "That shall not be much amiss; yet as the
matter now standsAngelo will repel your accusation; therefore
lend an attentive ear to my advisings. I believe that you may
most righteously do a poor wronged lady a merited benefitredeem
your brother from the angry lawdo no stain to your own most
gracious personand much please the absent dukeif peradventure
he shall ever return to have notice of this business."
Isabel said she had a spirit to do anything he desiredprovided
it was nothing wrong.
Virtue is bold and never fearful,said the duke: and then he
asked herif she had ever heard of Marianathe sister of
Frederickthe great soldier who was drowned at sea.
I have heard of the lady,said Isabeland good words went
with her name.
This lady,said the dukeis the wife of Angelo; but her
marriage dowry was on board the vessel in which her brother
perished, and mark how heavily this befell to the poor
gentlewoman! for, besides the loss of a most noble and renowned
brother, who in his love toward her was ever most kind and
natural, in the wreck of her fortune she lost the affections of
her husband, the well-seeming Angelo, who, pretending to discover
some dishonor in this honorable lady (though the true cause was
the loss of her dowry), left her in her tears and dried not one
of them with his comfort. His unjust unkindness, that in all
reason should have quenched her love, has, like an impediment in
the current, made it more unruly, and Mariana loves her cruel
husband with the full continuance of her first affection.
The duke then more plainly unfolded his plan. It was that Isabel
should go to Lord Angelo and seemingly consent to come to him as
he desired at midnight; that by this means she would obtain the
promised pardon; and that Mariana should go in her stead to the
appointmentand pass herself upon Angelo in the dark for Isabel.
Nor, gentle daughter,said the feigned friarfear you to this
thing. Angelo is her husband, and to bring them thus together is
Isabel, being pleased with this project, departed to do as he
directed her; and he went to apprise Mariana of their intention.
He had before this time visited this unhappy lady in his assumed
character, giving her religious instruction and friendly
consolation, at which times he had learned her sad story from her
own lips; and now she, looking upon him as a holy man, readily
consented to be directed by him in this undertaking.
When Isabel returned from her interview with Angelo, to the house
of Mariana, where the duke had appointed her to meet him, he
said: Well metand in good time. What is the news from this
Isabel related the manner in which she had settled the affair.
Angelo,said shehas a garden surrounded with a brick wall,
on the western side of which is a vineyard, and to that vineyard
is a gate.And then she showed to the duke and Mariana two keys
that Angelo had given her; and she said: "This bigger key opens
the vineyard gate; this other a little door which leads from the
vineyard to the garden. There I have made my promise at the dead
of the night to call upon himand have got from him his word of
assurance for my brother's life. I have taken a due and wary note
of the place; and with whispering and most guilty diligence he
showed me the way twice over."
Are there no other tokens agreed upon between you, that Mariana
must observe?said the duke.
No, none,said Isabelonly to go when it is dark. I have told
him my time can be but short; for I have made him think a servant
comes along with me, and that this servant is persuaded I come
about my brother.
The duke commended her discreet managementand sheturning to
MarianasaidLittle have you to say to Angelo, when you depart
from him, but soft and low, REMEMBER NOW MY BROTHER!
Mariana was that night conducted to the appointed place by
Isabelwho rejoiced that she hadas she supposedby this
device preserved both her brother's life and her own honor. But
that her brother's life was safe the duke was not well satisfied
and therefore at midnight he again repaired to the prisonand it
was well for Claudio that he did soelse would Claudio have that
night been beheaded; for soon after the duke entered the prison
an order came from the cruel deputy commanding that Claudio
should be beheaded and his head sent to him by five o'clock in
the morning. But the duke persuaded the provost to put off the
execution of Claudioand to deceive Angelo by sending him the
head of a man who died that morning in the prison. And to prevail
upon the provost to agree to thisthe dukewhom still the
provost suspected not to be anything more or greater than he
seemedshowed the provost a letter written with the duke's hand
and sealed with his sealwhich when the provost sawhe
concluded this friar must have some secret order from the absent
dukeand therefore he consented to spare Claudio; and he cut off
the dead man's head and carried it to Angelo.
Then the duke in his own name wrote to Angelo a letter saying
that certain accidents had put a stop to his journey and that he
should be in Vienna by the following morningrequiring Angelo to
meet him at the entrance of the citythere to deliver up his
authority; and the duke also commanded it to be proclaimed that
if any of his subjects craved redress for injustice they should
exhibit their petitions in the street on his first entrance into
Early in the morning Isabel came to the prisonand the dukewho
there awaited her comingfor secret reasons thought it good to
tell her that Claudio was beheaded; therefore when Isabel
inquired if Angelo had sent the pardon for her brotherhe said:
Angelo has released Claudio from this world. His head is off and
sent to the deputy.
The much-grieved sister cried outO unhappy Claudio, wretched
Isabel, injurious world, most wicked Angelo!
The seeming friar bid her take comfortand when she was become a
little calm he acquainted her with the near prospect of the
duke's return and told her in what manner she should proceed in
preferring her complaint against Angelo; and he bade her not fear
if the cause should seem to go against her for a while. Leaving
Isabel sufficiently instructedhe next went to Mariana and gave
her counsel in what manner she also should act.
Then the duke laid aside his friar's habitand in his own royal
robesamid a joyful crowd of his faithful subjects assembled to
greet his arrivalentered the city of Viennawhere he was met
by Angelowho delivered up his authority in the proper form. And
there came Isabelin the manner of a petitioner for redressand
Justice, most royal duke! I am the sister of one Claudio, who,
for the seducing a young maid, was condemned to lose his head. I
made my suit to lord Angelo for my brother's pardon. It were
needless to tell your Grace how I prayed and kneeled, how he
repelled me, and how I replied; for this was of much length. The
vile conclusion I now begin with grief and pain to utter. Angelo
would not, but by my yielding to his dishonorable love, release
my brother; and after much debate within myself my sisterly
remorse overcame my virtue, and I did yield to him. But the next
morning betimes, Angelo, forfeiting his promise, sent a warrant
for my poor brother's head!
The duke affected to disbelieve her story; and Angelo said that
grief for her brother's deathwho had suffered by the due course
of the lawhad disordered her senses.
And now another suitor approachedwhich was Mariana; and Mariana
said: "Noble princeas there comes light from heaven and truth
from breathas there is sense in truth and truth in virtueI am
this man's wifeandmy good lordthe words of Isabel are
falsefor the night she says she was with Angelo I passed that
night with him in the garden-house. As this is true let me in
safety riseor else forever be fixed here a marble monument."
Then did Isabel appeal for the truth of what she had said to
Friar Lodowickthat being the name the duke had assumed in his
disguise. Isabel and Mariana had both obeyed his instructions in
what they saidthe duke intending that the innocence of Isabel
should be plainly proved in that public manner before the whole
city of Vienna; but Angelo little thought that it was from such a
cause that they thus differed in their storyand he hoped from
their contradictory evidence to be able to clear himself from the
accusation of Isabel; and he saidassuming the look of offended
I did but smile till now; but, good my lord, my patience here is
touched, and I perceive these poor, distracted women are but the
instruments of some greater one who sets them on. Let me have
way, my lord, to find this practice out.
Aye, with all my heart,said the dukeand punish them to the
height of your pleasure. You, Lord Escalus, sit with Lord Angelo,
lend him your pains to discover this abuse; the friar is sent for
that set them on, and when he comes do with your injuries as may
seem best in any chastisement. I for a while will leave you, but
stir not you, Lord Angelo, till you have well determined upon
this slander.The duke then went awayleaving Angelo well
pleased to be deputed judge and umpire in his own cause. But the
duke was absent only while he threw off his royal robes and put
on his friar's habit; and in that disguise again he presented
himself before Angelo and Escalus. And the good old Escaluswho
thought Angelo had been falsely accusedsaid to the supposed
friarCome, sir, did you set these women on to slander Lord
He replied: "Where is the duke? It is he who should hear me
Escalus said: "The duke is in usand we will hear you. Speak
Boldly, at least,retorted the friar; and then he blamed the
duke for leaving the cause of Isabel in the hands of him she had
accusedand spoke so freely of many corrupt practices he had
observed whileas he saidhe had been a looker-on in Vienna
thatEscalus threatenedhim with the torture for speaking words
against the state and for censuring the conduct of the dukeand
ordered him to be taken away to prison. Thento the amazement of
all presentand to the utter confusion of Angelothe supposed
friar threw off his disguiseand they saw it was the duke
The duke first addressed Isabel. He said to her: "Come hither
Isabel. Your friar is now your princebut with my habit I have
not changed my heart. I am still devoted to your service."
Oh, give me pardon,said Isabelthat I, your vassal, have
employed and troubled your unknown sovereignty.
He answered that he had most need of forgiveness from her for not
having prevented the death of her brother for not yet would he
tell her that Claudio was living; meaning first to make a further
trial of her goodness.
Angelo now knew the duke had been a secret witness of his bad
deedsand be said: "O my dread lordI should be guiltier than
my guiltinessto think I can be undiscerniblewhen I perceive
your Gracelike power divinehas looked upon my actions. Then
good princeno longer prolong my shamebut let my trial be my
own confession. Immediate sentence and death is all the grace I
The duke replied: "Angelothy faults are manifest. We do condemn
thee to the very block where Claudio stooped to deathand with
like haste away with him; and for his possessionsMarianawe do
instate and widow you withalto buy you a better husband."
O my dear lord,said MarianaI crave no other, nor no better
man!And then on her kneeseven as Isabel had begged the life
of Claudiodid this kind wife of an ungrateful husband beg the
life of Angelo; and she said: "Gentle my liegeO good my lord!
Sweet Isabeltake my part! Lend me your knees and all my life to
come I will lend you all my lifeto do you service!"
The duke said: "Against all sense you importune her. Should
Isabel kneel down to beg for mercyher brother's ghost would
break his paved bed and take her hence in horror."
Still Mariana said: "Isabelsweet Isabeldo but kneel by me
hold up your handsay nothing! I will speak all. They say best
men are molded out of faultsand for the most part become much
the better for being a little bad. So may my husband. O Isabel!
will you not lend a knee?"
The duke then saidHe dies for Claudio.But much pleased was
the good duke when his own Isabelfrom whom he expected all
gracious and honorable actskneeled down before himand said:
Most bounteous sir, look, if it please you, on this man
condemned, as if my brother lived. I partly think a due sincerity
governed his deeds till he did look on me. Since it is so, let
him not die! My brother had but justice in that he did the thing
for which he died.
The dukeas the best reply he could make to this noble
petitioner for her enemy's lifesending for Claudio from his
prisonhousewhere he lay doubtful of his destinypresented to
her this lamented brother living; and he said to Isabel: "Give me
your handIsabel. For your lovely sake I pardon Claudio. Say you
will be mineand he shall be my brothertoo."
By this time Lord Angelo perceived he was safe; and the duke
observing his eye to brighten up a littlesaid:
Well, Angelo, look that you love your wife; her worth has
obtained your pardon. Joy to you, Mariana! Love her, Angelo! I
have confessed her and know her virtue.
Angelo rememberedwhen dressed in a little brief authorityhow
hard his heart had beenand felt how sweet is mercy.
The duke commanded Claudio to marry Julietand offered himself
again to the acceptance of Isabelwhose virtuous and noble
conduct had won her prince's heart. Isabelnot having taken the
veilwas free to marry; and the friendly officeswhile hid
under the disguise of a humble friarwhich the noble duke had
done for hermade her with grateful joy accept the honor he
offered her; and when she became Duchess of Vienna the excellent
example of the virtuous Isabel worked such a complete reformation
among the young ladies of that citythat from that time none
ever fell into the transgression of Julietthe repentant wife of
the reformed Claudio. And the mercy-loving duke long reigned with
his beloved Isabelthe happiest of husbands and of princes.
TWELFTH NIGHT; ORWHAT YOU WILL
Sebastian and his sister Violaa young gentleman and lady of
Messalinewere twinsand (which was accounted a great wonder)
from their birth they so much resembled each other thatbut for
the difference in their dressthey could not be known apart.
They were both born in one hourand in one hour they were both
in danger of perishingfor they were shipwrecked on the coast of
Illyriaas they were making a sea-voyage together. The ship on
board of which they were split on a rock in a violent stormand
a very small number of the ship's company escaped with their
lives. The captain of the vesselwith a few of the sailors that
were savedgot to land in a small boatand with them they
brought Viola safe on shorewhere shepoor ladyinstead of
rejoicing at her own deliverancebegan to lament her brother's
loss; but the captain comforted her with the assurance that he
had seen her brotherwhen the ship splitfasten himself to a
strong maston whichas long as he could see anything of him
for the distancehe perceived him borne up above the waves.
Viola was much consoled by the hope this account gave herand
now considered bow she was to dispose of herself in a strange
countryso far from home; and she asked the captain if he knew
anything of Illyria.
Aye, very well, madam,replied the captainfor I was born not
three hours' travel from this place.
Who governs here?said Viola. The captain told her Illyria was
governed by Orsinoa duke noble in nature as well as dignity.
Viola saidshe had heard her father speak of Orsinoand that he
was unmarried then.
And he is so now,said the captain; "or was so very late for
but a month agoI went from hereand then it was the general
talk (as you know what great ones dothe people will prattle of)
that Orsino sought the love of fair Oliviaa virtuous maidthe
daughter of a count who died twelve months agoleaving Olivia to
the protection of her brotherwho shortly after died also; and
for the love of this dear brotherthey sayshe has abjured the
sight and company of men."
Violawho was herself in such a sad affliction for her brother's
losswished she could live with this lady who so tenderly
mourned a brother's death. She asked the captain if be could
introduce her to Oliviasaying she would willingly serve this
lady. But he replied this would be a hard thing to accomplish
because the Lady Olivia would admit no person into her house
since her brother's deathnot even the duke himself. Then Viola
formed another project in her mindwhich wasin a man's habit
to serve the Duke Orsino as a page. It was a strange fancy in a
young lady to put on male attire and pass for a boy; but the
forlorn and unprotected state of Violawho was young and of
uncommon beautyaloneand in a foreign landmust plead her
She having observed a fair behavior in the captainand that he
showed a friendly concern for her welfareintrusted him with her
designand he readily engaged to assist her. Viola gave him
money and directed him to furnish her with suitable apparel
ordering her clothes to be made of the same color and in the same
fashion her brother Sebastian used to wearand when she was
dressed in her manly garb she looked so exactly like her brother
that some strange errors happened by means of their being
mistaken for each otherforas will afterward appearSebastian
was also saved.
Viola's good friendthe captainwhen he had transformed this
pretty lady into a gentlemanhaving some interest at courtgot
her presented to Orsino under the feigned name of Cesario. The
duke was wonderfully pleased with the address and graceful
deportment of this handsome youthand made Cesario one of his
pagesthat being the office Viola wished to obtain; and she so
well fulfilled the duties of her new stationand showed such a
ready observance and faithful attachment to her lordthat she
soon became his most favored attendant. To Cesario Orsino
confided the whole history of his love for the lady Olivia. To
Cesario he told the long and unsuccessful suit he had made to one
whorejecting his long services and despising his person
refused to admit him to her presence; and for the love of this
lady who had so unkindly treated him the noble Orsinoforsaking
the sports of the field and all manly exercises in which he
used to delightpassed his hours in ignoble slothlistening to
the effeminate sounds of soft musicgentle airsand passionate
love-songs; and neglecting the company of the wise and learned
lords with whom he used to associatehe was now all day long
conversing with young Cesario. Unmeet companion no doubt his
grave courtiers thought Cesario was for their once noble master
the great Duke Orsino.
It is a dangerous matter for young maidens to be the confidantes
of handsome young dukes; which Viola too soon foundto her
sorrowfor all that Orsino told her he endured for Olivia she
presently perceived she suffered for the love of himand much it
moved her wonder that Olivia could be so regardless of this her
peerless lord and masterwhom she thought no one could behold
without the deepest admirationand she ventured gently to hint
to Orsinothat it was a pity he should affect a lady who was so
blind to his worthy qualities; and she said:
If a lady were to love you, my lord, as you love Olivia (and
perhaps there may be one who does), if you could not love her in
return) would you not tell her that you could not love, and must
she not be content with this answer?
But Orsino would not admit of this reasoningfor he denied that
it was possible for any woman to love as he did. He said no
woman's heart was big enough to hold so much loveand therefore
it was unfair to compare the love of any lady for him to his love
for Olivia. Nowthough Viola had the utmost deference for the
duke's opinionsshe could not help thinking this was not quite
truefor she thought her heart had full as much love in it as
Orsino's had; and she said:
Ah, but I know, my lord.
What do you know, Cesario?said Orsino.
Too well I know,replied Violawhat love women may owe to
men. They are as true of heart as we are. My father had a
daughter loved a man, as I perhaps, were I a woman, should love
And what is her history?said Orsino.
A blank, my lord,replied Viola. "She never told her lovebut
let concealmentlike a worm in the budfeed on her damask
cheek. She pined in thoughtand with a green and yellow
melancholy she sat like Patience on a monumentsmiling at
The duke inquired if this lady died of her lovebut to this
question Viola returned an evasive answer; as probably she had
feigned the storyto speak words expressive of the secret love
and silent grief she suffered for Orsino.
While they were talkinga gentleman entered whom the duke had
sent to Oliviaand he saidSo please you, my lord, I might not
be admitted to the lady, but by her handmaid she returned you
this answer: Until seven years hence the element itself shall not
behold her face; but like a cloistress she will walk veiled,
watering her chamber with her tears for the sad remembrance of
her dead brother.
On hearing this the duke exclaimedOh, she that has a heart of
this fine frame, to pay this debt of love to a dead brother, how
will she love when the rich golden shaft has touched her heart!
And then he said to Viola: "You knowCesarioI have told you
all the secrets of my heart; thereforegood youthgo to
Olivia's house. Be not denied access; stand at her doors and tell
her there your fixed foot shall grow till you have audience."
And if I do speak to her, my lord, what then?said Viola.
Oh, then,replied Orsinounfold to her the passion of my
love. Make a long discourse to her of my dear faith. It will well
become you to act my woes, for she will attend more to you than
to one of graver aspect.
Away then went Viola; but not willingly did she undertake this
courtshipfor she was to woo a lady to become a wife to him she
wished to marry; buthaving undertaken the affairshe performed
it with fidelityand Olivia soon heard that a youth was at her
door who insisted upon being admitted to her presence.
I told him,said the servantthat you were sick. He said he
knew you were, and therefore he came to speak with you. I told
him that you were asleep. He seemed to have a foreknowledge of
that, too, and said that therefore he must speak with you. What
is to be said to him, lady? for he seems fortified against all
denial, and will speak with you, whether you will or no.
Oliviacurious to see who this peremptory messenger might be
desired be might be admittedandthrowing her veil over her
faceshe said she would once more hear Orsino's embassynot
doubting but that he came from the dukeby his importunity.
Violaenteringput on the most manly air she could assumeand
affecting the fine courtier language of great men's pagesshe
said to the veiled lady:
Most radiant, exquisite, and matchless beauty, I pray you tell
me if you are the lady of the house; for I should be sorry to
cast away my speech upon another; for besides that it is
excellently well penned, I have taken great pains to learn it.
Whence come you, sir?said Olivia.
I can say little more than I have studied,replied Violaand
that question is out of my part."
Are you a comedian?said Olivia.
No,replied Viola; "and yet I am not that which I play
meaning that she, being a woman, feigned herself to be a man. And
again she asked Olivia if she were the lady of the house.
Olivia said she was; and then Viola, having more curiosity to see
her rival's features than haste to deliver her master's message,
said, Good madamlet me see your face." With this bold request
Olivia was not averse to complyfor this haughty beautywhom
the Duke Orsino had loved so long in vainat first sight
conceived a passion for the supposed pagethe humble Cesario.
When Viola asked to see her faceOlivia saidHave you any
commission from your lord and master to negotiate with my face?
And thenforgetting her determination to go veiled for seven
long yearsshe drew aside her veilsaying: "But I will draw the
curtain and show the picture. Is it not well done?"
Viola replied: "It is beauty truly mixed; the red and white upon
your cheeks is by Nature's own cunning hand laid on. You are the
most cruel lady living if you lead these graces to the grave and
leave the world no copy."
Oh, sir,replied OliviaI will not be so cruel. The world may
have an inventory of my beauty. As, item, two lips, indifferent
red; item, two gray eyes with lids to them; one neck; one chin;
and so forth. Were you sent here to praise me?
Viola repliedI see what you are: you are too proud, but you
are fair. My lord and master loves you. Oh, such a love could but
be recompensed though you were crowned the queen of beauty; for
Orsino loves you with adoration and with tears, with groans that
thunder love, and sighs of fire.
Your lord,said Oliviaknows well my mind. I cannot love him;
yet I doubt not he is virtuous; I know him to be noble and of
high estate, of fresh and spotless youth. All voices proclaim him
learned, courteous, and valiant; yet I cannot love him. He might
have taken his answer long ago.
If I did love you as my master does,said ViolaI would make
me a willow cabin at your gates, and call upon your name. I would
write complaining sonnets on Olivia, and sing them in the dead of
the night. Your name should sound among the hills, and I would
make Echo, the babbling gossip of the air, cry out OLIVIA. Oh,
you should not rest between the elements of earth and air, but
you should pity me.
You might do much,said Olivia. "What is your parentage?'"
Viola replied: "Above my fortunesyet my state is well. I am a
Olivia now reluctantly dismissed Violasaying: "Go to your
master and tell him I cannot love him. Let him send no more
'unless perchance you come again to tell me how he takes it."
And Viola departedbidding the lady farewell by the name of Fair
Cruelty. When she was gone Olivia repeated the wordsABOVE MY
FORTUNESYET MY STATE IS WELL. I AM A GENTLEMAN. And she said
aloudI will be sworn he is; his tongue, his face, his limbs,
action, and spirit plainly show he is a gentleman.And then she
wished Cesario was the duke; andperceiving the fast hold he had
taken on her affectionsshe blamed herself for her sudden love;
but the gentle blame which people lay upon their own faults has
no deep rootand presently the noble lady Olivia so far forgot
the inequality betweenher fortunes and those of this seeming
pageas well as the maidenly reserve which is the chief ornament
of a lady's characterthat she resolved to court the love of
young Cesarioand sent a servant after him with a diamond ring
under the pretense that he had left it with her as a present from
Orsino. She hoped by thus artfully making Cesario a present of
the ring she should give him some intimation of her design; and
truly it did make Viola suspect; forknowing that Orsino had
sent no ring by hershe began to recollect that Olivia's looks
and manner were expressive of admirationand she presently
guessed her master's mistress had fallen in love with her.
Alas!said shethe poor lady might as well love a dream.
Disguise I see is wicked, for it has caused Olivia to breathe as
fruitless sighs for me as I do for Orsino.
Viola returned to Orsino's palaceand related to her lord the
ill success of the negotiationrepeating the command of Olivia
that the duke should trouble her no more. Yet still the duke
persisted in hoping that the gentle Cesario would in time be able
to persuade her to show some pityand therefore he bade him he
should go to her again the next day. In the mean timeto pass
away the tedious intervalhe commanded a song which he loved to
be sung; and he said:
My good Cesario, when I heard that song last night, methought it
did relieve my passion much. Mark it, Cesario, it is old and
plain. The spinsters and the knitters when they sit in the sun,
and the young maids that weave their thread with bone, chant this
song. It is silly, yet I love it, for it tells of the innocence
of love in the old times.
Come awaycome awayDeath
And in sad cypress let me be laid;
Fly awayfly awaybreath
I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
My shroud of white stuck all with yewO prepare it!
My part of 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.
A thousand thousand sighs to savelay me O where
Sad true lover never find my graveto weep there!
Viola did not fail to mark the words of the old songwhich in
such true simplicity described the pangs of unrequited loveand
she bore testimony in her countenance of feeling what the song
expressed. Her sad looks were observed by Orsinowho said to
My life upon it, Cesario, though you are so young, your eye has
looked upon some face that it loves. Has it not, boy?
A little, with your leave,replied Viola.
And what kind of woman, and of what age is she?said Orsino.
Of your age and of your complexion, my lord,said Viola; which
made the duke smile to hear this fair young boy loved a woman so
much older than himself and of a man's dark complexion; but Viola
secretly meant Orsinoand not a woman like him.
When Viola made her second visit to Olivia she found no
difficulty in gaining access to her. Servants soon discover when
their ladies delight to converse with handsome young messengers;
and the instant Viola arrived the gates were thrown wide open
and the duke's page was shown into Olivia's apartment with great
respect. And when Viola told Olivia that she was come once more
to plead in her lord's behalfthis lady said:
I desired you never to speak of him again; but if you would
undertake another suit, I had rather hear you solicit, than music
from the spheres.
This was pretty plain speakingbut Olivia soon explained herself
still more plainlyand openly confessed her love; and when she
saw displeasure with perplexity expressed in Viola's faceshe
said: "Ohwhat a deal of scorn looks beautiful in the contempt
and anger of his lip! Cesarioby the roses of the springby
maidhoodhonorand by truthI love you so thatin spite of
your prideI have neither wit nor reason to conceal my passion."
But in vain the lady wooed. Viola hastened from her presence
threatening never more to come to plead Orsino's love; and all
the reply she made to Olivia's fond solicitation wasa
declaration of a resolution NEVER TO LOVE ANY WOMAN.
No sooner had Viola left the lady than a claim was made upon her
valor. A gentlemana rejected suitor of Oliviawho had learned
how that lady had favored the duke's messengerchallenged him to
fight a duel. What should poor Viola dowhothough she carried
a man-like outsidehad a true woman's heart and feared to look
on her own sword?
Whenshe saw her formidable rival advancing toward her with his
sword drawn she began to think of confessing that she was a
woman; but she was relieved at once from her terrorand the
shame of such a discoveryby a stranger that was passing bywho
made up to themand as if he had been long known to her and were
her dearest friend said to her opponent:
If this young gentleman has done offense, I will take the fault
on me; and if you offend him, I will for his sake defy you.
Before Viola had time to thank him for his protectionor to
inquire the reason of his kind interferenceher new friend met
with an enemy where his bravery was of no use to him; for the
officers of justice coming up in that instantapprehended the
stranger in the duke's nameto answer for an offense he had
committed some years before; and he said to Viola:
This comes with seeking you.And then he asked her for a purse
saying: "Now my necessity makes me ask for my purseand it
grieves me much more for what I cannot do for you than for what
befalls myself. You stand amazedbut be of comfort."
His words did indeed amaze Violaand she protested she knew him
notnor had ever received a purse from him; but for the kindness
he had just shown her she offered him a small sum of moneybeing
nearly the whole she possessed. And now the stranger spoke severe
thingscharging her with ingratitude and unkindness. He said:
This youth whom you see here I snatched from the jaws of death,
and for his sake alone I came to Illyria and have fallen into
But the officers cared little for harkening to the complaints of
their prisonerand they hurried him offsayingWhat is that
to us?And as he was carried awayhe called Viola by the name
of Sebastianreproaching the supposed Sebastian for disowning
his friendas long as he was within hearing. When Viola heard
herself called Sebastianthough the stranger was taken away too
hastily for her to ask an explanationshe conjectured that this
seeming mystery might arise from her being mistaken for her
brotherand she began to cherish hopes that it was her brother
whose life this man said he had preserved. And so indeed it was.
The strangerwhose name was Antoniowas a sea-captain. He had
taken Sebastian up into his ship whenalmost exhausted with
fatiguehe was floating on the mast to which he had fastened
himself in the storm. Antonio conceived such a friendship for
Sebastian that he resolved to accompany him whithersoever he
went; and when the youth expressed a curiosity to visit Orsino's
courtAntoniorather than part from himcame to Illyria
though he knewif his person should be known therehis life
would be in dangerbecause in a sea-fight he had once
dangerously wounded the Duke Orsino's nephew. This was the
offense for which he was now made a prisoner.
Antonio and Sebastian had landed together but a few hours before
Antonio met Viola. He had given his purse to Sebastiandesiring
him to use it freely if he saw anything he wished to purchase
telling him he would wait at the inn while Sebastian went to view
the town; butSebastian not returning at the time appointed
Antonio had ventured out to look for himandpriest made Orsino
believe that his page had robbed him of the treasure he prized
above his life. But thinking that it was past recallhe was
bidding farewell to his faithless mistressand the YOUNG
DISSEMBLERher husbandas he called Violawarning her never to
come in his sight againwhen (as it seemed to them) a miracle
appeared! for another Cesario enteredand addressed Olivia as
his wife. This new Cesario was Sebastianthe real husband of
Olivia; and when their wonder had a little ceased at seeing two
persons with the same facethe same voiceand the same habit
the brother and sister began to question each other; for Viola
could scarce be persuaded that her brother was livingand
Sebastian knew not how to account for the sister he supposed
drowned being found in the habit of a young man. But Viola
presently acknowledged that she was indeed Violaand his sister
under that disguise.
When all the errors were cleared up which the extreme likeness
between this brother and sister had occasionedthey laughed at
the Lady Olivia for the pleasant mistake she had made in falling
in love with a woman; and Olivia showed no dislike to her
exchangewhen she found she had wedded the brother instead of
The hopes of Orsino were forever at an end by this marriage of
Oliviaand with his hopesall his fruitless love seemed to
vanish awayand all his thoughts were fixed on the event of his
favoriteyoung Cesariobeing changed into a fair lady. He
viewed Viola with great attentionand he remembered how very
handsome he had always thought Cesario wasand he concluded she
would look very beautiful in a woman's attire; and then he
remembered how often she had said SHE LOVED HIMwhich at the
time seemed only the dutiful expressions of a faithful page; but
now he guessed that something more was meantfor many of her
pretty sayingswhich were like riddles to himcame now into his
mindand he no sooner remembered all these things than he
resolved to make Viola his wife; and he said to her (he still
could not help calling her CESARIO and BOY):
Boy, you have said to me a thousand times that you should never
love a woman like to me, and for the faithful service you have
done for me so much beneath your soft and tender breeding, and
since you have called me master so long, you shall now be your
master's mistress, and Orsino's true duchess.
Oliviaperceiving Orsino was making over that heartwhich she
had so ungraciously rejectedto Violainvited them to enter her
house and offered the assistance of the good priest who had
married her to Sebastian in the morning to perform the same
ceremony in the remaining part of the day for Orsino and Viola.
Thus the twin brother and sister were both wedded on the same
daythe storm and shipwreck which had separated them being the
means of bringing to pass their high and mighty fortunes.Viola
was the wife of Orsinothe Duke of Illyriaand Sebastian the
husband of the rich and noble countessthe Lady Olivia.
TIMON OF ATHENS
Timona lord of Athensin the enjoyment of a princely fortune
affected a humor of liberality which knew no limits. His almost
infinite wealth could not flow in so fast but he poured it out
faster upon all sorts and degrees of people. Not the poor only
tasted of his bountybut great lords did not disdain to rank
themselves among his dependents and followers. His table was
resorted to by all the luxurious feastersand his house was open
to all comers and goers at Athens. His large wealth combined with
his free and prodigal nature to subdue all hearts to his love;
men of all minds and dispositions tendered their services to Lord
Timonfrom the glass-faced flatterer whose face reflects as in a
mirror the present humor of his patronto the rough and
unbending cynic whoaffecting a contempt of men's persons and an
indifference to worldly thingsyet could not stand out against
the gracious manners and munificent soul of Lord Timonbut would
come (against his nature) to partake of his royal entertainments
and return most rich in his own estimation if he had received a
nod or a salutation from Timon.
If a poet had composed a work which wanted a recommendatory
introduction to the worldhe had no more to do but to dedicate
it to Lord Timonand the poem was sure of salebesides a
present purse from the patronand daily access to his house and
table. If a painter had a picture to dispose of he had only to
take it to Lord Timon and pretend to consult his taste as to the
merits of it; nothing more was wanting to persuade the liberalhearted
lord to buy it. If a jeweler had a stone of priceor a
mercer richcostly stuffswhich for their costliness lay upon
his handsLord Timon's house was a ready mart always openwhere
they might get off their wares or their jewelry at any priceand
the good-natured lord would thank them into the bargainas if
they had done him a piece of courtesy in letting him have the
refusal of such precious commodities. So that by this means his
house was thronged with superfluous purchasesof no use but to
swell uneasy and ostentatious pomp; and his person was still more
inconveniently beset with a crowd of these idle visitorslying
courtiersand expectantswho continually filled his lobbies
raining their fulsome flatteries in whispers in his ears
sacrificing to him with adulation as to a Godmaking sacred the
very stirrup by which he mounted his horseand seeming as though
they drank the free air but through his permission and bounty.
Some of these daily dependents were young men of birth who (their
means not answering to their extravagance) had been put in prison
by creditors and redeemed thence by Lord Timon; these young
prodigals thenceforward fastened upon his lordshipas if by
common sympathy he were necessarily endeared to all such
spendthrifts and loose liverswhonot being able to follow him
in his wealthfound it easier to copy him in prodigality and
copious spending of what was their own. One of these flesh-flies
was Ventidiusfor whose debtsunjustly contractedTimon but
lately had paid down the sum of five talents.
But among this confluencethis great flood of visitorsnone
were more conspicuous than the makers of presents and givers of
gifts. It was fortunate for these men if Timon took a fancy to a
dog or a horseor any piece of cheap furniture which was theirs.
The thing so praisedwhatever it waswas sure to be sent the
next morning with the compliments of the giver for Lord Timon's
acceptanceand apologies for the unworthiness of the gift; and
this dog or horseor whatever it might bedid not fail to
produce from Timon's bountywho would not be outdone in gifts
perhaps twenty dogs or horsescertainly presents of far richer
worthas these pretended donors knew well enoughand that their
false presents were but the putting out of so much money at large
and speedy interest. In this way Lord Lucius had lately sent to
Timon a present of four milk-white horsestrapped in silver
which this cunning lord had observed Timon upon some occasion to
commend; and another lordLucullushad bestowed upon him in the
same pretended way of free gift a brace of greyhounds whose make
and fleetness Timon had been heard to admire; these presents the
easy-hearted lord accepted without suspicion of the dishonest
views of the presenters; and the givers of course were rewarded
with some rich returna diamond or some jewel of twenty times
the value of their false and mercenary donation.
Sometimes these creatures would go to work in a more direct way
and with gross and palpable artificewhich yet the credulous
Timon was too blind to seewould affect to admire and praise
something that Timon possesseda bargain that he had boughtor
some late purchasewhich was sure to draw from this yielding and
soft-hearted lord a gift of the thing commendedfor no service
in the world done for it but the easy expense of a little cheap
and obvious flattery. In this way Timon but the other day had
given to one of these mean lords the bay courser which he himself
rode uponbecause his lordship had been pleased to say that it
was a handsome beast and went well; and Timon knew that no man
ever justly praised what he did not wish to possess. For Lord
Timon weighed his friends' affection with his ownand so fond
was he of bestowingthat be could have dealt kingdoms to these
supposed friends and never have been weary.
Not that Timon's wealth all went to enrich these wicked
flatterers; he could do noble and praiseworthy actions; and when
a servant of his once loved the daughter of a rich Athenianbut
could not hope to obtain her by reason that in wealth and rank
the maid was so far above himLord Timon freely bestowed upon
his servant three Athenian talentsto make his fortune equal
with the dowry which the father of the young maid demanded of him
who should be her husband. But for the most partknaves and
parasites had the command of his fortunefalse friends whom he
did not know to be suchbutbecause they flocked around his
personhe thought they must needs love him; and because they
smiled and flattered himhe thought surely that his conduct was
approved by all the wise and good. And when be was feasting in
the midst of all these flatterers and mock friendswhen they
were eating him up and draining his fortunes dry with large
draughts of richest wines drunk to his health and prosperitybe
could not perceive the difference of a friend from a flatterer
but to his deluded eyes (made proud with the sight) it seemed a
precious comfort to have so many like brothers commanding one
another's fortunes (though it was his own fortune which paid all
the costs)and with joy they would run over at the spectacle of
suchas it appeared to himtruly festive and fraternal meeting.
But while he thus outwent the very heart of kindnessand poured
out his bountyas if Plutusthe god of goldhad been but his
steward; while thus he proceeded without care or stopso
senseless of expense that he would neither inquire how he could
maintain it nor cease his wild flow of riot--his richeswhich
were not infinitemust needs melt away before a prodigality
which knew no limits. But who should tell him so? His flatterers?
They had an interest in shutting his eyes. In vain did his honest
steward Flavius try to represent to him his conditionlaying his
accounts before himbegging of himpraying of himwith an
importunity that on any other occasion would have been unmannerly
in a servantbeseeching him with tears to look into the state of
his affairs. Timon would still put him offand turn the
discourse to something else; for nothing is so deaf to
remonstrance as riches turned to povertynothing is so unwilling
to believe its situationnothing so incredulous to its own true
stateand hard to give credit to a reverse. Often had this good
stewardthis honest creaturewhen all the rooms of Timon's
great house had been choked up with riotous feeders at his
master's costwhen the floors have wept with drunken spilling of
wineand every apartment has blazed with lights and resounded
with music and feastingoften had he retired by himself to some
solitary spotand wept faster than the wine ran from the
wasteful casks withinto see the mad bounty of his lordand to
thinkwhen the means were gone which brought him praises from
all sorts of peoplehow quickly the breath would be gone of
which the praise was made; praises won in feasting would be lost
in fastingand at one cloud of winter-showers these flies would
But now the time was come that Timon could shut his ears no
longer to the representations of this faithful steward. Money
must be had; and when he ordered Flavius to sell some of his land
for that purposeFlavius informed himwhat he had in vain
endeavored at several times before to make him listen tothat
most of his land was already sold or forfeitedand that all he
possessed at present was not enough to pay the one-half of what
he owed. Struck with wonder at this presentationTimon hastily
My lands extend from Athens to Lacedoemon.
O my good lord,said Flaviusthe world is but a world, and
has bounds. Were it all yours to give in a breath, how quickly
were it gone!
Timon consoled himself that no villainous bounty had yet come
from himthat if he had given his wealth away unwiselyit had
not been bestowed to feed his vicesbut to cherish his friends;
and he bade the kind-hearted steward (who was weeping) to take
comfort in the assurance that his master could never lack means
while he had so many noble friends; and this infatuated lord
persuaded himself that he had nothing to do but to send and
borrowto use every man's fortune (that had ever tasted his
bounty) in this extremityas freely as his own. Then with a
cheerful lookas if confident of the trialhe severally
despatched messengers to Lord Luciusto Lords Lucullus and
Semproniusmen upon whom he had lavished his gifts in past times
without measure or moderation; and to Ventidiuswhom he had
lately released out of prison by paying his debtsand whoby
the death of his fatherwas now come into the possession of an
ample fortune and well enabled to requite Timon's courtesy; to
request of Ventidius the return of those five talents which he
had paid for himand of each of those noble lords the loan
of fifty talents; nothing doubting that their gratitude would
supply his wants (if he needed it) to the amount of five hundred
times fifty talents.
Lucullus was the first applied to. This mean lord had been
dreaming overnight of a silver bason and cupand when Timon's
servant was announced his sordid mind suggested to him that this
was surely a making out of his dreamand that Timon had sent him
such a present. But when he understood the truth of the matter
and that Timon wanted moneythe quality of his faint and
watery friendship showed itselffor with many protestations he
vowed to the servant that he had long foreseen the ruin of his
master's affairsand many a time had he come to dinner to tell
him of itand had come again to supper to try to persuade him to
spend lessbut he would take no counsel nor warning by his
coming. And true it was that he had been a constant attender (as
he said) at Timon's feastsas he had in greater things tasted
his bounty; but that he ever came with that intentor gave good
counsel or reproof to Timonwas a baseunworthy liewhich he
suitably followed up with meanly offering the servant a bribe to
go home to his master and tell him that be had not found Lucullus
As little success had the messenger who was sent to Lord Lucius.
This lying lordwho was full of Timon's meat and enriched almost
to bursting with Timon's costly presentswhen he found the wind
changedand the fountain of so much bounty suddenly stoppedat
first could hardly believe it; but on its being confirmed he
affected great regret that he should not have it in his power to
serve Lord Timonforunfortunately (which was a base
falsehood)he had made a great purchase the day beforewhich
had quite disfurnished him of the means at presentthe more
beast hehe called himselfto put it out of his power to serve
so good a friend; and he counted it one of his greatest
afflictions that his ability should fail him to pleasure such an
Who can call any man friend that dips in the same dish with him?
Just of this metal is every flatterer. In the recollection of
everybody Timon had been a father to this Luciushad kept up his
credit with his purse; Timon's money had gone to pay the wages of
his servantsto pay the hire of the laborers who had sweat to
build the fine houses which Lucius's pride had made necessary to
him. Yet---ohthe monster which man makes himself when he proves
ungrateful!--this Lucius now denied to Timon a sum whichin
respect of what Timon had bestowed on himwas less than
charitable men afford to beggars.
Semproniusand every one of these mercenary lords to whom Timon
applied in their turnreturned the same evasive answer or direct
denial; even Ventidiusthe redeemed and now rich Ventidius
refused to assist him with the loan of those five talents which
Timon had not lent but generously given him in his distress.
Now was Timon as much avoided in his poverty as he had been
courted and resorted to in his riches. Now the same tongues which
had been loudest in his praisesextolling him as bountiful
liberaland open-handedwere not ashamed to censure that very
bounty as follythat liberality as profusenessthough it had
shown itself folly in nothing so truly as in the selection of
such unworthy creatures as themselves for its objects. Now was
Timon's princely mansion forsaken and become a shunned and hated
placea place for men to pass bynot a placeas formerly
where every passenger must stop and taste of his wine and good
cheer; nowinstead of being thronged with feasting and
tumultuous guestsit was beset with impatient and clamorous
creditorsusurersextortionersfierce and intolerable in their
demandspleading bondsinterestmortgages; iron-hearted men
that would take no denial nor putting offthat Timon's house was
now his jailwhich he could not passnor go in nor out for
them; one demanding his due of fifty talentsanother bringing in
a bill of five thousand crownswhichif he would tell out his
blood by drops and pay them sohe had not enough in his body to
dischargedrop by drop.
In this desperate and irremediable state (as it seemed) of his
affairsthe eyes of all men were suddenly surprised at a new and
incredible luster which this setting sun put forth. Once more
Lord Timon proclaimed a feastto which he invited his accustomed
guests--lordsladiesall that was great or fashionable in
Athens. Lord Lucius and Lucullus cameVentidiusSemproniusand
the rest. Who more sorry now than these fawning wretcheswhen
they found (as they thought) that Lord Timon's poverty was all
pretense and had been only put on to make trial of their loves
to think that they should not have seen through the artifice at
the time and have had the cheap credit of obliging his lordship?
Yet who more glad to find the fountain of that noble bounty which
they had thought dried upstill fresh and running? They came
dissemblingprotestingexpressing deepest sorrow and shame
that when his lordship sent to them they should have been so
unfortunate as to want the present means to oblige so honorable a
friend. But Timon begged them not to give such trifles a thought
for he had altogether forgotten it. And these basefawning
lordsthough they had denied him money in his adversityyet
could not refuse their presence at this new blaze of his
returning prosperity. For the swallow follows not summer more
willingly than men of these dispositions follow the good fortunes
of the greatnor more willingly leaves winter than these shrink
from the first appearance of a reverse. Such summer birds are
men. But now with music and state the banquet of smoking dishes
was served up; and when the guests had a little done admiring
whence the bankrupt Timon could find means to furnish so costly a
feastsome doubting whether the scene which they saw was real
as scarce trusting their own eyesat a signal given the dishes
were uncovered and Timon's drift appeared. Instead of those
varieties and far-fetched dainties which they expectedthat
Timon's epicurean table in past times had so liberally presented
now appeared under the covers of these dishes a preparation more
suitable to Timon's poverty--nothing but a little smoke and
lukewarm waterfit feast for this knot of mouth-friendswhose
professions were indeed smokeand their hearts lukewarm and
slippery as the water with which Timon welcomed his astonished
guestsbidding themUncover, dogs, and lap;andbefore they
could recover their surprisesprinkling it in their facesthat
they might have enoughand throwing dishes and all after them
who now ran huddling outlordsladieswith their caps snatched
up in hastea splendid confusionTimon pursuing themstill
calling them what they weresmooth smiling parasites,
destroyers under the mask of courtesy, affable wolves, meek
bears, fools of fortune, feast-friends, time-flies.They
crowding out to avoid himleft the house more willingly
than they had entered it; some losing their gowns and capsand
some their jewels in the hurryall glad to escape out of the
presence of such a mad lordand from the ridicule of his mock
This was the last feast which ever Timon madeand in it he took
farewell of Athens and the society of men; forafter thathe
betook himself to the woodsturning his back upon the hated
city and upon all mankindwishing the walls of that detestable
city might sinkand the houses fall upon their ownerswishing
all plagues which infest humanity--waroutragepoverty
diseases--might fasten upon its inhabitantspraying the just
gods to confound all Atheniansboth young and oldhigh and low;
so wishinghe went to the woodswhere he said he should find
the unkindest beast much kinder than mankind. He stripped himself
nakedthat he might retain no fashion of a manand dug a cave
to live inand lived solitary in the manner of a beasteating
the wild roots and drinking waterflying from the face of his
kindand choosing rather to herd with wild beastsas more
harmless and friendly than man.
What a change from Lord Timon the richLord Timon the delight of
mankindto Timon the nakedTimon the man-hater! Where were his
flatterers now? Where were his attendants and retinue? Would the
bleak airthat boisterous servitorbe his chamberlainto put
his shirt on warm? Would those stiff trees that had outlived the
eagle turn young and airy pages to himto skip on his errands
when he bade them? Would the cool brookwhen it was iced with
winteradminister to him his warm broths and caudles when sick
of an overnight's surfeit? Or would the creatures that lived in
those wild woods come and lick his hand and flatter him?
Here on a daywhen he was digging for rootshis poor
sustenancehis spade struck against something heavywhich
proved to be golda great heap which some miser had probably
buried in a time of alarmthinking to have come again and taken
it from its prisonbut died before the opportunity had arrived
without making any man privy to the concealment; so it laydoing
neither good nor harmin the bowels of the earthits motheras
if it had never come thencetill the accidental striking of
Timon's spade against it once more brought it to light.
Here was a mass of treasure whichif Timon had retained his old
mindwas enough to have purchased him friends and flatterers
again; but Timon was sick of the false world and the sight of
gold was poisonous to his eyes; and he would have restored it to
the earthbut thatthinking of the infinite calamities which by
means of gold happen to mankindhow the lucre of it causes
murderamong menhe had a pleasure in imagining (such a rooted
hatred did he bear to his species) that out of this heapwhich
in digging he had discoveredmight arise some mischief to plague
mankind. And some soldiers passing through the woods near to his
cave at that instantwhich proved to be a part of the troops of
the Athenian captain Alcibiadeswhoupon some disgust taken
against the senators of Athens (the Athenians were ever noted to
be a thankless and ungrateful peoplegiving disgust to their
generals and best friends)was marching at the head of the same
triumphant army which he had formerly headed in their defenseto
war against them. Timonwho liked their business wellbestowed
upon their captain the gold to pay his soldiersrequiring no
other service from him than that he should with his conquering
army lay Athens level with the groundand burnslaykill all
her inhabitants; not sparing the old men for their white beards
for (he said) they were usurersnor the young children for their
seeming innocent smilesfor those (he said) would liveif they
grew upto be traitors; but to steel his eyes and ears against
any sights or sounds that might awaken compassion; and not to let
the cries of virginsbabesor mothers hinder him from making
one universal massacre of the citybut to confound them all in
his conquest; and when he had conqueredhe prayed that the gods
would confound him alsothe conqueror. So thoroughly did Timon
hate AthensAtheniansand all mankind.
While he lived in this forlorn stateleading a life more brutal
than humanhe was suddenly surprised one day with the appearance
of a man standing in an admiring posture at the door of his
cave. It was Flaviusthe honest stewardwhom love and zealous
affection to his master had led to seek him out at his wretched
dwelling and to offer his services; and the first sight of his
masterthe once noble Timonin that abject conditionnaked as
he was bornliving in the manner of a beast among beasts
looking like his own sad ruins and a monument of decayso
affected this good servant that he stood speechlesswrapped up
in horror and confounded. And when he found utterance at last to
his wordsthey were so choked with tears that Timon had much ado
to know him againor to make out who it was that had come (so
contrary to the experience he had had of mankind) to offer him
service in extremity. And being in the form and shape of a man
he suspected him for a traitorand his tears for false; but the
good servant by so many tokens confirmed the truth of his
fidelityand made it clear that nothing but love and zealous
duty to his once dear master had brought him therethat Timon
was forced to confess that the world contained one honest man;
yetbeing in the shape and form of a manbe could not look upon
his man's face without abhorrenceor hear words uttered from his
man's lips without loathing; and this singly honest man was
forced to departbecause he was a manand becausewith a heart
more gentle and compassionate than is usual to manhe bore man's
detested form and outward feature.
But greater visitants than a poor steward were about to interrupt
the savage quiet of Timon's solitude. For now the day was come
when the ungrateful lords of Athens sorely repented the injustice
which they had done to the noble Timon. For Alcibiadeslike an
incensed wild boarwas raging at the walls of their cityand
with his hot siege threatened to lay fair Athens in the dust. And
now the memory of Lord Timon's former prowess and military
conduct came fresh into their forgetful mindsfor Timon had been
their general in past timesand a valiant and expert soldier
who alone of all the Athenians was deemed able to cope with a
besieging army such as then threatened themor to drive back the
furious approaches of Alcibiades.
A deputation of the senators was chosen in this emergency to wait
upon Timon. To him they come in their extremityto whomwhen he
was in extremitythey had shown but small regard; as if they
presumed upon his gratitude whom they had disobligedand had
derived a claim to his courtesy from their own most discourteous
and unpiteous treatment.
Now they earnestly beseech himimplore him with tearsto return
and save that city from which their ingratitude had so lately
driven him; now they offer him richespowerdignities
satisfaction for past injuriesand public honorsand the public
love; their personslivesand fortunes to be at his disposal
if he will but come back and save them. But Timon the naked
Timon the man-haterwas no longer Lord Timonthe lord of
bountythe flower of valortheir defense in wartheir ornament
in peace. If Alcibiades killed his countrymenTimon cared not.
If he sacked fair Athensand slew her old men and her infants
Timon would rejoice. So he told them; and that there was not a
knife in the unruly camp which he did not prize above the
reverendest throat in Athens.
This was all the answer he vouchsafed to the weeping
disappointed senators; only at parting he bade them commend him
to his countrymenand tell them that to ease them of their
griefs and anxietiesand to prevent the consequences of fierce
Alcibiades's wraththere was yet a way leftwhich he would
teach themfor he had yet so much affection left for his dear
countrymen as to be willing to do them a kindness before his
death. These words a little revived the senatorswho hoped that
his kindness for their city was returning. Then Timon told them
that he had a treewhich grew near his cavewhich he should
shortly have occasion to cut downand he invited all his friends
in Athenshigh or lowof whatsoever degreewho wished to shun
afflictionto come and take a taste of his tree before he cut it
down; meaning that they might come and hang themselves on it and
escape affliction that way.
And this was the last courtesyof all his noble bountieswhich
Timon showed to mankindand this the last sight of him which his
countrymen hadfor not many days aftera poor soldierpassing
by the sea-beach which was at a little distance from the woods
which Timon frequentedfound a tomb on the verge of the sea
with an inscription upon it purporting that it was the grave of
Timon the man-haterwho "While he liveddid hate all living
menanddyingwished a plague might consume all caitiffs
Whether he finished his life by violenceor whether mere
distaste of life and the loathing he had for mankind brought
Timon to his conclusionwas not clearyet all men admired the
fitness of his epitaph and the consistency of his enddyingas
he had liveda hater of mankind. And some there were who fancied
a conceit in the very choice which he had made of the sea-beach
for his place of burialwhere the vast sea might weep forever
upon his graveas in contempt of the transient and shallow tears
of hypocritical and deceitful mankind.
ROMEO AND JULIET
The two chief families in Verona were the rich Capulets and the
Montagues. There had been an old quarrel between these families
which was grown to such a heightand so deadly was the enmity
between themthat it extended to the remotest kindredto the
followers and retainers of both sidesin so much that a servant
of the house of Montague could not meet a servant of the house of
Capuletnor a Capulet encounter with a Montague by chancebut
fierce words and sometimes bloodshed ensued; and frequent were
the brawls from such accidental meetingswhich disturbed the
happy quiet of Verona's streets.
Old Lord Capulet made a great supperto which many fair ladies
and many noble guests were invited. All the admired beauties of
Verona were presentand all comers were made welcome if they
were not of the house of Montague. At this feast of Capulets
Rosalinebeloved of Romeoson to the old Lord Montaguewas
present; and though it was dangerous for a Montague to be seen in
this assemblyyet Benvolioa friend of Romeopersuaded the
young lord to go to this assembly in the disguise of a maskthat
he might see his Rosalineandseeing hercompare her with some
choice beauties of Veronawho (he said) would make him think his
swan a crow. Romeo had small faith in Benvolio's words;
neverthelessfor the love of Rosalinehe was persuaded to go.
For Romeo was a sincere and passionate loverand one that lost
his sleep for love and fled society to be alonethinking on
Rosalinewho disdained him and never requited his love with the
least show of courtesy or affection; and Benvolio wished to cure
his friend of this love by showing him diversity of ladies and
company. To this feast of Capuletsthenyoung Romeowith
Benvolio and their friend Mercutiowent masked. Old Capulet bid
them welcome and told them that ladies who had their toes
unplagued with corns would dance with them. And the old man was
light-hearted and merryand said that he had worn a mask when he
was young and could have told a whispering tale in a fair lady's
ear. And they fell to dancingand Romeo was suddenly struck with
the exceeding beauty of a lady who danced therewho seemed to
him to teach the torches to burn brightand her beauty to show
by night like a rich jewel worn by a blackamoor; beauty too rich
for usetoo dear for earth! like a snowy dove trooping with
crows (he said)so richly did her beauty and perfections shine
above the ladies her companions. While he uttered these praises
he was overheard by Tybalta nephew of Lord Capuletwho knew
him by his voice to be Romeo. And this Tybaltbeing of a fiery
and passionate tempercould not endure that a Montague should
come under cover of a maskto fleer and scorn (as he said) at
their solemnities. And he stormed and raged exceedinglyand
would have struck young Romeo dead. But his unclethe old Lord
Capuletwould not suffer him to do any injury at that timeboth
out of respect to his guests and because Romeo had borne himself
like a gentleman and all tongues in Verona bragged of him to be a
virtuous and well-governed youth. Tybaltforced to be patient
against his willrestrained himselfbut swore that this vile
Montague should at another time dearly pay for his intrusion.
The dancing being doneRomeo watched the place where the lady
stood; and under favor of his masking habitwhich might seem to
excuse in part the libertyhe presumed in the gentlest manner to
take her by the handcalling it a shrinewhich if he profaned
by touching ithe was a blushing pilgrim and would kiss it for
Good pilgrim,answered the ladyyour devotion shows by far
too mannerly and too courtly. Saints have hands which pilgrims
may touch but kiss not.
Have not saints lips, and pilgrims, too?said Romeo.
Aye,said the ladylips which they must use in prayer.
Oh, then, my dear saint,said Romeohear my prayer, and grant
it, lest I despair.
In such like allusions and loving conceits they were engaged when
the lady was called away to her mother. And Romeoinquiring who
her mother wasdiscovered that the lady whose peerless beauty he
was so much struck with was young Julietdaughter and heir to
the Lord Capuletthe great enemy of the Montagues; and that he
had unknowingly engaged his heart to his foe. This troubled him
but it could not dissuade him from loving. As little rest had
Juliet when she found that the gentle man that she had been
talking with was Romeo and a Montaguefor she had been suddenly
smit with the same hasty and inconsiderate passion for Romeo
which he had conceived for her; and a prodigious birth of love it
seemed to herthat she must love her enemy and that her
affections should settle therewhere family considerations
should induce her chiefly to hate.
It being midnightRomeo with his companions departed; but they
soon missed himforunable to stay away from the house where he
had left his hearthe leaped the wall of an orchard which was at
the back of Juliet's house. Here he had not been longruminating
on his new lovewhen Juliet appeared above at a windowthrough
which her exceeding beauty seemed to break like the light of the
sun in the east; and the moonwhich shone in the orchard with a
faint lightappeared to Romeo as if sick and pale with grief at
the superior luster of this new sun. And she leaning her cheek
upon her handhe passionately wished himself a glove upon that
handthat he might touch her cheek. She all this while thinking
herself alonefetched a deep sighand exclaimed:
Romeoenraptured to bear her speaksaidsoftly and unheard by
herOh, speak again, bright angel, for such you appear, being
over my head, like a winged messenger from heaven whom mortals
fall back to gaze upon.
Sheunconscious of being overheardand full of the new passion
which that night's adventure had given birth tocalled upon her
lover by name (whom she supposed absent). "O RomeoRomeo!" said
shewherefore art thou Romeo? Deny thy father and refuse thy
name, for my sake; or if thou wilt not, be but my sworn love, and
I no longer will be a Capulet.
Romeohaving this encouragementwould fain have spokenbut he
was desirous of hearing more; and the lady continued her
passionate discourse with herself (as she thought)still chiding
Romeo for being Romeo and a Montagueand wishing him some other
nameor that he would put away that hated nameand for that
name which was no part of himself he should take all herself. At
this loving word Romeo could no longer refrainbuttaking up
the dialogue as if her words had been addressed to him
personallyand not merely in fancyhe bade her call him Love
or by whatever other name she pleasedfor he was no longer
Romeoif that name was displeasing to her. Julietalarmed to
hear a man's voice in the gardendid not at first know who it
was that by favor of the night and darkness had thus stumbled
upon the discovery of her secret; but when he spoke againthough
her ears had not yet drunk a hundred words of that tongue's
utteringyet so nice is a lover's hearing that she immediately
knew him to be young Romeoand she expostulated with him on the
danger to which he had exposed himself by climbing the orchard
wallsfor if any of her kinsmen should find him there it would
be death to himbeing a Montague.
Alack!said Romeothere is more peril in your eye than in
twenty of their swords. Do you but look kind upon me, lady, and I
am proof against their enmity. Better my life should be ended by
their hate than that hated life should be prolonged to live
without your love.
How came you into this place,said Julietand by whose
Love directed me,answered Romeo. "I am no pilotyet 'wert
thou as far apart from me as that vast shore which is washed with
the farthest seaI should venture for such merchandise."
A crimson blush came over Juliet's faceyet unseen by Romeo by
reason of the nightwhen she reflected upon the discovery which
she had madeyet not meaning to make itof her love to Romeo.
She would fain have recalled her wordsbut that was impossible;
fain would she have stood upon formand have kept her lover at a
distanceas the custom of discreet ladies isto frown and be
perverse and give their suitors harsh denials at first; to stand
offand affect a coyness or indifference where they most love
that their lovers may not think them too lightly or too easily
won; for the difficulty of attainment increases the value of the
object. But there was no room in her case for denialsor
puttings offor any of the customary arts of delay and
protracted courtship. Romeo had heard from her own tonguewhen
she did not dream that he was near hera confession of her love.
So with an honest frankness which the novelty of her situation
excused she confirmed the truth of what he had before heardand
addressing him by the name of FAIR MONTAGUE (love can sweeten a
sour name)she begged him not to impute her easy yielding to
levity or an unworthy mindbut that he must lay the fault of it
(if it were a fault) upon the accident of the night which had so
strangely discovered her thoughts. And she addedthat though her
behavior to him might not be sufficiently prudentmeasured by
the custom of her sexyet that she would prove more true than
many whose prudence was dissemblingand their modesty artificial
Romeo was beginning to call the heavens to witness that nothing
was farther from his thoughts than to impute a shadow of dishonor
to such an honored ladywhen she stopped himbegging him not to
swear; for although she joyed in himyet she had no joy of that
night's contract--it was too rashtoo unadvisedtoo sudden. But
he being urgent with her to exchange a vow of love with him that
nightshe said that she already had given him hers before he
requested itmeaningwhen he overheard her confession; but she
would retract what she then bestowedfor the pleasure of giving
it againfor her bounty was as infinite as the seaand her love
as deep. From this loving conference she was called away by her
nursewho slept with her and thought it time for her to be in
bedfor it was near to daybreak; buthastily returningshe
said three or four words more to Romeo the purport of which was
that if his love was indeed honorableand his purpose marriage
she would send a messenger to him to-morrow to appoint a time for
their marriagewhen she would lay all her fortunes at his feet
and follow him as her lord through the world. While they were
settling this point Juliet was repeatedly called for by her
nurseand went in and returnedand went and returned againfor
she seemed as jealous of Romeo going from her as a young girl of
her birdwhich she will let hop a little from her hand and pluck
it back with a silken thread; and Romeo was as loath to part as
shefor the sweetest music to lovers is the sound of each
other's tongues at night. But at last they partedwishing
mutually sweet sleep and rest for that night.
The day was breaking when they partedand Romeowho was too
full of thoughts of his mistress and that blessed meeting to
allow him to sleepinstead of going homebent his course to a
monastery hard byto find Friar Lawrence. The good friar was
already up at his devotionsbutseeing young Romeo abroad so
earlyhe conjectured rightly that he had not been abed that
nightbut that some distemper of youthful affection had kept him
waking. He was right in imputing the cause of Romeo's wakefulness
to lovebut he made a wrong guess at the objectfor he thought
that his love for Rosaline had kept him waking. But when Romeo
revealed his new passion for Julietand requested the assistance
of the friar to marry them that daythe holy man lifted up his
eyes and hands in a sort of wonder at the sudden change in
Romeo's affectionsfor he had been privy to all Romeo's love for
Rosaline and his many complaints of her disdain; and he said that
young men's love lay not truly in their heartsbut in their
eyes. But Romeo replying that he himself had often chidden him
for doting on Rosalinewho could not love him againwhereas
Juliet both loved and was beloved by himthe friar assented in
some measure to his reasons; and thinking that a matrimonial
alliance between young Juliet and Romeo might happily be the
means of making up the long breach between the Capulets and the
Montagueswhich no one more lamented than this good friar who
was a friend to both the families and had often interposed his
mediation to make up the quarrel without effect; partly moved by
policyand partly by his fondness for young Romeoto whom he
could deny nothingthe old man consented to join their hands in
Now was Romeo blessed indeedand Julietwho knew his intent
from a messenger which she had despatched according to promise
did not fail to be early at the cell of Friar Lawrencewhere
their hands were joined in holy marriagethe good friar praying
the heavens to smile upon that actand in the union of this
young Montague and young Capuletto bury the old strife and long
dissensions of their families.
The ceremony being overJuliet hastened homewhere she stayed
impatient for the coming of nightat which time Romeo promised
to come and meet her in the orchardwhere they had met the night
before; and the time between seemed as tedious to her as the
night before some great festival seems to an impatient child that
has got new finery which it may not put on till the morning.
That same dayabout noonRomeo's friendsBenvolio and
Mercutiowalking through the streets of Veronawere met by a
party of the Capulets with the impetuous Tybalt at their head.
This was the same angry Tybalt who would have fought with Romeo
at old Lord Capulet's feast. Heseeing Mercutioaccused him
bluntly of associating with Romeoa Montague. Mercutiowho had
as much fire and youthful blood in him as Tybaltreplied to this
accusation with some sharpness; and in spite of all Benvolio
could say to moderate their wrath a quarrel was beginning when
Romeo himself passing that waythe fierce Tybalt turned from
Mercutio to Romeoand gave him the disgraceful appellation of
villain. Romeo wished to avoid a quarrel with Tybalt above all
menbecause he was the kinsman of Juliet and much beloved by
her; besidesthis young Montague had never thoroughly entered
into the family quarrelbeing by nature wise and gentleand the
name of a Capuletwhich was his dear lady's namewas now rather
a charm to allay resentment than a watchword to excite fury. So
he tried to reason with Tybaltwhom he saluted mildly by the
name of GOOD CAPULETas if hethough a Montaguehad some
secret pleasure in uttering that name; but Tybaltwho hated all
Montagues as he hated hellwould hear no reasonbut drew his
weapon; and Mercutiowho knew not of Romeo's secret motive for
desiring peace with Tybaltbut looked upon his present
forbearance as a sort of calm dishonorable submissionwith many
disdainful words provoked Tybalt to the prosecution of his first
quarrel with him; and Tybalt and Mercutio foughttill Mercutio
fellreceiving his death's wound while Romeo and Benvolio were
vainly endeavoring to part the combatants. Mercutio being dead
Romeo kept his temper no longerbut returned the scornful
appellation of villain which Tybalt had given himand they
fought till Tybalt was slain by Romeo. This deadly broil falling
out in the midst of Verona at noondaythe news of it quickly
brought a crowd of citizens to the spot and among them the Lords
Capulet and Montaguewith their wives; and soon after arrived
the prince himselfwhobeing related to Mercutiowhom Tybalt
had slainand having had the peace of his government often
disturbed by these brawls of Montagues and Capuletscame
determined to put the law in strictest force against those who
should be found to be offenders. Benvoliowho had been
eye-witness to the fraywas commanded by the prince to relate
the origin of it; which he didkeeping as near the truth as he
could without injury to Romeosoftening and excusing the part
which his friends took in it. Lady Capuletwhose extreme grief
for the loss of her kinsman Tybalt made her keep no bounds in her
revengeexhorted the prince to do strict justice upon his
murdererand topay no attention to Benvolio's representation
whobeing Romeo's friend and a Montaguespoke partially. Thus
she pleaded against her new son-in-lawbut she knew not yet that
he was her son-in-law and Juliet's husband. On the other hand was
to be seen Lady Montague pleading for her child's lifeand
arguing with some justice that Romeo had done nothing worthy of
punishment in taking the life of Tybaltwhich was already
forfeited to the law by his having slain Mercutio. The prince
unmoved by the passionate exclamations of these womenon a
careful examination of the facts pronounced his sentenceand by
that sentence Romeo was banished from Verona.
Heavy news to young Julietwho had been but a few hours a bride
and now by this decree seemed everlastingly divorced! When the
tidings reached hershe at first gave way to rage against Romeo
who had slain her dear cousin. She called him a beautiful tyrant
a fiend angelicala ravenous dovea lamb with a wolf's nature
a serpent-heart hid with a flowering faceand otherlike
contradictory nameswhich denoted the struggles in her mind
between her love and her resentment. But in the end love got the
masteryand the tears which she shed for grief that Romeo had
slain her cousin turned to drops of joy that her husband lived
whom Tybalt would have slain. Then came fresh tearsand they
were altogether of grief for Romeo's banishment. That word was
more terrible to her than the death of many Tybalts.
Romeoafter the frayhad taken refuge in Friar Lawrence's cell
where he was first made acquainted with the prince's sentence
which seemed to him far more terrible than death. To him it
appeared there was no world out of Verona's wallsno living out
of the sight of Juliet. Heaven was there where Juliet livedand
all beyond was purgatorytorturehell. The good friar would
have applied the consolation of philosophy to his griefs; but
this frantic young man would hear of nonebut like a madman he
tore his hair and threw himself all along upon the groundas he
saidto take the measure of his grave. From this unseemly state
he was roused by a message from his dear lady which a little
revived him; and then the friar took the advantage to expostulate
with him on the unmanly weakness which he had shown. He had slain
Tybaltbut would he also slay himselfslay his dear ladywho
lived but in his life? The noble form of manhe saidwas but a
shape of wax when it wanted the courage which should keep it
firm. The law had been lenient to him that instead of death
which he had incurredhad pronounced by the prince's mouth only
banishment. He had slain Tybaltbut Tybalt would have slain
him-there was a sort of happiness in that. Juliet was alive and
(beyond all hope) had become his dear wife; therein he was most
happy. All these blessingsas the friar made them out to bedid
Romeo put from him like a sullen misbehaved wench. And the friar
bade him bewarefor such as despaired (he said) died miserable.
Then when Romeo was a little calmed he counseled him that he
should go that night and secretly take his leave of Julietand
thence proceed straightway to Mantuaat which place he should
sojourn till the friar found fit occasion to publish his
marriagewhich might be a joyful means of reconciling their
families; and then he did not doubt but the prince would be moved
to pardon himand he would return with twenty times more joy
than he went forth with grief. Romeo was convinced by these wise
counsels of the friarand took his leave to go and seek his
ladyproposing to stay with her that nightand by daybreak
pursue his journey alone to Mantua; to which place the good friar
promised to send him letters from time to timeacquainting him
with the state of affairs at home.
That night Romeo passed with his dear wifegaining secret
admission to her chamber from the orchard in which he had heard
her confession of love the night before. That had been a night of
unmixed joy and rapture; but the pleasures of this night and the
delight which these lovers took in each other's society were
sadly allayed with the prospect of parting and the fatal
adventures of the past day. The unwelcome daybreak seemed to come
too soonand when Juliet heard the morning song of the lark she
would have persuaded herself that it was the nightingalewhich
sings by night; but it was too truly the lark which sangand a
discordant and unpleasing note it seemed to her; and the streaks
of day in the east too certainly pointed out that it was time for
these lovers to part. Romeo took his leave of his dear wife with
a heavy heartpromising to write to her from Mantua every hour
in the day; and when he had descended from her chamber windowas
he stood below her on the groundin that sad foreboding state of
mind in which she washe appeared to her eyes as one dead in the
bottom of a tomb. Romeo's mind misgave him in like manner. But
now he was forced hastily to departfor it was death for him to
be found within the walls of Verona after daybreak.
This was but the beginning of the tragedy of this pair of starcrossed
lovers. Romeo had not been gone many days before the old
Lord Capulet proposed a match for Juliet. The husband he had
chosen for hernot dreaming that she was married alreadywas
Count Parisa gallantyoungand noble gentlemanno unworthy
suitor to the young Juliet if she had never seen Romeo.
The terrified Juliet was in a sad perplexity at her father's
offer. She pleaded her youth unsuitable to marriagethe recent
death of Tybaltwhich had left her spirits too weak to meet a
husband with any face of joyand how indecorous it would show
for the family of the Capulets to be celebrating a nuptial feast
when his funeral solemnities were hardly over. She pleaded every
reason against the match but the true onenamelythat she was
married already. But Lord Capulet was deaf to all her excuses
and in a peremptory manner ordered her to get readyfor by the
following Thursday she should be married to Paris. And having
found her a husbandrichyoungand noblesuch as the proudest
maid in Verona might joyfully accepthe could not bear that out
of an affected coynessas he construed her denialshe should
oppose obstacles to her own good fortune.
In this extremity Juliet applied to the friendly friaralways a
counselor in distressand he asking her if she had resolution to
undertake a desperate remedyand she answering that she would go
into the grave alive rather than marry Parisher own dear
husband livinghe directed her to go homeand appear merryand
give her consent to marry Parisaccording to her father's
desireand on the next nightwhich was the night before the
marriageto drink off the contents of a vial which he then gave
herthe effect of which would be that for two-and-forty hours
after drinking it she should appear cold and lifelessand when
the bridegroom came to fetch her in the morning he would find her
to appearance dead; that then she would be borneas the manner
in that country wasuncovered on a bierto be buried in the
family vault; that if she could put off womanish fearand
consent to this terrible trialin forty-two hours after
swallowing the liquid (such was its certain operation) she would
be sure to awakeas from a dream; and before she should awake he
would let her husband know their driftand he should come in the
night and bear her thence to Mantua. Loveand the dread of
marrying Parisgave young Juliet strength to undertake this
horrible adventure; and she took the vial of the friarpromising
to observe his directions.
Going from the monasteryshe met the young Count Parisand
modestly dissemblingpromised to become his bride. This was
joyful news to the Lord Capulet and his wife. It seemed to put
youth into the old man; and Julietwho had displeased him
exceedingly by her refusal of the countwas his darling again
now she promised to be obedient. All things in the house were in
a bustle against the approaching nuptials. No cost was spared to
prepare such festival rejoicings as Verona had never before
On the Wednesday night Juliet drank off the potion. She had many
misgivings lest the friarto avoid the blame which might be
imputed to him for marrying her to Romeohad given her poison;
but then he was always known for a holy man. Then lest she should
awake before the time that Romeo was to come for her; whether the
terror of the placea vault full of dead Capulets' bonesand
where Tybaltall bloodylay festering in his shroudwould not
be enough to drive her distracted. Again she thought of all the
stories she had heard of spirits haunting the places where their
bodies were bestowed. But then her love for Romeo and her
aversion for Paris returnedand she desperately swallowed the
draught and became insensible.
When young Paris came early in the morning with music to awaken
his brideinstead of a living Juliet her chamber presented the
dreary spectacle of a lifeless corse. What death to his hopes!
What confusion then reigned through the whole house! Poor Paris
lamenting his bridewhom most detestable death had beguiled him
ofhad divorced from him even before their hands were joined.
But still more piteous it was to hear the mournings of the old
Lord and Lady Capuletwho having but this oneone poor loving
child to rejoice and solace incruel death had snatched her from
their sightjust as these careful parents were on the point of
seeing her advanced (as they thought) by a promising and
advantageous match. Now all things that were ordained for the
festival were turned from their properties to do the office of a
black funeral. The wedding cheer served for a sad burial feast
the bridal hymns were changed for sullen dirgesthe sprightly
instruments to melancholy.bellsand the flowers that should have
been strewed in the bride's path now served but to strew her
corse. Nowinstead of a priest to marry hera priest was needed
to bury herand she was borne to church indeednot to augment
the cheerful hopes of the livingbut to swell the dreary numbers
of the dead.
Bad newswhich always travels faster than goodnow brought the
dismal story of his Juliet's death to Romeoat Mantuabefore
the messenger could arrive who was sent from Friar Lawrence to
apprise him that these were mock funerals onlyand but the
shadow and representation of deathand that his dear lady lay in
the tomb but for a short whileexpecting when Romeo would come
to release her from that dreary mansion. Just beforeRomeo had
been unusually joyful and light-hearted. He had dreamed in the
night that he was dead (a strange dreamthat gave a dead man
leave to think) and that his lady came and found him deadand
breathed such life with kisses in his lips that he revived and
was an emperor! And now that a messenger came from Veronahe
thought surely it was to confirm some good news which his dreams
had presaged. But when the contrary to this flattering vision
appearedand that it was his lady who was dead in truthwhom he
could not revive by any kisseshe ordered horses to be got
readyfor he determined that night to visit Verona and to see
his lady in her tomb. And as mischief is swift to enter into the
thoughts of desperate menhe called to mind a poor apothecary
whose shop in Mantua he had lately passedand from the beggarly
appearance of the manwho seemed famishedand the wretched show
in his show of empty boxes ranged on dirty shelvesand other
tokens of extreme wretchednesshe had said at the time (perhaps
having some misgivings that his own disastrous life might haply
meet with a conclusion so desperate):
If a man were to need poison, which by the law of Mantua it is
death to sell, here lives a poor wretch who would sell it him.
These words of his now came into his mind and he sought out the
apothecarywho after some pretended scruplesRomeo offering him
goldwhich his poverty could not resistsold him a poison
whichif he swallowedhe told himif he had the strength of
twenty menwould quickly despatch him.
With this poison he set out for Veronato have a sight of his
dear lady in her tombmeaningwhen he had satisfied his sight
to swallow the poison and be buried by her side. He reached
Verona at midnightand found the churchyard in the midst of
which was situated the ancient tomb of the Capulets. He had
provided a lightand a spadeand wrenching-ironand was
proceeding to break open the monument when he was interrupted by
a voicewhich by the name of VILE MONTAGUE bade him desist from
his unlawful business. It was the young Count Pariswho had come
to the tomb of Juliet at that unseasonable time of night to strew
flowers and to weep over the grave of her that should have been
his bride. He knew not what an interest Romeo had in the dead
butknowing him to be a Montague and (as he supposed) a sworn
foe to all the Capuletshe judged that he was come by night to
do some villainous shame to the dead bodies; therefore in an
angry tone he bade him desist; and as a criminalcondemned by
the laws of Verona to die if he were found within the walls of
the cityhe would have apprehended him. Romeo urged Paris to
leave himand warned him by the fate of Tybaltwho lay buried
therenot to provoke his anger or draw down another sin upon his
head by forcing him to kill him. But the count in scorn refused
his warningand laid hands on him as a felonwhichRomeo
resistingthey foughtand Paris fell. When Romeoby the help
of a lightcame to see who it was that he had slainthat it was
Pariswho (he learned in his way from Mantua) should have
married Juliethe took the dead youth by the handas one whom
misfortune had made a companionand said that he would bury him
in a triumphal gravemeaning in Juliet's gravewhich he now
opened. And there lay his ladyas one whom death had no power
upon to change a feature or complexionin her matchless beauty;
or as if death were amorousand the leanabhorred monster kept
her there for his delight; for she lay yet fresh and bloomingas
she had fallen to sleep when she swallowed that benumbing potion;
and near her lay Tybalt in his bloody shroudwhom Romeo seeing
begged pardon of his lifeless corseand for Juliet's sake called
him COUSINand said that he was about to do him a favor by
putting his enemy to death. Here Romeo took his last leave of his
lady's lipskissing them; and here he shook the burden of his
cross stars from his weary bodyswallowing that poison which the
apothecary had sold himwhose operation was fatal and realnot
like that dissembling potion which Juliet had swallowedthe
effect of which was now nearly expiringand she about to awake
to complain that Romeo had not kept his timeor that he had come
For now the hour was arrived at which the friar had promised that
she should awake; and hehaving learned that his letters which
he had sent to Mantuaby some unlucky detention of the
messengerhad never reached Romeocame himselfprovided with a
pickax and lanternto deliver the lady from her confinement; but
he was surprised to find a light already burning in the Capulets'
monumentand to see swords and blood near itand Romeo and
Paris lying breathless by the monument
Before he could entertain a conjectureto imagine how these
fatal accidents had fallen outJuliet awoke out of her trance
andseeing the friar near hershe remembered the place where
she wasand the occasion of her being thereand asked for
Romeobut the friarhearing a noisebade her come out of that
place of death and of unnatural sleepfor a greater power than
they could contradict had thwarted their intents; andbeing
frightened by the noise of people cominghe fled. But when
Juliet saw the cup closed in her true love's handsshe guessed
that poison had been the cause of his endand she would have
swallowed the dregs if any had been leftand she kissed his
still warm lips to try if any poison yet did hang upon them; then
hearing a nearer noise of people comingshe quickly unsheathed a
dagger which she woreandstabbing herselfdied by her true
The watch by this time had come up to the place. A page belonging
to Count Pariswho had witnessed the fight between his master
and Romeohad given the alarmwhich had spread among the
citizenswho went up and down the streets of Verona confusedly
exclaimingA Paris! a Romeo! a Juliet!as the rumor had
imperfectly reached themtill the uproar brought Lord Montague
and Lord Capulet out of their bedswith the princeto inquire
into the causes of the disturbance. The friar had been
apprehended by some of the watchcoming from the churchyard
tremblingsighingand weeping in a suspicious manner. A great
multitude being assembled at the Capulets' monumentthe friar
was demanded by the prince to deliver what he knew of these
strange and disastrous accidents.
And therein the presence of the old Lords Montague and Capulet
he faithfully related the story of their children's fatal love
the part he took in promoting their marriagein the hope in that
union to end the long quarrels between their families; how Romeo
there deadwas husband to Julietand Julietthere deadwas
Romeo's faithful wife; howbefore he could find a fit
opportunity to divulge their marriageanother match was
projected for Julietwhoto avoid the crime of a second
marriageswallowed the sleeping-draught (as he advised)and all
thought her dead; how meantime he wrote to Romeo to come and take
her thence when the force of the potion should ceaseand by what
unfortunate miscarriage of the messenger the letters never
reached Romeo. Further than this the friar could not follow the
storynor knew more than thatcoming himself to deliver Juliet
from that place of deathhe found the Count Paris and Romeo
slain. The remainder of the transactions was supplied by the
narration of the page who had seen Paris and Romeo fightand by
the servant who came with Romeo from Veronato whom this
faithful lover had given letters to be delivered to his father in
the event of his deathwhich made good the friar's words
confessing his marriage with Julietimploring the forgiveness of
his parentsacknowledging the buying of the poison of the poor
apothecary and his intent in coming to the monument to die and
lie with Juliet. All these circumstances agreed together to clear
the friar from any hand he could be supposed to have in these
complicated slaughtersfurther than as the unintended
consequences of his own well-meantyet too artificial and subtle
And the princeturning to these old lordsMontague and Capulet
rebuked them for their brutal and irrational enmitiesand showed
them what a scourge Heaven had laid upon such offensesthat it
had found means even through the love of their children to punish
their unnatural hate. And these old rivalsno longer enemies
agreed to bury their long strife in their children's graves; and
Lord Capulet requested Lord Montague to give him his hand
calling him by the name of brotheras if in acknowledgment of
the union of their families by the marriage of the young Capulet
and Montague; and saying that Lord Montague's hand (in token of
reconcilement) was all he demanded for his daughter's jointure.
But Lord Montague said he would give him morefor he would raise
her a statue of pure gold thatwhile Verona kept its nameno
figure should be so esteemed for its richness and workmanship as
that of the true and faithful Juliet. And Lord Capulet in return
said that he would raise another statue to Romeo. So did these
poor old lordswhen it was too latestrive to outgo each other
in mutual courtesies; while so deadly had been their rage and
enmity in past times that nothing but the fearful overthrow of
their children (poor sacrifices to their quarrels and
dissensions) could remove the rooted hates and jealousies of the
HAMLETPRINCE OF DENMARK
GertrudeQueen of Denmarkbecoming a widow by the sudden death
of King Hamletin less than two months after his death married
his brother Claudiuswhich was noted by all people at the tim
for a strange act of indiscretionor unfeelingnessor worse;
for this Claudius did no way resemble her late husband in the
qualities of his person or his mindbut was as contemptible in
outward appearance as he was base and unworthy in disposition;
and suspicions did not fail to arise in the minds of some that he
had privately made away with his brotherthe late kingwith the
view of marrying his widow and ascending the throne of Denmark
to the exclusion of young Hamletthe son of the buried king and
lawful successor to the throne.
But upon no one did this unadvised action of the queen make such
impression as upon this young princewho loved and venerated the
memory of his dead father almost to idolatryandbeing of a
nice sense of honor and a most exquisite practiser of propriety
himselfdid sorely take to heart this unworthy conduct of his
mother Gertrude; in so much thatbetween grief for his father's
death and shame for his mother's marriagethis young prince was
overclouded with a deep melancholyand lost all his mirth and
all his good looks; all his customary pleasure in books forsook
himhis princely exercises and sportsproper to his youthwere
no longer acceptable; he grew weary of the worldwhich seemed to
him an unweeded gardenwhere all the wholesome flowers were
choked up and nothing but weeds could thrive. Not that the
prospect of exclusion from the thronehis lawful inheritance
weighed so much upon his spiritsthough that to a young and
high-minded prince was a bitter wound and a sore indignity; but
what so galled him and took away all his cheerful spirits was
that his mother had shown herself so forgetful to his father's
memoryand such a father! who had been to her so loving and so
gentle a husband! and then she always appeared as loving and
obedient a wife to himand would hang upon him as if her
affection grew to him. And now within two monthsoras it
seemed to young Hamletless than two monthsshe had married
againmarried his uncleher dear husband's brotherin itself a
highly improper and unlawful marriagefrom the nearness of
relationshipbut made much more so by the indecent haste with
which it was concluded and the unkingly character of the man whom
she had chosen to be the partner of her throne and bed. This it
was which more than the loss of ten kingdoms dashed the spirits
and brought a cloud over the mind of this honorable young prince.
In vain was all that his mother Gertrude or the king could do to
contrive to divert him; he still appeared in court in a suit of
deep blackas mourning for the king his father's deathwhich
mode of dress he had never laid asidenot even in compliment to
his mother upon the day she was marriednor could he be brought
to join in any of the festivities or rejoicings of that (as
appeared to him) disgraceful day.
What mostly troubled him was an uncertainty about the manner of
his father's death. It was given out by Claudius that a serpent
had stung him; but young Hamlet had shrewd suspicions that
Claudius himself was the serpent; in plain Englishthat he had
murdered him for his crownand that the serpent who stung his
father did now sit on the throne.
How far he was right in this conjecture and what he ought to
think of his motherhow far she was privy to this murder and
whether by her consent or knowledgeor withoutit came to pass
were the doubts which continually harassed and distracted him.
A rumor had reached the ear of young Hamlet that an apparition
exactly resembling the dead king his fatherhad been seen by the
soldiers upon watchon the platform before the palace at
midnightfor two or three nights successively. The figure came
constantly clad in the same suit of armorfrom head to foot
which the dead king was known to have worn. And they who saw it
(Hamlet's bosom friend Horatio was one) agreed in their testimony
as to the time and manner of its appearance that it came just as
the clock struck twelve; that it looked palewith a face more of
sorrow than of anger; that its beard was grislyand the color a
SABLE SILVEREDas they had seen it in his lifetime; that it
made no answer when they spoke to it; yet once they thought it
lifted up its head and addressed itself to motionas if it were
about to speak; but in that moment the morning cock crew and it
shrank in haste awayand vanished out of their sight.
The young princestrangely amazed at their relationwhich was
too consistent and agreeing with itself to disbelieveconcluded
that it was his father's ghost which they had seenand
determined to take his watch with the soldiers that nightthat
he might have a chance of seeing it; for he reasoned with himself
that such an appearance did not come for nothingbut that the
ghost had something to impartand though it had been silent
hithertoyet it would speak to him. And he waited with
impatience for the coming of night.
When night came he took his stand with Horatioand Marcellus
one of the guardupon the platformwhere this apparition was
accustomed to walk; and it being a cold nightand the air
unusually raw and nippingHamlet and Horatio and their companion
fell into some talk about the coldness of the nightwhich was
suddenly broken off by Horatio announcing that the ghost was
At the sight of his father's spirit Hamlet was struck with a
sudden surprise and fear.' He at first called upon the angels and
heavenly ministers to defend themfor he knew not whether it
were a good spirit or badwhether it came for good or evil; but
he gradually assumed more courage; and his father (as it seemed
to him) looked upon him so piteouslyand as it were desiring to
have conversation with himand did in all respects appear so
like himself as he was when he livedthat Hamlet could not help
addressing him. He called him by his nameHamlet, King,
Father!and conjured him that he would tell the reason why he
had left his gravewhere they had seen him quietly bestowedto
come again and visit the earth and the moonlight; and besought
him that he would let them know if there was anything which they
could do to give peace to his spirit. And the ghost beckoned to
Hamletthat he should go with him to some more removed place
where they might be alone; and Horatio and Marcellus would have
dissuaded the young prince from following itfor they feared
lest it should be some evil spirit who would tempt him to the
neighboring sea or to the top of some dreadful cliffand there
put on some horrible shape which might deprive the prince of his
reason. But their counsels and entreaties could not alter
Hamlet's determinationwho cared too little about life to fear
the losing of it; and as to his soulhe saidwhat could the
spirit do to thatbeing a thing immortal as itself? And he felt
as hardy as a lionandbursting from themwho did all they
could to hold himhe followed whithersoever the spirit led him.
And when they were alone togetherthe spirit broke silence and
told him that he was the ghost of Hamlethis fatherwho had
been cruelly murderedand he told the manner of it; that it was
done by his own brother ClaudiusHamlet's uncleas Hamlet had
already but too much suspectedfor the hope of succeeding to his
bed and crown. That as he was sleeping in his gardenhis custom
always in the afternoonhis treasonous brother stole upon him in
his sleep and poured the juice of poisonous henbane into his
earswhich has such an antipathy to the life of man thatswift
as quicksilverit courses through all the veins of the body
baking up the blood and spreading a crust-like leprosy all over
the skin. Thus sleepingby a brother's hand he was cut off at
once from his crownhis queenand his life; and he adjured
Hamletif he did ever his dear father lovethat he would
revenge his foul murder. And the ghost lamented to his son that
his mother should so fall off from virtue as to prove false to
the wedded love of her first husband and to marry his murderer;
but he cautioned Hamlethowsoever he proceeded in his revenge
against his wicked uncleby no means to act any violence against
the person of his motherbut to leave her to Heavenand to the
stings and thorns of conscience. And Hamlet promised to observe
the ghost's direction in all thingsand the ghost vanished.
And when Hamlet was left alone he took up a solemn resolution
that all he had in his memoryall that he had ever learned by
books or observationshould be instantly forgotten by himand
nothing live in his brain but the memory of what the ghost had
told him and enjoined him to do. And Hamlet related the
particulars of the conversation which had passed to none but his
dear friend Horatio; and he enjoined both to him and Marcellus
the strictest secrecy as to what they had seen that night.
The terror which the sight of the ghost had left upon the senses
of Hamlethe being weak and dispirited beforealmost unhinged
his mind and drove him beside his reason. And hefearing that it
would continue to have this effectwhich might subject him to
observation and set his uncle upon his guardif he suspected
that he was meditating anything against himor that Hamlet
really knew more of his father's death than he professedtook up
a strange resolutionfrom that time to counterfeit as if he were
really and truly mad; thinking that he would be less an object of
suspicion when his uncle should believe him incapable of any
serious projectand that his real perturbation of mind would be
best covered and pass concealed under a disguise of pretended
From this time Hamlet affected a certain wildness and strangeness
in his apparelhis speechand behaviorand did so excellently
counterfeit the madman that the king and queen were both
deceivedand not thinking his grief for his father's death a
sufficient cause to produce such a distemperfor they knew not
of the appearance of the ghostthey concluded that his malady
was love and they thought they had found out the object.
Before Hamlet fell into the melancholy way which has been
related he had dearly loved a fair maid called Opheliathe
daughter of Poloniusthe king's chief counselor in affairs of
state. He had sent her letters and ringsand made many tenders
of his affection to herand importuned her with love in
honorable fashion; and she had given belief to his vows and
importunities. But the melancholy which he fell into latterly
had made him neglect herand from the time he conceived the
project of counterfeiting madness he affected to treat her with
unkindness and a sort of rudeness; but shegood ladyrather
than reproach him with being false to herpersuaded herself that
it was nothing but the disease in his mindand no settled
unkindnesswhich had made him less observant of her than
formerly; and she compared the faculties of his once noble mind
and excellent understandingimpaired as they were with the deep
melancholy that oppressed himto sweet bells which in themselves
are capable of most exquisite musicbut when jangled out of
tuneor rudely handledproduce only a harsh and unpleasing
Though the rough business which Hamlet had in handthe revenging
of his father's death upon his murdererdid not suit with the
playful state of courtshipor admit of the society of so idle a
passion as love now seemed to himyet it could not hinder but
that soft thoughts of his Ophelia would come betweenand in one
of these momentswhen he thought that his treatment of this
gentle lady had been unreasonably harshhe wrote her a letter
full of wild starts of passionand in extravagant termssuch as
agreed with his supposed madnessbut mixed with some gentle
touches of affectionwhich could not but show to this honored
lady that a deep love for her yet lay at the bottom of his heart.
He bade her to doubt the stars were fireand to doubt that the
sun did moveto doubt truth to be a liarbut never to doubt
that he loved; with more of such extravagant phrases. This letter
Ophelia dutifully showed to her fatherand the old man thought
himself bound to communicate it to the king and queenwho from
that time supposed that the true cause of Hamlet's madness was
love. And the queen wished that the good beauties of Ophelia
might be the happy cause of his wildnessfor so she hoped that
her virtues might happily restore him to his accustomed way
againto both their honors.
But Hamlet's malady lay deeper than she supposedor than could
be so cured. His father's ghostwhich he had seenstill haunted
his imaginationand the sacred injunction to revenge his murder
gave him no rest till it was accomplished. Every hour of delay
seemed to him a sin and a violation of his father's commands. Yet
how to compass the death of the kingsurrounded as he constantly
was with his guardswas no easy matter. Or if it had beenthe
presence of the queenHamlet's motherwho was generally with
the kingwas a restraint upon his purposewhich he could not
break through. Besidesthe very circumstance that the usurper
was his mother's husbandfilled him with some remorse and still
blunted the edge of his purpose. The mere act of putting a
fellow-creature to death was in itself odious and terrible to a
disposition naturally so gentle as Hamlet's was. His very
melancholyand the dejection of spirits he had so long been ill
produced an irresoluteness and wavering of purpose which kept him
from proceeding to extremities. Moreoverhe could not help
having some scruples upon his mindwhether the spirit which he
had seen was indeed his fatheror whether it might not be the
devilwho he had heard has power to take any form he pleases
and who might have assumed his father's shape only to take
advantage of his weakness and his melancholyto drive him to the
doing of so desperate an act as murder. And he determined that he
would have more certain grounds to go upon than a visionor
apparitionwhich might be a delusion.
While he was in this irresolute mind there came to the court
certain playersin whom Hamlet formerly used to take delight
and particularly to hear one of them speak a tragical speech
describing the death of old PriamKing of Troywith the grief
of Hecuba his queen. Hamlet welcomed his old friendsthe
playersand remembering how that speech had formerly given him
pleasurerequested the player to repeat it; which he did in so
lively a mannersetting forth the cruel murder of the feeble old
kingwith the destruction of his people and city by fireand
the mad grief of the old queenrunning barefoot up and down the
palacewith a poor clout upon that head where a crown had been
and with nothing but a blanket upon her loinssnatched up in
hastewhere she had worn a royal robe; that not only it drew
tears from all that stood bywho thought they saw the real
sceneso lively was it representedbut even the player himself
delivered it with a broken voice and real tears. This put Hamlet
upon thinkingif that player could so work himself up to passion
by a mere fictitious speechto weep for one that he had never
seenfor Hecubathat had been dead so many hundred yearshow
dull was hewho having a real motive and cue for passiona real
king and a dear father murderedwas yet so little moved that his
revenge all this while had seemed to have slept in dull and muddy
forgetfulness! and while he meditated on actors and actingand
the powerful effects which a good playrepresented to the life
has upon the spectatorhe remembered the instance of some
murdererwhoseeing a murder on the stagewas by the mere
force of the scene and resemblance of circumstances so affected
that on the spot he confessed the crime which he had committed.
And he determined that these players should play something like
the murder of his father before his uncleand he would watch
narrowly what effect it might have upon himand from his looks
he would be able to gather with more certainty if he were the
murderer or not. To this effect he ordered a play to be prepared
to the representation of which he invited the king and queen.
The story of the play was of a murder done in Vienna upon a duke.
The duke's name was Gonzagohis wife's Baptista. The play showed
how one Lucianusa near relation to the dukepoisoned him in
his garden for his estateand how the murderer in a short time
after got the love of Gonzago's wife.
At the representation of this playthe kingwho did not know
the trap which was laid for himwas presentwith his queen and
the whole court; Hamlet sitting attentively near him to observe
his looks. The play began with a conversation between Gonzago and
his wifein which the lady made many protestations of loveand
of never marrying a second husband if she should outlive Gonzago
wishing she might be accursed if she ever took a second husband
and adding that no woman did so but those wicked women who kill
their first husbands. Hamlet observed the king his uncle change
color at this expressionand that it was as bad as wormwood both
to him and to the queen. But when Lucianusaccording to the
storycame to poison Gonzago sleeping in the gardenthe strong
resemblance which it bore to his own wicked act upon the late
kinghis brotherwhom he had poisoned in his gardenso struck
upon the conscience of this usurper that he was unable to sit out
the rest of the playbut on a sudden calling for lights to his
chamberand affecting or partly feeling a sudden sicknesshe
abruptly left the theater. The king being departedthe play was
given over. Now Hamlet had seen enough to be satisfied that the
words of the ghost were true and no illusion; and in a fit of
gaietylike that which comes over a man who suddenly has some
great doubt or scruple resolvedhe swore to Horatio that he
would take the ghost's word for a thousand pounds. But before he
could make up his resolution as to what measures of revenge he
should takenow he was certainly informed that his uncle was his
father's murdererhe was sent for by the queen his motherto a
private conference in her closet.
It was by desire of the king that the queen sent for Hamlet
that she might signify to her son how much his late behavior
had displeased them bothand the kingwishing to know all that
passed at that conferenceand thinking that the too partial
report of a mother might let slip some part of Hamlet's words
which it might much import the king to knowPoloniusthe old
counselor of statewas ordered to plant himself behind the
hangings in the queen's closetwhere he mightunseenhear all
that passed. This artifice was particularly adapted to the
disposition of Poloniuswho was a man grown old in crooked
maxims and policies of stateand delighted to get at the
knowledge of matters in an indirect and cunning way.
Hamlet being come to his mothershe began to tax him in the
roundest way with his actions and behaviorand she told him that
he had given great offense to HIS FATHERmeaning the kinghis
unclewhombecause he had married hershe called Hamlet's
father. Hamletsorely indignant that she should give so dear and
honored a name as father seemed to him to a wretch who was
indeed no better than the murderer of his true fatherwith some
Mother, YOU have much offended MY FATHER.
The queen said that was but an idle answer.
As good as the question deserved,said Hamlet.
The queen asked him if he had forgotten who it was he was
Alas!replied HamletI wish I could forget. You are the
queen, your husband's brother's wife; and you are my mother. I
wish you were not what you are.
Nay, then,said the queenif you show me so little respect, I
will set those to you that can speak,and was going to send the
king or Polonius to him.
But Hamlet would not let her gonow he had her alonetill he
had tried if his words could not bring her to some sense of her
wicked life; andtaking her by the wristhe held her fastand
made her sit down. Sheaffrighted at his earnest mannerand
fearful lest in his lunacy he should do her a mischiefcried
out; and a voice was heard from behind the hangingsHelp, help'
the queen!which Hamlet hearingand verily thinking that it was
the king himself there concealedhe drew his sword and stabbed
at the place where the voice came fromas he would have stabbed
a rat that ran theretillthe voice ceasinghe concluded the
person to be dead. But when he dragged forth the body it was not
the kingbut Poloniusthe oldofficious counselorthat had
planted himself as a spy behind the hangings.
Oh, me!exclaimed the queenwhat a rash and bloody deed have
A bloody deed, mother,replied Hamletbut not so bad as
yours, who killed a king, and married his brother.
Hamlet had gone too far to leave off here. He was now in the
humor to speak plainly to his motherand he pursued it. And
though the faults of parents are to be tenderly treated by their
childrenyet in the case of great crimes the son may have leave
to speak even to his own mother with some harshnessso as that
harshness is meant for her good and to turn her from her wicked
waysand not done for the purpose of upbraiding. And now this
virtuous prince did in moving terms represent to the queen the
heinousness of her offense in being so forgetful of the dead
kinghis fatheras in so short a space of time to marry with
his brother and reputed murderer. Such an act asafter the vows
which she had sworn to her first husbandwas enough to make all
vows of women suspected and all virtue to be accounted hypocrisy
wedding contracts to be less than gamesters' oathsand religion
to be a mockery and a mere form of words. He said she had done
such a deed that the heavens blushed at itand the earth was
sick of her because of it. And he showed her two picturesthe
one of the late kingher first husbandand the other of the
present kingher second husbandand he bade her mark the
difference; what a grace was on the brow of his fatherhow like
a god he looked! the curls of Apollothe forehead of Jupiter
the eye of Marsand a posture like to Mercury newly alighted on
some heaven-kissing hill! this manhe saidHAD BEEN her
husband. And then be showed her whom she had got in his stead;
how like a blight or a mildew he lookedfor so he had blasted
his wholesome brother. And the queen was sore ashamed that he
should so turn her eyes inward upon her soulwhich she now saw
so black and deformed. And he asked her how she could continue to
live with this manand be a wife to himwho had murdered her
first husband and got the crown by as false means as a thief--and
just as he spoke the ghost of his fathersuch as he was in his
lifetime and such as he had lately seen itentered the roomand
Hamletin great terrorasked what it would have; and the ghost
said that it came to remind him of the revenge he had promised
which Hamlet seemed to have forgot; and the ghost bade him speak
to his motherfor the grief and terror she was in would else
kill her. It then vanishedand was seen by none but Hamlet
neither could he by pointing to where it stoodor by any
descriptionmake his mother perceive itwho was terribly
frightened all this while to hear him conversingas it seemed to
herwith nothing; and she imputed it to the disorder of his
mind. But Hamlet begged her not to flatter her wicked soul in
such a manner as to think that it was his madnessand not her
own offenseswhich had brought his father's spirit again on the
earth. And he bade her feel his pulsehow temperately it beat
not like a madman's. And he begged of herwith tearsto confess
herself to Heaven for what was pastand for the future to
avoid the company of the king and be no more as a wife to him;
and when she should show herself a mother to himby respecting
his father's memoryhe would ask a blessing of her as a son. And
she promising to observe his directionsthe conference ended.
And now Hamlet was at leisure to consider who it was that in his
unfortunate rashness he had killed; and when he came to see that
it was Poloniusthe father of the Lady Ophelia whom he so dearly
lovedhe drew apart the dead bodyandhis spirits being now a
little quieterhe wept for what he had done.
The unfortunate death of Polonius gave the king a pretense for
sending Hamlet out of the kingdom. He would willingly have put
him to deathfearing him as dangerous; but he dreaded the
peoplewho loved Hamletand the queenwhowith all her
faultsdoted upon the princeher son. So this subtle king
under pretense of providing for Hamlet's safetythat he might
not be called to account for Polonius's deathcaused him to be
conveyed on board a ship bound for Englandunder the care of two
courtiersby whom he despatched letters to the English court
which in that time was in subjection and paid tribute to Denmark
requiringfor special reasons there pretendedthat Hamlet
should be put to death as soon as he landed on English ground.
Hamletsuspecting some treacheryin the nighttime secretly got
at the lettersandskilfully erasing his own namehe in the
stead of it put in the names of those two courtierswho had the
charge of himto be put to death; then sealing up the letters
he put them into their place again. Soon after the ship was
attacked by piratesand a sea-fight commencedin the course of
which Hamletdesirous to show his valorwith sword in hand
singly boarded the enemy's vessel; while his own shipin a
cowardly mannerbore away; and leaving him to his fatethe two
courtiers made the best of their way to Englandcharged with
those letters the sense of which Hamlet had altered to their own
The pirates who had the prince in their power showed themselves
gentle enemiesandknowing whom they had got prisonerin the
hope that the prince might do them a good turn at court in
recompense for any favor they might show himthey set Hamlet on
shore at the nearest port in Denmark. From that place Hamlet
wrote to the kingacquainting him with the strange chance which
had brought him back to his own country and saying that on the
next day he should present himself before his Majesty. When he
got home a sad spectacle offered itself the first thing to his
This was the funeral of the young and beautiful Opheliahis once
dear mistress. The wits of this young lady had begun to turn ever
since her poor father's death. That he should die a violent
deathand by the hands of the prince whom she lovedso affected
this tender young maid that in a little time she grew perfectly
distractedand would go about giving flowers away to the ladies
of the courtand saying that they were for her father's burial
singing songs about love and about deathand sometimes such as
had no meaning at allas if she had no memory of what happened
to her. There was a willow which grew slanting over a brookand
reflected its leaves on the stream. To this brook she came one
day when she was unwatchedwith garlands she had been making
mixed up of daisies and nettlesflowers and weeds togetherand
clambering up to bang her garland upon the boughs of the willow
a bough broke and precipitated this fair young maidgarlandand
all that she had gatheredinto the waterwhere her clothes bore
her up for a whileduring which she chanted scraps of old tunes
like one insensible to her own distressor as if she were a
creature natural to that element; but long it was not before her
garmentsheavy with the wetpulled her in from her melodious
singing to a muddy and miserable death. It was the funeral of
this fair maid which her brother Laertes was celebratingthe
king and queen and whole court being presentwhen Hamlet
arrived. He knew not what all this show importedbut stood on
one sidenot inclining to interrupt the ceremony. He saw the
flowers strewed upon her graveas the custom was in maiden
burialswhich the queen herself threw in; and as she threw them
Sweets to the sweet! I thought to have decked thy bride bed,
sweet maid, not to have strewed thy grave. Thou shouldst have
been my Hamlet's wife.
And he heard her brother wish that violets might spring from her
grave; and he saw him leap into the grave all frantic with grief
and bid the attendants pile mountains of earth upon himthat he
might be buried with her. And Hamlet's love for this fair maid
came back to himand he could not bear that a brother should
show so much transport of grieffor he thought that he loved
Ophelia better than forty thousand brothers. Then discovering
himselfhe leaped into the grave where Laertes wasall as
frantic or more frantic than heand Laertesknowing him to be
Hamletwho had been the cause of his father's and his sister's
deathgrappled him by the throat as an enemytill the
attendants parted them; and Hamletafter the funeralexcused
his hasty act in throwing himself into the grave as if to brave
Laertes; but he said he could not bear that any one should seem
to outgo him in grief for the death of the fair Ophelia. And for
the time these two noble youths seemed reconciled.
But out of the grief and anger of Laertes for the death of his
father and Ophelia the kingHamlet's wicked unclecontrived
destruction for Hamlet. He set on Laertesunder cover of peace
and reconciliationto challenge Hamlet to a friendly trial of
skill at fencingwhich Hamlet acceptinga day was appointed to
try the match. At this match all the court was presentand
Laertesby direction of the kingprepared a poisoned weapon.
Upon this match great wagers were laid by the courtiersas both
Hamlet and Laertes were known to excel at this sword play; and
Hamlettaking up the foilschose onenot at all suspecting the
treachery of Laertesor being careful to examine Laertes's
weaponwhoinstead of a foil or blunted swordwhich the laws
of fencing requiremade use of one with a pointand poisoned.
At first Laertes did but play with Hamletand suffered him to
gain some advantageswhich the dissembling king magnified and
extolled beyond measuredrinking to Hamlet's success and
wagering rich bets upon the issue. But after a few pauses
Laertesgrowing warmmade a deadly thrust at Hamlet with his
poisoned weaponand gave him a mortal blow. Hamletincensed
but not knowingthe whole of the treacheryin the scuffle
exchanged his own innocent weapon for Laertes's deadly oneand
with a thrust of Laertes's own sword repaid Laertes homewho was
thus justly caught in his own treachery. In this instant the
queen shrieked out that she was poisoned. She had inadvertently
drunk out of a bowl which the king had prepared for Hamletin
case thatbeing warm in fencinghe should call for drink; into
this the treacherous king had infused a deadly poisonto make
sure of Hamletif Laertes had failed. He had forgotten to warn
the queen of the bowlwhich she drank ofand immediately died
exclaiming with her last breath that she was poisoned. Hamlet
suspecting some treacheryordered the doors to be shut while he
sought it out. Laertes told him to seek no fartherfor he was
the traitor; and feeling his life go away with the wound which
Hamlet had given himhe made confession of the treachery he had
used and how he had fallen a victim to it: and he told Hamlet of
the envenomed pointand said that Hamlet had not half an hour to
livefor no medicine could cure him; and begging forgiveness of
Hamlethe diedwith his last words accusing the king of being
the contriver of the mischief. When Hamlet saw his end draw near
there being yet some venom left upon the swordhe suddenly
turned upon his false uncle and thrust the point of it to his
heartfulfilling the promise which he had made to his father's
spiritwhose injunction was now accomplished and his foul murder
revenged upon the murderer. Then Hamletfeeling his breath fail
and life departingturned to his dear friend Horatiowho had
been spectator of this fatal tragedy; and with his dying breath
requested him that he would live to tell his story to the world
(for Horatio had made a motion as if he would slay himself to
accompany the prince in death)and Horatio promised that he
would make a true report as one that was privy to all the
circumstances. Andthus satisfiedthe noble heart of Hamlet
cracked; and Horatio and the bystanders with many tears commended
the spirit of this sweet prince to the guardianship of angels.
For Hamlet was a loving and a gentle prince and greatly beloved
for his many noble and princelike qualities; and if he had lived
would no doubt have proved a most royal and complete king to
Brabantiothe rich senator of Venicehad a fair daughterthe
gentle Desdemona. She was sought to by divers suitorsboth on
account of her many virtuous qualities and for her rich
expectations. But among the suitors of her own clime and
complexion she saw none whom she could affectfor this noble
ladywho regarded the mind more than the features of menwith a
singularity rather to be admired than imitated had chosen for the
object of her affections a Moora blackwhom her father loved
and often invited to his house.
Neither is Desdemona to be altogether condemned for the
unsuitableness of the person whom she selected for her lover.
Bating that Othello was blackthe noble Moor wanted nothing
which might recommend him to the affections of the greatest lady.
He was a soldierand a brave one; and by his conduct in bloody
wars against the Turks had risen to the rank of general in the
Venetian serviceand was esteemed and trusted by the state.
He had been a travelerand Desdemona (as is the manner of
ladies) loved to hear him tell the story of his adventureswhich
he would run through from his earliest recollection; the battles
siegesand encounters which he had passed through; the perils he
had been exposed to by land and by water; his hair-breadth
escapeswhen he had entered a breach or marched up to the mouth
of a cannon; and how he had been taken prisoner by the insolent
enemyand sold to slavery; how he demeaned himself in that
stateand how he escaped: all these accountsadded to the
narration of the strange things he had seen in foreign countries
the vast wilderness and romantic cavernsthe quarriesthe rocks
and mountains whose heads are in the clouds; of the savage
nationsthe cannibals who are man-eatersand a race of people
in Africa whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders. These
travelers' stories would so enchain the attention of Desdemona
that if she were called off at any time by household affairs she
would despatch with all haste that businessand returnand with
a greedy ear devour Othello's discourse. And once he took
advantage of a pliant hour and drew from her a prayer that he
would tell her the whole story of his life at largeof which she
had heard so muchbut only by parts. To which he consentedand
beguiled her of many a tear when he spoke of some distressful
stroke which his youth had suffered.
His story being doneshe gave him for his pains a world of
sighs. She swore a pretty oath that it was all passing strange
and pitifulwondrous pitiful. She wished (she said) she had not
heard ityet she wished that Heaven had made her such a man; and
then she thanked himand told himif he had a friend who loved
herhe had only to teach him how to tell his story and that
would woo her. Upon this hintdelivered not with more frankness
than modestyaccompanied with certain bewitching prettiness and
blusheswhich Othello could not but understandhe spoke more
openly of his loveand in this golden opportunity gained the
consent of the generous Lady Desdemona privately to marry him.
Neither Othello's color nor his fortune was such that it could be
hoped Brabantio would accept him for a son-in-law. He had left
his daughter free; but he did expect thatas the manner of noble
Venetian ladies wasshe would choose erelong a husband of
senatorial rank or expectations; but in this he was deceived.
Desdemona loved the Moorthough he was blackand devoted her
heart and fortunes to his valiant parts and qualities. So was her
heart subdued to an implicit devotion to the man she had selected
for a husband that his very colorwhich to all but this
discerning lady would have proved an insurmountable objection
was by her esteemed above all the white skins and clear
complexions of the young Venetian nobilityher suitors.
Their marriagewhichthough privately carriedcould not long
be kept a secretcame to the ears of the old manBrabantiowho
appeared in a solemn council of the senate as an accuser of the
Moor Othellowho by spells and witchcraft (he maintained) had
seduced the affections of the fair Desdemona to marry him
without the consent of her fatherand against the obligations of
At this juncture of time it happened that the state of Venice had
immediate need of the services of Othellonews having arrived
that the Turks with mighty preparation had fitted out a fleet
which was bending its course to the island of Cypruswith intent
to regain that strong post from the Venetianswho then held it;
in this emergency the state turned its eyes upon Othellowho
alone was deemed adequate to conduct the defense of Cyprus
against the Turks. So that Othellonow summoned before the
senatestood in their presence at once as a candidate for a
great state employment and as a culprit charged with offenses
which by the laws of Venice were made capital.
The age and senatorial character of old Brabantio commanded a
most patient hearing from that grave assembly; but the incensed
father conducted his accusation with so much intemperance
producing likelihoods and allegations for proofsthatwhen
Othello was called upon for his defensehe had only to relate a
plain tale of the course of his love; which he did with such an
artless eloquencerecounting the whole story of his wooing as we
have related it aboveand delivered his speech with so noble a
plainness (the evidence of truth) that the dukewho sat as chief
judgecould not help confessing that a tale so told would have
won his daughtertooand the spells and conjurations which
Othello had used in his courtship plainly appeared to have been
no more than the honest arts of men in loveand the only
witchcraft which he had used the faculty of telling a soft tale
to win a lady's ear.
This statement of Othello was confirmed by the testimony of the
Lady Desdemona herselfwho appeared in court andprofessing a
duty to her father for life and educationchallenged leave of
him to profess a yet higher duty to her lord and husbandeven so
much as her mother had shown in preferring him (Brabantio) above
The old senatorunable to maintain his pleacalled the Moor to
him with many expressions of sorrowandas an act of necessity
bestowed upon him his daughterwhomif he had been free to
withhold her (he told him)he would with all his heart have kept
from him; adding that he was glad at soul that he had no other
childfor this behavior of Desdemona would have taught him to be
a tyrant and hang clogs on them for her desertion.
This difficulty being got overOthelloto whom custom had
rendered the hardships of a military life as natural as food and
rest are to other menreadily undertook the management of the
wars in Cyprus; and Desdemonapreferring the honor of her lord
(though with danger) before the indulgence of those idle delights
in which new-married people usually waste their timecheerfully
consented to his going.
No sooner were Othello and his lady landed in Cyprus than news
arrived that a desperate tempest had dispersed the Turkish fleet
and thus the island was secure from any immediate apprehension of
an attack. But the war which Othello was to suffer was now
beginning; and the enemies which malice stirred up against his
innocent lady proved in their nature more deadly than strangers
Among all the general's friends no one possessed the confidence
of Othello more entirely than Cassio. Michael Cassio was a young
soldiera Florentinegayamorousand of pleasing address
favorite qualities with women; he was handsome and eloquentand
exactly such a person as might alarm the jealousy of a man
advanced in years (as Othello in some measure was) who had
married a young and beautiful wife; but Othello was as free from
jealousy as he was nobleand as incapable of suspecting as of
doing a base action. He had employed this Cassio in his love
affair with Desdemonaand Cassio had been a sort of go-between
in his suit; for Othellofearing that himself had not those soft
parts of conversation which please ladiesand finding these
qualities in his friendwould often depute Cassio to go (as he
phrased it) a-courting for himsuch innocent simplicity being
rather an honor than a blemish to the character of the valiant
Moor. So that no wonder ifnext to Othello himself (but at far
distanceas beseems a virtuous wife)the gentle Desdemona loved
and trusted Cassio. Nor had the marriage of this couple made any
difference in their behavior to Michael Cassio. He frequented
their houseand his free and rattling talk was no unpleasing
variety to Othellowho was himself of a more serious temper; for
such tempers are observed often to delight in their contraries
as a relief from the oppressive excess of their own; and
Desdemona and Cassio would talk and laugh togetheras in the
days when he went a-courting for his friend.
Othello had lately promoted Cassio to be the lieutenanta place
of trustand nearest to the general's person. This promotion
gave great offense to Iagoan older officer who thought he had a
better claim than Cassioand would often ridicule Cassio as a
fellow fit only for the company of ladies and one that knew no
more of the art of war or how to set an army in array for battle
than a girl. Iago hated Cassioand he hated Othello as well for
favoring Cassio as for an unjust suspicionwhich he had lightly
taken up against Othellothat the Moor was too fond of Iago's
wife Emilia. From these imaginary provocations the plotting mind
of Iago conceived a horrid scheme of revengewhich should
involve Cassiothe Moorand Desdemona in one common ruin.
Iago was artfuland had studied human nature deeplyand he knew
that of all the torments which afflict the mind of man (and far
beyond bodily torture) the pains of jealousy were the most
intolerable and had the sorest sting. If he could succeed in
making Othello jealous of Cassio he thought it would be an
exquisite plot of revenge and might end in the death of Cassio or
Othelloor both; he cared not.
The arrival of the general and his lady in Cyprusmeeting with
news of the dispersion of the enemy's fleetmade a sort of
holiday in the island. Everybody gave himself up to feasting and
making merry. Wine flowed in abundanceand cups went round to
the health of the black Othello and his lady the fair Desdemona.
Cassio had the direction of the guard that nightwith a charge
from Othello to keep the soldiers from excess in drinkingthat
no brawl might arise to fright the inhabitants or disgust them
with the new-landed forces. That night Iago began his deep-laid
plans of mischief. Under color of loyalty and love to the
generalhe enticed Cassio to make rather too free with the
bottle (a great fault in an officer upon guard). Cassio for a
time resistedbut he could not long hold out against the honest
freedom which Iago knew how to put onbut kept swallowing glass
after glass (as Iago still plied him with drink and encouraging
songs)and Cassio's tongue ran over in praise of the Lady
Desdemonawhom he again and again toastedaffirming that she
was a most exquisite lady. Until at last the enemy which he put
into his mouth stole away his brains; and upon some provocation
given him by a fellow whom Iago had set onswords were drawn
and Montanoa worthy officerwho interfered to appease the
disputewas wounded in the scuffle. The riot now began to be
generaland Iagowho had set on foot the mischiefwas foremost
in spreading the alarmcausing the castle bell to be rung (as if
some dangerous mutiny instead of a slight drunken quarrel had
arisen). The alarm-bell ringing awakened Othellowhodressing
in a hurry and coming to the scene of actionquestioned Cassio
of the cause.
Cassio was now come to himselfthe effect of the wine having a
little gone offbut was too much ashamed to reply; and Iago
pretending a great reluctance to accuse Cassiobutas it were
forced into it by Othellowho insisted to know the truthgave
an account of the whole matter (leaving out his own share in it
which Cassio was too far gone to remember) in such a manner as
while he seemed to make Cassio's offense lessdid indeed make it
appear greater than it was. The result was that Othellowho was
a strict observer of disciplinewas compelled to take away
Cassio's place of lieutenant from him.
Thus did Iago's first artifice succeed completely; he had now
undermined his hated rival and thrust himout of his place; but a
further use was hereafter to be made of the adventure of this
Cassiowhom this misfortune had entirely soberednow lamented
to his seeming friend Iago that he should have been such a fool
as to transform himself into a beast. He was undonefor how
could he ask the general for his place again? He would tell him
he was a drunkard. He despised himself. Iagoaffecting to make
light of itsaid that heor any man livingmight be drunk upon
occasion; it remained now to make the best of a bad bargain. The
general's wife was now the generaland could do anything with
Othello; that he were best to apply to the Lady Desdemona to
mediate for him with her lord; that she was of a frankobliging
disposition and would readily undertake a good office of this
sort and set Cassio right again in the general's favor; and then
this crack in their love would be made stronger than ever. A good
advice of Iagoif it had not been given for wicked purposes
which will after appear.
Cassio did as Iago advised himand made application to the Lady
Desdemonawho was easy to be won over in any honest suit; and
she promised Cassio that she should be his solicitor with her
lordand rather die than give up his cause. This she immediately
set about in so earnest and pretty a manner that Othellowho was
mortally offended with Cassiocould not put her off. When he
pleaded delayand that it was too soon to pardon such an
offendershe would not be beat backbut insisted that it should
be the next nightor the morning afteror the next morning to
that at farthest. Then she showed how penitent and humbled poor
Cassio wasand that his offense did not deserve so sharp a
check. And when Othello still hung back:
What! my lord,said shethat I should have so much to do to
plead for Cassio, Michael Cassio, that came a-courting for you,
and oftentimes, when I have spoken in dispraise of you has taken
your part! I count this but a little thing to ask of you. When I
mean to try your love indeed I shall ask a weighty matter.
Othello could deny nothing to such a pleaderand only requesting
that Desdemona would leave the time to himpromised to receive
Michael Cassio again in favor.
It happened that Othello and Iago had entered into the room where
Desdemona wasjust as Cassiowho had been imploring her
intercessionwas departing at the opposite door; and Iagowho
was full of artsaid in a low voiceas if to himselfI like
not that.Othello took no great notice of what he said; indeed
the conference which immediately took place with his lady put it
out of his head; but he remembered it afterward. For when
Desdemona was goneIagoas if for mere satisfaction of his
thoughtquestioned Othello whether Michael Cassiowhen Othello
was courting his ladyknew of his love. To this the general
answering in the affirmativeand addingthat he had gone
between them very often during the courtshipIago knitted his
browas if he had got fresh light on some terrible matterand
criedIndeed!This brought into Othello's mind the words which
Iago had let fall upon entering the room and seeing Cassio with
Desdemona; and he began to think there was some meaning in all
thisfor he deemed Iago to be a just manand full of love and
honestyand what in a false knave would be tricks in him seemed
to be the natural workings of an honest mindbig with something
too great for utterance. And Othello prayed Iago to speak what he
knew and to give his worst thoughts words.
And what,said Iagoif some thoughts very vile should have
intruded into my breast, as where is the palace into which foul
things do not enter?Then Iago went on to saywhat a pity it
were if any trouble should arise to Othello out of his imperfect
observations; that it would not be for Othello's peace to know
his thoughts; that people's good names were not to be taken away
for slight suspicions; and when Othello's curiosity was raised
almost to distraction with these hints and scattered wordsIago
as if in earnest care for Othello's peace of mindbesought him
to beware of jealousy. With such art did this villain raise
suspicions in the unguarded Othelloby the very caution which he
pretended to give him against suspicion.
I know,said Othellothat my wife is fair, loves company and
feasting, is free of speech, sings, plays, and dances well; but
where virtue is, these qualities are virtuous. I must have proof
before I think her dishonest.
Then Iagoas if glad that Othello was slow to believe ill of his
ladyfrankly declared that he had no proofbut begged Othello
to see her behavior wellwhen Cassio was by; not to be jealous
nor too secure neitherfor that he (Iago) knew the dispositions
of the Italian ladieshis country-womenbetter than Othello
could do; and that in Venice the wives let Heaven see many pranks
they dared not show their husbands. Then he artfully insinuated
that Desdemona deceived her father in marrying with Othelloand
carried it so closely that the poor old man thought that
witchcraft had been used. Othello was much moved with this
argumentwhich brought the matter home to himfor if she had
deceived her father why might she not deceive her husband?
Iago begged pardon for having moved him; but Othelloassuming an
indifferencewhile he was really shaken with inward grief at
Iago's wordsbegged him to go onwhich Iago did with many
apologiesas if unwilling to produce anything against Cassio
whom he called his friend. He then came strongly to the point and
reminded Othello how Desdemona had refused many suitable matches
of her own clime and complexionand had married hima Moor
which showed unnatural in her and proved her to have a headstrong
will; and when her better judgment returnedhow probable it was
she should fall upon comparing Othello with the fine forms and
clear white complexions of the young Italians her countrymen. He
concluded with advising Othello to put off his reconcilement with
Cassio a little longerand in the mean while to note with what
earnestness Desdemona should intercede in his behalf; for that
much would be seen in that. So mischievously did this artful
villain lay his plots to turn the gentle qualities of this
innocent lady into her destructionand make a net for her out of
her own goodness to entrap herfirst setting Cassio on to
entreat her mediationand then out of that very mediation
contriving stratagems for her ruin.
The conference ended with Iago's begging Othello to account his
wife innocent until he had more decisive proof; and Othello
promised to be patient; but from that moment the deceived Othello
never tasted content of mind. Poppynor the juice of mandragora
nor all the sleeping potions in the worldcould ever again
restore to him that sweet rest which he had enjoyed but
yesterday. His occupation sickened upon him. He no longer took
delight in arms. His heartthat used to be roused at the sight
of troops and banners and battle arrayand would stir and leap
at the sound of a drum or a trumpet or a neighing war-horse
seemed to have lost all that pride and ambition which are a
soldier's virtue; and his military ardor and all his old joys
forsook him. Sometimes he thought his wife honestand at times
he thought her not so; sometimes he thought Iago justand at
times he thought him not so; then he would wish that he had never
known of it; he was not the worse for her loving Cassioso long
as he knew it not. Torn to pieces with these distracting
thoughtshe once laid hold on Iago's throat and demanded proof
of Desdemona's guiltor threatened instant death for his having
belied her. Iagofeigning indignation that his honesty should be
taken for a viceasked Othello if he had not sometimes seen a
handkerchief spotted with strawberries in his wife's hand.
Othello answered that he had given her such a oneand that it
was his first gift.
That same handkerchief,said Iagodid I see Michael Cassio
this day wipe his face with.
If it be as you say,said OthelloI will not rest till a wide
revenge swallow them up; and first, for a token of your fidelity,
I expect that Cassio shall be put to death within three days; and
for that fair devil [meaning his lady] I will withdraw and devise
some swift means of death for her.
Trifles light as air are to the jealous proofs as strong as holy
writ. A handkerchief of his wife's seen in Cassio's hand was
motive enough to the deluded Othello to pass sentence of death
upon them bothwithout once inquiring how Cassio came by it.
Desdemona had never given such a present to Cassionor would
this constant lady have wronged her lord with doing so naughty a
thing as giving his presents to another man; both Cassio and
Desdemona were innocent of any offense against Othello; but the
wicked Iagowhose spirits never slept in contrivance of
villainyhad made his wife (a goodbut a weak woman) steal this
handkerchief from Desdemonaunder pretense of getting the work
copiedbut in reality to drop it in Cassio's waywhere he might
find itand give a handle to Iago's suggestion that it was
Othellosoon after meeting his wifepretended that he had a
headache (as he might indeed with truth)and desired her to lend
him her handkerchief to hold to his temples. She did so.
Not this,said Othellobut that handkerchief I gave you.
Desdemona had it not about her (for indeed it was stolenas we
How?said Othellothis is a fault indeed. That handkerchief
an Egyptian woman gave to my mother; the woman was a witch and
could read people's thoughts. She told my mother while she kept
it it would make her amiable and my father would love her; but if
she lost it or gave it away, my father's fancy would turn and he
would loathe her as much as he had loved her. She, dying, gave it
to me, and bade me, if I ever married, to give it to my wife. I
did so. Take heed of it. Make it a darling as precious as your
Is it possible?said the frighted lady.
'Tis true,continued Othello; "it is a magical handkerchief; a
sibyl that had lived in the world two hundred yearsin a fit of
prophetic fury worked it; the silkworms that furnished the silk
were hallowedand it was dyed in a mummy of maidens' hearts
Desdemonahearing the wondrous virtues of the handkerchiefwas
ready to die with fearfor she plainly perceived she had lost
itand with itshe fearedthe affections of her husband. Then
Othello started and looked as if he were going to do some rash
thingand still he demanded the handkerchiefwhich when she
could not produceshe tried to divert her husband from too
serious thoughtsand cheerfully told him she saw all his talk
about the handkerchief was only to put her off from her suit
about Michael Cassiowhom she went on to praise (as Iago had
foretold)till Othello in perfect distraction burst out of the
roomand then Desdemonathough unwillinglybegan to suspect
that her lord was jealous.
What cause she could have ministered to him she knew notand
then she accused herself for accusing the noble Othelloand
thoughtto be surethat some untoward news from Venice or some
state troubles had puddled his spirits and made his temper not so
sweet as formerly. And she saidMen are not gods, and we must
not look for that observance from them when they are married
which they show us on the bridal day.And she beshrewed herself
for so unkindly judging of his unkindness.
Again Othello and Desdemona metand he accused her more plainly
of being unfaithful and of loving another manbut he did not
name whom. And Othello weptand Desdemona saidAlas! the heavy
day! why do you weep?And Othello told her he could have borne
all sorts of evils with fortitude--povertyand diseaseand
disgrace--but her infidelity had broken his heart. And he called
her a weed that looked so fair and smelled so sweet that the
sense ached at it; and wished she had never been born. And when
he had left her this innocent lady was so stupefied with wonder
at her lord's untrue suspicion of her that a weightlike sleep
came over herand she only desired her attendant to make her bed
and to lay her wedding-sheets upon itsaying that when people
teach their babes they do it by gentle means and easy tasksand
Othello might have chid her so; for in good faith she was but a
child when she was chidden. And this was all the complaint which
this gentle lady made.
Desdemona being retired to bedexpecting her lord would follow
hersoon fell into a slumberthe effect of her troubled
spiritswhen Othello entered the chamberfull of the black
purpose which he had meditatedof putting his lady to death. But
when he saw her asleep he thought he would not shed her blood
nor scar that white skin of hersmore white than alabaster. But
he was resolved she should dieelse (as he said) she would live
to betraymore men as she had done him. Then he kissed her for
the last time (as he said)and that kiss was so sweet that he
must needs kiss her again; and he weptbut he said they were
Desdemona was awakened with his kissesand she looked upon
Othelloand she saw him gnaw his under lip and roll his eyes
and she knew he was always fatal when he looked so; and he bade
her prepare for death and to say her prayersfor he would not
kill her soul. And this innocent wifeas she lay at his mercy
begged for compassion and to know her faultand then he named
Cassioand the handkerchief which (he said) she had given him;
and as the guiltless lady was proceeding to clear herself he
suddenly would hear no morebutcovering her up in the
bedclothesstifled her till she died.
In this instant of time was brought into the house Cassio
wounded and bleedingwhom Iago had set one of his creatures on
to assassinate; but the fellow not succeeding in his attempt to
kill Cassio (whom he woundedbut not mortally)and being himself
killed by Iago to prevent discoveryin his pockets were
found certain letterswhich made the guilt of Iagoand the
innocence of Cassioclear beyond all doubt; and Cassio now came
to beg pardon of Othelloand to ask wherein he had offended him
that he had employed Iago to murder him.
This discovery was as a thunderstroke to Othellowho now plainly
saw that he was no better than a murdererand that his wife
(poor innocent lady) had been ever faithful to him; the extreme
anguish of which discovery making life insupportablehe fell
upon his swordand throwing himself upon the body of his dear
These rash acts raised much passion of horror and amazement in
the bystandersfor Othello had borne a fair reputationand till
he was wrought upon by the arts of a villainwhich his own noble
nature never gave him leave to suspecthe was a loving and a
doting husband. He had loved not wiselybut too well; and his
manly eyes (when be learned his mistake)though not used to weep
on every small occasiondropped tears as fast as the Arabian
trees their gum. And when he was dead all his former merits and
his valiant acts were remembered. Nothing now remained for his
successor but to put the utmost censure of the law in force
against Iagowho was executed with strict tortures; and to send
word to the state of Venice of the lamentable death of their
PERICLESPRINCE OF TYRE
PericlesPrince of Tyrebecame a voluntary exile from his
dominionsto avert the dreadful calamities which Antiochusthe
wicked emperor of Greecethreatened to bring upon his subjects
and city of Tyrein revenge for a discovery which the prince had
made of a shocking deed which the emperor had done in secret; as
commonly it proves dangerous to pry into the hidden crimes of
great ones. Leaving the government of his people in the hands of
his able and honest ministerHelicanusPericles set sail from
Tyrethinking to absent himself till the wrath of Antiochuswho
was mightyshould be appeased.
The first place which the prince directed his course to was
Tarsusand hearing that the city of Tarsus was at that time
suffering under a severe faminehe took with him a store of
provisions for its relief. On his arrival he found the city
reduced to the utmost distress; andhe coming like a messenger
from heaven with his unhoped-for succorCleonthe governor of
Tarsuswelcomed him with boundless thanks. Pericles had not been
here many days before letters came from his faithful minister
warning him that it was not safe for him to stay at Tarsusfor
Antiochus knew of his abodeand by secret emissaries despatched
for that purpose sought his life. Upon receipt of these letters
Pericles put out to sea againamid the blessings and prayers of
a whole people who had been fed by his bounty.
He had not sailed far when his ship was overtaken by a dreadful
stormand every man on board perished except Pericleswho was
cast by the sea waves naked on an unknown shorewhere he had not
wandered long before he met with some poor fishermenwho invited
him to their homesgiving him clothes and provisions. The
fishermen told Pericles the name of their country was Pentapolis
and that their king was Simonidescommonly called the good
Simonidesbecause of his peaceable reign and good government.
From them he also learned that King Simonides had a fair young
daughterand that the following day was her birthdaywhen a
grand tournament was to be held at courtmany princes and
knights being come from all parts to try their skill in arms for
the love of Thaisathis fair princess. While the prince was
listening to this accountand secretly lamenting the loss of his
good armorwhich disabled him from making one among these
valiant knightsanother fisherman brought in a complete suit of
armor that he had taken out of the sea with his fishing-net
which proved to be the very armor he had lost. When Pericles
beheld his own armor he said: "ThanksFortune; after all my
crosses you give me somewhat to repair myself This armor was
bequeathed to me by my dead fatherfor whose dear sake I have so
loved it that whithersoever I went I still have kept it by me
and the rough sea that parted it from mehaving now become calm
hath given it back againfor which I thank itforsince I have
my father's gift againI think my shipwreck no misfortune."
The next day Periclesclad in his brave father's armorrepaired
to the royal court of Simonideswhere he performed wonders at
the tournamentvanquishing with ease all the brave knights and
valiant princes who contended with him in arms for the honor of
Thaisa's love. When brave warriors contended at court tournaments
for the love of kings' daughtersif one proved sole victor over
all the restit was usual for the great lady for whose sake
these deeds of valor were undertaken to bestow all her respect
upon the conquerorand Thaisa did not depart from this custom
for she presently dismissed all the princes and knights whom
Pericles had vanquishedand distinguished him by her especial
favor and regardcrowning him with the wreath of victoryas
king of that day's happiness; and Pericles became a most
passionate lover of this beauteous princess from the first moment
he beheld her.
The good Simonides so well approved of the valor and noble
qualities of Pericleswho was indeed a most accomplished
gentleman and well learned in all excellent artsthat though he
knew not the rank of this royal stranger (for Pericles for fear
of Antiochus gave out that he was a private gentleman of Tyre)
yet did not Simonides disdain to accept of the valiant unknown
for a son-in-lawwhen he perceived his daughter's affections
were firmly fixed upon him.
Pericles had not been many months married to Thaisa before he
received intelligence that his enemy Antiochus was deadand that
his subjects of Tyreimpatient of his long absencethreatened
to revolt and talked of placing Helicanus upon his vacant throne.
This news came from Helicanus himselfwhobeing a loyal subject
to his royal masterwould not accept of the high dignity
offered himbut sent to let Pericles know their intentionsthat
he might return home and resume his lawful right. It was matter
of great surprise and joy to Simonides to find that his
son-in-law (the obscure knight) was the renowned Prince of Tyre;
yet again he regretted that he was not the private gentleman he
supposed him to beseeing that he must now part both with his
admired son-in-law and his beloved daughterwhom he feared to
trust to the perils of the seabecause Thaisa was with child;
and Pericles himself wished her to remain with her father till
after her confinement; but the poor lady so earnestly desired to
go with her husband that at last they consentedhoping she would
reach Tyre before she was brought to bed.
The sea was no friendly element to unhappy Periclesfor long
before they reached Tyre another dreadful tempest arosewhich so
terrified Thaisa that she was taken illand in a short space of
time her nurseLychoridacame to Pericles with a little child
in her armsto tell the prince the sad tidings that his wife
died the moment her little babe was born. She held the babe
toward its fathersaying:
Here is a thing too young for such a place. This is the child of
your dead queen.
No tongue can tell the dreadful sufferings of Pericles when he
heard his wife was dead. As soon as he could speak he said:
O you gods, why do you make us love your goodly gifts and then
snatch those gifts away?
Patience, good sir,said Lychoridahere is all that is left
alive of our dead queen, a little daughter, and for your child's
sake be more manly. Patience, good sir, even for the sake of this
Pericles took the newborn infant in his armsand he said to the
little babe: "Now may your life be mildfor a more blusterous
birth had never babe! May your condition be mild and gentlefor
you have had the rudest welcome that ever prince's child did meet
with! May that which follows be happyfor you have had as
chiding a nativity as fireairwaterearthand heaven could
make to herald you from the womb! Even at the firstyour loss
meaning in the death of her mother, is more than all the joys
which you shall find upon this earth to which you are come a new
visitorshall be able to recompense."
The storm still continuing to rage furiouslyand the sailors
having a superstition that while a dead body remained in the ship
the storm would never ceasethey came to Pericles to demand that
his queen should be thrown overboard; and they said:
What courage, sir? God save you!
Courage enough,said the sorrowing prince. "I do not fear the
storm; it has done to me its worst; yet for the love of this poor
infantthis fresh new seafarerI wish the storm was over."
Sir,said the sailorsyour queen must overboard. The sea
works high, the wind is loud, and the storm will not abate till
the ship be cleared of the dead.
Though Pericles knew how weak and unfounded this superstition
wasyet he patiently submittedsaying: "As you think meet. Then
she must overboardmost wretched queen!"
And now this unhappy prince went to take a last view of his dear
wifeand as he looked on his Thaisa he said: "A terrible
childbed hast thou hadmy dear; no lightno fire; the
unfriendly elements forget thee utterlynor have I time to bring
thee hallowed to thy gravebut must cast thee scarcely coffined
into the seawhere for a monument upon thy bones the humming
waters must overwhelm thy corpselying with simple shells. O
Lychoridabid Nestor bring me spicesinkand papermy casket
and my jewelsand bid Nicandor bring me the satin coffin. Lay
the babe upon the pillowand go about this suddenlyLychorida
while I say a priestly farewell to my Thaisa."
They brought Pericles a large chestin which (wrapped in a satin
shroud) he placed his queenand sweet-smelling spices he strewed
over herand beside her he placed rich jewelsand a written
paper telling who she was and praying if haply any one should
find the chest which contained the body of his wife they would
give her burial; and then with his own hands he cast the chest
into the sea. When the storm was overPericles ordered the
sailors to make for Tarsus. "For said Pericles, the babe
cannot hold out till we come to Tyre. At Tarsus I will leave it
at careful nursing."
After that tempestuous night when Thaisa was thrown into the sea
and while it was yet early morningas Cerimona worthy
gentleman of Ephesus and a most skilful physicianwas standing
by the seasidehis servants brought to him a chestwhich they
said the sea waves had thrown on the land.
I never saw,said one of themso huge a billow as cast it on
Cerimon ordered the chest to be conveyed to his own houseand
when it was opened he beheld with wonder the body of a young and
lovely lady; and the sweet-smelling spices and rich casket of
jewels made him conclude it was some great person who was thus
strangely entombed. Searching fartherhe discovered a paper
from which he learned that the corpse which lay as dead before
him had been a queenand wife to PericlesPrince of Tyre; and
much admiring at the strangeness of that accidentand more
pitying the husband who had lost this sweet ladyhe said:
If you are living, Pericles, you have a heart that even cracks
with woe.Thenobserving attentively Thaisa's facehe saw how
fresh and unlike death her looks wereand he saidThey were
too hasty that threw you into the sea; for he did not believe
her to be dead. He ordered a fire to be madeand proper cordials
to be broughtand soft music to be playedwhich might help to
calm her amazed spirits if she should revive; and he said to
those who crowded round herwondering at what they sawO, I
pray you, gentlemen, give her air; this queen will live; she has
not been entranced above five hours; and see, she begins to blow
into life again; she is alive; behold, her eyelids move; this
fair creature will live to make us weep to hear her fate.
Thaisa had never diedbut after the birth of her little baby had
fallen into a deep swoon which made all that saw her conclude her
to be dead; and now by the care of this kind gentleman she once
more revived to light and life; andopening her eyesshe said:
Where am I? Where is my lord? What world is this?
By gentle degrees Cerimon let her understand what had befallen
her; and when he thought she was enough recovered to bear the
sight he showed her the paper written by her husbandand the
jewels; and she looked on the paper and said:
It is my lord's writing. That I was shipped at sea I well
remember, but whether there delivered of my babe, by the holy
gods I cannot rightly say; but since my wedded lord I never
shall see again, I will put on a vestal livery and never more
Madam,said Cerimonif you purpose as you speak, the temple
of Diana is not far distant from hence; there you may abide as a
vestal. Moreover, if you please, a niece of mine shall there
attend you.This proposal was accepted with thanks by Thaisa;
and when she was perfectly recoveredCerimon placed her in the
temple of Dianawhere she became a vestal or priestess of that
goddessand passed her days in sorrowing for her husband's
supposed lossand in the most devout exercises of those times.
Pericles carried his young daughter (whom he named Marina
because she was born at sea) to Tarsusintending to leave her
with Cleonthe governor of that cityand his wife Dionysia
thinkingfor the good he had done to them at the time of their
faminethey would be kind to his little motherless daughter.
When Cleon saw Prince Pericles and heard of the great loss which
had befallen him he saidOh, your sweet queen, that it had
pleased Heaven you could have brought her hither to have blessed
my eyes with the sight of her!
Pericles replied: "We must obey the powers above us. Should I
rage and roar as the sea does in which my Thaisa hasyet the end
must be as it is. My gentle babeMarina hereI must charge your
charity with her. I leave her the infant of your carebeseeching
you to give her princely training." And then turning to Cleon's
wifeDionysiahe saidGood madam, make me blessed in your
tare in bringing up my child.
And she answeredI have a child myself who shall not be more
dear to my respect than yours, my lord.
And Cleon made the like promisesaying: "Your noble services
Prince Periclesin feeding my whole people with your corn (for
which in their prayers they daily remember you) must in your
child be thought on. If I should neglect your childmy whole
people that were by you relieved would force me to my duty; but
if to that I need a spurthe gods revenge it on me and mine to
the end of generation."
Periclesbeing thus assured that his child would be carefully
attended toleft her to the protection of Cleon and his wife
Dionysiaand with her he left the nurseLychorida. When he went
away the little Marina knew not her lossbut Lychorida wept
sadly at parting with her royal master.
Oh, no tears, Lychorida,said Pericles; "no tears; look to your
little mistresson whose grace you may depend hereafter."
Pericles arrived in safety at Tyreand was once more settled in
the quiet possession of his thronewhile his woeful queenwhom
he thought deadremained at Ephesus. Her little babe Marina
whom this hapless mother had never seenwas brought up by Cleon
in a manner suitable to her high birth. He gave her the most
careful educationso that by the time Marina attained the age of
fourteen years the most deeply learned men were not more studied
in the learning of those times than was Marina. She sang like one
immortaland danced as goddess-likeand with her needle she was
so skilful that she seemed to compose nature's own shapes in
birdsfruitsor flowersthe natural roses being scarcely more
like to each other than they were to Marina's silken flowers. But
when she had gained from education all these graces which made
her the general wonderDionysiathe wife of Cleonbecame her
mortal enemy from jealousyby reason that her own daughterfrom
the slowness of her mindwas not able to attain to that
perfection wherein Marina excelled; and finding that all praise
was bestowed on Marinawhile her daughterwho was of the same
age and had been educated with the same care as Marinathough
not with the same successwas in comparison disregardedshe
formed a project to remove Marina out of the wayvainly
imagining that her untoward daughter would be more respected when
Marina was no more seen. To encompass this she employed a man to
murder Marinaand she well timed her wicked designwhen
Lychoridathe faithful nursehad just died. Dionysia was
discoursing with the man she had commanded to commit this murder
when the young Marina was weeping over the dead Lychorida.
Leoninethe man she employed to do this bad deedthough he was
a very wicked mancould hardly be persuaded to undertake itso
had Marina won all hearts to love her. He said:
She is a goodly creature!
The fitter then the gods should have her,replied her merciless
enemy. "Here she comes weeping for the death of her nurse
Lychorida. Are you resolved to obey me?"
Leoninefearing to disobey herrepliedI am resolved.And
soin that one short sentencewas the matchless Marina doomed
to an untimely death. She now approachedwith a basket of
flowers in her handwhich she said she would daily strew over
the grave of good Lychorida. The purple violet and the marigold
should as a carpet hang upon her gravewhile summer days did
Alas for metshe saidpoor unhappy maid, born in a tempest,
when my mother died. This world to me is like a lasting storm,
hurrying me from my friends.
How now, Marina,said the dissembling Dionysiado you weep
alone? How does it chance my daughter is not with you? Do not
sorrow for Lychorida; you have a nurse in me. Your beauty is
quite changed with this unprofitable woe. Come, give me your
flowers--the sea air will spoil them--and walk with Leonine; the
air is fine, and will enliven you. Come, Leonine, take her by the
arm and walk with her.
No, madam,said MarinaI pray you let me not deprive you of
your servant; for Leonine was one of Dionysia's attendants.
Come, come,said this artful womanwho wished for a pretense
to leave her alone with LeonineI love the prince, your father,
and I love you. We every day expect your father here; and when he
comes and finds you so changed by grief from the paragon of
beauty we reported you, he will think we have taken no care of
you. Go, I pray you, walk, and be cheerful once again. Be careful
of that excellent complexion which stole the hearts of old and
Marinabeing thus importunedsaidWell, I will go, but yet I
have no desire to it.
As Dionysia walked away she said to LeonineRemember what I
have said!shocking wordsfor their meaning was that he should
remember to kill Marina.
Marina looked toward the seaher birthplaceand saidIs the
wind westerly that blows?
When I was born the wind was north,said she; and then the
storm and tempest and all her father's sorrowsand her mother's
deathcame full into her mindand she saidMy father, as
Lychorida told me, did never fear, but cried, COURAGE, GOOD
SEAMEN, to the sailors, galling his princely hands with the
ropes, and, clasping to the masts, he endured a sea that almost
split the deck.
When was this?said Leonine.
When I was born,replied Marina. "Never were wind and waves
more violent." And then she described the stormthe action of
the sailorsthe boatswain's whistleand the loud call of the
masterwhich said she, trebled the confusion of the ship."
Lychorida had so often recounted to Marina the story of her
hapless birth that these things seemed ever present to her
imagination. But here Leonine interrupted her with desiring her
to say her prayers. "What mean you?" said Marinawho began to
fearshe knew not why.
If you require a little space for prayer, I grant it,said
Leonine; "but be not tedious; the gods are quick of ear and I am
sworn to do my work in haste."
Will you kill me?said Marina. "Alas! why?"
To satisfy my lady,replied Leonine.
Why would she have me killed?said Marina. "Nowas I can
rememberI never hurt her in all my life. I never spake bad word
nor did any ill turn to any living creature. Believe me nowI
never killed a mouse nor hurt a fly. I trod upon a worm once
against my willbut I wept for it. How have I offended?"
The murderer repliedMy commission is not to reason on the
deed, but to do it.And he was just going to kill her when
certain pirates happened to land at that very momentwhoseeing
Marinabore her off as a prize to their ship.
The pirate who had made Marina his prize carried her to Mitylene
and sold her for a slavewherethough in that humble condition
Marina soon became known throughout the whole city of Mitylene
for her beauty and her virtuesand the person to whom she was
sold became rich by the money she earned for him. She taught
musicdancingand fine needleworksand the money she got by
her scholars she gave to her master and mistress; and the fame of
her learning and her great industry came to the knowledge of
Lysimachusa young nobleman who was governor of Mityleneand
Lysimachus went himself to the house where Marina dweltto see
this paragon of excellence whom all the city praised so highly.
Her conversation delighted Lysimachus beyond measurefor
though he had heard much of this admired maidenhe did not
expect to find her so sensible a ladyso virtuousand so good
as he perceived Marina to be; and he left hersaying he hoped
she would persevere in her industrious and virtuous courseand
that if ever she heard from him again it should be for her good.
Lysimachus thought Marina such a miracle for sensefine
breedingand excellent qualitiesas well as for beauty and all
outward gracesthat he wished to marry herandnotwithstanding
her humble situationhe hoped to find that her birth was noble;
but whenever when they asked her parentage she would sit still
Meantimeat TarsusLeoninefearing the anger of Dionysiatold
her he had killed Marina; and that wicked woman gave out that she
was deadand made a pretended funeral for herand erected a
stately monument; and shortly after Periclesaccompanied by his
loyal minister Helicanusmade a voyage from Tyre to Tarsuson
purpose to see his daughterintending to take her home with him.
And he never having beheld her since he left her an infant in the
care of Cleon and his wifehow did this good prince rejoice at
the thought of seeing this dear child of his buried queen! But
when they told him Marina was deadand showed the monument they
had erected for hergreat was the misery this most wretched
father enduredandnot being able to bear the sight of that
country where his last hope and only memory of his dear Thaisa
was entombedhe took ship and hastily departed from Tarsus. From
the day he entered the ship a dull and heavy melancholy seized
him. He never spokeand seemed totally insensible to everything
Sailing from Tarsus to Tyrethe ship in its course passed by
Mitylenewhere Marina dwelt; the governor of which place
Lysimachusobserving this royal vessel from the shoreand
desirous of knowing who was on boardwent in a barge to the side
of the shipto satisfy his curiosity. Helicanus received him
very courteously and told him that the ship came from Tyreand
that they were conducting thither Periclestheir prince. "A man
sir said Helicanus, who has not spoken to any one these three
monthsnor taken any sustenancebut just to prolong his grief;
it would be tedious to repeat the whole ground of his distemper
but the main springs from the loss of a beloved daughter and a
Lysimachus begged to see this afflicted princeand when he
beheld Pericles he saw he had been once a goodly personand he
said to him: "Sir kingall hail! The gods preserve you! Hail
But in vain Lysimachus spoke to him. Pericles made no answernor
did he appear to perceive any stranger approached. And then
Lysimachus bethought him of the peerless maid Marinathat haply
with her sweet tongue she might win some answer from the silent
prince; and with the consent of Helicanus he sent for Marinaand
when she entered the ship in which her own father sat motionless
with griefthey welcomed her on board as if they had known she
was their princess; and they cried:
She is a gallant lady.
Lysimachus was well pleased to hear their commendationsand he
She is such a one that, were I well assured she came of noble
birth, I would wish no better choice and think me rarely blessed
in a wife.And then he addressed her in courtly termsas if the
lowly seeming maid had been the high-born lady he wished to find
hercalling her FAIR AND BEAUTIFUL MARINAtelling her a great
prince on board that ship had fallen into a sad and mournful
silence; andas if Marina had the power of conferring health
and felicityhe begged she would undertake to cure the royal
stranger of his melancholy.
Sir,said MarinaI will use my utmost skill in his recovery,
provided none but I and my maid be suffered to come near him.
Shewho at Mitylene had so carefully concealed her birth
ashamed to tell that one of royal ancestry was now a slavefirst
began to speak to Pericles of the wayward changes in her own
fatetelling him from what a high estate herself had fallen. As
if she had known it was her royal father she stood beforeall
the words she spoke were of her own sorrows; but her reason for
so doing was that she knew nothing more wins the attention of the
unfortunate than the recital of some sad calamity to match their
own. The sound of her sweet voice aroused the drooping prince; he
lifted up his eyeswhich had been so long fixed and motionless;
and Marinawho was the perfect image of her motherpresented to
his amazed sight the features of his dead queen. The long silent
prince was once more heard to speak.
My dearest wife,said the awakened Pericleswas like this
maid, and such a one might my daughter have been. My queen's
square brows, her stature to an inch, as wand-like straight, as
silver-voiced, her eyes as jewel-like. Where do you live, young
maid? Report your parentage. I think you said you had been tossed
from wrong to injury, and that you thought your griefs would
equal mine, if both were opened.
Some such thing I said,replied Marinaand said no more than
what my thoughts did warrant me as likely.
Tell me your story,answered Pericles. "If I find you have
known the thousandth part of my endurance you have borne your
sorrows like a man and I have suffered like a girl; yet you do
look like Patience gazing on kings' graves and smiling extremely
out of act. How lost you your namemy most kind virgin? Recount
your storyI beseech you. Comesit by me."
How was Pericles surprised when she said her name was MARINAfor
he knew it was no usual namebut had been invented by himself
for his own child to signify SEA-BORN.
Oh, I am mocked,said heand you are sent hither by some
incensed god to make the world laugh at me.
Patience, good sir,said Marinaor I must cease here.
Na@,said PericlesI will be patient. You little know how you
do startle me, to call yourself Marina.
The name,she repliedwas given me by one that had some
power, my father and a king.
How, a king's daughter!said Periclesand called Marina! But
are you flesh and blood? Are you no fairy? Speak on. Where were
you born, and wherefore called Marina?
She replied: "I was called Marina because I was born at sea. My
mother was the daughter of a king; she died the minute I was
bornas my good nurse Lychorida has often told meweeping. The
kingmy fatherleft me at Tarsus till the cruel wife of Cleon
sought to murder me. A crew of pirates came and rescued me and
brought me here to Mitylene. Butgood sirwhy do you weep? It
may be you think me an impostor. But indeedsirI am the
daughter to King Periclesif good King Pericles be living."
Then Periclesterrified as he seemed at his own sudden joyand
doubtful if this could be realloudly called for his attendants
who rejoiced at the sound of their beloved king's voice; and he
said to Helicanus:
O Helicanus, strike me, give me a gash, put me to present pain,
lest this great sea of joys rushing upon me overbear the shores
of my mortality. Oh, come hither, thou that wast born at sea,
buried at Tarsus, and found at sea again. O Helicanus, down on
your knees, thank the holy gods! This is Marina. Now blessings on
thee, my child! Give me fresh garments, mine own Helicanus! She
is not dead at Tarsus as she should have been by the savage
Dionysia. She shall tell you all, when you shall kneel to her and
call her your very Princess. Who is this?(observing Lysimachus
for the first time).
Sir,said Helicanusit is the governor of Mitylene, who,
hearing of your melancholy, came to see you.
I embrace you, sir,said Pericles. "Give me my robes! I am well
with beholding. O Heaven bless my girl! But harkwhat music is
that?"--for noweither sent by some kind god or by his own
delighted fancy deceivedhe seemed to hear soft music.
My lord, I hear none,replied Helicanus.
None?said Pericles. "Whyit is the music of the spheres."
As there was no music to be heardLysimachus concluded that the
sudden joy had unsettled the prince's understandingand he said
It is not good to cross him; let him have his way.And then
they told him they heard the music; and he now complaining of a
drowsy slumber coming over himLysimachus persuaded him to rest
on a couchandplacing a pillow under his headhequite
overpowered with excess of joysank into a sound sleepand
Marina watched in silence by the couch of her sleeping parent.
While he sleptPericles dreamed a dream which made him resolve
to go to Ephesus. His dream was that Dianathe goddess of the
Ephesiansappeared to him and commanded him to go to her temple
at Ephesusand there before her altar to declare the story of
his life and misfortunes; and by her silver bow she swore that if
he performed her injunction he should meet with some rare
felicity. When he awokebeing miraculously refreshedhe told
his dreamand that his resolution was to obey the bidding of the
Then Lysimachus invited Pericles to come on shore and refresh
himself with such entertainment as he should find at Mitylene
which courteous offer Pericles acceptingagreed to tarry with
him for the space of a day or two. During which time we may well
suppose what feastingswhat rejoicingswhat costly shows and
entertainments the governor made in Mitylene to greet the royal
father of his dear Marinawhom in her obscure fortunes he had so
respected. Nor did Pericles frown upon Lysimachus's suitwhen he
understood how he had honored his child in the days of her low
estateand that Marina showed herself not averse to his
proposals; only he made it a conditionbefore he gave his
consentthat they should visit with him the shrine of the
Ephesian Diana; to whose temple they shortly after all three
undertook a voyage; andthe goddess herself filling their sails
with prosperous windsafter a few weeks they arrived in safety
There was standing near the altar of the goddesswhen Pericles
with his train entered the templethe good Cerimon (now grown
very aged)who had restored Thaisathe wife of Periclesto
life; and Thaisanow a priestess of the templewas standing
before the altar; and though the many years he had passed in
sorrow for her loss had much altered PericlesThaisa thought she
knew her husband's featuresand when he approached the altar and
began to speakshe remembered his voiceand listened to his
words with wonder and a joyful amazement. And these were the
words that Pericles spoke before the altar:
Hail, Diana! to perform thy just commands I here confess myself
the Prince of Tyre, who, frighted from my country, at Pentapolis
wedded the fair Thaisa. She died at sea in childbed, but brought
forth a maid-child called Marina. She at Tarsus was nursed with
Dionysia, who at fourteen years thought to kill her, but her
better stars brought her to Mitylene, by whose shores as I sailed
her good fortunes brought this maid on board, where by her most
clear remembrance she made herself known to be my daughter.
Thaisaunable to bear the transports which his words had raised
in hercried outYou are, you are, O royal Periclesand
What means this woman?said Pericles. "She dies! Gentlemen
Sir,said Cerimonif you have told Diana's altar true, this
is your wife.
Reverend gentleman, no,said Pericles. "I threw her overboard
with these very arms."
Cerimon then recounted howearly one tempestuous morningthis
lady was thrown upon the Ephesian shore; howopening the coffin
he found therein rich jewels and a paper; howhappilyhe
recovered her and placed her here in Diana's temple.
And now Thaisabeing restored from her swoonsaid: "O my lord
are you not Pericles? Like him you speaklike him you are. Did
you not name a tempesta birthand death?"
HeastonishedsaidThe voice of dead Thaisa!
That Thaisa am I,she repliedsupposed dead and drowned.
O true Diana!exclaimed Periclesin a passion of devout
And now,said ThaisaI know you better. Such a ring as I see
on your finger did the king my father give you when we with tears
parted from him at Pentapolis.
Enough, you gods!cried Pericles. "Your present kindness makes
my past miseries sport. OhcomeThaisabe buried a second time
within these arms."
And Marina saidMy heart leaps to be gone into my mother's
Then did Pericles show his daughter to her mothersayingLook
who kneels here, flesh of thy flesh, thy burthen at sea, and
called Marina because she was yielded there.
Blessed and my own!said Thaisa. And while she hung in
rapturous joy over her child Pericles knelt before the altar
Pure Diana, bless thee for thy vision. For this I will offer
oblations nightly to thee.
And then and there did Pericleswith the consent of Thaisa
solemnly affiance their daughterthe virtuous Marinato the
well-deserving Lysimachus in marriage.
Thus have we seen in Pericleshis queenand daughtera famous
example of virtue assailed by calamity (through the sufferance of
Heavento teach patience and constancy to men)under the same
guidance becoming finally successful and triumphing over chance
and change. In Helicanus we have beheld a notable pattern of
truthof faithand loyaltywhowhen he might have succeeded
to a thronechose rather to recall the rightful owner to his
possession than to become great by another's wrong. In the worthy
Cerimonwho restored Thaisa to lifewe are instructed how
goodnessdirected by knowledgein bestowing benefits upon
mankind approaches to the nature of the gods. It only remains to
be told that Dionysiathe wicked wife of Cleonmet with an end
proportionable to her deserts. The inhabitants of Tarsuswhen
her cruel attempt upon Marina was knownrising in a body to
revenge the daughter of their benefactorand setting fire to the
palace of Cleonburned both him and her and their whole
householdthe gods seeming well pleased that so foul a murder
though but intentional and never carried into actshould be
punished in a way befitting its enormity.