« PreviousContinue »
And make a sop of all this solid globe:
Strength should be lord of imbecility,
And the rude son should strike his father dead:
Force should be right; or, rather, right and wrong
(Between whose endless jar justice resides)
Should lose their names, and so should justice too.
Then everything includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite;
And appetite, an universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make, perforce, an universal prey,
And, last, eat up himself.
This chaos, when degree is suffocate,
Follows the choking.
And this neglection of degree is it,
That by a pace goes backward, in a purpose
It hath to climb. The general ’s disdain'd
By him one step below; he, by the next;
That next, by him beneath: so every step,
Exampled by the first pace that is sick
Of his superior, grows to an envious fever
Of pale and bloodless emulation:
And 't is this fever that keeps Troy on foot,
Not her own sinews. To end a tale of length,
Troy in our weakness lives, not in her strength.
NEST. Most wisely hath Ulysses here discover'd The fever whereof all our power is sick.
AGAM. The nature of the sickness found, Ulysses, What is the remedy?
Ulyss. The great Achilles, whom opinion crowns The sinew and the forehand of our host, Having his ear full of his airy fame, Grows dainty of his worth, and in his tent Lies mocking our designs: With him, Patroclus, Upon a lazy bed, the livelong day Breaks scurril jests; And with ridiculous and awkward action (Which, slanderer, he imitation calls) He pageants us. Sometime, great Agamemnon, Thy topless deputation he puts on;
And like a strutting player, whose conceit
Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich
To hear the wooden dialogue and sound
'Twixt his stretch'd footing and the scaffoldage,
Such to-be-pitied and o'er-wrested seeming
He acts thy greatness in: and when he speaks,
'T is like a chime a mending; with terms unsquar’d,
Which from the tongue of roaring Typhon dropp'd
Would seem hyperboles. At this fusty stuff,
The large Achilles, on his press'd bed lolling,
From his deep chest laughs out a loud applause;
Cries—“Excellent!—'T is Agamemnon just, —
Now play me Nestor—hem, and stroke thy beard,
As he, being 'dress'd to some oration.”
That's done ;-as near as the extremest ends
Of parallels,—as like as Vulcan and his wife:
Yet god Achilles still cries, Excellent;
T is Nestor right! Now play him me, Patroclus,
Arming to answer in a night alarm.”
And then, forsooth, the faint defects of age
Must be the scene of mirth; to cough, and spit,
And with a palsy, fumbling on his gorget,
Shake in and out the rivet ;—and at this sport,
Sir Valour dies; cries, “0!-enough, Patroclus;
Or give me ribs of steel! I shall split all
In pleasure of my spleen.” And in this fashion,
All our abilities, gifts, natures, shapes,
Severals and generals of grace exact,
Achievements, plots, orders, preventions,
Excitements to the field, or speech for truce,
Success, or loss, what is, or is not, serves
As stuff for these two to make paradoxes.
NEST. And in the imitation of these twain
(Whom, as Ulysses says, opinion crowns
With an imperial voice) many are infect.
Ajax is grown self-will’d; and bears his head
In such a rein, in full as proud a place,
As broad Achilles; keeps his tent like him;
Makes factious feasts; rails on our state of war,
Bold as an oracle; and sets Thersites
(A slave whose gall coins slanders like a mint)
To match us in comparisons with dirt;
To weaken and discredit our exposure,
How rank soever rounded in with danger.
Ulyss. They tax our policy, and call it cowardice;
Count wisdom as no member of the war;
Forestall prescience, and esteem no act
But that of hand: the still and mental parts, —
That do contrive how many hands shall strike,
When fitness calls them on; and know, by measure
Of their observant toil, the enemies' weight,-
Why, this hath not a finger’s dignity:
They call this bed-work, mappery, closet-war:
So that the ram that batters down the wall,
For the great swing and rudeness of his poise,
They place before his hand that made the engine;
Or those that with the fineness of their souls
By reason guide his execution.
NEST. Let this be granted, and Achilles' horse
Makes many Thetis' sons.
[T'ucket sounds. AGAM. What trumpet ? look, Menelaus.
MEN. From Troy.
What would you 'fore our tent?
Is this Great Agamemnon's tent, I pray you? AGAM.
Even this. ÆNE. May one that is a herald, and a prince, Do a fair message to his kingly ears?
AGAM. With surety stronger than Achilles' arm
Fore all the Greekish heads, which with one voice
Call Agamemnon head and general.
ÆNE. Fair leave, and large security. How may
A stranger to those most imperial looks
Know them from eyes of other mortals ?
I ask, that I might waken reverence,
And bid the cheek be ready with a blush
Modest as morning when she coldly eyes
The youthful Phæbus:
Which is that god in office, guiding men?
Which is the high and mighty Agamemnon?
AGAM. This Trojan scorns us; or the men of Troy
Are ceremonious courtiers.
ÆNE. Courtiers as free, as debonair, unarm'd,
As bending angels; that 's their fame in peace:
But when they would seem soldiers, they have galls,
Good arms, strong joints, true swords; and, Jove's accord,
Nothing so full of heart. But peace, Æneas;
Peace, Trojan; lay thy finger on thy lips !
The worthiness of praise distains his worth,
If that the prais'd himself bring the praise forth:
But what the repining enemy commends,
That breath fame blows; that praise, sole pure, transcends.
AGAM. Sir, you of Troy, call you yourself Æneas ?
ÆNE. Ay, Greek, that is my name.
What is your affair, I pray you?
ÆNE. Sir, pardon, 't is for Agamemnon's ears.
AGAM. He hears nought privately that comes from Troy.
ÆNE. Nor I from Troy come not to whisper him:
I bring a trumpet to awake his ear;
To set his sense on the attentive bent,
And then to speak.
Speak frankly as the wind;
It is not Agamemnon's sleeping hour:
That thou shalt know, Trojan, he is awake,
He tells thee so himself.
Trumpet, blow loud,
Send thy brass voice through all these lazy tents;
And every Greek of mettle, let him know,
What Troy means fairly shall be spoke aloud. [Trumpet sounds.
We have, great Agamemnon, here in Troy
A prince call'd Hector, (Priam is his father,)
Who in this dull and long-continued truce
Is rusty grown; he bade me take a trumpet,
And to this purpose speak. Kings, princes, lords !
If there be one, among the fair'st of Greece,
That holds his honour higher than his ease;
That seeks his praise more than he fears his peril;
That knows his valour, and knows not his fear;
That loves his mistress more than in confession,
(With truant vows to her own lips he loves,)
And dare avow her beauty and her worth,
In other arms than hers—to him this challenge.
Hector, in view of Trojans and of Greeks,
Shall make it good, or do his best to do it,
He hath a lady, wiser, fairer, truer,
Than ever Greek did compass in his arms;
And will to-morrow with his trumpet call,
Mid-way between your tents and walls of Troy,
To rouse a Grecian that is true in love:
If any come, Hector shall honour him ;
If none, he 'll say in Troy, when he retires,
The Grecian dames are sunburnt, and not worth
The splinter of a lance. Even so much.
AGAM. This shall be told our lovers, lord Æneas;
If none of them have soul in such a kind,
We left them all at home: But we are soldiers;
And may that soldier a mere recreant prove,
That means not, hath not, or is not in love!
If then one is, or hath, or means to be,
That one meets Hector; if none else, I'll be he.
NEST. Tell him of Nestor, one that was a man
When Hector's grandsire suck’d: he is old pow;
But, if there be not in our Grecian mould
One noble man, that hath one spark of fire
To answer for his love, tell him from me,-
I 'll hide my silver beard in a gold beaver,
And in my vantbrace put this wither'd brawn;
And meeting him, will tell him, that my lady
Was fairer than his grandame, and as chaste
As may be in the world; his youth in flood,
I'll pawn this truth with my three drops of blood.
ÆNE. Now heavens forbid such scarcity of youth!
AGAM. Fair lord Æneas, let me touch your hand; To our pavilion shall I lead you first,