Enter Agamemnon, Ulysses, Diomedes, Nestor, Ajax, Menelaus, and Calchas
Now, princes, for the service I have done you, The advantage of the time prompts me aloud To call for recompense. Appear it to your mind That, through the sight I bear in things to love, I have abandon'd Troy, left my possession, Incurr'd a traitor's name; exposed myself, From certain and possess'd conveniences, To doubtful fortunes; sequestering from me all That time, acquaintance, custom and condition Made tame and most familiar to my nature, And here, to do you service, am become As new into the world, strange, unacquainted: I do beseech you, as in way of taste, To give me now a little benefit, Out of those many register'd in promise, Which, you say, live to come in my behalf.
You have a Trojan prisoner, call'd Antenor, Yesterday took: Troy holds him very dear. Oft have you—often have you thanks therefore— Desired my Cressid in right great exchange, Whom Troy hath still denied: but this Antenor, I know, is such a wrest in their affairs That their negotiations all must slack, Wanting his manage; and they will almost Give us a prince of blood, a son of Priam, In change of him: let him be sent, great princes, And he shall buy my daughter; and her presence Shall quite strike off all service I have done, In most accepted pain.
Let Diomedes bear him, And bring us Cressid hither: Calchas shall have What he requests of us. Good Diomed, Furnish you fairly for this interchange: Withal bring word if Hector will to-morrow Be answer'd in his challenge: Ajax is ready.
This shall I undertake; and 'tis a burden Which I am proud to bear.
Exeunt Diomedes and Calchas
Enter Achilles and Patroclus, before their tent
Achilles stands i' the entrance of his tent: Please it our general to pass strangely by him, As if he were forgot; and, princes all, Lay negligent and loose regard upon him: I will come last. 'Tis like he'll question me Why such unplausive eyes are bent on him: If so, I have derision medicinable, To use between your strangeness and his pride, Which his own will shall have desire to drink: It may be good: pride hath no other glass To show itself but pride, for supple knees Feed arrogance and are the proud man's fees.
We'll execute your purpose, and put on A form of strangeness as we pass along: So do each lord, and either greet him not, Or else disdainfully, which shall shake him more Than if not look'd on. I will lead the way.
What, comes the general to speak with me? You know my mind, I'll fight no more 'gainst Troy.
Exeunt Agamemnon and Nestor
They pass by strangely: they were used to bend To send their smiles before them to Achilles; To come as humbly as they used to creep To holy altars.
What, am I poor of late? 'Tis certain, greatness, once fall'n out with fortune, Must fall out with men too: what the declined is He shall as soon read in the eyes of others As feel in his own fall; for men, like butterflies, Show not their mealy wings but to the summer, And not a man, for being simply man, Hath any honour, but honour for those honours That are without him, as place, riches, favour, Prizes of accident as oft as merit: Which when they fall, as being slippery standers, The love that lean'd on them as slippery too, Do one pluck down another and together Die in the fall. But 'tis not so with me: Fortune and I are friends: I do enjoy At ample point all that I did possess, Save these men's looks; who do, methinks, find out Something not worth in me such rich beholding As they have often given. Here is Ulysses; I'll interrupt his reading. How now Ulysses!
A strange fellow here Writes me: 'That man, how dearly ever parted, How much in having, or without or in, Cannot make boast to have that which he hath, Nor feels not what he owes, but by reflection; As when his virtues shining upon others Heat them and they retort that heat again To the first giver.'
This is not strange, Ulysses. The beauty that is borne here in the face The bearer knows not, but commends itself To others' eyes; nor doth the eye itself, That most pure spirit of sense, behold itself, Not going from itself; but eye to eye opposed Salutes each other with each other's form; For speculation turns not to itself, Till it hath travell'd and is mirror'd there Where it may see itself. This is not strange at all.
I do not strain at the position,— It is familiar,—but at the author's drift; Who, in his circumstance, expressly proves That no man is the lord of any thing, Though in and of him there be much consisting, Till he communicate his parts to others: Nor doth he of himself know them for aught Till he behold them form'd in the applause Where they're extended; who, like an arch, reverberates The voice again, or, like a gate of steel Fronting the sun, receives and renders back His figure and his heat. I was much wrapt in this; And apprehended here immediately The unknown Ajax. Heavens, what a man is there! a very horse, That has he knows not what. Nature, what things there are Most abject in regard and dear in use! What things again most dear in the esteem And poor in worth! Now shall we see to-morrow— An act that very chance doth throw upon him— Ajax renown'd. O heavens, what some men do, While some men leave to do! How some men creep in skittish fortune's hall, Whiles others play the idiots in her eyes! How one man eats into another's pride, While pride is fasting in his wantonness! To see these Grecian lords!—why, even already They clap the lubber Ajax on the shoulder, As if his foot were on brave Hector's breast And great Troy shrieking.
I do believe it; for they pass'd by me As misers do by beggars, neither gave to me Good word nor look: what, are my deeds forgot?
Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back, Wherein he puts alms for oblivion, A great-sized monster of ingratitudes: Those scraps are good deeds past; which are devour'd As fast as they are made, forgot as soon As done: perseverance, dear my lord, Keeps honour bright: to have done is to hang Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail In monumental mockery. Take the instant way; For honour travels in a strait so narrow, Where one but goes abreast: keep then the path; For emulation hath a thousand sons That one by one pursue: if you give way, Or hedge aside from the direct forthright, Like to an enter'd tide, they all rush by And leave you hindmost; Or like a gallant horse fall'n in first rank, Lie there for pavement to the abject rear, O'er-run and trampled on: then what they do in present, Though less than yours in past, must o'ertop yours; For time is like a fashionable host That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand, And with his arms outstretch'd, as he would fly, Grasps in the comer: welcome ever smiles, And farewell goes out sighing. O, let not virtue seek Remuneration for the thing it was; For beauty, wit, High birth, vigour of bone, desert in service, Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all To envious and calumniating time. One touch of nature makes the whole world kin, That all with one consent praise new-born gawds, Though they are made and moulded of things past, And give to dust that is a little gilt More laud than gilt o'er-dusted. The present eye praises the present object. Then marvel not, thou great and complete man, That all the Greeks begin to worship Ajax; Since things in motion sooner catch the eye Than what not stirs. The cry went once on thee, And still it might, and yet it may again, If thou wouldst not entomb thyself alive And case thy reputation in thy tent; Whose glorious deeds, but in these fields of late, Made emulous missions 'mongst the gods themselves And drave great Mars to faction.
But 'gainst your privacy The reasons are more potent and heroical: 'Tis known, Achilles, that you are in love With one of Priam's daughters.
Is that a wonder? The providence that's in a watchful state Knows almost every grain of Plutus' gold, Finds bottom in the uncomprehensive deeps, Keeps place with thought and almost, like the gods, Does thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles. There is a mystery—with whom relation Durst never meddle—in the soul of state; Which hath an operation more divine Than breath or pen can give expressure to: All the commerce that you have had with Troy As perfectly is ours as yours, my lord; And better would it fit Achilles much To throw down Hector than Polyxena: But it must grieve young Pyrrhus now at home, When fame shall in our islands sound her trump, And all the Greekish girls shall tripping sing, 'Great Hector's sister did Achilles win, But our great Ajax bravely beat down him.' Farewell, my lord: I as your lover speak; The fool slides o'er the ice that you should break.
To this effect, Achilles, have I moved you: A woman impudent and mannish grown Is not more loathed than an effeminate man In time of action. I stand condemn'd for this; They think my little stomach to the war And your great love to me restrains you thus: Sweet, rouse yourself; and the weak wanton Cupid Shall from your neck unloose his amorous fold, And, like a dew-drop from the lion's mane, Be shook to air.
O, then, beware; Those wounds heal ill that men do give themselves: Omission to do what is necessary Seals a commission to a blank of danger; And danger, like an ague, subtly taints Even then when we sit idly in the sun.
Go call Thersites hither, sweet Patroclus: I'll send the fool to Ajax and desire him To invite the Trojan lords after the combat To see us here unarm'd: I have a woman's longing, An appetite that I am sick withal, To see great Hector in his weeds of peace, To talk with him and to behold his visage, Even to my full of view.
A labour saved!
He must fight singly to-morrow with Hector, and is so prophetically proud of an heroical cudgelling that he raves in saying nothing.
Why, he stalks up and down like a peacock,—a stride and a stand: ruminates like an hostess that hath no arithmetic but her brain to set down her reckoning: bites his lip with a politic regard, as who should say 'There were wit in this head, an 'twould out;' and so there is, but it lies as coldly in him as fire in a flint, which will not show without knocking. The man's undone forever; for if Hector break not his neck i' the combat, he'll break 't himself in vain-glory. He knows not me: I said 'Good morrow, Ajax;' and he replies 'Thanks, Agamemnon.' What think you of this man that takes me for the general? He's grown a very land-fish, language-less, a monster. A plague of opinion! a man may wear it on both sides, like a leather jerkin.
Who, I? why, he'll answer nobody; he professes not answering: speaking is for beggars; he wears his tongue in's arms. I will put on his presence: let Patroclus make demands to me, you shall see the pageant of Ajax.
To him, Patroclus; tell him I humbly desire the valiant Ajax to invite the most valorous Hector to come unarmed to my tent, and to procure safe-conduct for his person of the magnanimous and most illustrious six-or-seven-times-honoured captain-general of the Grecian army, Agamemnon, et cetera. Do this.
If to-morrow be a fair day, by eleven o'clock it will go one way or other: howsoever, he shall pay for me ere he has me.
No, but he's out o' tune thus. What music will be in him when Hector has knocked out his brains, I know not; but, I am sure, none, unless the fiddler Apollo get his sinews to make catlings on.
Exeunt Achilles and Patroclus
Would the fountain of your mind were clear again, that I might water an ass at it! I had rather be a tick in a sheep than such a valiant ignorance.