William Shakespeare: As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

Scene VII

The forest

A table set out. Enter Duke Senior, Amiens, and Lords like outlaws

Duke Senior

I think he be transform'd into a beast; For I can no where find him like a man.

First Lord

My lord, he is but even now gone hence: Here was he merry, hearing of a song.

Duke Senior

If he, compact of jars, grow musical, We shall have shortly discord in the spheres. Go, seek him: tell him I would speak with him.

Enter Jaques

First Lord

He saves my labour by his own approach.

Duke Senior

Why, how now, monsieur! what a life is this, That your poor friends must woo your company? What, you look merrily!

Jaques

A fool, a fool! I met a fool i' the forest, A motley fool; a miserable world! As I do live by food, I met a fool Who laid him down and bask'd him in the sun, And rail'd on Lady Fortune in good terms, In good set terms and yet a motley fool. 'Good morrow, fool,' quoth I. 'No, sir,' quoth he, 'Call me not fool till heaven hath sent me fortune:' And then he drew a dial from his poke, And, looking on it with lack-lustre eye, Says very wisely, 'It is ten o'clock: Thus we may see,' quoth he, 'how the world wags: 'Tis but an hour ago since it was nine, And after one hour more 'twill be eleven; And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe, And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot; And thereby hangs a tale.' When I did hear The motley fool thus moral on the time, My lungs began to crow like chanticleer, That fools should be so deep-contemplative, And I did laugh sans intermission An hour by his dial. O noble fool! A worthy fool! Motley's the only wear.

Duke Senior

What fool is this?

Jaques

O worthy fool! One that hath been a courtier, And says, if ladies be but young and fair, They have the gift to know it: and in his brain, Which is as dry as the remainder biscuit After a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd With observation, the which he vents In mangled forms. O that I were a fool! I am ambitious for a motley coat.

Duke Senior

Thou shalt have one.

Jaques

It is my only suit; Provided that you weed your better judgments Of all opinion that grows rank in them That I am wise. I must have liberty Withal, as large a charter as the wind, To blow on whom I please; for so fools have; And they that are most galled with my folly, They most must laugh. And why, sir, must they so? The 'why' is plain as way to parish church: He that a fool doth very wisely hit Doth very foolishly, although he smart, Not to seem senseless of the bob: if not, The wise man's folly is anatomized Even by the squandering glances of the fool. Invest me in my motley; give me leave To speak my mind, and I will through and through Cleanse the foul body of the infected world, If they will patiently receive my medicine.

Duke Senior

Fie on thee! I can tell what thou wouldst do.

Jaques

What, for a counter, would I do but good?

Duke Senior

Most mischievous foul sin, in chiding sin: For thou thyself hast been a libertine, As sensual as the brutish sting itself; And all the embossed sores and headed evils, That thou with licence of free foot hast caught, Wouldst thou disgorge into the general world.

Jaques

Why, who cries out on pride, That can therein tax any private party? Doth it not flow as hugely as the sea, Till that the weary very means do ebb? What woman in the city do I name, When that I say the city-woman bears The cost of princes on unworthy shoulders? Who can come in and say that I mean her, When such a one as she such is her neighbour? Or what is he of basest function That says his bravery is not of my cost, Thinking that I mean him, but therein suits His folly to the mettle of my speech? There then; how then? what then? Let me see wherein My tongue hath wrong'd him: if it do him right, Then he hath wrong'd himself; if he be free, Why then my taxing like a wild-goose flies, Unclaim'd of any man. But who comes here?

Enter Orlando, with his sword drawn

Orlando

Forbear, and eat no more.

Jaques

Why, I have eat none yet.

Orlando

Nor shalt not, till necessity be served.

Jaques

Of what kind should this cock come of?

Duke Senior

Art thou thus bolden'd, man, by thy distress, Or else a rude despiser of good manners, That in civility thou seem'st so empty?

Orlando

You touch'd my vein at first: the thorny point Of bare distress hath ta'en from me the show Of smooth civility: yet am I inland bred And know some nurture. But forbear, I say: He dies that touches any of this fruit Till I and my affairs are answered.

Jaques

An you will not be answered with reason, I must die.

Duke Senior

What would you have? Your gentleness shall force More than your force move us to gentleness.

Orlando

I almost die for food; and let me have it.

Duke Senior

Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table.

Orlando

Speak you so gently? Pardon me, I pray you: I thought that all things had been savage here; And therefore put I on the countenance Of stern commandment. But whate'er you are That in this desert inaccessible, Under the shade of melancholy boughs, Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time If ever you have look'd on better days, If ever been where bells have knoll'd to church, If ever sat at any good man's feast, If ever from your eyelids wiped a tear And know what 'tis to pity and be pitied, Let gentleness my strong enforcement be: In the which hope I blush, and hide my sword.

Duke Senior

True is it that we have seen better days, And have with holy bell been knoll'd to church And sat at good men's feasts and wiped our eyes Of drops that sacred pity hath engender'd: And therefore sit you down in gentleness And take upon command what help we have That to your wanting may be minister'd.

Orlando

Then but forbear your food a little while, Whiles, like a doe, I go to find my fawn And give it food. There is an old poor man, Who after me hath many a weary step Limp'd in pure love: till he be first sufficed, Oppress'd with two weak evils, age and hunger, I will not touch a bit.

Duke Senior

Go find him out, And we will nothing waste till you return.

Orlando

I thank ye; and be blest for your good comfort!

Exit

Duke Senior

Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy: This wide and universal theatre Presents more woeful pageants than the scene Wherein we play in.

Jaques

All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages. At first the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms. And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school. And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice, In fair round belly with good capon lined, With eyes severe and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side, His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Re-enter Orlando, with Adam

Duke Senior

Welcome. Set down your venerable burthen, And let him feed.

Orlando

I thank you most for him.

Adam

So had you need: I scarce can speak to thank you for myself.

Duke Senior

Welcome; fall to: I will not trouble you As yet, to question you about your fortunes. Give us some music; and, good cousin, sing.

Song.

Amiens

Blow, blow, thou winter wind. Thou art not so unkind As man's ingratitude; Thy tooth is not so keen, Because thou art not seen, Although thy breath be rude. Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly: Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly: Then, heigh-ho, the holly! This life is most jolly. Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky, That dost not bite so nigh As benefits forgot: Though thou the waters warp, Thy sting is not so sharp As friend remember'd not. Heigh-ho! sing, &c.

Duke Senior

If that you were the good Sir Rowland's son, As you have whisper'd faithfully you were, And as mine eye doth his effigies witness Most truly limn'd and living in your face, Be truly welcome hither: I am the duke That loved your father: the residue of your fortune, Go to my cave and tell me. Good old man, Thou art right welcome as thy master is. Support him by the arm. Give me your hand, And let me all your fortunes understand.

Exeunt