Part 2 out of 6
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 pity, and because he heard she was dying
of love for him; and Beatrice protested that she yielded but upon
great persuasion, and partly to save his life, for she heard he
was in a consumption. So these two mad wits were reconciled and
made a match of it, after Claudio and Hero were married; and to
complete the history, Don John, the contriver of the villainy,
was taken in his flight and brought back to Messina; and a
punishment it was to this gloomy, discontented man to see the joy
and feastings which, by the disappointment of his plots, took
place in the palace in Messina.
AS YOU LIKE IT
During the time that France was divided into provinces (or
dukedoms, as they were called) there reigned in one of these
provinces a usurper who had deposed and banished his elder
brother, the 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 friends, who had put themselves into a
voluntary exile for his sake, while 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 England, and to this forest many noble youths
daily resorted from the court, and 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 trees, marking the
playful sports of the wild deer; and so fond were they of these
poor dappled fools, who seemed to be the native inhabitants of
the forest, that 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
fortune, he would endure it patiently, and 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 his, remote from public haunts, he could find
tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones,
and good in everything.
The banished duke had an only daughter, named Rosalind, whom the
usurper, Duke Frederick, when he banished her father, still
retained in his court as a companion for his own daughter, Celia.
A strict friendship subsisted between these ladies, which the
disagreement between their fathers did not in the least
interrupt, Celia 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 banishment, and her own dependence on the false usurper,
made Rosalind melancholy, Celia's whole care was to comfort and
One day, when Celia was talking in her usual kind manner to
Rosalind, saying, "I pray you, Rosalind, my sweet cousin, be
merry," a messenger entered from the duke, to tell them that if
they wished to see a wrestling-match, which was just going to
begin, they must come instantly to the court before the palace;
and Celia, thinking it would amuse Rosalind, agreed to go and see
In those times wrestling, which is only practised now by country
clowns, was a favorite sport even in the courts of princes, and
before fair ladies and princesses. To this wrestling-match,
therefore, Celia and Rosalind went. They found that it was likely
to prove a very tragical sight; for a large and powerful man, who
had been long practised in the art of wrestling and had slain
many men in contests of this kind, was just going to wrestle with
a very young man, who, from his extreme youth and inexperience in
the art, the beholders all thought would certainly be killed.
When the duke saw Celia and Rosalind he said: "How now, daughter
and niece, are you crept hither to see the wrestling? You will
take little delight in it, there is such odds in the men. In pity
to this young man, I would wish to persuade him from wrestling.
Speak to him, ladies, and see if you can move him."
The ladies were well pleased to perform this humane office, and
first Celia entreated the young stranger that he would desist
from the attempt; and then Rosalind spoke so kindly to him, and
with such feeling consideration for the danger he was about to
undergo, that, instead of being persuaded by her gentle words to
forego his purpose, all 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 in, and that he wished to
die, made Rosalind think that he was, like herself, unfortunate;
and she pitied him so much, and so deep an interest she took in
his danger while he was wrestling, that 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 strength, so that he performed
wonders; and in the end completely conquered his antagonist, who
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
parentage, meaning to take him under his protection.
The stranger said his name was Orlando, and that he was the
youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys.
Sir Rowland de Boys, the father of Orlando, had been dead some
years; but when he was living he had been a true subject and dear
friend of the banished duke; therefore, when Frederick heard
Orlando was the son of his banished brother's friend, all 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 friends, and yet still admiring the valor
of the youth, he said, as he went out, that 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 Celia, "My 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 and, seeing him abashed by the
sudden displeasure shown by the duke, they spoke kind and
encouraging words to him; and Rosalind, when they were going
away, turned back to speak some more civil things to the brave
young son of her father's old friend, and taking a chain from off
her neck, she 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 alone, Rosalind's talk being still of
Orlando, Celia began to perceive her cousin had fallen in love
with the handsome young wrestler, and she said to Rosalind:
"Is it possible you should fall in love so suddenly?"
Rosalind replied, "The duke, my father, loved his father dearly."
"But," said Celia, "does 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."
Frederick, being enraged at the sight of Sir Rowland de Boys's
son, which reminded him of the many friends the banished duke had
among the nobility, and 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 sake, his malice suddenly broke
out against her; and while Celia and Rosalind were talking of
Orlando, Frederick entered the room and with looks full of anger
ordered Rosalind instantly to leave the palace and follow her
father into banishment, telling Celia, who in vain pleaded for
her, that he had only suffered Rosalind to stay upon her account.
"I did not then," said Celia, "entreat 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 silence, and her patience speak to the people, and they
pity her. You are a fool to plead for her, for you will seem more
bright and virtuous when she is gone; therefore open not your
lips in her favor, for the doom which I have passed upon her is
When Celia found she could not prevail upon her father to let
Rosalind remain with her, she generously resolved to accompany
her; and, leaving her father's palace that night, she went along
with her friend to seek Rosalind's father, the banished duke, in
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 that, as
Rosalind was the tallest, she should wear the dress of a young
countryman, and Celia should be habited like a country lass, and
that they should say they were brother and sister; and Rosalind
said she would be called Ganymede, and Celia chose the name of
In this disguise, and taking their money and jewels to defray
their expenses, these fair princesses set out on their long
travel; for the forest of Arden was a long way off, beyond the
boundaries of the duke's dominions.
The lady Rosalind (or Ganymede, as 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 brother, in recompense for this
true love, exert a cheerful spirit, as if he were indeed
Ganymede, the rustic and stout-hearted brother of the gentle
village maiden, Aliena.
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 road, and, being in want of food and rest, Ganymede,
who had so merrily cheered his sister with pleasant speeches and
happy remarks all the way, now 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 woman, as the weaker vessel;
and to seem courageous to his new sister, he 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; for, though they were in the forest of Arden, they knew not
where to find the duke. And here the travel of these weary ladies
might have come to a sad conclusion, for they might have lost
themselves and perished for want of food, but, providentially, as
they were sitting on the grass, almost dying with fatigue and
hopeless of any relief, a 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 shepherd, and
that his master's house was just going to be sold, and 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 man, the near prospect of relief giving them fresh strength,
and bought the house and sheep of the shepherd, and 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 provisions, they 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 journey, they
began to like their new way of life, and 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 Rowland, her father's friend; and though
Ganymede thought that Orlando was many miles distant, even so
many weary miles as they had traveled, yet 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 Boys, who, when he
died, left him (Orlando being then very young) to the care of his
eldest brother, Oliver, charging 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
brother, and, disregarding the commands of his dying father, he
never put his brother to school, but 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 that, without any advantages of education, he 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 him, and to effect this
be set on people to persuade him to wrestle with the famous
wrestler who, as has been before related, had killed so many men.
Now it was this cruel brother's neglect of him which made Orlando
say he wished to die, being so friendless.
When, contrary to the wicked hopes he had formed, his brother
proved victorious, his envy and malice knew no bounds, and 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 father, and that loved Orlando because he
resembled Sir Rowland. This old man went out to meet him when he
returned from the duke's palace, and 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."
Orlando, wondering what all this meant, asked him what was the
matter. And then the old man told him how his wicked brother,
envying the love all people bore him, and now hearing the fame he
had gained by his victory in the duke's palace, intended to
destroy him by setting fire to his chamber that night, and in
conclusion advised him to escape the danger he was in by
instant flight; and knowing Orlando had no money, Adam (for that
was the good old man's name) had brought out with him his own
little hoard, and 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 Orlando, "how 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
Together, then, this faithful servant and his loved master set
out; and Orlando and Adam traveled on, uncertain what course to
pursue, till they came to the forest of Arden, and there they
found themselves in the same distress for want of food that
Ganymede and Aliena had been. They wandered on, seeking some
human habitation, till they were almost spent with hunger and
Adam at last said: "O my dear master, I die for want of food. I
can go no farther!" He then laid himself down, thinking to make
that place his grave, and bade his dear master farewell.
Orlando, seeing him in this weak state, took his old servant up
in his arms and carried him under the shelter of some pleasant
trees; and he said to him: "Cheerly, old Adam. Rest your weary
limbs here awhile, and do not talk of dying!"
Orlando then searched about to find some food, and 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 dinner, this royal duke
being seated on the grass, under no other canopy than the shady
covert of some large trees.
Orlando, whom hunger had made desperate, drew his sword,
intending to take their meat by force, and 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. Orlando, hearing 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 here, and therefore I put on the countenance of stern
command; but whatever men you are that in this desert, under the
shade of melancholy boughs, lose and neglect the creeping hours
of time, if ever you have looked on better days, if ever you have
been where bells have knolled to church, if you have ever sat at
any good man's feast, if ever from your eyelids you have wiped a
tear and know what it is to pity or be pitied, may 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 days, and though we have now our habitation in
this wild forest, we have lived in towns and cities and have with
holy bell been knolled to church, have 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 Orlando, "who 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 returned, bringing Adam in his arms.
And the duke said, "Set down your venerable burthen; you are both
And they fed the old man and cheered his heart, and 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 friend, Sir Rowland de Boys, be took him under
his protection, and 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 trees, and 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 who, by her noble condescension and favor, had 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 him, and be thought he saw a
likeness in Ganymede to his beloved Rosalind, but 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 lover, "who," said she, "haunts 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 proposed, and 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 Ganymede, "I 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 remedy, yet he agreed to come
every day to Ganymede's cottage and feign a playful courtship;
and every day Orlando visited Ganymede and Aliena, and Orlando
called the shepherd Ganymede his Rosalind, and 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
appear, however, that 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 Aliena, seeing it made Ganymede
happy, let him have his own way and was diverted at the
mock-courtship, and 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 day, and had some talk with
him, and the duke asked of what parentage he came. Ganymede
answered that he came of as good parentage as he did, which made
the duke smile, for 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 morning, as Orlando was going to visit Ganymede, he saw a man
lying asleep on the ground, and a large green snake had twisted
itself about his neck. The snake, seeing Orlando approach, glided
away among the bushes. Orlando went nearer, and then he
discovered a lioness lie crouching, with her head on the ground,
with a catlike watch, waiting 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
fire, and 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 her, and 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 lioness, Oliver awaked, and,
perceiving that his brother Orlando, whom he had so cruelly
treated, was saving him from the fury of a wild beast at the risk
of his own life, shame and remorse at once seized him, and 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 penitent, and readily forgave him. They
embraced each other and from that hour Oliver loved Orlando with
a true brotherly affection, though he had come to the forest bent
on his destruction.
The wound in Orlando's arm having bled very much, he found
himself too weak to go to visit Ganymede, and therefore he
desired his brother to go and tell Ganymede, "whom," said
Orlando, "I in sport do call my Rosalind," the accident which had
Thither then Oliver went, and 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 fault, he as
suddenly fell in love with her. But while love was thus stealing
into the hearts of Aliena and Oliver, he was no less busy with
Ganymede, who, hearing of the danger Orlando had been in, and
that he was wounded by the lioness, fainted; and when he
recovered he pretended that he had counterfeited the swoon in the
imaginary character of Rosalind, and 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 faint, and, much wondering at the weakness of the young
man, he said, "Well, if you did counterfeit, take a good heart
and counterfeit to be a man."
"So I do," replied Ganymede, truly, "but I should have been a
woman by right."
Oliver made this visit a very long one, and 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 wounded, Oliver told him how he had fallen in love
with the fair shepherdess Aliena, and that she had lent a
favorable ear to his suit, even in this their first interview;
and he talked to his brother, as of a thing almost settled, that
he should marry Aliena, saying 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-morrow, and I will invite the duke and his friends. Go
and persuade your shepherdess to agree to this. She is now alone,
for, look, here comes her brother."
Oliver went to Aliena, and Ganymede, whom Orlando had perceived
approaching, came 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. Aliena, Orlando said be
had advised his brother to persuade his fair shepherdess to be
married on the morrow, and then he added how much he could wish
to be married on the same day to his Rosalind.
Ganymede, who well approved of this arrangement, said that if
Orlando really loved Rosalind as well as he professed to do, he
should have his wish; for on the morrow he would engage to make
Rosalind appear in her own person, and also that Rosalind should
be willing to marry Orlando.
This seemingly wonderful event, which, as Ganymede was the Lady
Rosalind, he could so easily perform, be pretended he would bring
to pass by the aid of magic, which he said he had learned of an
uncle who was a famous magician.
The fond lover Orlando, half believing and half doubting what he
heard, asked Ganymede if he spoke in sober meaning.
"By my life I do," said Ganymede. "Therefore put on your best
clothes, and bid the duke and your friends to your wedding, for
if you desire to be married to-morrow to Rosalind, she shall be
The next morning, Oliver having obtained the consent of Aliena,
they came into the presence of the duke, and with them also came
They being all assembled to celebrate this double marriage, and
as yet only one of the brides appearing, there was much of
wondering and conjecture, but they mostly thought that Ganymede
was making a jest of Orlando.
The duke, hearing that it was his own daughter that was to be
brought in this strange way, asked 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 think, Ganymede
entered and asked the duke, if he brought his daughter, whether
he would consent to her marriage with Orlando.
"That I would," said the duke, "if I had kingdoms to give with
Ganymede then said to Orlando, "And you say you will marry her if
I bring her here."
"That I would," said Orlando, "if I were king of many kingdoms."
Ganymede and Aliena then went out together, and, Ganymede
throwing off his male attire, and being once more dressed in
woman's apparel, quickly became Rosalind without the power of
magic; and Aliena, changing her country garb for her own rich
clothes, was with as little trouble transformed into the lady
While they were gone, the 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 end, for Rosalind
and Celia, in their own clothes, entered, and, no 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 appear, that it might well have passed for
magic; but Rosalind would no longer trifle with her father, and
told him the story of her banishment, and of her dwelling in the
forest as a shepherd-boy, her cousin Celia passing as her sister.
The duke ratified the consent he had already given to the
marriage; and Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver and Celia, were
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 occasions, yet a happier wedding-day was never
passed. And while they were eating their venison under the cool
shade of the pleasant trees, as if nothing should be wanting to
complete the felicity of this good duke and the true lovers, an
unexpected messenger arrived to tell the duke the joyful news
that his dukedom was restored to him.
The usurper, enraged at the flight of his daughter Celia, and
hearing that every day men of great worth resorted to the forest
of Arden to join the lawful duke in his exile, much envying that
his brother should be so highly respected in his adversity, put
himself at the head of a large force and advanced toward the
forest, intending 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
intention, for just as he entered the skirts of the wild forest
he was met by an old religious man, a hermit, with whom he had
much talk and who in the end completely turned his heart from his
wicked design. Thenceforward he became a true penitent, and
resolved, relinquishing his unjust dominion, to 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 long, and with it the lands and revenues
of his friends, the faithful followers of his adversity.
This joyful news, as unexpected as it was welcome, came
opportunely to heighten the festivity and rejoicings at the
wedding of the princesses. Celia complimented her cousin on this
good, fortune which had happened to the duke, Rosalind's father,
and wished her joy very sincerely, though she herself was no
longer heir to the dukedom, but by this restoration which her
father had made, Rosalind was now the heir, so 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
followers, though they had patiently shared his adverse fortune,
were very well pleased to return in peace and prosperity, to the
palace of their lawful duke.
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA
There lived in the city of Verona two young gentlemen, whose
names were Valentine and Proteus, between whom a firm and
uninterrupted friendship had long subsisted. They pursued their
studies together, and their hours of leisure were always passed
in each other's company, except when Proteus visited a lady he
was in love with. And these visits to his mistress,, and this
passion of Proteus for the fair Julia, were the only topics on
which these two friends disagreed; for Valentine, not being
himself a lover, was sometimes a little weary of bearing his
friend forever talking of his Julia, and then he would laugh at
Proteus, and in pleasant terms ridicule the passion of love, and
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 separated, for that he was going to Milan. Proteus,
unwilling to part with his friend, used 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 travels, and wish me
partaker of your happiness."
Valentine began his journey that same day toward Milan; and when
his friend had left him, Proteus sat down to write a letter to
Julia, which he gave to her maid Lucetta to deliver to her
Julia loved Proteus as well as he did her, but she was a lady of
a noble spirit, and 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 Lucetta, offered the letter to Julia she would not
receive it, and 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 said, "What o'clock is it?"
Lucetta, who knew her mistress more desired to see the letter
than to know the time of day, without answering her question
again offered the rejected letter. Julia, angry that her maid
should thus take the liberty of seeming to know what she really
wanted, tore the letter in pieces and threw it on the floor,,
ordering her maid once more out of the room. As Lucetta was
retiring, she stopped to pick up the fragments of the torn
letter; but Julia, who meant not so to part with them, said, in
pretended anger, "Go, 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 words, "Love-wounded
Proteus"; and lamenting over these and such like loving words,
which she made out though they were all torn asunder, or, she
said WOUNDED (the expression "Love-wounded Proteus" giving her
that idea), she talked to these kind words, telling them she
would lodge them in her bosom as in a bed, till their wounds were
healed, and that she would kiss each several piece to make
In this manner she went on talking with a pretty, ladylike
childishness, till, finding herself unable to make out the whole,
and vexed at her own ingratitude in destroying such sweet and
loving words, as she called them, she 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 exclaimed, "Sweet
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 Proteus, "it 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 Proteus, greatly alarmed, "but
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 he, "to 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 astonished, he added: "Look not amazed, that I so suddenly
resolve you shall spend some time in the Duke of Milan's court;
for what I will I will, and there is an end. Tomorrow be in
readiness to go. Make no excuses, for 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 letter, which 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 farewell, with many vows of love and constancy.
Proteus and Julia exchanged rings, which they both promised to
keep forever in remembrance of each other; and thus, taking a
sorrowful leave, Proteus set out on his journey to Milan, the
abode of his friend Valentine.
Valentine was in reality, what 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 dream, for
Valentine had given up the freedom of which he used so much to
boast, and was become as passionate a lover as Proteus.
She who had wrought this wondrous change in Valentine was the
Lady Silvia, daughter of the Duke of Milan, and she also loved
him; but they concealed their love from the duke, because,
although he showed much kindness for Valentine and invited him
every day to his palace, yet he designed to marry his daughter to
a young courtier whose name was Thurio. Silvia despised this
Thurio, for he had none of the fine sense and excellent qualities
These two rivals, Thurio and Valentine, were one day on a visit
to Silvia, and Valentine was entertaining Silvia with turning
everything Thurio said into ridicule, when the duke himself
entered the room and told Valentine the welcome news of his
friend Proteus's arrival.
Valentine said, "If I had wished a thing, it would have been to
have seen him here!" And then he highly praised Proteus to the
duke, saying, "My 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 Proteus, and
Valentine introduced him to Silvia, saying, "Sweet lady,
entertain him to be my fellow-servant to your ladyship."
When Valentine and Proteus had ended their visit, and were alone
together, Valentine said:
"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 Valentine, "but 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 in, the
disposition of Valentine was a great triumph to his friend
Proteus. But "friend" Proteus must be called no longer, for the
same all-powerful deity Love, of 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 he, who had
till this time been a pattern of true love and perfect
friendship, was now, in one short interview with Silvia, become a
false friend and a faithless lover; for at the first sight of
Silvia all his love for Julia vanished away like a dream, nor did
his long friendship for Valentine deter him from endeavoring to
supplant him in her affections; and although, as it will always
be, when people of dispositions naturally good become unjust, be
bad many scruples before he determined to forsake Julia and
become the rival of Valentine, yet be at length overcame his
sense of duty and yielded himself up, almost without remorse, to
his new unhappy passion.
Valentine imparted to him in confidence the whole history of his
love, and how carefully they had concealed it from the duke her
father, and told him that, despairing of ever being able to
obtain his consent, he 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
secrets, it is hardly possible to be believed, but 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
duke, such as that by the laws of friendship he ought to conceal
what he was going to reveal, but that the gracious favor the duke
had shown him, and the duty he owed his grace, urged him to tell
that which else no worldly good should draw from him. He then
told all he had heard from Valentine, not 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 integrity, in that he
preferred telling his friend's intention rather than he would
conceal an unjust action; highly commended him, and promised him
not to let Valentine know from whom he had learned this
intelligence, but by some artifice to make Valentine betray the
secret himself. For this purpose the duke awaited the coming of
Valentine in the evening, whom he soon saw hurrying toward the
palace, and he perceived somewhat was wrapped within his cloak,
which he concluded was the rope ladder.
The duke, upon this, stopped him, saying, "Whither away so fast,
"May it please your grace," said Valentine, "there 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 Valentine, "than to tell my father I am
well and happy at your grace's court."
"Nay then," said the duke, "no matter; stay with me awhile. I
wish your counsel about some affairs that concern me nearly."
He then told Valentine an artful story, as a prelude to draw his
secret from him, saying that Valentine knew he wished to match
his daughter with Thurio, but that she was stubborn and
disobedient to his commands.
"Neither regarding," said he, "that 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
Valentine, wondering where all this would end, made answer, "And
what would your grace have me to do in all this?"
"Why," said the duke, "the 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
love, such as presents, frequent visits, and the like.
The duke replied to this that the lady did refuse a present which
he sent her, and that she was so strictly kept by her father that
no man might have access to her by day.
"Why, then," said Valentine, "you must visit her by night."
"But at night," said the artful duke, who was now coming to the
drift of his discourse, "her 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 duke, who 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 back, he discovered not only the ladder of ropes but
also a letter of Silvia's, which he instantly opened and read;
and this letter contained a full account of their intended
elopement. The duke, after upbraiding Valentine for his
ingratitude in thus returning the favor he had shown him, by
endeavoring to steal away his daughter, banished him from the
court and city of Milan forever, and Valentine was forced to
depart that night without even seeing Silvia.
While Proteus at Milan was thus injuring Valentine, Julia 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
disguise, and arrived at Milan soon after Valentine was banished
from that, city through the treachery of Proteus.
Julia entered Milan about noon, and she took up her abode at an
inn; and, her thoughts being all on her dear Proteus, she entered
into conversation with the innkeeper--or host, as 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 rank, spoke so familiarly to him, and, being a
good-natured man, he was sorry to see him look so melancholy; and
to amuse his young guest he offered to take him to hear some fine
music, with which, he said, a gentleman that evening was going to
serenade his mistress.
The reason Julia looked so very melancholy was, that she did not
well know what Proteus would think of the imprudent step she had
taken, for she knew he had loved her for her noble maiden pride
and dignity of character, and 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
there, to her heart's sorrow, she beheld her lover, the
inconstant Proteus, serenading the Lady Silvia with music, and
addressing discourse of love and admiration to her. And Julia
overheard Silvia from a window talk with Proteus, and reproach
him for forsaking his own true lady, and for his ingratitude his
friend Valentine; and then Silvia left the window, not choosing
to listen to his music and his fine speeches; for she was a
faithful lady to her banished Valentine, and abhorred the
ungenerous conduct of his false friend, Proteus.
Though Julia was in despair at what she had just witnessed, yet
did she still love the truant Proteus; and hearing that he had
lately parted with a servant, she contrived, with the assistance
of her host, the friendly innkeeper, to hire herself to Proteus
as a page; and Proteus knew not she was Julia, and he sent her
with letters and presents to her rival, Silvia, and 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 Sebastian, as she was called, entered into
conversation with Silvia about Proteus's first love, the forsaken
Lady Julia. She putting in (as one may say) a good word for
herself, said she knew Julia; as well she might, being herself
the Julia of whom she spoke; telling how fondly Julia loved her
master, Proteus, and how his unkind neglect would grieve her. And
then she with a pretty equivocation went on: "Julia is about my
height, and of my complexion, the 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 sent, refused it, saying:
"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 Valentine, who scarce knew which
way to bend his course, being unwilling to return home to his
father a disgraced and banished man. As he was wandering over a
lonely forest, not far distant from Milan, where he had left his
heart's dear treasure, the Lady Silvia, he was set upon by
robbers, who demanded his money.
Valentine told them that he was a man crossed by adversity, that
be was going into banishment, and that he had no money, the
clothes he had on being all his riches.
The robbers, hearing that he was a distressed man, and being
struck with his noble air and manly behavior, told him if he
would live with them and be their chief, or captain, they would
put themselves under his command; but that if he refused to
accept their offer they would kill him.
Valentine, who cared little what became of himself, said he would
consent to live with them and be their captain, provided they did
no outrage on women or poor passengers.
Thus the noble Valentine became, like Robin Hood, of whom we read
in ballads, a captain of robbers and outlawed banditti; and in
this situation he was found by Silvia, and in this manner it came
Silvia, to avoid a marriage with Thurio, whom her father insisted
upon her no longer refusing, came at last to the resolution of
following Valentine to Mantua, at 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 robbers, hearing the
name of their captain, but 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 Eglamour, whom
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 Silvia, and would also have
taken Eglamour, but he escaped.
The robber who had taken Silvia, seeing the terror she was in,
bade her not be alarmed, for that he was only going to carry her
to a cave where his captain lived, and that she need not be
afraid, for 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 cried, "this I endure for thee!"
But as the robber was conveying her to the cave of his captain he
was stopped by Proteus, who, still attended by Julia in the
disguise of a page, having heard of the flight of Silvia, had
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 him, and his page (the forlorn Julia) was
standing beside him in great anxiety of mind, fearing lest the
great service which Proteus had just done to Silvia should win
her to show him some favor, they were all strangely surprised
with the sudden appearance of Valentine, who, having heard his
robbers had taken a lady prisoner, came to console and relieve
Proteus was courting Silvia, and 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 Valentine, whose
nature was noble and generous, even to a romantic degree, not
only forgave and restored him to his former place in his
friendship, but 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."
Julia, who was standing beside her master as a page, hearing this
strange offer, and fearing Proteus would not be able with this
new-found virtue to refuse Silvia, fainted; and they were all
employed in recovering her, else would Silvia have been offended
at being thus made over to Proteus, though she could scarcely
think that Valentine would long persevere in this overstrained
and too generous act of friendship. When Julia recovered from the
fainting fit, she said:
"I had forgot, my master ordered me to deliver this ring to
Proteus, looking upon the ring, saw 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 answered, "Julia herself did give it me, and Julia herself
hath brought it hither."
Proteus, now looking earnestly upon her, plainly 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 heart, and he took
again his own dear lady and joyfully resigned all pretensions to
the Lady Silvia to Valentine, who had so well deserved her.
Proteus and Valentine were expressing their happiness in their
reconciliation, and in the love of their faithful ladies, when
they were surprised with the sight of the Duke of Milan and
Thurio, who came there in pursuit of Silvia.
Thurio first approached, and attempted to seize Silvia, saying,
"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 threat, Thurio, who was a great coward, drew back,
and said he cared not for her and that none but a fool would
fight for a girl who loved him not.
The duke, who was a very brave man himself, said now, in great
anger, "The 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,
Valentine, and think you worthy of an empress's love. You shall
have Silvia, for 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 thankfulness, taking occasion of this joyful minute
to entreat the good-humored duke to pardon the thieves with whom
he had associated in the forest, assuring him that when reformed
and restored to society there would be found among them many
good, and fit for great employment; for the most of them had been
banished, like Valentine, for state offenses, rather than for any
black crimes they had been guilty of. To this the' ready duke
consented. And now nothing remained but that Proteus, the false
friend, was ordained, by way of penance for his love-prompted
faults, to 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 done, the lovers, all four, returned back
to Milan, and their nuptials were solemnized in the presence of
the duke, with high triumphs and feasting.
MERCHANT OF VENICE
Shylock, the Jew, lived at Venice. He was a usurer who had
amassed an immense fortune by lending money at great interest to
Christian merchants. Shylock, being a hard-hearted man, exacted
the payment of the money he lent with such severity that he was
much disliked by all good men, and particularly by Antonio, a
young merchant of Venice; and Shylock as much hated Antonio,
because he used to lend money to people in distress, and 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
dealings, which the Jew would bear with seeming patience, while
he secretly meditated revenge.
Antonio was the kindest man that lived, the best conditioned, and
had the most unwearied spirit in doing courtesies; indeed, he 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 Bassanio, a noble Venetian, who, having but a small
patrimony, had nearly exhausted his little fortune by living in
too expensive a manner for his slender means, at 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 loved, whose father, that was lately dead, had left her
sole heiress to a large estate; and that in her father's lifetime
he used to visit at her house, when 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 heiress, he 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
merchandise, he said he would go to Shylock, the rich
moneylender, and borrow the money upon the credit of those ships.
Antonio and Bassanio went together to Shylock, and Antonio asked
the Jew to lend him three thousand ducats upon any interest he
should require, to be paid out of the merchandise contained in
his ships at sea.
On this, Shylock thought within himself: "If I can once catch him
on the hip, I 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 bargains, which he
calls interest. Cursed be my tribe if I forgive him!"
Antonio, finding be was musing within himself and did not answer,
and being impatient for the money, said:
"Shylock, do you hear? Will you lend the money?"
To this question the Jew replied: "Signor Antonio, on the Rialto
many a time and often you have railed at me about my moneys and
my usuries, and I have borne it with a patient shrug, for
sufferance is the badge of all our tribe; and then you have
called me unbeliever, cutthroat dog, and spit upon my Jewish
garments, and spurned at me with your foot, as if I was a cur.
Well, then, it now appears you need my help, and you come to me
and say, 'Shylock, lend me moneys.' Has a dog money? Is it
possible a cur should lend three thousand ducats? Shall I bend
low and say, 'Fair sir, you spit upon me on Wednesday last;
another time you called me dog, and for these courtesies I am to
lend you moneys."'
Antonio replied: "I am as like to call you so again, to spit on
you again, and spurn you, too. If you will lend me this money,
lend it not to me as to a friend, but rather lend it to me as to
an enemy, that, if I break, you may with better face exact the
"Why, look you," said Shylock, "how 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
Shylock, still pretending kindness and that all he did was to
gain Antonio's love, again said he would lend him the three
thousand ducats, and take no interest for his money; only Antonio
should go with him to a lawyer and there sign in merry sport a
bond that, if he did not repay the money by a certain day, he
would forfeit a pound of flesh, to be cut off from any part of
his body that Shylock pleased.
"Content," said Antonio. "I will sign to this bond, and 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 it, for that before the
day of payment came his ships would return laden with many times
the value of the money.
Shylock, hearing this debate, exclaimed: "O Father Abraham, what
suspicious people these Christians are! Their own hard dealings
teach them to suspect the thoughts of others. I pray you tell me
this, Bassanio: if he should break his day, what should I gain by
the exaction of the forfeiture? A pound of man's flesh, taken
from a man, is not so estimable, profitable, neither, as the
flesh of mutton or beef. I say, to buy his favor I offer this
friendship: if he will take it, so; if not, adieu."
At last, against the advice of Bassanio, who, notwithstanding all
the Jew had said of his kind intentions, did not like his friend
should run the hazard of this shocking penalty for his sake,
Antonio signed the bond, thinking 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 Portia, and in the graces
of her person and her mind she was nothing inferior to that
Portia, of whom we read, who was Cato's daughter and the wife of
Bassanio being so kindly supplied with money by his friend
Antonio, at the hazard of his life, set out for Belmont with a
splendid train and attended by a gentleman of the name of
Bassanio proving successful in his suit, Portia 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;
she, who loved him for his worthy qualities and had riches enough
not to regard wealth in a husband, answered, with a graceful
modesty, that she would wish herself a thousand times more fair,
and ten thousand times more rich, to be more worthy of him; and
then the accomplished Portia prettily dispraised herself and said
she was an unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpractised, yet not so
old but that she could learn, and 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 yesterday, Bassanio, I was the lady of this fair
mansion, queen of myself, and mistress over these servants; and
now this house, these servants, and myself are yours, my 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 heart, Gratiano," said Bassanio, "if you can get a
Gratiano then said that he loved the Lady Portia's fair
waiting-gentlewoman, Nerissa, and 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 consenting, Bassanio 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 messenger, who 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
friend, he looked so pale; and, inquiring what was the news which
bad so distressed him, he 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 related, of his
borrowing the money of Antonio, and of Antonio's procuring it of
Shylock the Jew, and 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 letter, the words of which were:
'Sweet Bassanio, my ships are all lost, my bond to the Jew is
forfeited, and since in paying it is impossible I should live, I
could wish, to see you at my death; notwithstanding, use your
pleasure. If your love for me do not persuade you to come, let
not my letter.'
"Oh, my dear love," said Portia, "despatch 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
out, to give him a legal right to her money; and that same day
they were married, and Gratiano was also married to Nerissa; and
Bassanio and Gratiano, the instant they were married, set out in
great haste for Venice, where Bassanio found Antonio in prison.
The day of payment being past, the cruel Jew would not accept of
the money which Bassanio offered him, but insisted upon having a
pound of Antonio's flesh. A day was appointed to try this
shocking cause before the Duke of Venice, and 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 Antonio, and 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 him, with such a meek and
wifelike grace, that she would submit in all things to be
governed by his superior wisdom, yet being now called forth into
action by the peril of her honored husband's friend, she did
nothing doubt her own powers, and 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
gentleman, whose name was Bellario, she wrote, and, stating the
case to him, desired his opinion, and 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 proceed, and also everything necessary for her equipment.
Portia dressed herself and her maid Nerissa in men's apparel,
and, putting on the robes of a counselor, she took Nerissa along
with her as her clerk; setting out immediately, they 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 Bellario, in which that learned counselor
wrote to the duke, saying he would have come himself to plead for
Antonio but that he was prevented by sickness, and 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 stranger, who
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 Bassanio, but he knew her
not in her disguise. He was standing beside Antonio, in an agony
of distress and fear for his friend.
The importance of the arduous task Portia had engaged in gave
this tender lady courage, and 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 bond, she spoke
so sweetly of the noble quality of MERCY as would have softened
any heart but the unfeeling Shylock's, saying that it dropped as
the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath; and how mercy
was a double blessing, it 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 mercy, that 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
refusing, and still insisting upon having a pound of Antonio's
flesh, Bassanio begged the learned young counselor would endeavor
to wrest the law a little, to save Antonio's life. But Portia
gravely answered that laws once established never be altered.
Shylock, hearing Portia say that the law might not be altered, it
seemed to him that she was pleading in his favor, and 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 forfeited, and by this
the Jew may lawfully claim a pound of flesh, to be by him cut off
nearest Antonio's heart." Then she said to Shylock, "Be merciful;
take the money and bid me tear the bond."
But no mercy would the cruel Shylock show; and he said, "By my
soul, I swear there is no power in the tongue of man to alter
"Why, then, Antonio," said Portia, "you must prepare your bosom
for the knife." And while Shylock was sharpening a long knife
with great eagerness to cut off the pound of flesh, Portia said
to Antonio, "Have you anything to say?"
Antonio with a calm resignation replied that he had but little to
say, for 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: "Antonio, I am
married to a wife who is as dear to me as life itself; but life
itself, my wife, and all the world are not esteemed with me above
your life. I would lose all, I would sacrifice all to this devil
here, to deliver you."
Portia hearing this, though 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 terms, yet could not
"Your wife would give you little thanks, if she were present, to
hear you make this offer."
And then Gratiano, who loved to copy what his lord did, thought
he must make a speech like Bassanio's, and he said, in Nerissa's
hearing, who 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 out, impatiently: "We trifle time. I pray
pronounce the sentence."
And now all was awful expectation in the court, and every heart
was full of grief for Antonio.
Portia asked if the scales were ready to weigh the flesh; and she
said to the Jew, "Shylock, you must have some surgeon by, lest he
bleed to death."
Shylock, whose whole intent was that Antonio should bleed to
death, said, "It is not so named in the bond."
Portia replied: "It is not so named in the bond, but what of
that? It were good you did so much for charity."
To this all the answer Shylock would make was, "I cannot find it;
it is not in the bond."
"Then," said Portia, "a 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 Antonio, he said, "Come, 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 blood, your 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 blood, this wise
discovery of Portia's, that it was flesh and not blood that was
named in the bond, saved the life of Antonio; and all admiring
the wonderful sagacity of the young counselor who had so happily
thought of this expedient, plaudits resounded from every part of
the Senate House; and Gratiano exclaimed, in the words which
Shylock had used:
"O wise and upright judge! Mark, Jew, a Daniel is come to
Shylock, finding himself defeated in his cruel intent, said, with
a disappointed look, that he would take the money. And Bassanio,
rejoiced beyond measure at Antonio's unexpected deliverance,
"Here is the money!"
But Portia stopped him, saying: "Softly; there is no haste. The
Jew shall have nothing but the penalty. Therefore prepare,
Shylock, to 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 scruple, nay, if the scale turn but by the weight of
a single hair, you 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 money, when Portia again stopped
him, saying: "Tarry, Jew. 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 citizens, and
your life lies at the mercy of the duke; therefore, down on your
knees and ask him to pardon you."
The duke then said to Shylock: "That you may see the difference
of our Christian spirit, I pardon you your life before you ask
it. Half your wealth belongs to Antonio, the 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 Lorenzo, a 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 riches, he said: "I am ill. Let me
go home. Send the deed after me, and I will sign over half my
riches to my daughter."
"Get thee gone, then," said the duke, "and 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.
Portia, who meant to return to Belmont before her husband,
replied, "I humbly thank your Grace, but I must away directly."
The duke said he was sorry he had not leisure to stay and dine
with him, and, turning to Antonio, he added, "Reward 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 gentleman, I and my friend Antonio have
by your wisdom been this day acquitted of grievous penalties, and
I beg you will accept of the three thousand ducats due unto the
"And we shall stand indebted to you over and above," said
Antonio, "in love and service evermore."
Portia could not be prevailed upon to accept the money. But upon
Bassanio still pressing her to accept of some reward, she said:
"Give me your gloves. I will wear them for your sake." And then
Bassanio taking off his gloves, she 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 again, that made her ask him for his gloves; and she
said, when she saw the ring, "And 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 with, and he replied, in
great confusion, that be could not give him that ring, because 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 Venice, and find
it out by proclamation.
On this Portia affected to be affronted, and left the court,
saying, "You teach me, sir, how a beggar should be answered."
"Dear Bassanio," said Antonio, "let him have the ring. Let My
love and the great service he has done for me be valued against
your wife's displeasure."
Bassanio, ashamed to appear so ungrateful, yielded, and sent
Gratiano after Portia with the ring; and then the "clerk"
Nerissa, who had also given Gratiano a ring, begged his ring, and
Gratiano (not choosing to be outdone in generosity by his lord)
gave it to her. And there was laughing among these ladies to
think, when they got home, how they would tax their husbands with
giving away their rings and swear that they had given them as a
present to some woman.
Portia, when she returned, was 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 cloud, then a light which she saw
from her house at Belmont as well pleased her charmed fancy, and
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 house, she said,
"Methinks that music sounds much sweeter than by day."
And now Portia and Nerissa entered the house, and, dressing
themselves in their own apparel, they awaited the arrival of
their husbands, who soon followed them with Antonio; and Bassanio
presenting his dear friend to the Lady Portia, the
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 replied, "Lady, 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 me, when I gave it to you, that 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 Gratiano, "I 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 blame, Gratiano, to part with your
wife's first gift. I gave my Lord Bassanio a ring, and I am sure
be would not part with it for all the world."
Gratiano, in excuse for his fault, now said, "My 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."
Portia, hearing this, seemed very angry and reproached Bassanio
for giving away her ring; and she said Nerissa had taught her
what to believe, and that she knew some woman had the ring.
Bassanio was very unhappy to have so offended his dear lady, and
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 Antonio, "I am the unhappy cause of these quarrels."
Portia bid Antonio not to grieve at that, for 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 counselor, and Nerissa was her clerk; and
Bassanio found, to his unspeakable wonder and delight, that it
was by the noble courage and wisdom of his wife that Antonio's
life was saved.
And Portia again welcomed Antonio, and gave him letters which by
some chance had fallen into her hands, which contained an account
of Antonio's ships, that were supposed lost, being 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 wives, Gratiano merrily swearing, in a sort of rhyming
While he lived, he'd fear no other thing
So sore, as keeping safe Nerissa's ring.
During the time of Augustus Caesar, Emperor of Rome, there
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. Imogen, the eldest of these
children, was 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 woman, and a cruel stepmother to Imogen, Cymbeline's
daughter by his first wife.
The queen, though she hated Imogen, yet 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 that, if the king's sons were not found, the
Princess Imogen must be the king's heir. But this design was
prevented by Imogen herself, who 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 Cymbeline, and soon after
his birth his mother died also for grief at the loss of her
Cymbeline, pitying the helpless state of this orphan, took
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 masters, and
were playfellows from their infancy; they loved each other
tenderly when they were children, and, their affection continuing
to increase with their years, when they grew up they privately
The disappointed queen soon learned this secret, for 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 queen, who pretended to pity Imogen for the grief she
suffered at losing her husband, offered to procure them a private
meeting before Posthumus set out on his journey to Rome, which
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 Cloten, for she meant to persuade
Imogen, when her husband was gone, that her marriage was not
lawful, being 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's, and Posthumus promised never to part with the ring; and
he fastened a bracelet on the arm of his wife, which he begged
she would preserve with great care, as a token of his love; they
then bade each other farewell, with many vows of everlasting love
Imogen remained a solitary and dejected lady in her father's
court, and Posthumus arrived at Rome, the place he had chosen for
Posthumus fell into company at Rome with some gay young men of
different nations, who were talking freely of ladies, each one
praising the ladies of his own country and his own mistress.
Posthumus, who had ever his own dear lady in his mind, affirmed
that his wife, the fair Imogen, was the most virtuous, wise, and
constant lady in the world.
One of those gentlemen, whose name was Iachimo, being offended
that a lady of Britain should be so praised above the Roman
ladies, his country-women, provoked Posthumus by seeming to doubt
the constancy of his so highly praised wife; and at length, after
much altercation, Posthumus 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 favor, and
prevail upon her to give him the bracelet which Posthumus had so
earnestly desired she would keep as a token of his love, then 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.
Iachimo, on his arrival in Britain, gained admittance and a
courteous welcome from Imogen, as a friend of her husband; but
when he began to make professions of love to her she repulsed him
with disdain, and 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 Posthumus, and for this
purpose he bribed some of Imogen's attendants and was by them
conveyed into her bedchamber, concealed in a large trunk, where
he remained shut up till Imogen.was retired to rest and had
fallen asleep; and then, getting out of the trunk, he examined
the chamber with great attention, and wrote down everything he
saw there, and particularly noticed a mole which he observed upon
Imogen's neck, and then softly unloosing the bracelet from her
arm, which Posthumus had given to her, he retired into the chest
again; and the next day he set off for Rome with great
expedition, and boasted to Posthumus that Imogen had given him
the bracelet, and 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 Anthony, a
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 Iachimo, "is 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
added, "I had almost forgot her andirons; they were two winking
Cupids made of silver, each on one foot standing.'" He then took
out the bracelet, and said: "Know you this jewel, sir? She gave
me this. She took it from her arm. I see her yet; her pretty
action did outsell her gift, and yet enriched it, too. She gave
it me, and said, SHE PRIZED IT ONCE." He last of all described
the mole he had observed upon her neck.
Posthumus, who had heard the whole of this artful recital in an
agony of doubt, now 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 Pisanio, a gentleman of
Britain, who was one of Imogen's attendants, and had long been a
faithful friend to Posthumus; and after telling him what proof he
had of his wife's disloyalty, he desired Pisanio would take
Imogen to Milford Haven, a seaport of Wales, and there kill her.
And at the same time he wrote a deceitful letter to Imogen,
desiring her to go with Pisanio, for that, finding he could live
no longer without seeing her, though he was forbidden upon pain
of death to return to Britain, he would come to Milford Haven, at
which place he begged she would meet him. She, good, unsuspecting
lady, who loved her husband above all things, and desired more
than her life to see him, hastened her departure with Pisanio,
and the same night she received the letter she set out.
When their journey was nearly at an end, Pisanio, who, though
faithful to Posthumus, was not faithful to serve him in an evil
deed, disclosed to Imogen the cruel order he had received.
Imogen, who, instead of meeting a loving and beloved husband,
found herself doomed by that husband to suffer death, was
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 time, as she refused in her distress to
return to her father's court, he advised her to dress herself in
boy's clothes for more security in traveling; to which advice she
agreed, and thought in that disguise she would go over to Rome
and see her husband, whom, though 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 fortune, being obliged to return to court; but
before he departed he gave her a vial of cordial, which he said
the queen had given him as a sovereign remedy in all disorders.
The queen, who hated Pisanio because he was a friend to Imogen
and Posthumus, gave him this vial, which she supposed contained
poison, she having ordered her physician to give her some poison,
to try its effects (as she said) upon animals; but the physician,
knowing her malicious disposition, would not trust her with real
poison, but 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 mixture, which Pisanio thought a choice cordial,
he gave to Imogen, desiring her, if she found herself ill upon
the road, to take it; and so, with blessings and prayers for her
safety and happy deliverance from her undeserved troubles, he
Providence strangely directed Imogen's steps to the dwelling of
her two brothers who had been stolen away in their infancy.