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Tales From Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb

Part 3 out of 6

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Bellarius, who stole them away, was a lord in the court of
Cymbeline, and, having been falsely accused to the king of
treason and banished from the court, in revenge he stole away the
two sons of Cymbeline and brought them up in a forest, where he
lived concealed in a cave. He stole them through revenge, but he
soon loved them as tenderly as if they had been his own children,
educated them carefully, and they grew up fine youths, their
princely spirits leading them to bold and daring actions; and as
they subsisted by hunting, they were active and hardy, and were
always pressing their supposed father to let them seek their
fortune in the wars.

At the cave where these youths dwelt it was Imogen's fortune to
arrive. She had lost her way in a large forest through which .her
road lay to Milford Haven (from which she meant to embark for
Rome); and being unable to find any place where she could
purchase food, she was, with weariness and hunger, almost dying;
for it is not merely putting on a man's apparel that will enable
a young lady, tenderly brought up, to bear the fatigue of
wandering about lonely forests like a man.. Seeing this cave, she
entered, hoping to find some one within of whom she could procure
food. She found the cave empty, but, looking about, she
discovered some cold meat, and her hunger was so pressing that
she could not wait for an invitation, but sat down and began to

"Ah," said she, talking to herself, "I see a man's life is a
tedious one. How tired am I! For two nights together I have made
the ground my bed. My resolution helps me, or I should be sick.
When Pisanio showed me Milford Haven from the mountain-top, how
near it seemed!" Then the thoughts of her husband and his cruel
mandate came across her, and she said, "My dear Posthumus, thou
art a false one!"

The two brothers of Imogen, who had been hunting with their
reputed father, Bellarius, were by this time returned home.
Bellarius had given them the names of Polydore and Cadwal, and
they knew no better, but supposed that Bellarius was their
father; but the real names of these princes were Guiderius and

Bellarius entered the cave first, and, seeing Imogen, stopped
them, saying: " Come not in yet. It eats our victuals, or I
should think it was a fairy."

"What is the matter, sir?" said the young men.

"By Jupiter!" said Bellarius, again, "there is an angel in the
cave, or if not, an earthly paragon." So beautiful did Imogen
look in her boy's apparel.

She, hearing the sound of voices, came forth from the cave and
addressed them in these words: "Good masters, do not harm me.
Before I entered your cave I had thought to have begged or bought
what I have eaten. Indeed, I have stolen nothing, nor would I,
though I had found gold strewed on the floor. Here is money for
my meat, which I would have left on the board when I had made my
meal, and parted with prayers for the provider."

They refused her money with great earnestness.

"I see you are angry with me," said the timid Imogen; "but, sirs,
if you kill me for my fault, know that I should have died if I
had not made it."

"Whither are you bound," asked Bellarius, "and what is your

"Fidele is my name," answered Imogen. "I have a kinsman who is
bound for Italy; he embarked at Milford Haven, to whom being
going, almost spent with hunger, I am fallen into this offense."

"Prithee, fair youth," said old Bellarius, "do not think us
churls, nor measure our good minds by this rude place we live in.
'You are well encountered; it is almost night. You shall have
better cheer before you depart, and thanks to stay and eat it.
Boys, bid him welcome."

The gentle youths, her brothers, then welcomed Imogen to their
cave with many kind expressions, saying they would love her (or,
as they said, HIM) as a brother; and they entered the cave, where
(they having killed venison when they were hunting) Imogen
delighted them with her neat housewifery, assisting them in
preparing their supper; for, though it is not the custom now for
young women of high birth to understand cookery, it was then, and
Imogen excelled in this useful art; and, as her brothers prettily
expressed it, Fidele cut their roots in characters, and sauced
their broth, as if Juno had been sick and Fidele were her dieter.

"And then," said Polydore to his brother, "how angel-like he

They also remarked to each other that though Fidele smiled so
sweetly, yet so sad a melancholy did overcloud his lovely face,
as if grief and patience had together taken possession of him.

For these her gentle qualities (or perhaps it was their near
relationship, though they knew it not) Imogen (or, as the boys
called her, Fidele) became the doting-piece of her brothers, and
she scarcely less loved them, thinking that but for the memory of
her dear Posthumus she could live and die in the cave with these
wild forest youths; and she gladly consented to stay with them
till she was enough rested from the fatigue of traveling to
pursue her way to Milford Haven.

When the venison they had taken was all eaten and they were going
out to hunt for more, Fidele could not accompany them because she
was unwell. Sorrow, no doubt, for her husband's

cruel usage, as well as the fatigue of wandering in the forest,
was the cause of her illness.

They then bid her farewell, and went to their hunt, praising all
the way the noble parts and graceful demeanor of the youth

Imogen was no sooner left alone than she recollected the cordial
Pisanio had given her, and drank it off, and presently fell into
a sound and deathlike sleep.

When Bellarius and her brothers returned from hunting, Polydore
went first into the cave, and, supposing her asleep, pulled off
his heavy shoes, that he might tread softly and not awake her (so
did true gentleness spring up in the minds of these princely
foresters); but he soon discovered that she could not be awakened
by any noise, and concluded her to be dead, and Polydore lamented
over her with dear and brotherly regret, as if they had never
from their infancy been parted.

Bellarius also proposed to carry her out into the forest, and
there celebrate her funeral with songs and solemn dirges, as was
then the custom.

Imogen's two brothers then carried her to a shady covert, and
there, laying her gently on the grass, they sang repose to her
departed spirit, and, covering her over with leaves and flowers,
Polydore said:

"While summer lasts and I live here, Fidele, I will daily strew
thy grave. The pale primrose, that flower most like thy face; the
bluebell, like thy clear veins; and the leaf of eglantine, which
is not sweeter than was thy breath-all these will I strew over
thee. Yea, and the furred moss in winter, when there are no
flowers to cover thy sweet corse."

When they had finished her funeral obsequies they departed, very

Imogen had not been long left alone when, the effect of the
sleepy drug going off, she awaked, and easily shaking off the
slight covering of leaves and flowers they had thrown over her,
she arose, and, imagining she had been dreaming, she said:

"I thought I was a cave-keeper and cook to honest creatures. How
came I here covered with flowers?"

Not being able to find her way back to the cave, and seeing
nothing of her new companions, she concluded it was certainly all
a dream; and once more Imogen set out on her weary pilgrimage,
hoping at last she should find her way to Milford Haven, and
thence get a passage in some ship bound for Italy; for all her
thoughts were still with her husband, Posthumus, whom she
intended to seek in the disguise of a page.

But great events were happening at this time, of which Imogen
knew nothing; for a war had suddenly broken out between the Roman
Emperor Augustus Caesar and Cymbeline, the King of Britain; and a
Roman army had landed to invade Britain, and was advanced into
the very forest over which Imogen was journeying. With this army
came Posthumus.

Though Posthumus came over to Britain with the Roman army, he did
not mean to fight on their side against his own countrymen, but
intended to join the army of Britain and fight in the cause of
his king who had banished him.

He still believed Imogen false to him; yet the death of her he
had so fondly loved, and by his own orders, too (Pisanio having
written him a letter to say he had obeyed his command, and that
Imogen was dead), sat heavy on his heart, and therefore he
returned to Britain, desiring either to be slain in battle or to
be put to death by Cymbeline for returning home from banishment.

Imogen, before she reached Milford Haven, fell into the hands of
the Roman army, and, her presence and deportment recommending
her, she was made a page to Lucius, the Roman general.

Cymbeline's army now advanced to meet the enemy, and when they
entered this forest Polydore and Cadwal joined the king's army.
The young men were eager to engage in acts of valor, though they
little thought they were going to fight for their own royal
father; and old Bellarius went with them to the battle.

He had long since repented of the injury he had done to Cymbeline
in carrying away his sons; and, having been a warrior in his
youth, he gladly joined the army to fight for the king he had so

And now a great battle commenced between the two armies, and the
Britons would have been defeated, and Cymbeline himself killed,
but for the extraordinary valor of Posthumus and Bellarius and
the two sons of Cymbeline. They rescued the king and saved his
life, and so entirely turned the fortune of the day that the
Britons gained the victory.

When the battle was over, Posthumus, who had not found the death
he sought for, surrendered himself up to one of the officers of
Cymbeline, willing to suffer the death which was to be his
punishment if he returned from banishment.

Imogen and the master she served were taken prisoners and brought
before Cymbeline, as was also her old enemy, Iachimo, who was an
officer in the Roman army. And when these prisoners were before
the king, Posthumus was brought in to receive his sentence of
death; and at this strange juncture of time Bellarius with
Polydore and Cadwal were also brought before Cymbeline, to
receive the rewards due to the great services they had by their
valor done for the king. Pisanio, being one of the king's
attendants, was likewise present.

Therefore there were now standing in the king's presence (but
with very different hopes and fears) Posthumus and Imogen, with
her new master the Roman general; the faithful servant Pisanio
and the false friend Iachimo; and likewise the two lost sons of
Cymbeline, with Bellarius, who had stolen them away.

The Roman general was the first who spoke; the rest stood silent
before the king, though there was many a beating heart among

Imogen saw Posthumus, and knew him, though he was in the disguise
of a peasant; but he did not know her in her male attire. And she
knew Iachimo, and she saw a ring on his finger which she
perceived to be her own., but she did not know him as yet to have
been the author of all her troubles; and she stood before her own
father a prisoner of war.

Pisanio knew Imogen, for it was he who had dressed her in the
garb of a boy. "It is my mistress," thought he. "Since she is
living, let the time run on to good or bad." Bellarius knew her,
too, and softly said to Cadwal, "Is not this boy revived from

"One sand," replied Cadwal, "does not more resemble another than
that sweet, rosy lad is like the dead Fidele."

"The same dead thing alive," said Polydore.

"Peace, peace," said Bellarius. "If it were he, I am sure be
would have spoken to us."

"But we saw him dead,", again whispered Polydore.

"Be silent," replied Bellarius.

Posthumus waited in silence to hear the welcome sentence of his
own death; and he resolved not to disclose to the king that he
had saved his life in the battle, lest that should move Cymbeline
to pardon him.

Lucius, the Roman general, who had taken Imogen under his
protection as his page, was the first (as has been before said)
who spoke to the king. He was a man of high courage and noble and
this was his speech to the king:

"I hear you take no ransom for your prisoners, but doom them all
to death. I am a Roman, and with a Roman heart will suffer,
death. But there is one thing for which I would entreat." Then
bringing Imogen before the king, he said: "This boy is a Briton
born. Let him be ransomed. He is my page. Never master had a page
so kind, so duteous, so diligent on all occasions, so true, so
nurselike. He hath done no Briton wrong, though he hath served a
Roman. Save him, if you spare no one beside."

Cymbeline looked earnestly on his daughter Imogen. He knew her
not in that disguise; but it seemed that all-powerful Nature
spake in his heart, for he said: "I have surely seen him; his
face appears familiar to me. I know not why or wherefore I say,
live, boy, but I give you your life; and ask of me what boon you
will and I will grant it you. Yea, even though it be the life of
the noblest prisoner I have."

"I humbly thank your Highness," said Imogen.

What was then called granting a boon was the same as a promise to
give any one thing, whatever it might be,. that the person on
whom that favor was conferred chose to ask for.

They all were attentive to hear what thing the page would ask
for; and Lucius, her master, said to her:

"I do not beg my life, good lad, but I know that is what you will
ask for."

"No, no, alas!" said Imogen. "I have other work in hand, good
master. Your life I cannot ask for."

This seeming want of gratitude in the boy astonished the Roman

Imogen then, fixing her eye on Iachimo, demanded no other boon
than this: that Iachimo should be made to confess whence he had
the ring he wore on his finger.

Cymbeline granted her this boon, and threatened Iachimo with the
torture if he did not confess how he came by the diamond ring on
his finger.

Iachimo then made a full acknowledgment of all his villainy, in
telling, as has been before related, the whole story of his wager
with Posthumus and how he had succeeded in imposing upon is

What Posthumus felt at hearing this proof of the innocence of his
lady cannot be expressed. He instantly came forward and confessed
to Cymbeline the cruel sentence which he had enjoined Pisanio to
execute upon the princess, exclaiming, wildly:

"O Imogen, my queen, my life, my wife! O Imogen, Imogen, Imogen!"

Imogen could not see her beloved husband in this distress without
discovering herself, to the unutterable joy of Posthumus, who was
thus relieved from a weight of guilt and woe, and restored to the
good graces of the dear lady he had so cruelly treated.

Cymbeline, almost as much overwhelmed as he with joy, at finding
his lost daughter so strangely recovered, received her to her
former place in his fatherly affection, and not only gave her
husband Posthumus his life, but consented to acknowledge him for
his son-in-law.

Bellarius chose this time of joy and reconciliation to make his
confession. He presented Polydore and Cadwal to the king, telling
him they were his two lost sons, Guiderius and Arviragus.

Cymbeline forgave old Bellarius; for who could think of
punishments at a season of such universal happiness? To find his
daughter living, and his lost sons in the persons of his young
deliverers, that he had seen so bravely fight in his defense, was
unlooked-for joy indeed!

Imogen was now at leisure to perform good services for her late
master, the Roman general, Lucius, whose life the king, her
father, readily granted at her request; and by the mediation of
the same Lucius a peace was concluded between the Romans and the
Britons which was kept inviolate many years.

How Cymbeline's wicked queen, through despair of bringing her
projects to pass, and touched with remorse of conscience,
sickened and died, having first lived to see her foolish son
Cloten slain in a quarrel which he had provoked, are events too
tragical to interrupt this happy conclusion by more than merely
touching upon. It is sufficient that all were made happy who were
deserving; and even the treacherous Iachimo, in consideration of
his villainy having missed its final aim, was dismissed without


Lear, King of Britain, had three daughters: Goneril, wife to the
Duke of Albany; Regan, wife to the Duke of Cornwall; and
Cordelia, a young maid, for whose love the King of France and
Duke of Burgundy were joint suitors, and were at this time making
stay for that purpose in the court of Lear.

The old king, worn out with age and the fatigues of government,
he being more than fourscore years old, determined to take no
further part in state affairs, but to leave the management to
younger strengths, that he might have time to prepare for death,
which must at no long period ensue. With this intent he called
his three daughters to him, to know from their own lips which of
them loved him best, that he might part his kingdom among them in
such proportions as their affection for him should seem to

Goneril, the eldest, declared that she loved her father more than
words could give out, that he was dearer to her than the light of
her own eyes, dearer than life and liberty, with a deal of such
professing stuff, which is easy to counterfeit where there is no
real love, only a few fine words delivered with confidence being
wanted in that case. The king, delighted to hear from her own
mouth this assurance of her love, and thinking truly that her
heart went with it, in a fit of fatherly fondness bestowed upon
her and her husband one-third of his ample kingdom.

Then calling to him his second daughter he demanded what she had
to say. Regan, who was made of the same hollow metal as her
sister, was not a whit behind in her professions, but rather
declared that what her sister had spoken came short of the love
which she professed to bear for his Highness; in so much that she
found all other joys dead in comparison with the pleasure which
she took in the love of her dear king and father.

Lear blessed himself in having such loving children, as he
thought; and could do no less, after the handsome assurances
which Regan had made, than bestow a third of his kingdom upon her
and her husband, equal in size to that which he had already
given away to Goneril.

Then turning to his youngest daughter, Cordelia, whom he called
his joy, he asked what she had to say,thinking no doubt that she
would glad his ears with the same loving speeches which her
sisters had uttered, or rather that her expressions would be so
much stronger than theirs, as she had always been his darling,
and favored by him above either of them. But Cordelia, disgusted
with the flattery of her sisters, whose hearts she knew were far
from their lips, and seeing that all their coaxing speeches were
only intended to wheedle the old king out of his dominions, that
they and their husbands might reign in his lifetime, made no
other reply but this--that she loved his Majesty according to her
duty, neither more nor less.

The king, shocked with this appearance of ingratitude in his
favorite child, desired her to consider her words and to mend her
speech, lest it should mar her fortunes.

Cordelia then told her father that he was her father, that he had
given her breeding, and loved her; that she returned those duties
back as was most fit, and did obey him, love him, and most honor
him. But that she could not frame her mouth to such large
speeches as her sisters had done, or promise to love nothing else
in the world. Why had her sisters husbands if (as they said) they
had no love for anything but their father? If she should ever
wed, she was sure the lord to whom she gave her husband would
want half her love, half of her care and duty; she should never
marry like her sisters, to love her father all.

Cordelia, who in earnest loved her old father even almost
extravagantly as her sisters pretended to do, would have plainly
told him so at any other time, in more daughter-like and loving
terms, and without these qualifications, which did indeed sound a
little ungracious; but after the crafty, flattering speeches of
her sisters, which she had seen draw such extravagant rewards,
she thought the handsomest thing she could do was to love and be
silent. This put her affection out of suspicion of mercenary
ends, and showed that she loved, but not for gain; and that her
professions, the less ostentatious they were, had so much the
more of truth and sincerity than her sisters'.

This plainness of speech, which Lear called pride, so enraged the
old monarch--who in his best of times always showed much of
spleen and rashness, and in whom the dotage incident to old age
had so clouded over his reason that he could not discern truth
from flattery, nor a gaypainted speech from words that came from
the heart--that in a fury of resentment he retracted the third
part of his kingdom which yet remained, and which he had reserved
for Cordelia, and gave it away from her, sharing it equally
between her two sisters and their husbands, the Dukes of Albany
and Cornwall, whom he now called to him and in presence of all
his courtiers, bestowing a coronet between them, invested them
jointly with all the power, revenue, and execution of government,
only retaining to himself the name of king; all the rest of
royalty he resigned, with this reservation, that himself, with a
hundred knights for his attendants, was to be maintained by
monthly course in each of his daughters' palaces in turn.

So preposterous a disposal of his kingdom, so little guided by
reason, and so much by passion, filled all his courtiers with
astonishment and sorrow; but none of them had the courage to
interpose between this incensed king and his wrath, except the
Earl of Kent, who was beginning to speak a good word for
Cordelia, when the passionate Lear on pain of death commanded him
to desist; but the good Kent was not so to be repelled. He had
been ever loyal to Lear, whom he had honored as a king, loved as
a father, followed as a master; and he had never esteemed his
life further than as a pawn to wage against his royal master's
enemies, nor feared to lose it when Lear's safety was the motive;
nor, now that Lear was most his own enemy, did this faithful
servant of the king forget his old principles, but manfully
opposed Lear to do Lear good; and was unmannerly only because
Lear was mad. He had been a most faithful counselor in times past
to the king, and he besought him now that he would see with his
eyes (as he had done in many weighty matters) and go by his
advice still, and in his best consideration recall this hideous
rashness; for he would answer with his life his judgment that
Lear's youngest daughter did not love him least, nor were those
empty-hearted whose low sound gave no token of hollowness. When
power bowed to flattery, honor was bound to plainness. For Lear's
threats, what could he do to him whose life was already at his
service? That should not hinder duty from speaking.

The honest freedom of this good Earl of Kent only stirred up the
king's wrath the more, and, like a frantic patient who kills his
physician and loves his mortal disease, he banished this true
servant, and allotted him but five days to make his preparations
for departure; but if on the sixth his hated person was found
within the realm of Britain, that moment was to be his death. And
Kent bade farewell to the king, and said that, since he chose to
show himself in such fashion, it was but banishment to stay
there; and before he went he recommended Cordelia to the
protection of the gods, the maid who had so rightly thought and
so discreetly spoken; and only wished that her sisters' large
speeches might be answered with deeds of love; and then he went,
as he said, to shape his old course to a new country.

The King of France and Duke of Burgundy were now called in to
hear the determination of Lear about his youngest daughter, and
to know whether they would persist in their courtship to
Cordelia, now that she was under her father's displeasure and had
no fortune but her own person to recommend her. And the Duke of
Burgundy declined the match, and would not take her to wife upon
such conditions. But the King of France, understanding what the
nature of the fault had been which had lost her the love of her
father--that it was only a tardiness of speech and the not being
able to frame her tongue to flattery like her sisters--took this
young maid by the hand and, saying that her virtues were a dowry
above a kingdom, bade Cordelia to take farewell of her sisters
and of her father, though he had been unkind, and she should go
with him and be Queen of him and of fair France, and reign over
fairer possessions than her sisters. And he called the Duke of
Burgundy, in contempt, a waterish duke, because his love for this
young maid had in a moment run all away like water.

Then Cordelia with weeping eyes took leave of her sisters, and
besought them to love their father well and make good their
professions; and they sullenly told her not to prescribe to them,
for they knew their duty, but to strive to content her husband,
who had taken her (as they tauntingly expressed it) as Fortune's
alms. And Cordelia with a heavy heart departed, for she knew the
cunning of her sisters and she wished her father in better hands
than she was about to leave him in.

Cordelia was no sooner gone than the devilish dispositions of her
sisters began to show themselves 'in their true colors. Even
before the expiration of the first month, which Lear was to spend
by agreement ,with his , daughter, Goneril, the old king began to
find out the difference between promises and performances. This
wretch, having got from her father all that he had to bestow,
even to the giving away of the crown from off his head, began to
grudge even those small remnants of royalty which the old man had
reserved to himself, to please his fancy with the idea of being
still a king. She could not bear to see him and his knights.
Every time she met her father she put on a frowning countenance;
and when the old man wanted to speak with her she would feign
sickness or anything to get rid of the sight of him, for it was
plain that she esteemed his old age a useless burden and his
attendants an unnecessary expense; not only she herself slackened
in her expressions of duty to the king, but by her example, and
(it is to be feared) not without her private instructions, her
very servants affected to treat him with neglect, and would
either refuse to obey his orders or still more contemptuously
pretend not to hear them. Lear could not but perceive this
alteration in the behavior of his daughter, but he shut his eyes
against it as long as he could, as people commonly are unwilling
to believe the unpleasant consequences which their own mistakes
and obstinacy have brought upon them.

True love and fidelity are no more to be estranged by ILL, than
falsehood and hollow-heartedness can be conciliated by GOOD,
USAGE. This eminently appears in the instance of the good Earl of
Kent, who, though banished by Lear, and his life made forfeit if
he were found in Britain, chose to stay and abide all
consequences as long as there was a chance of his being useful to
the king his master. See to what mean shifts and disguises poor
loyalty is forced to submit sometimes; yet it counts nothing base
or unworthy so as it can but do service where it owes an
obligation! In the disguise of a serving-man, all his greatness
and pomp laid aside, this good earl proffered his services to the
king, who, not knowing him to be Kent in that disguise, but
pleased with a certain plainness, or rather bluntness, in his
answers, which the earl put on (so different from that smooth,
oily flattery which he had so much reason to be sick of, having
found the effects not answerable in his daughter), a bargain was
quickly struck, and Lear took Kent into his service by the name
of Caius, as he called himself, never suspecting him to be his
once great favorite, the high and mighty Earl of Kent.

This Caius quickly found means to show his fidelity and love to
his royal master, for, Goneril's steward that same day behaving
in a disrespectful manner to Lear, and giving him saucy looks and
language, as no doubt he was secretly encouraged to do by his
mistress, Caius, not enduring to hear so open an affront put upon
his Majesty, made no more ado, but presently tripped up his heels
and laid the unmannerly slave in the kennel; for which friendly
service Lear became more and more attached to him.

Nor was Kent the only friend Lear had. In his degree, and as far
as so insignificant a personage could show his love, the poor
fool, or jester, that had been of his palace while Lear had a
palace, as it was the custom of kings and great personages at
that time to keep a fool (as he was called) to make them sport
after serious business--this poor fool clung to Lear after he had
given away his crown, and by his witty sayings would keep up his
good-humor, though he could not refrain sometimes from jeering at
his master for his imprudence in uncrowning himself and giving
all away to his daughters; at which time, as he rhymingly
expressed it, these daughters--

"For sudden joy did weep,
And I for sorrow sung,
That such a king should play bo-peep
And go the fools among."

And in such wild sayings, and scraps of songs, of which he had
plenty, this pleasant, honest fool poured out his heart even in
the presence of Goneril herself, in many a bitter taunt and jest
which cut to the quick, such as comparing the king to the
hedgesparrow, who feeds the young of the cuckoo till they grow
old enough, and then has its head bit off for its pains; and
saying that an ass may know when the cart draws the horse
(meaning that Lear's daughters, that ought to go behind, now
ranked before their father); and that Lear was no longer Lear,
but the shadow of Lear. For which free speeches he was once or
twice threatened to be whipped.

The coolness and falling off of respect which Lear had begun to
perceive were not all which this foolish fond father was to
suffer from his unworthy daughter. She now plainly told him that
his staying in her palace was inconvenient so long as he insisted
upon keeping up an establishment of a hundred knights; that this
establishment was useless and expensive and only served to fill
her court with riot and feasting; and she prayed him that he
would lessen their number and keep none but old men about him,
such as himself, and fitting his age.

Lear at first could not believe his eyes or ears, nor that it was
his daughter who spoke so unkindly. He could not believe that she
who had received a crown from him could seek to cut off his train
and grudge him the respect due to his old age. But she persisting
in her undutiful demand, the old man's rage was so excited that
he called her a detested kite and said that she spoke an untruth;
and so indeed she did, for the hundred knights were all men of
choice behavior and sobriety of manners, skilled in all
particulars of duty, and not given to rioting or feasting, as she
said. And he bid his horses to be prepared, for he would go to
his other daughter, Regan, he and his hundred knights; and he
spoke of ingratitude, and said it was a marble-hearted devil, and
showed more hideous in a child than the sea-monster. And he
cursed his eldest daughter, Goneril, so as was terrible to hear,
praying that she might never have a child, or, if she had, that
it might live to return that scorn and contempt upon her which
she had shown to him; that she might feel how sharper than a
serpent's tooth it was to have a thankless child. And Goneril's
husband, the Duke of Albany, beginning to excuse himself for any
share which Lear might suppose he had in the unkindness, Lear
would not hear him out, but in a rage ordered his horses to be
saddled and set out with his followers for the abode of Regan,
his other daughter. And Lear thought to himself how small the
fault of Cordelia (if it was a fault) now appeared in comparison
with her sister's, and he wept; and then he was ashamed that such
a creature as Goneril should have so much power over his manhood
as to make him weep.

Regan and her husband were keeping their court in great pomp and
state at their palace; and Lear despatched his servant Caius with
letters to his daughter, that she might be prepared for his
reception, while he and his train followed after. But it seems
that Goneril had been beforehand with him, sending letters also
to Regan, accusing her father of waywardness and ill-humors, and
advising her not to receive so great a train as he was bringing
with him. This messenger arrived at the same time with Caius, and
Caius and he met, and who should it be but Caius's old enemy the
steward, whom he had formerly tripped up by the heels for his
saucy behavior to Lear. Caius not liking the fellow's look, and,
suspecting what he came for, began to revile him and challenged
him to fight, which the fellow refusing, Caius, in a fit of
honest passion, beat him soundly, as such a mischief-maker and
carrier of wicked messages deserved; which coming to the ears of
Regan and her husband, they ordered Caius to be put in the
stocks, though he was a messenger from the king her father and in
that character demanded the highest respect. So that the first
thing the king saw when he entered the castle was his faithful
servant Caius sitting in that disgraceful situation.

This was but a bad omen of the reception which he was to expect;
but a worse followed when, upon inquiry for his daughter and her
husband, he was told they were weary with traveling all night and
could not see him; and when, lastly, upon his insisting in a
positive and angry manner to see them, they came to greet him,
whom should he see in their company but the hated Goneril, who
had come to tell her own story and set her sister against the
king her father!

This sight much moved the old man, and still more to see Regan
take her by the hand; and he asked Goneril if she was not ashamed
to look upon his old white beard. And Regan advised him to go
home again with Goneril, and live with her peaceably, dismissing
half of his attendants, and to ask her forgiveness; for he was
old and wanted discretion, and must be ruled and led by persons
that had more discretion than himself. And Lear showed how
preposterous that would sound, if he were to go down on his knees
and beg of his own daughter for food and raiment; and he argued
against such an unnatural dependence, declaring his resolution
never to return with her, but to stay where he was with Regan, he
and his hundred knights; for he said that she had not forgot the
half of the kingdom which he had endowed her with, and that her
eyes were not fierce like Goneril's, but mild and kind. And he
said that rather than return to Goneril, with half his train cut
off, he would go over to France and beg a wretched pension of the
king there, who had married his youngest daughter without a

But he was mistaken in expecting kinder treatment of Regan than
he had experienced from her sister Goneril. As if willing to
outdo her sister in unfilial behavior, she declared that she
thought fifty knights too many to wait upon him; that
five-and-twenty were enough. Then Lear, nigh heartbroken, turned
to Goneril and said that he would go back with her, for her fifty
doubled five-and-twenty, and so her love was twice as much as
Regan's. But Goneril excused herself, and said, what need of so
many as five-and twenty? or even ten? or five? when he might be
waited upon by her servants or her sister's servants? So these
two wicked daughters, as if they strove to exceed each other in
cruelty to their old father, who had been so good to them, by
little and little would have abated him of all his train, all
respect (little enough for him that once commanded a kingdom)
which was left him to show that he had once been a king! Not that
a splendid train is essential to happiness, but from a king to a
beggar is a hard change, from commanding millions to be without
one attendant; and it was the ingratitude in his daughters'
denying more than what he would suffer by the want of it, which
pierced this poor king to the heart; in so much that, with this
double ill-usage, and vexation for having so foolishly given away
a kingdom, his wits began to be unsettled, and while he said he
knew not what, he vowed revenge against those unnatural hags and
to make examples of them that should be a terror to the earth!

While he was thus idly threatening what his weak arm could never
execute, night came on, and a loud storm of thunder and lightning
with rain; and his daughters still persisting in their resolution
not to admit his followers, he called for his horses, and chose
rather to encounter the utmost fury of the storm abroad than stay
under the same roof with these ungrateful daughters; and they,
saying that the injuries which wilful men procure to themselves
are their just punishment, suffered him to go in that condition
and shut their doors upon him.

The winds were high, and the rain and storm increased, when the
old man sallied forth to combat with the elements, less sharp
than his daughters' unkindness. For many miles about there was
scarce a bush; and there upon a heath, exposed to the fury of the
storm in a dark night, did King Lear wander out, and defy the
winds and the thunder; and he bid the winds to blow the earth
into the sea, or swell the waves of the sea till they drowned the
earth, that no token might remain of any such ungrateful animal
as man. The old king was now left with no other companion than
the poor fool, who still abided with him, with his merry conceits
striving to outjest misfortune, saying it was but a naughty night
to swim in, and truly the king had better go in and ask his
daughter's blessing:

But he that has a little tiny wit--
With heigh ho, the wind and the rain,--
Must make content with his fortunes fit
Though the rain it raineth every day,

and swearing it was a brave night to cool a lady's pride.

Thus poorly accompanied, this once great monarch was found by his
ever-faithful servant the good Earl of Kent, now transformed to
Caius, who ever followed close at his side, though the king did
not know him to be the earl; and be said:

"Alas, sir, are you here? Creatures that love night love not such
nights as these. This dreadful storm has driven the beasts to
their hiding-places. Man's nature cannot endure the affliction or
the fear."

And Lear rebuked him and said these lesser evils were not felt
where a greater malady was fixed. When the mind is at ease the
body has leisure to be delicate, but the tempest in his mind did
take all feeling else from his senses but of that which beat at
his heart. And he spoke of filial ingratitude, and said it was
all one as if the mouth should tear the hand for lifting food to
it; for parents were hands and food and everything to children.

But the good Caius still persisting in his entreaties that the
king would not stay out in the open air, at last persuaded him to
enter a little wretched hovel which stood upon the heath, where
the fool first entering, suddenly ran back terrified, saying that
he had seen a spirit. But upon examination this spirit proved to
be nothing more than a poor Bedlam beggar who had crept into this
deserted hovel for shelter, and with his talk about devils
frighted the fool, one of those poor lunatics who are either mad,
or feign to be so, the better to extort charity from the
compassionate country people, who go about the country calling
themselves poor Tom and poor Turlygood, saying, "Who gives
anything to poor Tom?" sticking pins and nails and sprigs of
rosemary into their arms to make them bleed; and with horrible
actions, partly by prayers, and partly with lunatic curses, they
move or terrify the ignorant country folk into giving them alms.
This poor fellow was such a one; and the king, seeing him in so
wretched a plight, with nothing but a blanket about his loins to
cover his nakedness, could not be persuaded but that the fellow
was some father who had given all away to his daughters and
brought himself to that pass; for nothing, he thought, could
bring a man to such wretchedness but the having unkind daughters.

And from this and many such wild speeches which he uttered the
good Caius plainly perceived that he was not in his perfect mind,
but that his daughters' ill-usage had really made him go mad. And
now the loyalty of this worthy Earl of Kent showed itself in more
essential services than he had hitherto found opportunity to
perform. For with the assistance of some of the king's attendants
who remained loyal he had the person of his royal master removed
at daybreak to the castle of Dover, where his own friends and
influence, as Earl of Kent, chiefly lay; and himself, embarking
for France, hastened to the court of Cordelia, and did there in
such moving terms represent the pitiful condition of her royal
father, and set out in such lively colors the inhumanity of her
sisters, that this good and loving child with many tears besought
the king, her husband, that he would give her leave to embark for
England, with a sufficient power to subdue these cruel daughters
and their husbands and restore the old king, her father, to his
throne; which being granted, she set forth, and with a royal army
landed at Dover.

Lear, having by some chance escaped from the guardians which' the
good Earl of Kent had put over him to take care of him in his
lunacy, was found by some of Cordelia's train, wandering about
the fields near Dover, in a pitiable condition, stark mad, and
singing aloud to himself, with a crown upon his head which he had
made of straw and nettles and other wild weeds that he had picked
up in the corn-fields. By the advice of the physicians, Cordelia,
though earnestly desirous of seeing her father, was prevailed
upon to put off the meeting till, by sleep and the operation of
herbs which they gave him, he should be restored to greater
composure. By the aid of these skilful physicians, to whom
Cordelia promised all her gold and jewels for the recovery of the
old king, Lear was soon in a condition to see his daughter.

A tender sight it was to see the meeting between this father and
daughter; to see the struggles between the joy of this poor old
king at beholding again his once darling child, and the shame at
receiving such filial kindness from her whom he had cast off for
so small a fault in his displeasure; both these passions
struggling with the remains of his malady, which in his
half-crazed brain sometimes made him that he scarce remembered
where he was or who it was tb at so kindly kissed him and spoke
to him. And then he would beg the standers-by not to laugh at him
if he were mistaken in thinking this lady to be his daughter
Cordelia! And then to see him fall on his knees to beg pardon of
his child; and she, good lady, kneeling all the while to ask a
blessing of him, and telling him that it did not become him to
kneel, but it was her duty, for she was his child, his true and
very child Cordelia! And she kissed him (as she said) to kiss
away all her sisters' unkindness, and said that they might be
ashamed of themselves, to turn their old kind father with his
white beard out into the cold air, when her enemy's dog, though
it had bit her (as she prettily expressed it), should have stayed
by her fire such a night as that, and warmed himself. And she
told her father how she had come from France with purpose to
bring him assistance; and he said that she must forget and
forgive, for he was old and foolish and did not know what he did;
but that to be sure she had great cause not to love him, but her
sisters had none. And Cordelia said that she had no cause, no
more than they had.

So we will leave this old king in the protection of his dutiful
and loving child, where, by the help of sleep and medicine, she
and her physicians at length succeeded in winding up the untuned
and jarring senses which the cruelty of his other daughters had
so violently shaken. Let us return to say a word or two about
those cruel daughters.

These monsters of ingratitude, who had been so false to their old
father, could not be expected to prove more faithful to their own
husbands. They soon grew tired of paying even the appearance of
duty and affection, and in an open way showed they had fixed
their loves upon another. It happened that the object of their
guilty loves was the same. It was Edmund, a natural son of the
late Earl of Gloucester, who by his treacheries had succeeded in
disinheriting his brother Edgar, the lawful heir, from his
earldom, and by his wicked practices was now earl himself; a
wicked man, and a fit object for the love of such wicked
creatures as Goneril and Regan. It falling out about this time
that the Duke of Cornwall, Regan's husband, died, Regan
immediately declared her intention of wedding this Earl of
Gloucester, which rousing the jealousy of her sister, to whom as
well as to Regan this wicked earl had at sundry times professed
love, Goneril found means to make away with her sister by poison;
but being detected in her practices, and imprisoned by her
husband, the Duke of Albany, for this deed, and for her guilty
passion for the earl which had come to his ears, she, in a fit of
disappointed love and rage, shortly put an end to her own life.
Thus the justice of Heaven at last overtook these wicked

While the eyes of all men were upon this event, admiring the
justice displayed in their deserved deaths, the same eyes were
suddenly taken off from this sight to admire at the mysterious
ways of the same power in the melancholy fate of the young and
virtuous daughter, the Lady Cordelia, whose good deeds did seem
to deserve a more fortunate conclusion. But it is an awful truth
that innocence and piety are not always successful in this world.
The forces which Goneril and Regan had sent out under the command
of the bad Earl of Gloucester were victorious, and Cordelia, by
the practices of this wicked earl, who did not like that any
should stand between him and the throne, ended her life in
prison. Thus heaven took this innocent lady to itself in her
young years, after showing her to the world an illustrious
example of filial duty. Lear did not long survive this kind

Before he died, the good Earl of Kent, who had still attended his
old master's steps from the first of his daughters' ill-usage to
this sad period of his decay, tried to make him understand that
it was he who had followed him under the name of Caius; but
Lear's care-crazed brain at that time could not comprehend how
that could be, or how Kent and Caius could be the same person, so
Kent thought it needless to trouble him with explanations at such
a time; and, Lear soon after expiring, this faithful servant to
the king, between age and grief for his old master's vexations,
soon followed him to the grave.

How the judgment of Heaven overtook the bad Earl of Gloucester,
whose treasons were discovered, and himself slain in single
combat with his brother, the lawful earl, and how Goneril's
husband, the Duke of Albany, who was innocent of the death of
Cordelia, and had never encouraged his lady in her wicked
proceedings against her father, ascended the throne of Britain
after the death of Lear, it is needless here to narrate, Lear and
his three daughters being dead, whose adventures alone concern
our story.


When Duncan the Meek reigned King of Scotland there lived a great
thane, or lord, called Macbeth. This Macbeth was a near kinsman
to the king, and in great esteem at court for his valor and
conduct in the wars, an example of which he had lately given in
defeating a rebel army assisted by the troops of Norway in
terrible numbers.

The two Scottish generals, Macbeth and Banquo, returning
victorious from this great battle, their way lay over a blasted
heath, where they were stopped by the strange appearance of three
figures like women, except that they had beards, and their
withered skins and wild attire made them look not like any
earthly creatures. Macbeth first addressed them, when they,
seemingly offended, laid each one her choppy finger upon her
skinny lips, in token of silence; and the first of them saluted
Macbeth with the title of Thane of Glamis. The general was not a
little startled to find himself known by such creatures; but how
much more, when the second of them followed up that salute by
giving him the title of Thane of Cawdor, to which honor he had no
pretensions; and again the third bid him, "All hail! that shalt
be king hereafter!" Such a prophetic greeting might well amaze
him, who knew that while the king's sons lived he could not hope
to succeed to the throne. Then turning to Banquo, they pronounced
him, in a sort of riddling terms, to be LESSER THAN MACBETH, AND
though he should never reign, yet his sons after him should be
kings in Scotland. They then turned into air and vanished; by
which the generals knew them to be the weird sisters, or witches.

While they stood pondering on the strangeness of this adventure
there arrived certain messengers from the king, who were
empowered by him to confer upon Macbeth the dignity of Thane of
Cawdor. An event so miraculously corresponding with the
prediction of the witches astonished Macbeth, and he stood
wrapped in amazement, unable to make reply to the messengers; and
in that point of time swelling hopes arose in his mind that the
prediction of the third witch might in like manner have its
accomplishment, and that he should one day reign king in

Turning to Banquo, he said, "Do you not hope that your children
shall be kings, when what the witches promised to me has so
wonderfully come to pass?"

"That hope," answered the general, "might enkindle you to aim at
the throne; but oftentimes these ministers of darkness tell us
truths in little things, to betray us into deeds of greatest

But the wicked suggestions of the witches had sunk too deep into
the mind of Macbeth to allow him to attend to the warnings of the
good Banquo. From that time he bent all his thoughts how to
compass the throne of Scotland.

Macbeth had a wife, to whom he communicated the strange
prediction of the weird sisters and its partial accomplishment.
She was a bad, ambitious woman, and so as her husband and herself
could arrive at greatness she cared not much by what means. She
spurred on the reluctant purpose of Macbeth, who felt compunction
at the thoughts of blood, and did not cease to represent the
murder of the king as a step absolutely necessary to the
fulfilment of the flattering prophecy.

It happened at this time that the king, who out of his royal
condescension would oftentimes visit his principal nobility upon
gracious terms, came to Macbeth's house, attended by his two
sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, and a numerous train of thanes and
attendants, the more to honor Macbeth for the triumphal success
of his wars.

The castle of Macbeth was pleasantly situated and the air about
it was sweet and wholesome, which appeared by the nests which the
martlet, or swallow, had built under all the jutting friezes and
buttresses of the building, wherever it found a place of
advantage; for where those birds most breed and haunt the air is
observed to be delicate. The king entered, well pleased with the
place, and not less so with the attentions and respect of his
honored hostess, Lady Macbeth, who had the art of covering
treacherous purposes with smiles, and could look like the
innocent flower while she was indeed serpent under it.

The king, being tired with his journey, went early to bed, and in
his state-room two grooms of his chamber (as was the custom)
beside him. He had been unusually pleased with his reception, and
had made presents before he retired to his principal ; and among
the rest had sent a diamond to Lady Macbeth, greeting the name of
his most kind hostess.

Now was the middle of night, when over half the world nature
seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse men's minds asleep, and none
but the wolf and the murderer are abroad. This was the time when
Lady Macbeth waked to plot the murder of the king. She would not
have undertaken a deed so abhorrent to her sex but that she
feared her husband's nature, that it was too full of the milk of
human kindness to do a contrived murder. She knew him to be
ambitious, but withal to be scrupulous, and not yet prepared for
that height of crime which commonly in the end accompanies
inordinate ambition. She had won him to consent to the murder,
but she doubted his resolution; and she feared that the natural
tenderness of his disposition (more humane than her own) would
come between and defeat the purpose. So with her own hands armed
with a dagger she approached the king's bed, having taken care to
ply the grooms of his chamber so with wine that they slept
intoxicated and careless of their charge. There lay Duncan in a
sound sleep after the fatigues of his journey, and as she viewed
him earnestly there was something in his face, as he slept, which
resembled her own father, and she had not the courage to proceed.

She returned to confer with her husband. His resolution had begun
to stagger. He considered that there were strong reasons against
the deed. In the first place, he was not only a subject, but a
near kinsman to the king; and he had been his host and
entertainer that day, whose duty, by the laws of hospitality, it
was to shut the door against his murderers, not bear the knife
himself. Then he considered how just and merciful a king this
Duncan had been, how clear of offense to his subjects, how loving
to his nobility, and in particular to him; that such kings are
the peculiar care of Heaven, and their subjects doubly bound to
revenge their deaths. Besides, by the favors of the king, Macbeth
stood high in the opinion of all sorts of men, and how would
those honors be stained by the reputation of so foul a murder!

In these conflicts of the mind Lady Macbeth found her husband
inclining to the better part and resolving to proceed no further.
But she, being a woman not easily shaken from her evil purpose,
began to pour in at his ears words which infused a portion of her
own spirit into his mind, assigning reason upon reason why he
should not shrink from what he had undertaken; how easy the deed
was; how soon it would be over; and how the action of one short
night would give to all their nights and days to come sovereign
sway and royalty! Then she threw contempt on his change of
purpose, and accused him of fickleness and cowardice; and
declared that she had given suck, and knew how tender it was to
love the babe that milked her, but she would, while it was
smiling in her face, have plucked it from her breast and dashed
its brains out if she had so sworn to do it as he had sworn to
perform that murder. Then she added, how practicable it was to
lay the guilt of the deed upon the drunken, sleepy grooms. And
with the valor of her tongue she so chastised his sluggish
resolutions that he once more summoned up courage to the bloody

So, taking the dagger in his hand, he softly stole in the dark to
the room where Duncan lay; and as he went he thought he saw
another dagger in the air, with the handle toward him, and on the
blade and at the point of it drops of blood; but when be tried to
grasp at it it was nothing but air, a mere phantasm proceeding
from his own hot and oppressed brain and the business he had in

Getting rid of this fear, he entered the king's room, whom he
despatched with one stroke of his dagger. just as he had done the
murder one of the grooms who slept in the chamber laughed in his
sleep, and the other cried, "Murder," which woke them both.

But they said a short prayer; one of them said, "God less us!"
and the other answered, "Amen"; and addressed themselves to sleep
again. Macbeth, who stood listening to them, tried to say "Amen"
when the fellow said "God bless us!" but, though he had most need
of a blessing, the word stuck in his throat and he could not
pronounce it.

Again he thought he heard a voice which cried: "Sleep no more!
Macbeth doth murder sleep, the innocent sleep, that nourishes
life." Still it cried, "Sleep no more!" to all the house. "Glamis
hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more,
Macbeth shall sleep no more."

With such horrible imaginations Macbeth returned to his listening
wife, who began to think he had failed of his purpose and that
the deed was somehow frustrated. He came in so distracted a state
that she reproached him with his want of firmness and sent him to
wash his hands of the blood which stained them, while she took
his dagger, with purpose to stain the cheeks of the grooms with
blood, to make it seem their guilt.

Morning came, and with it the discovery of the murder, which
could not be concealed; and though Macbeth and his lady made
great show of grief, and the proofs against the grooms (the
dagger being produced against them and their faces smeared with
blood) were sufficiently strong, yet the entire suspicion fell
upon Macbeth, whose inducements to such a deed were so much more
forcible than such poor silly grooms could be supposed to have;
and Duncan's two sons fled. Malcolm, the eldest, sought for
refuge in the English court; and the youngest, Donalbain, made
his escape to Ireland.

The king's sons, who should have succeeded him, having thus
vacated the throne, Macbeth as next heir was crowned king, and
thus the prediction of the weird sisters was literally

Though placed so high, Macbeth and his queen could not forget the
prophecy of the weird sisters that, though Macbeth should be
king, yet not his children, but the children of Banquo, should be
kings after him. The thought of this, and that they had defiled
their hands with blood, and done so great crimes, only to place
the posterity of Banquo upon the throne, so rankled within them
that they determined to put to death both Banquo and his son, to
make void the predictions of the weird sisters, which in their
own case had been so remarkably brought to pass.

For this purpose they made a great supper, to which they invited
all the chief thanes; and among the rest, with marks of
particular respect, Banquo and his son Fleance were invited. The
way by which Banquo was to pass to the palace at night was beset
by murderers appointed by Macbeth, who stabbed Banquo; but in the
scuffle Fleance escaped. From that Fleance descended a race of
monarchs who afterward filled the Scottish throne, ending with
James the Sixth of Scotland and the First of England, under whom
the two crowns of England and Scotland were united.

At supper, the queen, whose manners were in the highest degree
affable and royal, played the hostess with a gracefulness and
attention which conciliated every one present, and Macbeth
discoursed freely with his thanes and nobles, saying that all
that was honorable in the country was under his roof, if he had
but his good friend Banquo present, whom yet he hoped he should
rather have to chide for neglect than to lament for any
mischance. just at these words the ghost of Banquo, whom he had
caused to be murdered, entered the room and placed himself on the
chair which Macbeth was about to occupy. Though Macbeth was a
bold man, and one that could have faced the devil without
trembling, at this horrible sight his cheeks turned white with
fear and he stood quite unmanned, with his eyes fixed upon the
ghost. His queen and all the nobles, who saw nothing, but
perceived him gazing (as they thought) upon an empty chair, took
it for a fit of distraction; and she reproached him, whispering
that it was but the same fancy which made him see the dagger in
the air when he was about to kill Duncan. But Macbeth continued
to see the ghost, and gave no heed to all they could say, while
he addressed it with distracted words, yet so significant that
his queen, fearing the dreadful secret would be disclosed, in
great haste dismissed the guests, excusing the infirmity of
Macbeth as disorder he was often troubled with.

To such dreadful fancies Macbeth was subject. His queen and he
had their sleeps afflicted with terrible dreams, and the blood of
Banquo troubled them not more than the escape of Fleance, whom
now they looked upon as father to a line of kings who should keep
their posterity out of the throne. With these miserable thoughts
they found no peace, and Macbeth determined once more to seek out
the weird sisters and know from them the worst.

He sought them in a cave upon the heath, where they, who knew by
foresight of his coming, were engaged in preparing their dreadful
charms by which they conjured up infernal spirits to reveal to
them futurity. Their horrid ingredients were toads, bats, and
serpents, the eye of a newt and the tongue of a dog, the leg of a
lizard and the wing of the night-owl, the scale of a dragon, the
tooth of a wolf, the maw of the ravenous salt-sea shark, the
mummy of a witch, the root of the poisonous hemlock (this to have
effect must be digged in the dark), the gall of a goat, and the
liver of a Jew, with slips of the yew-tree that roots itself in
graves, and the finger of a dead child. All these were set on to
boil in a great kettle, or caldron, which, as fast as it grew too
hot, was cooled with a baboon's blood. To these they poured in
the blood of a sow that had eaten her young, and they threw into
the flame the grease that had sweaten from a murderer's gibbet.
By these charms they bound the infernal spirit to answer their

It was demanded of Macbeth whether he would have his doubts
resolved by them or by their masters, the spirits.

He, nothing daunted by the dreadful ceremonies which be saw,
boldly answered: "Where are they? Let me see them."

And they called the spirits, which were three. And the first
arose in the likeness of an armed head, and he called Macbeth by
name and bid him beware of the Thane of Fife; for which caution
Macbeth thanked him; for Macbeth had entertained a jealousy of
Macduff, the Thane of Fife.

And the second spirit arose in the likeness of a bloody child,
and he called Macbeth by name and bid him have no fear, but laugh
to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born should have
power to hurt him; and he advised him to be bloody, bold, and

"Then live, Macduff!" cried the king. "What need I fear thee? But
yet I will make assurance doubly sure. Thou shalt not live, that
I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies, and sleep in spite of

That spirit being dismissed, a third arose in the form of a child
crowned, with a tree in his hand. He called Macbeth by name and
comforted him against conspiracies, saying that he should never
be vanquished until the wood of Birnam to Dunsinane hill should
come against him.

"Sweet bodements! good!" cried Macbeth; "who can unfix the
forest, and move it from its earth-bound roots? I see I shall
live the usual period of man's life, and not be cut off by a
violent death. But my heart throbs to know one thing. Tell me, if
your art can tell so much, if Banquo's issue shall ever reign in
this kingdom?"

Here the caldron sank into the ground, and a noise of music was
heard, and eight shadows, like kings, passed by Macbeth, and
Banquo last, who bore a glass which showed the figures of many
more, and Banquo, all bloody, smiled upon Macbeth, and pointed to
them; by which Macbeth knew that these were the posterity of
Banquo, who should reign after him in Scotland; and the witches,
with a sound of soft music, and with dancing, making a show of
duty and welcome to Macbeth, vanished. And from this time the
thoughts of Macbeth were all bloody and dreadful. The first thing
he heard when he got out of the witches' cave was that Macduff,
Thane of Fife, had fled to England to join the army which was
forming against him under Malcolm, the eldest son of the late
king, with intent to displace Macbeth and set Malcolm, the right
heir, upon the throne. Macbeth, stung with rage, set upon the
castle of Macduff and put his wife and children, whom the thane
had left behind, to the sword, and extended the slaughter to all
who claimed the least relationship to Macduff.

These and such-like deeds alienated the minds of all his chief
nobility from him. Such as could fled to join with Malcolm and
Macduff, who were now approaching with a powerful army which they
had raised in England; and the rest secretly wished success to
their arms, though, for fear of Macbeth, they could take no
active part. His recruits went on slowly. Everybody hated the
tyrant; nobody loved or honored him; but all suspected him; and
he began to envy the condition of Duncan, whom he had murdered,
who slept soundly in his grave, against whom treason had done its
worst. Steel nor poison, domestic malice nor foreign levies,
could hurt him any longer.

While these things were acting, the queen, who had been the sole
partner in his wickedness, in whose bosom he could sometimes seek
a momentary repose from those terrible dreams which afflicted
them both nightly, died, it is supposed, by her own hands, unable
to bear the remorse of guilt and public hate; by which event he
was left alone, without a soul to love or care for him, or a
friend to whom he could confide his wicked purposes.

He grew careless of life and wished for death; but the near
approach of Malcolm's army roused in him what remained of his
ancient courage, and he determined to die (as he expressed it)
"with armor on his back." Besides this, the hollow promises of
the witches had filled him with a false confidence, and he
remembered the sayings of the spirits, that none of woman born
was to hurt him, and that he was never to be vanquished till
Birnam wood should come to Dunsinane, which he thought could
never be. So he shut himself up in his castle, whose impregnable
strength was such as defied a siege. Here he sullenly waited the
approach of Malcolm. When, upon a day, there came a messenger to
him, pale and shaking with fear, almost unable to report that
which he had seen; for he averred, that as he stood upon his
watch on the hill he looked toward Birnam, and to his thinking
the wood began to move!

"Liar and slave!" cried Macbeth. "If thou speakest false, thou
shalt hang alive upon the next tree, till famine end thee. If thy
tale be true, I care not if thou dost as much by me"; for Macbeth
now began to faint in resolution, and to doubt the equivocal
speeches of the spirits. He was not to fear till Birnam wood
should come to Dunsinane; and now a wood did move! "However,"
said he, "if this which he avouches be true, let us arm and out.
There is no flying hence, nor staying here. I begin to be weary
of the sun, and wish my life at an end." With these desperate
speeches he sallied forth upon the besiegers, who had now come up
to the castle.

The strange appearance which had given the messenger an idea of a
wood moving is easily solved. When the besieging army marched
through the wood of Birnam, Malcolm, like a skilful general,
instructed his soldiers to hew down every one a bough and bear it
before him, by way of concealing the true numbers of his host.
This marching of the soldiers with boughs had at a distance the
appearance which had frightened the messenger. Thus were the
words of the spirit brought to pass, in a sense different from
that in which Macbeth had understood them, and one great hold of
his confidence was gone.

And now a severe skirmishing took place, in which Macbeth, though
feebly supported by those who called themselves his friends, but
in reality hated the tyrant and inclined to the party of Malcolm
and Macduff, yet fought with the extreme of rage and valor,
cutting to pieces all who were opposed to him, till he came to
where Macduff was fighting. Seeing Macduff, and remembering the
caution of the spirit who had counseled him to avoid Macduff,
above all men, he would have turned, but Macduff, who had been
seeking him through the whole fight, opposed his turning, and a
fierce contest ensued, Macduff giving him many foul reproaches
for the murder of his wife and children. Macbeth, whose soul was
charged enough with blood of that family already, would still
have declined the combat; but Macduff still urged him to it,
calling him tyrant, murderer, hell-hound, and villain.

Then Macbeth remembered the words of the spirit, how none of
woman born should hurt him; and, smiling confidently, he said to

"Thou losest thy labor, Macduff. As easily thou mayest impress
the air with thy sword as make me vulnerable. I bear a charmed
life, which must not yield to one of woman born."

"Despair thy charm," said Macduff, "and let that lying spirit
whom thou hast served tell thee that Macduff was never born of
woman, never as the ordinary manner of men is to be born, but was
untimely taken from his mother."

"Accursed be the tongue which tells me so," said the trembling
Macbeth, who felt his last hold of confidence give way; "and let
never man in future believe the lying equivocations of witches
and juggling spirits who deceive us in words which have double
senses, and, while they keep their promise literally, disappoint
our hopes with a different meaning. I will not fight with thee."

"Then live!" said the scornful Macduff. "We will have a show of
thee, as men show monsters, and a painted board, on which all be
written, 'Here men may see the tyrant!'"

"Never," said Macbeth, whose courage returned with despair. "I
will not live to kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet to
be baited with the curses of the rabble. Though Birnam wood be
come to Dunsinane, and thou opposed to me, who wast born of
woman, yet will I try the last."

With these frantic words he threw himself upon Macduff, who,
after a severe struggle, in the end overcame him, and, cutting
off his head, made a present of it to the young and lawful king,
Malcolm, who took upon him the government which, by the
machinations of the usurper, he had so long been deprived of, and
ascended the throne of Duncan the Meek among the acclamations of
the nobles and the people.


Bertram, Count of Rousillon, had newly come to his title and
estate by the death of his father. The King of France loved the
father of Bertram, and when he heard of his death he sent for his
son to come immediately to his royal court in Paris, intending,
for the friendship he bore the late count, to grace young Bertram
with his especial favor and protection.

Bertram was living with his mother, the widowed countess, when
Lafeu, an old lord of the French court, came to conduct him to
the king. The King of France was an absolute monarch and the
invitation to court was in the form of a royal mandate, or
positive command, which no subject, of what high dignity soever,
might disobey; therefore, though the countess, in parting with
this dear son, seemed a second time to bury her husband, whose
loss she had so lately mourned, yet she dared not to keep him a
single day, but gave instant orders for his departure. Lafeu, who
came to fetch him, tried to comfort the countess for the loss of
her late lord and her son's sudden absence; and he said, in a
courtier's flattering manner, that the king was so kind a prince,
she would find in his Majesty a husband, and that he would be a
father to her son; meaning only that the good king would befriend
the fortunes of Bertram. Lafeu told the countess that the king
had fallen into a sad malady, which was pronounced by his
physicians to be incurable. The lady expressed great sorrow on
hearing this account of the king's ill health, and said she
wished the father of Helena (a young gentlewoman who was present
in attendance upon her) were living that she doubted not he could
have cured his Majesty of his disease. And she told Lafeu
something of the history of Helena, saying she was the only
daughter of the famous physician, Gerard de Narbon, and that he
had recommended his daughter to her care when he was dying, so
that since his death she had taken Helena under her protection;
then the countess praised the virtuous disposition and excellent
qualities of Helena, saying she inherited these virtues from her
worthy father. While she was speaking, Helena wept in sad and
mournful silence, which made the countess gently reprove her for
too much grieving for her father's death.

Bertram now bade his mother farewell. The countess parted with
this dear son with tears and many blessings, and commended him to
the care of Lafeu, saying:

"Good my lord, advise him, for he is an unseasoned courtier."

Bertram's last words were spoken to Helena, but they were words
of mere civility, wishing her happiness; and he concluded his
short farewell to her with saying:

"Be comfortable to my mother, your mistress, and make much of

Helena had long loved Bertram, and when she wept in sad and
mournful silence the tears she shed were not for Gerard de
Narbon.. Helena loved her father, but in the present feeling of a
deeper love, the object of which she was about to lose, she had
forgotten the very form and features of her dead father, her
imagination presenting no image to her mind but Bertram's.

Helena had long loved Bertram, yet she always remembered that he
was the Count of Rousillon, descended from the most ancient
family in France. She of humble birth. Her parents of no note at
all. His ancestors all noble. And therefore she looked up to the
high-born Bertram as to her master and to her dear lord, and
dared not form any wish but to live his servant, and, so living,
to die his vassal. So great the distance seemed to her between
his height of dignity and her lowly fortunes that she would say:

"It were all one that I should love a bright particular star, and
think to wed it, Bertram is so far above me."

Bertram's absence filled her eyes with tears and her heart with
sorrow; for though she loved without hope, yet it was a pretty
comfort to her to see him every hour, and Helena would sit and
look upon his dark eye, his arched brow, and the curls of his
fine hair till she seemed to draw his portrait on the tablet of
her heart, that heart too capable of retaining the memory of
every line in the features of that loved face.

Gerard de Narbon, when he died, left her no other portion than
some prescriptions of rare and well-proved virtue, which, by deep
study and long experience in medicine, he had collected as
sovereign and almost infallible remedies. Among the rest there
was one set down as an approved medicine for the disease under
which Lafeu said the king at that time languished; and when
Helena heard of the king's complaint, she, who till now had been
so humble and so hopeless, formed an ambitious project in her
mind to go herself to Paris and undertake the cure of the king.
But though Helena was the possessor of this choice prescription,
it was unlikely, as the king as well as his physicians was of
opinion that his disease was incurable, that they would give
credit to a poor unlearned virgin if she should offer to perform
a cure. The firm hopes that Helena had of succeeding, if she
might be permitted to make the trial, seemed more than even her
father's skill warranted, though he was the most famous physician
of his time; for she felt a strong faith that this good medicine
was sanctified by all the luckiest stars in heaven to be the
legacy that should advance her fortune, even to the high dignity
of being Count Rousillon's wife.

Bertram had not been long gone when the countess was informed by
her steward that he had overheard Helena talking to herself, and
that he understood, from some words she uttered, she was in love
with Bertram and thought of following him to Paris. The countess
dismissed the steward with thanks, and desired him to tell Helena
she wished to speak with her. What she had just heard of Helena
brought the remembrance of days long past into the mind of the
countess; those days, probably, when her love for Bertram's
father first began; and she said to herself:

"Even so it was with me when I was young. Love is a thorn that
belongs to the rose of youth; for in the season of youth, if ever
we are Nature's children, these faults are ours, though then we
think not they are faults."

While the countess was thus meditating on the loving errors of
her own youth, Helena entered, and she said to her, "Helena, you
know I am a mother to you."

Helena replied, "You are my honorable mistress."

"You are my daughter," said the countess again. "I say I am your
mother. Why do you start and look pale at my words?"

With looks of alarm and confused thoughts, fearing the countess
suspected her love, Helena still replied, "Pardon me, madam, you
are not my mother; the Count Rousillon cannot be my brother, nor
I your daughter."

"Yet, Helena," said the countess, "you might be my
daughter-in-law; and I am afraid that is what you mean to be, the
words MOTHER and DAUGHTER so disturb you. Helena, do you love my

"Good madam, pardon me," said the affrighted Helena.

Again the countess repeated her question. "Do you love my son?"

"Do not you love him, madam?" said Helena.

The countess replied: "Give me not this evasive answer, Helena.
Come, come, disclose the state of your affections, for your love
has to the full appeared."

Helena, on her knees now, owned her love, and with shame and
terror implored the pardon of her noble mistress; and with words
expressive of the sense she had of the inequality between their
fortunes she protested Bertram did not know she loved him,
comparing her humble, unaspiring love to a poor Indian who adores
the sun that looks upon his worshiper but knows of him no more.
The countess asked Helena if she had not lately an intent to go
to Paris. Helena owned the design she had formed in her mind when
she heard Lafeu speak of the king's illness.

"This was your motive for wishing to go to Paris," said the
countess, "was it? Speak truly."

Helena honestly answered, "My lord your son made me to think of
this; else Paris. and the medicine and the king had from the
conversation of my thoughts been absent then."

The countess heard the whole of this confession without saying a
word either of approval or of blame, but she strictly questioned
Helena as to the probability of the medicine being useful to the
king. She found that it was the most prized by Gerard de Narbon
of all he possessed, and that he had given it to his daughter on
his death-bed; and remembering the solemn promise she had made at
that awful hour in regard to this young maid, whose destiny, and
the life of the king himself, seemed to depend on the execution
of a project (which, though conceived by the fond suggestions of
a loving maiden's thoughts, the countess knew not but it might be
the unseen workings of Providence to bring to pass the recovery
of the king and to lay the foundation of the future fortunes of
Gerard de Narbon's daughter), free leave she gave to Helena to
pursue her own way, and generously furnished her with ample means
and suitable attendants; and Helena set out for Paris with the
blessings of the countess and her kindest wishes for her success.

Helena arrived at Paris, and by the assistance of her friend, the
old Lord Lafeu, she obtained an audience of the king. She had
still many difficulties to encounter, for the king was not easily
prevailed on to try the medicine offered him by this fair young
doctor. But she told him she was Gerard de Narbon's daughter
(with whose fame the king was well acquainted), and she offered
the precious medicine as the darling treasure which contained the
essence of all her father's long experience and skill, and she
boldly engaged to forfeit her life if it failed to restore his
Majesty to perfect health in the space of two days. The king at
length consented to try it, and in two days' time Helena was to
lose her fife if the king did not recover; but if she succeeded,
he promised to give her the choice of any man throughout all
France (the princes only excepted) whom she could like for a
husband; the choice of a husband being the fee Helena demanded if
she cured the king of his disease.

Helena did not deceive herself in the hope she conceived of the
efficacy of her father's medicine. Before two days were at an
end the king was restored to perfect health, and he assembled all
the young noblemen of his court together, in order to confer the
promised reward of a husband upon his fair physician; and he
desired Helena to look round on this youthful parcel of noble
bachelors and choose her husband. Helena was not slow to make her
choice, for among these young lords she saw the Count Rousillon,
and, turning to Bertram, she said:

"This is the man. I dare not say, my lord, I take you, but I give
me and my service ever whilst I live into your guiding power."

"Why, then," said the king, "young Bertram, take her; she is your

Bertram did not hesitate to declare his dislike to this present
of the king's of the self-offered Helena, who, he said, was a
poor physician's daughter, bred at his father's charge, and now
living a dependent on his mother's bounty.

Helena heard him speak these words of rejection and of scorn, and
she said to the king: "That you are well, my lord, I am glad. Let
the rest go."

But the king would not suffer his royal command to be so
slighted, for the power of bestowing their nobles in marriage was
one of the many privileges of the kings of France, and that same
day Bertram was married to Helena, a forced and uneasy marriage
to Bertram, and of no promising hope to the poor lady, who,
though she gained the noble husband she had hazarded her life to
obtain, seemed to have won but a splendid blank, her husband's
love not being a gift in the power of the King of France to

Helena was no sooner married than she was desired by Bertram to
apply to the king for him for leave of absence from court; and
when she brought him the king's permission for his departure,
Bertram told her that he was not prepared for this sudden
marriage, it had much unsettled him, and therefore she must not
wonder at the course he should pursue. If Helena wondered not,
she grieved when she found it was his intention to leave her. He
ordered her to go home to his mother. When Helena heard this
unkind command, she replied:

"Sir, I can nothing say to this but that I am your most obedient
servant, and shall ever with true observance seek to eke out that
desert wherein my homely stars have failed to equal my great

But this humble speech of Helena's did not at all move the
haughty Bertram to pity his gentle wife, and he parted from her
without even the common civility of a kind farewell.

Back to the countess then Helena returned. She had accomplished
the purport of her journey, she had preserved the life of the
king, and she had wedded her heart's dear lord, the Count
Rousillon; but she returned back a dejected lady to her noble
mother-in-law, and as soon as she entered the house she received
a letter from Bertram which almost broke her heart.

The good countess received her with a cordial welcome, as if she
had been her son's own choice and a lady of a high degree, and
she spoke kind words to comfort her for the unkind neglect of
Bertram in sending his wife home on her bridal day alone. But
this gracious reception failed to cheer the sad mind of Helena,
and she said:

"Madam, my lord is gone, forever gone." She then read these words
out of Bertram's letter:

"When you can get the ring from my finger, which never shall come
off, then call me husband, but in such a Then I write a Never."

"This is a dreadful sentence!" said Helena.

The countess begged her to have patience, and said, now Bertram
was gone, she should be her child and that she deserved a lord
that twenty such rude boys as Bertram might tend upon, and hourly
call her mistress. But in vain by respectful condescension and
kind flattery this matchless mother tried to soothe the sorrows
of her daughter-in-law.

Helena still kept her eyes fixed upon the letter, and cried out
in an agony of grief, "TILL I HAVE NO WIFE, I HAVE NOTHING IN
FRANCE." The countess asked her if she found those words in the

"Yes, madam," was all poor Helena could answer.

The next morning Helena was missing. She left a letter to be
delivered to the countess after she was gone, to acquaint her
with the reason of her sudden absence. In this letter she
informed her that she was so much grieved at having driven
Bertram from his native country and his home, that to atone for
her offense, she had undertaken a pilgrimage to the shrine of St.
Jaques le Grand, and concluded with requesting the countess to
inform her son that the wife he so hated had left his house

Bertram, when he left Paris, went to Florence, and there became
an officer in the Duke of Florence's army, and after a successful
war, in which he distinguished himself by many brave actions,
Bertram received letters from his mother containing the
acceptable tidings that Helena would no more disturb him; and he
was preparing to return home, when Helena herself, clad in her
pilgrim's weeds, arrived at the city of Florence.

Florence was a city through which the pilgrims used to pass on
their way to St. Jaques le Grand; and when Helena arrived at this
city she heard that a hospitable widow dwelt there who used to
receive into her house the female pilgrims that were going to
visit the shrine of that saint, giving them lodging and kind
entertainment. To this good lady, therefore, Helena went, and the
widow gave her a courteous welcome and invited her to see
whatever was curious in that famous city, and told her that if
she would like to see the duke's army she would take her where
she might have a full view of it.

"And you will see a countryman of yours," said the widow. "His
name is Count Rousillon, who has done worthy service in the
duke's wars." Helena wanted no second invitation, when she found
Bertram was to make part of the show. She accompanied her
hostess; and a sad and mournful pleasure it was to her to look
once more upon her dear husband's face.

"Is he not a handsome man?" said the widow.

"I like him well," replied Helena, with great truth.

All the way they walked the talkative widow's discourse was all
of Bertram. She told Helena the story of Bertram's marriage, and
how he had deserted the poor lady his wife and entered into the
duke's army to avoid living with her. To this account of her own
misfortunes Helena patiently listened, and when it was ended the
history of Bertram was not yet done, for then the widow began
another tale, every word of which sank deep into the mind of
Helena; for the story she now told was of Bertram's love for her

Though Bertram did not like the marriage forced on him by the
king, it seems he was not insensible to love, for since he had
been stationed with the army at Florence he had fallen in love
with Diana, a fair young gentlewoman, the daughter of this widow
who was Helena's hostess; and every night, with music of all
sorts, and songs composed in praise of Diana's beauty, he would
come under her window and solicit her love; and all his suit to
her was that she would permit him to visit her by stealth after
the family were retired to rest. But Diana would by no means be
persuaded to grant this improper request, nor give any
encouragement to his suit, knowing him to be a married man; for
Diana had been brought up under the counsels of a prudent mother,
who, though she was now in reduced circumstances, was well born
and descended from the noble family of the Capulets.

All this the good lady related to Helena, highly praising the
virtuous principles of her discreet daughter, which she said were
entirely owing to the excellent education and good advice she had
given her; and she further said that Bertram had been
particularly importunate with Diana to admit him to the visit he
so much desired that night, because he was going to leave
Florence early the next morning.

Though it grieved Helena to hear of Bertram's love for the
widow's daughter, yet from this story the ardent mind of Helena
conceived a project (nothing discouraged at the ill success of
her former one) to recover her truant lord. She disclosed to the
widow that she was Helena, the deserted wife of Bertram, and
requested that her kind hostess and her daughter would suffer
this visit from Bertram to take place, and allow her to pass
herself upon Bertram for Diana, telling them her chief motive for
desiring to have this secret meeting with her husband was to get
a ring from him, which, he had said, if ever she was in
possession of he would acknowledge her as his wife.

The widow and her daughter promised to assist her in this affair,
partly moved by pity for this unhappy, forsaken wife and partly
won over to her interest by the promises of reward which Helena
made them, giving them a purse of money in earnest of her future
favor. In the course of that day Helena caused information to be
sent to Bertram that she was dead, hoping that, when he thought
himself free to make a second choice by the news of her death, he
would offer marriage to her in her feigned character of Diana.
And if she could obtain the ring and this promise, too, she
doubted not she should make some future good come of it.

In the evening, after it was dark, Bertram was admitted into
Diana's chamber, and Helena was there ready to receive him. The
flattering compliments and love discourse he addressed to Helena
were precious sounds to her though she knew they were meant for
Diana; and Bertram was so well pleased with her that he made her
a solemn promise to be her husband, and to love her forever;
which she hoped would be prophetic of a real affection, when he
should know it was his own wife, the despised Helena, whose
conversation had so delighted him.

Bertram never knew how sensible a lady Helena was, else perhaps
he would not have been so regardless of her; and seeing her every
day, he had entirely over looked her beauty; a face we are
accustomed to see constantly losing the effect which is caused by
the first sight either of beauty or of plainness; and of her
understanding it was impossible he should judge, because she felt
such reverence, mixed with her love for him, that she was always
silent in his presence. But now that her future fate, and the
happy ending of all her love-projects, seemed to depend on her
leaving a favorable impression on the mind of Bertram from this
night's interview, she exerted all her wit to please him; and the
simple graces of her lively conversation and the endearing
sweetness of her manners so charmed Bertram that be vowed she
should be his wife. Helena begged the ring from off his finger as
a token of his regard, and he gave it to her; and in return for
this ring, which it was of such importance to her to possess, she
gave him another ring, which was one the king had made her a
present of. Before it was light in the morning she sent Bertram
away; and he immediately set out on his journey toward his
mother's house.

Helena prevailed on the widow and Diana to accompany her to
Paris, their further assistance being necessary to the full
accomplishment of the plan she had formed. When they arrived
there, they found the king was gone upon a visit to the Countess
of Rousillon, and Helena followed the king with all the speed she
could make.

The king was still in perfect health, and his gratitude to her
who had been the means of his recovery was so lively in his mind
that the moment he saw the Countess of Rousillon he began to talk
of Helena, calling her a precious jewel that was lost by the
folly of her son; but seeing the subject distressed the countess,
who sincerely lamented the death of Helena, he said:

"My good lady, I have forgiven and forgotten all."

But the good-natured old Lafeu, who was present, and could not
bear that the memory of his favorite Helena should be so lightly
passed over, said, "This I must say, the young lord did great
offense to his Majesty, his mother, and his lady; but to himself
he did the greatest wrong of all, for he has lost a wife whose
beauty astonished all eyes, whose words took all ears captive,
whose deep perfection made all hearts wish to serve her."

The king said: "Praising what is lost makes the remembrance dear.
Well--call him hither"; meaning Bertram, who now presented
himself before the king, and on his expressing deep sorrow for
the injuries he had done to Helena the king, for his dead
father's and his admirable mother's sake, pardoned him and
restored him once more to his favor. But the gracious countenance
of the king was soon changed toward him, for he perceived that
Bertram wore the very ring upon his finger which he had given to
Helena; and he well remembered that Helena had called all the
saints in heaven to witness she would never part with that ring
unless she sent it to the king himself upon some great disaster
befalling her; and Bertram, on the king's questioning him how he
came by the ring, told an improbable story of a lady throwing it
to him out of a window, and denied ever having seen Helena since
the day of their marriage. The king, knowing Bertram's dislike to
his wife, feared he had destroyed her, and he ordered his guards
to seize Bertram, saying:

"I am wrapt in dismal thinking, for I fear the life of Helena was
foully snatched."

At this moment Diana and her mother entered and presented a
petition to the king, wherein they begged his Majesty to exert
his royal power to compel Bertram to marry Diana, he having made
her a solemn promise of marriage. Bertram, fearing the king's
anger, denied he had made any such promise; and then Diana
produced the ring (which Helena had put into her hands) to
confirm the truth of her words; and she said that she had given
Bertram the ring he then wore, in exchange for that, at the time
he vowed to marry her. On hearing this the king ordered the
guards to seize her also; and, her account of the ring differing
from Bertram's, the king's suspicions were confirmed, and he said
if they did not confess how they came by this ring of Helena's
they should be both put to death. Diana requested her mother
might be permitted to fetch the jeweler of whom she bought the
ring, which, being granted, the widow went out, and presently
returned, leading in Helena herself.

The good countess, who in silent grief had beheld her son's
danger, and had even dreaded that the suspicion of his having
destroyed his wife might possibly be true, finding her dear
Helena, whom she loved with even a maternal affection, was still
living, felt a delight she was hardly able to support; and the
king, scarce believing for joy that it was Helena, said:

"Is this indeed the wife of Bertram that I see?"

Helena, feeling herself yet an unacknowledged wife, replied, "No,
my good lord, it is but the shadow of a wife you see; the name
and not the thing."

Bertram cried out: "Both, both! Oh pardon!"

"O my lord," said Helena, "when I personated this fair maid I
found you wondrous kind; and look, here is your letter!" reading
to him in a joyful tone those words which she had once repeated
is done; it was to me you gave the ring. Will you be mine, now
you are doubly won?"

Bertram replied, "If you can make it plain that you were the lady
I talked with that night I will love you dearly, ever, ever

This was no difficult task, for the widow and Diana came with
Helena to prove this fact; and the king was so well pleased with
Diana for the friendly assistance she had rendered the dear lady
he so truly valued for the service she had done him that he
promised her also a noble husband, Helena's history giving him a
hint that it was a suitable reward for kings to bestow upon fair
ladies when they perform notable services.

Thus Helena at last found that her father's legacy was indeed
sanctified by the luckiest stars in heaven; for she was now the
beloved wife of her dear Bertram, the daughter-in-law of her
noble mistress, and herself the Countess of Rousillon.


Katharine, the Shrew, was the eldest daughter of Baptista, a rich
gentleman of Padua. She was a lady of such an ungovernable spirit
and fiery temper, such a loud-tongued scold, that she was known
in Padua by no other name than Katharine the Shrew. It seemed
very unlikely, indeed impossible, that any gentleman would ever
be found who would venture to marry this lady, and therefore
Baptista was much blamed for deferring his consent to many
excellent offers that were made to her gentle sister Bianca,
putting off all Bianca's suitors with this excuse, that when the
eldest sister was fairly off his bands they should have free
leave to address young Bianca.

It happened, however, that a gentleman, named Petruchio, came to
Padua purposely to look out for a wife, who, nothing discouraged
by these reports of Katharine's temper, and hearing she was rich
and handsome, resolved upon marrying this famous termagant, and
taming her into a meek and manageable wife. And truly none was so
fit to set about this herculean labor as Petruchio, whose spirit
was as high as Katharine's, and he was a witty and most
happy-tempered humorist, and withal so wise, and of such a true
judgment, that he well knew how to feign a passionate and furious
deportment when his spirits were so calm that himself could have
laughed merrily at his own angry feigning, for his natural temper
was careless and easy; the boisterous airs he assumed when he
became the husband of Katharine being but in sport, or, more
properly speaking, affected by his excellent discernment, as the
only means to overcome, in her own way, the passionate ways of
the furious Katharine.

A-courting, then, Petruchio went to Katharine the Shrew; and
first of all he applied to Baptista, her father, for leave to woo
his GENTLE DAUGHTER Katharine, as Petruchio called her, saying,
archly, that, having heard of her bashful modesty and mild
behavior, he had come from Verona to solicit her love. Her
father, though he wished her married, was forced to confess
Katharine would ill answer this character, it being soon apparent
of what manner of gentleness she was composed, for her
music-master rushed into the room to complain that the gentle
Katharine, his pupil, had broken his head with her lute for
presuming to find fault with her performance; which, when
Petruchio heard, he said:

"It is a brave wench. I love her more than ever, and long to have
some chat with her." And hurrying the old gentleman for a
positive answer, he said: "My business is in haste, Signor
Baptista. I cannot come every day to woo. You knew my father. He
is dead, and has left me heir to all his lands and goods. Then
tell me, if I get your daughter's love, what dowry you will give
with her."

Baptista thought his manner was somewhat blunt for a lover; but,
being glad to get Katharine married, he answered that he would
give her twenty thousand crowns for her dowry, and half his
estate at his death. So this odd match was quickly agreed on and
Baptista went to apprise his shrewish daughter of her lover's
addresses, and sent her in to Petruchio to listen to his suit.

In the mean time Petruchio was settling with himself the mode of
courtship be should pursue; and he said: "I will woo her with
some spirit when she comes. If she rails at me, why, then I will
tell her she sings as sweetly as a nightingale; and if she
frowns, I will say she looks as clear as roses newly washed with
dew. If she will not speak a word, I will praise the eloquence of
her language; and if she bids me leave her, I will give her
thanks as if she bid me stay with her a week."

Now the stately Katharine entered, and Petruchio first addressed
her with:

"Good morrow, Kate, for that is your name, I hear."

Katharine, not liking this plain salutation, said, disdainfully,
"They call me Katharine who do speak to me."

"You lie," replied the lover; "for you are called plain Kate, and
bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the Shrew; but, Kate, you are the
prettiest Kate in Christendom, and therefore, Kate, hearing your
mildness praised in every town, I am come to woo you for my

A strange courtship they made of it. She in loud and angry terms
showing him how justly she had gained the name of Shrew, while he
still praised her sweet and courteous words, till at length,
hearing her father coming, he said (intending to make as quick a
wooing as possible):

"Sweet Katharine, let us set this idle chat aside, for your
father has consented that you shall be my wife, your dowry is
agreed on, and whether you will or no I will marry you."

And now Baptista entering, Petruchio told him his daughter had
received him kindly and that she had promised to be married the
next Sunday. This Katharine denied, saying she would rather see
him hanged on Sunday, and reproached her father for wishing to
wed her to such a madcap ruffian as Petruchio. Petruchio desired
her father not to regard her angry words, for they had agreed she
should seem reluctant before him, but that when they were alone
he had found her very fond and loving; and he said to her:

"Give me your hand, Kate. I will go to Venice to buy you apparel
against our wedding-day. Provide the feast, father, bid the
wedding guests. I will be sure to bring rings, fine array, and
rich clothes, that my Katharine may be fine. And kiss me, Kate,
for we will be married on Sunday."

On the Sunday all the wedding guests were assembled, but they
waited long before Petruchio came, and Katharine wept for
vexation to think that Petruchio had only been making a jest of
her. At last, however, he appeared; but he brought none of the
bridal finery be had promised Katharine, nor was he dressed
himself like a bridegroom, but in strange, disordered attire, as
if he meant to make a sport of the serious business he came
about; and his servant and the very horses on which they rode
were in like manner in mean and fantastic fashion habited.

Petruchio could not be persuaded to change his dress. He said
Katharine was to be married to him, and not to his clothes. And,
finding it was in vain to argue with him, to the church they
went, he still behaving in the same mad way, for when the priest
asked Petruchio if Katharine should be his wife, he swore so loud
that she should, that, all amazed, the priest let fall his book,
and as he stooped to take it up this mad-brained bridegroom gave
him such a cuff that down fell the priest and his book again. And
all the while they were being married he stamped and swore so
that the high-spirited Katharine trembled and shook with fear.
After the ceremony was over, while they were yet in the church,
he called for wine, and drank a loud health to the company, and
threw a sop which was at the bottom of the glass full in the
sexton's face, giving no other reason for this strange act than
that the sexton's beard grew thin and hungerly, and seemed to ask
the sop as he was drinking. Never sure was there such a mad

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