Part 2 out of 5
upon her account. 'I did not then,' said Celia, 'entreat you to let her
stay, for I was too young at that time to value her; but now that I know
her worth, and that we so long have slept together, rose at the same
instant, learned, played, and eat together, I cannot live out of her
company.' Frederick replied: 'She is too subtle for you; her
smoothness, her very silence, and her patience speak to the people,
and they pity her. You are a fool to plead for her, for you will seem
more bright and virtuous when she is gone; therefore open not your
lips in her favour, for the doom which I have passed upon her is
When Celia found she could not prevail upon her father to let
Rosalind remain with her, she generously resolved to accompany her;
and leaving her father's palace that night, she went along with her
friend to seek Rosalind's father, the banished duke, in the forest of
Before they set out, Celia considered that it would be unsafe for two
young ladies to travel in the rich clothes they then wore; she therefore
proposed that they should disguise their rank by dressing themselves
like country maids. Rosalind said it would be a still greater protection
if one of them was to be dressed like a man: and so it was quickly
agreed on between them, that as Rosalind was the tallest, she should
wear the dress of a young countryman, and Celia should be habited
like a country lass, and that they should say they were brother and
sister, and Rosalind said she would be called Ganymede, and Celia
chose the name of Aliena.
In this disguise, and taking their money and jewels to defray their
expenses, these fair princesses set out on their long travel; for the
forest of Arden was a long way off, beyond the boundaries of the
The Lady Rosalind (or Ganymede as she must now be called) with her
manly garb seemed to have put on a manly courage. The faithful
friendship Celia had shown in accompanying Rosalind so many weary
miles, made the new brother, in recompense for this true love, exert a
cheerful spirit, as if he were indeed Ganymede, the rustic and stout-
hearted brother of the gentle village maiden, Aliena.
When at last they came to the forest of Arden, they no longer found
the convenient inns and good accommodations they had met with on
the road; and being in want of food and rest, Ganymede, who had so
merrily cheered his sister with pleasant speeches and happy remarks
all the way, now owned to Aliena that he was so weary, he could find
in his heart to disgrace his man's apparel, and cry like a woman; and
Aliena declared she could go no farther; and then again Ganymede
tried to recollect that it was a man's duty to comfort and console a
woman, as the weaker vessel; and to seem courageous to his new
sister; he said: 'Come, have a good heart, my sister Aliena; we are now
at the end of our travel, in the forest of Arden.' But feigned manliness
and forced courage would no longer support them; for though they
were in the forest of Arden, they knew not where to find the duke: and
here the travel of these weary ladies might have come to a sad
conclusion, for they might have lost themselves, and perished for want
of food; but providentially, as they were sitting on the grass, almost
dying with fatigue and hopeless of any relief, a countryman chanced
to pass that way, and Ganymede once more tried to speak with a
manly boldness, saying: 'Shepherd, if love or gold can in this desert
place procure us entertainment, I pray you bring us where we may rest
ourselves; for this young maid, my sister, is much fatigued with
travelling, and faints for want of food.'
The man replied that he was only a servant to a shepherd, and that his
master's house was just going to be sold, and therefore they would
find but poor entertainment; but that if they would go with him, they
should be welcome to what there was. They followed the man, the
near prospect of relief giving them fresh strength; and bought the
house and sheep of the shepherd, and took the man who conducted
them to the shepherd's house to wait on them; and being by this means
so fortunately provided with a neat cottage, and well supplied with
provisions, they agreed to stay here till they could learn in what part
of the forest the duke dwelt.
When they were rested after the fatigue of their journey, they began to
like their new way of life, and almost fancied themselves the shepherd
and shepherdess they feigned to be: yet sometimes Ganymede
remembered he had once been the same lady Rosalind who had so
dearly loved the brave Orlando, because he was the son of old Sir
Rowland, her father's friend; and though Ganymede thought that
Orlando was many miles distant, even so many weary miles as they
had travelled, yet it soon appeared that Orlando was also in the forest
of Arden: and in this manner this strange event came to pass.
Orlando was the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys, who, when he
died, left him (Orlando being then very young) to the care of his eldest
brother Oliver, charging Oliver on his blessing to give his brother a
good education, and provide for him as became the dignity of their
ancient house. C)liver proved an unworthy brother; and disregarding
the commands of his dying father, he never put his bother to school,
but kept him a,: home untaught and entirely neglected. But in his
nature and in the noble qualities of his mind Orlando so much
resembled his excellent father, that without any advantages of
education he seemed like a youth who had been bred with the utmost
care; and Oliver so envied the fine person and dignified manners of
his untutored brother, that at last he wished to destroy him, and to
effect this he set on people to persuade him to wrestle with the famous
wrestler, who, as has been before related, had killed so many men.
Now, it was this cruel brother's neglect of him which made Orlando
say he wished to die, being so friendless.
When, contrary to the wicked hopes he had formed, his brother
proved victorious, his envy and malice knew no bounds, and he swore
he would burn the chamber where Orlando slept. He was overheard
making this vow by one that had been an old and faithful servant to
their father, and that loved Orlando because he resembled Sir
Rowland. This old man went out to meet him when he returned from
the duke's palace, and when he saw Orlando, the peril his dear young
master was in made him break out into these passionate exclamations:
'O my gentle master, my sweet master, O you memory of old Sir
Rowland! why are you virtuous? why are you gentle, strong, and
valiant? and why would you be so fond to overcome the famous
wrestler? Your praise is come too swiftly home before you.' Orlando,
wondering what all this meant, asked him what was the matter. And
then the old man told him how his wicked brother, envying the love
all people bore him, and now hearing the fame he had gained by his
victory in the duke s palace, intended to destroy him, by setting fire to
his chamber that night; and in conclusion, advised him to escape the
danger he was in by instant flight; and knowing Orlando had no
money, Adam (for that was the good old man's name) had brought out
with him his own little hoard, and he said: 'I have five hundred
crowns, the thrifty hire I saved under your father, and laid by to be
provision for me when my old limbs should become unfit for service;
take that, and He that cloth the ravens feed be comfort to my age!
Here is the gold; all this I give to you: let me be your servant; though I
look old I will do the service of a younger man in all your business
and necessities.' 'O good old man! ' said Orlando, 'how well appears in
you the constant service of the old world! You are not for the fashion
of these times. We will go along together, and before your youthful
wages are spent, I shall light upon some means for both our
Together then this faithful servant and his loved master set out; and
Orlando and Adam travelled on, uncertain what course to pursue, till
they came to the forest of Arden, and there they found themselves in
the same distress for want of food that Ganymede and Aliena had
been. They wandered on, seeking some human habitation, till they
were almost spent with hunger and fatigue. Adam at last said: 'O my
dear master, I die for want of food, I can go no farther!' He then laid
himself down, thinking to make that place his grave, and bade his dear
master farewell. Orlando, seeing him in this weak state, took his old
servant up in his arms, and carried him under the shelter of some
pleasant trees; and he said to him: 'Cheerly, old Adam, rest your weary
limbs here awhile, and do not talk of dying!'
Orlando then searched about to find some food, and he happened to
arrive at that part of the forest where the duke was; and he and his
friends were just going to eat their dinner, this royal duke being seated
on the grass, under no other canopy than the shady covert of some
Orlando, whom hunger had made desperate, drew his sword,
intending to take their meat by force, and said: 'Forbear and eat no
more; I must have your food!' The duke asked him, if distress had
made him so bold, or if he were a rude despiser of good manners? On
this Orlando said, he was dying with hunger; and then the duke told
him he was welcome to sit down and eat with them. Orlando hearing
him speak so gently, put up his sword, and blushed with shame at the
rude manner in which he had demanded their food. 'Pardon me, I pray
you,' said he: 'I thought that all things had been savage here, and
therefore I put on the countenance of stern command; but whatever
men you are, that in this desert, under the shade of melancholy
boughs, lose and neglect the creeping hours of time; if ever you have
looked on better days; if ever you have been where bells have knolled
to church; if you have ever sat at any good man's feast; if ever from
your eyelids you have wiped a tear, and know what it is to pity or be
pitied, may gentle speeches now move you to do me human courtesy!'
The duke replied: 'True it is that we are men (as you say) who have
seen better days, and though we have now our habitation in this wild
forest, we have lived in towns and cities, and have with holy bell been
knolled to church, have sat at good men's feasts, and from our eyes
have wiped the drops which sacred pity has engendered; therefore sit
you down, and take of our refreshment as much as will minister to
your wants.' 'There is an old poor man,' answered Orlando, 'who has
limped after me many a weary step in pure love, oppressed at once
with two sad infirmities, age and hunger; till he be satisfied, I must
not touch a bit.' 'Go, find him out, and bring him hither,' said the duke;
'we will forbear to eat till you return.' Then Orlando went like a doe to
kind its fawn and give it food; and presently returned, bringing Adam
in his arms; and the duke said: 'Set down your venerable burthen; you
are both welcome'; and they fed the old man, and cheered his heart,
and he revived, and recovered his health and strength again.
The duke inquired who Orlando was; and when he found that he was
the son of his old friend, Sir Rowland de Boys, he took him under his
protection, and Orlando and his old servant lived with the duke in the
Orlando arrived in the forest not many days after Ganymede and
Aliena came there, and (as has been before 'elated) bought the
Ganymede and Aliena were strangely surprised to find the name of
Rosalind carved on the trees, and love-sonnets, fastened to them, all
addressed to Rosalind; and while they were wondering how this could
be, they met Orlando, and they perceived the chain which Rosalind
had given him about his neck.
Orlando little thought that Ganymede was the fair princess Rosalind,
who, by her noble condescension and favour, had so won his heart
that he passed his whole time in carving her name upon the trees, and
writing sonnets in praise of her beauty: but being much pleased with
the graceful air of this pretty shepherd-youth, he entered into
conversation with him, and he thought he saw a likeness in Ganymede
to his beloved Rosalind, but that he had none of the dignified
deportment of that noble lady; for Ganymede assumed the forward
manners often seen in youths when they are between boys and men,
and with much archness and humour talked to Orlando of a certain
lover, 'who,' said he, 'haunts our forest, and spoils our young trees with
carving Rosalind upon their barks; and he hangs odes upon hawthorns,
and elegies on brambles, all praising this same Rosalind. If I could
find this lover, I would give him some good counsel that would soon
cure him of his love.'
Orlando confessed that he was the fond lover of whom he spoke, and
asked Ganymede to give him the good counsel he talked of. The
remedy Ganymede proposed, and the counsel he gave him, was that
Orlando should come every day to the cottage where he and his sister
Aliena dwelt: 'And then,' said Ganymede, 'I will feign myself to be
Rosalind, and you shall feign to court me in the same manner as you
would do if I was Rosalind, and then I will imitate the fantastic ways
of whimsical ladies to their lovers, till I make you ashamed of your
love; and this is the way I propose to cure you.' Orlando had no great
faith in the remedy, yet he agreed to come every day to Ganymede's
cottage, and feign a playful courtship; and every day Orlando visited
Ganymede and Aliena, and Orlando called the shepherd Ganymede
his Rosalind, and every day talked over all the fine words and
flattering compliments which young men delight to use when they
court their mistresses. It does not appear, however, that Ganymede
made any progress in curing Orlando of his love for Rosalind.
Though Orlando thought all this was but a sportive play (not dreaming
that Ganymede was his very Rosalind), yet the opportunity it gave him
of saying all the fond things he had in his heart, pleased his fancy
almost as well as it did Ganymede's, who enjoyed the secret jest in
knowing these fine love-speeches were all addressed to the right
In this manner many days passed pleasantly on with these young
people; and the good-natured Aliena, seeing it made Ganymede
happy, let him have his own way, and was diverted at the mock-
courtship, and did not care to remind Ganymede that the Lady
Rosalind had not yet made herself known to the duke her father,
whose place of resort in the forest they had learnt from Orlando.
Ganymede met the duke one day, and had some talk with him, and the
duke asked of what parentage he came. Ganymede answered that he
came of as good parentage as he did, which made the duke smile, for
he did not suspect the pretty shepherd-boy came of royal lineage.
Then seeing the duke look well and happy, Ganymede was content to
put off all further explanation for a few days longer.
One morning, as Orlando was going to visit Ganymede, he saw a man
lying asleep on the ground, and a large green snake had twisted itself
about his neck. The snake, seeing Orlando approach, glided away
among the bushes. Orlando went nearer, and then he discovered a
lioness lie crouching, with her head on the ground, with a cat-like
watch, waiting until the sleeping man awaked (for it is said that lions
will prey on nothing that is dead or sleeping). It seemed as if Orlando
was sent by Providence to free the man from the danger of the snake
and lioness; but when Orlando looked in the man's face, he perceived
that the sleeper who was exposed to this double peril, was his own
brother Oliver, who had so cruelly used him, and had threatened to
destroy him by fire; and he was almost tempted to leave him a prey to
the hungry lioness; but brotherly affection and the gentleness of his
nature soon overcame his first anger against his brother; and he drew
his sword, and attacked the lioness, and slew her, and thus preserved
his brother's life both from the venomous snake and from the furious
lioness; but before Orlando could conquer the lioness, she had torn
one of his arms with her sharp claws.
While Orlando was engaged with the lioness, Oliver awaked, and
perceiving that his brother Orlando, whom he had so cruelly treated,
was saving him from the fury of a wild beast at the risk of his own
life, shame and remorse at once seized him, and he repented of his
unworthy conduct, and besought with many tears his brother's pardon
for the injuries he had done him. Orlando rejoiced to see him so
penitent, and readily forgave him: they embraced each other; and from
that hour Oliver loved Orlando with a true brotherly affection, though
he had come to the forest bent on his destruction.
The wound in Orlando's arm having bled very much, he found himself
too weak to go to visit Ganymede, and therefore he desired his brother
to go and tell Ganymede, 'whom,' said Orlando, 'I in sport do call my
Rosalind,' the accident which had befallen him.
Thither then Oliver went, and told to Ganymede and Aliena how
Orlando had saved his life: and when he had finished the story of
Orlando's bravery, and his own providential escape, he owned to them
that he was Orlando's brother, who had so cruelly used him; and then
he told them of their reconciliation.
The sincere sorrow that Oliver expressed for his offences made such a
lively impression on the kind heart of Aliena, that she instantly fell in
love with him; and Oliver observing how much she pitied the distress
he told her he felt for his fault, he as suddenly fell in love with her.
But while love was thus stealing into the hearts of Aliena and Oliver,
he was no less busy with Ganymede, who hearing of the danger
Orlando had been in, and that he was wounded by the lioness, fainted;
and when he recovered, he pretended that he had counterfeited the
swoon in the imaginary character of Rosalind, and Ganymede said to
Oliver: 'Tell your brother Orlando how well I counterfeited a swoon.'
But Oliver saw by the paleness of his complexion that he did really
faint, and much wondering at the weakness of the young man, he said:
'Well, if you did counterfeit, take a good heart, and counterfeit to be a
man.' 'So I do,' replied Ganymede, truly, 'but I should have been a
woman by right.'
Oliver made this visit a very long one, and when at last he returned
back to his brother, he had much news to tell him; for besides the
account of Ganymede's fainting at the hearing that Orlando was
wounded, Oliver told him how he had fallen in love with the fair
shepherdess Aliena, and that she had lent a favourable ear to his suit.
even in this their first interview: and he talked to his brother, as of a
thing almost settled, that he should marry Aliena, saying, that he so
well loved her, that he would live here as a shepherd, and settle his
estate and house at home upon Orlando.
'You have my consent,' said Orlando. 'Let your wedding be to-morrow,
and I will invite the duke and his friends. Go and persuade your
shepherdess to this: she is now alone, for look, here comes her
brother.' Oliver went to Aliena; and Ganymede, whom Orlando had
perceived approaching, came to inquire after the health of his
When Orlando and Ganymede began to talk over the sudden love
which had taken place between Oliver and Aliena, Orlando said he
had advised his brother to persuade his fair shepherdess to be married
on the morrow, and then he added how much he could wish to be
married on the same day to his Rosalind.
Ganymede, who well approved of this arrangement, said that if
Orlando really loved Rosalind as well as he professed to do, he should
have his wish; for on the morrow he would engage to make Rosalind
appear in her own person, and also that Rosalind should be willing to
This seemingly wonderful event, which, as Ganymede was the lady
Rosalind, he could so easily perform, he pretended he would bring to
pass by the aid of magic, which he said he had learnt of an uncle who
was a famous magician.
The fond lover Orlando, half believing and half doubting what he
heard, asked Ganymede if he spoke in sober meaning. 'By my life I
do,' said Ganymede; 'therefore put on your best clothes, and bid the
duke and your friends to your wedding; for if you desire to be married
to-morrow to Rosalind, she shall be here.'
The next morning, Oliver having obtained the consent of Aliena, they
came into the presence of the duke, and with them also came Orlando.
They being all assembled to celebrate this double marriage, and as yet
only one of the brides appearing, there was much of wondering and
conjecture, but they mostly thought that Ganymede was making a jest
The duke, hearing that it was his own daughter that was to be brought
in this strange way, asked Orlando if he believed the shepherd-boy
could really do what he had promised; and while Orlando was
answering that he knew not what to think, Ganymede entered, and
asked the duke, if he brought his daughter, whether he would consent
to her marriage with Orlando. 'That I would,' said the duke, 'if I had
kingdoms to give with her.' Ganymede then said to Orlando: 'And you
say you will marry her if I bring her here.' 'That I would,' said Orlando,
'if I were king of many kingdoms.'
Ganymede and Aliena then went out together, and Ganymede
throwing off his male attire, and being once more dressed in woman's
apparel, quickly became Rosalind without the power of magic; and
Aliena changing her country garb for her own rich clothes, was with
as little trouble transformed into the lady Celia.
While they were gone, the duke said to Orlando, that he thought the
shepherd Ganymede very like his daughter Rosalind; and Orlando
said, he also had observed the resemblance.
They had no time to wonder how all this would end, for Rosalind and
Celia in their own clothes entered; and no longer pretending that it
was by the power of magic that she came there, Rosalind threw
herself on her knees before her father, and begged his blessing. It
seemed so wonderful to all present that she should so suddenly
appear, that it might well have passed for magic; but Rosalind would
no longer trifle with her father, and told him the story of her
banishment, and of her dwelling in the forest as a shepherd-boy, her
cousin Celia passing as her sister.
The duke ratified the consent he had already given to the marriage;
and Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver and Celia, were married at the same
time. And though their wedding could not be celebrated in this wild
forest with any of the parade or splendour usual on such occasions, yet
a happier wedding-day was never passed: and while they were eating
their venison under the cool shade of the pleasant trees, as if nothing
should be wanting to complete the felicity of this good duke and the
true lovers, an unexpected messenger arrived to tell the duke the
joyful news, that his dukedom was restored to him.
The usurper, enraged at the flight of his daughter Celia, and hearing
that every day men of great worth resorted to the forest of Arden to
join the lawful duke in his exile, much envying' that his brother should
be so highly respected in his adversity, put himself at the head of a
large force, and advanced towards the forest, intending to seize his
brother, and put him with all his faithful followers to the sword; but,
by a wonderful interposition of Providence, this bad brother was
converted from his evil intention; for just as he entered the skirts of
the wild forest, he was met by an old religious man, a hermit, with
whom he had much talk, and who in the end completely turned his
heart from his wicked design. Thenceforward he became a true
penitent, and resolved, relinquishing his unjust dominion, to spend the
remainder of his days in a religious house. The first act of his newly-
conceived penitence was to send a messenger to his brother (as has
been related) to offer to restore to him his dukedom, which he had
usurped so long, and with it the lands and revenues of his friends, the
faithful followers of his adversity.
This joyful news, as unexpected as it was welcome, came opportunely
to heighten the festivity and rejoicings at the wedding of the
princesses. Celia complimented her cousin on this good fortune which
had happened to the duke, Rosalind's father, and wished her joy very
sincerely, though she herself was no longer heir to the dukedom, but
by this restoration which her father had made, Rosalind was now the
heir: so completely was the love of these two cousins unmixed with
anything of jealousy or of envy.
The duke had now an opportunity of rewarding those true friends who
had stayed with him in his banishment; and these worthy followers,
though they had patiently shared his adverse fortune, were very well
pleased to return in peace and prosperity to the palace of their lawful
THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA
There lived in the city of Verona two young gentlemen, whose names
were Valentine and Proteus, between whom a firm and uninterrupted
friendship had long subsisted. They pursued their studies together, and
their hours of leisure were always passed in each other's company,
except when Proteus visited a lady he was in love with; and these
visits to his mistress, and this passion of Proteus for the fair Julia,
were the only topics on which these two friends disagreed; for
Valentine, not being himself a lover, was sometimes a little weary of
hearing his friend for ever talking of his Julia, and then he would
laugh at Proteus, and in pleasant terms ridicule the passion of love,
and declare that no such idle fancies should ever enter his head,
greatly preferring (as he said) the free and happy life he led, to the
anxious hopes and fears of the lover Proteus.
One morning Valentine came to Proteus to tell him that they must for
a time be separated, for that he was going to Milan. Proteus, unwilling
to part with his friend, used many arguments to prevail upon
Valentine not to leave him: but Valentine said: 'Cease to persuade me,
my loving Proteus. I will not, like a sluggard, wear out my youth in
idleness at home. Home-keeping youths have ever homely wits. If
your affection were not chained to the sweet glances of your honoured
Julia, I would entreat you to accompany me, to see the wonders of the
world abroad; but since you are a lover, love on still, and may your
love be prosperous!'
They parted with mutual expressions of unalterable friendship. 'Sweet
Valentine, adieu!' said Proteus; 'think on me, when you see some rare
object worthy of notice in your travels, and wish me partaker of your
Valentine began his journey that same day towards Milan; and when
his friend had left him, Proteus sat down to write a letter to Julia,
which he gave to her maid Lucetta to deliver to her mistress.
Julia loved Proteus as well as he did her, but she was a lady of a noble
spirit, and she thought it did not become her maiden dignity too easily
to be won; therefore she affected to be insensible of his passion, and
gave him much uneasiness in the prosecution of his suit.
And when Lucetta offered the letter to Julia, she would not receive it,
and chid her maid for taking letters from Proteus, and ordered her to
leave the room. But she so much wished to see what was written in
the letter, that she soon called in her maid again; and when Lucetta
returned, she said: 'What o'clock is it?' Lucetta, who knew her mistress
more desired to see the letter than to know the time of day, without
answering her question, again offered the rejected letter. Julia, angry
that her maid should thus take the liberty of seeming to know what
she really wanted, tore the letter in pieces, and threw it on the floor,
ordering her maid once more out of the room. As Lucetta was retiring,
she stopped to pick up the fragments of the torn letter; but Julia, who
meant not so to part with them, said, in pretended anger: 'Go, get you
gone, and let the papers lie, you would be fingering them to anger me.'
Julia then began to piece together as well as she could the torn
fragments. She first made out these words: 'Love-wounded Proteus';
and lamenting over these and such like loving words, which she made
out though they were all torn asunder, or, she said wounded (the
expression 'Love-wounded Proteus' giving her that idea), she talked to
these kind words, telling them she would lodge them in her bosom as
in a bed, till their wounds were healed, and that she would kiss each
several piece, to make amends.
In this manner she went on talking with a pretty ladylike childishness,
till finding herself unable to make out the whole, and vexed at her
own ingratitude in destroying such sweet and loving words, as she
called them, she wrote a much kinder letter to Proteus than she had
ever done before.
Proteus was greatly delighted at receiving this favourable answer to
his letter; and while he was reading it, he exclaimed: 'Sweet love,
sweet lines, sweet life!' In the midst of his raptures he was interrupted
by his father. 'How now!' said the old gentleman; 'what letter are you
'My lord,' replied Proteus, 'it is a letter from my friend Valentine, at
'Lend me the letter,' said his father: 'let me see what news.'
'There are no news, my lord,' said Proteus, greatly alarmed, 'but that he
writes how well beloved he is of the duke of Milan, who daily graces
him with favours; and how he wishes me with him, the partner of his
'And how stand you affected to his wish?' asked the father.
'As one relying on your lordship's will, and not depending on his
friendly wish,' said Proteus.
Now it had happened that Proteus' father had just been talking with a
friend on this very subject: his friend had said, he wondered his
lordship suffered his son to spend his youth at home, while most men
were sending their sons to seek preferment abroad; 'some,' said he, 'to
the wars, to try their fortunes there, and some to discover islands far
away, and some to study in foreign universities; and there is his
companion Valentine, he is gone to the duke of Milan's court. Your
son is fit for any of these things, and it will be a great disadvantage to
him in his riper age not to have travelled in his youth.'
Proteus' father thought the advice of his friend was very good, and
upon Proteus telling him that Valentine 'wished him with him, the
partner of his fortune,' he at once determined to send his son to Milan;
and without giving Proteus any reason for this sudden resolution, it
being the usual habit of this positive old gentleman to command his
son, not reason with him, he said: 'My will is the same as Valentine's
wish'; and seeing his son look astonished, he added: 'Look not amazed,
that I so suddenly resolve you shall spend some time in the duke of
Milan's court; for what I will I will, and there is an end. To-morrow be
in readiness to go. Make no excuses; for I am peremptory.'
Proteus knew it was of no use to make objections to his father, who
never suffered him to dispute his will; and he blamed himself for
telling his father an untruth about Julia's letter, which had brought
upon him the sad necessity of leaving her.
Now that Julia found she was going to lose Proteus for so long a time,
she no longer pretended indifference; and they bade each other a
mournful farewell, with many vows of love and constancy. Proteus
and Julia exchanged rings, which they both promised to keep for ever
in remembrance of each other; and thus, taking a sorrowful leave,
Proteus set out on his journey to Milan, the abode of his friend
Valentine was in reality what Proteus had feigned to his father, in high
favour with the duke of Milan; and another event had happened to
him, of which Proteus did not even dream, for Valentine had given up
the freedom of which he used so much to boast, and was become as
passionate a lover as Proteus.
She who had wrought this wondrous change in Valentine was the lady
Silvia, daughter of the duke of Milan, and she also loved him; but they
concealed their love from the duke, because although he showed
much kindness for Valentine, and invited him every day to his palace,
yet he designed to marry his daughter to a young courtier whose name
was Thurio. Silvia despised this Thurio, for he had none of the fine
sense and excellent qualities of Valentine.
These two rivals, Thurio and Valentine, were one day on a visit to
Silvia, and Valentine was entertaining Silvia with turning everything
Thurio said into ridicule, when the duke himself entered the room,
and told Valentine the welcome news of his friend Proteus' arrival.
Valentine said: 'If I had wished a thing, it would have been to have
seen him here!' And then he highly praised Proteus to the duke,
saying: 'My lord, though I have been a truant of my time, yet hath my
friend made use and fair advantage of his days, and is complete in
person and in mind, in all good grace to grace a gentleman.'
'Welcome him then according to his worth,' said the duke. 'Silvia, I
speak to you, and you, Sir Thurio; for Valentine, I need not bid him do
so.' They were here interrupted by the entrance of Proteus, and
Valentine introduced him to Silvia, saying: 'Sweet lady, entertain him
to be my fellow-servant to your ladyship.'
When Valentine and Proteus had ended their visit, and were alone
together, Valentine said: 'Now tell me how all does from whence you
came? How does your lady, and how thrives your love?' Proteus
replied: 'My tales of love used to weary you. I know you joy not in a
'Ay, Proteus,' returned Valentine, 'but that life is altered now. I have
done penance for condemning love. For in revenge of my contempt of
love, love has chased sleep from my enthralled eyes. O gentle Proteus,
Love is a mighty lord, and hath so humbled me, that I confess there is
no woe like his correction, nor so such joy on earth as in his service. I
now like no discourse except it be of love. Now I can break my fast,
dine, sup, and sleep, upon the very name of love.'
This acknowledgment of the change which love had made in the
disposition of Valentine was a great triumph to his friend Proteus. But
'friend' Proteus must be called no longer, for the same all-powerful
deity Love, of whom they were speaking (yea, even while they were
talking of the change he had made in Valentine), was working in the
heart of Proteus; and he, who had till this time been a pattern of true
love and perfect friendship, was now, in one short interview with
Silvia, become a false friend and a faithless lover; for at the first sight
of Silvia all his love for Julia vanished away like a dream, nor did his
long friendship for Valentine deter him from endeavouring to supplant
him in her affections; and although, as it will always be, when people
of dispositions naturally good become unjust, he had many scruples
before he determined to forsake Julia, and become the rival of
Valentine; yet he at length overcame his sense of duty, and yielded
himself up, almost without remorse, to his new unhappy passion.
Valentine imparted to him in confidence the whole history of his love,
and how carefully they had concealed it from the duke her father, and
told him, that, despairing of ever being able to obtain his consent, he
had prevailed upon Silvia to leave her father's palace that night, and
go with him to Mantua; then he showed Proteus a ladder of ropes, by
help of which he meant to assist Silvia to get out of one of the
windows of the palace after it was dark.
Upon hearing this faithful recital of his friend's dearest secrets, it is
hardly possible to be believed, but so it was, that Proteus resolved to
go to the duke, and disclose the whole to him.
This false friend began his tale with many artful speeches to the duke,
such as that by the laws of friendship he ought to conceal what he was
going to reveal, but that the gracious favour the duke had shown him,
and the duty he owed his grace, urged him to tell that which else no
worldly good should draw from him. He then told all he had heard
from Valentine, not omitting the ladder of ropes, and the manner in
which Valentine meant to conceal them under a long cloak.
The duke thought Proteus quite a miracle of integrity, in that he
preferred telling his friend's intention rather than he would conceal an
unjust action, highly commended him, and promised him not to let
Valentine know from whom he had learnt this intelligence, but by
some artifice to make Valentine betray the secret himself. For this
purpose the duke awaited the coming of Valentine in the evening,
whom he soon saw hurrying towards the palace, and he perceived
somewhat was wrapped within his cloak, which he concluded was the
The duke upon this stopped him, saying: 'Whither away so fast,
Valentine?' 'May it please your grace,' said Valentine, 'there is a
messenger that stays to bear my letters to my friends, and I am going
to deliver them.' Now this falsehood of Valentine's had no better
success in the event than the untruth Proteus told his father.
'Be they of much import?' said the duke.
'No more, my lord,' said Valentine, 'than to tell my father I am well
and happy at your grace's court.'
'Nay then,' said the duke, 'no matter; stay with me a while. I wish your
counsel about some affairs that concern me nearly.' He then told
Valentine an artful story, as a prelude to draw his secret from him,
saying that Valentine knew he wished to match his daughter with
Thurio, but that she was stubborn and disobedient to his commands,
'neither regarding,' said he, 'that she is my child, nor fearing me as if I
were her father. And I may say to thee, this pride of hers has drawn
my love from her. I had thought my age should have been cherished
by her childlike duty. I now am resolved to take a wife, and turn her
out to whosoever will take her in. Let her beauty be her wedding
dower, for me and my possessions she esteems not.'
Valentine, wondering where all this would end, made answer: 'And
what would your grace have me do in all this?'
'Why,' said the duke, 'the lady I would wish to marry is nice and coy,
and does not much esteem my aged eloquence. Besides, the fashion of
courtship is much changed since I was young; now I would willingly
have you to be my tutor to instruct me how I am to woo.'
Valentine gave him a general idea of the modes of courtship then
practiced by young men, when they wished to win a fair lady's love,
such as presents, frequent visits, and the like.
The duke replied to this, that the lady did refuse a present which he
sent her, and that she was so strictly kept by her father, that no man
might have access to her by day.
'Why then,' said Valentine, 'you must visit her by night.'
'But at night,' said the artful duke, who was now coming to the drift of
his discourse, 'her doors are fast locked.'
Valentine then unfortunately proposed that the duke should go into
the lady's chamber at night by means of a ladder of ropes, saying he
would procure him one tatting for that purpose; and in conclusion
advised him to conceal this ladder of ropes under such a cloak as that
which he now wore. 'Lend me your cloak,' said the duke, who had
feigned this long story on purpose to have a presence to get off the
cloak; so upon saying these words, he caught hold of Valentine's
cloak, and throwing it back, he discovered not only the ladder of
ropes, but also a letter of Silvia's, which he instantly opened and read;
and this letter contained a full account of their intended elopement.
The duke, after upbraiding Valentine for his ingratitude in thus
returning the favour he had shown him, by endeavouring to steal away
his daughter, banished him from the court and city of Milan for ever;
and Valentine was forced to depart that night, without even seeing
While Proteus at Milan was thus injuring Valentine, Julia at Verona
was regretting the absence of Proteus; and her regard for him at last so
far overcame her sense of propriety, that she resolved to leave Verona,
and seek her lover at Milan; and to secure herself from danger on the
road, she dressed her maiden Lucetta and herself in men's clothes, and
they set out in this disguise, and arrived at Milan soon after Valentine
was banished from that city through the treachery of Proteus.
Julia entered Milan about noon, and she took up her abode at an inn;
and her thoughts being all on her dear Proteus, she entered into
conversation with the innkeeper, or host, as he was called, thinking by
that means to learn some news of Proteus.
The host was greatly pleased that this handsome young gentleman (as
he took her to be), who from his appearance he concluded was of high
rank, spoke so familiarly to him; and being a good-natured man, he
was sorry to see him look so melancholy; and to amuse his young
guest, he offered to take him to hear some fine music, with which, he
said, a gentleman that evening was going to serenade his mistress.
The reason Julia looked so very melancholy was, that she did not well
know what Proteus would think of the imprudent step she had taken;
for she knew he had loved her for her noble maiden pride and dignity
of character, and she feared she should lower herself in his esteem:
and this it was that made her wear a sad and thoughtful countenance.
She gladly accepted the offer of the host to go with him, and hear the
music; for she secretly hoped she might meet Proteus by the way.
But when she came to the palace whither the host conducted her, a
very different effect was produced to what the kind host intended; for
there, to her heart's sorrow, she beheld her lover, the inconstant
Proteus, serenading the lady Silvia with music, and addressing
discourse of love and admiration to her. And Julia overheard Silvia
from a window talk with Proteus, and reproach him for forsaking his
own true lady, and for his ingratitude to his friend Valentine; and then
Silvia left the window, not choosing to listen to his music and his fine
speeches; for she was a faithful lady to her banished Valentine, and
abhorred the ungenerous conduct of his false friend Proteus.
Though Julia was in despair at what she had just witnessed, yet did
she still love the truant Proteus; and hearing that he had lately parted
with a servant, she contrived with the assistance of her host, the
friendly innkeeper, to hire herself to Proteus as a page; and Proteus
knew not she was Julia, and he sent her with letters and presents to
her rival Silvia, and he even sent by her the very ring she gave him as
a parting gift at Verona.
When she went to that lady with the ring, she was most glad to find
that Silvia utterly rejected the suit of Proteus; and Julia, or the page
Sebastian as she was called, entered into conversation with Silvia
about Proteus' first love, the forsaken lady Julia. She putting in (as one
may say) a good word for herself, said she knew Julia; as well she
might, being herself the Julia of whom she spoke; telling how fondly
Julia loved her master Proteus, and how his unkind neglect would
grieve her: and then she with a pretty equivocation went on: 'Julia is
about my height, and of my complexion, the colour of her eyes and
hair the same as mine': and indeed Julia looked a most beautiful youth
in her boy's attire. Silvia was moved to pity this lovely lady, who was
so sadly forsaken by the man she loved; and when Julia offered the
ring which Proteus had sent, refused it, saying: 'The more shame for
him that he sends me that ring; I will not take it; for I have often heard
him say his Julia gave it to him. I love thee, gentle youth, for pitying
her, poor lady! Here is a purse; I give it you for Julia's sake.' These
comfortable words coming from her kind rival's tongue cheered the
drooping heart of the disguised lady.
But to return to the banished Valentine; who scarce knew which way
to bend his course, being unwilling to return home to his father a
disgraced and banished man: as he was wandering over a lonely
forest, not far distant from Milan, where he had left his heart's dear
treasure, the lady Silvia, he was set upon by robbers, who demanded
Valentine told them that he was a man crossed by adversity, that he
was going into banishment, and that he had no money, the clothes he
had on being all his riches.
The robbers, hearing that he was a distressed man, and being struck
with his noble air and manly behaviour, told him if he would live with
them, and be their chief, or captain, they would put themselves under
his command; but that if he refused to accept their offer, they would
Valentine, who cared little what became of himself, said he would
consent to live with them and be their captain, provided they did no
outrage on women or poor passengers.
Thus the noble Valentine became, like Robin Hood, of whom we read
in ballads, a captain of robbers and outlawed banditti; and in this
situation he was found by Silvia, and in this manner it came to pass.
Silvia, to avoid a marriage with Thurio, whom her father insisted upon
her no longer refusing, came at last to the resolution of following
Valentine to Mantua, at which place she had heard her lover had taken
refuge; but in this account she was misinformed, for he still lived in
the forest among the robbers, bearing the name of their captain, but
taking no part in their depredations, and using the authority which
they had imposed upon him in no other way than to compel them to
show compassion to the travellers they robbed.
Silvia contrived to effect her escape from her father's palace in
company with a worthy old gentleman, whose name was Eglamour,
whom she took along with her for protection on the road. She had to
pass through the forest where Valentine and the banditti dwelt; and
one of these robbers seized on Silvia, and would also have taken
Eglamour, but he escaped.
The robber who had taken Silvia, seeing the terror ;he was in, bid her
not be alarmed, for that he was only going to carry her to a cave where
his captain lived, and that she need not be afraid, for their captain had
an honourable mind, and always showed humanity to women. Silvia
found little comfort in hearing she was going to be carried as a
prisoner before the captain of a lawless banditti. 'O Valentine,' she
cried, 'this I endure for thee!'
But as the robber was conveying her to the cave of his captain, he was
stopped by Proteus, who, still attended by Julia in the disguise of a
page, having heard of the flight of Silvia, had traced her steps to this
forest. Proteus now rescued her from the hands of the robber; but
scarce had she time to thank him for the service he had done her,
before he began to distress her afresh with his love suit; and while he
was rudely pressing her to consent to marry him, and his page (the
forlorn Julia) was standing beside him in great anxiety of mind,
fearing lest the great service which Proteus had just done to Silvia
should win her to show him some favour, they were all strangely
surprised with the sudden appearance of Valentine, who, having heard
his robbers had taken a lady prisoner, came to console and relieve her.
Proteus was courting Silvia, and he was so much ashamed of being
caught by his friend, that he was all at once seized with penitence and
remorse; and he expressed such a lively sorrow for the injuries he had
done to Valentine, that Valentine, whose nature was noble and
generous, even to a romantic degree, not only forgave and restored
him to his former place in his friendship, but in a sudden flight of
heroism he said: 'I freely do forgive you; and all the interest I have in
Silvia, I give it up to you.' Julia, who was standing beside her master
as a page, hearing this strange offer, and fearing Proteus would not be
able with this new-found virtue to refuse Silvia, fainted, and they were
all employed in recovering her: else would Silvia have been offended
at being thus made over to Proteus, though she could scarcely think
that Valentine would long persevere in this overstrained and too
generous act of friendship. When Julia recovered from the fainting kit,
she said: 'I had forgot, my master ordered me to deliver this ring to
Silvia.' Proteus, looking upon the ring, saw that it was the one he gave
to Julia, in return for that which he received from her, and which he
had sent by the supposed page to Silvia. 'How is this?' said he, 'this is
Julia's ring: how came you by it, boy?' Julia answered: 'Julia herself
did give it me, and Julia herself hath brought it hither.'
Proteus, now looking earnestly upon her, plainly perceived that the
page Sebastian was no other than the lady Julia herself; and the proof
she had given of her constancy and true love so wrought in him, that
his love for her returned into his heart, and he took again his own dear
lady, and joyfully resigned all pretensions to the lady Silvia to
Valentine, who had so well deserved her.
Proteus and Valentine were expressing their happiness in their
reconciliation, and in the love of their faithful ladies when they were
surprised with the sight of the duke of Milan and Thurio, who came
there in pursuit of Silvia.
Thurio first approached, and attempted to seize Silvia, saying: 'Silvia
is mine.' Upon this Valentine said to him in a very spirited manner:
'Thurio, keep back: if once again you say that Silvia is yours, you shall
embrace your death. Here she stands, take but possession of her with a
torch! I dare you but to breathe upon my love.' Hearing this threat,
Thurio, who was a great coward, drew back, and said he cared not for
her, and that none but a fool would fight for a girl who loved him not.
The duke, who was a very brave man himself, said now in great anger:
The more base and degenerate in you to take such means for her as
you have done, and leave her on such slight conditions.' Then turning
to Valentine, he said: 'I do applaud your spirit Valentine, and think
you worthy of an empress's love. You shall have Silvia, for you have
well deserved her.' Valentine then with great humility kissed the
duke's hand, and accepted the noble present which he had made him
of his daughter with becoming thankfulness: taking occasion of this
joyful minute to entreat the good-humoured duke to pardon the
thieves with whom he had associated in the forest, assuring him, that
when reformed and restored to society, there would be found among
them many good, and ht for great employment; for the most of them
had been banished, like Valentine, for state offences, rather than for
any black crimes they had been guilty of. To this the ready duke
consented: and now nothing remained but that Proteus, the false
friend, was ordained, by way of penance for his love-prompted faults,
to be present at the recital of the whole story of his loves and
falsehoods before the duke; and the shame of the recital to his
awakened conscience was judged sufficient punishment: which being
done, the lovers, all four, returned back to Milan, and their nuptials
were solemnized in the presence of the duke, with high triumphs and
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
Shylock, the Jew, lived at Venice: he was an usurer, who had amassed
an immense fortune by lending money at great interest to Christian
merchants. Shylock, being a hard-hearted man, exacted the payment
of the money he lent with such severity that he was much disliked by
all good men, and particularly by Antonio, a young merchant of
Venice; and Shylock as much hated Antonio, because he used to lend
money to people in distress, and would never take any interest for the
money he lent; therefore there was great enmity between this covetous
Jew and the generous merchant Antonio. Whenever Antonio met
Shylock on the Rialto (or Exchange), he used to reproach him with his
usuries and hard dealings, which the Jew would bear with seeming
patience, while he secretly meditated revenge.
Antonio was the kindest man that lived, the best conditioned, and had
the most unwearied spirit in doing courtesies; indeed, he was one in
whom the ancient Roman honour more appeared than in any that drew
breath in Italy. He was greatly beloved by all his fellow-citizens; but
the friend who was nearest and dearest to his heart was Bassanio, a
noble Venetian, who, having but a small patrimony, had nearly
exhausted his little fortune by living in too expensive a manner for his
slender means, as young men of high rank with small fortunes are too
apt to do. Whenever Bassanio wanted money, Antonio assisted him;
and it seemed as if they had but one heart and one purse between
One day Bassanio came to Antonio, and told him that he wished to
repair his fortune by a wealthy marriage with a lady whom he dearly
loved, whose father, that was lately dead, had left her sole heiress to a
large estate; and that in her father's lifetime he used to visit at her
house, when he thought he had observed this lady had sometimes
from her eyes sent speechless messages, that seemed to say he would
be no unwelcome suitor; but not having money to furnish himself with
an appearance befitting the lover of so rich an heiress, he besought
Antonio to add to the many favours he had shown him, by lending him
three thousand ducats.
Antonio had no money by him at that time to lend his friend; but
expecting soon to have some ships come home laden with
merchandise, he said he would go to Shylock, the rich money-lender,
and borrow the money upon the credit of those ships.
Antonio and Bassanio went together to Shylock, and Antonio asked
the Jew to lend him three thousand ducats upon any interest he should
require, to be paid out of the merchandise contained in his ships at
sea. On this, Shylock thought within himself: 'If I can once catch him
on the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him; he hates our
Jewish nation; he lends out money gratis, and among merchants he
rails at me and my well-earned bargains, which he calls interest.
Cursed be my tribe if I forgive him!' Antonio finding he was musing
within himself and did not answer, and being impatient for the money,
said: 'Shylock, do you hear? will you lend the money?' To this
question the Jew replied: 'Signior Antonio, on the Rialto many a time
and often you have railed at me about my monies and my usuries, and
I have borne it with a patient shrug, for sufferance is the badge of all
our tribe; and then you have called me unbeliever, cut-throat dog, and
spit upon my Jewish garments, and spurned at me with your foot, as if
I was a cur. Well then, it now appears you need my help; and you
come to me, and say, Shylock, lend me monies. Has a dog money? Is
it possible a cur should lend three thousand ducats? Shall I bend low
and say, Fair sir, you spit upon me on Wednesday last, another time
you called me dog, and for these courtesies I am to lend you monies.'
Antonio replied: 'I am as like to call you so again, to spit on you again,
and spurn you too. If you will lend me this money, lend it not to me as
to a friend, but rather lend it to me as to an enemy, that, if I break, you
may with better face exact the penalty.' 'Why, look you,' said Shylock,
'how you storm! I would be friends with you, and have your love. I
will forget the shames you have put upon me. I will supply your
wants, and take no interest for my money.' This seemingly kind offer
greatly surprised Antonio; and then Shylock, still pretending kindness,
and that all he did was to gain Antonio's love, again said he would
lend him the three thousand ducats, and take no interest for his
money; only Antonio should go with him to a lawyer, and there sign
in merry sport a bond, that if he did not repay the money by a certain
day, he would forfeit a pound of flesh, to be cut off from any part of
his body that Shylock pleased.
'Content,' said Antonio: 'I will sign to this bond, and say there is much
kindness in the Jew.'
Bassanio said Antonio should not sign to such a bond for him; but still
Antonio insisted that he would sign it, for that before the day of
payment came, his ships would return laden with many times the
value of the money.
Shylock, hearing this debate, exclaimed: 'O, father Abraham, what
suspicious people these Christians are! Their own hard dealings teach
them to suspect the thoughts of others. I pray you tell me this,
Bassanio: if he should break this day, what should I gain by the
exaction of the forfeiture? A pound of man's flesh, taken from a man,
is not so estimable, nor profitable neither, as the flesh of mutton or
beef. I say, to buy his favour I offer this friendship: if he will take it,
so; if not, adieu.'
At last, against the advice of Bassanio, who, notwithstanding all the
Jew had said of his kind intentions, did not like his friend should run
the hazard of this shocking penalty for his sake, Antonio signed the
bond, thinking it really was (as the Jew said) merely in sport.
The rich heiress that Bassanio wished to marry lived near Venice, at a
place called Belmont: her name was Portia, and in the graces of her
person and her mind she was nothing inferior to that Portia, of whom
we read, who was Cato's daughter, and the wife of Brutus.
Bassanio being so kindly supplied with money by his friend Antonio,
at the hazard of his life, set out for Belmont with a splendid train, and
attended by a gentleman of the name of Gratiano.
Bassanio proving successful in his suit, Portia in a short time
consented to accept of him for a husband.
Bassanio confessed to Portia that he had no fortune, and that his high
birth and noble ancestry was all that he could boast of; she, who loved
him for his worthy qualities, and had riches enough not to regard
wealth in a husband, answered with a graceful modesty, that she
would wish herself a thousand times more fair, and ten thousand times
more rich, to be more worthy of him; and then the accomplished
Portia prettily dispraised herself, and said she was an unlessoned girl,
unschooled, unpractised, yet not so old but that she could learn, and
that she would commit her gentle spirit to be directed and governed
by him in all things; and she said: 'Myself and what is mine, to you
and yours is now converted. But yesterday, Bassanio, I was the lady of
this fair mansion, queen of myself, and mistress over these servants;
and now this house, these servants, and myself, are yours, my lord; I
give them with this ring'; presenting a ring to Bassanio.
Bassanio was so overpowered with gratitude and wonder at the
gracious manner in which the rich and noble Portia accepted of a man
of his humble fortunes, that he could not express his joy and reverence
to the dear lady who so honoured him, by anything but broken words
of love and thankfulness; and taking the ring, he vowed never to part
Gratiano and Nerissa, Portia's waiting-maid, were in attendance upon
their lord and lady, when Portia so gracefully promised to become the
obedient wife of Bassanio; and Gratiano, wishing Bassanio and the
generous lady joy, desired permission to be married at the same time.
'With all my heart, Gratiano,' said Bassanio, 'if you can get a wife.
Gratiano then said that he loved the lady Portia's fair waiting
gentlewoman Nerissa, and that she had promised to be his wife, if her
lady married Bassanio. Portia asked Nerissa if this was true. Nerissa
replied: 'Madam, it is so, if you approve of it.' Portia willingly
consenting, Bassanio pleasantly said: 'Then our wedding-feast shall be
much honoured by your marriage, Gratiano.'
The happiness of these lovers was sadly crossed at this moment by the
entrance of a messenger, who brought a letter from Antonio
containing fearful tidings. When Bassanio read Antonio's letter, Portia
feared it was to tell him of the death of some dear friend, he looked so
pale; and inquiring what was the news which had so distressed him,
he said: 'O sweet Portia, here are a few of the unpleasantest words that
ever blotted paper; gentle lady, when I first imparted my love to you, I
freely told you all the wealth I had ran in my veins; but I should have
told you that I had less than nothing, being in debt.' Bassanio then told
Portia what has been here related, of his borrowing the money of
Antonio, and of Antonio's procuring it of Shylock the Jew, and of the
bond by which Antonio had engaged to forfeit a pound of flesh, if it
was not repaid by a certain day: and then Bassanio read Antonio's
letter: the words of which were: 'Sweet Bassanio, my ships are all lost,
my bond to the Jew is forfeited, and since in paying it is impossible I
should live, I could wish to see you at my death; notwithstanding use
your pleasure; if your love for me do not persuade you to come, let not
my letter.' 'O, my dear love,' said Portia, 'despatch all business, and
begone; you shall have gold to pay the money twenty times over,
before this kind friend shall lose a hair by my Bassanio's fault; and as
you are so dearly bought, I will dearly love you.' Portia then said she
would be married to Bassanio before he set out, to give him a legal
right to her money; and that same day they were married, and
Gratiano was also married to Nerissa; and Bassanio and Gratiano, the
instant they were married, set out in great haste for Venice, where
Bassanio found Antonio in prison.
The day of payment being past, the cruel Jew would not accept of the
money which Bassanio offered him, but insisted upon having a pound
of Antonio's flesh. A day was appointed to try this shocking cause
before the duke of Venice, and Bassanio awaited in dreadful suspense
the event of the trial.
When Portia parted with her husband, she spoke cheeringly to him,
and bade him bring his dear friend along with him when he returned;
yet she feared it would go hard with Antonio, and when she was left
alone, she began to think and consider within herself, if she could by
any means be instrumental in saving the life of her dear Bassanio's
friend; and notwithstanding when she wished to honour her Bassanio,
she had said to him with such a meek and wifelike grace, that she
would submit in all things to be governed by his superior wisdom, yet
being now called forth into action by the peril of her honoured
husband's friend, she did nothing doubt her own powers, and by the
sole guidance of her own true and perfect judgment, at once resolved
to go herself to Venice, and speak in Antonio's defence.
Portia had a relation who was a counsellor in the law; to this
gentleman, whose name was Bellario, she wrote, and stating the case
to him, desired his opinion, and that with his advice he would also
send her the dress worn by a counsellor. When the messenger
returned, he brought letters from Bellario of advice how to proceed,
and also everything necessary for her equipment.
Portia dressed herself and her maid Nerissa in men's apparel, and
putting on the robes of a counsellor, she took Nerissa along with her
as her clerk; and setting out immediately, they arrived at Venice on
the very day of the trial. The cause was just going to be heard before
the duke and senators of Venice in the senate-house, when Portia
entered this high court of justice, and presented a letter from Bellario,
in which that learned counsellor wrote to the duke, saying, he would
have come himself to plead for Antonio, but that he was prevented by
sickness, and he requested that the learned young doctor Balthasar (so
he called Portia) might be permitted to plead in his stead. This the
duke granted, much wondering at the youthful appearance of the
stranger, who was prettily disguised by her counsellor's robes and her
And now began this important trial. Portia looked around her, and she
knew the merciless Jew; and she saw Bassanio, but he knew her not in
her disguise. He was standing beside Antonio, in an agony of distress
and fear for his friend.
The importance of the arduous task Portia had engaged in gave this
tender lady courage, and she boldly proceeded in the duty she had
undertaken to perform: and first of all she addressed herself to
Shylock; and allowing that he had a right by the Venetian law to have
the forfeit expressed in the bond, she spoke so sweetly of the noble
quality of merry, as would have softened any heart but the unfeeling
Shylock's; saying, that it dropped as the gentle rain from heaven upon
the place beneath; and how mercy was a double blessing, it blessed
him that gave, and him that received it, and how it became monarchs
better than their crowns, being an attribute of God Himself; and that
earthly power came nearest to God's, in proportion as mercy tempered
justice; and she bid Shylock remember that as we all pray for mercy,
that same prayer should teach us to show mercy. Shylock only
answered her by desiring to have the penalty forfeited in the bond. 'Is
he not able to pay the money?' asked Portia. Bassanio then offered the
Jew the payment of the three thousand ducats as many times over as
he should desire; which Shylock refusing, and still insisting upon
having a pound of Antonio's flesh, Bassanio begged the learned young
counsellor would endeavour to wrest the law a little, to save Antonio's
life. But Portia gravely answered, that laws once established must
never be altered. Shylock hearing Portia say that the law might not be
altered, it seemed to him that she was pleading in his favour, and he
said: 'A Daniel is come to judgment! O wise young judge, how I do
honour you! How much elder are you than your looks! '
Portia now desired Shylock to let her look at the bond; and when she
had read it, she said: 'This bond is forfeited, and by this the Jew may
lawfully claim a pound of flesh, to be by him cut off nearest Antonio's
heart.' Then she said to Shylock: 'Be merciful: take the money, and bid
me tear the bond.' But no mercy would the cruel Shylock show; and
he said: 'By my soul I swear, there is no power in the tongue of men to
alter me.' 'Why then, Antonio,' said Portia, 'you must prepare your
bosom for the knife': and while Shylock was sharpening a long knife
with great eagerness to cut off the pound of flesh, Portia said to
Antonio: 'Have you anything to say?' Antonio with a calm resignation
replied, that he had but little to say, for that he had prepared his mind
for death. Then he said to Bassanio: 'Give me your hand, Bassanio!
Fare you well! Grieve not that I am fallen into this misfortune for you.
Commend me to your honourable wife, and tell her how I have loved
you!' Bassanio in the deepest affliction replied: 'Antonio, I am married
to a wife, who is as dear to me as life itself; but life itself, my wife,
and all the world, are not esteemed with me above your life; I would
lose all, I would sacrifice all to this devil here, to deliver you.'
Portia hearing this, though the kind-hearted lady was not at all
offended with her husband for expressing the love he owed to so true
a friend as Antonio in these strong terms, yet could not help
answering: 'Your wife would give you little thanks, if she were
present, to hear you make this offer.' And then Gratiano, who loved to
copy what his lord did, thought he must make a speech like
Bassanio's, and he said, in Nerissa's hearing, who was writing in her
clerk's dress by the side of Portia: 'I have a wife, whom I protest I
love; I wish she were in heaven, if she could but entreat some power
there to change the cruel temper of this currish Jew.' 'It is well you
wish this behind her back, else you would have but an unquiet house,'
Shylock now cried out impatiently: 'We trifle time; I pray pronounce
the sentence.' And now all was awful expectation in the court, and
every heart was full of grief for Antonio.
Portia asked if the scales were ready to weigh the flesh; and she said
to the Jew: 'Shylock, you must have some surgeon by, lest he bleed to
death.' Shylock, whose whole intent was that Antonio should bleed to
death, said: 'It is not so named in the bond.' Portia replied: 'It is not so
named in the bond, but what of that? It were good you did so much for
charity.' To this all the answer Shylock would make was: 'I cannot find
it; it is not in the bond.' 'Then,' said Portia, 'a pound of Antonio's flesh
is shine. The law allows it, and the court awards it. And you may cut
this flesh from off his breast. The law allows it and the court awards
it.' Again Shylock exclaimed: 'O wise and upright judge! A Daniel is
come to judgment! ' And then he sharpened his long knife again, and
looking eagerly on Antonio, he said: 'Come, prepare! '
'Tarry a little, Jew,' said Portia; 'there is something else. This bond
here gives you no drop of blood; the words expressly are ' a pound of
flesh.' If in the cutting off the pound of flesh you shed one drop of
Christian blood, your lands and goods are by the law to be confiscated
to the state of Venice.' Now as it was utterly impossible for Shylock to
cut off the pound of flesh without shedding some of Antonio's blood,
this wise discovery of Portia's, that it was flesh and not blood that was
named in the bond, saved the life of Antonio; and all admiring the
wonderful sagacity of the young counsellor, who had so happily
thought of this expedient, plaudits resounded from every part of the
senate-house; and Gratiano exclaimed, in the words which Shylock
had used: 'O wise and upright judge! mark, Jew, a Daniel is come to
Shylock, finding himself defeated in his cruel intent, said with a
disappointed look, that he would take the money; and Bassanio,
rejoiced beyond measure at Antonio's unexpected deliverance, cried
out: 'Here is the money!' But Portia stopped him, saying: 'Softly; there
is no haste; the Jew shall have nothing but the penalty: therefore
prepare, Shylock, to cut off the flesh; but mind you shed no blood: nor
do not cut off more nor less than just a pound; be it more or less by
one poor scruple, nay if the scale turn but by the weight of a single
hair, you are condemned by the laws of Venice to die, and all your
wealth is forfeited to the senate.' 'Give me my money, and let me go,'
said Shylock. 'I have it ready,' said Bassanio: 'here it is.'
Shylock was going to take the money, when Portia again stopped him,
saying: 'Tarry, Jew; I have yet another hold upon you. By the laws of
Venice, your wealth is forfeited to the state, for having conspired
against the life of one of its citizens, and your life lies at the mercy of
the duke; therefore, down on your knees, and ask him to pardon you.'
The duke then said to Shylock: 'That you may see the difference of
our Christian spirit, I pardon you your life before you ask it; half your
wealth belongs to Antonio, the other half comes to the state.'
The generous Antonio then said that he would give up his share of
Shylock's wealth, if Shylock would sign a deed to make it over at his
death to his daughter and her husband; for Antonio knew that the Jew
had an only daughter who had lately married against his consent to a
young Christian, named Lorenzo, a friend of Antonio's, which had so
offended Shylock, that he had disinherited her.
The Jew agreed to this: and being thus disappointed in his revenge,
and despoiled of his riches, he said: 'I am ill. Let me go home; send
the deed after me, and I will sign over half my riches to my daughter.'
'Get thee gone, then,' said the Duke, 'and sign it; and if you repent your
cruelty and turn Christian, the state will forgive you the fine of the
other half of your riches.'
The duke now released Antonio, and dismissed the court. He then
highly praised the wisdom and ingenuity of the young counsellor, and
invited him home to dinner. Portia, who meant to return to Belmont
before her husband, replied: 'I humbly thank your grace, but I must
away directly.' The duke said he was sorry he had not leisure to stay
and dine with him; and turning to Antonio, he added: 'Reward this
gentleman; for in my mind you are much indebted to him.'
The duke and his senators left the court; and then Bassanio said to
Portia: 'Most worthy gentleman, I and my friend Antonio have by your
wisdom been this day acquitted of grievous penalties, and I beg you
will accept of the three thousand ducats due unto the Jew.' 'And we
shall stand indebted to you over and above,' said Antonio, 'in love and
Portia could not be prevailed upon to accept the money; but upon
Bassanio still pressing her to accept of some reward, she said: 'Give
me your gloves; I will wear them for your sake'; and then Bassanio
taking off his gloves, she espied the ring which she had given him
upon his finger: now it was the ring the wily lady wanted to get from
him to make a merry jest when she saw her Bassanio again, that made
her ask him for his gloves; and she said, when she saw the ring, 'and
for your love I will take this ring from you.' Bassanio was sadly
distressed that the counsellor should ask him for the only thing he
could not part with, and he replied in great confusion, that he could
not give him that ring, because it was his wife's gift, and he had
vowed never to part with it; but that he would give him the most
valuable ring in Venice, and find it out by proclamation. On this
Portia affected to be affronted, and left the court, saying: 'You teach
me, sir, how a beggar should be answered.'
'Dear Bassanio,' said Antonio, 'let him have the ring; let my love and
the great service he has done for me be valued against your wife's
displeasure,' Bassanio, ashamed to appear so ungrateful, yielded, and
sent Gratiano after Portia with the ring; and then the clerk Nerissa,
who had also given Gratiano a ring, she begged his ring, and Gratiano
(not choosing to be outdone in generosity by his lord) gave it to her.
And there was laughing among these ladies to think, when they got
home, how they would tax their husbands with giving away their
rings, and swear that they had given them as a present to some
Portia, when she returned, was in that happy temper of mind which
never fails to attend the consciousness of having performed a good
action; her cheerful spirits enjoyed everything she saw: the moon
never seemed to shine so bright before; and when that pleasant moon
was hid behind a cloud, then a light which she saw from her house at
Belmont as well pleased her charmed fancy, and she said to Nerissa:
'That light we see is burning in my hall; how far that little candle
throws its beams, so shines a good deed in a naughty world'; and
hearing the sound of music from her house, she said: 'Methinks that
music sounds much sweeter than by day.'
And now Portia and Nerissa entered the house, and dressing
themselves in their own apparel, they awaited the arrival of their
husbands, who soon followed them with Antonio; and Bassanio
presenting his dear friend to the lady Portia, the congratulations and
welcomings of that lady were hardly over, when they perceived
Nerissa and her husband quarrelling in a corner of the room. 'A
quarrel already?' said Portia. 'What is the matter?' Gratiano replied:
'Lady, it is about a paltry gilt ring that Nerissa gave me, with words
upon it like the poetry on a cutler's knife; Love me, and leave me not.'
'What does the poetry or the value of the ring signify?' said Nerissa.
'You swore to me when I gave it to you, that you would keep it till the
hour of death; and now you say you gave it to the lawyer's clerk. I
know you gave it to a woman.' 'By this hand,' replied Gratiano, 'I gave
it to a youth, a kind of boy, a little scrubbed boy, no higher than
yourself; he was clerk to the young counsellor that by his wise
pleading saved Antonio's life: this prating boy begged it for a fee, and
I could not for my life deny him.' Portia said: 'You were to blame,
Gratiano, to part with your wife's first gift. I gave my lord Bassanio a
ring, and I am sure he would not part with it for all the world.'
Gratiano, in excuse for his fault, now said: 'My lord Bassanio gave his
ring away to the counsellor, and then the boy, his clerk, that took
some pains in writing, he begged my ring.'
Portia, hearing this, seemed very angry, and reproached Bassanio for
giving away her ring; and she said, Nerissa had taught her what to
believe, and that she knew some woman had the ring. Bassanio was
very unhappy to have so offended his dear lady, and he said with great
earnestness: 'No, by my honour, no woman had it, but a civil doctor,
who refused three thousand ducats of me, and begged the ring, which
when I denied him, he went displeased away. What could I do, sweet
Portia? I was so beset with shame for my seeming ingratitude, that I
was forced to send the ring after him. Pardon me, good lady; had you
been there, I think you would have begged the ring of me to give the
'Ah!' said Antonio, 'I am the unhappy cause of these quarrels.'
Portia bid Antonio not to grieve at that, for that he was welcome
notwithstanding; and then Antonio said: 'I once did lend my body for
Bassanio's sake; and but for him to whom your husband gave the ring,
I should have now been dead. I dare be bound again, my soul upon the
forfeit, your lord will never more break his faith with you.' 'Then you
shall be his surety,' said Portia; 'give him this ring, and bid him keep it
better than the other.'
When Bassanio looked at this ring, he was strangely surprised to find
it was the same he gave away; and then Portia told him how she was
the young counsellor, and Nerissa was her clerk; and Bassanio found,
to his unspeakable wonder and delight, that it was by the noble
courage and wisdom of his wife that Antonio's life was saved.
And Portia again welcomed Antonio, and gave him letters which by
some chance had fallen into her hands, which contained an account of
Antonio's ships, that were supposed lost, being safely arrived in the
harbour. So these tragical beginnings of this rich merchant's story
were all forgotten in the unexpected good fortune which ensued; and
there was leisure to laugh at the comical adventure of the rings, and
the husbands that did not know their own wives Gratiano merrily
swearing, in a sort of rhyming speech, that
. . . while he lived, he'd fear no other thing
So sore, as keeping safe Nerissa's ring.
During the time of Augustus Caesar, emperor of Rome, there reigned
n England (which was then called Britain) a king whose name was
Cymbeline's first wife died when his three children (two sons and a
daughter) were very young. Imogen, the eldest of these children, was
brought up in her father's court; but by a strange chance the two sons
of Cymbeline were stolen out of their nursery, when the eldest was
but three years of age, and the youngest quite an infant; and
Cymbeline could never discover what was become of them, or by
whom they were conveyed away.
Cymbeline was twice married: his second wife was a wicked, plotting
woman, and a cruel stepmother to Imogen, Cymbeline's daughter by
his first wife.
The queen, though she hated Imogen, yet wished her to marry a son of
her own by a former husband (she also having been twice married):
for by this means she hoped upon the death of Cymbeline to place the
crown of Britain upon the head of her son Cloten; for she knew that, if
the king's sons were not found, the princess Imogen must be the king's
heir. But this design was prevented by Imogen herself, who married
without the consent or even knowledge of her father or the queen.
Posthumus (for that was the name of Imogen's husband) was the best
scholar and most accomplished gentleman of that age. His father died
fighting in the wars for Cymbeline, and soon after his birth his mother
died also for grief at the loss of her husband.
Cymbeline, pitying the helpless state of this orphan, took Posthumus
(Cymbeline having given him that name, because he was born after
his father's death), and educated him in his own court.
Imogen and Posthumus were both taught by the same masters, and
were playfellows from their infancy; they loved each other tenderly
when they were children, and their affection continuing to increase
with their years, when they grew up they privately married.
The disappointed queen soon learnt this secret, for she kept spies
constantly in watch upon the actions of her daughter-in-law, and she
immediately told the king of the marriage of Imogen with Posthumus.
Nothing could exceed the wrath of Cymbeline, when he heard that his
daughter had been so forgetful of her high dignity as to marry a
He commanded Posthumus to leave Britain, and banished him from
native country for ever.
The queen, who pretended to pity Imogen for the grief she suffered at
losing her husband, offered to procure them a private meeting before
Posthumus set out on his journey to Rome, which place he had chosen
for his residence in his banishment: this seeming kindness she
the better to succeed in her future designs in regard to her son Cloten;
for she meant to persuade Imogen, when her husband was gone, that
marriage was not lawful, being contracted without the consent of the
Imogen and Posthumus took a most affectionate leave of each other.
Imogen gave her husband a diamond ring, which had been her
mother's, and Posthumus promised never to part with the ring; and he
fastened a bracelet on the arm of his wife, which he begged she would
preserve with great care, as a token of his love; they then bid each
other farewell, with many vows of everlasting love and fidelity.
Imogen remained a solitary and dejected lady in her father's court, and
Posthumus arrived at Rome, the place he had chosen for his
Posthumus fell into company at Rome with some gay young men of
different nations, who were talking freely of ladies: each one praising
the ladies of his own country, and his own mistress. Posthumus, who
had ever his own dear lady in his mind, affirmed that his wife, the fair
Imogen, was the most virtuous, wise, and constant lady in the world.
One of those gentlemen, whose name was Iachimo, being offended
that a lady of Britain should be so praised above the Roman ladies, his
country-women, provoked Posthumus by seeming to doubt the
constancy of his so highly-praised wife; and at length, after much
altercation, Posthumus consented to a proposal of Iachimo's, that he
(Iachimo) should go to Britain, and endeavour to gain the love of the
married Imogen. They then laid a wager, that if Iachimo did not
succeed in this wicked design, he was to forfeit a large sum of money;
but if he could win Imogen's favour, and prevail upon her to give him
the bracelet which Posthumus had so earnestly desired she would
keep as a token of his love, then the wager was to terminate with
Posthumus giving to Iachimo the ring, which was Imogen's love
present when she parted with her husband. Such firm faith had
Posthumus in the fidelity of Imogen, that he thought he ran no hazard
in this trial of her honour.
Iachimo, on his arrival in Britain, gained admittance, and a courteous
welcome from Imogen, as a friend of her husband; but when he began
to make professions of love to her, she repulsed him with disdain, and
he soon found that he could have no hope of succeeding in his
The desire Iachimo had to win the wager made him now have
recourse to a stratagem to impose upon Posthumus, and for this
purpose he bribed some of Imogen's attendants, and was by them
conveyed into her bedchamber, concealed in a large trunk, where he
remained shut up till Imogen was retired to rest, and had fallen asleep;
and then getting out of the trunk, he examined the chamber with great
attention, and wrote down everything he saw there, and particularly
noticed a mole which he observed upon Imogen's neck, and then
softly unloosing the bracelet from her arm, which Posthumus had
given to her, he retired into the chest again; and the next day he set off
for Rome with great expedition, and boasted to Posthumus that
Imogen had given him the bracelet, and likewise permitted him to
pass a night in her chamber: and in this manner Iachimo told his false
tale: 'Her bedchamber,' said he, 'was hung with tapestry of silk and
silver, the story was the proud Cleopatra when she met her Anthony, a
piece of work most bravely wrought.'
'This is true,' said Posthumus; 'but this you might have heard spoken of
'Then the chimney,' said Iachimo, 'is south of the chamber, and the
chimney-piece is Diana bathing; never saw I figures livelier
'This is a thing you might have likewise heard,' said Posthumus, 'for it
is much talked of.'
Iachimo as accurately described the roof of the chamber; and added: 'I
had almost forgot her andirons; they were two winking Cupids made
of silver, each on one foot standing.' He then took out the bracelet,
and said: 'Know you this jewel, sir? She gave me this. She took it from
her arm. I see her yet; her pretty action did outsell her gift, and yet
enriched it too. She gave it me, and said, she prized it once.' He last of
all described the mole he had observed upon her neck.
Posthumus, who had heard the whole of this artful recital in an agony
of doubt, now broke out into the most passionate exclamations against
Imogen. He delivered up the diamond ring to Iachimo, which he had
agreed to forfeit to him, if he obtained the bracelet from Imogen.
Posthumus then in a jealous rage wrote to Pisanio, a gentleman of
Britain, who was one of Imogen's attendants, and had long been a
faithful friend to Posthumus; and after telling him what proof he had
of his wife's disloyalty, he desired Pisanio would take Imogen to
Milford-Haven, a seaport of Wales, and there kill her. And at the same
time he wrote a deceitful letter to Imogen desiring her to go with
Pisanio, for that finding he could live no longer without seeing her,
though he was forbidden upon pain of death to return to Britain, he
would come to Milford-Haven, at which place he begged she would
meet him. She, good unsuspecting lady, who loved her husband above
all things, and desired more than her life to see him, hastened her
departure with Pisanio, and the same night she received the letter she
When their journey was nearly at an end, Pisanio, who, though
faithful to Posthumus, was not faithful to serve him in an evil deed,
disclosed to Imogen the cruel order he had received.
Imogen, who, instead of meeting a loving and beloved husband, found
herself doomed by that husband to suffer death, was afflicted beyond
Pisanio persuaded her to take comfort, and wait with patient fortitude
for the time when Posthumus should see and repent his injustice: in
the meantime, as she refused in her distress to return to her father's
court, he advised her to dress herself in boy's clothes for more security
in travelling; to which device she agreed, and thought in that disguise
she would go over to Rome, and see her husband, whom, though he
had used her so barbarously, she could not forget to love.
When Pisanio had provided her with her new apparel, he left her to
her uncertain fortune, being obliged to return to court; but before he
departed he gave her a phial of cordial, which he said the queen had
given him as a sovereign remedy in all disorders.
The queen, who hated Pisanio because he was a friend to Imogen and
Posthumus, gave him this phial, which she supposed contained
poison, she having ordered her physician to give her some poison, to
try its effects (as she said) upon animals; but the physician, knowing
her malicious disposition, would not trust her with real poison, but
gave her a drug which would do no other mischief than causing a
person to sleep with every appearance of death for a few hours. This
mixture, which Pisanio thought a choice cordial, he gave to Imogen,
desiring her, if she found herself ill upon the road, to take it; and so,
with blessings and prayers for her safety and happy deliverance from
her undeserved troubles, he left her.
Providence strangely directed Imogen's steps to the dwelling of her
two brothers, who had been stolen away in their infancy. 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 someone 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
eat. '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
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 Arviragus.
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
'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 name?'
'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 offence.'
'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 sings!'
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 travelling 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 demeanour of the youth Fidele.
Imogen was no sooner left alone then 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
Bellarius also proposed to carry her out into the forest, and there
celebrate her funeral with songs and solemn dirges, as was then the
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 blue-bell, 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 corset'
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
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 velour, 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 injured.
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 velour 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
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 velour 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 them.
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 death?' '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 he 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 dignity,
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 nurse-like. 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
favour 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
Iachimo then made a full acknowledgment of all his villany, telling, as
has been before related, the whole story of his wager with Posthumus,
and how he had succeeded in imposing upon his credulity.
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-
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 defence, 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 punishment.
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 deserve.
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 ht of fatherly
fondness bestowed upon her and her husband one-third of his ample
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 profession, but rather declared that what
her sister had spoken came short of the love which she professed to
bear for his highness; insomuch 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 favoured 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 favourite
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 honour 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 hand 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 as
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 drawn 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
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 gay
painted 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 honoured 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 counsellor 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, honour
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
The honest freedom of this good earl of Kent only stirred up the king's