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Tales of Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb

Part 3 out of 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus poorly accompanied, this once great monarch was found by his
ever-faithful servant the good earl of Kent, now transformed to Caius,
who ever followed close at his side, though the king did not know him
to be the earl; and he said: 'Alas! sir, are you here? creatures that love
night, love not such nights as these. This dreadful storm has driven the
beasts to their hiding places. Man's nature cannot endure the affliction
or the fear.' And Lear rebuked him and said, these lesser evils were
not felt, where a greater malady was taxed. When the mind is at ease,
the body has leisure to be delicate, but the temper in his mind did take
all feeling else from his senses, but of that which beat at his heart.
And he spoke of filial ingratitude, and said it was all one as if the
mouth should tear the hand for lifting food to it; for parents were
hands and food and everything to children.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Turning to Banquo, he said: 'Do you not hope that your children shall
be kings, when what the witches promised to me has so wonderfully
come to pass?' 'That hope,' answered the general, 'might enkindle you
to aim at the throne; but oftentimes these ministers of darkness tell us
truths in little things, to betray us into deeds of greatest consequence.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting rid of this fear, he entered the king's room, whom he
despatched with one stroke of his dagger. Just as he had done the
murder, one of the grooms, who slept in the chamber, laughed in his
sleep, and the other cried: 'Murder,' which woke them both, but they
said a short prayer; one of them said: 'God bless us!' and the other
answered 'Amen'; and addressed themselves to sleep again. Macbeth,
who stood listening to them, tried to say 'Amen,' when the fellow said
'God bless us!' but, though he had most need of a blessing, the word
stuck in his throat, and he could not pronounce it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was demanded of Macbeth, whether he would have his doubts
resolved by them, or by their masters, the spirits. He, nothing daunted
by the dreadful ceremonies which he saw, boldly answered: 'Where
are they? let me see them.' And they called the spirits, which were
three. And the first arose in the likeness of an armed head, and he
called Macbeth by name, and bid him beware of the thane of Fife; for
which caution Macbeth thanked him; for Macbeth had entertained a
jealousy of Macduff, the thane of Fife.

And the second spirit arose in the likeness of a bloody child, and he
called Macbeth by name, and bid him have no fear, but laugh to scorn
the power of man, for none of woman born should have power to hurt
him; and he advised him to be bloody, bold, and resolute. 'Then live,
Macduff! cried the king; 'what need I fear of thee? but yet I will make
assurance doubly sure. Thou shalt not live; that I may tell pale-hearted
Fear it lies, and sleep in spite of thunder.'

That spirit being dismissed, a third arose in the form of a child
crowned, with a tree in his hand. He called Macbeth by name, and
comforted him against conspiracies, saying, that he should never be
vanquished, until the wood of Birnam to Dunsinane Hill should come
against him. 'Sweet bodements! good !' cried Macbeth; 'who can unfix
the forest, and move it from its earth-bound roots? I see I shall live the
usual period of man's life, and not be cut off by a violent death. But
my heart throbs to know one thing. Tell me, if your art can tell so
much, if Banquo's issue shall ever reign in this kingdom?' Here the
cauldron sank into the ground, and a noise of music was heard, and
eight shadows, like kings, passed by Macbeth, and Banquo last, who
bore a glass which showed the figures of many more, and Banquo all
bloody smiled upon Macbeth, and pointed to them; by which Macbeth
knew that these were the posterity of Banquo, who should reign after
him in Scotland; and the witches, with a sound of soft music, and with
dancing, making a show of duty and welcome to Macbeth, vanished.
And from this time the thoughts of Macbeth were all bloody and

The first thing he heard when he got out of the witches' cave, was that
Macduff, thane of Fife, had fled to England, to join the army which
was forming against him under Malcolm, the eldest son of the late
king, with intent to displace Macbeth, and set Malcolm, the right heir,
upon the throne. Macbeth, stung with rage, set upon the castle of
Macduff, and put his wife and children, whom the thane had left
behind, to the sword, and extended the slaughter to all who claimed
the least relationship to Macduff.

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

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

He grew careless of life, and wished for death, but the near approach
of Malcolm's army roused in him what remained of his ancient
courage, and he determined to die (as he expressed it) 'with armour on
his back.' Besides this, the hollow promises of the witches had filled
him with a false confidence, and he remembered the sayings of the
spirits, that none of woman born was to hurt him, and that he was
never to be vanquished till Birnam wood should come to Dunsinane,
which he thought could never be. So he shut himself up in his castle,
whose impregnable strength was such as defied a siege: here he
sullenly waited the approach of Malcolm. When, upon a day, there
came a messenger to him, pale and shaking with fear, almost unable
to report that which he had seen; for he averred, that as he stood upon
his watch on the hill, he looked towards Birnam, and to his thinking
the wood began to move! 'Liar and slave!' cried Macbeth: 'if thou
speakest false, thou shalt hang alive upon the next tree, till famine end
thee. If thy tale be true, I care not if thou cost as much by me': for
Macbeth now began to faint in resolution, and to doubt the equivocal
speeches of the spirits. He was not to fear till Birnam wood should
come to Dunsinane; and now a wood did move! 'However,' said he, 'if
this which he avouches be true, let us arm and out. There is no flying
hence, nor staying here. I begin to be weary of the sun, and wish my
life at an end.' With these desperate speeches he sallied forth upon the
besiegers, who had now come up to the castle.

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

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

Then Macbeth remembered the words of the spirit, how none of
woman born should hurt him; and smiling confidently he said to
Macduff: 'Thou losest thy labour, Macduff. As easily thou mayest
impress the air with thy sword, as make me vulnerable. I bear a
charmed life, which must not yield to one of woman born.'

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

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

'Then live!' said the scornful Macduff; 'we will have a show of thee, as
men show monsters, and a painted board, on which shall be written:
'Here men may see the tyrant! ''

'Never,' said Macbeth, whose courage returned with despair; 'I will not
live to kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet, and to be baited
with the curses of the rabble. Though Birnam wood be come to
Dunsinane, and thou opposed to me, who west never born of woman,
yet will I try the last.' With these frantic words he threw himself upon
Macduff, who, after a severe struggle, in the end overcame him, and
cutting off his head, made a present of it to the young and lawful king,
Malcolm; who took upon him the government which, by the
machinations of the usurper, he had so long been deprived of, and
ascended the throne of Duncan the Meek, amid the acclamations of
the nobles and the people.


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

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

Bertram now bade his mother farewell. The countess parted with this
dear son with tears and many blessings, and commended him to the
care of Lafeu, saying: 'Good my lord, advise him, for he is an
unseasoned courtier.'

Bertram's last words were spoken to Helena, but they were words of
mere civility, wishing her happiness; and he concluded his short
farewell to her with saying: 'Be comfortable to my mother, your
mistress, and make much of her.'

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

Helena had long loved Bertram, yet she always remembered that he
was the count of Rousillon, descended from the most ancient family
in France. She of humble birth. Her parents of no note at all. His
ancestors all noble. And therefore she looked up to the high-born
Bertram as to her master and to her dear lord, and dared not form any
wish but to live his servant, and so living to die his vassal. So great the
distance seemed to her between his height of dignity and her lowly
fortunes, that she would day: 'It were all one that I should love a bright
particular star, and think to wed it, Bertram is so far above me.'

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

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

Bertram had not been long gone, when the countess was informed by
her steward, that he had overheard Helena talking to herself, and that
he understood from some words she uttered, she was in love with
Bertram, and thought of following him to Paris. The countess
dismissed the steward with thanks, and desired him to tell Helena she
wished to speak with her. What she had just heard of Helena brought
the remembrance of days long past into the mind of the countess;
those days probably when her love for Bertram's father first began;
and she said to herself: 'Even so it was with me when I was young.
Love is a thorn that belongs to the rose of youth; for in the season of
youth, if ever we are nature's children, these faults are ours, though
then we think not they are faults.' While the countess was thus
meditating on the loving errors of her own youth, Helena entered, and
she said to her: 'Helena, you know I am a mother to you.' Helena
replied: 'You are my honourable mistress.' 'You are my daughter,' said
the countess again: 'I say I am your mother. Why do you start and look
pale at my words?' With looks of alarm and confused thoughts, fearing
the countess suspected her love, Helena still replied: 'Pardon me,
madam, you are not my mother; the count Rousillon cannot be my
brother, nor I your daughter.' 'Yet, Helena,' said the countess, 'you
might be my daughter-in-law; and I am afraid that is what you mean
to be, the words mother and daughter so disturb you. Helena, do you
love my son?' 'Good madam, pardon me,' said the affrighted Helena.
Again the countess repeated her question. 'Do you love my son?' 'Do
not you love him, madam?' said Helena. The countess replied: 'Give
me not this evasive answer, Helena. Come, come, disclose the state of
your affections, for your love has to the full appeared.' Helena on her
knees now owned her love, and with shame and terror implored the
pardon of her noble mistress; and with words expressive of the sense
she had of the inequality between their fortunes, she protested
Bertram did not know she loved him, comparing her humble
unaspiring love to a poor Indian, who adores the sun that looks upon
his worshipper, but knows of him no more. The countess asked
Helena if she had not lately an intent to go to Paris? Helena owned the
design she had formed in her mind, when she heard Lafeu speak of the
king's illness. 'This was your motive for wishing to go to Paris,' said
the countess, 'was it? Speak truly.' Helena honestly answered: 'My lord
your son made me to think of this; else Paris, and the medicine, and
the king, had from the conversation of my thoughts been absent then.'
The countess heard the whole of this confession without saying a
word either of approval or of blame, but she strictly questioned
Helena as to the probability of the medicine being useful to the king.
She found that it was the most prized by Gerard de Narbon of all he
possessed, and that he had given it to his daughter on his deathbed;
and remembering the solemn promise she had made at that awful hour
in regard to this young maid, whose destiny, and the life of the king
himself, seemed to depend on the execution of a project (which
though conceived by the fond, suggestions of a loving maiden's
thoughts, the countess knew not but it might be the unseen workings
of Providence to bring to pass the recovery of the king, and to lay the
foundation of the future fortunes of Gerard de Narbon's daughter),
free leave she gave to Helena to pursue her own way, and generously
furnished her with ample means and suitable attendants; and Helena
set out for Paris with the blessings of the countess, and her kindest
wishes for her success.

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

Helena did not deceive herself in the hope she conceived of the
efficacy of her father's medicine. Before two days were at an end, the
king was restored to perfect health, and he assembled all the young
noblemen -of his court together, in order to confer the promised
reward of a husband upon his fair physician; and he desired Helena to
look round on this youthful parcel of noble bachelors, and choose her
husband. Helena was not slow to make her choice, for among these
young lords she saw the count Rousillon, and turning to Bertram, she
said: 'This is the man. I dare not say, my lord, I take you, but I give me
and my service ever whilst I live into your guiding power.' 'Why, then,'
said the king 'young Bertram, take her; she is your wife.' Bertram did
not hesitate to declare his dislike to this present of the king's of the
self-offered Helena, who, he said, was a poor physician's daughter,
bred at his father's charge, and now living a dependent on his mother's
bounty. Helena heard him speak these words of rejection and of scorn,
and she said to the king: 'That you are well, my lord, I am glad. Let the
rest go.' But the king would not suffer his royal command to be so
slighted; for the power of bestowing their nobles in marriage was one
of the many privileges of the kings of France; and that same day
Bertram was married to Helena, a forced and uneasy marriage to
Bertram, and of no promising hope to the poor lady, who, though she
gained the noble husband she had hazarded her life to obtain, seemed
to have won but a splendid blank, her husband's love not being a gift
in the power of the king of France to bestow.

Helena was no sooner married than she was desired by Bertram to
apply to the king for him for leave of absence from court; and when
she brought him the king's permission for his departure, Bertram told
her that he was not prepared for this sudden marriage, it had much
unsettled him, and therefore she must not wonder at the course he
should pursue. If Helena wondered not, she grieved when she found it
was his intention to leave her. He ordered her to go home to his
mother. When Helena heard this unkind command, she replied: 'Sir, I
can nothing say to this, but that I am your most obedient servant, and
shall ever with true observance seek to eke out that desert, wherein
my homely stars have failed to equal my great fortunes.' But this
humble speech of Helena's did not at all move the haughty Bertram to
pity his gentle wife, and he parted from her without even the common
civility of a kind farewell.

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

The good countess received her with a cordial welcome, as if she had
been her son's own choice, and a lady of a high degree, and she spoke
kind words to comfort her for the unkind neglect of Bertram in
sending his wife home on her bridal day alone. But this gracious
reception failed to cheer the sad mind of Helena, and she said:
'Madam my lord is gone, for ever gone.' She then read these words out
of Bertram's letter: When you can get the ring from my finger, which
never shall come of, then call me husband, but in such a Then I write
a Never. 'This is a dreadful sentence! ' said Helena. The countess
begged her to have patience, and said, now Bertram was gone, she
should be her child, and that she deserved a lord that twenty such rude
boys as Bertram might tend upon, and hourly call her mistress. But in
vain by respectful condescension and kind flattery this matchless
mother tried to soothe the sorrows of her daughter in-law.

Helena still kept her eyes fixed upon the letter, and cried out in an
agony of grief: Till I have no wife, I have nothing in France. The
countess asked her if she found those words in the letter? 'Yes,
madam,' was all poor Helena could answer.

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

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

Florence was a city through which the pilgrims used to pass on their
way to St. Jaques le Grand; and when Helena arrived at this city, she
heard that a hospitable widow dwelt there, who used to receive into
her house the female pilgrims that were going to visit the shrine of
that saint, giving them lodging and kind entertainment. To this good
lady, therefore, Helena went, and the widow gave her a courteous
welcome, and invited her to see whatever was curious in that famous
city, and told her that if she would like to see the duke's army, she
would take her where she might have a full view of it. 'And you will
see a countryman of yours,' said the widow; 'his name is count
Rousillon, who has done worthy service in the duke's wars.' Helena
wanted no second invitation, when she found Bertram was to make
part of the show. She accompanied her hostess; and a sad and
mournful pleasure it was to her to look once more upon her dear
husband's face. 'Is he not a handsome man?' said the widow. 'I like
him well,' replied Helena, with great truth. All the way they walked,
the talkative widow's discourse was all of Bertram: she told Helena
the story of Bertram's marriage, and how he had deserted the poor
lady his wife, and entered into the duke's army to avoid living with
her. To this account of her own misfortunes Helena patiently listened,
and when it was ended, the history of Bertram was not yet done, for
then the widow began another tale, every word of which sank deep
into the mind of Helena; for the story she now told was of Bertram's
love for her daughter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The king was still in perfect health, and his gratitude to her who had
been the means of his recovery was so lively in his mind, that the
moment he saw the countess of Rousillon, he began to talk of Helena,
calling her a precious jewel that was lost by the folly of her son; but
seeing; the subject distressed the countess, who sincerely lamented the
death of Helena, he said: 'My good lady, I have forgiven and forgotten
all.' But the good-natured old Lafeu, who was present, and could not
bear that the memory of his favourite Helena should be so lightly
passed over, said: 'This I must say, the young lord did great offence to
his majesty, his mother, and his lady; but to himself he did the greatest
wrong of all, for he has lost a wife whose beauty astonished all eyes,
whose words took all ears captive, whose deep perfection made all
hearts wish to serve her.' The king said: 'Praising what is lost makes
the remembrance dear. Well call him hither'; meaning Bertram, who
now presented himself before the king: and, on his expressing deep
sorrow for the injuries he had done to Helena, the king, for his dead
father's and his admirable mother's sake, pardoned him and restored
him once more to his favour. But the gracious countenance of the king
was soon changed towards him, for he perceived that Bertram wore
the very ring upon his finger which he had given to Helena: and he
well remembered that Helena had called all the saints in heaven to
witness she would never part with that ring, unless she sent it to the
king himself upon some great disaster befalling her; and Bertram, on
the king's questioning him how he came by the ring, told an
improbable story of a lady throwing it to him out of a window, and
denied ever having seen Helena since the day of their marriage. The
king, knowing Bertram's dislike to his wife, feared he had destroyed
her: and he ordered his guards to seize Bertram, saying: 'I am wrapt in
dismal thinking, for I fear the life of Helena was foully snatched.' At
this moment Diana and her mother entered, and presented a petition to
the king, wherein they begged his majesty to exert his royal power to
compel Bertram to marry Diana, he having made her a solemn
promise of marriage. Bertram, fearing the king's anger, denied he had
made any such promise; and then Diana produced the ring (which
Helena had put into her hands) to confirm the truth of her words; and
she said that she had given Bertram the ring he then wore, in exchange
for that, at the time he vowed to marry her. On hearing this, the king
ordered the guards to seize her also; and her account of the ring
differing from Bertram's, the king's suspicions were confirmed: and he
said, if they did not confess how they came by this ring of Helena's,
they should be both put to death. Diana requested her mother might be
permitted to fetch the jeweller of whom she bought the ring, which
being granted, the widow went out, and presently returned leading in
Helena herself.

The good countess, who in silent grief had beheld her son's danger,
and had even dreaded that the suspicion of his having destroyed his
wife might possibly be true, finding her dear Helena, whom she loved
with even a maternal affection, was still living, felt a delight she was
hardly able to support; and the king, scarce believing for joy that it
was Helena, said: 'Is this indeed the wife of Bertram that I see?'
Helena, feeling herself yet an unacknowledged wife, replied: 'No, my
good lord, it is but the shadow of a wife you see, the name and not the
thing.' Bertram cried out: 'Both, both! O pardon!' 'O my lord,' said
Helena, 'when I personated this fair maid, I found you wondrous kind;
and look, here is your letter!' reading to him in a joyful tone those
words which she had once repeated so sorrowfully: When from my
finger you can get this ring--' This is done; it was to me you gave the
ring. Will you be mine, now you are doubly won?' Bertram replied: 'If
you can make it plain that you were the lady I talked with that night, I
will love you dearly ever, ever dearly.' This was no difficult task, for
the widow and Diana came with Helena to prove this fact; and the
king was so well pleased with Diana, for the friendly assistance she
had rendered the dear lady he so truly valued for the service she had
done him, that he promised her also a noble husband: Helena's history
giving him a hint, that it was a suitable reward for kings to bestow
upon fair ladies when they perform notable services.

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


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

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

A courting then Petruchio went to Katharine the Shrew; and first of all
he applied to Baptista her father, for leave to woo his gentle daughter
Katharine, as Petruchio called her, saying archly, that having heard of
her bashful modesty and mild behaviour, he had come from Verona to
solicit her love. Her father, though he wished her married, was forced
to confess Katharine would ill answer this character, it being soon
apparent of what manner of gentleness she was composed, for her
music-master rushed into the room to complain that the gentle
Katharine, his pupil, had broken his head with her lute, for presuming
to find fault with her performance; which, when Petruchio heard, he
said: 'It is a brave wench; I love her more than ever, and long to have
some chat with her'; and hurrying the old gentleman for a positive
answer, he said: 'My business is in haste, signior Baptista, I cannot
come every day to woo. You knew my father: he is dead, and has left
me heir to all his lands and goods. Then tell me, if I get your
daughter's love, what dowry you will give with her.' Baptista thought
his manner was somewhat blunt for a lover; but being glad to get
Katharine married, he answered that he would give her twenty
thousand crowns for her dowry, and half his estate at his death: so this
odd match was quickly agreed on, and Baptista went to apprise his
shrewish daughter of her lover's addresses, and sent her in to
Petruchio to listen to his suit.

In the meantime Petruchio was settling with himself the mode of
courtship he should pursue; and he said: 'I will woo her with some
spirit when she comes. If she rails at me, why then I will tell her she
sings as sweetly as a nightingale; and if she frowns. I will say she
looks as clear as roses newly washed with dew. If she will not speak a
word, I will praise the eloquence of her language; and if she bids me
leave her. I will give her thanks as if she bid me stay with her a week.'
Now the stately Katharine entered, and Petruchio first addressed her
with 'Good morrow, Kate, for that is your name, I hear.' Katharine, not
liking this plain salutation, said disdainfully: 'They call me Katharine
who do speak to me.' 'You lie,' replied the lover; 'for you are called
plain Kate, and bonny Kate, and sometimes Kate the Shrew: but, Kate,
you are the prettiest Kate in Christendom, and therefore, Kate, hearing
your mildness praised in every town, I am come to woo you for my

A strange courtship they made of it. She in loud and angry terms
showing him how justly she had gained the name of Shrew, while he
still praised her sweet and courteous words, till at length, hearing her
father coming, he said (intending to make as quick a wooing as
possible): 'Sweet Katharine, let us set this idle chat aside, for your
father has consented that you shall be my wife, your dowry is agreed
on, and whether you will or no, I will marry you.'

And now Baptista entering, Petruchio told him his daughter had
received him kindly, and that she had promised to be married the next
Sunday. This Katharine denied, saying she would rather see him
hanged on Sunday, and reproached her father for wishing to wed her
to such a mad-cap ruffian as Petruchio. Petruchio desired her father
not to regard her angry words, for they had agreed she should seem
reluctant before him, but that when they were alone he had found her
very fond and loving; and he said to her: 'Give me your hand, Kate; I
will go to Venice to buy you fine apparel against our wedding day.
Provide the feast, father, and bid the wedding guests. I will be sure to
bring rings, fine array, and rich clothes, that my Katharine may be
fine; and kiss me, Kate, for we will be married on Sunday.'

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

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

Baptista had provided a sumptuous marriage feast, but when they
returned from church, Petruchio, taking hold of Katharine, declared
his intention of carrying his wife home instantly: and no remonstrance
of his father-in-law, or angry words of the enraged Katharine, could
make him change his purpose. He claimed a husband's right to dispose
of his wife as he pleased, and away he hurried Katharine off: he
seeming so daring and resolute that no one dared attempt to stop him.

Petruchio mounted his wife upon a miserable horse, lean and lank,
which he had picked out for the purpose, and himself and his servant
no better mounted; they journeyed on through rough and miry ways,
and ever when this horse of Katharine's stumbled, he would storm and
swear at the poor jaded beast, who could scarce crawl under his
burthen, as if he had been the most passionate man alive.

At length, after a weary journey, during which Katharine had heard
nothing but the wild ravings of Petruchio at the servant and the horses,
they arrived at his house. Petruchio welcomed her kindly to her home,
but he resolved she should have neither rest nor food that night. The
tables were spread, and supper soon served; but Petruchio, pretending
to find fault with every dish, threw the meat about the floor, and
ordered the servants to remove it away; and all this he did, as he said,
in love for his Katharine, that she might not eat meat that was not well
dressed. And when Katharine, weary and supperless, retired to rest, he
found the same fault with the bed, throwing the pillows and
bedclothes about the room, so that she was forced to sit down in a
chair, where if she chanced to drop asleep, she was presently
awakened by the loud voice of her husband, storming at the servants
for the ill-making of his wife's bridal-bed.

The next day Petruchio pursued the same course, still speaking kind
words to Katharine, but when she attempted to eat, finding fault with
everything that was set before her throwing the breakfast on the floor
as he had done the supper; and Katharine, the haughty Katherine, was
fain to beg the servants would bring her secretly a morsel of food; but
they being instructed by Petruchio, replied, they dared not give her
anything unknown to their master. 'Ah,' said she, 'did he marry me to
famish me? Beggars that come to my father's door have food given
them. But I, who never knew what it was to entreat for anything, am
starved for want of food, giddy for want of sleep, with oaths kept
waking, and with brawling fed; and that which vexes me more than
all, he does it under the name of perfect love, pretending that if I sleep
or eat, it were present death to me.' Here the soliloquy was interrupted
by the entrance of Petruchio: he, not meaning she should be quite
starved, had brought her a small portion of meat, and he said to her:
'How fares my sweet Kate? Here, love, you see how diligent I am, I
have dressed your meat myself. I am sure this kindness merits thanks.
What, not a word? Nay, then you love not the meat, and all the pains I
have taken is to no purpose.' He then ordered the servant to take the
dish away. Extreme hunger, which had abated the pride of Katharine,
made her say, though angered to the heart: 'I pray you let it stand.' But
this was not all Petruchio intended to bring her to, and he replied: 'The
poorest service is repaid with thanks, and so shall mine before you
touch the meat.' On this Katharine brought out a reluctant 'I thank you,
sir.' And now he suffered her to make a slender meal, saying: 'Much
good may it do your gentle heart, Kate; eat apace! And now, my honey
love, we will return to your father's house, and revel it as bravely as
the best, with silken coats and caps and golden rings, with ruffs and
scares and fans and double change of finery'; and to make her believe
he really intended to give her these gay things, he called in a tailor and
a haberdasher, who brought some new clothes he had ordered for her,
and then giving her plate to the servant to take away, before she had
half satisfied her hunger, he said: 'What, have you dined?' The
haberdasher presented a cap, saying: 'Here is the cap your worship
bespoke'; on which Petruchio began to storm afresh, saying the cap
was moulded in a porringer, and that it was no bigger than a cockle or
walnut shell, desiring the haberdasher to take it away and make it
bigger. Katharine said: 'I will have this; all gentlewomen wear such
caps as these.' 'When you are gentle,' replied Petruchio, 'you shall have
one too, and not till then.' The meat Katharine had eaten had a little
revived her fallen spirits, and she said: 'Why, sir, I trust I may have
leave to speak, and speak I will: I am no child, no babe; your betters
have endured to hear me say my mind; and if you cannot, you had
better stop your ears.' Petruchio would not hear these angry words, for
he had happily discovered a better way of managing his wife than
keeping up a jangling argument with her; therefore his answer was:
'Why, you say true; it is a paltry cap, and I love you for not liking it.'
'Love me, or love me not,' said Katharine, 'I like the cap, and I will
have this cap or none.' 'You say you wish to see the gown,' said
Petruchio, still affecting to misunderstand her. The tailor then came
forward and showed her a fine gown he had made for her. Petruchio,
whose intent was that she should have neither cap nor gown, found as
much fault with that. 'O mercy, Heaven!' said he, 'what stuff is here!
What, do you call this a sleeve? it is like a demi-cannon, carved up
and down like an apple tart.' The tailor said: 'You bid me make it
according to the fashion of the times'; and Katharine said, she never
saw a better fashioned gown. This was enough for Petruchio, and
privately desiring these people might be paid for their goods, and
excuses made to them for the seemingly strange treatment he
bestowed upon them, he with fierce words and furious gestures drove
the tailor and the haberdasher out of the room; and then, turning to
Katharine, he said: 'Well, come, my Kate, we will go to your father's
even in these mean garments we now wear.' And then he ordered his
horses, affirming they should reach Baptista's house by dinner-time,
for that it was but seven o'clock. Now it was not early morning but the
very middle of the day, when he spoke this, therefore Katharine
ventured to say, though modestly, being almost overcome by the
vehemence of his manner: 'I dare assure you, sir, it is two o'clock. and
will be supper-time before we get there.' But Petruchio meant that she
should be so completely subdued, that she should assent to everything
he said, before he carried her to her father; and therefore, as if he were
lord even of the sun, and could command the hours, he said it should
be what time he pleased to have it, before he set forward; 'For,' he
said, 'whatever I say or do, you still are crossing it. I will not go to-
day, and when I go, it shall be what o'clock I say it is.' Another day
Katherine was forced to practice her newly found obedience, and not
till he had brought her proud spirit to such a perfect subjection, that
she dared not remember there was such a word as contradiction,
would Petruchio allow her to go to her father's house; and even while
they were upon their journey thither, she was in danger of being
turned back again, only because she happened to hint it was the sun,
when he affirmed the moon shone brightly at noonday. 'Now, by my
mother's son,' said he, 'and that is myself, it shall be the moon, or stars,
or what I list, before I journey to your father's house.' He then made as
if he were going back again; but Katherine, no longer Katherine the
Shrew, but the obedient wife, said: 'Let us go forward, I pray, now we
have come so far, and it shall be the sun, or moon, or what you please,
and if you please to call it a rush candle henceforth, I vowed it shall
be so for me.' This he was resolved to prove, therefore he said again: 'I
say, it is the moon.' 'I know it is the moon,' replied Katherine. 'You lie,
it is the blessed sun,' said Petruchio. 'Then it is the blessed sun,'
replied Katherine; 'but sun it is not, when you say it is not. What you
will have it named, even so it is, and so it ever shall be for Katherine.'
Now then he suffered her to proceed on her journey; but further to try
if this yielding humour would last, he addressed an old gentleman
they met on the road as if he had been a young woman, saying to him:
'Good morrow, gentle mistress'; and asked Katherine if she had ever
beheld a fairer gentlewoman, praising the red and white of the old
man's cheeks, and comparing his eyes to two bright stars; and again he
addressed him, saying: 'Fair lovely maid, once more good day to you!'
and said to his wife: 'Sweet Kate, embrace her for her beauty's sake.'
The now completely vanquished Katharine quickly adopted her
husband's opinion, and made her speech in like sort to the old
gentleman, saying to him: 'Young budding virgin, you are fair, and
fresh, and sweet: whither are you going, and where is your dwelling?
Happy are the parents of so fair a child.' 'Why, how now, Kate,' said
Petruchio; 'I hope you are not mad. This is a man, old and wrinkled,
faded and withered, and not a maiden, as you say he is.' On this
Katharine said: 'Pardon me, old gentleman; the sun has so dazzled my
eyes, that everything I look on seemeth green. Now I perceive you are
a reverend father: I hope you will pardon me for my sad mistake.' 'Do,
good old grand-sire,' said Petruchio, 'and tell us which way you are
travelling. We shall be glad of your good company, if you are going
our way.' The old gentleman replied: ' Fair sir, and you my merry
mistress, your strange encounter has much amazed me. My name is
Vincentio, and I am going to visit a son of mine who lives at Padua.'
Then Petruchio knew the old gentleman to e the father of Lucentio, a
young gentleman who was to be married to Baptista's younger
daughter, Bianca, and he made Vincentio very happy, by telling him
the rich marriage his son was about to make: and they all journeyed on
pleasantly together till they came to Baptista's house, where there was
a large company assembled to celebrate the wedding of Bianca and
Lucentio, Baptista having willingly consented to the marriage of
Bianca when he had got Katharine off his hands.

When they entered, Baptista welcomed them to the wedding feast, and
there was present also another newly married pair.

Lucentio, Bianca's husband, and Hortensio, the other new married
man, could not forbear sly jests, which seemed to hint at the shrewish
disposition of Petruchio's wife, and these fond bridegrooms seemed
high pleased with the mild tempers of the ladies they had chosen,
laughing at Petruchio for his less fortunate choice. Petruchio took
little notice of their jokes till the ladies were retired after dinner, and
then he perceived Baptista himself joined in the laugh against him: for
when Petruchio affirmed that his wife would prove more obedient
than theirs, the father of Katharine said: 'Now, in good sadness, son
Petruchio, I fear you have got the veriest shrew of all.' 'Well,' said
Petruchio, 'I say no, and therefore for assurance that I speak the truth,
let us each one send for his wife, and he whose wife is most obedient
to come at first when she is sent for, shall win a wager which we will
propose.' To this the other two husbands willingly consented, for they
were quite confident that their gentle wives would prove more
obedient than the headstrong Katharine; and they proposed a wager of
twenty crowns, but Petruchio merrily said, he would lay as much as
that upon his hawk or hound, but twenty times as much upon his wife.
Lucentio and Hortensio raised the wager to a hundred crowns, and
Lucentio first sent his servant to desire Bianca would come to him.
But the servant returned, and said: 'Sir, my mistress sends you word
she is busy and cannot come.' 'How,' said Petruchio, 'does she say she
is busy and cannot come? Is that an answer for a wife?' Then they
laughed at him, and said, it would be well if Katharine did not send
him a worse answer. And now it was Hortensio's turn to send for his
wife; and he said to his servant: 'Go, and entreat my wife to come to
me.' 'Oh ho! entreat her!' said Petruchio. 'Nay, then, she needs must
come.' 'I am afraid, sir,' said Hortensio, 'your wife will not be
entreated.' But presently this civil husband looked a little blank, when
the servant returned without his mistress; and he said to him: 'How
now! Where is my wife?' 'Sir,' said the servant, 'my mistress says, you
have some goodly jest in hand, and therefore she will not come. She
bids you come to her.' 'Worse and worse!' said Petruchio; and then he
sent his servant, saying: 'Sirrah, go to your mistress, and tell her I
command her to come to me.' The company had scarcely time to think
she would not obey this summons, when Baptista, all in amaze,
exclaimed: 'Now, by my holidame, here comes Katharine!' and she
entered, saying meekly to Petruchio: 'What is your will, sir, that you
send for me?' 'Where is your sister and Hortensio's wife?' said he.
Katharine replied: 'They sit conferring by the parlour fire.' 'Go, fetch
them hither!' said Petruchio. Away went Katharine without reply to
perform her husband's command. 'Here is a wonder,' said Lucentio, 'if
you talk of a wonder.' 'And so it is,' said Hortensio; 'I marvel what it
bodes.' 'Marry, peace it bodes,' said Petruchio, 'and love, and quiet life,
and right supremacy; and, to be short, everything that is sweet and
happy.' Katharine's father, overjoyed to see this reformation in his
daughter, said: 'Now, fair befall thee, son Petruchio! you have won the
wager, and I will add another twenty thousand crowns to her dowry,
as if she were another daughter, for she is changed as if she had never
been,' 'Nay,' said Petruchio, 'I will win the wager better yet, and show
more signs of her new-built virtue and obedience.' Katharine now
entering with the two ladies, he continued: 'See where she comes, and
brings your froward wives as prisoners to her womanly persuasion.
Katharine, that cap of yours does not become you; off with that
bauble, and throw it under foot.' Katharine instantly took off her cap,
and threw it down. 'Lord!' said Hortensio's wife, 'may I never have a
cause to sigh till I am brought to such a silly pass!' And Bianca, she
too said: 'Fie, what foolish duty call you this?' On this Bianca's
husband said to her: 'I wish your duty were as foolish too! The wisdom
of your duty, fair Bianca, has cost me a hundred crowns since dinner-
time.' 'The more fool you,' said Bianca, 'for laying on my duty.'
'Katharine,' said Petruchio, 'I charge you tell these headstrong women
what duty they owe their lords and husbands.' And to the wonder of all
present, the reformed shrewish lady spoke as eloquently in praise of
the wifelike duty of obedience, as she had practiced it implicitly in a
ready submission to Petruchio's will. And Katharine once more
became famous in Padua, not as heretofore, as Katharine the Shrew,
but as Katharine the most obedient and duteous wife in Padua.


The states of Syracuse and Ephesus being at variance, there was a
cruel law made at Ephesus, ordaining that if any merchant of Syracuse
was seen in the city of Ephesus, he was to be put to death, unless he
could pay a thousand marks for the ransom of his life.

Aegeon, an old merchant of Syracuse, was discovered in the streets of
Ephesus, and brought before the duke, either to pay this heavy fine, or
to receive sentence of death.

Aegeon had no money to pay the fine, and the duke, before he
pronounced the sentence of death upon him, desired him to relate the
history of his life, and to tell for what cause he had ventured to come
to the city of Ephesus, which it was death for any Syracusan merchant
to enter.

Aegeon said, that he did not fear to die, for sorrow had made him
weary of his life, but that a heavier task could not have been imposed
upon him than to relate the events of his unfortunate life. He then
began his own history, in the following words:

'I was born at Syracuse, and brought up to the profession of a
merchant. I married a lady, with whom I lived very happily, but being
obliged to go to Epidamnum, I was detained there by my business six
months, and then, finding I should be obliged to stay some time
longer, I sent for my wife, who, as soon as she arrived, was brought to
bed of two sons, and what was very strange, they were both so exactly
alike, that it was impossible to distinguish the one from the other. At
the same time that my wife was brought to bed of these twin boys, a
poor woman in the inn where my wife lodged was brought to bed of
two sons, and these twins were as much like each other as my two
sons were. The parents of these children being exceeding poor, I
bought the two boys, and brought them up to attend upon my sons.

'My sons were very fine children, and my wife was not a little proud
of two such boys: and she daily wishing to return home, I unwillingly
agreed, and in an evil hour we got on shipboard; for we had not sailed
above a league from Epidamnum before a dreadful storm arose, which
continued with such violence, that the sailors seeing no chance of
saving the ship, crowded into the boat to save their own lives, leaving
us alone in the ship, which we every moment expected would be
destroyed by the fury of the storm.

'The incessant weeping of my wife, and the piteous complaints of the
pretty babes, who, not knowing what to fear, wept for fashion,
because they saw their mother weep, filled me with terror for them,
though I did not for myself fear death; and all my thoughts were bent
to contrive means for their safety. I tied my youngest son to the end of
a small spare mast, such as seafaring men provide against storms; at
the other end I bound the youngest of the twin slaves, and at the same
time I directed my wife how to fasten the other children in like
manner to another mast. She thus having the care of the two eldest
children, and I of the two younger, we bound ourselves separately to
these masts with the children; and but for this contrivance we had all
been lost, for the ship split on a mighty rock, and was dashed in
pieces; and we, clinging to these slender masts, were supported above
the water, where I, having the care of two children, was unable to
assist my wife, who with the other children was soon separated from
me; but while they were yet in my sight, they were taken up by a boat
of fishermen, from Corinth (as I supposed), and seeing them in safety,
I had no care but to struggle with the wild sea-waves, to preserve my
dear son and the youngest slave. At length we, in our turn, were taken
up by a ship, and the sailors, knowing me, gave us kind welcome and
assistance, and landed us in safety at Syracuse; but from that sad hour
I have never known what became of my wife and eldest child.

'My youngest son, and now my only care, when he was eighteen years
of age, began to be inquisitive after his mother and his brother, and
often importuned me that he might take his attendant, the young slave,
who had also lost his brother, and go in search of them: at length I
unwillingly gave consent, for though I anxiously desired to hear
tidings of my wife and eldest son, yet in sending my younger one to
find them, I hazarded the loss of them also. It is now seven years since
my son left me; five years have I passed in travelling through the
world in search of him: I have been in farthest Greece, and through
the bounds of Asia, and coasting homewards, I landed here in
Ephesus, being unwilling to leave any place unsought that harbours
men; but this day must end the story of my life, and happy should I
think myself in my death, if I were assured my wife and sons were

Here the hapless Aegeon ended the account of his misfortunes; and
the duke, pitying this unfortunate father, who had brought upon
himself this great peril by his love for his lost son, said, if it were not
against the laws, which his oath and dignity did not permit him to
alter, he would freely pardon him; yet, instead of dooming him to
instant death, as the strict letter of the law required, he would give
him that day to try if he could beg or borrow the money to pay the

This day of grace did seem no great favour to Aegeon, for not
knowing any man in Ephesus, there seemed to him but little chance
that any stranger would lend or give him a thousand marks to pay the
fine; and helpless and hopeless of any relief, he retired from the
presence of the duke in the custody of a jailor.

Aegeon supposed he knew no person in Ephesus; but at the very time
he was in danger of losing his life through the careful search he was
making after his youngest son, that son and his eldest son also were
both in the city of Ephesus.

Aegeon's sons, besides being exactly alike in face and person, were
both named alike, being both called Antipholus, and the two twin
slaves were also both named Dromio. Aegeon's youngest son,
Antipholus of Syracuse, he whom the old man had come to Ephesus
to seek, happened to arrive at Ephesus with his slave Dromio that very
same day that Aegeon did; and he being also a merchant of Syracuse,
he would have been in the same danger that his father was, but by
good fortune he met a friend who told him the peril an old merchant
of Syracuse was in, and advised him to pass for a merchant of
Epidamnum; this Antipholus agreed to do, and he was sorry to hear
one of his own countrymen was in this danger, but he little thought
this old merchant was his own father.

The eldest son of Aegeon (who must be called Antipholus of Ephesus,
to distinguish him from his brother Antipholus of Syracuse) had lived
at Ephesus twenty years, and, being a rich man, was well able to have
paid the money for the ransom of his father's life; but Antipholus
knew nothing of his father, being so young when he was taken out of
the sea with his mother by the fishermen that he only remembered he
had been so preserved, but he had no recollection of either his father
or his mother; the fishermen who took up this Antipholus and his
mother and the young slave Dromio, having carried the two children
away from her (to the great grief of that unhappy lady), intending to
sell them.

Antipholus and Dromio were sold by them to duke Menaphon, a
famous warrior, who was uncle to the duke of Ephesus, and he carried
the boys to Ephesus when he went to visit the duke his nephew.

The duke of Ephesus taking a liking to young Antipholus, when he
grew up, made him an officer in his army, in which he distinguished
himself by his great bravery in the wars, where he saved the life of his
patron the duke, who rewarded his merit by marrying him to Adriana,
a rich lady of Ephesus; with whom he was living (his slave Dromio
still attending him) at the time his father came there.

Antipholus of Syracuse, when he parted with his friend, who advised
him to say he came from Epidamnum, gave his slave Dromio some
money to carry to the inn where he intended to dine, and in the mean
time he said he would walk about and view the city, and observe the
manners of the people.

Dromio was a pleasant fellow, and when Antipholus was dull and
melancholy he used to divert himself with the odd humours and merry
jests of his slave, so that the freedoms of speech he allowed in Dromio
were greater than is usual between masters and their servants.

When Antipholus of Syracuse had sent Dromio away, he stood awhile
thinking over his solitary wanderings in search of his mother and his
brother, of whom in no place where he landed could he hear the least
tidings; and he said sorrowfully to himself: 'I am like a drop of water
in the ocean, which seeking to find its fellow drop, loses itself in the
wide sea. So I unhappily, to find a mother and a brother, do lose

While he was thus meditating on his weary travels, which had hitherto
been so useless, Dromio (as he thought) returned. Antipholus,
wondering that he came back so soon, asked him where he had left the
money. Now it was not his own Dromio, but the twin-brother that
lived with Antipholus of Ephesus, that he spoke to. The two Dromios
and the two Antipholuses were still as much alike as Aegeon had said
they were in their infancy; therefore no wonder Antipholus thought it
was his own slave returned, and asked him why he came back so soon.
Dromio replied: 'My mistress sent me to bid you come to dinner. The
capon burns, and the pig falls from the spit, and the meat will be all
cold if you do not come home.' 'These jests are out of season,' said
Antipholus: 'where did you leave the money?' Dromio still answering,
that his mistress had sent him to fetch Antipholus to dinner: 'What
mistress?' said Antipholus. 'Why, your worship's wife, sir,' replied
Dromio. Antipholus having no wife, he was very angry with Dromio,
and said: 'Because I familiarly sometimes chat with you, you presume
to jest with me in this free manner. I am not in a sportive humour
now: where is the money? we being strangers here, how dare you trust
so great a charge from your own custody?' Dromio hearing his master,
as he thought him, talk of their being strangers, supposing Antipholus
was jesting, replied merrily: 'I pray you, sir, jest as you sit at dinner. I
had no charge but to fetch you home, to dine with my mistress and her
sister.' Now Antipholus lost all patience, and beat Dromio, who ran
home, and told his mistress that his master had refused to come to
dinner, and said that he had no wife.

Adriana, the wife of Antipholus of Ephesus, was very angry when she
heard that her husband said he had no wife; for she was of a jealous
temper, and she said her husband meant that he loved another lady
better than herself; and she began to fret, and say unkind words of
jealousy and reproach of her husband; and her sister Luciana, who
lived with her, tried in vain to persuade her out of her groundless

Antipholus of Syracuse went to the inn, and found Dromio with the
money in safety there, and seeing his own Dromio, he was going again
to chide him for his free jests, when Adriana came up to him, and not
doubting but it was her husband she saw, she began to reproach him
for looking strange upon her (as well he might, never having seen this
angry lady before); and then she told him how well he loved her
before they were married, and that now he loved some other lady
instead of her. 'How comes it now, my husband,' said she, 'O how
comes it that I have lost your love?' 'Plead you to me, fair dame?' said
the astonished Antipholus. It was in vain he told her he was not her
husband, and that he had been in Ephesus but two hours; she insisted
on his going home with her, and Antipholus as last, being unable to
get away, went with her to his brother's house, and dined with Adriana
and her sister, the one calling him husband, and the other brother, he,
all amazed, thinking he must have been married to her in his sleep, or
that he was sleeping now. And Dromio, who followed them, was no
less surprised, for the cook-maid, who was his brother's wife, also
claimed him for her husband.

While Antipholus of Syracuse was dining with his brother's wife, his
brother, the real husband, returned home to dinner with his slave
Dromio; but the servants would not open the door, because their
mistress had ordered them not to admit any company; and when they
repeatedly knocked, and said they were Antipholus and Dromio, the
maids laughed at them, and said that Antipholus was at dinner with
their mistress, and Dromio was in the kitchen; and though they almost
knocked the door down, they could not gain admittance, and at last
Antipholus went away very angry, and strangely surprised at hearing a
gentleman was dining with his wife.

When Antipholus of Syracuse had finished his dinner, he was so
perplexed at the lady's still persisting in calling him husband, and at
hearing that Dromio had also been claimed by the cook-maid, that he
left the house, as soon as he could find any presence to get away; for
though he was very much pleased with Luciana, the sister, yet the
jealous-tempered Adriana he disliked very much, nor was Dromio at
all better satisfied with his fair wife in the kitchen; therefore both
master and man were glad to get away from their new wives as fast as
they could.

The moment Antipholus of Syracuse had left the house, he was met by
a goldsmith, who mistaking him, as Adriana had done, for Antipholus
of Ephesus, gave him a gold chain, calling him by his name; and when
Antipholus would have refused the chain, saying it did not belong to
him, the goldsmith replied he made it by his own orders; and went
away, leaving the chain in the hands of Antipholus, who ordered his
man Dromio to get his things on board a ship, not choosing to stay in
a place any longer, where he met with such strange adventures that he
surely thought himself bewitched.

The goldsmith who had given the chain to the wrong Antipholus, was
arrested immediately after for a sum of money he owed; and
Antipholus, the married brother, to whom the goldsmith thought he
had given the chain, happened to come to the place where the officer
was arresting the goldsmith, who, when he saw Antipholus, asked him
to pay for the gold chain he had just delivered to him, the price
amounting to nearly the same sum as that for which he had been
arrested. Antipholus denying the having received the chain, and the
goldsmith persisting to declare that he had but a few minutes before
given it to him, they disputed this matter a long time, both thinking
they were right: for Antipholus knew the goldsmith never gave him
the chain, and so like were the two brothers, the goldsmith was as
certain he had delivered the chain into his hands, till at last the officer
took the goldsmith away to prison for the debt he owed, and at the
same time the goldsmith made the officer arrest Antipholus for the
price of the chain; so that at the conclusion of their dispute,
Antipholus and the merchant were both taken away to prison together.

As Antipholus was going to prison, he met Dromio of Syracuse, his
brother's slave, and mistaking him for his own, he ordered him to go
to Adriana his wife, and tell her to send the money for which he was
arrested. Dromio wondering that his master should send him back to
the strange house where he dined, and from which he had just before
been in such haste to depart, did not dare to reply, though he came to
tell his master the ship was ready to sail: for he saw Antipholus was in
no humour to be jested with. Therefore he went away, grumbling
within himself, that he must return to Adriana's house, 'Where,' said
he, 'Dowsabel claims me for a husband: but I must go, for servants
must obey their masters' commands.'

Adriana gave him the money, and as Dromio was returning, he met
Antipholus of Syracuse, who was still in amaze at the surprising
adventures he met with; for his brother being well known in Ephesus,
there was hardly a man he met in the streets but saluted him as an old
acquaintance: some offered him money which they said was owing to
him, some invited him to come and see them, and some gave thanks
for kindnesses they said he had done them, all mistaking him for his
brother. A tailor showed him some silks he had bought for him, and
insisted upon taking measure of him for some clothes.

Antipholus began to think he was among a nation of sorcerers and
witches, and Dromio did not at all relieve his master from his
bewildered thoughts, by asking him how he got free from the officer
who was carrying him to prison, and giving him the purse of gold
which Adriana had sent to pay the debt with. This talk of Dromio's of
the arrest and of a prison, and of the money he had brought from
Adriana, perfectly confounded Antipholus, and he said: 'This fellow
Dromio is certainly distracted, and we wander here in illusions'; and
quite terrified at his own confused thoughts, he cried out: 'Some
blessed power deliver us from this strange place!'

And now another stranger came up to him, and she was a lady, and
she too called him Antipholus, and told him he had dined with her
that day, and asked him for a gold chain which she said he had
promised to give her. Antipholus now lost all patience, and calling her
a sorceress, he denied that he had ever promised her a chain, or dined
with her, or had ever seen her face before that moment. The lady
persisted in affirming he had dined with her, and had promised her a
chain, which Antipholus still denying, she further said, that she had
given him a valuable ring, and if he would not give her the gold chain,
she insisted upon having her own ring again. On this Antipholus
became quite frantic, and again calling her sorceress and witch, and
denying all knowledge of her or her ring, ran away from her, leaving
her astonished at his words and his wild looks, for nothing to her
appeared more certain than that he had dined with her, and that she
had given him a ring, in consequence of his promising to make her a
present of a gold chain. But this lady had fallen into the same mistake
the others had done, for she had taken him for his brother: the married
Antipholus had done all the things she taxed this Antipholus with.

When the married Antipholus was denied entrance into his own house
(those within supposing him to be already there), he had gone away
very angry, believing it to be one of his wife's jealous freaks, to which
she was very subject, and remembering that she had often falsely
accused him of visiting other ladies, he, to be revenged on her for
shutting him out of his own house, determined to go and dine with
this lady, and she receiving him with great civility, and his wife
having so highly offended him, Antipholus promised to give her a
gold chain, which he had intended as a present for his wife; it was the
same chain which the goldsmith by mistake had given to his brother.
The lady liked so well the thoughts of having a fine gold chain, that
she gave the married Antipholus a ring; which when, as she supposed
(taking his brother for him), he denied, and said he did not know her,
and left her in such a wild passion, she began to think he was certainly
out of his senses; and presently she resolved to go and tell Adriana
that her husband was mad. And while she was telling it to Adriana, he
came, attended by the jailor (who allowed him to come home to get
the money to pay the debt), for the purse of money, which Adriana
had sent by Dromio, and he had delivered to the other Antipholus.

Adriana believed the story the lady told her of her husband's madness
must be true, when he reproached her for shutting him out of his own
house; and remembering how he had protested all dinner-time that he
was not her husband, and had never been in Ephesus till that day, she
had no doubt that he was mad; she therefore paid the jailor the money,
and having discharged him, she ordered her servants to bind her
husband with ropes, and had him conveyed into a dark room, and sent
for a doctor to come and cure him of his madness: Antipholus all the
while hotly exclaiming against this false accusation, which the exact
likeness he bore to his brother had brought upon him. But his rage
only the more confirmed them in the belief that he was mad; and
Dromio persisting in the same story, they bound him also, and took
him away along with his master.

Soon after Adriana had put her husband into confinement, a servant
came to tell her that Antipholus and Dromio must have broken loose
from their keepers, for that they were both walking at liberty in the
next street. On hearing this, Adriana ran out to fetch him home, taking
some people with her to secure her husband again; and her sister went
along with her. When they came to the gates of a convent in their
neighbourhood, there they saw Antipholus and Dromio, as they
thought being again deceived by the likeness of the twin-brothers.

Antipholus of Syracuse was still beset with the perplexities this
likeness had brought upon him. The chain which the goldsmith had
given him was about his neck, and the goldsmith was reproaching him
for denying that he had it, and refusing to pay for it, and Antipholus
was protesting that the goldsmith freely gave him the chain in the
morning, and that from that hour he had never seen the goldsmith

And now Adriana came up to him and claimed him as her lunatic
husband, who had escaped from his keepers; and the men she brought
with her were going to lay violent hands on Antipholus and Dromio;
but they ran into the convent, and Antipholus begged the abbess to
give him shelter in her house.

And now came out the lady abbess herself to inquire into the cause of
this disturbance. She was a grave and venerable lady, and wise to
judge of what she saw, and she would not too hastily give up the man
who had sought protection in her house; so she strictly questioned the
wife about the story she told of her husband's madness, and she said:
'What is the cause of this sudden distemper of your husband's? Has he
lost his wealth at sea? Or is it the death of some dear friend that has
disturbed his mind?' Adriana replied, that no such things as these had
been the cause. 'Perhaps,' said the abbess, 'he has fixed his affections
on some other lady than you his wife; and that has driven him to this
state.' Adriana said she had long thought the love of some other lady
was the cause of his frequent absences from home. Now it was not his
love for another, but the teasing jealousy of his wife's temper, that
often obliged Antipholus to leave his home; and (the abbess
suspecting this from the vehemence of Adriana's manner) to learn the
truth, she said: 'You should have reprehended him for this.' 'Why, so I
did,' replied Adriana. 'Ay,' said the abbess, 'but perhaps not enough.'
Adriana, willing to convince the abbess that she had said enough to
Antipholus on this subject, replied: 'It was the constant subject of our
conversation: in bed I would not let him sleep for speaking of it. At
table I would not let him eat for speaking of it. When I was alone with
him, I talked of nothing else; and in company I gave him frequent
hints of it. Still all my talk was how vile and bad it was in him to love
any lady better than me.'

The lady abbess, having drawn this full confession from the jealous
Adriana, now said: 'And therefore comes it that your husband is mad.
The venomous clamour of a jealous woman is a more deadly poison
than a mad dog's tooth. It seems his sleep was hindered by your
railing; no wonder that his head is light: and his meat was sauced with
your upbraidings; unquiet meals make ill digestions, and that has
thrown him into this fever. You say his sports were disturbed by your
brawls; being debarred from the enjoyment of society and recreation,
what could ensue but dull melancholy and comfortless despair? The
consequence is then, that your jealous kits have made your husband

Luciana would have excused her sister, saying, she always
reprehended her husband mildly; and she said to her sister: 'Why do
you hear these rebukes without answering them?' But the abbess had
made her so plainly perceive her fault, that she could only answer:
'She has betrayed me to my own reproof.'

Adriana, though ashamed of her own conduct, still insisted on having
her husband delivered up to her; but the abbess would suffer no

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