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SHAKESPEARE FOR CHILDREN.
UNIFORM WITH THE PRESENT VOLUME.
Crown 4to, cloth gilt, with Coloured and Plain Illustrations,
price los. 6d. each.
CHAUCER FOR CHILDREN:
A GOLDEN KE Y.
BY MRS. H. R. HAWEIS.
With Eight Coloured Pictures and Numerous Woodcuts by the Author.
It must not only take a high place among the Christmas and New Year
books of this season, but is also of permanent value as an introduction to the study
of Chaucer, whose works, in selections of some kind or other, are now text-books
in every school that aspires to give sound instruction in English. "-ACADEMY.
SPENSER FOR CHILDREN.
BY M. H. TOWRY.
With Illustrations in Colours by WALTER J. MORGAN.
"Spenser has simply been transferred into plain prose, with here and there a
line or stanza quoted, where the meaning and the diction are within a child's
comprehension, and additional point is thus given to the narrative without the
cost of obscurity . Altogether, the work has been well and carefully done."
CIIATTO AND WINDUS, PICCADILLY, W.
O T H E L L O.
DescLemtona. loved to hear him tell t'-e story of his adventures
SHAKESPEARE FOR CHILDREN.
TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE.
CHARLES AND MARY LAMB.
ILLUSTRATED BY JOHN MOYR SMITH
CHATTO AND WINDUS, PICCADILLY.
PRINTED AT THE CAXTON PRESS, BECCLES.
SHE following Tales are meant to be sub-
mitted to the young reader as an intro-
duction to the study of Shakespeare, for
which purpose, his words are used when-
ever it seemed possible to bring them in;
and in whatever has been added to give
them the regular form of a connected story,
diligent care has been taken to select such words as might least
interrupt the effect of the beautiful English tongue in which he
wrote: therefore words introduced into our language since his time
have been as far as possible avoided.
In those Tales which have been taken from the Tragedies,
as my young readers will perceive when they come to see the
source from which these stories are derived, Shakespeare's own
words, with little alteration, recur very frequently in the narrative
as well as in the dialogue; but in those made from the Comedies
I found myself scarcely ever able to turn his words into the
narrative form; therefore I fear in them I have made use of
dialogue too frequently for young people not used to the dramatic
form of writing. But this fault, if it be as I fear a fault, has been
caused by my earnest wish to give as much of Shakespeare's own
words as possible: and if the He said," and Se said," the
question and the reply, should sometimes seem tedious to their
young ears, they must pardon it, because it was the only way I
knew of, in which I could give them a few hints and little fore-
tastes of the great pleasure which awaits them in their elder
years, when they come to the rich treasures from which these
small and valueless coins are extracted; pretending to no other
merit than as faint and imperfect stamps of Shakespeare's match-
less image. Faint and imperfect images they must be called,
because the beauty of his language is too frequently destroyed
by the necessity of changing many of his excellent words into
words far less expressive of his true sense, to make it read
something like prose; and even in some few places, where his
blank verse is given unaltered, as hoping from its simple plainness
to cheat the young readers into the belief that they are reading
prose, yet still his language being transplanted from its own
natural soil and wild poetic garden, it must want much of its
I have wished to make these Tales easy reading for very
young children. To the utmost of my ability I have constantly
kept this in my mind; but the subjects of most of them made
this a very difficult task. It was no easy matter to give the
histories of men and women in terms familiar to the apprehension
of a very young mind. For young ladies too it has been my
intention chiefly to write, because boys are generally permitted
the use of their fathers' libraries at a much earlier age than girls
are, they frequently having the best scenes of Shakespeare by
heart, before their sisters are permitted to look into this manly
book; and, therefore, instead of recommending these Tales to the
perusal of young gentlemen who can read them so much better
in the originals, I must rather beg their kind assistance in
explaining to their sisters such parts as are hardest for them. to
understand: and when they have helped them to get over the
difficulties, then perhaps they will read to them (carefully selecting
what is proper for a young sister's ear) some passage which has
pleased them in one of these stories, in the very words of the
scene from which it is taken; and I trust they will find that the
beautiful extracts, the select passages, they may choose to give
their sisters in this way, will be much better relished and
understood from their having some notion of the general story
from one of these imperfect abridgments :-which if they be
fortunately so done as to prove delightful to any of you, my
young readers, I hope will have no worse effect upon you, than
to make you wish yourselves a little older, that you may be
allowed to read the Plays at full length; such a wish will be
neither peevish nor irrational. When time and leave of judicious
friends shall put them into your hands, you will discover in such
of them as are here abridged (not to mention almost as many
more which are left untouched) many surprising events and turns
of fortune, which for their infinite variety could not be contained
in this little book, besides a world of sprightly and cheerful
characters, both men and women, the humour of which I was
fearful of losing if I attempted to reduce the length of them.
What these Tales have been to you in childhood, that and
much more it is my wish that the true Plays of Shakespeare may
prove to you in older years-enrichers of the fancy, strengtheners
of virtue, a withdrawing from all selfish and mercenary thoughts, a
lesson of all sweet and honourable thoughts and actions, to teach
you courtesy, benignity, generosity, humanity: for of examples,
teaching these virtues, his pages are full.
I. THE TEMPEST ... ... I
II. A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM ... 13
III. THE WINTER'S TALE ... ** 25
IV. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING ........ ... 36
V. As You LIKE IT ...... .. ** 49
VI. THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA ... .... 65
VII. THE MERCHANT OF VENICE ... ....** 78
VIII. CYMBELINE ... ... ... *** *** 91
IX. KING LEAR* ... ...4 ... 104
X. MACBETH ... ... ... ** 119
XI. ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL ......... 130
XII. THE TAMING OF THE SHREW ... ... ... 142
XIII. THE COMEDY OF ERRORS ... ... ** ** ** 53
XIV. MEASURE FOR MEASURE .......... 167
XV. TWELFTH NIGHT; OR, WHAT YOU WILL ......... 182
XVI. TIMON OF ATHENS* ...... 195
XVII. ROMEO AND JULIET ... .**.. .... 208
XVIII. HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK* .. ...... 225
XIX. OTHELLO ... .... .. .. 241
XX. PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE ... ... *** 254
The six plays marked with an asterisk (*) were written entirely by Charks Lamb; the
others are by his sister, Mary Lamb.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
He followed in amazement the sound of Ariel's voice" ... ...... i
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
"His ass's head crowned by her with flowers ... ... ... 13
THE WINTER'S TALE.
What fine chisel could ever yet cut breath ?" ... 25
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
"They saw Borachio standing under the window" 36
As You LIKE IT.
Spoils our young trees with carving Rosalind upon their barks ... ... 49
THE Two GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
Serenading the lady Silvia with music ... ... ... ... 65
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
"It is not so named in the bond ... ... ... ... 7
Getting out of the trunk, he examined the chamber with great attention" ... 91
Lear did not long survive this kind child ** o4
"In a fury of resentment, he retracted the third part of his kingdom which yet
remained, which he had reserved for Cordelia" ... ... (colouredplate) io6
List of Illustrations. xi
"He sought them in a cave upon the heath" ... ... ... ... 119
"Just at these words the ghost of Banquo, whom he had caused to be
murdered, entered the room ... ... ... ... (coloured late) 125
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
Love Triumphant .................. ... 130
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW.
Here is the cap your worship bespoke" ... ... ... ... 142
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS.
Antipholis of Syracuse was dining with his brother's wife ... ... 153
MEASURE FOR MEASURE.
Isabel threw herself on her knees before Angelo ... ... ... 167
TWELFTH NIGHT; OR, WHAT YOU WILL.
He commanded a song which he loved to be sung" ... ... .. 182
TIMON OF ATHENS.
To him they come in their extremity" ... ... ... ... 195
"Throwing dishes and all after them ... ... ... (coloured plate) 203
ROMEO AND JULIET.
Romeo took his leave of his dear wife" ... ... ... ... 208
"He was proceeding to break open the monument, when he was interrupted
by a voice" ... ... ... ... (coloured late) 221
HAMLET, PRINCE OF DENMARK.
He suddenly turned upon his false uncle, and thrust the point of it to his
heart" ... ..0.. ,,* ... ... 0.0 0 225
"Bursting from them, who did all they could to hold him, he followed
whithersoever the spirit led him" ... ... ... ... (coloured plate) 228
Love Betrayed ... ... ... ... ... ... 241
Desdemona loved to hear him tell the story of his adventures" (frontispiece) 242
PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE.
Thaisa, now a priestess of the temple, was standing before the altar ... 254
TALE THE FIRST.
"4, .( was a certain island in the sea, the
W 3on inhabitants of which were an
.-' ' _, ,,
S- old man, whose name was Prospero,
and his daughter Miranda, a very beautiful young lady. She came to
-. ...... .>,.
this island so young, that she had no memory of having seen any other
Sonly inhabitants of which were an
this island so young, that she had no memory of having seen any other
human face than her father's.
2 Tales from Shakespeare.
They lived in a cave or cell, made out of a rock: it was divided into
several apartments, one of which Prospero called his study; there he kept
his books, which chiefly treated of magic, a study at that time much affected
by all learned men: and the knowledge of this art he found very useful
to him ; for being thrown by a strange chance upon this island, which had
been enchanted by a witch called Sycorax, who died there a short time before
his arrival, Prospero, by virtue of his art, released many good spirits that
Sycorax had imprisoned in the bodies of large trees, because they had refused
to execute her wicked commands. These gentle spirits were ever after
obedient to the will of Prospero. Of these Ariel was the chief.
The lively little sprite Ariel had nothing mischievous in his nature,
except that he took rather too much pleasure in tormenting an ugly monster
called Caliban, for he owed him a grudge because he was the son of his old
enemy Sycorax. This Caliban, Prospero found in the woods, a strange mis-
shapen thing, far less human in form than an ape: he took him home to
his cell, and taught him to speak ; and Prospero would have been very kind
to him, but the bad nature which Caliban inherited from his mother, Sycorax,
would not let him learn anything good or useful : therefore he was employed
like a slave, to fetch wood, and do the most laborious offices; and Ariel
had the charge of compelling him to these services.
When Caliban was lazy and neglected his work, Ariel (who was invisible
to all eyes but Prospero's) would come slily and pinch him, and sometimes
tumble him down in the mire; and then Ariel, in the likeness of an ape,
would make mouths at him. Then, swiftly changing his shape, in the like-
ness of a hedgehog he would lie tumbling in Caliban's way, who feared the
hedgehog's sharp quills would prick his bare feet. With a variety of such-
like vexatious tricks Ariel would often torment him, whenever Caliban
neglected the work which Prospero commanded him to do.
Having these powerful spirits obedient to his will, Prospero could by
their means command the winds, and the waves of the sea. By his orders
they raised a violent storm, in the midst of which,.and struggling with the
wild sea waves that every moment threatened to swallow it up, he showed
his daughter a fine large ship, which he told her was full of living beings like
The Tempest. 3
themselves. "Oh, my dear father," said she, if by your art you have raised
this dreadful storm, have pity on their sad distress. See! the vessel will be
dashed to pieces. Poor souls! they will all perish. If I had power, I would
sink the sea beneath the earth, rather than the good ship should be destroyed,
with all the precious souls within her."
"Be not so amazed, daughter Miranda," said Prospero; "there is no
harm done. I have so ordered it, that no person in the ship shall receive
any hurt. What I have done has been in care of you, my dear child. You
are ignorant who you are, or where you came from, and you know no
more of me, but that I am your father, and live in this poor cave. Can
you remember a time before you came to this cell ? I think you cannot,
for you were not then three years of age."
Certainly I can, sir," replied Miranda.
"By what?" asked Prospero; "by any other house or person ? Tell
me what you can remember, my child."
Miranda said, It seems to me like the recollection of a dream. But
had I not once four or five women who attended upon me?"
Prospero answered, "You had, and more. How is it that this still
lives in your mind ? Do you remember how you came here ?"
"No, sir," said Miranda, I remember nothing more."
"Twelve years ago, Miranda," continued Prospero, I was duke of
Milan, and you were a princess and my only heir. I had a younger brother,
whose name was Antonio, to whom I trusted everything; and as I was
fond of retirement and deep study, I commonly left the management of
my state affairs to your uncle, my false brother (for so indeed he proved).
I, neglecting all worldly ends, buried among my books, did dedicate my
whole time to the bettering of my mind. My brother Antonio being thus
in possession of my power, began to think himself the duke indeed. The
opportunity I gave him of making himself popular among my subjects,
awakened in his bad nature a proud ambition to deprive me of my duke-
dom: this he soon effected with the aid of the king of Naples, a powerful
prince, who was my enemy."
"Wherefore, "said Miranda, "did they not that hour destroy us?"
4 Tales from Shakespeare.
"My child," answered her father, "they durst not, so dear was the
love that my people bore me. Antonio carried us on board a ship, and
when we were some leagues out at sea, he forced us into a small boat,
without either tackle, sail, or mast: there he left us, as he thought, to
perish. But a kind lord of my court, one Gonzalo, who loved me, had
privately placed in the boat, water, provisions, apparel, and some books
which I prize above my dukedom."
"Oh, my father," said Miranda, "what a trouble must I have been to
"No, my love," said Prospero, "you were a little cherub that did
preserve me. Your innocent smiles made me bear up against my mis-
fortunes. Our food lasted till we landed on this desert island, since when
my chief delight has been in teaching you, Miranda, and well have you
profited by my instructions."
"Heaven -thank you, my dear father," said Miranda. "Now pray
tell me, sir, your reason for raising this sea-storm ?"
"Know then," said her father, "that by means of this storm my enemies,
the king of Naples, and my cruel brother, are cast ashore upon this island."
Having so said, Prospero gently touched his daughter with his
magic wand, and she fell fast asleep; for the spirit Ariel just then pre-
sented himself before his master, to give an account of the tempest, and
how he had disposed of the ship's company; and, though the spirits were
always invisible to Miranda, Prospero did not choose she should hear him
holding converse (as would seem to her) with the empty air.
"Well, my brave spirit," said Prospero to Ariel, "how have you per-
formed your task ?"
Ariel gave a lively description of the storm, and of the terrors of the
mariners; and how the king's son, Ferdinand, was the first who leaped into
the sea; and his father thought he saw this dear son swallowed up by the
waves and lost. "But he is safe," said Ariel, "in a corner of the isle, sitting
with his arms folded sadly, lamenting the loss of the king his father, whom
he concludes drowned. Not a hair of his head is injured, and his princely
garments, though drenched in the sea-waves, look fresher than before."
The Tempfest. 5
"That's my delicate Ariel," said Prospero. "Bring him hither: my
daughter must see this young prince. Where is the king, and my brother ?"
I left them," answered Ariel, searching for Ferdinand, whom they have
little hopes of finding, thinking they saw him perish. Of the ship's crew not
one is missing; though each one thinks himself the only one saved: and the
ship, though invisible to them, is safe in the harbour."
"Ariel," said Prospero, "thy charge is faithfully performed: but there is
more work yet."
"Is there more work ?" said Ariel. "Let me remind you, master, you
have promised me my liberty. I pray, remember, I have done you worthy
service, told you no lies, made no mistakes, served you without grudge or
"How now!" said Prospero. "You do not recollect what a torment
I freed you from. Have you forgot the wicked witch Sycorax, who with age
and envy was almost bent double ? Where was she born ? Speak : tell me."
"Sir, in Algiers," said Ariel.
Oh, was she so ?" said Prospero. "I must recount what you have been,
which I find you do not remember. This bad witch Sycorax, for her witch-
crafts, too terrible to enter human hearing, was banished from Algiers, and
here left by the sailors; and because you were a spirit too delicate to execute
her wicked commands, she shut you up in a tree, where I found you howling.
This torment, remember, I did free you from."
Pardon me, dear master," said Ariel, ashamed to seem ungrateful; "I
will obey your commands."
Do so," said Prospero, "and I will set you free." He then gave orders
what farther he would have him do, and away went Ariel, first to where he
had left Ferdinand, and found him still sitting on the grass in the same
"Oh, my young gentleman," said Ariel, when he saw him, "I will soon
move you. You must be brought, I find, for the lady Miranda to have a
sight of your pretty person. Come, sir, follow me." He then began singing,
"Full fathom five thy father lies:
Of his bones are coral made;
6 Tales from Shakespeare.
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But both suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark, now I hear them, ding-dong-bell."
This strange news of his lost father soon roused the prince from the
stupid fit into which he had fallen. He followed in amazement the sound of
Ariel's voice, till it led him to Prospero and Miranda, who were sitting under
the shade of a large tree. Now Miranda had never seen a man before, except
her own father.
"Miranda," said Prospero, "tell me what you are looking at yonder ?"
"Oh, father," said Miranda, in a strange surprise, "surely that is a spirit.
Lord how it looks about! Believe me, sir, it is a beautiful creature. Is it
not a spirit ?"
"No, girl," answered her father; "it eats, and sleeps, and has senses
such as we have. This young man you see, was in the ship. He is some-
what altered by grief, or you might call him a handsome person. He has
lost his companions, and is wandering about to find them."
Miranda, who thought all men had grave faces and grey beards like
her father, was delighted with the appearance of this beautiful young prince ;
and Ferdinand, seeing such a lovely lady in this desert place, and from
the strange sounds he had heard, expecting nothing but wonders, thought
he was upon an enchanted island, and that Miranda was the goddess of the
place, and as such he began to address her.
She timidly answered, she was no goddess, but a simple maid, and was
going to give him an account of herself, when Prospero interrupted her. He
was well pleased to find they admired each other, for he plainly perceived
they had (as we say) fallen in love at first sight: but to try Ferdinand's
constancy, he resolved to throw some difficulties in their way: therefore,
advancing forward, he addressed the prince with a stern air, telling him, he
came to the island as a spy, to take it from him who was the lord of it.
"Follow me," said he, "I will tie you, neck and feet together. You shall
drink sea water; shell-fish, withered roots, and. husks of acorns, shall be your
The Tempest. 7
food." "No," said Ferdinand, "I will resist such entertainment, till I see
a more powerful enemy," and drew his sword: but Prospero, waving his
magic wand, fixed him to the spot where he stood, so that he had no power
Miranda hung upon her father, saying, "Why are you so ungentle?
Have pity, sir; I will be his surety. This is the second man I ever saw, and
to me he seems a true one."
Silence," said her father; one word more will make me chide you, girl!
What! an advocate for an impostor! You think there are no more such
fine men, having seen only him and Caliban. I tell you, foolish girl, most
men as far excel this, as he does Caliban." This he said to prove his
daughter's constancy; and she replied, "My affections are most humble. I
have no wish to see a goodlier man."
"Come on, young man," said Prospero to the prince, "you have no
power to disobey me."
I have not indeed," answered Ferdinand; and not knowing that it was
by magic he was deprived of all power of resistance, he was astonished to
find himself so strangely compelled to follow Prospero: looking back on
"Miranda as long as he could see her, he said, as he went after Prospero into
the cave, "My spirits are all bound up, as if I were in a dream; but this
man's threats, and the weakness which I feel, would seem light to me if from
my prison I might once a day behold this fair maid."
Prospero kept Ferdinand not long confined within the cell: he soon
brought out his prisoner, and set him a severe task to perform, taking care to
let his daughter know the hard labour he had imposed on him, and then,
pretending to go into his study, he secretly watched them both.
Prospero had commanded Ferdinand to pile up some heavy logs of wood.
Kings' sons not being much used to laborious work, Miranda soon after
found her lover almost dying with fatigue. "Alas !" said she, "do not work
so hard; my father is at his studies, he is safe for these three hours: pray
"Oh, my dear lady," said Ferdinand, I dare not. I must finish my task
before I take my rest."
8 Tales from Shakespeare.
"If you will sit down," said Miranda, I will carry your logs the while."
But this Ferdinand would by no means agree to. Instead of a help Miranda
became a hindrance, for they began a long conversation, so that the business
of log-carrying went on very slowly.
Prospero, who had enjoined Ferdinand this task merely as a trial of
his love, was not at his books as his daughter supposed, but was standing
by them invisible, to overhear what they said.
Ferdinand inquired her name, which she told him, saying it was against
her father's express command she did so.
Prospero only smiled at this first instance of his daughter's disobedience,
for having by his magic art caused his daughter to fall in love so suddenly,
he was not angry that she showed her love by forgetting to obey his
commands. And he listened well pleased to a long speech of Ferdinand's,
in which he professed to love her above all the ladies he ever saw.
In answer to his praises of her beauty, which he said exceeded all the
women in the world, she replied, I do not remember the face of any woman,
nor have I seen any more men than you, my good friend, and my dear
father. How features are abroad, I know not; but believe me, sir, I would
not wish any companion in the world but you, nor can my imagination
form any shape but yours that I could like. But, sir, I fear I talk to you
too freely, and my father's precepts I forget."
At this Prospero smiled, and nodded his head, as much as to say, "This
goes on exactly as I could wish; my girl will be queen of Naples."
And then Ferdinand, in another fine long speech (for young princes
speak in courtly phrases), told the innocent Miranda he was heir to the crown
of Naples, and that she should be his queen.
"Ah! sir," said she, "I am a fool to weep at what I am glad of. I
will answer you in plain and holy innocence. I am your wife, if you will
Prospero prevented Ferdinand's thanks by appearing visible before them.
"Fear nothing, my child," said he; "I have overheard, and approve of
all you have said. And, Ferdinand, if I have too severely used you, I will
make you rich amends, by giving you my daughter. All your vexations
The Tempest. 9
were but my trials of your love, and you have nobly stood the test. Then
as my gift, which your true love has worthily purchased, take my daughter,
and do not smile that I boast she is above all praise." He then, telling
them that he had business which required his presence, desired they would
sit down and talk together, till he returned; and this command Miranda
seemed not at all disposed to disobey.
When Prospero left them, he called his spirit Ariel, who quickly appeared
before him, eager to relate what he had done with Prospero's brother and the
King of Naples. Ariel said, he had left them almost out of their senses with
fear, at the strange things he had caused them to see and hear. When
fatigued with wandering about, and famished for want of food, he had
suddenly set before them a delicious banquet, and then, just as they were
going to eat, he appeared visible before them in the shape of a harpy, a
voracious monster with wings, and the feast vanished away. Then, to their
utter amazement, this seeming harpy spoke to them, reminding them of their
cruelty in driving Prospero from his dukedom, and leaving him and his infant
daughter to perish in the sea; saying, that for this cause these terrors were
suffered to afflict them.
The King of Naples, and Antonio the false brother, repented the injustice
they had done to Prospero: and Ariel told his master he was certain their
penitence was sincere, and that he, though a spirit, could not but pity them.
"Then bring them hither, Ariel," said Prospero : if you, who are but
a spirit, feel for their distress, shall not I, who am a human being like
themselves, have compassion on them ? Bring them quickly, my dainty
Ariel soon returned with the king, Antonio, and old Gonzalo in their
train, who had followed him, wondering at the wild music he played in the
air to draw them on to his master's presence. This Gonzalo was the same
who had so kindly provided Prospero formerly with books and provisions,
when his wicked brother left him, as he thought, to perish in an open
boat in the sea.
Grief and terror had so stupefied their senses, that they did not know
Prospero. He first discovered himself to the good old Gonzalo, calling
10 Tales from Shakespeare.
him the preserver of his life; and then his brother and the king knew that
he was the injured Prospero.
Antonio with tears, and sad words of sorrow and true repentance,
implored his brother's forgiveness; and the king expressed his sincere
remorse for having assisted Antonio to depose his brother: and Prospero
forgave them; and, upon their engaging to restore his dukedom, he said
to the king of Naples, "I have a gift in store for you too ;" and opening
a door, showed him his son Ferdinand, playing at chess with Miranda.
Nothing could exceed the joy of the father and the son at this
unexpected meeting, for they each thought the other drowned in the storm.
"Oh wonder!" said Miranda, "what noble creatures these are! It
must surely be a brave world that has such people in it."
The king of Naples was almost as much astonished at the beauty and
excellent graces of the young Miranda, as his son had been. "Who i-s
this maid ?" said he; "she seems the goddess that has parted us, and
brought us thus together." "No, sir," answered Ferdinand, smiling to find his
father had fallen into the same mistake that he had done when he first
saw Miranda, "she is a mortal, but by immortal Providence she is mine;
I chose her when I could not ask you, my father, for your consent, not
thinking you were alive. She is the daughter to this Prospero, who is the
famous duke of Milan, of whose renown I have heard so much, but never
saw him till now: of him I have received a new life: he has made himself
to me a second father, giving me this dear lady."
Then I must be her father," said the king: "but oh how oddly will
it sound, that I must ask my child forgiveness."
"No more of that," said Prospero: "let us not remember our troubles
past, since they so happily have ended." And then Prospero embraced
his brother, and again assured him of his forgiveness ; and said that a
wise, over-ruling Providence, had permitted that he should be driven from
his poor dukedom of Milan, that his daughter might inherit the crown of
Naples, for that by their meeting in this desert island, it had happened
that the king's son had loved Miranda.
These kind words which Prospero spoke, meaning to comfort his brother,
The Tempest. 11
so filled Antonio with shame and remorse, that he wept and was unable
to speak: and the kind old Gonzalo wept to see this joyful reconciliation,
and prayed for blessings on the young couple.
Prospero now told them that their ship was safe in the harbour, and
the sailors all on board her, and that he and his daughter would accompany
them home the next morning. "In the mean time," said he, "partake of
such refreshments as my poor cave affords; and for your evening's
entertainment I will relate the history of my life from my first landing
in this desert island." He then called for Caliban to prepare some food,
and set the cave in order ; and the company were astonished at the uncouth
form and savage appearance of this ugly monster, who (Prospero said) was
the only attendant he had to wait upon him.
Before Prospero left the island, he dismissed Ariel from his service,
to the great joy of that lively little spirit; who, though he had been a
faithful servant to his master, was always longing to enjoy his free liberty,
to wander uncontrolled in the air, like a wild bird, under green trees, among
pleasant fruits, and sweet-smelling flowers. "My quaint Ariel," said Prospero
to the little sprite when he made him free, I shall miss you; yet you shall
have your freedom." "Thank you, my dear master," said Ariel; "but
give me leave to attend your ship home with prosperous gales, before you
bid farewell to the assistance of your faithful spirit; and then, master, when
I am free, how merrily I shall live! Here Ariel sung this pretty song:
"Where the bee sucks, there suck I;
In a cowslip's bell I lie:
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat's back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily, shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough."
Prospero then buried deep in the earth his magical books and wand,
for he was resolved never more to make use of the magic art. And having
thus overcome his enemies, and being reconciled to his brother and the
king of Naples, nothing now remained to complete his happiness, but to
12 Tales from Shakespeare.
revisit his native land, to take possession of his dukedom, and to witness
the happy nuptials of his daughter Miranda and prince Ferdinand, which
the king said should be instantly celebrated with great splendour on their
return to Naples. At which place, under the safe convoy of the spirit Ariel,
they after a pleasant voyage soon arrived.
TALE THE SECOND.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
marry the man her father had chosen to be her husband, the father was
though perhaps the youngwas a lawdies of that city of Athwere not unfrequentlys,
threatened which gave to its citizens the terrors of it.
\ compelling their daughters to marry
threatened by their parents with the terrors of it.
14 Tales from Shakespeare.
There was one instance, however, of an old man, whose name was
Egeus, who actually did come before Theseus (at that time the reigning
duke of Athens) to complain that his daughter Hermia, whom he had
commanded to marry Demetrius, a young man of a noble Athenian family,
refused to obey him, because she loved another young Athenian, named
Lysander. Egeus demanded justice of Theseus, and desired that this
cruel law might be put in force against his daughter.
Hermia pleaded in excuse for her disobedience, that Demetrius had
formerly professed love for her dear friend Helena, and that Helena loved
Demetrius to distraction; but this honourable reason which Hermia gave
for not obeying her father's command, moved not the stern Egeus.
Theseus, though a great and merciful prince, had no power to alter
the laws of his country; therefore he could only give Hermia four days
to consider of it: and at the end of that time, if she still refused to marry.
Demetrius, she was to be put to death.
When Hermia was dismissed from the presence of the duke, she went
to her lover Lysander, and told him the peril she was in, and that she
must either give up him and marry Demetrius, or lose her life in four days.
Lysander was in great affliction at hearing these evil tidings; but
recollecting that he had an aunt who lived at some distance from Athens,
and that at the place where she lived, the cruel law could not be put in
force against Hermia (this law not extending beyond the boundaries of
the city), he proposed to Hermia, that she should steal out of her father's
house that night, and go with him to his aunt's house, where he would
marry her. "I will meet you," said Lysander, "'in the wood a few miles
without the city; in that delightful wood, where we have so often walked
with Helena in the pleasant month of May."
To this proposal Hermia joyfully agreed; and she told no one of
her intended flight but her friend Helena. Helena (as maidens will do
foolish things for love) very ungenerously resolved to go and tell this to
Demetrius, though she could hope no benefit from betraying her friend's
secret, but the poor pleasure of following her faithless lover to the wood;
for she well knew that Demetrius would go thither in pursuit of Hermia.
A Midsummer Night's Dream. 15
The wood, in which Lysander and Hermia proposed to meet, was
the favourite haunt of those little beings known by the name of Fairies.
Oberon the king, and Titania the queen of the Fairies, with all their
tiny train of followers, in this wood held their midnight revels.
Between this little king and queen of sprites there happened, at this
time, a sad disagreement: they never met by moonlight in the shady
walks of this pleasant wood, but they were quarrelling, till all their fairy
elves would creep into acorn cups and hide themselves for fear.
The cause of this unhappy disagreement was Titania's refusing to
give Oberon a little changeling boy, whose mother had been Titania's
friend; and upon her death the fairy queen stole the child from its nurse,
and brought him up in the woods.
The night on which the lovers were to meet in this wood, as Titania
was walking with some of her maids of honour, she met Oberon attended
by his train of fairy courtiers.
Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania," said the fairy king. The
queen replied, "What, jealous Oberon, is it you? Fairies, skip hence;
.I have forsworn his company." Tarry, rash fairy," said Oberon ; "am not
I thy lord ? Why does Titania cross her Oberon ? Give me your little
changeling boy to be my page."
"Set your heart at rest," answered the queen; "your whole fairy
kingdom buys not the boy of me." She then left her lord in great anger.
"Well, go your way," said Oberon: "before the morning dawns I will
torment you for this injury,"
Oberon then sent for Puck, his chief favourite and privy counsellor.
Puck (or, as he was sometimes called, Robin Goodfellow) was a shrewd
and knavish sprite, that used to play comical pranks in the neighboring
villages; sometimes getting into the dairies and skimming the milk,
sometimes plunging his light and airy form into the butter-churn, and
while he was dancing his fantastic shape in the churn, in vain the dairy-
maid would labour to change her cream into butter: nor had the village
swains any better success; whenever Puck chose to play his freaks in
the brewing copper, the ale was sure to be spoiled. When a few good
16 Tales from Shakespeare.
neighbours were met to drink some comfortable ale together, Puck would
jump into the bowl of ale in the likeness of a roasted crab, and when
some old goody was going to drink, he would bob against her lips, and
spill the ale over her withered chin; and presently after, when the same
old dame was gravely seating herself to tell her neighbours a sad and
melancholy story, Puck would slip her three-legged stool from under her,
and down toppled the poor old woman, and then the old gossips would
hold their sides and laugh at her, and swear they never wasted a merrier hour.
"Come hither, Puck," said Oberon to this little merry wanderer of
the night; "fetch me the flower which maids call Love in Idleness: the
juice of that little purple flower laid on the eyelids of those who sleep
will make them, when they awake, doat on the first thing they see. Some
of the juice of that flower I will drop on the eyelids of my Titania when
she is asleep; and the first thing she looks upon when she opens her eyes'
she will fall in love with, even though it be a lion, or a bear, a meddling
monkey, or a busy ape: and before I will take this charm from off her
sight, which I can do with another charm I know of, I will make her
give me that boy to be my page."
Puck, who loved mischief to his heart, was highly diverted with this
intended frolic of his master, and ran to seek the flower; and while
Oberon was waiting the return of Puck, he observed Demetrius and
Helena enter the wood: he overheard Demetrius reproaching Helena for
following him, and after many unkind words on his part, and gentle
expostulations from Helena, reminding him of his former love and pro-
fessions of true faith to her, he left her (as he 'aid) to the mercy of the
wild beasts, and she ran after him as swiftly as she could.
The fairy king, who was always friendly to true lovers, felt great
compassion for Helena; and perhaps, as Lysander said they used to walk
by moonlight in this pleasant wood, Oberon might have seen Helena in
those happy times when she was beloved by Demetrius. However that
might be, when Puck returned with the little purple flower, Oberon said to
his favourite, "Take a part of this flower: there has been a sweet Athenian
lady here, who is in love with a disdainful youth; if you find him sleeping,
A Midsummer Night's Dream. 17
drop some of the love-juice in his eyes, but contrive to do it when she is
near him, that the first thing he sees when he awakes may be this
despised lady. You will know the man by the Athenian garments which
he wears." Puck promised to manage this matter very dexterously; and
then Oberon went, unperceived by Titania, to her bower, where she was
preparing to go to rest. Her fairy bower was a bank, where grew wild
thyme, cowslips, and sweet violets, under a canopy of woodbine, musk-
roses, and eglantine. There Titania always slept some part of the night;
her coverlet the enamelled skin of a snake, which, though a small mantle,
was wide enough to wrap a fairy in.
He found Titania giving orders to her fairies, how they were to employ
themselves while she slept. "Some of you," said her majesty, "must kill
cankers in the musk-rose buds, and some wage war with the bats for their
leather wings, to make my small elves coats; and some of you keep
watch that the clamorous owl, that nightly hoots, come not near me: but
first sing me to sleep." Then they began to sing this song:-
"You spotted snakes with double tongue,
Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen;
Newts and blind-worms do no wrong,
Come not near our Fairy Queen.
Philomel, with melody,
Sing in your sweet lullaby,
Lulla, lulla, lullaby; lulla, lulla, lullaby:
Never harm, nor spell, nor charm,
Come our lovely lady nigh;
So good night with lullaby."
When the fairies had sung their queen asleep with this pretty lullaby,
they left her, to perform the important services she had enjoined them.
Oberon then softly drew near his Titania, and dropt some of the love-juice
on her eye-lids, saying,
"What thou seest when thou dost wake,
Do it for thy true-love take."
But to return to Hermia, who made her escape out of her father's
house that night, to avoid the death she was doomed to for' refusing to
18 Tales from Shakespeare.
marry Demetrius. When.she entered the wood, she found her dear Lysander
waiting for her, to conduct her to his aunt's house; but before they had
passed half through the wood, Hermia was so much fatigued, that Lysander,
who was very careful of this dear lady, who had proved her affection for
him even by hazarding her life for his sake, persuaded her to rest till
morning on a bank of soft moss, and lying down himself on the ground
at some little distance, they soon fell fast asleep. Here they were found
by Puck,.who seeing a handsome young man asleep, and perceiving that
his clothes were made in the Athenian fashion, and that a pretty lady was
sleeping near him, concluded that this must be the Athenian maid and
her disdainful lover whom Oberon had sent him to seek; and he naturally
enough conjectured that, as they were alone together, she must be the first
thing he would see when he awoke: so without more ado, he proceeded
to pour some of the juice of the little purple flower into his eyes. But'
it so fell out, that Helena came that way, and, instead of Hermia, was the
first object Lysander beheld when he opened his eyes: and strange to
relate, so powerful was the love-charm, all his love for Hermia vanished
away, and Lysander fell in love with Helena.
Had he first seen Hermia when he awoke, the blunder Puck committed
would have been of no consequence, for he could not love that faithful
lady too well; but for poor Lysander to be forced by a fairy love-charm
to forget his own true Hermia, and to run after another lady, and leave
Hermia asleep quite alone in a wood at midnight, was a sad chance indeed.
Thus this misfortune happened. Helena, as has been before related,
endeavoured to keep pace with Demetrius when he ran away so rudely from
her; but she could not continue this unequal race long, men being always
better runners in a long race than ladies. Helena soon lost sight of
Demetrius; and as she was wandering about, dejected and forlorn, she
arrived at the place where Lysander was sleeping. "Ah !" said she, this
is Lysander lying on the ground: is he dead or asleep ?" Then gently
touching him, she said, "Good sir, if you are alive, awake." Upon this
Lysander opened his eyes, and (the love-charm beginning to work)
immediately addressed her in terms of extravagant love and admiration;
A Midsummer Night's Dream. 19
telling her, she as much excelled Hermia in beauty as a dove does a
raven, and that he would run through fire for her sweet sake; and many
more such lover-like speeches. Helena knowing Lysander was her friend
Hermia's lover, and that he was solemnly engaged to marry her, was in
the utmost rage when she heard herself addressed in this manner; for she
thought (as well she might) that Lysander was making a jest of her.
"Oh!" said she, "why was I born to be mocked and scorned by every
one? Is it not enough, is it not enough, young man, that I can never
get a sweet look or a kind word from Demetrius; but you, sir, must pretend
in this disdainful manner to court me ? I thought, Lysander, you were a
lord of more true gentleness." Saying these words in great anger, she
ran away; and Lysander followed her, quite forgetful of his own Hermia,
who was still asleep.
When Hermia awoke, she was in a sad fright at finding herself alone.
She wandered about the wood, not knowing what was become of Lysander,
or which way to go to seek for him. In the mean time Demetrius, not
being able to find Hermia and his rival Lysander, and fatigued with his
fruitless search, was observed by Oberoh fast asleep. Oberon had learnt
by some questions he had asked of Puck, that. he had applied the love-charm
to the wrong person's eyes; and now, having found the person first intended,
he touched the eyelids of the sleeping Demetrius with the love-juice, and
he instantly awoke ; and the first thing he saw being Helena, he, as Lysander
had done before, began to address love-speeches to her: and just at that
moment Lysander, followed by Hermia (for through Puck's unlucky mistake
it was now become Hermia's turn to run after her lover) made his appearance;
and then Lysander and Demetrius, both speaking together, made love to
Helena, they being each one under the influence of the same potent charm.
The astonished Helena thought that Demetrius, Lysander, and her
once dear friend Hermia, were all in a plot together to make a jest of her.
Hermia was as much surprised as Helena: she knew not why Lysander
and Demetrius, who both before loved her, were now become the lovers of
Helena; and to Hermia the matter seemed to be no jest.
The ladies, who before had always been the dearest of friends, now fell
to high words together.
20 Tales from Shakespeare.
"Unkind Hermia," said Helena, it is you have set Lysander on, to
vex me with mock praises; and your other lover Demetrius, who used
almost to spurn me with his foot, have you not bid him to call me Goddess,
Nymph, rare, precious, and celestial ? He would not speak thus to me
whom he hates, if you did not set him on to make a jest of me. Unkind
Hermia, to join with men in scorning your poor friend. Have you forgot
our school-day friendship? How often, Hermia, have we two, sitting on
one cushion, both singing one song, with our needles working the same
flower, both on the same sampler wrought; growing up together in fashion
of a double cherry, scarcely seeming parted ? Hermia, it is not friendly
in you, it is not maidenly to join with men in scorning your poor friend."
"I am amazed at your passionate words," said Hermia : "I scorn you
not; it seems you scorn me." "Aye, do," returned Helena, "persevere,
counterfeit serious looks, and make mouths at me when I turn my back;.
then wink at each other, and hold the sweet jest up. If you had any pity,
grace, or manners, you would not use me thus."
While Helena and Hermia were speaking these angry words to each
other, Demetrius and Lysander left them, to fight together in the wood for
the love of Helena.
When they found the gentlemen had left them, they departed, and once
more wandered weary in the wood in search of their lovers.
As soon as they were gone, the fairy king, who with little Puck had
been listening to their quarrels, said to him, This is your negligence, Puck;
or did you do this wilfully ?" Believe me, king of shadows," answered
Puck, "it was a mistake: did not you tell me I should know the man by
his Athenian garments ? However, I am not sorry this has happened, for
I think their jangling makes excellent sport." You heard," said Oberon,
"that Demetrius and Lysander are gone to seek a convenient place to
fight in. I command you to overhang the night with a thick fog, and
lead these quarrelsome lovers so astray in the dark, that they shall not be
able to find each other. Counterfeit each of their voices to the other, and
with bitter taunts provoke them to follow you, while they think it is their
rival's tongue they hear. See you do this, till they are so weary they can
A Midsummer Night's Dream. 21
go no farther; and when you find they are asleep, drop the juice of this
other flower into Lysander's eyes, and when he awakes he will forget his
new love for Helena, and return to his old passion for Hermia; and then
the two fair ladies may each one be happy with the man she loves, and they
will think all that has passed a vexatious dream. About this quickly, Puck;
and I will go and see what sweet love my Titania has found."
Titania was still sleeping, and Oberon seeing a clown near her, who
had lost his way in the wood, and was likewise asleep:" This fellow," said
he, "shall be my Titania's true-love;" and clapping an ass's head over the
clown's, it seemed to fit him as well as if it had grown upon his own
shoulders. Though Oberon fixed the ass's head on very gently, it awakened
him, and rising up, unconscious of what Oberon had done to him, he went
towards the bower where the fairy queen slept.
"Ah what angel is that I see ?" said Titania, opening her eyes, and the
juice of the little purple flower beginning to take effect: "Are you as wise
as you are beautiful ?"
"Why, mistress," said the foolish clown, "if I have wit enough to find
the way out of this wood, I have enough to serve my turn."
"Out of the wood do not desire to go," said the enamoured queen. I
am a spirit of no common rate. I love you. Go with me, and I will give
you fairies to attend upon you."
She then called four of her fairies; their names were Peas-blossom,
Cobweb, Moth, and Mustard-seed.
"Attend," said the queen, "upon this sweet gentleman; hop in his walks,
and gambol in his sight; feed him with grapes and apricots, and steal for
him the honey-bags from the bees. Come, sit with me," said she to the
clown, "and let me play with your amiable hairy cheeks, my beautiful ass !
and kiss your fair large ears, my gentle joy!"
"Where is Peas-blossom ?" said the ass-headed clown; not much
regarding the fairy queen's courtship, but very proud of his new attendants.
Here, sir," said little Peas-blossom.
"Scratch my head," said the clown. "Where is Cobweb ?"
Here, sir," said Cobweb.
22 Tales from Shakespeare.
"Good Mr. Cobweb," said the foolish clown, kill me the red humble-bee
on the top of that thistle yonder; and, good Mr. Cobweb, bring me the
honey-bag. Do not fret yourself too much in the action, Mr. Cobweb, and
take care the honey-bag break not; I should be sorry to have you overflown
with a honey-bag. Where is Mustard-seed ?"
Here, sir," said Mustard-seed; what is your will ?"
"Nothing," said the clown, "good Mr. Mustard-seed, but to help Mr.
Peas-blossom to scratch : I must go to a barber's, Mr. Mustard-seed, for
methinks' I am marvellous hairy about the face."
"My sweet love," said the queen, "what will you have to eat ? I have
a venturous fairy that shall seek the squirrel's hoard, and fetch you
some new nuts,"
"I had rather have a handful of dried peas," said the clown, who with
his ass's head had got an ass's appetite. "But, I pray, let none of your
people disturb me, for I have a mind to sleep."
Sleep, then," said the queen, and I will wind you in my arms. Oh how
I love you How I dote upon you! "
When the fairy king saw the clown sleeping in the arms of his queen,
he advanced within her sight, and reproached her with having lavished her
favours upon an ass.
This she could not deny, as the clown was then sleeping within her
arms, with his ass's head crowned by her with flowers.
When Oberon had teased her for some time, he again demanded the
changeling-boy; which she, ashamed of being discovered by her lord with
her new favourite, did not dare to refuse him.
Oberon, having thus obtained the little boy he had so long wished for
to be his page, took pity on the disgraceful situation into which, by his merry
contrivance, he had brought his Titania, and threw some of the juice of
the other flower into her eyes; and the fairy queen immediately recovered
her senses, and wondered at her late dotage, saying how she now loathed the
sight of the strange monster.
Oberon likewise took the ass's head from off the clown, and left him
to finish his nap with his own fool's head upon his shoulders.
A Midsummer Night's Dream. 23
Oberon and his Titania being now perfectly reconciled, he related to her
the history of the lovers, and their midnight quarrels; and she agreed to
go with him, and see the end of their adventures.
The fairy king and queen found the lovers and their fair ladies, at no
great distance from each other, sleeping on a grass-plot; for Puck, to make
amends for his former mistake, had contrived with the utmost diligence to
bring them to all the same spot, unknown to each other; and he had care-
fully removed the charm from off the eyes of Lysander with the antidote
the fairy king gave to him.
Hermia first awoke, and finding her lost Lysander asleep so near her,
was looking at him and wondering at his strange inconstancy. Lysander
presently opened his eyes, and seeing his dear Hermia, recovered his reason
which the fairy-charm had before clouded, and with his reason, his love for
Hermia; and they began to talk over the adventures of the night, doubting
if these things had really happened, or if they had both been dreaming the
same bewildering dream.
Helena and Demetrius were by this time awake; and a sweet sleep
"having quieted Helena's disturbed and angry spirits, she listened with delight
to the professions of love which Demetrius still made to her, and which to
her surprise as well as pleasure, she began to perceive were sincere.
These fair night-wandering ladies, now no longer rivals, became once
more true friends ; all the unkind words which had past were forgiven, and
they calmly consulted together what was best to be done in their present
situation. It was soon agreed that, as Demetrius had given up his pre-
tentions to Hermia, he should endeavour to prevail upon her father to revoke
the cruel sentence of death which had been passed against her. Demetrius
was preparing to return to Athens for this friendly purpose, when they were
surprised with the sight of Egeus, Hermia's father, who came to the wood in
pursuit of his runaway daughter.
When Egeus understood that Demetrius would not now marry his
daughter, he no longer opposed her marriage with Lysander, but gave his
consent that they should be wedded on the fourth day from that time, being
the same day on which Hermia had been condemned to lose her life; and on
24 Tales from Shakespeare.
that same day Helena joyfully agreed to marry her beloved and now faithful
The fairy king and queen, who were invisible spectators of this recon-
ciliation, and now saw the happy ending of the lovers' history brought about
through the good offices of Oberon, received so much pleasure, that these
kind spirits resolved to celebrate the approaching nuptials with sports and
revels throughout their fairy kingdom.
And now, if any are offended with this story of fairies and their pranks,
as judging it incredible and strange, they have only to think that they have
been asleep and dreaming, and that all these adventures were visions
which they saw in their sleep: and I hope none of my readers will be
so unreasonable as to be offended with a' pretty harmless Midsummer
TALE THE THIRD.
THE WINTER'S TALE.
Harmony together. So happy was Leontes in the
ungratified, except that he sometimes desired to see again, and to present to
,.: ..,, ,jg
"EONTES,king of Sicily, and his queen, the beautiful
iiand virtuous Hermione, once lived in the greatest
love of this excellent lady, that he had no wish
his queen, his old companion and school-fellow, Polixenes, king of Bohemia.
Ll } -:-" i}'5
:7 '*,,,,- jr~i~
EOTS igo iiy n uetebatifl/
Shron ogte. ohap wsLone i h
Slv fti xcletldtath a ows
unrtiid exep that he sometime desredtose aan, auund~to parent
hisi quen his ol copno an scofloPlxnekn fBhma
26 Tales from Shakespeare.
Leontes and Polixenes were brought up together from their infancy, but being
by the death of their fathers called to reign over their respective kingdoms,
they had not met for many years, though they frequently interchanged gifts,
letters, and loving embassies.
At length, after repeated invitations, Polixenes came from Bohemia to
the Sicilian court, to make his friend Leontes a visit.
At first this visit gave nothing but pleasure to Leontes. He recom-
mended the friend of his youth to the queen's particular attention, and
seemed in- the presence of his dear friend and old companion to have his
felicity quite completed. They talked over old times; their school-days and
their youthful pranks were remembered, and recounted to Hermione, who
always took a cheerful part in these conversations.
When, after a long stay, Polixenes was preparing to depart, Hermione,
at the desire of her husband, joined her entreaties to his that Polixenes would
prolong his visit.
And now began this good queen's sorrow; for Polixenes, refusing to stay
at the request of Leontes, was won over by Hermione's gentle and persuasive
words to put off his departure for some weeks longer. Upon this, although
Leontes had so long known the integrity and honourable principles of his
friend Polixenes, as well as the excellent disposition of his virtuous queen, he
was seized with an ungovernable jealousy. Every attention Hermione showed
to Polixenes, though by her husband's particular desire, and merely to please
him, increased the unfortunate king's jealousy; and from being a loving and
"a true friend, and the best and fondest of husbands, Leontes became suddenly
"a savage and inhuman monster. Sending for Camillo, one of the lords of
his court, and telling him of the suspicion he entertained, he commanded him
to poison Polixenes.
Camillo was a good man; and he, well knowing that the jealousy of
Leontes had not the slightest foundation in truth, instead of poisoning
Polixenes, acquainted him with the king his master's orders, and agreed
to escape with him out of the Sicilian dominions; and Polixenes, with the
assistance of Camillo, arrived safe in his own kingdom of Bohemia, where
Camillo lived from that time in the king's court, and became the chief
friend and favourite of Polixenes.
The Winter's Tale. 27
The flight of Polixenes enraged the jealous Leontes still more; he
went to the queen's apartment, where the good lady was sitting with her
little son Mamillus, who was just beginning to tell one of his best stories
to amuse his mother, when the king entered, and taking the child away,
sent Hermione to prison.
Mamillus, though but a very young child, loved his mother tenderly;
and when he saw her so dishonoured, and found she was taken from him
to be put into a prison, he took it deeply to heart, and drooped and pined
away by slow degrees, losing his appetite and his sleep, till it was thought
his grief would kill him.
The king, when he had sent his queen to prison, commanded Cleo-
menes and Dion, two Sicilian lords, to go to Delphos, there to inquire
of the oracle at the temple of Apollo, if his queen had been unfaithful
When Hermione had been a short time in prison, she was brought
to bed of a daughter; and the poor lady received much comfort from
the sight of her pretty baby, and she said to it, My poor little prisoner,
I am as innocent as you are."
Hermione had a kind friend in the noble-spirited Paulina, who was
the wife of Antigonus, a Sicilian lord: and when the lady Paulina heard
her royal mistress was brought to bed, she went to the prison where
Hermione was confined; and she said to Emilia, a lady who attended
upon Hermione, "I pray you, Emilia, tell the good queen, if her majesty
dare trust me with her little babe, I will carry it to the king its father;
we do not know how he may soften at the sight of his innocent child."
"Most worthy madam," replied Emilia, "I will acquaint the queen with
your noble offer; she was wishing to-day that she had any friend who
would venture to present the child to the king." "And tell her," said
Paulina, "that I will speak boldly to Leontes in her defence." "May
you be for ever blessed," said Emilia, "for your kindness to our gracious
queen!" Emilia then went to Hermione, who joyfully gave up her baby
to the care of Paulina, for she had feared that no one would dare venture
to present the child to its father.
28 Tales from Shakespeare.
Paulina took the new-born infant, and forcing herself into the king's
presence, notwithstanding her husband, fearing the king's anger, endea-
voured to prevent her, she laid the babe at its father's feet, and Paulina
made a noble speech to the king in defence of Hermione, and she reproached
him severely for his inhumanity, and implored him to have mercy on his
innocent wife and child. But Paulina's spirited remonstrances only aggra-
vated Leontes' displeasure, and he ordered her husband Antigonus to
take her from his presence.
When Paulina went away, she left the little baby at its father's feet,
thinking, when he was alone with it, he would look upon it, and have pity
on its helpless innocence.
The good Paulina was mistaken; for no sooner was she gone than
the merciless father ordered Antigonus, Paulina's husband, to take the
child, and carry it out to sea, and leave it upon some desert shore to perish.
Antigonus, unlike the good Camillo, too well obeyed the orders of
Leontes; for he immediately carried the child on ship-board, and put out
to sea, intending to leave it on the first desert coast he could find.
So firmly was the king persuaded of the guilt of Hermione, that he
would not wait for the return of Cleomenes and Dion, whom he had sent
to consult the oracle of Apollo at Delphos; but before the queen was
recovered from her lying-in, and from her grief for the loss of her precious
baby, he had her brought to a public trial before all the lords and nobles
of his court. And when all the great lords, the judges, and all the nobility
of the land were assembled together to try Hermione, and that unhappy
queen was standing as a prisoner before her subjects to receive their
judgment, Cleomenes and Dion entered the assembly, and presented to
the king the answer of the oracle sealed up; and Leontes commanded
the seal to be broken, and the words of the oracle to be read aloud, and
these were the words :-" Hermione is innocent, Polixenes blameless, Camillo
a true subject, Leontes a jealous tyrant, and the king shall live without an
teir if that which is lost be not found." The king would give no credit
to the words of the oracle: he said it was a falsehood invented by the
queen's friends, and he desired the judge to proceed in the trial of the
The Winter's Tale. 29
queen; but while Leontes was speaking, a man entered and told him that
the prince Mamillus, hearing his mother was to be tried for her life, struck
with grief and shame, had suddenly died.
Hermione, upon hearing of the death of this dear affectionate child,
who had lost his life in sorrowing for her misfortune, fainted; and Leontes,
pierced to the heart by the news, began to feel pity for his unhappy
queen, and he ordered Paulina, and the ladies who were her attendants, to
take her away, and use means for her recovery. Paulina soon returned,
and told the king that Hermione was dead.
When Leontes heard that the queen was dead, he repented of his
cruelty to her; and now that he thought his ill usage had broken Her-
mione's heart, he believed her innocent; and he now thought the words
of the oracle were true, as he knew "if that which was lost was not found,"
which he concluded was his young daughter, he should be without an
heir, the young prince Mamillus being dead; and he would give his
kingdom now to recover his lost daughter: and Leontes gave himself up
to remorse, and passed many years in mournful thoughts and repentant grief.
The ship in which Antigonus carried the infant princess out to sea,
was driven by a storm upon the coast of Bohemia, the very kingdom of the
good king Polixenes. Here Antigonus landed, and here he left the little baby.
Antigonus never returned to Sicily to tell Leontes where he had left
his daughter, for as he was going back to the ship, a bear came out of the
woods, and tore him to pieces; a just punishment on him for obeying the
wicked order of Leontes.
The child was dressed in rich clothes and jewels; for Hermione had
made it very fine when she sent it to Leontes, and Antigonus had pinned
a paper to its mantle, with the name of Perdita written thereon, and words
obscurely intimating its high birth and untoward fate.
This poor deserted baby was found by a shepherd. He was a humane
man, and so he carried the little Perdita home to his wife, who nursed it
tenderly: but poverty tempted the shepherd to conceal the rich prize he had
found : therefore he left that part of the country, that no one might know
where he got his riches, and with part of Perdita's jewels he bought herds
30 Tales from Shakespeare.
of sheep, and became a wealthy shepherd. He brought up Perdita as his
own child, and she knew not she was any other than a shepherd's daughter.
The little Perdita grew up a lovely maiden; and though she had no
better education than that of a shepherd's daughter, yet so did the natural
graces she inherited from her royal mother shine forth in her untutored
mind, that no one from her behaviour would have known she had not
been brought up in her father's court.
Polixenes, the king of Bohemia, had an only son, whose name was
Florizel. As this young prince was hunting near the shepherd's dwelling
he saw the old man's supposed daughter; and the beauty, modesty, and
queen-like deportment of Perdita caused him instantly to fall in love with
her. He soon, under the name of Doricles, and in the disguise of a private
gentleman, became a constant visitor at the old shepherd's house.
Florizel's frequent absences from court alarmed Polixenes; and setting
people to watch his son, he discovered his love for the shepherd's fair
Polixenes then called for Camillo, the faithful Camillo, who had pre-
served his life from the fury of Leontes; and desired that he would accom-
pany him to the house of the shepherd, the supposed father of Perdita.
Polixenes and Camillo, both in disguise, arrived at the old shepherd's
dwelling while they were celebrating the feast of sheep-shearing; and
though they were strangers,' yet at the sheep-shearing every guest being
made welcome, they were invited to walk in, and join in the general
Nothing but mirth and jollity was going forward. Tables were spread,
and great preparations were making for the rustic feast. Some lads and
lasses were dancing on the green before the house, while others of the
young men were buying ribands, gloves, and such toys, of a pedlar at
While this busy scene was going forward, Florizel and Perdita sat quietly
in a retired corner, seemingly more pleased with the conversation of each
other, than desirous of engaging in the sports and silly amusements of those
The Winter's Tale. 31
The king was so disguised that it was impossible his son could know
him; he therefore advanced near enough to hear the conversation. The
simple yet elegant manner in which Perdita conversed with his son did not a
little surprise Polixenes : he said to Camillo, "This is the prettiest low-born
lass I ever saw; nothing she does or says but looks like something greater
than herself, too noble for this place."
Camillo replied, Indeed she is the very queen of curds and cream."
"Pray, my good friend," said the king to the old shepherd, "what fair
swain is that talking with your daughter?" "They call him Doricles,"
replied the shepherd. "He says he loves my daughter; and to speak truth
there is not a kiss to choose which loves the other best. If young Doricles
can get her, she shall bring him that he little dreams of:" meaning the
remainder of Perdita's jewels; which, after he had bought herds of sheep
with part of them, he had carefully hoarded up for her marriage-portion.
Polixenes then addressed his son. How now, young man !" said he:
"your heart seems full of something that takes off your mind from feasting.
When I was young, I used to load my love with presents; but you have let
the pedlar go, and have bought your lass no toy."
The young prince, who little thought he was talking to the king his father,
replied, "Old sir, she prizes not such trifles; the gifts which Perdita expects
from me are locked up in my heart." Then turning to Perdita, he said to
her, "Oh, hear me, Perdita, before this ancient gentleman, who it seems was
once himself a lover; he shall hear what I profess." Florizel then called
upon the old stranger to be a witness to a solemn promise of marriage which
he made to Perdita, saying to Polixenes, I pray you, mark our contract."
"Mark your divorce, young sir," said the king, discovering himself.
Polixenes then reproached his son for daring to contract himself to this
low-born maiden, calling Perdita "shepherd's-brat, sheep-hook," and other
disrespectful names; and threatening, if ever she suffered his son to see her
again, he would put her, and the old shepherd her father, to a cruel death.
The king then left them in great wrath, and ordered Camillo to follow
him with prince Florizel.
When the king had departed, Perdita, whose royal nature was roused by
32 Tales from Shakespeare.
Polixenes's reproaches, said, "Though we are all undone, I was not much
afraid; and once or twice I was about to speak, and tell him plainly that the
self-same sun which shines upon his palace, hides not his face from our
cottage, but looks on both alike." Then sorrowfully she said, "But now
I am awakened from this dream, I will queen it no farther. Leave me, sir;
I will go -milk my ewes, and weep."
The kind-hearted Camillo was charmed with the spirit and propriety of
Perdita's behaviour; and perceiving that the young prince was too deeply in
love to give up his mistress at the command of his royal father, he thought
of a way to befriend the lovers, and at the same time to execute a favourite
scheme he had in his mind.
Camillo had long known that Leontes, the king of Sicily, was become a
true penitent; and though Camillo was now the favoured friend of king
Polixenes, he could not help wishing once more to see his late royal master
and his native home. He therefore proposed to Florizel and Perdita, that
they should accompany him to the Sicilian court, where he would engage
Leontes should protect them, till, through his mediation, they could obtain
pardon from Polixenes, and his consent to their marriage.
To this proposal they joyfully agreed; and Camillo, who conducted
everything relative to their flight, allowed the old shepherd to go along with
The shepherd took with him the remainder of Perdita's jewels, her baby
clothes, and the paper which he had found pinned to her mantle.
After a prosperous voyage, Florizel and Perdita, Camillo and the old
shepherd, arrived in safety at the court of Leontes. Leontes, who still
mourned his dead Hermione and his lost child, received Camillo with great
kindness, and gave a cordial welcome to prince Florizel. But Perdita, whom
Florizel introduced as his princess, seemed to engross all Leontes' attention:
perceiving a resemblance between her and his dead queen Hermione, his
grief broke out afresh, and he said, such a lovely creature might his own
daughter have been, if he had not so cruelly destroyed her. And then, too,"
said he to Florizel, "I lost the society and friendship of your brave father,
whom I now desire more than my life once again to look upon."
The Winter's Tale. 33
When the old shepherd heard how much notice the king had taken of
Perdita, and that he had lost a daughter, who was exposed in infancy, he fell
to comparing the time when he found the little Perdita, with the manner of
its exposure, the jewels and other tokens of its high birth; from all which
it was impossible for him not to conclude, that Perdita and the king's lost
daughter were the same.
Florizel and Perdita, Camillo and the faithful Paulina, were present
when the old shepherd related to the king the manner in which he had found
the child, and also the circumstance of Antigonus's death, he having seen
the bear seize upon him. He showed the rich mantle in which Paulina
remembered Hermione had wrapped the child; and he produced a jewel
which she remembered Hermione had tied about Perdita's neck, and he gave
up the paper which Paulina knew to be the writing of her husband; it could
not be doubted that Perdita was Leontes' own daughter: but oh! the noble
struggles of Paulina, between sorrow for her husband's death, and joy that
the oracle was fulfilled, in the king's heir, his long-lost daughter, being found.
When Leontes heard that Perdita was his daughter, the great sorrow that
he felt that Hermione was not living to behold her child, made him that he
could say nothing for a long time, but, "Oh, thy mother, thy mother!"
Paulina interrupted this joyful yet distressful scene, with saying to
Leontes, that she had a statue, newly finished by that rare Italian master,
Julio Romano, which was such a perfect resemblance of the queen, that
would his majesty be pleased to go to her house and look upon it, he would
almost be ready to think it was Hermione herself. Thither then they all
went; the king anxious to see the semblance of his Hermione, and Perdita
longing to behold what the mother she never saw, did look like.
When Paulina drew back the curtain which concealed this famous statue,
so perfectly did it resemble Hermione, that all the king's sorrow was renewed
at the sight: for a long time he had no power to speak or move.
"I like your silence, my liege," said Paulina; "it the more shows your
wonder. Is not this statue very like your queen ?"
At length the king said, Oh, thus she stood, even with such majesty,
when I first wooed her. But yet, Paulina, Hermione was not so aged as
34 Tales from Shakespeare.
this statue looks." Paulina replied, "So much the more the carver's
excellence, who has made the statue as Hermione would have looked
had she been living now. But let me draw the curtain, sire, lest presently
you think it moves."
The king 'then said, "Do not draw the curtain! Would I were dead!
See, Camillo, would you not think it breathed ? Her eye seems to have
motion in it." "I must draw the curtain, my liege," said Paulina. "You
are so transported, you will persuade yourself the statue lives." "Oh, sweet
Paulina," -said Leontes, "make me think so twenty years together! Still
methinks there is an air comes from her. What fine chisel could ever yet
cut breath? Let no man mock me, for I will kiss her." "Good my
lord, forbear!" said Paulina. "The ruddiness upon her lip is wet; you
will stain your own with oily painting. Shall I draw the curtain? "No,
not these twenty years," said Leontes.
Perdita, who all this time had been kneeling, and beholding in silent
admiration the statue of her matchless mother, said now, "And so long
could I stay here, looking upon my dear mother."
"Either forbear this transport," said Paulina to Leontes, "and let me
draw the curtain, or prepare yourself for more amazement. I can make
the statue move indeed; ay, and descend from off the pedestal, and take
you by the hand. But then you will think, which I protest I am not, that
I am assisted by some wicked powers."
"What you can make her do," said the astonished king, I am content
to look upon. What you can make her speak, I am content to hear; for it
is as easy to make her speak as move."
Paulina then ordered some slow and solemn music, which she had
prepared for the purpose, to strike up; and to the amazement of all the
beholders, the statue came down from off the pedestal, and threw its arms
around Leontes' neck. The statue then began to speak, praying for blessings
on her husband, and on her child, the newly found Perdita.
No wonder that the statue hung upon Leontes' neck, and blessed her
husband and her child. No wonder; for the statue was indeed Hermione
herself, the real, the living queen.
The Winter's Tale. 35
Paulina had falsely reported to the king the death of Hermione, thinking
that the only means to preserve her royal mistress's life; and with the good
Paulina, Hermione had lived ever since, never choosing Leontes should know
she was living, till she heard Perdita was found; for though she had long
forgiven the injuries which Leontes had done to herself, she could not pardon
his cruelty to his infant daughter.
His dead queen thus restored to life, his lost daughter found, the long-
sorrowing Leontes could scarcely support the excess of his own happiness.
Nothing but congratulations and affectionate speeches were heard on all
sides. Now the delighted parents thanked prince Florizel for loving their
lowly-seeming daughter; and now they blessed the good old shepherd for
preserving their child. Greatly did Camilla and Paulina rejoice, that they
had lived to see so good an end of all their faithful services.
And as if nothing should be wanting to complete this strange and
unlooked-for joy, king Polixenes himself now entered the palace.
When Polixenes first missed his son and Camillo, knowing that Camillo
had long wished to return to Sicily, he conjectured he should find the
fugitives there; and following them with all speed, he happened to arrive
just at this, the happiest moment of Leontes' life.
Polixenes took a part in the general joy; he forgave his friend Leontes
the unjust jealousy he had conceived against him, and they once more loved
each other with all the warmth of their first boyish friendship. And there
was no fear that Polixenes would now oppose his son's marriage with
Perdita. She was no "sheep-hook" now, but the heiress of the crown
Thus have we seen the patient virtues of the long-suffering Hermione
rewarded. That excellent lady lived many years with her Leontes and her
Perdita, the happiest of mothers and of queens.
TALE THE FOURTH.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
HERE lived in the palace at
S Messina two ladies, whose names
were Hero and Beatrice. Hero
was the daughter, and Beatrice the niece, of Leonato, the governor of
Beatrice was of a lively temper, and loved to divert her cousin Hero
who was of a more serious disposition, with her sprightly sallies. Whatever
was going forward was sure to make matter of mirth for the light-hearted
Much Ado about Nothing. 37
At the time the history of these ladies commences, some young men
of high rank in the army, as they were passing through Messina on their
return from a war that was just ended, in which they had distinguished
themselves by their great bravery, came to visit Leonato. Among these
were Don Pedro, the prince of Arragon, and his friend Claudio, who was
a lord of Florence; and with them came the wild and witty Benedick,
and he was a lord of Padua.
These strangers had been at Messina before, and the hospitable
governor introduced them to his daughter and his niece as their old
friends and acquaintance.
Benedick, the moment he entered the room, began a lively conversation
with Leonato and the prince. Beatrice, who liked not to be left out of
any discourse, interrupted Benedick with saying, "I wonder that you will
still be talking, signior Benedick; nobody marks you." Benedick was just
such another rattle-brain as Beatrice, yet he was not pleased at this free
salutation: he thought it did not become a well-bred lady to be so flippant
with her tongue; and he remembered, when he was last at Messina, that
Beatrice used to select him to make her merry jests upon. And as there
is no one who so little likes to be made a jest of as those who are apt
to take the same liberty themselves, so it was with Benedick and Beatrice;
these two sharp wits never met in former times but a perfect war of raillery
was kept up between them, and they always parted mutually displeased
with each other. Therefore when Beatrice stopped him in the middle of
his discourse with telling him nobody marked what he was saying, Benedick,
affecting not to have observed before that she was present, said, "What,
my dear lady Disdain, are you yet living?" And now war broke out
afresh between them, and a long jangling argument ensued, during which
Beatrice, although she knew he had so well approved his valour in the
late war, said that she would eat all he had killed there: and observing
the prince take delight in Benedick's conversation, she called him "the
prince's jester." This sarcasm sunk deeper into the mind of Benedick than
all Beatrice had said before. The hint she gave him that he was a coward,
by saying she would eat all he had killed, he did not regard, knowing
38 Tales from Shakespeare.
himself to be a brave man: but there is nothing that great wits so much
dread as the imputation of buffoonery, because the charge comes sometimes
a little too near the truth: therefore Benedick perfectly hated Beatrice, when
she called him "the prince's jester."
The modest lady Hero was silent before the noble guests; and while
Claudio was attentively observing the improvement which time had made
in her beauty, and was contemplating the exquisite graces of her fine
figure (for she was an admirable young lady), the prince was highly amused
with listening to the humorous dialogue between Benedick and Beatrice;
and he said in a whisper to Leonato, "This is a pleasant-spirited young
lady. She were an excellent wife for Benedick." Leonato replied to this
suggestion, Oh, my lord, my lord, if they were but a week married, they
would talk themselves mad." But though Leonato thought they would
make a discordant pair, the prince did not give up the idea of matching
these two keen wits together.
When the prince returned with Claudio from the palace, he found that
the marriage he had devised between Benedick and Beatrice was not the
only one projected in that good company, for Claudio spoke in such terms
of Hero, as made the prince guess at what was passing in his heart; and
he liked it well, and he said to Claudio, Do you affect Hero?" To this
question Claudio replied, Oh, my lord, when I was last at Messina, I
looked upon her with a soldier's eye, that liked, but had no leisure for
loving; but now, in this happy time of peace, thoughts of war have left
their places vacant in my mind, and in their room come thronging soft
and delicate thoughts, all prompting me how fair young Hero is, reminding
me that I liked her before I went to the wars." Claudio's confession of
his love for Hero so wrought upon the prince, 'that he lost no time in
soliciting the consent of Leonato to accept of Claudio for a son-in-law.
Leonato agreed to this proposal, and the prince found no great difficulty
in persuading the gentle Hero herself to listen to the suit of the noble
Claudio, who was a lord of rare endowments, and highly accomplished;
and Claudio, assisted by his kind prince, soon prevailed upon Leonato to
fix an early day for the celebration of his marriage with Hero.
Muck Ado about Nothing. 39
Claudio was to wait but a few days before he was to be married to
his fair lady; yet he complained of the interval being tedious, as indeed
most young men are impatient, when they are waiting for the accomplish-
ment of any event they have set their hearts upon : the prince therefore,
to make the time seem short to him, proposed as a kind of merry pastime,
that they should invent some artful scheme to make Benedick and Beatrice
fall in love with each other. Claudio entered with great satisfaction into
this whim of the prince, and Leonato promised them his assistance, and
even Hero said she would do any modest office to help her cousin to a
The device the prince invented was, that the gentlemen should make
Benedick believe that Beatrice was in love with him, and that Hero should
make Beatrice believe that Benedick was in love with her.
The prince, Leonato, and Claudio began their operations first, and
watching an opportunity when Benedick was quietly seated reading in an
arbour, the prince and his assistants took their station among the trees
behind the arbour, so near that Benedick could not choose but hear all
they said; and after some careless talk the prince said, "Come hither,
Leonato. What was it you told me the other day that your niece
Beatrice was in love with signior Benedick ? I did never think that lady
would have loved any man." "No, nor I neither, my lord," answered
Leonato. It is most wonderful that she should so dote on Benedick,
whom she in all outward behaviour seemed ever to dislike." Claudio
confirmed all this, with saying that Hero had told him Beatrice was so in
love with Benedick, that she would certainly die of grief, if he could not
be brought to love her: which Leonato and Claudio seemed to agree was
impossible, he having always been such a railer against all fair ladies, and
in particular against Beatrice.
The prince affected to hearken to all this with great compassion for
Beatrice, and he said, It were good that Benedick were told of this." "To
what end ?" said Claudio; "he would but make sport of it, and torment
the poor lady worse." "And if he should," said the prince, "it were a
good deed to hang him; for Beatrice is an excellent sweet lady, and
40 Tales from Shakespeare.
exceeding wise in everything but in loving Benedick." Then the prince
motioned to his companions that they should walk on, and leave Benedick
to meditate upon what he had overheard.
Benedick had been listening with great eagerness to this conversation;
and he said to himself when he heard Beatrice loved him, Is it possible ?
Sits the wind in that corner ?" And when they were gone, he began to
reason in this manner with himself. "This can be no trick! they were
very serious, and they have the truth from Hero, and seem to pity the lady.
Love me! Why, it must be requited! I did never think to marry. But
when I said I should die a bachelor, I did not think I should live to be
married. They say the lady is virtuous and fair. She is so. And wise
in everything but in loving me. Why, that is no great argument of her
folly. But here comes Beatrice. By this day, she is a fair lady. I do
spy some marks of love in her." Beatrice now approached him, and said
with her usual tartness, "Against my will I am sent to bid you come in
to dinner." Benedick, who never felt himself disposed to speak so politely
to her before, replied, "Fair Beatrice, I thank you for your pains:" and
when Beatrice after two or three more rude speeches left him, Benedick
thought he observed a concealed meaning of kindness under the uncivil
words she uttered, and he said aloud, If I do not take pity on her, I am
a villain. If I do not love her, I am a Jew. I will go get her picture."
The gentleman being thus caught in the net they had spread for him,
it was now Hero's turn to play her part with Beatrice; and for this purpose
she sent for Ursula and Margaret, two gentlewomen who attended upon
her, and she said to Margaret, "Good Margaret; run to the parlour; there
you will find my cousin Beatrice talking with the prince and Claudio.
Whisper in her ear, that I and Ursula are walking in the orchard, and
that our discourse is all of her. Bid her steal into that pleasant arbour,
where honeysuckles, ripened by the sun, like ungrateful minions, forbid
the sun to enter." This arbour, into which Hero desired Margaret to entice
Beatrice, was the very same pleasant arbour where Benedick had so lately
been an attentive listener. "I will make her come, I warrant, presently,"
Muck Ado about Nothing. 41
Hero, then taking Ursula with her into the orchard, said to her, Now,
Ursula, when Beatrice comes, we will walk up and down this alley, and our
talk must be only of Benedick, and when I name him, let it be your part to
praise him more than ever man did merit. My talk to you must be how
Benedick is in love with Beatrice. Now begin; for look where Beatrice
like a lapwing runs close by the ground, to hear our conference." They
then began; Hero saying, as if in answer to something which Ursula had
said, No, truly, Ursula. She is too disdainful; her spirits are as coy as
wild birds of the rock." "But are you sure," said Ursula, "that Benedick
loves Beatrice so entirely ?" Hero replied, "So says the prince, and my
lord Claudio, and they entreated me to acquaint her with it; but I persuaded
them, if they loved Benedick, never to let Beatrice know of it." Certainly,"
replied Ursula, "it were not good she knew his love, lest she made sport
of it." Why, to say truth," said Hero, I never yet saw a man, how wise
soever, or noble, young or rarely featured, but she would dispraise him."
"Sure, sure, such carping is not commendable," said Ursula. "No," replied
Hero, "but who dare tell her so ? if I should speak, she would mock me
into air." "Oh, you wrong your cousin," said Ursula: "she cannot be so
much without true judgment, as to refuse so rare a gentleman as signior
Benedick." He hath an excellent good name," said Hero : "indeed, he
is the first man in Italy, always excepting my dear Claudio." And now,
Hero giving her attendant a hint that it was time to change the discourse,
Ursula said, "And when are you to be married, madam ? Hero then told
her, that she was to be married to Claudio the next day, and desired she
would go in with her, and look at some new attire, as she wished to consult
with her on what she would wear on the morrow. Beatrice, who had been
listening with breathless eagerness to this dialogue, when they went away,
exclaimed, "What fire is in my ears ? Can this be true ? Farewell, con-
tempt, and scorn and maiden pride, adieu! Benedick, love on! I will
requite you, taming my wild heart to your loving hand."
It must have been a pleasant sight to see these old enemies converted
into new and loving friends; and to behold their first meeting after being
cheated into mutual liking by the merry artifice of the good-humoured
42 Tales from Shakespeare.
prince. But a sad reverse in the fortunes of Hero must now be thought
of. The morrow, which was to have been her wedding day, brought sorrow
on the heart of Hero and her good father Leonato.
The prince had a half-brother, who came from the wars along with
him to Messina. This brother (his name was Don John) was a melancholy,
discontented man, whose spirits seemed to labour in the contriving of
villainies. He hated the prince his brother, and he hated Claudio, because
he was the prince's friend, and determined to prevent Claudio's marriage
with Hero, only for the. malicious pleasure of making Claudio and the
prince unhappy; for he knew the prince had set his heart upon this
marriage, almost as much as Claudio himself: and to effect this wicked
purpose, he employed one Borachio, a man as bad as himself, whom he
encouraged with the offer of a great reward. This Borachio paid his
court to Margaret, Hero's attendant; and Don John, knowing this, prevailed
upon him to make Margaret promise to talk with him from her lady's
chamber window that night, after Hero was asleep, and also to dress
herself in Hero's clothes, the better to deceive Claudio into the belief
that it was Hero; for that was the end he meant to compass by this
Don John then went to the prince and Claudio, and told them that
Hero was an imprudent lady, and that she talked with men from her
chamber window at midnight. Now this was the evening before the wedding,
and he offered to take them that night, where they should themselves hear
Hero discoursing with a man from her windoiv; and they consented to
go along with him, and Claudio said, "If I see anything to-night why I
should not marry her, to-morrow in the congregation, where I intended to
wed her, there will I shame her." The prince also said, And as I assisted
you to obtain her, I will join with you to disgrace her."
When Don John brought them near Hero's chamber that night, they
sawBorachio standing under the window, and they saw Margaret looking
out of Hero's window, and heard her talking with Borachio; and Margaret
being dressed in the same clothes they had seen Hero wear, the prince
and Claudio believed it was the lady Hero herself.
Much Ado about Nothing. 43
Nothing could equal the anger of Claudio, when he had made (as he
thought) this discovery. All his love for the innocent Hero was at once
converted into hatred, and he resolved to expose her in the church, as he
had said he would, the next day; and the prince agreed to this, thinking
no punishment could be too severe for the naughty lady, who talked with
a man from her window the very night before she was going to be married
to the noble Claudio.
The next day, when they were all met to celebrate the marriage, and
Claudio and Hero were standing before the priest, and the priest, or friar,
as he was called, was proceeding to pronounce the marriage-ceremony,
Claudio, in the most passionate language, proclaimed the guilt of the
blameless Hero, who, amazed at the strange words he uttered, said meekly,
"Is my lord well, that he does speak so wide ?"
Leonato, in the utmost horror, said to the prince, My lord, why speak
not you ?" "What should I speak ?" said the prince; I stand dishonoured,
that have gone about to link my dear friend to an unworthy woman.
Leonato, upon my honour, myself, my brother, and this grieved Claudio,
did see and hear her last night at midnight talk with a man at her
Benedick, in astonishment at what he heard, said, "This looks not
like a nuptial."
"True, O God!" replied the heart-struck Hero; and then this hapless
lady sunk down in a fainting fit, to all appearance dead. The prince and
Claudio left the church, without staying to see if Hero would recover, or
at all regarding the distress into which they had thrown Leonato. So
hard-hearted had their anger made them.
Benedick remained, and assisted Beatrice to recover Hero from her
swoon, saying, "How does the lady?" "Dead, I think," replied Beatrice
in great agony, for she loved her cousin; and knowing her virtuous
principles, she believed nothing of what she had heard spoken against her.
Not so the poor old father; he believed the story of his child's shame,
and it was piteous to hear him lamenting over her, as she lay like one dead
before him, wishing she might never more open her eyes.
44 Tales from Shakespeare.
But the ancient friar was a wise man, and full of observation on
human nature, and he had attentively marked the lady's countenance when
she heard herself accused, and noted a thousand blushing shames to start
into her face, and then he saw an angel-like whiteness bear away those
blushes, and in her eye he saw a fire that did belie the error that the
prince did speak against her maiden truth, and he said to the sorrowing
father, "Call me a fool; trust not my reading, nor my observation; trust
not my age, my reverence, nor my calling; if this sweet lady lie not guiltless
here under some biting error."
When Hero recovered from the swoon into which she had fallen, the
friar said to her, "Lady, what man is he you are accused of?" Hero
replied, "They know that do accuse me; I know of none:" then turning
to Leonato, she said, "Oh, my father, if you can prove that any man has
ever conversed with me at hours unmeet, or that I yesternight changed
words with any creature, refuse me, hate me, torture me to death."
"There is," said the friar, some strange misunderstanding in the prince
and Claudio;" and then he counselled Leonato that he should report that
Hero was dead; and he said, that the death-like swoon in which they had
left Hero would make this easy of belief; and he also advised him that
he should put on mourning, and erect a monument for her, and do all rites
that appertain to a burial. "What shall become of this ?" said Leonato;
"what will this do ?_" The friar replied, "This report of her death shall
change slander into pity: that is some good, but that is not all the good
I hope for. When Claudio shall hear she died upon hearing his words,
the idea of her life shall sweetly creep into his imagination. Then shall
he mourn, if ever love had interest in his heart, and wish he had not so
accused her; yea, though he thought his accusation true."
Benedick now said, Leonato, let the friar advise you; and though
you know how well I love the prince and Claudio, yet on my honour I will
not reveal this secret to them."
Leonato, thus persuaded, yielded; and he said sorrowfully, "I am so
grieved, that the smallest twine may lead me." The kind friar then led
Leonato and Hero away to comfort and console them, and Beatrice and
Much Ado about Nothing. 45
Benedick remained alone; and this was the meeting from which their
friends, who contrived the merry plot against them, expected so much
diversion; those friends who were now overwhelmed with affliction, and
from whose minds all thoughts of merriment seemed for ever banished.
Benedick was the first who spoke, and he said, "Lady Beatrice, have
you wept all this while ?" "Yea, and I will weep a while longer," said
Beatrice. "Surely," said Benedick, "I do believe your fair cousin is
wronged." "Ah!" said Beatrice, "how much might that man deserve
of me who would right her!" Benedick then said, "Is there any way
to show such friendship ? I do love nothing in the world so well as you:
is not that strange ?" "It were as possible," said Beatrice, for me to say
I loved nothing in the world so well as you; but believe me not, and yet
I lie not. I confess nothing, nor I deny nothing. I am sorry for my cousin."
" By my sword," said Benedick, "you love me, and I protest I love you.
Come, bid me do anything for you." Kill Claudio," said Beatrice. Ha!
not for the wide world," said Benedick: for he loved his friend Claudio,
and he believed he had been imposed upon. "Is not Claudio a villain,
*that has slandered, scorned, and dishonoured my cousin ?" said Beatrice.
"Oh that I were a man!" "Hear me, Beatrice!" said Benedick. But
Beatrice would hear nothing in Claudio's defence; and she continued to
urge on Benedick to revenge her cousin's wrongs : and she said, Talk with
a man out of the window; a proper saying! Sweet Hero she is wronged ;
she is slandered; she is undone. Oh that I were a man, for Claudio's sake!
or that I had any friend, who would be a man for my sake! but valour
is melted into courtesies and compliments. I cannot be a man with wishing,
therefore I will die a woman with grieving." "Tarry, good Beatrice," said
Benedick: "by this hand, I love you." Use it for my love some other
way than swearing by it," said Beatrice. "Think you in your soul, that
Claudio has wronged Hero ?" asked Benedick. Yea," answered Beatrice;
" as sure as I have a thought, or a soul." Enough," said Benedick ; "I am
engaged; I will challenge him. I will kiss your hand, and so leave you.
By this hand Claudio shall render me a dear account! As you hear from
me, so think of me. Go, comfort your cousin."
46 Tales from Shakespeare.
While Beatrice was thus powerfully pleading with Benedick, and working
his gallant temper, by the spirit of her angry words, to engage in the cause of
Hero, and fight even with his dear friend Claudio, Leonato was challenging
the prince and Claudio to answer with their swords the injury they had done
his child, who, he affirmed, had died for grief. But they respected his age
and his sorrow, and they said, Nay, do not quarrel with us, good old man."
And now came Benedick, and he also challenged Claudio to answer with his
sword the injury he had done to Hero: and Claudio and the prince said
to each other, "Beatrice has set him on to do this." Claudio nevertheless
must have accepted this challenge of Benedick, had not the justice of Heaven
at the moment brought to pass a better proof of the innocence of Hero than
the uncertain fortune of a duel.
While the prince and Claudio were yet talking of the challenge of
Benedick, a magistrate brought Borachio as a prisoner before the prince.
Borachio had been overheard talking with one of his companions of the
mischief he had been employed by Don John to do.
Borachio made a full confession to the prince in Claudio's hearing, that
it was Margaret dressed in her lady's clothes that he had talked with from the
window, whom they had mistaken for the lady Hero herself; and no doubt
continued on the minds of Claudio and the prince of the innocence of Hero.
If a suspicion had remained it must have been removed by the flight of Don
John, who, finding his villainies were detected, fled from Messina to avoid
the just anger of his brother.
The heart of Claudio was sorely grieved when he found he had falsely
accused Hero, who, he thought, died upon hearing his cruel words; and the
memory of his beloved Hero's image came over him, in the rare semblance
that he loved it first: and the prince asking him if what he heard did not run
like iron through his soul, he answered, that he felt as if he had taken poison
while Borachio was speaking.
And the repentant Claudio implored forgiveness of the old man Leonato
for the injury he had done his child; and promised, that whatever penance
Leonato would lay upon him for his fault in believing the false accusation
against his betrothed wife, for her dear sake he would endure it.
Much Ado about Nolting. 47
The penance of Leonato enjoined him was, to marry the next morning
a cousin of Hero's, who, he said, was now his heir, and in person very like
Hero. Claudio, regarding the solemn promise he had made to Leonato, said
he would marry this unknown lady, even though she were an Ethiop: but his
heart was very sorrowful, and he passed that night in tears, and in remorseful
grief, at the tomb which Leonato had erected for Hero.
When the morning came, the prince accompanied Claudio to the church,
where the good friar, and Leonato and his niece, were already assembled, to
celebrate a second nuptial: and Leonato presented to Claudio his promised
bride; and she wore a mask, that Claudio might not discover her face. And
Claudio said to the lady in the mask, Give me your hand, before this holy
friar; I am your husband, if you will marry me." "And when I lived I was
your other wife," said this unknown lady; and, taking off her mask, she
proved to be no niece (as was pretended), but Leonato's very daughter, the
lady Hero herself. We may be sure that this proved a most agreeable
surprise to Claudio, who thought her dead, so that he could scarcely for joy
believe his eyes: and the prince, who was equally amazed at what he saw,
.exclaimed, "Is not this Hero, Hero that was dead ? Leonato replied, She
died, my lord, but while her slander lived." The friar promised them an
explanation of this seeming miracle, after the ceremony was ended; and was
proceeding to marry them, when he was interrupted by Benedick, who desired
to be married at the same time to Beatrice. Beatrice making some demur to
this match, and Benedick challenging her with her love for him, which he had
learned from Hero, a pleasant explanation took place; and they found they
had both been tricked into a belief of love, which had never existed, and had
become lovers in truth by the power of a false jest: but the affection, which
a merry invention had cheated them into, was grown too powerful to be
shaken by a serious explanation; and since Benedick proposed to marry, he
was resolved to think nothing to the purpose that the world could say against
it; and he merrily kept up the jest, and swore to Beatrice that he took her
but for pity, and because he heard she was dying of love for him; and
Beatrice protested that she yielded but upon great persuasion, and partly to
save his life, for she heard he was in a consumption. So these two mad wits
48 Tales from Shakespeare.
were reconciled, and made a match of it, after Claudio and Hero were
married ; and to complete the history, Don John, the contriver of the villainy,
was taken in his flight, and brought back to Messina; and a brave punish-
ment it was to this gloomy, discontented man, to see the joy and feastings
which, by the disappointment of his plots, took place at the palace in
TALE THE FIFTH.
AS YOU LIKE IT.
URING the time that France was divided into provinces
(or dukedoms as they were called), there reigned in one
of these provinces an usurper, who had deposed and
banished his elder brother, the lawful duke.
The duke, who was thus driven from his dominions,
retired with a few faithful followers to the forest of
Arden ; and here the good duke lived with his loving
friends, who had put themselves into a voluntary exile for his sake,
while their lands and revenues enriched the false usurper; and custom soon
made the life of careless ease they led here more sweet to them than the
pomp and uneasy splendour of a courtier's life. Here they lived like the old
50 Tales from Shakespeare.
Robin Hood of England, and to this forest many noble youths daily resorted
from the court, and did fleet the time carelessly, as they did who lived in the
golden age. In the summer they lay along under the fine shade of the large
forest trees, marking the playful sports of the wild deer; and so fond were
they of these poor dappled fools, who seemed to be the native inhabitants of
the forest, that it grieved them to be forced to kill them to supply themselves
with venison for their food. When the cold winds of winter made the duke
feel the change of his adverse fortune, he would endure it patiently, and say,
" These chilling winds which blow upon my body are true counsellors; they
do not flatter, but represent truly to me my condition; and though they bite
sharply, their tooth is nothing like so keen as that of unkindness and
ingratitude. I find that, howsoever men speak against adversity, yet some
sweet uses are to be extracted from it; like the jewel, precious for medicine,
which is taken from the head of the venomous and despised toad." In this
manner did the patient duke draw an useful moral from everything that he
saw; and by the help of this moralizing turn, in that life of his, remote from
public haunts, he could find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
sermons in stones, and good in everything.
The banished duke had an only daughter, named Rosalind, whom the
usurper, Duke Frederick, when he banished her father, still retained in his
court as a companion for his own daughter Celia. A strict friendship
subsisted between these ladies, which the disagreement between their fathers
did not in the least interrupt, Celia striving by every kindness in her power to
make amends to Rosalind for the injustice of her own father in deposing the
father of Rosalind; and whenever the thoughts 'of her father's banishment,
and her own dependence on the false usurper, made Rosalind melancholy,
Celia's whole care was to comfort and console her.
One day, when Celia was talking in her usual kind manner to Rosalind,
saying, I pray you, Rosalind, my sweet cousin, be merry," a messenger
entered from the duke, to tell them that if they wished to see a wrestling
match, which was just going to begin, they must come instantly to the court
before the palace; and Celia, thinking it would amuse Rosalind, agreed to go
and see it.
As You Like It. 51
In those times wrestling, which is only practised now by country clowns,
was a favourite sport even in the courts of princes, and before fair ladies and
princesses. To this wrestling match, therefore, Celia and Rosalind went.
They found that it was likely to prove a very tragical sight; for a large and
powerful man, who had long been practised in the art of wrestling, and had
slain many men in contests of this kind, was just going to wrestle with a very
young man, who, from his extreme youth and inexperience in the art, the
beholders all thought would certainly be killed.
When the duke saw Celia and Rosalind, he said, "How now, daughter
and niece; are you crept hither to see the wrestling ? You will take little
delight in it, there is such odds in the men: in pity to this young man, I
would wish to persuade him from wrestling. Speak to him, ladies, and see
if you can move him."
The ladies were well pleased to perform this humane office, and first
Celia entreated the young stranger that he would desist from the attempt;
and then Rosalind spoke so kindly to him, and with such feeling consideration
for the danger he was about to undergo, that instead of being persuaded by
her gentle words to forego his purpose, all his thoughts were bent to
distinguish himself by his courage in this lovely lady's eyes. He refused the
request of Celia and Rosalind in such graceful and modest words, that they
felt still more concern for him ; he concluding his refusal with saying, I am
sorry to deny such fair and excellent ladies anything. But let your fair eyes
and gentle wishes go with me to my trial, wherein if I be conquered, there is
one shamed that was never gracious ; if I am killed, there is one dead that is
willing to die: I shall do my friends no wrong, for I have none to lament me;
the world no injury, for in it I have nothing; for I only fill up a place in the
world which may be better supplied when I have made it empty."
And now the wrestling match began. Celia wished the young stranger
might not be hurt; but Rosalind felt most for him. The friendless state
which he said he was in, and that he wished to die, made Rosalind think
that he was like herself unfortunate, and she pitied him so much, and so deep
an interest she took in his danger while he was wrestling, that she might
almost be said at that moment to have fallen in love with him.
52 Tales from Shakespeare.
The kindness shown this unknown youth by these fair and noble ladies
gave him courage and strength, so that he performed wonders; and in the
end completely conquered his antagonist, who was so much hurt, that for a
while he was unable to speak or move.
The duke Frederick was much pleased with the courage and skill shown
by this young stranger; and desired to know his name and parentage,
meaning to take him under his protection.
The stranger said his name was Orlando, and that he was the youngest
son of Sir Rowland de Boys.
Sir Rowland de Boys, the father of Orlando, had been dead some years;
but when he was living, he had been a true subject and dear friend of the
banished duke: therefore when Frederick heard Orlando was the son of his
banished brother's friend, all his liking for this brave young man was
changed into displeasure, and he left the place in very ill humour. Hating
to hear the very name of any of his brother's friends, and yet still admiring'
the valour of the youth, he said, as he went out, that he wished Orlando
had been the son of any other man.
Rosalind was delighted to hear that her new favourite was the son of her
father's old friend; and she said to Celia, "My father loved Sir Rowland
de Boys, and if I had known this young man was his son, I would have
added tears to my entreaties before he should have ventured."
The ladies then went up to him ; and seeing him abashed by the sudden
displeasure shown by the duke, they spoke kind and encouraging words to
him; and Rosalind, when they were going away, turned back to speak some
more civil things to the brave young son of her father's old friend; and
taking a chain from off her neck, she said, "Gentleman, wear this for me.
I am out of suits with fortune, or I would give you a more valuable present."
When the ladies were alone, Rosalind's talk being still of Orlando, Celia
began to perceive her cousin had fallen in love with the handsome young
wrestler, and she said to Rosalind, "Is it possible you should fall in love so
suddenly ?" Rosalind replied, The duke, my father, loved his father dearly."
"But," said Celia, "does it therefore follow that you should love his son
dearly ? for then I ought to hate him, for my father hated his father; yet
I do not hate Orlando."
As You Like It. 53
Frederick being enraged at the sight of Sir Rowland de Boys' son, which
reminded him of the many friends the banished duke had among the
nobility, and having been for some time displeased with his niece, because
the people praised her for her virtues, and pitied her for her good father's
sake, his malice suddenly broke out against her; and while Celia and
Rosalind were talking of Orlando, Frederick entered the room, and with
looks full of anger ordered Rosalind instantly to leave the palace, and
follow her father into banishment; telling Celia, who in vain pleaded for
her, that he had only suffered Rosalind to stay upon her account. "I did
not then," said Celia, "entreat you to let her stay: for I was too young
at that time to value her; but now that I know her worth, and that we
so long have slept together, rose at the same instant, learned, played, and
eat together, I cannot live out of her company." Frederick replied, "She
is too subtle for you; her smoothness, her very silence, and her patience,
speak to the people, and they pity her. You are a fool to plead for her,
for you will seem more bright and virtuous when she is gone; therefore
open not your lips in her favour, for the doom which I have passed upon
.her is irrevocable."
When Celia found she could not prevail upon her father to let Rosa-
lind remain with her, she generously resolved to accompany her; and,
leaving her father's palace that night, she went along with her friend to
seek Rosalind's father, the banished duke, in the forest of Arden.
Before they set out, Celia considered that it would be unsafe for two
young ladies to travel in the rich clothes they then wore: she therefore
proposed that they should disguise their rank by dressing themselves like
country maids. Rosalind said it would be a still greater protection if one
of them was to be dressed like a man; and so it was quickly agreed on
between them, that as Rosalind was the tallest, she should wear the dress
of a young countryman, and Celia should be habited like a country lass,
and that they should say they were brother and sister, and Rosalind said
she would be called Ganimed, and Celia chose the name of Aliena.
In this disguise, and taking their money and jewels to defray their
expenses, these fair princesses set out on their long travel; for the forest
54 Tales from Shakespeare.
of Arden was a long way off, beyond the boundaries of the duke's
The lady Rosalind (or Ganimed as she must now be called) with her
manly garb seemed to have put on a manly courage. The faithful friend-
ship Celia had shown in accompanying Rosalind so many weary miles,
made the new brother, in recompense for this true love, exert a cheerful
spirit, as if he were indeed Ganimed, the rustic and stout-hearted brother
of the gentle village maiden, Aliena.
Wheh at last they came to the forest of Arden, they no longer found
the convenient inns and good accommodations they had met with on the
road; and being in want of food and rest, Ganimed, who had so merrily
cheered his sister with pleasant speeches and happy remarks all the way,
now owned to Aliena that he was so weary, he could find in his heart
to disgrace his man's apparel, and cry like a woman; and Aliena declared
she could go no further; and then again Ganimed tried to recollect that
it was a man's duty to comfort and console a woman, as the weaker
vessel: and to seem courageous to his new sister, he said, Come, have a
good heart, my sister Aliena; we are now at the end of our travel, in the
forest of Arden." But feigned manliness and forced courage would no
longer support them; for though they were in the forest of Arden, they
knew not where to find the duke: and here the travel of these weary
ladies might have come to a sad conclusion, for they might have lost
themselves, and have perished for want of food; but providentially, as
they were sitting on the grass almost dying with fatigue and hopeless of
any relief, a countryman chanced to pass that way, and Ganimed once
more tried to speak with a manly boldness, saying, "Shepherd, if love or
gold can in this desert place procure us entertainment, I pray you bring
us where we may rest ourselves; for this young maid, my sister, is much
fatigued with travelling, and faints for want of food."
The man replied that he was only a servant to a shepherd, and that
his master's house was just going to be sold, and therefore they would find
but poor entertainment; but that if they would go with him, they should
be welcome to what there was. They followed the man, the near prospect
As You Like It. 55
of relief giving them fresh strength; and bought the house and sheep of
the shepherd, and took the man who conducted them to the shepherd's
house to wait on them; and being by this means so fortunately provided
with a neat cottage, and well supplied with provisions, they agreed to stay
here till they could learn in what part of the forest the duke dwelt.
When they were rested after the fatigue of their journey, they began
to like their new way of life, and almost fancied themselves the shepherd
and shepherdess they feigned to be; yet sometimes Ganimed remembered
he had once been the same lady Rosalind who had so dearly loved the
brave Orlando, because he was the son of old Sir Rowland, her father's
friend; and though Ganimed thought that Orlando was many miles distant,
even so many weary miles as they had travelled, yet it soon appeared that
Orlando was also in the forest of Arden: and in this manner this strange
event came to pass.
Orlando was the youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys, who when he
died left him (Orlando being then very young) to the care of his eldest
brother Oliver, charging Oliver on his blessing to give his brother a good
education, and provide for him as became the dignity of their ancient house.
Oliver proved an unworthy brother; and disregarding the commands of
his dying father, he never put his brother to school, but kept him at home
untaught and entirely neglected. But in his nature and in the noble
qualities of his mind Orlando so much resembled his excellent father, that
without any advantages of education he seemed like a youth who had been
bred with the utmost care; and Oliver so envied the fine person and
dignified manners of his untutored brother, that at last he wished to destroy
him; and to effect this he set on people to persuade him to wrestle with
the famous wrestler, who, as has been before related, had killed so many
men. Now it was this cruel brother's neglect of him which made Orlando
say he wished to die, being so friendless.
When, contrary to the wicked hopes he had formed, his brother proved
victorious, his envy and malice knew no bounds, and he swore he would
burn the chamber where Orlando slept. He was overheard making this
vow by one that had been an old and faithful servant to their father, and
56 Tales from Shakespeare.
that loved Orlando because he resembled Sir Rowland. This old man went
out to meet him when he returned from the duke's palace, and when he
saw Orlando, the peril his dear young master was in made him break out
into these passionate exclamations: "Oh, my gentle master, my sweet
master-oh, you memory of old Sir Rowland! why are you virtuous ? why
are you gentle, strong, and valiant? and why would you be so fond to
overcome the famous wrestler ? Your praise is come too swiftly home
before you." Orlando, wondering what all this meant, asked him what was
the matter ? and then the old man told him how his wicked brother, envying
the love all people bore him, and now hearing the fame he had gained
by his victory in the duke's palace, intended to destroy him, by setting fire
to his chamber that night; and in conclusion, advised him to escape the
danger he was in by instant flight: and knowing Orlando had no money,
Adam (for that was the good old man's name) had brought out with him
his own little hoard, and he said, "I have five hundred crowns, the thrifty
hire I saved under your father, and laid by to be provision for me when
my old limbs should become unfit for service; take that, and he that doth
the ravens feed be comfort to my age! Here is the gold; all this I give to
you: let me be your servant; though I look old, I will do the service of a
younger man in all your business and necessities." "Oh, good old man!"
said Orlando, "how well appears in you the constant service of the old
world ? You are not for the fashion of these times. We will go along
together, and before your youthful wages are spent, I shall light upon some
means for both our maintenance."
Together then this faithful servant and his loved master set out; and
Orlando and Adam travelled on, uncertain what course to pursue, till they
came to the forest of Arden, and there they found themselves in the same
distress for want of food that Ganimed and Aliena had been. They
wandered on, seeking some human habitation, till they were almost spent
with hunger and fatigue. Adam at last said, "Oh, my dear master, I die
for want of food; I can go no further!" He then laid himself down,
thinking to make that place his grave, and bade his dear master farewell.
Orlando, seeing him in this weak state, took his old servant up in his arms,
As You Like It. 57
and carried him under the shelter of some pleasant trees; and he said to
him, "Cheerly, old Adam; rest your weary limbs here a while, and do not
talk of dying !"
Orlando then searched about to find some food, and he happened to
arrive at that part of the forest where the duke was; and he and his
friends were just going to eat their dinner, this royal duke being seated
on the grass, under no other canopy than the shady covert of some
Orlando, whom hunger had made desperate, drew his sword, intending
to take their meat by force, and said, Forbear, and eat no more; I must
have your food!" The duke asked him if distress had made him so bold,
or if he were a rude despiser of good manners? On this Orlando said
he was dying with hunger; and then the duke told him he was welcome
to sit down and eat with them. Orlando, hearing him speak so gently, put
up his sword, and blushed with shame at the rude manner in which he had
demanded their food. "Pardon me, I pray you," said he: "I thought that
all things had been savage here, and therefore I put on the countenance
.of stern command; but whatever men you are, that in this desert, under
the shade of melancholy boughs, lose and neglect the creeping hours of
time; if ever you have looked on better days; if ever you have been where
bells have knolled to church; if you have ever sate at any good man's
feast; if ever from your eyelids you have wiped a tear, and know what it
is to pity or be pitied, may gentle speeches now move you to do me
human courtesy !" The duke replied, "True it is that we are men (as you
say) who have seen better days, and though we have now our habitation
in this wild forest, we have lived in towns and cities, and have with holy
bell been knolled to church, have sate at good men's feasts, and from our
eyes have wiped the drops which sacred pity has engendered: therefore sit
you down, and take of our refreshment as much as will minister to your
wants." There is an old poor man," answered Orlando, "who has limped
after me many a weary step in pure love, oppressed at once with two sad
infirmities, age and hunger; till he be satisfied, I must not touch a bit."
"Go, find him out, and bring him hither," said the duke; "we will forbear
58 Tales from Shakespeare.
to eat till you return." Then Orlando went like a doe to find its fawn
and give it food; and presently returned, bringing Adam in his arms;
and the duke said, "Set down your venerable burthen; you are both
welcome:" and they fed the old man, and cheered his heart, and he
revived, and recovered his health and strength again.
The duke inquired who Orlando was, and when he found that he was
the son of his old friend, Sir Rowland de Boys, he took him under his
protection, and Orlando and his old servant lived with the duke in the forest.
Orlando arrived in the forest not many days after Ganimed and Aliena
came there and (as has been before related) bought the shepherd's cottage.
Ganimed and Aliena were strangely surprised to find the name of
Rosalind carved on the trees, and love-sonnets fastened to them, all addressed
to Rosalind: and while they were wondering how this could be, they met
Orlando, and they perceived the chain which Rosalind had given him
about his neck.
Orlando little thought that Ganimed was the fair princess Rosalind,
who by her noble condescension and favour had so won his heart that he
passed his whole time in carving her name upon the trees, and writing
sonnets in praise of her beauty: but being much pleased with the graceful
air of this pretty shepherd-youth, he entered into conversation with him,
and he thought he saw a likeness in Ganimed to his beloved Rosalind,
but that he had none of the dignified deportment of that noble lady; for
Ganimed assumed the forward manners often seen in youths when they
are between boys and men, and with much archness and humour talked to
Orlando of a certain lover, "who," said he, "haunts our forest, and spoils
our young trees with carving Rosalind upon their barks; and he hangs
odes upon hawthorns, and elegies on brambles, all praising this same
Rosalind. If I could find this lover, I would give him some good counsel
that would soon cure him of his love."
Orlando confessed that he was the fond lover of whom he spoke, and
asked Ganimed to give him the good counsel he talked of. The remedy
Ganimed proposed, and the counsel he gave him was that Orlando should
come every day to the cottage where he and his sister Aliena dwelt: "And
As You Like It. 59
then," said Ganimed, "I will feign myself to be Rosalind, and you shall
feign to court me in the same manner as you would do if I was Rosalind,
and then I will imitate the fantastic ways of whimsical ladies to their lovers,
till I make you ashamed of your love; and this is the way I propose to
cure you." Orlando had no great faith in the remedy, yet he agreed to
come every day to Ganimed's cottage, and feign a playful courtship; and
every day Orlando visited Ganimed and Aliena, and Orlando called the
shepherd Ganimed his Rosalind, and every day talked over all the fine
words and flattering compliments which young men delight to use when
they court their mistresses. It does not appear, however, that Ganimed
made any progress in curing Orlando of his love for Rosalind.
Though Orlando thought all this was but a sportive play (not dreaming
that Ganimed was his very Rosalind), yet the opportunity it gave him of
saying all the fond things he had in his heart pleased his fancy almost as
well as it did Ganimed's, who enjoyed the secret jest in knowing these fine
love-speeches were all addressed to the right person.
In this manner many days passed pleasantly on with these young
people; and the good-natured Aliena, seeing it made Ganimed happy, let
him have his own way, and was diverted at the mock courtship, and did
not care to remind Ganimed that the lady Rosalind had not yet made
herself known to the duke her father, whose place of resort in the forest
they had learnt from Orlando. Ganimed met the duke one day, and had
some talk with him, and the duke asked of what parentage he came.
Ganimed answered, that he came of as good parentage as he did; which
made the duke smile, for he did not suspect the pretty shepherd-boy came
of royal lineage. Then seeing the duke look well and happy, Ganimed was
content to put off all further explanation for a few days longer.
One morning, as Orlando was going to visit Ganimed, he saw a man
lying asleep on the ground, and a large green snake had twisted itself
about his neck. The snake, seeing Orlando approach, glided away among
the bushes. Orlando went nearer, and then he discovered a lioness lie
couching, with her head on the ground, with a cat-like watch, waiting till
the sleeping man awaked (for it is said that lions will prey on nothing that
60 Tales from Shakespeare.
is dead or sleeping). It seemed as if Orlando was sent by Providence to
free the man from the danger of the snake and the lioness: but when Orlando
looked in the man's face, he perceived that the sleeper, who was exposed
to this double peril, was his own brother Oliver, who had so cruelly used
him, and had threatened to destroy him by fire; and he was almost tempted
to leave him a prey to the hungry lioness: but brotherly affection and the
gentleness of his nature soon overcame his first anger against his brother;
and he drew his sword, and attacked the lioness, and slew her, and thus
preserved' his brother's life both from the venomous snake and from the
furious lioness: but before Orlando could conquer the lioness, she had torn
one of his arms with her sharp claws.
While Orlando was engaged with the lioness, Oliver awaked, and per-
ceiving that his brother Orlando, whom he had so cruelly treated, was saving
him from the fury of a wild beast at the risk of his own life, shame and
remorse at once seized him, and he repented of his unworthy conduct, and
besought with many tears his brother's pardon for the injuries he had done
him. Orlando rejoiced to see him so penitent, and readily forgave him ; they
embraced each other, and from that hour Oliver loved Orlando with a true
brotherly affection, though he had come to the forest bent on his destruction.
The wound in Orlando's arm having bled very much, he found himself
too weak to go to visit Ganimed, and therefore he desired his brother to go
and tell Ganimed, "whom," said Orlando, "I in sport do call my Rosalind,"
the accident which had befallen hinm.
Thither then Oliver went, and told to Ganimed and Aliena how Orlando
had saved his life ; and when he had finished the story of Orlando's bravery,
and his own providential escape, he owned to them that he was Orlando's
brother, who had so cruelly used him; and then he told them of their
The sincere sorrow that Oliver expressed for his offences made such
a lively impression on the kind heart of Aliena, that she instantly fell in love
with him; and Oliver observing how much she pitied the distress he told her
he felt for his fault, he as suddenly fell in love with her. But while love was
thus stealing into the hearts of Aliena and Oliver, he was no less busy with
As You Like It. 61
Ganimed, who hearing of the danger Orlando had been in, and that he was
wounded by the lioness, fainted ; and when he recovered, he pretended that
he had counterfeited the swoon in the imaginary character of Rosalind, and
Ganimed said to Oliver, "Tell your brother Orlando how well I counterfeited
a swoon." But Oliver saw by the paleness of his complexion that he did
really faint, and much wondering at the weakness of the young man, he said,
"Well, if you did counterfeit, take a good heart, and counterfeit to be a
man." "So I do," replied Ganimed (truly), "but I should have been a
woman by right."
Oliver made this visit a very long one, and when at last he returned back
to his brother, he had much news to tell him; for besides the account of
Ganimed's fainting at the hearing that Orlando was wounded, Oliver told
him how he had fallen in love with the fair shepherdess Aliena, and that
she had lent a favourable ear to his suit, even in this their first interview;
and he talked to his brother, as of a thing almost settled, that he should
marry Aliena, saying, that he so well loved her that he would live here
as a shepherd, and settle his estate and house at home upon Orlando.
"You have my consent," said Orlando. "Let your wedding be to-
morrow, and I will invite the duke and his friends. Go and persuade your
shepherdess to agree to this: she is now alone; for look, here comes her
brother." Oliver went to Aliena; and Ganimed, whom Orlando had per-
ceived approaching, came to inquire after the health of his wounded friend.
When Orlando and Ganimed began to talk over the sudden love which
had taken place between Oliver and Aliena, Orlando said he had advised his
brother to persuade his fair shepherdess to be married on the morrow, and
then he added how much he could wish to be married on the same day to
Ganimed, who well approved of this arrangement, said, that if Orlando
really loved Rosalind as well as he professed to do, he should have his wish;
for on the morrow he would engage to make Rosalind appear in her own
person, and also that Rosalind should be willing to marry Orlando.
This seemingly wonderful event, which, as Ganimed was the lady
Rosalind, he could so easily perform, he pretended he would bring to pass
62 Tales from Shakespeare.
by the aid of magic, which he said he had learnt of an uncle who was a
The fond lover Orlando, half believing and half doubting what he heard,
asked Ganimed if he spoke in sober meaning. "By my life I do," said
Ganimed; "therefore put on your best clothes, and bid the duke and your
friends to your wedding; for if you desire to be married to-morrow to
Rosalind, she shall be here."
The next morning, Oliver having obtained the consent of Aliena, they
came into the presence of the duke, and with them also came Orlando.
They being all assembled to celebrate this double marriage, and as yet
only one of the brides appearing, there was much of wondering and conjec-
ture, but they mostly thought that Ganimed was making a jest of Orlando.
The duke, hearing that it was his own daughter that was to be brought
in this strange way, asked Orlando if he believed the shepherd-boy could
really do what he had promised; and while Orlando was answering that he
knew not what to think, Ganimed entered, and asked the duke, if he brought
his daughter, whether he would consent to her marriage with Orlando. "That
I would," said the duke, "if I had kingdoms to give with her." Ganimed
then said to Orlando, "And you say you will marry her if I bring her here ?"
"That I would," said Orlando, if I were king of many kingdoms."
Ganimed and Aliena then went out together, and Ganimed, throwing off
his male attire, and being once more dressed in woman's apparel, quickly
became Rosalind without the power of magic; and Aliena, changing her
country garb for her own rich clothes, was with as little trouble transformed
into the lady Celia.
While they were gone, the duke said to Orlando that he thought the
shepherd Ganimed very like his daughter Rosalind; and Orlando said he
also had observed the resemblance.
They had no time to wonder how all this would end, for Rosalind and
Celia in their own clothes entered; and no longer pretending that it was by
the power of magic that she came there, Rosalind threw herself on her knees
before her father, and begged his blessing. It seemed so wonderful to all
present that she should so suddenly appear, that it might well have passed
As You Like It. 63
for magic; but Rosalind would no longer trifle with her father, and told
him the story of her banishment, and of her dwelling in the forest as a
shepherd-boy, her cousin Celia passing as her sister.
The duke ratified the consent he had already given to the marriage; and
Orlando and Rosalind, Oliver and Celia, were married at the same time. And
though their wedding could not be celebrated in this wild forest with any of
the parade or splendour usual on such occasions, yet a happier wedding-day
was never passed: and while they were eating their venison under the cool
shade of the pleasant trees, as if nothing should be wanting to complete the
felicity of this good duke and the true lovers, an unexpected messenger
arrived to tell the duke the joyful news, that his dukedom was restored
The usurper, enraged at the flight of his daughter Celia, and hearing that
every day men of great worth resorted to the forest of Arden to join the
lawful duke in his exile, much envying that his brother should be so highly
respected in his adversity, put himself at the head of a large force, and
advanced towards the forest, intending to seize his brother, and put him, with
Small his faithful followers, to the sword; but, by a wonderful interposition of
Providence, this bad brother was converted from his evil intention: for just
as he entered the skirts of the wild forest, he was met by an old religious
man, a hermit, with whom he had much talk, and who in the end completely
turned his heart from his wicked design. Thenceforward he became a true
penitent, and resolved, relinquishing his unjust dominion, to spend the
remainder of his days in a religious house. The first act of his newly
conceived penitence was to send a message to his brother (as has been
related), to offer to restore to him his dukedom, which he had usurped so
long, and with it the lands and revenues of his friends, the faithful followers
of his adversity.
This joyful news, as unexpected as it was welcome, came opportunely to
heighten the festivity and rejoicings at the wedding of the princesses. Celia
complimented her cousin on this good fortune which had happened to the
duke, Rosalind's father, and wished her joy very sincerely, though she herself
was no longer heir to the dukedom, but by this restoration which her father
64 Tales from Shakespeare.
had made, Rosalind was now the heir: so completely was the love of these
two cousins unmixed with anything of jealousy or envy.
The duke had now an opportunity of rewarding those true friends who
had stayed with him in his banishment ; and these worthy followers, though
they had patiently shared his adverse fortune, were very well pleased to
return in peace and prosperity to the palace of their' lawful duke.
TALE THE SIXTH.
THE TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
1 HERE lived in the city of Verona two young gentlemen, whose
names were Valentine and Protheus, between whom a firm and
uninterrupted friendship had long subsisted. They pursued their
studies together, and their hours of leisure were always passed in each other's
company, except when Protheus visited a lady he was in love with; and these
visits to his mistress, and this passion of Protheus for the fair Julia, were the
only topics on which these two friends disagreed : for Valentine, not being
himself a lover, was sometimes a little weary of hearing his friend for ever
66 Tales from Shakespeare.
talking of his Julia, and then he would laugh at Protheus, and in pleasant
terms ridicule the passion of love, and declare that no such idle fancies
should ever enter his head, greatly preferring (as he said) the free and
happy life he led, to the anxious hopes and fears of the lover Protheus.
One morning Valentine came to Protheus to tell him that they must for
a time be separated, for that he was going to Milan. Protheus, unwilling to
part with his friend, used many arguments to prevail upon Valentine not to
leave him ; but Valentine said, Cease to persuade me, my loving Protheus.
I will not; like a sluggard, wear out my youth in idleness at home. Home-
keeping youths have ever homely wits. If your affection were not chained
to the sweet glances of your honoured Julia, I would entreat you to
accompany me, to see the wonders of the world abroad: but since you are
a lover, love on still, and may your love be prosperous!"
They parted with mutual expressions of unalterable friendship. Sweet
Valentine, adieu !" said Protheus; "think on me, when you see some rare
object worthy of notice in your travels, and wish me partaker of your
Valentine began his journey that same day towards Milan; and when
his friend had left him, Protheus sat down to write a letter to Julia, which
he gave to her maid Lucetta to deliver to her mistress.
Julia loved Protheus as well as he did her, but she was a lady of a noble
spirit, and she thought it did not become her maiden dignity too easily to be
won; therefore she affected to be insensible of his passion, and gave him
much uneasiness in the prosecution of his suit.
And when Lucetta offered the letter to Julia, she would not receive it,
and chid her maid for taking letters from Protheus, and ordered her to leave
the room. But she so much wished to see what was written in the letter, that
she soon called in her maid again, and when Lucetta returned, she said,
"What o'clock is it ? Lucetta, who knew her mistress more desired to see
the letter than to know the time of day, without answering her question,
again offered the rejected letter. Julia, angry that her maid should thus
take the liberty of seeming to know what she really wanted, tore the letter
in pieces, and threw it on the floor, ordering her once more out of the
The Two Gentlemen of Verona. 67
room. As Lucetta was retiring, she stopped to pick up the fragments
of the torn letter; but Julia, who meant not so to part with them, said, in
pretended anger, "Go, get you gone, and let the papers lie; you would
be fingering them to anger me."
Julia then began to piece together as well as she could the torn
fragments. She first made out these words, "Love-wounded Protheus ;" and
lamenting over these and such like loving words, which she made out though
they were all torn asunder, or, as she said, wounded (the expression Love
wounded Protheus" giving her that idea), she talked to these kind words,
telling them she would lodge them in her bosom as in a bed, till their wounds
were healed, and that she would kiss each several piece, to make amends.
In this manner she went on talking with a pretty lady-like childishness,
till finding herself unable to make out the whole, and vext at her own
ingratitude in destroying such sweet and loving words, as she called them, she
wrote a much kinder letter to Protheus than she had ever done before.
Protheus was greatly delighted at receiving this favourable answer to his
letter; and while he was reading it, he exclaimed, "Sweet love, sweet lines,
sweet life!" In the midst of his raptures he was interrupted by his father.
" How now ? said the old gentleman; "what letter are you reading there ?"
"My lord," replied Protheus, "it is a letter from my friend Valentine,
Lend me the letter," said his father: "let me see what news."
There is no news, my lord," said Protheus, greatly alarmed, "but that
he writes how well beloved he is of the duke of Milan, who daily graces him
with favours! and how he wishes me with him, the partner of his fortune."
"And how stand you affected to his wish?" asked the father.
As one relying on your lordship's will, and not depending on his
friendly wish," said Protheus.
Now it had happened that Protheus' father had just been talking with a
friend on this very subject: his friend had said, he wondered his lordship
suffered his son to spend his youth at home, while most men were sending
their sons to seek preferment abroad ; "some," said he, to the wars, to try
their fortunes there, and some to discover islands far away, and some to study
68 Tales from Shakespeare.
in foreign universities; and there is his companion Valentine, he is gone to
the duke of Milan's court. Your son is fit for any of these things, and it will
be a great disadvantage to him in his riper age, not to have travelled in his
Protheus' father thought the advice of his friend was very good, and upon
Protheus telling him that Valentine "wished him with him, the partner of his
fortune," he at once determined to send his son to Milan; and without giving
Protheus any reason for this sudden resolution, it being the usual habit of
this positive old gentleman to command his son, not reason with him, he
said, "My will is the same as Valentine's wish:" and seeing his son look
astonished, he added, Look not amazed, that I so suddenly resolve you
shall spend some time in the duke of Milan's court; for what I will I will,
and there is an end. To-morrow be in readiness to go. Make no excuse;
for I am peremptory."
Protheus knew it was of no use to make objections to his father, wh6
never suffered him to dispute his will; and he blamed himself for telling his
father an untruth about Julia's letter, which had brought upon him the sad
necessity of leaving her.
Now that Julia found she was going to lose Protheus for so long a time,
she no longer pretended indifference; and they bade each other a mournful
farewell with many vows of love and constancy. Protheus and Julia
exchanged rings, which they both promised to keep for ever in remembrance
of each other; and thus, taking a sorrowful leave, Protheus set out on his
journey to Milan, the abode of his friend Valentine.
Valentine was in reality what Protheus had feigned to his father, in high
favour with the duke of Milan; and another event had happened- to him, of
which Protheus did not even dream, for Valentine had given up the freedom
of which he used so much to boast, and was become as passionate a lover
She who had wrought this wondrous change in Valentine, was the lady
Silvia, daughter of the duke of Milan, and she also loved him; but they
concealed their love from the duke, because although he showed much
kindness for Valentine, and invited him every day to his palace, yet he
The Two Gentlemen of Verona. 69
designed to marry his daughter to a young courtier whose name was Thurio.
Silvia despised this Thurio, for he had none of the fine sense and excellent
qualities of Valentine.
These two rivals, Thurio and Valentine, were one day on a visit to
Silvia, and Valentine was entertaining Silvia with turning everything Thurio
said into ridicule, when the duke himself entered the room, and told
Valentine the welcome news of his friend Protheus' arrival. Valentine said,
" If I had wished a thing, it would have, been to have seen him here !" and
then he highly praised Protheus to the duke, saying, "My lord, though I
have been a truant of my time, yet hath my friend made use and fair
advantage of his days, and is complete in person and in mind, in all good
grace to grace a gentleman."
"Welcome him then according to his worth," said the duke: "Silvia,
I speak to you, and you, sir Thurio; for Valentine, I need not bid him do
so." They were here interrupted by the entrance of Protheus, and Valentine
introduced him to Silvia, saying, Sweet lady, entertain him to be my
fellow-servant to your ladyship."
When Valentine and Protheus had ended their visit, and were alone
together, Valentine said, Now tell me how all does from whence you came ?
How does your lady, and how thrives your love ?" Protheus replied, My
tales of love used to weary you. I know you joy not in a love discourse."
"Ay, Protheus," returned Valentine, "but that life is altered now. I
have done penance for condemning love. For in revenge of my contempt
of Love, Love has chased sleep from my enthralled eyes. O gentle Protheus,
Love is a mighty lord, and hath so humbled me, that I confess there is
no woe like his correction, nor no such joy on earth as in his service. I now
like no discourse except it be of love. Now I can break my fast, dine, sup,
and sleep, upon the very name of love."
This acknowledgment of the change which love had made in the
disposition of Valentine was a great triumph to his friend Protheus. But
"friend," Protheus must be called no longer, for the same all-powerful deity
Love, of whom they were speaking (yea even while they were talking of
the change he had made in Valentine) was working in the heart of Protheus;
70 Tales from Shakespeare.
and he, who had till this time been a pattern of true love and perfect
friendship, was now, in one short interview with Silvia, become a false friend
and a faithless lover: for at the first sight of Silvia, all his love for Julia
vanished away like a dream, nor did his long friendship for Valentine deter
him from endeavouring to supplant him in her affections; and although,
as it will always be, when people of dispositions naturally good become
unjust, he had many scruples, before he determined to forsake Julia, and
become the rival of Valentine, yet he at length overcame his sense of
duty, and, yielded himself up, almost without remorse, to his new unhappy
Valentine imparted to him in confidence the whole history of his love,
and how carefully they had concealed it from the duke her father, and told
him, that despairing of ever being able to obtain his consent, he had prevailed
upon Silvia to leave her father's palace that night, and go with him to
Mantua; then he showed Protheus a ladder of ropes, by help of which he
meant to assist Silvia to get out of one of the windows of the palace, after
it was dark.
Upon hearing this faithful recital of his friend's dearest secrets, it is
hardly possible to be believed, but so it was, that Protheus resolved to go
to the duke, and disclose the whole to him.
This false friend began his tale with many artful speeches to the duke,
such as that by the laws of friendship he ought to conceal what he was going
to reveal, but that the gracious favour the duke, had shown him, and the
duty he owed his grace, urged him to tell that, which else no worldly good
should draw from him: he then told all he had heard from Valentine, not
omitting the ladder of ropes, and the manner in which Valentine meant to
conceal them under a long cloak.
The duke thought Protheus quite a miracle of integrity, in that he
preferred telling his friend's intention rather than he would conceal an unjust
action; highly commended him, and promised him not to let Valentine
know from whom he had learnt this intelligence, but by some artifice to
make Valentine betray the secret himself. For this purpose the duke awaited
the coming of Valentine in the evening, whom he soon saw hurrying towards
The Two Gentlemen of Verona. 71
the palace, and he perceived somewhat was wrapped within his cloak, which
he concluded was the rope-ladder.
The duke upon this stopped him, saying, "Whither away so fast, Valen-
tine ?" May it please your grace," said Valentine, "there is a messenger,
that stays to bear my letters to my friends, and I am going to deliver them."
Now this falsehood of Valentine's had no better success in the event than
the untruth Protheus told his father.
"Be they of much import ? said the duke.
"No more, my lord," said Valentine, than to tell my father I am well
and happy at your grace's court."
"( Nay, then," said the duke, no matter: stay with me a while. I wish
your counsel about some affairs that concern me nearly." He then told
Valentine an artful story, as a prelude to draw his secret from him, saying,
that Valentine knew he wished to match his daughter with Thurio, but that
she was stubborn and disobedient to his commands, "neither regarding,"
said he, that she is my child, nor fearing me as if I were her father. And
I may say to thee, this pride of hers has drawn my love from her. I had
thought my age should have been cherished by her child-like duty. I now
am resolved to take a wife, and turn her out to whosoever will take her
in. Let her beauty be her wedding-dower, for me and my possessions she
Valentine, wondering where all this would end, made answer, "And
what would your grace have me to do in all this ?"
"Why," said the duke, "the lady I would wish to marry is nice and
coy, and does not much esteem my aged eloquence. Besides, the fashion
of courtship is much changed since I was young: now I would willingly
have you to be my tutor to instruct me how I am to woo."
Valentine gave him a general idea of the modes of courtship then
practised by young men, when they wished to win a fair lady's love, such
as presents, frequent visits, and the like.
The duke replied to this, that the lady did refuse a present which he
sent her, and that she was so strictly kept by her father, that no man might
have access to her by day.
72 Tales from Shakespeare.
"Why, then," said Valentine, "you must visit her by night."
"But at night," said the artful duke, who was now coming to the drift
of his discourse, "her doors are fast locked."
Valentine then unfortunately proposed, that the duke should get into
the lady's chamber at night by means of a ladder of ropes, saying, he would
procure him one fitting for that purpose; and in conclusion advised him to
conceal this ladder of ropes under such a cloak as that which he now wore.
Lend me your cloak," said the duke, who had feigned this long story
on purpose to have a pretence to get off the cloak: so, upon saying these
words, he caught hold of Valentine's cloak, and throwing it back, he dis-
covered not only the ladder of ropes, but also a letter of Silvia's, which he
instantly opened, and read; and this letter contained a full account of their
intended elopement. The duke, after upbraiding Valentine for his ingratitude
in thus returning the favour he had shown him, by endeavouring to steal
away his daughter, banished him from the court and city of Milan for ever;
and Valentine was forced to depart that night, without even seeing Silvia.
While Protheus at Milan was thus injuring Valentine, Julia at Verona
was regretting the absence of Protheus; and her regard for him at last
so far overcame her sense of propriety, that she resolved to leave Verona,
and seek her lover at Milan; and to secure herself from danger on the road,
she dressed her maid Lucetta and herself in men's clothes, and they set
out in this disguise, and arrived at Milan, soon after Valentine was banished
from that city through the treachery of Protheus.
Julia entered Milan about noon, and she took up her abode at an inn;
and her thoughts being all on her dear Protheus, she entered into conversation
with the innkeeper, or host, as he was called, thinking by that means to
learn some news of Protheus.
The host was greatly pleased that this handsome young gentleman (as
he took her to be), who from his appearance he concluded was of high
rank, spoke so familiarly to him; and being a good-natured man, he was
sorry to see him look so melancholy; and to amuse his young guest he
offered to take him to hear some fine music, with which, he said, a gentleman
that evening was going to serenade his mistress.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona. 73
The reason Julia looked so very melancholy was, that she did not
well know what Protheus would think of the imprudent step she had
taken; for she knew he had loved her for her noble maiden-pride and
dignity of character, and she feared she should lower herself in his esteem:
and this it was that made her wear a sad and thoughtful countenance.
She gladly accepted the offer of the host to go with him, and hear the
music; for she secretly hoped she might meet Protheus by the way.
But when she came to the palace whither the host conducted her, a
very different effect was produced to what the kind host intended; for
there, to her heart's sorrow, she beheld her lover, the inconstant Protheus,
serenading the lady Silvia with music, and addressing discourse of love
and admiration to her. And Julia overheard Silvia from a window talk
with Protheus, and reproach him for forsaking his own true lady, and for
his ingratitude to his friend Valentine: and then Silvia left the window,
not choosing to listen to his music and his fine speeches; for she was a
faithful lady to her banished Valentine, and abhorred the ungenerous conduct
of his false friend Protheus.
Though Julia was in despair at what she had just witnessed, yet did
she still love the truant Protheus; and hearing that he had lately parted
with a servant, she contrived with the assistance of her host, the friendly
innkeeper, to hire herself to Protheus as a page; and Protheus knew not
she was Julia, and he sent her with letters and presents to her rival Silvia,
and he even sent by her the very ring she gave him as a parting gift at
When she went to that lady with the ring, she was glad to find that
Silvia utterly rejected the suit of Protheus; and Julia, or the page Sebastian,
as she was called, entered into conversation with Silvia about Protheus'
first love, the forsaken lady Julia. She putting in (as one may say) a good
word for herself, said she knew Julia; as well she might, being herself the
Julia of whom she spoke: telling how fondly Julia loved her master Protheus,
and how his unkind neglect would grieve her: and then she with a pretty
equivocation went on: Julia is about my height and of my complexion,
the colour of her eyes and hair the same as mine :" and indeed Julia
74 Tales from Shakespeare.
looked a most beautiful youth in her boy's attire. Silvia was moved to pity
this lovely lady, who was so sadly forsaken by the man she loved; and
when Julia offered the ring which Protheus had sent, refused it, saying,
"The more shame for him that he sends me that ring; I will not take
it, for I have often heard him say his Julia gave it to him. I love thee,
gentle youth, for pitying her, poor lady! Here is a purse; I give it you
for Julia's sake." These comfortable words coming from her kind rival's
tongue cheered the drooping heart of the disguised lady.
But to return to the banished Valentine; who scarce knew which way
to bend his course, being unwilling to return home to his father a disgraced
and banished man: as he was wandering over a lonely forest, not far
distant from Milan, where he had left his heart's dear treasure, the lady
Silvia, he was set upon by robbers, who demanded his money.
Valentine told them, that he was a man crossed by adversity, that he
was going into banishment, and that he had no money, the clothes he had
on being all his riches.
The robbers, hearing that he was a distressed man, and being struck
with his noble air and manly behaviour, told him, if he would live with
them, and be their chief, or captain, they would put themselves under his
command: but if he refused to accept their offer, they would kill him.
Valentine, who cared little what became of himself, said, he would
consent to live with them and be their captain, provided they did no outrage
on women and poor passengers.
Thus the noble Valentine became, like Robin Hood, of whom we read
in ballads, a captain of robbers and outlawed banditti: and in this situation
he was found by Silvia, and in this manner it came to pass.
Silvia, to avoid a marriage with Thurio, whom her father insisted upon
her no longer refusing, came at last to the resolution of following Valentine
to Mantua, at which place she had heard her lover had taken refuge; but
in this account she was misinformed, for he still lived in the forest among
the robbers, bearing the name of their captain, but taking no part in their
depredations, and using the authority which they had imposed upon him in
no other way, than to compel them to show compassion to the travellers
The Two Gentlemen of Verona. 75
Silvia contrived to effect her escape from her father's palace in company
with a worthy old gentleman, whose name was Eglamour, whom she took
along with her for protection on the road. She had to pass through the
forest where Valentine and the banditti dwelt; and one of these robbers
seized on Silvia, and would also have taken Eglamour, but he escaped.
The robber who had taken Silvia, seeing the terror she was in, bid her
not be alarmed, for that he was only going to carry her to a cave where
his captain lived, and that she need not be afraid, for their captain had an
honourable mind, and always showed humanity to women. Silvia found
little comfort in hearing she was going to be carried as a prisoner before
the captain of a lawless banditti. "0 Valentine," she cried, "this I endure
But as the robber was conveying her to the cave of his captain, he
was stopped by Protheus, who, still attended by Julia in the disguise of a
page, having heard of the flight of Silvia, had traced her steps to this forest.
Protheus now rescued her from the hands of the robber; but scarce had
she time to thank him for the service he had done her, before he began to
distress her afresh with his love-suit: and while he was rudely pressing her to
consent to marry him, and his page (the forlorn Julia) was standing beside
him in great anxiety of mind, fearing lest the great service which Protheus
had just done to Silvia should win her to show him some favour, they were all
strangely surprised with the sudden appearance of Valentine, who having
heard his robbers had taken a lady prisoner, came to console and relieve her.
Protheus was courting Silvia, and he was so much ashamed of being
caught by his friend, that he was all at once seized with penitence and
remorse; and he expressed such a lively sorrow for the injuries he had
done to Valentine, that Valentine, whose nature was noble and generous,
even to a romantic degree, not only forgave and restored him to his former
place in his friendship, but in a sudden flight of heroism he said, "I freely
do forgive you; and all the interest I have in Silvia, I give it up to you."
Julia, who was standing beside her master as a page, hearing this strange
offer, and fearing Protheus would not be able with this new-found virtue
to refuse Silvia, fainted, and they were all employed in recovering her :
76 Tales from Shakespeare.
else would Silvia have been offended at being thus made over to Protheus,
though she could scarcely think that Valentine would long persevere in
this overstrained and too generous act of friendship. When Julia recovered
from the fainting fit, she said, "I had forgot, my master ordered me to
deliver this ring to Silvia." Protheus, looking upon the ring, saw that it
was the one he gave to Julia, in return for that which he received from
her, and which he had sent by the supposed page to Silvia. "How is this ?"
said he, "this is Julia's ring: how came you by it, boy ?" Julia answered,
"Julia herself did give it me, and Julia herself hath brought it hither."
Protheus now looking, earnestly upon her, plainly perceived that the
page Sebastian was no other than the lady Julia herself: and the proof she
had given of her constancy and true love so wrought in him, that his love
for her returned into his heart, and he took again his own dear lady, and
joyfully resigned all pretensions to the lady Silvia to Valentine, who had
so well deserved her.
Protheus and Valentine were expressing their happiness in their recon-
ciliation, and in the love of their faithful ladies, when they were surprised
with the sight of the duke of Milan and Thurio, who came there in pursuit
Thurio first approached, and attempted to seize Silvia, saying, "Silvia
is mine." Upon this Valentine said to him in a very spirited manner,
"Thurio, keep back: if once again you say that Silvia is yours, you shall
embrace your death. Here she stands, take but possession of her with a
touch! I dare you but to breathe upon my love." Hearing this threat,
Thurio, who was a great coward, drew back, and said he cared not for her,
and that none but a fool would fight for a girl who loved him not.
The duke, who was a very brave man himself, said now in great anger,
"The more base and degenerate in you to take such means for her as
you have done, and leave her on such slight conditions." Then turning
to Valentine, he said, "I do applaud your spirit, Valentine, and think you
worthy of an empress's love. You shall have Silvia, for you have well
deserved her." Valentine then with great humility kissed the duke's hand,
and accepted the noble present which he had made him of his daughter
The Two Gentlemen of Verona. 77
with becoming thankfulness: taking occasion of this joyful minute to
entreat the good-humoured duke to pardon the thieves with whom he had
associated in the forest, assuring him, that when reformed and restored to
society, there would be found among them many good, and fit for great
employment; for the most of them had been banished, like Valentine, for
state offences, rather than for any black crimes they had been guilty of.
To this the ready duke consented: and now nothing remained but that
Protheus, the false friend, was ordained, by way of penance for his love-
prompted faults, to be present at the recital of the whole story of his loves
and falsehoods before the duke; and the shame of the recital to his awakened
conscience was judged sufficient punishment: which being done, the. lovers,
all four, returned back to Milan, and their nuptials were solemnised in
presence of the duke, with high triumphs and feasting.
TALE THE SEVENTH.
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE.
S HYLOCK, the Jew, lived at Venice: he was a usurer,
P i who had amassed an immense fortune by lending
money at great interest to Christian merchants. Shy-
lock being a hard-hearted man, exacted the payment
of the money he lent with such severity, that he was
Much disliked by all good men, and particularly by
Anthonio, a young merchant of Venice; and Shylock
as much hated Anthonio, because he used to lend
money to people in distress, and would never take any
interest for the money he lent; therefore there was great enmity between this
covetous Jew and the generous merchant Anthonio. Whenever Anthonio
met Shylock on the Rialto (or Exchange), he used to reproach him with his
The Merchant of Venice. 79
usuries and hard dealings; which the Jew would bear with seeming patience,
while he secretly meditated revenge.
Anthonio was the kindest man that lived, the best conditioned, and had
the most unwearied spirit in doing courtesies; indeed he was one in whom
the ancient Roman honour more appeared than in any that drew breath
in Italy. He was greatly beloved by all his fellow-citizens; but the friend
who was nearest and dearest to his heart was Bassanio, a noble Venetian,
who, having but a small patrimony, had nearly exhausted his little fortune by
living in too expensive a manner for his slender means, as young men of high
rank with small fortunes are too apt to do. Whenever Bassanio -wanted
money, Anthonio assisted him; and it seemed as if they had but one heart
and one purse between them.
One day Bassanio came to Anthonio, and told him that he wished to
repair his fortune by a wealthy marriage with a lady whom he dearly loved,
whose father, that was lately dead, had left her sole heiress to a large estate;
and that in her father's lifetime he used to visit at her house, when he thought
he had observed this lady had sometimes from her eyes sent speechless
messages, that seemed to say he would be no unwelcome suitor; but not
having money to furnish himself with an appearance befitting the lover of so
rich an heiress, he besought Anthonio to add to the many favours he had
shown him, by lending him three thousand ducats.
Anthonio had no money by him at that time to lend his friend; but
expecting soon to have some ships come home laden with merchandise, he
said he would go to Shylock, the rich money-lender, and borrow the money
upon the credit of those ships.
Anthonio and Bassanio went together to Shylock, and Anthonio asked
the Jew to lend him three thousand ducats upon an interest he should
require, to be paid out of the merchandise contained in his ships at sea. On
this, Shylock thought within himself: If I can once catch him on the hip,
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him: he hates our Jewish nation ; he
lends out money gratis; and among the merchants he rails at me and my
well-earned bargains, which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe if I forgive
him !" Anthonio finding he was musing within himself and did not answer,
8o Tales from Shakespeare.
and being impatient for the money, said, "Shylock, do you hear ? will you
lend the money ?" To this question the Jew replied, Signior Anthonio, on
the Rialto, many a time and often you have railed at me about my monies
and my usuries, and I have borne it with a patient shrug, for sufferance is the
badge of all our tribe; and then you have called me unbeliever, cut-throat
dog, and spit upon my Jewish garments, and spurned at me with your foot,
as if I was a cur. Well then, it now appears you need my help; and you
come to me, and say, Shylock, lend me monies. Has a dog money? Is it
possible a cur should lend three thousand ducats ? Shall I bend low and say,
Fair sir, you spit upon me on Wednesday last, another time you called me
dog, and for these courtesies I am to lend you monies ? Anthonio replied,
"I am as like to call you so again, to spit on you again, and spurn you too.
If you will lend me this money, lend it not to me as to a friend, but rather
lend it to me as to an enemy, that, if I break, you may with better face exact
the penalty." "Why, look you," said Shylock, "how you storm! I would
be friends with you, and have your love. I will forget the shames you have
put upon me. I will supply your wants, and take no interest for my money."
This seemingly kind offer greatly surprised Anthonio; and then Shylock,
still pretending kindness, and that all he did was to gain Anthonio's love,
again said he would lend him the three thousand ducats, and take no interest
for his money; only Anthonio should go with him to a lawyer, and there sign
in merry sport a bond, that if he did not repay the money by a certain day,
he would forfeit a pound of flesh, to be cut off from any part of his body that
Content," said Anthonio: "I will sign to this bond, and say there is
much kindness in the Jew."
Bassanio said Anthonio should not sign to such a bond for him: but
still Anthonio insisted that he would sign it, for that before the day of
payment came, his ships would return laden with many times the value of
Shylock, hearing this debate, exclaimed, "0 father Abraham, what
suspicious people these Christians are! Their own hard dealings teach them
to suspect the thoughts of others. I pray you tell me this, Bassanio: if he
The Merchant of Venice. 81
should break this day, what should I gain by the exaction of the forfeiture.
A pound of man's flesh, taken from a man, is not so estimable, nor profitable
neither, as the flesh of mutton or of beef. I say, to buy his favour I offer
this friendship: if he will take it, so; if not, adieu."
At last, against the advice of Bassanio, who, notwithstanding all the Jew
had said of his kind intentions, did not like his friend should run the hazard
of this shocking penalty for his sake, Anthonio signed the bond, thinking it
really was (as the Jew said) merely in sport.
The rich heiress that Bassanio wished to marry lived near Venice, at
a place called Belmont: her name was Portia, and in the graces of her
person and her mind she was nothing inferior to that Portia, of whom we
read, who was Cato's daughter, and the wife of Brutus.
Bassanio being so kindly supplied with money by his friend Anthonio,
at the hazard of his life, set out for Belmont with a splendid train, and
attended by a gentleman of the name of Gratiano.
Bassanio proving successful in his suit, Portia in a short time consented
to accept of him for a husband.
Bassanio confessed to Portia that he had no fortune, and that his high
birth and noble ancestry was all that he could boast of; she, who loved him
for his worthy qualities, and had riches enough not to regard wealth in
"a husband, answered with a graceful modesty, that she would wish herself
"a thousand times more fair, and ten thousand times more rich, to be more
worthy of him; and then the accomplished Portia prettily dispraised herself,
and said she was an unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpractised, yet not so old
but that she could learn, and that she would commit her gentle spirit to
be directed and governed by him in all things ; and she said, Myself and
what is mine, to you and yours is now converted. But yesterday, Bassanio,
I was the lady of this fair mansion, queen of myself, and mistress over these
servants; and now this house, these servants, and myself, are yours, my lord;
I give them with this ring: presenting a ring to Bassanio.
Bassanio was so overpowered with gratitude and wonder at the gracious
manner in which the rich and noble Portia accepted of a man of his humble
fortunes, that he could not express his joy and reverence to the dear lady
82 Tales from Shakespeare.
who so honoured him, by anything but broken words of love and thank-
fulness: and taking the ring, he vowed never to part with it.
Gratiano, and Nerissa, Portia's waiting maid, were in attendance upon
their lord and lady, when Portia so gracefully promised to become the
obedient wife of Bassanio; and Gratiana, wishing Bassanio and the generous
lady joy, desired permission to be married at the same time.
"With all my heart, Gratiano," said Bassanio, "if you can get a wife."
Gratiano then said that he loved the lady Portia's fair waiting gentle-
woman, Nerissa, and that she had promised to be his wife, if her lady married
Bassanio. Portia asked Nerissa if this was true. Nerissa replied, Madam,
it is so, if you approve of it." Portia willingly consenting, Bassanio plea-
santly said, "Then our wedding-feast shall be much honoured by your
The happiness of these lovers was sadly crossed at this moment by the
entrance of a messenger, who brought a letter from Anthonio containing
fearful tidings. When Bassanio read Anthonio's letter, Portia feared it was
to tell him of the death of some dear friend, he looked so pale; and inquiring
what was the news which had so distressed him, he said, "O sweet Portia,
here are a few of the unpleasantest words that ever blotted paper: gentle
lady, when I first imparted my love to you, I freely told you all the wealth
I had ran in my veins; but I should have told you that I had less than
nothing, being in debt." Bassanio then told Portia what has been here
related, of his borrowing the money of Anthonio, and of Anthonio's procuring
it of Shylock the Jew, and of the bond by which Anthonio had engaged to
forfeit a pound of flesh, if it was not repaid by a certain day; and then
Bassanio read Anthonio's letter, the words of which were, Sweet Bassanio,
my ships are all lost, my bond to the Yew is forfeited, and since in paying it is
impossible I should live, I could wish to see you at my death ; notwithstanding,
use your pleasure ; if your love for me do not persuade you to come, let not my
letter." "0 my dear love," said Portia, dispatch all business and be gone;
you shall have gold to pay the money twenty times over, before this kind
friend shall lose a hair by my Bassanio's fault; and as you are so dearly
bought, I will dearly love you." Portia then said she would be married to
The Merchant of Venice. 83
Bassanio before he set out, to give him a legal right to her money; and that
same day they were married, and Gratiano was also married to Nerissa; and
Bassanio and Gratiano, the instant they were married, set out in great haste
for Venice, where Bassanio found Anthonio in prison.
The day of payment being past, the cruel Jew would not accept of the
money which Bassanio offered him, but insisted upon having a pound of
Anthonio's flesh. A day was appointed to try this shocking cause before
the duke of Venice, and Bassanio awaited in dreadful suspense the event
of the trial.
When Portia parted with her husband, she spoke cheeringly to him, and
bade him bring his dear friend along with him when he returned; yet she
feared it would go hard with Anthonio, and when she was left alone, she
began to think and consider within herself, if she could by any means be
instrumental in saving the life of her dear Bassanio's friend; and notwith-
standing, when she wished to honour her Bassanio, she had said to him with
such a meek and wife-like grace, that she would submit in all things to be
governed by his superior wisdom, yet being now called forth into action by
the peril of her honoured husband's friend, she did nothing doubt her own
powers, and by the sole guidance of her own true and perfect judgment, at
once resolved to go herself to Venice, and speak in Anthonio's defence.
Portia had a relation who was a counsellor in the law; to this gentleman,
whose name was Bellario, she wrote, and stating the case to him desired his
opinion, and that with his advice he would also send her the dress worn by a
counsellor. When the messenger returned, he brought letters from Bellario
of advice how to proceed, and also everything necessary for her equipment.
Portia dressed herself and her maid Nerissa in men's apparel, and putting
on the robes of a counsellor, she took Nerissa along with her as her clerk;
and setting out immediately, they arrived at Venice on the very day of the
trial. The cause was just going to be heard before the duke and senators of
Venice in the senate-house, when Portia entered this high court of justice,
and presented a letter from Bellario, in which that learned counsellor wrote
to the duke, saying, he would have come himself to plead for Anthonio, but
that he was prevented by sickness, and he requested that the learned young
84 Tales from Shakespcare.
doctor Balthasar (so he called Portia) might be permitted to plead in his
stead. This the duke granted, much wondering at the youthful appearance
of the stranger, who was prettily disguised by her counsellor's robes and her
And now began this important trial. Portia looked around her, and she
saw the merciless Jew; and she saw Bassanio, but he knew her not in her
disguise. He was standing beside Anthonio, in an agony of distress and fear
for his friend.
The importance of the arduous task Portia had engaged in gave this
tender lady courage, and she boldly proceeded in the duty she had under-
taken to perform; and first of all she addressed herself to Shylock; and
allowing that he had a right by the Venetian law to have the forfeit expressed
in the bond, she spoke so sweetly of the noble quality of mercy, as would have
softened any heart but the unfeeling Shylock's; saying, that it dropped as
the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath; and how mercy was a
double blessing, it blessed him that gave, and him that received it; and how
it became monarchs better than their crowns, being an attribute of God him-
self; and that earthly power came nearest to God's, in proportion as mercy
tempered justice: and she bid Shylock remember that as we all pray for
mercy, that same prayer should teach us to show mercy. Shylock only
answered her by desiring to have the penalty forfeited in the bond. Is he
not able to pay the money ?" asked Portia. Bassanio then offered the Jew
the payment of the three thousand ducats as many times over as he should
desire; which Shylock refusing, and still insisting upon having a pound of
Anthonio's flesh, Bassanio begged the learned young counsellor would
endeavour to wrest the law a little, to save Anthonio's life. But Portia
gravely answered, that laws once established must never be altered. Shylock
hearing Portia say that the law might not be altered, it seemed to him that
she was pleading in his favour, and he said, A Daniel is come to judgment!
O wise young judge, how I do honour you! How much elder are you than
Portia now desired Shylock to let her look at the bond; and when she
had read it, she said, This bond is forfeited, and by this the Jew may lawfully
The Merchant of Venice. 85
claim a pound of flesh, to be by him cut off nearest Anthonio's heart." Then
she said to Shylock, "Be merciful; take the money, and bid me tear the
bond." But no mercy would the cruel Shylock show; and he said, "By my
soul I swear, there is no power in the tongue of man to alter me." "Why
then, Anthonio," said Portia, "you must prepare your bosom for the knife:"
and while Shylock was sharpening a long knife with great eagerness to cut
off the pound of flesh, Portia said to Anthonio, Have you anything to say ?"
Anthonio with a calm resignation replied, that he had but little to say, for
that he had prepared his mind for death. Then he said to Bassanio, Give
me your hand, Bassanio! Fare you well! Grieve not that I am fallen into
this misfortune for you. Commend me to your honourable wife, and tell her
how I have loved you Bassanio in the deepest affliction replied, Anthonio,
I am married to a wife, who is as dear to me as life itself; but life itself, my
wife, and all the world, are not esteemed with me above your life: I would
lose all, I would sacrifice all to this devil here, to deliver you."
Portia hearing this, though the kind-hearted lady was not at all offended
with her husband for expressing the love he owed to so true a friend as
Anthonio in these strong terms, yet could not help answering, "Your wife
would give you little thanks, if she were present, to hear you make this offer."
And then Gratiano, who loved to copy what his lord did, thought he must
make a speech like Bassanio's, and he said, in Nerissa's hearing, who was
writing in her clerk's dress by the side of Portia, "I have a wife, whom I
protest I love; I wish she were in heaven, if she could but entreat some power
there to change the cruel temper of this currish Jew." "It is well you wish
this behind her back, else you would have but an unquiet house," said Nerissa.
Shylock now cried out impatiently, We trifle time; I pray pronounce
the sentence." And now all was awful expectation in the court, and every
heart was full of grief for Anthonio.
Portia asked if the scales were ready to weigh the flesh ; and she said to
the Jew, Shylock, you must have some surgeon by, lest he bleed to death."
Shylock, whose whole intent was that Anthonio should bleed to death, said,
"It is not so named in the bond." Portia replied, It is not so named in the
bond, but what of that ? It were good you did so much for charity." To this