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Success, or loss, what is, or is not, serves
As stuff for these two to make paradoxes.
Nest. And in the imitation of these twain
(Whom, as Ulysses says, opinion crowns
With an imperial voice,) many are infect.
Ajax is grown self-willid; and bears his head
In such a reign, in full as proud a place
As broad Achilles : keeps his tent like him ;
Makes factious feasts ; rails on our state of war,
Bold as an oracle : and sets Thersites
(A slave, whose gall coins slanders like a mint,)
To match us in comparisons with dirt;
To weaken and discredit our exposure,
How rank soever rounded in with danger.
Ulyss. They tax our policy, and call it cowardice;
Count wisdom as no member of the war;
Forestall prescience, and esteem no act
But that of hand : the still and mental parts,
That do contrive how many hands shall strike,
When fitness calls them on; and know, by measure
Of their observant toil, the enemies' weight,
Why, this hath not a finger's dignity :
They call this—bed-work, mappery, closet-war :
So that the ram, that batters down the wall,
For the great swing and rudeness of his poize,
They place before his hand that made the engine;
Or those, that with the fineness of their souls
By reason guide his execution.
Nest. Let this be granted, and Achilles' horse Makes many Thetis' sons. [Trumpet sounds.
Agam. What trumpet ? look, Menelaus.
Men. From Troy.
Agam. What would you 'fore our tent ?
Great Agamemnon's tent, I pray?
Even this. Æne. May one, that is a herald, and a prince, Do a fair message to his kingly ears?
Agam. With surety stronger than Achilles' arm 'Fore all the Greekish heads, which with one voice Call Agamemnon head and general.
Æne. Fair leave, and large security. How may
A stranger to those most imperial looks
Know them from eyes of other mortals ?
I ask, that I might waken reverence,
And bịd the cheek be ready with a blush
Modest as morning when she coldly eyes
The youthful Phoebus :
Which is that god in office, guiding men ?
Which is the high and mighty Agamemnon?
Agam. This Trojan scorns us; or the men of Troy Are ceremonious courtiers.
Æne. Courtiers as free, as debonair, unarm'd, As bending angels; that's their fame in peace : But when they would seem soldiers, they have galls, Good arms, strong joints, true swords; and, Jove's
accord, Nothing so full of heart. But peace, Æneas, Peace, Trojan ; lay thy finger on thy lips !
The worthiness of praise distains his worth,
If that the prais'd himself bring the praise forth :
But what the repining enemy commends,
That breath fame follows; that praise, sole pure,
Agam. Sir, you of Troy, call you yourself Æneas?
Æne. Ay, Greek, that is my name.
What's your affair, I pray you? Æne. Sir, pardon ; 'tis for Agamemnon's ears. Agam. He hears nought privately, that comes from
Æne. Nor I from Troy come not to whisper him:
I bring a trumpet to awake his ear ;
To set his sense on the attentive bent,
And then to speak.
Speak frankly, as the wind;
It is not Agamemnon's sleeping hour :
That thou shalt know, Trojan, he is awake,
He tells thee so himself.
Trumpet, blow loud,
Send thy brass voice through all these lazy tents;
And every Greek of mettle, let him know,
What Troy means fairly, shall be spoke aloud.
[Trumpet sounds. We have, great Agamemnon, here in Troy A prince call'd Hector, (Priam is his father,) Who in this dull and long-continued truce Is rusty grown; he bade me take a trumpet, And to this purpose speak. Kings, princes, lords ! If there be one, among the fair’st of Greece, That holds his honour higher than his ease;
That seeks his praise more than he fears his peril;
That knows his valour, and knows 'not his fear ;
That loves his mistress more than in confession,
(With truant vows to her own lips he loves,)
And dare avow her beauty and her worth,
In other arms than hers,--to him this challenge.
Hector, in view of Trojans and of Greeks,
Shall make it good, or do his best to do it,
He hath a lady, wiser, fairer, truer,
Than ever Greek did compass in his arms;
And will to-morrow with his trumpet call,
Mid-way between your tents and walls of Troy,
To rouse a Grecian that is true in love :
If any come, Hector shall honour him;
If none, he'll say in Troy, when he retires,
The Grecian dames are sun-burn'd, and not worth
The splinter of a lance. Even so much.
Agam. This shall be told our lovers, lord Æneas;
If none of them have soul in such a kind,
We left them all at home : But we are soldiers;
that soldier a mere recreant prove,
That means not, hath not, or is not in love!
If then one is, or hath, or means to be,
That one meets Hector ; if none else, I am he.
Nest. Tell him of Nestor, one that was a man
When Hector's grandsire suck'd: he is old now;
But, if there be not in our Grecian host
One noble man, that hath one spark of fire
To answer for his love, Tell him from me,
I'll hide my silver beard in a gold beaver,
And in my vantbrace' put this wither'd brawn;
And, meeting him, will tell him, That my lady
Was fairer than his grandame, and as chaste
As may be in the world : His youth in flood,
I'll prove this truth with my three drops of blood.
Æne. Now heavens forbid such scarcity of youth!
Agam. Fair lord Æneas, let me touch your hand; To our pavilion shall I lead you, sir. Achilles shall have word of this intent; So shall each lord of Greece, from tent to tent : Yourself shall feast with us before you go, And find the welcome of a noble foe.
[E.ceunt all but ULYSSES and NESTOR, Ulyss. Nestor, Nest. What says Ulysses ?
Ulyss. I have a young conception in my brain, Be you my time to bring it to some shape.
Nest. What is't?
Ulyss. This 'tis :
Blunt wedges rive hard knots : The seeded pride
That hath to this maturity blown up
In rank Achilles, must or now be cropp'd,
Or, shedding, breed a nursery of like evil,
To overbulk us all.
Well, and how?
Ulyss. This challenge that the gallant Hector sends,
However it is spread in general name,
Relates in purpose only to Achilles.
Nest. The purpose is perspicuous even as substance, Whose grossness little characters sum up : And, in the publication, make no strain,