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57

IN PRAISE OF JESTERS

AQUES, the melancholy philosopher of As You

LIKE IT, tells of a colloquy he has just had with the fool Touchstone,

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A fool, a fool! I met a fool i' the forest,
A motley fool; a miserable world!
As I do live by food, I met a fool;
Who laid him down and basked him in the sun,
And railed on Lady Fortune in good terms,
In good set terms and yet a motley fool.
"Good morrow, fool," quoth I. "No, sir," quoth he,
“Call me not fool till heaven hath sent me ortune
And then he drew a dial from his poke,
And, looking on it with lack-luster eye,
Says very wisely, “It is ten o'clock:
Thus we may see,” quoth he, “how the world wags:
'Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,
And after one hour more 'twill be eleven;
And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.” When I did hear
The motley fool thus moral on the time,
My lungs began to crow like chanticleer,
That fools should be so deep-contemplative,
And I did laugh sans intermission
An hour by his dial. O noble fool!
A worthy fool! Motley's the only wear.

William Shakespeare oral: moralize

58

THE STUFF OF DREAMS 1

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ROSPERO, having dismissed a company of

spirits which by his magic art he had raised up and caused to enact a pastoral scene, comments upon the vanished spectacle, and muses upon human life.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare

59

THE PURITAN AND THE MAN

OF THE WORLD 2

PHIL

,

HILINTE. Come, why so hot, Alceste?
Alceste.

Leave me, I say!
Ph. But why this groundless anger, tell me, pray?
Al. Leave me, sir, I repeat. Out of my sight!
Ph. Come, don't be angry. Listen!

Listen! Is it right

i From The Tempest.

2 Le Misanthrope, Act I. F. Giese. Copyright, 1926.

From a forthcoming translation by William

Inherit: possess, inhabit

Rack: cloud

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.

Al. I will be angry, and won't listen! Zounds!

Ph. Be calm, Alceste, and do not chafe your wounds. Though I'm your friend,—I vow, this strange disease

Al. You are my friend no longer, if you please!
The bond is snapped that held through many a year;
When in your soul such ugly blots appear
I tell you outright you and I must part:
I want no place in a corrupted heart.

Ph. What are these ugly blots on my fair fame?

Al. Go to, sir; you should die for very shame!
Heaven holds no pardon for such monstrous deeds,
And
every

honest heart that sees them bleeds!
You meet a random passer, you caress him
Straightway, you grasp him, clasp him, press him, bless him;
You bow and scrape, you flatter and cajole,
And swear you're his forever, heart and soul;
Yet, once he's gone, your hot zeal grows so tame,
Your love so cool, that if I ask his name,
You hem and haw—you really can't recall-
You've scarcely heard his name three times in all!
Just Heaven! It's base, it's vile, it's infamous,
To fawn, to lie, and to dissemble thus!
And if, unhappily, I'd done the same,
id go and hang myself to hide my shame.

Ph. Come, come! This is no hangable offense; read the statutes in a different sense; Ind, spite the violence of your decrees, do not mean to hang yet, if you please. Al. Who cannot reason answers with a gibe. Ph. Who cannot reason lets his friends prescribe.

Al. Agreed! let men be true and play no part, ind let the lips be heralds to the heart.

Ph. What! if some friend embraces me with passion, hall I not pay him in the self-same fashion,

Treat his advances as transcendent matters,
Praise when he praises, flatter when he flatters?
Al. No! I denounce this

mercenary

code That 'mong your modish people is the mode; There's naught I hate more than the vile grimaces Of these same flatterers with their smiling faces, Who always greet you with wide-outstretched arms, Who find your thoughts all wise, your speech all charms, And with strained courtesies that never cool O’erwhelm alike the wise man and the fool. What does it profit me to find a friend Who swears faith, zeal, esteem, love without end, And lauds

my

virtue with a tender touch,
If the first rogue may hear him say as much?
No honest soul, legitimately proud,
Will care for plaudits lavished on the crowd,
And finely tempered spirits stand averse
From praises shared by all the universe.
Esteem is founded upon preference:
A common love offends my common sense;
And since you share these vices of the age,
I give you up! It puts me in a rage
To see the vast indulgence of your heart
That gives to each and all an equal part.
I crave selection on this note I end:
The friend of all mankind is not my friend.

Ph. But in a world by forms and fashions swayed Fair words received are with fair words repaid.

Al. No—I repeat—my choler overflows
At this vile trafficking in hollow shows.
Let men lay bare their thoughts, and in all places
Proclaim their inmost feelings in their faces;
Let the heart speak, and let no lying mask
Distort the simple truth—that's all I ask.

Ph. But there are some occasions when pure truth
May be offensive, mischievous, uncouth!
And now and then-rail as you will—we ought
With timely speech to veil untimely thought.
Would it be wise or decent, when we doubt
A friend's good faith, to blurt that feeling out?
If we dislike a man, or think him base,
Vile, loathsome, shall we say so—to his face?

Al. Yes!
Ph.

What! And would you dare, full jump,
To tell old Emily that she's a frump-
And how her paint and powder scandalize?

Al. I would!
Ph.

Or tell proud Dorilas it is not wise
To blazon his great blood, lest the whole court
Make him and all his ancestry their sport?

Al. I would!
Ph.

You jest.
Al.

I do not. 'Tis my plan Upon this point to spare no mortal man. My soul is sickened. All the world's a stage Where every act augments my towering rage. For what is seen in all this motley throng Of wrangling actors but triumphant wrong Lording it over right, and mad unreason Flattered and fed by roguery and treason? 'Tis past enduring! And from this time forth I'll tell each knave and fool his proper worth! Ph. This frantic humor is too fierce by half,

wild outbursts only make me laugh. Were friends by diverse tempers e'er so swayed? We're like those brothers by Molière portrayed .

Al. I pray you, drop these stale similitudes.
Ph. And I beseech you, shun these savage moods.

And your

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