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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene VII.

As You Like It

Another Part of the Forest

A table set out.Enter DUKE Senior, AMIENS, Lords like Outlaws.

Duke S.I think he be transform’d into a beast,

For I can nowhere find him like a man.

First Lord.My lord, he is but even now gone hence:

Here was he merry, hearing of a song.

Duke S.If he, compact of jars, grow musical,

We shall have shortly discord in the spheres.

Go, seek him: tell him I would speak with him.

First Lord.He saves my labour by his own approach.


Duke S.Why, how now, monsieur! what a life is this,

That your poor friends must woo your company?

What, you look merrily!

Jaq.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 bask’d him in the sun,

And rail’d 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 fortune.’

And then he drew a dial from his poke,

And, looking on it with lack-lustre eye,

Says very wisely, ‘It is ten o’clock;

Thus may we 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.

Duke S.What fool is this?

Jaq.O worthy fool! One that hath been a courtier,

And says, if ladies be but young and fair,

They have the gift to know it; and in his brain,—

Which is as dry as the remainder biscuit

After a voyage,—he hath strange places crammed’d

With observation, the which he vents

In mangled forms. O that I were a fool!

I am ambitious for a motley coat.

Duke S.Thou shalt have one.

Jaq.It is my only suit;

Provided that you weed your better judgments

Of all opinion that grows rank in them

That I am wise. I must have liberty

Withal, as large a charter as the wind,

To blow on whom I please; for so fools have:

And they that are most galled with my folly,

They most must laugh. And why, sir, must they so?

The ‘why’ is plain as way to parish church:

He that a fool doth very wisely hit

Doth very foolishly, although he smart,

Not to seem senseless of the bob; if not,

The wise man’s folly is anatomiz’d

Even by the squandering glances of the fool.

Invest me in my motley; give me leave

To speak my mind, and I will through and through

Cleanse the foul body of th’ infected world,

If they will patiently receive my medicine.

Duke S.Fie on thee! I can tell what thou wouldst do.

Jaq.What, for a counter, would I do, but good?

Duke S.Most mischievous foul sin, in chiding sin:

For thou thyself hast been a libertine,

As sensual as the brutish sting itself;

And all the embossed sores and headed evils,

That thou with licence of free foot hast caught,

Wouldst thou disgorge into the general world.

Jaq.Why, who cries out on pride,

That can therein tax any private party?

Doth it not flow as hugely as the sea,

Till that the weary very means do ebb?

What woman in the city do I name,

When that I say the city-woman bears

The cost of princes on unworthy shoulders?

Who can come in and say that I mean her,

When such a one as she such is her neighbour?

Or what is he of basest function,

That says his bravery is not on my cost,—

Thinking that I mean him,—but therein suits

His folly to the mettle of my speech?

There then; how then? what then? Let me see wherein

My tongue hath wrong’d him: if it do him right,

Then he hath wrong’d himself; if he be free,

Why then, my taxing like a wild goose flies,

Unclaim’d of any man. But who comes here?

Enter ORLANDO, with his sword drawn.

Orl.Forbear, and eat no more.

Jaq.Why, I have eat none yet.

Orl.Nor shalt not, till necessity be serv’d.

Jaq.Of what kind should this cock come of?

Duke S.Art thou thus bolden’d, man, by thy distress,

Or else a rude despiser of good manners,

That in civility thou seem’st so empty?

Orl.You touch’d my vein at first: the thorny point

Of bare distress hath ta’en from me the show

Of smooth civility; yet I am inland bred

And know some nurture. But forbear, I say:

He dies that touches any of this fruit

Till I and my affairs are answered.

Jaq.An you will not be answered with reason,

I must die.

Duke S.What would you have? Your gentleness shall force

More than your force move us to gentleness.

Orl.I almost die for food; and let me have it.

Duke S.Sit down and feed, and welcome to our table.

Orl.Speak you so gently? Pardon me, I pray you:

I thought that all things had been savage here,

And therefore put I on the countenance

Of stern commandment. But whate’er you are

That in this desert inaccessible,

Under the shade of melancholy boughs,

Lose and neglect the creeping hours of time;

If ever you have look’d on better days,

If ever been where bells have knoll’d to church,

If ever sat at any good man’s feast,

If ever from your eyelids wip’d a tear,

And know what ’tis to pity, and be pitied,

Let gentleness my strong enforcement be:

In the which hope I blush, and hide my sword.

Duke S.True is it that we have seen better days,

And have with holy bell been knoll’d to church,

And sat at good men’s feasts, and wip’d our eyes

Of drops that sacred pity hath engender’d;

And therefore sit you down in gentleness

And take upon command what help we have

That to your wanting may be minister’d.

Orl.Then but forbear your food a little while,

Whiles, like a doe, I go to find my fawn

And give it food. There is an old poor man,

Who after me hath many a weary step

Limp’d in pure love: till he be first suffic’d,

Oppress’d with two weak evils, age and hunger,

I will not touch a bit.

Duke S.Go find him out,

And we will nothing waste till you return.

Orl.I thank ye; and be bless’d for your good comfort![Exit.

Duke S.Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy:

This wide and universal theatre

Presents more woful pageants than the scene

Wherein we play in.

Jaq.All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.

And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel,

And shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad

Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,

In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,

With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,

His youthful hose well sav’d, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Re-enter ORLANDO, with ADAM.

Duke S.Welcome. Set down your venerable burden,

And let him feed.

Orl.I thank you most for him.

Adam.So had you need:

I scarce can speak to thank you for myself.

Duke S.Welcome; fall to: I will not trouble you

As yet, to question you about your fortunes.

Give us some music; and, good cousin, sing.



  • Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
  • Thou art not so unkind
  • As man’s ingratitude;
  • Thy tooth is not so keen,
  • Because thou art not seen,
  • Although thy breath be rude,
  • Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
  • Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.
  • Then heigh-ho! the holly!
  • This life is most jolly.
  • Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
  • That dost not bite so nigh
  • As benefits forgot:
  • Though thou the waters warp,
  • Thy sting is not so sharp
  • As friend remember’d not.
  • Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
  • Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.
  • Then heigh-ho! the holly!
  • This life is most jolly.
  • Duke S.If that you were the good Sir Rowland’s son,

    As you have whisper’d faithfully you were,

    And as mine eye doth his effigies witness

    Most truly limn’d and living in your face,

    Be truly welcome hither: I am the duke

    That lov’d your father: the residue of your fortune,

    Go to my cave and tell me. Good old man,

    Thou art right welcome as thy master is.

    Support him by the arm. Give me your hand,

    And let me all your fortunes understand.[Exeunt.