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

Act II. Scene I.

As You Like It

The Forest of Arden.

Enter DUKE Senior, AMIENS, and other Lords, like Foresters.

Duke S.Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,

Hath not old custom made this life more sweet

Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods

More free from peril than the envious court?

Here feel we but the penalty of Adam,

The seasons’ difference; as, the icy fang

And churlish chiding of the winter’s wind,

Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,

Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say

‘This is no flattery: these are counsellors

That feelingly persuade me what I am.’

Sweet are the uses of adversity,

Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,

Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;

And this our life exempt from public haunt,

Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,

Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.

I would not change it.

Ami.Happy is your Grace,

That can translate the stubbornness of fortune

Into so quiet and so sweet a style.

Duke S.Come, shall we go and kill us venison?

And yet it irks me, the poor dappled fools,

Being native burghers of this desert city,

Should in their own confines with forked heads

Have their round haunches gor’d.

First Lord.Indeed, my lord,

The melancholy Jaques grieves at that;

And, in that kind, swears you do more usurp

Than doth your brother that hath banish’d you.

To-day my Lord of Amiens and myself

Did steal behind him as he lay along

Under an oak whose antique root peeps out

Upon the brook that brawls along this wood;

To the which place a poor sequester’d stag,

That from the hunters’ aim had ta’en a hurt,

Did come to languish; and, indeed, my lord,

The wretched animal heav’d forth such groans

That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat

Almost to bursting, and the big round tears

Cours’d one another down his innocent nose

In piteous chase; and thus the hairy fool,

Much marked of the melancholy Jaques,

Stood on the extremest verge of the swift brook,

Augmenting it with tears.

Duke S.But what said Jaques?

Did he not moralize this spectacle?

First Lord.O, yes, into a thousand similes.

First, for his weeping into the needless stream;

‘Poor deer,’ quoth he, ‘thou mak’st a testament

As worldlings do, giving thy sum of more

To that which had too much:’ then, being there alone,

Left and abandon’d of his velvet friends;

‘’Tis right,’ quoth he; ‘thus misery doth part

The flux of company:’ anon, a careless herd,

Full of the pasture, jumps along by him

And never stays to greet him; ‘Ay,’ quoth Jaques,

‘Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens;

’Tis just the fashion; wherefore do you look

Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there?’

Thus most invectively he pierceth through

The body of the country, city, court,

Yea, and of this our life; swearing that we

Are mere usurpers, tyrants, and what’s worse,

To fright the animals and to kill them up

In their assign’d and native dwelling-place.

Duke S.And did you leave him in this contemplation?

Sec. Lord.We did, my lord, weeping and commenting

Upon the sobbing deer.

Duke S.Show me the place.

I love to cope him in these sullen fits,

For then he’s full of matter.

Sec. Lord.I’ll bring you to him straight.[Exeunt.